Saturday, December 23, 2006

Unashamably stolen from

(courtesy link) Plus, the link has a link to Wikipedia where they explain the infinite monkey theorem.

US generals agree to troop surge in Iraq: report

This is bullshit on at least 2 fronts.

1. US military commanders in Iraq are reversing their recommendations for political reasons that have nothing to do with military strategy.

2. The fresh troops will allow them to relieve those fighters who are "losing it" or are otherwise unable to perform their duties. In other words, there will be a slight increase in actual fighting forces if any.

Top US military commanders in Iraq have decided to recommend a "surge" of fresh American combat forces, eliminating one of the last remaining hurdles to proposals being considered by President George W. Bush, The Los Angeles Times has reported.

Citing an unnamed defence official, the newspaper said the approval of a troop increase plan by top Iraq commanders, including General George Casey and Lieutenant General Raymond Odierno, comes days before Bush unveils a new course for Iraq.

The recommendation by the commanders in Iraq is significant because Bush has placed prime importance on their advice, the report said.

The US command in Iraq decided to recommend an increase of troops several days ago, prior to meetings in Baghdad this week with Defence Secretary Robert Gates, according to The Times.

Commanders have been sceptical of the value of increasing troops, and the decision represents a reversal for Casey, the highest ranking officer in Iraq, the paper said.

(read more)

Taliban leader reported killed in US air strike

Why do they say there's a close association to Osama bin Laden?
A senior Taliban military commander described as a close associate of Osama bin Laden has been killed in an air strike close to the border with Pakistan, the US military has said.

However, a purported Taliban spokesman denied the claim.

Mullah Akhtar Mohammad Osmani was killed on Tuesday by a US air strike while travelling by vehicle in a remote part of the southern province of Helmand, the US military said. Two of his associates also were killed.

(read more)

Do you see the Taliban listed here?
Is al-Qaeda connected to other terrorist organizations?

Yes. Among them:

* Egyptian Islamic Jihad
* The Libyan Islamic Fighting Group
* Islamic Army of Aden (Yemen)
* Jama'at al-Tawhid wal Jihad (Iraq)
* Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Muhammad (Kashmir)
* Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan
* Salafist Group for Call and Combat and the Armed Islamic Group (Algeria)
* Abu Sayyaf Group (Malaysia, Philippines)
* Jemaah Islamiya (Southeast Asia)

Is it always necessary to link Osama bin Laden and al-Qeada to each and every terrorist and terrorist attack? Oh yeah, notice that Hezzbollah and Hamas are also missing on that list. That's just for future reference.

(read more)

Cat Blogging

One of those rare times when I actually cat blog with a cat.

Must Read IMHO

Thinking outside the box on energy. This sounds so simple and so doable.

(read more)

Throw The Bums Out

We can only hope '08 will see a Dem elected, and allowed to serve, as POTUS. Yeah, its early to mention '08, but I don't wanna lose this thought. Will try not to mention '08 again until late '07 at the earliest.

For example, the latest appointment.
U.S. President George W. Bush's decision to appoint TV producer Warren Bell to the Corporation for Public Broadcasting board has met with strong opposition.

The Los Angeles Times said public broadcasting advocates complain the outspokenly conservative Bell might politicize the board, which determines funding for U.S. public radio and TV stations.

And just why would people not agree Bell is great for CPB? Maybe because he has publicly said this.
At one point, "We said to him, 'How would you change CPB?' " Hodes said in an interview. "He said, 'I would dismantle it.' "

The thing is, its gonna be necessary to start with the list at the link below and start purging all the incompetents, anti-environmentalists, big business puppets and government wreckers Bush has appointed.

And, as I've said before, I'm not talking about appointing flaming lefties, but sober, intelligent and competent people to fulfill the mandate of the position they're appointed to.

For example, if a controversial drug like the "morning after" pill comes along and the FDA is convinced it is effective and safe, it should be released ASAP and not held up because the head of the FDA has questions about the morality of using it.

(read more)

The War On Christmas™

This should strike a chord with most of you.

(via Thoughts of a minister)

Friday, December 22, 2006

Just a little perspective here

This is all over the news. Telling about stranded travelers in the US who are trying to go somewhere for Christmas.
A makeshift shelter of cardboard boxes sprang up near a United Airlines ticket counter as hundreds of holiday travelers found ways to cope after being stranded at the Denver airport by a blizzard.

Denver International Airport - the nation's fifth-busiest - was expected to begin limited operations at noon Friday, almost two days after a blizzard forced it to close runways.

More than 2,000 flights have been canceled, according to airline officials, creating a ripple effect that disrupted air travel around the country as the holiday crush began to build.

(read more)

So here comes the perspective, folks.
Marines charged in Iraqi civilian deaths

In Iraq, journalist deaths spike to record

Deadly December sees 3 more troop deaths; war total reaches 2959

Homeless tally put at 21000 in Chicago


I could go on and on and on, but you get the message. Missed flights are a bitch. I've been there and wasn't too pleased at all, but come on. Missed flights are an inconvenience, but not life or death.

Never forget this

More of these in Iraq:

Will produce more of these in the US:

Limited, sporadic blogging coming

As I suspect will happen with most blogs, the silly season will see few and unpredictable posts for the next few days. But I'll do what I can when I can.

In the meantime, ¡Feliz Navidad!

Quote of the day

UN to impose nuclear embargo on Iran

Inching closer to an attack on Iran and, of course, the people doing the inching are Bush and the poodle.
The UN Security Council is poised to order sanctions against Iran today, placing an embargo on sensitive nuclear exports in the international drive to prevent Tehran from building a nuclear bomb. With the diplomatic pressure set to increase after months of negotiations, the US and Britain are moving extra warships and strike aircraft to the Persian Gulf.

Much of the military focus is on countering any attempts by the Iranians to block oil shipments by mining sea lanes in retaliation against a UN resolution which British diplomats hope will be adopted unanimously by the 15-nation security council.

The draft resolution provides for bans on the import and export of material and technology relating to uranium enrichment, reprocessing and heavy-water reactors, as well as ballistic missile systems. It also calls for a travel ban and freezes funds and financial assets owned or controlled by entities or people associated with sensitive areas of Iran's nuclear or missile programme. Eleven organisations and 12 individuals are named as targets of the measures.

(read more)

How apropos

This story is about Bush's presser in which he essentially said he cares not what anyone wants except Bush and he's staying in Iraq indefinitely.

So he was saying he's screwing the American people and he announced it in a room which epitomises the screwing of the American people.
Bush sought to use the 52-minute session, held in the ornate Indian Treaty Room in a building adjacent to the White House, to sum up what he called "a difficult year for our troops and the Iraqi people" and reassure the American public that "we enter this new year clear-eyed about the challenges in Iraq." [emphasis mine]

This shit writes itself.

(read more)

Marines charged in Iraqi civilian deaths

When I first reported about the alleged murders in Haditha, I was hoping it wasn't true. I hoped the people, in the confusion of battle, had been mistaken, but it appears there was more to it than that.
Eight Marines were charged Thursday in the killings of 24 Iraqi civilians last year during a bloody, door-to-door sweep in the town of Haditha that came after one of their comrades was killed by a roadside bomb.

In the biggest U.S. criminal case involving civilian deaths to come out of the Iraq war, four of the Marines — all enlisted men — were charged with unpremeditated murder.

The other four were officers who were not there during the killings but were accused of failures in investigating and reporting the deaths.

