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And, yes, I DO take it personally: 11/19/2006 - 11/26/2006
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And, yes, I DO take it personally

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Paraguay opts to ally with the region rather than the U.S.

hmmm... good news... maybe this will forestall estigarribia becoming a full-fledged u.s. base...

On October 2, the Paraguayan government announced its decision to revoke U.S. immunity as soon as their current contract expires in December 2006. The US military has carried out military exercises in Paraguay since July 2005. Since then the troops have enjoyed technical and administrative immunity, exempting them from trial in the International Criminal Court (ICC).

Thomas Shannon, Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs, said that the US will not continue to provide military support without immunity for its soldiers. However, on October 3, 2006 President Bush signed a waiver allowing for military aid in countries that have refused to sign immunity agreements with the US military. The waiver affects 21 countries, including Paraguay.


Paraguay´s decision represents a political alliance with the countries in the MercoSur trade block, which includes Uruguay, Argentina, Brazil, Chile, and Venezuela.

Note: Venezuela (at the top of the map,
in blue) is now a full member)

(thanks to the prissy patriot...)

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George hasn't "checked out," his handlers have written him off

josh, josh, josh... george never spoke with his own voice anyway... he was simply handed a script and coached on his part... what you're seeing is that his handlers have written him off, not that he's "checked out..."
Is it just me or has George W. Bush checked out of the stumbling national crisis we know as 'Iraq'?

I know his name shows up in the headlines. He's meeting Iraq Prime Minister Maliki next week in Amman. Vice President Cheney is shuttling to Saudi Arabia. And all of this is being billed as a part of a new and broader 'regional' approach to getting the conflict under some measure of control.

But I don't hear the president. Not his voice. The one thing that's been a constant over the last three and a half years is the president as the voice of American Iraq policy. Whether he's the author of it is another question entirely. But the voice and pitbull of it, always.

And yet since the election he seems to have disappeared from the conversation entirely. Like he's just checked out. It's not his thing anymore.

bush never "checked in" in the first place, and his "checking out" now is meaningless as long as he-who-must-not-be-named (rove) and cheney are still ensconced in the white house... other than being a dolt, george has never been the REAL problem... if we could get rid of those two and their evil entourage (hadley, addington, etc.), we might be able to honestly say we have a lame duck administration... now...? not at all...

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What're ya gonna do with a straight line like this...?

is this too tempting to leave alone, or what...?

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Friday, November 24, 2006

Is Gates merely Rumsfeld with a charm school degree...?

you might like like to think it's all behind you, bobby, but, remember, we didn't have the internet in 1984...
In 1984, Robert Gates, then the No. 2 CIA official, advocated U.S. airstrikes against Nicaragua's pro-Cuban government to reverse what he described as an ineffective U.S. strategy to deal with communist advances in Central America, previously classified documents say.

Gates, President Bush's nominee to be defense secretary, said the United States could no longer justify what he described as "halfhearted" attempts to contain Nicaragua's Sandinista government, according to documents released Friday by the National Security Archive, a private research group.

In a memo to CIA Director William Casey dated Dec. 14, 1984, Gates said his proposed airstrikes would be designed "to destroy a considerable portion of Nicaragua's military buildup" and be focused on tanks and helicopters.

so, what are we gonna get to replace rumsfeld...? looks to me like exactly the same kind of war-mongering nutcase, with this exception - gates has been to charm school...

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When do we get some REAL answers about what led up to Iraq...?

booman wants to know, and, in framing the question precisely, lays out a compelling summary of what we know so far...
The CIA did its best to warn the administration about the threat of 9/11. When the administration took no action, the CIA was blamed for failing to connect the dots. They bravely absorbed that unfair characterization, but quickly found themselves under tremendous pressure to link the 9/11 attacks to Iraq, and Iraq to international terrorism, nuclear proliferation, and unverifiable WMD programs. When they could not, or would not, make those determinations, columnists like William Safire launched grossly unfair attacks at them.

Finally, the CIA determined that invading Iraq would weaken our alliances, provide a training ground for future terrorists, be the only reason Saddam would ever consider using WMD (if he even had any), would empower Iran, and could lead to the partition of the country. Despite this, they were asked to support a foreign policy strategy their analysts thought would be a disaster. And they did.

When no WMD's were found, the CIA was again asked to take the blame, and a new intelligence agency was established that took away the CIA's responsibility to report directly to the President. Valerie Plame Wilson's identity was exposed and the investigation, not surprisingly, led directly back into the Vice-President's office.

i am deathly sick and tired of having this crap lying around like some cold case file... we, the american public, to say nothing of the rest of the world, deserve to know the truth... half a trillion dollars, a couple of hundred thousand lives give or take, and three and a half years later, we know precious goddam little... it's simply not acceptable...

