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And, yes, I DO take it personally: 07/24/2005 - 07/31/2005
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And, yes, I DO take it personally

Saturday, July 30, 2005

Bolton recess appointment - shameful and disgusting (cont'd)

overall, i much prefer slow news saturdays...

here i am, in beautiful ohrid, feeling the breeze coming off the lake even in this stuffy internet cafe, not a cloud in the sky, rubbing shoulders with happy holiday-makers from all over, smiling kids, windsurfers dotting the water, sidewalk cafes on the pedestrian mall buzzing with capuccino and macchiato sippers, and i'm reading the nausea-inducing friday evening barrage of ugly and depressing news... oh, for the days of the news diet when i preserved what was left of my precious serenity by sticking my head in the sand... ~sigh~

President Bush intends to announce next week that he is going around Congress to install embattled nominee John Bolton as the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, senior administration officials said Friday.

ok, if that's the way it's going to be, i hope that bolton is very successful in demonstrating to the rest of the world just what a consummate asshole he really is and, by extension, those in bushco who want him to be their asskicker at the u.n... let the rest of the world see in clear and graphic fashion, even more than they have already, just how diabolical the world's sole superpower really is... let's put the rest of the cards on the table...

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Denying the prohibition of prisoner torture - shameful and disgusting (cont'd)

This week, the White House blocked a Senate vote on a measure sponsored by a half-dozen Republicans, including Senator John McCain, that would prohibit cruel, degrading or inhumane treatment of prisoners. Besides being outrageous on its face, that action served as a reminder of how the Bush administration ducks for cover behind the men and women in uniform when challenged on military policy, but ignores their advice when it seems inconvenient.

one could always hope that tanking in the polls, eroding credibility, the disintegrating iraqi situation, and the repeated exposure of bald-faced lies would at least give these guys pause, but no... they keep right on going like some insane chucky version of the energizer bunny...

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Shielding gun businesses - shameful and disgusting

The Senate agreed to shield gun manufacturers and dealers from liability lawsuits on Friday.


Long sought by the gun lobby, the Senate measure - approved 65 to 31 - would prohibit lawsuits against gun makers and distributors for misuse of their products during the commission of a crime. Senate supporters said the plan was needed to protect the domestic firearms industry from a rash of lawsuits that threatened its economic future.

threaten their "economic future...???" how can these people sleep at night...?

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Friday, July 29, 2005

Frist just lost the fundie vote

I guess he is giving up on his bid for the White House.

Senate leader Frist backs stem cell research
In a rare break with President Bush and Christian conservatives, Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist on Friday endorsed legislation to expand federal funding of embryonic stem cell research.

"The federal government should fund embryonic stem cell research" that uses leftover embryos from fertility clinics, said the Tennessee Republican, a surgeon who may run for president in 2008, in backing legislation already passed by the U.S. House of Representatives that would overturn the limits imposed on the research by Bush in 2001.


"I also strongly believe, as do countless other scientists, clinicians and doctors, that embryonic stem cells uniquely hold specific promise for some therapies and potential cures that adult stem cells just cannot provide," Frist said, explaining why he believes it is time to change Bush's policies.

Has the earth shifted on its axis?

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A weekend break from the heat...

this afternoon, i'm headed down to the lakeside resort town of ohrid for the weekend... their wine and cheese festival (which was initiated under the sponsorship of the project i am working for) kicks off in the morning... if i am online at all it will be from an internet cafe, so posts from me may be few to nonexistent... there's one word to describe the past week in skopje - HOT! - so a cooling breeze coming off lake ohrid will be most welcome...

(note: lake ohrid is one of the largest, deepest, and oldest tectonically-formed lakes in the world and the town on its shore, ohrid, has its center designated as a unesco world heritage cultural site... i understand that the town is currently packed with tourists, a lot of them dutch... it'll be an interesting weekend...)

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Our President has something he'd like to show you


(and, no, it is NOT a doctored photo...!)

