••can ye pass the acid test?••

ye who enter here be afraid, but do what ye must -- to defeat your fear ye must defy it.

& defeat it ye must, for only then can we begin to realize liberty & justice for all.

time bomb tick tock? nervous tic talk? war on war?

or just a blog crying in the wilderness, trying to make sense of it all, terror-fried by hate radio and FOX, the number of whose name is 666??? (coincidence?)

Friday, September 28, 2007

Today the real test of power is not capacity to make war but the capacity to prevent it.
—Anne O'Hare McCormick, American journalist, 1882-1954
The Democrats, who suffered a deep drilling over the MoveOn.org newspaper ad that called Gen. David Petraeus “General Betray Us,’’ have been laying in wait for a chance to pounce on Republicans for betraying the troops.

And they have found it in a traditional foil, radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh, who made a passing comment this week about his attitude towards soldiers who oppose the war in Iraq, calling them “phony soldiers.’’

WASHINGTON (AP) - President Bush told House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Friday he will veto a major expansion of a children's health program despite the large margins it won this week in the House and Senate.

Pelosi, D-CA, said she told Bush in a morning phone call that she was praying he would change his mind. "I think I have to pray a little harder," she told reporters moments later, at a Capitol ceremony where Democrats celebrated passage of the proposed $35 billion increase in the State Children's Health Insurance Program.

WASHINGTON (AP) — Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton said Friday that every child born in the United States should get a $5000 "baby bond" from the government to help pay for future costs of college or buying a home.

Clinton, her party's front-runner in the 2008 race, made the suggestion during a forum hosted by the Congressional Black Caucus.

"I like the idea of giving every baby born in America a $5000 account that will grow over time, so that when that young person turns 18 if they have finished high school they will be able to access it to go to college or maybe they will be able to make that downpayment on their first home," she said.
The Republican presidential contenders will get a second chance Dec. 9 to participate in a debate televised on the most popular Spanish-language network.

Univisión had to call off a proposed Sept. 16 forum at the University of Miami when only John McCain agreed to attend. Seven of the eight Democrats appeared the week before in what was the first presidential debate conducted in Spanish.

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich will open a website by Monday in an effort to round up the $30 million in pledges that he says would be his ticket to entering the race for the 2008 Republican presidential nomination.

A longtime adviser, J. Randolph Evans of McKenna Long & Aldridge, will hold a press briefing at 3:30 p.m. Monday in Atlanta to describe plans for what Gingrich aides are calling a “feasibility assessment.”

Aides say Gingrich will announce his intentions by Oct. 21, ahead of a Michigan filing deadline.
WASHINGTON - The United States and Iraq are focusing on five incidents where Blackwater USA guards killed civilians in Iraq this year as Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice ordered a high-level review board to Baghdad, US officials said.

The United States has not made conclusive findings about the five incidents, including the Sept. 16 deaths of at least 11 Iraqis, and a State Department official said Friday that investigators are not aware of any others.

The five, plus another incident that apparently did not kill anyone, were previously identified by Iraqi authorities. For now, those incidents are at the core of the review ordered by Rice last week, a State Department official said.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

UNITED NATIONS - Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki warned the UN General Assembly Wednesday that the continued flow of weapons, suicide bombers and terrorism funding into his country would result in "disastrous consequences" for the region and the world.

Al-Maliki, who met with President Bush Tuesday, urged the international community and countries in the region to support Iraq's national reconciliation process to rid terrorism from the country and bring peace to the region.

"National reconciliation is stronger than the weapons of terrorism," he said. "Today we feel optimistic that countries of the region realize the danger of the terrorist attacks against Iraq, that it is not in their interest for Iraq to be weak."

Al-Maliki said his country had reduced sectarian killings and brought stability to some regions, such as Anbar province in the west. He said thousands of displaced families have been able to return to their homes.

He said Iraq also has hundreds of political parties active within 20 political alliances; more than 6000 civil organizations; hundreds of newspapers and magazines and 40 local and satellite TV stations. But terrorists are targeting this "new Iraq," he said.

NEW YORK - President Bush said Wednesday that Afghanistan is becoming a safer, more stable country, thanks to the efforts of President Hamid Karzai.

"Mr. President, you've got strong friends here," Bush told Karzai after they met for about an hour at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel here. "I expect progress and you expect progress, and I appreciate the report you have given me today."

The two leaders made no direct mention of Afghanistan's soaring drug trade, the unsuccessful search for al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden or the resurgence of the Taliban.

The FBI has begun the most comprehensive realignments of its counterterrorism division in six years so it can better detect the growing global collaborations by terrorists and dismantle larger terrorist enterprises, according to senior bureau officials.

The bureau will merge its two international terrorism units -- one for Osama bin Laden's followers and the other for more established groups such as Hezbollah -- into a new structure that borrows both from Britain's MI5 domestic intelligence agency and the bureau's own successful efforts against organized-crime families, Joseph Billy Jr., the FBI's assistant director for counterterrorism, said in an interview.

The new approach is meant to channel raw intelligence and threat information through "desk officers" with expertise on specific world regions or terrorist groups, allowing those experts to spot trends and set investigative strategies for field agents and joint terrorism task forces that collaborate with local law enforcement, Billy said.
OSLO, Norway - Cell phones and the Internet are playing a crucial role in telling the world about Myanmar's pro-democracy protests, with video footage sometimes transmitted one frame at a time. Reporters Without Borders said Wednesday the junta has cut some cell phone service.

On the other side of the world in Oslo, a shoestring radio and television network called the Democratic Voice of Burma has been at the forefront of receiving and broadcasting such cyber dispatches by satellite TV and shortwave radio.

Chief editor Aye Chan Naing said the station, founded in 1992 by exiled Myanmar students, is able to pass on nearly real-time images and information about anti-government protests — unlike in 1988, when a similar uprising was shut down in a bloodbath that left more than 3000 dead.

