Saturday, August 25, 2007

Thanks for nothing

Former Prime Minister of Pakistan Nawaz Sharif smiles during
an interview with Reuters in London, August 23, 2007.
(Xinhua/Reuters Photo)

The headlines a couple days ago read like this:

Pakistani supreme court approves exiled former PM's return

So far, so good. No wonder he's all smiles. He will be allowed to return home.
Pakistan's Supreme Court on Thursday [August 23, 2007] said in a verdict that the exiled former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif could return to the country and to take part in the forthcoming parliamentary elections.

Via Xinua.

Ah, but the other shoe hadn't dropped yet. Today the headline is:

Pakistani court to issue arrest warrants against exiled former PM after his return

Via Xinua.

Pakistan's accountability court on Saturday ordered that arrest warrants against exiled former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and his family members should be issued after their return, a local TV channel Geo reported.

Khalid Mehmood, the judge of the Accountability Court-IV in Rawalpindi, a city near the capital Islamabad, declined to summon or issue immediate arrest warrants against Sharif and adjourned the hearing of three corruption references against Sharif and some of his family members till Sept. 7. [slight format change - ed]

Isn't the Mid-East just barrels of fun sometimes?

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No Big Shifts Planned After Report on Iraq

First of all, duh. Of course Bush has no intention of changing the way he's doing business in Iraq. So what's the point of even having a report on Iraq? Its just a waste of time and money.
Despite political pressure for a change of course in Iraq, the White House hopes to keep in place its existing military strategy and troop levels there after the mid-September report from Army Gen. David H. Petraeus and Ambassador Ryan C. Crocker, administration officials said.

Even as the administration faced a new call this week from Sen. John W. Warner (R-Va.), a leading ally, to begin at least a symbolic withdrawal of troops by Christmas, White House officials said privately that they are not contemplating making major shifts before early next year. They said that next month's report is likely to highlight what they see as significant improvements in security over the past year and that they expect the president to assert that now is not the time to dramatically change approaches. [emphasis mine]

And as for that "...likely to highlight what they see as significant improvements in security..." bit, another duh. They're writing the damn thing. of course its gonna say exactly what they expect it to say and the words "quagmire", "failure", "mistake" won't be in it unless tied to Vietnam.

Via Washington Post.

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Fidel Castro health watch

Here we go again...

Headline reads: Rumor has it Castro is dead — once again
On Friday, the rumors heated up again for the third week in a row: Fidel Castro's death would be announced, first at 2 p.m., then at 4, then at 5.

For the past year, since the Cuban government said Castro had ceded power to brother Raul after intestinal surgery, rumors that Castro is on the brink of meeting his maker keep boiling over and dying down.

Friday, teary callers told Ninoska Perez, of Radio Mambi, they were sure this was it, and Perez, as usual, reminded, "The moment will come, but this is not the moment."

Via Seattle Times.

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China opens embassy in Costa Rica

This is interesting, but not just because two countries have established diplomatic ties.

Although China is reaching out to many countries on all continents.
Chinese Assistant Foreign Minister He Yafei on Thursday inaugurated China's Embassy in Costa Rica, after diplomatic ties were established between the two nations on June 1.

Via Xinhua.

No, what's interesting is, at the same time, Xinua reported this.

Headline reads: Costa Rica, Lebanon re-establish diplomatic ties
Costa Rica and Lebanon re-established diplomatic ties on Friday after a 23-year freeze, said Costa Rica's Foreign Affairs Ministry.

Costa Rica seems to be somewhat popular at the moment. And I'm positive the image above has nothing to do with it.

Via Xinua.

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Generals Differ on the Timing of Troop Cuts

Don't ya just love the media? I mean they are a fount of knowledge and information. Except when they may not be.

Do the Joint Chiefs of Staff want to reduce troop levels in Iraq? Who knows?
As the Bush administration mulls options for withdrawing forces in Iraq, fault lines are beginning to emerge in a debate between commanders in the field who favor slow reductions and senior generals at the Pentagon who favor cutting the number of combat troops more deeply.

Among others, Gen. Peter Pace, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Gen. George W. Casey Jr., the Army chief of staff, are said to be leaning toward a recommendation that steep reductions by the end of 2008, perhaps to half of the 20 combat brigades now in Iraq, should be the administration’s goal.

Such a drawdown would be deeper and faster than Gen. David H. Petraeus, the top commander in Iraq, is expected to recommend next month, administration officials said.

Via New York Times.

Well, are they just "leaning" or have they made their decision?
Now, according to the LA Times, Gen. Peter Pace, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff is expected to advise the president to cut the US force in Iraq next year nearly in half.

But without denying the claim
, Pace said, "The LA Times article is purely speculative."

Via WWAY3 News Channel.

Or was this a big flap over nothing? Or did someone slap Pace back into line?
The chairman of the U.S. military's Joint Chiefs of Staff on Friday denied a newspaper report that he will urge President George W. Bush to cut U.S. troop levels in Iraq next year.

"The story is wrong," Marine Gen. Peter Pace said through a spokesman. "It is speculative. I have not made nor decided on any recommendations yet."

Via Reuters.

Note: All emphasis mine.

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US Approved Troop Hunts for Suspected Terrorists in Pakistan

Now I'm a simpleton and like to put things into prospective as simply as possible.

Can you imagine the US accepting Mexico's or Canada's following a "hot pursuit" into the US? Yeah, right.
Newly uncovered "rules of engagement" show the U.S. military gave elite units broad authority more than three years ago to pursue suspected terrorists into Pakistan, with no mention of telling the Pakistanis in advance.

The documents obtained by The Associated Press offer a detailed glimpse at what Army Rangers and other terrorist-hunting units were authorized to do earlier in the war on terror. And interviews with military officials suggest some of those same guidelines have remained in place, such as the right to "hot pursuit" across the border.

Via Mathaba.

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Bush to commemorate Katrina anniversary

File this under "returning to the scene of the crime".

First there were the references to Vietnam in a speech. Now the idiot in chief is going to NOLA. Karl Rove would never have allowed either to happen. Perhaps he really was "the brain". Obviously those advising Bush now have none.
President Bush will return to the Gulf Coast next week, where hard times and resentment linger two years after Hurricane Katrina's massive strike.

Bush will fly into New Orleans on Tuesday after giving a speech about the Iraq war to the American Legion convention in Reno, Nev. On Wednesday, the anniversary of the storm, he is expected to examine recovery efforts in New Orleans and the Mississippi Gulf Coast.

The guy has no clue. He's done little to help NOLA. Its been a complete debacle, but he's going there anyway. What a maroon.

BTW, that image is from the sight.

Via Yahoo News.

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I don't comment on Ann Coulter as a rule, but...

I stumbled upon this column at uExpress where I was reading Ted Rall! Its vintage Coulter.
For simplicity, I have limited my enumeration of illegal aliens I would like deported to those who were charged or convicted of heinous crimes last week. For illegal aliens charged with child molestation, I had to limit it to two days last week.

Why don't these people just simplify the message and save ink by saying, "I hate Mexicans!"?

