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October 16-31, 2004

October 31, 2004     Samhain

Many killed as violence surges in Iraq

Report on unguarded weapons 'ignored'
"A human rights group disclosed yesterday that it had told US forces of unguarded weapons in an Iraqi military college without anything being done. Peter Bouckaert, head of the New York-based Human Rights Watch, said he told American officials about rooms "stacked to the roof" at Baquba, north-east of Baghdad, with surface-to-surface missiles on 9 May 2003. But the weapons still had not been secured 10 days later, and were being looted daily."

GIs Lack Armor, Radios, Bullets
"The Department of Defense denied a 60 Minutes request for an on-camera interview to explain the situation. But responding to a written question about vehicles traveling dangerous routes in Iraq being armored with plywood and sandbags, the Army told us, 'As long as the Army has a single vehicle without armor, we expect that our soldiers will continue to find ways to increase their level of protection.'"

Credibility Gap: US & EU English of Osama Bin Laden Message
Three Translations of the Recent Bin Laden Video

Pentagon fires 3 Guantanamo tribunal officers
"Three of six US military officers presiding over the Guantanamo prisoner tribunal have been fired for partiality, the Pentagon announced."

Are we insane? Voting without auditing?
Recent News from Bev Harris of BlackBoxVoting.Org

October 30, 2004

Major assault heralded as US artillery pounds Falluja

9 Marines among 31 Killed in Iraq

US forces take major losses across Iraq

Street battles rage in Samarra

U.S. Extends Iraq Tours for 6,500 Troops
"The Army has extended by two months the Iraq tours of about 6,500 soldiers, citing a need for experienced troops through the Iraqi elections scheduled for late January. About 3,500 soldiers of the 2nd Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division, and 3,000 from the 1st Infantry Division headquarters will remain in Iraq two months longer than planned, Bryan Whitman, a Pentagon spokesman, said Saturday."

DoD Announces Deployment Adjustments for Units in Iraq

The Explosives Depot was Looted a Year Ago

Canada study sees risk in U.S. anti-terrorism law
"A key U.S. anti-terrorism law threatens the privacy of Canadians and rigorous steps are needed to protect private medical and financial information, a government study said Friday. Current safeguards are not sufficient to prevent the FBI from using the USA Patriot Act to force U.S. firms and their foreign subsidiaries to turn over private data even if doing so violates Canadian law, the province of British Columbia's privacy commissioner said."

Homeland Intelligence Chief Hughes Warned Civil Rights Would Have to Be 'Abridged' to Prevent Another Terror Attack
(transcript of presentation in .pdf format)

Whistleblower Says Halliburton Contract Abuse Blatant
"The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' top contracting official on Friday called the government's grant of multi-billion dollar contracts to oil services giant Halliburton the worst case of contracting abuse she has ever seen."

Bush Seeks Limit to Suits Over Voting Rights
"Bush administration lawyers argued in three closely contested states last week that only the Justice Department, and not voters themselves, may sue to enforce the voting rights set out in the Help America Vote Act, which was passed in the aftermath of the disputed 2000 election."

US government owns you and your smoke
"For years, more precisely since 8 July 1963, Cuban cigars have been a banned pleasure for U.S. citizens but at least when abroad they could legally indulge. Earlier this month the department's Office of Foreign Assets Control has announced that Americans are barred from not only purchasing Cuban goods in foreign countries, but also from consuming them in those countries."

October 28, 2004

Household Survey Sees 100,000 Iraqi Deaths
"A survey of deaths in Iraqi households estimates that as many as 100,000 more people may have died throughout the country in the 18 months since the U.S.-led invasion than would be expected based on the death rate before the war. There is no official figure for the number of Iraqis killed since the conflict began, but some non-governmental estimates range from 10,000 to 30,000.
'This isn't about individual soldiers doing bad things. This appears to be a problem with the approach to occupation in Iraq,' Roberts said"

US soldiers kill Iraqis in Ramadi clashes
"Iraqi journalist Mahmud Abd Allah told Aljazeera US forces were engaged in weapons search operations in different neighbourhoods in Ramadi city. 'The forces have called on citizens through loudspeakers to stay in their homes, threatening to arrest or open fire at any one who violates the instructions,' he added."

