Friday, February 15, 2008

friday reads

Four years in the making, a groundbreaking new map of the state of the world's oceans was released today, and its message is stark: Human activity has left a mark on nearly every square kilometer of sea, severely compromising ecosystems in more than 40% of waters.

Tony Blair wrongly influenced due legal process when he used "irresistible pressure" to end the Serious Fraud Office's investigation into alleged bribery and corruption involving arms deals between BAE Systems and Saudi Arabia, it was alleged in the High Court yesterday.

Chad has declared a state of emergency for 15 days, granting extra government powers to restore order after recent rebel attacks.

The final House vote results for the adoption of H. Res. 979 and H. Res. 980, contempt of Congress resolutions.

Keith Olbermann's Special Comment on FISA.

Jonathan Schwarz: The Lost Kristol Tapes

Band bios and mp3s are now up for SXSW 2008 artists

Court overturns Texas ban on sex toys

A federal appeals court has struck down a Texas law that makes it a crime to promote or sell sex toys.

"Whatever one might think or believe about the use of these devices," said an opinion written by Justice Thomas M. Reavley of the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans, "government interference with their personal and private use violates the Constitution."

Molly Ivins: Dildo Diaries

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

wednesday reads

Glenn Greenwald: Amnesty Day for Bush and lawbreaking telecoms


Yesterday, the Senate enthusiastically endorsed the Administration's wireless wiretapping program (and voted to stop the 40 or so lawsuits against the telecoms for cooperating with it). Now the question becomes whether members of the House will stand by their bill, which contains stronger court oversight of the spying and does not contain retroactive immunity for the telecoms.

The early signs from the House leadership have been that they will strongly oppose the Senate version. The chairmen of the two relevant committees, House Judiciary Committee Chair John Conyers (D-MI) and House intel committee Chair Silvestre Reyes (D-TX), both say they oppose the Senate bill. Conyers has said outright that he opposes such immunity, while Reyes says he needs more time to review the documents from the program "to make a determination." The House leadership has been making similar noises.

But it will indeed be a battle. The administration has put the pressure on any way it can. It's threatened to veto any bill that does not grant retroactive immunity to the telecoms. It is refusing to agree to any further extension of the Protect America Act -- which, after last month's 15-day extension is set to lapse this Friday -- and is revving up for another round of excoriating Democrats for attempting to extend that deadline while simultaneously warning what a calamity it will be if the bill does lapse.

The Senate overwhelming voted Tuesday evening to legalize President Bush's warrantless wiretapping program and grant amnesty to the phone companies that helped out with the domestic spying..

The 68 to 29 vote is a major step in radically re-configuring 30 year-old limits on how the nation's spying services operate inside America's borders. The vote also deals a severe blow to civil liberties groups that are suing companies such as AT&T and Verizon for turning over millions of American's phone records to the government, and for helping the government wiretap American's phone and internet communications without a court order.

The bill, which expires in six years, allows the government to install permanent wiretapping outposts in telephone and internet facilities inside the United States without a warrant. However, if those wiretaps are used to target Americans inside or outside of the country, the government would have to get a court order. However, if the target is a foreigner or a foreign corporation, and they call an American or an American calls them, no warrant is required.

Scott Horton: Treating the Constitution as a Doormat

Preznit bu$h at long last admitted what everyone has suspected for years -- the nation's telecommunications companies closely cooperated with the National Security Agency and his administration to implement large-scale spying on Americans.

The Asian arms race gathers speed

Brad Blog: Valerie Plame Wilson Describes Sibel Edmonds Disclosures as 'Stunning'

Not holding my breath: Democratic House leaders plan to force a vote as early as Thursday on holding Joshua B. Bolten, White House chief of staff, and Harriet E. Miers, former White House counsel, in contempt of Congress.

John Cole: There is a very real and perverse possibility that the NFL will face tougher sanctions for spying on practice squads and covering it up than the telecoms and this President will face for spying on the citizenry and lying about it.

A Bush administration plan to crack down on contract fraud has a multibillion-dollar loophole: The proposal to force companies to report abuse of taxpayer money will not apply to work overseas, including projects to secure and rebuild Iraq and Afghanistan.

