Friday, December 30, 2005
Leap second is an assault on the American public
“This year’s leap second is an assault on the American public,” says commentator Bill O’Reilly. “The reason the leap second is even being proposed is because of America Haters, because of Iraqi hate mongers, and let’s be honest, Shiites. Why would you add a second to the year unless you’re an anti-American hate monger?...Posted by Steve Martin over at HuffPost, Leap Second Lovers are Traitors Says Bill O’Reilly
I remember liberals at a party saying, ‘let’s add a second to the year’ and I was the only one who spoke up against it. Why would they want to add a second to the year? Because it gives them a second longer to hate Bush.
“Look, look, look, look. A leap second is a denial of everything American, of everything good, of everything moral...
US and UK are sactioning and utilizing Uzbek torture
A woman whose son was allegedly boiled to death in an Uzbek prison has herself been jailed on charges of religious extremism and plotting against the state.
The Thursday verdict was immediately condemned as politically motivated - an attempt to silence a woman who focused world attention on terrible human rights abuses in the central Asian republic.
Anti-War confirms in US Ally Uzbekistan Sends Elderly Mother to Prison, Hard Labor:
After torturing her son to death, allegedly by boiling him in water, the government of Washington's closest Central Asian ally, Uzbekistan, has sentenced his 62-year-old mother to six years of hard labor in prison, according to human rights groups, who are calling on the Bush administration to speak out against the continuing persecution of independent Muslims there.
The mother, Fatima Mukhadirova, was sentenced last week on charges of possessing unsanctioned religious literature, membership in a banned religion organization, and "attempted encroachment on the constitutional order" after a closed trial.
Markos Zúniga helps push the revelations arriving from across the Atlantic: British torture memos
With Tony Blair and Jack Straw cornered on extraordinary rendition, the UK government is particularly anxious to suppress all evidence of our complicity in obtaining intelligence extracted by foreign torturers.A sample of what is in the memos :
The British Foreign Office is now seeking to block publication of Craig Murray's forthcoming book, which documents his time as Ambassador to Uzbekistan. The Foreign Office has demanded that Craig Murray remove all references to two especially damning British government documents, indicating that our government was knowingly receiving information extracted by the Uzbeks through torture, and return every copy that he has in his possession.
We receive intelligence obtained under torture from the Uzbek intelligence services, via the US. We should stop. It is bad information anyway. Tortured dupes are forced to sign up to confessions showing what the Uzbek government wants the US and UK to believe, that they and we are fighting the same war against terror...From The Independent of UKEx-envoy to Uzbekistan goes public on torture:
We should cease all co-operation with the Uzbek Security Services they are beyond the pale. We indeed need to establish an SIS presence here, but not as in a friendly state.
Britain's former ambassador to Uzbekistan, Craig Murray, has defied the Foreign Office by publishing on the internet documents providing evidence that the British Government knowingly received information extracted by torture in the "war on terror".Checking on http://www.craigmurray.co.uk/ gets the 403
You don't have permission to access /
on this server.
Thursday, December 22, 2005
So how did that Iraqi election turn out?
A Shiite Muslim coalition built around Iraq's current governing alliance won a commanding number of seats in Dec. 15 elections...Preliminary reports from 11 of Iraq's 18 provinces and other vote estimates indicate that Islamic-led parties or coalitions from all main ethnic groups will win at least 175 of the 275 seats in the new parliament.Sadly, like here in the US, the losers can only think to whine and complain. From BBC, Iraq parties unite to reject poll
Sunni Arab and secular parties in Iraq have united to reject the results of last week's parliamentary elections, saying there was widespread fraud.I am glad to see the likely winners of this election using the same sort of understanding the current US leaders used when issues of election fairness were raised in this country last year. From The WashPost, Iraqi Groups May Boycott New Legislature
A senior member of the Shiite religious United Iraqi Alliance, the group that preliminary results show leading in the polls, said the protesters should accept the results.It's as Thomas Jefferson said:
"These statements will lead the country to new chaos," Ali al-Adib said, "They have to accept the will of the Iraqi people, the will of the majority. The political process will continue even if they boycott it."
"A democracy is nothing more than mob rule, where fifty-one percent of the people may take away the rights of the other forty-nine."
