Sunday Food for Thought: Politics
In our age there is no such thing as "keeping out of politics." All issues are political issues, and politics itself is a mass of lies, evasions, folly, hatred and schizophrenia.
- George Orwell
2:24 PM |
Musings from a Canadian liberal woman on the state of Canadian and US politics.
What? You want to know stuff about me?
In our age there is no such thing as "keeping out of politics." All issues are political issues, and politics itself is a mass of lies, evasions, folly, hatred and schizophrenia.
- George Orwell
2:24 PM |
12:51 AM |
The Canadian dollar closed above parity Friday for the first time in almost 31 years, as the U.S. greenback continued its dramatic fall against major world currencies.
According to Bank of Canada data, the loonie closed at $1.0052 US, up two-thirds of a cent from Thursday's close.
2:32 PM |
I call on all nations that have influence with the regime to join us in supporting the aspirations of the Burmese people and to tell the Burmese Junta to cease using force on its own people who are peacefully expressing their desire for change. By its own account, the Junta has already killed at least nine non-violent demonstrators, and many others who have been injured and arrested as they seek to express their views peacefully. I urge the Burmese soldiers and police not to use force on their fellow citizens. I call on those who embrace the values of human rights and freedom to support the legitimate demands of the Burmese people."
Numerous troubling cases were reported, notably:
* A 15-year-old diabetic girl on her way to a movie was arrested. 
* A former vice president of Morgan Stanley was arrested while riding her bicycle. 
* A 16-year-old protestor was lost to her mother for two days, even though her mother knew about and supported her daughter's participation. 
* Small pens were used to contain "30 to 40 people" at once. 
* Many people were detained longer than 24 hours on relatively trivial charges.  One was a 23-year-old Montreal student arrested for disorderly conduct and released three days later. "He says he spent a total of 57 hours between the pier and Central Booking, during which time he says he was moved 14 times and repeatedly handcuffed and shackled to other protesters as young as 15." 
The City reportedly refused to release the prisoners until a judge threatened to fine it for every extra hour every prisoner would spend in prison. The victims of the arrests have filed lawsuits against the City of New York.
One of the most prominent personalities arrested was Eric Corley "Emmanuel Goldstein", an important advocate of public rights and independent medias, and editor of 2600: The Hacker Quarterly . The complete report of 2600 is available at http://www.2600.com/rnc2004/.
Several cases have since gone to court, and it has come out that the charges of resisting arrest in those cases were completely fabricated. Video evidence was shown of defendants complying peaceably with police demands. Many of the cases have since been summarily dismissed.
The New York Times has reported on two occasions that the police videotaped and infiltrated protests, as well as acting as agents provocateurs during the protests. 
A second citation: "City Police Spied Broadly Before G.O.P. Convention," Jim Dwyer, New York Times, March 25, 2007, Sunday, Late Edition - Final, Section 1, Page 1, Column 5, 2460 words.
Agents provocateurs infiltrate a protest dressed like protesters and try to change the character of the protest, such as by attempting to get the crowd to commit acts of violence or other acts that would incite the uniformed police to take action against the crowd, thereby falsely justifying violence against protesters. Such covert provocation can also change the wider public's perception of what happened at a protest.
In addition, the New York Times reported that prior to the protests, NYPD officers traveled as far away as Europe and spied on people there who planned to protest at the RNC. 
Q But what could he do to make the members of the military regime listen? They haven't listened for 19 years.
MS. PERINO: Sanctions have worked in the past in other places. We're going to try to tighten those and make them stronger and stricter so that they have to have -- so that they have some effect that will hopefully force an action.
In addition, what the President can do is use this podium and his bully pulpit in order to shine a bright spotlight on this problem, so that the rest of the world can help -- and can come along and try to help us.
Even in Burma, however, Bush’s support for human rights yields to his fondness for the oil and gas industry. Burma has large natural gas reserves, and multinational oil corporations want to cash in. Chevron Corporation is currently the largest U.S. investor in Burma, with a partnership stake in the multi-billion-dollar Yadana gas pipeline project. The Yadana project was originally developed by Unocal, another American oil company, which was acquired by Chevron last year. (Although new investment in Burma is prohibited, the pipeline is grandfathered in under an exception, pushed by Unocal, for preexisting projects.)
