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Impeach Bush--Index 73
December 5, 2007

It's Not 1929, but It's the Biggest Mess Since

One analysis, by Eidesis Capital, a fund specializing in CDOs, estimates that, of the CDOs issued during the peak years of 2006 and 2007, investors in all but the AAA tranches will lose all their money, and even those will suffer losses of 6 to 31 percent.

And looking across the sector, J.P. Morgan's CDO analysts estimate that there will be at least $300 billion in eventual credit losses, the bulk of which is still hidden from public view. That includes at least $30 billion in additional write-downs at major banks and investment houses, and much more at hedge funds that, for the most part, remain in a state of denial.

If all this sounds like a financial house of cards, that's because it is. And it is about to come crashing down, with serious consequences not only for banks and investors but for the economy as a whole.

That's not just my opinion. It's why banks are husbanding their cash and why the outstanding stock of bank loans and commercial paper is shrinking dramatically.

It is why Treasury officials are working overtime on schemes to stem the tide of mortgage foreclosures and provide a new vehicle to buy up CDO assets.

It's why state and federal budget officials are anticipating sharp decreases in tax revenue next year.

And it is why the Federal Reserve is now willing to toss aside concerns about inflation, the dollar and bailing out Wall Street, and move aggressively to cut interest rates and pump additional funds directly into the banking system.

This may not be 1929. But it's a good bet that it's way more serious than the junk bond crisis of 1987, the S&L crisis of 1990 or the bursting of the tech bubble in 2001.

An Impeachable Offense
December 8, 2007

Blackwater Contracts Mostly Blank

The State Department has released copies of its contracts for private security services with Blackwater Lodge and Training Center and Blackwater Security Consulting. It's a hefty 323-page stack, and it comes with a catch:

About 169 of the pages are blank or mostly blank.

Released in response to a Freedom of Information Act request, the contracts -- worth up to $1.2 billion -- have been heavily redacted by the government. A State Department spokesman said the officials responsible for the cuts are simply trying to protect sensitive information that might put individuals at risk. He declined to say what kind of information was cut.

It seems everyone agrees - the free market doesn't work anymore.

December 5, 2007

Bush mortgage plan includes rate freeze

WASHINGTON - The Bush administration has hammered out an agreement with industry to freeze interest rates for certain subprime mortgages for five years in an effort to combat a soaring tide of foreclosures, congressional aides said Wednesday.

These aides, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the details have not yet been released, said the five-year moratorium represented a compromise between desires by banking regulators for a longer time frame of as much as seven years and industry arguments that the freeze should only last one to two years.

A few weeks ago a majority of Americans supported bombing Iran even though the White House and the media showed no evidence suggesting Iran was a threat to our national security. As bad as Bush is, and we all agree he's as bad as they come, the media is as corrupt as he is. They've allowed him to lie to us year after year.

An Impeachable Offense
December 4, 2007

Debunking Iran's Nuclear Program: Another 'Intelligence Failure' -- On the Part of the Press?

NEW YORK (December 04, 2007) -- Press reports so far have suggested that the belated release of the National Intelligence Estimate yesterday throwing cold water on oft-repeated claims of a rampant Iranian nuclear weapons program has deeply embarrassed, or at least chastened, public officials and policymakers who have promoted this line for years. Gaining little attention so far: Many in the media have made these same claims, often extravagantly, which promoted (deliberately or not) the tubthumping for striking Iran.

As I've warned in this space for years, too many in the media seemed to fail to learn the lessons of the Iraqi WMD intelligence failure -- and White House propaganda effort -- and instead, were repeating it, re: Iran. This time, perhaps, we may have averted war, with little help from most of the media. In this case, it appears, the NIE people managed to resist several months of efforts by the administration to change their assessment. If only they had stiffened their backbones concerning Iraq in 2002.

November 30, 2007

U.S. Special Counsel Says He Won't Provide Files

Bloch's office is tasked with upholding laws against whistle-blower retaliation and partisan politicking in federal agencies. Earlier this year, Bloch directed lawyers in his office to look into charges that former Bush adviser Karl Rove inappropriately deployed government employees in Republican political campaigns.

Bloch had previously been targeted by the White House, which in 2005 asked the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) to investigate allegations that Bloch had retaliated against whistle-blowers among his own staff members and improperly dismissed whistle-blower cases brought to the agency by others.

An Impeachable Offense
November 28, 2007

Head of Rove Inquiry in Hot Seat Himself

WASHINGTON -- The head of the federal agency investigating Karl Rove's White House political operation is facing allegations that he improperly deleted computer files during another probe, using a private computer-help company, Geeks on Call.

Scott Bloch runs the Office of Special Counsel, an agency charged with protecting government whistleblowers and enforcing a ban on federal employees engaging in partisan political activity. Mr. Bloch's agency is looking into whether Mr. Rove and other White House officials used government agencies to help re-elect Republicans in 2006.

At the same time, Mr. Bloch has himself been under investigation since 2005. At the direction of the White House, the federal Office of Personnel Management's inspector general is looking into claims that Mr. Bloch improperly retaliated against employees and dismissed whistleblower cases without adequate examination.