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May I recommend "Happy Feet...?"

yes, it has a lot of hollywood, kid-movie formula in it... yes, it's about a misfit who finally finds a way to belong... yes, it's also about a misfit who becomes a hero... and, yes, with tickets, popcorn, snacks, and drinks, it set me back an outrageous forty bucks to take my two young grandsons... but, the music is good... the animation is excellent... the characters' voices are right on... there is enough adult-level humor to keep a jaded old fart like me amused... but, more importantly, the reason i'm recommending it is this... the end of the movie shows the world as it's SUPPOSED to be... i'm such a softie that i already had tears in my eyes, but then the ending came along and there was no holding me back... go see it with a kid... you won't be sorry...

p.s. the kid is your cover story...! ;)

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Great...! They're dying left and right and then we kill them while they're mourning...!

this is inexcusable...
A U.S. helicopter fired on a funeral party in Baghdad, one of dozens taking place after Thursday's devastating bombings in Sadr City, in response to ritual shooting, the Iraqi Interior Ministry said.

A ministry official said two people were wounded in Friday's air strike, which came after mourners fired into the air.

we've only occupied the country since march 2003 and we still can't seem to figure out what the local customs are, so, instead of taking a moment to radio in and find out what the hell is REALLY going on, we start indiscriminate firing into a crowd... we so desperately need to get out of there...

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Whaddaya think...? Will Bushco provide the docs or not...?

my money is on "no..."
Seeking information about detention of terrorism suspects, abuse of detainees and government secrecy, Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee are reviving dozens of demands for classified documents that until now have been rebuffed or ignored by the Justice Department and other agencies.

“I expect real answers, or we’ll have testimony under oath until we get them,” Senator Patrick J. Leahy of Vermont, who will head the committee beginning in January, said in an interview this week. “We’re entitled to know these answers, and in many instances we don’t get them because people are hiding their mistakes. And that’s no excuse.”

not only do i think they won't get the documents, i don't believe they will get anybody there to testify under oath... congress can huff and puff all it wants but you and i both know that bushco will huff and puff right back, claiming "national security," the president's "war-time" powers as commander-in-chief under the aumf, and the "unitary executive" theory as reasons for continuing to do whatever they goddam well please...

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Thursday, November 23, 2006


excuse me...!

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Nothing to be thankful for in Iraq

it's clear that by staying, we're not only not helping, we're making matters much worse... the sooner we get the hell outta there, the better...
A wave of car bombs and mortar blasts in the Shia Sadr City district of the Iraqi capital has left more than 150 people dead and more than 200 injured.

It was the most devastating series of attacks in Baghdad in a single day since the US-led invasion in 2003.

At least three bombs exploded in crowded areas of Sadr City, the frequent target of Sunni insurgents.

but, you and i both know that bush and the puppeteers who pull his strings aren't going to abandon the huge, new embassy a'building in the green zone, and the massive military bases that are sinking roots ever deeper into the desert... oh, did i mention oil...?

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Thanksgiving around the country

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Y'all have a good day now, y'hear...!

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Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Buy Nothing Day

i like it... a lot...

THE ULTIMATE REFUND: On November 24th and 25th – the busiest days in the American retail calendar and the unofficial start of the international Christmas-shopping season – thousands of activists and concerned citizens in 65 countries will take a 24-hour consumer detox as part of the 14th annual Buy Nothing Day, a global phenomenon that originated in Vancouver, Canada.

From joining zombie marches through malls to organizing credit card cut-ups and shopoholic clinics, Buy Nothing Day activists aim to challenge themselves, their families and their friends to switch off from shopping and tune back into life for one day. Featured in recent years by the likes of CNN, Wired, the BBC, and the CBC, the global event is celebrated as a relaxed family holiday, as a non-commercial street party, or even as a politically charged public protest. Anyone can take part provided they spend a day without spending.

Reasons for participating in Buy Nothing Day are as varied as the people who choose to participate. Some see it as an escape from the marketing mind games and frantic consumer binge that has come to characterize the holiday season, and our culture in general. Others use it to expose the environmental and ethical consequences of overconsumption.

this is the first holiday season in two years i will have spent in the u.s... i can't tell you the relief it has been to be away from the incredibly intense "buy, buy, buy" atmosphere of christmas in the united states... it starts in late september and is totally in your face right on through the after-christmas sales... however, my family is here and being with them outweighs any revulsion i might feel over the frenzy of consumption... nonetheless, i'm glad to see an organized effort against "black friday..."

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"We need protection from government more than we need protection from criminals"

we need to understand, and understand very clearly, that democratic control of congress is not going to save us... bush and his criminal administration have to be stopped...
Americans have forgot[ten] that we need protection from government more than we need protection from criminals. Once we cut down civil liberty so that police may better pursue criminals and terrorists, where do we stand when government turns on us?

This is the famous question asked by Sir Thomas More in the play, A Man for All Seasons. The answer is that we stand naked, unprotected by law. It is an act of the utmost ignorance and stupidity to assume that only criminals and terrorists will stand unprotected.

Americans should be roused to fury that attorney general Alberto Gonzales and vice president Cheney have condemned the defense of American civil liberty as "a grave threat to US security." This blatant use of an orchestrated and propagandistic fear to create a "national security" wedge against the Bill of Rights is an impeachable offense.

