Friday, June 27, 2008

They are not gay, they never have been gay

And they don't wear diapers to get off...


Look who is moralizing from Capitol Hill:
Two United States Senators implicated in extramarital sexual activity have named themselves as co-sponsors of S. J. RES. 43, dubbed the Marriage Protection Amendment. If ratified, the bill would amend the United States Constitution to state that marriage “shall consist only of the union of a man and a woman.” Sen. Larry Craig (R-ID), who was arrested June 11, 2007 on charges of lewd conduct in a Minneapolis airport terminal, is co-sponsoring the amendment along with Sen. David Vitter (R-LA).
Diaper Dave!


And Stallin' Craig!


THIS should finally fix the Family Values Party!

Going backwards into the Dark Ages

Where women are either pure and virginal, or sluts and should never be allowed to control their own bodies.... like this 11 year old Romanian girl who was raped and impregnated by her uncle. And doing God's work means this: Polish anti-abortionists get a 14 year old rape victim taken away from her mother.

What will come if abortion is ever outlawed. Making the medical procedure unavailable will not stop desperate women. There will just be more deaths. Which is apparently what many 'right-to-lifers' want. Shame, shunning, the scarlet letter, and baby as punishment.

These people are even working on trying to stop birth control and any other contraceptives, arguing that the pill kills babies (which it doesn't). So no sex education, no sex outside of marriage, no sex without babies, no birth control pills, no condoms, no abortions, no day care, no welfare.... no sex education....


Update 6/28: Mapaghimagsik has an excellent cartoon that fits this post! Click to go to her portfolio.


Friday Hoping

Phila of Bouphonia reminds us there are those who work for humanity instead of against it.


Except for certain cats...

We can thank the car companies for the oil fix we're in


Look at the background of this cute Norwegian car called a Think: (my bold)
Think's journey to the world market has been similarly full of detours. The company (previously called Pivco) began in 1991 and by 1998 had built more than 1,000 small and charismatic electric runabouts, sold mostly in Norway (where you still see a few on the road). Then, in 1999, the company was bought by the Yankee giant Ford Motor Co., which was scrambling at the time to comply with California's Zero Emission Vehicle mandate, essentially requiring automakers to build fleets of electric vehicles. Ford renamed the company Think Nordic and began a complete redesign of the car. When, in 2003, the American automakers succeeded in modifying California's mandate, Detroit's flirtation with electronic vehicles ended. General Motors Corp. famously killed the EV1 program, and Ford sold Think to a Swiss electronics firm.

"The lawyers stopped us," says Ole Fretheim, the factory's manager. Think went bankrupt in 2006.

The irony is that Ford had already poured $150 million into the Think City project, engineering among other things the car's rigid steel space frame, the crash structure. If and when it comes to the U.S. market -- the company opened an office in Menlo Park, Calif., earlier this year with plans to sell cars stateside in 2009 -- the Think City will be a rarity: A full-speed electric car meeting U.S. and European crash standards.

"The car was 95% complete when Ford stopped development in 2002," says Fretheim. In the long run, he says, the down time might have been a good thing. "When we started work again we had better options for batteries."
95% complete. We almost were there and the automakers tubed it. Why? Why? Why?

In response, here are five electric cars you can buy right now. (link via NTodd at Dohiyi Mir)

Knock on wood!

McCain is weirdly superstitious to the point of changing the campaign headquarter's elevator's number 13 to M.

So who gets to tell him our flag has ... THIRTEEN stripes?


Can we tell him it would be really really bad luck to bomb iran?

Thursday, June 26, 2008

It goes without saying....


It's not always about you, George.


Early estimates suggest that the extent of the cleanup will be unlike anything some of the flooded cities have experienced. And some of what the water left behind is toxic, experts said, possibly tinged with raw sewage or chemical runoff from agriculture.

In Cedar Rapids alone, it is estimated that the 4,200 flooded houses are producing about a ton of debris each, mostly heavy appliances, electronics and furniture. Beyond that, businesses, schools, hospitals, churches and government offices are flooded, bringing the city’s total flood-related garbage load to about 300,000 tons, officials estimated.

A typical garbage truck can handle about four tons of trash.

“We’re looking at 10 to 15 times as much garbage as we’ve ever dealt with, so this is huge,” said Mark Jones, the superintendent of the city’s solid waste and recycling division. Backup trucks are arriving from across the state. “As you could see, it would take us forever to do this,” he said.
Lives destroyed by flooding occurs in the ocean as well:
Des Moines, IA (AHN) - The marine dead zone resulting from the Midwest flooding is expected to expand to over 10,000 square miles, according to researchers from the Louisiana State University and the Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium.

The water in the dead zone, approximately the size of Massachusetts, does not have sufficient oxygen at depth to support marine life. Since 1990, the zone, located off the coasts of Louisiana and Texas, usually covers 6,000 square miles, varying according to the flow of the Mississippi River.

Take a look at the army we have, Mr. Rumsfeld

And the war you wanted.
Washington, D.C. (AHN) - The Defense Department's repair bill for dilapidated and destroyed equipment, weapons and vehicle is expected to exceed $100 billion this year. But if it settles the behemoth bill, the military may place in peril its plans to increase the size of the nation's armed forces.

Rep. John Murtha, chairman of the House panel that oversees defense spending, blamed the rush to upgrade the military's equipment and facilities to the failure of Pentagon to plan for a long and costly Iraq war. The Defense Department wants to bolster the size of the military with 92,000 new soldiers and Marines.

To pay the $100 billion plus military repair bill, Pentagon has no choice except to cut on its personnel budget, Murtha said.
The Bush administration's war of choice. Their quagmire. Their blunder. Bush's legacy.


Proving that politicians are politicians the nation over

In both parties, on both sides of the aisle:
(The Politico) House Democrats who flipped their votes to support retroactive immunity for telecom companies in last week’s FISA bill took thousands of dollars more from phone companies than Democrats who consistently voted against legislation with an immunity provision, according to an analysis by

In March, the House passed an amendment that rejected retroactive immunity. But last week, 94 Democrats who supported the March amendment voted to support the compromise FISA legislation, which includes a provision that could let telecom companies that cooperated with the government’s warrantless electronic surveillance off the hook.

The 94 Democrats who changed their positions received on average $8,359 in contributions from Verizon, AT&T and Sprint from January, 2005, to March, 2008, according to the analysis by MAPLight, a nonpartisan organization that tracks the connection between campaign contributions and legislative outcomes.

Retroactive immunity could squash about 40 lawsuits pending against telecommunication companies that helped the government monitor the telecommunications traffic of Americans without warrants. The telecom industry has lobbied hard to insure that the provision is included in the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act update Congress is currently considering.
And here's a list.

Excellent overview of FISA

Part one, part two and part three excellently well explained by David Kris for Balkinization.

Facts and myths.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Another excellent PR move by Blackwater

Camden County Sheriff Tony Perry defended his department on Monday in the wake of allegations that Blackwater Worldwide consummated an arms deal with it that skirts federal firearms laws.

The Moyock-based private security contractor has been able to keep 17 AK-47s at its armory under a deal that sidesteps federal laws prohibiting private parties from buying automatic weapons, The News & Observer of Raleigh reported Sunday. The newspaper found that Blackwater purchased 17 Romanian AK-47s and 17 Bushmasters — and then gave ownership of the guns to the Camden County sheriff.

Camden is not using the AK-47s, but Blackwater is allowing people to train with them at their Moyock firing range.

