Archive for September 2, 2009


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Company Banned From Operating by Iraqi Government Earlier This Year

Source: By KIRIT RADIA | ABC News Exclusive

The State Department has extended a contract with controversial private security firm Blackwater, ABC News has learned. The contract was due to expire this month.

Sources say the department has agreed to temporarily continue using the subsidiary known as Presidential Airways to provide helicopter transport for embassy employees around Iraq until a new contract with another security company, Dyncorp International, is fully implemented. Presidential Airways is an arm of U.S. Training Center, which is a subsidiary of the company Xe, formerly and still commonly known as Blackwater.

Officials say Dyncorp will not be fully staffed and certified in order to assume the responsibilities immediately. Dyncorp takes over the airlift contract on Sept. 4, but because of the delicate handoff between companies, the contract with Blackwater was extended so that the companies overlap.

“The deployment of an aviation program in Iraq is a complex challenge — a slower transition to DynCorp taking over the task order is in the best interest of the government,” a State Department official said.

The Blackwater contract’s extension is for an indefinite period of time, but an official stressed it was “limited.” The official said the State Department would like to complete the transition in “weeks or months.”

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Source: The Cloud Foundation

Hat Tip: Barbara Ellen Ries | Author of Sweet Adeline’s Story of Courage and Emergence of Spirit

Press Release

BILLINGS, MONTANA- AUGUST 31, 2009: The Pryor Mountain Wild Horses, perhaps best known from the popular Cloud: Wild Stallion of the Rockies PBS Nature series, have two more days of freedom before an unprecedented round up could begin. The Pryors roundup has been delayed for two days to allow Judge Sullivan of the Federal District Court to hear the case brought against the BLM by The Cloud Foundation and Front Range Equine Rescue.

The Bureau of Land Management, responsible for managing wild horses on public lands in the United States, plans to round up all the horses in Montana’s only remaining wild herd and remove 70 horses plus four or more foals. This will leave a non-viable herd of only 120 horses according to respected equine geneticist, Gus Cothran, Ph.D., of Texas A&M University. The Pryor Mountain wild horses are a unique Spanish herd renowned for their primitive markings, historical connections, and spectacular habitat. 

BLM is dispatching National Wild Horse and Burro Program staff for this round up, perhaps because they expect trouble from humane advocates who are currently being prevented from observing this roundup. “Never before in my experience have plans been so vague and operations so secret in the Pryors,” says Ginger Kathrens, Volunteer Executive Director of The Cloud Foundation.” The BLM will be closing down roads to the mountain top where the majority of the herd spends their days grazing peacefully in their subalpine meadows. Young foals, only days old will be driven by helicopters and are in serious danger of being hurt or killed. Billings BLM Field Manager Jim Sparks told one advocate that they would expect a loss of 2% or six horses as a result of this operation. 

Image: The Cloud Foundation | Cloud

Image: The Cloud Foundation | Cloud

The BLM has always had signs posted at the entrances to the horse range that tell the public to ‘report violations of harassment, death or removals.’ “Why are they above the law?” Asks Crow Tribe Historian and Elder, Howard Boggess. “Everything that is against the law for me they are planning to do to these horses. This is a very sad thing as far as I’m concerned. The horses have lived here for over 200 years. Even under the harassment of the BLM they’ve survived since 1971.” 

The BLM claims that it is necessary to remove 70 horses in order to “maintain a thriving ecological balance.” However, the range is still green in late August following three years of above average precipitation after a multi-year drought. The horses are fat, preparing to go into winter. “Why are they removing nearly half the horses after the drought is over? I’ve told them [the BLM] if you take these 70 horses you’ve destroyed the bloodline, the gene pool will no longer be there,” continues Boggess. “Their whole goal is to get rid of the horses.”

“What they are proposing to do is criminal— people locally and all across the Nation worked so hard to save these horses from eradication in 1968,” explains Kathrens. “This range was specially designated for wild horses, the first of its kind in the nation. This is their refuge and it is about to be invaded.”

The BLM plans to remove 17 horses over ten years old and by BLM’s Standard Operating Procedures, “old, sick or lame horses shall be destroyed.” “When they take out the old horses they remove the ones that know the way to the water, the good grass, the way around the canyon – they’re taking out all of the knowledge of the herd,” Boggess explains. “It is really sad to sit there and look at the horses and think that in the next ten days they’ll be taken off this range and they’ll never see it again.” 

This case is scheduled to be heard on Wednesday, September 2nd, and thousands of people around the United States and the world await the decision of Judge Sullivan which will decide the fate of the unique and beloved Pryor Wild Horse Herd.
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Just when you thought the health reform debate in this country couldn’t get any more absurd. A group of Billionaireshad to come out of the closet and go stick their two cents into the debate, geez. Those lowly millionaire Republicans must feel a bit insignificant about right now, don’t ya think?

God bless em, Billionaires for Wealth Care are taking the high road when it comes to the “I can scream longer and louder than you” mentality of the party formerly known as the GOP. But most importantly they are having some fun mocking the teabaggers, birthers, deathers and whatever else they decide to pull out of their arse in the name of health care reform in the coming weeks.

Sadly though the rhetoric and tone of these rightwing fearmongers has reached new highs, bordering on sedition but clearly now their racial prejudice and hatred is in the forefront of their protest. Consider this account from East County Magazine, a nonprofit, nonpartisan community magazine that covers San Diego County.  

Davis staffers passed out information on healthcare reform including answers to common questions—answers many in the crowd apparently had no inclination to read. Although the majority of the crowd seemed in favor of healthcare reform, those opposed were not content to wait their turn to be called upon to ask questions. Instead, many shouted out insults to the Congresswoman and some uttered racial slurs including “nigger” against President Barack Obama.
 
When Davis attempted to assure the crowd that Congress does not plan to take anybody’s healthcareaway(instead considering a public option for those who have no insurance or are dissatisfied with their coverage), booing ensued.

Image: Bitching Blog Bites | Photo taken at Congresswoman's Susan Davis' (D-San Diego) Town Hall

Image: Bitching Blog Bites | Photo taken at Congresswoman's Susan Davis' (D-San Diego) Town Hall

One protestor (photo, right) carried a sign reading “Healthcare=gas chamber for seniors and babies,” an apparent reference to claims that the bill’s provision offering coverage for end-of-life care and counseling would encourage euthanasia.  The American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) has issued a statement denouncing that claim as false.
 
One UCSD student, dismayed that anti-healthcare protesters prevented her from asking a serious healthcare question (regarding coverage for women’s reproductive health) posted her account of the town hall meeting here: Disruptive tactics by anti-healthcare reform protestors appear to be counterproductive.  A new national poll conducted by the American Association of Retired Persons has found that 80% of those surveyed now support a public option.

The young woman at the Bitching BlogBites whose post “Town Hall Chaos”, East Country referred their readers to, is a good read. As it turns out the bitchingblog poster had a serious question she wished to ask but the town hall was a bit different than she expected. Put yourself in her place; you’re going to a town hall meeting, hoping that it won’t be boring and  just maybe, you’d actually witness a little of the craziness you have been seeing play-out  in the media for weeks. Then walking into this;

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