Archive for June 17th, 2008

Unitary Executive = Dictator!

GEF @ 3:28 PM MST

Bush threatens Iran with military action

By Colin Brown, Deputy Political Editor

George Bush has warned Iran that military action is still “on the table” if it fails to respond to tightening diplomatic pressure to abandon its nuclear weapons programme.

The EU is planning to announce the freezing of all overseas assets of the main bank in Iran. Sanctions are also to be tightened on gas and oil exports by Iran.

But the US President’s remarks on the last leg of his “farewell tour” of Europe raised fears at Westminster that Mr Bush is determined to take action against Iran before he leaves office in January if the sanctions fail to force Tehran to abandon its nuclear weapons ambitions.

Standing alongside the President after more than an hour of talks in Downing Street, Gordon Brown surprised EU council officials by announcing that the EU intends to intensify its sanctions on Iran, including freezing the billions of euros in overseas assets of the Melli Bank of Iran.

But Mr Bush left no doubt that the US is holding military action in reserve. Thanking Mr Brown for keeping together the European alliance “so that we can solve this problem diplomatically”, Mr Bush said: “That is my first choice. The Iranians must understand that all options are on the table, however.”

The EU foreign policy chief Xavier Solana delivered a more generous offer to the Iranian regime at the weekend and is now awaiting its reply. It includes help in developing civil nuclear power and extending economic assistance if Iran stops enriching uranium to produce weapons-grade plutonium. Ali Larijani, the Speaker of the Iranian Parliament, promised to “carefully study the package”.

EU council officials said tougher sanctions were not on the agenda when Mr Solana briefed his officials but Downing Street insisted sanctions were being prepared. It is likely they will be implemented next week.

Mr Brown said: “Our message to the Iranian people is you do not have to choose the path of confrontation. The latest round of talks with the Iranians took place over the weekend. We put our enhanced offer on the table including political and economic partnership including nuclear technology for civilian use.

“We await the Iranian response and will do everything to maintain the dialogue but we are also clear that if Iran continues to ignore UN resolutions and our offer of partnership, we have no choice but to intensify sanctions.”

A spokesman for the Stop the War Coalition, which protested against Mr Bush’s arrival at Downing Street on Sunday, said: “Bush has been travelling round Europe trying to secure support for sanctions and a possible future attack on Iran.”

Mr Brown also announced that Britain is sending more troops to Afghanistan as the bodies of five soldiers killed in action last week were brought home. About 400 support staff are being withdrawn, but 630 more troops are being flown out.

Mr Brown is due to announce troop withdrawals from Basra before the summer recess of Parliament at the end of next month.

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The Danger Obama Faces Is Real

By- Suzie-Q @ 12:05 PM MST

The Danger Obama Faces Is Real

By Earl Ofari Hutchinson, AlterNet. Posted June 13, 2008

America’s history of hate and violence is more than enough reason to be concerned about the safety of prominent political figures like Barack Obama.

Hoax, cheap stunt, crank, crackpot, racist, and sick, were some the terms tossed at artist Yazmany Arboleda and his exhibit, “The Assassination of Hillary Clinton & The Assassination of Barack Obama,” at galleries in midtown New York. Secret Service agents and NYPD officials quickly moved in and yanked down the assorted painted nooses and garish pictures of Obama from the building. The exhibit may have been an artist’s stunt to get his name in the papers but it did again point to the real fear that legions quietly whisper and openly voice about the danger of physical violence to Obama. It is not a paranoid or false fear.

This year marks the fortieth anniversary of the assassinations of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Robert F. Kennedy, and the forty fifth anniversary of JFK’s assassination. These three icons represented the best and brightest in leaders, and stirred the hope and longing of millions for change, and a full throttle fight against poverty and racial injustice. These are the exact qualities that Obama symbolizes to millions. But in some ways the luster on Obama’s star at this stage of his career outshines that of King and the Kennedys. Unlike the Kennedys he’s an African-American. Unlike King he’s the first African-American presidential candidate that could win. And unlike King and the Kennedys he has drawn an instant global throng of admirers who see in him as the embodiment of change and a fresh direction for U.S. policy on the war and the easing of global tensions. He’s also seen as a potential president who can put a diverse, humane face on American foreign policy.

But these very same qualities stir deep fury, hatred and resentment among a handful of loose-screwed malcontents and hate mongers. The thick list of fringe and hate groups as well as the hordes of unbalanced, violence prone individuals running loose in America can fill a telephone book. The long history of hate violence in America is more than enough reason to be concerned about the danger of violence against prominent political figures.

