Thursday, October 30, 2008

US military announces another death

Yesterday the US military announced: "A Coalition force Soldier died as a result of a non-combat incident south of Mosul Oct. 29. The injured Soldier was transported to a nearby combat support hospital in Mosul." The announcement brings to 4189 the number of US service members killed in Iraq since the start of the illegal war.

In today's New York Times, Sam Dagher's "Iraqis Insist on Changes to Long-Delayed Security Pact With U.S." notes:

The Iraqi government demanded changes on Wednesday to the long-delayed security pact with the United States. The amendments would ban American troops from using Iraqi territory to carry out attacks on other countries, further limit when the troops would have immunity from Iraqi laws and allow inspections of American arms shipments.

The article runs on A15 and has an illustration above it that notes spending (captions by Hannah Fairfield) or, as is more often the case, where money is not being spent. Click here for the illustration. Fairfield notes the Office of the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction is scheduled to release a report on Iraqi spending today.

The SIGIR summarizes the report as follows:

This penultimate quarter of the Year of Transfer witnessed the emergence of nascent normalcy in Iraq. As U.S. reconstruction assistance continued to target civil and military capacity building, Iraq achieved progress on the security, political, and economic fronts. Violent incidents dropped to their lowest levels since 2004; the long-awaited Provincial Election Law finally passed; and commercial activity, spurred by Iraq's oil-revenue windfall, continued to increase. But, as General Ray Odierno, the new Commanding General, Multi-National Force-Iraq (MNF-I), recently noted, Iraq "was a failed state [in 2006]. In 2008, it's a fragile state. We've got to move it to a stable state."1 To sustain progress in this direction, Iraq must improve its provision of security and essential services, such as electricity, potable water, sewage systems, and health care services.

The report [PDF format warning] is online. The nearly 250 page report buries itself by being released a week prior to the election when everyone's caught up in the horse race.

On reconstruction, the report states the contracts are handled by the US Army Corps of Engineers, Gulf Region Division; Joint Contracting Command-Iraq/ Afghanistan; Multi-National Corps-Iraq; Air Force Center for Engineering and the Environment; USAID; and DoS. They have awareded many contracts but the top ten recipients have received over $12 billion. The top ten (in order of biggest pig on the tax payer's dole):

1) Bechtel National, Inc
2) FluorAMEC, LLC
3) Parsons Global Services, Inc.
4) Parsons Iraq Joint Venture
5) Kellogg, Brown & Root Services, Inc.
6) Washington Group International
7) Environmental Chemical Corporation
8) Research Triangle Institute
9) Anham Joint Venture
10) Symbion Power, LLC

In Congressional hearings, the issue of CERP funds have come up repeatedly. Think of it as petty cash. It's intended to be used for short-term issues. Cerp is: Commander's Emergency Response Program. Most recently the issue came up during a September 10th House Armed Services Committee hearing (see this entry by Mike) between Committee Chair Ike Skelton and DoD's Under Secreatry of Defense for Policy, Eric S. Edelman :

Ike Skelton: The department's understanding of the allowed usage of CERP funds seems to have undergone a rather dramatic change since Congress first authorized it. The intent of the program was originally to meet urgent humanitarian needs in Iraq through small projects undertaken under the initative of brigade and battalion commanders. Am I correct?

Edelman: Yes, sir.

Ike Skelton: Thank you. The answer was "yes." Last year the Department of Defense has used millions of CERP dollars to build hotels for foreign visitors, spent $900,000 on a mural at the Baghdad International Airport and, as I understand this second piece of art, that CERP funds were used for. I'm not sure that the American tax payer would appreciate that knowing full well that Iraq has a lot of money in the bank from oil revenues and it is my understanding that Iraq has announced that they're going to build the world's largest ferris wheel. And if they have money to build the world's largest ferris wheel why are we funding murals and hotels with money that should be used by the local battallion commander. This falls in the purview of plans and policy ambassador.

Edelman: No, no, it's absolutely right and I'll shae the stage here -- I'll share the stage quite willing with uh, with Admiral Winnefeld with whom I've actually been involved in discussions with for some weeks about how we provide some additional guidance to the field and some additional requirements to make sure that CERP is appropriately spent.

Edelman then tries to stall and Skelton cuts him off with, "Remember you're talking to the American taxpayer." Edelman then replies that it is a fair question. He says CERP is important because it's flexible. It's important because they're just throwing around, if you ask me. They're playing big spender on our dime.

