Monday, December 31, 2007

monday reads

U.S. seen internationally as an ‘Endemic Surveillance Society.’

NYT Editorial: Looking at America

Out of panic and ideology, President Bush squandered America’s position of moral and political leadership, swept aside international institutions and treaties, sullied America’s global image, and trampled on the constitutional pillars that have supported our democracy through the most terrifying and challenging times. These policies have fed the world’s anger and alienation and have not made any of us safer.

In the years since 9/11, we have seen American soldiers abuse, sexually humiliate, torment and murder prisoners in Afghanistan and Iraq. A few have been punished, but their leaders have never been called to account. We have seen mercenaries gun down Iraqi civilians with no fear of prosecution. We have seen the president, sworn to defend the Constitution, turn his powers on his own citizens, authorizing the intelligence agencies to spy on Americans, wiretapping phones and intercepting international e-mail messages without a warrant.


These are not the only shocking abuses of President Bush’s two terms in office, made in the name of fighting terrorism. There is much more — so much that the next president will have a full agenda simply discovering all the wrongs that have been done and then righting them.

Digby: Bipartisan Zombies

Glenn Greenwald on Bloomberg's independent prisidential bid:
Bloomberg is basically just Rudy Giuliani with a billion or two dollars to spend to alter the election. When it comes to foreign policy, war-making and government power, he offers absolutely nothing that isn't found in destructive abundance among the most extremist precincts in the Republican Party, while his moderate to liberal stance on social issues would prevent him from actually winning the support of his natural GOP base.

In fact -- despite his steadfast neoconservatism -- it's hard to see how the candidacy of a divorced, unmarried, stridently pro-gun-control, pro-choice, socially liberal New York City billionaire would accomplish anything other than offering the Republicans their best hope of winning in 2008. All of this seems to be intended as punishment meted out by the Establishment to the Democrats -- using Bloomberg's billions as the weapon -- for not repudiating their loudmouth, restless liberal base strongly enough. That, more than anything, seems to be the oh-so-noble and trans-partisan purpose of David Broder, David Boren and Sam Nunn: to find a way to stifle the populist anger at our political establishment after 8 years of unrestrained Bush-Cheney devastation, increasingly represented (on the Democratic side) by the Scary, Angry, Intemperate John Edwards campaign.

A Bloomberg candidacy would have no purpose other than satisfy his bottomless personal lust for attention and bestow the wise old men threatening the country with his candidacy with some fleeting sense of rejuvenated relevance and wisdom. His political views are conventional in every way and he's little more than an establishment-enabling figurehead. The whole attraction to his candidacy has nothing to do with any issues or substance and everything to do with an empty addiction to vapid notions of Establishment harmony and a desire to exert control, whereby our Seriousness guardians devote themselves to a candidate for reasons largely unrelated to his policies or political views, thus proving themselves, as usual, to be the exact antithesis of actual seriousness.

Scott Horton: The Forgotten Bicentennial

All in all, it’s an economic and political environment in which you’d expect Republican politicians, as a sheer matter of calculation, to look for ways to distance themselves from the current administration’s economic policies and record — say, by expressing some concern about rising income gaps and the fraying social safety net.

In fact, however, except for Mike Huckabee — a peculiar case who’ll deserve more discussion if he stays in contention — the leading Republican contenders have gone out of their way to assure voters that they will not deviate an inch from the Bush path. Why? Because the G.O.P. is still controlled by a conservative movement that does not tolerate deviations from tax-cutting, free-market, greed-is-good orthodoxy.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

saturday reads

What is up with bu$h's veto of the military policy bill?

Ray McGovern - Creeping Fascism: From Nazi Germany to Post 9/11 America

A group in Brattleboro is petitioning to put an item on a town meeting agenda in March that would make Bush and Vice President Cheney subject to arrest and indictment if they visit the southeastern Vermont community.

Scott Horton: All the King’s Men, Reloaded

Quiet as a mouse. There certainly have been gaffes, softballs, and missed opportunities. And the most obvious are found in the Senate Committee on Homeland Security—the Senate's version of Rep. Henry Waxman's Oversight Committee in the House. Unlike Waxman's enthusiastic probing, the Senate chair conducted zero proactive investigations into Bush administration malfeasance. It's chairman? Connecticut's Joseph Lieberman.

The New York Times Magazine has a tribute to Steve Gilliard

The Pope has ordered his bishops to set up exorcism squads to tackle the rise of Satanism.

Friday, December 28, 2007

friday reads

Juan Cole: With Bhutto gone, does Bush have a Plan B?

The Bush administration backed military dictator Musharraf to the hilt as a way of dealing with U.S. security and al-Qaida on the cheap while it poured hundreds of billions into Baghdad. George W. Bush was entirely willing to let the Pakistani judiciary, the rule of law, and any real democracy be gutted by an ambitious general. For Washington, allowing Bhutto to return to Pakistan was simply a way to shore up Musharraf's legitimacy. Now Pakistan faces new turmoil, and Bush appears to have no Plan B. Since Pakistan is a nuclear power and al-Qaida extremists still use it as a base to plot against the West, this failure is inexcusable and threatens U.S. security in a way Iraq never did.

Benazir Bhutto - A Warning To Us All

Ron Paul's Friends -- in Black and White

Jon Swift has the Best Blog Posts of 2007

Sadly, No!: It's like the blind leading the really, really blind

Thursday, December 27, 2007

thursday reads

The former Pakistani prime minister Benazir Bhutto was assassinated today, the Pakistani interior ministry has confirmed.

The FCC's Christmas Gift to Big Media

In 1946, the United States prosecuted two Justice Department lawyers for a peculiar crime. They had written memoranda which, in disregard of international law, facilitated the torture and abuse of prisoners. They were sentenced to ten years in prison, less time served. That was in the days when the Justice Department lived up to its name. The case is called United States v. Altstoetter. It would be a good case for Michael Mukasey to read; his underlings could benefit from a reading, too, since the time is approaching when it’s going to have some direct impact in their own lives.

