American Samizdat

Monday, January 31, 2005. *
A third of surveyed high-schoolers
would opt for government oversight of media
A new survey of 112,003 students released today finds that one in three say the press ought to be more restricted -- and 36% think newspapers should get 'government approval' before stories are published.

"The study was sponsored by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. The foundation's president, Hodding Carter, called the results 'not only disturbing; they are dangerous.'

"The numbers: 32% say the press enjoys 'too much freedom.' Some 37% say it has the right amount, with 10% voting saying too little. The survey found that a bare majority, 51%, said newspapers should be able to publish freely, with 36% okaying government approval.

"In addition, nearly three-fourths of students polled, 73%, either did not know how they felt about the First Amendment or admitted taking it for granted, while half thought the government had the power to censor the Internet. Meanwhile, 75% wrongly believed flag burning was illegal.

"The study also revealed that the more students were exposed to First Amendment and new media courses in the classroom, the more involved they were in student journalism. For example, among those students who had taken First Amendment or other press-related courses, 87% believed people should be allowed to express unpopular opinions, while only 68% of those who had not taken such classes shared the belief."

"The study was designed to gather data from administrators, students and faculty at a random sample of schools. In order to study potential clustered or hierarchical relationships between variables, the survey collected data from administrators, students and faculty at the same schools. The current study is based on an analysis of summary interviews with 544 school administrators, detailed interviews with 327 principals or other senior administrators, 7,889 faculty members, and 112,003 students."

Pedagogy of the oppressed?

"The poet Percy Bysshe Shelley wrote that, in the rapacity that the industrial revolution created, people first surrendered their minds or the capacity to reason, then their hearts or the capacity to empathize, until all that was left of the original human equipment was the senses or their selfish demands for gratification. At that point, humans entered the stage of market commodities and market consumers -- one more thing in the commercial landscape. Without minds or hearts, they are instrumentalized to buy whatever deadens their clamoring and frightened senses -- official lies, immoral wars, Barbies, and bankrupt educations."
posted by mr damon at 5:04 PM
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Ohio is still the heart of it all
"Several volunteer workers in the Ohio recount in Clermont County, Ohio, have prepared affidavits alleging serious tampering, violations of state and federal law and possible fraud. They name the Republican chief of Clermont's Board of Elections, Daniel Bare, and the head of the Clermont Democratic Party, Priscilla O'Donnell, as complicit in these acts.

"These volunteers, observing the recount on behalf of the Greens, Libertarians and Democrats, assert that during the Dec. 14, 2004, hand recount, they noticed stickers covering the Kerry/Edwards oval, whereas the Bush/Cheney oval seemed to be 'colored in.'"

See related post: "'If we do not suppress the Detroit vote' -- for Ohio, substitute the Akron, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Columbus, Dayton, or Toledo vote -- 'we're going to have a tough time in this election cycle.'"
posted by mr damon at 3:43 PM
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"We've been taken over by a cult."
Seymour Hersh interviewed on Democracy Now! Jan. 26, 2005

"One of the things that you could say is, the amazing thing is, we have been taken over, basically, by a cult; eight or nine neo-conservatives have somehow grabbed the government. Just how, and why, and how they did it so efficiently, will have to wait for much later historians and better documentation than we have now. But they managed to overcome the bureaucracy, and the Congress, and the press, with the greatest of ease. It does say something about how fragile our democracy is [or, as Chomsky might assert, how nonexistent]. You do have to wonder what a democracy is when it comes down to a few men in the Pentagon and a few men in the White House having their way...

"Since we installed our puppet government, this man Allawi -- who was a member of the Mukabarat, the secret police of Saddam, and is basically Saddam-lite -- since we have installed him on June 28... [in each month since that time], one thing has happened: the number of sorties, and the number of tonnage dropped, has grown exponentially each month. We are systematically bombing [Iraq].

"There are no embedded journalists at Doha*, the Air Force base I think we're operating out of. No embedded journalists at the aircraft carrier, USS Harry Truman. That's the aircraft carrier that I think is doing many of the operational fights. There's no air defense in Iraq, so it's simply a turkey shoot. They come and hit what they want. We know nothing. We don't ask. We're not told. We know nothing about the extent of bombing. So if they're going to carry out an election and if they're going to succeed, bombing is going to be key to it, which means that what happened in Fallujah, essentially Iraq -- some of you remember Vietnam -- Iraq is being turn into a 'free-fire zone' right in front of us. Hit everything, kill everything.

"I have a friend in the Air Force, a colonel, who had the awful task of being an urban bombing planner, planning urban bombing, to make urban bombing be as unobtrusive as possible. I think it was three weeks ago today, three weeks ago Sunday after Fallujah, I called him at home... He has one of those caller I.D.s, and he picked up the phone and he said, 'Welcome to Stalingrad.' We know what we're doing. This is deliberate. It's being done. They're not telling us. They're not talking about it...

"The press is nowhere. The Congress is nowhere. The military is nowhere. Every four-star general I know is saying, 'Who is going to tell them we have no clothes?' Nobody is going to do it. Everybody is afraid to tell Rumsfeld anything. That's just the way it is. It's a system built on fear. It's not lack of integrity, it's more profound than that. Because there is individual integrity. It's a system that's completely been taken over -- by cultists.

"Anyway, what's going to happen, I think, as the casualties mount and these stories get around, and the mothers see the cost, and the fathers see the cost, as the kids come home... and the wounded ones come back, and there's wards that you will never hear about. There's ward after ward of vegetables because the brain injuries are so enormous. We're going to learn more and I think you're going to see, it's going to -- it's -- I'm trying to be optimistic. We're going to see a bottom-swelling from inside the ranks. You're beginning to see it. What happened with the soldiers asking those questions, you may see more of that. I'm not suggesting we're going to have mutinies, but I'm going to suggest you're going to see more dissatisfaction being expressed. Maybe that will [cause Bush to alter his course of action].

"Another salvation may be the economy. It's going to go very bad, folks. You know, if you have not sold your stocks and bought property in Italy, you better do it quick. And the third thing is Europe -- Europe is not going to tolerate us much longer. The rage there is enormous. I'm talking about our old-fashioned allies. We could see something there, collective action against us. It's going to be an awful lot of dancing on our graves as the dollar goes bad and everybody stops buying our bonds, our credit -- our -- we're spending $2 billion a day to float the debt, and one of these days, the Japanese and the Russians, everybody is going to start buying oil in Euros instead of dollars.** We're going to see enormous panic here. But Bush could get through that. That will be another year, and the damage he’s going to do between then and now is enormous."

* I talked about my time in Qatar with a woman I'd worked with briefly last summer. In response to her question about if I saw any American military presence there, I said "The only thing I saw were the F-16s roaring across the harbor, which happened about every day, flying off to the northwest." And that was enough to see in itself.

** I believe that I read -- or was told by a pharmacist in Cleveland -- that Iraq was interested in selling its oil based on the euro, and this was an impetus for the invasion. I'll have to search some more, but I want to say that Iran has been trading on the euro, or wants to do so. (See: BUSH'S DEEP REASONS FOR WAR ON IRAQ: OIL, PETRODOLLARS, AND THE OPEC EURO QUESTION)

Also, a scenario that has Europe, Japan and Russia become economically dominant -- and take over a destabilized US economy -- is briefly described in Olivia E. Butler's "Parable of the Sower," which tells a story that sometimes comes back to mind as prophecy.

posted by mr damon at 2:24 PM
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Finally got to see Control Room (available via NetFlix) this weekend. It was only in theatres here (WA) for a few days and not in any that were close (Olympia and Langley).

It's a documentary on Al Jazeera. I came away with confirmed feelings that Al Jazeera isn't all that reputable a news source. At best AJ follows the worst practices of junk yards like Fox - at worst it's even more sensationalistic - which is pretty much confirmed reading their news website daily. Just another hoar to it's ratings. It's too bad that the occasionally interesting Arab view is lost in an ocean of such sensationalistic reporting. I was really hoping AJ would become the BBC for the Arab world. That a documentary about AJ made them look this bad was kind of suprising. (flame suit on :) - I know how many people here think AJ is the shit)

Interesting views on how things worked at CentCom during the early parts of the war.

The documentary did do a good job of covering the simultaneous strikes on AJ and Al Abi (sp?) news locations in Baghdad early in the war. This documentaries coverage of those incidents leaves one hard pressed to believe that this was anything other than the US trying to silence Arab news channels. Although the Centcom media handler makes a good point [paraphrasing] "if we wanted to silence Arab news we have many electronic means that wouldn't give Arab news such a sensationalistic story". Anyway - it's kind of hard to believe this was an accident.

