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Saturday, May 12, 2007

Chicago Tribune Editorial - The great ship approaches

Chicago Tribune Editorial - The great ship approaches
Copyright © 2007, Chicago Tribune
Published May 12, 2007

Think of a ship sailing in a thick fog. We, the people stand on shore, not very comfortable with the way things are, looking out to sea, into that wall of fog, anticipating what the fates will deliver. Just the prow of the great presidential ship protrudes from the fog. Too many people are on deck, all angling to get the point position.

How do they do that?

For the Republicans, it involves invoking just the right saints (Ronald Reagan being the most important) and the right rhetoric to send the message that this election is not about the Bush administration, but doing it in a way that does not offend the 30 percent of the electorate that is still firmly behind the president. That group forms the heart of the Republican Party, the base, the likely primary voters.

Talking tough is part of this process. It's not enough to say you want to kill Osama bin Laden. Up the ante by claiming you want to chase him into a cave and kill him with your bare hands, or perhaps dice him up into little chunks. Or kill him two or three times. The fact that everyone from the Oval Office on down to the exhausted American soldier in the distant Afghan mountains also would like to kill him is immaterial.

The Democrats are talking to their base, too, and what it wants most to hear now (along with a substantial part of the general population) is that the war in Iraq can be brought to a close. Democratic front-runner Hillary Rodham Clinton, the New York senator, has now shifted into a much more aggressive stance on ending a war she voted to authorize. She wants to block access for Barack Obama, the Illinois senator who was anti-war before it was popular to be anti-war, to the prow of that great ship. She has to stay up front.

At this stage for both parties, then, it is a remarkably primitive dance on the deck. We can't really know whose rhythmic steps will guide him or her to the point of the prow, which is why we have to keep watching that ship as it emerges from the fog.

One thing you might notice if you were actually a candidate on the ship, to push the metaphor a bit, is that the shoreline keeps mutating. With Florida's decision to hold its primary near the end of January, it now appears that late January and early February, crammed full of primaries and caucuses, could decide the two parties' choice of presidential candidates.

This has set off a determined skirmish among officials in the various states -- Illinois included -- to get as close to the front as possible, like hungry scamps at a boys' school when word slips out there is something palatable for lunch.

If this keeps up, New Hampshire will be holding its primary on Labor Day, or sooner, depending on whether Florida and California respond with their elbows. For the record, the Granite State's secretary of state, William M. Gardner, said a few days back that moving the vote to December is "not beyond the realm of possibility."

It's enough to make your holiday bells jingle.

This candidate deck crowd will wither almost before you know it, the fog will lift, and the shape of next year's race (or maybe even late this year's race) will become much more clear, with two candidates and whomever else the process may deliver (Remember Ralph Nader?) up front.

But not just yet. Cue the foghorn.

General's assessment in Iraq: 'I do not have enough soldiers'

General's assessment in Iraq: 'I do not have enough soldiers'
By Aamer Madhani
Copyright © 2007, Chicago Tribune
Published May 12, 2007

WASHINGTON -- With the final troops in President Bush's buildup flowing into Iraq, the U.S. military commander overseeing much of the north-central part of the country said Friday that he doesn't have enough troops for the mission in restive Diyala province.

Maj. Gen. Benjamin Mixon said he has asked Lt. Gen. Raymond Odierno, the No. 2 commander in Iraq, for more troops to help pacify the increasingly violent Al Qaeda hotbed northeast of Baghdad.

"I do not have enough soldiers right now in Diyala province to get that security situation moving," Mixon said. "We have plans to put additional forces in that region."

Mixon, who spoke to Pentagon reporters during a video conference from a U.S. base in Tikrit, would not say how many more troops he needs. But he said he recently proposed a plan to Odierno to bolster troop levels. He said that Odierno told him that additional troops would be deployed to the province as they become available.

"I believe once we see those plans through, that the situation in Diyala will get to the level that we want it to get to, and that's that the Iraqi security forces can begin to take responsibility for the security in that area," said Mixon, who commands a large swath of northern Iraq, including Diyala.

The general's remarks came as the U.S. military faces increased scrutiny from congressional Democrats over whether the so-called surge of nearly 30,000 more U.S. troops in Iraq is having any significant effect.

Gen. David Petraeus, the top U.S. commander in Iraq, has promised to report to Congress in September on how the security plan is working.

Mixon would not comment directly on whether he thought the surge would be needed into next year, as some commanders have predicted, but he warned against a quick pullout.

"You know, we just can't think about pulling out of here just like that," he said. "We need to have a long-term commitment in some form or fashion to ensure security in the region."

Diyala, long a hotbed of Al Qaeda activity, has seen more violence since Bush announced in January that he would send more troops to Iraq, primarily to Baghdad and the western Anbar province. Mixon currently has about 3,500 troops in Diyala.

The past week has been particularly difficult in Diyala. The U.S. military announced Friday that an American soldier was killed Thursday in an explosion in the province. On Tuesday, a U.S. soldier was killed and four others were wounded in a shooting attack. And six U.S. soldiers and an embedded Russian journalist were killed Sunday when a bomb destroyed their vehicle.

The heightened violence has been spurred by a recent increase in the U.S. military's operational tempo but is also the result of insurgents in Baghdad fleeing the U.S. deployment in the capital, Mixon said.

Mixon was also critical of the provincial and national governments, saying the Iraqis have proved to be largely ineffective. He said the officials have been too slow in providing necessary logistical support. The poor performance has worsened the security situation.

The general said he was particularly concerned about the ability of Iraqi security forces to protect oil pipelines that snake across his area of operation.

"Results in these particular organizations have been marginal, at best, since my arrival," Mixon said. "Our efforts to train and build capacity for them is limited, and the national ministries must step and do their job so that Iraqis can have basic services at the grass-roots level."

U.S. drops limits on Gitmo lawyer visits

U.S. drops limits on Gitmo lawyer visits
Copyright © 2007, Chicago Tribune and The Associated Press
Published May 12, 2007

WASHINGTON -- After criticism that it was undermining fair trials, the Bush administration dropped its plan to limit the number of times defense attorneys could visit terrorism detainees at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

The government had sought to limit lawyers to three visits, but in a motion filed Friday in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, the Justice Department said the limits no longer were necessary.

"Based on a current evaluation of resources and needs at Guantanamo, the [government] has decided this provision is no longer warranted," Justice Department attorneys wrote in the 6-page motion.

The government also said it would allow defense counsel to send mail to detainees once they establish and prove an attorney-client relationship. Initially the Justice Department charged that the lawyer-detainee mail system "was misused" to inform detainees about terrorist attacks, military operations in Iraq, activities of terrorist leaders, efforts in the war on terrorism, the Hezbollah attack on Israel and abuse at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq.

The proposed policy was roundly criticized last month by the American Bar Association as a violation of constitutional rights to a fair trial.

An ABA spokeswoman did not have an immediate comment on the government's reversal Friday.

Financial Times Editorial comment: Republicans fear defeat over Iraq

Republicans fear defeat over Iraq
Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2007
Published: May 11 2007 20:28 | Last updated: May 11 2007 20:28

Talking to Fox News, the conservative broadcaster, on his visit to Baghdad on Thursday, Dick Cheney said: “We didn’t get elected to worry just about the fate of the Republican party. Our mission is to do everything we can to prevail ... against one of the most evil opponents we’ve ever faced.”

Back in Washington Mr Cheney’s Republican colleagues are showing growing irritation with the vice-president’s Iraq war logic. On Tuesday 11 moderate Republican lawmakers warned George W. Bush that their support for his Iraq “surge” was rapidly running out. Tom Davis, a congressman from northern Virginia, told the US president that in one portion of his House district just 5 per cent supported his Iraq strategy.

The same growing unease applies with even greater force to Republicans in the Senate, who hold 21 of the 33 Senate seats that will be contested in next year’s congressional elections. Many Democrats believe that they could improve their narrow 51-49 Senate majority next year to a filibuster-proof 60 seats or more.

Such is the Democratic party’s confidence that some Democrats are talking of bringing about the same kind of splits in the Republican party that so damaged their own party’s electoral fortunes following the Vietnam war a generation ago. “There are a lot of people on the Republican side who are not happy with the situation,” said Trent Lott, a normally hardline Republican Senate leader.

As a result Republican lawmakers are now wondering aloud about the contents of the Iraq war “Plan B” that Pentagon officials and US generals have hinted will be provided in September should the troop “surge” fail to achieve its purpose. More than 300 US soldiers have died since Mr Bush unveiled the “new way forward” in January.

“The assumption has always been that Mr Bush was planning to bequeath the Iraq war to his successor and that the Republicans in Congress would go along with him,” says Charlie Cook, a leading political analyst. “But that looks increasingly difficult by the day. We could be facing a Nixon in 1975 situation where senior Republicans ultimately prevail on George Bush to change course.”

This week a Newsweek poll put Mr Bush’s approval rating at a new low of 28 per cent, making him the most unpopular US president since Jimmy Carter registered similar scores during the Iranian hostage crisis in 1979. Almost two-thirds of those polled said his actions in Iraq showed he was “stubborn and unwilling to admit mistakes”.

An even stronger measure of Mr Bush’s declining sway within his own party came on Thursday night when he addressed his party’s official convention at a gala fund-raising evening in Washington. “Our mission is to keep the White House in 2008 and retake the Senate and the House,” he said.

Mr Bush managed to raise $10.5m for his party at the event compared to $17m last year and $38.5m the year before. For the first time in many years both the Democratic presidential field and the Democratic congressional leadership are out-fundraising their Republican opponents by about 50 per cent.

In the next 10 days Mr Bush will have another opportunity to demonstrate his immunity to the US public’s backlash against the Iraq war, when Congress sends him its second version of the Iraq and Afghanistan war funding bill he vetoed in its first incarnation last month.

This time the Democratic leadership on Capitol Hill has removed the US troop withdrawal deadlines that prompted Mr Bush’s original veto. But the bill is still likely to contain provisions Mr Bush finds offensive. The Democrats, who have maintained unity in spite of grassroots pressure to cut off all funding for the war, believe their moderation will win more Republican waverers to their side.

