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.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Links of the Day 4/22/2008 Go Vote and The Only Way out of Iraq is in a Body Bag


OK Pennsylvania it's your turn so GO VOTE!


Barack Obama has won 13.7 million votes

Hillary Clinton has won 12.9 million votes

C-span hopefully will have good coverage of the Pennsylvania primary today without all the spin of the MSM beginning at 8 pm (ET).

http://www.c-span.org/Politics/Default.aspx


Sen. Clinton Rally Speech in Philadelphia
Monday | Clip


Sen. Obama Rally Speech in Pittsburgh. PA
Monday | Clip


Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) "Exactly" Campaign Ad (1 min.)
Sunday


Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY) "Closed" Campaign Ad (1 min.)
Wednesday


Direct link for all of the above http://www.c-span.org/Politics/Default.aspx


National Poll of Polls Likely Democratic primary voters' choice

Likely Democratic primary voters' choice

http://edition.cnn.com/POLITICS/


Obama vs. Clinton


"Thinking ahead to the next presidential election, do you think a Democratic or a Republican president would do a better job resolving the situation in Iraq?"

4/10-13/08

Democratic Republican Depends (vol.) No Difference (vol.) Unsure

52% 35% 2% 4% 7%


Are Americans finally waking up to the fact that Global Warming is real?

Global warming

http://www.pollingreport.com/


USA Today 4/22


Bush's disapproval worst of any president in 70 years


President Bush has set a record he'd presumably prefer to avoid: the highest disapproval rating of any president in the 70-year history of the Gallup Poll. In a USA TODAY/Gallup Poll taken Friday through Sunday, 28% of Americans approve of the job Bush is doing; 69% disapprove. . .

Direct link http://www.usatoday.com/news/washington/2008-04-21-bushrating_N.htm


New York Times 4/22


In Clinton vs. Obama, Age One of Greatest Predictors
... In a campaign where demographics seem to be destiny, one of the most striking factors is the segregation of voters by age. In state after state, older voters have formed a core constituency for Mrs. Clinton, who is 60, while younger voters have coalesced around Mr. Obama, who is 46. Age has been one of the most consistent indicators of how someone might vote -- more than sex, more than income, more than education. . . .

Direct link

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/04/22/us/politics/22age.html?_r=1&adxnnl=1&oref=slogin&ref=politics&pagewanted=print&adxnnlx=1208865644-F+HlKgy+G1iwLxr7ZF92Ig




CBS News 4/21


Economy Worries Young Voters
Concerns about the state of the economy have passed the Iraq war as the top concern for voters between the ages of 18 and 29, according to a poll conducted by CBS News and MTV. Twenty-two percent of young adults surveyed cited the economy as the number one issue facing their generation, compared to 13 percent who said the war in Iraq. . . .

Direct link http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2008/04/21/opinion/polls/main4029859.shtml


New Republic 4/21


The New Class
Amidst all the statistics clamoring for attention during the last six weeks of 24/7 Pennsylvania primary coverage, there's one key number that hasn't gotten the attention it deserves:
306,918. That's the number of new Democrats added to the voter rolls in Pennsylvania between January 1 and the voter registration deadline on March 24. . .

Direct link http://www.tnr.com/politics/story.html?id=d67776d8-ab4e-4c12-9c1f-bfa041dcb314 .




Great article by Ray McGovern a MUST READ!


What About the War, Benedict?

By Ray McGovern
April 21, 2008

Pope Benedict XVI arrived in the United States last week against a macabre backdrop featuring reports of torture, execution and war. He chose not to notice.

Torture: Fresh reporting by ABC from inside sources depicted George W. Bush’s most senior aides (Cheney, Powell, Rumsfeld, Ashcroft, Rice and Tenet) meeting dozens of times in the White House during 2002/03 to sort out the most efficient mix of torture techniques for captured “terrorists.”

When initially ABC attempted to insulate the president from this sordid activity, Bush abruptly bragged that he knew all about it and approved. That comment and the action memorandum Bush signed on Feb. 7, 2002, dispelled any lingering doubt regarding his personal responsibility for authorizing torture.

Execution: Meanwhile, the U.S. Supreme Court, with a majority of judges calling themselves Catholic, was openly deliberating on whether one gram, or two, or perhaps three of this or that chemical would be the preferred way to execute people.

Always colorful prominent Catholic layman Antonin Scalia complained impatiently, “Where does it say in the Constitution that executions have to be painless?”

Scalia did not seem at all concerned that the pope might remind him and his Catholic colleagues about the Church’s teaching on capital punishment, i.e., the cases in which the execution of the offender is an absolute necessity “are very rare, if not practically non-existent.” (Evangelium Vitae 56).

