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Impeach Bush

Sixty sixpercen tof Americans oppose war without UN Authorization

Major religions not convinced

UN Experts to Rid Mustard Gas Shells

Business Supports Bush Deficits

Government Hits $6.4 Trillion Debt Limit

Iran set to go nuclea

Democrat Demands Iraqi Proof

IMF says conflict may cut global growth 50%

N. Korea Threatens to Abandon Armistice

66% of Americans oppose war without UN Authorization
GALLUP NEWS SERVICE
by David W. Moore and Frank Newport
February 21, 2003

PRINCETON, NJ -- The latest Gallup Poll finds that overall public support for military action against Iraq has faded slightly from the recent high point registered shortly after Secretary of State Colin Powell's speech to the U.N. Security Council on Feb. 5, but remains in solid majority territory at 59%. However, Americans continue to want international cooperation for such action. Support for war without a new U.N. vote authorizing it is only 30%, down 9 points from a poll conducted Feb. 7-9.

The poll also shows that Americans opposed to a war with Iraq are more intense in their beliefs than are those who favor military action. This results in a situation in which the number of Americans who feel intensely that war should be avoided is roughly equal to the number who are intensely in favor of war.

The poll, conducted Feb. 17-19, finds that 59% of Americans say they favor going to war in an attempt to remove Saddam Hussein from power. That's down slightly from the 63% who expressed this view right after Powell's United Nations appearance.

General support as measured by responses to this question has remained fairly stable since last fall, mostly in the mid- to high-50% range, except for a slight 5-point surge following Powell's presentation at the United Nations. In his appearance, the secretary of state presented evidence that purported to show Saddam Hussein had not complied with the U.N. resolution ordering Iraq to disarm. Since then, of course, the world has witnessed many large antiwar demonstrations across the globe, as well as a less-than-positive reaction by France in the U.N. Security Council to some of Powell's evidence, all of which could have affected American public opinion to some degree.

A special analysis of public support for the war shows that about half of those who express support would not be "upset" if the government decides against war with Iraq, leaving 29% of all Americans who support a war and would be upset if the government backed out now.

At the same time, less than one-quarter of those who oppose military action would not be upset if the government persists in going to war, leaving 30% of all Americans who oppose a war and would be upset if it occurs. This disparity in intensity of feeling on the two sides of the issue leaves the situation as a standoff in public opinion among those who feel most intensely about it -- with about 3 in 10 on either end of the spectrum.

This analysis shows that 4 in 10 Americans (41%) express what might be called a "permissive" opinion -- they say they are unsure which course of action they prefer (3%), or they lean toward one option but will not be upset if the government chooses to do the opposite (38%). This latter group includes 30% who lean in favor of war and 8% who lean against it.

The current results show a slight shift against war among those who feel intensely about the issue. In September 2002, with 58% of Americans giving general support for the war, the intense public tilted toward war by 34% to 26%, compared with the 29% to 30% standoff that currently exists. Still, about the same number (40%) could be classified as having a "permissive" opinion, willing to accept whatever the government decided.

Support for War Without U.N. Approval Drops

The appetite for U.S. military action against Iraq without United Nations support has waned over the last week and a half. In the latest poll, just 30% of Americans say the United States should take action unilaterally, down from the 39% who felt this way in the immediate aftermath of Powell's speech (in the Feb. 7-9 poll). Forty percent now say the United States should wait for a second U.N. resolution of support for war (up from 34% in the Feb. 7-9 poll), and another 26% oppose war regardless of what the United Nations does.

These results underscore the pivotal role that a new United Nations vote can have in helping Americans formalize their views on the pending war. As can be seen, about two-thirds of Americans (66%) can be characterized as opposing a war without a new U.N. vote. At the same time, about the same number (70%) can be characterized as supporting the war if the United Nations does in fact authorize it. Right now, it is unclear whether the United States can get enough votes in the U.N. Security Council -- without a veto from France, Russia, or China, -- to get that authorization.

These results are very similar to those reviewed above based on an analysis of the intensity of public opinion. About 3 out of 10 Americans are on either end of the spectrum -- those who generally support war regardless of what the U.N. does and/or are unlikely to change their minds, versus those who generally oppose war regardless of what the U.N. does and/or are also unlikely to change their minds. The remainder have more mixed feelings about the situation, and can be swayed by the specific conditions under which movement toward war may come about.

Public Perceives Tarnished Bush Image

Americans recognize that President Bush's image has suffered in the eyes of other countries' leaders as he continues to forcefully argue his administration's case for war in Iraq.

