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Impeach Bush

GOP Raises Debt Ceiling to Cuts Taxes
Taipei Times/Taiwan, Republic of China
Sunday, May 25, 2003,Page 11

The US Congress has narrowly passed a 10-year, US $350 billion tax cut bill embraced by US President George W. Bush as an economic stimulus but excoriated by some for giving too much to the rich.

Vice President Dick Cheney, who is president of the Senate, cast the tie-breaking ballot on Friday in a 51-50 Senate vote, hours after the measure passed 231-200 in the House of Representatives.

Though the bill is only about half as large as the US $726 billion "jobs and growth" program he originally proposed, Bush declared victory after passage of the bill.

"In passing this jobs and growth plan, Congress has taken a major step in the effort to boost economic growth and create jobs," Bush said.

"A growing economy is an urgent priority for all Americans, and I look forward to signing this bill and to seeing that tax relief is felt in paychecks quickly."

The votes were mainly along party lines in both houses of the Republican-controlled Congress, which scrambled to forge a compromise before adjourning for the Memorial Day holiday weekend.

"This bill doesn't go far enough, but it is a strong start," House Speaker Dennis Hastert said.

The bill contains US $320 billion in direct tax cuts, US $20 billion in aid to states and US $9.5 billion in refundable credits for families who don't earn enough to pay income taxes.

The most controversial part of the bill cuts taxes on dividends paid to shareholders and on capital gains to a maximum of 15 percent.

The bill also accelerates planned reductions in income tax rates: current tax rates of 27, 30, 35 and 38.6 percent would drop to 25, 28, 33 and 35 percent, respectively, and some 25 million households would get checks of up to US $400 per child as a tax credit.

The Treasury Department estimated the bill would provide some US $109 billion in tax relief in the 2003 calendar year.

To stay within the US $350 billion limit imposed by the Senate, the bill relies on a controversial "sunset" clause that causes the tax breaks to expire -- even though few expect future lawmakers to allow those taxes to be boosted.

Budget hawks have called this measure gimmickry and complain the massive cuts will cause a record budget deficit to get even bigger.

The Center for Budget and Policy Priorities, a think tank focused on budget issues, said lawmakers masked the true cost of the bill.

Under the most likely scenario, the center said, the package "will cost US $810 billion to US $1.06 trillion" over 10 years.

House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi called the tax bill "a tragedy," saying it does not create jobs or encourage economic growth.

"This tax cut is the unraveling of fiscal responsibility," Pelosi said. "By promoting his unnecessary, unfair, and fiscally unsound tax cut, President Bush created a tax cutting frenzy among Congressional Republicans. The result is a bill to put our children US $1 trillion in debt."

The final bill also stripped out some tax increases proposed by the Senate, including one that would have effectively increased taxes on Americans living abroad by eliminating an income exclusion of 80,000 per year.

A Time magazine survey taken in the two days ahead of the vote found 50 percent who said the bill would boost the economy but 57 percent said it would benefit the rich more than the middle class.

Economists say the bill should boost economic growth in the second half of this year by about one-half to one percentage point by giving more cash to consumers, who by spending more may induce businesses to expand investment and hiring.

Copyright © 1999-2003 The Taipei Times. All rights reserved.

Commentary:
The poll numbers have consistently shown Americans don't want this tax cut. The Gallup poll was even more dismal, with support in the 30-plus percent range. Conservatives don't care what you think. All they want to do is borrow tons of your money and give it to those who helped them buy power.


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Speaker disrupts RC graduation
Rockford Register Star
By CARRIE WATTERS
Story printed on: May 20,2003/Speech given on May 17

ROCKFORD — New York Times reporter Chris Hedges was booed off the stage Saturday at Rockford College's graduation because he gave an antiwar speech.

Two days later, graduates and family members, envisioning a "go out and make your mark' send-off, are still reeling.

Guests wanting to hear the author and Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter P>

And College President Paul Pribbenow is rethinking the wisdom of such controversial topics at future commencements. This is Pribbenow's first graduation.

Hedges began his abbreviated 18-minute speech comparing United States' policy in Iraq to pariahs and a tyranny over the weak. His microphone was unplugged within three minutes.

Voices of protest and the sound of foghorns grew.

Some graduates and audience members turned their backs to the speaker in silent protest. Others rushed up the aisle to vocally protest the remarks, and one student tossed his cap and gown to the stage before leaving.

Mary O'Neill of Capron, who earned a degree in elementary education, sat in her black cap and gown listening. She was stunned.

She turned to Pribbenow and asked him why he was letting the speech continue. He said it was freedom of speech. Pribbenow later said when people stop listening to ideas, even controversial ones, it is the death of institutions like 157-year-old Rockford College.

In tears, O'Neill left the ceremony.

Her husband, Kevin, sat in the audience with their daughter and was as indignant as his wife.

"This is a ceremony. ... The day belongs to the students. It doesn't belong to a political view,' he said.

Hedges, a war correspondent, criticized military heroic ideals that grow during war. The fervor sacrifices individual thought for temporarily belonging to something larger, he said.

Hedges sympathized with U.S. soldiers. He characterized them as boys from places such as Mississippi and Arkansas who joined the military because there were no job opportunities.

"War in the end is always about betrayal. Betrayal of the young by the old, of soldiers by politicians and idealists by cynics,' Hedges said in lecture fashion as jeers and "God Bless Americas' could be heard in the background.