It was enough to bring this student of German history (and five-year resident there) vivid memories of frequenting those places where precisely these kinds of torture and execution policy reviews were conducted at similarly high levels by Hitler’s inner circle – yes, including judges.

War: Can the pope possibly be so suffused with his peculiar brand of theology that he is oblivious to what happened when he was a young man during the Third Reich.

Is it possible that papal advisers forgot to tell him that the post-WWII Nuremberg Tribunal described an unprovoked war of aggression, of the kind that the Third Reich and George W. Bush launched, as the “supreme international crime, differing from other war crimes only in that it contains the accumulated evil of the whole?”

Could they have failed to tell the pope he would be hobnobbing with war criminals, torturers and the enabling cowards in Congress who refuse to remove them from office?

For this Catholic, it was a profoundly sad spectacle – profoundly sad.

Not since WWII, when the Reich’s bishops swore personal oaths of allegiance to Hitler (as did the German Supreme Court and army generals) have the papacy and bishops acted in such a fawning, un-Christ-like way.

With very few exceptions, the bishops (Catholic and Evangelical Lutheran) collaborated with the Nazis. Meanwhile, Hamlet-like Pius XII kept trying to make up his mind as to whether he should put the Catholic Church at some risk, while Jews were being murdered by the thousands.

Albert Camus

In 1948, in the shadow of that monstrous world war, the French author/philosopher Albert Camus accepted an invitation from the Dominican Monastery of Latour-Maubourg.

To their credit, the Dominicans wanted to know what an “unbeliever” thought about Christians in the light of their behavior during the Thirties and Forties. Camus’ words seem so terribly relevant today that it is difficult to trim them:

“For a long time during those frightful years I waited for a great voice to speak up in Rome. I, an unbeliever? Precisely. For I knew that the spirit would be lost if it did not utter a cry of condemnation…

“It has been explained to me since, that the condemnation was indeed voiced. But that it was in the style of the encyclicals, which is not all that clear. The condemnation was voiced and it was not understood. Who could fail to feel where the true condemnation lies in this case?

“What the world expects of Christians is that Christians should speak out, loud and clear, and that they should voice their condemnation in such a way that never a doubt, never the slightest doubt, could rise in the heart of the simplest man.

“That they should get away from abstraction and confront the blood-stained face history has taken on today.

“It may be … that Christianity will insist on maintaining a compromise, or else on giving its condemnations the obscure form of the encyclical. Possibly it will insist on losing once and for all the virtue of revolt and indignation that belonged to it long ago.

“What I know – and what sometimes creates a deep longing in me – is that if Christians made up their mind to it, millions of voices – millions, I say – throughout the world would be added to the appeal of a handful of isolated individuals, who, without any sort of affiliation, today intercede almost everywhere and ceaselessly for children and other people.”
(Excerpted from Resistance, Rebellion, and Death: Essays)

Sixty years ago!

Perhaps the Dominican monks took Camus seriously; monks tend to listen. Vatican functionaries, on the other hand, tend to know it all, and to urge the pope to be “discrete.”

You saw that this past week with the pope in Washington and New York, as he forfeited the opportunity to follow the biblical injunction to speak truth to power – to speak out clearly, as Camus suggested, with moral authority.

Catholics All Around

Think back to last week and all the prominent Catholics who flocked to see the pope – many of them officials with considerable influence in the Judiciary and Legislature, with some important players in the Executive Branch as well.

There they were, with their families, the five Catholic Supreme Court justices, fresh from detailed deliberations on how best to implement state-sponsored killings, executions that are banned by virtually every civilized country.

Justice Scalia audibly salivated over how much noxious chemical should be shot into the veins of a “condemned,” and how quickly. (For those with strong stomachs, C-SPAN captured the proceedings.)

I am embarrassed to acknowledge that, like me, Scalia is the product of a Jesuit education (Xavier H.S. in Manhattan and Georgetown College). Despite his advocacy of “soft” torture techniques like driving nails under fingernails, Scalia continues to be lionized by many Jesuits and bishops alike.

In the House? Speaker Nancy Pelosi, erstwhile doyenne of the Archdiocese of Baltimore and now San Francisco, and minority leader John Boehner, R-Ohio – Catholics both – are about to allocate another hundred billion dollars to death and destruction in Iraq and Afghanistan for the most reprehensibly crass of political purposes – the coming election.

Rep. Jim McGovern, D-Massachusetts, last week tried to guild the lily, noting that Pelosi now insists that, in McGovern’s words, “We’re an equal branch of government; we’re no longer a cheap date.” Right.

Sadly, it appears that Pelosi’s key functionaries on House Appropriations (both of them Catholics) will cave in once again.

It is not as though they do not know the right thing to do. Just six months ago, Appropriations chair Dave Obey, D-Wisconsin, declared, “I have no intention of reporting out of committee anytime in this session of Congress any such [funding] request that simply serves to continue the status quo.”