Mark my words, the future of civil liberty in the US depends on the impeachment and conviction of Bush, Cheney, and Gonzales.

i had a doctor appointment today... i was describing the seizure of my laptop as i was going through u.s. customs this past june in san francisco... "they can't do THAT," he exclaimed... "oh, yes, they CAN," i replied...
The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled this week that border police may randomly search laptop computers without search warrants or probable cause, reports. The decision was the result of a business traveler protesting the warrantless search and seizure of his laptop at the Canadian border by the U.S. Homeland Security Department. According to the court, it is permissible for searches to include the seizing of laptops and forensic analysis. Judge Carlos Bea wrote the opinion for the court, which found that the forensic analysis of the laptop in question "was permissible without probable cause or a warrant under the border search doctrine." Two other judges joined him in the unanimous ruling.

three weeks they had it before sending it back... three weeks... no reason given... welcome to george bush's america...

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Iraq - the dead AND the disappeared

it's bad enough to have 3,700 deaths in one month...

it's even worse when your loved ones just disappear and you don't know what's happened to them...

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Privatizing our electoral system is wrong, dangerous, and rife with opportunity for fraud

steven heller on diebold via brad friedman...
In my view, Diebold has shown they cannot be trusted to run elections in America. We must not allow a private corporation to run our elections for us in secret, using secret machines and secret software. The only thing secret about our elections should be the secret ballot.

I urge all Americans to insist Congress enact Federal legislation requiring that all voting machines must have a voter verifiable paper ballot, be run on open source software code, be subject to inspection by independent computer experts, and that each election have a random sample ballot recount. Only then will we have a chance of restoring true integrity to American elections.

if we're going to fix this country, we had better get serious about fixing our electoral system... as i posted last week, the evidence of democratic vote undercount and republican vote overcount in the recent mid-term elections is sufficient to warrant an investigation... we can't hope to get our country back on track with this kind of risk lurking in the background...

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3700 one-month death toll in Iraq... What hath we wrought...?

damn... i've been feeling exceptionally grateful for all my blessings and then something like this smacks me upside the head...
The United Nations said Wednesday that 3,709 Iraqi civilians were killed in October, the highest monthly toll since the March 2003 U.S. invasion and another sign of the severity of Iraq's sectarian bloodbath.


The United Nations said Wednesday that 3,709 Iraqi civilians were killed in October, the highest monthly toll since the March 2003 U.S. invasion and another sign of the severity of Iraq's sectarian bloodbath.

i also have to stop and remember that there are other places where death and violence are as bad, if not worse, like the congo and darfur... as we prepare our traditional thanksgiving meals and gather with family and loved ones, let's not forget those who are sacrificing their lives in bloodshed, violence, and war...

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U.S. arms sales DOUBLE in a year...??

i must have missed this when it came out last week...
Sales of military weapons by United States contractors to foreign governments doubled in the last year, as countries like Pakistan, Australia and Greece stepped up purchases of armaments and the United States government loosened policies to allow more American weapons to be sold on the world market. A total of $21 billion in arms sales agreements were signed from September 2005 to September 2006, compared with $10.6 billion in the previous year, according to new data compiled by the Pentagon. Foreign military sales agreements have typically ranged from $10 billion to $13 billion a year since 2001. A number of factors are behind the surge in sales. Since Sept. 11, 2001, the Bush administration has used arms sales as a way to reward allies and cement international relationships. Middle Eastern countries, flush with oil revenues, have become big buyers. Countries like India, Pakistan and Indonesia that were once barred from buying American weapons have had those bans lifted, and some have placed big orders. For military contractors, the sales have provided a welcome source of new revenue at a time when the Pentagon has indicated that the era of record military budgets is ending.

now, tell me bushco isn't interested in fanning the flames of terrorism and global chaos... a $10B annual increase is a mighty strong incentive for endless war...

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Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Bring the children inside and lock the doors

the aliens have landed...

i may have to sleep with the lights on tonight...

(thanks to the unknown candidate...)

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An exercise in the grotesque: Lieberman mimics McCain

all i know about marshall wittman is what i read in the weblogs, so i will allow as to how my view might be somewhat warped...
Two weeks after winning reelection as an independent due to losing Connecticut's Democratic primary, Joe Lieberman has hired a former spokesman for the Christian Coalition as his new communications director, RAW STORY has learned. The new hiree also formerly served as a senior fellow at the Democratic Leadership Council (DLC), a legislative director for the conservative Heritage Foundation, and as communications director to Sen. John McCain (R-AZ).

Fifty-two year old political pundit and activist Marshall Wittmann is very popular with Washington journalists because he often "gives good quote," according to a Washington Post profile from earlier this year.

"He's been a Trotskyite, a union organizer, a lobbyist, a government bureaucrat, a think tank cogitator, an aide to Sen. John McCain and -- despite the fact that he's Jewish -- the official spokesman for the Christian Coalition," Peter Carlson wrote for the Post. "Which raises a perplexing question: Why the hell would anybody listen to the political thoughts of a guy knuckleheaded enough to get mixed up in movements formed by both Leon Trotsky and Pat Robertson?"

