Archive for April 7th, 2008

Secret US plan for military future in Iraq

Sudhan @08:25 CET

Seumas Milne, The Guardian, Tuesday April 8 2008

US troops conduct a foot patrol along the Tigris river south of Baghdad, Iraq

US troops conduct a foot patrol along the Tigris river south of Baghdad, Iraq. Photograph: David Furst/AFP/Getty images

A confidential draft agreement covering the future of US forces in Iraq, passed to the Guardian, shows that provision is being made for an open-ended military presence in the country.

The draft strategic framework agreement between the US and Iraqi governments, dated March 7 and marked “secret” and “sensitive”, is intended to replace the existing UN mandate and authorises the US to “conduct military operations in Iraq and to detain individuals when necessary for imperative reasons of security” without time limit.

The authorisation is described as “temporary” and the agreement says the US “does not desire permanent bases or a permanent military presence in Iraq”. But the absence of a time limit or restrictions on the US and other coalition forces – including the British – in the country means it is likely to be strongly opposed in Iraq and the US.

Iraqi critics point out that the agreement contains no limits on numbers of US forces, the weapons they are able to deploy, their legal status or powers over Iraqi citizens, going far beyond long-term US security agreements with other countries. The agreement is intended to govern the status of the US military and other members of the multinational force.

Continued . . .

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By- Suzie-Q @ 8:30 PM MST

Rove’s attorney says Rove would testify if subpoenaed in Siegelman case.»

Last night on 60 Minutes, former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman said the congressional Judiciary committees should call on Karl Rove to testify about his case. Tonight, Rove’s attorney Robert Luskin said Rove will testify if subpoenaed by Congress. MSNBC’s Dan Abrams reported:

ABRAMS: We asked this question to his attorney: Will Karl Rove agree to testify if Congress issues a subpoena to him as part of an investigation into the Siegelman case? The answer we got — “Sure.”

Abrams noted Karl Rove refused to testify when subpoenaed by Congress in the U.S. Attorney scandal, but appears willing to do so in this case. Siegelman responded, “Well, then let’s don’t waste any time. I think the House and Senate Judiciary Committees should subpoena Karl Rove.” Asked if he was surprised by Rove’s pledge, Siegelman said, “I’ll be surprised if he does” testify.

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Conservatives: What Do They Have Up Their Sleeve?

By- Suzie-Q @ 5:30 PM MST

Conservatives Planning New Attack Group for Election

It’s only April, but we’ve already begun to see a flowering of outside groups. The hyper-conservative Common Sense Issues unleashed robo-voiced push polls on more than 11 million households on Mike Huckabee’s behalf. A liberal group called Campaign To Defend America has already unloaded a $1 million ad buy tying John McCain to George Bush. And the casino mogul backed conservative group Freedom’s Watch is still revving its engines.

But there is much, much, much more to come. And The Boston Globe reports that Republican insiders appear to be favoring a separate vehicle to go after Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL). As one Republican strategist tells the Globe, “They’re beginning to put the book together on Obama.”

What this new group will be called isn’t clear. But it will probably be quarterbacked and funded by some of the likely suspects. Some of the bigger Swift Boat Vets for Truth funders are sure to chip in, the Globe reports. And “the chairman and founding partner of DCI Group, Tom Synhorst, is helping lead the new third-party effort this year, according to GOP strategists familiar with the plans.”

As Josh pointed out last week, Doug Davenport, a partner at DCI Group, has joined Sen. John McCain’s (R-AZ) campaign as a regional campaign manager.

As the Globe reports, Republicans know they have lots of catching up to do:

Part of what’s driving Republicans’ interest in independent groups this year is the tremendous fund-raising advantage the Democratic presidential candidates have. Obama and Clinton raised nearly as much in March as McCain had overall through February.

Now, what might this group end up doing? Well, the new group is likely to closely resemble Progress for America, a DCI-run effort that ran a spate of negative ads against John Kerry, along with one memorable “positive” ad, “Ashley’s Story,” which showed George Bush comforting a teenager whose mother had been killed on 9/11 (“He’s the most powerful man in the world and all he wants to do is make sure I’m safe.”). The group spent over $14 million airing the ad in the last weeks of the election.

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Obama Bowling But No Britney News? Where Is The MSM?

By- Suzie-Q @ 12:00 PM MST

From: Carpetbagger Report

Bowling vs. the Fourth Amendment

Glenn makes an observation that warrants repeating, far and wide.

