Thursday, March 22, 2007

U.S. Democrats press deadline for Iraq pullout - Yahoo! News

U.S. Democrats press deadline for Iraq pullout - Yahoo! News: "WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Democrats in the U.S. Congress pressed on Thursday for a timetable for a U.S. troop withdrawal from
Iraq, ignoring White House threats of a presidential veto on any bill that ties nearly $100 billion in combat funds to a 2008 pullout.
click here

The U.S. House of Representatives began debate on legislation to bring all American combat troops out of Iraq by September 1, 2008. A vote is expected by Friday."

Friday, March 16, 2007

Valerie Plame, the Spy Who's Ready to Speak for Herself -

Valerie Plame, the Spy Who's Ready to Speak for Herself -
Plame hopes to refute claims that her CIA work wasn't undercover.

Years of Silence Will End Today With Capitol Hill Testimony

Washington Post Staff Writers
Friday, March 16, 2007; Page A01

"People close to Plame say her primary goal in testifying before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform is to knock down persistent claims that she did not serve undercover."

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Justice Dept. Advocated Removing 15-20 Percent of U.S. Attorneys, E-Mails Show -

Justice Dept. Advocated Removing 15-20 Percent of U.S. Attorneys, E-Mails Show - "'As an operational matter, we would like to replace 15-20 percent of the current U.S. Attorneys--the underperforming ones,' Sampson wrote on Jan. 9, 2005. '...The vast majority of U.S. Attorneys, 80-85 percent, I would guess, are doing a great job, are loyal Bushies, etc., etc.'"

Monday, March 12, 2007

A Wrangle After Democrats Shun Fox as Debate Platform - New York Times

A Wrangle After Democrats Shun Fox as Debate Platform - New York Times: "March 12, 2007

A full year and a half ahead of the presidential election, the Fox News Channel has suddenly become an issue in the campaign, even as the network tries to cover that campaign.

A Democratic candidates’ debate sponsored by Fox News set for August from Reno, Nev., was abruptly canceled Friday night with a statement from the Nevada Democratic Party and Harry Reid, the majority leader in the Senate."

Halliburton Moving C.E.O. From Houston to Dubai - New York Times

Halliburton Moving C.E.O. From Houston to Dubai - New York TimesMarch 12, 2007

HOUSTON, March 11 — Halliburton, the big energy services company, said on Sunday that it would open a corporate headquarters in the United Arab Emirates city of Dubai and move its chairman and chief executive, David J. Lesar, there.

Skip to next paragraph
Associated Press

David J. Lesar, the chairman and chief executive of Halliburton.

The company will maintain its existing corporate office here as well as its legal incorporation in the United States, meaning that it will still be subject to domestic laws and regulations.

Friday, December 29, 2006


Friday, December 15, 2006

General Says Army Will Need To Grow -

General Says Army Will Need To Grow -

Friday, December 15, 2006; Page A01

Warning that the active-duty Army "will break" under the strain of today's war-zone rotations, the nation's top Army general yesterday called for expanding the force by 7,000 or more soldiers a year and lifting Pentagon restrictions on involuntary call-ups of

National Guard and Army Reserve troops.America at War

House leader proposes ethics task force - Yahoo! News

House leader proposes ethics task force - Yahoo! News

Some reform-minded lawmakers have proposed the creation of an independent body to oversee congressional behavior arguing that lawmakers were unable to police themselves.

But any proposal of outside oversight was sure to be opposed by some members of Congress, who traditionally do not like outsiders getting involved in running the legislature.

Pelosi also proposed creating a new intelligence oversight panel within the House Appropriations Committee. The proposal will help fulfill Democratic campaign pledges to enact all the recommendations made by the September 11 Commission and help strengthen congressional oversight of intelligence, she said.

Arab attitudes toward U.S. grow more negative: poll - Yahoo! News

Arab attitudes toward U.S. grow more negative: poll - Yahoo! News

The survey released by the Arab American Institute found that more than 80 percent of people in Saudi Arabia and Egypt had negative opinions of the United States, similar to previous years, but attitudes worsened in Morocco, Jordan and Lebanon.

The biggest increases were in Jordan, where negative U.S. ratings climbed to 90 percent from 62 percent and Morocco, where they grew to 87 percent from 64 percent.

Attitudes toward American people, movies and democracy were more negative than positive in most of the five countries.

Only U.S. education was viewed more positively than negatively in the five countries.

Notably, residents had negative attitudes toward most U.S. policy in the region. Opinions were most negative about the Iraq war and the Palestinian conflict, but also opposed the United States' policy on Lebanon, its promotion of democracy in the region and its challenge of
Iran's nuclear program.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Saudi will intervene in Iraq if U.S. withdraws: aide

Saudi will intervene in Iraq if U.S. withdraws: aide -

Wednesday, November 29, 2006; 10:50 AM

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Using money, weapons or its oil power, Saudi Arabia will intervene to prevent Iranian-backed Shi'ite militias from massacring Iraqi Sunni Muslims once the United States begins pulling out of Iraq, a security adviser to the Saudi government said on Wednesday.


Obaid listed three options being considered by the Saudi

- providing "Sunni military leaders (primarily ex-Baathist
members of the former Iraqi officer corps, who make up the
backbone of the insurgency) with the same types of assistance,"
including funding and arms.

- establishing new Sunni brigades to combat the
Iranian-backed militias.

- or the Saudi king "may decide to strangle Iranian funding
of the militias through oil policy. If Saudi Arabia boosted
production and cut the price of oil in half ... it would be
devastating to Iran ... The result would be to limit Tehran's
ability to continue funneling hundreds of millions each year to
Shi'ite militias in Iraq and elsewhere."

Saudi kingdom would back Iraq's Muslim Sunnis in the event of a wider sectarian conflict

Saudi ambassador to U.S. resigns -

The departure also came days after Turki fired a consultant who wrote an opinion piece published in The Washington Post that suggested the Saudi kingdom would back Iraq's Muslim Sunnis in the event of a wider sectarian conflict.

The article by a Saudi government security adviser, Nawaf Obaid, said the kingdom would intervene with funding and weaponry to prevent Shi'ite militias from attacking Iraq's Sunnis and suggested Saudi Arabia could bring down world oil prices to squeeze Shi'ite power Iran.

Saudi Arabia denied the assertions and Turki said he terminated a consultancy agreement with Obaid, who had said the views were his own and not of the Saudi government.

Turki was en route to Saudi Arabia on Tuesday where he would have meetings and take a prearranged vacation, the embassy official said.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Democrats want timeout on special-interest money - Yahoo! News

Democrats want timeout on special-interest money - Yahoo! News

Tue Dec 12, 2:20 PM ET

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Democrats taking control of Congress next month say they will try to ban for the remainder of fiscal 2007 the special-interest "pork" projects that got Republicans in so much trouble with voters in the November elections.

"We will place a moratorium on all earmarks until a reformed process is put in place," the incoming Democratic chairmen of the Senate and House appropriations panels, Sen. Robert Byrd (news, bio, voting record) of West Virginia and Rep. David Obey (news, bio, voting record) of Wisconsin, said late on Monday.

Leahy vows to guard privacy rights

Appellate Ruling Pushes Skilling Closer to Prison -

Wednesday, December 13, 2006; Page D03

Former Enron chief executive Jeffrey K. Skilling must report to a Waseca, Minn., prison soon, an appeals court judge ruled yesterday, because Skilling's appeal will not result in the reversal of all 19 of his criminal convictions.

UK 'plot' terror charge dropped

A Pakistani judge has ruled there is not enough
evidence to try a key suspect in an alleged airline bomb plot on
terrorism charges.
Armed police officer on duty at UK airport


Pakistan has presented Mr Rauf as one of the ringleaders behind the alleged plan to blow up flights out of London.


But an anti-terrorism court in Rawalpindi found no
evidence that he had been involved in terrorist activities or that he
belonged to a terrorist organisation.

As well as forgery charges, Mr Rauf has also been charged with carrying explosives.

But his lawyer says police evidence amounts only to bottles of hydrogen peroxide found in his possession.

Hydrogen peroxide is a disinfectant that can be used for bomb-making if other chemicals are added.

The BBC's Barbara Plett in Islamabad says the judge's
decision has reinforced the already widespread scepticism there about
the airliner plot.

Several commentators said the threat was deliberately
exaggerated to bolster the anti-terror credentials of Pakistani
President Pervez Musharraf and that it helped to demonise British
Muslims of Pakistani origin.


The August arrests led to increased airport security around the world, causing major disruption.

Passengers on many flights were forbidden to take liquids aboard aircraft.

Set Iraq timetable, most say: South Florida Sun-Sentinel

Set Iraq timetable, most say: South Florida Sun-Sentinel

Poll finds majority want fixed exit dates

By Maura Reynolds
Los Angeles Times
Posted December 13 2006

washington · A majority of Americans favor setting a fixed timetable for bringing troops home from Iraq and just 12 percent would support a plan to increase troop strength, an option under serious consideration by the military, a Los Angeles Times/Bloomberg poll has found.

A month after midterm elections that switched control of Congress to the Democrats, respondents expressed low confidence in President Bush's ability to resolve the conflict in Iraq.

By a hefty margin they said Iraq should be the top priority for the new Congress, with a plurality of 45 percent saying they had more trust in Democrats to handle the war.

Only 34 percent said they had more confidence in the president, who has rejected the idea of setting any timetable for withdrawing troops.

Almost two-thirds said they believe Iraq has descended into "civil war," which the Bush administration has denied.

"The public doesn't want the status quo any longer in Iraq and they believe the Democrats, rather than the president, will be best at finding a solution to the war," said polling director Susan Pinkus.

