Thursday July 31, 2003
1; futures market in terror DOA; Bushism; scientists less than helpful
One soldier was killed and two wounded in a firefight at a base northeast of Baghdad. "The death brought to 50 the number of U.S. troops killed in hostile action since May 1, when President Bush declared an end to major combat in Iraq."
The Defense Department's futures market in terror and misery has been shut down. But for some reason, there are those who think that it was a reasonable idea. Tom Tomorrow explains clearly to these... I hesitate to call them this... "people"... that it was in fact A BAD IDEA. "Imagine if this system had been in place before 9/11: Congratulations, John Public! 3000 people are dead in lower Manhattan—and you’ve just won a million dollars!"
This is a Bushism that almost sounds like he could mean it: "Security is the essential roadblock to achieving the road map to peace."—Washington, D.C., July 25, 2003
The Iraqi scientists apparently aren't that helpful in tracking down those nasty nasty WMDs. "The White House, for instance, has cited the case of nuclear scientist Mahdi Obeidi, who recently dug up plans and components for a gas centrifuge that he said he buried in 1991 at the end of the Persian Gulf War. The White House has pointed to the discovery as a sign of Hussein's continuing nuclear ambitions, but Obeidi told his interrogators that Iraq's nuclear program was dormant in the years before war began in March. The sources said Obeidi also disputed evidence cited by the administration -- namely Iraq's purchase of aluminum tubes that various officials said were for a new centrifuge program to enrich uranium for nuclear bombs. Obeidi said the tubes were for rockets, as Iraq had said before the war."
Wednesday July 30, 2003
I'm watching Bush speak, and the DJA drop...
Tuesday July 29, 2003
capitalists for terror; divide and conquer; taking hostages in Iraq; fascisti for Bush
Business world, meet the world of global terror. The Pentagon is opening up a futures market for terrorist acts. "Traders bullish on a biological attack on Israel or bearish on the chances of a North Korean missile strike would have the opportunity to bet on the likelihood of such events on a new Internet site established by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency."... "One of the two senators, Byron L. Dorgan of North Dakota, said the idea seemed so preposterous that he had trouble persuading people it was not a hoax."... "The senators also suggested that terrorists could participate because the traders' identities will be unknown." The White House had sought $8 million for the project, but when word leaked out about it, they tried to downplay it, going so far as to change the website. The headline should have been, "White House promotes profitting from terror." Tom Tomorrow points out that they seem to be taking their cue from science fiction novels.
Part of the Republican plot against the American people seems to involve playing both sides of an issue. Sometimes it's the President playing good cop, the House playing bad cop, sometimes the reverse, and sometimes the White House plays both good cop *and* bad cop. For the first, see this latest example in the NYTimes: "Environmental Carnage". Bush in his 2000 campaign promises to fully fund the Conservation Trust Fund, and environmental program, only to have the House slash its funding by half. The White House has said nothing.
Apparently, one of the reasons we're starting to nab more Iraqis on our hitlist is that we've started kidnapping their families and holding them for ransom. The Washington Post mislabels these violations of the Geneva Convention "aggressive tactics." From the article: "On Wednesday night... troops picked up the wife and daughter of an Iraqi lieutenant general. They left a note: 'If you want your family released, turn yourself in.' Such tactics are justified, [Col. David Hogg] said, because, 'It's an intelligence operation with detainees, and these people have info.' They would have been released in due course, he added later. The tactic worked. On Friday, Hogg said, the lieutenant general appeared at the front gate of the U.S. base and surrendered." Here's something from the Uniform Military Code of Justice: "897. ART. 97. UNLAWFUL DETENTION Any person subject to this chapter who, except as provided by law, arrests, or confines any person shall be punished as a court-martial may direct." And there's the Army's Law of Land Warfare (Chapter 5, Section III).
Sunday July 27, 2003
Bill Maher has something to say about the recall of California Governor Gray Davis.
Here's why the economy turned: The dot-com bubble burst. (Obviously on the orders of Gray Davis.) The airline industry collapsed. (Just as Gray Davis planned.) We fought two wars. (Playing right into Gray Davis' hands.) And Dick Cheney's friends at Enron "gamed" the energy market and ripped off the state for billions.
So you can see the problem: Gray Davis.
And the obvious solution: A Viennese weightlifter. Arnold Schwarzenegger. Finally, a candidate who can explain the Bush administration's positions on civil liberties in the original German.
Now, I'm not saying that I like Davis. Being enthusiastic about Davis would be like saying your favorite food is straw. But he fought for his country in Vietnam and won a fair election, and he's entitled to his term.
Maybe he's a lousy governor, but he was the one elected by voters who bothered to show up at the polls. Their efforts shouldn't be undone by disgruntled shoppers signing a petition on their way out of Target.
