July 2007


Even the White House won’t defend Alberto Gonzales any more. Nor will any other conservatives. So why is he still attorney general? Only because he is friends with Bush? Only because he knows all of Bush’s secrets? What a sham!

Here are some choice quotes from the interview on Fox. From Chris Wallace:

“By the way, we invited White House officials and Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee to defend Attorney General Gonzales. We had no takers.”

From Newt Gingrich:

“Both the president and country are better served if the attorney general is a figure of competence. Sadly, the current attorney general is not seen as any of those things. I think it’s a liability for the president. More importantly, it’s a liability for the United States of America.”

Rachel Maddow shows that the repubs only care about unborn children and not children after they’re born. Good job!


 

This is Senator Schumer talking this morning about Attorney General Gonzales. I want to be a senate dem when I grow up.

end the occupation of iraqWhen the Iraq war started in 2003, Donald Rumsfeld told us that it would probably last, “It could last six days, six weeks. I doubt six months,”
He was right. Six weeks later, the president strutted around a ship near San Diego and told the troops on the ship this: “In the battle of Iraq, the United States and our allies have prevailed,” Bush said then. “The battle of Iraq is one victory in a war on terror that began on Sept. 11, 2001, and still goes on. … We do not know the day of final victory, but we have seen the turning of the tide.”

So, the war ended and then the occupation started. And disaster. And looting. And violence. And the worst decision-making in history. And five years later, people are still dying.

The time to end the occupation is NOW! And here are some things you can do to help:

1) Start calling it an occupation and not a war.

2) Learn more about it. Here are some good websites:

3) Call your member of congress and your senator and tell them to fund the withdrawal of the troops.

Please do what you can and leave suggestions here of other places where people can learn how to end the occupation.

Time to start looking at who is for impeachment and who is against.

Cindy Sheehan said this today:

“If Nancy Pelosi doesn’t do her constitutionally mandated job by
midnight tonight, tomorrow I will announce that I’m going to run
against her,” Sheehan said after a cross-country trip with supporters.

“Not only am I going to run against her, but I will beat her.”


Who else is on board?

On Sunday, Democratic Senator Russ Feingold said he would introduce two censure motions, a lesser non-binding device than impeachment, against Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney and other White House officials.

US peace activist Cindy Sheehan vowed Monday to stand for election against top Democrat Nancy Pelosi in 2008, over her refusal to launch an impeachment drive against President George W. Bush.(AFP/Nicholas Kamm )

AFP Photo:
US peace activist Cindy Sheehan vowed Monday to stand for election against top Democrat Nancy…

Here’s one more to add to the list:

Priming the Pump

The purpose of this workspace is to develop Articles of Impeachment against the chief villains of BushCo.
This workspace was inspired by a post by looseheadprop at FireDogLake.

(Note: these articles are just proposals.

The real Articles will be written by the House Judiciary Committee.)

Table of Contents

Standards and Order of Proof

Articles of Impeachment concerning President George W. Bush

Articles of Impeachment concerning George W. Bush et al.

Articles of Impeachment concerning Vice President Dick Cheney

Articles of Impeachment concerning Attorney-General Alberto Gonzales

Additional proposals for articles of impeachment may be found at http://www.impeachpac.org/?q=articles

impeachThis is from Democrats.com:

Ten Reasons to Impeach George Bush and Dick Cheney

I ask Congress to impeach President Bush and Vice President Cheney for the following reasons: 1. Violating the United Nations Charter by launching an illegal “War of Aggression” against Iraq without cause, using fraud to sell the war to Congress and the public, misusing government funds to begin bombing without Congressional authorization, and subjecting our military personnel to unnecessary harm, debilitating injuries, and deaths.

2. Violating U.S. and international law by authorizing the torture of thousands of captives, resulting in dozens of deaths, and keeping prisoners hidden from the International Committee of the Red Cross.

3. Violating the Constitution by arbitrarily detaining Americans, legal residents, and non-Americans, without due process, without charge, and without access to counsel.

4. Violating the Geneva Conventions by targeting civilians, journalists, hospitals, and ambulances, and using illegal weapons, including white phosphorous, depleted uranium, and a new type of napalm.

5. Violating U.S. law and the Constitution through widespread wiretapping of the phone calls and emails of Americans without a warrant.

