Joe Bageant gives us a look into Burt's Tavern.
Those are my people, too.
Gumbo and Beignets
Sitting at the heart of a distant galaxy, the black hole appears to be about 12.7 billion years old, which means it formed just one billion years after the universe began and is one of the oldest supermassive black holes ever known.
The black hole, researchers said, is big enough to hold 1,000 of our own Solar Systems and weighs about as much as all the stars in the Milky Way.
"The universe was awfully young at the time this was formed," said astronomer Roger Romani, a Stanford University associate professor whose team found the object. "It's a bit of a challenge to understand how this black hole got enough mass to reach its size."
Romani told SPACE.com that the black hole is unique because it dates back to just after a period researchers call the 'Dark Ages,' a time when the universe cooled down after the initial Big Bang 13.7 billion years ago. That cooling period lasted about one billion years, when the first black holes, stars and galaxies began to appear, he added. The research appeared June 10 on the online version of Astrophysical Journal Letters.
Invisible to the naked eye, black holes can only be detected by the radiation they spew and their gravitational influence on their stellar neighbors. Astronomers generally agree that black holes come in at least two types, stellar and supermassive. Stellar black holes form from collapsed, massive stars a few times the mass of the Sun, while their supermassive counterparts can reach billions of solar masses.
A supermassive black hole a few million times the mass of the Sun is thought to sit at the center of our own Milky Way galaxy, and some of the largest supermassives seen date have reached up to two billion solar masses, researchers said.
Weighing a black hole heavyweight
Determining a precise mass for the black hole found by Romani's team, dubbed Q0906+6930, is a bit tricky though since it's so far away.
"Very massive black holes like this are so rare, that one should really be a little suspicious at first," Romani said.
The black hole, called a blazar because it spews jets of radiation in roughly the direction of Earth, sits at the center of a galaxy about 12.7 billion light-years away in the constellation Ursa Major. One light-year is the distance light travels in one year, is about six trillion miles (10 trillion kilometers).
Because the blazar is so distant, there are no nearby neighbors to scan for potential gravitational effects, and much of its radiation is absorbed by gas and dust lying between it and the Earth, Romani said.
"It really is too far away to do a direct orbital measurement to help determine its mass," Romani said, adding that he and his colleagues had to estimate the mass based on a quantitative method that includes measuring particle velocity and the Doppler shift of its infrared emission lines. "The best thing to do is study it in a broader region of the spectrum, to get more emission lines."
Riverboat Horseracing Fails Utterly
BILOXI, MS—Owners of the nation's first riverboat-horseracing facility announced its closure Tuesday, minutes after the inaugural race. "I guess we planned it pretty poorly," said Ronald Frisch, president and CEO of Gambling Concepts Unlimited. "We figured that once we opened the dining-room doors, the horses would know to race through the grand buffet room to the other side of the boat." Twenty-five people were trampled to death in the chaos that resulted, and eight horses drowned when they fell from the riverboat's lower deck. Gambling Concepts Unlimited officials said they still plan to hold next month's airborne rodeo as scheduled.
Cheney, who visited both clubhouses after batting practice, watched part of the game from the box of Yankees owner George Steinbrenner and part from a first-row seat next to the Yankees dugout, where he sat between New York Gov. George Pataki and former New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani. Cheney was booed when he was shown on the right-field videoboard during the seventh-inning stretch.
Three U.S. soldiers will testify that a former CIA contractor beat an Afghan detainee with a heavy flashlight 10 to 30 times and kicked the man so hard he came off the ground and later begged to be shot, a prosecutor said Friday.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Jim Candelmo described the alleged assault in arguing that the contractor, David Passaro, should be detained until his trial. He is the first American to face civilian charges over prisoner abuse in either Iraq or Afghanistan.
Defense attorneys asked that Passaro be released into the custody of a neighbor, a Special Operations soldier at Fort Bragg. No ruling was immediately issued.
Passaro, 38, faces four counts of assault and assault with a dangerous weapon — the flashlight — on Abdul Wali, 28, who died three days after the alleged attack last June at a U.S. base in the Afghan town of Asadabad.
If convicted, Passaro faces up to 40 years in prison and a $1 million fine.
