Thursday, June 16, 2005

Kurdistan, Ethnic Cleansing, California Uber Alles, President for Life, Peak Oil, NPR, DOWNING , Generation Debt

1) Kurdistan Hath Arrived:

INSIGHT IRAQ Volume I, Issue 7

June 9, 2005

Comment From Iraq

Control In Northern Iraq

A colleague recently crossing into northern Iraq from
Turkey reports an interesting form of passport control
on the Iraqi side. The receiving Kurdish
militiamen glue a detachable pageinto the incoming
traveler's passport. On the paper, one finds a visa,
granting entry into theRepublic of Kurdistan/Region of

When our colleague left northern Iraq a week or so
later, another visa.. this one an exit permit..
was attached to the same piece of paper. Just before
crossing the frontier, the Kurds removed the original,
now much-stamped piece of paper from his passport.
They handed it to a Kurdish customs official before
our colleague then reentered Turkey with his passport
showing no overt sign of either entry into Iraq or
into the selfstyled Republic of Kurdistan.

Our same friend reported seeing the name of the
Republic of Kurdistan/Region of Iraq in another place,
this time in Production Sharing Agreements offered to
various international parties. Within the PSAs, the
reader found an extensive quotation from U. S. State
Department opinion going back to 17 September 1998,
the essence of which appeared to state that the U. S.
government regards the Kurdish authority in northern
Iraq as having supreme domain over natural resources
in that area, at least since the first Gulf War of

Larry Meyers, Editor

Insight Iraq

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Copyright 2005

2) This is a fairly dark assessment of kidnappings,
torture, and domestic rendition as occuring in the
aforemention Kurdistan:

Kurdish Officials Sanction Abductions in Kirkuk
U.S. Memo Says Arabs, Turkmens Secretly Sent to the

By Steve Fainaru and Anthony Shadid
Washington Post Foreign Service
Wednesday, June 15, 2005; Page A01

KIRKUK, Iraq -- Police and security units, forces led
by Kurdish political parties and backed by the U.S.
military, have abducted hundreds of minority Arabs and
Turkmens in this intensely volatile city and spirited
them to prisons in Kurdish-held northern Iraq,
according to U.S. and Iraqi officials, government
documents and families of the victims.

Seized off the streets of Kirkuk or in joint
U.S.-Iraqi raids, the men have been transferred
secretly and in violation of Iraqi law to prisons in
the Kurdish cities of Irbil and Sulaymaniyah,
sometimes with the knowledge of U.S. forces. The
detainees, including merchants, members of tribal
families and soldiers, have often remained missing for
months; some have been tortured, according to released
prisoners and the Kirkuk police chief.

A confidential State Department cable, obtained by The
Washington Post and addressed to the White House,
Pentagon and U.S. Embassy in Baghdad, said the
"extra-judicial detentions" were part of a "concerted
and widespread initiative" by Kurdish political
parties "to exercise authority in Kirkuk in an
increasingly provocative manner."....

3) California uber alles:

Sunday, June 12, 2005
Lodi, California
Salaam Alaikum!

By now just about everyone reading this blog (at least
in the United States) is probably familiar with Lodi,
California - a small town in what is known as Central
Valley. After the initial arrest of five individuals,
the town's Muslim population continues to be harassed
by the FBI.

Following is the experience of Mr. James Schwab of the
ACLU, and Director of Associate Students of the
University of California at Davis Office of External
Affairs. Mr. Schwab visited Lodi this past Friday

Last night, Norb, Dean, and I headed down to Lodi, a
recent hotspot in the "War on Terror". We went simply
as a citizen, a lawyer, and a student.

On our long drive down a slow moving I-99 we kept in
contact with our friend Basim Elkarra (Executive
Director, CAIR, Sacramento). He was being pulled in
many directions as he tried to calm the fears of a
frightened community, keep track of who was being
quesionted by the FBI, and teach the community there
rights. He needed help.

When we arrived in Lodi we met Bashim at a local
motel, a few blocks from "ground zero". Inside the
room was Bashim and several, local, young males. They
had been helping our friend with translation and
outreach in the community.