The first troubling hint of this with Obama came virtually from the moment that he announced in February 2007 that he was a presidential candidate. The personal death threats quickly began flooding in. Obama had the dubious distinction of being the earliest presidential contender to be assigned Secret Service protection on the campaign trail. That didn’t satisfy some. Mississippi Congressman Bennie Thompson fired off a letter to Secret Service officials practically demanding that the Secret Service provide all the resources and personnel it could to ensure Obama and the other presidential candidates safety. Thompson didn’t say exactly what prompted him to fret over whether the Secret Service was doing all it could to protect the candidates, but almost certainly Thompson heard the whispers and nervous questions from his constituents about Obama’s safety. As the crowds grew bigger at Obama rallies and his public visibility grew even greater, the Secret Service increased the number of agents assigned to guard him. The ramp up in protection was a good move. At the same time, Obama campaign aides and volunteers continued to report occasional racial taunts and jibes when they passed out literature and pitched Obama in some areas. This further increased the jitters that Obama was at risk. As the showdown with John McCain heats up in the coming months, the flood of crank, crackpot, and screwball threats that promise murder and mayhem toward Obama almost certainly will continue to pour in. This just as certainly will prompt the Secret Service to tighten security and take even more elaborate measures to ensure his safety. The Secret Service, of course, must spare no effort to make sure he’s fully protected.

That won’t totally ease the fears about his safety. But it will show that the government is doing everything humanly possible to ensure his safety. That’s especially important given the deep doubt and even paranoid suspicion that some blacks have that shadowy government agencies were deeply complicit in the assassination of King, and the fervent belief of millions of other Americans that the CIA or other shadowy government agencies were deeply complicit in the killing, if not outright murder of JFK.

Obama was one year old when JFK was killed. He was six years old when King and Kennedy were slain. But he well knows the horrid violent history of America and the very real danger that violence poses to a charismatic presidential candidate who energizes and excites millions and who promises political change and, implicitly, racial change. He can easily laugh off a phony, self-serving stunt such as an assassination exhibit, but he can’t laugh off the danger to presidents and those who aspire to be presidents of that violence.

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Afternoon Jukebox… One of the Living

By- Suzie-Q @ 12:00 PM MST

Tina Turner- One of the Living

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Bu$h Promotes Nukes for Oil in Saudi Arabia

by Geezer Power…7:44 am

Congressman Ed Markey asks Dept of Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman about President Bush’s recent trip to Saudi Arabia, where Bush discussed helping Saudi Arabia develop nuclear power.

Bush in Saudi Arabia for Nuclear Deal

By Scott Stearns
16 May 2008

U.S. President George Bush is in Saudi Arabia for talks with King Abdullah marking the 75th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Washington and Riyadh. VOA White House Correspondent Scott Stearns reports, the two leaders are expected to reach agreement on civilian nuclear technology.

President Bush and King Abdullah inspected a military honor guard in Riyadh before private talks at the king’s horse farm outside the capital.

They will discuss a deal to help the kingdom develop civilian nuclear power for medical and industrial uses as well as generating electricity. The agreement provides access to safe, reliable fuel sources for nuclear reactors and demonstrates what the Bush Administration calls Saudi leadership as a non-proliferation model for the region.

The agreement expands cooperation to better safeguard the kingdom’s vast oil reserves and its pipeline distribution system, as well as borders.

As part of the deal, Saudi Arabia joins a global initiative to combat nuclear terrorism to enhance the protection of nuclear systems and improve its ability to detect and confiscate illegally held nuclear material.

The kingdom also joins an international alliance to combat the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and related materials, including delivery systems.

President Bush says he will ask King Abdullah to boost Saudi oil production to drive down record energy prices. A similar request in January was denied as Saudi output has held steady at just over 8.5 million barrels a day.

Relations between Washington and Riyadh are strained by the war in Iraq. Unlike the first Gulf War when Saudi Arabia boosted oil production and helped pay for the liberation of Kuwait, the kingdom opposed America’s 2003 invasion to topple Saddam Hussein.

U.S. National Security Advisor Steve Hadley says it remains a partnership of common interests.


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McCain’s Military Record Questioned…

By- Suzie-Q @ 7:00 AM MST

McCain’s Secret, Questionable Record

Huffington Post
Jeffrey Klein

Posted June 16, 2008 | 08:50 PM (EST)

“At a meeting in his Pentagon office in early 1981, Secretary of the Navy John F. Lehman told Capt. John S. McCain III that he was about to attain his life ambition: becoming an admiral…. Mr. McCain declined the prospect of his first admiral’s star to make a run for Congress, saying that he could ‘do more good there,’ Mr. Lehman recalled.” So claimed the New York Times in a front-page article on May 29 this year.

This story is highly improbable for several reasons, not least of all because John McCain himself has always told a very different story about his stalled naval career. For example, on page 9 of his memoir Worth The Fighting For, McCain writes:

“Several months before my father died, I informed him that I was leaving the navy. I am sure he had gotten word of my decision from friends in the Pentagon. I had been summoned to see the CNO, Admiral Heyward, who told me I was making a mistake…. His attempt to dissuade me encouraged me to believe that I might have made admiral had I remained in the navy, a prospect that remained an open question in my mind…. Some of my navy friends believed I could earn my star; others doubted it…. When I told my father of my intention, he did not remonstrate me…. But I knew him well enough to know that he was disappointed. For when I left him that day, alone in his study, I took with me his hope that I might someday become the first son and grandson of four-star admirals to achieve the same distinction. That aspiration was well beyond my reach by the time I made my decision….”