The prosecutor said 82nd Airborne soldiers will testify that during one interrogation session, Passaro left the room and Wali begged one of the paratroopers guarding him "to please shoot me before the defendant returned."
Candelmo argued that Passaro is dangerous and poses a flight risk, with aliases, hidden assets and extensive training in covert military operations.
The former Army special operations soldier was working as a CIA contractor while on leave from a civilian job with the Fort Bragg-headquartered Special Operations Command.
Defense lawyers have cited an Afghan governor's comment that Wali died of a heart attack, but a spokesman for that governor recently said he suspected heart problems only because U.S. officials insisted the man was not mistreated.
U.S. officials say an autopsy was not conducted to find the cause of death.
Separately, the lawyer for a soldier accused in the Abu Ghraib prisoner abuse scandal said Friday the military might be incapable of handling the case because key players will not step forward for fear of incriminating themselves.
The comments by the lawyer of Spc. Sabrina Harman came a day after her company commander testified that the head of military intelligence at Abu Ghraib was present the night a plan was hatched to cover up the death of a detainee, apparently during questioning in November.
Harman, 26, of Lorton, Va., faces possible court-martial for her alleged involvement in abusing Iraqi detainees at the facility outside Baghdad. She appeared Friday for the second day of an Article 32 hearing, the military equivalent of a grand jury hearing, called to determine whether facts in the case are sufficient to warrant a court-martial or other action.
Harman's attorney, Frank Spinner, told a pool reporter after the hearing that he "has no doubt that Iraqi detainees have been physically abused on a wide scale" that would be "beyond the military's ability ever to prosecute."
"The chain of command — they know it, too — and the problem is that people won't step up and admit it," Spinner said. "To do it now would only subject them to prosecution."
On Thursday, Harman's company commander, Capt. Donald J. Reese, testified that he was asked to go to a shower room at the prison one night in November and found a group of intelligence personnel standing around the corpse of a bloodied detainee.
Col. Thomas M. Pappas, Abu Ghraib's commander of military intelligence, was among those who were there, discussing what to do with the body, Reese said.
"I'm not going down for this alone," Pappas said, according to Reese. No medics were called.
Reese told the court that an Army colonel named "Jordan" sent a soldier to the mess hall for ice to preserve the body overnight. An autopsy of the detainee the following day determined he died of a blood clot resulting from a blow to the head, Reese said.
The testimony did not further identify the colonel. However, the Taguba report on prison abuse at Abu Ghraib notes that Lt. Col. Steven L. Jordan was the head of the interrogation center at the prison.
Reese said in his testimony that military intelligence clearly controlled the cellblock where Harman's platoon worked the night shift with other members of her platoon.
An Army report obtained by The New Yorker magazine quotes Harman as saying her job was to keep detainees awake.
"My MPs, they were directed by the (military intelligence) people for what they wanted and how they wanted it," he said.
Harman is one of six soldiers still facing charges in the scandal that emerged in April when photographs depicting the abuse appeared on CBS News' 60 Minutes II.
Pappas, Jordan and Reese do not face criminal charges at present. No soldier with a rank above staff sergeant has been charged, although the Denver Post reported this week that two chief warrant officers will soon be charged.
However, all three officers were singled out for criticism in the Taguba report. Taguba recommended each man be reprimanded for offenses like "failing to ensure that Soldiers under his direct command knew and understood the protections afforded to detainees in the Geneva Convention Relative to the Treatment of Prisoners of War."
Also Friday, the Army replaced Maj. Gen. George Fay with a more senior general as chief investigator of military intelligence practices at the Abu Ghraib prison.
The new lead investigator is Lt. Gen. Anthony R. Jones, deputy commander of the Army Training and Doctrine Command. Army officials said the decision to put Jones in charge was not a reflection on Fay's performance but an effort to resolve a protocol issue in the investigation.
At issue was the need to interview Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez as part of the investigation. Sanchez is the top American commander in Iraq, and the Army wanted a lead investigator who was at least equal in rank to the three-star Sanchez. Fay is a two-star. Jones technically is senior to Sanchez because he has held his three-star rank slightly longer.