The Yadana pipeline has been repeatedly condemned by human rights and environmental advocates as one of the most destructive “development” projects in the world. The Burmese military government is a direct partner in the project, and Burmese soldiers providing security and other services to the pipeline project have conscripted villagers for forced labor on a vast scale, as well as committing murder, rape and torture. These abuses have been widely acknowledged; before Bush took office, the U.S. Department of Labor concluded that “refugee accounts of forced labor” on the project “appear to be credible.”
The Bush administration has close ties to Chevron. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice was a member of the Chevron Board of Directors for 10 years before Bush was elected, and even had a Chevron oil tanker named for her until it was quietly renamed after Bush took office. And Halliburton, the oilfield services giant formerly headed by Vice President Dick Cheney, has numerous ties to Chevron, signing several multimillion-dollar contracts during Cheney’s tenure. And yet there is no evidence that the Bush administration has used its connections to convince Chevron to divest its Burmese holdings, despite the evidence of abuses committed on the Yadana project and Bush’s public position on promoting human rights and democracy.
Indeed, even before Chevron acquired Unocal and the Yadana project, Bush’s government actively took steps to thwart accountability for the Yadana project. When refugees who had suffered rape, torture, enslavement, and murder at the hands of soldiers protecting the Yadana pipeline sued Unocal in U.S. court, the Bush administration intervened to try to convince the courts that the lawsuit should not proceed. The administration essentially argued that, even if the case would not actually interfere with U.S. relations with Burma, holding Unocal liable would create a precedent that could conflict with U.S. foreign policy in other parts of the world. (The lawsuit, Doe v. Unocal Corp., was ultimately resolved before the courts considered the administration's position, with Unocal compensating the victims in a historic settlement—see http://www.earthrights.org/legal/unocal/.)
12:29 PM |
2:17 PM |
Apparently, a marked-up draft of the president's speech popped up on the U.N.'s website as President Bush delivered his remarks this morning before the General Assembly, USA TODAY's David Jackson reports. The draft included phonetic spellings of some names and countries, and the cellphone numbers for Bush speechwriters.
Press secretary Dana Perino downplayed the incident, and said phonetic spellings are used to help interpreters. Asked if the president has trouble pronouncing some country's names, Perino deemed it "an offensive question."
"There was an error made," Perino said, noting it was not a final draft.
"It was taken down and there's nothing more to say about it."
Update at 12:46 p.m. ET: Blake Hounshell at Foreign Policy says he has a copy of the speech that got the White House so worked up this morning. Here are some of the phonetic guides it included, according to the magazine's blog:
• Kyrgyzstan [KEYR-geez-stan]
• Mauritania [moor-EH-tain-ee-a]
• Harare [hah-RAR-ray]
• Mugabe [moo-GAH-bee]
• Sarkozy [sar-KO-zee]
• Caracas [kah-RAH-kus]
Update at 2:33 p.m. ET: Here's an excerpt from the press secretary's exchange with reporters about the speech snafu. It was released by the White House.
PERINO: On the speech -- your question about the speech, the drafts are circulated, and there was an error made in trying to make sure that interpreters had what they needed. I don't know how the draft of the speech -- it was not final -- was posted, but it was, and it was taken down. There's really nothing more to say about it.
REPORTER: And they were phonetic spellings of various countries -- as well, we understand.
PERINO: That's not unusual. We do that for many speeches.
REPORTER: Does the president have a hard time pronouncing some of these countries's [sic] name?
PERINO: I think that's a offensive question. I'm going to just decline to comment on it.
9:00 PM |
12:10 AM |
To have faith is to trust yourself to the water. When you swim you don't grab hold of the water, because if you do you will sink and drown. Instead you relax, and float.
- Alan Watts
9:52 PM |
In a speech obtained by The Canadian Press and to be delivered to Bloc members on Saturday, Leader Gilles Duceppe outlines five conditions the Conservative government will find almost impossible to accept.
And Duceppe reiterates several times in the speech he is ready to adopt a hardline position that could send Canadians to the polls before the holidays.
"For Stephen Harper's Conservatives, who have so far survived with half-truths and half-met promises, the next throne speech will be a real test," Duceppe says in notes for his speech, which will be delivered in Rimouski, Que.