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Cat blogging


Before looking, do you ever try to guess what the "cat" will actually be?


Must read IMHO

From Christopher.
This week, President George W. Bush stood up before the national convention of the Veterans of Foreign Wars and unspooled a whole lot of odd analogies to make the case that we need to stay in Iraq for… well, forever, I guess. I’ve not been in Iraq for more than a year but it’s still a central focus of my reporting here in the Middle East. So, this week, let’s step away from Lebanon — which is depressing anyway — and focus on Bush and his fantasies about Mesopotamia.

Because some days he makes it just too easy.

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Must read IMHO

This is one to watch. Perhaps we can get the wheels back on this wagon.
Today the Petitioners in the Al Odah case submitted their brief to the Supreme Court. At issue in the case is whether detainees at Guantanamo Bay have constitutionally protected rights to habeas corpus and due process. In February, the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals held that the elimination of habeas corpus rights for Guantanamo detainees under the Military Commissions Act did not violate the Suspension Clause of the Constitution because that clause does not apply to aliens held outside of U.S. sovereign territory.

The Supreme Court originally refused to hear the case, but in a highly unusual move, it later reversed itself and granted cert. The case, which seems likely to produce a historically significant opinion one way or the other, is scheduled for oral argument in December.

via The Anonymous Liberal.

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Uh, huh?

I posted about Allawi's block leaving the Iraq government and Anonymous left a comment. Boy, did Anonymous leave a comment!

Apparently we don't spend enough on mental health in the US.

If you have a huge chunk of time...


Quote of the day

This one ya gotta read to believe.
“Let’s face it, they’re [Planned Parenthood] in the business to kill babies for profit,” she said. “First and foremost, they get young girls hooked on their birth control pills, which don’t work,”

-- Leslie Hanks
vice president of Colorado Right to Life


Its so easy to find amusing things on the web. Who needs TV sit-coms. These people are hilarious. And if not hilarious, they're encouraging Jack Bauer tactics against the "darker people", thus we have sit-coms and 24! Isn't life just so fucking* good?

* Hey, I'm trying to catch up on the "fucks" and "fucking". I've been terribly remiss. Please indulge me. I implore you.

Via The Mahablog.

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Friday, August 24, 2007

Allawi's Bloc Withdraws From Government

He's politicking and cranking it up a notch. Ya gotta love his tenacity.
Former Iraqi Prime Minister Iyad Allawi's Iraqi National List (INL) withdrew "finally" from Nouri al-Maliki's government, a leading INL member announced on Friday.

"The INL will officially notify the head of government of its decision soon," Iyad Jamal al-Din told the independent news agency Voices of Iraq (VOI) by telephone, adding that the decision was taken "after the government insisted on ignoring the demands made in February 2007."

The INL, which has five portfolios in the government of Iraqi Premier Nouri al-Maliki, announced on August 7, 2007 that it would suspend its participation in the government, and threatened to "withdraw entirely from the government if its demands continued to be ignored."

The INL, which had 25 out of the total 275 seats in the Iraqi parliament, forwarded 14 demands to the government, including reconsidering the law on terrorism, filtering the army and police of "disloyal elem

Does this remind you at all about the kid who said, "If you won't play by my rules, I'm taking my ball and going home."

And who is the architect? Allawi. What a fucking* wanker.

I really doubt the stepping block pictured above is the "block" being referred to, but I can only hope. I trust they step all over Allawi and his "block" and send him packing.

Jesus H Christ out in the rain, sometimes I seem to be so hateful. That ain't me. Trust me on this and don't ever believe my X.

* I only added "fucking" because its been missing in my recent posts and was feeling fucking ignored.

Via IRAQSlogger.

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Biting the Hand That Fed Them

Sorry, but my snippet has absolutely nothing to do with the headline.
There is much speculation in Washington these days about whether Iran will respond to a preemptive strike by the United States and/or Israel in order to damage or destroy its nuclear weapons program. [it will] The deficiencies in the human intelligence collection and analysis capability of the United States resulting in the confusion about Iran’s war fighting ability is a major factor in this current speculation. [and just what do we pay these "experts"?] American experts are finding it hard to gauge Iran’s military strength and effectiveness. One way to measure Iran’s might with some degree of accuracy is to study how it has been fighting recently. Iran has not fought a conventional campaign since the end of the Iran-Iraq War in 1988 [making them a major threat to the US], almost two decades ago. Since then, Iran’s military industrial complex and manpower evolved significantly [duh!]. Some of this new technology and training has been put into action by the Tehran regime in a limited extent at Iran’s periphery, which offers a window to peek at the Iranian military under actual combat conditions. Except for the two proxy campaigns in Lebanon [likely] and Iraq [pure speculation] which Iranian military and intelligence are engaged in, Iran’s only direct military action on its enemies has materialized in the form of a few surface-to-surface missile attacks on Mojahedin-e-Khalq camps in Iraq in the late 1990s and its ongoing conflict with the Kurdish terrorist organization PKK (Partiya Karkaren Kurdistan-Workers’ Party of Kurdistan) inside Iran and in Northern Iraq [again...speculation] at present, which this analysis is about.

Note: If I missed some of my editorial comments (highlighting them as it were), its harder than you think, feel free to take out your Sharpie and ...

Via IRAQSlogger.

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Wikipedia. Beware

Just did a search for "spiiderweb" on Wikipedia. No results.

If SPIIDERWEB™ is absent, then Wikipedia is incomplete.

'nough said.

I'm calmer now. It seems "dkos" doesn't register either. Muahahaha.

Ya never know when the drugs will kick in.*

* Quote from a rocker friend of mine.


You are a terrorist

This is something I've been cogitating about for a while. Its an interesting mind exercise.

You are a terrorist and want to inflict harm on the US. How?

1. You could ship explosives or anything else into the US via (new today) an approved shipper.

2. You could send instructions to the hoards via email or snail mail to Canada or Mexico and have someone take them to the US. Even if they fly, I've never seen an X-ray machine get all hot and bothered because your luggage contained "paper".

This's based on my understanding Canada and Mexico aren't Orwellian states yet.

3. You could email to the US using graphics instead of text. It stops spammers and they're probably more clever than the government.

4. The obvious, you could use a complicated code so "grandma" refers to the cell leader.

Personal note: I always suspected my dead grandmother was a cell leader, or a member of Greenpeace. I'm a little foggy on this. We should have talked more.

Any other schemes you may have are appreciated.

Face it folks, there're many ways to circumvent security. You're still more likely to die on your way to work. Sorry to remind you.

Oh yeah, one of the definitions for "die" is: To cut into small cubes. Yuck!!!1!!

Hey! You doubted I could tie that first graphic to this post? Pshaw. Ye of little faith.

