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And, yes, I DO take it personally: 12/25/2005 - 01/01/2006
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And, yes, I DO take it personally

Saturday, December 31, 2005

The NYT Ombudsman vs. the NYT Executive Editor and Publisher

oh, now THIS is gonna be interesting...
An internal faceoff at the New York Times is set to go public in Sunday editions when the public editor accuses his bosses of 'stonewalling' him in his attempts to understand the decision to report on NSA eavesdropping after at least a year's delay, RAW STORY has learned.

In his bi-weekly column slated for Sunday's edition, Byron Calame says the paper's response has been "woefully inadequate" and reveals that he e-mailed a list of 28 questions to the executive editor and publisher who declined to answer, the first time that's happened since he became the paper's ombudsman.

prediction: this is gonna be all over the media tomorrow and in the days to come... it's also going to fall right in with the DoJ investigation into the leak, announced just yesterday...

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Russia to Ukraine - no natural gas for you...!

not a happy new year for kiev and the ukraine... argentina's got some natural gas worries of its own, given that a great deal of argentina's supply comes from bolivia where president-elect morales is coming in to office on a platform of nationalizing the natural gas industry and potentially imposing significant increases on the prices of natural gas exports...
Russian gas supplies to Ukraine will be cut at 0700 GMT on Sunday, state-owned firm Gazprom announced after last-ditch talks failed to settle a price dispute.

The row erupted after Ukraine rejected Russian plans for a 460% price rise.

Earlier on Saturday, Russia's President Vladimir Putin offered a three-month price freeze as long as Kiev agreed to pay the higher price after that.

But after fresh talks, Gazprom said the offer had been rejected by Kiev and supplies would end as planned.

Ukraine currently pays $50 per 1,000 cubic metres of gas. Gazprom wants to increase the price to what it says is the market rate of $230.

Russian gas supplies account for about 30% of Ukraine's total consumption.

saying goodbye to 30% of your natural gas supply has gotta be tough... gagging down a 460% price increase has gotta be even tougher... putin's effectively nationaled gazprom and is using it to bludgeon the ukraine into rejoining the russian sphere of influence... let's see how far it's gonna get him...

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20 minutes ago, the New Year came to Macedonia

i've been listening to the online service of antenna 5, a radio station in skopje, macedonia... macedonia is four hours ahead of argentina time, 6 hours ahead of the u.s. east coast, and the clock turned midnight there approximately 20 minutes ago... they've been playing party music all evening and, at the stroke of 12, after the countdown from 10 and all the on-air staff jumping on and wishing everyone a happy new year, their musical salute was - are you ready? - YMCA... i'm still chuckling... i'll be seeing my friends there later in january... can't wait...

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New Years Eve in Buenos Aires

no need to be unduly repetitive... just see my post from christmas eve...

the only difference is that even MORE fireworks are set off on new years eve than on christmas eve, if that's possible... the best comparison of these two days to a holiday in the states is to the 4th of july - big gatherings of family and friends, lots of b-b-q and other goodies, plenty of beer and hard cider, hordes of kids vacuuming up liters and liters of soda and every edible in sight and then, of course, the fuegos artificiales (fireworks)... and there's nothing wussy about THESE fireworks, my friends... they are of a size and explosive power that haven't been legal in the u.s. since i was a little nipper... i managed to retain all my appendages from last weekend... let's see if i can keep the record clean tonight...

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Flooding in Reno...!

my blogger colleague, skadi, reports on flooding in reno...
The Reno Hilton is flooding as per 1997. If the lake at the driving range fills, the airport will flood and close.

Clearing of debris at bridges downtown is helping. You should see the piles of debris they are pulling out of the river.

But the pictures from the Hilton don't look good. Not sure if the sandbag efforts are going to help. Just a flow of water from the river to the reservoir. Amazing.

Channel 8, doing disaster coverage as no other local station can, is keeping everyone well briefed.

Lyon County is experiencing localized and flash flooding. A shelter has been opened at Sutro Elementary. Sounds like Dayton is taking a hit. Very near the Carson River.

I may be going to Douglas to help out at the Red Cross shelter that they are expecting to open. The Truckee has gone past flood stage, peak yet to arrive.

Sparks especially hard hit. Raw sewage now seeping into the industrial area.

from the national weather service...
1100 AM PST SAT DEC 31 2005




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US preparing for Iran strike...?

jeralyn asks the right question...
Where is the U.S. media on this? It's all over the European newspapers.

she quotes from der spiegel...
Recent reports in the German media suggest that the United States may be preparing its allies for an imminent military strike against facilities that are part of Iran's suspected clandestine nuclear weapons program.

spiegel goes on to say...
It's hardly news that US President George Bush refuses to rule out possible military action against Iran if Tehran continues to pursue its controversial nuclear ambitions. But in Germany, speculation is mounting that Washington is preparing to carry out air strikes against suspected Iranian nuclear sites perhaps even as soon as early 2006.

and i remember reading this tidbit a few weeks ago...
"[W]estern security sources" claim that during CIA Director Porter Goss' Dec. 12 visit to Ankara, he asked Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan to provide support for a possibile 2006 air strike against Iranian nuclear and military facilities. More specifically, Goss is said to have asked Turkey to provide unfettered exchange of intelligence that could help with a mission.

when are we going to get these bastards outta there...? huh...? i don't know how we can manage to struggle through another year with these criminals at the helm and, god forbid, we don't need any more "shock and awe..."

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2006 is going to be an interesting year for Latin America

let's just hope the bush cabal doesn't undertake a troop build-up in paraguay and further piss everybody off...

Bolivian President-elect
Evo Morales and Fidel Castro

Bolivian President-elect Evo Morales has arrived in Cuba on his first foreign trip since a sweeping election victory earlier this month.

Mr Morales was warmly welcomed by Cuban President Fidel Castro, who said his poll win "had shaken the world".

Mr Morales is set to become Bolivia's first indigenous president next month.

An admirer of Mr Castro, he described his visit to see him as "a meeting between two generations of fighters for dignity and independence".

The Cuban leader laid on a ceremonial welcome for Mr Morales, sending his personal jet to bring him to Havana.

Referring to the recent rise of left and centre-left politicians in Latin America, Mr Castro said: "It appears the map is changing, and we need to be reflective, to observe well and to be informed."

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More thoughts on the DoJ "leak" probe

Just my 2¢ on profmarcus' post below.

I believe this may also be an attempt by the WH to conflate the Valerie Plame leak investigation and the domestic spying leak investigation. Follow along with me. The majority of Americans understand that the leak outing CIA operative Valerie Plame, if not treasonous, did threaten national security as her mission was WMD. Bush has insisted that the secret program of warrantless wiretapping of American citizens is vital to national security. Again, they are trying to muddy the waters, as they always do. It's along the same lines of the "Clinton did it too!" defense. That is, all leaks of government activity, regardless of what side of the law they fall on, are bad.

