Sunday, September 30, 2007

So the Iraqis tell us...

From Information Clearing House:

A Message (In English) From The Iraqi Resistance.

Must Watch Video and Transcript

To the American people we say, you have finally awakened and the millions of honorable people amongst you have now realized that the Iraqi people are not your enemies, and they are not responsible for your grief. It is your troops which occupied our country, and not us yours. The arrogant war criminal who rules in your name has humiliated your nation & military honor and we believe, that a democracy that is not willing to fight for its own freedom, is no better that a raw dictatorship.

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Damn it all to hell...this is not right!!!

From :

Returning From Iraq, Wounded Vets Now Suffer Financial Woes

Jeff Donn and Kimberly Hefling, The Associated Press, write: "He was one of America's first defenders on September 11, 2001, a Marine who pulled burned bodies from the ruins of the Pentagon. He saw more horrors in Kuwait and Iraq. Today, he can't keep a job, pay his bills, or chase thoughts of suicide from his tortured brain."

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Peggy absolutely right!

From The Wall Street Journal:


Hear, Hear
Americans should not fear talking--and listening--to those whose views we loathe.

Friday, September 28, 2007 12:01 a.m.

You don't want to judge Christ by Christians, someone once said. He is perfect, they are not.
In a similar way you don't want to judge capitalism by capitalists, or the legitimacy of democracy by the Democrats, or the vitality of our republic by the Republicans. You have to take the thing pure and in itself, while allowing for the flaws and waywardness of its practitioners.

I say this because here in America we have reached a funny pass. People are doing and saying odd things as if they don't know the meaning of the thing they say they stand for. In particular I mean we used to be proud of whom we allowed to speak, and now are leaning toward defining ourselves by whom we don't speak to and will not allow to speak. This is not progress.

Conservatives on campus are shouted down. A crusader against illegal immigration is rushed off the stage at Columbia University. Great newspapers give ad breaks to groups with which they feel an ideological affinity, but turn away ads from those they do not, such as antiabortion groups. And they call this a business.

So much silencing. It seems so weak, so out of keeping with who we are. We love the tradition of free speech in America, but you don't want to judge its health by what we've done with it lately, or to it.

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He did lie...Apologize to Move-On!!!

From LA Times via :

FOCUS | Petraeus Now Admits to Rise in Iraq Violence

Alexandra Zavis reported in the Los Angeles Times that General David Petraeus admitted that violence in Iraq has increased, contradicting his testimony before Congress earlier this month when he said that attacks between Sunni and Shiite factions fell dramatically since George W. Bush sent an additional 30,000 US troops into Iraq earlier this year.

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Saturday, September 29, 2007

Remove "person" from all Corporations...

From :

How Corporate Personhood Threatens Democracy

How Corporations Became 'Persons'

The amazing true story of a legal fiction that undermines American democracy.


By Tom Stites
"Corporations have been enthroned and an era of corruption in high places will follow, and the money power of the country will endeavor to prolong its reign by working upon the prejudices of the people until all wealth is aggregated in a few hands and the Republic is destroyed."


Corporations Special Issue

Corporations 1, Citizens 0 by David Wolman and Heather Wax
Communities Fight Back by Jane Greer
A Prodemocracy Visionary by Kimberly French
Resources on Corporate Privilege by Jane Greer and Tom Stites


Sound like a protester railing against the World Trade Organization? Think again. These are the words of a successful corporate lawyer who represented railroads before becoming president of the United States. They resonate for many people in this Era of Enron, when huge hot-stock corporations have cooked deals with the aid of their auditors and Wall Street bankers to enrich executives at the expense of their employees and shareholders, when corporate lobbyists and campaign donors so often have their way despite the interests of the voters, and when Federal Reserve figures show that the top 1 percent of U.S. households controls 38 percent of the nation's wealth. But these words were written in an 1864 letter, by Abraham Lincoln.

Today, Lincoln's prophetic letter turns up more than 1,100 times in an Internet search, largely in writing that provides evidence that concern about corporate power is spreading rapidly—even though the issue is far from popular in our corporate-owned news media. The number of books on the topic is growing in number and quality. And a new breed of activists is winning converts to the idea that while vast corporations have helped fuel unprecedented prosperity they have also overpowered "government of the people, by the people, and for the people," to quote another memorable Lincoln phrase. Corporations' power over the government is at the root of a wide array of issues of deep concern to Unitarian Universalists, including campaign finance reform, the growing gap between rich and poor, environmental degradation, globalization, and whether democracy itself has been reduced to a mere charade or a sideshow in a global bazaar.

The debate about corporate power so far has cast it as a political issue. Yet, like all that is crucial, it is a religious concern as well. Any force that can overpower democracy is a threat not only to our nation's political system but also to the human spirit, to the right of conscience, and thus to human freedom.

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Friday, September 28, 2007

From GOP candidates to Scooter Libby's prison #...

From American Progress:

Think Fast...

The decision by the four leading frontrunners for the GOP presidential nomination to skip last night's debate that focused on issues related to people of color elicited outrage from the rest of the field. Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee said he was "embarrassed," and Sen. Sam Brownback (R-KS) said the absence of the leading candidates was a "disgrace."

Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki rejected a U.S. Senate proposal calling for the partitioning of Iraq. "Iraqis are eager for Iraq's unity. ... Dividing Iraq is a problem and a decision like that would be a catastrophe," he said.
One of members of the Jena 6 -- Mychal Bell -- "was released on bail on Thursday, a week after the case drew thousands of protesters to the small town in the central part of the state." The Jena district attorney announced that "he would not seek to maintain adult charges against the teenager."

An initial State Department report on a Sept. 16 shootout in Baghdad involving Blackwater USA says the private security contractors were "ambushed near the traffic circle and returned fire before fleeing the scene," a depiction of events that contradicts Iraqi findings. Separately, State has confirmed that Blackwater personnel have been involved in 56 shootings while guarding U.S. officials this past year.

The State Department said yesterday that "the first American oil contract in Iraq," between the Hunt Oil Company and the Kurdistan Regional Government," is counterproductive towards the U.S. goal of "strengthening the country's central government."

"Fourteen "high-value" terrorism suspects who were transferred to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, from secret CIA prisons last year have been formally offered the right to request lawyers, a move that could allow them to join other detainees in challenging their status as enemy combatants in a U.S. appellate court."

"It's a lonely U.S. Senate for Larry Craig, whose uncertain status has upset his social and political standing in the clubby chamber." McClatchy newspapers observed Craig's interactions with his colleagues: "[He] mostly moved stiffly through their ranks without engaging much in the easy jocularity and bipartisan banter that go on throughout the day."

And finally: Scooter Libby's prison pseudonym lives on. In the season premiere of NBC's My Name Is Earl last night, the show opened with Earl talking about his life in prison. He then mentioned that for the next two years, he'd be known as inmate 28301-016 -- the same number that the Bureau of Prisons issued to "Scooter" Libby.


Thursday, September 27, 2007

Afghanistan news we don't get in US....

From BBC News:

Taleban 'could re-take territory'
Territory in Afghanistan captured in hard-fought battles by British troops may be re-taken by the Taleban, the Nato commander has warned.

Gen Dan McNeill said the alliance had made some important military gains over the past six months in Helmand.

But he expressed concern that Afghan security forces would not be able to hold on to the territory as the Taleban regroup over winter.

About 25 British troops have been killed there in the past six months.

Tactics in Helmand province, in the south of Afghanistan, over the past six months have been to push the Taleban out of the lush river valleys where the insurgents have had a stronghold.

The tactics have meant close-quarters fighting for British troops.

Exit strategy

Gen McNeill, in an interview with BBC correspondent Alastair Leithhead, said this had been a successful military strategy but that he was concerned the job of holding the ground would not be done effectively by Afghan national security forces.

He said some of the ground taken may have to be taken all over again next year if the Taleban regroup over the winter as he fears they will.

"I think there is some chance of that because the Afghan national security forces have not been as successful in holding as we would like them to be," he said.

"We are likely to have to do some of this work again.

"It would nice if the Afghan national security force could hold it, then there's less of a chance we'll have to do it again."

Training the Afghan army and police to a level where they can maintain Afghanistan security is the exit strategy for foreign forces.

Gen McNeill said the mission was on track and he was pleased with the military progress and ongoing reconstruction projects.

However, he said the third key pillar - improving governance - was not going well and more work would have to be done.


Iran FIRST...Iraq now 2nd for Bush/Cheney...

From :

Scott Ritter | Iraq Will Have to Wait

Scott Ritter writes for "While the antiwar movement focuses its limited resources on trying to leverage real congressional opposition to the war in Iraq, which simply will not happen before the 2008 election, the Bush administration and its Democratic opponents will outflank the antiwar movement on the issue of Iran, pushing forward an aggressive agenda in the face of light or nonexistent opposition. Of the two problems (the reality of Iraq, the potential of Iran), Iran is by far the more important."

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From DOD vs Blackwater USA to Pig in bathroom stall...

From American Progress:

Think Fast...

U.S. military officials are pressing the State Department to "assert more control over" Blackwater USA, "which operates under the department's authority." "This is a nightmare," said a senior military official of the recent incident involving Blackwater. "This is going to hurt us badly. It may be worse than Abu Ghraib."

While expressing his support for international human rights yesterday at the U.N., "Bush didn't mention the U.S. prisons in Afghanistan or at Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay, the U.S. practice of holding detainees for years without legal charges or access to lawyers, or the CIA's 'rendition' kidnappings of suspects abroad, all issues of concern to human rights activists around the world."

