Date: Jan 12, 2008 12:27 AM
Subject: Official Version of Naval Incident in the Persian Gulf Starts to Unravel
It would appear that the alleged incident of 5 small Iranian boats in the Gulf threatening U.S. naval vessels was a very distorted reportage of what actually happened, and on which major news media, and the Bush administration, got captivated by an appetite for sensationalism. This account by Gareth Porter of the International Press Service puts the whole thing in a much less alarming context.
QUOTED EXCERPT: Despite the official and media portrayal of the incident in the Strait of Hormuz early Monday morning as a serious threat to U.S. ships from Iranian speedboats that nearly resulted in a "battle at sea", new information over the past three days suggests that the incident did not involve such a threat and that no U.S. commander was on the verge of firing at the Iranian boats. The new information that appears to contradict the original version of the incident includes the revelation that U.S. officials spliced the audio recording of an alleged Iranian threat onto to a videotape of the incident. That suggests that the threatening message may not have come in immediately after the initial warning to Iranian boats from a U.S. warship, as appears to do on the video. . . . Bush administration officials seized on the incident to advance the portrayal of Iran as a threat and to strike a more threatening stance toward Iran. National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley declared Wednesday that the incident "almost involved an exchange of fire between our forces and Iranian forces". President George W. Bush declared during his Mideast trip Wednesday that there would be "serious consequences" if Iran attacked U.S. ships and repeated his assertion that Iran is "a threat to world peace". END QUOTE
Date: Jan 12, 2008 8:56 AM
Subject: Accurate intelligence (McCain and Lieberman)
Dear Senators John McCain and Joe Lieberman:
Regarding your January 10, 2008 Wall Street Journal op-ed entitled The Surge Worked, in which you stated confidently and forcefully that finally, almost five long years after the U.S. invasion of Iraq in March, 2003:
(1) Conditions (in Iraq) have been utterly transformed from those of a year ago;
(2) Violence across the country has dropped dramatically;
(3) We have at last begun to see the contours of what must remain our objective in this long, hard and absolutely necessary war --- victory.
Apparently the U. S. State Department has a slightly different view of the situation.
United States Department of State
Bureau of Consular Affairs
Washington, DC 20520
This information is current as of today, Sat Jan 12 00:45:45 2008.
This Travel Warning updates the current security situation and reiterates the dangers of the use of civilian aircraft and road travel within Iraq. This supersedes the Travel Warning of August 28, 2006.
The Department of State continues to strongly warn U.S. citizens against travel to Iraq, which remains very dangerous. Remnants of the former Ba'ath regime, transnational terrorists, criminal elements and numerous insurgent groups remain active. Attacks against military and civilian targets throughout Iraq continue, including in the International (or "Green") Zone. Targets include convoys en-route to venues, hotels, restaurants, police stations, checkpoints, foreign diplomatic missions, international organizations and other locations with expatriate personnel. These attacks have resulted in deaths and injuries of American citizens, including those doing humanitarian work. In addition, there have been planned and random killings, as well as extortions and kidnappings. Several U.S. citizens subsequently were murdered by terrorists. U.S. citizens and other foreigners are targeted by insurgent groups and criminals for kidnapping and murder. Military operations continue. There are daily attacks against Multinational Forces - Iraq (MNF-I) and Iraqi Security Forces throughout the country.
There is credible information that terrorists are targeting civil aviation. Civilian and military aircraft arriving at and departing from Baghdad International Airport (BIAP) for other major cities in Iraq have been subjected to small arms and missiles. Civilian aircraft generally lack defense systems capable of defeating man-portable air defense systems (MANPADS). As a result of a security incident at the Baghdad International Airport (BIAP), the U.S. Embassy has prohibited all U.S. government employees from departing BIAP on commercial airlines until further notice.
