Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Operation Bite: April 6 sneak attack by US forces against Iran planned, Russian military sources warn

Editor's note: I am moving to post at the secondary blog(also see new articles below).


By Webster G. Tarpley
Online Journal Contributing Writer

Mar 26, 2007, 01:02

WASHINGTON DC, -- The long awaited US military attack on Iran is now on track for the first week of April, specifically for 4 am on April 6, the Good Friday opening of Easter weekend, writes the well-known Russian journalist Andrei Uglanov in the Moscow weekly “Argumenty Nedeli.” Uglanov cites Russian military experts close to the Russian General Staff for his account.

The attack is slated to last for 12 hours, according to Uglanov, from 4 am until 4 pm local time. Friday is the sabbath in Iran. In the course of the attack, code named Operation Bite, about 20 targets are marked for bombing; the list includes uranium enrichment facilities, research centers, and laboratories.

The first reactor at the Bushehr nuclear plant, where Russian engineers are working, is supposed to be spared from destruction. The US attack plan reportedly calls for the Iranian air defense system to be degraded, for numerous Iranian warships to be sunk in the Persian Gulf, and for the most important headquarters of the Iranian armed forces to be wiped out.

The attacks will be mounted from a number of bases, including the island of Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean. Diego Garcia is currently home to B-52 bombers equipped with standoff missiles. Also participating in the air strikes will be US naval aviation from aircraft carriers in the Persian Gulf, as well as from those of the Sixth Fleet in the Mediterranean. Additional cruise missiles will be fired from submarines in the Indian Ocean and off the coast of the Arabian peninsula. The goal is allegedly to set back Iran’s nuclear program by several years, writes Uglanov, whose article was reissued by RIA-Novosti in various languages, but apparently not English, several days ago. The story is the top item on numerous Italian and German blogs, but so far appears to have been ignored by US websites.

Observers comment that this dispatch represents a high-level orchestrated leak from the Kremlin, in effect a war warning, which draws on the formidable resources of the Russian intelligence services, and which deserves to be taken with the utmost seriousness by pro-peace forces around the world.

Asked by RIA-Novosti to comment on the Uglanov report, retired Colonel General Leonid Ivashov confirmed its essential features in a March 21 interview: “I have no doubt that there will be an operation, or more precisely a violent action against Iran.” Ivashov, who has reportedly served at various times as an informal advisor to Russian President Vladimir Putin, is currently the vice president of the Moscow Academy for Geopolitical Sciences.

Ivashov attributed decisive importance to the decision of the Democratic leadership of the US House of Representatives to remove language from the just-passed Iraq supplemental military appropriations bill that would have demanded that Bush come to Congress before launching an attack on Iran. Ivashov pointed out that the language was eliminated under pressure from AIPAC, the lobbing group representing the Israeli extreme right, and from Israeli Foreign Minister Tsipi Livni.

“We have drawn the unmistakable conclusion that this operation will take place,” said Ivashov. In his opinion, the US planning does not include a land operation: “ Most probably there will be no ground attack, but rather massive air attacks with the goal of annihilating Iran’s capacity for military resistance, the centers of administration, the key economic assets, and quite possibly the Iranian political leadership, or at least part of it,” he continued.

Ivashov noted that it was not to be excluded that the Pentagon would use smaller tactical nuclear weapons against targets of the Iranian nuclear industry. These attacks could paralyze everyday life, create panic in the population, and generally produce an atmosphere of chaos and uncertainty all over Iran, Ivashov told RIA-Novosti. “This will unleash a struggle for power inside Iran, and then there will be a peace delegation sent in to install a pro-American government in Teheran,” Ivashov continued. One of the US goals was, in his estimation, to burnish the image of the current Republican administration, which would now be able to boast that they had wiped out the Iranian nuclear program.

Among the other outcomes, General Ivashov pointed to a partition of Iran along the same lines as Iraq, and a subsequent carving up of the Near and Middle East into smaller regions. “This concept worked well for them in the Balkans and will now be applied to the greater Middle East,” he commented.

“Moscow must exert Russia’s influence by demanding an emergency session of the United Nations Security Council to deal with the current preparations for an illegal use of force against Iran and the destruction of the basis of the United Nations Charter,” said General Ivashov. “In this context Russia could cooperate with China, France and the non-permanent members of the Security Council. We need this kind of preventive action to ward off the use of force,” he concluded.


Webster G. Tarpley is a journalist. Among other works, he has published an investigation on the manipulation of the Red Brigades by the Vatican’s P2 Suite and the assassination of Aldo Moro, a non-authorized biography of George H. Bush, and more recently an analysis of the methods used to perpetrate the September 11, 2001 attacks.

Copyright © 1998-2007 Online Journal
Email Online Journal Editor

Patriot Act Debacle


By Gary Aldrich
March 28, 2007

The FBI has recently issued a new set of guidelines to agents regarding the authority granted to this powerful law-enforcement agency under the Patriot Act. The guidelines were prompted by a recent investigation by the inspector general's office of the Department of Justice to determine if there had been abuses stemming from these fairly severe law changes.

The investigation found that there have been more than 3,000 instances of agents improperly obtaining phone or other records of those they suspected of breaking the law or engaging in terrorist activity. But, these improprieties were predictable the moment President Bush signed the Patriot Act into law.

Concerns voiced by many protectors of personal liberty, such as former Rep. Bob Barr of Georgia, were downplayed or ignored altogether in favor of feel-good reassurances from the proponents of big government who claimed rigorous oversight and tightly written policies would serve to protect our rights.

"Perfect" or even "near-perfect" in any federal agency will never exist, even in the vaunted FBI. Well-intentioned agents are people, too. No matter how careful FBI agents try to be, mistakes are often made by those who have simply misunderstood the complicated instructions.
The only "perfect" in a discussion about our personal freedoms is the freedom itself. Liberty and the foundational concepts that fathered the belief that liberty exists for all of mankind are the standards, and everything else falls short of perfection. Liberty is the jewel, as Patrick Henry stated. Everything else is mere setting, or decoration.

The Founding Fathers knew this and wrote our Constitution to set aside those precious rights that should never be compromised. To put a finer point on it, they added a Bill of Rights for those who needed plainer English. The message: The government has no right to take the liberty or freedom of a single innocent citizen.

Sadly, too many would set liberty aside in times of terror and war, to be able to protect innocent lives; thus we have the Patriot Act. Another problem with this law is that it was fashioned by Congress. Any document that comes out of that rendering plant is guaranteed to be imperfect. Consider the current legislation that is supposed to fund the war on terror. It is riddled with pork-barrel spending projects which have nothing to do with national security, totaling billions of dollars.

If Congress can do this to a war-funding budget, then how can we be convinced that the Patriot Act only impacts the rights of terrorists? Alas, the Patriot Act was also used to address other criminal activity unrelated to terrorism. As the Patriot Act was being cobbled together, interested parties, including federal agencies who were seeking to "fix" a multitude of impediments to enforcement, lined up to lobby for their favorite issue.

Today the FBI can enter your home, search around, and doesn't ever have to tell you it was there. You could be perfectly innocent, yet federal agents can go through your most personal effects.

When considering new laws, a test of impact on liberty should be required. We obsess over the environment and demand an impact study before we allow construction projects to move forward. Do we consider our liberty to be worth less than a snail or a rodent?

The federal government does not have even one small agency that spends a minute to discover new or expanded rights for our citizens. There is no agency whose mission is to find and discard unneeded laws, each one having some impact on liberty.

How foolish to assume that any branch of the federal government is watching out for our freedoms. Today the federal government serves somebody's idea of a utopian collective good. Patrick Henry's style of plainspoken English has been replaced by legalistic doubletalk that allows bureaucrats to trample our liberties. Freedom of speech and the freedom to bear arms are threatened. Any freedoms that may offend an aggrieved special-interest group are snatched away without regard to the future impact on our national character, such as the virtues of thinking independently or questioning authority.

