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And, yes, I DO take it personally: 08/20/2006 - 08/27/2006
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"Everybody's worried about stopping terrorism. Well, there's a really easy way: stop participating in it."
- Noam Chomsky
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And, yes, I DO take it personally

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Katrina - the first anniversary of Bush's downfall

my man, frank rich...
"As they used to say in the French Quarter, bonne chance!" writes Rich. "The ineptitude bared by the storm -- no planning for a widely predicted catastrophe, no attempt to secure a city besieged by looting, no strategy for anything except spin -- is indelible."

"New Orleans was Iraq redux with an all-American cast," Rich writes.

(from the nyt via raw story...)

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Saturday photoblogging: Lago Nahuel Huapi

a week ago today, i arrived back in buenos aires after 5 nights spent in one of the most beautiful areas of the world it has ever been my privilege to visit... the photos couldn't possibly do it justice, but perhaps they will give you a flavor... all are taken from the road up to the piedras blancas recreation area above the town of bariloche in the province of rio negro, argentina... all are of lago nahuel huapi, an enormous, glacially-formed lake that is the centerpiece of the parque nacional nahuel huapi...

from top to bottom, the view pans from the southeast to the northeast to the north-northwest... in the first photo, the town of bariloche spreads out along the near lakeshore from the center of the photo to the far right... like i said above, they simply don't do justice to the breathtaking reality...

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Aero Contractors = Air Torture...?

sounds like it...

Torture at CIA secret sites is illegal. So too is the practice of the CIA transporting suspects to other countries where torture tactics are commonplace.

To expose and halt such goings-on, members of Stop Torture Now and Code Pink gathered last November at a rural airport in Smithfield, N.C., about 40 miles from Raleigh. Their target was Aero Contractors, a charter airline company. The activists insist that from this bucolic setting and another small airport in Kinston, N.C., called Global Transpark (GTP), Aero runs “torture taxis”—secret rendition flights for the CIA.


Aero’s planes stop first at Dulles or at CIA facilities in Virginia to pick up flight plans, then fly to Ireland to refuel, and from there to countries such as Britain, Italy, Sweden, Pakistan, Germany, Bosnia, Macedonia, Morocco and Turkey to collect the suspects. On the final lap, they deliver the human cargo for interrogation to countries such as Egypt, Syria, Jordan, Afghanistan and until last year, Uzbekistan—all cited in U.S. State Department reports as having unclean hands when it comes to human rights.

The flights have been documented by Amnesty International and the Council of Europe (COE) Parliamentary Assembly on Human Rights in 2006 reports. To verify the dates and routes, investigators have used a global network of “plane spotters” who stake out positions near runways where they photograph Aero take-offs and landings, and they write down the tail numbers of the otherwise unmarked craft. They then match the numbers with airport and aircraft logs obtained through Freedom of Information Act requests.

why hasn't this come to a halt...? why is our government still pretending it isn't happening...? why are they still trying to hide it...?
Why the front companies? To maintain deniability about renditions and secret prisons, the CIA contracts with Aero to fly the planes. As part of the ruse, the craft are registered as “owned” by shell companies: None list boards of directors, phone numbers or e-mail addresses. Their only identifications are post office box numbers. Moreover, the names change nearly every year. Thus, the Boeing 737 that Aero “leases” were “owned” by Stevens Leasing Company in 2001, “sold” to Premier Executives in 2002, and “re-sold” to Keeler and Tate Management in 2004. Each time, new tail numbers are painted over the old, to make the planes harder to track.

Also, the CIA uses civilian charter airlines because, under international law, private companies don’t need to reveal the nature of their trips to the countries where they refuel or fly over, while military planes must declare the names of their crews, flight plans, passengers and cargo. As a civilian charter, Aero is not asked for this information.

Another clue: According to Amnesty International, Aero has “CALP” rights (Civil Aircraft Landing Permits)—enjoyed by just 10 other charter companies—which allow it to land at U.S. military bases around the globe.

plausible deniability, my ass...
The U.S. government flatly denies it engages in torture. In December 2005, Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice stated, “The U.S. does not permit or condone torture…or transport detainees from one country to another for the purpose of torture.” She added, “where appropriate, the U.S. seeks assurances that transferred persons will not be tortured.”

Mounting evidence, however, suggests the contrary. Indeed, in the “global war on terror,” torture is very much on the table. Amnesty International, the Council of Europe and Human Rights Watch describe case after case of terror suspects held incommunicado in secret detention centers, tortured, and kept out of the reach of the International Red Cross, lawyers or human rights groups. The United Nations human rights panel is also convinced of the abuses and demanded in July that the U S. close its secret prisons.

and we wonder why the rest of the world is turning its back on the u.s... does our government really believe that the citizens of other countries don't KNOW what's going on...? cuz if they do, they're sadly mistaken... most of those folks know more, sometimes quite a BIT more, than folks in the u.s...

(thanks to guest columnist, barbara koeppel, at robert parry's consortium news...)

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Another coalition of the "willing" (and the blackmailed)...?

by the loss of u.s. foreign aid...?

U.S. Ambassador John R. Bolton said in an interview late this week that the United States planned to introduce a resolution imposing penalties such as a travel ban and asset freeze for key Iranian leaders soon after the Aug. 31 deadline, and seemed optimistic that China and Russia would agree to it once they saw the text. "Everybody's been on board," he said.


Bolton and U.S. Treasury officials refused to provide details on which countries might be interested, citing the "sensitivity" of the talks.


Though U.S. officials said pursuing parallel paths is "common sense" and highlights what they consider to be the inefficiency of the Security Council, some analysts said the move would underline Washington's inability to win over the council and the lack of options against a newly emboldened Iran.

"When you start doing things that would be better with the Security Council's endorsement, does it show weakness or strength?" said George Perkovich, the director of the nonproliferation program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. "Iran could argue that 'the U.S. couldn't even get the Security Council backing, and so we are winning.' "

Perkovich said even traditional U.S. allies were fatigued by dealing with so many conflicts and didn't want to add Iran to a list that includes Afghanistan, Iraq and Lebanon.

they are no doubt "fatigued" by dealing with so many conflicts, but i also have no doubt they are equally fatigued by dealing with the mustache of serial abuse...

(thanks to think progress...)

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"I speak differently than a man does. To hear the fullness of God's voice, you need to hear both men and women."
- THE REV. DOTTIE ESCOBEDO-FRANK, on women in the clergy.

you betcha...

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Katrina - when the curtain was pulled back and Bush, the poser, was revealed

today's wapo...
Katrina's Damage Lingers For Bush

Many See Storm as President's Undoing

he had been undone for me quite some time before katrina but, i have to say, katrina was an unbelievably graphic display of the man's totally compassion-free and anti-humanitarian worthlessness...

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" 'Islamofascism' - getting us to think less and fear more"

katha pollitt at alternet via the nation looks at the latest bushco linguistic makeover, a move away from the term war on terrorism "[that] arrives not a moment too soon for language fussbudgets who had problems with the idea of making war on a tactic..."
"Islamo-fascism" conflates a wide variety of disparate states, movements and organizations as if, like the fascists, they all want similar things and are working together to achieve them. Neocons have called Saddam Hussein and the Baathists of Syria Islamo-fascists, but these relatively secular nationalist tyrants have nothing in common with shadowy, stateless, fundamentalist Al Qaeda -- as even Bush now acknowledges -- or with the Taliban, who want to return Afghanistan to the seventh century; and the Taliban aren't much like Iran, which is different from (and somewhat less repressive than) Saudi Arabia -- whoops, our big ally in the Middle East! Who are the "Islamo-fascists" in Saudi Arabia -- the current regime or its religious-fanatical opponents? It was under the actually existing US-supported government that female students were forced back into their burning school rather than be allowed to escape unveiled. Under that government people are lashed and beheaded, women can't vote or drive, non-Muslim worship is forbidden, a religious dress code is enforced by the state through violence and Wahhabism -- the "Islamo-fascist" denomination--is exported around the globe.


"Islamo-fascism" enrages to no purpose the dwindling number of Muslims who don't already hate us. At the same time, it clouds with ideology a range of situations -- Lebanon, Palestine, airplane and subway bombings, Afghanistan, Iraq -- we need to see clearly and distinctly and deal with in a focused way. No wonder the people who brought us the disaster in Iraq are so fond of it.

hang in there, george... hang in there, karl... keep flailing away... maybe there are still some folks out there who'll buy it, but i ain't one of 'em...

