Friday, November 30, 2007

Rove is an animagus?

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Now we are up to tasering pregnant women

I'm so proud of our country.:

TROTWOOD, Ohio — A policeman forced a pregnant woman to the ground and used a stun gun on her when she refused to answer the officer’s questions and resisted being handcuffed, authorities said Thursday.

The woman went to the police department on Nov. 18 to ask officers to take custody of her one-year-old son, said Michael Etter, Trotwood’s public safety director.

The woman told the officer she was “tired of playing games” with the baby’s father, Etter said.

The woman refused to answer questions, became frustrated and tried to leave with the child, Etter said. The officer feared allowing her to leave could jeopardize the child and he decided to detain her to get more information.

He said the officer grabbed the woman, got the child away from her and forced her to the ground. When she resisted being handcuffed and tried to get away, the officer used the stun gun on her, Etter said.
Chet Scoville of Vanity Press:
Clearly, a gunshot or a beating with a billy club were the only other options available.

How about we acknowledge that tasers can KILL people, it is not a quick crowd control fix, it is not safe. Police need to use tasers in the same way they use guns... as a last resort and with full knowledge that their pants will be sued off if something goes wrong.

W. T. F.?

Don't ask why they are wearing duct tape and sunglasses on their heads

Just carefully keep your distance. (About 3:08 minutes in.)

A small man in need of a balcony

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Wonderful quote from Jimmy Breslin about Giuliani, found via Watertiger's post at Dependable Renegade.


Actual wet stuff falling from the sky. Babies who were born in this last year are amazed. Dogs look confounded. Rain? Rain!

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Let the fun begin....
Readers from cold countries know the importance of caution in icy or snowy conditions. In most cases, they have the experience to handle these.

However, you and they may not know that even a light rain may be as dangerous as the worst winter weather.

In much of Canada and the U.S., rainfall is very sporadic during Summer.

As a result, oil residue and dirt accumulates on roads, especially at intersections and on inclines where large vehicles must strain to maintain speed.

When the first rain comes after a dry period, roads can become every bit a slick as in the midst of winter because of the slippery mixture of oil, dirt, and water.

Use caution at the start of a summer rain, and be careful any time driving on slick roads when braking takes longer.

During really bad weather, you may want to check into a hostel or hotel for the duration, even if you are very used to this type of driving.

Otherwise, you'll be on the road with drivers who are not as careful or as skilful as you are.

This is especially true in places like Portland (Oregon), Seattle, Vancouver (both), Victoria, the California mountains, and the southern United States, where most drivers are not used to driving in snow all winter.
Snow? You can drive in snow?

Remember how it was before the separation between church and state was broken?

Bluegal at Crooks and Liars updates her post about the forced resignation of the Texas Education Agency's director of science curriculum:
The state’s director of science curriculum has resigned after being accused of creating the appearance of bias against teaching intelligent design.
by saying this:
Some commenters are taking offense that this post is anti-Christian. I wrote it. I’m a Christian (believing Quaker). A great many members of Americans United for the Separation of Church and State believe as I do that intelligent design is a specific attempt by Fundamentalists to inject religion into the public schools, and some of us also believe that if the State teaches the Bible they will misinterpret it for our children. Religious freedom requires freedom from anyone’s individual religious beliefs being force taught in the public schools as scientific fact.
Thank you for saying that, bluegal. It wasn't that long ago that religion was not jammed into everyone else's face. We were able to interact and vote without taking someone's beliefs into account.

Breaking down the wall between church and state has brought all the power hungry Christianists out into the open. Who knew there were so many of them who hate the Constitution and wish to destroy the United States?

Update: Tengrain of Mock, Paper, Scissors has more.

Update 12/1: I've copied my reply in this post.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Understatement of the year

U.S. sponsorship of Sunni groups worries Iraq's government.

BAGHDAD — The American campaign to turn Sunni Muslims against Islamic extremists is growing so quickly that Iraq's Shiite Muslim leaders fear that it's out of control and threatens to create a potent armed force that will turn against the government one day.

The United States, which credits much of the drop in violence to the campaign, is enrolling hundreds of people daily in "concerned local citizens" groups. More than 5,000 have been sworn in in the last eight days, for a total of 77,542 as of Tuesday. As many as 10 groups were created in the past week, bringing the total number to 192, according to the American military.

U.S. officials said they were screening new members — who generally are paid $300 a month to patrol their neighborhoods — and were subjecting them to tough security measures. More than 60,000 have had fingerprints and DNA taken and had retinal scans, American officials said, steps that will allow them to be identified later, should they turn against the government. The officials said they planned to cap membership in the groups at 100,000.

But that hasn't calmed mounting concerns among aides to Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki, who charge that some of the groups include "terrorists" who attack Shiite residents in their neighborhoods. Some of the new "concerned citizens" are occupying houses that terrified Shiite families abandoned, they said.

It also hasn't quieted criticism that the program is trading long-term Iraqi stability for short-term security gains.

"There is a danger here that we are going to have armed all three sides: the Kurds in the north, the Shiite and now the Sunni militias," said Bruce Riedel, a former CIA analyst who's now at The Brookings Institution, a center-left policy organization in Washington, D.C.

Brought to you by the people who are responsible for the war in Afghanistan.... what on earth could go wrong?

Give your child a stick and an empty box for Christmas

It would be a lot safer. Asbestos found in several products:
Asbestos has been found in a variety of consumer products, including one of this season's biggest-selling Christmas toys, according to the nation's largest asbestos victims organizations.

The CSI Fingerprint Examination Kit, two brands of children's play clay, powdered cleanser, roof sealers, duct tapes, window glazing, spackling paste and small appliances were among the products in which asbestos was found by at least two of three labs hired by the Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization.

The group, which was created in 2004 by asbestos victims and their families, spent more than $165,000 to have government-certified laboratories examine hundreds of consumer products over 18 months to determine whether asbestos was present.

It is unusual for a group of volunteers, many of whom have asbestos-caused diseases, to fund research that impacts public health.

"We had to. No one else was doing it," said Linda Reinstein, the group's co-founder and executive director. "This is information that consumers and Congress must have because asbestos is lethal and we naively believe that the government is protecting us, when it's not."

The product that is of greatest concerns to some public health experts is the fingerprint kit, which is a huge seller, according to sales personnel interviewed by the Seattle P-I.

The kit, made in China, is one of several items licensed by CBS after its popular "CSI" science-crime shows. This model has an extensive array of plastic tools, inks and three types of very fine powders -- white, black and glow-in-the-dark. The analysis done for the victim's organization found high levels of two types of asbestos in the white and the glow powder.

Could it be we dropped a bomb on the wrong people?

At least 12 Afghan road construction workers have been killed in an air strike by the US-led forces in Afghanistan, a provincial governor has said.

Another local official said that up to 25 men were killed in the attack late on Tuesday in the province of Nuristan, northeast of Kabul.

"We had reports that rebels were there," Tamimi Nuristani, the governor of Nuristan, told the AFP news agency.

"There was an air strike by coalition forces but later we found out that 12 people, all local road workers, were killed. The road workers were in a tent which was hit by one bomb. All died," he said.


The media office of the US-led coalition forces said it was trying to find out what happened.

"Something happened but we are not sure exactly what," Chris Belcher, a spokesman, said.
Well, Mr. Belcher... we dropped a bomb. On 12 innocent people. Who died. Oooops.

Hey, look! It's the War Czar!

I wondered where he had gone. So he's popped up to say that staying in Iraq in permanent bases is sorta ok and the process will skip Senate ratification because it's not a treaty:

Spencer Ackerman of TPMmuckraker:

Could Congress stop a Bush administration-brokered deal to garrison U.S. troops in Iraq indefinitely? Not according to General Douglas Lute, the so-called "war czar." Here's Lute at today's gaggle:

Q General, will the White House seek any congressional input on this?

