Wednesday, August 31, 2005

When The Levee Breaks

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

After diverting billions of domestic dollars to his little misadventure in the Persian Gulf, there are bodies floating in the streets of New Orleans. This should put an end to any 'fighting over there to save lives over here' nonsense, in the event that the London bombings didn't already.

Worst. President. Ever.

Addendum - actually, it seems all this was in fact gay people's fault. Or perhaps it was the evil aborted fetuses. Either way, we apologize for the error.

Nero Fiddles

Was this a moment unfairly captured? No. Experts had forecast an imminent possible disaster days ago. And from the start, other elected officials -- Louisiana Governor Kathleen Blanco, for example -- began urgently working to save American lives. Bush chose instead to continue making public speeches before hand-picked audiences pushing his political agenda for Medicare and trying to spin his unpopular war in Iraq. -- Bob Harris

The poorest 20% (you can argue with the number -- 10%? 18%? no one knows) of the city was left behind to drown. This was the plan. Forget the sanctimonious bullshit about the bullheaded people who wouldn't leave. -- "Ned"

Entire teams are working on nothing but evacuating the hospitals. All four of the major hospitals are beginning to flood. Critical patients have to get out or surely they will be lost. -- Anonymous New Orleans rescue worker

Long story short, I could use some help understanding this. This isn't some third world country. This is a densly populated chunk of the United States. The second that hurricane passed by, the Atlantic Fleet should have been parked offshore with water making ships and hospital ships and helicopters and amphibious vehicles. This whole operation has gone to hell in a handbasket. Actually, it didn't go anywhere. It started there.

I simply can't believe I'm seeing something like this happen in the United States. I really can't.
-- Chris Randall

And don't let anyone try to claim this couldn't've been predicted.

Monday, August 29, 2005

Dangerously Disabled

There's been a certain amount of propaganda recently concerning a secret military intelligence unit that's alleged to have ID'd Mohammed Atta as an Al Qaeda operative in early 2000. At issue is the Gorelick wall, established by Justice Department policies enacted under Presidents Reagan and Bush I, though named after a Clinton-era official, which is purported to have prevented these officers from sharing what they knew about Atta with the FBI and other law enforcement agencies.
The real obstruction appears to be a general named Pete Schoomaker, who directly prohibited the officers involved from informing the FBI of their findings, based on DoD attorneys's determination that Atta's Green Card made him a "US Person". Gen. Schoomaker is now US Army Chief of Staff.
The current administration disbanded Able Danger in February of 2001.

...we tried to tell the lawyers that since the data identified Atta and the others as linked to Al Qaeda, we should be able to collect on them based on SecState Albright's declaration of Al Qaeda as transnational terrorist threat to the US...well the lawyers did not agree...go we could not collect on them - and for political reasons - could not pass them to the FBI... -- LTC Tony Shaffer, former member of Able Danger.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Squeal Like A Pig!

Snort is a useful open-source network security tool. Beyond traffic analysis and packet logging, it can be used to detect a variety of worms, probes, and attacks.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

A Vista With A View

And it's not pretty. Besides offering pretty wallpapers, Microsoft's new OS will include encrypted "protected media path" DRM which will eliminate emulation of pretty much any kind, as well as a slew of restrictions of fair use.
As ever, choice beckons

Sunday Mirror Reveals Blair's Motives

Well, now we see why Blair agreed to back the administration's illegal little foreign entanglement - he was bought out:

The PM is being lined up for a highly lucrative position with the Carlyle Group - an American-based investment giant with strong links to the White House and the defence industry...
...The job could net Mr Blair up to £500,000 a year for only a few days work a month giving speeches and making "networking" trips on behalf of the company.

The move comes after it emerged that the premier's financial affairs are in an increasingly perilous state His dream home has crashed in value by £700,000 in just seven months and he and Cherie have to find £13,000 a month for the mortgage.

The £3million loan the couple took out to buy the house in London's Connaught Square is 17 times Mr Blair's current salary.

So now we see what his countrymen's lives are worth to him - what about Bush? What did his 30 pieces of silver amount to?

