Friday, February 29, 2008

To Finish The Day

Have a bunny photo.

Drudge: Prince Harry

I suppose I have to mention this but not being the most fervent Royalist all you get is a link to the Guardian.

Harris County Texas. No Thank You

A story about a Texas DA wouldn't be a story I thought would have held a great of interest for me, but the more I read the more it did, and the more I read the more I felt like getting in the shower.

Good ol'boys, injustice and racism abound in Harris County Texas.

What an awful man, what an awful place.

Race, Justice, and Texas

Resignation doesn't end trouble for Houston's top prosecutor

In his 30-plus-year legal career in Harris County, Texas, Chuck Rosenthal has been no stranger to controversy. As a prosecutor he lit firecrackers in the stairwell of the district attorney's offices soon after the 1995 Oklahoma City bombings. (It was a prank, he said.) After he was elected DA in 2000 he called the death penalty a "biblical proposition" and lobbied unsuccessfully to maintain Texas's sodomy law. He defied a gag order to appear on "60 Minutes" in 2001 to defend his decision to seek the death penalty for Andrea Yates, the Houston housewife who drowned her five children.

Rosenthal is back in the headlines again. Last December, as part of a federal civil rights lawsuit into how justice is meted out in the county, he turned over the (partial) contents of his government e-mail account. And what a batch of e-mails it was. Black ministers called for the Republican to resign because of racist material, including a cartoon depicting an African-American suffering from a "fatal overdose" of watermelon and fried chicken. There were adult video clips and love notes from Rosenthal to his secretary, his mistress during a previous marriage. "I love you so much," Rosenthal says in one. "I want to kiss you behind your right ear," he says in another. "Go spend time with your family," she admonishes him back.more

McCain: Bitter Old Man

I wrote this the other day.

Boy oh boy oh boy, what a great choice for a republican nominee this election, a grey haired old man who is still pissed with the world over the bamboo shoots he had stuck under his fingernails...

Well it would appear I'm not the only one with a similar opinion.

John Aravosis gives us this on McCain but with a dollop of righteous indignation, even so his message is on the money.

It's not that long a piece so I will post it all.

"I hate the gooks" - John McCain

From the SF Chronicle during the 2000 campaign:
"I hate the gooks," McCain said yesterday in response to a question from reporters aboard his campaign bus. "I will hate them as long as I live."
Yeah, I get it, John McCain was held captive and tortured by the Vietnamese for five years. Well, you know what, a lot of people have personal trauma in their lives doled out to them by bad guys of every stripe, be they white or black or gay or Jewish or female. But we don't give those people the right to use racist and bigoted terms to describe an entire class of human beings, or even the specific people who hurt us. This goes a long way towards showing just how messed up Vietnam left John McCain, and why John McCain seems so willing to use racist attacks to take down Barack Obama. To McCain and the Republicans, Obama is just another "gook."

Oh, and just to be clear, the Somalians who dragged the lifeless bodies of US service members behind their trucks in 1993 after their Black Hawk helicopter was shot down, does McCain think it would be okay to call them "n-ggers" or "sand n-ggers"? (Or didn't those US service members suffer as much as John McCain?) Or how about the Israelis troops who blew up the USS Liberty, killing 34 American service members in 1967, does Senator McCain think it's appropriate to call them "k-kes"? Is attempted presidential assassin Squeaky Fromm a "c-nt"? I'm quite serious.

Now, I'll bet John McCain would refuse to even answer the question because he'd say it's absurd, of course he wouldn't condone any of those words (at least that's what he'd say for public consumption). But when the victim of the slur is Asian, and the victim of the crime is John McCain, suddenly it's okay for John McCain to spout racism because John McCain would have you believe that he's the only American, the only soldier, to ever have suffered. He was tortured, you know. And he doesn't plan on ever letting you forget it.source

I came across this, I don't suppose it will ever amount to much but it may be of interest to American readers.

McCain’s Canal Zone Birth Prompts Queries About Whether That Rules Him Out

WASHINGTON — The question has nagged at the parents of Americans born outside the continental United States for generations: Dare their children aspire to grow up and become president? In the case of Senator John McCain of Arizona, the issue is becoming more than a matter of parental daydreaming.