It's about time for Tim Russert's show. I assume he'll have some administration officials on for a victory lap after the killing of Saddam's sons. Maybe he'll ask them about the 5 U.S. soldiers killed in Iraq in the last 24 hours. I sorta doubt it.
Saturday July 26, 2003
Three more American soldiers were killed in Iraq today. The three were guarding a children's hospital when the came under grenade attack. Four others were wounded in the attack.
Bill Bennett's virtue
Bill Bennett's defense of his gambling?
"I'm not a hypocrite... I never got on the soapbox about gambling."
That's what passes for moral clarity on the Right. This is truly a man of virtue.
Thursday July 24, 2003
Three more American soldiers were killed in Iraq, near Mosul, when their convoy came under attack from RPGs. They were from the 101st Airborne Division, which was involved in the attack on Hussein's sons.
Wednesday July 23, 2003
2 more soldiers; Oday and Qusay; another tape; another fall guy; Brazil's chances; inverted totalitarianism; dismissed
2 more soldiers died in separate incidents in Iraq, one in Mosul, close to the site where Saddam's two sons were killed. Another soldier died in an ambush earlier today in Ramadi. Both were committed in the "Sunni Triangle", an area north of Baghdad with a strong concentration of Saddam loyalists. The Bush administration is predicting (guessing, hoping, assuming, praying) that attacks against soldiers will subside now that Saddam's sons are dead. In the celebratory gunfire that occurred in a few parts of Baghdad after the news of the brothers' deaths, American soldiers believed they were still under attack. A man and a 7-year-old were killed. NPR this morning had audio of Vietnam veteran and Republican Senator Chuck Hagel sounding less optimistic about how the news of Saddam's sons will change the guerrilla war in Iraq.
Another tape from Saddam has been played by Al-Jazeera.
Are we a fascist country? Or "inverted totalitarians"? Via the great blog of David Neiwert, this article at Newsday.com, by Princeton professor Sheldon S. Wolin: "A Kind of Fascism is Replacing Our Democracy". "It became commonplace to refer to an 'American empire' and to the United States as 'the world's only superpower.' Instead of those formulations, try to conceive of ones like 'superpower democracy' or 'imperial democracy,' and they seem not only contradictory but opposed to basic assumptions that Americans hold about their political system and their place within it." Be sure to also read Neiwert's great extended piece, "Rush, Newspeak and Fascism: An Exegesis", which started as a series of posts on his blog. It's available at his website.
Charges were dismissed against a civil-rights lawyer accused of aiding terrorists. The charges were deemed "unconstitutionally vague".
Tuesday July 22, 2003
I got a queasy feeling in my stomach at the news that Mel Gibson's new movie about Christ's Crucifixion was shown to an audience that consisted of, and no, I'm not shitting you, "Peggy Noonan, Cal Thomas and Kate O'Beirne; conservative essayist Michael Novak; President Bush's abortive nominee for labor secretary, Linda Chavez; staff director Mark Rodgers of the Senate Republican conference chaired by Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pa.); former Republican House member Mark Siljander of Michigan; and White House staffer David Kuo, deputy director of the Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives."
Other attendees: clergymen, Matt Drudge, and Jack Valenti.
Dave Neiwert at Orcinus has a good rundown on Gibson and his family. Holocaust denying and radical separatist Catholicism.
This can qualify as this week's "Holy" fuck moment.
Monday July 21, 2003
Some articles I came across over the weekend, but didn't get a chance to post (including some for today):
Sunday: 2 soldiers were killed in Iraq on Sunday when they came under attack from RPGs and small arms fire. Another was wounded.
Monday: One more soldier killed. "A U.S. soldier and his Iraqi interpreter were killed in a grenade and gun attack in north Baghdad on Monday... The dead soldier was from the 1st Armored Division... It brought to 152 the number of U.S. troops killed in action since the March 20 start of war - five more than during the 1991 Gulf War."
Who can beat the President in 2004? A hat could beat him, as long as the American Right wakes up and decides that there's such a thing as too many lies. Funny, a few years ago even 1/2 of a lie was enough to send them over the edge. Now they can't seem to get enough of 'em. Molly Ivins surveys the field.
Maureen Dowd on how the Bush team used the Drudge Report to smear the ABC reporter who put together the segment about American soldiers' discontent in Iraq. Apparently the reporter is Canadian and gay, and to the eyes of the Bushies, this was enough to discredit him. That the administration would think this is simply appalling.
Ex-CIA officers outraged over the Bush administration's "cynical" and "orchestrated" use of intelligence. Said Raymond McGovern, former CIA analyst and supervisor: "'The Agency analysts that we are in touch with are disheartened, dispirited, angry. They are outraged.'" "For some intelligence veterans, the fear is the truth and the reputations of the people who must find the truth have become casualties of this war." That's the thing. You can't just continue to smear reputations and not expect a backlash. By pinning their errors on the CIA, they opened up themselves to a lot of retribution.
