Friday, April 28, 2006

Something Different 

What's scarier than a crocodile? A crocodile with a chainsaw:
A crocodile agitated by a chainsaw's noise has chased the man operating it and snatched the machinery from him.

Freddy Buckland was at a Northern Territory roadhouse on Friday cutting a dead tree that had fallen against a saltwater crocodile pen during Cyclone Monica when the 4.4-metre reptile struck.

"As he was trimming up the tree on the outside the croc jumped out of the water and sped along the tree about 18, 20 feet and actually grabbed the chainsaw out of his hands," said Peter Shappert, the owner of the Corroboree Park Tavern, 80km east of Darwin.
A shark with a laser may still be scarier...



This is going to get very interesting.
More details this morning about the Brent Wilkes-Mitch Wade hooker ring, courtesy of the San Diego Union-Tribune:

Several of Wilkes' former employees and business associates say he used the hospitality suites over the past 15 years to curry favor with lawmakers as well as officials with the CIA, where both Wilkes and Wade sought contracts.

Wilkes hosted parties for lawmakers and periodic poker games that included CIA officials as well as members of the House Appropriations and Intelligence committees. Cunningham, who sat on both committees, was a frequent guest, according to some of the participants in the poker games.

And I'll be darned: Kyle "Dusty" Foggo, now the executive director of the CIA, liked to come to those "parties." The same ones now-CIA Director Porter Goss may have attended:

Now, if one of the hookers turned up dead, we'd have a Tom Clancy novel. IF CIA Director Porter Goss was at any of the parties, it is obviously a major bombshell. It would show that once again, the FBI background check were a complete failure. I would think that someone nominated to a post such as CIA Director, if he passed gas in the wrong direction, the FBI would know. Hookers at a poker party is an easy way to get blackmailed.


Monday, April 24, 2006

"Crimes Against America" 

A must read Glen Greenwald piece on the rise and crash of the wingnuts:
With all of the "crimes against America" that they single out, what is always missing is any identification of any actual harm to our national security. What is harmed by these crimes is always the political popularity of the President. But to them, that is the same thing. A weak George Bush means a weak America, so anyone who harms George Bush is harming America and hurting our efforts to fight The Terrorists.

During their glory years of 2002 and 2003, Bush followers became convinced that they were part of a movement that was going to lead America to renewed and profound glory under the heroic leadership of George W. Bush. They become so personally invested in the triumph of that dream. It gave them a feeling of strength and purpose. And now it has all crumbled. It's all been exposed as a sham and fraud. The President is one of the most unpopular and failed presidents we have had in some time, and their views have been rejected, discredited, and are increasingly reviled. And they are extremely angry about this and want vengeance on those they perceive as responsible.

The ever dwindling group of Bush followers has become a highly emotional group, having far more to do with psychological and emotional needs than political beliefs. Anger, hatred, rage and a desire for punishment are what fuels them, and they recognize no limits on what ought to be done to satisfy those cravings.


Wednesday, April 19, 2006


Is the CIA reading your blog?
President Bush and U.S. policy-makers are receiving more intelligence from open sources such as Internet blogs and foreign newspapers than they previously did, senior intelligence officials said.

The new Open Source Center (OSC) at CIA headquarters recently stepped up data collection and analysis based on bloggers worldwide and is developing new methods to gauge the reliability of the content, said OSC Director Douglas J. Naquin.

"A lot of blogs now have become very big on the Internet, and we're getting a lot of rich information on blogs that are telling us a lot about social perspectives and everything from what the general feeling is to ... people putting information on there that doesn't exist anywhere else," Mr. Naquin told The Washington Times.
I guess all blog readers are not mid-twenties-bored-at-work-white-males.



Great new band. Zeppelinish sound. Check out "Woman" and "The White Unicorn".


Tuesday, April 18, 2006

"I'm the decider" 

Bush (once again) sounding like a spoiled 5-year old:
President Bush sharply defended Donald Rumsfeld on Tuesday, saying the embattled Pentagon chief is doing a "fine job" despite calls for his resignation from six retired military generals.

