Friday, September 30, 2011

Colin Powell's Big Mouth and the Israel-Palestine Situation

The speech lie at the UN about aluminum tubes that sealed Iraq's fate was not his only big blunder on the world stage that brought death and destruction to many innocents.

In his fiery speech before the United Nations General Assembly last week, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanhayu made the following ultimatum to the Palestinian leadership:
We ask the Palestinians to finally do what they have refused to do for 62 years: Say yes to a Jewish state. Just as we are asked to recognize a nation-state for the Palestinian people, the Palestinians must be asked to recognize the nation state of the Jewish people.


Where did the demand for recognition of a "Jewish state" originate?

Colin Powell, then-Secretary of State, made the first mention of it in 2001. In a speech, he briefly called on Palestinians to recognize Israel as a "Jewish state." When asked how this wording ended up in his talk, Powell claims he doesn't know, but David Ivry, then the Israeli ambassador to the United States, says he persuaded an aide to Powell to write it in.

From that point onward, Israel and the United States have insisted on the recognition of a Jewish state in Israel. However, the Palestinian resistance to this demand is not just a technical snafu, as Prime Minister Fayyad suggested. The resistance to this declaration is substantive and carries great political significance to Palestinians.


The crux of the Palestinian issue is the fate of the millions of refugees who were exiled from their homes during the creation of Israel. The right of return for these refugees is a major pillar of Palestinian aspirations for a just resolution to the conflict with Israel. Recognizing Israel as Jewish state would mean renouncing the internationally recognized right of Palestinian refugees to return.


The second source of contention for the Palestinians is the situation of Palestinian citizens of Israel who make up 20% of Israel's population.

Under the banner of protecting the Jewish nature of the state, Israel has enacted no fewer than 30 discriminatory laws that harm its Palestinian citizens.


Palestinians fear that recognizing the Jewish nature of Israel means endorsing and making permanent the state's discrimination against its Palestinian citizens.

  Daily Kos

[R]ecognition of Israel as a "Jewish state" implies that Israel is, or should be, either a theocracy (if we take the word "Jewish" to apply to the religion of Judaism) or an apartheid state (if we take the word "Jewish" to apply to the ethnicity of Jews), or both, and in all of these cases, Israel is then no longer a democracy - something which has rightly been the pride of most Israelis since the country's founding in 1948.


[R]ather than demand that Palestinians recognise Israel as a "Jewish State" as such - adding "beyond chutzpah" to insult and injury - we offer the suggestion that Israeli leaders ask instead that Palestinians recognise Israel (proper) as a civil, democratic, and pluralistic state whose official religion is Judaism, and whose majority is Jewish.


[Seven] million Palestinians descended from the Palestinians who in 1900 lived in historical Palestine (ie what is now Israel, the West Bank including Jerusalem, and Gaza) and at that time made up 800,000 of its 840,000 inhabitants; and who were driven off their land through war, violent eviction or fear.

  Sari Nusseibeh - alJazeera

Palestinian citizens of Israel are those Palestinians who remained behind in what became the state of Israel following the Nakba (1947-9), or "catastrophe," when approximately 725,000 Palestinians were expelled from their homes and land by Zionist forces in order to make way for a Jewish-majority state.

Between 1948 (when Israel declared independence) and 1966, Palestinians living in Israel were granted no political rights and were subject to Israeli military rule. After 1966, they were granted the right to vote and other civil rights, but to this day they continue to suffer from widespread, systematic and institutionalized discrimination affecting everything from land ownership and employment opportunities to family reunification rights. Today, there are approximately 1.2 million Palestinian citizens of Israel, about 20% of the population.


Since Israel's founding in 1948, more than 600 Jewish municipalities have been established, while not a single new Arab town or community has been recognized by the state.

More than seventy Palestinian villages and communities in Israel, some of which pre-date the establishment of the state, are unrecognized by the government, receive no services, and are not even listed on official maps. Many other towns with a majority Palestinian population lack basic services and receive significantly less government funding than do majority-Jewish towns.


The Nationality and Entry into Israel Law prevents Palestinians from the occupied territories who are married to Palestinian citizens of Israel from gaining residency or citizenship status. The law forces thousands of Palestinian citizens of Israel to either leave Israel or live apart from their families.


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

They're Just Like Us

Hardworking stiffs who shop at discount stores.

First lady Michelle Obama slipped out and took a half-hour incognito shopping trip at Target in Alexandria, Virginia Thursday evening.


AP photographer Charles Dharapak captured an image of Obama in the store, pushing her cart and wearing sunglasses and a baseball cap pulled low. He declined to say whether he had been tipped off about the shopping trip by the White House, or if he had found Obama on his own.

  Raw Story

Oh, come on. I think we all know the answer to that. AP photographer Charles Dharapak didn’t just happen to be in the Target in Alexandria, Virginia, doing a little shopping himself. With his camera.

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

Occupy - the Globe

On Friday, a Twitter account for Anonymous South Africa posted a call to Occupy the Johannesburg Stock Exchange. Another website has been set up for an Occupy Manchester, UK event on October 2. It already boasts the support of the Manchester University Students Union, Manchester Metropolitan University, Education Activists Network, Manchester University Staff Against Cuts and other local labor organizations.

The Occupy Wall Street Facebook page lists planned protests in another 10 cities around the globe, including in Madrid, London and Amsterdam.


Glenn Greenwald on Anwar alAwlaki Assassination

Mission Accomplished

Awlaki has been assassinated.

Or at least until we get a report that, no, after all, he wasn't, and the evil devil is still out there. (Or maybe has actually been dead for quite some time.)

An al-Qaida leader regarded as the terror group's most potent threat to western interests has been killed in Yemen, defence officials in the capital, Sana'a, say.

Anwar al-Awlaki, a dual US-Yemeni citizen, is believed to have been killed at 9.55am on Friday morning at a site 90 miles (140 kilometres) east of Sana'a between the provinces of Marib and al-Jawf in what is believed to have been an air strike.


The CIA and the US military have used drones to target al-Qaida officials in Yemen and had placed Awlaki near the top of a hit list. The US president, Barack Obama, authorised a request to target Awlaki in April last year, making him the first US citizen to be a legal target for assassination in the post-9/11 years.