Mr. McCain’s likely nomination as the Republican candidate for president and the happenstance of his birth in the Panama Canal Zone in 1936 are reviving a musty debate that has surfaced periodically since the founders first set quill to parchment and declared that only a “natural-born citizen” can hold the nation’s highest office.more NYT

German Centre Shelters Muslim Women From Murder

And murder it is, there is not the slightest bit of "honour" in the killing of women that don't want to live in a society that is still stuck in eight century.

With it's large Turkish population Germany has it's own problems with this abomination.

All but one of the boys - of Turkish, Kurdish and Palestinian origin - were born in Germany.

They wore jeans and T-shirts and their hair glistened with styling gel. One sported a gold earring.

With their playful jostling, they seemed like teenagers in any Western backdrop, except for one thing: they swore they would kill their own sisters if any of them had sex before marriage.

The boys were convinced that that would destroy their families' honour.

By coincidence, I had just attended a summit on the thorny subject of integration, where a female politician of Turkish descent had appealed for state support for a local organisation that rescues young women fleeing forced marriage, or the threat of an honour killing.more
Graphic Hatun Durucu. For similar stories search Women In Islam label.

More Cartoon Capers: Film Thrown In For Luck

Here we go again.
Muslim anger mounts over cartoons, movie

Outrage continued to rise this week in parts of the Muslim world over the depiction of Islam in Danish newspapers earlier this month and the possible release of a film in the Netherlands critical of the religion.

Muslims in Sudan, Pakistan, Turkey, the Middle East, and other parts of the Islamic world, have been angered over the republication of one cartoon from a 2005 series that satirized Islam's prophet Muhammad. Muslims regard visual depictions of the prophet Muhammad as blasphemous.

Governments in Europe are also bracing for protests against the possible broadcast of an anti-Islamic film by right-wing Dutch parliamentarian Geert Wilders that links Islam to violence. Mr. Wilders says the film, which he plans to broadcast on the Internet and possibly television, will be finished Sunday, Reuters reports. Pakistan's YouTube shutdown last weekend has been attributed in part to the film's appearance on the video-sharing website.

In Sudan, President Omar al-Bashir said Wednesday that Danes would be banned from Sudan and the Danish peacekeeping force faced possible expulsion. He was speaking before a crowd of tens of thousands denouncing Denmark during a government-backed protest against the republications of the cartoons, reports the Associated Press.

"We urge all Muslims around the world to boycott Danish commodities, goods, companies, institutions, organizations and personalities," Al-Bashir told the crowd.

Mr. Bashir's Islamist government has used other perceived insults to the prophet to bolster support for the regime and oppose the acceptance of United Nations peacekeepers in Sudan.

Denmark's foreign aid minister said Thursday she was considering whether Sudan's call could have an impact on aid to Sudan, South Africa's Independent Online reports. Sudan is one of the largest recipients of aid from Denmark.more CSM

Exxon Valdez And The Exxon Friendly US Supreme Court


Exxon Mobil, the giant oil corporation appearing before the Supreme Court yesterday, had earned a profit of nearly $40 billion in 2006, the largest ever reported by a U.S. company -- but that's not what bothered Roberts. What bothered the chief justice was that Exxon was being ordered to pay $2.5 billion -- roughly three weeks' worth of profits -- for destroying a long swath of the Alaska coastline in the largest oil spill in American history.

"So what can a corporation do to protect itself against punitive-damages awards such as this?" Roberts asked in court.

The lawyer arguing for the Alaska fishermen affected by the spill, Jeffrey Fisher, had an idea. "Well," he said, "it can hire fit and competent people."

The rare sound of laughter rippled through the august chamber. The chief justice did not look amused.

Perhaps, though, his consternation was misplaced. Everybody knows the wheels of justice turn slowly, but in the case of the 1989 Exxon Valdez spill, things have dragged on so long that Lady Justice's blindness could reasonably be attributed to cataracts.more

Or there is this report from the Mail UK.

Almost 33,000 Alaskan victims of the disastrous Exxon Valdez oil spill could see their court-ordered payments reduced by more than half, to about $30,000 (£15,00) each.

