Friday, July 11, 2008
Reality Bites BackWhy the U.S. Won't Attack Iran
By Tom Engelhardt
It's been on the minds of antiwar activists and war critics since 2003. And little wonder. If you don't remember the pre-invasion of Iraq neocon quip, "Everyone wants to go to Baghdad. Real men want to go to Tehran..." -- then take notice. Even before American troops entered Iraq, knocking off Iran was already "Regime Change: The Sequel." It was always on the Bush agenda and, for a faction of the administration led by Vice President Cheney, it evidently still is.
Add to that a series of provocative statements by President Bush, the Vice President, and other top U.S. officials and former officials. Take Cheney's daughter Elizabeth, who recently sent this verbal message to the Iranians: "[D]espite what you may be hearing from Congress, despite what you may be hearing from others in the administration who might be saying force isn't on the table... we're serious." Asked about an Israeli strike on Iran, she said: "I certainly don't think that we should do anything but support them." Similarly, former U.N. Ambassador John Bolton suggested that the Bush administration might launch an Iranian air assault in its last, post-election weeks in office.
Consider as well the evident relish with which the President and other top administration officials regularly refuse to take "all options" off that proverbial "table" (at which no one bothers to sit down to talk). Throw into the mix semi-official threats, warnings, and hair-raising leaks from Israeli officials and intelligence types about Iran's progress in producing a nuclear weapon and what Israel might do about it. Then there were those recent reports on a "major" Israeli "military exercise" in the Mediterranean that seemed to prefigure a future air assault on Iran. ("Several American officials said the Israeli exercise appeared to be an effort to develop the military's capacity to carry out long-range strikes and to demonstrate the seriousness with which Israel views Iran's nuclear program.")
From the other side of the American political aisle comes a language hardly less hair-raising, including Hillary Clinton's infamous comment about how the U.S. could "totally obliterate" Iran (in response to a hypothetical Iranian nuclear attack on Israel). Congressman Ron Paul recently reported that fellow representatives "have openly voiced support for a pre-emptive nuclear strike" on Iran, while the resolution soon to come before the House (H.J. Res. 362), supported by Democrats as well as Republicans, urges the imposition of the kind of sanctions and a naval blockade on Iran that would be tantamount to a declaration of war.
Stir in a string of new military bases the U.S. has been building within miles of the Iranian border, the repeated crescendos of U.S. military charges about Iranian-supplied weapons killing American soldiers in Iraq, and the revelation by Seymour Hersh, our premier investigative reporter, that, late last year, the Bush administration launched -- with the support of the Democratic leadership in Congress -- a $400 million covert program "designed to destabilize [Iran's] religious leadership," including cross-border activities by U.S. Special Operations Forces and a low-level war of terror through surrogates in regions where Baluchi and Ahwazi Arab minorities are strongest. (Precedents for this terror campaign include previous CIA-run campaigns in Afghanistan in the 1980s, using car bombs and even camel bombs against the Russians, and in Iraq in the 1990s, using car bombs and other explosives in an attempt to destabilize Saddam Hussein's regime.)
When Kreck refused, she was ticketed, escorted off the premises, and threatened with arrest if she tried to return. "Why is that offensive?" Kreck said of her sign. "Why would Republicans who voted for Bush find it offensive?"
· Vow comes on second day of ballistic missile tests
· Leaders threaten to shut vital oil route if attacked
The US vowed to defend Israel and its other allies in the Gulf, as Iran carried out its second ballistic missile test in two days yesterday.
As the situation worsened in the Gulf, the French oil company Total said it would pull out of a large-scale investment in an Iranian gas field - a serious blow to Tehran, which is keen to exploit its gas reserves, and a victory for the Bush administration, which has been seeking to isolate the Iranian government.
A spokeswoman for the company said it was too risky to invest in Iran at present.
Oil prices resumed climbing yesterday as Opec said it would not be able to replace any shortfalls if Iran were attacked and took its crude supplies off the market.
The second volley of missiles was launched by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, a politicised militia parallel to the regular army. The Pentagon, whose surveillance satellites and other technology track such launches, yesterday confirmed the second batch of missile tests, which were carried out at night.
Israel responded to the tests with a show of strength of its own, putting on display at the country's international Ben-Gurion airport its new spy and early warning plane, which can reach Iran. Israel also hinted that it would not hesitate to attack Iran's nuclear facilities.
According to official Iranian reports, the weapons tested included long-range Shahab-3 missiles, capable of reaching Israel and US bases in the region. The reports said the missiles had undisclosed special features. But the Pentagon insisted they were only short-range ones.
