Friday, August 31, 2007

Hot


This article, which includes information supplied by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, reports that the rise in temperatures in 2006 was due to the rising level of greenhouse gas emissions.

Greenhouse gas emissions responsible for increasing US temperatures: NOAA

...In 1998 when temperatures broke records, scientists attributed it to a powerful El Niño, which was changing the climate trends globally at that time.

However this time around, scientists said greenhouse gas emissions were the culprit. Furthermore the rise in emissions was associated with a 15-fold increase in the possibility of U.S. temperatures soaring above normal.

Checking over this article from the Energy Information Administration (Official Energy Statistics for the US Government) we find:

Coal production in the United States reached a record level in 2005, ending the year at 1,131.5 million short tons, according to data from the Energy Information Administration

...total U.S. coal consumption rose in 2005...

I have no idea if there is any correlation whatsoever, but I do know that if we continue to increase burning coal for energy, and the process of burning the coal continues to release greenhouse gasses of the same magnitude, we got even bigger trouble.

Moral Imagination


If you have been following this story, you know that commuting Foster's death sentence was the right thing to do.

Texas Governor Spares Getaway Driver

Death penalty opponents had launched a public-relations campaign to save Foster because they objected to Texas's so-called law of parties, a unique statute in which each participant of a capital crime is held equally responsible. In any other state, the person who actually killed another person might be eligible for execution, but the driver or other participants might not be.

Foster's lawyer, Keith Hampton, estimated that at least a dozen other Texas death row inmates have been executed under the same law, including one this year.

What is especially curious is that the decision by the parole board to commute his execution was approved 6 to 1. You have to ask, "who the hell is that 1, and why is that person on a parole board?"

Personally I favor a movement to make Texas a separate country.

Check out the term 'moral imagination.'

"an ability to imaginatively discern various possibilities for acting in a given situation and to envision the potential help and harm that are likely to result from a given action." Johnson, M., Moral Imagination, Chicago: University of Chicago Press (1993).

I heard the term on Democracy Now. Author Mary Pipher who wrote 'Reviving Ophelia,' used the term while explaining her reasons for returning her Presidential Citation from the American Psychological Association.

At its annual convention just over a week ago, the APA's policymaking council voted overwhelmingly to reject a measure that would have banned its members from participating in interrogations at Guantanamo Bay and other US detention centers. Source

In other words the APA is assisting in torture. Bad bad juju. Hopefully they will have a moment of direct wisdom and ban such behavior. Meanwhile I'm trying to get a refund for all that therapy.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

One Hand, One Heart, Another Gay Republican

I feel bad for all these conservative Republican homosexuals and there just doesn't seem to be an end in sight to that list, no pun intended. After all, having to live with a disconnection between one's self righteous and pompous moral preachments and the reality of one's personal life, that just can't be fun, especially when it involves something so intimate as sexuality.

The problem is simple. Most people could really care less, excepting the mouth breathers but that goes without saying. I don't really care who Craig, or for that matter any other gay conservative Republican, wants to play with. Its the reeking stench of hypocrisy that makes everyone wince.

The theorem should go something like: the deeper your moral damnation of others, the higher the likelihood that you are queer and/or engaging in the activity that you are condemning.

The Republican Party has a lot of explaining to do.

In honor of Craig and all other homosexual Republicans, (Is that being redundant?) here's 'One Hand One Heart', with music by America's one and only Leonard Bernstein.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Can We Please Not Have Another War

The Iran articles are all over the board.

First an extremely scary one at Raw Story:

Study: US preparing 'massive' military attack against Iran

It points to the sort of scenario we expect: massive focussed bombing on specific Iranian targets with little to no warning. Bush gives the go and.....

Then an article that seems to send a sense of relief about the ongoing conflict:

Iran resolves plutonium issues under atom pact: IAEA

But...

Western powers embroiled in a standoff with Iran over its refusal to heed U.N. resolutions demanding it stop nuclear work say there is no way to rule out the risk Iran might have a covert military nuclear facility without the Protocol in place.

So back to article 1.

Finally this milder article which I suspect was intended to arouse suspicion, yet it reveals almost nothing:

U.S. troops reportedly detain Iranians

U.S. troops raided a Baghdad hotel Tuesday night and detained about 10 people. A U.S.-funded radio station said the group included six members of an Iranian delegation here to negotiate contacts with the Iraqis.

Iran and Iraq share a long border. I am going to venture a guess that Iranians and Iraqis have been going into each other's country for the past 50,000 years. Are we now to believe that all Iranians in Iraq are terrorists?

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Good Riddance 2


Rove and now Gonzales! Excellent. The travesty that is the Bush administration continues to unwind.

We Need Real Answers

With Iraq in a state of chaos, how in fact is peace won in that country? I resist blogging about this because my focus is about wanting the troops out of Iraq, getting past the contemptuous smoke screens of the present administration, getting past the policies of the Bush administration, and trying to find the voices of understanding and reason.

I searched around the web for some articles.

This one is from The Center for Strategic & International Studies. It may very well be as it claims to be, a bipartisan think tank, but beware of the neo-con alumni. Curiously in this article CSIS alumni Edward Luttwak calls for the civil war to play itself out.