The House on Wednesday overwhelmingly voted to condemn the liberal advocacy group MoveOn.org for a recent advertisement attacking the top US general in Iraq.

By a 341-79 vote, the House passed a resolution praising the patriotism Gen. David Petraeus, the commander of US forces in Iraq, and condemning a MoveOn.org ad that referred to Petraeus as "General Betray Us."

The liberal group's full-page ad appeared earlier this month in The New York Times and has served as a rallying point for Republicans. President Bush called the ad "disgusting" and criticized Democrats such as Sen. Hillary Clinton, the front-runner for the party's nomination, for being afraid of irritating the group.

"Such unwarranted attacks should be strongly condemned by Republicans and Democrats alike," said Rep. Jerry Lewis, R-CA, during brief debate on the resolution.

Wisconsin Rep. David Obey, a veteran Democrat, recounted how he left the Republican Party during the era of Sen. Joseph McCarthy, R-WI, and said that lawmakers have an obligation to criticize their allies as well as their enemies when they go too far.

see my recent investigative [ha!] report on topic.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

YANGON, Myanmar - Myanmar's military leaders imposed a nighttime curfew and banned gatherings of more than five people Tuesday after 35,000 Buddhist monks and their supporters defied the junta's warnings and staged another day of anti-government protests.

WASHINGTON - Al-Qaida continues to recruit Europeans for explosives training in Pakistan because Europeans can more easily enter the United States without a visa, the nation's top intelligence officer said Tuesday.

PARIS (Reuters) - Europe's main human rights body will vote next week on a resolution opposing the teaching of creationist and intelligent design views in school science classes.

The Council of Europe's Parliamentary Assembly will debate a resolution saying attacks on the theory of evolution were rooted "in forms of religious extremism" and amounted to a dangerous assault on science and human rights.

ST. GEORGE, Utah - The leader of a polygamous Mormon splinter group was convicted Tuesday of being an accomplice to rape for forcing a 14-year-old girl to marry her 19-year-old cousin.

MEMPHIS, Tenn. - Communications equipment failed Tuesday at a regional air-traffic control center, shutting down all airline traffic within 250 miles of Memphis and causing a ripple effect across the country that grounded dozens of passenger and cargo flights.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Legislation mandating sanctions on foreign energy companies doing business with Iran was passed on Tuesday by the House of Representatives, which approved removing the president's power to waive the penalties as previous administrations have done.

WASHINGTON (AP) — Congress signaled its disapproval of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad with a vote Tuesday to tighten sanctions against his government and a call to designate his Revolutionary Guard a terrorist group.

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - Allowing Iran to acquire nuclear weapons could destabilize the world and lead to war, French President Nicolas Sarkozy told the United Nations on Tuesday.

UNITED NATIONS - Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad announced Tuesday that "the nuclear issue of Iran is now closed," and indicated that Tehran will disregard UN Security Council resolutions imposed by "arrogant powers" and demanding suspension of its uranium enrichment.

Instead, he said, Iran has decided to pursue the monitoring of its nuclear program "through its appropriate legal path," the International Atomic Energy Agency which is the UN's nuclear watchdog.

When Ahmadinejad was ushered to the podium of the UN General Assembly to speak, the US delegation walked out, leaving only a low-ranking note-taker to listen to his speech.

ah! communication! ain't it wonderful?
NEW YORK -- (AP) -- Cuba's foreign minister walked out of the UN General Assembly on Tuesday in protest of President Bush's speech in which he said the "long rule of a cruel dictator is nearing its end" on the communist island.

The Cuban delegation issued a statement saying the decision by Foreign Minister Felipe Pérez Roque to leave was a "sign of profound rejection of the arrogant and mediocre statement by President Bush."

In his speech, Bush looked ahead to a Cuba no longer ruled by Fidel Castro, the ailing 81-year-old leader who has not appeared in public in more than a year, since ceding power to a provisional government headed by his brother Raúl.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

BAGHDAD - Iraqi investigators have a videotape that shows Blackwater USA guards opened fire against civilians without provocation in a shooting last week that left 11 people dead, a senior Iraqi official said Saturday. He said the case was referred to the Iraqi judiciary.

WASHINGTON - Federal prosecutors are investigating whether employees of the private security firm Blackwater USA illegally smuggled into Iraq weapons that may have been sold on the black market and ended up in the hands of a US-designated terrorist organization, officials said Friday.
all in this alone

WASHINGTON - President Bush again called Democrats "irresponsible" on Saturday for pushing an expansion he opposes to a children's health insurance program.

"Democrats in Congress have decided to pass a bill they know will be vetoed," Bush said of the measure that draws significant bipartisan support, repeating in his weekly radio address an accusation he made earlier in the week. "Members of Congress are risking health coverage for poor children purely to make a political point."

In the Democrat's response, also broadcast Saturday, Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell turned the tables on the president, saying that if Bush doesn't sign the bill, 15 states will have no funding left for the program by the end of the month.

At issue is the Children's Health Insurance Program, a state-federal program that subsidizes health coverage for low-income people, mostly children, in families that earn too much to qualify for Medicaid, but not enough to afford private coverage. It expires Sept. 30.
all in this together

Ultimately, rising seas will likely swamp the first American settlement in Jamestown, Va., as well as the Florida launch pad that sent the first American into orbit, many climate scientists are predicting.

In about a century, some of the places that make America what it is may be slowly erased.

WASHINGTON - After encouraging gains in the 1990s, populations of loggerhead sea turtles are now dropping, primarily because of commercial fishing, according to a federal review.
WASHINGTON - Democratic presidential contender Bill Richardson was discussing his health care plan recently when he paused to toss out a question and a request. "How will I pay for it? Ask me!"