Report: Video Shows Explosives Went Missing After War

FBI Investigating Halliburton Contracts
"FBI agents this week sought permission to interview Bunnatine Greenhouse, the Army Corps of Engineers' chief contracting officer who went public last weekend with allegations that her agency unfairly awarded a Halliburton subsidiary no-bid contracts worth billions of dollars in Iraq, according to documents obtained by The Associated Press. Asked about the documents, Greenhouse's lawyers said Thursday their client will cooperate but that she wants whistleblower protection from Pentagon retaliation."

Weapon Boston Police Used To Kill Victoria Snelgrove
"The weapon is the FN303 made by the Virginia based FN Herstal. Have a look at the weapon police forces have been considering using to control street protestors and unauthorized celebrants:

It is not surprising that the weapon is capable of killing. Unlike paintball guns, to which it has wrongly been analogized in news articles, the FN Herstal website notes that 'The primary effect is trauma: the shock (15J/cm³) directly neutralizes the aggressor. Secondary effects will be delivered by a chemical payload chosen according to the mission requirements'. The trauma is achieved by virtue of the fact that the forward part of the projectile is small particles of bismuth (a metal), in essence, tiny shot."

Cameras to Keep Watch in Hollywood
"In a new step for crime fighting in Los Angeles, the Police Department plans to start installing surveillance cameras on city streets, beginning with Hollywood Boulevard. Five video cameras will train their electronic eyes on one of the world's most famous - and infamous - streets as early as January. And if all goes according to plan, there eventually will be 64 cameras on Hollywood, Santa Monica and Sunset boulevards and Western Avenue."

Homeland Security Agents Visit Toy Store
Alright! Who dropped a dime on the Toy Lady?!

October 27, 2004

Military Assault in Falluja Is Likely, U.S. Officers Say
"Senior officers say they are mindful that an attack on Falluja and Ramadi could set off uprisings in other Sunni towns and possibly in Sadr City, an impoverished Shiite area of Baghdad that exploded in violence during the revolts in April. But military officers say they are planning for such contingencies."
In interviews at this dusty desert headquarters three miles east of Falluja and at other military headquarters in Iraq, commanders sketched out a broad outline for how the offensive would probably unfold. They declined to discuss specific troop numbers, tactics and important political and military decision points to protect operational security. But thousands of marines and soldiers, joined by thousands of newly trained and equipped Iraqi soldiers, police officers and commandos, would attack Falluja from multiple directions, unleashing direct tank, artillery and mortar fire against insurgent positions that had been weakened by allied airstrikes and internecine fighting in recent weeks.
In the battle of Samarra last month, 3,000 American troops and 2,000 Iraqis fought roughly 500 insurgents. Officers estimated that perhaps three to four times that number of hard-core insurgents are in Falluja, meaning that an American-Iraqi force much larger than 5,000 troops is likely to be massed.

As in allied operations in Najaf and Samarra, Iraqi forces would be relied on to clear and secure mosques and other culturally sensitive targets, with marines and soldiers providing backup. 'We'll match capabilities with the mission to have an appropriate blend' of Iraqi and American forces, said Col. John Coleman, the First Marine Expeditionary Force chief of staff.

Allied warplanes including Navy FA-18's and Air Force F-16's and F-15E's would conduct air strikes against insurgent safe houses, weapons caches and other leadership targets that have been carefully analyzed for possible damage to civilian infrastructure.

The bombing would be an intensified version of the nearly nightly strikes the Americans have conducted in Falluja for the past two months but would not be a huge barrage, the commanders say.

The weapons of choice have been laser-guided and satellite-guided 500-pound bombs, which are considered better able to limit the risk of civilian casualties than 1,000-pound and 2,000-pound bombs."