Negotiators from the United Auto Workers union and General Motors reached a tentative agreement on a groundbreaking deal early Wednesday to end a two-day old strike by 73,000 workers. The agreement "includes a historic restructuring of GM's obligations for UAW retiree health care."

"Sunni Arab extremists have begun a systematic campaign to assassinate police chiefs, police officers, other Interior Ministry officials and tribal leaders throughout Iraq, staging at least 10 attacks in 48 hours." Iraqi officials said that the attacks might well have been intended to blunt the administration's message that "surge" has succeeded in establishing security.
More than 2,000 people in Iraq are suffering from cholera, which is spreading across the country, the World Health Organization said. The spread of the disease has been accelerated by chlorine restrictions imposed on Iraq due to security concerns.

"Senate Democrats moved Tuesday to add an expanded hate-crimes ban to the defense authorization, giving them more time to court GOP votes for a new Iraq withdrawal plan but dimming the must-pass bill's chances for passage this week."

House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers (D-MI) said he will "press the government for the release of a black teenager held in the 'Jena 6' case that spurred one of the biggest civil-rights demonstrations in years." "Our first responsibility is to get young Mychal Bell out of prison," he said.

And finally: The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine has released an ad showcasing the "disturbing relationship between agribusiness contributions" and pork-barrel funding projects. In the ad, a suited man walks into a men's room with a briefcase, begins tapping his foot, and is handed cash from underneath a neighboring stall. "The next stall occupant? A giant pig, squealing." Watch it here.


Some mighty interesting books...

From Publishers Lunch Weekly:


Adaobi Tricia Nwaubani's I DO NOT COME TO YOU BY CHANCE, the story of a Nigerian family descending into poverty -- focusing on an earnestly ambitious son and his prideful, cautious mother -- who are drawn into Nigeria's 419 email scam industry, with its implications on their personal lives and on Nigerian society at large, to Zareen Jaffrey at Hyperion, by Daniel Lazar at Writers House (NA).

Irete Lazo's THE ACCIDENTAL SANTERA, the story of a Latina scientist's unlikely journey into Santeria, the ancient and often-misunderstood religion brought to the New World by Yoruba slaves, to Toni Plummer at Thomas Dunne Books, by Zachary Shuster Harmsworth Literary Agency (World).


Author of Dead Connection, Alafair Burke's LAST CALL, continuing with Detective Ellie Hatcher, pitting her against a serial killer targeting the Manhattan bar scene, moving with Jennifer Barth to Harper, for two books, for publication beginning in fall 2008, by Philip Spitzer at Philip Spitzer Literary Agency (world, excl. UK).
Translation rights:

Mehmet Murat Somer's THE KISS MURDER and THE PROPHET MURDERS, the first in a mystery series set in Istanbul starring a transvestite nightclub owner who is a Thai kickboxing expert, has a fondness for the chic style of Audrey Hepburn, and is drawn into solving crimes of passion, blackmail, and sexual intrigue, to Alexis Washam at Penguin, in a pre-empt, by George Lucas at Inkwell Management on behalf of Serpent's Tail (NA).

Thrity Umrigar's THE WEIGHT OF HEAVEN, the story of a young American couple who travel to India to heal from the grief of the death of their son and while there decide to adopt a child, but are forced to face with their own cultural imperialism, again to Claire Wachtel at Harper, by Marly Rusoff at Marly Rusoff & Associates (world; excl. Germany).

Seth Greenland's SHINING CITY, a satire of contemporary life, in which an average guy inherits a dry-cleaning business from his estranged brother, discovers it's a front for a call-girl service, and must come to terms with his new life as a pimp, to Colin Dickerman at Bloomsbury, by Henry Dunow at Dunow, Carlson & Lerner (NA).


Sarah Ockler's debut TWENTY BOY SUMMER, pitched as in the tradition of Ann Brashares and Sarah Dessen, following a sixteen-year-old girl with a life-shattering secret as she navigates the unfamiliar landscape of changing friendships, burgeoning sexuality, loss, and the meaning of true love, to Jennifer Hunt at Little, Brown, in a pre-empt, for two books, by Ted Malawer at Firebrand Literary.


THE SMART COOKIES' GUIDE TO MAKING MORE DOUGH, recounting five women's personal stories of their financial mishaps and strategies for paying down debt as quickly and painlessly as possible, to Danielle Perez at Bantam Dell, and Canadian rights to Anne Collins at Random House Canada, by Pilar Queen and Richard Pine at Inkwell Management.


Dr. Robert Kaplan's DO NO HARM: The Disturbing Phenomenon of Medical Murder, exploring the dark side of the doctor's compulsion to take responsibility for human life - the potential for unbalanced or sychopathic physicians to take responsibility for death, and how the medical system has often let them get away with it, to Peter Ginna at Bloomsbury, by Martin Kaplan (World).

Guardian China correspondent Jonathan Watts's WHEN A BILLION CHINESE JUMP, a ground-up exploration of the stark choice facing China: become either the world's first green superpower or an agent of global ecological disaster, to Colin Robinson at Scribner, and Henry Volans at Faber UK, by David Fugate at LaunchBooks Literary Agency.

Exiled former prime minister of Pakistan (back in the news for a possible return to power) Benazir Bhutto's RECONCILIATION: Islam, Democracy and the West, part memoir and part political book, offering a "look at the mistakes we've made in the region and what we can do to correct them - as well as what the consequences will be if we don't," to Tim Duggan at Harper, for publication in spring 2008, by Andrew Wylie at The Wylie Agency.

GOLDIE'S LOX AND THE THREE BAGELS authors Jeffrey Dubinsky and Lila Dubinsky's A FISTFUL OF DREIDELS AND OTHER YIDDISH TALES OF THE OLD WEST, short western stories with a Jewish twist, such as Gunfight At The Oy Vey Corral; The Good, The Bad, and The Meshugah; Have Gelt, Will Travel; and My Darling Clemenstein, to Gary Goldstein at Citadel, in a nice deal, for publication in Fall 2008 (World).


Andy Taylor's WILD BOY: MY LIFE WITH DURAN DURAN, the memoir from the former member of Duran Duran that charts his 25 years in the music world and sheds light on its key players from the inside, and how his 20-plus year marriage has endured against all odds, to Karen Kosztolnyik at Grand Central, by Diane Banks of Diane Banks Associates (US).

Pulitzer Prize-winning music critic Tim Page's PARALLEL PLAY, a memoir based on his New Yorker article about growing up gifted and unknowingly struggling with Asperger's Syndrome, to Karyn Marcus at Doubleday, in a pre-empt, for publication in fall 2009, by Melanie Jackson at the Melanie Jackson Agency.


NBCC finalist Jason Roberts' EVERY LIVING THING, about the audacious, often-fatal program launched by scientist Carl Linnaeus (1707-1778), to compile a catalog of all life by sending acolytes to every corner of the globe (billed as "The Right Stuff of the 1700s"), to Starling Lawrence at Norton, in a pre-empt, for publication in 2009, by Michael Carlisle at Inkwell Management (US).

Canadian rights to Doubleday Canada, in a pre-empt.


OK. Drinkers' turn in the barrel...for health/safety of course...

From :

Beer, Wine, Liquor Raise Breast Cancer Risk
Three Drinks A Day Like Pack Of Cigarettes

POSTED: 5:55 am PDT September 27, 2007

A woman who drinks alcohol -- whether it is beer, wine or liquor -- is more likely to get breast cancer, according to a new study.

The study by Kaiser Permanente looked at information from more than 70,000 women from 1978 to 1985. By 2004, more than 2,800 -- 4 percent -- had been diagnosed with breast cancer.

They found that women who had one or two drinks a day were 10 percent more likely to get breast cancer than light drinkers. Those who drank more had an even higher risk, leading researchers to say that it is the volume of alcohol consumed that increases the risk.

The researchers said the effect of having three or more drinks a day is the same as smoking a pack of cigarettes.

The results were the same across ethnic groups, researchers said.

Other studies, including research from the same authors, have shown light to moderate alcohol drinking can protect against heart attacks, according to a news release.


Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Daniel Ellsberg talks truth...

From Information Clearing House:

'A Coup Has Occurred'

By Daniel Ellsberg

If there's another 9/11 under this regime ... it means that they switch on full extent all the apparatus of a police state that has been patiently constructed, largely secretly at first but eventually leaked out and known and accepted by the Democratic people in Congress, by the Republicans and so forth.

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UN General Assembly...and espionage...

From Stratfor:

U.N. General Assembly: Security Challenges and Intelligence Opportunities
By Fred Burton and Scott Stewart

Autumn in the northern United States is a time when birds and other migratory creatures begin to head south in anticipation of the coming winter chill. This week in the early autumn also marks the high point in another migration, when leaders and intelligence officers from across the world flock to New York for the annual U.N. General Assembly (UNGA) session. This intricate annual ritual includes much pomp and politicking, demonstrations of power -- and a good deal of espionage.

Although many of the heads of state and foreign ministers participating in the UNGA's 62nd annual session are friendly to the United States, others are not. Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, in fact, is generally considered quite unsavory -- to the point that some Americans wish him ill. But when Ahmadinejad is in the United States, his safety is the responsibility of the U.S. government, which takes great pains to carry out its mandate. The visit of such a vocal, colorful and controversial leader as Ahmadinejad, however, creates tremendous security challenges for the U.S. Secret Service and the other agencies supporting its protective mission.

In addition to security headaches, such trips also give the U.S. government an outstanding opportunity to collect intelligence on a leader such as Ahmadinejad, who comes from a country where it is difficult for U.S. intelligence agencies to operate. Such intelligence not only aids in understanding what makes him tick, but also helps the U.S. government formulate strategy on how best to approach and negotiate with his government in the future.