Exxon Mobil Corporation has fought a long legal battle over punitive damages, and could receive a partial victory in the Supreme Court if justices agree with their arguments.

The justices reached no firm conclusions in court yestersday, but they appeared to agree with Exxon that the $2.5 billion (£1.25 billion), or $75,000 (£37,750) a person, ordered by a federal court is excessive punishment for the massive 1989 spill.more

Prison Nation Breaks The One In A Hundred Barrier

Without trying to state the obvious Prison Nation is in dire need of reform but as long as the pols are more concerned with appearances or more specifically "Not wanting to appear to be soft on ******" Put whatever subject you like in the space, then I can't see anything changing in a hurry.

As anybody with a bit of sense knows the dramatic increase in prison population is not the result of the country's stormtroopers doing a sterling job and arresting bad guys, it's the result of every schmuck and his missus being tossed in the hoosegow for obscene lengths of time for committing the slightest misdemeanour or being found in possession of the smallest amounts of substances.

Nobody but nobody in any country in the world should be locked up for personal possession, instead we see families ripped apart, kids taken into custody and lives ruined forever, for what?

For nothing, or at worst for having a drug of choice other than the state sponsored narcotics of alcohol or nicotine.

NEW YORK (AP) -- For the first time in history, more than one in every 100 American adults is in jail or prison, according to a new report tracking the surge in inmate population and urging states to rein in corrections costs with alternative sentencing programs.

The report, released Thursday by the Pew Center on the States, said the 50 states spent more than $49 billion on corrections last year, up from less than $11 billion 20 years earlier. The rate of increase for prison costs was six times greater than for higher education spending, the report said.

Using updated state-by-state data, the report said 2,319,258 adults were held in U.S. prisons or jails at the start of 2008 - one out of every 99.1 adults, and more than any other country in the world.

The steadily growing inmate population "is saddling cash-strapped states with soaring costs they can ill afford and failing to have a clear impact either on recidivism or overall crime," said the report.

Susan Urahn, managing director of the Pew Center on the States, said budget woes are prompting officials in many states to consider new, cost-saving corrections policies that might have been shunned in the recent past for fear of appearing soft in crime.more

UK Ch4 ten minutes America's Brutal Prisons.

On This Day February 29th


Thousands dead in Moroccan quake. Trudeau resigns. Sarajevo siege lifted. Hopes for peace in middle East (1956) if things don't change they'll stop as they are. and other

Thursday, February 28, 2008

My Kind Of Jail

This is a better closer for the day.

JUVENILE delinquents had a "sex romp" at a detention centre after staff accidentally left security doors unlocked.

Boys were able to sneak into a girls' dormitory at the Don Dale centre in Darwin after dark.

"About six inmates" - aged between 15 and 17 - took part in the Valentine's Day orgy, the Northern Territory News was told yesterday.

Police were brought in to question the inmates.

A Territory mother said she was "furious" when her 15-year-old son - who is serving three months for a minor crime - told her he had taken part in the jailhouse sex escapade.

"He told me that they had all had sex in the one room - it was a big Valentine's Day sex romp," the 31-year-old mother said.

"The staff on duty that night left the doors open.

"My son said that police had come in and questioned him and some of the girls involved.

"I was furious. No parents have been contacted about this - it had all been kept very hush-hush."more

They Marry You For What You Are And Then They Try To Change You

I have been searching for something funny to finish the day with, something dumb will have to suffice.

Devil worshipping rapist attacks his prison visitor fiancee
A DEVOUTLY religious prison visitor who fell in love with a convicted rapist serving life at a Yorkshire jail was attacked at knifepoint after she ended their relationship.

The West Yorkshire woman fell for the man while he was in Wakefield Prison.

The middle-aged woman visited him for two-hours once a fortnight at jails across the UK until his release on licence to a hostel.

Soon he was spending weekends at her home and they became engaged.

But the woman, who cannot be identified, told a jury the man would go "absolutely crazy" when he could only have sex with her two to three times a week.

She spoke of her terror when he allegedly attacked her with a carving knife at her home after she told him they were finished.