UK Guardian

You remember him. He’s the cleric that the Fort Hood killer claimed to have been inspired by. That’s not all they’re blaming him for.


Awlaki is credited with inspiring or directing at least four plots on US soil in recent years – a shooting inside the Fort Hood military base, the failed Times Square bombing, the failed underwear bomber and a parcel bomb hidden inside a printer that also failed to explode while inside a passenger jet.

Yemeni authorities previously and erroneously reported that Awlaki had been killed in 2009.


His death could be a boon for Yemen's embattled President Ali Abdullah Saleh, clinging to power despite months of popular protests, factional violence and international pressure.

It was not immediately clear if Yemen had carried out the raid or if Awlaki had been killed by a U.S. drone strike. A U.S. drone aircraft targeted but missed Awlaki in May.


A senior U.S. official confirmed Awlaki's death, but gave no details. "I can confirm he's dead," the official said.


"The terrorist Anwar al-Awlaki has been killed along with some of his companions," the Yemeni Defense Ministry said in a statement texted to journalists, but gave no details.


Well, I’m glad that not just one, but two, presidents will get a boost in their ratings for this man’s death. Score two points.


"If he is dead, Awlaki will be difficult to replace," said Jeremy Binnie, a terrorism and insurgency analyst at IHS Jane's in London. "It's a blow for AQAP's international operations. Awlaki has helped the group build its international profile.”

Complete and utter bullshit.

It was first reported in January of last year that the Obama administration had compiled a hit list of American citizens whom the President had ordered assassinated without any due process, and one of those Americans was Anwar al-Awlaki. No effort was made to indict him for any crimes (despite a report last October that the Obama administration was "considering" indicting him). Despite substantial doubt among Yemen experts about whether he even has any operational role in Al Qaeda, no evidence (as opposed to unverified government accusations) was presented of his guilt. When Awlaki's father sought a court order barring Obama from killing his son, the DOJ argued, among other things, that such decisions were "state secrets" and thus beyond the scrutiny of the courts. He was simply ordered killed by the President: his judge, jury and executioner.


After several unsuccessful efforts to assassinate its own citizen, the U.S. succeeded today (and it was the U.S.). [...] The U.S. thus transformed someone who was, at best, a marginal figure into a martyr, and again showed its true face to the world.


What's most amazing is that [US] citizens will not merely refrain from objecting, but will stand and cheer the U.S. Government's new power to assassinate their fellow citizens, far from any battlefield, literally without a shred of due process from the U.S. Government.


From an authoritarian perspective, [...] the genius of America's political culture [is that it] not only finds way to obliterate the most basic individual liberties designed to safeguard citizens from consummate abuses of power (such as extinguishing the lives of citizens without due process). It actually gets its citizens to [...] celebrate the destruction of those safeguards.

Glenn Greenwald


Hillary Clinton, the US secretary of state, has condemned an attack on US ambassador Robert Ford, after his convoy was pelted with eggs and tomatoes by supporters of the Syrian president when the envoy and his colleagues met an opposition figure in Damascus.

"We condemn this unwarranted attack in the strongest possible terms," Clinton said on Thursday. "Ambassador Ford and his aides were conducting normal embassy business and this attempt to intimidate our diplomats through violence is wholly unjustified."


In Washington, Clinton said the United States has raised the attempted attack on Ford at "the highest levels" in Damascus and demanded that Syria "take every possible step to protect" US diplomats.

Clinton also spoke of an "ongoing campaign of intimidation" against not only US diplomats but those from other countries.

Clinton's deputy spokesman Mark Toner said the mob tried to attack Ford and other embassy staff while they visited the opposition leader, seriously damaging US vehicles and "pelting" the visitors with tomatoes.

  Raw Story

Feel free to compare and contrast.

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

Okay, That's Funny

Thursday, September 29, 2011

The Growing Occupation

Labor unions and liberal activist groups plan to throw their weight behind the "Occupy Wall Street" protest in New York City that has now lasted 13 straight days, according to Crain's New York.


A diverse coalition of people have pledged to occupy Wall Street until something is done about corporate greed and the financial system's undemocratic influence on the U.S. government.


The protesters have been camped out in New York’s old Liberty Plaza, now called Zuccotti Park, since September 17.

Among unions, the United Federation of Teachers, 32BJ SEIU, 1199 SEIU, Workers United and Transport Workers Union (TWU) Local 100 have said they will participate in the protest next Wednesday.

The Working Families Party,, Make the Road New York, the Coalition for the Homeless, the Alliance for Quality Education, Community Voices Heard, United New York and Strong Economy For All also plan to support the demonstration.


"We plan to be down there from now on. Previously there were individual rank and filers, but now there will be a coordinated presence from the Transport Union; we'll be joining the protest, standing in agreement and solidarity," TWU Local 100 President John Samuelsen told the Village Voice.

Raw Story

Job Security

The FBI has received substantial criticism over the past decade -- much of it valid -- but nobody can deny its record of excellence in thwarting its own Terrorist plots. Time and again, the FBI concocts a Terrorist attack, infiltrates Muslim communities in order to find recruits, persuades them to perpetrate the attack, supplies them with the money, weapons and know-how they need to carry it out -- only to heroically jump in at the last moment, arrest the would-be perpetrators whom the FBI converted, and save a grateful nation from the plot manufactured by the FBI.


None of these cases entail the FBI's learning of an actual plot and then infiltrating it to stop it. They all involve the FBI's purposely seeking out Muslims (typically young and impressionable ones) whom they think harbor animosity toward the U.S. and who therefore can be induced to launch an attack despite having never taken even a single step toward doing so before the FBI targeted them. [...] and new security measures are often implemented in response (the FBI's Terror plot aimed at the D.C. Metro, for instance, led to the Metro Police announcing a new policy of random searches of passengers' bags).


