Saturday, July 17, 2004

Commission to release '98 PDB

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The commission investigating the Sept. 11 attacks will release a 1998 CIA document to then President Bill Clinton that warned of possible hijackings of airliners and will discuss al Qaeda links to Iran in its report, government officials said on Friday.

The bipartisan commission has been investigating government failures related to the 2001 hijacked plane attacks, in which nearly 3,000 people died, and is expected to release its final report next week.

Included in the report will be a declassified version of a 1998 President's Daily Brief, a highly secret document that only a select group of government officials ever see.

It will be the second such document to be made public under commission pressure.

Pakistan's debt to U.S. canceled

ISLAMABAD: The governments of United States and Pakistan on Friday signed a debt cancellation agreement worth $495.3 million in official government-to-government debt owed by Pakistan to the United States.

Dr Waqar Masood Khan, secretary Economic Affairs Division (EAD) and Ms Nancy J Powell, US ambassador to Pakistan, signed the agreement on behalf of their respective governments.

“This agreement marks a continuation in the United States’ partnership with the government and people of Pakistan,” Ms Powell said on the occasion. She said that her government’s continued commitment to Pakistan was a vote of confidence in the economic stewardship of the Pakistani government and the intelligence, energy, and resourcefulness of the Pakistani people.

"Yeah, we'll get Osama for you, just wipe out that little debt of ours..."

The epitome of cowardice

KUMBAKONAM, India (AP) - Government officials accused teachers of abandoning students to a fire that turned a crowded, ill-equipped elementary school in southern India into a deathtrap for at least 88 children.

None of the 23 teachers died in the Friday blaze at the private Lord Krishna School, which was packed with about 800 students aged 6-13. Some were in rooms shared by up to six classes at a time.

Iran/al Qaeda linked
It appears that just about anyone would have been a better choice to invade than Iraq.

Martha: the anti-apartheid activist
Well played, Martha:

NEW YORK — First, Martha Stewart declared she is used to hard work and is not afraid of prison.

Later, in an interview with ABC News, the homemaking expert repeated that she would be able to handle it and compared her plight to that of anti-apartheid activist Nelson Mandela.

"I could do it," she said, according to excerpts released by ABC late Friday. "I'm a really good camper. I can sleep on the ground. There are many, many good people who have gone to prison. Look at Nelson Mandela."

Yes, and how about Ghandi? And perhaps Jesus Christ, who also suffered for a common good. Give me a break.

Allawi executed prisoners
Nice guy

Iyad Allawi, the new Prime Minister of Iraq, pulled a pistol and executed as many as six suspected insurgents at a Baghdad police station, just days before Washington handed control of the country to his interim government, according to two people who allege they witnessed the killings.

They say the prisoners - handcuffed and blindfolded - were lined up against a wall in a courtyard adjacent to the maximum-security cell block in which they were held at the Al-Amariyah security centre, in the city's south-western suburbs.

They say Dr Allawi told onlookers the victims had each killed as many as 50 Iraqis and they "deserved worse than death".

The Prime Minister's office has denied the entirety of the witness accounts in a written statement to the Herald, saying Dr Allawi had never visited the centre and he did not carry a gun.

But the informants told the Herald that Dr Allawi shot each young man in the head as about a dozen Iraqi policemen and four Americans from the Prime Minister's personal security team watched in stunned silence.


We sure can pick 'em.

Kerry's Iraq question
Elaborating on my earlier post about Kerry's decision to announce that he'd keep troops in Iraq. I do think this was a mistake - not to say that he'd stay the course in Iraq, but to give a date and declare that troops would be there until then. Clearly, he is doing it to out-hawk Bush, but he's doing it at the wrong time.

The country is moving away from the hawkishness that was embraced at the beginning of the war - but only with regards to Iraq. What Americans want to hear is Kerry saying that he could clean  up the mess quickly and get out of Iraq. After all, isn't that what he'd want to do?

Passports coveted in Iraq
If we needed anything else to show that Iraqis aren't too happy with their country:

BAGHDAD, Iraq, July 15 - There is one thing the sovereign state of Iraq can offer its citizens today, and Iraqis are banging down the doors to get their hands on it: a passport out of the country.

