Bayfront Whales

Almost every flat surface with any size to it on the Newport Bayfront has a mural on it.  This is the first…

–Photo by Zooey / Newport, Oregon


State Department Granted Immunity to Blackwater Guards After Shootings

From Think Progress:

This is absolutely stunning:

Following the deadly September shootout in Baghdad involving Blackwater USA, the Bush administration rushed to the security firm’s defense and even awarded the firm a new $92 million contract.Today, the AP provides further evidence of the administration’s efforts to shield the firm, reporting that the State Department “promised” legal immunity to Blackwater guards after the shooting incident:

The State Department promised Blackwater USA bodyguards immunity from prosecution in its investigation of last month’s deadly shooting of 17 Iraqi civilians. […]

Earlier this month, the FBI took over the case after DoJ prosecutors realized they “could not bring charges against Blackwater guards based on their statements to the Diplomatic Security investigators”:

Officials said the Blackwater bodyguards spoke only after receiving so-called “Garrity” protections, requiring that their statements only be used internally – and not for criminal prosecutions.

While Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice told Congress last week she “regrets” the lack of oversight of Blackwater, she neglected to mention that she granted the Blackwater guards prosecutorial immunity after the shootings.

I’m at a loss for words.

Kucinich: Impeachment!

Dennis Kucinich will be bringing forward Resolution 333 under a ‘privilege’ motion on the floor of the House of Representatives in the next couple of weeks. This resolution is calling for the impeachment of Dick Cheney. In this video, he explains that once he rises and invokes ‘privilege’ of the House in consideration of the bill, he said that someone will rise and move to ‘table’ the bill. That means if it is tabled, the bill is effectively killed. He is encouraging people to call or write their Representatives and tell them to vote AGAINST a motion to table. That would means they would then move on to debate the resolution and take a vote.

The resolution charges that Vice President Cheney:

  1. has purposely manipulated the intelligence process to deceive the citizens and Congress of the United States by fabricating a threat of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction, as well as
  2. fabricating a threat about an alleged relationship between Iraq and al Qaeda, in order to justify the use of the U.S. Armed Forces against Iraq in a manner damaging to U.S. national security interests; and
  3. in violation of his constitutional oath and duty, has openly threatened aggression against Iran absent any real threat to the United States, and has done so with the proven U.S. capability to carry out such threats, thus undermining U.S. national security.

This seems like the ONLY opportunity to impeach Dick Cheney. Please contact your Congress members.

Money can’t buy me love..

CAN someone win who isn’t even running?

Democracy for America is running a poll. Al Gore is winning (26.58%) with Dennis Kucinich coming in second (24.17%).. Hillary is #6 (4.44%). These numbers seem a whole lot more realistic and closer to what I hear people saying when I talk to them. I wonder what the actual numbers would be, if you could physically ask all 3oo+million Americans across this country what they really think and want, in comparison to what the media wants to shove down our throats..

I have read that people in various states are putting Al Gore on their states ballots themselves, in hopes that he will still decide to run. He hasn’t paid a single cent for advertising. He hasn’t attended a single fundraiser, or participated in a single debate. Is it really possible that someone not even running could win the Democratic nomination? The White House? Has that ever happened in our history?

For all the $90 million dollars that Hillary has raised in this campaign, seeing these numbers and where she ranks down this list can’t feel too reassuring.. I guess money isn’t everything.

Principal, integrity, and genuine conviction stands for something. Its not something you can invent or buy. You are who you have been all along. People want someone who has proved themselves, someone who is the real deal, someone with experience and strength of character. Gore has proved himself. People in this country may try and elect him whether he is running or not.

As weird as things are these days, nothing would surprise me any more.

HT: Brent Budowsky

While the US fires translators, Europeans engage terrorism

The US and the military have famously canned Arabic translators because of their personal lives, but others take their jobs more seriously.

Sacha van Loo, 36, is not your typical cop. He wields a white cane instead of a gun. And from the purr of an engine on a wiretap, he can discern whether a suspect is driving a Peugeot, a Honda or a Mercedes.

… When police eavesdrop on a suspected terrorist making a phone call, van Loo can listen to the tones dialed and immediately identify the number. By hearing the sound of a voice echoing off of a wall, he can deduce whether a suspect is speaking from an airport lounge or a crowded restaurant. After the Belgian police recently spent hours struggling to identify a drug smuggler on a faint wiretap recording, they concluded he was Moroccan. Van Loo, who has a “library of accents in his head,” listened and deduced he was Albanian, a fact confirmed after his arrest.

Other than a really dopey tv show a couple of years ago, the notion of a blind detective would be laughable in most US police stations and undoubtedly also at the federal level.

Read more.