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Welcome to UNKNOWN NEWS News that’s not known, or not known enough.
Helen & Harry Highwater’s cranky weblog of news and opinion.
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UN held back Iraq report until Petraeus and Crocker were done lying to Congress

Excerpt: The assessment by the U.N. Assistance Mission for Iraq, which covered a three-month period ending June 30, found that civilians were suffering “devastating consequences” from violence across the country.

The report described Iraq in more dire terms than last month’s congressional testimony from top U.S. military and embassy officials, which stressed improvements in the security situation.

The first draft of the U.N. report was completed in August, but release of the final version was delayed for more than a month following a request by the U.S. ambassador to Iraq, Ryan C. Crocker, according to a confidential account by a senior U.N. official.

Rice worried by Putin’s broad powers

Excerpt: The Russian government under Vladimir Putin has amassed so much central authority that the power-grab may undermine Moscow’s commitment to democracy, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Saturday.

“In any country, if you don’t have countervailing institutions, the power of any one president is problematic for democratic development,” Rice told reporters after meeting with human-rights activists.

“I think there is too much concentration of power in the Kremlin. I have told the Russians that. Everybody has doubts about the full independence of the judiciary. There are clearly questions about the independence of the electronic media and there are, I think, questions about the strength of the Duma,” said Rice, referring to the Russian parliament.

Comment: Is this the worst political hypocrisy yet from a top Bush Administration official?

How can ANYONE aware of both what Rice and her ilk have said and what they have done, believe ANYTHING these people say anymore? Or take them seriously? JR Mooneyham PERMANENT LINK

Republicans ‘swift-boat” a brain-damaged seventh-grader to defend denying health care to kids

Excerpt: “My son Graeme has helped put on a human face, that of a young boy, representing the needs of children and families across this nation. We are a hard working family that has stepped forward to support SCHIP. Mudslinging from the fringe has now been directed at the messenger. To be smeared all over the Internet and receive nasty e-mail my family does not deserve this retribution. It is both shameful and pathetic.”

White House embraces right-wing blog that called for ‘destroying’ 12-year-old’s family

Excerpt: Rather than distancing themselves from the smear campaign, the White House today decided to embrace RedState and reward the blog with an official White House posting.

In a post entitled “Democrats’ SCHIP Budget Gimmick,” Nicholas Thompson, a staffer in the White House’s Office of Strategic Initiatives, rallied the conservative troops around Bush’s hard-line stance, reminding them that “we are less than one week” from Congress’ veto override vote.

Only now, the full horror of Burmese junta’s repression of monks emerges

Excerpt: The hidden crackdown is as methodical as it is brutal. First the monks were targeted, then the thousands of ordinary Burmese who joined the demonstrations, those who even applauded or watched, or those merely suspected of anti-government sympathies.

Where are Burma’s monks?

Excerpt: Now, two weeks after the junta brutally cracked down on the pro-democracy demonstrations, the small monasteries that line both sides of the road are mostly locked and empty, while wooden barricades and bales of rusted barbed wire that police used to seal off Shwedagon are stacked on the pavement. Police and soldiers armed with automatic weapons sit on stools outside the mostly silent monasteries.

Jena teen thrown back in prison by same judge

Excerpt: Civil rights leaders and juvenile justice experts on Friday sharply questioned the legality of a judge’s surprise decision to send back to jail a black teenager whose prosecution in a racially-charged case helped inspire a massive demonstration in the small Louisiana town of Jena last month.

Attorneys for Mychal Bell, 17, said they would quickly appeal the decision late Thursday by LaSalle Parish District Judge J.P. Mauffray to revoke Bell’s probation and sentence him to 18 months in juvenile detention on two counts of simple battery and two counts of criminal destruction of property. Bell’s juvenile convictions on those charges preceded and were unrelated to a Dec. 4 assault on a white student at Jena High School for which Bell and five other black students, known as the Jena 6, are still awaiting trial.

Mauffray’s ruling Thursday night came just two weeks after he was forced to release Bell on $45,000 bond. A Louisiana appellate court overturned Bell’s aggravated battery conviction in that case on the grounds that Mauffray had improperly allowed the youth to be tried as an adult.

“This is judicial revenge,” said the Rev. Al Sharpton, one of the many civil rights leaders who have taken up the Jena 6 case. “The judge was already defeated once by the appellate court, and now he’s taking his frustrations out on Mychal Bell.”

It was unclear why Mauffray decided to send Bell to jail on the prior charges. The judge has ordered all the proceedings in Bell’s case to be closed and directed all the lawyers in the case not speak about it publicly.

Comment: Apparently there’s only one judge in all of Mississippi? A judge like Mauffray, with an obvious agenda and little interest in justice, can’t recuse himself or be removed from this matter by higher-ups who possess a smidgen of integrity? Helen & Harry PERMANENT LINK

Blackwater — America’s most famous mercenaries

Soldiers’ report: Blackwater massacre was unprovoked, Iraqis were killed running away

Excerpt: Blackwater USA guards shot at Iraqi civilians as they tried to drive away from a Baghdad square Sept. 16, according to a report compiled by the first U.S. soldiers to arrive at the scene, where they found no evidence that Iraqis had fired weapons.

“It appeared to me they were fleeing the scene when they were engaged. It had every indication of an excessive shooting,” said Lt. Col. Mike Tarsa.

His soldiers’ report based on their observations at the scene, eyewitness interviews and discussions with Iraqi police concluded there was no enemy activity involved and described the shootings as a “criminal event.” The soldiers’ accounts contradict Blackwater’s assertion that its guards were defending themselves after being fired on by Iraqi police and gunmen.

Blackwater drops out of mercenary trade association to avoid investigation

Excerpt: The International Peace Operations Association said in a statement Friday that Blackwater withdrew its membership two days after the group decided to examine whether the contractor’s “processes and procedures” complied with the group’s code of conduct.

