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And, yes, I DO take it personally: 07/20/2008 - 07/27/2008
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And, yes, I DO take it personally

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Saturday photoblogging: my new Afghan rugs

i hauled one large afghan rug and one smaller one in my luggage from kabul to dubai and from there to northern nevada... then, i packed them up again and dragged them to buenos aires... if i do say so myself, they both look FANTASTIC on the dark wood floor here, just as i hoped they would...



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Our totally "professional" and "objective" news media

ya, right...

watch this and then tell me our so-called "news" media haven't pulled out all the stops for john mccain...

jed does the deconstruction...

Of the five points, the third is the most clear cut example of bias on purely objective grounds, but I think that each demonstrate clear bias towards McCain.

  1. Gibson started by setting up John McCain’s most recent Iraq surge attack on Barack Obama, parroting McCain’s attack almost verbatim, without any critical analysis. He then allowed McCain to speak unfiltered for nearly a full minute, attacking Barack Obama the entire time. Gibson did not give the Obama campaign an opportunity to respond.

    • Also worth noting: In addition to not giving the Obama campaign a chance to respond, Gibson failed to report on John McCain’s stunning flip-flop (at least rhetorically) on the virtue of a 16-month timetable.
  2. Gibson then jumped to Obama in France, saying the Sarkozy had lavished “effusive” praise upon Obama that “bordered on an endorsement.” By itself, this might have been a fair segment, but it was a highly suggestive way to phrase things, particularly in light of the previous story in which McCain had challenged Barack Obama on issues of war and peace.

  3. Gibson then turned to George Stephanopoulos to discuss polling in the wake of Obama’s overseas trip.

    • He noted that Obama is leading in national polls, but then said that recent state polls show Obama is losing ground in key swing states. Stephanopoulos then took over, using as evidence three new Quinnipiac ("Q") polls (Colorado, Michigan, and Minnesota).
    • Stephanopoulos failed to disclose the dates that the polls were taken and curiously excluded a fourth Q poll released in the swing state of Wisconsin on the same day as the other three. (The Wisconsin poll had Obama leading by 11.)
    • Gibson asked Stephanopoulos to explain why the polls were tightening, but Stephanopoulos failed to note that these polls were outliers. (For example, while the Q poll in Minnesota does show a tightening race, shows Obama with a 12.5% average lead, even factoring in the Q poll.)
    • Stephanopoulos concluded his discussion of the Q polls by saying that there’s no question that Barack Obama hasn’t seen evidence of a bump in the polls after his overseas trip. The thing Stephanopoulos didn’t tell viewers was that none of the polls were conducted before his most high profile event, the speech in Germany. In fact, the polls were conducted from the 14th-22nd, so they were mostly conducted while Barack Obama was still on U.S. soil. Stephanopoulos must have been aware of that information, which leads to the conclusion that he intentionally withheld it deceive his viewing audience.
    • Stephanopoulos also failed to note that both the national tracking polls of both Gallup (+5) and Rasmussen (+4) showed Barack Obama gaining ground from before he left for the trip.
  4. Gibson closed the discussion with Stephanopoulos by raising what he said the McCain campaign descrimed as a serious error: Barack Obama’s decision to not visit troops in Germany. Of course, it seems very likely that some politics was played by the DoD to screw around with Obama, and in any case, the whole issue is entirely symbolic, certainly not more important than probing McCain's flip-flop on timetables. Predictably, Stephanopoulos agreed with McCain that Obama should have gone to visit the soldiers.

  5. Gibson finished by promoting Stephanopolous’ interview with McCain this Sunday from Phoenix, Arizona, and for no apparent reason, he said that he was confident that mccain would talk about the German troop visit issue again. Hmm. How does he know?

It should now be clear that ABC News cannot be trusted -- its journalistic integrity has been succesfully challenged far too many times. At this point, we have to acknowledge that ABC News is at least as pro-McCain as FOX News, and its impact is certainly far more insidious because most people don’t realize just how tilted their “news” really is.

and, of course, most folks, sitting in the comfort of their living rooms, won't have the slightest idea that they're being fed a pile of warm, steaming shit...

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Friday, July 25, 2008

Insurance company rules...

from true majority...

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Thursday, July 24, 2008

We have GOT to start someplace

......and Rove is as good a place as any.

Sign the petition, pleeeeeeeeease.

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Wednesday, July 23, 2008

EU suspends aid to Bulgaria


the last time i was in bulgaria was in october 2006, about three months before its accession to the eu... i thought at the time that accession was premature, that there was simply too much corruption and that the eu might regret opening the door to both bulgaria and romania, although i don't have any direct experience with romania... looks like my hunch was well-founded...
The European Commission has suspended EU aid to Bulgaria worth hundreds of millions of euros because of concerns about corruption and organised crime.

