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The Chart Showing the National Debt above is still valid: "The debt to the penny," publicdebt.treas.gov.
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5.26.08 Hezbollah 'to back Iraq resistance'

May 26 - Hassan Nasrallah, 'the secretary-general of Hezbollah, has said that his organization "is siding with the resistance in Iraq" in a speech to hundreds of thousands of supporters in Beirut, the Lebanese capital. "The Iraqis, Shia and Sunni, who took part in the political process wanted to give it a chance," he said in his address on Monday. "But now that the real American goal in Iraq has been exposed the Iraqi government is put to a test." It is the first time Nasrallah has issued a challenge to the Iraqi government to take a stand against the US military presence in Iraq. [More>>aljazeera.net]

5.26.08 Fuel suppliers demand airlines pay cash in advance

May 26 - Airlines are being forced to pay cash in advance for jet fuel as the major oil companies tighten the screws on an industry that is being crushed by an extraordinary surge in the price of crude oil. Sources within the airline industry indicate that credit is being denied to most of the leading American carriers and the practice is moving to Europe and Asia. So uncertain is the cash solvency of the industry that jet fuel suppliers insist on prepayments into special bank accounts.

A credit controller at a leading European multinational oil company told The Times that the oil industry was moving to jet fuel prepayment. "It's common in the US and it is moving to Europe. We have been moving to prepayment since Swissair went bust." [More>>timesonline.co.uk]

5.26.08 Cracks in al-Qaeda's spirital leadership

May 26 - Major dissension is starting to emerge within al-Qaeda as the terror organization just turned 10. One example is the recent major dispute between Ayman al-Zawahiri, al-Qaeda's number two, and his ex-mentor, Sayyed Imam al-Sharif, a.k.a. "Dr. Fadl." Fadl, who is currently jailed in Egypt, wrote a book, published at the end of 2007, titled: "Revisions to Jihad in Egypt and the World." This book strongly attacks leaders of al-Qaeda. In it Bin Laden is called a "traitor" to Mullah Omar, the Taliban supreme leader; while Zawahiri is called "deceitful," and both are deemed responsible for the "loss" of Afghanistan after Sept. 11, 2001. It also calls for an end to any kind of armed struggle, deemed "unproductive" and "in violation of the Koran's laws," on Islamic land as well as in the Western world.

Zawahiri did not wait long to reply. To counter Fadl, he wrote a 358-page book, "Absolution." First Zawahiri tries to discredit Fadl by saying that the "Revisions" written from the bottom of an Egyptian jail, reflect "the will of the secret service of the Arab countries, but also from the CIA, [both] working day and night toward humiliating the mujahedin and deceiving the ummah [Muslim community]."

...Interestingly, Zawahiri questions the stopping, advocated by Fadl, of "martyrs" operations. Fadl gives the example of the terrorist attacks in Egypt and of 9/11 to denounce the killing "of Muslims, and of non-Muslim innocents." Zawahiri replies: "If you pretend that these operations are not legal, then it should be the same for operations in Palestine" noting that Sharif never challenged the actions of Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad.

...Assessing this dispute, Adel Bakawan, a researcher at the Ecole des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales (School for Advanced Studies in the Social Sciences) in Paris and an expert on the Islamist world in Iraq, calls it "a major rupture." He adds: "It is the first time we witness such an event. The founding generation of al-Qaeda – including Ayman al-Zawahiri – was formed in the school of thought of Dr. Fadl. The person who drew up the ideological foundation of international jihadism is the one who advocates its stopping. The jihadist world ends up ideologically divided."
[Full story>>metimes.com]

5.26.08 Iraq says 6 suspected teenage bombers detained

BAGHDAD (AP) May 26 - Six teenage boys who said they were being trained as suicide bombers were detained Monday in the northern city of Mosul, Iraqi officials said. Interior Ministry spokesman Maj. Gen. Abdul-Karim Khalaf told The Associated Press that the boys were between the ages of 14 and 16 and initial investigations show they were being trained by a Saudi militant who was killed in military operations.

The soldiers were acting on tips when they found the boys in the basement of an abandoned house that was being used by insurgent groups in the Sumar area in southeastern Mosul, deputy Interior Minister Kamal Ali Hussein said later at a press conference. He said the boys had been recruited over the last month to carry out suicide bombings against Iraqi security forces in Mosul, although the specific targets had not been revealed to them. The insurgents had threatened to kill the boys or their families if they refused to obey, Kamal said, adding that the group included the son of a female physician, the son of a college professor and four who belonged to families of poor vendors. [More>>indianexpress.com: hosted.ap.org]

5.26.08 Mars lander proudly takes self-portrait

May 26 - Stunning photos sent back from Mars show the Phoenix lander sitting pretty on the icy northern plain and the spacecraft with its solar arrays deployed. The spacecraft now morphs into a science lab, deploying all its instruments, including a camera and a mini backhoe. It will dig in the dirt at the landing site to find out whether the cold, forbidding surface of Mars could once have been warm enough for microbial life to exist on the planet.

It has been 32 years since NASA last landed a powered spacecraft on Mars. The Phoenix lander broke the jinx when it made a textbook landing late Sunday night on Mars' polar horizon. The cheers that broke out in the control room at NASA's Jet Propulsion Lab were contagious. [More>>abcnews.go.com; See photo gallery http://abcnews.go.com/Technology/popup?id=3441625; other details, mars.jpl.nasa.gov.]

5.25.08 DRC politician held for war crimes

May 25 - Jean-Pierre Bemba, a former vice-president of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), has been arrested in Belgium on a warrant for war crimes committed in the Central African Republic. The International Criminal Court (ICC) said on Saturday that it holds him responsible for four counts of war crimes and two counts of crimes against humanity. A statement on the ICC website said the alleged crimes took place "on the territory of the Central African Republic from 25 October 2002 to 15 March 2003." Bemba, whose lost a disputed 2006 election to Joseph Kabila, the DRC president, fled into exile last year saying he feared for his life. The charges against him specifically point to a campaign of killings and mass rapes of civilians allegedly carried out by his forces. [More>>aljazeera.net; See general article, on war crimes: Maravot News, May 23, 2008, "Ex-Bush adviser Rove must testify in case that could shame White House."]

