Saturday, October 07, 2006

Bush's War


American Murderers

Once again, not the best way to win hearts and minds:
Eight members of a Marine squad planned to kill a suspected Iraqi insurgent and developed a cover story before their April raid, but when they could not find their target, they pulled his neighbor from his bed and shot him to death instead, a Navy medic who was part of the group testified Friday.


Fear of a Mocha Planet

Yeah, this is just what we need. Three times as many Starbucks:
Starbucks (SBUX) stock jumped Friday, a day after the company set a new long-term goal to have 40,000 coffee stores worldwide, 10,000 more than its previous target and more than triple the current number.


Kurds Calling It Quits?

And if they do, can you blame them? Who would want to remain attached to the clusterfuck that we've created in Iraq?
With violence bloodying Iraq, Kurds in the peaceful north have been showing signs of going their own way, raising their own flag and even hinting they could secede in a dispute over oil wealth - moves that have alarmed Shiites and Sunnis.

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice's visit to Kurdistan on Friday underlined American worries that Kurds may be pushing too hard too soon for autonomy powers at a time of increasing sectarian tensions.


Friday, October 06, 2006

Catholics Is Creepy

Some long-term necrophilia going on here:
This undated photo released by The Catholic Heart show the uncorrupted heart of St. John Vianney, who died 147 years ago in France is shown in its glass case. The The heart and Vianney's chalice are being brought to the United States for the first time this weekend in what the pastor of Long Island's Cur of Ars church calls 'an historical moment for our country, our diocese, our church.'


Freedom of the Press

It's a dangerous business, these days:
ITN reporter Terry Lloyd was shot in the head by American troops as he was being driven to hospital, the inquest into his death was told today.

"Terry was shot in the shoulder and had been lying in the sand," the Iraqi recounted. "He managed to walk to the car but was too weak to get in without help."

Mr Walker said the witness also said he had seen Lloyd's press pass and described a white Kuwaiti pass clipped on a yellow short-sleeved shirt.

"This witness said Mr Lloyd was then shot by US shots. The witness said Mr Lloyd was shot by US troops in the head while the vehicle was leaving the scene. Two Ba'ath party members were also shot. Three pieces of wood that had Mr Lloyd's blood on were also present. Mr Lloyd lay on the pieces of wood while the minibus took him to hospital."


The American Way

Beating the helpless. It's all in good fun, like a fraternity prank, or something:

Guards at Guantanamo Bay bragged about beating detainees and described it as common practice, a Marine sergeant said in a sworn statement obtained by The Associated Press.

Other guards "also told their own stories of abuse towards the detainees" that included hitting them, denying them water and "removing privileges for no reason."

"About 5 others in the group admitted hitting detainees" and that included "punching in the face," the affidavit said.

"From the whole conversation, I understood that striking detainees was a common practice," the sergeant wrote. "Everyone in the group laughed at the others stories of beating detainees."


Death to the Furry Octopus Oppressor!!

...and at last, success:


Bush: Standing Up for the Incompetent

He defends his own, I suppose:
President Bush this week asserted that he has the executive authority to disobey a new law in which Congress has set minimum qualifications for future heads of the Federal Emergency Management Agency.


Thursday, October 05, 2006

For the Cranky Librarian in All of Us

An inane editorial which manages to utterly miss the point of libraries today, arguing that they are inefficient, limited, and obsolete (compared with, of course, the almighty Intertubes).

And rebuttal, and rebuttal.


Breathe Deep

Breathing kills:
The World Health Organization on Thursday called on governments to improve air quality in their cities, saying air pollution prematurely kills two million people a year, with more than half the deaths in developing countries.
So, why not enjoy the ride?

Kevin Morse, president of Spirit Partners Inc. in Greensboro, N.C., which markets the Alcohol Without Liquid, or AWOL, devices, said they are harmless.

"At the end of the day, it's just a new way for adults to enjoy alcohol in a different manner," said Morse, who sells single-user devices over the Internet for $299 each or multi-user devices for $2,500 each.

The devices, which resemble asthma inhalers, can be used for just about any kind of alcohol, including wine, vodka, even martinis.


Safe from the President of Bolivia

And Saddam Hussein. And the hijackers who died on 9/11.