Wittmann explained at the time that he may possess "an extra contrarian gene."

somebody needs to sit both joe and john down and explain to them that the christian fundamentalist extremist ship already sailed and, halfway into the journey, collided with several icebergs: foley, rove, and haggard, among others... yes, it's still afloat but it's taking on water quickly...

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We're going to torture you but you can't tell anybody

because if you do, we'll have to torture you some more...
There was only one catch and that was Catch-22, which specified that a concern for one's safety in the face of dangers that were real and immediate was the process of a rational mind. Orr was crazy and could be grounded. All he had to do was ask; and as soon as he did, he would no longer be crazy and would have to fly more missions. Orr would be crazy to fly more missions and sane if he didn't, but if he was sane he had to fly them. If he flew them he was crazy and didn't have to; but if he didn't want to he was sane and had to. Yossarian was moved very deeply by the absolute simplicity of this clause of Catch-22 and let out a respectful whistle.

"That's some catch, that Catch-22," he [Yossarian] observed.
"It's the best there is," Doc Daneeka agreed.

now, HERE'S a hole with no bottom...
Buried within a recent government brief in the case of Guantanamo Bay inmate Majid Khan is one of the more disturbing arguments the Bush administration has advanced in the legal struggles surrounding the war on terrorism. Mr. Khan was one of the al-Qaeda suspects who was detained in a secret prison of the CIA and subjected to "alternative" interrogation tactics -- the administration's chilling phrase for methods most people regard as torture. Now the government is arguing that by subjecting detainees to such treatment, the CIA gives them "top secret" classified information -- and the government can then take extraordinary measures to keep them quiet about it. If this argument carries the day, it will make virtually impossible any accountability for the administration's treatment of top al-Qaeda detainees. And it will also ensure that key parts of any military trials get litigated in secrecy.

my country is beginning to look more and more like the dark recesses of dick cheney's mind...

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Finding the humor in catastrophe no more

this is so sad...
For the last three years, Walid Hassan had an impossible task. He had to make war-weary Iraqis laugh. Week after week, the comedian and broadcaster found inspiration in the turmoil and bloodletting. On his weekend television show, "Caricature," he poked fun at the poor security, the long gas lines, the electricity blackouts and the ineffective politicians.

In Hassan's world, nothing was sacred. And many Iraqis adored him. In a nation bottled up with frustration, he was their release. They would recognize him on the streets and uncork their plights. He would listen, and turn them into satire.

On Monday, Hassan, 47, a father of five children, became a victim of the war and chaos from which he drew his inspiration. A Shiite Muslim, he was found in the majority-Sunni neighborhood of Yarmouk in west Baghdad with multiple bullet wounds to his back and head, according to police. He was last seen by witnesses in a black car with a driver and two other passengers.

no small part of how i managed to escape my vietnam experience with mental state semi-intact was the ability, along with my fellow grunts, to laugh at the insanity we witnessed every day... in baghdad and iraq, where a scenario vastly more horrific than anything i ever experienced is playing out, the struggle to hold on to one's precarious inner balance must be extraordinarily difficult... iraqis need a mr. hassan... what a shame...

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The disgrace of religious, ethnic, and racial intolerance

this kind of outrage is only to be expected when the likes of bush and cheney give tacit permission to demonize any and all members of the islamic faith...
The Council on American-Islamic Relations called Tuesday for an investigation into the behavior of airline staff and airport security in the removal of six Muslim scholars from a US Airways flight a day earlier.

A passenger raised concerns about the imams — three of whom said their normal evening prayers in the airport terminal before boarding the Phoenix-bound plane, according to one — through a note passed to a flight attendant, according to Andrea Rader, a spokeswoman for US Airways.

"We are concerned that crew members, passengers and security personnel may have succumbed to fear and prejudice based on stereotyping of Muslims and Islam," Nihad Awad, the council's executive director, said in a news release.

The six were returning from a conference in Minneapolis of the North American Imams Federation, said Omar Shahin of Phoenix, president of the group.

"They took us off the plane, humiliated us in a very disrespectful way," Shahin said after the incident.

so, one paranoid passenger, with no basis other than his or her own media and government-induced fear of muslims, has the power to hold up 141 people to have six innocent people thrown off of the flight that was taking them home...
The six were among passengers who boarded Flight 300, bound for Phoenix, around 6:30 p.m. Monday, airport spokesman Pat Hogan said.

Police were called after the captain and airport security workers asked the men to leave the plane and the men refused, Rader said.

put yourself in their shoes... you've been attending a business or professional conference... you're eager to return home... but, because of your appearance, you are forcibly removed from your flight, treated as a possible terrorist, forced to stay another night, and then have the airline, to which you paid good money for your ticket, refuse to accommodate you on another flight...

this scenario cuts closer to home than i would like... the flight i was on from santiago, chile, to los angeles on wednesday night had just pushed back from the gate and was taxiing to the runway for takeoff, when it suddenly returned to the gate... i assumed it was due to a mechanical problem, but, instead, a number of security officers came onboard and quickly escorted a woman off of the aircraft, no reasons or explanations given to the passengers... it was disturbing to say the least...