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Friday, August 25, 2006

It's no coincidence that half the country falsely believes that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction

(from jamison foser at media matters...)

it's about time the american public woke up to the fact that our media is just as criminally culpable as the bush administration for leading our country down the toilet...
When NBC devotes only 27 seconds to a federal court ruling that the Bush administration has been trampling the Constitution, but spends almost eight minutes on JonBenet Ramsey; when The New York Times assigns a couple of reporters to the Bush administration's illegal actions and more than a dozen to Ramsey; and when CNN ignores the Downing Street memo in favor of the Runaway Bride -- should we really be surprised that the public lacks even a basic understanding of the most important issues of our time?

This week, CNN aired a two-hour program about Osama bin Laden that didn't bother to mention a recent revelation that bin Laden escaped in the mountains of Afghanistan in November 2001 only after President Bush was personally warned that bin Laden would do so unless more U.S. troops were sent to get him rather than leaving the job to Pakistani and Afghan forces. In fact, that revelation, like others contained in Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Ron Suskind's The One Percent Doctrine: Deep Inside America's Pursuit of Its Enemies Since 9/11 (Simon & Schuster, June 2006), has thus far not been mentioned in the pages of The New York Times, or on CNN, or on any of the network news broadcasts. Might their failure to report such an obviously significant revelation have some impact on how the public views the Bush administration?

if it wasn't for the internet (and i'm sure there are big plans afoot to clamp down on it in some major way), i wouldn't know shit about what was going on... it's the last bastion of open communication we've got...

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Tancredo for Prez...? BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA...!

nothing like a good belly-laugh to wrap up another shitty news week...
On Friday's edition of FOX's Your World with Neil Cavuto, Colorado's Republican Senator Tom Tancredo said that if "no one else" in the party will push the illegal immigration issue then he would enter the 2008 Presidential race.

"If it is -- if the situation develops that no one else will take this issue on not just with their rhetoric, but with their heart -- because people will see through that, I think -- if they will really do this, then I'll be knocking on doors for them," said Senator Tancredo.

you go ahead and run, you bigoted, miserable, rotten, vicious, son-of-a-bitch... parade your bile in front of the entire nation... let everybody see just who you are and what you're made out of...

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Here's courage, here's speaking truth to power, here's how it's done

(thanks to greg sergent at tpm cafe via think progress...)

without a doubt, this is perhaps the finest example of straight talk i have seen yet in all the myraid discussions of iraq, the pros and cons, and the terrible tragedy that it has created for so many people, not just in the u.s., but in iraq and elsewhere around the world...
I just got off the phone with Hildi Halley, a woman from Maine whose husband is a fallen soldier. Yesterday President Bush met with her privately, and news of their meeting was reported in a local Maine paper, the Kennebec Journal. The paper shared few details of the meeting, saying simply that Halley objected to Bush's policies and that she said Bush responded that there was no point in them having a "philosophical discussion about the pros and cons of the war."

But Halley has just given me a much more detailed account of her meeting with Bush. She told me that she went much farther in her criticism of the President, telling him directly that he was "responsible" for the deaths of American soldiers and that as a "Christian man," he should recognize that he's "made a mistake" and that it was his "responsibility to end this." She recounted to me that she was "very direct," telling Bush: "As President, you're here to serve the people. And the people are not being served with this war."

I reached Halley at her home in Falmouth, Maine. She told me that her husband, Patrick Damon, who's long been active in Democratic politics, had been in Afghanistan as an engineer building roads when he died in June. She said she was first told that it was of a heart attack, but that subsequently she was told there was no sign that a heart attack had killed him. An invesigation into his death is continuing.

Halley, who's also been politically active for Democrats, said she told GOP Senator Olympia Snowe that she'd like a phone call from Bush. Subsequently Halley got a call from White House staffers looking to set up a private meeting. Bush came yesterday.

Halley tells me that she told the President that she's been opposed since "day one" to both the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

"I talked to him about how important this person was to me," Halley recounted, speaking of her husband. "It's not just a soldier who died. Lives are changed forever...I said, `This doesn't make sense to me.'"

"He said, `Terrorists killed three thousand people, we had to go to war.'" Halley continued to me. "I said, `Well, who put the Taliban into power? The United States did.' He said, `I'm not going to have a philosphical debate over politics.' The whole conversation was very gentle."

Halley says that while Bush was personable and receptive to her, she was very direct and critical of Bush's policies and insisted that the right thing to do was to end the war.

"We literally sat knee to knee...I looked deep into his eyes and talked to him about love and losing people and that he was responsible for this. I said, `I didn't vote for you, but you are my President. And you're not serving me.'"

"I said I believed it was time to put an end to this. His job is to find solutions. I said, `You yourself have said you had erroneous information going into this.'"

She continued: "I said, `As a Christian man, you realize that when you've made a mistake it's your responsiblity to end this. And it's time to end the bleeding and it's time to end the war.'"

"I said, `what would truly bring healing is to start working on changing your policy towards the Middle President, you're here to serve the people. And the people are not being served with this war.'"

She added: "I told him, `It's time as a Christian to put our pride behind us."

Halley said that the President appeared moved by what she'd said, but that she doubted it would bring about any real change. "He cried with me," she recounted. "I feel he responded to me emotionally. I don't know if that's going to change policy. It probably won't. But I hope it makes him think a little bit further."

yes, mrs. halley... my hat is off to you and you have my deepest condolences...

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Tomorrow begins the first anniversary of the most disgraceful disaster response episode in US history

(think progress has the complete katrina timeline here...)

i was right here in buenos aires, glued to cnni the entire time, breaking off only to eat and sleep... for the most part, i alternated between two intense emotions as i watched events unfold - intense rage at seeing my country's government and its worthless president paralyzed as a city was destroyed, and wracking sadness and grief at the plight of those affected by it... yes, the hurricane was tough enough to deal with, but its impact didn't have to be nearly as bad as it was... and, one year later, it's STILL a mess...

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Our job is to refuse to succumb to fear

(thanks to bruce schneier at schneier on security via bill in portland maine at daily kos...)
I'd like everyone to take a deep breath and listen for a minute.

The point of terrorism is to cause terror, sometimes to further a political goal and sometimes out of sheer hatred. The people terrorists kill are not the targets; they are collateral damage. And blowing up planes, trains, markets or buses is not the goal; those are just tactics. The real targets of terrorism are the rest of us: the billions of us who are not killed but are terrorized because of the killing. The real point of terrorism is not the act itself, but our reaction to the act.

And we're doing exactly what the terrorists want.


Our politicians help the terrorists every time they use fear as a campaign tactic. The press helps every time it writes scare stories about the plot and the threat. And if we're terrified, and we share that fear, we help. All of these actions intensify and repeat the terrorists' actions, and increase the effects of their terror.


[O]ur job is to remain steadfast in the face of terror, to refuse to be terrorized. Our job is to not panic every time two Muslims stand together checking their watches. There are approximately 1 billion Muslims in the world, a large percentage of them not Arab, and about 320 million Arabs in the Middle East, the overwhelming majority of them not terrorists. Our job is to think critically and rationally, and to ignore the cacophony of other interests trying to use terrorism to advance political careers or increase a television show's viewership.

The surest defense against terrorism is to refuse to be terrorized. Our job is to recognize that terrorism is just one of the risks we face, and not a particularly common one at that. And our job is to fight those politicians who use fear as an excuse to take away our liberties and promote security theater that wastes money and doesn't make us any safer.

for me, that last sentence is the sum and substance of the entire article...

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Cluster bombs, Israel, Lebanon, and Alliant Techsystems (formerly Honeywell)

a chapter in my life that i'm not proud of is when i worked for honeywell's aerospace and defense systems group in the early 80s... it was later spun off as alliant techsystems * in 1990... at that time, the honeywell project would frequently stage picket-sign protests at honeywell's headquarters in minneapolis over honeywell's manufacture of very ugly weapons, weapons designed to kill and maim as many people as possible... their protests were given much more urgency when it was revealed that israel was using those weapons in its attacks on lebanon... well, it's happening again...
The State Department is investigating whether Israel’s use of American-made cluster bombs in southern Lebanon violated secret agreements with the United States that restrict when it can employ such weapons, two officials said.

The investigation by the department’s Office of Defense Trade Controls began this week, after reports that three types of American cluster munitions, anti-personnel weapons that spray bomblets over a wide area, have been found in many areas of southern Lebanon and were responsible for civilian casualties.

