Saturday, July 02, 2005

EFF: Fighting for Bloggers' Rights

Directed Energy Weapons to Protect Nuclear Assets

ADT emits a 95 GHz non-ionizing electromagnetic beam of energy that penetrates approximately 1/64 of an inch into human skin tissue, where nerve receptors are concentrated. Within seconds, the beam will heat the exposed skin tissue to a level where intolerable pain is experienced and natural defense mechanisms take over.
This intense heating sensation stops only if the individual moves out of the beam’s path or the beam is turned off. The sensation caused by the system has been described by test subjects as feeling like touching a hot frying pan or the intense radiant heat from a fire. Burn injury is prevented by limiting the beam’s intensity and duration.

Map links 'Piano Man' to Norway

Hospital officials trying to discover the identity of the so-called Piano Man are looking into the possibility he could be from Norway.
The virtuoso pianist has not spoken since being found in a soaking wet suit in Sheerness, Kent, in April.
A Norwegian speaker has been trying to communicate with the man, who is in his 20s or early 30s, after he was shown a map and pointed to Oslo.
A ship from Norway was thought to have been in the area when he was found.

Minnesota's Government Shuts Down

More than 9,000 state employees were told to stay home Friday and drivers found highway rest stops closed at the start of the busy Fourth of July weekend as a budget stalemate led to the first government shutdown in Minnesota history.
The Democrats, who control the state Senate, were locked in a standoff with Republican Gov. Tim Pawlenty and the GOP-controlled House over how much to spend on schools and health care and how to pay for it. As a result, the new fiscal year began Friday, just after midnight, with only a partial spending plan in place.

Arnold Confronts Bush on Global Warming

Without mentioning his president by name, Mr Schwarzenegger used an article in tomorrow’s Independent on Sunday to send a clear message of his disagreement with Mr Bush’s stance.
“The debate is over,” wrote the Governor of the US’s largest and most economically powerful state.
“We know the science. We see the threat posed by changes in our climate. And we know the time for action is now.”
Schwarzenegger pointedly called on “governments everywhere” to join action to combat climate change.

Laws that May have been Broken by the Plame Leak

John Dean outlined some of the laws applicable to the leaker:

The Espionage Act of 1917
The Reagan Administration effectively used the Espionage Act of 1917 to prosecute a leak - to the horror of the news media. It was a case that was instituted to make a point, and establish the law, and it did just that in spades.
In July 1984, Samuel Morrison - the grandson of the eminent naval historian with the same name - leaked three classified photos to Jane's Defense Weekly. The photos were of the Soviet Union's first nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, which had been taken by a U.S. spy satellite.
...The Espionage Act, though thrice amended since then, continues to criminalize leaks of classified information, regardless of the reason for the leak. Accordingly, the "two senior administration officials" who leaked the classified information of Mrs. Wilson's work at the CIA to Robert Novak (and, it seems, others) have committed a federal crime...

The Intelligence Identities and Protection Act
Another applicable criminal statute is the Intelligence Identities Act, enacted in 1982. The law has been employed in the past. For instance, a low-level CIA clerk was convicted for sharing the identify of CIA employees with her boyfriend, when she was stationed in Ghana. She pled guilty and received a two-year jail sentence. (Other have also been charged with violations, but have pleaded to unrelated counts of the indictment.)
The Act reaches outsiders who engage in "a pattern of activities" intended to reveal the identities of covert operatives (assuming such identities are not public information, which is virtually always the case).
But so far, there is no evidence that any journalist has engaged in such a pattern. Accepting Administration leaks - even repeatedly - should not count as a violation, for First Amendment reasons.
The Act primarily reaches insiders with classified intelligence, those privy to the identity of covert agents. It addresses two kinds of insiders.
First, there are those with direct access to the classified information about the "covert agents." who leak it. These insiders - including persons in the CIA - may serve up to ten years in jail for leaking this information.
Second, there are those who are authorized to have classified information and learn it, and then leak it. These insiders - including persons in, say, the White House or Defense Department - can be sentenced to up to five years in jail for such leaks.
In a subsequent article, Dean pointed out:
"even if the White House was not initially involved with the leak, it has exploited it. As a result, it may have opened itself to additional criminal charges under the federal conspiracy statute."
As the media concentrates on the two reporters, it is not widely understood that their testimony is no longer necessary:
The special prosecutor investigating whether any Bush administration official may have violated federal law by leaking the identity of CIA officer Valerie Plame to columnist Robert Novak recently informed a federal court that his investigation has been “for all practical purposes complete” since October 2004.

Senate Approves Repeal of PUHCA

Amid expressions of bipartisan amity, the Senate approved energy legislation Tuesday that would give dealmakers and other non-energy companies long-awaited entrée into the U.S. power utility sector. Despite the 85-12 vote, however, the legislation faces considerable opposition in conference committee, where lawmakers will attempt to reconcile the Senate bill with a very different House-approved energy bill.
Both bills would repeal the 1935 Public Utility Holding Company Act, which regulates deals involving power utilities. But a host of other issues could yet derail a final bill, foiling PUHCA's repeal for the third time since 2001. President Bush, who wants PUHCA repealed, has asked for a bill that he can sign by the August congressional recess.

What is PUHCA? Could the repeal lead to more Enrons?
The Public Utilities Holding Company Act (PUHCA) is a cornerstone New Deal financial reform signed into law in 1935. It was the biggest battle in FDR's first term. Utilities had become cash cows for power moguls who created complex holding company pyramids for milking ultra-reliable ratepayer income to feed speculative investments. The crash of 1929 knocked these structures flat and took down millions of small investors who had been sold on the reliability of utilities as an investment.
Does any of that sound familiar?
Both the House and Senate versions of the energy bill now contain the PUHCA repeal provision. At the insistence of Democrats, the Senate added in some extra oversight by FERC (Federal Energy Regulatory Commission), but it is a thin reed compared to PUHCA.
Supporters of PUHCA point out that for 50 years, we have had reliable, cheap electric power that has allowed strong economic growth, and that no PUHCA-regulated energy holding company has ever gone bankrupt. Furthermore, it was partial PUHCA repeals in the 1990s that opened the door to Enron, Westar and other energy debacles. To repeal PUHCA now is equivalent to blowing up the barn after the horses have escaped, never mind shutting the barn door. [from]

Can Democracy Survive Without Fossil Fuels?

