American Samizdat

Wednesday, January 31, 2007. *

Brian and Kelly are co-founders of the Rational Response Squad. From Brian's basement they broadcast a weekly Internet radio show about God…or the lack thereof.

And recently they came up with a new way to publicize their cause. It is called the Blasphemy Challenge.

"Initially we wanted to find a way to allow atheists to come out of the closet, speak up and show other people that there are people that think like this," Brian says.

What they did was challenge people to make videos of themselves, denying, denouncing or blaspheming the Holy Spirit, and then post them on YouTube.
[more]



I know at least Trevor is ready to take this challenge?

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posted by Dr. Menlo at 10:17 PM
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In an interview this week, the Newshour's Jim Lehrer asked the President the following:

"If it is as important as you've just said -- and you've said it many times -- as all of this is, particularly the struggle in Iraq, if it's that important to all of us and to the future of our country, if not the world, why have you not, as president of the United States, asked more Americans and more American interests to sacrifice something? The people who are now sacrificing are, you know, the volunteer military -- the Army and the U.S. Marines and their families. They're the only people who are actually sacrificing anything at this point."

And here was the President's pathetic but indicative answer:

"Well, you know, I think a lot of people are in this fight. I mean, they sacrifice peace of mind when they see the terrible images of violence on TV every night. I mean, we've got a fantastic economy here in the United States, but yet, when you think about the psychology of the country, it is somewhat down because of this war."

In other words, our President wants -- has always wanted -- most of us to do nothing whatsoever.





Shit, I've been sacrificing peace of mind for most of my life.
posted by Mule at 12:06 PM
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Don't stone women to death, burn them or circumcise them, immigrants wishing to live in the town of Herouxville in Quebec, Canada, have been told. The rules come in a new town council declaration on culture that Muslims have branded shocking and insulting.

[Article continues at link. Of course this is persecution of a religious minority, since there is no connection between Islam and stoning women to death, burning people alive or involuntary genital mutilation.]

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posted by Trevor Blake at 9:02 AM
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McCain: On a more serious note, how did environmentalists contribute to the disaster in New Orleans caused by Hurricane Katrina?

John Berlau: They blocked the building of large steel and concrete floodgates around Lake Pontchartrain that the Corps of Engineers, the ... state congressional delegation, and the New Orleans levee board had all endorsed as being able to provide the best protection against storm surge from hurricanes. The gates were similar to the folding "seagates" that were being built, and now have been built, in the Netherlands that only close during North Sea storms. Like those, these gates would have only closed during severe storms -- blocking water from getting into Lake Pontchartrain and flooding New Orleans. Renowned hurricane experts say these gates would have likely prevented most of Katrina's devastation in New Orleans. But the Environmental Defense Fund (now Environmental Defense) and the Louisiana group Save Our Wetlands persuaded a federal judge to halt the gates in 1977 because of the alleged damage they could do to fish, even though the project had already been granted a thumbs-up in a review from the Environmental Protection Agency.

[Interview continues at link. The moral I get from this is we cannot predict all of the outcomes of our decisions, thus much 'good guy / bad guy' style politics are likely mistaken.]

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posted by Trevor Blake at 8:58 AM
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Tuesday, January 30, 2007. *
ISPs are not*, however, the culprits. Doing the dirty is the BSA (Business Software Alliance) which, "watches all traffic and it sees what IPs are contributing or downloading from various sites."


Fat Fuck
If i were an alien or a speaker of english as a second language, i might soon develop the idea that the word business was a synonym for 'police', 'government', 'corruption' & 'greed".


what is it with businesses? & businessmen?





*well most are not...
posted by Uncle $cam at 10:41 PM
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What they're doing is even worse than Carnivore," said Kevin Bankston, a staff attorney at the Electronic Frontier Foundation who attended the Stanford event. "What they're doing is intercepting everyone and then choosing their targets."


FUCK THE FBI. and fuck googles blogger too!
posted by Uncle $cam at 6:56 PM
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Sir Karl Popper: Excerpt from The Open Society and Its Enemies Volume 2
"All political parties have some sort of 'vested interest' in their opponent's unpopular moves. They live by them and are therefore liable to dwell upon, to emphasize, and even to look forward to them. They may even encourage the political mistakes of their opponents as long as they can do so without becoming involved in the responsibility for them. [This has led some] parties to look forward to the political moves made by their opponents against democracy. [...] This policy of letting one's opponents expose themselves must, if extended to moves against democracy, lead to disaster. It is a policy of talking big and doing nothing in the face of real and increasing danger to democratic institutions. It is a policy of talking war and acting peace; and it taught the fascists the invaluable method of talking peace and acting war."

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posted by Trevor Blake at 5:45 PM
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The Army Times reports: "A panel of constitutional scholars said Tuesday that Congress clearly has the power, if it chooses to use it, to stop the war in Iraq. The difficulty in exercising the power is political, not constitutional, in getting a veto-proof majority in the House and Senate to agree on binding legislation to either cut off funding for combat operations or repeal the previously passed authorization to use force, the legal experts said in testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee."

[Article continues at link. How to contact your representatives in Congress.]
posted by Trevor Blake at 2:44 PM
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TAMPA - A 21-year-old woman told police Saturday that a man grabbed her off Howard Avenue and raped her behind a building during the Gasparilla festivities. But officers investigating the case arrested her after learning she had an outstanding warrant from her teenage years for failure to pay restitution. She spent the next two nights in jail. [...] The woman's family is outraged. "We're incensed. Everyone is just beside themselves," her mother, 47, said at 5:20 p.m. Monday, moments before escorting her daughter from Orient Road Jail. [...] Adding to the mother's ire is her claim that a jail nurse prevented her daughter from taking a second dose of emergency contraception prescribed by a nurse at a clinic as part of a rape examination. The jail nurse, said the mother and the victim's attorney, denied the medication for religious reasons.

[Article continues at link. What part of 'denied the medication for religious reasons' belongs in the 21st Century? France is set to outlaw religious practice in jails. I don't think that's the solution, because you can't legislate stupidity, cruelty and superstition out of people. I think reason-based criticism (spiced with merciless ridicule) of religion is the solution.]

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posted by Trevor Blake at 9:11 AM
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Monday, January 29, 2007. *
welcome to new blogger
Please email me if you have any problems.

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posted by Dr. Menlo at 6:56 PM
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The Dutch are currently upset by a proposed new dating reality show which matches up visibly disfigured adults.

Although I generally dislike reality shows - mainly because they tend to pick idiots I wouldn't want to spend ten minutes with in real life, thereby making me that much less likely to want to welcome them into my living room via television - and though I understand that people feel this exploits people with handicaps, I am kind of intrigued by the idea of a show which features disfigured adults. Why not encourage minorities we usually isolate and consign to loneliness to step into the light and be part of the larger pop culture?

It doesn't sound as if the producers are doing this as a post-modern freak show, where participants are put on stage so audiences can laugh or jeer or gasp in horror. If that was the point, then yeah, I'd be all for stopping this before it airs. But this could be a useful lesson in diversity. We usually only see the beautiful few on dating shows - sending the message that only the beautiful are desirable and loveable.

It's fine to worship beauty, as long as you don't confuse a phenomenon with a norm. People who don't look the way we expect people to look are socially ostracized, forced into a closet. More than that, people look at the visibly disfigured with a primitive type of suspicion, as if there's something spiritually or morally wrong with them. Seems to me the ones who are protesting this the most may well be the people who should be forced to watch this show. Maybe if they got to hear the stories from, and develop some emotional rapport with, disfigured people they would otherwise avoid or stare right past on the street, they might discover for themselves that the way you look does not define who you are or what aspirations you should possess.

