3000 and counting!
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The number of U.S. military deaths in Iraq has reached 3,000 since the 2003 U.S.-led invasion, an authoritative Web site tracking war deaths said on Sunday.
Contributors (otherwise known as "The Aerheads"):
Walldon in New Jersey ----
Marketingace in Pennsylvania ---- Simoneyezd in Ontario
ChiTom in Illinois -- KISSweb in Illinois -- HoundDog in Kansas City -- The Binger in Ohio
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The number of U.S. military deaths in Iraq has reached 3,000 since the 2003 U.S.-led invasion, an authoritative Web site tracking war deaths said on Sunday.
SCIENTISTS are conducting experiments to change the sexuality of “gay” sheep in a programme that critics fear could pave the way for breeding out homosexuality in humans.Actually, I didn't know till now (or if I did, I've forgotten) that one out of every ten sheep (on average) is gay. I guess they need some preaching to by the religious right.
The technique being developed by American researchers adjusts the hormonal balance in the brains of homosexual rams so that they are more inclined to mate with ewes.
It raises the prospect that pregnant women could one day be offered a treatment to reduce or eliminate the chance that their offspring will be homosexual. Experts say that, in theory, the “straightening” procedure on humans could be as simple as a hormone supplement for mothers-to-be, worn on the skin like an anti-smoking nicotine patch.
The research, at Oregon State University in the city of Corvallis and at the Oregon Health and Science University in Portland, has caused an outcry. Martina Navratilova, the lesbian tennis player who won Wimbledon nine times, and scientists and gay rights campaigners in Britain have called for the project to be abandoned.
Some limitations have long been evident. The prisoners have no right to a lawyer, or to see classified evidence, or even to know the identity of their accusers. What has been less visible, however, is what many officials describe as a continuing shortage of information about many detainees, including some who have been held on sketchy or disputed intelligence.
Behind the hearings that journalists are allowed to observe is a system that has at times been as long on government infighting and diplomatic maneuvering as it has been short on hard evidence. The result, current and former officials acknowledged, is that some detainees have been held for years on less compelling information, while a growing number of others for whom there was thought to be stronger evidence of militant activities have been released under secret arrangements between Washington and their home governments.
Washington, DC — Grand Canyon National Park is not permitted to give an official estimate of the geologic age of its principal feature, due to pressure from Bush administration appointees. Despite promising a prompt review of its approval for a book claiming the Grand Canyon was created by Noah's flood rather than by geologic forces, more than three years later no review has ever been done and the book remains on sale at the park, according to documents released today by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER).
“In order to avoid offending religious fundamentalists, our National Park Service is under orders to suspend its belief in geology,” stated PEER Executive Director Jeff Ruch. “It is disconcerting that the official position of a national park as to the geologic age of the Grand Canyon is ‘no comment.’”
First, a little background. In August 2003, the National Park Service approved a creationist text, "Grand Canyon: A Different View," to share bookshelves with legitimate books at park bookstores and museums. In this case, the "different view" meant an unscientific approach, touting a literal reading of scripture to explain the Canyon's formation. The book argues, for example, "[A]ccording to a biblical time scale, [the Canyon] can't possibly be more than about a few thousand years old."
The decision to promote the book didn't go over well. Scientists who work at the Grand Canyon were outraged, as was the academic community -- the American Geological Institute and seven geo-science organizations sent letters to the park and agency officials asking that the book be removed. Their objections were rebuffed; the book stayed.
Three years later, the problem appears to be slightly worse.Grand Canyon National Park is not permitted to give an official estimate of the geologic age of its principal feature, due to pressure from Bush administration appointees. Despite promising a prompt review of its approval for a book claiming the Grand Canyon was created by Noah's flood rather than by geologic forces, more than three years later no review has ever been done and the book remains on sale at the park, according to documents released today by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER)."In order to avoid offending religious fundamentalists, our National Park Service is under orders to suspend its belief in geology," stated PEER Executive Director Jeff Ruch. "It is disconcerting that the official position of a national park as to the geologic age of the Grand Canyon is 'no comment.'"