A majority of Americans, 55%, now say that leaders of other countries "don't have much respect" for Bush, while 40% disagree. Prior to 9/11, Americans were ambivalent about the respect of world leaders for the then-newly elected president. But in the first Gallup Poll following the onset of the war on terrorism in which this "respect" question was asked (February 2002), 75% of Americans felt that world leaders respected Bush. A year later, at the beginning of this month, Americans were evenly divided in their views of whether or not world leaders respected Bush. Now, in the wake of worldwide antiwar protests and the strongly negative reaction of such leaders as French President Jacques Chirac, the American public has moved to a distinctly more pessimistic assessment of Bush's image around the world.

It is interesting to note that the current figures are about the same as those measured twice during President Bill Clinton's tenure in office -- the first time in September 1994, and the other in May 2000.

Bush Job Approval at 58%

Bush's image has not changed dramatically among Americans in the past month. The just-completed poll shows Bush with a 58% job approval rating. That's a drop of three points from the Feb. 7-9 poll, but just a little below the average of 60% across the nine separate Gallup Polls conducted since the beginning of the new year.

Bush's job approval ratings are healthy by historical standards, but clearly much lower than they were throughout 2002. The current 58% rating remains about three points above the historical average for all presidents since World War II. Bush received the highest job approval rating in Gallup Poll history -- 90% -- in September 2001

Copyright ©2003 The Gallup Organization, Princeton, NJ. All rights reserved.

Commentary:
I have to comment on probably the stupidest thing I've read in a poll. Gallup says Americans think foreign leaders think less of Bush now as they did after Bill Clinton was tarred and feathered by the press and the self-righteous congress.

Bush has received almost around the clock favorable news coverage since 9/11, Bill Clinton was crucified, and Americans think foreign leaders think about the same about both. That is amazing. No matter how much the "war networks" push war Americans still think Bush is looking bad to the rest of the world. One has to wonder if maybe millions of people across the world demonstrating against our American Filter has anything to do with that opinion.


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Major religions not convinced
Zogby.com
2/16/2003)
- By Renee K. Gadoua , The Post Standard (Syracuse)

Possible Iraq war polarizes faiths
Church members don't always back leaders' positions, however

In the last two weeks, leaders of the Roman Catholic, United Methodist and Episcopal churches have renewed attempts to sway President George Bush from his campaign for a unilateral military attack on Iraq, while other religious leaders continue to support Bush. "Listen to the voice of hundreds of thousands of Americans and citizens of other countries who demonstrate for peace and ask your utmost restraint," Bishop Sharon Brown, president of the House of Bishops of the United Methodist Church - to which both President Bush and Vice President Cheney belong - wrote to Bush.

"Bush isn't going to pay any attention to that," said William Barnett, a LeMoyne College religious studies professor.

That's not unusual, he said.

"Most presidents have probably made a pretty cold, political calculation and are not influenced by the voices of the religious leadership," he said. "Other political officeholders, like Kennedy and Mario Cuomo, did not heed the leaders of their faith on certain issues."

While it's unclear whether any religious leaders are influencing Bush, his position is most in line with that of evangelical leaders, Barnett said. Defense of one's country

Support for Bush remains consistent from national evangelical leaders, such as Richard Land, president of the Southern Baptist Convention's Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission.

Luis Palau, the Portland, Ore.-based international evangelist who was in Syracuse in July for a Christian festival, recently expressed his support.

"The feeling, broadly speaking, among Christians who take the Bible seriously is that we are sacrificing our own men and women for the sake of the oppressed and for greater peace around the world," Palau said. "This war is just."

A recent survey by the American Jewish Committee found that 59 percent of American Jews approve of a U.S. military strike to remove Saddam Hussein. That support, some experts say, reflects concern about how war in Iraq will affect Israel.

Although Jewish organizations have taken different stands on the issue, the majority of Jews seem to support war with Iraq, said Rabbi Sheldon Ezring of Temple Society of Concord, a Reform synagogue in Syracuse.

"There is no doubt that under certain conditions, this war can be justified," he said. "If we are truly going to war to protect the world from weapons of mass destruction, then it's imperative to take such ability to cause chaos out of the hands of a leader like Hussein."

According to Jewish tradition, war can be justified when it is in defense of your country, Ezring said.

"If we are going to war because we are trying to remove weapons of mass destruction from a perpetrator of evil on his own people and his neighbors and a probable cause of terrorist attacks on our nation, then in my opinion, the war is justified and righteous," he said. "If we are going to war because of oil, or because of the president's desire to seek revenge for the assassination attempt on his father, then we should not be going to war."

It may seem inconsistent for clergy to justify war, Ezring said.

"Religious leaders have an obligation to pursue peace," he said. "Sometimes the pursuit of peace, sadly, comes from conflict." Faith opposition mounts

Mainline church leaders are continuing to challenge Bush.

Nationally and locally, pastors are sermonizing about the morality of war. Religious leaders, including Christian and Muslim clergy, are encouraging congregants to participate in protests, sign petitions and write their elected officials.