There's nothing quite like pounding your chicken in a room full of naked men to get the old heterosexual juices flowing.

Monday, December 24, 2007

monday reads

CIA chief to drag White House into torture cover-up storm

THE CIA chief who ordered the destruction of secret videotapes recording the harsh interrogation of two top Al-Qaeda suspects has indicated he may seek immunity from prosecution in exchange for testifying before the House intelligence committee.

Jose Rodriguez, former head of the CIA’s clandestine service, is determined not to become the fall guy in the controversy over the CIA’s use of torture, according to intelligence sources.

It has emerged that at least four White House staff were approached for advice about the tapes, including David Addington, a senior aide to Dick Cheney, the vice-president, but none has admitted to recommending their destruction.

After the United States has spent more than $5 billion in a largely failed effort to bolster the Pakistani military effort against Al Qaeda and the Taliban, some American officials now acknowledge that there were too few controls over the money. The strategy to improve the Pakistani military, they said, needs to be completely revamped.

Bill Moyers: America on Steroids

Scott Horton: An Update on the Trial of Bilal Hussein

Paul Krugman: State of the Unions

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Disaster Capitalism in New Orleans

Naomi Klein

The final showdown over New Orleans public housing is playing out in dramatic fashion right now. The conflict is a classic example of the "triple shock" formula at the core of the doctrine.

- First came the shock of the original disaster: the flood and the traumatic evacuation.

- Next came the "economic shock therapy": using the window of opportunity opened up by the first shock to push through a rapid-fire attack on the city's public services and spaces, most notably it's homes, schools and hospitals.

-Now we see that as residents of New Orleans try to resist these attacks, they are being met with a third shock: the shock of the police baton and the Taser gun, used on the bodies of protestors outside New Orleans City Hall yesterday.

Democracy Now!: The Battle to Save New Orleans Housing

Friday, December 21, 2007

Lakota Sioux Declare Sovereign Nation Status

Washington D.C. – Lakota Sioux Indian representatives declared sovereign nation status today in Washington D.C. following Monday’s withdrawal from all previously signed treaties with the United States Government. The withdrawal, hand delivered to Daniel Turner, Deputy Director of Public Liaison at the State Department, immediately and irrevocably ends all agreements between the Lakota Sioux Nation of Indians and the United States Government outlined in the 1851 and 1868 Treaties at Fort Laramie Wyoming.

Argus Leader

Headed by leaders of the American Indian Movement, including activist, actor and Porcupine resident Russell Means, the group dropped in on the State Department and the embassies of Bolivia, Venezuela, Chile and South Africa this week seeking recognition for their effort to form a free and independent Lakota nation. The group plans to visit more embassies in the coming months.

The new nation is needed because Indians have been "dismissed" by the United States and are tired of living under a colonial apartheid system, Means said during a news conference held at Plymouth Congregational Church in northeast Washington. He was accompanied by a bodyguard and three other Lakota activists - Gary Rowland, Duane Martin and Phyllis Young, all of South Dakota.

"I want to emphasize, we do not represent the collaborators, the Vichy Indians and those tribal governments set up by the United States of America to ensure our poverty, to ensure the theft of our land and resources," Means said, comparing elected tribal governments to Nazi collaborators in France during World War II.

The Lakota Indians, who gave the world legendary warriors Sitting Bull and Crazy Horse, have withdrawn from treaties with the United States, leaders said Wednesday.

"We are no longer citizens of the United States of America and all those who live in the five-state area that encompasses our country are free to join us," long-time Indian rights activist Russell Means told a handful of reporters and a delegation from the Bolivian embassy, gathered in a church in a run-down neighborhood of Washington for a news conference.

A delegation of Lakota leaders delivered a message to the State Department on Monday, announcing they were unilaterally withdrawing from treaties they signed with the federal government of the United States, some of them more than 150 years old.

Lakota Freedom Delegation

friday reads

The Department of Justice is investigating whether a former intelligence officer illegally disclosed classified information in interviews he gave on how the CIA interrogated a suspected senior al Qaida member.

A series of court decisions this week supporting voting rights advocates in Florida and Arizona may bode well for more open and accountable elections in 2008.

During the next hurricane in Texas, evacuees may be subject to criminal background checks.

After protesters skirmished with police inside and outside New Orleans City Hall on Thursday, the City Council voted unanimously to approve a federal plan to demolish a vast swath of public housing.

Death by Spreadsheet: A 17-year old died just hours after her health insurance company reversed its decision not to pay for a liver transplant that doctors said the girl needed.

The World's Top Executioners: China, Iran, Pakistan, Iraq, The United States (hat tip BlondeSense)

With millions more foreclosures likely, it’s a good bet that homeownership will be lower at the Bush administration’s end than it was at the start.

Comparative Planetology: An Interview With Kim Stanley Robinson

Almost half of common European birds are heading towards "continental extinction", a new report warns today.

The Story of Stuff (hat tip Seeing the Forest)

Thursday, December 20, 2007

thursday reads

The Justice Department delayed prosecuting a key Republican official for jamming the phones of New Hampshire Democrats until after the 2004 election, protecting top GOP officials from the scandal until the voting was over.

Hugh's List of Bush Scandals

Wired: FBI Agents Skip Court Orders to Spy on Cellphone Users

Ken Richey to Be Freed After 20 Years on Ohio's Death Row

The Republican 2008 Plan Is Revealed

Iraqis of all sectarian and ethnic groups believe that the U.S. military invasion is the primary root of the violent differences among them, and see the departure of "occupying forces" as the key to national reconciliation, according to focus groups conducted for the U.S. military last month.

The Republican Senate minority today filibustered an omnibus budget bill, setting a modern-day record for blocking the most legislation during a congressional session. A new report released today by the Campaign for America's Future details the 62 times conservatives have used the filibuster to block legislation (or force modification of bills) in the first session of the 110th Congress. In just the first year of this two-year Congress, their use of the filibuster in the Senate topped the previous record, reached during the entire 107th Congress.