The poll results come at a time when Bush has come under pressure to change course in Iraq, most recently from the bipartisan Iraq Study Group.

Bush is seeking advice from other sources as well and is expected to unveil a new strategy in January.

A majority of 52 percent of the poll's respondents -- including nearly one in three Republicans -- said they preferred a "fixed timetable" for withdrawal, while only 26 percent of those surveyed favored the president's option of keeping troops on the ground until the country is secure.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Religion for a Captive Audience, Paid For by Taxes - New York Times

Religion for a Captive Audience, Paid For by Taxes - New York Times: "A JUDGE'S VIEW Robert W. Pratt, a federal judge in Iowa, ordered a prison ministry to repay more than $1.5 million in government money it received."

Congress approves offshore drilling bill - Yahoo! News

Congress approves offshore drilling bill - Yahoo! News: "The offshore legislation ends a 25-year ban on drilling in deep waters about 125 miles south of Florida's Panhandle"

Like the Nation, Military Families Divided on Iraq -

Like the Nation, Military Families Divided on Iraq - "A poll conducted last week by the Associated Press found that 63 percent of respondents did not expect a stable, democratic government to take root in Iraq, up from 54 percent in June."

Gore plans to initiate a grass-roots 'carbon freeze' movement - The Boston Globe

Gore plans to initiate a grass-roots 'carbon freeze' movement - The Boston Globe: "December 10, 2006

BERKELEY, Calif. -- Al Gore plans to start a grass-roots political movement next month to seek a 'freeze' on carbon emissions that scientists say are to blame for global warming.

The former vice president's campaign is modeled after the nuclear freeze movement of the 1980s. Gore said he planned to enlist groups ranging from entrepreneurs and activists to political leaders to push for stronger policies to limit the growth of greenhouse gases."

Reuters - A total of 40 bodies -- many of them shot and tortured -- were found across Baghdad on Saturday

Reuters AlertNet - FACTBOX-Security developments in Iraq, Dec 10:

"BAGHDAD - A total of 40 bodies -- many of them shot and tortured -- were found across Baghdad on Saturday, an Interior Ministry source said.

BAGHDAD - A mortar round landed on Kadhimiya district in northwestern Baghdad, killing two people and wounding two others on Saturday, an Interior Ministry source said.

MOSUL - A hospital source said they received the bodies of two policemen and a soldier with gunshot wounds on Saturday.

BAGHDAD - Clashes erupted between Shi'ite militias and a Sunni tribe in Amil district in southwestern Baghdad on Saturday, an Interior Ministry source said, adding fighting continued on Sunday.

BAGHDAD - Shi'ite militias attacked Sunni families in Adil district, western Baghdad, an Interior Ministry source said.

KIRKUK - Gunmen attacked a hairdresser's shop and killed its owner on Saturday in the ethnically mixed city of Kirkuk, 250 km (155 miles) north of Baghdad, police said."

Saturday, December 09, 2006

JURIST - Paper Chase: Senate Judiciary leaders introduce bill to restore habeas rights for detainees

JURIST - Paper Chase: Senate Judiciary leaders introduce bill to restore habeas rights for detainees: "JURIST] US Sen. Arlen Specter (R-PA) [official website; JURIST news archive], outgoing chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee [official website], and current ranking member of the committee Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) [official website] have introduced a bill which would restore habeas corpus rights to military detainees [JURIST news archive] and amend the Military Commissions Act of 2006 (MCA) [JURIST news archive]. A key provision in the MCA, which President Bush signed into law [JURIST report] last month, strips US courts of jurisdiction to consider writs of habeas corpus filed by detainees classified as enemy combatants.

Introducing the bill [statement text], S. 4081, Leahy said:

This bill would restore the great writ of habeas corpus, a cornerstone of American liberty for hundreds of years that Congress and the President rolled back in an unprecedented and unnecessary way with September's Military Commissions Act. Habeas corpus provides a remedy against arbitrary detentions and constitutional violations. It guarantees an opportunity to go to court, with the aid of a lawyer, to prove one's innocence. The Military Commissions Act eliminated that right, permanently, for any non-citizen determined to be an enemy combatant, or even 'awaiting' such a determination. That includes the approximately 12 million lawful permanent residents in the United States today, people who work for American firms, raise American kids, and pay American taxes."

Statement Of Sen. Patrick Leahy On S. 4081, Habeas Corpus Restoration Act

Statement Of Sen. Patrick Leahy On S. 4081, Habeas Corpus Restoration Act: "Following up on their earlier efforts to prevent the stripping of fundamental legal protections in the Military Commissions Act, Senators Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) and Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) have introduced the Habeas Corpus Restoration Act of 2006.

The bill would restore basic legal and human rights for 12 million lawful permanent residents in the United States that were rolled back as a result of the passage of the Military Commissions Act of 2006. Below is Sen. Leahy’s statement on the introduction of the bill, as well as his co-sponsorship of the Effective Terrorists Prosecution Act of 2006."

Congressional Ratings

Congressional Ratings: "But, now, as the Republican Congress is fading into history, their ratings have sunk a bit lower--just 13% now say they’re doing a good or an excellent job (see crosstabs).

A Rasmussen Reports survey of 1,000 Likely voters found that only 12% of Americans believe that Congress had passed any legislation in the preceding year that will “significantly improve life in America.” That’s down from 17% on Election Day. Showing that American distrust of politicians is alive and well, just 15% believe that most Members of Congress are sincerely interested in helping people. Seventy-two percent (72%) believe that most in Congress are primarily interested in advancing their own careers. Earlier in 2006, a Rasmussen Reports survey found that a plurality of Americans believe used-car salesmen are more trustworthy than Members of Congress."

Iraq Study Group Settles Debate Over 'Negative' War Coverage

Iraq Study Group Settles Debate Over 'Negative' War Coverage: "Iraq Study Group Settles Debate Over 'Negative' War Coverage"

Published: December 06, 2006 7:10 PM ET

NEW YORK: For years now, the debate has raged: Does the press overstate the level of violence in Iraq and ignore the overall positive aspect of the U.S. involvment? The Iraq Study Group report today, in its main claim that the situation in Iraq is now "grave" and "deteriorating" would seem to offer a clue to the answer, but more specific details -- providing a "slam dunk" (if we may use that phrase) on the side of the press -- are found in the Intelligence section of the report near its end, starting on page 93.

There we learn, bluntly, that "there is significant underreporting of the violence in Iraq" by the U.S. military. "The standard for recording attacks acts as a filter to keep events out of reports and databases," the report continues.

Looking at one day, the report found undercounting of violent attacks by more than 1000 percent.

Friday, December 08, 2006

The Blog | Tom Hayden: Troops Out, Oil Companies In: The Baker Agenda? | The Huffington Post

The Blog | Tom Hayden: Troops Out, Oil Companies In: The Baker Agenda? | The Huffington Post:

"Recommendation 63 says the US should 'assist' Iraqi leaders in privatizing the national oil industry into a 'commercial enterprise' to encourage investment by the multi-national oil companies.

Who said it was not about blood for oil?"

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Threats Wrapped in Misunderstandings -

Threats Wrapped in Misunderstandings - "'It is a report to solve American problems, and not to solve Iraq's problems,' said Ayad al-Sammarai, an influential Sunni Muslim politician.

The report arrives at a time of turmoil within the Iraqi government. Senior politicians from Iraq's two major sects, Sunnis and Shiites, have been assassinated or kidnapped in recent weeks. Entire ministries are under the control of sect-based political parties with their own militias.

Three weeks ago, as many as 150 employees were abducted from the Higher Education Ministry, run by a Sunni, by men in police uniforms who said they were from the Interior Ministry, which is controlled by Shiites. And last week, powerful politicians loyal to radical Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr walked out of the government, and have yet to return."

Cell Phone Beat - Cell Phone Beat-Welcome to the mobile world. Here we keep you updated with the latest cell phones, mobiles, Smart phones, PDAs, emer

Cell Phone Beat - Cell Phone Beat-Welcome to the mobile world. Here we keep you updated with the latest cell phones, mobiles, Smart phones, PDAs, emerging technologies and the latest from cell phone leaders e.g. Nokia, Motorola, Sony Ericsson, Samsung, LG, Cingular, Verizon...: "What Kaplan suggested in it opinion was that this bug will work whether the phone was switched off or was on as some sets can’t be fully powered down until you remove there batteries. Like for example Nokia handsets alarm function will function whether the phone is off or not.

The counter–surveillance consultant James Atkinson is of the opinion that Nextel, Samsung and Moto Razr are especially venerable to this bug and “They can be remotely accessed and made to transmit room audio all the time but you can do that without having physical access to the phone.”"

Monday, December 04, 2006

Death squads roam Baghdad's hospitals - Sunday Times - Times Online

Death squads roam Baghdad's hospitals - Sunday Times - Times Online: "The Sunday Times - World

The Sunday Times December 03, 2006

Death squads roam Baghdad's hospitals
Hala Jaber, Amman
EVERYONE seems to be desperate for money to cope with the insecurities of life in Baghdad these days, so Dr Salim Jawad was not surprised when a hospital porter took him to one side and asked whether he would be interested in making some cash.

Jawad, a busy surgeon and a Sunni, thought he was going to be urged to smuggle drugs out of the building so that they could be sold on the street. But the brutal proposition from the porter Ali, a Shi’ite from the Sadr City suburb of the capital, was far more shocking.

For every patient the doctor identified from the predominantly Sunni provinces of Diyala and Anbar and from the Adhamiyah district of Baghdad, he was told, he would be paid $300 (£151).