The U.S. is -- as it has continuously announced to the world -- a Nation at War. The Pentagon is the military headquarters for this war, and its troops abroad are the soldiers fighting it. In what conceivable sense can attacks on those purely military and war targets be labeled "Terrorism" or even illegitimate? The U.S. has continuously attacked exactly those kinds of targets in multiple nations around the world; it expressly tried to kill Saddam and Gadaffi in the wars against their countries (it even knowingly blew up an entire suburban apartment building to get Saddam, who wasn't actually there). What possible definition of "Terrorism" excludes those attacks by the U.S. while including this proposed one on the Pentagon and other military targets (or, for that matter, Nidal Hasan's attack on Fort Hood where soldiers deploy to war zones)?

  Glenn Greenwald

I know the answer to that: the American definition.

With regard to the targeted building that is not purely a military target -- the Capitol Building -- is that a legitimate war target under the radically broad standards the U.S. and its allies have promulgated for themselves? The American "shock and awe" assault on Baghdad destroyed "several government buildings and palaces built by Saddam Hussein"; on just the third day of that war, "U.S. bombs turn[ed] key government buildings in Baghdad into rubble." In Libya, NATO repeatedly bombed non-military government buildings. In Gaza, Israeli war planes targeted a police station filled with police recruits on the stated theory that a valid target "ranges from the strictly military institutions and includes the political institutions that provide the logistical funding and human resources" to Hamas.

He’s just trying to confuse us now, isn’t he?

With regard to the targeted building that is not purely a military target -- the Capitol Building -- is that a legitimate war target under the radically broad standards the U.S. and its allies have promulgated for themselves? The American "shock and awe" assault on Baghdad destroyed "several government buildings and palaces built by Saddam Hussein"; on just the third day of that war, "U.S. bombs turn[ed] key government buildings in Baghdad into rubble." In Libya, NATO repeatedly bombed non-military government buildings. In Gaza, Israeli war planes targeted a police station filled with police recruits on the stated theory that a valid target "ranges from the strictly military institutions and includes the political institutions that provide the logistical funding and human resources" to Hamas.

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

The Long Hot Summer

I would have never imagined myself looking forward to winter.

But the bougs don't seem to be suffering...


Just as we thought.

A Saudi woman sentenced to be lashed 10 times for defying the country's ban on female drivers has had her punishment overturned by the king.


Although there has been no official confirmation of the ruling, Princess Amira al-Taweel, wife of the Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, tweeted: "Thank God, the lashing of [Shaima] is cancelled. Thanks to our beloved king. I am sure all Saudi women will be so happy, I know I am."

  UK Guardian

And since, as we previously learned, this was the first time any woman had been so sentenced, and the sentence came the day after King Abdullah announced he would appoint women (woman, more likely) to the Shura council, it looks a little more than suspicious that the whole thing was a set up to help bolster the King's attempts to look good.

The moves underline the challenge facing Abdullah, known as a reformer, as he pushes gently for change while trying not to antagonise the powerful clergy and a conservative segment of the population.

Although there are no written laws that restrict women from driving, the prohibition is rooted in conservative traditions and religious views that hold that giving freedom of movement to women would make them vulnerable to sins.

Wouldn’t want that. I’ve been told by a Saudi man that they make women wear all that covering garb out of great respect for them, so that they cannot be defiled by any man’s vulgar stares. Right. Anyway, since there is no law against women driving, how did she get sentenced for it?

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

Meanwhile in Bahrain

Thirteen doctors and nurses who treated anti-government protesters during demonstrations in Bahrain earlier this year have been jailed for 15 years for crimes against the state.

Seven other medical professionals were given sentences of between five and 10 years by a special tribunal that was set up during the emergency rule that followed the demonstrations.


I don't suppose we'll be sending in troops to bring freedom to any medics in Bahrain.

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

What Are These People Doing?

It's not Wall Street occupiers. In fact, it's not even Americans. But what they are doing is trying to get to Dick Cheney, and by the looks on their faces and the force necessary to hold them back, it appears they'd like to rip out his artificial heart.

I'm wondering if the police would like to let them.

Protesters clashed with police Monday night outside a private club in downtown Vancouver where former U.S. vice-president Dick Cheney was promoting his new book.

As a crowd of about 200 chanted, "Shame. Shame on you" at guests entering the Vancouver Club, a line of police pushed back protesters who tried to surge against the club's front door.


Cheney was speaking at the sold-out $500 per seat event as part of a promotion of his book In My Time: A Personal and Political Memoir.


Some of the protesters held placards that read, "Cheney War Criminal," and "Torturer."


Cheney's new memoir details his continued support of the interrogation techniques, which he called “critically important” to national security.

"Should the president reinstate enhanced interrogation, including waterboarding? Well I certainly would advocate it," Cheney recently told Fox News.

But Vancouver-Kingsway New Democrat MP Don Davies said Cheney should not even be allowed into Canada because those methods are considered torture.


New York-based Human Rights Watch said Saturday that Canadian law provides for prosecution of an individual for torture and other crimes, even for offences committed outside of Canada.


Davies said Cheney should be barred from Canada for authorizing actions banned under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act.


It seems to me he should be charged and arrested.

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

Greenwald on the Occupation of Wall Street

Financial elites and their political servants are well aware that exploding wealth inequality, pervasive economic anxiety, and increasing hostility toward institutions of authority (and corresponding realization that voting fixes very little of this) are likely to bring London-style unrest -- and worse -- to American soil; it was just two weeks ago that New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg warned that the unemployment crisis could trigger "riots." Even the complacent American citizenry -- well-trained in learned impotence and acquiescence to (even reverence for) those most responsible for their plight -- is going to reach a tipping point of unrest. There are numerous weapons of surveillance and coercion that have been developed over the last decade in anticipation of that unrest: most of it justified in the name of Terrorism, but all of it featuring decidedly dual-use domestic capability (illustrating what I mean is this chart [below] showing how extensively the Patriot Act has been used in non-Terrorist cases, and how rarely it has been used for Terrorism).


There's a vast and growing apparatus of intimidation designed to deter and control citizen protests. The most that's allowed is to assemble with the permission of state authorities and remain roped off in sequestered, out-of-the-way areas: the Orwellian-named free speech zones. Anything that is even remotely disruptive or threatening is going to be met with aggressive force: pepper spray, mass arrests by highly militarized urban police forces, and aggressive prosecutions.


In sum, there is a sprawling apparatus of federal and local militarized police forces and private corporate security designed to send this message: if you participate in protests or other forms of dissent outside of harmless approved channels, you're going to be harmed in numerous ways.

