Friday, February 23, 2007

US Rejects Ban on Cluster Bombs

The United States on Friday rejected an international call to abandon the use of cluster bombs, State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said.


Forty-six countries meeting in Oslo on Friday pledged to seek a treaty banning cluster bombs by next year, with major user and stockpiler Britain and manufacturer France signing on, Norway said.


Japan, Poland and Romania refused to sign the accord, while key nations such as Israel and the United States did not take part in the conference.

The 46 countries agreed to "commit themselves to ... conclude by 2008 a legally binding international instrument that will prohibit the use, production, transfer and stockpiling of cluster munitions that cause unacceptable harm to civilians," according to the declaration.

A number of leading countries, including Britain and France, had previously said they wanted a ban to be part of the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons, a process which Norway and a number of other nations consider to be a failure.

A cluster bomb is a container holding hundreds of smaller bomblets. It opens in mid-air and disperses the bomblets over a large area.

The smaller bombs do not always explode on impact, which means they can continue to kill innocent civilians years later.

A recent report by Handicap International claimed that 98 percent of casualties from cluster munitions are non-combatants.

32 Year High for Americans in Poverty

WASHINGTON - The percentage of poor Americans who are living in severe poverty has reached a 32-year high, millions of working Americans are falling closer to the poverty line and the gulf between the nation's "haves" and "have-nots" continues to widen.

A McClatchy Newspapers analysis of 2005 census figures, the latest available, found that nearly 16 million Americans are living in deep or severe poverty. A family of four with two children and an annual income of less than $9,903 - half the federal poverty line - was considered severely poor in 2005. So were individuals who made less than $5,080 a year.

The McClatchy analysis found that the number of severely poor Americans grew by 26 percent from 2000 to 2005. That's 56 percent faster than the overall poverty population grew in the same period. McClatchy's review also found statistically significant increases in the percentage of the population in severe poverty in 65 of 215 large U.S. counties, and similar increases in 28 states. The review also suggested that the rise in severely poor residents isn't confined to large urban counties but extends to suburban and rural areas.

The plight of the severely poor is a distressing sidebar to an unusual economic expansion. Worker productivity has increased dramatically since the brief recession of 2001, but wages and job growth have lagged behind. At the same time, the share of national income going to corporate profits has dwarfed the amount going to wages and salaries. That helps explain why the median household income of working-age families, adjusted for inflation, has fallen for five straight years.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Corruption and US Attorneys

As per Washington conventional wisdom we're now supposed to accept that the firing of seven US attorneys around the country was, yes, perhaps unprecedented, but more an example of Bush cronyism than an effort to short-circuit one or more investigations. But the firing of Lam just doesn't bear out that reading.

Earlier this month, Lam indicted Brent Wilkes, Dusty Foggo and John T. Michael.

By almost any measure this is a public corruption indictment of historic proportions. Wilkes corrupted the sitting US congressman who got the longest sentence ever given to a member of Congress. Foggo was the executive director of the CIA, the number three guy, the one who actually ran the agency on a daily basis. Michael helped bribing Duke and he also appears to have lied to investigators. He's also the nephew of Tommy Kontogiannis, a key player in the scandal who is listed as an indicted briber-and-coconspirator in Duke Cunningham's plea agreement. One of the big mysteries in this case is why Kontogiannis still hasn't been indicted, especially now that his nephew -- whose role in the case was secondary to that of his uncle -- has. On Kontogiannis, it's probably worth considering the widespread reports of his role on the fringe of the intelligence and criminal underworlds to see why he might, as yet, have drawn a pass.

In any case, a pretty weighty indictment. And the prosecutor gets forced out so that she only barely has time to bring the main indictments? That sounds very fishy.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Oh Mr. Bush....

you might want to read Riverbend today.

Be sure to read to the end.

I wonder if that will wipe that fucking smirk off your face.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Making Martial Law Easier

Thanks TWPE!
A disturbing recent phenomenon in Washington is that laws that strike to the heart of American democracy have been passed in the dead of night. So it was with a provision quietly tucked into the enormous defense budget bill at the Bush administration’s behest that makes it easier for a president to override local control of law enforcement and declare martial law.

The provision, signed into law in October, weakens two obscure but important bulwarks of liberty. One is the doctrine that bars military forces, including a federalized National Guard, from engaging in law enforcement. Called posse comitatus, it was enshrined in law after the Civil War to preserve the line between civil government and the military. The other is the Insurrection Act of 1807, which provides the major exemptions to posse comitatus. It essentially limits a president’s use of the military in law enforcement to putting down lawlessness, insurrection and rebellion, where a state is violating federal law or depriving people of constitutional rights.

The newly enacted provisions upset this careful balance. They shift the focus from making sure that federal laws are enforced to restoring public order. Beyond cases of actual insurrection, the president may now use military troops as a domestic police force in response to a natural disaster, a disease outbreak, terrorist attack or to any “other condition.”

Friday, February 09, 2007

The 25 Most Corrupt Officials of the Bush Administration

Monday, February 05, 2007

Compassionate Conservatism

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Obscene War Spending, Budgets Cuts Domestically

What a disgusting man:
WASHINGTON (Reuters) -
President George W. Bush said on Saturday his upcoming budget proposal would emphasize restraint on domestic spending while making defense and war costs for Iraq and Afghanistan the top priority.

"Cutting the deficit during a time of war requires us to restrain spending in other areas," Bush said in his weekly radio address.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

A Bigger Surge

Analysis: "Surge" Far Larger Than 20,000 Troops

A analysis released today by the Congressional Budget Office shows that the administration, in its public comments, has vastly underestimated the actual number of extra troops that will be deployed to Iraq under the president's "surge" plan.

The administration's estimate of approximately 21,000 extra troops only counts combat units, according to the analysis, and because combat units require support forces, the actual number of additional troops who will be in Iraq will likely exceed 35,000.