In the summer of 2005, Blackwater CEO Gary Jackson signed two agreements with Maj. Jon Worthington of the Camden Sheriff's Office.

Worthington has worked as a firearms instructor for Blackwater.

"Blackwater has financed the purchase of 17 Romanian AK-47 rifles for the Camden County Sheriff's Office for use by Sheriff's Office," the agreement says. "The Camden County Sheriff's Office will have unlimited access to these rifles for training and qualification, and state of emergency use." Camden Sheriff Perry said Monday that his department initially was interested in possibly using both of the automatic weapons for its new SWAT team. But the sheriff's department later settled on only using only the Bushmaster XM15 E2S automatic rifles after deputies tried out the AK-47s on the Blackwater range and didn't like them for SWAT-team use.

Blackwater CEO Gary Jackson and company owner Erik Prince told the News & Observer that the Moyock-based company has used the weapons in training for police officers and military members to familiarize them with the gun if they encounter it while making an arrest or on a battlefield.
And more:
The AK-47 would be a poor choice of weapon for a SWAT team, said John Gnagey, executive director of the National Tactical Officers Association, the national organization of SWAT officers.

As a combat weapon, the AK-47 is too large and powerful for SWAT teams, Gnagey said. It is rugged but relatively inaccurate.

"And there's the perception problem," Gnagey said. "Every terrorist attacking the U.S. is armed with AK-47s. "

Most SWAT teams use the H&K MP5 submachine gun or the Bushmaster M4, he said.

Under federal law, only government agencies - military or law enforcement - are allowed to acquire and possess automatic weapons. There is an exception for automatic weapons purchased before May 1986, when the law went into effect.

Firearms dealers are allowed, under strict conditions, to acquire an automatic weapon if they need to demonstrate the weapon to a police department or other government agency interested in buying the weapon.

Under federal law, it is illegal for a person to receive or possess an automatic weapon that is not registered to that person in the National Firearms Registration and Transfer Record. The 34 weapons are registered to the Camden County sheriff. Seventeen AK-47s and five Bushmasters are stored and used at Blackwater. The other 12 Bushmasters are assigned to Camden County deputies, the sheriff said.
Why does this not make me feel safer?

Update 7/10: Interesting. John Gnagey, executive director of the National Tactical Officers Association shows up in connection with a shooting of an unarmed doctor.

Monday, June 23, 2008

The proper way to take a poll

Study: Most Children Strongly Opposed To Children�s Healthcare

Damn those uppity women!

Get back there and clean his socks!:
Rome, Italy (AHN) - An Italian man was arrested after police said he kidnapped his ex-girlfriend from a pub and took her home, forcing her to wash the dishes and iron clothes.

Police said the man dragged the woman out of a pub in Genoa, shoved her into a car and took her home where he threatened her if she didn't do his dishes and ironing.
How dare she leave and make him do women's work!

If the evildoer folks have the bomb

It's because the Bush administration gave it to them.

Dr. Zaius of Zaius Nation explains:
Has everybody forgotten that Bush has already given the secrets of building an atomic bomb not only to Iran, but to every evil empire in the world? I remember when this story first broke. It's lifespan in the news cycle lasted from Friday afternoon to a Saturday morning. Supposedly the story was dropped because it was "unfair" and "too partisan" to run it because of the upcoming election.

A little over a year ago Bush put up a website that contained information that was captured in Iraq. Amongst this treasure trove the administration accidently overlooked part of the information that contained all of the secrets needed to build an atomic bomb. The website was called "Operation Iraqi Freedom Document Portal", which is of course no longer online. The damage is already done, however. Every intelligence agency in the world is constantly watching the White House website like a hawk. There can be no doubt that the nuclear secrets are now practically in the public domain.

Always new

The top ten idiots.


Always hopeful

Phila of Bouphonia's hope post.


Is Blackwater a mercenary army?

Doug, the Blackwater apologist, responds to my latest comment on this post:

You raise larger issues about the entire contingency contractor industry beyond Blackwater.

In terms of diversity, keep in mind that companies use as many locals as they are allowed to within their contracts – it just makes sense. Locals bring invaluable knowledge, language skills, connections and are far less expensive than Westerners. If local hires are not allowed by the terms of the contract (usually due to insurgent infiltration risk), then companies hire Third Country Nationals (TCNs), from all over the world. The industry has more diversity than any other I’ve seen (by the way, you may be interested to know less than 5% of our industry is security work, mostly it is logistics, demining, medical services, aviation, training etc.).

Most companies are run by former military folks, and they are the same people that they were before when they wore uniforms. Yes, they work under contracts, but that don’t mean they don’t care about the mission and the nation. Nevertheless, the better the oversight and accountability, the more it benefits the better contractors which strive to follow the rules and regulations (as increasingly convoluted as those have become!).

I can talk your ear off about the Military Extraterritorial Jurisdiction Act and UCMJ – lots of things need improvement there regarding contractor accountability, especially in terms of transparency. But we do need to get this right, we’ve used contractors in the past (700,000 in WWII, 80,000 in Vietnam, more contractors than troops in Bosnia), and we’ll need to use them in the future. Contractors are critical to supporting UN missions as well, and if you go to Darfur you’ll find all the African Union bases have been built, managed and run by private contractors. So are the AU helicopters. Effective and transparent accountability are essential for all our international peace and stability missions.

Profit margins in the industry are surprisingly tight – if you want to make money make airplanes. In the service sector the average is around 7% profit on a contract. KBR’s huge LOGCAP III contract is 1% (with a potential 2% bonus for speed/quality). That is NEVER mentioned in the media, since it makes their correspondents look like idiots when they berate ‘war profiteering’.

Contractors are NOT combatants, nor should we imply otherwise. Calling them mercenaries is simply derogatory since they clearly do not fit the legal definition in the Geneva Conventions – it’s like calling journalists ‘hacks’ or doctors ‘quacks’. In Iraq the contractors have something called the Rules for the Use of Force (RUF) which is far more limited and restrictive than the military’s Rules of Engagement (ROE) – the Pentagon has drawn a thick line between what contractors are allowed to do (protect people, places and things) and what the military does. That is as it should be – contractors support military operations, not supplant them.

No one should be above the law or unaccountable. Ensuring that in the chaos of a conflict/post-conflict operations – be it Sudan, Haiti or Iraq – ain’t ever going to be easy but we can do it. Ultimately, the better we do peacekeeping and stability operations the shorter they will be and the better it will be for the local populations suffering from the conflict.

I hope that’s helpful.

Best regards,


Thanks for your response, Doug.

I have attempted to understand why Blackwater resists the term mercenary, if and when it does apply, who has been hired by Blackwater and other defense contractors, whether it is actually cheaper to use contractors, and why, in doing research on the net, I have found hardly anyone who stands up in support of Blackwater except the Bush administration and the contractors themselves.

I'll not even get into the lawsuits.

The UN keeps its eye on private contractors and the defines the word: mercenary:

Seventh session
Item 3 on the agenda
Report of the Working Group on the use of mercenaries as a means of violating human rights and impeding the exercise of the right of peoples to self-determination
1. According to resolution Commission on Human Rights 2005/2, the Working Group on the use of mercenaries has the mandate, inter alia, to “elaborate and present concrete proposals on possible new standards, general guidelines or basic principles encouraging the further protection of human rights, in particular the right of peoples to self-determination, while facing current and emergent threats posed by mercenaries or mercenary-related activities.” In addition, the Working Group has the mandate to “monitor and study the effects of the activities of private companies offering military assistance, consultancy and security services on the international market on the enjoyment of human rights, particularly the right of peoples to self-determination, and to prepare draft international basic principles that encourage respect for human rights on the part of those companies in their activities.”