Glenn Greenwald

Click the chart to go to the website showing an enlarged version. It's a chart of the relative use of the PATRIOT Act - the red line is for drug related cases, orange is for fraud, and the tiny green blip is for terrorism.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

And After All He's Done for Them

Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney has raised more than twice as much money from Wall Street as Barack Obama -- an edge gained in part by luring away at least 100 donors, mostly investors, who backed the president in 2008, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.


“It’s going to be very hard for the president to bash the rich and create jobs at the same time,” said Anthony Scaramucci, 47, founder and managing partner of New York-based SkyBridge Capital LLC that manages $8 billion, who has switched support from Obama in 2008 to Romney. “I don’t think the country is about class warfare.”


Think again.

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

Libya - SNAFU

U.S. intelligence operatives were on the ground in Libya before President Barack Obama signed a secret order authorizing covert support for anti-Gaddafi rebels, U.S. government sources told Reuters.

The CIA personnel were sent in to contact opponents of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi and assess their capabilities, two U.S. officials said.

"They're trying to sort out who could be turned into a military unit and who couldn't," said Bob Baer, a former CIA case officer whose memoirs were turned into the Hollywood thriller "Syriana."


And they are not having a simple time of the sorting. I wonder if President #Compromise has a complete understanding of where he is in the chain of command. It’s behind the CIA, should anyone want to break it to him, which is why he signed an order after the fact.

Neither the CIA nor the White House have commented directly on U.S. undercover operations and plans in Libya.

"I will not and cannot discuss intelligence matters," White House spokesman Jay Carney said on Thursday. "What the president has made clear is that he will not send, has not sent and will not send American troops on the ground into Libya."


Other U.S. officials familiar with Obama's covert action order said while it authorizes a potentially sweeping range of measures to support Libyan rebels, each specific operation -- for example, sending in U.S. trainers, money or weapons -- would require further "permissions" from the White House.


And how are those rebels we’re supporting doing, by the way?

After the predominantly black city [of Tawarga ] was attacked by Misrata rebels, the residents were herded into refugee camps in Tripoli. When those camps were attacked by the same rebels days later, they scattered. Some ended up in Sirte, one of the few places inside Libya where having black skin isn’t a one way ticket to a prison cell. Presumably these Tawargans will find themselves under even deeper scrutiny if indeed the rebel forces capture them again, though prison space seems to be running low across a nation where open-ended detention is becoming the new normal.


For months, Libyan rebels and their international supporters insisted that Libya was not going to become another endless conflict in the model of Iraq or Afghanistan. And when Tripoli was taken by rebels a month ago, it seemed to many that the war was over.

But as Moammar Gaddafi’s loyalists put up a fierce resistance in the besieged towns of Sirte and Bani Walid, and bickering erupts among the revolutionaries, there are growing fears that the ousting of Gaddafi will not mean an end to fighting in the new Libya.


What? Ousting Saddam pacified Iraq. Why would you think Libya would be any different? (Please insert sarcasm font.)

Without a real government to deal with, the West will be forced to negotiate with the many tribal entities and independent actors who are splintering the former Libyan state into ever-smaller pieces. With the Western region demanding more representation in the NTC, the Gadhafi loyalists still on the loose, and thousands of weapons – some of them quite sophisticated – disappearing into the Libyan night, it’s quite a muddle – which just about describes the state of our Middle East policy at this juncture.

  Justin Raimondo

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


Several members of the group Veterans for Peace were escorted out of the Old South Meeting House in Boston Monday night after they attempted a citizen’s arrest of former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld.

“I went down in front and looked Donald Rumsfeld in the eye and said, ‘I’m making a citizen’s arrest,’” protester Nate Goldschlag told WCVB-TV.

  Raw Story

That must have felt good. They're going to follow him to every book promo spot, I imagine.


An estimated 20,000 portable surface-to-air missiles have gone missing in Libya. The heat-seeking missiles were smuggled out of unguarded Army weapons warehouses.

  Raw Story


This will play well in al Qaeda training camps.

Our Friends, the Saudis

I don't suppose we're interested in charging in to bring freedom to Saudi women.

A Saudi woman has been sentenced to be lashed 10 times with a whip for defying the kingdom's prohibition on female drivers.


Police usually stop female drivers, question them and let them go after they sign a pledge not to drive again. But dozens of women have continued to take to the roads since June in a campaign to break the taboo.

The sentence comes two days after King Abdullah promised to protect women's rights and decreed women would be allowed to participate in municipal elections in 2015. Abdullah also promised to appoint women to the all-male shura council advisory body.

  UK Guardian

One might imagine the sentenced woman will get a reprieve. If not, she will be the martyr for the cause, which can’t look good for Abdullah. One might also imagine that the women - or woman, more likely - he appoints to the council will recommend a change in the laws.

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

Monday, September 26, 2011


Small groups of demonstrators in major American cities have started their own "Occupy Wall Street" demonstrations and organizers are planning further actions in more cities across the United States.


"Occupy Los Angeles" protesters plan to begin a demonstration at City Hall on October 1. The "Occupy Los Angeles" Facebook page had nearly 2,000 likes as of Tuesday afternoon.

Another demonstration popped up in Chicago over the weekend. Around 20 "Occupy Chicago" protesters gathered at Willis Tower, formerly known as the Sears Tower, on Friday and then marched to the Federal Reserve Bank.


Other "occupation" protests are being planned for Detroit, Denver, Cleveland, Boston, Phoenix, Seattle, Kansas City, Philadelphia, and Washington D.C. The site has been set up in hopes of coordinating the protests.

Raw Story

And wear protective goggles - the chemical protection kind.

In our area (click to event site):

UPDATE: Houston rally and march: JP Morgan Chase Tower
7:30 am Market Square
8:30 am Houston Chronicle headquarters

More Promising Medical News

Research results published last week in the medical journal Blood indicated [a discovery by Johns Hopkins scientists] could lead to a vaccine against the [AIDS] virus, which affected about 33.3 million people worldwide at the end of 2009.

Scientists said their new method works by eliminating a membrane of cholesterol used by HIV to disguise itself and disarm the immune system. It steals the cholesterol from the first immune response to its intrusion, then uses it to communicate with the rest of the immune system.

