Wednesday, September 3, 2008

St. Paul Police Shut Down Concert, Continue Assault

St. Paul Police Shut Down Concert, Continue Assault

5,000 Marching Against Poverty Met with Tear Gas, Rubber Bullets

Undeterred by a climate of heavy police repression and threats, over 5,000 protesters took to the streets of St. Paul to march against poverty on Sept. 2, the second day of the Republican National Convention. From the early morning until late into the night, thousands more took part in protest actions all over the city.

The “Poor people’s march for our lives” marched through downtown St. Paul, past the Minnesota State Capitol and to the Xcel Center, site of the RNC. Made up of thousands of young people, the protest was militant and very multi-national. Vibrant chants of “Education, Not Occupation! Education, Not Incarceration!” echoed strongly throughout the march.

On day two, the police continued their intimidation tactics and brutality. Young people on bikes were targeted. The ANSWER delegation witnessed people being knocked off their bikes by police and arrested. Teams of bicycle cops systematically harassed, surrounded and questioned anyone who was walking to an anti-RNC event.

Police in riot gear shut down a permitted free concert at the State Capitol where thousands of people had gathered to listen to Rage Against the Machine. The police surrounded the band’s trailer and informed them that they were being shut down on the grounds that their concert would “incite a riot.”

Rage Against the Machine defied the order and played a short acoustic set.

In the evening, police fired large amounts of teargas, “anti-crowd” explosives and pepper spray at thousands of protesters who gathered outside the Xcel Center at the end of the big anti-poverty march. The Xcel Center is surrounded by eight foot fencing and heavily guarded at all times.

On Sept. 2, another 10 people were arrested. The broad assault on the protesters has been coordinated at the federal and local level and carried out by the FBI, ICE, the National Guard, state police, local police and the coast guard.

Showing clearly that the arrests are coordinated to intimidate protest of the RNC, local police have announced that they are planning to hold protesters until the end of the convention. Bragging openly about the police plan of repression, Ramsey County Sheriff Bob Fletcher said, "We know we have 200 of the biggest trouble makers in jail from Monday and they're not getting out for some time, so that's a big help."

At the time of this report the majority of the nearly 300 protesters who have been arrested during the RNC continue to be illegally jailed. Minnesota law requires arrestees to be released or officially charged within 36 hours after being arrested. Attorneys from the National Lawyers Guild and other law collective support teams are working to free all those detained during the protest.

Please take a moment and click this link to send a letter to Chris Coleman, the mayor of St. Paul, demanding that all protesters and social justice organizers be released, and that all charged be dropped. The real criminals are the "law enforcement" authorities, who have systematically violated the free speech rights of protesters, and in more than a few cases carried out physical abuse.

Protests are continuing over the next two days with a mass march and rally on Thursday set to coincide with John McCain’s acceptance speech. The Minnesota Anti-war Committee is sponsoring the protest and the ANSWER Coalition along with many other local and national groups have endorsed the action.

A.N.S.W.E.R. Coalition
http://www.answercoalition.org/
info@internationalanswer.org

National Office in Washington DC: 202-544-3389
New York City: 212-694-8720
Los Angeles: 213-251-1025
San Francisco: 415-821-6545
Chicago: 773-463-0311

Who Is Wrecking America?

Who Is Wrecking America?

By Paul Craig Roberts

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Does the liberal-left have a clue? I sometimes think not.

In his book, “What’s the Matter With Kansas?,” Thomas Frank made the excellent point that the Karl Rove Republicans take advantage of ordinary’s people’s frustrations and resentments to lead them into voting against their best interest.

Frank’s new book, “The Wrecking Crew: How Conservatives Rule,” lacks the insight that distinguished his previous book. Why does Frank think that conservatives or liberals rule?

Neither rule. America is ruled by organized interest groups with money to elect candidates who serve their interests. Frank’s book does not even mention the Israel Lobby, which bleeds Americans for the sake of Israeli territorial expansion. Check the index. Israel is not there.

Does Frank think that rapture evangelicals are conservative, that Christian Zionists are conservative? If so, where did he learn his theology?

Frank can’t tell the difference between Ronald Reagan and Cheney/Bush. He conflates the collection of opportunists and fanatics that comprise the Bush Party with the Reagan conservatives who ended stagflation and the cold war. The adventurer, Jack Abramoff, is Frank’s epitome of a conservative. Abramoff is the most mentioned person in Frank’s story. In Frank’s view, conservatives are out to ruin everyone except the rich.

But it was the Clinton administration that rigged the Consumer Price Index in order to cheat retired people out of their Social Security cost of living increases.

It was the Clinton administration that vanished discouraged workers from the unemployment rolls.

It was the Clinton administration that wrecked “effective government” by encouraging early civil service retirements in order to make way for quota hires.

Why doesn’t Frank know that the “Reagan deficit” was due to the collapse of inflation below the forecast, thus reducing the flow of inflated revenues into the government’s budget, whereas the Bush deficit is a result of what Nobel Democrat economist Joe Stiglitz has calculated to be a $3 trillion dollar war in the Middle East?

Frank doesn’t want to know. Like so many fighting ideological battles, he just wants to damn “the enemy.”

But who is Frank’s enemy? He calls them “conservatives.” But the Bush regime is a neoconservative regime. Neoconservatives, despite the name, are not conservatives. They have taken over formerly conservative publications, think tanks, and foundations and driven out the conservatives.

Neoconservatives are in the tradition of the French Jacobins of the 18th century. Having had the French Revolution, the revolutionaries thought that they should take it to all of Europe. Napoleon exercised French hegemony over Europe. The American neocons desire American hegemony over the world.

The true American conservative does not believe in foreign wars. In US history, conservatives were derided by liberals as “isolationists.”

There is nothing conservative about launching wars of aggression on the basis of lies and deception in order to control the direction of oil pipelines and to enhance Israeli territorial expansion.

Frank misses all of this.

And what a pity that is. A false conservative-liberal fight distracts attention from the growing police state that is destroying civil liberties for all Americans. It obscures the real motives of policies in behalf of special interests that are leading to nuclear confrontation with Russia and China.

What is wrecking America is not conservatives, but a neoconservative ideology of US hegemony.

What is wrecking America is the “impeachment-is-off-the-table” twins, Nancy Pelosi and John Conyers.

What is wrecking America is the Democratic Party, which was put in control of the House and Senate in the 2006 congressional elections to stop the gratuitous wars and gestapo police, but, instead, has continued to cooperate with the Cheney/Bush regime in behalf of war and police repression, such as we witnessed at the Republican National Convention.

Frank’s book, “The Wrecking Crew” falls into the scapegoat category of blaming the innocent and irrelevant. The Democrat Party could impeach Cheney/Bush and cut off funding for the wars and corrupt military contracts. But they do nothing and get a free pass from Frank.

“The Wrecking Crew” does have one virtue. Frank shows that the Republicans have spawned a new generation of brownshirts that lust to imprison, torture, and kill people. These ignorant bloodthirsty thugs see enemies everywhere and fervently desire to nuke them all. The Republican brownshirts are equally willing to kill American critics of the Bush regime as to kill Taliban and al Qaeda.

The latest “enemy” is Russia. The Bush regime, complicit in its Georgian puppet’s war crimes against South Ossetia, is attempting to hide its responsibility for ethnic cleansing by demonizing Russia. With every threat the Bush regime issues against Russia, the war drums beat louder. Yet, the print and TV media and Democratic Party have jumped on the war wagon.

The rapture evangelicals and the neocons are euphoric at the prospect of nuclear war. Frank’s misguided barrage at conservatives, who are a brake on war and the police state, hastens end times.

The Revolution of the Meek

The Revolution of the Meek

By: Peter Chamberlin

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What words can I conjure to give meaning to the visions that dominate my brain, images of evil and bloodlust, consuming the flesh of an unwary people. I see the rapidly approaching epic, the cataclysmic convulsion of a violent racist culture, stabbing feverishly at its own womb, hoping to abort the birth of the new man of peace and unity.


I see clearly the rising image of the new race, a new culture dedicated to enlightenment. The new mankind will be hungry for knowledge, in the same way that the current race is hungry for wealth and power. The new man will seek to overcome life's problems through understanding them, instead of forcefully re-ordering them to a more acceptable configuration.

Bringing forth the "New Man" is the core of all religious teaching, as is the coming catastrophic era, which will draw-out the mind of the new man from the debris of the shattered old mind. No prophet or founder of religions has ever been able to convert more than a handful of his closest followers into these New Men, whose minds have been liberated from the baggage of the old. But each of them clearly described the apocalyptic events which would rip the new earth from the old.

All belief systems, even religious ones, have been corrupted by power-mad individuals who intend to keep mankind in the dark, confused about the most basic items of truth and reality. They perverted the faiths, turning each of them away from the nurturing teachings of their Prophet founders, focusing instead, on sowing division among the faithful. Trusted spiritual leaders, by their actions, have hidden the many ways of growing a generation of "New Men," ensuring that mankind would only have one path to mass enlightenment open unto them, the path of cataclysm/conversion. The new man would eventually arise, but, like the Phoenix, he would necessarily arise out of the ashes of the old order.