6. Violating the Constitution by using “signing statements” to defy hundreds of laws passed by Congress.

7. Violating U.S. and state law by obstructing honest elections in 2000, 2002, 2004, and 2006.

8. Violating U.S. law by using paid propaganda and disinformation, selectively and misleadingly leaking classified information, and exposing the identity of a covert CIA operative working on sensitive WMD proliferation for political retribution.

9. Subverting the Constitution and abusing Presidential power by asserting a “Unitary Executive Theory” giving unlimited powers to the President, by obstructing efforts by Congress and the Courts to review and restrict Presidential actions, and by promoting and signing legislation negating the Bill of Rights and the Writ of Habeas Corpus.

10. Gross negligence in failing to assist New Orleans residents after Hurricane Katrina, in ignoring urgent warnings of an Al Qaeda attack prior to Sept. 11, 2001, and in increasing air pollution causing global warming.

Buzzflash is having a contest (with cash prizes!) to list the
“Top 10 Reasons to Impeach Bush and Cheney”.

And here is one from AfterDowningStreet:

 

Accountability Demands Impeachment
Marcel J. Harmon, Ph.D.

I’m outraged – again.

I recently finished reading Seymour Hersh’s piece in the June 25th New Yorker on Army General Antonio Taguba’s investigation and resulting report regarding the Abu Ghraib scandal. In the third to last paragraph, Hersh quotes Taguba as follows: “’There was no doubt in my mind that this stuff’ – the explicit images – ‘was gravitating upward. It was standard operating procedure to assume that this had to go higher. The President had to be aware of this.’ He [Taguba] said that Rumsfeld, his senior aides, and the high-ranking generals and admirals who stood with him as he misrepresented what he knew about Abu Ghraib had failed the nation.”

As I’ve done so many times before, I wondered again how this administration has managed to leave its six-year wake of political, social, economic, and environmental damage, in such an arrogant and incompetent manner, without more of a demand for accountability. I turned to my wife and again asked how we could begin impeachment proceedings against a president who lied about having sex, yet let the George W. administration skate.

But my wife simply replied, “I’m not going to waste my energy and time on this when nothing will get done – I’m just not going to get outraged.”

How many times have I heard others express the same sentiment? How many times have I let my own outrage fizzle as the day-to-day issues of life take over? The all-encompassing daily grind, our culture of consumption, and mind-numbing 24/7 mass media – all act as a distraction to the benefit of those in power. And the growing divide between the have and have-nots only magnifies our day-to-day struggle, further distracting us from the bigger picture. The corporate sector implicitly and explicitly promotes this for it’s own benefit, via corporate lobbying and huge political donations to both Democratic and Republican candidates.

But if any administration has deserved to be held accountable, it is this one.

The Bush administration started a war of choice in Iraq due to dubious intelligence and poor reasoning at best, and at worst by outright lying to the American public and bullying its critics. Our resulting role as the aggressor and extreme mismanagement of the war has taken the lives of US and coalition soldiers, private contractors, and countless Iraqi civilians. It has cost us over $500 billion, greatly reduced out standing in the world, functioned as a prime recruiting device for terrorists across the globe, and arguably made the world a less safe place to be.

Where is your outrage?

And what about Osama Bin Laden? Why has this administration failed to bring the architect of 9/11 to justice? The fiasco in Iraq has distracted us from bringing in the man who brought down the twin towers.

Where is your outrage?

This administration, through its placement of woefully unqualified individuals in charge of FEMA, it’s failure to grasp prior warnings, and lack of a quick initial reaction, greatly bungled the federal government’s response to Hurricane Katrina’s devastation of the Gulf region.

Where is your outrage?

This administration’s misrepresentation of scientific data for its own agenda – its utter disregard for science – has delayed a proper US response to global warming. It has stymied stem-cell research, marginalized the position of Surgeon General, and may severely impact the recruitment of young people into the sciences for years to come.

Where is your outrage?

The administration was, at the very least, indirectly involved in the outing of a CIA agent, an act that when done knowingly is a criminal violation of the Intelligence Identities Protection Act. The one bit of accountability that emerged from this scandal – the conviction and sentencing of Scooter Libby for lying to prosecutors – was muted after the president commuted his sentence.