All member companies are required to follow the group’s conduct code, which the group described as a “set of ethical and professional guidelines for companies in the peace and stability operations industry.”

Blackwater “withdrawal” from Iraq would slap new brand name on same mercenaries

Excerpt: While the Blackwater name may be removed from security operations surrounding U.S. diplomats in Iraq, American officials and members of the security community in Baghdad said the company’s men and other assets in Iraq would likely be taken over by one of the many security companies currently working in Iraq.

They said DynCorp, which already has security contracts with the State Department to guard officials working outside Baghdad, appeared poised to take over the Blackwater role.

Under the terms of the department’s Worldwide Personal Protective Security contract, which covers privately contracted guards for diplomats in Iraq, Blackwater, Dyncorp and Triple Canopy are the only three companies eligible to bid on specific task orders there.

Comment: This bombshell was buried in a long AP article about how the U.S. is being so open-minded and cooperative about getting Blackwater out of Iraq, when all that’s really being proposed is to change the company name on the armbands of the exact same people, who will still not be subject to any system of law, and who will still generate bushels of money for GOP-connected companies. Big concession there. Madeline Zane PERMANENT LINK

Blackwater hires PR firm tied to Hillary Clinton

Excerpt: The PR firm run by Mark Penn, Hillary Clinton’s top strategist, has a new client: Blackwater.

Burson and its subsidiaries, as I reported in a profile of Hillary’s corporate advisors in May, has represented everyone from union-busters to big tobacco to Ahmad Chalabi. Blackwater represents a new low.

Burson says its subsidiary, BKSH & Associates, run by GOP operative Charlie Black, “helped Blackwater prepare for their recent hearing before Congress. With the hearing over, BKSH’s temporary engagement has ended.”

Blackwater mercenaries disarmed US soldiers at gunpoint

Excerpt: The colonel was furious. “Can you believe it? They actually drew their weapons on U.S. soldiers.” He was describing a 2006 car accident, in which an SUV full of Blackwater operatives had crashed into a U.S. Army Humvee on a street in Baghdad’s Green Zone. The colonel, who was involved in a follow-up investigation and spoke on the condition he not be named, said the Blackwater guards disarmed the U.S. Army soldiers and made them lie on the ground at gunpoint until they could disentangle the SUV. His account was confirmed by the head of another private security company. Asked to address this and other allegations in this story, Blackwater spokesperson Anne Tyrrell said, “This type of gossip has led to many soap operas in the press.”

Comment: Pointing guns at American soldiers, disarming American soldiers doesn’t that sound like something that might be frowned upon or even illegal, in a frickin’ war zone? I’m no lawyer, but that sound like it’s within easy walking distance of aiding and abetting the enemy … Helen & Harry PERMANENT LINK

FBI ignoring obvious leads in what appears to be phony investigation of Blackwater massacre

Excerpt: CBS News reported on Tuesday that the FBI’s investigation of last month’s Blackwater shooting incident in Baghdad appears to be ignoring evidence that might support the Iraqi government’s version of events and hold Blackwater at fault.

“The FBI investigation is supposed to wrap up in days, not weeks, but there’s still a lot of work to do,” reports CBS. “Our investigation turned up many witnesses who haven’t yet been interviewed, not to mention vehicles that are key evidence still driving around the streets of Baghdad.

US rights group sues Blackwater over massacre

Excerpt: A US human rights group says it is suing private security firm Blackwater for unspecified damages for war crimes and wrongfully killing Iraqi civilians.

The Center for Constitutional Rights is acting on behalf of an injured survivor and three families of men killed by Blackwater guards on 16 September.

Israel’s September attack on Syria destroyed a partly constructed nuclear reactor

Excerpt: The attack on the reactor project has echoes of an Israeli raid more than a quarter century ago, in 1981, when Israel destroyed the Osirak nuclear reactor in Iraq shortly before it was to have begun operating. That attack was officially condemned by the Reagan administration, though Israelis consider it among their military’s finest moments. In the weeks before the Iraq war, Bush administration officials said they believed that the attack set back Iraq’s nuclear ambitions by many years.

By contrast, the facility that the Israelis struck in Syria appears to have been much further from completion, the American and foreign officials said. They said it would have been years before the Syrians could have used the reactor to produce the spent nuclear fuel that could, through a series of additional steps, be reprocessed into bomb-grade plutonium.

Comment: And… will there be any international condemnation? Nope. Israel’s attack on Syria faded from the news the day after it happened, and will never be controversial, because Israel is always above international law. Virtually anything Israel does is immediately “justified” in media and political response, and any response from Syria that’s more than a speech will be just as quickly judged “terrorism”. Helen & Harry PERMANENT LINK

Life in liberated Afghanistan & Iraq

Iraqi factions come together … to drive Americans out

Excerpt: Six Iraqi insurgent groups have joined forces to form a “political council” and “liberate” Iraq from US occupation, Al-Jazeera television said on Thursday, as violence in the country killed at least seven people. A US rights group announced Thursday it was filing a lawsuit against private security contractor Blackwater on behalf of a survivor and the families of three victims of a deadly September 16 shootout in Baghdad.

A spokesman for the “political council of the Iraqi resistance” was shown on Al-Jazeera with his face blacked out, announcing the formation of the coalition to liberate Iraq.

He said it comprises the four factions of a so-called “jihad and reform front” the Islamic Army in Iraq, the Mujahedeen Army, Ansar al-Sunna-Religious Committee, and the Fateheen Army. The two others that have joined are the Islamic Front for Iraqi Resistance and the Islamic Resistance Movement Hamas in Iraq, the spokesman said.