After his microphone was again unplugged, Pribbenow told Hedges to wrap it up.

Elinor Radlund of Rockford read Hedges' book on war and was horrified at what she said was the audience's rude behavior. She was indignant she couldn't hear the speaker.

"They were not behaving as people in an academic setting, where you're supposed to be open to a great many ideas,' Radlund said.

Pribbenow said Rockford College takes no political stance, but the job is to challenge students. He reminded audience members of the liberal arts college's commitment to listening to other viewpoints.

It didn't happen.

Spontaneous reaction led 66-year-old Gerald Kehoe of rural Boone County down the aisle in his first time to protest anything. He was hurt to hear a verbal attack on the country. He attended Saturday's commencement to watch his daughter graduate, the fourth from Rockford College.

Rockford College political science professor Bob Evans said it's a reminder of the "raw edges of emotion' on the issue.

A student who rushed the stage could face reprimand although he still received his diploma.

"It's important to go on the record that it's inappropriate behavior,' Pribbenow said.

AUDIO: Listen to an audio track of the speech.

Contact: cwatters@registerstartower.com; 815-987-1242

Copyright © 2003 Rockford Register Star. Use of this site indicates your agreement to the Terms of Service (updated 12/18/02).

Commentary:
Once again we see how corrupt the media is. The headline says the speaker interrupted graduation. The writers of this article are morons. The speaker was an invited guest and the students were a bunch of children throwing a temper tantrum.

Contrast this childish behavior with that of liberals who walked out on republican Santorum speech a few days before. The liberals walked out without making a disturbance and without ruining everyone else's graduation.

If you haven't heard the speech, the audio can be heard at this link. It's about 4 meg. and it's well worth the listen–if for no other reason than to hear for yourself how corrupt certain parts of this country are becoming.


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Text of Chris Hedges Speech
Common Dreams/by the Rockford Register Star (Illinois)
Published on Wednesday, May 21, 2003

I want to speak to you today about war and empire.

Killing, or at least the worst of it, is over in Iraq. Although blood will continue to spill -- theirs and ours -- be prepared for this. For we are embarking on an occupation that, if history is any guide, will be as damaging to our souls as it will be to our prestige, power, and security. But this will come later as our empire expands and in all this we become pariahs, tyrants to others weaker than ourselves. Isolation always impairs judgment and we are very isolated now.

We have forfeited the good will, the empathy the world felt for us after 9-11. We have folded in on ourselves, we have severely weakened the delicate international coalitions and alliances that are vital in maintaining and promoting peace and we are part now of a dubious troika in the war against terror with Vladimir Putin and Ariel Sharon, two leaders who do not shrink in Palestine or Chechnya from carrying out acts of gratuitous and senseless acts of violence. We have become the company we keep.

The censure and perhaps the rage of much of the world, certainly one-fifth of the world's population which is Muslim, most of whom I'll remind you are not Arab, is upon us. Look today at the 14 people killed last night in several explosions in Casablanca. And this rage in a world where almost 50 percent of the planet struggles on less than two dollars a day will see us targeted. Terrorism will become a way of life, {boos begin] and when we are attacked we will, like our allies Putin and Sharon, lash out with greater fury. The circle of violence is a death spiral; no one escapes. We are spinning at a speed that we may not be able to hold. As we revel in our military prowess -- the sophistication of our military hardware and technology, for this is what most of the press coverage consisted of in Iraq -- we lose sight of the fact that just because we have the capacity to wage war it does not give us the right to wage war. This capacity has doomed empires in the past.

"Modern western civilization may perish," the theologian Reinhold Niebuhr warned, "because it falsely worshiped technology as a final good."

The real injustices, the Israeli occupation of Palestinian land, the brutal and corrupt dictatorships we fund in the Middle East, will mean that we will not rid the extremists who hate us with bombs. Indeed we will swell their ranks. Once you master people by force you depend on force for control. In your isolation you begin to make mistakes.

Fear engenders cruelty; cruelty, fear, insanity, and then paralysis. In the center of Dante's circle the damned remained motionless. We have blundered into a nation we know little about and are caught between bitter rivalries and competing ethnic groups and leaders we do not understand. We are trying to transplant a modern system of politics invented in Europe characterized, among other things, by the division of earth into independent secular states based on national citizenship in a land where the belief in a secular civil government is an alien creed. Iraq was a cesspool for the British when they occupied it in 1917; it will be a cesspool for us as well. The curfews, the armed clashes with angry crowds that leave scores of Iraqi dead, the military governor, the Christian Evangelical groups who are being allowed to follow on the heels of our occupying troops to try and teach Muslims about Jesus.

Hedges stops speaking because of a disturbance in the audience. Rockford College President Paul Pribbenow takes the microphone.

"My friends, one of the wonders of a liberal arts college is its ability and its deeply held commitment to academic freedom and the decision to listen to each other's opinions. (Crowd Cheers) If you wish to protest the speaker's remarks, I ask that you do it in silence, as some of you are doing in the back. That is perfectly appropriate but he has the right to offer his opinion here and we would like him to continue his remarks. (Fog Horn Blows, some cheer).

The occupation of the oil fields, the notion of the Kurds and the Shiites will listen to the demands of a centralized government in Baghdad, the same Kurds and Shiites who died by the tens of thousands in defiance of Sadaam Hussein, a man who happily butchered all of those who challenged him, and this ethnic rivalry has not gone away. The looting of Baghdad, or let me say the looting of Baghdad with the exception of the oil ministry and the interior ministry -- the only two ministries we bothered protecting -- is self immolation.

