Friday, September 26, 2008

The US military announces another death

Today the US military announced: "A Multi-National Division - Center Soldier was killed Sep. 25 when a roadside bomb struck a vehicle that was part of a combat patrol near Iskandariyah. The name of the deceased is being withheld pending notification of next of kin and official release by the Department of Defense. The incident is under investigation." The announcement brings the number of US service members killed in Iraq to 4173 since the start of the illegal war with 22 for the month thus far.

Meanwhile Derek Kravitz offered "Army Probes Possible Toxic Exposure in Iraq" (Washington Post) Wednesday afternoon:

Senior Army officials are investigating claims that National Guardsmen were exposed to a toxin in 2003 while protecting a water pumping plant in Iraq.
Two employees with the firm Kellogg, Brown and Root told Senate Democrats in June that members of the 1st Battalion, 152nd Infantry division of the Indiana National Guard were exposed to sodium dichromate, despite promises from company officials that the Qarmat Ali facility in Basra, Iraq, was safe.
One employee reported seeing the plant covered in a "layer of bright orange dust" that was carried by the wind, Gannett News Service reports.

Staying with safety issues, alarms are being raised re: the security of Baghdad. An Iraqi correspondent for McClatchy contributes "Traffic Jam Again" (Inside Iraq):

People keep asking of the real benefits of having so many check points all over Baghdad with the violence starts again to show up these days after a period of freezing which didn't last long. Is this a kind of pressure message to the government? Or is something bigger than that? Is it related to the military operations in Diyala and Mosul?
The Iraqi people and especially Baghdad is fed up with promises by officials and security commanders of the improving of the security situation. Millions of students in schools and universities started their new studying year this week which will add more traffic in Baghdad and more targets for the car bombs.
If the check points lessen the car bombs, we are happy with them. Instead, we have soldiers and policemen who wave for the cars to move like traffic policemen who are useless.

The concern has been expressed directly to the US military. We'll drop back to Tuesday's snapshot to note a Monday press briefing:

Staying with the Defense Dept, Lt Gen Lloyd Austin III briefed reporters yesterday from Iraq and used "positive" and "progress" repeatedly. For what doesn't matter, check out the write up by Adam Levine (CNN). The press briefing was so much more interesting. Austin did a hard sell on the "Awakening" Council members declaring, "One of our primary focus areas as we move foward is transitioning the Sons of Iraq program to the Iraqi government. The volunteer movement that started in Anbar and spread across the rest of the country significantly contributed to the security successes that we are now taking advantage of. The Sons of Iraq have paid a heavy price fight al Qaeda and other insurgent groups, and it's important that the government of Iraq responsibly transition them into meaningful employment. Prime Minister Maliki has assured me that the government will help those who help the people of Iraq. And so next week in Baghdad the government will accept responsibility for approximately 54,000 Sons of Iraq, and we will be there to assist in the transfer. We spent the last few weeks working hand in hand with our Iraqi partners on this transition, and I'm confident that this will go well. And you should know that we will not abandon the Sons of Iraq." In response to a question from Bill McMichael of Military Times, Austin stated that there were 99,000 "Awakening" Council members and 54,000 are in Baghdad "so we will start with the Baghdad province next month and transition that element first, and then we will begin to move to other parts of the country and transition those elements." The most interesting exchange took place when JJ Sutherland (NPR) attempted to pin down Austin on what happens when the 54,000 transfer over in terms of what they do now and what they will do? Sutherland had to repeatedly bring up the issue of "Awakening" Council members currently staffing checkpoints in Baghdad and ask what happens to those checkpoints? Austin's repeated replies indicated he hadn't understood the question because no one in the US military had thought about that. Best exchange.

JJ Sutherland: Sir, I understand that but I'[m saying, "What happens in October? I understand eventually you want to have them be plumbers or electricians. But in October, there are a lot of checkpoints that have been manned by the Sons of Iraq. Are those checkpoints all going to go away? Are they only going to be staffed by Iraqi police now? That's my question. It's not eventually, it's next month.

