iNPLACENEWS Blog Has MOVED

September 14, 2008

Hey everyone!  From all the staff to all the readers of our blog and the watchers of our live news programming broadcasted live over the internet directly to your desktop, we want to thank you for all your support and participatiion.  We have relocated our blog to iNPLACENEWS.COM.  There you will find all our blogs, including the old posts, your comments you made, the place to download our free desktop player and all of the current news from around the world.  Stay up-to-date on all the current events by watching our broadcasts, reading our blogs, and watching videos-on-demand.  Again, go to iNPLACENEWS.COM for all the newest blogs and the older posts you love to go back to read.  Thank you again for your time, support, and participation.

-iNPLACENEWS


Rage Against The Machine Protests Republican National Convention

September 5, 2008

I think this is a good sign that the fight left in this country is not gone.  Founded on the principles of freedom and individual rights, peaceful ptotest should never be ceased.  In St. Paul, the police pulled the plug on a Rage Against The Machine concert meant to act as a protest to the Republican National Convention.  As you will see in this video, the crowd supports the band as they opt to do an accapella version of a song as a continuation of their right to peaceful protest.  This is America?  Should the state or its police be using tax payers’ dollars to shut down peaceful protest?  NO

Listen to iNPLACENEWS’ exclusive interview with Rage Against The Machine guitarist and founder, Tom Morello, HERE


McCain Opposes Very Popular Farm Bill

August 6, 2008

Republican presidential candidate John McCain opposes the $300 billion farm bill and subsidies for ethanol, positions that both supporters and opponents say might cost him votes he needs in the upper Midwest this November.

His Democratic rival, Barack Obama, is making a more traditional regional pitch: He favors the farm bill approved by Congress this year and subsidies for the Midwest-based ethanol industry. McCain instead has promised to open new markets abroad for farmers to export their commodities.

In his position papers, McCain opposes farm subsidies only for those with incomes of more than $250,000 and a net worth above $2 million. But he’s gone further on the stump.

“I don’t support agricultural subsidies no matter where they are,” McCain said at a recent appearance in Wisconsin. “The farm bill, $300 billion, is something America simply can’t afford.”

McCain later described the measure, which is very popular throughout the Midwest, as “a $300 billion, bloated, pork-barrel-laden bill” because of subsidies for industries like ethanol.

It’s not a stand that pleases Republican Sen. Charles Grassley of Iowa.

“I would not advise him to take that position,” Grassley said. “For sure, he can’t lose Missouri and that’s in the upper Midwest. Could he lose Iowa, Minnesota and Wisconsin and still be elected president? Yes, but I wouldn’t advise him to have that strategy.”

Grassley, a conservative Republican, and his Senate colleague from Iowa, liberal Democrat Tom Harkin, have achieved enduring success in this state largely by mastering the politics of farm issues. Harkin chairs the Senate Agriculture Committee, which wrote the new farm legislation.

“I don’t see any scenario in which McCain can get to the White House without carrying some upper Midwestern states,” said Harkin, an Obama backer. “I’ve never really understood in all my years why Sen. McCain has gone out of his way to speak against and vote against policies that are important to the upper Midwest.”

There’s a history of close elections in the region. President Bush carried Indiana, Iowa, Missouri, North Dakota and South Dakota in 2004, earning 35 electoral votes. But his Democratic opponent, John Kerry, prevailed in Minnesota, Wisconsin and Illinois, giving him 41 electoral votes.

Veteran GOP strategist Gentry Collins said McCain can defend his record on farm issues, including opposing “corporate welfare” for big operations, but he said there’s more at work.

“The upper Midwest is crucial in this election, and Midwestern voters value authenticity. They value experience,” Collins said. “I don’t think agricultural issues are the only issues Midwestern voters care about. There are some bigger-picture issues, broader issues where he’s strong.”

But on another important issue to Midwesterners, McCain opposed a tax break for developing wind power. Obama supported the tax break.

“We’re employing close to 2,000 people right now in Iowa in the wind energy industry,” Harkin said.

McCain has been most outspoken on ethanol subsidies, and that has Republicans worried in Iowa, the nation’s biggest producer of the fuel. Other top ethanol producers include Illinois, Minnesota, Indiana, Ohio, Wisconsin and Missouri.

“It does challenge him in states like Iowa, the No. 1 ethanol state,” said Bill Northey, Iowa’s Republican agriculture secretary. “It does make it tougher to make the case.”