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A breathtaking glimpse of delusionary thinking

thanks to atrios and crooks and liars for pointing me to one of the most remarkably out-there statements it has been my misfortune to read, brought to you by none other than the highly-educated and deeply insightful folks at powerline...
It must be very strange to be President Bush. A man of extraordinary vision and brilliance approaching to genius, he can't get anyone to notice. He is like a great painter or musician who is ahead of his time, and who unveils one masterpiece after another to a reception that, when not bored, is hostile.

ok, i'll hold out the slim possibility that i may be the one suffering from delusion and that, years hence, history will regard george bush as a great visionary... but, ya know what...? if that's the way it turns out, i suspect that it will no longer be a world that i want to live in...

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Larry Johnson, former CIA agent, lays out the Plamegate facts

larry johnson has been blogging at kos and at tpm cafe on the rove/plame/novak/miller/cheney/etc. mess... he's done an excellent job of setting the record straight in the face of the intense disinformation campaign being waged by bushco to make plamegate go away - at no considerable risk to his own reputation... as everyone knows by now (and if there's anyone who doesn't, it's time for a pulse-check), truth-tellers in the u.s. of 2005 are immediate targets for character assassination... larry johnson starts with this but go read the rest for yourselves...
Despite valiant efforts by the Republican National Committee and its supporters to perpetuate a smear, the facts are now clearly established regarding Valerie (Plame) Wilson's cover and her status at the CIA. Fair minded and reasonable people will examine these facts and realize that attacks on her integrity and reputation are unwarranted and wrong.

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Thursday, July 28, 2005

MeEE-OoWWrrr..! Hssssst...!

claws extended fully, leon hadar, guest blogging at steve clemons' washington note, arches his back, hisses, and goes after condi full blast under the moon on the back fence...
So if I think that America's top diplomat, who happens to be a black female, has done a lousy job, I'm going to say so (And I love you, mom!). In fact, as a national security advisor Rice was a disaster of historic proportions. She was responsible for the advice reaching the White House and for the disinformation coming out of it before 9/11 and in the months leading up to the war in Iraq, and had failed to coordinate the Bush administration's preparation for the postwar occupation of the country. Now she seems to be managing U.S. foreign policy, a reward for a job well done, as a Paris Hilton-style television reality show, with her uninterrupted globetrotting covered 24/7 by the embedded and sycophantic media.

aw, c'mon, leon... stop beating around the bush and tell us how you REALLY feel...!

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Just say "NO to Bush...!"

Opponents of US President George W. Bush yesterday staged a protest [in Buenos Aires] to urge court authorities to keep him from attending a November summit in Argentina, arguing his presence would raise security concerns.

hmmmm... i'll be back there next wednesday... should i join 'em...? whaddaya think...? :)

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Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo - up the chain of command we go...!

about friggin' time we're getting some solid connections between the biggies and those poor bastards down in the ranks who have been taking all the shit...
Army Maj. Gen. Geoffrey D. Miller told top officers during an advisory visit to Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison that they needed to get military working dogs for use in interrogations, and he advocated procedures then in use at the U.S. detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, according to court testimony yesterday.

Maj. David DiNenna, the top military police operations officer at Abu Ghraib in 2003, said that when Miller and a team of Guantanamo Bay officials visited in early September 2003, Miller advocated mirroring the Cuba operation.

"We understood he was sent over by the secretary of defense," DiNenna testified by telephone. DiNenna said Miller and his team were at Abu Ghraib "to take their interrogation techniques they used at Guantanamo Bay and incorporate them into Iraq."

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Now Ayad has to go home

i posted last week about the 13 y/o iraqi boy, ayad, who had been injured in an explosion and suffered serious facial and eye damage... two men, one a defense department adviser, robert reilly, reviled in gay circles for an article he once wrote calling homosexuality "morally disordered," and joe tom easley, a lawyer and well-known gay activist, worked together to bring ayad to the u.s. for treatment...
After two fairy-tale weeks of pampering, shopping, top-notch medical care and limitless Pepsi, Ayad al-Sirowiy, the 13-year-old Iraqi boy who came to the United States to get the tattoo of war removed from his disfigured face, is going home.

And - no surprise - he really doesn't want to.

"Ma arrooh, ma arrooh," Ayad shouted Wednesday afternoon, as he kicked and fussed in his hotel bed, a few hours before his flight. "I don't want to go. I don't want to go."

His face was shiny with burn salve, his lips were puffy and blistery and both eyes were swollen shut like a pummeled boxer's. It stung just to look at him.