The great intellectual leaps made in the past are portrayed as ends in themselves, not as steps in a series of enlightening revelations. Religion itself, has been turned into a dead end, where personal enlightenment is allegedly only possible if carried-out in a sanctioned group environment.

The closing of minds is the cornerstone of all efforts to claim illegitimate power on this earth. Conversely, the opening of minds must be the foundation for any effort to call forth the new man, who will naturally assume his rightful place between the majority of the human race and the evil minority that seeks to enslave all life.

In order for us to open a new path to awakening a generation of new men we must expose the corruption and imminent collapse of the old order, which is based on economic control, and visualize the new earth, based on cooperation and shared humanity. We see a new world, not based on control and the idea of domination, but one of unlimited human potential, given free rein to grow and understand the problems that we create for ourselves. The old world order must give way to a new world that has no center, where edicts and coercive dictates do not exist. In the new order, power will flow from each person.

In the old order, everyman was encouraged to want to be king. "Success" was measured by how close you came to fulfilling this kingly ambition. The "aristocracy" ("rule by the best," meaning the wealthiest) came to rule over mankind, with each man giving his consent to the arrangement. The cultivated desire to live like kings is the glue that bound the kingdom together, becoming the basis of the capitalist system.

The "aristocrats" were a minority of individuals possessed of the desire to dominate and control all things within their grasp. The bigger their grasp, the more people there were under their influence, capable of being dominated or controlled. The original kings were the most successful members the self-appointed aristocracy, those most ruthless men who had amassed the most wealth, making them most capable of hiring armies of mercenaries and thugs to enforce their will and to maintain their economic domination.

These were men without consciences, who were never bothered by the human suffering they created in their lust to control and to accumulate the resources now divided amongst the masses.

The aristocratic minority possess abnormal personalities marked by psychopathic obsessions to dominate and control others, as opposed to normal people, whose natures allow them to work and play well with others. The economic system created by the aristocracy is a system of control, enforced by laws and armies, designed to expand, without end, until all life on the planet is brought under aristocratic domination. The expansion of the system will not stop until all resources are brought under their control.

In order for the system to function, the majority of the people have to remain as willing to submit to the economic domination of the wealthy minority as the elite are determined to dominate them. But a funny thing happened on the way to the world dictatorship, just before total resource domination was achieved, the majority began to resist. The "meek" were starting to assert their will to hold onto the little that they had. The resistance of the meek had begun.

For the total global aristocratic dominion to become reality the force levels used to maintain control over the majority have to increase to a level sufficient to eliminate all ideas of further resistance. It had become crystal clear to the elite planners that the only way for the aristocracy to maintain its web of control and to accomplish its plans for total resource domination was to unleash all the force in its arsenal into the heart of the global resistance.

If the key to continued domination of the earth was to unleash a spasm of violence like the world had never before witnessed, culminating in a global thermonuclear war, the death of millions and the destruction of the planet, then so be it! The meek cannot be allowed to inherit anything; everything belongs to the ruling class!

The would-be world rulers are faced with an extreme dilemma, "how to conquer the world without destroying themselves with it?" If the plan for total resource domination calls for the full use of all military power to overcome weaker enemies, then how could you attack adversaries with equivalent forces without causing your own destruction?

The self-appointed rulers of the world determined that these powerful competitors could be compromised through the same formula of economic coercion that their kind had always employed – bribes and threats of force. "King's ransoms" would surely bend the most-dangerous resistance forces to their wills. "Low-level conflict," a euphemism for warfare by terrorism, would convey the threat of greater war, along with the exorbitant bribes, for those who were more resistant to the empire's "reasoning."

But even this game is running-up against the will of the resistance, the "meek" are getting really pissed-off, in the face of insane measures meant to ignite world war and to unleash the dreaded nuclear "horseman of the apocalypse" upon the resistant "lower" classes. If a majority of us "get our backs up," no amount of worthless currency will buy us off. We are witnesses to the ongoing attempts by the American government and its foreign minions to ignite an insane world war, for the sake of preserving the illegitimate power that drives their megalomaniacal dreams.

Enough is enough! The time has come for the revolution of the meek. We will not go quietly into the night!

For those who believe in freedom, the revolution calls you.

For those who hate freedom for others, the revolution waits for you.

All power which assumes greater powers for itself than those it was originally given is illegitimate power. In an age when illegitimate power is openly moving to seize all available power, all those free men who love the rights and powers granted to them by their Creator must step forward to oppose the seizure. If all good things flow from the mind of God, then those men who move to separate mankind from these good things are clearly evil.

"All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing." - Edmund Burke. This truism applies to all men, for all time, but it is truer today than in any past era. When governments all over the world work together to preserve their collective illegitimate powers, then it is time for a worldwide revolution to set all men free.

As Americans, we are at the epicenter of the world collective of illegitimate power. It is our destiny to be the ones who stand face-to-face with "the Beast, to force a divide within the government collective (Congress), that will disable the forward thrust to crush the rights of all mankind. To all the members of the United States Congress I say, if you, as our representatives, allow the invasion of another country, or the introduction of American troops into the streets of the United States, for the purpose of ending democracy and eliminating the Bill of Rights, then the revolution awaits you.

To President Bush, Vice President Cheney, Speaker Pelosi and Harry Reid, I say to you, if you move forward with your plans for world war or for establishing a police state in America, for the purpose of seizing control of the world's energy sources and creating an illegitimate world government, then the revolution awaits you, with all its fury.

America's illegitimate power can no longer be maintained. America's military and other powers of persuasion can no longer contain the actions of the other governments of the world. Killing is not the solution, the saving and improving of all life is the answer. This country has amassed the largest debt that the world has ever witnessed, for the sake of empowering the military machine used to dominate the world. This debt will never be repaid.

In the time America has left to continue operations under this debt-based system (before our creditors decide to pull the plug on our borrowing) we must move away from war, towards the path of reconciliation. In a world of near-total chaos, brought about by our double-dealing "diplomacy" and our own military and economic aggression, America will find itself broken and alone. If we have any hope of being allowed back into the world community after it begins to recover from the great collapse, then it will only come about by our trying right now, to repair the damage that we have wrought, before it becomes impossible to do so.

This requires that we stop our war of terrorism and devote a large portion of those funds dedicated to waging the war into an international re-building effort, to begin to repair the nations we have destroyed and to alleviate some of the human suffering we have caused. In the new world economy, the illegitimate power of capitalism, which can only be maintained by military force, will have been broken itself. This breakdown will cause unimaginable suffering to intensify, as the food distribution chains break down, as well. What would an investment equivalent to one year of the Pentagon's budget (or the amount spent on new weapons systems in one year) do towards insuring that more people do not starve because of America's mistakes?

Americans must reconcile themselves to the horrendous truth about what has been done to the world in our name. We must face the ugly truth that we have allowed our government to rampage through the world like some rabid beast, devouring the weak and wounding the strong. We have allowed our government to assume illegitimate power to a level that rivals all predecessor progenitors of evil.

As this evil government moves against the world with the fullness of its military power, we can see clearly that the revolution has come to us. Do we allow the destruction of freedom, God's greatest gift to mankind, or do we follow the example of our own sacred predecessors and stand together as free men, standing between our government and the world? The revolution is all that stands between the evil plans of these men and their fulfillment. What will you do when the rest of us take our stand?

This evil era has been foretold by prophets the world over, for many centuries. Each prophecy spoke of those who stood fast for truth in the face of those who sought to bury freedom and turn the world into a race of slaves. Are you among those few who will place your very life on the frontline of freedom?

The revolution has found you. Can you ignore its call?

Hard times hitting American students and schools in double blow

Hard times hitting American students and schools in double blow

By Sam Dillon

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With mortgage foreclosures throwing hundreds of families out of their homes here each month, dismayed school officials say they are feeling the upheaval: record numbers of students turning up for classes this fall are homeless or poor enough to qualify for free meals.

"We're seeing a lot more children in poverty," said Lauren Roberts, spokeswoman for the Jefferson County school system, a 98,000-student district that includes Louisville and its suburbs.

At the same time, the district is struggling with its own financial problems. Responding to a cut of $43 million by the state in education spending and to higher energy and other costs, school officials in Jefferson County have raised lunch prices, eliminated 17 buses by reorganizing routes, ordered drivers to turn off vehicles rather than letting them idle and increased property taxes.

The Jefferson County system is typical this school year.

As 50 million children return to classes across the nation, crippling increases in the price of fuel and food, coupled with the economic downturn, have left schools from California to Florida to Maine cutting costs. Some are trimming bus service, others are restricting travel, and a few are shortening the school week. And as many districts are forced to cut back, the number of poor and homeless students is rising.

"The big national picture is that food and fuel costs are going up and school revenues are not," said Anne Bryant, executive director of the National School Boards Association. "We're in a recession, and it's having a dramatic impact on schools."

Louisville's pain is minor compared with the woes of some cities. Detroit has laid off at least 700 teachers, Los Angeles 500 administrators and Miami-Dade County hundreds of school psychologists, maintenance workers and custodians.

Schools in many states have cut bus stops to save diesel. Districts in California and Ohio have gone further and eliminated bus service either completely or for high schools, leaving thousands of students to find their own way to school.