Security Challenges

By its very nature, the annual UNGA session presents security problems. The concentration of so many world leaders in one place is a powerful magnet for the international press -- as well as protesters who seek to exploit the media presence to get their messages out to a worldwide audience. Moreover, the UNGA almost always discusses hot-button issues such as wars, human rights issues, climate change and territorial disputes, providing further fodder for the press and the protesters. In fact, several protests take place each day near the United Nations -- some that have permits and some that pop up spontaneously. One memorable spontaneous protest occurred during the UNGA meeting in 1991, when Haiti's military launched a coup that forced Haitian President Bertrand Aristide into exile. That night, tens of thousands of Haitians participated in a huge impromptu demonstration in front of the U.N. complex. The protesters, demanding U.N. action to reinstate Aristide, lit large bonfires in the center of First Avenue and then danced and sang around them until the wee hours of the morning.

Demonstrators sometimes will intentionally cross the line from peaceful protest to physical assault so their arrests will result in press coverage for their issue of choice. These illegal actions might have little or no direct correlation to the object of their protest. For example, in the late 1980s and early 1990s a group called the Committee in Solidarity with the People of El Salvador (CISPES) came to the UNGA every year to protest the U.S. government's policy toward El Salvador, and members of the group sought to be arrested in order to publicize their cause. The activists, however, not only would target Salvadoran leaders, but also would jump on any target of opportunity that came by at the time they wanted to be arrested. In consecutive years CISPES members assaulted the unlucky motorcades of the Indian and Chinese foreign ministers to publicize their cause.

Into this general environment comes Ahmadinejad, whose position as the president of Iran, as well as his past rhetoric concerning the United States, Israel and the Holocaust, presents a large panorama of security challenges. During this latest trip to the United States, Ahmadinejad has been protested by a constellation of groups, including Iranian dissidents, Jews, human rights groups, women's rights groups and ordinary Americans.

Since the Iranian Revolution, Iranian dignitaries visiting the United Nations have consistently been met by hostile protesters. Some of the protesters are affiliated with groups such as the Mujahideen e-Khalq (MEK), the Iraq-based Iranian opposition group that the U.S. government has designated a foreign terrorist organization. MEK members and sympathizers have not conducted attacks in the United States, but they have assaulted Iranian officials during events such as UNGA -- especially lower-level members of the Iranian delegations not covered by U.S. protective details. The MEK, however, has on occasion attempted to impede, embarrass or assault Iranian dignitaries such as the president or foreign minister. In an incident a number of years ago, Iranian dissidents mistook the Cuban foreign minister for a similar-looking Iranian foreign minister and hurled eggs at his motorcade

In addition to the demonstration threat, the number of world leaders and the confluence of international press also raise concerns that militants will attempt to conduct an attack during the UNGA. During UNGA sessions, jihadists have surveilled dignitaries such as Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, Egypt's then-Foreign Minister Amr Moussa and then-U.S. President Bill Clinton, going so far as to plan attacks against these officials as well as temporary diplomatic residences such as the Waldorf-Astoria and U.N. Plaza hotels.

But perhaps the most acute and least understood and appreciated threat is that posed by the mentally disturbed individual acting alone. This is especially true in the case of a high-profile protectee such as Ahmadinejad, whose position and rhetoric make him a magnet for such people. As demonstrated by attackers such as John Hinckley, Sirhan Sirhan and Mark David Chapman, mentally disturbed individuals have long posed a significant threat to high-profile figures in the United States.

Because of this general threat environment, the strong anti-Iranian sentiment and the Iranians' mistrust of Americans, the Iranians understandably send a large, armed protective detail with dignitaries such as Ahmadinejad. This not only creates security and protocol issues for the U.S. Secret Service and Diplomatic Security Service special agents as they haggle and jostle with foreign security officers over whose agents will be assigned where in the protective formation and motorcade, but it also a creates a condition in which the American protective detail feels the need to protect American citizens from the aggression of the foreign security officers, who will sometimes shove, point weapons at or otherwise intimidate people. Foreign security officers have been known not only to conduct themselves this way toward peaceful protesters exercising their First Amendment rights (most protesters are not violent) but also sometimes to act aggressively toward ordinary people on the street.

Intelligence Opportunities

This history of action directed against Iranian dignitaries has led to another interesting migratory phenomenon. Every year, a number of tough-looking Iranian-American "volunteers" travel to New York from various places around the United States to provide additional security for the Iranian delegates. It speaks volumes that these men, who identify themselves as medical doctors and university students, are trusted by a foreign government with such a sensitive assignment. This group is one the MEK would love to infiltrate. This role is especially significant because Iranian intelligence officers assigned to or visiting the United Nations are restricted to a 25-mile radius from U.N. Headquarters. Eager to collect intelligence outside of that 25-mile zone, the Iranians also call on these U.S. citizens -- whose movements are not restricted, of course -- to carry out the work. These security and intelligence-collection duties bring them to the attention of U.S. agents, who then investigate them and monitor their activities even after they return to their home cities. Moreover, auxiliary Iranian intelligence and security officers can be quite aggressive in their efforts to collect intelligence on anti-Iranian demonstrators during the UNGA, and some of them have been assaulted while attempting to infiltrate the demonstrations. These skirmishes give the U.S. agents watching the crowd further insight into these people.

Iranian intelligence officers are not the only ones who have had their collection efforts hampered by the break in diplomatic relations that followed the 1979 revolution in Iran and the storming of the U.S. Embassy in Tehran. Not having an embassy in Tehran has made it very difficult for the United States to participate in the standard embassy-based espionage that every country practices. The U.S. government can and does use case officers who operate in Iran under nonofficial cover. It also recruits Iranians from outside of the country -- to supply information from outside or to return home as spies. Those methods, however, do not provide the same flow of intelligence on a country's leadership as does having an embassy in the capital and meeting regularly with government officials.

Because of this, Ahmadinejad's trip to New York has given the U.S. government a unique window of opportunity to gather intelligence. Of course, whom he meets and what they discuss is carefully scrutinized, but even seemingly small bits of information such as his sleeping habits, shopping purchases, diet and any medications he takes or books he reads also are pored over by psychologists, psychiatrists, medical doctors and leadership analysis experts at the CIA and elsewhere. This leadership analysis is done in an effort to understand his current behavior and to predict or anticipate his actions in future situations.

The opportunity to watch members of Ahmadinejad's entourage is another significant intelligence window. All eyes are naturally turned to Ahmadinejad himself, but a significant amount of intelligence also can be gained by watching the lesser-known straphangers -- especially those who are confirmed or suspected intelligence officers. Such individuals usually view attendance at the UNGA sessions as an opportunity to travel to New York and pursue their own agenda, and they frequently can be seen attempting to slip away for meetings on the side. Identifying these people, discovering who they are meeting and why can be a significant intelligence coup. In some ways, monitoring these individuals is more critical than watching Ahmadinejad himself.

Ahmadinejad is but one of the hundreds of dignitaries who will visit New York during the UNGA, though he is one of the relatively few who will be afforded a U.S. protective detail. This dramatic dance of dignitaries, media, protesters and espionage agents will be played out many times until the 62nd UNGA session ends Oct. 3.

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Bush trying to make $$$ off New Orleans poor...

From Facing South:


Despite a severe shortage of affordable housing along the Gulf Coast, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development has approved a plan to tear down four public housing complexes in New Orleans and replace them with mixed-income developments with less space for the poor.

U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.) says HUD is pushing forward with the tear-downs at the same time Congress is considering legislation that would require replacement housing.

(Facing South, 9/24/2007)


FYI...Protest Blackwater USA at Portrero CA...

Citizens’ Oversight Projects

CONTACT: Raymond Lutz, COPS Coordinator 619-820-5321

Carol Jahnkow, Peace Resource Center
760-390-0775 /

September 24, 2007

As Blackwater USA Comes Under Increasing Fire for Actions in Iraq,
So-Cal Locals Turn Up the Heat to Stop Blackwater West

Residents Organize Largest Protest to Date at the Gates of
Planned Blackwater West Site Near Tiny Border Town

Weekend of Saturday, October 6th – Sunday, October 7th
Special Guest Speakers TBA

SAN DIEGO COUNTY, CA (Sept. 24) – – As US Congress and Iraqi government officials probe recent killings of civilians by the notorious private contractors in Baghdad, local opponents to the expansion of Blackwater USA will stage a major rally and encampment at the gates of the proposed “Blackwater West” site in Potrero, a tiny town in east San Diego county on Saturday, October 6th - Sunday, October, 7th. The event will happen the same week Blackwater chairman Erik Prince is invited to testify before the US House Oversight Committe on October 2, 2007.

Blackwater USA plans to build a training facility “Blackwater West” in Potrero, California, a small community in San Diego County 45 miles east of the City of San Diego. Residents of Potrero and San Diego have been organizing and began fighting this facility earlier this year on a number of issues.

Opponents point to the environmental impacts which will be enormous and long-lasting, including loss of sensitive habitat, depletion of an already fragile and shrinking water table, groundwater pollution and more. In addition, people living in Potrero will be exposed to noise, traffic and disruption of their quiet way of life.

Blackwater USA, known as one of the most powerful and secretive forces to emerge from the U.S. military-industrial complex and one of the greatest beneficiaries of the “global war on terror,” is increasingly underfire for acting above the law. The recent killing and wounding of at least a dozen innocent Iraqi civilians underscores the dangers this company poses to the community.

