Recent Entries in Politics

Check out this map for a detailed placement of the bomb blasts in London. As of right now, the blasts this morning have claimed the lives of at least 37 people and injured some 700 others.


The above link found courtesy of GoogleMapsMania.

Google Maps Mania: London bomb blasts on Google Maps

Interestingly, the part that describes US troops killing an Iraqi Television News Director is buried in the body of this article. It's weird that 3 journalists killed by the US military within the span of 7 days doesn't make headlines in this Texas newspaper, despite Reporters Without Borders calling for an inquiry.

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A suicide car bomber killed an influential Shiite member of parliament and his son as they drove to the capital Tuesday, an attack likely to stoke ethnic tensions on the first anniversary of the transfer of sovereignty to the Iraqis.

The attack that killed Dhari Ali al-Fayadh, his son and two bodyguards was one of several around the country carried out by suicide bombers. Other attacks killed one U.S. soldier in Balad, 50 miles north of Baghdad, and one in Tikrit. Two soldiers were wounded. At least 1,743 members of the U.S. military have died since the war began in 2003, according to an Associated Press count.

The attacks came as more than 1,000 U.S. troops and Iraqi forces launched ''Operation Sword'' in a bid to crush insurgents and foreign fighters in western Iraq -- the third major offensive in the area in recent weeks.

US occupation troops killed an Iraqi television director, Tuesday, June 29, 2005, when he drove near a US convoy, colleagues and a hospital official said. The US military said it had no reports of the incident. Ahmad Wail Bakri, a programme director for Al-Sharqiya television, was reportedly trying to pass a traffic accident in the Sayyidiyya district on Tuesday when troops opened fire at his car. The French watchdog organization Reporters Without Borders called for an inquiry. Bakri was the third Iraqi journalist killed in similar incidents in the past week. - World in Picture

Standing before a crowd of uniformed soldiers, President Bush addressed the nation on June 27 to reaffirm America's commitment to the global war on terrorism. But throughout the speech Bush continually stated his opinions and conclusions as though they were facts, and he offered little specific evidence to support his assertions.

Here we provide some additional context, both facts that support Bush's case that "we have made significant progress" in Iraq, as well as some of the negative evidence he omitted.

Bush's Iraq Speech: Long On Assertion, Short On Facts

Iraq's U.N. ambassador Friday accused U.S. Marines of killing his 21-year-old cousin "in cold blood" during a June 25 raid in a village in the Sunni Muslim-dominated province of Anbar.

Samir S.M. Sumaidaie called on the United States to investigate the death of Mohammed Sumaidaie in "a credible and fair way to ensure that justice is done." He said the killing represents a "betrayal" of Iraqi and U.S. efforts to rebuild Iraq on a foundation of "freedom, democracy and respect for human rights and the rule of law."

Iraqi Seeks Probe of Killing

Driven in part by fears of terrorism, government secrecy in the United States has reached a historic high by several measures. Federal departments now classify documents at the rate of 125 a minute as they create new categories of semisecrets bearing vague labels like "sensitive security information."

A record 15.6 million documents were classified last year, nearly double the number in 2001, according to the federal Information Security Oversight Office. Meanwhile, the declassification process, which made millions of historical documents available annually in the 1990s, has slowed to a relative crawl, from a high of 204 million pages in 1997 to just 28 million pages last year.

The increasing secrecy - and its rising cost to taxpayers, estimated by the office at $7.2 billion last year - is drawing protests from a growing array of politicians and activists, including Republican members of Congress, leaders of the independent commission that studied the Sept. 11 attacks and even the top federal official who oversees classification.

Official secrecy reaches historic high in the U.S. - Americas - International Herald Tribune

Most American media have focused on the allegations from the Downing Street memo that the Bush administration was going to "fix" the intelligence in order to justify the war against Iraq. Now the reporter who broke the original story says they have missed a more substantial allegation to arise from the same set of leaked documents.

Michael Smith, defense writer for the Sunday Times of London wrote this past Sunday that "The American general who commanded allied air forces during the Iraq war appears to have admitted in a briefing to American and British officers that coalition aircraft waged a secret air war against Iraq from the middle of 2002, nine months before the invasion began." (This bombing capaign is referred to in the Downing Street memo.)

Secret air campaign against Iraq? |

It's been a busy week...

Spain OKs Gay Marriage, Defying Opponents - Yahoo! News

Parliament legalized gay marriage Thursday, defying conservatives and clergy who opposed making traditionally Roman Catholic Spain the third country to allow same-sex unions nationwide. Jubilant gay activists blew kisses to lawmakers after the vote.