“This is the most important American political debate since the 1968 to 1973 Vietnam period,” says Richard Holbrooke, a senior foreign policy adviser to Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign and potential future secretary of state. “For the first time in America’s history, the next president will come to office inheriting two ongoing wars in Afghanistan and Iraq – that is the situation we are in.”

Meanwhile, Mr Bush is searching for someone credible to fill the new post of Iraq war “tsar” in the White House. Up to six US generals have reportedly rebuffed the White House’s overtures.

“You’d have to be very patriotic to take on a job like that at a time like this,” says Mr Cook.

International Herald Tribune Editorial - George W. Bush, alone

International Herald Tribune Editorial - George W. Bush, alone
Copyright by The International Herald Tribune
Published: May 11, 2007

The difference between mainstream hawks and mainstream doves on Iraq seems to have boiled down to two months, with House Democrats now demanding progress by July while moderate Republicans are willing to give the White House until September, but no longer, to show results.

Then there is President George W. Bush, who has yet to acknowledge the reality that congressional Republicans now seem to accept. Three months into Bush's troop escalation, there is no real security in Baghdad and no measurable progress toward reconciliation, while American public support for this folly has all but run out.

The really important question now facing Washington is the one Bush still refuses to address: how, while there is still some time left, to design an exit strategy that contains the chaos in Iraq and minimizes the damage to U.S. interests when American troops inevitably leave.

There was no shortage of reminders this week of how swiftly and thoroughly the political landscape has shifted against the war.

Thursday brought Tony Blair's announcement that he will step down as Britain's prime minister next month. He chose to go out on a high note, after the formation of a new Northern Ireland government joining Sinn Fein with its fiercest Protestant foes. That is a historic achievement. But it cannot disguise the way Blair's once boundless prospects and personal credibility imploded after he became Bush's most articulate enabler on Iraq.

If Bush hopes to salvage anything from his 20 months left in office, and, more to the point, if he wants to play a constructive role in the accelerating Iraq endgame, he needs to understand how much has changed in this country, and how tragically little has changed in Iraq.

The American people are no longer willing to write blank checks of blood and treasure to an Iraqi government that has refused to stop rampaging Shiite militias, has failed to approve constitutional changes to bring estranged Sunni Arabs back into the political system, and has still not come up with a way to share oil revenues fairly. Now it wants to give itself a two-month summer vacation.

Bush needs to face up to this grim reality and abandon his fantasies of ultimate victory and vindication. Otherwise, he could find himself, and America's best long-term interests, run over by a bipartisan rush toward the nearest exit.

Friday, May 11, 2007

California Democratic State Convention - Major candidates support gay agenda, except for marriage

California Democratic State Convention - Major candidates support gay agenda, except for marriage
Gay delegates caucus
by Rex Wockner
Copyright by Buzz magazine San Diego and Rex Wockner
11 May 2007

Gay issues stayed mostly in the background at the California Democratic
State Convention held April 27-29 at the San Diego Convention Center,
but the two leading Democratic presidential candidates did make brief
references to LGBT people in their speeches to delegates.

"When we try to have an honest debate about the crises we face, whether
it's on the Senate floor or a Sunday talk show, the conversation isn't
about finding common ground, it's about finding someone to blame," said
U.S. Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill.

"We're divided into red states and blue states, and told to always point
the finger at somebody else -- the other party, or gay people, or

U.S. Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., in her address to delegates, promised
to treat all Americans equally, regardless of "who you love."

"Are you ready for a president again who actually respects science and
believes we ought to listen to scientists on -- oh, let's say, global
climate change and stem cell research?" Clinton asked. "Are you ready
for a government that treats all Americans with dignity and equality no
matter who you are and who you love? Are you ready to replace cronyism
with competence again?"

Former U.S. Sen. John Edwards, D-N.C., did not refer to gays during his

Clinton and Edwards held press conferences following their speeches.
Some gay reporters in attendance raised their hands to ask questions but
neither candidate called on them.

Local gay activist Doug Case, a board member of the LGBT-oriented San
Diego Democratic Club, said about 250 to 300 of the convention's 2,400
delegates came from the gay community.

SUBHEAD: Gay Dems Caucus

On the convention's first evening, about 150 people attended a meeting
of the LGBT Caucus of the California Democratic Party. They elected new
officers and heard from representatives of the presidential campaigns,
openly gay members of the California Legislature, and gay and lesbian
candidates for public office.

San Diego's Jess Durfee, a convention delegate and chair of the San
Diego County Democratic Party, was elected male co-chair of the caucus.
Laurie McBride of Sacramento was elected female co-chair.

Durfee said the caucus "advocates for inclusion of LGBT issues in the
party's platform, resolutions and policies; promotes involvement by LGBT
Democrats in the party apparatus; promotes LGBT Democratic candidates;
and advocates for party support on LGBT issues."

Delegate Jeri Dilno, who is political director of the San Diego
Democratic Club, said any differences in the positions of Clinton,
Edwards and Obama on gay issues are "fairly subtle."

SDDC's Case agreed, saying: "There's no clear distinction between any of
the major candidates with regard to their positions on our issues. ...
They support equal rights for gay and lesbian families and civil unions
but don't go so far as to support same-sex marriage."

Dilno suggested that Clinton's comments on gays tend to be "those nice,
progressive 'Everybody should have equal rights but I think domestic
partners are the way to go; I'm not ready to say marriage; gays are my
best friends' sort of things."

"What I did want to ask Hillary, or someone from her campaign -- and I
never got to -- was, Does she support Gov. [Eliot] Spitzer's same-sex
marriage bill that's been introduced in New York?" Dilno said. "She's a
New Yorker, she's a senator, and that's a legitimate question I don't
think she's answered."

Dilno agreed with many others who "felt electricity in the room" when
Obama addressed the convention. But Dilno asked: "What did he really
say? What is his plan?"

"Obama is the most motivational," agreed Case, "but there wasn't enough
substance to his proposals. Hillary and Edwards gave more specifics."

Dilno also noted that Edwards was the first one out of the gate to
clearly disagree with Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Peter Pace in
March when he said that "homosexual acts between two individuals are

Clinton and Obama both initially evaded the question when reporters
asked them if homosexuality is immoral. After complaints from their gay
supporters, both later directly stated that it is not.

Local activist Bob Nelson, a frequent major donor to LGBT causes, said
"all the major candidates are focusing on mainstream issues and not
giving a lot of focus to what I'll call minority issues."

"They're all talking about big themes: Iraq, the poverty divide,
universal access to affordable health care," he said. "These are issues
that play to broad, middle-of-the-road audiences. So, my observation is
that the candidates are trying not to get off on any sidetracks that
might be really important to me as a gay man, but maybe are second- or
third-tier issues to 80 or 90 percent of America."

Nelson said Edwards and Clinton seem to have a better grasp of "the
legislative and regulatory issues that separate LGBT people from full
access to our federal rights."

"I don't get the impression that Obama has really focused on the 1,300
or so discriminations that exist in federal law and, because of that, I
think that while all three will be ultimately sympathetic to most of the
issues that I care about, I feel more comfortable with Edwards and
Clinton in getting into the nuts and bolts."

Case said most of the convention's LGBT delegates probably haven't
selected their candidate yet.

"I'm looking at who has the ability to win the White House, given that
they're all similar," he said.


Editor's note: Reporter Rex Wockner and San Diego County Democratic
Party Chair Jess Durfee are housemates.

Hold On to Your Humanity

Hold On to Your Humanity
by Stan Goff
Copyright by t r u t h o u t | Letter

Saturday 15 November 2003
An Open Letter to GIs in Iraq
Dear American serviceperson in Iraq,

I am a retired veteran of the army, and my own son is among you, a paratrooper like I was. The changes that are happening to every one of you?some more extreme than others?are changes I know very well. So I'm going to say some things to you straight up in the language to which you are accustomed.

In 1970, I was assigned to the 173rd Airborne Brigade, then based in northern Binh Dinh Province in what was then the Republic of Vietnam. When I went there, I had my head full of s**t: s**t from the news media, s**t from movies, s**t about what it supposedly mean to be a man, and s**t from a lot of my know-nothing neighbors who would tell you plenty about Vietnam even though they'd never been there, or to war at all.

The essence of all this s**t was that we had to "stay the course in Vietnam," and that we were on some mission to save good Vietnamese from bad Vietnamese, and to keep the bad Vietnamese from hitting beachheads outside of Oakland. We stayed the course until 58,000 Americans were dead and lots more maimed for life, and 3,000,000 Southeast Asians were dead. Ex-military people and even many on active duty played a big part in finally bringing that crime to a halt.

When I started hearing about weapons of mass destruction that threatened the United States from Iraq, a shattered country that had endured almost a decade of trench war followed by an invasion and twelve years of sanctions, my first question was how in the hell can anyone believe that this suffering country presents a threat to the United States? But then I remembered how many people had believed Vietnam threatened the United States. Including me.

When that bulls**t story about weapons came apart like a two-dollar shirt, the politicians who cooked up this war told everyone, including you, that you would be greeted like great liberators. They told us that we were in Vietnam to make sure everyone there could vote.

What they didn't tell me was that before I got there in 1970, the American armed forces had been burning villages, killing livestock, poisoning farmlands and forests, killing civilians for sport, bombing whole villages, and committing rapes and massacres, and the people who were grieving and raging over that weren't in a position to figure out the difference between me?just in country?and the people who had done those things to them.

What they didn't tell you is that over a million and a half Iraqis died between 1991 and 2003 from malnutrition, medical neglect, and bad sanitation. Over half a million of those who died were the weakest: the children, especially very young children.

My son who is over there now has a baby. We visit with our grandson every chance we get. He is eleven months old now. Lots of you have children, so you know how easy it is to really love them, and love them so hard you just know your entire world would collapse if anything happened to them. Iraqis feel that way about their babies, too. And they are not going to forget that the United States government was largely responsible for the deaths of half a million kids.

