Monday, June 30, 2008

The Real Reason The U.S. Invaded Iraq

Iraq to award oil contracts to foreign companies
30/06/2008 11h02 AFP

BAGHDAD (AFP) - Iraq on Monday will award oil contracts to dozens of foreign companies in a bid to boost production that could also give multinationals a foothold in the country's huge but underdeveloped oil fields.

The oil ministry is to hold a press conference to announce the deals which include five technical support agreements with companies such as Shell, ExxonMobil, Chevron, Total and BHP Billiton, ministry spokesman Asim Jihad said.

The ministry also plans to sign contracts with 41 other foreign companies for extracting oil, Jihad had told AFP last week. These are expected to be short-term arrangements.

The contracts do not allow investments by the foreign companies in the oil sector but do pave the way for global energy giants to return to Iraq 36 years after executed dictator Saddam Hussein chased them out.

The move is also seen as a first step to access the third largest proven crude reserves on the planet.

Jihad had said the selected companies will have the first right to develop the fields once competitive bidding comes after the nation's long-delayed hydrocarbons law is passed by parliament.

Iraq wants to ramp up output by 500,000 barrels per day from the current average production of 2.5 million bpd, about equal to the amount being pumped before the US-led invasion in March 2003.

Exports of 2.11 million bpd currently form the bulk of the war-torn nation's revenues, and the oil ministry is keen to raise capacity over the next five years to 4.5 million bpd.

Iraq's crude reserves are estimated at about 115 billion barrels, but it is sorely lacking in infrastructure and the latest technology to which it was denied access under years of international sanctions after the 1991 Gulf War.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

I Guess It Doesn't Matter Anyway

U.S. Military Action In IRAN On the Rise

The Bush Administration, with the support of a Democrat-led Congress, is escalating covert military operations intended to de-stabilize Iran's current leadership.

Iran is a Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty signatory and has consistently maintained that its nuclear program is intended for civilian purposes only.

The National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) released in December last year, concluded Iran had halted its nuclear weapons program in 2003.

More recently, a May 26th 2008 report prepared by the International Atomic Energy Association (IAEA) criticized parts of Iran's nuclear program. Iranian leadership says the criticism is unfair and asserted the IAEA is being pressured by the U.S.

Seem familiar?

Don't forget, the U.S. is the only nation ever to have used nuclear weapons on civilians.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

U.S. Military Murders Unarmed Civilian In Iraq

Iraqi officials outraged by U.S. raid in prime minister's hometown

By Hannah Allam McClatchy Newspapers
Posted Friday, June 27, 2008

BAGHDAD, Iraq — Outraged Iraqi officials demanded an investigation into an early morning U.S. military raid Friday near the birthplace of Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki, saying the operation violated the terms of the handover of Karbala province to Iraqi security forces.

Karbala Gov. Oqeil al Khazaali said U.S. forces killed an unarmed civilian and arrested at least one person in the raid in the southern town of Janaja. The governor's brother, Hassanein al Khazaali, said late Friday that the Iraqi killed in the operation was a relative of the U.S.-backed prime minister. Read On

Friday, June 27, 2008

Retired General: "The Current Administration Has Committed War Crimes"

Source: AlterNet

By Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzalez, Democracy Now!. Posted June 23, 2008.

As Congress pieces together the White House torture program, former Army General Antonio Taguba condemns Bush's "systematic regime of torture."

Last Tuesday, the Senate Armed Services Committee held an eight-hour hearing that exposed the role of top Bush administration officials in authorizing the use of harsh interrogation techniques. Meanwhile, Retired Major General Antonio Taguba, the Army general who first investigated the abuse at Abu Ghraib, has accused the Bush administration of committing war crimes. "The commander in chief and those under him authorized a systematic regime of torture," Taguba said.

Juan Gonzalez: Retired General Antonio Taguba, who led the U.S. Army's investigation into the Abu Ghraib abuses, has accused the Bush administration of "a systematic regime of torture" and war crimes. Taguba's accusations appear in the preface to a new report released by Physicians for Human Rights. The report uses medical evidence to confirm first-hand accounts of eleven former prisoners who endured torture by U.S. personnel in Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantánamo Bay.