Monday, August 22, 2005

Extremist Cleric Calls For Political Assassination

Surprise! It's not who you think - Pat Robertson recently called for the murder of Hugo Chavez, who you may recall the US not-so-recently attempted to remove as an obstacle to unrestricted US exploitation of Venezuelan oil.
So clearly he's a threat to global security and must be destroyed. Killing for God, killing for oil; it's all the same insanity, and it's often connected. Abroad and here at home.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Strange Nuggets

Profs. Herrin and Close draw some interesting conclusions from two sets of coincident seismograph readings:

Strangelets - sometimes also called strange-quark nuggets - are predicted to have many unusual properties, including a density about ten million million times greater than lead. Just a single pollen-size fragment is believed to weigh several tons.


In case you were wondering, no, there is no good news.

ALMOST four years after the defeat of the Taliban, efforts to rebuild Afghanistan face a "real and worrying risk of failure", the British Government has warned.

Terrorism remains an ever-present threat and opium production is spreading, it says, while large parts of the country's infrastructure are in tatters and UN targets for improving basic services such as education and water will not be met.

See also: Afghan Mission to Last 20 Years, for the more giddily optomistic view.

Supersized Bullshit

August Pollak dissects a recent counter-insurgency, of sorts, by fast-food industry in the wake of a certain film.

...Pointing out that (gasp!) only eating the salads is healthier wasn't really the point- it was the fact that McDonald's still sells meals that can exceed 2,500 calories. Spurlock wasn't denying that you can lose weight- he was highlighting that it's incredibly difficult because their products are loaded with fat and chemicals that are sold with a marketing gimmick devoted to making you eat as much as possible.

Monday, August 15, 2005

My Head Explodes

Forensics indicates this Washington Post article was the culprit:

The Bush administration is significantly lowering expectations of what can be achieved in Iraq...

...The United States no longer expects to see a model new democracy, a self-supporting oil industry or a society in which the majority of people are free from serious security or economic challenges, U.S. officials say.

Are we even going to try to come up with another hollow justification this time? Or will we just say screw it and throw a parade?

Friday, August 12, 2005

A Fallen Warrior

Yes, yes. Third, they blew up the Rainbow Warrior. Twenty years ago on Sunday, they blew up the Greenpeace ship, the Rainbow Warrior, in Auckland Harbor. It was a bold and good thing to do. -- Tucker Carlson, approving of terrorism and murder, as usual.

On July 10, 1985, French agents bombed and sank Greenpeace's flagship, the Rainbow Warrior, in the port of Auckland, New Zealand, to prevent a planned protest against nuclear weapons testing in the atol of Muruoa. One person on board died - Fernando Pereira, pictured above, and the agents were prosecuted for murder. Fittingly, once struck down, the ship became a mightier warrior than her enemies could have imagined, and New Zealand's anti-nuclear policy became the source of nationalistic pride Kiwis regard it as today. French nuclear tests in the Pacific were never resumed.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

A Soldier Speaks

AlterNet's featuring an interview with a returned soldier with a very old-school name: Zechariah

What were you told were the reasons for the war in Iraq when you first began your duty?

The only thing that we had really heard was that Saddam was hiding weapons of mass destruction and we were going to go and oust him and find them...

..."I think my beliefs had changed once we were on the ground. Within days we had seized all of the oil fields in northern Iraq and our primary mission was to protect them. Bush had said this war wasn't about oil, but there I was defending oil fields at all costs in the middle of Iraq. A lot of the piping and workings of the fields had been destroyed by the fleeing army and before we even started to help the people by fixing the power or water supplies, they had construction crews trying to get everything up and running on the oil fields."