Jawad realised that he was being invited to pass death sentences on patients at the Medical City hospital in return for swift and surreptitious payments.

“You can make a fortune,” Ali told him calmly. “Doctor, if you have those patients in the future just tell me and I will give you $300 just for that information . . . and do not tell anyone about this little talk.”"

Is Iraq a civil war? Scholars say yes. Media debate it. |

Is Iraq a civil war? Scholars say yes. Media debate it. |

"Most scholars who study war view the Iraq situation as a civil war; the only debate is when it became one - in 2004 when the US transferred sovereignty to Iraqis, or early this year when the bombing of a Shiite mosque in Samarra sparked a wave of sectarian violence that continues? Academics cite the standard definition of civil war: groups from the same country fighting for political control, and a death toll of at least 1,000. A majority of Americans view the conflict as a civil war, polls show."

Videotape Offers a Window Into a Terror Suspect’s Isolation - New York Times

Videotape Offers a Window Into a Terror Suspect’s Isolation - New York Times: "Several guards in camouflage and riot gear approached cell No. 103. They unlocked a rectangular panel at the bottom of the door and Mr. Padilla’s bare feet slid through, eerily disembodied. As one guard held down a foot with his black boot, the others shackled Mr. Padilla’s legs. Next, his hands emerged through another hole to be manacled.

Wordlessly, the guards, pushing into the cell, chained Mr. Padilla’s cuffed hands to a metal belt. Briefly, his expressionless eyes met the camera before he lowered his head submissively in expectation of what came next: noise-blocking headphones over his ears and blacked-out goggles over his eyes. Then the guards, whose faces were hidden behind plastic visors, marched their masked, clanking prisoner down the hall to his root canal.

The videotape of that trip to the dentist, which was recently released to Mr. Padilla’s lawyers and viewed by The New York Times, offers the first concrete glimpse inside the secretive military incarceration of an American citizen whose detention without charges became a test case of President Bush’s powers in the fight against terror. Still frames from the videotape were posted in Mr. Padilla’s electronic court file late Friday."

Sunday, December 03, 2006 "By Philip Sherwell in New York, Sunday Telegraph
Last Updated: 11:51pm GMT 02/12/2006

The gulf's two military powers, Sunni-Muslim Saudi Arabia and Shia Iran, are lining up behind their warring religious brethren in Iraq in a potentially explosive showdown, as expectations grow in both countries that America is preparing a pull-out of its troops.

A pool of blood and a damaged vehicle after a bomb blast in Baghdad

The Saudis are understood to be considering providing Sunni military leaders with funding, logistical support and even arms, as Iran already does for Shia militia in Iraq.

The strategy — outlined in an article last week by Nawaf Obaid, a senior security adviser to the kingdom's government — risks spiralling into a proxy war between Saudi and Iranian-backed factions in the next development in Iraq's vicious sectarian conflict.

Saudi Arabia, America's closest ally in the Arab world, is considering backing anti-US insurgents because it is so alarmed that Sunnis in Iraq will be left to their fate — military and political — at the hands of the Shia majority.

However, a Saudi government spokesman said yesterday that Mr Obaid's view 'does not reflect the kingdom's policy, which uphold the security, unity and stability of Iraq with all its sects.'

President George Bush sent vice-president Dick Cheney to Riyadh last weekend after the Saudis demanded high-level talks about their concerns. They told him Iran was trying to establish itself as the dominant regional power through its influence in Iraq, Lebanon and the Palestinian territories.

Saudi fears were strengthened as it emerged that some senior US intelligence officials are urging the Bush administration to abandon stalled attempts to reach a compromise with Sunni dissidents and adopt a controversial 'pick a winner' strategy instead, giving priority to Shia and Kurd political factions.

The proposal is also known as the '80 per cent solution' since the Sunnis, who ruled the country under Saddam Hussein, comprise just 20 per cent of Iraq's 26 million population. It has been put forward as part of a crash White House review of Iraq strategy. Its backers claim that ambitious attempts to woo anti-US Sunni insurgents have failed, and now risk alienating Shia leaders as well, leaving the US without strong political allies in Iraq."

Funding Continues for Illness Scientists Dismiss -

Funding Continues for Illness Scientists Dismiss - "Funding Continues for Illness Scientists Dismiss
Gulf Syndrome Has Believers in Congress

By David Brown
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, December 3, 2006; Page A01

Fifteen years after the end of the 1991 war with Iraq, a Texas researcher is in line to get as much as $75 million in federal funding to press his studies of 'Gulf War syndrome,' even though most other scientists long ago discounted his theories.

Epidemiologist Robert W. Haley has been trying for 10 years to prove that thousands of Persian Gulf War troops were poisoned by a combination of nerve gas, pesticides, insect repellents and a nerve-gas antidote. With the help of $16 million in past funding obtained by his backers in Congress and the Pentagon, Haley has argued that his 'toxicity hypothesis' is the best explanation for the constellation of physical complaints that many veterans reported after returning from the Gulf."

Rumsfeld Memo on Iraq Proposed ‘Major’ Change - New York Times

Rumsfeld Memo on Iraq Proposed ‘Major’ Change - New York Times: "y MICHAEL R. GORDON and DAVID S. CLOUD
Published: December 3, 2006

WASHINGTON, Dec. 2 — Two days before he resigned as defense secretary, Donald H. Rumsfeld submitted a classified memo to the White House that acknowledged that the Bush administration’s strategy in Iraq was not working and called for a major course correction.

“In my view it is time for a major adjustment,” wrote Mr. Rumsfeld, who has been a symbol of a dogged stay-the-course policy. “Clearly, what U.S. forces are currently doing in Iraq is not working well enough or fast enough.”

Nor did Mr. Rumsfeld seem confident that the administration would readily develop an effective alternative. To limit the political fallout from shifting course, he suggested the administration consider a campaign to lower public expectations.

“Announce that whatever new approach the U.S. decides on, the U.S. is doing so on a trial basis,” he wrote. “This will give us the ability to readjust and move to another course, if necessary, and therefore not ‘lose.’ ”"

As Trucking Rules Are Eased, a Debate on Safety Grows - New York Times

As Trucking Rules Are Eased, a Debate on Safety Grows - New York Times: "In the course of pursuing its case, the family broached a larger issue: whether the Bush administration’s decision to reject tighter industry regulation and instead reduce what officials viewed as cumbersome rules permitted a poorly trained trucker to stay behind the wheel, alone, instead of resting after a long day of driving.

After intense lobbying by the politically powerful trucking industry, regulators a year earlier had rejected proposals to tighten drivers’ hours and instead did the opposite, relaxing the rules on how long truckers could be on the road. That allowed the driver who hit Ms. Edwards to work in the cab nearly 12 hours, 8 of them driving nonstop, which he later acknowledged had tired him."

U.S. airstrikes in Iraq kill 8 - Yahoo! News

U.S. airstrikes in Iraq kill 8 - Yahoo! News: "1 hour, 57 minutes ago

BAGHDAD (Reuters) - U.S. airstrikes destroyed two foreign fighter safe houses west of Baghdad on Saturday night, killing five insurgents, two women and a child, the U.S. military said on Sunday.

Residents put the death toll in the village of al-Lihaib near the town of Garma much higher, saying as many as 24 people had been killed and some buildings leveled. The figures could not be independently confirmed."

Saturday, December 02, 2006

KOMO-TV - Seattle, Washington - News - Local political operative busted in Internet sting

KOMO-TV - Seattle, Washington - News - Local political operative busted in Internet sting: "By KOMO Staff
Watch the video
SEATTLE - An arrest is sending shockwaves through the halls of local political power.

Larry Corrigan has worked on a number of Republican campaigns, but now he's in jail after he was caught in an Internet sting, accused of trying to solicit sex from young girls.

Corrigan's orange jail uniform he was wearing in court Thursday is a far cry from the business suit he wore at the King County Prosecutor's Office for 25 years.

Until last year, Corrigan was the Director of Operations and Budget. Now he's suspected of attempted child rape and communicating with a minor for sex.

'The suspect was communicating online with someone whom he believed was a 13 year old girl.' said Debra Brown with the Seattle Police Department. 'In fact, that person was a detective from our Internet Crimes Against Children unit.'

Seattle police say Corrigan used the AOL screen name LCOR102 to chat with the fictitious 13-year-old girl. Court documents say he bragged he'd already 'had sex with a 14-year-old girl from Kansas.'

Police say LCOR102 eventually switched to the screen name Palisade199. Detectives say he told the 13 year old he was in his 50's and asked her to meet and perform a very specific sex act.

Police say Corrigan also sent the fictitious girl e-mails that contained pornographic images of the kind of sex he wanted to have.

Court documents say on Wednesday, Corrigan showed up at a Capitol Hill video store to meet the fictitious girl. Instead, police threw him in jail. They also searched his Magnolia home and seized his computer.

News of Corrigan's arrest swept through the corridors of Republican power in King County. Sources describe him as a longtime political operative; a former right hand man to King County Prosecutor Norm Maleng.

Sources say Corrigan also worked on previous sheriff's campaigns for now-Congressman Dave Reichert.

Now, Corrigan finds himself snared in an Internet police sting aimed at online predators.

'We're out there aggressively looking for these guys,' Brown said. 'And unfortunately, this gentleman was caught.'

The judge ruled Thursday evening that Corrigan would be allowed to go home without posting bail."

Afghanistan Opium Crop Sets Record -

Afghanistan Opium Crop Sets Record - "By Karen DeYoung
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, December 2, 2006; Page A01

Opium production in Afghanistan, which provides more than 90 percent of the world's heroin, broke all records in 2006, reaching a historic high despite ongoing U.S.-sponsored eradication efforts, the Bush administration reported yesterday.

