Saturday, September 01, 2007

Mortgage Company Accused of Defrauding Katrina Victims

Now isn't this just peachy. It seem Countrywide, who's being hit by the housing market crunch, has found an instant source of income. All they have to do is break their promise to NOLA homeowners.
Angry homeowners hit hard by Hurricane Katrina are accusing Countrywide Home Loans of reneging on a promise to help them by temporarily suspending their mortgage payments.

According to a class-action lawsuit filed in Louisiana today, homeowners say the mortgage giant is now demanding any deferred payments be paid up immediately, often with interest and penalties attached. Plaintiffs' attorneys say that as a result, many struggling homeowners have been sent into foreclosure.

In a goodwill gesture after Katrina hit two years ago, Countrywide announced it would suspend mortgage payments for hurricane victims for up to 90 days. Homeowners say they were told by Countrywide agents that any deferred payments would be added to the back end of the loan term, and that no lump sum, interest or penalties would be imposed.

According to the lawsuit, however, homeowners have been notified by Countrywide that they have to either pay the entire deferred amount immediately or restructure their loan in a way that would cost them thousands of additional dollars.

My oh my those people have such warm hearts.

Via The Blotter.

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Cat blogging


Red Panda Ailurus
Fulgens or Shining Cat


Hah! One of those rare cases where it really is a cat.

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Gloom and doom

Compare and contrast the headline and the first picture below. Très étrange.

(Update below)

(Update 2 below)


It may just be me...no, its not just me at all. Its many people I'm sure.

I'm getting pretty fucking tired of feeling negative. Perhaps I should only post happy smiley things for a while. Sort of like Cute Overload , or The Daily Puppy or Webshots.

I shall present you an example from Anything They Say.
Two weeks "off the grid" impart a certain clear-eyed view of things not normally examined at larger scales. This is not a comforting realization, however, when that view results in the observation that very little actually changes on such a time scale. Rejoining the scene, all the familiar memes are seen to be operational, while various propaganda campaigns, both of commission and omission, jump at rested eyes. The bucolic laze and earnest manor of rural reaches accentuate and heighten an awareness of the dreadful nature of much of what passes for "information" in the age of corporate media, serving as it does an even worse agenda destined for an awful end. Except there is no end, only a continuation of the blight.

We live daily just wanting this horrific nightmare to be over.

We live daily with a complete imbecile in the White House who, depending upon whether he defecated that day or not, might throw the world into war.

We live daily with a deteriorating economy.

We live daily with schools that under-educate our children.

We live daily with an administration that spouts total nonsense.

We live daily with crumbling infrastructure.

We live daily with less and less freedom.

We live daily with declining security.

I could go on and on and on, but what's the point?

I feel like Eeyore.


Or Marvin*.



UPDATE: Maybe I've hit on a meme?

From Bloggasm:
With the doom and gloom storm clouds gathering, we’ve seen news article after article about layoffs in major newspaper companies.

UPDATE 2:

From Brilliant at Breakfast.
Can things get any worse for the Bush Administration?

Uh-huh, sure they can.

Maybe "abysmal"?

"Catastrophic"?

Or how about that old reliable standby "FUBAR"? Better keep a Thesaurus close, folks, we're gonna need it.

*If you don't know Marvin, read The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams. You'll be glad you did.

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Muahaha


Lee Merlin miss atomic bomb


This ain't gonna go over well in Bush country.
The UN nuclear agency said Thursday that Iran was producing less nuclear fuel than expected and praised Teheran for "a significant step forward" in explaining past atomic actions that have raised suspicions.

Is Iran planning to develop nukular* weapons? Damned if I know. But so far they've done nothing suspicious and they have signed the NPA the US hasn't signed. Should they not develop nukular weapons they're idiotic. Israel can hit Iran with nukes at any time (likely). So can Bush (likely). Nukes are the only way to ensure a country won't be attacked. duh!

No one attacks a nukular empowered country throughout history. No brainer in my mind.

Hey, that's a picture that showed up when I surfed for "nuclear bomb". Not my fault.

*Yes I know. It isn't nukular. Its nuclear. I'm just being perverse.

Via Intellectual thought.

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Friday, August 31, 2007

Smokin' OPs*


Stolen in its entirety from a bunch of numbers.
Where there's a will, Bunky, there's a way

By Ted Compton

The headline is all you need to know:

Teen cracks AU$84 million porn filter in 30 minutes

So funny. I never noticed the damn first apostrophe is in the wrong place on this album title and the second is unnecessary.

Personal note: I used to own an original master of this album. Unfortunately it's gone. C'est la vie. Or in American, shit happens.

Folks, unless you're as sick, demented, perverse as I am you may not respond to this as did I. I laughed my fucking ass off.

*Bob Seger "Smokin' other people's (cigarettes).

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'Being Slimed in the Green Zone'

I love Christopher's articles. He does his best to find out what's really going on in Iraq, he writes well, he's knowledgeable about the various Mid-East countries he writes about, he's knowledgeable about the various Mid-East religions and lastly he's there.

He could however do with a good proof reader as you will see.
It's very difficult to get accurate information out of Iraq. Spin is the order of the day, and it's even more difficult when the U.S. military does it in the Green Zone. I've seen my share of that. Once, I asked an American trainer about the makeup of the Iraqi Army unit he was working with. How many Shi'ites, Kurds, Sunnis? "Oh, we're about half Shi'ite and half Sunni," he said. "It's a great example of the two sects working together." I found this hard to believe, as this was a unit in Baghdad and it was about a year before the Sunni tribes had turned on Al Qaeda in Iraq and started joining the security forces. No Kurds? "Well, you know Kurds are mainly Sunnis," he replied. What rubbish. He knew the message of the day was Sunni and Shi'ite sittin' in a tree, f-i-g-h-t-i-n-g al Qaeda together, and he was determined to get it out, even if he had to push Kurds' Sunni-ness on me. (Kurds are probably the most secular of all Iraqis, and their ethnic identity is what defines them to other Iraqis, not their religion.)

...

On recent codel* (Congressional Delegation), Rep. Ellen O. Tauscher, D-Calif., and Rep. James P. Moran Jr., D-Va., both witnessed their bios -- complete with their harsh anti-war language highlighted -- distributed to military officials they were meeting with. The bios seem to split the visiting Congress members into "for us" and "agin' us" types, with Moran's most inflammatory anti-war comments highlighted, and Tauscher's voting record distorted to make it look like she voted against the troops. "This is beyond parsing," Tauscher said. "This is being slimed in the Green Zone."

*I just love how the military and military contractors find it necessary to always talk in acronyms.

Via Christopher.

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Panel Will Urge Broad Overhaul of Iraqi Police


Well, that headline is a little misleading in that the head of the commission says the current units of the police should "be scrapped". That's some "overhaul".

Now I'm not really sure he believes that. If he does, it would be a horrible mistake.

If the rotten eggs in the police department can't be uncovered, how in hell could they avoid rehiring them? I don't think he's thought this through.
An independent commission established by Congress to assess Iraq’s security forces will recommend remaking the 26,000-member national police force to purge it of corrupt officers and Shiite militants suspected of complicity in sectarian killings, administration and military officials said Thursday.

The commission, headed by Gen. James L. Jones, the former top United States commander in Europe, concludes that the rampant sectarianism that has existed since the formation of the police force requires that its current units “be scrapped” and reshaped into a smaller, more elite organization, according to one senior official familiar with the findings. The recommendation is that “we should start over,” the official said.

The report, which will be presented to Congress next week, is among a number of new Iraq assessments — including a national intelligence estimate and a Government Accountability Office [GAO] report — that await lawmakers when they return from summer recess. But the Jones commission’s assessment is likely to receive particular attention as the work of a highly regarded team that was alone in focusing directly on the worthiness of Iraq’s army and police force.