As a former POW in Vietnam, I know what life in a foreign prison is like. To a large degree, I credit the Geneva Conventions for my survival. While the Vietnamese rarely abided by the rules, the international pressure on them to do so forced them to walk a line that ensured they did not perpetrate the sort of shocking abuses at Abu Ghraib.
Life in a Vietnamese prison was hell, but I was never subjected to such degrading sexual humiliation. The human body can withstand enormous physical pain and recover. But the human mind is different: One seldom fully recovers from ruthless psychological or sexual torture. I am certain my treatment would have been worse had the Geneva Conventions not been in place and had the world not insisted that Vietnam abide by them.
Having survived the ordeal of a POW, I never believed I would have to revisit the issue of prisoner treatment. But when I learned that the administration had created a new prisoner status for persons captured in Afghanistan after 9/11, I sensed something was drastically wrong. Labeling prisoners "enemy combatants" instead of POWs was an apparent ploy to circumvent the Geneva Conventions and deny them the right, at the very least, to a review to determine their status.
The Vietnamese called me a "criminal," not a POW. They argued that America was fighting an illegal war in Vietnam - therefore, the Geneva Conventions did not apply. I am appalled to find my own government using that hollow argument 35 years later.
These decisions, which the administration still defends, undeniably set the stage for the horrible and illegal torture at Abu Ghraib. I am disgusted, angry, outraged and at the same time grossly embarrassed by what my government has sought to justify in the name of freedom! This is not the principle of freedom that I nearly gave my life to defend. Americans not only subjected prisoners to pain, suffering, isolation, hunger and degenerate sexual humiliation; some were apparently theatrically killed.
To compound matters, most of the prisoners in Abu Ghraib were not military combatants at all, but ordinary civilians picked off the streets during indiscriminate raids. Before the pictures of abuse at Abu Ghraib emerged, the chain of command ignored or denied reports submitted the Red Cross, Human Rights Watch and even military intelligence personnel working at Abu Ghraib (who cannot yet be identified for fear of retribution). Even after they came out, the administration reacted with denial, cover-up, stall and scare tactics, calculated to ensure that only a handful of enlisted men and women are held responsible and to protect senior officers and officials.
But my military experience reminds me that low-ranking personnel do not establish methods of interrogation, treatment or punishment on their own. Military personnel know precisely their authority and responsibilities. The military manual on how to clean a toilet likely requires 100 pages.
Prisoner interrogation and treatment is no less regulated. Top officers and their civilian counterparts must have directly or indirectly signed off on the disgraceful torture at Abu Ghraib. The Bush administration's disdain for our allies, its haste to invade a sovereign nation without honest justification, its abrogation of the Geneva Conventions and international law, and now the revelations of torture, have cost America our moral high ground. To regain it, we must ensure that those officials responsible for damaging America's good name are held accountable. Holding a few enlisted military personnel responsible for their leaders' mistakes would be unconscionable.
If the administration doesn't come clean, no one will suffer more than our proud and courageous military men and women. Americans in uniform know that the Geneva Conventions are not just there to protect the enemy; they are there to protect us.
Sen. Joseph Biden said, "There's a reason why we sign these treaties ... so when Americans are captured they are not tortured!" We must not forget that. Unfortunately, the Bush administration did forget and America is paying a heavy price.
"Iraqis know what we know, that the best way to defend yourself is to go on the offensive," [Bush] said, speaking at a news conference with Prime Minister Tony Blair of Britain.
Call girls in New York expect to see a boost in business during the Republican convention, according to the New York Daily News. "Agencies are flying in extra call girls from around the globe to meet the expected demand during the Aug. 30-Sept. 2 gathering at Madison Square Garden."
Says one Madam: "We have girls from London, Seattle, California, all coming in for that week. It's the week everyone wants to work."
The U.S. Supreme Court (news - web sites) severely limited the Bush administration's war on terrorism on Monday and allowed cases brought by terror suspects challenging their confinement to proceed in the American legal system.
In one ruling the court said the hundreds of foreign terror suspects at the U.S. military base at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba could turn to American courts to challenge their confinement. In another ruling it said an American held in his nation is entitled to procedural protections to contest his detention.