This is shown both by the growth of transnational security companies that operate in the region as well as by the local use of private security guards instead of national police or security forces. During these country missions, the Working Group has been able to identify a growing trend to surrender the monopoly over the legitimate use of force to private, non-State actors, following the steady growth of PMSCs at the international level. These practices have involved the outsourcing or privatization of war at the international level, and of security, at the domestic level.
3. One of these phenomena is the recruitment and training of individuals originating from Latin America and the Caribbean with the objective of rendering security services to private security companies that operate in countries like Iraq and Afghanistan. The Working Group has been able to identify that the Governments of the region often lack the capacity to take appropriate action in relationship to this phenomenon, such as the registration and licensing of private military and security companies that operate within their territories or the establishment of effective management, monitoring and accountability systems, with an ultimate view to ensuring that private military and security companies offer standard procedures with regard to employment and labor conditions. A weak or insufficient national legislation, coupled with the limited economic opportunities of the population, has promoted the expansion of private military and security companies that recruit former military and policemen, and other persons from third countries, in order to render security services in low intensity armed conflict or post-conflict situations.

[snip] (my bold)

The Consultation was attended by representatives of the Governments of Chile, Costa Rica, Cuba, Ecuador, El Salvador, Honduras, Panama, Paraguay and Dominican Republic, as well as by representatives of the Inter-American Institute of Human Rights, four academic experts and representatives of two associations of private military and security companies, the International Peace Operation Association (IPOA) and the British Association of Private Security Companies (BAPSC).

I can understand now the desire not to be called mercenaries, but:

1. working or acting merely for money or other reward; venal.
2. hired to serve in a foreign army, guerrilla organization, etc.
3. a professional soldier hired to serve in a foreign army

As in hiring people from around the world to work in Blackwater:

Coalition forces in Iraq are largely American, but contractor ranks are truely international. An unofficial online list of contractor casualties in Iraq includes men from Fiji, South Africa, Britain, Turkey, Bulgaria, South Korea, Honduras, Nepal, India, Canada, Portugal, Poland, Russia, Australia, Italy, Denmark and more

And here:

The private security personnel began to be hired in Chile in October by local representatives of Blackwater, former Chilean military personnel who according to the magazine Qué Pasa work, directly or indirectly, for the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).

The hired Chilean soldiers make up less than one percent of the 15,000 mercenaries who have been sent to Iraq since the occupation began, and who, as a group, represent the second-largest military force in that country, outnumbered only by the 134,000 U.S. forces. The troops from Britain, the United States' largest coalition partner, number around 9,000.

Blackwater, which is based in North Carolina, is one of the 25 private military firms that are benefiting from the lucrative contracts for the stabilisation and reconstruction of Iraq financed by the United States at an average monthly cost of four billion dollars.

and further down this article:

The independent on-line publication Indymedia reported on Mar. 26 that the United States had hired retired members of the Chilean army who served under former dictator Augusto Pinochet (1973-1990), as well as ''former henchmen of South Africa's apartheid regime'' to serve as soldiers of fortune in Iraq.

Indymedia estimates the number of former South African military in Iraq at 1,500, which would make them one of the biggest contingents of mercenaries in occupied Iraq.

The private military industry is growing around the world, fed by local wars that are providing employment opportunities for former military personnel who found themselves out of a job, especially in eastern Europe, when the Cold War came to an end.

And on the idea of it being cheaper? (from October 2007):

We've done poorly at a cold cost-benefit analysis here. It's far from clear that contractors save us money; when pressed on this score by the House last week, Blackwater Chairman Erik Prince went from claiming cost savings to pleading ignorance of his own firm's profits. (He did, however, let slip that he makes at least $800,000 per year more than you do, for overseeing a force that's a tiny fraction of the size.) Oversight has been miserably lacking, as has the will to use civilian or military law to hold contractors accountable for bloody messes such as the Baghdad shootings. On balance, for all the important jobs that contractors are doing, Blackwater and its kin have harmed, rather than helped, our troops' counterinsurgency efforts.

When I mentioned to friends that I was in a conversation with someone connected to or at least supportive of Blackwater, the reaction was (besides thinking I had a death wish) as if I were talking with the Mafia... because of actions like this:

Officially, Blackwater says it forces are in New Orleans to "join the Hurricane Relief Effort." A statement on the company's website, dated September 1, advertises airlift services, security services and crowd control. The company, according to news reports, has since begun taking private contracts to guard hotels, businesses and other properties. But what has not been publicly acknowledged is the claim, made to us by 2 Blackwater mercenaries, that they are actually engaged in general law enforcement activities including "securing neighborhoods" and "confronting criminals."

And this story:

A possibly deadly incident involving Quinn's hired guns underscores the dangers of private forces policing American streets. On his second night in New Orleans, Quinn's security chief, Michael Montgomery, who said he worked for an Alabama company called Bodyguard and Tactical Security (BATS), was with a heavily armed security detail en route to pick up one of Quinn's associates and escort him through the chaotic city. Montgomery told me they came under fire from "black gangbangers" on an overpass near the poor Ninth Ward neighborhood. "At the time, I was on the phone with my business partner," he recalls. "I dropped the phone and returned fire."
Montgomery says he and his men were armed with AR-15s and Glocks and that they unleashed a barrage of bullets in the general direction of the alleged shooters on the overpass. "After that, all I heard was moaning and screaming, and the shooting stopped. That was it. Enough said."
Then, Montgomery says, "the Army showed up, yelling at us and thinking we were the enemy. We explained to them that we were security. I told them what had happened and they didn't even care. They just left." Five minutes later, Montgomery says, Louisiana state troopers arrived on the scene, inquired about the incident and then asked him for directions on "how they could get out of the city." Montgomery says that no one ever asked him for any details of the incident and no report was ever made. "One thing about security," Montgomery says, "is that we all coordinate with each other--one family." That co-ordination doesn't include the offices of the Secretaries of State in Louisiana and Alabama, which have no record of a BATS company.

The weird 'containment' of the victims of Katrina and the clear neglect of their needs really woke Americans up. The normal American reaction of wanting to help and sending supplies was blocked at every turn. Yet Blackwater was hired to run through the streets of New Orleans bristling with weaponry. Blackwater was hired for control not assistance. Why did the Bush administration assume riots would happen unless they knew they weren't going to help? Because if help had been allowed, there would have been no anger.

Many people believe this:

Questions have been raised about the nature in which this large force of paid mercenaries operates. Members of these security companies are highly trained ex-Special Forces personnel, many non-American, that do not have to adhere to the rules of engagement that the conventional military sets forth in order to meet international law. With salaries that can be as high as $1,000 a day, squads of Bosnians, Filipinos, Israelis, and varies other foreign nationals from nearly every "hot spot" in the world have been hired for tasks ranging from airport security to protecting American and Iraqi leaders. There is further concern that the non-American fighters loyalty to the parent company could supersede that of the United States who they are in fact representing, creating a higher probability that the United States’ image abroad will be tarnished.

And this:

* Blackwater is wrapping up work on its own armored vehicle, the Grizzly, as well as its Polar Airship 400, a surveillance blimp Blackwater wants to market for use in monitoring the U.S.-Mexico border.