I think this line of reasoning will fail.

First of all, Americans get that their President ordered the NSA to spy on them without any oversight or warrant whatsover. Yes, there are some nimrods who will say, "Hey, I don't care. I haven't done anything wrong, so go ahead." But the majority of Americans get what is actually being done here. The President believes he is above the law. King George believes he doesn't have to follow the same rules as the entire rest of the nation. We don't like it. And for those nimrods who think it's just hunky-dory, ask them if they would feel the same way if President Hillary Clinton was at the helm.

Second, there is another thing that is just starting to sink in. The warrantless spying may screw up real terrorist investigations and prosecutions. Real bad guys might go free because our vigilante President ignored due process.

Americans know that wiretaps (and any other search warrant) must be approved by a judge. We have watched too many episodes of "Law and Order" to know that cops conducting searches without a warrant, no matter how they try to frame it later to the judge, is the quickest way to get the case (or evidence gathered) thrown out. Already we are seeing this with regards to current criminal prosecutions ranging from terrorism to drug crimes.

Yeah, that's effective.

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January 1, the Feast of the Circumcision - a friend's lament

and, NOW, a la monty python, for something COMPLETELY DIFFERENT...
January 1st is almost upon us, and then is gone, uncelebrated once again!

We were raised in a devout society celebrating important holidays. But what has happened to the really important ones? The ones that happened then left us with a sense of loss. The day arrives, but who gives a fuck? Who even knows? The day of the knife, replaced by pigskin. What happened to the Feast of the Circumcision?

Papists once again scheme grand plans to rule the world, and that day comes sooner than you might think. Daily we hear of the coming pandemic. What is being done to prevent it? Will these Voodoo rituals across the globe slaughtering millions of chickens, geese, etc, save us? Can our governments and pharmaceutical companies protect us? No! There is only one power capable of preventing the impending misery and deaths of 10s of millions of the worlds population.

Will that tiny city/state save us (I don't refer to Andorra)? They have the power. They used to share it with all who desired. They took the power away. Why do they deny us the powers of St. Blasius?

i had to go look this up...
St. Blasius was Bishop of Sebaste in Armenia and most of the acounts place his martyrdom in the reign of Licinius (about 316).


The veneration of the Oriental saint was brought at an early date into Europe, as is shown by the recitals in the historical martyrologies of the ninth century, and the Latin recension of the legend of St. Blasius; so that Blasius became one of the most popular saints of the Middle Ages. The actual reason for the unusual veneration has not yet been made clear. Most probably one ground was that according to the legend he was a physician and wonderful cures were ascribed to him; for this reason the faithful sought his help and intercession when ill.


In the Latin Church his feast falls on 3 February, in the Oriental Churches on 11 February.


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WH: no role in leak probe

first reaction - ROTFLMAO...

second reaction - PISSED...

how can bush, through his talking dummy, trent duffy, have the effrontery to say something like this after he, in his radio address of december 17, expressed hope that it would happen...? i may have been born at night but it certainly wasn't LAST night...

The White House said overnight it had no role in the Justice Department's decision to investigate the leaking of classified information indicating that President George W. Bush authorised a secret government wiretap program.

"The Justice Department undertook this action on its own, which is the way it should be," White House spokesman Trent Duffy said in Crawford, Texas, where the President was enjoying a year-end vacation on his ranch.

if you think the justice department was acting solely on its own volition, come with me... i have a few choice pieces of florida real estate i am willing to let go for a bargain basement price... and let's make sure to do it BEFORE you read this...
President Bush’s announcement Friday, that the Justice Department would begin an investigation into the leak that brought forth his probably illegal domestic spying project, is clearly political and meant to insulate the White House and intelligence agencies from further public scrutiny by saying they are under a criminal prosecution.

It will be up to Congress to undertake a serious investigation, issuing its own subpoenas, and calling the major participants to testify.

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Tommy and Jack... It was all about the money (AND the power AND the influence)

jack and tommy really didn't care much where the money came from as long as the check didn't bounce...
The U.S. Family Network, a public advocacy group that operated in the 1990s with close ties to Rep. Tom DeLay and claimed to be a nationwide grass-roots organization, was funded almost entirely by corporations linked to embattled lobbyist Jack Abramoff, according to tax records and former associates of the group.

During its five-year existence, the U.S. Family Network raised $2.5 million but kept its donor list secret. The list, obtained by The Washington Post, shows that $1 million of its revenue came in a single 1998 check from a now-defunct London law firm whose former partners would not identify the money's origins.

Two former associates of Edwin A. Buckham, the congressman's former chief of staff and the organizer of the U.S. Family Network, said Buckham told them the funds came from Russian oil and gas executives. Abramoff had been working closely with two such Russian energy executives on their Washington agenda, and the lobbyist and Buckham had helped organize a 1997 Moscow visit by DeLay (R-Tex.).

what a sweet, sweet deal... cultivate powerful and influential friends and then charge others exorbitant sums of money just because you know them... yeah, ok, you'd have to actually produce the occasional result but, still, not a bad deal overall...

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Friday, December 30, 2005

"Something may be seriously wrong" with Iraq oil production

(from juan cole...)

oh, but not to worry... not now that ahmad chalabi's taking over as iraq oil minister after being thoroughly trounced in the election...
Reuters reports that "average exports in November fell to 1.21 million barrels a day - the lowest level since at least November 2003 - and down from 1.24 million barrels per day last month," indicating that something may be seriously wrong.

The figures for November were below earlier projections and lower than earlier export levels, indicating that something was seriously wrong. Apparently, in the south, tankers are lined up in the Gulf and waiting for 14 days to be loaded.
Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Chalabi has taken over direct control of the powerful Oil Ministry against the will of the incumbent minister Ibrahim Bahr al-Uloum, officials confirmed.

A ministry spokesman allied to Bahr al-Uloum said the country was facing an oil supply crisis. "Production in the north, centre and south is about to suffocate," he said.

i don't believe chalabi ever really gave much of a rip about being elected... it's power and money he craves and now, as oil minister, he's got both, never mind that nobody voted for him...

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Why, for god's sake, don't they INVESTIGATE THE SPYING INSTEAD...?

sorry... it was a stupid question... must have lost my head...
The Justice Department has opened an investigation into the leak of classified information about President Bush's secret domestic spying program.

The inquiry focuses on disclosures to The New York Times about warrantless surveillance conducted by the National Security Agency since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, officials said.

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NewsMax runs an American Family Association press release as "news"

how f-ing typical...

here's the link to my previous post, the link to the newsmax "news article," and the links to the original article and also to the petition on the afa's site... you can do the comparison (if you're so moved)...

