One company that should be put out of business


Galloway declares war on "New Labour"

Anti-war MP George Galloway, recently expelled from the Labour Party on various charges related to his criticism of the Iraq invasion, has announced plans for a coalition to challenge Blair's "New Labour" in upcoming European parliament and Greater London Authority elections. His proposed coalition will support London Mayor "Red" Ken Livingstone.

From the Guardian column:
I said before he set out on the calamitous invasion of Iraq that it would be the political death of Tony Blair. His attack on the rights of MPs to speak freely and honestly is likely to be another nail in his prime ministerial coffin. "Blair out, Bush out": these will not only be the slogans around the country during a November to remember, the bonfire of their vanities. They may just be the political reality by the end of next year.
From his speech in London annoucning these plans:
The public is unaware, because it is convenient to some that they should not be aware, that I was condemning Saddam Hussein when he was backed by the anti-communist West in his homicidal war against Iran and using chemical weapons supplied by our Allies.

I met Saddam Hussein twice, the same number of times that Donald Rumsfeld met him.

The difference is that Rumsfeld met him to sell his regime guns and gas and to give them the maps necessary to target them while I met him to try and avert suffering sanctions and war.
All we can say is, good luck, George, on getting rid of that wanker Tony Blair.

Donald Luskin - stalker?

Some might call Donald Luskin a stalker. Others might prefer to integrate their description in his name, viz. Donald "Stalker Boy" Luskin, Donnie "Stalking" Luskin, Don "Stalk-a-rin-o" Luskin, Don "Stalky McStalkerson" Luskin, or something along these stalking lines.

Dictionary.com defines a "stalker" as "one who stalks"; for "to stalk" (transitive meaning), we get "2. To follow or observe (a person) persistently, especially out of obsession or derangement". So, a "stalker" can be defined as "one who follows or observes persistently, especially out of obsession or derangment". Given that Luskin cannot shut up about Paul Krugman, it seems perfectly reasonable to say that Luskin "observes (Krugman) persistently", i.e., Luskin stalks Krugman.

Now, it looks like Luskin is stalking someone else... and threatening to sue Atrios for allowing other people to use perfectly proper English on his blog.

In Luskin's case, it looks like "derangment" is certainly playing its part.


Let god sort them out

Trent Lott - all-around humanist:
"Honestly, it's a little tougher than I thought it was going to be," Lott said. In a sign of frustration, he offered an unorthodox military solution: "If we have to, we just mow the whole place down, see what happens. You're dealing with insane suicide bombers who are killing our people, and we need to be very aggressive in taking them out."
Promoting mass murder, on the other hand, is a perfectly sane thing to do apparently.

I wonder when The Hague will start doing house calls.

Besides Lott's plea for genocide, we also get the standard "opponents-of-the-war-are-terrorist-dupes" line, from Sen. Brownback:
"The opposition, the terrorist groups, the Baathists read our media and read our public opinion polls, and are trying to play to the country?s opinion," he said.

Brownback even said U.S. adversaries were using attacks to drive down support for Bush.

"Absolutely," he said. "No question in my mind. This is an international media. They know the importance of this."
You see... the only reason the "terrorists" are fighting in Iraq is to make Bush look bad and lose the election.

So... is Brownback saying that if Americans kick Bush out, the attacks will stop?

Iraq descending into chaos

The Iraqis have blown up a tank. This marks a step up in capabilities, as this represents the best in American armor. Also, more Americans are being killed in increasingly lethal attacks. This is going to continue like this for a while.

Things to watch for (next steps for the resistance/my predictions):

* higher profile assassination(s)
* spokespeople / political wing emergence (possibly requiring americans to be isolated to the point where they cannot carryout effective counter insurgency techniques)
* hostage takings of soft targets (or capture of occupation personnel)

not necessarily in any order.

Field commanders say mass "Syrian foreign fighter" infiltration not happening

What a surprise: US field commanders responsible for watching Iraq's border with Syria say that there is no evidence that significant numbers of guerillas are entering the country in that area.

Yet, the only "foreign fighters" we keep hearing about are "Syrians"... who, according to the US military spokespeople, seem to be the only guerillas in the history of the world who think it is a good idea to carry proper identification at all times and scream out their nationality to police shooting at them.

We also get this detail from the WaPo account:
In a deal brokered by Petraeus, Iraq now trades Syria 4,500 barrels of oil per day for 50 to 70 megawatts of electric generating capacity needed to provide power for Mosul, the largest city in northern Iraq, and the surrounding area.
Well, that's a good little story. A mutually beneficial trade agreement between Syria and Iraq, brokered by an American general - everyone benefits, and the US looks good by helping Mosul get back on its feet. A true tale of this progress that Bush likes talking about so much.

But, a little further, we see that someone is working to sabotage this progress in Iraq. Who could this anti-American traitor be?
Two weeks ago, Petraeus's decision to open the border and his support for the energy swap were criticized by Rep. Rahm Emanuel (D-Ill.), who said in a letter to Secretary of State Colin L. Powell that free trade with Syria violated the spirit of legislation, recently passed by the House, that would place sanctions on Syria for supporting Islamic militant groups.
Such legislation was designed solely to benefit Israel and may harm the US's "war on terror", as I pointed out in an earlier post.

Why is Rep. Emanuel putting foreign interests above American interests? Why does he hate American progress in Iraq so much? Let's hope that the voters of Illinois will remember how Rep. Emanuel "supported the troops" at the next election.

Juan Cole on pre-war Iraq intelligence debacle

Juan Cole has a must read post on the pre-war Iraq intelligence fiasco.

"Progress" in Iraq: Guerillas making great progress at becoming more deadly

Two US soldiers were killed when their Abrams battle tank was disabled by a mine or roadside bomb north of Baghdad.

The Abrams is supposed to be the world's premier battle tank and impervious to almost any attack. According to the FAS information sheet, no crew members were lost in the 1991 Gulf war.

Maybe Bush was right... there is progress being made in Iraq - just not the kind he had in mind.

Seven Ukrainian soldiers were also wounded southeast of Baghdad in a combination mine-small arms attack on their APCs.

Mano Negra has posted numerous articles on the inadequecy of US and "allied" vehicles in Iraq. Take some time to look at his prescient posts to get an idea of the deathtraps in which the US army is forcing soldiers to travel around Iraq.


"Bush's lies make baby Jesus cry"

Well, well, well... we see that the Boy Blunder is lying through his teeth... again.

Aren't you supposed to be a Christian, Mr. Bush? Don't you know that lies make baby Jesus cry?

Turkish FM: US "inept" with troop request

Hahaha... now Turkey is saying that the US was "inept" in its request for Turkish troops to go to Iraq:
"Of course, there is ineptitude here. First they came, very enthusiastic, and said 'please do not be late' and then they saw that there are many different issues. They have many hesitations themselves," Gul was quoted by Anatolia news agency as saying.
I don't know, Mr. Gul. Can you be more specific - would you say that there was a great big dose of ignorance about what the Middle East is like on the part of the American administration?
"The Americans do not know the region very well. They did not pay much attention to the advice given to them. If the officials who are currently administering Iraq had known the region better, things would have been better today," Gul said.
And what is your opinion on how the US occupation authority dealt with the Iraqi interim authority on the matter of Turkish soldiers in Iraq?
"They are supposed to convince those who they themselves have appointed... The United States is the authority in Iraq...".
Thank you, Mr. Gul.

Bush dodging issue of turning over 9/11 documents

Bush is still not committing the administration to turning over documents relating to the 11 September attacks. This continued foot-dragging (which the Times suggests may indicate that Bush will ultimately refuse to turn over the documents) will almost surely result in the 9/11 commission being unable to meet its May 2004 deadline.

The reason for this stonewalling, which in other contexts might be considered obstruction of justice? It might set a "bad precedent":
[Administration officials] said the White House was also alarmed at the prospect of establishing a precedent in which some of the most secretive intelligence information reaching the Oval Office - the Presidential Daily Briefing is available only to Mr. Bush and a handful of his aides - could be turned over to investigators outside of the executive branch.

"There are national security issues, executive privilege issues, common-sense issues," a senior White House official said, speaking on condition of anonymity. "We want to be as helpful as we can to Governor Kean and the commission, but these are not the sort of documents you freely share with the outside world."
That's the problem with Bush - the asshole wants to be as "helpful" as he can about all of these scandals (Plame, Iraq intelligence, Enron, the energy commission, etc. etc. etc.) without doing a goddamned thing about them.

But this unnamed official is totally right about one thing - this matter of turning over these documents does involve national security. Let us recall the people who were in power when the 9/11 attacks - one of the greatest breaches of national security in the history of the country - happened: Bush; Cheney; Rumsfeld; Rice; Wolfowitz; Powell; Tenet. Oddly enough, probably the same people who all received these holy Presidential Daily Briefings.