December 1, 2007

Rove investigator erases his PCs - to kill computer virus

A US official overseeing a probe of former Bush aide Karl Rove has been called on the carpet after it was discovered he hired a private computer-help company to erase all the hard drives belonging to him and two deputies.

Special Counsel Scott J. Bloch bypassed his own agency's computer technicians and instead hired an outside firm to perform a seven-level wipe, all but guaranteeing the files could never be restored. Although the official said he contracted the work after suspecting his computer was infected by a virus, a manager with the private firm said a wipe that thorough is an unusual way to treat a malware infection. The receipt for the work performed makes no mention of a virus.

December 3, 2007

Fox News refuses to run pro-Constitution ad

Fox News has refused to air an ad produced by the Center for Constitutional Rights that criticizes the Bush administration for "destroying the Constitution" by the use of renditions, torture, and other tactics. The ad, "Rescue the Constitution," which is narrated by actor Danny Glover, can be viewed here and here.

In an email provided to Media Matters for America by the Center, Fox News account executive Erin Kelly told Owen Henkel, the Center's e-communications manager, that Fox would not run the ad:

December 2, 2007

Business lobby increases pressure ahead of '08

WASHINGTON - Business lobbyists, nervously anticipating Democratic gains in next year's elections, are racing to secure final approval for a wide range of health, safety, labor and economic rules, in the belief that they can get better deals from the Bush administration than from its successor.

Hoping to lock in policies backed by a pro-business administration, poultry farmers are seeking an exemption for the smelly fumes produced by tons of chicken manure. Businesses are lobbying the Bush administration to roll back rules that let employees take time off for family needs and medical problems. And electric power companies are pushing the government to relax pollution-control requirements.

December 3, 2007

Australia ratifies Kyoto Protocol

Australia has ratified the Kyoto Protocol.

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd signed the instrument of ratification of the Kyoto Protocol in his first act after being sworn in this morning.

The ratification will come into force in 90 days.

"This is the first official act of the new Australian government, demonstrating my government's commitment to tackling climate change," Mr Rudd said in a statement.

Mr Rudd said the ratification was considered and approved by the first executive council meeting of the government this morning.

November 29, 2007

Leahy: Bush's executive privilege claim is illegal

A Senate chairman said Thursday that President Bush was not involved in the firings of U.S. attorneys last winter, and he therefore ruled illegal the president's executive privilege claims protecting his chief of staff, Josh Bolten, and former adviser Karl Rove.

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy directed Bolten, Rove, former White House political director Sara Taylor and her deputy, J. Scott Jennings, to comply "immediately" with their subpoenas for documents and information about the White House's role in the firings of U.S. attorneys.

"I hereby rule that those claims are not legally valid to excuse current and former White House employees from appearing, testifying and producing documents related to this investigation," wrote Leahy, D-Vt.

December 3, 2007

American is Going Fascist

Wolf argues that the United States is undergoing a "fascist shift" from an authoritarian but still relatively open society to a totalitarian society. The techniques for forcing this shift have evolved over the last century and are now studied by aspiring tyrants the world over. These methods are even part of the formal curriculum in places like the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation, previously known as the School of the Americas, in Fort Benning, Georgia, where thousands of Latin Americans have been trained by the United States government in the most savage techniques of insurgency and counterinsurgency. Fascists use ten basic strategies to shut down open societies. They invoke an external and internal threat in order to convince the population to grant their rulers extraordinary powers. They establish secret prisons that practice torture, prisons that are initially few in number and only incarcerate social pariahs, but that quickly multiply and soon imprison "opposition leaders, outspoken clergy, union leaders, well-known performers, publishers, and journalists." They develop a paramilitary force that operates without legal restraint. They set up a system of intense domestic surveillance that gathers information for the purposes of intimidating and blackmailing citizens. They infiltrate, monitor, and disorganize citizens' groups. They arbitrarily detain and release citizens, especially at borders. They target key individuals like civil servants, academics, and artists in order to ensure their complicity or silence. They take control of the press. They publicly equate dissent with treason. Finally, they suspend the rule of law. All of these strategies are being employed in America today.

November 29, 2007

US foreclosure filings up 94 pct in Oct.

U.S. foreclosure filings nearly doubled in October from the same month last year, the latest sign many homeowners are falling behind on mortgage payments and increasingly losing their homes, according to a mortgage research company.

A total of 224,451 foreclosure filings were reported in October, up 94 percent from 115,568 in the same month a year ago, Irvine-based RealtyTrac Inc. said Thursday.

November 28, 2007

Some foreign-owned firms "strip" US profit to avoid taxes

WASHINGTON, Nov 28 (Reuters) - Foreign-controlled U.S. companies that move their headquarters overseas are rampantly "stripping" earnings to avoid paying U.S. corporate income taxes, according to a new U.S. Treasury Department study released on Wednesday.

The practice of earnings stripping by foreign-controlled firms involves adding excessive debt or other costs to a U.S. subsidiary to reduce local profits and avoid tax liabilities.

Note how the judge understands the power of the Internet. He's wasn't worried about journalists or Congress attacking his decision. They've become wimps. The real defenders of our constitutional system are blogs and the Internet, not the corporate media or the lobbyist who run Congress. This White House can do almost anything because impeachment is off the table.