By stripping it of that essential cholesterol membrane, the AIDS virus is attacked by the immune system and shut down.

Raw Story

Aside from being good news, I find pathogen and gene behavior incredibly fascinating. The mechanisms by which viruses function and all manner of pathogens reproduce are truly amazing.

And that leads me to my prime theory: humankind is either a pathogenic or decay organism on the planet. I’m leaning toward pathogenic, but either way, our presence is evidence that the planet, like all living organisms in this universe, is dying - unless it can shake off the infection or sever or compartmentalize the rotting organ/s. I doubt that it can do the latter since we are so widespread, but if the earth’s immune system is strong enough, it could still stage a counter-attack.

Then again, there’s a good possibility that we’re simply decay organisms, and there was an injury in the earth’s past onto which we attached ourselves and proceeded to spread rot. Man’s origins have been traced to Africa. Where was that speculated asteroid strike that may have wiped out the dinosaurs? Just Googled: Chicxulub, Mexico – so unless they revise the origins of man location, or discover that another great injury befell the earth in East Africa, the decay organism theory still looks less likely than the pathogen one.

I wonder if the earth produced offspring in its prime.

If someone would just pay me enough to speculate about large mysteries, I would quit my day job in a heartbeat.

Here We Go Again

A US government shutdown remains a possibility after the US Senate [on Friday] rejected a stop-gap spending bill that had passed the Republican-controlled House of Representatives hours earlier.

As voting continued on the measure, Democrats had rounded up enough votes to defeat the bill, which they said did not contain sufficient aid for victims of natural disasters.


Congress is up against a 30 September deadline, when the fiscal year ends and government money runs out.

UK Guardian

So who’s the party that wants to destroy the world now? The Democrats must think this will make them look tough. But don’t worry, there will be no government shutdown. Unless enough Americans get fed up and march on Washington. Yeah, don’t worry. There will be no government shutdown. If anything, those pathetic Democrats will, in their now traditional fashion, cave and end up voting for something that has NO aid for victims of natural disasters.

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


The Senate reached a tentative spending deal Monday night.


The apparent breakthrough came after the Federal Emergency Management Agency indicated it had enough money to squeak through the end of the fiscal year Friday night, eliminating one of the main points of partisan contention


Never mind. We have enough money.


Move Over Flat Branch

The Flat Branch micro brewery in Columbia, Missouri, has been brewing a chili beer for a long time, one of their many fine beers, and I used to turn out a pretty fair chili beer in my kitchen, but I don't recall either of them being quite as hot as Cave Creek chili beer. Perhaps because Cave Creek leaves a pepper in every bottle. I just came across this beer at Specs Liquors and thought I'd give it a try. One thing it isn't is subtle.

This video is old, and Cave Creek Chili Beer is now made in Tecate, Mexico, instead of Cave Creek, Arizona, but it's still interesting to watch.

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

Putin and Medvedev: the Rest of the Story

Apparently, Putin returning to the presidential office in Russia is only half the deal. Medvedev will take Putin’s current job of Prime Minister. And anybody who doesn’t like it can feel free to flee.

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


The British oil company BP has asked the US government for permission to begin drilling for new oil wells in the Gulf of Mexico.


BP said in the application that it wants to sink four wells in nearly 6,000 feet of water about 300km off the Louisiana coast.


Sure! Why not? They’ve already killed the Gulf. Might as well get any oil left.

On the other hand, maybe they could recover the flow that’s still leaking from their last disaster.

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

Occupy Wall Street

This is day nine. They're still at it. Police are still arresting. If you want the official website, here it is:

Hikers' Statements

Josh Fattal and Shane Bauer, who had a good excuse to focus exclusively on Iran's sins but -- a mere few days after being released from a horrible, unjust ordeal -- chose instead to present the full picture.


Fattal began by recounting the horrible conditions of the prison in which they were held, including being kept virtually all day in a tiny cell alone and hearing other prisoners being beaten; he explained that, of everything that was done to them, "solitary confinement was the worst experience of all of our lives."



In prison, every time we complained about our conditions, the guards would remind us of comparable conditions at Guantanamo Bay; they'd remind us of CIA prisons in other parts of the world; and conditions that Iranians and others experience in prisons in the U.S.

We do not believe that such human rights violation on the part of our government justify what has been done to us: not for a moment. However, we do believe that these actions on the part of the U.S. provide an excuse for other governments - including the government of Iran - to act in kind.


Fattal then expressed "great thanks to world leaders and individuals" who worked for their release, including Hugo Chavez, the governments of Turkey and Brazil, Sean Penn, Noam Chomsky, Mohammad Ali, Cindy Sheehan, Desmond Tutu, as well as Muslims from around the world and "elements within the Iranian government," as well as U.S. officials.

Unsurprisingly, one searches in vain for the inclusion of these facts and remarks in American media accounts of their release and subsequent press conference.


There have been thousands of people released after being held for years and years in U.S. detention despite having done nothing wrong. Many were tortured, and many were kept imprisoned despite U.S. government knowledge of their innocence. Have you ever seen anything close to this level of media attention being devoted to their plight, to hearing how America's lawless detention of them for years -- often on a strange island, thousands of miles away from everything they know -- and its systematic denial of any legal redress, devastated their families and destroyed their lives?


No, and we never will. It is the nature of the beast.

I still can’t understand why three young Americans would go hiking on the Iranian border.

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

Further Pakistan

We are fighting an unwinnable war in the region, one that doesn’t serve our interests, either geopolitical or economic, and we’ve tasked our military with solving an insoluble problem: how to win over a people whose land we’ve occupied. Our military leaders, in response, are forced to invent plausible reasons explaining why they’ve been unable to accomplish the impossible. The blame Pakistan narrative serves that purpose admirably.


[ Admiral Mullen’s testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee] was a paean to the “success” of US/NATO efforts in Afghanistan: except for a few minor glitches, he strongly implied, everything’s coming up roses. How, then, to explain the brazen attacks on the Inter-Continental Hotel in Kabul, and the Taliban strike at the US embassy, which penetrated to the very core of the American presence in the country – the Afghan equivalent of Iraq’s “Green Zone”?

