Saturday, April 30, 2005


Thanks to the tireless Kyle Hence for passing this one along. Author David Ray Griffen spoke to a crowd of 400+ where he presented a detailed case as to why he believes the Bush Administration played a role in the 9/11 attacks. The amazing part is that the talk is scheduled air Saturday on C-SPAN2 at 10:30am. Oddly, if you go through the front door of C-SPAN to the link the schedule for C-SPAN2 is missing for Saturday. Hmm. Also strange is if you follow the trail to the original PDF archive of another story that appeared in a conservative Wisconcin Paper, the link is either misdirected or the story has been deleted, note the blank space. Am I paranoid or is this a media blackout in action?
  Guerrilla News Network article
Previous post with background on the speech.

NOTE: This program just finished here in the central time zone on C-SPAN2 - 11:00am. Having in my mind that the 10:30 time was Eastern and thinking it would be an hour later, I only just turned the TV on to check. So if you're trying to catch it on the Left Coast, be advised that you should check the timing.

More applicants for Bush Tar Baby position

Bush campaign finance investigation

The federal probe into whether local Republican fund-raiser Tom Noe [who was chairman of the Bush-Cheney campaign in northwest Ohio] was illegally funneling money to the Bush campaign had been ongoing for months. It reached a turning point Wednesday night.

FBI agents swept into Mr. Noe’s Maumee condo about 7:30 p.m., spending three hours scouring the home of one of the most prominent Republicans in northwest Ohio. They were looking for evidence of violations of federal campaign contribution laws.


“It’s becoming clear that Tom Noe has given large contributions to Republicans, while also obtaining state contracts in which he made millions of dollars investing in risky rare coins,” [Ohio Senator Marc] Dann said.

“Tom Noe has given thousands and thousands of dollars to Republican candidates. Now he’s at the center of a federal probe.

We deserve to know if Noe laundered state party, candidate, and caucus campaign monies to statewide Republicans.”

  Toledo Blade article

House of Saud changes in the air

Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Abdullah's visit to the United States this week to discuss oil matters with President George W. Bush, took place amid growing speculation back home that the bed-ridden King Fahd's condition has worsened with the monarch slipping out of conciousness. Speculation is rife among Riyadh's ruling elite of Fahd's clinical death - but even if this were true, any official announcement would delayed until a final decision on Fahd's successor has been taken.


Crown Prince Abdullah - who is Fahd's half brother - has long been touted to ascend the throne, but well placed sources maintain that there is resistance from other Sudari sevens members who favour closer ties with the West, something which Abdullah, who is very popular among Saudi religious circles, seems reluctant to cultivate. However, past efforts to promote the more Western-friendly defence minister Prince Sultan as Crown Prince instead of Abdullah failed because of division among the Sudaris.

Abdullah seems likely to remain the main beneficiary of internal Sudari squabbling, and already three years ago, he set up a Royal Council including all the 65 sons of the late King Abdul Aziz to settle all disputes related to the monarchy.

It is believed that Abdullah is more acceptable to the majority of the Royal Council members than any other candidate. Hower, the succession is unlikely to be smooth [...]
  ADN Kronos International article

So, pardon my cynicism here, but let me suggest that this solves the mystery of why the Bush-Prince strolling through the Texas blue bonnet moments did not include anything new on the oil/gas price front - they weren't talking strategy about the price of gas; they were talking strategy about the succession of rulers in Saudi Arabia.

9/11 - a "very bad circumstance", but "not a catastrophe"

From this week's House Homeland Security Committee hearing on airline security (Wednesday):

Chairman Christopher Cox (R-CA): The gentleman from Georgia

Rep. John Linder (R-GA): Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Umm. We could probably spend, the entire budget of the United States, on the airline industry. And still be missing some pieces. Now, most of us don't believe that we will ever see an airline hit a building, because the passengers won't allow it. And if an airline is blown up in the air, that is a very bad circumstance for 200 or 300 people. But it is not a catastrophe. Rep. Linder: I would rather spend these fortunes looking for a catastrophe . . . for nuclear weapons. (mumbling and inaudible)

Chairman Cox: Is the gentleman's microphone turned on?

Rep. Linder: Yes.

Rep. Linder: We could spend everything we have protecting airplanes, and still not protect everything. Umm. It is my view that no airplane will ever hit a commercial building -- which is the only value they have in taking out large numbers of people. It is my view that passengers won't allow that to happen. But it is entirely possible that an airplane will blow up in the air, with some (inaudible) or warning today, or some other technique. But that is a very bad circumstance for about 200, 300 people. But it is not a catastrophe.
  Raw Story article

South American moves intensifying

Was Ecuador's recent popular uprising really a coup d'etat?

"Why was Lucio removed from power if there was not a real public rising up against him? Why did he relinquish power at 14:28 on the 20th after saying on the night of the 19th that he would not resign and played tough? The answer might be in the fact that early in the 20th he was visited by the ambassador of the US!! Why the US would want anything to do with it? Well, for starters, the position of Ecuador is critical back up for Plan Colombia and their plans in South America. Should Ecuador turn toward a real sovereign state it would isolate their operation in Colombia.

"Secondly, the US has a gigantic military base in the city of Manta at the pacific shore. This base not only helps Plan Colombia in Colombia but also helps keep military presence in all of southern Central America (recall that Central America bends south in Panama).

"Third, Ecuador has a large, and undeveloped, oil potential in the Ecuadorian Amazon and we know how Washington feels about oil.

"Fourth, Ecuador is, as I type this, negotiating the Tratado de Libre Comercio (TLC) (Free Trade Agreement with the US) with all the Andean countries (Ecuador being one of the most stable of them) and every problem here could reflect in problems in the results of the negotiations."
  Axis of Logic article

Unrest in Nicaragua

With the constitutional crisis in Ecuador not yet resolved, the situation in Nicaragua is certainly hotting up. Two weeks ago a transport strike erupted after fuel prices rises and taxes increased, resulting in an increase in bus fares across the nation. This has been the spark which appears to have ignited a nationwide popular insurrection against Nicaraguan President Enrique Bolanos.


So that readers can better appreciate the historical context of what has now erupted in Nicaragua, herewith a brief synopsis of the situation in Nicaragua from 1909 onwards:


  Axis of Logic article

Hugo won't be visiting for a while

[Venezuelan President Hugo] Chavez, in Havana for trade talks, told an international gathering of activists here that before an earlier trip to Cuba, a U.S. State Department undersecretary he did not identify warned him not to go because he would no longer be received in Washington.

He said he went ahead with that trip anyway, and later traveled to the United States to visit U.S. President George W. Bush, who he said greeted him with a Coca-Cola in his hand.

"I have not returned, nor do I think about returning again, until the people of the United States liberate that nation," said Chavez, saying that Americans are "oppressed" by their government and U.S. media.
  CNN article

Colombia's pivotal role in US-SA relations

Will Colombia Be the Proxy in a US Attack on Venezuela?
By Sean Donahue,
Posted on Thu Apr 28th, 2005 at 12:33:37 AM EST

The U.S. is gearing up its rhetoric against Venezuela again as Condaleeza Rice barnstorms through Latin America -- and there are subtle indications that the U.S. may be ready to increase Colombia's role in undermining the government of Hugo Chavez.


  CNN article

Friday, April 29, 2005

Social Security chart

From The Talent Show:

Explanation here.

Filibuster Frist

"Filibuster Frist" @ Princeton University

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

PBS tonight

Friday, April 29, 2005 at 9 p.m. on PBS (check local listings), in " Few Bad Men?" NOW broadcasts the first in-depth American television interview with Haj Ali, a former prisoner who says he was the man under the black hood in the infamous photo from Abu Ghraib.


Before the Iraq war Haj Ali was the mayor of the Al Madifai district, near Baghdad. After the U.S. took control of the area he was removed from his position. As an official, he was required to join the ruling Baath Party. Haj Ali then worked as an administrator for a mosque, until he was picked up off the street one day in October 2003. Today Haj Ali works for a prisoner's association. He says he has no part in the insurgency.