Members of St. Andrew the Apostle Catholic Church recently polled its congregation about placing an antiwar sign outside the church.

The Central New York Labor-Religion Coalition passed a resolution opposing war with Iraq.

Members of the First Unitarian Universalist Society of Syracuse last week adopted a statement, supported by 96 percent of the congregation, that opposes U.S. military action against Iraq.

Students at LeMoyne College, the region's only Catholic college, will hold a workshop Tuesday to discuss declaring the college a peace campus.

"Positions are beginning to harden," Barnett said. "Those traditions that tend to look at just-war tradition are those people who are speaking out against possible war. Those traditions that tend not to adopt just-war criteria are those that tend to favor the administration's policy."

The nation's Roman Catholic bishops, for example, declared in a September letter to Bush that war with Iraq cannot be morally justified. They relied on the centuries-old concept of just war, the conditions under which a war may be acceptable.

"The serious questions and concerns that we raised at that time remain valid and useful as Catholics and others reflect on the morality of a possible war with Iraq," Bishop John H. Ricard of Pensacola-Tallahassee, Fla., chairman of the bishops' international policy committee, said in a Feb. 7 letter to bishops that updates Roman Catholic leaders' position.

Pope John Paul II opposes a pre-emptive war with Iraq, and last week he sent a Vatican envoy to Baghdad on a peace mission.

Roman Catholic leaders reflect the position of many other Christian leaders.

The country's nine leading Eastern Orthodox bishops last week urged government leaders to "seek a peaceful resolution to the present challenge to the security and happiness of all humankind."

A delegation of American church leaders organized by the National Council of Churches met with French officials in Paris last week as part of a European tour aimed at consolidating international religious opposition to war.

A bishop in the United Methodist Church appears in a 30-second commercial that says a U.S. attack on Iraq would "violate God's law."

Presiding Bishop Frank Griswold of the Episcopal Church sent a letter to the president in which he urged Bush "to exhaust all diplomatic and multilateral initiatives as the alternative to waging war." Dissension in the ranks

Strong statements from denominational leaders do not necessarily mean agreement in the pews.

For example, Southern Baptist leaders have supported Bush, but the convention has not taken a stand.

And a December poll by LeMoyne College/Zogby International found that 66 percent of American Catholics say U.S. war with Iraq is justified.

"I'm finding there is some diversity," the Rev. Marilyn Baissa, pastor of Sauquoit Valley United Methodist Church said.

"Very early and pretty consistently, I've heard pretty strong voices against the war in my congregation," she said. "Of course, there are also some who support the president and think there are good reasons to go to war."

The Rev. Robert C. Ayres, a retired Episcopal priest who lives in Cazenovia, considers the antiwar sentiment of local and national Episcopal leaders misguided.

"Clerical leaders are naive about politics," the 75-year old former Naval Reserve chaplain said. "Politics is the art of the possible, not the art of the ideal."

He does not believe the majority of members of the American Episcopal Church agree with their denominational leader's stance.

"My experience is most people at the parish level are pretty middle-of-the-road," he said.

But the debate is healthy, he said.

"Even as a Conservative, I have a certain respect for people who stick their necks out," he said.

Even those who say war with Iraq is justified agree it would have terrible effects, including the death of civilians.

"My prayer is that Saddam Hussein's neighbors talk him into giving up power, or he opens the country up for total inspections and reveals anything that may have been hidden so we can stop the unnecessary loss of life that this war will bring about," Ezring said.

Ayres agreed.

"I will pray that God will forgive those who made war inevitable, and I shall certainly pray for those who are innocent," he said. "I'll also pray for all those splendid young people in our armed forces."

(2/16/2003)
     - By Renee K. Gadoua , The Post Standard (Syracuse)

Copyright 2003 by Zogby International.

Commentary:
I'm sure you've seen the countless articles in the press lately about Bush and his religion. From press reports he thinks he's at god's right hand. Never mind the fact his own religion and Bishop oppose him (and is running ads against Bush). Those who support war and go against their religion are hypocrites. Either you're a religious person and against this war or you're not. It never ceases to amaze me how often Americans call ourselves religious, but then believe in the opposite of what religion teaches.


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U.N. Experts to Rid Mustard Gas Shells
Washington Post
By CHARLES J. HANLEY
The Associated Press
Wednesday, February 12, 2003; 3:16 PM

Editor's Note:I've received numerous letters about Iraq not complying with the UN resolution etc. You guys need to stop listening to the War Networks and start reading. Start with this article, then ask yourself the question again.

Chemical weapons experts headed into the Iraqi desert Wednesday to destroy their first batch of banned Iraqi weapons - 10 leftover artillery shells filled with burning, disabling mustard gas.