The most serious charges were brought against Staff Sgt. Frank Wuterich, a 26-year-old squad leader accused of murdering 12 civilians and ordering the murders of six more inside a house cleared by his squad. He was accused of telling his men to "shoot first and ask questions later," according to court papers released by his attorney.

The highest-ranking defendant was Lt. Col. Jeffrey Chessani, 42. He was accused of failing to obey an order or regulation, encompassing dereliction of duty.

(read more)

Thursday, December 21, 2006

We need a hero

Don't look at me. I'm no hero and I'm inherently lazy.

But we need someone to start documenting all the areas where Bush has fucked US and the Dems have to fix it. This is one of those Bush "quickies".

(Update below)

President George W. Bush on Wednesday installed self-described conservative writer and producer Warren Bell on the board of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, which supports U.S. public television and radio.

Bell, who was nominated in June, writes for the conservative magazine The National Review and was previously a writer and producer for "Coach" and "Ellen," two popular TV series in the 1990s.

The Senate Commerce Committee had been scheduled to hold a confirmation hearing for him in September but he was dropped from the agenda because of concerns by both Republicans and Democrats.

The Los Angeles Times reported that some of Bell's fellow writers said he had made negative comments about funding public broadcasting, a charge he denied. No action on his nomination was taken by the Senate before it adjourned earlier this month.

Bush's recess appointment allows Bell to hold the board position until Congress adjourns next year, the White House said. Such appointments may be made by the president when Congress is not in session.

Update: I left this topic too quickly. Let me explain.

I'm not advocating a flaming lefty appointment. The CPB should not be partisan. The Dems have to find someone neutral to appoint. Someone whose passions lean toward informing the public and bringing the truth to public broadcasting. Forget "balanced". If the preponderance of evidence says global warming is a fact, then it should be presented as fact with no "counter view". We just need someone to bring creditable information to the public with no political spin.

(read more)

Good legislation in Texas

Ya'll see? They can do good in Texas.

Just wait, the pic will make sense in a sec.
Texas would join two other states that mandate access to employee-only restrooms for anyone with a pressing medical condition, including pregnancy, under a legislative proposal.

State Rep. Mark Strama, D-Austin, said he agreed to sponsor the bill after meeting with a support group for people with ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease, autoimmune diseases that can cause intestinal cramping and diarrhea.

"We should all be inspired by their example to have the courage to speak out about difficult issues and to advocate for others who silently endure difficult chronic illnesses," Strama said.

(read more)

How do you build up your police force when recruits keep getting blown up?

The question is how can this sort of thing can be stopped unless all forms of transportation and pedestrians are banned from Baghdad?
A suicide bomber has killed 13 Iraqis arriving at a police recruitment centre in central Baghdad, a medic said, in the latest attack to strike security forces in the war-torn capital.

Separately two civilian women were killed in a mortar trike (sic) on a marketplace in southwest Baghdad, and a bomb targeting a police patrol in the north of the city injured a bystander, police said Thursday.

The bomber, wearing an explosive vest, struck at sunrise in a street outside a police academy in the heart of the Iraqi capital that has been barred to vehicular traffic, security officials said.

Ten police recruits were killed instantly and another three died of their injuries after being rushed to the al-Kindi hospital, a medical source said.

Brigadier General Abdul Karim Khalaf, director of operations at the Iraqi interior ministry, confirmed the details of the attack but said that according to his information only 11 people had been killed.

Since 2004, before the traffic ban was put in place, the police academy near Palestine Street in the Rusafa district came under attack three times -- by car bomb, mortar and a suicide bomber.

And please tell me how thousands of more troops can stop such bombings? Maybe thousands of bomb sniffing dogs would do the trick.

(read more)

Bush: Iranians 'can do better' than Ahmadinejad

That's the headline. And my first thought?
Yeah, and Americans 'can do better' than Bush.

(read more)

'Sheer anger' over torture provokes suit

Good for him. That's all I have to say about it.
A U.S. Navy veteran from Chicago sued former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld in federal court Monday, accusing U.S. forces of detaining and torturing him for 97 days at a maximum security military prison in Baghdad.

Donald Vance, 29, worked in Iraq as a private security contractor when he was kidnapped by his own employer in April, rescued by U.S. forces, and then held without ever being charged with a crime, according to the lawsuit.

At the U.S. Embassy, Vance told military officials that he was an FBI informant who regularly relayed information via cell phone and e-mail to a federal agent in Chicago about his employer's possible involvement in illegally selling weapons.

"Within five minutes of my first interrogations I explained to them the relationship [with FBI agent Travis Carlisle] and I was imploring them to do their research," he said. An FBI spokesman confirmed Carlisle is an agent but declined to comment further.

(read more)

Man, you just can't get away with disagreeing with King George

If you do you're out the door or severely marginalized. Or that other cute thing they like to use now, demanding everything you say or publish for public consumption is massaged before it goes anywhere (if allowed to go anywhere).
Gen. John Abizaid, head of U.S. Central Command and military chief of the Iraq fiasco, will retire in March. Though officials say Abizaid tendered his retirement before Rumsfeld was pushed out, his departure will allow Defense Secretary Robert Gates and President Bush more flexibility in their Iraq makeover, as Abizaid has been a dogged opponent of increasing troop levels.

And get real here. Everyone leaving the military and the government is not "retiring". That's just silly. Especially if they have said or done something Bush doesn't like. Then its silly².

(read more)


I'll just let this guy have the floor. Now being lazy as I am I've not verified he's right about all or even any of this, but its interesting. Here's a link to Wikipedia if you want to do the research.
This Christmas, let's not forget about this striking character of Greek Mythology. Let me first make it clear that Mithras significantly predates the story of Jesus.

* Mithra was born of a virgin on December 25th in a cave, and his birth was attended by shepherds.
* He was considered a great traveling teacher and master.
* He had 12 companions or disciples.
* Mithra's followers were promised immortality.
* He performed miracles.
* As the "great bull of the Sun," Mithra sacrificed himself for world peace.
* He was buried in a tomb and after three days rose again.
* His resurrection was celebrated every year.
* He was called "the Good Shepherd" and identified with both the Lamb and the Lion.
* He was considered the "Way, the Truth and the Light," and the "Logos," "Redeemer," "Savior" and "Messiah."
* His sacred day was Sunday.
* Mithra had his principal festival of what was later to become Easter.
* His religion had a eucharist or "Lord's Supper," at which Mithra said, "He who shall not eat of my body nor drink of my blood so that he may be one with me and I with him, shall not be saved."

(courtesy link)


Sorry for the ALL CAPS headline, but its from someone else's blog.

Anyway, we all know Bush has been spending money we don't have and cutting taxes on the rich simultaneously. This post tells you exactly how bad things are.
Prepare to be shocked.

The US is insolvent. There is simply no way for our national bills to be paid under current levels of taxation and promised benefits. Our federal deficits alone now total more than 400% of GDP.

That is the conclusion of a recent Treasury/OMB report entitled Financial Report of the United States Government that was quietly slipped out on a Friday (12/15/06), deep in the holiday season, with little fanfare. Sometimes I wonder why the Treasury Department doesn’t just pay somebody to come in at 4:30 am Christmas morning to release the report. Additionally, I’ve yet to read a single account of this report in any of the major news media outlets but that is another matter.

But, hey, I understand. A report this bad requires all the muffling it can get.

In his accompanying statement to the report, David Walker, Comptroller of the US, warmed up his audience by stating that the GAO had found so many significant material deficiencies in the government’s accounting systems that the GAO was “unable to express an opinion” on the financial statements. Ha ha! He really knows how to play an audience!