Bush already had interrupted his Easter vacation at Camp David, Maryland, on Friday to release a public statement of support for the defense secretary...

"I hear the voices, and I read the front page, and I know the speculation. But I'm the decider, and I decide what is best. And what's best is for Don Rumsfeld to remain as the secretary of defense."

The president made the comments in the Rose Garden after introducing Rob Portman, the U.S. trade representative, as his pick to be the new White House budget director.


Tom Cruise is a cannibal 

By now you've probably heard the lastest bizarre thing to be said by Tom Cruise:
The Mission Impossible star, 43, said: "I'm gonna eat the placenta. I thought that would be good. Very nutritious. I'm gonna eat the cord and the placenta right there."

That strikes me as a bit odd. Most new Dad's are busy crying or having a victory cigar, (or throwing up due to the fact that their responsibilities just increased ten-fold) not planning on eating their baby's placenta and cord. Can he be locked away for this? Please?


Monday, April 17, 2006

Nuclear Bunker Buster 

Even in animation, it looks scary.


Friday, April 14, 2006

Unequal Treatment 

IRA committed to peace and the political process:
IRA remains committed to ideals of Proclamation

"This Easter marks the 90th anniversary of the 1916 Rising,
a turning point in the history of Ireland.

Irish republicans remember with pride those who gave their
lives that extraordinary Easter and the leaders executed in
the weeks that followed.

The leadership of Óglaigh na hÉireann extends solidarity to
the families of all of our patriot dead from every
generation and in particular those from this phase of

We send solidarity greetings to our imprisoned comrades and
their families.

This year we also commemorate the valiant prison Hunger
Strike of 1981. Ten brave men - freedom fighters and
patriots - died. Their legacy and that of Frank Stagg and
Michael Gaughan, lives on and their fortitude and courage
continues to inspire.

Following our statement of July 28 last year, IRA
Volunteers have adhered, in the spirit and the letter, to
the decisions and instructions outlined by the leadership.

We commend the discipline of our Volunteers and salute
their commitment.

The IRA has no responsibility for the tiny number of former
republicans who have embraced criminal activity. They do so
for self-gain. We repudiate this activity and denounce
those involved.

The IRA remains committed to the peace process. Our
decisions and actions of last July and September are proof
of that.

The leadership of Óglaigh na hÉireann believes that it is
possible to achieve the republican goal of a united Ireland
through the alternative route of purely peaceful and
democratic means

...unlike the loyalists, who are committed to keeping their guns:

As the talking continues inside the group, the organisation has also ruled out imminent decommissioning.

"Quite frankly, decommissioning is not a word that we use in our vocabulary ? It is not on our agenda," the leadership spokesman said.

He said he was speaking "with the full authority of the Brigade Command, the Ulster Volunteer Force".

Asked to clarify his comments on weapons, he said: "I can only speak for now and for the short and medium term."

He said the loyalist war was both "justified" and "legitimate".

"The constitutional integrity of Northern Ireland was under threat.

"The pro-Union population of Northern Ireland were under threat, and this organisation responded commensurate to that level of threat."

The masked spokesman said the UVF was the first organisation "onto the stage" and would be the final organisation to leave it.

He acknowledged the significant developments within the republican movement - the ending of the armed campaign and decommissioning.
Funny how you never hear anything in the media about the loyalist terror groups who have killed almost as many as the IRA, and continue to cause trouble.


Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Surgery on Iran 

Billmon on what a "surgical" nuke strike on Iran would mean:
I've been trying to picture what the world might look like the day after a U.S. nuclear strike on Iran, but I'm essentially drawing a blank. There simply isn't a precedent for the world's dominant superpower turning into a rogue state – much less a rogue state willing to wage nuclear war against potential, even hypothetical, security threats. At that point, we’d truly be through the looking glass.