From July 5, 2007: Civil war: the only way to bring peace to Iraq

Civil wars can be especially atrocious as neighbours kill each other at close range, but they have a purpose - they can bring lasting peace by destroying the will to fight, and by removing the motives and opportunities for further violence.

My present understanding is that Iraq is essentially now a conglomerate of feudal like war-lord states, some Sunni, many Shiite, along with Kurds, and others. The main governing body in Baghdad, Maliki and company, is virtually powerless beyond Baghdad, and whatever power it does exert sides with the Shiite in enacting long standing retribution on the Sunnis.

In this context how exactly does allowing a civil war to play out help. The problem is that there is no centralized nation to fall back on. Perhaps calling the conflict a civil war is not appropriate, as that name implies an underlying unity, a political body to fall back on. In the US there was the North and the South. There isn't a parallel structure in Iraq. There does not appear to be an underlying unity to Iraq, excepting religious affiliation. We end up with isolated groupings throughout the country, like a butcher's view of a cow, except with many more sections.

There are many articles that speak directly to how the Bush surge and strategy will not bring peace to Iraq. For example: Bush's Blood-Soaked Myths About Baghdad - Why a Troop Escalation Won't Bring Peace to Iraq By Patrick Cockburn.

However, Cockburn does offers advice on how to move towards peace;

While the White House pretends that American defeat can be avoided in Iraq, real measures to end the fighting languish. The building blocks for peace should include the appointment of a peace envoy: probably a senior official from the Arab world trusted in the US and the Middle East and acting on behalf of the UN. He should start talks about calling an international conference at which all the players inside and outside Iraq can meet.

A central theme of the conference should be the total withdrawal of US and British forces from Iraq, leaving no bases behind. Any final agreement should be in the shape of an international treaty including guarantees for minorities such as the Iraqi Kurds and Sunni. Finally Iraq should be neutralized like Austria in Europe in the 1950s.

Yet we continue to read present articles that foresee nothing but a grim and very harsh future when the US withdraws. For example: Bush left with few options, even fewer chances for success in Iraq By Warren P. Strobel.

Strobel examines a few scenarios and in one he writes about the dire warning I am talking about:

Shiite and Sunni Muslims will continue to feud. All sides will position themselves for an eventual American departure.

Strobel also writes about the hypocrisy that is at the bottom of Washington's maneuvers.

...Democrats and some Republicans may be worried that the turmoil that's likely to follow a U.S. withdrawal more likely would be blamed on a decision to retreat rather than on the president's decision to invade Iraq in the first place.

There are websites out there that are dedicated to finding the peace bridge. Education for Peace in Iraq Center

The same group's blog: The Ground Truth in Iraq

The Recent Kos article is optimistic: Why a U.S. Withdrawal would bring Peace to Iraq

Anbar has been a success, but not because of an increase in U.S. Forces in the area of because the Iraqi Military has finally at long last "stood up", it's been because the U.S. has begun to use -- gasp --- diplomacy with the local leaders and used the Sunni Militia to route out Al Qeaeda.

...but rather than artificially carving up the country like a Turkey, the residents have been gradually finding and creating their own (relatively) safe sectarian havens.

Perhaps this is what Iraq ends up as - a 1,000 piece puzzle of Shiite and Sunni moted villages, armed to the teeth and with dozens if not hundreds of conflicts with nearby moted villages. Iraq will resemble a fairy tale land out of the Grimm Brothers' midieval Europe.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Headaches, Pregnancy, Shaving, Baby Formula

The 50 top shoplifted items

Here's the top 10:

1. Advil tablet 50 ct
2. Advil tablet 100 ct
3. Aleve caplet 100 ct
4. EPT Pregnancy Test single
5. Gillette Sensor 10 ct
6. Kodak 200 24 exp
7. Similac w/iron powder - case
8. Similac w/iron powder - single can
9. Preparation H 12 ct
10. Primatene tablet 24 ct

Chart provided by Food Marketing Institute

Army of Dude


Enlisted man writes about being in Iraq

Army of Dude

The Arrow and The Cliff


Periodically I refer to this extremely wise bit of advice by Chagdud Tulku

'When someone insults us, we usually dwell on it, asking ourselves, "Why did he say that to me?" and on and on. It's as if someone shoots an arrow at us, but it falls short. Focusing on the problem is like picking up the arrow and repeatedly stabbing ourselves with it saying, "He hurt me so much. I can't believe he did that." Instead, we can use the method of contemplation to think things through differently, to change our habit of reacting with anger. Imagine that someone insults you. Say to yourself, "This person makes me angry. But what is anger? It is one of the poisons of the mind that creates negative karma, leading to intense suffering. Meeting anger with anger is like following a lunatic who jumps off a cliff. Do I have to do likewise? While it's crazy for him to act the way he does, it's even crazier for me to do the same."

Sunday, August 26, 2007

The NY Times Takes a Swing

Within two days we are seeing two of the most scathing criticisms of Bush to ever appear on the editorial pages of the nation's major newspapers.

On Friday it was the Washington Post. Like It Is

Now its the NY TImes' turn: The Problem Isn’t Mr. Maliki

The very first paragraph sums it up. The capital letters are my addition.

