Archive for August, 2006

July deadliest month in Iraq, tallies show

Wednesday, August 16th, 2006

More Iraqi civilians appear to have been killed in July than in any other month of the war, according to national and morgue statistics, suggesting that the much-vaunted Baghdad security plan started in June by the new government had failed.An average of more than 110 Iraqis were killed per day in July, according to figures from Iraq’s Health Ministry and the Baghdad morgue. At least 3,438 civilians died violently that month, a 9 percent increase over the total in June and nearly twice as many as in January.

The rising numbers indicate that sectarian violence is spiraling out of control, and reinforce an assertion that many senior Iraqi officials and American military analysts have been making in recent months – that the country is already embroiled in a civil war, with the U.S.-led forces caught between Sunni Arab guerrillas and Shiite militias.

Mad dog on a leash

Wednesday, August 16th, 2006

…I learned that there is a vast difference between Jews, or people of Israel, and the warmongering Zionists who control the state of Israel, just as there is between most American citizens and the cowardly neo-fascist chickenhawks who control the United States. The people of both regimes cry out against the barbaric genocide and ethnic cleansing perpetrated in their name — they shriek, they march in protest, but the world media pushed the “mute” button long ago, and no sound emerges from the weeping masses. As these two “democracies” force their way across the Middle East, it’s as if Charles Manson is stalking the innocent with a mad dog on a leash. Neither can be reasoned with, and no living creature in their path is safe. But it is easy to tell where they’ve been, because the landscape is littered with rotting corpses of innocent men, women and children, with mass graves and displaced millions fleeing for their lives.

Buchanan: Olmert’s war and the next one

Wednesday, August 16th, 2006

…With our War Party discredited by the failed policies it cheered on in Lebanon and Iraq, there will come a clamor that Bush must “go to the source” of all our difficultly Iran. Only thus can the War Party redeem itself for having pushed us and Israel into two unnecessary and ruinous wars. And the drumbeat for war on Iran has already begun.

“(T)he dangers continue to mount abroad,” wails the Weekly Standard in its lead editorial. “How Bush deals with Ahmadinejad’s terror-supporting and nuclear-weapons pursuing Iran will be the test” of his administration. Yes, the supreme test.

Bush is on notice from the neocons and War Party that have all but destroyed his presidency: Either you take down Iran, Mr. Bush, or you are a failed president.

If the president is still listening to these people, Lord help the republic.

Bush Calls for Sealing of Syrian Borders

Wednesday, August 16th, 2006

In a joint appearance with Vice President Dick Cheney and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Bush stated that the administration is now operating a war on terror on three fronts: Iraq, Afghanistan and Lebanon. The president is hopeful that a UN Security Council resolution, calling for international troops to help the Lebanese central government gain control of Hezbollah-dominated areas, will take this over on this new “front”.

“We must help people in both Lebanon and Israel return to their homes and begin rebuilding their lives,” Bush told reporters, “without fear of renewed violence and terror.”

Bush placed the blame for the violence first on Hezbollah. “Hezbollah attacked Israel, Hezbollah started the crisis,” he said, “and Hezbollah suffered a defeat in this crisis.”

However, Bush also asserted his belief that Hezbollah has been armed by Iran, with weapons passing through Syria. “I know they claim they didn’t have anything to do with it,” the President told reporters, “but sophisticated weaponry ended up in the hands of Hezbollah fighters, and many assume and many believe that that weaponry came from Iran through Syria.”

The United States and ally nations plan to call for UN troops to seal off Syrian borders and ports soon after the Hezbollah resolution is considered.

Mexico poll protests turn violent

Wednesday, August 16th, 2006

Mexican riot police fired tear gas and used clubs to break up a protest by supporters of left-wing presidential challenger Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador.

Leftist lawmakers were among at least 30 people injured in the scuffles outside Congress in Mexico City.

Mr Lopez Obrador’s supporters have been camped out in protest at the 2 July election they say was stolen by conservative rival Felipe Calderon.

This is the first time the authorities have used force on the protesters.

Mr Lopez Obrador later told his supporters that the events showed the authorities are “taking off their masks and putting aside their talk of supposed legality and respect”.

Left-Wing Protests Spread to Highways, Banks

“…We have to toughen up the campaign. It is going to be spread across the country because this is a national problem,” said Gerardo Fernandez, a spokesman for the left-wing Party of the Democratic Revolution.

Activists swung open toll barriers for hours on several main highways serving Mexico’s three biggest cities: Mexico City, Guadalajara and Monterrey. Also hit were highways to the Pacific coast beach resort of Acapulco and Nuevo Laredo on the US border.

Palast: So Osama walks into this bar…

Wednesday, August 16th, 2006

So, Osama Walks into This Bar, See? and Bush says, “Whad’l’ya have, pardner?” and Osama says…

But wait a minute. I’d better shut my mouth. The sign here in the airport says, “Security is no joking matter.” But if security’s no joking matter, why does this guy dressed in a high-school marching band outfit tell me to dump my Frappuccino and take off my shoes? All I can say is, Thank the Lord the “shoe bomber” didn’t carry Semtex in his underpants.