And the list goes on. Yet Speaker Pelosi and other prominent democrats have said that impeachment is “off the table.” Why? Because it’s a “waste of time?” Or does it have more to do with political inconvenience?

Holding those in power accountable for their actions is critical for maintaining a functioning democracy. It can be messy. It can be painful. But it must be done – to remind our elected officials that they ultimately answer to the American public, and not to powerful corporate interests, not to the demands of their own egos, and certainly not to a personal ideology based on a narrow perception of God.

The outrage is growing. A July 6th pole by the American Research Group indicates that 45 percent of Americans favor initiating impeachment proceedings against the president, and 54 percent favor impeaching the vice president. Congress could very well act on this, but it’s unlikely unless we demand this of our elected officials.

Where is your outrage?

Yesterday I published a funny post about the reasons NOT to impeach, but I think it is more important to look at all the reasons why congress SHOULD impeach Cheney and Bush.

Here is one person’s opinion:

King George W.: James Madison’s Nightmareby Robert Scheer[posted online on July 18, 2007]

George W. Bush is the imperial president that James Madison and other founders of this great republic warned us about. He lied the nation into precisely the “foreign entanglements” that George Washington feared would destroy the experiment in representative government, and he has championed a spurious notion of security over individual liberty, thus eschewing the alarms of Thomas Jefferson as to the deprivation of the inalienable rights of free citizens. But most important, he has used the sledgehammer of war to obliterate the separation of powers that James Madison enshrined in the US Constitution.

With the “war on terror,” Bush has asserted the right of the president to wage war anywhere and for any length of time, at his whim, because the “terrorists” will always provide a convenient shadowy target.  Just the “continual warfare” that Madison warned of in justifying the primary role of Congress in initiating and continuing to finance a war–the very issue now at stake in Bush’s battle with Congress.

In his Political Observations, written years before he served as fourth president of the United States, Madison went on to underscore the dangers of an imperial presidency bloated by war fever. “In war,” Madison wrote in 1795, at a time when the young republic still faced its share of dangerous enemies, “the discretionary power of the Executive is extended … and all the means of seducing the minds are added to those of subduing the force, of the people.”

How remarkably prescient of Madison to anticipate the specter of our current King George imperiously undermining Congress’ attempts to end the Iraq war. When the prime author of the US Constitution explained why that document grants Congress–not the president–the exclusive power to declare and fund wars, Madison wrote, “A delegation of such powers [to the president] would have struck, not only at the fabric of our Constitution, but at the foundation of all well organized and well checked governments.”

Because “[n]o nation could preserve its freedom in the midst of continual warfare,” Madison urged that the constitutional separation of powers he had codified be respected. “The Constitution expressly and exclusively vests in the Legislature the power of declaring a state of war…the power of raising armies,” he wrote. “The separation of the power of raising armies from the power of commanding them is intended to prevent the raising of armies for the sake of commanding them.”

That last sentence perfectly describes the threat of what President Dwight Eisenhower, 165 years later, would describe as the “military-industrial complex,” a permanent war economy feeding off a permanent state of insecurity. The collapse of the Soviet Union deprived the military profiteers and their handsomely rewarded cheerleaders in the government of a raison d’être for the massive war economy supposedly created in response to it. Fortunately for them, Bush found in the 9/11 attack an excuse to make war even more profitable and longer lasting. The Iraq war, which the president’s
9/11 Commission concluded never had anything to do with the terrorist
assault, nonetheless has transferred many hundreds of billions in taxpayer dollars into the military economy. And when Congress seeks to exercise its power to control the budget, this president asserts that this will not govern his conduct of the war.

There never was a congressional declaration of war to cover the invasion of Iraq. Instead, President Bush acted under his claimed power as commander in chief, which the Supreme Court has held does allow him to respond to a “state of war” against the United States. That proviso was clearly a reference to surprise attacks or sudden emergencies.

The problem is that the “state of war” in question here was an Al-Qaida attack on the US that had nothing whatsoever to do with Saddam Hussein’s Iraq. Perhaps to spare Congress the embarrassment of formally declaring war against a nation that had not attacked America, Bush settled for a loosely worded resolution supporting his use of military power if Iraq failed to comply with UN mandates. This was justified by the White House as a means of strengthening the United Nations in holding Iraq accountable for its WMD arsenal, but as most of the world looked on in dismay, Bush invaded Iraq after U.N. inspectors on the ground discovered that Iraq had no WMD.