GENERAL LUTE: In the course of negotiations like this, it's not -- it is typical that there will be a dialogue between congressional leaders at the negotiating table, which will be run out of the Department of State. We don't anticipate now that these negotiations will lead to the status of a formal treaty which would then bring us to formal negotiations or formal inputs from the Congress.

Q Is the purpose of avoiding the treaty avoiding congressional input?

GENERAL LUTE: No, as I said, we have about a hundred agreements similar to the one envisioned for the U.S. and Iraq already in place, and the vast majority of those are below the level of a treaty.

Lute said the White House intends to conclude negotiations on an enduring security guarantee with the Maliki government in July. Permanent military bases and residual troop levels will be specified in the final accord, he said.

Interesting how Georgie is really trying to sink our feet into cement shoes in Iraq. Kinda like making sure the inevitable mess and retreat will be blamed on someone years down the line...

Is sex to Republicans always about domination,

Submission, and humiliation? Is that why they are so unsettled by Democrats? Why have these last few years been cluttered with so many Republicans flaming out in weird and hilarious sex scandal death spirals?

What gives?

The Republican debate on speed

Just to get the flavor but not to leave a bad taste in your mouth:

How to talk to Rove

Or about him. Paul Abrams of The Huffington Post tells us:
I have purposefully NOT provided the (obvious) answers to his claims because to answer is to give him control of the argument. That's Rove's tactic, and I have written about that many times in these pages.

Instead, this should be used as a trigger to talk about Rove's history of dissembling, how that is reflected in the Bush Administration's entire approach to public policy and public information. Bush, through Rove, should be attacked for trying to escape responsibility and accountability. And, it will help to make some historical references to rulers whose tenure was so dismal that they could not allow historians to provide objective analyses, and thus try to write the history themselves.

So the response to anything Rove says is to talk about how much he has lied in the past, how he is comically trying to rewrite history, and poor guy, how he should really be put out to pasture....

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Will they have 'Arbeit macht frei' above the gates?

Bryan Finoki of Subtopia is keeping track of the huge complex being built in Guantanamo:
As it turns out the proposal to build warehousing structures for interdicted refugees in the event of a ‘hypothetical Caribbean boat crisis’ is already well under way. Even though Defense Secretary Robert Gates shot down a costly proposal for a $125m Military Commissions Courthouse earlier this year, the Miami Herald, who has been doing a good job of keeping watch on Guantanamo’s base development, says progress is being made on the migrant detention installation with some lucrative contracts in the works.
It appears the Bush administration has not only been preparing for what’s being referred to as a “theoretical humanitarian relief mission” by developing a sheltering scheme capable of accommodating 10,000 people – for those either “fleeing a political crisis” or “a natural disaster” – but there is another second wave proposal (no pun intended) that is looking to build out even larger facilities for an additional 35,000 potential migrants.

10,000 people? 35,000 people? Why are we building concentration camps in Cuba as well as 'detention centers' in the U.S.? What is our government getting ready to do?

Wednesday, November 28, 2007


Bush really isn't smiling, is he?

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Why aren't we on this list?

And half were done by private citizens. Half. (my bold):

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Initiative by the Green Belt Movement, the Prince of Monaco, UNEP and ICRAF to Catalyze the Planting of one Billion Trees Reaches Goal in Advance of Next Climate Convention Conference.


Nobel Peace Prize winner Wangari Maathai, the Kenyan Green Belt Movement founder and Patron of the campaign, said: "I am elated beyond words at the global interest and action that was motivated by the Billion Tree Campaign. I knew we had it within us as a human family to rise up! We called you to action almost exactly a year ago and you responded beyond our dreams. Thank you very much! Now we must keep the pressure on and continue the good work for the planet. Plant another tree today in celebration!"

The enthusiasm of individuals to make a difference is underlined by figures collected by UNEP which indicate that half of all those who planted are often private citizens or households planting one to three trees. Significantly, another 13 per cent have been planted by the private sector, which participated actively in the initiative.

ICRAF Director General Dennis Garrity said: "The World Agroforestry Centre is very proud that the ambitious goal of the Billion Tree Campaign has been attained. This milestone shows clearly that the global community has the spirit and the substance to unite in achieving ambitious targets to create a better environment for all. We look forward to working with UNEP and so many other organizations in setting and achieving even greater stretch goals for a more 'bountreeful' world in the coming years."

The news comes as thousands of delegates across the world are ready to arrive on the Indonesian island of Bali for the next and most crucial round of global warming negotiations under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, jointly established by UNEP and the World Meteorological Organization, has in 2007 concluded that climate change is happening; the global impacts are likely to be in many cases devastating but cost effective solutions are available now to counter the worst.


The totals of trees planted are still being collated with the numbers rising almost daily. But the top-ranking countries appear to be Ethiopia, over 700 million trees planted; Mexico, 217 million trees; Turkey, 150 million; Kenya, 100 million; Cuba, 96.5 million; Rwanda, 50 million; Republic of Korea, 43 million; Tunisia, 21 million; Morocco, 20 million; Myanmar, 20 million and Brazil, 16 million. The Green Belt Movement alone planted 4.7 million trees, double the number of trees it had initially pledged.

Thank you, Nobel Peace laureate Prof Wangari Maathai for your good work!

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Muslim to Mormon

There's only a few vowels and consonants difference....

John Aravosis of Americablog:
Romney can't have it both ways. Either religion in politics matters or it doesn't. Romney says it does matter, but only when someone else's religion is the subject of scrutiny. His religion only matters when he intends to jam it down our throats after he's elected. Then again, both ways is the way Romney lies it best. First pro-gay, then anti-gay. First pro-gun, then anti-gun. First pro-choice, then pro-life. And now he's flip-flopping on whether the religion of a nominee is a relevant factor in their employment.

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Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Zero Emissions Challenge

Is it even possible?

Just how deep is that bunker you've been digging?

Because you might want it a little deeper...

Sorghum Crow of Sorghum Crow's General Store picked up this article:

U.S. Navy steps up fuel deliveries to Gulf forces

LONDON, Nov 23 (Reuters) - The U.S. military has stepped up chartering of tankers and requests for extra fuel in the U.S. Central Command area, which includes the Gulf, shipping and oil industry sources say.

A Gulf oil industry source said the charters suggested there would be high naval activity, possibly including a demonstration to Iran that the U.S. Navy will protect the Strait of Hormuz oil shipping route during tensions over Tehran's nuclear programme.

The U.S. Navy's Military Sealift Command (MSC) has tendered for four tankers in November to move at least one million barrels of jet and ship fuel between Gulf ports, from Asia to the Gulf and to the Diego Garcia base, tenders seen by Reuters show.

It usually tenders for one or two tankers a month to supply Gulf operations, which include missions in Iraq.

The MSC, asked for comment, confirmed the tenders and said there was nothing abnormal about current requirements in the Gulf, where it has a large military presence and which is home to the U.S. Navy's Fifth Fleet.

A fifth hire request was recently cancelled, it said.

Fuels specified to be moved between Gulf ports include JP5, high flashpoint jet fuel, used to power F18 fighters aboard aircraft carriers.

"They have been very active," said a ship industry source, familiar with the MSC tender process, who asked not to be named.

"Out of the multiple charter requirements they issue, they usually do maybe one or two (tankers) a month in the Gulf. They were quiet over the summer months," he said.
Is this Cheney and his drive to attack Iran before his term is out? What is going on?

