Saturday, February 17, 2007

Experts: Iranian unit not arming Iraq militias

More evidence Bush is on shaky ground when he accuses Iran's secretive Quds Force of supplying arms to Shiite militias.
Iran's secretive Quds Force, accused by the United States of arming Iraqi militants with deadly bomb-making material, has built an extensive network in the war-torn country, recruiting Iraqis and supporting not only Shiite militias but also Shiites allied with Washington.

Still unclear, however, is how closely Iran's top leadership is directing the Quds Force's operations and whether Iran has intended for its help to Shiite militias to be turned against U.S. forces.

Iran likely does not want a direct confrontation with American troops in Iraq but is backing militiamen to ensure Shiites win any future civil war with Iraqi Sunnis after the Americans leave, several experts said Thursday.

The Quds Force's role underlines how deeply enmeshed Iran is in its neighbor and how the U.S. could face resistance even from its allies in Iraq if it tries to uproot Iran's influence in the country.

...

At most, Iran's entire Quds Force probably numbers only about 2,000, only about 800 of whom are core operatives, according to Abedin, the expert at the London-based [Center for the Study of Terrorism] think tank.

Abedin doubted the Quds Force was directly giving militias weapons, arguing that militias have their own domestic networks for building and obtaining weapons. But he said Quds undoubtedly was providing intelligence and other organizational help.

"It would be very incriminating and dangerous for Iran to directly supply weapons to the militias, and it's not a part of Iranian policy to directly confront the Americans," he said.

Instead, the goal is likely "to enable these armed formations ... to gain an advantage over their Sunni rivals" in the battle for power that Iran expects could erupt later.

"They are looking to beyond, when the Americans withdraw," he said. "They see the Shiite militias as natural allies."

This is considered thinking ahead or looking at the big picture, two things Bush finds impossible to do.

(read more)

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This is a problem US healthcare doesn't need


A potential pool of 17,000 nurses, sorely needed in the US is quarantined.
The Philippine government is to appeal a move by the US to ban some 17,000 nurses who passed the 2006 nursing examination amid allegations of mass cheating.

The United States Commission on Graduates of Foreign Nursing Schools (CGFNS) issued the temporary ban this week insisting that Filipino nurses retake sections of the 2006 examination where mass cheating took place.

President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo on Friday ordered Labor Secretary Arturo Brion to appeal the decision.

The order comes after a nursing review centre disclosed it had leaked answers to some students who took the examinations.

The scandal rocked the country's medical profession and cast a shadow over the quality of its nurses, who are in high demand overseas, especially in the United States, Europe and the Middle East.

The story goes on to say the students will be re-tested, so the ban may be short lived, but my guess is the nurses are now more likely to opt for the UK or other European countries since they'll consider this ban a slap in the face.

Its quite unfortunate, but demanding re-examination before authorizing these graduates to work in the US or anywhere else only makes sense.

Its quite unfortunate in another aspect. A couple years ago I was hospitalized for two weeks, twice, after major surgeries. One week I was in intensive care. During those hospital stays I had a large number of nurses attend me around the clock. They were all very good at their jobs. They were all, with the exception of one male nurse, Filipinas.

(read more)

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FDA warns about dangerous Internet drug mistake

A drug used to treat schizophrenia was mailed to some consumers who had ordered other medications via the Internet, and several users had to seek emergency treatment because they could not breathe, U.S. health officials said on Friday.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration said that instead of receiving the products they ordered, some consumers were sent the prescription drug haloperidol. Several patients had to seek emergency care after taking the pills, the agency said without citing a specific number.

Sold legally as Haldol by Johnson & Johnson and in other generic versions, the anti-psychotic drug is know (sic) to cause muscle spasms, muscle stiffness, agitation and sedation.

...

The agency said those who have received medications from an Internet seller should compare them to photos of the faulty orders, which can be seen on the FDA's Web site[.]

(read more)

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States may/can divert conservation funds

As always, the devil's in the damn details. And typical of the GOP, what you hear them say ain't necessarily so until you see it down in black and white. And fairly typical of all Congress critters, they often don't really read bills they vote for.
Four lucky states were slated to share billions in potential royalties courtesy of an offshore drilling expansion signed into law last year, money that could help reverse decades of environmental damage from coastal industry. But as budget planning gets under way, the states are beginning to realize that Congress gave them far more freedom in spending the windfall than the political rhetoric in Washington suggested.

Particularly, one little-noticed sentence in the legislation allows the states to use their money on "onshore infrastructure projects" to mitigate outer continental shelf activities. Translation: They can use it to pave roads, erect bridges, lay water lines or finish just about any other public works projects they can link to the coast.

"It is very tempting," said Bill Walker, executive director of the Mississippi Department of Marine Resources. "I would not be surprised as these funds begin to come in and get larger and larger that there will be people at the state level saying, 'We need to do this or that or the other thing.' We'll try to keep them focused on doing environmental and conservation things, but they make the rules."

Louisiana lawmakers moved last year to bar the state from using the drilling revenues for anything but wetlands and coastal preservation. Voters passed a referendum cementing the arrangement.

But the other three states — Alabama, Mississippi and Texas — have no such restrictions.

The new funding, which could pay for projects such as wetlands restoration and the purchase of sensitive coastal property for conservation, was a strong environmental sweetener that helped push the measure through Congress

...

For environmentalists, whose criticism of the drilling expansion was somewhat muted, in part because of the new money for goals they support, the uncertainty surrounding the revenues is a bitter pill.

"Call me cynical, but I think if you give these states the opportunity to spend this money on building roads, they'll spend it on building roads," said Aaron Viles, campaign director for the New Orleans-based Gulf Restoration Network.
.
(read more)

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Islamic totalitarianism, huh?

Bush has two moles removed from his face

Here at SPIIDERWEB™ we provide you with an exclusive picture of one of the moles. Funny I'd never noticed this on his face before, but then I rarely look at his face.



(read more)

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Cat Blogging


Smokin'

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Not too subtle


Some countries don't mince words when it comes to cigarette warning labels.

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Must Read IMHO


This is the one of the mustest must reads I've directed you to.

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Friday, February 16, 2007

Fortune: Year of Pig Will Bring Disaster

File under: I hope to hell not.
Sunday marks the start of the Chinese New Year and it's a lucky one for those starting out in life. But the rest of us are in for a rough ride. Expect epidemics, disasters and violence in much of the world.

"The Year of the Pig will not be very peaceful," said Hong Kong feng shui master Raymond Lo.

Feng shui is the ancient Chinese practice of trying to achieve health, harmony and prosperity by using specific dates, numbers, building design and the placement of objects.

(read more)

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US push opposed in Washington, not Baghdad

Uh, the SURGE™ is working great because the insurgents aren't out there. Duh!

Does Bush and the military think the insurgents are as stupid as they think Americans are?
A US and Iraqi drive to wrest back control of Baghdad from illegal militias was meeting little resistance on the ground, but the war plan faced a barrage of opposition in Washington.

On the first weekly day of Muslim prayers since the operation was launched, American and Iraqi police and military units were Friday pushing into central city districts that have been the scene of recent sectarian carnage.

The operation started making headway just as lawmakers in the US House of Representatives prepared to vote on a motion to criticise President George W. Bush for sending extra American troops to carry it out.

This non-binding resolution will not prevent the White House from pushing ahead with its "surge" strategy of increasing US troop levels by 21,500, but could pave the way for tougher legislation down the line.

The vote was to take place later Friday.

In Baghdad, there was no sign of organised resistance, although one Iraqi unit was hit by a roadside bomb on the Mohammed al-Qasim highway, leaving one officer dead and a soldier wounded, a defence ministry official said.

