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And, yes, I DO take it personally: 10/25/2009 - 11/01/2009
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And, yes, I DO take it personally

Friday, October 30, 2009

Jon Stewart, a Jew himself, displays cast-iron cojones and takes on the Israel-Palestine issue

how cool is this...?
Anna Baltzer and Mustafa Barghouti advocate a non-violent approach to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in this complete, unedited interview.

Daily Show
Full Episodes
part 2 here...

evidently it's caused some controversy...

from raw story...

Jon Stewart's comedy news show The Daily Show is reportedly under fire from pro-Israeli groups for giving airtime to two pro-Palestinian figures on Wednesday night.

Stewart hosted Palestinian democracy activist Mustafa Barghouti and human rights activist Anna Baltzer, author of A Witness in Palestine, who explained the Israeli-Palestinian conflict from the perspective of the Palestinian side.

According to a letter reportedly written by Baltzer and circulated by blogger Eric Johnson, the show "was overwhelmed with angry emails and phone calls prior to the appearance, and up until the last minute it seemed like they might cancel."

"During the taping the show had its only heckler in 11 years," Baltzer wrote. "The entire staff were very nervous and may come to regret the monumental decision (and not make it again) as they will surely be inundated now that the show has aired."

how about freedom of discussion...? how about freedom to debate major issues openly...? and how about a comedian tackling one of the most repressed topics in the world...? yay, jon stewart...

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Thursday, October 29, 2009

Oops...! House Ethics Committee screws up...!

you gotta think that if the ethics committee has identified 30 naughty little kids in the ranks of congress, how many more must there REALLY be...?
House ethics investigators have been scrutinizing the activities of more than 30 lawmakers and several aides in inquiries about issues including defense lobbying and corporate influence peddling, according to a confidential House ethics committee report prepared in July.

The report appears to have been inadvertently placed on a publicly accessible computer network, and it was provided to The Washington Post by a source not connected to the congressional investigations. The committee said Thursday night that the document was released by a low-level staffer.


The 22-page "Committee on Standards Weekly Summary Report" gives brief summaries of ethics panel investigations of the conduct of 19 lawmakers and a few staff members. It also outlines the work of the new Office of Congressional Ethics, a quasi-independent body that initiates investigations and provides recommendations to the ethics committee. The document indicated that the office was reviewing the activities of 14 other lawmakers. Some were under review by both ethics bodies.

imho, the level of corruption and the number of seriously ethically compromised congresspeople AND senators would be staggering if we knew the whole story...

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Wednesday, October 28, 2009

More details on how much torture was used and how people were kept alive so they could be tortured some more

as i sit here in kabul, the day after the mess at the un guesthouse across town and the horror just over the border in peshawar, and several days after the terrible carnage in baghdad, it's sickening to read about the atrocities perpetrated by my own people, the very people who were all over the news yesterday, decrying the bloody actions of terrorists...
According to human rights lawyer John Sifton, the CIA tortured some of its detainees in the War on Terror so severely that it had to take measures to keep them alive so they could continue being tortured.

Sifton, who the executive director of One World Research, told an interviewer for Russia Today that there was both a CIA detention program and a military detention program and that "The CIA program was by far the most secretive. ... That's the one that only had a few dozen detainees at any given time -- but it's the one that saw the biggest abuses, the most serious forms of torture."

"In the military, there was actually a larger number of deaths than with the CIA," Sifton continued. "The CIA engaged in some horrendous abuses, but they appear to have taken precautions to have actually prevented people from dying -- which might sound humanitarian, but in fact was kind of sickening."

"The military wasn't so careful," Sifton added. "The military subjected a lot of people to the same techniques, but without the precautions, and as a result a large number of detainees in military custody died. ... While they didn't use the worst forms of torture, like waterboarding, they often used sleep deprivation, forced standing, stress positions. ... When you combine these techniques ... they cause excruciating pain ... and the military used them on thousands and thousands of detainees."

Sifton commented that what he found most shocking was "the cold, clinical fashion in which they went about designing the program. They didn't want to commit outright physical torture ... so they went to psychologists and lawyers and they tried to design a program which was, in their minds, legal. ... They tried to make it legal and safe, but they just made it even more grotesque."

don't think for one second the afghans i work with aren't tuned in to what's happening in the world... they are just as horrified as you and i about the havoc their very own people are wreaking in their country but they're also very well aware of what we, the american people, are allowing to go on in our names...

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Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Firefight ongoing in Kabul [UPDATE 1, 2 & 3]



i came to the office early just as this was coming down... not a lot of details yet except to say it's still going on... we had to take an alternate route as the one we regularly use passes right through the middle of the area where it's all happening... the good news is that everybody else was told to stay home so i've pretty much got the office to myself... such peace and quiet...!
Heavy gunfire has erupted at a guest house used by U.N. staff in Kabul, and Afghan police said five people were killed. A U.N. spokesman said U.N. staff were believed to have fled the building and efforts were under way to determine if they were all safe.

The fighting broke out Monday after dawn. The crackle of automatic gunfire reverberated through the streets.