As soon as we walked in, we were delegated different
duties. Norb and I would stay and interview locals
either with notes or a video camera. Dean would go
with Bashim to the mosque so he could give a quick
civil rights training and assure the community that
help is on the way.

Bashim told me after the training, that he will never
forget the look of relief and happiness on people's
faces as Dean gave his presentation.

As for Norb and I, the first young lady we interviewed
was related to, and lived in the same house as, the
two gentleman originally arrested. She was visibly
shaking as she told us the story of what happened this
past Tuesday, three days after the original arrests.

The FBI had been closley watching the house even after
the arrests, so they knew that only 3 women and 5
children were inside. On Tuesday they decided to
execute a search warrant by ramming down the front
door and secruing the house with dozens of well-armed
agents. Guns were put to the women's heads. One passed

An ambulance was called to help her. When it arrived
the agents would not let the EMT in. Only after the
EMT refused to leave was he allowed in, but she was
not allowed to be taken to the hospital.

There were no arrests just the seizure of tax and
banking information. The next two young men were both
working at a local packing plant when about 10 agents

In front of their co-workers they were both padded
down and frisked. They were told that they had to come
with the agents to answer a few questions, the young
men complied. They took them in separate cars, one to
his home for the interview, the other to the Lodi
Police station. The one who was taken home, was
interrogated for an hour about what he had done in
Pakistan 4 years prior when he was 16.

After the questioning was done, the agent gave him his
card and told him he would have to come up to
Sacrmento for further questioning later in the week.

The other young man refused to be interviewed at home,
so as to not upset his parents, thus he was taken to
the local police station (where they have conducted a
lot of the interviews). He went through a similar line
of questioning about his activities in Pakistan 8
years prior when he was 10. During the interview they
tried to make him admit to knowing and training with

After several other similar interviews, Dean and
Bashim returned. We began to stratgize about the rest
of the evening. Norb stepped outside for some fresh
air. With in a few minutes, I received a call from
Norb that "they had arrived". "They" were the FBI who
had parked two unmarked vehicles to the north and
south of our hotel room. Three other unmarked vehicle
had circled several times as well.

Our plan for the evening was to check out the local
mosque, where more FBI agents were staked out and to
meet up with two gentlemen who were wanted by the FBI
for questioning. We had talked them and told them not
to go and to wait for us.

As we left the room we could not help but take out our
video camera. We walked right up to one of the FBI
cars and taped him talking on his cell, he pretended
we were not there. We then climbed into our vehicle
and left for the mosque. Pulling out of the parking
lot, we were followed by the two vehicles watching our
room. Turning down the street on which the mosque
sits, three other vehicles joined them. The camera is
rolling this whole time.

We arrive at the mosque and park. Bashim and two
locals go inside for prayer and to find the two wanted
gentlemen. Norb, Dean and I walk across the street to
a park where we were told the FBI hangs out. The five
vehicle that had followed us there were now constantly
circling the block, briefly pulling over and then
pulling away again. In the sky were two small single
engine airplanes, which the local said had been up
there on and off for the past 6 days. While the five
veichle were circling we noticed about three more
sitting in the parking lot of the park.

Bashim returned and informed us the two men were not
at the mosque and that we should go to their family's
house. We climbed back into the van and begin to drive
over, the FBI in close behind. On the way over I
talked with Bashim about how to mobilize the
community. I had thought that if only we could get all
the community leaders together...all the community
leaders are currently sitting in jail. The FBI had
taken the heart out of this community.

We arrived at the family's house and sat down to talk
with 6 older gentlemen, relatives of the two men we
were looking for. The relatives informed us that the
two men had gone to the police station to meet with
the FBI. We quickly got them to take Dean on as their
attorney, pro bono of course, so we could try to get
these men out.

We rushed over to the police station, but this time
there was no FBI to be seen. It was about 10pm and the
station was locked up, so we buzzed the front desk. We
asked the dispatcher if the two young men were in
there. She said no. We told her that we had been
informed they had come down here, and
in fact there car was parked out front. She said there
is no one here being questioned by the FBI. We then
called the Special Agent who had been giving his card
out all over town. He told us that they were inside
the Lodi police station.