Subcommittee chair John Murtha, D-Pennsylvania, put it even more strongly a year before Obey did, and came close to calling the occupation of Iraq a lost cause – which, of course, it is. But it is not politic to say that before the election. Never mind the troops on the front lines.

Obey and Murtha caved last time. I will find it particularly devastating if Obey caves again now, for I have always considered him among the best legislators in Congress.

And since he is from Wisconsin, Obey recognizes better than others the McCarthy-ite demagoguery coming from the likes of Texas Republican Michael Burgess, to the effect that anything short of giving the president all the war funding he demands is “basically giving aid and comfort to the enemy.”

Pelosi also has been unusually candid in admitting that it is electoral politics, pure and simple, that explain her resistance to holding President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney accountable for high crimes and misdemeanors via the orderly procedure given us by the Founders for precisely this purpose – impeachment in the House; trial in the Senate.

If, as widely expected, the war funding goes through, several hundred more American troops are likely to die before some common sense can be injected into U.S. policy next year – not to mention how many Iraqis.

Iraq is a shambles. Two million Iraqis have fled abroad; another two million are internal refugees. Am I the only one who finds macabre the raging debate as to whether the attack and occupation of Iraq has resulted in a million or “only 300,000” Iraqis dead?

Apparently, the pope did not have any opinion on the Iraq War.

But Torture?

Surely the pope would speak out against the kind of torture for which our country has become famous: Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo, CIA “black sites” – the more so, since Jesus of Nazareth was tortured to death.

The pope chose silence, which presumably came as welcome relief to four-star torturer’s apprentice, Gen. Michael Hayden, now head of the CIA.

The White House has made clear that Hayden is ready to instruct his torturers to waterboard again, upon Caesar’s approval.

Hayden proved his mettle when he was head of the National Security Agency. He saluted smartly when the president and vice president told him to disregard the Foreign Intelligence and Surveillance Act and his oath to defend the Constitution.

One of Hayden’s predecessors as NSA director asserted that Hayden should have been court-martialed. Pelosi was briefed both on the illegal surveillance and the torture, but did nothing.

Having demonstrated his allegiance to the president, Hayden was picked to head the CIA. The general likes to brag about his moral training and Catholic credentials. At his nomination hearing, he noted that he was the beneficiary of 18 years of Catholic education.

All the while it was quite clear he was positively lusting to be in charge of waterboarding and other torture techniques – whatever you say, boss.

I was somewhat crestfallen after adding up my own years of Catholic education – only 17. Clearly I missed “Enhanced Interrogation Techniques 301.”

Keep It General; Focus on Others’ Sins

Saturday at the UN, the pontiff pontificated on “God-given human rights” and “massive human rights abuses,” but pretty much left it at that. The Washington Post reported that the pope was “short on specifics and long on broad themes.”

But there was one specific. Here in the U.S., the pope seemed to prefer to dwell on the pedophilia scandal – to the exclusion of much else. He is to be applauded for meeting with victims of clergy sexual abuse and expressing deep shame, but he got a free pass from the media in disguising his own role in trying to cover the whole thing up.

While still Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, he headed The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith – the Vatican office that once ran the Inquisition. In that capacity he sent a letter in May 2001 to all Catholic bishops throwing a curtain of secrecy over the widespread sexual abuse by clergy, warning the bishops of severe penalties, including excommunication for breaching “pontifical secrets.”

Lawyers acting for the sexually abused accused Ratzinger of “clear obstruction of justice.”

Very few American bishops have been disciplined. And when Bernard Cardinal Law was run out of Boston for failing to protect children from predator priests, he was given a cushy sinecure in Rome; many believe he should be behind bars.

In an interview with the Catholic News Service in 2002, Ratzinger branded media coverage of the pedophilia scandal “a planned campaign … intentional, manipulated, a desire to discredit the Church.”

It is nice that the pope has now changed his tune. Nicer still for him, he found himself mostly in the congenial atmosphere of Washington, where very few powerful miscreants are held accountable.

So What Did You Expect?

I do wish my friends would stop asking me that.

While it was good that the pope addressed the pedophilia issue head on, it seemed as though he made a decision to devote time and energy to the issue.

The side-benefit, of course, was being able to speak in glorious generality on other major issues – war, torture, capital punishment – in all of which, as we have seen, many of “the faithful” are deeply engaged – embarrassingly engaged.

I had hoped – naively, it turned out – that the pope might encourage his brother bishops to find the courage to state plainly what 88 bishops of the Methodist faith, George W. Bush’s tradition, declared on Nov. 8, 2005:

“We repent of our complicity in what we believe to be the unjust and immoral invasion and occupation of Iraq. In the face of the United States Administration’s rush toward military action based on misleading information, too many of us were silent.