Skelton: The issue raises two serious questions of course. Number one is they have a lot of money of their own. And number two the choice of the type of projects that are being paid for. I would like to ask Mr. Secretary if our committee could receive a list of expenditures of $100,000 or more within the last year. Could you do that for us at your convience please?

Edelman: We'll work with our colleagues in the controller's office and - and . . . to try and get you --

Skelton: That would be very helpful.

The report lists some CERP projects, the ten most costly. Skelton wanted all costing over $100,000 Table 2.20 of the SIGIR's report lists the following and all dollar amounts are in the millions:

1) Electrical Distribution in Muhalla 312 $11.68
2) Fallujah Sewar Pump Stations F1, F2 $7.60
3) Electrical Distribution in Muhalla 310 $6.57
4) Rehabilitate Two BIAP Domestic Terminals $6.56
5) PIC Sewage Installation - Karmat Ali $6.56
6) Kirkuk City Clean-Up Supplies and Materials $6.13
7) Al Faw, Redundancy and Mitigation $5.92
8) Fallujah Solar Lights Phase II $5.50
9) Sulaimnyah Votech new construction $5.20
10) Transformers for Baghdad PC $4.82

That's just the top ten and, no, that's not how the CERP funds are supposed to be used. They are discretionary funds, petty cash. The report notes that 216 "CERP projects are ongoing" and that 432 "are in the planning stages".

Again, it's nearly 250 pages (246) and it covers a great deal. (Seven judges have been killed so far this year bringing the total number of judges and their families members killed since the start of the illegal war to 40.) Due to its length, the general lack of concern with Iraq and the horse race, it will probably receive very little attention. (We'll note more of it in today's snapshot.)

In news of the US presidential race, Lewis notes this on an event taking place today:

Nader & Gonzalez in Debates in Battleground States


Nader & Gonzalez in Debates in Battleground States .

It’s debate week!

Ralph Nader will appear tomorrow (Thursday October 30, 2008, 4:30 to 5:30 EST) in a Third Party debate at the City Club of Cleveland. Libertarian candidate Bob Barr and Constitution Party candidate Chuck Baldwin will participate in the debate. The three other electorally viable Presidential candidates have been invited.

Then on Sunday November 2, 2008, Matt Gonzalez will appear in a three-way vice-presidential debate in Las Vegas with the Constitution and Libertarian VP candidates.That debate is being sponsored by Free & Equal.

(By the way, in case you haven’t seen it yet, check out Matt’s most recent expose of the Obama-led corporate and militarist Democrats. We predict Obama will not address any of these issues head on tonight in his 30 minute, five network infomercial.)

C-Span will tape the City Club of Cleveland debate and show it sometime this weekend.

And the City Club will live stream the event on their website.

So, tell your friends and family to watch tomorrow afternoon.

Onward to November.

The Nader Team

PS: Remember, if you donate $100 or more, we will ship to you the hard cover 40th Anniversary edition of Unsafe at Any Speed — Ralph’s historic expose of the American automobile industry — autographed by the man himself. It was the book that launched the American consumer movement and saved hundreds of thousands of lives. This autographed edition is bound to become a rare collector’s item after the election. So, get it now. Only a limited number left. (This book offer ends November 4, 2008 at 11:59 p.m.)


Ralph Nader is the independent presidential candidate and Matt Gonzalez is his running mate.
And Elaine noted the following via an e-mail I passed on to her but it is up at the Nader-Gonzalez site as well:

Howard Zinn Voting for Nader


Howard Zinn Voting for Nader .

Howard Zinn now says he’s voting for Nader.

The famous historian lives in Massachusetts, where Obama is ahead by 20 points.

Zinn created a stir earlier when he said he was voting for Obama.

He legitimately took some heat for supporting the corporate Obama.

But late last night, Zinn admitted in an e-mail to our campaign that he made a mistake and now says he will vote for Nader.

And Zinn urges all people of conscience to vote for the true progressive in slam dunk states.

Of which there are now many.

(Zinn says that in non slam dunk states, he urges people to vote for Obama. We obviously disagree with that bit of advice.)

Or as Ralph Nader put it today:

"A vote for Nader/Gonzalez on November, rather than being wasted by piling onto an Obama landslide or McCain implosion, will produce a stronger hammer and watchdog for what millions of Americans want — including public Medicare for all with private delivery and a living wage for the one in three workers who don’t make one."

"Unless millions of voters of conscience choose the progressive hammer and watchdog of Nader/Gonzalez, millions of votes will be tactically wasted and serve only to increase the mandateless landslide of Barack Obama."