He was asked and quickly obliged with an answer.

The Democrats who are running for president are flush with policy proposals, position papers and fact sheets. The leading Republican contenders, not so much.

Rudy Giuliani has his "12 Commitments." Mitt Romney has his "Strategy for a Stronger America." John McCain still serves up his "straight talk." But, whether by design or default, they leave far more to the imagination than do the Democrats in discussing the big issues.

For the Democrats, it is as if one candidate lays out a plan and others feel compelled to answer with their own. In contrast, the Republicans are more inclined to hold their fire.

NEW YORK - Hillary Rodham Clinton is finding herself in her rivals' cross-hairs.
RAMALLAH, West Bank (Reuters) - US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has told Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas Washington plans to invite six Arab states including Syria to a Middle East peace conference, Abbas's aides said.

MOSKOVSKY, Russia (AFP) - Russia's Communist party vowed on Saturday to re-nationalise "strategic" industries as opponents of President Vladimir Putin on the left and right set out their pre-election stalls.

DETROIT (AP) -- More progress was reported Saturday as negotiators for General Motors Corp. and the United Auto Workers worked on a historic new contract that would shift retiree health care costs from the company to the union.

Friday, September 21, 2007

now that the 'general betray us' controversy
has had time to settle down to a simmer, it's only fair to stir it up again, this time with shoot-first-ask-questions-later pols added to the stew, including jump-the-gun senators and presidential candidates as well as the usual gop media spin machine seeking to bring its brand of political correctness to bear against the left.

this blog picked up and posted the general's moniker on august 23, about 2½ weeks before moveon.org's ad appeared.

the source was a caller to washington journal that morning who said she lives in fort stewart, GA, and her husband is in iraq. she went on to say a lot of military wives and some soldiers call petraeus 'betray us' because to keep his job he does what the president wants rather than what's best for the troops.

so, senators, candidates, and assorted right-wingers, when you condemn moveon.org, you by implication condemn those warriors and their families who feel betrayed by their leaders.

thus you betray them too.

shove that up your pipe and suck it!
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Arctic sea ice melted to its lowest level ever this week, shattering a record set in 2005 and continuing a trend spurred by human-caused global warming, scientists said on Thursday.
ISLAMABAD, Pakistan - Osama bin Laden's call for Pakistanis to rise up against their US-allied military leader struck a chord among an angry, extremist minority, but resonated little among the wider public and was dismissed by the government Friday as "ridiculous."

Still it could feed into growing debate over whether Pakistan is sacrificing its own stability by supporting Washington's unpopular war on terror.

Question of bias
JENA, LA - A judge on Friday denied a request to release a teenager whose arrest in the beating of a white classmate sparked this week's civil rights protest in Louisiana. Mychal Bell's request to be freed while an appeal is being reviewed was rejected at a juvenile court hearing, effectively denying him any chance at immediate bail, a person familiar with the case told The Associated Press. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because juvenile court proceedings are closed.

WASHINGTON - About 1 million Simplicity and Graco cribs are being recalled after three children became entrapped in their cribs and died of suffocation, the Consumer Product Safety Commission said Friday.

'08 election
WASHINGTON - Republican Rudy Giuliani sought to reassure the National Rifle Association of his support for a constitutional right to bear arms as rivals Fred Thompson, John McCain and Mike Huckabee contended the former New York mayor is no friend of gun owners.

VIENNA (Reuters) - A big overhang of property will bring US house prices down further, but it is too early to say if the economy will plunge into recession, former Federal Reserve chief Alan Greenspan was quoted as saying on Friday.

TRENTON, NJ - In a disappointing setback, a promising experimental AIDS vaccine failed to work in a large international test, leading the developer to halt the study. Merck & Co. said Friday that it is ending enrollment and vaccination of volunteers in the study, which was partly funded by the National Institutes of Health.
Fred Thompson, who hopes to have support from conservative groups like the NRA, enjoyed a warm reception. He called for the protection of all basic rights. "We are here today not just because we support the Second Amendment," Thompson said, "we are here today for our support of the rest of the Constitution."

Asked about regulation at gun shows, Thompson responded, "Well, having just come from one --" referring to the gun show he visited in Florida last week. After some laughter, Thompson said the government should not restrict the rights of private citizens, in the home or at gun shows.

At most of his campaign stops, Thompson tells people "basic rights come from God and not from government." For that line, he usually receives a fair response, but the NRA members reacted to it with much louder applause, providing the best reaction so far.

Also, like he often does, Thompson praised his wife. But this time, he went farther and made a jab at the Clintons. "I think she'd make a much better First Lady than Bill Clinton."

Thursday, September 20, 2007

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A debate in the US Congress over eavesdropping on terrorism suspects will cost American lives by exposing intelligence techniques, the Bush administration's spy chief said on Thursday.

WASHINGTON (AP) - The FBI, working with an Alaska oil contractor, secretly taped telephone calls with Sen. Ted Stevens as part of a public corruption sting, according to people close to the investigation.

BAGHDAD - The World Health Organization confirmed on Thursday the first cholera case in Baghdad since 2003, raising fears the disease is spreading from the north of the country where it has struck more than 1000 people.

BAGHDAD - As the Americans patrol the Sunni Arab neighborhood of Azamiyah, people keep turning to them for help. One man asks them to bring in a fuel truck stopped by Iraqi troops. Another complains that Iraqi soldiers just beat up his brother.

The Americans used to be loathed in Azamiyah, a longtime stronghold of insurgents and the last place where Saddam Hussein appeared in public. Now the animosity has given way to a grudging acceptance, because the people of this northern neighborhood want American protection from a foe they hate and fear even more: the mainly Shiite Iraqi army.