In accounting parlance, that’s the same as telling your spouse “Our checkbook is such an out of control mess I can’t tell if we’re broke or rich!” The next time you have an unexplained rash of checking withdrawals from that fishing trip with your buddies, just tell her that you are “unable to express an opinion” and see how that flies. Let us know how it goes!

Then Walker went on to deliver the really bad news:

Despite improvement in both the fiscal year 2006 reported net operating cost and the cash-based budget deficit, the U.S. government’s total reported liabilities, net social insurance commitments, and other fiscal exposures continue to grow and now total approximately $50 trillion, representing approximately four times the Nation’s total output (GDP) in fiscal year 2006, up from about $20 trillion, or two times GDP in fiscal year 2000.

As this long-term fiscal imbalance continues to grow, the retirement of the “baby boom” generation is closer to becoming a reality with the first wave of boomers eligible for early retirement under Social Security in 2008.

Given these and other factors, it seems clear that the nation’s current fiscal path is unsustainable and that tough choices by the President and the Congress are necessary in order to address the nation’s large and growing long-term fiscal imbalance.

Wow! I know David Walker’s been vocal lately about his concern over our economic future but it seems almost impossible to ignore the implications of his statements above. From $20 trillion in fiscal exposures in 2000 to over $50 trillion in only six years? What shall we do for an encore…shoot for $100 trillion?

And how about the fact that boomers begin retiring in 2008…that always seemed to be waaaay out in the future. However, beginning January 1st we can start referring to 2008 as ‘next year’ instead of ‘some point in the future too distant to get concerned about now’. Our economic problems need to be classified as growing, imminent, and unsustainable.

Oh yeah, Merry Christmas.
(read more)

Followup on Army 1st Lt. Ehren Watada

A highly sympathetic crowd of a few hundred people gave Army 1st Lt. Ehren Watada standing ovations before, during and after a speech at the Church of the Crossroads in Moiliili.

Watada, a Honolulu native, faces court-martial in Fort Lewis, Wash., next month on six counts for refusing to deploy to Iraq and for conduct unbecoming an officer, charges that carry a maximum six years' imprisonment. He was back in Honolulu to meet with his attorney and visit with family.

Watada acknowledged that his actions have divided the community. "That was not my intent," he said. But upon learning the facts of the war, he said he was in turmoil.

He called the war in Iraq an illegal war of aggression.

(read more)

The War On Christmas™

Plus a nice little snarky swipe at Bush.

katrina gingerbread house

ok so its gramcracker.. but we actaully had a nice house except the powdered-sugar+water glue icing wasnt functioning properly.. so we turned it into a, political statement?

(Flickr liink)

The War On Christmas™

Ya gotta see what this person did to an officemate. Behold the wrapture.

Said officemate may hate Christmas forever after this.

On the War, Determined to Go His Own Way

Stubborn as a Missouri mule and as isolated as a leper.
Ever since Republicans were routed last month in what was widely seen as a repudiation of his Iraq strategy, President Bush has been busily listing how his policies there will not be changing.

There will be no timetable for removing American troops, no high-level dialogue with Iran and Syria, and no slackening of support for the widely criticized government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. Meanwhile, White House aides are reported to be pushing a major "surge" of troops to Baghdad while preparing a fresh infusion of tens of billions of dollars for the war effort.

Yesterday, in an interview with The Washington Post, while acknowledging that the United States is not winning in Iraq, Bush bluntly dismissed the suggestion that the midterm elections meant voters want to bring the mission in that country to closure. He said he interpreted the election results "as people not satisfied with the progress" in Iraq.

"A lot of people understand that if we leave Iraq, there will be dire consequences," Bush said in the Oval Office. "They expect this administration to listen with people, to work with Democrats, to work with the military, to work with the Iraqis to put a plan in place that achieves the objective. There's not a lot of people saying, 'Get out now.' Most Americans are saying, 'We want to achieve the objective.' "

(read more)

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Just say no

This is unbelievable, an anti-fornication thong.
This undergarment will remind anyone who is tempted to fornicate to not forsake the Baby Jesus... He is watching, always watching.

I can't make this shit up. It is far more bizarre than anything my feeble mind could conjure.

Has anyone pointed out to these idiots that Jesus was most likely not white? Just asking.

(read more)

This is too kewl

Gotta use it.

Don't think SPIIDERWEB™ isn't watching out for you

File under: Eclectic. K?

Here is the The zombie survival guide: complete protection from the living dead.

Its just a matter of time until you'll need this info. Trust me on this one. I'm thinking Bush and his horde of thugs and what they're doing.

Quick quote about my schedule

For anyone interested, I usually sleep from roughly 10.00 AM EST/EDT until 5.00 PM EST/EDT. So your comments, though appreciated greatly, may never get a response simply because I can only respond hours after you posted and doubt you'd see the reply.

But don't let that stop you. Comment on dudes and dudettes (a word I've just coined because it doesn't seem to be in the dictionary). I like to read your comments and wish I could respond in a timely manner, but my schedule doesn't allow.

I don't do predictions, but...

I have this horrible feeling in the pit of my stomach. In order to try to redeem himself, because even Bush has to know his legacy is shit, here is what is gonna happen and happen very, very badly.

He is going to send more troops into Iraq. Fifteen thousand, 20,000, 30,000? Who knows. It won't matter because we don't have the ability to fight an asymmetrical war. I'm sure we'll learn to in the future, but we don't have that expertise now. Perhaps we'd have a chance if we sent in SWAT teams, but that's just silly.

And here's where my prediction really starts getting scary. Bush will invade Iran. He's been posturing for it for many months and he is going to do it. Any troops committed to Iran will have to be pulled from somewhere else, somewhere else where they are needed or they wouldn't be stationed there now.

That means a couple things. He will ruin the US military. He will decimate its ranks and destroy its power to do anything. The second thing it means is Kim Jong Il will have free reign to do whatever the hell he wants because Bush would have to attack him with the Boy and Girl Scouts. What's next? The Cub Scouts and Brownies?

In the end there might be a silver lining. The US military commanders and strategists are gonna be forced to take stock in just what the US military is or should be. How can they have so many "superior" weapons and still be fucked by some guys with AK47s and RPGs? If you check the pictures out of Iraq, those guys don't even have Hummers. They attack in Toyota pickups, Corollas and an occasional SUV.

Finally it all makes sense to me

I'm often confused by the different ways the MSM will spell one name if its Arabic. Now I understand.
Searching the BBC's vast website for articles about Colonel Gadafy recently, I found just three mentions of his name.

As far as the BBC is concerned, this may be three times too many, since its approved spelling of the Libyan leader's name is "Gaddafi".

Here at the Guardian, on the other hand, our policy is to call him Gadafy - something we have succeeded in doing 325 times on our website.

For good measure, we have also managed to write Gaddafi 42 times, Gadafi eight times, and Gaddafy and Qadhafi twice each.

See, even the professionals have problems. It isn't just my pea-brain.

(read more)


Get this bumper sticker and other goodies here.

Big bad George


When I saw this huge picture of Bush something began tickling me at the back of my mind. Finally I put my finger on it. Some other leaders around the world favor over-sized images of themselves for public viewing.

One of the more famous ones.

And our close neighbor.

And we can't forget.

So he considers himself a dictator (as do I) and is now making it very clear.

Iraq troop buildup idea worries generals

Hey, Bush, you maroon. You're the one they're talking to. Listen for a change.
A White House laboring to find a new approach in Iraq said Tuesday it is considering sending more U.S. troops, an option that worries top generals because of its questionable payoff and potential backlash. President Bush said he is ready to boost the overall size of an American military overstretched by its efforts against worldwide terrorism.