Madeleine Albright: "Squandering Capital"
U.S. Troops Fix Bayonets Against Iraqi Crowd: "U.S. Marines fixed bayonets on Sunday to disperse an angry crowd of 10,000 Iraqi Shi'ites in the holy city of Najaf after tempers flared over rumors of U.S. harassment of a radical cleric. Marchers dispersed after two hours but some of the Shi'ite cleric's supporters warned of an "uprising" in the city if the Americans failed to pull out within three days. 'If they don't leave, they will face a popular uprising," said Sayed Razak al-Moussawi, an aide to the anti-U.S. cleric Moqtada al-Sadr.'"
Read this: Josh Marshall rips William Safire a new one over his latest Op-ed in the NYTimes. Safire believes that any inquiry into the President's mishandling of Iraq is doing the bidding of Saddam. Here's his summary of Safire's logic: "...accountability and responsibility are so alien to these people that the responsibility for their manipulations, reckless enthusiasm and lack of planning rests not with them, but on the shoulders of those who now choose to call them on it."
Finally, Brad DeLong on why America is now in a worse position than it was in before we took Iraq. "...our alliances are now in shreds... we may well have just convinced a lot of people around the globe that U.S. foreign policy is not a (moral) drive to suppress terrorist madmen but an (immoral) attempt to accomplish some large imperial mission... Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. He, however, liked to sleep in palaces and live richly... Now his weapons of mass destruction are in the hands of others, who don't like to sleep in palaces, don't like to live richly, and expect to die gloriously... The people of Iraq, however, are likely to be better off in the long run as a result of our invasion. "
Sunday July 20, 2003
Brand on the run; "there's a groundswell starting"
U.S. brands on the run. Another sign that Bush is killing America, businesses and all. Until this year, the Roper ASW poll never showed a correlation between anti-American sentiment and a decline in American brand power abroad. "It had found no such link until this year, when a survey of 30,000 consumers in 30 major economies found that those who felt an increasing alienation from American culture were also likely to report a growing disinclination to eat at McDonald’s, or to buy Nike shoes. ...11 of the top 12 American multinationals saw falling or stagnant scores for 'brand power' ...while nine of the top 12 European and Asian multinationals saw their scores rise."
Nick Kristof's latest article, "Going Home, to Red Ink and Blues," details the effects of state and local budget cuts on his hometown of Yamhill, Oregon. What's growing in Oregon is anger:
"This woman was saying to me, People should be on the streets with pitchforks, saying: `Revolt! Revolt!' " said Ms. Stern, the county commissioner. "There's a groundswell starting. I can feel this energy coming."
Friday July 18, 2003
Yes, I am Chris Nelson, no I am not the Chris Nelson of the "Chris Nelson Report".
Beware of coffee houses, reading materials, and beards
Ok, people. I don't care what you do for a living, if you're a programmer or an artist or a student or a house-spouse; this next bit of news you damn well better digest.
A man in Atlanta got a visit from the FBI because someone saw what he was reading in a coffee shop and ratted him out. Here's the full article, and here's the article he was reading, "Weapons of Mass Stupidity".
The article is about Fox News and its corruption. " Fox News is an oxymoron and Cheech and Chong would have made a more credible team of war correspondents than Geraldo Rivera and Ollie North." "They don't make Republicans like they used to. The troop-support doctrine, so universally and smugly conceded, is logic for the intellectually disabled, for people who've been hit in the head repeatedly with a heavy shovel. The stupidity of those who buy it is no more astonishing than the hypocrisy of those who sell it -- Republicans who preach our sacred duty to the army's morale and simultaneously cancel $15 billion in veteran's benefits and 60 percent of federal education subsidies for servicemen's children. If you can't believe that, look it up."
So, what do you think? Literally. What do you think? Because it could get you a visit from the FBI. Maybe you even thought twice before clicking the link to read that article. Maybe it really was seditious. Maybe you didn't even read it. Maybe you're feeling a bit uneasy about reading a blog that even points to the article. You better clear your browser's history file! Of course, they have your IP address; release and renew time! But isn't it on file with your provider so that they can track you down if they need to? Oh shit!
Why would this happen? The guy who was visited by the FBI thinks it has something to do with his beard. He was caught "reading while bearded." That's something right out of the 50's, folks. Has the US really been united, not divided? You be the judge. But keep it to yourself, ok?
Saw this via This Modern World.
Iraqi scientist betrayal; Energy Task Force or Iraqi oil grab?; GOP money follies; what'd they know, and when?