Working with an Iraqi team, the U.N. specialists will take four or five days to eliminate the 155mm shells filled with lethal mustard gas. Baghdad, meanwhile, prepared legislation to outlaw such weapons as demanded by the United Nations.

A team of chemical specialists, working with Iraqi counterparts, began neutralizing the chemical shells at the al-Muthanna State Establishment, Iraq's main chemical weapons research and production facility in the 1980s.

It was a piece of unfinished business from the 1990s, when previous U.N. inspectors located the 155mm shells, but failed to destroy them.

The legislation also amounts to unfinished business, demanded years ago under U.N. resolutions that banned chemical, biological and nuclear weapons programs in Iraq. After talks last weekend with the chief U.N. arms inspectors, the Iraqis pledged to pass such a law in the coming days.

It was announced Wednesday that the National Assembly, which closely follows the dictates of President Saddam Hussein's government, would convene in special session Friday. The purpose was not announced, but it presumably will rush through the ban on weapons of mass destruction.

As the assembly meets in Baghdad, chief inspectors Hans Blix and Mohamed ElBaradei will be submitting reports to the U.N. Security Council in New York updating their assessments of Iraqi cooperation in the 11-week-old arms inspections process. Before leaving Iraq on Monday after two days of talks, Blix had said he was finding an improved "positive attitude" in Baghdad.

Among other things, the Iraqis agreed, after weeks of delay, to allow American U-2 reconnaissance flights over Iraq in support of the U.N. inspections.

The U.S. government, marshaling tens of thousands of troops in the Persian Gulf region, has threatened war against Iraq if, in its view, it is not disarming adequately. But the majority on the 15-nation Security Council - including Germany and veto-holding powers France, Russia and China - want the inspections to continue, and oppose U.S. plans for early military action.

Even Pope John Paul II is taking a hand in trying to head off a U.S. war. His special envoy, French Cardinal Roger Etchegaray, was in Baghdad on Wednesday awaiting a meeting with Saddam, with a personal message from the pope urging the Iraqi leader to cooperate fully with the U.N. inspectors.

Celebrating Mass at a Chaldean Catholic cathedral, Etchegaray led diplomats, government officials and ordinary Iraqis in prayers for peace.

"Who today, everywhere in the world, isn't talking and thinking about the grave threats that weigh on Iraq?" he asked.

At the United Nations, international missile experts found that an Iraqi missile exceeded the maximum 93-mile range allowed under U.N. resolutions, U.S. Ambassador John Negroponte said Wednesday. He said it is now up to Blix to recommend what to do about the violation.

The experts met Monday and Tuesday to examine Iraq's production of the al-Samoud 2 and al-Fatah missiles, which in some tests exceeded the maximum range allowed under Security Council resolutions in place since the 1991 Gulf War.

The Bush administration has said for months it has solid evidence Iraq has U.N.-prohibited weapons programs, but it has not produced proof. In its latest presentation Feb. 5 to the Security Council, Secretary of State Colin Powell cited old U.S. allegations that were subsequently investigated by U.N. inspectors, who did not report finding U.N. violations.

The United States insists that it is up to Iraq to offer conclusive proof that it has no weapons of mass destruction rather than for Washington and other governments to prove that it still has them.

In the latest effort to build a case against Iraq, Powell on Tuesday portrayed a new tape attributed to terrorist leader Osama bin Laden as showing a link between Iraq and bin Laden's al-Qaida network. In the tape, the speaker expresses support for Iraq in its confrontation with America, but also describes Saddam's Iraqi secular leadership as "infidels," that is, traitors to Islam.

Anti-terrorism experts have questioned whether such a link exists. On Wednesday, an Iraqi vice president, Taha Yassin Ramadan, rejected the U.S. allegation, telling Lebanese television, "Iraq does not host and did not host in the past and did not have any connection (with al-Qaida)."

Arms inspectors in the 1990s oversaw destruction of the bulk of Iraqi chemical and biological weapons, and dismantled Iraq's program to try to build nuclear weapons. The inspections resumed last November, after a four-year gap, to search for any remaining weapons or revived programs.

The only banned weapons or components inspectors have found are the previously known mustard-gas shells, and 18 empty artillery rocket warheads designed for chemical agents. Those unfilled warheads were discovered at various times in two locations by both U.N. inspectors and the Iraqi government.

Mustard, a liquid, gives off a vapor that burns and blisters exposed skin and damages the respiratory system when inhaled. It could not be learned immediately how the U.N. experts planned to neutralize the mustard at al-Muthanna, 40 miles northwest of Baghdad, but it can be done both through burning and by dilution with water.

© 2003 The Associated Press


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Business Supports Bush Deficits
Washington Post
By Jonathan Weisman
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, February 20, 2003; Page E01 ..

Using a reputation for playing hardball, and a little presidential persuasion, the Bush administration and its allies have swung the fractious business community into line behind the president's $665 billion economic growth plan, lobbyists say -- or at least driven any dissent underground.

