In my links of the day I try to find the links under the wire, articles all the top blogs miss. I'm not afraid to go to Al Jazeera, Kurd Media or to the Pakistan student movement page to bring the real daily news to you.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Links of the Day 4/2/2008 Oil Execs tell Congress and the American people SCREW YOU!

Last night I watched the oil profiteer CEO’s explain why they still need billions in tax breaks while raking in record profits while we go deeper in debt just to buy gas to get to work.

Their whining and smug faces literally made me sick! They sat their with these grins that said F YOU! WE run this countries Energy Policies and there’s not a damn thing you can do about it.

It took all my body and soul not to put my foot through the television. But I am just a breath away from canceling my satellite service. Olbermann better hurry up and get his show for us online real soon cuz I’ve about had it with the tv.

If you missed the hearing c-spam has it all.

House Select Energy Cmte. Chairman Edward Markey (D-MA) brings top-level executives from the five largest oil companies to discuss the current state of oil & gas prices, renewable fuels, and pollution. Washington, DC : 2 hr. 39 min.

House Energy Independence & Global Warming Cmte. Hearing on Oil CEOs and Price Issues (April 1, 2008)

Also check out Joe Biden’s hearing on the “Surge” in Iraq while your there.

Direct link for both

Oil chiefs say high prices not our fault

By H. JOSEF HEBERT, Associated Press Writer WASHINGTON - Don't blame us, oil industry chiefs told a skeptical Congress. Top executives of the country's five biggest oil companies said Tuesday they know record fuel prices are hurting people, but they argued it's not their fault and their huge profits are in line with other industries.

Appearing before a House committee, the executives were pressed to explain why they should continue to get billions of dollars in tax breaks when they made $123 billion last year and motorists are paying record gasoline prices at the pump.

"On April Fool's Day, the biggest joke of all is being played on American families by Big Oil," Rep. Edward Markey, D-Mass., said, aiming his remarks at the five executives sitting shoulder-to-shoulder in a congressional hearing room.

"Our earnings, although high in absolute terms, need to be viewed in the context of the scale and cyclical, long-term nature of our industry as well as the huge investment requirements," said J.S. Simon, senior vice president of Exxon Mobil Corp., which made a record $40 billion last year.

"We depend on high earnings during the up cycle to sustain ... investment over the long term, including the down cycles," he continued.

The up cycle has been going on too long, suggested Rep. Emanuel Cleaver, D-Mo. "The anger level is rising significantly."

Alluding to the fact that Congress often doesn't rate very high in opinion polls, Cleaver told the executives: "Your approval rating is lower than ours, and that means you're down low."

Several lawmakers noted the rising price of gasoline at the pump, now averaging $3.29 a gallon amid talk of $4 a gallon this summer.

"I heard what you are hearing. Americans are very worried about the rising price of energy," said John Hofmeister, president of Shell Oil Co., echoing remarks by the other four executives including representatives of BP America Inc., Chevron Corp. and ConocoPhillips.

While Democrats hammered the executives for their profits and demanded they do more to develop alternative energy sources such as wind, solar and biofuels, Republican lawmakers called for opening more areas for drilling to boost domestic production of oil and gas.

What would bring lower prices? asked Rep. James Sensenbrenner of Wisconsin, the committee's ranking Republican

"We need access to all kinds of energy supply," replied Robert Malone, chairman of BP America, adding that 85 percent of the country's coastal waters are off limits to drilling.

But Markey wanted to know why the companies aren't investing more in energy projects other than oil and gas - or giving up some tax breaks so the money could be directed to promote renewable fuels and conservation and take pressure off oil and gas supplies.

"Why is Exxon Mobil resisting the renewable revolution," asked Markey, noting that the other four companies together have invested $3.5 billion in solar, wind and biodiesel projects.

Exxon is spending $100 million on research into climate change at Stanford University, replied Simon, but current alternative energy technologies "just do not have an appreciable impact" in addressing "the challenge we're trying to meet."

The appearance Tuesday before the Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming was not the first time that oil executives had faced the harsh words of a lawmakers frustrated over their inability to do anything about soaring oil and gasoline costs.

In November 2005, executives of the same companies sought to explain high energy costs at a Senate hearing at which Hofmeister emphasized the cyclical nature of his industry. "What goes up almost always comes down," he told the senators on a day when oil cost $60 a barrel.