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas

Repeat after me. Mangling these names will insult the leaders and the citizens of these nations and will not be a good start to the summit meeting.

Never mind.

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The FSM makes an (brief) appearance

In a pie.

Even the Germans can tell

Georgie just doesn't give a shit:
Bush's Half-Hearted Summit
US President George W. Bush plays host this week to a massive summit aimed at pushing the Middle East peace process forward. Expectations, though, are low. Many doubt that Bush is truly dedicated to the project.
Officially the United States is the proud host, welcoming high-ranking representatives from 49 countries and organizations to the summit with the intention of exploring possible paths to peace between the Israelis and Palestinians. The countries represented even include Saudi Arabia and Syria, neither of which was present at the last major US negotiation initiative, Bill Clinton's 2000 Camp David summit. All the parties are meeting on Tuesday on the premises of the picturesque Annapolis Naval Academy in the state of Maryland, where a banner in one room features the encouraging motto: "Don't give up the ship!"

But even before the first speech was held at the conference, many observers had already abandoned any hope of significant progress. "All the participants have the fear of failure on their minds rather than the hope of success," Tamara Cofman Wittes from the Brookings Institution told SPIEGEL ONLINE, adding that the key protagonists -- US President George W. Bush, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert -- are all very weak domestically.

Georgie offers his idea for fixing the Israeli/Palestine problem....

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Monday, November 26, 2007

The trickle down theory is actually just the rich

Pissing on the poor. But we can remember how government can and did work, how all of us were able to be in on the American dream. We can remember. And vote.

The leading Republican candidates for president don’t even seem to realize that there’s a problem. A few months ago Rudy Giuliani, denouncing Hillary Clinton’s economic proposals, declared that “she wants to go back to the 1990s” — as if that would be a bad thing.

In fact, memories of how much better the economy was under Bill Clinton will be a potent political advantage for the Democrats next year.

But simply putting another Clinton, or any Democrat, in the White House won’t ensure that the good times will roll again. President Clinton was a good economic manager, but much of the good news during the 1990s reflected events that won’t be repeated, including low oil prices and the great medical cost pause — the temporary leveling off of health care spending as a percentage of G.D.P. that took place in the 1990s despite his failure to pass health care reform.

And there are good reasons to think that the negative effects of globalization on the wages of some Americans are larger than they were in the ’90s. That’s a hugely contentious issue within the progressive movement, with no easy resolution. I’ll write more about it in the months ahead.

Despite these caveats, Democrats have every right to make a political issue out of the failure of the Bush economy to deliver gains to working Americans — especially because conservatives continue to insist that tax cuts for the affluent are the answer to all problems.

But Democrats shouldn’t kid themselves into believing that this will be easy. The next president won’t be able to deliver another era of good times unless he or she manages to tackle the longer-term trends that underlie today’s economic disappointment: a collapsing health care system and inexorably rising inequality.


The time to act is now!

Found via Hipparchia of Over the Cliff, Onto the Rocks.

We even refuse to wear the little party hats

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You have to wonder what it would be like to be Joe Lieberman. Only three years ago he was the Democratic Party's choice for Vice President, and enjoyed all the national attention such an honor entails. Now the only way he can get sucked up to is to go on Fox News and offer up made-to-order fibs about his former party.

Lieberman just went on Fox and gave an extended interview in which he repeatedly suggested that Dems won't acknowledge any progress of any kind in Iraq. "It’s time that everybody including Democratic candidates get off this storyline," Lieberman said.

The key point here is that the falsehood Lieberman is telling here is critical to the GOP's last-ditch efforts to prevent support for the war from dribbling away completely. The game plan is to misrepresent what the Dem position has been, in order to (a) paint Dems as churlishly refusing to acknowledge the military's hard-won gains; and (b) conflate the military progress we've seen with the political progress that was always the goal and that still remains elusive.

Senator Lieberman, Fox News thanks you for your devoted service -- and hereby rewards you with the attention you crave.

Bet he's thinking this will bump up his polls

Cuz all preznits do this at the end of their terms to get the gold star on their legacies.

David Kurtz of Talking Points Memo
: headline of the day:

"Bush to Act as Key Negotiator at Mideast Peace Talks in Annapolis"

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Update: Bryan of Why Now? has an excellent take.

Six more reasons to be in awe of Rudy Giuliani

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Besides 9/11 that is. Jesus' General shows us:

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Maybe they'll bring back the rack, too!

I can hardly wait!

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(Via billw of Crooks and Liars who has a brilliant pic) Scott Horton of Harper's Magazine:
The Bush Administration is slowly introducing the Court of Star Chamber to the process of American justice. We see its elements everywhere. In the farcical Combat Status Review Tribunals created in Guantánamo, now repeatedly denounced even by judges serving on them as a travesty. In the Military Commissions, crafted in conscious avoidance of the standards both of American military and civilian justice. And in the steady press to lower the standards of our federal courts to introduce practices that continually tip the scales of justice in favor of prosecutors. Reports have begun to circulate that the Administration has put together a group of scholars headed by a right-wing activist judge to craft legislation to introduce a new court of Star Chamber, perhaps to be floated in the coming year. As we see in the public pronouncements of the Bush Administration, accusations leveled at detainees in the war on terror are leveled for political effect, and often to parallel partisan political campaigns. If those accusations are rejected by a court, it therefore undermines confidence in the Administration and the Party. Which is why, in the Bush view of justice, a failure to convict is unacceptable. And which is why the Bush view of justice is no justice at all.

Following the fundies to their tangled conclusions

Will lead to scenes like this illustrated by mapaghimagsik of Taking Stock:

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And going even further: Menstruation is murder!

Sunday, November 25, 2007

An ever increasing ball of gas?

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Scientists are stumped trying to explain how the comet 17P/Holmes is getting bigger:

Comets, of course, are no rarity. And it seems like every couple of years or so, one becomes big and bright enough that it can easily be seen from Earth. But the behavior of 17P/Holmes has mystified both hobby astronomers and professionals around the globe.

Rather than shrinking as it gets further from the sun as most comets do, this one just keeps getting bigger and brighter. At the beginning of the week, the cloud of dust and gas surrounding the comet's core -- called the coma -- had already grown larger than the sun. Now, just a few days later, the coma's diameter is twice that of the sun -- the dust cloud measures some 2.7 million kilometers across whereas the sun is just 1.39 million kilometers across. And there is no sign that it is finished.

"The comet is now a long ways away, but the dust cloud is still growing," Dr. Maciej Mikolajewski from the Torun Center for Astronomy at Nicolaus Copernicus University told SPIEGEL ONLINE. "It's the first time I've ever seen such a thing. I've never seen such a bright comet in my life."

Even more interesting than the celestial body's sheer size, however, is that scientists aren't totally sure why it suddenly exploded in brightness throughout October and November. The comet is no longer close enough to the Earth to be readily visible without a telescope, but the head scratching in the scientific community continues.

Sounds like a few tv egos we know about....

You know those illegal immigrants you complain so much about?

"In 2001, the Social Security Administration concluded that undocumented immigrants "account for a major portion of the billions of dollars paid into social security that don’t match SSA records," which payees, many of whom are undocumented immigrants, can never draw upon. As of July 2003, these payments totaled $421 billion."

$421 billion dollars paid into a system they can't touch.

More on the myths
about illegal immigration and the dangers of the raids is discussed over at Digby's.

(edited for bizarre grammar and incoherence.)

The enemy of my enemy is just another goddammed enemy

Via Bryan of Why Now?, Dr. Juan Cole shows us the stark reality of who we are actually fighting in the Eternal War on Terror.... our 'friends' and 'allies'.

