Tuesday, September 06, 2005

YWA on hold

This isn't working very well, is it? I'm simply unable to find the time and money to keep up the blog at this point. I apologize, but I'm going to have to suspend blogging for the time I'm teaching here in Mexico.

It turns out that the situation is very different from what we were led to believe. The company who placed us made it sound like the students were learning English in school and were paying the company employing us for lessons outside school, essentially for conversational purposes. In fact, the students don't get English classes in school. That's where we come in - to fill that hole - for those who can afford it, of course.

I was lucky enough to have only two afternoon classes until yesterday when another class was added. The other teacher here in Peribán has four afternoon classes. Fortunately for us, neither has any morning classes yet. We've been told that adults will often wait until after Independence Day (September 16) to enroll - for what reason, I can't tell you. Neither of us speaks much Spanish, and while the other teacher definitely understands more than I do, she sometimes doesn't get the details. The company that placed us also told us that the director of the school speaks English - she does not - and that the Peribán secretary understands and speaks a little - she does not. We rely on various neighbors whom we see from time to time that speak a little English to help us get around. The only school personnel who speak English are in a town some distance from us, and since we don't have a telephone or fax yet, it's kind of tricky.

We have different levels of courses, so that we spend a lot of time preparing detailed outlines of each class. There's no time between classes to do anything but collect our frazzled wits and greet the next class, which has a different coursework - unlike "normal" teachers, who generally teach one course to numerous classes. Very challenging. So far, we spend most of the day and long hours into the night preparing. Maybe it will get easier.

At any rate, all I can manage at the internet cafe is to check my email and glance at the news. I thought I might be able to download and work at home, as I mentioned in an earlier post, but that's not happening.

My sincere apologies to those of you who have stuck with YWA. As I've said before, the links in the sidebar are to excellent blogs and sources. Please use them.

Many thanks, and many blessings.


And for those of you who would like to be informed if and when YWA cranks up again, please send me an email with your email address at: ywaciv at yahoo.com

....but hey, do what you want....you will anyway.

Saturday, September 03, 2005

Meanwhile in Iraq

In the largest urban assault since the siege of Fallujah last November, more than 5,000 U.S. and Iraqi troops entered this northern city before dawn Friday. But the 45-minute firefight at day's end suggested that the insurgents who have controlled much of Tall Afar for almost a year would not relinquish it easily.

  MSNBC article

Chávez offers aid to America's poor

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez offered to send food and fuel to the United States after the powerful Hurricane Katrina pummeled the US south, ravaging US crude production.

The leftist leader, a frequent critic of the United States and a target himself of US disapproval, said Venezuela could send aid workers with drinking water, food and fuel to US communities hit by the hurricane.

"We place at the disposition of the people of the United States in the event of shortages -- we have drinking water, food, we can provide fuel," Chavez told reporters.

Chavez said fuel could be sent to the United States via a Citgo refinery that has not been affected by the hurricane. Citgo is owned by Venezuela's state-owned oil company, Petroleos de Venezuela (PDVSA).


Last week, Chavez offered discount gasoline to poor Americans suffering from high oil prices and on Sunday offered free eye surgery for Americans without access to health care.

  Agence France via Radio Left blog

New Orleans update

Apparently things went from bad to worse. We don't have TV here. Well, we have a TV, and we have a cable. We just don't have any service. Supposedly we'll get it some day. Probably whenever they get us a telephone line.

I wonder if Mr. War President won't yet get to preside over a big war: at home.

I'm sure you are getting more news about what's happening in New Orleans that I am, so there's not much point in posting any links to any stories of the human disaster it is. So I'll just throw in somem commentaries.

Paul Krugman, not surprisingly, criticizes the current administration.
Before 9/11 the Federal Emergency Management Agency listed the three most likely catastrophic disasters facing America: a terrorist attack on New York, a major earthquake in San Francisco and a hurricane strike on New Orleans. "The New Orleans hurricane scenario," The Houston Chronicle wrote in December 2001, "may be the deadliest of all." It described a potential catastrophe very much like the one now happening.

So why were New Orleans and the nation so unprepared? After 9/11, hard questions were deferred in the name of national unity, then buried under a thick coat of whitewash. This time, we need accountability.

First question: Why have aid and security taken so long to arrive?


There will and should be many questions about the response of state and local governments; in particular, couldn't they have done more to help the poor and sick escape? But the evidence points, above all, to a stunning lack of both preparation and urgency in the federal government's response.

Even military resources in the right place weren't ordered into action. "On Wednesday," said an editorial in The Sun Herald in Biloxi, Miss., "reporters listening to horrific stories of death and survival at the Biloxi Junior High School shelter looked north across Irish Hill Road and saw Air Force personnel playing basketball and performing calisthenics. Playing basketball and performing calisthenics!"

Maybe administration officials believed that the local National Guard could keep order and deliver relief. But many members of the National Guard and much of its equipment - including high-water vehicles - are in Iraq. "The National Guard needs that equipment back home to support the homeland security mission," a Louisiana Guard officer told reporters several weeks ago.

Second question: Why wasn't more preventive action taken? After 2003 the Army Corps of Engineers sharply slowed its flood-control work, including work on sinking levees. "The corps," an Editor and Publisher article says, citing a series of articles in The Times-Picayune in New Orleans, "never tried to hide the fact that the spending pressures of the war in Iraq, as well as homeland security - coming at the same time as federal tax cuts - was the reason for the strain."

In 2002 the corps' chief resigned, reportedly under threat of being fired, after he criticized the administration's proposed cuts in the corps' budget, including flood-control spending.

Third question: Did the Bush administration destroy FEMA's effectiveness?


"Conservatives" are apparently promoting a race war.
"New Orleans was ripe for collapse. Its dangerous geography, combined with a dangerous culture, made it susceptible to an unfolding catastrophe. Currents of chaos and lawlessness were running through the city long before this week, and they were bound to come to the surface under the pressure of natural disaster and explode in a scene of looting and mayhem."


"Like riotous Los Angeles since the 1960s, New Orleans has been a wasteland of politically correct dysfunction for decades -- public schools so obviously decimated vouchers were proposed this year (and torpedoed by the left), barbaric gangster rap culture no one will confront lest they offend liberal pieties, multiculturalist frauds who empower no one but themselves, and cops neutered by the NAACP and ACLU."

  Raw Story article

It began, fittingly enough, with jazz from New Orleans natives Harry Connick Jr. and Wynton Marsalis. But "A Concert for Hurricane Relief," a heartfelt and dignified benefit airing on NBC and other networks last night, took an unexpected turn, thanks to outspoken rapper Kanye West.

Appearing two-thirds through the program, West claimed, "George Bush doesn't care about black people," and said America is set up "to help the poor, the black people, the less well-off as slow as possible."

The show, simulcast from New York on NBC, MSNBC, CNBC and Pax, aired live on the East Coast, enabling the Grammy-winning rapper's outburst to go out uncensored.

Comedian Mike Myers was paired with West for a 90-second segment that began with Myers speaking of Katrina's devastation. Then, to Myers' evident surprise, West began a rant by saying, "I hate the way they portray us in the media. If you see a black family, it says they're looting. See a white family, it says they're looking for food."

NBC said in a statement that West's comments were unscripted and "in no way represent the views of the networks."

  NY Daily News article

I don't think we needed to be told.

LaBelle writes:
Watching the abandonment of those poor people in New Orleans is enough
to make me want to crawl in a hole and cover my head. I can't even describe how angry I am. That asshole on the radio program Tamie at the office listens to just sickened me beyond belief today. His comment on seeing the images from NO - "It looks like Africa." Exactly the reason they are dying on the streets there - no water, no food, no buses to get them the hell out of there. I heard one woman today say it's natures way of weeding out the undesirable! I really wanted to punch her stupid face. Tony Messenger is calling for the city of Columbia to offer up the Hearnes Center for a shelter for some of these people. Like that's going to happen. Ye gods - they're BLACK people. POOR BLACK people. We have enough problems with our own POOR BLACK people. Can't be bringing in any more.

