Recent Entries in Politics

A government official suggested Wednesday that three people who arrived at President Bush's town hall meeting here last week were removed by a Republican operative they mistook for a Secret Service agent.

"It was somebody from the host committee," Secret Service spokesman Tom Mazur said. A spokeswoman for the Colorado GOP said the Colorado Republican Party was not involved. White House spokesman Allen Abney said it was a volunteer, not a paid White House staffer, who removed the three people.

The man's name was not released.

Gazette.com

The former top U.S. military chief in Iraq authorized the use of illegal techniques during interrogations, the American Civil Liberties Union said yesterday.

In a memorandum, Lieutenant-General Ricardo Sanchez authorized 29 methods of interrogation, including 12 that "far exceeded" U.S. military regulations as well as the Geneva Conventions covering prisoners of war, the ACLU said.

The Globe and Mail: Top soldier in Iraq okayed illegal methods, ACLU says

  'One huge US jail'

Afghanistan is the hub of a global network of detention centres, the frontline in America's 'war on terror', where arrest can be random and allegations of torture commonplace. Adrian Levy and Cathy Scott-Clark investigate on the ground and talk to former prisoners...

Washington likes to hold up Afghanistan as an exemplar of how a rogue regime can be replaced by democracy. Meanwhile, human-rights activists and Afghan politicians have accused the US military of placing Afghanistan at the hub of a global system of detention centres where prisoners are held incommunicado and allegedly subjected to torture. The secrecy surrounding them prevents any real independent investigation of the allegations. "The detention system in Afghanistan exists entirely outside international norms, but it is only part of a far larger and more sinister jail network that we are only now beginning to understand," Michael Posner, director of the US legal watchdog Human Rights First, told us.

Guardian Unlimited | The Guardian | 'One huge US jail'

Using information provided by the military and documents obtained by the American Civil Liberties Union, The Associated Press compiled a partial list of people who have died while in U.S. custody in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Prisoner Deaths in U.S. Custody

President Hugo Chavez has recently accused President Bush of plotting to assassinate him, made suggestive comments about Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, visited Fidel Castro in Cuba, bashed the United States on the al-Jazeera television network and traveled to Libya to receive an award from Moammar Gaddafi.

Such bluster and anti-American showmanship are nothing new from the fiery former paratrooper. But concern in Washington has been rising as Chavez has worked feverishly in recent months to match his words with deeds.

MSNBC - Chavez casts himself as the anti-Bush

A few weeks ago former Attorney General Richard Thornburgh and Louis Boccardi, former head of the Associated Press, released their report on Dan Rather’s use of allegedly forged Texas Air National Guard (ANG) documents covering President George W. Bush’s military service. The report, as is well known, excoriated CBS for the use of these documents on its 60 Minutes Wednesday program on September 8, 2004. It is, however, a flawed report. It should not be uncritically accepted, as it has been by the press and by television commentators.

The report concluded that CBS failed to hire appropriate experts to clearly verify its statements and did not establish a “chain of custody” for the documents. CBS, according to the report, rushed to judgment on the basis of inadequate evidence, did not promptly acknowledge flaws in its program, and broadcast a false and misleading report.

James Goodale: Dan Rather

US marijuana policies, which rely primarily on criminal penalties and law enforcement, are wholly ineffective at controlling the use and sale of marijuana, concludes a comprehensive report issued today by the NORML Foundation. The report, entitled "Crimes of Indiscretion: Marijuana Arrests in the United States," includes a detailed examination of the fiscal costs associated with the enforcement of marijuana laws at the state and county level, as well as a complete demographic analysis of which Americans are most likely to be arrested for violating marijuana laws.

NORML Home / News Archive / 2005 / NORML Releases Most Comprehensive Analysis Of US Marijuana Arrest Data To Date

Egypt has rebuffed President George W Bush's claim that democracy is fast gaining ground in the Middle East.

Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit said the US is wrong to assume recent events vindicate its policies in the region.

"What model are we talking about in Iraq? Bombs are exploding everywhere and Iraqis are killed everyday," he said in a Washington Post interview.

BBC NEWS | Middle East | Egypt scorns US 'democracy' claim

Abdul Qadeer Khan, the disgraced scientist dubbed the father of Pakistan's atomic bomb, provided Iran with centrifuges that can be used to purify uranium for nuclear weapons, the Pakistani government said on Thursday.

Pakistan has admitted in the past that Khan smuggled nuclear secrets to North Korea, Iran and Libya, but has not given specifics as to what he supplied.

"He has given centrifuges to Iran, but the government was in no way involved in this," Pakistani Information Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed told Reuters.

Top News Article | Reuters.com

Israel has closed the case against soldiers accused of gunning down a British cameraman in the Gaza Strip, drawing charges of a cover-up from his relatives, who vowed to sue the army.

James Miller was killed on May 3, 2003 in the flashpoint refugee camp Rafah while making a documentary, "Death in Gaza", about Palestinian children caught up in fighting with Israel.

Witnesses said Israeli soldiers shot him at close range, although he wore journalist insignia and waved a white flag.

Israel rejects charges in journalist killing - Yahoo! UK & Ireland News

The deadly shooting of an Italian intelligence officer by U.S. troops at a checkpoint near Baghdad on Friday was one of many incidents in which civilians have been killed by mistake at checkpoints in Iraq, including local police officers, women and children, according to military records, U.S. officials and human rights groups.

U.S. soldiers have fired on the occupants of many cars approaching their positions over the past year and a half, only to discover that the people they killed were not suicide bombers or attackers but Iraqi civilians. They did so while operating under rules of engagement that the military has classified and under a legal doctrine that grants U.S. troops immunity from civil liability for misjudgment.

