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"To announce that there must be no criticism of the president, or that we are to stand by the president, right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public." Theodore Roosevelt


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Friday, May 13, 2005

Molly Bingham - A True Hero

It seems there may be hope yet for the future of our country, if only more journalist had this type of integrity. Molly Bingham a Louisville native, was detained in 2003 by Iraqi security forces and held in Abu Ghraib prison from March 25 to April 2, 2003. After her release she sought the Iraqi resistance to understand who these people are who are fighting, why they fight, what their fundamental beliefs are, when they started, what kinds of backgrounds they come from, what education, jobs they have. Were they former military, are they Iraqi or foreign? Are they part of al-Qaida?

...

What if the American military or intelligence found out what we were working on? Would they tail us and round up the people we met? Would they kick down our door late one night, rifle through all our stuff and arrest us for "collaborating with the enemy?" Bear in mind that there are no real laws in Iraq. At the time that we were working, the American military was the law, and it seemed to me that they were pretty much making it up as they went along. I was pretty sure that if they wanted to "disappear" us, rough us up or even send us for an all expenses paid vacation in Guantánamo for suspected al-Qaida connections, they could do so with very little, or even no recourse on our part.

I could go into a long litany of the ways in which the American military has treated journalists in Iraq. Recent actions indicate that the U.S. military will detain and/or kill any journalist who happens to be caught covering the Iraqi side of the militant resistance, and indeed a number of journalists have been killed by U.S. troops while working in Iraq. This behavior at the moment seems to be limited to journalists who also happen to be Arabs, or Arab-looking, but that is only a tangential story to what I'm telling you about here.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

President Magoo

Apperently while the White House thought they might be under attack; the Secret Service thought it shouldn't be a concern of George...



WASHINGTON: United States president George W Bush was not told for nearly an hour while he finished a bike ride about a breach in White House airspace yesterday that prompted the highest alert since the September 11, 2001, attacks, the White House said. The White House said the Secret Service held off informing the president because he was not in danger.

Ok, so he was not in danger, but what about the rest of us? Shouldn't the Commander in Chief be giving some sort of military direction on another possible attack? ...I feel safer.

Iraqi Civil War

From the lack of reporting here in the States, one might be ignorant of how nasty things are getting in Iraq. But despite the rhetoric, perception is not reality; reality is reality...

"It's just political rhetoric to say we are not in a civil war. We've been in a civil war for a long time," said Pat Lang, the former top Middle East intelligence official at the Pentagon.

Other experts said Iraq is on the verge of a full-scale civil war with civilians on both sides being slaughtered. Incidents in the past two weeks south of Baghdad, with apparently retaliatory killings of Sunni and Shia civilians, point in that direction, they say.

Also of concern were media accounts that hard-line Shia militia members are being deployed to police hard-line Sunni communities such as Ramadi, east of Baghdad, which specialists on Iraq said was a recipe for disaster.

"I think we are really on the edge" of all-out civil war, said Noah Feldman, a New York University law professor who worked for the U.S. coalition in Iraq.

Media Pawns?

William Rivers Pitt gets an inside look on the production of mass media...

So the phone rings and I answered it while trying to navigate Memorial Drive in Cambridge - yes, at that moment I was the jerk on his cell phone who almost kills you with his car - and on the line is a producer from MSNBC who wanted me on the Connie Chung show. Hot damn, I thought. This is getting serious. The producer wanted me on the show to talk about Hans Blix and the weapons inspections taking place in Iraq. Great, I said. Yeah, she went on, we want you to talk about how the inspectors are doing a really bad job.

So picture this moment. There I was, trying to drive down one of the worst roads in Cambridge with a cell phone the size of a gallon of milk stuck to my ear, and I have this MSNBC producer telling me that if I go on the show, I have to dump all over the inspectors who at that time had been in-country about a week. Coincidentally, that was exactly the same line of rhetoric being pushed by the White House at exactly that time. I'm sure the look on my face was priceless, and I'm lucky me, the car and the giant cell phone didn't wind up in the Charles River.

I asked her if she knew who she was talking to. She didn't understand. My book, I told her, says there are no weapons of mass destruction and therefore no reason to go to war there. I'm the last person on the planet, therefore, who is going to haul water for the idea that there are weapons in Iraq. Furthermore, I said, I don't know where you get off trying to gin up resentment against the inspectors. They just got there, and if they can finish their work without getting derailed by nonsense like this, it'll hopefully keep a lot of people from getting killed. The MSNBC producer laughed quietly - that's the part I will never forget, how she laughed - and hung up.


Its creepy when one thinks about the the producer's response of laughter. Maybe the majority of people in the media aren't just ignorant pawns; they just have no conscience.

One Nation Under Bush

It's official, the transition is complete. We're living in a theocracy.