Control Room is worth checking out if you get a chance. Interesting views you don't see in American media very often.
posted by ben at 7:52 AM
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Sunday, January 30, 2005. *

The cowardly and corrupt bush administration, working along with the dirty allow(ie) government is coercing Iraqis to vote. The allow(ie) puppets are threatening Iraqis who don't vote that they will not get their monthly food rations.

The bush gang can do anything to reach to their goals.

It is well known all over Iraq now that if you didn't go to vote, the government will cut your monthly food rations.

--that was from Raed in the Middle

See also: Baghdad Burning: "People in many areas are being told that if they don’t vote- Sunnis and Shia alike- the food and supply rations we are supposed to get monthly will be cut off. We’ve been getting these rations since the beginning of the nineties and for many families, it’s their main source of sustenance. What sort of democracy is it when you FORCE people to go vote for someone or another they don’t want?"

. . . Meanwhile, turn on the news in America, and all you hear are harpsichords--all playing the same damn tune: "Praise Bush! He has Done It! Despite all Liberal Obstacles! The World is one Democracy Brighter! Hallejuh Praise the Lord--the One True Lord--OUR LORD--and don't you forget it!"
posted by Dr. Menlo at 11:11 PM
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"The Iraqi election will change the world...
but not in the way the US wanted."
"Shias are about to inherit Iraq, but the election that will bring them to power is creating deep fears among the Arab kings and dictators of the Middle East that their Sunni leadership is under threat.

"Outside of Iraq, Arab leaders are talking of a 'Shia Crescent' that will run from Iran through Iraq to Lebanon via Syria, whose Alawite leadership forms a branch of Shia Islam. The underdogs of the Middle East, repressed under the Ottomans, the British and then the pro-Western dictators of the region, will be a new and potent political force.

"While Shia political parties in Iraq have promised that they will not demand an Islamic republic -- their speeches suggest that they have no desire to recreate the Iranian revolution in their country -- their inevitable victory in an election that Iraq's Sunnis will largely boycott mean that this country will become the first Arab nation to be led by Shias.

"On the surface, this may not be apparent; Iyad Allawi, the former CIA agent and current Shia 'interim' Prime Minister, is widely tipped as the only viable choice for the next prime minister -- but the kings and emirs of the Gulf are facing the prospect with trepidation.

"In Bahrain, a Sunni monarchy rules over a Shia majority that staged a mini-insurrection in the 1990s. Saudi Arabia has long treated its Shia minority with suspicion and repression.

"In the Arab world, they say that God favoured the Shia with oil. Shias live above the richest oil reserves in Saudi Arabia and upon some of the Kuwaiti oil fields. Apart from Mosul, Iraqi Shias live almost exclusively amid their own country's massive oil fields. Iran's oil wealth is controlled by the country's overwhelming Shia majority.

"What does all this presage for the Sunni potentates of the Arabian peninsula? Iraq's new national assembly and the next interim government it selects will empower Shias throughout the region, inviting them to question why they, too, cannot be given a fair share of their countries' decision-making."
posted by mr damon at 2:46 PM
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Iraqi Democracy is a Progressive Value
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Friends of Democracy is a new web site that's sprung up to cover and document the Iraq election and political efforts. Unabashedly pro-democracy, it offers the antithesis of the insurgency's chaos. It may be a propaganda front, but it's offering a look at Iraq that I haven't seen, including on-the-ground reporting (with photos) of the run-up to the election.

From the vision statement: "By our hands, work, thoughts, sacrifice we will build up the new Iraq.

Our home is open for every friend of democracy and they are many in Iraq.

We are the hope of the rest of peoples which longed for freedom and they are looking with the eye of hope to the Iraqi sample.

Let us show them a shining sample and let us remind them that we are the ones of the first code of laws. Let them share us to work with full efforts to push forward the democracy process in Iraq."

"We endeavor to link the non governmental organizations (NGO's), students groups, women organizations and the individuals through a network to exchange experience and thoughts to push forward democracy process in Iraq.

We won't be isolated islands from now on.

We are stronger in sharing opinions and exchanging information and experience.

You are not alone, friends of democracy exist all over Iraq and now you are with them in every moment.

Our weapon: the word and free opinion."

If this is a Negroponte psyops job, it's a good one. While the U.S. invasion of Iraq, built on a foundation of brutishness and lies, has created a panoply of tragedies, I am beginning to believe that only through empowering the Iraqi democratic forces will any good ever come of this misadventure. FoD offers a picture of what Iraq might look like should leaders guided by enlightened democracy come to the forefront.

The same sentiment might be offered regarding any resistance movement in any nation. Should the cream rise to the top, then things could work out. The U.S. military and state department can not make this happen. No one knows how to make this happen, but FoD offers a mustard seed of hope.

Like Howard Dean's "You have the power" mantra and recent voyage into the esoteric, "I'm not much of a Zen guy, but I've learned that the best way to gain power is to give it away", the best way forward in this mess'o'potamia lies in struggling to establish a true democracy in Iraq.

I know, I know. There's bodies everywhere. Hatred that will last generations has been birthed. A training camp for budding terrorists has been created. People don't even have basic services like water and electricity. Ba'athists armed with the weapons we didn't secure roam the streets, killing innocents and soldiers alike. U.S. and other "coalition" forces kill insurgents and innocents. Confusion, violence, and uncertainty are running the show, to be sure.

But with world opinion (rightly, in most cases) turned against us, we must find a way to turn power over to forward thinking, energetic Iraqis and then get the hell out of there. It's unlikely that John Negroponte is going to be too happy to do this. It's unlikely that anything but a series of U.S. stooges will preside over Iraq, but if liberals / progressives are going to work for anything in Iraq it ought to be peace, democracy, and true sovereignty.

Here at home, we've got to have our own regime change, and I have the same aspirations for our nation that I have for the Iraqis. I am incensed and outraged at the atrocities being perpetrated with my money and in my name both at home and abroad. We must support any and every true democratic efforts in Iraq, and we must push to create a progressive America here at home.

It's only insurgents, terrorists, George W. Bush and his administration, a comatose media, religious nationalism, the distrust of the world, apathy, and a dozen other things we've got to overcome. Daunted? Me too. To think that freedom and democracy might take hold in Iraq is terrifically naive, but what else will we support and work towards? While cursing every darkness, the left can also light a candle of solidarity with those who aspire to be free.
posted by Gordon Smith at 1:47 PM
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Saturday, January 29, 2005. *
People are fungible. Draft up some more.

Thanks to Larua Rozen of War and Piece, we now have this wonderful January 28, 2005 PNAC Letter to Congress on Increasing U.S. Ground Forces.

Be sure to note both the intended recipients and the signatories.

Special merit goes to signatory Max Boot. Boot's January 27 article in the LA Times, Digging Into Seymour Hersh slams Seymore Hersh's New Yorker expose The Coming Wars. In his column, Boot claims Hersh ... is the journalistic equivalent of Oliver Stone: a hard-left zealot who subscribes to the old counterculture conceit that a deep, dark conspiracy is running the U.S. government. ... It's hard to know why anyone would take seriously a "reporter" whose writings are so full of, in Ted Kennedy's words, "maliciousness and innuendo." That Hersh remains a revered figure in American journalism suggests that the media have yet to recover from the paranoid style of the 1960s.

Boot's column came out AFTER the substance of Hersh's article had been confirmed. Hersh needn't expect an apology any time soon.

Max Boot: it's hard to know why anyone would take seriously a "reporter" whose writings are so full of it.

[Update: I was so busy pissing on Max's boots that I forgot to mention the more important aspect of the PNAC letter: it seems they feel the need to go around George W. Bush to get what they want. Something going on behind the scenes we need to know about? Hmmm...]

posted by Michael Miller at 4:31 PM
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This absurd article from the Tehran Times, headed "Lies of the Holocaust Industry", is now about three days old and it has already been gleefully reproduced in maybe 8 Zionist websites including, of course, MEMRI. It is so mealy mouthed it's hard to draw specific claims from it that are not undermined within the article itself. For example the writer, Hossein Amiri, says:

No one is trying to ignore the suffering of the Jews at the hands of the Nazis, but the suffering of a religious/ethnic group should not cause the world to forget the suffering of another nation or allow those who suffered persecution to do the same injustice to another nation.

Now as a soundbite to reject the notion of the ethnic cleansing of Palestine being, in any way, a just recompense on account of six million Jews being murdered by the Nazis, that may have been fair enough. But Amiri is trying to ignore "the suffering of the Jews at the hands of the Nazis", thus:

After the end of the war in 1945, the Allies along with Zionist leaders began formulating strange conceptions about the killing of Jews at Nazi camps which a modern man can hardly accept. By conjuring up images of gas chambers, they are attempting to convey the idea that the Jews have undergone indescribable torture and that the world’s conscience should be awakened to this issue so that the Jews are not subjected to injustice again.