About six months later, the executives were grilled again on Capitol Hill when a barrel of oil cost $75. As the three-hour House hearing came to a close Tuesday, the price of oil settled at just over $100 a barrel on the New York exchange.

"We face a new reality, volatility, high prices, greater competition for resources," said Peter Robertson, vice president of Chevron Corp., adding that he understands that "Americans see the pain" of $100-a-barrel oil.

Markey challenged the executives to pledge to invest 10 percent of their profits to develop renewable energy and give up $18 billion in tax breaks over 10 years so money could be funneled to support other energy and conservation.

They responded that their companies already are spending on alternative energy projects and argued that new taxes would dampen investment and could lead to even higher prices.

"Imposing punitive taxes on American energy companies, which already pay record taxes, will discourage the sustained investment needed to continue safeguarding U.S. energy security," said Simon. He said over the past five years Exxon Mobil's U.S. tax bill exceeded its U.S. earnings by $19 billion.

Markey was not impressed.

"These companies are defending billions of federal subsidies ... while reaping over a hundred billion dollars in profits in just the last year alone," he said. The companies are reaping "a windfall of revenue" while poor people have to choose between heating and eating because of high energy prices.

Elsewhere on Tuesday, many independent truckers parked their rigs and others slowed to a crawl on highways to protest high fuel prices. The demonstrations were only scattered, but long lines of trucks were moving at about 20 mph on the New Jersey Turnpike, and three drivers were ticketed for impeding traffic on Interstate 55 outside Chicago, driving three abreast at low speeds.

If you’ve never been to National Priorities Project go check it out. They have an interactive program where you can see what your communities costs are toward the occupation of Iraq.

As we get closer to Novembers election it is in our best interest to know these figures so we can use them to convince people NOT to vote for John McCain.

National Priorities Project analyzes and clarifies federal data so that people can understand and influence how their tax dollars are spent.

click here to learn more

Mukasey hints US had attack warning before 9/11

David Edwards and Muriel Kane
Published: Tuesday April 1, 2008

When Attorney General Mukasey delivered a speech last week demanding that Congress grant the president warrantless eavesdropping powers and telecom immunity, the question and answer session afterwards included one extraordinary but little-noticed claim.

Mukasey argued that officials "shouldn't need a warrant when somebody with a phone in Iraq picks up a phone and calls somebody in the United States because that's the call that we may really want to know about. And before 9/11, that's the call that we didn't know about. We knew that there has been a call from someplace that was known to be a safe house in Afghanistan and we knew that it came to the United States. We didn't know precisely where it went."

Blogger Glenn Greenwald picked up on Mukasey's statement, suggesting, "If what Muskasey said this week is true -- and that's a big 'if' -- his revelation about this Afghan call that the administration knew about but didn't intercept really amounts to one of the most potent indictments yet about the Bush administration's failure to detect the plot in action. Contrary to his false claims, FISA -- for multiple reasons -- did not prevent eavesdropping on that call."

Keith Olbermann has now featured the story on MSNBC's Countdown. "What?" Olbermann asked incredulously after quoting Mukasey. "The government knew about some phone call from a safe house in Afghanistan into the U.S. about 9/11? Before 9/11? ... You didn't do anything about it?"

"Either the attorney general just admitted that the government for which he works is guilty of malfeasant complicity in the 9/11 attacks," Olbermann commented, "or he's lying."

"I'm betting on lying," concluded Olbermann. "If not, somebody in Congress better put that man under oath right quick."

After September 11, 2001, it was revealed that the CIA and FBI had intercepted a variety of messages including phrases such as "There is a big thing coming," "They're going to pay the price" and "We're ready to go." None of these messages gave specific details and none reached intelligence analysts until after the destruction of the World Trade Center.

According to the San Francisco Chronicle, "Mukasey did not specify the call to which he referred. He also did not explain why the government, if it knew of telephone calls from suspected foreign terrorists, hadn't sought a wiretapping warrant from a court established by Congress to authorize terrorist surveillance, or hadn't monitored all such calls without a warrant for 72 hours as allowed by law. The Justice Department did not respond to a request for more information."

This video is from MSNBC's Countdown with Keith Olbermann, broadcast March 31, 2008.

Foreclosure Relief Bill Clears Hurdle

By ANDREW TAYLOR – 17 hours ago

WASHINGTON (AP) — Senate leaders reached a deal Tuesday to advance legislation to ease the nation's home foreclosure crisis.