Join the millions of Americans who believe that President Bush’s faith-based administration presents the best hope for America’s future. The future is in your hands.

What ever happened to seperation of church and state? Oh, that's so 9-10.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Thieves and Liars

Excuse me, but why the fuck are we giving bonuses to Cheney's Halliburton when we don't even have enough funds to buy our troops substantial armor and equipment? This of course is a rhetorical question; the answer is that they're all shameless thieves and liars. Not a new revelation here, just more evidence of the fact.

WASHINGTON — The Army said Tuesday that it had awarded an additional $72 million in bonuses to Halliburton Co. subsidiary Kellogg Brown & Root for logistics support of the Iraq war.

Just ponder for a moment what 72 million dollars worth of equipment could do for our troops in harms way. The current administration's capacity for deceit and greed simply has no bounds.

Social Security for Dummies - The Movie

Check out this great flash video: "If it ain't broke, don't privatize it!"

Summer in Iran?

There has not been any conclusive evidence in the media, but rumor has it, we will be in Iran sometime this summer. With reports like this, surfacing on a near daily basis, it's clearly a possibility.

The spiritual leader of Iran, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, has warned the United States to stay out of his country's nuclear programme. Speaking on a tour of south-east Iran, Ayatollah Khamenei said the US was arrogant, rude and deserved a punch in the mouth. He also said Iran's presidential elections in June would not make any difference to its nuclear policy.

Question is, how in the hell are we going to fight another war with our dwindling military? I'm starting to feel a draft again.

Like Father, Like Son

No surprises here. It's amazing how clear it all becomes with just a little focus. Can you see the pattern?

Real wages in the US are falling at their fastest rate in 14 years, according to data surveyed by the Financial Times by the Economic Policy Institute.

Inflation rose 3.1 per cent in the year to March but salaries climbed just 2.4 per cent, according to the Employment Cost Index. In the final three months of 2004, real wages fell by 0.9 per cent.

The last time salaries fell this steeply was at the start of 1991, when real wages declined by 1.1 per cent.

Stingy pay rises mean many Americans will have to work longer hours to keep up with the cost of living, and they could ultimately undermine consumer spending and economic growth.

Many economists believe that in spite of the unexpectedly large rise in job creation of 274,000 in April, the uneven revival in the labour market since the 2001 recession has made it hard for workers to negotiate real improvements in living standards.

Medicaid Cuts

While King George is having his social security tour in the heartland, there is a real crisis - Medicaid. The administation appears to be trying very hard to keep this one under the radar, but it appears to be getting some legs in the media - at least in the printed media.

WASHINGTON - Governors and state legislators have devised proposals for sweeping changes in Medicaid to curb its rapid growth and save billions of dollars.

Under the proposals, some beneficiaries would have to pay more for care, and states would have more latitude to limit the scope of services.

The proposals, drafted by separate working groups of governors and state legislators, provide guidance to Congress, which 10 days ago endorsed a budget blueprint that would cut projected Medicaid spending by $10 billion over the next five years.

Many of the proposals resemble ideas advanced by President Bush as part of his 2006 budget. In some cases, the governors embrace Bush's proposals, but go further. At the same time, they reject some of the president's recommendations that they believe would shift costs to the states.

US Tourism in Decline

We say go fuck yourself to the rest of the world, and imagine that, all them foreigners don't want to come visit and spend their money here anymore.

Thanks again George.

The US is losing billions of dollars as international tourists are deterred from visiting the US because of a tarnished image overseas and more bureaucratic visa policies, travel industry leaders have warned.

It's an economic imperative to address these problems, said Roger Dow, chief executive of the Travel Industry Association of America, tourism's main trade body, which concluded its annual convention this weekend in New York.


...

Mr Dow said rising anti-Americanism has created a feeling that the US is inhospitable and difficult to visit. There's a perception of Fortress America' that is much worse than it really is, he said. Mr Dow added that more competition from other destinations such as Australia, South Africa, Spain and Asia had siphoned off tourism to the US. The TIA urged US policymakers to facilitate various security measures. An October 26 deadline that requires some foreign passports to have biometric facial-recognition technology is unrealistic and must be extended, according to the TIA.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Progress?

While King George is touting the progress in Iraq...

"I join with all Americans in congratulating Iraq's new leaders and in wishing them well as they begin to serve their country in this new government."

Iraqi leaders are being kidnapped...

BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) -- Gunmen kidnapped the governor of Iraq's western Anbar province Tuesday and told his family he would be released when U.S. forces withdraw from Qaim, the site of a major new offensive against followers of Iraq's most-wanted militant, relatives said.

Gov. Raja Nawaf Farhan al-Mahalawi was seized as he drove from Qaim to the provincial capital of Ramadi, his brother, Hammad, told The Associated Press.