When President Bush unveiled his economic plan, with its centerpiece proposal to slash taxes on corporate dividends, initial business reaction was muted at best, and hostile in some instances. But over the past two months, the White House and its conservative allies have pulled disparate groups in line.

Now, dividend-paying companies like Verizon Communications Inc. are stuffing fliers in with their dividend checks to talk up the president's plan. A broad coalition of large and small businesses, under the umbrella Tax Relief Coalition, agreed this month to establish a task force to sell the dividend plan. And another group of dividend-paying companies has begun meeting with Republican lobbyist Ed Gillespie in hopes of launching an advertising and talk-radio campaign on the president's behalf.

Such visible support is important, lawmakers and lobbyists said, because significant business opposition would signal to Congress that the plan had no basic constituency, much less broad political appeal.

"Given the rocky start this plan had, the White House probably feels okay about its position right now," said Kenneth J. Kies, a tax lobbyist and former director of the congressional Joint Tax Committee.

That shift was, at least in part, because White House officials and Republican House leaders let it be known that the Republican Congress would consider additional special-interest tax provisions as long as the groups seeking them were on Bush's team.

"If what people remember about you is that you are not helpful, you are probably not going to be first in line when we do the next tax bill," warned Grover G. Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform, who has helped the White House rally support behind its plan.

The new Bush budget proposes still more tax cuts, including an expensive proposal to create new savings plans that has met opposition from GOP House leaders.

Nowhere has the changing tone on the dividend proposal been more obvious than with the housing lobby, which briefly raised questions about the impact of that tax cut on low-income housing credits. When a Washington Post article indicated last week that a coalition of nine national housing lobbies had expressed concern over the issue, panic ensued.

The carefully crafted coalition collapsed in acrimony, as Republican-leaning interest groups such as the National Association of Realtors and the National Association of Home Builders scrambled to distance themselves from the new organization. A lobbyist for the Realtors group rushed to the White House with statements the group had made in support of the president's dividend proposal.

"The White House has a reputation of taking names and exacting punishment," said one housing lobbyist, who spoke on condition of anonymity. "I think this White House plays rougher [than predecessors], and I think they're proud of it."

White House allies scoffed at such assertions, attributing them to overactive imaginations. One Republican business lobbyist, who advises clients to keep any Bush criticism off their Web sites and official correspondences, conceded the White House's reputation for retribution might be based more on paranoia than experience.

White House spokeswoman Claire Buchan said the growing support for the plan can be traced to the president's own efforts to talk it up and a concerted effort to explain its benefits, especially the benefits of the complex dividend plan.

"Some provisions are very easy to understand. Others are very effective but take a little more explaining," she said.

Among those getting presidential attention were Senate Finance Committee Chairman Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa) and Senate Budget Committee Chairman Don Nickles (R-Okla.), both of whom had expressed some skepticism that the dividend plan could get through the Senate as written. Bush called the senators to the White House. His message was clear, according to aides and lobbyists familiar with the exchange. He was putting a substantial amount of personal political capital behind the plan. He expected it to pass, and he expected them to be with him.

When Grassley emerged from the meeting, the message appeared to have gotten through. "I think I should have kept my mouth shut," he told reporters.

When the dividend proposal was first unveiled, some business groups greedily eyed the estimated $385 billion loss in revenue over 10 years and figured that they would prefer to substitute their own long-standing tax preferences for the president's plan, said Gillespie, who is organizing business support for the president's plan.

High-technology groups went looking for tax relief. The alcohol lobby asked for a repeal of the 1991 excise tax on beer. One senior Senate Republican tax aide said lobbyists from wind energy companies and home-building firms came to Capitol Hill seeking to preserve tax credits whose value would be greatly diminished by the dividend tax plan.

But when it became clear that the White House had no plans to compromise, those business groups began falling into line, Gillespie said.

As one housing lobbyist put it, "this White House has made it clear that you're either with us on the plan or you're not. . . . If you're with us, we'll work with you on your concerns. And if it's the opposite, then the message is that you will not be in the tent. There will not be other concerns."

Not all dissent has been stifled, said Rep. Michael N. Castle (R-Del.). "My sense is that there are a number of outside groups still asking questions," he said. "They just take you aside and talk quietly."

Still, for the White House that is a lot better than negative quotes from unnamed business lobbyists that surfaced in the press in the weeks following the plan's rollout.

"They're so in line now it should be called in-line skating," Norquist boasted.

Commentary:
Any company or congressman that supports this plan should be boycotted or voted out of office. If you're sane and believe in fiscal sanity you can't support this president and his deficits

.

Obviously a lot of businesses are looking for financial rewards and kickbacks from Bush. After all they did buy his presidency.