U.N. spokesman Adrian Edwards confirmed the guest house was used by U.N. staff but he believed all had fled the building. He didn't know how many international staff were living there.



about 45 minutes ago, there were several mortar rounds that landed in the vicinity of the serena hotel in central kabul which isn't far from where i'm sitting here in the office... we had to go to the safe room for a while but evidently things have quieted down and i'm now back at my desk...

this is the latest news report i've been able to find...

Afghan forces exchanged gunfire with a group of militants holed up inside an international guest house in the centre of Kabul on Wednesday, police said.

The United Nations mission in Afghanistan said it was possible some of its staff and other foreigners were inside.

Intense automatic weapons fire and an explosion resounded in the capital, and plumes of black smoke rose above buildings.

A Reuters witness said a number of streets had been cordoned off by the police as the gunfire continued, and sirens reverberated across the city.

"There are five or six terrorists inside," said Waheed Sadiqi, a policeman at the scene.

double sigh...


here's more...
Gunmen with automatic weapons and suicide vests stormed a guest house used by U.N. staff in the heart of the Afghan capital early Wednesday, killing at least seven people including three U.N. staff, officials said. A Taliban spokesman claimed responsibility, saying it was meant as an assault on the upcoming presidential election.

Heavy gunfire reverberated through the streets shortly after dawn and a large plume of smoke rose over the city following the attack on the hostel in the Shar-e-Naw district. Kabul police chief Abdul Rahman Rahman said seven people were killed, including some attackers.

U.N. spokesman Adrian Edwards confirmed that three U.N. staff were among the dead and one was seriously wounded. He said 20 U.N. staff were living at the guest house, some of them known to be registered there but he was unsure whether all were there at the time of the attack.

Flames could be seen on the roof of the guest house. Hours after the attack began, three explosions could be heard but it was unclear if they were from that location.

triple sigh...


this is the sight that greeted me this morning on my way to the office...

Smoke can be seen rising in central Kabul Wednesday Oct. 28, 2009.
Gunmen attacked a guest house used by U.N. staff in the Afghan capital
of Kabul early Wednesday, killing at least seven people including three
U.N. staff, officials said. A Taliban spokesman claimed responsibility,
saying it was meant as an assault on the upcoming presidential election.

(AP Photo/Bob Reid)

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Ok, Hamid, let's have that little talk about Wali...


you can make of this what you will... for me, it just adds to my deep, dark suspicions that the our esteemed cia has long been heavy into the drug trade and that our dark overlords have managed to maintain their power over us in large part financed by proceeds from that dark business... it would only be to their interest to keep a drug lord on the payroll...
Ahmed Wali Karzai, the brother of the Afghan president and a suspected player in the country’s booming illegal opium trade, gets regular payments from the Central Intelligence Agency, and has for much of the past eight years, according to current and former American officials.

The agency pays Mr. Karzai for a variety of services, including helping to recruit an Afghan paramilitary force that operates at the C.I.A.’s direction in and around the southern city of Kandahar, Mr. Karzai’s home.

gee, what a great morning...! just FULL of all kinds of breaking news...!

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Monday, October 26, 2009

In a failed state, the criminals are INSIDE the government

paul craig roberts appearing with max keiser...

Part 1

Part 2

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Get your U.S. green card...!

whenever i'm out of the u.s., this ad constantly appears on websites i visit... teh google obviously groks the fact that i'm connecting from a non-u.s. isp and responds accordingly...


the satellite internet service that we use at the project here in afghanistan shows me as logged in from an ip address in the uk... i bet if the ip address was afghanistan, i wouldn't be seeing this...!

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Some real data on U.S. healthcare costs - $800B annually and for WHAT?

reuters has actually done some research...
One example -- a paper-based system that discourages sharing of medical records accounts for 6 percent of annual overspending.

"It is waste when caregivers duplicate tests because results recorded in a patient's record with one provider are not available to another or when medical staff provides inappropriate treatment because relevant history of previous treatment cannot be accessed," the report reads.

Some other findings in the report from Thomson Reuters, the parent company of Reuters:

* Unnecessary care such as the overuse of antibiotics and lab tests to protect against malpractice exposure makes up 37 percent of healthcare waste or $200 to $300 a year.

* Fraud makes up 22 percent of healthcare waste, or up to $200 billion a year in fraudulent Medicare claims, kickbacks for referrals for unnecessary services and other scams.

* Administrative inefficiency and redundant paperwork account for 18 percent of healthcare waste.

* Medical mistakes account for $50 billion to $100 billion in unnecessary spending each year, or 11 percent of the total.

* Preventable conditions such as uncontrolled diabetes cost $30 billion to $50 billion a year.

"The average U.S. hospital spends one-quarter of its budget on billing and administration, nearly twice the average in Canada," reads the report, citing dozens of other research papers.

"American physicians spend nearly eight hours per week on paperwork and employ 1.66 clerical workers per doctor, far more than in Canada," it says, quoting a 2003 New England Journal of Medicine paper by Harvard University researcher Dr. Steffie Woolhandler.

notably not chronicled and all the more visible due to its absence: healthcare industry profits...