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Juan Cole's 2005 Iraq and Middle East review - overall, not a lot has changed

one of the things i both hate and love about the end of the year is looking back... hate it because i would much rather look forward... love it because it's a good opportunity to take stock and reflect...
The Middle East and America in 2005: How the Region Has Changed

The Bush administration has several major policy goals in the Middle East, which are often self-contradictory. They include:

1. Fighting terrorism emanating from the region, which might menace the US or its major allies, Israel and Saudi Arabia.

2. Ensuring the security of petroleum production in the Oil Gulf, which contains 2/3s of the world's proven reserves.

3. Reestablishing order in Afghanistan and ensuring that the Taliban and al-Qaeda cannot again use it as a base for Muslim radicalism.

4. Reestablishing order in Iraq and ensuring a government and system there favorable to US interests.

5. Weakening or overthrowing the governments of Syria and Iran, primarily because they are viewed as threats to Israel. As part of weakening Syria, the US applied enormous pressure to get its remaining troops out of Lebanon.

6. Pushing for democratization in the "Greater Middle East," even at the risk of alienating long-time US friends such as Egyptian dictator Hosni Mubarak.

Some parts of the Bush administration are more committed to some of these goals than to others, and huge foodfights seem to be taking place behind the scenes over what priority to give them each or how useful some of them are to US interests. The Neoconservatives, for instance, are very interested in shaping Iraq, but seem much less interested in Afghanistan. The State Department seems generally very nervous about the Iraq misadventure and not very enthusiastic about democratization.

The major developments in the region of 2005 have been momentous, but what is striking is how little the over-all dynamics have changed.

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"Bushisms," 2005 edition

a couple of years in a row, i received a desk calendar of bush quotes as a christmas gift... the quotes were, of course, of all the barely-literate things the bushter is famous for... it looks like 2005 will just add to the legend...
"Brownie, you're doing a heckuva job" was named on Thursday as U.S. President George W. Bush's most memorable phrase of 2005.


"The 'Brownie' quote leads our 2005 list of Bushisms -- memorable phrases or new words coined by the president," Payack said, adding that Bush may be the foremost White House creator of new words, citing such past efforts as "misunderestimate" (to seriously underestimate) and "embetter" (to make emotionally better).


Although the president did not originate any new words this year, he had several notable statements, Payack said, citing the following:

-- "See, in my line of work you got to keep repeating things over and over and over again for the truth to sink in, to kind of catapult the propaganda," Bush said in explaining his communications strategy last May.

-- "I think I may need a bathroom break. Is this possible?" Bush asked in a note to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice during a U.N. Security Council meeting in September.

-- "This notion that the United States is getting ready to attack Iran is simply ridiculous. And having said that, all options are on the table," Bush said in Brussels last February.

-- "In terms of timetables, as quickly as possible - whatever that means," the president said of his timeframe for passing Social Security legislation in March.

-- "Those who enter the country illegally violate the law," Bush said in describing illegal immigrants in Tucson, Arizona, last month.

god, would that these were the most grievous things we had to hold against george...

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That'll teach you to get drunk and be abusive

good bye and good luck...
A drunken passenger on a leisure flight from the UK to Spain was dropped at a tiny island off the African coast after he swore at the cabin crew, a newspaper reported on Friday.

The plane's captain decided to leave the man at Porto Santo, a volcanic outcrop in the Atlantic, after he became abusive when he was refused more alcohol, the Daily Mail said.

The plane, heading from northern England to the Spanish tourist island of Tenerife, diverted to the Portuguese island, which is just 10 miles long and four miles wide.

Police met the man at the airport. He is due to appear in court in mainland Portugal in January, the newspaper said.

The island's airport is a legacy of the Cold War when NATO considered making Porto Santo a frontline base to guard Europe's southern approaches.

With only half a dozen hotels and a few sandy beaches, Porto Santo is little known to most tourists who flock to the nearby, larger island of Madeira, a two hour ferry ride away.

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Argentina offers to help Uruguay relocate pulp mills

now, HERE'S something you don't see every day... usually it's just banging the table and making threats...
Argentina has told Uruguay that it is ready to finance or seek funds to cover part of the cost of a would-be relocation of two pulp mills under construction in Uruguay that Argentina claims will contaminate its waters.

The non-official proposal to relocate the plants was confirmed by two high-ranking sources in the Argentine government who said that Uruguay had not yet given a response, state-run news agency Télam said.

The cost of relocating the factories under construction in Fray Bentos is estimated at 10-14 million dollars.

well, how 'bout that... offering up something constructive... how novel...!

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Spying, torture, secret prisons and delegating death in GST - it's the new American way

the outstanding dana priest assembles some of the pieces in today's wapo...
The effort President Bush authorized shortly after Sept. 11, 2001, to fight al Qaeda has grown into the largest CIA covert action program since the height of the Cold War, expanding in size and ambition despite a growing outcry at home and abroad over its clandestine tactics, according to former and current intelligence officials and congressional and administration sources.

The broad-based effort, known within the agency by the initials GST, is compartmentalized into dozens of highly classified individual programs, details of which are known mainly to those directly involved.

GST includes programs allowing the CIA to capture al Qaeda suspects with help from foreign intelligence services, to maintain secret prisons abroad, to use interrogation techniques that some lawyers say violate international treaties, and to maintain a fleet of aircraft to move detainees around the globe. Other compartments within GST give the CIA enhanced ability to mine international financial records and eavesdrop on suspects anywhere in the world.

delegating death is just one of the novel features of gst...
Bush delegated much of the day-to-day decision-making and the creation of individual components to then-CIA Director George J. Tenet, according to congressional and intelligence officials who were briefed on the finding at the time.

"George could decide, even on killings," one of these officials said, referring to Tenet. "That was pushed down to him. George had the authority on who was going to get it."

Tenet, according to half a dozen former intelligence officials, delegated most of the decision making on lethal action to the CIA's Counterterrorist Center.

Killing an al Qaeda leader with a Hellfire missile fired from a remote-controlled drone might have been considered assassination in a prior era and therefore banned by law.

But after Sept. 11, four former government lawyers said, it was classified as an act of self-defense and therefore was not an assassination. "If it was an al Qaeda person, it wouldn't be an assassination," said one lawyer involved.

ok, now can we sit back and wait for the predictable attacks on dana priest and the wapo for jeopardizing national security by telling the american people what's being done in their name...? ready...? start the countdown...

bonus question: what does gst stand for...?

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International group suddenly pops up to review Iraqi elections

i tried to find out who is behind this group since it's clearly not the u.n. which has already endorsed the december 15 vote...
An international team agreed Thursday to review Iraq's parliamentary elections, a decision lauded by Sunni Arab and secular Shiite groups who have staged repeated protests around Iraq complaining of widespread fraud and intimidation.