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I'm beginning to doubt polls...fer sure

The more polls I read the more I'm convinced some "suggest" what the respondents should answer. If that isn't the case, the people lie. They tell the pollster what they think the pollster wants to hear. Note: This is a general critique and not aimed at PEW. But come on, what follows stinks to high heaven.
Although the size and scope of the American news media have changed dramatically since the 1980s, audience news interests and preferences have remained surprisingly static. Of the two major indices of interest that are the focus of this report -- overall level of interest in news and preferences for various types of news -- neither has changed very much. This has been especially true for news preferences; Americans continue to follow -- or to ignore -- the same types of stories now as they did two decades ago. News "tastes," measured among 19 separate categories of news, have barely shifted at all: Disaster News and Money News continue to be of greatest interest to the U.S. public; Tabloid News and Foreign News remain the least interesting. [emphasis mine]


Then we have this.
An overwhelming majority of the public (87%) says celebrity scandals receive too much news coverage. This criticism generally holds across most major demographic and political groups. Virtually no one thinks there is too little coverage of celebrity scandals.

Lets get serious here. Tabloid/celebrity reporting sells. Its what the peeps want. People, Us, In Touch, Celebrity, Gala, Enquirer, OK!, Hot magazines, Entertainment Tonight on TV (among many) and Faux News anyone?

Supply and demand. The public wants a supply and the media provide it. Think of it as prostitution which isn't a far stretch.

Note: If you recognize that graphic as a Second Life prostitute, you are in serious need of therapy. May I suggest my therapist? On second thought, she isn't really helping me very much.



What do these words have in common?

Jonco couldn't do it. I couldn't do it. Can you? Reely kewl!
See if You can figure out what these Words Have In Common...... Give it PLENTY of thought, look carefully, AND don't cheat!

Are You Peeking Or Have You Already Given Up?
Give It Another Try....
You'll kick yourself when you discover the answer.
Go back and look at them again; think hard.

No it does not have to do with pairs of matching letters.
Go try again..............

OK... Here You Go.. Hope You Didn't Cheat.
This Is Cool!!

Answer . . . . .
In all of the words listed, if you take the first letter, place it at the end of the word, and then spell the word backwards, it will be the same word!!! Told ya it was cool!

Did you figure it out? Yeah, me, neither.

Via Jonco.


'Love handle' affair underscores Sarkozy's close relations with French media

President Nicolas Sarkozy of France paddling
a canoe on Lake Winnipesaukee while on
vacation in Wolfeboro, New Hampshire on
Aug. 4. The magazine Paris Match retouched
this photo, masking his 'love handle.'

At least in never came to this concerning the Bushes.
A popular magazine owned by a close friend of President Nicolas Sarkozy doctored a photograph of the French leader to make his waist look thinner, a rival publication reported on Thursday.

The weekly newsmagazine L'Express said that Paris Match, owned by the businessman Arnaud Lagardère, had applied a "magic wand" to the photograph of Sarkozy paddling in a canoe to remove the bulges around his waist that are often known as "love handles."

To be fair, and damn it I hate when I am, the next paragraph of the story begins by saying Sarkozy didn't ask for the retouch.

Via International Herald Tribune.

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Feeling secure? Well don't #18

The headline: No checks for bombs in certified air cargo

Yes you read that right. We don't look for no stinking bombs.
The Bush administration is planning to allow cargo packed by approved shippers to be loaded onto passenger airplanes without any further inspection for bombs, despite a new law requiring freight shipments to receive the same level of scrutiny as checked suitcases.

Of course those approved shippers would never get infiltrated by the bad guys, right?

Oh yeah, Bush is also breaking the law, but we've pretty much come to expect that from him.

Via The Boston Globe.

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US confirms key role of telecom firms in wiretapping

John "Mike" McConnell, director of national intelligence

The information is interesting enough, but it isn't something we needed to be told and its not exactly why I'm posting this.
The Bush administration has confirmed for the first time that American telecommunications companies played a crucial role in the National Security Agency's domestic eavesdropping program after asserting for more than a year that any role played by the companies was a state secret.

The acknowledgement was made in an unusual interview that Mike McConnell, the director of national intelligence, conducted with The El Paso Times last week in which he disclosed details on classified intelligence issues that the administration has long insisted would harm national security if discussed publicly. [emphasis mine]

So, it comes down to: 1. This information never has been a state secret or 2. The Bush administration will be bringing McConnell up on treason charges. These two things are definitely mutually exclusive.

And, if it comes down to number one, what other "state secrets" aren't state secrets?

Technically there is a third position. The administration can just ignore the whole incident and leave McConnell alone. This is, of course, what I'm expecting.

Via The Boston Globe.

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Shall we dance?

Pretty good offering if only because Digby agrees with me.
So, here's how I see the narrative: The surge is working so well that we can bring home 5,000 troops to fight the war on Christmas. But we mustn't set forth any timetables beyond that because things are really starting to move politically over there. Haven't you heard? Everybody's saying that the Prime Minister is on the rocks. That signals political change --- just what we've been waiting for! Hallalujah. All we need to do is hang on just a bit longer to see how that all pans out. (And those troops coming home for Christmas amidst a media blitz not seen since 9/11 no doubt will make the Iraqis believe we are really serious about leaving. Neat huh?)

And then once Maliki is gone, the new PM will need more time, of course, to set in motion his new pony plan. I'd say it's bound to take at least until January 2009 [nearly three Friedman Units].

President Bush will play the role of statesman, backing Maliki publicly but letting it slip every so often that he's not pleased. His spokesman said today that the administration knows absolutely nothing about the high powered Republican lobbying firm filled with ex Bush staffers that's trying to topple Maliki, which was ever so believable. (This is, apparently, their idea of subtly putting pressure on Maliki.)

Bush doesn't need to get out front on this. He's got his lobbyist friends, the intelligence community, the right wing noise machine, Warner and Levin and Clinton and a whole slew of Democratic congressmen fresh from atop their dogs and ponies all making the case for him. If Maliki is deposed, they all will have succeeded in digging the US even further into this mess with absolutely nothing substantive to show for it. The great Allawi pony plan will not solve any problems, they will just create new ones. It's all kabuki, buying time, waiting for a miracle, I guess.

Via Digby.

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British Army deploys new weapon based on mass-killing technology

Jesus H Christ playing X-Box, I hope you haven't eaten recently. If you have, please read this later. It is teh nauseating.
A new 'super-weapon' being supplied to British soldiers in Afghanistan employs technology based on the "thermobaric" principle which uses heat and pressure to kill people targeted across a wide air by sucking the air out of lungs and rupturing internal organs.

The so-called "enhanced blast" weapon uses similar technology used in the US "bunker busting" bombs and the devastating bombs dropped by the Russians to destroy the Chechen capital, Grozny.

Such weapons are brutally effective because they first disperse a gas or chemical agent which is lit at a second stage, allowing the blast to fill the spaces of a building or the crevices of a cave. When the US military deployed a version of these weapons in 2005, DefenseTech wrote an article titled, "Marines Quiet About Brutal New Weapon."

According to the US Defense Intelligence Agency, which released a study on thermobaric weapons in 1993, "The [blast] kill mechanism against living targets is unique--and unpleasant.... What kills is the pressure wave, and more importantly, the subsequent rarefaction [vacuum], which ruptures the lungs.… If the fuel deflagrates but does not detonate, victims will be severely burned and will probably also inhale the burning fuel. Since the most common FAE fuels, ethylene oxide and propylene oxide, are highly toxic, undetonated FAE should prove as lethal to personnel caught within the cloud as most chemical agents."