Ancient Athens was democratic long before fossil fuels were discovered. In reality, democracy depends on some energy source that makes it possible for citizens to have the time to govern themselves. The citizenry must also enjoy a rough equality that doesn't put some citizens so far above others as to threaten their solidarity. So, what was that energy source? Slaves.
This explains, in part, why some founders of the American republic were able to embrace slavery. It had existed alongside democracy before. But, even as they embraced it, industrial development on the American continent began to erode its necessity. The plenitude of energy from fossil fuels would ultimately render slavery uneconomic. A free man in charge of a machine run on fossil fuels could do far more work than any human in bondage could ever hope to do manually. And, thus owning machines and their fuel supplies became more important than owning the labor to run them. The machine age required labor to become more mobile--in essence, to go where the machine rather than the master dictated. Is it yet another accident of fate that the first successful American oil well was drilled in 1859 and that the Civil War, the war that ended slavery, followed only two years later?
The power of fossil fuels was already erasing the biological differences in physical strength between men and women. The women's suffrage movement which had begun many years before the Civil War was intent on erasing their political differences as well. But fossil fuels also sent women and children into the factories where their size and strength mattered less than their docility.
As more and more energy was extracted from the ground in the form of oil and coal, modern industrial nations found they no longer required the labor of children. Nor was it necessary to maintain poor working conditions and living standards among the working classes in order to allow the rich to live well. Fossil fuels began to create enough wealth to go around. Rising prosperity muted competitive spirits.

Bush: Kyoto treaty would have hurt economy

U.S. President George W. Bush said in a Danish TV interview aired Thursday that adhering to the Kyoto treaty on climate change would have "wrecked" the U.S. economy, and called U.S. dependence on Middle East oil a national security problem.
"We're hooked on oil from the Middle East, which is a national security problem and an economic security problem," Bush said in the interview with the Danish Broadcasting Corp. recorded Wednesday at the White House. Bush is to visit Denmark next week before going to a G-8 summit in Scotland.

Journalism Hoax Works a Little Too Well

Apparently unaware that April Fool's Day was 13 weeks ago, the Kansas City alternative weekly The Pitch caused an uproar last week with a cover story that described in intimate detail the hitherto secret discovery of the remains of Confederate soldiers at an arena construction site.
The long piece, "Rebel Hell," featured anonymous government officials and breathless news, with all the veneer of an investigative report:

On April 25, workers digging at the site of the former UMB Bank branch at Grand Avenue and Truman Road discovered human remains and immediately contacted authorities, records obtained by the Pitch show. The unearthing of what turned out to be multiple grave sites has been kept from the public while city, county and state officials wrestle with the implications for the arena project.

The problem? The report was a hoax -- but one so well-executed that some readers and even local leaders fell for it.

Bush administration to keep control of internet's central computers

The Bush administration has decided to retain control over the principal computers which control internet traffic in a move likely to prompt global opposition, it was claimed yesterday.
The US had pledged to turn control of the 13 computers known as root servers - which inform web browsers and email programs how to direct internet traffic - over to a private, international body.
But on Thursday the US reversed its position, announcing that it will maintain control of the computers because of growing security threats and the increased reliance on the internet for global communications. A Japanese government official yesterday criticised the move, claiming it will lend momentum to the debate about who controls the information flow online.

Reminder: US control of the "International Commons" of "cyberspace" is one of the strategic objectives outlined by the Project for the New American Century. The PNAC's members represent a who's-who of Bush Administration officials and neo-con leaders.

Iraq's U.N. Ambassador Claims U.S. Marines Killed His Cousin In 'Cold Blood'

Iraq's U.N. ambassador accused U.S. Marines of killing his unarmed young cousin in what appeared to be "cold blood" and demanded an investigation and punishment for the perpetrators.
In an e-mail to friends obtained Friday by The Associated Press, Ambassador Samir Sumaidaie said the killing took place in his ancestral village in western Anbar province, where U.S.-led forces have been conducting a counterinsurgency sweep aimed at disrupting the flow of foreign militants into Iraq.
His cousin Mohammed Al-Sumaidaie, 21, a university student, was killed June 25 when he took Marines doing house-to-house searches to a bedroom to show them where a rifle which had no live ammuntion was kept, the ambassador said. When the Marines left, he was found in the bedroom with a bullet in his neck.
Richard Grenell, spokesman for the U.S. Mission, said acting U.S. ambassador Anne Patterson received a call from the Iraqi ambassador "and expressed her heartfelt condolences on this terrible situation, and contacted senior State Department and
Pentagon officials to look into the matter immediately."

Did Karl Rove Out Valerie Plame?

Now that Time Inc. has turned over documents to federal court, presumably revealing who its reporter, Matt Cooper, identified as his source in the Valerie Plame/CIA case, speculation runs rampant on the name of that source, and what might happen to him or her. Tonight, on the syndicated McLaughlin Group political talk show, Lawrence O'Donnell, senior MSNBC political analyst, claimed to know that name--and it is, according to him, top White House mastermind Karl Rove.
Here is the transcript of O'Donnell's remarks:
"What we're going to go to now in the next stage, when Matt Cooper's e-mails, within Time Magazine, are handed over to the grand jury, the ultimate revelation, probably within the week of who his source is.
"And I know I'm going to get pulled into the grand jury for saying this but the source of...for Matt Cooper was Karl Rove, and that will be revealed in this document dump that Time magazine's going to do with the grand jury."

Lawrence O'Donnell elaborates:
I revealed in yesterday's taping of the McLaughlin Group that Time magazine's emails will reveal that Karl Rove was Matt Cooper's source. I have known this for months but didn't want to say it at a time that would risk me getting dragged into the grand jury.
Since I revealed the big scoop, I have had it reconfirmed by yet another highly authoritative source. Too many people know this. It should break wide open this week. I know Newsweek is working on an 'It's Rove!' story and will probably break it tomorrow.

Court Rules for Paper Over Death-to-Muslims Letter

The Arizona Supreme Court ruled Friday that a newspaper cannot be sued for printing a letter that suggested Americans respond to attacks on U.S. troops in Iraq by going to the nearest mosque and killing the first five Muslims they see.
The high court unanimously held that the letter to the editor was political speech protected by the First Amendment. It threw out a lawsuit accusing the Tucson Citizen of intentionally inflicting emotional distress on residents.
Two Tucson men had sued the Gannett Co. newspaper for unspecified damages after it ran the letter in 2003.
The letter frightened some area Muslims enough to keep their children home from religious schools, and protests poured into the newspaper.
Four days later, the Citizen ran an apology and said the letter's author had written a second letter to clarify that his comments referred only to military actions in combat zones.

US misled UK over Iraq fire bombs

The government was asked yesterday to explain why the US failed to tell it the truth about use on Iraq of incendiary bombs, successors to the napalm used in Vietnam.
The MoD repeatedly denied Mark 77 incendiary bombs were dropped, on the basis of US assurances. Defence secretary John Reid now says the assurances, made to predecessor Geoff Hoon, were wrong and he "must correct the position".
US Marines dropped 30 Mark 77 fire bombs between March 31 and April 2 2003 "against military targets away from civilian areas". In a letter to Michael Ancram, shadow defence secretary, Mr Reid also says: "The MK77 does not have the same composition as napalm, although it has similar destructive characteristics."

Army Desertion Rates Doubling

Just six months into the government’s fiscal year, the Army was carrying almost the same number of deserters on its books as the service registered for all of 2004.
War and stop-loss policies, which prevent voluntary separations from the military, are the likely culprits for the increase, according to Army researchers.
While the numbers include active duty and activated reserve components, officials could not provide specifics on soldiers on Rest and Recuperation, or how many deserters were recruits, etc.