But ultimately, they had their election and I am sure the Bush administration is happy about this. Bush et. al. now have a duly elected government in Iraq. From The LATimes, Iraq Election Results Will Pose New Challenges for U.S. Policy
The apparent failure of secular, Western-oriented political groups to win many seats in Iraq's four-year legislature puts new pressure on the Bush administration in its efforts to stabilize the country.Poor Judith Miller though, I think her odds on favorite might be out of the game,
[F]ormer interim Prime Minister Iyad Allawi's Iraqi National List appears to have won only 21 seats, claiming 8% of the popular vote tallied so far...Allawi and other groups are expected to pick up more seats in the 275-member parliament once expatriate votes are tallied.
A secular alliance headed by controversial Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Chalabi, a onetime Pentagon favorite to lead Iraq, scored less than 0.5% of the vote — not enough to win a seat.
At least the current true rulers of Iraq (and its oil and strategic base locations) understand the difference between the predicted outcome and what is needed for a peaceful and secure Iraq. You know, the state of affairs Bush needs before we can bring our troops home. Continuing from the LATimes:
"It looks as if people have preferred to vote for their ethnic and sectarian identities," U.S. Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad said. "But for Iraq to succeed there has to be cross-sectarian and cross-ethnic cooperation."Ok, so in this case what happened is not what needed to happen. To be fair to the
Elections can act to sharpen social divisions rather than heal them and to increase political instability rather than temper it...Those with experience in elections in conflict zones said they were not surprised by the initial results in Iraq. James Dobbins, a foreign affairs specialist at the Rand Corp: "They fall back on the familiar and the powerful. The same thing happened in postwar Bosnia, where the parties that fed the conflict in the first place got most of the vote."
Well, anyway, the Iraqis had their election. Some form of government will be seated in Baghad. Most of the populace will be happy. A few might have a few problems with it. Again, from the BBC
The Iraqi Accord Front, Iraqi Front for National Dialogue and Allawi's secular Iraqi National List: We hold the ndependent Electoral Commission of Iraq responsible for all the violations which took place during the elections and demand that it be dissolved and a suitable alternative to be found...if this is not achieved, then we will have no choice but to refuse the results and boycott the new parliament."That aside, from the WashPost
Ibrahim al-Janabi, a spokesman for the Iraqi National List: "These elections are fraudulent, and the next parliament is illegitimate,"
In Baghdad, Rumsfeld hinted that the U.S. military will soon begin a modest reduction in troop levels by canceling the scheduled deployment of two Army brigades. That would bring U.S. troop levels below 138,000, the level considered the core force for most of this year.In closing, let's turn back to Mr Dobbins of the Rand Corp and his comparison with the Balkans. Keep in mind the US has never had a troop to civilian ratio even close to what was brought in to solve the Balkans conflict.
Dobbins noted that the last U.S. forces pulled out of Bosnia-Herzegovina nine years after they were deployed in 1995, and a European security force still remained in the country.Rumsfeld's optimistism aside, seems Iraqi's civil war may just boil over and our troops could be busy for a long time. Or maybe we will just slink out in the middle of the night and leave the Iraqis to clean up themselves.
Human spirituality as a quantum effect?
God’s numbers have never been better...more than seventy percent of the American population claims to believe in God.These are quotes from a very positive review of the researchers' book Why God Won't Go Away : Brain Science and the Biology of Belief. I will have to read this book to see how these claims are supported. That aside and continuing with blogging the review:
What can account for the amazing staying power of religion? Why, exactly, won’t God go away?
[R]esearchers Andrew Newberg and Eugene d’Aquili offer a new explanation, at once profoundly simple and scientifically precise: the religious impulse is rooted in the biology of the human brain.
Newberg and d’Aquili base this revolutionary conclusion on a long-term investigation of brain function and behavior as well as studies they conducted using high-tech imaging techniques to peer into the brains of meditating Buddhists and Franciscan nuns at prayer. What they discovered was that intensely focused spiritual contemplation triggers an alteration in the activity of the brain that leads one to perceive transcendent religious experiences as solid, tangible reality. In other words, the sensation that Buddhists call "oneness with the universe" and the Franciscans attribute to the palpable presence of God is not a delusion, or subjective psychology, or simple wishful thinking. Rather, it is triggered by a chain of distinct neurological events that can be objectively observed, recorded, and actually photographed.
And finally, there is the compelling and overarching question: Is religion merely a product of biology—a neurological illusion—or does the very fact that our brains function in such a curious way argue that God is not only real, but reachable?Instead of trying to push religion where it will not fit, a little creativity can find places where science and spritiuality do overlap.