"Quebecers will see whether the openness of the Conservatives is real or just a facade."
The Bloc's five conditions for supporting the throne speech are major with the party calling for:
- The elimination of all federal spending powers in provincial jurisdictions.
- The Conservative government to respect the Kyoto Protocol.
-The continuation of supply management in the agriculture sector.
-Promises from the Tories to help Quebec's battered forestry industry.
-And a clear commitment from the government that Canadian soldiers will leave Afghanistan when the current mission ends in February 2009.
Duceppe's conditions indicate the Bloc has decided it no longer wants to be seen as an ally of the government on critical issues. Since the Tories were elected in January 2006, the Bloc has helped them survive three confidence votes, including two on federal budgets.
12:59 AM |
References to his death -- Mandela is now 89 and increasingly frail -- are seen as insensitive in South Africa.
11:10 PM |
The Congressional Research Service’s latest accounting [PDF] of the Global War on Terrorism, of which AFRICOM would be a part, puts the cost at $611 billion since 2001, not including additional recent requests of $147 billion and another $50 billion.
For less than that $808 billion spent in the last six years, we could provide universal primary education, reduce infant mortality by two thirds and provide universal access to potable water and not just for the United States, but also for the world. These Millennium Development Goals have languished with sporadic investment and big promises, while military solutions to problems are funded robustly.
Reexamining this imbalance seems like a crucial first step. And the battle for African hearts and minds will not be won if it’s clear that it is being waged more for the sake of U.S. strategic interests than African needs.
7:09 PM |
Unthinking respect for authority is the greatest enemy of truth.
9:21 PM |
A Republican filibuster in the Senate yesterday [Wednesday] shot down a bipartisan effort to restore the right of terrorism suspects to contest in federal courts their detention and treatment, underscoring the Democratic-led Congress's difficulty with terrorism issues.
The 56 to 43 vote fell short of the 60 needed to cut off debate and move to a final vote on the amendment to the Senate's annual defense policy bill. But the measure did garner the support of six Republicans, a small victory for its supporters. A similar proposal drew 48 "yea" votes last September.
The Supreme Court had previously ruled that such detainees did have the right to appeal their detention in federal court, but the court invited Congress to weigh in on the issue. At the urging of the Bush administration, the Republican-controlled Congress last year voted to sharply limit detainee access to the courts. Since then, the high court has agreed to hear in its upcoming term another legal challenge concerning the habeas corpus rights of detainees at Guantanamo.
The authors of last year's bill said that advocates of such rights would open the federal courts to endless lawsuits from the nation's worst enemies. "To start that process would be an absolute disaster for this country," said Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.), an Air Force Reserve lawyer who was instrumental in crafting the provision in question in last year's bill.
The Senate's action "calls into question the United States' historic role of defender of human rights in the world," Leahy said. "It accomplishes what opponents could never accomplish on the battlefield, whittling away our own liberties."
"Canada is alone among Western nations in not having secured the release from Guantanamo of one of its nationals. Prime Minister Harper must finally ensure Mr. Khadr receives the same consular support that any other Canadian -- detainee or not -- would receive," Dion said in a statement released after he met with Khadr's lawyers.
Khadr's U.S. defence counsel, Lt.-Cmdr. William Kuebler, said the Canadian government has never asked for his client's release.
But he said Dion's comments indicate there is a growing movement to ensure Khadr's legal rights are protected.
"I'm hopeful, based on what we've seen recently from the Canadian Bar Association, which came out and called upon the prime minister to command Omar's repatriation last month, and the very courageous decision by Mr. Stephane Dion and his colleagues today, to call on the government to see that Omar is released from Guantanamo," he told CTV Newsnet.
"I think we're starting to turn a corner in Canada, similar to what happened in Australia and the U.K., when those countries finally got fed up by the treatment of their citizens by this process."
Mr. Edney said that when he saw Mr. Khadr recently, his client was so mentally debilitated that he wanted nothing more than crayons and some paper to colour on. Contrary to federal government assurances that Mr. Khadr is doing just fine, Mr. Edney said, his client is actually "ill and going blind. He needs all sorts of help."