Blaming the prime minister of Iraq, rather than the president of the United States, for THE SPECTACULAR FAILURE OF AMERICAN POLICY, is cynical politics, pure and simple. It is neither fair nor helpful in figuring out how to end America’s biggest foreign policy fiasco since Vietnam.

9-11 to Vietnam

Robert Fisk, longtime reporter for The Independent, writes a compelling article on 9-11. Specifically he asks for more answers, writes about his conflicts with those that blame the attacks directly back on the Bushies, and he asks alarming questions about the official story which do not jive with reality.

Robert Fisk: Even I question the 'truth' about 9/11

"But what about the weird letter allegedly written by Mohamed Atta, the Egyptian hijacker-murderer with the spooky face, whose "Islamic" advice to his gruesome comrades – released by the CIA – mystified every Muslim friend I know in the Middle East? Atta mentioned his family – which no Muslim, however ill-taught, would be likely to include in such a prayer. He reminds his comrades-in-murder to say the first Muslim prayer of the day and then goes on to quote from it. But no Muslim would need such a reminder – let alone expect the text of the "Fajr" prayer to be included in Atta's letter."


Regarding Bush linking Iraq to Vietnam.

When Bush proclaimed that the problem with Vietnam was that the US did not stay longer and eventually withdrew forces, several issues come forth.

Recall that Vietnam was incredibly unpopular. There were revolts by military personnel. The drafted, the grunts, the privates were opening their weapons on the officers. There was a military rebellion of sorts.

In addition the fabric of the country was tearing. The protests were intense. All of this reflected back on politics, communities, each individual, you name it.

One major point that Bush makes poignantly clear with his comparison is that it demonstrates his bitter contempt for democracy. In a democratic society it is the majority that decide. Majority rule is the backbone of our society and its decision making process.

Like the Iraq occupation, Vietnam did not have the support of the majority of Americans. Even soldiers that went into that war with a pro-Vietnam attitude changed their minds, they did a 180 degree about face and concluded that there was no justification for US involvement.

Bush demonstrates that democracy has no place in the business of war, war of course being the gravest and most serious undertaking of any country. This attitude is wrong. This is disrespectful and contemptuous of the American people and of the basic foundations of this country.

America wants out of Iraq. Bush will go it alone and continue to abuse the power that the people of the US (mistakenly) invested in him. He will continue with his escalation and lay waste to American taxpayers resources of all manner, the most significant being the lives and bodies of the young men and women in the service.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Like It Is


Bush from the perspective of the D.C. crowd itself.

The Washington Post: Bush's Vietnam Blunder

Desperate presidents resort to desperate rhetoric....

Bush's comparison of the two conflicts...(has)... unintended consequences of a most damaging kind for a sitting president.

...Bush's speech.... played straight into his critics' most emotive arguments against him and the Republican Party.

...Iraq has become a failure even on its own terms...

The prime minister's chances of producing the "national unity" government... are now being shredded by the maneuvering for position in the twilight months of the Bush presidency.

Bush's speech fits Talleyrand's definition of something worse than a crime: It was a blunder.

Image - Japan's proposed xseed 13,000 ft super skyscraper

Klezmer

Friday, August 24, 2007

Framed

Leading Senate Republican calls for Iraq pullout to start

(Senator John Warner told)...reporters Thursday that a pullout was needed to spur Iraqi leaders to action.

There you have it. The Republicans have found the way to frame the withdrawal of troops from Iraq in a way that meets their needs. Apparently withdrawing the troops will now spur the Iraqis on to clean up the mess we made of their country.

I wonder which PR firm thought up this one. And I wonder how many of your taxpayer dollars it cost.

Hey, Warner, fine, whatever you need to say. Just get the troops out. You can even say 'mission accomplished' and then blame the rest of it on Maliki.

Half-Baked


We are experiencing record breaking heat throughout the US.

Communities are looking at ways to keep their present energy consumption levels unchanged into the next decade. (As opposed to increasing energy use, at least keep it static.)

I'm not really sure how keeping energy consumption at the present level is going to help considering the present levels are causing the problems. So its actually keeping the status quo which in itself is too high. The task is to reduce usage not keep it the same.

I found this on the BBC: Rich 'can pay poor to cut carbon'

The UN's binding global climate agreement, the Kyoto Protocol, currently requires industrialised nations to reduce the majority of emissions themselves.

But Mr de Boer said this was illogical, adding that the scale of the problem facing the world meant that countries should be allowed to invest in emission cuts wherever in the world it was cheapest.

The wealthy nations have made fortunes on the backs of third world countries, now the idea is coming forth to limit greenhouse gasses coming from third world countries. This is so that industrialized nations can maintain their greenhouse gas output at present levels and probably more. Hey, if the strategy can work to make you rich, why not use it to buy a pass on global warming.

Climate change around the world

Here are a few calculated predictions about how global warming will affect North America

Warming in western mountains is very likely to reduce snowpack, bringing more floods in winter and reduced water supplies in summer.

Increases in problems with pests, diseases and forest fires are likely.

Cities with a history of heat waves are likely to experience many more, with potential health impacts, especially for the elderly.

Rising sea levels, severe weather and storm surges, combined with population growth in coastal areas, are very likely to increase economic losses.

Painting - 'Chowderhead' by Bob Dob

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Fields of Grey


What exactly is the definition of being black in America. What constitutes being black?