I think we should encourage everyone to come out of hiding and the only way to do that is to take bold new steps to encourage them to do so. If it upsets people to see those who don't fit the norm, you know what? Good. Let them be upset and then let them get over it. Let them see that people with physical challenges or disabilities are just as real, just as human, just as deserving of love and romance as anyone else. Let them get used to the idea that physical beauty is not a moral value, just a lucky throw of the genetic dice. Besides, as anyone who has a friend or relative with visible handicaps knows, the better you get to know them the less you notice the handicap.

We give a lot of lip-service to the saying "beauty comes from within." The time's long overdue to put that saying into action.
posted by GloriaBrame at 3:22 PM
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"Are you proud, america?"
posted by Trevor Blake at 3:14 PM
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Good Bombs, Bad Bombs
Steve Weizman: Israel to buy US bomb kits for $100M. "The Israeli air force has decided to buy smart munitions kits from the Chicago-based Boeing aerospace company for an estimated $100 million, Israeli defense officials said Monday."

Mark Tran: US studies Israel's cluster bomb use in Lebanon. "Israel may have violated agreements with the US on the use of cluster bombs during the war in Lebanon last summer, the state department is expected to report to Congress today."
posted by Trevor Blake at 8:55 AM
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Emergency influx of migrants, my ass. Emergency reaction to the awakening of the American public, more likely.

Please note: it's a year old - this contract was awarded last January.
posted by Uncle $cam at 4:18 AM
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Let's hear it for the ol' Gipper! Ray-Gun! Ray-Gun! yah yah yah!

via: lukery
posted by Uncle $cam at 3:35 AM
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Sunday, January 28, 2007. *
Iraq is in negotiations with San Ramon-based Chevron Corp. and Exxon Mobil Corp. to build a new $3 billion petrochemical facility, and is in talks with several other Western companies over industrial projects.

In an interview Thursday, Fowzi Hariri, Iraq's minister for industry and minerals, said the discussions with Chevron and Exxon began this week in Washington and are at an early stage.



Coincidance?

Adel Abdel-Mohsen, adviser to the Minister of Industry, was shot down by armed militants in Yarmouk district, western Baghdad. His two daughters and three other accompanies were also killed.


I think not...
posted by Uncle $cam at 10:02 PM
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See also: The Vegan Chef.

posted by Dr. Menlo at 6:42 PM
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This is the God I want - a God who hates. A God - how quaint a notion is this? Right up there with drawing on cave walls.
posted by Dr. Menlo at 2:41 PM
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Saturday, January 27, 2007. *
posted by Dr. Menlo at 4:50 PM
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During the first media demonstration of the weapon Wednesday, airmen fired beams from a large dish antenna mounted atop a Humvee at people pretending to be rioters and acting out other scenarios U.S. troops might encounter. [more]


Substitute 'rioters' for 'protestors.'
posted by Dr. Menlo at 4:30 PM
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United States President stealthily took over the Federal Government last week through a new executive order last week that takes away all autonomy from Agencies, according to public interest organizations. [more]
posted by Dr. Menlo at 4:29 PM
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Secrecy Is at Issue in Suits Opposing Spy Program

In August 2004, the Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control, which was investigating an Oregon charity, al-Haramain Islamic Foundation, inadvertently provided a copy of a classified document to a foundation lawyer, Lynne Bernabei.

That document indicated, according to court filings, that the government monitored communications between officers of the charity and two of its lawyers without a warrant in spring 2004.

---------------

The F.B.I. learned of the disclosure almost immediately in August 2004, Judge King said at a court hearing last year, but made no effort to retrieve copies of the document for about six weeks.

When it did, everyone it asked apparently returned all copies of the document. In a statement reported in The Post in March, for instance, Mr. Ottaway said he the F.B.I. had told him that the document had “highly sensitive national security information.”

--------------

He added, “The document must be completely removed from the case, and plaintiffs are not allowed to rely on it to prove their claims.”

Judge King wondered aloud about the implications of that position, saying, “There is nothing in the law that requires them to purge their memory.”


This, to me, is the ultimately heroic trait of ordinary people; they say no to the tyrant and they calmly take the consequences of this resistance.
~Philip K. Dick
posted by Uncle $cam at 6:34 AM
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I Speak in Tongues
posted by Uncle $cam at 4:31 AM
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Q: Mr. Secretary, can you share with us any details of the results of the airstrikes in Somalia? And can you comment on the international law aspect of it? Does the United States assert the right to attack anywhere in any country where you suspect that there might be some terrorists?

SEC. GATES: We've made pretty clear -- it's my impression for quite some time that members of al Qaeda and others who have attacked the United States, that we will seek them out and try to capture or kill them.

Q: And in Somalia –

SEC. GATES: And we will do that wherever possible with partners.

Q: And the results in Somalia, sir?

SEC. GATES: I'll just leave it at that.

Q: Thank you.


well, gates is wise enough to not try to offer any legalities to make the case that the rogue u.s. has the right to view the world as its stomping ground. i'll just leave it at that...

Oh, and...

The DoD is denying this, but there are reports of
American soldiers seized in southern Somalia, Arab and Western diplomats say
Mogadishu 26, Jan.07 ( Sh.M.Network) There have been mounting reports that number of American soldiers was missing in southern Somalia following the recent US air operations on the Islamist and al-Qaeda hideouts in southern jungles of the country, alsharqa, an Arabic newspaper based in Qatar reported on Friday.

The paper also reported that Kenyan police have seized armed Asians crossing from Somalia into the Kenyan border. The Kenyan police believe the foreigners were fighting alongside with Somalia’s defeated Islamists.

According to the paper, Arab diplomats, who have asked anonymity, confirmed that unspecified number of US foot soldiers was seized in southern Somalia where Islamists are believed to be hiding after their loss of the capital Mogadishu to the UN and internationally backed transitional government of Somalia and the Ethiopian troops in the country.

Western diplomats, who have not been named, also affirmed that US soldiers were missing in southern Somalia, Alsharqa reported.

It added that Michael Ranneberger, the US ambassador to Kenya, who met with Sheik Sharif Sheik Ahmed, the defeated Islamist leader under the Kenyan custody, has asked Ahmed to explain where the missing Americans are lingering.


unable to find a web prescence for alsharqa


Finally, while on the subject of yet another non-talked about war, related to Somalia, only in name/title: (I sire some you guys can figure it out) Blackwater Down
The Jawa report has an interesting analysis of the jihidist groups taking credit for the helicopter downing:

Note: The above link is not a friendly blog...

Damn, on preview, this just in:

U.S. soldiers were abducted, then executed in Karbala
More about the abducted then killed US soldiers in Karbala

CCB*, he's a 'War President' don'tcha know...

*Chief Clearing Brush.
posted by Uncle $cam at 3:04 AM
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Friday, January 26, 2007. *
Utah's only openly gay senator is sponsoring a bill to eliminate the state's anti-sodomy law. But Sen. Scott McCoy, D-Salt Lake City, said the bill has nothing to do with his sexuality. "I'm doing this bill for all the consenting adults who don't want the government's nose in their business."

[tee hee.]
posted by Trevor Blake at 8:48 PM
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ready for new blogger?
It looks like I'm going to have to switch to the new blogger soon. Blogger is now not letting me in unless I switch, and I only managed to get into 'old blogger' this time because after I signed in and it forced me to the google sign in page (which is new), I instead went to blogger.com and there the old blogger was available (temporary hack, I'm sure). So, is everybody ready with their google ids?
posted by Dr. Menlo at 1:28 PM
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More info about the helicopter that was shot down earlier this week:

The List of Casualties from this attack contains the following:

2 Colonels
1 Lieutenant Colonel
1 Major
1 Captain
2 Command Sergeant Majors
1 First Sergeant
1 Sergeant First Class
2 Staff Sergeants
1 Corporal

That's one hell of a lot of brass on a single helicopter flight. This could indicate infiltration into the Green Zone of untold proportions.

