Thursday, June 28, 2007

Off to a wedding

So I will have massive withdrawal symptoms from lack of blogging and fall face first into my slice of wedding cake.

I will try to post during our trip but if I can't , I hope I will be able to still make snarky comments on your blogs!

And as for that damned squirrel eating my unripe apricots, he will be this size when I get back:

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More for the squirrel pie, you greedy rodent!

Update: fixed my stupid grammar.


Via NTodd of Dohiyimir, Georgie stamps his feet:

President Bush, moving toward a constitutional showdown with Congress, asserted executive privilege Thursday and rejected lawmakers' demands for documents that could shed light on the firings of federal prosecutors.

Bush's attorney told Congress the White House would not turn over subpoenaed documents for former presidential counsel Harriet Miers and former political director Sara Taylor. Congressional panels want the documents for their investigations of Attorney General Alberto Gonzales' stewardship of the Justice Department, including complaints of undue political influence.

The Democratic chairmen of the two committees seeking the documents accused Bush of stonewalling and disdain for the law, and said they would press forward with enforcing the subpoenas.

Nyah nyah nyah, says Georgie:

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Pictures from the cyclone Gonu that hit Oman

Via Moonbootica of Devizes Melting Pot who has more photos:

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Somehow I've lost my appetite....

Thanks, China: (my bold) Via Cookie Jill at skippy the bush kangaroo:

Also Thursday, state media said Beijing police raided a village where live pigs were force-fed wastewater to boost their weight before slaughter, underscoring the country's chronic food safety problems.

Plastic pipes had been forced down the pigs' throats and villagers had pumped each 220-pound pig with 44 pounds of wastewater, the Beijing Morning Post reported.

Paperwork showed the pigs were headed for one of Beijing's main slaughterhouses and stamps on their ears indicated that they already had been through quarantine and inspection, the paper said. Suspects escaped during Wednesday's raid and no arrests were made, it said.

The case underscored China's chaotic food safety situation, where manufacturers and distributors often use unapproved additives, falsify expiration dates or find other methods of cutting corners to eke out small profits.

Earlier this week, inspectors announced they had closed 180 food factories nationwide in the first half of this year and seized tons of candy, pickles, crackers and seafood tainted with formaldehyde, illegal dyes and industrial wax.

"These are not isolated cases," Han Yi, an official with the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine, was quoted as saying in Wednesday's state-run China Daily newspaper.

Han's admission was significant because the agency has said in the past that safety violations were the work of a few rogue operators -- a claim aimed at protecting China's billions of dollars of food exports.

Made in China is taking on a whole new meaning....

A Mighty Heart

I rarely go to movies in the theater nowadays. We buy used DVDs from Hollywood video and watch at home. So going to see A Mighty Heart was a treat for me.

Angelina Jolie absolutely disappears into her role and does a fantastic job. The supporting actors are all realistic and do not hit a false note. You feel you are in Pakistan, you have the sensation of the street, the crowded population, the seething poverty, the anger just below the surface. Pearl's death is done discreetly but with impact. The Pakistani police are portrayed excellently well.

You come away understanding the area and the events just a bit more clearly. A hard movie to take but a movie well done and well worth your time.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Strange how every person we kill in Iraq

Just happens to be al-Qaeda....

How very... convenient....

Why vote for people who hate to govern?

Because I find that objectionable.

Waste, fraud, and abuse

The Bush administration's three tenets for governing:

Cheney pretends to throw in the towel but...

Continues to do what he wants to do.

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Kinda like a deep sea creature that looks like it's cornered then suddenly disappears in a cloud of ink....

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From Kagro X at Daily Kos:
How exactly is a letter saying the Archivist has no authority to make the OVP comply with this executive order "throwing in the towel?" Did someone in the White House tell Allen that, and so he just wrote it down? Did they just "Healthy Forest" us here? "We're throwing in the towel! Except for the part about the towel. And throwing it."
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But wait! Here is Shadowy Dick lurking in the White House and talking about the executive duties of the VP!

*GASP* And here is proof that Shadowy Dick lets spies run rampant through his office!

Steve Bates of The Yellow Doggerel Democrat has the links to the Washington Post's expose on Shadowy Dick's takeover of all branches of the Bush administration. The man has obviously been lusting after absolute power for years and Georgie was too stupid to block his power grab.

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Just what the hell has been going on in Shadowy Dick's office? Has he forgotten he works for us? He's an EMPLOYEE of the government?

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Of course not. He thinks he is owed this power after having to wait so long to get his hands on it...

Update: Defunding the Dick:
The Democrats are going to call Dick Cheney’s bluff this coming Thursday by using his own logic to justify cutting of funds to his offices, according to Rep. Rahm Emanuel (D-IL) who joined Keith Olbermann on Tuesday’s “Countdown.” Emanuel points out that defunding the Vice President’s office would save American taxpayers some $4.5 million dollars. And we know George Bush never met a tax cut he didn’t like, right?

I hope others are beginning to break out in a sweat

Because the phrase 'just following orders' is so 1940ish and 'everybody else was doing it' doesn't work after you're 12.

Welcome to the real world, you wonderful workers of Karl Rove's thousand year reich!:

Washington, D.C. (AHN)-A former Bush administration official was sentenced Tuesday to 10 months in prison for obstructing a corruption probe into now-jailed Washington Republican lobbyist Jack Abramoff.

Deputy Interior Secretary Steven Griles, 59, was also ordered by U.S. District Judge Ellen Segal Huvelle to pay a $30,000 fine and serve three years of supervised release after his imprisonment.

On March 23, Griles was convicted after pleading guilty to obstructing a 2005 Senate investigation into pay-for-play politics in the Department of the Interior, where Griles was the No. 2 official.

Abramoff, who began a nearly six-year prison sentence in November, pleaded guilty to a long list of federal charges, including conspiracy, mail fraud and tax evasion.

Former Rep. Bob Ney (R-OH) was sentenced in January to 2 1/2 years in prison, after taking bribes from Abramoff, who was trying to help Indian tribes.

In October, David Safavian, the Bush administration's former top procurement official, was sentenced to 18 months in prison after he was found guilty of trying to cover up his association with Abramoff.

Among the many Washington insiders still under investigation is Italia Federici, co-founder of the Council of Republicans for Environmental Advocacy.

She pleaded guilty to tax evasion and obstruction of a Senate investigation into Abramoff's relationship with Interior Department officials.

Also, there is Congressman Ney's former chief of staff, William Heaton, who has also pleaded guilty to conspiracy. He allegedly accepted lavish trips, meals and gifts as payoffs for helping Abramoff's clients gain congressional favor.

How's the making of your own reality working out for you now?

Update 6/27: Atrios at Eschaton has more.

Who wins in this game of chicken?

And who loses? Besides the troops, I mean.

Josh Marshall at Talking Points Memo

President Bush gives every indication that he intends to keep troop deployments at their current level through January 2009. Sure, if everyone chills out in Iraq and finally throws him the parade the president is holding out for, he'll begin bringing the troops home. But on planet Earth it's stay through course through 1/09.

The president's ability to pull that off -- both in terms of raw votes and public sentiment -- rests almost entirely on a solid phalanx of support among congressional Republicans and 2008 Republican presidential aspirants. They don't have to be for the president's war or his conduct of it. But they need to stay resolutely opposed to Democratic efforts to end it.