LILLINGTON, N.C. (AP) - A woman attacked a man in his genitals during a Christmas party, injuring him badly enough that he needed 50 stitches, authorities said Friday. Rebecca Arnold Dawson, 34, was charged with malicious castration in a fight early Tuesday at a party hosted by the 38-year-old man's girlfriend, police said.
All three were heavily intoxicated, police Chief Frank Powers said.
Dawson is accused of grabbing the man's genitals. Police said a weapon was not used. He declined to elaborate.
"I believe he needed more than 50 stitches to repair the damage, but he is back home at this point," police Cpl. Brad Stevens said. "All we can tell you is that the injury was done with her hands."
From January to December 2006, the Israeli military killed 655 Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza, according to the Israeli human rights group B'Tselem - a huge rise on last year.
Frances Fragos Townsend, assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism, was on CNN yesterday discussing the war in Iraq, Saddam’s pending execution, and the Middle East, but CNN White House correspondent Ed Henry had the temerity to ask about the terrorist behind 9/11.
Officials from this White House are known for some bizarre comments, but Townsend’s response has to go in the Hall of Fame. (via)
HENRY: You know, going back to September 2001, the president said, dead or alive, we’re going to get him. Still don’t have him. I know you are saying there’s successes on the war on terror, and there have been. That’s a failure.
TOWNSEND: Well, I’m not sure — it’s a success that hasn’t occurred yet. I don’t know that I view that as a failure.
A “success that hasn’t occurred yet”? By that logic, practically nothing could ever be characterized as failure. Indeed, I’m not sure why the Bush gang hasn’t thought of this sooner.
“Budget deficits are just surpluses that haven’t occurred yet.”
“Global warming is just global cooling that hasn’t occurred yet.”
“Stagnant wages are just raises that haven’t occurred yet.”
“The civil war in Iraq is just peace that hasn’t occurred yet.”
It’d be amusing if it weren’t so sad.
CRAWFORD, Texas - President Bush worked nearly three hours at his Texas ranch on Thursday to design a new U.S. policy in Iraq, then emerged to say that he and his advisers need more time to craft the plan he'll announce in the new year.
"I don't know what could help at this point," said Roberts, 22, of Paonia, Colo. "What would more guys do? We can't pick sides. It's almost like we have to watch them kill each other, then ask questions."
The whole notion of "media" is now much more democratic, but what will the effect be on democracy?
The U.S. healthcare system cannot, in its current form, go on forever, or even for very much longer — employers can't afford it, individuals can't handle it and the country's conscience won't countenance it.
And change may come sooner than most think. Across the country there are unmistakable signs that the gridlock and confusion sustaining our sadly outdated system are coming to an end and that real reform may finally emerge, possibly even starting in California, where Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger is promising to spend his upcoming State of the State speech explaining how he will push the Golden State closer to universal healthcare in the coming year.
Myth number one is that the United States "can still win" in Iraq. Of course, the truth of this statement. . . depends on what "winning" means. But if it means the establishment of a stable, pro-American, anti-Iranian government with an effective and even-handed army and police force in the near or even medium term, then the assertion is frankly ridiculous. The Iraqi "government" is barely functioning. The parliament was not able to meet in December because it could not attain a quorum. Many key Iraqi politicians live most of the time in London, and much of parliament is frequently abroad. Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki does not control large swathes of the country, and could give few orders that had any chance of being obeyed. The US military cannot shore up this government, even with an extra division. . . . Most of the major parties trying to craft legislation are also linked to militias on the streets who are killing one another. It is over with. Iraq is in for years of heavy political violence of a sort that no foreign military force can hope to stop. . . . And the blindly arrogant assumption that it can win is calculated to get more tens of thousands of Iraqis killed and more thousands of American soldiers and Marines badly wounded or killed.
Myth No. 2: "US military sweeps of neighborhoods can drive the guerrillas out." The US destroyed Falluja, and even it and other cities of al-Anbar province are not now safe! . . . In 2003, 14 percent of Sunni Arabs thought it legitimate to attack US personnel and facilities. In August, 2006, over 70 percent did. How long before it is 100%? Winning guerrilla wars requires two victories, a military victory over the guerrillas and a winning of the hearts and minds of the general public, thus denying the guerrillas support. The US has not and is unlikely to be able to repress the guerrillas, and it is losing hearts and minds at an increasing and alarming rate. They hate us, folks. They don't want us there.