Taguba writes, "There is no longer any doubt as to whether the current administration has committed war crimes. The only question that remains to be answered is whether those who ordered the use of torture will be held to account." Read On

Chaos In Afghanistan

Bad and Getting Worse


Can anyone state exactly why foreign troops are fighting in Afghanistan? What is the collective aim, the specific mission, the ultimate objective, of the 60,000 soldiers there? I ask this because as I write the total of US deaths in Afghanistan “and region” is over 450, and news has come in of the killing of more British and American soldiers. And I wonder what all of them have died for.

There are three separate foreign military organizations in Afghanistan, and they conduct operations entirely differently. The International Security and Assistance Force, the NATO countries’ military contingents, and the independent US forces have no single overall headquarters ; they have entirely unrelated Rules of Engagement (a preposterous and almost unbelievable situation) ; and do not have a combined mission statement. If a young captain at any military college in the world were told to produce a planning paper for direction of military operations in a foreign country and came up with such a harebrained cockamamie muddle he would be laughed at and sent packing.


The situation in Afghanistan is bad and getting worse, but before sketching the history of foreign military failure in that harsh and barbaric country it should be noted that its eastern neighbor, Pakistan, remains host to the largest number of refugees existing in any one country in our horrible world. There is no other nation that has accepted so many displaced people for so long – or has received less international gratitude for its generosity to foreign exiles. There has been attentive care, of course, from the saintly UN High Commission for Refugees whose staff around the world rarely receive the recognition they deserve. But Pakistan has not received any acknowledgment, either, for its hosting of millions of Afghans, some of whom are intent on wrecking the country that has given them haven.
Read On

Sitting In Limbo

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Got Privacy Rights?

The powers that be are trying to eliminate the Constitution's Fourth Amendment, the one that is supposed to prohibit the government from subjecting us to unreasonable and warrantless searches and seizures.

I'm glad that some of our Congresspersons, including Senator Russ Feingold (D-WI), are willing to stand up and help us fight for our rights.

And I'm grateful for the free-speech rights that allow brave, independent journalists like Amy Goodman from Democracy Now! to bring us real news coverage.

Monday, June 23, 2008

A Rough Week

Yah, it's been awhile since this here blog's been updated. Sometimes I just need to step away from it. Last week was one of those times...

Our Democrat-led Congress, put in power by 'We the People' back in '06 to change direction in Iraq, once again caved into the Bush administration's demands for more money to fund illegal and immoral war into next year. I'm sick of government betrayal. We can really use a viable third party in our political system.

Let's see, we also have a new law created which sanctions warrantless wiretapping and grants retroactive immunity to the big telecommuniction companies that participated in the government's illegal spying program. Constitution Shmonstitution.

More of the horrifying truth about the United States' torture program came out. I've never felt so ashamed.

And it's looking more and more like the U.S. and/or client state Israel may attack Iran. President Bush has been traveling around Europe ramping up the anti-Iran rhetoric. Just what we, all the world's peace-loving people, don't need.

Friday, June 13, 2008

It Hurts Me Too

Iraqi Leadership Opposes U.S. Military, Political, and Economic Domination

The United Nations mandate that authorizes the U.S. military presence in Iraq is set to expire at the end of this year. Iraqi and U.S. leadership have been negotiating new terms. Things aren't going well and talks reached a dead end.

The Associated Press reported today that Iraqi leadership said U.S. proposals "violate Iraqi sovereignty." I can see why.

As the Washington Post reported, U.S. demands include:
-The perogative to maintain nearly 60 military bases in Iraq indefinitely
-The authority to detain and hold Iraqi citizens without turning them over to the Iraqi judicial system
-The perogative to control Iraqi airspace
-Immunity from Iraqi prosecution for both U.S. troops and private contractors
-The right to conduct military operations without Iraqi government approval

From McClatchy:
"The points that were put forth by the Americans were more abominable than the occupation," said Jalal al Din al Saghir, a leading lawmaker from the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq.

Nice fucking examples of freedom and democracy we're exhibiting for the rest of the world. Shame on us!

IRAQ: 'Special Weapons' Have a Fallout on Babies

By Ali al-Fadhily and Dahr Jamail*

FALLUJAH, Jun 12 (IPS) - Babies born in Fallujah are showing illnesses and deformities on a scale never seen before, doctors and residents say.