A surveillance blimp? Well, now, there's an idea whose time has come. I guess.

That last item aside, however, Blackwater looks like it's going to be around for a long time, sucking on the government teat. Even if Barack Obama is elected in November, he has already made it clear that he wants a more robust diplomatic presence in Iraq and that he intends that Taj Mahal embassy to be fully used. Diplomatic security will be necessary, because it doesn't look like even Baghdad will be pacified any time soon. And, under the quite successful "Shrink the Government" program of the Bush administration, there just aren't enough government forces to protect the diplomatic corps. It would take years to hire, train, and equip what would be needed for just that one embassy.

And that's a real problem for this country. Many such government functions have been outsourced to companies such as Blackwater, frequently with "hold harmless" clauses in their contracts so that neither the US government nor other government can hold them accountable for the atrocities they may commit. There will be no accountability, no control, and for future victims, no redress.


Erik Prince:

said, "When you want to send a package overseas, do you use the post office, or do you use FedEx?" implying that Blackwater is sort of the Federal Express of the U.S. war machine, that it's the best way to get your product delivered.

But there's actually an irony there. When you send something via FedEx, you can have your package insured against loss or damage, you can track your package. Blackwater has shown itself above any form of tracking or accountability. And when things go lethally wrong, you can't find out. There are no consequences. There's no accountability whatsoever. So even when Erik Prince tries to spin a metaphor about another corporation, it falls flat, because Blackwater is the least accountable corporation operating in Iraq right now, because its product is essentially death and destruction.

As with any defense contractor company who deals with war, even though you may say you are not combatants but contractors, your product is fear, hatred, the threat of death or death itself. Innocent people have died. And there has been no accountability.

Changing the name to Peace and Stability or a variation on the name of Blackwater, etc. doesn't really change the result nor the opinion of the world.

crossposted at American Street

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Changing the landscape of Iraq

One blast wall at a time...


And, responding to the comments the Blackwater apologist made at this link:
Most contractors are locals and thus the costs are far, far cheaper than using Americans. Companies will always use locals if they have a choice, that's how they compete to win the contracts. Using locals contributes to the economy, to stability, to undermining the insurgents etc.. Two-thirds of our contractors in Iraq are Iraqis, the folks who should be doing their own security and reconstruction.
the local Iraqi economy is not being helped:
With unemployment as high as 67 percent, the imported products and foreign workers flooding across the borders have become a source of tremendous resentment in Iraq and yet another open tap fueling the insurgency. And Iraqis don't have to look far for reminders of this injustice; it's on display in the most ubiquitous symbol of the occupation: the blast wall. The ten-foot-high slabs of reinforced concrete are everywhere in Iraq, separating the protected—the people in upscale hotels, luxury homes, military bases, and, of course, the Green Zone—from the unprotected and exposed. If that wasn't injury enough, all the blast walls are imported, from Kurdistan, Turkey, or even farther afield, this despite the fact that Iraq was once a major manufacturer of cement, and could easily be again. There are seventeen state-owned cement factories across the country, but most are idle or working at only half capacity. According to the Ministry of Industry, not one of these factories has received a single contract to help with the reconstruction, even though they could produce the walls and meet other needs for cement at a greatly reduced cost. The CPA pays up to $1,000 per imported blast wall; local manufacturers say they could make them for $100. Minister Tofiq says there is a simple reason why the Americans refuse to help get Iraq's cement factories running again: among those making the decisions, “no one believes in the public sector.”
(link via dirk gently)

Doesn't this remind you of something out of WWII?

Comparing what we were hiding from the Red Cross:
WASHINGTON — The U.S. military hid the locations of suspected terrorist detainees and concealed harsh treatment to avoid the scrutiny of the International Committee of the Red Cross, according to documents that a Senate committee released Tuesday.

"We may need to curb the harsher operations while ICRC is around. It is better not to expose them to any controversial techniques," Lt. Col. Diane Beaver, a military lawyer who's since retired, said during an October 2002 meeting at the Guantanamo Bay prison to discuss employing interrogation techniques that some have equated with torture. Her comments were recorded in minutes of the meeting that were made public Tuesday. At that same meeting, Beaver also appeared to confirm that U.S. officials at another detention facility — Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan — were using sleep deprivation to "break" detainees well before then-Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld approved that technique. "True, but officially it is not happening," she is quoted as having said.

A third person at the meeting, Jonathan Fredman, the chief counsel for the CIA's Counterterrorism Center, disclosed that detainees were moved routinely to avoid the scrutiny of the ICRC, which keeps tabs on prisoners in conflicts around the world.

"In the past when the ICRC has made a big deal about certain detainees, the DOD (Defense Department) has 'moved' them away from the attention of the ICRC," Fredman said, according to the minutes.

The document, along with two dozen others, shows that top administration officials pushed relentlessly for tougher interrogation methods in the belief that terrorism suspects were resisting interrogation.
Where we had elected officials assuring the public that all was good at Gitmo and Iraq:
WASHINGTON, June 27 - Senators from both sides of the aisle competed on Monday to extol the humane treatment of detainees whom they said they saw on a weekend trip to the military detention center at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. All said they opposed closing the center.

WASHINGTON – House Armed Services Committee Chairman Duncan Hunter is using menus to defend U.S. conduct at the Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, detention facility.

In a TV interview show Sunday and a Capitol news conference Monday, Hunter, R-El Cajon, brandished the menus for the Guantanamo detainees' meals as a partial rebuttal to allegations that suspected terrorists and anti-U.S. fighters there were being mistreated.


"The inmates in Guantanamo have never eaten better, they've never been treated better and they've never been more comfortable in their lives. . . . And the idea that somehow we are torturing people in Guantanamo is absolutely not true, unless you consider having to eat chicken three times a week is torture," Hunter said at the news conference.

To what the Nazis did?:
Succumbing to pressure following the deportation of Danish Jews to Theresienstadt, the Germans permitted the International Red Cross to visit in June 1944. It was all an elaborate hoax. The Germans intensified deportations from the ghetto shortly before the visit, and the ghetto itself was "beautified." Gardens were planted, houses painted, and barracks renovated. The Nazis staged social and cultural events for the visiting dignitaries. Once the visit was over, the Germans resumed deportations from Theresienstadt, which did not end until October 1944.
More on the hoax:
In December 1943, the Nazis told the Council of Elders of Theresienstadt about the Embellishment. The commander of Theresienstadt, SS Colonel Karl Rahm, took control of planning. An exact route was planned for the visitors to take. All buildings and grounds along this route were to be enhanced by green turf, flowers, and benches. A playground, sports fields, and even a monument were added. Prominent and Dutch Jews had their billets enlarged, as well as had furniture, drapes, and flower boxes added.

But even with the physical transformation of the Ghetto, Rahm thought that the Ghetto was too crowded. On May 12, 1944, Rahm ordered the deportation of 7,500 inhabitants. In this transport, the Nazis decided that all orphans and most of the sick should be included to help the facade that the Embellishment was creating.

The Nazis, so clever at creating facades, didn't miss a detail. They erected a sign over a building that read "Boys' School" as well as another sign that read "closed during holidays."9 Needless to say, no one ever attended the school and there were no holidays in camp.

On the day that the commission arrived, June 23, 1944, the Nazis were fully prepared. As the tour commenced, well-rehearsed actions took place that were created specially for the visit. Bakers baking bread, a load of fresh vegetables being delivered, and workers singing were all queued by messengers who ran ahead of the entourage.
Godwin's law is broken. The Bush and all of his loyal Bushies are the new Nazis.