As someone who knows Iraq, speaks Arabic, and spent seven years in the Middle East, if the Iraqis believe rightly or wrongly that we come only for oil and occupation, that will begin a long bloody war of attrition; it is how they drove the British out and remember that, when the Israelis invaded southern Lebanon in 1982, they were greeted by the dispossessed Shiites as liberators. But within a few months, when the Shiites saw that the Israelis had come not as liberators but occupiers, they began to kill them. It was Israel who created Hezbollah and was Hezbollah that pushed Israel out of Southern Lebanon.

As William Butler Yeats wrote in "Meditations in Times Of Civil War," "We had fed the heart on fantasies / the hearts grown brutal from the fair."

This is a war of liberation in Iraq, but it is a war now of liberation by Iraqis from American occupation. And if you watch closely what is happening in Iraq, if you can see it through the abysmal coverage, you can see it in the lashing out of the terrorist death squads, the murder of Shiite leaders in mosques, and the assassination of our young soldiers in the streets. It is one that will soon be joined by Islamic radicals and we are far less secure today than we were before we bumbled into Iraq.

We will pay for this, but what saddens me most is that those who will by and large pay the highest price are poor kids from Mississippi or Alabama or Texas who could not get a decent job or health insurance and joined the army because it was all we offered them. For war in the end is always about betrayal, betrayal of the young by the old, of soldiers by politicians, and of idealists by cynics. Read Antigone, when the king imposes his will without listening to those he rules or Thucydides' history. Read how Athens' expanding empire saw it become a tyrant abroad and then a tyrant at home. How the tyranny the Athenian leadership imposed on others it finally imposed on itself.

This, Thucydides wrote, is what doomed Athenian democracy; Athens destroyed itself. For the instrument of empire is war and war is a poison, a poison which at times we must ingest just as a cancer patient must ingest a poison to survive. But if we do not understand the poison of war -- if we do not understand how deadly that poison is -- it can kill us just as surely as the disease.

We have lost touch with the essence of war. Following our defeat in Vietnam we became a better nation. We were humbled, even humiliated. We asked questions about ourselves we had not asked before.

We were forced to see ourselves as others saw us and the sight was not always a pretty one. We were forced to confront our own capacity for a atrocity -- for evil -- and in this we understood not only war but more about ourselves. But that humility is gone.

War, we have come to believe, is a spectator sport. The military and the press -- remember in wartime the press is always part of the problem -- have turned war into a vast video arcade came. Its very essence -- death -- is hidden from public view.

There was no more candor in the Persian Gulf War or the War in Afghanistan or the War in Iraq than there was in Vietnam. But in the age of live feeds and satellite television, the state and the military have perfected the appearance of candor.

Because we no longer understand war, we no longer understand that it can all go horribly wrong. We no longer understand that war begins by calling for the annihilation of others but ends if we do not know when to make or maintain peace with self-annihilation. We flirt, given the potency of modern weapons, with our own destruction.

The seduction of war is insidious because so much of what we are told about it is true -- it does create a feeling of comradeship which obliterates our alienation and makes us, for perhaps the only time of our life, feel we belong.

War allows us to rise above our small stations in life; we find nobility in a cause and feelings of selflessness and even bliss. And at a time of soaring deficits and financial scandals and the very deterioration of our domestic fabric, war is a fine diversion. War for those who enter into combat has a dark beauty, filled with the monstrous and the grotesque. The Bible calls it the lust of the eye and warns believers against it. War gives us a distorted sense of self; it gives us meaning.

(A man in the audience says: "Can I say a few words here?" Hedges: Yeah, when I finish.)

Once in war, the conflict obliterates the past and the future all is one heady intoxicating present. You feel every heartbeat in war, colors are brighter, your mind races ahead of itself. (Confusion, microphone problems, etc.) We feel in wartime comradeship. (Boos) We confuse this with friendship, with love. There are those who will insist that the comradeship of war is love -- the exotic glow that makes us in war feel as one people, one entity, is real, but this is part of war's intoxication.

Think back on the days after the attacks on 9-11. Suddenly we no longer felt alone; we connected with strangers, even with people we did not like. We felt we belonged, that we were somehow wrapped in the embrace of the nation, the community; in short, we no longer felt alienated.

As this feeling dissipated in the weeks after the attack, there was a kind of nostalgia for its warm glow and wartime always brings with it this comradeship, which is the opposite of friendship. Friends are predetermined; friendship takes place between men and women who possess an intellectual and emotional affinity for each other. But comradeship -- that ecstatic bliss that comes with belonging to the crowd in wartime -- is within our reach. We can all have comrades.

The danger of the external threat that comes when we have an enemy does not create friendship; it creates comradeship. And those in wartime are deceived about what they are undergoing. And this is why once the threat is over, once war ends, comrades again become strangers to us. This is why after war we fall into despair.

In friendship there is a deepening of our sense of self. We become, through the friend, more aware of who we are and what we are about; we find ourselves in the eyes of the friend. Friends probe and question and challenge each other to make each of us more complete; with comradeship, the kind that comes to us in patriotic fervor, there is a suppression of self-awareness, self-knowledge, and self-possession. Comrades lose their identities in wartime for the collective rush of a common cause -- a common purpose. In comradeship there are no demands on the self. This is part of its appeal and one of the reasons we miss it and seek to recreate it. Comradeship allows us to escape the demands on the self that is part of friendship.