“We confess our preoccupation with institutional enhancement and limited agendas while American men and women are sent to Iraq to kill and be killed, while thousands of Iraqi people needlessly suffer and die.”

I thought that perhaps the U.S. Catholic bishops could adopt the kind of resolution that 125 Methodist bishops signed on Nov. 9, 2007. It called for an immediate withdrawal of troops from Iraq and the reversal of any plans to establish permanent military bases there.

The Methodist bishops’ resolution noted: “Every day that the war continues, more soldiers and innocent civilians are killed with no end in sight to the violence, bloodshed, and carnage.” And Bishop Jack Meadors summed up the situation nicely:

“The Iraq War is not just a political issue or a military issue. It is a moral issue.”

Holocaust Museum in Jerusalem

Visiting Yad VaShem, the Holocaust museum in West Jerusalem last summer, I experienced painful reminders of what happens when the church allows itself to be captured by Empire. An acquiescent church, it is clear, loses whatever residual moral authority it may have had.

At the entrance to the museum, a quotation by German essayist Kurt Tucholsky set a universally applicable tone:

“A country is not just what it does – it is also what it tolerates.”

Still more compelling words came from Imre Bathory, a Hungarian who put his own life at grave risk by helping to save Jews from the concentration camps:

“I know that when I stand before God on Judgment Day, I shall not be asked the question posed to Cain: ‘Where were you when your brother’s blood was crying out to God?’”

According to former President George H. W. Bush, George W. has “read the Bible straight through – twice.” Perhaps he skipped by that passage too quickly; or maybe he is highly selective as to whom he considers his brothers.

No excuse for Benedict, though; he knows better. And yet he opted to squander his glorious chance to speak out and make a difference.

Methodist Bishop Meadors is right; the war is a moral issue. But President Bush has refused, time and time again, to meet with his Methodist bishops. And now he has the imprimatur of the pope.

The bottom line is challenging: to the degree that right and wrong, moral and immoral considerations are to be injected into discussions about war, executions, torture – well, let’s face it. There is only us.

Ray McGovern works with Tell the Word, the publishing arm of the ecumenical Church of the Saviour in inner-city Washington, DC. He is on the Steering Group of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS).

To comment at Consortiumblog, click here. (To make a blog comment about this or other stories, you can use your normal e-mail address and password. Ignore the prompt for a Google account.) To comment to us by e-mail, click here. To donate so we can continue reporting and publishing stories like the one you just read, click here.

http://www.consortiumnews.com/2008/042108a.html


Oil running out as prime energy source: world poll

Sun Apr 20, 2008

By Deborah Zabarenko, Environment Correspondent

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Most people believe oil is running out and governments need to find another fuel, but Americans are alone in thinking their leaders are out of touch with reality on this issue, an international poll said on Sunday.

On average, 70 percent of respondents in 15 countries and the Palestinian territories said they thought oil supplies had peaked. Only 22 percent of the nearly 15,000 respondents in nations ranging from China to Mexico believed enough new oil would be found to keep it a primary fuel source.

"What's most striking is there's such a widespread consensus around the world that oil is running out and governments need to make a real effort to find new sources of energy," said Steven Kull, director of WorldPublicOpinion.org, a global research organization that conducted the poll.

Concerns over climate change, which is spurred by emissions from fossil fuels including oil, also were a factor among respondents, Kull said.

The current tightening of the oil market is not temporary but will continue and the price of oil will rise substantially, most respondents said.

"They think it's just going to keep going higher and a fundamental adaptation is necessary," Kull said in a telephone interview.

In the United States, the world's biggest oil consumer and among the biggest emitters of climate-warming pollution from fossil fuel use, 76 percent of respondents said oil is running out, but most believed the U.S. government mistakenly assumes there would be enough to keep oil a main source of fuel.

U.S. GOVERNMENT "NOT FACING REALITY"

"Americans perceive that the government is not facing reality," Kull said.

The United States is alone among major industrialized nations in rejecting the Kyoto Protocol, which aims to limit greenhouse gas emissions that exacerbate global warming.

Last week, President George W. Bush said U.S. greenhouse emissions, especially carbon dioxide spewed by the burning of fossil fuels like oil, would stop growing by 2025 but gave no details on how this would come about.

The announcement drew sharp criticism from environmental groups. Others pointed out this means emissions will continue to grow for the next 17 years.

Only in Nigeria did a majority -- 53 percent -- believe enough new oil would be found to keep it a primary energy source, a reflection of its status as a major oil exporter and member of OPEC.

The poll was conducted in China, India, the United States, Indonesia, Nigeria, Russia, Mexico, Britain, France, Iran, Azerbaijan, Ukraine, Egypt, Turkey, South Korea and the Palestinian territories.