The public should have access to these documents to find out the extent of the incompetence (at best) involved and to help make sure that this same group of administration officials doesn't get more people killed through further negligence. The longer Bush hems and haws, the more obvious it becomes that he has something to hide.

History lesson: yes, your government would sacrifice you

Today's history lesson: Operation Northwoods.

You know... some people say history repeats itself.

(Thanx to Atrios and The Looking Glass)

Don't worry none...

Steve Bell on Wolfie's escape.


More on the Baghdad bombings

Just a follow-up to the fine earlier post by Mano Negra on the subject of the car-bomb attacks in Baghdad.

Dead-enders... that was the cute condescending little "Texan" catch-phrase that the Bush administration was using to describe the guerillas operating in Iraq. But the only "dead-enders" we're seeing these days are people like the unfortunate victims of the terrible car-bombing of the ICRC building. But they're more dead than dead-ender. And still, as Mano Negra pointed out, the only epitaph they get from Bush himself is absurd drivel designed for the less mentally active segment of the domestic audience.

Speaking of which: the US army has trotted out some new spokespeople to replace our good buddy laughingstocks Sanchez, Teeples and Petraeus (or perhaps General Petraeus was too busy other important projects, like organizing toy distribution, to make preposterous statements today).

One of these new spokespersons is a guy going by the name of "Hertling". Speaking after 6 car bombs attacks carried out within 45 minutes of each other killed up to 40 people, Hertling had this to say:
"That's not professional, it's actually somewhat amateurish."
We also get this fanciful detail of the attacks:
...Hertling of the U.S. Army's 1st Armoured Division said on Monday police shot and wounded the man when he got out of a car and tried to hurl a grenade at a Baghdad police station. The car carried three mortar rounds and was packed with TNT, he said.

"He's a foreign fighter. He had a Syrian passport and the policemen claim that as he was shot and fell that he said he was Syrian," Hertling told a news conference.
Right... so, according to Hertling's reconstruction of reality, the attacker was on his way to carry out a suicide car bombing... but then stopped, got out of the car, tried to throw a grenade, and fell to the ground screaming out his nationality after police shot at him, all the while carrying proper identification.

You show me someone who believes that, I'll show you someone who has either had a lobotomy or wouldn't be too damaged by one.

Another of these wieners is named Odierno. Odierno seems not to have spoken with Hertling recently, because he thinks that foreign nationals are not involved in the attacks (link in Mano Negra post):
"In fact, we do believe that, because of some of the money that we have captured, that there are some problems with paying potential foreign fighters, and that's why maybe we have not seen them yet, because they cannot pay them the money they need in order to conduct their operations," he said.(emphasis added)
What's going on here is that the Bush administration wants to have it both ways: disruption of "terrorist" financing prevents guerillas from hiring foreign nationals, and so the only people carrying out attacks are the "dead-ender" Saddam loyalists - but, since we've already heard how much Iraqis love what the US is doing in the country, no real Iraqi can be involved in the attacks, and therefore they must be the work of "foreigners".

Too bad the crazed Islamist/foreign fighter/Saddam loyalist guerillas don't share in the Bush administration's version of reality.

Israeli government to provide services to new settlements

Israel's defense ministry has announced that it will provide services to 8 new illegal settlements in the West Bank. The move gives these new little colonies state recognition. It is also a violation of the US's now-dead-and-waiting-to-be-buried "road map".

Keep in mind that these are settlements that the State of Israel itself supposedly regards as "illegal". "Illegal" Arab construction in Jerusalem and the rest of the West Bank always gets demolished. But there are no bulldozers for these new settlements.

I wonder why that is?

The suckcess story of the century: Iraqis killing more Americans in Iraq.

Bush keeps talking about how the attacks mean that things are getting better in Iraq, because all the progress is what spurs these desparate attacks.

Um, at the risk of stating the obvious, if the attacks are a measure of progress (read, success in rebuilding Iraq), then I guess we are closer to our goal than ever. The more attacks, the more progress. If only the Iraqis could manage to kill 400 Americans a day, our work would be done! Lazy bastards!



At this point, everything I say is going to be a big fat I told you so, so Im going to be posting with less frequency. Sorry, just as things are getting interesting, but really, they aren't. The ball is now rolling, and it was interesting to observe the initial inertia in this direction, but now its going to be "bad" for the US for a while, with a fairly regular consistency. Its all happening with remarkable consistency.

The Iraqis have begun to find success with mortar attacks and in combining tactics such as mortar, IED, and RPG attacks.

The HMMWV or Hummer is a disaster (DUH! Its made of fiberglass and aluminum) but that isnt stopping the Military from moving all their eggs into the "wheeled vehicle" basket. A tactical moron vehicle, thats what this idea is, but I suppose empire (in its late stages) has to be stupid. Oh, and read the presentations at the various military conferences... Can anyone say wartime profiteering?

The soldiers know they are being fucked and they have begun killing themselves and going AWOL. Fragging has yet to occur, as far as we know.

Conclusion: Bush will never be re-elected.

Mr. Wolfowitz goes to Baghdad

Ironic... Wolfie of Iraq goes to Iraq to demonstrate to all of the suckers that the "new Iraq" is all wonderful and dandy - and almost gets blown up in a rocket attack on the US's occupation center, the Al Rashid hotel.
Wolfowitz, who appeared shaken as he addressed reporters at a convention center across the street where most officials fled, vowed the attack would not deter the United States in its mission to transform Iraq.
Although US officials denied that Wolfie was the target, it is impossible to know for sure. It is true that the attackers, who used a rocket launcher disguised as a generator, probably planned the attack well in advance. But it is entirely possible that after they had planned the attack, the guerillas (and, no, sorry, they aren't "terrorists"), knowing that the Al Rashid hotel is US occupation central and that some high-profile figure would be coming through at some point, waited until they had intelligence that Wolfie was staying there to carry it out.

If this is the case (again, it is entirely possible that the attack's timing was fortuitous), then it shows a number of things. One imortant thing is that the guerillas have good, or workable, intelligence. They are able to observe, plan, and carry out attacks in ways that elude US counterintelligence. This should be obvious - the US had, still has, and will probably continue to have problems circulating agents in Iraqi society - but the reverse is not true. That is, the US occupiers have to work with Iraqis to some degree, which will allow anti-occupation forces to acquire intelligence in a number of ways. The more the US settles in to the occupation, the more the attacks will increase and the deadlier and more high-profile they will become.

In other news, guerillas using a simple hand-held grenade launcher shot down a Blackhawk helicopter near Tikrit. At least one, and maybe as many as 5 US soldiers, were injured.

Anyone remember that propaganda stunt Saddam pulled during the "main combat operations phase" of the war, when Iraqi TV claimed that a farmer had shot down a helicopter using a shotgun? Something similar here - but real.

This operation and the big bloody nose administered to Bush's PR campaign in the form of the Al Rashid attack will also serve as unbeatable recruiting drives for guerilla outfits. They demonstrate that the US military is not invincible, that resistance is not futile, and that it is possible to make the US occupation look bad. Popular support for the guerillas will also increase. As long as they have this, the US will not be able to crush them.

Israel demolishes 3 apartment buildings in Gaza

The Israeli army blew up 3 apartment buildings in Gaza, apparently in retaliation for the recent attack killing 3 soldiers in a Gaza Strip settlement. The apartments were meant to alleviate overcrowding in Gaza, the world's most densely populated area.

Can there be any doubt that this is the most moral army in the history of the world? Is any army's arms purer than those carried by the Israeli military? You'd probably have to go to Chechnya to find purer arms.

From Ha'aretz, we get this detail:
Hundreds of Israeli troops, including demolition experts and humanitarian liaison officers, were deployed in the operation to evacuate residents living in a 400 meter radius of the three buildings.(emphasis added)
So... now Israel is calling people working on destroying other people's housing "humanitarian" officials. You can't make this stuff up.


Bush and Al Jazeera: two peas in the information pod

They both like their information raw and "unfiltered".

...President Bush... says the media "filter" is distorting the truth of Iraq. "Sometimes it's hard to tell it when you listen to the filter."
Al Jazeera:
"If you start filtering the reality, you will lose the shape of that reality."
They should be the best of unfiltered news buddies. And yet we see the US administration at Al Jazeera's throat.

Which raises the question: how does Bush get his news?

(Link via Cursor.)

Report: Bush drops opposition to Apartheid Wall

The Forward reports that the Bush administration has dropped its "opposition" to the Apartheid Wall in the West Bank. Supposedly, Bushy and his friends will still argue for minor adjustments based on local conditions.