As long as that's the case, as long as the vast majority of Republicans oppose Democratic attempts to end the war, that will keep Democrats (not saying it's right, just observing the dynamics) from really going to the mat over it. And as long as Democrats don't force a major confrontation that keeps it all sort of murky in the public mind who's for or against. But eventually -- maybe as soon as September -- public opposition will become so overwhelming that the Democrats may be willing to really force the matter and not worry about lacking any bipartisan cover. Or maybe by September enough Republicans will see the numbers and give in and give the Democrats their veto-proof majorities.


The truth is that the president is playing a very high-stakes game of chicken with his fellow Republicans. He's driving a hundred miles an hour toward the cliff, way too fast to jump out of the car without risking serious injury. But as the cliff gets closer, they'll start to jump.

Neatly wrapped and ready to go!

The top ten!

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

We aren't the good guys anymore

We're the bad guys. And it isn't American. It may be Dick Cheney's new world vision, but it isn't ours.

From Glenn at Pax Americana:

We start wars now. We torture people. We suspend the rule of law. We do all the terrible things we once accused the Soviet Union of doing years ago. Back then is was the Soviets who would snatch people off the streets and imprison them in gulags without legal representation, without charges, without even notifying their families.

Now we're the nation that does that. We have, on so many fronts, become bad guys. Good guys don't do what Mr. Greenwald's article chronicles. Good guys don't do what Gen. Anthony Taguba documented in his report on the Abu Graib prison. That report was the subject of an arctile by Sy Hersh in this week's New Yorker. We have snatched people, put them in gulags, and tortured them — despite George Bush's denials to the contrary. Gen. Taguba's report — and Hersh's article — lift the veil that had been hiding what we were doing and who knew we were doing it prior to the publishing of those awful photos from the Iraqi prison.

We need to claim what was true about us again before it is lost forever.

A movie you must see!

It's a horror flick and you'll never look at Ann the same way! Morse at Republic of Sestakastan has the plot line.

Update: Elizabeth Edwards will surely give it a two thumbs up!

Monday, June 25, 2007

Canadians, before you brush your teeth

Check your toothpaste because it sounds as if the toxic stuff China sent to Central America has found its way to your shelves:

Guelph, ON (AHN) - Potentially tainted toothpaste may have been found on Canadian store shelves. Health Canada is testing the product and checking if it is linked to a recall in the U.S. involving counterfeit Colgate toothpaste found to contain an ingredient used in antifreeze.

The suspicious tube was found in a Guelph, Ontario dollar store. The packaging contained no French text, which is required on products sold in Canada, had spelling errors and said it was manufactured in South Africa.


Consumers are being warned to check for an eight-digit drug identification number, a natural product number or a homeopathic medicine number to verify product authenticity.

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I think I've discovered the reason we attacked Iraq

After 9/11. We used CNN for directions and bombed the wrong country:

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It's all 'over there somewhere' to these people, isn't it? Doesn't really matter which country we attack, they're all the same...

Look who is representing us abroad as the voice of America?

The neocons who are planning to 'fix' Bush's messes. Why does this not fill me with confidence?
Neo-cons take spin to US-backed airwaves

By Khody Akhavi

WASHINGTON - As the administration of US President George W Bush struggles through its last two years in office, it appears that the agenda of neo-conservative ideologues has finally lost its appeal among strategic parts of the US foreign-policy apparatus.

But as their influence has waned at the Pentagon and State Department, neo-conservative hawks have taken charge on the battlefield of public diplomacy.

Intent on fixing what American Enterprise Institute (AEI) fellow Joshua Muravchik termed President Bush's "public diplomacy mess", right-wing hawks have gained control of the weapons in the "war of ideas" - US government-funded and supported media outlets such as Voice of America (VOA), Al-Hurra, and Radio Farda, which broadcast to the Middle East and aim to offer an alternative view of the news.

The recent appointment of Jeffrey Gedmin, a veteran neo-conservative polemicist, as the director of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE), and a smear campaign that led to the recent resignation of Larry Register, Al-Hurra's former news director, appears to herald a turn toward more ideologically rigid programming.

As a result, viewers and listeners of US-supported media in the Middle East are being exposed to a tougher ideological line that endorses the hallmarks of the neo-conservative agenda - regime change and interventionist policies in the region.

Lovely. The neocons and their beloved PNAC need to be dragged out into the sunlight and dosed with bleach. There needs to be a public discussion as to why the neoconservative agenda is not American, or else we will be dealing with yet another hijacking of our government in thirty years or so.


Under DOS attack and temporarily silenced. The blogosphere takes notice:

Bryan of Why Now? and whig of Cannablog explain.

Mustang Bobby of Bark Bark Woof Woof keeps track of the bloggers.

The police in Los Angeles have begun to impound people's cars who drag race on streets. They then FLATTEN the cars. Maybe when (not if) they catch the hacker responsible, they take his computer out on to the street and drive over it a few times....

Sunday, June 24, 2007


And not with spray paint:

PSoTD gives me the rules:
1. All right, here are the rules. 2. We have to post these rules before we give you the facts. 3. Players start with eight random facts/habits about themselves. 4. People who are tagged need to write their own blog about their eight things and post these rules. 5. At the end of your blog, you need to choose eight people to get tagged and list their names. Don’t forget to leave them a comment telling them they’re tagged, and to read your blog.

Eight random facts?.... hmmm....

1. After mocking squirrels snarkily in my blog a squirrel just today has finally made it from the park to my apricot tree and thrown my almost ripe fruit about. I am thinking violent thoughts involving the high pressure nozzle on the hose....

2. I learned how to swear really well after I got married to my husband who knew all the words...

3. I anthropomorphize the oddest things.

4. I have a hard time putting a period to sentences, the ... is kind of a written wave of the hand...

5. Because I talk with my hands a great deal...

6. I've taken both French and Italian and really can't speak either anymore.

7. I've had cats, dogs, and hamsters as pets but now all we have are fish. You can't pat stupid fish. I've tried.

8. I'm an artist but I'd rather blog right now. I'm too mad to draw or paint.

Ok, I get to pick on other people, right?

jj of Unrepentant Old Hippie

Tengrain of Mock Paper Scissors

Eli of Multi Medium

Steve Bates at The Yellow Doggerel Democrat

Bryan of Why Now?

Sorghum Crow at Sorghum Crow's General Store

Morse at Republic of Sestakastan

whig of Cannablog

Now I get to go tell these guys I've tagged them....

Damned squirrels.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Putting the American worker out of work

Have they really thought through what they are doing? What will happen when nobody in the United States can afford their product? When the middle class has been strangled to death? That they are literally putting themselves out of work?

Via whig at Cannablog:

The term immigrant

Is not always hooked to the word illegal. But it is always tied to a face, a story, a passion, a drive. Via David Neiwert of Orcinus, take a look at the new faces of America.

Photos from David Neiwert

If you are finding Ron Paul's anti-war stance attractive

Take a look at what he really believes:

Paul is very well organized online -- much of his support is derived from this -- and it's entirely likely the flood of "liberals" and "progressives" who are busy arguing that someone like Paul is worth forming an alliance with are, in fact, simply part of Paul's corps and they're doing their part to muddy the waters and ultimately attract new supporters in a "Third Way" kind of strategy.