“There is no place for companies like Blackwater in a democracy," said Carol Jahnkow, key organizer and Executive Director, Peace Resource Center of San Diego. “Destroying communities for profit at the expense of the environment must stop. Profiting from war and human suffering must stop!”

“The public is waking up to the atrocities attributed to Blackwater and to the private mercenary soldier industry now staring us in the face," said Raymond Lutz, coordinator of Citizens’ Oversight Projects (COPS) and “The intimidating nature of these mercenary boot camps has kept locals from speaking out but, the tides have changed, when Blackwater USA tried to put in a jungle training camp in the Philippines they has to pull out after fierce public outcry. We can do the same here in San Diego County, we are resisting the further expansion of corporate mercenary armies and unregulated training of U.S. Armed Forces in residential areas.”

The two-day educational encampment and walk to the gates of the site are expected to draw hundreds of opponents of the project and to the expansion of Blackwater West.

The event will start on Saturday, October 6th at 9am with a hike to visit the Hauser Wilderness which abuts the project site conducted by the Sierra Club. From 2-5pm, educational seminars will be conducted at the Potrero Regional Park (see locations details below) and then an evening of music and spoken word at the rally site from 7-9pm.

Attendees will camp at the Potrero Regional Park campground, and other lodging is available nearby.

On Sunday, the special guest keynote speakers will make their presentations starting at 1pm and then the rally will proceed to march to the gate of the site and to an viewpoint that overlooks the valley.


Camping at Potrero Regional Park.

9AM – 2PM: Sierra Club-led Hauser Wilderness Hike – Begins at Potrero County Park.
2-5 PM: Educational Workshops and displays on the environment, Blackwater West impacts on Potrero and the San Diego region, Potrero area Wildlife, Militarization of the Border and more (Potrero Regional Park) Speakers include Raymond Lutz (COPS), Jeanette Hartman (Sierra Club) and Jan Hedlun (Sole member opponent on the Potrero Planning Group.)

7-9 PM: Music and spoken word gathering celebrating peace, the environment and safe, livable communities (will be held on private property at corner of Round Potrero Road & Yerba Santa. The “Rally Site.”)

DAY 2--RALLY AND MARCH, Sunday, October 7th

NOON: Music and gathering at the rally site.
1 PM: Special Keynote Speakers (to be announced)
2:30 PM. One Mile Walk to gates of proposed Blackwater site

Location of the Rally is on private property, (corner of Round Potrero Road & Yerba Santa;)

Sponsored by the Peace Resource Center of San Diego, the San Diego Coalition for Peace & Justice, Citizens' Oversight Projects (COPS), San Diego Veterans for Peace, Code Pink, Activist San Diego, San Diego SUN, San Diego Puppet Insurgency, North County Coalition for Peace & Justice, San Diego Renters Union, and endorsed by the Green Party, the Democratic Party of San Diego County, and the East County Democratic Club.

DIRECTIONS: Potrero Regional Park: From San Diego, East on 94. North on Potrero Valley Rd, Right on Potrero Park Rd. to the end. Rally Site: 23975 Yerba Santa Rd. From San Diego, East on 94. N on Potrero Valley Rd, Left on Round Potrero Rd. to 23975 Yerba Santa Rd.)


Tuesday, September 25, 2007

From violent crime to Bush's special WH fly swatters...

From American Progress:

Think Fast...

Violent crime rose nearly two percent last year, slightly more than expected, the FBI reported on Monday. "The number of big-city murders also increased, by 1.8 percent, the same rate as homicides nationwide."

In a victory for the Bush administration, a special military appeals court ruling "removed a legal hurdle that has derailed" trials for detainees at Guantanamo Bay. The ruling allows prosecutors to introduce new evidence that defendants labeled "enemy combatants" are actually "alien unlawful enemy combatants," as the law requires for them to be tried in military tribunals.

Following large protests last week supporting six African-American teenagers in Jena, LA, white supremacists have begun calling for retaliatory violence. The threats include the posting on a neo-Nazi website of the names, addresses and phone numbers of some of the six teenagers and their families. In an interview, the Mayor of Jena, Murphy McMillin, "praised efforts by pro-white groups to organize counter-demonstrations."

At a gala in Little Rock last night, former President Bill Clinton and other dignitaries honored the nine black students who integrated Little Rock Central High school fifty years ago while stressing "the country's continuing need for better race relations."

UAW President Ron Gettelfinger said of the autoworkers strike: "Job security is one of our primary concerns. ... We're talking about investment and we're talking about job creation" and preserving benefits, he said. Negotiators were to return Tuesday morning for their 22nd straight day of bargaining.

"The world's top leaders should meet every three months, starting next year, until a plan is drawn up to reduce emissions blamed for global warming, former U.S. Vice President Al Gore said on Monday."

A suicide bomber in Iraq blew himself up on Monday "at a banquet intended to be a reconciliation feast between provincial officials and former Sunni insurgents in Diyala Province, killing 16 people and wounding at least 28."

And finally: Fly Swatter-in-Chief. Former Press Secretary Tony Snow reports that President Bush chases "flies around the Oval Office. It drives him crazy when flies get in." Bush is so well known as a fly hunter among his White House staff, says Snow, that somebody "made him White House fly swatters."


Monday, September 24, 2007

Video interview after NY with Ahmadinejad...

From Information Clearing House:

Full Interview With Mahmoud Ahmadinejad

Video - 60 Minutes - 09/23/07

Presstitute, Scott Pelley interviewed Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in Tehran on Thursday. Ahmadinejad talks about his visit to New York, Iran's nuclear program and his views on Israel.

[Use link above to see video]


From the Pope to pushing reporter down the stairs...

From American Progress:

Pope Benedict will use his first address to the United Nations to "deliver a powerful warning over climate change in a move to adopt protection of the environment as a 'moral' cause for the Catholic Church and its billion-strong following."

A classified Pentagon program has attempted to "bait" Iraqi insurgents by planting items such as detonation cords, plastic explosives and ammunition, and then killing Iraqis who pick them up. Experts worry that such a baiting program "raises troubling possibilities, such as what happens when civilians pick up the items."

The closure of the Guantanamo Bay detention facility looks "increasingly unlikely." President Bush, "who last year told German television that he 'would like to end Guantanamo,' is now threatening to veto any move to 'micromanage the detention of enemy combatants.'"

In the days after 9/11, Attorney General nominee Michael Mukasey dismissed concerns by a 21-year old Jordanian immigrant that he had been beaten while in U.S. custody, leaving bruises that were hidden beneath his orange prison jumpsuit. "As far as the claim that he was beaten, I will tell you that he looks fine to me," said Judge Mukasey.

"In the corruption trial of former [Alaska] House Speaker Pete Kott, a former Veco executive testified that the oil field services company routinely paid for all or parts of political polls -- usually at the request of candidates. The FBI is currently investigating Sen. Ted Stevens's (R-AK) ties to former Veco chairman Bill Allen.

"A coalition of prominent civil rights groups is making a last-ditch push to derail controversial Federal Election Commission nominee Hans von Spakovsky less than a week before he faces a crucial test in the Senate."

And finally: CBS reporter Mike Flannery was pushed by an aide to Rep. Jerry Weller (R-IL) when trying to ask the congressman questions about his "controversial Latin American land deals." "There's a large man, who begins shoving reporters around, including yours truly. ... There's an opening in the doorway, and I begin moving through that doorway, and he shoves me down the stairs," Flannery said. He later called the staffer a "goon." Watch a video HERE.


Leiberman-Kyl...a pair of sick ones....

From The Pen:


In case you thought it was just an aberrant moment of lunacy last
week when Lieberman pressed General Petraeus for an attack on Iran,
just before the weekend he introduced an amendment to the defense
bill to authorize exactly that.

No, we are not kidding. He has drafted language that any impartial
observer would interpret as a DECLARATION OF WAR against Iran, and he
is pressing for a vote as fast as possible.


Here is the language from the amendment:

(3) that it should be the policy of the United States to combat,
contain, and roll back the violent activities and destabilizing
influence inside Iraq of the Government of the Islamic Republic of
Iran, its foreign facilitators such as Lebanese Hezbollah, and its
indigenous Iraqi proxies;

(4) to support the prudent and calibrated use of all instruments of
United States national power in Iraq, including diplomatic, economic,
intelligence, and military instruments, in support of the policy
described in paragraph (3) with respect to the Government of the
Islamic Republic of Iran and its proxies.

The policy of the U.S should be to "combat" Iran with "all" "military
instruments"?!? You can be absolutely certain that those are the ONLY
words Dick Cheney and George Bush will see or care about.


We need every warm body we can muster to call and email their
senators RIGHT NOW, before they pull another fast one and sneak this
one through in the dead of the night. Call them toll free at 800
828-0498, 800 614 2803 or 866 340 9281, and the submit the action
form below to make sure your message gets through.

Just yesterday, Newsweek reported that Cheney had recently made
overtures to Israel to get them to launch an attack against Iran, to
try to provoke an all out conflagration. It seems every day there is
a new story leaked about their aggressive preparations for The
Debacle, Part 2. And just as in the lead up to the Iraq invasion,
they will keep lying, lying and lie some more about their intentions
until they've shot off every cruise missile in the military

We need your voice, and the voices of everyone else you know, and we
them now. We need to absolutely flood the Capitol with phone calls
and email. Please believe your voice counts. Please believe that when
enough of us raise our voices together at one time they do have an

Cheney and his minions are absolutely not going to stop pushing for
an even bigger disaster unless we stop them by speaking out with a
louder voice. So we cannot let up ourselves even for an instant.