The new cases, and the number of deaths among children, have risen after "special weaponry" was used in the two massive bombing campaigns in Fallujah in 2004.

After denying it at first, the Pentagon admitted in November 2005 that white phosphorous, a restricted incendiary weapon, was used a year earlier in Fallujah. In addition, depleted uranium (DU) munitions, which contain low-level radioactive waste, were used heavily in Fallujah.

The Pentagon admits to having used 1,200 tonnes of DU in Iraq thus far. Many doctors believe DU to be the cause of a severe increase in the incidence of cancer in Iraq, as well as among U.S. veterans who served in the 1991 Gulf War and through the current occupation.

"We saw all the colours of the rainbow coming out of the exploding American shells and missiles," Ali Sarhan, a 50-year-old teacher who lived through the two U.S. sieges of 2004 told IPS. "I saw bodies that turned into bones and coal right after they were exposed to bombs that we learned later to be phosphorus.

"The most worrying is that many of our women have suffered loss of their babies, and some had babies born with deformations." Read On

Thursday, June 12, 2008

U.S. Military Kills Judge's Family with Napalm

(Warning: extremely disturbing images)
By Iraqirabita
Jun 11, 2008, 01:44

The Iraqi Rabita -League reveals crimes committed by the American occupation forces in conjunction with the Iraqi forces in Mosul

June 10, 2008 - In another round of American crimes against the people of Iraq, the information about to be provided, will show the extent of the American lawless hysteria and its total disregard for human lives. And will also show the criminal complicity of those who took the Americans as military and political allies and as friends and who provide to them their services -- all conducted in the Green Zone.

On the eve of Wenesday 11.7.2007, heavy fighting broke out in the Sheikh Fathi center in the Zanjilia district from unknown armed men.

American helicopter planes rushed and some of these unknown armed men fired at the planes.

The americans responded by using forbidden weapons and bombed the house of a Taha Al-Janbil, a Judge. All those who were in the house were immediately killed.

We met the Judge Taha. Al-Janbil who was not at home when this murder happened and he informed us of the following :

1)- After the crime, the Americans came to visit him and gave him the name of some senior American army member. So he understood that this was an attempt by some Americans to cover up for their crime --- by providing the name of a high up American army name.

2)- several TV stations and newspapers came to Mosul to see for themselves, but the following channels even though they received the reports refused to air or publish it - these channels were Dubai TV, Naharain TV and Baghdad TV.

3)- the judge Taha believes that the americans used weapons that are forbidden and he believes they were phosphorus bombs. One family member Farhan Ahmed who arrived at the scene tried saving another member but was burned himself when he tried carrying this family member and got his hands lightly burned. He went to the hospital to treat those light burns only to see that they turned green and he died from phosphorus/napalm poisoning .

4)- The members from Judge Taha Al-Janbil family who were killed that day by the Americans were.
- Ahmad Jamil Al-Janbil - 70 years old - the grandfather
- Hameeda Brahim al Balwee - 63 years old - the grandmother
- Farhan Ahmad Jameel - 43 years old - the son.
- Muawiya Ahmad Jameel - 30 years old - the son
- Ahmad Farhan Ahmad - 13 years old - the grandson
- Hatem Farhan Ahmad - 10 years old - the grandson.- the only survivor with severe burns
- Jameela Ahmad Jameel - the daughter and another 11 severly wounded from the homes in the vicinity.
Read On (warning: extremely disturbing images)

At Least 30 Civilians Killed by the US in Afghanistan..

Prof. Marc Herold, The Afghan Victim Memorial Project
June, 11, 2008

At least 30 civilians killed in the village of Ebrahim Kariz, Mata Khan district of Paktika Province. US occupation forces launched an air and ground attack upon the village allegedly targeting a "militant hideout."

Residents said that dozens of civilians were killed. Haji Mangal, a tribal leader, told the Deutsche Presse-Agentur (DPA) that "US aircraft bombed several houses in Ebrahim Kariz village and killed around 40 civilians…first the military forces bombed the area and then descended soldiers from helicopters," adding that the dead included women and children. Given the time of the attack (10 P.M.) this seems very probable.