In the past two weeks, the following events transpired. A Department of Justice memo, authored by John Yoo, was released which authorized torture and presidential lawbreaking. It was revealed that the Bush administration declared the Fourth Amendment of the Bill of Rights to be inapplicable to “domestic military operations” within the U.S. The U.S. Attorney General appears to have fabricated a key event leading to the 9/11 attacks and made patently false statements about surveillance laws and related lawsuits. Barack Obama went bowling in Pennsylvania and had a low score.

Here are the number of times, according to NEXIS, that various topics have been mentioned in the media over the past thirty days:

“Yoo and torture” – 102

“Mukasey and 9/11″ — 73

“Yoo and Fourth Amendment” — 16

“Obama and bowling” — 1,043

“Obama and Wright” — More than 3,000 (too many to be counted)

“Obama and patriotism” – 1,607

“Clinton and Lewinsky” — 1,079

I don’t have anything insightful to add to this; I just wanted to mention it.

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Afternoon Jukebox… Benny & The Jets

By- Suzie-Q @ 11:55 AM MST

Elton John-Benny & The Jets

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GEF @ 10:08 AM MST

Marci Kaptur North American Union Canada Mexico NWO POVERTY

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posted by anthony @ 17:28 BST

Nick Juliano – Monday April 7, 2008

John McCain’s temper is well documented. He’s called opponents and colleagues “shitheads,” “assholes” and in at least one case “a fucking jerk.”

But a new book on the presumptive Republican nominee will air perhaps the most shocking angry exchange to date.

The Real McCain by Cliff Schecter, which will arrive in bookstores next month, reports an angry exchange between McCain and his wife that happened in full view of aides and reporters during a 1992 campaign stop. An advance copy of the book was obtained by RAW STORY.

Three reporters from Arizona, on the condition of anonymity, also let me in on another incident involving McCain’s intemperateness. In his 1992 Senate bid, McCain was joined on the campaign trail by his wife, Cindy, as well as campaign aide Doug Cole and consultant Wes Gullett. At one point, Cindy playfully twirled McCain’s hair and said, “You’re getting a little thin up there.” McCain’s face reddened, and he responded, “At least I don’t plaster on the makeup like a trollop, you cunt.” McCain’s excuse was that it had been a long day. If elected president of the United States, McCain would have many long days.

The man who was known as “McNasty” in high school has erupted in foul-languaged tirades at political foes and congressional colleagues more-or-less throughout his career, and his quickness to anger has been an issue on the presidential campaign trail as evidence of his fury has surfaced.

As Schecter notes, McCain’s rage is not limited to the political spectrum, and even his family cannot be spared the brute force of his anger.


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By- Suzie-Q @ 9:00 AM MST

Insider: Iraq Attack Was Preemptive

Pentagon Insider Tells 60 Minutes U.S. Attack On Iraq Was Anticipatory Self-Defense; Not 9/11 Retaliation

April 6, 2008

(CBS) The name Douglas Feith may not mean much to most Americans, but to students of the Iraq War and historians already studying it, he is one of the main architects.

From 2001 to 2005, Feith was under secretary of defense for policy and the No. 3 man at the Pentagon, intimately involved both pre-war strategy and post-war planning. His boss, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, called Feith one of the most brilliant individuals in government but he has also been a lightning rod for criticism and a magnet for blame.

In a new book, which has been called the first insider account of decision making in Iraq, Feith defends much and apologizes for very little. But he offers some unusual insights about the path to war.

Feith discussed his memoir with 60 Minutes correspondent Steve Kroft.

Kroft begins by asking, “Why did the United States invade Iraq?” Feith responds, “The President decided that the threats from the Saddam Hussein regime were so great that if we had left him in power, we would be fighting him down the road, at a time and place of his choosing.”

If Feith doesn’t look or sound much like a warrior that’s because he isn’t; he’s an intellectual, a hawkish, neo-conservative defense policy wonk, who occupied one of the top rungs on the Pentagon ladder, playing a key role in shaping the military’s response to 9/11 and the decision to go to war with Saddam Hussein.

Asked why was the decision made to go after Saddam Hussein after 9/11, when even then, the United States government realized Saddam didn’t have anything to do with the attacks, Feith answers, “What we did after 9/11 was look broadly at the international terrorist network from which the next attack on the United States might come. And we did not focus narrowly only on the people who were specifically responsible for 9/11. Our main goal was preventing the next attack.”

Kroft follows up, asking, “So you’re saying you didn’t think it was that important to go after the people who were responsible for it — more important to go after people who weren’t responsible for it?”

“No,” Feith explains, “I think it was important to go after the people who were responsible for 9/11. But it was also important to disrupt the international terrorist networks and prevent whatever plans there were for follow-on attacks.”