A second DIA study said, "shock and pressure waves cause minimal damage to brain tissue... it is possible that victims of FAEs are not rendered unconscious by the blast, but instead suffer for several seconds or minutes while they suffocate."

Its sometimes unbelievable what humans are willing to do to each other.

Via Black Listed News.

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Iraq Prospects: Continued Violence, ‘Elusive’ Prospects, Lots of ‘Ifs’

I'm gonna come out totally cynical here.

Undoubtedly Bush saw this NIE days ago. Doesn't it make sense, having this estimate in his back pocket, he would start a campaign to undermine al-Maliki?

OK, I admit I'm on somewhat shaky ground here. I'm assuming Bush actually read the fucking NIE.
The White House has released an update to the National Intelligence Estimate entitled, “Prospects for Iraq’s Stability: Some Security Progress but Political Reconciliation Elusive.” It’s available in PDF format here.

Some excerpts:

There have been measurable but uneven improvements in Iraq’s security situation since our last National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq in January 2007. The steep escalation of rates of violence has been checked for now, and overall attack levels across Iraq have fallen during seven of the last nine weeks. Coalition forces, working with Iraqi forces, tribal elements, and some Sunni insurgents, have reduced al-Qa’ida in Iraq’s (AQI) capabilities, restricted its freedom of movement, and denied it grassroots support in some areas. However, the level of overall violence, including attacks on and casualties among civilians, remains high; Iraq’s sectarian groups remain unreconciled; AQI retains the ability to conduct high-profile attacks; and to date, Iraqi political leaders remain unable to govern effectively. There have been modest improvements in economic output, budget execution, and government finances but fundamental structural problems continue to prevent sustained progress in economic growth and living conditions.

We assess, to the extent that Coalition forces continue to conduct robust counterinsurgency operations and mentor and support the Iraqi Security Forces (ISF), that Iraq’s security will continue to improve modestly during the next six to 12 months but that levels of insurgent and sectarian violence will remain high and the Iraqi Government will continue to struggle to achieve national-level political reconciliation and improved governance. Broadly accepted political compromises required for sustained security, long-term political progress, and economic development are unlikely to emerge unless there is a fundamental shift in the factors driving Iraqi political and security developments.

At this point, paranoia is probably the mildest pathology al-Maliki is suffering from.

Via James Joyner at Outside the Beltway.

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Must read IMHO

Foreign Policy Watch is always good, this one in particular.
Amid increasing coverage of the internal rift over how to handle Iran, it's time to consider a more likely explanation of how the usually on-message Bush administration has allowed dissent from stated U.S. policy on Iran to become so public. Especially considering that the Departments of State and Defense have maintained that military action against Iran is not an immediate option or logical next step, any real internal dissent would likely be treated more discretely. In that light, perhaps hawkish talk from V.P. Cheney and his staff constitutes the "bad cop" portion of the classic "good cop, bad cop" tack taken by countless fictive detectives when handling suspects/villainous Miami-based drug kingpins.


No Human Rights In "Kid Nation"

Sub heading: Fuck the kids.


Have I made myself clear on this issue?
Parents of minors starring in "Kid Nation," the controversial new CBS reality show, signed away their rights to sue the network and the show's producers if their child died, was severely injured, or contracted a sexually transmitted disease during the program's taping.

Yeah, not too subtle, but it shouldn't be.

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Quote of the day

Since the 1970s, conservatives circulated a series of lies about Vietnam. Today, a Vietnam draft-dodger has degraded the presidency by making them his own."

-- Rick Perlstein


Guys do admire brains

In spite of this photo.

May we assume alcohol was a factor? Yeah, I think that's a given.


What a wimp

This is a jar with a bunch of 1968 pennies. So lame.

I collected all pennies I got in the same size jar. It was 3/4 full and heavy as hell. This effort is pathetic.

If you're gonna compete, go for the gold. I'm sure someone beat me in collecting pennies although they're too shy to admit it. GUINNESS? World record here?

If no record, how about a pint? Mmmm.

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I used a Dig Holes site to see where the opposite side of the earth was from me.

Shit!!!1!! I ended up in the ocean. Just my fucking luck.

Via Jonco.


Thursday, August 23, 2007

Open post to my blogroll

Slow down. I'm a slow reader and can't digest all the posts along with all my news feeds.

Help me!!!1!! I'm drowning here.

Bush is an asshole and you should realize it

Everyone (on the left) is going ballistic over Bush's comparing Iraq to Vietnam (favorably) whereas he bristled when such comparisons were made a couple years ago.

Assholes do such things. They torture animals and lie to everyone in between drinks.

When you live in your own bubble, you can make up reality. Howard Hughes anyone?

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Sometimes its difficult being a dirty old man

He's obviously in the wrong country. In some countries this would get him laid.
Man: Do you wanna ride in the sidecar of my motorbike? My son does that all the time. We go really fast!
Teen girl: Yeah, sure, I'd love to go in your pre-war sidecar. With a bit of luck all my friends will see me with some crazy bald man and that will be the end of my life. No, thanks!

Ah, the difficulty of pickup-lines. They work differently depending on location.

Via Overheard in New York.


Its a small small (dangerous) world

Sorry if this post reeks of teh scary, but there are things which should worry you, at least a little.
With an estimated 2.1 billion airline passengers roaming the planet last year alone, infectious diseases are spreading faster than ever before, the UN health agency said Thursday.

The World Health Organization called on governments to follow its revised regulations for fighting dangerous health crises.

"New diseases are emerging at the historically unprecedented rate of one per year," the WHO's director-general, Dr. Margaret Chan, said in an introduction to the annual World Health Report.

"It would be extremely naïve and complacent to assume that there will not be another disease like AIDS, another Ebola, or another SARS, sooner or later," the report said.

The thrust of WHO's efforts to protect global health has been the revision of the International Health Regulations, which came into effect in June. The voluntary regulations govern how countries should report potentially dangerous health emergencies to WHO.

Personal note: I went through the Taiwan airport during the height of the SARS epidemic. The little boy pictured above was not unusual. Almost everyone had masks on.

I, of course, was immortal and eschewed a mask. Because I'm posting now it is proof self-evident I am, in fact, immortal. Muahahaha.

Via International Herald Tribune (there are others).

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Making molehills out of mountains

An area of Hale Gap, Virginia, being
strip mined with mountaintop removal.
(Michael Temchine for The New York Times)

The headline actually reads: Bush's 'parting gift to the coal industry'
The Bush administration is set to issue a regulation on Friday that would extend the coal mining practice of mountaintop removal. The technique involves blasting off the tops of mountains and dumping the rubble into valleys and streams.

To be fair it states it "extends" the practice. But I've never been one to buy into its always been done that way logic.

This is raping the earth without equivocation.

Via International Herald Tribune.