Lightning round:

Why do they hate us? VIDEO

Sanchez calls Iraq a ‘nightmare’ for US

Mercenaries open fire in Baghdad traffic, kill two women

US air raids continue to kill in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan

Iraq “embassy” costs soar amid poor planning

Comment: Poor planning? Millions lost in a boondoggle in Bush’s occupied Iraq? Whoa, nobody could’ve seen that one coming, eh? Helen & Harry PERMANENT LINK

CIA director has been “investigating” (persecuting) CIA watchdog who says torture is illegal

Excerpt: A decision by the CIA director, Gen. Michael V. Hayden, to order a special review of efforts by CIA Inspector General John L. Helgerson to probe the agency’s past interrogations and imprisonment of terrorism suspects evoked concern yesterday among congressional staff members and lawmakers.

The review is the latest reflection of disagreement within the CIA about the legality and appropriateness of the agency’s treatment of suspects since 2001, including its decision to hold nearly 100 in secret prisons, to subject more than a dozen to extraordinarily harsh interrogation techniques, and to fly others to countries where torture is frequently practiced.

Summing up the views of the agency’s clandestine operators, [one] senior intelligence official said, “They find the CIA general counsel says a technique is okay, the IG months or years later says no.” That situation, he added, “leads first to job anxiety, then to a drop in morale and, finally, to risk aversion.”

Comment: Oh, heavens, not “risk aversion.” You mean that CIA agents might stop themselves from doing patently illegal things, even if an amoral hack tells them it’s okay? Isn’t that sort of the damn point? Madeline Zane PERMANENT LINK

Cheney plotted Bush’s imperial Presidency ‘thirty years ago’

Excerpt: For example, when it was revealed in 2005 that the Bush administration had been illegally spying on Americans, Cheney responded: “If you want to understand why this program is legal … go back and read my Iran-Contra report.” In that report authored in 1987 Cheney and aide David Addington defended President Reagan by claiming it was “unconstitutional for Congress to pass laws intruding” on the “commander in chief.”

Decades later, Bush’s legal team used their first meeting in January 2001 nine months before 9/11 to map out a plan to expand presidential authority. According to Savage, who appeared on C-SPAN’s Washington Journal this morning, Cheney was looking for a moment to “seize” power in the weeks before 9/11

Wal-Mart systematically challenges local tax assessments

Excerpt: While we did not explore the merits of individual appeals, the high volume of these actions suggests that Wal-Mart, rather than occasionally disagreeing with particular valuations, is engaged in a large-scale effort to roll back its assessments, lower its tax payments and thereby increase its after-tax profits. Our finding that the challenges are handled at the corporate level rather than by individual store managers reinforces this conclusion.

There are more than three stooges
(and one of them will be America’s next President)

Thomspon picks Darth Vader’s daughter and Senator Macaca to chair campaign

Excerpt: Former Sen. George Allen (R-Va.), whose White House hopes vanished in a “macaca” moment, was named a top adviser yesterday to Fred Thompson’s White House campaign. Thompson announced that Allen and Liz Cheney, the vice president’s daughter and former State Department aide, would be co-chairmen of his “National Campaign Leadership Team.”

Giuliani’s debate answers are consistently lies

Excerpt: But one secret to Giuliani’s debate success is that he doesn’t mind fudging all those facts he cites. In the Tuesday debate, Giuliani asserted once again that he had passed 23 tax cuts as New York mayor. This is an exaggeration. According to Factcheck.org and Politifact.com, he can rightly claim credit for about 14 of those cuts. One of the largest cuts for which he claims credit he initially opposed for five months before changing his position. He also claims to have added more cops in New York than he actually did and cherry-picks data to support inflated claims about the number of adoptions during his tenure. After the Tuesday debate, Factcheck.org found a host of new faulty claims.

Romney won’t answer question from muscular dystrophy patient

Excerpt: “Would you have me arrested for smoking medical marijuana?”

Giuliani law firm sued by high profile Texas Republican

Excerpt: A prominent Texas Republican has sued Rudy Giuliani’s law firm and a close friend and partner of Giuliani’s, Kenneth Caruso, alleging that Caruso, the firm and others “schemed and conspired to steal $10 million.”

Romney goes all Alberto Gonzales on the Constitution

Excerpt: Asked whether he would obey the Constitution and consult Congress before sending US troops into combat, former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney says he would consult his lawyers first.

Nomination of vote thief to Federal Election Commission blocked

Excerpt: [Senators Barack Obama and] Russ Feingold (D-Wis.) this week put a hold on Senate confirmation proceedings for FEC nominee Hans von Spakovsky, who has been accused of diluting minority voting power during his time as a Justice Department lawyer.

Comment: This is really saying something, coming from Feingold. He has angered his base in the past by confirming almost anyone nominated by the president, on the principle that the Senate’s role is merely an advisory one. So for him to not only vote against a nominee but actually block one is a testament to just how stunningly bad, and important, this nomination is. Madeline Zane PERMANENT LINK

OnStar allows controlled disabling of cars by remote control

Excerpt: This new capability will also create an irresistible challenge to the hacker community and perhaps criminal organizations to try find ways into the OnStar system for triggering this fun one way or another.

Tiny insect-sized flying surveillance drones used against anti-war protesters?

Excerpt: Vanessa Alarcon saw them while working at an antiwar rally in Lafayette Square last month.

“I heard someone say, ‘Oh my god, look at those,’ ” the college senior from New York recalled. “I look up and I’m like, ‘What the hell is that?’ They looked kind of like dragonflies or little helicopters. But I mean, those are not insects.”

Comment: No agency admits to having deployed insect-size spy drones. But a number of US government and private entities acknowledge they are trying. Helen & Harry PERMANENT LINK

White House incompetence severs undercover monitoring of al Qaeda

Excerpt: The founder of the company, the SITE Intelligence Group, says this premature disclosure tipped al-Qaeda to a security breach and destroyed a years-long surveillance operation that the company has used to intercept and pass along secret messages, videos and advance warnings of suicide bombings from the terrorist group’s communications network.