So the lie that you would be welcomed as liberators was just that. A lie. A lie for people in the United States to get them to open their purse for this obscenity, and a lie for you to pump you up for a fight.

And when you put this into perspective, you know that if you were an Iraqi, you probably wouldn't be crazy about American soldiers taking over your towns and cities either. This is the tough reality I faced in Vietnam. I knew while I was there that if I were Vietnamese, I would have been one of the Vietcong.

But there we were, ordered into someone else's country, playing the role of occupier when we didn't know the people, their language, or their culture, with our head full of bulls**t our so-called leaders had told us during training and in preparation for deployment, and even when we got there. There we were, facing people we were ordered to dominate, but any one of whom might be pumping mortars at us or firing AKs at us later that night. The question we started to ask is who put us in this position?

In our process of fighting to stay alive, and in their process of trying to expel an invader that violated their dignity, destroyed their property, and killed their innocents, we were faced off against each other by people who made these decisions in $5,000 suits, who laughed and slapped each other on the back in Washington DC with their fat f***ing asses stuffed full of cordon bleu and caviar.

They chumped us. Anyone can be chumped.

That's you now. Just fewer trees and less water.

We haven't figured out how to stop the pasty-faced, oil-hungry backslappers in DC yet, and it looks like you all might be stuck there for a little longer. So I want to tell you the rest of the story.

I changed over there in Vietnam and they were not nice changes either. I started getting pulled into something?something that craved other peole's pain. Just to make sure I wasn't regarded as a "f***ing missionary" or a possible rat, I learned how to fit myself into that group that was untouchable, people too crazy to f*** with, people who desired the rush of omnipotence that comes with setting someone's house on fire just for the pure hell of it, or who could kill anyone, man, woman, or child, with hardly a second thought. People who had the power of life and death?because they could.

The anger helps. It's easy to hate everyone you can't trust because of your circumstances, and to rage about what you've seen, what has happened to you, and what you have done and can't take back.

It was all an act for me, a cover-up for deeper fears I couldn't name, and the reason I know that is that we had to dehumanize our victims before we did the things we did. We knew deep down that what we were doing was wrong. So they became dinks or gooks, just like Iraqis are now being transformed into ragheads or hajjis. People had to be reduced to "niggers" here before they could be lynched. No difference. We convinced ourselves we had to kill them to survive, even when that wasn't true, but something inside us told us that so long as they were human beings, with the same intrinsic value we had as human beings, we were not allowed to burn their homes and barns, kill their animals, and sometimes even kill them. So we used these words, these new names, to reduce them, to strip them of their essential humanity, and then we could do things like adjust artillery fire onto the cries of a baby.

Until that baby was silenced, though, and here's the important thing to understand, that baby never surrendered her humanity. I did. We did. That's the thing you might not get until it's too late. When you take away the humanity of another, you kill your own humanity. You attack your own soul because it is standing in the way.

So we finish our tour, and go back to our families, who can see that even though we function, we are empty and incapable of truly connecting to people any more, and maybe we can go for months or even years before we fill that void where we surrendered our humanity, with chemical anesthetics?drugs, alcohol, until we realize that the void can never be filled and we shoot ourselves, or head off into the street where we can disappear with the flotsam of society, or we hurt others, especially those who try to love us, and end up as another incarceration statistic or a mental patient.

You can ever escape that you became a racist because you made the excuse that you needed that to survive, that you took things away from people that you can never give back, or that you killed a piece of yourself that you may never get back.

Some of us do. We get lucky and someone gives a damn enough to emotionally resuscitate us and bring us back to life. Many do not.

I live with the rage every day of my life, even when no one else sees it. You might hear it in my words. I hate being chumped.

So here is my message to you. You will do what you have to do to survive, however you define survival, while we do what we have to do to stop this thing. But don't surrender your humanity. Not to fit in. Not to prove yourself. Not for an adrenaline rush. Not to lash out when you are angry and frustrated. Not for some ticket-punching f***ing military careerist to make his bones on. Especially not for the Bush-Cheney Gas & Oil Consortium.

The big bosses are trying to gain control of the world's energy supplies to twist the arms of future economic competitors. That's what's going on, and you need to understand it, then do what you need to do to hold on to your humanity. The system does that; tells you you are some kind of hero action figures, but uses you as gunmen. They chump you.

Your so-called civilian leadership sees you as an expendable commodity. They don't care about your nightmares, about the DU that you are breathing, about the loneliness, the doubts, the pain, or about how your humanity is stripped away a piece at a time. They will cut your benefits, deny your illnesses, and hide your wounded and dead from the public. They already are.

They don't care. So you have to. And to preserve your own humanity, you must recognize the humanity of the people whose nation you now occupy and know that both you and they are victims of the filthy rich bastards who are calling the shots.

They are your enemies?The Suits?and they are the enemies of peace, and the enemies of your families, especially if they are Black families, or immigrant families, or poor families. They are thieves and bullies who take and never give, and they say they will "never run" in Iraq, but you and I know that they will never have to run, because they f***ing aren't there. You are

They'll skin and grin while they are getting what they want from you, and throw you away like a used condom when they are done. Ask the vets who are having their benefits slashed out from under them now. Bushfeld and their cronies are parasites, and they are the sole beneficiaries of the chaos you are learning to live in. They get the money. You get the prosthetic devices, the nightmares, and the mysterious illnesses.

So if your rage needs a target, there they are, responsible for your being there, and responsible for keeping you there. I can't tell you to disobey. That would probably run me afoul of the law. That will be a decision you will have to take when and if the circumstances and your own conscience dictate. But it perfectly legal for you to refuse illegal orders, and orders to abuse or attack civilians are illegal. Ordering you to keep silent about these crimes is also illegal.

I can tell you, without fear of legal consequence, that you are never under any obligation to hate Iraqis, you are never under any obligation to give yourself over to racism and nihilism and the thirst to kill for the sake of killing, and you are never under any obligation to let them drive out the last vestiges of your capacity to see and tell the truth to yourself and to the world. You do not owe them your souls.

Come home safe, and come home sane. The people who love you and who have loved you all your lives are waiting here, and we want you to come back and be able to look us in the face. Don't leave your souls in the dust there like another corpse.

Hold on to your humanity.

Stan Goff is the author of "Hideous Dream: A Soldier's Memoir of the US Invasion of Haiti" (Soft Skull Press, 2000) and of the upcoming book "Full Spectrum Disorder : The Military in the New American Century" (Soft Skull Press, 2003). He is a member of the BRING THEM HOME NOW! coordinating committee, a retired Special Forces master sergeant, and the father of an active duty soldier. Email for BRING THEM HOME NOW! is

Stan Goff can be reached at:

Diocese of Rockford settles abuse lawsuit - Ex-Geneva priest had pleaded guilty to molesting 2 girls

Diocese of Rockford settles abuse lawsuit - Ex-Geneva priest had pleaded guilty to molesting 2 girls
By Russell Working
Copyright © 2007, Chicago Tribune
Published May 11, 2007

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Rockford has agreed to pay $2.2 million to settle a lawsuit by two women who were abused as girls by a former Geneva priest, church officials announced Thursday.

The victims filed suit after Rev. Mark Campobello, now 42, pleaded guilty in May 2004 to molesting the girls, who were then teenagers, said Penny Wiegert, diocesan spokeswoman.

The abuse began in 1999 at St. Peter Church in Geneva and also occurred at Aurora Central Catholic High School, where Campobello was an assistant principal, teacher and spiritual director.

"Although the settlement amounts were a heavy burden for the diocese, the diocese owed restorative justice to the two women for their injuries," Wiegert said in a news release.

Others characterized the settlement as a moral victory for the women. Barbara Blaine, president of Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, an advocacy group, said the women, now in their 20s, were girls when they made the allegations against their priest and teacher.

"These victims are courageous and are heroes," Blaine said.

One woman will receive a settlement of $1.15 million while the other will be paid $1.05 million, Wiegert added. The Rockford diocese will cover $250,000 toward each settlement, with insurance paying the rest.

Campobello is serving an 8-year prison term in Illinois River Correctional Center in Canton and will be eligible for parole in 2008, according to the state Department of Corrections.

The Vatican expelled him from the priesthood in 2005, after Rockford officials petitioned the Holy See to have him defrocked, the diocese reported.

The victims sued Campobello, Bishop Thomas Doran and the diocese, claiming they knew of the abuse and did not do enough to stop it. Campobello served at seven parishes in Rockford, Geneva, Aurora, Crystal Lake and Belvidere between his 1991 ordination and his arrest.

Blaine said the church agreed to crack down on abuse several years ago, promising a new attitude of openness. Yet she said Campobello was kept in his position as a priest for three months after the girls reported their allegations in September 2002.

"This case shows that nothing has changed in the way that the church deals with these issues," Blaine said.

In a phone interview, Wiegert said she isn't aware of the timeline of the accusations in 2002, but the diocese responds promptly to abuse charges and has had a strict code of conduct since it was established by former Bishop Arthur O'Neill.

"We continue to pray for anyone who has ever had to go through instances of abuse and attempt to heal from it," Wiegert said. "I think that's probably the most powerful thing we can do at this point."

A woman who answered the phone at Aurora Central Catholic High said the staff could not comment and referred calls to the diocese.

International Herald Tribune Editorial: Silence on guns

International Herald Tribune Editorial: Silence on guns
Copyright by The International Herald Tribune
Published: May 10, 2007

The tragedy of America's runaway gun culture can only deepen now that it's clear the new Democratic Congress operates in fear of the gun lobby's well-practiced demagoguery and rich campaign treasury. A collective silence descended on the Capitol after the pro forma expressions of outrage over the Virginia Tech gun massacre.

Truly responsible lawmakers would put political survival on hold and shut two of the most lethal loopholes in gun control created by the Republican-controlled Congress, with the Bush administration's blessing. The first barred police forces from getting access to information on illegal gun sales regularly collected by federal inspectors. Police forces in the past have used that data to help trace and stop gun trafficking. They have been blinded by lawmakers in service to the gun lobby.