  PBS article


Juan Cole updates on our Gulf wars

More details of the new Iraqi cabinet are now out. The big and rather ominous surprise is that Ahmad Chalabi is the temporary Petroleum Minister. It has not in the past been easy to pry him out of positions once in them. And, in the past, whenever he has been around big money, a lot of it has mysteriously disappeared. Some are saying that at least he has the background to deal with foreign oil companies. But lots of Iraqis have such a background. The point is that Chalabi doesn't know anything about the petroleum industry and also has a poor business reputation to put it lightly.


The new Iraqi government was approved by parliament on Thursday, by 180 of 185 MPs in attendance. About a third of parliamentarians did not show up for the vote. These probably included the 39 remaining members of Iyad Allawi's Iraqiya List, which was not awarded any cabinet posts. The Sunni Arabs weren't happy, either, though they only have 17 seats anyway.

Ghazi al-Yawir, now a vice president, termed the cabinet "disappointing" and complained about its sectarian character. Tariq al-Hashimi of the Iraqi Islamic Party complained that the new cabinet did not represent Iraq and would not bring national reconciliation. (- Ash-Sharq al-Awsat). He said that none of the persons suggested for cabinet posts by the IIP had been chosen, and blasted the current cabinet line-up as "racist."


Coming along nicely, I'd say.

Resurgent Taliban forces attacked Afghan police and a US patrol on Wednesday, leaving one American soldier and 4 policemen dead.

CNN says the US has 18,000 troops in harm's way in Afghanistan as well as substantial NATO forces. Bin Laden and al-Zawahiri are at large. Parliamentary elections are due. The US was struck from there. It is a story.

The US media are not covering this story, and it is shameful. [...T]he US public should demand better coverage of Afghanistan as long as we have that many troops there. is a good place to follow the story. You'll note there that the neo-Taliban stormed a district HQ just recently.

For a US National Guard's experiences in Afghanistan, see Jean-Paul Borda's Blog.


South of the border, down Mexico way

This hemisphere’s political class received a strong message this month: make a promise to break from old – to turn your country in a new direction, to govern for the people instead of the corrupt elite – and you’d better keep it.


Mexican President Vicente Fox suddenly backed down this week from the “desafuero,” his crusade to haul popular Mexico City governor Andres Manuel López Obrador into court and therefore bar him from running for president next year. He too, like Gutiérrez, thought the people had become passive after they voted him into office, but a million protesters outside his office on Sunday proved him wrong...


On Wednesday night, Fox announced on live TV that Rafael Macedo, the attorney general that he appointed upon becoming president (at Washington’s behest) and who had led the legal process against López Obrador, had “resigned.”


[Fox's] claim throughout the process had been that the desafuero was necessary to preserve the rule of law that he had ushered in, insuring that “no one is above the law” (Fox and Macedo, of course, had committed the same common, minor offense – ignoring a court order – for which they were stripping López Obrador of his political rights). Now, incredibly, he claims that Macedo’s resignation and the almost-certain abandonment of the charges against López Obrador represent the defense of democracy and the rule of law.


[An] oft-heard comment in coverage of the march that pushed Fox into ending his crusade was that many were not marching for López Obrador himself so much as against the ugly politics that the people have so clearly rejected in the past. In this way, though the political context is very different, the marchers had in mind the same feelings as the “forajidos” in Ecuador, and those all over América who have struggled as part of the political changes sweeping Latin America.

The U.S. State Department has still had nothing to say so far about all of this upheaval right next door. While Condoleezza Rice travels around South America to shower praise on Colombia’s Uribe and voice her “concern” over other governments’ moves towards regional integration and independence from foreign domination [...], all State has to say about Mexico comes in the form of more shrill travel warnings about the threat to U.S. citizens from narcos across the border.

  Narco News article

He saw the handwriting on the wall. Which you can do, if you don't isolate yourself in a bubble from the people.

¡Vive la democracia!

Can I get a witness!

Rep. Jim Moran (D-VA): "In 1983 [Social Security] was fixed, and the Congressional Budget Office says we’re good up until 2052…Social Security is the only solvent fund we have in the government today really, its got 1.7 trillion dollars of surplus today. We’re going to have a surplus of two to three hundred billion for every year until the next 30 years."


President Bush is holding an event to promote his plan in Moran's district Friday. The events — like most of those the president held during his presidential campaign — are prescreened to include supporters. Moran suggested that such events may have contributed to what he sees as a sense of "self-delusion" Bush has shown in promoting a plan that polls poorly with the American public.

"I don’t think he has much experience with regular people that haven’t been prescreened," he said.

"The only actual news that he reads is the sports section. All the national news, all the opinions that he gets have been filtered, and it goes to his daily briefing that has already been pre-screened to give him what he wants to read. He doesn’t read any books, and he doesn’t talk with people that don’t already agree with him," he added. "He’s surrounded himself with ideological sycophants. And the biggest ass-kisser of all is Dick Cheney."

  Raw Story article

You just can't argue with logic

Israel has rejected a proposal by the United States to supply the Palestinian police officers in the West Bank with weapons that would assist them in performing their duties.

American officials have told their Israeli interlocutors over the past few days that the Palestinian security forces need weapons to help them maintain order in the territories. In response, the U.S. officials heard a negative reply from Israeli officials: "Let them first take the weapons from the terrorists."

  Haaretz article

Without weapons. However they can manage.

[A] German regional justice minister proposed fitting long-term unemployed people with electronic tags used for to monitor criminals in order to help them "get back into an ordered daily routine."

Christean Wagner, a conservative politician in the central state of Hesse, also compared people out of work for a number of years with recovering drug addicts.

"An electronic foot shackle offers the long-term unemployed and drug addicts undergoing treatment the chance to get back into an ordered daily routine and find a job or get some training," Wagner said in a statement.

Wagner added that "many of them have got out of the habit of following normal hours and so are compromising their chances of working or getting training."

  DW World article

Well, they're pissed at him in Germany, but I see a bright future for him here in the U.S.

Speaking of fascism...

Portland won't particpate.
The City Council on Thursday approved a recommendation to withdraw police officers from an FBI-led anti-terror task force after federal authorities refused to raise the mayor's security clearance to let him keep closer watch over its activities.


The city is the first in the nation to pull out of the Joint Terrorism Task Force - a network the federal agency has put together across the country.

  Las Vegas Sun article

Ghost detainees: new rules

The CIA will no longer be allowed to hold unregistered "ghost" detainees at U.S. military prisons such as Iraq's Abu Ghraib, the Pentagon's top intelligence official said on Thursday.

  Yahoo article

They'll have to add rooms on to their secret locations in other countries to take those displaced 'detainees'.

Oh wait. Never mind. It's not even being enforced...
[Undersecretary of defense for intelligence, Stephen] Cambone said the just published interim guidelines were different from a forthcoming Army interrogation manual, which the New York Times said on Thursday would bar harsh techniques disclosed in the Abu Ghraib prisoner abuse scandal.


"So that assumes there will be no more so-called ghost prisoners in our military prisons?" pressed McCain.

"Sir, to the extent that we can assure you that. I'm here to do that for you," Cambone answered.

McCain satisfied?

Victims of US fascism sue

Two teachers arrested at a 2004 campaign rally for President Bush and strip-searched at a county jail have filed a lawsuit alleging law officers conspired to violate their constitutional rights.

Alice McCabe and Christine Nelson, both in their 50s, were among five protesters arrested at the Sept. 3 rally. The pair were handcuffed, taken to the county jail, strip-searched and charged with criminal trespass. The charges were dropped months later.


McCabe and Nelson - described in the lawsuit as political novices motivated by their opposition to Bush administration policies in Iraq - attended the rally at a city park, where McCabe held a sheet of paper urging, "No More War," and Nelson wore a John Kerry button.

A Secret Service agent allegedly told McCabe, who was on a sidewalk near the rally, that she was on private property and would have to move. When they moved to a parking area, the agent approached again and repeated the order.

After asking why, McCabe was arrested by a state trooper. Nelson was arrested later by another trooper, according to the lawsuit.


"I believe the federal government behaved very badly in this situation," said David O'Brien, the women's attorney.

  Fresno Bee article

Ladies, you need a different attorney. Behaved very badly.

Bumper sticker

On an old pickup. Sorry I didn't have my camera.

Frodo Failed
Bush Has the Ring

Update 9:00 am: From LaBelle...

susan and i saw one in lawrence she tried to capture with her phone but it just didn't show up enough to tell what it said. kansas's new motto is 'kansas - just as big as you thought'. what the hell that's supposed to mean we don't know, but the bumper sticker said 'kansas - just as biggoted as you thought'.

