Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Democracy Now: David Corn, Dr. Mona El-Farra, Chris McGreal and Michael Jacobson

Global Military Spending Tops $1.1 Trillion; U.S. Spends $1,600 Per Capita
Global military spending has reached a new record high of over $1.1 trillion dollars. The United States accounted for nearly half of the world's military spending. According to the report by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, the United States spent $1,600 on its military for every American. Meanwhile China spent just $31 per person. India spent less than $19 per person. The study also determined that military spending is actually decreasing in Europe with the biggest cuts recorded in England and Spain.

Israeli Air Strike Kills Nine in Gaza
Earlier today an Israeli air strike in Gaza killed as many as nine Palestinians including two children. According to the Israeli newspaper seven of the dead were civilians and two were members of the militant group Islamic Jihad. The Israel Defense Forces claimed that the militants were on their way to fire rockets at Israel. Yasser Abed Rabbo, of the Palestinian Legislative Council condemned the Israeli missile strike: "This is an attempt by Israel to create the cycle of violence and to attract retaliation from the Palestinian armed group. We think that this cycle of violence is not in the interest of any party."

U.S. Refuses to Close Guantanamo
Meanwhile the Bush administration is once again rejecting calls to shut down the Guantanamo Bay prison following the suicide of three men on Saturday.

  • State Department spokesperson Sean McCormack: "Look, we have no desire to be the world's jailers. We look forward to the day at some point where it would close down but the fact of the matter is that right now it houses some very dangerous people who right now are not only a threat to American citizens but other people around the world."
Meanwhile in Washington, the Center for Constitutional Rights held a press conference condemning the administration's treatment of detainees at the military base.
  • Attorney Gitanjali Gutierrez: "It does seem that the administration will continue to try and put a spin on this when I think it's very simple and very clear what happened. We are holding human beings in indefinite detention, with complete uncertainty about their fate, under conditions that are stressful and oppressive. There is a reason why our constitution ensures the rule of habeas corpus, there is a reason why the magna carter incorporates the rights to challenge imprisonment by the king and its because that kind of detention leads to the exact results we saw this weekend, a kind of desperation and futility that would make someone rather die that continue to be held like that."
UK Police Release Two Men Nabbed in Terror Raid
In Britain, a group of Islamic organizations are condemning Scotland Yard's handing of last week's terror raid in east London. On June, 250 officers raided the homes of two brothers of Bangladeshi ancestry at four in the morning. At the time the police accused the men of plotting a chemical weapons attack. One of the brothers, Mohammed Abdul Kahar, was shot during the raid. Both men were held for a week, interrogated and then freed without charge after police failed to find any evidence to hold them. Human rights attorney Gareth Pierce said the family would be launching a legal action for damages against the police commissioner.

Unions Oppose Nomination of Mining Exec to Head MSHA
The Senate is expected to vote as early as today on the nomination of Richard Stickler to head the Mine Safety and Health Administration. The United Mineworkers and AFL-CIO has opposed his nomination of the former coal industry executive. Mineworkers President Cecil Roberts said "Too often these mining executives place priority on productivity, but fail to focus on miners' health and safety." According to the United Mineworkers the mines Stickler managed from 1989 to 1996 had injury rates that were double the national average. Union leaders have also criticized Stickler for declining to endorse new mine safety rules. This included those passed by the West Virginia Legislature in January following the Sago explosion that killed 12 miners.

The above five items are from today's Democracy Now! Headlines and were selected by Eli, Brad, Nora, Nolanda and Durham Gal. Democracy Now! ("always informing you," as Marcia says):

Headlines for June 13, 2006

- Report: Karl Rove Won't Be Indicted in CIA Leak Case
- Israeli Air Strike Kills Nine in Gaza
- U.S. Requests Court Throw Out NSA Spy Lawsuit
- 18 Killed In Five Car Bombings in Kirkuk
- Autopsy: Zarqawi Stayed Alive for 52 Minutes After Strike
- Global Military Spending Tops $1.1 Trillion
- Religious Leaders Call on U.S. To Abolish Torture
- U.S. Refuses to Close Guantanamo
- Unions Oppose Nomination of Mining Exec to Head MSHA

Federal Prosecutors Decide Not to Indict Karl Rove in CIA Leak Case

Federal prosecutors have decided not to charge President Bush's top advisor Karl Rove with any crimes in the outing of CIA operative Valerie Plame. The prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald has made no official statement but Rove's attorney said early this morning that Fitzgerald announced the decision in a letter to him on Monday.

Gaza Physician, British Journalist Refute Reported Israeli Military Investigation that Clears IDF, Blames Hamas for Deadly Beach Attack

Nine Palestinians, including two children, have been killed in an Israeli air strike in Gaza Tuesday. We go to Gaza to speak with a reporter for the London Independent as well as a Palestinian physician who was at the hospital that received many of the victims of Friday's deadly explosion on a beach in Northern Gaza that left eight Palestinians dead. The two contradict the reported findings of an Israel Defense Forces panel that concludes the IDF was not responsible for Friday's bombing.

