Saturday, December 31, 2005

Happy New Year!

Partybunny hopes this year will turn out better than the last!

Picture from Cute Overload.


Thursday, December 29, 2005

What Might Halliburton's Interest In Forced Prostitution Be?

And there's a question you don't hear often. Lobbyists representing Halliburton subsidiary KBR, along with thousands of other defense contractors, have blocked attemptes to ban human trafficking:

In a two-part series published in October, the Tribune detailed how Middle Eastern firms working under American subcontracts in Iraq, and a chain of human brokers beneath them, engaged in the kind of abuses condemned elsewhere by the U.S. government as human trafficking. KBR, the Halliburton subsidiary, relies on more than 200 subcontractors to carry out a multibillion-dollar U.S. Army contract for privatization of military support operations in the war zone...

... At the time, Halliburton said it was not responsible for the recruitment or hiring practices of its subcontractors...

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Synchronized Spinning Cats!

Einstein liked to call this 'spooky action at a distance'. Researchers led by Dietrich Leibfried have put a half dozen atoms into a synchronous 'cat state':

To a physicist, a "cat state" is the condition of being two diametrically opposed conditions at once, like black and white, up and down, or dead and alive.

.. or like wanting its tummy rubbed and wanting to bite your hand at the same time, perhaps. Here's the part that Einstein objected to:

Should one of them realize, like the cartoon character who runs off a cliff and doesn't fall until he looks down, that it is in a metaphysically untenable situation and decide to spin only one way, the rest would instantly fall in line, whether they were across a test tube or across the galaxy.

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Big Brother is Watching

From the Oakland Tribune:

Orwell wrote of war without end; we're told the war on terror will last decades at least. Orwell wrote of a dumbed-down "Newspeak," and who could argue that our national discourse hasn't slumped? Orwell's "Ministry of Love" tortured dissidents real or imagined; our government decries Iraq's secret torture prisons while arguing over whether to ban torture. Meanwhile, we maintain our own secret CIA prisons...

...We think it's time for Congress to heed the warning of George Orwell.
To that end, we're asking for your help: Mail us or drop off your tattered copies of "1984." When we get 537 of them, we'll send them to every member of the House of Representatives and Senate and to President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney.

Books can be mailed to the Tribune's office: 401 13th St., Oakland CA 94612.

Excuses For Domestic Espionage, Deflated

The 'But Clinton did it, too!' trope has already been dutifully trotted out, in the wake of this most recent scandal. It and eleven other rationalizations, deflections, excuses and flat-out lies are exposed here.

But as the ThinkProgress weblog noted on December 20, executive orders on the topic by Clinton and Carter were merely explaining the rules established by FISA, which do not allow for warrantless searches on "United States persons." Subsequent reports by NBC chief foreign affairs correspondent Andrea Mitchell and The Washington Post also debunked the conservative talking point while noting that the claim was highlighted in the December 21 RNC press release.

Happy 15th!

The browser is 15 years old today! It's nice to see the whole world celebrating..

Saturday, December 24, 2005

From The Horse's Mouth

According to the NSA, it's against the 4th Amendment for them to be spying on Americans. That should put an end to that little contention..

Friday, December 23, 2005

Holiday Bunnyblogging

The irreplaceable Oolong.


I'd Hate To See A Bad Year

And doesn't this look like a man who's just had a good year?

Somewhere, a painting of this man is growing steadily younger and younger..


- Oil broke $60 a barrel,
- the deadliest natural disaster since 1928 claimed thousands of lives,
- the House cut $50 billion from social welfare programs before extending $70 billion in tax cuts that benefit the wealthy,
- Congress passed a new bankruptcy law, written entirely to benefit banks and the credit industry, which ended up benefiting noone,
- the 2100th soldier was killed, along with tens of thousands of Iraqi civilians,
- we learned belatedly that our government was conducting domestic surveillance on its citizens with no warrants, no oversight, and no probable cause,
- poor folks are once again being left to freeze to death - hey, we needed that money to fund ANWR's oil exploitation!
- Plus there was a sprinkling of indictments and convictions

... but that's a good year? I think I'll find a nice hole to hide in, then - I don't want to see what he has planned for 2006!


