October 14, 2006

Richard Pombo: The "Darth Vader" of the Environment    
 By Sarah Olson
Candidates battle for political and ideological leadership in California's contested 11th district.

Peter Petroski is a life-long Republican. He's currently campaigning in California's 11th district on behalf of Jerry McNerney - the Democratic challenger to 14-year incumbent Richard Pombo. Petroski says he's motivated strictly by an "anybody but Pombo" sentiment; he's grown weary of what he sees as a massive culture of corruption in Washington, and is astounded by Richard Pombo's brazen thwarting of ethics and of the law.

Petroski says the final straw was when Congressman Pombo proposed to sell off or privatize 15 National Parks. The proposal sparked outrage around the country, but for Petroski the proposal had a local flair. One of the parks was near Danville, California: 13 acres surrounding Tao House, where Eugene O'Neill lived in the later years of his life and wrote some of his most famous plays, including Long Day's Journey into Night, The Iceman Cometh, and A Moon for the Misbegotten. It's a historic literary place, Petroski says, and one he couldn't fathom destroying.

Petroski is joined by an unlikely cast of characters, from retired general Wesley Clark to Republican politicians Pete McCloskey and Tom Benigno, and from veterans' organizations to the Sierra Club to Planned Parenthood.

These endorsements, coupled with a motivated grass-roots campaign to oust Richard Pombo, make the Pombo/McNerney contest one of the tightest and most closely watched races in the country.  more...

October 13, 2006

Bush & His Dangerous Delusions
By Robert Parry

In George W. Bush‚s world, Saddam Hussein defied United Nations demands that he get rid of his weapons of mass destruction and barred U.N. inspectors; al-Qaeda‚s public statements must be believed even when contradicted by its private comments; and U.S. withdrawal from Iraq is unthinkable because it would let al-Qaeda „extend the caliphate,š a mythical state that doesn‚t really exist.

There‚s always been the frightening question of what would happen if a President of United States went completely bonkers. But there is an equally disturbing issue of what happens if a President loses touch with reality, especially if he is surrounded by enough sycophants and enablers so no one can or will stop him.

At his Oct. 11 news conference, Bush gave the country a peek into his imaginary world, a bizarre place impenetrable by facts and logic, where falsehoods, once stated, become landmarks and where Bush‚s „gutš instinct, no matter how misguided, is the compass for finding one‚s way.

In speaking to White House reporters, Bush maneuvered casually through this world like an experienced guide making passing references to favorite points of interest, such as Hussein‚s defiance of U.N. resolutions banning WMD (when Hussein actually had eliminated his WMD stockpiles).

„We tried the diplomacy,š Bush said. „Remember it? We tried resolution after resolution after resolution.š Though the resolutions had worked – and left Hussein stripped of his WMD arsenal – that isn‚t how it looks in Bush‚s world, where the resolutions failed and there was no choice but to invade. more...

October 12, 2006

Testing the Definition of "Terrorism": Luis Posada Carriles and the U.S.
by Jeremy R. Hammond

Oct. 6 -- Thirty years ago today, a bomb exploded on a Cubana Airlines plane over the Caribbean Sea, resulting in the death of all 73 passengers on board. The anniversary of this terrorist attack "coincides with a critical juncture in the case of Luis Posada Carriles," the Washington Post explains. Posada is wanted by both Cuba and Venezuela on charges of terrorism for his alleged role in the bombing. He is also suspected of involvement in a series of hotel bombings in Havana, Cuba, in 1997.  

Posada, who was "trained by the CIA, along with other Cuban exiles, for the botched Bay of Pigs invasion in 1961," re-entered the United States in March 2005, and was arrested in May of that year on immigration charges. He does not deny involvement in acts of terrorism. Rather, in a statement released by his attorney, he simply declares that that is all in the past. "The Cuban government," the statement read, "is in a very deteriorated condition, inexorably reaching its end, and I sincerely believe that nothing would help to go back to the past with sabotage campaigns." Earlier this year, Posada said that the Cubana flight was a "legitimate target." A field officer at the Department of Homeland Security interviewed by the Post noted his "propensity to engage in terrorist activities."  more...