What a surprise.

Reportedly, the White House said that the Palestinian Authority is the reason why the fence is being built to imprison the 3 million or so West Bank Palestinians who have nothing to do with the group. Blaming the victim and collective punishment are apparently growth industries in some parts of the world.

We await the next Brendan O'Neill column to tell us how this actually good news for the Palestinians.

(Link via Antiwar.com)

Anti-war MP Galloway expelled from Labour

The Labour party has expelled anti-war MP George Galloway. The party's charges against him included inciting "Arabs" to kill British soldiers and urging troops to refuse orders.

Galloway still may be able to make it back into Parliament as an independent, but if he can't, he will be missed. He leaves us for now with many useful observations, including this quote on Tony Blair:
He is the roving ambassador to the rightwing, born-again, bible-belting fundamentalist crew which first turned Texas into the toxic execution chamber of the western world.


Wall St. embraces Bush

Mano Negra, I think you were a little hasty on your claim that the elite have dumped Bush.

Occupying land, not people

The Guardian runs an article looking at how the Israeli reshaping of Jerusalem is affecting Arab residents.

Some excerpts:
Jerusalem came to the unsuspecting people of Nu'man in 1967 as an imaginary line across their hamlet's parched, rock-studded hills far beyond the city. In the wake of Israel's drubbing of the Arab armies in the Six Day war and occupation of the West Bank, the conquerors drew a wide arc deep into Palestinian territory and declared it the new boundary of the Jewish state's "eternal and indivisible capital".

It hardly mattered to the bemused villagers even when Israeli bureaucrats, out of incompetence or malice, declared Nu'man's houses inside this new greater Jerusalem, but said its people were residents of the West Bank.

Altogether, almost 50 miles of fence and wall will carve through the city's Arab neighbourhoods and the occupied territories declared to be part of Jerusalem. It will force children from about 30 schools to find new ones, divide families that used to live just a couple of minutes' walk apart and separate tens of thousands of people from their work.

"This is the greatest change to Jerusalem, and the way it will function, since Israel occupied the east of the city in 1967," said Daniel Seidemann, an Israeli lawyer fighting a legal action against the Jerusalem section of the barrier. "East Jerusalem is a living organism that relies on its connections to the West Bank to survive. The wall is severing those arteries."

To the north of the city, about 24,000 Palestinians will be ghettoised as the fence surrounds a neighbourhood that will be on the Jerusalem side of the barrier but whose residents do not have permission to enter the city. To the south, the barrier already divides Jerusalem from Bethlehem, and part of Bethlehem from itself.

The Israelis say the villagers are living there illegally because they only moved to the area during the 1980s.

The claim infuriates Yusuf Dirawi. He says his family has lived there for generations, first in caves with their sheep and then in tents before the first solid houses were built around 50 years ago. He gestures to stone housing with construction dates in the 1950s carved above the door. Aerial pictures of the area show that the village was well established by 1967.

"How can they say we haven't lived here all these years?" Mr Dirawi asked. "They only have to look around. It's obvious. But they don't want to see."

...Jerusalem's chief administrative officer, Eitan Meir, has written to B'Tselem saying that Nu'man's residents belong to a clan from Bethlehem and therefore their homes in Nu'man were only "temporary".
Democracy in action.

Ex-Navy attorney: LBJ, McNamara ordered coverup of Liberty attack

A former Navy attorney who helped lead the "investigation" into the Israeli attack on the USS Liberty in 1967 has released a sworn statement that the inquiry was ordered to conclude the assault was an accident.
In a signed affidavit released at a Capitol Hill news conference, retired Capt. Ward Boston said Johnson and McNamara told those heading the Navy's inquiry to "conclude that the attack was a case of 'mistaken identity' despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary."

Boston was senior legal counsel to the Navy's original 1967 review of the attack. He said in the sworn statement that he stayed silent for years because he's a military man, and "when orders come ... I follow them."
The main defense of Israel in this matter has increasingly become something like "Why would Israel - America's bestest buddy in the whole wide world - have done something like this on purpose?"

It's not much of a defense. Do we have to know the exact reasons why Ruby shot Oswald, or Julius Caesar crossed the Rubicon, or Luther posted his 95 Theses to be able to say that these were all intentional acts and not "tragic accidents"?

But for people who want a reason, here's one: Israel's position in the Middle East was still not entirely secure in 1967. World and western opinion, and especially that of the US, would be crucial for it to maintain its place in the region and continue carrying out the plans of its leading figures (Ben-Gurion, Sharett, and a still-young man named Ariel Sharon, for example), many of whom believed in the "Greater Israel" project. If the USS Liberty had been sunk, with no clear evidence of who did it (the Liberty's radio transmission frequencies were jammed for most of the attack), it would have been very easy to pin the attack on the Egyptians. There was a precedent for this: another "dirty tricks" or "false-flag" operation had, in fact, been carried out 13 years earlier by Israeli agents against Western targets in Egypt in what became known as the "Lavon affair". Israel's perceived Cold War-status as "bulwark against communism" in the Middle East and defender of Western civilization against the Arab hordes would have been greatly enhanced if it had been seen on American television fighting against the Soviet-supported pan-Arab nationalist Gamal Abdul Nasser, who had the nerve to attack and sink an American ship on behalf of his Soviet masters. Increased hostility to the "Arab cause", already high among the various Western publics for various reasons, wedded to anti-communist sentiment would have been an unbeatable ideological victory for Israel. There's no need to look to specific, tactical reasons for the attack on the Liberty - a larger strategic view explains it.

As it turned out, the ship didn't sink. So it was necessary for Israel to apologize and begin speaking of a "tragic mistake", when the only "mistake", from the point of view of the people who ordered this assault, was that the job wasn't done properly.

So now Boston has added his voice to the long list of experts and people in a position to know who have already stated that the attack was not an accident. We await either a new coverup of silence or furious denunciations and character assassination of Boston.

You say "to-may-to" and I say "tah-mah-to"

It's not a quagmire in Iraq... it's a "long, hard slog". And that makes all the difference.

In other news, that pile of shit isn't actually a pile of shit... it's a tasty sandwich. Go ahead, take a big bite.

Rummy also speaks of a "new institution" to carry out the "war on terror":
"It is not possible to change DOD [Department of Defense] fast enough to successfully fight the global war on terror," he said. "An alternative might be to try to fashion a new institution, either within DOD or elsewhere -- one that seamlessly focuses the capabilities of several departments and agencies on this key problem." He did not elaborate.
Sounds like someone wants a private army that is even less accountable to "the people" and their "elected" representatives. Support for this reading comes at the end of the article:
In one particularly cryptic line near the end of the memo, Rumsfeld asked: "Does the CIA need a new finding?" A finding, signed by the president, provides authority to conduct whatever covert activity is stipulated. Rumsfeld did not indicate the covert activity he had in mind.
In other words, expect a "dirty war" like you've never seen.

This new memo is almost certainly a little Rumsfeld payback for the recent establishment of the Rice commissariat on Iraq's "reconstruction". As such, it is another sign of a real division in the Bush administration on the direction to go in this amorphous, constantly changing crusade against "evil" and Satan and everyone who would prevent small children from playing football and going to school in places like Iraq. Radical expansion or tactical retreat and consolidation?

In no small part it is also a bit of an admission that things aren't going as well as were hoped. But such an admission would be necessary to expand the crusade, which would make less sense if everything actually were going as well as promised. So this recent Rummygram should serve as a bit of an alarm-bell.


Intelligent life: is it out there?

Some scientists in California expect contact with intelligent alien life by 2025.

Intelligent life... sure would be a refreshing change from what we're getting here on earth.

Jeb Bush - god

While one Bush is playing god and sending off thousands of Americans to die pointless deaths, another Bush is playing god and preventing the death of a person who wants to die:
The fight over the life of a comatose woman took a dramatic twist when a hospital began rehydrating her on orders from Gov. Jeb Bush -- a development experts say raises legal issues that could complicate the case even further.

Observers wondered whether the Legislature and the governor overstepped constitutional boundaries by ramming through legislation that overruled the courts.
Silly observers - don't they know that "god's law" is more sublime and valuable than "mankind's law"?

Or, as Tony Alamo says, "Human reasoning is only worthless human reasoning".

Are we in the "end times"? Is Jeb become the messiah?

Revelations 9:6 - During those days men will seek death, but will not find it;
they will long to die, but death will elude them.

Praise Jebus.

(Note: editing messiahizes Jeb.)