9:58 PM |
Barak also said that Israel is moving closer to a large-scale military operation in Gaza. "Every day that passes brings us closer to an operation in Gaza," Barak was quoted as saying. He said an array of options would be considered before a major invasion.
The PMO statement also said that there would be restrictions on "the passage of various goods to the Gaza Strip," but stressed that all steps "will be enacted following a legal examination, while taking into account both the humanitarian aspects relevant to the Gaza Strip and the intention to avoid a humanitarian crisis."
Israeli officials are promoting a proposal that the West Bank and Gaza be viewed as separate entities, and that Israel act more forcefully in Gaza to crack down on Hamas militants.
Senior Bush administration officials said no decision had been made. Some State Department officials argue that the administration could only support such a separation if Israel agreed to make political concessions to Mr. Abbas in the West Bank, with the goal of undermining Hamas in the eyes of Palestinians by improving life in the West Bank.
But it would be diplomatically perilous for the United States to be seen as turning its back on Gaza. Almost half of the Palestinian population lives on the teeming strip of land. A more desperate Gaza could become a breeding ground for Al Qaeda.
“Nobody wants to abandon the hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of people in the Gaza Strip to the mercies of a terrorist organization,” said the State Department spokesman, Sean McCormack. “We’re certainly not going to participate in extinguishing the hopes of a whole swath of the Palestinian population to live in a Palestinian state.”
The administration has led international efforts to isolate the Hamas-dominated government, demanding that it renounce violence, recognize Israel’s right to exist and abide by existing agreements between the Palestinians and Israel.
White House: Int'l Mideast meeting is not a big peace conference
By Aluf Benn, Barak Ravid and Avi Issacharoff, Haaretz Correspondents and The Associated Press
The White House said Tuesday the international meeting on the Middle East proposed by U.S. President George W. Bush should not be viewed as a big peace conference and it is too early to say where or when it will be.
However, the U.S. State Department said Tuesday that the meeting would most likely be held in the United States but the participants are still to be worked out.
White House spokesman Tony Snow at first described the meeting as an international conference, but several hours later he backed away from that portrayal as being too ambitious.
"This is a meeting," Snow said. "I think a lot of people are inclined to try to treat this as a big peace conference. It's not."
Announcing the meeting in a major policy speech Monday, Bush said it would be chaired by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and attended by envoys from Israel, the Palestinians and Arab nations. He framed the meeting in the context that the world can do more to build the conditions for peace.
On Tuesday, Israeli officials welcomed Bush's initiative for an international summit, but Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's spokeswoman Miri Eisin said that "this is not the time to discuss the key issues."
Eisin said the meeting would provide an opportunity to bring together all those who are truly interested in peace in the Middle East. However, she said it is too early to talk about full-fledged peace talks as long as Palestinian violence against Israel continues. A peace settlement would require agreement on such contentious issues as borders, the fate of millions of Palestinian refugees and the status of Israel's disputed capital Jerusalem.
"Israel has been very clear. We don't think at this stage you can talk about final status issues, but such a meeting would certainly add to the capability of arriving at the core issues," she said.
3:33 PM |
A University of Florida student was Tasered and arrested after trying to ask U.S. Senator John Kerry about the 2004 election and other subjects during a campus forum.
Videos of the incident posted on several Web sites show officers pulling Andrew Meyer, 21, away from the microphone after he asks Kerry about impeaching President Bush and whether he and Bush were both members of the secret society Skull and Bones at Yale University.
"He apparently asked several questions - he went on for quite awhile - then he was asked to stop," university spokesman Steve Orlando said. "He had used his allotted time. His microphone was cut off, then he became upset."
GAINESVILLE, Fla. (AP) -- A university student with a history of taping his own practical jokes was Tasered by campus police and arrested after loudly and repeatedly trying to ask U.S. Senator John Kerry questions during a campus forum.
Meyer has his own Web site and it contains several "comedy" videos that he appears in. In one, he stands in a street with a sign that says "Harry Dies" after the latest Harry Potter book was released. In another, he acts like a drunk while trying to pick up a woman in a bar.
The site also has what is called a "disorganized diatribe" attributed to Meyer that criticizes the Iraq war, the news media for not covering the conflict enough and the American public for paying too much attention to celebrity news.