Bush betrayed Congress, which in turn betrayed the American people–just
as Madison feared when he wrote: “Of all the enemies to public liberty war is, perhaps, the most to be dreaded, because it compromises and develops the germ of every other.”

 

Mad Magazine– Reasons Not to Impeach & Convict President Bush


mad magazine Reasons Not to Impeach & Convict President Bush

  • It won’t bring Anna Nicole back to life, so why bother?
  • Chuck Norris is a loyal Bush supporter, and we all know what happens when Chuck Norris gets angry.
  • Because “President Cheney” is one of the signs of the apocalypse.
  • The only basis for impeachment is found in the Constitution, which was invalidated in 2002.
  • Impeachment hearings could preempt the reality shows America loves so much.
  • If Bush is removed, Air America hosts will lose their #1 topic, and the whole network will become irrelevant.
  • Hey, lay off the guy! Unless you’re poor, black, elderly, gay, female, middle class, or a veteran, what’s he ever done to you?
  • The last time we impeached a President, his poll number actually went up and his wife was elected to the Senate. Is that something we really want to see happen with this crowd?
  • An impeachment would be extremely divisive — and America must stand united, especially during times of illegal wars based on lies.
  • He did not allow Sanjaya to win American Idol under his watch.
  • If he’s impeached, the terrorists win— or haven’t you been paying attention for the last six years?

(Thanks to Blue Dragon & his mom for sending it to me.)

Congratulations to Harry Reid and the democratic senators for finally standing up to the republicans.  Enjoy your pajama party!

Senate debating all night on Iraq


WASHINGTON
– Democrats steered the Senate into an attention-grabbing, all-night
session to dramatize opposition to the Iraq war but conceded they were
unlikely to gain the votes needed to advance troop withdrawal
legislation blocked by Republicans.

I had to read this one three times and ask my Army Sgt brother a bunch of questions before I really understood that this is NOT a good thing. Go read the whole article and then come back and I will show you what it really means.

Army orders 5,000 reservists to health ‘muster’

By Lisa Burgess, Stars and Stripes
Mideast edition, Saturday, June 30, 2007

ARLINGTON, Va. — The Army is ordering 5,000 members of the Individual Ready Reserve to spend a day this summer at one of four U.S. reserve centers to update personal paperwork and take a medical and dental exam.

The one-day “muster” is a test of the Army’s recent efforts to straighten out the IRR system, which comprises about 78,000 soldiers who have left active duty or active Reserve service but still have time left on their contract, officials said.

The minimum military service obligation for enlisted personnel is eight years. Officers serve until they resign their commission.

The muster is a “test run” for a much larger project: bringing every member of the IRR in for a similar one-day program to ensure that the Army has up-to-date records on its members, Gall said in a telephone interview with Stars and Stripes Thursday.

This has nothing to do with records. They can get records on the phone or by mail or email. In fact, they have to have some of the records just to get the people to show up.

“The IRR pool is not in the kind of shape we would like it to be,” Gall said. “We’re trying to assure [ourselves] that we do have soldiers that are ready and willing to serve the country.”

The pilot muster, Gall said, “is the first step in trying to bring the program back in line to where to should have been” in the first place.

The Army allowed its IRR system to go fallow after its last major call-up of the reservists during the Gulf War.

Army regulations call for IRR members to update their records yearly, but many IRR members allowed that obligation to slide, to the point where “we probably haven’t heard from a preponderance of them over the years,” Gall said.

Why do you suppose the reservists let it slide?

The cracks in the IRR system were exposed after January 2004, when Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld authorized the Army to tap the IRR to fill out units bound for Iraq.

The call-up has not been smooth sailing, Gall said.

“We have a call rate of four to one,” Gull said.

“That means if [commanders in Iraq] say they need 100 soldiers, we have to send 400 notifications out,” he said.

“That told us we had some problems,” Gull said.

The pilot muster will begin in mid-July and run through August.

IRR members who are ordered to report for this summer’s pilot program will go to one of four Reserve centers: Tacoma, Wash.; Fort Totten, N.Y.; Fort Meade, Md.; or Los Alamitos, Calif.

Do the reservists get to choose the day? What if they are not in the country?