The measure passed the 350-seat Congress of Deputies by a vote of 187-147. The bill, part of the ruling Socialists' aggressive agenda for social reform, also lets gay couples adopt children and inherit each others' property.

Tonight at Fort Bragg, in front of a backdrop of American service members, President Bush will tell the nation that victory is at hand, as long as we stay the course. Add a banner praising a job well-done and an aircraft carrier, and this all begins to seem eerily familiar.

But the men and women of the American military have had enough of what's familiar from this administration. For us there is no alternative but to serve when called, as we have in Iraq for the past two years.

Mr. President, this is a time for hard truths, and now that the opinion polls on the war have started to turn, you are going to Fort Bragg to make your case. Will it continue to be one version of progress from our Commander in Chief, but a very different measure from our commanders in the field? Why does your view of Iraq look so different from ours?

Troops Respond to President's Speech

Northern European countries were the first to recognise same-sex unions - a trend that picked up in the 1990s and eventually crossed the Atlantic.

It became a polarising issue in the 2004 US elections, with voters in many states banning the practice.

We look at where same-sex unions have been given the go-ahead, and the often intense debates over them.

BBC NEWS | Americas | Gay marriage around the globe

The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled against the display of the Ten Commandments inside county courtrooms, but said it can be displayed on government land.

In a 5-4 ruling, the judges said the posting of framed copies of the commandments in two Kentucky county courthouses violated the doctrine of separation of church and state.

However, the judges also ruled 5-4 that monument of the Ten Commandments on the grounds of the Texas capital was a legitimate tribute to the nation's legal and religious history. | U.S. Supreme Court split on Ten Commandments

  Stations Of The Cross

Very scary.

CJR May/June 2005: Stations of the Cross

Evangelical news looks and sounds much like its secular counterpart, but it homes in on issues of concern to believers and filters events through a conservative lens. In some cases this simply means giving greater weight to the conservative side of the ledger than most media do. In other instances, it amounts to disguising a partisan agenda as news. Likewise, most guests on Christian political talk shows are drawn from a fixed pool of culture warriors and Republican politicians. Even those shows that focus on non-political topics �€” such as finance, health, or family issues �€” often weave in political messages. Many evangelical programs and networks are, in fact, linked to conservative Christian political or legal organizations, which use broadcasts to help generate funding and mobilize their base supporters, who are tuning in en masse. Ninety-six percent of evangelicals consume some form of Christian media each month, according to the Barna Research Group.

Given their content and their reach, it�€™s likely that Christian broadcasters have helped drive phenomena that have recently confounded much of the public and the mainstream media �€” including the surge in �€œvalue voters�€� and the drive to sustain Terri Schiavo�€™s life, a story that was incubated in evangelical media three years before it hit the mainstream. Nor has evangelical media�€™s influence escaped the notice of those who stroll the halls of power. They�€™ve been courted by the likes of Rupert Murdoch, Mel Gibson, and George W. Bush. All the while, they�€™ve remained hidden in plain sight �€” a powerful but largely unnoticed force shaping American politics and culture.

Americans, along with the rest of the world, are starting to wake up to the uncomfortable fact that President George Bush not only lied to them about the weapons of mass destruction in Iraq (the ostensible excuse for the March 2003 invasion and occupation of that country by US forces), but also about the very process that led to war.

On 16 October 2002, President Bush told the American people that "I have not ordered the use of force. I hope that the use of force will not become necessary."

We know now that this statement was itself a lie, that the president, by late August 2002, had, in fact, signed off on the 'execute' orders authorising the US military to begin active military operations inside Iraq, and that these orders were being implemented as early as September 2002, when the US Air Force, assisted by the British Royal Air Force, began expanding its bombardment of targets inside and outside the so-called no-fly zone in Iraq.

These operations were designed to degrade Iraqi air defence and command and control capabilities. They also paved the way for the insertion of US Special Operations units, who were conducting strategic reconnaissance, and later direct action, operations against specific targets inside Iraq, prior to the 19 March 2003 commencement of hostilities.

President Bush had signed a covert finding in late spring 2002, which authorised the CIA and US Special Operations forces to dispatch clandestine units into Iraq for the purpose of removing Saddam Hussein from power.

The fact is that the Iraq war had begun by the beginning of summer 2002, if not earlier.