Meyer was arrested on charges of resisting an officer and disturbing the peace, according to Alachua County jail records, but the State Attorney's Office had yet to make the formal charging decision. Police recommended charges of resisting arrest with violence, a felony, and disturbing the peace and interfering with school administrative functions, a misdemeanor.
In 37 years of public appearances, through wars, protests and highly emotional events, I have never had a dialogue end this way. I believe I could have handled the situation without interruption, but again I do not know what warnings or other exchanges transpired between the young man and the police prior to his barging to the front of the line and their intervention. I asked the police to allow me to answer the question and was in the process of answering him when he was taken into custody. I was not aware that a taser was used until after I left the building. I hope that neither the student nor any of the police were injured. I regret enormously that a good healthy discussion was interrupted.
11:21 AM |
BAGHDAD, Sept. 17 — The Iraqi government said it had revoked the license of Blackwater USA, a private security company that provides protection for American diplomats across Iraq, after shots fired from an American convoy killed eight Iraqis.
Abdul-Karim Khalaf, a spokesman for Iraq’s Ministry of Interior, said the authorities had canceled the company’s license and barred its activity across Iraq. He said the government would prosecute the deaths, though according to the rules that govern private contractors, it was not clear whether the Iraqis had the legal authority to do so.
“This is a big crime that we can’t stay silent before,” said Jawad al-Bolani, Iraq’s interior minister, speaking on satellite television. “Anyone who wants to have good relations with Iraq has to respect Iraqis.”
The incident took place on Sunday in Nisour Square, an area in western Baghdad that is clogged with construction and concrete blocks. American officials said that a convoy of State Department vehicles came under fire, causing one to break down. It was towed. The officials did not say whether any of the convoy’s security guards fired back or whether they worked for Blackwater.
Blackwater USA was co-founded by former Navy Seal Erik Prince, a "billionaire right-wing fundamentalist Christian from a powerful Michigan Republican family. A major Republican campaign contributor, he interned in the White House of President George H.W. Bush and campaigned for Pat Buchanan in 1992. He founded the mercenary firm Blackwater USA in 1997 with Gary Jackson, another former Navy SEAL."
Prince's father, Edgar Prince, and Gary Bauer started the Family Research Council, where Prince interned. Prince's sister, Betsy DeVos, is a former chair of the Michigan Republican Party.
Blackwater USA received no-bid contracts in Iraq, Afghanistan, and "post-Katrina New Orleans" from the current Bush administration.
"America's Holy Warriors"
Erik Prince is "the secretive, mega-millionaire, right-wing Christian founder of Blackwater, the private security firm that has built a formidable mercenary force in Iraq," Chris Hedges wrote December 31, 2006, in Truthdig.
Prince "champions his company as a patriotic extension of the U.S. military. His employees, in an act as cynical as it is deceitful, take an oath of loyalty to the Constitution. These mercenary units in Iraq, including Blackwater, contain some 20,000 fighters. They unleash indiscriminate and wanton violence against unarmed Iraqis, have no accountability and are beyond the reach of legitimate authority. The appearance of these paramilitary fighters, heavily armed and wearing their trademark black uniforms, patrolling the streets of New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, gave us a grim taste of the future. It was a stark reminder that the tyranny we impose on others we will one day impose on ourselves," Hedges wrote.
11:20 AM |
"Among free men,” said Abraham Lincoln, “there can be no successful appeal from the ballot to the bullet; and those who take such appeal are sure to lose their cause and pay the costs.”
Yet we seemingly tolerate a rising level of violence that ignores our common humanity and our claims to civilization alike. We calmly accept newspaper reports of civilian slaughter in far off lands. We glorify killing on movie and television screens and call it entertainment. We make it easy for men of all shades of sanity to acquire weapons and ammunition they desire.
Too often we honor swagger and bluster and the wielders of force; too often we excuse those who are willing to build their own lives on the shattered dreams of others. Some Americans who preach nonviolence abroad fail to practice it here at home. Some who accuse others of inciting riots have by their own conduct invited them.
Some looks for scapegoats, others look for conspiracies, but this much is clear; violence breeds violence, repression brings retaliation, and only a cleaning of our whole society can remove this sickness from our soul.