All vehicular travel in Iraq is extremely dangerous. There have been numerous attacks on civilian vehicles, as well as military convoys. Attacks occur throughout the day, but travel at night is exceptionally dangerous. Travel in or through Ramadi and Fallujah; in and between al-Hillah, al-Basrah, Kirkuk, Baqubah (Diyala Province), and Baghdad; between the International Zone and Baghdad International Airport; and from Baghdad to Mosul is particularly dangerous.
Occasionally, U.S. Government personnel are prohibited from traveling to certain areas depending on prevailing security conditions. Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs), Explosively Formed Penetrators (EFPs), and mines often are placed on roads, concealed in plastic bags, boxes, soda cans, dead animals, and in other ways to blend with the road. Grenades and explosives have been thrown into vehicles from overpasses, particularly in crowded areas. Overland travel should be undertaken only when absolutely necessary and with the appropriate security.
Prescription painkiller abuse is running rampant among Southwestern Va.'s rural residents.
* MULTIMEDIA: Drug Abuse Cuts a Swath
The Web of Addiction
Coal Miners in Western Va. Caught in Widening Cycle of Painkiller Abuse
By Nick Miroff
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, January 13, 2008; A01
TAZEWELL COUNTY, Va.
The crowd is gathering early in the dirt parking lot outside the Clinch Valley Treatment Center, the only methadone clinic within 80 miles. Third in line, Jeff Trapp smokes Winstons in his pickup, watching the cars turn off the highway and settle behind him, tires crunching on cold gravel, headlights glaring. It is 2:45 a.m., and Trapp has been awake for two hours. The clinic does not start dosing until 5.
Like Trapp, many of the patients who filled the lot one recent morning have jobs at far-off mines that start at 6 or 7. They sleep upright in their vehicles, slumped against the steering wheel, dressed for work in steel-toed black boots and coveralls lined with orange reflective strips. Dark rings circle their eyes where the previous day's coal dust didn't wash off.
Malcolm Lowry died in his cottage in the village of Ripe, in Sussex, late at night on June 26, 1957, or early the next morning. He was forty-seven years old. His wife, Margerie, found his body upstairs, on the floor of their bedroom. An autopsy revealed that Lowry, an alcoholic, had been drunk, and the doctor who examined the body found that he had swallowed a large number of barbiturates and had inhaled some half-digested food from his stomach. An inquest was held, at which a police officer, the Lowrys’ landlady, and Margerie testified. The coroner ruled the fatality a “misadventure”—that is, an accident. Lowry had choked to death on his own vomit.
Lowry is known for his 1947 novel, “Under the Volcano,” which chronicles the final hours of Geoffrey Firmin, an alcoholic Englishman living in Mexico, in the shadow of the Ixtacihuatl and Popocatepetl volcanoes. On November 1st, the Day of the Dead, Firmin, the former British consul, finds that his estranged wife, Yvonne, has come back to town. Paralyzed by his alcoholism, he drifts from cantina to cantina, considering ways to reclaim her; but he never acts. By nightfall, Firmin is dead in a ditch, shot by Mexican paramilitaries. “Volcano” fuses modernist and romantic sensibilities: the story is told from shifting points of view, and Firmin’s daylong odyssey is borrowed from “Ulysses”; at the same time, Lowry’s prose is fervent, laid down in unstable, looping sentences. Shortly before his death, the consul sees on a house an inscription that reads “No se puede vivir sin amar”—“One cannot live without love.” Lowry, in a 1946 letter to Margerie’s family, wrote, “ ‘Volcano’ ’s theme: ‘only against death does man cry out in vain.’ ” Dawn Powell wrote soon after the book’s publication, “In ‘Under the Volcano’ you love the author for the pain of his overwhelming understanding.”
Lowry began writing “Volcano” in his late twenties. The writing took four drafts and almost a decade. In his early attempts, he was more interested in seeing how many images and symbols he could embed in the text than in creating lifelike characters. It was only in 1939, when Lowry met Margerie, who was herself an aspiring writer, that the novel began assuming a coherent shape. Margerie suggested characters and plot turns, added sentences, and cut back Lowry’s wordiness. She was a good editor, and the only person who could manage her husband’s reckless temperament.