So, if you are ambivalent about this election, fear not.

If you live in a slam dunk state, follow the advice of Howard Zinn.

Vote Independent.

Vote Nader for President.

Onward to November

The Nader Team

PS: A lot of our supporters heard that Zinn said he was voting for Obama. Now that he has set the record straight, it’s important that we pass along the word. So, forward this e-mail to your friends and family.

PS: Remember, if you donate $100 or more, we will ship to you the hard cover 40th Anniversary edition of Unsafe at Any Speed — Ralph’s historic expose of the American automobile industry — autographed by the man himself. It was the book that launched the American consumer movement and saved hundreds of thousands of lives. This autographed edition is bound to become a rare collector’s item after the election. So, get it now. Only a limited number left. (This book offer ends November 4, 2008 at 11:59 p.m.)


John McCain is the Republican Party candidate, Sarah Palin is his running mate and the campaign notes that Indiana's Fort Wayne News Sentinel has provided their endorsement with "Send John McCain To The White House:"

In endorsing Hillary Clinton over Barack Obama in the Democratic primary, we noted that it was an easy call for us: She was the more conservative, so she got our vote. The presidential race is an even easier call: Send John McCain to the White House instead of Obama.

Heaven knows, John McCain isn't a perfect conservative. He's too proud of being a "maverick," which means he likes to cross the aisle and cooperate with the likes of Ted Kennedy on ill-conceived government monstrosities. His McCain-Feingold bill, for example, ignores the First Amendment in its quest for campaign finance "reform." He's too willing to open our borders for a "comprehensive" immigration plan. He can be stampeded into harmful policies because of hype about global climate change.

But his instincts are good, and he is conservative where it counts. He is a fiscal hawk in a time when government is far too bloated and overreaching, for example.

Becky noted that and she also notes this from McCain - Palin '08:

Statement On The GDP Number

VA -- Today, Doug Holtz-Eakin, McCain-Palin 2008 Senior Policy Adviser, issued the following statement on the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) number:

"Today's announcement that third quarter GDP fell at a 0.3 percent rate confirms what Americans already knew: the economy is shrinking. Barack Obama would accelerate this dangerous course. According to the independent Center for Data Analysis, Barack Obama's new policies will destroy nearly 6 million jobs over the next decade.

"Barack Obama's ideologically-driven plans to redistribute income will impose higher taxes on families, small businesses, and investors; expensive, rigid, job-killing health mandates on employers; energy policies that fail to promote domestic oil, natural gas, and coal, and will impose a massive Washington-driven regulation of everything from home furnaces to factories; isolationist trade policies that endanger one out of every five jobs; and massive new spending plans that that will burden the economy and saddle our children with debt. Barack Obama is change Americans cannot afford.

"John McCain's comprehensive reforms will clean up Wall Street, clean up Washington, and create nearly 2 million more jobs over the same period. John McCain offers a new direction and a real choice: lower taxes and under control spending; lower health care costs and portable insurance; an energy policy that declares independence from dangerous and unstable sources, values the environment, and supports growth; serious reforms to taxes, education, and trade to promote global competitiveness, and short-run plans to help the seniors, savers, homeowners, and workers hurt by the financial crisis."

Cynthia McKinney is the Green Party presidential nominee and Rosa Clemente is her running mate. Her campaign website is down.

Cynthia McKinney / Rosa ClementeCynthia McKinney & Rosa Clemente for President and Vice President
The Green Party is no longer the
Vote Truth
Cynthia McKinney

That's from the Green Party website and we'll note this on Cynthia and immigration.

A Presidential Candidate Who Gets It on Immigration

Posted by Roger Snyder | October 29, 2008

(From The Sanctuary)

A Presidential Candidate Who Gets It on Immigration - Cynthia McKinney Responds to Sanctuary Survey
by: The Sanctuary Editors

With a week until Election Day, Green Party presidential candidate Cynthia McKinney today released a comprehensive and thoughtful response to The Sanctuary’s questionnaire on immigration and issues of concern to the Latino community.

Showing the vitality and importance of voices from outside the mainstream two-party political paradigm, Congresswoman McKinney puts forth not only a strong understanding of the complexities of these issues, but also a vision of real-world solutions. Her refreshing willingness to confront the broader social and economic realities which undergird international migration further demonstrates that practical solutions will not come from political compromises and “bipartisan” gamesmanship, but rather from rigorously-grounded assessment and analysis.

Simply put, McKinney gets it right.