The military's caution on shipping thousands of additional troops temporarily to Iraq is based on a fear that the move could be ineffective without bold new political and economic steps.

Commanders also worry that the already stretched Army and Marine Corps would be even thinner once the short-term surge ended. Bush's newly expressed interest in making the military larger would have little impact on that worry because it will take much longer to add substantially to the size of the military.

Generals also question whether sending more troops to Iraq would feed a perception that the strife in Iraq is mainly a military problem; in their view it is largely political, fed by economic distress.

Rep. Ike Skelton (news, bio, voting record), the Missouri Democrat who will become chairman of the House Armed Services Committee next month, echoed those sentiments Tuesday. "I'm convinced the Army and the Marines are near the breaking point," Skelton said, while expressing skepticism that a big troop surge would be worth the trouble.

With Iraq's burgeoning chaos leaving the Bush administration with few attractive choices, it is studying a possible short-term troop increase there. That proposal is the favorite option of some, including potential 2008 presidential contender Sen. John McCain (news, bio, voting record), R-Ariz., and analysts at the conservative American Enterprise Institute, which has strong ties to the administration.

(read more)

The War On Christmas™

(Newsday/Kathy Kmonicek)

Damnit we lost this round.
A Commack School District bus driver says he nearly lost his job because he refused to take off his Santa Claus cap while driving his route.

With his long white beard and generous midriff, 65-year-old Kenneth Mott bears more than a passing resemblance to St. Nick. The Bayport resident says he has been wearing his furry red-and-white hat every December since he started working for the Baumann and Sons bus company, which transports students in the Commack School District, five years ago.

(read more)

This can't be good

Its coming and there's nothing you and I can do about it.
The Pentagon is considering a buildup of Navy forces in the Persian Gulf as a show of force against Iran, a senior defense official said Tuesday.

Speaking on condition of anonymity because the idea has not been approved, the official said one proposal is to send a second aircraft carrier to the region amid increasing tensions with Iran, blamed for encouraging sectarian violence in neighboring Iraq as well as allegedly pursuing a nuclear weapons program.

The United States and its European allies are seeking sanctions against Iran because of its refusal to stop uranium enrichment, a technology that can be used to produce nuclear fuel for civilian purposes or fuel for a nuclear bomb.

In Tehran, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Tuesday that U.N. sanctions would not stop Iran from pursuing its uranium enrichment program, which he has said is for peaceful development of energy.

I will remind all once more. Iran signed The Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, also referred to as the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT)* and they have every right under said treaty to enrich uranium for peaceful purposes.

(read more)

* Cuba, Israel, India, and Pakistan were the only states that were not members of the NPT.

Medics await their fate in Libyan HIV case

(Update below)

The guilt of these people is almost too horrible to comprehend. Why in the world would people do such a thing?

If they are innocent, and I hope they are, I certainly hope they will be so judged and released.
A Palestinian doctor and five Bulgarian nurses will learn tomorrow whether they must die by firing squad for deliberately infecting more than 400 Libyan children with HIV.

Fifty-two of the children have since died of Aids. The surviving 374 are being treated at hospitals in France and Italy, at the expense of the Libyan leader, Colonel Muammar Gaddafi. Ramadan Faitori, a spokesman for the childrens' families, said, "We are confident that the accused group is criminal and will be convicted."

The foreign medical staff were first convicted of the crime and sentenced to die in 2004, but Libya's Supreme Court ordered a retrial. Official media in Libya are declaring that the guilt of the accused is a foregone conclusion. They have been held in jail in Libya since March 1999.

The case has become a focus of tension between Libya and the West, where experts are united in believing that the six have been made scapegoats for a crime they did not commit. Reports by top Aids experts, including one by Professor Luc Montagnier, one of the discoverers of Aids, have exonerated them. Professor Montagnier said the epidemic was probably caused by poor hygiene in the hospital, and pointed out that it had begun before the six started working there, and continued after their arrest.

(read more)

A court convicted five Bulgarian nurses and a Palestinian doctor Tuesday of deliberately infecting 400 children with HIV and sentenced them to death, despite scientific evidence the youngsters had the virus before the medical workers came to Libya.

The United States and Europe reacted with outrage to the verdict, which prolongs a case that has hurt Libya's ties to the West. The six co-defendants have already served seven years in jail.

The sentence brought cheers in Libya, where there is widespread public anger over the infections. The Libyan press has long depicted the medical workers as guilty.

After the sentence was pronounced, dozens of relatives outside the Tripoli court chanted "Execution! Execution!" Ibrahim Mohammed al-Aurabi, the father of an infected child, shouted, "God is great! Long live the Libyan judiciary!"

But the ruling stunned the defendants. They were convicted and sentenced to death a year ago, but the Libyan Supreme Court ordered a retrial after an international outcry that the first trial was unfair. The case now returns to the Supreme Court for an automatic appeal.

So it isn't over quite yet although the conclusion seems pre-ordained.

(read more)

This Is Just Creepy

Flat daddies my ass. Sorry, folks, but I lost it when I read this.
It was the first day of school, and distance not withstanding, 9-year-old Baylee Smith wanted to take a picture with her father, Mark, who is stationed with a National Guard unit in Afghanistan. Real daddy was not available, but Sergeant Smith’s doppelgänger was.

“Where’s Flat Daddy?” an excited Baylee asked as her stepmother, Jennifer Smith, pulled a large cardboard picture of Sergeant Smith, in his uniform, out of her Chevy Blazer and propped him on the bumper. The two, along with Ms. Smith’s young sons, Alec and Derek, posed for a picture with their Flat Daddy, who promptly fell down.

“Stop it Dad, that’s not funny. It’s not a joke,” Baylee said with a laugh.

The Maine National Guard is giving life-size from-the-waist-up pictures of soldiers to the families of deployed guard members. Guard officials and families say the cutouts, known as Flat Daddies or Flat Soldiers, connect families with a relative who is thousands of miles away. The Flat Daddies are toted everywhere from soccer practice to coffee shops to weddings.

“The response has been unbelievable,” said Sgt. First Class Barbara Claudel, director of the Maine National Guard’s family unit. “The families just miss people so much when they’re gone that they try to bring their soldier everywhere.”

People you're just not all there, anymore than is this soldier.

(read more)

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

How buff can you get?

For some reason I think my readers, yeah you, might be interested in this geeky post.
Something I ordered off the web a week or so ago arrived today. It's called a buff.

It's actually the third I've bought. The first is still knocking around somewhere, but I forgot to take it with me on a camping holiday a while back, and missed having it enough to buy a second to tide me over.

They seem to have evolved a bit since my first one. . .

When I bought the first one, it was just a tubular, seam-free bit of fabric that could be folded up in a few interesting ways: Neck scarf and sweatband being the obvious ones, balaclava and skull-cap being the more elaborate ones.

Now, though, they've evolved further: My second one was made out of "Coolmax" microfibre - still cunningly woven so there were no seams and yet no fraying; but now it was fast-wicking, windproof, and 95% UV-resistant!

You could also get ones specifically for colder conditions, with Polartec added at the end. Polartec, as I know from lots of dry technical reading about scuba diving undersuits, is the fastest-wicking material known to man (I have an undersuit made out of it. . .)

Anyway: They're very good & versatile things to have. They fit easily in a pocket, and in summer they keep off the sun and wick away sweat; in the winter they keep in the warmth and keep off the rain/snow.