The rescue of the people of New Orleans is a major fuck up. And that asshole in the oval office says no one thought the levees wouldn't hold!!!


Oh, and another thing - all that inadequately armored equipment the Louisiana National Guard had to take with them to Iraq would have worked just fine for rescue purposes in their home state, don't you think? Not to mention all the soldiers over there who have no idea what's happened to their families back home. And you can bet they are the very ones who are stranded, dying or dead already in New Orleans right now.

And while I'm ranting, I'll just take on the Tribune. [Ed: Local Columbia, Missouri, newspaper.] Big headline in tonight's paper - Mexico family takes in refugees (that
would be Mexico, Missouri :) ) I read the article. Those 'refugees' were Tulane students [...]. They were from Maryland, Illinois and Conneticut. Now they
could just go HOME. To call them "refugees" was ridiculous.

As I always say, a good story can never be embellished enough.

Jody comments:
Katrina has sent a warning about US vulnerability and we
will see the disconnect between Bush's words and actions and the breakdown of the overall social contract, while people begin to make smarter choices of where and how to live and communities realize they need to become more self-sufficient.
And, lastly, just let me remind you that there's a little problem when your patriotic neighbors hammer you with comments about our wonderful army that exists to protect you. Maybe it does....if you're white and support the power structure.
Louisiana Governor Kathleen Blanco said the 300 troopers from the Arkansas National Guard had been authorised to open fire on "hoodlums" who terrorised the flooded city in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.

The deployment came amid intense criticism of the Bush Administration for a tardy response to the disaster, which is feared to have killed thousands and left hundreds of thousands stranded and homeless.

"These troops are fresh back from Iraq, well trained, experienced, battle tested, and under my orders to restore order in the streets," Ms Blanco said.

"They have M-16s and they are locked and loaded.

"These troops know how to shoot and kill, and are more than willing to do so if necessary. And I expect they will."

  Herald Sun article

I wonder...with the same indiscriminate rush? "More than willing."
Dana Milbank in the WaPo:
“I’m looking forward to my trip down there,” President Bush said in the White House driveway yesterday morning before leaving to tour the storm wreckage.

Something must have happened in flight, because when he arrived in Mobile, Ala., two hours later, he reported: “I’m not looking forward to this trip.”
And evidently all helicopters were grounded for the duration of the Clueless One’s visit.

  WIIIAI post

(Update: Dennis Kucinich: “Indifference is a weapon of mass destruction.”)


Bush is going on a tour, but promises not to enjoy it: “I’m not looking forward to this trip. ... It’s as if the entire Gulf Coast were obliterated by the worst kind of weapon you can imagine”. Stupidity?

  WIIIAI post

I'll bite.

New Orleans headlines at Raw Story:

MoveOn makes available 42,000 beds for Katrina survivors

Halliburton gets Katrina contract, hires former FEMA director

Homeland Security won't let Red Cross deliver food

July 2005 article reveals New Orleans told poor: 'You're on your own'

Questions of racism in hurricane photo captions; Yahoo responds

Typhoon in China

Maybe the U.S. can't manage to evacuate Louisiana's citizens, but China can manager hers.
China evacuated more than 790,000 people as powerful Typhoon Talim slammed into its east coast yesterday after barrelling across Taiwan, where it left three dead and dozens injured.

  SMH Australia article

Mother earth is rockin' and rollin'. The Red Sky prophecy is probably looking pretty spot on to the Native Americans about now.

Rove greets the war promoters

Driving his own pickup, with two trucks blockading both sides of the street, Bush Administration Senior Political Advisor and Deputy Chief of Staff, Karl Rove made a surprise sunset visit/photo-op Tuesday night to the half dozen or so Bush supporters camped across the street from "Camp Casey" in Crawford [...]


The BRAD BLOG has obtained exclusive photographs from Rove's quick glad-handing and back-patting with the few pro-war, pro-Bush stalwarts who were manning a counter-protest site across the street from Sheehan's original camp.

Rove did not meet with any of the dozens of Iraq and Afghan war vets, nor the Gold Star Family members who'd lost loved ones in those wars who were present in Crawford to support Sheehan's request to meet with Bush for an explanation of the "noble cause" that he's suggested their loved ones had died for.

  Brad Blog article

....but hey, do what you want....you will anyway.

Calfornia should expect the next big disaster

God's on the warpath, don't they recognize that?
SACRAMENTO – The state Senate became the first legislative chamber in the nation to pass a measure that would legalize same-sex marriage, setting up a showdown next week in the Assembly, which rejected the proposal just three months ago.


The Democratic-controlled Senate approved the measure 21-15, with a bare majority of the 40-member house. All votes in favor of the bill came from Democrats[..]


Godless heathens.

Iran coming up

The U.N. nuclear watchdog said on Friday questions remained about Iran's nuclear programme and confirmed it had resumed activities suspended under a deal with the EU, setting the stage for possible referral to the U.N. Security Council.


The report, authored by IAEA chief Mohamed ElBaradei, said: "In view of the fact that the Agency is not yet in a position to clarify some of the important outstanding issues after two and a half years of intensive inspections and investigation, Iran's full transparency is indispensable and overdue."


Yeah, well let us get Katrina behind us. Or maybe if we're not putting much effort into that, it won't keep us from Iran. But, what with our attacks near the Syrian border, we're getting an awful lot on our plate.

Friday, September 02, 2005

A quick post from Mexico

I'm trying to read the news and answer emails in between preparing and teaching classes, and it's kind of tight. As it is, I'm up early and in bed after midnight every night. But the major problem is the lack of dinero. At least for now. I'm learning how to pinch pesos, and my method at this point is to download news pages I might post on here at YWA, read them at home, create a post, and come back to the cafe to post them. That means my posts won't be as timely as I'd like, and so I'm thinking it might eventually mean I stop posting while I'm here (at least a year).

We'll see.

You don't need tomorrow's news today, especially when there are so many other good blogs and sources.

For now, I want to tell you that in one class I have two ten-year olds who know only a few words in English. After about a half hour of the first class, the little boy asked me why America was fighting Iraq.

Hey, we all want to know.

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Hurricane update

This is from EWR commenting on an earlier post on the hurricane. I thought it was worth pulling it from the comments and putting it here. Thanks EWR.
Heard on Air America yesterday that the start of the 'depression' could be fixed to the date of Hurricane Katrina hitting the Gulf States.

I am in the Atlanta area and we could potentially hit $4.00 a gallon for gas within two weeks -- as our sole source of gas comes from the pipeline that starts from the Gulf States -- which is not operational at the moment. If the pipeline does not come back on line within 8 days -- then our backup reserves here will be gone and the gas stations will be empty.

Bananas -- no not the Gwen Stephani song, but the fruit. Apparently, all of our bananas came into this country at the gulf port that is now shut down. This will become an expensive fruit (will need to be routed to other ports -- like Florida). Steel needed in the northern industrial states will become expensive now -- as barges can not ship up the Mississippi river -- land based transportation from Houston will be used instead (4x the shipping cost). Many other commodities will be more expensive in the short run (oysters, shrimp, etc.). This catastrophe will have a huge economic impact on all the States -- even after ignoring the government's poor handling of the economy.

Theeeeeey're baaaaaack

A worried reader directed my attention to a story in the Los Angeles Times: "Strategizing a Christian Coup d'Etat: A group of believers wants to establish Scriptures-based government one city and county at a time."