One can assume (or at least hope) that first use of nuclear weapons would turn America into an international pariah, at least in the eyes of global public opinion. It would certainly mark the definitive end of the system of collective security – and the laws and institutions supporting that system – established in the wake of World War II. The UN Security Council would be rendered as pointless as the old League of Nations. The Nuremberg Principles would be as moot as the Geneva Conventions. (To the neocons, of course, these are all pluses.)

Nuclear first use would also shatter (or at least, radically transform) the political alliances that defined America's leadership role in the old postwar order. To the extent any of these relationships survived, they’d be placed on roughly the same basis as the current U.S. protectorate over Saudi Arabia – or, even worse, brought down to the level of the old Warsaw Pact. They would be coalitions of the weak, the vulnerable and the easily intimidated.

In other words, the current hegemony of American influence and ideas (backed by overwhelming military force) would be replaced by an overt dictatorship based – more or less explicitly – on fear of nuclear annihilation. U.S. foreign policy would become nothing more than a variation on the ancient Roman warning: For every one of our dead; 100 of yours. Never again would American rulers (or their foreign counterparts) be able to hide behind the comfortable fiction that the United States is just primus inter pares – first among equals. A country that nukes other countries merely on the suspicion that they may pose a future security threat isn't the equal of anybody. America would stand completely alone: hated by many, feared by all, admired only by the world’s other tyrants. To call that a watershed event seems a ridiculous understatement.

But I can't even begin to guess what such an event would mean in immediate, tangible terms (other the creation of a large, radioactive hole about 200 miles south of Tehran). It’s entirely possible the near-term consequences wouldn't appear as cataclysmic as you might expect from such a world-shaking event – except, of course, for those poor souls unlucky enough to be living near or downwind from one of Iran's suspected nuclear weapons facilities.

Yes, the price of oil could go to $150 a barrel, and yes, Iran could retaliate with a terrorist offensive that would light Iraq and the Persian Gulf up like Roman candles. We can't rule out a major attack on American soil. (A recent report based on Saudi intelligence sources claims the al-Quds Force of Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps – probably the most capable terrorist support organization in the world – already has a box on its organizational chart labeled "North America.")

But, barring another 9/11, or a worldwide financial meltdown, the day after a nuclear strike on Iran might not look that much different than the day before, at least to the folks back home. The impact on oil prices – and even more importantly, on prices at the pump – might be containable, at least in the short-term, if the Straits of Hormuz remain open and the strategic oil reserve does what it's supposed to do. (Very big ifs, to be sure, but not impossible ones. Neither of the last two wars in the gulf turned into the energy catastrophes everyone had feared when they started.) Financial markets might actually rally if Wall Street judges the strike to have been a "success." As for an Iranian-backed terror offensive in Iraq, at this point you have to wonder if anyone would notice.

For most Americans, then, the initial impact of war with Iran could play out in the same theatre of the absurd as the first Gulf War and the opening phases of the Iraq invasion – that is to say, on their living room TVs. And if there's one place where a nuclear first strike could be made to appear almost normal, or even a good thing, it's on the boob tube.

After all, the corporate media complex has already shown a remarkable willingness to ignore or rationalize conduct that once would have been considered grossly illegal, if not outright war crimes. And the right-wing propaganda machine is happy to paint any atrocity as another glorious success in the battle for democracy (that is, when it's not trying to deny it ever happened.) Why should we expect something as transitory as a nuclear strike to change the pattern?

Let's be honest about it: For both the corporate and the conservative media, as well as for their audiences, an air campaign against Iran would make for great TV – a welcome return to the good old days of Desert Storm and Shock and Awe. All those jets soaring off into the desert twilight; the overexposed glare of cruise missiles streaking from their launch ships; the video game shots of exploding aircraft hangers and government buildings, the anti-aircraft tracers arcing into the night sky over Tehran – it would be war just the way we like it, far removed from the dull brown dust, raw sewage and multiple amputees of the Iraqi quagmire.