"We've got no large scale attacks today, there have been some sporadic small arms fire engagements," said US military spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Scott Bleichwehl, confirming troops had not faced major opposition.

A column of US armoured vehicles accompanied by Iraqi police headed into an administrative area of Rusafa near the Shorja market, where on Monday more than 70 people were killed by a devastating series of car bombs.

Bleichwehl said patrols would be on the look out for more car bombs in Rusafa, Baghdad's central commercial area, and carry out weapons searches further north in Sunni and Shiite neighbourhoods of the Adhamiyah district.

"We have operations ongoing in the majority of the security districts, with a focus in Adhamiyah and Rusafa," he told AFP. "I don't have the number of individual patrols but it's in the thousands."

International analysts said it seems Shiite militia and Sunni insurgent groups had decided to keep to the shadows and prepare their next move during the sweep, which was announced in detail two months ago.

(read more)

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Hamas Cabinet resigns to bring Fatah into government

Heaven forbid the US gives this government a chance to survive.
Palestinian prime minister Ismail Haniyeh of Hamas has formed a new government with the moderate Fatah movement, but he faces unresolved internal disputes and a reported warning of a US boycott.

Yesterday, Haniyeh and his government resigned and President Mahmoud Abbas of Fatah appointed him to form the new team, based on last week’s agreement in the Muslim holy city of Mecca to split power between the two rivals.

Mr Haniyeh has five weeks to put together a new Cabinet. During that period, Hamas and Fatah need to resolve deep disputes over control of the security forces and whether to dismantle a separate Hamas militia.

However, even if the coalition is formed, it appears increasingly unlikely it will win international backing. The new government’s political programme falls short of a key condition by the international community, explicit recognition of Israel. Instead, it contains a vague promise to “respect” international agreements, at best implying recognition.

Hamas is considered a terror group by the US, the EU and Israel, and the Hamas-led government was targeted by a crippling international aid boycott.

Isn't an "implied" recognition of Israel a step forward? Just asking.

The world isn't black and white, regardless of what Bush thinks. Tiny steps are OK. Today the coalition implies recognition of Israel and soon may demonstratively accept Israel. We have to wait and see, but accept what's offered now.

Oh yeah, "considered a terror group" by a psychotic administration, Bush's poodle and a paranoid nation. No problem for me.

(read more)

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New international deal on global warming agreed in Washington

This has to be the most lamed ass news report I've ever seen.
A new international agreement has been reached on tackling global warming.

World leaders have been meeting in Washington.

Developing nations will have to face targets for cutting greenhouse gas emissions as well as rich countries.

It comes as researchers in the US reveal January was the hottest on record across the planet.

Its the equivalent of: some people met and discussed some important shit and came to some agreements. Oh yeah, it was in Washington DC.

(courtesy link)

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We need a hero

And we got your hero right here.
A fast-thinking pilot fooled a gunman who had hijacked a plane flying from Africa to the Canary Islands.

The pilot braked hard on landing then quickly accelerated to knock the man down so travellers could pounce on him, Spanish officials said today.

(read more)

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Huh?

Can anyone tell me how spiiderweb.blogspot.com is showing up at http://www.pkblogs.com/spiiderweb/?

This is so bizarre.

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Indonesia to resume sending H5N1 samples to WHO


Hahaha. Those sneaky Indonesians.

Just joking. This is a shrewd move on their part. Its about time countries insist they be treated equally. Jakarta had a trump card and played it.
Indonesia will resume sharing bird flu samples with the World Health Organisation (WHO), but under a new mechanism aimed at ensuring developing nations get access to vaccines, the health minister and the WHO said on Friday.

In a controversial move, Jakarta last week declared it would only share its H5N1 bird flu virus samples with parties who agreed not to use them for commercial reasons and had stopped sharing them with the WHO.

"We agree to responsible sharing practices and we're going to do it soon," Health Minister Siti Fadillah Supari told reporters.

She said that a proposal would be drawn up that would be fair and guarantee access for any products resulting from the sharing of samples to other developing countries.

(read more)

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US gives Kenya $12.7 mln to help graft fight

This shit writes itself. Halliburton's and Parsons' pockets are full?
The United States has given Kenya $12.7 million to stop graft in government procurement, which has traditionally offered the richest pickings for corruption, the U.S. ambassador to Kenya said on Friday.

It is the first positive signal to Kenya from a Western government after years of criticism by donors about how President Mwai Kibaki's administration has handled the battle against graft, a daily fact of life for most Kenyans.

"It reflects our judgment that Kenya is making progress in fighting corruption. We hope this will reinforce those efforts and give them momentum," U.S. Ambassador to Kenya Michael Ranneberger told reporters.

(read more)

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US to take in more Iraqi refugees

File under big fat fucking deal.
The Bush administration will allow 7,000 Iraqi refugees into the United States and says it will pay more to help Iraq's Arab neighbours cope with the human tide fleeing the violence and economic hardship.

The move comes after the US came under heavy criticism for taking in only 202 Iraqi refugees in 2006.

The State Department also said on Wednesday that it would offer $18 million to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees to help displaced Iraqis.

It is estimated around four million Iraqis have fled their homes and their country as violence continues.

Bush's decision to invade and occupy a sovereign (why isn't it spelled sovren so I don't have to always look it up?) nation has driven 4,000,000 (count the zeros) Iraqis to leave and he's willing to accept 7,000 (count the zeros) refugees into the US? What a wonderful king.

(read more)

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Origami dragon update

I posted earlier I'm getting many hits by people searching on "origami dragon" and the hits just keep coming.

The only other two searches to drive so many hits were Neil Young and Sharon Tay.

Now this post should get most everyone. Hahaha.

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Must Read IMHO

Check out Eli's post.

We have to keep pounding away at this. Bush has no evidence Iran is supplying Iraqi insurgents with munitions. None, nada, zilch, zero.

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Do you know shit from Shinola?

Its an American phrase. And it isn't really germane here, but I couldn't resist.

Do you know your Shi'ite from your Sunni?

Even with all the reading I do, a couple of the 8 questions were difficult. My score? Uh, pretty good.


YES!!!1!!

Take the quiz your own self.

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No comment

We're here to help you. We meaning li'l ol' me

As a service to SPIIDERWEB™ readers I offer the following.
Ever have something you want to say and don't know the right word? Try the reverse dictionary.

Need to convert something into something else? Go to the conversion site.

Wanna know what time it is in Istanbul? We got ya covered with the world clock.

Need help with English? We have help for ya at Writing English.

Maybe you're interested in military warnings. Got a few military warnings here.

Perhaps now's a good time for a diversion? Well, monkeybriefs qualifies.

Do you have something like a stereo or dvd player and lost the instruction manual? Not to worry. You can probably find one at this site.

And finally, for now.
The secret recipies you never thought you could duplicate. secret recipies revealed.

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Happy Chinese New Year!



Yeah, I know I'm early, but that's just me.

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Must Read IMHO

Ya want broadband? We've got your broadband right here. Hahaha. Just kidding.

Ya gotta go to Japan for that.

(read more)

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Pelosi: Bush lacks power to invade Iran

Finally! Pelosi and Murtha are asserting themselves.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Thursday that
President Bush lacks the authority to invade Iran without specific approval from Congress, a fresh challenge to the commander in chief on the eve of a symbolic vote critical of his troop buildup in Iraq.

Pelosi, D-Calif., noted that Bush consistently said he supports a diplomatic resolution to differences with Iran "and I take him at his word."

At the same time, she said, "I do believe that Congress should assert itself, though, and make it very clear that there is no previous authority for the president, any president, to go into Iran."

Pelosi spoke in an interview in the Capitol as lawmakers plowed through a third day of marathon debate in the House on a nonbinding measure opposing the administration's plan to increase troop strength in Iraq — and as Democrats readied a more provocative challenge to the president.