"Today's historic rulings are a strong repudiation of the administration's argument that its actions in the war on terrorism are beyond the rule of law and unreviewable by American courts," Steven Shapiro of the American Civil Liberties Union (news - web sites) said.
Michael Ratner of the Center for Constitutional Rights, which brought the Guantanamo case, said, "This is a major victory for the rule of law and affirms the right of every person, citizen or noncitizen, detained by the United States to test the legality of his or her detention in a U.S. court."
By a 6-3 vote, the justices ruled American courts do have jurisdiction to consider the claims of the Guantanamo Bay prisoners who said in their lawsuits they were being held illegally in violation of their rights.
A captured Qaeda commander who was a principal source for Bush administration claims that Osama bin Laden collaborated with Saddam Hussein's regime has changed his story, setting back White House efforts to shore up the credibility of its original case for the invasion of Iraq. The apparent recantation of Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi, a onetime member of bin Laden's inner circle, has never been publicly acknowledged. But U.S. intelligence officials tell NEWSWEEK that al-Libi was a crucial source for one of the more dramatic assertions made by President George W. Bush and his top aides: that Iraq had provided training in "poisons and deadly gases" for Al Qaeda. Al-Libi, who once ran one of bin Laden's biggest training camps, was captured in Pakistan in November 2001 and soon began talking to CIA interrogators. Although he never mentioned his name, Secretary of State Colin Powell prominently referred to al-Libi's claims in his February 2003 speech to the United Nations; he recounted how a "senior terrorist operative" said Qaeda leaders were frustrated by their inability to make chemical or biological agents in Afghanistan and turned for help to Iraq. Continuing to rely on al-Libi's version, Powell then told how a bin Laden operative seeking help in acquiring poisons and gases had forged a "successful" relationship with Iraqi officials in the late 1990s and that, as recently as December 2000, Iraq had offered "chemical or biological weapons training for two Al Qaeda associates."
But more recently, sources said, U.S. interrogators went back to al-Libi with new evidence from other detainees that cast doubt on his claims. Al-Libi "subsequently recounted a different story," said one U.S. official. "It's not clear which version is correct. We are still sorting this out." Some officials now suspect that al-Libi, facing aggressive interrogation techniques, had previously said what U.S. officials wanted to hear.
[O]n Nov. 11, 2001, a senior al Qaeda operative who ran the Khaldan paramilitary camp in Afghanistan was captured by Pakistani forces and turned over to U.S. military forces in January 2002. The capture of Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi, a Libyan, sparked the first real debate over interrogations. The CIA wanted to use a range of methods, including threatening his life and family.
But the FBI had never authorized such methods. The bureau wanted to preserve the purity of interrogations so they could be used as evidence in court cases.
Abu Zubaida was shot in the groin during his apprehension in Pakistan. U.S. national security officials have suggested that painkillers were used selectively in the beginning of his captivity until he agreed to cooperate more fully.
"We all think he's losing his mind. He's getting crazier every day," said Steven Hassan, a former official in the American branch of Moon's Unification Church who is now an anti-cult consultant.
"He says he was proud of the way that he defended the presidency, at my expense," she said.
"In the process he destroyed me, and that was the way he was going to have to do that, to get through impeachment," Lewinsky added. "I was a young girl and to hear him saying some of the things he was saying today -- it's a shame."
The erroneous good news on terrorism also came at a very convenient moment. The White House was still reeling from the revelations of the former counterterrorism chief Richard Clarke, who finally gave public voice to the view of many intelligence insiders that the Bush administration is doing a terrible job of fighting Al Qaeda. Meanwhile, Mr. Bush was on a "Winning the War on Terror" campaign bus tour in the Midwest.
Mr. Krueger, a forgiving soul, believes that the report was botched through simple incompetence. Maybe — though we can be sure that if the statistics had told the administration something it didn't want to hear, they would have been carefully checked. By the way, while the report's tables and charts have been fixed, the revised summary still gives little hint of how bad the data really are.
In any case, the incompetence explanation is hardly comforting. In a press conference announcing the release of the revised report, the counterterrorism coordinator Cofer Black attributed the errors to "inattention, personnel shortages and [a] database that is awkward and antiquated." Remember: we're talking about the government's central clearinghouse for terrorism information, whose creation was touted as part of a "dramatic enhancement" of counterterrorism efforts more than a year before this report was produced. And it still can't input data into its own computers? (It should be no surprise, in this age of Halliburton, that the job of data input was given to — and botched by — private contractors.)