The margin of error varied from country to country, ranging from plus or minus 3 percentage points to plus or minus 4.5 percentage points, Kull said.

WorldPublicOpinion.org involves research centers around the world, and the locations of these centers determined which countries were included in the poll. Kull noted that the poll included countries that make up 58 percent of the global population.

The project is managed by the Program on International Policy Attitudes at the University of Maryland.

(Editing by Xavier Briand)

(For more Reuters information on the environment, see here )

http://www.reuters.com/article/newsOne/idUSN1835277320080420?sp=true


Is there NOTHING the Bush Administration won’t LIE about?

18 veterans kill themselves EVERYDAY! Have I mentioned lately how much I hate Bush?


VA DELIBERATELY CONCEALED SUICIDE NUMBERS

AND RISK, INTERNAL E-MAILS SHOW -- E-mails from

Dr. Ira Katz, VA's mental health chief, show 18 vets a day

commit suicide and four to five of them are in VA care.

Earlier today, The New York Times had a BIG story about the VA's suicide prevention hotline. I wondered: Why this story and why now? That story here...
http://www.vawatchdog.org/08/nf08/nfAPR08/nf042208-1.htm

One reason, is the ongoing class-action lawsuit against the VA. The VA wanted some "good press." The latest on the lawsuit is here...
http://www.vawatchdog.org/08/nf08/nfAPR08/nf042108-1.htm

But, the real reason is that CBS News got the goods on the VA about veterans and suicide. Basically, the VA lied about veteran suicide numbers. And, the VA knew that CBS was going to release the story and "planted" the story in The Times.

Here are links to the incriminating e-mails...
http://www.cbsnews.com/htdocs/pdf/VA_email_021308.pdf
http://www.cbsnews.com/htdocs/pdf/VA_email_121507.pdf
http://www.cbsnews.com/htdocs/pdf/katzresponse.pdf

For more about CBS News reports on veterans and suicide, use the VA Watchdog search engine...click here...
http://www.yourvabenefits.org/sessearch.php?q=cbs+suicide&op=and

Video of this story is here...
http://www.vawatchdog.org/08/nf08/nfAPR08/nf042208-7.htm

Today's story here... http://www.cbsnews.co
m/stories/2008/04/21/cbsnews_investigates/main4032921.shtml


VA Hid Suicide Risk, Internal E-Mails Show

CBS/AP) The Department of Veterans Affairs came under fire again Monday, this time in California federal court where its facing a national lawsuit by veterans rights groups accusing the agency of not doing enough to stem a looming mental health crisis among veterans. As part of the lawsuit, internal e-mails raise questions as to whether top officials deliberately deceived the American public about the number of veterans attempting and committing suicide. CBS News chief investigative correspondent Armen Keteyian reports.

In San Francisco federal court Monday, attorneys for veterans' rights groups accused the VA of nothing less than a cover-up - deliberately concealing the real risk of suicide among veterans.

"The system is in crisis and unfortunately the VA is in denial," said Veterans Rights Attorney Gordon Erspamer.

The charges were backed by internal emails written by Dr. Ira Katz, the VA's head of Mental Health.

In the past, Katz has repeatedly insisted while the risk of suicide among veterans is serious, it's not outside the norm.

"There is no epidemic in suicide in VA," Katz told Keteyian in November.

But in this e-mail to his top media advisor, written two months ago, Katz appears to be saying something very different, stating: "Our suicide prevention coordinators are identifying about 1,000 suicide attempts per month among veterans we see in our metical facilities."

Katz's email was written shortly after the VA provided CBS News data showing there were only 790 attempted suicides in all 2007 - a fraction of Katz's estimate.

"This 12,000 attempted suicides per year shows clearly, without a doubt, that there is an epidemic of suicide among veterans," said Paul Sullivan of Veterans for Common Sense.

And it appears that Katz went out of his way to conceal these numbers.

First, he titled his e-mail: "Not for the CBS News Interview Request."

He opened it with "Shh!" - as in keep it quiet - before ending with
"Is this something we should (carefully) address … before someone stumbles on it?"

Today we showed the e-mail to Rep. Bob Filner, D-Calif., who chairs the House Committee on Veterans Affairs.

"This is disgraceful. This is a crime against our nation, our nation's veterans," Filner told CBS News. "They do not want to come to grips with the reality, with the truth."

And that's not all.

Last November when CBS News exposed an epidemic of more than 6,200 suicides in 2005 among those who had served in the military, Katz attacked our report.

"Their number is not, in fact, an accurate reflection of the rate," he said last November.

But it turns out they were, as Katz admitted in this e-mail, just three days later.

He wrote: there "are about 18 suicides per day among America's 25 million veterans."

