Saturday, December 02, 2006

Killing The Internets Tubes

Folks, we're under attack. Not by al-Qaeda or Bush, but from many directions. Get upset and fight all this shit.
Yesterday, I blogged about Fox sending out bogus copyright takedown notices to websites that linked to material that they said infringed their copyright. There's no established law that says that linking to infringing material is itself infringing, but that doesn't stop Fox from just making up whatever copyright laws it wants and enforcing them through harassing, fraudulent letters.

There's more harm to this than the direct harm to individuals who post links that Fox doesn't like. Even worse is the chilling effect on people who write the Web, the fear that they're going to come under a legal hammer unless they validate the copyright status of every link they make (imagine if Google held itself to this standard! No Blogger, no search-results, no Google Groups).

Some Wikipedia editors have now taken the position that all links to YouTube clips and any other material whose copyright status can't be validated (that is, practically every single page on the Internet) should be ripped out of Wikipedia. That means that an entry about Stephen Colbert couldn't link to fair-use excerpts of his White House Press Corps speech; that an entry about the Katrina disaster couldn't link to eyewitness videos, and so on. Link (Thanks, Adam!)

With illegal monitoring of the internets traffic, internet neutrality and now this, Its getting totally out of hand and has to be stopped.

The fact is, the internets are the most freeing technology ever to come around. In an instant one can communicate with many around the world and tell them what is really happening and governments and corporations don't like that. They lose control of you and they will do all they can to stop you.

(read more)

GSA Chief Seeks to Cut Budget For Audits - Contract Oversight Would Be Reduced

Enough to make your skin crawl. Bushco has to watch out for the corporations. Fuck the American public. How could such an immoral ass be in charge?
The new chief of the U.S. General Services Administration is trying to limit the ability of the agency's inspector general to audit contracts for fraud or waste and has said oversight efforts are intimidating the workforce, according to government documents and interviews.

We've only lost 9 billion (earlier post) and have no idea where it went, but we don't need to actually monitor spending.

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Security Of Electronic Voting Is Condemned

This from WaPo.
Paperless electronic voting machines used throughout the Washington region and much of the country "cannot be made secure," according to draft recommendations issued this week by a federal agency that advises the U.S. Election Assistance Commission.

The assessment by the National Institute of Standards and Technology, one of the government's premier research centers, is the most sweeping condemnation of such voting systems by a federal agency.

In a report hailed by critics of electronic voting, NIST said that voting systems should allow election officials to recount ballots independently from a voting machine's software. The recommendations endorse "optical-scan" systems in which voters mark paper ballots that are read by a computer and electronic systems that print a paper summary of each ballot, which voters review and elections officials save for recounts.

Case closed, K?

The War On Christmas

Thank gawd someone is helping us conduct this war. I was worried we were in this thing alone, but no...
A beer distributor says Maine is being a Scrooge by barring it from selling a beer with a label depicting Santa Claus enjoying a pint of brew.

In a complaint filed in federal court, Shelton Brothers accuses the Maine Bureau of Liquor Enforcement of censorship for denying applications for labels for Santa's Butt Winter Porter and two other beers it wants to sell in Maine.

The dispute recalls a similar squabble last year when Connecticut told Shelton Brothers it had problems with its Seriously Bad Elf ale.

"Last year it was elves. This year it's Santa. Maybe next year it'll be reindeer," said Daniel Shelton, owner of the company in Belchertown, Mass.

BTW, I don't think that's the actual picture shown on the beer label.

(read more)

Feeling Secure? Well Don't #13

Need papers to enter the US illegally? No problem. Don't go to some sleazy character, just come to your friendly DHS official.
A federal immigration official pleaded guilty Thursday to receiving more than $600,000 in bribes for falsifying documents for illegal immigrants.

Robert Schofield, 57, could face 25 years in federal prison when he is sentenced in February.

He pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in Alexandria, Virginia, to issuing fraudulent documents to at least 184 illegal immigrants who falsely received U.S. citizenship.

Schofield, a former supervisor for the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service, was arrested in June.

Oh yeah, that fence is gonna make a big difference.

(read more)

Must Read IMHO

You won't read this stuff in the MSM in America. Americans don't want to be told about their country's decline, so they aren't.
With the US government firmly on the back foot in Iraq and President George W Bush rendered a lame duck by a Democratic Congress, the end of the American century is approaching rather faster than previously expected. [1] My characterization of the United States as Garfield may have been too gentle in the context of what is likely to happen going forward, when the cat becomes feral. The death of any superpower usually carries with it a combination of military and economic defeats and, as with the Soviet Union's demise in the 1990s, America's decline will prove equally cruel.

1. Garfield with guns, Asia Times Online, September 2.

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Sure Its Invasive, But Is It Also Dangerous?

I've seen several articles about the backscatter x-ray technology, but have yet to see anyone discuss the possibility of the danger of too many such x-rays in any given year. I would think frequent flyers, especially ones with implanted metal, might go through such screening too often to be safe.
Post-September 11, airline travel security has invoked the increased use of technology and better training of security personnel as a means of improving travel security. Some of these proposals, such as improved training for airport screeners, checking all bags for bombs, strengthening cockpit doors, and placing air marshals on flights, do not implicate privacy interests and are sound security measures. Others, however, present privacy and security risks to air travelers because they might create data files directly linked to the identity of air travelers. These files if retained could provide the basis for a database of air traveler profiles.


Recently plans were announced by the Transportation Security Administration to propose the trial use of backscatter x-ray for passenger screening at several U.S. airports. EPIC will make available on this page aviation security and privacy —related documents it obtains from the government under the Freedom of Information Act law about the adoption of "backscatter" x-ray technology intended for use in screening air travelers.

Ten Media Fallacies about Iraq

Feel free to add your own. I'm sure this is not a complete list at all. I'll get you started: Number 11. They hate our freedoms.
While the news media have finally started to grapple with the colossal amount of killing, a number of misunderstandings persist. Some are willful deceptions. Let's look at a few of them:

1. The U.S. is a buffer against more violence.

2. The killers do it to influence U.S. politics.

3. The "Lancet" numbers are bogus.

4. Syria and Iran are behind the violence.

5. The "Go Big" strategy of the Pentagon could work.

6. Foreign fighters, especially jihadis, are fueling the violence.

7. If we do not defeat the violent actors there, they will follow us here.

8. The violence is about Sunni-Shia mutual loathing; a pox on both their houses.

9. The war is an Iraqi affair, and the best we can do now is train them to enforce security.

10. Trust the same people who caused or endorsed the war to tell us what to do next.

(read more)

I love Big Shot Bob In Texas. The Blog, I'm Talking About A Blog Here

Anyway, in spite of my love for his site, it will take many days before I can forgive him for forcing me to keep seeing that picture. I wretch and it hurts my stomach and if I'm lucky I don't vomit.

Thanx Bob.

OMG!!!1!! Now I've done it to you too. Sorry. Let me know if you feel sick and I'll substitute another picture. A nice one.

If You Don't Have To Deal With Them

Ice storms can be cool (intentional pun) and beautiful.

Picture at Jonco.

I Cringely Is Required Reading, K?

The guy posts one (often long) post weekly, but each is a must read IMHO. An example that affects many of you.
The trend continued so my friend, who has long been in the networking business, himself, started running experiments. He sent messages from other accounts to his Earthlink address, to his aliased Blackberry address, and to his Gmail account. For every 10 messages sent, 1-2 arrived in his Earthlink mailbox, 1-2 (not necessarily the SAME 1-2) on his Blackberry, and all 10 arrived with Gmail.

Swimming upstream through Earthlink customer support, my buddy finally found a technical contact who freely acknowledged the problem. Since June, he was told, Earthlink's mail system has been so overloaded that some users have been missing up to 90 percent of their incoming e-mail. It isn't bounced back to senders; it just disappears. And Earthlink hasn't mentioned the problem to these affected customers unless they complain. The two groups affected are those who get their mail with an Earthlink-hosted domain and those with aliased e-mail addresses like my friend's Blackberry.