“Extremist organizations serving as proxies of the government of Pakistan are attacking Afghan troops and civilians as well as U.S. soldiers. For example, we believe the Haqqani Network – which has long enjoyed the support and protection of the Pakistani government and is, in many ways, a strategic arm of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence Agency – is responsible for the September 13th attacks against the U.S. Embassy in Kabul.


In supporting these groups, the government of Pakistan, particularly the Pakistani Army, continues to jeopardize Pakistan’s opportunity to be a respected and prosperous nation with genuine regional and international influence.”


The Justice Department is playing a key role in the anti-Pakistan offensive, utilizing the infamous David Headley – a DEA snitch and “former” terrorist operative – to fill in the details of Pakistan’s alleged perfidy. [...] While in the pay of the DEA, Headley traveled around the world committing and planning terrorist acts – but you’re a “conspiracy theorist” if you think this throws a shadow of suspicion on his character, his motives, or his “testimony.”


The Obama administration has been laying the groundwork for this particular conspiracy theory for quite some time, peppering the Pakistanis with accusations of complicity in Taliban attacks on US forces – albeit without producing any public evidence.


What the anti-Pakistan campaign we’ve been subjected to in recent months amounts to is that the Obama administration is angling for the equivalent of Richard Nixon’s invasion of Cambodia.


The Americans are playing a very dangerous game with Pakistan, doing everything in their power to undermine the elected government, while at the same time decrying the threat of “extremism” in that nation. But they can’t have it both ways: if they fear destabilization, then why are they doing their utmost to provoke it? You’d almost have to be a “conspiracy theorist” to make sense out of it.

Justin Raimondo

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

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Pakistan in the Cross Hairs

The Featured American Enemy of the Week is the Haqqani network in the Pakistan/Afghanistan border region. The New York Times warns in a headline today: "Brutal Haqqani Crime Clan Bedevils U.S. in Afghanistan," and reports that military officials want "the group [put] on the State Department’s list of terrorist organizations." Adm. Michael Mullen this week accused Pakistan's intelligence service (ISI) of aiding the Haqqani clan in carrying out Terrorist attacks on U.S. troops and a U.S. embassy in Afghanistan.

  Glenn Greenwald

Closer and closer, bit by bit, to formally declaring on Pakistan.

Needless to say, the villain mastermind who heads this network, Jalaluddin Haqqani, has, as the NYT put it, "allied himself over the years with the C.I.A."


One reason Endless War is endless is because the U.S. is so adept at creating and strengthening the Enemies who then need to be dispatched.

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

Damn Those Last Throes, Eh?

Libya's interim government forces have retreated from Muammar Gaddafi's hometown of Sirte, after fighters loyal to the former leader mounted stiff resistance to an attempt to seize the city.

National Transitional Council (NTC) fighters said on Sunday that they were making a "tactical retreat" from the coastal city, a day after entering the centre of Sirte in a major push to take the area.


Real Change

Saudi King Abdullah announced on Sunday he was giving women the right to vote and run in municipal elections, the only public polls in the ultra-conservative Gulf kingdom.

He also announced that women would have the right to join the all-appointed Shura (consultative) Council, in an address opening a new term of the council.

  Raw Story

Saturday, September 24, 2011

More Change You Can Believe In

You would think after six decades of dispossession, four decades of occupation and two decades of peace processes that President Obama would recognize a political and moral discrepancy that needs fixing.


That he would underline, not undermine, his own rhetoric about freedom in the Arab region.

Or that he would underline, not undermine, his own opening emphasis about a peace based on withdrawal, not more of the same logic of war.


That he would underline, not undermine, his own words uttered in Cairo a year and a half ago about the need for Israel to stop its illegal settlements in Palestine.

That he would underline, not undermine his own projection - read promise - from the same podium last September of a Palestinian state within a year, meaning this week.


You wouldn’t think any of those things if you have been paying close attention.

President #Compromise isn’t the sturdy oak, but the lithe willow that bends with the wind. And the winds in the White House always blow toward Israel.

Every other commentator in town would like to remind you not to expect much action from a US president on Israel during an election year.

As Heilemann illustrates in his article, Obama's career was built on his relationships with generous Jewish contributors in Chicago.

That, too.

Obama is the "the first Jewish President". That's the title of New York magazine's lead article, written by John Heilemann and quoting a major Obama fundraiser.

Listening to Obama speak at the United Nations on Wednesday many would nod in agreement, not less in Palestine and the Arab world.


[T]he fact that Obama surpassed his predecessor George W Bush, the most radical supporter of Israel among all US Presidents, has left everyone in Israel dumbstruck. The latest Zionist US president sounded like Israel's own founding fathers.

Never have they heard a US president read straight from the papers of the Israeli government.

Yeah, well I guess his handlers have realized that all that previous rhetoric seeming to support Palestine’s position has to be very strongly countered.

Returning the Favor

Dmitry Medvedev, the Russian president, has proposed Vladimir Putin, the current prime minister, as presidential candidate for 2012, almost certainly guaranteeing Putin's return to office.


Do you get the feeling that when Putin left, endorsing Medvedev, there was a deal made between the two of them to just alternate stints in office and that in a few years, Medvedev will be back?

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

On a Rare Good Note...'s some promising news in the field of breast cancer treatment:

Scientists at the Penn State College of Medicine said this week they have discovered a virus that is capable of killing all types of breast cancer "within seven days" of first introduction in a laboratory setting.


When combined in a lab recently, AAV2 eradicated all the breast cancer cells "within seven days," according to researchers. Better still, it proved capable of wiping out cancer cells at multiple stages, negating the need for differing treatments used today.

"If we can determine which viral genes are being used, we may be able to introduce those genes into a [therapy]," explained Penn State research associate Samina Alam. "If we can determine which pathways the virus is triggering, we can then screen new drugs that target those pathways. Or we may simply be able to use the virus itself."

Raw Story

Scary Perry's Shooting Star Is Coming Down

It was inevitable for two reasons: the man is a horse's ass (which alone would not diminish his chances), and 2) today's GOP media talking heads are also horse's asses, and they eat their own kind. Apparently, they don't want Rick Perry for President.