In addition to a 26 percent production increase over past year -- for a total of 5,644 metric tons -- the amount of land under cultivation in opium poppies grew by 61 percent. Cultivation in the two main production provinces, Helmand in the southwest and Oruzgan in central Afghanistan, was up by 132 percent."

L.A. Archdiocese to Pay $60 Million to Settle 45 Sex Abuse Cases -

L.A. Archdiocese to Pay $60 Million to Settle 45 Sex Abuse Cases - "Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, December 2, 2006; Page A02

LOS ANGELES, Dec. 1 -- Almost five years after a sex scandal erupted within the Roman Catholic Church, the nation's largest archdiocese announced Friday that it will pay $60 million to settle 45 lawsuits alleging sex abuse by priests.

The deal, which involves incidents alleged to have occurred before 1955 and after 1986, constitutes the largest settlement made by the archdiocese and follows years of legal battles waged under the leadership of Cardinal Roger Mahony. The archdiocese still faces more than 500 lawsuits by other individuals alleging sexual abuse."

Iraqi violence "self-sustaining": U.S. intel chief - Yahoo! News

Iraqi violence "self-sustaining": U.S. intel chief - Yahoo! News: "Fri Dec 1, 9:38 PM ET

CAMBRIDGE, Massachusetts (Reuters) - Sectarian violence in
Iraq has become 'self-sustaining,' increasing the challenge of stabilizing the country, the top U.S. intelligence official said on Friday.

'Violence between the Sunnis and Shia has become self-sustaining and has spread out to a wider range of ... groups and actors,' said John Negroponte, the U.S. national intelligence director.

Negroponte, who previously served as U.S. ambassador to Iraq, said the violence 'presents great challenges toward Iraqi Prime Minister (Nuri) al-Maliki in trying to implement reforms geared to improve life for all Iraqis and to reverse the escalating trend of ethno-sectarian violence.

'Nonetheless, the key to moving Iraq in the direction of a fully functioning, stable democracy must come from Iraqi leaders themselves,' Negroponte said at Harvard University."

Court to decide case on Bush's faith initiative - Yahoo! News

Court to decide case on Bush's faith initiative - Yahoo! News: "Fri Dec 1, 3:39 PM ET

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Supreme Court agreed on Friday to decide whether a challenge can go forward arguing that
President George W. Bush's faith-based initiative violates the constitutional requirement on church-state separation.

The justices said they would hear a Bush administration appeal of a ruling that allowed a lawsuit by a Wisconsin group called the Freedom from Religion Foundation and three of its members to proceed.

In January 2001, right after he became president, Bush issued an executive order creating he White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives and similar centers in a number of federal agencies.

The White House said the purpose was to help religious and community groups compete for federal funding and to eliminate 'unnecessary legislative, regulatory and other bureaucratic barriers' to their efforts to provide social services.

The lawsuit said administration officials violated the Constitution by organizing national and regional conferences at which faith-based groups were singled out as being especially worthy of federal funding due to their religious orientation.

It said the officials made public appearances and gave speeches throughout the United States intended to promote and advocate funding for religious groups.

The Supreme Court will decide whether the group and its members as taxpayers have the legal right or standing to bring the lawsuit, and thus whether the challenge can go forward or must be dismissed. The justices are not ruling on the constitutionality of the initiative."

House to vote on offshore drilling bill - Yahoo! News

House to vote on offshore drilling bill - Yahoo! News: "Fri Dec 1, 5:04 PM ET

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Republican leaders in the U.S. House of Representatives, who will yield to a Democratic majority in January, on Friday agreed to allow a vote on a limited offshore oil and natural gas drilling bill, which would open 8.3 million acres in the Gulf of Mexico off Florida.

House Majority Leader John Boehner decided to allow the vote on the limited drilling bill passed by the Senate. The move ends months of jockeying by House Republicans who had tried to convince their Senate colleagues to support a bill that would open nearly all U.S. Atlantic and Pacific coastal waters more than 100 miles offshore.

With Congress facing an abbreviated 'lame duck' session before it adjourns later this month, key House Republicans capitulated.

The plan to rescind a 25-year ban on drilling off Florida's coast and redistribute billions of dollars in federal royalties to four nearby Gulf Coast states is set for a vote on Tuesday.

Under the approach chosen by leaders, debate will be limited to 40 minutes and no amendments can be offered, but a two-thirds majority is required for the bill to pass."

Telegraph | News | Shoe Rapist kept store of stilettos as trophies

Telegraph | News | Shoe Rapist kept store of stilettos as trophies: "(Filed: 18/07/2006)

A company manager and 'pillar of the community' has been exposed after 20 years as a serial sex attacker known as the Shoe Rapist."

Iraq Panel to Urge Pullout Of Combat Troops by '08 -

Iraq Panel to Urge Pullout Of Combat Troops by '08 - "Friday, December 1, 2006; Page A01

The bipartisan Iraq Study Group plans to recommend withdrawing nearly all U.S. combat units from Iraq by early 2008 while leaving behind troops to train, advise and support the Iraqis, setting the first goal for a major drawdown of U.S. forces, sources familiar with the proposal said yesterday."

Friday, December 01, 2006

Anti-Iraq war Rep. to head House intelligence panel - Yahoo! News

Anti-Iraq war Rep. to head House intelligence panel - Yahoo! News: "WASHINGTON (Reuters) -
Iraq war opponent Silvestre Reyes will become chairman of the U.S. House of Representatives intelligence committee when Democrats take control of Congress in January, Speaker-designate Nancy Pelosi said on Friday.

In choosing Reyes, a former border patrol agent and Vietnam War veteran, Pelosi skipped over two more senior Democrats to head the committee.

The top-ranking Democrat on the panel, California Rep. Jane Harman (news, bio, voting record), has had strained relations with Pelosi, and the next in line, Rep. Alcee Hastings (news, bio, voting record) of Florida, is a former federal judge who was ousted from that post after allegations of corruption.

Pelosi said of Reyes: 'When tough questions are required, whether they relate to intelligence shortcomings before the 9/11 attacks or the war in Iraq, or to the quality of intelligence on
Iran or
North Korea, he does not hesitate to ask them.'

Reyes, a five-term congressman who won reelection in November, is expected to seek more information about the Bush administration's classified programs since the September 11 attacks to gather data on enemies inside and outside America.

The committee has oversight of U.S. intelligence agencies, including the
FBI, National Security Agency and Defense Intelligence Agency."

Security Of Electronic Voting Is Condemned -

Security Of Electronic Voting Is Condemned - "Paper Systems Should Be Included, Agency Says

By Cameron W. Barr
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, December 1, 2006; Page A01

Paperless electronic voting machines used throughout the Washington region and much of the country 'cannot be made secure,' according to draft recommendations issued this week by a federal agency that advises the U.S. Election Assistance Commission.

The assessment by the National Institute of Standards and Technology, one of the government's premier research centers, is the most sweeping condemnation of such voting systems by a federal agency."

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Do Not Pry Open Until Christmas -

Do Not Pry Open Until Christmas - "This year, Consumer Reports magazine gave an award for the worst plastic clamshell packaging to a warehouse-store version of a Uniden cordless phone set: It took 9 minutes 22 seconds to unwrap completely and nearly caused injury to the person opening it. According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, injuries from plastic packaging resulted in 6,400 visits to emergency rooms in 2004.

Uniden is trying to come up with easier-to-open packaging, but spokesman Rex Holloway said many retailers don't want change. 'We're kind of caught between a rock and a hard place,' he said.

On, one reviewer of the remote-controlled Roboreptile by Wow Wee singled out the toy's solitary confinement: 'Getting him out of the box was a major pain. Apparently they're concerned about packs of them escaping and running amok devouring Barbies in the stores at night or something.'

It's not just the difficulty that steams shoppers, it's the environmental impact of all that plastic. 'It's just so wasteful,' said Jessica McBride, 30, of Falls Church, who actively avoids buying anything that has too much plastic wrapping."

Brazil concerned over U.S. probe into forced labor - Yahoo! News

Brazil concerned over U.S. probe into forced labor - Yahoo! News: "Brazilian steel has been at the center of trade disputes with the United States for years. The United States ended safeguards on imports of certain steel products in December 2003 after a
World Trade Organization panel ruled against them.

The government statement said Brazilian steel companies signed an agreement in 2005 not to buy charcoal using forced labor. Over the past two years, 945 charcoal suppliers had been inspected and violators shut down, it said.

Most forced labor occurs along the agricultural frontier encroaching on the
Amazon rain forest. Poor migrants looking for jobs fall into debt peonage. Often, they are stripped of their documents and stopped from leaving by armed guards.

The International Labor Organization, a
United Nations agency, in a September report gave the government of President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva credit for freeing thousands of poor Brazilians from forced labor. But it said Brazil needed harsher fines, longer prison sentences and judicial enforcement of penalties to combat the forced labor."

Bush Dismisses Iraq Panel’s Pullback Plan - New York Times

Bush Dismisses Iraq Panel’s Pullback Plan - New York Times: "Mr. Bush dismissed a reported decision by an independent bipartisan panel to call for a gradual withdrawal of troops.

Transcript: President Bush’s News Conference With Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki of Iraq (November 30, 2006)
Iraq Panel to Urge Pullback of Combat Troops (November 30, 2006)

'I know there's a lot of speculation that these reports in Washington mean there's going to be some kind of graceful exit out of Iraq,' the president said during a joint news conference with Mr. Maliki, referring to the panel's reports that are expected next week. 'We're going to stay in Iraq to get the job done so long as the government wants us there.'"

