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Atlantic Free Press News

Tue

17

Apr

2007

Where Al-Qaeda Reigns
Tuesday, 17 April 2007 14:40
by Dahr Jamail

DAMASCUS, Apr 16 (IPS) - Refugees from Baquba city who have now found shelter in Damascus describe their hometown as a "dead city" where armed men roam the streets and al-Qaeda reigns.

Baquba, capital city of Iraq's Diyala province is located 50km northeast of Baghdad on the Diyala river. In 2002 the estimated population was 280,000. The city has been inhabited continuously since pre-Islamic times and is the trade centre for Iraq's commercial orange groves.

The city become a hot spot of resistance from early on in the occupation. It has been torn apart in fighting between occupation forces and the Iraqi resistance — and also between various militia groups and al-Qaeda, its fleeing residents say.

Al-Qaeda has emerged as a distinct new group, refugees from the city say.

By the end of 2006 the city was largely under the control of Sunni resistance groups, but by early 2007 residents report that al-Qaeda has formed a larger presence in the city.

As a result more than half the people in the city have fled, refugees say.

"Life in Baquba nowadays is unbearable," Aziz Abdulla, an unemployed university professor from Baquba who arrived in Damascus last week told IPS. "There is no security at all. Violence is increasing day after day because there is no control from the government and no real existence of coalition forces there. Terrorists and other fighters rule the city. Baquba is a city of terror."

Abdulla said that killing and kidnapping are rampant. "We have all become used to seeing dead bodies in the streets. I've seen too many. When we see them, nobody touches the body because if you do you are killed by gunmen. They watch for who touches the body, and kill that person right then or later."

No Western journalist dares go to Baquba.
 

Tue

17

Apr

2007

New Action on Africa’s Debt Needed at World Bank & IMF Meetings This Weekend
Tuesday, 17 April 2007 11:42
World Bank and IMF Gather For Spring Meetings; Africa Action Underscores the Illegitimacy of Africa’s Debt

As the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) prepare for their annual spring meetings, to be held at their headquarters in Washington, DC this weekend, Africa Action today stresses that an immediate priority of the international financial institutions must be the total cancellation of Africa’s debt, without economic conditions.  The organization further asserts that these wealthy international creditors have a long history of illegitimate and corrupt lending in Africa and that this fact must prompt the cancellation of the continent’s debts without further delay.

Nii Akuetteh, Executive Director of Africa Action, said today, “The effects of illegitimate lending, from which Africa’s people did not benefit, continue to reverberate throughout the continent.  As countries are made to deplete their budgets to repay their creditors, education and other vital social services are robbed of resources and this historical injustice takes a devastating human toll.”

Africa Action maintains that the policies of these international financial institutions continue to wreak havoc on the countries of the global South.  The organization pointed out that this reality is acute in Africa, where the outflow of massive debt payments has destabilized economies and undermined economic development.

While the role of the IMF in Africa and international debt figure on the agenda of the spring meetings this weekend, Africa Action notes that the case of Liberia and its need for debt cancellation is yet to be decided.  To date, the arrears still owed by Liberia have prevented that country from receiving multilateral cancellation.  Africa Action asserts that these old loans were made to repressive and non-representative rulers, in a clear illustration of illegitimate lending, and that Liberia’s new government should not have to repay such debts.

Ann-Louise Colgan, Director of Policy Analysis and Communications at Africa Action, said today, “The World Bank and IMF have failed to acknowledge their own history of tainted lending and faulty economic practices, in Liberia and elsewhere.  This has contributed directly to the unwillingness of the international financial institutions to comprehensively expand debt cancellation.  This biased approach, unless drastically altered, will continue to prop up an unjust international financial system, in which Africa’s development is held hostage by its foreign debt.”

Marie Clarke Brill, Director of Public Education and Mobilization at Africa Action, said today, “While the agenda of the spring meetings critically ignores the issue of illegitimate debt, the global movement to shine a spotlight on this issue grows at a rapid pace.  As efforts around the world ramp up to expose the failures of the international financial institutions, creditors will increasingly be held accountable for their destructive policies.”