In Maine, officials worried about the cost of heating their classrooms this winter have restricted travel for field trips to save money. Districts in Louisiana, Minnesota and elsewhere have taken a more radical measure and adopted four-day school weeks. Hundreds of districts, responding to higher food prices, are charging more for cafeteria meals.

In interviews, educators in many states said they were seeing more needy families than at any time in memory. Two charities in suburban Detroit announced in August that they would hand out student backpacks, attracting hundreds of families.

"They went through all 300 backpacks in three hours, boom, and that was that," said Kathleen Kropf, an official in the Macomb Intermediate School District. "We're seeing a lot of desperate people."

There were no giveaways for Jacci Murray, 28, a single mother in West Palm Beach, Florida, who said she lost her job six months ago. Murray bought pencils and crayons for her son, Cameron, who is in the second grade, from a discount bin at Office Depot. Saying she felt "cheap and broke," she pored fretfully over her school supplies list, afraid to waste gas by making more than one shopping trip.

"It's been tough this year," Murray said. "I'm depressed about school."

And so are many educators.

West Virginia officials issued a memorandum recently to local districts titled "Tips to Deal With the Skyrocketing Cost of Fuel." Last week, David Pauley, the transportation supervisor for the Kanawha County school system, based in Charleston, met with drivers of the district's 196 buses to outline those policies. Pauley told them to stay 5 miles per hour below the limit, to check the tire pressure every day and to avoid jackrabbit starts.

The Caldwell Parish School District, in northern Louisiana, took a more sweeping approach to saving fuel by eliminating Monday classes. The district joined about 100 systems nationwide, most of them rural, that in recent years have adopted a four-day schedule.

The district's superintendent, John Sartin, said the move should save $145,000 in a $15 million budget. The decision, made in June, came after crude oil prices had risen for 29 consecutive days, Sartin said.

"People here worry that they won't have enough money to last through the month," he said.

Similar concerns in the Southern Aroostook Community School District in Maine have delayed adoption of the budget.

"We've tried to pass it twice, and we're trying a third," said Terry Comeau, the superintendent, who has restricted field trips and taken a bus off the road.

"People are saying, 'I don't want my taxes to go higher; I need the money to pay my bills,' " said Comeau, adding that one worry is that heating costs will soar this winter.

The problems in many districts can be traced to battered state budgets. According to a July report by the National Conference of State Legislatures, 31 states had budget gaps totaling $40 billion, and many had cut school financing.

California still has a $15.2 billion budget gap, although many districts there have made cuts, including Los Angeles Unified, which sliced $400 million from its $6 billion budget in June partly by laying off 500 administrators and secretaries, though no teachers.

Many districts are serving increasing numbers of needy students. In Mobile, Alabama, the number of homeless students tripled to about 2,500 at the end of the last school year from 850 in the 2006-7 term.

"And our numbers are going to be a whole lot higher this year," said Larissa Dickinson, a school social worker there. "We've had phone call after phone call from families evicted over the summer."

Officials in districts in a half-dozen states reported similar surges.

In Louisville, 7,600 homeless students were enrolled when the term ended in June, up from 7,300 the year before. But Anne Malone, who coordinates efforts to help homeless students, said the figure would be "way up over that this year." Malone cited foreclosure statistics from the Metropolitan Housing Coalition in Louisville that about 10 families were evicted every day here.

The number of students whose family's income qualifies them for subsidized meals is up, too.

Under the National School Lunch Program, children in a family of four whose parents earn no more than $39,220 a year qualify for a subsidized 30-cent breakfast and 40-cent lunch. If the parents earn no more than $27,560, the children qualify for free meals.

Last year, about 58,000 Jefferson County students were eligible for free or reduced-price meals. This year, the number is likely to reach 62,000, said Mary Owens, who coordinates the program here. In interviews, officials in California, the District of Columbia, Florida and Wisconsin also projected increases in the number of students who would qualify for free or reduced-price meals.

Nationally, 14.9 million students qualified for free lunches last year, according to data from the Agriculture Department; the Bush administration's budget estimates that an additional 283,000 students will be eligible this year.

A department spokeswoman, Jean Daniel, said that subsidized meals were an entitlement and that no students would be turned away if participation exceeded estimates.

The office here where parents fill out forms to qualify for subsidized meals has seen a stream of anxious parents this year, often in tears, pleading for the free meals for their children because they do not have 70 cents a day to pay for the reduced-price meals, Owens said.

"We've had a lot of daddies coming in to say their check doesn't cover like it used to," she said.

U.S., Afghan Troops Kill 20 in Pakistan

U.S., Afghan Troops Kill 20 in Pakistan

By Candace Rondeaux

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At least 20 people were killed in northwest Pakistan on Wednesday after U.S. and Afghan troops crossed from Afghanistan to pursue Taliban insurgents in an early morning attack that marked the first known instance in which U.S. forces conducted an operation on Pakistani soil since the U.S.-led war in Afghanistan began, according to witnesses and a Pakistani official.

The United States has conducted occasional air and artillery strikes against insurgents lodged across the border in Pakistani territory, and "hot pursuit" rules provide some room for U.S. troops to maneuver in the midst of battle. But the arrival of three U.S. helicopters in the village of Musa Nika, clearly inside the Pakistani border, drew a sharp response from Pakistani officials.

"We strongly object to the incursion of ISAF troops on Pakistani territory," said Maj. Gen. Athar Abbas, chief spokesman for the Pakistani military, referring to the International Security Assistance Force, the coalition of U.S. and other NATO troops that has been battling the Taliban insurgency in Afghanistan since 2001.

A U.S. military spokesman in Afghanistan referred requests for comment on the incident to U.S. Central Command headquarters in Tampa. A CENTCOM spokesman reached by phone in Tampa on Wednesday declined to comment.

Many details of the incident remain unclear, including the number of ground troops and helicopters involved, and whether U.S. troops were among those that left the helicopters and conducted a ground operation in the village. Pakistani military officials said two helicopters landed at Musa Nika, while villagers said there were three.

According to Pakistani military and other sources, the attack began a little after 3 a.m. when three U.S. army helicopters carrying American and Afghan troops landed in Musa Nika in the Pakistani tribal area of South Waziristan. According to a Pakistani security official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he is not authorized to speak publicly on the incident, several of the troops then left the helicopters and launched a ground assault on three houses where Taliban fighters were believed to be hiding.

One of the homes belonged to a villager named Pao Jan Ahmedzai Wazir, a local tribesman, said Anwar Shah, a resident of a neighboring village. Several women and children who were inside Wazir's house and two other homes nearby were killed when U.S. and Afghan troops opened fire on the buildings. "The situation there is very terrible. People are trying to take out the dead bodies," Shah said.

Maj. Murad Khan, a spokesman for the Pakistani military, said Pakistani authorities have verified that an attack took place in South Waziristan a little before 4 a.m. But he could not confirm whether U.S. troops were involved until an investigation into the incident is complete.

Khan said that coalition troops in Afghanistan are generally barred from crossing into Pakistan's tribal areas. "We don't allow foreign troops to operate in our area. Our troops are quite capable of handling the militants on our side," Khan said.

The attack in Musa Nika comes amid debate over the rules of operation along the area between Afghanistan and Pakistan. In recent months, U.S. officials have intensified pressure on Pakistan to clamp down on Taliban insurgents and al-Qaeda fighters sheltering in areas along the 1,500-mile-long border.

Owais Ghani, governor of Pakistan's North-West Frontier province, immediately condemned the attack in Musa Nika, saying that several women and children had been killed in the skirmish. Ghani called the cross-border incursion a "direct assault on Pakistan's sovereignty" and demanded a response from Pakistan's military.

The Pakistani military appears to have acceded recently to U.S. pressures to step up attacks on extremists in its border areas, launching major offensives on Taliban and al-Qaeda strongholds in two of the country's Federally Administered Tribal Areas within the past two months.

Yet analysts here in Pakistan's capital say the incursion into South Waziristan could augur a new strategic turn aimed at cutting off an insurgency that threatens to engulf large swaths of Pakistan and reverse any gains made by U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan.

Last week, Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, held a secret meeting with Pakistani Gen. Ashfaq Kayani aboard a U.S. aircraft carrier in the Indian Ocean in the wake of several devastating setbacks for Western and Afghan forces in Afghanistan.

U.S. and Pakistani officials have released few details about discussions at the high-level meeting, which was also attended by Gen. David D. McKiernan, NATO's top commander in Afghanistan. But a senior Pakistani military official with knowledge of the meeting said that talks between Mullen and Kayani focused in large part on the threat to coalition forces in Afghanistan emanating from insurgents operating inside Pakistan's borders. The Pakistani military official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he is not authorized to speak publicly on the matter, said the meeting touched on a possible agreement to allow U.S. Special Forces to begin ground operations in Pakistan's tribal areas.

Abbas denied reports of any agreement for U.S. troops to operate inside Pakistani territory.

A NATO spokesman in Afghanistan said foreign forces are generally prohibited from mounting cross border attacks into Pakistan. The spokesman, who only gave his name as Sgt. Yates, said NATO forces occasionally employ artillery or aerial missiles to target insurgents who attack coalition troops from Pakistani territory, but the rules of engagement are very carefully proscribed. "Our area of operations stops at the border. We don't go over the border period," Yates said.

