Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Detective Fiction Weekly


In 2004, McCain Admitted We'd Leave Iraq if the Iraqi's Wanted Us To

by Adam Blickstein

With news coming from Nouri al-Maliki that he is leaning towards a security pact with the U.S. that would include language describing the "departure of [American] forces or a memorandum of understanding to put a timetable on their withdrawal," one wonders how this would affect John McCain's plan for perpetual troop presence in Iraq. Well, at the Council of Foreign Relations, the John McCain of 2004 gave us a pretty clear answer:

Question: "What would or should we do if, in the post-June 30th period, a so-called sovereign Iraqi government asks us to leave, even if we are unhappy about the security situation there?"

McCain's Answer: "Well, if that scenario evolves than I think it's obvious that we would have to leave because -- if it was an elected government of Iraq, and we've been asked to leave other places in the world. If it were an extremist government then I think we would have other challenges, but I don't see how we could stay when our whole emphasis and policy has been based on turning the Iraqi government over to the Iraqi people."

Does the John McCain of 2008 agree with this assessment?

Raging wildfire...


Maliki Stunner: He Wants US Pullout Timetable

The Dreyfuss Report

by Robert Dreyfuss

The long-running showdown over the proposed US-Iraq treaty, aimed at legitimizing the American occupation of Iraq, is coming to a head, and it doesn't look good for the United States.

Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki tossed a bombshell today. In a news conference about the still-secret US-Iraqi talks, which began in March, Maliki for the first time said that the chances of securing the pact are just about nil, and instead he said Iraq will seek a limited, ad hoc renewal of the US authority to remain in Iraq, rather than a broad-based accord.

More important, Maliki and his top security adviser, Mouwaffak al-Rubaie added that Iraq intends to link even a limited accord to a timetable for the withdrawal of US forces. Reports the Sydney Morning Herald:

Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki raised the prospect of setting a timetable for the withdrawal of US troops as part of negotiations over a new security agreement with Washington.

It was the first time the US-backed Shi'ite-led government has floated the idea of a timetable for the removal of American forces from Iraq. The Bush administration has always opposed such a move, saying it would benefit militant groups.

[UPDATE July 8: Rubaie was even stronger today: "There should not be any permanent bases in Iraq unless these bases are under Iraqi control. ... We would not accept any memorandum of understanding with (the US) side that has no obvious and specific dates for the foreign troops' withdrawal from Iraq."]

Here's the quote from Maliki:

"The current trend is to reach an agreement on a memorandum of understanding either for the departure of the forces or a memorandum of understanding to put a timetable on their withdrawal."

Don't think for a minute that Maliki, or his Shiite allies, want the US forces to leave. But they are under a lot of pressure.

HOW TO make a giant cardboard Gandhi

After walking with Gandhi in Second Life for 240 miles I decided it would be interesting to extract my avatar from this online world and recreate him in monumental scale. This instructable takes you through the process of creating the 17' tall cardboard Gandhi using a variety of readily accessible (mostly free!) software tools, cardboard and a hot glue gun. The production of this sculpture took a total of 4 weeks, 6 days a week, 9-11 hour days with the assistance of an intern for two-three days of each week.

Sex Crimes in the White House

Rights and Liberties

By Naomi Wolf

How Abu Ghraib and Guantánamo Bay basically turned into an organized sex-crime ring in which the trafficked sex slaves were US-held prisoners.

Sex crime has a telltale signature, even when those directing the outrages are some of the most powerful men and women in the United States. How extraordinary, then, to learn that one of the perpetrators of these crimes, Condoleezza Rice, has just led the debate in a special session of the United Nations Security Council on the use of sexual violence as a weapon of war.

I had a sense of deja vu when I saw the photos that emerged in 2004 from Abu Ghraib prison. Even as the Bush administration was spinning the notion that the torture of prisoners was the work of "a few bad apples" low in the military hierarchy, I knew that we were seeing evidence of a systemic policy set at the top. It's not that I am a genius. It's simply that, having worked at a rape crisis center and been trained in the basics of sex crime, I have learned that all sex predators go about things in certain recognizable ways.

We now know that the torture of prisoners was the result of a policy set in the White House by former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, Vice President Dick Cheney, and Rice -- who actually chaired the torture meetings. The Pentagon has also acknowledged that it had authorized sexualized abuse of detainees as part of interrogation practices to be performed by female operatives. And documents obtained by the American Civil Liberties Union have Rumsfeld, in his own words, checking in on the sexualized humiliation of prisoners.