Thursday, April 28, 2005

Kevin Benderman update

The Army has denied Sgt. Kevin Benderman's request for a discharge as a conscientious objector.

The 3rd Infantry Division non-commissioned officer received word late Wednesday of the Army's decision, his wife Monica said Thursday.

The Army chain of command said it doubted Benderman's sincerity and believed the Fort Stewart-based soldier was simply trying to get out of going back to Iraq, where he had been deployed in 2003.

Monica Benderman said she found the speed of the denial -- not so much the decision itself -- surprising.
  Savannah Now article
Well, I find the decision itself disgusting, but not surprising, either. They know they have to make an example of Sgt. Benderman, or they'll be flooded with soldiers applying for a CO to get out of the army.
The sergeant was meeting with his counsel Thursday to discuss options, Monica Benderman said.

The sergeant still faces a May 12 court-martial on charges that he missed his unit's January deployment and deserted.
Uh-huh, which as I understand it, his superior officer told him to do - not desert, but stay behind, since he was filing for CO status so near the deployment date.

Please visit the Bendermans' site (always in my sidebar).

9/11 cover-up: Sibel Edmonds latest

Washington -- April 25, 2005 -- -- Former FBI contract translator and whistleblower Sibel Edmonds and her attorneys were ordered removed from the E. Barrett Prettyman U.S. Courthouse so that a three-judge U.S. Court of Appeals panel could discuss her case in private with Bush administration lawyers.

In an exclusive interview on Saturday, we asked Edmonds if she would deny that laundered drug money linked to the 911 attacks found its way into recent House, Senate and Presidential campaign war-chests, according to what she heard in intelligence intercepts she was asked to translate.

"I will not deny that statement; but I cannot comment further on it."


"Tom, I’m telling you that not a single newspaper covered what happened to me on Thursday when I went into court," said the exasperated translator, adding, "[Judge David] Ginsberg kicked everyone out, cut off my lawyer’s arguments and told us ‘we have questions to ask the government’s attorneys that you cannot hear.’"


Criminal evidence in Edmonds’ explosive case is apparently getting too close to Washington officials, since the former contract linguist also told us she would not deny that "once this issue gets to be...investigated, you will be seeing certain [American] people that we know from this country standing trial; and they will be prosecuted criminally," revealing the content of the FBI intercepts she heard indicates that recognizable, very high-profile American citizens are linked to the 911 attacks.


We also wanted to know whether Edmonds thought the three Republican appeals court judges were taking drastic steps to clothe their private talks with Bush administration attorneys in secrecy for the purpose of conspiring to shield members of the President’s hierarchy from criminal prosecution and possible treason linked to the events of September 11:

Do you deny that the FBI intercepts you translated indicated that financial arrangements were in place well before the 911 attacks to both fund and profit from the terrorism while also facilitating the laundering of drug money into recent congressional and presidential campaigns?

"I cannot comment on that, Tom. You know I’m under a gag order," she said.

  Tom Flocco article

Background on Sibel Edmonds here on my 9/11 page.

A little late

I slighted Earth Day. And I apologize. On the other hand, it's allowed me to come across a couple of wonderful links.

Which is more awkward? Bush celebrating Earth Day, or Passover?

Bush and Corn. "World class twit", indeed. Do watch this video clip.

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

More on John Bolton

It just keeps on coming. A la Kerik.
"USA Today meanwhile, caught up with businesswoman Melody Townsel, who says Bolton once threw a file folder and a tape dispenser at an American businesswoman in Moscow, disparaged her weight and alleged she was gay in an attempt to get her to withdraw criticism of a foreign-aid project."

  Direland post

Totally unhinged

WIIIAI quotes Derr Rumsfiend:
I’m going to speculate here that a non-trivial portion of his [Zarqawi's] finances and his recruits come from outside the country. And they undoubtedly come through Syria, and they come through Iran, probably, and through other countries
See how that happened? Just by having a thought, he convinced himself that it was true. If he can think it, it must be so.

Rummy, of course, agrees with Myers that we’re winning: “And the more [our folks] scoop them up and the more they visit with them, the more they learn. And the more they learn, they more -- go out and scoop up others.” Visit with them? Has there ever been a blander euphemism for torture?

  WIIIAI post

More Rumsfiend:
"[W]hat you have is a relatively small number of people who have weapons and who have money and who are determined to try to prevent democracy from going forward. And it does not take a genius to go out and kill innocent men, women and children. That’s a perfectly doable thing in a society."

Today's birthday boy

Turns 68.

Do as I say...not as I do...

Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar. And sometimes, according to House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, a cigar is an economic prop to a brutal totalitarian regime. Arguing against loosening sanctions against Cuba last year, DeLay warned that Fidel Castro "will take the money. Every dime that finds its way into Cuba first finds its way into Fidel Castro's blood-thirsty hands.... American consumers will get their fine cigars and their cheap sugar, but at the cost of our national honor."


  Time article

Guiliana Sgrena story - further

Previous post.

The car in which an Italian secret agent died shielding a hostage from US "friendly fire" in Iraq has arrived in Italy for investigators to inspect.

  BBC article

You will recall that the Americans would not let the Italians look at the car until now. You think the evidence is the same as the day they shot up that car?

Yeah, yeah, yeah. I'm just offering up the conspiracy stuff today. For everything else about this government, its domestic policies and its foreign policies, just read: Same-o, same-o.

Come to think of it...that's all conspiracy, too.

Now, go make your beanie, scouts.

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

White House Ho story unfolding

Or maybe oozing.
April 25, 2005

Scott McClellan
Assistant to the President and Press Secretary
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20500

Dear Mr. McClellan,

We write to ask you to identify who in your office, or in the White House generally, gave Mr. James Guckert a.k.a. "Jeff Gannon" virtually unfettered access to the White House. In reviewing the response to our Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) to the Department of Homeland Security several of our specific concerns were validated. While your office and the White House have claimed Gannon was treated as just another reporter, the records we have obtained affirm that Gannon was granted access to the White House which appears to be unusual for any reporter. Out of concern for not only security, but also avoiding White House dissemination of propaganda, we request an explanation to the following:


2. The records show that Mr. "Gannon" was allowed access to the White House 38 times when no public press events occurred. He also spent hours in the White House both before and after press events took place. With whom did he meet on those occasions and what was the subject matter of those meetings?

3. On 13 occasions there is a record where he checked in with security, but is never registered as leaving the White House complex. How do you explain this?


In fact, these entry and exit records only raise more questions, as your office has issued conflicting statements about his activities and apparently abused the press pass policy to avoid a full-fledged background investigation and allow Republican propaganda to be disseminated through a counterfeit media operation and a fake reporter.

Mr. McClellan, we have yet to receive any direct communication from your office in response to our repeated requests for information. The American people deserve to know what is happening in the White House Briefing room. It is unacceptable that you continue to deny them this information.



Rep. Louise Slaughter
Ranking Member
House Rules Committee

Rep. John Conyers, Jr.
Ranking Member
House Judiciary Committee

  Raw Story article

The James Jeff Gannon Guckert story is giving new meaning to the press terms "hard pass" and "debriefing".

Maru has a suggestive photo.

Maybe he's just Karl Roverer's toy, but it would be rather fitting if he turns out to be Butthead's butt boy.

Still trying to one-up Clinton. "If he could get away with that Lewinsky affair...."

For previous posts following this story: start here.

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

Update 8:30am:

e-mails to and from
From: Abbe Buck - HighViz []
Sent: Tuesday, April 26, 2005 7:00 AMT
Subject: Yahoo! News Story - Records: Writer at White House 196 Times

Abbe Buck ( has sent you a news article.

Personal message: Jeff, Hope you have your lawyer and your spokesperson in place. This apparently is going to get bumpier. Abbe B.


From: Jeff Gannon [mailto:]
Sent: Tuesday, April 26, 2005 7:43 AM
Subject: RE: Yahoo! News Story - Records: Writer at White House 196 Times

They proved I showed up for work! Ha!

  Highvizpr post

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

When you put it that way... can you lose?
"The United States and the coalition forces, in my personal view, will not be the thing that will defeat the insurgency. So therefore, winning or losing is not the issue for 'we,' in my view, in the traditional conventional context of using the word winning and losing and of war."