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Monday, November 20, 2006

Fucking hippies...!

i guess i'm not surprised that there are people out there who still think this way, nor am i surprised to find that SHE lives in lexington, kentucky... and, i guess i'm also not surprised to find her writing a regular newspaper column...
America won't win another war until the 1960s flower children are pushing up petunias.

Radicalized, the flower children morphed into lefty loonies who now masquerade as social progressives. No matter what they rename themselves, however, their agenda hasn't changed.

They still want utopia, and it wouldn't be worth mentioning except that their naivetŽ has aged into a persistent denial of reality that may have devastating consequences.

For example, consider their continued belief that America's armed forces are neo-Nazi stormtroopers who delight in burning babies to further the aims of imperialistic corporations.

Such nonsense, now treated as legitimate by the left-leaning media, denigrates the patriotic values and sincerity of half the nation. It undermines the war effort, insults the dead and the survivors of battle and their families, and supports the aims of the enemy. Translated into immigration or national defense policy, it is an invitation to the world to destroy our country.

Yet, this Vietnam-era idŽe fixe about the military, despite 40-plus years of proof to the contrary, is understandable when analyzed in the context of the flower children's religious zealotry.

To renounce their military fictions would mean facing bigger, more important truths: Marxism doesn't work. Love is not all you need. Western culture is worth defending because it protects freedom, tolerance and the greatest material good for the greatest number. Government can't solve every problem. The American taxpayer has no obligation to support the rest of the world's exploding population.

rebutting this piece of crap point-by-point would be way much more time and energy than i want to devote... i was moved, however, to send her an email...
Dear Ms. McBrearty:

I just finished reading your column from Sunday's edition of the Lexington Herald-Leader and I was moved to drop you a note.

I briefly flirted with the idea of rebutting your column point-by-point but I decided it would be a complete waste of my time and energy. You are wrong on so many levels, I've lost count.

As a Vietnam veteran with three awards of the Army Commendation Medal, as an alumnus of the so-called "hippie" era, as a global economic development consultant, as a father of three and a grandfather of two, as an adjunct professor in two MBA programs, as a world traveler, as a keen observer of both humanity and politics, and as a firm believer that the sooner we come to accept that we are all in this big boat together, the sooner we will all be able to figure out how to live together with dignity and respect, I can tell you without any doubt whatsoever in my mind that wars create evil, they do not erase it, that God in his wisdom does not subscribe to any religious creed nor does he pledge allegiance to any flag, and that I can only hope that people with views like yours who command a public platform will eventually turn toward the light and away from the darkness.

Best regards,

(thanks to crooks and liars...)

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God bless Maccabee

he continues to post these incredibly profound, heart-rending, mercilessly relevant stories from people he meets on his travels that touch the deepest and most important parts of our humanity...
This is what wars do. They do not end on the battlefield. They destroy people. People who once could see nothing wrong with a neighbor suddenly see a racially impure thing. War creates hates and destroys long after the bombs have stopped falling. Look at America now. Openly hating Gay people, calling war heroes cowards, questioning the authenticity of science itself and the advice of reasonable people. This is the punishment war wreaks on those who wage it. It creates a lower quality citizen. One inured to cruelty and or their own mistakes. Americans all around who have never been out of the country lecture me on foreign policy because they have just had a primer from Rush Limbaugh or that O'Reilly fool.

The only county in the whole world where one third of the population thinks Bush is a good president is the United States. It is that one third that will happily stand by if you are beaten. It is that one third of the country that will piss on laws and tell lies, all because they believe they are acting to protect something higher than law. The other day a reporter or a pundit asked a Muslim congressman to prove he wasn't a terrorist.

That is what war does. It creates bigots. It destroys brain cells. It burns reason to a crisp. Every explosion results in resentments.

light and love will take up their reign in this world... when, i don't know, but they will... they will, and i want to be here when they do...

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Freeport and Phelps - a marriage made in hell

i flew from santiago to los angeles this past week sitting next to a mining engineer who works for phelps out of phoenix... a mormon with six kids, one of whom is doing his mission assignment in india and, according to his dad, really seeing how the rest of the world lives, he seemed like a nice enough guy... but, hey... we're ALL nice guys, right...?

anyway, he told me about the various mines he travels to in south america - chile, peru, bolivia - and also told me about the new operation they're starting up in the congo that phelps can't seem to get anybody to volunteer for... i'm certainly no expert on mining operations but, with what i know about how mining interests have mercilessly exploited bolivia and peru, how mining has turned pristine alpine environments in my own former home state of colorado into tailings wastelands, how the eastern side of peru is being devastated by global energy companies, how mining companies in the congo are contributing to the ongoing tragedy in that country, and how the freeport mine in irian jaya has created an environmental disaster (see my post from december), i decided not to spoil the poor guy's flight and kept my mouth shut...

Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold Inc. said it agreed to buy much larger Phelps Dodge Corp. for $25.9 billion in cash and stock to create the world's largest publicly traded copper company.