Feel secure yet?
60 Minutes, in collaboration with the National Security News Service, has obtained the secret list used to screen airline passengers for terrorists and discovered it includes names of people not likely to cause terror, including the president of Bolivia, people who are dead and names so common, they are shared by thousands of innocent fliers.
The former FBI agent, Jack Cloonan, knew the list that was hastily assembled after 9/11, would be bungled. "When we heard the name list or no-fly list … the eyes rolled back in my head, because we knew what was going to happen," he says. "They basically did a massive data dump and said, 'Okay, anybody that's got a nexus to terrorism, let's make sure they get on the list,'" he tells Kroft.

The "data dump" of names from the files of several government agencies, including the CIA, fed into the computer compiling the list contained many unlikely terrorists. These include Saddam Hussein, who is under arrest, Nabih Berri, Lebanon's parliamentary speaker, and Evo Morales, the president of Bolivia. It also includes the names of 14 of the 19 dead 9/11 hijackers.

But the names of some of the most dangerous living terrorists or suspects are kept off the list.

The 11 British suspects recently charged with plotting to blow up airliners with liquid explosives were not on it, despite the fact they were under surveillance for more than a year.

The name of David Belfield who now goes by Dawud Sallahuddin, is not on the list, even though he assassinated someone in Washington, D.C., for former Iranian leader Ayatollah Khomeini. This is because the accuracy of the list meant to uphold security takes a back seat to overarching security needs: it could get into the wrong hands. "The government doesn't want that information outside the government," says Cathy Berrick, director of Homeland Security investigations for the General Accounting Office.

It's so important we HAVE to make it incomplete and inaccurate!

That makes perfect sense.


All the News That's Fit...

The Daily Show is as substantive as any of the other, unintentional, jokers:
Which would you think has more substantive news coverage -- traditional broadcast network newscasts or The Daily Show with Jon Stewart?

Would you believe the answer is neither?

Julia R. Fox, assistant professor of telecommunications at Indiana University isn't joking when she says the popular "fake news" program, which last week featured Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf as a guest, is just as substantive as network coverage.

While much has been written in the media about The Daily Show's impact, Fox's study is the first scholarly effort to systematically examine how the comedy program compares to traditional television news as sources of political information.

The study, "No Joke: A Comparison of Substance in The Daily Show with Jon Stewart and Broadcast Network Television Coverage of the 2004 Presidential Election Campaign," will be published next summer by the Journal of Broadcast and Electronic Media, published by the Broadcast Education Association.

"It is clearly a humor show, first and foremost," Fox said of Stewart's program. "But there is some substance on there, and in some cases, like John Edwards announcing his candidacy, the news is made on the show. You have real newsmakers coming on, and yes, sometimes the banter and questions get a little silly, but there is also substantive dialogue going on … It's a legitimate source of news."


Not surprisingly, a second-by-second analysis of The Daily Show's audio and visual content found considerably more humor than substance -- Stewart himself has insisted that he is a comedian and not a journalist. A similar analysis of network coverage found considerably more hype than substance in broadcast newscasts. Examples of such hype included references to polls, political endorsements and photo opportunities.

"Interestingly, the average amounts of video and audio substance in the broadcast network news stories were not significantly different than the average amounts of visual and audio substance in The Daily Show with Jon Stewart stories about the presidential election," she wrote in the paper.


Good Luck

All the best wishes to NATO:
Nato has taken command of security across all of Afghanistan, with the international force today assuming control of US troops in the east.

Lieutenant General David Richards, the British commander in charge of Nato's 31,000 troops in the country, said the expansion of the Nato force was an "historic" move.

Around 12,000 American soldiers will now come under the direct control of Nato, making the US the biggest contributor to the international coalition. The US force will join around 5,200 British troops, most of them stationed in the volatile Helmand province, where they have fought fierce gun battles with Taliban militias.

As they take control of this nation:

Good news from Nangarhar, the sleepy province that once headlined Afghanistan's booming drugs trade. This year's poppy crop is up - but only by 350%. "We're very happy with the figure," said a western drugs official.

That might seem a strange reaction in a country sliding helter-skelter towards becoming a narco-state. This year the poppy crop soared to record levels as links between drug kingpins, the Taliban and corrupt officials grow worryingly strong.