Some hours later, An Afghan lawmaker from the province said he had spoken with several sources who told him 33 civilians were killed. 'I have information from the area that 33 people - including women, children, schoolteachers, school students - were killed in the air raid,' said Khalid Farouqi, member of the Afghan parliament. Farouqi said government sources told him eight of the dead were Taliban militants but added, 'I have accurate information from the area that all of them are civilians.'

U.S. occupation forces admitted that the dead included three women and a boy, but quickly shifted the blame in the scripted manner according to the tried practices of military news management: a senior U.S. military spokeswoman trained in "public relations", Lt. Col. Rumi Nielson-Green in Kabul called it "tragic" that civilians died because "militants" had put them in harm’s way. Amen.

The reporting by the news agencies is revealing. The wire story headlines were:

"U.S.-led Forces say Kill 4 Afghan Civilians in Raid" (Reuters on June 11 at 3:12 AM EDT)
"US Airstrikes Kill Several Afghan Civilians, say Survivors" (DPA on June 11 at 7:54 GMT)
"Four Civilians, Several Rebels Killed in Afghan Raid: US Forces" (AFP on June 11 at 4 AM EDT)
"Afghan Officials: 31 Killed in Airstrikes" (Associated Press on June 11 at 5:30 AM EDT)
"US Coalition: 4 Afghan Civilians, Militants Killed" (Associated Press on June 11 at 3 AM EDT)"
"35 Civilians Killed in Paktika Operation" (Pajhwok Afghan News on June 11 at about 6:45 AM EDT)
"US Airstrikes Kill 33 Civilians, says Afghan Lawmaker" (DPA on June 11 at 11:28 GMT)

As usual, the Associated Press serves as diligent stenographer of the Pentagon’s virtual reality, whereas DPA quotes survivors and local officials saying over 30 civilians were killed. The local independent Pajhwok Afghan News headlined 35 civilians killed in Paktika operation.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Pakistan condemns "cowardly" U.S. attack; 11 dead

By Kamran Haider

ISLAMABAD (Reuters) - Pakistan lodged a strong protest with the United States over an "unprovoked and cowardly" air strike by U.S. forces in Afghanistan that killed 11 Pakistani soldiers at a border post.

They died in the Mohmand region, opposite Afghanistan's Kunar province, late on Tuesday as U.S. coalition forces in Afghanistan battled militants attacking from Pakistan, a Pakistani security official said.

"The attack was unprovoked and a gross violation of international border between Pakistan and Afghanistan," the foreign ministry said in a statement.

"The senseless use of air power against a Pakistani border post by coalition forces is totally unacceptable." U.S. ambassador Anne Patterson was summoned to the Pakistani foreign ministry over the incident, a senior government official said.

In its strongest criticism of the U.S. military since joining the U.S.-led campaign against terrorism, the Pakistani military said the killing of the 11 paramilitary soldiers, including an officer, was "unprovoked and cowardly". Read On

Iraqis Condemn American Demands

Sides Negotiating U.S. Military Role

By Amit R. Paley and Karen DeYoung
Washington Post Foreign Service
Wednesday, June 11, 2008; A01

BAGHDAD, June 10 -- High-level negotiations over the future role of the U.S. military in Iraq have turned into an increasingly acrimonious public debate, with Iraqi politicians denouncing what they say are U.S. demands to maintain nearly 60 bases in their country indefinitely.

Top Iraqi officials are calling for a radical reduction of the U.S. military's role here after the U.N. mandate authorizing its presence expires at the end of this year. Encouraged by recent Iraqi military successes, government officials have said that the United States should agree to confine American troops to military bases unless the Iraqis ask for their assistance, with some saying Iraq might be better off without them.

"The Americans are making demands that would lead to the colonization of Iraq," said Sami al-Askari, a senior Shiite politician on parliament's foreign relations committee who is close to Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. "If we can't reach a fair agreement, many people think we should say, 'Goodbye, U.S. troops. We don't need you here anymore.' "

Congress has grown increasingly restive over the negotiations, which would produce a status of forces agreement setting out the legal rights and responsibilities of U.S. troops in Iraq and a broader "security framework" defining the political and military relationship between the two countries. Senior lawmakers of both parties have demanded more information and questioned the Bush administration's insistence that no legislative approval is required.