Drake University political science professor Dennis Goldford said McCain’s problem on farm issues reflects a deeper issue he faces as he’s courted conservative GOP activists, many of whom are deeply suspicious of him.

“He’s essentially reverting to standard Republican supply-side economics,” said Goldford. “That’s where he’s got a problem. He’s got to find his own voice and so far he hasn’t had a voice.”

Iowa Gov. Chet Culver, a Democrat who has campaigned for Obama, said he’s puzzled by McCain’s position. He points to other Republicans who have a different view.

“President Bush and I just had a good conversation about how critically important ethanol is, and how Iowa is positioned so well to lead the nation,” said Culver. “I have no idea why John McCain doesn’t support it. It hurts him in Indiana, and Missouri and Ohio, and it’s not the message right now that any of us want to hear.”

Obama has a modest lead in national polls, but electoral votes will decide the election. Obama is poised to do well on both coasts, while McCain is favored in the South and some parts of the West. That leaves the upper Midwest as a swing battleground.

“The Midwest is crucial in this campaign,” said Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller, a Democrat and an early backer of Obama. “Iowa, Minnesota, Wisconsin and perhaps Indiana are very important states. McCain is behind, and he’s in danger of falling further behind.”

Article by Mike Glover

iNPLACENEWS


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Bush and Cheney Claim Executive Privilege when Subpoened

July 16, 2008

President Bush has asserted executive privilege to prevent Attorney General Michael Mukasey from having to comply with a House panel subpoena for material on the leak of CIA operative Valerie Plame’s identity.

A House committee chairman, meanwhile, held off on a contempt citation of Mukasey – who had requested the privilege claim – but only as a courtesy to lawmakers not present.

Rep. Henry Waxman, chairman of the House Oversight Committee, rejected Mukasey’s suggestion that Vice President Dick Cheney’s FBI interview on the CIA leak should be protected by the privilege claim – and therefore not turned over to the panel.

“We’ll act in the reasonable and appropriate period of time,” Waxman, D-Calif., said. But he made clear that he thinks Mukasey has earned a contempt citation and that he’d schedule a vote on the matter soon.

“This unfounded assertion of executive privilege does not protect a principle; it protects a person,” Waxman said. “If the vice president did nothing wrong, what is there to hide?”

The assertion of the privilege is not about hiding anything but rather protecting the separation of powers as well as the integrity of future Justice Department investigations of the White House, Mukasey wrote to Bush in a letter dated Tuesday. Several of the subpoenaed reports, he wrote, summarize conversations between Bush and advisers – are direct presidential communications protected by the privilege.

“I am greatly concerned about the chilling effect that compliance with the committee’s subpoena would have on future White House deliberations and White House cooperation with future Justice Department investigations,” Mukasey wrote to Bush. “I believe it is legally permissible for you to assert executive privilege with respect to the subpoenaed documents, and I respectfully request that you do so.”

White House spokesman Tony Fratto said Bush invoked the privilege on Tuesday.

Waxman said he would wait to hold a vote on Mukasey’s contempt citation until all members of the panel had a chance to read up on the matter.

The Bush administration had plenty of warning. Waxman warned last week that he would cite Mukasey with contempt unless the attorney general complied with the subpoena. The House Judiciary Committee also has subpoenaed some of the same documents from Mukasey, as well as information on the leak from other current and former administration officials.

Congressional Democrats want to shed light on the precise roles, if any, that Bush, Cheney and their aides may have played in the leak.

State Department official Richard Armitage first revealed Plame’s identity as a CIA operative to columnist Robert Novak, who used former presidential counselor Karl Rove as a confirming source for a 2003 article. Around that time Plame’s husband, former Ambassador Joseph Wilson, was criticizing Bush’s march to war in Iraq.

Cheney’s then-chief of staff, I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby, also was involved in the leak and was convicted of perjury, obstruction and lying to the FBI. Last July, Bush commuted Libby’s 2 1/2-year sentence, sparing him from serving any prison time.

Libby told the FBI in 2003 that it was possible that Cheney ordered him to reveal Plame’s identity to reporters.

Article by Laurie Kellman
iNPLACENEWS

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.


Karl Rove Refuses To Testify To Congress

July 10, 2008

Former White House adviser Karl Rove defied a congressional subpoena and refused to testify Thursday about allegations of political pressure at the Justice Department, including whether he influenced the prosecution of a former Democratic governor of Alabama.