First U.S. Unit at Iraq Site Did Not Hunt Explosives
"The first U.S. military unit to reach the site in Iraq where U.N. officials say 377 tons of high explosives are missing did not carry out a hunt for such material, the unit's commander said on Wednesday."

From Prof. Juan Cole's Informed Comment regarding the explosives missing in Iraq:
Iraqi Officials Deny Early Disappearance of Explosives
Brown: 2004 Bremer Report on al-Qaqaa Looting
Deadly Dual Use Explosives Missing: Part Deux

Marijuana Arrests Set New Record
"The FBI reported today that there were an all-time record 755,186 arrests for marijuana in 2003 -- vastly exceeding the 597,026 arrests for all violent crimes combined. As in past years, the vast majority-88 percent-of marijuana arrests were for simple possession, not sale or manufacture."

October 26, 2004

US aircraft strike Falluja

U.S. Troops Build Up Around Iraqi Rebel City
"U.S. troops reinforced positions around Falluja after an overnight air strike on Tuesday and sealed main roads out of the rebel-held city."

Anger as explosives vanish at Iraq depot
"Iraq's ministry of science and technology told the agency on 10 October that about 380 tons of explosives had gone missing from the former Al-Qaqaa facility south of Baghdad, said Melissa Fleming, the IAEA spokeswoman."

Iraq transfers war crimes?
"The Fourth Geneva Convention protects all persons who find themselves in an occupied country, provided they are not citizens of the occupying power. The convention prohibits the forced transfer or deportation of individuals or groups from occupied territory to the occupying power or any other country, regardless of the reason. Some transfers within the country are allowed, if the security of the population or military reasons "so demand," but they may not be removed from the occupied country except "when for material reasons it is impossible to avoid such displacement," the convention states. Anyone moved within the occupied territory must be registered immediately with the International Committee of the Red Cross, according to Harvard international law professor Detlev Vagts, a former military judge advocate general."

Shells point to police in guardsmen slayings
"Two weeks before the massacre of almost 50 Iraqi national guard recruits on Saturday, 17 national guardsmen were shot execution-style at their base near the Syrian border, apparently with the aid of Iraqi police, U.S. officials said."

Thai protesters die in custody
"At least 78 people died in southern Thailand after being arrested and loaded into army trucks following Monday's clashes with security forces."

US gave date of war to Britain in advance, court papers reveal
"Lt Col Warren said US planners had passed on dates for which the invasion was planned. The hearing was told Army chiefs wanted the training for the Army to start at the beginning of December 2002."

White House Website Scrubbing Continues!
"After reviewing scores of pages of White House transcribed Press Conferences by George Bush, it seems that the removal of certain audio and video clips has perhaps been strategically or systematically orchestrated. Here's a few examples of some of the pages that have had their linked Audio and/or Video clips removed, along with some of the notable Bush quotes -- that "notability" is mere conjecture on my part -- from their transcripts that perhaps the White House would prefer not be easily available to folks anymore..."

Shock Jock Stern Crosses Swords with FCC's Powell
"Radio shock jock Howard Stern, who is moving to satellite radio to avoid broadcast decency rules, traded verbal jabs on air with Federal Communications Commission Chairman Michael Powell on Tuesday, charging him with nepotism and undermining free speech."
"Mark Silverman, the producer of Ronn Owens' show on which the two appeared, said Powell was caught by surprise and appeared to be tense, and his staff was angry."

More police connected to border slayings
"The top federal special prosecutor in the case of the decade-long series of women's slayings in the border city of Ciudad Juarez said in a second report that criminal investigations should be brought against 51 additional local law enforcement officials, bringing the total to 100. Maria Lopez Urbina's report, released Monday in Mexico City, was part of an ongoing investigation into the role local and state police in the state of Chihuahua have played in the slayings and in the botched investigations of the slayings."