In wartime when we feel threatened, we no longer face death alone but as a group, and this makes death easier to bear. We ennoble self-sacrifice for the other, for the comrade; in short we begin to worship death. And this is what the god of war demands of us.

Think finally of what it means to die for a friend. It is deliberate and painful; there is no ecstasy. For friends, dying is hard and bitter. The dialogue they have and cherish will perhaps never be recreated. Friends do not, the way comrades do, love death and sacrifice. To friends, the prospect of death is frightening. And this is why friendship or, let me say love, is the most potent enemy of war. Thank you.

(Boos cheers, shouts, fog horns and the like)

Copyright © 2003 Rockford Register Star

Commentary:
You have to listen to the audio to appreciate how vile the audience was.


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Bush Unchallenged by Media
Common Dreams.org/Toranto Star
by Linda McQuaig
Published on Sunday, May 25, 2003

When Stockwell Day arrived by skidoo in a wetsuit, Canadians laughed. When George Bush arrived by fighter jet in a combat suit, Americans called him a hero.

That says a lot about the difference between Canadians and Americans these days. Canadians aren't so easily conned.

Of course, some might conclude instead that former Canadian Alliance leader Stockwell Day is simply a more laughable figure. But that hardly seems fair.

It's true that Day's waterside "press conference" in 2000 was stage-managed and laughable — designed so that Day could look vigorous and athletic as he zoomed up in a wetsuit.

But Bush's fighter-plane landing on the deck of a U.S. battleship earlier this month, and his emergence from the cockpit in combat gear and mussed-up hair, was even more stage-managed (right down to the soft-tone sunset lighting and the "Mission Accomplished" backdrop sign perfectly angled for TV viewers). As for laughable, it's hard to outdo Bush — who went AWOL from the National Guard during the Vietnam War — strutting around the ship in full battle regalia, carrying his own helmet (I guess there wasn't anybody available to carry it for him.)

But while the Canadian media had a field day lampooning Stockwell Day, the American media largely treated the Bush photo-op as a serious event, if not a nation-building moment. (One had to seek out obscure Web sites to find questions like: Wasn't that a sock stuffed down the front of the president's combat pants?)

Only an administration supremely confident of the media's docility would have risked staging an event like that, leaving Bush open to ridicule from any media outlet that saw its role as more than simply being a chronicler of Tales of Fearless Leaders.

This media docility has allowed the Bush administration to go largely unchallenged as it adopts the mantle of an imperial presidency. Some of the administration's most rabid hawks have even come close to realizing their dream — implementing the ultra-elitist ideas of an obscure political philosopher named Leo Strauss.

There's been a buzz recently over reports that Strauss, who shaped the neoconservative revolution from his post at the University of Chicago, is lionized by (among others) Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, widely seen as the architect of Washington's post-9/11 strategy.

Media accounts have focused on Strauss' advocacy of strong leadership, devoting less attention to his anti-democratic leanings. Central to the Straussian vision is a docile citizenry, kept uninformed and easy to manipulate through perpetual fear of external attack. "Deception of the citizens by those in power is critical," explains Shadia Drury, a University of Calgary political scientist and author of Leo Strauss And The American Right.

Accordingly, a terrified American public was kept under the mistaken illusion that Saddam Hussein had "weapons of mass destruction" and would soon strike America if America didn't strike first. Clearly, a vigorous, questioning American media could throw a spanner into the best-laid plans of the White House Straussians, or "Leocons" as they're sometimes called, but there seems to be little chance of that these days.

Rather, anyone questioning the Commander-in-Chief or his policies is promptly dissed by hostile Bush supporters who display a virulent, anti-democratic contempt for public debate or even, often, civilized discourse.

So, for instance, Fox News "host" Bill O'Reilly last February interviewed an anti-war activist whose father was killed in the Sept. 11 attacks. One might have thought that losing a father in that American tragedy would have at least earned the activist a respectful hearing on an American interview program. Wrong. O'Reilly never let up his verbal abuse during the interview, and afterwards promptly told the activist to "Get out of my studio before I tear you to f----ing pieces."

Or, as Chris Hill, business development vice-president for Showtime Digital Media in California, wrote me after a recent column questioning U.S. actions in Iraq: "Please do us all a favor and take a long walk off a short pier, you spineless, leftist, Canadian ---- (expletive for female genitalia)."

In a less coarsely worded attempt to shut down public debate, historian Michael Bliss vehemently denounced the Star's Michele Landsberg for even posing questions in her column that any normally curious person (let alone a historian) would want answered, like: How come the world's best military was unable to do anything about hijacked airplanes flying over its territory for more than an hour on Sept. 11?

Some people seem to be hoping we'll all feel too cowed to ask any questions, other than how the president manages to look so rugged and handsome in his uniform. How does he do it?

Linda McQuaig is a Toronto-based author and political commentator. She writes every Sunday.

Copyright 1996-2003. Toronto Star Newspapers Limited

Commentary:
Let's face it the media has become hopeless. Bush lies and the media reports it as if it were factual. We went to war based on a Bush lie and the media pushed that war as much as Bush. The America most of us grew up in is gone. In time though, the truth will come out...it always does. And when it does, Tom Brokaw, Dan Rather, and Peter Jennings are going to have a lot of explaining to do. Why did they let this president lie to us about something as important as a threat to our national security?