It was only six weeks ago that Perry declared his candidacy, and quickly shot to the top of the polls as the conservative, populist alternative to Mitt Romney. But since then he’s been knocked around for his statements against Social Security, and for his heresies from social-conservative orthodoxy on such issues as the HPV vaccine and in-state tuition for the children of illegal immigrants. And it has been the debates where he has been the main target of attacks from other candidates.


He’s also being criticized for his incoherency when asked about Pakistan and nukes. If he’s having trouble with foreign policy, perhaps it’s because he’s using Douglas Feith – the man General Tommy Franks called the stupidest guy on the face of the earth – to school him in that field.

And if the pundits need more ammo, they can always revisit the secession moment, or work this angle:

While Governor Perry’s camp hoped it would not happen, questions and rumors that Texas Governor and GOP Presidential Nomination Candidate Rick Perry is either Gay and, or, slept with strippers and escorts, have resurfaced [...] And the Gay rumor was first mentioned last year by blogger Mike Stark, of The Stark Report, but for some weird and unknown reason, Stark stopped blogging about it.


That gay stripper thing will be sure to end his dreams of presidency.

I still say they ended when he went after Bernanke.

Looks like Mike Huckabee will be spared the quarter for a return call to Good Ol' Rick to ask him to drop out.

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

Friday, September 23, 2011

Why the Secret?

It's not as if everyone doesn't already know we're Israel's de facto army.

President Barack Obama secretly authorized the sale of 55 powerful bunker-busting bombs to Israel, Newsweek magazine reported Friday.

Israel first asked to buy deep-penetrating GBU-28 bombs in 2005, but were rebuffed by then-president George W. Bush. At the time the Pentagon had frozen joint US-Israeli defense projects, fearful that Israel was transferring advanced military technology to China, Newsweek said.

However in 2007 Bush informed then-Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert that the bombs would be ready for delivery in 2009 or 2010, even though the Israelis wanted them immediately.

Obama released the bombs in 2009, the magazine reports, citing unnamed officials familiar with the still-secret decision.

Raw Story

Did we not have enough to spare when George was in office, or was this his way of sticking the naïf with the blame when the shit hits the fan?

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

Veeeeerrry Interesting

The Justice Department said late Friday that based on their preliminary investigation, a congressional redistricting map signed into law by Republican presidential candidate Rick Perry appears to have been "adopted, at least in part, for the purpose of diminishing the ability of citizens of the United States, on account of race, color, or membership in a language minority group, to elect their preferred candidates of choice to Congress."

DOJ's Civil Rights Division is specifically contesting the changes made to Texas Districts 23 and 27, which they say would not provide Hispanic citizens with the ability to elect candidates of their choice.


Abbas Did Not Buckle

It was the United Nations that determined the fate of the Palestinian people more than six decades ago – and on Friday it was the UN that heard an impassioned plea to change the destiny of Palestine once more [... The] Palestinian president [...]Mahmoud Abbas, who was 12 years old when the UN general assembly of November 1947 voted to partition Palestine into two states, one Jewish and one Arab [...] came back to the same body on Friday, asking the UN to bless a Palestinian state.


He did it with a flourish, holding up the formal letter of application he had submitted that hour to the UN secretary general, asking for full membership of the United Nations – a gesture that brought sustained applause from some delegates, impassive silence from others, including the United States and, inevitably, Israel.

"It is a moment of truth and my people are waiting to hear the answer of the world," Abbas said. "After 63 years of suffering: enough, enough, enough."


His language was uncompromising, condemning "colonial military occupation", "ethnic cleansing" and "the brutality of repression and racial discrimination."


[But] Abbas knew there was no chance of an immediate vote leading to recognition, not least because the US had promised its veto in advance and had leaned on several other allies to vote no.


Sure enough, the Quartet of Middle East peacemakers issued a timetable for yet another round of peace talks, starting within a month.


[And Israel’s Benjamin] Netanyahu drew on his familiar catalogue of talking points – denouncing the UN as the "theatre of the absurd"; warning of the global threat of "militant Islam" and of Iran; stressing how Israel's every effort for peace had only resulted in more war.

  UK Guardian

Their every effort for peace, like continuing to build “settlements” in Palestinian territory and blocking humanitarian aid ships from reaching the besieged Palestinians with needed food and building materials to sustain life.

Where Did We Go Wrong?

This must be the question the gods ask themselves on a daily basis.

The answer is probably: with the introduction of opposable thumbs.

NASA anticipates that 26 potentially hazardous parts [from the bus-sized upper atmosphere research satellite (UARS)], weighing a total of 532kg, could remain intact and hit the Earth. The debris will spread along an estimated 500-mile corridor of the Earth's surface. Among the parts expected to survive the fiery re-entry are four titanium fuel tanks, four steel flywheel rims and an aluminium structure that alone weighs 158kg. Depending on their size and shape, the components will strike at speeds of between 55mph (90km/h) and 240mph (385km/h).

UK householders will be encouraged to know that most household insurance policies are likely to protect against any damage caused by the flying debris.

  UK Guardian

They might, however, want to go on holiday so as not to be home when it hits.

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

America: A Force for Good

This is the US Navy's website logo. I like that the background on their header is a fence.

Taking "force" to mean "military might" and "for good" to mean "forever," then I will agree wholeheartedly that we are indeed "a global force for good." (Actually, if they'd just insert the word "brute" after the word "global," it would help clarify the meaning.)

The theater of [US war] operations is vast – potentially as vast as the world itself, given the rationale of pursing “terrorists” wherever they might be detected – and, so far, the range extends from the tribal regions of Pakistan to the African savannah, where pilotless “Reapers” take off from airfields in Ethiopia and Djibouti in search of prey. According to reports, US bases have also been established in Saudi Arabia and the Seychelles for this purpose. The latter, I hear, are quite happy about what this has done for local business: Americans may be standing in the unemployment lines, while their taxes go to fund endless war, but the Seychellois are in relatively good shape these days.


