Saturday, October 13, 2007

saturday reads

Burma after the riots

With the killing of an unknowable number of peaceful protesters and the imprisonment of thousands more during the pro-democracy demonstrations last month, many people fear reprisals by the military. At the Shwedagon pagoda, the nucleus of the protests, the military is still in force. Wearing steel helmets, flak jackets and carrying extra ammunition, the number of troops far exceeds the few old monks who potter among the golden spires of what is the spiritual centre of Burmese life.

Oh, the irony
U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice told Russian human rights activists on Saturday she wanted to help them build institutions to protect people from the 'arbitrary power of the state'.

"I think that there is too much concentration of power in the Kremlin," she later told reporters.

Her remarks and the meeting with eight human rights leaders could irk the Kremlin, which is sensitive to Western accusations it is rolling back democratic freedoms and suspects foreign governments of trying to influence next year's presidential election.

"Continued manipulations and adjustments to our military strategy will not achieve victory..."
The White House insisted that progress was being made in Iraq after a former top US commander there assailed its strategy and lamented that the war was "a nightmare with no end in sight."

Retired Lieutenant General Ricardo Sanchez delivered a scathing assessment of the management of the war as he denounced US political leaders as "incompetent," "inept" and "derelict in the performance of their duty."

"There is no question that America is living a nightmare with no end in sight," said Sanchez on Friday, addressing a meeting of military correspondents and editors in Arlington, a Virginia suburb of Washington.

WaPo: Former Qwest executive, appealing conviction for insider trading, alleges contract was withdrawn after refusal to participate in spy program.
A former Qwest Communications International executive, appealing a conviction for insider trading, has alleged that the government withdrew opportunities for contracts worth hundreds of millions of dollars after Qwest refused to participate in an unidentified National Security Agency program that the company thought might be illegal.

Former chief executive Joseph P. Nacchio, convicted in April of 19 counts of insider trading, said the NSA approached Qwest more than six months before the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, according to court documents unsealed in Denver this week.

Details about the alleged NSA program have been redacted from the documents, but Nacchio's lawyer said last year that the NSA had approached the company about participating in a warrantless surveillance program to gather information about Americans' phone records.

In the court filings disclosed this week, Nacchio suggests that Qwest's refusal to take part in that program led the government to cancel a separate, lucrative contract with the NSA in retribution. He is using the allegation to try to show why his stock sale should not have been considered improper.

Friday, October 12, 2007

friday reads

The former US vice-president Al Gore and the UN climate change panel will share the 2007 Nobel peace prize for raising awareness of the risks of climate change, the Nobel committee announced today.

CIA investigates conduct of its inspector general

CIA Director Michael V. Hayden has mounted a highly unusual challenge to the agency's chief watchdog, ordering an internal investigation of an inspector general who has issued a series of scathing reports sharply critical of top CIA officials, according to government officials familiar with the matter.

The move has prompted concerns that Hayden is seeking to rein in an inspector general who has used the office to bring harsh scrutiny of CIA figures including former Director George J. Tenet and undercover operatives running secret overseas prison sites.

The inquiry is focused on the conduct of CIA Inspector General John L. Helgerson and his office. Officials said it was aimed in particular at evaluating whether his office was fair and impartial in its scrutiny of the agency's terrorist detention and interrogation programs. But officials said the probe also spanned other subjects and had expanded since it was launched several months ago.

More and more working Americans are realizing that the game is rigged against them.

Paul Krugman: Sliming Graeme Frost

Juan Cole: Who Lost Turkey?

After erecting Three Gorges dam, China warns of its perils

Whatever else Blackwater is or isn't guilty of—a topic of intense interest in Washington—it has a well-earned reputation in Iraq for arrogance and high-handedness.

Houston lawyers to file second Keller complaint over refusal to allow final death appeal

can i haz LoLcat bibl?
Genesis 1-22: & Ceiling Cat sented them hais, & stuff, so letz u be happy & stuff. And0 sed all u aminals & burdiez & fishz go has baby aminals & brrdz & fishz & dont worry i wont watch u has sexxes, cept 4 SUPRIZE BUTTSECKZ!!!!!!!

(h/t Athenae)

Thursday, October 11, 2007

thursday reads

Several Burmese pro-democracy activists arrested in the recent demonstrations, including two young Rangoon University students, have been tortured to death while being pressed to disclose the whereabouts of comrades on the run, human rights organisations reported today.

The Marine Corps is pressing to remove its forces from Iraq and to send marines instead to Afghanistan, to take over the leading role in combat there, according to senior military and Pentagon officials.

Turkey warned on Thursday that relations with its NATO ally the United States would be harmed by a U.S. House committee's approval of a resolution calling the 1915 massacres of Armenians by Ottoman Turks genocide.

Judge Suspends Key Bush Effort in Immigration

A federal judge in San Francisco ordered an indefinite delay yesterday of a central measure of the Bush administration’s new strategy to curb illegal immigration.

The judge, Charles R. Breyer of the Northern District of California, said the government had failed to follow proper procedures for issuing a new rule that would have forced employers to fire workers if their Social Security numbers could not be verified within three months.

Judge Breyer chastised the Department of Homeland Security for making a policy change with “massive ramifications” for employers, without giving any legal explanation or conducting a required survey of the costs and impact for small businesses.