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White House reaffirms al-Maliki support

With Bush, an endorsement could be more deadly than non-support. Remember "Heck of a job Brownie."?
President Bush, scrambling to show he still backs embattled Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, offered him a fresh endorsement on Wednesday, calling him "a good guy, good man with a difficult job."

"I support him," Bush said a day after he acknowledged frustration with the Iraqi leader's inability to bridge political divisions in his country. "It's not up to the politicians in Washington, D.C., to say whether he will remain in his position. It is up to the Iraqi people who now live in a democracy and not a dictatorship."

Bush's validation of al-Maliki, inserted at the last minute into his speech to the Veterans of Foreign Wars convention, stole the spotlight from Bush's attempt to buttress support for the war by likening today's fight against extremism to past conflicts in Japan, Korea and Vietnam.

I seriously doubt al-Maliki has long to survive.

And what political genius inserted that confirmation just to undercut Bush's main message. Very clever.

Via Yahoo® News.

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Wednesday, August 22, 2007

U.S.: Iran cooperation insufficient

That's right. Just keep stacking up the reasons why we should attack.

And keep pushing them as hard as possible. Ya never know, they might just do something so outrageous the US and rest of the world will cheer you on when you do attack.
A senior U.S. envoy dismissed increased Iranian willingness to answer questions about its nuclear program as a smoke screen on Wednesday and said it would not prevent the U.N. Security Council from imposing additional sanctions on Tehran.

"Iran is clearly trying to take the attention from its continued development of bomb-making capabilities, and I don't think the Security Council will be distracted," said Gregory L. Schulte, the chief U.S. delegate to the International Atomic Energy Agency. "We are continuing to move forward with other members of the Security Council on a third resolution."

Via Boston Globe.

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American home foreclosures leap 93% in a year

That's funny. Not in a ha ha ha way, but I've heard nothing like this from US news sources. Why would anyone want to keep this a secret? Just asking.
Nevada is bearing the brunt of the crumbling US housing market, with about one in every 200 households filing for foreclosure, a survey showed yesterday.

RealtyTrac, an online marketplace for repossessed properties, showed US home foreclosures jumped 9% in July from June, and 93% on a year ago.

The number of default notices and bank repossessions totalled 179,599. Across the US, there is now a foreclosure of one in every 693 homes.

This is just the start. You can compare that one in every 693 benchmark as future reports come out.

This from RealtyTrac:
Nevada posted the nation's highest foreclosure rate, with one foreclosure filing for every 40 households during the first half of 2007. The state reported a total of 25,208 foreclosure filings on 14,687 properties, more than double the number of foreclosure filings reported in the previous six-month period and nearly triple the number reported in the first half of 2006. [emphasis mine]

Via Guardian Unlimited.

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Shuttle Endeavour returns safely

Some good news for a change.
Gash in spacecraft's heat-resistant tiles poses no problems.

Via Al Jazeera.


CIA inquiry urged holding Tenet, others to account for 9/11

They do protect their own, don't they. This is, if true, a glaring dereliction of duty. What could have been more important in early 2001?
A two-year-old CIA inquiry urged holding former CIA director George Tenet and other top agency officials to account for leadership failures before the September 11, 2001 attacks, a summary released Tuesday said.

The CIA's inspector general recommended in June 2005 that CIA set up "accountability boards" to consider disciplinary action against Tenet and other top officials for the failures, but was turned down by then CIA director Porter Goss.

Michael Hayden, the spy agency's current director, said in declassifying the top secret summary that he saw no reason to revisit the inspector general's recommendations.

The report found that Tenet failed to produce a comprehensive strategy to fight al-Qaeda before the September 11 attacks, and did not make effective use of his authority to marshal support for a counter-terrorism effort that he had proclaimed as a top priority.

Via Agence France-Presse.

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Bush withholds support from Maliki

I thought this would take a little longer. I mean I posted about it only recently.

Ayad Allawi wants al-Maliki's job and Bush will back him...again.

This is the first step toward that backing, quit supporting the puppet who wants to be a real person.
US President George W. Bush on Tuesday withheld his support from increasingly embattled Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki and warned that Iraqi voters could decide to replace him.

"There's a certain level of frustration with the leadership in general," Bush said after two senior US lawmakers suggested Iraq's parliament remove Maliki's government if it fails to make progress on national reconciliation.

Asked whether Maliki had lost credibility because of his inability to forge such unity, Bush said that the Iraqi people, not their government, deserved credit for "noticeable and tangible and real" reconciliation efforts.

"If the government doesn't respond to the demands of the people, they will replace the government. That's up to the Iraqis to make that decision, not American politicians," he said at a North American summit here.
(read more)

As secretive as Bush is, sometimes he's startlingly transparent.

Via Agence France-Presse.

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Why Do Doctors Get to Decide When a Woman Is Old Enough to Have Her 'Tubes Tied'?

The graphic is my comment.

Women under 30 who have made the decision not to have children often find their requests for tubal ligation procedures denied -- simply for the reason that doctors think they are "too young."

As usual, I'm not finished.

Although expensive, tubal ligation can be reversed so long as one of the most reversible methods are used.

Via AlterNet.

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Pentagon's New Military Drug Weapons

My only comment on this article is that these drugs sound much more humane than 500 lb bombs.
A calmative agent can be defined as an antipersonnel chemical that leaves the victim awake and mobile but without the will or ability to meet military objectives or carry out criminal activity.

Note: All links except to Mathaba are to wikipedia.

They’ve got Skunk, they’ve got Special K, they’ve got Angel Dust, they’ve got Aceeeeed….and they’ve also got a whole pharmacy of extra special stuff that they’re not going to tell anyone about. They’re heavily armed, and the law can’t touch them. Because they’re the Pentagon’s own nonlethal chemical weapons developers.

No, that's not my only comment. Correct me if I'm wrong, but I thought Angel Dust was a problem for law enforcement. It made the people impervious to pain and often aggressive. That's a couple affects I doubt are desired in an enemy.

Ah ha, I was right. One of the headlines in the graphic states, "SUSPECTS SNAP HANDCUFFS". I don't know if you've worn or even seen handcuffs close up, but snapping handcuffs is no small feat. I'm assuming (always dicey) these weren't the plastic wire ties type handcuffs. It says handcuffs.

Via Mathaba.


Will Michigan Force Christmas Caucus?

I don't understand the headline. January 15 is hardly Christmas, but...
"Michigan appears poised to crash the party of early states seeking to influence the 2008 presidential nominating process, leapfrogging the other interlopers, Florida and South Carolina, and further scrambling the electoral calendar," the Boston Globe reports.

"If leaders of Michigan's political parties reach agreement, as early as tomorrow, on joint Jan. 15 primaries, New Hampshire and Iowa, the traditional leadoff states, would be forced to set earlier contests to preserve their coveted status. New Hampshire's first-in-the-nation primary would be moved to Jan. 8 at the latest because state law says that Secretary of State William M. Gardner must set the contest at least seven days ahead of the next primary."

In related news, Idaho has decided to hold its primary election next Monday. Its just a rumor.