Via New York Times.

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Spy chief quote cited in Verizon lawsuit


If there's still any justice in America, these courts will adjudicate Bush overstepped his authority by illegally spying on Americans. If they find otherwise, except in a case of incompetence by the attorneys, we may all be doomed because it will signify Americans do indeed live in a dictatorship.

The US Bill of Rights is pretty clear on this. It was something the founders were genuinely afraid of. The right to privacy was sacrosanct to them.
A lawsuit alleging that Verizon Communications Inc. illegally turned over customer records as part of the Bush administration's warrantless surveillance program should go forward because of a recent admission by the U.S. spy chief, lawyers argued Thursday.

In a newspaper interview published last week, National Intelligence Director Mike McConnell acknowledged that private-sector companies helped the government investigate suspected terrorists in a probe authorized by President Bush after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

Outrage over the eavesdropping tactics, including obtaining private telephone logs without a warrant, has led to some 50 lawsuits against telecommunications companies and the government, all of which are before U.S. District Court Judge Vaughn Walker in San Francisco.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals is also hearing the government's request to dismiss two lawsuits, one filed by customers of AT&T Inc. against the company, and another brought by the now-defunct Oregon charity Al Haramain Islamic Foundation and two of its lawyers, who say the National Security Agency illegally listened to their calls.

The appeals court's ruling in those two cases will apply to the lawsuits before Walker.

Via Boston Globe.

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Petraeus says Iraq "surge" working: paper

HUGE FUCKING SURPRISE!!!1!! And that's 'nough said.
The U.S. troop surge in Iraq has thrown al Qaeda off balance and led to a reduction in sectarian violence and bombings, the U.S. commander in Iraq was quoted on Friday by an Australian newspaper as saying.

"We say we have achieved progress, and we are obviously going to do everything we can to build on that progress and we believe al Qaeda is off balance at the very least," General David Petraeus told the Australian in an interview after briefing Australia's defense minister, Brendan Nelson, in Baghdad.

Via Boston Globe.

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China finds worm-infested U.S. packaging


Those who live in glass houses...
China found microscopic worms and other harmful organisms in several batches of wooden packaging imported from the United States, state media said on Friday.

The pine wood nematodes were found in 13 sets of packaging in the manufacturing hub of Shenzhen, the China Daily said.

China has highlighted several quality concerns with U.S. products in apparent response to recent complaints in Washington about the safety of Chinese exports.

Admission: I have no idea if that picture is of the nematodes found by the Chinese, but I liked the image.

Via Reuters.

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Have to do it


Photo: Tom Pennington / Star-Telegram

It’s like a scene straight out of a horror flick: park rangers in Lake Tawakoni State Park, Texas, found a giant communal spider web that spans 200-yard (183 m):

Via Neatorama.

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White House pushes back on Iraq report


File under NO SHIT! The Goddamn GAO is coming at Bush's bubble world with a fucking pin.

Are you getting tired of the Bush administration? If not you aren't paying attention.

The Government Accounting Office (GAO), which is the only bureaucracy in Washington I trust, came out with their non-partisan assessment of the progress in Iraq and (ready for this?), Bushies didn't like it! Which can mean only one thing, they're gonna fucking strong arm the GAO to water it down.
An independent assessment concluding that Iraq has made little political progress in recent months despite an influx of U.S. troops drew fierce objections from the White House on Thursday and provided fresh ammunition for Democrats who want to bring troops home.

So its independent. Got it, but...
A draft report by the Government Accountability Office concluded Iraq has satisfied three of 18 benchmarks set by Congress and partially met two others, a senior administration official said Thursday. None of those are the high-profile political issues such as passage of a national oil revenue sharing law that the Bush administration has said are critical to Iraq's future.

Uh, they're our criteria and they haven't been met, but...
The officials spoke on condition of anonymity to describe internal deliberations that included lengthy meetings Thursday at the White House. The GAO may alter some of its findings in response to administration arguments, one official said.

I personally hope the folks at the GAO grab their balls and tell Bushco to go fuck themselves. They did their job. Stand by the report. There are other jobs out there and Bush won't be around that much longer.

I have a response to this whole story. Its as civil as I can be about Bush. Fuck him and the horse he rode in on. Sorry.

Ouch! Splinters, splinters. Forget the horse.

Note: All emphasis dès moi.

Via Yahoo! News.

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Into thin air



How many years now you fucking incompetent president? Oh yeah, six years!

But of course he was the top priority. But Bush later said he was not. Sorry, but can't find the fucking news items in Google.

This is interesting.
President Bush and Vice President Cheney have publicly stated that the top-secret domestic spying program Bush authorized in 2002 could have thwarted the 9/11 attacks had the controversial, and possibly illegal, measure been in effect prior to the terrorist strike on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.

Bush's and Cheney's comments have gone virtually unchallenged by reporters covering the spying story and by a majority of Democratic lawmakers critical of the issue.

However, the reality is much different from what Bush and Cheney would have you believe. The fact of the matter is that the Bush administration ignored hard evidence from its top intelligence officials between April and September of 2001 about an impending attack by al-Qaeda on US soil. There's no chance that the National Security Agency's domestic wiretapping initiative would have saved the lives of 3,000 American citizens if an intelligence memo titled "Bin Laden determined to attack inside US" that President Bush received a month before 9/11 couldn't move Bush to take such threats seriously.

Since the New York Times broke the domestic spying story last month, the Bush administration has launched a full-scale publicity campaign aimed at convincing an unsuspecting public that the program is legal and has saved thousands of lives. It's the administration's attempt to control the news cycle.

But to suggest that the 9/11 attacks could have been avoided if the NSA had had domestic surveillance powers is outrageous.

Simply put, terrorism was not a priority for the Bush administration during the first nine months of 2001. As former Bush administration counter-terrorism czar Richard Clarke told the 9/11 Commission investigating the attacks in 2004: "To the loved ones of the victims of 9/11, to them who are here in the room, to those who are watching on television, your government failed you."

Clarke served as a White House counter-terrorism official in three presidential administrations.

The truth is that the administration received warnings about al-Qaeda's intentions to use jetliners as bombs in August 2001, but it was too busy obsessing about a war with Iraq to take action. Although President Bush has maintained over the years that terrorism was his number one priority before 9/11, evidence suggests otherwise.

A little known article in the January 11, 2001, edition of the New York Times titled "Iraq Is Focal Point as Bush Meets with Joint Chiefs" confirms that the administration was more interested in toppling Saddam Hussein than dealing with the growing threat of domestic terrorism.

"George W. Bush, the nation's commander in chief to be, went to the Pentagon today for a top-secret session with the Joint Chiefs of Staff to review hot spots around the world where he might have to send American forces into harm's way," the Times story says.

Bush was joined at the Pentagon meeting by Vice President Dick Cheney, Secretary of State Colin L. Powell, Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld, and National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice.

The Times reported that "half of the 75-minute meeting focused on a discussion about Iraq and the Persian Gulf, two participants said. Iraq was the first topic briefed because 'it's the most visible and most risky area Mr. Bush will confront after he takes office, one senior officer said.'" [emphasis mine]

How can someone decide the future of a nation and possibly the world in 37 minutes? Is this an idiot? Ya better bet your sweet ass he is.

Lengthy excerpt via Get Poor.

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Thursday, August 30, 2007

Iraq says making progress ahead of key reports

Just go here to see what the Government Accounting Office thinks about Iraqi progress. Its an earlier post of mine so regular readers probably have seen it already.
Iraq's foreign minister said on Thursday the government had made good progress in responding to U.S. goals for improved security and political cohesion ahead of key reports soon to be delivered to the U.S. Congress.