Resting on a firm foundation of solid empirical data...laboring to understand the deepest implications of his research, [Newberg] found himself led to a place where intellectual analysis wasn’t sufficient, where objective reality didn’t seem so solid, and where the borderline between the world of science and the realm of the spirit is not such a clear one after all.
Wednesday, December 21, 2005
88% of us think Bush should be impeached
Tuesday, December 20, 2005
Newsweek: the Constitution explicitly requires the president to obey the law.
We’re seeing clearly now that Bush thought 9/11 gave him license to act like a dictator...No wonder Bush was so desperate that The New York Times not publish its story on the National Security Agency eavesdropping on American citizens without a warrant, in what lawyers outside the administration say is a clear violation of the 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.
...the leaking...was the work of a patriot inside the government who was trying to stop a presidential power grab.
Bush was desperate to keep the Times from running this important story...because he knew that it would reveal him as a law-breaker...the Constitution explicitly requires the president to obey the law...the post 9/11 congressional resolution...did not scrap the Constitution and allow the president to do whatever he pleased in any area in the name of fighting terrorism.
What is especially perplexing about this story is that the 1978 [FISA] law set up a special court to approve eavesdropping in hours, even minutes, if necessary. In fact, the law allows the government to eavesdrop on its own, then retroactively justify it to the court, essentially obtaining a warrant after the fact. Since 1979, the FISA court has approved tens of thousands of eavesdropping requests and rejected only four...
If the Democrats regain control of Congress, there may even be articles of impeachment introduced...[T]he president knew publication would cause him great embarrassment and trouble for the rest of his presidency.
Monday, December 19, 2005
What the NSA might be using to spy on us
Sep. 30, 1998That's a fine lot of technology the NSA has got there. Are there any possible problems that might emerge as this tool becomes availible to those in power?
If the European Parliament has its way, the lid is about to come off what is reputedly one of the most powerful, secretive, and extensive spy networks in history -- if, in fact, it really exists.
In October , Europe's governing body will commission a full report into the workings of Echelon, a global network of highly sensitive listening posts operated in part by America's most clandestine intelligence organization, the National Security Agency...
Echelon is reportedly able to intercept, record, and translate any electronic communication -- telephone, data, cellular, fax, email, telex -- sent anywhere in the world. The parliamentary report will focus on concerns that the system has expanded and is now zeroed in on the secrets of European companies and elected officials...
There might have been concerns with those in Olde Europe, but at least some in this country where forward thinking at the time. If there could be an excuse to turn Echelon inward into this country, the advantage to our elected officials would be enormous. With this extra window into the workings of those working in opposition to our elected officials, they will be in a better position to make sure these opposition plans do not interfere with already agreed on plans for world domination and control.
International cooperation on law enforcement is important, [a British member of the European Parliament and a director of Scientific and Technical Options Assessment, or STOA, a technology advisory committee to the parliament] Ford said, but there are limits. "We want to establish a code of conduct for the systems to protect EU citizens and governments."
Across the Atlantic, Patrick Poole, deputy director for the Free Congress Foundation, a conservative Washington think tank, is preparing a report on Echelon to present to Republican members of Congress. "I believe it's time we start to bring this matter to our elected officials," he said.
Sunday, December 18, 2005
Coffee Table Book About Coffee Tables
Our newest additions to the Kramerica catalog include The Butter Shave Kit and The Manssiere, and sales are already going through the roof. We expect The Executive to catch on soon as the northeast enters the wet and rainy season. Kramerica is indeed a company on the rise!
Now, you can learn more about the exciting world of coffee tables when you purchase the "Coffee Table Book About Coffee Tables." This beautiful volume collects the greatest moments in coffee table history, in order, with pictures. Also, it comes with detachable legs that can be used to turn this unique tome into an actual coffee table! A coffee table book about coffee tables that turns into a coffee table? It's a coffee table lover's dream! Act now, while supplies last!
Saturday, December 17, 2005
Careful what you read, the Feds are watching
A senior at UMass Dartmouth was visited by federal agents two months ago, after he requested a copy of Mao Tse-Tung's tome on Communism called The Little Red Book...he requested the book through the UMass Dartmouth library's interlibrary loan program...was completing a research paper on Communism for Professor Pontbriand's class on fascism and totalitarianism.
He was later visited at his parents' home in New Bedford by two agents of the Department of Homeland Security, the professors said.
Kudzus to the article's author for seeing this as part of the larger problem.