We would be remiss not to ask who other than Dennis Kucinich has
shown more courage to speak out against the Iraq disaster before it
even started? If you are asking yourself what you can do to encourage
Dennis to continue to stand strong on the ISSUES, why not make a
contribution, if you are so motivated.


Please take action NOW, so we can win all victories that are supposed
to be ours, and forward this message to everyone else you know.

If you would like to get alerts like these, you can do so at

Or if you want to cease receiving our messages, just use the function


[Use links above to continue reading]

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All rights reserved


Sunday, September 23, 2007

Abusive Bush...a fulltime bully....

From Information Clearing House:

Decadent perversity:

No matter the horrors of Iraq, Bush clings to his faith in victory, and a new biography discloses how he releases his anxiety by humiliating his aides.

[Use link above to continue reading]


Wealth creates poverty...Globalization is bad...

From Information Clearing House:

Mystery: How Wealth Creates Poverty in the World

By Michael Parenti

There is a "mystery" we must explain: How is it that as corporate investments and foreign aid and international loans to poor countries have increased dramatically throughout the world over the last half century, so has poverty? The number of people living in poverty is growing at a faster rate than the world's population. What do we make of this?


In case you missed it:

Wealth Creates Poverty?

Must Watch Video: Dr. Michael Parenti:

"Terrorism, Globalization and Conspiracy"

Globalization is an attempt to extend corporate monopoly control over the whole globe. Over every national economy. Over every local economy Over every life.

[Use links above to continue reading]


Judge denies attorneys access to Gitmo prisoners...

From :

US Government Blocks Lawyer Access to Gitmo

Ben Fox, The Associated Press, writes: "Attorneys for at least 40 Guantanamo Bay prisoners have been barred from visiting or writing their clients because of a judge's order dismissing legal challenges to the men's confinement, the US Department of Justice said Friday."

[Use link above to continue reading]


Saturday, September 22, 2007

Clear Channel kills progressive talk radio in San Diego...

From an anonymous commenter:

KLSD and the progressive talk will end its run in October. The new format starts on Oct. 15. Scot Tempesta has left the building, and that means Stacy Taylor will too.


No okay from Homeland Sec, no American flies without their okay...not even in US...

From the Federal Register:

Buried in the September 5 issue of the Federal Register, was a notice that Thursday, September 20, the Transportation Safety Administration (TSA) will hold public hearings on their so-called Secure Flight Plan.

Come with me into a nightmare world where American citizens will have to obtain permission from the government before they can travel by air in the U.S.

Your government (meaning the Department of Homeland Security) is up to no good.

Beginning in February 2008, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) will implement their ?Advance Passenger Information System (APIS),? the gist of which is that you will need permission from the United States Government to travel on any air or sea vessel that goes to, from or through the U.S. The travel companies will not be able to issue a boarding pass until you are cleared by DHS. This applies to ALL passengers, US citizens and visitors alike. And how do you get said permission to travel? That?s for your government to know and you to never find out.

Now TSA proposes to do for domestic travel what APIS will do for international routes. That?s what I said: the new TSA rule would require that you obtain PERMISSION to travel within the U.S.

Here is the summary of their proposed rules, which seem so reasonable, couched as they are in the blandness of governmenteez [emphasis added].

The Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act (IRTPA) requires the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to assume from aircraft operators the function of conducting pre-flight comparisons of airline passenger information to Federal Government watch lists for international and domestic flights.

[Use link below to continue reading]


Friday, September 21, 2007

Spare us from the righteous who can make laws....

From The LA Times:

After City Hall is done targeting fast-food restaurants, maybe it can outlaw candy bars and gas stations.
By Laine T. Wagenseller
September 21, 2007

Iam feeling slightly overweight and out of shape. As I get older, my once exemplary metabolism has slowed down, and my thin frame has started taking on more bulk. At first I panicked. I made resolutions to eat better and to exercise more regularly. But then I spread out on the couch to watch "American Idol," and that feeling passed like a 24-hour flu. Later, after much reflection over a burrito and a cola, I came to my senses and realized that this was not a problem of discipline and exercise -- but one of zoning.

Yes, zoning. The problem, you see, was not that I made bad choices or neglected my health. The problem was that others had been allowed to build fast-food restaurants in my neighborhood. I was just a victim of bad zoning, unable to make decisions for myself.

The first step to recovery was to deal with my denial. I had been working out and eating the right foods. But it turned out that what I needed was an expert to guide me through the process of finding a better body. Friends made recommendations -- Billy Blanks, Jake (as in "Body By"), the Dalai Lama. I scoffed at their simplistic, unenlightened views. I needed a real expert. I needed a politician. I needed Jan Perry.

I felt if only Perry could take away everyone's freedom in the name of a noble cause, I would be on my way to a more svelte body in no time.

Perry is the Los Angeles city councilwoman who has proposed a two-year moratorium on new fast-food restaurants in South Los Angeles. Under her plan, the City Council would be the arbiters of whether a restaurant is healthy enough to open in her district.

I suppose that city councilperson training makes one qualified to determine which restaurants should be allowed, by the grace of government, to be opened in certain neighborhoods. I knew that her unchecked power was necessary to fix the free market and the out-of-control liberties that allowed people to choose where they eat.

My next step was to decide on a strategy that Perry could implement. Luckily, there are plenty of models for her to follow.

The L.A. City Council in 2004 had already essentially outlawed Wal-Mart in my neighborhood. Now that residents, by bureaucratic fiat, are freed from the evils of "always low prices," they can subsidize union box boys at $17.50 an hour while waiting in line at an inefficient, union-controlled supermarket to buy overpriced groceries.

Smoking had already been outlawed inside, outside and around most buildings. But smoking was a freedom I could do without, so its absence did not bother me much.

I know there are also efforts to limit liquor stores. I was not enlightened enough before to know that my light beer was apparently not light enough. I am also pretty certain that milk will clog my arteries, but I feel confident that the City Council will zone away milk when it has the time.

When zoning the proposed building that is taking over my downtown parking lot at work, rather than more replacement parking, we'd have fewer spaces. The theory behind this enlightened zoning policy is that the lack of parking spaces will force the unenlightened to walk or use mass transit instead of cars. I do wonder, though, which bus goes to the Orange County courthouse, and how many days it takes to get there.

All of this is healthy, but we can do better. I'm going to suggest to Perry that we zone gas stations out of existence. I think it will encourage more mass transit while also cutting down on pollution. Besides, the candy bars that they sell in the mini-marts go straight to my thighs.

While I initially hesitated at the thought of more government control at the expense of personal freedom, I simply repeated those warm and fuzzy words that always accompany attempts to limit our freedom: "It's for the children." I can already feel the pounds melting away.

Laine T. Wagenseller is an attorney in Los Angeles.


From Bush vetoing kids' ins. to Abe Lincoln flying Delta...

From American Progress:

Think Fast...

"Republicans reacted angrily yesterday" to Bush's pledge to veto increased funding for children's health insurance. "I'm disappointed by the president's comments," said Sen. Charles Grassley (R-IA). "I'm very, very disappointed," echoed Sen. Gordon Smith (R-OR).

89.6 million: The number of Americans under the age of 65 who "had no health insurance for some or all of 2006 and 2007, according to a study released Thursday by Families USA, an advocacy group for the uninsured. The number is "almost double the number of uninsured reported by the Census Bureau for 2006."

The appointment of Donald Rumsfeld as a "distinguished visiting fellow at the Hoover Institution is drawing fierce protests from faculty members and students at Stanford University." "Some 2,100 professors, staff members, students and alumni have signed" a petition protesting his appointment.

Rep. Peter King (R-NY), who recently said "there are too many mosques" in America, continues to advise former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani's presidential campaign. Giuliani "chuckled" at the suggestion of dumping King. "I've known Pete for 41 years, so I'm not about to do that," he said.

The United States "corroborated" Israeli intelligence that formed the basis for Israel's decision to attack a site inside Syria on Sept. 6. While some reports indicate it was a suspected nuclear site, others report it was "missiles and/or weapons parts." Bush refused to make any comment on the matter yesterday.

Attorney General nominee Michael Mukasey assured Senators yesterday "that he would limit contacts between the Justice Department and the White House to halt any political meddling with ongoing investigations." The Senate Judiciary Committee also approved a bill, introduced by Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), which will limit communications between the Justice Department and the White House regarding ongoing investigations.

In the first comprehensive account of Sunday's shootout in Baghdad involving Blackwater contractors, the Iraqi Interior Ministry concluded the guards fired "an unprovoked barrage" on Iraqis in their cars in midday traffic. The report recommends that "the dozens of foreign security companies" in Iraq "should be replaced by Iraqi companies, and that a law that has given the companies immunity for years be scrapped."

And finally: The famous wax museum Madame Tussauds "flew its wax statue of Abraham Lincoln to D.C. on a Delta Shuttle flight on Thursday. Abe rode in the coach section with regular, non-presidential passengers."


Thursday, September 20, 2007

Sanders: San Diego's honorable Mayor...

From Voice of San

Politics, Personal Life Tugged at Sanders

Surrounded by a slew of TV cameras and joined by his wife, his bodyguard, and his top aides, Mayor Jerry Sanders reversed his position on same-sex marriage Wednesday.

By EVAN McLAUGHLIN Voice Staff Writer

Thursday, Sept. 20, 2007 | With his wife by his side, Mayor Jerry Sanders fought back tears to explain Wednesday why he would no longer veto a measure endorsing same-sex marriage because the rights of his daughter and other gays and lesbians were more important than a campaign promise.

"The arrival of the resolution in my office late last night forced me to reflect and search my soul for the right thing to do," Sanders said. "I have decided to lead with my heart, to do what I think is right, and to take a stand on behalf of equality and social justice."

