Blog Flux Directory Subscribe in NewsGator Online Subscribe with Bloglines Blog directory
And, yes, I DO take it personally: 05/25/2008 - 06/01/2008
Mandy: Great blog!
Mark: Thanks to all the contributors on this blog. When I want to get information on the events that really matter, I come here.
Penny: I'm glad I found your blog (from a comment on Think Progress), it's comprehensive and very insightful.
Eric: Nice site....I enjoyed it and will be back.
nora kelly: I enjoy your site. Keep it up! I particularly like your insights on Latin America.
Alison: Loquacious as ever with a touch of elegance -- & right on target as usual!
"Everybody's worried about stopping terrorism. Well, there's a really easy way: stop participating in it."
- Noam Chomsky
Send tips and other comments to:

And, yes, I DO take it personally

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Politics continues to pollute military "justice" at Guantánamo

there is absolutely NOTHING in the bush administration that is not tainted by politics and neo-con, fascist ideology...
The chief judge at Guantánamo replaced the military judge in one of the most closely watched war crimes cases on Thursday, creating a new controversy in the military commission system and the potential for new delays.

The decision to replace the judge, Col. Peter E. Brownback III, came without explanation from the chief military judge, Col. Ralph H. Kohlmann. Judge Brownback has been presiding over pretrial proceedings in the prosecution of Omar Ahmed Khadr, a 21-year-old Canadian charged with the killing of an American serviceman in Afghanistan.

Pentagon spokesmen said Judge Brownback, a retired Army judge who was recalled to hear Guantánamo cases in 2004, would return to retirement as a result of “a mutual decision” between the judge and the Army.

But defense lawyers and critics of Guantánamo said there had been no warning of the change and suggested that he had been removed because of a recent ruling that was a rebuke to prosecutors.

During a proceeding on May 8, Judge Brownback expressed irritation that military prosecutors had failed to turn over records of Mr. Khadr’s incarceration to defense lawyers. He threatened to stop pretrial proceedings if the records were not supplied by May 22. They met that deadline.

At the time, Judge Brownback said he had been “badgered and beaten and bruised” by the chief military prosecutor in the case, Maj. Jeffrey D. Groharing, to move the case toward a trial quickly.

Mr. Khadr’s military defense lawyer, Lt. Cmdr. William C. Kuebler, on Friday called the replacement of the judge “very odd.”

"very odd" indeed...

Labels: , , , , , , ,

Submit To Propeller

[Permalink] 0 comments

Argentina: inflation always hits those with the least the hardest


i watched this clip this morning on al jazeera... it gives a reasonably good overview on what's really happening there... as usual, it's those who are the most vulnerable who get nailed the hardest...

Labels: , , , , ,

Submit To Propeller

[Permalink] 0 comments

These Iraqis don't want the U.S. to stay


they don't want maliki and bush to force through the status of forces agreement...

from juan cole...

Thousands of followers of Shiite leader Sayyid Muqtada al-Sadr peacefully protested across southern Iraq on Friday, according to McClatchy. They prayed and then stood silently in solidarity against the security agreement being negotiated by PM Nuri al-Maliki with George W. Bush.

Sadrists Demonstrate in Kufa

Sadrists Demonstrate in Kufa

more from professor cole...
On both the Iraqi and American side, this agreement is being characterized as a mere understanding between two executives. It is not being categorized as a treaty and there is no plan to submit it either to the Iraqi parliament or to the US Congress. It seems that the Bush team hopes it will take on the force of law just by virtue of existing and having been signed by the two leaders.


Al-Hayat reports in Arabic that there is broad Sunni and Shiite uneasiness with the agreement, even inside Iraqi governing circles.

Al-Hayat says that those familiar with the current draft of the agreement says that it speaks of the establishment of 400 US military sites and bases through the country, of legal immunity for American troops and citizens, and an abrogation of any undertakings previously made, to share in the reconstruction of the country.

Another source told al-Hayat that US Ambassador Ryan Crocker is pressing for language permitting permanent US bases, and removal of other language forbidding the US to attack a third country from Iraqi soil. (This source does not sound reliable to me. US officials have repeatedly said they do not want "permanent" bases, and the provision disallowing the use of Iraqi soil as a launching pad for one country to attack another is in the Iraqi constitution.

so, if ambassador crocker is pressing for u.s. bases, listen to senior iraq advisor at the u.s. state department, david satterfield, categorically deny it in this al jazeera interview...

somebody's lyin' through their teeth and, given the past seven-plus years of the bush administration, i'm not inclined to point the finger at al-hayat...

