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And, yes, I DO take it personally: 03/30/2008 - 04/06/2008
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And, yes, I DO take it personally

Saturday, April 05, 2008

McCain is the "endless war" candidate

from robert greenwald and brave new films via brasscheck tv...

The Third Reich's man
in the White House

What can you say to insanity like this?

McCain is already predicting new wars when there are no legitimate ones on the horizon.

He says he's prepared to stay in Iraq 100 years - and once raised it to 10,000 years.

Then again, we've been in Germany for over 60 years. Or has Nazi Germany been in us?

Personally, I no longer see a moral difference between the Third Reich and the current government of the United States of America.

what do you say to insanity like this...? the answer is simple... no... not only no, but HELL NO...!

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NATO, led by Germany, may be trying to get out of Afghanistan

nothing to be found on this, naturally, in the u.s. media... it doesn't appear to be imminent but it looks like it's definitely under discussion...

from spiegel online...

So far, little has remained behind closed doors at the NATO summit in Bucharest. Almost every cough from every negotiating session has found its way into the press. But there is one paper that has remained largely in the shadows. NATO diplomats have been working on a far-reaching strategy paper for the ongoing mission in Afghanistan.

The secrecy, some say, is necessary as the dossier contains details that could compromise the safety of NATO troops in Afghanistan. Others have been a bit more direct, saying that the paper is simply too controversial to be made public.

According to diplomats, there are indeed some interesting details to be found. The paper illustrates a new train of thought developing within NATO: For the first time, a step-by-step outline has been sketched -- with substantial help from Germany -- for when the 47,000 NATO troops currently in Afghanistan might be pulled out. According to diplomats, concrete benchmarks are laid out -- though any withdrawl, they make clear, would not be immediate.

It is no accident that Germany has played a big part in the drafting of the paper. It has long been clear in Berlin that Germany's involvement in the mission has a limited shelf-life given widespread opposition among the German populace and growing doubts in parliament. Were there something of a "master plan" for the operation, politicians in the chancellery and defense ministry would be able to offer the prospect of German troops returning from Afghanistan. Benchmarks for what must be achieved before that happens could also be clearly defined.

every german casualty in afghanistan is heavily covered in the german media and german citizens, understandably, are pressuring the government to pull out...

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Keith Olbermann talks with Johnathan Turley about torture and John Yoo

turley makes the case that bush ordered war crimes...

watch it...

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Saturday photoblogging - snow on the Hindu Kush

it started raining steadily on thursday afternoon here in kabul and rained all day yesterday right into the evening... i was watching the temperature and it was hanging in the mid to low 40s but i suspected it was cold enough in the higher elevations to snow... sure enough, this morning i looked out and the snow on the hindu kush mountains had definitely increased and the snow level had dropped down to just above the city... a smaller peak to the south that had been snow-free on thursday morning now has a dusting of snow... it's really quite beautiful...

Map showing Hindu Kush Mountains
(click on image for larger version)

Hindu Kush Mountains, looking northwest
from Kabul, 05:55, 5 April 2008

Small peak looking south from Kabul,
05:55, 5 April 2008

(on the photo above, note the concertina barbed wire on top of the fence of the house next door...)
* The name Hindu Kush is usually applied to the whole of the range separating the basins of the Kabul, and Helmand rivers from that of the Amu Darya (or ancient Oxus), or more specifically, to that part of the range to the northwest of Kabul.


Sanskrit documents refer to the Hindukush as Pāriyatra Parvat . The name is a corruption of Hindu-Kusha, where "kusha" in Sanskrit means "seat." Hence it translates to 'The Seat of the Hindus'.

p.s. without thinking, i originally titled this post "Monday photoblogging" and had to go back to correct it to saturday... friday is the one day weekend here and i still haven't adapted... to me, today is monday... ah, well...

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Friday, April 04, 2008

80,000 jobs went bye-bye in the month of March

Employers worried about recession slashed 80,000 jobs in March, the most in five years and the third consecutive month of losses.

unemployment is zooming up there too...
At the same time, the national unemployment rate rose to 5.1 percent from 4.8 percent, the clearest signal yet that the economy might already be contracting. The new snapshot of the job market, released by the Labor Department on Friday, underscored the damage that a trio of crises — in the housing, credit and financial sectors — has inflicted on companies, jobseekers and the economy as a whole.