Patrick Henry stood up for liberty when there was no constitution and at a time when he could have been hanged for speaking his mind. Surely we can stand up for our liberty today when the only risk to us is an angry stare from a big-government bureaucrat.

Gary Aldrich is a former FBI agent who served in the Clinton White House.

Israel and US elections

Countdown, March 27, 2007 - Vol. 8, #11 : Arab American Institute

When voters gave Democrats control of Congress in November, it was generally agreed they were expressing deep disenchantment with the war in Iraq. It was also generally agreed that they were not eager to start a war with Iran. Salon reports that "AIPAC showed its true power-and its continuing ability to steer American Mideast policy in a disastrous direction-when a group of conservative and pro-Israel Democrats succeeded in removing language from a military appropriations bill that would have required Bush to get congressional approval before using military force against Iran."

America's former ambassador to the United Nations boasted to the BBC that he was "'damned proud of what we did' to prevent an early ceasefire" during Israel's assault on Lebanon last summer. In an interview for a BBC radio documentary, "The Summer War in Lebanon," Bolton also described Israel's goal of "defeating their enemy militarily" as "perfectly legitimate...and good politics." America's former ambassador to the United Nations boasted to the BBC that he was "'damned proud of what we did' to prevent an early ceasefire" during Israel's assault on Lebanon last summer. In an interview for a BBC radio documentary, "The Summer War in Lebanon," Bolton also described Israel's goal of "defeating their enemy militarily" as "perfectly legitimate...and good politics."

The Israeli daily Haaretz is weighing in on the 2008 presidential race with an ongoing feature called "The Israel Factor" which rates the candidates' Israel-friendliness. The overwhelming winner (and the only candidate who wins the panel's unanimous praise) is former NYC Mayor Rudy Giuliani. Former House Speaker New Gingrich (R), Senators John McCain (R-AZ) and Hillary Clinton (D-NY) and New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson (D) round out the top five. When asked what makes a candidate "good for Israel," the answers are revealing: "He can deal in a realistic way with the conflicts of Middle East; he will not be overly susceptible to world opinion; he is ready to use force when necessary; he knows Israel and its problems; he will make sure not to pressure Israel into making concessions that will leave it with indefensible borders; he will take into account the interests of Israel as he formulates his Middle East policy; he is emotionally attached to Israel and the things it represents, and is pro-Zionist; he is well connected within the American Jewish community."

Israel and US elections

Countdown, March 27, 2007 - Vol. 8, #11 : Arab American Institute

When voters gave Democrats control of Congress in November, it was generally
agreed they were expressing deep disenchantment with the war in Iraq. It was
also generally agreed that they were not eager to start a war with Iran. Salon
reports that "AIPAC showed its true power-and its continuing ability to steer
American Mideast policy in a disastrous direction-when a group of conservative
and pro-Israel Democrats succeeded in removing language from a military
appropriations bill that would have required Bush to get congressional approval
before using military force against Iran."

America's former ambassador to the United Nations boasted to the BBC that he was
"'damned proud of what we did' to prevent an early ceasefire" during Israel's
assault on Lebanon last summer. In an interview for a BBC radio documentary,
"The Summer War in Lebanon," Bolton also described Israel's goal of "defeating
their enemy militarily" as "perfectly legitimate...and good politics."
America's former ambassador to the United Nations boasted to the BBC that he was
"'damned proud of what we did' to prevent an early ceasefire" during Israel's
assault on Lebanon last summer. In an interview for a BBC radio documentary,
"The Summer War in Lebanon," Bolton also described Israel's goal of "defeating
their enemy militarily" as "perfectly legitimate...and good politics."

The Israeli daily Haaretz is weighing in on the 2008 presidential race with an
ongoing feature called "The Israel Factor" which rates the candidates'
Israel-friendliness. The overwhelming winner (and the only candidate who wins
the panel's unanimous praise) is former NYC Mayor Rudy Giuliani. Former House
Speaker New Gingrich (R), Senators John McCain (R-AZ) and Hillary Clinton (D-NY)
and New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson (D) round out the top five. When asked
what makes a candidate "good for Israel," the answers are revealing: "He can
deal in a realistic way with the conflicts of Middle East; he will not be overly
susceptible to world opinion; he is ready to use force when necessary; he knows
Israel and its problems; he will make sure not to pressure Israel into making
concessions that will leave it with indefensible borders; he will take into
account the interests of Israel as he formulates his Middle East policy; he is
emotionally attached to Israel and the things it represents, and is pro-Zionist;
he is well connected within the American Jewish community."

"This Isn't American Idol, We're Choosing the President of the United States" - Kucinich on Corporate Media Campaign Coverage

Wednesday, March 28th, 2007

Listen to Segment || Download Show mp3
Watch 128k stream Watch 256k stream

Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D - OH) was one of eight Congressmembers to vote against the House war-spending bill last week that set a timetable for the withdrawal of troops from Iraq. We go to Capitol Hill to speak with Kucinich about the bill, why he thinks impeachment "should be on the table," the corporate media's coverage of the race for the Democratic presidential nomination and more. [rush transcript included]
On Capitol Hill the Democratic-led Senate has moved closer to passing a war-spending bill that will give President Bush $100 billion more for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and also require U.S. combat troops to begin withdrawing from Iraq.

On Tuesday Republican lawmakers attempted to pass an amendment removing the troop withdrawal plan from the bill. But the amendment was defeated by a 50 to 48 vote after Republican Senator Chuck Hagel of Nebraska voted with the Democrats on the measure.

President Bush has vowed to veto the legislation if it includes a timetable for withdrawal. Meanwhile, anti-war activists continue to pressure lawmakers to reject the bill as well because it allows for the war to continue for another year.

In Burlington Vermont, police arrested eight protesters yesterday after they refused to leave the offices of independent Sen. Bernie Sanders. Sanders has been a long-time opponent of the war but supports the spending bill.

Sanders said it would be counterproductive to vote against the spending bill. He said, "That would mean voting with the Bush Administration and congressional Republicans and handing a victory to those who want to continue and perhaps expand the war into neighboring countries."

Last week eight anti-war Democrats voted against the supplemental spending bill when it came before the House. One of those lawmakers, Congressman Dennis Kucinich of Ohio, joins us from Capitol Hill. Congressman Kucinich is also running for the Democratic presidential nomination.

  • Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D - OH)


AMY GOODMAN: Last week, eight anti-war Democrats voted against the supplemental spending bill when it came before the house. One of those lawmakers, Congress member Dennis Kucinich of Ohio, joins us from Capitol Hill. Congress member Kucinich is also running for the Democratic Presidential nomination. We welcome you to Democracy Now!, Congressman Kucinich.

REP. DENNIS KUCINICH: Good morning Amy.

AMY GOODMAN: Good to have you with us. First of all, as you stand overlooking the capitol, talk about your vote against the war funding bill.

REP. DENNIS KUCINICH: Well, we were given false choices. We were told that we either buy into president Bush's plan, which is keep the war going indefinitely, or accept the Democratic version of the war in Iraq, which would keep the war going for another year or two. I say those choices weren't sufficient.

The Democrats could have refused to send a bill forward. We didn't have to fund this war. We're not under any obligation to keep the war going. And yet our leaders took another path. Furthermore, Amy, you may be interested to know that the 2008 budget, which is before Congress today and will be voted on tomorrow, contains another $145 billion for the war, and on top of that, they're putting another $50 billion for the war in fiscal year 2009.

So this talk about ending the war by March or by September belies the fact that the budget has money in it to keep the war going into 2009. And I think that's wrong. I think the American people will reject that type of thinking, and I’m standing strong to say get out now. I put forth a plan embodied in HR 1234. To accomplish just that.