That included drafting legislation to require the Pentagon to meet certain standards for training and equipping the troops, as well fixing the time that military units must be given at home between deployments. "That stops the surge (in troops) for all intents and purposes, because ......they cannot sustain the deployment," said Rep. John Murtha of Pennsylvania, who said he would attach the conditions to legislation providing nearly $100 billion for the military.

BTW, I hate that headline. That's a challenge to Bush to go ahead. I hope this is an anomaly and other news outlets won't use such phrasing.

(read more)

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A fixation on Google™

OK, Eli I throw down the gauntlet. Here are some Google™ searches which brought visitors my way.
dangers of too many x-rays
navy officer prostitution ring
tell mary i like her
ugly guy+beaufort+sabah

The internets tubes are fantastic, mystical and serendipitous.

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This is your government, America

Well I'll be damned. Fraud? Iraq? No oversight? Who would have guessed?
About $10 billion has been squandered by the U.S. government on Iraq reconstruction aid because of contractor overcharges and unsupported expenses, and federal investigators warned Thursday that significantly more taxpayer money is at risk.

The three top auditors overseeing work in Iraq told a House committee their review of $57 billion in Iraq contracts found that Defense and State department officials condoned or allowed repeated work delays, bloated expenses and payments for shoddy work or work never done.

More than one in six dollars charged by U.S. contractors were questionable or unsupported, nearly triple the amount of waste the Government Accountability Office estimated last fall.

The answer to who would have guessed is, of course, SPIIDERWEB™. Jesus H Christ driving drunk, I've been saying this here and here .

(read more)

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Thursday, February 15, 2007

Merck cuts price of Efavirenz in Thailand

If you believe this bullshit I'd like to talk to you about some choice land I have for sale in Louisiana's swamps.
Merck & Co. announced on Thursday price cuts for its HIV-AIDS drug, Efavirenz, in poor countries and those hard hit by the disease, including Thailand which plans to make copycat versions of the medicine.

Thailand, which shocked Merck in November when it announced plans to break the company's patent for Efavirenz, would see its price drop to 700 baht ($19.59) per patient per month.

Merck had previously sold Efavirenz at a non-profit price of 1,300 baht per treatment per month in Thailand, which plans to import Indian-made versions of the drug for 800 baht per month until it is available from Thailand's state-owned drug maker.

"Merck is lowering the price of the 600 mg formulation of Efavirenz due to efficiencies resulting from improved manufacturing processes," the company said.

A spokesman for Merck's Thai subsidiary also attributed the lower Thai price to a more favourable exchange rate.

I love it when corporations try to espouse how benevolent they are and how they're really concerned about people. Truth is, Merck would be unable to make any money in Thailand on Efavirenz if Thailand broke the patent. So they're just salvaging what they can. They're attempting to preserve some market share. This isn't rocket science. Companies work all the angles. Some income is better than none.

Let me go on record here. I don't think big pharma has an obligation to save people at their expense. I do feel they should take a financial hit in some situations. HIV-AIDS can't be cured. Merck's drugs just prolong life. For now that's the best we have. Jack up the prices a little on other drugs and give the HIV-AIDS drugs for free. Humanitarianism ain't a bad thing.

(read more)

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Cato institute recommends Iraq withdrawl

In a "real" think tank, unlike the Heritage Foundation or American Enterprise Institute, the folks actually do think. And the Cato institute thinks the US should get the hell out of Iraq.
The U.S. military occupation of Iraq has already cost more than 3,000 American lives and $350 billion. In a new policy analysis, "Escaping the Trap: Why the United States Must Leave Iraq," Ted Galen Carpenter, vice president for defense and foreign policy studies at the Cato Institute, argues for a rapid and comprehensive withdrawal from Iraq. "It is time to admit that the Iraq mission has failed and cut our losses. We need an exit strategy that is measured in months, not years," says Carpenter.

"Withdrawal will not be without cost," Carpenter concedes. "We can minimize that damage by refocusing our efforts on al Qaeda in Afghanistan and elsewhere, but there is no way to eliminate the damage. Whatever price we will pay for withdrawing from Iraq, however, must be measured against the probable cost in blood and treasure if we stay."

(read more)

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Some good news for a change

The good news is scientists may have identified the Achilles heel in the HIV.
Scientists have captured an image of the AIDS virus in a biological handshake with the immune cells it attacks, and said today they hope this can help lead to a better vaccine against the incurable disease.

They pinpointed a place on the outside of the human immunodeficiency virus that could be vulnerable to antibodies that could block it from infecting human cells.

US National Institutes of Health researcher Peter Kwong said the study, published in the journal Nature, may reveal HIV's long-sought "site of vulnerability" that can be targeted with a vaccine aimed at preventing initial infection.

"Having that site and knowing that you can make antibodies against it means that a vaccine is possible," Kwong said in a telephone interview.

"It doesn't say we've gotten there. But it's taken it off the list from an impossible dream and converted it to something that is a (mere) technical barrier."

Experts agree that a vaccine is the only hope of stopping the pandemic of AIDS, which has killed more than 25 million people since it was first recognized in 1981. About 40 million people now live with HIV, with sub-Saharan Africa hardest hit.

Note: I did the research and it appears HIV and AIDS are acceptably interchangeable terms even though they aren't quite the same thing.

(read more)

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Too Funny

It may be the mood I'm in at the moment or just my weird sense of humor. Not sure which, but I laughed rather uncontrollably for about five minutes after reading this over at Overheard in the Office.
Woman #1 sneezes, then looks terrified.
Woman #2: Are you alright?
Woman #1: I think I just blew out my tampon.

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President Bush in a nut house shell

During today's White House press conference, President Bush was asked if he thought Iraq is in the middle of a civil war.

The President replied: "It's hard for me living in this beautiful White House1 to give you an assessment, a first hand assessment. I haven't been there2. You have, I haven't. But I do talk to people who are3 and people whose judgment I trust4 and they would not qualify it as that. There are others who think it is5."

1 Read the word bubble.
2 A bold-faced lie and we've the pix to prove it.
3 Probably a lie. I doubt if he talks to anyone in Iraq.
4 That would be Cheney and Barney.
5 So my decision as the "decider" is...maybe?

Too kewl photo


(via Innings)

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So true


(via Indexed)

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Consider this a service to my readers?

There's a site called Coalition Casualty Count News. Most often I avoid it because its far too depressing.

However, if you want to know where people are being killed in Iraq and not just in Baghdad its the place to go. In addition, the site lists the names of the soldiers killed as soon as they can get that info from the government.

Too often we read about some soldier being blown into tiny pieces1 and have no idea where they came from. This site will identify the hometowns of the fallen.

Like I said, its a depressing, albeit very useful, site.

Now where the hell did I put my Prozac®?

1 Can't find the link right now, but one soldier said she hates the plastic bags they carry in the Hummers so they can collect the body parts of fallen comrades.

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Argh!!!1!!

When will people stop emailing me and addressing me as "sir madam". Am I not gender specific? Do I have to post a pic of my naughty bits so they'll know to which they are spamming? Just asking.

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Must Read IMHO

In an effort to bring all sorts of experiences to my readers, I offer you the following. If this doesn't make you violently ill, you have a problem.

Hey, I didn't promise you all the experiences would be pleasant now did I?
THE PRESIDENT: It’s an interesting question. One of the problems — not specifically on this issue, just in general — let’s put it this way, money trumps peace, sometimes. [emphasis in original]

That may well be the first honest words to come out of that fucker's mouth. Except he should say money always trumps peace.