An Iraqi scientist is denying the American claim about the aluminum tubes, saying they weren't meant for uranium refinement, and that the nuclear program hadn't been resurrected since it was put into stasis in '91. "A key Iraqi scientist recently told the CIA that high-strength aluminum tubes bought by Baghdad weren't meant for nuclear bomb production, as President Bush suggested in his State of the Union address, two experts on Iraq's nuclear program say. Mahdi Shukur Obeidi, who headed a uranium-enrichment unit vital to Iraq's pre-1991 bomb plans, 'also said that since '91 they hadn't resurrected a nuclear weapon program,' according to ex-Iraq inspector David Albright..."
Documents obtained by Judicial Watch under the Freedom of Information Act, specifically in regard to the secret Energy Task Force, reveal maps of Iraqi oilfields, pipelines, refineries and terminals", and two charts that detail "Iraqi oil and gas projects, and 'Foreign Suitors for Iraqi Oilfield Contracts.'" The documents are dated March, 2001. Here's their article, and here are the documents.
At least six Republican state attorneys general solicited campaign donations from corporations or trade groups that were subject to "lawsuits or regulations" by their state governments. "One of the documents [obtained by the Washington Post] mentions potential state actions against health maintenance organizations and suggests the attorneys general should 'start targeting the HMOs' for fundraising. It also cites a news article about consolidation and regulation of insurance firms and states that 'this would be a natural area for us to focus on raising money.'"
After stating that the US government didn't actually have the Niger forgeries until after Bush's State Of The Union address, this turns out to... uh... not be the case. Surprise! "U.S. Had Uranium Papers Earlier." "The State Department received copies of what would turn out to be forged documents suggesting that Iraq tried to purchase uranium oxide from Niger three months before the president's State of the Union address, administration officials said." "The administration, facing increased criticism over the claims it made about Iraq's attempts to buy uranium, had said until now that it did not have the documents before the State of the Union speech." (emphasis mine).
Thursday July 17, 2003
"Our morale is gone"; A big letdown; Court-martial for these soldiers?; Iraqis cheer attacks on GIs; ABC airs forgeries; Ohio wavers
It couldn't get much worse than this: Marooned soldiers: 'Our morale is gone'. "Pvt. Matthew Davis looked at the ground and shook his head. 'It feels like we died and this is our hell,' he said. Davis is stuck in Iraq... Said one Second Brigade officer, who asked not to be identified: 'It doesn't seem like anybody higher up cares to realize what these soldiers have been through, or what they're going through on a daily basis. I can guarantee you they've never stood out in a checkpoint in the heat of the day, day after day, full battle rattle, always wondering if today's the day somebody's going to shoot me. Do they even care?'"
And from ABC News, more on the soldiers' laments: "The sergeant at the 2nd Battle Combat Team Headquarters pulled me aside in the corridor. 'I've got my own Most Wanted list,' he told me. He was referring to the deck of cards the U.S. government published, featuring Saddam Hussein, his sons and other wanted members of the former Iraqi regime. 'The aces in my deck are Paul Bremer, Donald Rumsfeld, George Bush and Paul Wolfowitz,' he said." And from another soldier, "'If Donald Rumsfeld was here,' he said, 'I'd ask him for his resignation.'"
The new General on the scene in Iraq is talking about "verbal reprimand or something more stringent" for the soldiers who spoke out against Donald Rumsfeld and his cabal. And on the domestic front: "'This saying one thing and backing out of it, all it does is breed distrust,' said Michelle Brock, wife of a 3rd Infantry soldier based at Fort Stewart in Georgia. 'It's going to be really hard to trust anything that the military tells us again.'"
Iraqis cheer US death. " When that explosion was heard, a group of Iraqi civilians, who were nearby, gathered at the site of the aftermath [and] were watching what was going on. And when they apparently realized that this was an attack on a U.S. military force, they erupted in cheers. And that cheering went on for several minutes."
ABC airs confidential Niger/Iraq forgeries (click link to visit a page where you can see the documents for yourself) "
From the NYTimes, "In Ohio, Iraq Questions Shake Even Some of Bush's Faithful": "Jim Stock voted for George W. Bush in 2000 and says that if the election were held tomorrow, he'd vote for President Bush again. But he says he is troubled by indications that the White House used questionable intelligence about Iraqi efforts to buy uranium in Africa to push for war in Iraq. And he wants a fuller accounting."
Wednesday July 16, 2003
1 of 3, and an accident
Another soldier killed today, two injured. The dead soldier had recently arrived in Iraq. "We need more protection. We've seen enough. We've stayed in Iraq long enough," said one of the men in his unit.
In Hilla, a soldier died today when he fell from the building he was guarding.
The number of Americans killed in Iraq now equals the number killed during Gulf War I.