An Impeachable Offense
November 27, 2007

Feds withdraw subpoena seeking Amazon records

SAN FRANCISCO (MarketWatch) -- Federal prosecutors withdrew a subpoena of Amazon.com's records of customers who purchased used books after a Wisconsin judge warned that "rumors of an Orwellian" probe could "frost keyboards across America."

"If word were to spread over the Net -- and it would -- that the FBI and the IRS had demanded and received Amazon's list of customers and their personal purchases, the chilling effect on expressive e-commerce would frost keyboards across America," Crocker wrote in June.

Good point. Just about everyone knows Russert has become an incompetent buffoon. He makes Fox News look like real news. It's too bad so many Democrats still go on his show. Many intelligent people have stopped going on Fox, now they need to stop wasting their time on Russert.

We know what the answer is going to be before Carville and Matalin open their mouths. Is endless spin worth our time?

November 26, 2007

The Carville-Matalin Joke Is on Us

She argued that pointing this out is imperative for Mitt Romney's campaign, since it is Mr. Romney whose Iowa lead is now threatened by Mr. Huckabee, which is true enough. But what she didn't add is that the Thompson campaign—her campaign—is counting on Mr. Romney defeating Mr. Huckabee soundly in Iowa, so that Mr. Thompson will face Mr. Romney, a Massachusetts Mormon, in South Carolina—and not Mr. Huckabee, a fellow Southerner.

Mr. Russert has convened this same Carville-Matalin-Shrum-Murphy panel several times. But he ought to consider what it's supposed to accomplish. If he wants objective and detached (and occasionally unpredictable) analysis from political pros, Mr. Carville and Ms. Matalin need to go. They are chills.

Iraqis have learned how to lie to the masses from the best - the Bush White House.

November 26, 2007

The Politics of Tallying the Number of Iraqis Who Return Home

Last week, Iraq's minister of displacement and migration, Abdul-Samad Rahman Sultan, announced that 1,600 Iraqis were returning every day, which works out to a similar, or perhaps slightly larger, monthly total.

But in interviews, officials from the ministry acknowledged that the count covered all Iraqis crossing the border, not just returnees. "We didn't ask them if they were displaced and neither did the Interior Ministry," said Sattar Nowruz, a spokesman for the Ministry of Displacement and Migration.

November 23, 2007

Military Probes Iraq Contracts

KUWAIT CITY - The flashy Laila Tower office building in this wealthy oil capital is a world away from the mean streets of Baghdad. But the U.S. government says they are linked by a web of fraud and bribery that stole millions of dollars provided by American taxpayers to support U.S. combat troops in Iraq.

The U.S. military and prosecutors have launched 83 criminal investigations into alleged contract fraud, including a total of $15 million in bribes.

It was the apparent suicide of an Army major in Baghdad a year ago that brought them to the 15th floor of the Laila Tower. There, overlooking the Persian Gulf, is the firm run by American George H. Lee and his family, a small part of that huge web.

Using this standard, Hitler couldn't be prosecuted because he was a head of state. It's a joke. We all know it.

November 23, 2007

French prosecutors throw out Rumsfeld torture case

PARIS (Reuters) - The Paris prosecutors' office has dismissed a suit against Donald Rumsfeld accusing the former U.S. defense secretary of torture, human rights groups who brought the case said on Friday.

The plaintiffs, who included the French-based International Federation of Human Rights Leagues (FIDH) and the U.S. Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR), said Rumsfeld had authorized interrogation techniques that led to rights abuses.

The FIDH said it had received a letter from the prosecutors' office ruling that Rumsfeld benefited from a "customary" immunity from prosecution granted to heads of state and government and foreign ministers, even after they left office.

An Impeachable Offense
November 19, 2007

20,000 Injured Vets Not Counted

Marine Lance Cpl. Gene Landrus was hurt in a roadside bomb attack outside Abu Ghraib, Iraq, on May 15, 2006, and faces medical separation from the Corps. He's also up for a Purple Heart.

Along with 20,000 other veterans, he's not included in the Pentagon's official count of U.S. troops wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan.

That's because Landrus' wound was to his brain and hidden from view. Landrus, 24, of Clarkston, Wash., says he did not realize the nausea, dizziness, memory loss and headaches he suffered after the blast were signs of a lasting brain injury.

November 21, 2007

HUD Official Alphonso Jackson Resigns Amidst Investigation

Federal investigators are bearing down on Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Alphonso Jackson for setting up his buddies with contracts and then telling Congress that he didn't "touch contracts."

One contract in particular that prosecutors are scrutinizing involves Jackson's friend, Atlanta lawyer Michael Hollis, who was paid approximately $1 million for managing the Virgin Islands Housing Authority, the National Journal reported last week, adding: "Before landing at the authority, some sources said, Hollis had no experience in running a public housing agency." When asked about the contract, Hollis told National Journal that "he had negotiated his contract with Orlando Cabrera, a senior HUD official, and 'people on his procurement staff.'" A grand jury has issued a subpoena for documents relating to Hollis' contract.

November 22, 2007

Taliban control half of Afghanistan

The Taliban has a permanent presence in most of Afghanistan and the country is in serious danger of falling into the group's hands, according to a report from an international think tank.