Thursday, December 22, 2005

Ziggy Stardust Had Nothing On This

NASA's Stardust probe is returning to Earth after a trip of 2.88 billion miles. Upon arriving Jan 15, it will be both the best-travelled and fastest-moving (fairly briefly, of course) man-made object on Earth.

Ia, Saturnalia

And a very pleasant extended winter solstice and harvest festival to all.

Essential Wireless Hacking Tools

The Ethical Hacker Network presents a collection of tweaks, utilities and tools for - er - making the best use of wireless networks. Knowing how networks are exploited is necessary to knowing how to secure them.

Anniversary Edition : : The Culture Wars

The governments of the United States and Great Britain continue to attempt to dictate a strict and very particular brand of morality to their citizens. Meanwhile, a ferocious assault on the right to private property has begun.

I leave the final word once again to John Rogers:

America's supposed to be the place where you make the decisions affecting your family. But the Texas Reps and Religionistas, they're going to decide if you can get access to birth control, by faking it up as a moral stand by pharmacists. It doesn't matter what husband and wife have decided, what you've decided between yourselves and your doctors -- that guy's precious moral choice trumps your moral choice, and now the gubmint's on his side...

Anniversary Edition : : Election 2004

Revisiting a theme touched on a year ago in this space, we turn to the events of 2004. A year later, e-voting remains shockingly insecure(.PDF), with voting machines routinely succumbing to simple tampering.
Speaking specifically of the race in Ohio, now, a number of people have noticed the discrepancies between election results and exit polls that night, as well as many other flavors of chicanery surrounding the election.
Meanwhile, Chuck Hagel, the former chairman of ES&S whose was elected to the Senate by votes counted on his company's machines - and who later lied about it all to the Senate Ethics Committee - may run for President in 2008.
More election 2004 resources can be found here.

Up Is Down, Left Is Right

And Bush is fiscally responsible. Via Kevin Drum, we have Treasury Secretary John Snow praising his boss for reducing the deficit:

President Bill Clinton left office in 2001 with a federal budget surplus of $127 billion. President George Bush ran a deficit of $319 billion in 2005. So who deserves more credit for fighting red ink?

No question, says Treasury Secretary John Snow: It's his boss, Bush. Sipping a latte at a Starbucks coffee shop with reporters in Washington two days ago, he said that ``the president's legacy will be one of having significantly reduced the deficit in his time,'' and said Clinton's budget was a ``mirage'' and ``wasn't a real surplus.''

The saddest part is, of course, that Mr. Snow is just as competent and on the ball as most of this failure's appointees.


With Full Knowledge and Malice Aforethought

Courtesy of Think Progress:

"... Now, by the way, any time you hear the United States government talking about wiretap, it requires — a wiretap requires a court order. Nothing has changed, by the way. When we’re talking about chasing down terrorists, we’re talking about getting a court order before we do so. It’s important for our fellow citizens to understand, when you think Patriot Act, constitutional guarantees are in place when it comes to doing what is necessary to protect our homeland, because we value the Constitution." -- (still!) the President, April 20, 2004 (audio here(.MP3)).

Monday, December 19, 2005

They're Not Even Trying To Keep Their Story Straight

An addendum, in the wake of the AG's press conference:

Q If FISA didn't work, why didn't you seek a new statute that allowed something like this legally?

ATTORNEY GENERAL GONZALES: That question was asked earlier. We've had discussions with members of Congress, certain members of Congress, about whether or not we could get an amendment to FISA, and we were advised that that was not likely to be -- that was not something we could likely get, certainly not without jeopardizing the existence of the program, and therefore, killing the program. And that -- and so a decision was made that because we felt that the authorities were there, that we should continue moving forward with this program.

As Kos points out, on the one hand Congress's authorization included a blanket carte blanche to do anything the administration wanted - but they didn't push for new wiretapping statutes because Congress wouldn't let them.

At what point does the cognitive dissonance become so severe that your head actually explodes?

Amusement! Redux!

I could almost forgive him if he were really this cool.

.. no, not even then. Funny picture, though.

Gonzales Blames Congress For Secret Wiretaps

Unbelievable. The AG's position is that the Authorization for War passed on September 14, 2001 grants the administration the right to do whatever it likes. This view is, needless to say, unsupportable. And the really scary part is - this may only be the tip of the iceberg. The administration's little Middle East experiment will have implications that will be felt for decades.