The Guardian:
More than 40% of the foreign fighters who entered Iraq to join the insurgency in the past year were citizens of Saudi Arabia, America's key partner in the Middle East, according to detailed information seized from a camp used by them. Documents and computers found by the US army at Sinjar, on the Iraqi-Syrian border, revealed that the other single largest group came from Libya, which is now being rehabilitated as a reliable western ally.

Overall, US officials reported that the number of foreign fighters entering Iraq this year dropped from 80-110 a month in the first half of the year to around 40 in October, partly due to the Sinjar raid.

After the raid the number of suicide bombings in Iraq fell to 16 in October - half the number seen during the summer months and down from a peak of 59 in March. US military officials believe that 90% of such bombings are by foreigners.

The captured data has been described as an intelligence treasure trove that included biographical details and the hometowns of the more than 700 fighters who entered Iraq since August 2006. Of those 307, or 41%, were Saudis and 137, or 18%, Libyans, senior US military sources told the New York Times.

Saudi Arabia, former home of Osama bin Laden and 15 of the 19 September 11 hijackers, has cracked down hard on al-Qaida in recent years. Saudi intelligence works closely with its US counterparts, but there have long been suspicions that the country's most dangerous jihadis have gone to Iraq. "The border with Iraq is much more carefully controlled than it was 18 months ago," said one British official. The Saudis also run extensive programmes "re-educating" and rehabilitating fighters who have returned from Iraq or Afghanistan to see "the error of their ways".

The US, Britain and others have praised the Saudis for their efforts, pointing especially to a recent appeal by the kingdom's grand mufti, Sheikh Abdulaziz al-Asheik, who condemned "mischievous parties" who send young Saudis abroad to carry out "heinous acts which have no association with Islam whatsoever".

The presence of a large number of Libyans among the insurgents in Iraq suggests that the regime of Muammar Gadafy has pushed its violent Islamist enemies abroad, having cleaned up its own act by renouncing support for terrorism and surrendering its chemical and nuclear arsenal after the US invasion of Iraq.

I've said this before, the Saudis are no friends of ours.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Ahhhh, merde.

PARIS (Reuters) - The Paris prosecutors' office has dismissed a suit against Donald Rumsfeld accusing the former U.S. defense secretary of torture, human rights groups who brought the case said on Friday.

The plaintiffs, who included the French-based International Federation of Human Rights Leagues (FIDH) and the U.S. Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR), said Rumsfeld had authorized interrogation techniques that led to rights abuses.

The FIDH said it had received a letter from the prosecutors' office ruling that Rumsfeld benefited from a "customary" immunity from prosecution granted to heads of state and government and foreign ministers, even after they left office.

It said in a statement it was "astonished at such a mistaken argument" and said customary immunity from prosecution did not exist under international law.

The suit was filed in October during a visit to France by Rumsfeld.

The Abu Ghraib jail in Iraq hit the headlines in April 2004 when details of physical abuse and sexual humiliation of Iraqi prisoners by U.S. soldiers were made public, badly damaging the reputation of the U.S. military.

Former prisoners at the U.S. detention camp in Guantanamo Bay are suing Rumsfeld and 10 military commanders, alleging torture and violations of their religious rights during their detention there.

The CCR and FIDH filed suits in Germany in 2004 and 2006 in an attempt to have Rumsfeld tried for rights abuses.

Because I missed Friday Cat Blogging

I'll do a Caturday pic instead. (Pic stolen shamelessly from LolCatBuildr)

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I would suggest politely to whoever threw their kitty into the drink that they not turn their backs on their pet for a while, and check their shoes for interesting deposits....

Cats have been known to hold a grudge:

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The pile of bodies is getting hard to ignore

JJ of Unrepentant Old Hippie keeps track of the horrible misuse of Tasers by police, and the people they have murdered.

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Update 11/25:
The UN says that Tasers are torture:
TASER electronic stun guns are a form of torture that can kill, a UN committee has declared after several recent deaths in North America.

"The use of these weapons causes acute pain, constituting a form of torture,'' the UN's Committee against Torture said.

"In certain cases, they can even cause death, as has been shown by reliable studies and recent real-life events,'' the committee of 10 experts said.

Three men, all in their early 20s, were reported to have died in the United States this week, days after a Polish man died at Vancouver airport after being Tasered by Canadian police.

Oh, look, Cheney.

Iran is offering to talk. Just so you know there's another way to deal with Iran besides dropping all those wonderful bunker buster shock'n'awe bombs that make you feel so ... manly:

VIENNA, Austria — Iran's ambassador to the International Atomic Energy Agency said Friday that his country could suspend uranium enrichment if the United States and Western Europe agreed to acknowledge that its nuclear program was peaceful.

But Ambassador Ali Asghar Soltanieh said there was a "serious confidence gap" between his country and the United States and Western Europe and that he saw little point in trying to "build confidence" with an American administration that had none in his country.

"We don't trust the United States," he told McClatchy Newspapers after the IAEA Board of Governors finished its latest round of talks on Iran's nuclear program. "We could suspend nuclear enrichment. We did it before for two and half years. But it wasn't enough then, and wouldn't be enough now. We will not suspend enrichment again because there is no end to what the United States will demand."

Diplomats said Soltanieh's remarks reflected what he'd been saying in private. "Iran is willing to deal," one said. "But they've made it clear there would have to be a quid pro quo, and they don't believe that's possible." The diplomats said they couldn't be quoted by name because of the sensitivity of the issue.

You really don't have to start WWIII or IV or whatever, you know, Dick. Talking actually does get things done occasionally...

Revenge for those who fly

And are forced to listen to ads.... John Hargrave rises to the challenge:

US Airways management has to listen,
when you have their home number.

I'm on the plane, and they're trying to sell me an airline credit card.

This is a sign of desperation, an airline on its last legs: peddling us credit cards during the flight. It's not enough that they've taken our meals, our leg room, and our on-time departures. Now they take our dignity, by hitting us up for an airline credit card while we are held captive on their smelly planes.

Here's how US Airways does it: they turn one unlucky stewardess into a seat-to-seat saleswoman. She gives you the pitch, then she walks down the aisle with applications, while people try to avoid meeting her gaze. It is awkward.

Since my previous attempts to change the US Airways policy had gotten me nowhere, I decided to call Christ at his home. At 5:30 a.m. [Click here to listen]


JOHN HARGRAVE: Hello, may I speak with Mr. Travis Christ?

TC: Yeah, that's me.

JH: Oh, hello Mr. Christ. My name's John Hargrave, and I'm here to tell you about a fantastic new credit card offer...

TC: Do you know what time it is here?

JH: What time?

TC: Five in the morning.

JH: Oh.

TC: So take me off your list and don't call me again.

JH: See, that's funny. I was sleeping on the plane the other day, and you tried to sell me a credit card.

TC: [Hang up]

It continues. Hargrave shows wonderful persistence and illustrates the stupidity of forced credit card pitches to a captive audience with great humor.

I think I would like one of these for Christmas

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Then I need to move to Britain:
ALDBOROUGH, England, Nov. 23 The skeleton of an ancient Roman Briton apparently with some social standing was found by two men who previously unearthed a $2 million Viking treasure.

Using metal detectors, the father-son duo, David and Andrew Whelan, discovered the 1,800-year-old skeleton buried in a lead-lined coffin near the Roman town of Aldborough, The Daily Telegraph reported Friday.

After uncovering a part of the coffin, the Whelans called professional archaeologists to take over the dig.

They uncovered a Romano-British skeleton buried without decorations or jewelry between the second and fourth centuries, the newspaper said. The Roman empire lasted until the fifth century.