The report said: "It is a sad indictment of the current state of Afghanistan that the question now appears to be not if the Taliban will return to Kabul, but when this will happen and in what form.

An Impeachable Offense
November 20, 2007

We have the Christian Taliban and the Christian Al Qaeda inside our military

Weinstein is certain that fundamentalists will stop at nothing to transform the United States military into an army of God. He notes that Officers Christian Fellowship, with chapters in every major U.S. military installation in the world, envisions—and here he quotes its mission statement—a "spiritually transformed military, with ambassadors for Christ in uniform, empowered by the Holy Spirit." The group has helped boost fundamentalist Christianity among the armed forces from a negligible presence 20 years ago to a faith currently held by 30 percent of U.S. soldiers, according to Weinstein. He adds that many of those soldiers—hardcore end-timers and Dominionists—desperately want America to invade Iran, thereby triggering the biblical prophecy of the Rapture.

Weinstein long ago stopped believing that evangelicals in the military will grow more tolerant or less militant when faced with calm talk and logical reasoning. The Constitution is the only weapon there is against them, he says, and he has faith that it's a powerful one. "If you don't agree with me," he often scoffs, "then tell it to the judge."

Murdering innocent civilians used to be called war crimes. These days, it's an acceptable cost of war, even when that was is based on known lies.

An Impeachable Offense
November 18, 2007

Losing Afghanistan, One Civilian at a Time

Last year was the worst year for civilian casualties since the fall of the country's cruel Taliban regime, and 2007 is shaping up to be even worse. The most alarming point: As of July, more civilians had died as a result of NATO, U.S. and Afghan government firepower than had died due to the Taliban. According to U.N. figures, 314 civilians were killed by international and Afghan government forces in the first six months of this year, while 279 civilians were killed by the insurgents.

So why on Earth are the NATO and U.S. forces and their Afghan allies killing more civilians than the Taliban? One explanation can be found in the relatively low number of Western boots on the ground. Afghanistan, which is 1 1/2 times the size of Iraq and has a somewhat larger population, has only about 50,000 U.S. and NATO soldiers stationed on its soil. By contrast, more than 170,000 U.S. troops are now in Iraq. So the West has to rely far more heavily on airstrikes in Afghanistan, which inevitably exact a higher toll in civilian casualties. Indeed, the Associated Press found that U.S. and NATO forces launched more than 1,000 airstrikes in Afghanistan in the first six months of 2007 alone -- four times as many airstrikes as U.S. forces carried out in Iraq during that period.

November 24, 2007

Senate Blocks Bush 'Recess' Appointments

Senators have been taking turns standing sentry duty this week -- just to prevent Bush from circumventing the confirmation process by immediately installing people in federal posts while the chamber is in recess. Sen. Jim Webb, D-Va., who carried out that less than glamorous task Tuesday, is a relative newcomer, a low-ranking freshman and a senator who lives just minutes from the Capitol; he wielded his gavel before an empty chamber Tuesday, devoid of senators and even the young pages who serve as messengers.

"I'd much rather be doing this than allow the president to skirt the confirmation process in the Senate," Webb said in a statement. "This is an exercise in protecting the Constitution and our constitutional process."

November 20, 2007

Dollar hits record low vs. euro

NEW YORK (Reuters) — The dollar slid to a record low versus the euro Tuesday after the Federal Reserve said a housing slump, tighter credit conditions and high oil prices would likely slow U.S. economic growth in 2008.

The forecast was released along with minutes from the Fed's October policy meeting, which revealed officials' decision to cut rates was a close call following a debate on whether to await more evidence that a housing slump was curbing growth.

November 21, 2007

Ex-Iraq Commander Says Bring Troops Home

WASHINGTON - Retired Army Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez, the top commander in Iraq shortly after the fall of Baghdad, said this week he supports Democratic legislation that calls for most troops to come home within a year.

His comments come as welcomed ammunition for the Democratic-controlled Congress in its standoff with the White House on war spending. This month, the House passed a $50 billion bill that would pay for combat operations but sets the goal that combat end by Dec. 15, 2008. The White House threatened to veto the measure, and Senate Republicans blocked it from passing.

An Impeachable Offense
November 19, 2007

Former White House press secretary blames Bush for efforts to mislead the public about the role of White House aides in leaking the identity of a CIA operative

WASHINGTON (AP) — Former White House press secretary Scott McClellan blames President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney for efforts to mislead the public about the role of White House aides in leaking the identity of a CIA operative.

In an excerpt from his forthcoming book, McClellan recounts the 2003 news conference in which he told reporters that aides Karl Rove and I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby were "not involved" in the leak involving operative Valerie Plame.

November 19, 2007

Wall Street Plans $38 Billion of Bonuses as Shareholders Lose

Nov. 19 (Bloomberg) -- Shareholders in the securities industry are having their worst year since 2002, losing $74 billion of their equity. That won't prevent Wall Street from paying record bonuses, totaling almost $38 billion.

That money, split among about 186,000 workers at Goldman Sachs Group Inc., Morgan Stanley, Merrill Lynch & Co., Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. and Bear Stearns Cos., equates to an average of $201,500 per person, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The five biggest U.S. securities firms paid $36 billion to employees last year.