The unemployment rate was the highest since September 2005, when significant job losses after the devastating blows of Gulf Coast hurricanes.

sinking fast...

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I've never supported HRC but this is the kind of stuff that really bothers me about Obama

a chunk of this video clip is of allan nairn talking with amy goodman at democracy now about the loathsome types serving as advisors to both hrc and obama... the rest of it is mike gravel absolutely laying it on the line...

war is money and money is power and nobody gets in to the white house without supporting those who have both and want more...

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The revelations about our criminal government just continue to pile up

ya know, it's not that we need any more proof that our government has been engaged in illegal behavior for quite some time, but i guess i'm glad to see it finally coming out into the open...
The Justice Department concluded in October 2001 that military operations combating terrorism inside the United States are not limited by Fourth Amendment protections against unreasonable searches and seizures, in one of several secret memos containing new and controversial assertions of presidential power.

The memo, sent on Oct. 23, 2001, to the Defense Department and the White House by the Office of Legal Counsel, focused on the rules governing any deployment of U.S. forces inside the country "in the event of further large-scale terrorist activities" by al-Qaeda, a Justice Department official said yesterday.

Administration officials declined to detail what domestic military operations were being contemplated at the time, and the legal status of the secret memo is now unclear. Although the memo has not been formally withdrawn, the Justice Department yesterday repudiated the idea that there are no constitutional limits to military searches and seizures in a time of war, saying it depends on "the particular context and circumstances of the search," according to a statement.

interestingly enough, i'm going to be interviewed by an individual working for the center for public integrity who's investigating warrantless searches and seizures at u.s. customs entry points... he read my blog post from some time back about how my laptop, camera, memory cards, and flash drives were taken from me at u.s. customs in san francisco as i was returning from macedonia... i think i might try to get him as a guest on the And, yes, I DO take it personally radio show on blogtalk radio... if i do, i'll put up a post announcing it...

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It's a damn shame that Macedonia is getting flipped off by the Greeks

A map of the natural features of Macedonia

after spending over a year in macedonia during the course of three years and six different visits, i've gotten to know the country reasonably well and made some fast friends... it's a beautiful country with scenery and mountains to rival anywhere else in the world... the country continues to struggle with a lot of things for many reasons, current and historical, that i won't go into here, but the macedonians are intelligent, plucky folks and, like so many others in countries across the world, are getting the short end of the globalization stick...

The Shar Planina Mountains looking
northwest from Skopje, Macedonia

while in macedonia, i was able to visit greece a few times, driving down to thessaloniki and the halkidiki peninsula... it's a delightful, beautiful area, from the ouzeris of thessaloniki to the little villages and gorgeous quiet beaches of sithonia... i found the greeks to be pleasant folks and i loved their food and the whole atmosphere that surrounds getting together and sharing good company over meals, wine, and, of course, ouzo...

Sunset over the Aegean Sea
Neos Marmaros, Sithonia,
Halkidiki Peninsula, Greece

Google Earth view of the Halkidiki Peninsula, Greece
Upper left, Thessaloniki
Center bottom to center right, the "three fingers" of
the peninsula, Kassandra, Sithonia and Athos
Bottom center right, Neos Marmaros

i simply fail to understand why the greeks have so much antipathy for the macedonians... yeah, i know that there's a lot of folks in that area of the world who are still pissed off over being ruled by the turks during the 500 years of the ottoman empire, but, ferchrissake, GET OVER IT...!

for greece to have vetoed macedonia's entry to nato over macedonia's quite rightful choice of its name as the "republic of macedonia" is just plain mean-spirited... what a bunch of weenies...

A disappointed Macedonia warned Thursday that its failure to join NATO could lead to instability in the region. While Ukraine and Georgia were also rejected, the two countries welcomed the pledge that they would one day be part of the alliance.

A dejected Macedonian delegation walked out of the NATO summit in Bucharest (more...) after Greece succeeded in vetoing Macedonia's membership bid on Thursday. Before heading home, Macedonian President Branko Crvenkovski said: "I want to send a message to Greece. We will survive and the Macedonian people will overcome this misfortune."