October 22, 2004

US, Iraqi forces storm Mosul mosque
"The mosque imam, Shaikh Rayan Tawfiq, said earlier that US and Iraqi forces had broken into the compound of the mosque in eastern Mosul to arrest unidentified suspects. Worshippers attending Friday prayers resisted at first without weapons when the soldiers tried to enter the mosque, he said. But then US troops triggered an uproar when they entered the women's section of the mosque. 'I did my best to calm the people, but we don't want any Americans or any security organisation to go into the mosque under the pretext of arresting people,' Tawfiq said before the firefight began."

Black Watch ordered to join US cordon for assault on Fallujah
"The role assigned to the Black Watch will also cause anxiety that British troops are being more closely associated than expected with the forthcoming assault on Fallujah. The Defence Secretary indicated on Monday that they would be relieving an existing US unit, but military sources said last night that was not the case. "The Americans are throwing a ring of steel around Fallujah, and are sending in Iraqi forces to do the close fighting. The British and American forces will be in an outer ring of steel," a military source said. 'The Black Watch will protect an approach route to the city. They are not replacing an existing American force.'"

Muslim scholars arrested in Iraq
"US forces in Iraq have arrested a number of members of the Association of Muslim Scholars (AMS) in Iraq after their participation in a conference calling for boycotting Iraqi elections."

U.S., Iraqi Forces Detain Sunni Muslim Cleric
"U.S. and Iraqi forces detained a leading member of the Muslim Clerics' Association on Friday in what the influential Sunni group described as a campaign against opponents of the U.S. presence in Iraq."

Boston Fan Death May Prompt Alcohol Ban
"Emerson College student Victoria Snelgrove, 21, died Thursday, hours after being hit in the eye with what was designed to be a non-lethal projectile that would douse the target with a pepper-like spray. Her father expressed outrage at the city's response to her death. Witnesses said Snelgrove was standing outside the ballpark when a reveler threw a bottle at a mounted police officer. Another officer fired the plastic, pepper-spray filled balls into the crowd, hitting Snelgrove."
"Menino said that to avoid a repeat of the rowdiness in his city, he was considering imposing the alcohol-sales ban through a state law never before used in Boston. The law lets him ban sale or distribution of alcohol 'in cases of riot or great public excitement'."
Perhaps a ban on indiscriminate fire into crowds would address the actual problem here...

October 21, 2004

Several killed in US attack on Falluja

UK troops to redeploy around Baghdad

Black Watch Prepares to Enter Iraq Danger Zone
"Hundreds of British soldiers are preparing today to move to central Iraq to support US troops. An 850-strong group from the Black Watch will be deployed to the area south west of Baghdad after the Government agreed to a request from the US. Defence Secretary Geoff Hoon said the move would release US forces to step up their operations against terrorists in the run-up to elections planned in January. Mr Hoon said the deployment would start within weeks. Although the Americans have 130,000 troops of their own in the country, Mr Hoon said they did not have any units available with the necessary training and experience."

Sen.: DOD exaggerated al-Qaida-Iraq connection
"The Levin report suggests the link between 9/11 and Iraq -- disavowed by the president in January 2003 -- was in fact championed by Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Douglas Feith. In October 2001, Feith created a cell within his department to assess intelligence reports in light of the new 'war on terror' declared by the president."

Female soldiers eyed for combat
"The Army is negotiating with civilian leaders about eliminating a women-in-combat ban so it can place mixed-sex support companies within warfighting units, starting with a division going to Iraq in January."

Bush Backers Steadfast on Saddam-Al-Qaeda, WMD
"Three out of four self-described supporters of George W Bush still believe pre-war Iraq had weapons of mass destruction (WMD) or active programmes to produce them, and that Iraqi President Saddam Hussein gave "substantial support" to al-Qaeda terrorists, according to a survey released Thursday."

Civil liberties trio says theirs were denied
"Tong, 34, and two other local women were escorted out of President George Bush’s rally in Central Point Thursday because they wore T-shirts that stated, 'Protect our civil liberties'."
Bryan Platt, chairman of the Jackson County Republican Central Committee, said he didn’t personally witness the incident at the fairgrounds, but stood 100 percent behind the person who made the security decision to exclude the women."