In Iraq, the willingness to consider calling for the departure of American troops represents a major shift for members of the U.S.-backed government. Maliki this week visited Iran, where Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the supreme leader, urged him to reject any long-term security arrangements with the United States. Read On

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Let's Impeach The President For Lying (and 34 other High Crimes & Misdemeanors)

Kucinich presents Bush impeachment articles

David Edwards and Mike Sheehan
Published: Monday June 9, 2008

An Ohio Democratic lawmaker and former presidential candidate has presented articles of impeachment against President George W. Bush to Congress.

Thirty-five articles were presented by Rep. Dennis Kucinich to the House of Representatives late Monday evening, airing live on C-SPAN.

"The House is not in order," said Kucinich to Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), upon which Pelosi pounded her gavel.

"Resolved," Kucinich then began, "that President George W. Bush be impeached for high crimes and misdemeanors, and that the following articles of impeachment be exhibited to the United States Senate. ...

"In his conduct while President of the United States, George W. Bush, in violation of his constitutional oath to faithfully execute the office of president of the United States, and to the best of his ability preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States, and in violation of his constitutional duty to take care that the laws be faithfully executed, has committed the following abuses of power..."

The first article Kucinich presented, and many that followed, regarded the war in Iraq: "Article 1 - Creating a secret propaganda campaign to manufacture a false case for war against Iraq."

Read On

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Former anti-terror czar: 'Someone should have to pay' for Bush administration lies

David Edwards and Muriel Kane
Published: Friday June 6, 2008

The Senate Intelligence Committee has released the long-delayed final phase of its report on prewar intelligence, highlighting the Bush administration's misuse of that intelligence to lead us into war in Iraq. Richard Clarke, former counterterrorism advisor to both the Clinton and Bush administrations, appeared on Countdown with Keith Olbermann to discuss the implications of the report. ( click here to view the report in PDF format )

Clarke stated unequivocally that figures in the administration lied then and that Senator John McCain is not telling the truth now when he defends them. "Someone should have to pay in some way," Clarke emphasized. "I just don't think we can let these people back into polite society."

"The report does not use the word 'lie,' Olbermann began. "Are there lies?"

"There certainly are," Clarke replied. "This is a big report, but what it says is 'statements by the president were not substantiated by intelligence ... statements by the president were contradicted by available intelligence. In other words, they made things up ... that people in the intelligence community at the time knew were not true. ... To say that this is only something we could have known years later is just not true."

"What are we to make now of Senator McCain's ... remarkable claim that every intel assessment of the time was screaming 'WMD'?" asked Olbermann.

"Senator McCain's statements are contradicted by the facts, too," Clarke replied firmly. "He's also now justifying the intelligence statements of the president. ... We have the proof, four years too late, that those statements were flat out wrong." Read On

Turn On Your Love Light

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

World Welcomes Obama Win

Jun 4 01:39 PM US/Eastern
By JILL LAWLESS, Associated Press Writer

LONDON (AP) - Barack Obama's triumph over Hillary Clinton triggered jubilation among his relatives in Kenya, hope among people around the world—and a few questions about what he actually stands for.

Many expressed optimism Wednesday that a November victory by Obama—who has relatives in Africa and childhood friends in Asia—would mark a major shift from the deeply unpopular policies of the Bush administration.

In Kenya, home to Obama's family on his father's side, the Kenya Times newspaper devoted its front page to the story, under the headline "Obama makes history."

"I've just watched him on television, and as a family we are very happy. Really, it is something that is a trendsetter," the politician's uncle, Said Obama, told The Associated Press from the port city of Kisumu in western Kenya.

In Mexico City, hairdresser Susan Mendoza's eyes lit up when she learned Obama had clinched the nomination.

"Bush was for the elite. Obama is of the people," she said.
Read On

The Great Immigration Panic

The New York Times
June 3, 2008

Someday, the country will recognize the true cost of its war on illegalimmigration. We don't mean dollars, though those are being squandered bythe billions. The true cost is to the national identity: the sense ofwho we are and what we value. It will hit us once the enforcement feverbreaks, when we look at what has been done and no longer recognize thecountry that did it.

A nation of immigrants is holding another nation of immigrants inbondage, exploiting its labor while ignoring its suffering, condemningits lawlessness while sealing off a path to living lawfully. The evidence is all around that something pragmatic and welcoming at theAmerican core has been eclipsed, or is slipping away.

