Tuesday, September 29, 2009
U.S. and Iraqi militaries have launched a massive manhunt for 16 al-Qaeda members who broke out of a jail in Tikrit, the former home town of deposed president Saddam Hussein.
The jail break occurred Wednesday night when seventeen prisoners, five of them on death row, climbed out of a small bathroom window to freedom. Eight of the prisoners, including three on death row, have since been caught.
Search parties, planes, and dogs are combing the area surrounding Tikrit, which is about 100 miles (170 kilometers) north of the capital Baghdad for the remainder of the escapees.
U.S. military officials say they are providing aerial surveillance and search dogs for the manhunt.
Road-blocks have been set up for all roads going to and from Tikrit. The border crossing with Syria is also under close surveillance.
In compliance with a International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) requirement, Iran revealed the existence of the new plant this month and has agreed to allow U.N. inspectors access to it. While the British report states that "diplomatic sources said it could hold 3,000 centrifuges, capable of making enough enriched uranium to build a nuclear bomb each year," the IAEA reports that nuclear material has not yet been added. The IAEA says that the data they have been given suggests that as with the existing Nanatz facility, the new site is only designed to enrich uranium to 5%, useful for energy production at the nation's Bushehr power plant but not for military purposes. See: http://news.antiwar.com/2009/09/25/as-required-iran-informs-iaea-about-new-enrichment-site/.
The most direct route for the Israeli air force to attack Iran would be over Iraq, but Israeli F-15I and F-16I jets would still be well-within range of Iran after flying over Saudi air space. Such a move may also circumvent some political pressure from the U.S.
Now we found someone who was made to believe he could kill people with an asshole bomb, and so it follows that the TSA will have to ban -- or at least inspect -- our assholes. They're like opinions, you know, everybody's got one. Except, of course, most of us got to keep our assholes to ourselves. Not anymore.
Let's just be thankful that no one has yet convinced a suicidal murderer that he could blow up a plane with his mind, because once that happens, we're all in for mandatory airport trepannations. Because, you know, you can't be too safe. Every little bit helps. If an unhinged suicide bomber believes it's possible, we must take it seriously. To do less would be irresponsible.
For years, I have made the joke about Richard Reid: "Just be glad that he wasn't the underwear bomber." Now, sadly, we have an example of one.Ass Bomber
Lewis Page, an "improvised-device disposal operator tasked in support of the UK mainland police from 2001-2004," pointed out that this isn't much of a threat for three reasons: 1) you can't stuff a lot of explosives into a body cavity, 2) detonation is, um, problematic, and 3) the human body can stifle an explosion pretty effectively (think of someone throwing himself on a grenade to save his friends).
But who ever accused the TSA of being rational?
In rememberance of political columnist William Safire, who died yesterday at the age of 79, we present his favorite New Yorker cartoon. Even though this cartoon by Chon Day was published in April 1945, the recent financial meltdown for which nobody seems responsible makes it timely today.
In recent days, the Washington Post, the New York Times and other major news outlets have recounted the "troubled" history of the poor people's advocacy group ACORN, but left out the five-year anti-ACORN campaign led by White House adviser Karl Rove and other Republican operatives.
Dropped down the memory hole is the fact that ACORN was at the center of the so-called "prosecutor-gate" scandal, when the Bush administration pressured U.S. Attorneys to bring indictments over the grassroots group's voter-registration drives and then fired some prosecutors who resisted what they viewed as a partisan strategy not supported by solid evidence.
The latest furor over ACORN was touched off by conservative filmmaker James E. O'Keefe III and a right-wing columnist who posed as a couple planning to buy a house for use as a brothel and getting advice from a few ACORN employees, rather than being turned away.
The pair filmed their meetings at ACORN offices with a hidden-camera, producing a video that brought to a fever pitch the long-simmering Republican war against ACORN. The video was trumpeted by Fox News and other right-wing news outlets, starting a stampede in the mainstream press and in Congress, where a majority of panicked Democrats joined the herd in approving legislation to strip ACORN of federal funds.
The stampede, which trampled ACORN and its mostly black and Hispanic organizing staff, soon pulled in President Barack Obama, who often has touted his work as a community organizer in his youth. In an interview last Sunday on ABC's "This Week," Obama told host George Stephanopoulos that ACORN "deserves to be investigated."
Yet, while bending to Republican demands to speak out against a poor people's group, Obama continued to resist the notion that powerful Republicans from the Bush administration deserved to be investigated for authorizing the use of torture against prisoners in the "war on terror."
Last March, Sally Harpold, an Indiana grandmother of triplets, bought two boxes of cold medication in less than a week. Together, the two boxes contained 3.6 grams of pseudoephedrine, putting her in violation of the state's methamphetamine-fighting law, which forbids the purchase of more than three grams by one person in a seven-day period.
Police came to Harpold's home, arrested and handcuffed her, and booked her in a Vermillion County jail. No one believes Harpold was making meth or aiding anyone who was. But local authorities aren't apologizing for her arrest.