< sigh > the more things change, the more they remain the same... israel is still using the weapons and alliant techsystems is still making and selling them...
* Alliant Techsystems

The company produces a number of controversial military products, including depleted uranium rounds and cluster bombs, considered indiscriminate weapons. As a result, the company has been a target of peace movement protests, with weekly vigils held at Alliant Techsystems headquarters as well as occasional organized acts of civil disobedience

a successor organization to the honeywell project, alliantaction, posts this on their website...
Since the 1960s, ATK (Honeywell) has been suppling cluster bombs to the DoD and these were recently used in Afghanistan and Gulf War II (cluster bombs were also used in Kosovo and Gulf War I). The cluster bomb sub-munition is painted bright yellow, the same color the "aid" packages the US dropped in Afghanistan. The military claims a dud rate of 5% while some experts say it is closer to 20%. This weapon system continues to maim and kill civilans long after conflicts have ended. It is indiscriminate and thus illegal under International Law.

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Just in case you forgot, Mexico STILL hasn't declared a winner from the July 2 election

we have such a limited attention span... this story has virtually disappeared from u.s. media...

Paseo de la Reforma, also known as Reforma Avenue
Pick either side of the road and a whole new world of life has opened up. But this is not some avant-garde exhibition or some attempt to redefine modern living. It is part of what has become tent city, a vast swathe of canvas stretching hundreds of metres down this now blocked artery running through the heart of the capital.

And nor are the tents full of homeless people. They are packed with political protesters who want to change the outcome of the presidential election - all of them supporters of the left-wing candidate, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador.

these folks aren't going to let it go... good for them... however long it takes...

(again, thanks to the bbc...)

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Tango's World Cup

i would be a less-than-responsible resident of buenos aires if i didn't mention that buenos aires (where else?) is currently hosting the world tango championship, although i have to confess that i have never been a tango spectator in the over two years i've been living here part-time... nonetheless, i'm fascinated by this amazingly rich and still very vital part of argentina's heritage...

Four-hundred and eighty-five couples from 22 countries are in the home of tango, Buenos Aires, for the fourth World Tango Championship.

(thanks to bbc news...)

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Larisa Alexandrovna's journalism wall of fame

(from alternet...)

after nicely setting out what we all now know is the reality of the majority of u.s. media...
American journalism is not represented by the media establishment, which has essentially been co-opted into an extension of government-sponsored propaganda, or else has demeaned itself into a Vanna White-style superficiality, spinning content in order to sell another product.


What the mainstream press has shamelessly proven -- more so over the last five years, is its complete contempt for its readers and viewers -- by presenting nifty parcels for purchase, as though facts can be diced and repackaged and still maintain their original meaning.

she goes on to compile a list of those she feels "are the most "fair and balanced" and those who are really "the most trusted names in news" and, oscar-style, even serves them up in categories...

Facts are not fair or balanced

  • Keith Olbermann -- the anchor for MSNBC's Countdown
  • Lou Dobbs -- the anchor for CNN's Lou Dobbs Tonight
Courage is a prerequisite to be the "most trusted"

  • Sy Hersh -- investigative journalist for the New Yorker
  • Helen Thomas -- senior White House correspondent for Hearst Newspapers
  • Michael Smith -- defense and intelligence reporter for the London Sunday Times
  • Laura Rozen -- intelligence and national security correspondent for American Prospect
  • Robert Dreyfuss -- national security freelance reporter and contributing editor for the Nation
Digging leads to scooping

  • Mike Wilkinson, James Drew, et al, on Coingate -- Toledo Blade reporters
  • James Meek, Ken Bazinet and Thomas DeFrank -- New York Daily News
  • Ken Silverstein -- Washington editor for HarpersCharlie Savage -- Homeland Security and Supreme Court reporter for the Boston Globe
Special mention

  • Walter Pincus and Dana Priest at the Washington Post
  • Warren Strobel at Knight Ridder
  • Jim Bamford, the expert on NSA dealings, distinguished visiting professor at the Richard and Rhoda Goldman School of Public Policy at the University of California at Berkeley
Honorable mention

  • Dahr Jamail, Robert Fisk, Christopher Delisio, Justin Raimondo, Naomi Klein, Peter Arnett, Andrew Gilligan, Dan Rather, Max Blumenthal, Jim Moore, Paul Krugman, Maureen Dowd, Molly Ivins, Bob Scheer, Bob Kohler, Brad Friedman, Rich Sale, Greg Palast, Josh Micah Marshall, Danny Schechter
good for you larisa... like you, i rely on many of these folks to help me both develop an accurate picture of what's happening in the world as well as to retain my sanity, and i believe that giving them the kudos they so richly deserve is not something we do nearly enough of...

my own "special mentions" go out to those who i consider particularly helpful in the "accurate picture" and the "retaining my sanity" categories...

  • Bill Moyers, Sidney Blumenthal, Molly Ivins, Robert Parry, Jim Hightower, Steve Clemons, Juan Cole, Jeryln Merritt, and, of course, Larisa Alexandrovna...

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Thursday, August 24, 2006

When our government works like corporate America

no comment necessary...
This is what you get: people made dead by dumb ideas that came from people who feel entitled to be wrong at other people's expense. And until the people who're making the mistakes are the same as the people who are doing the dying, this will continue.

(thanks to grand moff texan at daily kos...)

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How trading blocks are shaking out in S. America

i love the way that being suspicious of bilateral trade agreements with the u.s. is implied to be a BAD thing... you ALWAYS have to read between the lines... you can never let down your guard...
Little by little, South America is dividing itself into two very different trade blocks. Mercosur, based on Brazil and Argentina and recently joined by Venezuela, is relatively protectionist and suspicious of bilateral trade deals with the United States. Most countries on the Pacific seaboard are committed to free trade with both el norte and Asia.


This continental divide is far from absolute. Chile, with the most open economy in the region, is an associate member of Mercosur (it has a free-trade agreement with the block, but is not part of its putative customs union). So are Peru and Bolivia. Ecuador and especially Bolivia have reservations about closer ties with the United States. Not so Paraguay and Uruguay, although both are members of Mercosur.


Chile argues that South American countries need to pool their export efforts to be able to supply the volume of products demanded by China and other Asian countries. Chilean officials insist they will maintain their ties with Mercosur. Argentina, under Néstor Kirchner, is an especially difficult neighbour: in 2004 it unilaterally cut gas exports to Chile, and then this year raised taxes on them. But Argentina and Brazil are Chile's most important local trading partners.

for some reason i cannot fathom, no mention is made in the article of bolivia's recent actions against foreign oil and gas companies operating there or of bolivia's rather large price hikes on exports... failing to include that rather critical piece of information makes argentina look like a bully but maybe that's the idea...

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Iran and nuclear capability...? India and nuclear capability...?

i guess it all depends on who's kissing your ass...

(see my earlier post on the revival of argentina's nuclear capability...

Iran and India are making nearly identical arguments to justify pushing ahead with their respective nuclear programs.
Reuters, 8/19/06:

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad insists that nuclear power is Iran’s right and “no one will stop us” developing the country. … “They are trying to deny our right to develop nuclear power. But no one can impose anything on the Iranian people.” … “Our main task is to develop and build the Iranian nation. No one will stop us.” Iran has insisted it is enriching uranium to generate electricity from nuclear power.

AP, 8/23/06:

India’s prime minister said Wednesday the country would retain its right to carry out future nuclear tests despite a civilian nuclear deal with the United States, a news report said. “There is no scope for capping of our strategic (nuclear) program. It will be decided by the people, government and Parliament of the country and not by any outside power,” Press Trust of India quoted Prime Minister Manmohan Singh as saying in a statement in Parliament.

(thanks to think progress...)

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Hezbollah TV - media censorship under full sail

next step...? arrested for WATCHING...?
Javed Iqbal, a.k.a. "John Iqbal," 42, of Staten Island, N.Y., has been arrested and charged with conspiring to violate the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA), RAW STORY has learned.

A complaint announced today by the FBI alleges that through a company called HDTV Ltd. located in Brooklyn, Iqbal and others provided customers in the New York area with satellite broadcasts of al Manar, which is a television station owned and/or operated by Hezbollah.

The Department of Treasury named al Manar as a "Specially Designated Global Terrorist entity" in March 2006, thereby making it a crime to, among other things, engage in business transactions with al Manar.

keep your eye on al jazeera...

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Cheney's man Bolton's man Fleitz is neo-conning again

like we should find that suprising...

empty wheel has a very interesting run-down on who's behind the suspect intelligence that's supposed to be propelling us into yet another bogus war...

I've been pondering two questions of late. First, why did the Neocons move Fred Fleitz to a staff position on the House Intelligence Committee. And second, how they hell do they plan to lie us into war in Iran when, this time, the public and the intelligence community have their guard up?