New pro-war bigot joins Bush administration

Christ... the Bush administration has assembled an all-star team of fanatic Likudnik anti-Arab and anti-Palestinian bigots to serve as advisors. Abrams, Bolton, Perle, Wolfowitz, Libby, Feith, and Cheney apparently weren't enough... now David Wurmser is on board, as an advisor to Cheney. And he really wants to get busy:
Damascus has been in Wurmser's sights at least since he began working with Perle at the AEI in the mid-1990s.

For the latter part of the decade, he wrote frequently to support a joint US-Israeli effort to undermine then president Hafez Assad, in hopes of destroying Ba'ath rule and hastening the creation of a new order in the Levant to be dominated by "tribal, familial and clan unions under limited governments".
For those who aren't up to speed on political theory, encouraging "tribal, familial and clan unions" is not conducive to "democracy".

But who really believed all of this "democracy" bullshit, anyway?

"Whoever inherits Iraq dominates the entire Levant strategically," he wrote in one 1996 paper for the Jerusalem-based Institute for Advanced Strategic and Political Studies (IASPS).

Wurmser... was the main author of a 1996 report by a task force convened by the IASPS and headed by Perle, called the Study Group on a New Israeli Strategy Toward 2000.

The paper, called "A Clean Break: A New Strategy for Securing the Realm", was directed to incoming Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
I will point out, as the article does, that Wurmser's wife runs the notorious translation outfit MEMRI, which specializes in presenting the most sensationalist opinions in the Arabic press as reflecting the state of debate in Arab society.

So, for undecided voters out there, let me just say this: if Bush is reelected in 2004, and he keeps this line-up in place, there will be at least one more war in the Middle East, most likely against Syria. Let me repeat: the US will become involved in another war. This war will be fought exclusively for Israeli interests. Let me repeat that as well: the US has no national interest in attacking Syria. Israel has a huge interest in seeing the US attack Syria - as pointed out by people like Wurmser himself.

Think about this when you go and throw your vote away to Diebold. No, I am not paranoid. And yes, you should be.

No cameras for dead US soldiers

Via Atrios, we get this WaPo article on how the Pentagon is contributing to the Bush regime's media drive to convince everyone that everything is wonderful in Iraq - no pictures that might bring a tear to Americans' eyes:
...It has ended the public dissemination of such images by banning news coverage and photography of dead soldiers' homecomings on all military bases.
So: never mind that dead guy who was blown to bits making Iraq safe for Halliburton - Iraqi children are attending schools (which never shut down), thanks to General Petraeus and "Jerry" Bremer!

Freedom of the press, as long as you saying what the boss wants to hear.
A White House spokesman said Bush has not attended any memorials or funerals for soldiers killed in action during his presidency as his predecessors had done...
I suppose it is kind of hard to squeeze in both a full 18 holes and 2-3 funerals everyday.

Moving on... from Cursor, we see that the Senate is urging Bush to give "War on Terrorism Medals" to soldiers participating in combat in Iraq. Only one senator, James Jefford (I-VT), dissented on the vote, for the very clear reason that what is going on Iraq nothing to do with the "war on terror":
"Those who support giving this medal to our troops in Iraq are once again trying to make a connection between Sept. 11 and Iraq that simply does not exist. I am a veteran and I wholeheartedly support our troops, but I believe it does the men and women in our military a great disservice to misrepresent the reasons why they are in Iraq. They certainly deserve medals for their service, but I will not be a part of the White House campaign to redefine this war".
Clearly, Jeffords is deluded - if Americans are dying anywhere in the world, then terrorism must be involved. But not as deluded as the Senate - I mean, really, don't our representatives know that everything is delightfully delightful in the "new Iraq"? There's no need for medals.

(Note: updated; edited and adds link)

That strong Continental coffee

Blair is blaming his recent heart problems on "strong continental European coffee".

Or, as Tbogg notes, maybe it was the stress of lying for the last 16 months.


UPDATE: More on Israeli tactics in Gaza strikes

Ha'aretz is reporting at least 14 killed in 5 separate Israeli strikes (latest update); Al Jazeera is simply stating "many dead" and scores (around 100) wounded.

Here are some details about the extreme concern for human life in the "precise" and "targetted" killings that Israel is carrying out (all emphases added):

From the Ha'aretz article:
...IAF helicopters fired at least two missiles at a car near the Nuseirat refugee camp in central Gaza, killing seven Palestinians, including top Hamas militant Imad Akel and three others who were in the vehicle with him, according to Palestinian sources. Three others killed in the attack were civilians.
The same attack, with additional details, by Al Jazeera:
The vehicle took a direct hit from what witnesses said was a missile fired by an Apache helicopter, killing its two occupants.

A further missile was fired into a crowd of people gathered round the destroyed vehicle, causing at least 70 more casualties including at least six fatalities, according to Aljazeera quoting Palestinian medical sources.

Residents said one of the dead was a doctor who was treating victims when the second missile struck. The identity of the other victims was not immediately known, and the military did not comment.

Israel's Channel 10 TV said that none of the dead were "militants", characterising the refugee camp strike as a "mistake."
This is not the first report of the Israeli army firing into crowds after an initial attack. But, of course, who else, besides "terrorists", would possibly be out in public and walking around?

More from Ha'aretz:
At least 23 other people were wounded in the first two strikes, Palestinian hospital sources said, including four children and a 70-year-old woman.

In the first assault, in the Sajaiyeh neighborhood in the eastern part of the Gaza Strip, combat planes struck a Hamas weapons factory, the military said. Seven people were wounded in the strike, including two infants aged 2 and 3.

The pickup had stopped at a traffic light near a gas station, on a busy street crowded with school children, when the missiles hit the front of the vehicle. A kindergarten and an elementary school had just let out students for the day.

Bus driver Ahmed Sobeh said he was driving behind the pickup at the time. "Suddenly, a big flame came from the sky and hit the car in front of me," he said.

"School children were trying to cross the road [at the time]... .
"Unfortunate" collateral damage... "liquidation" of "terrorists"... or disregard for human life?

The "moral superiority" is killing someone who isn't me.

Plans to reduce number of US soldiers in Iraq

The WaPo reports that the Pentagon is drawing up plans to reduce the number of US soldiers in Iraq to less than 100,000 next year and to around 50,000 by 2005.

Frankly, it seems like extremely wishful thinking. For example, what is to prevent another coup as soon as US soldiers leave Iraq? Or a government that is extremely unfavorable to the US? How will the US ensure that Chalabi, or whoever it puts in, is not thrown out on his ear?

Some strategy commentators are also skeptical:
But some experts doubt that the new Iraqi forces will be capable of picking up those tasks, which could undercut the plan to draw down U.S. troops. "I do not place a lot of hope in the new Iraqi security forces, at least in the time frame" being discussed, said Jeffrey White, a former Defense Intelligence Agency analyst of Middle Eastern militaries.

Also, there is some worry that even if Iraqis can execute tactical missions to provide security, they may not be able to carry out the larger, more difficult task of holding together Iraq as a nation.

"There is a fallacy in the 'turn it over to the Iraqis for security' argument," said retired Air Force Col. Sam Gardiner, who has taught strategy at the National War College. "The strategic problem, and the problem that will demand keeping a large U.S. presence, is the danger of a fractured Iraq." Without a large number of U.S. troops on Iraqi ground, he said, the country could quickly split into a Kurdish north, a Sunni center and a Shiite south.
In my opinion, a big part of this is intended for Bush's reelection campaign. It would make a slogan like "Bush... he kicked ass. Now, he's now bringing the boys home" possible.

But the idea that the Us will be able to seriously reduce its forces anytime in the next two years, minimum, and still get anything approaching a unified, stable Iraq - much less this democratic and capitalistic Mideast wonderland that we were promised - is sheer fantasy. Such a plan would not be able to defend against another dictatorship, a break-up of the country, or a government of a unified Iraq the US would not like.

In other words, Bush can have his "reconstruction" in the way he likes it - but that will mean that US soldiers will be there for a long time.

Families seek answers over murders in Palestine

Here's an example of that "moral superiority" of Israel that Dougie Feith likes to talk about so much: Israel continues to stonewall investigations into the deliberate murders of US and UK citizens in Palestine.

Meanwhile, on the ground in Palestine, the Israeli army crushed to death a teenager in Gaza while demolishing a house in Rafah. Five other Palestinians, including at least one bystander, were killed in four missile attacks in Gaza. The missle attacks came less than a day after 3 Israeli soldiers were killed in an attack near Ramallah.

On "Arabophobia"

The Guardian runs an article on what the writer calls "Arabophobia", but what you and I would call "racism".

Some excerpts:
"I read TE Lawrence before I came here," a British officer was quoted in the Mail on Sunday. "A century ago he recognised dishonesty was inherent in Arab society. Today is the same. They do nothing for love and nothing at all if they can help it."