Partners In Crime: The Clintons, the Bushes, and BCCI

Signe Wilkinson
Philadelphia Daily News
Feb 13, 2008

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

tuesday reads

Nick Davies: How the spooks took over the news

Matt Taibbi: The Chicken Doves - Elected to end the war, Democrats have surrendered to Bush on Iraq and betrayed the peace movement for their own political ends

Michael Scwhartz: Iraq's broken pieces don't fit together

Naomi Klein - Police and Tasers: Hooked on Shock

Scott Horton: Democracy G.O.P. Style in Washington State

Robert Bryce: Reconsidering the Death of Col. Ted Westhusing

Happy 199th Birthday Charles Darwin!

Mikhaela Reid
Metro Times (Detroit)
Feb 12, 2008

Monday, February 11, 2008

Criminal Complaint Filed Against House Speaker Craddick

A criminal complaint was filed with Travis County prosecutors this morning asking them to determine whether Speaker Tom Craddick is illegally trying to buy support for his re-election as House leader.

monday reads

NYT - Army Buried Study Faulting Iraq Planning

The Army is accustomed to protecting classified information. But when it comes to the planning for the Iraq war, even an unclassified assessment can acquire the status of a state secret.

That is what happened to a detailed study of the planning for postwar Iraq prepared for the Army by the RAND Corporation, a federally financed center that conducts research for the military.

After 18 months of research, RAND submitted a report in the summer of 2005 called “Rebuilding Iraq.” RAND researchers provided an unclassified version of the report along with a secret one, hoping that its publication would contribute to the public debate on how to prepare for future conflicts.

But the study’s wide-ranging critique of the White House, the Defense Department and other government agencies was a concern for Army generals, and the Army has sought to keep the report under lock and key.

A review of the lengthy report — a draft of which was obtained by The New York Times — shows that it identified problems with nearly every organization that had a role in planning the war. That assessment parallels the verdicts of numerous former officials and independent analysts.

Michael Schwartz: Iraq's Tidal Wave of Misery

EU officials furious as Washington says it wants extra data on all air passengers:
The US administration is pressing the 27 governments of the European Union to sign up for a range of new security measures for transatlantic travel, including allowing armed guards on all flights from Europe to America by US airlines.

The demand to put armed air marshals on to the flights is part of a travel clampdown by the Bush administration that officials in Brussels described as "blackmail" and "troublesome", and could see west Europeans and Britons required to have US visas if their governments balk at Washington's requirements.

According to a US document being circulated for signature in European capitals, EU states would also need to supply personal data on all air passengers overflying but not landing in the US in order to gain or retain visa-free travel to America, senior EU officials said.

Kang Khek Ieu was known as 'Cambodia's Himmler', a torturer who oversaw the deaths of 17,000 people. As he prepares to go on trial, he gives a chilling insight into the Khmer Rouge – the most detailed account yet from a top henchman.

Scott Horton: Corruption in a U.S. Attorney's Office

TPM takes a look at what happened in the Republican caucus in Washington state. WTF?

Chris Hedges: The war Against Tolerance

Dwane Powell
News and Observer
Feb 11, 2008

James Wolcott has a short essay at on the influence of Donald Barthelme. (via A Tiny Revolution)

For All the Fucked Up Children of the World...

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Should You Watch the Grammys?

Ask Vulture:
Should You Watch the Grammys?

(click image)

sunday undercover - sand

Lee Hazlewood with Suzi Jane Hokum - Sand
The Very Special World of Lee Hazlewood (1966)

Lee Hazlewood

Young woman share your fire with me my heart is cold my soul is free
I am a stranger in your land wandering man they call me Sand

Oh sir my fire is very small it will not warm thy heart at all
But thee may take me by the hand hold me and I'll call thee Sand

Young woman share your fire with me...

At night when stars light up the sky oh sir I dream my fire is high
Oh taste these lips sir if you can wandering man I'll call Thee Sand

Oh sir my fire is burning high if it should stop sir I would die
A shooting star has crossed my land wandering man she whispered Sand Sand

Young woman shared her fire with me now warms herself with memories
I was a stranger in her land wandering man she called me Sand

He was a stranger in my land wandering man she called me Sand

Nancy Sinatra with Lee Hazlewood - Sand
How Does That Grab You? (1966)

Einst├╝rzende Neubauten - Sand
Halber Mensch (1986)

OP8 - Sand
Slush (1997)