Dwindling intelligence; "we knew it"; Korean War II: The Return?; soldier directly addresses Rumsfeld's statements
The Bush administration is face-to-face with their core fault: dwindling intelligence. But not just in their cheerleader-cum-tyrant leader. According to an article in the Washington Post today, most of the intelligence about Iraq's nuclear weapons programs was debunked before the war began. "By Jan. 28... the intelligence report concerning Iraqi attempts to buy uranium from Africa -- although now almost entirely disproved -- was the only publicly unchallenged element of the administration's case that Iraq had restarted its nuclear program. That may explain why the administration strived to keep the information in the speech and attribute it to the British, even though the CIA had challenged it earlier."
3rd Infantry Division is staying through September at least (RealAudio link). The response to the news? "They just groaned, and said, 'We knew it.' They've been there since September 2002. Told they'd go home in May, then in May they were sent to Fallujah, and they were told then that they'd leave in July. Now they're told September. "'That date is like Jello. It's unstable. You can't rely on it,' said one soldier." "The quickest way home is through Baghdad", they were told.
Via the Daily Kos: William Perry, former defense secretary, sees war in Korea as a gathering storm. "'I think we are losing control' of the situation, said Perry, who believes North Korea soon will have enough nuclear warheads to begin exploding them in tests and exporting them to terrorists and other U.S. adversaries." Further into the article: "'It was manageable six months ago if we did the right things,' he said. 'But we haven't done the right things.' He added: 'I have held off public criticism to this point because I had hoped that the administration was going to act on this problem, and that public criticism might be counterproductive. But time is running out, and each month the problem gets more dangerous.'"
This next article is depressing as hell. But it ends with a soldier directly confronting Rumsfeld's bullshit. "Alpha Company’s illusions are gone for good now. Good works seem like a waste of time. They brought in bulldozers to clean the neighborhood soccer field of accumulated trash, and the next day people were using it as a dump again. 'There’s no trust anymore,' says Sgt. Harris. 'None.' Specialist Bobby Stuart says 'I don’t see how Rumsfeld can say there’s been progress when there are soldiers getting shot day in and day out.'"
Tuesday July 15, 2003
Goodbye and good luck
I hope there is a company or an organization willing to hire some of the amazing talent that worked on the Mozilla project, because the world needs Mozilla to continue.
Good luck and best wishes to everyone.
What does it mean to be an "activist for technology"?
I'm working on a presentation on "technology activism" for a class, and I'm interested in hearing from you all on what it means to be a "technology activist". Do you consider yourself an activist for technology? If so, what technologies? If you're an Open Source (or Free Software) activist, why? If you're a Mozilla activist, why? Why do you think that your activism is important? And what kind of work do you engage in to promote a specific tech cause or a specific technology?
I'm curious to hear from you all on this topic, so please comment! Your comments might make it into the presentation (attributed or not, as you desire), and would go a long way towards helping me explain this emerging form of activism to a group entirely unfamiliar with it.
Thanks in advance!
Krugman!; Ari gone; Marine General in Niger; vets want Cheney axed; Dixie Chicks are my heroes;
Ari's GONE! No article, because you knew. You knew when you woke up and the birds sang a little sweeter, the water ran a little cooler, the sun shone a little brighter. Ari's off to that big corporation in the sky (in DC, probably). But enough of him. Scumbag. Liar. Menace. Ok, enough.
Before there was Amb. Wilson's trip to Niger to determine the veracity of the Iraq/Niger/uranium claim, the US sent a four-star General to Niger to look into the security of the Niger uranium stocks and the claim specifically. "...Fulford said he came away 'assured' that the supply of 'yellowcake' was kept secure by a French consortium. Both Fulford, then deputy commander of the U.S. European Command and his commander, Air Force Gen. Joseph Ralston, said the issue did not surface again, although they were both routinely briefed on weapons proliferation in Africa. 'I was convinced it was not an issue,' Fulford said." First the CIA, now the Marines?
Oh, and I forgot about the Army, too...
...and veteran intelligence officers, who want Cheney axed for his contribution to the uranium debacle.
Impeachment? Is David Broder hinting?
Monday July 14, 2003
1 of 7
CNN: "U.S. soldier killed in Iraq; Rumsfeld: Expect more attacks" "An American soldier was killed and six others wounded in a rocket-propelled grenade attack early Monday, a U.S. military spokeswoman said. Around 6 a.m., a convoy of the 3rd Infantry Division traveling in the Al Mansur area of Baghdad when it was hit by multiple RPGs. Casualties were evacuated to the 28th Combat Support Hospital, according to the spokeswoman. With the latest death, 81 U.S. troops have died in Iraq since President Bush announced an end to major combat operations May 1. Of those, 33 have been killed by hostile fire and 48 were victims of non-hostile fire or accidents. "
New York Times pimps for Bush
Here's a headline in today's NYTimes:
and here's what the headline was a short time before editing (which changed the story insignficantly):
Saturday July 12, 2003
Lies Lies Lies
Two key aspects of the Bush administration have come into sharp focus over the past few days. The most obvious is the lies. They're drowning in them. Condi's lies, Bush's lies, Rumsfeld's lies, Colin's lies, Wolfowitz's lies, Cheney's lies, all out on display for the world to see. The effect is already being felt, for Bush's ratings are dropping, or in keeping with the testosterone theme coursing through the administration, the numbers are flaccid.