Another myth: "Iraq is the central front in the war on terror." From the beginning of history until 2003 there had never been a suicide bombing in Iraq. There was no al-Qaeda in Baath-ruled Iraq. . . . Zarqawi's so-called "al-Qaeda in Mesopotamia" was never "central" in Iraq and was never responsible for more than a fraction of the violent attacks. This assertion is supported by the outcome of a US-Jordanian operation that killed Zarqawi this year. His death had no impact whatsoever on the level of violence. There are probably only about 1,000 foreign fighters even in Iraq, and most of them are first-time volunteers, not old-time terrorists. . . . Al-Qaeda is mainly a boogey man, invoked in Iraq on all sides, but possessing little real power or presence there.
"The Sunni Arab guerrillas in places like Ramadi will follow the US home to the American mainland and commit terrorism if we leave Iraq." People in Ramadi only have one beef with the United States. . . . They don't want the US troops in their town or their homes, dictating to them that they must live under a government of Shiite clerics and Kurdish warlords (as they think of them). If the US withdrew. . . [t]hey are not going to start taking flight lessons and trying to get visas to the US. This argument about following us, if it were true, would have prevented us from ever withdrawing from anyplace once we entered a war there. We'd be forever stuck in the Philippines for fear that Filipino terrorists would follow us back home. . . . The argument is a crock. In my view, Shiite leaders such as Abdul Aziz al-Hakim are repeatedly declining to negotiate in good faith with the Sunni Arabs or to take their views seriously. Al-Hakim knows that if the Sunnis give him any trouble, he can sic the Marines on them. The US presence is making it harder for Iraqi to compromise with Iraqi, which is counterproductive.
. . . . We’ll take strong issue with this M. J. Rosenberg post—a post Kevin Drum unwisely semi-seconded. . . . . Here’s the heart of what Rosenberg said. It concerns Hillary Clinton:ROSENBERG (12/21/06): I just watched Hillary Clinton on "the View." And I realized something. Every time she lets go a little (like when she jogged into the room), she is very appealing. And every time she discusses things like engaging in "a national conversation" about whatever the hell it was, she is terrible.In this passage, we see a writer at a “smart” liberal site getting into the press corps’ favorite game—making judgments about appearance and body language, and about what is “very appealing.” Needless to say, he had a judgment about Obama too—and a thought about (groan) “authenticity:”ROSENBERG (continuing directly): Barack Obama, on the other hand, never seems programmed. . . . Now I'm not saying that either Barack or Hillary is authentic. I don't know either one.
But I'll say this. Obama is great because . . . he does not seem to be measuring every word and gesture, calculating whether they will get him into trouble. That is what makes him so cool and so appealing. . . .
For liberals, this sort of thing is spectacularly foolish. Here’s why:
First and most obvious, . . . when we talk about what is “appealing” and authentic,” we enter extremely subjective territory. And oh yeah—we validate the type of discussion the mainstream press corps is eager to have. Once we allow this type of discussion, they can create any novel they want about who’s “authentic” and who isn’t. And surprise! As an upper-class and corporate institution, the press corps will increasingly tend to judge that Republican candidates seem “authentic”—and that the Dems do not. Indeed, that’s precisely the way this group has called it in our last two White House campaigns—Bush and McCain were authentic straight-shooters, the hideous Gore and Kerry were not. . . . Once we let them start making such judgments, they’ll quickly craft the story they like—and whatever it is, they’ll recite it in unison. . . .
If you’re a Democrat or a liberal, Hillary Clinton has died for your sins. That doesn’t mean she should be the nominee, but she deserves your respect, as does Gore. Each has taken a ton of shit—while our “liberal leaders” have stared into air.
Which of the hopefuls is most authentic? We have an answer to that: . . . If we Democrats have an ounce of sense, we’ll steer the discussion toward serious topics
Rising seas, caused by global warming, have for the first time washed an inhabited island off the face of the Earth. The obliteration of Lohachara island, in India's part of the Sundarbans where the Ganges and the Brahmaputra rivers empty into the Bay of Bengal, marks the moment when one of the most apocalyptic predictions of environmentalists and climate scientists has started coming true.