-- Donald Rumsfeld, Pentagon briefing

  Defense Link article

General Myers interjects:
"I'm going to say this: I think we are winning, OK? I think we're definitely winning. I think we've been winning for some time."

  Alternet Alternet article

Daily Twain

Just felt like emphasizing today's random Mark Twain quote (sidebar):
"Often it does seem a pity that Noah and his party did not miss the boat." --Mark Twain

Bolton is our man

[Frederick Vreeland, a former U.S. ambassador to Morocco], who worked with Bolton in the early 1990s under the first President Bush, said Bolton "dealt with visitors to his office as if they were servants with whom he could be dismissive, curt and negative."

"He spoke of the U.N. as being the enemy," Vreeland added in the e-mail sent Friday to Sen. Joseph Biden of Delaware. The e-mail was first reported by Time magazine. "It is totally erroneous to speak of Bolton as a diplomat."


"Bolton has none of the qualities needed for that job," [Vreeland] said in an e-mail to the top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. "On the contrary, he has all the qualities needed to harm the image and objectives in the U.N. and its affiliated international organizations. If it is now U.S. policy not to reform the U.N but to destroy it, Bolton is our man."

  USA Today article

Imaginary persecution

Again with the "Christians are persecuted" meme. This time from a Bush administration judicial nominee: Janice Brown.
“These are perilous times for people of faith. Not in the sense that we are going to lose our lives, but in the sense that it will cost you something if you are a person of faith who stands up for what you believe in and say those things out loud.”

  Think Progress article

What will cost you - what is actually proving to be costing people - is speaking against the Bush administration. Or even supporting Bush opposition. Show me where a Christian in this country has paid anything for speaking their beliefs. Please.

Senator Boxer walking the walk

Again. Bulldog. Boxer. Whatever.
[Senator Boxer's] office has released a report looking at the 1981 Texas plan. In 1981, three Texas counties “decided to opt out of Social Security and instead to provide their public employees with a system of privatized accounts.” The analysis done by Boxer’s office and the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service “compares two sets of families in three different income brackets [and] shows what happens to their retirement in 2005 under Social Security and under the Texas plan.” The conclusion:
By examining the actual system in place in Texas, this study shows that Americans are worse off with privatized accounts - not in theory, but in reality.

  Tnik Progress article

In fact, the Social Security Administration did an analysis of the Galveston plan in 1999. The report showed well-paid workers with no kids did slightly better in the short run under the plan. As for everyone else:
Social Security tends to offer higher initial benefits than the Galveston Plan to workers with lower earnings and/or families with dependents who qualify for Social Security benefits. Although many of Galveston’s initial benefits are higher than Social Security’s, they are not indexed to inflation and lose value relative to Social Security’s over time.

  Think Progress article

Cutting out the opposition

Very third-worldly.
The Inter-American Telecommunication Commission meets three times a year in various cities across the Americas to discuss such dry but important issues as telecommunications standards and spectrum regulations. But for this week's meeting in Guatemala City, politics has barged onto the agenda. At least four of the two dozen or so U.S. delegates selected for the meeting, sources tell TIME, have been bumped by the White House because they supported John Kerry's 2004 campaign.

The State Department has traditionally put together a list of industry representatives for these meetings, and anyone in the U.S. telecom industry who had the requisite expertise and wanted to go was generally given a slot, say past participants. Only after the start of Bush's second term did a political litmus test emerge, industry sources say.

The White House admits as much: "We wanted people who would represent the Administration positively, and--call us nutty--it seemed like those who wanted to kick this Administration out of town last November would have some difficulty doing that," says White House spokesman Trent Duffy. Those barred from the trip include employees of Qualcomm and Nokia, two of the largest telecom firms operating in the U.S., as well as Ibiquity, a digital-radio-technology company in Columbia, Md. One nixed participant, who has been to many of these telecom meetings and who wants to remain anonymous, gave just $250 to the Democratic Party.

  Time article

Now you know why anyone who wanted to have a job or do business in Iraq under Saddam belonged to the Baath party.

Changing the rules when it suits you - part whatever

The country's leading business lobbying associations, close GOP allies in recent legislative efforts and political campaigns, have told senior Republicans that they would not back the Frist initiative to force votes on President Bush's judicial nominees.

Business leaders say they fear the move would lead to a shutdown of Senate action on long-awaited priorities — as Democrats have threatened if Frist moves ahead with a rule change that they say would drastically alter the traditions of a body designed to respect the rights of the minority party.

  LA Times article

Senator Boxer on C-SPAN the other evening reminded us that Frist the Moral, who so dearly wants to eliminate the fillibuster rule, voted to extend it a couple years ago when the Democrats were trying to seat a judge in California.

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

Only in North Carolina

....or maybe in Texas. And Florida.
A bill before the [North Carolina] state House would allow pharmacists who oppose abortion to refuse to fill prescriptions based on their moral or religious beliefs, stirring debate over whether druggists have the right to countermand a doctor's directive.

The "conscience clause," introduced this week by state Rep. Jeff Barnhart, R-Cabarrus, would protect a position advocated by some pharmacists, including the man who heads the Medicaid drug program in North Carolina.

  News 14 Charlotte article

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


Tens of the thousands of Jewish extremists are flooding the Aqsa Mosque under the guise of observing the Jewish Passover festival after fanatic Jewish groups failed to storm the Aqsa last April 10.

"The Israeli occupation forces will pave the way for tens of thousands of Jews to gather at the Buraq plaza at the western wall of the Aqsa Mosque during daytime", according to Israeli media sources said.


According to Israeli intelligence theories, fanatic Jews will try to destroy Al Aqsa using a bomb-laden car or a small plane, or one of the extremist Jews might carry out a suicide attack inside the holy mosque.

  Aljazeera International article

al Aqsa

Saudi buddy agrees to boost oil production

Saudi Arabia has outlined a plan to increase oil production capacity to 12.5 million barrels per day (mbpd) by 2009 from the current 11 million limit.

Saudi Arabia now pumps about 9.5 million barrels daily. If necessary, Saudi Arabia says it will eventually develop a capacity of 15mbpd.


Subhi Ghandur, director of the Arab al-Hiwar (Dialogue) Centre in Washington, told Aljazeera: "Some, not all, Americans know that only 10% of US oil imports come from Saudi Arabia while the rest comes from other countries, mostly non-Arab.

"Any increase in Saudi oil production will not change oil prices in the United States a great deal.

"It [the issue] is nothing but media and political propaganda serving the US administration's special interests," he added.


Ghandur added: "I believe the US administration seeks a number of objectives, bigger than oil issues, such as attempting to move the Middle East into a new situation where a kind of US-sponsored security [mechanism] is achieved and where political views change according to US standards."

  Aljazeera article

Bush strolling Saudi prince at Casa Fabricata

Ooops, look out fer the cow pies. Lots of b.s. out here in Texas.

Update 11:00 am: Apparently this wasn't even anything new...

The Saudis presented a plan to increase oil production over the next decade in what the Wall Street Journal described as a “recap of plans the Saudis already had announced.”

  Think Progress post

Danny Schechter film

Click image for info and access to trailer and flash media.

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

Council on Europe condemns US treatment of prisoners

Europe’s human rights body condemned the United States Tuesday for using "torture" on suspects held at Guantanamo Bay and called on European countries not to cooperate in interrogating Guantanamo detainees.


The Council of Europe issued a resolution in which it urged the U.S. to cease the practice of secret detentions and to investigate all instances of unlawful treatment of detainees at the naval base in eastern Cuba.

  Aljazeera article

Well, there's paper wasted.

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

Turkey's arm twisting must finally be working

After months of delay, Turkey's Cabinet approved a long-standing U.S. request to have increased access to a strategic air base for flying into Iraq and Afghanistan.

The Cabinet’s decision was another step toward improving relations with Washington that were strained when Turkey refused to allow U.S. troops to stage an invasion of Iraq from Turkish territory in March 2003.

  Aljazeera International article

Or maybe it wasn't an arm-twisting. Maybe it was a bribe.

Iraq, Afghanistan. Iran and Syria as well.