But victories come in strange forms in the floundering war on drugs.



Give that kid some serious therapy during the ten years. Please.
A 15 year old boy who took part in the beatings of gay men as they left San Diego pride festivities in July was sentenced Wednesday to 10 years in custody.

Because of his age the teen's name cannot be made public. In handing down the sentence Juvenile Court Judge Theodore Weathers said the attacks were “horrific” and “beyond comprehension.”

Six men were attacked as they left Balboa Park where San Diego's gay pride was being held on July 29. The victims were taunted with homophobic remarks then beaten.

At least two of the victims were struck by a baseball bat. One of them was hit nearly a dozen times and required reconstructive surgery on his face. Another victim received a non life threatening stab wound.


How Low

For a "transition pope," Ratzi certainly is wielding his power well, abolishing an entire dimension of existence, for example (sorry, Chubby):
Pope Benedict XVI, after deliberation by Vatican theologians, is abolishing the concept of Limbo that put the souls of unbaptized infants at risk.

While it was never a formal part of the church's doctrine, the existence of Limbo was taught until recently to Catholics around the world, The Times of London said. Limbo was described in Britain as "a place of rest where the souls of the just who died before Christ were detained."

This week an international commission of theologians began its final deliberations on the concept of Limbo. Vatican sources told the newspaper it had concluded that all children who die do so in the expectation of "the universal salvation of God" and the "mediation of Christ", whether baptized or not.

A Times source said the theologians' finding basically says "that all children who die go to Heaven."


Missions Accomplished

Apparently, Congress takes after their Dear Leader in that they don't read newspapers:
The military’s top generals have warned Iraq is on the cusp of a civil war and that U.S. troops must remain in large numbers until at least next spring. But if the winds suddenly blow a different direction, Congress is ready to celebrate with a $20 million victory party.

Lawmakers included language in this year’s defense spending bill, approved last week, allowing them to spend the money. The funds for “commemoration of success” in Iraq and Afghanistan were originally tucked into last year’s defense measure, but went unspent amid an uptick in violence in both countries that forced the Pentagon to extend tours of duty for thousands of troops.

You know what? Fine. Have your big "victory" party; just bring the soldiers home.


Wednesday, October 04, 2006

New Heights

No, not the stock market, but our magnificent "success" in Iraq:
Bomb attacks in Baghdad have hit an all-time high, the U.S. military said on Wednesday, as one of the capital's frontline police units was pulled off the streets on suspicion of involvement with sectarian death squads.

Thousands of police face criminal vetting and lie detectors as part of a "retraining" process designed to weed out militia killers who have used the cover of their uniforms to kidnap, torture and commit mass murder, U.S. officials have said.

The overnight orders to move the 8th National Police Brigade into barracks and arrest one of its commanders came a day after Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki unveiled a sketchy deal with Sunni leaders and fellow Shi'ites to try to stem violence. But there was still no sign of further talks to provide substance.

U.S. military spokesman Major General William Caldwell said the number of car bombs in Baghdad, both detonated and defused, hit their highest level of the year last week and that bombs reported in general were "also at an all-time high."


Court OKs Domestic Spying

Why not just let it go ahead? It's not as though there are fundamental constitutional rights in question or anything.
The Bush administration can continue its warrantless surveillance program while it appeals a judge's ruling that the program is unconstitutional, a federal appeals court ruled Wednesday.


The Killing of Iraq, Cont'd

Without an educational system, how exactly is Iraq supposed to recover from the chaos and destruction we have wrought?
Iraq's school and university system is in danger of collapse in large areas of the country as pupils and teachers take flight in the face of threats of violence.

Professors and parents have told the Guardian they no longer feel safe to attend their educational institutions. In some schools and colleges, up to half the staff have fled abroad, resigned or applied to go on prolonged vacation, and class sizes have also dropped by up to half in the areas that are the worst affected.

Professionals in higher education, particularly those teaching the sciences and in health, have been targeted for assassination.


What's Wrong with This Picture?

BradBlog catches FoxNews up to its usual disinformation tactics.



Hastert is now catching fire from his own majority whip:
A senior House Republican said Wednesday that Rep. Mark Foley's inappropriate e-mails to a page — now at the center of an intensifying federal investigation — should have been thoroughly pursued at the time.