Since I have taken a firmly anti-theocratic and anti-fundamentalist stance, you might come to the conclusion that I would view this story with some alarm. To the contrary. I find the idea compelling.
Continue reading...

....but hey, do what you want....you will anyway.

Ohio funny business

Further exposition:
Two Cuyahoga County elections officials were indicted Tuesday on charges of not handling ballots correctly during the recount of the 2004 presidential election.

  Raw Story article

The first and last reason

President Bush answered growing antiwar protests yesterday with a fresh reason for US troops to continue fighting in Iraq: protection of the country's vast oil fields, which he said would otherwise fall under the control of terrorist extremists, the AP reported Wednesday via the (registration-restricted) Boston Globe.

  Raw Story article

I guess it's okay to tell the truth now that gas is approaching $4.00 per gallon.

....but hey, do what you want....you will anyway.

Clearing the decks

NEW ORLEANS - In a surprising assessment of Hurricane Katrina’s lethal destruction, New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin said Wednesday he feared that thousands had died in his city alone.

“We know there is a significant number of dead bodies in the water,” Nagin told reporters, adding that there are others dead in attics.

  MSNBC article

British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw has condemned the "depravity" of terrorists who launched a mortar attack on pilgrims in Iraq, triggering a stampede near a holy shrine, Britain's Daily Mail will report Thursday. The Mail also asserts that more than a thousand are now dead after a stampeded on a bridge, which caused it to collapse.

  Raw Story article

Downtown New Orleans

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Well, you know I´m not going to forget about it...

U.S. forces launched a series of air strikes along Iraq's border with Syria, the U.S. military said on Tuesday.
The air raids started at about 6:20 a.m. in a number of towns near the western city of Qaim along the Syrian border, 200 miles northwest of Baghdad, AP reported.
Al Qaim hospital official said that more than 47 people died in the U.S. attacks, which destroyed two houses.

  Aljazeera article


Apparently there´s still no Iraqi constitution.

....but hey, do what you want....you will anyway.

Hurricane Katrina

So, is this taking your mind off the Iraq invasion and the plans to bomb Iran?

President George W. Bush will return to Washington on Wednesday, two days ahead of schedule, to help oversee recovery efforts from Hurricane Katrina, the White House announced.

  Reuters article

Does that make him a better president?
Hurricane Katrina, which killed dozens and left a million without power, sent stocks sliding in New York trading Monday, with oil prices over $70/barrel.


The WALL STREET JOURNAL REPORTS: "The sight of oil topping $70 alarmed analysts and sparked worries that prices could keep going higher. Analysts projected a possible slow creep: "We could see oil hovering around $75, and then we could get to $80 and $85 and then $100 a barrel is right around the corner," said Robert Pavlik, chief investment officer at Oaktree Asset Management.

  Raw Story article

One man´s pain is another man´s pleasure...

And hey...thank heavens New Orleans is still with us.

Hola from México

Many, many thanks to you all for your good wishes. I have finally arrived and found the internet cafe. I´m afraid I won´t have much time to blog with the jam-packed schedule I am going to have with teaching. However, once I get the hang of that, I should be able to use my time more efficiently. I´m going to try to find time for a Diario Mexicano, as well, though, so....

At this moment, the sky has opened up and it is absolutely pouring on this beautiful little town in Michocán. So I´ll be here until it lets up a little. I haven´t read, heard, or seen any news from the States since I left, other than a view of the weather on the Gulf of Mexico on a TV in a store.

You guys still there?

....but hey, do what you want....you will anyway.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Off to Mexico

This will be my last post stateside for a while (maybe forever??). I must go to bed now. I have to arise at 4:00 am to get my ass on a plane to Guadalajara. From there it's a taxi and a bus and a burro to my destination. I'm going without much information - to teach English somewhere on a volcano - or very near anyway.

My undying gratitude goes to LaBelle and Johnny Boy for getting me this far (KC airport) and organized to go. I'd never have made it without them. Furthermore, my sincerest thanks go again to LaBelle, and to Rich and Stephen's family for gifting me a great laptop to bring with me.

If and when I can get to an internet service source, I'll try to keep YWA up and running from Mexico. Until then, thank you all for being here with me on these internet pages.

Many blessings.

Keep the faith and hold down the fort. Buckle your seat belts - it could be a bumpy ride. Just try to have some laughs.

....but hey, do what you want....you will anyway.

Oh, suuuuuuuuuuuure

None of the cameras at the scene of the shooting of Jean Charles de Menezes at Stockwell Tube station on 22 July were working, a police document revealed.


According to a report he would have passed eight cameras, two in the station entrance pointing at the barriers, another aimed at the Northern Line escalator and another on the way down.

When Mr de Menezes reached the bottom of the escalator, another camera would have captured him. And as he turned on to the platform one above the track and three more at each end of the platform would have caught him on film, the reports say.


Actually, if they really weren't working, there's a whole lot more to this story than just that the police went ballistic on an innocent man.
One union official argued however that the on-board cameras may have been empty.

Employees' representatives said Met officers emptied the cameras the day before police killed Mr de Menezes as part of their investigation into the failed bombings on 21 July.


However in a statement to The Mail on Sunday, Tube Lines said: "We are not aware of any faults on CCTV cameras at that station on that day. Nothing of that nature has been reported to us." Yesterday the company refused to elaborate.


But confusion still surrounds the contents of surveillance tapes taken from Stockwell station. Sources have suggested that the tapes had been recovered from the station booking hall, which had shown images of Mr de Menezes and that there was limited footage from cameras inside the carriage where the shooting took place.

War. On drugs.

A drug dubbed CX717, made by Cortex Pharmaceuticals, Irvine, California, reverses the biological and behavioral effects of sleep deprivation, according to results of animal studies.

In an article in the research journal PLoS Biology, Dr. Sam A. Deadwyler and his associates propose that CX717 would particularly benefit individuals affected by extended work hours or night shifts.

  Reuters article

Or soldiers. Or soldiers.

....but hey, do what you want....you will anyway.

Holier Than Thou Pat gets some publicity

Pat Robertson's call to assassinate Chávez is picked up by the global media.


Mr. Robertson has made controversial statements in the past. In October, 2003, he suggested that the U.S. State Department be blown up with a nuclear device.

  Globe & Mail article

So why are disgruntled citizens who refer to a "burning bush", or make other cracks about wanting to see the butthead in the White House constrained or removed, being arrested and Pat Robertson is on the airwaves daily?

I know this is off topic, but if you can be disgruntled, then you should be able to be gruntled, right? And if you can respond, you should have been able to spond a first time, shouldn't you?

Update 1:20 pm:

WIIIAI comments:

Pat Robertson has come under fire for promoting a diet drink, “Pat’s Age-Defying Shake,” on his tax-exempt tv ministry. And he might get into trouble for that, as opposed to praying for the death of Supreme Court justices or calling for the assassination of Hugo Chavez, cuz, c’mon people, li’l perspective.

It's hard to get it just right

The FBI says it has made significant progress in organizing its electronic records after misplacing documents related to the Oklahoma City bombing case and mismanaging records about the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

The National Archives and Records Administration recently recognized the FBI's progress with an Archivist Achievement Award for the bureau's electronic recordkeeping certification program. That program established recordkeeping standards for all the FBI's e-records systems and created protocols for testing those systems following the mishandling of documents about Timothy McVeigh, convicted and executed for the 1995 bombing of the federal building in Oklahoma City.

  FCW article

Well, bully for the FBI.

One would think record keeping would be of paramount importance for such an agency.

....but hey, do what you want....you will anyway.

