Monday, December 7, 2009
I liked the cement mixer and played with it as much as or more than I played with the other toy vehicles I owned. At some point, several weeks or months after Christmas, however, my biological parents led me to believe that it was a magic and/or highly unusual cement mixer. Probably my mother told me this in a moment of adult boredom or whimsy, and then my father came home from work and joined in, also in a whimsical way. The magic—which my mother likely reported to me from her vantage on our living room's sofa, while watching me pull the cement mixer around the room by its rope, idly asking me if I was aware that it had magical properties, no doubt making sport of me in the bored half-cruel way that adults sometimes do with small children, playfully telling them things that they pass off to themselves as "tall tales" or "childlike inventions," unaware of the impact those tales may have (since magic is a serious reality for small children), though, conversely, if my parents believed that the cement mixer's magic was real, I do not understand why they waited weeks or months before telling me of it. They were a delightful but often impenetrable puzzle to me; I no more knew their minds and motives than a pencil knows what it is being used for. Now I have lost the thread. The "magic" was that, unbeknown to me, as I happily pulled the cement mixer behind me, the mixer's main cylinder or drum—the thing that, in a real cement mixer, mixes the cement; I do not know the actual word for it—rotated, went around and around on its horizontal axis, just as the drum on a real cement mixer does. It did this, my mother said, only when the mixer was being pulled by me and only, she stressed, when I wasn't looking. She insisted on this part, and my father later backed her up: the magic was not just that the drum of a solid wood object without batteries rotated but that it did so only when unobserved, stopping whenever observed. If, while pulling, I turned to look, my parents somberly maintained, the drum magically ceased its rotation. How was this? I never, even for a moment, doubted what they'd told me. This is why it is that adults and even parents can, unwittingly, be cruel: they cannot imagine doubt's complete absence. They have forgotten.
PENTAGON EASES RULES
Officers air concerns, citing Afghan effort
Under new authority granted by the Pentagon, U.S. commanders in Iraq may now donate to the Iraqis up to $30 million worth of equipment from each facility they leave, up from the $2 million cap established when the guidelines were first set in 2005. The new cap applies at scores of posts that the U.S. military is expected to leave in coming months as it scales back its presence from about 280 facilities to six large bases and a few small ones by the end of next summer.
Some of the items that commanders may now leave behind, including passenger vehicles and generators, are among what commanders in Afghanistan need most urgently, according to Pentagon memos.
Officials involved say the approach has triggered arguments in the Pentagon over whether the effort to leave Iraqis adequately equipped is hurting the buildup in Afghanistan.
Millions of Messages Sent, but Only Handful Mention Al Qaeda Leader
By Margie Burns
"Missing" White House emails retrieved from Bush administration records indicate that top Bush Justice Department officials had little interest in the pursuit of Osama bin Laden or Mullah Mohammed Omar, head of the Taliban in Afghanistan.
Under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), prolonged correspondence has pursued "missing" emails between the Bush White House and Bush's attorney general, deputy attorney general, associate attorney general, Office of Public Affairs, Office of Legal Counsel and Office of the Inspector General, in the Justice Department.
After a lengthy search, President Obama's Office of Information Policy, which handles FOIA requests, found emails pertaining to Osama bin Laden or to Mullah Omar only in Attorney General and Office of Public Affairs records from the Bush administration. Alberto Gonzales, previously Bush's White House counsel and then Attorney General, did not use email.
White House emails from the Bush years, often reported as missing, numbered in the millions. Thousands of emails were sent between the Bush White House and top Justice Department officials, through both government email accounts and private accounts including the Republican National Committee.
FOIA inquiries have produced two emails, totaling four pages, between the White House and Justice under the former administration relating to Mullah Mohammed Omar.
The FOIA requests produced 26 emails, totaling 119 pages, relating to Osama bin Laden.
The first internal reference to Mullah Omar, according to email records, occurred Dec. 7, 2001. White House staffer Edward Ingle forwarded a series of talking points titled "Meet Mullah Omar" from Deputy National Security Adviser James R. Wilkinson to a distribution list of several dozen government personnel in Cabinet offices and the Pentagon including Paul Wolfowitz. Omar has continued to evade capture and is believed to be living in neighboring Pakistan. There is no reference in the emails to Omar dating from the period when he was evading US forces. The next, and only other, mention of Omar's name was an incidental reference in a Sept. 23, 2004, New York Times article on Afghanistan forwarded the same day by White House staffers...
Fifteen emails mentioned bin Laden in 2004. Some were in response to criticism of the White House after disclosure of the famous Aug. 6, 2001, Presidential Daily Briefing, "Bin Laden Determined to Strike in U.S." All email references are forwarded press briefings and other press releases, forwarded newspaper articles, or talking points related to bin Laden.