Let's be clear, half of the manifest includes four field grade officers and two CSMs. That's a huge loss for a small and agile force such as what we've got deployed in Iraq. On top of this fact is also the fact that CSMs are the enlisted equivalent of general officers. CSMs run the army. CSMs can bring any company grade officer down with little effort. The only officers that will generally stand up to a CSM and call them on the carpet would be full bird colonels (two of which were lost on this flight) and command officers (i.e. generals).

The loss of a single CSM can often bring a full brigade to a standstill.

When faced with an insurgency using guerilla tactics, taking out four field grade officers with a single shot is a victory of epic proportions.*

The military indicates it is investigating the event. Two questions must be answered:

1. Why were so many high value targets placed on a single helicopter flight?

2. Who knew so many high value targets would be on this flight, especially who within the Iraqi government and military?

the diarist at dkos says: The loss of this single helictoper is a disaster. This needs to be corrected immediately or no surge, regardless of how many troops are sent in the surge, will do anything but exact a toll in blood and lives.

* Oh, and lets not mention this..

Guess, Robert Gates is doing a 'heck of a job' eh?
posted by Uncle $cam at 1:52 AM
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Troops Authorized to Kill Iranian Operatives in Iraq

The Bush administration has authorized the U.S. military to kill or capture Iranian operatives inside Iraq as part of an aggressive new strategy to weaken Tehran's influence across the Middle East and compel it to give up its nuclear program, according to government and counterterrorism officials with direct knowledge of the effort.

For more than a year, U.S. forces in Iraq have secretly detained dozens of suspected Iranian agents, holding them for three to four days at a time. The "catch and release" policy was designed to avoid escalating tensions with Iran and yet intimidate its emissaries.
...
The new "kill or capture" program was authorized by President Bush in a meeting of his most senior advisers last fall, along with other measures meant to curtail Iranian influence from Kabul to Beirut and, ultimately, to shake Iran's commitment to its nuclear efforts.
...
The administration's plans contain five "theaters of interest," as one senior official put it, with military, intelligence, political and diplomatic strategies designed to target Iranian interests across the Middle East.

The White House has authorized a widening of what is known inside the intelligence community as the "Blue Game Matrix" -- a list of approved operations that can be carried out against the Iranian-backed Hezbollah in Lebanon. And U.S. officials are preparing international sanctions against Tehran for holding several dozen al-Qaeda fighters who fled across the Afghan border in late 2001. They plan more aggressive moves to disrupt Tehran's funding of the radical Palestinian group Hamas and to undermine Iranian interests among Shiites in western Afghanistan.

In Iraq, U.S. troops now have the authority to target any member of Iran's Revolutionary Guard, as well as officers of its intelligence services believed to be working with Iraqi militias. The policy does not extend to Iranian civilians or diplomats. Though U.S. forces are not known to have used lethal force against any Iranian to date, Bush administration officials have been urging top military commanders to exercise the authority.
...
The decision to use lethal force against Iranians inside Iraq began taking shape last summer, when Israel was at war with Hezbollah in Lebanon. Officials said a group of senior Bush administration officials who regularly attend the highest-level counterterrorism meetings agreed that the conflict provided an opening to portray Iran as a nuclear-ambitious link between al-Qaeda, Hezbollah and the death squads in Iraq.

Among those involved in the discussions, beginning in August, were deputy national security adviser Elliott Abrams, NSC counterterrorism adviser Juan Zarate, the head of the CIA's counterterrorism center, representatives from the Pentagon and the vice president's office, and outgoing State Department counterterrorism chief Henry A. Crumpton.
...
Crumpton flew from Washington to U.S. Central Command headquarters in Tampa for a meeting with Gen. John P. Abizaid, the top U.S. commander for the Middle East. A principal reason for the visit, according to two officials with direct knowledge of the discussion, was to press Abizaid to prepare for an aggressive campaign against Iranian intelligence and military operatives inside Iraq.
...
A senior intelligence officer was more wary of the ambitions of the strategy.

"This has little to do with Iraq. It's all about pushing Iran's buttons. It is purely political," the official said. The official expressed similar views about other new efforts aimed at Iran, suggesting that the United States is escalating toward an unnecessary conflict to shift attention away from Iraq and to blame Iran for the United States' increasing inability to stanch the violence there.

But some officials within the Bush administration say that targeting Iran's Revolutionary Guard Command, and specifically a Guard unit known as the Quds Force, should be as much a priority as fighting al-Qaeda in Iraq. ..
...
In interviews, two senior administration officials separately compared the Tehran government to the Nazis and the Guard to the "SS." They also referred to Guard members as "terrorists." Such a formal designation could turn Iran's military into a target of what Bush calls a "war on terror," with its members potentially held as enemy combatants or in secret CIA detention.


Also see, AFPC LAUNCHES AD CAMPAIGN ON IRAN
Today, the American Foreign Policy Council (AFPC) begins a week-long advertising campaign aimed at educating the American public about the growing threat posed by a nuclear Iran. The ad campaign consists of two 30-second spots that began running Tuesday on CNN, MSNBC, Headline News and the Fox News Channel in Washington, DC, Maryland and northern Virginia.


Also, speaking of Lebanon and hizbala, At a donor's conference for Lebanon, the US pledges $770 million to help Lebanon rebuild. What could $770 million have paid for in this country, had we not given Israel the green light to go ahead and destroy the Lebanese infrastructure? Not to mention the money spent on giving ISrael the weapons in the first place, and then replenishing the weapons used...

While the meeting was being held in Paris for donors to rebuild Lebanon after the merciless bombing by Israel, (no war reparations here, get someone else to pay), the UN is busy with a new resolution
for Iran to be in violation of.

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said in December, shortly before he took office, that it was unacceptable for Iran to deny the Holocaust or call for Israel to be wiped off the map.


I guess is doesn't matter that there is some controversy over whether those words were said.

But further down we see this:

The reform program "won't be sufficient by itself to steer the economy on a viable financial path," said John Lipskey, a senior official with the International Monetary Fund.

"The program will need to be supported by very substantial and sustained donor assistance if Lebanon is to return to a path of financial stability," he said.


Ah, now we get it. For the price of all of those billions of dollars, we have bought long-term dependence, not to mention taking Lebanon off the table as a competitor in the regional marketplace. Was it worth the price?

And then we come to the piece de la resistance, which is this, from Condoleeza Rice (elsewhere I've seen her nicknamed "KindaSleezy Lice"):

"The people of Lebanon deserve to live in peace, they deserve to make decisions about their political future, free from the threat of violence and free from political intimidation," US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice told the conference.

"The United States is dedicated to this task."


The statement deserves to be entered into the hypocrisy Hall of Fame. Kinda sleezy, indeed.


Donors pledge billions in aid to Lebanon

And still no mention of 'New Orleans'....

But hey, don't worry, be happy, we got the money from the people, to bomb Somalia.

Ethiopian soldier exposes direct involvement of US mechanized force in Somalia’s invasion

that'll teach em to mess wit da chickenhawk, er uh, blackhawk down.

So plunder and war war and plunder, how many wars are we in now? I lost count...
posted by Uncle $cam at 1:14 AM
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Thursday, January 25, 2007. *
Perhaps, some of our paid 'disinfo' contractors, G-men wannabee's would find new diggs?
posted by Uncle $cam at 6:00 PM
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Has anyone reported this yet?

Alarm calls over loud speakers warn residents in Green Zone area to take cover as mortar attacks target US embassy.
posted by Uncle $cam at 4:26 PM
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Popular films ranging from Hollywood blockbusters to children's cartoons are depicting "crude and exaggerated" stereotypes of Muslims and perpetuating Islamophobia, according to a study published today. A report by the Islamic Human Rights Commission argues that films as diverse as The Siege, a portrayal of a terrorist attack on New York starring Denzel Washington and Bruce Willis, the Disney film Aladdin and the British comedy East is East have helped demonise Muslims as violent, dangerous and threatening, and reinforce prejudices.