Former President Jimmy Carter said Wednesday he is convinced the United States engages in torture that clearly breaches international law and told CNN President Bush creates his own definition of human rights to escape violating them.

Wired - NSA's Lucky Break: How the U.S. Became Switchboard to the World

No sooner did Alberto Gonzales resign as attorney general last month than he retained a high-powered Washington criminal-defense lawyer to represent him in continuing inquiries by Congress and the Justice Department.

New testimony released yesterday by the House Judiciary Committee reveals details about the alleged involvement of former Bush administration advisor Karl Rove in the prosecution of Democratic Alabama Governor Don Siegelman.

Nancy Gets testy with the Peasants

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

sex at the margins

Susie Bright intervews Laura Agustin, author of Sex at the Margins: Migration, Labor Markets and the Rescue Industry

wednesday reads

Two women died here on Tuesday when their white Oldsmobile was riddled by automatic gunfire from guards for a private security company, just weeks after a shooting by another company strained relations between the United States and Iraq.

The Israeli army has ordered the seizure of Palestinian land surrounding four West Bank villages apparently in order to hugely expand settlements around Jerusalem, it emerged yesterday.

An active member of Aung San Suu Kyi's opposition party in Burma has died under interrogation, as the crackdown against last month's protests continues.

Feeding the Hungry is a Crime

The stake-out was almost comical in its absurdity: On April 4, 2007, undercover police counted how many times Eric Montanez, a 22-year-old volunteer with Food Not Bombs, dipped a serving ladle into a pot and handed stew to hungry people.

Once Montanez had dished up 30 bowls, the police moved in, collecting a vial of the stew for evidence as they arrested him for violating an Orlando, Fla., city ordinance: feeding a large group. Two days into his trial yesterday, Montanez was acquitted by a jury of the misdemeanor charge, but was cautioned to obey the law.

As activists celebrate the verdict, the Orlando Police Department has said it will continue to ordinance, making the fight for the free flow of food in the city far from over.

Wingnuts send hate mail to

Why we curse: What the F***? (h/t BlondeSense)

Orcinus: Roosting Chickens, Part II

Sadly, No!: Put The Terror In Your Pants

Ezra Klein: What Has Happened To The Right?

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

word of the day

tuesday reads

Leak Severed a Link to Al-Qaeda's Secrets

A small private intelligence company that monitors Islamic terrorist groups obtained a new Osama bin Laden video ahead of its official release last month, and around 10 a.m. on Sept. 7, it notified the Bush administration of its secret acquisition. It gave two senior officials access on the condition that the officials not reveal they had it until the al-Qaeda release.

Within 20 minutes, a range of intelligence agencies had begun downloading it from the company's Web site. By midafternoon that day, the video and a transcript of its audio track had been leaked from within the Bush administration to cable television news and broadcast worldwide.

The founder of the company, the SITE Intelligence Group, says this premature disclosure tipped al-Qaeda to a security breach and destroyed a years-long surveillance operation that the company has used to intercept and pass along secret messages, videos and advance warnings of suicide bombings from the terrorist group's communications network.

At least 45 Pakistani soldiers and 150 pro-Taleban militants have died in three days of fierce fighting in North Waziristan, the Pakistani army says.

Killer Law
Last November, Nicaragua became the third country in the world, after Chile and El Salvador, to criminalize all abortions. There are no exceptions; not for rape, not for incest, not for threats to the life of the mother.

So far, this law has resulted in the deaths of at least 82 women.

Glenn Greenwald: What FISA capitulations are Democrats planning next?

Amy Goodman: Chevron’s Pipeline Is Regime’s Lifeline

At the recent FCC hearing in the Windy City, citizens came out in droves to voice their displeasure over the media landscape

AlterNet: The Government Sanctioned Bombing of Appalachia

Brewers SABMiller Plc and Molson Coors Brewing Co. are merging their U.S. and Puerto Rican operations in a joint venture designed to create a bigger, more efficient competitor in the cut-throat U.S. market with about $6.6-billion (U.S.) in revenue and a combined value estimated at $10-billion.

Monday, October 08, 2007

monday reads

As the UN Security Council prepares for a critical session on Burma tomorrow, India has broken ranks with Burma’s normally united front of supporters, issuing a call for opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi to be released from house arrest...

Iraq urges Blackwater prosecution

An official inquiry found the guards had not been attacked, as they had claimed, calling it a deliberate crime.

BBC News website's Kate McGeown returning from Rangoon
One woman told me that, for her, the most amazing thing about taking part in the protests was that everyone there trusted each other - something she had not experienced for a long time.

Fear is endemic in Burma, but then so too is bravery.

Each person taking part in the protests knew they were putting their lives at risk, yet they did so anyway.

Juan Cole
It is one of the great ironies that in the wake of September 11 and the illegal war on Iraq, the Bush administration has ended up de facto giving safe harbor to two major terrorist groups in the Middle East.

Stem cell research earns scientists Nobel Medicine prize

Paul Krugman: ...Mr. Bush hasn’t strayed from the path at all. On the contrary, he’s the very model of a modern movement conservative.

Anti-war protesters to defy ban for Parliament march (Independent UK)

Sunday, October 07, 2007

meet the neocons

Blimp TV