The U.S. commander in Iraq, General David Petraeus, and U.S. ambassador Ryan Crocker will testify before Congress on either September 11 or 12.

Their reports on Iraq's security and political situation could prompt a shift in U.S. President George W. Bush's Iraq policy amid calls from opposition Democrats and some senior Republicans for U.S. troops to start leaving Iraq.

"The whole world is waiting anxiously to see what these reports will indicate," Foreign Minister Hoshiyar Zebari told a news conference.

Zebari said there had been a "great deal" of progress on the security front in Iraq, while an agreement at the weekend by the country's top five Shi'ite, Sunni Arab and Kurdish leaders to boost national reconciliation was a "significant move".

Via Reuters.

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The Rip-off in Iraq: You Will Not Believe How Low the War Profiteers Have Gone

This is a must read IMHO. It's long and I'm not going to excerpt it. Its all good.
I will give you the sub heading:
In Iraq, private contractors are guaranteed huge profits no matter how badly they fuck things up.

Via AlterNet (Reuters).

Originally from Rolling Stone.

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A Rigged Report on U.S. Voting?

Its interesting I'm running into news stories that aren't really news but confirmations of things most of us already knew.

This is slightly different because I'd not heard about this "impartial report" nor of how drastically it was altered. An excerpt from the WaPo op-ed:
By Tova Andrea Wang

After the 2000 Florida election debacle, Congress established a body called the Election Assistance Commission [EAC] to improve voting and democracy in this country. Two years ago, the commission approached me about doing a project that would take a preliminary look at voter fraud and intimidation and make recommendations for further research on the issues.

Because my approach to election issues tends to be more closely aligned with Democrats, I was paired with a Republican co-author. To further remove any taint of partisanship, my co-author and I convened a bipartisan working group to help us. We spent a year doing research and consulting with leaders in the field to produce a draft report. What happened next seems inexplicable. After submitting the draft in July 2006, we were barred by the commission's staff from having anything more to do with it.

What was the problem? In all the time we were doing our research and drafting the report, neither the staff nor the commissioners, who were continually advised of our activities and the substance of our work, raised any concerns about the direction we were going or the research findings.

Yet, after sitting on the draft for six months, the EAC publicly released a report -- citing it as based on work by me and my co-author -- that completely stood our own work on its head.

Via Washington Post.

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Us bars American witnesses from inquests of British soldiers

This sure doesn't sound like any way to treat an ally. And England doesn't think so too.
American witnesses will not be allowed to travel to the UK to attend inquests into the deaths of British soldiers serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. A letter sent to all coroners in England and Wales makes it clear that US military personnel will not cooperate with their inquiries.

In a document published yesterday, the Ministry of Defence makes it clear that requests from coroners for witnesses to appear will be turned down. The document says: "The US have confirmed categorically that they will not provide witnesses to attend UK inquests. While coroners may continue to ask for US witnesses to attend ... they should be aware that there will in all cases be a refusal."

...

Earlier this year the Oxfordshire assistant deputy coroner, Andrew Walker, criticised US authorities for failing to send witnesses to the inquest into the death of Lance Corporal of Horse Matty Hull, who was killed when two American A10 jets strafed his convoy in Iraq. He described their behaviour as "appalling".

The US authorities have made it clear they will only cooperate with military inquiries and will seek the return of all documents provided.

...

The US and UK work together to investigate the circumstances surrounding friendly fire incidents and their findings are made available to the coroner, as national and operational security and data protection allow.

In other words, if a coroner finds evidence that contradicts the joint US / UK investigation, its impossible to bring in US witnesses to the incident to clarify the discrepancy. Sure should make some family members feel great about how accurate the information is given them by the Ministry of Defence.

Pat Tillman comes to mind.

Via Guardian.

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Little Progress Seen on Iraq Goals

Ah, will Petraeus agree with this assessment? Don't bet on it.
Congressional auditors have determined that the Iraqi government has failed to meet the vast majority of political and military goals laid out by lawmakers to assess President Bush's Iraq war strategy, The Associated Press has learned.

The Government Accountability Office, or GAO [as always, ya gotta love 'em], will report that at least 13 of the 18 benchmarks to measure the surge of U.S. troops to Iraq are unfulfilled ahead of a Sept. 15 deadline for Bush to give a detailed accounting of the situation eight months after he announced the policy, according to three officials familiar with the matter.

The officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the report has not been made public, also said the administration is preparing a case to play down its findings, arguing that Congress ordered the GAO to use unfair, "all or nothing" standards when compiling the document. [emphasis mine]

All or nothing? Correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't that how "goals" are supposed to work? If your goal is to run the Boston Marathon, isn't stopping in the middle failure? Yeah, I thought so.

Via Guardian.

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"Queen of Mean" Helmsley leaves $12 mln for dog


Leona Helmsley's dog,
Trouble, was her main
companion in later years


I wasn't gonna even mention this bitch (Helmsley, not the dog) until I read this story.

Did anyone mourn her death? I sure hope not.
U.S. real estate billionaire Leona Helmsley gave her favorite dog Trouble 12 million dollars in her will but nothing for two of her grandchildren, media reported on Thursday.

Via Xinhua.

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Bush assumes we are idiots, well are we?

Except for the loyal sheep who hang on everything the idiot in chief does, everyone is turning against him. And this guy is one of the serious adults who blog.
One question is whether or not the country will buy Bush's crap again.

Another question is whether or not our Congress has the backbone to stop him.

Bush is clearly planning for war again.

People are tired of Bush and tired of watching our troops die in countries which haven't attacked US and probably are unlikely to do so in the future.

Via Thoughts of a Minister.

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Israel Told U.S. to Attack Iran, Not Iraq After 9/11

This should come as no surprise to anyone.
Israeli officials warned the George W. Bush administration that an invasion of Iraq would be destabilising to the region and urged the United States to instead target Iran as the primary enemy, according to former administration official Lawrence Wilkerson.

Wilkerson, then a member of the State Department's Policy Planning Staff and later chief of staff for Secretary of State Colin Powell, recalled in an interview with IPS that the Israelis reacted immediately to indications that the Bush administration was thinking of war against Iraq. After the Israeli government picked up the first signs of that intention, Wilkerson says, "The Israelis were telling us Iraq is not the enemy -- Iran is the enemy."

Wilkerson describes the Israeli message to the Bush administration in early 2002 as being, "If you are going to destabilise the balance of power, do it against the main enemy."

Don't ya just love it? The Israelis had no problem with creating turmoil and bloodshed in the Mid-East as long it was where they wanted it done. Such compassion.

Via Mathaba.

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Marines’ Trials in Iraq Killings Are Withering

Damn it! I was afraid this might happen. Twenty four dead civilians and no one is guilty?
Last December, when the Marine Corps charged four infantrymen with killing Iraqi civilians in Haditha, Iraq, in 2005, the allegation was as dark as it was devastating: after a roadside bomb had killed their buddy, a group of marines rampaged through nearby homes, massacring 24 innocent people.

In Iraq and in the United States, the killings were viewed as cold-blooded vengeance. After a perfunctory military investigation, Haditha was brushed aside, but once the details were disclosed, the killings became an ugly symbol of a difficult, demoralizing war. After a fuller investigation, the Marines promised to punish the guilty.

But now, the prosecutions have faltered. Since May, charges against two infantrymen and a Marine officer have been dismissed, and dismissal has been recommended for murder charges against a third infantryman. Prosecutors were not able to prove even that the killings violated the American military code of justice.