Monday, August 22, 2005

Iraq - not getting any better

The extension to finalize a constitution that can be voted on by the Iraqi people in October apparently wasn't enough.
In another dramatic last-minute standoff, Iraqi leaders put off a vote on a draft constitution Monday, adjourning parliament at a midnight deadline in a bid for three more days to win over the Sunni Arab minority whose support is key to stopping the insurgency.


The U.S. military said two U.S. soldiers from Task Force Liberty were killed Monday by a roadside bomb during a combat patrol north of Baghdad, and two more soldiers died Sunday when their vehicle overturned during a military operation near Tal Afar. At least 1,870 U.S. troops have died since the Iraq war started in 2003, according to an Associated Press count.

  Yahoo News article

And remember, that count is only those who were pronounced dead in Iraq, and doesn't include any who breathed long enough to be evacuated to military hospitals elsewhere.

Still, I don't report the U.S. soldier death toll, because I think that is such a small fraction of the destruction and waste and shame of war. Not to mention, nobody in our reportage arena is even counting dead Iraqis. Unless it's numbers they can call terrorists, thinking it will appease or please us if we kill enough of them.

A former Halliburton Co. worker pleaded guilty late last week to taking more than $110,000 in bribes from an Iraqi company in 2004 and defrauding the United States, court documents showed.


KBR said it had terminated Powell as soon as his bribes were discovered and had refunded the improper payment to the U.S. government.

"We do not tolerate this kind of behavior by anyone at any level in any Halliburton company," Halliburton spokeswoman Cathy Mann said in an e-mail.

Another former KBR employee, Jeff Alex Mazon, was also indicted in March for devising a scheme to defraud the U.S. military of more than $3.5 million under a contract to supply fuel tankers for operations in Kuwait.

  Yahoo News article

Not Halliburton!?!


....but hey, do what you want....you will anyway.

And speaking of John Edwards

The Democrats are already grooming a few 2008 candidates, including the execrable Hillary Rodham Clinton who has already stated her intention to beef up the war against Southwest Asia. Let’s not forget that her husband presided over an Iraqi holocaust that George W. Bush is still trying to match. The Republicans are secure for now with their white nationalist popular base. An active and increasingly militant left is a more immediate threat to the Democrats – who have prospered from Repubilican reaction for decades now by capturing social bases that feel they have nowhere else to go. That dilemma is real, but it is also predicated on the notion that to “go there” we need to contain ourselves in electoralism and pluralist policy fights that are engineered by corporations and NGOs.

That’s why Sheehan and others who propose the radical option of simply leaving Iraq are now being surrounded by the friendly faces of “progressives” who will try and redirect this newfound mobilization along acceptable paths.

Enter Tom Hayden with his “proposal” for disengagement in Iraq. The logic is – antiwar Congresspeople cannot advance their agenda without an alternative to the fake “exit strategies” of the right. Of course, this is just another Moveon proposal. Nothing unilateral about it, and no demand for immediate withdrawal. Moreover, it depends on actions taken by Iraqis that the US will ultimately have no control over unless it is coercive. This plan is no less racist in its implications than the Republican myth of democracy-implants. It still calls for outsiders (including possibly the CIA!) to broker the withdrawal and oversee the “reconciliation” of those troublesome brown people. Sorry, Tom. This is bullshit. Just because you ask for guarantees of no permanent US bases and no preferential US contracts does not erase the fact that you have taken self-determination off the board and are attempting to redirect the demand (yet unmet!) for a political decision to leave into a policy debate.

Let me just say something about how to withdraw. This is my plan, and it requires nothing of the Iraqis.

  Continue reading Stan Goff

And catch this thoughtful and thought-provoking comment to Stan's article:
Stan, civil disobedience is good. We should do it more, and en masse. But I feel you are just on the edge of advocating armed insurrection. When you talk about bleeding bringing down the beast, whose blood are you talking about? Because, if it’s our blood or Iraqi blood or Haitian or whosever blood, you know the beast likes that blood; it feeds on that blood. If you mean making the beast itself bleed, how are we going to do that enough to bring it down? If we merely wound it, we will just anger it, as the right-wing response to Cindy Sheehan demonstrates. Serious massive civil disobedience will certainly result in bloodshed (ours, not the beast’s). The only harm to the beast will be increased international opprobrium, and we already know how much the current beast cares about that, which is not a whit. Nevertheless, I and countless other gray-haired grannies would be happy to put ourselves on the front line, suffer beatings, imprisonment, and all the rest, IF we believed that our sacrifice would result in changing not just the mask but the real face, eyes and heart of the United States for the better. Can you make us believe? Because if you can’t, we will just go on quietly living our lives as liberals, trying politely to help others be happy who otherwise might suffer, and indulging in cafe latte when it suits us.

Good news portent?

Twin Cities listeners have been tuning out political talk radio.

Locally, conservative-talk icon Rush Limbaugh's show has lost 43 percent of its audience among 25- to 54-year-olds in the past year. Sean Hannity's show is down a whopping 63 percent. The shift is serious enough that "we're weighing where these shows fit for us in the future," according to Todd Fisher, general manager at KSTP (1500 AM), which carries both syndicated programs.

Many Americans also are switching the dial. While ratings for political talk radio typically drop the year after an election, experts around the country sense something else in the air. Many metro listeners are turning to local, often sports-oriented shows.

"We're not sure yet what's really going on," said talk radio veteran Ken Kohl, Clear Channel's director of news and talk programming for northern California. "In general, the talk shows that are succeeding are ones that haven't been reliving the election, or constantly harping on the polarization between liberals and conservatives."


The ratings shift hasn't affected partisan radio stations such as WWTC (1280 AM), known as the Patriot, or KTNF (950 AM), home to Air America programming, including Al Franken's weekday show. Both have maintained relatively stable, if small, audience shares of about 1 to 1.5 percent.

Franken is an exception, however. Locally, the Minnesota native has increased his audience share to 2.4 percent of listeners ages 25 to 54, compared with 1.3 last year.

Michael Harrison, editor and publisher of Talkers Magazine, thinks the post-election drop is still the biggest factor in the fluctuating ratings -- but stay tuned, he said:

"A lot of people in political talk radio are still on that left- versus-right formula because it's been working. You can be sure that if it continues to show a decline in ratings, they'll alter the course."

  Star Tribune article

Pat Robertson calls for assassination of Hugo Chávez

According to VHeadline, this is a transcript excerpt of a Pat Robertson ("Christian" host of The 700 Club "Christian" Broadcasting Network TV program) broadcast:
You know, I don't know about this doctrine of assassination, but if he thinks we're trying to assassinate him, I think that we really ought to go ahead and do it.

It's a whole lot cheaper than starting a war ... and I don't think any oil shipments will stop. But this man is a terrific danger and the United ... this is in our sphere of influence, so we can't let this happen.

We have the Monroe Doctrine, we have other doctrines that we have announced. And without question, this is a dangerous enemy to our south, controlling a huge pool of oil, that could hurt us very badly.

We have the ability to take him out, and I think the time has come that we exercise that ability.

We don't need another $200 billion war to get rid of one, you know, strong-arm dictator. It's a whole lot easier to have some of the covert operatives do the job and then get it over with.
What would Jesus do?

....but hey, do what you want....you will anyway.

Update 8:00 pm: Confirmation (complete with video) is posted at Media Matters. (If you're new to YWA and haven't read any of the posts and articles about Venezuela, you may want to look at these links: Previous Venezuela posts and More on Venezuela. Robertson's claims about Chávez are brazen, inciting and wrong, not to mention decidedly unChristian.)

