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Archive for January 18th, 2010

Afghan Cabinet Problems

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on January 18th, 2010 5:53 am by HL

Afghan Cabinet Problems
It looks as if President Hamid Karzai’s Cabinet strategy is still in desperate need of repair. The majority of his Cabinet nominees have once again been rejected by the Afghan parliament, casting doubt on his ability to lead in the country’s fractious political environment. Also, let us not forget the fact that Karzai holds power through an election debacle—e.g., fraud—and that his opponent in the 2009 runoff election withdraw from the race because he did not think the contest could be fair under the existing corrupt system. —JCL The Guardian: The Afghan parliament dealt a further blow to the authority of President Hamid Karzai by rejecting 10 of his 17 new cabinet nominees. The vote today comes a fortnight after MPs turned down 70% of Karzai’s first cabinet choices. The 224 MPs did approve two key posts – Karzai’s former security adviser Zalmay Rasul was approved as foreign minister and Habibullah Ghalib as justice minister. But only one of three female nominees was approved – Amina Afzali, as work and social affairs minister. The two women proposed for the posts of public health and women’s affairs were rejected. Read more

Karzai

It looks as if President Hamid Karzai’s Cabinet strategy is still in desperate need of repair. The majority of his Cabinet nominees have once again been rejected by the Afghan parliament, casting doubt on his ability to lead in the country’s fractious political environment.

Also, let us not forget the fact that Karzai holds power through an election debacle—e.g., fraud—and that his opponent in the 2009 runoff election withdraw from the race because he did not think the contest could be fair under the existing corrupt system. —JCL

The Guardian:

The Afghan parliament dealt a further blow to the authority of President Hamid Karzai by rejecting 10 of his 17 new cabinet nominees.

The vote today comes a fortnight after MPs turned down 70% of Karzai’s first cabinet choices.

The 224 MPs did approve two key posts – Karzai’s former security adviser Zalmay Rasul was approved as foreign minister and Habibullah Ghalib as justice minister.

But only one of three female nominees was approved – Amina Afzali, as work and social affairs minister. The two women proposed for the posts of public health and women’s affairs were rejected.

Read more

Related Entries



Robert Kuttner: A Wake Up Call

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on January 18th, 2010 5:52 am by HL

Robert Kuttner: A Wake Up Call
How could the health care issue have turned from a reform that was going to make Barack Obama ten feet tall into a poison pill for Democratic senators? Whether or not Martha Coakley squeaks through in Massachusetts on Tuesday, the health bill has already done incalculable political damage and will likely do more. Either way, the Massachusetts surprise should be a wake-up call of the most fundamental kind. Obama needs to stop playing inside games with bankers and insurance lobbyists, and start being a fighter for regular Americans.

Lawrence O’Donnell: Will Scott Brown Ruin Republicans’ (Secret) Plan to Pass Obamacare?
It is now a given that if he wins a Massachusetts Senate seat on Tuesday, Scott Brown will destroy the Democrats’ plan to pass health care reform. But he will also destroy the Republicans’ not-so-secret plan to pass health care reform.

Death Penalty Opponents Wooing Conservatives
LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Roy Brown seems like a rarity – a conservative who’s against the death penalty. But to Brown, a state senator and the…

Al Sharpton: Pat Robertson’s Haiti Comments ‘Un-Christian’
The Rev. Al Sharpton came to the Christ United Temple on Chicago’s South Side Sunday, asking churches to contribute to Haiti relief funds. Along the…

John O’Kane: Who’s the Enemy?
To convert a piece of wisdom from Martin Luther King, if we are to move toward the creation of a better democracy, and eventually produce the paths to reach the promised land, we need to face adversity.


Selective memory? Former Bush official Hughes ignored Reid’s ties to Al Qaeda

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on January 18th, 2010 5:51 am by HL

Selective memory? Former Bush official Hughes ignored Reid’s ties to Al Qaeda

On Meet the Press, public relations executive and former Bush administration official Karen Hughes argued that Northwest Airlines bomber Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab should not be tried in a criminal court — as “shoe bomber” Richard Reid was — because the “circumstances weren’t similar. He [Reid] was not sent here by Al Qaeda to engage in an act of war against our country.” However, Reid’s indictment explicitly tied him to Al Qaeda training camps; the FBI reportedly believed “an al Qaeda bomb maker” made Reid’s bomb; and, during his sentencing, Reid professed “allegiance” to Osama bin Laden before saying he was “at war” with the United States.