What the fuck? They can't handle the traffic so they just trash it? Is that the sort of service anyone signed up for? As Cringely asks: What about those whose livelihoods depend on emails? They have no idea how many clients can't reach them.

Do I need to suggest you dump Earthlink if you use them? Just asking.

(read more)

Ah, Thailand

This comes as no surprise at all.
Here in Pattaya, it has been a virtual police state ever since the coup. After the running gun battles in the streets between Thaksin loyalilsts [sic] and the Coup supporters (you can tell them apart by their blue or red vests advertising various gay bars on the back)...

Is it not an interesting world on which we're trapped?

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Its 10.49, Do You Know Where Your Money Is Going?

Reading Helen Thomas I was struck by the highlighted words.
Don't expect any dramatic recommendations from the Iraq Study Group led by Baker and former Rep. Lee Hamilton, D-Ind. The nine men and one woman on the panel are cautious Washington insiders who got picked for the job because of their don't-rock-the-boat reputations. After all, they might want to get asked again, sometime in the future, to serve on another White House commission.

Gonna ask a rill dumb question. Why? Is it for power, influence a sense of duty or is it money? My rill question: Do we pay such "study groups" and if so, how much?

I always thought the US government had "study-types" on payroll like the CIA, State Department, Pentagon. Why in hell do they need to hire outsiders if not for PR? Just asking.

Oh yeah, won't make a difference. Bush will do whatever his pea-brain thinks is best.

Something You Should Know

Its funny how much ink is wasted in newspapers to tell readers what might happen as opposed to what has. I agree with Eli completely on this.

Now don't get me wrong. I love the diversion of Taro, astrology and fortune tellers. They're fun. I even have Taro cards and crystal balls [yep, pun intended], but I don't write for the New York Times and wouldn't engage in crazy speculation if I did. That's what my blog is for.

BTW, don't take the first elevator tomorrow. Trust me.


Beware of anyone saying "all" instead of "most" regardless of political stripe. I think all Americans should agree invading Iraq was a mistake, but they don't.
Appearing on the CBS News Program Face the Nation, Senator elect Bob Corker (R) TN said last Sunday that "all Americans want to see us change our strategy in Iraq", while Senator elect Claire McCaskill (D) MO said "All of us know that we have made a terrible mistake in Iraq."

Both of these Senators-to-be used the word “all” in describing public opinion. That’s usually a danger sign. All Americans rarely agree on anything. In particular, the percentage of Americans who agree that there needs to be a change in strategy in Iraq, or who say that the U.S. made a mistake in Iraq, is far from unanimous. At the moment, about forty percent of Americans, in fact, say that the U.S. should continue with its current strategy in Iraq (albeit it for most with a change in tactics). About forty percent say that involvement of the U.S. in Iraq was not a mistake.

(read more)

Gallup Launches Worldwide Corruption Index

Or, a handy list of just where you might want to apply bribery as a negotiating tool. Of course, though bribes may be common and useful, some countries will execute you if they catch you so you might want to be careful. My rule of thumb, don't offer. They will ask if only in a very subtle way.

No synopsis, just the results.

Ok, a little snippet. Though many countries tied for their rank, at least the US came in at 19th. A couple surprises to me were Japan at 30th and Israel at 84th.

On The Al-Maliki-Bush Meeting

This is not only a "quote of the day" item, but ridiculously dead-on accurate.
Told by a reporter later in the day about the meeting’s outcome, Ms. Nabhani, a 34-year-old [Iraqi] homemaker, scoffed: “Is that all? Was that even worth the fuel consumed by their airplanes?”

Numbers? We've Got Yer Number Right Here

Just another little wrinkle you might not be aware of in the War on America™.
The only question is whether the Bush Administration has put me on a terrorist watch list, or what my risk assessment number is. Because anyone who travels outside the U.S. has one:

Without notifying the public, federal agents for the past four years have assigned millions of international travelers, including Americans, computer-generated scores rating the risk they pose of being terrorists or criminals.

The travelers are not allowed to see or directly challenge these risk assessments, which the government intends to keep on file for 40 years.

The scores are assigned to people entering and leaving the United States after computers assess their travel records, including where they are from, how they paid for tickets, their motor vehicle records, past one-way travel, seating preference and what kind of meal they ordered.

Read more over at Brilliant at Breakfast. And she has links. No, not those kinda links.

PS: Sausage links are not halal whereas Jill's are.

Massive protest swamps Beirut

Well, the protest went pretty much as planned in Lebanon.
In a massive show of force, Lebanon’s protestors loyal to Hezbollah and its political allies poured into the streets of downtown Beirut by the hundreds of thousands, dwarfing last weeks show of support for the government and delivering a sweeping rebuke to Lebanon’s political establishment.

The streets, squares and bridges of several neighborhoods were a sea of red and white Lebanese flags as supporters of the Shi’ite groups Hezbollah and Amal, as well as the Christian groups Marida and the Free Patriotic Movement, took to the streets in an attempt to topple the U.S.-backed government.

“The real problem with this government is that they did not stand with us during the war,” said Muhammad Obaid, 40, a Hezbollah supporter, echoing a common complaint of the opposition, which is also called the March 8 coalition.

But so far (as of 20 minutes ago) the protest hasn't toppled the government.
Supporters of Lebanon's Hezbollah-led opposition camped out in central Beirut on Saturday on the second day of protests to demand the resignation of the U.S.-backed government.

Protesters pitched tents near central Beirut's Martyrs' Square and on streets leading to the government's headquarters, where hundreds of thousands of opposition supporters rallied on Friday to demand the government quit.

Hezbollah, a Shi'ite Muslim group backed by Syria and Shi'ite Iran, wants to topple what it calls a U.S. government in Lebanon. The anti-Syrian politicians who dominate cabinet say the opposition are attempting a coup.

(read more)

Cat Blogging

You keep looking because, as with Pavlov's dog, you never know if it really will be a cat, right?

Well-known GOP activist held in sex-predator sting

Ya think this is a Dem? WRONG!
Larry Corrigan, a well-known activist in local Republican politics as a backer of U.S. Rep. Dave Reichert and King County Prosecuting Attorney Norm Maleng, was arrested Wednesday in an Internet sting for allegedly trying to arrange sex with a 13-year-old girl.

Corrigan was the director of financial operations at the prosecutor's office for more than 25 years and was deputy treasurer in Reichert's 1997 and 2001 runs for King County sheriff. He was also a supporter without an official role in Reichert's congressional campaigns.

According to the Seattle Police Department, Corrigan, 54, of Seattle, was chatting online with an undercover police officer who was posing as a 13-year-old girl when he agreed to meet the minor at a Capitol Hill video store on Broadway for sex.

He was booked into King County Jail around 1:30 p.m. Wednesday for investigation of the attempted rape of a child and communicating with a minor for immoral purposes.

It seems to be a more GOP type thingie.

(read more)

Hey, I Need Your Help

I am 394 visitors short of 10,000. Did you catch that? Ten fucking thousand!!!1!! Before I started blogging, I didn't know 10,000 people and only knew 2 I liked. So this is a huge step in my therapy.

So I'm calling on all my readers, well my 3 regulars, to spread the word. Visit SPIIDERWEB™ and win fantastic prizes. Want a new BMW? How about your own Pacific island? An 8-piece place setting of plastic dishes? Hey, we've got all of 'em.

Ok, I admit I lied about the prizes, but I'm entitled because our president lies all the time.

Too Funny

I sometimes check to see where from I was referred. Often its from a search for key words.

Ok, now some people search for Jesus Christ. Surprise! I post about Jesus Christ quite often, but not in a manner these people are looking for I would guess.

How about Jesus H Christ on a barstool, Jesus H Christ on methanphetamines, Jesus H Crist on spring break. Nah. I'm pretty sure those were not the posts the searcher was looking for, but that's what showed up.

Still, being a hit whore, a hit is a hit. Muahahaha.

Friday, December 01, 2006

But The Economy Is Strong, Right?

Frantic trading as fears of US housing meltdown grow Britons will head across Atlantic for bargains.