That works out to about 6,570 per year, which Katz admits in the same e-mail, "is supported by the CBS numbers."

In an e-mail late Monday to CBS News, Katz wrote that the reason the numbers were not released was due to questions about the consistency and reliability of the findings - and that there was no public cover-up involved.

posted by Larry Scott
Founder and Editor
VA Watchdog dot Org

Don't forget to read all of today's VA News Flashes (click here)

Click here to make VA Watchdog dot Org your homepage

email Larry

Direct link http://www.vawatchdog.org/08/nf08/nfAPR08/nf042208-6.htm

TALKING VETERANS DOWN FROM DESPAIR (04-22-08)

VA suicide hotline has received more than 37,200 calls and made
more than 720 rescues -- sending out emergency responders
all over the country to find someone on a bridge, with a
gun in his hand, with a stomach full of pills.


AND STOP LOSS WILL CONTINUE!

Contracts mean nothing so learn a lesson here if you join the military you will become a permanent indentured servant! The only sure way out of stop-loss is in a body bag!


General: Army Needs 'stop-loss' Until Late 2009

Soldiers Moving Toward More Home Time, But Keeping Them Beyond Contracts To Continue

WASHINGTON, Apr. 21, 2008

(AP) It will be more than a year before the Army can end the unpopular practice of forcing soldiers to stay in the service beyond their retirement or re-enlistment dates, a top official said Monday.

Lt. Gen. James D. Thurman, deputy chief of staff for operations, said he hoped that wartime demand for troops will decline enough by around the fall of next year to end "stop-loss." He said there are more than 12,000 currently serving under the practice _ an action that critics have called a "backdoor draft."

Thurman also said that as officials continue to increase the size of the Army, it could be possible by the fall of 2011 for troops to be home two years for every year they are deployed.

The two issues of stop loss and long tours of duty have been among the Pentagon's most disliked practices among troops. Thousands have been forced to stay in the service beyond their contracts since the start of the global war on terrorism. And tours of duty were increased to 15 months from 12 months a year ago so the Army could come up with the extra forces President Bush ordered for the troop buildup in Iraq.

Now that most of the extra troops are being drawn down by the end of July, Bush early this month ordered the tours cut back to 12 months, a move Thurman said would help the Army begin to restore its balance.

"We want to reduce the strain and stress on our soldiers and our families," he told a Pentagon news conference.

There are currently 17 Army combat brigade teams deployed _ 15 in Iraq and two in Afghanistan. Two are scheduled to come out of Iraq in the drawdown.

Though that allows officials to shorten tour lengths, it will be a while before they also can end stop-loss, he said.

"As the demand (for troops) comes down, we should be able to get us weaned off of stop-loss ... it's our intent to do that," Thurman said.

"But the demand exceeds supply right now," he told a Pentagon news conference.

He said he hoped, but couldn't promise, that if demand stabilized at around 15 brigades, the use of stop-loss could be ended by the end of budget year 2009, or beginning of budget year 2010.

Those currently being held even though their service is supposed to be finished include more than 6,800 active-duty Army, about 3,800 in the Army National Guard and close to 1,500 in the Reserves, he said.

The high tempo of operations in recent years has not only strained troops and increased separations and stress on their families, but prevented troops from training for the full range of possible operations. They have focused training on counterinsurgency operations and neglected other skills because counterinsurgency is what's needed in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Though the Pentagon is expected to increase the number of troops in Afghanistan sometime next year, Thurman said he had not been asked for such troops.

"Could that happen? Yes," he said.

The United States now has about 31,000 troops there _ the most since the war began in October 2001 _ and also has been pressing the allies to contribute more.

http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2008/04/21/ap/cabstatepent/main4033239.shtml


Guest Column: Why stop-loss shouldn't be used in Iraq

Jonathan S. Miller

Issue date: 4/22/08 Section: Opinion

The government has largely admitted the original reason (justification) for intervention in Iraq - nuclear weapons were being developed in the state - was faulty or based upon false or faulty intelligence. If true, this would have been a legitimate national security concern, however poor or mistaken the means used to address it might have been. But after finding no evidence for nuclear weapon development in Iraq, the government under President George W. Bush immediately switched to moral arguments - getting rid of an evil dictator, establishing democracy in Iraq, etc. - to justify its continued intervention in Iraq.

Why, then, didn't the courts at this point begin to rule in favor of servicemen in Iraq who objected to having their originally agreed-upon terms of service extended against their will? Even though government officials had admitted the national security reasons for the original intervention were no longer valid, the courts continued to deny these servicemen, who wanted to leave Iraq or the service itself, their fundamental rights. Surely when the draft was abolished and Congress passed the original legislation allowing for stop-loss, which allowed the military to keep people in the service past their original terms of enlistment, they didn't allow it for any old reason. It had to be for genuine national security crises. What crisis was there when the government itself had admitted there was none? None, other than one delivered by engaging in some twisted and perverse logic that could make anything a crisis.