Ron Paul channeling losing presidential bid into political push of his own

Ron Paul channeling losing presidential bid into political push of his own

By ROBERT T. GARRETT

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Texas Rep. Ron Paul, shunned by the Republicans because he won’t endorse John McCain, starred in his own political convention Tuesday.

Dr. Paul seeks to channel momentum from his losing presidential bid into an ongoing political push, though it’s unclear whether the effort will hurt Mr. McCain’s chances.

“I don’t worry a whole lot about that,” the Surfside congressman said as 12,000 supporters flocked to the Target Center for nine hours of hot rhetoric about big government, trampling of the Constitution and President Bush’s foreign misadventures.

“End the Fed!” the crowd roared when John McManus of the John Birch Society criticized the Federal Reserve. Many hooted when anti-tax crusader Grover Norquist mocked “environmentalists who make the toilets too small to flush completely.” Former Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura said gun rights aren’t for hunting but just in case “our government gets out of control.”

Dr. Paul, though, got the most deafening reception.

“The revolution is a lot more than about me. There’s no doubt about it, this revolution will continue,” he said at his “Rally for the Republic.”

Jack Pitney, a government professor at Claremont McKenna College in California, said no other candidate attracts a wider array of the politically disaffected.

“Sounds like the bar scene in Star Wars,” he said.

Aaron Hood of Fort Worth, a Republican alternate delegate, applauded as Dr. Paul spoke.

“I get some funny looks at the [Republican] convention,” Mr. Hood said, pointing to a Paul button pinned to his floor pass.

Mr. Hood, 30, a regional buyer for auto chain CarMax, said Paulistas take a lot of ribbing but he’s “made converts at the office.”

Asked why Dr. Paul appeals to him, Mr. Hood said, “I can read the Constitution and I know that our government is not what it should be.”

Though Dr. Paul raised about $35 million, mostly from Internet appeals, he has only about $5 million left. He said he’ll split it between his congressional re-election effort and a new political advocacy group, the Campaign for Liberty, which he called “a plan to influence” the GOP’s philosophy.

Dr. Pitney, a former GOP congressional staff aide, said Dr. Paul attracted only 5 percent of the national vote in the primaries and doubted his supporters would be a factor in the fall.

“His message just doesn’t resonate with Republican voters,” he said.

But University of Texas political scientist Bruce Buchanan thinks Dr. Paul “is a threat to McCain because McCain is in an uphill struggle in the best of circumstances.”

Libertarian presidential nominee Bob Barr buttonholed Paul supporters at the arena, stressing his passion for “truly small government” and saying he regrets supporting authorization for the U.S. to invade Iraq and the Patriot Act.

The rally attracted button-down Republicans and people clad in T-shirts that said, “Calling the GOP Back to the Roots.” Some men doffed tri-cornered American Revolution hats, while a couple with two small children wore matching, homemade colonial outfits.

Dr. Paul, asked if so diverse a group could have coalesced without him, said, “Let’s hope so. … If a true revolutionary spirit exists in the country, nobody can stop it.”

Living in the Car After Gustav

Living in the Car After Gustav

Bill Quigley

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The good news is that nearly two million people were evacuated and spared the direct hit of Gustav on the Gulf Coast. Our sisters and brothers in Haiti and the Dominican Republic, who were not able to leave the point of the storm, lost over 100 lives. The people of the US were fortunate to be able to leave.

The bad news is that most people have not been allowed to return.

Since the storm, New Orleans and numerous other coastal communities have continued 24-hour curfews and prohibited people from returning by posting law enforcement at all entrances. Officials argue that neighborhoods are without electricity and returning would be challenging due to downed trees and power lines.

Being locked out is quite a hardship and challenging for the hundreds of thousands of displaced working families. As one local resident put it, "I understand that most public officials are saying for us to stay away as a safety aspect, but they do not realize that some of us cannot afford to stay away that long."

Garland Robinette, a respected radio voice of WWL radio, was pleading with elected officials on air this afternoon, "What are you going to do about the poor people who can't afford another hotel room?"

When the average wage for workers in the hotel and restaurant business is less than $400 a week, the least-expensive hotel, plus gas and meals for a family since last Saturday or Sunday, can eat up a week's wages in no time. Additionally, tens of thousands of people have also lost a week of work because most workers are not paid for the time during evacuation. That puts families two weeks of wages behind.

That is why there are widespread reports of families now parked on the side of the highway or in parking lots waiting for permission to come home.

Over 60,000 people are in 300 shelters across the South. Those who came by publicly paid buses will not be allowed to return until perhaps the weekend.

People who cannot come home are being told to contact the Red Cross and local churches to see if they will provide bed space.

Despite our continuing problems, we are all thankful for the good fortune we have had. We are also grateful for the help of our neighbors, families and friends who have put us up, given us money for gas, and allowed us to shower and use their phones.

Nearly two million people cooperated in the evacuation. New Orleans and other coastal communities reported only a handful of arrests. This has worked really well so far. But unless officials are sensitive to the serious financial crunch that working and poor families are in, the risk is that the next time large numbers of people will be less likely to evacuate.

For Hurricane Gustav evacuees, a long slog home

For Hurricane Gustav evacuees, a long slog home

The troubles pile up in St. Tammany Parish. New Orleans will allow people back into the city starting at midnight tonight, but flooding prompts new evacuations elsewhere.

By David Zucchino and Richard Fausset

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The interstates were clogged Tuesday with Hurricane Gustav evacuees inching their way home in the face of police roadblocks.

Rain was falling in great gray sheets, sending floodwaters coursing out of the Bogue Falaya and Tchefuncte rivers and into homes and cars.

At least four tornadoes touched down, and radios crackled with National Weather Service warnings of more.

The power was out, the sewers weren't working and there was no gasoline for miles.

It was a rough day in St. Tammany Parish, where two rivers and two interstates converge. Even after surviving Gustav on Monday, this sodden parish of about 250,000 people struggled to deal with calamities that weren't exactly of biblical proportions but close enough.

"What do you want to hear about first -- the floods, the traffic jams or the tornadoes?" Suzanne Parsons, the parish governmental affairs officer, asked as rain beat down on the emergency operations center in the town of Covington.

In many ways, St. Tammany was hit harder than New Orleans. The parish hugs the northern shore of Lake Pontchartrain north of the city. Gustav blew lake water into the parish, flooding riverside areas and felling trees and power lines.

People trying to get back into New Orleans and surrounding parishes threatened to overrun St. Tammany. Even though New Orleans remained under a mandatory evacuation order until midnight tonight, officials in adjacent Jefferson Parish said they would allow residents to return at 6 a.m. today.

About 1.9 million people fled the hurricane. By late Tuesday morning, thousands were fighting their way back home even though hundreds of thousands of homes were still without power or sewer service in the greater New Orleans area.

Two major routes in and out of New Orleans -- Interstates 10 and 12 -- converge in St. Tammany. Parish officials took to news radio programs, begging people to stop clogging the interstates and getting stranded without gas or food in a parish already overwhelmed by the forces of nature.

"They just sat there till the state police told them to go back, but then they ran out of gas -- and we don't have any," Parsons said.

On the St. Tammany website, Parish President Kevin Davis was adamant: "St. Tammany Parish remains closed. You may hear otherwise on some media, but I repeat, St. Tammany Parish is closed. Do not return at this time and do not try to cross St. Tammany Parish to reach our neighboring parishes to the south."

Because Jefferson Parish had opened up to returning evacuees, Parsons said, St. Tammany officials were working with Jefferson to find a solution. She said St. Tammany might have to allow its own residents to return before the parish gets its electricity, sewer, rivers and roadways back in order.

As St. Tammany was dealing with traffic jams, the parish issued an order for 2,000 riverside residents to evacuate immediately. Mayor Candice Watkins of Covington, in the heart of the parish, went on the radio to beg residents to grab their pets, children and possessions -- and flee.

Few of the so-called river people paid attention. They hunkered down in their homes; most of the structures are raised at least 10 feet off the ground. They wore boots or galoshes to navigate floodwaters and reach their cars parked on high ground.

"They don't want to be rescued," said Shane "Catfish" Jenkins, a Covington firefighter who was trying to reach homes surrounded by water. "These river people have been here forever, and they don't worry about the river."

Jenkins and three fellow firemen kept trying to launch a rowboat to reach a family in a flooded home in Covington. But three times they were called away to respond to tornadoes that touched down nearby.

Outside a home, teenage boys played on a rubber raft in the roiling brown waters, enjoying the flood. Other residents sloshed toward their marooned homes, toting food, ice, water and beer.

"We're used to it -- we know we'll be OK," Andrew Chetta said as he and his wife, Cathy, waded through knee-deep brown water to reach their car from their dry home, raised 12 feet above the surrounding flood.

Right behind them was Glenn Landry, 17, who was chatting on a cellphone -- through a plastic bag protecting the phone -- as he plodded barefoot through the murky water. He had just left his flooded house, he said, because he got bored.

"I'm walking to see my homies," he said. "They've got electricity and I don't."