And this:

The revisionist historians have proven in two decades of study that if Hitler had carried out a systematic program to eradicate the Jews, it would have taken more time than the six years that the war lasted. They have also proven that such an act of ethnic cleansing through the use of the poison gas Zyklon-B, as the Zionists claim, was not possible at the time.

"Revionist historians" is an expression that puts a respectable veneer on that ragbag of wacky flat-earth society eccentrics and neo-Nazis we call holocaust deniers. There are too many of these around it's true but it's mostly the Zionists who give them the publicity they definitely don't deserve. But then Amiri drifts into full-blown libel territory when he lumps Norman Finkestein in with the deniers, so:

Norman J. Finkelstein, a Jewish professor at New York University critical of Zionist policies, has called the claim [that six million Jews were murdered by the Nazis] the "Holocaust Industry", which is only meant to boost support for the government of Israel.

This is far worse than oversimplification. It's a lie. No, it's worse than a lie. Finkestein's only assertion about claims made by the "holocaust industry" about the holocaust itself, is not that the numbers killed have been exaggerated, but that the number, reproductive capacity and longevity of the survivors, has been exaggerated. Professor Finkelstein argues that this exaggeration of the number of survivors comes close to holocaust denial as the more survivors there were, the lower the number killed. And this exaggeration is used to extort money from European states and companies. He does say that the holocaust is used to deflect criticism from Israel and he argues against holocaust uniqueness claims, but nowhere does he suggest that the holocaust involved any less killing of Jews than other reputable historians do, nor does he question the methods used.

What's so bewildering about the mentality underlying this article is that it is so politically, and indeed logically, infantile. The writer correctly states that the holocaust does not justify the ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians, he then goes on to minimise the holocaust thereby giving ammunition to the Zionist movement. In other words, he serves MEMRI.
posted by levi9909 at 7:02 AM
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Friday, January 28, 2005. *
[Pasco Republican leader Bill] Bunting recently asked county commissioners to hang banners with the inscription "In God We Trust," along with American flags, in public meeting rooms at the county's seven libraries.

"It's very simple. It's not political. It involves all parties," Bunting said this week. "This country was founded on Judeo-Christian values. If you're an atheist, and you don't like it, you can put a banner over it and take [the banner] down when you leave."

[Quick tool kit for countering the notion that the USA was founded as a 'Judeo-Christian' nation: (1) (2) (3) (4) (5) (6)... and so on. Or you could keep it simple, non-politial, and inclusive of all parties by simply not hanging the banner in the first place.]
posted by Trevor Blake at 11:46 AM
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When White House counsel Alberto Gonzales was a Texas Supreme Court justice running to stay in office in 2000, he took thousands of dollars in campaign contributions from companies that had business before him and he did not recuse himself from voting on their cases.

The practice is legal in Texas, and Gonzales was not the only judge to benefit from it. But his record in 2000 -- when he raised $539,000 for the Republican primary, outraising his opponent by a 1,047-to-1 ratio -- drew special criticism from an Austin-based group that tracks the influence of money on government.

Gonzales's nomination to be US attorney general was approved yesterday by the Senate Judiciary Committee, which voted 10-8 on party lines to send his confirmation to the Senate floor. Criticism of his nomination has focused on his role in formulating the Bush administration's policies on torture and interrogations.
posted by Trevor Blake at 11:44 AM
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The Children of Iraq
posted by Michael Miller at 11:13 AM
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I've noticed that liberal and moderate writers make the same mistaken assumption about what's causing rightwing Christians to become more actively intolerant towards people who are different from themselves: that intolerance and persecution fly in the face of Christian teachings, hence represent hypocrisy. And if that's all it is, then we need only alert them to this fact and they, being Christians, will be horrified to realize that they've been led astray, repent, and change their ways.

My friend, the truth hurts: Intolerance has become a standard "Christian" teaching in conservative circles and is now a badge of honor. [...] While intolerance was considered a grave sin back when America was marching towards civil rights instead of away from them, today that vice has become-presto!-a virtue. This means that conservative Christians must become increasingly intolerant in order to demonstrate their faith, and the more in-your-face the intolerance is, the better.

[...] Conservative Christians have adopted the warrior mentality of Onward Christian Soldiers, and intolerance is nothing to be hidden under a white robe and pointed white hood: it's to be waved proudly as a flag demonstrating Christian rigor and personal rightness. Indeed, their conscience, their moral values, and their spiritual priorities have been altered, but not by hypocrisy. They've been reversed.

What was wrong is now right. What was down is now up. What was evil is now good. As one writer has pointed out, rhetoricians of Hobbes' day called this reversal of values "paradiastole": the method of rhetorical redescription by which what had been defined as vices could be redescribed as virtues, and vice versa. The radical right has turned paradiastole into an art form.
posted by Trevor Blake at 10:22 AM
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For years, Christian conservatives have backed the GOP for a kiss and a promise. They usually end up with a kiss-off. But that screeching noise from under the GOP's big tent this year is the sound the religious right makes when it tired of turning the other cheek. In a warning as clear as the Ten Commandments, some of President Bush's most ardent supporters have told him to move the anti-gay marriage amendment closer to the top of his domestic agenda or they will withdraw their support for his Social Security reform.

Leading the charge is the Arlington Group, a newly formed coalition of religious leaders who backed the president in part because he claimed he'd fight for the ban. But Bush didn't even mention it in his inaugural address, nor was it listed in a 10-point legislative agenda Republican congressional leaders unveiled this week. The Rev. James Dobson of Focus on the Family, one of the leaders of the Arlington Group, took one look at the GOP agenda and ordered an immediate revision.

"If Republicans," Dobson said in an interview on the Focus on the Family Web site, "do what they've done in the past, which is say 'thanks so much for putting us in power; now we don't want to talk to you anymore,' they will pay a serious price in four or maybe two years." That's pretty tough talk. Considering the clout they brought to this last presidential election, you'd think they were in a position to demand what they want.

[The article goes on to suggest that the Christians have been duped, that the Republicans used them to get in power and are now giving them the finger. The whole thing makes me feel all tingly inside. It's like watching a fist fight between the Ku Klux Klan and the American Nazi Party: no matter who loses, I win by getting to watch two groups I hate hurt each other.]
posted by Trevor Blake at 10:15 AM
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posted by Youngfox at 5:36 AM
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Thursday, January 27, 2005. *
I've come across severals links now with this story, I usually wait till i find it more than once before I shout about it , but it looks like Apparently we had a little problem with the silo doors on 200 of our missiles in Montana last Friday - the things flew open. Silo doors are something other countries watch with spy satellites because one takes a dim view of silo doors popping open: they're only supposed to open when missiles are about to launch. Doors popping open presents the risk that other countries will launch-on-warning, which, as the old bumper sticker had it, can ruin your whole day.


Posted by: Uncle $cam | January 28,
posted by Uncle $cam at 11:29 PM
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So either Wolfowitz/Cheney/Rumsfeld aren't working fast enough over here to get the ball rolling on the invasion of Iran, or Wolfowitz/Cheney/Rumsfeld asked Israel to get it going for them, seeing as how even they must acknowledge by now that their administration has no credibility when it comes to talking their country into invading another.

So how long until the next American invasion of a sovereign state? Until we make even more of a mockery of everything the United Nations was supposed to have been created for after WWII (you remember that war, right? the war some neocon strategist told everyone to keep bringing up because it would remind you of the "good war," and not the most recent "bad war" of Vietnam--except of course, what the Ann Coulters and Bushes don't bring up when they use the WWII "glory" image to frame their completely inglorious and greedy rape of Iraq's natural resources while pilfering the US Treasury [not even a triple violent penetration pre-snuff scene can dramatize the Bush administration's treatment of the world ala evil porn imagery] is that WWII does, actually, have some special resemblances to the Bush Admin in that: a) Bush's grandfather raised money for the Nazis, and b) the last time somebody argued in court that they could invade another country in 'self-defense' was the Nazis at Nuremberg).

So Israel--who has nukes--is complaining about another country attaining nukes. Once again, folks, it's the Haves versus the Have-nots. And Israel keeps having more land! When you start taking old fairy tales literally, crazy things start to happen! One religious fundamentalist stands in an abandoned doorway behind a large piece of cardboard whose biggest words read: HELL IS REAL. Another religious fundamentalist looks like a human bulldog, has been linked to genocide as early as 20 years ago, and keeps stealing people's land while telling lies. And yet another religious fundamentalist has friends who own voting machines and their non-open source software who can keep him and his dynasty bloodline in the White House forever. And these people have power over us? These people will decide to kill more American kids and foreign civilians based on logic that couldn't hotwire a match? UNACCOUNTED US TAXPAYER MONEY: TENS OF BILLIONS. DEAD FOREIGNERS: WHY THE HELL SHOULD WE CARE?

Not only is Iran next, but so is your American kid.