Boring disclaimer: No I have no financial interest in Buff products nor received any remuneration for plugging their products. However, should they feel obligated to give me a few free samples, I would entertain accepting them.

(read more)

A couple photos

The first is an aurora in Iowa.

The second, and I swear I don't believe this is a Photoshop® job, is an amazing stunt in China.

AP/Xinhua, Fang Xi

Global warming from above

George Monbiot seems to be one of the few people in the MSM who won't ignore the impact of commercial air traffic on the environment. This is a problem that has to be addressed along with other sources of carbon emissions because it is a huge source.
I suppose I should be flattered. In a speech to fellow airline bosses a few days ago, Martin Broughton, the chief executive of British Airways, announced that the primary challenge for the industry is to “isolate the George Monbiots of this world”(1). That shouldn’t be difficult. For a terrifying spectre, I’m feeling pretty lonely. Almost everyone in politics appears to want to forget about aviation’s impact on the environment.

On Wednesday the secretary of state for communities launched a bold plan to make new homes more energy efficient. She claims it will save 7 million tonnes of carbon(2). On Thursday Douglas Alexander, the transport secretary, announced that he would allow airports to keep growing: by 2030 the number of passengers will increase from 228 million to 465 million(3). As a result, according to a report commissioned by the department for environment, carbon emissions will rise by between 22 and 36 million tonnes(4). So much for joined-up government.

The government says it will cut carbon dioxide emissions by 60% between 1990 and 2050. Last month it promised to introduce a climate change bill, which will make this target legally binding. Douglas Alexander’s decision ensures that the new law will be broken.

(read more)

Kasparov plays a most dangerous game against Putin

As is probably common knowledge now, democracy comes from within a country and not without. Bush is proving that quite well in Afganistan and Iraq.
As the world’s greatest chess player, Garry Kasparov employed his formidable intellect to outwit rivals before seizing on a weakness to crush them.

The Russian grandmaster is now applying those skills to a new game of strategy aimed at defeating his toughest opponent of all — President Putin. At stake, he argues, is the fate of Russian democracy.

Mr Kasparov has devoted himself to politics since retiring from professional chess last year. He regards Mr Putin as a dictator whose authoritarian rule threatens to return Russia to a dark past.

Here's hoping Kasparov is successful and doesn't end up a political prisoner.

(read more)

Federal Budget Follies

This is pretty dry reading as is anything that uses lots of numbers, but its important for you to know this stuff. Why? Because I say so. You need any more incentive?
With the baby boomers’ retirement fast approaching, these past several years would have been a good time for federal policymakers to put the government’s fiscal house in order by reducing the national debt. Instead, they expanded it.
At the end of fiscal year 2006, the national debt stood at roughly $4.8 trillion. The Congressional Budget Office estimates that $2.3 trillion, or nearly half of the debt, was the result of tax cuts and spending increases approved by Congress and the Administration since January 2001.

Sad to say, but the nation would be in much better shape today if Congress had left the budget on automatic pilot for the past six years.

Where did that $2.3 trillion go? A bit over half of it went to tax cuts, and another third went to increased spending for defense, homeland security, and international affairs (primarily the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan), according to CBO data. Only 6 percent of the $2.3 trillion represents increases in domestic discretionary programs, the part of the budget some have mistakenly claimed is “exploding.”

Moreover, since the bulk of the tax cuts went to households with higher incomes, the tax cuts not only worsened the nation’s budgetary situation but also widened the growing gulf between the best-off households and all other Americans. This Center report provides the details. [emphasis miine]

And that, folks, is one way you destroy a nation.

read more)

Blair 'failed to influence Bush'...duh

I have got to set up my own think tank. These people get paid to write reports like this.
The Chatham House report found that, despite military, political and financial sacrifices by the UK, Mr Blair had been unable to influence the Bush administration in "any significant way".

They could have saved a lot of money just by asking me what I think. Oh, the "duh" in the headline is my doing.

(read more)

Iraq Insurgents Starve Capital of Electricity

They are inventive. I'm surprised we haven't heard about this before because I'm sure this has been going on for years now.
Over the past six months, Baghdad has been all but isolated electrically, Iraqi officials say, as insurgents have effectively won their battle to bring down critical high-voltage lines and cut off the capital from the major power plants to the north, south and west.

The battle has been waged in the remotest parts of the open desert, where the great towers that support thousands of miles of exposed lines are frequently felled with explosive charges in increasingly determined and sophisticated attacks, generally at night. Crews that arrive to repair the damage are often attacked and sometimes killed, ensuring that the government falls further and further behind as it attempts to repair the lines.

And in a measure of the deep disunity and dysfunction of this nation, when the repair crews and security forces are slow to respond, skilled looters often arrive with heavy trucks that pull down more of the towers to steal as much of the valuable aluminum conducting material in the lines as possible. The aluminum is melted into ingots and sold.

What amounts to an electrical siege of Baghdad is reflected in constant power failures and disastrously poor service in the capital, with severe consequences for security, governance, health care and the mood of an already weary and angry populace.

“Now Baghdad is almost isolated,” Karim Wahid, the Iraqi electricity minister, said in an interview last week. “We almost don’t have any power coming from outside.”


Mr. Wahid said he has appealed both to American and Iraqi security forces for help in protecting the lines, but has had little response; Electricity Ministry officials said they could think of no case in which saboteurs had been caught. Payments made to local tribes in exchange for security have been ineffective, electricity officials said.

Neither the Defense Ministry nor the American military responded to requests for comment on the security of the lines.

(read more)

So much for listening to the "experts"

Bush went on his little listening tour, but forgot to, like, ya know, actually listen.
As President George W. Bush weighs options for changing course in Iraq, his administration is split over the concept of sending in more troops, The Washington Post reported on Tuesday.

White House officials are aggressively promoting a short-term increase in U.S. troop levels in Iraq over the unanimous disagreement of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the newspaper reported, citing officials familiar with the debate.

The chiefs of the military services think the White House still does not have a defined mission and is latching on to the idea of a surge of troops in Iraq, in part, because of limited alternatives, the report said, citing the officials who spoke on condition of anonymity.

The Joint Chiefs have warned that a short-term mission could give an edge to the armed factions in Iraq without providing a lasting boost to the U.S. military mission or to the Iraqi army, the report said.

Sending 15,000 to 30,000 more troops to Iraq for six to eight months is one proposal under consideration as the White House looks for ways to halt the worsening situation in Iraq, the officials told the Post.

The officials were quoted as saying that the idea of a much larger deployment for a longer mission was virtually off the table, mainly for logistics reasons. [emphasis mine]

Note that was unanimous disagreement. Pretty unusual for that group of old war horses.

(read more)

Gingrich's Latest Political Ressurection: Corporate Pointman for Internet Censorship

Not only is the GOP afraid of the internets tubes, but so are their constituency, big business and the ultra-wealthy.
The Republican Party's evangelical Christian radicalization and manipulation scheme worked to enviable electoral perfection. That is, it was working to perfection until the internet came along and ruined everything.

Corporations are growing increasingly uncomfortable and worried about the power and influence of the internet. In all other socio-political communication paradigms, controlling the message and the media has been a pretty simple process. Corporations could quite easily leverage their sponsorship dollars into media coverage that was least damaging to their interests or, more often than not, as a means of limiting and preventing negative reporting altogether. The internet, however, has taken power away from the traditional corporate-sponsored media and placed it directly into the hands of average citizens. This is a condition that the Republican Party's constituency -- corporations and the ultra-wealthy -- cannot long tolerate.

