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Monday, Sep 01st

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A focus on violence by U.S. soldiers back from war

Nine current or former members of Fort Carson's Fourth Brigade Combat Team have killed someone or were charged with killings in the last three years after returning from Iraq. Five of the slayings took place last year alone. In addition, charges of domestic violence, rape and sexual assault have risen sharply.

Prodded by Senator Ken Salazar, Democrat of Colorado, the base commander began an investigation of the soldiers accused of homicide. An army task force is reviewing their recruitment, medical and service records, as well as their personal histories, to determine if the military could have done something to prevent the violence. The inquiry was recently expanded to include other serious violent crimes.

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Inheriting Bush's blinkers

It ought not to be difficult to condemn Israel's murder of civilians and bombing of civilian infrastructure including hundreds of private homes, universities, schools, mosques, civil police stations and ministries, and the building housing the only freely-elected Arab parliament.

It ought not to be risky or disruptive to US foreign policy to say that Israel has an unconditional obligation under the Fourth Geneva Convention to lift its lethal, months-old blockade preventing adequate food, fuel, surgical supplies, medications and other basic necessities from reaching Gaza.

But in the looking-glass world of American politics, Israel, with its powerful first-world army, is the victim, and Gaza – the besieged and blockaded home to 1.5 million immiserated people, half of them children and eighty percent refugees – is the aggressor against whom no cruelty is apparently too extreme.

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Bigger Than Bush

The fault, however, lies not in Republicans’ stars but in themselves. Forty years ago the G.O.P. decided, in effect, to make itself the party of racial backlash. And everything that has happened in recent years, from the choice of Mr. Bush as the party’s champion, to the Bush administration’s pervasive incompetence, to the party’s shrinking base, is a consequence of that decision.

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The Abramoff Scandal is Expanding: More GOP woes for 2009...

Quietly, the professionals at the Department of Justice have been working this massive scandal—that is complex by design—to build cases that move from the outer edges to the heart of political corruption in Washington DC. Abramoff is just a doorway in—not an endpoint—and prosecutors are zeroing in on some big fish in a corrupt stream.

The investigation was very active in 2008 and expanded its scope. More shoes are dropping. More details are being exposed. This is why the GOP fears the future, Obama and Eric Holder.

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The party's over as US government seizes control of Citigroup expenses

The US government has seized control of Citigroup's staff Christmas party budget and set tight restrictions on the use of its corporate jet in exchange for its $45bn (£28bn) bail-out.

The measures are among a raft of restrictions on expenses detailed in the small print of filing made by Citi on New Year's Eve with the US financial regulator, the Securities and Exchange Commission.

In a memo to staff, Pandit said he and the chairman, Sir Win Bischoff, would forgo year-end bonuses for 2008 after the huge banking group lost three-quarters of its market value and was forced to go cap in hand to the treasury.

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Blaming The Victims: The Dominant Media Vilify Hamas

The dominant media also in their customary role - guarding the powerful and suppressing uncomfortable truths in lieu of full and accurate reporting. They're in high gear over Gaza. They vilify Hamas, stay silent about Gazan suffering, are mute on the crippling blockade, its devastating human toll, and practically champion Israel's call for "all-out war" and the slaughter of defenseless men, women, children and infants.

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What helped the rise of Hamas? U.S., Israel policies, turns out

In August 2005, when Israel unilaterally withdrew from the narrow coastal territory, then-Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon promised it would make Israel safer. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice hailed the move as "historic."

Israel had left behind a political vacuum, however. That, along with decisions by Israel, the U.S. and Palestinian rivals inadvertently boosted the militant Islamic group Hamas into power. Hamas is stronger than ever, and Israel's air strikes risk bolstering it further, according to current and former U.S. officials, diplomats and analysts.

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TVNL Comment: "Democracy" means electing leaders the US can manipulate. But they hate us for our freedom.....

Lawsuit would challenge oath, invocation

A California physician and attorney whose legal fight against the words "under God" in the pledge of allegiance has drawn national attention now says he will join a lawsuit seeking the removal of all references to God and religion from President-elect Barack Obama's inauguration ceremony.

Michael Newdow believes references to God or religion are unconstitutional. He wants to remove the phrase "so help me God" from the oath of office and block the invocation prayer from Pastor Rick Warren.

Newdow says the suit will be filed Tuesday in D.C. District Court. The plaintiffs include 17 other people and atheist and humanist organizations. He sued to remove religion from inaugurations in 2001 and 2005 but lost both cases.

TVNL Comment: We could not agree with this more!

Source...

NASA faults equipment in Columbia shuttle disaster

A NASA report on the last minutes of Space Shuttle Columbia cited problems with the crew's helmets, spacesuits and restraints, which resulted in "lethal trauma" to the seven astronauts aboard.

But the report also acknowledged that "the breakup of the crew module ... was not survivable by any currently existing capability."

The spacecraft broke up while re-entering Earth's atmosphere near the end of its mission on February 1, 2003.

The NASA report found the astronauts knew for about 40 seconds that they did not have control of the shuttle before they likely were knocked unconscious as Columbia broke apart around them.

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