Sometimes jokes

Expose the truth faster than any rant...


And cats are always the purrfect vehicle...

Thursday, June 19, 2008

It would be as if no illegal activity occurred at all...

Because we'll never know exactly what happened. House comes to compromise on telecom immunity.

Via TPM Muckraker, the Wall Street Journal:
Removing the final barrier to action on the measure, which has been hashed out in recent weeks by senior lawmakers in both parties, House Democratic leaders decided to allow a vote on the bill, despite the opposition of many in their party.

The new agreement broadens the authority to spy on people in the U.S. and provides conditional legal immunity to companies that helped the government eavesdrop after the 2001 terrorist attacks, according to congressional aides in both parties.
Right. You guys pass this law and you've just announced corporations are more important than individual citizens and your oath to protect the Constitution is a lie.

And just an aside, a question I've not yet found the answer to. Because the Bush administration was listening in on Americans long before 9/11, why did 9/11 occur? Isn't this whole invasion of privacy issue about protecting America? So why weren't they listening to all the cell phone calls to Saudi Arabia and Yemen and realizing something was up?

Or could it be they were too busy listening for juicy items to blackmail Congress into following their commands? Maybe we could ask the telecoms this question when we get them up on the stand under oath .... OooHHHhhhhh....

Congress passed a law, I tell you! It's not my fault!

Watch how Bush immediately goes into a semantics game to explain Abu Ghraib. Apparently asking this question means you are slandering America....

GEORGE W. BUSH: This was a law passed, Adam. We passed a law. Bypassing the Constitution means that we did something outside the bounds of the Constitution. We went to the Congress and got a piece of legislation passed.

REPORTER: Which is now being struck down, I think.

GEORGE W. BUSH: It is, and I accept what the Supreme Court did, and I necessarily don't have to agree with it. My only point to you is, is that yes, I mean, we certainly wish Abu Ghraib hadn't happened, but that should not reflect America. This was the actions of some soldiers.

The question unanswered is this, Georgie. WHY did you get Congress to pass a law bypassing the Constitution? WHY was there this odd need to torture? WHY?


Shorter Bush: We wanted to torture so we changed the meaning of the word so it wasn't called torture so we didn't torture so we could watch the tapes of ... uh ... it was the soldiers that did it!

crossposted at SteveAudio

Blackwater wants to apply Sharia law to a lawsuit

Because the plane crashed in Afghanistan. Sharia law would not let the company be sued for worker's neglect.
RALEIGH - To defend itself against a lawsuit by the widows of three American soldiers who died on one of its planes in Afghanistan, a sister company of the private military firm Blackwater has asked a federal court to decide the case using the Islamic law known as Shari’a.

The lawsuit “is governed by the law of Afghanistan,” Presidential Airways argued in a Florida federal court. “Afghan law is largely religion-based and evidences a strong concern for ensuring moral responsibility, and deterring violations of obligations within its borders.”

If the judge agrees, it would essentially end the lawsuit over a botched flight supporting the U.S. military. Shari’a law does not hold a company responsible for the actions of employees performed within the course of their work.

(The comments following Drum's post are hilarious).

Update: interesting discussion about the State Department extending Blackwater's contract for 5 more years. One more mine being planted by the Bush administration for President Obama to deal with.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Think before you fire

That Taser! They are not harmless. (my bold)
A new proposal to increase the number of stun guns in police hands is hitting a series of public relations hurdles, with a Brooklyn man dying this week after being shocked by a Taser and Amnesty International warning the police department to reconsider.

Since 2001, more than 300 people — including the Brooklyn man who was shocked by Suffolk County police officers Monday — have died after the guns were used on them, a statement Amnesty International sent yesterday to New York reporters said.

"Given their questionable safety record, TASERs should be used with extreme caution and not become a weapon of first resort for the NYPD," the group's director, Larry Cox, said.

According to Amnesty's records, the number of fatal Taser shocks has gradually increased as more police departments seeking less lethal alternatives to firearms have bought up the stun guns. Nationwide, 69 people died last year, compared with 13 in 2002, according to the group.

Amnesty said 90% of the 300 victims were unarmed.

Police sergeants on patrol are carrying stun guns in their holsters starting yesterday. Officers in specialty units already carry Tasers with them.
Lovely. Who on earth is encouraging police to regard Tasers as a quick and easy solution for dealing with irritating people? Don't answer that...

The Bush administration is guilty of war crimes

At today’s House Judiciary Subcommittee on Civil Rights hearing on torture, Lawrence Wilkerson, former chief of staff to Colin Powell, told Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) that over 100 detainees have died in U.S. custody, with up to 27 of these declared homicides
Which is why we need impeachment put back on the table, Nancy!

Trying to connect the dots

And finding how amazingly interconnected Blackwater is:

Erik Prince and Blackwater (North, USA, Worldwide, etc.) The Blackwater brass. The International Peace Operations Association which Blackwater left in 2007.

(Update: Muckety seems to reset itself or I'm not copying correctly. Click on Muckety and type in Erik Prince. The connections are fascinating.)

Erik Prince's background. Some of the foundations he's connected to.

Blackwater in Iraq.

Blackwater subverting the voice of the people?:
In January 2008, Marshall Adame, a Democrat running for Congress in North Carolina's 3rd District, took part in a live question-and-answer forum where he was asked a question about Blackwater. Adame, who had served as a State Department official in Iraq recounted, "I saw them shoot people, I saw them crash into cars while I was their passenger. There was absolutely no reason, no provocation whatsoever." He then stated, "There is no place in the American force structure, or in American culture for mercenaries, they are guns for hire; No more, no less."[citation needed] This led Blackwater executive vice president Bill Mathews to send an internal corporate email to staff:

There is a man named Marshall Adame who is running for congress in our district. He just put a quote online which says he wants this company and all of us to cease to exist. Do you like your jobs? Are you sick and tired of the slanderous bullshit going on in DC? If so, would you all mind joining me in reminding Mr. Adame that he is running for office in our backyard. Tell all your friends and family too. We welcome their assistance in making this point very clear to Mr. Adame.
Anyone who wants to send a letter may do so at the following address…....
His email is ....
He was too cowardly to put a phone number on the web. I ask that you keep your comments to Mr. Adame professional (well, mostly professional). We help him if our comments get threatening or too crass. Let’s run this goof out of Dodge….![citation needed]

As a result of the letter writing campaign Adame stated, "I feel very strongly about how extensively organized Blackwater has become, and I will do everything I can as a congressman to look into that, to find out whether or not the things they're doing are even legal."
Obviously, Erik Prince and his multiple corporations know that money to politicians buys power.

Most stunning of all:
Value of Blackwater's federal contracts in 2001: $736,906

Value in 2002: $3.4 million

Value in 2003: $25 million

Value in 2004: $48 million

Value in 2005: $352 million

Value in 2006: $593 million

Total value of all Blackwater contracts at the end of 2006: $1 billion

Percentage growth since 2001: 80,453

Current number of Blackwater's federal contracts, according to Erik Prince: "More than 50."

Percentage of Blackwater holding company Prince Group's revenue derived from federal contracts: 90
The Blackwater apologist showed back up in comments to try to burnish Blackwater's reputation.