"We feel safe when the Americans are around," says a computer engineer who gave his name only as Abu Fahd. He stopped going to work because of his fear of militiamen at the Shiite-dominated Health Ministry and now makes a living selling clothes.

"When we see the Iraqi army, we just stay home or close our shops."

The story of Azamiyah, once a favorite with wealthy Sunnis and nationalists, shows once again how difficult it is to measure the success of the latest surge of American troops amid the shifting allegiances in Baghdad.

The accommodation between Azamiyah and the Americans represents a major breakthrough for the US military, which had long considered the neighborhood among the city's most dangerous. Yet the success is largely due to a sectarian divide so deep that it has poisoned institutions such as the Iraqi army, jeopardizing the chances of reconciliation and leaving the Americans caught in the middle.

In that sense, the Americans have both won and lost.

Much of the new goodwill in Azamiyah hinges on whether the Americans can prevent perceived excesses by Iraqi troops. It also depends on how far they can ease the economic plight of a once prosperous neighborhood now sealed off from the rest of the capital by a security wall.

oh, goodie! the neighborhood is safe as long as our troops stay there! (forever?) unless the cholera comes. maybe the wall will keep it out....

COLUMBIA, South Carolina (CNN) – Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, an ordained Baptist minister campaigning for president here Wednesday, cast doubt on the effectiveness of condom use in combating AIDS in Africa.

Asked by CNN if he would direct US funds to health programs that provide condoms in Africa, Huckabee demurred.

"I’d want to see how that’s used … I've been a little reluctant to think that condoms alone are the most effective way,” Huckabee said. “It certainly is more effective than not having them. But I think helping people understand that condoms do have a failure rate, and they are not totally 100 percent successful. And it gives some people a false sense of security thinking that they can still live dangerously and recklessly and that that’s going to be a fail safe protection when it obviously is not.”

With the Iraq war dominating the debate in Washington, President Bush has picked a fresh fight on the domestic policy front with his threat to veto bipartisan legislation that would expand a popular children's health care program.

And that veto threat has angered one of the most important Republicans negotiating on the bill: Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa), the top Republican on the Senate Finance Committee.

After hearing Bush say Thursday that he was going to veto the bill in part because it would allow families of four making $80,000 to place their children on the the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP), Grassley blasted the president, saying his assertion was dead wrong.

"The president has been served wrong information about what our bill will do," Grassley said Thursday between Senate votes. "There's nothing in our bill that would do that. His understanding of the bill was wrong."

Bush, in a morning news conference, told reporters that "Congress has made the decision to expand the program up to $80,000. ... This is a step toward federalization of health care."

Grassley said that a waiver to allow higher income families to utilize SCHIP has been taken out of the conference committee compromise forged between House and Senate negotiators over the past two days.

but didn't it start in the military?
Presidential candidate Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) harshly criticized Columbia University on Thursday for allowing Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to speak on its campus.
McCain joined the rest of the Republican field in attacking the Iranian president for a number of trips he is attempting to make while visiting the United Nations later this month.

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Columbia University was urged on Thursday to withdraw a speaking invitation to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who will be in New York next week for the United Nations General Assembly.

New York City Council speaker Christine Quinn wrote to the university urging them to cancel....

PARIS - French President Nicolas Sarkozy accused Iran directly of seeking nuclear weapons Thursday and suggested tougher sanctions against the Mideast nation.

Sarkozy, who has toughened the French position on Iran since taking office in May, called the possibility of an Iranian bomb "unacceptable."

Sarkozy was expected to discuss sanctions with other world leaders at the UN General Assembly next week.
you mean they'll both be at the UN? how 'bout rudy?

A homeland security adviser to Rudy Giuliani came under fire Thursday for claiming there were "too many mosques" in the United States — and defended himself by saying his point was that not enough Muslim leaders cooperate with law enforcement.

Rep. Peter King, R-NY, the former chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee and the top GOP member on the panel, said his comments to the Politico Web site were taken out of context. Democrats said Giuliani should drop him as a campaign adviser.

President Nixon signed a historic agreement with the Soviet Union in 1972 to ban biological weapons yet also expressed grave misgivings to his closest aides about arms control as a key to peace.

In documents released by the State Department, Nixon said the accord to prohibit production of biological and toxic weapons was a "jackass treaty" and that arms control was not an end in itself.
WASHINGTON - What would former Vice President Al Gore's endorsement mean for a Democratic presidential candidate? Most Democrats say absolutely nothing, but about a quarter say it would influence their vote — though not necessarily for the hopeful he backs.

DES MOINES, Iowa (CNN) — For the second time in one week, Democratic presidential candidates Rep. Dennis Kucinich, D-Ohio, and former Alaska Sen. Mike Gravel will be absent from an Iowa stage on which the majority of their opponents will be standing.

Thursday night marks the Divided We Fail/AARP/Iowa Public Television presidential candidate forum on health and financial security. It also marks the second time this week that an event or organization has not exactly welcomed these two candidates with open arms.

The first was Sunday– Iowa Sen. Tom Harkin's annual Steak Fry.

Spokespeople from both Sunday's and Thursday's events say the two candidates would have been allowed to schmooze and hold hands with the rest of the pack had they met the criteria–a stronger physical presence in Iowa.

'08 campaign
WASHINGTON - Democratic presidential candidate Chris Dodd on Thursday criticized rival Hillary Rodham Clinton's rollout of her health care plan, saying she had mismanaged her effort to reshape the system as first lady, resulting in a major policy debacle.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

WASHINGTON - Democrats' efforts to challenge President Bush's Iraq policies were dealt a demoralizing blow Wednesday in the Senate after they failed to scrape together enough support to guarantee troops more time at home.

The 56-44 vote — four short of reaching the 60 needed to advance — all but assured that Democrats would be unable to muster the support needed to pass tough anti-war legislation by year's end. The legislation, sponsored by Sen. Jim Webb, D-VA, was seen as the Democrats' best shot because of its pro-military premise.