5.25.08 Slick investors strike riches as they cash in on peak oil

May 25 - Hedge funds are riding high on record oil prices — and now retail investors are joining them. Louise Armitstead reports. Retail investors have joined a raft of hedge funds and pension funds in making millions of pounds by cashing in on the oil crisis. Thousands of individual investors have piled into oil futures and have made as much as 200 per cent returns as the oil price soared to record highs in recent weeks.

Last week oil prices jumped 7 per cent, breaking three records and touching $135 a barrel on Thursday on new fears that supply is outstripping demand. Clive Cooke, chief executive of City Index, the financial spread betting firm, said: "We've seen a big switch into oil — it is now by far the biggest trade at the moment." One trader said: "The price has doubled in a year. With leverage on top this has equated to huge returns and it's been a one-way bet all the way."
[More>>telegraph.co.uk ; See related story,

washingtonpost.com, May 25, "Peeved at prices? Don't blame the dealer" :
Every time Sohaila Rezazadeh rings up a sale at her Exxon station on Chain Bridge Road in Oakton, her cash register sends the information to Exxon Mobil's central computers. If she raises the price of gasoline a couple of pennies, chances are that Exxon will raise the wholesale price she pays by the same amount.

Through a password-protected Web portal, Exxon notifies Rezazadeh of wholesale price changes daily. That way the oil giant, which is earning about $3.3 billion a month, fine-tunes the pump prices at the franchise Rezazadeh has owned for 12 years.

Now, however, Rezazadeh says she cannot stay in business. Credit-card fees are eating her profit margins. Exxon, which owns the station land, last week handed Rezazadeh a new lease raising her rent about 30 percent over the next three years. She stuck a copy on the window of her station to show customers who are angry about soaring pump prices. Rezazadeh has told Exxon that she cannot make money with the rent that high. Her territory manager's reply, she said, was simple: When you go, leave us the keys...

5.25.08 Iraqi governor survives assassination attempt

BAGHDAD (AFP) May 25 - The governor of Babylon province survived an assassination attempt in Baghdad on Sunday when a car bomb killed one of his bodyguards and wounded nine people, Iraqi security sources said. The device exploded at around 1 pm (1000 GMT) as Salem Musalamawi's convoy passed through the Al Qadisiyah district, two security sources who requested anonymity said.

One bodyguard was killed, four members of Musalamawi's escort were wounded and five civilians were also wounded in the blast but the governor himself escaped unscathed. The injured were taken to the nearby Yarmuk hospital, one of the largest in the capital. Musalamawi is a member of the Shia Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council (SIIC), one of the key members of the governing coalition, which rivals radical cleric Moqtada Al Sadr's movement in representing Iraq's majority Shia community. [>khaleejtimes.com; See related story, indianexpress.com: hosted.ap.org, May 25, "US military downplays remarks on al-Qaeda's demise."]

5.25.08 One killed, five injured in suicide bomb attack in Afghanistan

KABUL (RIA Novosti) May 25 - A child was killed and five people were wounded after a suicide bomber struck a NATO convoy in southern Afghanistan, local security officials said on Sunday. The suicide bomber attacked the convoy in the southern Afghan city of Kandahar. There were no casualties among the NATO troops. All the persons wounded in the explosion, including the child killed in the blast, were passers-by, security officials said.

The militant group Taliban carried out more than 140 suicide missions in Afghanistan last year. More than 6,000 people were killed in violence in the country in 2007, nearly 2,000 of them civilians, according to official sources. Taliban militants are especially active in the southern and eastern parts of Afghanistan, which border on Pakistan. [>en.rian.ru ; See also thenews.com.pk, May 25, "Coalition soldier, boy killed in Afghan violence."]

5.24.08 Pakistani Taliban vows jihad in Afghanistan

KOTKAI, Pakistan (Reuters) May 24 - The leader of the Pakistani Taliban, Baitullah Mehsud, vowed on Saturday to carry on fighting NATO and US-led forces in Afghanistan regardless of negotiations for a peace deal with the government of Pakistan. The Taliban leader told a group of journalists, invited to his stronghold in the tribal lands of South Waziristan, that he wanted to stop fighting the Pakistan army.

"Fighting between the Taliban and Pakistan is harming Islam and Pakistan. This fighting should come to an end immediately," the black-bearded, short, muscular Mehsud said. But he made no commitment about halting attacks in Afghanistan, and said the jihad, or holy war, would carry on. "Islam does not recognise frontiers and boundaries. Jihad in Afghanistan will continue," Mehsud said, as guards carrying Kalashnikov assault rifles looked on. Mehsud emerged as a notorious militant commander over the past year, having been linked to a string of suicide attacks, including one that killed former prime minister Benazir Bhutto last December.

...Mehsud has broke[n] a peace deal signed with the government in 2005, and last year humiliated the army by capturing some 250 soldiers, and freeing them in exchange for the release of his own men. US Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte voiced his government's misgivings about Pakistani peace talks with the militants during a congressional hearing on Tuesday. Mehsud said he was proud to be an enemy of the United States. He said Afghans were leading the fight against US-led forces in Afghanistan, while Pakistanis and other foreigners made up only five percent of the insurgents. [Full story>>khaleejtimes.com; See related stories:
bbc.co.uk, May 24, "Pakistan militant 'holds to deal' and
aljazeera.net, May 24, "Pakistani politician assasinated" ;
indianexpress.com: hosted.ap.org, May 24, "Police: Roadside bombs kill 3 in Pakistan."]