Judge says Dems can seek more than just phone costs in jam case -

Judge says Dems can seek more than just phone costs in jam case - "He said Democrats can't include the entire cost of their seven-month-long, get-out-the-vote operation. The costs of 'postage, signs, rent and other such expenditures that were not proximately (almost directly) impacted by the telephone system interference would generally not be recoverable,' he ruled.

In rejecting Republicans' arguments, Mangones said jamming the phone lines prevented Democrats from communicating with field offices, volunteers and voting sites.

'To the extent that the (Democrats) can establish a direct link between the precluded communications and the hindered (voter turnout) activity, such evidence would warrant consideration for purposes of damages,' he said.

The Republicans hired a telemarketing firm to place hundreds of hang-up calls to phone banks for the Democratic Party and the Manchester firefighters union, a nonpartisan group offering rides to the polls. The election featured a hotly contested U.S. Senate race in which U.S. Rep. John Sununu defeated Democratic Gov. Jeanne Shaheen.

Two Republican operatives served prison time after pleading guilty to criminal charges in the case, and Shaun Hansen, the telemarketer whose firm placed the calls, agreed this month to plead guilty. Hansen is scheduled to be sentenced in February.

A national GOP campaign official, James Tobin, was convicted by a jury and sentenced to 10 months in prison, but is appealing." - Iraqi PM Al-Maliki Tells Bush, Rice It's No 'Big Deal' to Control Mahdi Army - Politics | Republican Party | Democratic Party | Politica - Iraqi PM Al-Maliki Tells Bush, Rice It's No 'Big Deal' to Control Mahdi Army - Politics | Republican Party | Democratic Party | Political Spectrum: "AMMAN, Jordan — President Bush and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice pressed the Iraqi prime minister on Thursday to disband a heavily armed Shiite militia blamed for much of the country's sectarian violence and were told by Nouri al-Maliki that controlling the group was no 'big deal.'" - CNN Political Ticker - CNN Political Ticker: "Thursday, November 30, 2006
Clinton calls Iraq 'civil war,' against withdrawal timetable
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Former President Bill Clinton told CNN Thursday he agrees with those who have labeled the situation in Iraq a 'civil war,'"

US bound for recession, tips RBA board member - Business - Business -

US bound for recession, tips RBA board member - Business - Business - "December 1, 2006

AN INFLUENTIAL Reserve Bank board member, Warwick McKibbin, says the United States is heading for recession.

The chairman of the US Federal Reserve, Ben Bernanke, expects a smooth slowdown, but Professor McKibbin predicts a housing-induced contraction will make 'the Fed's job very difficult'.

'I think there will be a recession in the US next year because of the housing market coming off and consumers slowing down their spending,' the Australian National University economist told the Herald."

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

W's girls gone wild

New York Daily News - Home - W's girls gone wild: "U.S. officials ask twins to leave Argentina: report


U.S. officials have reportedly asked a pair of embarrassing Americans to leave Argentina: the Bush twins.

Twins mania - including tabloid tales of nude hotel romps and serious security lapses - has gripped the media in Buenos Aires, where Jenna and Barbara Bush celebrated their 25th birthday over the Thanksgiving weekend.

ABC News reported that U.S. Embassy officials 'strongly suggested' the twins cut short their trip, but they refused." - International: Goodbye girls: Bush twins told to go - International: Goodbye girls: Bush twins told to go: "Tuesday, November 28, 2006 - Updated: 06:09 AM EST

Amid Argentinian tabloid reports that President Bush’s irrepressible twin daughters have run naked through a hotel hallway and were targeted by thieves, U.S. embassy officials have “strongly suggested” the spirited lasses cut short their trip to Buenos Aires, ABC News reported, citing diplomatic and security sources.
But the First Girls won’t go! They’ve stayed on, celebrating their 25th birthday over the weekend and garnering even more headlines. They aren’t due to leave till Thursday.
Officials told ABC the local media’s amor for Las Dos Bushitas upstaged publicity plans for newly arrived U.S. Ambassador Anthony Wayne. An embassy statement officially denied it wants them out, however: “The Embassy welcomes the visit and has provided close support and cooperation.”
The Argentinean press blitz followed a report last week that Barbara Bush’s purse and cell phone were lifted last weekend while she dined at the popular San Telmo outdoor marketplace, despite the vigilance of her Secret Service retinue. The report of nude hallway frolicking was denied by the hotel staff, by the way.
According to sources, the U.S. embassy encouraged the two girls to leave because the media spotlight was making security difficult. Last week, an ABC News producer was able to walk into their hotel unchecked and speak with Barbara Bush while she checked her e-mail in the lobby. Jenna sat talking with friends on a sofa nearby. There were no Secret Service agents to be seen."

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Judge strikes down part of Bush anti-terror order - Yahoo! News

Judge strikes down part of Bush anti-terror order - Yahoo! News: "By Dan Whitcomb 1 hour, 44 minutes ago

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - A federal judge in Los Angeles, who previously struck down sections of the Patriot Act, has ruled that provisions of an anti-terrorism order issued by
President George W. Bush after September 11 are unconstitutional.

U.S. District Judge Audrey Collins found that part of the law, signed by Bush on September 23, 2001 and used to freeze the assets of terrorist organizations, violated the Constitution because it put no apparent limit on the president's powers to place groups on that list.

Ruling in a lawsuit brought against the
Treasury Department in 2005 by the Center for Constitutional Rights, Collins also threw out a portion of Bush's order which applied the law to those who associate with the designated organizations.

'This law gave the president unfettered authority to create blacklists, an authority president Bush then used to empower the Secretary of the Treasury to impose guilt by association,' said David Cole of the Washington-based Center for Constitutional Rights.

'The court's decision confirms that even in fighting terror, unchecked executive authority and trampling on fundamental freedoms is not a permissible option,' he said in a statement

The 45-page decision, made public on Monday, came in response to petitions by both sides to throw out the lawsuit and rule in their favor. The judge allowed to stand part of the order that would penalize those providing services to groups on the list.

The lawsuit was brought on behalf of five organizations, including the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Elam, which wants to create a separate state for the Tamil people in Sri Lanka, and Partiya Karkeran Kurdistan, which represents Kurds in Turkey.

Both groups had been designated by the United States as foreign terrorist organizations.

In 2004 Collins struck down a section of the Patriot Act that prohibited lawyers from providing expert advice to groups suspected of having terrorist links."

Justice Department reviews role in eavesdropping program - Yahoo! News

Justice Department reviews role in eavesdropping program - Yahoo! News: "Tue Nov 28, 12:23 AM ET

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Justice Department is launching an internal review of its participation in the Bush administration's controversial domestic eavesdropping program, the department's inspector general told congressional leaders on Monday.

The review, which congressional Democrats have sought for nearly a year, will examine the Justice Department's role in the warrantless domestic spying program run by the super-secret National Security Agency (NSA), Justice Department Inspector General Glenn Fine said.

'After conducting initial inquiries into the program, we have decided to open a program review that will examine the department's controls and use of information related to the program and the department's compliance with legal requirements governing the program,' Fine said in a letter.

The letter was sent to
House Judiciary Committee Chairman James Sensenbrenner, a Wisconsin Republican, and Rep. John Conyers (news, bio, voting record), the Michigan Democrat who will succeed Sensenbrenner as head of the panel in January."

Bush Pledges Continued U.S. Presence in Iraq -

Bush Pledges Continued U.S. Presence in Iraq - "uesday, November 28, 2006; 1:22 PM

RIGA, Latvia, Nov. 28 -- President Bush, rejecting what he called 'pessimistic' assessments of his Middle East policy, pledged Tuesday to make necessary changes in Iraq but vowed never to pull out U.S. troops before completing the mission there."

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Fed's Bernanke to join China mission in December - Yahoo! News

Fed's Bernanke to join China mission in December - Yahoo! News: "The 1-1/2-day visit in mid-December has an ambitious agenda to push, from urging China to let its yuan currency to appreciate further to persuading it to reduce barriers to foreign investment and crack down on piracy and theft of intellectual property."

American foes step into the Iraq fray |

American foes step into the Iraq fray | "By Dan Murphy | Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor
CAIRO – This week, Iraq has drawn decisively closer to the two countries the US alleges are the greatest threats to peace and stability in the Middle East.

Tuesday, Syria restored diplomatic ties with Iraq that were broken by Saddam Hussein in 1980 back when Iraq was fighting Iran. Also Tuesday, Iraqi President Jalal Talabani's office said he would travel to Tehran this weekend to meet with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to talk about restoring order to Iraq.
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The US has repeatedly accused Iran and Syria of stirring up violence inside Iraq, but recently the notion of isolating them as punishment has lost favor in Washington. A growing number President Bush's advisers are urging direct dialogue with both nations. They argue that engagement could convince Syria to do more to prevent foreign fighters from entering Iraq; Iran could exert more influence on Iraq's dominant Shiite political parties (and their militias) to compromise more."

U.S. Fights Highly Trained Militants in Iraq - New York Times

U.S. Fights Highly Trained Militants in Iraq - New York Times: "November 23, 2006

FORWARD OPERATING BASE CALDWELL, Iraq, Nov. 23 — Sunni Arab militant groups suspected of ties to Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia have established training camps east of Baghdad that are turning out well-disciplined units willing to fight American forces in set-piece battles, American military commanders said Thursday.