As the seas continue to swell, they will swallow whole island nations, from the Maldives to the Marshall Islands, inundate vast areas of countries from Bangladesh to Egypt, and submerge parts of scores of coastal cities.
Top lawmakers are pressing President George W. Bush to stop using a "shadow budget" to fund the Iraq war and instead list the expected costs in the 2008 spending plan he is set to unveil early next year.
Total war spending may reach $170 billion for the 2007 fiscal year that ends September 30, a record.
Since the conflict began in 2003, Bush has used emergency spending bills to cover nearly all of the costs for the Iraq operation, rather than including them in the annual budget.
He has come under criticism for this practice, not only by lawmakers but also by the Iraq Study Group that recommended policy options for Iraq and said that in the interests of openness, the budget process should not be circumvented.
Three lawmakers - one Republican and two Democrats - wrote to Bush on Thursday telling him that the emergency bills had created an "ever- expanding shadow budget" that was obscuring Congress's oversight process and skewing budget deficit projections.
So we're not quite sure what we're going to do with them, but after meeting with the new SecDef we're suddenly quite sure we need them. Another courageous moment for our military leadership.It’s hard not to react sympathetically to this, but it may not matter. They will whine about not trying hard enough no matter what is done. They will blame liberals and the press for not allowing enough resources anyway – for setting it up so that, by the time this was done, it was all they could do. Remember, we had 550,000 in Viet Nam, and the nutcase warmongers still spout the stab-in-the-back theories.
Still, honesty compels me to say that I'm glad this is going to happen. I know this makes me a bad person with no concern for human life etc. etc. (feel free to expand on this sentiment in comments), but at some point we have to come to a conclusion on this stuff. Conservatives long ago convinced themselves against all evidence that we could have won in Vietnam if we'd only added more troops or used more napalm or nuked Hanoi or whatever, and they're going to do the same thing in Iraq unless we allow them to play this out the way they want. If they don't get to play the game their way, they'll spend the next couple of decades trying to persuade the American public that there was nothing wrong with the idea of invading Iraq at all. We just never put the necessary resources into it.
Well, screw that. There's nothing we can do to stop them anyway, so give 'em the resources they want. Let 'em fight the war the way they want. If it works -- and after all, stranger things have happened -- then I'll eat some crow. But if it doesn't, there's a chance that the country will actually learn something from this.
I wish it were otherwise. But it isn't.
BAGHDAD, Dec. 20 — Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates, visiting Iraq on his second day in office, said Wednesday that senior commanders had expressed their concern to him that sending more American troops to Iraq might delay the Iraqi government from taking responsibility for its own security.
Top Military Officials call for troop "Surge"
The Selective Service—the federal agency that would be integral to any draft effort by the Bush administration—will perform tests on its system equipment, The Associated Press is reporting.Oh oh. I checked my draft card, and I'm One-A.
Selective Service "is planning a comprehensive test of the military draft machinery, which hasn't been run since 1998," writes Kasie Hunt. "The agency is not gearing up for a draft," an agency official told Hunt, and "the test itself would not likely occur until 2009."
WASHINGTON: It will be a Cinderella moment for the band of researchers who study the hidden history of American government.
At midnight on Dec. 31, hundreds of millions of pages of secret documents will be instantly declassified, including many FBI cold war files on investigations of people suspected of being Communist sympathizers. After years of extensions sought by federal agencies behaving like college students facing a term paper, the end of 2006 means the government's first automatic declassification of records.
Secret documents 25 years old or older will lose their classified status without so much as the stroke of a pen, unless agencies have sought exemptions on the ground that the material remains secret.
Historians say the deadline, created in the Clinton administration but enforced, to the surprise of some scholars, by the secrecy-prone Bush administration, has had huge effects on public access, despite the large numbers of intelligence documents that have been exempted.
(12-14) 04:00 PST Jericho, West Bank -- U.S. officials training Palestinian security forces loyal to President Mahmoud Abbas are emphasizing urban anti-terrorist techniques as part of a systematic effort to bolster Abbas and his Fatah loyalists to counter the political success of Hamas, according to Palestinian analysts and officers receiving the training.
But one officer who has received the training says the purpose of the newly beefed-up force is to protect the Palestinian president from assassination.