The Revolutionary Guard commander, Ali Jafari, referring to the second tests, was quoted as saying: "The manoeuvre brings power to the Islamic republic of Iran and is a lesson for its enemies."
Iran has threatened to shut the Strait of Hormuz, a vital route for Gulf oil exports, if it is attacked. Iran's state media said exercises yesterday involved divers and speedboats, as well as the launch of a high-speed torpedo called Hout. The missile tests and sea operations were an explicit response to Israeli manoeuvres last month, in which war planes were reported to be rehearsing air strikes against Iran's nuclear facilities.
The US secretary of state, Condoleezza Rice, made it clear yesterday that the US would step in if Israel were attacked.
Telecoms Let Off the Hook for Illegal Spying - For Now
Washington, D.C. - The U.S. Senate this afternoon passed the FISA Amendments Act, broadly expanding the president's warrantless surveillance authority and unconstitutionally granting retroactive immunity to telecommunications companies that participated in the president's illegal domestic wiretapping program. The House of Representatives passed the same bill last month, and President Bush is expected to sign the legislation into law shortly.
"It is an immeasurable tragedy that just after its return from the Fourth of July holiday, the Senate has chosen to pass a bill that betrays the spirit of 1776 by radically expanding the president's spying powers and granting immunity to the companies that colluded in his illegal surveillance program," said Senior Staff Attorney Kevin Bankston of the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF). "This so-called compromise bill represents a shameful capitulation to the overreaching demands of an imperial president. As Senator Leahy put it in yesterday's debate, the retroactive immunity provision of the bill upends the scales of justice and makes Congress and the courts handmaidens to the White House's cover-up of its illegal surveillance program."
The FISA Amendments Act won passage after several amendments intended to remove or modify the bill's immunity provision failed to pass. One amendment, offered by Senator Christopher Dodd, would have stripped immunity from the bill altogether. Another, introduced by Senator Jeff Bingaman, would have stayed the pending cases against the telecoms and delayed the implementation of the immunity provision until the Inspectors General of the Department of Justice and other U.S. government intelligence agencies finished their investigation into the spying program, thereby preventing Congress from granting immunity in the dark.
"We thank those senators who courageously opposed telecom immunity and vow to them, and to the American people, that the fight for accountability over the president's illegal surveillance is not over," said EFF Senior Staff Attorney Kurt Opsahl. "Even though Congress has failed to protect the privacy of Americans and uphold the rule of law, we will not abandon our defense of liberty. We will fight this unconstitutional grant of immunity in the courtroom and in the Congress, requesting repeal of the immunity in the next session, while seeking justice from the Judiciary. Nor can the lawless officials who approved this massive violation of Americans' rights rest easy, for we will file a new suit against the government and challenge warrantless wiretapping, past, present and future."
EFF is representing the plaintiffs in Hepting v. AT&T, a class action lawsuit brought on behalf of millions of AT&T customers whose private domestic communications and communications records were illegally handed over to the National Security Agency (NSA). EFF has been appointed co-coordinating counsel for all 47 of the outstanding lawsuits concerning the government's warrantless surveillance program.
For more information on the NSA spying:
Senior Staff Attorney
Electronic Frontier Foundation
Senior Staff Attorney
Electronic Frontier Foundation
Electronic Frontier Foundation
By BEN EVANS
WASHINGTON - Formerdefied a congressional subpoena and refused to testify Thursday about allegations of political pressure at the Justice Department, including whether he influenced the prosecution of a former .
, chairman of a House subcommittee, ruled with backing from fellow Democrats on the panel that Rove was breaking the law by refusing to cooperate — perhaps the first step toward holding him in contempt of Congress.
The White House has cited executive privilege as a reason he and others who serve or served in the administration should not testify, arguing that internal administration communications are confidential and that Congress cannot compel officials to testify. Rove says he is bound to follow the's guidance, although he has offered to answer questions specifically on the Siegelman case — but only with no transcript taken and not under oath.
Lawmakers subpoenaed Rove in May in an effort to force him to talk about whether he played a role in prosecutors' decisions to pursue cases against Democrats, such as former, or in firing federal prosecutors considered disloyal to the Bush administration.
What makes an English town so, well, English? It could be the bright red phone booths, the black taxicabs, or the Tudor architecture housing fish-and-chips shops. If that's so, then travelers can find their dose of classic England in a new city outside of Shanghai, China. Thames Town, which opened in 2006, is the spitting image of a small English town, right down to exact replicas of neighborhood eating establishments.