AMY GOODMAN: But what do you say to those make the argument that if president Bush has on his desk a bill that gives money, gives a fortune in continuing the war, and he has to veto it because he doesn't like the timetable, that this puts him in a very difficult position?

REP. DENNIS KUCINICH: Our decisions have to be way above politics. We have the lives of our troops at stake here. There's no military victory in Iraq. We're there illegally. The occupation is fueling the insurgency. Democrats can still, after president Bush vetoes the bill, which he will, Democrats can still take the right position, which is refuse to fund the war, use money in the pipeline to bring the troops home.

AMY GOODMAN: What about the pressure from the leadership, the Democratic Party, from the House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, all of the stories going around of Congress members voting for the funding so that they could help out the spinach farmers, etc.?

REP. DENNIS KUCINICH: On matters of war and peace, I think people have to vote their conscience. I can say I wasn't pressured.

AMY GOODMAN: But what about those that were, and what about the spending bill going way beyond funding wars?

REP. DENNIS KUCINICH: It's a legitimate concern. I mean, if you're for peace, you vote for peace. If you're for peace, you don't vote for war because somebody's giving you a plum in a bill that's designed to keep a war going. I think the American people want new leadership which understands that if you're for peace, you vote for peace, you don't fund wars.

And so I’m moving forward with a plan, it's embodied in HR 1234 that would stop the funding and the occupation, close the bases, bring the troops home, and set in motion a parallel process that would stabilize Iraq with the help of the international community, which will only help, by the way, unless, you know, if the United States takes a new course and ends the occupation.

So my plan envisions that America will take a new direction. What's happening right now, Amy, is we're looking in this budget, and people, and Democrats that look at this budget today are going to be surprised to find out that our leaders are proposing keeping the war going into 2009.

AMY GOODMAN: Let me play a clip of you, of House Speaker -- for you, of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi pushing for the passage of the supplemental spending bill. This was her comment after the bill passed.

    HOUSE SPEAKER NANCY PELOSI: Proudly this new Congress voted to bring an end to the war in Iraq. It took one great, giant step in that direction. We voted “NO” to giving a blank check to an open-ended commitment, a war without end, to the President of the United States, and “Yes” to begin the end of the war and the redeployment of our troops.

AMY GOODMAN: I then want to play for you a clip of President Bush. President Bush's comment after the House passed the spending bill last week.

    PRESIDENT BUSH: This bill has too much pork, too many conditions, and an artificial timetable for withdrawal. As I made clear for weeks, I will veto if it comes to my desk. And because the vote in the House was so close, it is clear that my veto would be sustained. Today's action in the House does only one thing, it delays the delivery of vital resources for our troops.

AMY GOODMAN: Congress member Dennis Kucinich, your response.

REP. DENNIS KUCINICH: Well, the Democrats' position should have been and can still be, that we refuse to fund the war, that we don't give this president a dime to keep the war going, that we use money in the pipeline to bring the troops home and set in motion a parallel process that would secure Iraq. We're under no obligation to keep this war going.

But I would say, Amy, that if you look at the budget, which is facing Congress tomorrow, it provides not only $145 billion for fiscal year ‘08 for the war, for all of it, but another $50 billion for fiscal year 2009. I wonder how that squares with Democratic leaders' position that they want to bring the troops home in March or in September of next year. There's something that's contradictory here.

So I’m going to try to see if I can reconcile that today in Congress by talking to leadership and alerting my fellow members that money is in the budget to keep this war going past President Bush's term. President Bush has been very clear. He's going to keep this war going through the end of his term. I say that American should get out now, that it's not a choice between President Bush or keeping the war going another year, year and a half. We need to get out now, and we need to let the troops know we truly support them, by bringing them home.

AMY GOODMAN: Congressman Kucinich, what would getting out now look like? I mean, do you mean, for example, today, you begin the process, and when would the soldiers be home if -- well, if you were president, Dennis Kucinich?

REP. DENNIS KUCINICH: I crafted my plan with the help of the people at the UN, and I will tell you that they say that it would take about two months, three months to mobilize a sufficient force that would replace US Troops leaving. So I say two to three months we could have troops home and have an international force that would help stabilize Iraq. But the international community will not become involved as long as the United States intends to occupy Iraq and keep bases open. So we need to take a new direction.

My plan would be as follows: to put in place the provisions of HR 1234, which ends the occupation, closes the bases, sets in motion a plan to bring the troops home, bring in international peacekeepers, and stop the privatization of Iraq oil. One of the things in the bill that passed the House was a demand that the Iraq government pass a hydrocarbon act which sets the stage for broad privatization of trillions of dollars of Iraqi oil interests.

Now, think about it. If Democrats had told the American people last October that if you vote democrat in November, we'll not only give you enough money to keep the war going through the end of President Bush's term, but we'll also privatize the oil of Iraq and then help the US oil companies win the prize that I think the war was all about from the very beginning. I don't think the people would have voted Democrat. So Democrats have to keep faith with the American people.

My plan would do that, by returning full control of the Iraqi oil assets to the Iraqi people. Put in motion a plan for reconciliation between Shiites, Sunnis, and Kurds, which cannot happen as long as the United States occupies. Provide for honest reconstruction, you know, none of these contractors from the US can be there. They've stolen money from the Iraqi people and also from the US taxpayers.

We have to give the Iraqi people jobs with Iraqi contractors doing the work. We have to provide for reparations so that we can pay money to the Iraqi people who have lost their homes or lost the lives of loved ones. We have to stabilize energy and food prices. And when Iraq goes to the international community, make sure that Iraq doesn't suffer from the structural readjustment provisions of the IMF or the World Bank.

AMY GOODMAN: Your response, Congress member Kucinich to Halliburton saying they're moving to Dubai?

REP. DENNIS KUCINICH: Well, I think the honest thing would be to have a good Attorney General call Halliburton in and start the questioning of them about their conduct, and I think that they should not be immune from prosecution simply because they're moving to Dubai.

AMY GOODMAN: We continue with Dennis Kucinich from Ohio, Democratic Presidential hopeful. He is standing right outside the Capitol right now. You mentioned Attorney General Alberto Gonzales. What do you think should happen to him?

REP. DENNIS KUCINICH: It's very clear that the Justice Department has become so politicized that it cannot function in the interests of the American people. The honorable thing would be for Mr. Gonzales to resign.

AMY GOODMAN: And if he doesn't resign, should he be fired? Should the President fire him?

REP. DENNIS KUCINICH: Well, I don't think that's going to happen. I think he's doing what the President has asked him to do. The question here is what's his sense of honor about his responsibility to the law and to the American people. That's going to be his decision.

AMY GOODMAN: Speaking of the President, what do you think should happen to President Bush? Nancy Pelosi, the House Speaker, said that impeachment is off the table. What are your thoughts?

REP. DENNIS KUCINICH: I don't think that it's wise for the House and the Congress, for co-equal branches of government, to essentially give the President carte blanche in his decision making by saying no matter what you do, impeachment is off the table. I think that impeachment has to be on the table, and I also think that it's time to have a national conversation in cities, in towns all over America about the appropriate conduct for a President and a Vice President, about whether it's right for a President and Vice President to lie to the American people and take us into war. About the erosion of civil rights in America and how that's come about as a result of this administration's conduct of the war.

I think that it's time to have that kind of a discussion, and I’ve urged that from my website at, and I’m asking to hear from people about what they think, and I think that we need to make sure that this President understands that he can't do whatever he wants, that he is bound by the constitution, that he is bound by national and international law.

AMY GOODMAN: Congressman Kucinich, you've mentioned the word treason. What do you mean?

REP. DENNIS KUCINICH: I don't think I mentioned the word treason.

AMY GOODMAN: Have you talked about President Bush and treason?

REP. DENNIS KUCINICH: No, I’ve never -- I never mentioned the word treason. I do think that accountability is a key word here. And I think the President and the Vice President must be held accountable. That's why I think it's a mistake for anyone to say impeachment is off the table. At the same time, we have to take a responsibility as members of Congress to uphold the constitution of the United States. That's our obligation as a co-equal branch of government.