The first fundie was right about hell. Not only is it real but you can watch it from the inside on Fox. Iran Bad. We Good. Let's Start the Bombing!
posted by Dr. Menlo at 9:54 PM
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Education Secretary Margaret Spellings has asked the Public Broadcasting Service to refund taxpayer dollars used to create and distribute an episode of a cartoon program that features lesbian parents, saying the subject matter was inappropriate and undermines the show's effort to promote literacy. [...] It features a lesbian couple with adopted children in Vermont who accompany Buster to a sugarhouse, where maple syrup is made, and to a dairy farm, where they watch a cow being milked. [...] In a letter to PBS President and Chief Executive Officer Pat Mitchell, Mrs. Spellings insisted that all references to Education Department funding and sponsorship be deleted from the program credits and "any materials about the program," such as teacher guides and student workbooks. [...] Lea Sloan, a PBS spokeswoman, downplayed the furor yesterday, saying Boston PBS affiliate WGBH, which produces the show, still would air the episode on an unspecified date. "There will be no reference to PBS or Department of Education or Ready-to-Learn support," she said. PBS will deliver 40 "Postcards From Buster" episodes under a $99.7 million department grant that began in 2000, as agreed, "and will not include the 'Sugartime!' episode," Miss Sloan said, referring to title of the disputed episode.

[Focus on the Family was responsible for the complaints to Spelling.]
posted by Trevor Blake at 11:55 AM
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"History will salute it in kind: the US administration of George W Bush, parts 1 and 2, has introduced to the world the concept of election at gunpoint. The guinea pig: Iraq, on January 30. The rules: candidates must be anonymous (otherwise they will be killed). Voters cannot go out and vote (otherwise they may be killed). Even if they wanted to vote, they wouldn't know where, because the location of the polling stations will be known only the night before the election. 

There has got to be some word coined for the Sham that is a Farce wrapped up in and stinking of Bullshit that is this election.
posted by platts42 at 11:21 AM
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A Londonder made a tsnuami-relief donation using lynx -- a text-based browser used by the blind, Unix-users and others -- on Sun's Solaris operating system. The site-operator decided that this "unusual" event in the system log indicated a hack-attempt, and the police broke down the donor's door and arrested him.
posted by A.Q. at 11:15 AM
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"'It's helpful for me to see just what he was facing, to understand the things he was going through,' said Joe Colgan, 63, yesterday after watching a screening of the upcoming war documentary, Gunner Palace.

"Filmed by former Seattle resident Michael Tucker, the movie shows the Army's 2nd Battalion, 3rd Field Artillery Regiment, riding patrols and conducting raids in a dangerous section of Baghdad in early autumn of 2003.

"Among the soldiers is Lt. Ben Colgan, 30, a 1991 graduate of Des Moines' Mount Rainier High School. Colgan was killed by a roadside bomb Nov. 1, 2003, just weeks after he was filmed in Iraq. Besides his parents, he left behind four brothers, three sisters, two daughters and a wife pregnant with their third child."
posted by mr damon at 1:55 AM
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"As 50,000 people marched through Porto Alegre, in southern Brazil, to mark the opening of the annual World Social Forum on developing country issues, a report from ActionAid was set to highlight how power in the world food industry has become concentrated in a few hands.

"The report will say that 30 companies now account for a third of the world's processed food; five companies control 75% of the international grain trade; and six companies manage 75% of the global pesticide market.

"It finds that two companies dominate sales of half the world's bananas, three trade 85% of the world's tea, and one, Wal-mart, now controls 40% of Mexico's retail food sector. It also found that Monsanto controls 91% of the global GM seed market.

"Household names including Nestlé, Monsanto, Unilever, Tesco, Wal-mart, Bayer and Cargill are all said to have expanded hugely in size, power and influence in the past decade directly because of the trade liberalisation policies being advanced by the US, Britain and other G8 countries whose leaders are meeting this week in Davos, Switzerland."

Archived Guardian articles on globalization
posted by mr damon at 1:30 AM
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BushCheney 2.0.005: "I firmly planted the flag of liberty"
"Bush urged Iraqis to vote and to 'defy these terrorists.' He said: 'They're afraid of a free society...' [a fear that any US president could relate to, I'm sure -Ed.] Mr Bush portrayed the Iraq polls as a step towards the goal of defeating tyranny around the world, as he pledged in his inaugural address last week.

"'I firmly planted the flag of liberty for all to see that the United States of America hears their concerns and believes in their aspirations,' he said. 'And I am excited by the challenge and am honoured to be able to lead our nation in the quest of this noble goal, which is freeing people in the name of peace."


"A veteran counselor in past elections in other countries held under violent conditions, Carina Perelli, the director of the electoral assistance division for the United Nations, said 'Iraqi citizens are faced with a very tough position -- one faced before them by the Timorese voters and the Salvadoran voters and the Afghan voters -- of basically having to confront their fears and their hopes and decide by themselves whether they consider their election important enough in order to risk their lives and go and vote. In an ideal world, it would be good if this dilemma were not present, but unfortunately it is.'

"Ms. Perelli said that 21 million ballots had been printed for the national and local council elections and an additional 4.5 million for the separate vote for the Kurdish assembly in the north.

"She said there would be 5,300 voting centers, all of them staffed by party agents and national poll watchers. 'For us, this is extremely important,' she said, "because it shows that beyond the interest of the various political entities, Iraqi civil society has responded to this challenge and is participating in rather impressive numbers, considering the risks.'"
posted by mr damon at 1:11 AM
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Wednesday, January 26, 2005. *
I [Salmon Rushdie] was in Washington just before the Iraq war began and was invited to speak to groups of senators of both parties. The most obvious distinction between the Democrats and the Republicans was that the Republicans used exclusively religious language. They discussed why they hadn't seen each other at a certain prayer meeting.


The idea that any kind of free society can be constructed in which people will never be offended or insulted, have the right to call on the law to defend them against being offended or insulted, is absurd. In the end a fundamental decision needs to be made: do we want to live in a free society or not? Democracy is not a tea party where people sit around making polite conversation. In democracies people get extremely upset with each other. They argue vehemently against each other's positions. (But they don't shoot.)

At Cambridge I was taught a laudable method of argument: you never personalise, but you have absolutely no respect for people's opinions. You are never rude to the person, but you can be savagely rude about what the person thinks. That seems to me a crucial distinction: people must be protected from discrimination by virtue of their race, but you cannot ring-fence their ideas. The moment you say that any idea system is sacred, whether it's a belief system or a secular ideology, the moment you declare a set of ideas to be immune from criticism, satire, derision, or contempt, freedom of thought becomes impossible.

posted by Trevor Blake at 8:32 PM
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From Meet the Press for January 24, 2005. Speaking here are Representative Bill Thomas (Republican of California, Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee) and host Tim Russert.

MR. RUSSERT: Let me show you something else you said at the National Journal Forum that raised some eyebrows: "Women are living longer relative to men today than they were in 1940. Yet, we never ever have debated gender-adjusting Social Security. ...But, at some point if the age difference continues to separate and more women are in the workforce and you have more of an equality of pay structure in the workforce, at some point somebody might want to suggest that we need to take a look at the question of whether or not actuarially we ought to adjust who gets what, when, and how."

A gender adjustment - what does that mean?

REP. THOMAS: Well, it was one of my ways of getting people to focus on the issue of age. To move from 65 to 68, which we did in 1983, was a benefit cut. But it also creates hardships based upon the occupation that you have, and it creates inequities on who you are and how long you live. You could just as easily have a discussion about occupations as to when would be a fair or an unfair time to require. We also need to examine, frankly, Tim, the question of race in terms of how many years of retirement do you get based upon your race? And you ought not to just leave gender off the table because that would be a factor.

Now, there are people who are saying, "Gee, this is great. We can get them into a box and maybe we can win some seats in the next election over this issue." This ought not to be about the next election. This is about how we have an opportunity given to us by the president, his willingness to work with us to solve some problems that are here and now, but will only get worse. If we're not in a crisis now, we're in a problem. Wait a few years. We will be in a crisis. We ought to examine all opportunities to solve the problem. Then we can dismiss them. But to not look at them denies us an opportunity to have yet another way to solve our problem.

MR. RUSSERT: So if someone is a woman and they live longer, they would get less per year?

REP. THOMAS: It's not that you would do it; it's something that you need to look at.
posted by Trevor Blake at 7:44 PM
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"Then it dawned on me--It feels good to be smug. Righteousness feels good. Then it dawned on me, Bush was giving the Republicans of America what I wanted from my Blackspots, external validation that I'm doing good. Bush is telling people that they are making the world a better place."
posted by Klintron at 6:49 PM
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Whether you think women in the military should have the same role as men or instead pose a dangerous "distraction," the Army's new deployment of women in front line combat "support" shows starkly how overextended our Iraq venture is. Women make up about 10 percent of forces in Iraq.

from today's Boston Globe:
The Army maintains that it has not changed the overall Pentagon policy regarding women in combat, which limits women to serving on surface ships and in attack aircraft. But internal Army documents indicate the service is ignoring a 1994 regulation barring women from serving alongside units that conduct offensive operations.