Think of it as just one more indication that Mr. Bush isn't really serious about this terrorism thing. He talks about terror a lot, and invokes it to justify unrelated wars he feels like fighting. But when it comes to devoting resources to the unglamorous work of protecting the nation from attack — well, never mind.
The General Accounting Office "investigated the situations in five states with reported access problems and found mixed evidence. On the one hand, G.A.O. confirmed instances of reduced access to emergency surgery and newborn delivery, albeit `in scattered, often rural, areas where providers identified other long-standing factors that affect the availability of services.' On the other hand, it found that many reported reductions in supply by health care providers could not be substantiated or `did not widely affect access to health care.' "
That hardly sounds like a crisis. Moreover, in several states specifically characterized by the A.M.A. as in "crisis," the evidence is rolling in that malpractice claims and awards are not appreciably increasing, and in some instances are declining.
The A.M.A. has its crisis states marked in red on a map of the U.S. on its Web site. One of the red states is Missouri. But a press release in April from the Missouri Department of Insurance said, "Missouri medical malpractice claims, filed and paid, fell to all-time lows in 2003 while insurers enjoyed a cash-flow windfall."
Another red state on the A.M.A. map is New Jersey. Earlier this month, over the furious objections of physicians' representatives, a judge ordered the release of data showing how much was being paid out to satisfy malpractice claims. The judge's order was in response to a suit by The Bergen Record.
The newspaper reported that an analysis of the data showed that malpractice payments in New Jersey had declined by 21 percent from 2001 to 2003. But malpractice insurance premiums surged over the same period. A.M.A. officials told me yesterday that they thought the New Jersey data was "incomplete," but they did not dispute the 21 percent figure.
Last summer a legislative committee in Florida, another red state, put insurance executives, lawyers and medical lobbyists under oath in an effort to get to the truth about malpractice costs. When questions about frivolous lawsuits arose, Sandra Mortham, the chief executive of the Florida Medical Association, told the panel, "I don't feel that I have the information to say whether or not there are frivolous lawsuits in the state of Florida."
There is no question that malpractice insurance premiums have increased sharply over the past few years. In some instances they have skyrocketed. But, as the Congressional Budget Office has noted, there are a variety of reasons for that, including the cost of malpractice awards, decreases in the investment income of insurance companies and cyclical factors in the insurance market.
"Insurance companies' investment yields have been lower for the past few years," the budget office said in a report in January, "putting pressure on premiums to make up the difference."
With Republicans in control of the White House and both houses of Congress for the first time since 1952, more than ever, this election is a referendum on not only George W. Bush but on conservative policies. Without any meddling from pesky Democrats, Americans have finally gotten an opportunity to really take conservative policies for a test drive. No sharing of the spotlight, no diffusion of responsibility; at last, conservatives can finally take credit where credit is due.
So how have Americans been faring under conservative policies these last couple of years?
Let's start with the basics. Conservatives turned a $127 billion budget surplus into record-shattering deficits with reckless tax cuts; in 2004 alone, the deficit is expected to reach $500 billion. Poverty is on the rise with more than 34 million Americans living below the poverty line, including 12 million children. As for the first job-loss recovery since the Great Depression, it's an "upside down recovery" according to the Center for American Progress, meaning that corporate profits have risen at the expense of wages and employment. At the same time the costs of housing, gas, and medical care have all surged by double digits, not to mention that 20 million working Americans have no health insurance. Conservatives' answer? Not surprisingly, Washington's one-trick ponies call for more tax cuts for the rich. More of the same failed conservative policies.
The WMD-less war in Iraq has become a seemingly inextricable quagmire with taxpayers spending about three dollars on Iraq to every one dollar spent on our own homeland security. Now over a year out from the start of the war, the Pew Research Center's Global Attitudes Project finds that America's image has plummeted across the world. But the icing on the cake? Former General Anthony Zinni recently said that the war in Iraq has not only undermined the war on terror, it has actually made us "far less safe." Despite these concerns, a White House memo leaked to the Washington Post last month reveals plans for $1 billion in cutbacks to Homeland Security in 2006 -- cuts needed to pay for those tax cuts. Sure enough, more of the same failed conservative policies.