That doesn't sound good. What's going on here?
The dollar continued its seemingly unstoppable decline o­n the foreign exchanges yesterday, hitting a 14-year low at just below $1.97 to the pound as analysts predicted the two-dollar pound mark may soon be breached.

The dollar was last this low against the pound in September 1992, when Britain was forced out of the European Exchange Rate Mechanism, the euro's forerunner.

The news is likely to further boost airline bookings from bargain-hungry Britons rushing off to the United States for a pre-Christmas shopping bonanza.

The greenback fell more than 1%, or nearly 2.5 cents, in frantic trading in the world's dealing rooms after investors were panicked in particular by a key survey showing business activity for November in the US midwest contracted for the first time in three and a half years. The market had been expecting modest growth.

Good thing paper has other uses besides buying things.

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Pretty Loose Definition There, Isn't It Bush?

Republicans to lose their Bible-study room in the Capitol

If studying the Bible is what led Republican Christianists to not be able to pass a budget (leaving Democrats to clean up the mess), not rein in Bush’s illegal and unconstitutional warrantless wiretapping program (leaving Democrats to clean up the mess), and not be able to do one damn thing about the Iraq Clusterfuck (leaving Democrats to clean up the mess), then less Bible study, please, say I. The Hill:

Rep. Sam Johnson (R-Texas) expressed astonishment during a recent meeting of conservative lawmakers that Republicans would soon lose the room where members hold their regular Bible study, an aide present said.

All together now:


NOTE Silly Democrats! Don’t they realize that Republicans are entitled?

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Must Read IMHO

A fine article. A snippet:
After 7 months of besieging Tyre, the legendary Greek King Alexander the Great built a bridge to connect the insolent island with land. He stormed the high walls with newly invented war machinery and killed every person in the city (333 BC). He provided future foreign conquerors with an important lesson: in the Middle East you have to kill everyone or they will battle with you till the end of time.

The crusaders remembered that lesson when they captured Jerusalem in 1099; they killed all of its Muslim and Jewish inhabitants. In 1258 the barbaric Mongol King Holako stormed Baghdad and burnt it to the ground. President George Bush conquered Baghdad in 2003 but left most of its people alive. He was a kind invader who gave people a choice: convert to a new religion called democracy or be killed. Most of them did not convert and they persisted in their old creed. He is now reaching a fork in the road and it is befitting that he went to Jordan this week to seek the inspiration of the gods for a new direction.

The Middle East has been and will always be the cross roads of all human conflicts. A more optimistic term is usually used when referring to the Middle East as the cross-roads of all civilizations. It is the birthplace of human civilization and human misery. History has shown that any nation that wants to be on top must be in control of Jerusalem. When the British controlled the world Jerusalem was under their yoke. Before them, the Ottoman Turks possessed Jerusalem and they controlled half of Asia and Europe. We can keep going back in history to the Muslim Arabs and before them the Romans and before them the Persians and before them the Greeks. Every great empire is lured to its demise in the Middle East.


At this highly inflamed juncture in the Middle East, if Bush and Olmert are not prepared to do what Holako had done then they better sit down with their enemies and work out their differences, sooner rather than later. Delaying the inevitable will make the loss that much greater for the American people who never asked for a hundred year war with Arabs and Muslims. Staying the course to get “the job” done that was laid out, yet again, by Bush after his summit meeting with Al-Maliki, leads straight through the gates of hell.

Friday at 3 p.m. is the "Zero Hour"

And now we come to the next powder keg in the Mid-East. Don't ya just love how well things are going there since Bush took office?

[Update below]

Hezbollah secretary-general Hassan Nasrallah has announced that Friday at 3 p.m. (conveniently after Friday prayers) would be the “zero hour” that his supporters and political allies would take to the streets to force the resignation of the current Lebanese government.

The so-called March 8 movement, which takes its name from the massive March 8, 2005 demonstration that was to “thank” Syria for its 29-year occupation of Lebanon, is dominated by Hezbollah, the Shi’ite militant group that fought Israel to a standstill the summer. Because of its “divine victory,” as Hezbollah called it, and what Nasrallah says was insufficient fealty to the group’s war on the part of Fuad Siniora and the Lebanese government, Hezbollah, Amal and the largely Christian Free Patriotic Movement were demanding veto power in the cabinet. (It’s widely assumed that the March 8 movement, which is supportive of Syria, is trying to derail the U.N. tribunal set up to try suspects in the case of the murder of ex-premier Rafik Hariri, in which Syria is suspected. Veto power in the cabinet would grant them this power.)

They didn’t get the expanded number of seats in the cabinet, as there’s already been an election and there won’t be another one for parliament until 2009, so now they’re taking to the streets to topple the government, which they say is exercising their “democratic rights.”


Siniora’s government would handily survive a no-confidence vote because March 14 won the elections that year. The March 8 group is in the minority and calls itself the opposition.

Hezbollah & Co. are, instead, taking to the streets, warning government workers not to go to work and generally threatening to bring Lebanon’s government and economy to a crashing halt if they don’t get their way.

That’s not democracy. Most people would call that a coup d’état.


When I was down in Ait al-Chaab, on the Israel border shortly after the war, I met a Hezbollah party member who declined to give his name, but he said, “Those who can defend Lebanon deserve to rule it.” It was chilling the way he said it.

(read more) Its long, but well worth the read.

Update: It is currently 2.58 am on Friday in Beirut. So 12 more hours before the festivities begin.

Iraqis plan to take over security in '07

So it seems they were serving Kool-aid® in Jordon and Nouri "the puppet" al-Maliki is now firmly ensconced inside the Bush bubble and left the world of reality. Sure, he's gonna disarm Muqtada "the force" al-Sadr's militia of 60,000± soldiers and get the country under control by June '07.

And that militia of 60,000± troops? That's not counting the ones we don't know about because they've infiltrated the state police and Iraqi military.
Iraq - Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki said Thursday he believed Iraqi forces would be ready by June 2007 to take full control of security in Iraq, an issue on which he pressed President Bush during their meeting in Amman, Jordan.

In making the argument that his military and police could handle security in the country, al-Maliki has routinely said the force could do the job within six months.

"I can say that Iraqi forces will be ready, fully ready to receive this command and to command its own forces, and I can tell you that by next June our forces will be ready," al-Maliki said in an interview with ABC News.

Bush and al-Maliki agreed that the United States would speed efforts to turn security over the Iraqi forces, although they mentioned no timetable during a post-summit news conference.

Al-Maliki also said he rejects all Iraq's militias, including the Madhi Army of the powerful, anti-American Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, who is a key ally of the Shiite prime minister. Despite such promises in the past, al-Maliki has frustrated the Bush administration by doing little to curb militias, which have been heavily involved in Iraq's spiraling sectarian violence in city's such as Baghdad.

Aren't people this delusional usually, like, taken to a hospital and observed by trained professionals? Just asking.

(read more)

Shutup Already. Its A Civil War, K?

Probably my last post on this topic. I sure hope it is.
What’s the definition of a civil war? According this article in the New York Times [you can't get there], the "scholarly" definition of a civil war has 2 main criteria:

The first says that the warring groups must be from the same country and fighting for control of the political center, control over a separatist state or to force a major change in policy. The second says that at least 1,000 people must have been killed in total, with at least 100 from each side.

I think everyone can agree Iraq meets these criteria. So shut yer pie hole.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Bush Is Always Right

You expected change. Silly rabbit.
You could be forgiven for thinking there was something big in the works. President Bush is holding a three-way summit in the Middle East. Washington’s political insiders are swapping leaks about forthcoming studies on Iraq. Even the network news anchors are flying halfway across the world.

So the White House is ready to change course in Iraq, right?

Not quite. The president and his senior staff arrived in Amman, Jordan, on Wednesday with a deep sense of discontent about the direction of Iraq. But that doesn’t translate into a major course correction, no matter what the pundits—or the Democrats, or James Baker’s study group—suggest. Somewhere between Stay the Course and Reverse Course lies Bush’s new approach. Call it Adjust the Course.

(read more)

12 sites in U.K. show radioactive traces

This story just gets bigger and bigger. Dirty bombs? Worry about this stuff if you need something to fret over.
Traces of radiation have been found at a dozen sites in Britain and five jets were being investigated for possible contamination as authorities widened their investigation into the poisoning of a former Russian spy, the country's top law enforcement official told Parliament on Thursday.