The kidnappers later called the family and said they were holding the governor until U.S. forces pull out of the Syrian border town, about 200 miles west of Baghdad, Hammad Nawaf Farhan al-Mahalawi said.

"The kidnappers have demanded that American forces leave Qaim in order to release him," he said.

Now, Govenor Raja Nawaf Farhan al-Mahalawi should have much higher security than your average Iraqi, but apparently he and his bodyguards appear to have been kidnapped with ease. Speaks volumes about how little grip anyone has on control over there.

Monday, May 09, 2005

Impeachment Hearings?

It's starting to look like a distinct possibility; check this out.

Dear Mr. President:

We write because of troubling revelations in the Sunday London Times apparently confirming that the United States and Great Britain had secretly agreed to attack Iraq in the summer of 2002, well before the invasion and before you even sought Congressional authority to engage in military action. While various individuals have asserted this to be the case before, including Paul O'Neill, former U.S. Treasury Secretary, and Richard Clarke, a former National Security Council official, they have been previously dismissed by your Administration. However, when this story was divulged last weekend, Prime Minister Blair's representative claimed the document contained "nothing new." If the disclosure is accurate, it raises troubling new questions regarding the legal justifications for the war as well as the integrity of your own Administration.

...

As a result of this recent disclosure, we would like to know the following:

1) Do you or anyone in your Administration dispute the accuracy of the leaked document?
2) Were arrangements being made, including the recruitment of allies, before you sought Congressional authorization go to war? Did you or anyone in your Administration obtain Britain's commitment to invade prior to this time?
3) Was there an effort to create an ultimatum about weapons inspectors in order to help with the justification for the war as the minutes indicate?
4) At what point in time did you and Prime Minister Blair first agree it was necessary to invade Iraq?
5) Was there a coordinated effort with the U.S. intelligence community and/or British officials to "fix" the intelligence and facts around the policy as the leaked document states?

Social Security for Dummies

As usual Krugman navigates through the fog of political spin and defines the realities of Bush's Social Secruity proposal in black and white...

Suppose you're a full-time Wal-Mart employee, earning $17,000 a year. You probably didn't get any tax cut. But Mr. Bush says, generously, that he won't cut your Social Security benefits.

Suppose you're earning $60,000 a year. On average, Mr. Bush cut taxes for workers like you by about $1,000 per year. But by 2045 the Bush Social Security plan would cut benefits for workers like you by about $6,500 per year. Not a very good deal.

Suppose, finally, that you're making $1 million a year. You received a tax cut worth about $50,000 per year. By 2045 the Bush plan would reduce benefits for people like you by about $9,400 per year. We have a winner!

Economic Recovery?

Is this what the Administration is referring to when they trumpet the booming economy? I guess our jobless here in the states should be checking out the classified ads in the Iraqi local papers.

Post-War Contractors Ranked by Total Contract Value in Iraq and Afghanistan From 2002 through July 1, 2004

Kellogg, Brown & Root (Halliburton) $11,431,000,000
Parsons Corp. $5,286,136,252
Fluor Corp. $3,754,964,295
Washington Group International $3,133,078,193
Shaw Group/Shaw E & I $3,050,749,910
Bechtel Group Inc. $2,829,833,859
Perini Corporation $2,525,000,000
Contrack International Inc. $2,325,000,000
Tetra Tech Inc. $1,541,947,671
USA Environmental Inc. $1,541,947,671
CH2M Hill $1,528,500,000
American International Contractors, Inc. $1,500,000,000
Odebrect-Austin $1,500,000,000
Zapata Engineering $1,478,838,958
Environmental Chemical Corporation $1,475,000,000
Explosive Ordnance Technologies Inc. $1,475,000,000
Stanley Baker Hill L.L.C. $1,200,000,000

White [House] Lies

Isn't it shocking that Bush has not corrected his false claim of a "top general" being captured. After all, the media spent a whole day last week trumpeting what an important catch this guy was.

THE capture of a supposed Al-Qaeda kingpin by Pakistani agents last week was hailed by President George W Bush as “a critical victory in the war on terror”. According to European intelligence experts, however, Abu Faraj al-Libbi was not the terrorists’ third in command, as claimed, but a middle-ranker derided by one source as “among the flotsam and jetsam” of the organisation.

Al-Libbi’s arrest in Pakistan, announced last Wednesday, was described in the United States as “a major breakthrough” in the hunt for Osama Bin Laden.

Bush called him a “top general” and “a major facilitator and chief planner for the Al- Qaeda network”. Condoleezza Rice, secretary of state, said he was “a very important figure”. Yet the backslapping in Washington and Islamabad has astonished European terrorism experts, who point out that the Libyan was neither on the FBI’s most wanted list, nor on that of the State Department “rewards for justice” programme.







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