A Pentagon report states that global warming "should be elevated beyond a scientific debate to a U.S. national security concern." Salmon is loaded with cancer-causing PCBs and chickens are rife with arsenic, both from feed approved by the FDA. Earlier this year, the EPA warned children and women of child-bearing age to avoid eating tuna because it contains dangerously high levels of mercury from industrial pollution from coal-fired power plants; mercury is known to cause brain damage in infants and children. All the while conservatives are chanting the tired old mantra of "more deregulation," gutting the Clean Air Act, and promoting "voluntary compliance" by industry, not only doing away with regulations but also decreasing the number of public guardians who enforce compliance. Predictably, we see the results of more of the same failed conservative policies.
In 2005, states' deficits are expected to exceed $35 billion, in part the result of two decades of "devolution," forcing almost every state in the nation to make drastic cutbacks. Last January in Alabama, public schools ran out of money for textbooks, state troopers were cut back to a four-day work week, and plans were made to release 5,000 nonviolent felons from prison in the coming year. In Oregon, some schools shut their doors a month early, courthouses went to a four-day week, and thousands lost prescription drug coverage. Conservatives responded with multi-million dollar anti-tax campaigns against commonsense revenue reforms that could have saved these fundamental services. Just more of the same failed conservative policies.
But if I could tie the president up and force him to read one article—and please, do not alert the Secret Service—I would place in front of him a Washington Post front-page story written by Rajiv Chandrasekaran that chronicles the failures of the Coalition Provisional Authority. To anyone who has paid attention to media coverage of the occupation, there is little in the piece that would come as a surprise. But the gathering of these facts in a single account was eye-popping. Here is a sampling:
*The United States promised to use $18.6 billion in aid to employ at least a quarter of a million Iraqis by now in reconstruction projects. About 15,000 Iraqis have been hired for these projects.
*According to a recent poll conducted by the United States, 85 percent of Iraqis had no confidence in the CPA. Chandrasekaran writes, “The criticism is echoed by some Americans working in the occupation. They fault CPA staffers who were fervent backers of the invasion and of the Bush administration, but who lacked reconstruction skills and Middle East experience. Only a handful spoke Arabic.”
*In an interview, L. Paul Bremer, the CPA chief, said that among his biggest accomplishments in Iraq was lowering tax rates. Critics within the CPA, Chandrasekaran writes, “faulted Bremer for working to advance a conservative economic agenda of tax cuts and free trade instead focusing on the delivery of basic services.” In other words, ideology trumped common sense.
*The Bush administration hired hacks instead of experts for CPA posts. “A few development specialists,” according to the Post, “were recruited from the State Department and nongovernmental organizations. But most CPA hiring was done by the White House and Pentagon personnel offices, with jobs going to people with connections to the Bush administration or the Republican Party. The job of reorganizing Baghdad's stock exchange, which has not reopened, was given in September to a 24-year-old who had sought a job at the White House.” Dick Grasso wasn’t available?
*Occupation officials have isolated themselves from Iraqis. "We don't know the outside," a senior adviser to Bremer told the newspaper. “How many of us have gone out to buy a bottle of milk or a pair of socks?" CPA officials shop in a special bazaar in the Green Zone; they do not visit local markets. Chandrasekaran writes, “Limited contact with Iraqis outside the Green Zone has made CPA officials reliant on the views of those chosen by Bremer to serve on the Governing Council. When [Lakhdar] Brahimi, the UN envoy, asked the CPA for details about several Iraqis he was considering for positions in the interim government, he told associates he was ‘shocked to find how little information they really had,’ according to an official who was present.”
BAQOUBA, Iraq -- Insurgents launched coordinated attacks against police and government buildings across Iraq on Thursday, less than a week before the handover of sovereignty. The strikes killed 69 people, including three American soldiers, and wounded more than 270 people, Iraqi and U.S. officials said.
The large number of attacks, mostly directed at Iraqi security services, was a clear sign of just how powerful the insurgency in Iraq remains and could be the start of a new push to torpedo Wednesday's transfer of sovereignty to an interim transitional government.