The bill has not been written yet, but Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the Republican leader, and Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid of Nevada defused a GOP filibuster threat that had stymied a Democratic plan a month ago.

The chairman of the Senate Banking Committee, Sen. Christopher Dodd, D-Conn., and the panel's top Republican, Richard Shelby of Alabama, were told to forge a compromise by midday Wednesday. The legislation would provide billions of dollars to buy up foreclosed homes.

It also would ensure that people who take out high-cost mortgages in the future aren't surprised by big payment increases.

Democrats have agreed to dump a plan opposed by Republicans and President Bush to give bankruptcy judges power to cut interest rates and principal on troubled mortgages.

EXCLUSIVE…Bush’s Law: Eric Lichtblau on Exposing the NSA’s Warrantless Wiretapping Program and How the White House Pressured the New York Times to Kill the Story

In a national broadcast exclusive, we speak with New York Times reporter Eric Lichtblau about his new book, Bush’s Law: The Remaking of American Justice. Lichtblau won the Pulitzer Prize for exposing the Bush administration’s warrantless wiretapping program in December 2005. He reveals the inside story of the New York Times’s decision to delay publication of the story for more than a year after intense lobbying from the White House.

Eric Lichtblau, won the 2006 Pulitzer Prize for national reporting for his stories on the NSA’s wiretapping program in the New York Times. His new book is Bush’s Law: The Remaking of American Justice.

AMY GOODMAN: After months of debate, Congress has yet to authorize a new domestic surveillance law amidst a standstill over immunizing telecommunications companies that aided government spying. Last month, the Democratic-led House narrowly passed a bill excluding the immunity provision, despite a threatened veto by President Bush. Bush wants the House to mimic the Senate version, which reauthorizes National Security Agency spying while shielding telecom companies from retroactive lawsuits.

The NSA launched its warrantless spy program in October 2001. But it took over four years for the program to become publicly known, finally revealed by the New York Times in December 2005. My next guest is one of the two New York Times reporters who broke the NSA story. Eric Lichtblau has just come out with a new book; it’s called Bush’s Law: The Remaking of American Justice.

The book’s new disclosures include an account of fierce anxieties within the Bush administration on the program’s legality when it began. Eric Lichtblau also reveals the inside story of the New York Times’s own decision to delay publication of the story for more than a year after intense lobbying by the White House.

Eric Lichtblau won the 2006 Pulitzer Prize along with James Risen for breaking the NSA spy story, joining us now from Washington, his first national broadcast interview following the book’s publication.

Welcome to Democracy Now!, Eric.

‘Death Star’ 2012 Blast Warning For Earth Issued By Russia

By: Sorcha Faal, and as reported to her Western Subscribers (Traducción al Español abajo)

March 29, 2008

A most strange report from the Institute of Astronomy of the Russian Academy of Sciences, and quoting renowned Scientist Boris Shustov, is warning that our Earth is in ‘imminent danger’ from a ‘deadly’ star nearing its final destruction, and as we can read about as reported by Australia’s Herald Sun News Service, and which says:

"A STAR that twinkles in the sky just 8000 light years from Earth is on a path to self-destruction that could result in a cataclysmic explosion. The unstable star -- close to us in cosmic terms -- is part of a rotating pinwheel system known as WR104 [pictured top left], in the constellation of Sagittarius. Experts fear that when the star does explode it could force a beam of destructive gamma-ray radiation towards Earth."

A more detailed examination of this ‘death star’ states: "WR 104 is a Wolf-Rayet star located 8000 light years from Earth at RA 18h02m04s.07 Dec -23d37'41.2" (ICRS). It is a binary star with a class OB companion.

The stars have an orbital period of 220 days and the interaction between their stellar winds produce a spiral "pinwheel" outflow pattern over 200 AU long. The spiral is composed of dust that would normally be prevented from forming by WR 104's intense radiation were it not for the star's companion. The region where the stellar wind from the two massive stars interacts compresses the material enough for the dust to form, and the rotation of the system causes the spiral-shaped pattern.

WR 104's rotational axis is aligned within 16° of Earth. This could have potential implications to the effects of WR 104's eventual supernova, since these explosions often produce jets from their rotational poles. It is possible that WR 104 may even produce a gamma ray burst, though it is not possible to predict with certainty at this time."