Now their final attempt to get a murder conviction is set to begin, with a military court hearing on Thursday for Staff Sgt. Frank D. Wuterich, the last marine still facing that charge. He is accused of killing 18 Iraqis, including several women and children, after the attack on his convoy.

If the legal problems that have thwarted the prosecutors in other cases are repeated this time, there is a possibility that no marine will be convicted for what happened in Haditha. [emphasis mine]

Now I have no idea whether one Marine killed all 24 or they all participated, but someone is guilty. It has never been established that this was some fucking mass suicide.

Via New York Times.

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Pentagon won't make surge recommendation to Bush

Not that it matters one whit what they recommend. Its pretty clear by now Bush will do what Bush wants to do regardless what his experts say.
In a sign that top commanders are divided over what course to pursue in Iraq, the Pentagon said Wednesday that it won't make a single, unified recommendation to President Bush during next month's strategy assessment, but instead will allow top commanders to make individual presentations.

Via McClatchy.

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PCMAG Writer Suggests That Hospitals Should Start 'Chipping' Babies At Birth


Children are not pets nor garments. This is such a bad idea I'm amazed anyone would even consider it.

At least male circumcision has some justification.
Editor's Note [the real professional editor, not me]: Technology can be used to enhance our lives or it can be used to enslave us. On the surface Radio Frequency Identification Implants would be a good idea for tracking UPS packages and managing stock supplies in grocery stores. It won't just be used for that simple purpose. RFID Beacons will be placed in many stores and malls. It will locate your RFID tags in your clothing and body which can be read from 15 to 20 feet and mine the data and market products specifically to you.

RFID in passports, car security systems and other areas have already been proven insecure and compromised. An implanted individual is literally broadcasting their identity to the world. I could see in the next 10 to 15 years hospitals offering RFID chipping. While the hospital doesn't tell you the pros and cons of being circumcized, they surely won't know the technical details about RFID. There are other ways to protect your chidren naturally. If you are thinking of chipping your children please do some research and make your decision knowing the risks.

Ain't ya glad I chose the picture I did? Yeah I'm tasteless, but not totally.

I've told you before that's the only pocket knife you'll ever need and it works as a circumcision tool too. Kewl, huh?

Via BlackListed News.

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Making money the old fashioned way


No! Not by stripping, but by extortion.
Large grocery and discount stores across the country have been targeted by a caller who threatens to blow up shoppers and workers with a bomb if employees fail to wire money to an account overseas, authorities said.

Frightened workers have wired thousands of dollars - and in one case took off their clothes - to placate a caller who said he was watching them but may have been thousands of miles away. The FBI and police said Wednesday they are investigating similar bomb threats at more than 15 stores in at least 11 states - all in the past week.

"At this point, there's enough similarities that we think it's potentially one person or one group," FBI spokesman Rich Kolko said from Washington.

Yes I'm assuming the caller is male and the employee female. I'm in control here and can establish the assumptions.

Via Associated Press.

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History Will Not Absolve Us

OMG, but Nat Hentoff is good!

He's right ya know. Congress should be investigating. That's part of their mandate. You can't personally do much about all this, but you can damn well insist your elected representatives do.
If and when there's the equivalent of an international Nuremberg trial for the American perpetrators of crimes against humanity in Guantánamo, Iraq, Afghanistan, and the CIA's secret prisons, there will be mounds of evidence available from documented international reports by human-rights organizations, including an arm of the European parliament—as well as such deeply footnoted books as Stephen Grey's Ghost Plane: The True Story of the CIA Torture Program (St. Martin's Press) and Charlie Savage's just-published Takeover: The Return of the Imperial Presidency and the Subversion of American Democracy (Little, Brown).

While the Democratic Congress has yet to begin a serious investigation into what many European legislators already know about American war crimes, a particularly telling report by the International Committee of the Red Cross has been leaked that would surely figure prominently in such a potential Nuremberg trial. The Red Cross itself is bound to public silence concerning the results of its human-rights probes of prisons around the world—or else governments wouldn't let them in.

But The New Yorker's Jane Mayer has sources who have seen accounts of the Red Cross interviews with inmates formerly held in CIA secret prisons. In "The Black Sites" (August 13, The New Yorker), Mayer also reveals the effect on our torturers of what they do—on the orders of the president—to "protect American values."

She quotes a former CIA officer: "When you cross over that line of darkness, it's hard to come back. You lose your soul. You can do your best to justify it, but . . . you can't go back to that dark a place without it changing you."

Few average Americans have been changed, however, by what the CIA does in our name. Blame that on the tight official secrecy that continues over how the CIA extracts information. On July 20, the Bush administration issued a new executive order authorizing the CIA to continue using these techniques—without disclosing anything about them.

If we, the people, are ultimately condemned by a world court for our complicity and silence in these war crimes, we can always try to echo those Germans who claimed not to know what Hitler and his enforcers were doing. But in Nazi Germany, people had no way of insisting on finding out what happened to their disappeared neighbors.

We, however, have the right and the power to insist that Congress discover and reveal the details of the torture and other brutalities that the CIA has been inflicting in our name on terrorism suspects.

Via Village Voice.

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Sadr calls six-month ceasefire to prevent civil war


The Shia nationalist cleric Muqtada al-Sadr suspended the activities of his powerful Mehdi Army militia for six months yesterday after clashes in the holy city of Kerbala killed 52 people and forced hundreds of thousands of pilgrims to flee.

His spokesman, Sheikh Hazim al-Araji, said in a statement on state television that the aim was to "rehabilitate" the militia, which is currently divided into factions. Significantly, Mr Araji said that the Mehdi Army will no longer make attacks on US and other coalition forces. This may ease the pressure on British troops in Basra, who have come under repeated attack from the Mehdi Army.

The surprise move by Mr Sadr eases fears that escalating battles between Shia militias were turning into an intra-Shia civil war. The Mehdi Army has been battling police and security forces in Kerbala that are largely manned by the Badr Organisation, the military wing of the Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council (SIIC).

I've posted repeatedly al-Sadr is the "power" in Iraq. Anything he does is news worthy and extremely important.

Note: I've supplied no links to my earlier posts out of inherent laziness, but you can search on the sidebar.

Via The Independent.

Counter point here. Or at least further analysis.

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Morass? We've Got All The Ass We Can Handle!



No post. I just loved the headline.

J-who?

To my female readers: I couldn't find a male equivalent of that picture or I would have used it. My apologies if you're offended.

Via Roger Ailes.

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And you think you have it bad?


Jesus H Christ on roller blades, but this poor guy never seemed to catch a break.
Richard Jewell, the former security guard who was erroneously linked to the 1996 Olympic bombing, died Wednesday, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation said.
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Jewell, 44, was found dead in his west Georgia home, GBI spokesman John Bankhead said.

"There's no suspicion whatsoever of any type of foul play. He had been at home sick since the end of February with kidney problems," said Meriwether County Coroner Johnny Worley.

The GBI planned to do an autopsy Thursday, Bankhead said.

Lin Wood, Jewell's longtime attorney, said in an e-mail to The Associated Press that he was "devastated" by the news. He declined to comment further, saying he was in New York trying to get back to Atlanta.

Jewell was initially hailed as a hero for spotting a suspicious backpack in a park and moving people out of harm's way just before a bomb exploded during a concert at the Atlanta Summer Olympics.

The blast killed one and injured 111 others.

Three days after the bombing, an unattributed report in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution described him as "the focus" of the investigation.

Other media, to varying degrees, also linked Jewell to the investigation. He was never arrested or charged, although he was questioned and was a subject of search warrants.

As recently as last year, Jewell was working as a sheriff's deputy.

That's it, 'nough said.

Via Yahoo! News.