American soldiers fought such units in a pitched battle last week in the village of Turki, 25 miles south of this Iraqi Army base in volatile Diyala Province, near the Iranian border. At least 72 insurgents and two American officers were killed in more than 40 hours of fighting. American commanders said they called in 12 hours of airstrikes while soldiers shot their way through a reed-strewn network of canals in extremely close combat.

Officers said that in this battle, unlike the vast majority of engagements in Diyala, insurgents stood and fought, even deploying a platoon-sized unit that showed remarkable discipline and that one captain said was in “perfect military formation.” Insurgents throughout Iraq usually avoid direct confrontation with the Americans, preferring to use hit-and-run tactics and melting away at the sight of American armored vehicles.

Lt. Col. Andrew Poppas, commander of the Fifth Squadron, 73rd Cavalry, a unit of the 82nd Airborne Division, said in an interview that the fighters at Turki “were disciplined and well-trained, with well-aimed shots.”

“We hadn’t seen anything like this in years,” he said."

Chile's Student Activists: A Course in Democracy -

Chile's Student Activists: A Course in Democracy - "Saturday, November 25, 2006; Page A01

SANTIAGO, Chile -- When the Class of 2006 graduates in a few weeks, its members will look back at a year in which some of the most important lessons took place outside the classroom.

In their black and white school uniforms, they launched what became known here as the 'Penguin Revolution,' filling the streets, calling for educational reforms, occupying school buildings and sparking a nationwide debate that was quickly labeled a milestone for the nation's young democracy.

Chilean police detain a high school student during a demonstration for education reforms last month in Santiago.
Chilean police detain a high school student during a demonstration for education reforms last month in Santiago. (By Claudio Santana -- Associated Press)
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Extracurricular activities for student leaders this year meant negotiating with senior government officials. When they text-messaged friends, at times it was to organize rallies that attracted as many as 800,000 people. A few became nationally known public figures in their own right."

U.S.: Recent Iraq violence aimed at toppling gov't - Yahoo! News

U.S.: Recent Iraq violence aimed at toppling gov't - Yahoo! News: "President George W. Bush is to meet with Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki on Wednesday and Thursday in Amman, Jordan to discuss the increasingly dire situation in Iraq.

'Securing Baghdad and gaining control of the violent situation will be a priority agenda item when
President Bush meets with Prime Minister al-Maliki in just a few days,' Stanzel said."

Monday, November 20, 2006

Pentagon May Suggest Short-Term Buildup Leading to Iraq Exit -

Pentagon May Suggest Short-Term Buildup Leading to Iraq Exit - "Monday, November 20, 2006; Page A01

The Pentagon's closely guarded review of how to improve the situation in Iraq has outlined three basic options: Send in more troops, shrink the force but stay longer, or pull out, according to senior defense officials.

Insiders have dubbed the options 'Go Big,' 'Go Long' and 'Go Home.' The group conducting the review is likely to recommend a combination of a small, short-term increase in U.S. troops and a long-term commitment to stepped-up training and advising of Iraqi forces, the officials said."

Embittered Insiders Turn Against Bush -

Embittered Insiders Turn Against Bush - "Since the Nov. 7 elections, Republicans have pinned their woes on the president.

'People expect a level of performance they are not getting,' former House speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) said in a speech. Many were livid that Bush waited until after the elections to oust Rumsfeld.

'If Rumsfeld had been out, you bet it would have made a difference,' Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) said on television. 'I'd still be chairman of the Judiciary Committee.'

And so, in what some saw as a rebuke, Senate Republicans restored Trent Lott (Miss.) to their leadership four years after the White House helped orchestrate his ouster, with some saying they could no longer place their faith entirely in Bush.

Some insiders said the White House invited the backlash. 'Anytime anyone holds themselves up as holy, they're judged by a different standard,' said David Kuo, a former deputy director of the Bush White House's faith-based initiatives who wrote 'Tempting Faith,' a book that accused the White House of pandering to Christian conservatives. 'And at the end of the day, this was a White House that held itself up as holy.'"

BBC NEWS | UK | Poisoned ex-spy 'slightly worse'

BBC NEWS | UK | Poisoned ex-spy 'slightly worse': "Mr Litvinenko had been investigating the murder of Russian journalist Anna Politkovskaya, an outspoken critic of Mr Putin and Russian policy in Chechnya, who was shot dead at her Moscow apartment building last month.

Speaking to the BBC last week, he said a contact had approached him to say they should talk, and they arranged to meet at a restaurant in Piccadilly.

'He gave me some papers which contained some names - perhaps names of those who may have been involved in the murder of Anna Politkovskaya - and several hours after the meeting I started to feel sick.'

Two weeks later Mr Litvinenko was taken seriously ill and admitted to hospital.

Mr Henry said Mr Litvinenko was 'quite seriously sick' and there was 'no doubt' he had been poisoned by thallium, probably on 1 November.

'It is tasteless, colourless, odourless. It takes about a gram - you know, a large pinch of salt like in your food - to kill you', he said.

Russian tycoon Boris Berezovsky, who also lives in Britain, said thallium was a 'special' poison, that 'you couldn't just get over the counter'.

'You could say it is only available to secret services,' he said."

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Rape law reform roils Pakistan's Islamists |

Rape law reform roils Pakistan's Islamists | "Putting an end to a skirmish but not to the longer battle, Pakistan's lower house of parliament voted on Wednesday to amend the Hudood Ordinances, the country's religious-based laws that govern rape and vice.

Before, women who reported rape were compelled to produce four male witnesses to the crime or face charges that they had committed adultery. If the law passes the upper house, it will replace that burden of proof, deemed both virtually impossible and misogynistic, with standard evidentiary procedures.
In the Monitor
Thursday, 11/16/06

If Delta merges: fares up, fewer seats

Now, how to put Iraqis in charge
Prices fall, US inflation worries ease
Sudan closing off Darfur to outside world
Opinion: A role for Iran in an Iraq exit strategy
More stories...

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Wednesday's vote was a chance for lawmakers to show that secular law trumps religious edict in Pakistan. But this small victory for secularism comes only a day after provincial legislators in the North West Frontier Province (NWFP), a stronghold of conservatism, passed a bill establishing an Islamic accountability bureau - a kind of vice and virtue squad with analogies to the Taliban."

BREITBART.COM - White House dismisses Hersh article

BREITBART.COM - White House dismisses Hersh article: "'If the Democrats won on November 7th, the vice president said, that victory would not stop the administration from pursuing a military option with Iran,' Hersh wrote, citing a source familiar with the discussion.

The Democrats wrested control of both the House of Representatives and the Senate from President George W. Bush's Republican Party in the November 7 vote.

Cheney said the White House would circumvent any restrictions imposed by a Democratic legislature 'and thus stop Congress from getting in its way' on Iran, which denies accusations it is seeking to develop nuclear weapons.

In his New Yorker article, Hersh also reported that a classifed draft CIA assessment had found no firm evidence of a secret drive by Iran to develop nuclear weapons, as alleged by the White House."

Democrats to quickly target oil industry tax breaks -

Democrats to quickly target oil industry tax breaks -

"WASHINGTON (AP) -- House Democrats are targeting billions of dollars in oil company tax breaks for quick repeal next year. A broader energy proposal that would boost alternative energy sources and conservation is expected to be put off until later.

Hot-button issues such as a tax on the oil industry's windfall profits or sharp increases in automobile fuel economy probably will not gain much ground given the narrow Democratic majorities in the House and Senate.

Incoming House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, in an outline of priorities over the first 100 hours of the next Congress in January, promises to begin a move toward greater energy independence 'by rolling back the multibillion dollar subsidies for Big Oil.'"

Senior Democrat renews call for military draft - Yahoo! News

Senior Democrat renews call for military draft - Yahoo! News: "Asked on CBS' 'Face the Nation' if he was still serious about the proposal for a universal draft he raised a couple of years ago, he said, 'You bet your life. Underscore serious.'

'If we're going to challenge
Iran and challenge
North Korea and then, as some people have asked, to send more troops to
Iraq, we can't do that without a draft,' he said.

Rangel, who opposed the 2003 invasion of Iraq, also said he did not think the United States would have invaded Iraq if the children of members of Congress were sent to fight. He has said the U.S. fighting force is comprised disproportionately of people from low-income families and minorities.

'I don't see how anyone can support the war and not support the draft. I think to do so is hypocritical,' he said."

Kissinger says US victory in Iraq is impossible - Yahoo! News

Kissinger says US victory in Iraq is impossible - Yahoo! News: "47 minutes ago

LONDON (Reuters) - Former U.S. secretary of state Henry Kissinger said on Sunday it was impossible for the United States to achieve military victory in

'If you mean by clear military victory an Iraqi government that can be established and whose writ runs across the whole country, that gets the civil war under control and sectarian violence under control ... I don't believe that is possible,' he said."

BBC NEWS | Middle East | Kidnappers seize Iraqi minister

BBC NEWS | Middle East | Kidnappers seize Iraqi minister: "Gunmen have kidnapped an Iraqi deputy health minister from his home in Baghdad, security sources have said.

Several men, some in uniform, arrived in police cars and pick-up trucks to seize Ammar al-Saffar, police said.

Mr Saffar's kidnap comes less than a week after dozens of people were abducted from the education ministry."

Democrats Split on How Far to Go With Ethics Law - New York Times

Democrats Split on How Far to Go With Ethics Law - New York Times:

"Their initial proposals, laid out earlier this year, would prohibit members from accepting meals, gifts or travel from lobbyists, require lobbyists to disclose all contacts with lawmakers and bar former lawmakers-turned-lobbyists from entering the floor of the chambers or Congressional gymnasiums.