Macedonian Foreign Minister Antonio Milososki told reporters that 90 percent of his people supported membership and that he and his offiicals needed to show their solidarity with their people. "Macedonia's delegation will leave the summit because they see it as necessary to being together with our people today. This is a difficult time for a small nation."

The Greek intransigence had stemmed from its opposition to the former Yugoslav republic's name, which it shares with the northern Greek province of Macedonia. In the run-up to the summit, negotiators had attempted to find a compromise solution (more...) that would suit both sides, but time ran out and Macedonia's ambitions to join the NATO alliance were thwarted.

i got an email from a friend in skopje yesterday... we regularly chat online and she's been keeping me apprised of the goings-on... needless to say, she was disappointed about nato but, more than that, just pissed off with those obnoxious greeks...

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Thursday, April 03, 2008

Everything you need to know about Hillary Clinton's campaign strategy

(thanks to john cole via markos...)

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"Kill everyone who refuses to be made into a slave!"

i hate reading these articulate summaries of reality, not because i hate to face reality, but because i hate to be reminded of just exactly what is taking place in my country...

i just came from a meeting at the kabul version of baghdad's "green zone," where u.s. embassy and usaid staff all hunker down in a highly fortified compound inside their well-appointed, u.s.-style offices (albeit in trailers and temporary buildings, a big contrast with the obscene palace that we built in iraq), ensconced in their bureaucratic bubble, comfortable in the thought that the u.s. is THE world power to be reckoned with... all hail the united states of america...!

yet, sadly, this is the sad truth about the current reality in my country...

If the people can be aroused to perform their patriotic duty to restrain their government from destroying the world, before it crosses the nuclear threshold, then peaceful change is still possible. The lunatic-in-chief and his supporters in both the political parties are prepared to use nuclear weapons against vast civilian populations, if We the People are unwilling to stop them. This new phase in the war that is allegedly being fought in America's defense will represent the final transmutation of that war into a totally new war, fought to prevent alleged nuclear weapons construction, by unleashing actual nuclear destruction. Strangelove's "wet dream," a nuclear free fire zone.

The disaster unfolding in Washington is like nothing the earth has ever seen. The highest form of government ever produced by man is putting the final stages of planning on freedom's demise, and yet the freest people in the history of the world believe that they are powerless to change anything, as they watch excitedly from the sidelines, screaming patriotic hymns to Clinton and McCain. The planners and their stooges ultimately believe in their own ability to carry forward the grand "success" stories of Iraq and Afghanistan into the rest of the Muslim world. The illusion that they can destroy select areas of the rest of the world without destroying us, helps to calm the delirious worry-free psyches of an immoral society, ready to kill the world to save their own sorry asses.

The war on terrorism uses our beliefs against us. It has been exposed as a holy war between Christianity and Islam, at least that is evidently what the Jewish neocon authors of the war want it to be. It is only a matter of time before it becomes obvious to everyone that the war of the new world order is a war against all religion. Religious belief and basic human morality must be allowed to serve as the basis for the fight against this war, because it is a war on life itself. The inherent evil of the whole operation must become the rallying point for the people to oppose the war. It is nothing less than an egotistical human attempt to overthrow the moral basis of international law, replacing it with the inhumane law of parasitic capitalist Darwinism. Kill everyone who refuses to be made into a slave!

don't get me wrong... a lot of the people in that well-guarded compound in kabul, a mile or so from where i'm sitting typing this, are good, decent people, doing what they think is right, much as i am doing... for, after all, am i not implicitly enabling the imperialistic aims of my country by being here...? i won't try to rationalize my way out of that, but i do think i am offering a degree of white light where perhaps it hasn't shown brightly before... and, then again, maybe i'm only deluding myself like so many of my fellow citizens...

p.s. sitting not 15 feet from me is one of my afghan islamic counterparts, a highly intelligent, eager-to-learn young man with whom i have struck up a friendship... he's very much interested in leadership and management and i'm giving him informal tutorials once or twice a week that he's positively eating up... he's getting the opportunity to pick my brain and i'm getting the opportunity to see and learn about afghanistan through his eyes... now THAT'S a win-win...