OK, I'll be honest here. For years I've been unable to listen to the idiot son speak. His voice makes me physically ill. So I limited my exposure to transcripts of what he had to say. Now they produce the same physical reaction in me. I'm working on a way of avoiding any contact with "Bush words" until he's gone. OMG, I'm stuck with the Cartoon Network!

(read more)

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Living in the world of reality

This is priceless? Perhaps its just common sense or an honest assessment.

From a Hugh Hewitt interveiw with retired Army Colonel Stuart Herrington.
HH: Now an e-mail. Mr. Hewitt, can you ask the Colonel if we would authorize torture regarding someone who knows of a nuke about to go off in minutes or hours.

SH: Yeah, that’s the so-called ticking time bomb scenario. The difficulty with that is that that question poses a hypothetical which in my experience, I never ran into a hypothetical like that. If you pose the rectitude, or lack thereof, of torture based upon that hypothetical, you’re not really dealing in the real world. That’s my answer to that.

He shoots, he scores!!!1!! And hugh goes down in smoke.

Why can't the Dems do this? Just asking.

(via Balloon Juice)

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This Just In

File this under: Duh!
The Bush administration's latest attempt to show that the Iranian government is providing weapons to Iraqi Shi'ites undermines its political line by in fact revealing that it has been unable to find any real evidence.

Ya think the Asian Times reads SPIIDERWEB™? I've been posting for days the evidence is not conclusive and even General Pace has said so.

(read more)

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White House Opens Doors to Iraq Refugees

File under: Its about fucking time. Bush is creating the refugee problem without doing anything to help them. Of course Bush blames the UN.
The Bush administration plans to allow about 7,000 Iraqi refugees to settle in the United States over the next year, a huge expansion at a time of mounting international pressure to help millions who have fled their homes in the nearly four-year-old war.

Of course, 7,000 and even 20,000 are inadequate. Because the number is much larger according to this and this.

Truth is there are many thousand Iraqi refugees and the US won't let them come in.

It boggles the mind how Bush can fuck things up and completely ignore the plight of the people he has screwed. NOLA? Just asking.

(read more)

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Why are people hunting for origami dragons?

I've had many hits in the last couple days when people searched on "origami dragon". I posted a couple of them which were amazing here and here, if you're interested.

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Thank you, Bush, you fucking idiot

This might appear at first to be bad news, but...
India will soon test fire a new missile capable of carrying nuclear warheads across much of Asia and the Middle East, a top defence scientist claimed today.

In a bold marketing move, McDonald's® has announced they will start including in each Happy Meal® an ICBM and a nuclear warhead.

Of course, because they're a responsible company, each meal will include the warning such devices should never ever be used against others unless it is really really necessary.

(read more)

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Is global warming changing the weather?

Violent hurricanes, typhoons, record snowfall, ice storms in Texas and now this.
Snow fell on Nepal's capital, Kathmandu, for the first time in 63 years on Wednesday, stirring excitement and curiosity among residents and their children.

"I have never seen it snow in Kathmandu in all my life," said 45-year-old housewife Manju Shrestha, playing in the snow with her young children.

Weather officials said the brief snowfall, which lasted only a few minutes, was the result of a "westerly disturbance" over Nepal that earlier in the week caused heavy rains.

(read more)

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Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Something has gone terribly wrong


The United States of America is supposed to be the land of milk and honey where the streets are paved with gold. Uh, more likely the streets are paved with despair. Shall we take the tour?

Every night more than 1 million children in America face the dark with no place to call home. They are hungry, anxious and often exposed to violence. They shuttle between shelters and fall behind in school.


A new UNICEF report puts Britain and the United States at the bottom of the table of the best wealthy countries for children.


The number of unemployed persons (7.0 million) and the unemployment rate (4.6 percent) were about unchanged in January [2007].

Mayor Ray Nagin told a Senate committee Monday that the rebuilding of New Orleans is getting shortchanged in light of the billions poured into the war in Iraq, and he suggested racism is part of the explanation...


The United States ranked 28th in the world in infant mortality in 1998...

Five out of every 100 young adults enrolled in high school in October 1999 left school before October 2000 without successfully completing a high school program.

Other programs such as energy programs will get $4.1 billion (huge surprise), while 141 programs that primarily help the poor, children, the elderly, veterans and the handicapped will see their money drastically cut or eliminated.

The Democratic congressman who will investigate the Bush administration's running of the government says there are so many areas of possible wrongdoing, his biggest problem will be deciding which ones to pursue.

To be fair, some of these numbers are improving, but they should never have gotten so bad in the first place.

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The children are our future

The headline makes for a nice feel-good bumper sticker or sound bite, I can't ignore this study. All I can say is...fuck!
A new UNICEF report puts Britain and the United States at the bottom of the table of the best wealthy countries for children.

The study was of the 21 industrialized countries. So instead of hollering "We're number one!" we can start shouting "We're number 21!"? The United States of America can't care for its children? That's total bullshit.

Maybe its why 9 million US children suffer from psychological problems? Just asking
Studies consistently show that about 15 percent of the US population below age 18, or over 9 million children, have been diagnosed with a psychological problem that compromises their ability to function.

Come to think of it, the only list I've noticed recently which put the US at the top was countries' weapon sales. So I guess everything evens out.

(read more)

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Quote of the day

Stolen from Jill at Brilliant at Breakfast who found it at Jon Swift.

Hey, the big dogs reference each other all the time. We can too. This just struck me as a very clever way to put it all into perspective.

"I’m afraid that if Atrios declared Shoot Yourself in the Foot Day we might have a lot of liberal bloggers limping around right now."

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It has to be said

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Experts vs the public


I'm with Kevin Drum on this. I'm not sure what to make of this except there's usually a reason someone is labeled an "expert". It would indicate a person is intelligent and well informed on a subject. It further suggests a person has a good track record in correctly analyzing information and situations.

So my guess is the public is going on a gut feeling with limited expertise or knowledge. Yeah, I'm going on my gut feeling. But that's OK because I'm a blogger.
I'm not quite sure what to make of this, and I have to run out to an appointment in a minute, so I'll just post this and let everyone noodle over it. It comes from the second edition of the "Terrorism Index," a joint project of Foreign Policy magazine and the Center for American Progress that surveys equal numbers of (self-described) liberal and conservative national security experts. The full report is here. An excerpt is below. Question: Is the gap between the public and the experts surprising? Predictable? And does it mean anything?

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Inhofe and the Old/New Republicans

Everyone knows people who just can't handle reality. I gave up trying to convince my father people who weren't white Anglo-Saxons or didn't have a penis were just as intelligent and qualified as he.
After the Democrats won control of Congress last November, the conventional wisdom was that George W. Bush and other Republicans would look for ways to moderate far-right positions on key issues like the Iraq War and global warming, tacking closer to positions held by most American voters.

But that isn’t what happened. Instead, the Republican leadership has dug in its heels on Iraq, lambasted scientists who warn about climate change and – despite a few rhetorical concessions here and there – continued to support the same ol’ stuff.

In that sense, Sen. James Mountain Inhofe of Oklahoma may be the poster boy of modern Republicanism, the guy who puts the certainty of his instincts and ideology ahead of contrary facts.

As chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, Inhofe has steadfastly maintained that global warming is a “hoax” – and won’t back down whatever the overwhelming scientific consensus might be.

Inhofe used his Senate position to block any environmental legislation that would put burdens on business, especially the petroleum industry which filled his campaign coffers with at least $900,000 in the last funding cycle. Like Bush, Inhofe wanted nothing to do with the Kyoto Treaty and its requirements for cutting carbon-dioxide emissions.

Nearly 500 American cities – from Missouri hamlets to major cities like New York, Chicago and San Francisco – have challenged the Bush administration’s resistance to Kyoto by passing local legislation endorsing the accords.

