The ability is almost magical

"We want to send a message of `don't mess with us,' " said Lt. Col. Aubrey Garner, commander of the First Battalion, 68th Armor, which is part of the Fourth Infantry Division.

"They will see that we have the flexibility to bring firepower" wherever and whenever, he continued. "The ability is almost magical."
Yes, Aubrey, there is a Santa Claus. Yes, Aubrey, the Iraqis are certainly getting the message. 63 Soldiers dead, and counting.

As usual, American officials insist that they saw this coming, and were prepared for it. Just like those cancelled Iraqi elections. They knew they were going to have to cancel them, but they planned em anyway. I guess its all part of the plan, in the spirit of the motto of this years San Francisco Gay Pride Parade: "You Gotta Give 'Em Hope!" (talking about Iraqi elections. although with all this freedom going around, maybe the US elections will be cancelled because, who knows, polls might show Bush losing to the "rejectionists, islamists, and Baath/Democratic party holdouts").


God's Monkey

Steve Bell, in masterful form, takes on Bush's faith-based warmaking.

"Faith is the evidence of things hoped for, the substance of things not seen" - Hebrews 11:1.

Construction on new segment of Apartheid Wall to begin soon

Israel's "Defense" Ministry will begin work on a new segment of the Apartheid Wall inside the West Bank within a few days.

Thurmond dead

Strom Thurmond, racist icon of the South, is dead.

Naturally, members of Congress, both Democrat and Republican, couldn't wait to heap praise upon this guy. Kind of like what happened when "Crook" Nixon died.

Isn't there anyone who will just bury these kinds of people, not praise them?


Wiener Boy

Our contribution to the "Savage on Savage" day: Wiener.

Getting away with murder

So the Israeli army has closed the file on Rachel Corrie's murder, which means that there will be no disciplinary action taken against anyone involved in the "incident", as Ha'aretz's reporter put it.

No one will spend even one day in jail for this cold-blooded murder. Take a look at the picture on the linked-to page. You can see the fucking bulldozer driver in the cab! He couldn't see her? Absolute bollocks.

I'm sure there will be much rejoicing around the blog-o-land tonight, which is home to some really sick, hypocritical individuals who could not hide their joy when Corrie was killed.

More on Israeli justice: an Israeli officer has been convicted of "improper behavior". What did he do?
According to the prosecution, Sagi used threating behavior while questioning the youth, the son of a wanted Fatah member, using threats, in an effort to discover the location of a machine gun hidden by his father.

During the "investigation," which was carried out without the supervision of a more senior official and in the absence of professionals from the Shin Bet security service or intelligence agencies, Sagi held a burning piece of paper near the youth's genitals, threatened to insert a bottle into his anus and said that he would shoot him.

In a separate incident, Sagi was accused of using a female foreign laborer from Senegal as a "human shield" while carrying out searches in Bethlehem.

Initially, Sagi... denied the accusations against him. His colleagues testified that his actions were a result of security needs and that the methods he used were no different to those used by IDF officers and Shin Bet professionals during the fighting.
[emphasis added].
I have heard that sticking bottles up people's asses can really improve security.

Turns out that the soldiers in this guy's battalion filed the charges against him. Sentencing is expected by late July. My guess for the sentence: 45 days.

On a lighter note: an Israeli court has prevented Arab Israelis from returning to their home village, which they had to flee in 1948. It was the fourth time their appeal has been rejected. The Israeli government's case rested, in part, on the assertion that the petitioners - again, citizens of Israel - were "Palestinian refugees" (i.e., stateless).

GI Joe Reports: 3 killed. 22 wounded. 2 abducted.

2 Iraqi sympathizers dead on top of that. its getting hard to keep count of all the casualties. And the sabotage:
Between yesterday and today, assailants blew up a US military vehicle with a roadside bomb, dropped grenades from an overpass, destroyed a civilian four-wheel drive travelling with US troops, blew up an oil pipeline and fired an apparent rocket-propelled grenade at a US Army truck.

But dont worry, just repeat the following after me:
"rogue Baathist elements" ....
"are engaging US forces in sporadic, random attacks" ....
"with no central coordinatation" ...
"except for the Baath party, which is the major political party in Iraq and the declared enemy of the US "...

Egghead White House scientists dismiss State's verdict on Iraqi "death trailers"

Those pointyheaded scientists at the White House - Bush and Fleischer - have dismissed the State Department's assessment that the Iraqi "death trailers" were not connected with Iraq's supposed WMD program. Apparently, they've concluded that the CIA - whose "intelligence" has given us the Sudan pharmaceutical plant bombing, 9/11, and no weapons in Iraq - knows better than the State Department on this one.

One could also see Bush putting Powell in his place and telling him to stay there.

MK calls for attack helicopter attack against Arab MK

Apparently, assassination has become so commonplace in Israeli society that lawmakers can make "jokes" about offing Arab fellow MKs with attack helicopters - and then have other MKs blame them for "incitement":
Tibi... denounced the killing of Shehade's wife and daughter during the assassination. "Why is it all right to kill Shehade's wife, but not someone else's?" he asked.

Deputy Education Minister Zvi Hendel (National Union)
[which backs "transfer" of Arabs from Palestine] asked the former Arafat adviser, "How are you not ashamed to defend these murderers?"

Likud MK Gideon Ezra demanded that Tibi be removed from the speaker's rostrum, and Nissim Zeev of Shas said "it will take an Apache [attack helicopter] to get him down."
Haha...stop it, you're killing me. Maybe this guy can team up with that other asshole, the Conservative-Female-Commentator-Who-Cannot-Be-Named, who likes these kinds of "jokes".
Less than an hour later, Hadash MK Mohammed Barakeh ruffled the feathers of his parliamentary colleagues by praising Israelis who refuse to serve in the Israel Defense Forces for ideological reasons.

Barakeh commended the "exceptional courage of these young men, their honesty and integrity, the clarity of their thought. In the darkness that envelopes our lives, the shadow of [Prime Minister Ariel] Sharon's reign of occupation, the refuseniks bring light."

Hendel... described Barakeh's comments as "incitement and sedition"...
Those people inciting others to not kill really are a big problem in that part of the world.

Another for the Iraq nepotism file

Looks like the Department of Defense has awarded the contract to rebuild Iraq's army to Northrop-Grumman. The contract is worth $48 million for one year, but as we've seen with Halliburton, time and cost estimates mean nothing. Supposedly, 5 companies bid for the project, but the Defense Department did not name these "other companies".

Paul Wolfowitz, as the deputy secretary of defense, works for the Department of Defense.

Paul Wolfowitz is a consultant for Norththrop Grumman.

The Department of Defense awarded the contract to Northrop-Grumman.

Has there been an award that wasn't blatant nepotism? Isn't it funny that companies with direct ties to the Bush administration keep winning these contracts?


Frustrated? Reality got you down? You're in "good" company.

People keep asking these frustrating questions talkin bout where are the weapons of mass nukyoolar destruction, is the war really over, and do you even realize the country's in such deep shit.

People keep asking these frustrating questions talkin bout this CIA report I signed off on. I'm confident, er, that we can convince at least a few Iraqis to corroborate our fabrications.

People keep asking these frustrating questions talkin bout fix the economy. Economy, who? That aint my job.


ALERT ALERT. Run to the hills. Stock up on Bottled Water and Duct Tape!

An Iraqi scientist is turning over a centrifuge to the Americans. A FUCKING centrifuge!!! Perhaps even a FUCKING MOBILE CENTRIFUGE. But I dont know if its mobile or not, as this is all the info I have, from CNN, where its a BREAKING FUCKING NEWS REPORT ALERT WHATEVER. Gotta get this out far and wide, before its too late (or before the French Media underground debunks it).

Focus. Breathe... This is so obviously unprecendented. Not only have they found an Iraqi scientist, but one with a centrifuge. A spinny thing. I fear a nuclear attack (or worse!) by "The Return" (Iraqi resistance group, not the movie) is imminent.

Here's the story, if you care. Dude buried this thing 12 years ago in a barrel. Its his ticket to a new life in the US. The whole thing is super sketch, expect more "miracle" finds like this as the fabricators at the DOD and CIA get desparate. The UK's Cook still has it right.

Wolff: TV networks "kissed ass"

In return for the quid pro quo of relaxed media ownership rules, according to New Yok magazine columnist Michael Wolff. Wolff accused US journalism in general of a willful ignorance about this fact:
"Ass kissing has gone on to a profound degree. It's pervasive throughout all these news organisations. They need the FCC to behave in certain ways. In order to do this we have got to go along to get along," said Wolff, who delivered the keynote speech at today's MediaGuardian forum on war coverage.