November 15, 2007

Bush stuffs budget with pork

WASHINGTON (Map, News) - Since January, President Bush has been publicly condemning Congress for what he describes as wasteful spending on "earmarks," money for projects back home that lawmakers insert into spending bills.

But presidents, including Bush, play the earmark game, too. Bush stuffs his budget with billions for pet projects very much like the ones he attacks when they originate on Capitol Hill, according to taxpayer groups and members of Congress.

"The president directs 20 times as much spending to special projects than the congress does," House Appropriations Committee Chairman David Obey, D-Wis., told The Examiner this week.

November 18, 2007

Military feeling Iraq fatigue, warns general

British troops feel 'devalued, angry' and are 'suffering from Iraq fatigue', according to the head of the army, who warns that Britain's military covenant is under strain.

In a stark assessment of the morale of British troops, General Sir Richard Dannatt warns that the pressures of waging two simultaneous campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan are 'mortgaging the goodwill of our people'.

Dannatt's comments are made in his Staff Briefing Team Report for 2007, leaked to the Sunday Telegraph, in which he warns that the 'military covenant is clearly out of kilter'.

An Impeachable Offense
November 14, 2007

When Did We Become Like Syria

Nov. 14, 2007 | When visiting my grandmother's house in Damascus a few years ago, I never could have imagined sitting one day in a U.S. court, listening to the U.S. government defend its covert transfer of a Canadian citizen to Syria to be tortured.

Yet, that's precisely what happened last Friday in a U.S. circuit court in New York, with the beginning of Maher Arar's appeal of a decision last year by a district court to throw out his suit against the U.S. government. Arar's case was the first to challenge in court the Bush administration's use of rendition -- the process of secretly handing over people to other countries where torture is used during interrogations.

An Impeachable Offense
November 19, 2007

30,000 Medicaid providers cheating on their taxes

More than 30,000 Medicaid providers in seven states - California, Colorado, Florida, Maryland, New York, Pennsylvania and Texas - failed to pay more than $1 billion in federal taxes last year, according to a report released Nov. 14.

In its fifth report to a Senate panel investigating tax cheats that do business with the government, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) says 5 percent of Medicaid providers in the seven states cheat on their taxes - particularly payroll taxes collected from employers.

November 17, 2007

Housing Starts May Drop to 14-Year Low

Nov. 18 (Bloomberg) -- Housing starts in the U.S. fell to a 14-year low in October, signaling the real-estate slump will continue to weigh on growth, economists said before a report this week.

Construction fell 1.8 percent to an annual rate of 1.17 million homes, according to the median forecast of economists surveyed by Bloomberg News before a Commerce Department report on Nov. 20. Building permits, an indicator of future activity, fell 2.1 percent to a 1.2 million pace, economists forecast.

The most notable example of US moral decline is examplimifed by how business, the media and in politics, failure is rewarded. Wall Street is posting massive losses this year and also giving out massive bonuses. Failed CEO's are being paid millions of dollars to leave companies. An in politics, the congress and president who took us to war using fabricated intelligence is still in power.

For well over a decade now Democrats haven't given Democratic voters anything to vote for so a small and vocal minority took power and held on to it. According to the polls, during the 12 years of Republican rule, the GOP never became the majority party.

Democratic leaders (centrist) let the minority rule.

What you can do is simple. Never vote for someone who supported the war, this includes Hillary Clinton. If she's elected as our next president, we'll once again reward failure. She could have spoken out...stopped the Bush lie machine, but instead she became part of it, and in fact was its biggest supporter.

November 2, 2007

Cowardice, Complicity and the Withering of the Soul of America

As The Office of the Vice President continues to scheme and plot for war with Iran, which would also likely correspond with martial law at home, the American worker continues to sink deeper and deeper into a horrifying abyss of economic, moral, and spiritual slavery. Even during the worst days of the Depression, never was the American worker more crushed, more beaten, more defeated. Never was he more atomized, more alienated, more alone.

November 17, 2007

Justice Department Probes US Embassy price Cost

The Justice Department is investigating whether laws were broken during the contracting and constructing of the massive Baghdad embassy complex, the Washington Post reports today.

Despite serious questions about the State Department's choice of contractors, the quality of the work performed and the conditions faced by some of the workers, the State Department's inspector general, Howard "Cookie" Krongard, has allowed only one inquiry into the project, which he handled personally.

An Impeachable Offense
November 16, 2007

U.S. Army Desertion Rate Increases 80%

WASHINGTON (CBS News) -- Soldiers strained by six years at war are deserting their posts at the highest rate since 1980, with the number of Army deserters this year showing an 80 percent increase since the United States invaded Iraq in 2003.

While the totals are still far lower than they were during the Vietnam War, when the draft was in effect, they show a steady increase over the past four years - and a 42 percent jump since last year.

November/December 2007 Issue, 2007

The 50 Year Strategy: A New Progressive Era

Today's progressives face a political opportunity as great as any seen since. The election of 2006 may well have marked the end of the conservative ascendancy that began with the election of Ronald Reagan in 1980. George W. Bush now has the potential to do what Herbert Hoover did in the 1920s—tarnish his party's brand for a generation or more.