A coroner formally opened an inquest into the poisoning of Alexander Litvinenko, who died on Nov. 23 after falling ill more than three weeks earlier. It was quickly adjourned so police could continue their investigation, but three pathologists were expected to participate in an autopsy Friday at Royal London Hospital.

High doses of polonium-210 — a rare radioactive element usually made in specialized nuclear facilities — were found in Litvinenko's body after his death. Investigators are now checking places visited by the former KGB agent and others who had contact with him in the weeks before he fell ill on Nov. 1.

Home Secretary John Reid told Parliament that "around 24 venues" have been or are being monitored as part of the investigation, and that experts had confirmed traces of radioactive contamination at "around 12 of these venues." He did not say whether the radioactivity found at the sites was polonium-210.

Reid told lawmakers that officials believed the risk to public health to be low. He said 1,700 calls had been made to the National Health Service, and 69 people were referred to the Health Protection Agency. Of those, 18 who may have been exposed to polonium-210 have been referred to specialist clinics, but all urine tests so far have been negative, he said.

BA (British Airways) has now found traces of radioactive materials on 6 airplanes [sorry, but lost link]. At first it was 2 aircraft, then 3 and now 6. But nothing I've seen identifies the radioactive traces as polonium-210...for now.

Ahh. Poor Poodle

This is fairly revealing in that Bush treats everyone as though they are his subjects. How in hell can such an ass think he is king? Why does he believe everyone is his inferior?

Truth is, I would rate 90% of the people I've met in my life as Bush's superiors in intelligence, inquisitiveness, vision, mangement skills, diction, reading ability, did I mention intelligence?
Senior State Department analyst Kendall Myers called Tony Blair’s relationship with President Bush “totally one-sided.” Myers said “we typically ignore them and take no notice - it’s a sad business,” and he admitted feeling “a little ashamed” of the way Bush has treated Blair.

At lest someone in Bushco has a sense of compassion. No, he won't do anything about it because that would, like, ya know, piss of dim son, but he feels for Blair. Its a start.

(read more)

Democrats Reject Key 9/11 Panel Suggestion

Well this just really sucks. Great way to start Dems. Damn!
It was a solemn pledge, repeated by Democratic leaders and candidates over and over: If elected to the majority in Congress, Democrats would implement all of the recommendations of the bipartisan commission that examined the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

But with control of Congress now secured, Democratic leaders have decided for now against implementing the one measure that would affect them most directly: a wholesale reorganization of Congress to improve oversight and funding of the nation's intelligence agencies. Instead, Democratic leaders may create a panel to look at the issue and produce recommendations, according to congressional aides and lawmakers.

Because plans for implementing the commission's recommendations are still fluid, Democratic officials would not speak for the record. But aides on the House and Senate appropriations, armed services and intelligence committees confirmed this week that a reorganization of Congress would not be part of the package of homeland-security changes up for passage in the "first 100 hours" of the Democratic Congress.

"I don't think that suggestion is going anywhere," said Rep. C.W. Bill Young (R-Fla.), the chairman of the Appropriations defense subcommittee and a close ally of the incoming subcommittee chairman, Rep. John P. Murtha (D-Pa.). "That is not going to be their party position."

Don't make absolute statements you aren't gonna follow up on. You want to look like a bunch of liars like Bushco? Fucking do what you said you would. Do what the electorate voted for you to do.

Is that the sound of bouncing Dem balls I hear? Just asking.

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War On Somalia

Theater everywhere. There seems no end to all the acts being played out around the world.
The UN Security Council, and all member States, should maintain the arms embargo imposed on Somalia, against the USA Administration's resolution requesting its lifting.

It is now clear that the current USA Administration has finally decided to wage a proxy war of aggression against one of the poorest countries of the world, Somalia, with Ethiopia, Uganda, Kenya and Yemen playing the role of executors.

The Bush Administration would be providing the financing, intelligence and logistics, while, the Baidoa based puppet Transitional Federal Government (TFG) would give the legal cover for the aggression against the people of Somalia.

The request of the USA Administration for the lifting of the arms embargo against Somalia is simply a hostile act aimed at strengthening the puppet TFG and to give the green light to its regional proxies the start of hostilities.

It really isn't, as the author claims, "simply a hostile act aimed at strengthening the puppet TFG...". It is more simple than that. To whit:

Arms sales are important to American arms companies. That's it in a nutshell. Big arms manufacturers need customers. Bush will do what he can to supply those customers.

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Rating The Politicians

There are 3 major players in Iraq and Muqtada al-Sadr far overshadows Maliki and Bush. He obviously knows how the game is played and against such two light weights, its like an elephant taking on a couple ants.
Sadr's group, meanwhile, couched its response as a suspension of participation in — rather than a withdrawal from — the government, allowing for it to return to the fold in exchange for concessions. And despite Washington's chagrin, Maliki will likely seek to restore the Sadrists to his coalition rather than face the collapse of his government. But the reason Washington wants Sadr out is that his group is widely viewed as a key source of sectarian violence. So as long as Maliki is looking over his shoulder in Sadr's direction rather than in Bush's, the prospects for his government enacting a national reconciliation plan that could reverse the trend towards civil war remain grim.

Oh yeah, "reverse the trend towards civil war"? They're already in a civil war.

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Wal-Mart, GOP forsake God, groups say

This is terribly disturbing news.
Some Christian conservative groups say both Wal-Mart and the Republican Party have “forsaken God.” And just as the GOP took a hit in the elections earlier this month, the groups say the retail giant’s lower-than-expected November sales figures are the wages of that sin.

Why are sales below estimates? “It is for the same reason things went south for the Republican Party this past election cycle,” read a statement by the Rev. Flip Benham and Pat McEwan, with Operation Save America and Operation Save Wal-Mart. “Wal-Mart has forsaken God and it has forsaken the people who love Him.”

Just wait until the fundies see the new Wal-Mart icon.

(read more - 4th story down)

Report: Panel to advise U.S. pullback, no timetable

Wasn't this panel made up of politicians? Yeah, I thought so.
The independent, bipartisan panel studying U.S. policy in Iraq has unanimously agreed to a report that will call for a gradual pullback of American combat troops in Iraq but stops short of setting a firm timetable for withdrawal, The New York Times reported on Wednesday.

The commission is to release its conclusions on December 6 in a report that could help guide U.S. President George W. Bush's conduct of the war.

Citing people familiar with the panel's deliberations, the Times said the Iraq Study Group will recommend that Bush make it clear that he will start the troop withdrawal "relatively soon," indicating sometime next year.

That recommendation would be a compromise between calls from some Democrats for a timetable to withdraw U.S. forces and Bush's insistence that forces should remain until the mission to stabilize Iraq was completed.

Recommendations of the panel, which is co-chaired by former Secretary of State James Baker -- a close Bush family friend --and former Democratic congressman Lee Hamilton, will be much harder for Bush to resist than if the group were divided, experts and study group advisers say.

Two things come immediately to mind. Well, 3 actually.

1. Politicians can read the polls and the election results. Just how much influence did the elections have on their consensus? Were they leaning another way before November 7th?

2. I see they agree with me. No timetable should be set by politicians. The military has to get their people and equipment out as safely as possible. Establishing a date certain ties their hands and could result in troop deaths.

3. I've said it before and am saying it again, Bush will probably ignore the Iraq Study Group recommendations if for no other reason than to defy daddy again. If he does follow there advice I'll have to stop making predictions.

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Iraq Is No Quagmire

Quagmire seems to be the word prefered by most lefty bloggers when referring to Iraq and they are just plain wrong. From my life line
Main Entry: quag·mire
Pronunciation: 'kwag-"mI(-&)r, 'kwäg-
Function: noun
1 : soft miry land that shakes or yields under the foot
2 : a difficult, precarious, or entrapping position : PREDICAMENT

That's like referring to bubonic plague as acne or a fourteen car pile-up as a fender bender. Folks this is no "predicament".