For there is another kind of violence, slower but just as deadly, destructive as the shot or the bomb in the night. This is the violence of institutions; indifference and inaction and slow decay. This is the violence that afflicts the poor, that poisons relations between men because their skin has different colors. This is a slow destruction of a child by hunger, and schools without books and homes without heat in the winter.
This is the breaking of a man’s spirit by denying him the chance to stand as a father and as a man among other men. And this too afflicts us all. I have not come here to propose a set of specific remedies nor is there a single set. For a broad and adequate outline we known what must be done. “When you teach a man to hate and fear his brother, when you teach that he is a lesser man because of his color or his beliefs or the policies he pursues, when you teach that those who differ from you threaten your freedom or your job or your family, then you also learn to confront others not as fellow citizens but as enemies – to be met not with cooperation but with conquest, to be subjugated and mastered.
12:48 AM |
In a weird, frightening way, we believe in violent death. We regard it as a policy option, as much to do with self-preservation on a national scale as punishment for named and individual wrongdoers. We believe in war. For what is aggression – the invasion of Iraq in 2003, for example – except capital punishment on a mass scale? We "civilised" nations – like the dark armies we believe we are fighting – are convinced that the infliction of death on an awesome scale can be morally justified.
And that's the problem, I'm afraid. When we go to war, we are all putting on hoods and pulling the hangman's lever. And as long as we send our armies on the rampage – whatever the justification – we will go on stringing up and shooting and chopping off the heads of our "criminals" and "murderers" with the same enthusiasm as the Romans cheered on the men of blood in the Colosseum 2,000 years ago.
- Robert Fisk, In the Colosseum, thoughts turn to death
Defense Secretary Robert Gates told reporters on Friday at a Pentagon briefing that he couldn't predict how long U.S. forces would be in Iraq, how many, or even what their mission would be. ``We are in a very early stage in this,'' Gates said.
Refugees International has been sounding the alarm for almost a year that Iraqi refugee flows throughout the Middle East are overwhelming the region. More than 2.2 million persons are now displaced inside the country, and an additional 2.5 million have fled to neighboring countries. These numbers continue to grow with as many as 100,000 per month newly displaced within Iraq and 40,000 to 60,000 fleeing to Syria on a monthly basis. With Jordan and Syria now imposing entry requirements on Iraqis, it is becoming increasingly hard to leave the country. Many “safer” governorates inside Iraq have also closed their internal borders, unable to cope with the large influxes of displaced persons.
"Refugees International is extremely concerned by the growing numbers of displaced Iraqis, as well as by the few options that are available to them," continued Ms. Younes. "Whether or not U.S. troops stay or leave Iraq, it is clear that we must respond to the millions of people who cannot access housing, food, medical care and education for their children. Regardless of our future course in Iraq, these people are not going home soon."
Refugees International also addressed Ambassador Crocker's concern for Iraqis who have helped the U.S. and expressed disappointment that only 719 refugees have been resettled in the U.S. this year.
9:42 PM |
Shorter Bush speechifying: Ya, hey. Thanks for dying and getting your arms and legs blown off. Carry on because there's no end in sight. I'm The Commander Guy™. God bless me.
11:01 PM |
Government agencies are moving to gain access to telephone and internet customers' personal information without first getting a court order, according to a document obtained by CBCNews.ca that is raising privacy issues.
Public Safety Canada and Industry Canada have begun a consultation on how law enforcement and national security agencies can gain lawful access to customers' information. The information would include names, addresses, land and cellphone numbers, as well as additional mobile phone identification, such as a device serial number and a subscriber identity module (SIM) card number.
The consultation also seeks input on access to e-mail addresses and IP addresses. An IP address is a number that can be used to identify a computer's location.
The document says the objective of the consultation is to provide law enforcement and national security agencies with the ability to obtain the information while protecting the privacy of Canadians.
The document says that under current processes, enforcement agencies have been experiencing difficulties in gaining the information from telecommunications service providers, some of which have been demanding a court-issued warrant before turning over the data.
"If the custodian of the information is not co-operative when a request for such information is made, law enforcement agencies may have no means to compel the production of information pertaining to the customer," the document says. "This poses a problem in some contexts."
It says enforcement agencies may need the information for matters other than probes, such as informing next-of-kin of emergency situations, or because they are at the early stages of an investigation.