As in FDR's day, a new media is emerging, one that will ultimately replace the broadcast model of the 20th century. A new American populace is emerging, led by the arrival of the millennial generation and a new wave of immigrants, particularly Hispanics. And once again, the nation faces massive challenges—from climate change to health care in the era of biotech and preparing young people for a global economy. On the eve of the 2008 election, it's worth raising our sights beyond what it would take for a Democrat to win the presidency, and begin thinking about what it would take to bring about deeper, more lasting changes. The stars have aligned to give progressives a chance to permanently shift the conversation about the nation's values. The question before us now is, Do today's progressives have what it takes to do what FDR and his allies accomplished 75 years ago—seize the new politics, take on the big challenges, and usher in a new era?

November 15, 2007

120 US war veteran suicides a week

THE US military is experiencing a "suicide epidemic" with veterans killing themselves at the rate of 120 a week, according to an investigation by US television network CBS.

At least 6256 US veterans committed suicide in 2005 - an average of 17 a day - the network reported, with veterans overall more than twice as likely to take their own lives as the rest of the general population.

November 13, 2007

Suicide Epidemic Among Veterans

(CBS) They are the casualties of wars you don't often hear about - soldiers who die of self-inflicted wounds. Little is known about the true scope of suicides among those who have served in the military.

But a five-month CBS News investigation discovered data that shows a startling rate of suicide, what some call a hidden epidemic, Chief Investigative Reporter Armen Keteyian reports exclusively.

In 2005, for example, in just those 45 states, there were at least 6,256 suicides among those who served in the armed forces. That's 120 each and every week, in just one year.

November 14, 2007

Sectarian cleansing and the segregation is complete

The number of the displaced, however, has tripled since January, according to the Red Crescent humanitarian organization, and about two-thirds of the victims are children. Most Iraqis who have returned to their homes from abroad have done so because they were penniless, unable to work or deported from their countries of refuge.

One U.S. military official credits the positive changes around the capital to a series of factors: a six-month cease-fire by the Mahdi Army, a Shiite militia blamed for much of the sectarian killing; blast walls that segregate neighborhoods and protect markets; the U.S. troop surge; a Sunni volunteer movement; and less opportunity for sectarian cleansing with neighborhoods divided or already cleansed.

An Impeachable Offense
November 11, 2007

Mentally Ill Veterans Sent Back To War

"I don't believe in another circumstance with the war, that Russell would be redeployed with his PTSD," his girlfriend Catherine Colone said. "But in this war, there just aren't enough soldiers."

One day after Michael DeVlieger was released from an Army hospital in Kentucky for acute stress disorder, he got the redeployment order. Now he's on the front lines.

November 9, 2007

Half a Million U.S. Veterans Homeless in 2006

LOS ANGELES, Nov 9 (OneWorld) - As Americans prepare to honor their military veterans with parades and patriotism this weekend, a new study shows that 494,500 U.S. war vets lived homeless on the street for at least part of last year.

Close to 200,000 veterans are homeless on any given night. The study, by the National Alliance to End Homelessness, found that about half of homeless vets are Vietnam veterans and at least 1,500 are newly returned from Iraq or Afghanistan.

November 1, 2007

GALLUP: Bush Tops Nixon -- In Unpopularity

NEW YORK For almost two years, President Bush has been threatening to unseat Richard M. Nixon as the most unpopular president in the history of the Gallup poll, and it finally happened this week.

The latest USA TODAY/Gallup survey finds Bush with a 31% approval rating -- and for the first time ever in the polling history, 50% say they "strongly disapprove" of a president.

The previous high (or low?) was a 48% strong disapproval rating for Nixon at the worst moments of Watergate in 1974.

An Impeachable Offense
November 14, 2007

FBI report: Blackwater killed 14 Iraqis without cause

WASHINGTON (AFP) - FBI investigators have found that Blackwater guards shot 14 people with no justification in the controversial September 16 incident in Baghdad, the New York Times reported Wednesday.

Seventeen people were killed when Blackwater private security guards opened fire in a crowded Baghdad neighborhood as they protected a State Department convoy. Blackwater said the guards came under attack.

At least 14 of the shootings broke rules for private security guards in Iraq regarding the use of deadly force, the Times reported, citing unnamed civilian and military officials briefed on the case.

November 10, 2007

Chinese sub pops up in middle of U.S. Navy exercise, leaving military chiefs red-faced

American military chiefs have been left dumbstruck by an undetected Chinese submarine popping up at the heart of a recent Pacific exercise and close to the vast U.S.S. Kitty Hawk - a 1,000ft supercarrier with 4,500 personnel on board.

By the time it surfaced the 160ft Song Class diesel-electric attack submarine is understood to have sailed within viable range for launching torpedoes or missiles at the carrier.

According to senior Nato officials the incident caused consternation in the U.S. Navy.

The Americans had no idea China's fast-growing submarine fleet had reached such a level of sophistication, or that it posed such a threat.

An Impeachable Offense
November 14, 2007

Are Iraq's Detainees Treated Fairly?