Though the full extent of the dangers facing our planet from WR104 are currently being debated at the highest levels of the World’s astronomical community, this report details the most catastrophic scenario we could be facing, and based upon the completed computations from this past months greatest ever seen cosmic blast, and as we can read about as reported by the AFP News Service:

"NASA has detected the brightest cosmic explosion ever recorded -- a massive burst of energy 7.5 billion light years away that could be seen with the naked eye from Earth, the US space agency said Thursday.

The explosion, a gamma ray burst older than Earth itself, was monitored by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's Swift satellite and shattered the record for the most distant object seen without visual aid.

"No other known object or type of explosion could be seen by the naked eye at such an immense distance," said Swift team member Stephen Holland of NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in the eastern state of Maryland."

Even more interesting, perhaps, there is contained in these reports an hypothesis that our Earth has, in the past, faced other such grave dangers, and indeed, the American Astronomical Society has previously heard arguments that a gamma-ray burst, and not an asteroid, was responsible for the cataclysmic destruction of the dinosaurs.

These reports, however, expound on these theories by first stating that Japanese scientists are correct in their calculations warning of the imminent ‘appearance’ of a 10th planet in our solar system named ‘Planet X’, and as we can read about as reported by the AFP News Service, and which says:

"Scientists at a Japanese university said Thursday they believed another planet up to two-thirds the size of the Earth was orbiting in the far reaches of the solar system. The researchers at Kobe University in western Japan said calculations using computer simulations led them to conclude it was only a matter of time before the mysterious "Planet X" was found.

"Because of the very cold temperature, its surface would be covered with ice, icy ammonia and methane," Kobe University professor Tadashi Mukai, the lead researcher, told AFP. The study by Mukai and researcher Patryk Lykawka will be published in the April issue of the US-based Astronomical Journal.

"The possibility is high that a yet unknown, planet-class celestial body, measuring 30 percent to 70 percent of the Earth's mass, exists in the outer edges of the solar system," said a summary of the research released by Kobe University. "If research is conducted on a wide scale, the planet is likely to be discovered in less than 10 years," it said.

Planet X -- so called by scientists as it is yet unfound -- would have an oblong elliptical solar orbit and circle the sun every thousand years, the team said, estimating its radius was 15 to 26 billion kilometres."

The significance to a cataclysmic gamma ray burst from WR104 occurring during an orbit of this Planet X within our inner solar system, these reports continue, and should this Planet X’s orbit become a sort of ‘shield’ for our Earth by ‘absorbing’ the greater shocks of this blast, the ‘underlying’ subatomic particles of the gamma-ray burst reaching our Earth, after passing through the mass of Planet X, would become ‘antimatter’ in their character based upon the theories postulated by the American Nobel Winning scientist Richard Feynman, and which state that antimatter is matter moving backwards in time.

To the effects of our Earth being ‘bathed’, in its entirety, by such an antimatter blast, these reports continue, would bring our present World to an ending of everything we have ever known and throw humanity into a time of such chaos that only our most ancient of myths and religious beliefs would have any relevance as simultaneously we could, possibly, be ‘shattered’ into a Multiverse of competing parallel universes.

For human beings, should such an event occur, the effect of these things would be an immediate ‘translation’ into whatever is held most by our minds, with those having the lowest thoughts being relegated to lower dimensions, those with the highest thoughts being pushed into higher ones.

There also exists, these calculations show, the potential for human beings to be able to ‘push’ their way towards past timelines, as well as those of the future.

But, to the most interesting calculation of these reports is its estimating that if should an event as this occur its most likely date would be in the waning months of the year 2012, and which coincides with the ancient Mayan Calendar warnings that our World will, indeed, see the ending of this age on December 21, 2012.

Russia ‘Alarmed’ As US Readies April Nuclear Attack On Iran

By: Sorcha Faal, and as reported to her Western Subscribers (Traducción al Español abajo)

April 2, 2008

Russian Foreign Ministry Officials are reported to be ‘alarmed’ today over a ‘presentation’ made by the United States War Leaders to President Putin at this weeks NATO summit in Romania and which details the Americans plan to begin a nuclear attack against Irans atomic facilities in the next two weeks.

Most disturbing of these reports, according to Foreign Ministry Analysts, are the United States ‘offers and threats’ towards Russia to ‘remain neutral’ in this conflict or face the combined weight of the American and EU central banks deliberate collapsing of the Western banking system, and US dollar, and which is estimated will cause the loss of nearly $800 billion of Russian foreign reserves.