Sen. Russell Feingold (D-Wis) responded to Gonzales' comments in an NBC interview this morning. "This is just an outrageous power grab," he said. "Nobody, nobody, thought when we passed a resolution to invade Afghanistan and to fight the war on terror, including myself who voted for it, thought that this was an authorization to allow a wiretapping against the law of the United States. "There's two ways you can do this kind of wiretapping under our law. One is through the criminal code, Title III; the other is through the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. That's it. That's the only way you can do it. You can't make up a law and deriving it from the Afghanistan resolution. "The president has, I think, made up a law that we never passed," said Sen. Russell Feingold (D-Wis.).

Russ, you should have thought of that before handing absolute power to an absolute whackjob.

Unintended Consequences

We can take some comfort, perhaps, in the idea that laws written by private industry backfire about as often as any other kind. Now we just need an example of the other kind, for comparison..

Credit card issuers and other lenders spent a small fortune to get bankruptcy reform legislation passed. Now the new law is costing them even more.

An unprecedented spike in filings before reform took effect in fall 2005 is chewing into lenders' bottom lines, and the subsequent lull is showing signs of being short-lived.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Fuck Christmas

A rather crudely expressed, but heartfelt sentiment, in the wake of the 'War on Christmas':

Well we’ve fucking had it. You want to play bullshit games and scream about how God’s fucking judgment is gonna come raining down on us if we don't start watching our vocabulary? Go right the fuck ahead. But let me clue you in on something: fire and brimstone ain’t no deterrent for us. We’re not going to hell, assholes, we’re fucking in hell. We live with you.

And fuck Easter too, you fertility–rite–celebrating, whiny, self-righteous, don’t–know–the– history–of–your–own–religion assholes. Fuck off.

From the same people who brought us Fuck the South.


Only the Rich People Get To Rebuild

Not that this should surprise anyone...

The Small Business Administration, which runs the federal government's main disaster recovery program for both businesses and homeowners, has processed only a third of the 276,000 home loan applications it has received.

And it has rejected 82 percent of those it has reviewed, a higher percentage than in most previous disasters, saying that many would-be borrowers did not have incomes high enough, or credit ratings good enough, to qualify. The rejections came even though the Federal Emergency Management Agency has referred more than two million people, many of them with low incomes, to the S.B.A. to get the loans.

To a large degree, that high rejection rate appears to reflect a mismatch between existing government aid programs and the large number of low-income people affected by this year's hurricanes. Despite the widespread poverty in the most damaged regions, the Small Business Administration has not adjusted its creditworthiness standards, which are roughly comparable to a bank's.


The Top 10 Stories You Missed in 2005

Foreign Policy summarizes 10 stories of import that slipped under the popular radar in the past year.

Still, a Wounded Military
In last year’s list, we pointed out that the health of the U.S. military was in serious decline. At 7 to 1, the ratio of wounded to dead in Iraq was the highest of any conflict in recent memory, including Vietnam, where the ratio was 3 to 1. A year later, the story is worse—and still largely ignored.

The Fourth Estate Has Lost Its Lease

The administration's payola scheme was only the beginning! Josh Marshall reports on a curious confluence with the scandals surrounding Jack Abramoff, after a 'journalist' admitted to being on his payroll for years:

In Business Week this morning, Eamon Javers reports that two noted conservative columnists -- Doug Bandow of Cato and noted Social Security privatization advocate Peter Ferrara -- both accepted cash payments from Jack Abramoff to write columns favorable to his clients.

The revelation has caused Bandow to resign from Cato. But Ferrara, who is now at the Institute for Policy Innovation, says "I do that all the time," Ferrara says. "I've done that in the past, and I'll do it in the future."


Patrick Cockburn on the Occupation

The New Left Review is running this interview with Mr. Cockburn, where he comments on the state of Iraq:

The incompetence of the US arrivals didn’t help. You would have thought they would at least have got the stock exchange, which had naturally languished under Saddam, going again. But Washington sent in a 24-year-old with strong family connections to the Republican Party. He forgot to renew the lease on the building for it, and there was no stock market for a year. After about six months, Iraqi stockbrokers were so fed up they sounded like Islamic militants in Fallujah.