Scott Horton: What the Jamie Leigh Jones Case Teaches Us and Just Another Day for the Department of Justice

All Spin Zone: Who is Really Running Congress? Vince McMahon??

Attack of the Killer Parasites (via Boing Boing)

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

wednesday reads

Bush Lawyers Discussed Fate of C.I.A.Tapes

At least four top White House lawyers took part in discussions with the Central Intelligence Agency between 2003 and 2005 about whether to destroy videotapes showing the secret interrogations of two operatives from Al Qaeda, according to current and former administration and intelligence officials.

The accounts indicate that the involvement of White House officials in the discussions before the destruction of the tapes in November 2005 was more extensive than Bush administration officials have acknowledged.

Those who took part, the officials said, included Alberto R. Gonzales, who served as White House counsel until early 2005; David S. Addington, who was the counsel to Vice President Dick Cheney and is now his chief of staff; John B. Bellinger III, who until January 2005 was the senior lawyer at the National Security Council; and Harriet E. Miers, who succeeded Mr. Gonzales as White House counsel.

Firedoglake: Disappeared Into Secret Pakistani and US Prisons

A white separatist group planning a Martin Luther King Jr. Day parade in Jena is suing the town, claiming officials are violating the Constitution by asking participants not to bring firearms, changing the parade route by one block and requiring the posting of a bond.

Turkish troops crossed into northern Iraq in pursuit of Kurdish guerrillas yesterday, as the US warned against any action that could further destabilise the region.

David Byrne and Thom Yorke on the Real Value of Music and
David Byrne's Survival Strategies for Emerging Artists — and Megastars

Quote of the Day: "After 10 full years inside the GOP, 90 days among honest criminals wasn't really any great ordeal."

In a case that could affect passengers delayed on planes at airports nationwide, an industry trade group is challenging New York's law requiring airlines to provide food, water, clean toilets and fresh air to passengers stuck on the ground for more than three hours.

What do you get when the Beatles cover Led Zeppelin?
The Beatnix - "Stairway to Heaven"

Found this video over here

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

tuesday reads

Abu Zubaydah was:

A) A high-ranking Al Qaeda operative who largely confounded U.S. interrogators with his literary and tactical genius until they submitted him to waterboarding and other forms of torture. After that, he provided key information that likely preempted future attacks.

B) A low-ranking and mentally ill Al Qaeda operative who provided valuable information under gentle questioning, but whose confessions made under torture were useless. Much of the threat information he provided was "crap."

A is the CIA's version (and the President's). B is the FBI's. And in today's Washington Post, Dan Eggen and Walter Pincus walk through the competing profiles. Zubaydah, remember, was one of the two detainees whose interrogations appeared on the destroyed CIA tapes.

Statement of U.S. Senator Russ Feingold
In Opposition to the Flawed FISA Bill

Thank You to Senator Dodd.

Scott Horton: Obligations Ignored

Cases in which police, prison guards and other law enforcement authorities have used excessive force or other tactics to violate victims' civil rights have increased 25% (281 vs. 224) from fiscal years 2001 to 2007 over the previous seven years, the department says.

Monday, December 17, 2007

monday reads

Dodd, FISA and the Filibuster — How It’s Going To Go Down and What You Can Do
Electronic Frontier Foundation Action Alert
Letter submitted for Dodd's filibuster

British leave behind murder and chaos in Basra.

Turkey yesterday launched the biggest attack on Iraq since the US invasion in 2003, sending more than 50 warplanes to bomb suspected Kurdish insurgent bases inside Iraqi territory,

A Political Prisoner in the First World

Paris police tear down tents for the homeless

An attempt to build a Christmas encampment for the homeless on the banks of the river Seine was swept away by police before the startled eyes of tourists at the weekend.

A homelessness action group, which generated worldwide attention a year ago by pitching an encampment of red tents in the centre of Paris, attempted an even more spectacular coup on Saturday morning.

Scores of red, "two second", all-terrain tents were erected along the quays of the left bank of the Seine opposite the Notre Dame cathedral. As tourists looked on, police moved in en masse – using tear gas at one stage – to sweep away the homeless people and their supporters.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

sunday reads

Glenn Greenwald: The Lawless Surveillance State

Sign up to support Congressman Wexler's call for Cheney Impeachments Hearings

bu$h wants power over JAG promotions

The Bush administration is pushing to take control of the promotions of military lawyers, escalating a conflict over the independence of uniformed attorneys who have repeatedly raised objections to the White House's policies toward prisoners in the war on terrorism.

The administration has proposed a regulation requiring "coordination" with politically appointed Pentagon lawyers before any member of the Judge Advocate General corps - the military's 4,000-member uniformed legal force - can be promoted.

Scott Horton has more on the politicizing of the military.

Forget about sea levels rising as glaciers and polar ice melt, and increasing water temperatures affecting global weather patterns. As the oceans absorb more and more carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases, they're gradually becoming more acidic.

Steven D: The Op-Ed the Liberal Media Rejected

Jon Swift: When Steroids Are Banned, Only Cheaters Will Have Steroids

"Mexicans!! Tonight we dine in ... SAN DIEGO!!!!" (via Dave Neiwert)

Friday, December 14, 2007

friday reads

Congress is asking questions about another ex-employee of government contracting firm KBR who claims she was raped in Iraq.

The Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction faces four seperate investigations.

A mistrial has been declared in the "Liberty City 7" trial in Miami on Thursday. One defendant was acquitted in the case of plotting to destroy Chicago's Sears Tower and wage war against the U.S.

The House approved legislation yesterday that would bar the CIA from using waterboarding and other harsh interrogation tactics, drawing an immediate veto threat from the White House and setting up another political showdown over what constitutes torture.

Glenn Greenwald:

The Senate is going to take up debate today on the new FISA bill -- including the provisions for telecom amnesty and presidential surveillance powers -- and Harry Reid is apparently bringing the bill to the floor (a) in precisely the way designed to help the administration's goal of ensuring there is telecom amnesty and fewer surveillance oversight protections and (b) contrary to the way his office has been assuring everyone concerned that it would be done.