Ayad has been quite a project. He was injured at the beginning of the Iraq war after his cow accidentally set off an American cluster bomb, which drilled tiny pieces of shrapnel into his face, blinding him in one eye and printing a map of pin-prick scars across his skin. The boys in Ayad's village call him "Mr. Gunpowder," and he was so ashamed that he dropped out of school.

But after a retired law professor in Miami Beach read about his plight and won him approval to come to the United States, a new hope was planted. Ayad began to dream of having his old face again. And he thought if it could happen anywhere, it was America.


But the miracle metamorphosis didn't happen. Ayad thought he was going to get a new eye; instead he got a contact lens. And the laser surgery that was promised to erase his facial scars will only lighten them, unless he can receive follow-up treatment in the United States or another modern country, which is highly unlikely once he leaves behind the silky sheets and first-class hotels for his mud hut.


"I thought the Americans could do everything," Ayad's father said.

Ayad stared at the carpet and whispered, "I hope we come back."

small beef with the nyt... the only mention of joe tom easley in the follow-up article is this: "retired law professor in Miami Beach..."

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Wednesday, July 27, 2005

On being brown-skinned in Britain...

this ips article adds some perspective to the events since the july 7 london bombings...
The police have now openly declared a shoot-to-kill policy, and declared that they can shoot to kill just on suspicion. And that suspicion arising not from reliable intelligence or anything like that, but from just how someone may behave somewhere.

Until the other day everyone thought that a Brit licensed to kill was a character in a James Bond film. Now that is official British policy.

London's police commissioner Sir Ian Blair expressed ''regret'' -- and no more -- over the death of Brazilian electrician Jean Charles de Menezes. That ''regret'' was accompanied by the remark that there could be more such killing of innocent people.

Ian Blair said the police had a shoot-to-kill policy to stop suspected suicide bombers. ''This is not a Metropolitan (police) policy, this is a national policy and I think we are quite comfortable that the policy is right, but of course these are fantastically difficult times...there are still officers having to make those calls as we speak. Somebody else could be shot.''

Not many police chiefs of cities around the world who carry the responsibility of protecting their citizens would say this. The chilling message is that right or wrong, if an armed policeman is suspicious of your movements, it is okay, in fact required by national policy to instantly shoot to kill.

rightly or wrongly, consciously or unconsciously, the first things we notice about someone are skin and hair color, the presence or absence of facial hair (for males), and mode of dress... that leaves most people (again, males in particular) from the near east, north africa, the middle east, south asia, and even the balkans and a good chunk of latin america and the caribbean, open to the possibility of "looking" like an islamic terrorist...

an open question in my mind is why did the brazilian man, electrician jean charles de menezes, run from the police...? however, i truthfully cannot say what i would have done had i been in his shoes...

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Boy Scouts and Soldiers

Dear Leader was supposed to speak at the Boy Scout Jamboree today, so you will have to understand that when I first saw this headline: Scores of Boy Scouts Fall Ill From Heat, I wondered if it wasn't Bush's speech that made them sick. Turns out they got sick waiting in the heat for Dear Leader.

And then I read the story.

So let me get this straight...Dear Leader will attend a memorial service for four Boy Scout leaders who died in a tragic accident, but has yet to attend a single funeral for one soldier he has sent to die in an illegal, immoral war.

I wonder if he plans on dressing up like a Boy Scout. Do you think he will insist on a whistle on a lanyard, complete with the Presidential Seal?

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What we need to do...

assuming "we're" democrats (which, given the disgusting state of the party apparatus, i'm not sure i even wanna lay claim to - nothing personal, howard)...

(thanks, atrios, for tipping me on this excellent first draft, no-punches-pulled screed...)
What Democrats need to stop doing is standing with bowed head as the Republicans whip us senseless with their big brass belt buckle.

What Democrats need to start doing is grabbing that belt, pulling it out of their hands and saying, "Not anymore, Junior. Why don't you explain why you blew a spy's cover? Why don't you explain where all the money our soldiers need went? Why don't you explain why you tortured innocent people? Why don't you explain where Osama bin Laden is? Where is he? Where the bloody hell is he and why isn't he in jail right now watching his gallows being built outside his tiny little window? Huh? Huh? Got an answer for that, you overblown jingoistic piece of useless? Huh?"