If you wonder why deficits and debt soar under republican presidents look no further. Bush buys votes, in congress, from business and in foreign policy etc. The republican agenda is based on destroying the future of this country. Only a conservative doesn't know deficits and debt are future taxes.

As it stand now, Bush will give us the largest tax increase (the largest deficits) of any president in US history. Short-sighted people will ignore his evil agenda, but when the bill comes due, someone has to pay it. Topping it off, Bush is borrowing hundreds of billions so he can give it away--mostly to the rich. He has no shame.


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Government Hits $6.4 Trillion Debt Limit
Washington Post
By Martin Crutsinger
The Associated Press
Thursday, February 20, 2003; 11:18 AM

WASHINGTON -- Replaying a drama from last year, the government is once again bumping against the debt limit of $6.4 trillion and the Treasury Department has begun taking evasive actions to prevent an unprecedented default on the national debt.

Treasury Secretary John Snow informed leaders of Congress on Wednesday that the government would reach the borrowing limit on Thursday and he would begin pulling investments out of a $48 billion government pension fund to make room for normal public borrowing auctions.

In a reference to the looming possibility of a war with Iraq, Snow urged Congress to act without delay to raise the borrowing limit.

"I know that you share the president's and my commitment to maintaining the full faith and credit of the U.S. government, especially at this critical time," Snow said in his letter.

"Together we must continue working to enact an increase in the statutory debt limit as quickly as possible to avoid any negative repercussions at home or abroad," Snow said.

The drama was similar to one that unfolded last year as Congress finally raised the debt ceiling from $5.95 trillion to the current limit of $6.4 trillion on June 28, but only after months of debate and brinksmanship with then-Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill having to resort to ever-more elaborate procedures to shift funds in order to clear room for necessary borrowing.

Republicans will push to approve the Bush administration's request for a higher debt limit, citing the need to protect the country's excellent credit rating. U.S. Treasury securities are considered the safest investment in the world because the government has always met its obligations.

But Democrats are certain to use that request as a chance to criticize President Bush's tax cut policies, which they contend have led to record budget deficits and the need for a higher debt limit.

A group of conservative House Democrats promised to oppose any increase in the debt limit that was not coupled with a plan to deal with the rising deficits.

"Less than nine months after raising the federal debt ceiling by a whopping $450 billion, the Treasury Department is once again demanding a blank check from Congress," the Blue Dog Coalition said in a statement. "We will only do harm to our country, our economy and our citizens if the federal government continues to borrow and spend with no regard for the burden it places on taxpayers and generations to come."

Snow said the administration would begin making room for normal borrowing Thursday by not fully investing in the Government Securities Investment Fund, often called the G-fund. This fund, which totals $48 billion, is used by the government to credit earnings for federal employees' pensions.

Snow stressed in the letter that any investments taken out of the G-fund to make room for other government borrowing would be replaced with interest earnings once Congress passes a new debt ceiling. Congress currently is in a weeklong recess.

The government can take similar actions with other government funds and there is a possibility it could make it to April 15 when a flood of tax payments will bolster government coffers.

Last year, the administration sought an increase of $750 billion in the debt ceiling, hoping to avoid a second battle so soon in the new Congress. However, Democrats in the Senate successfully blocked that effort and the actual amount approved was a much smaller $450 billion.

This time, Brian Roseboro, Treasury's assistant secretary for financial management, said the administration is not asking for a specific amount, leaving that decision up to Congress.

In testimony last week, Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan said Congress should consider doing away with the debt limit, saying it "has never in my judgment been successful in doing what it is supposed to have been doing, namely constrain spending."

Roseboro said the administration agreed with that sentiment, citing a comment made by O'Neill last year when he called the debt ceiling "an abomination."

While the debate over the debt limit often grows intense, as a practical matter Congress would be very unlikely to allow government finances to reach a point where there would be the possibility of an actual default on any part of the national debt, given the effect that would have on the government's credit rating and future interest levels it would have to pay on its substantial debt.

The national debt subject to limit stood at $6.392 trillion as of Tuesday, just $8 billion shy of the $6.4 trillion limit.

© 2003 The Associated Press

Commentary:
According to the Treasury website the debt on Feb. 19 is $6.442 trillion. When Bush became president the debt was $5.7 trillion. In a little over two years Bush has created over $700 billion in NEW debt. Prior to Reagan (December of 1980) the debt was only $980 billion. In other words Bush has already created almost as much debt as all pre-Reagan generations combined.

Nasty huh?


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Iran set to go nuclear
ABCNews Wire/Reuters
February 20, 2003

— WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Bush administration, deeply concerned about Iran's announced plans to develop its own nuclear fuel, will accelerate talks with Russia aimed at preventing Tehran from acquiring full nuclear capability, U.S. officials said on Thursday.