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Elves do exist


This from Japan. Believe your eyes.

And someone explain to me why the plural of elf is elves and not elfs? I'm drowning here.

I hate this fucking language.

Not true. I love this fucking language, but am always getting pissed off about its bashing you over the head with "rules". I was raised on fonics and elfs make perfect sense to me.

OK, maybe home education isn't perfekt. Mommy tried.

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Katrina: Slavery returns to Miss. and Ala.


Sometimes tears are the only proper response.
The invaluable Center for Southern Studies tell the story of a labor "recruiter" who dispatched a police captain to kidnap a group of Mexican pipe-fitters and welders who fled an abusive work site. The cop said the recruiter was their "owner." Read the workers testimony:

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Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Must read IMHO


If you don't read Foreign Policy Watch regularly you should be flogged. I'm available for that in case you need help.

Sorry, but excerpting this post is impossible for me. However I was able to steal Matt's graphic. Muahahaha.

Yeah, I know I have limited abilities, but please don't point them out to me.

Thanx.

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NOLA


Six fucking words, folks.

TWO FUCKING YEARS WITH NO RELIEF!

Bush in action. Spare me.

Jesus H Christ with a checker board, but I hate this man-child and the devastation he's wrought on the world, and his complete disdain for the people ravaged by Katrina.

I'm no saint, hahaha, not close, but I could never ever treat any American as has Bush. He has no compassion and no soul.

If he's really as concerned about religion and his place in the afterlife, he's fucking blown it.

Inspired, although unitentionally, by Dependable Renegade.

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Sorry, but so fucking true


This is such a horrible example of how Bush "protects / cares for the American people" that...

If you voted for this cretin, just commit suicide so you can never vote again, K?

Via Big Shot Bob in Texas.

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Bush press release

Ya heard it here first.

Bush to issue press release. Yes I'm gonna bomb the shit out of those fucking Iranians. Just try to stop me you lily livered Democrats.

Reporters will say its the first honest words out of Bush's mouth.

Hallelujah.

Cross posted as comment at A Tiny Revolution.

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Humorous


South Padre Island, Texas


Drunk guy: Dude, which way is the beach?!
Sober friend: We're on an island! You figure it out!

--South Padre Island, Texas

Via Overheard at the Beach.

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Split verdict for officer at Abu Ghraib


In an earlier post about this officer I coined the term blackwash as the antonym of whitewash because Jordon was being given a court martial. Seems whitewash was the word I needed after all.
A military court acquitted an Army officer Tuesday of failing to control U.S. soldiers who abused detainees at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq, but it found him guilty of disobeying an order not to discuss the abuse investigation.

Lt. Col. Steven L. Jordan was the only officer and the last of 12 defendants to go to trial in the 2003 Abu Ghraib scandal, which embarrassed the Pentagon and shocked the Muslim world.

The allegations at the U.S.-run prison came to light with the release of pictures of U.S. soldiers smiling while detainees, some of them naked, were held on leashes or in painful and humiliating positions at the prison. Jordan, 51, never appeared in the inflammatory photos, but he was accused of fostering a climate conducive to abuse.

The jury of nine colonels and one brigadier general deliberated for about seven hours before issuing its verdicts Tuesday. It also deliberated on a sentence Tuesday but recessed and is scheduled to continue Wednesday.

Prosecutors recommended that Jordan be reprimanded and fined one month's pay, about $7,400. The defense asked the panel for no punishment.

The jury acquitted Jordan of three counts: cruelty and maltreatment for subjecting detainees to forced nudity and intimidation by dogs; dereliction of a duty to properly train and supervise soldiers in humane interrogation rules; and failing to obey a lawful general order by ordering dogs used for interrogations without higher approval.

The jury found him guilty of one: disobeying a general's order not to talk to others about the investigation into the abuse. [emphasis mine]

...

He faces a maximum sentence of five years.

I don't know much about the military, but why is he convicted of disobeying one order and not for disobeying the lawful general order?

And its pretty obvious the five year sentence is moot if they've already recommended Jordon be reprimanded and fined.

Via Yahoo! News.

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Truth in advertising.


This has to be dispersed far and wide. K?

Via Water Tiger.

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Sarkozy repeats the big lie about Iran

Has the Bush administration got to him? Is he an idiot? Has he gotten too much sun?

An article appeared in the Times (UK) yesterday with this headline: "Sarkozy talks of bombing if Iran gets nuclear arms". Here's the first three paragraphs:

President Sarkozy called Iran’s nuclear ambition the world’s most dangerous problem yesterday and raised the possibility that the country could be bombed if it persisted in building an atomic weapon.

Later in the article come references to Iran's "nuclear aims" and how "a nuclear-armed Iran would be unacceptable." Charitably, one might describe all these references as indirect quotes, but not once does the article include even the most cursory of boilerplate language noting the fact that Iran has denied any such intention and that there isn't the slightest evidence that it is "building an atomic weapon."

Out of such subtleties is public opinion in the world of the "free press" molded.

Do any of you seriously think an attack on Iran is NOT inevitable? Spare me.

Be prepared for stamps that limit how much you can get, how much gas is available to you. Anyone for war stamps? Raise your hands.

Before WWII people were fat and happy. The world was their oyster. Duh!

Then came WWII and people couldn't buy sugar, tires, milk. This is how WW IV will be. Your nice comfortable world will be destroyed. Think something just short of Terminator. Israel and Bush are moving toward this and now France has joined the parade.

And Bush, France and the US congress are pushing for a third world war in theory by applyng pressure on Iran. Is Iran innocent? Who the fuck knows, but they are right now.

Cross posted at Brilliant at Breakfast.

Via Left Eye on the News.

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Tuesday, August 28, 2007

be free


Da record...yeah111!11
Not for a cause but for artistic photography, 18,000 people stripped themselves to pose for U.S. photographic artist Spencer Tunick on Sunday in Mexico City’s Zocalo square.

Tunick is a very famous photographer who is best known for photographs which features [sic] ‘nude’ masses posed in artistic formations. In 1986, he photographed a nude at London bus stand and this became his gateway to artistic nude photography.

I have absolutely no problem with nudity except mine would induce nausea. I even hate to see my naked body.

Have I informed you lately this is an eclectic/rojak sight? Just asking.

via Everything weird.

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I'm pissed off


People are going on and on about Senator Larry Craig (R-ID).

What he does with a willing partner is none my business nor of yours.

The guy should have been more discreet. Granted. He is a hypocrite because of his voting record and marriage to a woman, but that is also none of our business except...

I agree his indiscretion is our business. He's an elected official of the US Senate. He should be smarter than I.

His voting record.

4/26/07 Vote 147: H R 1591:

House and Senate conferees approved this legislation providing $124.2 billion primarily for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and setting benchmarks and a timetable for the withdrawal of troops from Iraq, but President Bush vetoed the bill on May 1.

The measure, which also addresses a wide variety of unrelated issues, makes emergency supplemental appropriations for the fiscal year ending Sept. 30.

The conference agreement on H.R. 1591 also aims to improve health care for returning soldiers and veterans. It addresses needs related to hurricane recovery for the Gulf Coast, bolsters homeland security programs and provides emergency drought relief for farmers.

The legislation says that troops in Iraq would not have their service extended beyond a year for any tour of duty. It also mandates that the president must certify that the Iraqi government is meeting certain diplomatic and security benchmarks. If that certification is made, deployment would begin no later than Oct. 1, 2007, with a goal of completing the redeployment by within 180 days. Some U.S. forces could remain in Iraq for special counterterrorism efforts along with protection, training and equipping Iraqi troops.