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Must read IMHO

We do love to keep the pot boiling.
The United States is pressing ahead with a U.S.-financed effort to recruit and pay local Sunni Arabs to protect neighborhoods in districts scattered across a wide area of central Iraq.

The initiative has generated deep skepticism in some members of the Shiite-led Iraqi government, who fear that the strategy could intensify the already intense sectarian warfare here.

Who gives a fuck who is killing who as long as they buy their arms from US.

Via Foreign Policy Watch.


Ancient politician

No I'm not talking about Strom Thurmond.

Via Jonco.


Your Zen moment

I can't help myself. This just fucking cracks me up. Guess I'm not above laughing at other's problems.

Via Jonco.


Tuesday, August 21, 2007

For your edification

One of my readers, Mai, has put together a great post about how her family was treated in 1984, early 1985, simply because they're Sikhs. Please take the time to read it.
We all knew that if our house was targeted, we would all probably be killed. Since everyone knew we were Sikh, we knew we would be targeted. The boys, Balbir and Sandeep, both insisted that if they were to be martyred as Sikhs, they had the right and obligation to take Amrit*. After some discussion, mostly with Mani, who was our leader, it was agreed. We had everything necessary, so the ceremony went ahead. It should have been a happier occasion, but it was really a sweet sadness for all of us.

From the film Running Mates: When will we stop killing each other just because we disagree?

Thank you Mai.

*From In the Sikh tradition, Amrit is not some magical potion that would confer upon the consumer an unending span of life or bring about automatic release from the cycle of birth, death and rebirth. The term is however retained figuratively to signify what leads to such release. In this sense, Amrit is not something external to man "but is within him and is received by God`s grace" (Sri Guru Granth Sahib, 1056,1238). Historically, amrit in the Sikh tradition refers to the baptismal water Guru Gobind Singh, the tenth Nanak, Nanak X, created for the initiatory rites promulgated in supersession of charanamrit at the time of the creation of the Khalsa brotherhood. This is called Khande da Pahul or nectar touched with the doubleedged sword.

(read more)

Lieberman Shrugs Off Failed Iraq Predictions, Now Claims ‘Road To Victory’ Goes Through Syria

True Blue Liberable has this little gem from dopey Lieberman. Which, when juxtaposed against this, suggests dopey is about to fall over because of how far he's leaning to the right.
Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT) writes today in the Wall Street Journal that the U.S. “road to victory” in Iraq goes through Damascus, and urges Congress to “send a clear and unambiguous message to the Syrian regime“:

The United States is at last making significant progress against al Qaeda in Iraq–but the road to victory now requires cutting off al Qaeda’s road to Iraq through Damascus. […]

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Hail Caesar

A must read from Digby. And not just some run of the mill must read, but a truly chilling one.

Digby is offering Conquering the Drawbacks of Democracy By Philip Atkinson. Atkinson is, of course, a winger.
The wisest course would have been for President Bush to use his nuclear weapons to slaughter Iraqis until they complied with his demands, or until they were all dead. Then there would be little risk or expense and no American army would be left exposed. But if he did this, his cowardly electorate would have instantly ended his term of office, if not his freedom or his life.

The simple truth that modern weapons now mean a nation must practice genocide or commit suicide. Israel provides the perfect example. If the Israelis do not raze Iran, the Iranians will fulfill their boast and wipe Israel off the face of the earth. Yet Israel is not popular, and so is denied permission to defend itself. In the same vein, President Bush cannot do what is necessary for the survival of Americans. He cannot use the nation's powerful weapons. All he can do is try and discover a result that will be popular with Americans.

Now we lefties do tend to be abrasive, profane, cynical, but we rarely (never?) suggest genocide as a solution to any problem.

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Tenn. Nuclear Fuel Problems Kept Secret

How in the hell did secrecy fall under the umbrella of national security? Not that residents could have reacted to the information other than stampeding out of there.
A three-year veil of secrecy in the name of national security was used to keep the public in the dark about the handling of highly enriched uranium at a nuclear fuel processing plant - including a leak that could have caused a deadly, uncontrolled nuclear reaction.

The leak turned out to be one of nine violations or test failures since 2005 at privately owned Nuclear Fuel Services Inc., a longtime supplier of fuel to the U.S. Navy's nuclear fleet.

The public was never told about the problems when they happened. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission revealed them for the first time last month when it released an order demanding improvements at the company, but no fine.

In 2004, the government became so concerned about releasing nuclear secrets that the commission removed more than 1,740 documents from its public archive - even some that apparently involved basic safety violations at the company, which operates a 65-acre gated complex in tiny Erwin, about 120 miles north of Knoxville.

(read more)

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Report: Governmental 'Turf Wars' May Put Nation at Risk

File under: This can't be good.

Federal agencies can't seem to cooperate? Who woulda thunk it?
A terrorism case in Miami, Fla. may have been jeopardized because of infighting between government agencies, according to a new joint report issued by the departments of Homeland Security and Justice.

A lack of information exchange between the FBI and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) threatened the investigation, according to the report. After the case was transferred to the Joint Terrorism Task Force, the report says ICE field agents refused to interview a suspect and train the FBI agents. Four targets were eventually indicted, but the investigation of one other suspect had to be transferred to another team.

"Historically, all these agencies have's all about territory and control," said Brad Garrett, a former FBI agent and now an ABC News consultant. "It's like battle lines...fight for a while, retreat and fight again...agencies don't like anybody intruding."

But just remember the Bush administration is protecting y'all.

(read more)

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Capital One to Shut Unit, Cut 1,900 Jobs

Ah, creation of more homeless. Its an American tradition.
Capital One Financial Corp. said Monday it will cut 1,900 jobs and shutter its wholesale mortgage banking business, a move that comes as lenders continue to struggle in the nation's housing and mortgage markets.

Capital One said it will shut down GreenPoint Mortgage and eliminate most of the jobs by the end of year. The McLean, Va.-based company will close 31 GreenPoint locations in 19 states and "cease residential mortgage origination" effective immediately but said it will honor commitments to customers with locked rates who have loans already in the pipeline.

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This guy doesn't like people to politicize his posts so I will just ask you to read it. It's very informative about the mind set of one of your soldiers.

He had me with the headline.
I've noticed lately I've been sleeping like shit. I'll get four hours of sleep and somehow manage to not pass out and wreck my car on the way into work at five in the morning. I'm a night person and always have been but this is ridiculous; you'd figure after a few days of minimal sleep I'd crash and burn and sleep about twelve hours in one night. Nope. I got more sleep in Iraq, for Christ's sake.

When you can't sleep you start thinking... a lot. Too much for my own good.

(read more)

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The Emerging Middle East Security Paradigm

This is a must read IMHO.

One can't discount the importance of Iran and this article makes the case.
Iran is a crucial player not only in the Middle East, but more broadly in west Asia and the international arena. It can be a critical factor in shaping the future of Afghanistan, Iraq, Lebanon, and the Arab-Israeli conflict. In order to solidify recent strategic gains, Iran needs to reach some accommodation with major Western powers. Likewise, the United States and Europe need to constructively engage Iran in an effort to foster greater political stability and contain the violence inherent in the Middle East and west Asia.