There is no doubt that corporations are pressuring Republicans to figure out a way to curtail the internet's influence. That is where Newt Gingrich's latest resurrection finds its meaning.

And don't forget net neutrality and copyright infringement and a controlled internets and McCain's little bill that could charge bloggers up to $300,000 for illegal images or videos commenters posted in the comments section of their site.

(read more)

You are not going to like this

Dulles toll road

Sorry to be the one to bring you the bad news, but better you know than not.
Fifty years to the day after Ike put his pen to the Highway Act [creating the 41,000 mile interstate highway system], another Republican signed off on another historic highway project. On June 29, 2006, Mitch Daniels, the former Bush administration official turned governor of Indiana, was greeted with a round of applause as he stepped into a conference room packed with reporters and state lawmakers. The last of eight wire transfers had landed in the state's account, making it official: Indiana had received $3.8 billion from a foreign consortium made up of the Spanish construction firm Cintra and the Macquarie Infrastructure Group (mig) of Australia, and in exchange the state would hand over operation of the 157-mile Indiana Toll Road for the next 75 years. The arrangement would yield hundreds of millions of dollars in tax breaks for the consortium, which also received immunity from most local and state taxes in its contract with Indiana. And, of course, the consortium would collect all the tolls, which it was allowed to raise to levels far beyond what Hoosiers had been used to. By one calculation, the Toll Road would generate more than $11 billion over the 75-year life of the contract, a nice return on mig-Cintra's $3.8 billion investment.

The deal to privatize the Toll Road had been almost a year in the making. Proponents celebrated it as a no-pain, all-gain way to off-load maintenance expenses and mobilize new highway-building funds without raising taxes. Opponents lambasted it as a major turn toward handing the nation's common property over to private firms, and at fire-sale prices to boot.


Across the nation, there is now talk of privatizing everything from the New York Thruway to the Ohio, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey turnpikes, as well as of inviting the private sector to build and operate highways and bridges from Alabama to Alaska. More than 20 states have enacted legislation allowing public-private partnerships, or P3s, to run highways. Robert Poole, the founder of the libertarian Reason Foundation and a longtime privatization advocate, estimates that some $25 billion in public-private highway deals are in the works—a remarkable figure given that as of 1991, the total cost of the interstate highway system was estimated at $128.9 billion.

Not only can private companies raise tolls to obscene levels unless controlled*, but they will surely slight maintenance unless carefully regulated. Even with control and regulation, it'll be a constant battle between government and these private companies.

How do these maroons get into office? Just asking.

(read more)

* And why in hell is there a second "L" in controlled? I know, its just to piss me off.

You think your luck is bad?

Now this guy had bad luck or somehow he really pissed off God.
A British officer, Major Summerford, while fighting in the fields of Flanders in February 1918 was knocked off his horse by a flash of lightning and paralyzed from the waist down. Summerford retired and moved to Vancouver. One day in 1924, as he fished alongside a river, lightning hit the tree he was sitting under and paralyzed his right side. Two years later Summerford was sufficiently recovered that he was able to take walks in a local park. He was walking there one summer day in 1930 when a lightning bolt smashed into him, permanently paralyzing him. He died two years later. But lightning sought him out one last time. Four years later, during a storm, lightning struck a cemetery and destroyed a tombstone. The deceased buried here? Major Summerford.

(read more stories like this)

The War On Christmas™

Rudolph the red nosed hot dog anyone?
Just in time for Christmas, they’re selling reindeer hot dogs in suburban Chicago.

With grilled onions and mustard, it will cost you eight dollars at Fred Markoff’s hot dog stand in Glenview.

The reindeer dogs are made in Alaska and actually contain a bit of beef and pork because reindeer meat is so lean and dry.

The link also has video if you have bandwidth.

(read more)

Things in Iraq are going just fine

What's up with Gates? Why doesn't he just talk to Laura Bush and he'll know things are going well in Iraq. No need to waste all the money it'll cost to actually go there.
Attacks on U.S. and Iraqi troops and Iraqi civilians jumped sharply in recent months to the highest level since Iraq regained its sovereignty in June 2004, the Pentagon told Congress on Monday in the latest indication of that country's spiraling violence.

In a report issued the same day Robert Gates took over as defense secretary, the Pentagon said that from mid-August to mid-November, the weekly average number of attacks increased 22 percent from the previous three months. The worst violence was in Baghdad and in the western province of Anbar, long the focus of activity by Sunni insurgents.

At a ceremonial swearing-in attended by President Bush, Gates warned that failure in Iraq would be a "calamity that would haunt our nation, impair our credibility and endanger Americans for decades to come." He said he intended to go to Iraq soon to get the "unvarnished" advice of U.S. commanders on how to stabilize the country.

A bar chart in the Pentagon's report to Congress gave no exact numbers but indicated the weekly average had approached 1,000 in the latest period, compared to about 800 per week from the May-to-August period. Statistics provided separately by the Pentagon said weekly attacks had averaged 959 in the latest period. [emphasis mine]

Uh, wasn't Iraq a sovereign nation before June 2004? Just asking.

(read more)

Monday, December 18, 2006

Your suspicions confirmed

Just forget everything Bush has ever said about his objectives in Iraq other than to remove its dictator. Everything else is smoke and mirrors to hide his corporate empire building.

Oh yeah, and the oil. Never forget the primary goal of securing the oil for US companies.
[Antonia Juhasz, author of The Bush Agenda: Invading the World, One Economy at a Time]: You know, in the report that you [Amy Goodman] were quoting in the beginning of the hour, which said that the reconstruction failed because of poor planning, it’s a myth that there was not a post-war planning done by the Bush administration. The reason why it failed was because the interests it was serving were U.S. multinationals, not reconstruction in Iraq.

That plan was ready two months before the invasion. It was written by BearingPoint, Inc., a company based in Virginia that received a $250 million contract to rewrite the entire economy of Iraq. It drafted that new economy. That new economy was put into place systematically by L. Paul Bremer, the head of the occupation government of Iraq for 14 months, who implemented exactly one hundred orders, basically all of which are still in place today. And everyone who is watching who is familiar with the policies of the World Trade Organization, the North American Free Trade Agreement, the World Bank, the I.M.F., will understand the orders.

They implement some of the most radical corporate globalization ideas, such as free investment rules for multinational corporations. That means corporations can enter Iraq, and they essentially don't have to contribute at all to the economy of Iraq. The most harmful provision thus far has been the national treatment provision, which meant that the Iraqis could not give preference to Iraqi companies or workers in the reconstruction, and therefore, U.S. companies received preference in the reconstruction. They hired workers who weren't even from Iraq, in most cases, and utterly bungled the reconstruction.

And the most important company, in my mind, to receive blame is the Bechtel Corporation of San Francisco. They have received $2.8 billion to rebuild water, electricity and sewage systems, the most important systems in the life of an Iraqi. After the first Gulf War, the Iraqis rebuilt these systems in three months' time. It’s been three years, and, as you said, those services are still below pre-war levels.

I'm not sure there was a formal plan. That this was Bush's intent is indisputable in my eyes.

And this is typical of Bush's way of dealing with difficult situations. Make sure the big guys get the spoils.
In the immediate cleanup and restoration of infrastructure [in NOLA], big outside contractors were getting most of the work and local/small businesses were getting the crumbs.

I hope this information makes your skin crawl. If not...

(read more)

Israel increases defense budget by 453 mln USD

I gotta laugh at this one. Hahaha. There, I feel much better. The reason for the laughing? Simple the increase of 453 USD will be in USD provided by US.

OK, I'm wrong. That isn't funny at all. My bad.