But as I've been saying since the first few posts in this blog, the key to the Bush administration is that they will never never never accept responsibility for their actions. And now we know how far they'll go: so far as to put George Tenet's head out on a pike in the White House lawn. In Britain, I would think that their intelligence agencies would rise up to defend themselves, but not in this case. Am I the only one to think that Tenet was part of the discussion of who was going to take the heat? To me it was obviously planned. Condi makes the mention of Tenet explicitly, and a little later he issues his statement. Pinning it on Tenet is to their calculation the best way to defuse the situation and deflect attention from their excessive lies.
Tenet will probably be the end of it. If not, it could be a sign that the American people are waking up from a long slumber. The press will go one of two ways. If it gets any deeper, and they have to create a graphic for the event, it's all over for Bush. But more likely they already have their Liberia graphics prepared and queued and they don't want to lose their investment in the 3d design and the sound design needed to pull those spots together. The power of free market capitalism at its best, folks.
The lies and petty deceptions and buck-passing are undeniable now, even to the most partisan Rightist. We know, however, that they'll accept even this behavior without question. What might come out of this event is that there will be more definition to the actual size of the Republican "majority": the folks that would stick it out with Bush even if they learned he was growing clone babies in test tubes (from DNA stolen from veterans) for use in Satanic rituals.
Yesterday during our Arts Festival here in town I manned the Spontaneous Poetry Booth for a few hours. A dollar donation to the Women's Resource Center would get you a poem written by one or more people right on the spot, based on three words you provided. Not really something for a strict poet with a respect for the form, but for someone who has found himself behind a serious writing block, it was a great help, because you can write and suck and no one gives a damn at that point, except the poets who come up to you who would rather give you one of their own poems than put a dollar in the jar to help battered women. At least one was shamed (by his peers) into putting a dollar in the jar (and thankfully he didn't take a poem). The poems could be silly or serious. Here's an example from two of us (Elaine Meder and me). It was written to a cabdriver friend of ours. We stopped at three lines.
The road was long and the fares so-so,
How long have I been staring
At this bugshit on the windshield?
Apparently we touched something deep in him. :-) He wants to frame it.
Fun fun. Now onto Bush.
Wednesday July 09, 2003
Bush visits slave detention island -- authorities detain residents
Just when you thought it couldn't get any more surreal, you read this:
President Bush made an eloquent speech but did not win many friends during his brief visit to Goree Island off Senegal on Tuesday.
"We are very angry. We didn't even see him," said Fatou N'diaye, a necklace seller watching dignitaries file past to return to the mainland at the end of Bush's tour.
N'diaye and other residents of Goree, site of a famous slave trading station, said they had been taken to a football ground on the other side of the quaint island at 6 a.m. and told to wait there until Bush had departed, around midday.
Bush came to Goree to tour the red-brick Slave House, where Africans were kept in shackles before being shipped across a perilous sea to a lifetime of servitude.
He then gave an eloquent speech about the horrors of slavery, standing at a podium under a sizzling sun near a red-stone museum, topped by cannon pointing out to the sea.
The cooped-up residents were not impressed.
"It's slavery all over again," fumed one father-of-four, who did not want to give his name. "It's humiliating. The island was deserted."
"When Clinton came, he shook hands, people danced," said former Mayor Urbain Alexandre Diagne.
rigging the vote; routine attacks; soldiers' families reacting; blink and you miss the lies; Bushlusconi #2; Brazil strikers
Via Slashdot (meaning that most of you have already read it), detailed instructions on how to rig an American election. And a political analysis with recent examples of vote-tampering and malfeasance.
News from the quagmire:
Non-fatal attacks on American soldiers are rarely reported and are becoming routine (estimated at more than 12 a day in Baghdad), according to the Washington Post. Mines, homemade bombs, and RPGs. "'This kind of attack is good for the Iraqi people,' insisted Khudier Abbas, 39, a food vendor along the Tigris. 'The Americans have been here for four months. What have they done for us?' He stuck his hand into his pocket and fished out some candy -- a piece of yellow butterscotch and pink bubblegum. 'This is all the Americans have given me,' he said with a harrumph. 'They think this will make us happy?'"
The mother of a soldier in the 3rd division excoriates Bush. "Carol didn't miss the irony of Bush's flight suit fashion show... Carol calls [his] absence from duty 'desertion,' and tells the president [in a letter], 'My son will come back a 20-year-old combat veteran. Do not even pretend to have any regard for what he and his comrades have been through -- the sights, the smells, the sounds they will have etched forever in their memories.'"