“Techniques that took years to develop are now ineffective and worthless,” said Rita Katz, the firm’s 44-year-old founder, who has garnered wide attention by publicizing statements and videos from extremist chat rooms and Web sites, while attracting controversy over the secrecy of SITE’s methodology. Her firm provides intelligence about terrorist groups to a wide range of paying clients, including private firms and military and intelligence agencies from the United States and several other countries.

Comment: This sort of thing has happened over and over and over again with the Bush Administration, since 9/11/01. So frequently that some writers have questioned if Bush-Cheney isn’t purposely helping al Qaeda elude surveillance efforts, via such worldwide alerts regarding successful spying efforts against them. I’ve got other examples buried in the thousands of news reports I’ve archived to my local disk. But there’s not much point in me searching them out to list here: after all, a new event like this occurs every few months. All you have to do is wait. JR Mooneyham PERMANENT LINK

Supreme Court won’t hear case of CIA torture victim

Excerpt: The Supreme Court today terminated a lawsuit from a man who claims he was abducted and tortured by the CIA, effectively endorsing Bush administration arguments that state secrets would be revealed if the case were allowed to proceed.

Khaled el-Masri, 44, alleged that he was kidnapped by CIA agents in Europe and held in an Afghan prison for four months in a case of mistaken identity.

Comment: Wish I could say I was surprised, but it’s been obvious for years that men like Scalia and Thomas and Roberts are more little Caligulas than Supreme Court Justices. Rebecca PERMANENT LINK

Republicans use Justice Department to subvert justice

Convicted executive says prosecution was retaliation
for Qwest’s refusal to help feds spy on customers

Excerpt: The National Security Agency and other government agencies retaliated against Qwest because the Denver telco refused to go along with a phone spying program, documents released Wednesday suggest.

The documents indicate that likely would have been at the heart of former CEO Joe Nacchio’s so-called “classified information” defense at his insider trading trial, had he been allowed to present it.

NSA domestic surveillance began 7 months before 9/11, convicted Qwest CEO claims

Excerpt: Did the NSA’s massive call records database program pre-date the terrorist attacks of 9/11?

That startling allegation is in court documents released this week which show that former Qwest CEO Joseph Nacchio the head of the only company known to have turned down the NSA’s requests for Americans’ phone records tried, unsuccessfully, to argue just that in his defense against insider trading charges.

Comment: It’s outrageous, but it’s not a “startling allegation” that NSA spying began months before 9/11. It’s been known since at least January 2006, but, like so many other slivers of astounding news, it’s had a long and curious delay reaching the mainstream media. Helen & Harry PERMANENT LINK

U.S. Attorney scandal reaches Mississippi

Excerpt: In 2003, Mississippi Gov. Ronnie Musgrove (D) was seeking a second term, taking on Republican lobbyist Haley Barbour. Republicans wanted some way to discredit Musgrove’s allies, while limiting campaign contributions from Democratic supporters. So, they prosecuted Paul Minor, a trial attorney who has contributed generously to Democrats over the years.

Mr. Minor’s political activity may have cost him dearly. He is serving an 11-year sentence, convicted of a crime that does not look much like a crime at all. The case is one of several new ones coming to light that suggest that the department’s use of criminal prosecutions to help Republicans win elections may go farther than anyone realizes.

Lightning round:

Justice Department official says black voters caused their own lines in Ohio 2004 vote

Gonzales hires lawyer famed for Florida 2000 recount shenanigans

Americans illicitly help hostile nations get hi-tech weapons

Excerpt: Missile technology, fighter jet parts, night vision goggles and other US wartime equipment increasingly are being illegally smuggled into hostile nations, including China and Iran, the federal government said Thursday.

Comment: We could save countless millions of innocents worldwide (and maybe even ourselves too, in regards to terrorists getting hold of such stuff!) by simply stopping our production of such awful junk. JR Mooneyham PERMANENT LINK

Judge blocks torture of Guantanamo detainee

Excerpt: In what appears to be the first ruling of its kind, a federal judge has barred the Bush administration from sending a Guantanamo detainee to his home country, where he claims he would face torture, according to an order unsealed yesterday in Washington.

The judge, Gladys Kessler of United States District Court for the District of Columbia, issued an injunction prohibiting the planned transfer of the detainee to Tunisia, which has been criticized by American and international officials for human rights abuses.

Iran — Run-up to the next war

Petraeus smears Iran’s ambassador to Iraq

Excerpt: The charge that Tehran’s ambassador to Baghdad, Hassan Kazemi-Qomi, was a member of the Quds force, a unit of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard, takes US accusations of Iranian meddling in Iraq’s violence to a new level. It strengthens suggestions that Washington is ratcheting up the rhetoric against Tehran in preparation for military strikes against Revolutionary Guard facilities in Iran.

Shiite truce was reportedly designed in Tehran

Excerpt: Key Iraqi Shiite leaders Muqtada Al-Sadr and Abdel Aziz Al-Hakim announced a truce between their rival movements Oct 6. …

Sources in Iraq said in September that Al-Sadr had been in Iran, and it appears that this latest truce was signed in Tehran on Oct 3, when Al-Sadr was there to meet with al-Hakim. The Iranians have made clear to Al-Sadr that he must either cooperate and get his militia in line or face a massive purge led by Al-Hakim’s Badr group. Al-Sadr appears to have complied.

Pakistan in turmoil following “presidential election”

Excerpt: Pakistan is in a state of political turmoil after Saturday’s presidential vote. General Pervez Musharraf won an overwhelming majority of the vote because of a boycott by almost the entire opposition. However Pakistan’s Supreme Court has yet to decide whether Musharraf was even eligible to stand for re-election while retaining his post as army chief. The court won’t decide until at least October 17.