October 20, 2004

11 US Soldiers Wounded in Samarra - Car Bombs & Assassinations from Juan Cole

Military backs 'high risk' move
"The cabinet will risk the wrath of Labour's backbenches today by endorsing the dispatch of 650 Black Watch troops into a high-risk US-controlled area south of Baghdad. The troops will move north shortly, and will be replaced by Scots Guards now based in Cyprus. The decision means Britain will increase the number of troops it has in Iraq by 600, though the prime minister yesterday pledged the Black Watch troops would be home by Christmas. Britain's current military strength in Iraq is 8,500."

Secret report details plan to draft medics
"The Selective Service has been updating its contingency plans for a draft of doctors, nurses and other health care workers in case of a national emergency that overwhelmed the military's medical corps. In a confidential report this summer, a contractor hired by the agency described how such a draft might work, how to secure compliance and how to mold public opinion and communicate with health care professionals, whose lives could be disrupted."

The 9/11 Secret in the CIA's Back Pocket
"The Bush administration is suppressing a CIA report on 9/11 until after the election, and this one names names. Although the report by the inspector general's office of the CIA was completed in June, it has not been made available to the congressional intelligence committees that mandated the study almost two years ago."

Campaign 2004: Voter registration workers cry foul
"Sproul's role in voter registration drives this month triggered official investigations in several other states, with canvassers alleging they had been told to discard Democratic registration forms, leaving voters who thought they had registered off the rolls. The firm has a contract with the Republican National Committee to register new voters and has operated using the name Voters Outreach of America. Sproul's chairman, Nathan Sproul, is a former executive director of the Arizona Republican Party."

Hacker breaks into UC Berkeley computer with records of state residents
"EPIC has been working on reducing the collection of Social Security numbers, said Hoofnagle, and Bingham also noted how the breach underscores problems with that system, designed long before computers. 'Social Security numbers - when are we going to do away with these? You now have roughly 1.4 million people whose Social Security numbers have been compromised. This is your life ID number,' he said."

October 19, 2004

10 Dead, 109 Wounded another day in Iraq from Juan Cole

Fears grow Black Watch convoy will face ambush by militants
"Geoff Hoon, the Defence Secretary, is expected to confirm either today or tomorrow that a 1,000-strong battle group - with about 600 Black Watch troops at its core - will travel nearly 400 miles north to Iskandariya after defence chiefs have considered a report by a reconnaissance party which visited the area yesterday."

Police Break Up Belarus Opposition Rally
"Police wielding batons beat demonstrators. About 20 protesters were detained, witnesses said. A leading opposition leader Nikolai Lebedko, head of the United Civil Party, was among the detained. Lebedko had been badly hurt and would need medical treatment, an official from his party said. The extent of other protesters' injuries was unclear."

Chinese Journalists Test Limits of Press Freedom
"One was held on suspicion of leaking state secrets to foreigners. Another was accused of corruption, detained for five months and then released without charge. A third has eluded punishment after issuing a rare, bold tirade against a very senior official of the Communist Youth League who had sacked a colleague."

Pentagon Rewards Generals, Corporations Tied to Abu Ghraib Scandal
"Instead of reprimands or dismissals, one general tied to the torture and abuses at Abu Ghraib prison will probably receive a promotion and another has been recommended for a new command position. At the same time, both US corporations with direct ties to the abuse scandal have been rewarded with lucrative contracts valued in the hundreds of millions of dollars."

FCC Chair to Seek Net Telephone Oversight
"Chairman Michael Powell said Tuesday that he would seek broad regulatory authority for the federal government over Internet-based telephone services to avoid stifling the emerging market. Powell told a receptive audience at an industry conference that letting states regulate Voice over Internet Protocol,or VoIP, services would lead to a patchwork of conflicting rules like those which have ensnarled the traditional phone business for decades. To do so, Powell said, 'is to dumb down the Internet back to the limited vision of government officials. That would be a tragedy.'"