The reservists will be paid $176 after they complete
the one-day process, which includes a medical checkup and dental X-rays, but no treatment for any problems that are diagnosed, Gall said.

The overall IRR muster will take six years, with funds for the project earmarked in the Army’s early budget plans through 2013, Gall said.

Is that for the people who are already in IRR or the ones who will be leaving active duty over the next six years?

I am not surprised that the Bush administration doesn’t care about the troops working in the heat. They don’t care about them at all. They’re sending some soldiers and marines for their fifth deployment. Here are a few examples from today’s news about how they are hurting the troops.

Iraqi Politicians Take August Off As US Soldiers Fight On

from the Huffington Post

WASHINGTON — The White House on Friday appeared resigned to the fact that the Iraqi parliament is going to take August off, even though it has just eight weeks to show progress on military, political and economic benchmarks prescribed by the United States.

“My understanding is at this juncture they’re going to take August off, but, you know, they may change their minds,” White House press secretary Tony Snow said.

“You know, it’s 130 degrees in Baghdad in August,” he said, sympathetically.

Snow was reminded that U.S. troops will be continuing to fight throughout August in the heat.

“You know, that’s a good point,” Snow said. “And it’s 130 degrees for the Iraqi military.”

Last month, the Iraqi parliament decided to cancel at least the first month of a two-month summer vacation supposed to start on July 1, in order to take up legislation, including a new law governing the oil industry, on which the United States has been pressing for approval.

The White House and other top officials previously had worked to persuade the parliament to remain at work, saying it would send a bad signal if the Iraqi lawmakers went on vacation while U.S. troops were fighting and dying.

Snow said that a scheduled Sept. 15 progress report on by Gen. David Petraeus was important, yet said he also said that was not a deadline. He said progress can be made even if the parliament is not in session.

“You’re assuming that nothing is going on,” Snow said.

“Let’s also see what happens because quite often when parliaments do not meet, they are also continuing meetings on the side. And there will be progress, I’m sure on a number of fronts,” the spokesman said.

The Iraqi parliament’s vacation plans have been repeatedly criticized by U.S. lawmakers. But the U.S. Congress will be on vacation from Aug. 3 to Sept. 4, if it sticks to current plans.

The Congress itself has been criticized for how little it works.

On Thursday, the White House gave Congress a progress report that showed the Iraqi government was making unsatisfactory progress on many political and military milestones. At a news conference, President Bush defended the buildup of U.S. troops as well as his decisions on troop numbers earlier in the conflict.

Bush said that when he asked Gen. Tommy Franks, the Central Command chief during the initial invasion in March 2003, whether he had enough troops, Franks told him he did. Bush said he recalled sitting in a meeting downstairs at the White House asking each commander responsible for different aspects of the operations that led to toppling Saddam Hussein.

“I said to each one of them `Do you have what it takes? Are you satisfied with the strategy?’ And the answer was `Yes,'” Bush said.

Asked whether Bush was trying to blame Franks for the bad course of the war, Snow rose to defend Franks and said historians would have to judge the correctness of U.S. strategic military decisions.

“I think General Franks did a superb job,” Snow said.

I hope something comes of this story:

Reservist Tries to Stop 5th Deployment

BRIAN SKOLOFF

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — Army Reserve Sgt. Erik Botta has been sent to Iraq three times and to Afghanistan once. He thinks that’s enough.

Botta wants a court to block the military’s plan to deploy him for a fifth time Sunday, most likely to Iraq. He isn’t against the war _ but he thinks he can serve his country better now by working for a defense contractor and pursuing his education.

“This has nothing to do with protest of the war … I have nothing but respect for the people on the ground,” Botta said Friday, one day after he filed his petition in U.S. District Court in West Palm Beach. “But I feel I do need a fair decision and a fair review.”

Botta, 26, of Port St. Lucie, contends in his petition that the Army’s refusal to exempt him from deployment “constitutes unlawful custody.” Botta argues the Army did not consider the length and nature of his previous tours “to assure a sharing of exposure to the hazards of combat.”

He was granted an initial exemption last year, allowing him to pursue an electrical engineering degree at Palm Beach Community College and work as a senior technician on Blackhawk and Seahawk helicopters at Sikorsky Aircraft Corp. But now his exemption has been denied.