The sexualization of torture from the top basically turned Abu Ghraib and Guantnamo Bay into an organized sex-crime ring in which the trafficked sex slaves were US-held prisoners. Looking at the classic S and M nature of some of this torture, it is hard not to speculate that someone setting policy was aroused by all of this. And Phillipe Sands' impeccably documented Torture Team: Rumsfeld's Memo and the Betrayal of American Values, now proves that sex crime was authorized and, at least one source reports, eroticized: Diane Beaver, the Staff Judge Advocate at Guantanamo who signed off on many torture techniques, told Sands about brainstorming sessions that included the use of sexual tension, which was "culturally taboo, disrespectful, humiliating and potentially unexpected."

Want some torture with your peanuts?

 Aviation Security

By Jeffrey Denning

Just when you thought you've heard it all...

A senior government official with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has expressed great interest in a so-called safety bracelet that would serve as a stun device, similar to that of a police Taser®. According to this promotional video found at the Lamperd Less Lethal, Inc. website, the bracelet would be worn by all airline passengers (video also shown below).

This bracelet would:

• Take the place of an airline boarding pass

• Contain personal information about the traveler

• Be able to monitor the whereabouts of each passenger and his/her luggage

• Shock the wearer on command, completely immobilizing him/her for several minutes
The Electronic ID Bracelet, as it's referred to, would be worn by every traveler "until they disembark the flight at their destination."  Yes, you read that correctly. Every airline passenger would be tracked by a government-funded GPS, containing personal, private and confidential information, and would shock the customer worse than an electronic dog collar if the passenger got out of line.

Clearly the Electronic ID Bracelet is a euphemism for the EMD Safety Bracelet, or at least it has a nefarious hidden ability (thus the term ID Bracelet is ambiguous at best). EMD stands for Electro-Musclar Disruption. Again, according to the promotional video, the bracelet can completely immobilize the wearer for several minutes.

So is the government really that interested in this bracelet? 

Apparently so.

Saddam's replacement


Harry Reid Honors Jesse Helms???

 Posted by Joseph

Yesterday Harry Reid [D-NV] introduced Senate Resolution 608 - "A resolution relative to the death of Jesse Alexander Helms, Jr., former United States Senator for the State of North Carolina" - and the entire Sentate signed on as co-sponsors.

The resolution expresses "profound sorrow and deep regret" over the death of this racist prick and claims he "made invaluable contributions to his community, State, Nation, and the World."


When did gay bashing and race baiting become invaluable contributions to any community?

Big Pharma Is in a Frenzy to Bring Cannabis-Based Medicines to Market


While the the American Medical Association claims pot has no medical value, Big Pharma is busy getting patents for marijuana products.

The US government's longstanding denial of medical marijuana research and use is an irrational and morally bankrupt public policy. On this point, few Americans disagree. As for the question of "why" federal officials maintain this inflexible and inhumane policy, well that's another story

One of the more popular theories seeking to explain the Feds' seemingly inexplicable ban on medical pot goes like this: Neither the US government nor the pharmaceutical industry will allow for the use of medical marijuana because they can't patent it or profit from it.

It's an appealing theory, yet I've found it to be neither accurate nor persuasive. Here's why.

First, let me state the obvious. Big Pharma is busily applying for -- and has already received -- multiple patents for the medical properties of pot. These include patents for synthetic pot derivatives (such as the oral THC pill Marinol), cannabinoid agonists (synthetic agents that bind to the brain's endocannabinoid receptors) like HU-210 and cannabis antagonists such as Rimonabant. This trend was most recently summarized in the NIH paper (pdf), "The endocannabinoid system as an emerging target of pharmacotherapy," which concluded, "The growing interest in the underlying science has been matched by a growth in the number of cannabinoid drugs in pharmaceutical development from two in 1995 to 27 in 2004." In other words, at the same time the American Medical Association is proclaiming that pot has no medical value, Big Pharma is in a frenzy to bring dozens of new, cannabis-based medicines to market.

Not all of these medicines will be synthetic pills either. Most notably, GW Pharmaceutical's oral marijuana spray, Sativex, is a patented standardized dose of natural cannabis extracts. (The extracts, primarily THC and the non-psychoactive, anxiolytic compound CBD, are taken directly from marijuana plants grown at an undisclosed, company warehouse.)

Does Big Pharma's sudden and growing interest in the research and development of pot-based medicines mean that the industry is proactively supporting marijuana prohibition? Not if they know what's good for them.

US Dollar Mighty No More

Experts Worry Euro Might Replace US Dollar as Primary Reserve Currency

WASHINGTON - Things in the U.S. sure are tough. Brother, can you spare a euro?