The agreement is the latest multi-billion dollar takeover deal in the global mining industry, which has been consolidating as companies scramble to add reserves and try to capitalize on record high metal prices.

Copper now trades at $6,765, down from a record of $8,800 in May but up 53 percent on the year.

here's some pictures of the freeport operation in irian jaya...

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.

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Sunday, November 19, 2006

George's tail is between his legs but that ain't who's sticking the Constitution in the shredder

nothing's going right for george...
President George Bush suffered his most visible diplomatic setback since his party's defeat in mid-term elections yesterday when Asian leaders failed to back Washington's call for robust action against North Korea.


The rebuff - the second for Mr Bush this weekend on North Korea - underlined the president's diminished powers in the wake of his election defeat. So too did the muted response to Mr Bush's presence in Hanoi, a shadow of the tumultuous reception for President Clinton, when he visited Vietnam six years ago.

But that is far better than the hostile reception that awaits Mr Bush today when he flies in to Indonesia, where thousands of protesters were on the streets yesterday accusing the US of war crimes. Mr Bush is to spend just six hours in Indonesia after the secret service decided that it would be too dangerous for him to remain in the country overnight. Intelligence officials say there have been warnings of a militant attack during Mr Bush's visit.

but the big dick keeps on keepin' on...
A month before the November elections, Vice-President Dick Cheney was sitting in on a national-security discussion at the Executive Office Building. The talk took a political turn: what if the Democrats won both the Senate and the House? How would that affect policy toward Iran, which is believed to be on the verge of becoming a nuclear power? At that point, according to someone familiar with the discussion, Cheney began reminiscing about his job as a lineman, in the early nineteen-sixties, for a power company in Wyoming. Copper wire was expensive, and the linemen were instructed to return all unused pieces three feet or longer. No one wanted to deal with the paperwork that resulted, Cheney said, so he and his colleagues found a solution: putting “shorteners” on the wire—that is, cutting it into short pieces and tossing the leftovers at the end of the workday. If the Democrats won on November 7th, the Vice-President said, that victory would not stop the Administration from pursuing a military option with Iran. The White House would put “shorteners” on any legislative restrictions, Cheney said, and thus stop Congress from getting in its way.

now, i ask you... who is the more dangerous...? the man who is actually running the government or the sock puppet, dry-drunk, semi-articulate moron who serves as the public face of the united states...? sy hersh is doing us all a service by delivering this timely exposure of the REAL nature of bushco, an administration determined to do precisely what it goddam well pleases, congress, courts, elections, and the american people be damned...

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Small change in Buenos Aires, a story that cuts close to home

almost every time i go to buy a ticket on the tigre line of linea mitre (a commuter train line), the window of the boleteria (ticket office) has a sign in it reading, "no monedas" ("no coins")...

as the article says, like many people, i carefully stockpile my 5, 10, 25, and 50 centavo coins so i'm not caught short... since i don't often take the collectivo (bus), i don't usually have to fork over the coin combination to feed the ticket machine the 80 centavos required to ride, and, as the article also says, i often fib at the checkout line when the cajera (cashier) asks if i have correct change... but, i just chalk it up to one of those little minor annoyances of everyday living...

what i didn't snap to until i read this article was how the lack of small change was affecting the ambulantes (street vendors) and beggars... i rarely toss money their way, not because i don't think they deserve it, but because i have taken a poor family under my wing and most of my spare cash goes to them... but i can sure see how a coin shortage could be adversely impacting those folks... they really have to struggle...

[T]he most immediate daily concern of many portenos, as city residents are known, is how to make sure you have enough change for your bus fare home.

There are simply not enough coins minted and there is a serious shortage.


Staff at an underground station recently allowed passengers in free since they had run out of change.

A spokesman said they ask the Argentine Central Bank for 45 million 10-centavo coins a year, but only get 24 million.

Buses only take coins, with machines eating up a fare of 80 valuable centavos - about 25 US cents. So you collect and hoard those valuable coins.

They may not be worth much in financial terms to many Buenos Aires residents - but they are life or death for the thousands of poor sales people, buskers and beggars who ply for trade on the Buenos Aires public transport system.

It leaves passengers with the constant moral dilemma of whether to give that very good, blind Bolivian guitar player the 50 centavos he so richly deserves to help feed his family - or save it for the bus fare home.

as an interesting sidenote, a good friend of mine in buenos aires knows the bbc correspondent who wrote this story, daniel schweimler...

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Juan Cole: "Whaaat?"

professor cole is so polite... my reaction is


AP says that Secretary of State Condi Rice asserted Saturday that Iraqis only have a future if they stay within a single state. She pointed to Vietnam's success in reforming its economy and making up with the United States and held it out as a model to Iraq.


Rice surely knows that the way in which Vietnam achieved national unity was . . . for the radical forces to drive out the Americans, overthrow pro-American elements, and conquer the whole country. They only went in for this capitalism thing fairly recently. Rice, a Ph.D. and former Provost of Stanford University, shouldn't be saying silly things like that Iraq should emulate Vietnam. I guess if you hang around with W. long enough, you catch whatever it is that he has.

just what IS it that bush has anyway...? if it's infectious, my guess would be that they've been drinking out of the same glass, or, possibly... oh, never mind...