The Presidential Guard, made up entirely of Fatah activists loyal to Abbas, has been increased to 1,000, up from about 90 officers under his predecessor, Yasser Arafat. A new black-uniformed rapid deployment force -- Al-Tadakhwal -- has recently been formed to respond to emergencies. The Presidential Guard is commanded by Gen. Munir Zobi in the West Bank and Gen. Haj Musbar in Gaza.
Officers have also received training from U.S. officials inside the Mukata, the presidential compound in Ramallah that contains Abbas' office and Arafat's grave.
The Chronicle has obtained a training manual distributed to officers of the Al-Haras Al-Rayassi, Abbas' Presidential Guard, during a two-week course held in Jericho earlier this year at which the chief instructor introduced himself as a U.S. Secret Service officer who served during the Reagan administration. The manual, titled "Advanced Protective Operations Seminar," is emblazoned with the logo of the Counterterrorism Training Group, which includes the U.S. government seal.
Lt. Gen. Keith Dayton, the U.S. security coordinator to Israel and the Palestinian Authority, told the Israeli daily Yedioth Ahronoth after news of the training sessions leaked out that since Iran is helping arm and fund Hamas political and military activities, the United States wants to prevent "moderate forces" in the Palestinian territories from being eliminated.
"We are involved in building up the Presidential Guard, instructing it, assisting it to build itself up and giving them ideas. We are not training the forces to confront Hamas," Dayton told Yedioth. "Hamas is receiving money and arms from Iran and possibly Syria, and we must make sure that the moderate forces will not be erased," Dayton said.
But one of the officers trained by Dayton's team said the American general is being naive and does not understand internal Palestinian politics.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A statement by President George W. Bush issued in connection with the just-signed U.S.-India civil nuclear cooperation law has raised concerns that Bush may try to circumvent some of Congress' intentions, lawmakers and analysts say.
The statement, clarifying Bush's views on law and policy, was issued after he signed new legislation on Monday permitting U.S. sales of nuclear fuel and reactors to India for the first time in 30 years.
In the statement, Bush said his signature "does not constitute my adoption of the statements of policy (in the law) as U.S. foreign policy." Also in responding to reports mandated by Congress, he would consider how releasing data requested by lawmakers might "impair foreign relations."
Am I the only one who is bothered by the way the pundits continually point out that Edwards’s or Obama’s lack of foreign policy experience is a genuine weakness, while Guiliani’s lack of foreign policy experience is never mentioned? Unlike Guiliani, at least Edwards and Obama have served in a national office.
Yesterday on Fox News, talk radio host Mike Gallagher said the U.S. government should “round up” actor Matt Damon, “The View” host Joy Behar, and MSNBC anchor Keith Olbermann and “put them in a detention camp until this war is over because they’re a bunch of traitors.”Gallagher was upset over Behar’s comment that Time magazine should have chosen a controversial “Hitler-type” like Donald Rumsfeld as its Person of the Year. Gallagher said Damon should also be incarcerated because he “attacked George Bush and Dick Cheney”; he didn’t explain why he wanted to imprison Olbermann.
They Only Look Dead, Scott McConnell, December 18, 2006
. . . . This election season ends with neoconservatism widely mocked and openly contemptuous of the president who took its counsels. The key policy it has lobbied for since the mid-1990s—the invasion of Iraq—is an almost universally acknowledged disaster. So one can see why the movement’s obituaries are being written. But the group was powerful and influential well before its alliance with George W. Bush. In its wake it leaves behind crises—Iraq first among them—that will not be easy to resolve, and neocons will not be shy about criticizing whatever imperfect solutions are found to the mess they have created. Perhaps most importantly, neoconservatism still commands more salaries—able people who can pursue ideological politics as fulltime work in think tanks and periodicals—than any of its rivals. The millionaires who fund AEI and the New York Sun will not abandon neoconservatism because Iraq didn’t work out. The reports of the movement’s demise are thus very much exaggerated.
But a Dem heading the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers?So much for the K-Street project.
That's Andy Card's old job. Times have really changed.
An anti-abortion group is lobbying a Washington, DC Catholic Church to stop Speaker of the House-designate Nancy Pelosi from attending mass, RAW STORY has learned.