And to some extent it seems evident that they're succeeding. Mostly, they seem to be taking advantage of a combination of amnesia among those experienced enough to know better, and simple ignorance on the part of progressives who've never heard of, or paid any attention to, Ron Paul previously. They hear Paul's carefully crafted antiwar rhetoric and his critique of the Bush administration -- all of which elide or obscure his underlying beliefs -- and think it sounds pretty good, especially for a Republican.

As Sara has already explained, there's a real problem with that -- namely, for all of Paul's seeming "progressive" positions, he carries with him a whole raft of positions well to the right of even mainstream conservatives.

At this point and forever onward, we must never assume we know all about a presidential candidate until we have inverted his/her life upside down and shaken out all past actions and speeches. A politician, by the very nature of the beast, has gotten into bed with all sorts of strange partners. Let us know them all.

This means not only will I go see the movie

I will buy the DVD and send copies to all I know....

For his damaging exposé of the health care industry, Moore is now under attack from front groups supported and funded by the insurance and pharmaceutical industries.

Finally a clear view of what Christianists think

When they think of liberals. We need apparently to repent of our 'selfish and narcissistic' lives as we get blamed for causing our own breast cancer by having multiple and carefree abortions.

What the hell is a selfish and narcissistic life? One who loves children who are here and recognizes the needs of the living sadly and necessarily overrides the functions of the womb? One who is comfortable with their sexuality and recognizes love comes in a multitude of forms? One who thinks of others and how to help? One who respects the planet and its future and does not look forward to the world ending in an horrific division of them and us? One who recognizes the rule of law is to protect individuals not corporations? That torture debases us along with destroying others? That the phrase God is Love includes everyone without exceptions?

I really don't think Jesus would recognize these people .

Bush's desperate blame game

Hard to point fingers at those who 'made' you do stuff, when you're the boss, Georgie.

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It's somebody else's fault!

Steve Benen from Talking Points Memo:

The president was explaining how his current war policy came together:

"I listened very carefully to senators like Jeff Sessions and senators who didn't agree with what Jeff and I believed was necessary. I listened to our military. That's what you want your President doing. [...]


This comes up from time to time, but the president is simply wrong. He makes this claim quite a bit, but Bush didn't shape his policy on the advice of "our military." Remember this from January?

When President Bush goes before the American people tonight to outline his new strategy for Iraq, he will be doing something he has avoided since the invasion of Iraq in March 2003: ordering his top military brass to take action they initially resisted and advised against. [...]

It may also be a sign of increasing assertiveness from a commander in chief described by former aides as relatively passive about questioning the advice of his military advisers. In going for more troops, Bush is picking an option that seems to have little favor beyond the White House and a handful of hawks on Capitol Hill and in think tanks who have been promoting the idea almost since the time of the invasion.

In November, after the election, CentCom commander Gen. John Abizaid rejected the notion of a so-called surge, saying that he "met with every divisional commander, Gen. Casey, the core commander, Gen. Dempsey" and asked them if bringing "in more American troops now, [would] add considerably to our ability to achieve success in Iraq and they all said, 'No.'"

Indeed, Bush fired Gen. Casey, in large part because he neglected to tell the president what he wanted to hear.

And yet, here we are, just a few months later, watching Bush brag about how his policy followed the advice of the generals -- which is "what you want your President doing." Please.

The only thing I want this preznit to be doing is leaving. Before January 20, 2009. In handcuffs....

Friday, June 22, 2007

Friday Cat Blogging

With somebody else's cat:

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Friday Hope Blogging

By the inestimable Phila of Bouphonia.

Sign the petition

Via Steve Bates of The Yellow Doggerel Democrat, remind our politicians that we love Habeas Corpus and due process more than them:

The petition demands that they:
1. Restore habeas corpus and due process.
2. Pass the Restoring the Constitution Act of 2007.
3. End torture and abuse in secret prisons.
4. Stop extraordinary rendition: secretly kidnapping people and sending them to countries that torture.
5. Close the detention center at Guantánamo Bay and give those held there access to justice.
6. Investigate wrongdoing and ensure those who broke the law are held accountable.
7. Restore American values and the rule of law.

So NOW they make a reset button for rich people

To allow you to have a copy of your DNA when you were young and healthy:
Imagine having a spare copy of your immune system on ice, ready to replace your existing one should you fall victim to AIDS, an autoimmune disease, or have to undergo extensive chemotherapy for cancer.

An Anglo-American company called Lifeforce has received permission from the US Food and Drug Administration to do just that. The firm collects 480-millilitre samples of blood from healthy individuals, extracts the white blood cells and stores them as an insurance policy against future disease. The service comes at a price, though: around $800 for taking the initial sample then $25 per month for storing the cells at -196 °C. "That sample would have the complete repertoire of all your white blood cells," says Del DelaRonde, co-founder of Lifeforce in Newport, UK.

Hmmm. I see future kidnapping threats: I have your white blood cell test tubes! Hand over one Meeeelllion dollars....

So who needs winter anyway?

Now we can grow things year round! (Ignore the killer heat waves and the drought in Romania....)
Last autumn-winter season was Europe's warmest for more than 700 years, researchers say.
Separately, the temperatures experienced during autumn 2006 and winter 2007 are likely to have been the warmest in 500 years, they say. But the sequential combination of two such warm seasons is a still rarer event – probably the first since 1289.

In that year, people in western and central Europe wrote accounts of what they viewed as extremely unusual events.

"Documents report for instance that strawberries were eaten at Christmas, and the [vineyards] produced leaves, stock and even blossoms in the middle of January, and in Vienna fruit trees were flowering like in May," Luterbacher told New Scientist, adding: "This was really extreme, so maybe it can be compared to today in western and central Europe."

Similar unusual events have also been noticed in this recent warm period. For instance, hazel trees and snowdrops in Germany blossomed a full 30 days earlier than at any time in the last 50 years in spring 2007. And in 2006, horse chestnut trees in Switzerland blossomed twice instead of their usual once. "This is really an exceptionally rare event," says Luterbacher.

Catch the latest

Comics at Taking Stock:

Click on the pic to take you there. (It worked! Thanks, mapaghimagsik!!)

Same old, same old....

God forbid they should actually do something for the good of the planet or out of the goodness of their hearts without making sure that no corporation loses money in the process....

WASHINGTON -- Senate Republicans on Thursday blocked a $32 billion package of tax breaks for renewable energy that would have been financed mostly by new taxes on major oil companies.

Democrats came three votes short of overcoming a threatened GOP filibuster that was keeping the measure from being attached to a broader energy bill. Republican senators argued that the nearly $29 billion in additional taxes on major oil companies would have led to reduced production and higher gasoline prices.

Because of Republican opposition, Democrats needed 60 votes to allow the $32 billion tax package to come up for a vote, but fell short, 57-36. With a number of senators not voting, Democrats could resurrect the measure later, though there was no immediate indication of that.

Ever wonder where your old give-away clothes go?