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FAA Review Ordered for Texas Plane Flap
By SUZANNE GAMBOA
The Associated Press
Friday, May 23, 2003; 6:13 PM

WASHINGTON - Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta has ordered a review of the Federal Aviation Administration's role in helping U.S. House Majority Leader Tom DeLay track the plane of a Democrat who led a walkout from the Texas legislature.

The review is the second federal agency inquiry into how Texas Republicans handled a Democratic walkout aimed at killing a congressional redistricting bill that would likely hand the GOP four additional seats. The Homeland Security Department has also announced an investigation into how its resources were used.

A staffer for DeLay had requested information on the location of Pete Laney's airplane for two dates, and FAA staff provided the information, a spokesman said Friday, speaking on condition of anonymity.

The plane information is routinely available, the FAA spokesman said, but the department's general counsel will still conduct an internal review as to whether DOT employees acted appropriately.

Jess Fassler, an aide to Rep. Martin Frost, D.-Texas, said he had spoken with general counsel Kirk Van Tine who told him that he would seek to "resolve inconsistencies."

Van Tine referred a call for comment from The Associated Press to the agency's public affairs office. The spokesman there would only confirm the review.

The hunt for state lawmakers who fled to Oklahoma last week also has triggered a grand jury investigation by Travis County District Attorney Ronnie Earle in Austin, the Texas capital.

Earle confirmed Friday that his office is investigating the Texas Department of Public Safety's destruction of documents relating to the search.

The Homeland Security Department investigation and the FAA review come amid charges by state and national Democrats that DeLay used federal resources for political purposes. DeLay, R-Texas, denied those accusations, but acknowledges that his office contacted the FAA to track Laney's plane.

"I asked a staffer to contact the FAA for publicly available flight information that any member of Congress gets from FAA - or you can get it off the Internet - as to the whereabouts of a certain plane, of a certain tail number.

DeLay said there was nothing untoward about assisting Craddick.

"You have a situation where the speaker of the Texas House is looking at all options available to him trying to figure out what his options are and what actions he can take and he's calling anybody and everybody he knows to get that information. We got the information he asked for," DeLay said.

The Bureau of Immigration and Custom Enforcement's Air and Marine Interdiction Coordination Center helped out as well. The center, a division of the Homeland Security Department, had been led to believe the plane was in trouble, missing or had crashed, according to a statement. The center is an anti-terrorism and anti-smuggling agency.

Homeland Security has refused to release transcripts and recordings of conversations related to the search for the Democrats. Department Secretary Tom Ridge told Congress that it is conducting a "potentially criminal investigation" and could not release the information right now.

DeLay also said he contacted the Justice Department to ask whether that agency's FBI or U.S. Marshals could help in the search. He was told they could not.

© 2003 The Associated Press

Commentary:
It's kinda hard to do a review since Texas officials have already ordered the destruction of all documents. How do your break the law and get away with it? Destroy the evidence--just like the law-makers (breakers) in Texas.


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Fla. Candidate Denounces Reports He's Gay
By BRENT KALLESTAD
The Associated Press
Thursday, May 22, 2003; 11:04 PM

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - U.S. Rep. Mark Foley, who is seeking the Republican nomination for Senate, on Thursday denounced what he says are rumors spread by his political opponents that he is gay.

Foley, a five-term congressman, refused to answer questions about whether he is gay, saying his sexual preference had no bearing on his duties as a lawmaker. He accused Democratic activists of trying to derail his candidacy for the Senate.

"In recent weeks, a number of Democratic activists have taken it upon themselves to push rumors about me," Foley said during a conference call with reporters. "It is becoming apparent to me these Democratic activists have only one motive: They don't want me to run or have to run against me."

Foley said he was responding to a column earlier this month in an alternative Florida weekly newspaper and because he feared a major Florida daily was preparing to publish a story Friday about the matter.

Foley is seeking the GOP nomination for the seat currently held by Democratic presidential candidate Bob Graham, who hasn't said whether he would seek a fourth term.

State Democratic Party Chairman Scott Maddox criticized Foley for responding to one inappropriate accusation with another by blaming Democrats.

"When we talk about a candidate for public office, we talk about their record of leadership and their ability to serve," Maddox said. "We do not fire off accusations about their private life."

Foley said he should be evaluated by voters on his legislative record. He said everyone deserves some privacy, even public officials.

"Some people may think that's old-fashioned, but I firmly believe it's a good rule to live by," he said.

Several GOP colleagues in Congress, including House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, of Texas, expressed support for Foley. "Mark has been an invaluable member of this conference," DeLay said in a statement.

© 2003 The Associated Press

Commentary:
I like this story. A republican is assumed to be gay and he blames democrats. First off, if he is gay why is he ashamed of his sexual orientation? And if he's straight, what's the big deal? The man is far too insecure for public office.


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Gen. Tommy Franks to Resign
By ROBERT BURNS
The Associated Press
Thursday, May 22, 2003; 6:20 PM

WASHINGTON - Tommy R. Franks, the Army general who commanded U.S. forces to battlefield victories in Afghanistan and Iraq, has decided to retire after 36 years in uniform.