McCain’s father died on March 22, 1981. McCain retired from the Navy within a week. He wrote about his retirement soon thereafter. McCain never mentioned the alleged offer of an admiralship by Lehman in any of his books, nor in the numerous interviews McCain gave during his first run for the presidency in 1999-2000.


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Sudhan @11:37 CET

Think Progress, June 16, 2008

During an interview with President Bush on Britain’s Sky News yesterday, Sky political editor Adam Boulton noted that while Bush talks “a lot about freedom,” there are many who say that some of the Bush administration’s torture and detention policies represent “the complete opposite of freedom.” But Bush quickly snapped back, saying those criticizing his policies are slandering America:

BOULTON: There are those who would say look, lets take Guantanamo Bay, and Abu Ghraib, and rendition and all those things and to them that is the complete opposite of freedom.

BUSH: Of course, if you want to slander America.

Watch it (beginning at 15:50):

So, according to Bush, below is a short — but by no means exhaustive — list of those who have suggested that Bush’s terrorism policies represent “the opposite of freedom” and thus have slandered America:

The United States Supreme Court: The Court ruled last week that “terrorism suspects held at Guantanamo Bay have a right to seek their release in federal court” saying that Bush’s policy compromised “the Constitution’s guarantee of liberty.”

The Federal Bureau of Investigation: An FBI report issued last month said that according to its agents, “[m]ilitary officials at Guantanamo Bay used some aggressive techniques before they were approved, possibly in violation of Defense Department policy and U.S. law.”

McClatchy Newspapers: An eight month McClatchy investigation found that after the Sept. 11, 2001, the U.S. has wrongfully imprisoned “perhaps hundreds” of men “in Afghanistan, Cuba and elsewhere on the basis of flimsy or fabricated evidence, old personal scores or bounty payments.”

Boulton told Bush that the Supreme Court “ruled against what you have been doing” at Guantanamo but Bush wouldn’t budge, arguing that the district court, appellate court and Congress agreed that Gitmo detainees do not have to right to challenge their detention.

Boulton, a Briton, then had to remind Bush of America’s checks and balances system: “But the Supreme Court is supreme isn’t it?”

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Democrats to back down on Iraq war conditions

Sudhan @11:28 CET

By Richard Cowan | Reuters, June 16, 2008,

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Democrats in the Congress, who came to power last year on a call to end the combat in Iraq, will soon give President George W. Bush the last war-funding bill of his presidency without any of the conditions they sought for withdrawing U.S. troops, congressional aides said on Monday.

Lawmakers are arranging to send Bush $165 billion in new money for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, enough to last for about a year and well beyond when Bush leaves office on January 20.

“It’ll be the lump sum of money, veterans (funding) and that’s it,” said one House aide familiar with the negotiations on the legislation.

The aide was referring to the funding for the unpopular Iraq war, now in its sixth year, and a measure being attached to expand education benefits for combat veterans.

A House of Representatives vote on the war-funding bill was expected this week. Anything the House passes would have to be approved by the Senate before the legislation is sent to Bush.

With the Pentagon running out of money to continue fighting the two wars, Congress is trying to approve new funds before its July 4 holiday recess.

With this bill, Congress will have written checks for more than $800 billion to fund the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, with most of the money going to Iraq.

Since January, 2007, when Democrats took majority control of the House and Senate, they have tried to force Bush to change course in Iraq, mostly through troop withdrawal timetables and requirements that U.S. soldiers be more thoroughly trained, equipped and rested before returning to combat.

Continued . . .

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Sudhan @11:00 CET

Tom Lasseter | McClatchy Newspapers, June 16, 2008

KABUL, Afghanistan – American soldiers herded the detainees into holding pens of razor-sharp concertina wire, the kind that’s used to corral livestock.0616 01 1

The guards kicked, kneed and punched many of the men until they collapsed in pain. U.S. troops shackled and dragged other detainees to small isolation rooms, then hung them by their wrists from chains dangling from the wire mesh ceiling.

Former guards and detainees whom McClatchy interviewed said Bagram was a center of systematic brutality for at least 20 months, starting in late 2001. Yet the soldiers responsible have escaped serious punishment.

The public outcry in the United States and abroad has focused on detainee abuse at the U.S. naval base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq, but sadistic violence first appeared at Bagram, north of Kabul, and at a similar U.S. internment camp at Kandahar Airfield in southern Afghanistan.

“I was punched and kicked at Bagram. … At Bagram, when they took a man to interrogation at night, the next morning we would see him brought out on a stretcher looking almost dead,” said Aminullah, an Afghan who was held there for a little more than three months. “But at Guantanamo, there were rules, there was law.”

Nazar Chaman Gul, an Afghan who was held at Bagram for more than three months in 2003, said he was beaten about every five days. American soldiers would walk into the pen where he slept on the floor and ram their combat boots into his back and stomach, Gul said. “Two or three of them would come in suddenly, tie my hands and beat me,” he said.

When the kicking started, Gul said, he’d cry out, “I am not a terrorist,” then beg God for mercy. Mercy was slow in coming. He was shipped to Guantanamo around the late summer of 2003 and imprisoned there for more than three years.

Continued . . .

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