"The availability of such building-block information is often the difference between the start and finish of an investigation," according to the document.
Geist said the other problem with the consultation is that it appears as if the government agencies have already made up their minds on how to proceed and are simply conducting it for appearances' sake.
"The fear is that law enforcement knows what it would like to do — it would like to be able to obtain this information without court oversight — and so it has pulled together this consultation in the hope that they can use that to say they have consulted, and here are the safeguards that the consultation thought was appropriate."
Mélisa Leclerc, a spokeswoman for Public Safety Minister Stockwell Day, said the government was not trying to keep the consultation secret and would post the document on the internet on Thursday. The deadline for submissions would also be extended, although no decision on a date has been made yet.
9:26 PM |
“Partisanship is our great curse. We too readily assume that everything has two sides and that it is our duty to be on one or the other.”
-James Harvey Robinson, Amercian historian (1863-1936)
British forces have been sent from Basra to the volatile border with Iran amid warnings from the senior US commander in Iraq that Tehran is fomenting a "proxy war".
In signs of a fast-developing confrontation, the Iranians have threatened military action in response to attacks launched from Iraqi territory while the Pentagon has announced the building of a US base and fortified checkpoints at the frontier.
8:39 PM |
Interest in the hearing was hot, likened to Gen. William Westmorland's performance on Vietnam a generation ago. But some tempers were hotter. There weren't enough seats. The acoustics were bad. The overflow room was two buildings away, and it was muggy outside. Clearly, a lot of people were sick of this war, and a lot of other people were sick of the people who were sick of this war.
They started lining up before 8 a.m. Two opposing factions standing in line for five hours with nothing to do is not a recipe for harmony.
Suddenly, there was a lot of scuffling and a clot of Capitol police coagulated in the hallway. In the middle of the clot was the anti-war activist Rev. Lennox Yearwood, who apparently had attempted to push his way into the hearing room and was wrestled to the floor.
Television cameras scurried to the scene. Yearwood was lying on the ground with his legs askew, as though he had been hit by a car. Seizing the moment, Cindy Sheehan, the anti-war protesting mom, started chanting, "Arrest Bush, not Rev!" The police told her, if she said that one more time, they would have to arrest her. She said it one more time and put her hands behind her back before the officer even reached for the cuffs.
Sheehan, whose son was killed in Iraq, was among the first to be arrested. She was taken into custody shortly after noon and charged with disorderly conduct, Capitol Police said, because she shouted during the hearing.
Christy Anne Miller, Sheehan's sister, was also charged with disorderly conduct after allegedly shouting in the hallway.
Others arrested included Medea Benjamin, co-founder of Code Pink, who was charged with unlawful conduct after allegedly shouting during the hearing, and the Rev. Lennox Yearwood Jr., of the D.C.-based Hip Hop Caucus, who allegedly refused to move back after jumping in front of a line of people waiting to get inside the room. He was charged with disorderly conduct and assault on a police officer, Capitol Police said.
Skelton: That really pisses me off, Duncan.
Skelton: Those assholes. And I don't need a goddamn lecture from Dan Burton neither.
Hunter: Here's their strategy; there's about ten of them, so they say they’re going to sacrifice one every five minutes. If they do that I would boot the whole identifiable group out.
Skelton: How do you do that?
Hunter: Because they're all in the same dress--the pink people. They're an association. So you [makes out the door hand gesture, muttering].
Skelton: Might have to.
'Swear Him In'
by Ray McGovern
That's all I said in the unusual silence on Monday afternoon as first aid was being administered to Gen. David Petraeus' microphone before he spoke before the House Armed Services and Foreign Affairs Committees.
It had dawned on me that when House Armed Services Committee Chairman Ike Skelton (D-Mo.) invited Gen. Petraeus to make his presentation, Skelton forgot to ask him to take the customary oath to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. I had no idea that my suggestion would be enough to get me thrown out of the hearing.
9:06 PM |
The simplest questions are the most profound.
Where were you born?
Where is your home?
Where are you going?
What are you doing?
Think about these once in awhile, and watch your answers change.