Bush's Legacy: peace on earth

Rawalpindi, Pakistan (AHN) - At least 30 people were killed and dozens injured in twin suicide car bombings in the city of Rawalpindi, Pakistan, on Saturday. The simultaneous attacks were reportedly carried out by militants on an Army checkpoint and a bus carrying members of the country's powerful Inter-Services Intelligence spy agency (ISI). According to the local authorities, the militants used cars to carry out the deadly attacks.
Kabul, Afghanistan (AHN) - A suicide attack in Afghanistan killed one Italian soldier and six Afghans, including three children. The attack happened while a crowd gathered to watch soldiers building a bridge.

At least nine people were injured in the attack. It took place in the Paghman area. The soldier died while being transferred to a military hospital in Kabul.

Some of the victims were reportedly shot. Witnesses said some of the soldiers fired at people during the attack, but a regional police commander said many of the victims were hit with ball bearings packed into the bomb. A doctor who treated some of the victims, however, told The Associated Press that at least four had been hit by bullets.

More than 130 suicide attacks have occurred in Afghanistan this year. More than 6,000 people have died from the violence.
Bush's bestest friend Howard goes down in flames:
Sydney, Australia (AHN) - With 70 percent of the votes counted, sitting Australian Prime Minister John Howard has already conceded to opponent, Kevin Rudd in parliamentary elections held Saturday. "We've bequeathed to [Rudd] a nation that is stronger and prouder and more prosperous than it was 11 and a half years ago," Howard was quoted as saying by BBC News. Howard confirmed that he already called Rudd to congratulate him on his emerging victory. The 50-year-old Rudd, standard-bearer of the labor Party, had shown strength of winning over Howard throughout the campaign period. Opinion polls earlier suggested that most Aussies were already tired of Howard's leadership, and wanted to give a fresh mandate to a new leader.
Update: Glenn Greenwald has the final say on Howard's magnificent defeat.

BEIRUT, Lebanon (AP) -- Lebanon awoke a republic without a president Saturday amid mounting worries over a power vacuum that has intensified the nation's yearlong political turmoil.

The capital was calm and shops opened for business as usual the morning after a tumultuous day that saw President Emile Lahoud depart without a successor after announcing he was handing over security powers to the army.

Lahoud's final announcement saying the country is in a "state of emergency" was rejected by the rival, pro-Western Cabinet of Prime Minister Fuad Saniora.

The government rejection created fresh confusion in an already unsettled situation, which many Lebanese fear could explode into violence between supporters of Saniora's government and the pro-Syria opposition led by the Shiite militant group Hezbollah.

"Lahoud's term ends in a republic without a president," read the headline of Lebanon's leading An-Nahar newspaper. Another daily, Al-Balad, printed an empty photo frame on its front page, symbolizing the political vacuum.

The departure of Lahoud, a staunch ally of the Syrian regime during his nine years in office, was a long-sought goal of the government installed by parliament's anti-Syria majority, which has been trying to put one of its own in the presidency.

Hezbollah and other opposition groups have blocked legislators from electing a new president by boycotting ballot sessions, leaving parliament without the required quorum.

The fight has put Lebanon into dangerous, unknown territory: Both sides are locked in bitter recriminations, accusing the other of breaking the constitution, and they are nowhere near a compromise on a candidate to become head of state.

The army command refused to comment on the developments. The military, under its widely respected chief, Gen. Michel Suleiman, has sought to remain neutral in the political chaos, and Lahoud's statement did not give it political powers.

BAGHDAD (AP) -- The U.S. military on Saturday blamed the deadly bombing of a pet market in Baghdad on Iranian-backed Shiite militants, raising concerns that escalating activity by Shiite extremists could jeopardize a relative calm that has offered new hopes for Iraqis after years of turmoil.

The bomb, which was hidden in a box of small birds, exploded Friday morning as Iraqis were strolling past animal stalls and bird cages at Baghdad's al-Ghazl market. The market had recently re-emerged as a popular venue as security has increased, raising hopes for calm in the capital after years of turmoil.

Police and hospital officials said at least 15 people were killed and 56 wounded, including four policemen, making it the deadliest in Baghdad in more than two months.

U.S. military spokesman Rear Adm. Gregory Smith said the bomb was packed with ball bearings to maximize casualties, and bore the hallmarks of a so-called special group, the military term for Shiite militia fighters who have been trained by Iran and have broken with radical cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, who called on his supporters to stand down in August.

He said the military believes the Shiite extremists were hoping al-Qaida in Iraq would be held responsible for the attack so Iraqis would turn to them for protection.

Nice legacy there, George. So, now that you are looking at the last year of your second term, and all the term papers have been handed in, all the finals graded, what are you going to do?:
The US has confirmed it will host a conference on Middle East peace next week aimed at relaunching negotiations to create a Palestinian state. Invitations have been issued to Israel, the Palestinians, the UN and key Arab states such as Saudi Arabia and Syria. But Washington is still trying to persuade Arab states to send delegates.
I think this will be filed under too fucking little, too fucking late, Georgie.

Update: A little bit of legacy goes to the Iraqi women, too. (via Attaturk of Rising Hegemon):

Bush's Legacy: Letting Cheney and Rumsfeld loose upon the world

John Brown, a former Foreign Service officer who resigned from the State Department over the planned war in Iraq writes for Asia Online about Cheney and Rumsfeld and why they attacked Iraq: (my bold)
According to some commentators, when it came to the American ascendancy abroad, the real powers behind (or in) the White House were Cheney and Rumsfeld, who had been collaborators ever since the distant Ford administration. Some argue that they - and their neo-con poodle and second-in-command at the Defense Department, Paul Wolfowitz, as well assorted neo-cons once linked to the Likud party in Israel and the Christian right in the US - were the true framers of a Bush empire.

To be sure, Rumsfeld was an early member of the Project for the New American Century and no doubt had ideas - or perhaps simply fantasies masquerading as ideas - about a more aggressive use of American military strength throughout the world. Cheney's former position as chief executive officer of Halliburton and his connections with large corporations certainly made him the prime imperial candidate for considering global energy flows and eyeing Iraq as one vast oil field just waiting to be seized, one more country with must-have natural resources for the American imperium.

Even if the duo were eager indeed to expand US influence and resources overseas, as veterans of countless Washington partisan and personal battles, what really got their aged blood flowing was the sleazy, vindictive inside-the-Beltway world of Washington, DC. Rumsfeld's utter inability to focus on post-invasion planning in Iraq was in itself strong evidence that what happened there ("events" which he so often simply made up) was of secondary concern. Iraq - or success in that country - was indeed important but mainly to the extent that it heightened his profile as a monster player in Washington.

For both Cheney and Rumsfeld, it was the imperial capital, not the empire itself that really mattered. There, "war" would mean the loosing of a commander-in-chief presidency unchecked by Congress, courts, anything - which meant power in the only world that mattered to them. War in the provinces was their ticket to renewed prominence within DC's self-absorbed biosphere, a kind of lost space station far removed from Mother Earth, and a place where they had longstanding, unfinished accounts - both personal and political - to settle.

"Foreign policy," in other words, was an excuse for war in a far-off country that 63% of American youth between the ages of 18 and 24 could not, according to a National Geographic survey, find on a map of the Middle East. That, in turn, would make both the vice president and secretary of defense (for a while) little Caesars in the only place that mattered, Washington, DC.

If Saddam and assorted terrorists were enemies, they weren't the ones who really mattered. In the realest war of all, the one on the banks of the Potomac, Cheney and Rumsfeld were, above all, targeting those symbols of American internationalism that they had grown to despise in their previous Washington stays - the State Department and the Central Intelligence Agency - perhaps because those organizations, at their best, aspired to see how the world looked at the United States, and not just how the United States could dismiss the world.