What Democrats need to start doing is realizing that there's nothing wrong with them, except that they don't say, quite loudly enough to be heard over the noise machine, what's wrong with their opposition.

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Iraq to U.S. - Start planning to leave... Soon...

rummy said it could be 12 more years... al-jaafari says how about sooner...
Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari said at a joint news conference with Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld that the time has arrived to plan a coordinated transition from American to Iraqi military control throughout the country.

Asked how soon a U.S. withdrawal should happen, he said no exact timetable had been set. "But we confirm and we desire speed in that regard," he said.

works for me...

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Suicide Bombers or Dupes?

i posted on this subject last week... interesting that it is resurfacing... what would the implications be if this is true...? what additional dimensions would this add to the bigger picture...? it rather boggles the mind, doesn't it...?
Investigators raising doubts about the suicide assumption have cited evidence to support this theory. Each of the four men who died in the July 7 attacks purchased round-trip railway tickets from Luton to London. Germaine Lindsay's rented car left in Luton had a seven-day parking sticker on the dashboard.

A large quantity of explosives were stored in the trunk of that car, perhaps for another attack. Another bomber had just spent a large sum to repair his car. The men carried driver's licenses and other ID cards with them to their deaths, unusual for suicide bombers.

In addition, none left behind a note, videotape or Internet trail as suicide bombers have done in the past. And the bombers' families were baffled by what seemed to be their decisions to kill themselves.

While some of these clues could be seen as the work of men intent on covering their trail, some investigators increasingly believe that the men may have been conned into carrying the bombs onto the trains and leaving them, thinking they were going to explode minutes later.

and here's the real question...
[T]he question now is whether these were dedicated guys ready to die or stupid guys run by a smart group of people pulling the strings.

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Tuesday, July 26, 2005

The "Failed States" Index

according to this foreign policy article, a number of countries around the world are at risk of total collapse - some you might not suspect and some are all too obvious (iraq, haiti, sudan, the congo)... here's the "top 10" and a few more...
The 10 most at-risk countries in the index have already shown clear signs of state failure. Ivory Coast, a country cut in half by civil war, is the most vulnerable to disintegration; it would probably collapse completely if U.N. peacekeeping forces pulled out. It is followed by the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Sudan, Iraq, Somalia, Sierra Leone, Chad, Yemen, Liberia, and Haiti. The index includes others whose instability is less widely acknowledged, including Bangladesh (17th), Guatemala (31st), Egypt (38th), Saudi Arabia (45th), and Russia (59th).

here's the twelve indicators that are used to determine the potential for the collapse of a nation... both the criteria and the list have been compiled by the fund for peace...
Social Indicators

1. Mounting Demographic Pressures

2. Massive Movement of Refugees or Internally Displaced Persons creating Complex Humanitarian Emergencies

3. Legacy of Vengeance-Seeking Group Grievance or Group Paranoia

4. Chronic and Sustained Human Flight

Economic Indicators

5. Uneven Economic Development along Group Lines

6. Sharp and/or Severe Economic Decline

Political Indicators

7. Criminalization and/or Delegitimization of the State

8. Progressive Deterioration of Public Services

9. Suspension or Arbitrary Application of the Rule of Law and Widespread Violation of Human Rights

10. Security Apparatus Operates as a "State Within a State"

11. Rise of Factionalized Elites

12. Intervention of Other States or External Political Actors

and here's a brief narrative that talks about the criteria...
A state is failing when its government is losing physical control of its territory or lacks a monopoly on the legitimate use of force. Other symptoms of state failure include the erosion of authority to make collective decisions, an inability to provide reasonable public services, and the loss of the capacity to interact in formal relations with other states as a full member of the international community. As suggested by the list of 12 indicators, extensive corruption and criminal behavior, inability to collect taxes or otherwise draw on citizen support, large-scale involuntary dislocation of the population, sharp economic decline, group-based inequality, and institutionalized persecution or discrimination are other hallmarks of state failure. States can fail at varying rates of decline through explosion, implosion or erosion.

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Romney goes for the fundie vote

rick santorum will be so happy to know that mass. is turning away from being the liberal flesh-pot cesspool he so blithely describes...
Three years after expressing support for ''the substance" of Roe v. Wade, Governor Mitt Romney [MA] today criticizes the landmark ruling that legalized abortion and says the states should decide separately whether to allow it.