Hughes claims Abdulmutallab and Reid situations “weren’t similar” because Reid wasn’t “sent here by Al Qaeda”

From the January 17 broadcast of NBC’s Meet the Press:

HUGHES: I do think that President Obama has made some decisions that have been very ill-advised in the area of national security. For example, the decision to try the Christmas Day — the Al Qaeda operative who came here to engage in an act of war against our country on Christmas Day — in civilian courts is a mistake. He’s someone who was training in the training camps in Yemen. He might have knowledge of other pending attacks against our country. He should have been interrogated legally and designated as an enemy combatant and interrogated —

DAVID GREGORY (host): He did provide a good deal of information just being interrogated by existing methods.

HUGHES: Well, he could have, you say.

GREGORY: No, he was. He provided a lot of information so far.

HUGHES: I hope so. But again, I think it’s a mistake to take someone — we have to be very honest about what is at stake in this war against Al Qaeda.

JOHN PODESTA (CEO, Center for American Progress): That’s exactly what the Bush administration did with Mr. Reeves [sic], the shoe bomber, who was — in very similar circumstances, was traveling to the United States.

HUGHES: The circumstances weren’t similar. He was not sent here by Al Qaeda to engage in an act of war against our country. It was not a similar situation.

Reid indictment tied him to Al Qaeda training camps

Two of the counts against Reid said “[at] various times relevant to this count, Richard Colvin Reid received training from Al-Qaeda in Afghanistan.” On January 16, 2002, a grand jury indicted Reid on eight counts related to terrorism, including “attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction against a national of the United States,” and “attempted homicide of a national of the United States outside the United States.” For those two charges, the indictment states:

1. At all times relevant to this count brought under Title 18, United States Code, Chapter 113B–Terrorism, Al-Qaeda was a designated foreign terrorist organization pursuant to 8 U.S.C. §1189.

2. At various times relevant to this count, Richard Colvin Reid received training from Al-Qaeda in Afghanistan.

FBI reportedly suspected Al Qaeda involvement in Reid’s attempted attack

NY Times: “Prosecutors said they found evidence that” Reid “had help” with constructing his bomb. In a January 31, 2003, article on Reid’s sentencing, The New York Times reported: “Although Mr. Reid told investigators that he had constructed the bombs himself from materials he bought in Europe, prosecutors said they found evidence that he had help. Among the evidence was a human hair in the bomb and a palm print on the paper used to make the detonator.”

 Mueller reportedly said FBI believed “an al Qaeda bomb maker” made Reid’s bomb. In a May 2002 speech before the National Association of District Attorneys, FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III reportedly said that the FBI believed that ”an Al Qaeda bomb maker” made Reid’s shoe bomb.

During sentencing, Reid pledged “allegiance” to bin Laden and said he was “at war” with the U.S.

Reid: I “admit my allegiance to Osama bin Laden, to Islam, and to the religion of Allah.” According to CNN transcripts from Reid’s January 30, 2003, sentencing hearing, Reid said: “I further admit my allegiance to Osama bin Laden,” and “I am at war with your country.” He added:

REID: With regards to what you said about killing innocent people, I will say one thing. Your government has killed 2 million children in Iraq. If you want to think about something, against 2 million, I don’t see no comparison.

Your government has sponsored the rape and torture of Muslims in the prisons of Egypt and Turkey and Syria and Jordan with their money and with their weapons. I don’t know, see what I done as being equal to rape and to torture, or to the deaths of the two million children in Iraq.

 Reid: “I am at war with your country.” Reid further stated:

REID: So, for this reason, I think I ought not apologize for my actions. I am at war with your country. I’m at war with them not for personal reasons but because they have murdered more than, so many children and they have oppressed my religion and they have oppressed people for no reason except that they say we believe in Allah.