5.24.08 Obama urges Bush back off South Korea trade deal

WASHINGTON (Reuters) May 24 - Democratic presidential front-runner Barack Obama in a letter released on Friday warned of a major fight over a free trade agreement with South Korea if President George W. Bush sends it to the US Congress. "Instead of provoking unnecessary and potentially corrosive confrontation over this agreement, your administration could make a significant contribution toward reestablishing trust with Congress and restoring bipartisan cooperation on trade by withholding the agreement," Obama said. Obama's Senate office released the letter, dated on Thursday, shortly after a White House event where Bush pushed for approval of free trade pacts with Colombia, Panama and South Korea before the end of this year. [More>>thestar.com.my]

5.24.08 'Several extremists' killed in Afghanistan: US

KABUL, May 24 - US-led soldiers called in an air strike against suspected extremists in southern Afghanistan, killing several of the men, the US military said Saturday. The strike on Friday in Garmser, on the border with Pakistan, was launched during an operation against an "extremist cell" involved in financing and arming militants, it said in a statement. "Several extremists were killed and six were detained (on) May 23 during a coalition force operation to disrupt anti-government operations in Helmand province," it said. The coalition does not give casualty numbers for its operations.

Garmser has been described as a "planning, staging and logistic hub" for Taliban extremists fighting the Afghan government, which is supported by about 70,000 international soldiers. US Marines and British soldiers launched a significant operation in the district nearly a month ago. The Taliban, who have been linked to al-Qaeda, were in government between 1996 and 2001.

5.24.08 Violence against women surges in Kurdistan

SULAIMANIYA, Iraq (AFP) May 24 - Both "honor" killings and suicide on the increase. Medics in Iraqi Kurdistan said on Saturday that they had seen a surge in violence against women in May, with both so-called "honor" killings and female suicide on the increase. "At least 14 women died in the first 10 days of May alone," a doctor told AFP in the region's second largest city of Sulaimaniyah. "Seven of them took their own lives, the other seven were murdered in still unexplained circumstances," apparently the victims of "honor" killings. [More>>alarabiya.net]

5.24.08 Suspected suicide bomber in Exeter 'was sent a message of support'

May 24 - A suspected suicide-bomber allegedly received a text message of encouragement as he set off to explode a device believed to be a nail bomb in a restaurant in an Exeter shopping centre. Nicky Reilly, 22, who has been arrested in connection with the incident, had also come to the attention of MI5 before the alleged attack, security sources confirmed last night. Armed police investigating the alleged bombing attempt yesterday arrested two men at an open-air café in the centre of Plymouth.

Shoppers and workers in the city, where Mr. Reilly lives, were moved away from the area as police surrounded the two men, who were sitting at a table with a child in a pushchair. Bystanders said that both men, said to be of Mediterranean or Asian appearance, were searched and put into sterile paper suits before being placed in unmarked cars. Police said later that one man was under arrest and the other was helping inquiries. Forensic science officers spent yesterday examining the mobile phone, landline and computer used by Mr. Reilly, a Muslim convert who also uses the name Mohammad Rasheed. [More>>timesonline.co.uk ; See also independent.co.uk, May 24, "Exeter bombing suspect was 'brainwashed,' friends insist."]

5.24.08 Spain's drought: a glimpse of our future?

May 24 - Barcelona is in the grip of a climate crisis on a scale never seen before in modern-day Europe. And now this parched city is being forced to import supplies from France. Barcelona is a dry city. It is dry in a way that two days of showers can do nothing to alleviate. The Catalan capital's weather can change from one day to the next, but its climate, like that of the whole Mediterranean region, is inexorably warming up and drying out. And in the process this most modern of cities is living through a crisis that offers a disturbing glimpse of metropolitan futures everywhere.

Its fountains and beach showers are dry, its ornamental lakes and private swimming pools drained and hosepipes banned. Children are now being taught how to save water as part of their school day. This iconic, avant-garde city is in the grip of the worst drought since records began and is bringing the climate crisis that has blighted cities in Australia and throughout the Third World to Europe. A resource that most Europeans have grown up taking for granted now dominates conversation. Nearly half of Catalans say water is the region's main problem, more worrying than terrorism, economic slowdown or even the populists' favorite – immigration.

The political battles now breaking out here could be a foretaste of the water wars that scientists and policymakers have warned us will be commonplace in the coming decades. The emergency water-saving measures Barcelona adopted after winter rains failed for a second year running have not been enough. The city has had to set up a "water bridge" and is shipping in water for the first time in the history of this great maritime city. [More>>independent.co.uk]

5.24.08 Fourth human foot washed onto coast

VANCOUVER, Canada (Reuters) May 24 - Another severed human foot has been discovered washed ashore on Canada's Pacific coast, but police are no closer to solving the gruesome mystery. The foot, still wearing a shoe, was discovered on Thursday on a small uninhabited island south of Vancouver in the Strait of Georgia, and is the fourth discovered in the region in the past 10 months. The previous cases all involved right feet still in sneakers, and each was found on a different island. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police have not said if the latest discovery was a right or left foot. DNA testing has failed to link the earlier discoveries to any missing person cases. [>news.com.au]

5.23.08 China earthquake death toll rises to 55,740

BEIJING, May 23 - The known death toll from China's major earthquake increased by 4,589 overnight to 55,740 as of Friday noon, according to the Information Office of the State Council (cabinet). Another 292,481 people were counted as injured and 24,960 were still listed as missing as a result of the 8.0-magnitude quake centered in the southwestern Sichuan Province on May 1. Meanwhile, 11.37 million displaced quake survivors were relocated, the office said. An elderly couple, aged 92 and 84, were rescued on Friday after they had been stranded in an isolated mountain in Sichuan for 11 days because of the devastating earthquake.

...The Ministry of Health said that 3,451 people injured in the quake had died in hospitals as of Friday at noon. Hospitals have admitted 73,939 injured people since the quake. By noon on Friday, 38,683 people had been treated and discharged while 28,377 were still being treated, the ministry said. Meanwhile, 3,428 patients have been transferred outside of Sichuan for further treatment and 86,517 medical staff from around the country were working in the quake areas. As of Friday noon, domestic and foreign donations had reached 24.6 billion yuan (3.5 billion US dollars), up 3.2 billion yuan overnight, according to the Information Office. So far, 3 billion yuan had been forwarded to the earthquake-affected areas.