The professors had been asked to comment on a report that President Bush had authorized the National Security Agency to spy on as many as 500 people at any given time since 2002 in this country.The fallout of this visit seems to help quash acedemic freedom. It's not like we want the young minds of this country actually learning a thing or two about terrorism and those that support it. That might help us find a way to solve the War on Terror. And then what would so many politicans use to scare us into not thinking?
The eavesdropping was apparently done without warrants.
Dr. Williams said "My instinct is that there is a lot more monitoring than we think."
Dr. Williams said he had been planning to offer a course on terrorism next semester, but is reconsidering, because it might put his students at risk. "I shudder to think of all the students I've had monitoring al-Qaeda Web sites, what the government must think of that," he said. "Mao Tse-Tung is completely harmless."
Just two nights ago I was reading about the book Messages to the World: The Statements of Osama bin Laden.
Despite the saturation of global media coverage, Osama bin Laden's own writings have been curiously absent from analysis of the “war on terror.” ...In bringing together the various statements issued under bin Laden’s name since 1994, this volume forms part of a growing discourse that seeks to demythologize the terrorist network.My natural instinst was to find a local bookstore with it in stock so I could go and pay cash for a copy. Now I see my first impulse was right.
Wednesday, December 14, 2005
Christmas ruled unconstitutional
In a sudden and unexpected blow to the Americans working to protect the holiday, liberal U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Stephen Reinhardt ruled the private celebration of Christmas unconstitutional Monday.
In addition to forbidding the celebration of Christmas in any form, Judge Reinhardt has made it illegal to say "Merry Christmas." Instead, he has ruled that Americans must say "Happy Holidays" or "Vacaciones Felices" if they wish to extend good tidings.
Within an hour of the judge's verdict, National Guard troops were mobilized to enforce the controversial ruling.
Let's stop pretending News isn't Marketing
MADISON, WIS. - A radio station has sold the naming rights to its newsroom, sparking some concern that advertisers had crossed a line and could influence news coverage.Sign of things to come?
The WIBA newsroom in Madison will be known as the Amcore Bank News Center beginning Jan. 1.
It was not clear whether the move was a companywide policy of the station's parent, Clear Channel Communications, a San Antonio-based company that owns nearly 1,200 radio stations and a national radio network.Of couse, adding support to the idea that everything comes around again...
such branding tactics by newsrooms had been abandoned in the 1950s, such as when the NBC Nightly News got rid of a Gulf Oil logo on the front of the set.Just because it was once considered a bad idea once doesn't mean it will be a bad idea this time. We should expect the Federal Government the not be too happy with this one. They don't like competition.
Tuesday, December 13, 2005
US and UK want to "cut and run" in Iraq
BRITAIN and America are planning a phased withdrawal of their forces from Iraq as soon as a permanent government is installed in Baghdad after this week's elections.
...a move that has caused alarm in the outgoing Iraqi administration...
...appear to run contrary to statements by President Bush...
...Foshyar Zebari, the Iraqi Foreign Minister: "Those who advocate an early withdrawal do not know what is at stake....The fate of this country and the whole region could be endangered...
Here are the numbers.
America has more than 160,000 troops...Britain about 8,000
plans are already in place for the small British contingents in the two provinces of Dhiqar and Muthana to go as early as the spring.
The Americans...are planning to pull out 30,000 by the new year and may reduce their presence below 100,000 in the coming months.
The current Iraqi leaders are not so thrilled about this. They see it as it is, they fear that Washington and London are growing weary of the bloody and costly commitment to Iraq. They make this clear:
Zebari: "The huge investment in blood and money sacrificed by the US could be squandered...There would be regional interventions by neighbouring countries and others."
Iraqi leaders fear that a premature withdrawal of foreign forces could encourage the rise of militias, leading to sectarian strife and the settling of old scores.
They know their 225,000 Iraqi soldiers and police who have now been trained for active duty in truth are mainly a bunch of unemployeed men (60% unemployement in Iraq) that have gone for a month of training and a come home with a uniform and a weapon. They know this is no secuity force that can maintain a federal government. No, I imagine they look at the current state of Aghanistan and see what is in store.
Maybe they should take a page from the US paybook and use religious fundementalism to pull the country together. And I don't think people will be arguing over "Merry Christmas" in Iraq any time soon. I still think this prospect will make Saudi Arabia and our oil very nervous.
The US seems to have blown this one real bad.