(read more)

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100 Filipino Workers Repatriated From Iraq

Are you a patriot? Are you proud of this?
More than 100 Filipino workers voluntarily left Iraq last week after Philippine officials began an investigation of possible labor trafficking by US-funded contractors and subcontractors. The Philippines imposed a ban on its citizens entering Iraq for work in 2004 for safety concerns although 10,000 to 20,000 Filipinos are estimated to be working in Iraq under US-funded military support and construction contracts despite the restriction. The Filipino workers that left Iraq were repatriated to Dubai and Kuwait on August 16 and were destined to return to the Philippines, according to the Philippine news network ABS-CBN. All are believed to have been employed by First Kuwaiti General Trading and Contracting, a company that has reaped up to $2 billion in US contracts to build the sprawling 102-acre embassy in the Green Zone and provide services to more than a dozen US military camps. A US Congressional hearing in July focusing on the contractor building the $592-million US embassy in Baghdad sparked the labor probe in the Philippines after witnesses testified that low-paid migrant workers in Kuwait were given boarding passes for Dubai and then flown directly to Baghdad.

Ya see, it ain't just prostitutes who get traded in the global economy. Don't ya just love free enterprise?

(read more)

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I can post to SPIIDERWEB™ or to Brilliant at Breakfast. If I don't pay attention, sometimes I log into Brilliant at Breakfast by mistake. Its surprisingly easy to do.

My last two posts went there.

Forgive me Jill. Didn't mean to rain on your parade. Honest mistake, honestly. I mean it. I'll be more careful now.


Questions requiring answers

This one is simple.


Monday, August 20, 2007

Sikh girl may turn Catholic for US school admission

The infallible professional journalism folks.
A Sikh couple in Ohio is contemplating converting their four-year-old daughter as a Roman Catholic in order to get her admission to the school of their choice.

Baljit and Bal Singh said they would not mind changing their daughter's religion if it means she can attend the St Paul's Roman Catholic School in Wolviston, Cleveland, next month.

Their daughter Maya has been attending nursery at St Paul's for the past two years. But they were told a couple of days ago that there was no place available for Maya when she starts full-time education in a few weeks time.

Or maybe the headline should read like this:

Sikh girl may turn Catholic for Britain school admission
A Sikh couple in a village in Britain is contemplating converting their four-year-old daughter as a Roman Catholic in order to get her admission to the school of their choice.

Baljit and Bal Singh said they would not mind changing their daughter's religion if it means she can attend the St Paul's Roman Catholic School in Wolviston village, Cleveland, next month.

Their daughter Maya has been attending nursery at St Paul's for the past two years. But they were told a couple of days ago that there was no place available for Maya when she starts full-time education in a few weeks time. [all emphasis mine]

Usually the Japan Herald is much more careful than this, but hey, none of us are perfect, right?

BTW, the top item is their latest post.

I won't comment about commitment to religion and how this is sending a lousy signal to their little girl other than to say I won't comment.


Jailing Nation: How Did Our Prison System Become Such a Nightmare?

I read somewhere, someone's saying Americans aren't free. They like to say they are, but there are so many rules, regulations, laws that they are very regimented unless they choose to ignore such rules, regulations, laws.

I've challenged co-workers to pay special attention to their actions for one day. My position is they couldn't avoid breaking some law. Did they speed on the freeway? Did they take a company pen home? Did they photocopy a personal paper on the company machine? Did they jay walk, litter? How about parking illegally? Did they shoot someone. OK, none of my co-workers admitted to that last one.
Subheading: With five percent of the world's population, the U.S. has close to a quarter of the world's prisoners. How did the American criminal justice system go so wrong?

How can you tell when a democracy is dead? When concentration camps spring up and everyone shivers in fear? Or is it when concentration camps spring up and no one shivers in fear because everyone knows they're not for "people like us" (in Woody Allen's marvelous phrase) but for the others, the troublemakers, the ones you can tell are guilty merely by the color of their skin, the shape of their nose or their social class?

Add to all the rules, regulations, laws the "war on drugs", as an example, and you can create criminals.

(read more)


GOP Powergrab Scheme in California Could Swing 2008 Election If It's Not Stopped

Ghost of Karl Rove past

I have to agree with Ms Boxer. Making such a change only in a huge "blue" state and not in the large "red" states is pure chutzpah. No, let me offer a better term. Its pure bullshit. And it isn't the last borderline immoral, illegal, unethical, nasty thing the GOP will do between now and November 2008.
By Barbara Boxer,
Just when you thought it was safe to start thinking about having a Democrat in the White House, along comes a cynical power grab by Republican operatives. And unfortunately, it's happening right here in my own state of California.

If you haven't heard already, Republican strategists recently announced plans to begin raising money for a dangerous initiative that would radically change the way California apportions our electoral votes in presidential elections.

Rather than awarding all of California's electoral votes to the candidate that wins the popular vote -- the way it works in every single state except the small states of Maine and Nebraska -- their scheme would divvy up California's electoral votes based on the number of congressional districts each candidate wins.

What does this mean? Well, if the last few elections are any guide, rather than the Democratic nominee winning all 55 of California's electoral votes in 2008, this new partisan scheme could hand 20 of California's electoral votes to the Republican candidate and only 35 to the Democrat.

Don't get me wrong: After the 2000 and 2004 election debacles, I'm a strong advocate for election reform. But it's absolutely wrong for California to go it alone. It's just patently unfair for a large "blue" state like California to change our system for awarding electoral votes while other large states which trend "red" like Texas and Florida don't change their system at the same time.

This isn't reform -- this is a partisan power grab by Republican operatives in the Karl Rove tradition.

However, I will point out that initiatives are the prerogative of the voters. That's part of a democracy. But, like signing statements, they can be abused.

Shouldn't national elections have national rules? Seems fair to me. Either all states do what this initiative is trying to do or none should be allowed to. Just a thought.

(read more)

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'US pushing Israel to wage war against Syria with aid'

Take this story with a grain of salt because in comes from, shall we say, a slightly biased source. But if true, this is hardly something needed in the Mid-East.
Washington is preventing Israel from making peace with Syria and instead is forcing it to wage war, the Arab country's government-owned daily Tishrin read on Monday.

The paper said that recent moves made by the US including supplying Israel with weapons and agreeing to a 30 billion dollar aid-package are methods the country was implementing to push the Jewish state to wage war on Damascus.

That all said, I'm inclined to believe its true. The neocons want the Mid-East in turmoil and, if the US can't invade Syria, Israel is the perfect proxy.

(read more)

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The War on Iraq Threatens the US Economy as Mass Murder Ceases to be Profitable

This really is self-evident, but very well written.
Seen yesterday on a swiss newspaper the folllowing headline: “American Dream, Global Nightmare”. It is fast becoming an American “cauchemar” as well. Albert Einstein wrote that the purpose of socialism is to overcome and advance beyond a “predatory phase of human development”. In Bush we have reverted to it.

To save you the trouble: Cauchemar means nightmare.