The announcement came as a surprise, as Sanders vowed a day earlier to veto the controversial proposal. The legislation, which the City Council approved Tuesday, directs the City Attorney's Office to send a legal brief endorsing same-sex marriage to the state Supreme Court, which is considering multiple lawsuits seeking to overturn a ban on the marriage of gay and lesbian couples.

The Mayor's Office announced initially Sanders would veto the council's decision in order to remain consistent with campaign statements he made during the 2005 mayoral election.

But Sanders said he changed his mind in the meantime. "I have personally wrestled with that position ever since," he said. "My opinion on this issue has evolved significantly, as I think have the opinions of millions of Americans from all walks of life."

Many people close to him, in his family and his mayoral administration, are gay and he couldn't deny them the rights that he enjoys with his wife, Sanders said.

"I want their relationships to be protected equally under the law," he said. "I could not look any of them in the face and tell them that their relationships -- their very lives -- were any less meaningful than the marriage that I share with my wife Rana."

The "friend of the court" letter that Councilwoman Toni Atkins proposed was an opportunity for city officials to sound off on a social issue that local governments don't normally grapple with as a practical matter. By a 5-3 vote, the council decided to sign on to the same-sex lawsuit on San Diego's behalf, which mirrored moves taken by many other municipalities around the state, including Los Angeles, San Francisco and Oakland.

As mayor, Sanders has the opportunity to either sign the legislation, veto it, or -- as is the case with many City Hall proposals -- do nothing and allow it to be unceremoniously codified into law 10 days after passing at council.

Sanders' spokesman Fred Sainz said on Tuesday that Sanders would veto it because of his prior commitment against same-sex marriage. Sainz said the mayor wanted the city to focus on restoring its financial health instead of dealing with a social issue. He also argued that California voters already spoke on the matter, banning it in 2000 with the passage of Proposition 22. In San Diego, that ballot measure was approved by 62 percent of the voters.

Sanders' was a position that some members of the gay and lesbian community could live with.

"While I'm disappointed and wished he would have changed his mind in support, he is being consistent in what he has told our community," said Nicole Murray-Ramirez, the chairman of the city's Human Relations Commission and a prominent gay activist, in an interview before Sanders changed his mind.

Sanders is largely viewed in the gay and lesbian community as an ally. He's ridden in gay pride parades since serving as the city's police chief and is moderate on other social issues, such as supporting a clean-needle exchange program in San Diego.

Sanders undoubtedly felt the political tug to stick to his veto, as his stiffest competition will likely come from Steve Francis, his probable competitor in next year's mayor's race and a Republican who opposes same-sex marriage. Francis has forced Sanders to the right before, most notably in the 2005 campaign when Sanders matched Francis' pledge to not raise taxes to deal with the city's massive funding shortfalls.

Sanders said his feelings got the best of his political sense.

"I acknowledge that not all members of our community will agree or perhaps even understand my decision today," he said. "All I can offer them is that I am trying to do what I believe is right."

Sanders appeared overwhelmed during the speech. A spokesman estimated that it would take him about a minute and a half to read prepared remarks to the flock of reporters and cameras assembled in City Hall's press gallery. Instead, Sanders' speech lasted several minutes, as he frequently broke from reading to swig water, breathe deeply and brush away tears.

Critical to the speech was Sanders's revelation that his daughter, Lisa, was a lesbian -- a fact that Sanders said he knew about for three or four years but that had been largely shielded from the public eye.

But Sanders downplayed that as his overriding factor, instead saying that he had been a visible supporter of the gay and lesbian community for a decade and noting that he surrounded himself with several members of that constituency in his professional life.

Included in that list are his spokesmen Fred Sainz and George Biagi, fire Chief Tracy Jarman, and District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis, a close political ally.

Sanders' decision comes a day after the City Council heard three hours of testimony on the issue. Besides Atkins, council members Scott Peters, Donna Frye, Jim Madaffer and Ben Hueso voted for it. Councilmen Kevin Faulconer, Tony Young and Brian Maienschein voted against it.

Madaffer, another Republican who crossed the party's typically hard line against same-sex marriage, applauded the mayor.

"I commend the mayor for leading with his heart and making a decision on what he believes and not what politics dictate," he said in a statement.

City Attorney Mike Aguirre also applauded Sanders' change of heart, but said it showed the mayor was a better leader when he sided with instinct over politics.

"It really shows that when Jerry does what's in his heart, he's a good person. He really has the right instincts," Aguirre said. "When he personally gets involved, he makes the right decisions. When he listens to political advisers, he makes wrong decisions."


Property style....

From Stratfor:
Strategic Intelligence Inc.

The Global Evolution of Intellectual Property Rights
By Bart Mongoven

The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) will hold its annual meeting beginning Sept. 24, at which time representatives of its 184 member countries will likely endorse the so-called WIPO Development Agenda. WIPO rejected the ideas expressed in the Development Agenda just two years ago, but leading industrialized countries appear rather suddenly to have changed their positions. As a result, this agenda will reflect a fundamental change in how intellectual property rights (IPR) will be viewed globally in the coming decades.

For the past 40 years, the world's largest economies have enforced their position globally that intellectual property rights are sacrosanct. The 1994 World Trade Organization (WTO) agreement on Trade on Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) added some exclusions for emergencies, but in general WIPO and TRIPS rules have been reflexively protective of patents and copyrights.

In the past 10 years, however, this approach has come under increasing fire from governments in developing countries (including WIPO members), human rights and humanitarian groups, relief organizations and anti-capitalist groups. These entities argue that the system retards the economic growth of developing countries and even results in deaths because citizens cannot access medicines and other patented life-saving technologies. Most detractors of the current regime argue that the absolute protection of intellectual property rights is doing far more harm than good -- economically and socially -- and some of them are calling for a radical shift that would essentially do away with recognition of IPR entirely.

As production of goods becomes more and more efficient, especially with modern industrial processes reaching low-wage countries such as China, goods are becoming less expensive. Intellectual property, on the other hand, is coming to be seen as expensive. Whether in drugs, music, seeds or even designer handbags, the price gap between patented products and the raw cost of the materials -- that is, the price of the intellectual property -- is growing. With that growth, intellectual property rights are more frequently being abrogated. Any government tax authority will attest that the amount of cheating is directly related to the perception that the cost of a product is unfairly high.

Though change is afoot, the world is nowhere near doing away with intellectual property protection. Still, the tide has shifted the WIPO stance, as well as the outlook of a number of other players. Most important, the fairly absolute approach to intellectual property protection looks shaky. The coming regime will likely give corporations a rationale for protecting IPR in some cases, but not others. In doing so, it will force changes in a number of industries and business models.

IPR Fundamentals

The global intellectual property system was designed to ensure a creator's monopoly on the use and sale of his or her invention. The inventor could be a writer or musician producing copyrighted material, or a chemist inventing a new paint color. Patents have been extended (with some controversy) to processes and to living organisms that have been developed through biotechnology. In all of these cases, the current legal structure allows the inventor to benefit from the monopoly for a certain amount of time, after which the property falls into the public domain.

Many advocates of changes to these laws argue that ownership of an idea is an absurd concept in many cultures -- and that it therefore is unfair to strictly enforce IPR protections in those cultures. They also argue that it is unfair to demand that people from these countries jump through the necessary hoops, such as hiring a patent lawyer, to secure patents on their own inventions (something they consider to be knowledge rather than property) -- particularly when the system requires that they buy from a company that has patented their traditional knowledge. For instance, they oppose allowing a foreign multinational to patent a seed that has been cultivated by indigenous groups for decades. (The United Nations on Sept. 13 adopted a declaration on the rights of indigenous peoples that mentions indigenous control over intellectual property, while WIPO has a separate working group on indigenous issues.)

In industrialized countries, meanwhile, patent and copyright protections are generally uncontroversial, and the patent system is long-standing and thoroughly engrained. The entry of the U.S. Patent Office, for example, bears a quote from Abraham Lincoln, who said the creation of the U.S. patent system "added the fuel of interest to the fire of genius, in the discovery and production of new and useful things." Even the most ardent supporters of reform are not calling for an end to IPR protections, but rather for changes, such as expanding the extraordinary circumstances under which protections can be abrogated or further limiting the time the creator enjoys a monopoly.

In 1967, WIPO was formed to centralize the world's patent and copyright information. It operates a database of patents and awards internationally recognized patents to inventors. More than any other body, WIPO ensures an invention receives global patent protection the first time it is patented anywhere in the world. In addition, WIPO promotes adherence to IPR among its member countries, and thus has come to be seen as the global champion of intellectual property protection.

WIPO's hand was strengthened by the 1994 TRIPS regime. In agreeing to TRIPS, countries acknowledged that the protection of intellectual property rights is central to free trade, and each agreed to combat piracy and respect patent and copyright protection.

The Coming Revolution

Intellectual property protection has entered the public's mind through three very different spheres -- pharmaceuticals, expensive consumer products and media (especially music). City dwellers come into contact with intellectual property violations every time they pass a street vendor selling knockoff Prada, Gucci or Louis Vuitton products for $20 or pirated new-release DVDs for 75 cents or less. The designer bags look and feel very close to the "real" item, and the only thing their manufacturer failed to do was invent the style. The materials used in a Prada handbag cost a fraction of the bag's retail price.

Similarly, the music industry sells for around $16 a CD that is available for free on the Internet, yet the actual material in the CD and its packaging cost pennies. The rest of the cost is in intellectual property, marketing and distribution.