Iraq isn't "difficult", its impossible.
Iraq isn't "precarious", its hopeless.
Iraq isn't "entrapping", its a bear trap.

Iraq is an apocalypse, calamity, débâcle, or tragedy, but hardly a "predicament".

May I suggest we all retire "quagmire" for the duration?

Hey, ya like the pretentious use of the word débâcle rather than the pedestrian debacle? I think it adds a certain je ne sais quoi. Oops, more pretention.

They Want Who To Fix This Problem?

Would you remind me again who does the raising of children? Oh yeah, the parents.
One in five American parents believe their kids are spending too much time on the Internet, though most say the online activities haven't affected grades either way.

In a study to be released Wednesday by the University of Southern California, 21 percent of adult Internet users with children believe the kids are online too long, compared with 11 percent in 2000. Still, that's less than the 49 percent who complain their kids watch too much TV.

(read more)

Big Brother Alert: Hollywood Style

This is ludicrous, but probably will pass if lobbied heavily.
The MPAA is lobbying congress to push through a new bill that would make unauthorized home theaters illegal. The group feels that all theaters should be sanctioned, whether they be commercial settings or at home.

MPAA head Dan Glickman says this needs to be regulated before things start getting too far out of control, "We didn't act early enough with the online sharing of our copyrighted content. This time we're not making the same mistake. We have a right to know what's showing in a theater."

The bill would require that any hardware manufactured in the future contain technology that tells the MPAA directly of what is being shown and specific details on the audience. The data would be gathered using various motion sensors and biometric technology.

The MPAA defines a home theater as any home with a television larger than 29" with stereo sound and at least two comfortable chairs, couch, or futon. Anyone with a home theater would need to pay a $50 registration fee with the MPAA or face fines up to $500,000 per movie shown.

(read more)

Controversy over Pentagon's war-spending plan

Oh boy, some more good theater on the way.
The Pentagon is preparing an emergency spending proposal that could be larger and broader than any since the Sept. 11 attacks, covering not only the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan but extending to other military operations connected to the Bush administration's war on terrorism.

The spending plans may push the Defense Department into conflict with Democrats as they take control of Capitol Hill in January. Democrats had been planning to limit the emergency "supplemental" spending measures that have funded the wars in favor of the regular federal budget process, which affords greater oversight and congressional control.

What's this "may push...into conflict". I hope to hell it "will".
The next request stands to be larger partly because of new rules laid out in an Oct. 25 memo from Deputy Defense Secretary Gordon R. England. Rather than strictly limiting spending to Iraq and Afghanistan costs, the memo said the military services could include costs associated with operations that are part of the larger war on terrorism.

Previously, the military portion of the supplemental spending measures has been used almost exclusively for operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. England's memo would allow the military to include a greater number of expenses more loosely tied to the actual wars, such as new military weapons systems and training exercises.

Critics of the Pentagon budget process say the memo has encouraged the services to inflate their requests.

"The England memo basically said, 'Let her rip,' " said Winslow Wheeler, director of the Straus Military Reform Project and a former congressional budget aide. "Anything goes, as long as you can put it under the pretext of not only Iraq or Afghanistan but the global war on terror."

Well, it isn't like its their money or anything. So maybe 'Let her rip' is an appropriate budgeting technique.

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Cut and Run, the Only Brave Thing to Do ...a letter from Michael Moore

Very good. I recommend you read it all.

Monday marked the day that we had been in Iraq longer than we were in all of World War II.

That's right. We were able to defeat all of Nazi Germany, Mussolini, and the entire Japanese empire in LESS time than it's taken the world's only superpower to secure the road from the airport to downtown Baghdad.

And we haven't even done THAT. After 1,347 days, in the same time it took us to took us to sweep across North Africa, storm the beaches of Italy, conquer the South Pacific, and liberate all of Western Europe, we cannot, after over 3 and 1/2 years, even take over a single highway and protect ourselves from a homemade device of two tin cans placed in a pothole. No wonder the cab fare from the airport into Baghdad is now running around $35,000 for the 25-minute ride. And that doesn't even include a friggin' helmet.

Is this utter failure the fault of our troops? Hardly. That's because no amount of troops or choppers or democracy shot out of the barrel of a gun is ever going to "win" the war in Iraq. It is a lost war, lost because it never had a right to be won, lost because it was started by men who have never been to war, men who hide behind others sent to fight and die.


There are many ways to liberate a country. Usually the residents of that country rise up and liberate themselves. That's how we did it. You can also do it through nonviolent, mass civil disobedience. That's how India did it. You can get the world to boycott a regime until they are so ostracized they capitulate. That's how South Africa did it. Or you can just wait them out and, sooner or later, the king's legions simply leave (sometimes just because they're too cold). That's how Canada did it.

The one way that DOESN'T work is to invade a country and tell the people, "We are here to liberate you!" -- when they have done NOTHING to liberate themselves. Where were all the suicide bombers when Saddam was oppressing them? Where were the insurgents planting bombs along the roadside as the evildoer Saddam's convoy passed them by? I guess ol' Saddam was a cruel despot -- but not cruel enough for thousands to risk their necks. "Oh no, Mike, they couldn't do that! Saddam would have had them killed!" Really? You don't think King George had any of the colonial insurgents killed? You don't think Patrick Henry or Tom Paine were afraid? That didn't stop them. When tens of thousands aren't willing to shed their own blood to remove a dictator, that should be the first clue that they aren't going to be willing participants when you decide you're going to do the liberating for them.

And I wonder, does that $35,000 taxi ride include the tip?

I stole that picture from Michael.

No More Internets Tubes?

How in hell is this flying under everyone's radar?
A landmark legal case on behalf of the Recording Industry Association of America and other global trade organizations seeks to criminalize all Internet file sharing of any kind as copyright infringement, effectively shutting down the world wide web - and their argument is supported by the U.S. government.


Deep sixing the entire Internet seems a highly unlikely move in that it would probably derail the world economy and put thousands of huge transnational corporations out of business. An outcome more likely to happen if this ruling is accepted is that it would further pave the way for government regulation and tracking of the Internet, namely "Internet 2," a completely controlled, surveilled and autocratic cyber police state similar to the Chinese model, whereby website owners have to obtain government permission to run a blog, be approved by a biometric thumb scan just to turn their computer on, and immediately get their Internet access shut off if they misbehave.

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Dennis Prager Flunks Civics Class

Here's Your Pop-Quiz

This is really too funny. From Jil In Pattaya:
Let me present to you Dennis Prager, currently topping the Stupidest Person On The Internet charts with his new hit, "America, Not Keith Ellison, decides what book a congressman takes his oath on"

Let me give you just a few short sentences, and see if you, Joe (or Joelle) Blogreader have more American civic knowledge than a high 'n mighty famous Conservative Columnist. (Not that the title of the article shouldn't give you your answer forthwith.)

"Keith Ellison, D-Minn., the first Muslim elected to the United States Congress, has announced that he will not take his oath of office on the Bible, but on the bible of Islam, the Koran.

Forgive me, but America should not give a hoot what Keith Ellison's favorite book is. Insofar as a member of Congress taking an oath to serve America and uphold its values is concerned, America is interested in only one book, the Bible. If you are incapable of taking an oath on that book, don't serve in Congress."

Class? Anyone? Can anybody explain why Mr. Prager gets an F in civics?

Iraq's Civil War

This should be the definitive word on said topic:
But as far as the American public is concerned, it’s a no-brainer. A USA TODAY/Gallup poll conducted a couple of months ago found that 72% of Americans agree that Iraq is in a state of civil war. Just 25% said that it was not. It’s reasonable to assume that if anything this perception of Iraq being in a civil war would have increased in the weeks since that poll.

Posted at 11:25 AM/ET, November 29, 2006 in Iraq

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Moqtada al-Sadr has over 60,000 in his militia

Thomas L Friedman

Op-Ed writer for NYT

This really isn't a post so much as a place holder. Sixty thousand now. I want to see what that number becomes in, oh let's see, one Friedman™ *?

(read more)

* One "Friedman Unit™" is 6 months. Named after Thomas L Friedman who almost always says a major change for better or for worse is coming in the next 6 months.