As conservatives debated whether House Speaker Dennis Hastert should resign over his handling of the complaint, the House majority whip, Roy Blunt, R-Mo., said he would have done things differently if he'd known about it. He was the acting majority leader when the complaint was raised.

Although he did not criticize Hastert, his remarks to reporters in Springfield, Mo., were no endorsement of the speaker's actions.

"I think I could have given some good advice here, which is you have to be curious, you have to ask all the questions you can think of," Blunt said. "You absolutely can't decide not to look into activities because one individual's parents don't want you to."


Tuesday, October 03, 2006


Imagine the Republican howls of outrage if a Democrat came anywhere close to suggesting this:

US Senate majority leader Bill Frist (R) of Tennessee said Monday that the war against the Taliban can "never" be won militarily and that it was time to include "people who call themselves Taliban" in the Afghan government.

The Associated Press reports that Mr. Frist said he had learned from military reports that the Taliban were "too numerous and had too much popular support" to be defeated in a military campaign.

"You need to bring them into a more transparent type of government," he said during a visit to a military base in the Taliban stronghold of Qalat. "And if that's accomplished, we'll be successful."

Afghanistan is suffering its heaviest insurgent attacks since US-led forces ousted the fundamentalist Taliban regime in late 2001 for harboring Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden.


We Can't Afford to Secure Our...


They can tap all our phones, but they cannot manage to monitor the mail of convicted terrorists?

Mail for convicted terrorists and other dangerous federal inmates isn't being fully read by prison authorities, and that is a risk to national security, a Justice Department review concluded Tuesday.

The U.S. Bureau of Prisons is supposed to translate and screen all mail to and from the highest-risk inmates — including terrorists, gang members and spies — for evidence of criminal activity. But that target was not being met consistently at 10 federal prisons and detention centers surveyed by the Justice Department's inspector general.

"The threat remains that terrorist and other high-risk inmates can use mail and verbal communications to conduct terrorist or criminal activities while incarcerated," concluded the report by Inspector General Glenn A. Fine. It urged the Bureau of Prisons to correct quickly the security gap, including putting tracking systems in place to ensure all high-risk inmate mail is read and analyzed.

A Bureau of Prisons spokesman said the agency agrees with the review's recommendations in whole or in part. But it is largely too cash-strapped to afford enough staff to sort through the thousands of letters and other pieces of mail federal prisons receive each week — what Bureau of Prisons Director Harley G. Lappin described to inspectors as searching for "a needle in a haystack."


Bin Who?

Seems as though Bush is coming out of his years-long blackout, just in time for campaign season:

"I'm just telling you we're dismantling Al-Qaeda one person at a time. We're on the hunt," Bush said at a congressional campaign event here.

"And it's just a matter of time before Osama bin Laden gets the justice he deserves," he said.


The Moral Republicans

They all stuck together to protect and defend a pedophile:

The Mark Foley Scandal is over. The Florida Republican congressman who sent "Do I make you horny?" messages to teenage pages has resigned his seat and gone into rehab. He needed help and, now, he's getting it. There will be a few more salacious revelations--like today's report that the congressman was such a multi-tasker that he balanced the sending of racy instant messages with his duty to show up for floor votes -- and perhaps some legal playout to this sad tale. But Foley's political journey is finished.

The Republican Congressional Leadership Scandal is most definitely not over. House Speaker Dennis Hastert, R-Illinois, House Majority Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio, House Republican Congressional Campaign Committee chair Tom Reynolds, R-New York, and other leaders of the GOP caucus who knew about the Foley problem and did little or nothing to deal with it, have been exposed for what they are: Political animals who care about nothing--absolutely nothing--except maintaining power.


Still Handling Things Well in Korea

The Bush foreign policy continues to make things better all over the world:
North Korea said Tuesday it will conduct a nuclear test in the face of what it claimed was "the U.S. extreme threat of a nuclear war," ratcheting up tensions amid international pressure to return to negotiations on its atomic program.

The United States warned a North Korean nuclear test "would pose an unacceptable threat to peace and stability."


Monday, October 02, 2006


Just landed from San Francisco, back from a weekend seeing my inutterably perfect niece (and, merely incidentally, her parents).

Work permitting, perhaps some blogging shall occur...