And also:

After all, they’ve created the perfect breeding ground for al-Qaeda-type operations among the Sunni in Iraq, which never happened in Afghanistan. Although al-Qaeda were in Afghanistan for years, they never had a popular base there and found it very difficult to operate, both before the American attack and now. In Iraq they’ve got a population that is sufficiently sympathetic and they’ve built up a sort of network. They can exploit that sympathy and they’re strong enough to terrify a lot of the others.

More by Mr. Cockburn on the Iraqi debacle here, here, and here.

Also on Iraq-
The National Journal: Shattering Iraq, Macleans: See No Evil, Hear No Evil, Knight-Ridder: Iran Gaining Influence, Power in Iraq Through Militia, Bloomberg: Bush's Strategy, Iraq's New Army Challenged by Ethnic Militias, UPI: Iraq's Grim Lessons.


Those Who Count the Votes Decide Everything

Bush is busy bringing democracy to Iraq! America will just have to wait its turn:

After watching his computer expert change vote totals this week, Sancho said that he now believes someone on the inside did the same thing in Volusia County in 2000.

"Someone with access to the vote center in Volusia County put it on a memory card and uploaded it into the main system," Sancho said.

Sancho has been raising red flags about the system for months after other hackers were able to change votes during earlier tests. But Sancho said he's gotten nowhere with the company or with the Florida secretary of state's office, which oversees elections.

Dennis Hans : : I Was Right

Mr. Hans, while tooting his horn just a tad, offers an exhaustive look back at the prelude to war, and makes it clear - all the signs were there, and they were all willfully ignored. His 'Lying Us Into War: Exposing Bush and His 'Techniques of Deceit'' is not to be missed.

Nixon's Ugly Little Head Pops Up Again

Digby summarizes the administration's recent 'yeah, we broke the law, so what?' position:

Look, the problem here, again, is not one of just spying on Americans, as repulsively totalitarian as that is. It's that the administration adopted John Yoo's theory of presidential infallibility. But, of course, it wasn't really John Yoo's theory at all; it was Dick Cheney's muse, Richard Nixon who said, "when the President does it, that means it's not illegal."

Glenn Greenwald also picks up the Nixon/Yoo connections, and adds this:

The country has, more or less with a quiet complacency, stood by while this Administration imprisoned American citizens with no due process, while the Administration sanctioned torture and then used it to extract "evidence" to justify those detentions, and while the Administration exploited the fear of terrorist acts to bestow onto itself unprecedented powers.

If the naked assertion of absolute power by the Bush Administration -- and the use of that power to eavesdrop on American citizens without any judicial review -- does not finally prompt the public regardless of partisan allegiance to take a stand against this undiluted claim to real tyrannical power, then it is impossible to imagine what would ever prompt such a stand.

'Athenae' over at First Draft offers these observations:

Atrios says the president is a criminal. True, but reductive.

The president is a vigilante.

It's not just that he broke the law. It's that he's now saying, proudly, I broke the law, and it's okay because my friends (the heads of Senate committees who were briefed) said so, and it's okay because the people I broke the law to spy on were bad people.

And finally, we hear from Scrivener's Error:

Technically, Bush's arrogation of judicial authority was not treason. "Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort" (Art. III, § 3, cl. 1). It was only a betrayal of his oath of office, which requires him to "protect and defend the Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic." Presumably, that includes himself.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Oh For Heaven's Sake

The administration's announced new nominees for the FEC. Among them is one Robert D. Lenhard, a Democrat who was instrumental in the opposition to McCain-Feingold.
And, oh, yeah, he's also Viveca Novak's husband. Whose testimony is the basis for Karl Rove's defense. Isn't there some law against interfering in an ongoing judicial process in this way?

That's not to say that the other nominees are less odious. David Blue has some background on another of these sterling characters:

His ideas led to the notorious purge of Florida's voting rolls before the 2000 election in which thousands of mostly-eligible, mostly-Democratic, and mostly-minority voters were removed from the voting lists. Von Spakovsky also was a volunteer for Bush in the Florida recount. Want more? It's all here.