"I don't want to go there again," [Vermillion County Prosecutor Nina] Alexander told the Tribune-Star, recalling how the manufacture and abuse of methamphetamine ravaged the tiny county and its families.
While the law was written with the intent of stopping people from purchasing large quantities of drugs to make methamphetamine, the law does not say the purchase must be made with the intent to make meth.
"The law does not make this distinction," Alexander said
Just as with any law, the public has the responsibility to know what is legal and what is not, and ignorance of the law is no excuse, the prosecutor said.
"I'm simply enforcing the law as it was written," Alexander said
It is up to customers to pay attention to their purchase amounts, and to check medication labels, Alexander said.
"If you take these products, you ought to know what's in them," she said.
Harpold's photo was put on the front page of the local paper as part of an article about the arrest of 17 people in a "drug sweep." Alexander has generously allowed Harpold to enter a deferral program. If she commits no crimes in the next 30 days, her arrest will be wiped from her record. She'll still have to pay court costs and attorney fees.
I'll leave it to Vigo County Sheriff Jon Marvel to (unintentionally) put an exclamation point on the absurdity.
"Sometimes mistakes happen," Marvel said. "It's unfortunate. But for the good of everyone, the law was put into effect.
"I feel for her, but if she could go to one of the area hospitals and see a baby born to a meth-addicted mother "
Because clearly the best way to prevent meth-addicted babies is to arrest women who buy cold medication for their grandchildren.
...fighting for truth, justice and the American way...
Republicans on the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence said Friday that they will no longer participate in an investigation into the Bush administration's interrogation policies, arguing that Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr.'s decision to reexamine allegations of detainee abuse by the CIA would hobble any inquiry.
The intelligence committee launched a review in March of CIA interrogations of high-value detainees such as Khalid Sheik Mohammed, who describes himself as the mastermind of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. Senate staffers are poring over hundreds of thousands of classified documents to probe the history and effectiveness of the CIA program, as well as congressional oversight of agency practices.
Last month, Holder appointed a career prosecutor to review allegations of detainee abuse by CIA operatives, but he stressed that neither the review nor any full investigation, should it follow, means that criminal charges are inevitable.
"Had Mr. Holder honored the pledge made by the President to look forward, not backwards, we would still be active participants in the Committee's review," the ranking Republican on the intelligence panel, Sen. Christopher S. Bond of Missouri, said in a statement. "What current or former CIA employee would be willing to gamble his freedom by answering the Committee's questions? Indeed, forcing these terror fighters to make this choice is neither fair nor just."
The Justice Department, as is its practice, asked the committee not to provide immunity to any witnesses, according to a source on Capitol Hill who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the matter.
No witnesses have yet appeared before the committee, and another official said the issue of immunity was a red herring because the panel has not offered immunity to anyone in many years.
by Paul Gillin
I start lots of books about new media, but I finish very few of them. My ADD is only part of the reason. I often find that authors don't have much to say beyond a few points that are stated clearly in the first 100 pages or so and repeated for the remaining 200.
Not so with The Chaos Scenario, the new volume by veteran advertising critic Bob Garfield. I devoured this book and was sorry to see it end. One reason: It is so much fun to read.
Garfield is a gifted writer and he's funny as hell. Of the video for OK Go's YouTube hit "Here It Goes Again," he writes, "Everyone on earth has seen the video at least four times, except for certain remote areas in the mountains of Papua New Guinea, where several tribesmen had seen only twice." Or "If it were Japanese steel Google was flooding the market with, instead of kitten videos, it would be called dumping."
Such asides are garnish on a viciously insightful treatise on the death of advertising by someone who has the street cred to make that judgment. Garfield's quarter century of experience qualifies him to say when media is badly broken, which he clearly believes it is.
In an opening chapter entitled "The Death of Everything," he documents the implosion of mainstream media channels of every kind under the weight of new-media competition and changing audience behavior. If your CEO still insists on throwing away money on TV ads, put this chapter in front of him.
Much of the book outlines the principles of "Listenomics," or the premise that institutions that fail to listen to and engage with their newly empowered customers will die. The power that now exists in the hands of ordinary citizens can humble even the most arrogant corporate giants.
Among the examples of this Garfield cites is a grassroots campaign called "Comcast Must Die" which he and a core of frustrated cable subscribers mounted in 2007. Through blogs and message boards, an angry mob of customers turned the tables on a giant utility, forcing meaningful change across its vast customer service operation. As besieged Senior VP Rick Germano ultimately admits, "I'm crying 'uncle' now.'"
Garfield believes in the power of the crowd but not necessarily in its wisdom. Chapter 9 ("Off, Off, Off Madison") presents a scathing indictment of consumer-generated advertising (CGA), which Garfield characterizes as mostly a dull imitation of what non-professionals believe advertising should be.
"Most CGA has been the stuff of tiny little talents with tiny little budgets pursuing tiny little ideas," he writes. Which is not to say that pitting crowds against each other is always a bad thing, as long as the crowds know what they're doing. Garfield praises CrowdSPRING, a competitive foundry for design professionals that created dozens of choices for the book's logo for just $500.