[The negative stereotypes of Muslims has nothing to do with the Quran, nothing to do with stoning people to death, nothing to do with whipping people, nothing to do with chopping off people's hands and feet, nothing to do with female genital mutilation, nothing to do with 9/11, nothing to do with 'sectarian' violence in Iraq... nope, none of that. It's the Jews Hollywood.]
posted by Trevor Blake at 2:12 PM
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Not that you'll ever need it of course... ;-)
posted by Uncle $cam at 9:11 AM
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The president called on Congress to authorize an increase of about 92,000 active-duty troops over the next five years. He then slipped in a mention of a major initiative that would represent a significant development in the U.S. disaster response/reconstruction/war machine: a Civilian Reserve Corps.

"Such a corps would function much like our military Reserve. It would ease the burden on the armed forces by allowing us to hire civilians with critical skills to serve on missions abroad when America needs them," Bush declared. This is precisely what the administration has already done, largely behind the backs of the American people and with little congressional input, with its revolution in military affairs. Bush and his political allies are using taxpayer dollars to run an outsourcing laboratory. Iraq is its Frankenstein monster.
...
The president's proposed Civilian Reserve Corps was not his idea alone. A privatized version of it was floated two years ago by Erik Prince, the secretive, mega-millionaire, conservative owner of Blackwater USA and a man who for years has served as the Pied Piper of a campaign to repackage mercenaries as legitimate forces. In early 2005, Prince — a major bankroller of the president and his allies — pitched the idea at a military conference of a "contractor brigade" to supplement the official military. "There's consternation in the [Pentagon] about increasing the permanent size of the Army," Prince declared. Officials "want to add 30,000 people, and they talked about costs of anywhere from $3.6 billion to $4 billion to do that. Well, by my math, that comes out to about $135,000 per soldier." He added: "We could do it certainly cheaper."

And Prince is not just a man with an idea; he is a man with his own army. Blackwater began in 1996 with a private military training camp "to fulfill the anticipated demand for government outsourcing." Today, its contacts run from deep inside the military and intelligence agencies to the upper echelons of the White House. It has secured a status as the elite Praetorian Guard for the global war on terror, with the largest private military base in the world, a fleet of 20 aircraft and 20,000 soldiers at the ready.

From Iraq and Afghanistan to the hurricane-ravaged streets of New Orleans to meetings with Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger about responding to disasters in California, Blackwater now envisions itself as the FedEx of defense and homeland security operations. Such power in the hands of one company, run by a neo-crusader bankroller of the president, embodies the "military-industrial complex" President Eisenhower warned against in 1961.

Further privatizing the country's war machine — or inventing new back doors for military expansion with fancy names like the Civilian Reserve Corps* — will represent a devastating blow to the future of American democracy.





Ummm...they plan a "civil service reserve..." eh?-- now where have we we, heard that before? So not only do they use it to verify your legal status and stop you from flying and buying at their discretion, but they also use it to forcefully deploy you to war zones to "contribute" your special skills....

Total war, indeed. Everyone one will be used, --that's you and me, brother sister--and most are/will be expendable cannon fodder. Whither dost thou grasp the grim meathook future dear citizen?
posted by Uncle $cam at 5:06 AM
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Against it.

If any of you out there are my friends, I ask you out of the kindness of my heart to repost this. If you're not my friend, I ask you search for the source compassion in your soul and repost this anyway. More importantly, if you're in a position to, DO something about it.



This is about California legislation being passed to exterminate pit bulls. If it passes in California, it could be on it's way to anywhere. Someone has to try to make a difference...what if it were your pet?

~Camillia

posted by Uncle $cam at 1:16 AM
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Wednesday, January 24, 2007. *
I find it some what disturbing and yet amusing, that some of the best posts, the ones that should make thinking people and in particular, so called 'democrats'-- see what a scam both parties are--are mostly always thrown away to the dumpster. I have a little game I play over at dkos, I go right for Susan G's Diary Rescue first and foremost. I call it 'dumpster diving' because, the real treasures, the ones that have any depth are in the dumpster with little or no comments to them. Read the above and see if you can see why. Bonus points if you can comment on why a kossack wouldn't want to acknowledge the info given here.
posted by Uncle $cam at 10:41 PM
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First time in print. 240 pages. Public domain. OpenOffice and PDF formats. Low-cost print-on-demand or free download. Spread the word.
posted by Trevor Blake at 10:40 PM
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Greg Palast has an important response to the State of the Union speech:

First, there was the announcement the regime will, “give employers the tools to verify the legal status of their workers.” In case you missed that one, the President is talking about creating a federal citizen profile database.

There’s a problem with that idea. It’s against the law...


and:

Will Big Brother abuse these snoop lists? The biggest purveyor of such hit lists is Choice Point, Inc. – those characters who, before the 2000 election, helped Jeb Bush purge innocent voters as “felons” from Florida voter rolls. Will they abuse the new super-lists? Does Dick Cheney shoot in the woods?



I never thought that the argument over immigration was intended to protect American jobs; indeed, Bush made clear his view that we should legalize underpaid Mexican labor. Bush is making a list, checking it twice -- a list of who are you and where you are, without which you can neither buy nor sell.

Why haven't the Apocalypse-spotters glommed onto Choice Point? 'Bout time those wackos did something useful...
posted by Uncle $cam at 7:57 PM
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Two brothers filed a $6.5 million lawsuit against the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and the Boy Scouts of America on Monday, alleging they were sexually abused as children in the 1980s by a Mormon "home teacher" who was also a Boy Scout leader. The lawsuit filed in Multnomah County Circuit Court alleges the church and the Boy Scouts were responsible because the man, identified as Timur Dykes, was an authorized representative of the groups. [...] Dykes was later convicted of child sexual abuse "on several different occasions," according to the lawsuit filed by Portland attorney Kelly Clark, who has also represented victims of alleged abuse by Roman Catholic priests. Clark provided a list indicating Dykes had been convicted in 1986, 1988, 1990, 1991 and 1994. Dykes declined to confirm those convictions. But he said he had served time in prison from 1993 to 2002. [...] Dykes, also known as Timur Van Dykes, is listed on the Multnomah County Department of Community Justice Web site as a "predatory sex offender" who "gains access to victims through positions of trust (Boy Scouts, church membership, befriending single mothers); targets vulnerable boys and families; has used intimidation and threats to maintain victim compliance."

[Article continues at link.]
posted by Trevor Blake at 2:31 PM
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"Congressional Israel Allies Caucus of the United States Congress" Pow Wows with "Knesset Christian Allies Caucus of the Israeli Knesset..." in the U.S. capitol... at our expense....


More like...this...
posted by Uncle $cam at 1:21 PM
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A well known case in Phoenix happened a year or so ago (maybe more), where a swat team was propelling tear gas canisters through an upstairs window in an Ahwatuckee subdivision. A candle got knocked over, set the draperies on fire. The whole house was burned up, including a pet dog. It turned out to be the wrong address.

No redress, no apology.
posted by Uncle $cam at 12:28 PM
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It is very easy to persuade people that "slag" is not an acceptable insult to level at a woman. "You wouldn't say that to a man," you could point out. Even though it is pretty much a cross-gender term these days, and one might often hear a man described as a right slapper, that still seems to hold. There ought to be a flipside to this - we ought, in the year 2007, to have stopped talking about chastity as a feminine virtue. We ought to have stopped holding women up as the gatekeepers to sex, who get to be in charge because they don't enjoy it. We ought to have stopped perseverating on how men want it with anyone, any which way, where women only want it with "kind, funny, generous men".

Yet the curve is going in the opposite direction: in America, commentators (I suppose they're called) have long been haranguing adult and teenage females about the boon of chastity.