An escalating campaign of raids in homes and workplaces has spreadindiscriminate terror among millions of people who pose no threat. Afterthe largest raid ever last month — at a meatpacking plant in Iowa —hundreds were swiftly force-fed through the legal system and sent to prison. Civil-rights lawyers complained, futilely, that workers had beensteamrolled into giving up their rights, treated more as a presumptivecriminal gang than as potentially exploited workers who deserved a fairhearing. The company that harnessed their desperation, like so manyothers, has faced no charges.

Immigrants in detention languish without lawyers and decent medical careeven when they are mortally ill. Lawmakers are struggling to imposestandards and oversight on a system deficient in both. Counties and towns with spare jail cells are lining up for federal contracts asprosecutions fill the system to bursting. Unbothered by the sight ofblameless children in prison scrubs, the government plans to build up tothree new family detention centers. Police all over are checking papers,empowered by politicians itching to enlist in the federal crusade.This is not about forcing people to go home and come back the right way. Ellis Island is closed. Legal paths are clogged or do not exist. Somebacklogs are so long that they are measured in decades or generations.

A bill to fix the system died a year ago this month. The currentstrategy, dreamed up by restrictionists and embraced by Republicans andsome Democrats, is to force millions into fear and poverty.There are few national figures standing firm against restrictionism.

Senator Edward Kennedy has bravely done so for four decades, but hisSenate colleagues who are running for president seem by comparison to bein hiding. John McCain supported sensible reform, but whenever hementions it, his party starts braying and he leaves the room. HillaryRodham Clinton has lost her voice on this issue more than once. BarackObama, gliding above the ugliness, might someday test his vision of anew politics against restrictionist hatred, but he has not yet done so.

The American public’s moderation on immigration reform, confirmed inpoll after poll, begs the candidates to confront the issue with courageand a plan. But they have been vague and discreet when they should beforceful and unflinching.

The restrictionist message is brutally simple — that illegal immigrantsdeserve no rights, mercy or hope. It refuses to recognize thatillegality is not an identity; it is a status that can be mended bymaking reparations and resuming a lawful life. Unless the nationcontains its enforcement compulsion, illegal immigrants will remainforever Them and never Us, subject to whatever abusive regimes thepowers of the moment may devise.

Every time this country has singled out a group of newly arrivedimmigrants for unjust punishment, the shame has echoed through history.

Think of the Chinese and Irish, Catholics and Americans of Japaneseancestry. Children someday will study the Great Immigration Panic of theearly 2000s, which harmed countless lives, wasted billions of dollarsand mocked the nation’s most deeply held values.

From http://www.nytimes. com/2008/ 06/03/opinion/ 03tue1.html

Chronology of a Lie

Iran and EFPs
By GARY LEUPP, CounterPunch

In his columns investigative journalist and historian Gareth Porter has been doing a masterful job of exposing Dick Cheney’s relentless campaign to vilify Iran, build a case for an attack, bomb the country and produce regime change before the administration’s term ends. The campaign as many have noted parallels in several ways the propaganda blitz that preceded the War in Iraq. Cheney and his neocons cabal seek to skew the reports of mainstream intelligence agencies to confirm their allegations (in this case, the existence of an Iranian nuclear weapons program as an immanent threat to Israel and the U.S., Iranian Quds Force training of Iraqi “insurgents” in Iranian camps, Iranian provision of explosively formed projectiles (EFPs) to these “insurgents,” Iranian contacts with al-Qaeda, etc.). If they fail to do this, they circumvent the intelligence community and find ways of disseminating disinformation through their own announcements, editorials by their supporters, and stories planted in the corporate press. Since Cheney got Bush to sign an Executive Order giving his office the same powers to classify as the president has, his operations are shrouded in secrecy. Read On

Americans: War Veterans Neglected

As part of the ongoing poll series, Debating Health: Election 2008, a recent survey by the Harvard Opinion Research Program at the Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) and Harris Interactive finds that a majority of Americans (62%) believe that wounded Iraq war veterans do not receive high quality care in military and Veteran's Administration (VA) hospitals once they return to the U.S. Similar majorities feel that veterans requiring rehabilitation care and mental health care do not receive high quality care (62% and 65% respectively). This survey follows a number of recent news stories on the quality of health care provided to Iraq war veterans.