The Rehabilitation Of Joseph McCarthy? Texas Textbooks Process Grinds On

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on January 18th, 2010 5:50 am by HL

The Rehabilitation Of Joseph McCarthy? Texas Textbooks Process Grinds On
In the home stretch of a process that will set Texas’ nationally influential history textbook standards, a liberal watchdog group is worried that the State Board of Education will try to push through changes to claim that communist-hunting Sen. Joseph McCarthy has been vindicated by history.

U.S. Embassy Guards Now Being Recruited On Craigslist
In what has got to be some kind of milestone in the privatization of government security functions, an Ohio firm has turned to online classifieds service Craigslist to recruit guards for the U.S. embassy in Brazil.

Contractors’ Attorney: Blackwater Is Scapegoating My Clients In Kabul Murder Case
A lawyer for the Blackwater contractors charged last week with killing two men in Kabul says his clients were thrown under the bus by a company desperate to preserve its standing with the Afghan government, after another shooting case in Iraq led to a crackdown on its operations in that country.



The Last of Sarah?

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on January 18th, 2010 5:46 am by HL

The Last of Sarah?


Avatar Half-Tells a Story We Would All Prefer to Forget

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on January 18th, 2010 5:45 am by HL

Avatar Half-Tells a Story We Would All Prefer to Forget
The real story of what happened to Native Americans is a story no one wants to hear, because of the challenge it presents to the way we choose to see ourselves.

The real story of what happened to Native Americans is a story no one wants to hear, because of the challenge it presents to the way we choose to see ourselves.

Martin Luther King’s Legacy and Israel’s Future
King’s teachings can help us see Israel’s state violence in a new light that illuminates the deep, often unnoticed links between violence and irrational fear.

King's teachings can help us see Israel's state violence in a new light that illuminates the deep, often unnoticed links between violence and irrational fear.

Getting to the Bottom of Why "They" Want to Hurt Us
Veteran White House correspondent Helen Thomas broke through the terrorism boilerplate by asking "why."

Veteran White House correspondent Helen Thomas broke through the terrorism boilerplate by asking "why."


Weekly Roundup: What We Missed

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on January 18th, 2010 5:44 am by HL

Weekly Roundup: What We Missed
The week began with a ‘game-changer,’ so to speak, and a PR disaster for the Senate Majority Leader. This story, thankfully, fizzled out, but for the worst possible reason. The unspeakable tragedy in Haiti has, understandably, been the primary focus…


Majority leaderUnited States SenateSenateUnited StatesHaiti

A Sobering Picture
[See a high-resolution version of the map here.] Yesterday, at my request, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a report that provides a thorough understanding of the state of the housing market at the end of June 2009. A…


Government Accountability OfficeGovernmentViolence and AbuseElderFinance

The Last Big Question: Will Health Care Reform Be Paid For By The Rich or the Middle Class?
There’s only one big remaining issue on health care reform: how to pay for it. The House wants a 5.4 percent surtax on couples earning at least $1 million in annual income. The Senate wants a 40 percent excise tax…


Health careSenateExciseUnited States SenateHealth


Red Cross financial aid Scott Brown voted to kill now assisting Massachusetts relief efforts in Haiti.

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on January 18th, 2010 5:43 am by HL

Red Cross financial aid Scott Brown voted to kill now assisting Massachusetts relief efforts in Haiti.
State Sen. Scott Brown (R-MA), the Republican candidate for the special U.S. Senate election Tuesday, voted against a bill to provide financial assistance to 9/11 rescue workers who had volunteered to rush to the site of the twin towers after the terrorist attack in 2001. The measure, which was opposed by only two other […]

haitianimmigrants State Sen. Scott Brown (R-MA), the Republican candidate for the special U.S. Senate election Tuesday, voted against a bill to provide financial assistance to 9/11 rescue workers who had volunteered to rush to the site of the twin towers after the terrorist attack in 2001. The measure, which was opposed by only two other legislators in addition to Brown, provided paid “leaves of absence for certain Red Cross employees participating in Red Cross emergencies.” Despite Brown’s efforts to kill the legislation, it passed along overwhelmingly bipartisan lines and is now helping to compensate Massachusetts Red Cross employees currently deploying to Haiti to provide emergency assistance after the devastating earthquake. Asked yesterday by ThinkProgress why he opposed the 2001 measure for rescue workers, Brown stated that he had his “own priorities first” at the time. As ThinkProgress reported, during the same period that Brown opposed the financial aid to 9/11 rescue workers, he sponsored a bill to provide a tax-subsidized bond to build a golf course in his district, and voted for across the board corporate tax subsidies.