He added the FCC's decision to relax media ownership rules came shortly after the end of the war.

"Any reporter in America who would see that quid pro quo in any other business says: 'No, that doesn't happen in the news business'," Wolff added.
Whoa, hold on there, Wolff - better leave connecting the dots to people like Bush and his apologist Pat Roberts.

Meanwhile, this column in the Guardian is worth taking a glance at. Nothing earth-shaking - another liberal who has become increasingly disillusioned with "the system" following the thorough trampling administered to democracy by Blair and Bush - but it is well-written and has some good one-liners:
If, as Stanley Kubrick claimed, large states often behave like gangsters while small states often behave like prostitutes, then we [the British] may at least console ourselves that we have descended to a point where we are more whore than racketeer.

Lacking the gun, we are to be only the mouth. The deal is this: America provides the firepower; we provide the bullshit.

...you can feel, as our rulers reach for the barbecue forks and the Chardonnay, as they gather forgivingly again for their frotteurs' trade union meetings in Evian - "How lovely to see you, Mr Bush"; "No, how lovely to see you" - a growing confidence that although something utterly dishonourable happened in public life earlier this year, there is no reason that, like all dishonourable things, it should not soon be forgotten.

Karzai frees journalists

But they are still going to have to stand trial for "blasphemy" - a capital crime in Afghanistan. Karzai explained that his job included "protecting" the beliefs of the people of Afghanistan.

1,000 Palestinian prisoners in extended detention without trial

An article on the state of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails indicates that nearly 6,000 Palestinians are being held prisoner. About 1,000 are being held under laws which allow "extended detention" without trial.

Yes, these "democracies" and their increasingly common habit of holding foreign nationals - or in the case of Palestinians, foreign non-nationals - in prisons with little or no possibility of trials or ever being free again. Who wouldn't believe in "the system"?

Frustration sets in

This just in! Economy to begin improving at a "later date". As opposed to now, I guess. Its all part of the plan. It demonstrates what America is hated for... her can-do spirit, her never-give-in(formation) attitude. Bush must be taking his cues on Iraq strategy from this Greenspan fellow.

While you wait for this house of cards to collapse, read this 'sexed-up' WMD report, also known as Greenspan's biography. It's called "Maestro". And its selling like, well, like hotcakes, or uh, other such US durable goods.

What if Greenspan is really a Sadaam Fedayeen Iraqi wearing some freaky old-white-dude mask? He'd get away with it too, if it wasn't for those pesky kids!

Israeli assassination attempt kills 2 Palestinian civilians

Two Palestinians were killed in Gaza when an Israeli helicopter fired missiles at a Hamas member. That percentage just keeps going up.

The assassination attempt, incidentally, happened right as reports of a Hamas-Jihad-Fateh ceasefire started coming out. Surely a coincidence in timing. Hamas sopkespersons later said that no official ceasefire had been reached.

Bush, for his part, more or less rejected the reported cessation of violence by militant groups:
"I'll believe it when I see it, knowing the history of terrorists in the Middle East".
He does have a point there. The history of earlier terrorist groups in the Middle East - like the Stern Gang and Irgun - indicate that their violence may not even end with the establishment of a state, much less a puny ceasefire.


From the "what is wrong with this picture" dept.

Iraqis dont have enough water
Iraqis dont have enough food
Iraqis dont have enough electricity
Iraqis dont have enough jobs
CNN reports: Iraqis are buying sattelite dishes

Jailtime - no better way to win hearts and minds

AFP photo

Caption reads: A US soldier leads arrested 17-year-old student Khaled Salim with his hands tied behind his back towards a waiting army truck in the southern Baghdad suburb of Dura. Salim was arrested on his way to school, as a warning to others after he insulted US troops.

Yep, there's nothing like freedom of speech, as young Master Salim is finding out. It must be that kind of "freedom of speech" that the Bush administration is fond of: it's perfectly fine, as long as no one has to hear it.

(Freedom of speech hat tip to Tresy at Eschaton.)

Dead men tell no tales

Hesiod has a miniature roundup of the recent US airstrikes against a convoy either in northwest Iraq or eastern Syria. Apparently, the US blew up a smuggler convoy, instead of one carrying the deposed Iraqi tyrant.

By now, it should be clear that the US is not going to take Saddam Hussein alive under any circumstances. Bush will make sure that the US army kills Saddam with extreme prejudice. The BBC report indicated that land-based special forces were involved in the operation. But nevertheless, part of the convoy was blown to bits, so that only DNA testing will be able to ascertain the identity of the victims. The "decapitation" strike on the first day of the war and the bombing of a crowded downtown restaurant in Baghdad were other efforts illustrating the US's policy to kill, not to capture.

Again, this is for the reason that if the US captures Saddam, it will be obligated to put him on trial in public. The administration wouldn't be able to just shove him off to the concentration camp at "Gitmo" with the rest of its enemy combatants. It would be very embarrassing for Bush - especially during an election year - to have Saddam telling the whole world about Daddy's support back in the good old days, not to mention all the other American hi-jinx in the Middle East that would certainly come to light during such a trial.

So don't expect to see Saddam turning up in the near future - at least not with the ability to talk.

Jack Straw: Passing the buck and insulting intelligence

So now Jack Straw is saying that he never read the "dodgy dossier", which was commissioned by Alastair Campbell, Blair's communications director.

Right, let's get this straight...the foreign secretary of Britain, a country that was getting ready to launch unprovoked aggression against another country, did not read a government statement broadcast to the whole world making the case for the need to attack that country?

As an encore to this statement - which is really saying something - Straw said that British intelligence officials had not even checked the "dodgy dossier".

Ok, we have reached a point where, even if we assume that Bush, Rice, Blair, Straw and the rest of the clowns were honest - or even reasonably honest - they need to be gotten rid of for sheer incompetence. But as is becoming clearer and clearer, we don't need to assume any such thing. They were lying, and now the story is falling apart.

Expect real action against Bush to pick up once the British get rid of Blair.

Brits take a turn in the hot seat, and boy, is it hot!

Looks like the resistance is spreading. This mainstream CNN report goes over a litany of the latest attacks. 6 Brits dead, a bunch more wounded. You gotta wonder who the Americans are "learning their lessons" from?

This is Occupation 101, folks, hosted by Professor Britain. The sun set on his English Empire, but not before he got tenure at the University of Hard Knox (in Texas). Week one's reading includes "Thrifty Spending" and "Maintaining an Impressive Military Machine at the Expense of a Hostile Indigenous Populace." The midterm will cover "Offering No Real Security" and "Convincing People that Your Program Offers Real Security". Course is co-taught with Professor Israel.

In other news, the theatre department is putting on a new play. Following on the heels of the successful "Saving Private Lynch" the freedom players anticipate a great turnout for Collecting Iraqi Weapons. I hear the props are really convincing. Beats putting on a production of "Collecting unexploded Cluster Bombs," I guess. Those things can hurt you.

IAF chief: Innocent Palestinians killed in 30% of assassination attempts

It's probably a safe guess that the actual percentage of assassination attempts in which innocent people are killed is higher than 30%. That's percentage of total assassination attempts killing innocents, not the percentage of innocent civilians killed of all people killed in assassinations. The figure would certainly be much higher in that case, as demonstrated by the instance in which 13 people were killed when the Israeli army dropped a 1-ton bomb on a Gaza apartment building to kill 1 Hamas member - an operation Sharon termed a "great success".

But remember, there musn't be any discussions that might lead one to draw "moral equivalencies" between, say, bombing a crowded city bus and bombing a crowded city apartment.

Since none of the accused are ever put on trial - even though in most cases they could have been taken alive if the Israeli army had wished - there's really no way to tell innocent from guilty. But why bring up garbage like that? Not even the US believes in "innocent until proven guilty" anymore.

In other news, settlers have established a new "outpost" in the West Bank, named Ariel. They know the hand that feeds.

Moronic DA Coleman prepares to tender his resignation

The Alameda County DA is charging protesters who shut down the port on April 7th to protest the shipping companies' involvement war in Iraq. He is doing this to cover the ass of the police who unleashed "less than lethal" weapons on protesters with no provocation.

This is a direct quote from the article:
"There are many people in many walks of life who may have disagreed with the war," Coleman said. "There are a lot of other ways of civil disobedience that don't violate the law."
And for his next trick, the mighty Coleman will demonstrate that "there are a lot of other ways to be District Attorney that dont involve prosecuting crimes". After the defense lawyers finish roasting this guy on a spit, the moron is not going to have a job. Hopefully he can figure out some "other way of" feeding himself.