Current US law prohibits women from serving in combat units.

VIA Girl in the Locker Room!
posted by RHerman at 7:14 AM
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The religious conservative right in this country never ceases to provide me with entertaining and terrifying things to write about. Today's topic: the No Name-Calling Week.

From CNN's article:
The initiative was developed by the New York-based Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network, which seeks to ensure that schools safely accommodate students of all sexual orientations. GLSEN worked with James Howe, the openly gay author of "The Misfits" and many other popular children's books.

"Gay students aren't the only kids targeted -- this isn't about special rights for them," Howe said. "But the fact is that 'faggot' is probably the most common insult at schools."

"The Misfits" deals with four much-taunted middle schoolers -- one of them gay -- who run for the student council on a platform advocating an end to nasty name-calling.

That seems reasonable, right? That's because it is reasonable. It's perfectly reasonable to want the children in America to learn tolerance and respect for other human beings. Respect and tolerance have been the goals of many a fine movement. So who's trying to stop this?

"I hope schools will realize it's less an exercise in tolerance than a platform for liberal groups to promote their pan-sexual agenda," said Robert Knight, director of Concerned Women for America's Culture and Family Institute.

"Schools should be steering kids away from identifying as gay," Knight said. "You can teach civility to kids and tell them every child is valued without conveying the message that failure to accept homosexuality as normal is a sign of bigotry."

While it was started by GLSEN, it's also been backed by many, many groups that have no special place reserved for homosexuality, or a 'pan-sexual agenda.' For instance, the Girl Scouts, which as far as I can tell was not designed to be a training ground for lesbianism.

Actually, let's look at just a few of the supporters of the No Name-Calling Week:
  • American Arab Anti-Discrimination Gay Committee
  • Council for Children with Behavioral Gay Disorders
  • National Urban League Gay
  • Girl Scouts of the Gay U.S.A.
  • National Association of Gay School Nurses
  • Asian Pacific Islanders For Human Rights (gay-sounding)
  • Simon & Schuster Children's Gay Publishing
  • National Association of Secondary Gay School Principals
  • Big Brothers Big Sisters of Homo America
  • Anti-Defamation League (of Gay)
  • National Association for Gifted Children (nerds, close to gay)
Holy Shit! Maybe they're right! These groups are obviously promoting a terrifying pan-sexual agenda! Probably even metrosexual! Oh, wait, my point of view accidentally shifted to being religious and conservative for a moment. I apologize.

One of GLSEN's most persistent critics is Warren Throckmorton, director of counseling at Grove City College, a Christian school outside Pittsburgh. His skeptical comments about "No Name-Calling Week" have been widely circulated this month on conservative Web sites.

"There's no question middle school can be a difficult place -- I'm not advocating that any group gets mistreated," Throckmorton said in a telephone interview.

"But it will definitely make traditionally oriented teachers and parents and kids feel very uncomfortable, if they happen to object to homosexuality on moral grounds," he said of GLSEN's program. "If you disagree, you're hateful, you're bigoted, you're a homophobe. They're using name-calling to combat name-calling."

I hate to be a bringer of bad news, but Throckmorton is right. If you disagree with the idea of tolerance, whether it be for sexual preference or not, it does make you hateful, bigoted, and/or homophobic. Morals are a tricky area, but I don't think anti-homosexuality can be reasonably argued against with only morals. Religious values, yes; morals and ethics, no. Morals and religious values are not the same thing, and I'd like to see that maxim written on a plaque in front of every courthouse in Georgia.

Lastly, they are not using name-calling to combat name-calling. They're allowing for tolerance for all beliefs, even as biased and bigoted as Throckmorton's apparently are, and promoting tolerance by asking kids to think twice before swinging the verbal bats at each other. It's No Name-Calling Week, not No Discussion-of-Lifestyle Week; it's hoping to prevent verbal abuse. If your beliefs require you to verbally abuse another human being, or to bully someone whose lifestyle you object to, perhaps you should rethink some things.

At the moment, part of the objections seem to come from an attitude that conservative/ religious/ homophobes cannot support anything that tolerance and gay-rights organizations also support. This isn't a gay issue, it's a tolerance issue that happened to have been opened up by a gay rights group; perhaps the real objection could be association, and the feeling that by joining forces (even on as tangental a movement as this), that's somehow being supportive of all things homo. I have a feeling that if No Name-Calling Week were started by the RNC, minus inspiration from "The Misfits," we'd hear nary a whisper about it from these people.

Next, Throckmorton will likely boycott rainbows, Spongebob, and fashion.
posted by The Retropolitan at 6:59 AM
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Tuesday, January 25, 2005. *
Creating Monsters With Dope
Any readers ever see a tweaker on a run?

Use of "performance enhancing" drugs in the military:

Although the Air Force Surgeon General's office recently acknowledged that "prescribed drugs are sometimes made available to counter the effects of fatigue," it is not publicly known how widespread the practice is or whether special-operations forces on the ground in Afghanistan are taking such drugs. But it is certainly widely talked about among combat veterans and military experts. "Given the extent of recreational drug use within the military, and the use of performance-enhancing drugs among athletes, it is very easy to imagine that warriors would consider using any manner of drug they thought would increase their chance of returning home alive," says John Pike, a defense expert with in Alexandria, Va.

From the New Scientist:

Software and amphetamines

Nevertheless, the military is looking at ways to ensure that troops remain alert, including the development of computer programs that will monitor troops' sleep patterns. The US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency is even trying to find out if it is possible to stop soldiers needing any sleep at all.

For the moment, stimulants are the only way to counter sleep deprivation. Most controversial is the use of amphetamines by pilots.

Lawyers for one of two US pilots who killed four Canadians in a friendly fire incident in Afghanistan blame the drugs, claiming the pilot was forced to take them and that they are known to impair judgement. It is not yet clear if any of the pilots involved in the friendly fire incidents in Iraq, or the various helicopter accidents, were sleep-deprived or on amphetamines.

What that stuff does:

The brain damage caused by amphetamine use is still noticeable years later, say experts.

In fact, users undergo similar brain chemical changes to patients suffering from Alzheimer's Disease, stroke or brain tumours.

The most evil part:

Pilots, after being tested for drug tolerance, are also asked to sign a consent form, which was also obtained by The Star.

Entitled "Informed Consent For Operational Use of Dexedrine," it begins by saying: "It has been explained to me and I understand that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has not approved the use of Dexedrine to manage fatigue ... (and) I further understand that the decision to take this medication is mine alone."

Air force insiders say the pilots really do not have a choice in taking the drug. The form states that "should I choose not to take it under circumstances where its use appears indicated ... my commander, upon advice of the flight surgeon, may determine whether or not I should be considered unfit to fly a given mission."

It looks like he's grinding his teeth the way tweakers do when they've had too much dope. The bug eyed look is also typical.

posted by Deleted at 8:44 AM
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Iraqi forces accused of torturing detainees
Iraqi security forces stand accused by a leading international human rights organisation of committing systematic torture against detainees, raising alarm over the conduct of Iraq's post-war interim government less than a week before the country's first democratic elections.

In a report issued on Tuesday, the New York-based Human Rights Watch calls on the Iraqi government to investigate widespread abuses and urges the US to increase the number of advisers at detention centres run by the Iraqi ministry of the interior.

“The Iraqi interim government, led by Prime Minister Iyad Allawi and presented to the international community as a sign that the violence and abuses of the Saddam Hussein government are a thing of the past, appears to be actively taking part, or is at least complicit, in these grave violations of fundamental human rights,” says the report.

“Nor has the United States, the UK, or other involved governments publicly taken up these issues as a matter of concern.” Sabah Kathim, spokesman for the interior minister in Baghdad, on Monday said he had never come across “complaints of this nature to the police” or even a single case of torture. He said allegations would be investigated, but that he was sceptical of a report issued days before the election.

blah, blah...and so on.
posted by platts42 at 8:11 AM
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I'm sure that you've heard by now that Spongebob Squarepants is going to burn alongside the rest of the tormented for all eternity, since Dr. James Dobson of Focus on the Family decided that he was being used to promote the gay lifestyle -- because Spongebob and his friend Patrick hold hands, occasionally wear fishnets stockings, and play catch with cans of lubricant. (I just made that last one up.) Luckily for the souls of our animated friends, the United Church of Christ (via their president Rev. John A. Thomas) has forgiven them, accepted who they are, and welcomed them into the loving folds of the church. (Click on the link for a nice picture of 'the welcoming.')