Read On (Then Do Something)

Getting Past the 'Protein Myth' That Keeps People from Quitting Meat and Dairy

By Kathy Freston, Huffington Post. Posted June 3, 2008.

The way Americans obsess about protein, you'd think protein deficiency was the number one health problem in America. Of course it's not.

When I tell people that I'm a vegan, the most popular question, by far, inevitably follows: "But, how do you get enough protein?"

There it is again, I think, the meat industry's most potent weapon against vegetarianism -- the protein myth. And it is just that -- a myth.

In fact, humans need only 10 percent of the calories we consume to be from protein. Athletes and pregnant women need a little more, but if you're eating enough calories from a varied plant based diet, it's close to impossible to not to get enough.

The way Americans obsess about protein, you'd think protein deficiency was the number one health problem in America. Of course it's not -- it's not even on the list of the ailments that doctors are worried about in America or any other countries where basic caloric needs are being met.

What is on the list? Heart disease, cancer, diabetes, obesity -- diseases of affluence. Diseases linked to eating animal products. According to the American Dietetic Association, which looked at all of the science on vegetarian diets and found not just that they're healthy, but that they "provide health benefits in the prevention and treatment of certain diseases." Read On

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

If You Don't Who Else Will?

Why Australia Is Leaving Iraq

Prime Minister Rudd criticized the US justification for the 2003 invasion of Iraq as 550 Australian troops packed up to leave.

By Nick Squires Correspondent of The Christian Science Monitor
from the June 3, 2008 edition

Sydney, Australia - Australia's prime minister said Monday that the reasons used to justify joining the war in Iraq turned out to be false.

Labor leader Kevin Rudd made the remarks a day after ordering his country's 550 combat troops to head home after five years in Iraq.

As one of the United States' staunchest allies, Australia was quick to pledge military support for the US-led coalition invasion of Iraq in 2003. But that decision was made by conservative prime minister John Howard, whose 11 years in office came to an end in November's election.
Bringing home Australia's small but politically significant contingent of combat troops was one of Mr. Rudd's main election campaign pledges.

He dismissed one by one the reasons used by the Howard administration – and by association the Bush administration – to topple Saddam Hussein.

"Have further terrorist attacks been prevented? No, they have not been, as the victims of the Madrid train bombing will attest," Rudd told Parliament.

"Has any evidence of a link between weapons of mass destruction and the former Iraqi regime and terrorists been found? No.

"Have the actions of rogue states like Iran been moderated? No ... Iran's nuclear ambitions remain a fundamental challenge.

"After five years, has the humanitarian crisis in Iraq been removed? No, it has not."

Rudd said there had been a "failure to disclose to the Australian people the qualified nature of the intelligence. For example, the prewar warning that an attack on Iraq would increase the terrorist threat, not decrease it."

In response to Rudd's remarks, White House spokeswoman Dana Perino told reporters Monday that "we acted on the intelligence that we had.... No one else in the world, no other government, had different information and so we acted based on what was the threat that was presented to us."

Rudd, a former diplomat, also dismissed his predecessor's argument that Australia had been obliged to send troops to Iraq because of its longstanding alliance with the US. He said that while he valued the alliance, it did not mean that Canberra should automatically accede to US requests for military support.

Australia's defense minister, Joel Fitzgibbon, said that the country's military was overstretched with commitments in East Timor, Afghanistan, and Iraq. "Roughly half of our infantry and cavalry is somehow tied to those deployments. This is an unsustainable position," he said.

But Rudd said Australia would continue to keep its 1,000 troops now deployed in Afghanistan.
Brendan Nelson, leader of the opposition Liberal Party, said Australia's troops should stay in Iraq and continue their a training role.

Australian troops helped train 33,000 Iraqi Army soldiers and did reconstruction and aid work.
Rudd said 27 Australian soldiers had been wounded in Iraq since 2003. None had been killed.
Australia will still have about 800 military personnel in and around Iraq, including a 110-strong diplomatic security detachment in Baghdad, sailors on warships in the Persian Gulf, and Royal Australian Air Force crew.

• Material from the Associated Press was used in this report.