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Argentina and the Falklands - paging Margaret Thatcher

c'mon, cristina... don't start a distraction here... you've got enough to deal with without stirring up a hornets' nest...
Argentina's claim to the Falkland Islands, which remain in British hands after the 1982 war between the two countries, is "inalienable," President Cristina Kirchner said Wednesday.

"The sovereign claim to the Malvinas Islands is inalienable," she said in a speech marking the 26th anniversary of Argentina's ill-fated invasion of the islands, located 480 kilometers (300 miles) off shore.

The April 2, 1982 invasion prompted then British prime minister Margaret Thatcher to deploy naval forces to retake the Falklands, known as the Malvinas in Spanish.

The short, bloody conflict led to Argentina's surrender on June 14, 1982 after the death of 649 Argentines and 255 Britons.

oh c'mon... this is just gratuitous rabble-rousing... the smarter argentines know full well that it was unbelievably stupid to have started the conflict in the first damn place... yeah, sure, they think the falklands malvinas belongs to them but they also don't want to make another stupid move like provoking the uk into another senseless war...

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Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Why would we be surprised that our military would be involved in domestic surveillance...?

yes, it's chilling, but i've made the assumption for quite some time that everything we do that involves an electronic network that isn't under our absolute individual control is either accessible or actively being scrutinized by any and all agencies of our government... that the defense department has adopted the same tactics as the fbi - the use of national security letters (nsl's) - to dig even deeper, should be no surprise to anybody... it's just a further indication of what i've thought right along, that we are only seeing the tip of the iceberg, and that there's still a massive bulk of shocking revelations lurking below the surface...
The military is using the FBI to skirt legal restrictions on domestic surveillance to obtain private records of Americans' Internet service providers, financial institutions and telephone companies, according to Pentagon documents.

The American Civil Liberties Union expressed outrage at the new revelations, based its conclusion on a review of more than 1,000 documents turned over by the Defense Department after it sued the agency last year for documents related to national security letters, or NSLs, investigative tools used to compel businesses to turn over customer information without a judge's order or grand jury subpoena.

"Newly unredacted documents released today reveal that the Department of Defense is using the FBI to circumvent legal limits on its own NSL power," said the ACLU, whose lawsuit was filed in Manhattan federal court.

ACLU lawyer Melissa Goodman said the documents the civil rights group studied "make us incredibly concerned." She said it would be understandable if the military relied on help from the FBI on joint investigations, but not when the FBI was not involved in a probe.

shocking... just shocking... NOT...! stay tuned... there's a LOT more to come...

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Deciding who is subject to the rule of law and who isn't - another reason Bush should be impeached

yes, this is just another chapter in the long, long story of an out-of-control president and presidential administration, but no matter how many times i'm exposed to it or how it starts to become "just another chapter," i still have to restrain the urge to vomit...

btw, for those of you who might be inclined to feel a tad optimistic over the news that bush may be open to compromise on the fisa bill (see previous post), reading this ought to snap you back to reality...

The Justice Department sent a legal memorandum to the Pentagon in 2003 asserting that federal laws prohibiting assault, maiming and other crimes did not apply to military interrogators who questioned al-Qaeda captives because the president's ultimate authority as commander in chief overrode such statutes.


Sent to the Pentagon's general counsel on March 14, 2003, by John C. Yoo, then a deputy in the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel, the memo provides an expansive argument for nearly unfettered presidential power in a time of war. It contends that numerous laws and treaties forbidding torture or cruel treatment should not apply to U.S. interrogations in foreign lands because of the president's inherent wartime powers.

"If a government defendant were to harm an enemy combatant during an interrogation in a manner that might arguably violate a criminal prohibition, he would be doing so in order to prevent further attacks on the United States by the al Qaeda terrorist network," Yoo wrote. "In that case, we believe that he could argue that the executive branch's constitutional authority to protect the nation from attack justified his actions."

Interrogators who harmed a prisoner would be protected by a "national and international version of the right to self-defense," Yoo wrote. He also articulated a definition of illegal conduct in interrogations -- that it must "shock the conscience" -- that the Bush administration advocated for years.

