Saturday, February 18, 2006

Bad Bad Newspaper

At least shrub's control of the media hasn't gone this far...yet.
The government of the southern Russian city of Volgograd is shutting down a newspaper that published a cartoon portraying Jesus, Moses, Buddha and the Prophet Mohammed condemning racism, the municipal administration said yesterday.

The mayor said his order to close the City News paper was intended ``to prevent incitement of enmity on religious national and social grounds, and also to stop the abuse of media freedom,'' according to an administration statement.


The government ordered officials to liquidate the paper within a month.

Got to control that abuse of media freedom. It can get nasty. Now I understand why the Washington press corps fears shrub. They know he's capable of this sort of thing.

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Iran and Nuclear Energy

Maybe there is a peaceful way out of this standoff between the West and Iran.
Iran is ready to ask its parliament to ratify an accord allowing UN inspectors to resume snap checks of its nuclear facilities on certain conditions, Iran's embassy in Paris said on Friday.


The embassy statement linked the new offer to the West accepting its use of "modern centrifuges", proposed by some US and British scientists, which permit only limited enrichment.

"If such guarantees were accepted, Iran would agree to submit to parliament for ratification the additional protocol," it said.

Sounds like Iran is offering an olive branch.

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Yeah, $75 m Should Cover It

Falling back into the corporate mindset favoured by Washington, shrub and condi want to throw $75 million at the "Iranian problem" to try to destablise the government. However, it looks like they are as blind to reality in Iran as they were in Iraq.
TEHRAN - Washington's latest policy of putting more pressure on Iran through securing additional funding for "democracy-promoting" activities inside Iran has been greeted with official and popular rejection, even open derision, in Tehran.

"I think the Americans have no idea of what they're talking about," said Mamak Nourbaksh, a teacher of English literature. "No one is going to touch them [the funds], no one will work with them."

That last sentence may not be so true. There is one group who would eagerly take the funds, the Mujahideen-e-Khalq (MEK), a Marxist-Islamist organization.
The MEK has been registered by the State Department as a terrorist organization for the past 10 years, but now neo-conservative factions of the Bush administration are lobbying hard to remove it from the list.

Oh, did I forget to mention the MEK are hated in Iran because they sided with Iran during the Iran-Iraq war?

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First Call for Justice?

This is a scathing attack on shrub by the Church of England.
The Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu, has launched a passionate attack on President George Bush, saying his administration's refusal to close the notorious Guantanamo Bay camp reflected "a society that is heading towards George Orwell's Animal Farm".

Dr Sentamu, the Church of England's second in command, urged the UN Human Rights Commission (UNHRC) to take legal action against the US - through the US courts or the International Court of Justice at The Hague - should it fail to respond to a report, by five UN inspectors, advising that Camp Delta at Guantanamo Bay should be shut immediately because prisoners there are being tortured.

It works sort of like this, redefining your actions doesn't hide the fact you're breaking international and moral laws. A rose by any other name... Only we're not talking roses here. The odour is much more foul.

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Friday, February 17, 2006

Charity Starts at Home?

Sometimes I feel so lonely. Am I the only one bothered because condi is asking for $75 million for Iraq and some of it will be used to help Iraqi students study abroad? At the same time shrub is cutting student loans to American students?

OK, I'm lazy. Find the links to these facts for yourself. Sorry. I'll try to do better.

If you find the info, let me know and I'll update with your links.

(Update) Found a quote and link at Forbes.
The money, to be included in a supplemental 2006 budget request the White House is expected to send to Congress as early as this week, will be used for radio and satellite television broadcasting and for programs to help Iranians study abroad, said the officials, speaking on condition of anonymity because Rice had not yet announced the request.

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(update) And this from the Chicago Tribune.
Bush also wants to cut spending on "discretionary" programs—those other than entitlements—outside of defense, such as $3.5 billion in education cuts that include a limit on federally guaranteed student loans.

We Be Watching You

Its nice for shrub to know someone always has his back, but do they all have to behave like deranged weasels?
Is there any aspect of President Bush's miserable record on intelligence that Senator Pat Roberts, chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, is not willing to excuse and help to cover up?


Mr. Roberts had promised to hold a committee vote yesterday on whether to investigate. But he canceled the vote, and then made two astonishing announcements. He said he was working with the White House on amending the 1978 law, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, to permit warrantless spying. And then he suggested that such a change would eliminate the need for an inquiry.

Emphasis mine. Simple really. If shrub broke the law (he did) and he will continue to do so (he will), let's just change the law and sort of make it retroactive by ignoring the fact it was in force when shrub began spying on Americans without consulting the courts.

Maybe we've been wrong. Perhaps this administration truly does believe in traditional conservative principles. There's no doubt we'll have a much smaller government if we eliminate the need for the House and Senate and all their staffs along with all those silly courts.

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Clever Words from Congress

The US House is holding hearings on US companies' modifying their software for use in China based on requirements of the Chinese government.
Google, Yahoo, Microsoft and Cisco Systems came under fire at a US House of Representatives hearing on human rights on Wednesday for what a subcommittee chairman called a "sickening collaboration" with the Chinese government that was "decapitating the voice of the dissidents" there.

