The headquarters of the UN refugee agency was on fire today after coming under attack as Israeli forces pushed deeper into Gaza City, unleashing the heaviest shelling of densely packed neighbourhoods since the military operation began nearly three weeks ago.
The UN secretary general, Ban Ki-moon, expressed “strong protest and outrage” and demanded an investigation into why there was an attack on the compound of the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), a well-known location in Gaza marked with blue UN flags. The number of casualties in the Gaza Strip, now 1,055 according to local UN officials, had “reached an unbearable point”, Ban added. Read More.
JERUSALEM - The main UN compound in Gaza was left in flames today after being struck by Israeli artillery fire, and a spokesman said that the building had been hit by shells containing the incendiary agent white phosphorus.
Democracy Now! [video]
President Obama, on his first day in office, can make a number of changes that will mark a clean break with the Bush presidency. He can, and should, issue an executive order revoking any prior order that permits detainee mistreatment by any government agency. He should begin the process of closing Guantánamo, and he should submit to Congress a bill to end the use of military commissions, at least as presently constituted. Over the coming months he can pursue other reforms to restore respect for the Constitution, such as revising the Patriot Act, abolishing secret prisons and "extraordinary rendition," and ending practices, like signing statements, that seek to undo laws.
The Most Ridiculous Speech of All
WRP for Truthout:
Drowning Our Sorrows
The Bush Doctrine of pre-emptive warfare. Hurricane Katrina and "heckuva job, Brownie." The explicit rejection of the Geneva Conventions. John Yoo's and Alberto Gonzales's redefinition of torture. Paul Wolfowitz as head of the World Bank subsidizing his girlfriend. Ahmad Chalabi. The FCC allowing greater consolidation of media. The outing of Valerie Plame. The manipulations asserting that there were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. The addled handling of Harriet Miers's nomination to the Supreme Court. Opposition to stem cell research. The looting of the National Museum of Iraq, and the burning of Baghdad's National Library. Donald Rumsfeld's remarks that rioting in Iraq was the sign of a liberated people and that Iraq was no more violent than some American cities. Stacking the Civil Rights Commission with conservatives, like Abigail Thernstrom, who want to overturn sections of the Voting Rights Act. Read More.
Obama's New AG Pick Says Waterboarding IS Torture
"Waterboarding is torture," said Holder, President-elect Barack Obama's pick to run the Justice Department.
Holder's blunt response to the first question at his confirmation hearing Thursday was one that many on the Senate Judiciary Committee had sought after years of frustrating non-answers on the subject from Attorney General Michael Mukasey and his predecessor, Alberto Gonzales.
The answer also sent a wave of approval through the public viewing gallery where protesters, dressed in orange prison scrubs like those worn by detainees at the Guantanamo Bay military prison, held signs calling for an end to torture.
The 57-year-old former prosecutor, who would become the nation's first black attorney general, pledged to shut down the U.S. naval prison in Cuba in part by sending detainees to trial in the United States, and restore the Justice Department's reputation of independence from political interference. Read More.
Paul Krugman @ NY Times:
Last Sunday President-elect Barack Obama was asked whether he would seek an investigation of possible crimes by the Bush administration. “I don’t believe that anybody is above the law,” he responded, but “we need to look forward as opposed to looking backwards.”
I’m sorry, but if we don’t have an inquest into what happened during the Bush years — and nearly everyone has taken Mr. Obama’s remarks to mean that we won’t — this means that those who hold power are indeed above the law because they don’t face any consequences if they abuse their power.
Let’s be clear what we’re talking about here. It’s not just torture and illegal wiretapping, whose perpetrators claim, however implausibly, that they were patriots acting to defend the nation’s security. The fact is that the Bush administration’s abuses extended from environmental policy to voting rights. And most of the abuses involved using the power of government to reward political friends and punish political enemies. Read More.
Alternet reports: So Long Worst President Ever
After eight long years, Bush can no longer fool the public. Polls show that he is the most unpopular president in the history of survey research. When the 2006 and 2008 elections are considered together, Bush policies resulted in the landslide rejection of his party at both the federal and state levels. There are probably a hundred examples where Bush conservatism failed, but let's stick with the top 10. Read More.
Democracy Now! [video]