Again we buzzed the dispatcher and again she said
there was no one there. We were about to get back into
the car, when a Lodi police officer came out a side
entrance and told us that yes the two men were inside
and that we would be let in. Unfortunately, the FBI
would not Dean to see the men as they had not
requested to see a lawyer. At about 12:30am one of the
men comes down, very surprised to see us.

As it turns out he was not being interrorgated, he had
simply come with his relative who was being
questioned. About a half hour later, after being
interrogated for six hours and put under several lie
detector tests, the man was released.

After a quick debriefing with the two gentlemen the
locals went home and so did we. Everyday dozens of
people are being questioned, harassed, and followed.
They need our help.

James Schwab

Associate Students of the University of California at
Office of External Affairs

4) President for life? I wouldn't have believed such
an internet posting not 3-4 years back, but now I'm
willing to at least give it a hear. That said, the
Congressional link given in the article does work, so
it does appear to have been proposed:

The 22nd Amendment

Section 1. No person shall be elected to the office of
the President more than twice, and no person who has
held the office of President, or acted as President,
for more than two years of a term to which some other
person was elected President shall be elected to the
office of the President more than once. But this
Article shall not apply to any person holding the
office of President when this Article was proposed by
the Congress, and shall not prevent any person who may
be holding the office of President, or acting as
President, during the term within which this Article
becomes operative from holding the office of President
or acting as President during the remainder of such

Section. 2. This article shall be inoperative unless
it shall have been ratified as an amendment to the
Constitution by the legislatures of three-fourths of
the several States within seven years from the date of
its submission to the States by the Congress.

Ratification was completed on February 27, 1951.


New Bill Could Make Bush President For Life
Prison Planet | June 14 2005

A House bill has been introduced that would change
the 22nd amendment and enable George Bush to remain
President for the rest of his political life.

The bill would repeal limitations on a President
holding office for a maximum of two terms.

This is the modern day version of the Enabling Act,
which allowed Hitler to officially declare himself

The bill, which can be found at the Library of
Congress website here, reads as follows.

Proposing an amendment to the Constitution of the
United States to repeal the 22nd amendment to the
Constitution. (Introduced in House)

HJ 24 IH
1st Session

H. J. RES. 24
Proposing an amendment to the Constitution of the
United States to repeal the 22nd amendment to the


February 17, 2005

Mr. HOYER (for himself, Mr. BERMAN, Mr. SENSENBRENNER,
Mr. SABO, and Mr. PALLONE) introduced the following
joint resolution; which was referred to the Committee
on the Judiciary


Proposing an amendment to the Constitution of the
United States to repeal the 22nd amendment to the

Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives of
the United States of America in Congress assembled
(two-thirds of each House concurring therein), That
the following article is proposed as an amendment to
the Constitution of the United States, which shall be
valid to all intents and purposes as part of the
Constitution when ratified by the legislatures of
three-fourths of the several States within seven years
after the date of its submission for ratification:

`Article --

`The twenty-second article of amendment to the
Constitution of the United States is repealed.'.


5) Another peak oil article -- hmmm, maybe it's
actually true that the party's going to be over within
a decade:,9115,1506700,00.html

Casualties of the oil stampede

Those behind human rights abuses and an alleged safety
cover-up around the Caspian pipeline must be held to

Michael Meacher
Wednesday June 15, 2005
The Guardian

A huge new oil pipeline, opened a week ago but not
fully operational till August, is set to become an
environmental, political and economic timebomb. Over
1,000 miles long, it is a classic example of
pretensions to corporate social responsibility claimed
by the BP consortium being trampled all over by the
stampede for oil.

The new Great Game is the competition for control of
the world's few remaining big oilfields. Global oil
production will probably peak in 2010-15, and for the
last 40 years new annual discoveries of oil have been
far short of the increase in annual demand. The end of
Big Oil is in sight, and with it the oil-powered
civilisation we've all grown accustomed to. The
struggle to dominate remaining supplies is intense,
nowhere more so than in the Caspian basin, with
probably the largest remaining oil deposits after the
Middle East.

Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan, bordering the Caspian,
together hold oil reserves three times the size of
America's. The route most favoured by the west to
transport the oil out of the Caspian goes from Baku in
Azerbaijan via Tbilisi in Georgia to the Mediterranean
port of Ceyhan in Turkey. This BTC project costs
around £2.4bn, with BP leading a consortium of 11
companies. Almost three-quarters of the funding comes
from bank loans, with public bodies such as the World
Bank providing £350m, including £56m from the British
Export Credits Guarantee Department....

6) NPR/PBS Move-On Petition:


You know that email petition that keeps circulating
about how Congress is slashing funding for NPR and
PBS? Well, now it's actually true. (Really. Check at
the bottom if you don't believe me.)

Sign the petition telling Congress to save NPR and

A House panel has voted to eliminate all public
funding for NPR and PBS, starting with "Sesame
Street," "Reading Rainbow," and other commercial-free
children's shows. If approved, this would be the most
severe cut in the history of public broadcasting,
threatening to pull the plug on Big Bird, Cookie
Monster, and Oscar the Grouch.

The cuts would slash 25% of the federal funding this
year—$100 million—and end funding altogether within
two years. The loss could kill beloved children's
shows like "Clifford the Big Red Dog," "Arthur," and
"Postcards from Buster." Rural stations and those
serving low-income communities might not survive.
Other stations would have to increase corporate

The next vote on the cuts will take place tomorrow
(Thursday). Help us reach 400,000 signatures to be
delivered to the committee members.


P.S. Read the Washington Post report on the threat to
NPR and PBS at:

7) True Majority petition, regarding Downing Stree
Memo and congressional hearings:

"We all thought that Bush was lying when he said that
we had to invade Iraq because of 9/11 and Saddam’s
weapons of mass destruction (WMDs). Well, now we have
proof. A British journalist uncovered a memo to Tony
Blair from his chief of foreign intelligence written
after a series of high-level meetings in Washington
back in July of 2002—months before Colin Powell’s
famous presentation to the United Nations.

Basically, the memo states that the Bush
administration was set on ousting Saddam Hussein
despite the circumstances. However, since that would
violate international law, the administration planned
on using terrorism and WMDs as the pretext, even if
the facts didn’t support it. You can read the entire
memo here, but these are a few of my favorite lines:

"It seemed clear that Bush had made up his mind to
take military action...but the case was thin. Saddam
was not threatening his neighbors, and his WMD
capability was less than that of Libya, North Korea or
Iran." In another section, the intelligence advisor
writes: "But the intelligence and facts were being
fixed around the policy."

That’s a smoking gun if I’ve ever smelled one. While
administration officials filled the airwaves talking
about the need to remove Saddam because of his WMDs
and his being an imminent threat, they were confiding
to their closest ally that that really wasn’t true.
Apparently Tony Blair deserved the truth but the
American people didn’t.

Rep. John Conyers and 88 other members of Congress
sent a letter to the president asking five
straightforward questions about the memo (see them
below). Their request has been met with stony silence.
Rep. Conyers is asking the American people to join him
as he tries to get some answers, by signing the letter
yourselves. If you are a member of TrueMajority, you
can sign the letter by simply hitting “Reply” and
“Send,” and we’ll add your name. If you were forwarded
this e-mail or would like to read the full text of the
letter, simply click here:

8) Generation Debt:

Generation Debt: The New Economics of Being Young
High Interest in Low Interest

Student borrowers scramble to beat a deadline for
cheap rates

by Anya Kamenetz
June 9th, 2005 5:15 PM

If you have federal student loans, the date July 1
should be in flashing red lights. That's the deadline
to consolidate loans at the lowest interest rate ever.
Instead of making multiple payments to different
lenders at variable interest rates, you'd have one
monthly payment at a rate that, crucially, will stick
in the same low place throughout the life of the loan.
Recent grads, still in their six-month grace period,
can lock in a rate as low as 2.77 percent, and
borrowers already paying can go as low as 3.375
"My dad's applying for consolidation now," says Ryman
Sneed, 22, a North Carolina native who graduated from
Marymount Manhattan College with a BFA in drama last
month and is auditioning while waitressing full-time
at Bowlmor Lanes. "I'll start making payments in
August. To be honest, I don't really know what all
goes into that. I just know I have to pay off the
loans and factor it into my expenses."