The attitudes of the officer, shocking though they are, only mirror those of the people who sent him to war. Scratch a neo-con and you find an Arabophobe. Condoleezza Rice, President Bush's national security adviser, has berated Arabs on the "need to change their behaviour". Douglas Feith, the undersecretary of defence for policy, has talked of Israel's "moral superiority" over its neighbours. And the veteran foreign policy hawk Richard Perle, when asked about the fears Egyptians had of the Iraq war provoking an Arab backlash, replied: "Egyptians can barely govern their own country, we don't need advice on how to govern ours."

The British public had to decide who was telling the truth: Tony Blair, with his claim that Iraq posed "a very real threat to Britain", or Saddam, with his repeated denials. The neo-cons knew that their case for war was painfully thin. But they banked on Arabophobia - stoked by their allies in the media - to do the rest: Tony, the white, middle-class churchgoer, or Saddam, the swarthy Arab? For many, there was no contest. Of course, Saddam couldn't possibly be telling the truth about not possessing WMD. He's an Arab. Arabs lie. We know this from TE Lawrence.
I never have trusted that Tony Blair, with those beady little eyes and that pasty white skin of his.


The US media and Iraq

The occupational authority is starting to assign minders to journalists in Iraq.

Expect more good news about soccer and puppy dogs, and less bad news about dead people, in the future.

Israel's Apartheid Wall: what it is and what it isn't

Via Cursor, we get this link to an article by Brendan O'Neill at spiked-online on the Apartheid Wall that Israel is building inside of the West Bank.

O'Neill makes a few good points in his article. However, it is clear that he is laboring over a number of major misconceptions on how the Wall fits into Israeli strategy in the West Bank. I will briefly point out a few below (briefly, due to a series of technical mishaps which caused a long post on the same topic to disappear). Readers may use the handy map to the left of the Wall's actual and proposed routes, taken from Gush Shalom, for reference.

O'Neill claims that
...America's veto of the resolution, which was tabled by Syria's pro-Palestinian ambassador to the UN, was not the all-out defence of its 'old friend' Israel that many have claimed. Rather, the Americans argued that the resolution was 'unbalanced' and 'failed to draw attention to Palestinian terrorism'. The Bush administration, like the UN, the European Union and many others around the world, has in fact been critical of Israel's fence...
This is pure smokescreen and propaganda. Lack of "balance" is always the stated reason why the US blocks resolutions critical of Israel. The fact that it cited this as a reason this time has no bearing on whether or not it actually opposes the Wall.

The Bush administration may "oppose" the Wall, but it does so merely for tactical political reasons. It does not oppose the Wall on principle. It hasn't taken one concrete step to prevent its construction, and if the Israeli government went ahead and built the Wall along a route that the US did not approve of, the US would not do anything to stop it (and neither would the EU and Russia).

O'Neill's argument about the outside management of the "peace process", particularly by the US, is also curious. On the contrary, the US's main role in the "peace process" has been to block outside interference, leaving the weak Palestinians at the mercy of their overwhelmingly wealthier and more powerful neighbor.

But the biggest problem with O'Neill's analysis is the exact role of the Apartheid Wall:
If Israel's fence is not the deviation from the peace process that many claim it is, nor is it an expression of Israel's 'imperialist ambitions' over Palestine. Rather, the fence looks like a fearful and defensive measure on Israel's part, driven more by a sense of isolation than conquest. Many of Israel's critics claim that the fence is a 'land grab', showing Israel's determination to dominate the Middle East. The fence certainly cuts into West Bank territory along its path, deeply in parts, in order to include some Jewish settlements on the 'Israeli side'. But it also represents the negation of Israel's historic territorial claims over Palestinian territory.

Until recently, the revisionist Zionism of what is now Ariel Sharon's ruling Likud Party talked up the creation of a 'Greater Israel' - with claims over the East Bank of the river Jordan (in Jordan) as well as over the West Bank. Likud's party line was that 'the state of Israel has rights and claims to sovereignty over Judea, Samaria [meaning the West Bank] and the Gaza sector', emphasising that 'under no conditions shall a Palestinian state be established'.

Now, Likud rulers have effectively ditched these territorial claims by building a fence between Israel as it currently exists and the West Bank, offering a tacit political recognition, and a powerful physical recognition, of Palestinian territory. Consequently, it isn't only Palestinians in the West Bank, whose villages and livelihoods are being torn apart, who oppose the fence. So do hawkish Israelis, concerned that the fence will undermine Israel's 'sovereign territory' and give Palestinian claims to statehood too much legitimacy.
Unfortunately, for O'Neill, the only way that this explanation of the Wall can be described is "preposterous".

O'Neill's confusion is apparent in the fact that he can claim that Israel is "building a fence between Israel as it currently exists and the West Bank" while at the same time maintaining that the Wall "certainly cuts into West Bank territory along its path, deeply in parts..." (emphases added). Which is it? It can't be both. If taking land wasn't an issue, and "security" and "separation" were the only issues (the two functions that the Israeli "left", who came up with the idea of the Wall, originally envisioned it fulfilling), then Israel would be building the Wall on Israeli land along the Green Line and would not be cutting of the West Bank from Jordan, neither of which is the case. So, clearly, stealing land (for agriculture, water and, perhaps most importantly, for ideological reasons) is a consideration in the Wall's construction.

O'Neill's argument that "hawkish Israelis" oppose the fence is incorrect. The settlers, the most hawkish Israelis, opposed the fence when the idea was to build it along the Green Line, which would have both cut off their colonies from the homeland and also provided a tacit admission that Israel's international border was on the 1948 cease-fire line. But now, since this is not the case, settlers no longer oppose the Wall and are demanding that their settlements be included within it.

But, in fact, the entire Apartheid Wall is more offensive than defensive. The idea that Israel is "negating" its "historic territorial claims" over the West Bank by building the Wall is not sustainable. In the short term, it allows Israel to maintain as much control over the West Bank as possible, while keeping the Palestinian population physically, and hence legally, separated from the Israeli state. In the longer term, the Wall will serve as an implement of "transfer" by cutting off Palestinian communities from the resources (physical and social) they need. In the words of Gush Shalom, the Wall "is an intention of quiet ethnic cleansing, the sort that cannot be photographed, but is nevertheless as effective and devastating (what this will look like in real life can already be seen in Hebron). The Apartheid Wall will almost freeze Palestinian movement and growth, but it will not reduce Israel's ability to act in Palestinian areas at all: attack helicopters will be able to fly over the wall, tanks and soldiers will be able to pour through the Wall's gates and put any population center under curfew at any time, and bulldozers will be able to drive through and raze large parts of towns and refugee camps to the ground, as has already happened at Jenin and now at Rafah.

So what is the Apartheid Wall? It is the perimeter of a prison, the world's largest, whose only criterion for inmates is that they be ethnic Palestinians who live in the West Bank. Prisoners behind walls at places like Folsom and San Quentin and Sing Sing do not enjoy "sovereignty" or self-determination, even though they far outnumber and occupy more space than the guards who control them. No one in their right mind would ever claim that when the US built these prisons, it was offering the inmates "tacit political recognition" and "powerful physical recognition" of "prisoner territory". Why make such claims for a people that will be entirely surrounded by a wall, minefields, and razor-wire? The Apartheid Wall is turning the West Bank into a giant maximum security penitentiary, even if it dwarfs any other prison in the history of the world. Claiming that the this new prison wall offers its Palestinian inmates any kind of advantage, and that its builders are constructing it from a position of weakness, is completely absurd.


Israeli army kills 4, including bystander and 16-year-old

The Israeli army killed 4 Palestinians, including a bystander in Gaza and a 16-year-old in the West Bank.

Also, settlers steal an olive harvest from a Palestinian-owned orchard in the West Bank.

Wide support at conference for Mahathir's anti-Semitism

Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad launched an anti-Semitic tirade at the meeting of the OIC... and every leader there applauded it:
All 57 leaders at a Conference of Islamic Nations summit applauded the comments... Among them were several key figures in the post-September 11 world, including Ms Megawati [the Indonesian president]; the Afghan President, Hamid Karzai; President Pervez Musharraf of Pakistan and Crown Prince Abdullah of Saudi Arabia.
There's no need to talk about "context" or anything else here, as Mahathir's spokespeople are doing. His speech contains an clear "Jewish conspiracy" theme. Whatever else was or was not in the speech cannot explain away or justify this viewpoint. This was not criticism of Israel or its policies.

It is sad to see that none of these leaders could be bothered to exercise even a little critical thought over these stupid comments.

Lieberman: Apartheid Wall is temporary

We can conclude from this that Lieberman is either ignorant or a liar. Or maybe both.