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"Can’t we engage in at least a nonviolent revolt against this servitude?"

wow... wow... wow... and wow... susang offers this book review over at daily kos...
Bloodthirsty Bitches and Pious Pimps of Power
The Rise and Risk of the New Conservative Hate Culture
By Gerry Spence
St. Martin’s Press
New York, 2006
256 Pages
Generalized hate often has a narrow base. It’s easy to hate gays if one can’t find a job that pays more than the minimum starvation wage. It’s easy to jump on the patriotic band wagon to blow the hell out of half the innocent people in Iraq if one has, in effect, been blown to some sort of economic hell and is equally innocent. When people feel hurt they hurt back.
I am talking in a general way about what our corporate-industrial state does to people, without them realizing that the culture itself creates stress, disappointment, and a pesky anxiety that keeps the pharmaceutical stocks popping.
A vague sense of overall worthlessness prevails, and it makes us angry. We get used to it, like one gets used to a pervasive bad smell.
The problem is simple. We no longer own our own minds. They already belong to the corporate-government oligarchy. We have been thoroughly propagandized. We do not know our frontal lobes have been so tinctured with propaganda that we – all of us – will vehemently deny to our last breath that we have lost our ability of independent thought.
We have been taught to hate the forgotten and abandoned members of our society, our mentally ill, whom we’ve thrown out onto the streets. There are laws against throwing empty bottles on the streets, but none to keep us from throwing the lost and helpless there.

and, if that doesn't grab you, try this...
There’s no end to my wants because my worth is expressed in the things I have. If I have nothing or little, or at least not as much as Joe Average Hard-Working American, I do not amount to much. We live in a society of things, and I want everything. Everything! .... I call it Thingism. Relentlessly we’re subjected to a propaganda of things called, euphemistically, “advertising.” Out there lies that awful malaise, people who feel numb and dead. To many, life has become a sort of walking death.
Can’t we put an end to this endless madness? Can’t we engage in at least a nonviolent revolt against this servitude? But if one is consumed in consumption, in paying off debt, in devoting one’s life to the acquisition and payment of things, then there is no time or energy left to rebel, to consider, to think; to contemplate intelligently about one’s condition, much less the condition of the community, the country, or the world. Thingism leads us to apathy.

every once in a while, someone comes along who gives clear voice to my own thoughts... i can't wait to read it...

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Do you feel a draft...?

i definitely feel a draft...
"There's no question in my mind that this president and this administration would never have invaded Iraq, especially on the flimsy evidence that was presented to the Congress, if indeed we had a draft and members of Congress and the administration thought that their kids from their communities would be placed in harm's way," said Rep. Charles Rangel, a New York Democrat.

Rangel, a veteran of the Korean War who has unsuccessfully sponsored legislation on conscription in the past, said he will propose the measure early next year.

At a time when some lawmakers are urging the military to send more troops to Iraq, "I don't see how anyone can support the war and not support the draft," he said.

while i am an ardent opponent of my country's militaristic mindset and our pattern of aggressive, interventionist, and often murderous behavior on the world stage, i do happen to believe that we all should be required to contribute at least a small portion of our lives to the common good... i totally support mandatory national service if, and only if, it is not limited to just military service... and, for that matter, it does not have to be limited to just national service... both genders working together to make the united states and the world a better place...? i could get behind that...

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Henry Kissinger unbloviates a previous bloviation with more bloviation

the fact that dr. strangelove still carries sufficient weight in domestic and international circles to warrant a bbc interview, serve as an advisor to bush on the iraq war, or spew his twisted counsel to his many still-worshipful admirers, is a sad commentary on the media and world citizenry in general...

along with mcnamara and nixon, kissinger should have been tried for war crimes a long time ago... instead, there's now a pantheon of his clones, the likes of cheney, rumsfeld, wolfowitz, feith, perle, adelman, kristol, and, yes, hillary, joe biden, and all the other wise, war-mongering sages, who have joined him in the ranks of infamy...

as noam chomsky has said in different words, giving deference to this man's opinion is abdicating our own ability to think about and render opinions on serious issues... i think kissinger was born genetically incapable of speaking either plainly or honestly about anything...

If you mean by 'military victory' an Iraqi government that can be established and whose writ runs across the whole country, that gets the civil war under control and sectarian violence under control in a time period that the political processes of the democracies will support, I don't believe that is possible.

note to george: have you considered that you might just be missing the last lifeboat to leave your sinking ship of fools...?

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Because McCain's a "Federalist," does that mean he's also an ***hole...?

i commented yesterday on another weblog that i believe mccain is slowly but surely marginalizing himself, and will soon cease to be a potent factor in today's important issues, much less a viable 2008 presidential candidate...

mccain is working hard to position himself as the heir apparent to the fundamentalist christian base, but he's discounting two important things... a big one is that the leaders of that base are being exposed as power and money-hungry hypocrites, willing to sell their flocks to the highest bidder, and the flocks are no longer going to follow these so-called "shepherds" quite so willingly... the second thing, also big, is that the individual members of the churches and religious groups are awakening to the fact that the republicans have shamelessly used and manipulated them to further a decidedly un-christian agenda...