While Senator Obama was gracious enough to take the time to respond to our survey, his answers still left something to be desired. In important ways, the language of the vision he presented is based upon many of the same failed systems and policies that have mired the debate from the start.

Senator McCain on the other hand has refused to respond to our survey or even answer our phone calls. Instead, he has crafted his message according to his intended audience of the moment, telling Latinos and others concerned about immigration that they should trust his past record of seeking reform, while repudiating that record when speaking to his conservative base.

Given these choices, it’s clear that McKinney presents the only meaningful and truly comprehensive approach to this issue. Let’s hope that in the future, voices like hers get the attention they deserve and a chance to break through the political din.

Read more at The Sanctuary

Cynthia was in Chicago this week and Mike Rhee (WBEZ, link has audio) quotes her explaining, "The moment you stop giving your vote to political entities and candidates who don't reflect your values is the moment you stand up for the America that we all can imagine." As noted earlier this week, today Cynthia goes to Texas:

Mckinney to Visit Texas Communities
Friday, 24 October 2008 22:30

For Immediate Release:
Thursday, October 23, 2008

kat swift, co-chair, cell 210-471-1791,

Thomas Muhammad, Co-Chair, 214-460-7672,

Presidential Candidate's Texas Visit Brings Communities Back to into the White House Discussion

GALVESTON, TX -- 40 days after Ike and one week from today,
Presidential Campaign Team McKinney/Clemente will tour Tejas
beginning with the devastation in Galveston & Houston.

"Our plight has been overshadowed by the election and the economy.
I had been supporting Barack Obama, but I am getting more and more
disillusioned with the Democratic party altogether." - a native
Galvestonian, recently told the Power to the People Campaign.
"Seventy percent of the homes here were destroyed and this is a town
of sixty thousand people. That's a lot of votes..."

Cynthia McKinney, former Congresswoman who lead the investigation
into the federal government response to Hurricane Katrina, will be
in Galveston for a Press Conference on Thursday, October 30th. A
follow-up Press Release will give specifics.

Beginning 10 days after Hurricane Katrina ravaged parts of the
south, Rosa Clemente provided on the ground reporting as an
independent journalist to independent radio stations and mainstream
media outlets all over the world. Friday, October 31st she will
travel to Galveston.

Cynthia McKinney and Rosa Clemente seeking election to the White
House in 2008. On October 30th and 31st, voters in Texas will hear
what these women have to say about current issues impacting our
local communities and those that continue to be put on the back
burner during every election season - class struggle, the prison
industrial complex, media justice, gentrification, a just
immigration policy, police brutality, war crimes and impeachment
proceedings being levied on those responsible in high office, and
addressing the Palestinian perspective in the Middle East.

Rounding out their Tejas Tour, Rosa Clemente speaks in San Anto Oct
30th at Ruta Maya Cafe and at HallowGreen in Houston, Oct 31 at the
Houston Institute for Culture. Cynthia McKinney will be speaking at
the S.H.A.P.E. Center in Houston, October 30th, be interviewed Oct.
31st on on KHVN-AM Radio (97.0) from 12-1PM, and participate in a
free, public Candidate Forum in Plano, Oct 31, at the MAS Youth


Location of Events:

S.H.A.P.E. Center at 3815 Live Oak, Houston, 77004 at 7 pm.
Houston Institute for Culture at 708B Telephone Rd., Houston, next
door to Bohemio's, 7pm
MAS Youth Center, 740 F Ave, Plano, 75074, 8-10pm
Ruta Maya Riverwalk Cafe, 107 E. Martin St., San Antonio 78205

For further details:

In Dallas/Ft.Worth area:
Thomas Muhammad, 214-460-7672,

In San Antonio:
kat swift, 210-471-1791,

In Houston/Galveston:
Don Cook, 713-705-5594,
Green Party of Texas,

Recovery efforts in Galveston: Operation H.E.A.R.T. (Helping
Everyone Achieve Recovery Together) at San Jacinto Elementary. They
are accepting donations of all kinds of things, especially school
supplies, backpacks, clothing, etc. All money and items go directly
to Galveston students and their families. The center is open M-F
from 9-4.

For more Power to the People campaign information:

Digg "Rosa Clemente" & "Cynthia McKinney"

Cynthia McKinney on video
here, here, BreakTheMatrix here, Democracy Now! here, music video here

Rosa Clemente on video
- Interview: Current TV/Rock the Vote

- Clips from recent NYC lecture:
here, here, here

~ E N D ~

The e-mail address for this site is

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