So I’m waiting to hear from the American people. I would ask people who are listening or watching to go to my website at: I'd like to hear from you. What do you think? Should the House move forward with a resolution of impeachment and what do you think the dimensions of it should be? I want to hear from the American people on this.

AMY GOODMAN: What do you think of the Center for Constitutional Rights going to Germany to file a complaint against former Congress member -- or rather, former Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld? It's not only against him, it's against Alberto Gonzales, it's against General Sanchez and Miller for torture, over the issue of torture.

REP. DENNIS KUCINICH: I think that all members of this administration, including the President, the Vice President, and all the other officials you mentioned, should be held accountable under international law, and that that accountability does not expire with the expiration of the term of this President. America at some point is going to have to restore its moral equilibrium, which has been lost, because this administration took us into a war based on lies. They all have to be held accountable. They must be held accountable, not only under national, but international law.

AMY GOODMAN: When you came to the National Conference for Media Reform in Memphis, you talked about holding hearings around the FCC, heading up a committee that is responsible for the FCC, I think it's the Domestic Policy Subcommittee the House Oversight on Government Reform Committee. What do you plan to do?

REP. DENNIS KUCINICH: Well, our committee just started its work last week. The Domestic Policy Subcommittee has jurisdiction over the Federal Communications Commission. It's been 20 years since we’ve had and hearings at all on the Fairness Doctrine. It’s been a long time since Congress has held hearings on the concentration in the electronic media.

And so I want to proceed with hearings sometime in the next few months that would review the -- those animating principles of the FCC embodied in the Federal Communications Act of 1934, and that is that the electronic media shall serve in the public interest, convenience, and necessity. I want to hold that up and see if today's conditions corresponds to what it was that gave the public the inclination to cause electronic media to be licensed and if the licensees have kept faith with the American people.

AMY GOODMAN: Congress member Kucinich, you also just returned from New York, where you held a news conference on universal healthcare. How does your plan differ from, for example, Hillary Rodham Clinton, the New York Senator, also Democratic hopeful – Presidential hopeful, also said she supports universal healthcare.

REP. DENNIS KUCINICH: Well, it differs in every way. Everyone in this campaign is for universal healthcare. But what Senator Clinton, Senator Edwards, and others are talking about is having the insurance companies still in charge of healthcare, of having the government subsidize the insurance companies or forcing people to buy insurance or have the government subsidize the purchase of insurance.

Look, the President of the United States shouldn't be an insurance salesman. The President should stand for a position where everyone is covered, that's what my bill does. The Conyers-Kucinich Bill, HR 676, Medicare for all, it ends for-profit medicine, it is a single-payer system which recognizes we're spending $2.2 trillion a year on healthcare, but 31% of that, or $660 billion, goes for the activities of the for-profit system.

Take that money, put it into healthcare, and you have enough money to cover every medical need, including dental care, vision care, mental health, prescription drug, and long-term care. Healthcare is a right, it's not a privilege. Senator Clinton's plan helps the insurance companies, it keeps the for-profit system going, and my plan ends the for-profit system and uses the savings to provide healthcare for everyone.

AMY GOODMAN: What do you think of the media coverage of the Democratic Presidential race right now? A lot of attention on both Barack Obama and Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, Senator Obama and Clinton. Of course, last time you also ran for president, and there was a major issue the day after you took Ted Koppel to task at ABC for asking questions about polls and money as opposed to issues on your positions. The next day, the so-called embedded reporter in your campaign was pulled, the ABC reporter. What about the coverage now?

REP. DENNIS KUCINICH: My concern wasn't so much whether reporters were embedded in my campaign, as much as it was the fact that mainstream media reports were embedded with the war. But as far as my own campaign, look, I’m bringing issues forth to the American people. We're organizing in places like New Hampshire, where the Democratic Party just came out in favor of single-payer healthcare, not for profit. My campaign is about organizing door-to-door and grass roots fundraising, and people who want to get involved can go to and help us.

I'm not going to be on my knees begging for attention from the mainstream media. They have to realize that they have a responsibility as broadcast licensees to provide coverage to all the candidates. After all, this isn't "American idol", we're choosing a President of the United States. The American people have a right to a substantive discussion about those issues that affect their lives, such as war and peace, such as poverty and prosperity, healthcare for all, or keep the insurance companies in business in healthcare.

We need a new discussion, and I appreciate the chance to be on Democracy Now!, because I know your audience is an audience of people with principle, of activism, and I’m confident that when they hear what I stand for, they'll be interested in joining this campaign.

AMY GOODMAN: Finally, President Kucin -- finally, Congress member Kucinich, the men and women who have gone AWOL, there have been thousands of them, some are being court-martialed, like Lieutenant Aaron Witada will be court-martialed again. It was a mistrial in his first trial, first Officer to say no to war, to deployment to Iraq. What do you think should happen to these men? Augustine Aguayo, an Army medic who applied for CO status, didn't get it, and is now in prison in Germany. Do you support their saying “no”? Do you support their refusing to go to Iraq or redeploy to Iraq?

REP. DENNIS KUCINICH: I support the troops who serve and also those who don't feel it's right to serve. I think we have to ask our troops to be able to reserve the right of their conscience, and if they feel it's the right thing to go forward, then we support that. If they feel it's not the right thing, we should support that, too. I think we're in a point in the history of this country where many people have looked at the war and realized that it's wrong. Some of those people are soldiers. Soldiers are put in an impossible situation, not only those who are committed to serving in Iraq, but also those who know that the war is wrong and who question the war. I think we have to love our troops, whatever situation they find themselves in. And the way to support them is to bring them home.

AMY GOODMAN: Do you think they should be court-martialed?

REP. DENNIS KUCINICH: You know, I don't think that anyone who's taken a principles and conscientious position should be subject to a court-martial. They should be permitted to leave the service if they so desire, but not be forced through that kind of a process. I think, you know, there has to be an underlying truth here, and the underlying truth is the war was wrong, period. The war is based on lies. We should support our troops by bringing them home, and we should support those who have challenged the war by giving them a chance to leave honorably.

AMY GOODMAN: Congress member Kucinich, I want to thank you for joining us from the Capitol. Ohio Congress member and Democratic Presidential hopeful.


Pakistan's $4.2 Billion 'Blank Check' for U.S. Military Aid

After 9/11, funding to country soars with little oversight

By Nathaniel Heller, Sarah Fort and Marina Walker Guevara
Data analysis by Ben Welsh

WASHINGTON, March 27, 2007 — In the three years after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, U.S. military aid to Pakistan soared to $4.2 billion, compared to $9.1 million in the three years before the attacks — a 45,000 percent increase — boosting Pakistan to the top tier of countries receiving this type of funding.

More than half of the new money was provided through a post-9/11 Defense Department program — Coalition Support Funds — not closely tracked by Congress.


Pakistan's $4.2 Billion 'Blank Check' for U.S. Military Aid

After 9/11, funding to country soars with little oversight

By Nathaniel Heller, Sarah Fort and Marina Walker Guevara
Data analysis by Ben Welsh

WASHINGTON, March 27, 2007 — In the three years after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, U.S. military aid to Pakistan soared to $4.2 billion, compared to $9.1 million in the three years before the attacks — a 45,000 percent increase — boosting Pakistan to the top tier of countries receiving this type of funding.

More than half of the new money was provided through a post-9/11 Defense Department program — Coalition Support Funds — not closely tracked by Congress.


Legislators say it's time to quit Iraq


State House Bureau Chief
1 hour, 11 minutes ago

The New Hampshire House today voted 214-151 to call for withdrawal of American troops from Iraq.

The House resolution expresses support for the troops, opposes the surge of 20,000 troops into Iraq, calls for full funding of medical services to veterans, and for diplomatic talks to calm the region.