To the ‘offers’ presented to President Putin for keeping Russia out of this war, these reports continue, will be NATO’s rejection of Ukraine and Georgia membership into the Western Military Alliance and the ending of the planned US Missile Shield being planned for Poland and the Czech Republic.

In what, sadly, passes for diplomacy these days with the United States, this ‘presentation’ to President Putin is eerily reminiscent of the offer made to the Taliban rulers of Afghanistan prior to the US invasion of their country after their rejection of the American offer, and which French news sources reported was stated, “Either you accept our offer of a carpet of gold, or we bury you under a carpet of bombs."

To the likelihood of the US carrying out their brutal expansion of their war against the Muslim peoples of the World with a nuclear attack upon Iran there remains today little doubt as Saudi Arabia has ordered their people to prepare for nuclear war, and as we can read as reported by Iran’s Press TV News Service, and which says:

"Saudi Arabia is reportedly preparing to counter any 'radioactive hazards' which may result from a US strike on Iran's nuclear plants.

Popular government-guided Saudi newspaper Okaz recently reported that the Saudi Shura Council approved of nuclear fallout preparation plans only a day after US Vice President Dick Cheney met with the Kingdom's high ranking officials, including King Abdullah.

As a result of the Shura ruling, the Saudi government will start the implementation of 'national plans to deal with any sudden nuclear and radioactive hazards that may affect the Kingdom following expert warnings of possible attacks on Iran's Bushehr nuclear reactors'."

Israel is, likewise, said to be preparing for this new war, and as we can read as reported by Israeli News Sources, and which state: "Defense Minister Ehud Barak authorized on Sunday evening the plans for a national emergency drill, which is scheduled to take place in two weeks time."

Russian Military Analysts, in these reports, further state that with a US nuclear strike against Iran, Israel will, also, launch a simultaneous against Syria, and as we can read, as reported by Israel’s Ynet News Service, the Syrian Nation is preparing for:

"Syria is preparing for a comprehensive Israeli strike which will be combined with an attack on Hizbullah, sources in Damascus have told the London-based Arabic-language al-Quds al-Arabi newspaper. The sources, which refused to reveal their identity, reported that Syria was closely monitoring the movement of Israeli forces along the northern border.

The newspaper reported Wednesday that Damascus viewed the Israeli media reports and statements made by senior Israel Defense Forces officials as incitement and attempts to prepare the Israeli and global public opinion for a war against Syria.

In addition to the military preparations, the sources said, Damascus has raised its security alert level for fear that Israeli forces would infiltrate its territories through one of its bordering countries, mainly referring to Lebanon.

Over the past few weeks, the Syrians have stationed three armored divisions, special forces and nine mechanized infantry divisions opposite Lebanon's western valley, as the Syrians estimate that a ground Israeli invasion may take place in that area."

As the American people remain under the greatest threat in their history to their freedom, and as Britain’s top economic experts are stating that the US is now falling into a Great Depression, with the most of their citizens receiving food aid in their entire history, while at the same time their Military reports the spending of over $1.6 trillion on new weapons for their wars, one cannot but shudder to think of the grave consequences should their grab for total World domination fails.

But, with all of the failed attempts by many Global powers in the past to establish their rule over the entire World, and should the United States fail in their nuclear attack against Iran, and with the added backdrop of the growing crisis of our Earth being able to feed its own people, even the most simplest of minds can see the folly of the Americans desires.

This cannot, however, be said of the American people, and who continue leading their ‘American Dream’ lives while being led to their own destruction along a road paved with celebrity trivialities and banal stories of nothingness that passes for news in their country.

Never has it been more true the age old saying, “For those who do not learn history they are doomed to repeat it.”

More than 2.77 million Iraqis internally displaced: UN

April 1st, 2008 7:13 pm

GENEVA (AFP) - The number of internally displaced Iraqis rose to more than 2.77 million people by the end of March, some five years after the US-led invasion to topple Saddam Hussein, the UN refugee agency said Tuesday.

More than half of the displaced were uprooted after the Al-Askari shrine bombing in Samara in February 2006 which sparked a wave of ethnic violence across the country, UNHCR spokeswoman Jennifer Pagonis told journalists.

The new report was produced by UN High Commissioner for Refugees, the International Organisation for Migration, and other UN agencies and NGOs.

Displacement was now continuing at a much lower rate, at least partly because communities were now much more homogenous, as many minorities targeted for persecution had sought refuge among their own kind.