From PBS: Who is Black? One Nation's Definition

"The nation's answer to the question 'Who is black?" has long been that a black is any person with any known African black ancestry."

"In the South it became known as the "one-drop rule,'' meaning that a single drop of "black blood" makes a person a black. It is also known as the "one black ancestor rule," some courts have called it the "traceable amount rule," and anthropologists call it the "hypo-descent rule," meaning that racially mixed persons are assigned the status of the subordinate group."

"Not only does the one-drop rule apply to no other group than American blacks, but apparently the rule is unique in that it is found only in the United States..."


Here is an interesting site I stumbled across:

Resistance MP3

The site has lectures on many progressive topics. The speakers include Chomsky, Zinn, Parenti, and Roy

Finally: White House Manual Details How to Deal With Protesters

The "Presidential Advance Manual," dated October 2002 with the stamp "Sensitive -- Do Not Copy," was released under subpoena to the American Civil Liberties Union as part of a lawsuit filed on behalf of two people arrested for refusing to cover their anti-Bush T-shirts at a Fourth of July speech at the West Virginia State Capitol in 2004. The techniques described have become familiar over the 6 1/2 years of Bush's presidency, but the manual makes it clear how organized the anti-protest policy really is.

Stifling dissent, removing the right of habeus corpus, prosecuting people for thought crimes, intentionally lying to go to war, spying on its citizenry in all manner of ways, expanding the use of torture...

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Cleansing

I have mentioned in previous posts that one of the reasons why there is calm in parts of Baghdad is because Sunnis have been cleansed from Shiite neighborhoods. Cleansing means killed, murdered, tortured, and otherwise forced to leave with the threat of death and violence to their families.

The trend continues: Iraqi Gunmen Kill Baby, 6 Others in Home

The Iraqi gunman is part of the Shiite militia and the baby and six others are Sunnis.

Closing out a three-day visit to Baghdad, French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner said the United States could not bring peace to Iraq without help. He said Iraqi leaders expressed hope France would play a role.

It appears that the new conservative rulers of France unlike their predecessors, will be chummy with Bush.

One last comment: Listening to Journalist Nir Rosen on Democracy Now Tuesday morning, he mentioned one of those very special American catch 22's.

Rosen said that Iraqi families are often forced to pay essentially extortion fees in order to keep family members alive. Turns out that America will not allow the people who have paid those extortion monies into the USA as refugees. The reason, because they have paid extortion money they have given money to terrorists!!!!! They have aided the enemy - terrorists. Hello Washington DC, anyone home - anyone got a brain?

Sentence, Just the Facts

The latest news has Michael Vick agreeing to a plea deal. He faces a sentence of from 16 months to 2 years.

Prior to the plea deal, the sentence could have been up to 5 years in prison plus substantial fines.

Vick agrees to plea in dogfighting case

A statement signed by Phillips as part of his plea agreement said Vick participated in the execution of about eight dogs, some by drowning and hanging.

Here are some sentences that were handed out as a result of the torture and abuse of prisoners at Abu Ghraib:

Abu Ghraib Sentence: Six Months Sabrina Harman Was Convicted On 6 Counts Of Mistreating Inmates

England sentenced to 3 years for prison abuse Soldier dishonorably discharged for Abu Ghraib scandal

8 years for Abu Ghraib soldier

The highest-ranking U.S. soldier charged in the Abu Ghraib prison abuse scandal in Iraq has been sentenced to eight years in prison.

Its a fascinating comparison and might be examined in more depth. Dog abuse would probably cross all partisan lines in terms of all parties being appalled at the thought of abusing dogs in the way that Vick did.

On the other hand, Republicans were amused at the abuse in Abu Ghraib. I recall Limbaugh calling it nothing more than the equivalent of a college prank.

Those responsible for Abu Ghraib, meaning those who orchestrated the abuse, will serve no time whatsoever, of course. How do we measure the degree of this obscenity and abuse?

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Ali G interviews Andy Rooney

Borat rises as Ali G and p's off Rooney. Didn't Rooney know he was being yanked?

Monday, August 20, 2007

Another Perspective

This NYT article is making the rounds of the political blogs:

The War as We Saw It

It is written by 7 soldiers from the 82nd Airborne Division, who are at the end of a 15 month deployment in Iraq.


....The ability of... American observers to safely walk down the streets of formerly violent towns is not a resounding indicator of security.

(Note: Recall William Kristol praising the calm and obvious progress as he walked selected Iraqi streets.)

...we see that a vast majority of Iraqis feel increasingly insecure...

There will be no magnanimous solutions that please every party the way we expect, and there will be winners and losers.

..the most important front in the counterinsurgency, improving basic social and economic conditions, is the one on which we have failed most miserably.

Four years into our occupation, we have failed on every promise...

...we need to recognize that our presence may have released Iraqis from the grip of a tyrant, but that it has also robbed them of their self-respect......

The article indicates a sense of responsibility for the quality of life that the Iraqis experience. In this way it expresses a humanistic perspective that continues to be completely lacking in political and main stream media reports.

Being robbed of self respect is something that I connect with the values of the authoritarian. The authoritarian personality is at the root of the Bush administration.