Paul Krugman: After the Money's Gone

Digby: Unleashing The Beast

Bill O'Reilly declares victory over reality.

A Who's Who of America's top scientists are launching a quixotic last-minute effort this week to force presidential candidates to detail the role science would play in their administrations -- a question they say is key to the future of the country, if not the world.

AlterNet: Big Coal's Dirty Plans for Our Energy Future

Thursday, December 13, 2007

thursday reads

A year after the U.S.-backed Ethiopian army toppled a hard-line Islamist regime in Somalia, the country has become Africa's worst humanitarian catastrophe.

Rep. Robert Wexler (D-FL) says he's hatched a plan that will secure health care for children, help to restore America's reputation around the world, and empower the the Democratic party to rediscover the courage of its convictions. He calls it "impeachment hearings."

This Florida based Gulfstream II jet aircraft # N987SA crash landed on September 24, 2007 after it ran out of fuel over Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula it had a cargo of several tons of Cocaine on board now documents have turned up on both sides of the Atlantic that link this Cocaine Smuggling Gulfstream II jet aircraft # N987SA that crashed in Mexico to the CIA who used it on at least 3 rendition flights from Europe and the USA to Guantanamo's infamous torture chambers between 2003 to 2005.

Linsay Beyerstein: Kiriakou and the Kite Runner

Pope Benedict XVI has launched a surprise attack on climate change prophets of doom, warning them that any solutions to global warming must be based on firm evidence and not on dubious ideology. [*snort*]

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

wednesday reads

The Most Vulgar, Disgusting, and Foul Joke in the World

Sketching the campaign

Tom's Review of Books

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Whip It

Drew Barrymore will make her directing debut next year with “Whip It,” a film about the mad world of roller derby, according to Production Charts.

The film is in pre-production, with no casting announcements made yet.

Shauna Cross is the screenwriter. Cross is a member of the Los Angeles Derby Dolls and recently published a teen-oriented novel called Derby Girl.

tuesday reads

Meet war criminal John Kiriakou.

A Houston, Texas woman says she was gang-raped by Halliburton/KBR coworkers in Baghdad, and the company and the U.S. government are covering up the incident.

Two car bombs rammed into the office of the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) and the country's constitutional court in upmarket areas of Algiers.

Scott Horton: Undermining Military Justice

Larry Johnson: Disentangling Torture TapeGate

Kevin Drum

Let me get this straight. The White House had been in the loop for two years. The CIA had received letters from both the Justice Department and congressional leaders arguing that the tapes shouldn't be destroyed. The CIA's top lawyer had been involved for the entire time. And yet we're supposed to believe that, in 2005, a mid-ranking agency lawyer suddenly decided the tapes could be destroyed and the head of the clandestine branch then gave the order to do so without anyone else being involved? Really? Does anyone actually believe this story?

Attempts to find out what Congress actually knew about the 2002 torture of detainees held by the CIA are running right into the brick wall of classification. Only this time, it's not just CIA stonewalling that's keeping the facts concealed. Members of Congress are quick to put the classification muzzle on themselves.

The New Jersey Senate voted Monday to make the state the first in the country to repeal the death penalty since 1976, when the United States Supreme Court set guidelines for the nation’s current system of capital punishment.

Time Hackers

Monday, December 10, 2007

The Stupid, It Burns!

Iraq needs a Pinochet

monday reads

Glenn Greenwald: Democratic Complicity in Bush’s Torture Regimen

The UN climate talks seeking a new pact on global warming hit a potential problem today when the US said it was unwilling to approve a draft agreement setting firm targets for cuts to carbon pollution.

The rainy season is over and the Niger Delta is lush and humid. This southern edge of West Africa, where Nigeria's wealth pumps out of oil and gas fields to bypass millions of its poorest people, is a restless place. In the small delta state of Akwa Ibom, the tension and the poverty has delivered an opportunity for a new and terrible phenomenon that is leading to the abuse and the murder of hundreds, perhaps thousands, of children. And it is being done in the name of Christianity.

A gunman killed two staff members at a missionary training center early Sunday after being told he couldn't spend the night, and about 12 hours later four people were shot at a busy megachurch in Colorado Springs.

Steadily lengthening delays in the resolution of Social Security disability claims have left hundreds of thousands of people in a kind of purgatory, now waiting as long as three years for a decision.

Tengrain Presents...Chimpy McStagger in...Pants on fire

Winter Soldier

Saturday, December 08, 2007

My Favorite Albums of 2007

The National Lights
The Dead Will Walk, Dear (Bloodshake Records)

Okkervil River - The Stage Names

Okkervill River
The Stage Names (Jagjaguwar)

King Khan & His Shrines - What Is?!

King Khan & The Shrines
What Is?! (Hazelwood)

Sir Richard Bishop - While My Guitar Violently Bleeds

Sir Richard Bishop
While My Guitar Violently Bleeds (Locust Music)

The Twilight Sad - Fourteen Autumns & Fifteen Winters

The Twilight Sad
Fourteen Autumns & Fifteen Winters (FatCat Records)

The Besnard Lakes - The Besnard Lakes Are the Dark Horse

The Besnard Lakes
Are the Dark Horse (Jagjaguwar)

Andrew Bird - Armchair Apocrypha

Andrew Bird
Armchair Apocrypha (Fat Possum)

Peel - Peel

Peel (Peek-a-boo)

Battles - Mirrored

Mirrored (Warp)

The Deep Dark Woods - Hang Me, Oh Hang Me

The Deep Dark Woods
Hang Me, Oh Hang Me (Black Hen)

Frog Eyes - Tears of the Valedictorian

Frog Eyes
Tears of the Valedictorian (Absolutely Kosher)

Other releases that I enjoyed listening to this year:

Richard Thompson - Sweet Warrior
Black Diamond Heavies - Every Damn Time
Deerhunter - Cryptograms
The National - Boxer
David Kilgour - The Far Now
Arbouretum - Rites of Uncovering
Thrushes - Sun Come Undone
Cue - Wedding Song
My Teenage Stride - Ears Like Golden Bats
Wooden Stars - People Are Different
Howe Gelb - Upside Down Home 2007: Return to San Pedro
Emma Pollock - Watch the Fireworks
Atlantic Drone - Atlantic Drone
Deer Tick - War Elephant
Sleepytime Gorilla Museum - In Glorious Times
Deerhoof - Friend Opportunity
Sir Richard Bishop - Polytheistic Fragments
Caribou - Andorra
Kristin Hersh - Learn to Sing Like a Star
The Ponys - Turn the Lights Out
Black Lips - Los Valientes del Mundo Nuevo
My Little Airport - We Can't Stop Smoking in the Vicious and Blue Summer
Von Südenfed - Tromatic Reflexxions
Red Crayola with Art & Language - Sighs Trapped By Liars
Greyhound Soul - Tonight and Every Night

saturday reads

White House and Justice Department officials, along with senior members of Congress, advised the Central Intelligence Agency in 2003 against a plan to destroy hundreds of hours of videotapes showing the interrogations of two operatives of Al Qaeda, government officials said Friday.

The chief of the agency’s clandestine service nevertheless ordered their destruction in November 2005, taking the step without notifying even the C.I.A.’s own top lawyer, John A. Rizzo, who was angry at the decision, the officials said.

Kevin Drum: What the tapes Would Have Shown
Glenn Greenwald: "Missing" evidence is familiar Bush pattern
Scott Horton: Obstruction of Justice at the CIA

List of 'Willing' U.S. Allies Shrinks Steadily in Iraq

Kucinich’s (non)Battle with the Press

House Democratic leaders could complete work as soon as Monday on a half-trillion-dollar spending package that will include billions of dollars for the war effort in Iraq without the timelines for the withdrawal of combat forces that President Bush has refused to accept, House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer (D-Md.) said yesterday.

Paul Krugman: Darth Vader blogging

Sean Penn - Piano Wire Puppeteers: The Constitution, Media, & Dennis Kucinich

Paco De Lucia shreds

Friday, December 07, 2007


City ordered to put booted APD officer back on force

Beating a man found sleeping at an East Austin bus stop last year cost APD officer Gary Griffin his job.

A police dash cam video of the July 2006 incident is what then-acting Austin Police Chief Cathy Ellison used to make her decision to kick Griffin off the force nearly six months later for using excessive force.

Griffin appealed that decision. It has taken about a year for the arbitration process, but he won.

friday random ten

TBogg Memorial Edition

The Fall - This Nation's Saving Grace
#1 "Barmy" - The Fall [This Nation's Saving Grace]

#2 "I'd Like To Make a Complaint" - The Arm [Call You Out]

Agent Orange - Real Live Sound
#3 "Say It Isn't True" - Agent Orange [Real Live Sound]

Galaxie 500 - On Fire
#4 "Isn't It a Pity" - Galaxie 500 [On Fire]

Smoosh - She Like Electric
#5 "To Walk Away From" - Smoosh [She Like Electric]

Elvis Costello - All This Useless Beauty
#6 "All This Useless Beauty" - Elvis Costello & The Attractions [All This Useless Beauty]

Spoon - Stay Don't Go
#7 "Stay Don't Go" - Spoon [Live at the Greek 8-12-2006)]

Fleetwood Mac - Fleetwood Mac Live
#8 "Oh Well" - Fleetwood Mac [Live]

Shoulders - Trashman Shoes
#9 "Fare Thee Well" - Shoulders [Trashman Shoes]

Hot Hot Heat - Make Up the Breakdown
#10 "Oh, Goddamnit" - Hot Hot Heat [Make Up the Breakdown]

Video Bonus #11: Nirvana - "Lake of Fire" (Meat Puppets cover)

Where do bad folks go when they die
They don't go to heaven where the angels fly
Go to a lake of fire and fry
see them again 'till the Fourth of July

I knew a lady who came from Duluth
Bitten by a dog with a rabid tooth
She went to her grave just a little too soon
Threw a late howl at the yellow moon

Where do bad folks go when they die
They don't go to heaven where the angels fly
Go to a lake of fire and fry
see them again 'till the Fourth of July

People cry and people moan
Look for a dry place to call their home
Try to find some place to rest their bones
While the angels and the devils try to make 'em their own

Where do bad folks go when they die
They don't go to heaven where the angels fly
Go to a lake of fire and fry
see them again 'till the Fourth of July

friday reads

The Central Intelligence Agency in 2005 destroyed at least two videotapes documenting the interrogation of two Qaeda operatives in the agency’s custody, a step it took in the midst of Congressional and legal scrutiny about its secret detention program, according to current and former government officials.

$1B In Military Equipment Missing In Iraq

Dave Neiwert on the Dems capitulating yet again. This time on the Hate Crimes Bill.

Juan Cole - Some Beliefs are More Equal than Others

The Golden Compass: The Making of Philip Pullman's Epic Fantasy

War on Greed (A video by Robert Greenwald)

Henry Kravis is a billionaire, the 57th richest person in America. He acquired this wealth by purchasing public companies with borrowed money. To pay off the debt, he cuts benefits at the company, sells its assets, and lays off employees.

This get-rich-quick scheme made him $450 million last year. Meanwhile, his tax rate is lower than teachers, firemen, nurses, even his own cleaning staff!

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Sibel Edmonds Update

Let Sibel Edmonds Speak

thursday reads

Dan Froomkin takes a look at Preznit bu$h's pattern of deception on Iran.

Scott Horton takes a look at Fritz Stern's Imperial Hubris: A German Tale

Former bu$h counselor Dan Bartlett on the usefulness of right wing blogs:

That’s what I mean by influential. I mean, talk about a direct IV into the vein of your support. It’s a very efficient way to communicate. They regurgitate exactly and put up on their blogs what you said to them. It is something that we’ve cultivated and have really tried to put quite a bit of focus on.