The resolution is a symbolic victory for war opponents. It does not bind the federal government or the state to take any action.

Most of the two-hour debate was not over whether to pass a resolution, but which of two versions to adopt.

The original version sponsored by Rep. James Splaine, D-Portsmouth, which passed, was the tougher of the two.

An amended version that emerged from committee called for withdrawal “upon task completion.” Critics said the change left the withdrawal question open-ended, and could leave American troops in place for years to come.

Those who fought the resolution said New Hampshire’s legislature is not the place for a debate on a foreign war. They also argued that calling for withdrawal would be a sign of weakness in the nation’s war on terrorism.

Minority Leader Michael Whalley, R-Alton, argued against the measure, saying it will hurt troops in the field.

“We will cause their pain to be greater than it would be otherwise,” he said.

“And for one brief moment we will give satisfaction to the enemy and they will feel one step closer to having beaten us.”

Many who spoke are veterans of the armed forces, but they were on opposing sides of the debate.

“We should be worried about what going on with criminals in our state, not with what’s going on in Iraq,” Rep. Alfred Baldasaro, R-Londonderry, said. “We need to finish what we started.” A call for withdrawal “is a black eye for our state,” the retired Marine said.

Rep. Paul McEachern, D-Portsmouth, a U.S. Navy veteran, said the war is a proper subject for the Legislature.

“It is appropriate that it be discussed here, because it is the town square of New Hampshire. We should debate this,” he said.

Rep. David Smith, D-Nashua, said the resolution only hurts service members in Iraq and their families.

“If you don’t’ like war in Iraq, what we do here won’t make a difference over there, but it might make a difference to these young men and women down the road.

“I suggest if you want to send a message, contact your congressman.”

Rep. Robert Perry, D-Strafford, said that members of the armed forces are dying at a rapid rate with no end in sight.

He said 3,103 have died in the war, “24 more than when I spoke here in this hall a week ago."

Splaine said the debate was not about disrespecting those serving in Iraq.

“This is about the brave men and women who are in the armed services and how we can use our smarts in this country to fight the war on terrorism in ways that make sense. We need to find a way to end this war,” he said.

Rep. Peter Schmidt, D-Dover, also a retired Marine, said he supports the troops in the field, “but this is also a very incompetently waged war because ‘the Decider’ got it wrong.”

Rep. Eleanor Kjellman, D-Henniker, an Air Force veteran, mother of an Iraq Warveteran, said, “It is our duty to question the wisdom of this war and the broadening of it. It is our duty to ask when it will end.”

After the roll call was taken, a line of Republicans registered formal protests of the vote.

The Republican Mystery

Republican theory of governance
By Harold Meyerson

Wednesday, March 28, 2007; A15

The truly astonishing thing about the latest scandals besetting the Bush administration is that they stem from actions the administration took after the November elections, when Democratic control of Congress was a fait accompli.

Attorney General Alberto Gonzales' hour-long meeting on sacking federal prosecutors took place after the election. The subsequent sacking took place after the election. The videoconference between leaders of the General Services Administration and Karl Rove's deputy about how to help Republican candidates in 2008, according to people who attended the meeting, took place Jan. 26 this year.

During last year's congressional campaigns, Republicans spent a good deal of time and money predicting that if the Democrats won, Congress would become one big partisan fishing expedition led by zealots such as Henry Waxman. The Republicans' message didn't really impress the public, and apparently it didn't reach the president and his underlings, either. Since the election, they have continued merrily along with their mission to politicize every governmental function and agency as if their allies still controlled Congress, as if the election hadn't happened.

Clearly, they had grown accustomed to the Congress of the past six years, whose oversight policy towards the administration was "Anything Goes." But their total and apparently ongoing inability to shift gears once the Democrats had taken control -- with an oversight policy that could be summarized as "You Did WHAT?" -- is mind-boggling.

Democrats such as Waxman clearly had planned to hold hearings on the administration's hitherto-unexamined follies of the past six years. Instead, the most high-profile investigations they're conducting concern administration follies of the past five months, since they won the election.

And it's not just on the politicization of prosecutorial and administrative functions that the White House has been unable to change course.

The president's mega-failure, of course, has been his decision to plow ahead in Iraq, the verdict of the American electorate in November notwithstanding. More mysterious still has been the inability of congressional Republicans to change course on the war. Last week, just two Republican congressmen voted for the Democrats' bill to withdraw U.S. combat forces from Iraq by the end of August 2008. Yesterday, just two Republican senators voted for Democratic senators' bill setting a March 2008 deadline.

It's not as if congressional Republicans are particularly pleased with the conduct of the war. It's not as if the House Democrats' bill is unpopular. Polling released yesterday from the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press showed 59 percent support for the bill compelling U.S. forces to leave Iraq by a year from August, with 61 percent support from independents, 34 percent support from Republicans, and 44 percent support from moderate Republicans. The roughly 1 percent support for the measure from House Republicans, then, massively underrepresents their constituents' -- even their Republican constituents' -- support for the bill.

More fundamentally, congressional Republicans were knocked into the minority last November because voters had sickened of their lockstep support for Bush's war. Clearly, they will be knocked a good deal further into the minority if that support continues.

So what are they doing to respond to this dire state of affairs? They're continuing their support. And they're continuing, in the Senate, to obstruct popular and overdue domestic measures such as a raise in the minimum wage, though polling confirms not just overwhelming support for that particular measure but also growing concern over the rise of economic inequality and a growing repudiation of the Republican positions on both domestic and foreign policy issues.

What gives with the Republicans? How have they -- not just in the White House but in Congress, too -- become so detached from reality?

There are, I think, four possible, partial explanations. The first is Rudy-ex-machina-- the hope that the party will nominate somebody who is not perceived to be part of their current mess and who will sweep them back into power no matter how big a hole they may now be digging for him. The second is a strategy to make it impossible for the Democrats to pass any legislation, and then run against the do-nothing Democrats.

The third is that the alternative reality conveyed by the Republican media -- Fox News, Rush Limbaugh and their ilk -- has created a Republican activist base that is genuinely not reality-based, and from which the current generation of Republican pols is disproportionately drawn. And the fourth, pertaining specifically to the inability of the administration to stop politicizing government, is that good government is just not in their DNA. Bush and Rove are no more inclined to create a government based on such impartial values as law and science than they are to set up collective farms.

Meanwhile, if you hear something go bump in the night, it's the Republicans, sleepwalking.

Subprime and the biggest risk of all

Following the US subprime mortgage alarm, some investors have been reassured by rebounding indices and optimistic pundits. But the biggest risk of all lies in thinking that risk has been conquered. It has not - it merely slumbers, so long as massive quantities of cheap credit allow the roll-over financing of future rounds of debt. If this slows sharply, the subprime housing turmoil is the tip of the iceberg.

Mar 28, 2007

By Max Fraad Wolff

The subprime mortgage market is in a state of flux. Risk reduction and risk sharing financial products are being stress-tested and the results are unclear.

Recent announcements by HSBC, New Century and others have rattled volatility-complacent investors. Rapid downward repricing has occurred and global contagion has emerged. A few weeks out, some smiles are evident as indices have whipsawed and jawboning has reassured investors. Others see catastrophe on the horizon. We are in neither camp.

Estimates are that there is about US$1.5 trillion in subprime housing loans in the US market. Slowing house-price appreciation calls into question repayment on some of these loans. The greater risks and lessons are symbolic. The subprime boom and the risks from a rapid deterioration in the market are much bigger than subprime. Questionable loans and the misallocating credit models that generated them are everywhere. Trillions of dollars in managed speculative wealth seeks returns greater than traditional low-risk assets offer.