The decision by the International Mission for Iraqi Elections to send a team of assessors should help placate opposition complaints of ballot box rigging and mollify those groups who felt their views were not being heard, especially among hardline Sunni Arab parties.


The presence of two Arab experts on the International Mission for Iraqi Elections team could go far in helping to convince Iraqis that the review of the vote will be fair. The team will also consist of a Canadian and a European.

The independent group said it helped monitor the elections in Baghdad and was "assisted by monitors from countries of the European Union working under IMIE's umbrella."


"The Electoral Commission has once again demonstrated its commitment to fair and credible elections that meet international standards," Rice said in a statement welcoming the invitation to the independent team.

i'm always somewhat suspicious when a group like this that no one has ever heard of, backed by the u.s., suddenly appears out of nowhere... i'll be waiting for juan cole's comments...

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Thursday, December 29, 2005

Few safeguards of a citizen’s constitutional rights and no real checks and balances from other branches of government... The new America...?

as i noted in an earlier post, george has declared war on the judiciary in order to extend his executive powers to limits heretofore unknown in the united states... robert parry shares his thoughts on bush's claim to absolute executive powers and echoes my own deepest concerns...
In 2006, the United States will be confronted with a stark choice about what kind of country it intends to be, or – in the quaint language of the Founding Fathers – what it will pass down to “posterity.” There is no room left to duck the issues or finesse the facts.

Either the United States will accept a future governed by an authoritarian Executive, with few safeguards of a citizen’s constitutional rights and no real checks and balances from other branches of government, or the American people will challenge the White House in defense of a traditional Republic, where no man is above the law.

George W. Bush has left almost no wiggle room. He has asserted as clearly as any Executive could that he is the law; that he can define his own powers; that the Constitution is whatever he says it is; that Congress can’t constrain him; and that the Courts must not try to “usurp” his authority.


Since the terror attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, Bush has asserted, in effect, that there are no limits on his powers as commander in chief at a time of war, even a shadowy conflict like the War on Terror that may last forever.


The American people now have two choices: they can accede to Bush’s robust concept of Executive power – that it is virtually unlimited – or they can defend the traditional concept of a robust democratic Republic – that the rule of law applies to everyone no matter how exalted or modest your status.

very, very troubled times for the united states and no end in sight...

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Rick Santorum signs up for Justice Sunday

Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pa.) has joined the list of distinguished speakers for Family Research Council's simulcast television program, "Justice Sunday III -- Proclaim Liberty Throughout the Land!"

ricky's dying in pa... and tommy-boy is languishing under indictment... and the hopefully-soon-to-be-late bill frist ain't exactly swimming in credibility these days either... my, the family research council's justice sunday has certainly fallen off in starpower...

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Harry Reid's heading for the (red) hustings

MY senator...
U.S. Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid said he's planning a tour of five states traditionally thought to be Republican strongholds to spread the word that it's time for a change in Washington, D.C.

The Las Vegas Review-Journal reports today that the Democratic senator from Nevada plans to visit Idaho, Utah, Arizona, Colorado and Nebraska next month.

Reid called the Republican-led Congress the "most corrupt in history" during a Dec. 18 interview with Fox News, and has been increasingly critical of Republican lawmakers and current scandals in recent interviews.

give 'em hell...

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The Executive Branch vs. the Federal Judiciary

if bush is able to stack the courts with litmus-tested loyalists, he won't be having to fight to get his way...
A federal appeals court infringed on President Bush's authority to run the war on terror when it refused to let prosecutors take custody of "enemy combatant" Jose Padilla, the Justice Department said yesterday, as it urged the U.S. Supreme Court to intervene.

The sharply worded Justice Department filing was the latest salvo in an increasingly contentious battle over Padilla, a U.S. citizen arrested in Chicago in 2002 and initially accused of plotting to detonate a radiological "dirty bomb." Padilla was held for more than three years by the military before he was indicted last month in Miami on separate criminal terrorism charges.


It was another remarkable turn in Padilla's case, which has evolved into a legal spat between the executive and judicial branches of government. The dispute is especially unusual because it involves the 4th Circuit, which has been the administration's venue of choice for high-profile terrorism cases since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

The 4th Circuit has given the government extraordinary latitude on national security matters, ruling for prosecutors in the cases of Sept. 11 conspirator Zacarias Moussaoui and Yaser Esam Hamdi. Hamdi and Padilla are the two U.S. citizens held as enemy combatants as part of the government's campaign against terror since Sept. 11.

The Justice Department brief said the 4th Circuit had mischaracterized the events of Padilla's incarceration and engaged in "an unwarranted attack on the exercise of Executive discretion." Prosecutors accused the court of going so far as to "usurp" Bush's authority as the nation's commander-in-chief and his government's "prosecutorial discretion."

do ya suppose the 4th circuit may be having some reservations about handing the reins of unlimited and unopposed power to a president who claims such power is necessary in order to wage an endless war...?

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No American is above the law's limits

(from the aclu...)

(thanks to eddie c at daily kos...)

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The "Testy Kid" and the gang of Nixonian holdovers

more of what we already know but in molly ivins' inimitable style...
For those of you who have forgotten just what a stonewall paranoid Nixon was, the poor man used to stalk around the White House demanding that his political enemies be killed. Many still believe there was a certain Richard III grandeur to Nixon's collapse because he was also a man of notable talents. There is neither grandeur nor tragedy in watching this president, the Testy Kid, violate his oath to uphold the laws and Constitution of our country.

The Testy Kid wants to do what he wants to do when he wants to do it because he is the president, and he considers that sufficient justification for whatever he wants. He even finds lawyers like John Yoo, who tell him that whatever he wants to do is legal.

The creepy part is the overlap. Damned if they aren't still here, after all these years, the old Nixon hands -- Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld, the whole gang whose yearning for authoritarian government rose like a stink over the Nixon years. Imperial executive. Bring back those special White House guard uniforms. Cheney, like some malignancy that cannot be killed off, back at the same old stand, pushing the same old crap.

"Cheney, like some malignancy that cannot be killed off..." i just love how that rolls off the tongue, so easy-like...

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Bush facing reality against Rove's advice

facing reality may become the new bush strategy... oughta be interesting, given how much reality he has yet to face...
Although Rove raised concerns about giving critics too much ground, the younger-generation aides prevailed. Bush agreed to try the approach so long as he did not come off sounding too negative. Peter D. Feaver, a Duke University specialist on wartime public opinion who now works at the White House, helped draft a 35-page public plan for victory in Iraq, a paper principally designed to prove that Bush had one.

ain't that last line a hoot...? two and a half years later, bush is compelled to draft a plan for iraq... and this man is still our president...?