Bush-Maliki Talks Are Postponed

Oh this is rich. Maliki blows off the leader of the free world. My oh my how Bush's influence and reputation have shriveled up entirely.
Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki of Iraq and King Abdullah II of Jordan cancelled a meeting with President Bush at the last minute today, against the backdrop of a radical Shiite cleric’s boycott of the Maliki government and the disclosure of a classified White House memo that was highly critical of Mr. Maliki.

In Amman, there were signs that President Bush would be greeted with a decidedly blunt message.

Mr. Bush and Mr. Maliki are still scheduled to have breakfast together here Thursday morning, and to hold a much-anticipated joint press conference afterward.

But after meeting earlier today, Mr. Maliki and King Abdullah decided that a joint session planned for this evening with Mr. Bush was unnecessary, according to a senior White House official.

“The Jordanians and the Iraqis jointly decided they did not feel it was the best use of time” and notified Zalmay Khalilzad, the United States ambassador to Iraq, said the official, speaking on condition of anonymity. Mr. Khalilzad then called Air Force One to tell Mr. Bush and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who were flying to Amman from Riga, Latvia.

Mr. Bush’s counselor, Dan Bartlett, told reporters that there turned out to be no need for the planned three-way session, since Mr. Maliki and King Abdullah had already met earlier in the day and Mr. Bush and King Abdullah were planning dine together privately later in the evening.

Mr. Bartlett said the cancellation had nothing to do with disclosure of the classified memo, reported in today’s issue of The New York Times. “No one should read too much into this, except for the fact that they had a good meeting,” Mr. Bartlett said, referring to Mr. Maliki and the king.

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U.S. Apologizes to Mistaken Terrorism Suspect

If you have done nothing wrong you have nothing to worry about. Yeah, right.
The U.S. government has agreed to pay $2 million to an Oregon lawyer who was wrongfully arrested as a terrorism suspect because of a bungled fingerprint match and has issued an apology for the "suffering" inflicted on the attorney and his family.

Under the terms of the settlement announced today, Brandon Mayfield of Portland, Ore., will also be able to continue to pursue a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the USA Patriot Act antiterrorism law, which played a role in Mayfield's case.

The monetary payment amounts to an embarrassing admission of wrongdoing by the FBI, which arrested and detained Mayfield as a material witness in May 2004 after FBI examiners wrongly linked him to a portion of a fingerprint found on a bag of detonators during the investigation of the Madrid commuter train bombings.

Subsequent investigations have also found that the FBI compounded its error by failing to adhere to its own rules for handling evidence and by resisting the conclusions of the Spanish National Police, which quickly determined that the fingerprint belonged to someone else.

Mayfield--who was held for two weeks and who was subjected to surveillance and secret searches of his home and office--said in a statement issued by his attorneys that he was threatened with the death penalty while in custody and that he and his family were targeted "because of our Muslim religion."

(read more)

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Can You Say Revolt?

Yeah, I thought you could. This from MyDD.
As with the House and the Senate, Republicans failed to pick up any gubernatorial seats held by Democrats and lost their majority.

I hadn't noticed this. What a slap in the face for the GOP. Amazing.

We Need Weapons

The military-industrial complex is a monster not to be stopped. Not in the US and not in the UK. Perhaps nowhere.
No one noticed. Or if they did, no one complained. The government didn’t even bother to issue a press release. Last week, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) quietly secured a £1.7bn increase in its budget. The spending for 2006-7 was allocated months ago, which means that another fund must have been raided to find the extra money. It’s the equivalent of half the annual budget for the Department for International Development. But another billion or two doesn’t make much difference when we are already sloshing out £32bn a year on a programme whose purpose is a mystery.


But what the audit report failed to answer, or even to ask, was why we need attack submarines, destroyers, Eurofighter aircraft and anti-tank weapons in the first place. Are the Russians coming? Is Angela Merkel preparing to mobilise a few Panzer divisions? It is preposterous to suggest that we face the threat of invasion, now or in the foreseeable future.

Even the MoD acknowledges this. In the white paper it published at the end of 2003, it admits that “there are currently no major conventional military threats to the UK or NATO … it is now clear that we no longer need to retain a capability against the re-emergence of a direct conventional strategic threat” [footnotes omitted]

Just who is looking to attack who? Why is defense spending such a huge portion of most budgets. Yeah, I can see it in Iran, NoKorea, Syria because Bush could attack them at any moment, but the UK? With the poodle in charge, I'm sure they're safe,

(read more)

EPA OKs spraying pesticides over waters

File under: What the fuck?
The Bush administration pleased farmers and frustrated environmentalists Monday by declaring that pesticides can be sprayed into and over waters without first obtaining special permits.

The heavily lobbied decision is supposed to settle a dispute that's roiled federal courts and divided state regulators. It's popular among those who spray pesticides for a living, but it worries those who fear poisoned waters will result.

"We need to act fast to stop mosquitoes when they are found," argued Jim Tassano, a pest-control operator in the California foothills town of Sonora. "Any delay results in adults emerging. It is far cheaper and much more effective to kill them as larvae ... (and) if a permit is required, the costs would skyrocket."

Tassano was one of hundreds to weigh in over the past three years as the Environmental Protection Agency mulled its options. His sentiments were shared by California's Merced and Tulare mosquito control districts, the North Carolina Department of Agriculture and the Washington State Potato Commission.

"Requiring (federal) permitting would unnecessarily disrupt the effectiveness of (pest) control operations and adversely impact hundreds of business [sic]," the South Carolina Aquatic Plant Management Society warned.

Ooohhh. We don't want to impact business.

(read more)

U.S. bans sale of iPods to North Korea

NoKorea is doomed. Bush has found the perfect attack.
The Bush administration wants North Korea's attention, so like a scolding parent it's trying to make it tougher for that country's eccentric leader to buy iPods, plasma televisions and Segway electric scooters.

No. Bush isn't acting like a scolding parent, he's acting like a petulant 5 year old.

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Teh Funny

This from Sunni Sister:
We’ve spread so much democracy and liberty in Iraq that they’ve decided to meet here in Jordan.

Flu Season Has Begun - Time to Get Vaccinated

Think of this as my PSA:
By N.Y. Dem. Rep. Carolyn McCarthy on Healthcare

This week marks National Influenza Vaccination Week. Flu season has already begun, and it is important to get vaccinated if you have not already. Each year, as many as 20% of Americans catch the flu, with the elderly and young children being most at risk.

Flu viruses spread from person to person mainly through coughing and sneezing, but can be spread in other ways. Most adults can pass the flu on to others before symptoms are present, which is why it is important to be vaccinated.

There are two ways you can protect yourself from the flu this season. The traditional flu shot and the newer nasal spray have both been proven effective against the flu. Ask your doctor which method of vaccination is right for you.

While it is important that everyone get vaccinated, certain groups are more at risk of having serious flu complications. Children between the ages of 6 months and 5 years, the elderly and individuals living in long-term care facilities are more at risk of contracting the flu and should be vaccinated before peak flu season in January.

As a nurse, I understand the benefits of being vaccinated. Please consult your physician and schedule a time for your vaccination. You may also visit to find a clinic near you.

Folks, I've been getting such shots for years now and not once contracted the flu. Maybe its my constitution, but I've had absolutely no side affects. Go for it.

Carter: Iraq one of the 'greatest blunders' by any American president

Jimmy Carter doesn't usually criticize his successors, but...
"It's going to prove, I believe, to be one of the greatest blunders that American presidents have ever made," Carter told Wolf Blitzer on 'The Situation Room.'

How does that make ya feel, Bush?

An aside, but how would you feel if you were so criticized by someone who had had your job? Just asking.

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Who's Your Daddy?

Hahaha. You thought Cheney worked for you?
Saudi Arabia is so concerned about the damage that the conflict in Iraq is doing across the region that it basically summoned Vice President Cheney for talks over the weekend, according to U.S. officials and foreign diplomats.

When the sultans of oil say jump, Cheney asks how high. You thought otherwise? Just asking.