Martha Rosenberg: The Many Faces of Big Pharma’s Disease Mongering

Jesus' General: The Electric Kool-Aid PhRMA Quest

Bipartisan PRO IP Bill Turns White House Into Hollywood's Private Enforcemet Agency

About one in every 31 adults in the United States was in prison, in jail or on supervised release at the end of last year, the Department of Justice reported yesterday.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

wednesday reads

The risks of food riots and malnutrition will surge in the next two years as the global supply of grain comes under more pressure than at any time in 50 years, according to one of the world's leading agricultural researchers.

Barbara Ehrenreich: McMansions Meet the Morgage Crisis

According to internal State Department cables obtained by TPMmuckraker, the State Department has slated two Diplomatic Security officials who oversee private-security contractors guarding U.S. diplomats in Iraq and Afghanistan for salary bonuses. The optional bonuses, called Senior Foreign Service Performance Pay Awards, come months after administrative investigations have raised questions about the propriety of State's relationship with security contractors like Blackwater.

Pentagon Appears Poised to Resume Open-Air Testing of Biological Weapons

Passport Canada says that a security breach in its passport application website that allowed easy access to the personal information of applicants has been repaired.

Young Professor Makes Lab-on-a-Chip with Shrinky Dink and Toaster Oven

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

tuesday reads

How America Lost the War on Drugs

With 19,000 deaths attributed to staph infections annually, there's cause for serious alarm. So why aren't we talking about our nightmarish prison system, the biggest incubator of them all?

The Taliban today carried out a suicide attack on a Nato convoy that injured at least 22 Afghan civilians to "welcome" the US defence secretary to Kabul.

The MPAA's "University Toolkit" (a piece of monitoring software that universities are being asked to install on their networks to spy on students' communications) has been taken down, due to copyright violations.

Sloppy Police Lab Work Leads to Retesting in Houston New York City

Monday, December 03, 2007

monday reads

Tomgram: Iraq as a Pentagon Construction Site

Chavez's proposed changes to the Venesuelan Constitution is defeated 51% to 49%.

Like a ticking time bomb, the national debt is an explosion waiting to happen. It's expanding by about $1.4 billion a day — or nearly $1 million a minute.

As the Supreme Court prepares to hear the next major challenge to Bush's imperial power grab, AlterNet talks with Michael Ratner, who has been at the center of the battle over the administration's human rights assault.

The Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act: A Tutorial in Orwellian Newspeak

Paul Krugman: Innovating Our Way to Financial Crisis

Scientists on Monday announced the discovery of what appears to be the world's most intact dinosaur mummy: a 67-million-year-old plant-eater that contains fossilized bones and skin tissue, and possibly muscle and organs.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

State science curriculum director resigns under pressure

News 8 Austin

The state's director of science curriculum has resigned under pressure from Texas Education Ignorance Agency officials after nine years on the job.

Agency documents show officials were concerned that Chris Comer gave the appearance of criticizing the instruction of intelligent design.

saturday reads

Terror suspects reportedly tortured in custody of Jordanian spy agency working covertly with U.S.

Over the past seven years, an imposing building on the outskirts of this city has served as a secret holding cell for the CIA.

The building is the headquarters of the General Intelligence Department, Jordan's powerful spy and security agency. Since 2000, at the CIA's behest, at least 12 non-Jordanian terrorism suspects have been detained and interrogated here, according to documents and former prisoners, human rights advocates, defense lawyers and former U.S. officials.

In most of the cases, the spy center served as a covert way station for CIA prisoners captured in other countries. It was a place where they could be hidden after being arrested and kept for a few days or several months before being moved on to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, or CIA prisons elsewhere in the world.

Detroit Metro Times interviews former Marine Corps intelligence officer and chief UN weapons inspector in Iraq (1991-1998) Scott Ritter about the bu$h regimes eye on Iran:
MT: What's the motivation?

Ritter: The ideologues who are in there believe the United States in the post-Cold War environment needed to fill the gap created by the demise of the Soviet Union so that no nation or group of nations would ever again confront us as equals. And in order to do this, they basically divided the world into spheres of strategic interest and said we will impose our will. And the Middle East is one such area. There's a whole host of reasons to do this.

It's not just supporting Israel. It's not just taking down Saddam. It's about geopolitics. It's about looking down the road toward China and India, the world's two largest developing economies, especially the Chinese, and the absolute fear that this resurgent Chinese economy brings in the hearts of American industrialists and the need to dictate the pace of Chinese economic development by controlling their access to energy. And controlling central Asian and Middle East energy areas is key in the strategic thinking of the Bush administration.

So, there's a lot of complexity at play here. But you say why do they want to do this? It's about as Condoleezza Rice continuously says before the U.S. Congress: It's about regional transformation, inclusive of regime change. It turns the Middle East into a sphere of interest that we have tremendous control over. That's what's behind all this.


MT: But it is now clearer than ever that our invasion of Iraq has been a disaster. How do you explain the lack of opposition?

Ritter: It's difficult to explain. First of all you have to note, from the public side, that very few Americans actually function as citizens anymore. What I mean by that are people who invest themselves in this country, people who care, who give a damn. Americans are primarily consumers today, and so long as they continue to wrap themselves in the cocoon of comfort, and the system keeps them walking down a road to the perceived path of prosperity, they don't want to rock the boat. If it doesn't have a direct impact on their day-to-day existence, they simply don't care.

There's a minority of people who do, but the majority of Americans don't. And if the people don't care — and remember, the people are the constituents — if the constituents don't care, then those they elect to higher office won't feel the pressure to change.

Ruh Roh: The man who devised the Bush administration's Iraq troop surge has urged the US to consider sending elite troops to Pakistan to seize its nuclear weapons if the country descends into chaos.

On the eve of World AIDS Day Saturday, the U.S. Park Police arrested 40 demonstrators outside the White House as they chanted for sweeping changes to the George W. Bush administration’s domestic and global AIDS policies.

Jon Swift: Journalism 101

America's finest news source moves their home office to Onion Field.

Friday, November 30, 2007

friday reads

Thousands of knife-wielding protesters took to the streets of Khartoum today to demand the execution of the British primary school teacher who let children in her class name a teddy bear Muhammad.

