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Bush approval rating drops among supporters

Zogby poll: Bush approval rating drops among supporters

WASHINGTON, DC — In the face of rising gas prices, partisan sniping over his Supreme Court nominee, and a resumption of insurgent violence in Iraq, Pres. Bush’s job approval rating has slipped into a post-holiday funk, again dipping below 40 percent, a new poll by Zogby International found.

Bush’s approval rating almost mirrors the percentage of respondents — 40 percent — who said the nation overall is headed in the right direction.

The deterioration in the president’s numbers appears to be the result of eroding support among the investor class and others who supported him in his 2004 re-election bid, said pollster John Zogby. And the problem is the Iraq war — just 34 percent of respondents said Bush was doing a good or excellent job managing the war, down from 38 percent approval in a Zogby poll taken in mid-October.

Bush approval rating drops among supporters

Bush’s overall job approval rating in that poll was at 46 percent.

Among investors, Bush’s support for managing the war dropped five points since October, from 45 percent to 40 percent, Zogby data shows. But Zogby said the glaring split between how Republicans, Democrats and independents think the president is handling Iraq is remarkable.

“The numbers in support for the war in Iraq are extremely low among Democrats and independents,” Zogby said. “This is a partisan war.”

While 61 percent of Republicans said Bush was doing a good job managing the war (down from 70 percent in October), just 11 percent of Democrats and 28 percent of independents gave him good marks in that area. Among Democrats, 71 percent said Bush was doing a “poor” job with the war, while 17 percent said he was doing only a “fair” job.

Among men, 36 percent said the president was handling the war well, while 31 percent of women agreed. Half of those surveyed said they feel safer with Bush as president, compared to 38 percent who said they feel less safe.

Respondents rated the war in Iraq and the “war on terror” as the two top issues facing America. Jobs and the economy were also important, they said, with health care coming in a distant fourth, followed by concern over gas and fuel prices.

Asked about his leadership of foreign policy in general, 36 percent said Bush was doing a good job.

Asked about which party they would support when making a decision about the race for Congress in their home district, Democrats maintained a 33 to 26 percent edge over Republicans.

But as the nation’s capital sinks further into scandal talk revolving around Congress and allegations of improper gifts doled out by lobbyist Jack Abramoff, the poll shows the public has yet to hold one party more responsible than the other. Despite Democratic efforts to paint the Abramoff influence-pedaling case as a Republican scandal, the GOP holds a slight advantage in the minds of respondents when it comes to integrity — 35 percent said they believed Republicans have more integrity, while 34 percent gave the nod to Democrats. Of those polled, 19 percent said neither party had integrity.

The nationwide Zogby poll, conducted Jan. 9-12, included 1,030 interviews and carries a margin of error of plus or minus 3.1 percentage points.

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Vermonter arrested while protesting U.S. military school

Taking on torture: Vermonter arrested while protesting U.S. military school

BURLINGTON — For years, Burlington filmmaker and activist Robin Lloyd has travelled throughout Latin America, observing firsthand the death and destruction left behind by U.S.-bred military policies promoting counterinsurgencies.

More recently, she has been traveling the world as part of Code Pink, is on the national board of the Women’s International League of Peace and Freedom, and continues to work as a filmmaker and publisher of Toward Freedom, a progressive-minded, international public affairs website.

On Nov. 20, she took her longstanding opposition to U.S. policies of torture and became one of 40 people arrested at an annual protest against the U.S. Army’s Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation (WHINSEC). She expects to serve at least three months in a federal prison as a result and pay a fine of up to $5,000.

Vermonter arrested while protesting U.S. military school

The school is more commonly known by its former moniker, the School of the Americas (SOA), and is located at Fort Benning in Columbus, GA. Each year, thousands of protesters gather at its gates.

More than 15,000 people were at the Nov. 20 protest, according to protest organizers, making it one of the largest gatherings. After “a rough night” in a local county jail, Lloyd posted bail, but will return on Jan. 30 for a court hearing on a federal charge of trespassing.

Lloyd, who is 67, is no stranger to civil disobedience. She was part of the legendary Winooski 44 arrested in 1984 for a sit-in at the office of U.S. Sen. Robert Stafford over U.S. involvement in Central America, and the Republican senator’s own votes.

At their trial, protesters invoked the so-called “necessity defense”; in other words, they were forced to take illegal actions to stop a greater injustice. This defense, along with invoking elements of international law, was used justify their actions. Chittenden County District Court Judge Frank Mahady agreed with their reasoning and, in a decision still hailed today in some legal circles, acquitted the group.

While Lloyd says she may use the necessity defence again, she doesn’t believe that the federal judge in Georgia will be as understanding as his Vermont counterpart was two decades ago.

Her arrest also means she won’t be able to travel early next year to the World Social Forum, to be held in Venezuela, an annual gathering she had been looking forward to attending.