[Article continues at link.]
posted by Trevor Blake at 9:20 AM
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Christian activists yesterday promised to appeal the dismissal of their federal court claim that Philadelphia officials infringed on their freedom of speech when they blocked anti-homosexual protesters at a 2004 Center City gay festival. 'This is a very shocking decision,' said Michael Marcavage of Lansdowne, director of Repent America, and one of 11 protesters who were arrested at the 2004 Outfest.

U.S. District Judge Lawrence F. Stengel on Thursday granted a summary judgment for the city and the event organizers, Philly Pride Presents Inc. 'There is no constitutional right to drown out the speech of another person,' Stengel wrote in the 52-page judgement.

[Article continues at link. Here's another quote from Marcavage: "According to the Scriptures, it’s the government’s job to enforce God’s law and to uphold his law, and the Bible talks about how, I don’t want to really get into this — it’ll make me sound like I’m crazy — but it does talk about how [homosexuals] are to be put to death. The wages of sin is death. But I want to make [it] clear that I’m not advocating the [independent] killing of homosexuals. … I’m saying that the government’s duty is to uphold God’s law. … I know that’s harsh, but we have all broken the law, God’s law, and we need to be held accountable." And here's a suggestion for Marcavage.]
posted by Trevor Blake at 9:00 AM
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Tuesday, January 23, 2007. *
Forgive the dkos posts, however I have been watching troutfishing's posts for a long time, they are always worth reading, and this one is no exception.

The drums are getting louder, can you hear em?
posted by Uncle $cam at 5:41 PM
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David Shuster is on MSNBC right now...:

SOTU false claim re: uranium in Niger: VP Cheney asked Tenet to take complete responsibility for the mistake, and make clear that Cheney & Bush didn't know that it was a false claim.

Cheney wrote note suggesting how Libby should handle FBI interview on leak; note destroyed right before Libby testified to FBI for the first time. This destruction is new and damning as far as the Obstruction of Justice charge is concerned.

David Addington (VP aide) also provided info to Libby.



Also see, Prosecutor: Libby 'wiped out' Cheney memo
Defense in CIA leak trial counters that White House tried to set up Libby

and..

Libby Liveblog: Fitzgerald’s Opening Statement
posted by Uncle $cam at 10:07 AM
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Guarding Abu Ghraib


cache this it won't be around for long @ you tube

guard at abu ghraib

....girl, she was probably like 15 years old. Yeah, she was hot dude. The body on that girl, yeah, really tight. You know, hadn't been touched yet. She was fucking prime. So....

***

One of the guys started pimping her out for 50 bucks a shot. I think at the end of the day he'd made like 500 bucks before she hung herself.

Really?

Yeah. (laugh)

She hung herself? How's come she hung herself?

I don't know. She wasn't happy. (laugh)

***

In their culture, it's really shunned upon if you get raped. I guess she would have been stoned to death by her people. It's fucked up.

She was fucked anyway, I guess. In more ways than one.

(more laughing)

***

You didn't get shit from the CO, did you?

No, not until those fucking pictures came out. After then the biggest rule was no fucking cameras.


A new video has just popped up on YouTube, which, if it is honestly labeled, gives a disturbing first hand account of events inside the walls of Abu Ghraib.

The piece has been extensively edited and may not be genuine, but the video appears to show a former guard telling about his work inside the prison. If true, the story of Abu Ghraib has been far more brutal than the infamous photos depicted.

NOTE: Again, to make absolutely clear, Iraqslogger has not been able to verify this video as being a true account of an American soldier who worked at Abu Ghraib. We've attempted to contact the individual who posted it on YouTube, but have yet to receive a response. At this point, we do not have enough evidence to conclude anything about its provenance. If our citizen-sloggers know anything about the subject in the video, or the source of it, please send us a tip: here.
posted by Uncle $cam at 9:41 AM
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It probably won't do much good to complain, still less to be shocked,
but, for the record, one should at least be aware of two matters placed
in evidence at the Federation of American Scientists
Project on Government Secrecy site:

# What appears to be a deliberate muzzling of the Congressional Research Service, and

# the charming spectacle of the New York Times invoking the State Secrets Doctrine in winning their case against (falsely accused?) anthrax expert Steven J. Hatfill.

It is undoubtedly childish to hope that the true perpetrator of the anthrax letters will ever be brought to justice, despite the fact that this is patently an area in which there are so few technically proficient suspects to investigate that the even the most sluggish FBI investigation ought by now to have produced indictments.
posted by Uncle $cam at 12:03 AM
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Monday, January 22, 2007. *
by Cindy Sheehan

Hillary may be inevitable, but not if another, more remarkable woman Cindy Sheehan can prevent it. Cindy and all her activities will surely be consigned "by her betters" to the memory hole, but I will not forget her ability to cut through the bullshit and bear witness to her truth.
posted by Uncle $cam at 10:37 PM
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This one has political implications in one respect -- that FEMA and Homeland Security are still incompetently ignoring simple inititiatives that could help to give us a more resilient and more robust society.

Mostly, though, it is about a case of treachery in our own pockets.

also see, the crosspost at dkos.

Remember this when the shit hits the fan...

On a sim, but very related note, do not ever forget Chaos in the Middle East [and at home*]is not the Bush hawks' nightmare scenario--it's their plan.


*It's not a "conspiracy," friends, it's a BUSINESS PLAN.

A U.S. view: Is chaos the real objective?
posted by Uncle $cam at 8:53 PM
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Kill 'Em All, Let God Sort 'Em Out
According to a report by the Democratic Policy Committee, the Bush administration cut off veterans’ health care, despite growing need as veterans return from Iraq and Afghanistan; shortchanged veterans’ health because it failed to budget for returning veterans; is imposing higher care fees for veterans; and veterans' health care still fall short. But Bush has a plan! Something that costs nothing, is supported by the courts and literally works miracles...

Ryan Foley writes: "The Department of Veterans Affairs' increasing use of religion in treating ailing veterans does not violate the separation of church and state, a federal judge has ruled. U.S. District Judge John Shabaz dismissed a lawsuit by the Madison-based Freedom From Religion Foundation and defended the agency's practices in his decision Monday, saying religion can help patients heal and is legal when done on a voluntary basis. [...] The group's president, Annie Laurie Gaylor, said Tuesday it would appeal the ruling. 'I think the public will be startled to learn that if you're a VA patient and you want a referral to the eye doctor, you have to have a spiritual assessment in order to do that,' Gaylor said.

"The lawsuit challenged the agency's practice of giving most patients spiritual assessments that ask questions about faith, such as how often they attend church and how important religion is in their lives. Agency officials say the assessments help them determine patients' needs. The suit also targeted VA drug and alcohol treatment programs that incorporate religion, the integration of its chaplain program into patient care and the expansion of chaplain services for outpatient veterans instead of just those at VA hospitals."

How awesome that magic spells are going to take care of the vets that Bush isn't going to take care of! I wish he'd thought to use magic spells to fight the terrorists in the first place instead of real human beings, but no need to focus on the negative. And I feel GREAT that my tax dollars are being kept out of the stem cell research business and invested in the magic spell business.
posted by Trevor Blake at 8:41 PM
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This news came in last Friday, 1/19/07, from the Pensacola News Journal:
Pensacola evangelist Kent Hovind was sentenced Friday afternoon to 10 years in prison on charges of tax fraud.

After a lengthy sentencing hearing that last 5 1/2 hours, U.S. District Judge Casey Rodgers ordered Hovind also:

-- Pay $640,000 in restitution to the Internal Revenue Service.

-- Pay the prosecution’s court costs of $7,078.

-- Serve three years parole once he is released from prison.

Hovind’s wife, Jo Hovind, also was scheduled to be sentenced. Rodgers postponed her sentencing until March 1 to allow her defense attorney an opportunity to argue possible discrepancies in sentencing guidelines.