According to a bill summary provided by the House Appropriations Committee, the legislation seeks to make it possible for the U.S. military to focus resources on al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden and to destroy his base of operations in Afghanistan.

The conference report also provides $3 billion for special vehicles designed to withstand roadside bombs, and it increases from 20 to 270 the number of heavy and light armored vehicles authorized to be purchased for force protection purposes in Iraq and Afghanistan. It prohibits government funds from being used to establish any military installation or base for a permanent stationing of U.S. armed forces in Iraq and does not allow funds to be used to exercise U.S. control over any Iraqi oil resource.

It does not fund two Joint Strike fighters and five of six electronic attack airplanes because lawmakers say they are not urgent.

The conference agreement provides $268 million for the FBI, that’s about $150 million above the president’s request. The agency’s budget includes $10 million for the FBI to implement the Office of Inspector General’s recommendations about the use of special secret subpoenas called national security letters.

On the homeland security front, it provides funding for port and mass transit security as well as other similar investments for a total of $2.25 billion.

Meanwhile, farmers and ranchers would get $3.5 billion to help ameliorate agricultural disasters. The agreement also includes emergency funding for forest firefighting, low-income home energy assistance and pandemic flu preparations.

The legislation includes $5 billion for health care for returning troops and veterans, $8.9 billion for victims of hurricanes Katrina and Rita. It also offers approximately $650 million for a children’s state health insurance program.

It phases in a federal minimum wage increase to $7.25 an hour and applies the increase to the Northern Mariana Islands. It also amends tax law to allow certain benefits for small businesses that were not included in the House or Senate bills.

It provides an additional $17 million for domestic violence programs.

Among many other things, it makes additional fiscal 2008 appropriations for the U.S. Agency for International Development along with funding for a program aiding Africa, and monies for international narcotics control and enforcement, refugee assistance and international broadcasting operations.
No No Yes
3/29/07 Vote 126: H R 1591:

This $122 billion war spending bill calls for combat troops to begin withdrawing from Iraq this summer. The 51-47 vote fell mostly along party lines. Two Republicans -- Sens. Chuck Hagel of Nebraska and Gordon Smith of Oregon -- joined Democrats in support of the package, which would fund U.S. military activity in Iraq and Afghanistan. But Democrats also attached language that would start troop withdrawals within 120 days of passage, with a March 31, 2008, goal for completing the process.

The bill addresses many unrelated issues. It offers funds for disaster relief and recovery stemming from hurricanes Katrina and Rita, funds influenza pandemic response programs, offers disaster assistance for livestock and crops, and makes appropriations to bolster Medicare and Medicaid.

It also requires the secretary of Defense to inspect military medical treatment facilities and housing. It prohibits the use of funds in this or any other act to change essential services at Walter Reed Army Medical Center until certain requirements are met.

It requires the Congressional Budget Office to report to appropriators on anticipated funds necessary for the departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs to continue providing health care to Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans.

It also requires the Coast Guard to exercise competition for contracts related to the Integrated Deepwater System Program.

Lastly, among many other things, it provides funds to assist Liberia, Jordan and Lebanon.
No No Yes
3/15/07 Vote 75: S J RES 9: This non-binding resolution would have revised U.S. policy on Iraq. However, it was defeated 48-50. The measure had directed the president to begin a phased redeployment of U.S. forces from Iraq within 120 days of the resolution’s enactment. The measure’s main sponsor, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada, sought redeployment by Mar. 31, 2008, of all U.S. combat forces from Iraq. It included exceptions for certain forces charged with protecting coalition members as well as those who support infrastructure, conduct training, equip Iraqi forces and conduct counter-terrorism operations. The resolution also had directed the president to report to Congress on the progress of the suggested plan. Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Tim Johnson (D-S.D.) did not vote. No No Yes
2/1/07 Vote 42: H R 2: This bill would increase the federal minimum wage from $5.15 an hour to $7.25 an hour over two years. It would increase the minimum wage in three increments. Sixty days after enactment, the minimum wage is to be raised to $5.85. A year after that it will be $6.55, and a year after that it will be $7.25. This would be the first change to the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 since 1997 when the federal minimum wage was increased from $4.75 to $5.15 an hour. The bill would also apply the federal minimum wage to the Northern Mariana Islands, a territory of the United States. The legislation passed in the Senate on Feb. 1, 2007, on a 94-3 vote. The Senate measure includes about $8 billion over 10 years in tax breaks for businesses like restaurants, which is likely to be a sticking point when the chamber tries to reconcile its version with the House. The House passed its version of the bill on Jan. 10, 2007, with a vote of 315-116. Every House Democrat voted in favor of the proposal along with 82 Republicans. Yes Yes Yes
1/18/07 Vote 19: S 1: The measure is designed to provide greater transparency in the legislative process and is commonly known as the “ethics reform” bill.

The bill amends Senate rules in an effort to make more transparent legislative earmarks. It also aims to make clearer the relationship of lobbyists and lawmakers by changing rules governing meals and travel that lobbyists provide to lawmakers and their staff. The bill also makes some restrictions on post-employment for members and staff.

For example, the bill amends a current rule so that if a member’s spouse or immediate family member is a registered lobbyist or works for a lobbyist, that the lawmaker’s staff is not allowed to have any official contact with the lawmaker’s spouse or immediate family member.

Among other things, the measure requires all Senate bills or conference reports to include a list of earmarks in the measure, to list the lawmaker who introduced the earmark, and to explain why the earmark is essential.

It also requires public disclosure of a senator’s intent to object to proceeding to a measure or matter.

The bill also requires that conference reports be posted on the Internet for at least 48 hours before the Senate considers the report. Yes Yes Yes
9/29/06 Vote 262: H R 6061: H.R. 6061; Secure Fence Act of 2006 Yes Yes Yes
9/28/06 Vote 259: S 3930: S. 3930 As Amended; Military Commissions Act of 2006 Yes Yes No
8/3/06 Vote 229: On the Cloture Motion: Motion to Invoke Cloture on the Motion to Proceed to Consider H.R.5970; Estate Tax and Extension of Tax Relief Act of 2006 Yes Yes No
7/18/06 Vote 206: H R 810: This legislation would allow federal funding for research on stem cell lines derived from embryos that would otherwise be destroyed. No No Yes
6/27/06 Vote 189: S J RES 12: This vote would have given Senate approval to a proposed constitutional amendment that would give Congress the authority to ban 'desecration of the American flag.' Yes Yes No
6/22/06 Vote 182: S 2766: This amendment called on the president to withdraw troops from Iraq, but set no firm deadline. No No Yes
6/22/06 Vote 181: S 2766: This amendment to the annual defense appropriations bill would have set a firm deadline for the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq. No No No
6/7/06 Vote 163: On the Cloture Motion: A Senate cloture vote on the gay marriage amendment failed, effectively killing the amendment. Yes Yes No
5/25/06 Vote 157: S 2611: Would tighten border security and establish guest worker and "path to citizenship" programs Yes No Yes
5/11/06 Vote 118: H R 4297: Extended the Bush tax cuts. Yes Yes No
3/2/06 Vote 29: H R 3199: Reauthorized a slightly modified version of the 2001 USA Patriot Act. Yes Yes Yes
1/31/06 Vote 2: On the Nomination: Confirmation of Samuel A. Alito, Jr. to be an Associate Supreme Court Justice. Yes Yes No
12/21/05 Vote 363: On the Motion: Cut nearly $40 billion from the federal budget by imposing substantial changes on welfare, child support and student lending programs. Yes Yes No
10/5/05 Vote 249: H R 2863: Supported a ban on cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment of detainees held by U.S. forces and to requires the military to follow the Army field manual for interrogations. Yes Yes Yes
9/29/05 Vote 245: On the Nomination: Confirmation of John G. Roberts, Jr., to be Chief Justice of the United States. Yes Yes
7/29/05 Vote 213: H R 6: Offered tax breaks and incentives in what supporters said was an effort to spur oil and gas companies to provide innovative wasy to reduce the nation's dependence on foreign oil, conserve resources and reduce pollution. Yes Yes Yes
6/30/05 Vote 170: S 1307: Established a free trade zone between the United States, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua; a separate agreement with the Dominican Republican was also included in the measure. No Yes No
6/20/05 Vote 142: On the Cloture Motion: Blocked, for the second time, the confirmation President Bush's choice for U.N. Ambassador, John Bolton. Those opposed to the confirmation voted "no" on a measure to limit debate. Those in favor of the confirmation fell short of the 60 votes needed to limit debate and move the nomination process forward. Yes Yes No
3/10/05 Vote 44: S 256: Made it harder for people to erase debt by declaring bankruptcy. Yes Yes No
2/10/05 Vote 9: S 5: Sought to curtail the ability of plaintiffs to file class-action lawsuits against corporations by making cases that were filed in multiple states the responsibility of federal courts. Yes Yes No