Signs saying "We accept euros" are cropping up in the windows of some Manhattan retailers. A Belgium company is trying to gobble up St. Louis-based Anheuser-Busch, the nation's largest brewer and iconic Super Bowl advertiser.0706 04 1

The almighty U.S. dollar is mighty no more. It has been declining steadily for six years against other major currencies, undercutting its role as the leading international banking currency. The long slide is fanning inflation in the U.S. and playing a major role in the run-up of oil and gasoline prices everywhere.

Vacationing Europeans are finding bargains in the U.S., while Americans in Paris and other world capitals are being clobbered by sky-high tabs for hotels, travel and even sidewalk cafes. Northern border-city Americans who once flocked into Canada for shopping deals are staying home; it's the Canadians flocking across the border now.

Everything made in America - from goods to entire companies - is near dirt cheap to many foreigners. Meanwhile, American consumers, both those who travel and those who stay at home, are seeing big price increases in energy, food and imported goods. The dollar has lost roughly a quarter of its purchasing power against the currencies of major U.S. trading partners from its peak in 2002.

Since oil is bought and sold in dollars worldwide, the devalued dollar has made the recent surge in energy prices even worse for Americans, leading to $4 gasoline in the United States (all figures U.S.). Analysts suggest that of the $140 a barrel that oil fetches globally, some $25 may be due to the devalued dollar.

Further declines in the dollar will add to oil's appeal as a commodity to be traded.

Calif. group proposes George W. Bush Sewage Plant

Exterior view of the Oceanside Water Pollution Control Plant ...
Exterior view of the Oceanside Water Pollution Control Plant is shown in San Francisco, Monday, July 7, 2008. Supporters of the Presidential Memorial Commission have turned in their application to propose to rename the Oceanside Water Pollution Control Plant to the George W. Bush Sewage Plant. The supporters are hoping to put the idea before San Francisco voters as a November ballot issue.


SAN FRANCISCO - A California group submitted a proposal Monday to rename a sewage treatment plant after President Bush, calling the initiative a fitting tribute to the outgoing chief executive and the "mess" he'll leave behind.

The Presidential Memorial Commission of San Francisco wants to switch the name of the Oceanside Water Pollution Control Plant to the George W. Bush Sewage Plant.

Supporters hoping to put the issue on the November ballot turned in more than 10,000 signatures to San Francisco election officials, organizer Brian McConnell said. The measure needs just over 7,000 valid names to qualify and McConnell expects to find out later this month whether they made it.

Proponents of the renaming plan see it as fitting tribute to a president they contend has plumbed the depths of incompetence.

"We think that it's important to remember our leaders in the right historical context," said McConnell, a member of the group that was formed after friends came up with the renaming idea.

"In President Bush's case, we think that we will be cleaning up a substantial mess for the next 10 or 20 years," he said. "The sewage treatment facility's job is to clean up a mess, so we think it's a fitting tribute."

Wolf Blitzer looks back at 10 years of Iraq War Bush lies

By: SilentPatriot


During a 10 year tribute to his show "Late Edition" this morning, Wolf Blitzer opened up the CNN vaults to revisit some of the most deceptive things Bush administration officials have said to him throughout the years about Iraq and the reasons for the invasion. Oh, memories…

video_wmv Download | Play  video_mov Download | Play 

Cheney in Jan 2007: You can go back and argue the whole thing all over again, Wolf, but what we did in Iraq in taking down Saddam Hussein was exactly the right thing to do.

Full transcript

Lieberman: After Iran wipes out Israel and ‘Arab countries’ in the Middle East, ‘we’re next!

Yesterday on ABC's This Week, Sen. Joe Lieberman (I- CT), chief surrogate for Sen. John McCain's (R-AZ) presidential campaign, complained that the "Iranians have consistently" refused to suspend its uranium enrichment. When host George Stephanopoulos asked if Israel should then attack Iran, Lieberman said, "That's up to Israel," warning that Iran not only represents an "existential threat" to Israel but also the Middle East and the United States:

LIEBERMAN: That's up to Israel obviously, but I would say that obviously Israel is first in the line of Iranian fire. And it represents an existential threat to Israel. But you know who is next? The Arab countries in the Middle East and they're worried about the Iranian program and want us to ask strongly to stop it. And we're next! Because Ahmadinejad in Tehran constantly leads the mobs in shouts of death to America. And they mean it.

Watch it:


Summit that's hard to swallow

World leaders enjoy 18-course banquet as they discuss how to solve global food crisis

By James Chapman

Just two days ago, Gordon Brown was urging us all to stop wasting food and combat rising prices and a global shortage of provisions.

But yesterday the Prime Minister and other world leaders sat down to an 18-course gastronomic extravaganza at a G8 summit in Japan, which is focusing on the food crisis.