"Whether conduct is conscience-shocking turns in part on whether it is without any justification," Yoo wrote, explaining, for example, that it would have to be inspired by malice or sadism before it could be prosecuted.

this cannot be the policy of the country of which i am a citizen nor can it be the policy of any country of which i would choose to be a citizen...

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Do NOT - I repeat - DO NOT believe a single word that comes out of the White House

how many times have we read news stories about bush "backing down," "softening up," taking a "conciliatory stance," "signaling a willingness to 'cooperate'"...? huh...?? how many times...? and how many times was it nothing but a goddam smoke screen*, a deliberate red herring* to make everybody let down their guard...? huh...?? how many times...?

(* apologies for the mixed metaphors...)

from raw story...

After months of using politically loaded rhetoric and hyping "bogus" terror threats to push Congress to give him the domestic spying bill he's demanding, President Bush seems to be backing down.

The Wall Street Journal reports Tuesday that the White House is softening its hard-line approach to updating the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. The steps toward moderation and compromise come as House Democrats proved last month that they have enough votes to pass a FISA bill that includes more oversight of surveillance efforts within the US than Bush would like and also to block the immunity he has demanded for telecommunications companies that facilitated his warrantless wiretapping program.

the last time i posted a run-down on the bush administration's insatiable need for power and its absolute unwillingness to compromise on ANYTHING was back in mid-december... i think it's time to trot it out again...

take your time... read it carefully... NOTHING has changed... i repeat... ABSOLUTELY NOTHING HAS CHANGED...

harry on george (december 2007)...

[Senator Harry Reid] said that in 40 years of public service he had not had a tougher relationship.

“He is impossible to work with,” the senator said. “There are times I say: ‘Is there something more I can do? Have I done something wrong?’ But even his own people tell me he won’t compromise.”

nancy on george (december 2007)...
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi , D-Calif., admitted Thursday that she had underestimated the willingness of Republicans to stand behind President Bush’s Iraq policy despite the drubbing the GOP took in the polls in 2006.

"The assumption I made was that the Republicans would soon see the light," she said. Instead, the minority stuck to the president’s war policy in the face of unrelenting pressure from congressional Democrats and powerful lobbying campaigns by anti-war groups.

kagro x on george (february 2006)...
So, is warrantless surveillance illegal or not? Well, not if you believe that the president has "inherent powers as commander-in-chief." That would answer the entire question.

"But there are no unwritten 'inherent powers,' or at least none that would simply justify warrantless surveillance on the president's say-so," you may object.

"Says you," answers Alberto Gonzales.

And you think he's nuts for saying so. But the problem is that you're still working under the old (albeit commonly understood) constitutional order, whereas Gonzales is proposing a new one. One under which there are such "inherent powers."

And that's when it hits you: If five Supreme Court Justices side with Gonzales, everything you knew (or thought you knew) about the Constitution is wrong. By which I mean, it now is wrong. It wasn't wrong yesterday, but now it is.

jack balkin on george (july 2006)...
What the press and the public must understand is that this Administration does not play by the rules. It does not take a hint. Instead it will continue to obfuscate and prevaricate, as it has so often in the past on issues ranging from detention to prisoner mistreatment. This Administration will not conform its actions to the Rule of Law unless it finds doing so politically infeasible. As a result, the Congress, the courts, the press and the public will have to object-- repeatedly and strenuously-- if they want the Executive to abide by its constitutional obligation to take care that the laws be faithfully executed.

time magazine on george (october 2006)...
In fact, when it comes to deploying its Executive power, which is dear to Bush's understanding of the presidency, the President's team has been planning for what one strategist describes as "a cataclysmic fight to the death" over the balance between Congress and the White House if confronted with congressional subpoenas it deems inappropriate. The strategist says the Bush team is "going to assert that power, and they're going to fight it all the way to the Supreme Court on every issue, every time, no compromise, no discussion, no negotiation."

sidney blumenthal on george (november 2007)...
[T]he Bush doctrine: The president as commander in chief can do whatever he wants regardless of Congress. There must be no checks and balances, no accountability. There must be no disclosure to other branches of government, whether legislative or judicial. Oral findings, or, if necessary, secret memos, make the illegal legal merely by saying they are legal in the name of presidential authority. The operational need to know determines who knows.

sheldon whitehouse on george (december 2007)...
“To give you an example of what I read,” Whitehouse said on the Senate floor, “I have gotten three legal propositions from these secret OLC opinions declassified. Here they are, as accurately as my note-taking could reproduce them from the classified documents”:

1. An executive order cannot limit a President. There is no constitutional requirement for a President to issue a new executive order whenever he wishes to depart from the terms of a previous executive order. Rather than violate an executive order, the President has instead modified or waived it.