"The idea of winning the war in Iraq is beginning to get a second look," said Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-SC, who led opposition to the bill alongside Sen. John McCain.

Webb's legislation would have required that troops spend as much time at home training with their units as they spend deployed in Iraq or Afghanistan. Members of the National Guard or Reserve would be guaranteed three years at home before being sent back.

Most Army soldiers now spend about 15 months in combat with 12 months home.

"In blocking this bipartisan bill, Republicans have once again demonstrated that they are more committed to protecting the president than protecting our troops," said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.

Wednesday's vote was the second time in as many months that Webb's bill was sidetracked. In July, a similar measure also fell four votes short of advancing.

Democrats said they were hopeful additional Republicans, wary of the politically unpopular war, would agree this time around to break party ranks. It had already attracted three dozen co-sponsors including Republicans Chuck Hagel of Nebraska, Olympia Snowe of Maine and Gordon Smith of Oregon.

But momentum behind the bill stalled Wednesday after Sen. John Warner, R-VA, announced he decided the consequences would be disastrous. Warner, a former longtime chairman of the Armed Services Committee, had voted in favor of the measure in July but said he changed his mind after talking to senior military officials.

Webb later told reporters there was no doubt Warner's opposition threw cold water on the bill.

Hagel, R-NE, said the White House also "has been very effective at making this a loyalty test for the Republican Party."

Of the 56 senators voting to advance the measure were 49 Democrats, six Republicans and Vermont Independent Bernard Sanders. Voting against it were 43 Republicans and Connecticut Independent Joseph Lieberman.

The vote "means Congress will not intervene in the foreseeable future" in the war's execution, Lieberman told reporters.

In coming days, the Senate plans to vote on legislation by Sen. Carl Levin, D-MI, that would order combat troops home in nine months. Levin, chairman of the Armed Services Committee, said his bill would allow some troops to remain behind to conduct such missions as counterterrorism and training the Iraqis; he estimated the legislation, if enacted, would cut troop levels in Iraq by more than half.

The Senate also planned to vote on legislation by Sen. Russ Feingold, D-WI, and Reid, D-NV, that would cut off funding for combat next year.

The firm deadlines reflect a shift in strategy for Democrats, who had been pursuing a bipartisan compromise on war legislation. But after last week's testimony by Gen. David Petraeus, the top military commander in Iraq, Democrats calculated not enough Republicans were willing to break party ranks and support more tempered legislation calling for combat to end next summer.

'08 race

WASHINGTON - Democratic presidential candidate Bill Richardson on Wednesday called for the US to end the war in Iraq, arguing that the troops exacerbate the sectarian violence and the billions spent could be used for health care and other needs.

"We're a nation that spends $5.5 billion in cancer research — that's two weeks of the Iraq war," Richardson told The Associated Press. "It shows the misguided priorities."

"We are being bled dry by an invasion that is costing us $500 billion so far — $500 billion," he said, stressing the cost. "And it's detracting from American security objectives in dealing with terrorism, with nuclear proliferation, with energy independence."

In an hourlong interview with AP editors and reporters, the New Mexico governor argued that all combat and non-combat troops should be removed from Iraq because their presence is only contributing to violence instead of bringing security.
NEW YORK - Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad asked permission to lay a wreath at the World Trade Center site when he comes to New York City next week, but the request was denied, a police official said Wednesday.

NEW YORK - Dan Rather filed a $70 million lawsuit against CBS and his former bosses Wednesday, claiming they made him a "scapegoat" for a discredited story about President Bush's military service during the Vietnam War.

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The earliest-known human ancestors to migrate out of Africa possessed a surprising mix of human-like and primitive features, according to scientists who studied remains dug up at a fossil-rich site in the former Soviet republic of Georgia.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Up to 132 million doses of influenza vaccine, a record, should be available in the United States for the flu season, health officials said on Wednesday as they encouraged Americans to get their shots.

Monday, September 17, 2007

WASHINGTON (AFP) - US Defense Secretary Robert Gates warned Monday that Afghanistan is a "litmus test" for NATO and would be "a mark of shame on all of us" if the alliance falters in laying the foundations for democracy there.

Gates referred to the situation in Afghanistan as well as in Iraq in a speech that argued for realism in advancing US values of democracy and freedom around the world.

ANGOULEME, France (Reuters) - Everything must be done to avoid the prospect of war with Iran, French Prime Minister Francois Fillon said on Monday, a day after his foreign minister said Paris should prepare for that possibility.

The United States, Germany, France, Britain, Russia and China have backed two rounds of U.N. sanctions against Iran over its refusal to halt uranium enrichment and other sensitive work that could be used to make nuclear weapons.

Washington is leading a drive in the Security Council for a third sanctions resolution to punish Iran for enrichment, and White House spokesman Dana Perino said the United States was looking for a diplomatic solution.

WASHINGTON - Every effort should be made to stop Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons, but failing that, the world could live with a nuclear-armed regime in Tehran, a recently retired commander of US forces in the Middle East said Monday.



WASHINGTON - Democrats are not expected to take up President Bush's war spending request until November, giving them time to calculate their next move and see if Republican support for his policies deteriorates.

The delay in passing the bill, which Bush says is needed by Oct. 1, is likely to intensify the standoff between the Democratic-controlled Congress and Bush, who says at least 130,000 troops are needed in Iraq through next summer.

"Just because this administration wears blinders, we cannot afford the limitations of their shortsighted world view," said Rep. John Murtha, D-PA, a Vietnam veteran and prominent war critic.

Democrats are in a tough spot. Still lacking enough votes in the Senate to pass legislation ordering troops home by spring, they would have to soften their approach if they want to attract more Republicans. But doing so would rile much of the party's rank-and-file, elected on anti-war platforms and eager to cut off money for combat.