Labels: , , , , , , , , , , ,

Submit To Propeller

[Permalink] 0 comments

Young Hillary Clinton


(many, many thanks to john at americablog...)

Labels: , , , , ,

Submit To Propeller

[Permalink] 0 comments

Friday, May 30, 2008

The 5-year increase in speculative demand for oil is almost equal to the increase in Chinese demand for oil

i posted the other day on the possibility that speculators are purposely driving up oil prices...

here's mike whitney at ich...

“Speculative activity in commodity markets has grown 'enormously' over the past several years," the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee said in a news release. It pointed out that in five years, from 2003 to 2008, investment in the index funds tied to commodities has grown by 20-fold -- to $260 billion from $13 billion.”

And here's a revealing clip from the testimony of Michael W. Masters of Masters Capital Management, LLC, who addressed the issue of “Commodities Speculation” before the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs this week:

“Today, Index Speculators are pouring billions of dollars into the commodities futures markets, speculating that commodity prices will increase. ... In the popular press the explanation given most often for rising oil prices is the increased demand for oil from China. According to the DOE, annual Chinese demand for petroleum has increased over the last five years from 1.88 billion barrels to 2.8 billion barrels, an increase of 920 million barrels.8 Over the same five-year period, Index Speculatorsʼ demand for petroleum futures has increased by 848 million barrels. THE INCREASE IN DEMAND FROM INDEX SPECULATORS IS ALMOST EQUAL TO THE INCREASE IN DEMAND FROM CHINA.

Index Speculators have now stockpiled, via the futures market, the equivalent of 1.1 billion barrels of petroleum, effectively adding eight times as much oil to their own stockpile as the United States has added to the Strategic Petroleum Reserve over the last five years.

Today, in many commodities futures markets, they are the single largest force.15 The huge growth in their demand has gone virtually undetected by classically-trained economists who almost never analyze demand in futures markets.

As money pours into the markets, two things happen concurrently: the markets expand and prices rise. One particularly troubling aspect of Index Speculator demand is that it actually increases the more prices increase. This explains the accelerating rate at which commodity futures prices (and actual commodity prices) are increasing. The CFTC has taken deliberate steps to allow CERTAIN SPECULATORS VIRTUALLY UNLIMITED ACCESS TO THE COMMODITIES FUTURES MARKETS. The CFTC has granted Wall Street banks an exemption from speculative position limits when these banks hedge over-the-counter swaps transactions. This has effectively opened a loophole for unlimited speculation. When Index Speculators enter into commodity index swaps, which 85-90% of them do, they face no speculative position limits. ... The result is a gross distortion in data that effectively hides the full impact of Index Speculation.” (Thanks to Mish's Global Economic Trend Analysis; the one “indispensable” financial blog on the Internet)

ya know, i'm in no position to make any judgments on whether this is actually happening or not, but, i gotta say, do i believe it's POSSIBLE...? damn right...!

Labels: , , , ,

Submit To Propeller

[Permalink] 0 comments

The Bush administration "wasn't aware" of NORAD attack drills involving hijacked airliners prior to 9/11

more maggot-gagging "plausible deniability"... gimme a break...

this is from usa today, not a 9/11 conspiracy site...

In the two years before the Sept. 11 attacks, the North American Aerospace Defense Command conducted exercises simulating what the White House says was unimaginable at the time: hijacked airliners used as weapons to crash into targets and cause mass casualties.

One of the imagined targets was the World Trade Center. In another exercise, jets performed a mock shootdown over the Atlantic Ocean of a jet supposedly laden with chemical poisons headed toward a target in the United States. In a third scenario, the target was the Pentagon — but that drill was not run after Defense officials said it was unrealistic, NORAD and Defense officials say.

NORAD, in a written statement, confirmed that such hijacking exercises occurred. It said the scenarios outlined were regional drills, not regularly scheduled continent-wide exercises.

"Numerous types of civilian and military aircraft were used as mock hijacked aircraft," the statement said. "These exercises tested track detection and identification; scramble and interception; hijack procedures; internal and external agency coordination and operational security and communications security procedures."

A White House spokesman said Sunday that the Bush administration was not aware of the NORAD exercises.

one of these days we'll get the truth and, you can be sure, it won't be pretty...