"He held the knife to my throat and said: 'well, this might make you change your mind.' As soon as I saw the knife I said oh please God no.more

Female Aid Worker Most Likely Murdered in Afghanistan

I suppose I am as guilty as a good number of people of becoming inured to the news of the horrendous amount of people being killed in the Middle East and Palestine but it is always with sadness when I read of the murder of brave women, far braver than I, that seemingly for altruistic motives alone risk all by venturing to some of the most dangerous places on earth.
I cannot even begin to comprehend the fear and terror that these poor souls would have had to endure before meeting their demise at the hands of these misogynist thugs.

Abducted American female aid worker in Afghanistan killed

KABUL, Feb. 27 (Xinhua) -- Cyd Mizell, an American female worker with a relief organization ARLDF, and her driver, who were kidnapped by unknown militants in southern Afghanistan last month,have been killed, the organization said in a statement issued Wednesday.

"We are deeply grieved to report the apparent deaths of Muhammad Hadi and Cyd Mizell, Asian Rural Life Development Foundation ARLDF) workers who were kidnapped by gunmen Jan. 26 in Kandahar, Afghanistan," said the statement posted on its website.

The organization said it has no confirmation of their deaths, however, adding "we have received information over the past few days indicating that our two aid workers have been killed."

Hadi, a resident of Kandahar, had served as an ARLDF driver for two years and was the father of five children, according to the statement.

Mizell, 50, a native of Eureka, California, had lived in Kandahar where "she taught English to high school students and helped women learn income-producing skills such as sewing and embroidery," it said.

ARLDF said Mizell also assisted in other ARLDF-related efforts in the area, which include food-for-work projects, irrigation, rehabilitation, health care and restoration projects.

Two weeks ago, Mizell's father has called on the unknown kidnappers to release his daughter through a public message.

Kidnappings of foreigners have become a common scene in remote regions especially in southern Afghanistan, where anti-government militants usually launched guerrilla-style attacks on Afghan government and international troops.

Traveling by land in southern Afghanistan has been considered most dangerous especially for foreigners as the past months have seen several kidnappings in the region. source

The Priorities Of David Vitter


Not the most sparkling piece of writing I have come across but the content matters.

David Vitter is Thinking About Your Granddaughter's Vagina

In these days of war and economic collapse it's easy to lose sight of what's really important: American Indians in the future getting abortions.

That's why the United States Senate is lucky to have farsighted men like Louisiana's David Vitter. To think about the long-range stuff. Not just what we can tell women to do with their bodies today, but what we can tell the women of tomorrow to do forever.more

On This Day February 28th


Sweden's PM shot dead. Gulf One ceasefire. Death toll in Selby train crash. Death toll in Moorgate tube crash. and other

Chavez's Efforts Pay Off. Four Hostages Released


There are an awful lot more being held captive but fair play to you Hugo it's a start. No doubt there will be another black mark chalked up in the Whitehouse against dear old Chavez, humanity is not something that is in the Neocon handbook.

Marxist rebels freed four Colombian hostages from their "living death" in the jungle on Wednesday in a victory for Venezuela's leftist President Hugo Chavez, who brokered the deal.

Venezuelan helicopters painted with Red Cross logos swooped into dense jungle, picked up the four lawmakers -- all taken by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, more than six years ago -- and flew them to Venezuela.

"I was the living dead but today ... I am happy, lucky, radiant," ex-hostage Gloria Polanco said. She carried long-stemmed flowers for her three children, adding between sobs, "It's the only thing I can take from the jungle."

Flanked by armed rebels, the three men and Polanco trekked down a muddy slope of a jungle clearing near this steamy town and pumped their hands in the air to celebrate their release by Latin America's oldest insurgency.

They appeared generally in sound health, although one of the men, who had suffered heart problems, looked gaunt.more

Fears grow for Farc sick hostage BBC

United States Air Force AKA The Ministry Of Truth


I don't know if it's the way I look at life and as such look at this story with utter amazement and shear disbelief or is this just another example of Orwellian America that I, and you, should take in our stride.

We trust you with a multi-million dollar war plane and trust you to blow shit out of things and kill people by the hundred, but we don't trust you to read a fucking blog!

Perhaps it's me.