Comment: Musharraf, of course, is a dictator beloved by Bush & Cheney. Helen & Harry PERMANENT LINK

Turkey: America’s bestest genocidal friend

Turkey authorizes war with Northern Iraq

Excerpt: Turkey took a step toward a military operation in Iraq on Tuesday, as its top political and military leaders issued a statement authorizing troops to cross the Iraq border to eliminate separatist Kurdish rebel camps in the northern region.

Turkey sentences reporters for mentioning Armenian genocide

Excerpt: A court in the Sisli district of Istanbul found Arat Dink and Serkis Seropyan guilty of “insulting Turkish identity” for publishing an interview in Agos which Hrant Dink gave to Reuters in 2006 in which he termed as genocide the massacres of Armenians from 1915-17, remarks for which Hrant Dink was prosecuted at the time.

Bush says, Please don’t bring up Armenian genocide
while Turkey is helping us kill all those Iraqis

Excerpt: President George Bush warned of the negative repercussions should Congress use the word genocide to describe the persecution that killed an estimated 1.5 million Armenians and forced many into exile.

“This resolution is not the right response to these historic mass killings, and its passage would do great harm to our relations with a key ally in NATO and in the global war on terror,” Mr Bush said.

House Committee approves bill condemning Armenian genocide

Excerpt: US lawmakers defied strident warnings by President George W. Bush by voting Wednesday to label the Ottoman Empire’s World War I massacre of Armenians as “genocide” sparking condemnation from Turkey.

To cheers and applause from emotional Armenians, including elderly wheelchair-bound survivors, the House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee voted for the resolution by 27 votes to 21.

Turkey’s ambassador leaves after House Committee condemns genocide

Excerpt: Turkey, which is a key supply route to U.S. troops in Iraq, recalled its ambassador to Washington on Thursday and warned of serious repercussions if Congress labels the killing of Armenians by Turks a century ago as genocide.

Democrats won’t back down (yet) on genocide bill

Excerpt: The speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives insisted Sunday that she would bring to the full chamber a resolution condemning the killings of Armenians nearly a century ago as genocide, even as a Turkish general warned that this could lastingly damage a military relationship crucial to American forces in Iraq.

Comment: It might be easy to dismiss this story as not that important. Who cares what official label we put on a violent massacre from 100 years ago? But if people in Turkey are still being persecuted or killed for talking about this issue, and the government of Turkey withdraws its ambassador after one little committee approves a measure condemning genocide, then this is not just about ancient history. This is about the insane, oppressive nature of the government that’s running Turkey right now. It also shows how far the White House is willing to go to appease any violent dictatorship, as long as they are not standing between us and a giant pool of oil. Madeline Zane PERMANENT LINK

Orlando jury won’t penalize man for feeding the poor

Excerpt: In the first test of Orlando’s controversial ban on feeding groups in public parks, a jury Tuesday found 22 year-old Eric Montanez not guilty of the misdemeanor charge against him.

Activist murdered with poisoned airline meal

Excerpt: The former head of Indonesia’s national airline faces 20 years in jail over the killing of an outspoken human rights activist whose in-flight meal was laced with a massive dose of arsenic.

The poisoning of Munir Said Thalib in 2004 silenced one of the most ardent critics of Indonesia’s military, a lawyer who, at 38, had spent much of his life exposing the corruption and human rights abuses wrought by its officers.

Bolivia drops out of School of the Americas

Excerpt: Bolivian President Evo Morales has announced the withdrawal of his country’s military forces from the infamous training facility formerly known as the School of the Americas, now called Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation (WHINSEC) located at Ft. Benning, Georgia. …

Bolivia is the fifth country after Costa Rica, Argentina, Uruguay and Venezuela to announce a withdrawal from the Fort Benning school, citing its history of collaborating with repressive regimes and human rights abuses.

Ford Motor Co accelerates abandonment of America

Excerpt: As it proceeds with plans to slash jobs and shutter factories in North America, Ford Motor is expanding aggressively in Asia, announcing Tuesday a $500 million investment to build a car plant in Thailand just two weeks after opening a $510 million manufacturing center in Nanjing, China. …

“We’re looking for profitable growth,” said John Parker, Ford’s executive vice president for Asia and Africa. “You have to put some foundations in place.”

Swiss elections use quantum cryptography for election security

Excerpt: A new “unbreakable” encryption method will be keep votes safe for citizens in the Swiss canton (state) of Geneva in the country’s upcoming national elections, officials said Thursday.

The city-state will use quantum technology to encrypt election results as they are sent to the capital on Oct. 21, said Nicolas Gisin of the University of Geneva.

A computer in Geneva, provided by the company id Quantique, will fire photons, or particles of light, down a fiber-optic link to a receiver 62 miles away.

If anybody wanted to eavesdrop on the line, they would need to intercept the photons, which means they won’t make it to the destination. The operators of the line will then know that someone is listening in.

Comment: This is what a reasonable attempt at security for electronic voting looks like. This is what a democracy might do and it has next to nothing in common with the laughable, obvious, demonstrably easy to hack electronic voting systems used in America. Helen & Harry PERMANENT LINK

House panels OK spying oversight, reject telecom immunity

Excerpt: A Congressional standoff over domestic spying is intensifying. On Wednesday, the House Judiciary and Intelligence committees approved measures increasing judicial oversight of the Bush administration’s warrantless spy program.

Democratic lawmakers also refused to include a provision granting retroactive immunity to major telecommunication companies involved. Hours before the vote, President Bush said he would not sign the legislation without the immunity clause included.

Civil liberties groups say the Democratic measure still grants too much authority to the White House. The bill would still give blanket authority for group spying rather than requiring individual warrants.

Comment: I’ll be pleasantly surprised amazed, actually if Democrats don’t make this bill a lot more Bush-friendly before passing it. Helen & Harry PERMANENT LINK

LAPD blames commanders for violence at May Day protest

Excerpt: In Los Angeles, an internal LAPD probe has faulted top police commanders for the breakdown of a largely peaceful immigration march on May Day of this year. Police with riot guns fired hundreds of rubber bullets, shot tear gas and clubbed protesters and journalists gathered in MacArthur Park. At least two hundred forty protesters and journalists were injured. Hundreds of legal claims have been filed against the city.