Prior to his sentencing, a tearful Kent Hovind, also known as "Dr. Dino" asked for the court’s leniency.
For further amusement, you can always hop on over to Hovind's blog.
posted by ninah pixie at 2:12 PM
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According to a summary released by the U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command, the HAA can watch over a circle of countryside 600 miles in diameter. That’s everything between Toledo and New York City. And they want to build 11. With high-res cameras, that could mean constant surveillance of every square inch of American soil.


How paranoid is too paranoid? I've hit it. This Lockheed-Martin project was uncovered after an accidental fire in an Akron, OH warehouse and all I can think is that there was no "accident" involved.

I said once in a 2005 rant that Abu Ghraib, Gitmo, et al were open secrets which were calculated to keep the amygdalae of voters (some of whom might otherwise be tempted to become dissenters... and Kissinger made clear his opinion about those folks!) on overdrive since no reasonable case can be made that torture produces actionable intelligence. It ain't about the "terrorists"... people suffer or are surveilled to keep folk like me and you in line.

Stories like the above may or may not be accurate, but there was nothing "accidental" about them being revealed.

Full stop.
posted by Uncle $cam at 10:07 AM
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Sunday, January 21, 2007. *
Two Perspectives
Eric Ervin: Insults hurled at gay, trans MLK marchers. "On the day designated to commemorate the life and memory of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. — a man who believed in equality for everyone — anti-gay remarks were hurled at gay groups who participated in Atlanta’s MLK Day March on Jan. 15."

Tony Grew: Tutu stands up for gays. "Legendary anti-apartheid campaigner Archbishop Desmond Tutu has urged his fellow Anglicans to focus on the problems facing Africa and stop obsessing over gay issues."
posted by Trevor Blake at 7:46 PM
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an in-depth analysis of the exact language used by Ahmadinejad in his supposed "wipe Israel off the map" comment, and an analysis of how the comment came to be distorted. (You will be surprised.)
posted by Uncle $cam at 8:31 AM
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Energo-fascism, or the militarization of the global struggle over ever-diminishing supplies of energy, will, in time, affect nearly every person on the planet. Either we will be compelled to participate in or finance foreign wars to secure vital supplies of energy.

...sooner or later we may find ourselves under constant state surveillance, lest we consume more than our allotted share of fuel or engage in illicit energy transactions. This is not simply some future dystopian nightmare, but a potentially all-encompassing reality whose basic features, largely unnoticed, are developing today.
posted by Mike at 2:30 AM
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Saturday, January 20, 2007. *
Tracked in America introduces the stories of 25 individuals who have been targeted by the U.S. government. The stories span from World War I to the post-9/11 world. Six eminent historians provide historical perspective and context to the time periods in which these individuals were under surveillance. Together, the profiles convey the courage of these individuals and reveal a dangerous pattern of government surveillance.
posted by Mike at 8:57 PM
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President George W. Bush prides himself on "making tough decisions." But many are sensing something seriously troubling, even psychologically unbalanced, about the president as a decision-maker. They are right.

We don't dare to really confront the scale of his incompetent behavior, because then we would have to face what it means to have such an incompetent and psychologically disabled decision-maker as our president. It raises everyone's uncertainty. And that is, in fact, happening now.
posted by Mike at 7:32 PM
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posted by Dr. Menlo at 5:58 PM
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As original poster, it is my responsiblity to retract.

From "Huffington Post"

A Grand Canyon park interpreter wrote:

"This is incorrect. I have NEVER been told to present non-science based programs. In fact, I received "talking points" demanding that Grand Canyon employees present programs BASED ON SCIENCE and that we must use the scientific version supported by the National Science Foundation and the National Academy of Sciences. As an interpreter I have shared the "creation" story of the Hopi people and the Paiute people because it is culturally relative. I used these stories as a tool to introduce the scientific story. Be confident there are good people running government, too."

One of our readers directly challenged Jeff Ruch, the Executive Director of PEER:

When I challenged that PEER guy to show me some evidence and provided him evidence to the contrary, he didn't have much. I would say PEER did more than jump the gun. I'd say they are spreading misinformation.

Another Grand Canyon park interpreter offered this explanation:

Ruch's attempts to insinuate a conspiratorial link between the NPS and organized religion are misguided and founded in fervent anti-Christian opposition, not reason or the law. Ruch's anti-Judeo-Christian bias is evidence by his lack of opposition to GCA's selling of Native American creation myths. His misinformation campaign aims to tarnish the reputation of the NPS to leverage his position that creationism books should not be sold in the GCA bookstore. I've emailed a few of my contacts at GRCA, and so far, all deny any conspiracy and all freely give the canyon's age in education programs (as does all official GRCA print material). I'll post updates as information becomes available. Until then, don't believe everything you read.

The reference to the creationism book being sold in the Grand Canyon bookstore--Grand Canyon: A Different View by Tom Vail--is true. It is sold in the "inspiration" section of the bookstore, alongside other books of myth and spirituality. In any case, the story is an old one now, and completely irrelevant to the claim that NPS employees are withholding information about the age of the canyon, and/or are being pressured to do so by Bush administration appointees.

Embarrassed and angered by all of this, I promptly phoned Jeff Ruch myself and inquired what evidence he has to support this claim. He initially pointed to the creationism book and the fact that the NPS has failed to address numerous challenges to the sale of same in their bookstore. When I pointed out that this is irrelevant to the claim in the press release, he then reminded me of the biblical passages that have been posted at places along the rim of the canyon. Again, I admonished, this is not evidence for his central claim. We went round and round on the phone until I finally gave up and hung up, convinced that he simply made up the claim out of whole cloth...

...We are issuing an amended release today that 1) deletes reference to what interpretive staff can and cannot say and 2) features the NPS official statement that they provide geological information to the public.

Then why did PEER issue that statement in the first place? In my opinion, this is why:

PEER is an anti-Bush, anti-religion liberal activist watchdog group in search of demons to exorcise and dragons to slay. On one level, that's how the system works in a free society, and there are plenty of pro-Bush, pro-religion conservative activist watchdog groups who do the same thing on the other side. Maybe in a Hegelian process of thesis-antithesis-synthesis we find truth that way; at least at the level of talk radio. But journalistic standards and scholarly ethics still hold sway at all levels of discourse that matter, and to that end I believe we were duped by an activist group who at the very least exaggerated a claim and published it in order to gain notoriety for itself, or worse, simply made it up.

To that end, shame on me for not fact checking this story before publishing it on eSkeptic and www.skeptic.com. But shame on you too, Mr. Ruch, and shame on PEER, for this egregious display of poor judgment and unethical behavior.
posted by platts42 at 6:01 AM
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Friday, January 19, 2007. *
Brother and Sisters:

As but a single citizen of the United States of America, I raise my voice in sadness and shame at the actions of our government, past, present, and future. I strongly believe that my words and views are shared by a growing majority of American citizens.

Many of us opposed our government's war against Iraq before the first missile was launched and many have joined us since, constituting now a majority of our citizens. At the moment of the attacks in September, 2001, I knew that our President and his administration would opportunistically use the event as justification for all manner of aggressive military action. Although we cannot condone the actions of bin Laden and al Qaeda, we also do not condone our own government's actions. Many of us advocate reconciliation . . . [more at P!}
posted by ddjango at 11:07 AM
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Section 220 of S. 1, the lobbying reform bill currently before the
Senate, would require grassroots causes, even bloggers, who communicate to
500 or more members of the public on policy matters, to register and report
quarterly to Congress the same as the big K Street lobbyists. Section 220
would amend existing lobbying reporting law by creating the most expansive
intrusion on First Amendment rights ever. For the first time in history,
critics of Congress will need to register and report with Congress itself.
"The bill would require reporting of 'paid efforts to stimulate
grassroots lobbying,' but defines 'paid' merely as communications to 500 or
more members of the public, with no other qualifiers.
"On January 9, the Senate passed Amendment 7 to S. 1, to create
criminal penalties, including up to one year in jail, if someone 'knowingly
and willingly fails to file or report.'