The second abuse has made a mockery of homeland security by tolerating the sale of firearms to people on federal watch lists of terrorism suspects. This outrage was laid bare two years ago by two Democratic senators, Frank Lautenberg of New Jersey and Joseph Biden Jr. of Delaware. In a six-month period, agents uncovered gun sales to 44 individuals on the federal watch lists.

And because of flimsy requirements for gun buyers' background checks, federal agents were unable to come up with the additional data that would have stopped arming some of these potentially very bad guys. After two years of pleas, the White House finally endorsed a proposal that would give the attorney general authority to stop people on the watch lists from buying guns.

This, of course, was only after Virginia Tech stirred public anxiety about what legal gaffe will next drive up the toll of victims.

Downturn for average folks

Downturn for average folks
by Carlos T. Mock, M.D.
Copyright by The Chicago Sun-Times
May 11, 2007

The Dow Jones Average and the S&P 500 are at an all-time high. Big-business profits are booming. Life should be great. But how about you, Mr. and Mrs. Average American? Are you better off?
If you work for the auto, air or banking industries, chances are you'll be looking for a job very soon. If you mortgaged your house during the housing boom, chances are you may be about to lose your home. And even though unemployment is at an all-time low, chances are you are making less per month than you did when President Bush took office -- that is, if your job has not been outsourced.

Wealth for the few at the top is definitively better. Corporate pay is at an all-time high. But I ask you, America: How are your finances?

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Bush concedes over Iraq benchmarks

Bush concedes over Iraq benchmarks
By Andrew Ward in Washington
Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2007
Published: May 10 2007 23:33 | Last updated: May 10 2007 23:33

President George W. Bush on Thursday agreed to negotiate war-funding legislation that would set targets for progress in Iraq, amid mounting pressure from Democrats and Republicans over the war.

Mr Bush said it “makes sense” to establish benchmarks against which to measure efforts to bring stability to the strife-torn country.

The comments increased the chances of compromise with the Democratic-controlled Congress over continued funding for a war that is fast losing support on Capitol Hill.

Congress has been at loggerheads with the White House for weeks over Democratic efforts to place conditions on any additional funding for the war.

The House of Representatives on Thursday rejected legislation pushed by anti-war Democrats that would have required US withdrawal from Iraq within nine months.

But the House was poised to pass a bill that would guarantee funding for combat operations for only two more months, prompting a fresh vote on the war in July.

The House legislation, which Mr Bush has threatened to veto, is likely to be replaced by a compromise bill agreed by the Senate before being sent to the White House.

Democrats leaders have agreed to drop earlier demands for a timetable for withdrawal from Iraq in return for setting tough benchmarks for progress.

“Time's running out, because the longer we wait the more strain we're going to put on the military,” said Mr Bush.

Mr Bush has looked increasingly isolated in recent days, as a growing number of Congressional Republicans have voiced doubts about the chances of US success in Iraq.

On Tuesday, a group of moderate Republican House members visited the White House to deliver a blunt warning about waning support for the war within Mr Bush’s own party.

Ray LaHood, one of the Republican lawmakers who attended the meeting, said he had never before heard a president addressed in such a “frank and no-holds-barred” way.

“I was very sober about it and he listened intently,” Mr LaHood told CNN. “He appreciated the fact that people were prepared to open up and give it to him.”

John Boehner, House minority leader, said earlier this week that Republicans would be looking for a “Plan B” if conditions have not improved by September, when military commanders are expected to assess whether US strategy is working.

"I think this president is more isolated than any president since Richard Nixon in his final days," Democratic Senator Chuck Schumer said, referring to the US leader who resigned over the 1970s Watergate scandal.

Speaking after a briefing at the Pentagon, Mr Bush urged Congress to reserve judgment until the build-up of US troops ordered in January is completed next month.

"[The] plan ought to be given a chance to work," he said. "And we need to give the troops under his command the resources they need to prevail.

"We should be able to agree that the consequences of failure in Iraq would be disastrous for our country."

But he acknowledged that, in the short term, the "surge" strategy had increased rather than reduced violence. “As we have surged our forces, Al Qaeda is responding with their own surge,” he said. “We're also seeing high levels of violence because our forces are entering areas where terrorists and militia once had sanctuary.”

Where is GOP realism? - Party relies too much on sloganeering and hawkish obstinacy

Where is GOP realism? - Party relies too much on sloganeering and hawkish obstinacy
By Steve Chapman
Copyright © 2007, Chicago Tribune
Published May 10, 2007

We all know that when it comes to war, Republicans are strong and resolute, while Democrats are weak and craven. We know because Republicans tell us so.

Those have been the constant GOP themes in the congressional debate over the Iraq war. House Republican Leader John Boehner of Ohio accused Democrats who want to mandate withdrawal by a certain date of proposing "a timetable for American surrender." They were cheering for "defeat," charged Arizona Sen. John McCain. President Bush vowed that unlike his partisan opponents, he would not "cut and run."

During last week's Republican presidential debate at the Reagan Library, Rudy Giuliani cited the 40th president as a model of fortitude in dealing with enemies. Among "the things that Ronald Reagan taught us," he declared, is that "we should never retreat in the face of terrorism."

No one present was impolite enough to mention that far from spurning retreat in the face of terrorism, the Gipper embraced it. After the 1983 terrorist bombing in Beirut, which killed 241 U.S. military personnel, he recognized the futility of our presence in Lebanon and pulled out.

Boehner portrays himself and his colleagues as brave patriots who would never accept anything less than victory in war. But in 1993, when things got tough in Somalia, he voted for withdrawal. John McCain likewise favored "defeat" in that conflict. He opposed a timetable for withdrawal not because he wanted U.S. forces to stay but because it would take too long. Our soldiers, he insisted, should leave "as rapidly and safely as possible." Or, you could say, cut and run.

At the same time, Democrats were warning of the dangers of retreat. Among them was a senator from Massachusetts named John Kerry.

Both times, the Republicans favoring withdrawal had the right idea. In neither case was our intervention justified, and nothing at stake in Lebanon or Somalia was worth the cost in American lives.

They also favored an outcome short of victory in the Kosovo war of 1999, when the GOP-controlled House voted down a resolution supporting the president's air campaign. Most House Republicans also supported a measure calling for the withdrawal of American troops from the Balkans.

Back then, House Republican Leader Tom DeLay said, "The bombing was a mistake," and urged President Bill Clinton to "admit it and come to some sort of negotiated end." Can you guess the title of DeLay's new book? "No Retreat, No Surrender."

The truth is, Republican presidents are not known for staying the course in the face of adversity. Dwight Eisenhower ran on a promise to end the Korean war, which he did -- on terms that allowed the communist aggressors to remain in power in the North. Richard Nixon negotiated a peace agreement with the North Vietnamese government, which provided for a U.S. pullout. Gerald Ford presided over the fall of Saigon and the final humiliating American evacuation.

In those instances, the presidents came to grips with the unpleasant truth that sometimes you can't achieve the desired outcome without an excessive sacrifice, if at all. But when it comes to Iraq, Republicans insist we should be ready to pay any price in pursuit of a victory that has eluded us for so long. In their view, weighing the costs against the benefits, or acknowledging that we don't have a formula for success, is tantamount to appeasement.

What Republicans stood for in the past was a sober realism about the limits of our power and our good intentions. That spirit is absent today. They act as though slogans are a substitute for strategy. What they claim as steadfast resolve looks like blind obstinacy.

It's silly to say victory is the only option unless you actually have a way to achieve it and are willing to commit the necessary resources. The administration and its allies on Capitol Hill insist that this time, they know what they're doing. But they said the same thing at every point along the way, and if they had been right, the phrase "Mission Accomplished" wouldn't be a national joke.

Maybe at last they have found the key to success. More likely, though, they are just wasting lives and money postponing the inevitable. It's terrible to lose a war. But as several Republican presidents could attest, it's even worse to persist in one you can't win.
Steve Chapman is a member of the Tribune's editorial board. E-mail: schapman@tribune .com

GOP pressures Bush on war - 11 moderates send 'strong signal,' warn that support for Iraq mission could dry up

GOP pressures Bush on war - 11 moderates send 'strong signal,' warn that support for Iraq mission could dry up
By Jim Tankersley and Mark Silva
Copyright © 2007, Chicago Tribune
Published May 10, 2007

WASHINGTON -- A group of congressional Republicans warned President Bush in person this week that their support for the Iraq war could evaporate if conditions don't improve there by September.

Eleven GOP moderates, led by Rep. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.), met with Bush and top administration officials Tuesday to deliver what one participant called a "strong signal" about the electoral dangers that "war fatigue and war weariness" pose for Republicans in 2008.

"I've been to a lot of meetings at the White House," said Rep. Ray LaHood (R-Ill.) who attended. "I've been to a lot of meetings with the president about the war. This was one of the toughest, frankest, no-holds-barred meetings in terms of the members who were there giving their assessment of where they think things are in their district and the country."

The Republicans told Bush they had little faith in Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki "to get his act together" and expected a "very candid report" from Gen. David Petraeus, the American commander in Iraq, and Ambassador Ryan Crocker, on the progress of Iraq's government this fall, LaHood said.

"We want a very candid report in September," LaHood said. "We don't want politics mixed into it. And the way forward after September, if the report is not good, is going to be very, very difficult."

Bush 'listened'

LaHood said the president "listened very carefully."

Last week, LaHood told the Tribune the September report would be a "benchmark" for House Republicans, who have stood nearly united behind the president's requests for war funding so far. Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) echoed the statement on "Fox News Sunday."

Boehner attended the White House meeting Tuesday but mostly let the other House Republicans -- who are members of a moderate coalition known as the "Tuesday Group" -- convey their frustrations to Bush and his advisers, including Defense Secretary Robert Gates, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and political adviser Karl Rove.

LaHood said several congressmen in the delegation faced difficult re-elections last year and told Bush they worried the war could sink them in 2008.