Remember when we could turn to the Washington Post to learn things like this? Anyone?


An amusing picture, presented without comment - though the temptation is strong:

The New York Times Completes Its Slide Into Irrelevance

As an addendum to the illegal wiretapping scandal, it must be noted that the Grey Lady was sufficiently cowed to sit on the story for an entire year. You know, I have a mental image of how a 'journalist' should behave. 'Shutting up for the good of the country' does not seem to fit with that image. Which makes the Times what, again?

What Do You Have To Do To Get Arrested In This Town?

Apparently, if you control Congress, the House, the Court and the voting process, there's nothing you can't get away with. Witness the recent news that Bush personally authorized dozens of illegal wiretaps since October of 2001, and that the NSA has been circumventing court orders to conduct domestic espionage operations with no oversights.
The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act governs electronic surveillance by government agencies. It authorizes emergency surveillance without a warrant when there is no time to obtain one, but also requires the Attorney General to notify the presiding judge immediately and apply for a warrant not more than 72 hours after authorizing the surveillance. Of course, none of this was done and apparently the President and his inner circle were the only people involved in these secret wiretaps.
Setting aside the fact that this is exactly the behavior that got Nixon bounced out onto the sidewalk - ordering underlings, in this case the NSA, to break the law - at the least this should be the death knell for any conservative support for this administration. Curtailing civil liberties and conducting widespread secret domestic surveillance are not conservative policies - they're authoritarian ones. Fascist ones. And only now that so much damage has been done does it become clear to everyone - well, to two thirds of us - just what road we've been led down.

Friday, December 16, 2005

Friday Bunnyblogging

It's been a difficult week...




Hughes for America :: We're Those People Now

Joseph Hughes describes how the 'War on Terra' has led the United States to behave exactly like those 'haters of freedom' and 'evildoers' we were supposed to oppose:

Just last month, President Bush said, "The enemy is never tired, never sated, never content with yesterday's brutality." Apparently, after widespread human rights violations at Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay and after operating secret prisons, neither is the Bush administration. But when will most Americans, who are clearly dissatisfied with their president, finally tire of yesterday's brutality?

Lie, Rinse, Repeat

Bagelradio over at State of the Day takes a thorough look at how the Right manipulates the media:

The mainstream media gets played because a basic tenent of journalism is to be what FOX News falsely claims to be: fair and balanced. Afraid of being seen as supporting one point of view over another, both sides are presented, regardless of merit. As New York Times columnist Paul Krugman joked, "If President Bush said that the Earth was flat, the headlines of news articles would read, 'Opinions Differ on Shape of the Earth.'"

Letting Things Slide

It appears that the money has been moved in the president'’s budget to handle homeland security and the war in Iraq, and I suppose that'’s the price we pay. Nobody locally is happy that the levees can'’t be finished, and we are doing everything we can to make the case that this is a security issue for us. -- Walter Maestri, Jefferson Parish emergency management chief, June 8, 2004

The administration was content to let New Orleans fall off the radar screen while their focus was on rebuilding Iraq - in fact, it even reached the point that still-homeless Katrina refugees pooled their modest funds and took out a full-page ad in the Roll Call in a desperate bid for some official attention. The plan is, of course, that the refugees will simply give up and go away, so as to allow the connected and the wealthy to rebuild the city on their terms - without 'those people' underfoot.
Now, predictably, they'd like us all to talk about the new budget allocations for New Orleans's levy systems - which will still allow for 'manageable type' flooding, mind you. It's a lot easier than asking who underfunded the levees in the first place, or why all 50 states went bankrupt at once. And it's much easier than considering how successful we may be in rebuilding Iraq, having spent $300 billion pointlessly destroying it in the first place.


Wednesday, December 14, 2005

We're Going To Need A Lot More Bullets

If our policy - well established by our stalwart British allies - is to gun down anyone who looks vaguely out of place in a public space, I for one will be buying stock in an ammunition company. If we're going to shoot anyone who is rambling, incoherent or strange at every airport, train station and bus terminal in America, we'll be going through a lot of brass.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Passing Judgement, part 1001

Jeanne d'Arc captures the first thing I thought when the Governator denied Tookie Williams's request for clemency:

I believe in redemption. But do not ask me to judge another person's redemption. I can't do it. No one can, although some people think they can ... The idea that Arnold Schwarzenegger, of all people, could judge someone's atonement unworthy and unconvincing is not the most obscene part of this whole spectacle, but it is certainly one of the more grotesque elements.