"There's a lot of anger out there," Murtha told reporters Monday at the National Press Club. "A lot of people are very unhappy with the Democrats because we haven't been able to get anything done."

Rep. John Murtha predicted Monday that Democrats will not be able to pass any meaningful legislation to end the Iraq war until presidential primary elections are over next year.

Murtha, a Vietnam veteran and war critic who chairs the appropriations subcommittee overseeing defense spending, conceded that not as many Republicans had broken with President Bush as many Democrats had predicted.

"As soon as the primaries are over, you're going to see Republicans jumping ship," Murtha, D-PA, said in a speech at the National Press Club.
Shooting incidents
BAGHDAD - The Iraqi government Monday ordered Blackwater USA, the security firm that protects US diplomats, to stop work and leave the country after the fatal shooting of eight Iraqi civilians following a car bomb attack against a State Department convoy.

The order by the Interior Ministry, if carried out, would deal a severe blow to US government operations in Iraq by stripping diplomats, engineers, reconstruction officials and others of their security protection.

The presence of so many visible, aggressive Western security contractors has angered many Iraqis, who consider them a mercenary force that runs roughshod over people in their own country.

What is Blackwater?
WASHINGTON - The State Department moved quickly Monday to tamp down anger and possible repercussions after the alleged killing of eight Iraqi civilians by a private security firm hired to protect US diplomats in Iraq.

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice telephoned Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki to express regret at the loss of life and promise that the results of an internal investigation into Sunday's incident would be shared with the government in Baghdad.

"She told the Prime Minister that we were investigating this incident and wanted to gain a full understanding of what happened," said deputy State Department spokesman Tom Casey. "She reiterated that the United States does everything it can to avoid such loss of life, in contrast to the enemies of the Iraqi people who deliberately target civilians."
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - US President George W Bush on Monday nominated Michael Mukasey, a retired federal judge and law-and-order conservative, to replace beleaguered Alberto Gonzales as US attorney general.

The 66-year-old Mukasey drew quick praise from a number of Democrats as well as Republicans, suggesting he may win relatively easy confirmation in a Democratic-led Senate, which has been sharply divided over administration terrorism policies that some charge violate civil liberties.

WASHINGTON - Friends and foes of Michael Mukasey predict his calm demeanor and decades of courtroom experience will come as a relief to a Justice Department wracked by claims of crass political manipulation.
WASHINGTON - President Bush was surprised by the criticism leveled against him and his administration by former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan in his new book, the White House said Monday.

Greenspan accused Bush of not responsibly handling the nation's spending and racking up big budget deficits, saying he and Congress' former GOP leaders abandoned the party's conservative principles favoring small government.

"My biggest frustration remained the president's unwillingness to wield his veto against out-of-control spending," Greenspan wrote in "The Age of Turbulence: Adventures in a New World," being released Monday.
WASHINGTON - Diabetes care is undergoing a transformation: Thousands of patients are switching from a few finger-pricks a day to track their disease to new sensors that keep guard around the clock.

The last six months brought boosts to the technology, as federal health officials approved children's use of a sensor that works for three days in a row — and cleared the longest-lasting version yet, a seven-day model, for adults.

The ultimate goal is to create an "artificial pancreas," pairing such sensors with implanted pumps that would automatically dispense insulin to make a diabetic's blood sugar better resemble a healthy person's.

WASHINGTON - Mementoes of Sioux Indian Chief Sitting Bull are being returned to his descendants, the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History announced Monday.

With a critical test vote looming Tuesday, the mayor of the District of Columbia joined allies from both parties in urging the Senate to approve legislation granting full voting rights in the US House to residents of the nation’s capital.

At a rally Monday, DC Mayor Adrian Fenty said, “Not since segregation has a senator blocked a voting rights bill.”

Green cars
DETROIT: US sales of new hybrid cars were up 49 percent in the first seven months of this year, due largely to a boom in sales in the Midwest, an auto information and marketing company said Monday.

Lefties have been bouncing back in recent decades, following a decline in the beginning of the 20th century, a new study shows.
CARACAS, Venezuela - Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez threatened on Monday to close or take over any private school that refuses to submit to the oversight of his socialist government as it develops a new curriculum and textbooks.

"Society cannot allow the private sector to do whatever it wants," said Chavez, speaking on the first day of classes.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

WASHINGTON - Doctors treating sickened ground zero workers offered Congress a detailed diagnosis Wednesday of the ailments still affecting thousands after the Sept. 11 attacks, but warned that there's no way to determine how many more may become afflicted with life-threatening illnesses.

PARIS - A kilogram just isn't what it used to be.

The 118-year-old cylinder that is the international prototype for the metric mass, kept tightly under lock and key outside Paris, is mysteriously losing weight — if ever so slightly. Physicist Richard Davis of the International Bureau of Weights and Measures in Sevres, southwest of Paris, says the reference kilo appears to have lost 50 micrograms compared with the average of dozens of copies.
geez! you can't count on anything anymore....