"Confronting Confinement": Bi-Partisan Commission Criticizes Size, Conditions and Racial Make-Up of U.S. Prison System

The Commission on Safety and Abuse in America's Prisons argues the country's prison system has fallen victim to overcrowding; overzealous incarceration; abuse; unaccountability and inadequate health care. Among its recommendations are to dramatically reduce the use of physical force and prisoner segregation. It also calls on expanding prisoner access to Medicare and Medicaid.

Iraq snapshot.

In the United States, Suzanne Swift was arrested Sunday. Swift, 21, served one tour of duty in Iraq. The military listed her as AWOL. Sarah Rich, Swift's mother, has stated, "she went to Iraq once and she was my hero she decided not to back and she's even more my hero."

Meanwhile in Iraq, it's time for another quick photo-op as Bully Boy primps in the Green Zone. As Sandra Lupien noted on KPFA's The Morning Show, Bully Boy "flew eleven hours to spend less than five hours." Lupien also noted that "Today's visit is Bush's second since the invasion" referring to his Nov. 2003 Thanksgiving visit which was "confined to the airport and limited to several hours." The visit, which is sure to provide distraction and suck up real news time, was unannounced -- with occupation puppet Nouri al-Maliki being given only five minutes notice. As Aaron Glatnz declared to Andrea Lewis and Philip Maldari, also on today's KPFA's The Morning Show,"It doesn't change anything."

Glantz, journalist and author (How America Lost Iraq), was speaking of Zarqawi's death, but may as well have been speaking of Bully Boy's latest publicity stunt. As Glantz noted, "15,000 Iraqis in prison without charges, no electricity . . . water" -- that's reality. Andrea Lewis asked why the electricity was still now workable (over three years after the illegal invasion was launched). Glantz explained, "Your tax dollar is not going into rebuilding Iraq. It's going to the military and Haliburton . . . 100 million is going to build a new prison."

CNN's Nic Robertson took a look at the business of war. Robertson found that "private military contractors are earning billions of dollars in Iraq -- much of it from U.S. taxpayers" and that business is so good for Blackwater that it's expanded with a new headquarters in North Carolina.

War's good for the financial profits of some and for Bully Boy photo ops within the safety of the Green Zone, it's not good for Iraqis or American forces. Yesterday, the official fatality count for American troops was eight away from 2,500 and today the number stands at 2,497 -- three away. The number of Iraqis?

As Patrick Cockburn (Independent of London) noted on yesterday's Flashpoints, no numbers, only estimates/guesses. (My own? Half a million. And Rebecca noted Cockburn's appearance here.) Deaths when covered often come with vague details. Last month, Nabiha Nisaif Jassim, thirty-five and pregnant, was killed along with Saliha Mohammed Hassan as Nabiha's brother attempted to drive her to the hospital. Reporting for IPS, Dahr Jamail and Arkan Hamed have found those who dispute the official press releases. A human rights investigator maintains "that both women were shot in the back of the head by U.S. snipers." Redam Nisaif Jassim, brother of Nabiha and driver of the car, states "The Americans offered me 5,000 dollars" but he declined.

Not even photo-ops stop reality so the chaos and violence continued across Iraq. All the usual features of the illegal occupation were present today. Corpses discovered? In Baghdad, the Irish Examiner reports that eight corpses were found. The AFP reports: "A professor at the College of Engineering was shot dead" and that the corpse count had climbed to fourteen ("shot . . . signs of torture"). Reuters identified the professor: Muthana Harith Jassim. CNN identified him as Hani Aref Jassim.

Car bombs and roadside bombs went off throughout Iraq. In the most noted incident, Kirkuk saw several explosions. Among the sites targeted in Kirkuk, the Associated Press notes "an insititute for the disabled." The AFP estimates the day's death toll to be "[a]t least 32 people" throughout Iraq while CBS and the AP estimate that it was "more than 50" were killed today. The Telegraph reports that bombings also took place "in Mosul, Tall Afar and Baghdad."

Attacks on police? Many. Two, noted by Reuters, were in Kut where one was killed (two wounded) and in Kerbala which took the life of "a police captain and wounded 2 of his bodyguards." CNN notes one police officer killed ("five others wounded") in Baghdad.

Wednesday will mark the much touted occupation puppet's attempt at a "crackdown" on Baghdad. The Associated Press reports that "tens of thousands of Iraqi and multinational forces" will be "securing roads, launching raids against insurgent hideouts and calling in airstrikes" Expect more chaos and violence for Wednesday.

Meanwhile, questions are being asked regarding the statements of Dermot Ahern, Minister for Foreign Affiars of Ireland. As RTE News reports, Ahren has stated that the civilian aircraft "carrying a US marine who was in military custody" which landed at Shannon Aircraft did so without "the consent of the Irish Government." Questions also exist as to the identity of the US marine, why he or she was being transported through Shannen, and why he or she was in "military custody."

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