Rep. Pelosi, the California Democrat who will become the first woman to be Speaker of the House, is scheduled to attend mass at Washington, DC's Trinity College on January 3, 2007, the day before the 110th Congress opens. Trinity is an all-women's school from which Pelosi graduated in 1962.
But the American Life League wants Washington's Archbishop Donald Wuerl to "prevent [Pelosi] from using the Mass for political gain," and has called on him to deny Pelosi Holy Communion. ALL argued that "Rep. Pelosi has been unwavering in her support for abortion and is downright defiant toward the Church's teachings on the sanctity of human life," and added, "it is shameful that Trinity College, a supposedly Catholic institution, has turned a blind eye to the heretical views Pelosi embraces."
WASHINGTON - Inflation at the wholesale level surged by the largest amount in more than three decades in November, reflecting higher prices for gasoline and a host of other items.
The Producer Price Index, which measures inflation pressures before they reach the consumer, was up 2 percent last month, the biggest advance since a similar increase in November 1974, the Labor Department reported Tuesday.
Economists had been expecting a rebound in wholesale prices following two months of big declines. However, the 2 percent jump was four times bigger than the 0.5 percent increase they had forecast. Even excluding volatile energy and food prices, core inflation posted a 1.3 percent advance, the biggest jump in 26 years.
NEW YORK -Miss USA Tara Conner, who had come under criticism amid rumors she had been frequenting bars while underage, will be allowed to keep her title, Donald Trump announced Tuesday.
"I've always been a believer in second chances," Trump, who owns the Miss Universe Organization with NBC, said with Conner at his side.
WASHINGTON -- The Bush administration yesterday exempted thousands of companies from providing detailed information about the toxic chemicals they release into the air and water and onto the land, easing the reporting requirements under the nation's premier environmental right-to-know law.
The move brought an immediate negative reaction from Capitol Hill, with two New Jersey lawmakers pledging to legislatively overturn the new rule next year.
Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.) said the EPA's decision "puts the interests of corporate polluters ahead of the health and safety of the American people." Rep. Frank Pallone (D-6th Dist.) called the change a "step backwards" because it "limits information that community residents can receive about chemicals near their homes."
The rule change was opposed by public health and environmental organizations and government agencies in 23 states. It had the backing of the chemical, electronics, petroleum and plastic industries as well as fabricated metal facilities, foam manufacturers, food processors and utilities.
Hours after signing an agreement yesterday on cooperation with India on civilian nuclear technology, President George W. Bush issued a "signing statement" insisting that the executive branch was not bound by terms of the agreement approved by the House of Representatives and Senate, RAW STORY has learned.
...However, a reading of the presidential signing statement which came later in the day made unclear the strength of some of those commitments, especially those made to Congress. In all, President Bush took exception to nine full sections of the bill approved by Congress.
First, President Bush took particular exception to a section declaring the policies of the United States, noting that his "approval of the Act does not constitute my adoption of the statements of policy as U.S. foreign policy." The statements of policy included opposition to nuclear weapons production by all non-nuclear weapons states, as well as promoting India's commitments to control the proliferation of nuclear fuel cycle technology, cooperate in preventing Iran's development of nuclear weapons, and limit expansion of existing nuclear arsenals in South Asia.
Next, President Bush said that a control placed by Congress on transfers to India of items that would run afoul of Nuclear Suppliers Group guidelines "unconstitutionally delegated legislative power to an international body," and he therefore considered the section "advisory" in nature.
Then, the president declared that 8 sections of the bill in total had to be construed "in a manner consistent with the President's constitutional authority to protect and control information that could impair foreign relations, national security, the deliberative processes of the Executive, or the performance of the Executive's constitutional duties."
One section of the bill to which the president qualified his assent called on the the National Nuclear Security Administration of the US Department of Energy to engage the nuclear scientific community in India to develop cooperative nonproliferation activities, particularly with nuclear safeguards in mind. In another section of the bill, Congress had called on the president to issue determinations to Capitol Hill that India was aligning its nonproliferation policy in a manner consistent with US global nonproliferation goals, and also that civil cooperation with the US was not contributing to India's nuclear weapons program
Chris Kelley, a political science professor at Miami University of Ohio who has studied presidential signing statements closely, remarked on his personal blog last night that "All of the attention that the signing received was directed precisely where the administration wanted, and away from the sections of the bill that the President has undermined."