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Abramoff's M.O.: just "things that happened every day in Washington..."

the wapo, in today's edition, features an in-depth profile of jack abramoff, salted with the usual efforts to keep it "fair and balanced..."
A friend of two decades, Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.), defended Abramoff: "I think he's been dealt a bad hand and the worst, rawest deal I've ever seen in my life. Words like bribery are being used to describe things that happened every day in Washington and are not bribes."

if this is the way things happen "every day in washington," it's a fairly sorry portrait of how scummy "business as usual" has become and an extremely lame excuse for not doing anything about it... rohrabacher may be in the minority in defending abramoff, even among the r's (with the exception, of course, of those who may find themselves heading upriver to prison in abramoff's boat)...
"If anyone is not surprised at the rise and fall of Jack Abramoff, it is me," said Rich Bond, a former chairman of the Republican National Committee.


"This is at a scale that is really shocking," said [Former Oklahoma Republican congressman Mickey] Edwards, who teaches public and international affairs at Princeton. "There is a certain kind of arrogance that in the past you might not have had. They were so supremely confident that there didn't seem to be any kind of moral compass here."

now here's a two-part question - will abramoff flip and who will be going upriver with him...?

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Wednesday, December 28, 2005

The Bush trademark: "A little-noticed holiday week executive order..."

bush is the sneakiest son-of-a-bitch that ever was...
The three military service chiefs have been dropped in the Bush administration's doomsday line of Pentagon succession, pushed beneath three civilian undersecretaries in Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld's inner circle.

A little-noticed holiday week executive order from President Bush moved the Pentagon's intelligence chief to the No. 3 spot in the succession hierarchy behind Rumsfeld. The second spot would be the deputy secretary of defense, but that position currently is vacant. The Army chief, which long held the No. 3 spot, was dropped to sixth.

The changes, announced last week, are the second in six months and mirror the administration's new emphasis on intelligence gathering versus combat in 21st century warfighting.

"mirror the administration's new emphasis on intelligence gathering versus combat...??" i don't friggin' think so... if there's anything that distinguishes the new line of succession, it's that they're all political appointees... if the changes "mirror" anything, it's that bush wants litmus-tested loyalists in the line of succession, not professionals who have earned their positions through hard work and merit... what a goddam son-of-a-bitch that man is...

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DeLay needs a power and influence fix - BAD...!

Delirium Tremens [commonly known as the DTs]

Delerium tremens is a medical emergency. It is an acute confusional state associated with tremor and autonomic dysfunction.

The essential feature, as defined by DSM-IIIR, is that it develops within one week following the cessation of heavy ingestion of alcohol or a reduction in the amount of alcohol ingested.

so, if alcoholics exhibit severe symptoms such as the DTs when withdrawing from alcohol use, whaddaya think delay is going through over withdrawal from power and influence...?
Texas' top criminal court agreed to consider U.S. Representative Tom DeLay's motion for a speedy trial on money laundering charges.

The state Court of Criminal Appeals, in a decision released late yesterday, gave Travis County District Attorney Ronnie Earle one week to submit a written response to the motions filed by lawyer Dick DeGuerin on behalf of the former U.S. House majority leader.


"Congressman DeLay's constituents, the citizens of the 22nd Congressional District, as well as the Republican delegation in the United States Congress are being deprived of the effective services of their elected representative as long as the charges remain unresolved," DeGuerin wrote.

i wonder just how many of his constituents are considering themselves "deprived..." for sure, tommy-boy is being "deprived" of his daily power and influence "fix..."

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The inexorable path to impeachment

martin garbus, writing in the huffpo, reminds me of something i had forgotten...
When Bush came into office, he signed an Exeutive Order making all of his, and his father’s, papers privileged. The order, extending 12 years out, also says if the President is incapacitated, then a third person can execute the privilege. This means anybody – a wife, a family lawyer, a child. The order also says the Vice President’s papers are privileged. It is an extraordinary Executive Order – this has never been anything like this. No one ever suggested a Vice President has executive privilege. If we do not find out what they are hiding, we will see witholding on a scale never before seen. He will no longer be able to use 9/11 and the war on terror as an excuse. It will confirm the fact that illegality and secrecy existed long before 9/11, that it started as soon as Bush-Cheney-Rumsfield got into office. It will show deliberate attempts to avoid any judicial or legislative oversight of the illegal use of executive privilege.

Impeachment procedures will come not because of wrongdoing but because of the discovery of lies.

they just have to go, all of them, soon... please, dear lord, let it be soon...

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John Nichols declares Wilkerson as the Executive Branch MVP

ok, he hasn't been with the executive branch since january and didn't really earn mvp status until just recently but, hair-splitting aside, i'll take truth-telling wherever i can find it...
MVP -- Executive Branch:

Yes, there was one. It's Lawrence B. Wilkerson, the retired U.S. Army colonel who served as chief of staff for Secretary of State Colin L. Powell until Powell exited the State Department in January, 2005. After leaving his position, Wilkerson began revealing the dark secrets of the Bush-Cheney interregnum, telling a New America Foundation gathering in October that during his years in the administration: "What I saw was a cabal between the vice president of the United States, Richard Cheney, and the secretary of defense, Donald Rumsfeld, on critical issues that made decisions that the bureaucracy did not know were being made." Wilkerson warned that, with "a president who is not versed in international relations and not too much interested in them either," the country is headed in an exceptionally dangerous direction. "I would say that we have courted disaster, in Iraq, in North Korea, in Iran, generally with regard to domestic crises like Katrina, Rita and I could go on back, we haven't done very well on anything like that in a long time," Wilkerson explained. "And if something comes along that is truly serious, truly serious, something like a nuclear weapon going off in a major American city, or something like a major pandemic, you are going to see the ineptitude of this government in a way that will take you back to the Declaration of Independence." That is truth telling of a quality and a scope all too rarely witnessed in the Washington of Bush and Cheney.

ummmm... no shit...

(thanks to steve at the washington note...)

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Technology glitch trumps best intentions

in the best-laid plans of mice and men department, the launch of my radio blog review, planned for today, was scrubbed because our internet access went down...


we're still going ahead with plans for a one hour program, monday through friday, 11:30 - 12:30, argentina regional time (two hours ahead of u.s. eastern standard time, five hours ahead of u.s. pacific standard time and three hours behind greenwich mean time in london and the u.k.) with a rebroadcast from 10:30 - 11:30 p.m. art... be sure to listen in...

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New Bolivian President opts for frugality

i like this guy already...
The socialist president-elect of Bolivia, Evo Morales, has said he will cut his salary by half when he takes office next month.

Mr Morales said his cabinet would follow suit and that members of Bolivia's parliament would be expected to cut their allowances.

He also reaffirmed his commitment to change Bolivia's economic system.