"Success" story Afghanistan and press freedom

Apparently in liberated Afghanistan, hardline religious fundamentalists can order the arrest of journalists with the approval of the "democratic" president, Karzai.

Yep, nothing to worry about in Iraq. With such a solid "liberation" under its belt in Afghanistan, Iraq seems headed for some very bright times. Yes sir, indeed.


Iraq: the 5-year plan

A number of senators on a "fact-finding" mission to Iraq are now saying the US could be there for 5 years.

Meanwhile, Iraqi officials report another pipeline explosion near Syria, which US officials were apparently unaware of.

It might be a long 5 years.

In other news, former Iraqi soldiers, who were offering the Americans the choice of guns or butter, are going to paid after all. But are Bremer and the rest of the administrators over there sure they won't use that government hand-out check to buy crack - or more and better weapons?

Bush the scientist condemns Europeans over GM food

Bush has condemned Europeans for refusing to accept bio-engineered foods and said that the policy was contributing to famine in Africa.
"For the sake of a continent threatened by famine, I urge the European governments to end their opposition to biotechnology. We should encourage the spread of safe, effective biotechnology to win the fight against global hunger," Bush said.
And to win the fight against that $300 million being lost per year by American farmers because the Europeans don't want GM foods.

Not surprisingly, Bush didn't really go into how Europeans not eating GM corn is causing people in Africa to starve, except to say that African countries were not investing in bio-technology because they were afraid that the Europeans would then shut their crops out of the market, too.

Not surpsingly, Bush did not explain why a country with a starving population would be exporting large amounts of crops to Europeans, who are generally well-fed.

Bush might be more convincing if he came up with those bio-weapons, before training his sights on bio-crops.

Here's a good one

Bremer insists security is his 'first priority,' blaming continuing political violence and acts of sabotage on 'a very small minority still trying to fight us' that is loyal to Saddam.

Perhaps he means small as in, 'the 12 year old girl who attacked a convoy with an AK-47 is small', and perhaps he means minority in the sense that 'as subjects of a colony of the US, Iraqis comprise a a minority population'.

As usual, the "liberal" media has to break the story first! A small minority may be shooting up the Americans, but as reported in the Independent (among other media outlets), "attacks on American troops are still sporadic and not organised centrally, but when one American soldier was shot dead and another wounded by gunmen in a passing car near al-Doura power station, passers-by unanimously said they approved of the attack". In other words, the resisters have widespread popular support in the areas they operate in, and that is what matters to keep the activity sustainable.


Another US soldier killed

A US soldier was killed in a grenade attack south of Baghdad.

Another mysterious Iraq oil pipeline explosion

Another mystery explosion has hit an oil pipeline in Iraq, this time northwest of Baghdad.

No word on whether technical problems or "Saddam loyalists" - the only two causes for everything bad that happens in Iraq - was responsible.

UPDATE: Iraqi officials blame "sabotage" for the explosion.

US "unprepared" for Iraq occupation; more on Iraq WMDs and "lies"

US general William Nash has accused the Bush regime of failing to prepare for the reality of occupying Iraq:
"It is an endeavour which was not understood by the administration to begin with," he said.

In one of the most outspoken critiques from a man of his standing, Nash said the US had 'failed to understand the mindset and attitudes of the Iraqi people and the depth of hostility towards the US in much of the country'.

"It is much greater and deeper than just the consequences of war,' he added. 'It comes from 12 years of sanctions, Israel and Palestinians, and a host of issues."

"In the entire region - and Iraq is typical - there is a sense that America can do whatever it wants. So that if America decides to protect the oilfields and oil ministry, it can.

"And if America doesn't provide electricity and water or fails to protect medical supplies, it is because they don't want to or they don't care."
Speaking of not providing vital services and having priorities backwards: some Iraqis are complaining that US administrators, living in air-conditioned comfort, are out of touch with the situation of the "man on the street":
Asked about Baghdad's lack of electricity at an air-conditioned press conference, Paul Bremer, the American head of the occupation authority, looking cool in a dark suit and quiet purple tie, simply asserted that, with a few exceptions, Baghdad was now receiving 20 hours of electricity a day. "It simply isn't true," said one Iraqi, shaking his head in disbelief after listening to Mr Bremer. "Everybody in Baghdad knows it."
Well, the mainstream media reported all of the Bush administration's lies with a straight face - so why shouldn't they do the same when Bush's hatchet boy in Iraq says everything is just fine?
Even the few Iraqis who have joined the Coalition Provisional Authority under Mr Bremer - which operates out of Saddam Hussein's heavily fortified Republican Palace in the centre of the capital - describe the American officials administering Iraq as "living in an air-conditioned fantasy world".

At a meeting on Thursday between Mr Bremer and some 60 Iraqi political leaders, formerly the opposition to Saddam, Mahmoud Othman, a highly respected veteran Kurdish politician, bluntly suggested that the American army pull out of Baghdad and other Iraqi cities to camps in the countryside.

"I told Bremer that Baghdad was a paralysed city," said Mr Othman. "He and his staff don't really know what it is like, because if they go out at all, it is in air-conditioned cars. But I've walked the streets, and I know what it is like. They are ill-informed and ill-advised."
Blix now says that if Iraq has anything related to WMD at all, it will be simply "debris" from older programs.

Meanwhile, the WaPo reports - about 7 or 8 months after leftists and other "conspiracy theorists" had already said it - that Bush and his cronies were "highly selective" with the information they released about Iraq, "Qaeda", and WMD.
A still-classified national intelligence report circulating within the Bush administration at the time [last October, when Bush made a speech definitively outlining "evidence" pointing towards Iraq-Qaeda links], however, portrayed a far less clear picture about the link between Iraq and al Qaeda than the one presented by the president, according to U.S. intelligence analysts and congressional sources who have read the report.

The handling of intelligence on Iraq's banned weapons programs and its links to al Qaeda has come under increased scrutiny on Capitol Hill, with some leading Democrats charging that the administration exaggerated the case against Hussein by publicizing intelligence that supported its policy and keeping contradictory information under wraps.

While Bush also spoke of Iraq and al Qaeda having had "high-level contacts that go back a decade," the president did not say -- as the classified intelligence report asserted -- that the contacts occurred in the early 1990s, when Osama bin Laden, the al Qaeda leader, was living in Sudan and his organization was in its infancy. At the time, the report said, bin Laden and Hussein were united primarily by their common hostility to the Saudi Arabian monarchy, according to sources. Bush also did not refer to the report's conclusion that those early contacts had not led to any known continuing high-level relationships between the Iraqi government and al Qaeda, the sources said.
And so forth. The article offers many other examples of the Bush administration making clear, unambiguous, and definitive statements about what Iraq did have and what it could do.

Now, for those of you still uncertain as to whether Bush lied or not, let me lay it out in very clear, basic terms. Dictionary.com, using as its source the American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition, defines the noun "lie" as:

Bush and his cronies presented their knowledge as absolute, without the possibility of error; their statements were always preceded by "we know...", or something similar. But, now it is clear that they didn't "know", and that they knew that they didn't "know" at the time. Therefore, they were making deliberately making false statements which they presented as being true; they also gave Americans the wrong impression about Iraq's WMD capability. This is underscored by Bush's current statements like the US will determine the "true extent of Saddam Hussein's weapons programs, no matter how long it takes." Before the war, Bush, Rice, Rumsfeld, Cheney and others "knew" the extent of Iraq's WMD program - hell, several times they laid it out down to the liter or the kilogram. Now they are saying that they didn't "know" the extent of Iraq's WMD program.

In other words, Bush lied. And not about something like whether he got a blow-job or not. It's time to get the impeachment proceedings started.

"Success" story Afghanistan world's #1 heroin producer again

With this kind of success in Afghanistan, why would anyone doubt what the Bush administration will make of Iraq?

Revolving door policy on settlements continues

Israeli settlers have established more than 10 new settlements in the West Bank over the past 2 weeks. Sharon also said in a cabinet meeting that Israel can continue its illegal colonization program in the Palestinian territories, but should not "celebrate" it.


Why wouldn't they love us?

Reuters photo

I wonder how many new "Saddam loyalists" will be generated by the types of raids being carried out in Iraq?

And maybe the Easter bunny stole those Iraqi WMDs

Now Bush is saying that WMD sites were "looted" before the collapse of the Saddam government:
"For more than a decade, Saddam Hussein went to great lengths to hide his weapons from the world. And in the regime's final days, documents and suspected weapons sites were looted and burned," Bush said in his weekly radio address.
People who supported this war on the basis of WMDs must be feeling like the world's biggest pricks for believing an asshole like Bush. Really - some "looters" finding weapons hidden so well for over a decade that UN inspectors and "the world" didn't know about them?