October 11, 2006

Calling Bob in Baghdad
Posted by Jane Arraf, NBC News Correspondent

I am very, very lucky. I am alive in a war zone. Most of the time I have running water and when I turn on the lights, a series of generators ensures that they come on. I don't have to worry about saying goodbye to my family here in the morning and not knowing whether I'll see them in the evening. I know I'm lucky because almost everyone I know in Baghdad has to worry constantly about those things.

Some readers and viewers think we journalists are exaggerating about the situation in Iraq. I can almost understand that because who would want to believe that things are this bad? Particularly when so many people here started out with such good intentions.

I'm more puzzled by comments that the violence isn't any worse than any American city. Really? In which American city do 60 bullet-riddled bodies turn up on a given day? In which city do the headless bodies of ordinary citizens turn up every single day? In which city would it not be news if neighborhood school children were blown up? In which neighborhood would you look the other way if gunmen came into restaurants and shot dead the customers? more...

October 10, 2006

Torture, Murder, Bush, Kissinger and The Mothers of the Disappeared in Argentina: America on the Brink of Horror

For some 30 years, the Argentine women known as the Madres (Mothers) de La Plaza de Mayo have marched every Thursday in front of the Presidential Palace of Argentina. They gather in memory of their children and grandchildren, who were among the estimated 30,000 people who disappeared during "Operation Condor." Another 50,000 people were murdered.

"Operation Condor" reached its peak in the 1970s. With assistance from the United States, and the support and knowledge of Henry Kissinger, five of the southern cone South American nations conducted a campaign of unspeakable torture and killing against their own citizens.

In a New Yorker article a few years back, a former member of the Argentinian military recalled flights over the Atlantic where drugged and bound Argentinians, whose interrogation was finished, were thrown alive into the ocean. Bodies of the already killed were dumped into the Rio de la Plata, which divides Argentina and Uruguay.

Many Americans will say that this horror cannot happen in the United States, but they are wrong. Legally, as a result of the legislation passed in September, it is now quite possible.

As was the case in Argentina, America now allows the President or his designate to declare a person an "enemy combatant" (or enemy of the state) without any judicial process. In short, a person becomes an "enemy of America" on the mere basis that Bush or his designate says so. more...

October 9, 2006

The Embarrassed Republicans
by Alec Baldwin

Sad to think that it took the Foley situation to get the "Embarrassed Republicans" to start voicing their embarrassment. Nearly six years of lies, incompetence, lies, hate, lies, corruption, lies and war. Misguided, meaningless war that has destroyed the landscape of Iraq and the souls of the Iraqi people. And what has the war done for us, other than line the pockets of Bush, and his father's friends?

Well, you know what they say, you can lie to the American people, take us into an ill-conceived war and subvert the Constitution in the process, but you diddle one page...and it's over. I hope it's over. I'll take the end of what Gingrich started, regardless of how we get there. If it's Mark Foley's body we step over, and hopefully Hastert's as well, then so be it. more...

October 8, 2006

Israeli Bomblets Plague Lebanon
by Michael Slackman  

BEIRUT - Since the war between Israel and Hezbollah ended in August, nearly three people have been wounded or killed each day by cluster bombs Israel dropped in the waning days of the war, and officials now say it will take more than a year to clear the region of them.

United Nations officials estimate that southern Lebanon is littered with one million unexploded bomblets, far outnumbering the 650,000 people living in the region. They are stuck in the branches of olive trees and the broad leaves of banana trees. They are on rooftops, mixed in with rubble and littered across fields, farms, driveways, roads and outside schools.As of Sept. 28, officials here said cluster bombs had severely wounded 109 people ų and killed 18 others.

Muhammad Hassan Sultan, a slender brown-haired 12-year-old, became a postwar casualty when the shrapnel from a cluster bomb cut into his head and neck. He was from Sawane, a hillside village with a panoramic view of terraced olive farms and rolling hills. Muhammad was sitting on a hip-high wall, watching a bulldozer clear rubble, when the machine bumped into a tree.

A flash of a second later he was fatally injured when a cluster bomblet dropped from the branches. „I took Muhammad to the hospital in my car, but he was already dead,š said Yousef Ftouni, a resident of the village.

The entire village was littered with the bomblets, and as Mr. Ftouni recounted Muhammad‚s death, the Lebanese Army worked its way through an olive grove, blowing up unexploded munitions in a painfully slow process of clearance. more...
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