San Francisco, Chicago: prepare yourselves for a terrorist attack


Bush job approvalApproveDisapproveUndecided
Aug 200536%58%6%
July 200542%52%6%
Jun 200542%53%5%
May 200543%51%6%
Apr 200544%50%6%
Mar 200547%48%5%
Feb 200549%45%6%
Jan 200551%44%5%


Bush handling the economyApproveDisapproveUndecided
Aug 200533%62%5%
July 200538%54%8%
Jun 200537%59%4%
May 200537%57%6%
Apr 200538%56%6%
Mar 200541%53%6%
Feb 200542%51%7%
Jan 200544%50%6%


National economy

Getting better

Staying the same

Getting worse


Aug 200529%17%53%1%
July 200525%33%41%1%
Jun 200522%17%58%3%
May 200519%20%59%2%
Apr 200525%21%53%1%
Mar 200527%25%46%2%
Feb 200530%28%39%3%
Jan 200536%25%37%2%



No Child Left Behind lawsuits

The state of Connecticut filed a federal lawsuit Monday challenging President Bush's No Child Left Behind school reform law, arguing it is illegal because it requires expensive testing and programs it doesn't pay for.


In Utah, the state legislature passed a measure defying the federal law, and it was signed by Gov. Jon Huntsman on May 2. The law gives state educational standards priority over the requirements of No Child Left Behind.

The nation's largest teacher's union, the National Education Association, joined with school districts and union chapters across the country to file a lawsuit this year challenging the law.

  Newsday article

Edwards family supports Cindy Sheehan

Throughout his campaign for president and then vice president in 2004, former Sen. John Edwards of North Carolina made it clear that the death of his teenage son in a car accident was off-limits, not for discussion in a political context.


And, in a departure from a campaign-trail silence that the Edwardses kept about the death of their 16-year-old son, Wade, Elizabeth Edwards noted that Sheehan's son, Casey, 24, died in Iraq eight years to the day after her own son.

For John Edwards, who voted as a senator to support the invasion of Iraq, his wife's outreach to subscribers of their One America Committee Web site bears a distinct anti-war voice that could augur a new tack for Edwards as he prepares for a potential run for president in 2008.


Sounds like cashing in on a possible political windfall to me. Pretty disgusting in my opinion.

....but hey, do what you want....you will anyway.

Olympic bomber is sentenced

Rudolph, who read the same prepared statement he read at his earlier sentencing in Alabama, said he set the Atlanta park bomb "to confound and anger Washington for the sanctioning of abortion of demand."


His plan: use enough explosives to knock out the power grid surrounding Atlanta, forcing the cancellation of the [Olympic] Games.


Rudolph said he originally planned to detonate five explosives on successive days at the Olympics. In a plea agreement with federal authorities, Rudolph has admitted to three bombings in Atlanta and one in Birmingham and disclosed a cache of 250 pounds of explosives hidden in the rugged North Carolina mountains where he hid for five years.

  AJC.com article

Little is known about why he might have become involved in domestic terrorism, although he is believed to be a devotee of Christian Identity - an extreme, white supremacist group that is anti-abortion and anti-gay.

Police suspect that he received help from sympathisers while on the run, since he apparently had access to money and his clothes were quite new.


During Mr Rudolph's time on the run, he became something of a folk hero in Murphy. A local shop sold "Run Rudolph Run" T-shirts, and two country and western songs were written about him.

--The Age article 6/2/03

Terrorist activity by a religious fanatic, with the intent to damage the U.S. government.

But guess what...he's not going to Guantanamo. And neither are any of the people who may have helped him - apparently not even investigated.

Eric Rudolph courtesy The Age

Power to the people

It never seems to actually manifest, does it?

However, there's a lot of "people power" blowing through the countries of our Southern neighbors. Why not here?
With support for his war in Iraq plummeting and a massive protest against the war looming, Bush has been forced to do a little "work" this week. The White House has announced that he will take a break from his five-week vacation for a "five-day push" to try to shore up support for the war. But now the tide has turned decisively against his administration's criminal war - and there is no going back. This powerful sentiment has been stated most firmly - not by the loyal opposition of the Democratic Party, but from the people themselves. The Democrats have taken to the airwaves to announce that they support even more troops going to Iraq! It is the people that have mobilized to stop the war and it is the people who are mobilizing to force Congress to introduce articles of Impeachment against George W. Bush, Rumsfeld, Cheney and their partners in war crimes.


ImpeachBush and VotetoImpeach members are organizing contingents from around the country to be at the White House on September 24 to join in the huge antiwar protest and march. We have learned that the A.N.S.W.E.R. Coalition, which is organizing the antiwar protest at the White House, has obtained permits to rally on both sides of the White House and has secured the first march permit in years to go on Pennsylvania Avenue directly in front of the White House!

And if I weren't leaving the country Wednesday for a teaching position in Mexico, I would be there.

For more information, check here:

Arlen Specter takes Rumsfiend to task

U.S. Republican Senator Arlen Specter urged U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld to put a stop on negative comments about Venezuela at a time in which the U.S. State Department is trying to resolve the recent controversy between the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) and Venezuelan anti-narcotics officials.


Senator Specter, who is a member of the Committee on the Judiciary of the U.S. Congress, met this week with Venezuelan officials and President Chavez in Caracas to discuss his committee's oversight of US anti-drug trafficking and anti-terrorism policies.


"Our meeting produced an agreement between our Ambassador and Venezuela's Minister of the Interior, who had not previously had any contact, to meet early next week to try to resolve those differences between DEA and the Venezuelan narcotics officials," Specter said.


Senator Specter told Secretary Rumsfeld it may be helpful to, "at least, have a moratorium on adverse comments on Venezuela."


In a letter to Secretary Rumsfeld, Specter said "it may be very helpful to U.S. efforts to secure Venezuela's cooperation in our joint attack on drug interdiction if the rhetoric would be reduced."

  Venezuelanalysis article

Pretty pathetic when it's the Right side of the aisle that is challenging this administration.

Nice wording on Specter's part, responding to this from Rumsfiend:
ASUNCION, Paraguay, Aug. 16


"Any time you see issues involving stability in a country, it is something that one wishes would be resolved in a democratic, peaceful way," Rumsfeld told reporters en route to Paraguay. "There certainly is evidence that both Cuba and Venezuela have been involved in the situation in Bolivia in unhelpful ways."

  WaPo article

"Unhelpful ways" that he didn't (or couldn't) name.

Specter's short but poignant letter to Rumsfiend is reproduced in the Venezuelanalysis article.

Previous Venezuela posts
More on Venezuela

Surprise! Another criminal nominee

President Bush's choice to head the Air Force is a longtime Pentagon official whose nomination will get strong scrutiny because of his role in a scuttled airplane lease deal that resulted in a prison term for a former top Defense Department official.


The Air Force has jettisoned a $23.5 billion plan to lease jets from the Boeing Co. for use as air refueling tankers. Boeing's former chief financial officer and a former top Air Force official were sentenced to prison on corruption charges related to the deal.

The former Air Force official, Darleen Druyun, is serving a nine-month term at a federal prison in Florida. She admitted inflating the lease price as a "parting gift" to Boeing before leaving the Pentagon for a job at the aircraft giant in 2002.

Wynne was a deputy, then head of the Pentagon's acquisition office. A report by the Defense Department's inspector general in May faulted Wynne for not requiring the Air Force to follow proper procedures for the Boeing leases.

The report said Wynne told the White House budget office that Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld approved the lease idea "after comprehensive and deliberative review by the Leasing Review Panel" when that panel had not finished its deliberations or made recommendations.


Wynne's nomination comes as the Bush administration continues to have difficulty winning approval for its Pentagon nominees.

  Yahoo News article

Maybe they should make an attempt to find honorable nominees.

Or they can always wait until the next recess and then Buttie can appoint him without Congressional approval, like he's done so man

....but hey, do what you want....you will anyway.

Harboring our own terrorist

Attorney General Gonzales is in charge of the extradition case against Posada.