Bush also, for the millionth time, blamed "Saddam loyalists" - now aided by their "terrorist allies" - as being behind the attacks on US soldiers. How can anyone believe this garbage? For those people who do, I would kindly refer you to Mano Negra, who has a lovely and historic bridge that he must sell for tax purposes.

More on Orwell as the government stooge

Apparently Orwell gave a list of people he suspected as communists to the British government. I'm sure this will make Christopher Hitchens - Christopher Hitchens - very happy.

Powell talks with Israeli, Palestinian officials; another assassination in W. Bank

Here comes Dr. Powell, advising treatments for the symptoms instead of tackling the disease. Powell, if he had gone into medicine, would be one those doctors who like prescribing cough syrup to patients dying of pneumonia. Well, you have to give him some credit at least - he has incredible stamina as Bush's self-abasing messenger boy.

On another note, I did some historical research the other day, and you know what I found? That there was a "Palestinian/Arab-Israeli conflict" before there was a Hamas! I know it sounds crazy, but it's true! What's more, Israel directly supported Hamas in its early days to screw over Arafat and the PLO! Funny that - the more things change, the more they stay the same. Encouraged by these early results, I continued digging around. What else did I find? That there was a "Palestinian/Arab-Israeli conflict" before there was a Hizbollah, too! Incredible, really. The same goes for Saddam Hussein, the Ayatollah, and Osama bin Laden!

Anyone who thinks the US is "serious" about fixing the problems in the Middle East, and especially with some kind of bullshit plan with a preposterous name like "the road map" (what the fuck are "provisional borders" anyway, besides another way of saying bad fucking idea?), I would kindly refer you to Mano Negra, who has a very lovely and historic bridge to sell you.

Meanwhile, the Israeli army assassinated a "ticking bomb" who was about to enter a mosque. What does this mean? It is called extra-judicial execution carried out by a death squad. The Israeli army said they had tried (wink, wink) to arrest (wink, wink) the militant but ended up shooting him dead instead.

The Palestinians say they are ready to take over police duties from the Israelis in Gaza and Bethlehem. Where does that put us - at about 1994 in Oslo terms?

In the US, some pro-Israel groups have done their part to keep the conflict going and keep Israelis and Palestinians dying. Good for you!


Israeli army dismantles a few tents as part of "road map"

In the West Bank, the Israeli army began dismantling some tents at a "settlement", hours after a suicide bombing killed 2 in northern Israel. Hooray. You can just feel the energy returning to the "peace process". This "proves", I guess the White House will say, that Sharon is committed to the "road map" and that he really is a "man of peace".

Meanwhile, Meron Benvenisti, an ex-deputy mayor of Jerusalem, wrote a column in Ha'aretz consigning the "two-state solution" to the garbage bin of history. Essentially, according to Benvenisti, the "road map" aims at perpetuating the status quo, which is clearly unsustainable.
Seemingly, the principle of "two states for two peoples" and the principle of national sovereignty won. But, in effect, what's being proposed is a regime of ethnic cantons inside a geopolitical unit comparable to the old south Africa, in which the connection between land and nationalism is only safeguarded for the dominant Jewish nationality.

The outposts are not a political demonstration against the government and the checkpoints are not derived from the security reality. They are symbols of control, and between them, if there's room, a provisional Palestinian state is supposed to be established. There's no connection between that state and sovereign, national Palestinian territory. The prime minister declares, to the cheers of the left, that the occupation must be ended, but immediately announces that he meant the occupation of people, not territory. The people, cut off from the land, will win national liberation in cantons designated for them beyond the "separation fence," and their "territorial contiguity" will be accomplished with bridges and tunnels.

The road map won't lead anywhere because a solution based on the connection between territory and ethnic identity - which was applicable up to about 20 years ago - cannot be implemented and any attempt to implement it will only complicate the problem instead of solving it. The key is now to be found elsewhere; in an area that does not regard the geopolitical division as a national ideal. The road map will apparently be the last plan to refer to partition - or the need for a connection between identity and territory - as the only solution. Ignorant people on the right and blind people on the left will regard this as preaching for the "greater land of Israel" and will treat alternative proposals according to their traditional attitudes. But the only choice left is between a regime of a Jewish minority over an Arab majority without civil rights, or a multi-cultural governmental framework, usually referred to as a "binational state." The road map and the rest of the plans based on "separation" are simply dreams perpetuating the status quo.
In other news of interest, two British MPs, recently returned from Israel/Palestine, have compared the general situation in Gaza with that in the Warsaw ghetto. Their comparison was carefully qualified. MP Oona King said there is a
"very, very big difference" between Gaza and the infamous ghetto established by the Nazis in Poland's capital.

"Palestinians are not being rounded up and put in gas chambers," she said.

But the MP said: "What makes it similar is what happened to the Jewish people in that time which was the seizing of land, being forced from property, torture and bureaucracy - control used in a demeaning way over the smallest task.

"On top of that building a wall around them - and that is precisely what the Israeli government is doing. In doing so it is building a political ghetto. I don't think it can escape that conclusion."
The Israeli embassy responded by saying that such statements displayed "ignorance" and encouraged militant attacks.

Unocal may stand trial over Burma human rights violations

Thank god for San Francisco. According to the Independent, "a panel of federal appeals judges in San Francisco heard final arguments this week on whether Unocal should be made to stand trial" over human rights abuses related to its business policies in Burma.
When the Union Oil Company of California, or Unocal, started working on a gas pipeline project there, it con-tracted out security operations to the Burmese military regime ; and that was when the horror began.
Now, this is the same "Burmese military regime" that is supposedly causing Bush such anguish over its recent jailing of Aung San Suu Kyi. But what is the Bush regime's policy, in cases involving less famous victims of military junta brutality?
The prospect of an avalanche of suits against big corporations has so spooked the Bush administration - always a good friend to the oil industry - that last month the Justice Department filed a brief in the Unocal case denouncing the Alien Tort Act as "an obscure provision" and arguing its application posed a direct threat to, among other things, the war on terrorism.

The San Francisco appeals court has indicated it is less than impressed with this line of argument. The Justice Department was not allowed to participate in this week's oral arguments, and large corporations who wanted to file similar briefs were denied.
[emphasis added].
Hmm...it seems as if the administration doesn't care too much for the advice of Richard "Mr. Morality" Perle, who would like to teach banks and corporations a lesson about the "moral hazard" of dealing with a "vicious dictatorship". But these "lessons", it appear, are only aimed at the French and Germans.

US soldiers admit to firing indiscriminately at Iraqis

If two US soldiers are admitting it, how widespread is this?
...in an admission that directly contrasts with the line coming out from the Pentagon's spin doctors Specialist Corporal Michael Richardson added: "There was no dilemma when it came to shooting people who were not in uniform, I just pulled the trigger.

Describing the scene during combat Richardson admitted shooting injured soldiers and leaving them to die.

He said: "S***, I didn't help any of them. I wouldn't help the f******. There were some you let die. And there were some you double-tapped."
What is generating such inexcusable behavior, at least in this instance?
...despite there being no link between Iraq and the September 11 attacks Richardson admitted that it gave him his motivation to fight Iraqis.

"There's a picture of the World Trade Centre hanging up by my bed and I keep one in my flak jacket. Every time I feel sorry for these people I look at that. I think, 'They hit us at home and, now, it's our turn.' I don't want to say payback but, you know, it's pretty much payback."
This type of ignorance and racism is being fuelled by the Bush administration, which has done everything in its power to advance a link between Iraq and 9-11 that doesn't exist.

But if the Bush regime is simply fuelling this hatred, what is its source? Just go to your local video store or movie theater for a partial answer.

I supppose that this might give weight to a Human Rights Watch request for an investigation into charges that US soldiers fired indiscriminately into a crowd at Al Falluja in April, killing 17 and wounding over 70. But, if the families of soldiers from close allies like Canada can't get justice when the US military kills innocent people, what chance do a bunch of Iraqis have?

The Pentagon likes to keep saying that the military wants to "win hearts and minds", which so far has translated to handing out footballs ("soccer" balls, for you fellow, non-football-watching Yanks) and candy bars to Iraqi kids. But it is taking pointers from its Israeli allies, whose methods are not exactly derived from a glowing, beneficial appreciation of the native population. With more and more deadly shootings of innocent Iraqis in non-combat situations, the close US-Israel cooperation, especially in military affairs, will increasingly be noted.

But only by people who just don't understand that "they" hate us for our freedom.

(Mirror link via Bob at This Modern World.

Economy of the Euphemism.

Full employment is when unemployment is at 5%. Telling, ain't it?