I've had someone in Herndon, Virginia checking in regularly as well as from McLean Virginia. So, if you have a post up about Blackwater, Erik Prince, or any of his multiple subsidiaries, you may get a visit from one of these:
Domain Name ? (Network)
ISP Qwest Communications
Continent : North America
Country : United States (Facts)
State : Virginia
City : Mc Lean
In the Total Intelligence Solutions group there is The Black Group LLC run by Cofer Black, the Terrorism Research Center, and the Technical Defense, Inc.

Within the Technical Defense, Inc is the Talos Technology Consulting, the Terrorism Research Center, and Proconsul.

Talos Technology Consulting
is in Herndon, Virginia:
Talos Technology Consulting, Inc.
3336 Fern Hollow Place
Suite 100
Herndon, VA 20171
Now it has a brother company, Total Intelligence Solutions that offers intelligence services, risk analyses to companies and governments.Chairman of the Board is J. Cofer Black, former director of the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency's (CIA) counter terrorist center.


The company is located in Ballston Virginia, very close to the CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia.

Analysts in their 20s sit hunched over computers, scanning activities in the Middle East, Islamic World, Europe and South America.

Prince Group, LLC:
1660 International Dr
McLean, VA, 22102-4848
And the Blackwater apologist?:
Domain Name ? (Commercial)
IP Address 208.58.69.# (RCN Corporation)
ISP RCN Corporation
Continent : North America
Country : United States (Facts)
State : District of Columbia
City : Washington
RCN corporation is in Herndon, Virginia
196 Van Buren St.
STE 300
Herndon, VA 20170

Monday, June 16, 2008

Mad cow is good for you! Government is bad!

The Republicans say so.

Paul Krugman of the New York Times explains: (my bold)

Lately, however, there always seems to be at least one food-safety crisis in the headlines — tainted spinach, poisonous peanut butter and, currently, the attack of the killer tomatoes. The declining credibility of U.S. food regulation has even led to a foreign-policy crisis: there have been mass demonstrations in South Korea protesting the pro-American prime minister’s decision to allow imports of U.S. beef, banned after mad cow disease was detected in 2003.

How did America find itself back in The Jungle?

It started with ideology. Hard-core American conservatives have long idealized the Gilded Age, regarding everything that followed — not just the New Deal, but even the Progressive Era — as a great diversion from the true path of capitalism.

Thus, when Grover Norquist, the anti-tax advocate, was asked about his ultimate goal, he replied that he wanted a restoration of the way America was “up until Teddy Roosevelt, when the socialists took over. The income tax, the death tax, regulation, all that.”

The late Milton Friedman agreed, calling for the abolition of the Food and Drug Administration. It was unnecessary, he argued: private companies would avoid taking risks with public health to safeguard their reputations and to avoid damaging class-action lawsuits. (Friedman, unlike almost every other conservative I can think of, viewed lawyers as the guardians of free-market capitalism.)

Such hard-core opponents of regulation were once part of the political fringe, but with the rise of modern movement conservatism they moved into the corridors of power. They never had enough votes to abolish the F.D.A. or eliminate meat inspections, but they could and did set about making the agencies charged with ensuring food safety ineffective.

So every e-coli drenched spinach leaf and every tomato seething with salmonella comes directly from a government run by Republicans. Take a look at a government run by those who hate governing. It doesn't, can't, won't work. Which is what they intended all along.

Paul Krugman ends his article:
The moral of this story is that failure to regulate effectively isn’t just bad for consumers, it’s bad for business.

And in the case of food, what we need to do now — for the sake of both our health and our export markets — is to go back to the way it was after Teddy Roosevelt, when the Socialists took over. It’s time to get back to the business of ensuring that American food is safe.

Just an interesting aside... weren't the Republicans just a moment ago embracing the legacy of Teddy?

Continuing where he left off in his economic talk last week in Brooklyn and foreshadowing his major speech tomorrow on the topic tomorrow in Pittsburgh, McCain said “there is a role for government” in improving the economy. “There always is.”

“I am a Teddy Roosevelt Republican,” he reminded.

crossposted at SteveAudio

Blackwater is in the money no matter who wins the presidency

An email sent out by Jeremy Scahill reprinting his Los Angeles Times article. I've posted it in full.
Blackwater's bright future
No matter who wins the White House, the security firm is shooting for lucrative work.
By Jeremy Scahill

June 16, 2008

From California to Iraq, business has never been better for the controversial private security firm Blackwater Worldwide. Company President Gary Jackson recently boasted that Blackwater has "had two successive quarters of unprecedented growth." Owner Erik Prince recently spun his company as the "FedEx" of the U.S. national security apparatus, describing Blackwater as a "robust temp agency."

Such rhetoric may seem brazen, given Blackwater's deadly record in Iraq and troubled reputation at home, but here is the cold, hard fact: Blackwater knows its future is bright no matter who next takes up residence at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

The company's most infamous moment came last September, when Blackwater operatives were alleged to have gunned down 17 Iraqi civilians in Baghdad's Nisour Square. A U.S. military investigation labeled the shootings a "criminal event," and a federal grand jury in Washington is hearing evidence in the case.

The father of one of the dead, a 9-year-old boy shot in the head, testified before the grand jury in late May. He has rejected offers of monetary compensation from the U.S. government and Blackwater; he demands a public admission of guilt by the company. "This is important for me, morally, for my family and my tribe," said Mohammed Hafidh Abdul-Razzaq. Other survivors have been offering testimony to the United Nations, and some have filed a lawsuit in federal court in this country.

At the end of the day, perhaps criminal charges will be brought against a handful of Blackwater operatives as a token gesture. But this will not bring substantive change to the unaccountable private war industry. Indeed, the killing of Iraqi civilians and other scandals do not seem to hurt Blackwater's business at all. Quite the opposite.

In April, over the objections of the U.S.-installed Iraqi government, which has demanded Blackwater's expulsion, the Bush administration quietly renewed the company's lucrative Iraq contract for yet another year. To date, the company has pulled in over $1 billion from its Iraq and Afghanistan "security" contracts alone.

Blackwater is also winning at home. The company recently fought back widespread local opposition to its plans for a new warfare training center in San Diego. When residents and local officials tried to block it, Blackwater sued the city. A federal judge, appointed by President Bush's father, ordered San Diego to stand down. Now the company is entrenched, guns a blazin', in San Diego and is well positioned to cash in on the increasingly privatized border-patrol industry.

Blackwater's California expansion is just one of several ventures that reveal how Blackwater is growing. Among the others:

* Prince's private spy agency, Total Intelligence Solutions, is now open for business. Run by three veteran CIA operatives, the company offers "CIA-type services" to governments and Fortune 1000 companies.

* Blackwater was asked by the Pentagon to bid for a share of a whopping $15-billion contract to "fight terrorists with drug-trade ties" in countries such as Colombia, Bolivia, Afghanistan and Uzbekistan. Analysts say it could be the company's "biggest job" ever.

* Blackwater is wrapping up work on its own armored vehicle, the Grizzly, as well as its Polar Airship 400, a surveillance blimp Blackwater wants to market for use in monitoring the U.S.-Mexico border.

But is Blackwater counting its chickens before they hatch? Some may see it as a foregone conclusion that if Barack Obama wins in November, Blackwater's days on the federal payroll would be numbered. Obama has labeled it "unaccountable" and a danger to U.S. troops in Iraq. (By comparison, John McCain's top strategist, Charlie Black, has worked for Blackwater.)