Lloyd was the only Vermonter arrested this year. Several years ago, thousands of protesters were detained, and then later released, after they crossed onto the school’s property.

“I had gone down just once before, when 4,000 of us walked into the zone with our crosses … and they stopped us and put us all in buses and drove us somewhere and let us out,” Lloyd recalled of her previous protest at the school. “They didn’t fingerprint us or anything.”

Since 9/11, however, Lloyd said the school has beefed up its security around the annual protest, and prosecutors have doled out harsher punishments. “They had three fences, but you could still climb under the fence and that’s what people did. We were hoping that 500 people would cross over, and we could overwhelm them.”

Lloyd said the growing U.S. public debate about the use of torture by the military helped to bring in additional protesters this year to the SOA.

Lloyd was arrested while attempting to issue a warrant for citizen’s arrest to Colonel Gilberto R. Perez, director of WHINSEC. The warrant cited the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which states: “[N]o one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.” Lloyd claimed that Perez is harbouring known human rights abusers, and should be held accountable.

The SOA has been located at Fort Benning since 1984 when it was kicked out of Panama because of its strong connections to military coups and torture, protesters say. More than 60,000 soldiers from throughout Latin America have graduated from the SOA, many of them responsible for some of the worst atrocities in Latin America since the school’s inception in 1946. The list includes the massacre of over 900 civilians in El Mozote, El Salvador, in 1981, and numerous massacres in Colombia this year.

“The people who come to this school are knighted with impunity,” Lloyd said. “They know that no one is going to bring them to account in their countries. This is the grandfather of developing the policy of counterinsurgency, which means setting up these paramilitary groups and slaughtering innocent civilians.” Best website for news

A republic, if we can keep it

A republic, if we can keep it

So what’s all this month’s flag-waving, drum-beating, parading down Main Streets, and setting off fireworks all about? Are Founding Fathers signing the Declaration of Independence? Nice ideas. American colonists winning their Revolutionary War? Against exactly what? The British Empire, the first formal fascist corporate-dictator-state religion alliance?

I don’t know what planet you live on, but that declaration is a signed piece of paper and the War of Independence isn’t over by a long shot. In fact, the latest edition of U.S. fascism has slipped into the mainstream of the United States largely undetected.

Many flag-wavers have identified with the enemy, while a silent majority struggles with learned helplessness as the corporate-controlled media weaves its version of the crazy-making shell game. Here’s the truth, shuffle, shuffle, pick it out. No, not that one. Wrong again! As Mark Twain allegedly put it, “If you don’t read the newspaper, you are uninformed; if you do read the newspaper, you are misinformed.”

A republic, if we can keep it

Meanwhile, the major media outlets routinely ignore, ridicule, and/or browbeat the resistance.

The original American rebels may have applauded their declaration, won a few military victories, ousted the Brits, and signed on to a confederation of republican states under the Constitution, but their leadership understood full well that democracy was not a done deal.

Indeed, we descendants of the revolution have failed to exercise our responsibility to grow the Founders’ innovative form of democracy. And although the courageous among the past few generations have fought for women’s right to vote, civil rights, women’s control of their bodies, hundreds of environmental causes, fair economies, sustainable technologies, and peaceful resolutions to war (Vietnam, Gulf War, War on Drugs, invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, and the concept of the War on Terrorism), the majority of so-called U.S. citizens live in denial, wrapped in Old Glory, championing the status quo. Most of us are oblivious to our virtual slavery in the concentration camp of corporate conventionality.

It wasn’t like we weren’t warned about the bad guys and the location of future battlefields. The Founding Fathers cautioned us that the threat to democracy would not arrive as a fiery invasion from overseas, but that it would slither from inside our very own federal government, its powerful coils silently, bit by bit, squeezing out the citizenry’s life force.

Thomas Jefferson cautioned us that “even under the best forms [of government] those entrusted with power have, in time, and by slow operations, perverted it into tyranny.” As early as 1821, he witnessed firsthand the corrosive nature of the threat: “Our country is now taking so steady a course as to show by what road it will pass to destruction, to wit: by consolidation [of power] first, and then corruption, its necessary consequence.”

James Madison agreed: “We are free today substantially, but the day will come when our Republic will be an impossibility. It will be an impossibility because wealth will be concentrated in the hands of a few.”

Future presidents substantiated the Founding Fathers’ fears. Theodore Roosevelt observed, “Behind the ostensible government sits enthroned an invisible government owing no allegiance and acknowledging no responsibility to the people.”

Dwight D. Eisenhower identified the hidden entrenched interests in his 1961 warning: “We must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.” Ike was right.

Well, here we are at Year Four of the permanent War on Terrorism; James Madison’s prediction strikes to the heart of the matter: “If tyranny and oppression come to this land, it will be in the guise of fighting a foreign enemy.”