Botta said he was shocked when he received notice of his latest deployment orders.

“My heart sank through the floor,” he said. “I’ve sacrificed all my time into this new life I have now.”

Botta enlisted in the Army Reserves in October 2000. After the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks, he requested transfer to active duty, which was granted the next month, according to the petition.

Botta was deployed to Afghanistan for about seven months in 2002. He then had three deployments to Iraq _ about a month in 2003, three months in 2004 and 15 days later that year.

Army spokeswoman Maj. Cheryl Phillips noted that Army Reserve units deploy for 12 consecutive months, and that Botta had only accumulated about 10 nonconsecutive months of deployment. She also noted that Botta was under an eight-year service contract.

“The Army leadership acknowledges the hardships and sacrifices of our soldiers and their families and is aggressively pursuing means to lessen their strain,” Phillips wrote in an e-mail Friday. “We evaluate each request for deferment or exemption from mobilization independently to determine if a deployment will cause undue hardship for the soldier or the family.”

She said that out of 649 deployment delays requested by soldiers since the start of the Afghan war in 2001, the Army has granted 561 or 87 percent. Of the 5,708 exemptions that have been requested, 2,983 or 54 percent have been granted.

Botta’s previous deployments in Iraq were as a communications specialist with the 3rd Battalion, 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment and were shorter than most tours because they were “emergency deployments,” said his attorney, Mark Waple.

After his release from active duty on Oct. 30, 2004, Botta has not been required to participate in any training, he said.

Botta now wants a federal judge to stop his deployment. If a resolution is not reached, he said he will follow orders and deploy Sunday to Fort Jackson near Columbia, S.C.

Waple said the Army’s decision to redeploy Botta and to deny his request for exemption is arbitrary and goes against actions in similar cases where academic exemptions were granted.

“We’re just concerned that they’re granting these exemptions in some cases and denying them in others without any real meaningful methodology in making that decision,” Waple said.

Waple also noted that Congress requires the Defense Department to “take into consideration the reservist’s prior military service to be certain that there is uniform exposure among reservists to the hazards of combat and the Department of the Army has failed to do that in Sgt. Botta’s case.”

There was no immediate word as to when the court would take up the case.

But there is some good news:

New GOP bill challenges Bush Iraq policy

WASHINGTON – Two top Republicans cast aside President Bush’s pleas for patience on Iraq Friday and proposed legislation demanding a new strategy by mid-October to restrict the mission of U.S. troops.

Lady Bird Johnson in the wildflowers

LADY BIRD JOHNSON — 1912-2007

Former first lady and conservationist.

tanksIt is very wrong for the Pentagon to operate this way. It is wrong to the soldiers that work for them and to their families. Who is making a profit from this?

Pentagon criticized for armor contracts

By RICHARD LARDNERandANNE FLAHERTY

The Defense Department put U.S. troops in Iraq at risk by awarding contracts for badly needed armored vehicles to companies that failed to deliver them on time, according to a review by the Pentagon’s inspector general.

The June 27 report, obtained Wednesday by The Associated Press, examined 15 contracts worth $2.2 billion awarded since 2000 to Force Protection Inc. and Armor Holdings Inc.

The contracts were issued without the normal competition for government work because the military determined these companies were the only ones capable of supplying the vehicles fast enough to meet the demands of deployed troops.

Yet the inspector general’s report concluded otherwise.

Overall, Force Protection of Ladson, S.C., received 11 contracts from the Army and Marine Corps worth $417 million for a variety of vehicles, including its Buffalo and Cougar mine-resistant trucks.

Force Protection failed to meet all delivery schedules, according to the report, and acquisition officials knew there were other manufacturers that might have supplied some of the vehicles in a more timely fashion. The report does not provide the names of those possible alternative sources.

Mike Aldrich, a Force Protection vice president, acknowledged the delays and said the problems were caused by an inability to get essential manufacturing materials.

The company’s production and delivery schedules have improved greatly in recent months, Aldrich added, noting that 100 of the Buffalo vehicles have been delivered.

“Government reports are largely written by lawyers and look intimidating when you pick them up,” Aldrich said. “But our vehicles perform well in theater and have saved the lives of troops.”

The inspector general’s report agreed that Force Protection’s vehicles have been of substantial value since they arrived.