But it is far more complicated than that. Obama may want to draw down U.S. troops in Iraq, for instance, but "diplomatic security" is where Blackwater's bread is lathered with golden butter. Obama has pledged to increase diplomatic activity in Iraq and to keep in place the Green Zone and the monstrous U.S. Embassy in Baghdad. Despite his criticism, Obama may have no choice but to use these private forces. His top advisors have painfully acknowledged Obama "cannot rule [it] out."

Consider the numbers: At present, Blackwater has about two-thirds as many operatives in Baghdad as the U.S. State Department has diplomatic security agents in the entire world, including Iraq. Although Obama has said he wants diplomatic security to be done by U.S. government employees, accountable under U.S. law, the State Department estimates that it could take years to recruit, vet and train a force to take over Blackwater's work.

In addition, Obama's rhetoric on Latin America strikes familiar "drug war" chords, which bodes well for Blackwater, and he plans to send 7,000 more troops to Afghanistan, where the company is already firmly entrenched.

Blackwater's work in Iraq began with one $27-million no-bid contract to guard the U.S. administrator for the country, L. Paul Bremer III, in 2003. In five years it has metastasized into a central component of the U.S. presence in Iraq and is spreading fast into the most sensitive areas of the national security apparatus.

There is no question that a McCain White House would be preferred by Blackwater and its allies. The question is: Would a Democratic victory really be bad for business?

Jeremy Scahill is the author of "Blackwater: The Rise of the World's Most Powerful Mercenary Army."
Update 6/17... interesting. I've been checked out by this site:
Domain Name ? (Network)
ISP Qwest Communications
Continent : North America
Country : United States (Facts)
State : Virginia
City : Mc Lean
Lat/Long : 38.9499, -77.2223 (Map)
And who is in McLean, Virginia?

Mr. Erik Prince
Prince Group
1660 International Dr., Suite 47
McLean, VA 22102
I've also had many visits from Herndon, Virginia. Who is in Herndon? One Voice Communications. Which has on its testimonials a scrolling client list which has Blackwater. Oddly, every other company that appears has a quote, but Blackwater is silent.

Wonder why?

Update: Pay attention to Erik Prince's Greystone Limited company:
Yet the most important vehicle for Prince's global aspirations isn't Blackwater proper, but Greystone Limited, a company he quietly founded in 2004 as his firm's "international affiliate." According to Chris Taylor, a former Marine Recon soldier who until May was Blackwater's vice president for strategic initiatives, Prince sought to build a new brand. "Blackwater has a sexy name and people pay attention to it," Taylor says, and sometimes that high profile "may not fit the proposed mission." In particular, he says, "international opportunities" were to be "looked at through Greystone."

Nearly all of the 20 or more companies Prince has launched or acquired over the years are U.S. based. Greystone, however, was incorporated in the Caribbean tax haven of Barbados, although it is managed from Blackwater's headquarters in Moyock, North Carolina. (The Barbados address and phone number listed in the federal government's contractor database trace back to a firm that specializes in shielding corporate revenues from U.S. tax authorities.) "As far as I know, they were the same company with different names," notes a contractor who worked for Blackwater in Iraq.

Unlike Blackwater, Greystone has managed to stay almost entirely out of public view, and it remains a mystery even to industry insiders. Doug Brooks, president of the International Peace Operations Association, a trade group of which Greystone was a member until late last year, couldn't say what the company does. (Blackwater pulled out of the group last October after the IPOA launched an investigation into its conduct; Greystone followed suit in November.)


Prince and his diversified group of companies, though, are positioned to endure. The Greystone model doesn't depend on America's wars: Whether the future of the business lies in what the industry calls "peace and stability" work or in providing "proactive" strike forces to private clients, some element of the Prince network is in a position to deliver. "They're soldiers of fortune," says the security director of a well-known humanitarian NGO. "Today they are willing to do the bidding of the United States, because the United States is willing to pay them. Who are they willing to work for tomorrow?"

crossposted at American Street

I thought you said anybody who talked to bad guys

Was a Nazi appeaser, Georgie? What about your best buds Israel and Turkey?

Israel and Syria:

Jerusalem, Israel (AHN) - Israel and Syria have resumed indirect peace talks in Turkey over the weekend. According to Israel's military radio station, close aides of Israeli PM Ehud Olmert, traveled to Ankara to being the peace talks on Sunday under Turkish mediation.

Israeli President Shimon Peres, who is on a visit to the U.S. urged Syria on Sunday to enter into direct talks with Israel. He said that the leaders should meet directly to discuss the issues.

Turkey and Iran:
On June 6, General Ilker Basbug, the commander of the Turkish Land Forces, confirmed that Turkey and Iran were sharing intelligence and coordinating military operations against the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) - which is primarily composed of Turkish Kurds - and its Iranian affiliate, the Kurdistan Free Life Party (PJAK).

Both rebel groups have their headquarters and main training camps in the Qandil Mountains of northern Iraq. Although it has long been assumed that security cooperation between Turkey and Iran has included both intelligence-sharing and the coordination of military operations against the PKK and PJAK, Basbug's statement is the first public confirmation by a high-ranking Turkish military official.

Turkey and Iran first signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) on security cooperation on July 29, 2004, three months after PJAK's inaugural congress in April 2004 and two months after the May 2004 decision by the PKK to return to violence following a five-year unilateral ceasefire. This agreement was reinforced on April 17, 2008, by a new MoU which foresaw a broadening and deepening of security cooperation between the two countries.
Well, they might be Nazi appeasers, but at least the Iraqi army is doing your bidding:
Baghdad - A fresh outbreak of violence across Iraq on Monday caused at least five fatalities while Iraq's army said it would not go ahead with a crackdown on Shiite militias in the southern Maysan province until a government deadline for militiamen to surrender their arms expires.
Ah, okay. But Maliki is Georgie's bestest bud and will support our military staying forever in Iraq in 58 bases and not being answerable to Iraqi law, right? I mean, that's not unreasonable, is it?
BAGHDAD — Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki raised the possibility that his country won't sign a status of forces agreement with the United States and will ask U.S. troops to go home when their U.N. mandate to be in Iraq expires at the end of the year.

Maliki made the comment after weeks of complaints from Shiite Muslim lawmakers that U.S. proposals that would govern a continued troop presence in Iraq would infringe on Iraq's sovereignty.

"Iraq has another option that it may use," Maliki said during a visit to Amman, Jordan. "The Iraqi government, if it wants, has the right to demand that the U.N. terminate the presence of international forces on Iraqi sovereign soil."
Kevin Hayden of American Street says it best: (my bold)
It should be noted, too, how perverse the political process is that has functioned for the past 8 years. Consider (a) the twin heads of Al Qaeda came from Saudi Arabia and Egypt, (b) Al Qaeda funding largely came from Saudi Arabia, the UAE and other Arab nations but has never been tracked to Iraq or Iran, (c) Al Qaeda terror training occurred in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Somalia, mostly, (d) nuclear design and technology came from AQ Khan of Pakistan, (e) base headquarters of Al Qaida’s principals was provided by Afghanistan, and (e) the 9-11 attackers came mostly from Saudi Arabia, plus Egypt and Yemen.

Out of the 10+ principal nations complicit in sustaining and equipping Al Qaeda or in spreading nuclear technology, the Bush administration remains allied with most of them and has only directly attacked Afghanistan. Plus it attacked a non-involved party (Iraq) and regularly threatens the non-involved Iran.
*Gasp* Then ... Then that means YOU are the Nazi appeaser, Georgie!

Here's a list to start your week!


The ten worst!

Sunday, June 15, 2008

AP is going after bloggers

Who have copied their headlines and content past what AP considers 'fair use'....