In a particularly Boltonian paragraph, Fleitz' report argues that, because the IAEA isn't buying the US' tired old Denial and Deception arguments (in which the absence of proof itself serves for proof), it cannot be trusted.
While not an instance of Iranian perfidy, the spring 2006 decision by IAEA Director General ElBaradei to remove Mr. Christopher Charlier, the chief IAEA Iran inspector, for allegedly raising concerns about Iranian deception regarding its nuclear program and concluding that the purpose of Iran's nuclear program is to construct weapons, should give U.S. policymakers great pause. The United States has entrusted the IAEA with providing a truly objective assessment of Iran's nuclear program. IAEA officials should not hesitate to conclude that the purpose of Iranian nuclear program is to produce weapons if that is where the evidence leads. If Mr. Charlier was removed for not adhering to an unstated IAEA policy barring IAEA officials from telling the whole truth about the Iranian nuclear program, the United States and the international community have a serious problem on their hands.

these guys just can't get enough of war, death, and destruction...

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WaPo headline

Bush's New Iraq Argument: It Could Be Worse

i used to joke that "it could be worse" was the minnesota state motto... it came from standing on a corner downtown, waiting for the "walk sign," the temp was -15F, a stiff wind was blowing, sending the chill factor down to -35F, i was bundled up from head to toe, i looked over at someone standing next to me who said, "it could be worse," sending us both into peals of laughter...

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Don't like science as it's taught...? Regulate it out of existence...

hey... no problem...
Evolutionary biology has vanished from the list of acceptable fields of study for recipients of a federal education grant for low-income college students.

The omission is inadvertent, said Katherine McLane, a spokeswoman for the Department of Education, which administers the grants. “There is no explanation for it being left off the list,” Ms. McLane said. “It has always been an eligible major.”

Another spokeswoman, Samara Yudof, said evolutionary biology would be restored to the list, but as of last night it was still missing.

oh, puh-l-l-e-e-e-e-eze... NOTHING is "inadvertent" with the bush administration... after six years, they still think they can lie and we'll believe it...? no way...

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A quote to tear your heart out

from the nyt...

"It's a hard job; I hurt myself sometimes."
- ALONE BANDA, 9, who crushes stone in a quarry in Zambia.

Edmund Chibanda, 10, breaks rocks for gravel
to help his family subsist.

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Uh-oh... ANOTHER nuclear power, this one in Latin America

with neighbor, brazil, heading rapidly toward energy self-sufficiency, and global petroleum reserves in decline and often in dispute, argentina's not going to sit idly by...
The government yesterday pulled its nuclear industry out of mothballs with a plan that sees some $3.5 billion dollars being invested in developing this sector over the next eight years.

At an event in Government House headed by President Néstor Kirchner, Federal Planning Minister Julio De Vido emphasized that the projects to be started will be used for peaceful purposes such as public health and electricity generation.

The plan calls for construction to resume on the country’s third nuclear station, Atucha II, begun over 25 years ago, that will require an investment of 1.8 billion pesos.

Atucha II is expected to add a further 745 megawatts of electricity to the national grid. Although Atucha II will have priority, the government will also carry out a feasibility study to build a fourth nuclear reactor with a capacity of 1,000 megawatts.

With declining oil and gas reserves brought on by a lack of investment in recent years, analysts have been warning of an impending energy crunch in the wake of high economic growth rates that have averaged about nine percent a year in the last three years.

The government also announced that work has begun to extend the life of the Embalse Río Tercero nuclear power plant, built in the 1970s. After a 25-year hiatus the government will also reactivate the Pilcaniyeu uranium enrichment plant, closed in 1983 because it operated at a loss.

A heavy water plant in the province of Neuquén, that has also sat idle for years, will also be started up to produce the 600 tons of heavy water that Atucha II will require to operate.

on both the going and the return trip to bariloche last week, i drove by the heavy water plant in neuquén province... it looks to be a sizeable operation... all this flurry around energy generation will undoubtedly increase employment opportunities in the regions affected... from another angle, i am curious to see if the u.s. government and/or media will take any notice... the items of potential interest to george's neocon buddies are in bold...

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The traditional Dem establishment is taking a big hit

it looks like the lieberman exorcism has unleashed a fury of discussion on how we can make the democratic party a party of principle rather than just another money-making tool... there's three, count 'em, three, dem-establishment-needs-to-go-down stories this morning in alternet alone...


The Top 10 Corporate Democrats-For-Hire

Lieberman is more than an ally in the Bush administration's dissembling on Iraq. He is yet another example of someone who came to Washington as a purported idealist and turned into a creature of the capital's big-money culture.


Details on this can be found in a report from the Real News Project, a new nonprofit noncommercial investigative reporting outfit I founded. RealNews examined the track records of prominent Washington Democrats, consultants, advertising and public relations executives, lobbyists, attorneys and the like who have close connections to the top circles of their party. Many of them served in the Clinton-Gore White House, and many of them will likely be tapped should a Democrat be elected in 2008 and have considerable influence in a future Democratic-controlled Congress.

We scrutinized scores of Washington Dems and found many ensconced in firms working to advance corporate agendas that don't look that different from policy we see emanating from the Bush administration.

Firing Squad Looms for the Dem Party Oligarchy

Question: Are bloggers too powerful?

Answer: Do I think they're important? Yes. Do I think the [bloggers] and Al Sharpton alone are the future of the Democratic Party? No! Welcome in, contribute, but it's about winning in November and moving the country forward, not about a firing squad in a circle. -- Q&A with U.S. representative Rahm Emmanuel, Aug. 28 issue of New York magazine

These DLC types are amazing, they really are. Their pathology is unique; they all secretly worship the guilt-by-association tactics of Lee Atwater and Karl Rove, but unlike those two, not one of them has enough balls to take being thought of as the bad guy by the general public. So instead of telling big, bold whoppers right out in the open, they're forever coming out with backhanded little asides like this one, apparently in the hope that only your subconscious will notice. I won't be surprised if they respond to the next electoral loss by a DLC candidate by having Bruce Reed argue in the Wall Street Journal that "bloggers, Queer Eye, and Arabs with syphilis are not the future of the Democratic Party."

Then there is the phrase, "Welcome in, contribute, but..."

Welcome in? What is this, a political party, or a house in the fucking Hamptons? Who died and made these people gatekeepers to anything?

Warring Over the Heart of the Party

Make no mistake about it: The fight within the Democratic Party over the Iraq war is as important as it is real. This is no sideshow between seasoned Sen. Joe Lieberman (D-Conn.) and upstart challenger Ned Lamont, between pros and bloggers, or lefties and conservatives within the party.

No, this battle transcends those labels and cuts to the obligation of politicians to be honest with the public. Indeed, a seasoned conservative Democratic politician should recognize the war in Iraq for the unmitigated disaster it is and seek to properly place responsibility for it on the incumbent Republican president.

It is one thing for Democrats like Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts to admit that they bought into the Bush administration's lies about Saddam Hussein's alleged nuke program and partnership with Al Qaeda and to now seek to make amends by working to bring the troops home. It is quite another, as Lieberman has, to continue to defend as wise this patently absurd betrayal of the public interest. And it moves from dumb to evil to claim that those like Lamont who dare tell the truth are giving aid and comfort to the enemy.

one of the reasons i lost my interest in anything political in the u.s. for a ten-year stretch up until bush's silent coup in 2000 was precisely what's described above - a blurred division between what i considered my party and the money-grubbing, power-hungry, cozy insider world that was running it with the line of distinction between the dems and the r's blurring into invisibility... it's time to take it back...

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Wednesday, August 23, 2006

No matter how sincere, it looks like his arm had to be twisted

now, if he had picked up the phone right away, he might have convinced me he was sincere, but not after a media firestorm... ain't buyin' it...
Virginia Sen. George Allen (R) apologized directly to S.R. Sidarth today, telling the 20-year-old Democratic campaign staffer that he was sorry for offending him with remarks that have generated nationwide criticism for being racially insensitive.

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"Publicly promoting democracy while supporting tyranny may be the most damaging thing we do."

are we safer...? no... does bush get why...? no... does bush care...? no... is bush going to change anything about his approach...? no...
Harper's Ken Silverstein interviews Michael Scheuer who served in the CIA for 22 years before resigning in 2004; he served as the chief of the bin Laden unit at the Counterterrorist Center from 1996 to 1999. He is the formerly anonymous author of Imperial Hubris: Why the West is Losing the War on Terror and Through Our Enemies' Eyes: Osama bin Laden, Radical Islam, and the Future of America.