Monday, September 10, 2007

US deaths in iraq by month

___ 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007
jan _ -- _ 47 _107 _ 62 _ 83
feb _ -- _ 20 _ 58 _ 55 _ 81
mar _ 65 _ 52 _ 35 _ 31 _ 81
apr _ 74 _135 _ 52 _ 76 _104
may _ 37 _ 80 _ 80 _ 69 _126
jun _ 30 _ 42 _ 78 _ 61 _101
jul _ 48 _ 54 _ 54 _ 43 _ 79
aug _ 35 _ 66 _ 85 _ 65 _ 83
sep _ 31 _ 80 _ 49 _ 72
oct _ 44 _ 64 _ 96 _106
nov _ 82 _137 _ 84 _ 70
dec _ 40 _ 72 _ 68 _112
is the new record of nearly 1100 american dead in the last 12 months "progress"? you be the judge.
as you may've noticed, scott ritter rarely pulls punches. his new book, waging peace: the art of war for the antiwar movement, aims to get folk to think and act strategically, and it babies nobody.

in his book tv talk, ritter said it's not enough to blame the white house or congress or media for the iraq mess: the american people must look in the mirror, face the hard reality that we are responsible for letting it happen, and do what needs doing to end it.

i assume ritter has also looked in the mirror. during the 2002 drumbeat, he went to baghdad and told iraqis the bushies wanted war and the only way to avoid it was to let UN inspectors in. iraq complied, and, of course, we invaded anyway.

at the time i thought ritter did right. it seemed to make sense that the war drum would stop when inspections started.

neither of us thought bush and cheney, determined to have their war, held back over the possibility our troops might face chemical and biological weapons (CBW) on the battlefield.

we should've been more cynical.

protective gear works most of the time. the conditions and activities of war can get pretty harsh, however. airtight seals can loosen, tiny cracks and tears can develop, and wounds make bigger holes. a tiny amount of nerve gas or virulent germs can have lethal effect. 150,000 troops multiplies risk. thousands of americans might've died. public opinion might've turned against the war.

dick cheney doesn't think like the rest of us, and he knows how to use the double cross and the triple loop. in 1990, a month or so after iraq invaded kuwait and the world responded with sanctions and a mostly-US troop buildup, then-secdef cheney publicly said: war is closer than ever; saddam hussein is feeling the effects of the sanctions. [approximate quote]

before that, most of the world assumed the purpose of sanctions was to get iraq out of kuwait without using force. cheney's statement jolted those who heard it into recognition that our government meant to attack and considered sanctions nothing but a means of softening up the target, iraq.

we now know the bush gang could not be appeased by proof iraq had no WMD. on the contrary, they'd already begun strategic bombing in june of '02, but before launching a ground attack they waited till rigorous UN inspections gave them a high degree of assurance no CBW remained.

thanks to the most subtle cheney double cross, scott ritter's trip to iraq to prevent war may've actually done the opposite of what he intended.
we've heard many analogies of iraq to other wars, most recently juan cole's apt comparison to napoleon's egyptian campaign. today i heard a news story that's not about war at all, but i think it fits.

some bank robbers' escape, according to the newscaster, "didn't go as planned": they turned the wrong way into a one-way street, got blocked by oncoming traffic, and were easily caught by police.

now, i don't know why the guy thought that wasn't how they planned it or that they even had a plan, but just think of bush and the general of the month robbing a bank and jumping into their car, whereupon the driver, rumsfeld, promptly makes a wrong-way turn into the aforementioned one-way street.

doesn't it remind you of iraq?

if that doesn't do it for you, picture bush in the back seat listening to a cell phone call from cheney and shouting "stay the course! stay the course!"

the key word here is dysfunctional. he's talking about iraq, or is he?

Saturday, September 08, 2007

VIENNA (Reuters) - The head of the United Nations' nuclear watchdog body on Friday rebuffed Western critics of a cooperation deal it has struck with Iran as "back-seat drivers" and urged them to give it time to work to help avoid war.

Under the August 21 deal, the Vienna-based International Atomic Energy Agency and Tehran agreed on a rough timetable for addressing lingering questions about Iran's nuclear activities.

IAEA director Mohamed ElBaradei said his agency would scrutinize Iran's pledge to cooperate by the end of the year and demand documents and other proof of good faith. If Iran reneged, it would jeopardize any grounds for future trust, he said.

WASHINGTON - Nebraska Sen. Chuck Hagel, a persistent Republican critic of the Iraq war, intends to announce on Monday he will not seek a third term, according to Republican officials.

The officials also said Hagel does not plan to run for the White House in 2008, despite earlier flirting with a candidacy.

SYDNEY, Australia - President Bush wrapped up his participation at an Asia-Pacific summit Saturday and prepared for a renewed fight with the Democratic-run Congress over the future of the US involvement in Iraq.

He plans a nationally televised address this coming week to "lay out a vision" for the American people about the US role. In his Saturday radio address, Bush also set the stage for Monday's congressional testimony by Gen. David Petraeus, the chief US commander in Iraq.

In the radio talk, recorded before he headed back to the United States, Bush recounted his Labor Day trip to Iraq's Anbar Province to visit US troops and "see with my own eyes the remarkable changes they are making possible."

Sunni tribal leaders, working with Iraqi and US forces, helped drive out al-Qaida militants, Bush said. "The level of violence is down. Local governments are meeting again. Young Sunnis are joining the police and army. And normal life is returning," the president said.

"Success in Anbar is critical to the democratic future of Iraq and to the war on terror," he said.

But the Senate's top Democrat contended in his party's weekly radio address that the president had misled the country into "an ill-planned war in Iraq" before finishing the job of destroying al-Qaida.

The US military is not to blame for setbacks in the war, said Nevada Sen. Harry Reid. "These are President Bush's failures — and it is long past time for him to change his flawed policies," he said.
"the level of violence is down"...???

Friday, September 07, 2007

NEW ORLEANS - The first victims of Hurricane Katrina never felt the raging winds, never saw the floodwaters. They were two elderly nursing-home residents who died on a school bus that took three hours to load and five hours to travel from New Orleans to Baton Rouge.

A third resident of the Ferncrest Manor Living Center died later at a hospital, and 21 others were treated for dehydration after riding buses that officials said were not air-conditioned, lacked water and had no certified nurses aboard. Authorities blamed the deaths on the stresses of the evacuation.

The tragedy illustrates the dilemma facing nursing home operators: Hurricanes can kill, but evacuating frail and elderly people can prove deadly, too.