On a recent morning in front of the newly reopened passport office, bodies pressed on bodies for a chance to get inside. Pink and yellow files, each containing a precious passport application, waved in the air, as a young man tried to climb onto a rust-orange gate to get the attention of the bureaucrats inside. In the chaos, a sign that hung above the front door toppled to the floor.

At one point, Iraqi policemen charged at the crowd, wielding batons. A couple of shots were fired in the air. The line, if it can be called that, disintegrated and the crowd retreated toward a barbed wire fence before lunging forward again.

Jobless, rattled, fed up, Iraqis are dreaming of getting out.

Kerry fucks up
Kerry's latest comments might have actually eliminated Iraq as a winning issue (if Bush plays it right). Well done, John.

Friday, July 16, 2004

And it's done
I'm leaning towards this template as my permanent one. I'll have all the links and contact info up before the day's end.

Thursday, July 15, 2004

What the...
Something went miserably wrong with my template, so I decided it was time to change it entirely. I'll settle on a new look tomorrow.

GOP tactics on gay marriage
Not winning with the courts? Ignore them

Realizing that a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage faces little chance of passing soon, if ever, House Republicans yesterday discussed alternative approaches, including stripping federal courts of jurisdiction over the issue, passing a federal law to define marriage and using the appropriations process to ban gay marriage in Washington.

All the legislative action on gay marriage is currently in the Senate, but the House GOP is rapidly developing its own tactics. Leaders will take their first step next week when they take up Rep. John Hostettler’s (R-Ind.) “jurisdiction stripping” bill. This would bar federal courts from hearing lawsuits related to gay sex and marriage.

While the House will not debate a constitutional amendment before the summer recess, it might take it up when Congress resumes in September.

Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Texas) told reporters yesterday that he plans to use “jurisdiction stripping” measures to achieve other social policy goals as well.

For example, he will push legislation to stop federal courts from hearing lawsuits related to the words “under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance.

The U.S. Constitution establishes only the Supreme Court but leaves it to Congress to “ordain and establish” the lower federal courts. Arguably, therefore, Congress has the right determine the federal courts’ jurisdiction.

Who knew it was that easy?

Nugent for public office
Oh goodness, let it be so:

Republican sources say that the Republican Party will now focus on two potential candidates: Jim Oberwies, who finished second in the primary for this nomination, and John Cox, who ran a couple of years ago. Both have the distinction of being multimillionaires.
But another name surfacing is that of rocker, outspoken conservative and gun rights activist Ted Nugent.
"He grew up in Arlington Heights. He went to St. Viator High School," said Cook County Republican Chair Gary Skoien. "He has more connection to Illinois than Hillary Clinton had to New York, and he's been a very articulate spokesperson on constitutional issues. He would be a very interesting candidate."
Nugent couldn't be reached for comment Wednesday night.

Bush asails Kerry on abortion
If Bush doesn't want to wake up moderates who might be on the edge, he should stay away from these kinds of things.

Wednesday, July 14, 2004

Federal Marriage Amendment is dead
God bless America.

Armitage twists Iraq line
What ridiculous spin:

NEW DELHI (AP)--U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage said Wednesday that Iraqi insurgents are not fighting Americans, but other Iraqis.

"Insurgents are not fighting Americans. They are fighting Iraqis, the very development of their own nation," Armitage told reporters at the end of his visit to India. "This is a new development in Iraq. They are not fighting outside invaders."

Armitage did not explain or expand on those remarks. Hundreds of American soldiers have been killed in attacks by insurgents in Iraq since the U.S.-led coalition removed the government of Saddam Hussein.

So, what, our soldiers are just caught in the crossfire? The fact is that Iraq is a serious problem - a country that we need to keep troops in for it to stabilize, but that won't stabilize due to hatred of our troops. Call it a civil war if you will, but our boys are still dying.

King backs out of Moore interview

Talk show host Larry King has confused controversial director Michael Moore by inexplicably ending talks to book the film-maker for his prime-time talk show.

King's producers were negotiating to have the Fahrenheit 9/11 star on the Larry King Live show - and even told Moore's agents they wanted a White House representative on the show to rebut the film's anti-Bush comments - but King's team have refused to continue with the booking, raising suspicions the president's advisors urged King to reject the outspoken political activist.

Oh, Larry. As if your show wasn't boring enough, you cancel the only person I'd consider watching on it? For shame.