Meanwhile, 443,340 tents, one of the most urgently needed relief supplies, had been delivered to quake regions, the office said. The Chinese government had said it needs some 3 million tents to house the displaced. President Hu Jintao visited two tent manufacturers in east China's Zhejiang Province on Thursday, urging them to produce more qualified tents to meet the needs of the quake-hit zone. The government has also appealed for more tents from international donors for the survivors. [Full story>>xinhuanet.com; See related story, khaleejtimes.com, May 23, "China fights radiation, pollution after quake."]

5.23.08 Suicide attack kills 4 Afghan soldiers, child in eastern Afghanistan

KABUL, May 23 - A suicide bomber on foot blew himself up as an Afghan army convoy slowed to pass a pothole-riddled section of road Friday in eastern Afghanistan, killing four soldiers and a child, an official said. Four other soldiers were wounded in the attack, about 8 miles (12kilometers) west of Khost city, said Defense Ministry spokesman Zahir Azimi. Suicide bombers frequently target military convoys, but civilian passers-by are often killed in such attacks.

In southern Helmand province, five Taliban insurgents were killed Friday when a mine they were planting on a highway in Musa Qala district exploded prematurely, said provincial police chief Mohammad Hussein Andiwal. Andiwal said international and Afghan forces often patrol the highway and suffer casualties due to such bombs. In eastern Kunar province, meanwhile, deputy police chief Abdul Sabor Allayer said a rocket hit a schoolyard Wednesday in Asmordistrict, killing one student and wounding four others. The victims were between 8 and 14 years old.

5.23.08 Ancient city of Babylon destroyed by US base

BABYLON (AFP) May 23 - Artefacts were stolen, land destroyed: archaeologists. The last outsiders to visit the ruins of the once-mighty city of Babylon in Iraq came in tanks and helicopters, leaving a blight on its historic and fragile landscape, archaeologists say. The city, born on the banks of the Euphrates River 5,000 years ago and full of priceless archaeological treasures, was transformed into a US military camp after the 2003 invasion with a heliport built among the ruins.

The base was later passed to Polish army control and despite the soldiers' departure in 2005, the damage left behind is evident. At a meeting in Berlin next month, Iraqi and other specialists will endeavor to assess the true level of damage. Iraqi archaeologist Hadi Mussa Qataa, who guided an AFP reporter through the fragile ruins, said helicopter takeoffs and landings, along with the tremors from the heavy rumble of armored vehicles had damaged the city's historic monuments.

...A report by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) branded described he damage caused during the military occupation of the site as "very serious." ...At least 32,000 items were pillaged from the 12,000 archaeological locations across Iraq during widespread looting which followed the invasion. The US military denies involvement in any of the thefts of historical artefacts.
[Full story>>alarabiya.net]

5.23.08 Amazon Indians lead battle against power giant's plan to flood rainforest

May 23 - The Amazonian city of Altamira played host to one of the more uneven contests in recent Brazilian history this week, as a colorful alliance of indigenous leaders gathered to take on the might of the state power corporation and stop the construction of an immense hydroelectric dam on a tributary of the Amazon. At stake are plans to flood large areas of rainforest to make way for the huge Belo Monte hydroelectric dam on the Xingu river. The government is pushing the project as a sustainable energy solution, but critics complain the environmental and social costs are too high.

For people living beside the river, the dam will bring an end to their way of life. Thousands of homes will be submerged and changes in the local ecology will wipe out the livelihoods of many more, killing their main food sources and destroying their raw materials.

For the 10,000 tribal indians of the Xingu, whose lives have changed little since the arrival of Europeans five centuries ago, this will be a devastating blow. "This is the second time we are fighting this battle," says Chief Bocaire, a young leader of the Kayapo, one of more than 600 Indians from 35 ethnic groups who gathered in record numbers in Altamira. The Indians had travelled hundreds of miles to get there in an area with hardly any roads. The roads that do exist are mostly dirt tracks, impassable in bad weather and difficult and dangerous at the best of times. For most it has been an odyssey of several weeks, travelling in small boats to reach the roads. [More>>independent.co.uk]

5.23.08 Buy a car, get a free gun

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (Reuters) May 23 - A Missouri car dealer said on Thursday sales have soared at his auto and truck business since launching a promotion this week that promises buyers a free handgun or a $250 gas card with every purchase. Max Motors, a small Butler, Missouri dealership that has as its logo a grimacing cowboy wielding a pistol, has sold more than 30 cars and trucks in the last three days, far more than its normal volume. And owner Mark Muller credits his decision to start offering buyers their choice of a $250 gas card or a $250 credit at a gun shop....Muller said the promotion was inspired by Illinois Sen. Barack Obama, who is vying with Hillary Clinton to be the Democratic nominee for the presidential election in November. "We did it because of Barack Obama..." [Full story>>khaleejtimes.com]

5.23.08 Ahmadinejad 'displeased' by talks between Israel, Syria

May 23 - Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has expressed his surprise and displeasure at Syria's "violation of its commitment to Iran" by holding talks with Israel, the London-based pan-Arabic daily Asharq alawsat reported Friday. According to the newspaper, Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Moallem updated Ahmadinejad during a visit to Teheran some weeks ago on the status of his nation's secret diplomatic contacts with Israel.

The report also said that Iran's Supreme National Security Council would examine a message from Syria about the talks with Israel in order to decide on an "appropriate response." Meanwhile, the editor of one of Iran's reformist newspapers said that the council had instructed Iranian media outlets, including Internet sites, to "ignore" the topic of the Syria-Israel talks. [More>>jpost.com; See also haaretz.com and related story, alarabiya.net, May 23, "Israel, Syria to resume talks in 10 days: Turkey."]