Romney outlines his abortion position in an opinion article today in The Boston Globe, a day after he vetoed a bill that would expand access to the so-called ''morning after" pill, a high dose of hormones that women can take to prevent pregnancy up to five days after sex.


''I understand that my views on laws governing abortion set me in the minority in our Commonwealth," Romney says in the op-ed article. ''I am prolife. I believe that abortion is the wrong choice, except in cases of incest, rape, and to save the life of the mother. I wish the people of America agreed, and that the laws of our nation could reflect that view."

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EU Ambassador Gray

it's still too early in the morning (10:30 CET) to be exposed to this kind of nauseating news...
President Bush on Monday chose C. Boyden Gray, a former White House counsel who has been steering a group formed to push the president's Supreme Court nominee, to be the U.S. ambassador to the European Union.


Recently, he has been founder and chairman of Committee for Justice, an influential conservative group formed to counter organizations on the left in the battle over Supreme Court nominees.


Gray is also on the board of Progress for America, a group that spent heavily to oppose Sen. John Kerry in last year's election and spent more than $3 million to help Senate Republicans prevent filibusters on judicial nominations.

gotta take care of your buds...

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White House releasing some Roberts' documents...? Whaddaya know...!

quite frankly, i'm surprised... after the bolton stonewall, i fully expected more of the same... it's kind of telling that i should be surprised by honesty, openness, and transparency... granted, it's not the whole enchilada but better than nothing...
The Bush administration plans to release documents from Judge John G. Roberts's tenure in the White House counsel's office in the mid-1980's and his earlier job working for the attorney general, but will not make public papers covering the four years he spent as principal deputy solicitor general starting in 1989, two senior administration officials said Monday.

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Some "housing bubble" facts...

what many folks simply do not realize or, if they do, do not fully appreciate, is the extent to which the overheated real estate market has been driving the u.s. economy... besides the jobs and industries it supports, the consumer spending derived from equity appreciation and equity borrowing is massive...

case in point is my son and his wife whose home in reno appreciated 43% during their first year of ownership... half of that appreciation was borrowed against to assist in reducing the principal of student loans and paying off credit card debt... they may not be as vulnerable as some but i sense there is a huge amount of risk out there most of which lies on those least likely to be able to weather the storm should it come... here's some facts from the center for economic and policy research...

(thanks to atrios...)
The “Housing Bubble Fact Sheet” provides an overview of the housing market and its implications for the economy:

* Over 2 million housing units are being built annually, while the number of households is only growing by 1.4 million a year.

* Some regions of the U.S. have experienced a 60 percent increase in real home prices, while the average for the country as a whole is 45 percent. Historically, real home prices have not increased, as house prices have just kept pace with the overall rate of inflation.

* The collapse of the housing bubble will have a larger impact than the collapse of the stock bubble, since housing wealth is far more evenly distributed than stock wealth.

* The collapse of the housing bubble will likely throw the economy into a recession and require a federal bailout of the mortgage market. It could lead to a loss of 3.6 to 4.5 percentage points of GDP.

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Monday, July 25, 2005

How very interesting! Zimbabwe on the one hand, India on the other...

there's been front page coverage of the u.n.'s condemnation of robert mugabe, the head-up-his-ass dictator of zimbabwe, for uprooting hundreds of thousands of slum dwellers in zimbabwe's capital, harare...
The Zimbabwean government is facing scathing criticism from U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan for its massive crackdown on urban slum dwellers, believed to have left hundreds of thousands of people homeless.

"I call on the government to stop these forced demolitions immediately," Annan said in a statement after a receiving a report Friday from Anna Kajumulo Tibaijuka, his special envoy on the humanitarian situation in Zimbabwe.

Tibaijuka's 100-page report suggests that as many as 700,000 people in the capital Harare and other cities in the southern African country have become homeless as a result of the government's "indiscriminate actions" against the urban poor.

but, to my knowledge, no u.s. press coverage whatsoever has been devoted to a similarly massive dislocation in mumbai... oh, but wait... india's now a u.s. ally... oops... silly me...
Six months ago, when authorities in this port city, ordered slum demolitions that rendered 400,000 people homeless they were serving notice that it had little further use for the toiling masses that helped build this city into one of the world's great metropolises.