Except that they're cartoooooooons, which means that they're much more likely to have their paper and cell sheets recycled into newspapers and soda bottles than actually end up in Heaven. Apparently, that doesn't matter to Christ.

Is the state of religion so unfortunate, where they have officially run out of real people to discriminate against? We all know science is bad, gays are bad, atheists are bad, people that have sex are bad, people that work on Sunday are bad, Buddhists are bad, people that work in the movie industry are bad, and, well, all of America other than them is bad. Must they begin telling us which fictional characters are not allowed into Heaven? I fear for any male character from Victorian literature.

Dr. Dobson contends that he doesn't object to Spongebob, only that he fears that thinly-veiled gay subtext of the show is being used to promote a gay-friendly lifestyle to those that wouldn't understand it. That's right, he objects to a mostly asexual character being used to promote tolerance to children who (as of yet) have not been indoctrinated to hate gay people. Fucking Spongebob! Oh, I know I'd hate it if my children were being taught not to hate other people before I could teach them to hate other people.

I suppose Dr. Dobson would've been okay with Spongebob, had he not only been depicted holding hands with Patrick, but also as a vicious atheist fishnet-wearing drug dealer gunned down by a brave, God-fearin' octopus. At least that way, kids would learn a lesson. Then again, octopi have tentacles, and tentacles could remind one of...nah. They wouldn't stoop that low.
posted by The Retropolitan at 7:56 AM
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Tyranny is not the issue. It's poverty.
"Global poverty can be cut in half by 2015 and eliminated by 2025 if the world's richest countries, including the United States, Japan and Germany, more than double aid to the poorest countries, hundreds of development experts concluded in a report on 17 Jan 2005.

"'What we're proposing is a strategy of investment to help empower the lives of very poor people that lack the tools and sometimes even the basic means to stay alive, much less be productive members of a fast-paced world economy,' said professor Jeffrey Sachs, head of the U.N. anti-poverty effort and lead author of the report.

"The investments range from schools, clinics, safe water and sanitation to fertilizer, roads, electricity and transport to get goods to market.

"'The system is not working right now -- let's be clear," Sachs said. 'There's a tremendous imbalance of focus on the issues of war and peace, and less on the dying and suffering of the poor who have no voice.'

"In 1970, the world's nations agreed to provide 0.7 percent of their gross national income for development assistance, and that figure was reaffirmed by the U.N. conference on financing development in Mexico in 2002.

"So far, only five countries have met or surpassed the target -- Denmark, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway and Sweden."

See also:
The other tsunami: debt and domination
posted by mr damon at 1:20 AM
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"President Bush is getting ready to ask Congress for an additional $80 billion for conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, as budget analysts prepare new estimates of the federal deficits that would have loomed even without the wars.

"An $80 billion request would push the total provided to the Defense Department so far for those wars and for U.S. efforts against terrorism elsewhere in the world to more than $280 billion [that seems low. -Ed.]. An additional $25 billion has been provided to rebuild Iraq and Afghanistan, all but $4 billion for Iraq.

"The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office was expected to project Tuesday that federal shortfalls over the next decade will total perhaps $1 trillion less than the $2.3 trillion it estimated last September, said congressional aides of both parties.

"The agency was also expected to project that this year's shortfall would be close to the $348 billion it forecast last fall. If accurate, that would be the third-largest deficit ever in dollar terms, behind only last year's $412 billion and the $377 billion gap of 2003.

"The deficit estimates for 2005 and for the next 10 years, however, were excluding war costs and other expenses, thanks to quirks in the way the law requires the budget office to make its estimates.

"Also omitted were the price tags of Bush's goal of revamping Social Security, which could cost $1 trillion to $2 trillion, and dominate this year's legislative agenda; an estimated $1.8 trillion for extending Bush's tax cuts and easing the impact the alternative minimum tax would have on middle-income Americans; and other expenses."
posted by mr damon at 1:10 AM
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Monday, January 24, 2005. *
The Women of Abu Ghraib
The next issue of The American Prospect will contain an article about the alleged rape of female Iraqi prisoners by their American captors. The article, "Unusual Suspects", written by Tara McKelvey, marks the first time that this story was dealt with head on in the mainstream US media -- rumors and one-sentence allusions to these sorts of abuses appeared in news articles throughout the spring of 2004, but until now there has not been an exposé like this one in the United States.

The meat of the article draws from McKelvey's interviews with several women who were detained at Abu Ghraib and elsewhere. Most of these women are plaintiffs in a pair of class-action lawsuits against the Titan Corporation and CACI International, two of the private companies to which the Pentagon farmed out its interrogation work. CACI, you might recall, was the company that sicced lawyers on the New Standard. Here's a representative excerpt from "Unusual Suspects":

When Selwa talks about Abu Ghraib and the detention facilities, her voice is soft.

"Whenever I remember, it's like a fire goes out," she says. "Once I saw the guards hit a woman, probably 30 years old. They put her in an open area and said, "Come out so you can see her." They pulled her by the hair and poured ice water on her. She was screaming and shouting and crying as they poured water into her mouth. They left her there all night. There was another girl; the soldiers said she wasn't honest with them. They said she gave them wrong information. When I saw her, she had electric burns all over her body." [ ... ]

Asked if she was ever forced to take her clothes off, she leans back and pulls her jacket over her chest and covers part of her face with her hand. She looks downward and bites her thumb. Her eyes are half-closed, and her shoulders are slumped.

"I don't remember," she says. She folds her arms across her chest and her eyes fill with tears. She stares at the ground. A few minutes later, she excuses herself and leaves the room. [ ... ]

Sundus explains how Selwa and Selwa's sister came to her last August. Selwa said she wanted to speak about her detention privately. Her sister left the room. Then Selwa sat down with Sundus. "They did everything bad to me, and may God take them all to hell," Selwa told her. "She began to weep bitterly," recalls Sundus. "She didn't tell the truth to her family."

McKelvey's piece is certainly a positive step towards pulling the real Abu Ghraib scandal back out of the memory hole, towards rolling back the "few bad apples" propaganda campaign that has successfully hidden the extent of the atrocities that took place, and presumably still take place, in our new American gulags -- but I have one problem with it: I think McKelvey could have done a better job of corroborating the claims of her interviewees by mentioning more facts on the public record that support the idea that women and children were raped at Abu Ghraib.

As the article stands, the women's statements seem to float in a vacuum disconnected from the body of the Abu Ghraib narrative, and thus seem less credible than they should, given that these accounts are well supported by other sources. In particular, I wish she would have brought up several events from last spring and summer that led to a brief moment when it appeared (to me at least) that pressure from the blogosphere might push allegations of the rape of children at Abu Ghraib into the mainstream media spotlight: Seymour Hersh's ACLU speech, the German TV magazine Report Mainz's exposé about women and children in Abu Ghraib, and the resulting media fall out. Here are my posts covering these stories from last year, "The Children of Abu Ghraib" and "The Children of Abu Ghraib Redux".

The key point to be gleaned from the pair of old posts is that when McKelvey quotes Multi-National Force spokesman Barry Johnson as saying "There are no allegations of rape by any female detainees. ... If we have allegations and they're brought to us, we would open the case", Johnson is making a statement that is so at odds with the public record that the only reason he can get away with it is because the media didn't do its job last spring. There are allegations of rape that were not just made by detainees but by "U.S. military officials" and not just rape but rape on videotape -- videotape that still presumably exists -- and these allegations were even mentioned briefly on national television. Here's an excerpt from the transcript of MSNBC's coverage of Rumsfeld's appearance before the Senate Armed Services Committee:

MIKLASZEWSKI [,NBC PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT (voice over)]: Rumsfeld then dropped a bomb, revealing that there were more photos, even videos depicting abuses far worse than what has been seen so far.

RUMSFELD: There are other photos that depict incidents of physical violence towards prisoners, acts that can only be described as blatantly sadistic, cruel, and inhuman.

MIKLASZEWSKI: U.S. military officials tell NBC News, the unreleased images, show American soldiers severely beating one Iraqi prisoner to near death; apparently, raping an Iraqi female prisoner; acting inappropriately with a dead body; and Iraqi guards apparently videotaped by U.S. soldiers raping young boys.

SEN. LINDSAY GRAHAM, SOUTH CAROLINA: We're talking about rape and murder here, we're not just talking about giving people a humiliating experience, we're talking about rape and murder and some very serious charges.