Kirk, who could not be reached for comment Wednesday night, narrowly beat Democratic challenger Dan Seals in his suburban district last year. Last quarter, he led House Republicans by raising nearly $640,000 for his re-election campaign.

Rep. Charles Dent of Pennsylvania, a co-chairman of the Tuesday Group, helped arrange the meeting, which was first disclosed by NBC News on Wednesday. Dent told The New York Times that lawmakers wanted to convey the frustration and impatience with the war that they are hearing from voters. "We had a very frank conversation about the situation in Iraq," he said.

Rep. Tom Davis of Virginia told The Associated Press that he presented recent polling data from his suburban Washington district showing that Bush's disapproval ratings exceeded his approval ratings.

"We asked them what's Plan B. We let them know that the status quo is not acceptable," he said. Davis said the president responded that if he began discussing a new strategy, the current one would never have a chance to succeed.

Both parties had meetings

Bush met with Republicans and Democrats on Tuesday separately at the White House; aides called his meeting with his own party "unvarnished."

"I'm not going to comment on what the president may or may not have said in a meeting with members," Dana Perino, deputy press secretary, said Wednesday. "He meets regularly with members of Congress and asks for their unvarnished opinions and frank advice. ... These conversations strengthen our relationships in our party, sharpen our policies, and bring greater understanding on our positions. It's a diverse party, but we broadly share common principles to keep America safe and secure."

Lawmakers said Bush made no commitments but seemed grateful for their support for the moment, The Times reported. Bush also said that a precipitous withdrawal from Iraq could cause the sort of chaos that occurred in Southeast Asia after Americans left South Vietnam.

The Republican lawmakers indicated they would maintain solidarity with Bush for now by opposing the latest Democratic proposal for two-stage war financing, which is scheduled for a vote on Thursday in the House.

Some of the other GOP lawmakers attending the meeting were Reps. Jim Gerlach of Pennsylvania; James Walsh of New York; and Jo Ann Emerson of Missouri.


Financial Times Editorial comment: World Bank crisis becomes perilous

Editorial comment: World Bank crisis becomes perilous
Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2007
Published: May 10 2007 02:55 | Last updated: May 10 2007 02:55

At some point even a sole superpower must recognise reality. Hopes for an effective presidency of the World Bank by Paul Wolfowitz are over. He must either go or be the lame-duck president of a deeply damaged institution.

The special panel established to investigate Mr Wolfowitz’s behaviour towards the re-assignment of his girlfriend has concluded that he violated rules governing conflict of interest. Mr Wolfowitz’s lawyer demands sufficient time to prepare a rebuttal. This request should be granted to remove suggestions of a lack of due process. But if this concession is granted, the administration must accept the legitimacy of the outcome of that process.

What is to be avoided, if at all possible, is an open split within the board. Yet that is what is now threatened. Assume that the panel confirms its finding. Assume, too, that Mr Wolfowitz does not resign. The board would then have to vote. Not to do so would devastate its authority. If the Europeans were to win, President George W. Bush would be humiliated. Yet even if the US were to win, it would be a victory without substance: Mr Wolfowtiz would be a lame duck. Either way, the bank and the US national interest would be severely harmed.

Some of the Americans who want such a showdown see what is happening as a malevolent European plot to bring down their courageous warrior against corruption. But the notion that the US alone cares about corruption in development assistance is outrageous, as anybody with knowledge of the history of US aid would understand. Theirs is a fight without a cause.

They may also hope to force European governments to draw back. But the latter cannot do so if the credibility of the bank is to survive and its mission is to continue. It would be the clearest statement that fine words about governance are irrelevant when it matters.

The Europeans cannot draw back. They must make it clear that, in the last resort, they would be prepared to vote Mr Wolfowitz out. Moreover, they should add, contributions to replenishment of IDA, the bank’s soft-lending arm, would be politically impossible if Mr Wolfowitz stayed. The Europeans provide some 60 per cent of this funding. What chance is there of a Democratic Congress agreeing to make up the difference, to bail out a despised administration?

The Bush administration must then understand what would happen if it kept in place a man who cannot now hope to do the job. It should put the bank’s mission of poverty reduction above any misguided notions of personal loyalty.

Fed keeps focus on inflation

Fed keeps focus on inflation
By Krishna Guha in Washington
Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2007
Published: May 9 2007 19:24 | Last updated: May 9 2007 20:23

The Federal Reserve made very few changes to its policy statement on Wednesday, keeping rates on hold at 5.25 per cent and reiterating that its “predominant policy concern remains the risk that inflation will fail to moderate as expected.”

The policy-making Federal Open Market committee again described core inflation as “somewhat elevated”, in spite of the dip in core inflation on its preferred measure in March to 2.1 per cent year on year.

This description will disappoint some investors, who were looking to the Fed to hint that the risks of inflation remaining at an uncomfortably high level have receded since the previous policy meeting in late March.

Equities traded broadly flat after the announcement, while the dollar edged up a fraction against the euro, with traders citing a reduced likelihood of early Fed rate cuts.

Futures markets priced in a slightly reduced chance of rate cuts at subsequent meetings this year, with the market now assuming only a single rate cut by year end.

The FOMC did acknowledge that “economic growth slowed in the first part of this year” and that the adjustment in housing was “ongoing”.

But it reiterated its view that “nevertheless, the economy seems likely to expand at a moderate pace over coming quarters.” Moderate pace in the Fed’s lexicon appears to mean growth of roughly 2 per cent.

The statement appears consistent with a policy of interest rates on hold for some time. As at the previous meeting, however, the Fed implicitly signalled that it was concerned about growth as well as inflation.

It said “future policy adjustments” – by implication, interest rate moves in either direction – “will depend on the outlook for both inflation and economic growth.”

The statement was probably on balance slightly more hawkish than most economists were expecting. It did not acknowledge any increased risk from housing in the light of early data from the spring selling season; nor did it suggest that inflation concerns have been substantially moderated by a combination of March’s softer inflation report and April’s weaker payrolls gain.

Policymakers are likely to want to see more evidence of moderating inflation reading and softer jobs growth before shifting to a neutral policy stance.

Moreover, it is not entirely clear how the Fed would respond to moderately softer data. Some committee members, who appear anxious to drive inflation down towards 1.5 per cent in the none-too-distant future, might welcome the added disinflationary impetus.

Others, who could apparently live with inflation a fraction below 2 per cent for at least a lengthy period of time, might prefer to respond to further soft data by taking the opportunity to cut rates to restore growth to trend more quickly.

US ‘home-grown’ terrorists multiply

US ‘home-grown’ terrorists multiply
By Edward Luce in Washington
Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2007
Published: May 9 2007 22:15 | Last updated: May 9 2007 22:15

The US is seeing a growth in the number of “home-grown” terrorist plots that have no connection with overseas groups such as al-Qaeda, says Robert Mueller, director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Mr Mueller, who was speaking the day after the FBI said it had foiled an alleged plot by six radical Islamists to attack the Fort Dix base in New Jersey, said the number of such plots had risen “in recent years”. Of the 12 high-profile home-grown plots that the FBI has announced since the attacks of September 11 2001, six have been revealed since June 2005.

Although all six of the alleged Fort Dix terrorists were born overseas – four in the former Yugoslavia – they had no apparent connection to foreign groups, according to the FBI, which described the plot as a “brand-new form of terrorism”.

“We have seen an increase in the number of self-radicalised groups that use the internet...and are not organised by overseas groups such as al-Qaeda,” Mr Mueller told journalists at a breakfast meeting in Washington. “In most cases you have individuals who go through a period of radicalisation by meeting a mosque or a school or a gym, as you saw with the London July 7 plot.”

But Mr Mueller, who has overseen the creation of a large FBI counter-terrorist operation involving 2,000 of its 12,500 agents, said there was a continued threat from overseas groups. “There is no doubt in my mind that al-Qaeda is plotting to attack the US and there may be individuals sitting here in America who are known to al-Qaeda and not to us [who are involved in such plots],” he said.

The FBI has been criticised for allegedly exaggerating the seriousness and ­capabilities of home-grown terrorist groups. It has also come under attack for “sting operations” in which FBI undercover agents have encouraged isolated groups of US Muslims to buy weapons or proceed with other terrorist-like plans.

Last year the FBI arrested seven men in Miami and Atlanta for allegedly plotting to blow up the Sears Tower in Chicago. In September 2002 in New York state it arrested six men of Yemeni descent who pleaded guilty to supplying material to a terrorist organisation, even though there was no specific plot. Unusually, the Fort Dix plot was announced by the White House, not the FBI.

“A lot of these groups are just wannabe terrorists with no real intelligence or capability and who are sometimes manipulated by FBI informants,” said Daniel Benjamin, former head of counter-terrorism at the National Security Council. “Having said that, there is also a genuine threat out there of increased home-grown terrorism.”

Mr Mueller said just 200 of the FBI’s agents had Arabic language skills, of which only 50 were at the level of being “conversant”. He said the agency had no data on how many of its employees were Muslim.

Pentagon report piles pressure on Wolfowitz

Pentagon report piles pressure on Wolfowitz
By Eoin Callan and Krishna Guha in Washington and Hugh,Williamson in Berlin
Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2007
Published: May 10 2007 03:00 | Last updated: May 10 2007 03:00

Paul Wolfowitz's tenure as president of the World Bank faces a further test after the emergence of a classified Pentagon report pointing to a fresh conflict of interest apparently involving his girlfriend, Shaha Riza.

The report said Mr Wolfowitz told Pentagon investigators he enlisted the help of a World Bank employee with whom he had a "close personal relationship" in "activity supporting the war" in Iraq when he was deputy secretary of defence.

This is likely to be viewed as a violation of bank rules by the World Bank's board, according to bank officials.

The board is expected to hear from a special panel in the coming days that Mr Wolfowitz separately broke the bank's ethics code in his handling of a secondment to the State Department for Ms Riza.