Rep. Linda Sanchez, chairman of a House subcommittee, ruled with backing from fellow Democrats on the panel that Rove was breaking the law by refusing to cooperate – perhaps the first step toward holding him in contempt of Congress.

Lawmakers subpoenaed Rove in May in an effort to force him to talk about whether he played a role in prosecutors’ decisions to pursue cases against Democrats, such as former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman, or in firing federal prosecutors considered disloyal to the Bush administration.

Rove had been scheduled to appear at the House Judiciary subcommittee hearing Thursday morning. A placard with his name sat in front of an empty chair at the witness table, with a handful of protesters behind it calling for Rove to be arrested.

A decision on whether to pursue contempt charges now goes to the full Judiciary Committee and ultimately to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

House Republicans called Thursday’s proceedings a political stunt and said if Democrats truly wanted information they would take Rove up on an offer he made to discuss the matter informally.

The House already has voted to hold two of President Bush’s confidants in contempt for failing to cooperate with its inquiry into whether the administration fired nine federal prosecutors in 2006 for political reasons.

The case, involving White House chief of staff Josh Bolten and former White House counsel Harriet Miers, is in federal court and may not be resolved before Bush’s term ends in January.

The White House has cited executive privilege, arguing that internal administration communications are confidential and that Congress cannot compel officials to testify.

Rove says he is bound to follow the White House’s guidance, although he has offered to answer questions specifically on the Siegelman case – but only with no transcript taken and not under oath.

Democrats have rejected the offer because the testimony would not be sworn and, they say, could create a confusing record.

Rove has insisted publicly that he never tried to influence Justice Department decisions and was not even aware of the Siegelman prosecution until it landed in the news.

Siegelman – an unusually successful Democrat in a heavily Republican state – was charged with accepting and concealing a contribution to his campaign to start a state education lottery, in exchange for appointing a hospital executive to a regulatory board.

He was sentenced last year to more than seven years in prison but was released in March when a federal appeals court ruled Siegelman had raised “substantial questions of fact and law” in his appeal.

Siegelman and others have alleged the prosecution was pushed by GOP operatives – including Rove, a longtime Texas strategist who was heavily involved in Alabama politics before working at the White House. A former Republican campaign volunteer from Alabama told congressional attorneys last year that she overheard conversations suggesting that Rove pressed Justice officials in Washington to prosecute Siegelman.

The career prosecutors who handled Siegelman’s case have insisted that Rove had nothing to do with it, emphasizing that the former governor was convicted by a jury.

Story by Ben Evans

iNPLACENEWS

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.


Bush Freezes Cuts in Medical Fees

June 30, 2008

The Bush administration said Monday it is freezing a scheduled 10 percent fee cut for doctors who treat Medicare patients, giving Congress time to act to prevent the cuts when lawmakers return from a July 4 recess.

Physicians have been running ads hinting that as a result of the cuts, patients may find doctors less willing to treat them. The administration’s delay in implementing the cuts, which had been scheduled to go into effect Tuesday, spares lawmakers from having to use the recess to explain to seniors why they didn’t do the job before leaving town.

Kevin Schweers, a spokesman for the Department of Health and Human Services, said Monday the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services will hold doctors’ Medicare claims for services delivered on or after July 1. Claims for services received on before June 30 will be processed as usual, he said.

Congress, not willing to face millions of angry seniors at the polls in November, will almost certainly act quickly when it returns to Washington the week of July 7 to prevent the cuts in payments for some 600,000 doctors who treat Medicare patients. The cuts were scheduled because of a formula that requires fee cuts when spending exceeds established goals.

HHS Secretary Mike Leavitt had promised Friday that his agency “will take all steps available to the department under the law to minimize the impact on providers and beneficiaries.” On Monday, the department used its administrative tools to delay implementing the scheduled 10.6 percent cuts.

“By holding claims for health care services that are delivered on or after July 1, CMS will not be making any payments on the 10.6 percent reduction until July 15 at the earliest,” Schweers said.

Almost every year, Congress finds a way to block such cuts. But last week the Senate fell just one vote short of the 60 needed to proceed to legislation that would have stopped the cut.

In a particularly vitriolic exchange, Democrats and Republicans blamed each other for what Dr. Nancy H. Nielsen, president of the American Medical Association, said has put the country “at the brink of a Medicare meltdown.”