Hell hath no fury like the mediocre artist

The news about Orrin Hatch dreaming of destroying the computers of people "illegally" downloading music from the internet is big news in blog-o-land. But did you know that Hatch is also an "artist"?
The senator earned $18,000 (£10,700) last year in songwriting royalties. Among the nine CDs available on his music website are America United, Heal Our Land and How His Glory Shines.
"How His Glory Shines"? Hahahahahahahaha. Right - you can tell that Hatch is a "real" Christian. "Do unto others", "Jesus beating the moneychangers", "The feeding of the 5,000" - never mind that garbage, according to Hatch, when lowlifes are on the loose.

The Recording Industry Association of America, not really known for its intellectual power, came up with a truly absurd explanation of Hatch's suggestion. According to a spokesperson, the Utah senator was
"apparently making a metaphorical point that if peer-to-peer networks don't take reasonable steps to prevent massive copyright infringement on the systems they create, Congress may be forced to consider stronger measures".
Maybe this guy was one of that "literary class" Gingrich was talking about.

Will someone PLEASE tell the Iraqis that the war is over?

Maybe they didn't understand Bush when he said, in PLAIN ENGLISH, "Major combat operations in Iraq have ended. In the battle of Iraq, the United States and our allies have prevailed." Maybe its because they don't understand English, or maybe they just hate the soldiers because they're free.

So another US soldier is dead and a mortar attack hit a US Office, killing one Iraqi and injuring others. This, in addition to several other attacks on US installations, equipment, and personnel. It's getting downright dangerous to hang out with your newfound American pals, trying to learn their strange "free and democratic" ways. But don't worry, Iraqi friends! If you can't make time for the US, the US will make time for you. How does ten years sound?


Some resources on Iraq's cultural heritage

For those interested, here are two very good sites on the state of Iraq's cultural heritage (e.g., archaeology, artifacts, books).

  • Mesopotamian archaeologist Francis Deblauwe' page.
  • The Iraq page of the Oriental Institute at the University of Chicago.

    The Warka (Uruk) vase, reported returned earlier this week, is missing large chunks from its base and, importantly, from the upper register near the rim. A picture of what was returned can be found here.

  • This is what democracy looks like

    48 postwar deaths with this ambush. Q. How long will American's keep dying in Iraq? A. As long as it takes. As long as it takes for Iraqis to appreciate their newly delivered democracy. Maybe this picture will help get the point across.

    Also, from the are-the-soldiers-catching-on-yet department: "Little kids wave at us and their parents slap them in the back of the head and make them stop," said Spc. Anthony Combs of Hyden, Ky. "It makes me feel like I wasted my time over here and they don't appreciate what we did."

    On the home front

    The fifth column is stirring... Riots break out in michigan over police-state violence.

    More on the Iraq Museum and looting

    The Guardian has a column by Eleanor Robson, council member of the British School of Archaeology in Iraq, on the looting at the Iraq Museum. Evaluations carried out with the benefit of hindsight confirm that the damage is extraordinarily severe. There are also some answers to outstanding questions:
    While senior Iraqi officials were begging for help in Baghdad, the US Civil Affairs Brigade in Kuwait was also trying from April 12 to get the museum protected. They already knew that its most valuable holdings were in vaults of the recently bombed Central Bank. The museum was secured on April 16, but it took until April 21 for Civil Affairs to arrive.

    Captain William Sumner wrote to me that day: "It seems that most of the museum's artefacts had been moved to other locations, but the ones that were looted were 'staged' at an area so that they would be easier to access. It was a very professional action. The spare looting you saw on the news were the excess people who came in to pick over what was left." In other words, there was no cover-up: the military were informed immediately that the evacuation procedures had been effective.

    Inventories of the badly vandalised storerooms finally began after the catalogues were pieced together from the debris of the ransacked offices. Dr John Russell, an expert in looted Iraqi antiqui ties, made a room-by-room report for Unesco late in May. He noted that most of the objects that had been returned since the looting "were forgeries and reproductions". Other losses, he reported, included some 2,000 finds from last season's excavations at sites in central Iraq. His summary tallied well with George's. "Some 30 major pieces from exhibition galleries. Unknown thousands of excavated objects from storage. Major works from galleries smashed or damaged." The unknown thousands are beginning to be quantified. Expert assessors in Vienna last week estimated the losses from the museum storerooms at between 6,000 and 10,000.

    Outside the Iraq Museum, the picture is equally grim. At Baghdad University, classrooms, laboratories and offices have been vandalised, and equipment and furniture stolen or destroyed. Student libraries have been emptied. Nabil al-Tikriti of the University of Chicago reported in May that the Ministry of Endowments and Religious Affairs lost 600-700 manuscripts in a malicious fire and more than 1,000 were stolen. The House of Wisdom and the Iraqi Academy of Sciences were also looted. The National Library was burned to the ground and most of its 12 million books are assumed to have been incinerated.

    In the galleries of Mosul Museum, cuneiform tablets were stolen and smashed. The ancient cities of Nineveh, Nimrud, and Hatra lost major sculpture to looting. The situation is far worse in the south. Some 15-20 large archaeological sites, mostly ancient Sumerian cities, were comprehensively pillaged by armed gangs.
    Meaning that Iraq, and the world, has suffered a major cultural blow. Meaning that the initial reports were not far off the money in the scale of devastation, if exaggerated in terms of the precise number of artifacts looted/destroyed. Artifacts may continue to trickle back in, but damage done to archaeological sites is permanent - it can't be undone.

    The people who thought that this was some kind of media "hoax" or an example of media "bias" need to have a good kick in the ass. It is incredible to see "intellectuals" dismissing what has happened to the cultural history of Iraq. But they've made their case, I suppose - you can't trust the media when it reports something that doesn't reflect well upon the US. Whatever else happens is besides the point.

    MI5: WMD attack a "matter of time"

    Thank god we're "winning" the "war on terror". It's hard to imagine what life would be like if we were "losing" it:
    Eliza Manningham-Buller, the director general of the Security Service, said "renegade scientists" - understood to be from Pakistan - had given Islamic extremists information to create weapons of mass destruction, such as "dirty bombs", and that they would become ever more sophisticated.

    "It is only a matter of time before a crude version of a CBRN is launched on a Western city, and it is only a matter of time before the crude version becomes more sophisticated."
    She did say, however, that conventional attacks were still by far the most likely.

    Republicans not worried over Iraq WMD claims: NY Times

    The NY Times reports that the Republicans are not worried over the lack of evidence so far to support the Bush regime's fearful pre-war claims. Nevertheless, they are moving to prevent any kind of "partisan" or "political" inquiry into the matter.

    As usual, the hypocrisy and obfuscation of the Republicans is incredible:
    "We see a very similar pattern to the commentary around the military campaigns in Afghanistan and Iraq - the premature drawing of conclusions, based on a picture that is still incomplete," Dan Bartlett, Mr. Bush's director for communications, said today. "Americans are patient. They are willing to wait and see what we find."
    Of course, this kind of "wait-and-see" attitude on whether the weapons are there are not won't prevent Bush from taking credit as the "liberator president" in time for the next election - before we "wait and see" whether Iraq is going to blow up in the Americans' faces, or the go the way that Afghanistan is going.

    The Republicans' number one hypocrite - no mean feat - comes out to have his say:
    "The literary class that dislikes Bush and dislikes American activism is thrilled, whether in Europe or in the U.S., to have this question to raise," [Newt Gingrich] said. "But in the United States at least, given the mass graves, given the level of torture and brutality by the Baath Party regime, you're asking the American people to side with the apologists for replacing Saddam. Does even the most left-wing Democrat want to defend the proposition that the world would be better off with Saddam in power?"
    Literary class? Does he think that a jacquerie of English professors and Jean-Paul Sartre readers leading this campaign? Or did Gingrich mean "literate" class?

    Nevertheless, I fear that Gingrich may turn out to be right on this one. In order to really make this an issue - and to defeat what Gingrich has correctly laid out as the Bush regime line of defence, the "defending the Saddam administration" argument - the Democrats are going to have to adopt the left/"liberal" approach and refer to history. They will have to point out that Republican administrations were the ones that made the "mass graves" possible, that Reagan - assisted by his errand-boy Rumsfeld - was the one who reestablished relations with Saddam while he was gassing Iranian soldiers by the thousands, that Bush I did nothing while Saddam was dropping chemical weapons on the Kurds. They will need to do this in addition to forcing an investigation into the pre-war intelligence and how it was used. In other countries besides America, the "international legitimacy"/UN argument would also be a powerful counterargument. But the Democrats have done their part in seeing respect for this eroded in the US, and now it is too late to really make a case that relies even in part on this.