2. The President, exercising his constitutional authority under Article II, can determine whether an action is a lawful exercise of the President’s authority under Article II.

3. The Department of Justice is bound by the President’s legal determinations.

slowly, now... repeat after me...

N O T H I N G..H A S..C H A N G E D . . . !

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Tuesday, April 01, 2008

A glimpse of the Kabul I see outside my window

and the kabul i see out the window of the armored vehicle that takes me to and from meetings...

from al jazeera english, filmed just yesterday...

what's particularly interesting to me is that the economics professor from kabul university that's interviewed on the clip is an individual i am working with... he's an afghan exile that returned here from new york after the fall of the taliban and, imho, is pretty well full of himself...

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Q1 UBS loss at $12B - the global financial meltdown chugs merrily along

actually, "chugs merrily along" is an understatement... it's really on an accelerating downhill luge run...
Swiss bank UBS AG says it expects to post first quarter net losses of $12 billion and to seek $15 billion in new capital.

Switzerland's largest bank also said in a statement Tuesday that it sees losses and writedowns of approximately $19 billion on U.S. real estate and related credit positions. Its chairman Marcel Ospel will step down, to be succeeded by Peter Kurer.

aw, c'mon... fercryinoutloud, let's stop this slo-mo collapse... let's speed it up and get it the hell over with, and let the chips fall where they may... "where they may" will undoubtedly include the fall of a number of criminal governments, and that of the united states is at the top of the list...

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You get the union you deserve - United Airlines mechanics select the Teamsters

i make no secret of my intense dislike of united airlines, specifically the predatory, disgusting creatures that pass for united's senior management... during my 7+ years there, one of the most intensely frustrating experiences (although, perhaps not ironically, also one the most intense learning experiences) of my professional life, i was repeatedly and regularly aghast at the inhumanity and outright vile behavior of those who "lead" that company... their antipathy toward the front-line employees, those who do the real work of every organization, knows no bounds...

united senior management, meet the teamsters... teamsters, meet united senior management...

The Teamsters union, sharply critical of management at United Airlines, won an election on Monday to represent the carrier's mechanics, the airline and union said.

The Teamsters gained majority support to unseat the Aircraft Mechanics Fraternal Association (AMFA), according to a tally of the ballots cast by 6,500 active and furloughed mechanics.

AMFA had represented the United mechanics since 2003 and is expected to step aside once the election results are certified by the National Mediation Board.

"United mechanics will have the Teamsters strength behind them in their fight against outsourcing to foreign repair stations," Teamsters President Jim Hoffa said.

During their two-year campaign to win over membership, the Teamsters union said it would fight maintenance outsourcing and company plans to sell its maintenance base in San Francisco.

i hope the teamsters give united's senior management the ass-kicking they so richly deserve...

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Argentina's president wants to keep citizens fed but she's between a rock and a hard place

what's happening in argentina is a microcosm of the crisis that's threatening food supplies, particularly for the most vulnerable, throughout the world...

the push to biofuels has caused, in argentina as in many other places, a massive rush to clear uncultivated land (driving through the argentine pampa, there are massive fires every few kilometers where cleared natural vegetation is being burned) for soy production, and an equally massive shift to producing soy in lieu of other food crops... a lot of the big players (most notably cargill, the biggest privately-held company in the world that most people have never heard of) are adding vast chunks of land to their already vast holdings, leaving global agricultural production in ever fewer hands... cargill already owns most of its own world-wide distribution network - ports, storage facilities, ships, barges, railroad cars - and that vertical integration, from seed to soil to harvest to shipment to mill, insures a virtual monopolistic control...