Global deregulation and consolidation of banks and financial intermediaries creates a world of opportunity. New risk and asset securitization innovations enable products to arise to meet the ravenous hunger that fuels a global credit boom. Risk redistribution and repricing derivatives proliferate to "offset" and safeguard the rising exposure required. We may be on the brink of testing our new portfolio and solvency safety equipment.

Lehman Brothers and Bear Stearns base cases call for subprime national defaults of $200 billion to $250 billion over the next two years. This would translate into 1 million to 2 million residential-unit defaults. The next 22 months will see nearly $1 trillion in adjustable-rate mortgages resetting, with $650 billion in subprime. Industry base cases assume average house prices will be flat to 2% down across the next two years. Given the scope and size of recent house-price appreciation, the projected housing-market correction is very modest. Confidence derives from many questionable assumptions. Default risk and hedging products must turn in stellar performances, fear must not grip markets, and contagion must be limited. This is possible and has happened before. This best case requires us to thread the needle.

Risks must be measured against private US housing stock valued at $20.6 trillion on January 1 and total mortgage debt of $9.7 trillion on the same date. The sheer size and recent growth of household net worth is constantly and impressively invoked to sooth. Household real-estate assets increased by 50%, or $6.857 trillion, from 2002-07. During the same period, the Federal Reserve Z1 Flow of Funds records an increase of $3.708 trillion, 62%, in mortgage liability. Disposable personal income increased by $1.851 trillion or 24% over the period. Net worth grew by $16.829 trillion, or 43%. It has been a crazy few years. All this growth of wealth and debt amid asset inflation is made possible by new markets, methods and innovation in risk hedging and sharing.

The rise of collateralized debt obligations, credit-linked notes, over-the-counter finance and custom derivative products are the enablers. The subprime situation, credit quality, hedging techniques and products must all be considered together. Across the past three years there has been a steady decline in the quality of mortgages written and creditworthiness generally in the system. Credit-default protection has been extended to lower credit-quality-rated debt.

Massive international capital flows and global financial deregulation have grown exponentially over the past decade. Cross-border capital movements have increased more than threefold to more than $7 trillion since 1996. This has made far more credit available at much lower cost. For riskier borrowers - subprime - this has meant a maiden voyage deep into debt. The securitization and sharing of default risk has allowed issuers to share loss risk and markets to grow.

The sheer mass of managed wealth has reduced the returns to traditional safe investment grade assets. Thus supply and demand are generated by the same forces. These forces include rising risk/return appetite, global upward distribution of wealth, financial deregulation and financial innovation. Risk-management products have been inexpensive and the hunt for yield intense. There is more capital chasing riskier assets to gain acceptable returns. Lower-quality loans are made, hedged, bundled and sold. The serious systemic risk associated with the recent subprime episode stems from the prospect that the new financial architecture is less robust and more highly correlated than assumed. The rising cost of hedging debt positions and greater fear of lending to riskier borrowers is far more worrisome to us than the US subprime market.

New risk product and the rapid growth of established hedging and sharing contracts and trading techniques have boomed. From a systemic perspective, this does not reduce total default or shock exposure. Redistribution and repricing of risk occur. This is valuable and acts as a shock absorber for intermediaries that would otherwise have to restrict activity or ride unsound direct loss exposure. As higher risk assets are sold or hedged, there has been a tendency to use the raised cash to purchase other risky assets in the hunt for yield.

A prime example comes from the CDO (collateralized debt obligation)/mortgage-securitization process. As banks issue mortgages they assume a first loss position (FLP) to be able to sell off the loans for securitization. If we assume a fully funded standard contract, the banks pass the loans to a special purpose entity/vehicle (SPV) that sells the loans and assumes the loss position. Losses from "unlikely" system shocks are partially passed to the buyers of the securitized loan bundle, but that first loss position means the banks still bear risk. In addition, the total reduction in risk achieved hangs heavily on what is done with bank proceeds generated by this process. You guessed it, the evidence is that banks make further loans and repeat the process. The good news is that banks have a more diversified, riskier portfolio. The bad news is that risk exposure does not fall, it rises. The total risk in the system rises and is diversified and more broadly shared. This is the good news and the bad, out of our brave new era.

We see subprime as risk and valuable lesson. This market is in for a rough run. There are sweet dreams of containment; they defy reality. There is no such thing as a subprime neighborhood. Subprime is concentrated more heavily in some areas than others; it is everywhere. Thus broader housing-weakness questions are when and how bad, not if. Hundreds of billions of dollars in loans were made to people who clearly could not repay, absent significant annual house-price appreciation and cash-out refinancing. This means that we made housing loans to create housing-price appreciation on which loan repayment was predicated. Sometimes we are tempted to think that this credit boom has gotten a bit out of control. There is no long-run safe substitute for earnings, savings and income growth when increasing credit. This is not to say there cannot be a lot of money made, valuable financial innovation and long periods of great returns.

The other vital lesson involves our brave world of fully managed risk and nearly perfectly hedged positions. Have other markets and asset classes become dependent on credit growth to drive up asset prices to allow further credit growth? A huge Maginot Line of default defense has been erected to keep loss exposure out. Many valuable and potent new risk-management techniques and products have been developed. Riskier borrowers remain risky to all the various parties that extend credit to them. This showed up fast and furious as the cost of credit-default protection shot up and interest-rate premiums snapped into correlated action with every increase in subprime stress.

The greatest risk may be in thinking that risk has been conquered. It cannot be. It has not been. Risk has simply been redistributed and repriced, downward. As perceived risk fell and sharing grew, new monies were freed up for riskier lending and new, riskier projects. Loans went through and new projects were launched. Default risk continued/continues to grow as credit grows and allocations hunt for return. There is no innovating around this basic reality of financial gravity.

We are looking for periods of contagious fear in credit-risk-reduction markets feeding back and forth with particularly risky asset markets. The real danger slumbers - we hope - so long as massive quantities of cheap credit allow the roll-over financing of future rounds of debt. If this slows sharply, or runs in reverse, US subprime housing turmoil is the tip of the iceberg. There has been a lot of subprime allocation of capital and risk across the past few years. Subprime will either become a heeded warning shot across the bow, or a prelude to violent repricings to come.

Max Fraad Wolff is a doctoral candidate in economics at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and editor of the website GlobalMacroScope.

(Copyright 2007 Max Fraad Wolff.)

Bush MisAdministration's Out of Control Corruption: The GSA

The GSA chief convened a national teleconference of GSA managers for a briefing from White House political staffers on how they could best use federal government resources to help "our candidates" in 2008.

Oversight Hearing on GSA

March 28th, 2007 by Jesse Lee

The Committee on Oversight and Government Reform is currently holding a hearing: “Allegations of Misconduct at the General Services Administration.” The hearing will inquire about allegations that GSA Administrator Lurita Doan failed to follow proper procedures for awarding federal contracts, attempted to intervene in contract negotiations, and engaged in partisan political activities on federal property. We have covered the issues at hand in depth in this post.

Watch the hearing live >>

View the presentation given by Karl Rove aide Scott Jennings at GSA (pdf) >>


Faulty contract costs the VA millions


By Chris Adams
McClatchy Newspapers

WASHINGTON - The Department of Veterans Affairs backdated a key document and violated other rules as it pushed through a $100 million computer security contract that resulted in inflated prices and duplicate payments, according to a previously undisclosed report.

In the end, the contract turned into "an open checkbook" for various VA expenses, and the agency today can't detail the whereabouts of some $35 million in equipment purchased under the contract, the report by the VA's inspector general said.

Indeed, the agency blew through the contract's funds so quickly that the VA was temporarily left without proper defenses against computer hackers and was forced into a higher "CYBERCON" alert level.

As it responds to concerns about the treatment of veterans served by its health care and disability programs, the VA's internal auditor has said in recent months that the agency has another significant problem: the way it contracts for millions of dollars in supplies and personnel.