Franks made no announcement, but Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld issued a brief statement Thursday saying that Franks had informed him "of his desire to step down as the commander of the U.S. Central Command in the weeks immediately ahead" and that Franks plans to retire from the Army this summer.

"He has served our country with great distinction," Rumsfeld said. "I consider myself privileged to have worked so closely with him over these many months."

The White House has not said who will be named to replace him as head of the military command most directly involved in the global war on terrorism. The job requires Senate confirmation.

Franks' senior deputy in the Persian Gulf, Army Lt. Gen. John Abizaid, is considered a leading candidate for the top job. The command is responsible for American military activities in 25 countries, from Kazakhstan in Central Asia to the Arabian Peninsula to the Horn of Africa.

Another candidate is Franks' other deputy, Marine Corps Lt. Gen. Michael DeLong.

It had been widely expected within the military that Franks would retire after he decided not to take the Army chief of staff post that will be relinquished on June 11 by Gen. Eric Shinseki.

Franks said in an Associated Press interview April 29 that while that job sounded interesting, it was "not on my scope."

His normal two-year term at Central Command was extended for one year last July by Rumsfeld, who worked closely with Franks on the Afghanistan and Iraq war plans.

Jim Wilkinson, director of strategic communications at Central Command, said Franks' status will have no effect on the work of U.S. and coalition forces to bring stability to postwar Iraq.

"You can bet that Gen. Franks will spend every remaining minute of his time ensuring that the troops in the field have what they need," Wilkinson said.

Military analysts generally give Franks high marks for the war plans he conceived for Afghanistan and Iraq. Both achieved success with relatively few American casualties.

The St. Petersburg Times quoted Franks' wife, Cathy, as saying she was pleased that her husband was ready to keep a promise he made early in their marriage - that at some point he would retire.

"I'm glad to know that he's a man of his word," she said.

She said it was possible the general would stay on the job until fall if it took that long to get a replacement confirmed by the Senate. His one-year extension is to expire July 1.

Franks is 57 and has served as head of a warfighting command; there are few options within the military for him. His recent predecessors at Central Command have retired after serving in that post, including Norman Schwarzkopf, who led U.S. forces to victory against Iraq in 1991.

Like President Bush, Franks grew up in Midland, Texas. He attended the same high school as first lady Laura Bush, who was a year behind him. Tommy Ray, as he was known while growing up, loved fast cars, Elvis and hunting, according to boyhood friends.

After two years at the University of Texas at Austin, Franks dropped out and joined the Army. He was commissioned a second lieutenant in 1967 as a graduate of the Artillery Officer Candidate School at Fort Sill, Okla., and in short order he was serving with the 9th Infantry Division in Vietnam.

After the Vietnam war, Franks intended to leave the military but stayed on when selected for the Army's "Bootstrap" degree completion program for promising officers. He attended the University of Texas at Arlington.

Bush has called Franks a "down-to-earth, no-nonsense guy."

The Army has taken Franks from one world hot spot to another - the demilitarized zone in Korea, a changing Europe, the Iraqi desert as deputy commander of the 1st Cavalry Division during the first Gulf War.

His commendations have included four Legion of Merit medals, three Bronze Stars with "V" for valor, an Air Medal with "V" and an Army Commendation Medal with "V."

Just months after Franks took charge of Central Command in July 2000, suicide bombers blew a hole in the USS Cole as it refueled in Yemen, killing 17 American sailors. It was Franks who had approved Yemen as the refueling site, a decision questioned by some in Congress because of anti-American sentiment in that country.

The Cole attack was only a taste of the worldwide terror threat that reached America on Sept. 11, 2001. On Sept. 12, Franks got the order from Rumsfeld to draw up military options for the president. Less than a month later, on Oct. 7, the airstrikes in Afghanistan began.

Franks said in a speech months ago that he already had worn the uniform for a long time.

"My wife reminds me frequently how long I've worn it," he said. "She reminds me that I told her on the day we were married I was going to get out of the United States military. I remind her that some day I am going to."

On the Net:

Franks' official biography: http://www.centcom.mil/aboutus/cdrbio.htm

Central Command: http://www.centcom.mil

© 2003 The Associated Press

Commentary:
I'm not too impressed with Franks. He went to war with a nearly defenseless country and I suppose to some that's a big deal. I think the war was a joke and I doubt historians will give it a second thought.

But, then there's the other problem. Was the war legal? and if it wasn't, why did Franks follow an illegal order? I'm not about to say he was wrong at this point, he was just following orders, but clearly Bush lied to the American people and the military leadership about the need to got to war and military needn't blindly follow orders from a president who lies to them about national security. If the military decides it can no longer trust or support Bush as their CIC, that would be great and I think we'd all understand.


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U.S. Treasurer Plans to Leave in June
By MARK SHERMAN
The Associated Press
Thursday, May 22, 2003; 3:58 PM

WASHINGTON - U.S. Treasurer Rosario Marin announced her resignation Thursday amid speculation she was planning to challenge California Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer next year.

Marin, the highest-ranking Latin American woman in the Bush administration, plans to return to California with her family when she leaves her post June 30. No Hispanic woman has served in the Senate.

"After long and thoughtful consideration, my family and I have decided to go back home to California," Marin said in her resignation letter to Treasury Secretary John Snow.

Marin, who was traveling, was not available to discuss her plans, but several Republicans said they saw her resignation as a step toward a Senate campaign in 2004.