[W]e're not safer because we're still operating on the assumption that we're hated because of our freedoms, when in fact we're hated because of our actions in the Islamic world. There's our military presence in Islamic countries, the perception that we control the Muslim world’s oil production, our support for Israel and for countries that oppress Muslims such as China, Russia, and India, and our own support for Arab tyrannies. The deal we made with Qadaffi in Libya looks like hypocrisy: we'll make peace with a brutal dictator if it gets us oil. President Bush is right when he says all people aspire to freedom but he doesn't recognize that people have different definitions of democracy. Publicly promoting democracy while supporting tyranny may be the most damaging thing we do.

i believe the muslims are solidly on track with their perceptions... everything the united states does in its foreign policy revolves around two things - the accumulation of unilateral global power and the control of energy resources, both of which are inextricably tied together by vast sums of money... it's really not that hard to see and it doesn't take a lot of time and research to figure it out... for most of the people who live outside the borders of the u.s., it's as plain as day, and there is hardly a taxi driver in any country i've visited that can't give you michael scheuer's diagnosis...

(thanks to raw story...)

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Abortion allowed in Argentina - under special circumstances

i posted yesterday on argentina's version of u.s. religious wingnuttery... it looks like a higher court thinks otherwise...
Justices Aída Kemelmajer de Carlucci and Claudio Romano ruled that it is up to doctors to decide whether the case falls within the two exceptions whereby the Penal Code permits an abortion, that is, when pregnancy results from the rape of a mentally impaired woman, or when there is a serious risk to the life of the mother.

This was the second such ruling in less than a month after the Buenos Aires provincial Supreme Court also allowed an abortion on a mentally disabled victim of rape. But by the time of the ruling doctors refused to perform the abortion, alleging that the pregnancy was too advanced. The woman’s family said it would take care of the child.

the strict anti-abortion laws here make the doc afraid to perform an abortion even when it's legal but there's still no reason for the courts to intervene when it's clear under the law that it's permissible...
Illegal abortion is sanctioned with prison terms of between three to 10 years for those performing it and up to 15 years if it results in the death of the mother, and with medical disqualification for a period double to that of the sentence.

the fact that abortion is allowed under any circumstances in a catholic country in latin america is a cause of great consternation to the catholic church... to give you an idea of just how intense the catholic environment here has been, until recently, being a catholic was a requirement to hold the office of president...

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Mission Accomplished: check-offs on the to-do list of the king

jim hightower's got the big picture of the terrorist attack that's been waged for the past six years on the united states by its own president and his criminal cronies... he opens fire with this...
Forget about such niceties as separation of powers, checks and balances (crucial to the practice of democracy), the First Amendment, the Fourth Amendment, and open government-these guys are on an autocratic tear. Whenever they've been challenged (all too rarely), they simply shout "war on terror," "commander-in-chief," "support our troops," "executive privilege," "I'm the decider," or some other slam-the-door political phrase designed to silence any opposition. Indeed, opponents are branded "enemies" who must be demonized, personally attacked, and, if possible, destroyed. Bush's find-the-loopholes lawyers assert that a president has the right to lie (even about going to war), to imprison people indefinitely (without charges, lawyers, hearings, courts, or hope), to torture people, to spy on Americans without court or congressional review, to prosecute reporters who dare to report, to rewrite laws on executive whim?and on and on.

he goes on to chronicle the tragic series of abuses and outright crimes perpetrated by our own leaders on our country... among them...
The War President
The Imperial Presidency
National Security Letters
Watch Lists
Regime of Secrecy

(thanks to alternet...)

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Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Radical ethnic and religious profiling

think progress takes a look at the rising calls for profiling, featuring one of our favorite pundits...
Bill O’Reilly, 8/16/06:

Folks who have traveled to Muslim countries, people with criminal records, passengers who are Muslims age 16 to 45 all should be spoken with.

i have a visa in my passport for the islamic republic of pakistan... i've never used it and i've only been questioned about it once... i guess bill would like that to change... maybe he'd like to hang out with me at the airport while i negotiate the security questions, gimme some help, ya know...?

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A billboard you won't see in the U.S.

a cuba travel advertisement...

i've gone too long without taking long walks in buenos aires and getting swept up in the amazing street life of this fascinating city... i plan to do it more often...

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Media racism

juan cole has been on a real tear lately, nailing down point after point in eloquent fashion...
Overseas readers who don't watch US-based cable news may not know that there is a news blackout on the 24 hours news stations, which have shown endless hours of useless speculation on a ten year old small town murder case. Why the cable news channels in the US behave in this stupid and lemming-like fashion no doubt has to do with the severe discipline of the advertising market and its dependence on ratings. I.e., news has to generate 20 percent profits, which it cannot do, and so lurid infotainment is substituted. It is also possible that they are deliberately attempting to turn American gray matter into mush so as to ensure that nobody on this continent notices what is really going on around them.

But although I mind this pollution of the air waves with something that is not, whatever it is, news, the main thing I mind is the racism.

The case of Abeer al-Janabi, the little fourteen-year old Iraqi girl who was allegedly raped and killed after being stalked by a US serviceman would never be given the wall to wall coverage treatment.

That is frankly because the victim was not a blonde, blue-eyed American, but a black-eyed, brunette Iraqi. Both victims were pretty little girls. Both were killed by sick predators.


The message US cable news is sending by this privileging of some such stories over others of a similar nature is that some lives are worth more than others, and some people are "us" whereas other people are "Other" and therefore lesser. Indeed, it is precisely this subtle message sent by American media that authorized so much taking of innocent Iraqi life in the first place.

all i can say is, prof. cole is dead on...

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The attacks on Judge Taylor swing into high gear

why did it have to be a sure thing that this kind of crap would start to be dished out...?
"You see, I don't understand Judge Taylor," O'Reilly began the conversation, "maybe you can help me."

"Does she want Americans to die?" O'Reilly asked.


"But say she is a - and I do believe this...I know her background - she is a activist, far left jurist," said O'Reilly. "Okay. Say that's true. Does she want dead people in the street here in America?"

and then, we find - O. M. G.! - she might have actually had a second-hand connection with the ACLU... horrible, i tell you, just horrible... she's obviously a vile, terrorist-hugging, traitor to the war on terror...
According to her 2003 and 2004 financial disclosure statements, Judge Diggs Taylor served as secretary and trustee for the Community Foundation for Southeastern Michigan (CFSEM). She was re-elected to this position in June 2005. The official CFSEM website states that the foundation made a "recent grant" of $45,000 over two years to the ACLU of Michigan--a plaintiff in the wiretapping case.

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Juan Cole on Bush's narcissistic personality disorder [WITH UPDATE]

this is a pretty devastating analysis and looks to me to be spot on...
[W]hat strikes me about Bush's Monday appearance is how consistent it is with what I understand of the symptoms of narcissistic personality disorder. Let's look at it this way:

1. An exaggerated sense of self-importance (e.g., exaggerates achievements and talents, expects to be recognized as superior without commensurate achievements).

Bush is not content to be the most powerful man in the world. He thinks he is on a mission from God, and has decided that he is going to "reform" the Middle East, and turn Middle Easterners into something else. He is the Great Transformer of these other peoples' lives. The reason he has to stay in Iraq until the end of his presidency (it is all about him) is that he cannot admit that he did not succeed in being the great Transformer of the Middle East, that in fact he screwed up the Middle East royally.

2. Preoccupation with fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance, beauty, or ideal love.

Bush suffers from T. E. Lawrence ("Lawrence of Arabia") syndrome. Lawrence, despite polite denials, clearly thought that he led the Arab Revolt against the Ottoman Empire during World War I...

3. Believes he is "special" and can only be understood by, or should associate with, other special or high-status people (or institutions) 4. Requires excessive admiration 5. Has a sense of entitlement.

He is the Decider. He doesn't need Security Council resolutions to start wars. He doesn't need warrants for wire taps. He is entitled. He is the War President (never mind that he chose to go to war in Iraq and so made himself into the war president, and that the war presidency would be over with by now if he were any good at it.)

6. Selfishly takes advantage of others to achieve his own ends. 7. Lacks empathy

Bush only "worries" that eventually there may be a civil war in Iraq. He doesn't admit that he made a whole country of 25 million people into guinea pigs, and that as a result 3,000 are dying a month in civil war violence of the most brutal kind.

8. Is often envious of others or believes that others are envious of him 9. Shows arrogant, haughty, patronizing, or contemptuous behaviors or attitudes.