Ohio Democrats victims of break-in

Thieves targeted the Ohio Democratic Party Headquarters this week, stealing a computer and a high-tech communications gadget belonging to party chairman Denny White.
Police said yesterday one or more burglars appeared to have climbed a wall Monday and crawled through an unlocked second-story window overnight at the party headquarters about three blocks from the Statehouse.
The break-in occurs at a time when the Ohio Republican Party is threatened by one of the largest scandals to hit the state’s government in decades.
Some Democrats also say the break-in is eerily similar to a burglary at the Lucas County Democratic Party Headquarters last fall, in which three computers were stolen.

FAS Intelligence Resource Program

The Intelligence Resource Program from the website of the Federation of American Scientists is a lovely nugget of information about the intelligence field. It has intelligence budget data, threat assessments, imagery information, and more. But, in a little-known unlisted directory you can find intelligence and security related .pdf manuals for all four combat branches of the DOD and even a few others. Check it out, and don't worry because everything there is technically unclassified, it's just hard to find. [from]

U.S. to Seize California Prison Health System

The California Prison Health system kills an inmate a week due to neglect or incompetence, so a federal judge put the entire system into receivership. Thing is, that's not that half of it. [from]

Senate Votes to Shut Down Laser Meant for Fusion Study

The Senate voted early yesterday morning to stop construction of the nation's costliest science project, a laser roughly the size of a football stadium that is meant to harness fusion, the process that powers the Sun.
The project, the National Ignition Facility, or NIF (pronounced niff), is at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California and has cost $2.8 billion. About 80 percent complete, NIF is scheduled to be finished in 2009 at a cost of $3.5 billion and operate for three decades at an annual cost of $150 million, for a total of $8 billion.
The Senate's action, part of the $31 billion energy and water appropriations bill, prompted warnings from the project's leaders that its demise could damage the nation's leadership in a field important to confronting energy shortages. This week, an international consortium picked France as the site of the world's first large-scale, sustainable nuclear fusion reactor, a project with an estimated cost of $10 billion.

Senate Leader Calls for Limits on Drug Ads

The Senate majority leader, Bill Frist, called yesterday on the pharmaceutical industry to limit drug advertising directed at consumers, increasing the pressure on companies to curb such marketing.
Senator Frist, a Tennessee Republican, embraced an increasingly popular idea, a delay in advertising after a drug is introduced. He called for a two-year restriction.
Proponents of a delay say it will give doctors time to understand how drugs work before patients begin asking for them, sometimes based on inflated claims.

Reporters Facing Jail Time Submit Preferences

Matthew Cooper of Time magazine and Judith Miller of The New York Times, who have been held in contempt for refusing to testify about their confidential sources, filed court papers yesterday asking to be sentenced to home confinement or to particular federal prisons if they must be jailed.
Time Inc. also filed a brief statement saying it had complied with a grand jury subpoena by supplying documents to the special prosecutor in the case, Patrick J. Fitzgerald. Mr. Fitzgerald is looking into the possibly unlawful disclosure of the identity of a covert C.I.A. operative, Valerie Plame.

Pentagon Is Asked to Justify Parts of Base-Closing Plan

The independent commission assessing the Pentagon's proposed list of domestic base closings directed Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld on Friday to justify more than a dozen of the recommendations, the first clear signal that the panel may alter some of the military's choices.
In one case, the panel asked the Pentagon to explain why it did not recommend closing the naval shipyard at Pearl Harbor in Hawaii even though it is less efficient and had a lower military value than the military's choice for closure, the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard in Maine.
The commission's requests, contained in a seven-page letter from the panel chairman, Anthony J. Principi, came as federal investigators cautioned in a report issued on Friday that the Pentagon may have overstated the plan's estimated savings of $48.8 billion over 20 years.

Live 8 on MTV and VH1 from Noon to 8 Today

MTV, VH1 and MTV's college network mtvU will be on the air with the same feed from noon to 8 p.m. EDT that day, switching back and forth from different sites and also presenting packaged reports, like a look back at Live Aid.

Agents Search Homes, Yacht Of Contractor, Congressma

Agents from the FBI, Internal Revenue Service and Defense Criminal Investigative Service of the Pentagon inspector general's office participated in the search of Cunningham's house near San Diego, as well as the Washington home, office and boat of Mitchell J. Wade. Wade was until recently the chief executive of MZM Inc., which does intelligence work for the Pentagon.
[Representative Randy "Duke"] Cunningham, a California Republican who was a fighter pilot in Vietnam and an instructor at the Navy's Top Gun school, is a member of the House Intelligence Committee and defense appropriations subcommittee.
The investigation began three weeks ago after news reports that Wade had purchased Cunningham's home in late 2003 for $1.675 million and then sold it months later at a $700,000 loss. Cunningham also was living rent-free on Wade's 42-foot yacht at the Capital Yacht Club on the Potomac River. But he has not stayed on the yacht for about two weeks, according to a source close to the congressman.

Friday, July 01, 2005

Senate Approves CAFTA

The vote of 54 to 45, which came after weeks of efforts to placate angry sugar producers and other interest groups, was a major victory for President Bush at a time when Republicans and Democrats alike have been alarmed about soaring imports from low-cost countries.
The vote set the stage for an even more difficult fight in the House, where opposition to the trade pact is strong among lawmakers from textile regions in the South, manufacturing states in the Midwest and sugar- producing areas like Florida, Louisiana, Minnesota and Wyoming.
The pact would eliminate most trade restrictions on about $32 billion in annual trade with the Dominican Republic and the five Central American nations of Costa Rica, El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala and Nicaragua.

Study: Black men, white ex-cons share equal job prospects

Black men with no criminal histories are about as likely to be offered jobs in New York City as white men with felony convictions, according to a new study.
The study, released Thursday by the city Commission on Human Rights, found that employers call back black men who presented resumes with no criminal background 16 percent of the time _ about as often as white men who reported criminal histories.
Meanwhile, blacks with convictions in their past were called back just 6 percent of the time. Whites with clean records were offered jobs 21 percent of the time.

Anti-Europeanism Flourishes on U.S. Right

"There is a strong strain of anti-Europeanism coming from sections of the Republican Party, related to and sometimes encouraged by the White House," said Jan Kubik, director of the center for comparative European studies at Rutgers University.
"Connected to that is the anti-Europeanism of the religious right, where Europe is seen as a place without God that has become too secular and lost its values," he said.
Many Americans were outraged at the refusal of prominent European nations, especially France and Germany, to support the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003. Now, some analysts fear that European anti-Americanism and U.S. anti-Europeanism may have become mutually reinforcing.