But the nearer the issue of global warming has gotten to center stage the more vitriol Inhofe has poured on environmentalists, scientists and the media. Environmentalists became “Nazis,” the regulators at the Environmental Protection Agency were the “Gestapo,” the media’s references to global warming were a “hoax.”

Though this strategy of demeaning opponents didn’t work in Election 2006, Inhofe remained unbowed. The senator fired off a letter to various CEOs complaining that environmentalists were about to take over his committee and warning that Wall Street would not look kindly on executives who succumbed to the environmental agenda.

No sooner had Inhofe’s letter been delivered and his committee chairmanship been surrendered to Sen. Barbara Boxer of California than the Union of Concerned Scientists issued a report that ExxonMobil had engaged in a disinformation campaign aimed at discrediting findings about global warming.

ExxonMobil had pumped $16 million into at least 43 front groups, the scientific organization said. Within days, ExxonMobil announced it had ceased funding the groups and entered into talks with environmental organizations about what could be done to reduce greenhouse gases.

Well, it appears embarrassment may work or at least did with ExxonMobil.

BTW, this is the first time I'd heard about ExxonMobile's $16 million payout to 43 front groups. Its another indicator they're profits are just too damn large.

Updated: Changed "to damn large" to "too damn large". Jeez I hate it when i mix up to and too and they're and their and...

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Bush Iran War Agenda

Hillary Mann, the former National Security Council Director for Iranian and Persian Gulf Affairs under the Bush Administration from 2001 to 2004, has issued a sober warning to the public today concerning the Bush Administration's intentions with Iran.

In an interview this morning on CNN1, she accused the Bush Administration of "trying to push a provocative, accidental conflict," as a pretext to justify "limited strikes" on crucial nuclear and military infrastructures, as opposed to a large ground war as is the case with Iraq.

When asked why the Bush Administration was seeking to do this, she responded that it is a part of Bush's broader agenda for the Middle East to bring about a "democratization... peace and stability", to the region.

Of course, one only has to look back to history to see the Bush Administration's real agenda behind confronting Iran. Iran is only one piece of the puzzle in a broader, century long struggle by the US, Britain, and it's Western allies to secure the Middle East’s oil reserves.

1 “Defense Department Offers Evidence High-Level Iranian Leader Is Supplying Arms to Shiite Insurgents in Iraq.” American Morning. CNN. Feb 12, 2007
http://transcripts.cnn.com/TRANSCRIPTS/0702/12/ltm.03.html

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Where's Waldo?


Oops sorry. I meant where's Iraqi cleric Moqtada al-Sadr?
Radical Shi'ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr is still in Iraq and has not left for Iran, several of his aides said on Wednesday, after American officials suggested he may have departed to avoid an offensive against militants.

The conflicting reports over the anti-American cleric's whereabouts came after Iraq said on Tuesday it would close its borders with Iran and Syria and lengthen a night curfew in Baghdad to try to curb unrelenting violence in the capital.

Four Sadr aides said he was still in Iraq, with some saying he was in the holy Shi'ite city of Najaf but had reduced public appearances for "security reasons". They did not elaborate.

"He is now in Iraq," Nassar al-Rubaei, head of the Sadrist bloc in Iraq's parliament, said without giving further details.

Two U.S. officials in Washington spoke to Reuters about Sadr after the ABC News network reported he had fled to Iran because of fears he might be targeted by U.S. bombing raids and worries over his safety because of fracturing within his movement.

Speaking to Reuters on condition of anonymity, they said the U.S. military believed Sadr had left Iraq and was now in Iran.

It was a silly mistake really. Al-Sadr is not as thin as Waldo and always wears dark colors, usually black. Oh yeah, he has a beard too.


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Stop the SURGE™

Action you can take vis à vis the SURGE™.
Think Progress is keeping track of where every member of Congress stands on escalation — but we need your help. Call your members of Congress, ask their position, then use this form to send us their responses.

Please include your real name and zip code in your email. You can reach the Capitol switchboard toll-free at 800-614-2803. Just provide your zip code or ask for your members of Congress by name.

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Its not just your email Bushco wants to monitor

This is getting totally out of hand. It was outrageous enough to learn they were monitoring all email traffic, but this is fucking insane.
A bill introduced last week by Representative Lamar Smith (R-TX) is beginning to raise eyebrows.

[It] would require ISPs to record all users’ surfing activity, IM conversations and email traffic indefinitely. The bill, dubbed the Safety Act by sponsor Lamar Smith, a republican congressman from Texas, would impose fines and a prison term of one year on ISPs which failed to keep full records. (emphasis mine)


This is a terrifying development and it must be stopped before it gains any significant momentum. Background, Action items and contact information below the fold.

Under the guise of reducing child pornography, the SAFETY (Stopping Adults Facilitating the Exploitation of Today’s Youth) Act is currently the gravest threat to digital privacy rights on the Internet. Given the increasing tendency of people, especially young people, to use the Internet as a primary means of communication, this measure would affect nearly all Americans in ways we are only beginning to understand. Also, given the fact that the Act requires all Internet Service Providers to record the web surfing activity of all Internet users, this amounts to the warrantless wiretapping of the entire Internet.

Amazingly, although the bill was introduced and referred to the House Judiciary Committee on Tuesday Feb. 6, it has been virtually ignored by both the corporate media and major blogs alike.

Go over to the Seminal to read the whole post and get ideas about stopping this bill. The site also includes tons of email addresses for news outlets so you can pressure them into picking up this story.

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Maltese company implicated in arms trafficking to Iraqi insurgents

I've posted a couple times about the fact that finding explosives or other munitions in Iraq which have Iranian markings doesn't necessarily mean the Iranian government is supplying the insurgents. And this is exactly why.
Italian authorities yesterday announced they had interrupted an international arms trafficking deal that was to have operated between China, Malta, Italy and Libya, and which planned to supply hundreds of thousands of weapons to Iraqi insurgents, international media reported yesterday. The operation was to have seen an unnamed Maltese company acting as a middleman between Chinese weapons producers and Libyan buyers, who would, in turn, move the weapons on to Iraqi insurgents, according to coded emails recovered by Italian agents.

Now for a question. Had this transaction been successful, would Bush feel compelled to accuse the Chinese government of supplying weapons to the insurgents? Just asking.

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Stealth media

Check this out over at Big Shot Bob in Texas.

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Must Read IMHO

Just so you know what's going on now in Lebanon.
Bombs destroyed two commuter buses today in the small Christian community of Ain Alaq, in the mountains north of Beirut.

Reports of fatalities varied, but ranged from three (Red Cross, security forces) to 12 (LBC and other media sources.) Ten to 20 were wounded. The first bomb was apparently attached to the undercarriage of the first bus while the second was in a back seat on the second, according to my fixer, who is trying to find more info. I’ll update if this changes.

The wounded were civilians possibly traveling to work, marking a change in the two-year campaign of bombings and assassinations that has wracked Lebanon since the killing of Rafik Hariri on Feb. 14, 2005. Before, the attacks were either targeted assassinations of well-known anti-Syrian politicians and journalists or small bombs exploded in buildings late at night so as to minimize casualties. This seems aimed at Iraq- or Israel-style terror. Random, anywhere, pitiless.

Details are still emerging, but speculation is rampant. Was this Syria? Hezbollah? CIA? (A Hezbollah spokesman said it was the latter.) Was it a warning to the March 14 coalition not to attend the big rally planned for downtown tomorrow to mark the two-year anniversary of Hariri’s death?

To clarify, the story goes on to say speculation the CIA is behind the bombings is not unusual in the Mid-East and not necessarily correct.

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Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Suggested read


This is a clever article. It would be funnier if it weren't so damn true.