5..23.08 Ex-Bush adviser Rove must testify in case that could shame White House

May 23 - Karl Rove, the former trusted adviser to President George Bush, will be compelled to testify on Capitol Hill in a high-profile investigation of alleged political meddling by the White House in decisions made by the US Justice Department. John Conyers, the chairman of the House judiciary committee, yesterday took the unusual step of issuing a subpoena compelling Mr. Rove to testify in a case that threatens to disgrace the Bush government. He had tried in vain for a year to persuade Mr. Rove to come forward voluntarily.

The committee is looking into what role the White House may have played in the sacking of nine US attorneys during 2006 – an affair which eventually led to the resignation of Mr. Bush's last attorney general, Alberto Gonzalez. Also under scrutiny are the circumstances of the prosecution and subsequent imprisonment of the former governor of Alabama, Don Siegelman.

"This will make Watergate look like child's play when it is fully investigated," Mr. Siegelman told an Alabama newspaper last week, referring to his case and the dismissal of the prosecutors. He has repeatedly insisted that the White House, and Mr. Rove in particular, was behind his legal woes. Mr. Conyers said he had no choice but to order Mr. Rove to appear on Capitol Hill and testify under oath on 10 July. The scandal could prove embarrassing for media organizations who have recently hired Mr. Rove as a political commentator, including Fox News and Newsweek. [More>>independent.co.uk ; See related stories,

wexlerforcongress.com, "Inherent contempt for Rove."
: ...If Rove refuses to testify voluntarily and ignores the subpoenas that will certainly be issued, he should be held in Inherent Contempt of the House of Representatives. No American is above the law.  None of us should be able to ignore Congress without consequence.   If Mr. Rove ignores a subpoena from the Judiciary Committee, then the House of Representatives should pass an Inherent Contempt citation and exercise our right to send the House Sergeant-of-Arms to gather Mr. Rove and bring him before Congress to testify. I do not advocate this option lightly, but the reality is that Congress has few options left against an Administration that totally refuses to submit to any type of reasonable Congressional oversight...

afterdowningstreet.org, May 13, 2008, "Conyers tells Bush Iran attack = impeachment:"
(Conyers letters):

May 8, 2008

Join Me in Calling on President Bush to Respect Congress’ Exclusive Power to Declare War

Dear Democratic Colleague:

As we mark five years of war in Iraq, I have become increasingly concerned that the President may possibly take unilateral, preemptive military action against Iran. During the last seven years, the Bush Administration has exercised unprecedented assertions of Executive Branch power and shown an unparalleled aversion to the checks and balances put in place by the Constitution’s framers. The letter that follows asks President Bush to seek congressional authorization before launching any possible military strike against Iran and affirms Senator Biden’s statement last year that impeachment proceedings should be considered if the President fails to do so.

I hope that you will join me in calling on the President to respect Congress’ exclusive power to declare war. To sign the letter below, please contact the Judiciary Committee staff at 225-3951.


John Conyers, Jr.

May 8, 2008

The Honorable George W. Bush
President of the United States
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20500

Dear Mr. President:

We are writing to register our strong opposition to possible unilateral, preemptive military action against other nations by the Executive Branch without Congressional authorization. As you know, Article I, Section 8 of the U.S. Constitution grants Congress the power “to declare war,” to lay and collect taxes to “provide for the common defense” and general welfare of the United States, to “raise and support armies,” to “provide and maintain a navy,” to “make rules for the regulation for the land and naval forces,” to “provide for calling forth the militia to execute the laws of the Union, suppress insurrections and repel invasions,” to “provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining, the militia,” and to “make all laws necessary and proper for carrying into execution ... all ... powers vested by this Constitution in the Government of the United States.” Congress is also given exclusive power over the purse. The Constitution says, “No money shall be drawn from the Treasury but in consequence of appropriations made by law.”

By contrast, the sole war powers granted to the Executive Branch through the President can be found in Article II, Section 2, which states, “The President shall be the Commander-in-Chief of the Army and Navy of the United States, and of the Militia of the several States, when called into actual Service of the United States.” Nothing in the history of the “Commander-in-Chief” clause suggests that the authors of the provision intended it to grant the Executive Branch the authority to engage U.S. forces in military action whenever and wherever it sees fit without any prior authorization from Congress. In our view, the founders of our country intended this power to allow the President to repel sudden attacks and immediate threats, not to unilaterally launch, without congressional approval, preemptive military actions against foreign countries. As former Republican Representative Mickey Edwards recently wrote, “the decision to go to war ... is the single most difficult choice any public official can be called upon to make. That is precisely why the nation’s Founders, aware of the deadly wars of Europe, deliberately withheld from the executive branch the power to engage in war unless such action was expressly approved by the people themselves, through their representatives in Congress.”1

Members of Congress, including the signatories of this letter, have previously expressed concern about this issue. On April 25, 2006, sixty-two Members of Congress joined in a bipartisan letter that called on you to seek congressional approval before making any preemptive military strikes against Iran.2 Fifty-seven Members of Congress have co-sponsored H. Con. Res. 33, which expresses the sense of Congress that the President should not initiate military action against Iran without first obtaining authorization from Congress.3

Our concerns in this area have been heightened by more recent events. The resignation in mid-March of Admiral William J. “Fox” Fallon from the head of U.S. Central Command, which was reportedly linked to a magazine article that portrayed him as the only person who might stop your Administration from waging preemptive war against Iran,4 has renewed widespread concerns that your Administration is unilaterally planning for military action against that country. This is despite the fact that the December 2007 National Intelligence Estimate concluded that Iran had halted its nuclear weapons program in the fall of 2003, a stark reversal of previous Administration assessments.5