Commission spokesman Johannes Laitenberger said the EU was also withdrawing the right of two Bulgarian agencies to manage EU funds.

He said Bulgaria needed a new penal code to ensure more effective justice.

Romania was also criticised for shortcomings in its judiciary, including politicisation of cases.

Romania will escape penalties for now, but the report says reforms there are "fragile".

About 500m euros (£400m; $800m) of aid to Bulgaria is being frozen by the commission.

Both countries have been under close supervision since they joined the European Union in January 2007.

In Bulgaria, "the fight against high-level corruption and organised crime is not producing enough results," Mr Laitenberger said, presenting the reports on Wednesday.

the article goes on to say that, under intense bulgarian lobbying, the report was "toned down"... imho, that's a mistake... as much as i like the people of bulgaria, and also with due respect to my friends there who are decent, honorable people, bulgaria is a mess... i fully suspect the same hammer needs to fall on romania...

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Monday, July 21, 2008

Looks to me like an Israeli is executing a Palestinian [UPDATE]


but, of course, the headline has to read as follows...
Israeli Army EXAMINES shooting video
[emphasis added]

Video of an Israeli soldier apparently shooting a blind-folded Palestinian detainee at close range has been released by an Israeli human rights group.

B'Tselem say the incident took place during protests against Israel's West Bank barrier about two weeks ago.

The video is blurred when the gunfire echoes and it is unclear whether the Palestinian was hit.

The detainee is later seen lying on the ground at the feet of a group of Israeli soldiers.

yes, i do realize that almost anything can be done with today's electronic wizardry to make things appear as you want them to appear rather than how they really are, but i also know, thanks to csi and other such forensic crime shows, that electronic wizardry leaves traces... my hunch is that an israeli human rights group wouldn't be so stupid as to release a doctored video clip, but, ya never know...


it was a rubber bullet which only makes it slightly less horrific...

al jazeera...

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Sunday, July 20, 2008

Take the magnetic yellow ribbon OFF your car

scott ritter...

brasscheck tv...
Yellow ribbons.

They're everywhere.

And they mean nothing.

Good, goose-stepping Americans put them on their cars to "support the troops."

How about supporting the troops by making sure they're not sent to die in illegal, ill-conceived wars waged by lying psychopaths?

If you're going to put a ribbon on your car, how about a black one to show that you mourn those killed and injured, you oppose the war, and you oppose having our military hijacked by a gang of treasonous thieves.

ritter "learned to hate war by going to war"...

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Using Obama's visit to Afghanistan as a springboard, let's look at what's going on there


it ain't pretty...

civilian casualties in two separate incidents...

At least 13 Afghan police and civilians have died in two incidents involving international forces, officials say.

Four Afghan police and five civilians died in an apparently mistaken air strike by international coalition forces in Farah province.

Separately, the Nato-led Isaf said it had "accidentally" killed at least four civilians in Paktika province.

The incidents are the latest in a series of controversial clashes involving foreign troops.

seven and a half years AFTER the u.s. topples the taliban, no infrastructure...

Haji Baz Mohammad
What puzzles poorer Afghans is why so many basic problems haven't been solved, despite the billions of dollars of international aid.

A short walk from the affluent neighbourhoods of Wazir Akbar Khan and Shari Naw, in the streets of downtown Kabul, Afghanistan's unemployed are gathered in their hundreds.

Most say they have to wait for days, hoping to find one day's work to feed their entire family.

Kabul is considered the safest spot in the country, but basic services such as clean drinking water, electricity, and sewage systems remain unavailable to most people.

Waiting outside one of Kabul's main government hospitals is Haji Baz Mohammad. He has accompanied a patient from his home province in northern Afghanistan. He is busy praying and is visibly sad.

"We are not politicians or people who have the aid money," he says. "Where are the roads, clinics and reconstruction that were promised to us?"

i spent my first two weeks in kabul puzzling over those same questions... where's the infrastructure...? where has the money gone...? it seems that the afghan on the street can answer those questions...
Saqib Baghlani, 43, a high school teacher, sits on his old Chinese bicycle.

He welcomes the demise of the Taleban. "Afghanistan has made remarkable progress compared to its pre-war and Taleban days," declares the tall, confident, blue-eyed teacher.

But he says the failures of his government are unacceptable.

He insists that President Hamed Karzai should fire corrupt officials and provide people with basic services, such as health care and clean drinking water, as this could bring peace.