The US attorney general is, for sure, conflicted.

If he wins the extradition case and sends Posada to Venezuela, he pisses off the Miami Mafia. If, on the [other] hand, he loses the extradition case and Posada stays here, then he jeopardizes the retrial of the Cuban Five ... which is a case as big as Posada's.
This Arthur Shaw commentary discusses the things Posada might testify about that would be terribly uncomfortable for the U.S. government if called upon in a retrial of the Cuban Five. If he can't be kept quiet or shut up in his new Texas prison home, he may have to meet with an early demise. 'Underground' may take on a new meaning for him. I'm still wondering what his reason was for surfacing in Miami.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Ruling the world is hard work

BAGHDAD (Reuters) - U.S. diplomats have conceded ground to Islamists on the role of religion in Iraq, negotiators said on Saturday as they raced to meet a 48-hour deadline to draft a constitution under intense U.S. pressure.

U.S. diplomats, who have insisted the constitution must enshrine ideals of equal rights and democracy, declined comment.


Washington, with 140,000 troops still in Iraq, has insisted Iraqis are free to govern themselves but made clear it will not approve the kind of clerical rule seen in Shi'ite Iran, a state President Bush describes as "evil."

  Yahoo News article

"Free, but."

Ben Sargent

Elsewhere in Baghdad

BAGHDAD (Reuters) - An Iraqi general who commands the country's border defence force was shot and wounded while driving in Baghdad late on Saturday and accused U.S. troops of firing on his car, police and hospital sources said.

The report could not be confirmed directly with the general; a U.S. military spokesman said he was unaware of an incident.


Sources at Baghdad police headquarters, which like the border security force is overseen by the Interior Ministry, said Hamadi is the overall commander of the Iraqi Border Police.

They too said he was shot by U.S. troops.


Iraqis daily accuse American troops of opening fire on motorists, often killing them. U.S. commanders say soldiers, who are trained to be vigilant against suicide car bombers who approach checkpoints or convoys, take care to protect civilians.

  Reuters article

The Great Uniter

Maybe if we stay the course, Iraq won't be the only country embroiled in civil war.
SALT LAKE CITY -- A Utah television station has rejected an antiwar advertisement featuring the California mother whose son's death in Iraq prompted her August vigil outside President George W. Bush's Texas ranch, deeming it "inappropriate" for the local market.

In the ad, Cindy Sheehan pleads with Bush for a meeting and accuses him of lying to the American people about Iraq's development of weapons of mass destruction and about that country's connection to al-Qaida.


A national sales representative for KTVX, the local ABC affiliate, rejected the 60-second spot in an e-mail to media buyers, calling it an "inappropriate commercial advertisement for Salt Lake City."

  Edmonton Sun article

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- Salt Lake City's Mayor Rocky Anderson used e-mail this week to call for "the biggest demonstration this state has ever seen," when President Bush appears before a national veterans convention Monday.

Anderson says Bush policies are disastrous for the country and that to stay quiet during the president's visit would be send a message of apathy.

The mayor's e-mail called for a collaboration of health care advocates, seniors, gay and lesbian advocates, anti-Patriot advocates, civil libertarians and anti-war folks to protest outside the convention of the Veterans of Foreign Wars.

  KPVI article

[A] patriotic camp with a "God Bless Our President!" banner sprung up in downtown Crawford, Texas Saturday, countering the anti-war demonstration started by Sheehan. The camp is named "Fort Qualls," in memory of Marine Lance Cpl. Louis Wayne Qualls, 20, who died in Iraq last fall.


Because being anti-war is unpatriotic, remember.

"The citizen who thinks he sees that the commonwealth's political clothes are worn out, and yet holds his peace and does not agitate for a new suit, is disloyal; he is a traitor........Loyalty to petrified opinion never broke a chain or freed a human soul." -- Mark Twain

....but hey, do what you want....you will anyway.

Saturday, August 20, 2005

American military justice

Pfc. Willie Brand, convicted of a variety of crimes in relation to a prisoner he beat to death in Afghanistan in 2002 by hitting him in the knee thirty times (one of two prisoners he beat to death: he was acquitted for the other one), including assault, maiming, and making a false statement but not murder, is sentenced to diddly squat, that is, a reduction in rank to private. That’ll show him. Brand told the jury, "We were trained on these things and when we implement them we were condemned; if we asked questions we are condemned." Yup, damned if you beat two prisoners to death, damned if you don’t.

  WIIIAI post

FBI ordered to turn over Oklahoma City bombing docs, unredacted

And...surprise. The FBI has reopened the case.
A U.S. District Court judge in Salt Lake City, Utah, has ordered the Oklahoma City FBI office to turn over unredacted copies of all documents currently at issue in a Freedom of Information lawsuit involving additional evidence and the names of additional conspirators in the Oklahoma City bombing case.

According to the judge, the materials would be reviewed in his chambers and then returned to the FBI.
The order could also include evidence in the possession of the FBI that might shed light on the mysterious death of an inmate, Kenny Trentadue, who was being held at the Federal Transfer Center in Oklahoma City in 1995.

Contacted about whether the agency would comply with the order or appeal it, FBI Special Agent Gary Johnson made a startling announcement. After declining to comment on the civil matters involved in the Trentadue suit, Johnson said the FBI was currently investigating the April 19, 1995, bombing.

In the past, Johnson has told the media that the FBI was standing by its original investigation. "It was the most experienced and thorough in our history," he said.

The $85 million effort yielded only two federal convictions, Terry Nichols and Timothy McVeigh. Mike Fortier provided testimony against McVeigh and Nichols in return for a reduced sentence.


[S]everal weeks ago, a court order from Kimball forced the release of approximately 100 pages of documents by the Oklahoma City FBI office, and some do indeed appear to implicate others in the bombing.

However, the FBI has blacked out almost every name in those documents, along with whole sentences of other information regarding an undercover operation the FBI and others were involved in.


Asked how many FBI agents were involved in the renewed effort, Johnson simply commented: "We don't ever disclose that type of information."

Exactly when this investigation was opened and why remains unclear.

  McCurtain Daily Gazette article

I'd say it's because they know the Trentadue case is forcing their hand, and they're about to be busted for withholding information. Somebody's ass is coming uncovered. Maybe they're looking for another way to cover up. Maybe they're trying to flush out anybody still alive with information who might be willing to testify.

"Andy the German" knows people.

FBI 302 provides allegations of a former Green Beret's involvement in Oklahoma City bombing and connections to McVeigh, alleged by FBI undercover operative.

  McCurtain Daily Gazette - larger view available

Friday, August 19, 2005

Surprise! Another criminal nominee

President Bush's choice to head the Air Force is a longtime Pentagon official whose nomination will get strong scrutiny because of his role in a scuttled airplane lease deal that resulted in a prison term for a former top Defense Department official.


The Air Force has jettisoned a $23.5 billion plan to lease jets from the Boeing Co. for use as air refueling tankers. Boeing's former chief financial officer and a former top Air Force official were sentenced to prison on corruption charges related to the deal.

The former Air Force official, Darleen Druyun, is serving a nine-month term at a federal prison in Florida. She admitted inflating the lease price as a "parting gift" to Boeing before leaving the Pentagon for a job at the aircraft giant in 2002.

Wynne was a deputy, then head of the Pentagon's acquisition office. A report by the Defense Department's inspector general in May faulted Wynne for not requiring the Air Force to follow proper procedures for the Boeing leases.

The report said Wynne told the White House budget office that Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld approved the lease idea "after comprehensive and deliberative review by the Leasing Review Panel" when that panel had not finished its deliberations or made recommendations.


Wynne's nomination comes as the Bush administration continues to have difficulty winning approval for its Pentagon nominees.