The administration believes Tehran's public announcement this month about its nuclear fuel activities has made the Iranian nuclear problem far more difficult to resolve and that the onus is on Moscow, which has provided critical nuclear assistance to Tehran, to find a solution, the officials said.

Undersecretary of State John Bolton, the administration's top arms control and nonproliferation official, is expected to leave Washington on Sunday for talks with senior Russian officials in Moscow from Monday through Wednesday.

"A lot of the basis for the Russian argument that Iran's nuclear program is not a problem has now disappeared and we need to talk to them about that and to think about how to deal with Iran in the post-Saddam period," one U.S. official told Reuters, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Bolton's trip was set after Iran's atomic energy chief, Gholamreza Aqazadeh, said on Feb. 10 that the country had started an ambitious nuclear energy program and was poised to begin processing uranium. One day earlier, President Mohammad Khatami said Iran possessed uranium ore reserves and had begun mining operations in the Savand area, 125 miles from the central city of Yazd.

Copyright 2003 Reuters News Service. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Commentary:
North Korea is supposed to have gone nuclear already and now Iran is heading that way. Bush said the US would use nuclear weapons to stop any country from going nuclear when he issued his "first strike" doctrine. Needless to say, "first strike" isn't the detenant it was supposed to be, instead the opposite is happening. Two of Bush's three evil of axis nations are going or have gone nuclear already. Good job Bush. Can we put a bigger moron in the White House?


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Democrat Demands Iraqi Proof
Washington Post
By WILL LESTER
The Associated Press
Monday, February 17, 2003; 12:05 PM

Former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean says President Bush is focused on "the wrong war at the wrong time" and needs to do more for homeland defense such as providing money for emergency workers and suggesting more effective security measures.

"What happened to the war against al-Qaida," said the Democratic presidential candidate in the text of a speech he planned to deliver Monday afternoon at Drake University in Iowa, a key Democratic primary season battleground state. "Why has this administration taken us so far off track?" he asked.

Dean said he believes it is his "patriotic duty to urge a different path to protecting America's security."

He said the U.S. government should "focus on al-Qaida, which is an imminent threat and to use our resources to improve and strengthen our security while working with the other nations of the world to contain Saddam Hussein."

The former governor aimed his harshest criticism at Bush foreign policy, but he also targeted congressional rivals for the Democratic nomination.

"I do not believe the president should have been given a green light to drive the nation into conflict without the case having first been made to Congress and to the American people for why this war is necessary," Dean said. He noted that Congress should have required that he go through the United Nations before acting."

Dean says he would have opposed the resolution on war.

"That the president was given open-ended authority to go to war in Iraq resulted from a failure of too many in my party in Washington who postured for position instead of standing on principle," Dean said.

He has said he would be prepared to fight Iraq, even unilaterally, if it posed an imminent threat. That stance has been criticized by his Democratic rivals

Dean criticized Bush for "go-it-alone" policies that he said are reckless and have damaged relationships with long-standing allies.

Several other Democratic candidates who are members of Congress like North Carolina Sen. John Edwards, Missouri Rep. Dick Gephardt, Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry and Connecticut Sen. Joe Lieberman have voiced support for military action against Iraq. But they've also urged Bush to get the strongest international coalition possible. The Rev. Al Sharpton has expressed his opposition to the war.

Republican National Committee spokesman Jim Dyke said he found it interesting that this was one of the first times that a Democratic candidate "went after the other Democratic candidates. It will be interesting to see how they respond."

He questioned whether the more liberal base of Democratic voters in contests like the Iowa caucuses "will empower the more liberal candidates and pull the entire field further to the left, making it more difficult to appeal to all Americans that fall into the mainstream."

© 2003 The Associated Press

Commentary:
This is a guy worth watching. He has the balls to take on Bush and the morons in his own party. Where was the proof against Iraq when they voted to use force? There was none. IMO, those who voted for military action have little value in our political discourse. The sooner they go away the better.


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IMF says conflict may cut global growth 50%
Boston Globe
By Bloomberg News
2/18/2003

RIO DE JANEIRO -- A war in Iraq may cut the pace of global economic growth in half from last year by reducing investment and consumer spending, an International Monetary Fund official said.

Growth may fall to as little as 1.5 percent from 3 percent in 2002, Rogerio Zandamela, the IMF's representative in Brazil, said during conference on the world's economy. Without a war, global growth may accelerate to as much as 3.5 percent this year, Zandamela said, citing preliminary statistics. The IMF will release its World Economic Outlook in April.

The estimate, which comes as the United States tries to line up support for a war to disarm Iraq, shows that the effects of a conflict may spread beyond the Mideast, hurting Latin America and other developing regions most, Zandamela said. The extent of the economic fallout will depend on how long the war lasts, analysts said.