If we look at torture used on the Gitmo prisoners, on Jose Padilla, at Abu Graib, and other black sites, we see that removing self respect is of primary importance. In this context, there is a sense that Iraqis are experiencing the effects of torture. How could it be any other way when they witness the violent decay of their society and simultaneously try to live as ordinary people.

I have never believed that the benefit and well being of the general population is at the core of the political agenda in Washington. Only when this occurs, when this core value truly returns to politics, will the political structures of the US be regarded as not corrupt and as having desirable value in people's lives.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

They Call This Progress in Iraq


This article goes into detail about the present conditions in a section of Baghdad called Hurriyah.

Shiite Militia Expands Grip in Baghdad

At one time, both Shiites and Sunnis lived together in Hurriyah. The Sunnis were essentially thrown out (i.e. killed or forced out) by the Shiite militia. Many many "civil war" deaths later, that Shiite militia now controls Hurriyah.

Shiites are living in the apartments and housing that was abandoned by the Sunnis. As a result of the cleansing of Sunnis, resettling of more Shiite, and intense control by the Shiite militia, this area of Baghdad is relatively calm. The calm occurs because there are no more Sunnis to kill or remove from Hurriyah. In my opinion this is like calling the aftermath of a bombing, a period of calmness. This is a bitter and reframed definition of the word calm as only those in high positions know how to create.

Here are a few quotes from the article:

"They (the Shiite militia) control people's lives..."

"They are worse than the Baathists"

"Hurriyah is a very beautiful place...But unfortunately, it fell in the hands of gangs."

Oh yeah, the Shiite militia is called the Mahdi Army. The leader of that militia is none other than Muqtada al-Sadr, alleged enemy of the U.S.

The Result of War and The Run Up to War


U.S. Military Deaths in Iraq at 3,705

As of Friday, Aug. 17, 2007, at least 3,705 members of the U.S. military have died since the beginning of the Iraq war in March 2003.....

At least 3,046 died as a result of hostile action.....

Subtracting 3,046 from 3,705 means that 659 troops died as a result of "non hostile" action. Off the top of my head, I'm thinking, suicide, friendly fire, disease, fragging, must be other reasons as well. Since when are these things non hostile?

Iran has responded to the Bush administration classifying the Iran military as a terrorist organization.

Iran's Guards: We'll 'Punch' US

Can someone explain to me the intelligence behind escalating war talk. Here I'm thinking war is the ultimate breakdown of intelligence.

Painting by Vasarely

Contrast


One of my favorite sites is The White House website.

Its extremely informative. For example, President Bush has just issued congratulations to former Republican House Speaker Dennis Hastert.

President Bush Congratulates Denny Hastert on Congressional Career

The congratulations are formal, and as such do not go into the specific details of Hastert's career.

Hastert has announced that he will be retiring from Congress and not seeking reelection. He is part of a wave of Republican politicians who have announced their retirement in recent days.

Contrast the congratulations with this story from The Nation magazine:

The Worst House Speaker in American History

"Ultimately, however, the greatest horror of Hastert's... was defined by the remaking of an essential legislative chamber as nothing more than an extension of the executive branch of the government. The damage to the Congress has been severe, as has been the damage to the Republic.

Hastert was the "rubber stamp" Speaker of the House. From Iraq, to the absent efforts after Katrina, to abuses of power, scandals, and to extreme partisanship all this is Hastert's legacy.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Guilty and Broken


Thursday, Jose Padilla was found guilty of supporting terrorism overseas.

Jury finds Padilla guilty on terror charges

Padilla was taken into custody in Chicago as he stepped off a flight from Pakistan in 2002, and Bush declared him an "enemy combatant" and had him transferred to military custody. He was never charged as an "enemy combatant" and was eventually transferred from military to civilian custody where he was finally charged.

The Supreme Court ducked the chance to rule on the legality of Padilla's military detention in 2006, arguing that the issue was moot after his transfer to civilian custody for the Miami trial.

Apparently Padilla's fate was sealed when his fingerprints were found on an Al Qaeda form. You have to wonder how a CIA officer got ahold of that form. Also the alleged form was not filled out. Be careful what you handle, touching the wrong thing can be detrimental.

The disturbing part of the story was heard Thursday morning on Democracy Now. There is virtually no mention in the MSM of the depth and intensity of the torture that Padilla experienced while being held in isolation for years.

An Inside Look at How U.S. Interrogators Destroyed the Mind of Jose Padilla

"Padilla's cell measured nine feet by seven feet. The windows were covered over... He had no pillow. No sheet. No clock. No calendar. No radio. No television. No telephone calls. No visitors. Even Padilla's lawyer was prevented from seeing him for nearly two years."

According to his attorneys, Padilla was routinely tortured in ways designed to cause pain, anguish, depression and ultimately the loss of will to live.

His lawyers have claimed that Padilla was forced to take LSD and PCP to act as a sort of truth serum during his interrogations.

Also: DR. ANGELA HEGARTY: He’s no longer a person. He’s no longer an individual. There will be no record that he was ever there, that the interrogators -- this is from my knowledge of torture around the world -- that the interrogators essentially will be absolutely immune to any accountability.

If you listen to the segment, prepare yourself for hearing about the most sophisticated methods to completely break and brain damage a human being.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

A Perpetual War on Terror as the Economic Engine

Bush has designated Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps as a terrorist group.

