Monday, May 14, 2007

Random News & Views Roundup

- Citing concerns about "financial realities" brought on by "college-age children and two decades of public service" (well, that's more creative than leaving to "spend time with his family" - although just about as credible), US deputy AG Paul McNulty announced his resignation on Monday:

McNulty began work as Gonzales's deputy in November 2005. McNulty became a central figure in the furor after he told the Senate Judiciary Committee in February that the White House played only a marginal role in the dismissals -- a characterization that conflicted with documents later released by Justice and with subsequent testimony.

He also said most of the prosecutors were fired for "performance-related" reasons. That statement angered many of the former U.S. attorneys, most of whom had sterling evaluations and had remained largely silent about their departures.

- The US military has called off its massive search involving some 4,000 soldiers who were combing the Iraqi countryside for 3 missing comrades after an alleged al-Qaeda related group posted a statement on a website stating that they had been captured and warning that the search should end.

Al Qaeda suggested it attacked the convoy as revenge for the rape and murder of a teenager last year in the same area.

"Remember what you have done in this place. You have violated our sister Abeer al-Janabi," it said, referring to the rape and murder of a 14-year-old and the killing of her family in Mahmudiya in March 2006.

A U.S. soldier was sentenced to 100 years in a military prison after pleading guilty in a case that enraged Iraqis.

...not to mention the rest of the world.

Correction: The search continues, despite the warning.

- Pentagon propaganda:

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Pentagon on Monday released the names of six former Guantanamo detainees who U.S. officials say re-emerged as Islamist fighters in
Afghanistan after their release from the U.S. military prision in Cuba.
"While we have long maintained that we would like to close Guantanamo, there are a number of highly dangerous men who if released would pose a grave danger to the public," explained Pentagon spokesman, Navy Cmdr. J.D. Gordon.

That's 6 out of how many who've been released? Meanwhile,:

WASHINGTON, May 14 — The military system of determining whether detainees are properly held at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, includes an unusual practice: If Pentagon officials disagree with the result of a hearing, they order a second one, or even a third, until they approve of the finding.

That's pretty darn handy. Imagine if the regular justice system worked that way.

These “do-overs,” as some critics call them, are among the most controversial parts of the military’s system of determining whether detainees are enemy combatants, and the fairness of the repeat hearings is at the center of a pivotal federal appeals court case.

And so they should be...

- After months and months and months of endless lineups and complaints regarding the constipated passport application system, the so-called "new" Conservative government has decided that maybe it should actually do something about the problem. Peter Mackay: useless as teats on a boar. Maybe US ambassador David Wilkins, who's warning everybody to get a passport (when you only need one for air travel into the US at this point), had a little something to do with Mackay's sudden awakening.

- Flippin' and a floppin': Duceppe and Flaherty.

- Pro-Palestinians in Canada to boycott bookshops owned by IDF donor

Pro-Palestinian Groups in Canada have launched a campaign to boycott a chain of bookstores owned by Jewish billionaire Gerry Schwartz, who donates money to lone IDF soldiers.

Schwartz and his wife Heather Reisman established the Heseg Foundation two years ago which supports hundred of lone soldiers serving in the IDF. The foundation donates roughly three million dollars a year.

The Coalition against Israeli Apartheid (CAIA) in Canada launched a campaign last week for a consumer boycott of Chapter and Indigo bookstores, which are owned by Schwartz and Reisman.

You'll recall that Schwartz and Reisman left the Liberal party in 2006 and threw their support behind Harper during the Israel/Lebanon war - the same war that the majority of Israelis now want Olmert, whose approval numbers are basically 0%, to resign over.

- Red Cross Report Says Israel Disregards Humanitarian Law

JERUSALEM, May 14 — The International Committee of the Red Cross, in a confidential report about East Jerusalem and its surrounding areas, accuses Israel of a “general disregard” for “its obligations under international humanitarian law — and the law of occupation in particular.”

The committee, which does not accept Israel’s annexation of East Jerusalem, says Israel is using its rights as an occupying power under international law “in order to further its own interests or those of its own population to the detriment of the population of the occupied territory.”

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