Lindsay Graham is correct in the above; we had been talking about rape and murder, at least some of us, but as 2004 eased into 2005 if anyone talks about Abu Ghraib at all anymore they tend to talk about sexual humiliation and the trials of a few bad apples. Maybe McKelvey's piece will do something to change that, but, somehow, I doubt it.
posted by Joe at 5:30 PM
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How to steal valuable land:

1. Create a "law" which says that absentee landlords shall lose the deed to their land.

2. Create a "separation barrier" which cuts people off from their land

3. Sieze the land

From Ha'aretz:
The Sharon government implemented the Absentee Property Law in East Jerusalem last July, contrary to Israeli government policy since Israeli law was extended to East Jerusalem after the Six Day War. The law means that thousands of Palestinians who live in the West Bank will lose ownership of their property in East Jerusalem.

Government officials estimate the assets total thousands of dunam, while other estimates say they could add up to half of all East Jerusalem property.
posted by A.Q. at 11:57 AM
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Well, that Abu Musab al-Zarqawi is at is again, spouting off on why democracy is a threat to the world -- well, not the world, really, but to Islam. Which one could presume he construes as the world, anyway. Here's his take on the democratic devil:
"We have declared a bitter war against democracy and all those who seek to enact it," said the speaker in the 35-minute message.

"Democracy is also based on the right to choose your religion," he said, and that is "against the rule of God."

Oh. I was wondering about that. Unfortunately, he forgot to specify which God he was referring to (and just saying "The One True God" doesn't count.)

I guess when Abu Musab al-Zarqawi finally wins against the occupation and takes over Iraq, they can expect much in the way of faith-based initiatives, strongly slanted to promote one religion over the other. And around the holidays, I doubt there'll be much of an uproar about the lack of nativity scenes in the local shopping malls.
posted by The Retropolitan at 5:24 AM
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Sunday, January 23, 2005. *
Well at the time of writing they have. But, if a certain Russian-Israeli journalist has his way, they won't have them for long. According to Marian Belenki, the threat of castration should force Arabs (the article says Israeli Arabs) to leave the country. In the Russian Israeli newspaper Novosti, he also advocated other ways to decrease the Arab birthrate. The editor of Novosti has apologised for the "grave mistake":

However, what is even more surprising than the fact that the piece got published, is that the paper did not receive any responses from readers or public representatives of the Russian community. It should be noted that the paper is one of two leading dailies of the Russian community in Israel.

This reminds me of when Sharansky first arrived in Israel from the Soviet Union, poet and story teller, Michael Rosen, said that the Palestinians said "Hey Sharansky, what about our freedom?" to which Sharansky replied "sorry I took it all".
posted by levi9909 at 3:45 PM
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posted by Deleted at 3:36 PM
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Part One

"The Pentagon, expanding into the CIA's historic bailiwick, has created a new espionage arm and is reinterpreting U.S. law to give Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld broad authority over clandestine operations abroad, according to interviews with participants and documents obtained by The Washington Post.

"The previously undisclosed organization, called the Strategic Support Branch, arose from Rumsfeld's written order to end his 'near-total dependence on CIA' for what is known as human intelligence. Designed to operate without detection and under the defense secretary's direct control, the Strategic Support Branch deploys small teams of case officers, linguists, interrogators and technical specialists alongside newly empowered special operations forces.

"Military and civilian participants said in interviews that the new unit has been operating in secret for two years -- in Iraq, Afghanistan and other places they declined to name. According to an early planning memorandum to Rumsfeld from Gen. Richard B. Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the focus of the intelligence initiative is on 'emerging target countries such as Somalia, Yemen, Indonesia, Philippines and Georgia.' Myers and his staff declined to be interviewed.

"The Strategic Support Branch was created to provide Rumsfeld with independent tools for the 'full spectrum of humint operations,' according to an internal account of its origin and mission. Human intelligence operations, a term used in counterpoint to technical means such as satellite photography, range from interrogation of prisoners and scouting of targets in wartime to the peacetime recruitment of foreign spies. A recent Pentagon memo states that recruited agents may include 'notorious figures' whose links to the U.S. government would be embarrassing if disclosed.

"Perhaps the most significant shift is the Defense Department's bid to conduct surreptitious missions, in friendly and unfriendly states, when conventional war is a distant or unlikely prospect -- activities that have traditionally been the province of the CIA's Directorate of Operations. Senior Rumsfeld advisers said those missions are central to what they called the department's predominant role in combating terrorist threats."

Part Two

"Col. George Waldroup, an Army reserve officer who commands the Defense Intelligence Agency's Strategic Support Branch, is described by associates as a colorful Texan who refers to himself in the third person, as 'GW.'

"Among skeptics of the Pentagon's intelligence initiatives, including members of two elite special operations units interviewed for this article, Waldroup is controversial. His ascent to a top espionage post from a civilian career at the Immigration and Naturalization Service is a cautionary tale, according to them, about the risks of rapid expansion in the staffing and mission of clandestine units.

"Waldroup, according to two people who have worked with him, refers loosely to previous secret assignments but is not a graduate of the Army's Special Warfare Center or the CIA's Field Tradecraft Course for intelligence officers. Until last year, colleagues said, Waldroup managed the transportation and security of search teams seeking weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, arranging the convoys that took them in and out of their base near Baghdad International Airport.

"Waldroup and his subordinates are central to Rumsfeld's plan to empower the U.S. Special Operations Command for intelligence missions it has not performed before."
posted by mr damon at 12:41 PM
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"In the years since I first swore to preserve, protect and defend our Constitution, our nation has been tested. Our enemies have found America more than equal to the task. In response to attacks on our home soil, we have captured or killed terrorists across the Earth. We have taken unprecedented steps to secure our homeland from future attacks, and our troops have liberated millions from oppression.

"At home, thanks to pro-growth policies and the hard work of the American people, we overcame a recession and created over 2 million new jobs in the past year alone. Now we move forward. We remain in a war the United States will continue to lead -- fighting terrorists abroad, so we do not have to face them here at home. We will strive to keep the world's most dangerous weapons out of the hands of terrorists and tyrants [and while striving to amass, test and market them here in said homeland]. And our nation will stand by the peoples of Afghanistan and Iraq as they build free and democratic societies in their own lands -- because when America gives its word, America must keep its word.


"As I stated in my inaugural address, our security at home increasingly depends on the success of liberty abroad. So we will continue to promote freedom, hope and democracy in the broader Middle East -- and by doing so, defeat the despair, hopelessness and resentments that feed terror."
posted by mr damon at 7:09 AM
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German pranksters have planted 2,000-3,000 miniature US flags and pictures of Bush in piles of dog poo in public parks.

via BoingBoing, news article here.
posted by ben at 5:48 AM
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Saturday, January 22, 2005. *
President Boxer blog launches
Usually when I post here, it's to tell you about one of my new political poems or song parodies at
Mad Kane's Notables. But not today.

The purpose of today's post is to lure you over to the newly launched
President Boxer. It's a group blog which I started in "honor" of Bush's 2nd inaugural.

It features commentary, news, and humor championing Senator Barbara Boxer as our next U.S. President. Additionally, it's a forum where we can hold Democrat lawmakers accountable and let them know that (1) they need to have a spine and (2) there's support for Democrats who courageously stand their ground on liberal issues.

So please stop by President Boxer and let us know what you think. And if our topics interest you, perhaps you'll even want to join our group of (so far) eight bloggers.
posted by Mad Kane at 10:59 PM
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With eight of nine US Supreme Court Justices over 65 and one seriously ill with cancer, much of the country is understandably focused on the possibility that their soon-to-be-appointed replacements will overturn the decision upholding the right to abortion. But in Mississippi, in many ways, Roe has already fallen. Abortion is legal here, of course, as it must be throughout the country while the landmark ruling stands. Yet, for many women, the ability to terminate a pregnancy is out of reach, buried under state laws that make the process unnecessarily difficult, discouraged by a sense of shame enforced by practically every public authority, and inaccessible for many who lack money to pay for it.

With the third-highest teen pregnancy rate in the country, Mississippi's low number of abortions is not an illustration of the 'safe, legal and rare' ideal that many talk about, in which a decline in unwanted pregnancies creates a corresponding drop in abortions. Rather, it is the direct consequence of concerted opposition to abortion from the grassroots to all levels of government.

Such concern for the rights of fetuses does not appear to translate into a commitment to promoting the well-being of the children they may become. The uncomfortable irony for an opposition movement purportedly concerned with saving 'innocent babies' is that restrictions on abortion are associated with worse outcomes for actual babies. Indeed, children fare terribly in Mississippi. The state with arguably the least access to abortion also has the second-highest rate of child poverty in the country, according to the Children's Defense Fund. Mississippi's infant mortality rate--a good indication of the health of both women and children--is the highest in the country. For every 1,000 live births, 10.5 infants under age 1 die in Mississippi. In parts of the impoverished Delta region, that number ranges up to 18. (The national infant mortality rate, by comparison, is 6.8.) Interestingly, a postelection comparison found that 'red' states had higher infant mortality rates than 'blue' ones. In general, states that restrict abortion spend far less money per child than prochoice states on services such as foster care, education, welfare and the adoption of children who have physical and mental disabilities, according to a 2000 book by political scientist Jean Reith Schroedel.