Anyway, it gives you some idea how someone in Australia views the great US of A.

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5 ousted U.S. attorneys received positive job evaluations

Uh, ya don't think someone's lying about all this do ya? Just asking
Although the Bush administration has said that six U.S. attorneys were fired recently in part because of "performance related" issues, at least five of them received positive job evaluations before they were ordered to step down.

Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, using authority he gained in March from a little-noticed provision of the Patriot Act, has appointed interim U.S. attorneys from the Bush administration's inner circle. The firings and appointments have raised concerns that Gonzales is politicizing the process.

Supporters of the U.S. attorneys and Justice Department officials familiar with the job evaluations suggested in interviews that top Justice Department officials may have exaggerated the role job performance played in the firings.

A Justice Department official who spoke on behalf of the administration said the dispute might simply be a matter of "semantics."

"Performance-related can mean many things," said the official, who asked to remain anonymous because the Privacy Act bars officials from discussing personnel decisions. "Policy is set at a national level. Individual U.S. attorneys around the country can't just make up their policy agenda."

Performance reviews of U.S. attorneys are conducted every three to four years by a team of experienced Justice Department officials, who interview judges, staff members, community leaders and federal agents. In some of the five cases, the reviewers made recommendations for improvements, but overall their assessments were positive, Justice Department officials said.

For instance, Daniel Bogden, the U.S. attorney in Nevada, was described in his last job performance evaluation in 2003 as being a "capable" leader who was highly regarded by the federal judiciary and investigators.

"He didn't get any dings," said a Justice Department official with knowledge of the review. "The overall evaluation was very positive."

Of course Bush is packing the courts. He doesn't even bother with "subtle" anymore.

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Joint Chiefs chairman sees no evidence of meddling by Iran's regime

Well whadda ya know. The military brass aren't all idiots.

A day after the U.S. military charged Iran's government with shipping powerful explosive devices to Shiite Muslim fighters in Iraq to use against American troops, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said Monday that he hasn't seen any intelligence to support the claim.

Marine Gen. Peter Pace's comment could make it harder for the Bush administration, its credibility about Iran questioned because of its false pre-war claims about Saddam Hussein, to make its case that Iranian meddling in Iraq is fueling sectarian violence and causing U.S. casualties.

At a briefing Sunday in Baghdad, U.S. military officials said the al-Quds Force, an elite Iranian paramilitary organization, is sending arms into Iraq that include bombs that shoot molten metal jets through the armor of American tanks and Humvees.

They said these "explosively formed projectiles," or EFPs, have killed 170 U.S. troops and wounded more than 600 others and are "coming from the highest level of the Iranian government."

Asked about the briefing during a visit Monday to Canberra, Australia, Pace said he couldn't substantiate the assertion that the clerical regime in Tehran is shipping such devices to Shiite militias in Iraq.

"We know that the explosively formed projectiles are manufactured in Iran. What I would not say is that the Iranian government per se knows about this," Pace replied. "It is clear that Iranians are involved and it is clear that materials from Iran are involved. But I would not say based on what I know that the Iranian government clearly knows or is complicit."

Neither the White House nor the Pentagon responded to requests for an explanation of the apparent contradiction between the nation's highest-ranking military officer and his subordinates in Baghdad.

Of course he's right because that's exactly what I've been saying. If the munitions are coming from Iran, and they well may be, it doesn't mean the Iranian government is involved at any level.

One does not bomb the hell out of a country on suspicions.

Of course, if Bush can claim these suspicions are facts and convince Americans of it, he will attack Iran. Or he will attack anyway. Right now no one is seriously putting in the effort to stop him.

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Ancient Chimps May Have Used Hammers

Very interesting report about chimpanzees and tools.


Chimpanzees may have been using stone "hammers" as long as 4,300 years ago. An international research team, led by archaeologist Julio Mercader of the University of Calgary, Canada, said Monday it had uncovered the hammers, dated to that time, in the West African country Ivory Coast. It would be the earliest known use of tools by chimpanzees.

The researchers went on to say, due to a lack of architects and other tools such as levels, the chimps were unable to build anything more sophisticated than this.


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Possible H5N1 avian flu in Philippines via Japanese egret

This demonstrates the danger of H5N1 avian flu. Its carried by birds and birds fly. Duh. No country is safe from it.
The Philippines urged people on Tuesday not to touch migratory birds in case they are infected with the H5N1 bird flu virus, after an egret believed to have flown from Japan died two days after being captured by a farmer.

"You can watch, but don't capture or touch migratory birds," Theresa Mundita Lim, director of the Protected Areas and Wildlife Bureau, told Reuters by phone.

The Philippines, a known sanctuary for migratory birds, has remained free of the virus that has killed at least 166 people worldwide but the death of the egret, captured on Feb. 5 in a village in central Sorsogon province, has sparked concern.

"There is no evidence at this time that would prove that the egret died of avian influenza," Lim said, adding it was not wise to exhume the bird for testing.

"The egret has a leg band that indicated it came from Japan."

Village officials in Sorsogon, 350 km (220 miles) southeast of Manila, presented the dead bird to the mayor, who ordered its immediate burial for fear it had avian flu, a newspaper reported.

Environment Secretary Angelo Reyes urged the public not to touch migratory birds, to prevent any possible human infection.

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Protest boats hit Japanese whaler


I'll go on record to say I'm very much anti-whaling, but this shit is unacceptable.
A Japanese whaling ship and protest vessels have collided in the southern ocean, with the protesters saying they will next ram a Japanese factory ship.

The Robert Hunter and the Farley Mowat, both Sea Shepherd Conservation Society ships, collided on Monday with Japanese whale spotter Kaiko Maru in the Ross Sea, south of New Zealand.

The Japanese vessel's propeller was damaged, forcing it to send a distress signal, said Hideki Moronuki, a Japanese fisheries spokesman.

...

"They are terrorists and their activities are piracy," Moronuki told Australian Broadcasting Corporation radio.

The protesters blamed the whalers for the collision, which punched a hole in the Robert Hunter's hull. The damage was not bad enough to force it to head back to port.

"For all this talk about extremism down here, what is extreme is the killing of endangered species in a whale sanctuary," said Paul Watson, Sea Shepherd founder and captain of the Farley Mowa. [emphasis mine]

The story goes on to say the whaler first sideswiped the protesters, but basically says the protesters intended to damage the whaler from the start. Note the highlighted passage. Harassing and obstructing a ship is one thing, but playing bumper boats with one is wrong.

Of course in cases like this where passions are high things will happen, but how about a little more intelligent behavior?

Interestingly enough, I found the above picture on the site for the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society. The protesters are lucky the other ship had no guns. Or doesn't that flag still mean what it has for hundred's of years? Just asking.

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NKorea nuclear talks appear to secure breakthrough

Who knew? It appears negotiating can work. Are you listening here, Bush?
Marathon talks aimed at ending North Korea's nuclear weapons drive have appeared to secure a major breakthrough with a joint agreement on first steps towards disarmament, according to envoys.

However, the deal still needed final approval from the governments of each of the six nations involved -- host China, the two Koreas, the United States, Japan and Russia -- and could yet fall apart, they warned.

Following 16 hours of gruelling negotiations here that finished at 2:00 am on Tuesday (1800 GMT Monday), envoys said China had circulated a draft joint statement outlining the initial actions Pyongyang would take to end its nuclear drive and the economic rewards it would receive in return.

US chief envoy Christopher Hill described the draft agreement as "excellent", and said he hoped China would be able to release a confirmed accord following one final round of meetings on Tuesday.

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As a service to my readers


To make the whole Libby trial simpler, even though I don't post about it, this is a photograph of many of the people who leaked Valerie Plane-Wilson's identity to Libby.

