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It's one thing when former high-ranking members of your own Administration come out against your war. It's another thing when two-thirds of the country calls the invasion and occupation a mistake. It's really something when your own church issues a statement urging you to pull out the troops now.

Last week, the United Methodist Church Board of Church and Society--the social action committee of the church that both President Bush and Vice President Cheney belong to--resoundingly passed a resolution calling for withdrawal with only two 'no' votes and one abstention.

"As people of faith, we raise our voice in protest against the tragedy of the unjust war in Iraq," the statement read. "Thousands of lives have been lost and hundreds of billions of dollars wasted in a war the United States initiated and should never have fought.... We grieve for all those whose lives have been lost or destroyed in this needless and avoidable tragedy. Military families have suffered undue hardship from prolonged troop rotations in Iraq and loss of loved ones. It is time to bring them home."

Strip-mining the Dominican Republic for talent, Major League Baseball
periodically plucks one lucky boy from his home and family and gives
him a dream for a better life. But what happens the other 99 left
behind in "baseball factories," still hoping?

Luis Inacio Lula da Silva came into power in 2002 on a wave of populist
support for an era of socialist politics and participatory democracy.
But da Silva has offered the people of Brazil a corrupt leadership
instead.

Two offensive attack ads in the Virginia governor's race have backfired on Republican
candidate Jerry Kilgore and his attack-dog media consultant. Does this mean GOP smear tactics are a spent force?

The Kurds have almost no natural resources and suffer from a culture of
corruption. But their call for autonomy is a serious threat to the
building of a united Iraq.

It isn't the choir of small boys, casting about, singing shyly or
It isn't  with perfect oval mouths,

An e-mail from my rabbi, who's moved to the West Coast,
says they're "happier than pigs in shit." Something
forced about that. People with a new grandchild don't boast

By writing a novel about a conventional novelist writing about a
conventional man, J.M. Coetzee's latest work illuminates the role of
the novel and cuts through typical and tired theories on fiction.

Power and the Idealists clings to the notion that the Iraq War was
waged for humanitarian ideals, while At the Point of a Gun
documents the inner torment of humanitarian interventionists who,
without forgetting Rwanda and Bosnia, have gazed into the Iraqi abyss.

The privatization of the nation's greatest, once-public colleges and
universities is well under way. The loss of low-cost higher education
is a quiet tragedy, one that will severely limit the potential of
generations of future students.

The quiet purposefulness that characterized Rosa Parks's actions bears eloquent witness to the power of her protest.

Congress has decided to grant the gun lobby its most fervent and irresponsible wish: blanket immunity from civil lawsuits.

In 1776, the Continental Congress awarded the first Congressional Gold Medal of Honor to General George Washington, a bold and determined man who had the courage to lead his country into battle for its freedom but who lacked the wisdom to recognize that the promise of the American Revolution would never be fully realized for so long as African Americans were second-class citizens.

In 1999, two hundred and twenty three years after Washington was recognized by the Continental Congress, its successor, the 106th Congress, voted overwhelmingly to award the same Congressional Gold Medal of Honor that had once been given to the man know as The Father of His Country to the woman who will forever be known as the Mother of the Civil Rights Movement.

With her December 5, 1955, refusal to give up her seat on a Montgomery, Alabama, city bus to a white passenger, Rosa Parks triggered a boycott by African Americans of the municipal bus system that lasted more than a year and inspired the movement that forced the end of the officially-sanctioned segregation that had created an apartheid system in the American south.For that, and for her resolute commitment to carry on the struggle for social and economic justice throughout a long life of fighting discrimination based on race, class, sex and sexuality, Parks received many awards, all of them richly deserved.

Now that he's published a book about his Guantanamo ordeal, it's time to revisit the story of former Army chaplain James Yee. (I published a column about Yee in 2004 but much has happened since then and Yee's compelling narrative fills in many of the blanks.)

His book For God And Country is one decent person's account of his inhumane treatment by US military authorities. In short, the story happened like this: Yee was the only Muslim chaplain at Guantanamo's prison base, and he incurred his commanders' wrath when he told his superiors that Muslim prisoners were being abused and having their rights violated.