And talking of the USAF, here's a bit of something I featured previously.
The Air Force is tightening restrictions on which blogs its troops can read, cutting off access to just about any independent site with the word "blog" in its web address. It's the latest move in a larger struggle within the military over the value -- and hazards -- of the sites. At least one senior Air Force official calls the squeeze so "utterly stupid, it makes me want to scream."

Until recently, each major command of the Air Force had some control over what sites their troops could visit, the Air Force Times reports. Then the Air Force Network Operations Center, under the service's new "Cyber Command," took over.

AFNOC has imposed bans on all sites with "blog" in their URLs, thus cutting off any sites hosted by Blogspot. Other blogs, and sites in general, are blocked based on content reviews performed at the base, command and AFNOC level ...

The idea isn't to keep airmen in the dark -- they can still access news sources that are "primary, official-use sources," said Maj. Henry Schott, A5 for Air Force Network Operations. "Basically ... if it's a place like The New York Times, an established, reputable media outlet, then it's fairly cut and dry that that's a good source, an authorized source," he said ...

AFNOC blocks sites by using Blue Coat software, which categorizes sites based on their content and allows users to block sub-categories as they choose.

"Often, we block first and then review exceptions," said Tech. Sgt. Christopher DeWitt, a Cyber Command spokesman.

As a result, airmen posting online have cited instances of seemingly innocuous sites -- such as educational databases and some work-related sites -- getting wrapped up in broad proxy filters.more

Christianity Under Attack. Stop Please!


Watching "reply" videos on YouTube is not something I generally make a habit of, the main reason is that they are usually constituted of a shit fer brains tosser sat in front of a web cam and having an uninformed or biased rant that would have everybody but the most ardent masochist reaching for the off button.

However, for reasons unknown, I did, and in doing so I learnt a little more about Nicole Smalkowski and her family. Nicole being the sixteen year old girl that encountered all kinds of harassment at school for declaring herself an atheist. (see previous immediately preceding this post.)

The "reply" given by a young man with the moniker KingHeathen was none of the above and was indeed quite watchable.
It was at the five minute twenty mark of this six minute clip that I had a WTF moment when KingHeathen talked about charges against the Smallowskis and how they would be dropped if they the Smallowskis sold up, lock stock and barrel and moved out of the state.
Enough to give anyone a WTF moment I would have thought.

I didn't have to do much digging to come up with the story dated June 06, not exactly breaking news nonetheless news to me.
So I put this story in front of you and I shall have another trawl to see if the Smallowskis did bring a threatened law suit and if they did, the outcome.

When her father Chuck (Smallowski) discovered conclusively that public school and law enforcement officials had lied to him about his 15 year old daughter, he and Nicole and her mother Nadia went to the home of principal Lloyd Buckley to attempt to discuss the matter with him. Outside of his front fence, the principal struck Chuck, who blocked the blow. Both men fell to the ground and Buckley sustained minor injuries, the provable origins of which were strikingly contrary to his under oath trial testimony. Buckley then took out misdemeanor criminal assault charges against Chuck. After Smalkowski rejected the offer to drop the charges if he and his Atheist family left the state, the charges were raised to a felony. Chuck called American Atheists for help.

WTF indeed. But then this pearl below, given that the good Christian school officials and the good Christian cops lied their arses off it does in fact become more than a pearl, it's what we in England would describe as "magic" a term possibly truncated from a "magic moment" but don't quote me on that.

Edwin (defence team) introduced himself to the jury as National Legal Director for American Atheists and asked the prospective jury in the Oklahoma panhandle if they could accept the testimony of an Atheist over that of a professed Christian. When the jury looked at him blankly, the judge asked the prospects if they understood the question.

One woman spoke for many in the group by asking "What is an Atheist?" Edwin explained that an Atheist was a person who did not believe in a god or gods or in a supernatural world, and that the defendant and his entire family were such persons. Many of the prospects said they could not believe such a person over a Christian and were struck for cause. To their credit, many members of the jury panel, including two ministers' wives, told the judge they could not be fair to an Atheist in such a situation and were excused.more

KingHeathen's six minute reply.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

"I was ashamed to be an American today"

Staying with the creationist nonsense, I bookmarked this first amateur video, shot outside the Fred and Wilma museum of Ken Ham.

At the three minute mark, you will see where I got the title, for this post from. Six minutes total.