David Corn on another administration lie you might have missed. "The day before Independence Day, Richard Kerr, a former CIA deputy director who is leading a review of the CIA's prewar intelligence on Iraq's unconventional weapons, held a series of interviews with journalists and revealed that his unfinished inquiry had so far found that the intelligence on Iraq's weapons of mass destruction had been somewhat ambiguous, that analysts at the CIA and other intelligence services had received pressure from the Bush administration, and that the CIA had not found any proof of operational ties between al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein's regime. In other words, Bush lied."
From the world:
Berlusconi can't get a break. Now the undersecretary of Tourism from the Rightist "Lega Nord", Stefano Stefani, has gone on the record disparaging German tourists. "'We know the Germans well, these stereotyped blondes with a hyper-nationalist pride who have always been indoctrinated to be first in the class at any cost,' he wrote." More at Corriere della Sera (Italian). Apparently another half-apology has been issued? UPDATE: No apology, and Schroeder has cancelled his Italian vacation.
Pension reforms that Lula da Silva is pushing for in order to help reform the fiscal state of Brazil have encountered their first resistance in the form of strikes by nearly 50% of Brazil's public-sector workforce. "Lula himself brushed off the strike saying he would only be worried if congress had joined in as well."
Tuesday July 08, 2003
rock bottom; more urban frustration; mortars; Iraqi jail of children actually orphanage; Niger uranium lie; Mailer on Iraq
In a devastating article in the Christian Science Monitor, Ann Scott Tyson reports that troop morale is so low that soldiers are writing to their congressmen and asking to be repatriated. ""Make no mistake, the level of morale for most soldiers that I've seen has hit rock bottom".
The Washington Post is reporting that combat in Baghdad and other urban centers in Iraq is frustrating American troops, who feel like sitting ducks. Said one soldier, "They're getting tired of us. Wouldn't you be mad if they invaded your country?"
The World Tribune is one American news source that acknowledges that mortars are again being used on our troops in Iraq.
Via This Modern World comes the news that the Iraqi children's prison was actually an orphanage. (This is the children's prison was touted by Ken Adelman on Crossfire last night as reason enough for occupying Iraq. Even after the news that it turned out to be an orphanage.) Now the kids are roaming the streets. According to Ken, "Americans should be extremely proud that we give those kids in jail a life ahead of them." Thanks, Americans!
Niger is a country
That has lots of uran'yum
And Iraq had Saddam Hussein
Who wanted to procure some
Or so the Prez'dint told us
On the television
But now his lie's exposed
Our country to derision!
Norman Mailer: "So we went ahead against all obstacles—of which the UN was the first. Wantonly, shamelessly, proudly, exuberantly, at least one half of our prodigiously divided America could hardly wait for the new war. We understood that our television was going to be terrific. And it was. Sanitized but terrific —which is, after all, exactly what network and good cable television are supposed to be."
Monday July 07, 2003
3; 18; swindle; Rush, newspeak & fascism
News from the quagmire first:
3 is the number of soldiers killed in Iraq in one 13 hour period on Sunday. The NYTimes alludes to "growing signs of a guerrilla resistance." One was shot in the neck at Baghdad University, while in line to buy a soda. The Washington Post states that the attacks are "growing more audacious and more frequent," a trend that I think is more than just "troubling to Americans and Iraqis."
If you didn't hear about it (and you probably didn't since it involved soldiers who were wounded but not killed), on Thursday a US base was hit with 4 mortar rounds, wounding 18 soldiers. It merits a mention in this article at The Independent.
News from the domestic quagmire:
The USAToday states that the Medicare drug bill ended up being a "well-financed victory for the [drug] industry." From the article: "...pharmaceutical-makers already have averted what they feared most: a single new bloc of 40 million consumers with the market power to dramatically drive down prescription prices — and industry profits. Both the House and Senate versions of the bill bar the government from getting involved in price negotiations.... Instead, both bills break the nation into 10 or more regions where private insurance companies would offer coverage for prescriptions. Rather than negotiating with the government, the pharmaceutical industry would deal with an array of insurers, each with thousands of clients, rather than millions. The extra costs would be paid by taxpayers and consumers." (emphasis mine) Link via Atrios.
David Neiwert has compiled his series "Rush, Newspeak & Fascism" into a single PDF, available for a $5 donation. His blog is a must-read.
Friday July 04, 2003
Technology activism, meet grassroots activism: Americans for Dean
Wired news is reporting that a new open source software initiative has started up: Americans for Dean. That's right - a group of software developers have taken it upon themselves to extend an open source CMS (Content Management System) called Drupal to create a software system that will, according to their stated goals, "[allow] a multitude of web sites to share content easily and automatically, to foster community through grassroots participation and to expand online campaigning."