As we and others have continued to review troubling legal memoranda and other materials from your Administration asserting the power of the President to take unilateral action, moreover, our concerns have increased still further. For example, although federal law is clear that proceeding under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) “shall be the exclusive means by which electronic surveillance” can be conducted within the U.S. for foreign intelligence purposes, 18 U.S.C. 2511(2)(f), the Justice Department has asserted that the National Security Agency’s warrantless wiretapping in violation of FISA is “supported by the President’s well-recognized inherent constitutional authority as Commander in Chief and sole organ for the Nation in foreign affairs”.6 As one legal expert has explained, your Administration’s “preventive paradigm” has asserted “unchecked unilateral power” by the Executive Branch and violated “universal prohibitions on torture, disappearance, and the like.”7

Late last year, Senator Joseph Biden stated unequivocally that “the president has no authority to unilaterally attack Iran, and if he does, as Foreign Relations Committee chairman, I will move to impeach” the president. 8

We agree with Senator Biden, and it is our view that if you do not obtain the constitutionally required congressional authorization before launching preemptive military strikes against Iran or any other nation, impeachment proceedings should be pursued. Because of these concerns, we request the opportunity to meet with you as soon as possible to discuss these matters. As we have recently marked the fifth year since the invasion of Iraq, and the grim milestone of 4,000 U.S. deaths in Iraq, your Administration should not unilaterally involve this country in yet another military conflict that promises high costs to American blood and treasure.


eastbayexpress.com, May 14, "The torture professor." : Why UC Berkeley should fire John Yoo, the legal scholar whose work led to Abu Ghraib and secret spying on Americans. In early 2008, the national spotlight focused on Berkeley as the city council proclaimed recruiters for the US Marines "unwelcome intruders." As antiwar liberals clashed with offended conservatives, the protests and counter-demonstrations splashed across the evening news. But all the attention was badly misdirected. Just a few blocks away, virtually unmolested by protesters or TV cameras, was John Yoo, a UC Berkeley law professor whose secret government work was more objectionable than anything Marine recruiters or Berkeley's city council could possibly have concocted.

Yoo, a tenured professor at Boalt Hall since 1999, is the author of the infamous "Torture Memos" — a set of repudiated legal opinions that led to prisoner abuses in US prisons at Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo Bay, and elsewhere. Yoo wrote the memos for the Bush administration's Department of Justice while on leave of absence from UC Berkeley from 2001 to 2003. A staunch conservative, he also is believed to have laid the legal foundation for the nation's warrantless wiretapping program.

Yoo is now back at Boalt quietly teaching constitutional law, mostly overlooked by both the Bay Area media and anti-Bush activists. But in legal circles, both liberal and conservative scholars have sharply criticized the torture memos while engaging in online debates about whether he should be charged with war crimes, fired from Berkeley, or simply left alone.

One of his critics is Jack Goldsmith, a fellow conservative and former close friend. Goldsmith, who is now a Harvard University Law School professor, succeeded Yoo in the Justice Department and ultimately rescinded the torture memos — a move he described as being unprecedented. In a book released last fall, Goldsmith said he had no choice but to repudiate Yoo's work because it was so "extreme" and "one-sided." He said the memos amounted to an "advance pardon" or "get-out-of-jail-free card" for any interrogator who tortured prisoners in violation of US and international laws. [More>>]..

sfgate.com [San Francisco Chronicle], May 18, "Torture protests at UC law school."

Editorial note: In response to the East Bay Express "Torture professor" article, on May 16 I sent a letter to their editor containing the following points which I believe are relevant to the issues at hand (quoted in part): ...1) John Yoo's thesis on the unlimited powers of "the commander in chief" suggests that when the President is at war Congress' war powers are suspended altogether. A letter from John Conyers et al. to President Bush on May 8, 2008 reminded the President of their powers.

...In my view Congress should take the Conyer's letter one step further and force a hearing to determine whether the foundations under which the Iraq war was conducted were legal and constitutional. If illegal activity would be established the next step would be to prosecute those who had initiated and conducted the illegal activity. For instance, Yoo's action (advise) resulted in the Bush administration's abrogation of its treaties relative to war crimes. The power to make treaties is in both the president and Congress:

(Article II, Section 2) He [the president] shall have power, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, to make treaties, provided two thirds of the Senators present concur..

Did two thirds of the Senate agree to Yoo’s instructions on torture, etc.? Did they agree to abrogate US treaties relative to war crimes? Were they consulted on the abrogation of the treaties? Thus, one could take the Yoo thesis to its end, concluding that the President has the right to suspend Congress during times of war, leaving only the commander in chief with legal responsibilities — as a dictator. Yoo's thesis is the kind of argument that made Hitler the dictator of Germany. Thus, there is a legitimate need to iron out just exactly how far the Yoo thesis intended to go in extorting Congressional powers in favor of President Bush‘s “commander in chief“ powers. For the next US President could take Bush’s powers as a precedent and expand them.

2) The Nuremburg Trials involved several categories of criminals. One category involved "hate mongering" and the court found the publisher of a German newspaper, Julius Streicher, guilty. The trials concluded that a good part of the anti-Semitic actions (genocide, etc.) perpetrated by Nazi Germany were egged on by Streicher through his newspaper, Der Stuermer, from 1922 until 1933, together with his other publications and his other activities. A summary of the "Jew Baiting" for which he was accused and hanged is at http://www.ess.uwe.ac.uk/genocide/Streicher.htm.

We can see that the arm of the Nuremburg laws had a wide stretch, holding many different people accountable for crimes against humanity. Western law is based upon precedent, as Yoo ought to agree. There are precedents from Nuremburg and the Hague today that can bring Yoo and those who acted on his plan(s) to account.

3) The Hague international court has demonstrated and continues to demonstrate that nobody is above the international covenants that came from the Nuremburg Trials. According to a PBS Newshour interview of Judge Meron June 14, 2005 the court had brought 22 fugitives from the Kosovo War to its chambers. The present schedule of the court (http://www.un.org/icty/) shows a continuing intensity in bringing forth war criminals from that war to justice.