(read more)

Must Read IMHO

Just in case you thought the NKorean situation was fairly simple though dangerous. This article will definitely make your head spin.
After the North Korean nuclear-weapon test of October 9, the leading countries of the six-party talks have initiated a blame game to point out who is in a position to receive the greatest profit from Pyongyang's action.

Conservatives in China argue that the Japanese will likely gain most from the test: a long-awaited excuse to develop Japan's nuclear capabilities and forfeit the country's pacifist constitution.

Conservatives in Japan, on the other hand, blame China for still cozying up to Kim Jong-il, the North Korean leader, and for having been tardy in applying strong economic sanctions against defiant Pyongyang.

In South Korea, opposition rises against President Roh Moo-hyun, holding him responsible for being too lenient with the North, and for having failed to accomplish anything substantial with the Pyongyang regime, putting the country in greater jeopardy, as now the South is also under the threat of North Korea's nuclear bombs.

The American masses divide the blame among all the other countries.

Only Russia among the members of the six-party talks remains silent, being some kind of observer.

(read more)

Quote of the day

U.N.: Globalization threatens livestock

Some new victims of globalization as the world's corporations spread their tentacles.
The United Nations says around 20 percent of domestic animal breeds are at risk of extinction, with a breed lost each month, because of globalization.

The reason, the Rome-based U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization said, is livestock markets favor high-output breeds over a multiple gene pool that could be vital for future food security.

"Maintaining animal genetic diversity will allow future generations to select stocks or develop new breeds to cope with emerging issues, such as climate change, diseases and changing socio-economic factors," said the secretary of FAO's Commission on Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture, Jose Esquinas-Alcazar.

But, of more than 7,600 breeds in the FAO global database of farm animal genetic resources, 190 have become extinct in the past 15 years and 1,500 more are deemed at risk of extinction according to a draft report. The final version is expected in September.

Some 60 breeds of cattle, goats, pigs, horses and poultry have been lost over the last five years, according to the draft presented to FAO headquarters last week.

Have we humans found a way to undue evolution because it sure looks like it? Just asking.

(read more)

This Can't Be Good

Iraqi Red Crescent Refugee Camp

Although the Red Crescent's actions make perfect sense, this is no time for them to go AWOL. People are suffering, losing friends and family and undoubtedly hunting for family members gone missing. That's Red Crescent's mandate and they will leave a huge void.

I'm hopeful only administrative work will stop and not the day-to-day operation of refugee camps like the one shown above.
The Iraqi Red Crescent today closed all of its Baghdad branches, a day after gunmen staged a brazen mass kidnapping.

About 30 employees and visitors were kidnapped yesterday, and 16 of those were released unharmed the same day, a Red Crescent spokesman said today.

“We gave orders to our Baghdad staff to stop working until further notice. We renew our calls for the release of the kidnapped persons,” said Mazin Abdellah, the Iraqi Red Crescent’s secretary-general.

He added that the group’s offices in other Iraqi provinces were fully operational.

(read more)

What am I missing here?

This is laudable without a doubt, but why is the government funding it at all? If its individuals acting on their own I can sort of understand it, but not if the funding is going to NGOs.
The State Department announced a $1 million emergency fund Thursday to help cover such expenses as legal fees and medical bills for human rights activists.

The fund is meant to pay short-term bills for people who take great risks by defending human rights "in countries where tyranny persists," the department said.

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice also redefined U.S. goals and expectations for international treatment of independent groups that promote democracy and human rights.

People should be able to freely join such groups, which the State Department calls non-governmental organizations or NGOs, and the groups should be free to act within international law, the department said.

"Whenever NGOs and other human rights defenders are under siege, freedom and democracy are undermined. The world's democracies must push back," Rice said in commemorating national human rights week. "We must defend the defenders." [emphasis mine]

So when is a NGO not a NGO? Or is this the first step in Bushco's trying to infiltrate and gain some leverage over them?

(read more)

Must Read IMHO

This is a very fine article by Nat Hentoff. Aren't they all?
During the mutual-admiration hearing before the Senate Committee on Armed Services—which led to the unanimous confirmation of former CIA chief Robert Gates to be Donald Rumsfeld's successor—no senator asked Gates if he approves of the Pentagon's "extreme . . . emergency" insistence on a $125 million appropriation to construct a permanent compound for a war-crimes court at Guantánamo. There, in 2007, war-crimes trials will be held for dozens of Guantánamo "detainees." The facilities will accommodate simultaneous proceedings.

Unlike the Nuremberg war-crimes trials of the Nazis, there will be no government officials in the dock, but rather—as detailed in my last column—prisoners against whom the United States has itself committed war crimes under the Geneva Conventions and our own War Crimes act. These crimes include their conditions of confinement and a total lack of the due process that the Supreme Court ordered in Rasul v. Bush (2004) and Hamdan v. Rumsfeld (2006).

(read more)

U.S. Military Deaths in Iraq at 2,946

Damn that's getting very close to 3,000. And that's only the dead. Thousands more have been maimed. How many lives are those oil fields worth, George? Just asking.
As of Sunday, Dec. 17, 2006, at least 2,946 members of the U.S. military have died since the beginning of the Iraq war in March 2003, according to an Associated Press count. The figure includes seven military civilians. At least 2,359 died as a result of hostile action, according to the military's numbers.

The AP count is 11 higher than the Defense Department's tally, last updated Friday at 10 a.m. EST.

The British military has reported 126 deaths; Italy, 33; Ukraine, 18; Poland, 18; Bulgaria, 13; Spain, 11; Denmark, six; El Salvador, five; Slovakia, four; Estonia, Netherlands, Thailand, two each; and Australia, Hungary, Kazakhstan, Latvia, Romania, one death each.

(read more)

Is Bush about to get US in a JAM?

Larry Johnson seems to think so and he's probably more knowledgable on Iraq than is Bush. Hell, We're all probably more knowledgable on Iraq.
It is no surpise that Maliki returned to Iraq and is making a desperate bid to align himself now with Hakim and the "moderates" in the current government and is signaling he will abandon al Sadr. Bush, in his zeal for a deal in Iraq, is either ignorant or oblivious to the fact the al Hakim (a recent visitor to the White House) is closely aligned with Iran; in contrast to al Sadr who is more independent. Notwithstanding these facts the "Decider"-in-Chief" has rolled the dice and will try to rub out Sadr's JAM. He also is betting he can do so without provoking a full scale revolt among the Shia.

Ah, but here's the rub. When you attack al Sadr you elevate his status. He becomes the face of the Iraqi opposition. Unlike the Jordanian Zarqawi, who met his end in June, a martyred al Sadr becomes more powerful in life than in death. It is not a question of "will the Shia retaliate"? They will. And in the process U.S. forces will once again "make" news destroying neighborhoods and civilians in Sadr City as the insurgent forces melt away; just as we did and they did in Fallujah.

But unlike Fallujah, the Shia can hurt us and hurt us bad. The vast majority of the supplies--the food, water, bullets, and bandages--sustaining our troops in Iraq flow from Kuwait in the south along the highway the (sic) runs through the middle of Shia-controlled territory in Iraq. If the Shia retaliate, as they have in the past, our lines of communication will be in jeopardy, at least over the short term.

(read more)

How much effort should be expended on not catching terrorists?

Just how does the US explain US Special Forces in a foreign country in a shootout anyway? Just asking.

Yep no doubt about it. Rumsfeld is the best secretary of defense in US history.
Mr. Cheney’s declaration that “Don Rumsfeld is the finest secretary of defense the nation has ever had,” was more in keeping with the tone of the event.