Shootings by U.S. at Iraq Checkpoints Questioned (washingtonpost.com)

The Italian reporter wounded when American troops opened fire on the car carrying her and Italian secret service officers to the Baghdad airport just hours after her release from kidnappers rejected today the United States' version of the incident and refused to rule out that she was intentionally targeted.

"The fact that the Americans don't want negotiations to free the hostages is known," Ms. Sgrena said in a telephone interview with Sky TG24 television. "The fact that they do everything to prevent the adoption of this practice to save the lives of people held hostages, everybody knows that. So I don't see why I should rule out that I could have been the target."

The New York Times > International > Europe > Italian Journalist Shot in Iraq Rejects U.S. Account

China's Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing has warned Japan and the United States against interfering in internal matters, especially when it comes to Taiwan.

"Any practice of putting Taiwan directly or indirectly into the scope of Japan-U.S. security cooperation constitutes an encroachment on China's sovereignty and interference in internal affairs," Reuters quoted Li as telling a news conference on Sunday.

CNN.com - China: U.S., Japan stay out - Mar 6, 2005

A divided U.S. Supreme Court outlawed executions of murderers who were under 18 at the time of the crime, saying the practice violates the constitutional ban on cruel and unusual punishment.

The court today voted 5-4 to overturn a 1989 decision that had allowed executions of 16- and 17-year-old killers. The ruling, which came in a Missouri case, moves more than 70 convicted killers off death row and bars a penalty that had been legal in 19 states.

Bloomberg.com: U.S.

Russia and Iran signed a nuclear fuel supply deal long opposed by Washington on Sunday which will pave the way for the Islamic state to start up its first atomic power plant next year, state media reported.

The agreement, signed by the two countries' nuclear energy chiefs at the Bushehr atomic reactor in southern Iran, came as Tehran faced heightened pressure from the United States, which accuses it of secretly developing nuclear weapons.

International News Article | Reuters.com

On Wednesday, the US President George W. Bush made a stopover in the German city of Mainz, but surprisingly faced hundreds of protestors on the streets, signaling of still hostile attitude towards the US's invasion to Iraq. Today he meets Russian President Vladimir Putin in Bratislava.

Mr. Bush remained optimistic. He said his seven-hour stopover was rather fruitful as he managed to repair relations with Germany, cracked by the German refusal to join the US troops in Iraq.

Mr. Bush did not contact the rally.

The German officials say that the ice in German-American relations is melting, although not all differences have been solved. "Both sides obviously want to symbolize, by language, by rhetoric and by body language that German-American relations are good. When politicians do that, it's more than symbolic, it's also substance, because it gives a signal to public opinion that this is the way they want it to be in the future," said Karsten Voigt, a senior German Foreign Ministry official.

Germans hostile towards Bush, what would Russians say? - FinanceGates.com

The Bush family friend and author who surreptitiously taped nine hours of conversations with George W. Bush insisted yesterday that he hadn't released their contents simply to promote his new book on the U.S. President.

"I didn't do it for the money," Doug Wead said yesterday. "I could sell the tapes, even now, for tremendous amounts of money."

In fact, Mr. Wead said he regrets having made public the tapes, in which Mr. Bush appears to admit using marijuana and talks about how he intends to skate around questions on possible cocaine use.

The Globe and Mail: Bush friend regrets releasing secret tapes

Russian President Vladimir Putin said Friday that Moscow will continue its nuclear cooperation with Iran and that he is convinced Tehran does not intend to develop atomic weapons.

Iran's nuclear program is likely to be one of the top issues when Putin and President Bush meet Thursday in Slovakia.

Moscow has helped Iran build a nuclear reactor, a project that has been heavily criticized by the United States, which fears it could be used to help Tehran develop atomic weapons.

ABC News: Russia to Cooperate on Iran Nuke Program

A British nuclear-reprocessing plant cannot account for nearly 30 kilograms of plutonium, but authorities believe it is an accounting issue rather than a loss of potential bomb-making material, the United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority said Thursday.

The amount of material listed as missing at the Sellafield plant in northwestern England was "within international standards of expected measurement accuracies for closing a nuclear material balance at the type of facility concerned," the authority said.

The Globe and Mail: British plant missing 30 kilograms of plutonium

Iran and Syria directly confronted the Bush administration Wednesday by declaring they will form a "united front" to confront possible threats against them by the United States. The move was announced after a meeting in Tehran between the Vice President of Iran and the Syrian prime minister. We speak with former Iranian diplomat Mansour Farhang.

The announcement came on the same day that Iran accused the United States of using satellites "and other tools" to spy on its nuclear sites and threatened to shoot down any American surveillance craft.

The potential for conflict was further heightened just hours later when an explosion near a nuclear facility in southern Iran was initially reported as a missile strike. The news caused a surge in oil prices and rattled financial markets. It later emerged the explosion was caused during the construction of a dam.

Democracy Now! | Iran in the Crosshairs?: As U.S. Increases Threats, Iran Vows to Form "United Front" With Syria

A mysterious explosion on Wednesday shook a remote Iranian province where a nuclear power plant has recently been built, wire services reported.

Iranian state television described a plane flying over the area immediately before the explosion, which occurred near the southern port city of Dailam.

The Globe and Mail: Blast reported near Iranian nuclear plant

Comedian and radio host Al Franken has ruled out a run for the U.S. Senate in 2006, but says 2008 is a different story.

Franken, known for aggressively mocking right-wing politicians and media personalities, told his listeners on Thursday that he would not be a candidate for the open Senate seat in Minnesota.

"Minnesotans are very serious about their politics and it would be silly. I don't live there," he said.

CBC Arts: Al Franken rules out Senate bid - for now


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