Try the Dominican Republic:

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Pedernales is home to one cement factory, an aluminum mining operation and a facility whose sole purpose is to sort and burn used clothing from North America.
The poor would scavenge through the clothes, but after one was killed beneath the delivery truck, the soldiers now burn the clothing:

In the past an armed guard accompanied the delivery truck taking unwanted clothing from the Pedernales facility to a dump. Scavengers at the site would collect the garments to sell in shops or to local merchants.

That custom has changed, largely due to the frenzy over potentially valuable clothing in the piles.

Velez said sometimes there's a great find among the clothing heaps, which explains the occasional media image of poor Caribbeans dressed in designer shirts and hats.

It's the quest for those high-quality garments that led to tragedy and even one death among the scavengers.

"There are packs that hold jeans and very valuable stuff ... so people start jumping on the truck as it is moving," recounted Velez.

"One guy got entangled with the tire, and it ran over him and killed him. They have had many accidents like broken legs when the [clothing] packs fall on people."

After the fatal accident, the truckers began routinely setting the clothes on fire to discourage people from attacking the vehicle to scavenge the contents.

In what Velez calls a symbiotic relationship, now the driver and guard will allow the scavengers 10 minutes of sifting, in exchange for manually unloading the sacks of clothes that get stuck in the cargo bay when the truck dumps its load.

Once that time is up, the driver and guard, who work for the clothes sorting facility, set the piles ablaze.

What a waste.

Afterwards they ordered 300 pizzas and sodas......

Firefighters Get High Fighting Marijuana Blaze, Call For Reinforcements

June 22, 2007 5:26 p.m. EST

Jessica Pupovac - AHN

Edinburg, Texas (AHN) - A Texas warehouse storing over a ton of marijuana caught ablaze yesterday. Firefighters arriving on the scene reportedly got stoned, possibly slowing down efforts to quell the fire.

It took over half of the volunteers firefighters from Edinburg's three departments, 1,000 gallons of water and five gallons of chemical suppressant to extinguish the blaze, Fire Chief Shawn Snider told the AP.

He added that despite wearing air packs to prevent them from inhaling toxic fumes, some of the firefighters still got intoxicated and would have been unable to pass a drug test.

The origin of the drugs and the cause of the fire are still under investigation.

Edinburg is located near the Mexican border.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Squirrel discovers its secret plot of world domination

Has been uncovered:

(Via Watertiger at Dependable Renegade)

Just who the hell does he think he is?

Cheney declares himself fourth untouchable branch of government:

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The Office of Vice President Dick Cheney told an agency within the National Archives that for purposes of securing classified information, the Vice President's office is not an 'entity within the executive branch' according to a letter released Thursday by the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.

"The Oversight Committee has learned that over the objections of the National Archives, you exempted the Office of the Vice President from the presidential executive order that establishes a uniform, government-wide system for safeguarding classified national security information," Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA), the Committee's chairman, wrote in a letter to Cheney. "Your decision to exempt your office from the President's order is problematic because it could place national security secrets at risk. It is also hard to understand given the history of security breaches involving officials in your office."

Waxman noted that Cheney's office had declared itself not affected by an executive order amended by President George W. Bush in 2003 regarding classification and declassification of government materials.

Via Sorghum Crow at Sorghum Crow's General Store.

Update: Waxman is on the case!
The Oversight Committee has learned that over the objections of the National Archives, Vice President Cheney exempted his office from the presidential order that establishes government-wide procedures for safeguarding classified national security information. The Vice President asserts that his office is not an “entity within the executive branch.”

As described in a letter from Chairman Waxman to the Vice President, the National Archives protested the Vice President's position in letters written in June 2006 and August 2006. When these letters were ignored, the National Archives wrote to Attorney General Alberto Gonzales in January 2007 to seek a resolution of the impasse. The Vice President's staff responded by seeking to abolish the agency within the Archives that is responsible for implementing the President's executive order.

In his letter to the Vice President, Chairman Waxman writes: "I question both the legality and wisdom of your actions. ... [I]t would appear particularly irresponsible to give an office with your history of security breaches an exemption from the safeguards that apply to all other executive branch officials."


What's My Blog Rated? From Mingle2 - Online Dating

It was that article about the underpants, right?

This rating was determined based on the presence of the following words:

bomb (6x)

sex (5x)

gay (4x)

gun (3x)

crap (2x)

rape (1x)

Irrefutable evidence that Cheney's fingerprints are all over this

What will Dick do if Georgie doesn't bomb Iran?

WASHINGTON - In a development that underlines the tensions between the anti-Iran agenda of the US administration and the preoccupation of its military command in Afghanistan with militant Sunni activism, a State Department official last week publicly accused Iran for the first time of arming Taliban forces, but the US commander of North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) forces in Afghanistan rejected that charge for the second time in less than two weeks.

Under Secretary of State Nicholas Burns declared in Paris on June 12 that Iran is "transferring arms to the Taliban in Afghanistan", putting it in the context of a larger alleged Iranian role of funding "extremists" in the Palestinian territories, Lebanon and Iraq. The following day, he asserted that there was "irrefutable evidence" of such Iranian arms supply to the Taliban.

The use of the phrase "irrefutable evidence" suggested that the Burns statement was scripted by the office of Vice President Dick Cheney. The same phrase had been used by Cheney himself on September 20, 2002, in referring to the administration's accusation that then-Iraqi president Saddam Hussein had a program to enrich uranium as the basis for a nuclear weapon.

But the NATO commander in Afghanistan, General Dan McNeill, pointed to other possible explanations, particularly the link between drug and weapons smuggling between Iran and Afghanistan.

McNeill repeated in an interview with US News and World Report last week a previous statement to Reuters that he did not agree with the charge. McNeill minimized the scope of the arms coming from Iran, saying: "What we've found so far hasn't been militarily significant on the battlefield."

He speculated that the arms could have come from black-market dealers, drug traffickers, or al-Qaeda backers and could have been sold by low-level Iranian military personnel.

McNeill's remarks underlined the US command's knowledge of the link between the heroin trade and trafficking in arms between southeastern Iran and southern Afghanistan. The main entry point for opium and heroin smuggling between Afghanistan and Iran runs through the Iranian province of Sistan-Balochistan to its capital, Zahedan. The two convoys of arms that were intercepted by NATO forces last spring had evidently come through that Iranian province.

'It's a dangerous thing for a democracy to allow major transgressions of the constitutional rule of law to take place.' Jamie Raskin state senator

Thomas Nephew at Newsrack blog:

The Constitution was designed not in such a way that impeachment represented some kind of crisis; people say "you can't do impeachment, because that will cause a constitutional crisis." On the contrary! Impeachment is the tool we use to prevent a constitutional crisis because you've got a President who is drunk on his own power and has run away with the resources of the people.
Raskin also went over the history of impeachment in the U.S.: nine presidents have had articles of impeachment presented against them, with only two (Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton) actually being impeached -- i.e., the process leaving the House and reaching the Senate for trial. Raskin -- having enumerated charges of torture, lawless and warrantless wiretapping, the Iraq war, and criminal negligence in connection with Katrina and its aftermath, commented:
Some people's objections are "how can you say that anything impeachable has been going on?" And there we're just dealing with, you know, parallel universes... Nothing that anybody has ever been impeached for comes remotely close to the things that President Bush and Dick Cheney and this administration have done. Nothing even close.
Raskin made some of his most interesting points in rebutting the notion -- I'm paraphrasing here -- "Why not just wait for the presidential elections? Let's not mess up our chances in '08." Raskin: It's a dangerous thing for a democracy to allow major transgressions of the constitutional rule of law to take place.