In a long-awaited report, the LAPD says commanders on the ground gave confusing and contradictory orders to protesters and failed to reign in police officers using excessive force. In violation of LAPD policy, more than one-hundred forty ‘less-than-lethal’ rounds were fired directly at protesters instead of at the ground. Officers also struck demonstrators and journalists with batons more than one hundred times. Many of them had been standing passively in place. Twenty-six police officers are under investigation for wrongdoing.

Ann Coulter on CNBC show: Jews need ‘perfecting’

Comment: She’s a regular on TV talk shows, has a syndicated newspaper column, etc. Ann Coulter is a voice the mainstream media wants you to hear, wants you to consider newsworthy and reasonable which calls into question the integrity and intent of any paper or network that gives such perspectives a platform. Helen & Harry PERMANENT LINK

In his days as baseball front man, Bush opposed wild card playoffs

Excerpt: “I made my arguments and went down in flames. History will prove me right.” Texas Rangers owner George W. Bush after voting against realignment and a new wild-card system during a Major League Baseball owners meeting in September 1993. Bush was the lone dissenter in a 27-1 vote. …

Comment: In 1993 I was a baseball fan, and I remember thinking how obvious it was that wild card playoffs in baseball would be very popular and add boffo box office. I remember that baseball owners approved it in a landslide vote, but George W Bush meant nothing to me at the time, and I’d forgotten that even then, he was the voice opposed to obvious wisdom. Helen & Harry PERMANENT LINK

Anti-piracy organization’s domain now owned by The Pirate Bay

Excerpt: IFPI.com, the domain that used to belong to The International Federation of the Phonographic Industry or (IFPI) an infamous anti-piracy organization is mysteriously transferred to The Pirate Bay. The Pirate Bay team says it will use the domain to host the newly founded International Federation of Pirate Interests.

Lightning round news

Boot camp staff acquitted in boy’s death
despite videotaped beating and kicking

Barney Frank has had enough of liberals

Comment: And this liberal is tired of Barney Frank. Helen & Harry PERMANENT LINK

More than half of straight Americans
want gays to be treated equally

Colorado state lawmaker jumps
from Republican to Democrat

US Army lowers its recruiting standards again

Five day work week is
too grueling for some Republicans

Argentina’s torture priest given a life sentence

Colorado Rockies are God’s
team, its owners believe

University president apologizes,
un-dis-invites Tutu to campus

Carter says what media
won’t admit: America tortures

Judge bars Bush crackdown on illegal workers

Bush administration appeals ruling
against PATRIOT Act in Oregon case

Having been right — opposing the Iraq war
as America launched it — is still
seen as a sign of “weakness”

New ‘Dear Abby’ comes out
for same-sex marriage

“Substantial likelihood” of impropriety in
$27-million post-Katrina pump contract

Comment: Was anybody in the Bush administration involved? Well then yeah, there’s a “substantial likelihood” of impropriety. Helen & Harry PERMANENT LINK

Hackers could skew US elections

Planes escorted out of no-fly area

Comment: How dare they fly near our beloved “Decider”. Wig PERMANENT LINK

De Palma’s Redacted gets
redacted by Mark Cuban

Army sought “new concept of warfare”
radiation to kill Cold War leaders

Go to health for people and planet

Global warming driving up
humidity levels, says study

Pollution pouring into nation’s waters
far beyond legal limits

EPA promises no penalty
for polluting utility until 2018

British Court says there are nine
errors in An Inconvenient Truth

Comment: The BBC report cites only three of these ‘errors’, of which two seem remarkably trivial. None of these ‘errors’ challenge or even question the central fact of man-caused global climate change, and there’s no hint how the judge is qualified to decide scientific matters. But since you’ll no doubt be hearing about “the nine errors” from now until the Arctic is a pile of slush, here’s a quick overview of the case and coverage that seems well-aligned to common sense. Helen & Harry PERMANENT LINK

Abortion rates go down
where abortion is legal

Cleaning products increase risk of
asthma, new research claims

US maternal death rate higher than Europe’s

Cops you won’t see on TV’s COPS

US man faces potential 30-year
prison sentence for stealing a doughnut

Denver Police routinely destroyed evidence

Yet another teen killed
at juvenile “boot camp”

Minnesota jury awards $778,000
to victim of police torture

Comment: It’s an ordinary and sickening story, and what makes it ordinary is that there’s no hint that the cops involved faced even the mildest rebuke. The Police Chief simply says, “The city stands behind these officers”, and there’s the problem, right there. Helen & Harry PERMANENT LINK

Liars, scoundrels, and hypocrites

George Will says Republican voters “have
learned” that Giuliani “doesn’t flip-flop”

Washington Post article on earmarks
quoted Sen Ted Stevens but not
prior Post report that Stevens’
own earmarks are being investigated

Leader of Bush’s favorite B.S. think tank bids adieu

As Gore wins Nobel Peace Prize,
New York Times pretends global
warming is still an unsettled issue

MSNBC’s Chris Matthews adds to allegations
that Cheney’s office “tried to quiet me”

Comment: Of course, since Matthews has waited several years to say this, and he’s still only saying it when he’s not on his television show, it’s pretty obvious that Cheney’s office didn’t just “try” to silence him, they succeeded. Helen & Harry PERMANENT LINK

Fox‘s Gibson knew school shooter was white
because “black shooters don’t” shoot
themselves; “they shoot and move on”

“Friend of Falwell” minister
dies during bizarre sex play

Fox News claims Air America Radio
is waging a war against God

CNN’s Beck lies that Libby “went to jail”
for obstructing Plame investigation

Ignoring his own previous remarks,
O’Reilly now says kidnapping victims
“have been through enough”