Although Ms Riza is thought to be the bank employee referred to in the Pentagon report, the name has been blacked out in a copy of the report obtained by the Financial Times.

People close to the World Bank board said some members hoped an understanding would be reached that Mr Wolfowitz would step down before the board was forced to decide whether to demand his resignation.

Mr Wolfowitz has received measured support from the White House, while Democrats in Congress have called for him to go.

Congressman Barney Frank, chairman of a key committee, yesterday called into question whether Democrats would support fresh financing for the bank under Mr Wolfowitz's leadership.

The comments will add to concerns that European governments could withhold financing if the Bush administration exercises its votes and influence on the board to keep Mr Wolfowitz in place. There was a repeated call for Mr Wolfowitz to resign yesterday from Germany, which heads the bank's 24-nation board.

Heidemarie Wieczorek-Zeul, development minister, said Mr Wolfowitz's "voluntary resignation was the best solution for the bank and its goals", according to Karin Kortmann, one of her deputies. Ms Kortmann told parliament Berlin supported Washington's right to name a successor.

Bank officials said the board was also assessing possible conflicts of interest in 2003 when Ms Riza entered into a contract with a company that provides logistics, intelligence and advice to the Pentagon.

E-mails show the company entered into the contract at the direction of Mr Wolfowitz and following a recommendation by State Department officials, including Elizabeth Cheney, daughter of Dick Cheney, US vice-president. The Pentagon investigation was carried out in 2005 as Mr Wolfowitz was leaving the defence department to join the bank.

Beatrice Edwards, of the Government Accountability Project, a non-governmental organisation, said that based on Mr Wolfowtiz's account, Ms Riza's work in Iraq "constitutes a violation of World Bank rules".

The Financial Times was unable to obtain a response from lawyers acting for Mr Wolfowitz and Ms Riza or a World Bank spokesperson.

Oil prices push up US trade deficit

Oil prices push up US trade deficit
By Eoin Callan in Washington
Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2007
Published: May 10 2007 15:00 | Last updated: May 10 2007 15:00

The US trade deficit widened more than expected in March to $64bn, as higher oil prices helped push the value of imports to the second-highest level on record, according to fresh figures.

The trade gap climbed 10 per cent from the previous month, the Commerce Department said on Thursday, surprising Wall Street economists who had expected a modest expansion.

The widening deficit belies a strong performance by the export sector, which has increased shipments steadily in recent months to meet global demand

US exports had another strong showing in March, rising 1.8 per cent to $126.2bn.

US exports to the European Union, and specifically in Germany, set records, in a sign that growth in the eurozone is creating demand for US goods.

Exports to China also reached a record, helping to ease the politically-sensitive trade deficit with the country by 6.4 percent to $17bn for the month as imports from China also fell.

The export growth was lifted by record shipments of technology such as telecommunications, aerospace, electronics and computers.

An increase in exports in recent months helped narrow the trade gap for the first quarter to $181bn from $192bn in the same period last year.

But a rise in the average price of a barrel of foreign oil to $53 from $50.71 helped lift the value of US imports by 4.5 per cent to $190bn, contributing to the wider than expected overall trade gap.

Blair to step down as prime minister on June 27/A needless war cost Blair the respect he craves/Was Blair Bush’s poodle?

Blair to step down as prime minister on June 27
By Ben Hall in London
Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2007
Published: May 9 2007 21:13 | Last updated: May 10 2007 15:44

Tony Blair on Thursday marked the beginning of the end of his decade as Britain’s prime minister when he announced his intention to step down as prime minister on June 27, paving the way for a transfer of power to Gordon Brown, the chancellor of the exchequer.

Mr Blair’s long-awaited resignation plans, delivered to party activists in his Sedgefield constituency in north-east England, bring down the curtain on the longest-serving Labour prime minister, and the most dominant British political figure since Margaret Thatcher.

“Sometimes the only way you conquer the pull of power is to set it down,” he said.

The 54-year-old leader acknowledged that he had made mistakes and had provoked “grievances that fester”. Expectations of him were possibly too high when he won his first of three general election victories in 1997, he said.

But he issued a powerful appeal to his critics to consider his achievements in the round and to accept that he took decisions, including the one to go to war in Iraq, in good faith. “I ask you to accept one thing: hand on heart, I did what I thought was right.”

Mr Blair summed up his legacy as leaving behind a Britain that is “comfortable in the 21st century, proud of its past, confident of its future”.

He delivered a robust defence of his record since 1997, saying only one government since 1945 had delivered “more jobs, fewer unemployed, better health and education results, lower crime and economic growth in every quarter. There is only one government. This one.”

“Britain is not a follower today,” he added. “Britain is a leader”.

Mr Blair’s resignation announcement drew tributes from fellow leaders around the globe. Jose Manuel Barroso, president of the European Commission, said he had taken Britain into the mainstream of the European Union and left an “impressive legacy including his commitment to “action against climate change and for fighting poverty in Africa”. Shinzo Abe, Japan’s prime minister, said Mr Blair had done a ”magnificent job” over ten years, particularly in relation to education reform and the economy. Jan Peter Balkenende, Dutch premier, said his UK counterpart had ”made a lot of good things happen in the economy and society”. Bertie Ahern, the Irish prime minister, said Mr Blair deserved an ”honoured place in our history” for devoting ”unprecedented time and attention” to bringing about peace in Northern Ireland.

Mr Blair will formally remain as prime minister and party chief until a new Labour leader is chosen by a special conference of the Labour party, probably handing over the keys to 10 Downing Street on July 2.

Earlier, Mr Blair confirmed his plans to cabinet colleagues. At that meeting, Mr Brown spoke up to pay tribute to his colleague’s “unique achievements over the last ten years and unique leadership he has given his party, Britain and the rest of the world”.

John Prescott, Mr Blair’s deputy, also confirmed to cabinet colleagues that he would stand down as Labour’s deputy leader and deputy prime minister. Mr Prescott made his intentions clear in an open letter to activists in his constituency in Hull, northen England.

Mr Blair’s remaining weeks in office will be focused on foreign affairs, starting on Friday with a trip to Paris to meet Nicolas Sarkozy, incoming president of France. He is also to travel to Washington for his last visit to the White House later this month, followed by a tour of southern Africa.

Mr Brown is expected to launch his Labour party leadership bid on Friday. However, he is far from certain to face a challenger after a string of possible contenders in recent weeks ruled themselves out of the race.

Later on Thursday, a small leftwing faction inside the Labour party will meet to decide whether it will mount a challenge to Mr Brown.

A contest will be triggered only if one of two low-profile left-wing Labour MPs who have said they want to run against him on a traditional socialist ticket manages to secure the necessary 45 nominations from fellow Labour MPs.

Nevertheless, the party’s executive has decided that the new leader will not be inaugurated before the end of June.

Mr Blair’s resignation removes the most dominant figure in British politics for 13 years and the second longest-serving prime minister in the European Union.

He transformed the British political landscape, dragging the Labour party which he has led since 1994, to the electoral centre-ground and winning a record three consecutive general election victories.

But the high hopes and optimism that accompanied his 1997 triumph against the incumbent Conservative party have dwindled following his support for the US-led invasion of Iraq. A whiff of financial scandal over allegations of illegal party funding and the wear and tear of government have also taken their toll, causing Mr Blair’s popularity ratings to plummet even further.

Mr Brown is not expected to call an election immediately after becoming prime minister. This is because Britain’s constitutional arrangements allow for a governing party to change its leader – and therefore the sitting prime minister – between general elections.

Anthony Eden, a former Conservative premier, called a snap election on entering Downing Street in similar circumstances in 1955. But this is the only occasion on which this has happened in Britain since the second world war.

A needless war cost Blair the respect he craves
By Geoffrey Wheatcroft
Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2007
Published: May 9 2007 19:06 | Last updated: May 9 2007 19:06
“All I care about is respect and legacy.” The boxer Floyd Mayweather was speaking before his last fight in Las Vegas on Saturday, but his words might well be echoed by Tony Blair as he raises his own gloves for a final bow. The question is what Mr Blair’s legacy will be and how much respect posterity will grant him.

In the light of history, 10 years is an eye-blink, but it seems a very long time indeed since Mr Blair swept into Downing Street on May 2, 1997, amid intense excitement. He had it all going for him. It seemed as though he could do anything he liked – and that exalted atmosphere then accounts for the mood of sour disappointment now.

Parts of his legacy appear secure enough, until you look harder and wonder how much they are really his. The British economy has performed well in the Blair decade, though perhaps we should say the Gordon Brown decade.

At the same time it was hard not to smile when Martin Wolf wrote here last week that this success was largely attributable to the “decision to keep the UK out of the European Monetary Union”.

That is doubtless the case, as something like a consensus among economists now holds. But there was once another consensus. Ten years ago it was a central article of faith for the New Labour elite and the Blairite media claque that he would be the most pro-European prime minister the country had ever had, and would take the UK into the single currency as soon as he could, surely within the lifetime of his first parliament. There are few better illustrations of the truth that political leaders sway from planned failure to unplanned success.

Many other hopes that reposed in Mr Blair 10 years ago have not been fulfilled. Some of his most ardent supporters then, such as the writer Will Hutton, insisted that he would prove a radical Keynesian-cum-social democratic reformer, who would strengthen the unions, raise income tax and redistribute wealth. It was Robert Taylor, formerly of the Financial Times, who was more prescient when he wrote before that election: “The New Labour ‘project’ looks increasingly like Margaret Thatcher’s final triumph”.

Whatever the domestic record of the Blair government, there is one terrible dark cloud: nobody who voted for Mr Blair in 1997 or 2001 was voting to invade Iraq. Even his earlier admirers concede that the way Mr Blair took the country to war casts doubt on both his judgment and his honesty, and the subsequent calamity has blighted his name forever.