At the moment, Mr Morales, an Aymara Indian born into poverty, rents a single room in a shared house.

When he moves into the presidential palace next month, Mr Morales is not planning to switch to a jet-set lifestyle.

Announcing the salary cut, he said that in a country as poor as Bolivia, the president and his cabinet should share the burden.

The money saved will go on social programmes, particularly in the field of education.

but my cynical side wants to know just how long it will last...

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"That's no America I know . . . to be led down such a twisted path."

if anyone had told me back in 2001...

(robert steinback in the miami herald...)
If, back in 2001, anyone had told me that four years after bin Laden's attack our president would admit that he broke U.S. law against domestic spying and ignored the Constitution -- and then expect the American people to congratulate him for it -- I would have presumed the girders of our very Republic had crumbled.

Had anyone said our president would invade a country and kill 30,000 of its people claiming a threat that never, in fact, existed, then admit he would have invaded even if he had known there was no threat -- and expect America to be pleased by this -- I would have thought our nation's sensibilities and honor had been eviscerated.

If I had been informed that our nation's leaders would embrace torture as a legitimate tool of warfare, hold prisoners for years without charges and operate secret prisons overseas -- and call such procedures necessary for the nation's security -- I would have laughed at the folly of protecting human rights by destroying them.

If someone had predicted the president's staff would out a CIA agent as revenge against a critic, defy a law against domestic propaganda by bankrolling supposedly independent journalists and commentators, and ridicule a 37-year Marie Corps veteran for questioning U.S. military policy -- and that the populace would be more interested in whether Angelina is about to make Brad a daddy -- I would have called the prediction an absurd fantasy.

That's no America I know, I would have argued. We're too strong, and we've been through too much, to be led down such a twisted path.

What is there to say now?

All of these things have happened. And yet a large portion of this country appears more concerned that saying ''Happy Holidays'' could be a disguised attack on Christianity.


President Bush recently confirmed that he has authorized wiretaps against U.S. citizens on at least 30 occasions and said he'll continue doing it. His justification? He, as president -- or is that king? -- has a right to disregard any law, constitutional tenet or congressional mandate to protect the American people.

Is that America's highest goal -- preventing another terrorist attack? Are there no principles of law and liberty more important than this? Who would have remembered Patrick Henry had he written, ``What's wrong with giving up a little liberty if it protects me from death?''

Bush would have us excuse his administration's excesses in deference to the ''war on terror'' -- a war, it should be pointed out, that can never end. Terrorism is a tactic, an eventuality, not an opposition army or rogue nation. If we caught every person guilty of a terrorist act, we still wouldn't know where tomorrow's first-time terrorist will strike. Fighting terrorism is a bit like fighting infection -- even when it's beaten, you must continue the fight or it will strike again.

Are we agreeing, then, to give the king unfettered privilege to defy the law forever? It's time for every member of Congress to weigh in: Do they believe the president is above the law, or bound by it?

and, yes, what IS there to say now...? for me, it's the same thing i've been saying for months - the bastards have to go and the sooner the better...

(thanks to kos at daily kos via john at americablog...)

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Tuesday, December 27, 2005

My big step - a radio blog review

i've been helping put together the first english-language radio station in buenos aires and, in fact, in the entire country of argentina... starting tomorrow, wednesday, i'm going to be starting a new show, a blog review show, where i'll highlight some of the more interesting posts from blogs i regularly follow (and, yes, the occasional post from this blog as well)...

initially, the plan is for a one hour program, monday through friday, 11:30 - 12:30, argentina regional time (two hours ahead of u.s. eastern standard time, five hours ahead of u.s. pacific standard time and three hours behind greenwich mean time in london and the u.k.) with a rebroadcast from 10:30 - 11:30 art...

you can listen in at this link...

if you do happen to listen in and have some comments or feedback, i'd love to hear from you...

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The American Family Association is having another shit fit

you don't like it...? don't watch it... heaven forbid that it might actually reflect real people with real lives...
Email NBC Chairman Bob Wright over NBC's latest show, "The Book of Daniel."

NBC is touting the network's mid-season replacement series "The Book of Daniel" with language that implies it is a serious drama about Christian people and Christian faith. The main character is Daniel Webster, a drug-addicted Episcopal priest whose wife depends heavily on her mid-day martinis.

Webster regularly sees and talks with a very unconventional white-robed, bearded Jesus. The Webster family is rounded out by a 23-year-old homosexual Republican son, a 16-year-old daughter who is a drug dealer, and a 16-year-old adopted son who is having sex with the bishop's daughter.

At the office, his lesbian secretary is sleeping with his sister-in-law.

Network hype – and the mainstream media – call it "edgy," "challenging" and "courageous." The hour-long limited drama series will debut January 6 with back-to-back episodes and will air on Friday nights. The writer for the series is a practicing homosexual.

The homosexual son will be network prime-time's only regular male homosexual character in a drama series.

Please use the link below to send a letter to NBC Chairman Bob Wright.

Next, please forward this to your family and friends today!

forget the stepford wives, these folks want us to lead STEPFORD LIVES...!
Dear Chairman Wright:

I am disappointed that NBC has decided to air "The Book of Daniel." I know that AFA will keep us posted on which companies desire to underwrite this program.

We are told in Hebrews that "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever." Obviously you don't believe that. It would be beneficial to all if NBC showed a little more respect for Christians who believe the Bible.

I ask you to inform all NBC affiliates, in writing, (according to your testimony before a Congressional hearing last year) they are not required to air this program if they choose not to.

Dear Donald E. Wildmon,
Chairman, American Family Association

Bite me...

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Bushco spies on the U.N...? These bastards HAVE TO GO...!

good lord... like the energizer bunny, this spy story just keeps on going...
President Bush and other top officials in his administration used the National Security Agency to secretly wiretap the home and office telephones and monitored private email accounts of members of the United Nations Security Council in early 2003 to determine how foreign delegates would vote on a U.N. resolution that paved the war for the U.S.-led war in Iraq, NSA documents show.

Two former NSA officials familiar with the agency's campaign to spy on U.N. members say then-National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice authorized the plan at the request of President Bush, who wanted to know how delegates were going to vote. Rice did not immediately return a call for comment.


Disclosure of the wiretaps and the monitoring of U.N. members' email came on the eve of the Iraq war in the British-based Observer. The leak -- which the paper acquired in the form of an email via a British translator -- came amid a U.S. push urging U.N. members to vote in favor of a resolution that said Iraq was in violation of U.N. resolution 1441, asserting that it had failed to rid the country of weapons of mass destruction.