  Yahoo News article

Maybe they should make an attempt to find honorable nominees.

Or they can always wait until the next recess and then Buttie can appoint him without Congressional approval, like he's done so many times before.

....but hey, do what you want....you will anyway.

Ford cuts white collars

Ford Motor Co., for the first time in generations, has resorted to firing employees and immediately escorting them from corporate buildings -- roiling the company and compelling Chief Executive Officer Bill Ford to send a message this week to reassure the so-called Ford Family.

Until now, Detroit automakers have cut thousands of white-collar jobs almost exclusively by getting employees to voluntarily quit through early retirement, buyouts or letting open positions go unfilled.

But not nearly enough people have come off Ford's payroll to meet its initial goal of cutting 2,750 of its 35,000 North American white-collar workers.


Ford has cut its staff by tens of thousands over the last decade, but it is still bleeding money. Last month, the automaker fired 20 to 25 public relations staff members, including some who had worked for the automaker for decades, people familiar with the matter said.


Even worse for workers, the company reported a $907-million loss in the April-June period this year for its North American division, and says now that cuts may have to go even deeper than 2,750 positions.


"Some have asked me why we have had to ask employees to depart immediately," he wrote. "Well, the management team has discussed this and concluded that it's kinder to make our separations in this fashion, rather than have the employee remain in a difficult situation."

  Detroit Free Press article

Oh, much kinder.

....but hey, do what you want....you will anyway.

The people want what's theirs

Popular uprisings are on the rise south of the border. The people in oil rich countries lately want the proceeds of oil exports to be spent on the countries' infrastructure and on social programs. They just can't seem to understand why a few fat cat oil execs should be getting all the profits.
Ecuador's defense minister has resigned amid a mounting crisis over protests which have crippled oil production and forced the country to ask Venezuela for a loan of crude oil.

Ecuadorean officials say Defense Minister Solon Espinoza stepped down Friday and was replaced by retired army General Oswaldo Jarrin. The reason for the resignation was not clear.

The move comes as a state of emergency remains in effect for the provinces of Sucumbios and Orellana, where protesters have massed, demanding new contract negotiations with foreign oil firms.

They also have called for increased spending on infrastructure and social programs.

The demonstrations forced the state-owned oil company, Petroecuador, to suspend production and the government to seek a temporary loan of oil from Venezuela to keep up exports.

Most of Ecuador's oil exports go to the United States.

  Voice of America article

Ecuador has sent in troops to occupy its oil-rich Amazon region and declared a state of emergency, after attacks on installations by community groups cut oil production by about 65 per cent.

The armed forces said on Thursday evening they had secured the eastern provinces of Orellana and Sucumbíos, which account for three-quarters of state oil production and about half of private oil production in Ecuador, in order "to guarantee the physical security of the hydrocarbons complex and the return of the flow of petrol".  Financial Times article

Punishing Mexico

MEXICO CITY, Aug 18 (Reuters) - He married Mexico's richest woman, is an old pal of U.S. President George W. Bush and now Washington's envoy south of the Rio Grande is stirring up controversy in a dispute over crime and immigration on the U.S.-Mexican border.

U.S. Ambassador Tony Garza upset Mexico this week by boasting he had shut a consular office in a border city to "punish" the country for failing to halt a drug war there.

  Reuters article

Oh, how the righteous love to punish.

Sheehan update

The mother of a slain soldier who has camped outside President Bush's ranch for nearly two weeks to protest the war in Iraq left Thursday to tend to her ill mother.

Cindy Sheehan, whose son was killed in Iraq in April last year, said her 74-year-old mother suffered a stroke. Sheehan said she and her sister were going to Los Angeles "to assess the situation" but that her supporters will continue her protest outside Bush's Texas home.


Sen. Chuck Hagel, a Republican from Nebraska and Vietnam war veteran who has been critical of Bush's handling of the war, said Thursday that Sheehan "deserves some consideration, and I think that should have been done right from the beginning."

"I think the wise course of action, the compassionate course of action, the better course of action would have been to immediately invite her in to the ranch," Hagel told CNN.

"It should have been done when this whole thing started. Listen to her."

  CNN article

The wise, compassionate, better course is not a favored one of Mr. Bush. I'm not sure we have any examples of it.

Looking into Abramoff's ties

You have probably never heard of Makram Chams. It's time you met him.

Actually, you can't physically meet him -- he disappeared on September 11, 2001. I bring him to your attention for two reasons:

1. He knew, and apparently aided, Mohammed Atta and the other 9/11 terrorists.

2. He owned a casino ship in Florida.

Yes, a casino ship -- just like the SunCruz ships owned by Jack Abramoff, the recently-indicted Republican money-man and wheeler-dealer. According to Associated Press, the terrorists took a mysterious trip on a SunCruz ship on September 5, 2001. And that trip is of great interest for three reasons:
Continue reading Atta's big gamble. Plus: Jack Abramoff's link to a mysterious Saudi -- and perhaps to Al Qaeda.

Also check out this Cannonfire post: Able Dementia.

Rockets in Jordan

Attackers fired at least three rockets from Jordan early Friday, with one narrowly missing a docked U.S. Navy ship and killing a Jordanian soldier. It was the most serious militant attack on the Navy since the USS Cole was bombed in 2000.

Another rocket fell close to a nearby airport in neighboring Israel, officials said. Jordanian and Israeli authorities said militants fired the Katyusha rockets from a warehouse in the Jordanian Red Sea port of Aqaba.

A group linked to al-Qaida claimed responsibility in an Internet statement.


The [USS] Ashland and another vessel later sailed out of port as a result of the attacks, Brown said.


The attacks come amid a time of tension in the region marked by Israel's withdrawal from the Palestinian Gaza Strip and the Egyptian attacks. Islamic extremists have long criticized Jordan's U.S.-allied moderate government for its peace treaty with Israel and close ties with the West.


Navy Cmdr. Jeff Breslau said security measures employed by the Navy after the October 2000 attack on the USS Cole in Yemen that killed 17 sailors were in place in Jordan.

  SF Gate article

Does that mean we're not able to protect our ships?

Bob quotes a NY Times editorial that reminds us of Gaza's history...
Without denying the genuine grief of many of the protesters, it's perhaps helpful to do a historical reality check. Gaza, a 25-mile-long, 6-mile-wide strip of land, was part of Mandatory Palestine, which was ruled by the British after the fall of the Ottoman Empire. It was never part of the Zionist state intended by the United Nations partition plan that led to the establishment of Israel in 1948. At that point, five Arab nations immediately attacked the new nation, but Gaza wasn't even part of the territory Israel got in signing truces in 1949. It became the home of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians fleeing Israel, and Israel's armistice with Egypt in 1949 put it under Egyptian rule.

In the 1967 Israeli-Arab war, Israel captured Gaza and the Sinai Peninsula from Egypt, along with the West Bank (from Jordan) and the Golan Heights (from Syria). Israel returned the Sinai to Egypt after making peace, but kept control of Gaza. A second agreement called for negotiating eventual Palestinian autonomy there.

Gaza represents the worst side of Israel's settlement movement. The densely populated strip is home to 1.3 million Palestinians - most of them refugees, or offspring of refugees. Each square mile of Palestinian land holds, on average, about 14,000 people. Until this week, the Jewish settlers occupied 33 percent of the land.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Where the vigils weren't

Interactive map at MoveOn.

Wanted: New generals for Iran war

Reference links are embedded in the Justin Raimondo article, from which these excerpts are taken:
The political groundwork for an assault on Iran has already been laid, as Joshua Kurlantzick points out in an excellent piece in Vanity Fair magazine, and these preparations ought to evoke in us an eerie sense of déjà vu: the same playbook is being used as was followed in Iraq, even including a mysterious (and, in this case, uniquely kooky) group of exiles funneling fake "intelligence" to the war hawks in the Pentagon.