Rogers Cadenhead of the Drudge Retort

I'm currently engaged in a legal disagreement with the Associated Press, which claims that Drudge Retort users linking to its stories are violating its copyright and committing "'hot news' misappropriation under New York state law." An AP attorney filed six Digital Millenium Copyright Act takedown requests this week demanding the removal of blog entries and another for a user comment.

The Retort is a community site comparable in function to Digg, Reddit and Mixx. The 8,500 users of the site contribute blog entries of their own authorship and links to interesting news articles on the web, which appear immediately on the site. None of the six entries challenged by AP, which include two that I posted myself, contains the full text of an AP story or anything close to it. They reproduce short excerpts of the articles -- ranging in length from 33 to 79 words -- and five of the six have a user-created headline.

People who are boycotting AP and signing a petition. (follow the links)

skippy the bush kangaroo discusses the asspress' actions.

Tengrain of Mock, Paper, Scissors notes AP's unnecessarily heavy hand and calls for a boycott.

Cernig of Newshoggers has details.

Watertiger of Dependable Renegade.

Update 6/17: Kos of the Daily Kos has the best response ever.

crossposted at SteveAudio

Realizing he doesn't have much time before his term is up

Georgie decides to actually do something...
President George W Bush has enlisted British special forces in a final attempt to capture Osama Bin Laden before he leaves the White House.
which apparently is asking the British to do his dirty work so he can get the glory and burnish his tattered legacy ... Reminds us of how you got through college, doesn't it, Georgie?

As we tremble on the brink of disaster

Phila of Bouphonia reminds us there is hope.... except for the dog...


Support the poor yacht owners!

Californian State Republicans do!

Inspired by a blogger’s YouTube video, the Courage Campaign launched “Yacht Party” — a 30-second TV ad re-branding California Republicans as the “Yacht Party” for refusing to close a “yacht tax” loophole despite California’s massive $16 billion state budget deficit.

The ad attracted rave reviews, prompting United Healthcare Workers – West (SEIU-UHW) and Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez to team up with 558 Courage Campaign donors to fund the airing of “Yacht Party” across California, from CNN and MSNBC to The Daily Show and Colbert Report. The financial support for the ad from Speaker Nunez and members of SEIU-UHW catalyzed statewide newspaper coverage, forcing Republican Sam Blakeslee to defend his flip-flopping votes for and against the yacht tax “sloophole”.

Go tell it to the people

Tell us what we need to know before it's too late.

Legendary journalist Bill Moyers address the National Conference for Media Reform in Minneapolis, June 7, 2008. Presented by For more speakers, press coverage, and info, visit:

Friday, June 13, 2008

Too late now, you bastard.

Headline: President Bush regrets his legacy as man who wanted war
President Bush has admitted to The Times that his gun-slinging rhetoric made the world believe that he was a “guy really anxious for war” in Iraq. He said that his aim now was to leave his successor a legacy of international diplomacy for tackling Iran.

In an exclusive interview, he expressed regret at the bitter divisions over the war and said that he was troubled about how his country had been misunderstood. “I think that in retrospect I could have used a different tone, a different rhetoric.”

Phrases such as “bring them on” or “dead or alive”, he said, “indicated to people that I was, you know, not a man of peace”.
So... you wouldn't change anything really, just the WORDS you used?

Because you sure loved acting the part:



I don't care who advised you:






The words you used were supposed to scare us:



You chose this vanity war for your own political designs:


You even said war was romantic:


Nobody else agrees with you:








And you ignored the world's advice, cherry picked obviously questionable intelligence, bought into the PNAC fantasy of popping Saddam out and sticking Chalabi in all within six weeks. You had no plan B. You also mentioned to someone that God had told you no one would die.


You're going down in history as the WORST PRESIDENT EVER.






Thursday, June 12, 2008

Practicing his love on the world...

Or maybe it's to honor the spreading of his democracy. So, is Bush's farewell tour to Yurp working?:

German newspaper commentators have launched a scathing attack on US President George W. Bush's record, saying he embodies "the arrogance of power" and has shattered the world's faith in America.
Security for President Bush's visit has been very tight.

Commercial flights over the city have been diverted, 10,000 policemen have been mobilised, there are frogmen under bridges and snipers on roofs, and mobile phone signals are being disrupted whenever his motorcade moves, says the BBC's Christian Fraser in Rome.

As Air Force One touched down, hundreds were gathering in the city centre in protest at the Bush administration and Italy's involvement in Afghanistan.

Another group of demonstrators chanted "Bush, go home" outside the American Academy in Rome's Villa Aurelia while the president met young entrepreneurs inside.
Ljubljana, 10 June (STA) - Multiple groups will stage protests against US President George W. Bush on Tuesday as the EU-US Summit gets under way at the Brdo pri Kranju estate.

In Ljubljana the Youth Party (SMS) will stage a peace rally in front of the US Embassy at 10 AM.

The protesters intend to give the embassy a medal for Bush to honour him for energising movements and individuals who fight for a cleaner environment, human rights, minority rights and democracy.

"With everything he has done he has clearly shown us what not to do," the party said in a press release.

World leaders?
Like many Americans, Europeans have Bush fatigue. Many believe Barack Obama and John McCain will have different positions - perhaps more favorable - than Bush on issues important to Europe. The president continues promoting his agenda on climate change, Mideast peace and world trade issues, yet his influence has ebbed.

"I'm sure there will be some protests, but I think people are just looking past this guy at this point and they're interested in what comes next," said James M. Goldgeier, an expert on Europe at the Council on Foreign Relations.

"There's no reason for any leader to give him anything because he's on the way out. You have a presidency that's losing energy, is consumed by Iraq and a president who is unpopular, in general, in Europe and people are looking beyond him," Goldgeier said.

Ah, gee whiz, guys. He's the preznit of the YooNited States. After all he's done, a little more attention from the ferrin leaders would be appreciated....


Ah, um .. right .. ... so what will Bush do for his final few months to show he's a real world leader?
WASHINGTON - Once again, notably in the wake of last week's annual American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) policy conference and the visit to the capital of Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, there's a lot of chatter about a possible attack by Israel and/or the United States on Iran.

Olmert appears to have left the White House after meeting with President George W Bush and an earlier dinner with Vice President Dick Cheney quite satisfied on this score, while rumors - most recently voiced by neo-conservative Daniel Pipes - that the administration plans to carry out a "massive" attack in the window between the November elections and Bush's departure from office, particularly if Democratic Senator Barack Obama is his successor, continue to swirl around the capital.


As I mentioned in a previous post, I've generally been skeptical of the many reports over the past two years that an attack - either by Israeli or the US - was imminent, as those reports had often warned at the time of their publication. After the release of the December National Intelligence Estimate (NIE), I, like just about everyone else, became even more doubtful that Bush would order an attack before leaving office (and I didn't think the Israelis would mount an attack without a green light from Washington). This is in part because neo-conservatives, who had been and remain the most eager champions of military action, seemed to simply give up on Bush and, in any event, were not showing any signs of orchestrating a major new media campaign to mobilize public opinion in that direction, as they did in the run-up to the Iraq invasion.

Since the abrupt resignation of Admiral William Fallon as CENTCOM commander, which I saw as a major blow to the realist faction in the administration, and Cheney's subsequent visit to the region, however, I've been increasingly concerned about the possibility of an attack, and the past week's events have done nothing to allay that concern.
Going out with a bang are we, Georgie?

crossposted at American Street