Global Warming: One in six countries facing food shortage

One in six countries in the world face food shortages this year because of severe droughts that could become semi-permanent under climate change, UN scientists warned yesterday.
In a stark message for world leaders who meet in Gleneagles next week to discuss global warming, Wulf Killman, chairman of the UN food and agriculture organisation's climate change group, said the droughts that have devastated crops across Africa, central America and south-east Asia in the past year are part of an emerging pattern.
"Africa is our greatest worry," he said. "Many countries are already in difficulties ... and we see a pattern emerging. Southern Africa is definitely becoming drier and everyone agrees that the climate there is changing. We would expect areas which are already prone to drought to become drier with climate change."
The food and agriculture organisation and the US government, both of which monitor global food shortages, agree that 34 countries are now experiencing droughts and food shortages and others could join them. Up to 30 million people will need assistance because of the droughts and other natural disasters such as the Asian tsunami.

The lobbyists' scandal: The secret world of Washington

It all began in 2000 when the Mississippi band of Choctaw Indians, grown rich on the operations of casinos on their tribal land, decided they needed some allies in Washington to help protect their wealth from competitors. Not unreasonably, they chose to retain the services of Jack Abramoff, the king of Washington lobbyists. What happened next has become an American morality tale of our times.
Over the next two years, the Choctaws paid Mr Abramoff and his colleague Michael Scanlon some $15m (£8.3m). Alas, the esteem was not reciprocated. In a series of e-mails, the pair referred to the Choctaws and other Indian tribal clients as, among other things, "troglodytes" and "monkeys". Of that $15m, it is alleged, Mr Abramoff and Mr Scanlon channelled off up to $7m.
Some of the money went to pay off a debt from Abramoff's days as a B-movie producer in Hollywood. Some went to finance a golfing trip to St Andrews for Tom DeLay, his most influential friend in Congress. Some, it seems, went for the lobbyists' own enrichment, under a system referred to in the e-mails as "Gimme Five". Over the past 12 months, the saga that has unfolded in a series of hearings by the Senate Indian Affairs committee, has transfixed Washington. "Simply and sadly, it is a tale of betrayal," says John McCain, the panel's chairman, distinguished only by the lobbyists' "insatiable greed" and their "utter contempt" for their clients.

Lincoln Memorial Video May Be Revised Because of Conservative Outrage

"The video gave the impression that Lincoln would have supported abortion and homosexuality," said the Web site of Rev. Louis Sheldon's
Traditional Values Coalition. It cited footage showing rallies at the memorial by abortion and gay rights supporters and war opponents but no similar footage from Christian and conservative interests.
"Absent from the video were any Promise Keepers marches or Marches for Jesus rallies at the capital. The video was totally skewed to present only a leftist viewpoint," the Web site said. Andrea Lafferty, executive director of Sheldon's group, said Thursday, "The department knows there's a problem and we don't know why they haven't dealt with it in a timely manner."

Meet McLir's Musical Friends

Kathy McGettigan has posted several photos of local music performances at Flickr.

Blair 'Astonished' by Coverage of Memos

For Prime Minister Tony Blair, the road to Iraq started with 9/11. The British leader said Wednesday in an interview with The Associated Press that the attacks on U.S. soil fundamentally changed "the balance of risk" in the world, sharing President Bush's view that the tragedy had made a robust show of force an urgent priority.
The attacks, he said, made it necessary to "draw a line in the sand here, and the country to do it with was Iraq because they were in breach of U.N. resolutions going back over many years."
Harry Shearer responds:
So we picked Iraq because of their bad record of compliance with U.N. resolutions? Try this little test: check out which countries have defied the most U.N. resolutions, an exercise I performed in the leadup to the war. The answers, as of late 2002: Israel and Turkey.

New Yorker: God and Country - Patrick Henry College

In the last days before the 2004 Presidential election, Patrick Henry College, in Purcellville, Virginia, excused all its students from classes, because so many of them were working on campaigns or wanted to go to the swing states to get out the vote for George W. Bush. Elisa Muench, a junior, was interning in the White House’s Office of Strategic Initiatives, which is overseen by Karl Rove. On Election Day, she stood on the South Lawn with the rest of the White House staff to greet the President and Mrs. Bush as they returned from casting their votes in Texas. Muench cheered along with everyone else, but she was worried. Her office was “keeping up contact with Karl,” and she knew that the early exit polls were worse than expected. Through the night, she watched the results, as Bush’s electoral-vote total began to rise. The next morning, after Kerry conceded, she stood in the crowd at the Bush campaign’s victory party, in clothes she’d been wearing all night, and “cried and screamed and laughed, it was so overwhelming.”

Thursday, June 30, 2005

TIME: FBI office in Saudi Arabia shredded 9/11 investigation documents

According to several former employees of the U.S. embassy in Riyadh, the FBI legal attaché’s office housed within the embassy was often in disarray during the months that followed 9/11. When an FBI supervisor arrived to clean up the mess, she found a mountain of paper and, for security reasons, ordered wholesale shredding that resulted in the destruction of unprocessed documents relating to the 9/11 investigations. A letter obtained by TIME confirms that the Senate Judiciary Committee is investigating the matter.
In 2001, the FBI’s Saudi office comprised a secretary and two agents -- Wilfred Rattigan and his lieutenant, Egyptian-American Gamal Abdel-Hafiz. They also oversaw six nearby countries. The FBI sent reinforcements within two weeks of 9/11, but it appears that the bureau’s team never got on top of the thousands of leads flowing in from the U.S. and Saudi governments. In a June 6 letter to FBI Director Robert Mueller, the Senate Judiciary Committee renewed a request for information about allegations that the FBI’s Riyadh office was “delinquent in pursuing thousands of leads” related to 9/11, TIME reports.

Bush sets up domestic spy service

US President George W Bush has ordered the creation of a domestic intelligence service within the FBI, as part of a package of 70 new security measures.
The White House says it is enacting the measures to fight international terrorist groups and prevent the spread of weapons of mass destruction.
The authorities will also be given the power to seize the property of people deemed to be helping the spread of WMD. An independent commission recommended the measures earlier this year.
The new measures form part of Mr Bush's overhaul of US intelligence agencies, aimed at bolstering the fight against terrorism and weapons proliferation.
The FBI is to be re-organised, and will include another new intelligence body called the National Security Service.

Zogby: 42% would favor impeachment if President misled the nation into war with Iraq.

President Bush’s televised address to the nation produced no noticeable bounce in his approval numbers, with his job approval rating slipping a point from a week ago, to 43%, in the latest Zogby International poll. And, in a sign of continuing polarization, more than two-in-five voters (42%) say they would favor impeachment proceedings if it is found the President misled the nation about his reasons for going to war with Iraq.
The Zogby America survey of 905 likely voters, conducted from June 27 through 29, 2005, has a margin of error of +/-3.3 percentage points.