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WTF...?!?! Rich Germans want to pay MORE taxes...?

how cool is this...? when i first read the headline, i had to go back and read it again...
Rich Germans want to pay higher taxes to help with recovery

A group of rich Germans has launched a petition calling for the government to make wealthy people pay higher taxes. The group says they have more money than they need, and the extra revenue could fund economic and social programmes to aid Germany’s economic recovery.


The group says the financial crisis is leading to an increase in unemployment, poverty and social inequality. Simply donating money to deal with the problems is not enough, they want a change in the whole approach.

"The path out of the crisis must be paved with massive investment in ecology, education and social justice," they say in the petition.

Those who had "made a fortune through inheritance, hard work, hard-working, successful entrepreneurship, or investment" should contribute by paying more to alleviate the crisis.

this is precisely the spirit our arrogant, self-centered, obscenely self-pleasuring super-rich elites need to start adopting... when billions of people around the world are going hungry and dying, for them to continue their insane quest to acquire more, more, more is a sad and pathetic display...

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Sunday, October 25, 2009

Bearding the banksters at the Chicago American Banking Association conference

this kind of thing is only going to grow... people are pissed - and rightly so...

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Gay and pedophile-ridden Catholic church woos homophobic Anglicans

i read this story last week but, for some reason, the stunning irony and jaw-dropping hypocrisy didn't sink in until late last night as i was tossing and turning, trying to get back to sleep...
The Vatican announced Tuesday it was making it easier for Anglicans to convert to Roman Catholicism -- a surprise move designed to entice traditionalists opposed to women priests, openly gay clergy and the blessing of same-sex unions.

The decision, reached in secret by a small cadre of Vatican officials, was sure to add to the problems of the 77-million-strong Anglican Communion as it seeks to deal with deep doctrinal divisions that threaten a permanent schism among its faithful.

nobody could make this shit up...

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The #1 surveillance society in the world, the UK, focuses on "domestic extremism"

make no mistake... these same tactics are being used in the u.s., it's just that the u.s. doesn't have as deep a tradition of investigative journalism that is willing to ferret them out...

all emphases added...

Police are gathering the personal details of thousands of activists who attend political meetings and protests, and storing their data on a network of nationwide intelligence databases.

The hidden apparatus has been constructed to monitor "domestic extremists", the Guardian can reveal in the first of a three-day series into the policing of protests. Detailed information about the political activities of campaigners is being stored on a number of overlapping IT systems, even if they have not committed a crime.

Senior officers say domestic extremism, a term coined by police that has no legal basis, can include activists suspected of minor public order offences such as peaceful direct action and civil disobedience.


• The main unit, the National Public Order Intelligence Unit (NPOIU), runs a central database which lists thousands of so-called domestic extremists. It filters intelligence supplied by police forces across England and Wales, which routinely deploy surveillance teams at protests, rallies and public meetings. The NPOIU contains detailed files on individual protesters who are searchable by name.

Vehicles associated with protesters are being tracked via a nationwide system of automatic number plate recognition (ANPR) cameras. One man, who has no criminal record, was stopped more than 25 times in less than three years after a "protest" marker was placed against his car after he attended a small protest against duck and pheasant shooting. ANPR "interceptor teams" are being deployed on roads leading to protests to monitor attendance.

• Police surveillance units, known as Forward Intelligence Teams (FIT) and Evidence Gatherers, record footage and take photographs of campaigners as they enter and leave openly advertised public meetings. These images are entered on force-wide databases so that police can chronicle the campaigners' political activities.

then there's this lovely item innocuously called a "spotter card"...

This kind of highly confidential document – pictured above – is rarely seen by the public.

These so-called "spotter cards" are issued by police to identify individuals they consider to be potential troublemakers because they have appeared at a number of demonstrations.

The photographs are drawn from police intelligence files. This card was apparently dropped at a demonstration against Britain's largest arms fair in 2005.

"H" is Mark Thomas, the comedian and political activist. Asked why it was justifiable to put Thomas, who has no criminal record, on this card, the Metropolitan police replied: "We do not discuss intelligence we may hold in relation to individuals."

Thomas had been acquitted of criminal damage after attaching himself to a bus containing arms traders at a previous fair.

The Met said: "This is an appropriate tactic used by police to help them identify people at specific events … who may instigate offences or disorder."

so, now peaceful direct action and civil disobedience, so-called "minor order public offenses," along with protest, an act of free speech, are defined as "domestic extremism"...?

there's a phenomenon called "psychological reciprocity" which, loosely defined, means that when people are treated a certain way, they tend to respond in the manner in which they're treated... in my professional life, i've seen it a million times... management characterizes front line workers as "lazy," "untrustworthy," "cry-babies," and generally no damn good and, guess what...? they tend to respond that way which, in turn, justifies management's attitude...

to quote kurt vonnegut, "and so it goes"...

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Juan Cole on yesterday's Baghdad blasts

professor cole...
The US Republican Party's avaricious and illegal war on Iraq destabilized the eastern Mediterranean, perhaps for decades, creating long-term challenges to US and global security of which the Baghdad blasts are very possibly only minor omens.

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