Just as Bush "kicked ass" in Iraq, so Cheney and Rumsfeld used Iraq to "kick ass" among the striped-pants weenies at Foggy Bottom and the eggheads in the intelligence community. (Consider Cheney's treatment of Ambassador Joseph Wilson, who questioned the validity of the administration's claim about Saddam's search for uranium yellowcake in Niger in the late 1990s.)

In toppling Iraq, the "imperial" aim of Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, their foreign policy "experts" and their acolytes was to raise the flag of their own power high above Washington, DC, while discrediting and humiliating those in the foreign-policy profession interested in the outside world for itself, those willing to consider how it related to actual US national interests, not fantasy ones, and who therefore dared to question the goals and intentions of the dynamic duo.

To see how Washington-centered this cast of characters actually was, just recall the secretary of defense's self-glorifying press conferences in his post-invasion heyday, when he played the strutting comedian. In that period, Rumsfeld, venerated by, among others, aging neo-con Midge Decter in a swooning biography, was the king of the heap and visibly loving every second of it.

Front-page headlines in the imperial capital were what counted, never the reality of Iraq - any more than it did when Bush strutted that aircraft-carrier deck in his military get-up for his "mission accomplished" moment, launching (against a picturesque backdrop of sailors and war) Campaign 2004 at home. Poor Iraq. It was the butt of the imperial joke, as was - for a while - the rest of the outside world.

Political theorist Benjamin Barber caught the Bush foreign-policy moment perfectly. The US, he wrote, made "foreign policy to indulge a host of domestic concerns and self-celebratory varieties of hide-bound insularity. The United States remains a hegemonic global superpower sporting the narrow outlook of mini-states like Monaco and Lichtenstein."

In the end, the Bush administration is likely to be remembered not for a failed imperialism, but a failed parochialism, an inability to perceive a world beyond the Washington of Cheney and Rumsfeld, beyond Bush's national security "homeland". That may be the president's ultimate legacy.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Reasons for hope

Phila of Bouphonia shows us.

Mike Huckabee's little list

Of weirdness.

Update: Matt Taibbi of Mother Jones has an article that exposes more of Huckabee's ... dark side.

Update 11/24: Tengrain of Mock, Paper, Scissors has a most illustrative picture.

Update 11/28: Pam Spaulding of Pandagon talks about Huckabee's supporters Left Behind author LeHaye and the conservative group Concerned Women for America.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

You know those Iraqis who are streaming back into Iraq?

They aren't going willingly:(link via Moonbootica of Devizes Melting Pot)
DAMASCUS, 22 November 2007 (IRIN) - Lack of funds and the Syrian government’s refusal to renew their visas, more than the perception of improved security in Iraq, are prompting some Iraqi refugees in Syria to return to Iraq, according to personal refugee accounts and figures from the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR).

The Iraqi government recently announced that 46,000 refugees returned to Iraq in October, mostly from Syria, while a Syrian immigration source said that between 1 October and 19 November 60,000 people had returned to Iraq.

Some media reports and Iraqi government officials have suggested the refugees are returning because of improved security following the US military “surge” earlier this year.

However, in a report released on 22 November, the UNHCR - which interviewed 110 Iraqis in Syria this week - found that only 14 percent of respondents said they were returning to Iraq because they believed the security situation had improved, as opposed to 70 percent who cited financial and visa reasons.

“I have no money because I’m not allowed to work,” said an Iraqi man waiting by the Iraqi embassy in Damascus, and who wished to remain anonymous. He and his family are planning to leave Syria for Iraq on 26 November. “Also my official visa has run out and the Syrian government won’t renew it.”

The majority of the estimated 1.5 million Iraqi refugees in Syria are not allowed to work legally and, with the price of basic commodities and rent soaring, many who have used up their savings in Syria are now unable to afford to stay any longer.
Update: Another viewpoint:
GENEVA (AFP) — The United Nations refugee agency on Friday expressed concerns over reports Iraqi refugees are returning to the country, particularly from neighbouring Syria, saying there was no large-scale movement.

The UN High Commissioner for Refugees "does not believe that the time has come to promote, organise or encourage returns" given the volatile and unpredictable security situation in Iraq, spokeswoman Jennifer Pagonis told journalists.

"Presently, there is no sign of any large-scale return to Iraq," she added.

More than 1.4 million Iraqis have fled to Syria since the US-led invasion of 2003, but they are coming under increased bureaucratic and financial pressure as the country's social infrastructure struggles with the influx.

A survey by UN staff in Syria found that the majority of returning Iraqi families are doing so because they are running out of money or resources and facing difficult living conditions, or because their visas have expired.

Syria imposed visa requirements on Iraqis from October 1. Those seeking to enter the country must now obtain visas from the Syrian embassy in Baghdad, which are given only for commercial, transport, scientific or educational reasons.

Iraq said earlier this week that it will offer Syria 15 million dollars (10 million euros) to help pay the costs of sheltering refugees.

Wait a minute... have we checked that Bush actually knows what the word 'Democracy' means?

Because he thinks Musharraf is doing a fabulous job:
President Bush yesterday offered his strongest support of embattled Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf, saying the general "hasn't crossed the line" and "truly is somebody who believes in democracy."

Bush spoke nearly three weeks after Musharraf declared emergency rule, sacked members of the Supreme Court and began a roundup of journalists, lawyers and human rights activists. Musharraf's government yesterday released about 3,000 political prisoners, although 2,000 remain in custody, according to the Interior Ministry.
But Canada included in the nine Commonwealth nations suspends Pakistan (link via Chet Scoville of Vanity Press):
A committee of foreign ministers voted Thursday to suspend Pakistan from the Commonwealth over anti-democratic actions taken by President Gen. Pervez Musharraf during his emergency rule.

Representatives from nine Commonwealth countries, including Canada, voted unanimously to suspend Pakistan "from councils of the Commonwealth pending restoration of democracy and rule of law in the country," said Secretary-General Don McKinnon.


"We adhere to and we support the principles of democracy and right now we have to uphold that," she said. "We have to stand behind that and we have to support that and Pakistan has not done that."

Pakistan — which was also suspended from the Commonwealth in 1999 after Musharraf came to power in a coup, but reinstated five years later — had pleaded for more time before the group's meeting and argued that it was making progress toward restoring democracy.

But the Musharraf government has failed to meet any of the five criteria set out for it by the Commonwealth, said Helena Guergis, Canada's secretary of state for foreign affairs, who is accompanying Prime Minister Stephen Harper to the summit.

"We adhere to and we support the principles of democracy," Guergis told reporters as she entered a meeting. "Right now, we have to uphold that. We have to stand behind that, and support that. Right now, Pakistan is not doing that."

So we know that Georgie has done his homework:
de·moc·ra·cy /dɪˈmɒkrəsi/ Pronunciation Key - Show Spelled Pronunciation[di-mok-ruh-see]
–noun, plural -cies.
1. government by the people; a form of government in which the supreme power is vested in the people and exercised directly by them or by their elected agents under a free electoral system.
2. a state having such a form of government: The United States and Canada are democracies.
3. a state of society characterized by formal equality of rights and privileges.
4. political or social equality; democratic spirit.
5. the common people of a community as distinguished from any privileged class; the common people with respect to their political power.
Georgie... you notice the part about 'the supreme power is vested in the people and exercised directly by them or by their elected agents under a free electoral system'?

Now, do you want to explain to us just how Musharraf is supporting democracy? Or how you are, for that matter?

Why isn't Martin Sheen running for president?