I also bookmarked it because at the four and a half minute mark, is a guy I remember as being the father of a sixteen year old schoolgirl, who came out as an atheist in some god forsaken hick town in Oklahoma. Her story in the second video, about nine minutes in total.

And here is a three minute clip of the problems faced by an atheist couple from Mississippi.

Science News: Sea Reptile is Biggest on Record


I have to admit when I read stories like this or perhaps some startling discovery in the universe that I get a bit of a grrrrrr moment.

Why so? well I cannot help think about all the stupid kids being home schooled by even stupider parents.

I used to wonder what kind of explanation these fundamentalist child abusers gave to their kids when say for instance a story like this came on the news.
As I have learnt more about home schooling that question has since been answered, the kids never get the opportunity to see or read anything that doesn't fit in with creation/young earth dogma.

How conceited, arrogant and demented can these wankers be, with a universe that is 156 billion light years across was put there for us, with us only in mind by some celestial all hearing all knowing super being.

It's criminal and the fuckers should be locked up for denying their kids, if not an education, then at least for denying them the truth and the wonders of evolution and the glory of science and the universe.

A fossilised "sea monster" unearthed on an Arctic island is the largest marine reptile known to science, Norwegian scientists have announced.

The 150 million-year-old specimen was found on Spitspergen, in the Arctic island chain of Svalbard, in 2006.

The Jurassic-era leviathan is one of 40 sea reptiles from a fossil "treasure trove" uncovered on the island.

Nicknamed "The Monster", the immense creature would have measured 15m (50ft) from nose to tail......................

"We have carried out a search of the literature, so we now know that we have the biggest [pliosaur]. It's not just arm-waving anymore," Dr Hurum told the BBC News website.

"The flipper is 3m long with very few parts missing. On Monday, we assembled all the bones in our basement and we amazed ourselves - we had never seen it together before."more

Thanks to Iomi for the uppermost and the timeline graphic, I came across her post Dinosaur Adventure land whilst looking for yet another picture, which kind of endorses my rant somewhat.

World Wheat Crisis: Three Reports

This is not something I would normally cover but the potential for a humanitarian disaster doesn't seem unlikely.

What I find morally indefensible with half the world starving is the use of foodstuffs to produce bio-fuels and grain to feed cattle.
Figures for this in the Times article.


THE world is only ten weeks away from running out of wheat supplies after stocks fell to their lowest levels for 50 years.

The crisis has pushed prices to an all-time high and could lead to further hikes in the price of bread, beer, biscuits and other basic foods. Times


For some U.S. crops, it‘s almost too late. The 2007 U.S. wheat crop is virtually sold out, while domestic soybean stocks soon will fall below a 20-day supply. Corn inventories are stronger but with demand from export markets, the livestock industry and ethanol plants, supplies also could be just as scarce for the 2008 crop. Hoosier Ag Today

Wheat prices have hit record highs and tight supplies of the staple crop have ignited concern about rising food costs.

The price of higher-quality spring wheat jumped almost 25% on Monday - the biggest one-day increase to date. BBC

Update:Scientists say they have made a key breakthrough in understanding the genes of plants that could lead to crops that can survive in a drought. BBC

Inside the Fires of Imperialism by Manuel Valenzuela

In what was initially designed to be a trilogy of essays by Manuel Valenzuela, (he now informs us of an extra writing) the writer gives us, in a somewhat less passionate style than his two previous essays, his views on, in the main, the American Empire's involvement in the Middle East.

That said it is nonetheless a very worthy read and, being a self confessed admirer of Hugo Chavez. Whether you agree with me or not about Hugo, he stills falls into the, enemy of my enemy is my friend, category. I am going to offer up as a taster a part of Valenzuela's writing on the subject of dear old Hugo.

Before I do I have to make mention of Mister Valenzuela's first piece in this series.
Whether it was the content or the passion with which it was written that so appealed to me I care not analyse, but I thought Homeland Born And Bred was the best thing I had read in years but unfortunately like many great writings, and in my opinion only, so difficult to follow.