    Unfortunately, I do not think a serious challenge to the Bush administration over the Iraq WMD will be made. While the Democrats will probably get some kind of hearings or inquiries, the Republicans will be able to parry the charges with the argument that Gingrich laid out. In addition, they will use delaying techniques and procedures, and especially "national security considerations", to keep throwing up roadblocks to a real inquiry. In the end, that will win the day. The Democracts will refrain from using history - practicing "revisionist history", in a real, social scientific sense - to make a winning case for Americans because they will think that it will be perceived as "attacking America". To a certain extent, this would be true - it will lay open at least one unsavory episode in the history of the US's foreign policy. But this would likely lead to many more historical examinations of how America has acted abroad, and such an exercise is dangerous - especially in a place like the Middle East. It would be "attacking America" by showing that the US has not always been this beacon of hope and all that is good in the world. The Democrats won't dare risk something like this in the contemporary US, and especially during an election year. So Bush will most likely, barring a really determined and timely attack by the Democrats, pull this off.

    The NY Times shows that it will do its part to prevent any kind of real investigation into the issue:
    The images of Iraqis toppling the statue of Mr. Hussein or welcoming allied troops have created a positive glow about the war in the minds of voters that has not been dimmed substantially by the failure so far to find any banned weapons, ["Republican pollsters and strategists"] said.
    Naturally, it wouldn't pay for the Times to rain on the Republicans' parade and point out that the statue was pulled down by American soldiers and that the accompanying rally was staged. Or to do any kind of real, "unpatriotic" reporting.

    Finally, here's a taste of what kind of "oversight" Americans will likely get:
    In the House, where Intelligence Committee members are examining about 10 volumes of material provided by the C.I.A., there has been less partisanship over the progress of the review. But Representative Porter J. Goss, Republican of Florida and the chairman of the panel, said his intent is only to judge the performance of the intelligence agencies, not the way any information might have been manipulated.

    "I'm not going into what the customer did with the intelligence," Mr. Goss said.
    Interesting...dodging the whole point of an investigation into the matter. No indication of how a Republican from Florida is going to be able to dermine whether the CIA did a "good job" or not. What are the standards? Did they dot all of their i's?

    Critics have to get the American public demanding answers and smelling blood. Bush lied, people died, put the patsy on trial.


    What, me worry?

    Blair at the house of Commons, "I've got it under control, ponce, so just BACK THE FUCK OFF! What are you, some kind of historical revisionist? And you, are you looking at ME? You want a piece of me?

    Could he be one of the 371?

    U.S. troops detain 371 in Iraqi raids as Sniper kills American soldier in Baghdad. From CNN refrains from asking the obvious question, but that doesn't stop the good folks at the BlackBox... If they could just detain ALL OF IRAQ this shit wouldn't happen . Just look at the picture. Do these Iraqi women look like they are about to bust a cap in the ass of these GIs? No. They are too busy being awestruck by the mad skills these soldiers are demonstrating. I wonder what chumpy is aiming at? He's got the pose down, that's for sure. Col. David Perkins of the 3rd Infantry has it right. The resistance fighters hate the occupation because it is bringing "change in the form of freedom and democracy". Which brings us back to the picture. Hot DAMN! Change in the form of freedom never looked so good! Democracy, that's on the way, and I'm sure it will look even better! More here. Compare this interview to the cincinatti report, when he didnt expect to be in charge.

    One house at a time

    Reuters photo

    The caption reads "Palestinian women view the debris of their house in [illegally annexed] east Jerusalem after it was demolished by the Israeli authorities because it was built without a permit June 17, 2003."

    "I've heard terrorism described as anything that is violent or has an economic impact... Terrorism isn't just bombs going off and killing people." - State of California Justice Department official, May 2003.

    Iraq WMD coverup roundup: Levin, Cook accuse governments of witholding information

    US Senator Carl Levin has accused the CIA of "discrepancies" between director Tenet's public statements on Iraqi WMD and classified information provided to UN officials.
    "Why did the CIA say that they had provided detailed information to the UN inspectors on all of the high and medium suspect sites with the UN, when they had not? Did the CIA act in this way in order not to undermine (the US president George W. Bush) administration policy? Was there another explanation for this?

    "Seeking those answers is important, and is one of the many reasons why there needs to be a bipartisan inquiry into the objectivity and credibility of US intelligence before the war and the use of such intelligence."
    Carl, good luck with your muckracking - or "historical revisionism", as Bush and Rice like to call it. And don't get on any private planes any time soon - especially not with Henry Waxman.

    Meanwhile, in jolly old England, Robin Cook has accused UK ministers of "not presenting the whole picture" prior to the war against Iraq. Cook was speaking at the opening session of a House of Commons inquiry.
    Mr Cook, an ex-foreign secretary, told the MPs he had "no doubt about the good faith of the prime minister", but said the "burning sincerity and conviction of those involved in exercise" was a "problem".

    This conviction had led to intelligence material being carefully selected to back up their case for war - rather than being used as a basis for assessing whether or not Saddam posed a threat, he said.
    Those true-believers, who think they know what's best for everyone, can really be hard-headed sometimes. The British are also having trouble getting an impartial inquiry together:
    A separate inquiry by Parliament's intelligence and security committee, which meets in private, is also going to look at Iraq's WMD.

    Mr Anderson
    [the Foreign Affairs committee chair] has already suggested the intelligence committee's findings would have a "credibility problem" because of its closeness to Mr Blair.
    Do they have "historical revisionism" in Britain? Cook, being British, might want to avoid riding trains until this whole affair is sorted out - especially with MP George Galloway.

    US soldier shot dead in Iraq

    A sniper killed a US soldier in Baghdad. The US occupational force has arrested nearly 400 people since the beginning of a new anti-guerilla campaign on Sunday. Tactics have included storming into houses of sleeping families in Baghdad, Tikrit, and Kirkuk.

    "Homeland Security" clears itself of wrongdoing in search for Texas lawmakers

    This is what happens when you don't have real public oversight and accountability:
    An internal investigation at the Department of Homeland Security has found no evidence that the department did anything wrong when it agreed to assist in the search for a group of Texas Democratic lawmakers who had fled the state in a partisan dispute, according to a report made public today.

    An edited transcript of the telephone call was also released today, and it shows that an employee of the state agency did not explain the circumstances of the search, saying only that there was a "problem" and that a plane bound for Texas from Oklahoma was missing with "state representatives in it."

    Representative Lloyd Doggett said the report "does not offer any reassurance that resources dedicated to the war on terrorism cannot be exploited for personal or political purposes — certainly, it does not fully answer repeated requests to let uncensored tapes and documents speak for themselves instead of providing self-serving conclusions."
    [emphasis added]
    One wonders how many scandals involving misue of federal facilities and deliberate lying the Bush regime will be involved in before this reign of error is over. One wonders if the American public will eventually get tired of having a bumbling "father-knows-best" insulting their intelligence.

    Money in politics roundup: House not as rich as Senate, disclosures reveal

    It turns out that Lugal was right: the Senate is the rich persons' club. Financial disclosures indicate, according to the NY Times, that many representatives' wealth puts them on a level with "successful middle managers". Meaning that instead of personal worths in the 7 or 8 figures, "representatives" tend only to be worth something in the 6 figures. I feel more represented already.

    A big surprise: the new dividend tax cut will benefit "dozens" of House members. The GOP is using the fact that two - 2 - Republicans have no dividend income to "prove" that self-interest had nothing to do with the move.

    Reuters reports that DeLay is getting contributions to help with his legal bills - from fellow lawmakers and energy, tobacco, and airline companies, some of the most heavily subsidized and/or protected industries in the US.
    Steve Weiss, a spokesman for the Center for Responsive Politics, which tracks political donations, said the many donations from other lawmakers was not surprising given Delay's powerful position and his own record as a generous donor to other candidates.

    "This is you slap my back, I'll slap yours," Weiss said.
    It would be nice to see DeLay have to rely on one of these court-appointed lawyers who fall alseep during trials or show up at the courthouse drunk.


    Bush parrots Rice on claim of "revisionism"

    Showing his customary wit and creativity, the president has parroted Condoleezza Rice's "revisionist" description of people asking for answers about Iraqi WMD, the administration's pre-war claims, and its use of "intelligence". Said the president:
    "Now there are some who would like to rewrite history; revisionist historians is what I like to call them," Bush said in a speech to New Jersey business leaders.

    Bush said, "This is for certain, Saddam Hussein is no longer a threat to the United States and our friends and allies."
    History being what the president says it is. And thank god the tyrant Saddam no longer can control those balloon-filling hydrogen death trailers. Just thinking about Saddam being able to use one of those to attack America and our "friends and allies" gives me the creeps.