Kroft observes that using those standards, the U.S. could have invaded North Korea or Syria or Iran.
Feith concedes the point, but counters that Iraq was a special case, in large part, because of Saddam’s record.


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Third US Airline To Fold In A Week..

GEF @ 8:08 AM MST

Skybus Ends Service, Third Airline to Fold This Week

By Nancy Kercheval

April 5 (Bloomberg) — Skybus Airlines Inc., a U.S. low- fare carrier that started operations less than a year ago, stopped service today, the third airline to shut down this week as fuel costs soared and the economy slowed.

The closely held, Columbus, Ohio-based airline began offering service May 22 with some tickets as low as $10 for a four-hour flight. It will seek bankruptcy protection next week.

Aloha Airgroup Inc., a closely held Hawaiian airline that filed for bankruptcy protection, ended service April 1 when it couldn’t find a buyer or financing to stay in business. ATA Airlines Inc., a Midwest carrier based in Indianapolis, shut down the following day when it sought bankruptcy protection, blaming its demise on high fuel prices and the loss of a contract for military charter flights.

“Nobody has a long-term viable business plan that can be sustained at these jet-fuel prices,” said Darryl Jenkins, an airline consultant. “This is a killer category. We’re probably going to see some more casualties out there.”

About 90 percent of airline routes probably aren’t profitable, Jenkins said. “What do you do in a situation like that?”

Jet Fuel

Jet fuel has increased 62 percent in the past year, including a 3.7 percent rise to almost $3.20 per gallon this week, according to the International Air Transport Association, a trade group representing 240 airlines. The typical Airbus A319 flown by Skybus pilots carries 6,300 gallons of fuel.

“Skybus struggled to overcome the combination of rising jet fuel costs and a slowing economic environment,” the company said. “These two issues proved to be insurmountable for a new carrier.”

Skybus operated a fleet of 11 Airbus jetliners and served 15 cities.

The company will file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Delaware on April 7, Skybus spokesman Bob Tenenbaum said.

“This is a shutdown,” he said. “All of (the aircraft) will end up in the bankruptcy proceeding.”

Passengers were urged to contact their credit-card companies to arrange for refunds for any flights scheduled after April 4.

Copying Ryanair

Skybus attempted to follow the lead of Ryanair Holdings Plc, Europe’s biggest discount airline which often gives away tickets while charging fees for baggage and selling merchandise and ad space in cabins. Skybus flight attendants charged for drinks and food onboard and sold products such as perfume.

At the time of Skybus’s inaugural flights, Chief Executive Officer Bill Diffenderffer said he was “embarrassed” that the airline’s fares were as high as $10. Fares initially were expected to make up 85 percent of revenue.

The carrier promised to sell at least 10 seats per flight for $10, with the remainder costing at least 50 percent below the market price, Diffenderffer said in May.

In the beginning, the company said it had raised more than $100 million in financing from investors, including 20 Columbus- area backers and firms such as Morgan Stanley, and had $57 million in state and city funding and incentives.

Skybus in 2006 placed an order for 65 Airbus A319s, with a list price of $4.3 billion.

The first four planes, which were to be delivered in late 2008, were financed through Singapore-based BOC Aviation, a subsidiary of the Bank of China, which agreed in November to finance 13 additional aircraft with a list price of more than $750 million. The second order was scheduled to be delivered in 2009 and 2010.

“There’s a tremendous demand for A319s,” said Airbus SAS spokesman Clay McConnell. “We are absolutely confident all these planes will find good homes.”

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By- Suzie-Q @ 7:00 AM MST

Mortgage Bankers Association finding it harder to pay its own mortgage.»

The Washington Post notes that last year, the “Mortgage Bankers Association was thrilled to sign a contract to buy a fancy new headquarters building in downtown Washington.” Since then, however, the group “has fallen on tough times as many of the subprime mortgages dispensed by some of its members proved dicey.” The result is that the group is now finding it “harder than it imagined to pay its own mortgage“:

Scheduled to close on the building in the coming weeks, the association will have to pay millions of dollars more than it would have a year ago when it contracted to buy the 160,000-square-foot structure — millions of dollars it is now less able to afford. […]

Critics also see irony — and some justice — in this predicament. “They are certainly getting what they deserve,” said Dean Baker, co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research, a liberal research group. “Mortgage bankers encouraged people to take out mortgages that were very risky, and the result of that was a large number of the mortgages went bad and caused mortgage interest rates to soar. Now they are the victims of high mortgage rates and chaos in the market more generally.”

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