Chavez has become the exception, not the rule, to the Empire’s demand that a nation’s oil not be used for the good of the people. He has not sold out his nation, and his people, to the dictates of the Empire. With enormous reserves of proven oil, said to rival or even surpass those of Saudi Arabia, Venezuela is an obvious choice for American intervention, and will most likely become a victim of the Empire’s hegemony before too long. Its intransigence against the Empire’s commands will not be tolerated much longer.

Its crime, indeed, Hugo Chavez’s crime, which no oil-rich nation or leader is allowed to commit, is redistribute the nation’s oil profits to its citizens and to the state’s growing treasury. Venezuela’s crime, and why she is now a target of the Empire, is having the audacity to use its own resources for the betterment of the population, and the state itself. What has made the Bolivarian state a pariah of the Empire, placed in the waiting line for the Empire’s firing squad, is that it refused to comply or sacrifice its people to the demands of America. Her great error, in the minds of the American establishment, was to destroy the cancer of neoliberal economics, the so-called Washington Consensus, the disaster of debauched capitalism and market colonialism. For this indiscretion, together with its decision to keep oil revenues within the interests of the nation, instead of allowing American energy conglomerates to pillage oil and revenues, Venezuela is now a target of American hegemony.more

America. Torture Inc. A Taxi To The Dark Side


In December 2002, a 22-year-old Afghan taxi driver named Dilawar was picked up and delivered to the Bagram Air Force Base prison. Five days later, he was dead. Sgt. Thomas Curtis, one of the Military Police at Bagram, remembers, “There was definitely a sense of concern because he was the second one. You wonder, was it something we did?”

As detailed in Alex Gibney’s devastating documentary, Taxi to the Dark Side, Dilawar’s demise was officially termed a homicide, like the first detainee to die at Bagram, Habibullah. Captured by a warlord and handed over to the U.S. just days before Dilawar, Habibullah as deemed “an important prisoner,” hooded, shackled, and isolated, periodically beaten for “noncompliance.”

Autopsies showed that Dilawar and Habibullah suffered similar abuses, including deep bruises all over their bodies; according to the Army coroner, Dilawar suffered “massive tissue damage to his legs… his legs had been pulpified.” And yet, despite initial concerns among the guards and interrogators at Bagram over an investigation, instead, the officer in charge of interrogation at the prison, Captain Carolyn Wood, was awarded a Bronze Star for Valor and, following the Iraq invasion in 2003, she and her unit were sent to Abu Ghraib.

Not least among these is the pronouncement by Dick Cheney that motivates Taxi‘s title, made during an appearance on Meet the Press during the week after 9/11. Describing imminent changes in interrogation policies, the vice president asserted,

We have to work sort of the dark side, if you will, spend time in the shadows in the intelligence world. A lot of what needs to be done here will have to be done quietly, without any discussion, using sources and methods available to our intelligence agencies, if we’re going to be successful. That’s the world these folks operate in. It’ll be vital for us to use any means at our disposal, basically, to achieve our objective.

This working of the “dark side” would be both notorious and secret,More

Three minute trailer.

Full documentary, 78 minutes.

Amy Goodman talks to filmmaker Alex Gibney. 6mins

Torture Messing With The Torturers

I think any of us that possess the slightest degree of decency and humanity will be able to empathise with Mr H.

Meanwhile, according to Smith, "this good Catholic man with a family who had pretty much always followed the rules" was called on to participate in torture. One of his jobs was "to take detainees to certain places and see that they were handcuffed in difficult positions, usually naked, in anticipation of interrogation." Mr. H often watched the questioning. He saw prisoners pushed until they fell down, then cut. They responded to the torture with "defecation, vomiting, urinating," and "psychotic reactions: bizarre screaming and crying."

Smith noted that Mr. H said he was "required to handcuff and push to the ground detainees who were naked." The prisoners were also made to "remain on sharp stones on their knees." Detainees, Mr. H told Smith, would try to avoid interrogation by rubbing their knees until they bled in order be taken to the prison hospital more

On This Day February 27th


Muslims torch Hindu train 57 dead. IRA link in cop shooting. De Gaulle assassin. Simple English and other.