You know, conservatives love this theory of crime called the "broken windows" theory, which James Wilson wrote about. The idea is there are small offenses like graffiti, or somebody breaks a window -- you've got to bring the full force of the law down very quickly because if you leave the graffiti up or the broken windows up, then that leads to people hopping the turnstile, shoplifting, armed robbery, and drug dealing and so on. And you know I think there's something to that, but surely we can apply the "broken windows" theory to the presidency of the United States.

What Bush and Cheney have been waiting for

Is about to come to fruition:

A draft oil law has been submitted to Iraq's parliament after the government and the Iraqi Kurdistan regional authority resolved differences on the sharing of the country's oil reserves, officials have said.

A spokesman for Iraq's oil minister said he expected politicians to begin debating the draft law in the next few days.

"A deal has been reached and the draft has been delivered to parliament to be discussed... in the coming days. An agreement has been reached covering all disputes," Asim Jihad said.

An official in the Kurdish regional government said an agreement had been made, but did not give further details.


The draft oil law is crucial in regulating how wealth from Iraq's huge oil reserves will be distributed between sectarian and ethnic groups.

Dividing up the loot....

Dave Barry running for president

At least his speeches would be funny and coherent.

Q Dave, when you are on the final presidential campaign debate and you are debating up against Hillary, would you have a problem with hitting a lady?

Bethie, Longview, tx 6/20/07

A I would never physically strike any debate opponent. I would not, however, rule out water balloons.

Dave Barry 6/21/07

Oh, and by the way, Nader's thinking of running again:
Ralph Nader, the independent candidate blamed by many Americans for George Bush's election victory in 2000, says he is considering a run for the White House next year - even at the risk of dishing the Democrats again.

The left-of-centre Mr Nader, who made his name as a consumer rights campaigner, won only 2.74% of the national popular vote seven years ago. But his 97,448 tally in Florida is widely believed to have thwarted Democrat Al Gore, who lost the state - and the presidency - to Mr Bush by 537 votes.

We haven't forgotten, Ralph.

Exploring the deep

Finding out about our oceans before we boil them to death:

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(pic taken from article)

Scientists have begun the first detailed exploration of a vast underwater valley the size of the Grand Canyon - just off the coast of Portugal - and it has yielded a series of surprises.

Using Britain's ISIS robot submarine - a van-sized bundle of high-technology - researchers are for the first time able to view previously hidden features up to 5km (three miles) deep in the Nazare Canyon.

The canyon extends out into the eastern Atlantic from the seaside town of Nazare, north of Lisbon - long plotted on maps but until now never properly studied.


For Professor Paul Tyler, a marine biologist, the expedition is a chance to establish a baseline of data about this undersea world - so the effects of climate change can be assessed.
"We've seen signs of change at the surface and in other parts of the deep ocean at 5,000m; so we need to see what's changing here.
"There is nowhere on the planet that is immune from climate change."

As I have posted before, we're seeing a lot of deep sea creatures recently.

Earth-shaking disagreements

Which could lead to hand to hand combat if people aren't careful:

A vibrating condom has sparked a fierce debate in India, over whether it is a sex toy - which are banned - or a means of birth control.

The controversial condom has caused outrage in the state of Madhya Pradesh, because a government-owned company is involved in marketing it.

The pack of three condoms, branded as Crezendo, contains a battery-operated ring-like device.

Critics say it is in fact a vibrator, and should therefore be banned.

Sex toys and pornography are illegal in India.

And politicians expel enough hot air to drive it just by talking...

The world's first commercial compressed air-powered vehicle is rolling towards the production line. The Air Car, developed by ex-Formula One engineer Guy Nègre, will be built by India's largest automaker, Tata Motors.
The Air Car uses compressed air to push its engine's pistons. It is anticipated that approximately 6000 Air Cars will be cruising the streets of India by 2008. If the manufacturers have no surprises up their exhaust pipes the car will be practical and reasonably priced. The CityCat model will clock out at 68 mph with a driving range of 125 miles.

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I blogged about such a car earlier:

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The MiniC.A.T is a simple, light urban car, with a tubular chassis that is glued not welded and a body of fibreglass. The heart of the electronic and communication system on the car is a computer offering an array of information reports that extends well beyond the speed of the vehicle, and is built to integrate with external systems and almost anything you could dream of, starting with voice recognition, internet connectivity, GSM telephone connectivity, a GPS guidance system, fleet management systems, emergency systems, and of course every form of digital entertainment. The engine is fascinating, as is and the revolutionary electrical system that uses just one cable and so is the vehicle’s wireless control system. Microcontrollers are used in every device in the car, so one tiny radio transmitter sends instructions to the lights, indicators etc.
So? Where are they? I want two, one for each foot....

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Just say no

No no no nono.....
Bush and his advisers have chosen to define his remaining year and a half of his presidency as "saying no" to the Democrats, and to the American people. (And in fact, the Republicans on the Hill have done the same - they consistently filibuster everything.) They have no plan for the nation, they have no vision for the future. Rather than figure out a new course for the country, Bush and the GOP will simply say "no" until his time runs out.
Republicans can't, won't, will not govern. Why vote someone into government who wants to destroy it?

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Our preznit speaks

Or at least attempts to:
We want people to see there's -- in isolation there's got a consequence to it, that there's a price that's paid for this kind of intransigence and these threatening tones.
Blessings upon Holden's mental health as he staggers through the miasmic cloud of Georgie's speechifying to find these gems....

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Am ah makin' mahself clear?

Seasoned to perfection

The top ten.

Ruining Iraq's future

One child at a time. Via Cookie Jill at skippy the bush kangaroo:
in 2002, a united nations emergency preparedness report estimated that roughly 1.26 million iraqi children would die in the event of a conflict there. just how many children have died as the result of the war in iraq is unclear, but what of the ones who live? what sort of life, if any at all, awaits them?

according to dr. abdul kareem al obaidi, who is the chairman of the iraqi association for child mental health, iraqi kids are suffering serious psychological and behavioral problems (depression, post-traumatic stress, anxiety, substance abuse, high rates of truancy, etc.) that weren't common in iraq's roughly 16 million children prior to the war.

....what can be salvaged for those children is uncertain. but while we're liberating their country and spreading democracy there, perhaps we should give some thought as to what sort of future we're mapping out for iraq by leaving its people with a population of damaged children who will one day become broken, angry adults with clear memories of how they came to be so.
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Greenland is melting

Time to sell your coastline property...
Greenland has long been seen as an important canary in the coalmine when it comes to global warming. As the Earth's climate heats up, the ice sheet which covers the mega-island melts faster and faster. Already, according to scientists measuring the glacier's melting rates, Greenland sheds enough ice every day to supply New York City with water -- 30 times over.

But according to a new report in the scientific journal Current Biology, melt-water isn't the only clue Greenland provides the world when it comes to climate change. Scientists from Denmark's National Environmental Research Institute, affiliated with the University of Aarhus, have found that spring in Greenland now starts much earlier than it did just a decade ago with some plant, animal and insect species welcoming the warm season up to 30 days prematurely.