News of the NSA spying on the U.N. received scant coverage in U.S. newspapers at the time. But with the explosive domestic spying report published in the New York Times last week, a closer examination of pre-war spying may shed light on whether the Bush administration has used the NSA for its own political purposes, as opposed to tracking down communications regarding potential terrorist threats against the U.S.

i don't know how i could be any more disgusted with my own government than i am now... i've been disgusted for a long time and, every time i say i couldn't get any more ticked off than i already am, guess what...? it gets worse...

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Tom Tomorrow's year in review

way, way, way too good to not post... unfortunately, it's also another reminder of just how un-funny some of what's happening really is...

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Steve Clemons to launch "Bolton-watch" blog in 2006

steve has been in the forefront of efforts to keep bolton's deconstructionist foreign affairs behavior on full public view... now that bolton's proving to be every bit as nasty in his new role as unconfirmed u.s. ambassador to the u.n., steve is ratcheting up a notch in his oversight role...
TWN [The Washington Note] -- which was keenly focused on blocking John Bolton's confirmation as Ambassador to the United Nations -- will be launching a "Bolton Watch" division of The Washington Note in early 2006.

I have been keeping my powder dry on Bolton and decided some time ago to give Bolton time to prove his critics, and me, wrong about the fundamental reasons we opposed him.

He started off politely on the surface, but underneath, he's done a great deal to harm America's foreign policy portfolio, and his crusades in the name of U.N. reform are actually designed to undermine any chance of achieving reasonable and serious reform.

Because Bolton was not confirmed by the Senate, his days at the U.N. are numbered -- but those days and his work during them need to have a more consistent monitor. This will not be a Bash-Bolton blog, but will call his actions and behavior as they are. If he gets on a course that is positive for American and UN interests, then the blog will highlight that. But as I suspect, he continues to vigorously work to undermine both the United Nations and enlightened American diplomacy, then this blog will expose him.

i'll be among the first to announce when it's up and running...

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George Bush's New Years resolution: stage a comeback

my new years resolution: get that gang of criminals out of government...
President Bush, bruised by months of setbacks, enters the new year hoping to win congressional battles over tax cuts and immigration, get rebellious Republicans back in step and nurture a new democracy in Iraq — the make-or-break issue of his legacy.

Expect the president to bring in 2006 the same way he ended the old
: Trumpeting good economic news and talking, reassuringly, about Iraq where excitement over a historic ballot has been tempered by growing disenchantment with the war and a death toll of U.S. troops that tops 2,160.

definition of insanity - doing the same things over and over and expecting different results...

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Speaking of trashing the environment: an update on the Argentina and Uruguay pulp and paper mill controversy

i posted about this some weeks back...

Argentina Uruguay
Uruguay has authorized the construction by Finnish and Spanish companies of two mills in the town of Fray Bentos, opposite the Entre Ríos town of Gualeguaychú. Entre Ríos authorities say the plants will pollute the Uruguay River, which divides the two countries.

Despite criticism from Montevideo and pleas from Buenos Aires, environmentalists from Entre Ríos yesterday vowed to go ahead with plans to block roads leading to Uruguay in protest at the construction of two controversial pulp mills.

to put this in context, this is the height of the summer tourist season for both argentina and uruguay... thousands and thousands of beach-loving argentines flock to punta del este, uruguay, at this time of year for sun and sand and the protestors are blockading the roads at one of the key points where vehicle traffic crosses from argentina to uruguay... needless to say, neither government is particularly happy about the mess... on the other hand, pulp and paper production is among the most toxic of industrial activities and the locals have every right to be concerned... the buenos aires herald has this to say...
The issue is the future of the soil people plant in, the air we breathe and the water we drink...


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Another bullshit defense of Bush's spying activity and an attack on concerned citizens

(Note: The authors of this NYT editorial are David B. Rivkin and Lee A. Casey . . . lawyers who served in the Justice Department in the Reagan and George H. W. Bush administrations.)
[T]he only thing outrageous about this policy is the outrage itself.


The president has the constitutional authority to acquire FOREIGN INTELLIGENCE [caps and italics added] without a warrant or any other type of judicial blessing.


The attempt, by Democrats and Republicans alike, to dismantle the president's core constitutional power in wartime is wrongheaded and should be vigorously resisted by the administration.

ah, but if it was ONLY foreign intelligence and if bush had ONLY used the perfectly adequate mechanisms that are already in place...
The contretemps its revelation has caused reveals much more about the chattering classes' fundamental antipathy to strong government in general, and strong executive power in particular, than it does about presidential overreaching.

The Constitution's framers did not vest absolute power in any branch of the federal government, including the courts, but they did create a strong executive and equipped the office with sufficient authority to act energetically to defend the national interest in wartime. That is what President Bush has done, and nothing more.

that's right... relegate me and anyone else who is watching civil liberties in the united states being washed away to the dustbin, all in the name of an endless war that serves only one purpose - allowing the bush administration to continue to accrue unlimited and unopposed power... this editorial is an insult to democracy, the constitution of the united states and to the intelligence of every concerned u.s. citizen... i'm digusted and outraged...

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Freeport-McMoRan loves money and hates the environment

folks... it's all about MONEY...
The closest most people will ever get to remote Papua, or the operations of Freeport-McMoRan, is a computer tour using Google Earth to swoop down over the rain forests and glacier-capped mountains where the American company mines the world's largest gold reserve.

Freeport-McMoRan Copper and Gold, an American company, operates this mine in the easternmost province of Indonesia, on the island of New Guinea.

A view of lowland area where Freeport has sent its mine waste, taken in 2000. By today, almost one billion tons of waste have been sent down the river from the copper and gold mine.

With a few taps on a keyboard, satellite images quickly reveal the deepening spiral that Freeport has bored out of its Grasberg mine as it pursues a virtually bottomless store of gold hidden inside. They also show a spreading soot-colored bruise of almost a billion tons of mine waste that the New Orleans-based company has dumped directly into a jungle river of what had been one of the world's last untouched landscapes.

freeport is hardly unique among american and other first world corporations that have no qualms about trashing the world we live in as long as they can get away with it... all one has to do is look at the terrible destruction wrought by companies in bolivia, as one example, or even in many of the western united states like, for instance, montana...

but in irian jaya, freeport is engaging in environmental destruction on a massive scale...

Much of that waste has already been dumped in the mountains surrounding the mine or down a system of rivers that descends steeply onto the island's low-lying wetlands, close to Lorentz National Park, a pristine rain forest that has been granted special status by the United Nations.

A multimillion-dollar 2002 study by an American consulting company, Parametrix, paid for by Freeport and its joint venture partner, Rio Tinto, and not previously made public, noted that the rivers upstream and the wetlands inundated with waste were now "unsuitable for aquatic life."

but freeport has nothing to hide... ya, right...
Freeport says it strives to mitigate the environmental effect of its mine, while also maximizing the benefits to its shareholders. The [NY] Times made repeated requests to Freeport and to the Indonesian government to visit the mine and its surrounding area, which requires special permission for journalists. All were turned down.

go read the entire article... it's a massive exposé of untrammeled greed...