Mahablog likewise has some choice words about peering into Mr. Williams's soul to discern what he deserved:

Judge not, that ye be not judged. For with what judgement ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.

The last word, as usual, goes to the Rude Pundit:

A call for peace to honor the dead? What fuckin' country does Linda Owens think she's living in? Not in George Bush's America, where more must die in Iraq to make sure the dead are honored. And certainly not in Arnold Schwarzenegger's California.

We Deliver?

Wally O'Dell, having played his role and 'delivered' Ohio to Bush in 2004, has been cast aside. The CEO of Diebold left at a time when his company was facing an imminent class action for securities fraud, and an internal whistleblower had revealed their machine's vulnerabilities to remote access - and that the company and DHS knew about those vulnerabilities well in advance of the election. Don't waste too much time feeling sorry for him, though - now that he's off the public's radar screen, he'll soon be one of the wealthiest political 'consultants' in America.


Sunday, December 11, 2005

It's The Intelligence, Stupid

This puts a new wrinkle on the 'why wingbats hate the French' meme: they hate them for being right. The Direction Generale de la Securite Exterieure spent a year before the invasion repeatedly warning the US that their justification for war at the time - WMD's, especially nuclear ones - was hollow.

More than a year before President Bush declared in his State of the Union speech that Iraq had tried to buy nuclear weapons material in Africa, the French spy service began repeatedly warning the CIA in secret communications that there was no evidence to support the allegation....

...The French conclusions were reached after extensive on-the-ground investigations in Niger and other former French colonies, where the uranium mines are controlled by French companies, the official said. He said the French investigated at the CIA's request.

Mark Twain On Iraq

John Shirley has posted a few remarks of Mark Twain's, in context of the current Iraq War:

Mark Twain described the war in the Philippines, against insurgents, as a quagmire: “We were there to relieve them from Spanish tyranny to enable them to set up a government of their own and we were to stand by and see that it got a fair trial.” Sound familiar? “It was not to be a government according to our ideas, but a government that represented the feelingof the majority of the Filipinos, a government according to Filipino ideas. That would have been a worthy mission for the United States. But now--why, we have got into a mess, a quagmire from which each fresh step renders the difficulty of extrication immensely greater. I'm sure I wish I could see what we were getting out of it, and all it means to us as a nation.

I still prefer the War Prayer. More of Mr. Clemens's essays on war and imperialism can be read here.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

"Noone Could Have Predicted"

Well, the charitable side of me wonders if Ms. Rice wishes she'd listened at all to the outgoing administration's anti-terrorism brief.
The less charitable side wonders why this story got run on a Friday..

The U.S. government warned Saudi Arabia more than three years before the Sept. 11 attacks that Osama bin Laden might use civilian airplanes in terror attacks, according to a memo released Friday by the National Security Archive, NBC News reported.

The June 1998 note says bin Laden “might take the course of least resistance and turn to a civilian [aircraft] target.”

More pre-911 warnings courtesy of the Center for Cooperative Research.


Thursday, December 08, 2005

The Other I.D.

UM Professor Don Wise outlines his theory of 'incompetent design' in this interview:

The thing that perhaps is closest to all of us is our own skeleton, and there are certainly all kinds of stupidity in our design. No self-respecting engineering student would make the kinds of dumb mistakes that are built into us.

All of our pelvises slope forward for convenient knuckle-dragging, like all the other great apes. And the only reason you stand erect is because of this incredible sharp bend at the base of your spine, which is either evolution's way of modifying something or else it's just a design that would flunk a first-year engineering student.

How News Is Made

BoingBoing reprints an essay by Dale Dougherty:

First, most of what we call "news" today starts out as a press release, which then becomes a headline, a sound-bite, and eventually a story. In a parallel to the way government operates, in which special interest groups lobby to create or defeat legislation, most of our news stories come as a result of PR efforts paid for by special interest groups (businesses) who have a stake in what becomes "news."

Of course, some aspects of modern news creation are not addressed..