''If it's all over in a month, global confidence will come back quickly,'' said Peter West, an economist at Poalim Asset Management (UK) Ltd. in London, a unit of Bank Hapoalim Ltd., Israel's biggest bank. ''What's important is the duration of the war, and how bad the Middle East is left politically and economically.''

Support for a war receded last week after Hans Blix, the UN's chief weapons inspector, said Iraq has increased its cooperation.

Millions of antiwar demonstrators protested over the weekend, including crowds of more than 500,000 in capitals of Britain, Spain, and Italy, countries that have been the strongest supporters for President Bush.

The Brazilian real fell 2.3 percent in the five days ending Feb. 14 on concerns a war in Iraq would cause petroleum prices to rise and the economy to slow.

''The emerging markets may suffer the most because of risk aversion,'' said Kai Stefani, an economist with Dresdner Bank Lateinamerika AG in Hamburg.

This story ran on page E2 of the Boston Globe on 2/18/2003.
© Copyright 2003 Globe Newspaper Company.

Commentary:
While I always find words like "may" suspect, it's highly likely from this past year that the world economy can't grow as long as Bush is on the war path. His need to get reelected surpasses all other needs and war is his only hope.


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N. Korea Threatens to Abandon Armistice
YahooNews/AP
Mon Feb 17, 7:49 PM ET
By SANG-HUN CHOE
Associated Press Writer

SEOUL, South Korea - North Korea threatened on Tuesday to abandon the 1953 armistice that ended the Korean War, accusing the United States of plotting an attack on the communist state.

A spokesman of the North's Korean People's Army claimed that the United States was building up reinforcements around the Korean Peninsula in preparations to attack the North, said the North's official news agency KCNA.

"The situation is, therefore, getting more serious as the days go by as it is putting its plan for pre-emptive attacks on the (North) into practice," KCNA quoted the unidentified spokesman as saying.

The 1950-53 Korean War ended with an armistice, not a peace treaty, leaving the countries technically in a state of war. A North Korean withdrawal from the armistice would remove the main mechanism that is helping to keep an uneasy peace on the peninsula, where the border between the two Boreas is the world's most heavily armed.

The announcement is the latest move in a crisis over the North's recent decision to restart its nuclear programs in violations of international treaties.

Washington and its allies are pressuring North Korea to abandon its suspected nuclear weapon programs. The North has insisted on direct talks first with the United States, from which it wants a nonaggression treaty.

The North threat followed by a day a declaration by the communist state that it would triumph in the nuclear standoff.

That bluster came as South Korea's outgoing president, Kim Dae-jung , warned that Pyongyang's production of atomic weapons could force his country and Japan to build nuclear bombs as well. as South Korea warned that Pyongyang's production of atomic weapons could force the South and Japan to build nuclear bombs as well.

Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld has said that North Korea has one or two nuclear weapons and could extract enough plutonium within months to make six to eight more. North Korea had never admitted or denied having nuclear weapons, but has said it has the right to develop nuclear weapons.

The spokesman said the "grave situation created by the undisguised war acts committed by the U.S. in breach of the armistice agreement compels the Korean People's Army side, its warring party, to immediately take all steps to cope with it."

"If the U.S. side continues violating and misusing the armistice agreement as it pleases, there will be no need for the (North) to remain bound to the armistice agreement uncomfortably," the spokesman said.

The North Korean statement, which was carried by KCNA on Tuesday was issued Monday by the spokesman of the North Korean military's mission to Panmunjom, a truce village where the U.S.-led U.N. Command and the North Korean military meet to oversee the armistice.

The North accused the United States of violating the armistice agreement by sending reinforcements around the Korean Peninsula and planning to impose a naval blockade against the impoverished, communist state.

North Korea had previously threatened to pull out of the armistice in an attempt to increase tension with the United States and force Washington to start negotiations with the Stalinist regime in Pyongyang

Commentary:
I need to point the reader back to the fifth paragraph. It says; "The announcement is the latest move in a crisis over the North's recent decision to restart its nuclear programs in violations of international treaties." The reader is left wondering what treaties we're talking about. Most likely they mean the "NON-PROLIFERATION" treaty of 1968, but that treaty clearly says a country can pull out of the treaty.

Article X says; "1. Each party shall in exercising its national sovereignty have the right to withdraw from the Treaty if it decides that extraordinary events, related to the subject matter of this Treaty, have jeopardized the supreme interests of its country. It shall give notice of such withdrawal to all other Parties to the Treaty and to the United Nations Security Council three months in advance. Such notice shall include a statement of the extraordinary events it regards as having jeopardized its supreme interests."

Once again 'war reporters' (those who support war at all cost) don't know the facts because the facts don't fit their preconceived notions of who's right and who's wrong. They also mislead, lie or attempt to keep us uninformed with disinformation. A reader has to be very careful these days not to be deceived by the "war reporter."


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