Lt Gen Lloyd Austin: Yeah. Next month the Iraqi government will begin to work their way through this. And there's no question that some of them, some of the checkpoints, many of the checkpoints, will be -- will be manned by Iraqi security forces. In some cases, there may be Sons of Iraq that will be taksed to help with that work. But in most cases, I think the Iraqi government will be looking to transition people into different types of jobs.

At which point the Pentagon's spokesperson (DOD press office director) Gary Keck jumped in with the cry of one more question.

While the military ignores what the shift re: checkpoints in Baghdad might mean for the capitol, tensions continue on Iraq's border with Turkey. Hurriyet offers "Turkish warplanes hit 16 PKK positions in northern Iraq, army says" which explains Turkish military planes bombed northern Iraq Thursday night "and hit 16 locations" thought to belong to the PKK:

The military has not revealed any casualty figures. It said all warplanes returned safely to bases in Turkey.
Previous media reports suggest Thursday's air strikes began after 1900 GMT in two separate regions in northern Iraq. "Last night two separate regions were bombed where the PKK was believed to be taking shelter," a high-ranking Turkish security official told Reuters.
The mayor of the town of Jarawa in Iraq, Azad Wassu, said there were Turkish air strikes on the Qandil Mountains from 10 p.m. on Thursday until 12:30 a.m. The PKK confirmed the attack and said one of its members was wounded, Reuters added.

TV notes, PBS and check local listings. In many markets, the programs begin airing tonight. NOW on PBS explores the bailout:

The government's historic proposal to bail out the U.S. banking system is raising as many questions as it is offering solutions. Some in Congress are warning against reacting too quickly; others want conditions that protect homeowners, increase oversight, and limit the compensation of corporate executives.
But the number one question on the minds of Americans: How will this affect me? This week, NOW on PBS goes inside the round-the-clock efforts in Washington to craft a bailout plan of monumental proportions.
NOW's cameras follow Damon Silvers, an associate general counsel at the AFL-CIO, the nation's largest federation of labor unions, as he works to get help for working Americans in addition to bailing out financial firms in distress. Silvers, an architect of the major provisions Congressional Democrats are pushing for in the bill, provides key insight on the stake ordinary working Americans have in the fate of this proposal, and on what comes next.

Washington Week plans for . . . anything because tonight's scheduled debate remains iffy:

The nation’s financial crisis ramped up partisan and presidential politics this week putting both a rescue plan for Wall Street and the first presidential debate up in the air.
Late today [Thursday], Barack Obama and John McCain met with President Bush and Congressional Leaders at the White House to discuss the nation’s economic crisis and possible solutions but reports are that the meeting went very badly. At this hour, it’s still unclear how this will play out and whether or not there will be a presidential debate on Friday.
WASHINGTON WEEK is tracking developments and is planning two LIVE broadcasts Friday night. Gwen Ifill and our panel will have the most up-to-date details on the economic bailout plan as well as a preview of the presidential debate LIVE on WASHINGTON WEEK at 8pm (ET) on most PBS stations in the Eastern and Central time zones.
WASHINGTON WEEK is tracking developments and is planning two LIVE broadcasts Friday night -- one before and the other after PBS coverage of the debate moderated by Jim Lehrer of the NewsHour. Gwen Ifill and our panel will have the most up-to-date details on the economic bailout plan as well as a preview of the presidential debate LIVE on WASHINGTON WEEK at 8pm (ET) on most PBS stations in the Eastern and Central time zones.

Joining Gwen around the WASHINGTON WEEK table:

Michele Norris of NPR
Michael Duffy of TIME Magazine
David Wessel of The Wall Street Journal
Dan Balz of The Washington Post
John Harwood of CNBC and The New York Times

You won’t want to miss a minute of WASHINGTON WEEK on this historic week of news.

NOW on PBS will have video streaming of the latest program beginning Saturday. Washington Week will offer video and audio streaming (with a transcript to follow on Monday).

On the meltdown, Micah notes this from Team Nader:

Nader Responds to McCain/Obama/Bush White House Meeting

Thursday, September 25, 2008 at 12:00:00 AM


Press Release
Contact: Toby Heaps, 202-441-6795

Nader Statement on Bailout, Mcain/Obama Meeting With Bush

Bailout is Big Mistake. Crackdown on Corporate Crime. Protect Homeowners.