(via Carpetbagger Report)

What If the Iraqi Insurgency Ran for Another 5,000 Years?

That's a headline in The Nation.

My question: What makes anyone think it won't?

Must Read IMHO

I love the term Alexander has, apparently, coined: Cirque Du Bush. Except Cirque du Solei which comes to mind just exudes artistry, talent and perfection whereas Bush exudes nothing except failure.
On Monday afternoon Cirque Du Bush and his troupe of clowns claimed that Iraq had entered "a new phase." They didn't say what the "new phase" was, but insisted it wasn't what it really was - a "civil war." By Tuesday morning, however, it didn't matter what Bush's understanding of the "new phase" was or wasn't because by then he'd decided that whatever the "new phase" was, it wasn't a "new phase" at all. One thing that is certain is the fact that even though the Iraq War has lingered on longer than World War Two, the President remains in his usual and permanent state of confusion and delusion.

Cirque Du Bush's fleeting admission that Iraq had entered a "new phase" was nothing more than a brief flirtation with semi-reality. That semi-reality had nearly led Bush and his troupe of clowns to being half-right and, of course, had they "stayed the course" of semi-reality and persisted in being half-right, that would have been twice as right as they'd ever been. And that would have almost been progress.

(read more)


Thank gawd some judges understand what is American.
A federal judge struck down President Bush's authority to designate groups as terrorists, saying his post-Sept. 11 executive order was unconstitutional and vague, according to a ruling released Tuesday.

The Humanitarian Law Project had challenged Bush's order, which blocked all the assets of groups or individuals he named as "specially designated global terrorists" after the 2001 terrorist attacks.

"This law gave the president unfettered authority to create blacklists," said David Cole, a lawyer for the Washington, D.C.-based Center for Constitutional Rights that represented the group. "It was reminiscent of the McCarthy era."

An aside. Why is "President" capitalized and "federal judge" is not? Just asking.

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Another One Bites The Dust

I'm not a real, Target, iTunes person. I like thrift stores, used book shops and record (CD) stores. I like to wander and wonder at all things there. Golden Oldies supplied me with hundreds of CDs. I don't save money, hell I'm more likely to buy a couple books I didn't know I wanted in addition to the one I went in for, if I found it. So this is sad news.
If you are one of those few remaining souls who still gets music the old-fashioned way, and if you live in one of the twenty states home to at least one of Tower Records's eighty-nine American stores, chances are you've heard the news: Tower, the last and largest of the great "brick-and-mortar" record store chains, is going out of business.

Is Virgin next?

BTW, pic is of the original Tower Records shop.

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Kinda Makes Ya Wonder

Was Cheney going to go to Baghdad and chickened out? Entirely plausible.
It wasn't until 6 a.m. on Thanksgiving morning -- more than five hours after the initial reports -- that the unequivocal denials began. Cheney wasn't in Iraq, had no plans to go to Iraq, et cetera and so on. He was spending the holiday at an undisclosed location somewhere in Washington.

In Iraq, meanwhile, and Baghdad in particular, Thanksgiving had turned into a very bad day indeed. U.S. soldiers mistakenly opened fire on a van carrying Iraqi laborers to their jobs in Sadr City, Baghdad's Shiite slum, killing four and wounding eight. In a separate incident, three Marines were killed, bringing to 52 the number of American soldiers to die there in November.

And as Thanksgiving morning progressed, the violence escalated. Mortars and car bombs shook the city, and the rattle of small-arms fire echoed in the streets. The death toll was horrendous, with 216 Iraqis dying in one coordinated series of car bombings alone. The Baghdad airport and the Highway of Death that leads to it were ordered closed as Iraq's feeble military and police forces struggled in vain to stop the savagery their fellow countrymen were inflicting on each other.

For their part, the Americans wisely elected to stay in their barracks and take the day off from trying to referee what has clearly become a civil war.

But you've got to wonder. At what point did reports of the rapidly deteriorating situation on the ground prompt our chickenhawk vice president to tap the pilot of Air Force Two on the shoulder and say, "Turn this thing around. I'm not going down there."

At what point, exactly, did Cheney make the executive decision that a picture of him serving up a plastic turkey -- and some video of him telling the troops on the ground how "we're" going to win this thing -- just wasn't worth the possibility of becoming a casualty in a war he largely started.

This Is Disgusting

And its how the poor Iraqi people, the innocents, have to try to survive. Yeah, I know your commute is tough, but quit bitching.
My husband and I asked our relatives and friends not to visit because they, too, would be regarded as strangers. We kept telling ourselves that this would pass and that things would return to normal.

But things never returned to normal. It seems that nothing ever does.

When the school year ended, the neighborhood grew even more deserted. One day, a carload of gunmen drove by our home and peered into our garage. We'd already endured a wave of killings and kidnappings in the area, so we didn't want to take any chances. We packed up and moved temporarily to my in-laws' home in a safer district.

Two days later, a car bomb exploded on our street. It blew out every window in our home. A chunk of the bomber's car landed in our garage. Shrapnel and dust covered my pretty carpets. And still we returned to our home.

This time, however, we took more precautions. My husband knocked down a wall and built a passageway to my parents' house next door so we'd have an escape route in case we were attacked. We stopped shopping at the neighborhood grocer because we were afraid of drive-by shootings and bombings on the main street.

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The War On Christmas

The costs just keep spiraling. We gotta stop this thing, right?
The cost of "The Twelve Days of Christmas" is on the rise -- again.

Buying each item in the song just once -- from a partridge in a pear tree to a dozen drummers drumming -- will cost you $18,920, or 3.1 percent more than last year, according to PNC Financial Services Group.

The total cost of items gifted by a True Love who repeats all of the song's verses costs more than ever before -- $75,122 -- for all 364 items, up from $72,608 in 2005, a 3.5 percent increase.

"After years of stagnation, wages for skilled workers, including the song's dancers and musicians, have increased as the labor market has tightened," said Jeff Kleintop, chief investment strategist for PNC Wealth Management. "Also, a decline in the housing market has dampened demand for luxury goods, such as gold rings."

While prices for the partridge, two turtle doves, three French hens, six geese and seven swans remained the same as last year, higher wages made the lords a-leaping, ladies dancing and pipers piping costlier.

The nine ladies dancing earned $4,759, 4 percent more, according to Philadanco, the Philadelphia Dance Co. The lords a-leaping got a 3-percent pay raise, while the drummers drumming and pipers piping earned 3.4 percent more.

The maids a-milking, however, weren't as lucky. They make the federal minimum wage, which has been $5.15 per hour since 1997.

Each year, the Pittsburgh-based bank does a tongue-in-cheek tally of how much the swans, geese and drummers would cost if you purchased them at today's prices. PNC has been calculating the cost of Christmas since 1984.

For the price of buying all 364 items, you could get a brand new, fully-loaded special edition Hummer 2 sport utility vehicle, fully-loaded Cadillac XLR two-door roadster, a cruise around the world, a 5-carat diamond ring or top-of-the-line Cartier or Piaget watch.

Trying to find cheaper deals online won't help, either. The 364 items online would cost $125,767, including shipping costs, compared to $123,846 last year. You would spend $30,330 online for each item just once this year.

The nine ladies dancing are the costliest items on the list again, at $4,759. The seven swans a-singing cost $4,200. And a pear tree saw the biggest jump, going from $89.99 in 2005 to $129.99 this year.

The cheapest? As always, the partridge, still $15.

(courtesy link)

Alternative Energy

Ya see its like this, if we want to we can reduce dependency on fossil fuels. We just have to get off our asses and do it.
Starting in 2007, massive, predictable waves off the coast of Oregon will help light homes and businesses along the West Coast, thanks to an entrepreneur named George Taylor. A former surfer who grew up in Australia, Taylor, now 72, studied electrical engineering and spent the past 40 years as a small-business owner in the U.S. His most recent invention is a buoy that can convert a wave's up-and-down motion into electricity, which can be carried ashore by undersea cables and fed into the national power grid.