Though the music and movie industries and luxury brand name goods are besieged by IPR problems, their global importance pales in comparison to that of the pharmaceutical industry. At the center of the pharmaceutical industry's problem is compulsory licensing. Under the compulsory licensing clause in TRIPS, member countries can break a patent and manufacture a drug themselves in emergency situations, such as a malaria outbreak. Using this clause, however, some governments have actively encouraged the copying and selling of patented drugs without the payment of a royalty to the drug's inventor. As a result of increasing episodes of compulsory licensing, the pharmaceutical industry's core business model is under attack.

The current business model is fairly simple. Drug patents give the inventor a monopoly on the drug for a set number of years, during which time the maker charges a high price for the drug. Only a small percentage of new drugs that begin safety trials make it to market, so the high price allows the company to recoup not just the development and production costs of the drug, but also the development costs of all the failed drugs in the manufacturer's pipeline. The high prices also provide for salaries for managers and sales staff, for advertising and for enough profit to encourage shareholders to keep the company open.

Once the monopoly period is over, the drug's inventor loses the patent and anyone can make and market the drug. Companies that specialize in making drugs, but not inventing them -- the generics manufacturers -- step in and sell the drugs for a fraction of the name brand cost.

For the pharmaceutical business model to work, then, a drug must make a lot of money in seven years to satisfy the company's needs.

Pressure to Change

In the 1990s, the development of costly AIDS drugs initiated a chain of reactions that has led to changes in how IPR is viewed. These drugs severely stalled the outbreak of AIDS in patients who were HIV positive, and had an immediate impact on HIV mortality in the West. In part because they were expensive, however, they were slow to reach poorer countries, areas where AIDS happens to be more prevalent. As a result, countries began to demand access to free AIDS drugs. The pharmaceutical companies, however, hesitated. They had reasons beyond the IPR issue for not giving away AIDS drugs, but the fear of setting a precedent should they do so was a major concern. When it became clear that they could either give away AIDS drugs or face compulsory licensing, they chose to protect the integrity of IPR and began to sell the drugs at greatly reduced prices. Many read the drug companies' hesitation as insensitivity, which paved the way for a wide open discussion on where pharmaceutical companies' social responsibility begins and ends.

This conversation has altered the pharmaceutical companies' leverage in certain places, most visibly in two developing countries that have an increasingly large middle class but a large poor population as well: Thailand and India.

In Thailand, the government and the U.S.-based pharmaceutical lobby PhRMA have launched a public war of words. The Thai government says that, under the compulsory license clause of TRIPS, it should be allowed to break the patent on "essential" AIDS-related drugs and have its government-backed pharmaceutical agency produce generic versions of them. PhRMA said the compulsory licensing step was unwarranted because it already has been providing low-cost drugs to Thailand voluntarily. The most controversial case involved Abbot Laboratories, which ended up pulling its top AIDS and heart-related drugs from the Thai market after Bangkok, enacting a compulsory license law, began production on generic versions. Even the U.S. government became involved, adding Thailand to its list of countries that do not abide by the intellectual property rights of U.S. companies.

In India, Swiss-based Novartis lost a patent suit over what constituted a new or improved drug under Indian patent law. Novartis said that an update to its leukemia drug Gleevec (also called Glivec) regarding how the drug is absorbed into the body represented a major improvement of the drug and that the drug therefore should be subject to patent in India (earlier versions of the drug, which were not subject to patent in India, are now made generically in India). An Indian court in Chennai ruled against Novartis' claim that Indian patent law, which disallows patents to be placed on drugs on which only minor modifications have been made, did not comply with TRIPS requirements. The Indian court instead referred the issue back to the WTO -- a time-consuming and costly maneuver that Novartis sought to avoid by keeping the issue local. Nevertheless, drug-focused nongovernmental organizations, including Doctors without Borders, hailed the court's decision as a victory for essential drugs in the developing world. Novartis is trying to overturn the original patent refusal through other means, but the company's problems in India likely foreshadow growing battles in the developing world that could make it harder for major pharmaceuticals to obtain patents.

The Indian court decision and the activities of the Thai government show that the essential drugs argument is gaining traction, and that developing countries are becoming critical players in shaping how the pharmaceutical companies will conduct business in the future.

IPR Going Forward

The WIPO Development Initiative was born in 2005 with an eye toward addressing problems such as those raised by the patenting of drugs or living things. Most of the ideas expressed in the initiative were unobjectionable to IPR-dependent industrialized countries -- but some were very much objectionable. The plan, therefore, was twice scuttled by industrialized countries. Partly as a result of the recent spate of controversies surrounding pharmaceuticals, however, various industries dependent on IPR have come to see intellectual property in a different light.

WIPO's decision to give the new ideas a second look, then, reinforces a lesson the pharmaceutical companies learned in the AIDS-drug debate: maintaining the status quo will not work. The high cost of intellectual property is encouraging piracy and spurring resentment. The remaining question is how to find an intellectual property protection regime that will continue to add "the fuel of interest to the fire of genius," but remain flexible enough to restrain poorer countries from explicitly breaking it.

The corporations could have the answer, or at least part of it. The risk to a corporate brand from being seen as a bully or even a greedy killer is enormous. As the world increasingly demands that corporations be socially responsible, companies are under pressure to look at the social aspects of their businesses, including their patents. With this, they appear willing to endorse a WIPO initiative -- at least as a first step in exploring ways to protect IPR and avoid resentment.

The change that this portends is far more significant than the WIPO agenda suggests, however. The difficulty with IPR is that, for any system to work it must be absolute. Either an invention is property (and therefore patentable) or it is not. Once the ability to patent an invention becomes situational, the business models that depend on absolute protection of intellectual property rights are challenged.

This scenario could lead to dramatic changes in IPR-dependent industries, such as pharmaceuticals. Already the industry is finding ways to increase production in Asian countries, where costs are lower, and is developing the generic arms of their businesses so they can dominate the generics market once the drug is off patent. In the United States, the issue of universal health care coverage is gaining traction and insurance companies are successfully demanding that doctors prescribe cheaper generics rather than name brand drugs. Factor in the growing pressure from developing countries that have strengthening economies, and the playing field is ripe for change in how modern business deals with intellectual property rights on a global scale. The ideas behind the WIPO Development Agenda signal the changes to come.

© Copyright 2007 Strategic Forecasting, Inc. All rights reserved


From Repub filibusters to Guiliani's boast in UK....

From American Progress:

Think Fast...

Senate conservatives' successful effort to obstruct the Webb amendment yesterday mark the "the eighth time this year" that they "blocked a Democratic move to challenge U.S. policy in Iraq."

71.1 percent: The increase last month in the numbers of Iraqis forced to abandon their homes, "the sharpest rise so far."

Mary Matalin, a former Cheney aide, is working to pay the legal bills of her old co-worker, "Scooter" Libby, to whom the President granted clemency earlier this year. "Make no mistake, Scooter's battle is not yet over," Matalin wrote in a recent fundraising letter. He "still has hundreds of thousands of dollars in outstanding legal bills from his trial" that "need to be paid immediately."

White House officials say that, after the attorney general confirmation, the nomination of Steven G. Bradbury to head the Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) "is their next priority this fall, though they have nine major slots at a depleted Justice Department to fill." As acting OLC chief, Bradbury has been "advising President Bush on the extent of his terrorism-fighting powers," but several Democratic senators have placed secret holds on his official nomination.

An anonymous senator has placed a hold on the nomination of Rosa Emilia Rodriguez-Velez as U.S. attorney in Puerto Rico. Critics charge "she is leading a politically motivated investigation into Puerto Rico's Democratic governor" on possibly illegal campaign contributions he received in 2000.

Rep. Jerry Weller (R-IL), "dogged by ethics questions surrounding his Nicaraguan investments and his wife's finances, is set to announce his retirement in the near future, Republican sources said Wednesday."

Osama bin Laden will reportedly release a new message soon declaring war on Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf. A banner posted on a militant website previewed the release: "Urgent, Al Qaeda declares war on the tyrant Pervez Musharraf and his apostate army, in the words of Osama bin Laden."

And finally: Yesterday, Rudy Giuliani was "on the trans-Atlantic campaign trail...bragging about his international credentials. 'I'm probably one of the four or five best known Americans in the world,' Giuliani told a small group of reporters at a posh London hotel as onlookers gathered in the lobby to gawk at actor Dustin Hoffman, who was on a separate visit."


Conyers stands tall....

From Congressman Conyers:

I wanted to take the opportunity to update you on the status of the contempt of Congress resolution in the House of Representatives.

As you may know, the Judiciary Committee passed a resolution before the August recess holding the White House and Harriet Miers in contempt of Congress for their failure to provide documents and appear before the committee as legally required by subpoena.

The information we have received to date from the Justice Department from our U.S. Attorneys investigation indicates the White House played a central role in the firing of the nine federal prosecutors. Yet, the White House has stonewalled and consistently refused to cooperate with inquiries into this matter.

At the heart of our investigation is the evidence uncovered suggesting that the nine U.S. Attorneys were fired for politically-motivated reasons, while others may have been retained because they were pursuing partisan investigations.

We have also discovered that job candidates' political contributions and affiliations were considered in hiring decisions for nonpartisan positions in the Department of Justice. Our job has been made more difficult by apparent misleading testimony from the Attorney General and other Department of Justice officials.

This politicization of our judicial system cannot be tolerated. Our citizens have a right to expect that federal prosecutions will be conducted in a fair and nonpartisan manner.

There are many steps we can take in this confrontation with the White House. Some are more extreme than others. What we must first do is get the facts that show who made these decisions in the White House. Only once we have this evidence can we adequately pursue justice.