Bush repudiates criticisms that Obama is ?politicizing? Haiti: ?I don?t know what they?re talking about.?
Last week following the devastating earthquake that hit Haiti, hate radio host Rush Limbaugh controversially said that President Obama was politicizing the disaster by trying to boost his credibility with the “light-skinned and dark-skinned black community in this country.” Fox News host Glenn Beck also said that Obama was “dividing the nation” by reacting “so […]

Last week following the devastating earthquake that hit Haiti, hate radio host Rush Limbaugh controversially said that President Obama was politicizing the disaster by trying to boost his credibility with the “light-skinned and dark-skinned black community in this country.” Fox News host Glenn Beck also said that Obama was “dividing the nation” by reacting “so rapidly to Haiti.” Today on NBC’s Meet the Press, host David Gregory asked President Bush about these criticisms (without specifically mentioning either Limbaugh or Beck). Bush rejected their characterizations:

GREGORY: In some circles, the President’s been criticized for politicizing this disaster. Do you think that’s fair?

BUSH: I don’t know what they’re talking about. I’ve been briefed by the President about the response. And as I said in my opening comment, I appreciate the President’s quick response to this disaster.

Watch it:

Televangelist Pat Robertson has also been receiving a significant negative backlash to his remarks that Haiti’s earthquake was a result of the country’s “pact to the devil” many years ago. As the earthquake has brought out the “fundamental goodness” in many Haitians who are helping to rebuild their country, many religious leaders are incensed by Robertson’s remarks. “I get mad when I hear that Haiti is somehow being punished,” said Arsene Jasmin, head of Haitian outreach for the Catholic Archdiocese of Washington. “It’s unacceptable and wrong.”


Obama’s first year: ‘High hopes and deferred dreams’ for black Americans

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on January 18th, 2010 5:42 am by HL

Obama’s first year: ‘High hopes and deferred dreams’ for black Americans
Adapted from A Day Late and A Dollar Short: High Hopes and Deferred Dreams in Obama’s ‘Post-racial’ America, published this month by John Wiley and Sons.


Obama invokes health-care ‘progress’ in speech honoring MLK
President Obama called on the memory of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. on Sunday in making what could be seen as a veiled plea for pragmatism on his health-care overhaul, saying that the civil rights leader never chose to forsake progress for a theoretical ideal that was out of reach at the time.

Fewer Americans think Obama has advanced race relations, poll shows
Soaring expectations about the effect of the first black president on U.S. race relations have collided with a more mundane reality, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll.


Off-The-Cliff, But Catching On

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on January 18th, 2010 5:38 am by HL

Off-The-Cliff, But Catching On
George Will, Houston Chronicle

Assessing Obama, One Year Later
Dan Balz, Washington Post
A month before he was inaugurated, Barack Obama pinpointed one of the biggest challenges he would face as president. Could he restore confidence in government, even as he was proposing the biggest federal intervention in the domestic economy in a generation?At the time, Obama said he did not think his victory marked an abrupt end to the skepticism ushered in by President Ronald Reagan toward top-down government and social engineering by Washington.”What we don't know yet is whether my administration and this next generation of leadership is going to be able to hew to a new, more…

Mr. Schwarzenegger Goes to Washington

Independents Key in Massachusetts Election
Brian Mooney, Boston Globe
Independent voters in Massachusetts are an unpredictable breed and downright ornery when times are bad. On Tuesday, they will determine who will be the state’s next US senator in a race too close to call, capturing the nation’s attention because the fate of a national health care overhaul hangs in the balance.Termed unenrolled voters because they are not affiliated with a party, independents constitute a majority of the registered voters in the state. Republicans, outnumbered by Democrats by more than 3 to 1, need to capture a huge majority of independents and a slice of…