He added "With today's challenges, President Bush has issued a total of 137 signing statements and has made 1097 separate and distinct challenges to the provisions of the laws he has signed."
The U.S. military is "planning a major buildup" of its naval forces in the Persian Gulf region "as a warning to Iran," reports CBS News, as quoted by Reuters.
A senior official in the Department of Defense said "the report was 'premature' and appeared to be drawing 'conclusions from assumptions,'" according to Reuters. The Pentagon declined comment, but an additional Defense official described the report as "speculative."
Marijuana is the most valuable cash crop in the United States, worth more to its growers than corn and wheat combined, according to a new report by a leading American drug reform lobbyist that cites the US government's own figures.I guess I'm really out of the loop. I wouldn't know where to buy it if I wanted it. Sounds as though you might get it at your local news stand.
Sending 15,000 to 30,000 more troops for a mission of possibly six to eight months is one of the central proposals on the table of the White House policy review to reverse the steady deterioration in Iraq. The option is being discussed as an element in a range of bigger packages, the officials said.As Kevin Drum says, "Rock, meet hard place." What does Bush have left to him to announce if he can't surge?
But the Joint Chiefs think the White House, after a month of talks, still does not have a defined mission and is latching on to the surge idea in part because of limited alternatives, despite warnings about the potential disadvantages for the military, said the officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the White House review is not public.
The chiefs have taken a firm stand, the sources say, because they believe the strategy review will be the most important decision on Iraq to be made since the March 2003 invasion.
The good news is that freedom has been steadily carrying the day: nearly all nations now at least proclaim universal human rights as an ideal, though many are yet to put their constitutional commitments to practice. Freedom House’s data show the share of the world’s genuinely free countries increasing from 25 to 46 percent between 1975 and 2005.
The bad news is Iraq. Apart from the horrible toll in American and Iraqi lives, two disastrous consequences seem likely to follow from this debacle. One is the possibility that, by the time America extricates itself, most Iraqis and other Middle Easterners will have come to identify freedom with chaos, deprivation and national humiliation. The other is that most Americans will become so disgusted with foreign engagements that a new insularism will be forced on their leaders in which the last thing that voters would wish to hear is any talk about the global promotion of freedom, whatever “God’s gift” and the “longing of the soul.”
Federal prosecutors in New York yesterday withdrew a subpoena to the American Civil Liberties Union that had sought to retrieve all copies of a classified document.
In an opaque and defensive four-page letter to the judge in the case, the prosecutors said they were acting “in light of changed circumstances” and their determination that “the grand jury can obtain the evidence necessary to its investigation from other sources.”
Another factor may have played a role. A transcript of a closed hearing in the case that was unsealed yesterday suggested the government was going to lose.
"Another factor may have played a role." If that isn't an understatement, I don't know what is.
...The effort to retrieve all copies of the document was a novel and, according to many legal experts, improper use of a grand jury subpoena. The subpoena cited a provision of the espionage laws that requires people in possession of some sorts of national security information to return it to the government if asked. But the A.C.L.U. said that the document at issue did not qualify and that, in any event, a subpoena was the wrong way to enforce the law.
In a transcript of a closed hearing in the case on Dec. 11 that was unsealed yesterday, Judge Jed S. Rakoff of Federal District Court in Manhattan seemed to indicate grave reservations about the tactic.
“What’s the authority for saying that a subpoenaed party can’t keep a copy of any document that they produced to the grand jury?” Judge Rakoff asked Jennifer G. Rodgers, an assistant United States attorney. Ms. Rodgers did not provide a direct answer, and yesterday’s letter withdrawing the subpoena did not address the question.
Later in the hearing, Judge Rakoff compared the situation to the Nixon administration’s effort to stop The New York Times and The Washington Post from publishing a secret history of the Vietnam War.
“There seems to be a huge difference,” Judge Rakoff said, “between investigating a wrongful leak of a classified document and demanding back all copies of it, and I’m old enough to remember a case called the Pentagon Papers.”
In yesterday’s letter, Ms. Rodgers suggested that the A.C.L.U. had set up the government, creating a fight that could have been resolved informally.