Kevin Kileen put his wife, Stephanie, and her daughters Erika Moore, 11, and Shannon Moore, 8, in the back of his pickup and drove through the floodwaters to reach their home. Also in the back of the truck was a canoe.

"Just in case," Stephanie Kileen said.

The family rode out Gustav in their home, which is raised 10 feet, but nearly got stranded by rising floodwaters Monday night.

Bill Kemp, who has lived on the river for 20 years, tooled past in a golf cart. The water lapped at the bottom of the vehicle. He wasn't evacuating, he said.

"I'm not going to leave if I don't have to. I think they're overreacting," he said, referring to parish leaders.

Alan Fortier stood in ankle-deep water in his front yard, wearing only boots and a pair of scarlet shorts. He wasn't leaving.

"I'm not taking it lightly, but this river has flooded before and we made it just fine," he said.

Covington firefighter Joe Ard, still trying to get his boat in the water after his third tornado call (there were no injuries), thought he knew why the river people were staying put, even on this wet, dangerous day.

"They put their faith in God," Ard said. "Southeast Louisiana is the Bible Belt, and Covington is the buckle."

To the southwest of greater New Orleans, the two bayou parishes that expected to bear the brunt of the storm came out much better than they expected. In one of them, Lafourche Parish, officials opened roads to returning evacuees late Tuesday.

Despite dire predictions for Gustav, no one died in either Terrebonne or Lafourche parishes. While both suffered significant storm damage, flooding was not as bad as during Hurricane Rita in 2005 -- in part because both governments spent millions upgrading their levee systems.

In Terrebonne Parish alone, Rita flooded 10,000 homes, said Pete Lambert, a member of the parish council. This time, Lambert counted fewer than 100.

A Tuesday morning tour of Terrebonne -- still largely empty, as evacuees had not returned -- revealed the destructive power of the wind alone. In the community of Cocodrie, near the Gulf of Mexico, fallen trees littered fishing camps, and roofs were peeled off houses. The road to this southern point was littered with debris.

Lambert acknowledged the damage was serious, but said it would be easier to come back from wind damage than flooding.

"In four weeks those power poles will be replaced," he said, pointing to the listing line of timber along Bayou Petit Caillou. "And all these houses with wind damage will be fixed."

In neighboring Lafourche Parish, officials were elated that the water did not top the levee system that keeps water from coming north. A few miles of the southern stretch of the parish were underwater, but spokesman Brennan Matherne said much of that area was undeveloped wetland.

Of greater concern was the status of Port Fourchon, at the southern tip of the parish. Ships servicing the gulf's oil platforms launch from here, making it vital to the nation's energy supply.

Though the port was flooded, the waters receded; port police reported "no major structural damage."

Further west, in Iberia Parish, some neighborhoods were under several feet of water from thunderstorms.

In a murky pool of thigh-deep water, Faymond Williams, 32, and her husband, Warren Lewis, 52, watched waves slap against their concrete front porch, wondering how much higher it would rise.

The couple and their four children rode out Gustav but now faced the threat of losing their three-bedroom home to rising waters. Water had already seeped into Williams' den, rippling across the wood floor of the living room and making puddles in the kitchen.

The family had had no power since the storm. A fan sat unplugged on a kitchen counter. Ice melted in a cooler filled with corn on the cob and beef.

They left windows and doors open to grab a breeze in the sticky 90-degree weather, as water bugs and ants crept in. City officials said it could be more than a week before power was restored.

Williams said she had been calling FEMA's 800 number in search of shelter but had received no response. She also called police.

The family spent the afternoon barbecuing on the porch. They watched a man try to drive his car through the street, only to get stuck. Abandoned cars floated on some corners.

"I just wish this would be over," Williams said. "I just wish we have somewhere to go."

Silencing the Town Crier

Silencing the Town Crier

Leslie Griffith

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"Our liberty depends on the freedom of the press, and that cannot be limited without being lost."
- Thomas Jefferson.

How in the world can this happen? How in the world can citizens remain ensconced in their homes watching "American Idol" when a true American, who should be idolized, is getting arrested for nothing more than asking a few questions?

Amy Goodman, who hosts one of the rare alternative news programs in the country, "Democracy Now," is not known for attracting attention to herself.

She is not a Bill O'Reilly, shouting and screaming at anyone who disagrees. She is a journalist who loves diverse voices and putting events into perspective - helping American citizens get the information they need to make informed decisions.

Yesterday, Goodman witnessed and experienced something very frightening that likely was not mentioned on your local news.

During the opening of the Republican National Convention, she was arrested for asking police where her two producers were. They had been arrested, and because SHE asked a question police did not like, she was arrested too.

After more than 20 years as a journalist, Goodman was doing what reporters are supposed to do. She was gathering news inside the Republican National Convention as well as seeking opposing views outside. Heavens to Betsy - a real journalist telling both sides!

The video of a demure Goodman walking into a group of police who were dressed in riot gear - looking like guards outside a dictator's palace - is surreal. It also convinced me that Republicans would love to provoke citizens practicing their constitutional right of civil disobedience into acting like misguided idiots. Then the mass media, which have been lifting pom-poms for the Bush administration for years, can blame them and make them look like lunatics worthy only of dismissal.

If Amy Goodman had been wearing an American flag or a Republican emblem on her lapel, I doubt she would have landed behind bars.

Voices of dissent have always restored balance after times of extreme, and if those voices are silenced, can we still call ourselves a democracy?

Goodman is one of the few working news persons to ask tough questions of powerful people, and they don't like it.

This is the age of the bully, and those bullies don't want anyone showing America or the world that there is concern about where our country is headed. Bullies don't like discussion, and yesterday Amy Goodman was bullied right into the paddy wagon.

Today, many of those in power want to convince sleeping Americans that dissension is evil - that it's unpatriotic and should be feared.

How can a country formed by revolutionaries not understand that there is no democracy when there is no free press?

To kill those who question is to kill democracy itself, and the end product is a dictatorship.

When Iraq was invaded and the town criers lost their voices for not asking why, Americans lost their faith in journalists who are charged with protecting them.

Now, as a small group fights to wrestle control away from a rich and powerful few owning our conduits of information, dissenting voices are rarely heard - these few own the people who should be asking the questions.

But they don't own Goodman, and that's why she was arrested.

Mass media owned by Viacom (entertainment) General Electric (arms dealers) Disneyland (let's just have some fun) and Fox (Rupert Murdoch, who likes to give John McCain a lift in his jet once in a while) are not about to give newsrooms across the country back to its citizens.

Those sitting in anchor chairs reading the news are often there because they will say and do anything the corporation tells them to, and every one of those corporations has an agenda - and it's not protecting the public.

Our conduits of information have been hijacked; a man, acting like a dictator, is in the White House; the town criers of democracy are getting arrested, and Americans' heads are so full of infotainment, Prozac and Zoloft that getting off the couch seems like a real inconvenience.

There is a reason Americans rally. It is our right, and it is our way of pulling a country moving toward self-destruction back into the arms of the people who love it most - those who believe in all sides getting told; those who believe information without perspective is harmful; those who believe infotainment is not news, and those who believe corporate control of newsrooms is destroying a democracy.

What a sad time for journalism. What a sad time for America.

What will it take for journalists to put down their pom-poms for corporate media, get out of bed with the Bush administration and start fighting to do their jobs again?

Perhaps Amy Goodman's illegal arrest will get Americans to stop listening to those who tell us the enemies are all around us and understand that the enemy is here within these divided states.

-------

Leslie Griffith has been a journalist in newspaper, radio and television for 25 years. One of her first assignments was in Moscow during the Cold War. Griffith has earned two Edward R. Murrow awards; nine Emmys; 37 Emmy nominations; the prestigious Casey Medal for helping to stop the exploitation of the nation's children; seven Radio Television and News Directors Association awards; the 2006 People's Choice Award for Best Anchor in Oakland Magazine, and the 2005 Associated Press Anchor of the Year. Griffith received commendation from The Associated Press for being the first to confirm on September 11, 2001, that the passengers on Flight 93 fought back. Griffith won the National Genesis Award for exposing abuse at Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus in 2005. Griffith is currently working on a book about corporate censorship of the media called "Shut-up and Read." To reach Griffith, go to Lesliegriffithprodctions.com.

Three UK journalists arrested at RNC for alleged rioting

Three UK journalists arrested at RNC for alleged rioting

By James R. Carroll and Lesley Stedman Weidenbener

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Three people connected with the University of Kentucky’s student newspaper were arrested Monday on charges of rioting outside the Republican National Convention.

Those arrested were UK senior Edward Matthews and sophomore Britney McIntosh, both journalism students and photographers for the Kentucky Kernel, and James Winn, a photo advisor for the newspaper.

The three spent Monday night and all day yesterday in the Ramsey County Adult Detention Center in St. Paul, according to a spokeswoman for the Ramsey County, Minn., Sheriff’s Department. She was a volunteer and asked that her name not be used.

Matthews and McIntosh were awaiting formal charges of felony rioting, while Winn was awaiting formal charges for rioting, the spokeswoman said. If formal charges are not filed by noon today, the three would be released, she said.

Kernel Editor-in-chief Brad Luttrell said the photographers were not on assignment for the newspaper. However, he said they intended to go to St. Paul to document the protests.