Labels: , , , , , ,

Submit To Propeller

[Permalink] 0 comments

Flying in and out of Tegucigalpa, Honduras


the first time i landed at tegucigalpa in 1987, i was blown away at the airport's location, the approach, and the short runway... the location is carved from the top of a small hill, the approach is surrounded by higher mountains on all sides, the runway is not only short, but ends abruptly at a drop-off that lies directly above a residential area...

my seat mate was a veteran of numerous landings at the airport and, in response to my question about the airport's accident rate, informed me that it actually was among the safest airports in latin america because only the most skilled pilots would even attempt landing there...

A passenger plane skidded off a runway at Tegucigalpa Airport in Honduras on Friday on landing, veered onto a road and smashed into cars and a building, killing at least three people.

The TACA airlines Airbus, which had 142 people on board, lay broken in three parts and spewing fuel. Two people were still trapped in cars underneath the wreckage, an aviation official said.

The plane, arriving from San Salvador, circled the airport several times before attempting to land in heavy fog, survivor Mario Castillo told Honduran television.

"Suddenly we felt a big noise and we were all trying desperately to get out," he said. "The worst injured were the people in business class."


Tegucigalpa, nestled in hills, is one of the most treacherous airports for landing in Latin America due to its short runway and difficult approach.

ever since that time, i've kept my eyes and ears open for incidents at tegucigalpa and, even though i can't claim exhaustive knowledge, this is the first one i'm aware of...

Labels: , ,

Submit To Propeller

[Permalink] 0 comments

Israel is simply vicious to not allow Gaza students to pursue their Fulbright awards


a fulbright scholarship is one of the best vehicles available for building positive person-to-person relationships between the people of the u.s. and those of other countries, but israel, in its crazed obsession with power, control, and, yes, i will say it, genocide, can't find it in its cold heart to allow gaza students to take advantage of them...
Hadeel Abu Kawik was supposed to spend next year in the United States on the prestigious Fulbright scholarship program, but now it appears she will remain trapped in the Gaza Strip by an Israeli blockade.

Word that the U.S. State Department was canceling her scholarship came after Abu Kawik, 23 and a computer engineering student, went through a lengthy process for the scholarship that included interviews, exams and an English test.

"I was building my hope on this scholarship," she said Friday.

Seven other Gaza students also lost their grants. The decision was made because they would not be able to get exit visas from Israel, according to State Department spokesman Tom Casey.

this is outrageous...

here's what a young afghan i am helping apply to a u.s. mba program had to say about his fulbright experience... read it and then tell me why israel's action is defensible...

In the middle of my academic career at Kabul University in 2005, I earned a Fulbright scholarship for my academic excellence, English proficiency and leadership talent. Under the Fulbright program, I traveled to the U.S. and began to study intensive English at University of California in Davis. After one quarter term of English studies, I enrolled in a college in New York where I successfully completed my allocated one year towards a BA in economics.

The U.S. experience was enriching and eye opening. I not only improved my English skills, but benefited from the rigorous academic standards. It was also an excellent opportunity to socialize and learn in non-academic environments. Through our friendly chats over dinner or lunch or outside in a café, I made many friends from various backgrounds. I was an ambassador for my country and culture, and helped my new friends to learn the realities of life in Afghanistan and to overcome the many misconceptions they had about my country, religion and culture. In return, I also learned significantly about western values, norms and lifestyle, which helped me to realize that regardless of where we are from, what we believe, what our history is, and how different our values are, we are all human beings and that is what matters.

the state of israel and the neo-con zionists are not representative of the jewish religion and the jewish people any more than the angry, bigoted christian fundamentalists and neo-cons in the u.s. are representative of my country or of christianity...

Labels: , , , , , , , , ,

Submit To Propeller

[Permalink] 0 comments

Are the super-rich driving up oil prices to make themselves even richer...? Na-a-a-aaah... Perish the thought...

i've been increasingly suspicious that the dramatic rise in oil prices is just another orchestrated money grab by the super-rich, power elites... looks like i may not be the only person who harbors those dark thoughts...


A key federal regulator said Thursday that it's been probing whether speculators are manipulating the price of oil and gasoline and announced a series of measures to make the opaque world of oil trading more transparent.

In a surprise announcement, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) confirmed that since last December it's been investigating the trading of contracts for future deliveries of oil, commonly called futures contracts.

"Although the commission ordinarily conducts enforcement investigations on a confidential basis, the commission is taking the extraordinary step of disclosing this investigation because of today's unprecedented market conditions," the statement said. "The specifics of the ongoing investigation remain confidential. All commission enforcement inquiries are focused on ensuring that the markets are properly policed for manipulation and abusive practices."

la times...
"It shouldn't have taken oil and gasoline prices hitting Guinness-like record highs for the federal government to look into possible price manipulation by speculators, but it should also be looking at manipulation by oil companies and oil producers," said Sen. Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.), chairman of Congress' Joint Economic Committee.