In Baghdad, the Health Ministry said at least 66 people were killed and 268 injured nationwide. However, those figures did not include U.S. dead and injured.
Some of the heaviest fighting was reported in Baqouba, 35 miles northeast of Baghdad, where two American soldiers were killed and seven were wounded, the U.S. 1st Infantry Division said. Attackers also targeted police stations in Ramadi, Mahaweel, and the northern city of Mosul, where car bombs rocked the Iraqi Police Academy, two police stations and the al-Jumhuri hospital.
Mosul's governor imposed a 9 p.m.-6 a.m. curfew, and the city television station urged people to stay home for the "general good."
In other attacks, four Iraqi soldiers were killed in an explosion near a checkpoint manned by Iraqi and American soldiers in the southern Baghdad district of Dora. Three U.S. soldiers tended to what appeared to be a wounded American soldier on the road. The soldier's helmet lay nearby. Black smoke and flames shot up from a burning pickup truck.
Also in Baghdad, insurgents attacked four Iraqi police stations using mortars, hand grenades and AK-47s on Wednesday and Thursday. Police fought back and defended the stations with minimal assistance from coalition forces, a U.S. statement said.
A statement quoted Thursday by a Saudi Web site claimed responsibility for the Baqouba attacks in the name of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, who said the insurgents belong to his Tawhid and Jihad movement. He called residents to "comply with the instructions of resistance."
The statement appealed to residents to remain in their homes "because these days are going to witness campaigns and attacks against the occupation troops and those who stand beside them."
U.S. aircraft dropped three 500-pound bombs against an insurgent position near the city soccer stadium in Baqouba, said Maj. Neal E. O'Brien, a U.S. 1st Infantry Division spokesman. Insurgents roamed the city with rocket launchers and automatic weapons and occupied two police stations.
Insurgents destroyed the home of the police chief of the Diyala province where Baqouba is, O'Brien said.
One man in the emergency ward vented his anger, screaming, "May God destroy America and all those who cooperate with it!"
We cannot defeat fanatics by becoming fanatics ourselves, giving them the victory they seek by remaking our society in their image.
An Attorney General whose character is thus marked by acts which define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the chief law enforcement officer of a free people. We, therefore, as free men and women devoted to the security and well-being of these United States, solemnly publish and declare, That Attorney General John Ashcroft should be removed from office and a successor named who will restore the honor, integrity, and good name of the Department of Justice.
I accept the legal conclusion of the attorney general and the Department of Justice that I have the authority under the Constitution to suspend Geneva as between the United States and Afghanistan, but I decline to exercise that authority at this time.
A film that bases itself on a big lie and a big misrepresentation can only sustain itself by a dizzying succession of smaller falsehoods, beefed up by wilder and (if possible) yet more-contradictory claims. President Bush is accused of taking too many lazy vacations. (What is that about, by the way? Isn't he supposed to be an unceasing planner for future aggressive wars?) But the shot of him "relaxing at Camp David" shows him side by side with Tony Blair. I say "shows," even though this photograph is on-screen so briefly that if you sneeze or blink, you won't recognize the other figure. A meeting with the prime minister of the United Kingdom, or at least with this prime minister, is not a goof-off.
Testimony before the House Committee on Government Reform hearing confirmed today that Bush administration political appointees overruled career contracting officials in the Pentagon by giving Halliburton the oil-related task order months before the invasion of Iraq.
The hearing came two days after Pentagon officials admitted that Pentagon political appointees notified Vice President Cheney's chief of staff of the decision to award Halliburton a no-bid contract to repair Iraq's oil infrastructure.
Contracting experts say it is highly unusual for political appointees to be involved in the contracting process since contracts are normally awarded by career civil servants with expertise in government contracting. Involvement by Cheney's chief of staff in the contracting process contradicts Cheney's assertion that he had no role in awarding contracts to his former company.
At the same time, the committee's failure to call Halliburton whistleblowers to testify underscores Congress' continuing failure to hold the company accountable for contracting abuses and potential fraud.