That is why recent reports that, when he leaves Downing Street, Mr Blair will go to the Middle East as “a roving ambassador” to try to revive the stalled peace process are frankly bizarre. Scarcely anyone alive is less equipped for such a role. Such little repute as Mr Blair still enjoyed in the Middle East after Iraq was finally destroyed last summer. As part of his perverse determination always to stand shoulder to shoulder with the White House, he endorsed the Israeli war in Lebanon, a war which most of his own MPs, and most British people, deplored at the time, and which most Israelis now think was a mistake.

When the prime minister visited the Levant at the end of last year, Marc Sirois of the Beirut Daily Star told the BBC World Service that the mission was pointless. Mr Blair could not possibly act as an honest broker, since: “He is identified so strongly by Arabs in general and Palestinians in particular as somebody who supports the policies of the Bush administration and the United States...George Bush might be hated here but at least he’s respected. Tony Blair doesn’t even have respect”.

That is a bitter truth. Eight years ago, Mr Blair could be acclaimed by an American writer as “the leader of the free world”. Could anyone say that today without inviting derision?

In the 1920s, Neville Chamberlain was an immensely creative minister, transforming local government and much else besides. As chancellor of the exchequer from 1931 to 1937 he rescued the British economy after the depression. And who now remembers Chamberlain’s huge achievements in domestic politics? All is overshadowed by the three years as prime minister when he practised a policy of appeasement.

Maybe Mr Blair might say that he did the opposite. But then Chamberlain was ruined by striving to avert what was truly “a war of necessity and not choice”, whereas Mr Blair took his country into a needless, lawless and finally catastrophic war of choice. And that, sad to say, answers the question about “respect and legacy”.

The writer’s latest book is Yo, Blair!

Was Blair Bush’s poodle?
Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2007
Published: May 10 2007 09:54 | Last updated: May 10 2007 09:54
By Edward Luce in Washington

Whenever Tony Blair needed to escape his domestic woes, Washington was the preferred bolthole. In spite of his badly tattered reputation at home, the outgoing prime minister remains in high standing on both sides of the aisle in Washington – even among trenchant critics of the war in Iraq.

One reason Mr Blair gets a relatively free pass from American critics of the Iraq war is because they see his unwavering support for Mr Bush as having been motivated by noble intentions. Unlike Mr Blair’s British critics, who say he ducked the opportunity to influence the White House over issues such as Israel-Palestine and Guantanamo, they have a more modest assessment of Britain’s influence in Washington.

Would Mr Blair have been able to stop the invasion of Iraq if – say - he had opposed it in concert with Colin Powell, the then secretary of state? “I very much doubt it,” says Strobe Talbott, who was deputy secretary of state in the Clinton administration and is now head of the Brookings Institution. “To paraphrase Margaret Thatcher, the gentleman [Mr Bush] was not for turning.”

Others credit Mr Blair with a level of persuasiveness that Mr Bush lacked – particularly following the 11 September terrorist attacks when the UK prime minister spoke movingly of Britain’s common cause with America. But that felicity with words was also put to questionable ends, says Zbigniew Brzezinksi, the national security advisor in the Carter administration.

“Too often Mr Blair would emerge from meetings with Mr Bush and give an eloquent rationale to the crude unilateralism that Mr Bush had expressed in the meeting – in that sense Tony Blair did us all a great disservice,” said Mr Brzezinski. “Rather than using the “special relationship” to persuade Mr Bush to do more constructive things, Blair chose to make it a subordinate relationship in every respect.”

Former members of the Bush administration corroborate this account. One former senior official says that he would frequently sit down with Jack Straw, who was then UK foreign minister, and discuss the points that Mr Blair should raise with the US president before their meetings. These would include issues such as management of the Iraq war, talks with Iran and America’s perceived flouting of international law at Guantanamo and other detention centres. But in most cases Mr Blair would fail entirely to raise the controversial topics.

“Tony Blair has always been a puzzle to me,” says the former official. “Here is a man who showed great courage in taking on domestic public opinion in order to join a very unpopular invasion of Iraq and yet in private conversation with George Bush he was as quiet as a mouse.”

Few people in Washington have much sense of whether - or how - Gordon Brown will prove different to his predecessor in managing the special relationship. Unlike Mr Blair, who charmed Capitol Hill when he was leader of the opposition in the mid-1990s, Mr Brown is little known beyond the confines of the US Treasury and the Bretton Woods institutions.

“When Tony Blair last visited us [the Senate foreign relations committee] we had a full attendance of senators,” said a senior staffer. “I can’t remember the last time a foreign leader got this kind of turn out. As for Gordon Brown, we really know very little about him other than the fact he is Scottish.”

But Mr Brown may have an opportunity to put the UK’s relationship with Washington on a new footing if he wished, argues Carne Ross, a former British diplomat, who was in the US this week to launch his book, Independent Diplomat: Dispatches from an Unaccountable Elite.

“The Blair years should have given the lie to the UK Foreign Office’s argument that a quiet word in the ear works better with Americans than speaking out publicly,” says Mr Ross. “Mr Blair took “poodleism” to a new level and there is virtually nothing in the way of quid pro quo that he has to show for it.”

Mr Blair’s relationship with Mr Bush should also have belied the old adage that Britain plays “Greece to Amercia’s Rome”, says Chris Patten, the former European Union external affairs commissioner. “People forget that the Greeks were slaves to the Romans,” he said. “I think it’s time to put that saying to rest.”

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

George Bush A Right Royal Stuff Up

George Bush A Right Royal Stuff Up
By Wayne Madsen
8 May, 2007

Our White House sources report that the Queen's visit to the White House yesterday was a protocol disaster.

Not only had George W. Bush commenced his drinking routine early in the morning, just in time for the first mid-day visit by Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Phillip, but his drunkenness continued well into the evening during the lavish state dinner.

Bush dreaded the Queen's visit and prepared for it by getting drunk. The Queen has never hidden her dislike for Bush who she considers ill-bred, impetuous, and a social boor. The Queen's dislike for Bush goes back to 1991 when he insulted her during another state visit by inquiring which of her children was the "black sheep" of her family. The Queen told him to mind his own business.

The Queen was also unhappy that then-First Lady Barbara Bush failed to control her son during that visit to the White House. In November 2003, the Queen was incensed about Bush's Marine One helicopter tearing up her flower garden at Buckingham Palace and traumatizing her flock of flamingoes. Bush's communications staff also damaged expensive fabrics inside the royal residence. Bush never compensated the Queen for the damage and she had to file an insurance claim.

With that background, Bush groused about having to wear a white tie tuxedo for last night's state dinner. It took the direct intervention of Laura Bush and Condoleezza Rice to convince Bush to wear the appropriate attire. During yesterday's welcoming ceremony on the South Lawn of the White House, Bush insinuated that the Queen was over 230 years old when he stated she had helped celebrate America's Bicentennial in 1776. The Queen was heard to have uttered the words, "Oh dear."

Bush then winked at the Queen who was not amused by the president's antics. Bush also stated that the Queen gave him a look "that only a mother could give a child." It was not the first time the Queen had looked at Bush with an icy stare. Bush also nearly put his arm on the Queen's shoulder as he escorted her down the stairs from the red carpeted dais.

White House protocol officials remained nervous about Bush during the entire Royal visit. The Queen and Prince Phillip are sure to have much to talk about on their trip back home this evening. While the Queen was keen on visiting Virginia and the Kentucky Derby, her past dealings with the Bush family had her fearing the White House visit. Bush's boorish demeanor was in keeping with his past indiscretions around the Queen .

Profile: Georgiou’s Healing Hands

Profile: Georgiou’s Healing Hands
by Ross Forman
Copyright by The Windy City Times

There was a time, shortly after opening his North Side chiropractic office, when Dr. Peter Georgiou had only two patients—and he purposely scheduled them back-to-back, starting at about 11 a.m.

He also called some friends and asked, er, begged them to stop by the office about that same time. Georgiou wanted to impress his patients, to make it look like he was super-busy.

“I’d pay my friends by buying them lunch, usually pizza,” said Georgiou, laughing.

But get this: Georgiou’s fourth patient ever, back in 1993, was Sade.

Flash forward to 2007 and Georgiou is still at it, a licensed chiropractic physician who, in January, opened ReAlign Chiropractic at 916 W. Belmont. It’s a snazzy new office that he calls “my dream come true, my dream practice.” ( Back in 2005, Dr. Patrick Labelle joined the office. )

ReAlign treats arm, back and neck pain; sciatica; headaches; pinched nerves; whiplash; and carpel tunnel syndrome, among other ailments.

“One of the reasons I decided to change the name to ReAlign was because I didn’t want to give the impression that chiropractic work was all we did,” he said. “Sure, it’s the primary focus and what drives this practice because I believe that everyone needs to be adjusted; an adjustment has such a profound impact on the nervous system. And once that’s aligned, everything else will function at its optimum as well. The new name, I think, will be friendly, more inviting.”

The health care center also offers massages, yoga classes, nutritional counseling and acupuncture; soon, it will add microdermabrasion and facials.

“I wanted to create a wellness center where people can just go and feel good about themselves. That’s the main focus for me,” said Georgiou. “We’re dedicated to giving the best quality care that we can. We have a great staff, from massage therapists to the chiropractors. We care about our patients.”

“Ever since I was a child, I always wanted to be a doctor and a flight attendant. Well, I’ve done both,” said Georgiou, who was a United Airlines flight attendant for almost 11 years. “I thought I was going to be a medical doctor, and studied pre-med at Pace University in White Plains, N.Y.”

He eventually took a job working in the intensive care and cardiac units at White Plains Hospital, where he stayed for about four years. But then, “I got so disillusioned with the invasive medical care, so I just thought that there had to be another way out there,” he said.

Georgiou joined United at age 23.

Being a chiropractic patient led Georgiou to becoming a chiropractic professional because “it is a natural way of healing someone without having to be invasive.” Interestingly, many of his patients over the years were, or still are, flight attendants.

In 1996, Georgiou received his chiropractic certification in sports medicine. He’s now a certified chiropractic sports physician.

“Historically, the most common reasons why people don’t go to a chiropractor are the pain and the expense,” Georgiou said. “Well, chiropractors take away interferences to the body that allow the body to work at its optimum. We allow the spine to function at its capacity.”