Prior to his arrest on bogus charges of sedition, mutiny and espionage, Yee, ironically, had received glowing commendations in reviews from his superiors. Nonetheless, armed with an arrest warrant from Guantanamo's second-in-command--but as we later found out, hardly a shred of evidence--the military put Yee in solitary confinement for 76 days. It dragged his name through the mud as officials leaked information to the media charging that Yee was a member of a Guantanamo spy ring that sympathized with Al Qaeda.

It has all the makings of a horror flick, but panic over a
possible bird flu pandemic is following a time-honored script:
sensational media reports, profit-hungry drug manufacturers and
politicians eager to capitalize on fears.

Our readers write back on Darwin, New Orleans, and Bill Bennett.

You may have missed it, but the first week of October was Lawsuit Abuse Awareness Week. Was this catchy concept created to raise awareness of people abused by negligence or malpractice who must pursue remedy through the courts?

No. It was created BY the industries who don't want to be sued for wrongdoing or negligence (and who also happen to have the resources to run ads on Fox, CNN and MSNBC) and who would rather mislead the public into believing that "greedy personal injury lawyers" are filing so many "meritless lawsuits" that win "outrageous jury awards" that the legal system has to be fundamentally changed.

This is the fallacious argument behind "tort reform." And don't be confused–it is a fallacious argument. Medical malpractice insurance is a perfect example. The insurance industry says it has to raise rates because it gets sued too much by greedy lawyers. But these charges fall flat in the face of Bush Justice Department figures released this past summer which said that the number of tort cases resolved in US District Courts fell by 79 percent between 1985 and 2003. The truth is that medical malpractice tort costs account for less than two percent of healthcare spending, according to the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office. Legal awards to patients is simply not where high health insurance costs are coming from. Want to see lower insurance rates? Regulate the industry.

Saddam Hussein went to trial on Wednesday declaring he was still the president of Iraq. A series of odes a decade ago to Hussein's dictatorial days show the tyrant was always out of touch with reality.

Those who believe that slavery in America was strictly a "Southern
thing" will discover an eye-opening historical record on display at the
New-York Historical Society's current exhibition, "Slavery in New
York."

"The CIA leak issue is only the tip of the iceberg," Congressman Jerry Nadler told me when I ran into him on the street near our offices on Friday afternoon. He was quick to tell me of a call--led by Congressman Maurice Hinchey (D-NY) and Nadler, along with 39 of their House colleagues--for Special Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald's investigation to be expanded to examine whether the White House--President, Vice-President, and members of the WH's Iraq War Group--conspired to deliberately deceive Congress into authorizing the war. And, as Nadler reminded me, lying to Congress is a crime under several federal statutes.

This is the first call by members of Congress for an expansion of Fitzgerald's probe, amid mounting evidence that there was a well-orchestrated effort by what former State Department aide Larry Wilkerson dubbed last week, "the Cheney-Rumsfeld axis" to hijack US foreign policy and knowingly mislead the Congress in order to get its support for an unlawful war.

"We are no longer just talking about a Republican culture of corruption and cronyism," Nadler says. "We now have reason to believe that high crimes may have been committed at the highest level, wrongdoing that may have led us to war and imperiled our national security." For more on this important call for the investigation's expansion, click here, and then click here to ask your elected reps to support these calls.

Even on the weekend, our obsession with the Plame/CIA leak scandal--and the Judy Miller sideshow--doesn't end. Here's a piece I posted on my blog at

George Bush, who once criticized Ronald Reagan's approach to terrorism, is now making a desperate grab for the former president's coattails.

In August, Bush said that, because of Reagan's decision to withdraw U.S. troops from Lebanon after the 1983 bombing of a Maine barracks in Beirut killed 241 Americans, "[Terrorists] concluded that free societies lack the courage and character to defend themselves against a determined enemy."

But two months later, with his poll ratings dropping to levels Reagan never saw, and with public support for the Iraq occupation collapsing, Bush traveled to a the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum, where he declared with a straight face that, "we are answering history's call with confidence and a comprehensive strategy."

Rows of plain black boots and empty pairs of baby shoes and dancing slippers are a mute testament to the American soldiers and Iraqi civilians who have perished in Iraq, as shown in a traveling exhibition sponsored by the American Friends Service Committee.