The dinner, and a six-course lunch, at the summit of leading industrialised nations on the island of Hokkaido, included delicacies such as caviar, milkfed lamb, sea urchin and tuna, with champagne and wines flown in from Europe and the U.S.

G8 leaders discussing the world food crisis in Japan raise their glasses ahead of an 18-course dinner

G8 leaders discussing the world food crisis in Japan raise their glasses ahead of an 18-course dinner

But the extravagance of the menus drew disapproval from critics who thought it hypocritical to produce such a lavish meal when world food supplies are under threat.

On Sunday, Mr Brown called for prudence and thrift in our kitchens, after a Government report concluded that 4.1million tonnes of food was being wasted by householders.

He suggested we could save up to £8 a week by making our shopping go further. It was vital to reduce 'unnecessary demand' for food, he said.

Last night's dinner menu was created by Katsuhiro Nakamura, the first Japanese chef to win a Michelin star. It was themed: Hokkaido, blessings of the earth and the sea.

Lunch and dinner menu

But Dominic Nutt, of the charity Save the Children, did not approve.

'It is deeply hypocritical that they should be lavishing course after course on world leaders when there is a food crisis and millions cannot afford a decent meal,' he said.



Activists from Oxfam, wearing masks depicting G8 leaders, place an activist dressed as a corn cob into an oil barrel during an anti-G8 event in Sapporo during the Group of Eight (G8) Hokkaido Toyako summit, July 7, 2008.
Photo by Vivek Prakash

Mercedes to be Gas-Free by 2015

From the Left

Pssssst, don't tell King Abdullah.

Proving that with leadership and innovation anything is possible (are your listening Detroit?) Mercedes-Benz is aiming to phase out fossil-fuel powered vehicles over the next seven years, replacing its entire lineup with autos powered by electric motors, fuel cells, and biofuels.

The company has already invested almost $4 million in its Sustainable Mobility program, and plans to invest another $14 million by 2014.

Imagine? Within 7 years, no Mercedes will need fossil fuel to zip down the highway. Call it, the seven year ditch.


uExpress - National perspectives on life, family and politics 

by Ted Rall

One Amendment from Column A, Another from Column B

Antonin Scalia's dissent--"[granting Guantánamo detainees the right to a fair trial] will almost certainly cause more Americans to get killed"--was widely ridiculed as baseless and hysterical.

What a difference a week--and your politics--make.

Then Kennedy cast the swing vote in another major decision. Declaring Washington D.C.'s handgun ban unconstitutional, he accepted the NRA's argument that the Second Amendment's reference to "a well-regulated militia" is not a conditional clause. Wherever they live, Americans are indeed entitled to purchase and keep a handgun.

"What an idiot!" my friend e-mailed me. "Doesn't he get it? Kids are going to die!" Shades of Scalia; irony included free.

"À la carte" airline pricing--$2 for a Coke, $15 to check a bag, $30 for a coach seat that sucks 95% as much as the regular ones--pisses people off. When it comes to constitutional questions, however, we Americans like to pick and choose our favorite parts of the Bill of Rights like items from a Chinese menu: one from column A, another in column B.

Liberals revere the right to free speech enshrined in the First Amendment. The right to bear arms, not so much. With conservatives, it's the other way around. Sometimes they clash over the meaning of the original ten amendments. It's freedom of, not from, religion, say right-wingers. Freedom from, argue advocates of the separation of church and state.

YouTube Users Vent Anger In Anti-Viacom Videos

 Yahoo! News

By Thomas Claburn

Viacom has reassured the YouTube community that it only wants YouTube viewer log data to prove its copyright case against Google, but the YouTube community hasn't gotten the message.

Rather, the video-sharing site's users have launched an expletive-laden counterattack, calling for a boycott of the media giant.

In the past week, the number of videos associated with the search keyword "Viacom" has increased by 871, more than 28.5%. Already on Monday, 341 new videos associated with the "Viacom" search keyword have been uploaded. (In a subsequent search, the number dropped to 320, suggesting that some anti-Viacom videos are being removed.) Mostly, the videos are critical of Viacom.

Among titles that can be reprinted on the InformationWeek Web site, user sentiment is evident: "Viacom is a Copyright Bully," "VIACOM VS YOU = BOYCOTT," and "Screw You, Viacom."

A Viacom spokesperson declined to comment. However, Viacom's publication of a statement on its corporate Web site promising to keep YouTube's data confidential shows that the company is aware of the sensitive nature of this issue.;_ylt=AhfGwRnxCg4ZX1dv5V7SCsIDW7oF


Big brother is watching you