The Hague international court has shown that no leaders can hide behind their borders or laws to avoid being brought to justice for international crimes. The Bush administration may attempt to pardon itself to avoid criminal prosecution, but the fact remains that both US and international law hold that no man is above the law; i.e.:

(Article II, Section 2): “...he [the president] shall have power to grant reprieves and pardons for offenses against the United States, except in cases of impeachment.”

To this end we may conclude, based upon US and international precedents, that the one who draws up the plans for a crime is as guilty as the man who commits the crime. The man who orders the crime might hold a higher responsibility. And finally we have to look at the propagandists. Joseph Goebbels, the Nazi Education and Propaganda Minister, and Joseph Streicher, a newspaper publisher, were both found guilty. Goebbels committed suicide May 1, 1945.

4) As pertaining to John Yoo’s freedom of speech, as a university professor, actions by John Yoo that are paid for by the US government would not seem to fall under the “freedom of speech” clause of the US Constitution or the University of California’s bylaws. He was the US government official who crafted the plans to overturn international law and the abrogation of US international treaties. He was paid for his advise and instruction [by the Bush administration] and it appears that government officials used his advise to carry out deeds recognized by the Hague international court as war crimes. It is doubtful that an argument can be made that 2/3 majority of the US Congress agreed with those deeds so advised by Yoo.

The requirement of “advise and consent of Congress” noted above requires that the President bring forth such relevant issues before Congress for Congressional consent. Failure to do so might be construed as an obstruction of justice or an impeachable offense, among many other impeachable complaints, such as the "wiretapping complaint," expressed against the Bush administration. (See wikpedia.org and abcnews.go.com, Jan. 16, 2006, "Gore says Bush wiretapping could be impeachable offense.") The problem with the impeachment option, however, seems to rest with Speaker Nancy Pelosi. If President Bush and Vice President Cheney were impeached and removed from office, the Speaker of the House (Pelosi) would assume the office of President. Pelosi has expressed on many occasions her objections to any impeachment hearings involving President Bush or Vice President Cheney. (See thenation.com, July 31, 2007, "Why Pelosi opposes impeachment.") Though Pelosi says that "impeachment would divide the nation," one might guess that Pelosi doesn't want to be President of the United States. She may be avoiding her responsibility of assuming the office of the President of the United States, on the removal of President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney. Pelosi's reason[s] for obstructing hearings of impeachment of Bush and Cheney may not be the appropriate answer, however, since justice is expected by the Constitution and American people from those who hold the highest offices executing justice in our land.

Mel Copeland

5.23.08 Iraq spending ignored rules, Pentagon says

May 23 - A Pentagon audit of $8.2 billion in American taxpayer money spent by the United States Army on contractors in Iraq has found that almost none of the payments followed federal rules and that in some cases, contracts worth millions of dollars were paid for despite little or no record of what, if anything, was received. The audit also found a sometimes stunning lack of accountability in the way the United States military spent some $1.8 billion in seized or frozen Iraqi assets, which in the early phases of the conflict were often doled out in stacks or pallets of cash.

The audit was released Thursday in tandem with a Congressional hearing on the payments. In one case, according to documents displayed by Pentagon auditors at the hearing before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, a cash payment of $320.8 million in Iraqi money was authorized on the basis of a single signature and the words “Iraqi Salary Payment” on an invoice. In another, $11.1 million of taxpayer money was paid to IAP, an American contractor, on the basis of a voucher with no indication of what was delivered.
[More>>nytimes.com; See related, background stories,
msnbc.msn.com, Jan. 30,2007, :Did Iraq contractor fleece American taxpayers?" and
afterdowningstreet.com, May 23, 2008, "Why is a Houston-based contractor under investigation in Iraq now tearing down New Orleans schools?"]

5.23.08 UN Chief: Burma will take relief aid

YANGON, Myanmar, May 23 - UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said Myanmar's junta agreed Friday to allow all aid workers into the country but refused to let US, British and French warships dock with relief supplies. Myanmar's military government did not immediately confirm the agreement and there was no indication how quickly it would be take effect. [More>>washingtonpost.com]

5.20.08 Iraqi army enters Sadr's Baghdad bastion

BAGHDAD (Reuters) May 20 - Iraq sent its army deep into Baghdad's Sadr City, power base of Shi'ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, on Tuesday to stamp government authority on areas previously outside its control. Soldiers moved into the sprawling slum in the early hours, securing most of the suburb in an operation that an army spokesman said had been coordinated with Sadr's movement to avoid bloodshed.

The operation, on the second anniversary of Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki being sworn in, marked the first time since the US-led invasion of March 2003 that the Iraqi army had pushed so deeply into the area. "The security forces have taken control of security for the city completely, God willing," Major-General Qassim Moussawi, a spokesman for the security forces in Baghdad, told a news briefing on "Operation Peace."

The operation marks the latest step by the government to extend control over areas of Iraq that were under the sway of Shi'ite militias or Sunni Arab insurgents. Iraqi soldiers, who previously controlled only the outer perimeter of Sadr City, met no opposition during their advance into the suburb, home to 2 million people. But Moussawi said soldiers had cleared more than 100 home-made roadside bombs before going in. [More>>khaleejtimes.com]

5.20.08 China earthquake toll tops 40,000

May 20 - The death toll from last week's earthquake in south-west China has risen to 40,075, officials have said. Chinese aid workers are struggling to find shelter for millions who lost their homes. Foreign medical teams have started arriving in the area. Tens of thousands more are still missing, and hopes are fading of finding many people still alive.

However, Chinese media say a woman was pulled from the rubble 195 hours — or eight days — after the disaster. It was the second rescue on Tuesday. Earlier, a man was pulled alive from the remains of a power plant after being buried for 179 hours, local media said. Rescuers fed him sweetened water through a tube. The rescue effort has now focused on providing food, shelter and drinking water for the millions of people affected by the 7.9 magnitude earthquake in Sichuan province. Rescuers have launched a final effort to search all affected area. [More>>bbc.co.uk; See also xinhuanet.com, May 20, "Rescuers reach all quake-hit SW China villages."]