Although there had been a small trickle of people returning to their original homes, only a few families have returned to areas under the control of another sect, it noted.

"No members of minority groups (Christians, Sabaean-Mandaeans and Yazidis) have been reported to be among the returnees," the report said.

The IDPs' lot remains miserable with more than a million people in need of adequate shelter and food and more than 300,000 people without access to clean water.

Two million Iraqis have also fled to neighbouring Jordan and Syria, where social and health services are struggling with the influx.

The UNHCR in January launched an appeal for 261 million dollars (167 million euros) to help all displaced Iraqis, but said Tuesday it had only received a third of this amount.

Rally protests war, honors dead

April 1st, 2008 5:16 pm

By Kevin O'Neal / Indianapolis Star

INDIANAPOLIS, IN — About 100 people gathered Saturday at the Soldiers and Sailors Monument in Downtown Indianapolis to protest the war in Iraq, days after the war's fifth anniversary and the death of the 4,000th American service member since it began.

The demonstration, initiated by Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis students, drew such attendees as former U.S. Rep. Andy Jacobs, a Marine Corps veteran of the Korean War; Mike Mlekowski, a 28-year-old Marine Corps veteran of the Iraq war; and U.S. Rep. Andre Carson.

"It was politicians who stole their lives," said Jacobs, 76. "It was the fraud that was told by the politicians in Congress who were afraid to vote against this war."

During a vigil in honor of the war dead, demonstrators held signs with the names of soldiers from Indiana who have been killed, and several people spoke against the conflict.

Mlekowski, a former lance corporal from Champaign, Ill., served with an artillery battalion during the 2003 invasion.

"When we went over there, I was in full support of the war," he said. "But when we found no weapons of mass destruction, I started wondering, 'Why are we here?' There's no honor in it."

Jacobs' successor in Congress, the late Rep. Julia Carson, voted against the Iraq war resolution in 2002. Her successor in Congress and grandson, Andre Carson, also opposes the war.

"Stop helping big business and corporate interests and end this war," he told the small crowd.

Cliff Kindy of the anti-war group Christian Peacemaker Teams compared Indianapolis' potholes to the potholes in Iraqi roads. He said removing Saddam Hussein from power let "17 little Saddam Husseins" rise and try to take power in a fragmented Iraq.

"We need to get the troops out of Iraq right now for the good of the United States," Kindy said.

Iraq Veterans Against the War, former soldiers who said they changed their minds about the war after serving in the invasion, had a sizable presence at the protest.

Derek Giffin, 27, an Army veteran from Schererville, Ind., said he had second thoughts when his 1st Cavalry Company from Fort Hood was briefed before the invasion that there were no chemical weapons or weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, but the Bush administration kept making that claim.

"That's when I awoke to the fact that something was woefully amiss," he said.

U.S. Alarmed as Some Exports Veer Off Course

WASHINGTON — Roadside bombings of American troops in Iraq were occurring with unnerving regularity when military investigators made a disturbing discovery: American-made computer circuits sold to a trading company in the United Arab Emirates had turned up in the bomb detonators.

That finding set off a clash with Washington last year when the Bush administration cited the diversion of the computer circuits to Iran, and eventually Iraq, as proof that the United Arab Emirates were failing to prevent American technology from slipping into the wrong hands. Administration officials said aircraft parts, specialized metals and gas detectors that have a potential military use had also moved through Dubai, one of the emirates, to Iran, Syria or Pakistan.

The diplomatic face-off, which drew little public attention, prompted the United States to threaten tough new controls on exports to the United Arab Emirates, an ally. The nation had invested billions to become a global trading hub and had begun a campaign to burnish its image in the United States after the uproar in 2006 over a proposal to allow a Dubai company manage some American port terminals.

The administration backed down only after the emirates promised to pass their own export control law. But it is unclear that much has changed nearly a year after the confrontation.

Yousef al-Otaiba, an adviser to the crown prince of the United Arab Emirates, said his country was more closely monitoring goods that it re-exported while blocking items that might help Iran build weapons systems. But trade experts and Iranian traders in Dubai said there was little evidence that the new export control law was being broadly enforced.

“It has virtually had no effect, to be honest,” said Nasser Hashempour, deputy president of the Iranian Business Council in Dubai. “If someone wants to move something — get it to Iran — it is easy to be done.”