And to keep things interesting, we’d have the added frisson of nuclear weapons – a plot twist that would allow blow-dried correspondents to pose in borrowed radiation suits, give Pentagon flacks the opportunity to try out new euphemisms for killing people, and encourage retired generals to spice up their on-air military patter with knowing references to blast effects, kilotons, roentgens and fallout patterns.

What I'm suggesting here is that it is probably naive to expect the American public to react with horror, remorse or even shock to a U.S. nuclear sneak attack on Iran, even though it would be one of the most heinous war crimes imaginable, short of mass genocide. Iran has been demonized too successfully – thanks in no small part to the messianic delusions of its own end-times president – for most Americans to see it as a victim of aggression, even if they were inclined to admit that the United States could ever be an aggressor. And we know a not-so-small and extremely vocal minority of Americans would be cheering all the way, and lusting for more.

More to my point, though, I think it's possible that even something as monstrously insane as nuclear war could still be squeezed into the tiny rituals that pass for public debate in this country – the game of dueling TV sound bites that trivializes and then disposes of every issue.

We’ve already seen a lengthy list of war crimes and dictatorial power grabs sink into that electronic compost heap: the WMD disinformation campaign, Abu Ghraib, the torture memos, the de facto repeal of the 4th amendment. Again, why should a nuclear strike be any different? I can easily imagine the same rabid talk show hosts spouting the same jingoistic hate speech, the same bow-tied conservative pundits offering the same recycled talking points, and the same timid Beltway liberals complaining that while nuking Iran was the right thing to do, the White House went about it the wrong way. And I can already hear the same media critics chiding those of us in left Blogostan for blowing the whole thing out of proportion. It’s just a little bunker buster, after all.

Why should anyone or anything change? When a culture is as historically clueless and morally desensitized as this one appears to be, I don’t think it’s absurd to suppose that even an enormous war crime – the worst imaginable, short of outright genocide – could get lost in the endless babble of the talking heads. When everything is just a matter of opinion, anything – literally anything – can be justified. It’s only a matter of framing things so people can believe what they want to believe.

This is just a snippet, read the whole thing.


Monday, April 10, 2006

The Creation of Zarqawi 

Zarqawi's obviously a horrible person, but more I hear about him and his "rise" in the terror ranks, I'm beginning to think it could be another case of blowback:
We learn in today's Washington Post that the military is running a covert propaganda campaign aimed at exaggerating the importance of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi in particular and al Qaeda in general in Iraq. In theory this is supposed to be aimed at Iraqis (which is legal), but in practice it seems to have been partially aimed at Americans (which is illegal), and as we saw with the last covert propaganda story, the distinction is pretty meaningless in the contemporary world.

There's a lot that could be said about this issue, but how about this one for starters -- information operations are always a part of war, but it should give you some pause when your main information operations are aimed at misleading people as to the fundamental nature of the conflict you're dealing with. Basically, the administration is trying to create an entirely fictional war in which the USA has over 100,000 troops stationed in Iraq because they're fighting al Qaeda. That simply isn't what they're doing. A policy that's only publicly justifiable in the context of massive deception is almost certainly going to be a bad policy.
The U.S. Government didn't create Zarqawi-he was already a terrorist-but building him up may have also helped build up his network, which now is alleged to reach many Middle Eastern countries.


Friday, April 07, 2006

They Boo Freedom 

From a Presidential Q & A: (Via Cunning Realist)
Q: You never stop talking about freedom, and I appreciate that. But while I listen to you talk about freedom, I see you assert your right to tap my telephone, to arrest me and hold me without charges, to try to preclude me from breathing clean air and drinking clean water and eating safe food. If I were a woman, you'd like to restrict my opportunity to make a choice and decision about whether I can abort a pregnancy on my own behalf. You are --

THE PRESIDENT: I'm not your favorite guy. Go ahead. (Laughter and applause.) Go on, what's your question?

Q: Okay, I don't have a question. What I wanted to say to you is that I -- in my lifetime, I have never felt more ashamed of, nor more frightened by my leadership in Washington, including the presidency, by the Senate, and --


THE PRESIDENT: No, wait a sec -- let him speak.


Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Iran Threat-Tidal Wave of Rhetoric Coming 

A must read Early Warning:
Iran tested a new torpedo!

Iran would respond to an attack with terrorist strikes in the United States!

Nuclear diplomacy in Iran is beginning to look a lot like the United Nation's inspection work in Iraq before the 2003 war. The parties are committed to a peaceful outcome but the accumulation of bad blood torpedoes any hope for a peaceful outcome.

I know that Iran's president continues to call for the state of Israel to be "wiped off the map." I know that the country is clandestinely developing nuclear weapons, that it has been a state sponsor of terrorism for years.

The more interesting question though is whether the Iranian "threat" has reached a tipping point, where a potential threat to the West and oil is declared an imminent threat. This again mirrors Saddam Hussein's Iraq in 2003, a country on a sure path to confrontation with the United States regardless of whether it was really a threat to regional and international security, regardless of whether a peaceful outcome was even possible.

On Sunday, The Washington Post ran a front page story by Dana Priest declaring that as tensions increase between the United States and Iran, "U.S. intelligence and terrorism experts say they believe Iran would respond to U.S. military strikes on its nuclear sites by deploying its intelligence operatives and Hezbollah teams to carry out terrorist attacks worldwide."

Terrorism experts, Priest reported, consider the country's Ministry of Intelligence and Security operatives, Iranian Revolutionary Guards and Hezbollah "to be better organized, trained and equipped than the al-Qaeda network."

On Monday, the Pentagon's Press Service happily picks up wire service copy about an Iranian military exercise to trumpet Iran's new torpedo and other military hardware.

Isn't it just a little transparent that a drumbeat of stories about the Iranian "threat" has begun?

In the world of threat manufacture, Iran has all the ingredients: a WMD-seeking, terrorist-sponsoring, military threat of a regime. With its torpedoes and naval mines and small boats and coastal artillery, Iran could close the Strait of Hormuz where a fifth of the world's oil transits daily. Iran could shoot its missiles at U.S. bases and oil refineries in Iraq, Saudi Arabia, and elsewhere. Iran's agents would attack at home. Iran is thought to already possess chemical and biological weapons. Iranian nuclear weapons, or so the story goes, lurk in the future.

No wonder to many in the administration, in the military, and in the Washington world of brilliant minds, armed confrontation with Iran is the necessary next step in the war against terrorism.

But, the tidal wave didn't start in Israel...
One of the issues that came up in many of the national security related discussions I had was that Israel has maintained and cultivated a very strong human intelligence network inside Iran. The two nations were close strategic allies 25 years ago — and continue, in many behind-the-scenes ways, to communicate and possibly even to coordinate certain actions. It doesn't mean that Israel is ready to appease Iran's regional ambitions, but it does mean that I have witnessed far more worries about Iranian President Ahmadinejad's anti-Holocaust and anti-Israel rhetoric in the U.S. than I did in Tel Aviv or Jerusalem.

....Nearly everyone I spoke to in Israel who ranged in political sympathies from the Likud right to Maretz left thought that the tone of the AIPAC conference had been too shrill and that Israel thought it wrong-headed and too impulsive to be engaged in saber-rattling with Iran at this stage.


Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Denis Donaldson shot dead 

High ranking former Sinn Fein member Denis Donaldson, who was outed as a British spy, has been killed. No claim of responsibility yet. I wouldn't be surprised if this gets thrown in the "unsolved" category.


Ireland Poll 

Almost missed this poll over the weekend:
The great majority of Irish people are nationalists to a greater or lesser degree, favouring a united Ireland in either the short or long-term, according to the results of the latest Sunday Business Post/Red C opinion poll.

However, most of these do not believe that achieving a united Ireland is as important as other tasks facing the government.

Almost 80 per cent of Irish people would like to see a united Ireland. Almost a quarter of voters - 22 per cent - believe that ‘‘delivering a united Ireland should be the government’s first priority’’.