“I’m very sure none of the three crossed any lines,” he said. “They’re some of the most ethical people we have.”

Luttrell said that’s why he was surprised to get a call about the arrests today.

“We knew the police would be out in force,” he said. “We talked about how to be careful. We know photographers can get arrested.”

The photographers had press passes visible and emergency numbers written on their arms in case they were arrested, Luttrell said.

Winn, the photo advisor, is a former photographer for The Courier-Journal.

Carla Winn said she and her husband were attempting to shoot pictures of a clash between police in riot gear and protesters who were disrupting traffic and breaking windows.

“We came around the corner and there was a rush of people,” she said.

Winn said her husband and the students got rounded up in a group of protesters and journalists that were being arrested by police.

“They didn’t really care if you were media or not,” she said. “He was shooting pictures the whole time. It was obvious he wasn’t a protester.”

She said the last time she had spoken with her husband he had not been told what the charges against him were.

Carla Winn said her husband and the students were being represented by the American Civil Liberties Union.

A call late last night to the ACLU’s office in St. Paul was not immediately returned.

US-Iraqi Agreement: Leaked

US-Iraqi Agreement: Leaked

Full Text

By Raed Jarrar

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I read about a leaked copy of the US-Iraqi agreement a few days ago when a radio station in Iraq mentioned some of its details, then it was mentioned in some Arab newspapers like Al-Qabas and Al-Sharq Al-Awsat. A couple of days ago, one Iraqi website (linked to an Iraqi armed resistance group) published the leaked draft on their web page for less than a couple of days before their website went offline. (Thankfully, I downloaded the 21 pages agreement and saved them before their server went down)

I spent this weekend translating it, and just finished now. you can read the 27 articles August 6th draft below. The title of this draft is "Agreement regarding the activities and presence of U.S. forces, and its withdrawal from Iraq", but this is the same agreement that is referred to as a "status of forces agreement" or "SOFA" or framework or whatever. It's the result of months of negotiations after Bush and Al-Maliki signed the "Declaration of Principles for a Long-Term Relationship of Cooperation and Friendship Between the Republic of Iraq and the United States of America" by the end of last year.

This leaked draft is a treasure of information. It's the first time any document related to this topic is made public. It shows how weak the Iraqi negotiations team is (it is really pathetic to read their "suggestions" on how to fix the disaster of an agreement).

There are many outrageous articles in the agreement that violates Iraq's sovereignty and independence, and gives the U.S. occupation authorities unprecedented rights and privileges, but what has draw my attention the most (so far) are three major points:

1- the agreement does not discuss anything about a complete US withdrawal from Iraq. Instead, it talks about withdrawing "combat troops" without defining what is the difference between combat troops and other troops. It is very clear that the US is planning to stay indefinitely in permanent bases in Iraq (or as the agreement calls them: "installations and areas agreed upon") where the U.S. will continue training and supporting Iraqis armed forces for the foreseeable future.
2- the agreement goes into effect when the two executive branches exchange "memos", instead of waiting for Iraqi parliament's ratification. This is really dangerous, and it is shocking because both the Iraqi and U.S. executive branches have been assuring the Iraqi parliament that no agreement will go into effect without being ratified by Iraq's MPs.
3- this agreement is the blueprint for keeping other occupation armies (aka Multi-national forces) in Iraq on the long run. This explains the silence regarding what will happed to other occupiers (like the U.K. forces) after the expiration of the UN mandate at the end of this year.

It is really disturbing to read how the U.S. government is still going down the same path of intervention and domination in Iraq.

This agreement will not be accepted by the Iraqi people and their elected representatives in the Iraqi parliament, and if the U.S. and Iraqi executive branches try to consider it valid anyway it will lead to more violence in Iraq.

Agreement Regarding the Activities and Presence of U.S. forces,

and its Withdrawal from Iraq

August, 6th, 2008 4:00pm

Foreword

Iraq and the U.S., referred to here as “both sides”, affirm the importance of: supporting their joint security, participating in global peace and stability, fighting terrorism, cooperation in the fields of security and defense, and deterring threats against Iraq’s sovereignty, security, and territorial integrity.

Both sides affirm that this cooperation is based on mutual respect of both sides’ sovereignty in accordance with the United Nations’ goals and principles.

Both sides want to achieve mutual understanding to support their collaboration, without jeopardizing Iraq’s sovereignty over its land, water, and sky, and based on the mutual guarantees given as equal and independent sovereign partners.

Both sides have agreed on:

Article One

Scope and goal

This agreement specifies the rules and basic needs that regulate the temporary presence and activities of the U.S. troops and its withdrawal from Iraq.

Article Two

Definitions

1- “Installations and areas agreed upon” are the installations and areas agreed upon owned by the Iraqi government and used by the U.S. forces from the date this agreement goes into effect. Such installations and areas agreed upon will be decided in a list provided by the U.S. forces and reviewed by both sides. Such “installations and areas agreed upon” include those provided to the U.S. forces during the time of this agreement after the approval of both sides.

Iraqi suggestion: The Iraqi delegation has asked the U.S. delegation to submit a list of structures and areas requested to be discussed and agreed upon and add it to the agreement as an appendix.

2- “U.S. forces” is the entity that includes the members of the armed forces, civilian members, and all the equipments and materials owned by the U.S. forces in Iraq.

3- “Members of the armed forces” include any member of the U.S. army, navy, air force, marines or coast guard.

4- “Civilian members” include any civilian working for the U.S. Ministry of Defense, excluding those members who usually reside in Iraq.

5- “U.S. contractors” or “workers hired by U.S. contractors” include non Iraqi persons and entities and employees who are U.S. or third country citizens and who are in Iraq to supply goods, services or security to the U.S. forces or on behalf of it in accordance to a contract. This does not include Iraqi entities.

6- “Official vehicles”: commercial vehicles that may be modified for security reasons, and are designed originally to transport individuals on different terrains.

7- “Military vehicles”: include all vehicles used by the U.S. armed forces, that were originally designed for combat operations, and have special numbers and signs in accordance to the regulations and laws of U.S. armed forces.

8- “defense equipment” include systems, weapons, ammunition, equipment, and materials used in conventional wars only, that the U.S. forces need in accordance to this agreement, and that are not connected in any way to weapons of mass destruction (chemical weapons, nuclear weapons, radiological weapons, biological weapons, and waste related to such weapons).

9- “storage”: keeping defense equipment needed by the U.S. forces for activities agreed upon in this agreement.

10- “taxes and custom”: include all taxes, customs (including border customs), and any other tariffs enforced by the Iraqi government and its entities and provinces in accordance to Iraqi laws and regulations. This does not include money paid for the Iraqi government in exchange for services required or used by the U.S. forces.

Article Three

Rule of Law

All members of the U.S. armed forces and civilian members must follow Iraqi laws, customs, traditions, and agreements while conducting military operations in accordance to this agreement. They must also avoid any activities that do not agree with the text and spirit of this agreement. It is the responsibility of the U.S. to take all necessary measures to insure this.

Article Four

Responsibilities

For the purpose of deterring external and/or internal threats against the Republic of Iraq, and to continue the collaboration to defeat Al-Qaeda in Iraq and other outlaw groups, temporarily, both sides have agreed on:

1- The Iraqi government asks for the temporary help of the U.S. forces to support Iraq’s effort in maintaining security and stability of Iraq, including the collaboration in conducting operations against Al-Qaeda and other terrorist groups and outlaw groups, including the remains of the former regime.

- Military operations that are conducted in accordance to this agreement with the approval of the Iraqi government and with full coordination with Iraqi authorities. Coordinating such military operations will be supervised by a joint mobile operations command centers (JMOCC) created in accordance with this agreement. Any military issues that are not resolved by these centers are submitted to a joint committee of ministries.

3- Operations must respect the Iraqi constitution and laws, and Iraqi sovereignty and national interests as defined by the Iraqi government. The U.S. forces must respect the Iraqi laws, traditions, and customs.

4- Both sides will continue their efforts in collaboration and improving Iraq’s security capacity, including training, supplying, supporting, founding, and upgrading administrative systems.

5- There is nothing in this agreement that limits either sides’ rights of self defense.

Article Five

Property Ownership

1- Iraq owns all non-mobile buildings and structures that are built on the ground in the installations and areas agreed upon, including those built, used, enhanced, or changed by the U.S. forces.

2- The U.S. is responsible for all expenses of construction, remodeling, modification in installations and areas agreed upon used exclusively by the U.S.. The U.S. forces will consult with the Iraqi authorities regarding the works of construction, remodeling, and modification. The U.S. will seek the Iraqi government’s approval for major construction or modification projects. In case of shared use of installations and areas agreed upon both sides are responsible for expenses. The U.S. forces will pay the fees of services used exclusively by the U.S.Both sides cover the expenses of shared installations and areas agreed upon.

3- In the case of a discovery of historic or cultural sites, or the discovery of a strategic natural resource, in the installations and areas agreed upon, all work of construction or modification or remodeling must stop immediately, and the Iraqi representatives in the joint committee must be informed.

4- The United States will return all installations and areas agreed upon and any non-mobile buildings that were constructed, remodeled, or modified under this agreement, according to mechanisms and priorities agreed upon by the joint committee. They will be returned to Iraq without charge, unless both sides agree otherwise.