The Department of Justice represents the US government in enforcing the law in the public interest. According to the official definition of responsibilities printed under a photograph of then Attorney General Ashcroft, "Through its thousands of lawyers, investigators, and agents, the Department plays the key role in protection against criminals and subversion ... It represents the government in legal matters generally, rendering legal advice and opinions, upon request, to the President and to the heads of the executive departments. The Attorney General supervises and directs these activities, as well as those of the U.S. attorneys and U.S. marshals in the various judicial districts around the country."
Either top Justice Department personnel under the previous administration were not a set of bloodhounds, or documents have been suppressed. The email archives contain no indication that inside circles in the Bush White House and DOJ were paying attention to capturing Osama bin Laden or Mullah Omar. Mentions of bin Laden and Omar come strictly in the context of public relations.
Five senior executives at American International Group told the bailed-out insurer last week they may quit if their compensation was cut significantly by the U.S. pay czar, the Wall Street Journal reported.
The five senior AIG executives indicated on December 1, in written notices, that they were prepared to leave by year-end, the paper reported, citing unnamed sources.
US Army Specialist Lateef Al-Saraji, a decorated combat veteran, came back from the occupation of Iraq with severe post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Saraji joined the military because he wanted to serve his country. He served well as a linguist and translator working under secret clearance with military intelligence, according to a letter of recommendation written by his commander following his tour in Iraq, "This letter is to inform you of my endorsement of SPC Alsaraji's superlative performance and vital contributions to the command during our recent 15-month extended combat tour in Iraq." Saraji is also a three-year trustee with American Legion Post 42 in Gatesville, Texas.
PTSD is often routed in one event, but more often, with the two ongoing occupations, it is rooted in multiple traumatizing events. While in Iraq, Saraji was horrified by discovering headless bodies of suspected spies caught by the Iraqi resistance, which were thrown in a canal near the building where he was based "so we would see them. I still have nightmares over the bodies in the water, all blue and foul-smelling," he wrote of his experience.
When he got back to the US, it took him several months to get an appointment with a counselor on his base, who then referred him to an off-base psychiatrist, who diagnosed him with severe PTSD.
In an email to Chuck Luther, the founder and director of the Soldier's Advocacy Group of Disposable Warriors," Saraji wrote that he "felt that the Army did not care about me and my superiors did not seem to care. On July 1  the psychologist, Dr. Leach, wrote a letter recommending I have 2 weeks off."
Rather than his commander, Sgt. First Class Duncan, follow the recommendation of Dr. Leach, Saraji was accused of going absent without leave and told he would not be given the two weeks off, along with being written up.
"I got too depressed," Saraji wrote of his experience. "I thought everyone would be better with me dead. I was going to kill myself. I drank ¾ gallon of Bacardi 151, took some pills and was going to shoot myself. I was depressed and tired of the racism and prejudice that I was receiving. I was talking on the phone with the Chaplain and he heard me cock my gun."
Luckily, very shortly thereafter three officers appeared at his door and took him to nearby Fort Hood, where he was admitted to a psychiatric unit for a week. From there he was transferred to a facility in Wichita Falls, Texas, for three weeks, where he was jumped by five soldiers who harassed him and called him a "towel head" and "sand nigger." He was moved to a different floor of that hospital, but wrote, "I was afraid for my safety so I tried to run away from the hospital."
Saraji returned to Fort Hood, only to find Sergeant Duncan writing him up yet again. According to Saraji, when Sergeant Duncan learned Saraji had nearly attempted suicide, he coolly told Saraji that he should go kill himself.
by Iron Knee
It seems that the A.P. recently ordered radio station KTNQ-FM to stop posting A.P. videos on its website, accusing the station of "stealing their licensed content". But there are a few things that are a bit curious about this. First, all of the videos in question were from the A.P.'s official YouTube channel (yes, the A.P. has its own YouTube channel, at http://www.youtube.com/user/AssociatedPress). Even worse, at the time, this channel had the YouTube "embed code" turned on, so that anyone could embed the A.P. videos in their website.
But the real giggle comes from the fact that KTNQ-FM is an A.P. affiliate. The whole purpose of the A.P. is to create content for its affiliates, who after all are the owners of the A.P. Here's a quote from the station employee who talked to the A.P.'s vice president:
We're an A.P. affiliate for crying out loud! I stumped him on that one. … What is really shocking is that they were shocked that they've got a YouTube channel that people are embedding on their Websites. He seemed shocked by that. "Oh, I am going to have to look into that" is what he told me.When you're this clueless about the "innerTubes", is it any wonder it is eating your lunch?