Putin plan to shut out US oil giants
Kremlin will favour Norwegian firms to develop Barents Sea
field after differences with Bush scupper Russia’s bid to join WTO
Conal Walsh, Sunday July 23, 2006, The Observer
President Vladimir Putin is set to keep US oil companies out of a lucrative gas field in the latest sign of the deteriorating relationship between Moscow and Washington.
The Russian leader is expected to favour Norwegian companies and reject bids by America’s Chevron and ConocoPhillips after failing to secure backing from the United States for his country’s attempt to join the World Trade Organisation.
The tit-for-tat snub will be a blow to US companies scrambling for access to Russia’s huge gas reserves at a time of high energy prices. It comes after Putin failed to resolve differences with US President George Bush over trade and human rights at the G8 conference in St Petersburg last week. Link – The Observer
Russia defies U.S. with Venezuela arms deal
MOSCOW, Russia (Reuters) — Russia said Thursday it had sold 24 aircraft and 53 helicopters to Venezuela, defying the United States, which has urged Moscow to halt arms sales to Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez. Link
US Arab group sues Rice, Rumsfeld over Lebanon evacuation
Mon Jul 24, 9:43 PM ET
WASHINGTON (AFP) – An Arab-American group sued top Bush administration officials, claiming it bungled the evacuation from Lebanon of US nationals, leaving them vulnerable to the Israeli military offensive.
In their suit against US Secretary of State
Condoleezza Rice and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld filed in a Detroit, Michigan federal court, the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) asked the court to order the government to stop shipping weapons to Israel as long as US citizens remain in danger inside Lebanon.
“At no time has President (George W.) Bush, Secretary of State Rice, or Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld called for a ceasefire in Lebanon,” said ADC president Mary Rose Oakar.
“To the contrary, the Bush administration has encouraged the violence by sending an urgent shipment of bombs to Israel, giving that country the green light to continue in its indiscriminate bombing of Lebanon,” Oakar said in a statement.
“This has placed innocent civilians, including thousands of US citizens, in harm’s way and has resulted in injuring several US citizens in Lebanon.”
The suit, filed by the ADC and 34 Lebanese-Americans who have either left Lebanon or are trying still to get out, charges the government with violating their constitutional rights to protection with the much-criticized, slow evacuation of US nationals, and by aiding Israel’s attacks, which threaten to harm US nationals.
The suit asks for an emergency court order to stop the US sending more weapons to Israel as long as US citizens are in danger in Lebanon.
It also asks that the court order Rice and Rumsfeld to seek a ceasefire between Israel and Lebanon’s Hezbollah militia to enable US nationals to flee Lebanon, and to make better efforts to help them depart the country.
Senator Spector prepping bill to sue Bush Administration – Link
By LAURIE KELLMAN, Associated Press Writer
WASHINGTON – A powerful Republican committee chairman who has led the fight against President Bush’s signing statements said Monday he would have a bill ready by the end of the week allowing Congress to sue him in federal court.
“We will submit legislation to the United States Senate which will…authorize the Congress to undertake judicial review of those signing statements with the view to having the president’s acts declared unconstitutional,” Judiciary Committee Chairman Arlen Specter, R-Pa., said on the Senate floor.
Specter’s announcement came the same day that an American Bar Association task force concluded that by attaching conditions to legislation, the president has sidestepped his constitutional duty to either sign a bill, veto it, or take no action.
Bush has issued at least 750 signing statements during his presidency, reserving the right to revise, interpret or disregard laws on national security and constitutional grounds.
“That non-veto hamstrings Congress because Congress cannot respond to a signing statement,” said ABA president Michael Greco. The practice, he added “is harming the separation of powers.”
Bush has challenged about 750 statutes passed by Congress, according to numbers compiled by Specter’s committee. The ABA estimated Bush has issued signing statements on more than 800 statutes, more than all other presidents combined.
Signing statements have been used by presidents, typically for such purposes as instructing agencies how to execute new laws.
But many of Bush’s signing statements serve notice that he believes parts of bills he is signing are unconstitutional or might violate national security.
Still, the White House said signing statements are not intended to allow the administration to ignore the law.
“A great many of those signing statements may have little statements about questions about constitutionality,” said White House spokesman Tony Snow. “It never says, ‘We’re not going to enact the law.'”