Going through consolidation may seem like a bit of
extra red tape in an already complicated process, but
in this case it's worth it. According to lending
company Nelnet, a grad like Sneed, who owes $20,000,
could save about $4,300 over a 20-year repayment
period by locking in the current rate. On July 1, the
rates, set annually by the results of a 91-day
Treasury bill auction, will be hopping to 4.7 percent
for new grads and 5.3 percent for others. That's the
biggest single rate hike in the 40-year history of
student loans.

Consolidation only becomes a bad value, says Kate Rube
of the State PIRGs' Higher Education Project, when
borrowers take advantage of the opportunity to
procrastinate. "You don't need to stretch out your
payments just because you're consolidating, and
students shouldn't let lenders tell them differently.
You should pay on a monthly basis as much as you can
manage." In other words, don't forego 10 high-payment
years for three decades of obligation and compounding

There's evidence that grads like Sneed are rushing
through the consolidation window. Local-news outlets
from St. Louis to Syracuse have run stories on the
change. Alumni e-mail lists are abuzz. Consolidation
lenders are bombarding students with solicitations.
College financial aid offices are doing their part
too, sending out e-mails and hosting information

Still, as Sneed suggests, it's not always easy to get
overwhelmed grads to pay attentions. "A month ago, we
physically mailed out 800 invitations to students who
had loans to let them know it's in your best interest
to consolidate now," says Chloe Haygood, a cheerful
financial-aid representative at Tulane University in
New Orleans. "All of our preferred lenders came out.
We had a turnout of 50 or 60 people. It was finals
week, so we'll attribute it to that!"

For those a few years out of school, consolidation can
be even more daunting. Tamala Dunn earned her B.A.
from Rutgers in 1998. Over the years, she received a
series of deferments and forbearances because of low
income. By the time she finally started making
payments this January, the initial $16,000 had
ballooned, with interest and fees, to around $27,000.
"I came across an article that indicated this was the
final month to get low interest rates," said Dunn, now
a mother of four. "I'm still trying to figure out the
consolidation process and who I should choose for my

Haygood reminds anyone considering consolidation to
start by going to, a government
database where you can check the current status and
originators of all your student loans. If you hold
loans from more than one lender, you have the right to
shop around, and it's worth it: Some plans come with a
.25 percentage point reduction on the existing
interest rates, others allow consolidators to keep
their six-month grace period—which is ordinarily
waived upon consolidation—and some will discount the
interest or the principal after a certain number of
on-time payments.

Borrowers should also consider getting a consolidation
loan directly from the federal government by going to The feds offer a variety of
repayment plans, including an income-contingent plan.
The State PIRGs offer their own website,

The Department of Education has announced that current
students, for the first time, will be allowed to
consolidate, if they're willing to start paying back
their loans as soon as they graduate. The only catch
is that if you've already consolidated once, you won't
be able to do it again unless you go back to school
and get another loan.

Consolidation is such a great deal for students, in
fact, that the big lenders would like to make it go
away. "They don't like it because it encourages so
much competition," says Rube of the State PIRGs. She
cites lender-backed bills now in Congress to eliminate
fixed-rate consolidation, which the Higher Education
Project is opposing.

For now, though, the lenders still have to beg for
your business. "I've never seen it this competitive,"
says Haygood, a 2002 graduate of the University of New
Orleans, who has her own student loans from her first
year of graduate school and is herself planning to
consolidate. "I've received e-mails from two different
lenders, saying 'We have your application all ready to
go, just sign here!' ” go to next article in news ->

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