But the courts continued to rule against these servicemen and, in doing so, were implying these soldiers had no rights. The government could use them for any purpose whatsoever, not just for purposes of legitimate national defense. They had forfeited their rights when they joined the military and, in theory, could now be kept indefinitely. But does the law say that? It does not. But even if it did, that law would have been clearly unconstitutional. The courts were seriously amiss in defending these soldiers' constitutional rights. If these rulings are allowed to stand, a new class of citizens (Or shall we say non-citizens?) will have been established by the courts in the United States, without any rights whatsoever, except maybe to vote. The Defense Department will have found those robot soldiers it has been looking for.

When the president stated that we were fighting in Iraq to establish democracy and not to get rid of Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction, he forfeited the right to continue the war with unwilling personnel. He still could continue the war, but only with volunteers for that specific mission.

I am not saying that Bush's and Vice President Dick Cheney's original decision to intervene in Iraq, on the grounds that Hussein was developing nuclear weapons, wasn't also fraudulent. It was. But when they finally admitted it, or at least admitted they had been mistaken about the weapons, that should have ended it, right then and there (as I doubt Bush could have found sufficient numbers of volunteers to continue the war). But it didn't, and the real question is: Why? The answer and blame for this extends far beyond just Bush and Cheney and their administration or the military.

Once you get the unwilling participants out of Iraq, or any other location on the globe that is non-strategic (defining the term "strategic" in the narrowest sense of the word, meaning essential to the military safety of the U.S.), there are two questions you ask about those who remain in Iraq: Are their goals moral? And do their methods and plans indicate a reasonable possibility of achieving those goals? But these are questions you don't ask until all the unwilling participants are out of there.

Whether Barack Obama or the Democrats will follow such a policy as this is open to question. In at least one speech Obama gave, he only spoke of pulling the troops out of Iraq gradually. This is Nixon talk. This is what Nixon was saying in 1968 about Vietnam, or at least what he was practicing in Vietnam from 1969 onward, until the end of his presidency in 1974.

Jonathan S. Miller is a geography graduate student. He can be reached at jsmiller@geog.umd.edu.

http://media.www.diamondbackonline.com/media/storage/paper873/news/2008/04/22/Opinion/Guest.Column.Why.StopLoss.Shouldnt.Be.Used.In.Iraq-3339370.shtml


FIGHTING THE FERES DOCTRINE: SEEKING RECOURSE
FOR MILITARY MEDICAL MALPRACTICE
(04-21-08)

Outrage over a recent spate of incidents spurs fresh efforts
to overturn the Feres doctrine, a 1950 Supreme Court
decision denying active-duty service members the
right to sue over medical errors.
(with Video)

Direct link http://www.vawatchdog.org/



VETERANS' CLASS-ACTION LAWSUIT AGAINST
VA GOES TO TRIAL
(04-21-08)

Claims VA isn't doing enough to prevent
suicide and provide adequate mental
health care for veterans.

Direct link http://www.vawatchdog.org/


What made the FDA think drugs made in China would be safe when the toys they sent us were poisonous?

Hell China didn’t keep any of the medicine for themselves they exported it all to other countries, so I think they KNEW!

Heparin & FDA Drug Inspections

Today

Yesterday, the Food and Drug Admin. (FDA) cited a Chinese firm for impurities found in the blood thinner, heparin. Commissioner Andrew C. von Eschenbach appears at a House Energy and Commerce Subcmte. hearing on heparin and the FDA's Foreign Drug Inspection Program.

WATCH http://www.c-span.org/




FDA cites Chinese firm's manufacturing processes for heparin

By KEVIN FREKING – 16 hours ago

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Chinese manufacturer of a heparin ingredient does not have adequate systems for ensuring that the raw materials it uses are safe and that any impurities are removed, the Food and Drug Administration told the company Monday.

The FDA released a warning letter to Changzhou SPL Co., hours after Chinese officials voiced doubts that a contaminant identified in the blood thinner heparin caused severe allergic reactions in hundreds of U.S. patients.

The FDA told Changzhou SPL that it had "significant deviations" from good manufacturing processes. Until it complies, the agency will recommend disapproval of any new applications listing the company as the manufacturer of any active pharmaceutical ingredient.

Raw heparin is derived from pig intestines, often processed by small, unregistered workshops in China. Heparin is commonly used before certain types of surgery to prevent dangerous blood clots. Kidney patients also take it before undergoing dialysis.

The raw ingredient for Baxter International's recalled heparin came from Wisconsin-based Scientific Protein Laboratories, which in turn owns a Chinese factory — Changzhou SPL — and buys additional raw heparin from other Chinese suppliers.