Africa Action today released a new resource, the Africa Action Statement on Illegitimate Debt, underscoring the injustice of Africa’s debt burden and defining the organization’s position and demands.  This resource is available here: http://www.africaaction.org/newsroom/docs/IllegitimateDebt0407.pdf.

To demonstrate a key example of illegitimate lending, Africa Action recently released a resource entitled “Illegitimate Debt After Decades of Turmoil: The Case of Liberia.”  This document describes the unjust circumstances under which loans were made to Liberia and the ongoing consequences for economic and human development.  It is available here: http://www.africaaction.org/campaign_new/docs/LiberiaSpotlight.pdf.

Africa Action will co-sponsor an event entitled “Illegitimate Debt in DC and the DRC” on Saturday, April 14, 2007.  This screening and panel discussion will examine the links between corrupt local lending practices and illegitimacy in international financial relationships.  More details can be found here: http://www.africaaction.org/events/index.php.

For more analysis and information about Africa Action’s Campaign to Cancel Africa’s Debt, see http://www.africaaction.org/debt.
 

Thu

12

Apr

2007

Now the South Erupts - Iraq
Thursday, 12 April 2007 20:32
by Dahr Jamail and Ali al-Fadhily

BASRA, Apr 11 (IPS) - The eruption of demonstrations in the south of Iraq this week could rob the occupation forces of what was considered a critical bastion of support.

The southern areas of Iraq have long been said to be secure, and people there peaceful towards the occupation forces. Iraqis living in the south were also believed to be cooperative with the occupation to the extent that they supported administrative steps taken by successive Iraqi governments.

The majority of the population of the south are Shia Muslims, and Iraq has had Shia- dominated governments under the occupation.

But demonstrations against the occupation and the United States by hundreds of thousands of angry Shias in Najaf, Kut and other cities across the south Apr. 9 mark a sharp break from a policy of cooperation. Protesters demanded an end to the U.S.-led occupation, burnt U.S. flags and chanted "Death to America!"

Brig. Gen. Abdul Karim al-Mayahi, a police commander in Najaf, told reporters that at least half a million people joined the demonstration there.

Lt. Col. Christopher Garver, a U.S. military spokesman in Baghdad, told reporters, "We say that we're here to support democracy. We say that free speech and freedom of assembly are part of that. While we don't necessarily agree with the message, we agree with their right to say it."
 

Sat

07

Apr

2007

Freedom Fight Against 'Freedom Champions'
Saturday, 07 April 2007 14:09

by Dahr Jamail

DOHA, Apr 2 (IPS) - The al-Jazeera television network could be emerging as a freedom champion against U.S. pressures on the channel, leading media figures say.

"I support al-Jazeera because al-Jazeera has done more to propagate democracy in the Middle East region than anybody else, certainly more than the American government has done," media specialist Hugh Miles told IPS. "It's strange to me that people refer to al-Jazeera as a 'terrorist network' because that couldn't be further from the truth."

Miles spoke to IPS at the third annual al-Jazeera forum at Doha in Qatar Mar. 31 to Apr. 2. The forum highlighted the successful recent expansion of the network while also addressing difficulties that reporters face in the Middle East hot spots.

Miles, author of 'Al Jazeera: How Arab TV News Challenged the World' and an award- winning freelance journalist said former U.S. defence secretary Donald Rumsfeld had got it wrong on al-Jazeera.

 

Tue

27

Mar

2007

One Picture Sits Over Differing Surveys
Tuesday, 27 March 2007 14:01
by Ali al-Fadhily and Dahr Jamail

BAGHDAD, Mar 26 (IPS) - The two surveys, one following the other, told quite different stories about Iraq. But Iraqis did not need to look at either to know what their own story is like.

The Sunday Times of London published the results of a survey Mar. 18 carried out by the British firm Opinion Research Business that claimed that most Iraqis prefer life under the new government to life under Saddam Hussein.

Another published the same day, sponsored by USA Today newspaper, the ABC news channel in the United States, BBC and the German television network ARD, found that six in ten Iraqis thought their lives were going badly, and only a third expected anything would get better in a year's time.