Whether guilty or innocent, those detainees are then likely to be in for a months-long journey of questioning and petitions. Citing a provision of the Geneva Convention and U.N. Security Council resolutions, U.S. forces in Iraq claim authority to arrest individuals deemed a threat to either the government of Iraq or U.S.-led multinational troops in the country. Initially, anyone arrested by U.S. forces can be held informally for about 14 days before their case gets officially started. After that, the detainee is sent to a U.S. detention compound if military officials decide there is enough evidence of insurgent violence or militia activity.

October 29, 2007

Zogby Poll: 52% Support U.S. Military Strike Against Iran

A majority of likely voters – 52% – would support a U.S. military strike to prevent Iran from building a nuclear weapon, and 53% believe it is likely that the U.S. will be involved in a military strike against Iran before the next presidential election, a new Zogby America telephone poll shows.

When asked which presidential candidate would be best equipped to deal with Iran – regardless of whether or not they expected the U.S. to attack Iran – 21% would most like to see New York U.S. Sen. Hillary Clinton leading the country, while 15% would prefer former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani and 14% would want Arizona U.S. Sen. John McCain in charge. Another 10% said Illinois Sen. Barack Obama would be best equipped to deal with Iran, while Republican Fred Thompson (5%), Democrat John Edwards (4%) and Republican Mitt Romney (3%) were less likely to be viewed as the best leaders to help the U.S. deal with Iran. The telephone poll of 1,028 likely voters nationwide was conducted Oct. 24-27, 2007 and carries a margin of error of +/- 3.1 percentage points.

An Impeachable Offense
October 13, 2007

UN Accuses US Contractors of War Crimes

BAGHDAD (AP) — U.N. officials in Iraq stepped up pressure on the United States on Thursday to prosecute any unjustified killings of Iraqi civilians by private security contractors, saying such killings could amount to war crimes or crimes against humanity if "done in cold blood."

While Americans are unlikely to face such charges, the words served as a harsh rebuke as outrage spreads over what many Iraqis perceive as overly aggressive behavior of the heavily armed foreigners protecting U.S. government-funded work.

"For us, it's a human rights issue," said Ivana Vuco, a human rights officer with the U.N. Assistance Mission to Iraq, or UNAMI. "We will monitor the allegations of killings by security contractors and look into whether or not crimes against humanity and war crimes have been committed."

An Impeachable Offense
October 13, 2007

US soldiers: Blackwater attacked fleeing Iraqi civilian

The Blackwater security forces that opened fire on a public square in Baghdad last month, leaving 17 dead, attacked fleeing Iraqi civilians in a "criminal event," according to American soldiers on the scene just minutes after the incident. News of the Army report comes just a day after the families of three Iraqis killed in the September 16 incident, along with another Iraqi man who was injured, filed a lawsuit against Blackwater in US federal court. The fallout over the incident has made it increasingly difficult for contractors to operate in Iraq, and also Afghanistan.

The Washington Post says that according to their report, the US soldiers – after investigations at the square and interviews with witnesses and Iraqi police – found no evidence that any Iraqis had fired weapons and concluded that there was "no enemy activity involved." They did find evidence, however, that indicated Blackwater contractors fired on civilian vehicles fleeing the square.

October 13, 2007

U.S. maternal death rate higher than Europe's

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States has a sharply higher rate of women dying during or just after pregnancy than European countries, even some relatively poor countries such as Macedonia and Bosnia, according to the first estimates in five years on maternal deaths worldwide.

The report released by various United Nations agencies and the World Bank on Friday shows that Ireland has the lowest rate of deaths, while several African countries have the worst.

The United States has a far higher death rate than the European average, the report shows, with one in 4,800 U.S. women dying from complications of pregnancy or childbirth, the same as Belarus and just slightly better than Serbia's rate of one in 4,500.

October 1, 2007

Congress raises limit again as U.S. debt nears $10 trillion

WASHINGTON — As the national debt heads for the $10 trillion mark, generous Americans are sending checks to the federal government.

Donations to the Bureau of the Public Debt have topped $2.5 million so far this year. That's the highest amount since at least 1996.

It's not making much of a dent, though.

For the fifth time since 2001, Congress is raising the debt limit, increasing it by $850 billion to $9.815 trillion. The Senate approved the plan on a 53-42 vote Thursday night. The House of Representatives has already signed off on the plan, without a direct vote.

That's $9,815,000,000,000.00.

October 24, 2007

State Department pays private contractors $4 billion a year

WASHINGTON, Oct. 19 — Over the past four years, the amount of money the State Department pays to private security and law enforcement contractors has soared to nearly $4 billion a year from $1 billion, administration officials said Tuesday, but they said that the department had added few new officials to oversee the contracts.

It was the first time that the administration had outlined the ballooning scope of the contracts, and it provided a new indication of how the State Department's efforts to monitor private companies had not kept pace. Auditors and outside exerts say the results have been vast cost overruns, poor contract performance and, in some cases, violence that has so far gone unpunished.

October 29, 2007

Fearing Fear Itself

In America's darkest hour, Franklin Delano Roosevelt urged the nation not to succumb to "nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror." But that was then.