    Iranian intellectuals urge ayatollah to renounce "god's representative" status

    A group of 250 Iranian intellectuals has published a statement urging Ayatollah Khamanei to accept the fact that he is not god's earthly representative and to renounce the status of "supreme leader".

    Right... maybe they could send a copy of that statement to America's version of the "supreme-leader-on-god's-mission".

    Israeli FM: Israel will reject ceasefire with Hamas

    Ha'aretz reports that Hamas, under pressure from the Egyptians and the Americans, has agreed to a ceasefire.

    UPDATE: Ha'aretz now reports that the Egyptian-sponsored talks with Hamas have broken down with no agreement. A meeting between Hmas and Abu Mazen has also been delayed.

    Meanwhile, Israel's FM Shalom said that the Israeli government would reject any ceasefire that the PA may reach with Hamas. In fact, nothing short of an all-out Palestinian civil war will pleaase Shalom:
    "If there is to be only a cease-fire, and they (militants) can freely move about, they can also build up their armed wings, and the moment they decide that the peace process should no longer continue, they could put this armed wing into practical operation," Shalom told Israel Radio.

    "Therefore, we cannot accept this," he declared, adding that if the sides wanted to prevent the peace process from becoming hostage to militant groups, "these extremist groups and their infrastructure must be broken up."
    What this means is that even if Hamas agrees to a ceasefire, all the Israeli government has to do is kill one or two Hamas members, then there is the full-on war that Sharon wants.

    Of course, in terms of a real solution, Shalom should follow his own advice and break up the "extremist" settlers groups in the West Bank and the infrastructure of their settlements.


    US Kills ~69 "Fighters" with no civilian casualties.

    Dateline, Wednesday. "Iraqi resistance" is "crushed". In other news, I have a bridge to sell you.

    Dateline, Friday. Iraqis still celebrating their liberation lit fireworks in honor of the American soldiers in Mosul. Or maybe those 8 or so remaining coward terrorist saddam loyalist al quaeda sympathizer folks, the "holdouts" that seem to be everywhere at once, even though there are only like 8 of them. And they only dare attack under cover of night (see picture).

    Dateline, Monday. More attacks. 4 US soldiers wounded. Everyone is making a big deal of the fact that there doesnt seem to be "central coordination" for these "sporadic attacks." They can't find any guerilla leaders to interview on CNN, so I guess its not going to worry the American public. Um, hello? Ever seen the movie "Red Dawn"? Its called generalized resistance. It means, in the long term, the occupying force is fucked.

    Bush will find those gophers

    (Reuters photo)

    "This crowd has gone deadly silent, a Cinderella story outta nowhere. Current patsy president and now about to become... the masters champion."

    More on the US anti-guerilla operation and indiscriminate use of force

    Patrick Cockburn of the Independent talks to Iraqi villagers caught up in the ongoing US anti-guerilla operation in central Iraq.

    Also, a new estimate shows higher civilian casualties in the city of Nasiriyah than originally thought.

    Reuters reports that a US base was attacked by mortar fire.

    Calls for multi-national police force in Palestine

    The UN and even some members of Congress are calling for NATO or multi-national troops to be sent into Palestine to keep the peace there.

    Meanwhile, the Independent reports that a poll published by a Hebrew daily has found that many Israelis believe that Sharon's attempted assassination of Rantissi was aimed at derailing the "road map":
    ...many Israelis are blaming their own Prime Minister, Ariel Sharon. A poll for the newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth last week found that 40 per cent of Israelis believed Mr Sharon had ordered Tuesday's failed assassination attempt on a senior Hamas leader, Abdel-Aziz Rantisi, as a deliberate ploy to delay the implementation of the roadmap.
    Talk about a "revolving door" policy: Peace Now reports that 5 new settlements have been set up in the West Bank since the Aqaba summit.

    UPDATE: The Asshole of the Week award goes to Senator Lugar, who wants to see American troops fighting against Hamas. Using American soldiers to serve as Israel's police force is a terrible idea. This will get US soldiers killed without solving the problem and further expose all Americans as targets. The "why do they all hate us" mantra of the "war on terror" is becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy. Lugar's suggestion is yet another indication that most American lawmakers have no fucking clue about the Middle East.

    Full of hot air: Iraqi "death" trailers really were for balloons

    A report has found that those frightful trailers in Iraq - which Bush pointed to, in view of the whole world, as "the" weapons of mass destruction - really were for use in filling artillery balloons with hydrogen.

    Q: What do Bush and Iraqi death trailers have in common?
    A: They're both full of hot air!! Hahaha.

    I'd continue laughing, but I keep remembering that this guy is president.

    House approves end of state-level class action suits

    It's funny how champions of "less government" and "local government" want to bring certain things under federal control. Like class-action lawsuits:
    The battle over the future of class actions, in which consumer and environmental groups face some of the Bush administration's most powerful financial backers, now goes to the Senate, where Republicans won a powerful majority during last winter's mid-term elections.

    Big firms and their lobbying groups in Washington - led by the insurance, energy and private health giants - have been pushing for years to achieve a shift away from state benches, to which judges are usually elected, to the politically appointed federal judiciary.
    Moved, in other words, to places full people who know what's best for America.


    Bush urges Americans to work for free

    Bush urged Americans to be more active and donate more of their time to volunteer activities that will allow the government to lighten its load.
    "Our nation is strengthened every time a citizen steps forward to serve a cause greater than self-interest," Bush said in his weekly radio address, coinciding with this year's Flag Day.

    Volunteer activities such as feeding the hungry, caring for elderly, or supporting fire, police or emergency medics helped "strengthen the bonds of community that unite all Americans," the current President Bush said.
    At least in the Soviet Union, you got free healthcare, housing, and education for doing for the state's work.

    France accuses US of "economic warfare"

    France's defense secretary has accused the US of conducting "economic warfare" against Europe.

    The US also boycotted a major air show in France.

    US soldiers accused of killing 5 civilians; escapee shot dead

    US soldiers have been accused of killing 5 civilians during the ongoing operation against Iraqi rebels.

    One prisoner was shot dead and 7 others wounded during an attempted escape from the now American-run Abu Ghreib prison - a location notorious for torture during the Saddam era - near Baghdad.

    Analysis of new FCC regulations and the American media

    Le Monde diplomatique has an interesting analysis on the state of the American media and the likely effects of the recent FCC move to deregulate the market. Long, but certainly worth reading in full. Some excerpts:
    In 1996 the US Congress granted broadcasting frequencies worth some $70bn (and a lot more now) at no cost to the recipients. Viacom, Disney and General Electric - owners of the CBS, ABC and NBC networks - were the main beneficiaries. Protesting against the gift, Senator John McCain, a Republican, said during the congressional debate: "There will be hardly any talk of this decision on radio or TV because the radio and TV networks are the ones directly affected." In fact, during the nine months that elapsed between the introduction of the legislation and its final approval, the three main news networks devoted just 19 minutes to the subject.

    Michael Powell keeps repeating "the market is my religion" - summing up the mindset of the administration, which has successfully merged religious fundamentalism and greed. Lack of political diversity hardly bothers Powell: "I'm not so sure that Disney and Murdoch's personal political interests are ever permitted by the board of directors or Wall Street to trump anything that would maximise value"... That "maximising value" may in itself be an ideological slant hardly seems to have crossed Powell's mind.

    What do conglomerates say? Companies such as News Corporation and Viacom protest that existing regulations deprive them of their first amendment rights to free speech.

    ...as Bernie Sanders has argued, "the essential problem with television is not just a rightwing bias, it is not even the transformation of politics and government into entertainment and sensationalism, the constant bombardment of advertising. It's that the most important issues facing the middle-class and working people are rarely discussed." He points out that despite the economic boom of the 1990s, the average US worker now works longer hours for lower wages than 30 years ago. This is rarely investigated on television. Workers in unions earn 30% more than non-union people doing the same work. There are many programmes about how to get rich by investing in the stock market, but never any specials on how to form a union. The US has the most unfair distribution of wealth and income in the industrialised world, but few programmes stress that the richest 1% own more wealth than the bottom 95%.
    People who criticize the idea that the press suffers from a "liberal" or, bog help us, a "left" bias are entirely correct. However, what they usually don't talk about so much is the effect this has on public "policy". By presenting "moderate" and even right-wing positions as overly "liberal" or "left", people like Limbaugh, Sullivan, and the rest of this gang make it possible for far-right, social Darwinistic types of legislation and policies to be adopted and seem "moderate" or just slightly to the right. That is the real danger of these authoritarian apologists.