US targets Iran's Revolutionary Guards

"...Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps, the country's 125,000-strong military branch..."

The Guards would be the first national military branch included on the list... a highly unusual move because it is part of a government, rather than a typical non-state terrorist organisation.

Listening to Democracy Now, Wednesday morning, Naomi Klein compared the "war on terror" to the "dot com boom" of the 90's. In the context that Naomi describes, we can see that increasing the size of the terror network, now by 125,000 from a national military, is desirable.

Naomi Klein on Democracy Now

"...the Bush administration used the dislocation of 9/11 to pursue the very same pre-9/11 radical capitalist project, now with a furious vengeance, under the cover of war and natural disasters... Bush sent in Paul Bremer to seize new markets on the battlefields of his preemptive war. He didn’t have to negotiate with anyone. He just rewrote the country's entire economic architecture in one swoop. But, of course, if you said that the war had anything to do with economics, you were dismissed as naïve. It was, of course, about security, about liberating Iraqis from Saddam."

**** "...everything from waging wars to reconstructing from those wars to disaster response became an entirely for-profit venture. This was a bold evolution of market logic. Rather than the ’90s approach of selling off existing public companies, like water and electricity, the Bush team was creating a whole new framework for its actions. That framework was and is the war on terror, which was built to be private, privately managed from the start. The Bush administration played the role of a kind of a venture capitalist for the startup security companies (that venture capital is taxpayer money or ultimately taxpayer debt- Sande), and they created an economic boom on par with the dotcom boom of the 1990s. But we didn’t talk about it, because we were too busy talking about security."

Recently I find myself coming back to wanting a new investigation into the attacks of 9-11. What Klein is discussing is something that is far too complicated to implement in 1.5 years, September 2001 to March of 2003. The Project for a New Amercian Century only takes it to the level of military dominance. We must assume that simultaneously think tanks were working on the economic implications of creative destruction as it is applied to the invasion of nations.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Rove Moment

Rove has a weepy moment on Monday announcing his Bush-squad retirement. A shocking display was it not! Comparable to a scene out of Fellini.

The man has maliciously bathed in dividing the country along ideological lines, promoting an immoral war, transferring our collective tax money into the hands of the greediest individuals ( i.e. corporate CEOs) that ever existed on this planet, and on and on and on. He is a colosal tick on the underbelly of equality.

And he gets all weepy about it. In another time, he might be drawn and quartered or perhaps hanged by an enraged mob. Not many would try to stop it. Rove benefits from the civility of most Americans. One can be sure his own interest in expanding torture exposes his complete lack of civility or humanity.

Music to purge by....

Ravi Shankar

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Good News ( for a change)

I saw the link to this article on The Raw Story, one of my favorite news sites.

Canadian team discovers gene that turns cancers off

A unique gene that can stop cancerous cells from multiplying into tumours has been discovered by a team of scientists at the B.C. Cancer Agency in Vancouver.

The team, led by Dr. Poul Sorensen, says the gene has the power to suppress the growth of human tumours in multiple cancers, including breast, lung and liver.

Curious that this article appears the same day as the one about Rove resigning. Hopefully there will be a third bit of good news.

Rove to Resign - Good Riddance

Rove to Resign

Now if only Cheney and Bush would do likewise........

I can't possibly mask my contempt for Rove. My own personal nickname for him is the ass whisperer.

Cheney says - DO NOT INVADE IRAQ!

Dick Cheney explains why we should NOT invade Iraq!! Something every single American needs to see.

Monday, August 13, 2007

The Iraq Drain


Periodically the Pentagon issues a statement about how it has lost track of hundreds of thousands of weapons in Iraq. Recall the images of Iraqis rummaging through unguarded ammunition dumps in the early stages of the war.

Keeping this is mind, recall how the MSM trumpets the calls of the Bush administration and its right wing base, to blame Iran for the deaths of American troops in Iraq by supplying weapons to the 'insurgency.' In the main stream media 1 plus 1 does not equal 2, it usually equals 3. An obvious question might be - how many American troops were killed in Iraq not because of weapons supplied by Iran, but by weapons 'mismanaged' or 'misplaced' by the US itself.

This story appears in The Guardian Unlimited, a British newspaper which during the run up to shock and awe actually ran articles that criticized the invasion. It was one of the very few larger English language newspapers that did so.

Fatigue cripples US army in Iraq

"Hanna and his men are not alone in being tired most of the time. A whole army is exhausted and worn out. You see the young soldiers washed up like driftwood at Baghdad's international airport, waiting to go on leave or returning to their units, sleeping on their body armour on floors and in the dust."

....'We should just be allowed to tell the media what is happening here. Let them know that people are worn out. So that their families know back home. But it's like we've become no more than numbers now.'

...'We're plodding through this,' he says after another patrol and another ambush in the city centre. 'I don't know how much more plodding we've got left in us.'

As I have mentioned before, soldiers are taking the brunt of the occupation in spades. What will the cost and toll to this generation be - broken marriages, broken bodies, broken minds, broken spirits.