Did U.S. change Iraq policy to begin airstrikes months before war

The discovery, made by investigative blogger Ron Brynaert, raises questions of whether Britain and the United States violated a UN resolution to provide for the security of Iraqi citizenry in the wake of the 1991 Gulf War.
...Other U.S. commanders have admitted to “spikes of activity,” a phrase employed by both British and American officials when discussing bombings before the push for Congressional or UN approval.
“I directed it,” Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld told reporters at a Sept. 16, 2002 Pentagon press briefing in response to questions about the rising tide of Iraq airstrikes in 2002. "I don't like the idea of our planes being shot at. We're there implementing U.N. resolutions... And the idea that our planes go out and get shot at with impunity bothers me."
After repeated questioning about when the change was made, Rumsfeld was hesitant, and according to the transcript, reporters laughed.
"Less than a year -- less than a year and more than a week," the transcript records, “(Laughter.) I think less than six months and more than a month."
In his autobiography, American Soldier, retired U.S. General Tommy Franks, who led the 2003 invasion of Iraq, invoked the “ spikes” phrase—as far back as 2001.
"I'm thinking in terms of spikes, Mr. Secretary,” he wrote, referencing a conversation with Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld in December 2001, “spurts of activity followed by periods of inactivity. We want the Iraqis to become accustomed to military expansion, and then apparent contraction."

52 House members file FOIA request seeking documents related to Downing Street minutes

Representative John Conyers, Jr., (D-MI) House Judiciary Committee Ranking Member, along with 51 other Members today submitted a broad and comprehensive FOIA request to the White House, the Department of Defense, and the Department of State seeking any and all documents and materials concerning the Downing Street Minutes and the lead up to the Iraq war.

US Military Fatalities in Iraq: 1932 - Wounded in Action: 12855

Military Fatalities: By Month
6-2005 7703802.6730
5-2005 8026882.8431
4-2005 5200521.7330
3-2005 3613401.2931
2-2005 5802602.1428
1-2005 10710101274.131
12-2004 7223772.4831
11-2004 137401414.730
10-2004 6322672.1631
9-2004 8034872.930
8-2004 6645752.4231
7-2004 5413581.8731
6-2004 4217501.6730
5-2004 8004842.7131
4-2004 135051404.6730
3-2004 5200521.6831
2-2004 2012230.7929
1-2004 4750521.6831
12-2003 4008481.5531
11-2003 821271103.6730
10-2003 4412471.5231
9-2003 3111331.130
8-2003 3562431.3931
7-2003 4810491.5831
6-2003 3060361.230
5-2003 3740411.3231
4-2003 7460802.6730
3-2003 65270927.6712
To View Period Details Click The Period Number

An Incomplete List of Contractors Killed in Iraq
Journalists Killed in Iraq

Fox News: Iraq - Bush Myths vs. Reality

We have clearly entered a new phase of our involvement in Iraq — public opinion is turning against the administration and the president will be devoting a good bit of his time trying to convince the American public that our policy should not change. This is the right time to take a close look at myths and realities about Iraq.

FoxBGH Suit Ends, Reporters Relieved

If any more proof was needed that we live in an upside-down world, the saga of TV news reporters Steve Wilson and Jane Akre serves as the definitive case study.
Husband and wife, Wilson and Akre are exhausted emotionally and financially, but also relieved. Their eight-year struggle--known to many from the 2004 documentary, The Corporation--with WTVT, a Tampa, Fla. Fox affiliate, has come to an end. After two major court cases, and more angst than any two reporters should have to endure, Wilson and Akre settled their case by FedExing nearly $200,000 to the network giant in May. They lost their appeal, having unsuccessfully fought a large corporation with very deep pockets.

Knight Ridder Correspondent Shot Dead in Baghdad

Yasser Salihee, an Iraqi special correspondent for Knight Ridder, was shot to death in Baghdad last Friday, according to a KR report on Wednesday. He was hailed by Knight Ridder as one of its best reporters in Iraq.
"The shot appears to have been fired by a U.S. military sniper, though there were Iraqi soldiers in the area who also may have been shooting at the time," wrote veteran Knight Ridder Baghdad correspondent Tom Lasseter.

Time Inc. To Hand Over Notes in Plame Case, As 'NYT' Protests

Time Inc. plans to turn over documents requested by a special prosecutor in the Valerie Plame case that would reveal the source who leaked Plame's identity to Time reporter Matthew Cooper. But whre does that leave the other reporter on the hook in this case, Judith Miller?
"Time Inc. said it would comply with a court order requiring it to deliver the subpoenaed records to a grand jury in connection with the Special Counsel's investigation into the Valerie Plame matter," the company said in a statement Thursday.

Perception of Success Determines Public Support for War

George W. Bush's Tuesday night national address reflected "a purposeful strategy based on extensive study of public opinion about how to maintain support for a costly and problem-plagued military mission," the Washington Post's Peter Baker and Dan Balz write. The White House consulted the work of Duke University political scientists Peter D. Feaver and Christopher F. Gelpi, who study public opinion during wartime, according to the Post. "The most important single factor in determining public support for a war is the perception that the mission will succeed," Gelpi told the Post. By looking at past wars, Bush advisers "challenge the widespread view that public opinion turned sour on the Vietnam War because of mounting casualties that were beamed into living rooms every night. Instead, Bush advisers have concluded that public opinion shifted after opinion leaders signaled that they no longer believed the United States could win in Vietnam," the Post writes. [from]

Bride calls off wedding, throws party for the homeless

A young woman decided to call off her wedding 12 days before the event and her parents knew they'd be stuck with the bill, so they decided to have a party anyway and invited the homeless.
Residents of the Interfaith Family Shelter, housed in a former convent across from Our Lady of Perpetual Help Catholic Church where the wedding had been scheduled, attended the bash thrown by Katie Hosking, 22, a medical assistant at the Everett Clinic, and her parents, Bill and Susan Hosking of Lake Stevens.
"They had a DJ and really good music. It was a warm, friendly atmosphere. The food was delicious. It was a nice break with people not worrying about anything for one night," shelter manager Carol Oliva said. "Toward the end of the evening, they packed up all the leftover food and we got to bring it back to the shelter."

Fraud in the Rush to Transportation Security

The money was spent in the name of improving security at the nation's airports:

· $526.95 for one phone call from the Hyatt Regency O'Hare in Chicago to Iowa City.
· $1,180 for 20 gallons of Starbucks Coffee -- $3.69 a cup -- at the Santa Clara Marriott in California.
· $1,540 to rent 14 extension cords at $5 each per day for three weeks at the Wyndham Peaks Resort and Golden Door Spa in Telluride, Colo.
· $8,100 for elevator operators at the Marriott Marquis in Manhattan.
· $5.4 million claimed for nine months' salary for the chief executive of an "event logistics" firm that received a contract before it was incorporated and went out of business after the contract ended.

Those details are contained in a federal audit that calls into question $303 million of the $741 million spent to assess and hire airport passenger screeners for the newly created Transportation Security Administration after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. The audit, along with interviews with people involved in the passenger-screener contract, paints a rare and detailed portrait of how officials at the fledgling agency lost control of the spending in the pell-mell rush to hire 60,000 screeners to meet a one-year congressional deadline.