The Seychelles, another “former” Marxist one-party state, is a group of islands in the Indian Ocean: the head of state, James Michel, inherited his position from the former dictator, France-Albert Rene, who overthrew the first elected Seychellois president, James Mancham a short year after the former British colony gained independence. A series of phony elections have since been held, with the ruling party managing to stay in office due to gerrymandering and vote-buying. While not as openly repressive as Zenawi, Michel is of the same type: a “former” commie who has changed his colors but not his ways. These are our great allies in the “war on terrorism.”

The expansion of the war effort in this way has transformed the CIA into an international militarized force whose analysts are tasked with finding enough targets to keep the drones flying. Combing the world for alleged “terrorists,” and keeping their activities well out of the spotlight, the “new” CIA, under Gen. David Petraeus, is primed and ready for its mission, which is to expand the frontiers of our endless “war on terrorism.”

This new role for the CIA has its domestic political uses, keeping knowledge of our latest wars “top secret” and therefore safe from nosey congressional committees, journalists, and most of all the American people. The mechanized imperialism of the drone wars gives our leaders the ability to distance themselves from their own criminal actions, and keep US casualties down to a minimum. It’s clean, it’s cold, and it’s cowardly – which just about describes the methods of modern American imperialism to a tee.

  Justin Raimondo

Numerous referring links are embedded in Raimondo’s article, so if you care to see whether what he’s saying is backed up, visit the “Justin Raimondo” link.

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

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Nail Biter

Obama's last-ditch diplomatic effort won praise from Israel, which will rely on Washington to block the Palestinian U.N. membership bid, but drew a bitter response from the Palestinians, who said it violated the spirit of the "Arab spring" revolts and showed no sign of backing down.

  Raw Story

Glad to hear it.

Obama followed his speech with a round of talks with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who echoed the president's assertion that negotiations were the only path to a peace deal but offered no new ideas on how to restart talks.

By negotiations he means, Israel will keep building settlements in Palestinian territory and making it impossible for them to eke out a decent living, and Palestinians will suck it up.

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

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Still Dropping

The world economy has entered a "dangerous new phase" of sharply lower growth, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has warned.

Olivier Blanchard, the IMF's chief economist, said late on Tuesday that the global economy's "recovery has weakened considerably", adding that "strong policies are needed to improve the outlook and reduce the risks".

The IMF expects the US economy to grow just 1.5 per cent this year and 1.8 per cent in 2012, down from its June forecast of 2.5 per cent in 2011 and 2.7 per cent next year.

As a result, the international lending organisation has sharply downgraded its economic outlook for the US and Europe through the end of next year.


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

Hammering Away

President Barack Obama will meet Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Wednesday to urge him to drop plans to ask the U.N. Security Council to recognize a Palestinian state despite U.S. and Israeli objections.


Because who could imagine that someone would be so obtuse as to do something that was objected to by the U.S. and Israel?

But first, he meets with Netanyahu earlier in the day, so they can get their strong-arm strategy down pat.

Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Malki said he thought at least nine of the 15 members of the Security Council would back the Palestinian bid and urged the United States to get out of the way.


The Obama administration and Israel both say that only direct peace talks can lead to peace with the Palestinians, who in turn say almost two decades of fruitless negotiation has left them no choice but to turn to the United Nations.

And I wish them good luck. By Minister al Malki’s reckoning, I’d say there are at least 4 members of the Security Council who have been successfully pressured not to vote in favor of Palestinian statehood.

Even if the Palestinians file their Security Council application on Friday, an immediate vote is unlikely. This may allow more time for diplomacy aimed at restarting peace talks, said French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe.

Diplomacy. Is that what we’re calling it now?

International efforts to forestall a showdown in the UN security council over the declaration of a Palestinian state are solidifying around a plan for the Palestinian leader, Mahmoud Abbas, to submit a request for recognition but for a vote on the issue to be put on hold while a new round of peace talks is launched.

  UK Guardian

And by “international efforts” we mean the U.S. and Israel.

The US president Barack Obama is expected to meet the Palestinian leader at the UN on Wednesday as Abbas comes under intense pressure from the US and Europe to compromise.

Diplomats said the proposed compromise would see Abbas submit his letter to the security council, which would then defer action. In parallel, the Quartet [UN, EU, US and Russia] would issue the framework for renewed negotiations that would include a timeline for the birth of a Palestinian state.


The deal is intended to permit Abbas to follow through on his commitment to Palestinians to seek recognition for an independent state at the security council, a pledge he could not abandon entirely without considerable damage to his already battered leadership.

What? Palestinians are as easily led by the nose with false promises and pretenses to action as Americans are? I don’t think so.

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

That Didn't Take Long

An 18-year-old law that prevented serving US military personnel from disclosing that they were gay has been formally repealed.

At one minute past midnight eastern time (0401 GMT) [September 20], the controversial don't ask don't tell (DADT) law was abolished after its repeal was signed into law some nine months ago.

  UK Guardian

Wouldn't want to rush things.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

This Should Help Him

Rick Perry just met this morning with right-wing Jewish leaders in Manhattan to tell them "help is on the way" for Israel after he becomes president because his religion has given him a "clear directive to support Israel."


Monday, September 19, 2011

Campaign Time

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

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Campaign Time Is Special

The Democratic president upset many core supporters in July when he considered changing how [Social Security] funds are linked to inflation during acrimonious negotiations with Republicans over raising the U.S. debt ceiling.

Obama saw the change as a way to ensure the federal program remains viable for future generations, but liberals felt he was giving up too much ground to Republicans.

White House spokesman Amy Brundage said Obama's suggestions on how Congress can get to a $1.2 trillion deficit-reduction target, to be unveiled on Monday, "will not include any changes to Social Security."

Raw Story

That comes after he's re-elected.

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

Time for a Smile

Or a simile.

Annual English Teachers' awards for best student metaphors/analogies found in actual student papers:

Long separated by cruel fate, the star-crossed lovers raced across the grassy field toward each other like two freight trains, one having left Cleveland at 6:36 p.m. traveling at 55 mph, the other from Topeka at 4:19 p.m. at a speed of 35 mph.

The plan was simple, like my brother-in-law George. But unlike George, this plan just might work.

He was as lame as a duck. Not the metaphorical lame duck, either, but a real duck that was actually lame, maybe from stepping on a land mine or something.

Her vocabulary was as bad as, like, whatever.
There are more.

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