The openly gay ( and single ) Georgiou said about 40 percent of his clients are LGBT. Of all his patients, about 60 percent are male, ranging in age from six months to 91 years.

“Being a part of that community, it was very important for me to be in this neighborhood [ with my new practice ] . I think that people feel very comfortable coming here and many of them are very confident, secure talking about sensitive issues,” Georgiou said.

Getting To Know: Dr. Peter Georgiou

Age: 45

Born in: England

Moved to America: At age 5; has lived in New York City.

To Chicago: In 1986.

Now lives: Lakeview neighborhood

Hobbies: Traveling, gardening, sailing, snow skiing and spending time in his hot-tub.

Favorite vacation Spots: Hawaii ( especially Maui ) , Europe and the Greek Islands.

Sports: Has played a lot of racquetball; sponsored local teams.

Theater: Goes to at least one movie a week. Attends plays about once a month.

Fly away: Spent 10 1/2 years as a flight attendant for United Airlines.

Ethnicity: Greek

Gay Games 2006: Did not participate, but hosted a swimmer from St. Louis.

Cold, hard fact: Has been to Iceland.

Serving the stars: His fourth patient ever was Sade after he picked her instead of Jerry Garcia of The Grateful Dead. “I’m not a Deadhead, so I picked Sade.”

BP Chief Outed, Resigns

BP Chief Outed, Resigns
by Rex Wockner
Copyright by Windy City Times and Rex Wockner

The chief executive officer of BP ( formerly called British Petroleum ) resigned May 1 after London newspapers reported that he had a four-year relationship with a 27-year-old man he met through an escort service.
The media also reported allegations that CEO John Browne, 59, had misused company funds, facilities and staff to support ex-boyfriend Jeff Chevalier’s cell-phone ring-tone business.

It also emerged that Browne had lied to a court about how he and Chevalier met, as Browne fought a months-long behind-the-scenes court battle to block publication of a story about the relationship by Associated Newspapers, publisher of The Daily Mail, the Mail on Sunday and the Evening Standard.

Browne had claimed the two met by chance while he was exercising in a public park.

Browne also allegedly lied to the court, medical tests reportedly confirmed, in claiming that Chevalier was hooked on alcohol and drugs.

“For the past 41 years of my career at BP I have kept my private life separate from my business life,” Browne said in a statement announcing his departure. “I have always regarded my sexuality as a personal matter, to be kept private. It is a matter of personal disappointment that a newspaper group has now decided that allegations about my personal life should be made public.

“I wish to acknowledge that I did formerly have a four-year relationship with Jeff Chevalier. ... I deny categorically any allegations of improper conduct relating to BP.

“My initial witness statements, however, contained an untruthful account about how I first met Jeff. This account, prompted by my embarrassment and shock at the revelations, is a matter of deep regret.

“These allegations will result inevitably in considerable media attention for both myself and BP. ... I have therefore informed the board of BP that I intend to stand down as group chief executive with immediate effect.”

—Assistance: Bill Kelley

Baim Views: Beginnings and Endings - Windy City Times Co-founder Dies

Baim Views: Beginnings and Endings - Windy City Times Co-founder Dies
Copyright by The Windy City Times

One of the co-founders of Windy City Times has died. Jeff McCourt, just 51 years old, passed away in relative obscurity in March, and it took weeks for people in Chicago who knew him to find out. His brother contacted The Reader’s Mike Miner, a media columnist who had covered McCourt, to tell him the news.

In the 20th anniversary edition of Windy City Times, in 2005, I wrote extensively about the founding and early years of the paper. ( See . )

In the summer of 1985, Bob Bearden, sales manager of GayLife; Drew Badanish, art director of GayLife; and Bob’s partner McCourt, who wrote entertainment stories as “Mimi O’Shea”, tried to buy GayLife from owner Chuck Renslow. They backed out of the deal and instead planned to start their own weekly gay newspaper, to be named Windy City Times. I met with the three of them for drinks down the block at a gay club. I was managing editor of GayLife, just 22 years old, and I was very torn about leaving the paper for a new beginning.

Somehow, Bob especially was able to convince me that Windy City Times would be the future. I trusted Bob the most because he sold the ads—I knew he was respected in the community. Drew was a good art director, but Jeff was really the big unknown. He would become publisher, I would remain managing editor, and, for a start-up newspaper, there were a bunch of unrealistic promises made.

We first worked out of the apartment he and Bob shared on Melrose. My girlfriend at the time, Angie Schmidt, helped around the office, and she was especially important when Bob got diagnosed with AIDS just a few weeks after the paper began ( fall of 1985 ) . Angie was a part-time healthcare worker, so she would often help with Bob, who was extremely depressed and mostly stayed in his room. Another sales person, Jill Burgen, also helped with Bob, trying to motivate him. We would be working late hours and hated to be in the way when Bob would shuffle out of his room for something.

Eventually, we moved the office to Sheffield and Belmont, behind Gay Horizons, so Bob could have his peace and quiet. We were in a two-level next to the El line, with slanted floors and loud trains rushing by. But the two floors helped because Jeff was on one, I was on the other. We were not getting along because of long hours, rare paychecks, and especially because Jeff started getting more involved in political issues. He had originally promised to stay away from the news section, because his interest was in entertainment. But that changed and during the 44th Ward aldermanic race, Jeff wanted to back the straight incumbent ( Bernie Hansen ) over the gay challenger ( Dr. Ron Sable, who later died of AIDS complications ) . We ran competing endorsement editorials, and he and I often fought about journalism standards. His background was finance, not journalism, so it was bound to end badly.

The most important turning point was really about Bob. For me, Bob had always been the intermediary with Jeff, the calming voice. I knew that if Bob died, I would have to find an alternative. He died in early 1987, and I started making plans. I found a few folks who would invest in a newspaper, and spoke with most of the staff, who said they would follow me. We first planned to make an offer to Jeff to buy Windy City Times, through an attorney. When he found out it was a group I was leading, he was outraged and confronted me in the office. Jill had to step between him and I before it escalated. I wanted to walk out then, but my colleagues said they wanted to give proper notice. So we did, we gave two week’s notice, put out two more issues and left to start Outlines newspaper.

Jeff’s erratic moods and temper were well known in the community. He did learn more about the newspaper business, perhaps motivated by almost every employee walking out in May 1987 to start an alternative paper. For 13 years, we battled it out, Jeff winning mainstream recognition for Windy City Times, and Outlines building a solid community base ( especially striving for gender balance ) . Jeff was a ruthless businessperson, and it was a brutal newspaper war, one I never knew if I could survive. But then in 1999, Jeff suffered another mutiny, this time in the middle of the night with no two-week notice. Those who left misgauged the battle, because the way they did it turned Jeff so far around he actually spoke to me again. He was almost nostalgic for the days he and I worked together, with friends freezing their fingers on the typesetting machines in his basement, all-night editing sessions, running the paste-up boards to the printer.

All three weekly papers battled it out for about a year ( Outlines, Windy City Times, Chicago Free Press ) , and Jeff and his former staff also fought in the courts. The legal battle and ad discount war was too much, and Jeff closed Windy City Times late summer of 2000. I called him that day and said I would buy the name—but I also said I was not going to be jerked around, because I did not trust any records or anything except numbers I could prove. Jeff started down the road of emotional support for the idea saying “Tracy, it was always your paper,” but a few days later he tried to up the price. I said no, and I told him no games, let’s move quickly or not at all—the paper had closed down already and the brand was losing value every day.

It took a few weeks, but we finally did have a deal, thanks to his attorneys, who were motivated to get it done fast, for Jeff’s financial sake. He had huge bills to pay, and the longer the deal waited, the less likely it would have any value.

Jeff and I met at my bank on the South Side that day, attorneys talking inside. He and I sat outside on the cement wall of South Shore Bank, reminiscing about the old days. How hard it was—how it actually never got much easier. About people we had lost, about Bob, about their old three-story walk-up apartment on Melrose. It was surreal, acting like old friends, when we had fought tooth-and-nail for 13 years. But sometimes that phrase “the enemy of my enemy is my friend” really is true—Jeff had been so wounded that he actually turned back to me as an ally.

The buy-out of the Windy City Times name was important for Outlines, because it gave us a mainstream recognition to face the continual media wars in Chicago. Some in the community did not support us because they viewed it as helping Jeff get out of debt. But I tried to see the value to the community, and to our business, and in the end it was the right decision.

I never saw Jeff again, after that sunny fall day. He looked very ill, thin and coughing, but still chain smoking. He had the shakes a bit, as Jeff had always had problems beyond just cigarettes. He was just seven years older than me, but I always felt he was much older, and that his body wouldn’t take much more. I would hear of sightings of Jeff downtown outside facilities he lived in, but no one knew for sure what happened to him. He showed up at a few events, but, again, most of his friends were not even aware he was still in town. As for the “new” Windy City Times, there was not a role for Jeff. He had burned so many bridges. Most people wanted a fresh start, and Jeff himself seemed to be ready to move on. It was mostly a sad situation, one he had a large part in creating. He angered so many people over the years, even close friends, so that when he needed people most, there were few left.

Fortunately, he did have family, and they knew where he was and tried to help. They were the ones who informed Mike Miner of Jeff’s death.

Maybe Jeff is finally at peace now. I am not a spiritual person in that sense, but I do know that he did not have peace in his human existence. He was always fighting against his inner demons, and unfortunately those demons often leaked out into his relationships with the community. Despite my problems with Jeff, I do know he, Bob and Drew are all part of that founding legacy of Windy City Times. I certainly could not have done what I do today without those tough early years. At the young age of 22, I was given the title of managing editor of a weekly gay newspaper—first by Chuck Renslow at GayLife, and next by Jeff, Bob and Drew at Windy City Times.

We walk through life alongside many people who help and hurt us; Jeff did both those things for me and to me. In the end, I thank him for the good work he did do, and I have to forgive him for the pain he caused me. Maybe some day the community will, too.