“Volcano” was published to broad acclaim. The critic Mark Schorer, reviewing the book in the New York Herald Tribune, wrote that few novels “convey so feelingly the agony of alienation, the infernal suffering of disintegration.” Lowry was hailed as a successor to Joyce, who had died six years earlier. “Volcano” was a popular success, too—for a time, Lowry bragged, the book outsold “Forever Amber.”
Already Lowry was worrying that he might never write another book as good as “Volcano.” After the New York trip, he and Margerie briefly returned to Dollarton, where they worked on a story about a couple looking for a new home, based on a visit they had made in 1946 to an island in British Columbia called Gabriola. They submitted the story, “October Ferry to Gabriola,” to their agent under a double byline; it did not sell, however. In November, 1947, they began a yearlong grand tour of Europe. Margerie had wanted the trip—she craved a larger stage than Dollarton provided. Lowry knew that abandoning his austere life was not good for him. “The French have enormous vitality,” he wrote to Margerie’s sister after visiting Paris. “But it’s a quality I don’t always admire. I like things rather sleepy.”
A friend, spotting him drunk in London, asked him what was next, and Lowry joked that he was writing “Under Under the Volcano.” He and Margerie began to quarrel. Lowry was by turns depressed and threatening: one night in the South of France, during a fight, he grabbed her by the neck; later, she found him a sanitarium outside Rome and took an adjoining room. Sneaking past a guard, he tried to strangle her again. At one point, he boasted in a letter to his French translator, he capped off nine whiskeys—six of them doubles—with the sedative Soneryl. During their European tour, Margerie wrote a letter to Albert Erskine, Lowry’s American editor, claiming that Lowry was “becoming actively dangerous: first to himself & me but now more savage towards everyone who crosses him in any way.” She got into the habit of giving him phenobarbital at night, to calm him.
Her journal entries, which are also at the University of British Columbia, reveal her anger. In an entry from December, 1947, she writes, “Altho he makes a great pretense of working . . . & of exercising & tries to fool me it is too obvious he is drinking all afternoon. . . . I had thought when I adored him as tho he were a god that love could survive anything but I begin to think that there are certain insults to human dignity that one should not survive.” She had also begun wondering about the effect of their folie à deux on her own creativity: “I have stopped thinking of myself as an artist because the last years my whole consciousness has been so completely absorbed by Malc & his immediate desires & storms.” Around the same time, she asked in her journal, “Is it conceivable that a man’s weakness can be so strong, that such evil can overpower me & exhaust me to the point that I become evil too?”
The Associated Press
Saturday, January 12, 2008; 4:24 PM
NASHUA, N.H. -- A senior adviser to Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton was arrested and charged with aggravated drunken driving a day before the New Hampshire primary.
Nashua police say Sidney Blumenthal was arrested early Monday morning after an officer pulled over a car traveling 70 mph in a 30 mph zone. Blumenthal, 59, is a journalist and former White House adviser to President Bill Clinton who is now serving as an unpaid adviser on Hillary Clinton's campaign.
"I asked if he was here with a campaign. He said he was here with Clinton," Sgt. Mike Masella, one of the arresting officers, told newsweek.com.
Masella said Blumenthal told him he got lost after leaving a restaurant in Manchester, about 20 miles away, to return to his hotel.
Smelling alcohol, officers said they administered a field sobriety test, which Blumenthal failed. Though Blumenthal declined to take a Breathalyzer test, he was arrested on a charge of aggravated drunken driving due to the speed, Masella said.
A handcuffed Blumenthal spent about four hours at a police station before being bailed out Monday morning, Masella said.
Blumenthal will be arraigned later this month.
His lawyer, Raymond Mello of Nashua, did not immediately respond to a message left at his office on Saturday morning. A Clinton campaign spokeswoman had no comment on the matter when reached Saturday.