But Iraqis were not looking at the surveys - they do not need to. Life around them tells its own story.

"Our government and its American friends don't know much about us," 35-year-old teacher Razzaq Ahmed from Ramadi told IPS. "All they care about is their war against al-Qaeda."
 

Sun

25

Mar

2007

Bill Maher on Bush Administration, Patriotism, Plame and More (Video)
Sunday, 25 March 2007 09:44
Bill Maher on Bush Administration, Patriotism, Plame and More (Video)

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And finally, new rule...traitors don't get to question my patriotism! What could be less patriotic than *constantly* screwing things up for America? You know, it's literally hard to keep up with the sheer volume of scandals in the Bush administration, which is why I like to download the latest scandals right onto my iPod. That way I can catch up on this week's giant fuck up on my drive into work. (Laughter). In fact, Bush has so many scandals, he could open a chain of scandal-and-fuck-up themed restaurants. "Ooh, should I get the Harriet Miers meatloaf of the Katrina crabcakes?"

You know, not to generalize, but the 29% of people who still support President Bush are the ones who love to pronounce themselves more patriotic than the rest of us. But just *saying* you're patriotic, is like saying you have a big cock--if you have to say it, chances are it's not true! (Laughter and applause.) And indeed the party that flatters itself that they protect America better, is the party that has exhausted the military, left the ports wide open, and purposefully outed a CIA agent, Valerie Plame. That's not treason any more--outing a spy? Did I mention it was one of our spies? (Laughter.)

And how despicable that Bush's lackies attempted to diminish this crime by belittling her service, like she was just some chick who "hung around the CIA". Heh, heh. An intern, really! Groupie, if you want to be mean about it... (Laughter.)

No--big lie! Valerie Plame was the CIA's operational officer in charge of counter-proliferation. Which means, she tracked loose nukes. So when Bush said, as he once did, that his absolute number one priority was preventing terrorists from getting loose nukes? Okay, that's what she worked on. That's what she devoted her life to, staying under cover for 20 years. Maintaining two identities every g*ddamn day. This is extraordinary service to your country! Valerie Plame was the kind of real-life secret agent George Bush dreams of being, when he's not too busy pretending to be a cowboy or a fighter pilot! (Laughter and applause.)

CIA agents are troops. This was a military assassination, of one of our own, done through the press, ordered by Karl Rove. He said of Valerie Plame, "She's fair game." And then Cheney shot her. (Laughter.)

George Bush likes to claim that he doesn't question his critics' patriotism, just their judgement. Well, let me be the first of your critics, Mr. President, to question your judgement and your patriotism (clapping) because let's not forget why they did it to her.

Because Valerie Plame was married to this guy Joe Wilson, who the Bush people hated, because he busted them on one of their bullsh*t reasons for invading Iraq. He was sent to the African country of Niger to see if Niger was selling nuclear fuel to Iraq. They weren't, it was bullshit, and he said so. In fact, his report was called, "Niger please!" (Laughter.)

Valerie Plame's husband told the truth about their lies, so they were willing to jeopardize an entire network of spies to ruin her life! Wow--even the mob doesn't go after your family.

Mark Twain said "Patriotism is supporting your country all the time, and your government when it deserves it. And I say, Valerie Plame is a patriot, because she spent her life serving her country. Scooter Libby is not, because he spent his life serving Dick Cheney. Valerie Plame kept her secrets--the Bush administration leaked like the plumbing at Walter Reed.

In the year 2008, I really think that Hillary Clinton should run for president on a platform of "restoring honour and integrity to the Oval Office".
 

Mon

19

Mar

2007

Nigerian Anti-Gay Bill Could Lead To a Gay Genocide
Monday, 19 March 2007 16:11
AtlanticFreePress - An anti-gay bill pending in the legislature of Nigeria could result in that country running afoul of international treaties which outlaw genocide, according to a statement issued Wednesday by the Gay Homeland Foundation.

Nigerian politicians and high officials of the Anglican Church in Nigeria pushing for the anti-gay Bill in their country might themselves become subject to international prosecution.