By David Swanson
Imagine that you've not eaten a decent meal in months, that the hunger is squeezing and burning you from the inside, and that suddenly you find yourself at an 18-course feast of a dinner -- say perhaps at a summit meeting of world leaders discussing food shortages. You sit down at the table, and they bring in giant platters of the most delicious foods, building a rolling mountain chain of delicacies from one end of the table to the other. On Thursday, July 10, 2008, Americans, rich and poor, had this experience. Our national sustenance is found in our Constitution and our Bill of Rights, and it's been many months that we've been deprived of them. In May of 2006, then House Speaker to be Nancy Pelosi had ordered impeachment "off the table." On Thursday, Congressman Dennis Kucinich put it back on, and we suddenly feasted our eyes on our recently lost Fourth Amendment, on our old staple Habeas Corpus, on our sweet Freedom of Speech, and on our bountiful right to be represented and hold our elected officials to the rule of law.
How did this happen? Millions of Americans made clear to Pelosi their demand for impeachment hearings for Cheney and Bush. And one member of Congress took unusual steps to bring impeachment back from exile. First Kucinich introduced 3 articles of impeachment against Cheney. Then he introduced 35 against Bush. And on Thursday he introduced a single article of impeachment against Bush charging him with misleading Congress into a war on Iraq. And in each case, Kucinich introduced his resolution on the floor of the House, forcing the issue into the media and public discourse, and forcing a vote by his colleagues.
Apparently feeling the pressure and reluctant to have Kucinich raise impeachment on a weekly basis, Pelosi told the media that she expected the Judiciary Committee to consider the matter this time, at least in some half-way sort-of-impeachment hearing. Kucinich held a press conference on Thursday at which he said that what he wants is an opportunity to present his proposals to the Judiciary Committee.
Imagine, for the sake of argument, that Kucinich gets what he's asking for or that Pelosi follows through on her statement in one way or another. The public pressure that has been building for over three years will have achieved a victory. The work of Judiciary Committee members led by Robert Wexler lobbying Chairman John Conyers to begin impeachment hearings will have contributed. But the proximate cause of Pelosi's restoration of impeachment to our public table will have been Kucinich's willingness to introduce impeachment resolutions.
CHICAGO (Reuters) - Some odd-looking fish fossils discovered in the bowels of several European museums may help solve a lingering question about evolutionary theory, U.S. researchers said on Wednesday.
The 50 million-year-old fossils -- which have one eye near the top of their heads -- help explain how flatfish such as flounder, sole and halibut developed the strange but useful trait of having both eyes on one side.
For flatfish, which lie on their sides at the bottom of the sea, this arrangement gives them the use of two watchful eyes.
But the trait has posed a problem for evolutionary biologists because no one had found any so-called transitional fossils -- fossils showing intermediate steps in the evolution of this trait.
"The important thing about this study is it delivers evidence of those intermediates," said Matt Friedman of The Field Museum and the, whose study appears in the journal Nature.
This missing link in the evolution of flatfishes has been seen as a hole in the theory of natural selection.
July 10th, 2008
Because he lives a green lifestyle. It was environment week at News Groper. While that might sound a little dry, it most certainly wasn't. In a News Groper exclusive, Dick Cheney published the missing six pages of the climate report he tore out, Radiohead's Thom Yorke is optimistic that 42 more years of diplomatic pleasantries will solve global warming and Al Gore is sick of talking about the environment. (Much like you?)
What shop for photos? by Mahmoud Ahmadinejad
You'd vote for McCain because of his pets? by Barack Obama
Those six missing pages in the climate report by Dick Cheney
F--- Mario Lopez and his abs by David Hasselhoff
This recession, like my hair, just needs an elaborate combover by Donald Trump
The News Groper Editors
News Groper is a network of fake parody blogs.
In a statement that appeared in Brazzil magazine, Brazilian Secretary of Development Ivan Ramalho remarked that he hoped the meetings would enhance trade with other countries in order to diminish Brazil's over-reliance on the U.S. market. Brazil's recent trade initiatives with other developing countries have emerged largely due to the reluctance of some developed nations to lower trade subsidies. This impedes Brazil's ability to trade, adding significantly to the current debate over rising food prices. In an official statement released after the first set of meetings, Michel Alaby, Secretary General of the Arab Brazilian Chamber of Commerce, called for solidarity among countries suffering from rising food prices and demanded that developed countries, especially the U.S. and Europe, eliminate international trade barriers in the agricultural sector (Brazzil Magazine). With the emerging agreements, Brazilian officials hope to call attention to the U.S.' highly inefficient corn-based ethanol production at the height of a snowballing food crisis. The government aspires to be a strong actor in the midst of the food crisis and plans to show the rest of the world the benefits of Brazil's efficient sugar ethanol market, while it professes to be executing projects stalling the destruction of the Amazon rainforest.