The statements by the chairman, Representative Christopher Smith, a Republican, opened a much anticipated session aimed at getting an accounting of the companies' dealings in China, and to air criticism that they do business there at the peril of human rights.

Emphasis mine. I can't get my mind around that metaphor. How about you?

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Feeling the Heat

More bad news about global warming. This also comes from NASA. I've blogged about this before here.
Greenland's southern glaciers have accelerated their march to the Atlantic Ocean over the past decade and now contribute more to the global rise in sea levels than previously estimated, researchers say.

Those faster-moving glaciers, along with increased melting, could account for nearly 17 percent of the estimated 2.5mm annual rise in global sea levels, or twice what was previously believed, said Eric Rignot, of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.

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Dick's Driving Again!

This photo via They took away his gun, but not his Hummer. Just stay out of his way folks.

And He Shoots People Too

How much power does Dick Cheney need? He now claims he has presidential authority to declassify state secrets. Thus it isn't against the law for him to "out" a CIA NOC. Must make all the other CIA agents sleep soundly at night.

Vice President Dick Cheney said Wednesday that an executive order gives him the authority to declassify secret documents, but he would not say whether he authorized an indicted former aide to release classified information.

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Thursday, February 16, 2006

They Eat Their Own

Suddenly it seems repugs are turning on the administration. Unfortunately, the repugs are identifying "fair game" and most Dems are ignoring the invitations to attack.
The Republicans said Cheney should have immediately disclosed the shooting Saturday night to avoid even the suggestion of a coverup and should have offered a public apology for his role in accidentally shooting Harry Whittington, a GOP lawyer from Austin.

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Republican senators have criticised the Bush administration over its policies in Iraq, Iran and the Palestinian territories.

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The Republican and Democratic leaders of a Senate committee have chastised Michael Chertoff, director of Homeland Security, as a congressional inquiry found thousands of Hurricane Katrina's victims could have been spared.

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(update) And now George Will.

“But, then, perhaps no future president will ask for such congressional involvement in the gravest decision government makes -- going to war. Why would future presidents ask, if the present administration successfully asserts its current doctrine"?...

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Able Danger is Back

A secret Pentagon unit had Mohammed Atta, the 9/11 ringleader, in its crosshairs 13 times before the 2001 attacks, a US congressman has claimed citing the unit's records.

Curt Weldon, a Republican representative, said on Tuesday data produced by the US military intelligence unit code-named Able Danger showed Atta's name 13 times.

Unfortunately, this information wasn't given to the FBI because efforts to do so were blocked by shrub administration lawyers.
"At least one additional witness has come forward who just retired from one of the intelligence agencies who will also testify under oath that he was well-aware of, and identified, Mohammed Atta's both name and photo prior to 9/11 occurring."

I'm no expert in these, or any other, things, but it seems this all reeks of malfeasance at least or criminal neglect.

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Permantent Bases in Iraq

In the run-up to the mid-term elections, keep this in mind when you hear lawmakers make claims of drawdowns or troop withdrawls. The plan is to never leave. We are building substantial, permanent bases there.

These bases do at least three things. 1) Ensure we don't have to leave our, sorry the Iraqi, oil behind. 2) Provide instant access to Iran. 3) Guarantee the war on terrorism will never stop. But you won't hear about this in the US media. The story goes on to say reporters are told not to use the works "permanent", "bases" and "Iraq" in the same story. Hahaha, I got all three into my title. Thankfully, shrub doesn't control all the media in the world.

Recently, Oliver Poole, a British reporter, visited another of the US "super-bases", the still-under-construction al-Asad Airbase. He observes of "the biggest marine camp in western Anbar province" that "this stretch of desert increasingly resembles a slice of US suburbia". In addition to the requisite Subway and pizza outlets, there is a football field, a Hertz rent-a-car office, a swimming pool and a movie theater showing the latest flicks. Al-Asad is so large - such bases may cover 40-50 square kilometers - that it has two bus routes and, if not traffic lights, at least red stop signs at all intersections.

There are at least four such "super-bases" in Iraq, none of which have anything to do with "withdrawal" from that country. Quite the contrary, these bases are being constructed as little American islands of eternal order in an anarchic sea. Whatever top administration officials and military commanders say - and they always deny that the US seeks "permanent" bases in Iraq - facts on the ground speak with another voice entirely. These bases practically scream "permanency".

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Sunday, February 12, 2006

You Too Can Be a Reporter

Let's see. A story should cover these imortant points, usually.

An anonymouse White House source
A terrorist sympathizer
A partisan Democrat
An innocent Republican, accused of a crime
A missing girl in Aruba

Provided mitigating circumstances for administration actions
Gave comfort to our enemies by saying, "..."
Said, "..." in an attempt to ridicule or embarass the administration
Agrees to fully cooperate in the investigation
Is still missing and there are no leads

2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 1776
This week
In a recent press interview
As of today

The White House
At a fund raiser
At a Meeting of partisan supporters
Before a special prosecutor
Duh, Aruba?

Now this one is too much. I covered
four things already. That should be enough.