Saying that he can understand that having over 2600 of our troops come home in body bags and over 8,000 come home seriously wounded, with limbs gone or brain or spinal damage, is a cause of "anxiety" to the American "psyche" is patronizing. He knows better about why this has to be. The inferior people are a little upset, but that is because they don't understand that he is the Transformer. What they're upset about is just the side effect of the Transformation. They don't believe. They can't see the Transformation before their eyes. They are inferior.

i agree with all of it... unfortunately, bush as president is just a stooge for those who stand in the shadows behind him... still, with all his visibility, he a pathetic excuse for a world leader...


after putting up the above post, i was reminded of similar posts i had made regarding the psychotic/dysfunctional tendencies of our president...

(from 5 june 2005...)
right after hitting "publish" on the previous "dry drunk" post, i ran across a piece by ron suskind from the october 17, 2004, nyt... it's been quoted extensively but one snippet in particular deserves to be repeated...
"[Bush] truly believes he's on a mission from God. Absolute faith like that overwhelms a need for analysis."


"This is why George W. Bush is so clear-eyed about Al Qaeda and the Islamic fundamentalist enemy. He believes you have to kill them all. They can't be persuaded, that they're extremists, driven by a dark vision. He understands them, because he's just like them. . . . ''This is why he dispenses with people who confront him with inconvenient facts,'' [Bruce Bartlett, a domestic policy adviser to Ronald Reagan and a treasury official for the first President Bush] went on to say. ''He truly believes he's on a mission from God. Absolute faith like that overwhelms a need for analysis. The whole thing about faith is to believe things for which there is no empirical evidence."

the "previous post" i refer to is this...

(also from 5 june 2005...)
as our president and his team are increasingly challenged to face reality, they, and bush in particular, react very much like an addict when faced with the harsh realities of the addiction... the level of defensiveness increases dramatically, the level of denial becomes shrill, and all the stops are pulled out to keep the delusion (usually some form of "everything's ok, don't worry, everything's ok") intact... generally speaking, the only thing that succeeds in breaking through the denial/delusion wall is, in 12-step terminology, "hitting the wall..."

so, what would "hitting the wall" look like for a president of the united states...? for nixon, it was the white house tapes... for clinton, it was the stain on a dress... i think for bush, because of the intensity of the delusion and the depth of the denial and because it is shared not only by the white house team, it is also mandated behavior for cabinet members, executive appointees, and congressional republicans, the impact of whatever wall is going to be hit must be correspondingly higher...

amazingly enough, they still haven't hit the wall...

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Israel follows the U.S. path in other ways too

see anything familiar here...? follow the asterisks...
Israel's Defense Ministry has suspended a review* of the military's performance during the war against Hezbollah, awaiting a government decision on whether to order a broader inquiry, officials said Tuesday.


Prime Minister Ehud Olmert is under growing public pressure* to approve an independent investigation, with the power to dismiss top officials. Some reserve soldiers and bereaved parents have already demanded that Olmert and other wartime leaders step down.*

The war, launched just hours after Hezbollah guerrillas killed three Israeli soldiers and captured two in a cross-border raid July 12, enjoyed broad public support at the outset*, but lost favor after Olmert accepted a U.N.-brokered truce without crushing Hezbollah or winning the captives' release.*

The deaths of 34 soldiers in last-minute battles just before the truce took hold only deepened the outrage, as have reports that the military was so ill-prepared that it didn't even have enough food, water or bullets for its fighters.*

Olmert, in office just two months when the war broke out, has pinned some of the blame on his predecessors,* saying they had ignored the Lebanese guerrilla group's arms buildup.

  • trying to skate past accountability
  • growing public dissatisfaction with an ill-conceived and possibly illegal war
  • a move to censure or impeach
  • gaining public support through manipulation of public opinion
  • a failed war
  • lack of essential support for the troops
got it yet...?

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Ideological religious stupidity

as we already know, the u.s. doesn't have a monopoly on religious wingnuttery...

For the second time in less than a month, Catholic groups yesterday managed to halt in court an abortion that was to be performed on a mentally handicapped woman who has been raped.

A judge accepted an injunction filed by pro-life groups linked to the Catholic Church to stop the abortion procedure which had been authorized by another judge on Friday in the province of Mendoza, some 1,000 kilometres west of Buenos Aires.

Provincial Health Minister Armando Caletti said that the abortion was to be conducted at a public hospital yesterday morning but had to be suspended due to the court order.
Abortion is illegal in Argentina, but the law foresees two exceptions: when a mentally disabled woman is victim of a rape or when there is a serious risk to the life of the mother.

let's make sure we always leave the option open for shoving OUR religious beliefs down someone else's throat, regardless of the circumstances...

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Go visit my email inbox... It's all there...

look... they already have access to every electronic transaction of every sort imaginable... this is just gilding the lily...
A proposal by Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff would allow the United States government not only to look for known terrorists on watch lists, but also to search broadly through the passenger itinerary data to identify people who may be linked to terrorists, he said in a recent interview.

Similarly, European leaders are considering seeking access to this same database, which contains not only names and addresses of travelers, but often their credit card information, e-mail addresses, telephone numbers and related hotel or car reservations.

attention, nsa and homeland security spies... i have over 8 years of email history in my email inbox... pop on over and take a look... i'm sure you can put literally all the pieces of my life together within about half a day... oh, and btw, drop me a note when you're through and let me know what you've found out... i'm sure there's some things about myself i've forgotten...

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Monday, August 21, 2006

The courts are generating some anti-Bush momentum

i hope the courts continue to slap george silly...
The U.S. government's high-profile terror case against Jose Padilla and two other Muslims has suffered another serious setback as their Miami trial looms in January.

U.S. District Judge Marcia Cooke threw out the first count in the indictment -- that the threesome conspired to murder, kidnap and maim persons in a foreign country -- saying it repeated the main alleged ''conspiracy to advance violent jihad'' in two other charges.

''There can be no question that the government has charged a single conspiracy offense multiple times, in separate counts, when in law and in fact, only one [alleged] crime has been committed,'' Cooke wrote in an eight-page ruling released to prosecutors and defense lawyers on Monday.

step by step, inch by inch, decision by decision, the courts are laying a foundation for the collapse of the bushco house of cards...

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Robert Parry: NYT's Friedman Should Resign

once upon a time, i thought friedman was a pretty savvy guy... i guess that was back in the days when i was still working on retrieving my head from my ass...
It may be positive news that the likes of Friedman and Cohen have finally acknowledged realities long apparent to many other Americans. Still, the halfhearted mea culpas – often combined with continued slights against those who were right – fall far short of the accountability that the deaths and maiming of so many people would seem to justify.

Under principles of international law applied from Nuremberg to Rwanda, propagandists who contribute to war crimes or encourage crimes against humanity can be put in the dock alongside the actual killers.

Though such a fate may not await America’s pro-war pundits, Friedman and other commentators who helped ease the way to Bush’s unprovoked invasion of Iraq and thus contributed to the ongoing slaughters in the Middle East might at least have the decency to admit their incompetence and resign.

i completely agree... folks like friedman - and there are plenty more out there - have pissed away their credibility to the extent that they can never get it back... how can they possibly expect anyone to pay the slighest bit of attention to them from here on out...? moreover, like parry points out, they are complicit in war crimes...

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SOME don't consider Hizbollah a terrorist organization

a story like this would never make it into print in the u.s... it's so far from the approved talking points, it would be spiked immediately...
The Lebanese-based militant group Hezbollah should be removed from Canada's list of banned terrorist organizations, two Canadian MPs say.

Boris Wrzesnewskyj and Peggy Nash made the comments Sunday during a fact-finding mission to southern Lebanon as Israeli troops continue to withdraw from the region following 34 days of conflict.


Wrzesnewskyj, a Liberal MP from Toronto, says the visit has shown him how integrated Hezbollah is into Lebanese society. In the interest of peace, he said Canada should reconsider its 2002 decision to place the group on its list of banned terrorist groups.

"Hezbollah has a political wing, they have members of parliament, two [cabinet] ministers," said Wrzesnewskyj.

"You want to encourage the politicians of this military organization, you want to encourage the political wing, so that the centre of gravity shifts to them."

Wrzesnewskyj compared the situation in Lebanon to the decades of sectarian violence by the Irish Republican Army.

"If there wasn't a possibility for London to negotiate with Sinn Fein [the IRA's political party], we'd still have bombings in Northern Ireland," he said.

why in god's name can't we have discussions like this in the u.s...? i can just see two u.s. congressmen making this kind of suggestion... they would immediately be branded as terrorist sympathizers, traitors to the u.s. war on terror, and accused of being personally allied with osama bin laden... by the time their congressional colleagues, the media, and the wingnuts finished with them, there would be nothing left...