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That's a lot of ice....

Flying while high?

Um... shouldn't this on the to do list?

Toxic fumes on planes are poisoning pilots and rendering them unable to fly safely, say pilots, who are campaigning for "aerotoxic syndrome" to be recognised as a disease.

Two official investigations are being opened after concerns that highly toxic oil contaminants are leaking into cabin air supply on commercial airliners in flight. The UK government is to fit air-monitoring equipment on board aircraft amid increasing concerns that passengers, pilots and cabin crew are being exposed. And 1500 pilots will take part in the first major health study designed to establish the extent of the problem.

"We're basically the canaries – getting knocked down by the fumes first," says Susan Michaelis, a former pilot who believes she was poisoned by fumes from leaked engine oil while flying. She and other grounded pilots launched a campaign for the condition to be recognised, at a meeting at the UK's Houses of Parliament on 18 June.

Compressed air is routinely drawn off engines and supplied to aircraft cabins. If the seal inside the engine is not secure, engine oil can leak into the cabin and contaminating air with toxic tricresyl phosphate (TCP), says Michaelis.

A prediction for this summer

Anyone keeping score?

Countries around the Mediterranean are set to suffer up to five times as many dangerously hot summer days if greenhouse gas emissions continue their relentless rise, say researchers.

France will see the greatest increase in extreme summer temperatures, they predict.

Noah Diffenbaugh at Purdue University, US, and colleagues used a climate model for the Mediterranean region, which was so precise that they were able to resolve regional changes in temperature for every 20 square kilometres.

The model calculated an overall increase in temperature and also an increase in number of extremely hot days. Of all the Mediterranean countries, France will experience the greatest increase in extremely hot temperatures – in some French regions, summer days will be 8°C hotter than they were between 1961 and 1989.

Dangerously hot

But the thin strip of coast around the Med will see the largest increase in the number of dangerously hot days – up to 40 more days per year along the coastlines of Spain, Egypt and Libya.

The article finishes by reminding us:

...what makes the Mediterranean region so sensitive to climate change is a "surface moisture feedback": as temperatures rise, the landmass not only gets hotter, it gets drier too. "This means there is less evaporative cooling," explains Diffenbach.

The 2003 heatwave is thought to have killed 35,000 people across Europe, nearly 15,000 of which were in France.

Update 6/21:
ATHENS, Greece, June 21 Sweltering weather blanketed much of southeastern Europe Thursday, bringing a deadly storm to Vienna and power problems in Greece.


In Athens, temperatures were expected to hit 110 degrees by the weekend, Ekathimerini reported. The Public Power Corporation Wednesday asked Athens residents to shut off air conditioners and refrain from cooking to save energy.

A "yellow code," signifying dangerous heat, remained in effect in Bucharest and southwestern Romania, reported. Daytime temperatures were around 100 degrees. Authorities set up tents to provide emergency first aid in many cities in the region.

A severe drought has also hit Romania, with the government declaring the southwest a disaster area.

In Athens, a meteorologist told Ekathimerini that city residents should try to get out into the suburbs if they can. Matthaios Santamouris of Athens University said temperatures are likely to be 15 degrees lower away from the city.


Via Chet at Vanity Press, Digby speaks:

And what a call to arms!

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Damned gnomes!

SYDNEY, June 19 Australian customs officials discovered seven snakes and eight lizards hidden in ceramic garden gnomes shipped from England.

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Update 6/20: Tengrain at Mock, Paper, Scissors has the pics. Gahhhh!

Checkup on our friends in the Middle East and Asia


May 28, 2007 (RFE/RL) -- A new annual report on China's arms development, issued by the U.S. Defense Department, says China is progressing with the development of long-range weapons that include guided missiles and new nuclear submarines.
The Pentagon's report suggests the nature of China's armed forces is changing rapidly away from local self-defense toward strategic capabilities.

Beijing rejects criticism that the modernization is aimed at increasing China's weight across the region, and says the impressive array of weaponry is purely for defensive purposes.


ISLAMABAD, Pakistan, June 19 Hundreds of police from Pakistan's Punjab province went on a rampage against their Islamabad counterparts Tuesday to protest the death of a fellow officer.

About 1,000 Punjabis had been brought to the capital last week as reinforcements for a crackdown on radical militant clerics demanding the imposition of Islamic Sharia law and their madrassa school students, the Press Trust of India reported.

During the operations, a Punjabi officer was injured and later died, and his fellow officers claim the Islamabad police force did nothing to help him, the report said.

Several hundred of the 1,000 visiting officers went on a rampage, throwing stones and burning tires, and some chanted slogans from the madrassas they had come to raid, PTI said. Several Islamabad police officers were also beaten in the protest.

I'm sure Pervez Musharaf is on it:

Pakistan might be in the midst of its first televised revolution. For nearly three months, a handful of fledgling independent stations have been broadcasting minute-by-minute coverage of what at first seemed a relatively obscure issue: the suspension of Pakistan's chief judge by the president, Gen. Pervez Musharraf.

Since then, Pakistanis nationwide have been transfixed by live coverage of police beating lawyers, pro-Musharraf groups firing assault rifles at demonstrators and the chief justice speaking to ever-larger and more boisterous audiences about the dangers of autocratic rule.

As the cameras have rolled, opposition to Musharraf has surged, and he is considered more vulnerable now than at any time in his eight years in office. Even in rural areas where poverty is high, residents have gathered in hotels and barbershops around the few television sets available and watched the brewing crisis play out live.

Well... Musharraf has his hands full, how about Turkey?:

In Turkey, the military and the government are engaged in an all-out struggle for power. The country is deeply divided, and decidedly unstable. Turkish writer Ahmet Altan describes his country's paradoxes and warns of the potentially dire consequences.

This writer ends up warning us:
If there is a coup in Turkey, the world would encounter a phenomenon it has never seen before. Subsequent to a coup, Turkey would seek a partnership with Russia and Iran and would obtain its weapons, energy and funding from these two countries. The natural gas, oil and nuclear power from Russia and Iran would suffice to keep Turkey on its feet, if only for a while.

But a block made up of Russia, Turkey and Iran could change the global balance. It would take complete control of the Middle East. It would imprison Europe within the borders of its small continent. It would draw the Caucasus, Afghanistan, and Pakistan under its sway. It would form close relations with the Muslim world. It would dominate the sources of oil. It would also likely form a partnership with China.

This is the divide between the secular and the religious factions of the country. We can still count on them to help us with Iraq, right?
WASHINGTON, June 19 (UPI) -- U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice told her Iraqi counterpart his government needed to clamp down on Kurdish rebels who are attacking Turkey.

In the meeting Monday between Rice and Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari in Washington, Rice said she discussed the escalating situation in northern Iraq that has led Turkey to mass troops along the border.

"We discussed the importance of the trilateral security mechanism that Iraq, the United States and Turkey instituted some time ago, and the importance of accelerating the work of the mechanism, because the Iraqis do not want -- and we do not want -- their territory to be used for terrorist acts against their neighbor," Rice said.