Blair Says U.S. Wasn't Set on Iraq War in '02

British Prime Minister Tony Blair firmly denied that the Bush administration had signaled just months after Sept. 11 that a decision was made to invade Iraq.
Leaked British memos suggest concerns that the administration was determined in 2002 to invade Iraq, months before the U.S. and Britain unsuccessfully sought U.N. Security Council approval for military action.
According to the memos, Richard Dearlove, then chief of Britain's intelligence service, said President Bush "wanted to remove Saddam" and that "the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy."
Blair told Associated Press that the leaks had been taken out of context.

Army War College on Iraq Reconstruction - February 2003

To be successful, an occupation such as that contemplated after any hostilities in Iraq requires much detailed interagency planning, many forces, multi-year military commitment, and a national commitment to nation-building... To conduct their share of the essential tasks that must be accomplished to reconstruct an Iraqi state, military forces will be severely taxed in military police, civil affairs, engineer, and transportation units, in addition to possible severe security difficulties. The administration of an Iraqi occupation will be complicated by deep religious, ethnic, and tribal differences which dominate Iraqi society. U.S. forces may have to manage and adjudicate conflicts among Iraqis that they can barely comprehend. An exit strategy will require the establishment of political stability, which will be difficult to achieve given Iraq's fragmented population, weak political institutions, and propensity for rule by violence.

From the US Army War College in February 2003: Reconstructing Iraq: Insights, Challenges, and Missions for Military Forces in a Post-Conflict Scenario (PDF). From June 2005, Anthony Cordesman's analysis of factual misstatements in the President's recent address: Truth and spin on Iraq. Foresight is 20/20. Irresponsibility and mendacity are timeless.

Leave My Child Alone!

A new group teaching parents how to stop the very intrusive recruitment tactics of the military, including getting their kids off the Pentagon's list of 30 million potential recruits,: (...a joint effort of the Defense Department and a private contractor, disclosed last week, to build a database of 30 million 16- to 25-year-olds, complete with Social Security numbers, racial and ethnic identification codes, grade point averages and phone numbers. The database is to be scoured for youngsters that the Pentagon believes can be persuaded to join the military...), and getting your kids off the School district records lists (School districts are required under Section 9528 of the No Child Left Behind Act to release student records to military recruiters or risk losing funding, but they are also required to inform families of their Opt Out rights. Notification varies wildly across districts, and it's a bit of a crapshoot whether families know or not.)
More on this from Bob Herbert here: The Army's Hard Sell [from]

Exciting Links for Boring Days in No Particular Order

Representative Can't Trust Diebold Voting Machines

"The bottom line is we can't trust the machines, and we can't trust the results being told to the American people," U.S. Rep. Cynthia McKinney (D-GA) said in a phone interview for the progressive news community, adding "we are planning some as-yet-undefined events in [our] district" around the issue.
The problem, the Congresswoman said, is that the machines "haven't been provided with appropriate software and safeguards. If they had the appropriate software and safeguards, then the machines wouldn't be a problem. So either [provide] that, or go back to paper ballots," she advised.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

EPA Blocked From Human Pesticide Studies

By a 60-37 vote, the Senate approved a provision from Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., that would block the EPA from relying on such testing — including 24 human pesticide experiments currently under review — as it approves or denies pesticide applications.
The Bush administration lifted a moratorium imposed in 1998 by the Clinton administration on using human testing for pesticide approvals. Under the change, political appointees are refereeing on a case-by-case basis any ethical disputes over human testing.

U.S. Army ends 4-month recruiting slump in June

The U.S. Army, hard pressed to attract new soldiers amid the Iraq war, exceeded its monthly recruiting goal in June, ending four straight months of shortfalls, the top U.S. military officer said on Wednesday.
But the Army, three-quarters through fiscal 2005, remained about 7,800 behind its year-to-date target and still was in danger of missing its first annual recruiting goal since 1999, officials said. The fiscal year ends on Sept. 30.

Protesting Souter by Planning Hotel on Site of Justice's Home

Weare, New Hampshire (PRWEB) Could a hotel be built on the land owned by Supreme Court Justice David H. Souter? A new ruling by the Supreme Court which was supported by Justice Souter himself itself might allow it. A private developer is seeking to use this very law to build a hotel on Souter's land.
Justice Souter's vote in the "Kelo vs. City of New London" decision allows city governments to take land from one private owner and give it to another if the government will generate greater tax revenue or other economic benefits when the land is developed by the new owner.
On Monday June 27, Logan Darrow Clements, faxed a request to Chip Meany the code enforcement officer of the Towne of Weare, New Hampshire seeking to start the application process to build a hotel on 34 Cilley Hill Road. This is the present location of Mr. Souter's home.
Clements, CEO of Freestar Media, LLC, points out that the City of Weare will certainly gain greater tax revenue and economic benefits with a hotel on 34 Cilley Hill Road than allowing Mr. Souter to own the land.
The proposed development, called "The Lost Liberty Hotel" will feature the "Just Desserts Café" and include a museum, open to the public, featuring a permanent exhibit on the loss of freedom in America. Instead of a Gideon's Bible each guest will receive a free copy of Ayn Rand's novel "Atlas Shrugged."

C-SPAN: Alarming Testimony About Halliburton Corruption in Iraq [Video]

Sen. Byron Dorgan (D-ND) chairs a U.S. Senate Democratic Policy Cmte. meeting on Halliburton, its subsidiary KBR & its Iraq-related work. The main focus of the hearing is a review of a just-concluded Pentagon audit on charges for reconstruction projects worked on in Iraq.

Google Earth

Google Earth: Zero Hour +1 If Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith was responsible for a productivity loss of $600 million (for people playing hooky), then the release of Google Earth has to be responsible for at least $100m. So the next question is...what's next? When you think about all the Google Maps hacks, from craigslist, to GasBuddy (offline), Chicago Crimestats and Transit Maps, London Traffic Cams, various sight seeing sites, NYC Subway Stops, plus integration with BlogWise, Terraserver, Host-IP (broken?), Yahoo Traffic, and the US Census, you might wonder what else could be integrated into gEarth? [from]

U.S. Blocked Release of CAFTA Reports

The Labor Department kept secret for more than a year government studies that supported Democratic opponents of the Bush administration's new Central American trade deal, internal documents show.
The studies, paid for by the department, concluded that several countries the administration wants to be granted free-trade status have poor working conditions and fail to protect workers' rights. The agency dismissed the conclusions as inaccurate and biased, according to documents reviewed by The Associated Press.

New National Spy Office Created; CIA Analysis Demoted

The White House has decided to establish an office to manage and coordinate all U.S. human intelligence collection overseas, whether carried out by the CIA, the Pentagon or the FBI, one of dozens of recommendations made in March by a presidential commission on intelligence, according to current and former senior intelligence officials.
The administration is scheduled today to announce the new office and other intelligence changes arising from recommendations by the commission, which was headed by Judge Laurence H. Silberman and former senator Charles S. Robb (D-Va.). The office will be modeled after a commission recommendation to establish a Human Intelligence Directorate within the CIA that would be in a position superior to the Directorate of Operations, which now runs the agency's clandestine operations abroad, officials said.