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Bush on Iraq - still digging

he hit rock bottom some time ago but he's still digging away like mad...
  • I am aware that extremists and terrorists are doing everything they can to prevent Iraq's democracy from growing stronger. That's what I'm aware of. And therefore we have a plan to help them -- them, the Iraqis -- achieve their objectives.
  • There's a lot of people -- good, decent people -- saying withdrawal now. They're absolutely wrong.
  • The tactics -- now, either you say, yes, it's important that we stay there and get it done, or we leave. We're not leaving so long as I'm the president. That would be a huge mistake. It would send an unbelievably, you know, terrible signal to reformers across the region. It would say we've abandoned our desire to change the conditions that create terror. It would give the terrorists a safe haven from which to launch attacks. It would embolden Iran. It would embolden extremists. No, we're not leaving.
  • Now, al Qaeda is still very active in Iraq. As a matter of fact, some of the more -- I would guess, I would surmise that some of the more spectacular bombings are done by al Qaeda suiciders. No question there's sectarian violence as well. And the challenge is to provide a security plan such that a political process can go forward. And you know, I know -- I'm sure you all are tired of hearing me say 12 million Iraqis voted, but it's an indication about the desire for people to live in a free society.
would somebody please put him out of my misery...?

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Among other things, the Israelis have created an environmental disaster in Lebanon, some of which is radioactive

and the mess will impact a good chunk of the eastern mediterranean...
[I]n addition to the human tragedy, the environment took a number of deadly blows. The coastlines of Lebanon and Syria were polluted by oil spills, Turkey and Cyprus may be hit by the slicks in the coming weeks, and forest fires raged in Lebanon and Israel.


The fuel oil along the coast is currently taking the form of a thick and soft mass similar to fluid asphalt. It is highly toxic and has the potential to kill all marine life. Hydrocarbons concentrate in all organisms exposed to it. They are carcinogenic and damage hormone systems in all living beings. On beaches in Jiyyeh, Beirut and near Tripoli, already endangered green turtles have buried their eggs. Baby turtles start to hatch now, but they have little hope of completing their first fateful journey across the beach to the water. Coastal fisheries will be affected for years to come and the livelihood of fishermen destroyed. Lebanon's tourism industry, which had seen a revival in recent years, has been struck at its heart.

and, just to make sure they've left behind a REAL, LASTING mess, there's this...
Mohammad Ali Qobeissi, a member of the [Lebanon] National Council for Scientific Research, said on Sunday that a crater caused by an Israeli munition in Khiam contained "a high degree of unidentified radioactive materials." Qobeissi, along with Ibrahim Rashidi from the Faculty of Sciences at the Lebanese University, have inspected the crater - which is 3 meters deep and has a diameter of 10 meters - in the Jlahiyyeh quarter in Khiam, with a Geiger-Muller radioactivity counter and nuclear material detector.

i'm so sick of wars, people dying, countries, economies, industries, environments being destroyed, the relentless appetite for bigger, better, more destructive weapons... this isn't the way it's supposed to be...

(thanks to juan cole...)

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"We are not in danger of dying at the hands of toiletries."

hey, michael... don't beat around the bush (pardon the very bad pun)... tell us how you REALLY feel...
Terrorists are "rolling around the caves of Pakistan, laughing" at Britain's response to the terror threat, an airline boss said last night as he gave the government a seven-day deadline to relax restrictions or face legal action.

Ryanair boss Michael O'Leary described some of the security measures as "farcical, Keystone Kops-like and completely insane and ineffectual". ... Banning items such as water bottles and toothpaste was "nuts".... He said it was "complete horse manure" to infer that passengers either faced delays or death. Mr O'Leary said the people being subjected to intense security were "not terrorists and not fanatics ... they are actually called holidaymakers". He went on: "The best way to defeat terrorists and extremists is for ordinary people to continue to live their lives as normal.

"We are not in danger of dying at the hands of toiletries. Normal security measures have successfully prevented any terrorist attack on any British plane in the last 25 years."

we need more folks who can command a level of public visibility willing to speak up about the fear-mongering crap that's being foisted on us...

(thanks to jeralyn at talkleft...)

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Pat Buchanan is a few fries short of a happy meal

get a clue, pat...

(thanks to think progress...)
Appearing on Imus In the Morning to promote his new book, State of Emergency, Pat Buchanan asserted that the Mexican government has a “direct program” to reannex “the seven states of the American Southwest.” The first step is for Mexico “to push the poor, unemployed, and uneducated into the United States.” He criticized President Bush for not understanding “the nature and character of the invasion” from Mexico.

for one thing, mexico isn't ABOUT to risk losing the remittances mexican immigrants send to mexico annually...
Mexico will receive almost $24 billion in remittances from abroad this year, a 20 percent rise from a year ago, as the number of Mexicans working in the U.S. increases, said an official at the country's central bank.

Jesus Cervantes, the Bank of Mexico's director of economic measurement, said remittances will rise from $20.6 billion in 2005. The 2006 estimate is more than six times the $3.7 billion in remittances in 1995.

what a doofus...

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Hagel: We've fallen and we can't get up

meanwhile, back at the white house, the relentless destruction of the very foundations of our country continues...
Republican Senator Chuck Hagel (R-Neb):

"Where is the fiscal responsibility of the party I joined in '68? Where is the international engagement of the party I joined - fair, free trade, individual responsibility, not building a bigger government, but building a smaller government?"

"I think we've lost our way," he said. "And I think the Republicans are going to be in some jeopardy for that and will be held accountable."

the r's will in no way be held accountable in the way they SHOULD be held accountable... bush, cheney, rumsfeld, rice, and gonzales should be tried and convicted of war crimes... rove should be permanently barred from public service at any level... and that's just for starters...

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Kidnapping as "leverage"

Leverage for a Prisoner Swap

Seizure of Hamas Officials May Portend Deal for Israeli Soldier

maybe it should read like this...

nyah, nyah, nyah...

Nasser Shaer, 45, a bookish former professor and British-educated scholar who wrote dissertations on comparative religions, was hardly a firebrand. But the Palestinian minister of education was a man on the run.

He sneaked into his office at the ministry when he could, took paperwork with him and made calls for work from hidden locations, organizing the start of the Palestinian school year. This weekend, he met his wife and six children after they had left their high-rise apartment to rendezvous secretly at another house. That's where the Israelis found him.

Soldiers stormed into the house shortly before dawn and took Shaer away to be yet another chip in a potential prisoner swap for an abducted Israeli soldier. As the top education official and a deputy prime minister in the Hamas-led government, he is a ranking chip.

On Sunday, Israelis seized another senior Hamas legislator, Mahmoud Ramahi, near Ramallah, bringing to 40 the number of Palestinian officials from Hamas being held by Israel.

eye for an eye... tooth for a tooth... round and round she goes, where she stops, nobody knows...

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Catch-22, Gitmo-style

Yossarian: Let me see if I've got this straight: in order to be grounded, I've got to be crazy and I must be crazy to keep flying. But if I ask to be grounded, that means I'm not crazy any more and I have to keep flying.

enter guantanamo...
On Jan. 18, 2002, six men suspected of plotting to attack the U.S. Embassy were seized here by U.S. troops and flown to Cuba, where they became some of the first arrivals at the Pentagon's new prison at Guantanamo Bay.

The seizure was ordered by senior U.S. officials in defiance of rulings by top courts in Bosnia that the men were entitled to their freedom and could not be deported. Today, more than four years later, the six remain locked up at Guantanamo, even though the original allegations about the embassy attack have been discredited and dropped, records show.


The detainees and their lawyers say they are caught in a trap. They contend that the Pentagon knows the men are not guilty but is unwilling to let them go free because that would be an acknowledgment of a grave error.

"The Americans did not want to return me to Bosnia. Why? Because the Americans claimed to have evidence against me. I can't be returned and found innocent," Mustafa Ait Idr, one of the six Algerians, told a military tribunal at Guantanamo in October 2004, according to a transcript of the hearing.

"So now I am sitting here in Cuba and I do not know why. I do not know what is happening outside; I do not know. But what I do know is that this is a game."

catch-22, in its generally accepted connotation, signifies something twisted into a bizarre and vaguely surreal shape by an arcane, faceless, and self-serving bureaucracy... what has been added to the definition by the bush administration is hubris and supreme arrogance to say nothing of the total abandonment of humanitarianism and justice and the destruction of innocent human lives...