None of the measures would overhaul campaign financing or create an independent ethics watchdog to enforce the rules. Nor would they significantly restrict earmarks, the pet projects lawmakers can anonymously insert into spending bills, which have figured in several recent corruption scandals and attracted criticism from members in both parties. The proposals would require disclosure of the sponsors of some earmarks, but not all.

Some Democrats say their election is a mandate for more sweeping changes, and many newly elected candidates — citing scandals involving several Republican lawmakers last year — made Congressional ethics a major issue during the campaign. After winning the House on election night, Representative Nancy Pelosi, the House Democratic leader, promised “the most honest, most open and most ethical Congress in history.”

Senator Barack Obama, an Illinois Democrat tapped by party leaders last year to spearhead ethics proposals, said he was pushing for changes with more teeth. “The dynamic is different now,” Mr. Obama said Friday. “We control both chambers now, so it is difficult for us to have an excuse for not doing anything.”

He is pushing to create an independent Congressional ethics commission and advocates broader campaign-finance changes as well. “We need to make sure that those of us who are elected are not dependent on a narrow spectrum of individuals to finance our campaigns,” he said."

CHICAGO SUN-TIMES :: Metro & Tri-State :: Man sets himself on fire on Kennedy

CHICAGO SUN-TIMES :: Metro & Tri-State :: Man sets himself on fire on Kennedy: "As horrified Friday-morning commuters watched, a man apparently doused himself with gasoline and lit himself on fire along the Kennedy Expy. near a 25-foot-tall Loop sculpture titled 'Flame of the Millennium.'

A homemade sign was found near his charred body that read, 'Thou Shalt Not Kill,' said State Police Lt. Lincoln Hampton. Police are reviewing a videotape that also was found near the body."

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Khaleej Times Online - Saudi threatens to cut ties with Britain over probe: report

Khaleej Times Online - Saudi threatens to cut ties with Britain over probe: report: "19 November 2006

LONDON - Saudi Arabia has threatened to suspend diplomatic links with Britain unless it blocks a probe into an alleged multi-million pound slush fund for some members of its royal family, the Sunday Times reported.

The Serious Fraud Office (SFO), which investigates and prosecutes complex fraud cases, has been examining claims that British defence company BAE Systems established a 60 million pound fund (89 million euros, 114 million dollars).

This allegedly provided perks such as luxury cars to ensure that the Saudis kept buying from BAE, the paper said.

The Saudi ambassador to London, Prince Mohammed bin Nawaf, visited Prime Minister Tony Blair’s chief of staff, Jonathan Powell, at Downing Street in September, the Sunday Times reported, quoting anonymous sources.

He said that unless the inquiry was dropped, diplomatic ties would be cut, the paper added.

Intelligence co-operation over Al Qaeda would also be stopped, it said.

The ultimatum came after SFO lawyers persuaded a Swiss magistrate to force disclosure of details about confidential Swiss bank accounts, it added."

Friday, November 17, 2006

Drug Doubles Endurance, Study Says - New York Times

Drug Doubles Endurance, Study Says - New York Times: "Published: November 16, 2006

Given that some athletes will take almost anything to gain a one percent edge in performance, what might they do for a 100 percent improvement? That temptation is made somewhat more real by a report today in a leading journal about a drug that doubles the physical endurance of mice running on treadmills. And it could only be more tempting, because the drug in question has also been reported to extend the lifespan of mice.

An ordinary lab mouse will run about one kilometer — five-eights of a mile — on a treadmill before collapsing from exhaustion. But mice given resveratrol, a minor component of red wine and other foods, run twice as far.

They also have a reduced heart rate and energy-charged muscles, just as trained athletes do, according to an article published online in Cell by Johan Auwerx and his colleagues at the Institute of Genetics and Molecular and Cellular Biology in Illkirch, France.

“Resveratrol makes you look like a trained athlete without the training,” Dr. Auwerx (pronounced OH-wer-ix”) said in an interview."

Debate Grows Over Beefing Up U.S. Force in Iraq -

Debate Grows Over Beefing Up U.S. Force in Iraq - "'Without additional combat forces, we will not win this war,' McCain said, describing inadequate U.S. troop numbers to clear insurgent strongholds, stem sectarian violence and train Iraqi security forces. 'We need to do all these things if we are to succeed. And we will need more troops to do them.'

Military officials and defense experts, however, said yesterday that significantly escalating the number of U.S. combat troops in Iraq is largely implausible because it would severely strain the military, would be unsustainable for more than a few months and would offer no discernable long-term benefit."

In Visit to Vietnam, Bush Cites Lessons for Iraq - New York Times

In Visit to Vietnam, Bush Cites Lessons for Iraq - New York Times: "Published: November 17, 2006

HANOI, Nov. 17 — In his first day in the capital of a country that was America’s wartime enemy during his youth, President Bush said today that the American experience in Vietnam contained lessons for the war in Iraq. Chief among them, he said, was that “we’ll succeed unless we quit.”"

U.S. Searching for Americans Abducted in Southern Iraq - New York Times

U.S. Searching for Americans Abducted in Southern Iraq - New York Times: "Published: November 17, 2006

BAGHDAD, Iraq, Nov. 17 — American and British military forces scoured farmland in southern Iraq today looking for four American security contractors and their Austrian colleague, who were abducted from a supply convoy on Thursday afternoon at a checkpoint operated by men in Iraqi police uniforms, American officials said."

Florida opens criminal probe in Mark Foley case - Yahoo! News

Florida opens criminal probe in Mark Foley case - Yahoo! News: "Thu Nov 16, 9:37 PM ET

MIAMI (Reuters) - Florida has opened a full criminal investigation into sexually explicit Internet messages from disgraced former Republican U.S. Rep. Mark Foley (news, bio, voting record), whose resignation amid scandal helped Democrats win control of Congress, officials said on Thursday."

Thursday, November 16, 2006


Iraq government in crisis as staff abducted, tortured - Yahoo! News: "10 minutes ago

BAGHDAD (AFP) - Kidnappers tortured many of the dozens of hostages seized from a government building and killed some of them, a minister said, warning that
Iraq no longer had an effective government.

Higher Education Minister Abed Dhiab al-Ujaili, a Sunni Arab member of the Shiite-led unity government, said some 75 hostages -- 40 of them his ministry's staff -- were in captivity after the raid by militiamen wearing police-style uniforms.

'Those who were set free told us that a few of the hostages have been killed, while most of them were tortured,' he told AFP. 'I'm very much concerned about their welfare,' he said of the remaining hostages.

Ujaili's comments came as the sectarian violence in the capital showed no let-up.

Gunmen stormed a bakery in the mixed Zayuniyah neighbourhood and killed nine Shiite workers in the latest attack by Sunni insurgents on a trade that has traditionally been carried out by the majority community.

Fifteen other civilians were killed in Iraq, including 10 in shootings in Baquba, north of the capital.

Ujaili said he was stepping down from the government until it secures the release of all hostages and takes action against Shiite militias suspected of infiltrating the security forces to carry out kidnappings and murders.

'I am stepping down until something has been taken actively, there's not just talking,' he told BBC radio. 'The police force should be investigated and should put the right people in the right place.'

Asked if he felt there was currently no effective government in Iraq, Ujaili replied: 'That's right, I feel, yeah, there is no effective government.'"


27B Stroke 6:

"The outgoing chairman of the Senate Judiciary committee, Senator Arlen Specter (R-Pa.), introduced a new spying bill on Tuesday that would increase the number of personnel involved in issuing warrants, makes minor expansions to the number of legislators told about warrantless surveillance and transfer lawsuits challenging the warrantless wiretapping program to the Supreme Court. In September, a Specter-written bill that dramatically loosened the nation's surveillance laws passed out of committee but was never voted on by the full Senate.

The American Civil Liberties Union immediately blasted the bill as an last minute attempt to legalize the government's warrantless wiretapping program, despite the fact that the new bill has no such language. The ACLU sees the bill as a Trojan Horse that could be approved by the Senate and then sent to a committee to be reconciled with an already-passed House bill written by Heather Wilson. That bill immunizes telecoms such as AT&T from pending lawsuits, allows the government to engage in wide-spread warrantless surveillance without getting warrants, and legalizes snooping on Americans' communications with anyone outside the country by redefining the term 'electronic surveillance.'

'Now is not the time for Congress to focus on controversial issues,' Caroline Fredrickson, Director of the ACLU Washington Legislative Office said in a press release. 'The majority of the appropriations bills have yet to be adopted. If there is to be a new spirit of bipartisan cooperation in Congress, lawmakers must not legislate in haste and without a full understanding of the facts. If the new Specter bill were adopted, it would be reconciled with the horrible Wilson bill, putting the privacy of innocent Americans at great risk.'"

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Ex-lobbyist in corruption scandal goes to prison - Yahoo! News

Ex-lobbyist in corruption scandal goes to prison - Yahoo! News: "CUMBERLAND, Maryland (Reuters) - Disgraced former lobbyist Jack Abramoff, at the center of a political corruption scandal that contributed to the Republican loss of Congress in last week's elections, began serving his prison sentence on Wednesday.

The federal Bureau of Prisons said Abramoff, who has been cooperating in the government's influence-peddling investigation, arrived at about 6:30 a.m. (1130 GMT) at a minimum security federal prison camp in Cumberland, Maryland, 130 miles west of Washington.

The bureau said he is beginning to serve a sentence of five years and 10 months in prison handed down by a federal judge in Miami for fraud in the purchase of a Florida casino cruise line.

The Abramoff election-year scandal has reached into the White House and the Congress. Democrats in the mid-term elections were aided by voter anger over a series of congressional scandals, including the one involving Abramoff, a onetime Republican lobbyist.