Relations with the United Arab Emirates have long been delicate for the United States. Dubai, for example, is the host for more Navy ships than any port outside the United States and is an important listening post for American intelligence personnel. Emirates officials have complied with a Bush administration request to inspect American-bound ship containers for nuclear threats as they move through Dubai.

But the country, which is made up of the emirates Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Sharjah, Ajman, Al Fujayrah, Umm al Qaywayn and Ras al Khaymah, has deep economic and cultural ties with Iran, which is only about 70 miles across the Persian Gulf from Dubai. As many as 400,000 Iranians live in the emirates, many of them traders who track down goods in the sprawling consumer bazaar of Dubai and then re-export them to Iran, at times ignoring United Nations trade sanctions related to Iran’s nuclear program and a broader United States embargo.

Emirates Blame U.S.

Nearly $12 billion worth of American goods flowed into the emirates in 2007. Officials in the emirates say the United States — which prohibits American companies from directly selling most goods to Iran and bars foreign companies from reselling dual-use products there — has complicated efforts to follow the rules.

The officials, with trade experts, blame America for overstating the potential dangers of certain goods or passing on tips about illicit shipments that are inaccurate or too vague to act.

“They like to exaggerate, or at least try to point to some strategic significance of the item, like saying, ‘This software program could be used to design nuclear power plants,’ even if someone is just buying it to draw puppies and flowers,” said Clif Burns, an export control lawyer at Powell Goldstein in Washington.

American officials have been increasingly alarmed about trade in the United Arab Emirates since 2002, when the Commerce Department sent an inspector, Mary O’Brien, there. From her spot checks of factories, freight forwarders and other companies that had ordered American products subject to export controls, Commerce officials say, it was clear that dual-use goods, including computer equipment, were being diverted on a grander scale than imagined.

An entity said to be a woodworking shop, for example, had ordered a sophisticated American machine for making metal parts. The device, Ms. O’Brien knew, could also shape components for a missile system. The supposed factory contained almost no sawdust, and the few employees could not explain how they intended to use the machine.

“This is not right,” Ms. O’Brien said she had said to herself, convinced that she had turned up her first “briefcase business”— open for inspection, but closed for good as soon as she walked out.

She pressed a Dubai pistachio wholesaler on why he had bought an American infrared camera, which can detect living objects in the dark, and where it had gone. Later she found he had arranged its return from Iran, where it had apparently been diverted, while stalling a follow-up inspection.

In nearly 40 percent of her inspections in four years, she found that regulated items were missing or that the recipient would not cooperate. Many of those companies were placed on a list, warning American exporters to be careful when selling to them.

“This was a huge sieve,” said Lisa A. Prager, a former top Commerce export control official. “Almost nothing that said it was going to U.A.E. was staying in U.A.E.”

Now go read page 2

A Good Thing from the Bush Years

There have been plenty of negatives from George W. Bush’s presidency – a disastrous war, a damaged economy, exploding government debt and assaults on the U.S.

Constitution – but, as my mom used to say, it’s always important to look for the positives.

And here is one: At no time in my three decades in Washington have I seen more common purpose between honest American journalists and patriotic U.S. intelligence analysts. By trampling on a principle that both groups hold dear – respect for the truth – Bush has pushed these historic adversaries together.

Traditionally, the two groups have viewed each other with suspicion, if not hostility. The best reporters see their job as getting the facts and sharing them with the greatest number of people, while intelligence officers view their task as getting the facts and funneling them to a few select individuals only.

But the Bush administration has changed this dynamic by following the neoconservative “perception management” strategy: you start with a certainty about what should happen – say, invade Iraq. You then cherry-pick the “evidence” and mold it into a scary case to stampede the public.

Some careerists at the CIA – and many careerists in Washington journalism – played along with this neocon game during the run-up to the Iraq War. But other intelligence professionals and journalists rebelled, recognizing that this neocon approach was anathema to both an informed government policy and an informed public.

We began to see intelligence veterans – like Ray McGovern, Mel Goodman and Larry Johnson – take the lead in objecting to the Bush administration’s disdain for reality. Meanwhile, honest journalists looked for new ways, outside the control of corporate and right-wing news outlets, to warn the people of the dangers ahead.

At, we have worked hard to build this alliance: American journalists collaborating with U.S. intelligence veterans.

Over the past couple of years, we’ve been honored to publish the writings of Ray McGovern and his Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS).