Justice Served?

"On behalf of Dr. Al-Arian, the defense rests."
-- Dr. Al-Arian's defense, in its entirety.

After 5 months of confabulatory and contradictory testimony from 80 witnesses, Dr. Sami Al-Arian has been found guilty of exactly zero of the 51 charges brought against him. You might say the system works - he's only lost 3 years of his life, much of which was spent in solitary, and also his job, and he's being shipped off to repeat the entire ridiculous fiasco in another country. The government's considering whether to run the same charges up a second flagpole, or simply ship him off to another show trial in Israel.

The St. Petersburg Times has a collection of resources concerning this case. The Tampa Tribune, meanwhile, played a surprising role in the effort to prosecute Dr. Al-Arian.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Well, They Do Love the Death Penalty

Following a well-established pattern among conservative media figures, Michael Reagan recently called for the execution of Howard Dean. Mr. Dean had earlier remarked that the idea we could win the war in Iraq was 'just plain wrong'. After Ann Coulter, Pat Robertson, - and don't forget Fox News's military analyst - you have to wonder if this is just what some people mean by 'dialogue'.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

The "I Didn't Do It!" Administration

"Torture is never acceptable."
"...nor do we hand over people to countries that do torture." -- Mr. Honesty and Integrity.

Now that 'I didn't do it!' is no longer working as a defense - and just why is torture-by-proxy becoming an issue only now? - the State Department is reduced to 'So and so did it too!'. Condi's strategy in Europe has been to remind our allies of their complicity in the administration's malfeasance. While everyone's focused on the cover-up, more victims will fall through the cracks and into secret CIA prisons.

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Turning Sound Into Light

Scientific American is running a feature on sonoluminescence, contrasting a variety of competing explanations for the phenomenon.
Popular depictions differ significantly, of course.
See also: shrimpoluminescence!

Some Weekend Reading

The University of Pennsylvania offers a large library of free books, if you're looking for a good way to fill an idle moment.

Friday Bunnyblogging

This bunny feels huge!

But the mouse's Sleeping Blowfish Strike nerve pinch is superior!


Thursday, December 01, 2005

State Controlled Press = Freedom!

From War and Piece, a summation of the Pentagon's latest little psyops campaign:

Broken yesterday by the Los Angeles Times, Knight Ridder and the New York Times have major installments on the story that the Pentagon is paying the Lincoln Group tens of millions of dollars, and Iraqi journalists hundreds of dollars per month, to plant US written and storyboarded propaganda in Iraqi newspapers disguised as journalism...

...Many military officials, however, said they were concerned that the payments to Iraqi journalists and other covert information operations in Iraq had become so extensive that they were corroding the effort to build democracy and undermining U.S. credibility in Iraq. They also worry that information in the Iraqi press that's been planted or paid for by the U.S. military could "blow back" to the American public.

Original Times piece is here. The Washington Post comments here. And no, it's not like this administration's never done this before.

As an update, here's Pat Buchanan:

-- "Our guys (in Iraq) have got every right to have good news ... even if it's got to be planted or bought"

And that's our brief from Flying Monkey Land..

Why Does The Times Keep Coming Up With Judith Millers?

In contrast to their op-ed on the same topic, Elisabeth Bumiller's glowing account of the president's speech in Annapolis might as well have been written by the White House for her. Go on and count how many times she cites the president's advisors - or the 'document' they provided her - as her sources. She's simply reprinting the White House's talking points and she can't even be bothered to conceal the fact.

As a bit of an aside, I also wonder why they ran this picture:

instead of this one:

What's Wrong With Cutting and Running?

Former General William E. Odom examines and rebuts common arguments against an immediate withdrawal of troops from Iraq:

The insurgents are fighting very effectively without U.S. or European military advisers to train them. Why don't the soldiers and police in the present Iraqi regime's service do their duty as well? Because they are uncertain about committing their lives to this regime. They are being asked to take a political stand, just as the insurgents are. Political consolidation, not military-technical consolidation, is the issue...

...Even if we were able to successfully train an Iraqi military and police force, the likely result, after all that, would be another military dictatorship. Experience around the world teaches us that military dictatorships arise when the military's institutional modernization gets ahead of political consolidation.