A commission official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he is not authorized to discuss ongoing investigations publicly, said the commission's economists were fairly sure that there had been no criminal manipulation of the market.

that last paragraph as much as says that the investigation is principally for show, that there is no intention to get to the bottom of the matter... (like we thought for a moment that there would be...)

Labels: , , , , , , ,

Submit To Propeller

[Permalink] 0 comments

Ignoring Scott McClellan

the biggest non-news news story of the week - a spineless spin-meister comes clean, dumping out insights and perspectives the rest of the world had figured out several YEARS ago... he was a weenie then and he's a weenie now... if there's anybody that needs to come clean, it's our traditional news media who sucked up mcclellan's bullshit like it was a 7-11 icee and now are oh-so-dumbfounded that he's ratting out his former boss...

bite me, scotty...

Labels: , , , , , , ,

Submit To Propeller

[Permalink] 0 comments

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Marine Christian missionaries in Fallujah...? What are these people smoking...?

using the holy qur'an for target practice is not only appalling but also continues to have ripple effects right here in afghanistan *...

this is damn near as bad...

At the western entrance to the Iraqi city of Fallujah Tuesday, Muamar Anad handed his residence badge to the U.S. Marines guarding the city. They checked to be sure that he was a city resident, and when they were done, Anad said, a Marine slipped a coin out of his pocket and put it in his hand.

Out of fear, he accepted it, Anad said. When he was inside the city, the college student said, he looked at one side of the coin. "Where will you spend eternity?" it asked.

He flipped it over, and on the other side it read, "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. John 3:16."

"They are trying to convert us to Christianity," said Anad, a Sunni Muslim like most residents of this city in Anbar province. At home, he told his story, and his relatives echoed their disapproval: They'd been given the coins, too, he said.

Fallujah , the scene of a bloody U.S. offensive against Sunni insurgents in 2004, has calmed and grown less hostile to American troops since residents turned against al Qaida in Iraq , which had tried to force its brand of Islamist extremism on the population.

Now residents of the city are abuzz that some Americans whom they consider occupiers are also acting as Christian missionaries. Residents said some Marines at the western entrance to their city have been passing out the coins for two days in what they call a "humiliating" attempt to convert them to Christianity.

i was taken to dinner last evening by a truly wonderful gentleman who is in charge of the i.t. operation for the project we are both working for... he's a devout muslim, exceptionally skilled in his craft, works very hard many hours a day, travels to all the regional offices, and tries to regularly make time to spend with his family across the border in peshawar, pakistan, where life is somewhat easier and there are decent schools for his children...

he shared with me his beliefs, based on the qur'an, which, no surprise to me even though i haven't read it, reflected nothing less than human dignity, honesty, integrity, and helping your fellow man, regardless of race, creed or color... i find it impossible to put myself in the mind of someone who would do what that marine was doing... it's so fundamentally insulting, or, as was stated above, "humiliating"...

no kidding...

* Sporadic protests have erupted across Afghanistan in the last week as news spreads of a copy of the Koran being found riddled with bullets at a shooting range in Baghdad on May 11.

A Lithuanian soldier and at least two Afghans were killed last week when protesters tried to storm a military base in the west of the country.

In the latest protests, police arrested dozens of demonstrators and prevented them blocking a highway in Logar province south of the capital, Kabul.

Some demonstrators waved the white flag of the Taliban.

"Death to America. Death to Bush, his allies and the United Nations. We want them out," said one young protester as others chanted Allahu Akbar, or God is Great.

An effigy of US President George W. Bush and an American flag were dragged along the road.

just imagine, if you can, what kind of outrage would ensue if muslims in the u.s. were to use a christian bible for target practice... i can't, nor do i want to...

Labels: , , , , , , ,

Submit To Propeller

[Permalink] 0 comments

Thursday photoblogging - the two faces of Kabul, Afghanistan


this morning on the northeast side of town...

from the ap...

Afghan and foreign security officials gather
at the site after a suicide attack in the
city of the city of Kabul, Afghanistan on
Thursday, May 29, 2008. A suicide car bomber
hit a convoy of international soldiers in
Kabul on Thursday, killing three Afghans
caught in the blast, while a clash in the
west was said to have killed two dozen Taliban
(AP Photo/Musadeq Sadeq)

this afternoon, on the west side of town, two afghan friends and i went to lunch at a lovely restaurant overlooking qargheh reservoir...