Last week, the new, unabashedly pro-rich, approach was confirmed when a chunk of 243 hectares of prime property owned by defunct textile mills was sold to the very politicians who had made their careers opposing such sales and gaining the votes of the workers.

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Could women do a better job of promoting peace?

instant gut reaction...? hell, yeah...! i'm in the middle of the 6th book of the delightful series by alexander mccall smith, the #1 ladies detective agency, "In the Company of Cheerful Ladies," that features mma ramotswe, a "traditionally built" botswanan woman who, i am sure, could successfully negotiate the most treacherous diplomatic minefields anywhere in the world without breaking a sweat and still leave plenty of smiles all around at the end...
Women are at the forefront of community-level conflict resolution but are rarely included in higher-level peace processes, leading to a sexist politics of peace, declared four experts on women's involvement in peace negotiations Monday.

Measures like Security Council resolution 1325, passed in 2000 and which mandates increased involvement of women in national and international negotiations, has raised awareness of the problem of unequal gender representation in conflict resolution.

However, little real progress has been made, said Nyaradzai Gumbonzvanda, a programme director at the United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM).

”There is awareness, but awareness is not enough. The awareness hasn't translated into action,” she said at a press conference that drew 24 reporters -- all of them women.

”As we approach the five-year anniversary of 1325 in October, what's needed is stronger support for women's participation in all efforts to promote and maintain peace and security,” added Joanne Sandler the deputy director of UNIFEM.

The work women do at local and regional levels is central to peace-building processes, but ”women's roles are often undervalued or ignored, despite the fact that it is their right to participate on equal terms with men in all governance and decision-making processes,” Gumbonzvanda said.

ok, sure, it's women's "right to participate" but, even more practically, let's get people in there who can make it WORK...!

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Franchise opportunity: Be your own boss... Run a terrorist cell...

Choice locations available world-wide... Act now...!
"They all want to be part of this phenomenon," said Loretta Napoleoni, author of Terror Incorporated: Tracing the Dollars Behind the Terror Networks, as she explained the terror wave. "It's not like someone is telling [the militants], 'You bomb on the first of July.'"


"Iraq has been an absolute gift to al-Qaida," said Paul Rogers, a professor of peace studies at England's Bradford University. "[Al-Qaida] seems to have no difficulty in getting more and more recruits."


The attacks in London and Egypt also could be seen as an attempt to demonstrate al-Qaida's prowess in the face of the U.S.-led war on terrorism, said Mustafa Alani, a security analyst at a Dubai-based think-tank, the Gulf Research Center.

"They're saying this war is not winnable," Alani said. "If you look at the map of al-Qaida operations, they stretch from London to Bali to Istanbul to Mombasa to Saudi Arabia and Iraq."

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Sunday, July 24, 2005

"Congress should insist..." (assuming they have cojones, of course)

Mr. McCain and Mr. Graham may propose language early this week as an amendment to the defense operations bill. Their measure would require all interrogations to be conducted according to the norms of the Army manual and forbid "cruel, inhumane and degrading" treatment of all foreign detainees. Currently, the administration contends that prisoners held by the CIA abroad may be subject to such abuse.

The GOP amendment could correct some of the most serious problems behind the continuing scandal over abuses of prisoners at Guantanamo, the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq and elsewhere. Yet rather than work with the Republican senators, the White House is crudely threatening to veto the defense bill if it contains any language on prisoners. The administration's message is that Congress should have no say over how the United States questions or prosecutes the thousands of foreigners it is holding, including those on American bases. Just such highhandedness helped get the administration into the mess it faces with foreign detainees. Congress should insist on a different approach.

c'mon, wapo... let's not lapse into another chemically-induced pipe dream... bushco is bound and determined to continue its systematic dismantling of the separate-but-equal, checks and balances-driven, constitutionally-mandated tri-partite branches of government... congress "insisting" on a "different approach" would be a reasonable suggestion if we were talking about a reasonable administration - but we're not... any semblance of reason disappeared in late 2000 in florida...