We’ve also carried stories by the likes of former CIA analyst Peter Dickson, who faced career retaliation when he objected to politicized intelligence in the 1980s, and Sam Provance, a military intelligence officer who spoke out against abuses at the Abu Ghraib prison.

When we pay for articles from these brave intelligence veterans, it not only means that the public gets the benefit of their information, but it enables VIPS and similar groups to reach out to other former colleagues so their stories can be told.

Over time, we can strip away the web of lies that unscrupulous politicians have used to entrap the country in bloody foreign adventures and harmful domestic policies. We can help give you back both your real history – and a realistic assessment of today’s events.

But we need your help. We can only publish and pay for the writings of these courageous intelligence veterans if you help us with your contributions.

For our spring fundraiser, we have set a modest goal of $25,000, but we must reach that mark if we are to continue operation much longer.

So, please make a tax-deductible donation today. Or, if you know someone involved with a charitable foundation that’s interested in an informed public, you might urge them to contact us.

Two great video’s form the BBC

The first one features Robin Williams as he hijacks BBC Debate.

Comedian Robin Williams performed an impromptu stand-up routine before the delayed recording of a BBC World debate on the future of news.

This is Bush’s future for America. With the poisonous FEMA trailers gone there is no place for people to go.

The go watch the video of the tent cities of Louisiana Tent cities spring up in LA


UAE stages camel beauty contest

Ten thousand camels will be fluttering their long eyelashes in a unique international beauty pageant being held in the United Arab Emirates.

The contest in Abu Dhabi is one of the richest and biggest events of its kind, with more than $9m (£4.5m; 5.8m euros) and 100 cars in prizes up for grabs.

The contest will feature camels or "ships of the desert" from Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar and Saudi Arabia.

Organisers hope it will remind Emiratis of traditional desert values.

The contest is part of the Mazayin Dhafra festival, which starts on Wednesday, and organisers say it is the biggest contest of its kind to be staged in the Arabian Gulf.

A panel of expert camel appreciators will choose the best animals for each age group.

Entry is open to anyone who can prove ownership of a pedigree camel, and the animals must be free from contagious diseases, and without any serious defects.

The ruler of Abu Dhabi, Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed, has sponsored the event.

It is said he wants Emiratis to help preserve their national identity through the respect of an animal central to Arab culture.

The first camel beauty contest in the UAE took place six years ago.

Camel racing is a popular sport, with money from the region's oil riches often placed in huge bets.

Long before the oil industry moved in, the Bedou tribes prized the animal known as the "ship of the desert".

Camels were the main measurement of wealth, along with horses and falcons.


04/01/08 AP: British defense secretary to delay planned withdrawal of UK troops

British troops will not be pulled out of Iraq as planned, due to a recent surge of violence there, defense officials said Tuesday. Defense Secretary Des Brown will inform lawmakers in the House of Commons on Tuesday that the scheduled withdrawal...

04/02/08 LATimes: Iraq showdown made Sadr stronger, backers say

In a stucco compound at the center of the Sadr City neighborhood here, a follower of radical Shiite Muslim cleric Muqtada Sadr gleefully handed out candies and toffees to visitors Monday.

04/02/08 guardian: Iraqi forces move into Shia stronghold

Iraqi government forces entered a Shia militant stronghold in the southern city of Basra today, which has been rocked by fierce internecine clashes in recent weeks. The move against the Mahdi army, the militia supporting the Shia cleric Moqtada al-Sadr...

04/02/08 AFP: Iraq to spend 590 million dollars on weapons, kit

Iraq is expected to buy more than 590 million dollars in military equipment in 2008, including weapons and ammunition, the US military said on Wednesday.


04/02/08 AFP: Bush urges NATO to send more troops to Afghanistan

US President George W. Bush warned Wednesday that "innocent civilians will pay the price" if NATO fails to send more troops to Afghanistan to snuff out "terrorists" still lurking there.

04/01/08 AP: Afghanistan moves to censor TV

Afghanistan's lower house of Parliament passed a resolution Monday seeking to bar television programs from showing dancing and other practices deemed un-Islamic.

04/02/08 AFP: Eight dead in new Afghanistan unrest

New Taliban-linked violence left eight people dead in Afghanistan as President Hamid Karzai headed Tuesday to a NATO summit to call for more help in fighting the deadly unrest, officials said.

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Bush' Way of Bringing the Troops Home

Bush' Way of Bringing the Troops Home
If Not Now When?