Who's profiting from the war?
The mainstream media is catching up to the liberal conspiracy theorists:

WASHINGTON — In the months and years leading up to the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, they marched together in the vanguard of those who advocated war.

As lobbyists, public relations counselors and confidential advisors to senior federal officials, they warned against Iraqi weapons of mass destruction, praised exiled leader Ahmad Chalabi, and argued that toppling Saddam Hussein was a matter of national security and moral duty.

Former CIA Director R. James Woolsey is a prominent example of the phenomenon, mixing his business interests with what he contends are the country's strategic interests. He left the CIA in 1995, but he remains a senior government advisor on intelligence and national security issues, including Iraq. Meanwhile, he works for two private companies that do business in Iraq and is a partner in a company that invests in firms that provide security and anti-terrorism services.

Before the war, Woolsey was a founding member of the Committee for the Liberation of Iraq, an organization set up in 2002 at the request of the White House to help build public backing for war in Iraq. He also wrote about a need for regime change and sat on the CIA advisory board and the Defense Policy Board, whose unpaid members have provided advice on Iraq and other matters to Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld.

Concealed motives? What?

Tuesday, July 13, 2004

Philippines begins pullout
This is bittersweet. I would support a pullout for moral (or at least logical) reasons. But because one hostage is being held? Is this how they would usually deal with terrorists?

Phillippines begins pullout
This is bittersweet. I would support a pullout for moral (or at least logical) reasons. But because one hostage is being held? Is this how they would usually deal with terrorists?

Deficit up 20%

WASHINGTON - The government's deficit ballooned to $326.6 billion in the first nine months of the 2004 budget year, according to a snapshot of U.S. balance sheets released Tuesday.

That's more than 20 percent larger than the $269.7 billion shortfall for the corresponding period last year. For the current budget year which began Oct. 1, this spending has totaled $1.73 trillion, 6.4 percent more than the same period a year ago. Revenues came to $1.40 trillion, 3.5 percent more than the previous year.

So far this year, the biggest spending categories are programs from the Health and Human Services Department, including Medicare and Medicaid, $407.1 billion; Social Security $397 billion; military, $322.3 billion; and interest on the public debt, $274.9 billion.

On the revenue side, individual income tax payments came to $596.4 billion for the first nine months of the 2004 budget year, 1.4 percent less than the corresponding period a year ago.

Iraq=more terrorWhile Bush is topping Kerry on terror, Kerry does have one advantage - Iraq. While the public is apparently oblivious to the fact that Kerry supported the war (an undoubtedly political move, in my opinion), and they still think that the war increased the terror threat, Kerry needs to hammer on how the execution of the war led to an increase in the terror threat (in general he should stay away from suggesting that he opposed the war, because Bush will surely mention his support for it in the first debate). Turning Bush's winning issue against him never sounds like a bad idea.

Apologies from KtL
The lack of posting has been due to my recently aquired job - I'll be posting full force in the afternoon-night hours tonight and in the future.

Sunday, July 11, 2004

Free parking for hybrids?
A bit unorthodox, but it's not a bad idea.

Key areas of CIA docs removed

WASHINGTON — In a classified National Intelligence Estimate prepared before the Iraq (news - web sites) war, the CIA hedged its judgments about Saddam Hussein and weapons of mass destruction, pointing up the limits of its knowledge.

But in the unclassified version of the NIE — the so-called white paper cited by the Bush administration in making its case for war — those carefully qualified conclusions were turned into blunt assertions of fact, according to the Senate Intelligence Committee's report on prewar intelligence.

The repeated elimination of qualifying language and dissenting assessments of some of the government's most knowledgeable experts gave the public an inaccurate impression of what the U.S. intelligence community believed about the threat Hussein posed to the United States, the committee said.

Dedicating a section of its 511-page report to discrepancies between the two versions of the crucial October 2002 NIE, the panel laid out numerous instances in which the unclassified version omitted key dissenting opinions about Iraqi weapons capabilities, overstated U.S. knowledge about Iraq's alleged stockpiles of weapons and, in one case, inserted threatening language into the public document that was not contained in the classified version.

"The intelligence community's elimination of the caveats from the unclassified white paper misrepresented their judgments to the public, which did not have access to the classified National Intelligence Estimate containing the more carefully worded assessments," the Senate panel's report concluded.