"She is actively, actively out there trying to put a campaign together," said Allan Hoffenblum, a California Republican consultant.

Her only experience in elective politics has been in Huntington Park, a heavily Hispanic and Democratic city of 65,000 people - and just 12,000 registered voters - east of Los Angeles.

Marin, 44, won a nonpartisan election to the city council and later was appointed mayor by other council members. Marin has no track record raising campaign dollars. Analysts estimate that the 2004 race could require $25 million to advertise adequately in the state's extremely expensive television markets.

Boxer so far has no prominent California Republican challenger. And despite Marin's political inexperience, some Republicans view her candidacy as a positive development.

Mexican-born Marin has been a key player in the administration's efforts to reach out to Hispanic voters, the fastest-growing bloc. She also has the compelling story of her rise to Treasurer from her arrival in the United States at 14, unable to speak English.

Few analysts expect President Bush to carry the state or Boxer to lose her bid for a third term.

Campaigning with Bush, Marin would only help draw Hispanic votes from Democrats and pave the way for better showings in future elections, Republicans say. "Who are the two voter groups deserting Republicans? Women and Latinos," Hoffenblum said.

Boxer said she would welcome Marin into the race and predicted a tough campaign whomever Republicans nominate.

Roy Behr, Boxer's campaign spokesman, characterized Marin as former Gov. Pete Wilson's "liaison to the Hispanic community." Wilson alienated Hispanics with his support for Proposition 187, which denied a wide range of public services to illegal immigrants. But Hoffenblum said Marin publicly opposed Prop. 187.

Beginning in 1992 Marin held various posts in Wilson's administration for nearly seven years. Bush appointed her treasurer in 2001.

As treasurer, Marin oversees the makers of America's greenbacks and its coins - the Bureau of Engraving and Printing and the U.S. Mint, respectively. Her signature can be found on paper currency.

She also has used her post to travel the country promoting financial literacy, and has tried to get more lower-income people and others into the banking system, helping them to set up savings and checking accounts.

On the Net:

Treasury Department: http://www.ustreas.gov/

© 2003 The Associated Press

Commentary:
Another one bites the dust! The resignations keep piling up and while some say they "may" run for election they most likely won't. Bush is a paper presidency. A fresh breeze of fresh air mixed with an ounce of truth will destroy him and those who support him. He lied about surpluses, taxes, budgets, war and peace, weapons of mass destruction and national security. With a record of failure like that why in god's name would anyone want to tie themselves to his party?


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North Korea Warns of 'Military Counteraction'
Voice of America
24 May 2003, 14:25 UTC

North Korea has warned the United States of what it calls "military counteraction" if Washington decides to use force to resolve the dispute over North Korea's nuclear weapons program.

The state-run Minju Joson newspaper Saturday accused the United Sates of plotting to launch a war against North Korea, and said the dispute is moving toward an extremely dangerous phase. On Friday, President Bush and Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi warned that North Korea will face tougher international measures if it escalates the crisis over its nuclear development.

The two leaders did not explain what kind of measures would be considered against North Korea. But they agreed their two governments will accept nothing less than complete and verifiable elimination of nuclear weapons in the North.

Mr. Bush said he supports a new round of diplomacy involving the two Koreas, China, Japan and the United States. This would be a follow up to three-way talks between North Korea, China and the United States in Beijing last month.

Some information for this report provided by AP and AFP.

Commentary:
Japan is being playing stupid in this article. Earlier this year N. Korea threatened to launch a nuclear warhead into South Korea to prove to the Bush White House it has nukes. Threats went back and forth, Powell was thrown into his usual tizzy and North Korea got what it wanted. Japan will give North Korea the food it needs.

Besides, if N. Korea has nukes and it's highly unlikely they do, they wouldn't launch against S. Korea, but instead against Japan and Japan got the message loud and clear. Fork over some aid or else. Japan is listening now.


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Gun gangs rule Iraqi streets as US loses control
The Observer
Sunday May 25, 2003

As the blood-red sun sinks below the Baghdad skyline, the shooting begins. It is the sound of the anarchy into which the Iraqi capital has spiralled since the war's end: the rasp of machine-guns accompanied by arcs of red tracer fire across the sky. Throughout the city, fires burn, their flames licking the night.
Now, with the United Nations Security Council having formally sanctioned America's military occupation of Iraq, a massive operation is being prepared to catch up on a month of default and negligence in dealing with chaos and desperate need, with newly admitted international organisations hoping it is not too late.

Having been diplomatically brushed aside over the war, the UN is set to arrive under the leadership of the Brazilian Sergio Vieira de Mello, who was for years responsible for the UN protectorate in East Timor.

The World Food Programme has pledged to buy this year's crops, allowing Iraq's farmers to sow for next time around. A relaxation of all customs duty is bringing in a flood of imported goods aimed at boosting a collapsed and workless economy.

But the massive task may be doomed: International Red Cross spokeswoman Nada Doumani says it is necessary 'to fill a vacuum created by war and a lack of infrastructure caused by sanctions'.

Iraq is now a society of either predators or prey, fully armed with weaponry looted from military stores the Americans failed to secure after the war. 'We all have guns now,' says Abdul Ahmed Hasan, 25, surveying the charred remains of his looted photo laboratory. 'Some have guns to attack, some have guns to defend their families. I have four at home.'