No Flu Vaccine Shortage at U.S. Capitol: Newspaper
"The Capitol's attending physician, John Eisold, urged all 535 lawmakers to get vaccinated, even if they are young and healthy, because their constant contact with the public puts them at high risk. Eisold 'is a big believer that members of Congress are at high risk, because they shake hands with a lot of people...'"
Now that's a diplomatic way of putting it!!

Probe: Intense Flames Sped WTC Collapse
"NIST investigators are preparing a report, to be released later this year, detailing how and why the towers collapsed after being struck by fuel-filled jetliners on Sept. 11, 2001."

Bisbee considers grandfathering 'herds'; residents are skeptical
"A proposed draft document that would grandfather in residents with livestock is being met with disdain by two residents, who have been cited by the city for having a herd of animals. A herd is defined by the city of Bisbee as having three or more animals of a particular species."
Sounds like something a 'herd' of humans would cook up!

October 18, 2004

15 Dead, 52 wounded in Iraq Violence

Fallujah's negotiator obeying insurgents
"People continued to stream out of the city, fearing the all-out invasion that Iraqi leaders have been threatening if the insurgents do not agree to hand over their heavy weapons and turn over foreigners who have been fighting on their side. Residents described the city, which ordinarily has a population of 250,000, as mostly deserted."

Families flee as US, rebels clash
"US forces and insurgents battled around Fallujah overnight, trading fire on the outskirts of the Iraqi rebel stronghold as US aircraft pounded the city."

Suspect vote lets Belarus leader keep power, opposition cries foul

Patriot Act redux?
"This time, politicians appear to have seized on what could be called the Patriot Act strategy, drafting antiterrorism legislation in secret and then ramming it through the Senate and House of Representatives with minimal debate. Then it's back to the home districts to boast how they protected voters from the bad guys. The vehicles chosen for this strategy are two bills described as being inspired by the 9/11 Commission's report, a politically potent text that's become a best-selling book. The Senate and House have approved their own versions of the legislation, and negotiators are now meeting privately to decide on the final draft."

Elections Chief in Fla. County Resigns

October 17, 2004

Battles rage around besieged Falluja

General Reported Shortages In Iraq
"The top U.S. commander in Iraq complained to the Pentagon last winter that his supply situation was so poor that it threatened Army troops' ability to fight, according to an official document that has surfaced only now."

U.S. dollars wooed ally in Iraq coalition
"But the record shows that early last year, the United States brought the full force of its powerful economy to bear on prospective military allies, offering more than $4 billion in an unsuccessful attempt to gain the allegiance of Turkey and helping to negotiate Poland's $3.5 billion purchase of 48 F-16 fighter planes from Bethesda-based Lockheed Martin Corp. The Polish deal also included more than $6 billion in U.S. business investment that Lockheed promised to channel into Poland, an economic 'offset' that caused Polish officials to call the purchase 'the deal of the century.'"

Tough Tactics Used Often at Guantanamo: NY Times
"Uncooperative Guantanamo Bay detainees were regularly subjected to highly abusive treatment over a long period of time, unidentified guards at the U.S. military base, intelligence agents and others who worked in the prison told The New York Times."

Iran: Journalist Detained in Internet Crackdown
"The arrest of journalist and internet writer Omid Memarian continues a disturbing crackdown on journalists and internet writers in Iran, Human Rights Watch said today. Memarian, a well-known figure in Iran’s nongovernmental organization community, has been detained without charge since his arrest on Sunday, Oct. 10."
"Shortly before his arrest, Memarian had tried to attend a conference on Iranian civil society in New York. He had obtained a U.S. visa, but in Frankfurt, U.S. authorities refused to allow him to board his flight, saying that he was on a 'no-fly' list but providing no other information. He was arrested a few days after his return to Tehran."

Police raze war veterans' farms as fresh land evictions rock Zimbabwe
"What happened at Trelawney shows how the government can keep a tight grip on power despite chaotic policies and deep internal divisions."

Worries Persist Over U.S. Electronic Voting

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