You say Chalabi, I say Rajavi – let's call the whole thing off!


As the president of the United States cowers in his ranch, afraid to meet with a 48-year-old mother who wants to know why her son had to die, he hurls anathemas at Tehran and gathers his hosts for fresh conquests. Bush can safely ignore Congress – not that they'll give him any trouble – and he can tell the chauffeur to speed up when he passes Cindy Sheehan on the way to a fundraiser for the Republican War Machine. However, he can't safely ignore the grumbling of his generals – who may be just short of joining the Crawford peace camp, along with a few divisions from the North American Command. Bush has just slapped down the top American commander in Iraq, General George Casey, for daring to suggest that troop reductions were in the offing. The London Telegraph reports:

"The top American commander in Iraq has been privately rebuked by the Bush administration for openly discussing plans to reduce troop levels there next year, The Sunday Telegraph has learned. … Gen George Casey, the U.S. ground commander in Iraq, was given his dressing-down after he briefed that troop levels – now 138,000 – could be reduced by 30,000 in the early months of next year as Iraqi security forces take on a greater role."

If the troops are going into Iran – or, as some say, Syria – then bringing them home is out of the question. Is the president facing an officers' rebellion as he ratchets up the rhetoric against Tehran?

The firing of General Kevin Byrnes, allegedly for "adultery" – even though he's already been separated from his wife – a few months before he's due to retire, is awfully suspicious in this context: General Byrnes reportedly made an enemy of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld for opposing the Rumsfeldian "transformation" of the military into a more "flexible" instrument of the Bush Doctrine and the neocons' imperial vision. In essentially firing a four-star general – a vicious act of retribution that certainly bears the personal stamp of the chimp-in-chief – the White House engaged in a preemptive strike against the War Party's enemies in the military.


It's the night of the long knives in the Pentagon, as the War Party cleans out suspected dissidents from the top ranks of the military and prepares for the next move on the Middle Eastern chessboard.


The regime has a two-note strategy: fear and smear. This summer, they're firing with both barrels, and we can expect the noise level to rise appreciably as we approach the fourth anniversary of 9/11 – the catalytic event that catapulted us into this Bizarro World, where up is down, all morals are inverted, and we live in a "democracy" where a war opposed by a clear majority is about to be escalated, not ended.

Hardball with Chris Matthews

August 1, 2005
MATTHEWS: Let me go, Paul, before you start. What I keep doing here is asking people on and off camera who come on this program, high-ranking officers, enlisted, former officers. I get sometimes, not all the time, two different versions, the version they give me on the air and the version they give me the minute when we‘re off the air.

The version they give me when we‘re on the air is gung-ho, we‘re doing the right thing, everything is moving along. The version they give me off the air is, Rumsfeld is crazy. There aren‘t enough troops over there. We‘re not taking this seriously enough, or, we shouldn‘t be there, sometimes.

RIECKHOFF: Yes. Well, the reality is...

MATTHEWS: It isn‘t always a straight scoop when you go on television with people, because they want to be loyal to their units and to their service.

RIECKHOFF: That‘s exactly right.

And, Chris, I‘m no—there‘s no one more loyal to the troops than I am. I am still in the reserves. There‘s a likelihood that I‘ll go back, while Ms. Morgan is back at her radio show.

So, what I really want to do is educate the public about the truth of what‘s happening there. And I think the reality is that, when people like her go over there, there‘s a public affairs officer standing right next to that young soldier. And he‘s on active duty. And he wants to support the cause. And he can‘t speak freely. That‘s a fact.

MORGAN: That‘s not true.

RIECKHOFF: A young blogger was just reprimanded last week because he was a little too candid.

So when they come home...


MORGAN: That‘s not true.

RIECKHOFF: Let me finish, ma‘am.

When they come home, the cuffs are off and they can speak freely. Me and any other veteran who have just come home would be more than happy to come on Ms. Morgan‘s show and talk to her about the realities of war.


RIECKHOFF: But, otherwise, it‘s just—it‘s vacation journalism, where they go to war zone for a little while. They get their credentials. They improve their ratings and then they go back to the comfortable world of civilian atmosphere.

MORGAN: That‘s not why I did it.


RIECKHOFF: They have very little credibility on the war, Chris.

Support our troops


A decorated Marine doesn't qualify as a Texas resident any more because of the time he spent serving in Iraq.
That's what Carl Basham says officials told him when he tried to enroll in Austin Community College.

He's registered to vote in Texas, has a Texas driver's license and does his banking there. But he says officials told him that's not enough to qualify him for the lower tuition Texas residents pay.

That means he'd have to pay around 26-hundred dollars a semester in tuition, instead of about 500 dollars.

Basham did two tours of duty in Iraq.

Officials at the college will only say Basham didn't meet state requirements.

  Ohio News Now article

And three cheers for Gold Ol' Texas.

Same story, different view

Remember those "terrorist" brick layers?

These two views are posted at Eric Umansky's blog
[A] number of casualties lying in Al-Yarmouk hospital told AFP that a US helicopter fired at them as they were gathered outside a hotel.

"The electricity went out at around 0500 (0100 GMT), so we exited the hotel to the street to have breakfast in the fresh air. A helicopter then opened fire into the street," said Ali Mohammad, who sustained neck and leg injuries.

The American military also said today that some Iraqi civilians were killed or wounded when American forces attacked suspected insurgents from the air in Baghdad early Tuesday. In the battle, American helicopters "tracked and engaged the terrorists," the military said in a statement.

....but hey, say what you want....you will anyway.

Able Danger

Frankly, the amount of right-wing attention devoted to this matter is a little disturbing. It's not as though the right is doing to Shaffer what they did to Richard Clarke. My suspicions of a Rovian trick have begun to resurface.

Previously, I've made humorous reference to the fake Special Ops unit created in Wag the Dog. Now I'm not so sure how humorous that idea is.

Nobody else in the DIA has confirmed the existence of this unit, although we have been promised that documents and other confirmation will soon arrive. In early reports, DIA sources seemed mystified by the name "Able Danger." This fact may or may not be significant.

On the other hand, National Review anti-Kerry hatchet man Jim Geraghty blasted Congressman Weldon for making this story public. Other right-wing sites have also attacked the tale, claiming that Able Danger found nothng of importance. (!) This dichotomous reaction indicates that this story isn't following the usual trajectory of right-wing disinfo. G.O.P. propagandists usually have their scripts well-prepared ahead of time, and act in strict concert. Weldon's charges seem to have caught the right off-guard for a few days, until they figured out how to spin this one.


Many in the CIA have opposed the neocon plans. It's starting to look like the whole Able Danger story (whether true or false) will be used as a further excuse to clean out anyone at the Agency who insists on saying that he can see the Emperor's weener.


Spencer writes: "If other Able Danger analysts come forward to back up what Shaffer says, the Pentagon is going to have a lot of explaining to do."

They're not the only ones. The official timeline compiled by the FBI -- the Bush-era FBI -- holds that Atta entered the country in June of 2000. Any eyewitness who placed him here earlier was crudely discounted.

The Able Danger revelation -- or claim -- now rewrites that history. Yet nobody in our media seems to notice the change!


There are other possible reasons for the directive to steer clear of Atta. The AP report of his mysterious September 5, 2001 visit to Jack Abramoff's SunCruz ship is, as noted earlier, suggestive.

  Joseph Cannon post

Good God. Could it all possibly be tied together some day? Atta, Abramoff, DeLay, Rove, AIPAC, and all the ships at sea...I mean, all the criminals in the White House? I'd like to see this wrapped up soon. I've got another life to go to.

....but hey, do what you want....you will anyway.