Thank goodness the Dems now control Congress. I, for one, welcome our new overlords and just want to let them know that I think they're doing a heckuva job on the off-chance that praising them over policy decisions in comments that are read by over 500 persons is somehow legally different than criticising them.
posted by Uncle $cam at 1:26 AM
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Joe Bageant
If you take the time to grub around in true working class America, most people will tell you the country is going to hell, and it is because we don't have prayer in school and that the homosexuals are running around getting married and kissing in public. Folks think that God doesn't like this stuff and is punishing us. They will all tell you that you can be rich and successful if you work hard and that God will reward you with money and a new Lexus if you walk with Jesus. I have been hearing this all my life. Nothing new. Furthermore, they will tell you that US has a moral obligation to bring liberty and freedom to the whole world and that they are pretty disgusted that these lucky people to whom the freedom has been delivered are not even grateful. What we need is more control, by golly!(...)

The furor among liberals regarding the Christian Right will die down. Liberals, like everyone else in America, easily become bored. But these control seeking Christians are not going away. They've always been cooking away under the surface of our political stew and always will be.

Meanwhile, as we argue these points of the distracting so-called culture wars, the real players have always known the object of the game. They slipped out the back door long ago, but if you squint and look off into the horizon you may see them making off with the national treasury. ...
posted by Uncle $cam at 12:27 AM
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Sad really...
posted by Uncle $cam at 12:07 AM
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Thursday, January 18, 2007. *
The Religion of Peace in the Mainstream Media
Wayne Parry: "Muslims Unhappy over '24' Portrayal." "The overwhelming impression you get is fear and hatred for Muslims," said Rabiah Ahmed, a spokeswoman for the Washington-based Council on American-Islamic Relations. She said Thursday she was distressed by this season's premiere. "After watching that show, I was afraid to go to the grocery store because I wasn't sure the person next to me would be able to differentiate between fiction and reality."

Fox News: "Australian Muslim Cleric Sparks Outrage by Calling Jews 'Pigs' and Encouraging Jihad." The firebrand cleric who went overseas just days before some of his cohorts were rounded up in the nation's biggest counter-terrorism raid is the subject of a new police investigation, after a call for children to join jihad as holy warriors appeared in a DVD being sold in Australia. [...] "We want to have children and offer them as soldiers defending Islam," he says. "Teach them this: there is nothing more beloved to me than wanting to die as a mujahid. Put in their soft, tender hearts the zeal of jihad and a love of martyrdom."

[Articled continue at links.]
posted by Trevor Blake at 2:12 PM
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Ethan Zuckerman reports on 10 new "open democracy" type projects.
posted by Klintron at 9:28 AM
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The Project for Excellence in Journalism’s News Coverage Index is, we believe, the largest effort ever to measure and analyze the American news media on a continuing basis.

The Index examines some four dozen news outlets in real time to determine what is being covered and what is not—a broad sense of the American news agenda. The findings are then released in a weekly report that features an Index of the top stories, a narrative analyzing the twists, turns, and trajectory of the coverage, and a breakdown of the differences among media sectors.

[Via My Heart's in Accra]
posted by Klintron at 9:25 AM
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Wednesday, January 17, 2007. *
The arguments for impeachment are overwhelming. Its a winner politically and the grounds are actually valid and not about blowjobs. But instead of all that dry fooferall here is the argument as a jaunty song. And as the song asks of dems: Don't be pussies!




posted by Philip Shropshire at 9:51 PM
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posted by Philip Shropshire at 9:47 PM
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Trevor Blake (who has a slight interest in atheism) poses an interesting question:

"What matters much more is why a large number of people with ready access to the fact they are being lied to are not objecting to being lied to. Why do 'the masses,' the 'working class,' 'the people' endure and even prefer being lied to? Why do they prefer the decisiveness of tyrants over the compassion of democracy? Why does religion still exist? This is a question for anyone but particularly for those who claim that 'the people' are the hope of a better world. It sure seems like no amount of deception or oppression leads 'the people' to overthrow their rulers, and that 'the people' aren't the ones I should turn to in my hopes for a better world."

There are a number of books I could recommend that address that question. One book is called "Escape from Freedom" by Erich Fromm, of the so called Frankfort School.

I can't remember what I read in college (and I think high school) but here's a synopsis I found on the Internets that catches the money shots so to speak:

His initial book, and likely his most influential work, was called Escape From Freedom, published near the beginning of World War II. In it he described freedom as the greatest problem for most individuals. With freedom, according to Fromm, comes an overwhelming sense of aloneness and an inability to exert individual power. He argued that we use several different techniques to alleviate the anxiety associated with our perception of freedom, including automaton, conformity, authoritarianism, destructiveness, and individuation.

But wait, there's more:

Authoritarianism is a technique that others use to ward off the anxiety. Following an entity outside of the self and perceived greater than the self is the main feature of authoritarianism. As the individual feels alone and powerless, he gains strength from the belief that there is a greater power beyond himself. This entity could be a religious figure, a political leader, or social belief. By giving up power to the powerful, we become the powerful and no longer feel alone. In this sense authoritarianism is two sided or what Fromm describes as sadism/masochism, where we submit to our leader (such as Adolph Hitler) and demand power over our perceived enemies (Jews).

IN other words, people may be hardwired for both fascism and religion. And then there's Eric Hoffer's book on the whole mindset:

Not fun reads I should note.

posted by Philip Shropshire at 9:38 PM
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posted by Philip Shropshire at 9:35 PM
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Tuesday, January 16, 2007. *
posted by Dr. Menlo at 4:14 PM
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I have never read so coherent an explanation of the relationship between the physical world and information theory as this description of Anton Zeilinger's explanation of quantum mechanics. (New Scientist)
posted by emg at 1:38 PM
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Remembering the Dream
Most Americans today know that Reverand Martin Luther King Jr. was killed in 1968 in Memphis, Tennessee, but fewer know why he was there.

King went to Memphis to support African American garbage workers, who were on strike to protest unsafe conditions, abusive white supervisors, and low wages -- and to gain recognition for their union. Their picket signs relayed a simple but profound message: "I Am A Man."

[...]

Today we view King as something of a saint, his birthday a national holiday, and his name adorning schools and street signs. But in his day, the establishment considered King a dangerous troublemaker. He was harassed by the FBI and vilified in the media. He began his activism in Montgomery, Alabama, as a crusader against the nation's racial caste system, but the struggle for civil rights radicalized him into a fighter for broader economic and social justice. He recognized the limits of breaking down legal segregation. What good was winning the right to eat at a dime-store lunch counter if you couldn't afford a hamburger and a Coke?


Full Story: American Prospect.

Meanwhile, 19% of college students don't know what the "I Have a Dream" speech was about.
posted by Klintron at 11:09 AM
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In a ruling sure to make philandering spouses squirm, Michigan's second-highest court says that anyone involved in an extramarital fling can be prosecuted for first-degree criminal sexual conduct, a felony punishable by up to life in prison.

"We cannot help but question whether the Legislature actually intended the result we reach here today," Judge William Murphy wrote in November for a unanimous Court of Appeals panel, "but we are curtailed by the language of the statute from reaching any other conclusion."

[Article continues at link. In a better world, Peter McWilliams would be here to remind the fair citizens of Michigan Ain't Nobody's Business if You Do. In this world, Peter was another victim of the moral nonsense that is 'consensual crime.' We need a consensual liberation army.]
posted by Trevor Blake at 9:37 AM
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Monday, January 15, 2007. *
Some 30 non-governmental organisations in Niger said overnight they are going to sue the United States for nearly two billion dollars for "unfairly accusing" Niger of selling uranium to the late Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein.