The company said it regretted FDA's decision and that it did not believe the warning letter reflected Changzhou SPL's actual state of compliance with good manufacturing practices.

At an embassy news conference, Chinese officials said the problems linked to heparin could have occurred in the United States, or that chronic conditions in some patients led to severe reactions. They plan to visit a Baxter International plant in Cherry Hill, N.J., to get a better picture of heparin's development. They also hope to take back some samples for their investigation.

"When you see it, then you believe it," said Jin Shaohong, the deputy director general for the National Institute for the Control of Pharmaceutical and Biological Products in China.

The FDA has counted 62 deaths from allergic-style reactions that were associated with recalled heparin batches. The FDA can't say for sure what caused the reactions, but the chief suspect is a contaminant that the agency discovered in supplies of raw heparin coming from China — a compound derived from animal cartilage that so closely mimics heparin that routine purity tests can't detect it.

Germany also discovered the contaminant and recalled batches of heparin after some patient illnesses.

But the Chinese officials contended Monday that batches not containing the contaminant — called oversulfated chondroitin — also have been associated with side effects.

"The oversulfated chondroitin can therefore not be a suspected root cause of heparin adverse events as reported in U.S. media previously," Shaohong said.

Baxter denied that claim.

"We do not agree with that," said Baxter spokeswoman Erin Gardiner. "We have seen adverse event reports on batches where the contaminant has been confirmed to be present."

Baxter was considering the Chinese officials' request for additional heparin samples for their own further testing, Gardiner said.

The Chinese officials also said that aside from the U.S. and Germany, more than 10 other countries used heparin containing the contaminant to produce their final injection but reported no side effects. Also, one batch of heparin injections free of the contaminants has resulted in about a hundred adverse events, of which 25 were serious.

The officials also noted that the implicated Chinese factory — Changzhou SPL — was managed and overseen by a manager from its U.S. headquarters. The heparin ingredient produced by the factory has all been exported.

"None has been sold into the Chinese domestic market," Shaohong said.

http://ap.google.com/article/ALeqM5iYOiZpfz8vLL3CRzyoqkXNgIQfZQD906F4E00




Mmm, funny our MSM is not reporting on the Puerto Rican Independence Movement. Why am I not surprised. This article is from last Wednesday.


FBI Continues It's Harassment on Puerto Rican Independence Movement

Cross posted from The Latin Americanist.

Just this morning, a Puerto Rican independence activist was payed a not so friendly visit by the FBI. Miguel Viqueira was getting ready to leave his home to go to work when armed FBI agents showed up, insulting and threatening Viqueira .

At 8:10 this morning, the FBI continued it's witch hunt by approaching Tania Delgado Soto as she left her home in Rio Piedras.


In both cases the FBI left when the individuals asserted their legal right not to speak to agents without a warrant and without legal counsel.

These very recent examples of the continued harassment of Puerto Rican activist demonstrates just how the U.S. federal government operates with regards to the Puerto Rican people and those determined to fight for the island's sovereignty. People are reminded that they have no legal responsibility to speak to federal agents, that when they are approached they should seek legal counsel, and report all incidents of harassment so that the Feds know that they are being watched.

Edited to add that now radio reports are coming in saying that up to four people have been harassed by armed FBI agents. There is also an unconfirmed report of an arrest. Information will be updated as I get the information.

Gracias to Jo Boriken for the information.

http://vivirlatino.com/2008/04/16/fbi-continues-its-harassment-on-puerto-rican-independence-movement.php




Al Qaeda No. 2: Attacks on Western nations in works
CNN - 50 minutes ago
CAIRO, Egypt (AP) -- Al Qaeda still has plans to target Western countries involved in the Iraq war, Osama bin Laden's chief deputy warns in an audiotape released Tuesday to answer questions posed by followers.
Al-Qaeda leader Zawahiri slams UN presence in Lebanon Monsters and Critics.com
Al-Qaeda slams Hamas for making peace overture Australian News

Direct link http://www.cnn.com/2008/WORLD/meast/04/22/zawahiri.targets.ap/



Zimbabwe bristles at criticism of arms shipment
The Associated Press - 38 minutes ago
HARARE, Zimbabwe (AP) - Zimbabwe's government on Tuesday bristled at criticism it was receiving arms from China, as pressure mounted for neighboring African countries to keep the weapons from reaching their destination.
German bank gets impound order for Chinese ship's Zimbabwe-bound cargo International Herald Tribune
China may recall Zimbabwe weapons BBC News

Direct link http://ap.google.com/article/ALeqM5i4kT7pJlnuzY_vpKdTACcQYIPcvQD906TEG00


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Bush' Way of Bringing the Troops Home

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