Former Republican Rep. Bob Ney (news, bio, voting record) of Ohio pleaded guilty last month to illegally accepting trips, meals, drinks, tickets to concerts and sporting events and other items worth tens of thousands of dollars in return for official acts performed on behalf of Abramoff and his clients.

Two former aides to ex-Rep.
Tom DeLay of Texas, the former House majority leader, also have pleaded guilty. DeLay resigned in June while fighting unrelated campaign-finance charges in Texas and being dogged by questions about relations with Abramoff.

The scandal also has reached into the White House, with the conviction of former Bush administration official David Safavian and the resignation of Susan Ralston, an aide to top presidential political adviser Karl Rove."

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

US, Saudi, China rank among worst on climate change: group - Yahoo! News

US, Saudi, China rank among worst on climate change: group - Yahoo! News: "Mon Nov 13, 12:57 PM ET

NAIROBI (AFP) - Oil-consuming giants the United States and China along with oil-producing behemoth Saudi Arabia rank among the world's worst countries in dealing wth climate change, a report said.

Their dependence on fossil fuels coupled with what some see as short-sighted energy policies earned them the dubious distinction of placing at or near the bottom of a survey of 56 industrialized or industrializing nations, it said.

The United States, the world's leading polluter, ranked 53 in the annual study by Germanwatch, a German environmental group, released here on the sidelines of a UN climate change conference.

Saudi Arabia placed dead last, while China fell from 29 on last year's list to 54, according to the survey based on an evaluation of greenhouse gas emissions and climate policy, it said.

The United States has refused to accept mandatory cuts of the emissions blamed for the earth's rising temperatures and has consistantly rated poorly on environmental policy matters, according the group.

Saudi Arabia, meanwhile, was chided for its poor national and international climate policy and energy inefficiency.

Experts suggested that China, the world's number two polluter, tumbled so significantly because of its growing dependence on carbon-intensive electricity generation to fuel its exploding economy.

At the upper end of the scale, seven European countries -- led by Sweden, Britain and Denmark, respectively -- and a trio of developing economies -- Argentina, Brazil, and India -- were deemed among the top ten, it said.

Others in the top ten were Malta, Germany, Hungary and Switzerland, while France ranked 12th, leading the group to call for Europe to take the lead in global efforts to combat climate change."

The Columbus Dispatch - Business

The Columbus Dispatch - Business: "Suspect arrested yesterday, to be arraigned Thursday
Tuesday, November 14, 2006
Denise Trowbridge

A KeyBank vice president has been arrested after being accused of embezzling $29 million from the company, the FBI said yesterday.

David Francis Verhotz, a senior vice president and managing director of KeyBank’s international banking Global Trade Services division, was arrested Saturday at Cleveland Hopkins International Airport after an investigation by the FBI and KeyBank."

Top U.S. official warns China on piracy anger - Yahoo! News

Top U.S. official warns China on piracy anger - Yahoo! News: "Tue Nov 14, 6:45 AM ET

BEIJING (Reuters) - Rampant Chinese counterfeiting is eroding American support for expanding bilateral trade, U.S. Commerce Secretary
Carlos Gutierrez said on Tuesday, holding out a complaint to the
World Trade Organization (WTO) as an option.

Gutierrez told business executives in Beijing that illegal copying of medicines and other kinds of intellectual property (IP) threatened consumers' health."

Guantanamo detention cases must be dismissed: U.S. - Yahoo! News

Guantanamo detention cases must be dismissed: U.S. - Yahoo! News: "Mon Nov 13, 7:37 PM ET

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Bush administration said on Monday that Guantanamo prisoners have no constitutional right to challenge their detention before U.S. federal judges, and the lawsuits by hundreds of detainees must be dismissed.

In papers filed with a U.S. appeals court in Washington, Justice Department attorneys gave their most detailed argument yet that the cases must be dismissed because of the tough anti-terrorism law signed by
President George W. Bush last month.

Lawyers for the prisoners have argued the new law does not give the U.S. government the power to arrest suspects overseas and imprison them indefinitely without any charges and without allowing them to challenge their detention in U.S. court.

They say a provision of the law unconstitutionally suspends the right under habeas corpus, a long-standing principle of American law, for detainees to contest their imprisonment.

Justice Department attorneys disagreed. 'There is no constitutional habeas right for an enemy alien held outside the United States to challenge his detention,' they said. 'No actual habeas rights have been suspended.'

After Bush signed the Military Commissions Act of 2006 into law, the Justice Department told federal district court judges they no longer have jurisdiction over some 200 cases covering more than 400 prisoners at the U.S. military base at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba.

Department lawyers told the appeals court the new law and a similar law, the Detainee Treatment Act that Congress approved late last year, provide 'an unprecedented level of judicial review for the claims of the enemy aliens held at Guantanamo.'"

Gunmen snatch 150 Iraq ministry staff - World -

Gunmen snatch 150 Iraq ministry staff - World - "Gunmen snatch 150 Iraq ministry staff
November 15, 2006

GUNMEN wearing Iraqi police commando uniforms kidnapped about 150 staff from a government building in central Baghdad yesterday, the head of the parliamentary education committee said.

Alaa Makki interrupted a parliamentary session to say that about 150 people, both Shiites and Sunnis, had been abducted in the 9.30am raid on the Higher Education Ministry building.

However, a public servant who saw the raid said the gunmen checked identity cards to sort Sunnis from Shiites, then drove off with only Sunni men.

'They were checking identity cards in the car park. They picked only the Sunni employees. They even took the man who was just delivering tea,' the man said.

Police were watching, but did nothing, he said.

Mr Makki urged the Prime Minister, Nouri al-Maliki, and the interior and defence ministers to rapidly respond to what he called a national catastrophe.

The gunmen had a list of names of those to be taken and claimed to be on a mission from the Government's anti-corruption body, Mr Makki said. Those kidnapped included the ministry's deputy general directors, employees, and visitors."

Monday, November 13, 2006

Olbermann taps a well of discontent as the anti-O'Reilly

Olbermann taps a well of discontent as the anti-O'Reilly: "'I think,'' says MSNBC General Manager Dan Abrams, 'that Keith Olbermann may become a model for the newscast of the future.''

And sure, Abrams is going to say that because he's Olbermann's boss. Besides, the MSNBC ratings have been on a roll lately -- helped by the 67 percent jump in viewership for Olbermann's show in the year...

Suddenly, everyone wants Olbermann. Last week, he and political veteran Chris Matthews teamed up to anchor MSNBC's midterm election coverage.

The result? Abrams called it "a major turning point for this network.'' Ratings were up across the board and the coveted 25-to-54 age demographic increased 111 percent from the 2002 midterm election.


Pelosi Endorses Murtha as Next Majority Leader -

Pelosi Endorses Murtha as Next Majority Leader -

"in her first real decision as the incoming speaker, Pelosi said she was swayed by Murtha's early stance for a withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq. Her letter of endorsement yesterday made clear that she sees Iraq as the central issue of the next Congress and that she believes a decorated Marine combat veteran at the helm of the House caucus would provide Democrats ammunition in their fight against congressional Republicans and President Bush on the issue.

'I salute your courageous leadership that changed the national debate and helped make Iraq the central issue of this historic election. It was surely a dark day for the Bush Administration when you spoke truth to power,' she wrote. 'Your strong voice for national security, the war on terror and Iraq provides genuine leadership for our party, and I count on you to lead on these vital issues.'

Murtha responded, 'I am deeply gratified to receive the support of Speaker Pelosi, a tireless advocate for change and a true leader for our Party and our country.'"

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Despite Billions Spent, Rebuilding Incomplete -

Despite Billions Spent, Rebuilding Incomplete - "'What reconstruction?' Othman said in an interview last week. 'Today we are drinking untreated water from a plant built decades ago that was never maintained. The electricity only visits us two hours a day. And now we are going backwards. We cook on the firewood we gather from the forests because of the gas shortage.'

Othman's view is shared by many across the country. In interviews last week, Iraqis expressed frustration not just with the United States but with Iraqi leaders, too, for pocketing aid money that was supposed to be for everyone.

'When the occupation came and we heard the promises, we said, 'Now the conditions in the city will improve.' But things got worse,' said Ahmed Mohammed, 45, a teacher in the central province of Salah al-Din. 'We know that large amounts of money have been dedicated to the city, but they were all stolen.'"

Bush approval drops, Democrats' goals backed: poll - Yahoo! News

Bush approval drops, Democrats' goals backed: poll - Yahoo! News: "Sat Nov 11, 9:58 PM ET

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Just days after Democrats took over Congress, Americans embraced their top goals and
President George W. Bush's job approval rating slid to 31 percent, according to a Newsweek poll issued on Saturday.

Huge majorities of those polled said they approved of the legislative priorities cited by Democratic leaders after their party seized control of the Senate and the House of Representatives from Republicans, the magazine said.
The strongest support, 92 percent, was for lowering drug prices for retirees on Medicare by allowing the government to negotiate directly with drug companies. Some three-quarters of respondents said it should be a top priority, according to Newsweek.

Americans also supported raising the federal minimum wage (89 percent), investigating government contracts in Iraq (89 percent) and cutting the interest rate of federal student loans (88 percent).

Bush's 31-percent job approval rating, down from 35 percent a week earlier, was a new low in Newsweek's polling. Some 63 percent disapproved of the Republican president's job performance, and a full two-thirds agreed that 'he won't be able to get much done' in the last two years of his term.

The drop in Bush's approval rating came after Wednesday's resignation of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, who had been a lightning rod for criticism of the administration's handling of the war in Iraq."