Aljazeera.Net - The US war with Iran has already begun

An Air Force panel sent to investigate the religious climate at the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs found evidence that officers and faculty members periodically used their positions to promote their Christian beliefs and failed to accommodate the religious needs of non-Christian cadets, its leader said Wednesday.

But the panel said it found no "overt religious discrimination" - only "insensitivity" - and praised the academy leadership for working aggressively to confront religious problems in the last two years.

Lt. Gen. Roger A. Brady of the Air Force, who led the 16- member group, said in a news conference at the Pentagon that the academy and the Air Force as a whole were struggling to define the boundary between acceptable and unacceptable religious expression in a government institution, a reflection, he said, of a debate under way across the country.

"We believe that people were doing things that I think were inappropriate," General Brady said. "They had the best intentions toward the cadets. I think in some cases they were wrong."

Air Force Academy Staff Found Promoting Religion - New York Times

A constitutional amendment that would allow Congress to ban flag burning passed the House yesterday, and congressional leaders said it has a strong chance to clear the Senate for the first time, sending it to the states for ratification.

The House has passed the measure four times before, but it has always fallen short of the two-thirds vote needed in the Senate. But several changes in the Senate shifted several votes to the bill's supporters, and a lobbyist who leads the opposition said the absence of one or two senators could mean that the measure would pass.

House Passes Constitutional Amendment to Ban Flag Burning

Iraqi lawmakers from across the political spectrum called for the withdrawal of foreign forces from their country in a letter released to the media on Sunday.

The move comes as US President George W. Bush is under increasing domestic pressure to set a timetable for the pullout of American forces in the face of an increasing death toll at the hands of insurgents.

Eighty-two Shiite, Kurdish, Sunni Arab, Christian and communist deputies made the call in a letter sent by Falah Hassan Shanshal of the United Iraqi Alliance (UIA), the largest group in parliament, to speaker Hajem al-Hassani.

Some of those who signed urged that a detailed timetable be established for the withdrawal.

There are currently about 160,000 foreign troops in Iraq, including a 138,000-strong US force, which has borne the brunt of attacks against coalition forces.

Khaleej Times Online

There is no questioning public support for the troops in this river city, where yellow, curly ribbons pasted on the backs of motor vehicles are more common than street banners declaring allegiance to the beloved hometown Cardinals.

But 27 months into the Iraq war, public frustration and impatience have increased as the military death toll rises and an end to the conflict appears nowhere in sight. While the Vietnam-era peace movement never gained much footing in culturally conservative St. Louis, attitudes toward the Iraq war are shifting in subtle and sometimes contradictory ways.

The combination of rising casualties, revelations including the so-called Downing Street Memo and a growing perception that the mission has become murkier has caused one-time war supporters and even strong proponents of the troops to question the wisdom of the mission. Attitudes here mirror some of what is reflected in recent national polls, which show declining support for the war.

Chicago Tribune news : Nation/World

A British official's report that the Bush administration appeared intent on invading Iraq long before it acknowledged as much or sought Congress' approval -- and that it "fixed" intelligence to fit its intention -- has caused a stir in Britain.

But the potentially explosive revelation has proved something of a dud in the United States. The White House has denied the premise of the memo, the U.S. media have reacted slowly to it and the public generally seems indifferent to the issue or unwilling to rehash the bitter prewar debate over the reasons for the war.

All of which have contributed to something less than a robust discussion of a memo that would seem to bolster the strongest assertions of the war's critics.

The Seattle Times: Nation & World: "Downing St. Memo" fizzling in U.S.

Where responsibilities lie... George W Bush... Deanna Laney... God v Lucifer - Who's really to blame?

Before you condemn this article in a fit of righteous rampage, stick with it. There is a point, and I have picked a specific train of thought through a massive philosophical debate, but have you ever wondered who the really evil one is?

Is it God or is it the Devil? It's never occurred to me to even think about this before, until that strange phrase "God made me do it" stuck in my mind one day.

New Criminologist News: Where responsibilities lie... George W Bush... Deanna Laney... God v Lucifer - Who's really to blame?

In a slap at President Bush, lawmakers voted Wednesday to block the Justice Department and the FBI from using the Patriot Act to peek at library records and bookstore sales slips.

Despite a veto threat from President Bush, lawmakers voted 238-187 to block the part of the antiterrorism law that allows the government to investigate the reading habits of terror suspects.

The vote reversed a narrow loss last year by lawmakers complaining about threats to privacy rights. They narrowed the proposal this year to permit the government to continue to seek out records of internet use at libraries.

Wired News: House Votes to Limit Patriot Act

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