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Profile of Howard Dean and the state of the Democratic Party

very, very good profile of howard dean incorporated in an overview of the state of the democratic party in today's boston globe (reg. req'd)... long, extremely well-written, and definitely worthwhile...
[Howard Dean says,] "I still think it's a Democratic country with a big D, as long as we're centrist Democrats. There's a difference between being a centrist Democrat and being a Republican, and I really want to make sure the country knows that there is."

He likely will have one chance, and that will be in 2006. There is an unpopular lame duck president whose allies are nervous, and there are the congressional gains that are customary to the opposition party. Watch what happens in Nebraska. Watch what happens in Montana. If what he's trying to do out in the country works, Dean will keep his job. If not, there will be a powerful push to bring in a more conventional national chairman in advance of the 2008 presidential election.

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Telesur update

aw, shit... you guys in d.c...!! it didn't have to come to this... all you're doing is pissing off everybody in latin america who would actually like to be on the side of the u.s. if only we weren't so goddamed high and mighty about telling everybody what's up and how to live their lives...

believe it or not, there's one hell of a lot of people around the world who are fully capable of thinking for themselves and making up their own minds about what is true and what isn't... if telesur proves to be nothing but a propaganda mouthpiece, everybody's gonna figure it out damn quick... god, sometimes i just can't stomach how my country goes about its business...

(for earlier posts, see here and here...)
Sunday will be the first day of broadcasting for a new Latin America-wide TV network aimed at competing with U.S. and European international news stations.


But the minister [Venezuelan Information Minister Andrés Izarra] warned that the U.S. government could attempt to jam the station's broadcasts, which will initially cover four hours a day: ”Our technological capacity is limited, and the United States is obviously superior in that aspect...We do not rule out the possibility of having to seek other routes, besides satellite, to air our programming.”

Even before the content of Telesur's programming has become clear, the U.S. House of Representatives passed an amendment Wednesday authorising Washington to create a station that would broadcast exclusively to Venezuela to ”provide a consistently accurate, objective, and comprehensive source of news.”

Through its embassy in Washington, the Venezuelan government responded that all continent-wide cable and satellite stations already operate freely in Venezuela, where most of the local media outlets are not only privately-owned, but are controlled by the opposition.

The sponsor of the amendment in the U.S. legislature, Republican Rep. Connie Mack of the state of Florida, described Telesur as a threat to the United States that would undermine the balance of power in the western hemisphere and spread Chávez's ”anti-American, anti-freedom rhetoric.”

He also likened it to the pan-Arab satellite channel al-Jazeera.

message: "we're the big dogs... you get your information from US... truth is what we say it is... no need to get it from anywhere else..."

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Frank Rich on Plamegate

the nearly-always-excellent frank rich writes a long and quite readable synopsis of plamegate and tosses in this overlooked tidbit...
When the president decided not to replace Sandra Day O'Connor with a woman, why did he pick a white guy and not nominate the first Hispanic justice, his friend Alberto Gonzales? Mr. Bush was surely not scared off by Gonzales critics on the right (who find him soft on abortion) or left (who find him soft on the Geneva Conventions). It's Mr. Gonzales's proximity to this [Plamegate] scandal that inspires real fear.

doggone... such a shame... the confirmation hearings would have been s-o-o-o-o interesting too...!

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A thoughtful review of what appears to be a very thoughtful book...

the u.k.'s observer reviews a book entitled "Mediated: How the Media Shapes Your World and the Way You Live in It," billed as nothing less than a way "to think afresh about who you are and how you came to believe what you believe..."
Almost everything, you see, comes to us through some media prism, which, in turn, colours not just our view of this life, but our own self-definition. We are products of immense, often inchoate, media indoctrination.

Moreover, the very pattern of life we take for granted, our normality, is hectic, digital and new, quite different in kind from that of even recent generations.

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A military, not a nation, at war...

The Bush administration's rallying call that America is a nation at war is increasingly ringing hollow to men and women in uniform, who argue in frustration that America is not a nation at war, but a nation with only its military at war.

From bases in Iraq and across the United States to the Pentagon and the military's war colleges, officers and enlisted personnel quietly raise a question for political leaders: if America is truly on a war footing, why is so little sacrifice asked of the nation at large?

why does it ring hollow...? because bushco is hollow or, as we used to say in corporate life, nothing but a bunch of empty suits... i suspect that when they look in the mirror, there is no reflection...

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