Baghdad is being carved up by armed gangs. Towns in the south - apart from the port city of Basra, under British control - are even more dangerous. In the city of Hilla, near Babylon, the poor quarter of Nada, where scores of civilians were killed by cluster bombs during the war, is out of bounds to strangers and US troops alike. Both The Observer and Human Rights Watch were warned not to enter without an armed escort.

In the grim wards of the hospital at Hilla, Dr Satar Jabel says victims of war are now outnumbered by those of gang warfare - wounded, if not with guns, with swords.

In Hilla, as in Nasiriyah further south, the arrival of any strange vehicle immediately attracts crowds of children pleading for water and food. 'Before, we had no freedom, but we had security,' muses Kadem Hashem - in the ruins of the house in south Nasiriyah, where he lost all 14 members of his family during a bombing raid. 'Now, we have freedom, but no security, no work and no income.'

A government for this maelstrom is ever more elusive, with a total disconnection between the optimistic language of US press briefings at Saddam Hussein's old palace and the anarchic reality on the street.

The Americans are even split over whom to back: the Pentagon is still committed to its pet politician, the formerly exiled businessman Ahmed Chalabi, who has no particular constituency in Iraq. The State Department, which has always distrusted Chalabi, backs a moderate Sunni Muslim leader, Adnan Pachachi.

Militant religious and political leaders from the downtrodden Shia majority manoeuvre and prepare for power, and Kurdish leader Mahmoud Barzani has quit in disgust the US-appointed commission tasked to form a government, returning to Kurdistan in the north with his militias.

Since the war, say workers for several aid organisations, the Pentagon's administration has systematically hindered the reconstruction and the distribution of medicines and other supplies. At the root of the problems, says Pascal Snoeck of Médecins Sans Frontières, was the Pentagon's insistence, in the face of mass looting, on sole hegemony in supervising the humanitarian aftermath of war, refusing to allow non-governmental aid organisations to operate except under direct authority of the occupying force.

While the US demanded such a role, says Snoeck - a logistics co-ordinator for the Paris-based group that invariably spearheads relief efforts worldwide - they were also thoroughly unprepared for the needs of the people. Their idea was that Iraq would be 'liberated - problem solved'.

'Now,' says Snoeck, 'they are saying they cannot manage, and the Americans have reversed their position, asking the NGOs, "Please come and help," having ignored what we have been saying ever since before the war.'

The US is 'in breach of its obligations under the Geneva Convention,' says Alex Renton, spokesman in Iraq for Oxfam, in failing to prevent the looting, particularly of medical supplies.

'The question of security is fundamental,' says Renton, 'as is the problem of looting. We did actually manage to repair the water system in Nasiriyah, only to see it looted a couple of days later.'

'The Americans say now they could not have foreseen the problem of looting medical supplies,' says MSF's medical co-ordinator, An Willems. 'But we had been telling them about this risk since just after the war.'

On the ground, the needs are plain to see in such places as the paediatric ward of the Khadessia Hospital in Thawra City, a teeming shanty of four million - all of them Shia - on the edge of Baghdad.

This is one of many hospitals into which the clerical authorities have moved, to provide security and medicine, and to become the only force of social cohesion by default of any alternative.

Here, Dr Hamas Assad Walid does his rounds through a thicket of beds filled with waifs suffering from diseases invariably associated with water contamination and the accumulation of stinking garbage, through which children pick for anything they can sell.

'We have been seeing some 1,000 patients a day,' says Walid, 'and taking in about 60 to 70 - turning away hundreds of children a day.' The hospital is full, with the first children now dying from chronic dehydration and gastroenteritis, and the first cases of jaundice and suspected cholera.

Her eyes yellowed, Hawra Abdullah came in seven days ago. Now she stares into oblivion and is unable to hear or speak. 'She was always a quiet girl,' says her mother, Kader, trying to smile, 'but not like this.'

One of the hospital's problems, say the doctors snatching a quick lunch in their shabby common room, was the American-backed reinstatement of Dr Ali Sultan, their old director under Saddam. Sultan was one of a layer of Saddam-era managers put in place by the man appointed by the Americans as Health Minister, Dr Ali Shnan Janabi, despite his record at the apex of the old regime. Doctors across Iraq rebelled against the Americans' first Ministerial appointment and Janabi resigned after 36 hours.

The removal of the neo-Baathist tier has started in Baghdad, with doctors demanding the election of new managers but, in the countryside, the supposed de-Baathification has created just the opposite result.

In towns such as Hilla, there have been demonstrations against reinstatement by the Americans of Saddam's old guard: in the town hall, hospitals and even the Red Crescent. These cronies are the only citizens in town blindly loyal to the American occupier.

Meanwhile, US tanks grind through the streets of Hilla, and the children still wave cheerily. The tank commanders duly wave back, but do not understand what is being shouted at them from behind those mischievous, smiling young faces: 'My father is with your sister!' Or: 'While you are in Iraq, your wife is becoming a rich woman in bed!'

Guardian Unlimited © Guardian Newspapers Limited 2003

Commentary:
Will the US military be peacekeepers and nation builders after all? Stay tuned and see if Bush changes his mind again.

During the 90's and the last presidential campaign President Clinton was condemned for using the military for peacekeeping and nation building. But that was then, this is now and President Flip-flop is now using the military to do things he promised he'd never do. Another broken promise in a long string of broken promises.

How long will it take for President Flop to flip again? Stay tuned.


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