With a budget of more than $70 billion and more than 235,000 employees, the VA is one of the largest departments in the federal government. But the VA inspector general has repeatedly found that the agency doesn't follow proper contracting procedures, resulting in "significant dollar losses and failed projects," in the words of the most recent report.

Although it disputed some of the inspector general's legal interpretations, for the most part the VA accepted the investigator's findings and promised to make fixes. In response to questions about this report and others, a VA spokesman said that the agency was having trouble keeping good workers and that annual turnover in its central acquisition office has been more than 60 percent.

"VA is committed to being a good fiscal steward of taxpayer dollars," said spokesman Matt Burns, who added that the department is "working aggressively to strengthen its acquisition function and correct issues identified by the IG." The agency has taken several steps to help prevent future problems, he said.

An official for SecureInfo Corp., the company that received the contract, disagreed with the inspector general's conclusions. Stewart Curley, the chief financial officer, said the VA "at no time during the review raised any concerns to us regarding" his company's activities.

He said the company would detail its objections to the inspector general in writing.

The Feb. 26 inspector general's report detailed a series of decisions between 2002 and 2005 to purchase computer services for what was called the "central incident response capability" contract. It's designed to help the VA fend off computer hackers.

In 2002 testimony before a congressional subcommittee, a top VA official said the agency had conducted a rigorous several-month effort to award the contract to a collective bid from several companies joined together under the name VAST, for Veterans Affairs Security Team. The lead company was SecureInfo, which has offices in Virginia and Texas and supplies several government agencies with computer security expertise.

The contract was valued at $103 million. But the inspector general found several problems in the VA's decisions, resulting in "uncontrolled spending, overpayments and illegal contracting actions."

Among them:

-Although the contract was awarded in July 2002 as a small business set-aside, the inspector general said VAST didn't meet the requirements of a small business. VAST brought together several small and large businesses and had been incorporated in Texas seven days before the contract was awarded. At one time in the contracting process, VAST boasted that it had "180,000 technical professionals" at its disposal, calling into question its status as a small business.

-Even though the VA's in-house lawyer recommended they do so, two VA contracting officials chose not to tell the VA's inspector general that they heard an allegation that somebody was trying to manipulate the contracting process. The allegation didn't involve VAST, said Maureen Regan, who handled the report for the inspector general's office. But not referring the allegation to the inspector general for proper investigation was "inappropriate," the report said.

-In October 2002, the VA made a key modification to the contract, changing a portion of it from fixed terms to more open-ended terms. It made that change retroactive to August 2002.

That decision helped turn the contract into "an open checkbook for" computer-related expenditures, many of which weren't related to the original contract. Those new expenditures "were essentially awarded non-competitively and with little or no assurance of price reasonableness."

Other expenses may have been double-billed - meaning the VA paid VAST twice for at least some of the same services, the report said. But because VAST had been formed just to get the VA contract and "was nothing more than an empty shell," it could be difficult for the VA to recoup $8.5 million in potential overpayments.

In addition to labor costs, the VA spent more than $35 million for equipment and supplies under the contract. But the VA doesn't know what equipment it has or where it might be located, the report says.

The contract was expected to last up to 10 years. But the VA spent $92 million within three years and had to let the contract expire when its funds ran out.

The VA's in-house lawyer disputed some of the report's legal findings and also rejected the contention that the office hadn't adequately examined the contract.

But the inspector general said the lawyer's office didn't document why the VA modified the contract in 2002. The lawyer responded that "thorough review and analysis are not always reduced to writing," according to the report.

The inspector general concluded that the VA's unwillingness to accept some of the report's findings "will most likely result in a continuation of contract failures such as this."

Predominantly Jewish And & or Israeli Groups Speaking Out For Justice And Human Rights

Action committee for one democratic secular republic
Alliance of Middle East Scientists and Physicians
AlNakba in Hebrew
Alternative Information Center
American Council for Judaism
(see also
America-Israel Council for Israeli-Palestinian Peace
Andalus Publishing (translates Arabic books to Hebrew)
Association for Civil Rights in Israel
Bat Shalom, Israeli Women for Peace
Breaking the Silence (Israeli Soldiers website)
Bustan (Arab Jewish group for sustainable development)
Bustan L'Shalom
Challenge (Israeli magazine)
The Coalition of Women For a Just Peace
Coalition of Women for Peace
Eda Haredit, A hundred thousand anti-Zionist Hasidim all at one place...
European Jews for a Just Peace
Faculty For Israeli-Palestinian Peace
The Green Line (Kav Yarok)
Gush Shalom
House of Hope, http://
Independent Jewish Voice
Indymedia (Independent Israeli Media Center)
The Interfaith Encounter Association
Israeli Committee Against Home Demolitions
Israel Insider News
Israel Legal resource center
Israel Religious Action Center (against religious bigotry)
Jewish Alliance Against the Occupation
Jewish and Arab Women for Peace in the Middle East
Jewish Friends of Palestine
Jewish-Palestinian Living Room Dialogue Group
Jewish-Palestinian Encounter
Jewish Peace Fellowship
Jewish People Liberation Organization
Jewish Solidarity http://www.jewishsolidarity.infoJewish Unity for a Just Peace
Jewish Voice for Peace
Jewish Voices Against the Occupation
Jewish Unity for a Just Peace:
Jewish Voices Against the Occupation:
Jews Against the Occupation
Jews For Justice
Jews For Justice for Palestinians
Jews for a Just Peace
Jews for a Just Peace (Australia)
Jews for Peace in Palestine and Israel (JPPI)
Jews of Belgium Appeal for a Fair Settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict
Jews on first
Jews NOT Zionists
Jews Renounce
Kibbush (Occupation)
Machsum Watch
Matzpum, Jews to Ban Israeli Products and Tourism
Middle East Crisis Committee
Muzzle Watch (tracking Zionist efforts to silence critics)
Nahalat Shalom
Neturei Karta Homepage
Negev Coexistence Forum
New Israel Fund
New Profile (movement for civilization of Israeli Society)
Not in Our Name Coalition
Not In My Name!
"Occupied Territory"
(The) Other Israel
Oz v'Shalom - Netivot Shalom (religious Zionist anti-Occupation)
Oznik News Service
The Parent Circle
Physicians for Human Rights, Israel
Rabbis for Human Rights
Realistic Religious Zionism
Righteous Jews
Search for justice and equality
Seruv --Courage to Refuse
Shvil Zahav (The Middle Way)
Ta'Ayush (Arab Jewish Partnership)
Tikkun Magazine
Toronto's Jewish Youth Against the Occupation
Visions for peace with justice in Israel/Palestine
Yesh Gvul, The movement for IDF men refusing to serve in the Occupied Territories. , (in Hebrew and English)

Individuals with excellent work
Ammiel Alcalay
Uri Avnery
Israeli musician Gilad Atzmon, see some of his political reflections at
Iris Bar
Norman Finkelstein
Ran HaCohen
Harvey Herstein
David Kirshbaum
Joel Kovel
Michael Neumann
Ilan Pappe
Tanya Reinhart
Israel Shamir, an Israeli writer
Eyal Weizman's excellent work at
Ora Wise
Amira Hass and Gideon Levy and other articles in Haaretz
Rabbi Jeremy Milgrom, Jerusalem,

Conscientious Objection to Military Service in Israel
Israeli Reservists Refusing to Serve

Here comes the flood: Tsunami in Gaza, Celebration of peace in Jerusalem

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

By Gilad Atzmon

US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice announced yesterday the decision of Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Palestinian Authority Chairman, Mahmoud Abbas to meet bi-weekly with the US mediating. Indeed ‘great news for the Palestinians and the Israelis’.

More or less at the same time at least five Palestinians drowned in a “sewage Tsunami” when a water treatment reservoir burst, flooding Umm Naser, a village in the northern Gaza Strip.