A few years ago, historian Chalmers Johnson outlined how our democratic ideals will wither away under the pressures of a state of perpetual war, increased propaganda, seriously eroded constitutional rights, and an aggressive executive branch. “America,” he concluded, “will cease to resemble the country outlined in the Constitution of 1787” unless the people commit to a “revolutionary rehabilitation of American democracy.”

As a longtime Brattleboro resident, I have participated in a number of civic-minded groups — Interfaith Council, Brattleboro Area Peace and Justice Group, Southern Vermonters for Environmental Protection and Fair Economy, Brattleboro Climate Protection, Northeast Center for Social Issues Studies (the group behind the buy-the-dams movement), Democracy School, Second Vermont Republic, New England Coalition, and the CVPS- and VELCO-sponsored Southern Loop Working Committee.

Vermonters working with hundreds of such groups do a wonderful service to our community and our state. But while we citizens are busy confronting symptoms, the underlying pathology of U.S. fascism continues to erode our efforts to create a sustainable economic future for our children and our communities.

With all due respect for those serving time as combatants overseas or as convicted felons for civil disobedience, I recognize as some of our most courageous citizens the minority who are trying to “think globally and act locally,” and the fewer still who are investigating the truth behind 9/11 and/or Vermont’s peaceful secession from the once confederated union of independent states.

When theologian David Ray Griffin, author of two scholarly books on the official 9/11 conspiracy theory, spoke last fall to standing-room audiences, Vermont’s daily newspapers did not report on the events, let alone honor those who responded to Griffin’s Christian expression of courage and moral authority with a standing ovation.

Want to bring the Declaration’s words back to life? Want to line up on the side of independence? Keep up your good work, join any number of local groups, or check out 911sharethetruth.com, 911truth.org, vtcommons.org, or vermontrepublic.org.

After the signing of the Constitution, when someone asked wise old Ben Franklin what type of government the framers had drafted, he answered with a simple challenge to future generations, “A republic, if you can keep it.”

Richard Foley is a member of the Second Vermont Republic and Vermont Commons: Voices of Independence.

China considers touch of green

BEIJING — Is China beginning to go green? There are some early signs, including the nation’s latest five-year plan, which calls for the efficient use of resources to build an “environmentally friendly society,” and tax reforms discussed at a recent seminar. The latter include preferential policies for the recycling industry and a possible consumption tax for disposable chopsticks, plastic bags, diapers, and other environmentally harmful goods.

According to chinaview.com, when the ideas were outlined by taxation chief Xie Xuren, scholars like Li Xiangju of Xi’an Communications University were enthusiastic. “Things like disposable chopsticks and plastic bags cause a big waste on natural resources and pose environmental hazards,” he said.

Professor Zhu Qing of Renmin University suggested levying the tax as part of the retail price to discourage consumers. However, other scholars warned that it was difficult to identify products as disposable.

“Green taxation is an international trend,” said Jin Dongsheng, a leading researcher of the State Taxation Administration. Some European nations levy tax on sulphur dioxide discharge. New Zealand will tax the emission of smoke and dust, and Sweden will levy a traffic congestion tax starting in 2006. Xie Xuren said China is set to replace road-use fees with a fuel tax in the next five years.

Former defence chief urges UFO hearings

TORONTO — Three non-governmental organizations have joined forces with former Canadian Defense Minister Paul Hellyer in urging the Canadian parliament to hold public hearings on “exopolitics,” or relations with extraterrestrials. The groups were reacting to a speech made by Hellyer in September in Toronto in which he warned that “UFOs are as real as the aeroplanes that fly over your head,” reports the Edmonton Sun.

Hellyer is also concerned the United States is preparing weapons for use against the aliens and could get the whole world into an “intergalactic war.” According to Hellyer, the U.S. interest in returning to the moon is in part based on the desire to build a forward military base there.

The three organizations backing Hellyer’s request are the Institute for Co-operation in Space (ICIS), the Toronto Exopolitics Symposium, and the Disclosure Project, a U.S.-based organization that has assembled high-level military intelligence witnesses of a possible ET presence. Earlier this month, the Senate replied to the ICIS that their full agenda precluded hearings in the near future on ET issues.

“That does not deter us,” said a spokesman for the NGOs. “Time is on the side of open disclosure that there are ethical extraterrestrial civilizations visiting Earth.”

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US Soldiers Investigated for Shooting Afghan Villagers

U.S. soldiers investigated for shooting Afghan villagers: Two witnesses said that after the initial gunfire, soldiers approached one of the wounded Afghans and shot him dead at close range.

U.S. soldiers investigated for shooting Afghan villagers :

Two witnesses said that after the initial gunfire, soldiers approached one of the wounded Afghans and shot him dead at close range.

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