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Monday, December 26, 2005

Robert Parry's end of the year thoughts: "An unparallelled political crisis."

things have been sliding rapidly downhill in the u.s. since the stolen election over 5 years ago but never faster than in 2005... robert parry sums it up...
The United States is facing a political crisis almost unparalleled in our history, a crisis uniquely dangerous because at its center it is not about a loss of power but about a loss of principle and even morality.

Instead of following the guideposts of a democratic republic, the U.S. government has veered off into delusions of empire. Instead of promoting international law, it has adopted theories of preemptive war. Instead of standing for human rights, it has become known for torture techniques, detentions without trial, and secret prisons.

Yet, this American crisis is also about the manipulation of information and the failure of the U.S. news media to do its job. Indeed, it is hard to envision that the United States would be in this fix if reporters had asked the tough questions, if they had held dishonest political leaders accountable, if reporters had shown more courage.

But this failure of the U.S. media wasn't an accident or simply a reaction to the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001. Taming the news media has been a longtime goal of the neoconservative operatives who now dominate George W. Bush's administration.

For years, these neoconservatives have understood that before they could transform the United States into their dream of a uni-polar empire, they had to gain effective control of the information that flows through Washington and they had to neutralize the honest journalists who got in the way.

The neoconservatives knew the power that would come from controlling how Americans saw the world, a process they called œperception management. So, over the past quarter century, the neocons and their political allies invested heavily in building their own news media and intimidating the mainstream press.

robert parry is one of the good guys... his consortium news is a consistently insightful and reliable source of perspective... give him a hand if you can...
You can contribute either by credit card online or by sending a check to Consortium for Independent Journalism (CIJ), Suite 102-231, 2200 Wilson Blvd., Arlington, VA 22201. For contributions of $100 or more, you can get an autographed gift copy of Secrecy & Privilege or one of my other books. Also, since we are a non-profit 501-c-3 organization, your contribution is tax-deductible.

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Extraordinary rendition is apparently a plush gig

ok, look... i have little doubt that being an undercover cia agent ain't exactly a bed of roses and certainly not work for the faint of heart... but, as a veteran of tons of business travel both within the u.s. and internationally, this is way over the top... the snippet here presents only a partial picture of what's contained in the whole article...
When the CIA decides to "render" a terrorism suspect living abroad for interrogation in Egypt or another friendly Middle East nation, it spares no expense.

Italian prosecutors wrote in court papers that the CIA spent "enormous amounts of money" during the six weeks it took the agency to figure out how to grab a 39-year-old Muslim preacher called Abu Omar off the streets of Milan, throw him into a van and drive him to the airport.

First to arrive in Milan was the surveillance team, and the hotels they chose were among the best Europe has to offer. Especially popular was the gilt-and-crystal Principe di Savoia, with acres of burnished wood paneling and plush carpets, where a single room costs $588 a night, a club sandwich goes for $28.75, and a Diet Coke adds another $9.35.

According to hotel records later obtained by the Milan police investigating Abu Omar's disappearance, two CIA operatives managed to ring up more than $9,000 in room charges alone. The CIA's bill at the Principe for seven operatives came to $39,995, not counting meals, parking and other hotel services.

Another group of seven operatives managed to spend $40,098 on room charges at the Westin Palace, a five-star hotel across the Piazza della Repubblica from the Principe, where a club sandwich is only $20.

A former CIA officer who has worked undercover abroad said those prices were "way over" the CIA's allowed rates for foreign travel.

besides the taxpayers' money being tossed about with great abandon, the whole purpose of the assignment stinks... "extraordinary rendition" is such a vile euphemism for "snatching people off the streets and spiriting them off to a country that will have no qualms about pulling them limb from limb if it takes their fancy..."

(thanks to raw story...)

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Oversight...? Impeachment...? Who gives a damn...? They gotta go...

(joe at americablog...)
They say oversight, we say impeachment:
Members of the Judiciary Committee have already indicated that they intend to conduct oversight hearings into the president's legal authority to order domestic eavesdropping on terrorist suspects without a warrant.

But Congressional officials said Saturday that they would probably seek to expand the review to include the disclosure that the security agency, using its access to giant phone "switches," had also traced and analyzed phone and Internet traffic in much larger volumes than what the Bush administration had acknowledged.

you say po-tay-to, i say po-tah-to; you say to-may-to, i say to-mah-to... as they say WAY down south, "no importa..." let's just get the bastards outta there...

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Bush trying to strangle the press

just another jaw-dropping story on a president out of control...
President Bush has been summoning newspaper editors lately in an effort to prevent publication of stories he considers damaging to national security.

The efforts have failed, but the rare White House sessions with the executive editors of The Washington Post and New York Times are an indication of how seriously the president takes the recent reporting that has raised questions about the administration's anti-terror tactics.

yeah, really... why in the world would the american people want to know about torture, secret prisons and the scrapping of their civil liberties...?

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Sunday, December 25, 2005

Condi's popularity...? Spare me...

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has become the most popular member of the Bush administration and a potential candidate to succeed her boss in the White House, even as Americans lose confidence in the president she serves and patience with the Iraq war she helped launch.

i don't wanna hear about it... in any event, it's a pretty dubious (dubya-ous?) distinction being the "most popular member" of a gang of criminals and, besides, she's just as guilty and as full of shit as the rest of them... whatever honor, values, principles, ethics, and/or morality she might have had have long since been sold down the river... and, god, please save us from a condi rice presidential candidacy in 2008... as much as i'd like to see a woman and an african-american become president, she definitely ain't the one... (and, as long as we're talking about members of the female persuasion, hillary definitely ain't the one either...)

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Christmas morning in Buenos Aires - the morning after the night before

following up on yesterday's post, after eating my fill and watching the horde of kids demolish the leftovers, the clock struck midnight and all hell broke loose... it was impossible to walk 10 ft. down the street without tripping over someone lighting a fuse... and we're not talking sparklers and bottle rockets either... these are some industrial-size units, lemme tell ya, with firecrackers that explode with a noise i hadn't heard since i was a kid when you could still buy silver salutes in the u.s...

today, at noon, people are starting to get up and move around, joining friends and family for the big mid-afternoon meal... the weather is gorgeous as it often is - upper-70s/low-80s, brilliant blue sky, cool breeze, the sun glinting off of the deep green leaves on the trees, birds singing, flowers blooming...

again, merry christmas everybody...!

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United States standards for the care and custody of detainees

no comment...
The commander of American-run prisons in Iraq says the military will not turn over any detainees or detention centers to Iraqi jailers until American officials are satisfied that the Iraqis are meeting United States standards for the care and custody of detainees.

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