As of Saturday August 11, the death toll for American soldiers in Iraq grows and now stands at 3,689.

addendum: A huge story is coming through about how the Italian mafia was supplying weapons to Iraq - Italy probe unearths huge Iraq arms deal

"The purchase would merely have been the most spectacular example of how Iraq has become a magnet for arms traffickers and a place of vanishing weapons stockpiles and uncontrolled gun markets since the 2003 U.S. invasion and the onset of civil war."

More evidence of how the insurgency is acquiring weapons. This all flies in the face of the official blame it on Iran theme. This will not deter Bush one iota from telling the American public his own special version of 'reality.'

image: contemporary Iraq art

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Iran is Step 2


The news keeps returning to threats from the Bush administration to bomb Iran. Cheney is of course a firm proponent of widening the occupation of Iraq to include Iran.

In the past the Bush administration has drawn its foreign policy agenda from the neo-conservative think tanks. The Project for a New American Century receives less attention these days as its alumni have crept over to other neo-conservative think tanks like the Heritage Foundation and the American Enterprise Institute.

However reviewing the Project for a New American Century salient document 'Rebuilding America's Defenses' or PNAC as it is called, we see the call for the invasion of Iran. The invasion of Iraq was also defined in the PNAC document.

Cheney continues to remain on message with the points found in this document and Bush continues to ride the neo-conservative agenda.

The Iraq occupation is described in all lackluster terms imaginable ranging from utter failure to mismanaged mess to Vietnam-like quagmire. Iran is a far more complex and vibrant society than Iraq. Iran is far more coordinated militarily than Iraq. Iran has not been subjected to years and years of an intense embargo. Iran has not been subjected to bombing missions for the last ten years as Iraq was prior to the American invasion.

Common sense would indicate that an Iran invasion would not produce a fast 'victory.' Common sense would indicate that the invasion of Iran would produce a greater quagmire than the present quagmire in Iraq. Will common sense win out over the pressure of the neo-conservative agenda and can our Congress find enough spine to assert its will and reject an invasion of Iran.

Photo: young women in Iran

Saturday, August 11, 2007

No End in Sight

A documentary on Iraq that has the White House a little nervous.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Satie

Satie makes the more exotic scale tones sound ethereal.

"Although our information is false, we do not vouch for it." Erik Satie

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Gulf News

There are many problems with the MSM in America. One of its main distortions is that it is owned and operated for profit by powerful corporations. Contrary to what George Bush would have us believe, corporations are not democratic entities. They are not operating in order to further the humanistic and egalitarian qualities in our society. They are there to maximize the bucks.

So reading the news in America is tricky. There are certain things one must take for granted.

For example if there is a statement made by the Pentagon, or State Department, or White House, one can assume that it is riddled with "non truths." Prior to the Bush Adminstration non truths were called lies.

Also you can assume news released on friday night or saturday is almost always harmful to the political status quo. These are the days when the least number of people read the news. Its a case of playing the popularity numbers game.

Periodically I like to read The Gulf News

You'll get the usual stories that we hear on the radio and on TV about Iraq. For example the fact that American soldiers in Iraq are now there in peak all time numbers. Add into that number, the silent number, i.e. the unreported number of mercenaries from Blackwater and such, and who knows maybe there's about 500,000 total. Pot shot guess.

Here's a modest story from the Gulf News - Baghdad curfew announced

Baghdad: A three-day vehicle ban and a curfew will be imposed across Baghdad starting on Wednesday night as authorities seek to protect Shiite pilgrims gathering for a major religious festival.

The ban comes as Iraq's prime minister seeks to maintain control of his government, which has plunged into deeper crisis following the withdrawal of nearly half of the cabinet.

Three things come immediately to mind.

First can you imagine the uproar if this were to occur in the USA - A curfew along with a three day ban on all cars in Chicago.

Second it points out something about the character of the Iraqis. At this festival last year, many were killed from the ongoing civil war violence. Yet they will return again this year out of a religious imperative.

Third, it looks like the 'George Bush brings democracy to Iraq theme' is completely in the dumpster. Is anyone surprized by that fact.

Addendum: Isn't it about time to see Bush's new approval rating at around 23%? Why is Congress so soft in its response to Bush's power grabs?

Monday, August 06, 2007

Dark Day

Its another dark episode in the history of America. Another nail is hammered into the coffin of a free and open society.

Congress gives Bush administration more eavesdropping leeway

...the attorney general and the director of national intelligence (are granted) the authority to approve all wiretaps, even if one party is in the United States, with minimal court oversight.

Let's see, a president who has distinguished himself as being the worst president in US history, grabbing power at every opportunity, foisting an illegal and immoral war on the American people and the Iraqi people, and an attorney general whose sole purpose is greasing the wheels of the worst president. This dynamo of destruction can now legally wiretap you.

Next a Congress which was elected to put a stop to the worst president's 'policy' disgraces, hands that same worst president more unchecked power. Can you make a recommendation for another country to move to?

George Bush and Gonzales are in your bedroom, computer, phone, bank records, health records, driving records, credit card records, pretty much anything that has a document or physical structure. Smile for the cameras. Hey they can't read your mind, quite yet, so cheer up.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Yoga - Iyengar in 1938

B K S Iyengar is a yoga master. His style of yoga is now simply known as 'Iyengar.' Some students of yoga might say that they practice 'Iyengar yoga.' This is a clip from 1938. The postures that he demonstrates are extremely advanced.