the consequences of this is that world food and agricultural commodity prices are soaring world-wide, and national leaders, like cristina fernandez de kirchner, are acutely aware that their citizens, particularly the poor, are at great risk of not being able to afford to eat... thus the export tax increases on soy and similar taxes on rice that have recently been levied in countries such as thailand and vietnam, and on wheat, corn, rice, and soybeans in china in an effort to keep food in the country instead of being exported...

argentina is an agricultural powerhouse, but its farmers, like the rest of its citizens, are fed up with government interference and have been for some time, and their traditional show of frustration is a strike, usually in the form of blockading roads and interfering with the flow of commerce... that's precisely what we've been seeing in the past few weeks after cristina announced the increase in agricultural export taxes...

Almost three weeks of roadblocks by farmers have caused food shortages, paralyzed grain exports from agricultural powerhouse Argentina and turned into a major political conflict for President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner.

The center-left government said it would give small farmers a rebate on new, higher taxes for soy and sunflower seed exports, as well as other benefits such as compensation for transportation costs for small farmers far from markets.


But farm leaders said in a news conference they would continue protests that have blocked highways and held back farm goods since March 13, making beef, dairy, chicken and produce scarce in the capital.

here's cristina's dilemma...
The president said on Monday it was important for Argentina to make sure soy did not crowd out other crops that are important for the domestic market.

She said the higher taxes on soy exports would help control inflation on food items in Argentina and added that unbridled soy production could deplete soil quality and has caused deforestation.

imho, she's trying to do the right thing in an impossible no-win situation...

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Monday, March 31, 2008

Another high level, totally corrupt Bush administration official resigns

another loser calls it quits...
Housing and Urban Development Secretary Alphonso Jackson is expected to announce his resignation Monday, according to people familiar with the matter, a decision that will deal a blow to the Bush administration's efforts to tackle the housing and mortgage mess.

The exact reasons for Mr. Jackson's decision couldn't be learned. The secretary has been beset recently by allegations of cronyism and favoritism.

ferchrissake, why doesn't GEORGE resign and just make it one hell of a lot easier on everybody...?

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Showing due respect to the President of the United States

as he throws out the first pitch to the washington nationals in their new park yesterday evening...

he's earned those boos, dontcha think...?

(thanks to think progress...)


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"Western-looking" Al Qaeda operatives sneaking into the U.S.? Keeping them fear ovens stoked...

lemme tell ya, reading "news" like this feels just a little bit different when i'm sitting here less than a few hundred miles from the afghan-pakistani border... different HOW, you may ask...? funnier... sadder... more pathetic...
Al Qaeda is training fighters that "look western" and could easily cross U.S. borders without attracting attention, CIA Director Michael Hayden said on Sunday.

The militant Islamist group has turned Pakistan's remote tribal areas along the border with Afghanistan into a safe haven, and is using it to plot further attacks against the United States, Hayden said.

"They are bringing operatives into that region for training -- operatives that wouldn't attract your attention if they were going through the customs line at Dulles (airport outside Washington) with you when you were coming back from overseas," Hayden said during an interview on NBC's television show Meet the Press.

"(They) look western (and) would be able to come into this country without attracting the kinds of attention that others might," Hayden said, without offering further details.

i'm working with a number of afghans on the project i'm consulting for... some of them dress western style and some don't... some come in one way one day and another way the next... if dressing, looking and acting like westerners is the goal, hey, that ain't hard to do, and i doubt very seriously if it suddenly occurred to al qaeda that, "OMG, maybe if we try to look more western, we could pass more easily"...

< D'OH >

you're an idiot, hayden, and the media who print this drivel are just as bad for sucking it up...

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Monday photoblogging - some long-promised photos from Kabul

for some reason, i woke up extra early this morning, so i figured it was a good opportunity to post some of those photos i've been promising...

this was taken from the immigration arrival hall at kabul international airport...

Azerbaijan Airlines, Tupolev 154M

these were taken from the window of my room looking west... yes, that's pollution making the air look brown... unfortunately, it was one of the clear days... most of the time, you can't see those mountains at all... also, note the adobe hovels on the side of 'tv hill"...