He's a slug, K? Ya gotta trust me, I always tie the graphic to the story or comment.

Sorry for the formating, but it is as it is. I'm no expert and take what I get.

Cross posted at Brilliant at Breakfast.

The original voting record.

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great name

Needles CA.

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The Wealthy Get an Extra Shield for Wildfires


OK, granted AIG has a huge exposure in Idaho, but this is just wrong. Once again the wealthy are getting perks not available to the rest of us schmoes.

I've never had the ability to pay $10,000 for all the insurance I've carried, homeowners, auto, mortgage and certainly not just for homeowners insurance.

Actually that's not true I could have paid that much. But it would have been a waste of money because I'd have been dead in a matter of days from malnutrition.

And forget that Ferrari 430 Spider.
The wind shifted, and suddenly the wildfire that has been raging just west of these exclusive high desert hills appeared closer than ever to Al LaPeter’s 7,000 square feet of the sweet life.

“Oh, God,” Mr. LaPeter said.

Then he exhaled, and relaxed. After all, he has insurance. His big house on the Big Wood River? The Ferrari 430 Spider in the garage? The immaculate Model A Ford? Covered. Literally.

Right then and there, Tom Futral, a guy from Montana with a spray gun and a truckload of the magical goop that has quickly become the envy of the second-home set in this pricey part of the parched West, was applying fire retardant to Mr. LaPeter’s shake roof and wood house, courtesy of his insurer, the AIG Private Client Group.

“They called me,” Mr. LaPeter, 62, said. “I didn’t even know that they did this.”

That may be because this is the first time in memory that a wildfire has so closely threatened the A-list redoubts of Hailey, Ketchum and Sun Valley (there are $3.7 billion in assets to protect, according to the incident commander leading the fire fight), and it is the first time AIG has deployed a crew to Idaho as part of its Wildfire Protection Unit for high-end clients who are willing to pay what the company says is an average of $10,000 annually for homeowner’s insurance.

Via New York Times.

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Turkish military warns secularism under attack


Gul has stated on several occasions he has no intention of trying to change Turkey into an Islamic state, but look at Bush. Ideology and faith do enter into running a country even if the leader doesn't intentionally work to make it happen.

This should prove to be quite interesting theater in the months to come. I think I'll be needing lots of popcorn.
On the eve of a devout Muslim's expected accession to the country's presidency, Turkey's resolutely secular military leadership issued a sharp warning yesterday against any attempt to erode the constitutional separation of religion and state.

The strongly worded statement by the powerful army chief of staff was not expected to derail today's election of Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul by lawmakers. Gul needs only a majority of votes in parliament, which his party dominates, to assume the presidency.

Nonetheless, the army's warning illustrated the continuing rift within Turkey over the role of Islam in public life -- a debate that was muted, but not silenced, by the decisive victory of the Islamist-pedigreed ruling party in July's general election.

"The Turkish armed forces, as in the past, will never deviate from its determined stance and its duty of protecting and guarding the democratic, secular . . . Turkish republic," General Yasar Buyukanit, the chief of the military's general staff, said in a statement.

The good news is Buyukanit, even before the election is finished, has come out and very bluntly stated the military won't let Gul steer Turkey toward an Islamic state. Gul has been warned in no uncertain terms.

Via Boston Globe.

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Pentagon Denies Increase in Troops' Suicides a Result of War

This is patently ridiculous. Some things just don't need studying. Common sense says the connection is there.

I wrote earlier about Owen Wilson's suicide attempt which was unfortunate and unsuccessful. People commit suicide when under far less stress than soldiers who are in 100°+ heat and worried about IEDs, snipers, mortars.
As the widow of a Vietnam vet who killed himself after coming home, I find every new report about suicides among this generation of soldiers particularly painful. So I was surprised the other day to find myself laughing out loud reading about how poor Elspeth Ritchie, a psychiatric consultant to the Army Surgeon General's office, got stuck with the awful job of announcing, with a perfectly straight face and no irony whatsoever, that, although the suicide rate among soldiers has reached a 26-year record high, Pentagon studies still haven't found a connection between soldier suicides and the war.

Via AlterNet (Reuters).

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2 Alaska Airlines jets bump at LAX



Just to clear up something. One was pushed into the other by a worker using an aircraft tug (see one model in second picture). Commercial jet airplanes have no reverse gear and must be pushed away from the gate. The departing plane was not "backing away...".
An Alaska Airlines jet bumped into another one Monday while pulling away from a gate at Los Angeles International Airport, authorities said. No one was injured.

An Alaska Boeing 737 carrying 117 passengers to Washington, D.C., was pushing back from its gate when its left winglet made contact with another Alaska jet, said airline spokeswoman Amanda Tobin Bielawski.

The departing plane "was backing away from the gate at very slow speed," she said.

The winglet, a small vertical fin on the outer tip of a wing, was damaged. The second plane, a parked and empty Boeing 737, had damage to the horizontal stabilizer in its tail.

Via Boston Globe.

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Hollywood Wilson asks for privacy after suicide attempt


I rarely report on celebrities, but this is a little different. Who woulda thunk it? From outside, Wilson seems to have it all. Sometimes the "perfect" life isn't quite so perfect.

U.S. comic star Owen Wilson said he wanted privacy after media reports claimed he was hospitalized for a suicide attempt.

"I respectfully ask that the media allow me to receive care and heal in private during this difficult time," the actor said in a statement released by his publicist Monday.

The Oscar-nominated film star was said to have cut his wrists and taken a large number of unidentified pills two days before. He was transferred to Cedars Sinai Medical Center in the Beverly Hills area. Later in the evening, his brother Luke, also an actor, and other family members were seen at Cedars Sinai.

Via Xinhua.

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Bush to say Iraq is front line against Iran, Al-Qaeda

Here comes another shot over the bow of Iran. Bush is ruthlessly relentless in painting Iran as an enemy. One that will have to be dealt with (read attacked) sooner or later.
US President George W. Bush on Tuesday will describe Iraq as the front-line against Shiite extremism championed by Iran and the Sunni extremism of Al-Qaeda, an aide said Monday.

Bush was due to level the charge in a speech to the American Legion veterans group, the second of two presidential addresses meant to bolster support for the war in Iraq ahead of a critical September 15 progress report.

"The president will talk about Sunni extremism and Shia extremism. Neither represents Islam. They represent a brutal and heartless ideology of death and destruction," a senior aide told reporters in a preview of the speech.