Insurers sound the alarm on climate change

The cost worldwide of storms, expected to become more frequent owing to climate change, is likely to rise by two-thirds to £15bn ($27bn, €22bn) a year in the next seven decades, the Association of British Insurers will warn on Wednesday.
Nick Starling, the ABI's director of general insurance, urged the leaders of the Group of Eight industrialised nations to take action on greenhouse gas emissions when they meet to discuss climate change next week.
“Governments now have a chance to make rational choices for the future, before it is too late,” he said. Making the right decisions based on assessment of the costs of climate change “will ensure lower costs for the public in future”.

Bush Exaggerates Increase in U.S. Aid to Africa

.S. President George W. Bush has been significantly exaggerating the amount of money his administration has provided in aid to sub-Saharan Africa, according to a new study released here Monday.
Instead of a tripling of U.S. aid to Africa between 2000 and 2005, as Bush has frequently insisted, Washington has increased aid by only 56 percent in real terms, according to the report by the Brookings Institution.
The report, entitled ”U.S. Foreign Assistance to Africa: Claims and Reality”, is almost certain to increase pressure on Bush to announce a major new initiative to bolster development in the world's poorest continent in the run-up to the Group of Eight (G8) summit meeting in Gleneagles, Scotland, to be hosted by British Prime Minister Tony Blair Jul. 6-8.

Thousands riot in China, attack police, burn cars

Thousands of Chinese rioted in a dispute sparked by a lopsided roadside brawl, set fire to cars and wounded six police officers in an outburst likely to worry communist leaders in Beijing desperate to cling on to power.
The official Xinhua news agency, in a rare report on a local disturbance, blamed Sunday's riot in Chizhou in dirt-poor eastern Anhui province on a few criminals who led the "unwitting masses" astray.
The violence was the latest in a series of protests which the Communist Party, in power since 1949, fears could spin out of control and become a channel for anger over corruption and a growing gap between rich and poor.

Reagan voted 'greatest American'

More than 2.4 million Americans cast their vote by phone, text or e-mail in the poll, organised by the Discovery Channel and AOL.
Top 10 greatest Americans
1 Ronald Reagan
2 Abraham Lincoln
3 Martin Luther King
4 George Washington
5 Benjamin Franklin
6 George W Bush
7 Bill Clinton
8 Elvis Presley
9 Oprah Winfrey
10 Franklin D Roosevelt

Internet crashes in Pakistan

An undersea cable carrying data between Pakistan and the outside world has developed a serious fault, virtually crippling data feeds, including the Internet, telecommunications officials said.
The system crashed late on Monday and was still down on Tuesday evening. Many offices across the country ground to a halt as people realized it was not one of Pakistan's regular, but usually brief, technical hitches.

U.S. said to hold inmates on warships

The United Nations says it has learned of serious allegations that the US is secretly detaining terrorism suspects, notably on American military ships.
The special rapporteur on torture, Manfred Nowak, said the claims were rumours at this stage, but urged the US to co-operate with an investigation.
He said the UN wants lists of the places of detention and those held.
The comments come five days after the UN accused the US of stalling on their requests to visit Guantanamo Bay.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Dems Call Special House Meeting on Evening of Bush Speech

Join the 'Out of Iraq' Caucus On June 28, 2005 for an Hour of Special Order on the Downing Street Minutes

June 24, 2005
Dear Democratic Colleague:
Please join the 'Out of Iraq' Caucus this Tuesday, June 28th for a Special Order hour on the Downing Street Minutes. The Democratic hour for these remarks is scheduled for the second hour of the Special Orders, which will commence immediately after votes for the day have ended
Over the past month, 128 Members of Congress, along with some 560,000 citizens have sent letters to the President demanding a response to reports of a pre-war deal between Great Britain and the United States and to evidence that pre-war intelligence was intentionally manipulated. All of these letters have gone unanswered.
Given the importance of these matters, we believe it is incumbent upon Congress to discuss these issues in a public and forthright manner. We hope you will join us in this hour of Special Orders.
To reserve time during the Special Order, please contact Stacey Dansky or Adam Cohen of the Judiciary Committee staff at 225-6906. Thank you.

John Conyers, Jr.
Ranking Member, Committee on the Judiciary
Maxine Waters
Member, Committee on the Judiciary
Barbara Lee
Member, Committee on International Relations

Alterman: Tough Questions - The Patriot Act and the Press

In a report released on Monday to widespread mainstream media silence, the American Library Association reported that domestic law enforcement authorities have instigated more than 200 requests for information from libraries since October 2001, the month the Patriot Act was hurriedly passed and signed into law.
While this should be a cause for concern for any citizen, it comes with a sad addendum: It would appear that the ALA doesn't trust the government enough to house its findings on a computer server anywhere in the United States. The ALA, in surveying U.S. libraries for a report on the impact of the USA Patriot Act, housed its data on a computer server in Canada, beyond the reach of U.S. authorities. This comes on the heels of a vote in the House of Representatives last week – by a 238 to 187 margin – to roll back the FBI's power to seize library and bookstore records.

EPA Proposal Would Allow Human Tests Of Pesticides

Manufacturers would be allowed to test some pesticides on human volunteers when seeking government approval without applying all the ethical safeguards recommended last year by an expert panel, under proposed rules soon to be issued by the Environmental Protection Agency.
The regulations, a copy of which was obtained yesterday by The Washington Post, represent the latest step in an ongoing battle over whether the EPA should use data from human tests of toxic chemicals when deciding whether to approve new pesticide products. The rules would omit some provisions urged by the National Academy of Sciences last year that would have imposed more stringent limits on such studies.

More Public Broadcast Programs Monitored

A consultant hired by the Republican chairman of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting to monitor the political leanings of guests on PBS' "NOW with Bill Moyers" last year also tracked the content of programs hosted by NPR's Diane Rehm and public broadcaster Tavis Smiley, according to a Democratic senator who obtained a copy of the analysis.
The consultant, Fred Mann, provided Kenneth Y. Tomlinson, CPB chairman, with a report classifying guests interviewed by Smiley and on "The Diane Rehm Show" on National Public Radio as "liberal" or "conservative," according to a spokesman for Sen. Byron L. Dorgan (D-N.D.).

Evangelicals Building a Base in Iraq

National is Iraq's first Baptist congregation and one of at least seven new Christian evangelical churches established in Baghdad in the past two years. Its Sunday afternoon service, in a building behind a house on a quiet street, draws a couple of hundred worshipers who like the lively music and focus on the Bible.
"I'm thirsty for this kind of church," Suhaila Tawfik, a veterinarian who was raised Catholic, said at a recent service. "I want to go deep in understanding the Bible."