CBS’s puffball interview with Lynne Cheney
is faulted for big fat conflict of interest

Conservatives’ latest phony outrage:
Google’s logo switches

The love of money is the root of all evil

Crappy CNBC now has even crappier
competition: Fox Business Network

Another 175,000 pounds of beef recalled for E. coli

Lead found in lipsticks by Cover Girl,
L’Oréal, Christian Dior, more

P2P researchers say there’s no escape
from RIAA spies in file-swap communities

Madonna dumps label in $134m deal

Comment: Nine Inch Nails did it last week, now Madonna. It’s reaching the point where famous music-makers are better off going DIY than signing with one of the music conglomerates. And that’s not good for the “music industry,” but it’s gotta be good for music. Helen & Harry PERMANENT LINK

Starbucks recalls dangerous mugs with
ladybird, turtle, bunny and chick faces

Lead found in more kids’ toys, backpacks

Target sells rocks for the price of iPods

Citibank sends surprise credit cards
to 3.5 million Macy’s customers

Pot pies linked to salmonella outbreak

ConAgra is criticized for sluggish
recall of contaminated pot pies

(branded Albertson’s, Hill Country Fare,
Food Lion, Wal-Mart, Kirkwood, Kroger,
Meijer, and Western Family)

Don’t post this cease-and-desist letter, or else

Some of the chunks in Campbell’s
Chunky Soup are plastic

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This week’s commentary

America’s coming war with China
by Leon Fisher, Unknown News

Excerpt: The corrupt economic and political leadership of the United States must be ousted and replaced with those whose priorities are that of the American people, not Wall Street nor any of the myriad domestic and foreign lobbies which presently influence policy making in Washington.

Nothing short of this will save us from endless war, economic ruin, and martial law imposed by the corporate-fascists in Washington and their rubber stamp Congress.

A thing of beauty?
by Don Nash, Unknown News

Excerpt: This is Our Lady of the Military-Industrial Complex. Isn’t she lovely? Isn’t she dignified?

Bush’s defeat victory
by Kevin Good, Unknown News

Excerpt: If Bush and company’s case before the Supreme Court is defeated, the Texas conviction and death sentence will stand and a legal precedent will be set, that US laws and courts are not bound by any international laws or treaties, like the Vienna or Geneva Conventions and Bush wins.

National disgrace!
by Don Nash, Unknown News

Excerpt: “The slaughter is our gift to you.”

The more I see of the way things
are now, the more convinced
I am that Ron Paul is right

by Mr. Chuckles, Unknown News

Excerpt: The US government is trying to control *everything*, at fine levels of detail. They pass “laws” that are hundreds of pages long, without regard for Constitutionality — or contents, because most Senators and Representatives do not actually read the laws they vote on, the bills are too long and detailed. As they spend two trillion dollars a year, borrowing money they don’t have, to do things that are futile or self-destructive, the end is approaching — and in the end, the “feel good” programs that help people will simply disappear.

So it is now a question of saving ourselves, saving what can possibly be saved.

Congressman Paul is just wrong, wrong, wrong
by Chris P., Unknown News

Excerpt: Name an issue and Congressman Paul is wrong about it.

Congressman Paul, like Rush Limbaugh, thinks government is pretty much ONLY about police and fire and providing an economic framework that enables the strong to thrive.

Well, I disagree, and I think most Americans disagree if they stop and think about it.

Still on the eve of destruction
by A Proud Liberal

Excerpt: Too often liberals think the word politics implies politeness. Our NeoCon advisories observe no such convention. Truthfulness and reality are also missing from their playbook. They do however observe the BIG LIE RULE, repeat something often enough and it will be perceived as the truth no matter how far from reality and truth it is based. This piece is for thoughtful mature adults, written in what I hope is an intelligent but blunt manner. If you are offended by the words used here, please examine if the words are what offends or if it is uncomfortable and novel ideas.

Two minutes hate
by Tom Tomorrow

Excerpt: I’m working on a cartoon on the whole thing for next week, and here’s the weird part for me: what I’m really doing is reworking a cartoon I finished before I went on vacation, in which I used the idea of the Republican Hate Machine going after a child as one of those really wacky cartoon examples meant to parody their extremism. Except, in the intervening week, they actually did it. I’ve said this before, but these are difficult times for satirists; there’s almost nothing you can think of that’s more ridiculous or appalling than the things that are really happening.

It is time to speak truth to US power
Editorial, Financial Times

Excerpt: Mr Bush seems to think that legal sleight of hand can be used to justify almost any tactic to battle terrorists including, it emerged last week, simulated drowning and other cruel interrogation techniques that Alberto Gonzales, his former attorney-general, appears to have authorized by secret legal memorandum.

Time and again, Mr Bush has twisted the law to serve his own national security goals. He has given the rule of law a bad name, and devalued the US constitution all in the name of protecting the American people.

Comment: The Financial Times is a staid, highly respected, and very conservative business paper, the European equivalent of what the The Wall Street Journal was, before Rupert Murdoch bought it. It ain’t a radical rag by any stretch, and it’s remarkable, and embarrassing, and downright scary to see such a crusty old newspaper speak this bluntly about Bush’s lawbreaking. Helen & Harry PERMANENT LINK

Of course it’s torture
by Francis X. Stone, The Boston Globe

Excerpt: During my last year in Vietnam, 1968 to ’69, I was in charge of US Air Force interrogation of Viet Cong and North Vietnamese Army prisoners. None of what Bush labels as legal was legal under the Geneva Conventions, to which the United States is still a signatory. US Army, Marine, and Army of Republic of Vietnam personnel were constantly amazed at the interrogation results produced by the Air Force, and we were never allowed to touch prisoners, let alone head-slap them. Every human being has needs, and we learned those needs and exploited them. Neither Bush’s bullying approach in the Mideast nor his unlawful interrogation program has worked. Sophisticated psychological methods are not being used by the Bush people, so the alleged “non-torture” bullying will continue.