Wednesday, December 07, 2005
Fitzgerald back at work again
Fitzgerald, accompanied by several deputies seen carrying files as they walked into the grand jury area of the courthouse, made no comment to reporters about the nature of his visit.
President Bush's top political adviser, deputy White House chief of staff Karl Rove, remains under investigation.
Tuesday, December 06, 2005
On how US topples Saddam and Iran wins in Iraq
The Bush administration naively believed that Iraq was a blank slate on which it could inscribe its vision for a remake of the Arab world...Shiite religious leaders and parties, in particular, have crucially shaped the new Iraq in each of its three political phases. The first was during the period of direct American rule, largely by Paul Bremer. The second comprised the months of interim government, when Iyad Allawi was prime minister. The third stretches from the formation of an elected government, with Ibrahim Jaafari as prime minister, to today...(These quotes are only picking out one thread of the article to hilite. There is much more in the whole article.)
The oldest of these was the Dawa Party, founded in the late 1950s...Dawa means the call, as in the imperative to spread the faith...Thousands of activist Shiites from Iraq fled to Iran, and the leadership congregated in Tehran. In 1982, with the support of the Islamic Republic of Iran,...Dawa was also active there. Among its leaders was a physician from the Shiite holy city of Karbala named Ibrahim Jaafari.
In the run-up to the March 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq...the Dawa Party...engaged in consultations with Washington. When Saddam fell...Ibrahim Jaafari came from London with his colleagues and sought to organize the Dawa Party as a populist political force in the Shiite south.
Bremer intended initially to rule Iraq single-handedly...it became clear to him that he could not hope to rule Iraq by himself, and he appointed a governing council of 25 members. Ibrahim Jaafari of Dawa [was] appointed...
The real winners of the January 2005 elections were the Shiite religious parties. This was bad news for Bush...they formed a government that brought Ibrahim Jaafari of Dawa to power as prime minister...The new Jaafari government quickly established warm relations with Iran, receiving a pledge of $1 billion in aid, the use of Iranian port facilities and help with refining Iraqi petroleum.
Mr Jaafari seems to have carefully taken advantage of key opportunities along the way to find himself and Iraq where any Islamic Theocrat would want to end up. All the while Bush and the US take all the damage and blame for the miserable state of affairs that Iraq is on a daily basis. I seem to recall the Deufler report pointing out Saddam's number one concern was keeping Iran at bay. That concern is mote today; Iran and Iraq appear destined to a greater Islamic Theocratic power. I am sure, though, Saudi Arabia and its oil have nothing to worry. It is not like there is anything on the Arabian peninsula (Mecca, Medina) that would interest the clerics of Iran and Iraq.
[Update, further thoughts on the matter] The question is not can we win in Iraq, because the war in Iraq is over and Iran and the theocrats won. We just haven't figured it out and come to understand it is time to withdraw. No, the real question is can we keep Saudi Arabia and its oil.
I easily imagine the Iraq/Iran rulers must want control of the Arabian penisula, and not for the oil. The oil will be a nice benefit, with the world power it will bring. The thought of a new Islamic age must dance in their heads day and night. And can they imagine such a new age and empire without Mecca and Medina as part of it? Forget part of it, as the heart of it.
No my friends, I get the feeling we may find ourselves truly screwed at this point. Neo-con visions of a western democratic Iraq becoming a seed of change in the mideast are long gone. Undersold and understaffed, it is too late to hope for. Instead, we have been manipulated all along by Islamic theocrats to the point of letting them get a big piece in the larger puzzle they are assembling. And the final piece they want lies in the middle of the oil we need. And we seem to be running out means to counter their efforts.
I hope I am all wrong in my thinking.
These guys just can not help but to lie
I'm sure, as well, that Judge Alito is thinking of his mom, Rose, who will be 91 in December. And I know he's thinking about his late father. Samuel Alito Sr. came to this country as a immigrant from Italy in 1914. And his fine family has realized the great promise of our country.
LondonYank over at DailyKos, More Lies? Alito's Dad No Immigrant?, does a bit of digging and find this record :
ARMY SERIAL NUMBER 32186682(Go to the Army archive and enter into the Army Serial Number 32186682)
NAME ALITO SAMUEL A
RESIDENCE: STATE NEW JERSEY
RESIDENCE: COUNTY MERCER
NATIVITY NEW JERSEY
YEAR OF BIRTH 14
Do these folks just lie by instinct?