UK envoy to coalition member Uzbekistan under fire

Now for some more dirt on Uzbekistan, another member of the "coalition of the willing", that Bush administration-assembled coterie of nations fighting for "democracy" and "justice" in Iraq.

According to an article in the Guardian, the UK's ambassador to Uzbekistan has come under attack by Downing Street, ostensibly for failures that include "drinking too convivially with Uzbek locals" and "allowing an embassy Land Rover to be driven down steps" but in reality for his intense criticism of both the brutality of the Uzbek government and the way that the US and UK turned a blind to these abuses in their "war on terror".
A senior source said the former ambassador had been put under pressure to stop his repeated criticisms of the brutal Karimov regime, accused among other things of boiling prisoners to death. The source said the pressure was partly "exercised on the orders of No 10", which found his outspokenness about the compromises Washington was prepared to make in its "war on terror" increasingly embarrassing in the lead up to the Iraq war.

"He was told that the next time he stepped away from the American line, he would lose his post," said the source.

Uzbekistan, a post-Soviet police state on the strategically important border with Afghanistan, was another potential political minefield. Uzbek security services use "torture as a routine investigation technique", according to the US State Department. But Washington's wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have led them to finance much of the regime's security apparatus. In exchange the US gets a military base in Khanabad as a centre for operations in Afghanistan. Last year Washington gave the government $500m (£298m) in aid, $79m of which was specifically for the same "law enforcement and security services" they accused of routine torture.

Mr Murray
[the ambassador] sent numerous reports to London about human rights abuses, and his dispatches became increasingly heated during the build-up to the Iraqi invasion. He argued Uzbekistan's human rights abuses were as bad as those being used as ammunition against Baghdad. Yet Washington was financing Uzbekistan, rather than invading it, he said.

... He became personally involved in exposing torture, commissioning a forensic report on the bodies of two political prisoners, Muzafar Avazov and Husnidin Alimov, which concluded they had probably been boiled to death.
Another conscientous public official targetted for speaking out against the lies and hypocrisy of this "war on terror".

Phony election in "coalition" member Azerbaijan

I wonder if Bush will have some words - other than "congratulations" - to say about the phony presidential election in "coalition of the willing" member Azerbaijan. Massive irregularities were reported in the run-up to the election, as well as during voting itself.

As I pointed out during the early part of the Iraq invasion, it is preposterous to believe that the US is interested in encouraging democracy in Iraq while it looks the other way when allies such as Azerbaijan and Russia crush whatever democratic forces there are in their countries. But, then again, unfair elections are something that Bush knows about only too well. Maybe Rove can take a few pointers for Bush's 2004 campaign.

War is hell

The US army is looking into the higher-than-usual suicide rate among soldiers in Iraq. At least 13 soldiers are confirmed to have died of "self-inflicted" wounds, and other deaths are under investigation. Nearly 500 have been evacuated due to mental health reasons as of 25 September.


This is huge

Apparently 20-30 attackers exacted a very sizable toll (compared to past activity) on "coalition" and "friendly" forces. The numbers speak volumes about the level to which the Iraqi resistance is taking this thing (most previous attacks are thought to have involved groups of 3-6 people).

Yes, Virginia, they really are that stupid.

Apparently this general thinks he's fighting Satan.

Note to self: next time, explain how hyperbole works before declaring crusade against evil.


It's funny because it's true
WASHINGTON - Concerned about the appearance of disarray and feuding within his administration as well as growing resistance to his policies in Iraq, President Bush - living up to his recent declaration that he is in charge - told his top officials to "stop the leaks" to the media, or else.

News of Bush's order leaked almost immediately.

Bush told his senior aides Tuesday that he "didn't want to see any stories" quoting unnamed administration officials in the media anymore, and that if he did, there would be consequences, said a senior administration official who asked that his name not be used.

Capitalists in their own words

Whats not to like about capitalism?

"Free market competition from other corporations who pay CEO's more" is offered as the rationale behind the steadily skyrocketing CEO compensation:
when the misguided controversy over Grasso's pay package first reared its ugly head, H. Carl McCall, the guy who now runs the compensation committee, explained that "you have to do what you can to retain good people."
Never mind retaining non executives... as "free market competition from other corporations who pay workers less" if offered as the rationale behind reducing the pay and benefits of workers:
The store chains wanted workers to take on a larger share of the cost of their health care, citing a sluggish economy, rising health-care costs, and increased competition from rival chains such as WalMart, which don't employ union workers.
Following this logic, capitalism means installing companies with the BEST management, and the WORST labor. And by BEST we mean best-paid, hence, RICH. And by WORST we mean least-paid, and hence, POOREST. In other words, capitalism, in the words of its own advocates, is about impoverishing the working class, and enriching the upper class. Think prison labor, think perpetually impoverished and brutalized third-world labor. Think waving good-bye to the middle class. And say hello to neo-feudalism.

How far will we let it go?

Iraqi children draw the battle for the "new Iraq"

AFP photo

Caption: "Drawing by 11 year-old Saad Sabeeh. Supplied with pens, crayons, pencils and paper from New York City, children brought their experience of "Operation Iraqi Freedom" to life. Handout from the Puffin Foundation".

Notice the American soldier pointing the rifle at the dead bodies. What an impression for an 11-year-old to take away. But, hey, what do children know? Maybe it's Saddam's brainwashing at work.

I couldn't help but think of the recent case where a woman was convicted of rubbing hot french fries on a boy's face. The prosecuting attorney said that although "he suffered no serious physical injuries, 'we don't know what kind of emotional and psychological damage he's had'." If a child can have serious "emotional and psychological" damage from having french fries shoved in his face, imagine what a few exploding and bleeding bodies will do. Of course, the difference between the two children is that one is American... and the other isn't.

For more on the Puffin Foundation Iraq project, go here.

Halliburton watch: company accused of ripping off US taxpayers

Cheney's little monster Halliburton is accused of ripping off US taxpayers by overcharging the government for gasoline it is importing into Iraq.
The Houston, Texas-based Halliburton corporation is apparently overcharging the US government between 65 and 75 cents for every gallon of gasoline it sells in Iraq, [Congress members] Waxman and Dingell said in a letter to White House budget director Joshua Bolten.

"The overcharging by Halliburton is so extreme that one expert has privately called it 'highway robbery,'" Waxman and Dingell wrote in the letter.
The wonders of no-bid contracts.


The Kobe Bryant hearings and "evidence"

I had been avoiding it, but I decided to have a look at what is happening in the Kobe Bryant rape case hearings. As I have pointed out before, I'm not a lawyer - but this seems like awfully weak "evidence":
Kobe Bryant's accuser showed up for her rape exam wearing panties containing another man's sperm, a startling discovery that defense lawyers called "compelling evidence" the NBA star is innocent.

[Bryant's lawyer] wasted no time getting Detective Doug Winters to say that the yellow underwear the woman wore to her rape exam at a hospital the next day contained sperm from another man, along with Caucasian pubic hair.

Some legal experts said the evidence of the woman's previous sexual partners and her admission she was excited to meet Bryant makes the prosecution's case appear weak.
I don't know if Bryant is innocent or guilty. It is up to the judge to determine whether or not this goes to trial, and if so, then it will be up to the jury that hears the case to decide. Since I believe in the "innocent until proven guilty" principle, I am assuming at this point that Bryant is innocent.

But this "evidence" that is being brought in by Bryant's lawyer is incredibly weak and insulting. It seems to me to smack of both the "she was asking for it" and "the woman was a slut and it couldn't have been rape" lines. The alleged victim's sexual history does not bear on whether or not, in this instance, she was raped. The fact that her underwear has a different person's semen on it is irrelevant to the issue at hand. The woman's admission that she was "excited" to meet Bryant also adds nothing to whether or not a rape took place - presumably women can also be interested in sports figures without wanting to have sex with them.

As the article notes, this might score some PR points for the defense - but it does nothing to establish whether or not a crime was committed.

Was someone trying to say something?

A suicide bomber attacked the Turkish embassy in Baghdad, wounding several people.

We also get more from Bush's hatchet boys on how wonderful the "new Iraq" is. But the Reuters correspondent does a good job in contextualizing these claims:
[US Commerce Secretary Don] Evans, traveling under heavy guard, insisted Iraq was safer than most people believed. "This is not the dismal, frightened area I expected to see having watched the news coverage in the United States over the past six months," he said.

He dismissed incidents such as recent car bombings in a country where American occupying forces are under daily attack as "isolated acts of terrorism."
Yes... Iraq is so safe that Evans doesn't actually need that heavy guard when he's wandering around. He just likes being surrounded by men in uniform, no doubt.