Schroedel also found that women in antiabortion states are worse off than their counterparts in prochoice states. They suffer from lower levels of education, higher levels of poverty, and a larger gender gap in earnings. They are also less likely to enjoy mandated insurance coverage for minimum hospital stays after childbirth. Together, the conditions make for an abysmal reality for women in Mississippi, which came in fifty-first in a 2004 ranking of the status of women in the fifty states and Washington, DC, published by the Institute for Women's Policy Research.

My ironic Bush quote about ending tyranny goes here.
posted by platts42 at 7:11 AM
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Why do you need pictures of the universe when you can just open up the Bible and learn everything you need to know?

Why do you need the ancient library of Alexandria (the world's largest at the time) when you have the Koran?--said the Muslims before they burned it down.
posted by Dr. Menlo at 7:01 AM
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Colbert I. King nails it on Rice
-------- Original Message --------
Subject: Why the Crass Remarks About Rice?
Date: Sat, 22 Jan 2005 09:04:16 -0500

From: Michael Miller


Mr. King,

Regarding Why the Crass Remarks About Rice? By Colbert I. King, January 22, 2005; Page A17

Your column in this morning's Washington Post nails something that's bothered me in recent days about how people view Condoleeza Rice.

You're absolutely right that she's no stooge. Condoleezza Rice is highly intelligent, well educated, and very knowledgable. She's also an idealogue and if she isn't a neocon (as I've seen printed recently), she's close enough.

The Price of Loyalty, pages 80-81

In Kennebunkport in 1998, George H. W. Bush introduced his son to Condoleezza Rice, a political science professor at Standford and the school's provost. The governor was beginning to think about what it might mean to be President. He had insights into only one foreign country thanks to Texas's long shared border with Mexico. Rice teamed up with Paul Wolfowitz, and a tutorial commenced. Over the next year and a half, others were called in, most of whom were part of a small, neoconservative community.

Renditions of what went on in these sessions are sketchy. What the governor knew -- what he learned and from whom -- is mostly limited to comments about his having "good instincts." One exception is from the loquacious Richard Perle, a fellow at the American Enterprise Institute and former assistant secretary of defense in the Reagan administration, who commented publicly, "The first time I met Bush 43, I knew he was different. Two things became clear. One, he didn't know very much. The other was that he had the confidence to ask questions that revealed he didn't know very much. Most people are reluctant to say when they don't know something, a word or a term they haven't heard before. Not him. You'd raise a point, and he'd say: 'I didn't realize that. Can you explain that?' He was eager to learn."

At this point, the end of January, those who had presided over the inception of many of the ideas that would form the foundation of the administration's foreign policy would preside over their execution.

Cheney would offer oversight and protection. Rumsfeld would be point man. Wolfowitz would back Rumsfeld up from the inside. And from the outside, Richard Perle, heading a special civilian group called the Defense Policy Group, would counsel the Pentagon, the White House, and the CIA.

Boxer's attack notwithstanding, I was extremely disappointed in the Democrats' kid-glove handling of Rice. She is a bald-faced liar and she has no integrity. I'll be happy to impugn her integrity any time; there is more than enough 'ammunition' available in the record to rip her to shreds ON THE MERITS, but the Democrats don't seem to have enough spine (or accurate information) to do it.

Michael Miller
361 Capic Road
Anderson, SC
Public Domain Progress
posted by Michael Miller at 6:53 AM
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I have a few interesting texts and articles about the resistance in Iraq that I want to distill in a future post. But, hungover and exhausted, I now merely wish to offer a few links. First of all, the insurgency is growing , and not because of something Allah's many representatives on earth have had to say:

"The insurgency will grow larger," said Ghazi Bada al Faisal, an employee of the Iraqi Ministry of Industry and a Fallujah resident. "The child whose brother and father were killed in the fighting will now seek revenge."
"Revenge". At least he understands who started this shit.

An excellent new article in the International Socialism journal (unavailable online) describes the trajectory of the resistance and its roots in pre-war political developments. It cheerfully destroys many of the canards of those who support the occupation on the grounds that the resistance is inspired by dreams of a Pax Talibana or a return to Baathism, while also pointing out some of the ways in which the supposedly fatal Sunni-Shi'ite divisions in Iraq have been surmounted by the resistance. However, what I want to draw attention to is a passagew that explains a recent characteristic of the resistance. The article above draws attention to the increasing sophistication of the fighters, which blogger and journalist Robert Lindsay discusses here and here . (They can take out Bradley tanks these days, which - apparently - takes some doing). But in the ISJ article, I encountered this:

In November a fighter from Mosul outlined the impact the assault [on Fallujah] had on resistance strategy: 'If Mosul becomes like Fallujah, and all the people start fighting, the Americans will call in the air force and destroy the city. Many of us feel that guerilla attacks are better than a city-wide insurrection.'
The US could indeed go around destroying city after city. The political consequences of bombing Fallujah have been shockingly slight, albeit this could in part be explained by the sanitary news reports we received on the assault. The pictorial representation of cruelty being meted out by American and now British troops has had much more impact. (By the by, and for those with nothing better to do, I have a little puzzle: Can you describe in ten words or less the priorities of a normally vocal centre-left website that was suddenly struck with aphasia around the time of the Fallujah assault, and yet again finds itself desperately seeking diversion now that the British army - the 'armed wing of Amnesty International' according to Nick Cohen - stands accused of involvement in the torture of Iraqi prisoners, apparently with instructions from on high? Like tourettes victims, they compulsively bark out the same epithets: "Galloway! Stoppers! Scabs! 'Resistance'! Fuckers! Bastards! Arf, arf, arf!! Galloway! Lindsey German!! Bastards! Stalinislamofascistrots!! A-whooo-ooo-oo!!").

Yet, even on its own terms, the strategy of obliteration has been disastrous for the occupation. Fencing off towns with barbed wire, destroying entire cities, mass imprisonment, torture and even the threat of death squads has as to date increased the number and strengthened the resolve of the resistance. So, the strategy now appears to be to accept a possibly pro-Iranian government with a strongly Shi'ite leadership (unthinkable some months back, and actually dismissed as an acceptable outcome by US government figures immediately after the invasion). This, it is assumed, will undermine the nationalist/patriotic appeal of the resistance and transform it into an ethnic civil war. Why else insist on elections for a cardboard assembly (it will have no governing powers) when approximately 3 million Iraqis - in largely Sunni areas - will be unable to vote? By winning over al-Sistani and pacifying al-Sadr, they have demobilised the Shia component of the resistance; by waging all out war in the vast Sunni north, they have intensified the Sunni component.

Still, the right to resist a murderous and morally debased occupation remains not only a moral imperative but also a legitimate right recognised by the United Nations General Assembly , which:

Affirms once again its recognition of the legitimacy of the struggle of the peoples under colonial and alien domination to exercise their right to self-determination and independence by all the necessary means at their disposal. [Emphasis added].
That sounds strangely familiar.

Update - Scott Ritter, card-carrying Republican and former UN weapons inspector, has this to say:

History will eventually depict as legitimate the efforts of the Iraqi resistance to destabilise and defeat the American occupation forces and their imposed Iraqi collaborationist government.

And history will condemn the immorality of the American occupation, which has debased the values and ideals of the American people by legitimising torture, rape and murder as a means of furthering an illegal war of aggression.

posted by Richard Seymour at 6:20 AM
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BushCheney 2.0.002: "What are you worried about?"
"Spokesman Richard Boucher insisted Bush's inaugural speech was a continuation of administration policy that involved no double standards and did not herald new military action after wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

"'I think the president made clear it was not something preceded by force of arms, but rather it's something... to encourage and support movements toward democracy throughout the world wherever we can.'"
posted by mr damon at 4:17 AM
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Norwegians shocked, shocked, by Beelzebubbian display
bush and his horns
posted by mr damon at 3:53 AM
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Getting their Due
getting their due
Ted Warren/AP

"Sgt. First Class Jeff Due, a U.S. Army recruiter, is surrounded by protestors at Seattle Central Community College on Thursday, Jan. 20, 2005. After a 10-minute standoff, during which time the protestors tore up Army literature, Due and another recruiter left their table under escort by campus security officers. Several hundred students walked out of classes at Seattle colleges and universities to protest the inauguration of George W. Bush."
posted by mr damon at 2:48 AM
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Friday, January 21, 2005. *
(Not ours.)
posted by Dr. Menlo at 6:04 AM
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For those of you in the Seattle area ... don't miss Drunk Puppet Night at the Re-Bar. Bizarro political and morbid fun. Through Jan 29th.
posted by ben at 5:18 AM
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Sombody's Watching Me!
posted by Michael Miller at 5:11 AM
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