“Seniors need continued access to the doctors they trust. It’s urgent that Congress make that happen,” the AMA said in ads taken out in Capitol Hill newspapers read by members of Congress and their aides.

Doctors have complained for years that Medicare payments have failed to cover rising costs.

This year majority Democrats homed in on cutting the Medicare Advantage program, which is an ideological issue for both parties. The Bush administration and Republicans like Medicare Advantage because it lets the elderly and disabled choose to get their health benefits through private insurers rather than through traditional Medicare. Democrats argued that government payments to the insurers are too generous.

The White House warned that President Bush would be urged to veto a bill that contained cuts to Medicare Advantage.

That didn’t stop the House last Tuesday from approving the legislation 355-59, well above the margin needed to override a veto. Every Democrat supported it, and Republicans, bucking their president, voted 129-59 for it.

Originally found @ AssociatedPress.com

iNPLACENEWS

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.


30 Thousand Troops Going to Iraq

June 28, 2008

The Pentagon is preparing to order approximately 30,000 troops to Iraq early next year in a move that would allow the U.S. to maintain 15 combat brigades in the country through 2009, according to sources via the Associated Press. This deployments would replace troops currently there. This could all change quickly though is Gen. David Petraeus, the top U.S. commander in Iraq, decides in the fall to further reduce troop levels in Iraq.

Several officials familiar with the deployments spoke on condition of anonymity because the orders have not yet been made public.

According to the officials, three active-duty Army brigade combat teams, one Army National Guard brigade and two Marine regimental combat teams are being notified that they are being sent to Iraq in early 2009. Officials would not release the specific units involved because the soldiers and Marines and their families have not all been told except the Army National Guard unit who were told last October that they should be prepared to deploy to Iraq early in 2009. They are the 56th Brigade Combat Team, 28th Infantry Division from the Pennsylvania National Guard which is a large brigade with heavily armored Stryker vehicles.

Overall, there are about 146,000 forces in Iraq, and that number is expected to dip to about 142,000 by mid-July when that last unit is all out. That total is at least 7,000 more than the number of troops in Iraq before the buildup began early last year.

Petraeus told Congress in May that he is likely to recommend further troop reductions in Iraq, but he did not provide any details. If he decides in the Fall that fewer brigades will be needed in Iraq during the next year, there is the chance that brigades could simply be directed to the war in Afghanistan instead.

There is a broad consensus that more troops are needed in Afghanistan, to both train the security forces and fight the insurgents. Defense Secretary Robert Gates and President Bush, earlier this year, told NATO allies that they would increase troop levels in Afghanistan in 2009 in response to the growing violence.

Overall, as seems to be the plan of the current administration and its potential Republican successor, the war is not ending, the occupation is not ceasing, and troops are not coming home.

iNPLACENEWS


iNPLACENEWS Interview of Rage Against The Machine’s Tom Morello

June 23, 2008

Tom Morello, best known for his work as the founding member and guitar player for RAGE AGAINST THE MACHINE, AUDIOSLAVE, and Nightwatchman is interviewed by iNPLACENEWS’ Paul Stewart. In this interview, they discuss Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, the war in Iraq, and the Presidential Elections. Also, he talks about his most recent tour with Nightwatchman, social responsibility of rockstars and other artists, as well his nonprofit organization Axis of Justice.

Here is what was found in Wikipedia about Tom:

Tom Morello was born in New York, New York. His mother, Mary Morello, who is part Irish and part Italian, is a founder of Parents for Rock and Rap, an anti-censorship group. She was also a teacher at Libertyville High School. His father, Ngethe Njoroge, a Kenyan, was the country’s first ambassador to the United Kingdom. Morello’s great-uncle, Jomo Kenyatta, was the first president of Kenya.

Morello grew up in Libertyville, Illinois, at the time a virtually all-white suburb of Chicago. There he attended Libertyville High School. He sang in the school chorus and was active in speech and drama club – a prominent role was Oberon in A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

He showed his political leanings early. Morello has described himself as having been “the only anarchist in a conservative high school”, but has since identified as a nonsectarian socialist. In the 1980 mock elections at LHS, he campaigned for a fictitious “candidate” named Hubie Maxwell, who came in fourth place after Jimmy Carter at the overwhelmingly Republican school. Ronald Reagan won the mock election. He also wrote a piece headlined “South Africa: Racist Fascism That We Support” for the school’s alternative paper, The Student Pulse.