Snow-covered mountains due west of Kabul

"TV Hill" southwest of Kabul

my security and survival supplies...

Clockwise, from upper left:
Helmet, armored vest, meal
ready-to-eat, satellite phone

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Sunday, March 30, 2008

Keep Focus, Stop The War

We can't fight on all fronts at once.
The Economy is a runaway train.
Corruption is commonplace.
Religious zealots threaten us with Theocracy.
Racial tensions are being fueled from every direction.
And through it all we are pissing in the only place we can all call home, our planet.
Hmmm, I guess I've grown up a little since leaving the Republican party? It certainly isn't because I became a Democrat. I haven't.
We can't fight all of these battles at the same time. There is one battle we can fight, ending the war.
Why pick the war? After all, a lot of folks are facing the loss of their home or job.
We need to end the war to save our homes, jobs, security, economy and last but most important, our Constitution.
I've been away for a while, so you may be in need of some of my favorite soul food.

Once again from the past, the wisdom of the Founders speaks to us today.
"Of all the enemies to public liberty, war is, perhaps, the most to be dreaded because it comprises and develops the germ of every other. War is the parent of armies; from these proceed debts and taxes. And armies, and debts, and taxes are the known instruments for bringing the many under the domination of the few. In war, too, the discretionary power of the Executive is extended. Its influence in dealing out offices, honors, and emoluments is multiplied; and all the means of seducing the minds, are added to those of subduing the force of the people. The same malignant aspect in republicanism may be traced in the inequality of fortunes, and the opportunities of fraud, growing out of a state of war and in the degeneracy of manners and morals, engendered by both. No nation could preserve its freedom in the midst of continual warfare."
- James Madison, April 20, 1795

Just think, the Three Stooges buying the presidency think the Founders couldn't have foreseen the problems we face today.
Forcing the crooks in DC to end the war will be a major step in getting our Republic back. It hits the Corrupt where it hurts most, their wallets.
And by the way, ending the war is the right thing to do, in case we forgot.

Fighting evil is a moral obligation. Fighting Corruption is a civil obligation. Fighting tyranny is a political obligation. Fighting all three is the war to save Humanity.

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Afghanistan update, part deux

yowie-zowie...! yesterday, it was an armored vest and helmet, today it's a satellite phone and a backpack full of mre's (meals ready-to-eat)...

(and, yeah, i know i said that there would be photos to follow... chill, ok...? i'll get to it -- eventually...)


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Are they going to try to raise Gore from the dead?

Plans for Al Gore to take the Democratic presidential nomination as the saviour of a bitterly divided party are being actively discussed by senior figures and aides to the former vice-president.

The bloody civil war between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama has left many Democrats convinced that neither can deliver a knockout blow to the other and that both have been so damaged that they risk losing November's election to the Republican nominee, John McCain.

Former Vice President Al Gore speaks at a news conference: Senior Democrats mull Al Gore's nomination. Former aides to Al Gore now believe he could emerge as a compromise candidate

Former Gore aides now believe he could emerge as a compromise candidate acceptable to both camps at the party's convention in Denver during the last week of August.

it'll be interesting to see how this evolves... not sure how i feel about al tho'...

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Whatever our government tells us is just words and our media complies by spreading "fake" news

hersh was speaking in saskatchewan...
When the American government says the US is winning in Iraq and is not torturing prisoners, they are just words, [Seymour] Hersh told his audience of journalism students in Regina, Canada. "We are in real trouble [in Iraq]."


Hersh said media outlets spread 'fake' news and suggested his audience resort to translations of local media sources when learning about issues concerning the Middle East.

we have an inborn tendency to want to believe that what someone is telling us is true, particularly if the source has a position of authority or supposed credibility... a mindset of never listening or believing what someone is saying is an unnatural act... our government and our media know this and have used it to their full advantage, and if you don't happen to be someone who has the time or the inclination to dig, dig, dig for the truth, your views will, by default, be shaped by what those ever-present voices are presenting as reality... it shouldn't have to be that way and our founders are turning over in their graves as i type this...

hersh's last comment about turning to local sources in translation is one of the very best arguments for following juan cole...

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