For future reference:
Tuesday's addendum to the Duelfer report concludes that there not only were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, but that the rumors put around by the Bush administration and by Fox Cable News that the WMD was sent to Syria are unsubstantiated. (By this point in the story, we may take that to mean flatly "false," or perhaps "lies.") I never thought the Syria story made any sense. You can't truck off thousands of tons of chemical weapons to Syria without being observed (we do have satellites that take a pretty good picture). And the Iraqi nuclear program was dismantled by the UN inspectors from 1991. There's no evidence of a biological weapons program after about 1995. So what exactly was transported to Syria? It was just a pretext put about by the crowd that wants American boys to die fighting in Syria for some vague geopolitical or economic goal (or just to give Ariel Sharon the elbow room to annex ever more Arab territory).

  Juan Cole post

US Supreme Court, Bush: Saddam wasn't that bad

The Supreme Court dismissed the POWs case as well as an award of $959 million that the seventeen soldiers had won against Iraq in a lower federal court.

The lawsuit filed by the former POWs, as well as 37 members of their families, claimed that they had suffered from "severe beatings, starvation, and subjection to severe cold and filth" during their captivity in Iraq.

  Aljazeera article

A little hard to sue for that when you're using it yourself.
In July 2003, the soldiers won nearly $1 billion verdict in a federal trial court in Washington.

But the Bush administration intervened in the case and pushed for the verdict to be dismissed.

The administration said that Iraq couldn’t be sued under federal law after the 2003 U.S.-led invasion. It also stated that the money that had been awarded to the former POWs was needed for reconstruction work in war-torn Iraq.
Support our troops.

Giuliana Sgrena incident

While US investigators have concluded that American soldiers who shot and killed an Italian intelligence officer at a Baghdad checkpoint followed instructions for dealing with potential threats, Italian government said the inquiry will continue.


The US official, who spoke Monday, left open whether soldiers at the temporary checkpoint during the shooting could face criticism for their performance. However, a conclusion that they followed orders would make it less likely they would be accused of making significant mistakes.


Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and General Richard Myers, chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, acknowledged yesterday that Italian officials who participated in the investigation have still not signed off on the report's conclusions. article

Well, good for Italy.

This government is shameless. Investigation. Nope. We didn't do anything wrong. It's a foregone conclusion. We didn't do anything wrong anywhere, ever. And if we did, it was just a couple of low-ranking scapegoats. Or a woman. Acting alone.

Banana Republic of America.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

This will surprise you

The UN's top human rights investigator in Afghanistan has been forced out under American pressure just days after he presented a report criticising the US military for detaining suspects without trial and holding them in secret prisons.

  Independent UK article

Why destroy the UN when you can control it?

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

You remember John James Guckert Gannon...

In what is unlikely to stem the controversy surrounding disgraced White House correspondent James Guckert, the Secret Service has furnished logs of the writer's access to the White House after requests by two Democratic congressmembers.

The documents, obtained by Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-NY) and Rep. John Conyers (D-MI) through a Freedom of Information Act request, reveal Guckert had remarkable access to the White House. Guckert made 202 appearances at the White House during his two-year tenure with the fledging conservative websites GOPUSA and Talon News, attending 155 of 196 White House press briefings.

  Raw Story article

Perhaps more notable than the frequency of his attendance, however, is several distinct anomalies about his visits.

Guckert made more than two dozen excursions to the White House when there were no scheduled briefings. On many of these days, the Press Office held press gaggles aboard Air Force One—which raises questions about what Guckert was doing at the White House. On other days, the president held photo opportunities.

On at least fourteen occasions, Secret Service records show either the entry or exit time missing. Generally, the existing entry or exit times correlate with press conferences; on most of these days, the records show that Guckert checked in but was never processed out.

In March, 2003, Guckert left the White House twice on days he had never checked in with the Secret Service. Over the next 22 months, Guckert failed to check out with the Service on fourteen days. On several of these visits, Guckert either entered or exited by a different entry/exit point than his usual one.

  Raw Story article

Buttie's got a lover. Buttie's got a lover.

Bolton - more to come

I saw Senator Barbara Boxer on C-SPAN last night. Among other things, she said that there is another person lined up to testify against John Bolton's nomination to the UN ambassadorship. This woman was an attorney whom Bolton demoted to a basement office without a phone when she refused to do some dirty work for him. Remember the Nestle infant formula scandal regarding marketing and sales in third world countries where it was being mixed with contaminated water? This woman will testify that Bolton told her to get on the horn to those countries' governments who were objecting and tell them to back off so that Nestle could continue its sales. She refused. He tried to fire her. He couldn't, so he moved her office to the basement and took away her phone.

Monday, April 25, 2005

Breaking the Marine code of silence

In returning home, the leaders and Marine infantrymen have chosen to break an institutional code of silence and tell their story, one they say was punctuated not only by a lack of armor, but also by a shortage of men and planning that further hampered their efforts in battle, destroyed morale and ruined the careers of some of their fiercest warriors.

The saga of Company E, part of a lionized battalion nicknamed the Magnificent Bastards, is also one of fortitude and ingenuity.


The unit had less than half the troops who are now doing its job in Ramadi, and resorted to making dummy marines from cardboard cutouts and camouflage shirts to place in observation posts on the highway when it ran out of men. During one of its deadliest firefights, it came up short on both vehicles and troops. Marines who were stranded at their camp tried in vain to hot-wire a dump truck to help rescue their falling brothers. That day, 10 men in the unit died.


Even some maps they were given to plan raids were several years old, showing farmland where in fact there were homes, said a company intelligence expert, Cpl. Charles V. Lauersdorf, who later went to work for the Defense Intelligence Agency. There, he discovered up-to-date imagery that had not found its way to the front lines.


Company E's experiences still resonate today both in Iraq, where two more marines were killed last week in Ramadi by the continuing insurgency, and in Washington, where Congress is still struggling to solve the Humvee problem. Just on Thursday, the Senate voted to spend an extra $213 million to buy more fully armored Humvees. The Army's procurement system, which also supplies the Marines, has come under fierce criticism for underperforming in the war, and to this day it has only one small contractor in Ohio armoring new Humvees.

  NY Times article

And the "insurgency" is gaining strength.

Inching toward that showdown?

Venezuela's President Chavez has terminated a 35-year military exchange program because he says the U.S. officers in Venezuela were trying to propagandize the soldiers against their own government. Two days later, he reports that Venezuela has arrested a woman linked to the U.S. military for taking pictures of a Venezuelan military installation.

Saudi slippage?

President Bush on Monday said he would tell Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah that high oil prices will damage the markets and that he wanted to talk about Saudi oil capacity.

"The crown prince understands that it is very important to make sure that prices are reasonable. High oil prices will damage markets," Bush told reporters before welcoming the Saudi leader at his Texas ranch.

  Reuters article

Wait a minute - I thought we had all that settled. Bush has to ask again?

Maybe the tide is shifting in Saudi Arabia?

Candidates on a "golden list" backed by conservative clerics swept the final stage of Saudi Arabia's landmark municipal elections, according to results announced Saturday.

The victories further the already strong showing of Islamists in the kingdom's tentative experiment with democracy.


Whether the results were an indication of popular support or the result of rule-bending clerical involvement, the Saudi monarchy will now need to decide how much influence to permit the Islamists.

  CNN article

The CNN article implies that this was actually an attempt to defuse Islamic militant sentiments by allowing some of them in on the game, at least in appearance. If so, I bet it won't work. At least I'm guessing that Islamic militants are not to be fooled by appearance.

The insurgency is not fizzling?

Just a few weeks after US military officials optimistically predicted that the Iraq insurgency was 'fizzling' because the number of attacks per day was down, many of those same officials now believe they were wrong, and that the insurgency is strengthing again.

The Boston Globe reported Sunday that US military officials now believe that the greater coordination and sophistocation of attacks demonstrated by insurgents in recent weeks means they have changed their tactics, rather than disappeared or given up.

  Christian Science Monitor article

By now, you'd think the "experts" would assume that's what happens every time they think the "insurgency is fizzling."
More troublesome is that these same military experts also believe that the insurgents "are making inroads toward sparking a full-blown sectarian war," and that it may not be possible for the US to reduce its troop strength as quickly as some recent Defense Department statements have indicated.
Wow. What a surprise.
The inability of the US army to secure the seven-mile road between Baghdad and the airport, also the site of the main US military base, has become a symbol of the failure of the US in Iraq. Heavily armored US patrols, prone to open fire unpredictably, are regarded as being as dangerous as the insurgents.