A militant Kurdish group known as the PKK wants autonomy for Kurds in northern Iraq and southeastern Turkey. The group has been mounting increased attacks on Turkish military targets and engaged troops in firefights, Voice of America said.

Well.... that won't happen, right? On to Afhanistan:

KABUL (Reuters) - A Taliban bomber blew up a police bus in the heart of Kabul on Sunday, killing 24 people in one of the deadliest suicide strikes to hit Afghanistan since the Taliban were ousted in 2001.

The blast tore apart the bus, wounding dozens of bystanders, wrecking several other vehicles and scattering body parts. It was the fifth suicide attack in three days in the country, suggesting an escalation in use of the tactic.


"It was a very, very successful suicide attack," a Taliban commander, Mullah Hayatullah Khan, told Reuters by satellite phone. "We have plans for more successful attacks in future."

The Taliban and their al Qaeda allies have adopted the tactics of Iraq's insurgency to try to dispel the notion that government and foreign forces are in control of the country.

Er...quick! Uzbekistan:
...the overall stability of the country is at a high level. Despite the latent discontent with the economic situation, the country is set to remain on a stable course. The Uzbek government will most probably continue its tough stance on human rights activists, notwithstanding western pressure. On the international scene, the diversification of relations, especially towards Asia and countries of the Middle East, can be expected to continue. It remains to be seen how far the mentioned disagreements with Russia will harm bilateral relations.
So the farmers are unhappy and they're pissed at the Russians. They don't like us much either. Oh well, next! How about Kyrgyzstan? I mean Kazakhstan:

ALMATY (Reuters) - President Nursultan Nazarbayev has styled himself a firm but modern Khan in his 17 years in power in Kazakhstan, but critics say his authoritarian rule brooks no opposition and borders on a personality cult.

Showing a firm resolve to stay in control, the 66-year-old former steelworker signed constitutional amendments on May 22 that allow him to stay in office for life.

His opponents, some at home, some in exile, accuse him of usurping power, backtracking on democracy and appointing allies and family members to key positions.

But the leader of this major oil-producing nation on the Caspian Sea has insisted that Kazakhstan has its own vision of development, which differs from that of the West.

"We should not ... run after every foreign recommendation," Nazarbayev said at the end of last year. "We should not blindly copy foreign schemes."

Foreign schemes? I think they're on to us. It seems there may be some trouble with the oil workers there too:
...while the tension between Kazakh workers and foreign sub-contractors in the region has yet to be exploited by the nascent political class in Kazakhstan, it is a populist issue that could benefit various political forces in the country, especially in the context of the country’s quiet intra-elite competition for the right to take over the reigns once President Nazarbayev steps down. If such political forces begin to look to workers in western Kazakhstan for support, that could spell even more troubles for the various foreign oil companies active in the west of the country.
How weird. A country thinking they might get to keep their own oil resources... and there does seem to be some current trouble with the rulers going on...

How are we with Kyrgyzstan?:

With Kyrgyzstan’s most powerful political actors speaking in favor of Russia, public anger against the U.S. presence in Kyrgyzstan is likely to resume soon. Today, only a few Kyrgyz public figures dare to look at the U.S. military base as a positive development in the country. Most consider Russia to be Bishkek’s key economic and political partner. However, few Kyrgyz realize that the economic influence of China and Kazakhstan is soaring and at time exceeds that of Russia’s.

They like Russia, may like China even more, and everybody way more than the U.S.? Hmmm. So, what about Tadzhikistan ... I mean Tajikistan? Looks like really good bridges are being built there. That should make them happy:

Several years ago Aga Khan Development Network initiated construction of three bridges across Panj River. One was built in Tem district in Khorog - replacing the old ferry, the other was built in Darwaz and the last was built in Ishkashim - replacing the old one built during the Soviet-Afghan war. All three bridges were constructed with the same purpose as the one constructed in Nizhni Pyanj – at smaller scale promotion of trade and commerce between Tajikistan and Afghanistan and at larger scale promotion of regional integration.

No matter how good these bridges are in economic terms, it seems that the government of Tajikistan is not passionate to use them at full capacity. There is a serious concern that bridges will increase not only trade but also the inflow of narcotics. Yesterday, president Emomali Rahmon blamed NATO and US in not struggling against the production of narcotics in Afghanistan. According to Rahmon every time he tried to tell the representatives of NATO and US about his concerns, they always said in response that struggle against narcotics is not part of their mission in Afghanistan.

They seem to be having a bit of a problem, too:
On Saturday all the world information agencies reported on explosions in Dushanbe outside Tajikistan’s Supreme Court, which is located in the protected area. The explosions did not injure anyone but smashed the windows of the nearby buildings. It was probably the third fact in the series of explosions near the administrative buildings which took place in Dushanbe in last three years.

Were Turkmenistan not home to one of the world's largest reserves of oil and gas and one of modern history's most peculiar former dictators, a presidential election ( would probably pass unnoticed (NYT), like the proverbial tree falling in the wood. But energy analysts say political change in this oil-rich country along the Caspian Sea has important foreign policy ramifications for the United States, Russia, and others in the region. Saparmurat Niyazov, Turkmenistan's previous president, ruled with a Stalin-like iron fist to sustain his personality cult: He erected ornate ice palaces in his honor and renamed the month of January (Atlantic) after himself. But his successor, Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov, is no democrat either. A former dentist and deputy prime minister, he has called democracy a “tender substance” that cannot be imported (RFE/RL) from outside and has promised to keep Turkmenistan on the path set out by his predecessor. In fifteen years of independence, he boasts, Turkmenistan, unlike most of its post-Soviet neighbors, has experienced “no economic or political shocks."

The tradeoff of such relative stability, however, has been a repressive police state with little regard for human rights or religious freedoms (AP). Political opponents and independent journalists are routinely harassed or jailed. Turkmenistan annually ranks near the bottom of Transparency International's corruption index. And Freedom House has slammed the country for restricting social freedoms, such as banning long hair or beards for men.

Why should we care whether these countries rise or fall? They are far away and don't involve us, right?

Wrong. Get to know these names. These are the countries in the center of the world power struggle and oil grab between China, Russia, and the United States.

These lands are where the next wars will be.

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Torture is favored by those who are physical cowards

And doubt their self-worth. They think humiliating and degrading others makes them look strong.
“Eight months after President Bush signed a bill authorizing the CIA to resume using ‘enhanced interrogation techniques’ on terrorism suspects, the administration has been unable to agree on what constitutes ‘humiliating and degrading treatment‘ of detainees.”
Need I say more?

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Some say arming Sunni insurgents is a shitty idea

But these guys must be the same guys who said invading Iraq was a really stupid idea so why should we listen to them?

WASHINGTON — A U.S. program to combat al-Qaida in Iraq by arming Sunni Muslims undercuts the Iraqi government and years of U.S. policy, and is a tacit acknowledgment that the country's violence is really a civil war, some U.S. military officials in Washington and foreign policy experts say.

The program, which Bush administration officials have hailed as a sign of progress in Iraq, has sparked heated debate among military and foreign policy analysts. It is opposed by the Iraqi government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.

Supporters see it as a welcomed change in the American approach in Iraq, one whose benefits have been obvious in the drop in violence in Iraq's Anbar province, where al-Qaida formerly held sway. They say it could give impetus to the Shiites and Kurds to make political concessions.