    But it's nothing to get too bent out of shape over - remember, it's a free press here in America.

    Hobsbawm on America and empire

    The "Old Man" of Marxism, Eric Hobsbawm, has an excellent column in the Guardian on the US and the new empire its policies are creating.
    The British empire had a British, not a universal, purpose, although naturally its propagandists also found more altruistic motives. So the abolition of the slave trade was used to justify British naval power, as human rights today are often used to justify US military power. On the other hand the US, like revolutionary France and revolutionary Russia, is a great power based on a universalist revolution - and therefore on the belief that the rest of the world should follow its example, or even that it should help liberate the rest of the world. Few things are more dangerous than empires pursuing their own interest in the belief that they are doing humanity a favour.

    ...with the exception of its superiority in hi-tech weaponry, the US is relying on diminishing assets. Its economy forms a diminishing share of the global economy, vulnerable in the short as well as long term. The US empire is beyond competition on the military side. That does not mean that it will be absolutely decisive, just because it is decisive in localised wars.

    Domestically, the real danger for a country that aims at world control is militarisation. Internationally, the danger is the destabilising of the world. The Middle East is far more unstable now than it was five years ago. US policy weakens all the alternative arrangements, formal and informal, for keeping order. In Europe it has wrecked Nato - not much of a loss, but trying to turn it into a world military police force for the US is a travesty. It has deliberately sabotaged the EU, and also aims at ruining another of the great world achievements since 1945: prosperous democratic social welfare states. The crisis over the United Nations is less of a drama than it appears since the UN has never been able to do more than operate marginally because of its dependence on the security council and the US veto.
    Hobsbawm believes that in lieu of a major external restraining force (such as the Soviet Union) to unchecked US power, limits will have to be set by other countries and from the inside - i.e., by American citizens.

    Students now expected to pay more for college education

    Good news for college students: now you will be expected to be extra-good Americans by working more and taking out larger loans to pay for your college education. What could be more American than working harder for less in return and getting so deep in debt that you're virtually a slave to credit card companies?

    Programs designed to help the poorest college students will be especially affected:
    ...the changes should shave off a few hundred million dollars in grants to low-income students, known as the Pell Grant. With the faltering economy and the swelling popularity of college, the program has surpassed $11 billion a year. The new formula should constrain some of that growth, the department says, though it maintains that was never the intent of recalibrating it.

    Because the size of each Pell grant is tailored to a family's discretionary income, the formula changes will result in smaller awards for some of the 4.8 million recipients in the program. Other recipients will stop getting grants altogether, the department added, since their resources will be deemed that much higher, pushing them beyond the program's eligibility requirements.
    Some Democrats are reported to be making a tepid response to Bush's newest assault on the "creeping socialism" leftovers from the liberal era.

    Charges against SF protestors likely to be dropped

    Charges against over 2,000 protestors cited during the anti-war protests in San Francisco are likely to be dropped, thanks to a technicality.

    A wink, wink to SF prosecutor Hallinan on this one.

    Draft EU constitution finalized

    After 15 months of work, delegates have finalized a draft European Union constitution. Former French President Valery Giscard d'Estaing won praise across political spectrum for his role as chairman at the convention.

    The real test for the constitution will come in the fall when EU countries begin negotiating a new treaty. The Us will probably also attempt something in the meantime, relying on its anti-democratic fellow travellers Aznar in Spain and Berlusconi in Italy, the new and confused Eastern European EU members, and the ever faithful Blair in Britain.


    Dopey Al Greenspan

    fighting deflation now

    "We're far more unclear on the issue of deflation [than inflation], and as a consequence, we need a wider firebreak, in logging and forestry terms, because we know so little about it. So we lean over backwards to make certain that we contain deflationary forces," Greenspan said.

    fighting inflation then

    Greenspan: "Then we are like the boat heading towards the dock, and instead of turning so we don't go slamming into the dock, we go straight into the dock, and find out that we should have turned, at least partially, in order to come into, to create a triple metaphor, I guess, a soft landing."

    scary to think he could be less clear on deflation than he is on inflation. given that he had blown the soft landing before he even knew he was going to need one, what kind of odds do you want to put on this deflation-abating "firebreak".

    40% of Senators are millionaires
    CNN on the financial disclosure forms filed by members of the Senate.

    Remember, it's a "representative" democracy here in America.

    New Israeli attack in Gaza: 1 dead, 22 wounded
    AP reports that Israeli helicopters fired 2 missles at a car in Gaza, killing one person and wounding 22 others, including 7 children.

    Interview with Fisk
    AlterNet carries an interview with Fisk, who talks about the situation in Iraq and the "road map".
    ...Paul Bremer now asked the legal side of the coalition provisional authority to set up the machinery of Iraqi press censorship. In other words, Iraqi newspapers are going to be censored. Controlled I think is the official word they use, but that means censorship.

    You can come along and say, look, by all means criticize the Americans and put the boot in if you want to, but make sure you get it right. And if you also do that you have to look at your own society and what is wrong in it and how Saddam ever came about. He didn't just come about because America supported Saddam which my goodness they did. But Bremer is not interested in this. What Bremer wants to do is control, control the press, control the Imams, and it doesn't work.
    On the "road map":
    But when you're going to have a situation where you have an Israeli prime minister who doesn't want to end the settlements, who is indeed the creator of the settlements, and a Palestinian prime minister who can't stop the intifada and a U.S. president who is so gutless he can only call a killing of a woman and a child troubling, what chance is there for a road map or peace process or any other kind of agreement in the Middle East?
    (Link via Antiwar.com.)

    US soldiers kill 100 Iraqis in raids
    US special forces have killed 100 Iraqis in two operations against guerillas north of Baghdad. US soldiers also arrested 74 "suspected Al-Qaida sympathisers" near the northern city of Kirkuk.

    US threatens to boycott Belgium over war crimes law
    More Rumsfeld diplomacy: America's lovable "defense" secretary warned Belgium to drop its law allowing war crimes prosecution or face a US boycott of the NATO headquarters in Brussels.
    Mr Rumsfeld condemned "divisive politicised lawsuits" such as the one threatening General Tommy Franks, the commander of US forces in Iraq.
    Politics turns up in the darndest places, doesn't it?

    Analysis of the Rantissi assassination attempt and the road map
    Ha'aretz carries an interesting analysis of the failed assassination attempt and the "road map". Among other things, it points out that the Israeli leadership wished to make an "example" of Rantissi, even though he was not what the Israeli government calls a "ticking bomb". It also discusses the formulation of the "road map" and the understandings reached between the US and Israel that leave little room for Palestinian input other than a signature on the dotted line:
    The first draft of the road map was presented to Israel on October 14, 2002, after having been discussed with the U.S. in a more limited forum, and the second draft was submitted on December 20 (also after some secret meetings with a smaller group of Israeli officials). The exact wording of both drafts was not revealed to the ministers even after they were completed.

    The meetings of the inter-ministerial panel led to the 14 comments that Israel sought to insert into the final draft of the document. This objective was not achieved because of Tony Blair...
    This constraint prevented the inclusion of Israel's 14 comments, but the alternative procedure that was adopted - government approval of the road map with the 14 comments - was enough to satisfy Sharon. As he sees it, his government approved the Israeli version of the road map and the White House was quick to praise this development. It was no coincidence when, at Aqaba last week, Sharon announced: "We accept the road map as it was adopted by the government of Israel."
    Behind the public outline is a series of understandings with the American administration: A final status accord will require Israel to withdraw, but not to the 1967 lines; Israel will not be obliged to absorb a single Palestinian refugee; the currency, customs and telephone systems of the Palestinian state will be established in parallel with those systems in Israel. As far as the interim accord, Jerusalem and Washington agree that the Palestinian state will be demilitarized; that it will have a police force but not an army (the caliber of the weapons that its officers will carry has also been determined); that Israel will have control over the airspace and broadcast space of the Palestinian state and over its points of entry.
    In other words, the future Palestinian "state" will bear no resemblance to what is commonly understood by the word "state" in the English language. In reality, it will be much closer to a South African township or an American India reservation.

    Israel's supporters should ask themselves why the Palestinians would ever accept something like this. Why should they sign an agreement that will legally enshrine their inferior status? Why shouldn't they simply wait until they are the majority in Palestine and then demand "one person, one vote" elections?

    Meanwhile, the council of rabbis representing settlers in the West Bank issued a statement calling on "Arab countries to grant Palestinians in the territories 'the right of return to Arab lands,' and urged Israel to implement a biblical injunction against allowing non-Jews to settle in the Land of Israel."

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