Qargheh as seen from Google Earth

Qargheh Restaurant

Overlooking Qargheh Reservoir from
the restaurant balcony

Inspecting the menu

back "home," relaxing and watching the sunset at the end of the day...


just another day in afghanistan...

Labels: , , ,

Submit To Propeller

[Permalink] 0 comments

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

I'm watching Al Jazeera interviewing Michael Chertoff [UPDATE]

holy crap...! hard questions all about guantánamo, geneva convention, endless detention, torture, etc., etc...! chertoff is only offering slippery non-answers and standard talking points... i'll see if i can get the youtube clip...


a-HA...! GOT it...! you simply MUST watch this... see how a REAL interviewer, sami zeidan, conducts an interview...

Talk to Jazeera - Michael Chertoff - 27 May 08
Part 1

Talk to Jazeera - Michael Chertoff - 27 May 08
Part 2

Labels: , , ,

Submit To Propeller

[Permalink] 0 comments

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

One of the most brilliant smiles imaginable


this photo was taken by an afghan friend and colleague... the setting is the iran-afghanistan border where the big, long-haul trucks wait to get through the customs checkpoint... the young boy begs for a liter here and a liter there of petrol from the truckers to put in the container he is carrying and sells what he can collect to drivers along the road... he also collects a few afs (currency in afghanistan is referred to as "afs") for keeping watch over the trucks while the truckers grab something to eat at the food stalls or catch some sleep in their cabs... when my friend aimed his camera at this gasoline-soaked, greasy little urchin, he broke into one of the most brilliant smiles imaginable...


if this photo doesn't touch something deep inside you, you might need to check to see if you still have a pulse...

Labels: , , ,

Submit To Propeller

[Permalink] 0 comments

More McSame

two of a kind...

from moveon...

Labels: , , , , , ,

Submit To Propeller

[Permalink] 0 comments

Obama in Nevada on McSame's private fundraiser with George

right on, barack...

Labels: , , , , , , ,

Submit To Propeller

[Permalink] 0 comments

Aw, poor United Airlines... Boo-f&*^%$#@-hoo...

i was on the merger team for the FIRST attempt to join united with us airways, and i can tell you it was an unmitigated disaster well BEFORE the government declined to give its blessing...

dealing with united's senior management is not something i would wish on my worst enemy... they're predatory, heartless and totally dedicated to their own personal enrichment at the expense of anyone who gets in their way... i doubt seriously if the upper management gang over at us airways is any different... the only force that keeps these crooks in check is their pilots' union, and THAT'S only because the self-centered behavior of pilots is even MORE excessive than that of their management...

no surprise here...

Talks between United Airlines and US Airways appear to have fallen apart, marking the second time in a month that United failed to reach a deal with a rival airline and putting the future of industry consolidation in question, people with knowledge of the discussions said Tuesday night.

United’s board, and its chief executive, Glenn F. Tilton, raised questions about the arrangement in the past few days, according to three people who were briefed on the decision making but spoke on condition of anonymity

There has been little to no contact between United Airlines and US Airways in recent days and the internal teams of senior executives at both companies, as well as external bankers and lawyers assigned to the project, have put it on “permanent hold,” one person involved in the talks said. While it remained possible the talks could be revived, people involved in the most recent discussions said they had never advanced to final negotiations.

the biggest tragedy here for both airlines is that, as always, whatever negative consequences accrue will fall directly on the shoulders of the employees, the ones least equipped to deal with them, and the ones who must, on a day-to-day basis, deal with people like you and me, the passengers... when you're paying to check that bag and voicing your displeasure to the agent who's collecting your money, remember that the problem doesn't lie with that person...

Labels: , , , , , ,

Submit To Propeller

[Permalink] 0 comments

Al Jazeera English reports on the endless Iraq war

i've watched bits and pieces of this on al jazeera and was glad to see they posted it... my sense is that it's reasonably objective and, based on what i've learned from being the news junkie i am, pretty accurate... and, of course, it offers a perspective you simply won't find on u.s. domestic news outlets...

War Without End: 2006 - 26 May 08 - Part 1

War Without End: 2006 - 26 May 08 - Part 2

just for your info, al jazeera english posts most of its special features and even a fair chunk of its regular news programs on youtube here... since, to my knowledge, most u.s. cable and satellite tv services don't carry it, it's a good way of staying in touch with what they're putting out there...

don't get me wrong... i'm not claiming that they have any more of a grasp on "the truth" than any other news outlet... the value in watching them, i've found, is that it forces me to look at things from a different angle, and also puts stuff in front of my face that, spun or not, i simply didn't know about...