Josh Marshall gives us much to be thankful for

If we can recall it:

The furry terrorists hate us for our freedoms to eat copious amounts at one sitting

That or they're getting ready for a major assault while we are all doped up from tryptophan:
Brian Elwood, a spokesman for Xcel Energy, said a squirrel came in contact with an overhead transformer and knocked out service to 177 customers Monday. Power was fully restored in just under an hour, and repair crews found the remains of the "unfortunate squirrel," he said.

By coincidence, another squirrel got into a substation 40 miles away in Ironwood, Mich., Monday morning and caused a temporary outage that affected about 1,400 customers in Ironwood and two nearby communities, Elwood said.

The utility takes many preventive steps to keep the curious animals away from lines, he said, but they are one of the leading causes of outages, trailing only severe weather.

"We kind of liken it to anyone who's had a bird feeder and tried to keep the squirrels out," he said. "They find a way."

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Why is it when you have a whole lot to do

Everything else explodes? Spent the day I should have been making stuffing and pies searching for a damned piece of paper buried somewhere in the strata of drifts of letters and clippings about the house. Found it after geologically figuring out which box to search. The guy to fix the dryer was coming so I had to make a pathway through the garage, and then lost some time watching him fix a two cent plastic toggle which had snapped off conveniently. Talk about planned obsolescence. Cost me $100. Then of course the car's new battery strangely died, requiring the AAA guys to come.

Still, it's now past 11, and I've finished four pies and the stuffing. The turkey lurks in the fridge, and the mashed potatoes are out of a box. As much as Thanksgiving is slinging the hash for me, I am thankful.

I have enough to eat. I have a house I share with my family in a safe place. My family is healthy. We are able to afford what we need. So much of the world does not have these simple things. I am very thankful for what I have.

So, on that note, I've dragged up from last year: Mr. Bean and his turkey.

Update: Think Progress has an excellent list of things to be thankful for.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

We have until December 11th

To make the FCC, Congress and the White House hear our voices. After that, it is too late.

Bill Moyers
tells us:
There's a new twist this week. Despite overwhelming public opposition from across the country and the political spectrum, the Chairman of the FCC, Kevin Martin, isn't letting up in his relentless push to allow a handful of media giants swallow up more of your local media.

He made it official on Tuesday: He intends to lift the longstanding ban that keeps one company from owning both the daily newspaper and a radio or television station in the same market.
Rick Karr of the Bill Moyers Journal provides the background: (Go to his site for the links that didn't copy):
The first steps are likely to be taken by the FCC. Its chairman, Kevin J. Martin, has proposed changing what's known as the ”Newspaper/Broadcast Cross-Ownership Rule” (pdf) – in other words, he wants to let newspapers buy radio and TV stations in the cities where they're published.

Martin argues that the change would only affect the country's 20 largest urban areas, but his Democratic colleagues on the FCC disagree (pdf). Martin has set a deadline of Dec. 11 for public comments; sources in Washington tell us that the FCC is likely to vote a week later, on Dec. 18.

You can file a comment with the FCC online. Click on the circle next to "Media Ownership Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking - Docket 06-121," then click "Continue" at the bottom of the page. You can also send comments straight to each of the five commissioners – or the FCC as a whole – via email, phone, fax, or mail. If you choose one of those routes, make sure you mention that you're commenting on "Docket 06-121" - the bureaucracy's name for Martin's proposal.

Congress is getting involved, too. Sen. Byron Dorgan (D-ND) and Sen. Trent Lott (R-MS) have introduced The Media Ownership Act of 2007, which would delay the FCC vote on Martin's proposal and require the Commission to examine how local communities have been affected by media consolidation. You can find out how to contact your Senators here.

At the FCC hearing in Seattle – which we cover on this week's Journal – Commissioner Michael J. Copps offered one more suggestion: Go straight to the top and let the White House know what you think.

This debate may drag on for months. Martin's agenda has taken flack from Democrats and Republicans alike. Some media firms say it doesn't go far enough. The last time the FCC voted to loosen ownership rules, in 2003, both the Senate and the federal courts got involved.

Monday, November 19, 2007

What we don't know can't hurt us?

But when we find out we're really really pissed off:
SAN FRANCISCO, Nov. 19 The U.S. government does not require food importers to submit the results of private lab tests if those results indicate food is contaminated.

One facility in San Francisco that tests about 150 imported food shipments each month finds at least 10 percent of the food contains things like mercury and salmonella, making it unfit for human consumption, USA Today reported Monday.

The newspaper says generally Anresco Labs tells no one about food that fails except for the importer who pays for the test.

Currently there is no regulation requiring labs to send all test results to the Food and Drug Administration though the FDA automatically rejects food that fails lab tests.

The danger is that an unscrupulous importer who gets bad results from one lab could hire another lab to test the food and pass it, the newspaper reports.

Anresco Chairman David Eisenberg says the FDA's failure to require labs to submit all test results forces them to protect importers more than the public.

When in doubt, arm everybody

And stand back:
WASHINGTON, Nov. 19 U.S. military officials say a plan to arm Pakistani tribes against al-Qaida may be accelerated because of concern about instability in Pakistan.

The plan would finance a separate tribal paramilitary force and, if adopted, would likely increase the U.S. military presence in Pakistan, The New York Times reported Monday. Dozens of military trainers could be added to the estimated 50 troops the U.S. has there now, the newspaper said.

The classified proposal is modeled on a similar effort by U.S. forces in Anbar Province in Iraq. It would enlist Pakistani tribal leaders along the border with Afghanistan in the fight against an expanding al-Qaida and Taliban insurgency, the Times said.

U.S. military officials say the situation has taken on urgency because of the weakness of the Pakistani government and concerns about instability in Pakistan in light of President Pervez Musharraf's revocation of constitutional rule two weeks ago, the newspaper said.
This wonderfully amazing idea is so obviously from those who have done such a good job in Afghanistan and Iraq that I think I need to go dig a bunker in my backyard.....

Don't diplomats use big words?

Maybe that's why Georgie doesn't have this meeting high on the agenda:

Steve Benen of Crooks and Liars:

The good news is, the administration is now poised to hold a major Middle East peace conference. The bad news is, no one seems to have any idea who’s coming, when they’ll meet, or what they’ll do.

[N]o conference date has been set. No invitations have been issued. And no one really agrees on what the participants will actually talk about once they arrive at the Naval Academy for the meeting, which is intended to relaunch Bush’s stillborn “road map” plan to create a Palestinian state.

“No one seems to know what is happening,” one senior Arab envoy said last week, speaking on condition of anonymity to avoid appearing out of the loop. “I am completely lost.”

Incompetence. Nobody does it better.

Bush is said to have his swagger back

I have just one question. What swagger?

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Just asking....

Set off one bomb

And the mercenary bodyguards will do the rest:
Kabul, Afghanistan (AHN) - A U.N. report, obtained by the Associated Press Monday, says security guards, not suicide bombers, are responsible for the majority of casualties in a bloody attack in northern Afghanistan on November 6. The report said that the guards, hired to protect Afghan lawmakers, fired "deliberately and indiscriminately" into a crowd of unarmed civilians.

The attack took place as a group of lawmakers traveled to Baghlan province to celebrate an economic development project in the region. It claimed 77 lives, among them six MPs and 61 children who had gathered to welcome them. Another 100 people were wounded in the incident.

The U.N. Department of Safety and Security report claims that in the chaos that followed the suicide bomb, the guards fired into the crowd for several minutes.

It says their gunfire could be to blame in as many as two-thirds of the casualties. "It has been confirmed that eight of the teachers in charge of this group of school children suffered multiple gunshot wounds, five of which died," the report reads.