I think a couple janitors were involved, but they were unavailable for the photo.

And I should point out none of this has anything to do with whether Libby lied to the grand jury or not.

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Political advice: Don't hire a blogger

I'm sure you're all aware of the dust-up over Edward's hiring a couple bloggers for his campaign. My advice to all politicians is to not hire bloggers.

The site should be your voice. You don't need a blogger to create content.

What you need is a good web designer to set up your site and modify it as needed. You also need someone to post to the site. One or both people can surf blogs looking for posts that fit with your vision. They can then link to said posts with a disclaimer you embrace what is said in that post, but not necessarily any other post by that blogger.

The internet is world wide and, baring deletions, forever out there. I have fewer than 2,000 posts but wouldn't be able to scan every last one carefully to see if there's some sort of inflammatory content out there (there is in almost all my posts).

This is too bad. Most bloggers I know are passionate and could really use the money. There's also the prestige of working with/for a politician or a political candidate. But on balance its not a good idea to employ one.

All that said, I must defend Amanda. She's been an email friend and she's not any of the things the wingers have been accusing her of being. Well, except for the profanity thing, but fuck them if they can't handle it. Her resignation is, in my opinion, an example of her integrity and common sense although its also unfortunate.

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The logistics of a SURGE™

This is a pretty good article about the problems of logistically supporting 140,000 fighting personnel. If Bush sends in 21,000 more soldiers he needs thousands more to support them. And keep in mind that anyone in Iraq is a target.
As the theater commander Gen. John P. Abizaid told Congress last week, psychologically and bureaucratically, the budget, the personal lives of the soldiers and the institutions involved can't shoulder nor sustain any significant increase.

...

Someone has to operate the gyms, the internet cafes, provide the hot meals and hot water, the amenities that far too many in uniform expect and "require" at their bases. It is just a reality of U.S. military culture that the build-up (and the care and feeding of) the desk warriors and sustainers in the Green Zone, at Camp Victory at the old Saddam International Airport and at mega-bases like Balad is mightily responsible for the military failure on the ground.

But ol' bubble boy doesn't worry about such trifles. He's on a mission to salvage his legacy.

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Why bloggers matter


Not to beat a dead horse, but why are many bloggers picking up on that picture and dismantling it and the MSM aren't? This is part of the evidence the military is offering as "proof" Iranian officials are the bogeymen.
Markings on the Zelzal 2 rocket are in Farsi. On a similar note, Juan Cole crunches some numbers. Result: implausible. Looks like the Zelzal 3 has markings in Farsi too. Here's an anti-ship missile with Farsi on it.

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Don't understand global warming?

UPDATE: Although this may well be what a before and after pic of the earth might look like, the second one is of Jupiter's moon and not the earth. Sorry if I mislead anyone. The original source must also have been mistaken.

We have visual aids. Before.


After.


Got it?

(via Norm Roberts)

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First it was the cover of TIME and now this

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Poll: Most Doubt Iraq Peace, Iran Threat

In the following, I took the liberty to make a slight editorial modification
Two-thirds of Americans say the fighting in Iraq may be beyond the U.S. military's ability to control, according to the latest CBS News poll. Just 25 percent say the military can be effective in lessening the violence between Iraqis.

The war continues to take a toll on opinions about President Bush – his approval rating for handling Iraq is just 27 percent, and his overall job approval is just 32 percent – but the public is divided when it comes to what Congress should do about the war.

While 63 percent disapprove of the president's plan to send more troops to Iraq, there's a nearly even split on whether Congress should pass a nonbinding resolution expressing disapproval of the troop buildup: 44 percent favor passage of the measure and 45 percent are opposed maroons1.

1 For those who don't know. This is a US cartoon reference. Bugs Bunny says, "What a maroon" instead of "What a moron". K?

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Yes, I have habits, all bad, but...

My personality is best described as similar to that of Mother Teresa? God damn fucking son of a bitch.

Oops. I retract that last diatribe. Not befitting a saint now is it.

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NFL, shame on you

Please read this post over at Big Shot Bob in Texas. Then come back and read further.

When my eldest son, who had amazing skill as a running back, decided to forgo college and continue his football career I was disappointed. I loved cheering for him and watching his exploits. But I was also elated because it meant he would no longer get pummeled by even bigger brutes than he faced in high school.

Carrying that little pointy ended ball is equivalent to walking down a dark alley in a major city with wads of money in your hands.

Though I have little to no influence, I offer a challenge to all current and future NFL players. If you sign a contract for an obscene amount of money, like $33 million for 4 years, donate $1 million or more to the NFL retirement fund or whatever its called. It was the guys playing for hundreds of dollars and getting beaten to a pulp whose shoulders you're standing on. Help them. I'm sure it'll make you feel all warm and fuzzy inside.

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Must Read IMHO

If you need to leave your computer and have enough time to read only one thing.

THIS IS IT.

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Yeah, Iran's behind it all


If you fall for that one you're dumber than I am. And that's pretty damn dumb.

I couldn't remember where I saw this little item, but Balloon Juice found it too.

Hey, a hair dryer manufactured in Japan has Japanese markings on it so the Japanese can understand. Don't ya think identification of a bomb is important enough for Iran to label it in Farsi? Just asking.

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The SURGE™ is on


Although not the SURGE™ your king had in mind.

Picture via Anything They Say. Go there for the details.

Can you imagine this scene at your local mall? Just asking.

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What's wrong with AMERICAblog?

I'm posting this because I can't comment at AMERICAblog right now for some reason.

AJ in DC says.
I believe it is unlikely we will attack Iran. Various reports in recent years have predicted attacks on Iran and been wrong, and I think there would literally be a near-mutiny from senior military officials were they ordered to attack Iran.

Now to be fair, the next sentence basically says "ya never know with dim son".

My take is Bush will order an attack and the military brass will. They should refuse. Its the moral thing to do, but they won't. They won't jeopardize their careers over it. And you must remember, these aren't usually people who fear war.

I'll bet my ass Bush will attack unless someone stops him. It could be Congress or another country by threatening retaliation. I don't know what it will take. It is his plan and he will do it.

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Sudan blocks U.N. human rights mission over envoy

Sometimes politics just fucking piss me off, but that just may be me.

Granted genocide is a major accusation, but I'm sorry, 200,000 dead probably qualifies whether the UN agrees with me or not. What is the UN threshold for labeling actions in a country genocide? Just asking.

And I don't expect an answer.
Sudan will not allow a U.N. human rights team to visit unless they replace a member of the delegation who Khartoum says is biased, a Foreign Ministry spokesman said on Monday.

A six-member U.N. rights team was due to arrive this week in Sudan to investigate alleged abuses in Darfur. But the government has said they will not get visas.

"We have ... issues about one specific person in the delegation," Foreign Ministry spokesman Ali el-Sadig said.

"Before coming to Sudan this person made comments which were totally not objective and so this person is unacceptable to us and must be changed before this delegation will be allowed to enter Sudan."

Another source in the Foreign Ministry said Sudan objected to the presence of Guyanese Bertrand Ramcharan, the former U.N. deputy high commissioner for human rights.

"He made comments referring to genocide and saying the government needed to do more right after he was appointed," the source told Reuters.

Sima Samar, the U.N. special rapporteur for human rights in Sudan, visited Darfur last August. The Geneva-based U.N. rights council has been criticised for its ineffectiveness on Darfur.

Washington calls the four years of rape, murder and pillage in Darfur genocide, a term Khartoum rejects and European governments have been reluctant to use.

A U.N.-appointed commission of inquiry found no genocide, but said heinous war crimes no less serious than genocide had taken place in Darfur. It also said individuals may have acted with genocidal intent.