Well He Would Wouldn't He: Huckabee Endorses "Personhood"


Boy oh boy oh boy, what a great choice for a republican nominee this election, a grey haired old man who is still pissed with the world over the bamboo shoots he had stuck under his fingernails or a batshit crazy Jesus freak who firmly believes Adam and Eve were real people and evolution never happened.

Surely to Christ it has to be a Democrat in the Whitehouse this time, surely?


Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee on Monday endorsed a proposed Colorado Human Life Amendment that would define personhood as a fertilized egg.

The former Arkansas governor and Baptist minister also supports a human-life amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

Huckabee spoke favorably about the Colorado ballot initiative, sponsored by 20-year-old Kristi Burton and her Colorado for Equal Rights group, during his Friday visit to Colorado Springs.

On Monday, Huckabee lent official support to the measure.

"This proposed constitutional amendment will define a person as a human being from the moment life begins at conception," Huckabee said in a statement.

"With this amendment, Colorado has an opportunity to send a clear message that every human life has value," Huckabee said. "Passing this amendment will mean the people of Colorado will protect the sanctity of life from conception until natural death occurs."

Burton's initiative, if approved by voters in November, would extend state constitutional protections to every fertilized egg, guaranteeing the right to life, liberty, equality of justice and due process of law.

Approval would lay the foundation for making abortion illegal in the state.more


Something Novel: Earth Tremor NW England

Had a tremor here about a half hour ago, I didn't know what on earth it was, It's not something I have ever experienced before. Maybe have something further in the morn.

Report and videos.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Iraq: Fragmented, Failing And A Funding Fiasco


How on earth anybody, present or future, can be expected to sort this mess out I do not know, it's a clusterfuck beyond compare.

The Calm Before the Conflagration

The United States is funding and in many cases arming the three ethnic factions in Iraq-the Kurds, the Shiites and the Sunni Arabs. These factions rule over partitioned patches of Iraqi territory and brutally purge rival ethnic groups from their midst. Iraq no longer exists as a unified state.

It is a series of heavily armed fiefdoms run by thugs, gangs, militias, radical Islamists and warlords who are often paid wages of $300 a month by the U.S. military. Iraq is Yugoslavia before the storm. It is a caldron of weapons, lawlessness, hate and criminality that is destined to implode. And the current U.S. policy, born of desperation and defeat, means that when Iraq goes up, the U.S. military will have to scurry like rats for cover.

The supporters of the war, from the Bush White House to Sen. John McCain, tout the surge as the magic solution. But the surge, which primarily deployed 30,000 troops in and around Baghdad, did little to thwart the sectarian violence.

The decline in attacks began only when we bought off the Sunni Arabs. U.S. commanders in the bleak fall of 2006 had little choice. It was that or defeat. The steady rise in U.S. casualties, the massive car bombs that tore apart city squares in Baghdad and left hundreds dead, the brutal ethnic cleansing that was creating independent ethnic enclaves beyond our control throughout Iraq, the death squads that carried out mass executions and a central government that was as corrupt as it was impotent signaled catastrophic failure.more

Death Sentence For Afghan Journo After Four Minute "Trial"


An Afghan reporter sentenced to death after downloading an article from the internet on women's rights has said his trial lasted just four minutes.

Pervez Kambaksh, 23, told the UK's Independent newspaper from his prison cell he was denied access to a lawyer and not allowed to defend himself.

His appeal against the death sentence is pending.more

Previous and story.

FIA Demand For Blair's War Cabinet Minutes


I think "War Cabinet" might be a misnomer, the decision to go to war was a fait accompli and I think half the cabinet were spun lies and bullshit if only by omission.

Those that were privy to the doubts over the legality of going to war would just be the inner circle of the Blair gang, and who would be included in that little cadre? well "Mister Broown" our present fearless leader. Just as complicit, just as dirty.

Should be interesting to see where this goes.

The government has been told to release the minutes of two cabinet meetings in the days before the Iraq war.

The demand came from Information Commissioner Richard Thomas after a Freedom of Information request was rejected by the Cabinet Office.

He said disclosure would "allow the public to more fully understand this particular decision of the cabinet".

The Cabinet Office has 35 days to appeal against the decision and is said to be "considering" its response.

In his ruling, Mr Thomas says the minutes had to be released to help "transparency and public understanding of the relevant issues". more