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Is 9/11 truth coming out of the closet...?

i saw this movie a number of months ago on the recommendation of fellow blogger, skadi... it's very comprehensive and reminds us just how much we don't know about the truth of 9/11... its strength lies in the fact that it doesn't focus on establishing a conspiracy as much as it does on asking tough, pertinent questions that are raised by a close examination of the tragedy...

(from alternet...)
[E]x-Army specialist Korey Rowe . . . [a] 23-year-old from Oneonta, New York returned home from two tours -- one to Afghanistan, the other to Iraq -- to help his best friends, Dylan Avery (director) and Jason Bermas (researcher), produce the sensational 80-minute, Web-based documentary "Loose Change," which seeks to establish the government's complicity in the terror attacks by addressing some very tough questions: Why wasn't Ground Zero treated like a crime scene? How did both towers "free-fall" to the ground "in 9.2 seconds" in just under two hours? And where are the black boxes from American Airlines Flight 11 and United Airlines Flight 175?


Since its April 2005 debut online, "Loose Change" (the first and second edition) has received over 10 million viewings, it was just featured in the August issue of Vanity Fair, and the final cut of the film is expected to debut at the Sundance Film Festival in January.

"I've got four movie studios [including Paramount and Miramax] beating down my door to make the final cut," says Rowe, who's now got offices from California to London to handle his growing company.

watching it would be 80 minutes well-spent...

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Sunday, August 20, 2006

No evidence against airline bomb plot "mastermind" in Pakistan

just exactly what in the lower reaches of hell is going on here...?
The Briton alleged to be the ‘mastermind’ behind the airline terror plot could be innocent of any significant involvement, sources close to the investigation claim.

Rashid Rauf, whose detention in Pakistan was the trigger for the arrest of 23 suspects in Britain, has been accused of taking orders from Al Qaeda’s ‘No3’ in Afghanistan and sending money back to the UK to allow the alleged bombers to buy plane tickets.

But after two weeks of interrogation, an inch-by-inch search of his house and analysis of his home computer, officials are now saying that his extradition is ‘a way down the track’ if it happens at all.

if i didn't believe so passionately in our government's desire to keep us safe from terrorists at all costs, i would be inclined to think we might have been duped here, but, nah...

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Yeah, another sunset pic

ok, it's not ONLY the sunset this time... i threw in a pic of a cool church just to break the monotony... :)

i really think i have seen more and better sunsets in argentina than almost anywhere else... i have no idea why that is...

i took the church pic at the same time and from almost the same spot as the sunset pic... i love the way the sunset is making the side of the steeple look like it's glowing with its own light... i completely spaced out on getting the name of the church... guess i'll have to go back tomorrow...

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Cross-dressing in Connecticut with tiresome Joe

oh, yeah... i think william greider has definitely figured it all out...
I suspect Karl and Joe have made a deal. A back-scratching understanding, you might say.

Karl says to Senator Joe: We will help you beat Ned in the general election and you will agree to cross over and sign up with the Republicans--if we need your vote to retain our majority in the Senate.

Joe says: It's a deal--but only if my fellow Democrats make a sincere effort to support Ned and defeat me. Otherwise, if the Dems go limp and sell out Ned, I have to stay loyal.

Karl: Fair enough. How do we make the terms of the deal clear to everyone without announcing it?

Joe: You very publically dump the no-name Republican candidate in the race. I start attacking the patriotism of anti-war Democrats like Bernie Sanders, who's running for senator in Vermont. We both cut up Ned Lamont with the same vicious slurs--portraying him as a fellow traveler for al Quaeda.

Karl: Excellent. I have a hit group called Vets for Freedom, who will start tossing the mud.

Joe: My Democratic pals will understand completely. This is the kind of bipartisan civility I've always sought in politics.

too far-fetched, you say...?
Some Democrats--I hear this second-hand--are flirting with this "go limp" strategy. Others are arguing intensely that the party has no option except to put all of its weight behind the party nominee and, in effect, make damn sure Ned wins. Above all, they have to demonstrate their commitment to Lamont followers, those new rank-and-file forces who harbor deep skepticism about the party's timid leadership.

If Democrats fail to demonstrate their genuineness, they may very well create a much more serious problem for the party down the road. A Lieberman victory, regardless of how it occurs, would encourage the rebels and insurgents from within the party to skip party primaries as bogus events and run their challenge candidates in the general elections--just like wayward Joe.

These rebel challengers might not win, but they could rally enough dissenting voters to bring down a lot of incumbent Dems. Joe tossed party identity out the window; why shouldn't they?

This would be a far bloodier path to reinvigorating the Democratic party--bringing it down in order to rebuild it--but some reform agitators have noticed that it works. Fratricidal bloodletting was how the Republican Right got its groove and gained its power over the other party.

not if you take into account that some of the dem power brokers are already talking about how too much emphasis is being put on supporting lamont...
Lamont v. Lieberman is a carnival sideshow, a titilating [sic] and distracting spectacle. Rove is the carnival barker. So ignore the hoopla and keep moving on down the midway, folks.

'scuse ME...?!?!?! it's far from a friggin' carnival sideshow... lamont MUST win connecticut... and, yes, there are other must-win races too, but the lamont-lieberman contest is first among equals...

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Re-visiting PNAC

i want to return to my post from yesterday where i mentioned in passing that pnac was closing its doors... this from the wapo back on 12 june...
The doors may be closing shortly on the nine-year-old Project for a New American Century, the neoconservative think tank headed by William Kristol, former chief of staff to Vice President Dan Quayle and now editor of the Weekly Standard, which is must reading for neocon cogitators and agitators.


There had been debate about PNAC's future, but the feeling, a source said, was of "goal accomplished..."

when you consider how pnac's 3 june 1997 signatories have fared - the omnipresent bills, kristol and bennett (seemingly permanent media pundits), wolfowitz' ascendancy to the world bank where he can continue perfecting his diabolical craft with much less visibility, dick cheney's reign of terror as vice president, scooter libby's machinations (until he was put on ice), zalmay khalilzad as u.s. ambassador to iraq - it certainly DOES appear to be "goal accomplished..." now, if they can just get that war with iran going...

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A country that's at least TRYING to help its less-fortunate citizens

argentina's got plenty of problems, no doubt about it... corruption in public officialdom is certainly one, as is unemployment, the rising cost of living, and the still-way too high poverty levels... while it's easy to focus on those (reporting all varieties of bad news is a media obesssion here as it seems to be everywhere), the government does believe that it has an obligation to look after its citizens, unlike some other country we could name...
Probably one of the best pieces of news of the week was the announcement of easier access to home loans for people who are now renting the properties they live in. The idea that the government, through the Central Bank, will back 90 percent of the value of property worth up to 300,000 pesos is indeed revolutionary, even if that word is not always to the liking of officials.

[For reference, the dollar-peso exchange rate is currently 1:3 and the price of an average 50sq meter apartment is rougly $USD50,000. Property in Argentina is bought and sold in U.S. dollars.]

rentals are increasingly hard to come by in the capital because everybody is trying to sell, sell, sell... for the vast majority who would find it impossible to buy their own apartment or house, this is truly good news... but, for every silver lining, there's usually a dark cloud...
[S]ome experts warned that it will have little effect in view of the huge gap between real estate prices and salaries.

[Again, for reference, a "living wage" for a family of four in Argentina is considered to be roughly 1000 pesos per month.]

as i've mentioned before, approximately 40% of salaries earned in argentina come from the "informal" economy, meaning workers are paid "off the books..." such wages are roughly 1/2 to 2/3 of what workers in the "legitimate" economy earn, come without benefits of any kind, and zero employment security...

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Karl's finely-honed sense of humor

making light of personal tragedy and one of the most serious issues facing the united states today... what a guy...!
Chanting "Try Rove for treason," Cindy Sheehan and more than 50 other war protesters ambushed a reception before President Bush's top adviser Karl Rove spoke at a fundraiser at a hotel Saturday.


Rove was speaking at an Associated Republicans of Texas dinner, where ticket prices started at $200 per person and raised an estimated $250,000. He was not in the Renaissance Austin Hotel lobby during the reception.


One protester was able to slip inside the ballroom during the dinner but was escorted out after shouting about men and women dying, the Austin American-Statesman reported in its Sunday editions.

"Pat, did you get her check before she left?" Rove quipped to the GOP group's executive director, Pat Robbins, as the crowd of 300 laughed, the newspaper reported.

"I don't question the patriotism of our critics. Many are hardworking public servants who are doing the best they can. Some of them are people looking for a free meal," Rove said, drawing more laughs.

the fact that he was making jokes at the expense of protestors of war and death is bad enough... that his audience laughed at them is worse...

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