The International Criminal Court (ICC) is due to present its first case on Darfur this month. Experts estimate 200,000 people have been killed and 2.5 million driven from their homes.

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Monday, February 12, 2007

At least 67 dead as bombs mock Baghdad security plan


That headline, not atypical world-wide, is from L'Agence France Presse and is how the rest of the world views the US. Can you say laughing stock? Yeah, I thought you could.

Thank you very much, Bush. You've almost completely destroyed the world's respectful opinion of the US. You've brought a great nation to village idiot stature.

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Here We Go Again

I may not be original, but I'm honest (sort of). This is stolen wholly from Lawrence of Cyberia.
[O]n 12 September 2002, two-thirds of the way through George W. Bush's virtual declaration of war against Iraq, there came a dangerous tell-tale code which suggested that he really did intend to send his tanks across the Tigris River. "The United States has no quarrel with the Iraqi people," he told us in the U.N. General Assembly. In the press gallery, nobody stirred. Below us, not a diplomat shifted in his seat. The speech had already rambled on for twenty minutes but the speechwriters must have known what this meant when they cobbled it together.

Before President Reagan bombed Libya in 1986, he announced that America "has no quarrel with the Libyan people." Before he bombed Iraq in 1991, Bush the Father told the world that the United States "has no quarrel with the Iraqi people." In 2001, Bush the Son, about to strike at the Taliban and al-Qaeda, told us he "has no quarrel with the people of Afghanistan." And now that frightening mantra was repeated. There was no quarrel, Mr. Bush said - absolutely none - with the Iraqi people.

So, I thought to myself as I scribbled my notes in the UN press gallery, it's flak jackets on...

-- Robert Fisk, The Great War for Civilization, Chapter 12 paragraphs 1 & 2

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Blogroll "amnesty"


If I can shake my laziness for a few minutes I'm gonna rework my blogroll a little. Basically I'll be dropping the A-list bloggers except for those who have been particularly nice or courteous (replied to email) or helpful to me, Crooks and Liars for example. John's been very good to me. I won't drop more than a couple because I've already culled the list pretty well.

I'll provide a link to one A-list blogger so you can find the others if you wish.

In order to add perspective, I'll be adding some righties to the blogroll. I have only one now. The reason for this is to include differences of opinion. Hey, if a righty can make a sound argument for why the US should, oh, I don't know, turn the Mid-East into a field of glass, I can flip flop with the best of 'em. I'm sure none of them can, but I'll give them the opportunity.

Check out some of the B-list bloggers. Many have much to say and say it well or bring to your attention things they consider important and they're often right.

And a reminder, if you link to me, please let me know so I can reciprocate.

Can't explain the pic. The title of it is "blogroll". It came up in an image search. Go figure.

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Many Army Humvees lack armor upgrade


Picture this, you're stationed in Afghanistan and you read the following. Its bad enough the army can't supply the armor kits fast enough and then you read soldiers in Iraq get priority over you. Kinda makes ya feel valued, doesn't it? Just asking.
U.S. Army units in Iraq and Afghanistan lack more than 4,000 of the latest Humvee armor kit, known as FRAG Kit 5, according to U.S. officials. The Army has ramped up production of the armor, giving priority to troops in Baghdad, but the upgrade is not scheduled to be completed until this summer, Army officials said. That is well into the timeline for major operations launched last week to quell violence by Sunni insurgents and Shiite militias, which the U.S. military now views as the top security threat in Iraq. [emphasis mine]

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Bombs Kill at Least 80 People in Iraq

It seems bomb attacks lately kill at least 4-5 dozen at once. I wonder if anyone has tracked the average number of deaths in Iraq since the coalition forces arrived. My guess is it's been steadily climbing.
Thunderous explosions and dense black smoke swirled through the center of Baghdad Monday when at least two car bombs - one parked in an underground garage - tore through a crowded marketplace, setting off dozens of secondary explosions and killing at least 71 people, police said. Another bombing nearby killed at least nine.

The blasts shattered the city center on the first anniversary, according to the Muslim lunar calendar, of the bombing of the important Shiite Golden Dome shrine in Samarra.

Oh yeah, if you follow the link, don't believe the next sentence after the last one above in my post. The bombing of the Shrine didn't trigger the current level of blood-letting in Iraq. That was already well underway before that bombing.

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Reuters has a little problem

Apparently someone forgot to translate this one. Or someone posted it to the wrong Reuters site. This one is supposed to be in English.
Uganda: 1500 Kindersoldaten Opfer von Polit-Poker

In Uganda

Caritas - Germany Freiburg, 12. Februar 2007. Eine sofortige Freilassung der 1500 ugandischen Kindersoldaten, die sich noch immer in Händen der Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) befinden, fordert Caritas international. „ ...

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Thousands of Army Humvees Lack Armor Upgrade

Why in hell can't the MSM do their job?
The Army is working to fill a shortfall in Iraq of thousands of advanced Humvee armor kits designed to reduce U.S. troop deaths from roadside bombs — including a rising threat from particularly lethal weapons linked to Iran and known as “explosively formed penetrators” (EFP) — that are now inflicting 70 percent of the American casualties in the country, according to U.S. military and civilian officials. [emphasis mine]

The only "link" that exists at this point is in the minds of the military leaders. Throw in the word "alleged" for Christ sake. I've posted before the weapons might very well be black market munitions.

(via True Blue Liberal)

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U.S. fires into Pakistan to hit back at Taliban

File under: This can't be good.
Asserting a right to self-defense, American forces in eastern Afghanistan have launched artillery rounds into Pakistan to strike Taliban fighters who attack remote U.S. outposts, the commander of U.S. forces in the region said Sunday.

The skirmishes are politically sensitive because Pakistan's government, regarded by the Bush administration as an important ally against Islamic extremists, has denied that it allows U.S. forces to strike inside its territory.

The use of the largely ungoverned Waziristan area of Pakistan as a haven for Taliban and al-Qaida fighters has become a greater irritant between Washington and Islamabad since Pakistan put in place a peace agreement there in September that was intended to stop cross-border incursions.

Army Col. John W. Nicholson, commander of the 3rd Brigade, 10th Mountain Division, said that rather than halt such incursions, the peace deal has led to a substantial increase.

Pakistani border forces, which had been active in stopping Taliban incursions into Afghanistan as recently as last spring, stopped offensive actions against them once the peace deal took effect, he said.

"That did relax some of the pressure on the enemy," Nicholson said.

The Pakistan army's top spokesman said Sunday that coalition forces operating in Afghanistan are not allowed to fire into Pakistani territory but acknowledged that artillery fire from the coalition had landed inside Pakistan in recent days. Pakistan also plans to seek "clarification" about Nicholson's comments. [emphasis mine]

Would someone please read Bush the definition of "sovereignty"? Just in case he has no idea what it means. Or more likely couldn't care less about other counties' right to it.

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Report: Cheney Snubbing Japan Official

So that's why Cheney never returns my emails. The bastard's snubbing me.
Vice President Dick Cheney will not meet with Japan's defense minister during his trip to the country next week, a decision Japanese media characterized as a snub over the official calling the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq a ``mistake.''

Kyodo news agency said Cheney has asked Japan not to schedule any talks with Defense Minister Jumio Kyuma, who criticized the decision to go to war last month because he said it was based on the erroneous assumption that Saddam Hussein's government had weapons of mass destruction.

Kyuma later backtracked, saying he meant that the decision to attack Iraq should have been thought through more cautiously. [emphasis mine]

In the first place, the highlighted words are dead-on accurate. Kyuma had no reason whatsoever to back away from them.

And technically I've not called the invasion of Iraq a "mistake". Illegal, a war crime, unnecessary, criminal, stupid, imperialistic, those words I have used.


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