At age 13, Morello joined Nebula, a Led Zeppelin cover band as lead singer. At this same age, Morello purchased his first guitar at Rigoni Music in Libertyville. He wanted a solid-body Ovation guitar, but he didn’t have the money to buy one. Instead, he purchased a Kay guitar. Wanting to learn how to play “Black Dog” by Led Zeppelin, he took two guitar lessons, but instead was taught the C-major scale. He decided that playing the guitar was a waste of his time, so he placed it in his closet for the next three years.

Around 1984, Morello first started studying the guitar seriously. He had formed a band in the same year called the which featured future Tool guitarist Adam Jones on bass.

Few if any of the Sheep could really play an instrument at first, but the band was an impetus for Morello to start honing his skills. Instead of performing cover songs, the Sheep wrote original material that included politically charged lyrics. None of the songs composed by the Sheep contained solos; soloing was a skill that Morello began learning in college.

At the time, Morello’s musical tastes lay in the direction of heavy metal, particularly Kiss, Alice Cooper, Led Zeppelin, and Black Sabbath. Morello developed his own unique sound through the electric guitar. Later, his music—and musical politics—were greatly influenced by punk rock bands like The Clash, the Sex Pistols, and Devo.

Morello graduated in 1982 and began attending Harvard University. There, he made a point of practicing every day for up to eight hours without fail, no matter how much studying he had to do. He graduated in 1986 with an honors degree in political science. He moved to L.A., where he briefly worked as an aide to Senator Alan Cranston as he set about trying to join or start a band. Adam Jones moved to L.A. as well; Morello introduced Jones and Maynard James Keenan to Danny Carey, who would come to form the band Tool.

iNPLACENEWS


Forget Endangered Species, Border Security is the Most Important

June 23, 2008


The Supreme Court on Monday turned down a plea by environmental groups to curb the Bush administration’s power to waive laws and regulations to speed construction of a fence along the U.S.-Mexican border. Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff has used his Congress-given authority to ignore environmental and other laws and regulations to move forward with hundreds of miles of fencing in Arizona, California, New Mexico and Texas. Earlier this year, Chertoff waived more than 30 laws and regulations in an effort to finish building 670 miles of fence along the southwest border. Administration officials have said that invoking the legal waivers, made possible when Congress authorized it in 1996 and 2005 laws, will cut through bureaucratic red tape and sidestep environmental laws that stand in the way of fence construction.

As of June, 13th, 2008, 331 miles of fencing have been constructed in California, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas, but this specific case involved a two-mile section of fence in the San Pedro Riparian National Conservation Area near Naco, Arizona, which has since been built.

Congressman Thompson who chairs the House Homeland Security Committee 13 other House democrats (including six other committee chairs) filed a brief in support of the environmentalists’ appeal.

Congress failed to pass comprehensive immigration reform when it had the chance in 2007.

Thompson said, “Without a comprehensive plan, this fence is just another quick fix.”

Environmentalists have said the fence puts already endangered species such as two types of wild cats – the ocelot and the jaguarundi – in even more danger. The fence would prevent them from swimming across the Rio Grande to mate.

iNPLACENEWS


Standoff in Iraq Is NOT Just About Oil or Unwanted US Presence,

June 21, 2008


The decisive battle of the Iraq war is shaping up – not in the streets of Baghdad but in the halls of government where the future of America’s role across the region is on the line.

American and Iraqi officials have expressed new resolve to hammer out far-reaching deals that would allow U.S. forces to remain on bases across Iraq once the U.N. mandate expires at year’s end.

The stakes in the talks are enormous.

The outcome will shape not just Iraq for years to come – but, more important, America’s strategic position all across the oil-rich Persian Gulf at a time when Iran’s influence is growing. The U.S. maintains substantial air and naval forces elsewhere in the Gulf but few ground troops except in Iraq.

A pact also would assure Arab allies that Iraq would not fall under domination by Iran, which is pressuring the Iraqis to refuse any deal that keeps U.S. soldiers here.

But critics in the United States fear it will tie the hands of the next president when millions of Americans are anxious to bring troops home. Many Iraqis, in turn, worry the deal will allow American domination of their country for decades.

With so much in the balance, the Iraqi government said Wednesday that both Washington and Baghdad recognize the need to finish the talks by July’s end “to avoid any legal vacuum that may arise.”