But others contend the program has long-term repercussions that can only be guessed at now. By giving weapons and training to Sunnis in Anbar and Baghdad who've been previously associated with Sunni insurgent groups, the program endorses unofficial armed groups over official Iraqi forces as guarantors of Iraqi security, military officers who oppose the program say.

Those officers also say it abandons the long-stated U.S. goal of disarming militias and reinforces the idea that U.S.-trained Iraqi forces cannot control their country.

At the Pentagon, at least six officers who served in Iraq shook their heads when asked about the idea of arming the Sunnis. They said they had little faith in a Sunni community that was aggressively killing their comrades just months ago.

The enemy of our enemy is just another enemy who wants to shoot our asses right out of Iraq. Welcome to the quagmire.

Divorce, adultery, joblessness

Are the threats to marriage, not homosexual unions. Via whig at Cannablog:

Equality for all.


(shared by Ellroon's son)

Monday, June 18, 2007


No, not a To-the-Death match between Ted Kennedy and Karl Rove (wouldn't that be a sight?), but deliberate voter suppression. New word, age old application. Use it knowledgeably, use it often along with the word Republican.

Part of the letter to Abu Gonzales from Ted Kennedy and Sheldon Whitehouse:

Caging is a voter suppression tactic whereby a political campaign sends mail marked “do not forward” to a targeted group of eligible voters. A more aggressive version involves sending mail to a targeted group of voters with instructions to sign and return an acknowledgment card. The campaign then creates a list of those whose mail was returned undelivered and challenges the right of those citizens to vote — on the ground that the voter does not live at the registered address. There are many reasons why registered mail might be “returned to sender” that have nothing to do with a voter’s eligibility. A voter might be an active member of the armed forces and stationed far from home, or a student registered at his parents’ address. Even a typographical error during entry of the voter’s registration information might result in an address that appears invalid.

The Republican Party has a long and ignominious record of caging — much of it focused on the African American community. For example, in 1981 the RNC sent a mass mailing into predominantly African American neighborhoods in New Jersey and used the resulting 45,000 letters marked “undeliverable” to challenge those voters’ eligibility. In 1986, the RNC used similar tactics in an effort to disenfranchise roughly 31,000 voters, most of them African American, in Louisiana. These tactics led to litigation and the RNC’s eventual signing of two consent decrees, still in effect, which bar the RNC from using “ballot security” programs ostensibly intended to prevent voter fraud as a tactic to target minority voters.

In 2004, however, allegations of caging by Republican officials arose again — this time over an effort to suppress votes in Florida. Emails sent in August 2004 by Tim Griffin, then Research Director and Deputy Communications Director of the RNC, demonstrate his knowledge and approval of a spreadsheet listing caged voters in predominantly African American neighborhoods in Jacksonville, Florida. (See attached.) Two years later, Mr. Griffin was appointed, without Senate confirmation, as United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Arkansas. Such actions appear plainly to violate the consent decrees signed by the RNC in 1981 and 1986. We ask that you investigate whether in these circumstances Mr. Griffin or others may also have violated the Voting Rights Act, the National Voter Registration Act, the mail fraud statute, or any other federal statute.

It also appears that high-ranking officials in the Department knew of Mr. Griffin’s involvement in caging. Monica Goodling recently testified to the House Judiciary Committee that she discussed concerns about Mr. Griffin’s involvement in caging with Deputy Attorney General Paul McNulty during a session to prepare for Mr. McNulty’s Congressional testimony. It is very disturbing to think that Department officials may have approved the appointment of a United States Attorney knowing that he had engaged in racially targeted vote caging.

Moreover, it is very disturbing to think that senior officials were aware of this practice and did nothing to refer their information to relevant officials within the Department for investigation and a determination as to whether it was a violation of a consent decree or law within the Department’s jurisdiction to enforce.

Republicans do well when people don't vote. So the more they can keep from the polls the better. What an American thing to do.

P.S. Karl really shouldn't wear black....
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Lift the ban

Think Progress:
Robert Greendwald’s Brave New Films has released a new video at documenting how the U.S. military’s ban on openly gay servicemembers has compromised our national security by worsening our shortage of Arabic linguists.
During my tinfoil hat times I've wondered if firing all the gay Arabic speakers and translators was intentional, if confusion and distrust is what they really wanted in the end....

But the military and the Pentagon wouldn't do that, would they?

Make them prove it. Lift the ban. Hire them back.

Because it is the most incredibly intelligent thing to do.

The Rovian justice system

Toxic from the top down:
Christy Hardy Smith at Firedoglake on what it does to integrity, honesty, and the prosecutors:

As a prosecutor, the most valuable asset that you have in the courtroom and out of it is your reputation for honesty and integrity, and for upholding the rule of law in a fair and just manner. The Bush Administration tossed that aside for each and every decent attorney working in USAtty offices across this nation in a bid to gain some temporary political advantage is a craven example of how low a regard the Bushies have for any sort of standard of ethics. And how much emphasis they placed on loyalty to Bush Administration aims above all else, including to the nation as a whole.

Everything is subordinate to Rove’s math. Everything.

So every time you walk into a courtroom, you will want to ask: Was this judge, attorney general, lawyer hired by George W. Bush? Did (s)he keep her/his job during the Great Purge? What was done to do to keep it?

The 140,216 emails gap

Worser than Watergate, Georgie:
House investigators have learned that the Bush administration’s use of Republican National Committee email accounts is far greater than previously disclosed — 140,216 emails sent or received by Karl Rove alone — and that the RNC has overseen “extensive destruction” of many of the emails, including all email records for 51 White House officials.

For the last several months, the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee has been “investigating whether White House officials violated the Presidential Records Act” by using email accounts maintained by the RNC and the Bush-Cheney ‘04 campaign for official White House communications. Today’s findings confirm that the accounts were used “for official purposes, such as communicating with federal agencies about federal appointments and policies.” The report adds:

Given the heavy reliance by White House officials on RNC e-mail accounts, the high rank of the White House officials involved, and the large quantity of missing e-mails, the potential violation of the Presidential Records Act may be extensive.

So. What are we going to do about this? Anyone?

Update: TAH DAH!! Waxman's on the job:

Of the 88 officials using RNC accounts, the RNC has deleted records for 51 users. Still, the committee found heavy use of the account by some high-ranking officials. For instance, the RNC tracked down 140,000 messages sent to or received by Karl Rove. Half of those were addressed to or from an official ".gov" address. The White House Director of Political Affairs Sara Taylor sent 66,018 emails and Deputy Director of Political Affairs Scott Jennings sent 35,198 emails, according to RNC records.

Waxman's committee is investigating whether RNC email addresses were used for official work to avoid a record required by official email addresses and to what extent those acts violate the Presidential Records Act. Democrats were tipped off to the use of the off the record email system from emails revealed during the Jack Abramoff and U.S. Attorney firings investigations. Waxman has asked 25 federal agencies to scour their records for email that has been lost by the White House and the RNC.

Investigators now plan to pursue Alberto Gonzales' actions while White House counsel. The early report shows Gonzales likely knew Rove was using RNC accounts for official work, but that Gonzales did not intervene to keep records of those messages.