The Washington Post reports that many of the attacks have gone unchallenged by the Iraqi forces, particularly in areas of the country largely controlled by insurgents. US officials are also privately saying that "violence is getting much worse."

"The problem isn't the equipment," [Rwandan General] Kagame told me. "The problem is always the man behind it. Does he understand why he is fighting?" In his view, determined and well-disciplined fighters, motivated by coherent ideas of political improvement, can always best the soldiers of a corrupt regime that stands for nothing but its own power.

-- Paul Gourevitch, We wish to inform you that tomorrow we will be killed with our families, p. 218

And, by the way, the new Iraqi government is not off to a smooth start. What a surprise.

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

For those of you with better financial brains...

Mine is actually non-existent, so I don't know if this makes sense or not...
An interesting story appeared briefly a few days ago. Two men were arrested with three trillion (with a "t") in fake US Federal Reserve Negotiable Certificates, sometimes called "bearer bonds". What is interesting about the story is how the US Mainstream media pretty much ignored the whole thing.


Details of the story are sketchy. Acting on a tip, Philippine police arrested two men in the process of paying for a shipment of some iron boxes to Zurich. Upon opening the boxes, police discovered what was first reported to be Federal Reserve notes, then later corrected to "certificates", totaling three trillion dollars. The two arrested men were released on bail, warrants issued for two other men involved in the crime... and there the story ends.


[C]ounterfeit beaerer bonds headed for Zurich strongly suggest the destination was a bank.

So, what happens when three trillion shows up all at one time? At the very least, three trillion dollars worth of paper dumped into the US economy at one time would trigger a sudden inflationary spiral; the usual result of too much cash chasing too few goods and services. Three trillion dollars in bonds presented for redemption through the banks in Zurich could trigger a run on the Federal Reserve itself, as even the Federal Reserve does not keep that kind of cash or even gold reserves at hand. Since the bonds were fakes, the ultimate mastermind could care less if the "money" was lost, and anyone willing to "lose" three trillion dollars in just the right way could bring down the entire US stock market.


Three trillion in fake Federal Reserve Certificates could do huge damage to the nation, yet the mainstream media that screams "terrorism" everytime a taxicab backfires in Bahgdad has totally buried this story.

  What Really Happened article

Bob...your answer...

Bob wrote an interesting comment on my Maurice Strong post asking...
[W]ith all this talk about Korea, where's Rev. Moon?
Well, Rigorous Intuition read your mind. (Intuitive?)
I wrote that Maurice Strong stepped down as UN envoy to Korea because of his ties to a businessman linked to the oil-for-food scandal. It was a huge oversight of mine that I neglected to identify the businessman as Tongsun Park, a principal in the old "Koreagate" affair, and that Tongsun Park leads to Sun Myung Moon.


Learning that Strong's Baca sanctuary sits atop one of the world's largest aquafers reminds me of Moon's purchase of 600,000 hectares of arid land in Paraguay's Chaco. Below it rests the "Guarani aquifer, the largest resource of fresh drinking water in the world, where Moon's associates claim he wishes to build an ecological paradise."


We regarded how, at age 18, Strong came under the wing of the Rockefeller clan. (The Rockefeller patronage of Moon has also been noted, and bears further attention.) The recently-deceased Laurence was well-known for his patronage of esoteric research, particularly UFOs and crop circles.


So what do we have? Two huge post-apocalyptic sanctuaries resting atop enormous aquifers. Two billionaire globalists, one a New Age mystic and the other a cultist who has insinuated himself into the leadership of the America's conservative evangelical movement, both patronized by the Rockefellers. UFOs and crop circles. Welcome to our world.

Check out that post, along with the comments. Eg:
From Henry Kissinger’s 25th tribute to David Rockefeller on the occasion of the U.S. Group’s 25th Anniversary Evening, December 1, 1998: “David’s function in our society is to recognize great tasks, to overcome the obstacles, to help find and inspire the people to carry them out, and to do it with remarkable delicacy....”

Remarkable delicacy indeed.
If this interests you and you didn't read my Strong post, go back and check that out. Then check the references in the comments in this Rigorous Intuition post to Rockefeller's relationship to Maitreya. Maitreya? Oh boy, boys and girls. Here it comes.

It's all coming together so nicely.

Graphic courtesy Billmon

¡Vive la democracia!

Hundreds of thousands of Mexicans marched in silence on Sunday against government efforts to put a popular leftist politician on trial in a battle that could knock him out of presidential elections.

Protesters crammed into Mexico City's vast central square and narrow streets of the historic downtown, many waving banners condemning the legal case against Mexico City's mayor, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador.

"Don't let democracy die," read one banner. Others vilified President Vicente Fox as a traitor and dictator.

Elderly men and women stood shoulder to shoulder with young families, middle class professionals and students, a sign of the feisty politician's broad appeal.

A two-hour silent march erupted with cheers and applause when Lopez Obrador took to the stage to attack the government and promise an all-out assault on poverty if he is elected.

"We will continue to fight peacefully. We are sure our cause is just and that it will triumph," he shouted, pledging to use Mexico's oil wealth and other natural resources to improve the lives of its 40 million poor.

  Swiss Info article

Well, that'll get him killed.
The mayor owes much of his popularity to ambitious public works programs and cash handouts to pensioners and the poor.

Those spending policies, his fiery rhetoric and a combative style worry some business leaders and Wall Street investors, who fear the arrival of a populist government in Mexico, a major oil exporter and U.S. trade partner.
Do we have enough CIA force in Mexico?


Scientists have begun putting genes from human beings into food crops in a dramatic extension of genetic modification. The move, which is causing disgust and revulsion among critics, is bound to strengthen accusations that GM technology is creating "Frankenstein foods" and drive the controversy surrounding it to new heights.


Environmentalists say that no one will want to eat the partially human-derived food because it will smack of cannibalism.

  Independent UK article

Although the crossing of human and plant life lends itself to some nice images, remember all those "myths" about creatures that were part animal and part human? So maybe they're not myths at all. Maybe they're our future (and our past, as the world cycles round and round and round ad infinitum).

Now, here's the kicker - the reason...
Japanese researchers have inserted a gene from the human liver into rice to enable it to digest pesticides and industrial chemicals.


Present GM crops are modified with genes from bacteria to make them tolerate herbicides, so that they are not harmed when fields are sprayed to kill weeds. But most of them are only able to deal with a single herbicide, which means that it has to be used over and over again, allowing weeds to build up resistance to it.

But the researchers at the National Institute of Agrobiological Sciences in Tsukuba, north of Tokyo, have found that adding the human touch gave the rice immunity to 13 different herbicides. This would mean that weeds could be kept down by constantly changing the chemicals used.

There you go! Don't quit applying pesticides and industrial chemicals. Hell no. That would ruin the chemical industry. Instead, modify the plants so they can digest those toxic chems. Ah, the ingenuity of man! Impressive, isn't it?

I think if we just cut to the chase and started eating each other, everything would come to a nice resolution eventually.

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

Prison planet

We're creating our own cell wall.

A New York Times newspaper article is putting NASA officials in the hot seat about what they really knew about the dangers of shuttle debris.

The paper said they have documents from NASA that prove the agency downplayed how dangerous shuttle debris is, to get astronauts back in to space as quickly as possible.

NASA said it runs extensive tests on everything and the shuttle program is now the safest it has ever been.

  Capital News 9 article

Up to now more than 180 explosions and 1 collision in space have been recorded. Further explosions and collisions are most likely. The explosions are mainly caused by onboard energy sources, either due to a pressure build-up in propellant tanks, battery explosions, or the ignition of hypergolic fuels. Each explosion creates thousands of small debris objects.

  Science Daily article

[Two] pieces of rocket hardware have collided high above Earth. The orbital run-in involved a 31-year-old U.S. rocket body and a fragment from a more recently launched Chinese rocket stage.

The collision occurred on January 17 of this year, with the incident happening some 550 miles (885 kilometers) above Earth. That area of low Earth orbit (LEO) has an above-average satellite population density.


The Orbital Debris Quarterly News also reports another accidental collision.

This one took place in late December 1991. In this case, a Russian non-functional navigation satellite, Cosmos 1934, had a run-in with a piece of junk from a sister spacecraft, Cosmos 926.