The buoys are an environmentalist's dream - barely visible from the beach, drawing on an abundant, renewable energy resource, with little or no impact upon marine life and emitting no gases that contribute to global warming. Buttressing Taylor's optimism, researchers at Oregon State University say that only 0.2 percent of the ocean's untapped wave energy could power the entire world. The buoys Taylor plans to install off Oregon in 2007 will generate electricity at rates competitive with that produced by coal - currently the cheapest, most abundant, most commonly used (and dirtiest) source of energy. Future generations of the buoys could conceivably produce power more cheaply than that.

By the year 2010 Taylor plans to have a 100-ton, 37-foot-wide buoy that could generate 500 kilowatts. An array of 40 buoys that size, linked together, could generate electricity at prices significantly less than that of a typical coal-burning power station, and far less than the price at plants that burn more expensive fuels such as natural gas. Clean electricity that cheap could be used to desalinate seawater, split water molecules to make hydrogen for fuel-cell cars or provide inexpensive power for other ambitious, energy-hungry projects. --Dan Drollette

h/t Big Shot Bob.

All Your Laptop Belong To Us

Just when do the brown shirts start entering your home? This is getting totally out of control, like for real. (yes that was satire).
Thanks to a decision from the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals, U.S. Customs officials can now seize and copy the contents of any laptop carried across a U.S. border. There's no arrest, warrant or probable cause required-just a "gimme."

If you're a defense attorney, your most confidential client files may wind up in the hands of government prosecutors. If you're a political opponent of the Bush administration, your correspondence and the names and addresses of everyone you've contacted can now be used against you to support a "terror" investigation.

The ways that this new authority can be misused are too numerous to count. Basically whatever information you carry with you o­n your laptop including banking records, client data, you name it, now, in effect, must be shared with the U.S. government.

Read the whole story because there's good stuff in there about protecting yourself and your data.

Bush Raising One Half Billion For His Library

This is so silly for a guy who doesn't read anything more advanced than a grade school level book. So this is my suggestion. Stop raising money and build this thing. It will hold his library easily. And you can phone home.

FYI, from Wikipedia (sorry) the book was not "My Pet Goat" although that is a better title than "The Pet Goat".

This Should Surprise No One

Don'tcha love science?
A collective “I told you so” will ripple through the world of Bush-bashers once news of Christopher Lohse’s study gets out.

Lohse, a social work master’s student at Southern Connecticut State University, says he has proven what many progressives have probably suspected for years: a direct link between mental illness and support for President Bush.

Lohse says his study is no joke. The thesis draws on a survey of 69 psychiatric outpatients in three Connecticut locations during the 2004 presidential election. Lohse’s study, backed by SCSU Psychology professor Jaak Rakfeldt and statistician Misty Ginacola, found a correlation between the severity of a person’s psychosis and their preferences for president: The more psychotic the voter, the more likely they were to vote for Bush.

But before you go thinking all your conservative friends are psychotic, listen to Lohse’s explanation.

“Our study shows that psychotic patients prefer an authoritative leader,” Lohse says. “If your world is very mixed up, there’s something very comforting about someone telling you, ‘This is how it’s going to be.’”

Oh yeah, not to disappoint the author, I TOLD YOU SO!

Hey, do you like the pic of a psychotic I've included?

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This Is Disgusting

Think about this. A person has a disease that slowly kills them and can't be cured. The treatment makes them even sicker. They can't leave their beds.They are in constant agony. Do you feel compassion for them?
"Demonstrating that these issues have been co-opted by political considerations, easily the most significant gap related to sociopolitical ideology," the study says. "Political conservatives (50%) were twice as likely as liberals (23%) to say that they have less compassion for those with the 'lifestyle' disease."

And what's this shit about a "lifestyle disease". HIV/AIDS affects everyone.

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Hummer Pawnd!1

A couple things come to mind. First, I thought Hummers were supposed to be tough. Second, maybe your children are safer than you thought.


Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Israel Blindsiding Palestine

As you read the following, which looks great at first, watch for the poison pill. It should be easy because I'll highlight it for you.
Twenty-four hours after Palestinian militants began a ceasefire in Gaza, Israel’s Prime Minister sought to maintain the momentum yesterday by offering peace talks leading to the creation of a Palestinian state.

Ehud Olmert said that Israel would release prisoners, withdraw from West Bank Jewish settlements and ease checkpoints if Palestinians abandoned violence.

But although he held out the prospect of “real, open, genuine and serious dialogue” with Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian President, Mr Olmert’s offer had three conditions. They were for Palestinians to replace Hamas with a new government committed to recognising Israel, implement President Bush’s long-delayed “road map” and release the captured Israeli soldier Gilad Schalit.

“When Gilad Schalit is released and returned to his family, safe and sound, the Government of Israel will be willing to release numerous Palestinian prisoners — including ones who were sentenced to lengthy prison terms,” Mr Olmert said.

The Prime Minister infuriated right-wing critics by offering to reduce roadblocks, evacuate “many territories” in the West Bank and look forward to an “independent and viable Palestinian state . . . with full sovereignty and defined borders”. The key to a resumption of Israeli-Palestinian dialogue is talks in Cairo between Hamas’s supreme leader, Khaled Mashaal , and Egyptian mediators. They are trying to broker a deal that would secure the release of Corporal Schalit in exchange for hundreds of Palestinian prisoners, and lead to the formation of a Palestinian national unity government.

Yeah, we'll give you your independent state with fixed borders and all, but you have to replace your democratically elected government first. This's a favorite ploy by those who want their magnanimous offer to be rejected.

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An Excellent Book For All Political Readers

This book will help you evaluate what the writer wants you to think.

How to Lie With Statistics by Darrell Huff, Irving Geis

Sorry, but its a slow-loading link.

An example. A weblog gets 7 hits in one day. For that would mean a 600% increase in one day because it was launched yesterday with only one hit. For DailyKos, 7 hits is nothing.

Unless the author is neutral, if you aren't supplied with all the data, you don't know what the author is trying to make you think.

A neutral author would not bring up the 600% fact. The data would be presented like this. which was launched yesterday with one hit had 7 new hits today. Now the reader has the info to know its a small new launch and probably insignificant.

An author with an agenda would say is growing like wildfire with a 600% increase in readership just today.

The idea for this post and the example came from Echidne of the Snakes.

British pledge Iraqi pullout

So is Bush gonna go it alone? Its not much of a coalition if you're the only one in it.
BRITAIN said today it expected to withdraw thousands of its 7100 troops from Iraq by the end of next year, in the clearest pledge yet of a pullout from a country gripped by growing sectarian violence.

Other members of the dwindling US-led coalition echoed those moves as Italy said its 60 to 70 remaining troops would be withdrawn from Iraq by the end of this week and Poland promised to pull its 880 troops out by late next year.

In a key policy speech in London, British Defence Secretary Des Browne said: "I can tell you that by the end of next year, I expect numbers of British forces in Iraq to be significantly lower, by a matter of thousands."

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So who makes up this coalition? The following from Wikipedia. All are approximate numbers.

United States - 140,000. To stay until hell freezes over.
United Kingdom - 7,200. Most withdrawn by end of 2007.
Republic of Korea - 2,300. No withdrawl timeframe.
Australia - 1,500. No withdrawl timeframe.
Poland - 900. Late 2007.
Romania - 890. No withdrawl timeframe.
Denmark - 515. At least until July 2007.
El Salvador - 380. No withdrawl timeframe.
Georgia - 300. No withdrawl timeframe.
Azerbaijan - 150. No withdrawl timeframe.
Mongolia - 131. No withdrawl timeframe.
Albania - 120. No withdrawl timeframe.
Latvia - 136. No withdrawl timeframe.
Slovakia - 110. Until February 2007.
Czech Republic - 96. No withdrawl timeframe.
Lithuania - 50. End of 2007.
Armenia - 46. Until December 2006.
Bosnia and Herzegovina - 36. No withdrawl timeframe.
Estonia - 35. No withdrawl timeframe.
Macedonia - 33. No withdrawl timeframe.
Kazakhstan - 29. No withdrawl timeframe.
Moldova - 12. No withdrawl timeframe.

Of course many of these troops are support, training, construction troops and not fighters. For instance, all Kazakhstan's troops are military engineers.