In a lucrative new form of fiscal alchemy, a growing number of hospitals, working with a range of financial companies, are squeezing revenue from patients with little or no health insurance.

Midnight Oil's frontman Peter Garrett named Australia's Environment Minister

Tommy K and the Shitpile

A former flight attendant has sued JetBlue Airways, saying he was fired because the airline found out he was Muslim.

Obama's eating of vegetables fuels rumors about him. (WaPo Cartoonist Toles Mocks His Paper)

The USG Open Source Center translates an interview in an Argentinian newspaper with International Atomic Energy Agency head, Mohamed Elbaradei, on how to deal with the Iranian nuclear research program. He cautions that a direct military attack would almost guarantee that Iran develops an atomic bomb.

John Scalzi gives a report on the Creation Museum.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

thursday reads

Ethiopian soldiers have forcibly drafted hundreds of civilians to fight separatist rebels in the desolate, predominantly Muslim Ogaden region in a shadowy military campaign supported by the Bush administration, according to more than a dozen refugees and former recruits who've fled to neighboring Kenya.

Wired on the Human Terrain Team program

Nearly two-thirds of Americans do not trust press coverage of the 2008 presidential campaign, according to a new Harvard University survey, which also revealed four out of five people believe coverage focuses too much on the trivial -- and more than 60% believe coverage is politically biased.

Confessions of a Covert Agent

A new study suggests that too much money is wasted on low-risk crime targets. Both crime and prison populations could be reduced dramatically by focusing on the “power few” criminals who commit the most crime, according to Lawrence Sherman, Director of the Jerry Lee Center of Criminology at the University of Pennsylvania and Professor of Criminology at Cambridge University, UK.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Glenn Greenwald

Bad Stenographers

wednesday reads

Under the guise of a bill that calls for the study of "homegrown terrorism," Congress is apparently trying to broaden the definition of terrorism to encompass both First Amendment political activity and traditional forms of protest such as nonviolent civil disobedience, according to civil liberties advocates, scholars and historians.

More than one in 10 people in the United States go hungry, according to new official figures that suggest government food programs are falling short in the world's wealthiest country.

The Department of Veterans Affairs fell farther behind this year in its attempts to give veterans timely decisions on their disability claims, new records show.

Scott Bloch, the Bush-appointed head of the US Office of Special Counsel, is under investigation for the alleged improper deletion of emails on office computers.

Judge rules police must return 39 marijuana plants to couple (via Talk Left)

Judge removed from bench after ordering collective punishment

A US judge has been removed from the bench after jailing 46 people when a mobile phone began ringing during his court session and no one would own up.

The entire courtroom was sent to the cells during a domestic violence hearing when the judge, Robert Restaino, 48, "snapped" and - according to a review of his actions - "engaged in what can only be described as two hours of inexplicable madness".

The State Commission on Judicial Conduct recommended his removal from the bench, saying Restaino acted "without any semblance of a lawful basis" and behaved like a "petty tyrant".

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

tuesday reads

The Ordeal of Catherine Wilkerson, M.D.

White House Releases "Principles" for Permanent Iraqi Presence

UN report: 10 years to change our ways

The world has less than a decade to change course to avoid irreversible ecological catastrophe, the UN warned today.


The report, commissioned by the UN Development Programme, said climate change would hit the least-developed countries the hardest.

"The poorest countries and most vulnerable citizens will suffer the earliest and most damaging setbacks, even though they have contributed least to the problem," the report says.

"Looking to the future, no country - however wealthy or powerful - will be immune to the impact of global warming."

The panel says the greatest financial responsibility lies with the US and other well-developed countries most responsible for the rising levels of carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping gases in the atmosphere, mainly from the use of coal, oil and other fossil fuels.

Public libraries under private, for-profit management.

Things I done did learn today

Monday, November 26, 2007

monday reads

Hundreds of U.S. troops in Iraq have committed suicide since the war began in 2003, though this subject is kept quiet by the military.

Saudi Arabia's Justice Ministry said a girl who it sentenced to jail time and flogging after being gang raped by seven men was an adulteress who invited the attack because at the time she was partially dressed in a parked car with her lover.

Trent Lott to resign, spend more time with his family.

Dahr Jamail on "Tactical Perception Management" in Iraq

The Moonie Times reports that Islamic radicals planned to attack Ft. Huachuca. Meanwhile, military training programs for teens expands.

Sheeple go further into debt over the holidaze.

Researchers End Debate Over Fractal Analysis Of Authentication Of Pollock's Art

Saturday, November 24, 2007

saturday reads

Congratulations, Australia! Good riddance to John Howard.

Children by the thousands are entering the U.S. illegally - without their parents.

Bob Herbert: Lost in a Flood of Debt

Think Progress: ‘Wave Of Violence’ Against Women In Iraq Undercuts White House’s Claims Of Success

TPM's Bush Secrecy List

Former Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien says that it was among the great victories in his life that he stood against US pressure to join in the Iraq War.

Matt Taibbi: Mike Huckabee Is Not a Sane Man

Friday, November 23, 2007

friday reads

At least 20,000 U.S. troops who were not classified as wounded during combat in Iraq and Afghanistan have been found with signs of brain injuries, according to military and veterans records compiled by USA TODAY.

Federal officials are routinely asking courts to order cellphone companies to furnish real-time tracking data without probable cause

Tanks and heavily armed troops in armoured vehicles were out in force on Beirut's streets amid fears of a descent into violence as a parliament session to elect a successor to pro-Syrian President Emile Lahoud was delayed for a further week.

Paul Krugman: Banks Gone Wild

Naomi Klein - Shocked in Death, Shocked in Life: More Than a Taser Story

What Would Jesus Buy?

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

wednesday reads

Lost in the post: the personal details of 25 million people

Just in time for the holidays, there's a special place in Hell just waiting to be filled by some as-yet-unknown Pentagon bureaucrat. Apparently, thousands of wounded soldiers who served in Iraq are being asked to return part of their enlistment bonuses -- because their injuries prevented them from completing their tours.