How are they doing it? Rather ingenious, really. They're using RSS to create pipes between campaign nodes. From their design page: "What we propose to do is have the Campaign Nodes "feed" all of their information so the Dean communities can easily plug in those feeds and syndicate the content onto their own Campaign Nodes. The idea being that every Campaign Node is just another flavor of the Dean campaign effort."
If you can, head over to the site and see what these guys have planned. Their ideas are audacious and groundbreaking, and I'm sure they'd appreciate the help of like-minded open-source developers.
And there certainly should be someplace for Mozilla to fit into the picture, no?
Even if you're no Dean fan, this might be a project that you or someone else in the Mozilla community might want to participate in. So let others know about it.
Thursday July 03, 2003
Berlusconi: Italian for Bush; weather gone "haywire"; they're "bringing it on";
Berlusconi is off to a great start as the latest President of the EU. During a question-and-answer period after his speech, a German MEP made mention of Berlusconi's sidestepping of bribery charges by use of an immunity law. Berlusconi's response? "Mr Schulz, I know there is a producer in Italy who is making a film on the Nazi concentration camps. I will suggest you for the role of commandant. You'd be perfect." He's now under a deadline to apologize. More at the NYTimes.
The World Meteorological Organization reports that the world's weather is going haywire. "In a startling report, the WMO, which normally produces detailed scientific reports and staid statistics at the year's end, highlighted record extremes in weather and climate occurring all over the world in recent weeks, from Switzerland's hottest-ever June to a record month for tornadoes in the United States - and linked them to climate change." More at CNN.com.
After Bush encouraged guerrilla fighters in Iraq to attack American troops, they have done just that, "bringing it on" as it were. 10 soldiers wounded. Driveby RPGs, firefights, and explosive-laden roads.
Wednesday July 02, 2003
Internation force: "Here we come to save the day!" Uh huh.
Don't look now, but a small international contingent is about to take up residence in Iraq, while here in America Bush vows to finish the job. Because of his Coalition of the Willing's inability to handle the war's endgame, the Bush team is desperate to bring some legitimacy to the whole affair and take some of the pressure off of themselves for such a collosal screwup. But as soon as Italians and Romanians and New Zealanders start ending up with their body parts strewn across the sands we're gonna see some serious unhappiness.
Bush screwed up and is trying to deflect responsibility onto others, but he is going to find that the extent of his failure has been so great that their paltry attempts to change the subject are going to fail. The forces of opposition in Iraq had planned this guerrilla uprising from the beginning, and it's working, and they're obviously not going to stop (especially knowing that the result of their behavior was to get Americans out of Iraq, even a few). Bremer says that these opposition forces "are on the losing side of history". So guerrilla fighters never win? Hmm... that doesn't sound quite right.
It seems to me that Bush made a big misstep by getting the war overwith so soon, and not preparing for the possibility of an insurgent guerrilla force. Had he spent a few more months preparing, planning an endgame, chances are that the end result would have been better, and the fade from his public opinion poll high would have been much slower. Now his ratings are dropping (his re-elect numbers are less than 50%), and unless he starts another war, these will surely drop further.
Tuesday July 01, 2003
Word bites Blair; planned resistance; 7 million; plant; "get our asses out of here";
The Blair administration got undermined by the fact that the plagiarized document they used to promote their war in Iraq happened to be a Word document, and it happened to have a revision log tucked inside. The log follows the file from the Foreign Office to Downing Street.
As I have suspected, it looks as if the post-war quagmire might have been planned by Iraq. From the Observer, "Allied officials now believe that a document recently found in Iraq detailing an 'emergency plan' for looting and sabotage in the wake of an invasion is probably authentic. It was prepared by the Iraqi intelligence service in January and marked 'top secret'. It outlined 11 kinds of sabotage, including burning government offices, cutting power and communication lines and attacking water purification plants. What gives the document particular credence is that it appears to match exactly the growing chaos and large number of guerrilla attacks on coalition soldiers, oil facilities and power plants."
Howard Dean received $819,000 in donations yesterday -- $7.1 million for the second quarter -- my guess is that this $819,000 came mainly through blogs. More at the Washington Post.
Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity suspect that the Bush administration might be planning to plant WMD evidence.
Soldier morale is high in Iraq, according to the WP. "... get our [expletive] out of here," said a reservist from Pittsburgh. "I say that seriously. We have no business being here. We will not change the culture they have in Iraq, in Baghdad. Baghdad is so corrupted. All we are here is potential people to be killed and sitting ducks." "You can put me up in a five-star hotel, and I'm not going to be here for two years," said Sgt. Jennifer Appelbaum, 26, a legal secretary from Philadelphia." Says another, "The truth has become apparent. The Americans painted a picture that they would come, provide good things to the Iraqi people, spread security, but regrettably... Iraqi people hate the Americans."