Palestine roundup

Hamas, Jihad, Popular Resistance Committees deny role in US convoy bombing. The bombing killed three American security officials. The FBI is going to investigate.

Gaza as the world's biggest jail: Israel to deport 15 West Bank Palestinians to Gaza (see also Ha'aretz article). The people facing expulsion have never been tried for any crimes.

Israeli bulldozers, tanks return to Rafah refugee camp. This follows the recent rampage which left 100 homes demolished and about 2,000 homeless. But, as it turns out, people who focus on the "bad things" miss the point:
The Israeli army at first disputed the number of houses destroyed. But after the figures were confirmed by the UN agency for Palestinian refugees, UNRWA, and by independent news reports, the Israeli commander in the region, Colonel Eyal Eisenberg, said: "I want people to ask how many houses we have not demolished, not how many we have."
Maybe this guy has a future in the Bush administration.

An excellent Amira Hass article on the "redefined status" and legal nightmare Palestinians trapped between the State of Israel and the Apartheid Wall will have to face.

ADDENDUM: I'm sure that the deaths of these three US security personnel will draw much criticism, blame, and demands for action - as it already has from America's most useless person. But as I recall, it was only a few months ago that another American was deliberately run over by a bulldozer and crushed to death in Gaza. Her death did not draw nearly as much official US attention and criticism. But, then again, she was murdered by the "good guys". Funny, that.

The weasel hedges its bet

Ok, so France, Germany, and Russia (axis of weasel) look like they will back down. They will not demand a UN role and they will drop the demand that the Us relinquish power to the governing council.

What is likely is not that the UN sees it the American way, but that the UN (or rather, the important members who form the axis of weasel) dont want to go into the Iraqi hell. Look for France, Germany, and Russia to avoid committing troops (ie. no UN role), and give the Americans a chance to try to get a lid on things. In return, their corporate sectors will bid on the lucrative Iraqi contracts and likely buy up some control over the newly auctioned off sectors of the Iraqi economy.

So if things dont work out, the weasel's political and military ass is not on the line, and a key foe takes a beating, american imperialism bows its head and exits stage left (this is the most likely outcome). If things work out, then they get a cut of the action without having to have done any of the work.


Maybe they're just getting lucky

A US army spokesperson, one Maj. Troy Smith, has this to say on a day when 3 American soldiers were killed and 5 wounded in Iraq:
Smith said the insurgents headed by Saddam were bankrolling attacks on U.S. forces, often hiring people with little weapons experience.
I'd hate to see what it would look like if Smith thought the guerillas had weapons experience.

You can see why he's a member of the "Institute of Peace"
Daniel Pipes, recently appointed by U.S. President George W. Bush to the U.S. Institute of Peace, said the current generation of Palestinians was "lost" to Israel because of concessions made in past peace accords that made Palestinians lose respect for Israel. He said peace would have to wait for decades, until a new generation comes to power.
Well, if peace will have to "wait for decades", then I suppose there's no need for Pipes to waste his time at the "Institute of Peace".

More from the ongoing anti-peace conference in Jerusalem: We find out that the conference - attended by 200 people, including Richard Perle and Netanyahu - was a "world forum for all the sane people," according to one of the organizers. After calling for "moral clarity" in the fight against "terrorism", the same guy had this to say: "If a PLO terrorist state were created now, it would be like Hitler winning Stalingrad." Moral clarity to spare.

Look for the conference's final recommendations. They're sure to be official US policy sooner or later.

They never change

So the US is proposing a date for Iraqis to begin planning for self rule. This is supposed to get a UN resolution through.

Bushes charlatans are making a promise of a promise for self rule. With this date they are basically saying, you give us the resolution first, then well give you the timeline. How far would you trust the US administration?

Lets go die

As the attacks escalate, we note an interesting trend. American armored vehicles are not quite up to the task. The supposedly impervious Bradley Fighting Vehicles are not faring so well against landmines or even against man portable RPG's.

What to do? I know!! First, lets make sure to invoke Saddam. Hey, look over there, american public, Saddam is in town! "Credible" sightings reported. Booooo. Booooo. He must be laying those mines and shooting those RPGs himself.

Now, while the American public is distracted, the Army can really sock it to the resistance. How? By swapping steel treaded vehicles for the aluminum equivalent of a school bus, hiring some moronic German firm to build us ceramic plates that are not really bulletproof, slapping the tiles on the thing and shipping it to Iraq to fight the resistance. These things are the project of some senile army general and they are a gift to the resistance, even as that resistance demonstrates that they can adroitly handle Bradleys with their rag tag and improvised arsenals. The tires are a mistake, the armor is a joke, the additional steel armor (to fix the crappy ceramic armor) will add weight which the vehicle isnt designed to bear, and rebels will double tap these things with successive RPG shots around the wheels, or hit it with an IED and up to 14 americans get incinerated. These stryker things cant take the first hit, much less the second. They are going to use these for troop transport and rapid response (which is pointless... by the time they get there the ambush will be over). The people that foist this thing on Iraq are going to eat humble pie, and the GI's that ride in them are going to eat death.


Oh, the morality: hundreds left homeless after Israeli invasion in Gaza

AP photo

Caption: A Palestinian child looks at the rubble of destroyed houses in the Rafah refugee camp, on the border with Egypt, in the southern Gaza Strip on Sunday Oct. 12, 2003.

The BBC quotes a senior UN official as saying that up to 1,500 people may homeless after the Israeli army's rampage through the Rafah refugee camp in Gaza. The final figures of destroyed houses and homeless families are unknown at present, however (see also Ha'aretz article).

Not even being refugees and living in miserable hovels is enough.

"We've had people killed on our front lawn"

Thinking about thinking that Bush is right and everything is all about progress and good times in the "new Iraq"? A journalist living in Baghdad and trying to start up a paper there reports on what he says may be "the most dangerous city in the world".

Israeli minister advocates unilateral acts

Ehud Olmert has advocated that Israel continue taking unilateral steps to create "irreversible facts on the ground" vis-a-vis the Palestinians. Olmert was speaking at a conference in Jerusalem. Of course, "unilateral acts" that would prejudice a final-status agreement are supposedly frowned upon by the US - at least when Palestinians are accused of doing them.

Olmert thinks Israel should do this "based on a definition of its own interests - not because the Palestinians have 'a right to parts of our land'." So... the Palestinians have no "right" to the land of Palestine. Perhaps all of Israel's supporters who continually moan about how "The Arabs" have not accepted Israel's presence should take a look into the mirror and ask why Israel's leading politicians have still not accepted the fact that there were people living there a long time before there were Israelis.

We also find out that conference "participants criticized the United Nations, the international community and the Oslo Accords". The UN, the Oslo Accords, and the international community. Gosh... that's pretty much everyone. I guess there was just no room for any self-criticism in this round of denunciations.

Meanwhile, some figures on the Israeli left and Palestinian politicians have signed a draft memorandum on a final agreement between the Palestinians and the Israelis. The agreement includes provisions dividing Jerusalem and requiring the Palestinians to give up the right of return.

Report: US army razing Iraqi farmers' fields as "punishment"

The Independent reports that the US army has razed the fields of farmers in a small town south of Baghdad as "punishment" for not providing information on anti-US guerillas.
Sheikh Hussein Ali Saleh al-Jabouri, a member of a delegation that went to the nearby US base to ask for compensation for the loss of the fruit trees, said American officers described what had happened as "a punishment of local people because 'you know who is in the resistance and do not tell us'."

When a reporter from the newspaper Iraq Today attempted to take a photograph of the bulldozers at work a soldier grabbed his camera and tried to smash it. The same paper quotes Lt Col Springman, a US commander in the region, as saying: "We asked the farmers several times to stop the attacks, or to tell us who was responsible, but the farmers didn't tell us."
If true, of course, this would be a violation of the Geneva Conventions, not to mention a barbarous act in and of itself. It is certainly not going to win any hearts and minds.

Rumsfeld's $9 billion kitty

That he can pretty much spend as he pleases. Why is he allowed to have such power? Because America's elected representatives like to dodge responsibilities:
So why have three committees of Congress essentially abrogated such a sizable chunk of their oversight powers? Mainly because they wanted to. The lawmakers can play populist politics, tossing out hundreds of millions of dollars for new Iraqi hospitals, housing, garbage trucks, and business subsidies. They can thunder that their constituents - the American people - don't get federal money for such niceties, so why should Iraqis? Meanwhile, they know that Rumsfeld can use some of the slush-fund money - the "transfer funds" - to put them back in the budget, very low key, notifying the committees but not needing their permission. Responsibility is thus eluded, electoral-politics points are gained.
Well, maybe that's a little consolation for Rumsfeld's recent slap.