Rep. Tom Davis (R-Va.) refused to allow five former Halliburton employees with additional evidence of waste, fraud and abuse to testify today. The former employees (as well as an employee of a Halliburton subcontractor) have brought serious charges of abuse by Halliburton subsidiary KBR to the attention of Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.), including billing $45 per six pack of soda, the use of a five-star hotel in Kuwait, a $100 charge per bag of laundry, and the torching of brand new $80,000 trucks.
Bush administration political appointees overruled career contracting officials in the Pentagon by giving Halliburton the oil-related task order months before the invasion of Iraq.
The discovery of the Texas cyanide bomb should have served as a wake-up call: 9/11 has focused our attention on the threat from Islamic radicals, but murderous right-wing fanatics are still out there. The concerns of the Justice Department, however, appear to lie elsewhere. Two weeks ago a representative of the F.B.I. appealed to an industry group for help in combating what, he told the audience, the F.B.I. regards as the country's leading domestic terrorist threat: ecological and animal rights extremists.
Even in the fight against foreign terrorists, Mr. Ashcroft's political leanings have distorted policy. Mr. Ashcroft is very close to the gun lobby — and these ties evidently trump public protection. After 9/11, he ordered that all government lists — including voter registration, immigration and driver's license lists — be checked for links to terrorists. All government lists, that is, except one: he specifically prohibited the F.B.I. from examining background checks on gun purchasers.
Mr. Ashcroft told Congress that the law prohibits the use of those background checks for other purposes — but he didn't tell Congress that his own staff had concluded that no such prohibition exists. Mr. Ashcroft issued a directive, later put into law, requiring that records of background checks on gun buyers be destroyed after only one business day.
And we needn't imagine that Mr. Ashcroft was deeply concerned about protecting the public's privacy. After all, a few months ago he took the unprecedented step of subpoenaing the hospital records of women who have had late-term abortions.
On the eve of sovereignty, Iraq (news - web sites) is a nation in disarray, riven by bombings, assassinations and sabotage. Yet many people here appear cautiously optimistic that a tough-talking new government run by Iraqis can confront the withering cycle of violence better than their U.S.-led occupiers.
Talk of imposing martial law or restoring the death penalty has been welcomed by many among a war-weary populace.
"We need a tough ruler," said Burwa Tayyeb, who owns a boutique in Baghdad's Mansour district. "I have very high hopes and am looking forward to the 1st of July."
"These are our people. We know how to handle this," explained Hamid Rubai, an advisor to the interim leadership.
"He needs to be strict and firm," Fawzia Abdul-Jabbar, a widowed homemaker, said of Allawi. "This is the only way he could bring security to this country. We are tired of living in fear."
"If he was a Baathist, this means he was familiar with the ins and outs of Iraqi society," said Tayyeb, the boutique owner, who as an Iraqi Kurd is part of an ethnic group that suffered greatly under Hussein. "This is to his credit."
To outsiders, it may seem counterintuitive — a nation reeling from more than three decades of despotic rule appears to yearn for authority. But the carnage of the last year seems to have drained many Iraqis of their enthusiasm for noble experiments in government and left them craving a peaceful nation in which their lives may proceed without the pervasive fear of random killings.
Not only politically motivated attacks but common crimes — notably kidnappings and slayings — have skyrocketed since the fall of Hussein's regime.
"One thing I wish from Iyad Allawi is that he reinstates capital punishment," said Tariq Sargon, a Christian record shop owner in Baghdad's Harithiya district. "All these crimes are unaccounted for. [Criminals] have to get what they deserve."
Iraqis suffered greatly under Hussein, but the dictator and his pervasive Baath Party apparatus did provide a sense of security that many look back on with nostalgia. Iraqis dreaded Hussein's security men, but car bombs, roadside ambushes and mortar attacks on the streets of the capital were not a daily occurrence.
His average approval rating in office was lower than that of many modern presidents, including each George Bush. His death at 93, after a full life and a long terminal illness, was neither tragic nor shocking. And in 2004, his presidency was far from the center of American consciousness. The cold war that he "won" (with no help from the Poles, the Czechs, Mikhail Gorbachev, the first President Bush or anyone else, mind you) had dropped into the great American memory hole in our age of terrorism, along with his administration's support of incipient bin Laden-style Islamic militants in Afghanistan.