5- The U.S. will return all installations and areas agreed upon that have special cultural or political importance and that were constructed, remodeled, or modified under this agreement, according to mechanisms and priorities agreed upon by the joint committee. When this agreement goes into effect, the U.S. will immediately return the properties listed in the attached appendix and mentioned in the letter sent by the U.S. embassy to the Iraqi minister of foreign affairs dated (…)

6- What remains of installations and areas agreed upon will be returned to the Iraqi authorities after this agreement expires or if the U.S. forces no longer needs them.

7- The U.S. forces and U.S. contractors maintain their ownership of all equipment, materials, supplements, mobile structures, and other mobile properties imported to Iraq or obtained in Iraq in accordance to the agreement.

Article Six

Usage of Installations and areas agreed upon

1- Iraq guarantees the accessibility of the U.S. forces and U.S. contractors to installations and areas agreed upon according to what both sides agree on, while insuring that Iraq’s sovereignty is not undermined. Installations and areas agreed upon will be returned to Iraq without charge, unless both sides agree otherwise.

2- Iraq authorizes the U.S. forces to practice all the authorities and have all the rights to manage construct, use, maintain, and secure installations and areas agreed upon. Both sides coordinate and collaborate regarding shared installations and areas agreed upon.

3- The United States forces control the entrances of the installations and areas agreed upon. Both sides coordinate their work in shared installations and areas agreed upon based on mechanisms put by the joint military operations committee.

Article 7

Storage of defense equipments

1- The U.S. forces are authorized to store in the installations and areas agreed upon systems, weapons, ammunition, equipment, and materials used by the U.S. forces and related to the U.S. temporary mission in Iraq. Weapons that are used by the U.S. forces are not connected in any way to weapons of mass destruction (chemical weapons, nuclear weapons, radiological weapons, biological weapons, and waste related to such weapons). The U.S. forces control the use and transportation of such weapons. The U.S. forces guarantees than no weapons or ammunition will be stored near residential areas, and it will inform the Iraqi government with important information regarding their amount and types.

Article 8

Environmental Protection

Both sides agree to implement this agreement while protecting nature and human security and health. The U.S. complies with Iraqi environmental laws, and Iraq should comply with its laws and regulations to protect the health of the U.S. armed forces.

Article 9

Movement of vehicles, ships, and airplanes

1- U.S. forces’ vehicles and ships are permitted to enter and exit and move inside Iraqi territories for the purposes of this agreement. The joint committee puts the appropriate regulations to control this movement.

2- U.S. government airplanes and civilian airplanes contracted with the U.S. Department of Defense are authorized to fly in the Iraqi airspace, refueling in the air, landing and departing in Iraq. The Iraqi authorities will give a one year authorization to the mentioned airplanes to land and depart from Iraq for the purposes of this agreement. No parties are allowed aboard U.S. government airplanes and civilian airplanes contracted with the U.S. Department of Defense and related ships and vehicles without U.S. forces consent, and they cannot be searched. The joint committee puts the appropriate regulations to facilitate their movement.

3- Air traffic control and surveillance are handed over immediately to the Iraqi authorities as soon as this agreement goes into effect.

4- Iraq can ask for the U.S. forces to temporarily take responsibility of the control and surveillance of the Iraqi airspace, and these tasks will be handed over to the Iraqi government upon its request. The Iraqi authorities will participate in the control and surveillance of the Iraqi airspace during the temporary period.

5- U.S. government airplanes and civilian airplanes contracted with the U.S. Department of Defense are not subject to taxes or related fees, including any fees related to flying in Iraqi airspace, refueling in the air, landing and departing in Iraq. Also, U.S. ships and civilian ships contracted with the U.S. Department of Defense are not subject to taxes or related fees during using Iraqi ports. Airplanes and ships are not subject to any search, and all Iraqi requirements of registration are waived.

6- U.S. forces pay money for any services or materials obtained or received in Iraq.

7- Both sides exchange maps and other information on mines and other obstacles in the Iraqi lands and waters that might jeopardize either side’s movement in Iraq’s land and waters.

Article Ten

Contracting

U.S. forces are permitted to sign contracts in accordance to U.S. law to obtain materials and services in Iraq, including construction services. U.S. forces can obtain such materials and services from any source, and they must respect Iraq laws when signing contracts, and they will choose Iraqi contractors when possible as long as their bids have the best value. The U.S. forces will inform the Iraqi authorities of the Iraqi importers and Iraqi contractors names and the amount of relevant contracts.

Article Eleven

Services and telecommunications

1- U.S. forces are permitted to produce and generate water and electricity and other services for the installations and areas agreed upon in coordination with the Iraqi authorities through the joint committee.

2- The Iraqi government owns all frequencies. The Iraqi authorities allocate special waves for the U.S. forces based on what both sides decide through the joint committee (JMOCC). The U.S. forces will give these waves back after it is done with using them.

- The U.S. forces are permitted to operate their own wired and wireless telecommunications (according to the definition of wired and wireless telecommunications in the Convention of the International Telecommunication Union of 1992), including all the special services needed to secure the full capacity of telecommunications operations. The U.S. operates its systems in accordance to the Convention of the International Telecommunication Union whenever it is possible to implement these regulations.

4- For the purposes of this agreement, all fees related to the U.S. usage of telecommunications frequencies are waived, including any administrative or other related fees.

5- U.S. forces will coordinate with the Iraqi authorities regarding any telecommunications infrastructure projects outside the installations and areas agreed upon.

Article Twelve

Legal Jurisdictions

1- The U.S. has exclusive legal jurisdiction over U.S. armed forces members and civilian members inside and outside installations and areas agreed upon.Iraqi Suggestion: the Iraqi delegation has suggested the following:

The U.S. has the legal jurisdictions over the U.S. armed forces members and civilian members inside installations and areas agreed upon at all times, and outside the installations and areas agreed upon while conducting missions except for intentional crimes and major mistakes.

U.S. suggestion: The U.S. delegation suggested the following:

As a temporary regulation, and until the withdrawal of the U.S. combat forces is complete as indicated in paragraph 1 of article 26, until the combat missions are over the U.S. has the exclusive legal jurisdiction over U.S. armed forces members and civilian members inside and outside installations and areas agreed upon.

2- The U.S. will give its full attention to any complaint submitted by Iraq over intentional crimes and major mistakes that break Iraqi laws committed by U.S. armed forces members and civilian members. All complaints submitted by the Iraqi legal authorities will be dealt with by the joint committee and settled by mutual agreement of both sides.

Iraqi Suggestion: the Iraqi delegation has suggested the following:

Iraq has legal jurisdiction over U.S. armed forces members and civilian members who commit intentional crimes or major mistakes that break the Iraqi laws. The related joint committee concerning jurisdictions takes the appropriate action to solve disputes based on mutual agreement.

3- Iraq has legal jurisdiction over U.S. contractors and their employees when they break Iraqi laws.

4- U.S. forces will inform the Iraqi authorities of any criminal investigations that relate to members of the U.S. armed forces or civilian members involved in a crime against a victim that usually lives in Iraq. Both sides put the appropriate regulations to contact people related to incidents, provide details of the case and court dates, and help persons involved contact lawyers in accordance to article 21 of this agreement. The U.S. will work on holding the court in Iraq when that is appropriate and when both sides agree on it. In case the court was based in the U.S., the United States will make its best effort to facilitate bringing victims into the court.

5- Both sides agree to help each other in incidents’ investigations and collecting evidences to support a fair judgment.

6- All members of U.S. armed forces or civilian members who get arrested by the Iraqi authorities must be surrendered immediately to the U.S. forces authorities.

Iraqi Suggestion: the Iraqi delegation has suggested the following:

All members of U.S. armed forces or civilian members who get arrested by the Iraqi authorities must be surrendered to the U.S. forces authorities within 24 hours.

Article Thirteen

Baring Guns and wearing uniforms

U.S. armed forces members and civilian members are authorized to carry U.S. government guns during their presence in Iraq based on the authorities and orders given to them. U.S. armed forces members are also permitted to wear their official uniforms during duty in Iraq.

Article Fourteen

Entering and Exiting

1- For the purposes of the agreement, U.S. armed forces members and civilian members can enter and exit Iraq from official borders using U.S.-issued ID cards. The joint committee puts a mechanism for the Iraqi verification process.

2- For purposes of verification the U.S. forces will submit to the Iraqi authorities a list with the names of U.S. armed forces members and civilian members entering and exiting Iraq or through the Installations and areas agreed upon.

3- The Iraqi entering and exiting laws can be implemented on others, but not on the U.S. armed forces members and civilian members.

Article Fifteen

Importing and Exporting

1- For the purposes of the agreement, including training and services, the U.S. forces and their contractors are permitted to import into Iraq and export from Iraq and re-export from Iraq and transport and use any equipments, supplements, materials, technology, training, or services except for those materials banned in Iraq at the time of signing this agreement. These materials are not subject to search or to license requirement or any other limitations. Exporting Iraqi goods by the U.S. forces is not subject to search or any other limitations either except the license discussed later in this agreement. The joint committee will coordinate with the Iraqi ministry of trade to facilitate getting the required export license in accordance to the Iraqi laws related to exporting goods by U.S. forces.