What is now required is for the House to pass these contempt of Congress citations and pursue legal action against the White House and Harriet Miers for their failure to meet the requirements of the subpoenas. Hopefully this contempt of Congress resolution will soon have a vote on the floor of the House. I am not prepared to allow this administration to operate above the law.

Thank you for your continued support for a better democracy.

Your Friend,

John Conyers, Jr.


Wednesday, September 19, 2007 help at all....

From David Sirota:

"Moderation" = Extremist Refusal to End the War
By David Sirota
Working Assets, 9/19/07

Roll Call's headline today blares "House Centrists Seek a Little
Moderation on Iraq." The story is about "a small band of moderate
House Democrats and Republicans is hammering out a bipartisan
position on the Iraq War."

This story has been written over and over and over again on every
single issue. It is as if reporters have a template set up in
Microsoft Word, where they just fire up the story and change the
names and issues. You know how it goes. It starts out with a
declaration that the Brave And Serious "Moderates" are going to "put
partisanship aside" and rescue America. Typically, the plan to rescue
America is at best a non-binding gesture, and more likely one that
runs roughshod over what most Americans actually want - but that kind
of context isn't reported in the template.

Yet in this particular Roll Call story it actually is (although
perhaps inadvertently).

The article first informs us that the Brave And Serious Heroes "have
drafted a letter backing a series of proposals" - the diversionary
haze of paperwork about paperwork (letters about proposals??) being
one of Washington's tell-tale signs that this is much ado about
nothing. This paperwork suggests that the Brave And Serious Heroes
may be willing to support non-binding legislation "aimed at shifting
the Iraq mission." And then comes the giveaway:

"'None of this leads to the end of the war,' Rep. Mike Castle (R-DE)
said, but it would mark a departure from the polarized debate over
whether and when to withdraw troops."

The story goes on to trumpet the Brave And Serious Heroes who are
part of a bipartisan Washington dinner party circuit called the
"Center Aisle Caucus" spearheaded by New York Democratic Rep. Steve
Israel (D) - but the punchline has already been delivered.

As we can see so clearly here, the term "moderate" in Washington when
it comes to the war means guaranteeing that whatever bill takes center
stage in the war debate - well, that "none of this leads to the end of
the war." It means making sure that we "depart from the polarized
debate over whether and when to withdraw troops" - you know, the
debate over the actual issue, the debate that the latest Gallup Poll
shows almost two-thirds of America wants Congress to have - and want
Congress to conclude by passing binding timetables to end the war.

As I have written before, when you look at actual public opinion
data, you see that the terms "moderate" and "centrist" in Washington
are wholly and completely divorced from the terms "moderate" and
"centrist" out in the rest of the country. The term "moderate" may be
defined in the dictionary as "avoidance of extremes or excesses" but
in D.C. it means the opposite - embrace of extremes or excesses, in
grinning defiance of what the public wants.

And that's what it is. When it comes to the war, the so-called
"moderates" have taken on the qualities of the smiling Darth
Vader-ish poster boy for extremism - Dick Cheney. Remember, it was
our Vice President who told ABC News last year the Iraq War "may not
be popular with the public - it doesn't matter." I guess he's a
"moderate" now too.


If FBI uses confidential sources, then....

From Secrecy News:


Late last year the Attorney General approved revised guidelines for the
use of confidential informants by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

The guidelines require that confidential human sources be subjected to
a new validation process to help ensure that their information is

The guidelines also generally require that the FBI and prosecutors
inform responsible law enforcement authorities if they discover that an
FBI source is engaged in "unauthorized criminal activity."

"The FBI does not have any authority to make any promise or commitment
that would prevent the government from prosecuting a Confidential Human
Source for criminal activity that is not authorized....."

See "Attorney General Guidelines Regarding the Use of FBI Confidential
Human Sources," approved December 13, 2006:

The Guidelines were included in voluminous FBI answers to questions for
the record of a recently published Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on
"FBI Oversight," December 6, 2006 (14 MB PDF file):

[Use links above to continue reading]


A choice selection of books...

From Publishers Lunch Weekly:


Sleeper Cell and The Bionic Woman screenwriter and debut novelist Kamran Pasha's SHADOW OF THE SWORDS, a love story set amidst the showdown between Saladin and Richard the Lionheart during the Crusades, and MOTHER OF THE BELIEVERS, the birth of Islam from the eyes of Muhammad's wife Aisha, a politician and warrior, to Suzanne O'Neill at Atria, by Rebecca Oliver at Endeavor (World English). Foreign:


Actress Amber Benson's DEATH'S DAUGHTER, the story of a young woman trying to make it as a young urban professional in NYC who slowly comes to realize that her father is actually the Grim Reaper and that she must rescue him after he's kidnapped by unknown forces in order to save her entire family (not to mention the world), to Ginjer Buchanan at Penguin, in a very nice deal, in a three-book deal, by Brendan Deneen at Objective Entertainment.


James Frey's BRIGHT SHINY MORNING, to Jonathan Burnham at Harper, with Tim Duggan editing, for publication in summer 2008, by Eric Simonoff at Janklow & Nesbit (NA).

Author most recently of The Judas Field, Howard Bahr's first non-Civil War novel PELICAN ROAD, about an isolated stretch of railroad between Meridian (MS) and New Orleans and the men who risk their lives to keep the trains running, to Dave Adams at MacAdam/Cage, for publication in spring 2008, by Wendy Sherman at Wendy Sherman Associates.


DRESDEN and THE BERLIN WALL author Frederick Taylor's EXORCIZING HITLER, a new understanding of the cataclysmic end of WWII in Germany and its aftermath, marked by suffering, chaos, and Cold War politics, but ultimately the rebuilding of Germany as a democratic nation, to Bill Swainson at Bloomsbury, Peter Ginna at Bloomsbury and Ludger Ikas at Berlin Verlag, by Jane Turnbull in London and Dan Conaway at Writers House.

Richard Schickel and George Perry's YOU MUST REMEMBER THIS: THE WARNER BROTHERS STORY, a fully authorized history of the studio to be published in Fall 2008, in connection with its 85th anniversary and a TV documentary series, to Cindy De La Hoz at Running Press, for publication in fall 2008, by Peter Garlid at LibriSource, on behalf of Palazzo Editions UK (World English).

Former Rwandan Parliament Speaker Joseph Sebarenzi with Laura Mullane's GOD SLEEPS IN RWANDA: A Story of Survival and Reconciliation, the author's personal and political story of growing up Tutsi and surviving the massacre of his entire family in the 1994 Rwanda genocide, to Malaika Adero at Atria, in a very nice deal, for publication in Spring 2009, by Faith Hamlin at Sanford J. Greenburger Associates (NA).

Former US Senator from Rhode Island Lincoln Chafee's STANDING DOWN, a rare first-hand account of the feverish lead-up to and eventual fall-out from an ill-conceived war, seen from the halls of power of the United States Senate, to Thomas Dunne at Thomas Dunne Books, by John Silbersack at Trident Media Group (NA).

Oscar-winning actress Helen Mirren's IN THE FRAME: My Life In Words and Pictures, an illustrated memoir covering her childhood, her early life as an actress, and her recent successes in theater, film, and television, to Peter Borland at Atria, for publication in February 2008, by Susan Howe at Orion (US).


Peter Terzian, ed.'s JUST FOR THE RECORD: WRITERS ON THE ALBUMS THAT CHANGED THEIR LIVES, featuring such writers as Pankaj Mishra, Geoff Dyer, Daniel Handler, Ben Kunkel, Colm Toibin, and Stacey D'Erasmo, to Rakesh Satyal at Harper Perennial, in a pre-empt, by Anna Stein at the Irene Skolnick Agency (NA).


From no Repub support to Blitzer disses Ellen...

From American Progress:

Think Fast...

"Unable to garner enough Republican support, Senate Democratic leaders said yesterday that they are abandoning a bipartisan effort to bring U.S. troops home from Iraq by next spring." Instead, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) is expected to push for a firm deadline, this time June 2008. "It's all definite timelines," Reid said.

Sen. John Warner (R-VA) suggested yesterday that he may pull his support for Sen. Jim Webb's (D-VA) measure to give the overstretched armed forces more rest. Warner voted for the measure last July, but he now claims to be appeased by the administration's token withdrawal. Call your Senators and demand their support for Webb's pro-troop amendment.

29: President Bush's approval rating in the latest Reuters/Zogby poll released on Wednesday, which is "below his worst Zogby poll mark of 30 percent in March."

"A preliminary Iraqi report on a shooting involving" private security firm Blackwater USA says the company's employees "were not ambushed, as the company reported, but instead fired at a car when it did not heed a policeman's call to stop, killing a couple and their infant." The Iraqi Interior Ministry says it has revoked Blackwater's license over the incident.

The U.S. military has introduced "religious enlightenment" programs for Iraqi detainees. The commander of U.S. detention facilities said the effort is intended to "bend them back to our will." It is also an effort to identify "irreconcilables" and "put them away" in permanent detention facilities.

Iraq is the "bank robbery capital of the world," holding the record for the "first and second highest amounts taken in the history of bank robberies."

And finally: Ellen DeGeneres "has been trying in vain to get CNN's Wolf Blitzer on her show, even calling his studio during his broadcast." On Monday, Blitzer said on The Situation Room, "Of course I'll be on your show, and I'd love you to come on my show as well." But that wasn't enough. So yesterday, DeGeneres had MSNBC host Chris Matthews call in to her show, while the screen read, "Ellen's on the phone with Chris Matthews because Wolf Blitzer wouldn't take her call."