Of course he only made a few stupendously stupid decisions such as this one.
U.S. Special Forces teams sent overseas on secret spying missions have clashed with the CIA and carried out operations in countries that are staunch U.S. allies, prompting a new effort by the agency and the Pentagon to tighten the rules for military units engaged in espionage, according to senior U.S. intelligence and military officials.

The spy missions are part of a highly classified program that officials say has better positioned the United States to track terrorist networks and capture or kill enemy operatives in regions such as the Horn of Africa, where weak governments are unable to respond to emerging threats.

But the initiative has also led to several embarrassing incidents for the United States, including a shootout in Paraguay and the exposure of a sensitive intelligence operation in East Africa, according to current and former officials familiar with the matter. And to date, the Special Forces espionage effort has not led to the capture of a significant terrorism suspect.


The program was approved in the aftermath of the Sept. 11 attacks by Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld, and is expected to get close scrutiny by his successor, Robert M. Gates, who takes over Monday and has been critical of the expansion of the military's intelligence operations.

Gawd I'm glad to see Rummy gone.

(read more)

US against everyone else...again

This is an increasingly unsettling display of Bush's insistence he knows all.
The stakes are high. A war between Muslim Somalia and Christian-ruled Ethiopia could rapidly engulf the entire Horn of Africa, sucking in neighbouring Eritrea, Djibouti, Kenya, Sudan and even Yemen. It would give Islamic jihadists the chance to establish a new front in Africa after Iraq and Afghanistan, and to wage another proxy war between East and West. For ordinary Somalis, war would shatter the first six months of peace they have enjoyed in 15 years, the result of the council’s banishment of the warlords who had turned Somalia into one of the world’s most dangerous and lawless countries.

The chances of a last-minute compromise have been seriously undermined by a deepening rift between the US and governments in Europe over the nature of the problem and how to address it. “The Americans are simply not prepared to listen to anyone else’s point of view,” one diplomat complained angrily. “They have made their mind up.”

I guess for George the Middle East debacle isn't enough. He needs to stand by and watch another conflict unfold.

(read more)

Sunday, December 17, 2006

The War On Christmas™

This is the headline.
Katrina's victims face a second Christmas without hope

Actually its a very fine article about a conservative judge who is livid about the Bush government's response to Katrina.

But at least Bushco is doing all it can to ruin Christmas for as many as possible. Way to go George. We appreciate your help.

(read more)


This is amazing considering its Moscow.
About 2,500 Russians rallied in central Moscow to protest recent electoral law changes that the demonstrators said is enlarging Kremlin's growing authoritarianism.

The protesters were met on Saturday by thousands of helmeted riot police, soldiers, attack dogs and a circling helicopter.

Opposition leaders said the show of force revealed the Kremlin's fear of dissent.

I applaude the courage of these protestors. Would that the same thing happen in the US to challenge our authoritarian government.

Of course, the protestors were put down and many arrested.

(read more)

Another mass kidnapping in Baghdad

The exact number is still a little sketchy.
Gunmen in Iraqi army uniforms staged a mass kidnapping on Sunday at the office of the Iraqi Red Crescent in downtown Baghdad, police said.

An official of the Iraqi aid group said the assailants abducted 20 to 30 employees and visitors, but left women behind. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because of security concerns.

Police, however, said they did not know how many people were kidnapped at the office in Andalus square. They said the gunmen arrived at the office in five pickup trucks.

(read more)

US, NKorea to meet before nuclear talks

Some remarks from Christopher Hill who will represent the US in one-on-one talks with NoKorea.
The top US and North Korean negotiators on Pyongyang's nuclear program were due to meet one-on-one in the Chinese capital on Sunday, ahead of the resumption of six-way talks stalled since last year.

US envoy Christopher Hill was due to meet with his counterpart Kim Kye-Gwan after arriving in Beijing amid North Korean calls for Washington to end its "hostile policy" toward the isolated state.

"What the DPRK (North Korea) needs to do is to get serious with denuclearization," Hill said upon arriving in Beijing.

"If they get serious with denuclearization, a lot of good things can happen ... if they do not get serious about denuclearization such things will go away."

Maybe this is why he's taking the posture he is.
Unlike all the previous wars Korea fought, a next war will be better called the American War or the DPRK-US War because the main theater will be the continental US, with major cities transformed into towering infernos. The DPRK is now the fourth-most powerful nuclear weapons state just after the US, Russia, and China.

The DPRK has all types of nuclear bombs and warheads, atomic, hydrogen and neutron, and the means of delivery, short-range, medium-range and long-range, putting the whole of the continental US within effective range. The Korean People's Army also is capable of knocking hostile satellites out of action.

Its all very scary stuff. And we still have an idiot for a president.

(read more)

To hell with nature. Gotta have energy

This is another post about how we humans are destroying the world around us in our quest for fuel. Perhaps I'll get to a nice long essay on the subject, but am probably far too lazy to actually do it.
At least 1,000 orang-utans have been killed in fierce forest fires in Indonesia, hastening the species' headlong rush to extinction within the next decade.

The fires, the worst in a decade and which reached their peak last month, sent a thick pall of smoke across the region, closing airports and forcing drivers to use headlights at noon. Conservationists believe that many were deliberately lit to make room for plantations to grow palm oil - much of it, ironically, to meet the world's growing demand for environmentally friendly fuel.

Their greatest victim is the orang-utan - Asia's only great ape - which is so endangered that many experts believe that it will become extinct in the wild over the next 10 years. Some 50,000 of them, at most, still survive, and about 5,000 are thought to perish every year as the rainforests on which they depend are felled.

(read more)

Person of the Year: You

Wow!!!1!! Feeling special, much?
Who are these people? Seriously, who actually sits down after a long day at work and says, I'm not going to watch Lost tonight. I'm going to turn on my computer and make a movie starring my pet iguana? I'm going to mash up 50 Cent's vocals with Queen's instrumentals? I'm going to blog about my state of mind or the state of the nation or the steak-frites at the new bistro down the street? Who has that time and that energy and that passion?

The answer is, you do. And for seizing the reins of the global media, for founding and framing the new digital democracy, for working for nothing and beating the pros at their own game, TIME's Person of the Year for 2006 is you. [emphasis mine]

(read more)

Another Great Quote

But... we aren't at war

Yes, our troops are fighting and many on both sides are dying, but war was never declared. Only Congress can declare war and they haven't done so. Everyone seems to overlook that "tiny" fact.
Federal agents continue to eavesdrop on Americans' electronic communications without warrants a year after President Bush confirmed the practice, and experts say a new Congress' efforts to limit the program could trigger a constitutional showdown.

High-ranking Democrats set to take control of both chambers are mulling ways to curb the program Bush secretly authorized a month after the Sept. 11 attacks. The White House argues the Constitution gives the president wartime powers to eavesdrop that he wouldn't have during times of peace.


The next move falls to the Democrats who take control in January and are considering a proposal to demands (sic) Bush get warrants and others lengthening the time between surveillance and when a warrant must be obtained.

In fact, there is more peace between NoKorea and SoKorea who are at war. From
And the war isn't over-- North and South Korea are still technically at war.

(read more)

An eclectic offering

He's just practicing to be a future blogger. From Overheard in New York.
Toddler pointing out window: Fuck, fuck.
Mother: No, that's 'truck.' Tuh-tuh-tuh-truck.
Toddler: Tuh-tuh-tuh-fuck.
Mother: Oh, man.

--Dean & Deluca

Quote of the day