Labels: , , , , ,

Submit To Propeller

[Permalink] 0 comments

The LA Times op-ed page takes a turn at Obama-bashing

honest to pete, is there a person with a pulse anywhere who can't see through the blatant efforts by our media elites to destroy barack obama...?
Candidates who send their wives out on the campaign trail shouldn't lash out when their spouses face criticism.

President Bush was right to call it appeasement.

i gave the la times a little bit more credit than this... however, i don't know why in hell i would do that since they regularly give jonah goldberg an outlet for his world-class asshole views...

Labels: , , , , , , , , ,

Submit To Propeller

[Permalink] 0 comments

Monday, May 26, 2008

Spreading lies about Obama by withholding the truth

newsmax emails regularly land in my spam folder... i occasionally read them for giggles and grins... mostly i just delete them as an inordinate number are ads for miracle cures and get-rich-quick schemes, stuff that seriously detracts from newsmax' already sub-zero credibility quotient...

however, here's a great example of how that odious site distorts the news... check the headline...

Poll: 11% Believe Obama Is Muslim

now, check the article...
A new Newsweek poll out this weekend shows Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama may face serious obstacles in the upcoming general election.

Many Americans aren't even sure of Obama's religion.

Asked to identify his religion, 58 percent of respondents correctly said Obama was a Christian. But a surprising 11 percent said he was a Muslim. And 22 percent said they did not know what his religion was.

Almost one-fifth of white Democratic voters polled also said they had an unfavorable opinion of Obama because of his name.

Apparently, such bias is having an effect on Obama's chances to secure the presidency. Though the Democrats seemingly have significant landscape advantages this year with Bush's approval ratings in the tank and a weakening economy,

Obama ties McCain in the poll, 46 percent to 46 percent.

ok... ya with me so far...? now, let's take a look at how the above information is presented in the actual newsweek article...

the following is from the first two paragraphs...

Race is a difficult subject to talk and write about. Although the blogosphere is rarely shy, mainstream journalists often tread lightly for fear of giving offense or indulging in stereotypes. Political candidates sometimes slyly play the race card, but rarely overtly. Not eager to call attention to race as an issue, the Obama campaign plays it down as a factor in the election. But if an Obama adviser were writing an honest memo to the candidate, here's how it might read:

The good news is that you have all but won the nomination. The bad news, if we are willing to face reality, is that the country—some parts of it, anyway—may not be ready to elect a black president of the United States.

nine, VERY lengthy paragraphs in to the article, we read this...
The Internet has been a sluice for lies and distortions about your religion and background. It is widely and falsely rumored that you are Muslim (in the NEWSWEEK Poll, 11 percent of voters believe you are); that you chose to be sworn in to the Senate using a Qur'an rather than a Bible, and that you refuse to place your hand over your heart for the singing of the national anthem because, you are imagined to have said, "the anthem conveys a warlike message." As a recent post on points out, there is a "Genealogy of Barack Hussein Obama" making the Web rounds, helpfully illustrated by pictures of your dark-complexioned relatives dressed in African garb. The message is not subtle: it says that Barack Obama is not a "real American."

no mention whatsoever in the newsmax story about "lies and distortions"...

let's see how the "muslim rumor" was treated in the original newsweek poll article...

here's paragraph four from the five paragraph story...

Confusion over Obama's religious background may also be hindering his ability to attract white support. Asked to name Obama's faith, 58 percent of participants said Christian (the correct answer), compared with 11 percent who answered Muslim, 22 percent who did not know and 9 percent who said something else.

not that we didn't know this, but newsmax really sucks...

Labels: , , , , , , ,

Submit To Propeller

[Permalink] 0 comments

Iranian weapons in Iraq...? Do tell...!

gareth porter doing what he does best - honest, shoe-leather, professional journalism...
The U.S. military command in Iraq continues to talk about an alleged pipeline of Iranian weapons to Iraqi Shiites opposing the U.S. occupation, implying that they have become dependent on Iran for indirect-fire weapons and rocket-propelled grenades (RPGs).

But U.S. officials have failed thus far to provide evidence that would support that claim, and a long-delayed U.S. military report on Iranian arms is unlikely to offer any data on what proportion of the weapons in the hands of Shiite fighters are from Iran and what proportion comes from purchases on the open market.