Tawfik is not alone. The U.S.-led toppling of Saddam Hussein, who limited the establishment of new denominations, has altered the religious landscape of predominantly Muslim Iraq. A newly energized Christian evangelical activism here, supported by Western and other foreign evangelicals, is now challenging the dominance of Iraq's long-established Christian denominations and drawing complaints from Muslim and Christian religious leaders about a threat to the status quo.

Brazil: Lower Cost of AIDS Meds or We Break Patent

Brazil’s Ministry of Health has demanded that Abbott Laboratories cut the price of its AIDS drug Kaletra by 42 percent, threatening to break the company’s patent and produce generic versions of the drug if it does not comply.

The Abbott Park, Illinois-based company has 10 days from the time it received Friday’s ruling to agree to reduce Kaletra’s price to $0.68 per pill from $1.17. If Brazil follows through on its threat, the move would mark the first time the country has adopted compulsory licensing.

Under the World Trade Organization’s intellectual property agreement, known as TRIPS (Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights), countries have the right to break patents and produce cheap generic versions of necessary medicines in periods of national health emergencies (see India’s Innovators: Copycat No More).

Wash. Post Coverage of New Memos

In the spring of 2002, two weeks before British Prime Minister Tony Blair journeyed to Crawford, Tex., to meet with President Bush at his ranch about the escalating confrontation with Iraq, Foreign Secretary Jack Straw sounded a prescient warning.
"The rewards from your visit to Crawford will be few," Straw wrote in a March 25 memo to Blair stamped "Secret and Personal." "The risks are high, both for you and for the Government."

In public, British officials were declaring their solidarity with the Bush administration's calls for elimination of Iraq's weapons of mass destruction. But Straw's memo and seven other secret documents disclosed in recent months by British journalist Michael Smith together reveal a much different picture. Behind the scenes, British officials believed the U.S. administration was already committed to a war that they feared was ill-conceived and illegal and could lead to disaster.

The documents indicate that the officials foresaw a host of problems that later would haunt both governments -- including thin intelligence about the nature of the Iraqi threat, weak public support for war and a lack of planning for the aftermath of military action. British cabinet ministers, Foreign Office diplomats, senior generals and intelligence service officials all weighed in with concerns and reservations. Yet they could not dissuade their counterparts in the Bush administration -- nor, indeed, their own leader -- from going forward.

Norway goes open source

Speaking at the eNorge 2009 conference Meyer outlined an initiative to digitise government relations. This includes a commitment that all public institutions will plan the introduction of open source systems by next year.
He also said that every citizen would be given their own home page on the government's servers to make dealing with the state easier.
"Proprietary formats will no longer be acceptable in communication between citizens and government," explained Meyer.

The unofficial war: U.S., Britain led massive secret bombing campaign before Iraq war was declared

A U.S. general who commanded the U.S. allied air forces in Iraq has confirmed that the U.S. and Britain conducted a massive secret bombing campaign before the U.S. actually declared war on Iraq.
The quote, passed from RAW STORY to the London Sunday Times last week, raises troubling questions of whether President Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair engaged in an illegal war before seeking a UN resolution or congressional approval.
While the Downing Street documents collectively raise disturbing questions about how the Bush administration led the United States into Iraq, including allegations that “intelligence was being fixed,” other questions have emerged about when the US and British led allies actually began the Iraq war.

Korea Stops Funding for Neocon Think Tank

The Korea Foundation has ended its support for the American Enterprise Institute, a rightwing U.S. think tank credited with being the brains behind the war on Iraq, Foreign Minster Ban Ki-moon told the National Assembly's Unification, Foreign Affairs and Trade Committee on Monday. It reportedly did so at the ruling party’s request.

Iraq reports corruption epidemic

There is massive corruption in most Iraqi government ministries as a legacy of Saddam Hussein's era, the Iraqi anti-corruption commission has said.
Arrest warrants on fraud charges have been issued for two former ministers in the Iraqi interim government.
One ex-minister denied the charges and the second could not be contacted.

Ex-Gay Camp Investigation Called Off

Tennessee officials closed an investigation into a so-called ex-gay ministry because of a lack of evidence to support child abuse allegations. But the Memphis organization that says instilling Christian beliefs can keep gays from acting on their homosexual desires continues to be the center of controversy.
The Tennessee Department of Children's Services began an investigation into Love In Action, which advertises homosexual conversion therapy for adolescents, after a 16-year-old boy's blog started causing a stir in the blogosphere.

Pentagon: Audit questions $1.4b in Halliburton bills

Internal Pentagon audits have flagged about $1.4 billion in expenses submitted by Halliburton Co. for services the firm is providing in Iraq, charges that include $45 cases of soda, $100-per-bag laundry service, and several months preparing at least 10,000 daily meals for a US military base that the troops did not need and ultimately went to waste, according to a report released yesterday by congressional Democrats.
The Defense Contract Audit Agency, which reviews Pentagon contracting, identified $1.03 billion in Halliburton invoices that it questioned as excessive, and an additional $442 million in expenses the company reported that the agency deemed to be insufficiently documented, according to the report.

UK War Correspondent: Iraq - A bloody mess

A year ago the supposed handover of power by the US occupation authority to an Iraqi interim government led by Iyad Allawi was billed as a turning point in the violent history of post-Saddam Iraq.
It has turned out to be no such thing. Most of Iraq is today a bloody no-man's land beset by ruthless insurgents, savage bandit gangs, trigger-happy US patrols and marauding government forces.
On 28 June 2004 Mr Allawi was all smiles. "In a few days, Iraq will radiate with stability and security," he promised at the handover ceremony. That mood of optimism did not last long.

Rising sea levels may destroy nuclear dump

Rising sea levels caused by global warming could destroy the UK's only major nuclear waste dump in as little as 500 years, according to a report by the Environment Agency.
That would cause the 1 million cubic metres of low-level radioactive waste currently stored at Drigg on the Cumbrian coast to leak, the government watchdog warns. The agency adds that such an event would increase the risk of local people contracting cancers by at least 100 times.
Experts point out that other coastal nuclear waste sites, like Rokkashomura in Japan and Lan Yu island in Taiwan, could face similar risks. Reactor sites next to the sea, including six in India and 13 in the UK, might also be vulnerable.

75 Degrees South

Blog from Antarctica [via]

Multiple Investigations of Ohio GOP

The rapidly developing case now involves the Public Integrity unit of the U.S. Justice Department, Franklin and Lucas county prosecutors, the Ohio Ethics Commission, the legislative inspector general and the state inspector general.
When the Ohio General Assembly approved Taft's $51.2 billion budget last week, it included $750,000 for Ohio Inspector General Thomas P. Charles to investigate more than $225 million in lost investments at the state Bureau of Workers' Compensation.
Investigators who raided investor Thomas W. Noe's coin shop in Maumee last month left with 128 boxes of records, including memos and financial information of the major GOP contributor.
That evidence is now locked down, in possession of a joint state-federal task force, and fueling lots of rumors.