[Article continues at link. Why aren't the officials I helped elect to office doing the same, and more?]
posted by Trevor Blake at 8:14 AM
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George Bush Interview on "60 Minutes"
[Transcript] [Video]

PELLEY: Do you believe as commander-in-chief you have the authority to put the troops in there no matter what the Congress wants to do?
BUSH: In this situation, I do, yeah. Now, I fully understand they could try to stop me from doing it. But I made my decision, and we're going forward.

[Continues at links. Very few people read American Samizdat. But many, many people watch 60 Minutes. In no way is the fact that George Bush considers himself not subject to the Constitution of the United States a difficult to find fact. Why is it that most Americans aren't up in (metaphorical) arms that the rule of law has been suspended in their country? Where's that 'class consciousness' the left speaks of, the correcting mechanism that is activated by oppression and that causes oppressed groups to act in their own best interest, not in the interest of the rulers?]
posted by Trevor Blake at 8:03 AM
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The federal government argued that Boy Scouts playing with fire caused a 14,200-acre wildfire and wants a judge to hold them responsible, allowing officials to seek damages. In court documents, the government said it would decide whether to seek damages after a ruling is made. It says the June 2002 wildfire in northeastern Utah cost more than $12 million to control.

A Forest Service investigator pinpointed the fire's origin to an area where Scouts had stayed overnight, Assistant U.S. Attorney Eric Overby said in federal court Thursday. [...] In depositions, Scouts testified they were playing with fire, even offering a teenage counselor candy in return for setting one, Overby said.

[Article continues at link. Just another example of the New World Order impinging on the religious freedom of a private organization.]
posted by Trevor Blake at 7:45 AM
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Sunday, January 14, 2007. *
The American company appointed to advise the US government on the economic reconstruction of Iraq has paid hundreds of thousands of dollars into Republican Party coffers and has admitted that its own finances are in chaos because of accounting errors and bad management.
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According to the Center for Responsive Politics, BearingPoint employees gave $117,000 (£60,000) to the 2000 and 2004 Bush election campaigns, more than any other Iraq contractor. Other recipients include three prominent Congressmen on the House of Representatives' defence sub-committee, which oversees defence department contracts.
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The company's shares have collapsed to a third of their value when the firm listed in 2001, and it faces being thrown out of the New York Stock Exchange altogether. Despite annual revenues of $3.4bn, the company made a loss of $722m in 2005. Those figures were released only last month, nine months late, and the company has not yet been able to report any fully audited figures at all for 2006.
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BearingPoint is being paid $240m for its work in Iraq, winning an initial contract from the US Agency for International Development (USAid) within weeks of the fall of Saddam Hussein in 2003. It was charged with supporting the then Coalition Provisional Authority to introduce policies "which are designed to create a competitive private sector". Its role is to examine laws, regulations and institutions that regulate trade, commerce and investment, and to advise ministries and the central bank.

Last week The Independent on Sunday revealed that a BearingPoint employee, based in the US embassy in Baghdad, had been tasked with advising the Iraqi Ministry of Oil on drawing up a new hydrocarbon law. The legislation, which is due to be presented to Iraq's parliament within days, will give Western oil companies a large slice of profits from the country's oil fields in exchange for investing in new oil infrastructure.
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Across the world, BearingPoint has become, thanks to USAid funding, a part of the US government's strategy of spreading free-market reforms to developing countries and America's allies. Elsewhere in the Middle East it is advising the government of Jordan on how to minimise the regulation of business and reform its tax policies in order to attract foreign investment; in Egypt it is advising on customs reform and respect for international companies' patents.

It has won more than $100m of business in Afghanistan since American troops invaded in 2002, and has been helping to build a banking system, training civil servants in the finance ministry and offering advice on economic policy.

Its economic reconstruction work grew out of early work in eastern Europe after the fall of communism, and became a significant contributor to the business after it won contracts in the former Yugoslavia following US intervention there.
posted by Uncle $cam at 11:05 PM
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Tales of class combat in a dying regime.

FREE SPEECH TV
Keynote
Keynote: Greg Palast
Producer: Jim Lockhart
Length: 59m 18s
posted by Uncle $cam at 11:02 PM
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It's Playboy, so you have to ignore the "babes" - well, maybe not,lol -but this long piece is really good:

While vice president for strategy and planning for Lockheed from 1999 to 2002, Jackson, by his own account, was also "responsible for the foreign policy platform at the 2000 Republican National Convention," to which he was a delegate. (The platform involved a dramatic increase in defense spending.) His title at the convention was chair of the platform subcommittee on foreign policy. He also served as co-chairman of the finance commission of Bob Dole's 1996 campaign. Prior to joining Lockheed, Jackson had served as executive director of the Project for the New American Century (PNAC), the think tank whose principles included Dick Cheney. PNAC served as the Bush administration's blueprint for preemptive war and authored a 1998 open letter to President Bill Clinton calling for military force to oust Saddam Hussein.
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Of course, all the frothing at the mouth about lobbyists, money and special interests can seem from outside the Beltway as much ado about nothing. The government hands out contracts. The beneficiaries or those who want to be beneficiaries buy steak dinners for the officials who hold the purse strings. Big deal. The problem, though, is that, upon closer scrutiny, this is not how the system works. It's actually much more sinister than that, allowing the interests of America to be subverted by the interests of corporate America. As you'll see here, your elected officials did not deliberate on how best to protect their constituents, decide bombing Iraq was the best way and then order some provisions and weapons. On the contrary, this is the story of how Lockheed's interests, as opposed to those of the American citizenry, set the course of U.S. policy after 9/11.

For the war companies, things have worked out perfectly. Whatever the rationale for the invasion of Iraq, business is booming. Not long after Bush took office, Lockheed Martin's revenues soared by more than 30 percent, as it was awarded $17 billion in contracts from the Department of Defense, a far cry from the lean years of the Clinton administration. (Under Clinton, it did win $2 billion in contracts with the Department of Energy for nuclear weapons activity; recently Bush called for 125 new nukes a year, opening up new contract horizons in that area, as well.) Its stock went from 16.375 in October of 1999 to 71.52 in June of 2002. As professor of finance at the State University at Buffalo Michael Rozeff observes, "the stock market anticipates many events."

Lockheed Martin reported 2002 sales of $26.6 billion, a backlog of more than $70 billion and free cash of $1.7 billion. And that was before the war in Iraq.
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Bush had appointed Powell A. Moore assistant secretary of defense for legislative affairs serving directly under Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. From 1983 until 1998, when he had become chief of staff to Republican Senator Fred Thompson of Tennessee, Moore was a consultant and vice president for legislative affairs for Lockheed.

Albert Smith, Lockheed's executive vice president for integrated systems and solutions, was appointed to the Defense Science Board. Bush had appointed former Lockheed chief operating officer Peter B. Teets as undersecretary of the Air Force and director of the National Reconnaissance Office, where he made decisions on the acquisition of reconnaissance satellites and space-based elements of missile defense. Former Secretary of Transportation Norman Mineta, the only Democrat appointed by Bush to his cabinet, worked for Lockheed, as did Bush's Secretary of the Navy, Gordon England. Haley Barbour, chairman of the Republican National Committee before becoming the governor of Mississippi, worked for a Lockheed lobbying firm. Joe Allbaugh, national campaign manager of the Bush-Cheney ticket and director of FEMA during the first two years of the Bush administration (he appointed his college friend Michael Brown as FEMA's general counsel), was a Lockheed lobbyist for its rapidly growing intelligence division.

Dick Cheney's son-in-law, Philip J. Perry, a registered Lockheed lobbyist who had, while working for a law firm, represented Lockheed with the Department of Homeland Security, had been nominated by Bush to serve as general counsel to the Department of Homeland Security. His wife, Elizabeth Cheney, serves as deputy assistant secretary of state for Middle Eastern affairs.
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posted by Uncle $cam at 10:57 PM
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