When Maj. Gen. Kevin Bergner was asked that question at a briefing May 8, he did not answer it directly. Instead Bergner reverted to a standard U.S. military line that these groups "could not do what they're doing without the support of foreign support [sic]." Then he defined "foreign support" to include training and funding as well as weapons, implicitly conceding that he did not have much of a case based on weapons alone.

Bergner's refusal to address that question reflects a fundamental problem with the U.S. claims about Iranian weapons in Iraq: if there are indeed any Iranian rockets and mortars, and RPGs in the Mahdi Army's arsenal of stand-off weapons, they represent an insignificant part of it.

Reports by the U.S. command in Iraq over the past 15 months cited only a handful of Iranian weapons out of hundreds counted in caches found in Shiite areas. Nearly 700 mortars and rockets were reported by specific caliber size, along with a handful of RPGs, in nearly two dozen caches. Of that total, only four rockets were reported as being of Iranian origin, and another 15 were listed as possibly being Iranian.

that sorry-assed gang of criminals currently occupying the white house is still trying to lay the groundwork for attacking iran...

p.s. not that it has the slightest bearing on this post, but, ironically enough, i had lunch yesterday at an iranian restaurant...

Labels: , , , ,

Submit To Propeller

[Permalink] 0 comments

How the 2008 election has already been stolen

greg palast... watch it carefully...

Labels: , , , , , , ,

Submit To Propeller

[Permalink] 0 comments

Brave knights of the Army of Obama

(a search for my previous post on this hilarity didn't turn up anything in the time i cared to spend on it, but i want to be sure to give credit for the terrific monty python connection to john at americablog...)

Labels: , , , , , , ,

Submit To Propeller

[Permalink] 0 comments

As long as we're on uplifting stories, let me toss this one out there too

Tama, the cat Stationmaster

maybe i'm just in the mood to be uplifted...
A money-losing Japanese train company has found the purr-fect pet mascot to draw crowds and bring back business—tabby Tama.

All the 9-year-old female cat does is sit by the entrance of Kishi Station in western Japan, wearing a black uniform cap and posing for photos for the tourists who are now flocking in droves from across the nation.

Tama has been doing such a good job of raising revenue for the troubled Kishikawa train line that she was recently promoted to "super-station-master."

"She never complains, even though passengers touch her all over the place. She is an amazing cat. She has patience and charisma," Wakayama Electric Railway Co. spokeswoman Yoshiko Yamaki told The Associated Press Monday. "She is the perfect station master."

Appointing a cat to turn around fortunes makes cultural sense in Japan, where cats are considered good luck and are believed to bring in business.

People are snatching up novelty goods—postcards, erasers, notebooks and pins—decorated with Tama's photos. There's even a special 1,365 yen ($13) book of photos of Tama called, "Diary of Tama, the Station Master."

Tama had been on the brink of losing her place to live, with the nearby store where she was raised being torn down. Now, the station is home.

Kishi Station started running without any workers in April 2006 as part of cost cuts.

The Kishikawa line had been losing 500 million yen ($4.9 million) a year as passenger numbers fell steadily to as low as about 5,000 a day, or some 1.9 million a year.

After Tama's appointment last year passengers have been gradually returning, recently rising 10 percent to about 2.1 million a year.

In December Tama was rewarded with bonus pay—all in cat food.

what is it about a story like that that brings a smile to my face...?

Labels: , , ,

Submit To Propeller

[Permalink] 0 comments

A Mujahideen and Taliban commander turns to the light


i will report this little anecdote with as little identifying information as possible, for what will be very obvious reasons...

yesterday, a former mujahideen and taliban commander came and visited one of my office mates... a big, burly guy in full traditional dress with the full, black, traditional beard, he would have been intimidating in any setting, but i can only imagine encountering him in the open, rugged, afghanistan landscape when he was leading his former combat force of 500 men...

when he walked in, we introduced ourselves in the very formal and polite way that is the custom here, saying "As-Salāmu `Alaykum" (السلام عليكم), followed by a handshake, and then placing the right hand over the heart... i smiled and he returned the smile... now, believe me, when you see someone like that smile, it's not only startling, it's also quite delightful... the wattage of a smile shining out of the the middle of a full, dark beard is positively intense...

he met for almost an hour with my office mate... it turns out that he owns many, many hectares of land southwest of kabul, on which are many, many pomegranate trees and grapevines... (not many people realize - and i was certainly one of them until quite recently - that not only are pomegranates native to afghanistan but are also prized throughout the world for their size, flavor and general quality...) he wants to find a way to distribute and sell his harvest and was seeking help finding the right contacts... but, here's the kicker...

he said that he's tired of fighting and killing... he said it's time that people started coming together to make their own lives and the lives of others better... he wants to give jobs to the people of the area helping with the picking, grading, packing and distribution... he knows that they desperately need income to feed their families... he is contacting many of the people he knows who have fled the area and asking that they come back and join him in this effort...

when he left, we again shook hands, only this time both of us used both hands in a full clasp, and then placed our respective right hands over our hearts... to say that i was moved by the encounter would be a serious understatement...