The government of Afghanistan has estimated the number of shooting victims to be much lower. Interior Ministry spokesman Zemeri Bashary has claimed most victims were hit by ball bearings from the bomb, with only "a few" people wounded by bullets.

The United Nations mission in Afghanistan told the AP the results of the investigation are still under debate and have not been officially endorsed by the international body.No group has claimed responsibility for the attack, and Afghan officials have not yet named suspects.

Heaps and heaps

Two weeks worth of idiocy!

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I don't think he's lost

I think he's hiding:
A 5.5m long minke whale has been spotted more than 1600km (994 miles) from the Atlantic Ocean, deep inside the Amazon rain forest. The whale ran aground earlier this week but after being freed with the help of vets and biologists it disappeared shortly afterwards.
Because of this:
The UK, Australia and New Zealand have sharply criticised Japan for the launch of its largest ever whaling expedition. The hunting fleet has instructions to kill up to 1,000 whales. Humpback whales will be hunted for the first time in over 40 years.
Swim for your lives! You're food!

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Update 11/20: P.Z. Myers of Pharyngula has the last word.

Bangladesh's cyclone aftermath

BARGUNA, Bangladesh (AP) -- The death toll from Thursday's cyclone in Bangladesh is now more than 3,100, and officials say that number could reach 10,000 once rescuers get to outlying islands. Rescuers are struggling to reach thousands of survivors, and relief items have been slow to reach many. Survivors grieved and buried their loved ones Monday as they waited for aid to arrive.

The death toll from the Thursday cyclone reached 3,113 after reports finally reached Dhaka from storm-ravaged areas which had been largely cut off because of washed-out roads and downed telephone lines, said Lt. Col. Main Ullah Chowdhury, a spokesman of the army coordinating the relief and rescue work.

Relief Web has this:
As of 18th November, the disaster management control room reported death of 2,300 people in 23 districts due to the Cyclone Sidr. It is also reported from different sources that nearly 4,000 people are seriously injured. Thousands are still missing and it is unofficially forecasted that the dead and missing will be over 5,000. It is estimated that the cyclone has affected 887,000 families of 103 upazilas, killed 242,000 livestock and destroyed crops on 23,000 acres of land and flattened nearly three million houses.
DHAKA (AFP) — Experts said Sunday they feared for the wildlife and ecology of the world's biggest mangrove forest after a deadly cyclone tore through the Sunderbans -- home to the endangered Royal Bengal tiger.

Zunayed Kabir Chowdhury, a Dhaka-based mangrove expert, said he feared thousands of deer as well as many tigers and wild boar had been swept away by the massive tidal wave triggered by cyclone Sidr last Thursday.

"The eye of the cyclone hit the part of the Sunderbans which is known to be the most important habitat of the tigers and other wildlife," he said.

The nests of many birds would also have been destroyed, he added.

"Wildlife is vulnerable to this sort of natural disaster and much would have been washed away by the strong surge," said Shanti Ranjan Das of the government's livestock department.

"The cyclone has inflicted an ecological disaster," he added.

This is just the beginning of constant news about inundations along the coastlines, about huge losses of life. Too many people trying to find areas to live in are forced into danger zones.

Nice to think there are still people who deny global warming and insist that birth control is evil....


The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) said in its report that evidence of climate change is "unequivocal."

It said the trend could lead to "abrupt" changes to the planet, cause human suffering and threaten some species with extinction.

No military assistance link between Iran and Iraq has been proved

Even when we tortured captured Iranians: (my bold)
WASHINGTON - The George W Bush administration's campaign to seize and detain Iranian Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) officials in Iraq, presented by Bush himself in January as a move to break up an alleged Iranian arms smuggling operation in Iraq, appears to have run its course without having been able to link a single Iranian to any such operation.

Despite administration rhetoric suggesting that the US military had solid intelligence on which to base a campaign to break up Iranian-sponsored networks supplying armor-piercing weapons, what is now known about the kidnapping operations indicates that the actual purpose was to obtain some evidence from interrogations that would support the administration's line that the IRGC's elite Quds Force is involved in assisting Shi'ite forces militarily.

None of the remaining six Iranians now held by the US military, however, has provided any evidence for the administration's case, despite many months of very tough interrogation usually employed on "high-value" detainees.

Wayne White, former deputy director of the US Bureau of Intelligence and Research Office of Analysis for the Near East and South Asia, told Inter Press Service he believes the administration badly wanted to get information from the Iranian detainees that they could use to make their case, but it has been unable to do so.

"I'm convinced that they haven't gotten anything out of them," he said in an interview. "They haven't come up with anything they can shop around."

The program has also been a political embarrassment in relations with US allies in Iraq. US military seizures of Iranians whom the US military claimed were IRGC Quds Force officers have been condemned not only by the Shi'ite government of Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, but also by Kurdish leaders. The US military apologized in August for "a regrettable incident" in which eight Iranians were arrested in Baghdad, and soon freed after Iraqi protests.

And the US quietly released nine Iranian detainees last week, two of whom were seized in the Kurdish city of Irbil in January, saying they were "of no continuing intelligence value".
So... what is the next step when we've found torture doesn't work. Do we just dump the victims out on the nearest road and tell them not to have any hard feelings? Is there any realization that this torture has created many more terrorists? This time with a very rational reason for hating the United States?

Update: And while we're on the subject, Iran isn't close to having a nuclear weapon:
Kuwait City, Kuwait (AHN) - Former U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell said Sunday that Iran is far from acquiring nuclear armament. He declared that an Islamic attack by the country is unlikely at this point, refuting the concerns and the claims of the current U.S. government about Iran's dangerous nuclear weaponry potential.

The United States and some of its allies have recently been pressing down on Iran, challenging its claims of ambitions for a peaceful nuclear program. The U.S. government has raised the alarm on Iran's uranium enrichment program, and threatening to slap the nation with heavy sanctions.

Mr. Powell expressed his doubts and disagreements regarding this sentiment, saying "I think Iran is a long way from having anything that could be anything like a nuclear weapon," as quoted by the Associated Press.

In an investigation done by the U.N. nuclear watchdog the IAEA, it was revealed that there was no solid evidence of Iran developing nuclear power for the sake of atomic weapon acquisition. The Iranian Ambassador to Pakistan, Mashallah Shakeri, further insisted this claim.

Strange how Bush wants to smear democracy around the world

Except when it involves one of his friends:

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan (AP) -- A Supreme Court hand-picked by President Gen. Pervez Musharraf swiftly dismissed legal challenges to his continued rule on Monday, opening the way for him to serve another five-year term - this time solely as a civilian president.

The opposition has denounced the new court, saying any decisions by a tribunal stripped of independent voices had no credibility. Musharraf purged the court Nov. 3 when he declared emergency rule, days before the tribunal was expected to rule on his eligibility to serve as president.

The United States has put immense pressure on Musharraf to restore the constitution and free thousands of political opponents jailed under the emergency before Pakistan's critical parliamentary election Jan. 8.

Monday's court ruling could hasten Musharraf's decision to give up his army post. The general has said he would quit as armed forces commander by the end of the month, assuming he was given the legal go-ahead by the court to remain as president.


Negroponte, Washington's No. 2 diplomat, was blunt in comments Sunday after his meetings with Musharraf and other senior military and political figures, saying the emergency rule was "not compatible with free, fair and credible elections."

But Pakistan was quick to dismiss those concerns, saying the senior American diplomat brought no new proposals on his weekend visit, and received no assurances after urging Musharraf to restore the constitution.

The face-off leaves the Bush administration with limited options in steering its nuclear-armed ally back toward democracy.


Senior Bush administration officials have said publicly that they have no plans to cut off the billions of dollars in military aid that Pakistan receives each year.

How very odd...