Israel equips submarines with nuclear weapons

Israel has equipped its fleet of submarines with nuclear weapons, according to a report in the LA Times. The US has given its blessing to this project. The Times' article provides an account of Israel's nuclear arsenal. It also discusses this new admission in light of US pressure against Iran and its nuclear program.

The next time anyone tries to tell you that the US is interested in "non-proliferation" or getting rid of WMD, feel free to spit in their face.


Update on Wilson/Plame-White House incident

First off, I salute The Agonist (in the commending way, not the one-finger way) for its daily updates on what is going on with the Plame/Wilson story. Good job, lads.

I have not been putting in so many updates on this matter myself for several reasons, the main one being that news on substantive developments about the case has slowed down to a trickle. The articles floating around now are mostly of the recap and speculative variety. In this respect, I stand by most of the analyses and speculation I offered in the first few days after the CIA requested the investigation (one link here, another below, keep reading) - primarily that people at the highest levels of the Bush administration (and probably Bush himself at some point) were involved and that only a "real" investigation, preferably led by an independent investigator, would be able to do what Bush wants to see done so much and "get to the bottom of this".

But it is important for the media to stay on this. And stuff is coming out that deserves comment - especially when it allows me to give myself a good pat on the back. From today's Agonist roundup, we get this John Dean commentary, which also provides a good timeline of some major events in the case. Importantly, Dean points out that the "White House need not have leaked to have committed a crime":
...even if the White House was not initially involved with the leak, it has exploited it. As a result, it may have opened itself to additional criminal charges under the federal conspiracy statute.

This elegantly simple law has snared countless people working for, or with, the federal government. Suppose a conspiracy is in progress. Even those who come in later, and who share in the purpose of the conspiracy, can become responsible for all that has gone on before they joined. They need not realize they are breaking the law; they need only have joined the conspiracy.

Most likely, in this instance the conspiracy would be a conspiracy to defraud - for the broad federal fraud statute, too, may apply here. If two federal government employees agree to undertake actions that are not within the scope of their employment, they can be found guilty of defrauding the U.S. by depriving it of the "faithful and honest services of its employee." It is difficult to imagine that President Bush is going to say he hired anyone to call reporters to wreak more havoc on Valerie Plame. Thus, anyone who did so - or helped another to do so - was acting outside the scope of his or her employment, and may be open to a fraud prosecution.
Good to see Dean - a former counsel to the president (even if he was a crook) - backing up a similar argument I made last month. I'm not a lawyer, but I know the law. The question is: why doesn't the fucking president know it, or why doesn't he care?

In other news, a group of Democratic senators has criticized the investigation to date and renewed demands for an independent prosecutor. The criticisms include the advanced warning the White House was given about the investigation, the delay in ordering White House staffers to preserve possible evidence relating to the case, Gonzales' screening of materials before passing them on, and the clear conflict of interest that Ashcroft - a Bush appointee - has in leading the investigation.

It is a good bet that none of the information turned over to investigators will incriminate anyone in the Bush administration. That is, the White House almost certainly did not turn over all the relevant information (assuming it even still exists), which can also be expressed as the White House has almost certainly held back incriminating information. With Ashcroft at the helm, I do not see the possibility of these documents making it into the hands of the public or DoJ/FBI investigators. That means it is up to one of the people on the outside to provide the information on the leaker. But in the current intellectual/moral climate of the United States, I would not be hopeful on that score.

He had balls?

A "BWAHAHA" moment from a slightly less evil site.

Israeli soldiers kill 7 Palestinians, including 2 children

The current Israeli raid into the Gaza refugee camp of Rafah has killed at least 7 Palestinians, including 2 children aged 8 and 12.

When some children die, that is a tragedy. When certain other ones die - well, let's just note that we don't even get the names of these children, much less pictures of them.

Other details from this latest invasion:
At least 50 Palestinians were reported injured in the ongoing operation, most of them when a helicopter fired a missile at a crowd. The IDF said the missile targeted a group of gunmen.

Residents said the IDF destroyed three houses near the border and fired machine guns to drive families away from others.
This latest operation is to laast for several more days.

The LA 8 and American civil liberties

The Nation carries a good article on the LA 8, who have been on a 16-year legal odyssey and now face deportation under the so-called "PATRIOT" Act for distributing magazines.


'Better Than You Probably Think'

Thats what Bush says. He also says "Americans are not the running kind." Sorry to burst your bubble, Bushie, but apparently, these Americans soldiers are exactly that! This is the problem with living in a country (the US) where people are so comfortable that military service represents a real dramatic drop in quality of life for them. The analysis of Osama and Saddam (a rare point of agreement) -- that decadent, spoiled, soft Americans are wieners when it comes to the will power to suffer their way through a war -- is ringing quite true.

Um, so with American soldiers safely sequestered in their bases begging the sattelite phone hotlines to bring them home, Iraqi resistance fighters of different colors went about taking care of some more of their "business."

Poor Shia Religious Fighters:
A suicide bomber took out a bunch of Iraqi cops. One wonders why bother with a suicide bombing, given that Iraqi police are such soft targets, but apparently some people really like to put on a show. My take is this demonstrates that the resistance movements (this one probably having some religious element to it) are having a very easy time recruiting volunteers and so those volunteers are quite expendable. In this case the incident took place in Shia territory, adding more credence to the theory that it was the work of a religious group and the bomber was a poor Sadr city dude. The US now has its hands full with the Shias too, whose militias have begun shooting small arms at the Americans while their clerics continue to excercise restraint, except that "restraint" has come to mean "please refrain from shooting down helicopters with your RPGs". update (10/10/03):
turns out that shooting was something of an ambush, in either case, it left 2 US soldiers dead, 4 wounded, and the military tight-lipped about exactly what went down. We do know that the Shia cleric Sadr was involved, which speaks to an important breach (which we knew was coming) between the Shia and the Americans.

Rich Sunni Secular Assassins:
Wonder about the Spaniard they killed? Guess where it happened? In the upscale Mansur neighboorhood. Where a US raid this past summer butchered several Iraqi families. Who was the victim? A Spanish spy, apparently, which is why the mainstream press will refer to him as a "diplomat". This hit represents a high level of sophistication and a high value target, and the guy (a trained soldier and spy) let the assassins into his home (he wasnt leaving his home as some people reported, he let the assassins in and then ran out of it and was shot down in the street). He was wearing nothing but boxers. This would generally indicate that resistance networks are highly confident, and have good intelligence (the hit occured shortly after the spaniards bodyguard had left). You also might wonder if there is any connection to this other handgun attack, only a week ago, that one happened in Mansur too! Watch for more handgun assasinations. They are brazen actions which indicate a high degree of political sophistication (and possibly some appreciation of the effect and design of other historically significant assassinations), and their propaganda effect is quite sensational. Thus the credit probably belongs to organizations of a secular nationalist type, possibly a small cell (or cells) of well-to-do students (the Baath party was built in universities).

And what does "responsibility" equal?

I know that every other blogger in the universe (at least those who don't have their heads in the sand about Iraq) has linked to this story - but the sheer genius of these occupation authority acts demands a reprise:
A more substantial assault on Saddam's legacy is under way in the Republican Palace, where the occupation authority is making preparations to dismantle the food distribution system which gave free rations of flour, rice, cooking oil and other staples to every Iraqi.

Described by the UN as the world's most efficient food network, the system still keeps Iraqis from going hungry. But the US civilian administrator of Iraq, Paul Bremer, views it as a dangerous socialist anachronism. The coalition provisional authority (CPA) is planning to abolish it in January, despite warnings from its own technical experts that this could lead to hunger and riots.

Behind the mosque five American military vehicles rumbled through a narrow lane, scattering children and women, and announcing through loudspeakers that demonstrations in support of Saddam were banned. Leaflets fluttered to the ground behind them. "Freedom = Responsibility", the headline said. A man with a baby in his arms stooped to pick one up and, staring straight at the US troops, ripped it in half.

The second-in-command at the information ministry, who spent his days reading the reports the minders wrote about visiting foreign journalists, has been employed by Fox News.
So, we have to get rid of food distribution, because that's a dangerous reminder of the bad old Saddam days. But, on the other hand, it is perfectly acceptable to use former Saddam-era intelligence officials and propagandists, because that's efficient and "necessary".

It seems that, if faced with hunger, Iraqis will do one of two things: either be compelled to work with the Americans in order to stay alive, or take up arms against the occupiers. Guns or butter, as the saying goes.

Well, I'm sure they'll transfer all that money that would have just been wasted on feeding hungry Iraqis to people who really need it - like Halliburton and Bechtel.

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