The report, not yet publicly released, also criticizes the Army’s award of a $266 million contract for crew protection kits to Simula Aerospace and Defense Group, a subsidiary of Armor Holdings of Jacksonville, Fla.

Simula lacked the internal controls necessary to ensure delivery of the kits, which were needed to make military vehicles less vulnerable to roadside bombs and small-arms fire, according to the report.

The Army received kits “with missing and unusable components, which increased installation time and required additional reinspection of kits,” according to the report.

In describing the scope of the problem, the report said that some of the Simula kits delivered to the troops had two left doors, were missing side plates and contained brackets that needed re-welding.

Overall, the problems “resulted in increased risk to the lives of soldiers,” the report states.

Armor Holdings received three other contracts worth $1.5 billion for armored Humvees and armor kits to strengthen older-model vehicles.

Spokesman Michael Fox said the company had not seen the report and had no immediate comment.

The review was requested by Rep. Louise Slaughter, D-N.Y., in April 2006, after she learned the Pentagon was relying on just a few small companies to supply bomb-resistant vehicles to troops in Iraq.

With improvised explosive devices accounting for the majority of combat deaths and injuries, Slaughter said that strategy needed to be examined.

“It’s been business as usual,” Slaughter said Wednesday after reviewing the report. “The lives of our soldiers took a back seat to who got the contracts.”

Slaughter said the report raises more questions than answers and that she wants to know if the awards were the result of “influence peddling or insider connections.”

In written comments to the inspector general, the Marine Corps defended its acquisition decisions for the vehicles.

The armored vehicle contracts “were executed within the law, spirit and intent of the current acquisition rules and regulations,” according the comments.

In separate written comments, the Army did not object to the report’s findings.

No NiggerWhen I was in 8th grade, I had the coolest social studies teacher ever. We were always acting things out, holding mock trials and having debates in class, and it really made a difference in what we learned.

Today, the NAACP did something in Detroit that made a difference. They had a mock funeral for the word “nigger”. They used a coffin, but people were cheering instead of crying. According to the AP,

Delegates from across the country marched from downtown Detroit’s Cobo Center to Hart Plaza. Two Percheron horses pulled a pine box adorned with a bouquet of fake black roses and a black ribbon printed with a derivation of the word.

The coffin is to be placed at historically black Detroit Memorial Park Cemetery and will have a headstone.

One of the speakers was Detroit’s Mayor:

“Today we’re not just burying the N-word, we’re taking it out of our spirit,” said Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick. “We gather burying all the things that go with the N-word. We have to bury the ‘pimps’ and the ‘hos’ that go with it.”

He continued: “Die N-word, and we don’t want to see you ’round here no more.”

They even had a preacher giving a eulogy:

The Rev. Wendell Anthony, pastor of Detroit’s Fellowship Chapel and member of the NAACP national board of directors, said the efforts were not an attack on young people or hip-hop.

He said they were a commentary on the culture the genre has produced.

“We’re not thugs. We’re not gangstas,” Anthony told the crowd. “All of us has been guilty of this word. It’s upon all of us to now kill this word.”

So, if you could have a funeral for a word or for an idea, what would you bury? Please leave a comment

live turkeyWhy isn’t this story being publicized everywhere? And do we really need even more reasons to start eating vegetarian?

Avian flu at Va. farm prompts more testing

More than 50,000 turkeys on a farm west of Mount Jackson tested positive for avian flu antibodies, prompting additional testing and surveillance at area poultry farms, officials said.

The infected birds will be killed and composted on site, said Hobey Bauhan, president of the Virginia Poultry Federation.

To prevent spread of the virus, more testing and surveillance will be conducted within a six-mile radius of the farm and at the more than 1,000 poultry farms in the Shenandoah Valley, Bauhan said.

The turkeys, which were ready to be sent to the slaughterhouse, tested positive during a routine pre-slaughter test by the Virginia
Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services on Friday, Bauhan said.

Avian flu spreads when infected birds transmit the virus through saliva, nasal secretions and feces, and other birds have contact with contaminated secretions or excretions, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

“This strain doesn’t have any effect on people and it produces only mild symptoms, if any, in birds,” he said.

Although the subtype of avian flu found in the turkeys poses no risk to human health, federal and state officials are concerned
that the strain can change into a more pathogenic form that causes higher mortality in birds.

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