"Sunni extremism is embodied by Al Qaeda and its many affiliates. Shia extremism by Iran and its support of Hezbollah, Hamas, the Taliban and its pursuit of nuclear technology," the official said on condition of anonymity.

Via Agence France-Presse.

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Gonzales is out


What I'm wondering is why Bush hasn't appointed Barney to office. Either one, the black one or the purple one, would probably be superior to most other appointees Bush has chosen. At least they wouldn't meddle with the system...much.

Perchance its a "color" thing? I'm pretty sure the black one is loyal.

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Must read IMHO

To be fair, these are only accusations. The guy's never been charged with these crimes, but...can you buy it?

I'd forgotten about this. It's a reminder of why the bloodthirsty neocons, especially little Cowboy George and his sidekick Quickdraw Dick, loves them some Allawi:

Iyad Allawi, the new Prime Minister of Iraq, pulled a pistol and executed as many as six suspected insurgents at a Baghdad police station, just days before Washington handed control of the country to his interim government, according to two people who allege they witnessed the killings.

They say the prisoners - handcuffed and blindfolded - were lined up against a wall in a courtyard adjacent to the maximum-security cell block in which they were held at the Al-Amariyah security centre, in the city's south-western suburbs.

They say Dr Allawi told onlookers the victims had each killed as many as 50 Iraqis and they "deserved worse than death".

The Prime Minister's office has denied the entirety of the witness accounts in a written statement to the Herald, saying Dr Allawi had never visited the centre and he did not carry a gun.

Junior has only been able to execute people by proxy. Allawi gets to do it personally. He's definitely a Bush/Nuge dream come true.

Via Digby.

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Tattoo Bandage Assortment


File under eclectic, rojak, or whatever. These bandages are for the wimps in the world who can't take real tats. They really don't hurt that bad. I've a couple. Just make sure they use new ink and sterilized needles.

OMG!!!1!! Needles. Feint...
Cover your boo-boo with one of these rough and rugged Tattoo Bandages to trick people into thinking you’re tough!


Each 3 3/4″ tall metal tin contains three sizes of latex free, vinyl, adhesive bandages with sterile gauze and a free toy to take your mind off of the excruciating pain.

Courtesy link to neatorama (whole post shown here).

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Supporting the [Enemy] Troops

Your tax dollars at work. Or not.

Hmmm. Sounds like more than a few thousand dollars.
“Every contractor in Anbar who works for the U.S. military and survives for more than a month is paying the insurgency,” the politician said, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the matter. “The contracts are inflated, all of them. The insurgents get half.” [emphasis mine]

Via Mahablog.

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Ennui


Via Jonco.

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What.The.Fuck?!?!

First off, notice I'm not the only fucking person to use profanity on the internets tubes.
Johnson, who has no homeland security experience, is a professional Bush loyalist. While Johnson may have familiarity with some aspects of DHS’s budget, he appears to have no experience in the many responsibilities of the department, including immigration, air travel security, disaster response, and other aspects of our nation’s homeland defense.

He is one of Bush’s oldest friends, having attended both prep school and college with the President. Johnson served as Bush’s gubernatorial chief of staff in Texas before heading up the Bush-Cheney transition team.

Jesus H Christ with ADDA, how much fucking damage can Bush do? Don't answer that. I really don't want to know.

Cross posted at Brilliant at Breakfast.

Via Dependable Renegade.

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Embattled Attorney General Resigns

Finally fucking time.
Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales, whose tenure has been marred by controversy and accusations of perjury before Congress, announced his resignation in Washington today, declaring that he had “lived the American dream” by being able to lead the Justice Department.

What? No spending time with teh family? What a wimp.

Via New York Times.

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Monday, August 27, 2007

Iraqi insurgents taking cut of U.S. rebuilding money

This one's easy...duh!
Iraq's deadly insurgent groups have financed their war against U.S. troops in part with hundreds of thousands of dollars in U.S. rebuilding funds that they've extorted from Iraqi contractors in Anbar province.

There was never any doubt in my mind this was happening.

Via mcclatchy.

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AFGHANISTAN: Benazir, Afghanistan, "I was sold four times"

My guess is this is only one of hundreds if not thousands of such stories that could be told. Of course I realize things like this happen. In Thailand and elsewhere parents are known to sell children, especially if they have too many girls. But I still find it very difficult to get my head around such behavior.
I had lived for more than nine years with my first husband and had four children from him when he decided to sell me to Qabayels [tribal groups living on the Pakistani side of the border]. He was a landlord who made money from his farms. I don't know how much I was sold for.

Via Alertnet (Reuters).

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China says worried by drug resistant pneumonia


Sometimes its the little things you should be worried about, like drug resistant bacteria.
Almost 70 percent of child pneumonia patients in a recent Chinese survey were resistant to drugs used to treat the disease due to overuse of antibiotics, the Health Ministry said on Monday.

The figure climbed to nearly 90 percent in a more targeted study of three children's hospitals in Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou, said the official Health News, published by the ministry.

...

Experts almost universally agree that antibiotics are overused around the world, and that this overuse has helped new, drug-resistant strains of bacteria to evolve.

And its not just overuse of antibiotics, its a matter of people's stopping taking them when they feel better. That means they don't kill all the bacteria and the ones left are that much stronger.

Via Reuters.

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Iraqi Leaders Reach Accord On Prisoners, Ex-Baathists

Something in the air tonight and its déja vu.
Iraq's top five political leaders announced an agreement Sunday night to release thousands of prisoners being held without charge and to reform the law that has kept thousands of members of Saddam Hussein's political party out of government jobs.

Via Washington Post.

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British Armed Forces staff shortage crisis


Warrior Infantry Fighting Vehicle,
presented by Army-technology.com


So Bush's military follies are now bringing down the British Armed Forces. Isn't that just peachy?
The Armed Forces are missing thousands of specialised soldiers, sailors and airmen crucial to continuing the fight against insurgents in Iraq and Afghanistan, The Daily Telegraph has learned.

...

New figures show an alarming shortage of vital staff, with more than a third of Army medical posts now vacant - leading to fears that lives are being put at risk.

Via Daily Telegraph.

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Live duck races held in N.M.

Sorry, but I couldn't pass this up.
Amid the yucca spikes and wide-open skies of the southwestern New Mexico desert, the ducks are waddling.

The 28th annual Great American Duck Race was held this weekend, the cornerstone of a four-day festival in Deming that also features an outhouse race, tortilla toss, chili cook-off, horseshoe and softball tournaments and others.

The races went very well this year as opposed to last year when they held dead duck races.

Via Boston Globe.

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Medical experts never testified in Katrina hospital deaths

Uh, I just don't get this.
A New Orleans grand jury that declined to indict a doctor on charges that she murdered patients in the chaotic days after Hurricane Katrina never heard testimony from five medical experts brought in by the state to analyze the deaths.

All five concluded that as many as nine patients were victims of homicide.

In detailed, written statements, the five specialists -- whose expertise includes forensic medicine, medical ethics and palliative care -- determined that patients at Memorial Medical Center had been deliberately killed with overdoses of drugs after Katrina struck New Orleans in 2005.

The grand jury had been asked to consider second-degree murder charges against a doctor and two nurses in four deaths. But in July, the grand jury decided that no one should be indicted.

A grand jury is charged with determining whether there is sufficient evidence to indict a defendant and pursue a trial. The grand jury's proceedings are held in secret, and grand jurors and officers of the court are typically prohibited from divulging what goes on in grand jury sessions.

In a decision that puzzled the five experts hired by the state, New Orleans District Attorney Eddie Jordan never called them to testify before the grand jury. What remains unclear, because of grand jury secrecy laws, is whether the grand jury even saw the experts' written reports. [emphasis mine]

Via CNN.

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