WASHINGTON - Republican presidential hopeful Rudy Giuliani said illegal immigration is not a crime, prompting rival Mitt Romney to accuse him of not taking the problem seriously.

The two have clashed for weeks over illegal immigration, an issue that inflames GOP conservatives who influence primary elections. The irony is that both candidates have in the past taken more liberal stands on the issue.

"It's not a crime," Giuliani said Friday. "I know that's very hard for people to understand, but it's not a federal crime."

BANGKOK, Thailand - Thousands of people in North Korea require immediate and continued humanitarian food aid after devastating floods last month, the UN World Food Program said Friday.

The agency said villagers and farmers "suffered extensive losses of food stocks, livestock, and private kitchen gardens" — all critical for winter.

The heaviest downpours in 40 years and subsequent floods swept across North Korea last month, leaving at least 600 people dead or missing and about 100,000 people homeless, North Korea has said.

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Two-thirds of the world's current polar bear population could be gone by midcentury if predictions of melting sea ice hold true, the US Geological Survey reported on Friday.

The fate of polar bears might be even more imperiled than that estimate, because sea ice in the Arctic might be vanishing faster than the available computer models predict, the geological survey said in a report aimed at determining whether the arctic bear should be classified as a threatened species.

NEW YORK (AP) -- Wall Street plunged while bonds surged higher Friday after the government reported payrolls in August fell for the first time in four years rather than rising as had been expected. The Dow Jones industrial average fell nearly 250 points.

Investors were taken aback by the Labor Department's report that payrolls dropped by 4,000 in August, the first decline since August 2003. Economists had forecast payrolls would increase by 110,000. However, the unemployment rate held steady at 4.6 percent as expected.

WASHINGTON (AP) -- For the first time in four years, employers have cut jobs, raising new fears that a deep housing slump and a painful credit crunch could push the economy into a recession.

Pressure is building on the Federal Reserve to lower interest rates. Many economists predict the deteriorating employment climate will lead to a rate cut on Sept. 18.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Terror leader Usama bin Laden plans to address Americans on the sixth anniversary of the Sept 11 attacks in a new video, according to a terror monitoring group.

A panel of retired senior military and police officers recommended Thursday that the United States lighten its footprint in Iraq to counter the image that it's an "occupying force."

WASHINGTON -- The Senate voted Thursday to lift restrictions on family planning aid to overseas health organizations that perform abortions or promote the procedure as a method of family planning.

Despite a 53-41 vote, the proposal by Sen.Barbara Boxer, D-CA, has dim prospects of becoming law. President Bush is a passionate advocate of the current policy and has promised to veto any attempt to undermine it.

Such veto threats apply to the underlying $34 billion bill covering foreign aid and the State Department budget. It would ease the restrictions to permit family planning groups cut off from US aid to accept US-donated contraceptives.


The Senate approved the Veterans Affairs Department's budget bill by a 92-1 vote. Sen.Jim DeMint, R-SC, was the lone vote against it.

The overwhelming margin illustrated why the White House backed away from a veto threat issued in May and has signaled Bush would sign the bill, even though it breaks his budget by $4 billion.

That bill also provides huge budget increases for construction at military bases.

Bush's speech came as Pacific Rim leaders gathered in Sydney for the annual Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum, a 21-nation group whose economies account for nearly half of all global trade. The president met on Thursday with China's President Ju Jintao; on Friday he was meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Bush and Hu, leaders of two of the world's worst polluting nations, both called on Thursday for greater international cooperation in tackling climate change without stifling economic growth. Bush repeated that theme in his speech Friday.
changing tunes instead of goalposts? how refreshing.

but wait! is it hu or ju? how con-fu-(ciu)-sing....

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

i'm going to vote for fred thompson because he did such a great job as sheriff of mayberry.

oh, wait! that was ronald reagan....

[was it urban myth or did a poll really say that's why 40% of reagan supporters voted for him?]
proud cloud humbles flip-flop potatohead

what stood out for me in the two short larry craig speeches i heard last week was his repeated reference to his humility and pride.

i think he described himself as humble only once when he assured the world he's not gay—as if the world cares—but he began announcing his intent to resign by mentioning several names, following each by saying the person's show of support was 'humbling.' next he ran off a series of things that made him 'proud,' again using the word after each item.

[the contradictory words weren't side by side, so i may be stretching, but i've coined a term to describe the speech and, perhaps, the speaker: paradoxymoron. apparently others thought of it first tho.]

i completely missed the nuances of 'intent to resign.' it now looks like the phrase may've been carefully chosen so it would imply a commitment but leave room to back out by saying that was his intent then but it changed.

what's wrong with this picture is that craig's alleged behavior results from an archaic stigma fostered by phobia. recently i heard someone say openly gay men don't engage in restroom pickups or child molestation. if that's true, perhaps the closet perpetuates shame, and shame leads to furtiveness and impropriety.

Rep. Rahm Emanuel, chairman of the House Democratic Caucus, isn’t too pleased with President Bush’s comparison of Congress with the Iraqi parliament – “a false and gratuitious shot," Emanuel calls it.

Bush, speaking of the relative progress in Iraq’s political reconciliation, or lack of progress, depending on who is evaluating it, said today in Australia that Iraqi lawmakers have a lot to show for their work – unlike the Congress back home in the United States.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

WASHINGTON - President Bush's senior advisers on Iraq have recommended he stand by his current war strategy, and he is unlikely to order more than a symbolic cut in troops before the end of the year, administration officials told The Associated Press Tuesday.

In a Sept 4 letter to House leaders, a bipartisan group of 11 lawmakers called for unity in anticipation of a White House Iraq progress report that threatens to divide the chamber along party lines.

The letter, signed by lawmakers across the ideological spectrum, called for party leaders to set aside partisan differences and work toward a “post surge strategy” that could help bring political stability to Iraq.