[The] first recognized fender-bender between cataloged objects from different missions involved an operational spacecraft and a fragment from a launch vehicle upper stage which had suffered a post-mission breakup.

In that event -- which happened on July 24, 1996 -- the French CERISE spacecraft collided with a fragment from the third stage of an Ariane 1 booster, which had exploded ten years earlier. article

The fact that we have a publication called Orbital Debris Quarterly News speaks volumes.
The problem of space debris is a shameful relic of several hundred explosions and mishaps in outer space. Getting past it is the deadly gamble of every space mission. There is no defense against it. And man made nearly every bit of it in less than four decades.

  Russell Hoffman's Space Debris home page

There are a few pieces of natural space junk orbiting the earth, but more than 99.9%--is man-made. Within 2000 miles of earth some 7 million pounds of space junk is orbiting. [...] In fact, about every seven years since about 1965 the amount of space debris in near-earth orbit has doubled.


[S]cientists recently calculated that the problem is so bad that in the future, near-earth orbit space debris will collide with itself so much and so often that there will be a permanent cloud of debris rather than the millions of discreet items that exist now. In other words, without doing a thing to add more debris to the equation, we've put so much up there the equivalent of a nuclear explosion will occur--actually is occurring--wherein pieces of debris collide with other pieces of debris, creating more pieces of debris, which in turn collide with each other, creating still more debris.

  Russell Hoffman article

What will a "permanent cloud of debris" do to incoming solar rays?

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

Falljua remade

The NY Times in Falluja

by Mike Whitney
Progressive Trail
April 18, 2005

"Things are almost back to normal here. We have teachers and books. Things are getting better."

-- New York Times, "Vital Signs of a Ruined City Grow stronger in Falluja," March 26, 2005

"I knew that I could never again raise my voice against the violence of the oppressed in the ghettos without having first spoken clearly to the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today - my own government."

-- Rev. Martin Luther King

Cameras aren't allowed in Falluja. Neither are journalists. If they were then we would have first-hand proof of America's greatest war crime in the last 30 years: the Dresden-like bombardment of an entire city of 250,000. Instead, we have to rely on eyewitness accounts that appear on the internet or the spurious reports that sporadically surface in the New York Times and Associated Press. For the most part, the Times and AP have shown themselves to be undependable, limiting their coverage to the details that support the overall goals of the occupation. For example, in the last few weeks both the NYT and the AP ran stories on the alleged progress being made in Falluja. The AP outrageously referred to the battered city as "the safest place in Iraq," a cynical appraisal of what most independent journalists have called nearly total destruction.


The truth about Falluja is far different than the bogus reports in the AP and Times. The fact that even now, a full 6 months after the siege, camera crews and journalists are banned from the city, tells us a great deal about the extent of America's war crimes. Just two weeks ago, a photographer from Al Aribiyya news was arrested while leaving Falluja and his equipment and film were confiscated. To date, he is still being held without explanation and there is no indication when he will be released.


The fairytales in the Times and AP are typical wartime propaganda; no different from the fabrications about Jessica Lynch's heroics or the Dear Leader larking about in Baghdad with a plastic turkey in tow (Bush's "surprise" Thanksgiving day visit).


Falluja is undoubtedly doomed to the same fate as Afghanistan. The media will create the illusion of improvement for the American public, celebrating the meaningless trappings of democracy (sham elections, claims of sovereignty, and the writing of a constitution) while the nation remains fractured and under the brutal rule of the regional warlords. Afghanistan is a lawless, drug colony run by gangsters and narco smugglers. By any standard of measurement, our involvement there has been a complete failure.

The real Afghanistan bears no resemblance to the flourishing democratic republic that graces the pages of American newspapers.

Falluja and the rest of Iraq can expect the very same treatment.


Deregulation, privatization and control of resources, the same model applied over and over again. The real goal is a radical, fundamental change to the system; "shock therapy," the all-purpose antidote prescribed by the global banking and financial establishment. [...] After Iraq has passed through this vicious transition from semi-socialist government to deregulated capitalist colony, it will be entered into the new world order of American protectorates, stripped of its resources and subjected to the tyranny of foreign rule. All government properties and services will be controlled by multinational corporations and all assets will be held by the foreign lending institutions that own the majority shares of the Iraqi National Bank.


The real story of Falluja will never appear in the pages of the New York Times; the banned weapons, the bloated corpses, the thousands of dead animals killed by illicit chemicals, the wasteland of rubble and ruined lives. The magnitude of the crime simply won't fit within the paper's glib account of benign intervention. Rather, the Times is focused on promoting a credible story of "rebirth amid the ruins," of lives patched together by a kindhearted father in Washington and his heavily armed disciples.

They're wasting their time.

  Occupation Watch article

All Falluja posts.

Sunday, April 24, 2005

Denouncing evil is a far cry from doing good

April 14, 2005

Rwandan President Paul Kagame, in a speech at Boston College Monday afternoon, marked the anniversary of the genocide that cost the lives of nearly a million of his countrymen in 1994, while endorsing quick action by the international community to address the current violence against civilians in the Darfur region of the Sudan.

"The Rwandan genocide was a crime against humanity," said Kagame, who led armed resistance to the mass slaughter as a guerilla general, and who since has been credited with restoring stability to the country as president.

  Boston College Chronicle article

The title of this post are words by author Philip Gourevitch which put me in mind of our current hosts in Washington (and many of ourselves) decrying the evil of men like Saddam Hussein, and whole countries like Iran and Syria, and whichever other country fits into our "axis of evil" agenda at the moment. In fact, reading Gourevitch's book We wish to inform you that tomorrow we will be killed with our families, about the 1994 Rwandan genocide, I came across numerous passages that remind me very much of our current position in the Middle East - at least the principles.

I'll post some of that, but first, some quotes from an interview with author Philip Gourevitch:

The story had been bothering me, which is to say that in April of 1994 a program of massacres began in Rwanda that ended up claiming the lives of 800,000 in a hundred days. People were murdered at a rate that exceeded by three times the speed the extermination of Jews during the Holocaust. It happened in our time, in front of our noses, somewhat before our cameras. And it vanished very quickly. As soon as the blood was dry the story disappeared from the newspapers. Nobody really had explained it. When one read the papers it didn't seem to me to make much sense. It was described as anarchy and chaos, which struck me as implausible simply because in order to kill at that clip requires organization, it requires method, it requires mobilization. It requires the opposite of anarchy and chaos. Mass destruction is not arbitrary, it doesn't just come about willy-nilly. Those things interested me. So in other words, I felt the story was being told wrong, and casually and cavalierly, and that in some basic way a great calamity had happened which we were quite content to be ignorant of.

I had spent some time prior to that writing about the early nineties when they built the Holocaust Museum in Washington and Schindler's List was coming out and there was all of this very hyped-up Holocaust commemoration rhetoric going around that by standing tall against intolerance we would ensure that nothing like this would ever happen again. The Holocaust Museum was dedicated in Washington on the mall in 1993 with this idea that it somehow or other has a preventive function. And I thought that was rubbish. I thought it was wishful thinking. I thought it was a fantasy. And I also thought, sadly, that denouncing evil is a far cry from doing good [...]


People like to go to the Holocaust Museum and say, that's who I relate to, the guy who did right. Either they relate somehow to the victim and feel bad about themselves and sorry for themselves, or they relate to the good guy. Very few go in there and say, oh yeah I probably would have been just like an ordinary conformist Nazi murderer, right? But probably the great majority of people who go through that museum would have been, because that's what the great majority of people in Europe were. They were either bystanders, collaborators, or in some other way morally reprehensible positions which are all too understandable. But there they are. But no, this museum allows you to fantasize that you're sort of morally excellent. And reality doesn't allow that fantasy much room, sadly.


The general who has essentially run Rwanda since the genocide, General Paul [Kagame], who is the vice president and minister of defense in the post-genocidal government, said something that made a strong impression on me in that context. He said, "People can be made bad and they can be taught to be good. And if you look," (he was saying this as an optimist in post-genocidal Rwanda), "the same mechanisms that could be used to pervert a society to that degree can be used to influence people towards harmony." And it struck me as both the most optimistic and the most cynical or sinister remark that one could make, because it makes one conscious of how utterly malleable and adaptable people are to context.