Today, many of the men who hope to be the next president — including all of the candidates with a significant chance of receiving the Republican nomination — have made unreasoning, unjustified terror the centerpiece of their campaigns.

Consider, for a moment, the implications of the fact that Rudy Giuliani is taking foreign policy advice from Norman Podhoretz, who wants us to start bombing Iran "as soon as it is logistically possible."

Mr. Podhoretz, the editor of Commentary and a founding neoconservative, tells us that Iran is the "main center of the Islamofascist ideology against which we have been fighting since 9/11." The Islamofascists, he tells us, are well on their way toward creating a world "shaped by their will and tailored to their wishes." Indeed, "Already, some observers are warning that by the end of the 21st century the whole of Europe will be transformed into a place to which they give the name Eurabia."

An Impeachable Offense
October 30, 2007

Mukasey: Law is no longer supreme

President Bush's nominee for attorney general, Michael Mukasey, was asked an important question about Congress's power at his confirmation hearing. If witnesses claim executive privilege and refuse to respond to Congressional subpoenas in the United States attorneys scandal — as Karl Rove and Harriet Miers have done — and Congress holds them in contempt, would his Justice Department refer the matter to a grand jury for criminal prosecution, as federal law requires?

Mr. Mukasey suggested the answer would be no. That was hardly his only slap-down of Congress. He made the startling claim that a president can defy laws if he or she is acting within the authority "to defend the country." That is a mighty large exception to the rule that Congress's laws are supreme.

October 18, 2007

No Exit Strategy: It's the Oil

Iraq is 'unwinnable', a 'quagmire', a 'fiasco': so goes the received opinion. But there is good reason to think that, from the Bush-Cheney perspective, it is none of these things. Indeed, the US may be 'stuck' precisely where Bush et al want it to be, which is why there is no 'exit strategy'.

Iraq has 115 billion barrels of known oil reserves. That is more than five times the total in the United States. And, because of its long isolation, it is the least explored of the world's oil-rich nations. A mere two thousand wells have been drilled across the entire country; in Texas alone there are a million. It has been estimated, by the Council on Foreign Relations, that Iraq may have a further 220 billion barrels of undiscovered oil; another study puts the figure at 300 billion. If these estimates are anywhere close to the mark, US forces are now sitting on one quarter of the world's oil resources. The value of Iraqi oil, largely light crude with low production costs, would be of the order of $30 trillion at today's prices. For purposes of comparison, the projected total cost of the US invasion/occupation is around $1 trillion.

An Impeachable Offense
November 1, 2007

Foreign drugs get little scrutiny by FDA

Prescription drugs and drug ingredients pour into the United States from an estimated 3,000 foreign companies, though the real number is unknown and could be as high as 6,700, congressional inspectors said in a memo to members of the subcommittee ahead of Thursday's hearing. Among those invited to testify: FDA commissioner Dr. Andrew von Eschenbach. The agency declined an interview request ahead of the hearing.

The FDA plans to inspect just 300 foreign drug firms this year, announcing in advance its intent to do so each time. Of those inspections, most are of plants that make drugs awaiting FDA approval. Just 15 are of the type of periodic assessment meant to ensure a company's products remain safe in the years following FDA approval, though some pre-approval inspections also include some post-approval surveillance.

October 26, 2007

Pentagon reels from second major nuclear arms blunder in a month

The Pentagon was reeling last night from the American military's second major nuclear weapons blunder in a month.

The latest outrage came as Commander Michael Portland, the officer in charge of the USS Hampton, the most advanced nuclear attack submarine in the world, was fired after it was discovered that he had neglected to make basic daily safety checks.

The Pentagon said that it had lost confidence in Commander Portland's leadership after checks showed that he had failed to analyze the chemical and radiological properties of the submarine's nuclear reactor for a month.

It is considered vital that the reactor's condition be fully examined every day so that any malfunction can be caught early.

October 28, 2007

Taliban Continue to Control Musa Qala

KABUL, Afghanistan — Days after Taliban fighters overran Musa Qala in February a U.S. commander pledged that Western troops would take it back. Nine months later, the town is still Taliban territory, a symbol of the West's struggles to control the poppy-growing south.

But a string of recent battles, won overwhelmingly by American Special Forces, signal a renewed U.S. interest in the symbolic Taliban stronghold, and an Afghan army commander on Sunday said talks are being held with Musa Qala's tribal leaders to help win back the town from the Arab, Chechen and Uzbek fighters who roam its streets.

The media is working with Bush to convince Americans Iran has nukes but of course it's very similar to 2002 when they lied to us about WMD in Iraq. If you're still sane you see it for what it is - a lie, but if you're still part of the delusional class you still can't see it yet.

An Impeachable Offense
October 29, 2007

ElBaradei: UN has no evidence Iran is making nuclear weapons

The head of the United Nations' International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) reiterated on Sunday that he had no evidence Iran is building nuclear weapons and accused US leaders of adding "fuel to the fire" with recent bellicose rhetoric. "I have not received any information that there is a concrete active nuclear weapons program going on right now," Mohamed ElBaradei told CNN.

"Even if Iran were to be working on a nuclear weapon ... they are at least a few years from having such a weapon," he added, citing assessments by US officials themselves.