Afghan children at a refugee camp in Kabul, Afghanistan 12/06/08
There is growing international pressure to improve living standards

"Go and see who owns these expensive houses in (the suburb of) Wazir Akbar Khan and who is driving land cruisers," he says. "Karzai should ask these officials how they got so rich overnight, instead of making empty promises again and again."

karzai doesn't have to ask... he knows the answer... it is under his leadership and with his administration's tacit consent that those fat cats have gotten ever fatter... and, yes, some of that money left afghanistan in my pocket, but damn little i can assure you in comparison to the billions being raked in by dyncorp, louis berger, and kbr...

so what does our erstwhile presidential candidate, barack obama, propose...?

Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama pledged steadfast aid to Afghanistan in talks with its Western-backed leader Sunday and vowed to pursue the war on terror "with vigor" if he is elected, an Afghan official said.


Obama has made Afghanistan a centerpiece of his proposed strategy for dealing with terrorism threats.

The Illinois senator has said the war in Afghanistan, where Taliban and al-Qaida-linked militants are resurgent, deserves more troops and more attention as opposed to the conflict in Iraq.

and just what exactly do the AFGHANS think of more troops...?

from juan cole...

The USG Open Source Center translates a report in Dari Persian on a parliamentarian and two close observers from Afghanistan who entertain the severest doubts about Barack Obama's plan to send more US troops to Afghanistan.

Afghan Observers Sceptical of Senator Obama's Plan To Send More Troops
Voice of the Islamic Republic of Iran External Service
Saturday, July 19, 2008
Document Type: OSC Translated Text

An Afghan parliamentarian has criticized one of the US presidential candidates for his plan to deploy more troops in Afghanistan. Elaborating on his foreign policy this week, Barack Obama said that as president, he would send two more US combat brigades to the Afghan theatre.

According to a report (source indistinct) from Kabul, Afghan MP Kabir Ranjbar asserted on Friday that increasing the number of US and other foreign servicemen would not help Afghanistan at all.

Wahid Mozhda, another Afghan political observer, has also warned that the Obama's plan to deploy up to 10,000 additional troops will worsen the situation in Afghanistan. This Afghan observer states according to this plan, the US is trying to resolve the problem through military measures, which is obviously not an effective strategy.

In addition, Mr Fahim Dashti, a journalist and observer, has said that the US government officials have decided to increase troops in Afghanistan, at a time when they have failed to defeat remnants of the Taliban and Al-Qa'ida in this country. Fahim Dashti says sending additional US and other foreign troops to Afghanistan will cause more problems in the long term, because it may antagonize the people's anti-American feelings. The Afghan analyst accentuated that countries like the USA should organize and equip the Afghan native forces, including the national army and police, as soon as possible if they really want to put an end to insecurity in Afghanistan.

i agree... more troops is not the answer...

this from cbs on obama's visit...

at least obama had the guts to go where no high-level u.s. official has gone - jalalabad...

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Why does a reference to the originator of the "BIG LIE" generate such outrage?

people around the world have been subjected to the "BIG LIE" for decades, and one of them has certainly been that "free trade" agreements between wealthy nations and poorer nations are mutually beneficial... what is it about referring to someone like goebbels and the nazi era that sets people to foaming at the mouth...? sure, comparing someone to a notorious nazi isn't exactly a compliment, but, fercryinoutloud, the BIG LIE is still the BIG LIE, right...? RIGHT...?
Brazilian Foreign Minister Celso Amorim said the U.S., Europe and other wealthy economies have so frequently misrepresented the talks launched in Qatar's capital in 2001 that public perception has become totally warped.

"Goebbels used to say if you repeat a lie several times it becomes a truth," Amorim told reporters at the World Trade Organization, where top negotiators from over two dozen countries are expected Monday for the official start of the talks.

Poorer countries have demanded cuts in the farm tariffs and subsidies used by wealthy countries, saying they hinder Third World development. In exchange, rich countries have insisted on better market access in developing countries for their manufacturers and service providers.

Amorim implied that rich countries were employing Goebbels' lying tactics in describing the agricultural concessions they claim they are willing to make, while criticizing poorer countries for refusing to liberalize their industrial markets.

"I am reminded of Goebbels," said Amorim, whose country has co-led with India a broad coalition of developing countries at the WTO talks.

yeah, i'm reminded of goebbels TOO...

cue the outrage...

Sean Spicer, spokesman for the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, said he was horrified by the "personal venom" of Amorim's words.

"We came here to Geneva to negotiate on substance," Spicer told The Associated Press. "For him to make remarks like this is so incredibly wrong. They are insulting."

cue the apology...
In an interview with the AP, Amorim's spokesman Ricardo Neiva Tavares said the minister "regrets if Susan Schwab or anyone else was upset by his comments on a historical fact. He certainly did not intend to hurt anyone's feelings, which he deeply respects."

i repeat... a BIG LIE is still a BIG LIE, right...?

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