5.20.08 Surge in attacks leaves 17 dead in Afghanistan

KABUL, May 20 - Police stopped a suicide bomber from driving a stolen police jeep packed with explosives into a base in Afghanistan, officials said Tuesday, but a series of other attacks around the country killed 17 people. A policeman spotted the bomber and shot at him before he could enter the police camp in Delaram, a district in the southwestern province of Farah, deputy provincial governor Mohammad Younus Rasouli said.

"As the police opened fire, the bomber blew up the vehicle which was packed with explosives. Two police officers, including the one who fired, were very slightly injured," Rasouli said. The British defence ministry announced late Monday that one of its troops was killed in a bombing that day in the neighboring province of Helmand. Another NATO soldier was killed in an separate incident the same day, the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) said without giving the soldier's nationality.

5.20.08 Analysis: Should YouTube censor al-Qaeda?

WASHINGTON (UPI) May 20 - Sen. Joseph Lieberman, I-Conn., called Monday for YouTube to take down al-Qaeda videos that users had posted, but the site said most of the videos his office had flagged did not contain material that violated their guidelines and rejected his request that they act to remove all material from US designated terror groups. In a letter to Eric Schmidt, the chairman and chief executive officer of Google Inc., which owns YouTube, Lieberman urged the popular video-sharing service to enforce its own "community guidelines" against "graphic or gratuitous violence" and said the company should change its rules "to address violent extremist material."

In the letter, released to the media and dated Monday, Lieberman wrote that removing videos produced by al-Qaeda and other extremist groups should be straightforward, because "so many of the Islamist terrorist organizations brand their material with logos or icons identifying their provenance." In a blog posting, YouTube said it welcomed the dialogue with Lieberman but noted that "most of the videos" his office had drawn to their attention "did not contain violent or hate speech content" and had therefore not been removed from the site "because they do not violate our Community Guidelines." YouTube, which hosts millions of videos posted every day by its user-community, also rejected the idea that it should pre-screen content for videos produced by al-Qaeda and other terrorist groups.

...A Lieberman aide said the material he was concerned about went beyond the bounds of acceptable free speech. "It is not reasonable, let alone legal, for an al-Qaeda spokesman to visit the United States and try to recruit and build support here," the aide told UPI. "Why is it reasonable for the same person to do that in this virtual community?" Al-Qaeda and other groups are using YouTube in their efforts to legitimize their violence, spread their ideas and recruit potential terrorists. "Shouldn't the community guidelines ban (US-)designated (foreign terrorist organizations) from using the service?" the aide asked. [Full story>>metimes.com]

5.20.08 UN: Cyclone 'worse than 04 tsunami'

May 20 - The devastation in Myanmar from Cyclone Nargis could create a humanitarian crisis worse than that of the 2004 south Asian tsunami, the UN's secretary-general has said. Ban Ki-Moon said on Tuesday that Myanmar had reached a "critical" point with international aid only reaching a minority of victims of the storm. He said at a press conference in New York: "This is a critical moment for Myanmar. We have a functioning relief program in place, but so far we have been able to reach only about 25 percent of Myanmar's people in need." He said Myanmar's government has allowed nine helicopters from the UN World Food Programme to deliver aid to those affected by the storm.

...The official death toll from Cyclone Nargis stands at about 78,000 but aid agencies believe the number to be higher. Another 56,000 people are still missing. Relief agencies have warned of a mounting threat of disease and say that the most vulnerable survivors will start dying soon unless they get the aid they need. In its latest assessment, the UN said only about 500,000 of the 2.4 million storm victims had received some form of international assistance.
[Full story>>aljazeera.net]

5.20.08 Hyrid embryo research given go-ahead by MPs

May 20 - Ground-breaking new laws permitting the creation of human-animal hybrid embryos for research passed a crucial vote in the Commons last night after attempts to ban the technique were overwhelmingly rejected. MPs voted by almost two-to-one to reject an attempt to ban all hybrid embryos using human and animal DNA despite claims that they would turn Britain into a "rogue state."

The Commons voted down the amendment to the Human Fertilization and Embryology Bill by 336 to 176, a majority of 160. A second amendment to outlaw so-called "true hybrids" containing 50 per cent animal DNA was also rejected after a three-hour debate. A third amendment, which would limit the use of hybrid embryos, was also voted down.

...Dawn Primarolo, the Health minister, said that hybrid embryo research offered a "valuable resource" for scientists. Both the Prime Minister and leader of the Opposition voted against a ban on hybrid embryo research in last night's free votes. Proposals to allow the creation of "saviour siblings" genetically matched to help seriously ill older brothers or sisters also passed the Commons. An attempt to block the practice was rejected by 342 to 163, a majority of 279, while another attempt by the Conservative frontbench to limit the practice to life-threatening cases was rejected by 318 votes to 149.
[Full story>>independent.co.uk]

5.20.08 'Jurassic Park' technnique resurrects extinct DNA

May 20 - In an echo of the film Jurassic Park, DNA from an extinct animal has been re-activated in the laboratory for the first time. Scientists took genetic material from the Tasmanian tiger – officially declared extinct 70 years ago – and inserted it into mouse embryos where it played a role in developing cartilage and future bone. Dr. Andrew Pask, from the University of Melbourne in Australia, who led the research, said:

"This is the first time that DNA from an extinct species has been used to induce a functional response in another living organism. As more and more species of animals become extinct, we are continuing to lose critical knowledge of gene function and their potential." In the film Jurassic Park, dinosaurs are brought to life by resurrecting their preserved DNA. Some scientists have suggested bringing back the Tasmanian tiger using cloning technology like that depicted in the movie.


09.11.05 When a nation lacks a competent leader it invites disaster – the legacy of Bush
"Using force the George W. Bush way – Bush's crusade"
11.25.04 Why the Crusade & Jihad?


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