2- U.S. forces members and civilian members are permitted to import, re-export, and use their personal equipment and materials for consumption or personal use. Such materials are not subject to any licenses, limitations, taxes and customs or other fees defined in paragraph 10 of article 2, except for required or obtained services. The amount of imports must be reasonable and for personal use. The U.S. forces authorities will put the needed regulations to insure no materials or articles of cultural or historical value are exported.

3- Materials mentioned in paragraph 2 will be searched in a speedy fashion in a specific location agreed upon according to the joint committee.

4- If the tax exempt materials in accordance to this agreement were to be sold in Iraq to individuals or entities not included in tax exemption, taxes and customs as defined in paragraph 10 of article 2 are to be paid by the buyer.

5- It is not permissible to import any of the materials mentioned in this article for commercial reasons.

Article Sixteen

Taxes

1- Services and goods obtained by U.S. forces in Iraq for official use are not subject to taxes and fees as defined in paragraph 10 of article 2.

2- U.S. forces members and civilian members are not subject to any taxes or fees in Iraq except for services obtained or requested by them.

Article Seventeen

Licenses and Permits

1- Iraq agrees to accept valid U.S.-issued drivers’ licenses held by U.S. forces members, civilian members and U.S. contractors without subjecting them to any tests or operation fees for vehicles, ships, and airplanes owned by the U.S. forces in Iraq.

2- Iraq agrees to accept valid U.S.-issued drivers’ licenses held by U.S. forces members, civilian members and U.S. contractors to operate their personal cars in Iraq without subjecting them to any tests or fees.

Article Eighteen

Official and Military Vehicles

For the purposes of this article:

1- Officials vehicles are commercial vehicles that might be modified for security reasons, and they will carry Iraqi license plates to be agreed upon by both sides. Iraqi authorities will issue, based on a request by the U.S. forces authorities, license plates for U.S. forces official cars without fees, and U.S. forces will reimburse the Iraqi authorities for the cost of these plates.

2- Iraq agrees to accept the validity of U.S.-issued licenses and registrations for the U.S. forces official vehicles.

3- All U.S. military vehicles are exempt from registration and licenses requirements. These vehicles will be identified with distinguishable numbers and signs.

Article Nineteen

Support Services

1- U.S. forces, or others acting on its behalf, are permitted to create and manage activities and entities inside the installations and areas agreed upon. This includes providing services to U.S. forces members, civilian members, and their contractors. These activities and entities might include military post offices, financial services, stores selling food, medicine, goods and other services, and it includes other areas providing entertainment and telecommunications. All of the mentioned services do not require a permit.

2- Radio, media, and entertainment activities that reache beyond the installations and areas agreed upon must comply with Iraqi laws.

3- Support services are for the exclusive use of the U.S. forces members, civilian members, their contractors, and other entities to be agreed upon. U.S. forces will take the required measures to ensure none of the mentioned support services are misused, and to insure services and goods will not be re-sold to unauthorized individuals. The U.S. forces will limit radio and TV broadcasting to authorized receivers.

4- Entities and facilities offering services indicated this is article enjoy the same tax exemptions offered to the U.S. forces, including those exemptions mentioned in articles 15 and 16 of this agreement. These entities and facilities offering services are to be operated in accordance to U.S. regulations, and will not be obligated to collect or pay any taxes or fees on its operations.

5- Outgoing mail, sent through military postal services, is verified by the U.S. authorities and is exempt from being searched, examined, or confiscated by the Iraqi authorities.

Article Twenty

Currency and Foreign exchange

1- U.S. forces are permitted to use any amount of U.S. currency or bonds for the purposes of this agreement. Using Iraqi currency in U.S. military banks must be in compliance with Iraqi laws.

2- U.S. forces are permitted to distribute or exchange any amount of currency to the U.S. forces members, civilians’ members, and their contractors for purposes of travelling, including vacations.

3- U.S. forces will not take Iraqi currency out of Iraq, and will take all required measures to insure none of the U.S. forces members, civilian members, or their contractors take Iraqi currency out of Iraq.

Article Twenty One

Claims

1- Except for contract related claims, both sides waive their rights to request compensation because of any harm, loss, or destruction of property, or request compensation for injury or death of forces members or civilian members from both sides occurring during their official duties.

2- Us forces authorities will pay fair and reasonable compensation to settle third party claims arising due to a member of the armed forces or civilian members during their official duties, or due to non-combat accidents caused by U.S. armed forces. The U.S. forces’ authorities may settle claims caused by non-official duties actions. Claims must be dealt with urgently by the U.S. forces’ authorities in accordance to U.S. laws and regulations. When settling claims, the U.S. forces authorities will take in consideration any investigation reports, opinions regarding responsibility, or opinions regarding amount of damages issued by the Iraqi authorities.

- The joint committee will study issues related to claims resulting from paragraph 1 and 2 of this article and find resolutions in accordance to U.S. and Iraqi laws.

Article Twenty Two

Detention

1- All detention operations in this agreement must be conducted in accordance to the Iraqi law, constitution, sovereignty and national interest as decided by the Iraqi government in accordance to the international law.

- All individuals detained by U.S. forces must be prepared to be handed over to the Iraqi authorities within 24 hours.

3- No detention operations can take place without a warrant issued by the specialized Iraqi authorities in accordance to the Iraqi law.

4- When Iraqi authorities conduct detention operations, they may ask for the help of the U.S. forces.

5- Detainees are kept in locations prepared by the Iraqi authorities and under its exclusive supervision and control.

6- U.S. forces are not permitted to search houses and other properties without a judicial warrant, unless there was an active combat operation, and in coordinating with the specialized Iraqi authorities.

Article Twenty three

Extending this agreement to other countries

1- Iraq may reach an agreement with any other country participating in the Multi-National forces to ask for their help in achieving security and stability in Iraq.

2- Iraq is permitted to reach an agreement that includes any of the articles mentioned in this agreement with any country or international organization to ask for help in achieving security and stability in Iraq.

Article twenty four

Implementation

The following entities are responsible of the implementation of this agreement and the settlement of any disputes over its interpretation and application:

1- A joint committee of ministers from both sides that deal with the basic issues needed to interpret the implementation of this agreement.

2- A joint committee to coordinate military operations. This committee will be formed by the joint committee of ministers and includes representatives from both sides. The joint committee to coordinate military operations will be jointly led by both sides.

3- A joint committee formed by both sides that includes representatives chosen by both sides. This committee deals with all issues related to this agreement that do not fall under the mandate of the joint committee to coordinate military operations; this committee will jointly led by both sides.

4- Sub-committees in all different areas created by the joint committee. Subcommittees will discuss issues related to interpretation and implementation of this agreement each in accordance to its expertise.

Article twenty five

Implementation Arrangements

Both sides enter into implementation arrangements to execute this agreement.

Article Twenty Six

Targeted times to handover complete security responsibilities to the Iraqi security forces, and withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq

Iraqi Suggestion: the Iraqi delegation has suggested the following title to this article:

Transferring security responsibilities to Iraqi authorities, and the withdrawal of the U.S. forces from Iraq

U.S. Suggestion: the U.S. delegation has suggested combining paragraphs 1 and 2 as follows:

1- Both sides have agreed on the following time targets to handover complete security responsibilities to the Iraqi security forces and the withdrawal of the U.S. forces from Iraq:

A- U.S. combat troops will withdraw from Iraq completely at the latest on (…)

B- U.S. forces will withdraw from all cities, towns, and villages at latest by June 30, 2009 unless the Iraqi authorities request otherwise.

Note: the head of the U.S. delegation offered to accept the new title only if their combined paragraph is accepted, and he linked the two as one deal

3- All U.S. combat troops regroup in installations and areas agreed upon after the date mentioned in paragraph 2 of this article.

4- After the withdrawal of all combat troops as mentioned in paragraph 1 of this article, the rest of these forces will stay based on a request from the Iraqi government in accordance to this agreement. The joint committee for operations and coordination will determine the tasks and level of the troops that will focus on training and supporting Iraqi security forces.

5- Both sides review the progress towards achieving dates mentioned in this article and the conditions that might lead to one side asking the other to extend or reduce the time periods mentioned in paragraph 1 and paragraph 2 of this article. Any extension or reduction of the time period is subject to both side's approval.

6- U.S. forces may withdraw from Iraq before the dates indicated in this article if either of the two sides should so request. Both sides recognize the Iraqi government's sovereign right to request a withdrawal of U.S. forces at anytime.

Article Twenty Seven

Contract Validity

1- This agreement is valid for (…) years unless it is terminated earlier based on a request from either sides or extended with the approval of both sides.

2- This agreement can be modified with the written approval of both sides and in accordance to constitutional procedures in both countries.

3- Cancellation of this agreement requires a written notice provided on year in advance.

4- This agreement goes into effect on the day that diplomatic memos confirming all constitutional procedures have been met in both countries are exchanged.

5- These memos will be exchanged before the expiration of UN resolution number 1790 at latest by December 31st, 2008.

Translated from the original Arabic by Raed Jarrar - Visit his blog http://raedinthemiddle.blogspot.com