STEPHANOPOULOS: Let me ask one question about abortion. Then I want to turn to Iraq. You’re for a constitutional amendment banning abortion, with some exceptions for life and rape and incest.

MCCAIN: Rape, incest and the life of the mother. Yes.

STEPHANOPOULOS: So is President Bush, yet that hasn’t advanced in the six years he’s been in office. What are you going to do to advance a constitutional amendment that President Bush hasn’t done?

MCCAIN: I don’t think a constitutional amendment is probably going to take place, but I do believe that it’s very likely or possible that the Supreme Court should — could overturn Roe v. Wade, which would then return these decisions to the states, which I support.

STEPHANOPOULOS: And you’d be for that?

MCCAIN: Yes, because I’m a federalist. Just as I believe that the issue of gay marriage should be decided by the states, so do I believe that we would be better off by having Roe v. Wade return to the states. And I don’t believe the Supreme Court should be legislating in the way that they did on Roe v. Wade.

you go right ahead, john, and keep sucking up to that base... just don't be surprised to find that it's built on sand...

(thanks to think progress...)

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Did the REAL Israeli agenda just step out of the closet...?

well, well, well... lookie what we have here...
Speaking to Israel Radio, [Israeli deputy Prime Minister Avigdor] Lieberman said he believes the Palestinians are not interested in setting up their own state, but rather in destroying Israel. He said Israel must abandon past interim peace deals, known as the Oslo accords, and the road map.

"A continuation of Oslo, of the road map ... will lead us to another round of conflict, a much more bloody round, and in the end to an even deeper deadlock, and it threatens our future," he said.

He dismissed Abbas, elected president in 2005, as an ineffective leader who should be ignored, and said Israel must get tougher with the Hamas and Islamic Jihad militant groups, particularly their leaders.

"They ... have to disappear, to go to paradise, all of them, and there can’t be any compromise," he said.

ahem... < cough, cough > well... that certainly seems to be clear enough... but where the HELL did THIS guy come from...?
Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert brought Lieberman into the government last month to shore up a shaky coalition government weakened by the summer war in Lebanon.

ok, makes sense - i think... at least it did to ehud at the time...
Olmert has tried distance himself from Lieberman, saying he remains committed to the US-backed ‘‘road map’’ peace plan, which envisions an independent Palestinian state alongside Israel.

oopsie, oopsie, ehud... he was supposed to keep his mouth shut, and, now look... he's gone and spilled the beans...

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Kenneth Adelman, war pimp, and the myth of incompetence

kenny's not a happy camper...
The failure to find weapons of mass destruction disturbed him. He said he was disgusted by the failure to stop the looting that followed Hussein's fall and by Rumsfeld's casual dismissal of it with the phrase "stuff happens." The breaking point, he said, was Bush's decision to award Medals of Freedom to occupation chief L. Paul Bremer, Gen. Tommy R. Franks and then-CIA Director George J. Tenet.

i keep wondering why we don't hear any discussion about the possibility that bushco screws things up on purpose... if you carefully analyze what they are REALLY trying to accomplish - endless war, global chaos, boosting terrorism, one-party rule, social control through fear and religious extremism, channeling vast sums of money into the pockets of the already super-rich, all aided and abetted by a virtually totalitarian chief executive - they've been damn successful...

the reason folks like adelman are pissed off is the same reason the christian fundamentalists are pissed off... both have been co-opted and used to advance one of the darkest agendas of modern history and they're now starting to wake up to it...

(thanks to morse at media needle...)

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If the bastards had done their job, we wouldn't NEED "reform"

getting really pissed off first thing on a sunday morning isn't a good thing...
Reform on Detentions

Democrats will now have the chance to curtail the Bush administration's human rights abuses.

EARLIER THIS fall congressional Democrats made only a token effort to stop passage of deeply flawed Bush administration legislation on the detention, interrogation and trial of "enemy combatants" in the war on terrorism. First they hid behind a group of Republican moderates who tried to modify the law's worst aspects; when that resulted in a bad compromise, they gave up serious opposition rather than risk being accused of being weak on terrorism in the run-up to an election. Having won that election, the Democrats now have a second chance to temper the administration's excesses and to insist on accountability for past crimes. It ought to be at the top of their agenda.

yeah, ok, they get a second chance... and if they had not won the elections and regained both houses of congress...? and what if their efforts at "reforming" possibly the most disgraceful act of congress in the history of the united states fail...? every single member of congress, republican or democrat, who voted for the military commissions act is complicit in undermining the united states constitution, and, worse than that, party to any and every violation of human rights and act of torture committed under its umbrella... the horse got out of the barn, and now these craven s.o.b.'s want to coax it back in... yeah, it's better than letting the act stand, but i am disgusted nevertheless...

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