Ralph Nader and Matt Gonzalez vigorously oppose Bush's $700 billion taxpayer bailout of Wall Street.

"This is not just a bailout of Wall Street" says Nader, "It's a bailing out of the bankrupt Republican and Democratic policies that have led us to where we are today with Senators John "Deregulation" McCain and Joe "MBNA" Biden leading the way.

Full Statement from Ralph Nader:

Today at 4 p.m., Senators John McCain and Barack Obama will meet with other Congressional leaders and President Bush to join the stampede to bail out Wall Street with Main Street and Elm Street's money.

Unfortunately, their rhetorical flourishes to crackdown on Wall Street and protect Main Street will not be met with substance.

The bailout ignores the needs of millions of swindled families facing foreclosure, and it squanders an opportunity to bring about real regulatory change, shareholder power and taxpayer equity that would prevent economic crises like this from happening again. Wall Street's wildly overpaid bosses are addicted to speculative gambling with other people's money. When a drug addict is facing overdose, you don't give them more needles.

We need to protect homeowners and our neighborhoods first. That's why Nader/Gonzalez support introducing a law with a 5-year sunset clause that would provide homeowners facing foreclosure the right to rent to own their homes at fair market value.

Wall Street is out of control. We need to bring some sense of accountability, transparency, and law and order back to Wall Street's crooks and speculators, or they will desperately seek socialism to bail out their criminal corporate capitalism, going to the taxpayer trough in Washington DC each time. That's why Nader/Gonzalez support a Wall Street speculation tax, starting on derivatives, which would make Wall Street less like Las Vegas, and generate enough funds to eliminate the tax burden on the first $50,000 of income for every working American.



Meanwhile, Amy Goodman continues her long history of lying today which is only a surprise if you haven't been paying attention. Today she cozies up to homophobia (yet again -- see Marcia's "Amy Goodman and other homophobes" from last night). Goody cozies up to Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Iranian president, and refuses to challenge him. Now Bill Clinton (her most famous interview) in 2000, she can challenge. But the Red Diaper Baby is happy to let Ahmadinejad not only LIE but to smear the dead? Of course, because Goodman is a homophobe. For the reality Goody won't pursue, you can read Robert Verkaik's "A life or death decision" (Independent of London, March 6, 2008):

A gay teenager who sought sanctuary in Britain when his boyfriend was executed by the Iranian authorities now faces the same fate after losing his legal battle for asylum.
Mehdi Kazemi, 19, came to London to study English in 2004 but later discovered that his boyfriend had been arrested by the Iranian police, charged with sodomy and hanged.
In a telephone conversation with his father in Tehran, Mr Kazemi was told that before the execution in April 2006, his boyfriend had been questioned about sexual relations he had with other men and under interrogation had named Mr Kazemi as his partner.
Fearing for his own life if he returned to Iran, Mr Kazemi claimed asylum in Britain. But late in 2007 his case was refused. Terror-stricken at the prospect of deportation the young Iranian made a desperate attempt to evade deportation and fled Britain for Holland where he is now being detained amid a growing outcry from campaigners.

Back to the US presidential race, Cynthia McKinney is the Green presidential candidate:

A Gift for a Generation: A U.S. Financial System of Our Own
Thursday, 25 September 2008 20:20
A Gift for a Generation: A U.S. Financial System of Our Own

by Cynthia McKinney
September 25, 2008

Last week, I posted ten points (that were by no means exhaustive) for Congressional action immediately in the wake of the financial crisis now gripping our country. At that time, the Democratic leadership of Congress was prepared to adjourn the current legislative Session to campaign, without taking any action at all to put policies in place that protect U.S. taxpayers and the global community that has accepted U.S. financial leadership. Those ten points, to be taken in conjunction with the Power to the People Committee's platform available on the campaign website at (, are as follows:

1. Enactment of a foreclosure moratorium now before the next phase of ARM interest rate increases take effect;
2. elimination of all ARM mortgages and their renegotiation into 30- or 40-year loans;
3. establishment of new mortgage lending practices to end predatory and discriminatory practices;
4. establishment of criteria and construction goals for affordable housing;
5. redefinition of credit and regulation of the credit industry so that discriminatory practices are completely eliminated;
6. full funding for initiatives that eliminate racial and ethnic disparities in home ownership;
7. recognition of shelter as a right according to the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights to which the U.S. is a signatory so that no one sleeps on U.S. streets;
8. full funding of a fund designed to cushion the job loss and provide for retraining of those at the bottom of the income scale as the economy transitions;
9. close all tax loopholes and repeal of the Bush tax cuts for the top 1% of income earners; and
10. fairly tax corporations, denying federal subsidies to those who relocate jobs overseas repeal NAFTA.

In addition to these ten points, I now add four more:

11. Appointment of former Comptroller General David Walker to fully audit all recipients of taxpayer cash infusions, including JP Morgan, Bear Stearns, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and AIG, and to monitor their trading activities into the future;
12. elimination of all derivatives trading;
13. nationalization of the Federal Reserve and the establishment of a federally-owned, public banking system that makes credit available for small businesses, homeowners, manufacturing operations, renewable energy and infrastructure investments; and
14. criminal prosecution of any activities that violated the law, including conflicts of interest that led to the current crisis.

Ellen Brown, author of "The Web of Debt" writes at, "Such a public bank today could solve not only the housing crisis but a number of other pressing problems, including the infrastructure crisis and the energy crisis. Once bankrupt businesses have been restored to solvency, the usual practice is to return them to private hands; but a better plan for Fannie and Freddie might be to simply keep them as public institutions."

Too many times politicians have told us to support the "free market." The unfolding news informs us in a most costly manner that free markets don't work. This is a financial system of their making. It's now past time for the people to have an economic system of their own. A reading of the full text on the Congressional "Agreement on Principles" for the proposed $700 billion bailout reveals the sham that this so-called agreement truly is. Today our country faces an economic 9/11. The problem that is unfolding is truly systemic and no stop-gap measures that maintain the current bankrupt structure will be sufficient to resolve this crisis of the U.S. economic engine.

Today is my son's birthday. What a gift to the young people of this country if we were to present to them a clean break from the policies that produced this economic disaster, the "financial tsunami" that former Comptroller General David Walker warned us of so many months ago and instead offered them a U.S. economic superstructure that truly was their own.

Power to the People!

Click here to read Cynthia's previous column (link goes to Black Agenda Report). McKinney's running mate Rosa Clemente will be speaking at the International People's Democratic Uhuru Movement (InPDUM) Saturday, September 27th. Ralph Nader is the independent presidential candidate and Tori notes this from Team Nader:

Nader Demands to be Included in Debates

Thursday, September 25, 2008 at 12:00:00 AM


Press Release
Contact: (Washington) Toby Heaps, 202-471-5833,


For the economy's sake, there is no choice but to end war and make peace.

On the eve of the first Presidential debate on foreign policy and in the midst of the biggest economic meltdown since 1929, Ralph Nader presents a simple solution for fixing the biggest hole in the taxpayer's pocket and challenges McCain/Obama to debate him on it.

"My campaign is on the ballot in 45 states and is polling at around 5 percent nationally, higher in several key swing states. I have earned a podium in the debates, and, unlike McCain and Obama, my foreign policy brings our soldiers back from Iraq and Afghanistan. This will save us a few hundred billion dollars in direct and deferred costs each year."

Mr. Nader elaborated: "The fact that a candidate can call for changing the date of the debate only two days before it is scheduled indicates how easy it would be for the candidates to also call for the inclusion of the leading third party and independent candidates, which would bring fresh ideas to the table on how our country can most effectively tackle this heavy economic challenge, starting with curbing our imperialist foreign policy."

Please see Ralph Nader's case to open up the debates in today's edition of USA Today

Nader and Obama Girl join forces to open up debates
(check Youtube for this video after 2pm)

See blog in favor of giving voice to the third of voters not with two parties



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