Today’s a RED and ORANGE ALERT day. How odd. They just caught the British guys with the chemistry sets. But when these guys were about to blow up airliners, the USA was on YELLOW alert. That’s a “lowered” threat notice.

According to the press office from the Department of Homeland Security, lowered-threat Yellow means that there were no special inspections of passengers or cargo. Isn’t it nice of Mr. Bush to alert Osama when half our security forces are given the day off? Hmm. I asked an Israeli security expert why his nation doesn’t use these pretty color codes.

He asked me if, when I woke up, I checked the day’s terror color.

“I can’t say I ever have. I mean, who would?”

He smiled. “The terrorists.”

America is the only nation on the planet that kindly informs bombers, hijackers and berserkers the days on which they won’t be monitored. You’ve got to get up pretty early in the morning to get a jump on George Bush’s team.

U.S. Pressured UK To Arrest Alleged Terror Suspects

Wednesday, August 16th, 2006

08/12/06 “NBC News”– -LONDON – NBC News has learned that U.S. and British authorities had a significant disagreement over when to move in on the suspects in the alleged plot to bring down trans-Atlantic airliners bound for the United States.

A senior British official knowledgeable about the case said British police were planning to continue to run surveillance for at least another week to try to obtain more evidence, while American officials pressured them to arrest the suspects sooner. The official spoke on condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the case.

In contrast to previous reports, the official suggested an attack was not imminent, saying the suspects had not yet purchased any airline tickets. In fact, some did not even have passports.

Seymour Hersh: U.S. Helped Plan Israeli Attack, Cheney “Convinced” Assault on Lebanon Could Serve as Prelude to Preemptive Attack on Iran

Tuesday, August 15th, 2006

In this week’s issue of the New Yorker, investigative journalist Seymour Hersh reports Israeli officials visited the White House earlier this summer to get a “green light” for an attack on Lebanon. The Bush administration approved, Hersh says, in part to remove Hezbollah as a deterrent to a potential US bombing of Iran. A government consultant said the Bush administration also saw the attack on Lebanon as a “demo” for what it could expect to face in Iran.

Interview w/Amy Goodman

New Yorker article

“I came over here because I wanted to kill people.”

Tuesday, August 15th, 2006

Over a mess-tent dinner of turkey cutlets, the bony-faced 21-year-old private from West Texas looked right at me as he talked about killing Iraqis with casual indifference. It was February, and we were at his small patrol base about 20 miles south of Baghdad. “The truth is, it wasn’t all I thought it was cracked up to be. I mean, I thought killing somebody would be this life-changing experience. And then I did it, and I was like, ‘All right, whatever.’ ”

He shrugged.

“I shot a guy who wouldn’t stop when we were out at a traffic checkpoint and it was like nothing,” he went on. “Over here, killing people is like squashing an ant. I mean, you kill somebody and it’s like ‘All right, let’s go get some pizza.’ ”

At the time, the soldier’s matter-of-fact manner struck me chiefly as a rare example of honesty. I was on a nine-month assignment as an embedded reporter in Iraq, spending much of my time with grunts like him — mostly young (and immature) small-town kids who sign up for a job as killers, lured by some gut-level desire for excitement and adventure. This was not the first group I had run into that was full of young men who shared a dark sense of humor and were clearly desensitized to death. I thought this soldier was just one of the exceptions who wasn’t afraid to say what he really thought, a frank and reflective kid, a sort of Holden Caulfield in a war zone.

But the private was Steven D. Green.

The next time I saw him, in a front-page newspaper photograph five months later, he was standing outside a federal courthouse in North Carolina, where he had pled not guilty to charges of premeditated rape and murder. The brutal killing of a 14-year-old Iraqi girl and her family in Mahmudiyah that he was accused of had taken place just three weeks after we talked

The New Agrarian Reform in Bolivia

Monday, August 7th, 2006

Rusty buses lined the wide road, their roofs packed with men, sitting, crouching and lying down.

Families sat and stood in the back of old pick up trucks. The people arrived in droves, by truck, bus or on foot, carrying banners and flags. The Wipala, a flag composed of multicoloured squares, was held aloft, draped around shoulders and hung from the small trees in the grassy central divide of the road. It represents the indigenous people of Bolivia who make up nearly two thirds of the population, those descended from the people who inhabited the land before the arrival of the Spanish conquistadors. Not only the majority, they are also overwhelmingly the poorest. As one of their leaders said, they are often condemned to work as “peons” or serfs for wealthy landowners, “latifundistas“. This is a situation generations have faced for five hundred years.

On Saturday June 3, 2006 thousands of indigenous campesinos, peasants and agricultural labourers, congregated around a small stage in the eastern Bolivian city of Santa Cruz. Representatives of three communities were presented with the legal titles to their land by President Evo Morales, a former union leader of coca growers and now the first indigenous president of the most indigenous country in Latin America. In total sixty sets of papers were received by communities from different parts of Bolivia, from the Departments of Beni, Cochabamba, La Paz, Oruro, Pando, Santa Cruz and Tarija. The land titles represented over 7.5 million acres of land, for farmer communities as small as 103 acres, and designated native lands as large as 1.1 million acres.