- Richard Bach, Illusions
11:04 PM |
1:22 AM |
New product line: Just For Terrorists™ - covers up the grey in just 5 minutes so you can quickly get back to plotting world domination while looking hot for the ladies.
2:24 PM |
The intelligence community has its own problems with military calculations. Intelligence analysts computing aggregate levels of violence against civilians for the NIE puzzled over how the military designated attacks as combat, sectarian or criminal, according to one senior intelligence official in Washington. "If a bullet went through the back of the head, it's sectarian," the official said. "If it went through the front, it's criminal."
"Depending on which numbers you pick," he said, "you get a different outcome." Analysts found "trend lines . . . going in different directions" compared with previous years, when numbers in different categories varied widely but trended in the same direction. "It began to look like spaghetti."
8:44 PM |
As we crossed the border and saw the last of the Iraqi flags, the tears began again. The car was silent except for the prattling of the driver who was telling us stories of escapades he had while crossing the border. I sneaked a look at my mother sitting beside me and her tears were flowing as well. There was simply nothing to say as we left Iraq. I wanted to sob, but I didn’t want to seem like a baby. I didn’t want the driver to think I was ungrateful for the chance to leave what had become a hellish place over the last four and a half years.
The Syrian border was almost equally packed, but the environment was more relaxed. People were getting out of their cars and stretching. Some of them recognized each other and waved or shared woeful stories or comments through the windows of the cars. Most importantly, we were all equal. Sunnis and Shia, Arabs and Kurds… we were all equal in front of the Syrian border personnel.
We were all refugees- rich or poor. And refugees all look the same- there’s a unique expression you’ll find on their faces- relief, mixed with sorrow, tinged with apprehension. The faces almost all look the same.
The first minutes after passing the border were overwhelming. Overwhelming relief and overwhelming sadness… How is it that only a stretch of several kilometers and maybe twenty minutes, so firmly segregates life from death?
How is it that a border no one can see or touch stands between car bombs, militias, death squads and… peace, safety? It’s difficult to believe- even now. I sit here and write this and wonder why I can’t hear the explosions.
I wonder at how the windows don’t rattle as the planes pass overhead. I’m trying to rid myself of the expectation that armed people in black will break through the door and into our lives. I’m trying to let my eyes grow accustomed to streets free of road blocks, hummers and pictures of Muqtada and the rest…
How is it that all of this lies a short car ride away?
12:10 AM |
Cabinet likely to back 'punishing' Gaza civilians over Qassams
By Amos Harel, Aluf Benn and Barak Ravid, Haaretz Correspondents
Government sources believe most Security Cabinet members will support increasing financial pressure on the Gaza Strip during the cabinet's meeting in Jerusalem Wednesday, in response to the ongoing rocket fire at Israel.
Sderot parents, meanwhile, intend to demonstrate outside the Knesset building. Sources in the defense ministry said that Defense Minister Ehud Barak ordered the Israel Defense Forces Tuesday to examine the implications of temporarily cutting off the Strip from Israeli infrastructure, including electricity, fuel and the supply of basic commodities.
Barak ordered the defense establishment to examine "the operational and legal aspects of steps designed to limit Hamas' rule in the Gaza Strip." Barak told the IDF he wanted to determine the degree to which Israel was obligated to provide services for the Strip.
The call to cut off water, electricity, gas and fuel to the Strip is seen as an alternative - or, if unsuccessful, a prelude - to a broad IDF incursion into northern Gaza. Government sources, however, said Prime Minister Ehud Olmert was unlikely to authorize an escalation in Israel's military actions in the region.
Earlier Tuesday, Vice Premier Haim Ramon - one of a growing number of cabinet ministers in favor of cutting off utilities to Gaza - said that Israel should attach a "price tag" to every rocket launched at Israel.
"We will set a price tag for every Qassam, in terms of cutting off infrastructures," Ramon told Army Radio. "Hamas will ... know this in advance. We will not continue to supply 'oxygen' in the form of electricity, fuel, and water while they are trying to murder our children."
9:00 PM |
Administration officials rejected the idea that the trip was a publicity stunt ahead of the progress report by General Petraeus and Mr. Crocker.
“There are some people who might try to derive this trip as a photo opportunity,” the White House spokeswoman, Dana Perino, said. “We wholeheartedly disagree.”
1:27 PM |