Labels: , , , ,

Submit To Propeller

[Permalink] 0 comments

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Quoting a recurring Atrios open thread...

i got nothin'... what's happening...?

Labels: ,

Submit To Propeller

[Permalink] 0 comments

Afghanistan - what's happening with the food crisis in a REALLY poor country


i see nothing but trouble ahead for nations around the world as the poor are increasingly unable to afford to feed themselves and their families... a man with an empty stomach, negligible income, with many hungry mouths to feed, who is confronted every day with ever-rising food prices, will, in short order, become a very angry man, and rightly so...

here's the scenario in afghanistan, a scenario i only have to step outside the gate of the project compound to experience...

As the global food crisis deepens, bringing inflation and shortages to many countries, Afghanistan -- already facing a protracted drought, entrenched rural poverty and an ongoing conflict with Islamist insurgents -- finds itself battling the added threat of hunger.

For generations, Afghans have depended on cheap, plentiful bread as their main staple. The country's principal crop is wheat, and its farmers produce more than 5 million tons in a good year. Although that is not enough to feed the entire population, wheat can usually be trucked in from neighboring Pakistan.

Since February, however, a combination of local drought and regional shortages has driven the price of flour here to once-unimaginable levels -- as much as $50 for a 40-pound sack. Pakistan, also worried about how to feed 160 million-plus people, has closed its borders to food exports, as have a number of other largely agricultural countries anxious to stave off domestic hardship and political unrest.

So far, Afghan authorities and international charities have prevented the wheat flour shortage here from reaching crisis proportions by finding emergency sources. The government has trucked in tons of flour from Kazakhstan, and the U.N. World Food Program has raised money to import 85,000 tons from major wheat-producing countries such as Canada and Australia.

In addition, enterprising smugglers have continued to bring in truck after truck piled with sacks of flour from Pakistan. Sacks are said to cross the border surreptitiously on donkey-back, via bribery at official crossing spots and buried deep inside cargo trucks carrying Afghan refugees and their belongings back home.

i don't think anybody, even a lot of the better off people here in kabul, realizes just how potentially explosive this situation is...

Labels: , , , , , , , , ,

Submit To Propeller

[Permalink] 0 comments

Now that the RFK tragedy is being bandied about, how about RFK Jr.?

oh, no-o-o-o-o-ooooo... we certainly wouldn't want to give HIM any media exposure...! heavens to murgatroyd, no...! doing THAT might get people all stirred up or, worse yet, THINKING...!

from brasscheck tv...

How it all went wrong

It's headline news today that some people are outraged by Hilary Clinton's reference to the assassination of Robert F. Kennedy.

The current clamor is remarkable especially when you consider the following three real outrages.

The US news media:

1. Has never shown any interest in getting to the bottom of who killed Robert F. Kennedy.

Instead they repeat the preposterous story that he was shot in the back of the head at close range by someone ten feet in front of him.

2. They never refer to what he stood for including his opposition to the Vietnam war, his skepticism about the need for the US to support Israel, and his intention to continue his brother's work.

3. And they never, never comment on Kennedy's positive legacy.

In these three ways, the US news media continues the work of the 1968 assassins whose mission was to silence Kennedy and remove his ideas from debate.

Part of a man's legacy are his children.

Robert F. Kennedy Jr. - RFK's son - is an informed, insightful, well-spoken - and very effective - environmental and political activist.

How often do you see him on US news programs? How often is he asked for his opinions on talk shows?

Just about never.

There's a reason for that.

This video makes it clear what that reason is.

i'm quite frankly stunned... rfk jr., up until this moment, has been almost invisible to me, and i consider myself among the better informed of my fellow citizens... watching the video clip, i couldn't help but think of patrick fitzgerald and how effective HE would be if he ever decided to show us that he actually has a pair...

Labels: , , , ,

Submit To Propeller

[Permalink] 0 comments