When the movie "Hotel Rwanda" came out, I thought the trailer looked interesting, and Don Cheadle seemed to be giving an especially good performance, but what really drew me to watch it was that it was based on a real-life character who had lived through the Rwandan genocide.

In 1994, at the height of the genocide activity, I was working in an agricultural department at the university with a post-doctoral student who happened to be a Tutsi from Rwanda. His entire family - what was left of it - including a wife and baby, were still in Rwanda. I don't now remember what city, but I remember well my bewilderment at his attitude. He told me very matter-of-factly that 18 of his closest kin had been murdered, and that his wife and child were living amidst the ongoing genocide. He wasn't able to reach them by phone except sporadically, but he said, without a hint of concern, "They're okay. They just have to stay inside the house."

Perhaps that's what made me incurious about what was happening in Rwanda; along with the seeming unconcern of the "international community" and the lack of news, perhaps I figured things must not be "that bad." All I really experienced regarding the situation at the time was a dislike for my co-worker - a man who could go gaily about his studies and work in the U.S., always looking for parties and after-work diversions, while his wife and child were confined to a house in another country for fear of the dangers of stepping into the streets. I tended then to think he must be exaggerating the number of relatives killed, looking for some attention perhaps - otherwise, how could he behave so casually? And, like today's non-news from Falluja, there wasn't much particularly distressing coming through the media here.

I'm sorry I didn't try to understand more of what was happening at that time. Were the man's wife and child Tutsi like him? I don't recall. If so, as it turns out, staying in the house was not going to save them. Did they survive the massacres? I don't know. Money for my co-worker's job came to an end, and he moved on.

There's so much I didn't understand in 1994 about the Tutsis and Hutus and what went before, during and afer the genocide - things that the book puts into perspective. Mr. Gourevitch not only recounts events, but asks the questions about humanity in such clear ways that it's also a good human nature philosophy discourse.

Also, the movie "Hotel Rwanda" is a good watch, even though there are discrepancies (as always with movies) between the film version and the actual events in Paul Rusesabagina's life. According to the Gourevitch account, on which the movie was based, in my opinion the actual events are more interesting.

And now for those passages from Gourevitch's account that reminded me in some sense of three things: our Middle East situation; our own precarious, fascist-leaning government and its citizenry; and that we humans go round and round and round on this planet, never learning anything much useful about ourselves.

I need to make a point here of saying that there is much, much more from this excellent piece of work to be gleaned, both as a historical account, and as a commentary on humanity, than these few passages. Gourevitch ponders all the questions that ought to be asked about something so incredible - something that isn't over (see below**) and yet has been relegated to obscurity as a news item by "the mainstream press". (It has nothing to do with us, does it? I mean, those people have been killing each other for forever. It's what they know. Just like those Middle Easterners. Just like the Sudanese. Does Rwanda have oil?)

Excerpts from We wish to inform you that tomorrow we will be killed with our families, 1998 - Philip Gourevitch:
p. 82

[...] Europe and North America began demanding gestures of democratization from their client regimes in Africa. It took a good deal of bullying, but after a meeting with his chief foreign patron, President François Mitterrand of France, [Rwanda's self-proclaimed President Major General] Habyarimana suddenly announced, in June of 1990, that it was time to establish a multiparty political system in Rwanda.

Habyarimana's embrace of reform was conspicuously half-hearted, a capitulation to foreign coercion, and instead of simple relief and enthusiasm, the prospect of an open competition for power provoked widespread alarm in Rwanda.

p. 83

Habyarimana's crowd [...] welcomed nationwide turmoil as a pretext for rounding up "internal enemies." Lists had already been prepared: educated Tutsis, prosperous Tutsis, and Tutsis who traveled abroad were among the first to be arrested, and prominent Hutus who were, for one reason or another, considered to be out of step with the regime were picked up as well.
p. 187

Consider General Sherman's march through Georgia at the head of the Union Army near the end of the American Civil War, a scorched-earth campaign of murder, rape, arson, and pillage that stands as a textbook case of gross human rights abuses. Historians don't seem to believe that the atrocities of Sherman's march fulfilled any otherwise unfulfillable strategic imperative. Yet it's generally agreed that the preservation of the Union and the consequent abolition of slavery served the national good, so historians regard Sherman's march as an episode of criminal excess by agents of the state rather than as evidence of the fundamental criminality of the state.
p. 218

Military men regard the army [Kagame] forged from the ragtag remnants of Rwigyema's original band, and the campaign he ran in 1994, as a work of plain genius. That he had pulled it off with an arsenal composed merely of mortars, rocket-propelled grenades, and, primarily, what one American arms specialist described to me as "piece of shit" secondhand Kalashnikovs, has only added to the legend.

"The problem isn't the equipment," Kagame told me. "The problem is always the man behind it. Does he understand why he is fighting?" In his view, determined and well-disciplined fighters, motivated by coherent ideas of political improvement, can always best the soldiers of a corrupt regime that stands for nothing but its own power.
p. 350

In mid-December of 1997, Secretary of State Madeleine Albright delivered a speech to the Organization of African Unity in Addis Ababa in which she said, "We, the international community, should have been more active in the early stages of the atrocities in Rwanda in 1994, and called them what they were - genocide." [...]

Three months later, Presdient Clinton followed Albright to Africa, and on March 25, 1998, he bacame the first Western head of state to visit Rwanda since the genocide. [...] Clinton forcefully reiterated Albright's apologies for refusing to intervene during the slaughter, and for supporting the killers in the [refugee] camps. [...] "It is important that the world know that these killings were not spontaneous or accidental ... they were most certainly not the result of ancient tribal struggles ... These events grew from a policy aimed at the systematic destruction of a people." And this mattered not only to Rwanda but also to the world, he explained, because "each bloodletting hastens the next, and as the value of human life is degraded and violence becomes tolerated, the unimaginable becomes more conceivable. [...] Never again must we be shy in the face of the evidence" of genocide.

It's interesting to note that the way we managed to shunt off our responsibility (according to a pact signed after WWII) to the genocide victims in Rwanda, like the White House legal staff discussing just what constitutes torture, was by choosing to interpret the pact not to say that we are required to act to defend the victims of genocide, but that the act gives us permission to act on their behalf. And in the alternative, our official stand on Rwanda at the time was, it wasn't genocide, but merely that "acts of genocide" may have occurred. As a reporter tried to ask, "How many 'acts of genocide' does it take to make a genocide?"

But, regardless of Clinton's eventual fine words, are we repeating the outrage of interpretation and avoidance in Darfur?

KIGALI, Apr 22, 2005 (Xinhua via COMTEX) - A batch of 700 Congolese nationals has arrived in Rwanda citing rebel harassment and mounting war tension in the eastern region of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), an official said here Friday.

Straton Kamanzi, an official in the Rwandan Refugee Commission, said that the refugees are entering the country via Gisenyi province and are taken to Nkamira transit center where they are catered by local authorities in collaboration with the UN agency for refugees.

The refugees have been warned and given few hours to leave their country and had no option but seeking refuge in the neighboring state, he said.

"The Rwandan rebels, the Ex-Far and Interahamwe, vowed to kill us if we don't return to Rwanda and we had to run seeking refuge in fear of our lives," said a refugee Jean Kamaliza.

Kamanzi added that over 3,000 Congolese refugees had crossed into Rwanda since the beginning of April.

  Relief Web article

One man was tasked by the United Nations with ensuring that peace was maintained in Rwanda - Canadian Lieutenant General Roméo Dallaire. But unsupported by U.N. headquarters and its Security Council far away in New York, Dallaire and his handful of soldiers were incapable of stopping the genocide.

After ten years of mental torture, reliving the horrors daily and more than once attempting suicide, Roméo Dallaire has poured out his soul in an extraordinary book. Shake Hands With The Devil is a cri de coeur. The General pulls no punches in his condemnation of top UN officials, expedient Belgian policy makers and senior members of the Clinton administration who chose to do nothing as Dallaire pleaded for reinforcements and revised rules of engagement.

Dallaire is convinced that, with a few thousand more troops and a mandate to act pre-emptively, he could have stopped the killings. His impotence, at a time of extreme crisis, preys on his conscience still.

Shake Hands With the Devil: An Interview With Roméo Dallaire