That came only days after it seemed the deal was dead. But Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari said the prospects for an accord had brightened because of new U.S. flexibility after meetings in Washington.

The White House said President Bush and Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki discussed the talks Thursday via secured video teleconference and affirmed their commitment to completing the deal.

Nevertheless, the two sides remain far apart on core issues, including the number of bases where the United States will have a presence, and U.S. demands for immunity from Iraqi law for American soldiers and contractors.

Other obstacles include U.S. authority to detain suspects, fight battles without Iraqi permission and control of the country’s airspace.

Iraq’s parliament must sign off on the deal by year’s end – and approval is by no means certain.

Opposition to the initial U.S. demands brought together rival Sunni, Shiite and Kurdish leaders who all complain the deal would leave real power in American hands.

The oil minister, who is close to the country’s powerful Shiite clerical leadership, told the British newspaper The Guardian this week that Iraq will demand the right to veto any U.S. military operation.

But American commanders believe they need such sweeping powers to protect U.S. soldiers in a combat zone.

Publicly, U.S. officials have expressed confidence they can find language that will satisfy the Iraqis on all major issues. But the negotiations are taking place against the backdrop of war and intense power struggles among rival ethnic groups in Iraq – each with its own agenda.

The U.S. operates scores of bases throughout the country, including the sprawling Camp Victory headquarters in Baghdad, Asad air base in western Iraq and the giant air facility at Balad, a 16-square-mile installation about 60 miles north of the capital that houses tens of thousands of American troops, contractors and U.S. government civilians.

It’s still unclear how many of the facilities Washington would want to keep.

If all else fails, the two sides could go back to the U.N. Security Council and seek an extension of the mandate allowing troops in Iraq.

But that could prove politically embarrassing – and difficult – in the waning days of the Bush administration or the early days of the new U.S. presidency.

The current standoff has its roots in events last August when leaders of Iraq’s rival factions – facing enormous U.S. pressure to resolve their differences – signed a declaration of unity.

It included a statement that Iraq’s government wanted a long-term security relationship with the United States apart from U.N. mandates, which Iraq has long wanted to end.

A few months later, Bush and al-Maliki signed a statement of principles to negotiate two agreements – a broad security framework and a second deal spelling out the rules for the U.S. military presence.

Talks began in March but Iraqi officials were outraged over the initial U.S. demands – especially immunity for U.S. soldiers and security contractors.

The American draft also included no firm commitment to defend Iraq from foreign invasion – which would require U.S. Senate approval – nor a timetable for the departure of American troops, according to Iraqi officials. U.S. officials have released few details.

After Iraqi negotiators briefed lawmakers last month, politicians from all walks paraded in front of microphones to denounce the U.S. proposals.

Some commentators likened the U.S. position to the Iraqi-British treaty of 1930, which gave Britain virtual control of the country and is widely seen here as a humiliation.

Shiite lawmaker Haidar al-Abadi, speaking for al-Maliki’s party, said June 4 that “negotiations are at a standstill, and the Iraqi side is studying its options.” A week later al-Maliki himself said talks had reached a “dead-end.”

Aides scrambled to clarify that al-Maliki did not mean negotiations were over. But his comments reflected Iraq’s resolve not to accept an agreement short of major Iraqi demands.

“We could not give amnesty to a soldier carrying arms on our soil,” al-Maliki said then.

Such comments reflect each Iraqi faction’s need to publicly defend Iraq’s rights, amid the country’s intense political rivalry.

Some Sunni groups, for example, privately favor a continued American presence as a counterweight to Iran’s influence among Shiites. Yet several leading Sunni politicians signed a letter to Congress insisting on a timetable for a U.S. withdrawal – in part to needle al-Maliki on an nationalistic issue.

Shiite parties, in turn, believe the agreement would shore up American support for al-Maliki ahead of parliamentary elections next year – a goal they seek. But Shiite leaders are also anxious to take over full control of their country.

Meanwhile, recent Iraqi military successes against al-Qaida in Mosul and Shiite extremists in the south have convinced some Shiite politicians they don’t really need America.

“Iraq has another option that it may use,” al-Maliki said recently. “The Iraqi government, if it wants, has the right to demand that the U.N. terminate the presence of international forces on Iraqi sovereign soil.”

This story is originally posted at AssociatedPress.com

iNPLACENEWS

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.