(read more)

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Fossil Fuels Better for Environment than Biofuels

Not a new topic here at SPIIDERWEB™. I've posted about this here, here and here.

This is fucking politics, folks. It ain't science. Its trying to appear like you're doing something about the US's reliance on oil while creating far worse problems.
It sounds counterintuitive, but burning oil and planting forests to compensate is more environmentally friendly than burning biofuel. So say scientists who have calculated the difference in net emissions between using land to produce biofuel and the alternative: fuelling cars with gasoline and replanting forests on the land instead. They recommend governments steer away from biofuel and focus on reforestation and maximising the efficiency of fossil fuels instead.

I'm nothing if not persistent.

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Must read IMHO

The headline:

The Lessons of Katrina Drowned Out By Corporate Media Propaganda

The Boston Globe has been doing some great work on environmental issues lately, which is certainly not “balanced” by it’s also publishing the predictable, pro-pollution, propaganda of its in-house conservative Jeff Jacoby. Unfortunately, as print on paper and without the backing of corporate mega-money, it won’t have much of an impact.

Yesterday’s op-ed by Derrick Z. Jackson about the impact of continued corporate propaganda should be read. Coming in the middle of Jacoby’s distortion of the reports in Newsweek about the conspiracy to keep America stupid on global warming, it’s a good place to start.

I have nothing to add, really. Its important to keep this "out there" so people think about it constantly.

As I've said many times, the earth will survive. So, probably, will cockroaches and insects. People? Now that's a whole other ballgame.

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Must read IMHO

The title is:

The War as We Saw It

An Op-Ed by 7 soldiers returning from Iraq and offered in the NYT. One quick snippet:
VIEWED from Iraq at the tail end of a 15-month deployment, the political debate in Washington is indeed surreal. Counterinsurgency is, by definition, a competition between insurgents and counterinsurgents for the control and support of a population. To believe that Americans, with an occupying force that long ago outlived its reluctant welcome, can win over a recalcitrant local population and win this counterinsurgency is far-fetched. As responsible infantrymen and noncommissioned officers with the 82nd Airborne Division soon heading back home, we are skeptical of recent press coverage portraying the conflict as increasingly manageable and feel it has neglected the mounting civil, political and social unrest we see every day. (Obviously, these are our personal views and should not be seen as official within our chain of command.)

So you judge. Who's right? Personally I believe those who've been in Iraq over the fat asses in Washington who make up their own reality. But its your choice.

(read more)

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The AK-47: A real weapon of mass destruction

The folklore of war features many weapons: the flintlock rifle of the Revolutionary War, the Henry repeating rifle in the Civil War and the M-series rifles that served American soldiers from World War I through modern times.

But no hand-held weapon has impacted the history of conflict more than the Soviet-designed AK-47.

(read more)

Then we come to the US M16.
However, Kalashnikov's AK47 isn't the only popular submachine gun out in the world, enter the M16. The United States Military began using the 223 caliber M16 during the Vietnam War. Some of the upsides to the M16 are that it weighs less and fires more accurately than the AK47. It is also easier to add modifications to the M16. The only problem with the M16 is that it can prove to be unreliable without proper maintenance. Some of the advantages to the AK47 over the M16 are that the former is easier to clean and repair, is more cost efficient, and has the option of select-fire, not to mention its quick fire rating. The downsides to the AK47 is that it is very loud, heavy, and not as accurate as the M16 by a long shot (no pun intended).

I have a question. If the AK-47 seems to be superior to the US M16, why haven't we reverse engineered the AK-47? Is it US pride? It isn't like we don't have AK-47s. We must have a ton of them.

The seeming advantage of the M16 seems to be its accuracy, but when you're shooting hundreds of rounds a second, who the fuck needs accuracy? I could bring down a pheasant in flight with one round.

Yes, I have hunted pheasants and killed quite a few. I'm beyond that, but still bad.

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Sunday, August 19, 2007

Lone US military officer goes on trial for Abu Ghraib abuse

Lieutenant Colonel Steven Jordan

Wow. Didn't think I'd be using my new term blackwash* so soon.

It appears the military is about make at least some effort in bringing an officer to justice.
Lieutenant Colonel Steven Jordan, the only military officer charged in the prisoner abuse scandal at Baghdad's Abu Ghraib jail, goes before a court martial Monday in Fort Meade, Maryland.

I seriously doubt this is the only officer who authorized or, at least, didn't stop the abuse at Abu Ghraib, but its a start.

*Blackwash: antonym for whitewash.

(read more)

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Fifty Iranian Guards train south Iraq militias--US

They just can't help catapulting the propaganda. Notice the use of "qualifying" words because these are just accusations with no basis in fact.
About 50 members of Iran's elite Revolutionary Guards are believed to be training Shi'ite militias in the use of mortars and rockets in southern Iraq, the general commanding U.S. troops in the area said on Sunday.

"We are concerned primarily about the training of Shi'ite extremists. We think there are about 50 members of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards," Major-General Rick Lynch, commander of U.S. forces south of Baghdad, told reporters.

Lynch said there had been an increase in "indirect fire attacks" on U.S. forces in his area of command and that rocket attacks were becoming "more accurate and more effective".

Washington has accused Shi'ite Muslim Iran of fomenting violence in Iraq through its support for Shi'ite militias, especially in southern Iraq. [emphasis mine]

(read more)

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Drown Union Reps In Paperwork

Very interesting story. Especially the last paragraph which should really discourage union participation.

One thing I find extremely interesting is I have worked for companies who, purportedly in an effort to avoid envy among employees, demanded workers keep their income/pay secret from other employees. How secret is your info if its posted on the internets tubes?

By Isaiah J. Poole on August 16, 2007 - 1:00pm.

A federally-imposed reporting requirement goes into effect today that is a transparent attempt by the Bush administration to intimidate union activists and hamper union activity. The tactic is to do to unions what conservatives complain liberals do to businesses: Bog them down in needless paperwork.

The rule would require thousands of shop stewards and others union volunteers to file a detailed financial disclosure form to the Department of Labor, which would then post the form on the Internet. The form in question is known as the "LM-30," formally the Labor Organization Officer and Employee Report. The final ruling was published in the Federal Register on July 2.

The nine-page form, which is so long the Office of Management and Budget estimates it would take at least two hours to fill out, is ostensibly intended to help union members ascertain if their representatives have financial conflicts of interest that would affect their ability to represent their members.

But the form is already required of union leaders. The problem is that the new reporting requirement reaches far beyond people who are even in a position to be "corrupt union bosses" - the straw men and women the conservatives behind this rule are trying to knock down - in an effort to make rank-and-file people think twice before helping their fellow workers file grievances or do other union-related activity. And, bear in mind, the rule is not a response to union members demanding more information; in fact, as the department concedes in the Federal Register, 300 comments about the reporting rule were received from unions or union members, "most of whom were critical of all or parts of the proposal."

Union members who do union work while on company time would have to report the amount of their salary they received while doing union business.

Just another low for the Bush administration. What weasels.

(read more)

H/T Rick Perlstein

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