The UN Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide characterizes genocide as "acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnic, racial or religious group, as such:
(a) Killing members of the group;
(b) Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group;
(c) Deliberately inflicting conditions of life calculated to bring about the group?s physical destruction, in whole or in part;
(d) Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group; and/or,
(e) Forcible transfer of children of the group to another group."

"The proposed legislation, if implemented, will undoubtedly have catastrophic effects on Gay people in Nigeria," the Foundation?s statement says. "Gay people would be denied counselling, appropriate education on AIDS prevention, legal assistance and the right to associate with other Gay people. All these measures will unavoidably lead to increased HIV infection, isolation, depression and suicide, as well as widespread attacks on Gay people. As such, the Bill clearly violate the provisions outlined in Article II, sections (b) and (c) of the Convention. 
 

Sat

17

Mar

2007

National Peace Organizations Call on Congress to Stop Funding the Occupation of Iraq and Vote to Bring our Troops Home in 2007
Saturday, 17 March 2007 12:40
Congress Dithers as Americans Across the Country Mark the Beginning of the Fifth Year of War and Occupation of Iraq

Silver Spring, MD -- On the eve of the fourth anniversary of the US invasion of Iraq, national peace organizations including United for Peace and Justice, Military Families Speak Out, Code Pink: Women for Peace, Peace Action, Progressive Democrats of America, Democracy Rising, Voters for Peace, Democrats.com, After Downing Street, and the Backbone Campaign today called on Congress to use its power of the purse and pass binding legislation limiting funding to bringing our troops home from Iraq as quickly as possible in 2007, and to vote against the supplemental appropriations bill to continue funding for the war in Iraq unless it contains such a provision. All of these groups work together as part of or along with United for Peace and Justice, the country’s largest anti-war coalition with over 1400 member organizations.

The groups are united in opposing current Democratic leadership plans to continue funding Bush’s war well into 2008. The Senate is poised to vote on Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s proposal, a loophole-ridden joint resolution calling for a non-binding goal of completing the withdrawal of most US combat troops by March 31, 2008. At the same time, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi struggles to round up the votes for a $124 billion supplemental appropriations bill, the lion’s share of which would fund perpetuating the occupation of Iraq. Pelosi’s bill posits a withdrawal deadline of August 31, 2008. US Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA) intends to offer an amendment to fully fund a safe and orderly withdrawal of US troops by December 31, 2007. This amendment has the support of the national peace groups, who are mobilizing grassroots constituent pressure in favor of it.

Progressive Democrats of America Director Tim Carpenter said, "Fully-funded safe withdrawal within a year is not an extreme position. It's the position of 60% of the American people, according to last week's USA Today-Gallup poll. And that position would be even more popular if Democratic leaders stood their ground and fought for ending rather than prolonging the occupation. Many Americans fear that a reckless President is threatening to expand his disaster into Iran . So do many Democratic leaders - but they lack the will to even assert Congressional authority on the matter of Iran." Carpenter referred to the House Democratic leadership’s dropping of a provision in the supplemental appropriations bill earlier this week stating Bush cannot attack Iran without explicit congressional authorization.
 

Thu

15

Mar

2007

Iraq & Iran Action Alert
Thursday, 15 March 2007 11:14

Iraq & Iran Action Alert

Please Distribute Widely!

Urge House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (202-225-0100) & Your Reps (888.851.1879) to VOTE NO on another 100-billion for the Iraq Occupation.  Reject the Iraq supplemental appropriations bill scheduled for debate tomorrow.  

Urge Pelosi (202-225-0100) & Your Reps (888.851.1879) to Force Bush to get congressional authorization for any attack on Iran.  Tell them the LA County Democratic Party Central Committee voted last night to encourage members of the California Democratic Party to ONLY ENDORSE CANDIDATES WHO OPPOSE A US OR PROXY ATTACK ON IRAN and to require Bush to get congressional authorization for war.
 