A civilian contractor is accused of bribing a U.S. Army official in Kuwait to win millions of dollars in business with the military, according to a federal indictment disclosed Tuesday.

The Bush administration is threatening that it will issue furlough notices to up to 150,000 civilian workers at military bases in mid-December if Congress does not approve unrestricted Iraq funding immediately.

Keith Olbermann's Countdouwn: Bush Was A Passively Involved “Liar In Chief”

Paging Patrick Fitzgerald. Your services are needed in DC.

Not since the "Patriot Act" of 2001 has any bill so threatened our constitutionally guaranteed rights.

Three years after a devastating United States-led siege of the city, residents of Fallujah continue to struggle with a shattered economy, infrastructure and lack of mobility.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

tuesday reads

Grand Jury Probe Goes beyond Blackwater

Federal authorities have convened a grand jury to investigate multiple shootings involving private security contractors in Iraq, including a Sept. 16 incident in which guards for Blackwater Worldwide killed 17 civilians at a Baghdad traffic circle, according to sources familiar with the investigation.

The Washington grand jury has issued subpoenas to several private security firms, including Blackwater, a legal source briefed on the probe said yesterday. Authorities are seeking company "after-action" reports and other documents that may shed light on specific incidents, he said.

The source, speaking on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the probe, declined to say which incidents have been targeted, but he said the investigation ranges well beyond Blackwater. Private security companies in Iraq "have been shooting a lot of people," he said.

The U.S. military plans to seek a criminal case in an Iraqi court against an award-winning Associated Press photographer but is refusing to disclose what evidence or accusations would be presented.

The number of Americans in prison has risen eight-fold since 1970, with little impact on crime but at great cost to taxpayers and society, researchers said in a report calling for a major justice-system overhaul.

Jane Smiley: Why Human Rights are More Important than National Security

Civil servants join huge French strike

Monday, November 19, 2007

The Warning presents The Warning, a politically powerful new music video featuring Grammy Award-winning artist Trent Reznor. The Warning takes on the covert interests behind the war and our media saturated society. From war crimes to the destruction of the environment and a celebrity-obsessed culture, The Warning is a clarion call to action for an apathetic nation.

monday reads

Aid poured into Bangladesh today as the death toll from Cyclone Sidr spiralled above 3,000, with fears that thousands more bodies have yet to be found.

John Brown: Too Parocial for Empire

Paul Krugman: Republicans and Race

Goldman Sachs cashes in on the credit crisis.

Yet another person dies by taser.

Headline of the Day: Expectations low for U.S.-Mideast peace talks

Worst. Op-Ed Day. Ever.

more explosive than the Pentagon Papers

Brad Blog

"I'd say what she has is far more explosive than the Pentagon Papers," Daniel Ellsberg told us in regard to former FBI translator turned whistleblower Sibel Edmonds.

"From what I understand, from what she has to tell, it has a major difference from the Pentagon Papers in that it deals directly with criminal activity and may involve impeachable offenses," Ellsberg explained. "And I don't necessarily mean the President or the Vice-President, though I wouldn't be surprised if the information reached up that high. But other members of the Executive Branch may be impeached as well. And she says similar about Congress."

Let Sibel Edmonds Speak

Sunday, November 18, 2007

sunday reads

They were told depleted uranium was not hazardous. Now, 23 years after a US arms plant closed, workers and residents have cancer - and experts say their suffering shows the use of such weapons may be a war crime

While Congress and President Bush squabble over health insurance for low-income children, school officials nationwide are scrambling each day to find affordable medical care so that sick and needy students can continue to learn.

Patients Without Borders

Long before the dentists and the doctors got there, before the nurses, the hygienists and X-ray techs came, before anyone had flicked on the portable mammography unit or sterilized the day’s first set of surgical instruments, the people who needed them showed up to wait. It was 3 a.m. at the Wise County Fairgrounds in Virginia — Friday, July 20, 2007 — the start of a rainy Appalachian morning. Outside the gates, people lay in their trucks or in tents pitched along the grassy parking lot, waiting for their chance to have their medical needs treated at no charge — part of an annual three-day “expedition” led by a volunteer medical relief corps called Remote Area Medical.

The group, most often referred to as RAM, has sent health expeditions to countries like Guyana, India, Tanzania and Haiti, but increasingly its work is in the United States, where 47 million people — more than 15 percent of the population — live without health insurance.

In the foreclosure crisis of 2007, thousands of American families are losing their homes without ever missing a payment. They are renters in houses whose owners default on their mortgages — a large but little noticed class of casualties.

Friday, November 16, 2007

friday reads

A cyclone that hit the coast of Bangladesh has devastated three towns, killing more than 500 people and injuring thousands more, government officials said today.

Tom Engelhardt - How Dry We Are: A Question No One Wants to Raise About Drought

Three young black men break into a white man's home in rural Northern California. The homeowner shoots two of them to death — but it's the surviving black man who is charged with murder.

A southern Georgia sheriff faces federal charges accusing him of billing inmates for room and board and interfering with an FBI investigation of local judges.

Fuck the Poor

Like the other Gulf Coast states battered by Hurricane Katrina, Mississippi was required by Congress to spend half of its billions in federal grant money to help low-income citizens trying to recover from the storm.

But so far, the state has spent $1.7 billion in federal money on programs that have mostly benefited relatively affluent residents and big businesses. The money has gone to compensate many middle- and upper-income homeowners, to aid utility companies whose equipment was damaged and to prop up the state’s insurance system.

Just $167 million, or about 10 percent of the federal money, has been spent on programs dedicated to helping the poor, mostly through a smaller grant program for lower-income homeowners.

And while that total will certainly increase, Mississippi has set aside just 23 percent of its $5.5 billion grant money — $1.25 billion — for these programs. About 37 percent of the residents of the state’s coast are low income, according to federal figures.

Paul Krugman: Played for a Sucker

Daily Show writer explains writers' strike -- if digital content isn't worth anything, how come Viacom is suing YouTube for $1 billion?

Dinosaur From Sahara Ate Like A 'Mesozoic Cow'