While in a peaceful news conference in Jerusalem Rice once again said NO to the democratically elected Hamas referring to the PA chairman as a “partner for peace”, a Bedouin village in Gaza was submerged in sewage.

This devastating picture of total surreal detachment between the two events, between a meaningless political intercourse and a devastating destruction on the ground is the true reality of the Palestinian disaster. This reflects upon the zero Western political leadership’s commitment to humanist and ethical thinking, it reflects upon our abandonment of the Palestinian people, it is a reminder of our general negligence towards people who are mercilessly dispossessed for six decades, our blindness towards what seems to be a suffering with no end and no limit.

Rice called on regional Arab states to “participate actively in the peace process”. She welcomed as well the Saudi peace plan as “an example of such new thinking.” And I end up asking myself when was the last time Rice or the Saudi Crown family had been submerged in Sewage? Rice probably failed to realise that people, who happen to be flooded by ‘treated water’, want something slightly more significant than a mere ‘peace process’. Ms Rice, shouldn’t we better start with food? In case you didn’t realise, your embargo on the Hamas government has led to unprecedented starvation in Gaza. Some 80% of Gaza’s population relies upon WFP’s aid and on that from the UNRWA, the UN agency for refugees.

More or less by the time the US Secretary of State concluded that the two leaders would discuss a “political horizon,” it was clear that dozens of residents of Umm Naser were still unaccounted for.

By late afternoon, receding floodwaters had left a foul-smelling muck. Village children clung to wooden doors floating on the putrid waters. Rescuers were paddling through the village searching for victims. Frantic goats and cows were seen swimming in the mud searching for safe ground.

By the time Rice left the region it was revealed that the ‘negotiations’ between Ehud Olmert and Mahmoud Abbas will not include the three core issues - Jerusalem, refugees and borders. How surprising.

Instead of going from Jerusalem to Riyadh, Rice went back to Washington. She realised that she had nothing to offer the Arab leaders summit. She has nothing to offer almost as much as the people of Umm Naser have nothing to lose.

Russia ,China at highest alert

Russian intelligence sees U.S. military buildup on Iran border
The Russians are securing China’s vital sea lanes around the contested island of Taiwan.
to which the US has vowed to defend against both China and Russia.

We can assume that Russia and China are now at highest alert.
Russia starts Pacific naval exercise

26/03/2007 12:48 VLADIVOSTOK, March 26 (RIA Novosti) - Russia has begun a scheduled naval exercise in the Sea of Japan, the Pacific Fleet press service said Monday.

A major naval force, Russia's Pacific Fleet has strategic underwater missile cruisers, multipurpose nuclear and diesel submarines, surface ships for operations in the coastal and open-sea zones. The Pacific Fleet also has maritime missile-carrying, antisubmarine and fighter aviation, land troops and coastal guards.

"The exercise, which marks the end of winter combat training, will feature missile and artillery firing, and the search and destruction of submarines," a press service spokesperson said.

Over 15 combat and auxiliary vessels, shore and deck-based aircraft of the Primorye Territory in the Far East will participate in the exercise.

Aircraft crews will practice take-off and landing on the decks of submarine chasers in day and night conditions, while submarine crews will conduct torpedo launches.

© 2005 RIA Novosti

US housing market stays on highway to hell – Large investment banks begin to pay the price

- Decoded news (March 27, 2007) -

US housing market stays on highway to hell – Large investment banks begin to pay the price
Contrary to what large banks and financial medias tried to make us believe last week, and in line with LEAP/E2020's anticipations, the US housing market keeps falling.

In February 2007, sales of newly constructed homes settled to the lowest level since June 2000 (848,000). And this is far from being the end of the downward spiral into which millions of US citizens and a growing number of financial players are being dragged.

Indeed, as described in GEAB N°13 (already anticipated in November 2006 in GEAB N°9: "LEAP/E2020 Alert - Banking and financial sectors at the center of the impact phase of the global systemic crisis, via 'hedge funds' and 'bad quality credit'"), the most important financial operators - for a large part heavily involved in housing and subprime mortgage loans - are beginning to be affected by the current giant financial rout.

Even the sector's “majors” now strive to save their balance sheets, selling « on the sly » their billions of dollar-worth mortgage loans purchased in the past few years. For instance, Morgan Stanley is discreetly getting rid of 2.48 billion USD worth of mortgages purchased from subprime lender New Century - close to bankruptcy… meanwhile Morgan Stanley, together with its colleagues, would like to make the market believe that the worst is behind for the housing sector”.

Circuit City to Fire 3,400, Rehire Cheaper Workers

Circuit City Stores Inc., the second-largest U.S. electronics retailer, will fire 3,400 sales people and replace them with employees willing to work for less.
Posted Mar 28, 2007 10:13 AM PST
Category: ECONOMY

Now, think very carefully about this. If EVERY company fires their staff and rehires at lower wages and salaries, then the consumer base as a whole (already up to their limits on their credit cards) will stop buying what Circuit City has to offer for sale.

Henry Ford was a very smart man in that he paid his workers MORE than the prevailing wages because he understood that his employees were also his customers and by making sure that Ford employees could buy the cars they were making, the cars would be seen on the roads and become his best advertising.

Ford prospered by making his community around him prosperous. That was smart.

Circuit City's managers are making themselves prosperous by keeping all the money to themselves, and when enough companies follow suit, they will destroy their own customer base.

By Mike Rivero

New Century ends Freddie Mac ties

41 minutes ago

New Century Financial Corp. (Other OTC:NEWC - news), the troubled subprime mortgage lender, said on Wednesday it voluntarily terminated its relationship with Freddie Mac (NYSE:FRE - news), and that "several" of its own lenders plan to sell loans that had backed $17.4 billion of credit lines.

The Irvine, California,-based company also said it has entered agreements with regulators in Idaho, Iowa, Michigan and Wyoming to stop lending, following similar agreements with or orders from several other states.

The developments may move New Century closer to bankruptcy, an outcome many analysts already expect.

New Century disclosed the developments in a filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. It did not immediately return a call seeking further comment.

The company had been the largest independent U.S. provider of home loans to people with poor credit before running into financial difficulties as delinquencies and defaults mounted.

New Century's decision to end its relationship with Freddie Mac means it cannot sell mortgage loans to or act as the main servicer of any mortgage loans for the mortgage financier.

Fannie Mae (NYSE:FNM - news), another mortgage financier, cut off its own ties with New Century earlier this month.

New Century's own lenders, meanwhile, are moving to preserve their own stakes in case of bankruptcy.

Earlier this month, Barclays Plc (BARC.L) took possession of $900 million of mortgages, while Morgan Stanley (NYSE:MS - news) said it is auctioning $2.48 billion of loans.

In afternoon trading, New Century shares fell 32 cents, or 22.7 percent, to $1.09 on the Pink Sheets.

Navy boats 'ambushed' in Iraqi water

Posted Mar 28, 2007 09:54 AM PST

Okay folks, I am calling BULL BISCUITS on this one, and here is the reason.

Why would Iran attack British ships in Iraqi waters? Iran knows such an act would be the very justification to invade that the US and UK are looking for. Iran knows the US and UK and trying to provoke them. Iran does not want an invasion, therefore Iran would avoid confrontations.

The US and UK, on the other hand, DO want confrontations. They WANT a reason to invade. They are looking for and creating any and all situations that they can use as an excuse to invade.

So, who gets what they want in a border dispute? Who WANTS war?

Truth is the first casualty in war and in watching the mainstream media trying to assure us that Iran "ambushed" (on the water???) Great Britain in Iraqi waters, I am reminded of last summer when that same mainstream media was just as insistent that IsraPublishel's soldiers had been "kidnapped" by Lebanon inside Israel. Later, of course, it came out that the Israeli soldiers had been well inside Lebanon at the time of their capture.

One more thing. How lucky for the media that they had a video interview of Faye Turney to show on TV, taped just before her "capture."

By Mike Rivero