 

Mon

12

Mar

2007

Marine Mom Returns to Rep. Obey’s DC Office
Monday, 12 March 2007 09:29
Atlantic Free PRESS - Washington, DC: Today, Tina Richards, mother of a Marine facing a third Iraq deployment, who made national news last week when she had a chance encounter in the hallway with Rep. David Obey, Chair of the Appropriations Committee, will return to Obey’s office.  Where: Office of Rep. David Obey, 2314 Rayburn House Office Bldg.
 
When: Monday, March 12, 2007, 11:00 AM
 
"I want to ask him, how he is going to end the killing and maiming of our sons and daughters and of the Iraqi people?"  said Tina Richards.
 
Ms. Richards has also been phoned by Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi's office seeking a meeting. "I look forward to meeting with the Speaker," Richards said.  "It is important for the Democrats to end this war.  Already 192 soldiers have been killed since the Democrats took control of both Houses of Congress."
 
"It’s offensive," Richards added, "to try to make a bill for war, which will result in more casualties, more palatable by adding health care for veterans on the bill."
 
The encounter between Ms. Richards and Rep. Obey in the hallway on Capitol Hill was caught on YouTube and created a national news story.  The YouTube video has been seen over 111,000 times (see http://youtube.com/watch?v=WAlkfYczY4c ).  Richards' press appearances have included Hardball with Chris Matthews, and her encounter was discussed widely on the Sunday political talk shows. Obey ranted at "idiot liberals," and claimed that his appropriation would de-authorize the war.
 

Wed

07

Mar

2007

Transcript and Audio of Libby Grand Jury testimony March 24, 2004
Wednesday, 07 March 2007 11:30



P R O C E E D I N G S
Whereupon,
I. LEWIS LIBBY
was called as a witness and, after first being duly sworn by
the Foreperson of the Grand Jury, was examined and testified
as follows:
EXAMINATION
BY MR. FITZGERALD:

Q. Good morning, Mr. Libby.

A. Good morning.

Q. And we're going to go — the first break will be at
10:45, but if you need a break sooner than that, let us know.
I'd just like to briefly re-advise you of all your
constitutional rights, which is that, again, you have the
right to refuse to answer any question to which a truthful
answer would tend to incriminate you. Do you understand that
right? You just have to say yes or no.

A. Oh, yes, sir. I'm sorry. Yes, sir.

Q. And secondly, obviously even though you answered
questions the last time, you still have the right to refuse to
answer questions this time or change your mind at any time.
Do you understand that?

A. Yes, sir.
 

Wed

07

Mar

2007

Transcript and Audio of Libby Grand Jury testimony March 5, 2004
Wednesday, 07 March 2007 11:14
Audio

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Other Browser Users: To hear audio, select PLAY



P R O C E E D I N G S
Whereupon,
I. LEWIS LIBBY
was called as a witness and, after first being duly sworn by
the Foreperson of the Grand Jury, was examined and testified
as follows:
EXAMINATION
BY MR. FITZGERALD:

Q. And Mr. Libby, if you could state your name for the
record and spell your name?

A. I. Lewis, L-e-w-i-s; Libby, L-i-b-b-y.

Q. And do you have a nickname?

A. I do.

Q. Okay. And that is —

A. "Scooter".
 

Fri

02

Mar

2007

Outrage over Imminent Execution of Iraqi Women
Friday, 02 March 2007 22:47
by Dahr Jamail and Ali Al-Fadhily

BAGHDAD, Mar 2 (IPS) - Three young women accused of joining the Iraqi insurgency movement and engaging in "terrorism" have been sentenced to death, provoking protest from rights organisations fearing that this could be the start of more executions of women in post-Saddam Hussein's Iraq.

The execution of the three — Wassan Talib, Zaineb Fadhil and Liqa Omar Muhammad — and a fourth, Samar Sa'ad 'Abdullah, found guilty of murdering five members of her family, are scheduled to begin Mar. 3, according a member of the citizens group Brussels Tribunal.

All four are being held in the Khadamiya female prison in northern Baghdad.

One of the three alleged "terrorists", Muhammad, 25, gave birth to a daughter after her arrest and is still nursing the child in prison. A second, Talib, 31, is also in prison with her three-year-old child, according to Amnesty International.
 
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