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Democracy is Coming

There is a video clip making the rounds of the internet where Senator Dodd of Connecticut argues with BillO about the Daily Kos and its upcoming annual meeting which brings together progressives from around the country. Dodd defends the Daily Kos and O'Reilly predictably smears it.

O'Reilly consistently has it wrong. Judging by the tone of his voice, he seems to be playing the role of the devil's advocate. At best he is doing a weak job of reading his talking points.

The real reason why the Daily Kos event is important and of immense value is simple. This gathering is what democracy really looks like, people peacefully assembling to discuss the issues of great importance in their own lives, in their own society, and how to gain the power necessary to affect positive change. Its a beautiful thing.

This is what happens in a democracy Bill. People are allowed to speak their minds no matter how disturbing that might be because we have freedom of expression. And for record Bill, your daily gibberish is well into that same disturbing zone. In fact it is unconscionable.

The gathering also rouses fear in the failed daddy war party because it is something they can't control. O'Reilly seeks to control it by heaping negativity on it and attempting to marginalize it. That strategy will not work, because the momentum of the progressive net roots is much too great and dedicated.

In short this is also the explanation for why corporations want to privatize the internet. Corporations also fear the arising of democracy. All of a sudden you have people asking the really scary questions like - "how come you don't want unions", "how are you dealing with all that pollution", "why are you wrecking the environment", "why do your workers not have health benefits", "why are you contributing massive sums of money to the Heritage Foundation and the American Enterprise Institute when these think tanks have pushed an illegal, immoral, and disastrous war."

Authoritarians and dinosaurs need to take note. Democracy is coming to the USA. Daily Kos is leading the charge.

Friday, August 03, 2007

Naked Privacy

Gonzales remains the Attorney General because of President Bush alone. Of the many topics that he is unwilling to discuss in his testimonies, it is the surveillance programs that may be the most destructive to a free and open American society - Support for Attorney General Gonzales slips further

Large-scale data mining has long been controversial in the US, due to its potential for infringement on basic civil liberties. One post-9/11 effort, the Pentagon's Information Awareness Office, had its funds cut off by Congress in 2003 following criticism by the American Civil Liberties Union and others that it went too far.

The publicly admitted outlines of the terrorist surveillance program are "only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the NSA's spying on the American public,"...

What is the rest of the iceberg?

Is there any logical reasoning behind the surveillance programs from the point of view of intercepting terrorist communications? Robert Parry points out some fundamental incongruencies -

Can anyone really imagine a conversation like “Gee, Osama, since Bush has to get FISA approval, we can now call our sleeper agents and plan the next attack.”

Similarly, there’s no reason to think terrorists would change their behavior significantly if they knew that the U.S. government was engaged in massive data-mining operations, poring through electronic records of citizens and non-citizens alike.

The 9/11 attackers mostly stayed off the grid and many of their transactions, such as renting housing, would not alone have raised suspicions. Indeed, the patterns that deserved more attention, such as enrollment in flight-training classes and the arrival of known al-Qaeda operatives, were detected by alert FBI agents in the field but ignored by FBI officials in Washington – and by Bush while on a month-long vacation in Texas.

The 9/11 attacks were less a failure of intelligence than a failure of political attention by Bush’s national security team.

Bush's Secret Spying on Americans By Robert Parry August 2, 2007

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Disingenuous

Cheney Says He Was Wrong About Iraq Insurgency in `Last Throes'

Cheney now admits he was wrong about his last throes in Iraq comment. No big deal there, we all knew he was wrong even back then.

However, if you read the article you stumble across this:

Still, Cheney said he stands by the Bush administration's Iraq strategy, and that Iraqis are making ``significant progress'' as a result of the deployment of more U.S. forces.

It was Cheney in collusion with all the neo-conservatives under the guise of the Project for a New American Century that pushed the politics that started the Iraq occupation/civil war/mayhem.

Cheney has a history of extremist right wing militaristic experience in politics. He is at the center of the monstrosity we call the Bush administration.

Harsh

Is the summer heat making the news harsher?

Film legends Bergman and Antonioni die. Sorry to see them go. They created a tremendous body of work which is so admired by the students of film and film making.

Rupert Murdoch apparently now owns almost everything in the world. If you want a real taste of Rupert Murdoch try stomaching a read of the neo-conservative rag 'The Weekly Standard,' one of Murdoch's most prominent pieces of propaganda. Its the home of editor William Kristol, PNAC designer and one of the main reasons why we are in the massive mess in Iraq.

Alberto Gonzoles might get impeached. Apparently Bush has too much personal garbage on House Democrats, ah the benefits of warrantless wire tapping, and so rather than impeach Bush, who has lowered the bar to the level of impeachment more so than any other, they go after the worst Attorney General in US history.

Pat Tillman was probably murdered. Its called fragging. That would be the military term for killing a soldier usually one in your own unit, usually this is done in collaboration with others.

20,000 more US troops are going into Iraq. After all this time the war is being escalated even further. All that we now know about the phoney reasons for entering and invading, all of the failures, deaths, squandering of resources, mass disapproval, and on and on and on. Yet the President chooses to accelerate his blindfolded, wrong way down the one way street which leads to the cliff edge, yahoo method of inventing "victory." Hey what does he have to lose, only your kids and your resources.