More than half of voters, 55 per cent, say they would like to see a united Ireland, but ‘‘other things should have priority’’.

The survey, carried out among more than 1,000 voters between March 20-22 in conjunction with the tracking poll of political support, shows that these proportions are broadly reflected in attitudes among Irish people to the 1916 Rising, the 90th anniversary of which will be commemorated shortly.

Four out of five voters say the Rising was a ‘‘positive event in Irish history’’; 71 per cent believe Ireland ‘‘owes a debt to the leaders of the 1916 Rising’’, although just half of voters believe that the government’s plans for a military parade are appropriate. One fifth of voters say they ‘‘couldn’t care less’’ about the Rising.

Taken together, the figures show a large reservoir of nationalist feeling among the great mass of the Irish people, although it is striking that by far the largest group (55 per cent),while in favour of a united Ireland, believes the government should have other priorities.

However, the group that believes that a united Ireland should be the government’s first priority is also relatively large, at 22 per cent.

Clearly, this encompasses much more than just Sinn Fein supporters, who make up about 10 per cent of the electorate.

Attitudes towards a united Ireland are remarkably consistent across the various age brackets, and show that younger people tend to be at least as ‘green’ as their parents.

For example, 22 per cent of those aged 18-34 believe that delivering a united Ireland should be the government’s first priority - exactly the same proportion as in the general population.

For those aged over 65, the proportion is only slightly higher, at 26 per cent.

Of those in the largest group (55 per cent) who say they would like to see a united Ireland but ‘‘other things should have priority’’, the proportions are again broadly similar across all age groups.

The proportions are also largely consistent across all social groups, with some slight variation among the wealthy ABC1 section of the population and farmers, who are slightly (but only slightly) less ‘green’ than the population at large.

Geographically, attitudes to a united Ireland are also broadly consistent, with one exception.

Fewer people in Dublin believe a united Ireland should be the government’s first priority - 15 per cent against almost a quarter in the rest of the country.

Consequently, more people in Dublin - 61 per cent - do want to see a united Ireland but not as the government’s first priority, as opposed to the rest of the country where the proportions in this bracket are smaller.

Overall, the figures show the enduring strength of the Irish people’s attachment to the ideal of Irish unity - even if most of them are in no hurry to achieve it in practice.

The great mass of people are in the ‘soft green’ middle ground, with those who are either not interested or actively hostile to the idea in almost exactly the same proportion as those who are committed to the idea as the national priority.

The story sort of poo-poos it, but I think 22% saying a united Ireland should be the government's "first priority" is quite high. It also mentions fewer people in Dublin believe a united Ireland should be the government's top priortiy, however, if you look at the 2004 Dublin City Council election, Sinn Fein did quite well. These numbers can be spun either way, but with the parade and hoopla surrounding the 90th anniversery of the Easter Rising coming soon, I wouldn't be surprised if Sinn Fein does even better.


Monday, April 03, 2006


Happy Opening Day,

Not off to a good start, as usual. Good for Rollins-37 game hit streak. Ryan Howard may hit 50 HRs.


Zarqawi Replaced? 

Why isn't this story getting much attention?
Terror leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi has sharply lowered his profile in recent months, halting his group's Internet claims as the number of big suicide bombings in Iraq — his infamous signature form of attack — has fallen.

Now, a man with close ties to Iraqi insurgent groups claims al-Zarqawi was shunted aside as political leader of a recently formed coalition of militants because they were angry at his propaganda efforts and embarrassed by his group's deadly attack on hotels in Jordan.

But others caution that the claim is hard to verify — and that perhaps the insurgents are just changing tactics.
If this is true it would be big news, and it might mean the recent letter from Zawahiri to Zarqawi, complaing about Zarqawi's "brutal tactics", could be true. I've assumed it was a forgery. Does Zarqawi get sent to some sort of terror "minor leagues"?

Update 4/5/06 10:56PM: Or, focusing on Israel now?


NY Times 

I don't like the new design.


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