Last week’s commentary

Gangsters in politicians’ clothing
by Herb Ruhs, MD, Unknown News

Excerpt: There is no meaningful way in which the US can be considered a nation of laws. We are, to a first approximation, a nation of gangsters armed to the teeth and out to loot the rest of the world at the tip of a nuclear bayonet.

The joys of torture!
by Don Nash, Unknown News

Excerpt: Our Lady of the Military Industrial Complex says, “Torture is war-profitable, so just lie about it and get on with the business at hand!

Urgent memo from the
Reality Liberation Front

by Hazel Burke, Unknown News

Excerpt: Now we are at the point where vast fortunes wait to be won and lost. One day, those who wager correctly will make huge sums in no time at all — or be allowed to stay in business — while those who buy into the government propaganda stand to lose everything in mere hours.

Cause and effect, pause and reflect
by Don Nash, Unknown News

Excerpt: This is the effect a warmongering madman has on the world.

We are not them
by Chris D., Unknown News

Excerpt: Two men murder each other. Which one was the criminal? You only get to pick one. Vicious little circle, isn’t it?

Propaganda kills
by Don Nash, Unknown News

Excerpt: The Bush Reich War of Terror is winding up for a blitzkrieg on Iran. I know it, you know it, and most of the world’s barely above literate know it. The Bush Reich propaganda machine is working double overtime to prepare, or should that read dummy down, the American people for Middle East Conflagration Part Deux. Here we go again. If they’re successful in pulling a little ‘shock-and-awe’ wool over our eyes, that will probably engage the civilized world in a War of Finality. Armageddon, so to speak. Russia and China aren’t going to stay idle on the sidelines for this one, kids. No how, no way.

Viewing the world and life
as a vast shade of gray

by Chris M., Unknown News

Excerpt: In America “WAR” per se is an abstract concept. Except for the Civil War there has never been any bloodshed on American soil. The people here do not know what it is like to have guns and tanks and bombs going off… soldiers shooting anything that moves… seeing those next door blown to bits… their children, relatives and friends tortured, maimed or killed… their houses and cities blown to bits…

The neo-Blues Brothers ride again
by Kevin Good, Unknown News

Excerpt: “We’re getting the band back together again, man. We’re on a mission, a mission from God.”

‘Joliet’ Jake Cheney and Elwood Rumsfeld in their up-armored ‘BluesMobile’ are getting together the ‘Chicken-Hawk War and Blues Review’ for another victory tour.

God forbid you might actually
want to do something about it

by Kathy Fisher, Unknown News

Excerpt: If you blink you miss the reports on the war and world news reports. They carefully sandwich them in with How to get thin, How to buy the right shoes, Where the best restaurants are…

Why? Because they want you to keep consuming, keep going to work, and not think about the real goings on in the world.

Elephants in the room
by JR Mooneyham, Unknown News

Excerpt: We’ve allowed true evil-doers to set up an enormous maze of pitfalls and traps for any good-hearted or well-intentioned person to traverse, while constructing a super-wide express lane for villains to easily slide right into our highest seats of power, and easily deflect all attempts to pry them out again.

So what’s a real people’s hero to do in such a situation?

It is too late
by Leon Fisher, Unknown News

Excerpt: You see the rot setting in everywhere — rising prices, the housing bust, a wildly fluctuating stock market, foreign governments getting rid of dollars for other more stable currencies such as the Euro, stagnant wages, no health benefits, increasing numbers of homeless, America’s cities and states dangerously close to bankruptcy …

Don’t you just hate “them”?
by Sherri B., Unknown News

Excerpt: Can you do it in time? Can you drop your hatred for other cultures and religions in time to band together against the enemy? If you can’t — well, it’s been a good ride.

The blind leading
the amazingly stupid

by Don Nash, Unknown News

Excerpt: We are trapped in the demented psychosis of G. Bush. His dementia is our living nightmare and there’s not much ‘we the people’ can do about our current hell. Congress refuses to act, and where could the American people turn for a “redress of grievances?” Congress is closed to regular Americans, and listens only to the special interest monied corporate elite.

What if it’s all on purpose?
by FOMAD, Unknown News

Excerpt: There is total chaos in Iraq and Afghanistan, Iran is dealing with the IAEA, sweating out a possibility of nuclear extermination, Syria just got lit up by Israel, the Palestinians are in about the worst shape ever, Russia and China are new best buds, torture, renditions, mini-nukes, global economy crash, depleted uranium, GIs going haywire due to the stress, mercenaries without a law, everyone in the world hates America, global warming seems to be accelerating the glacier melts at an alarming rate, not to mention the ice-free passages in the northern regions, but is it possible that we are indeed being out-thought? That all this is on purpose?

When greed turns
to fear and loathing

by Ding Pahc, Unknown News

Excerpt: After 6.75 years in office most of the members of the Board of Governors at the Federal Reserve are “loyal Bushy” appointees. A lot of the original crew members resigned without much in the way of explanation. When Greenspan receives his “Hero of the Peoples’ Republic” medal and a pat on the back, “Heckuva job, Greenie!”, you will want to look into the overall personnel situation at the Federal Reserve.

Why do Americans
refuse to get angry?

by Jafo, Unknown News

Excerpt: They are slaughtering a lot of innocent people the world over. People disappear at random into the secret prison system to be tortured and kept indefinitely. Our leaders steal, they pillage, they rape, they torture, they starve people. They refuse to help people that are being slaughtered by others because it is our ally slaughtering them, or because they don’t have any more natural resources for big corporations to steal. We watch them take away what our forefathers laid out for us as our natural rights as human beings and they tell us it’s for our own good. When people are being beaten and tasered for having the nerve to speak out, speak up, or speak against, American citizens actually cheer!

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