Nuclear Energy Can't Solve Global Warming

Mark Hertsgaard disassembles the administration's (and a few rogue greens's) 'environmentalist' cause du jour:

The case against nuclear power as a global warming remedy begins with the fact that nuclear-generated electricity is very expensive. Despite more than $150 billion in federal subsides over the past 60 years (roughly 30 times more than solar, wind and other renewable energy sources have received), nuclear power costs substantially more than electricity made from wind, coal, oil or natural gas...
...A second strike against nuclear is that it produces only electricity, but electricity amounts to only one third of America's total energy use (and less of the world's)....
...The upshot is that nuclear power is seven times less cost-effective at displacing carbon than the cheapest, fastest alternative -- energy efficiency, according to studies by the Rocky Mountain Institute.

Another Day Poolside At Club Gitmo

I like the original title for the article, too: 'One of them made cuts in my penis. I was in agony'.

They continued with two or three interrogations a month. They weren't really interrogations, more like training me what to say. The interrogator told me what was going on. "We're going to change your brain," he said.

I suffered the razor treatment about once a month for the remaining time I was in Morocco, even after I'd agreed to confess to whatever they wanted to hear. It became like a routine. They'd come in, tie me up, spend maybe an hour doing it. They never spoke to me. Then they'd tip some kind of liquid on me - the burning was like grasping a hot coal. The cutting, that was one kind of pain. The burning, that was another.

Remember, folks: They hate us for our freedom!

A follow-up to this.

Chocolate and Child Slavery

Just something to consider, the next time you open a bag of M&Ms:

Cote d'Ivoire is the largest exporter of the world's cocoa beans, providing 43% of the world's supply. The US imports the majority of these cocoa beans, for use in chocolate candy, marketed by such top brands as M&M/Mars and Hershey.

The chocolate industry has acknowledged that child slaves are harvesting cocoa in Cote d'Ivoire...

...There must be a multi-pronged approach to solve the problem of child labor globally. In the context of the cocoa industry, ILRF calls for strict and immediate enforcement of the existing US legislation on child labor. Currently, there is a US law which prohibits the importation of products made with "forced or indentured child labor" under Section 307 of the Tariff Act of 1930, 19 U.S.C. § 1307 (1997). The US government should apply this law.

An Open Letter to the Mainstream Media

By Eric Strauss:, Mainstream Media, are responsible for these monsters. We citizens, unfortunately, mostly accept the status quo that you sell us. And the status quo you've been selling the last few years, is a steaming platter of horseshit.

This administration passes out big brown bags filled with the stuff, and all you can think to do with it is heat and serve.

Sunday, August 07, 2005


"The citizens of Hiroshima are the witnesses of global peace..." -- Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi

In addition to the de rigueur and rather dry media accounts of the ceremonies, and the dictionary entry, this commentary by Robert Farley may be of interest.

No more Hiroshimas.

Iraq War 'Cannot be Won'

Captain Obvious, in his day job at the Pentagon, reports what everyone with three brain cells to rub together knew from the beginning:

...sources within the Pentagon say military planners tell the President the war cannot be won and the U.S. may have to look for a Vietnam-style withdrawal that will leave Iraq vulnerable to forces even more dangerous than the previous dictatorship of Saddam Hussein.

Also, the sky is blue, water is wet, and stone is hard..

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Terror's Cause

Juan Cole examines the root cause of Islamic terrorism. Here's a hint:

The American Right, having created the Mujahideen and having mightily contributed to the creation of al-Qaeda, abruptly announced that there was something deeply wrong with Islam, that it kept producing terrorists.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Plamegate II

Valerie Plame was not the only CIA analyst to bear the weight of the administration's wrath for daring to contradict their stance on Iraq's 'WMD's' with the facts. A so-far still anonymous former agent is bringing a suit against the agency, alleging he was terminated after refusing to falsify a report he'd written indicating that Baghdad had dropped its nuclear program before 2001. When he refused, that report was coldfiled. As allegations continue to mount, it becomes clear that the CIA was pressured to alter its intelligence on Iraq to support the administration's ambitions.

Intelligence Reports Link Iraq War to Spread of Terrorism

Captain Obvious pops up again, this time working for MI5, which released a report last month concluding that "Though they have a range of aspirations and ‘causes’, Iraq is a dominant issue for a range of extremist groups and individuals in the UK and Europe.". Meanwhile, moonlighting as a Saudi intelligence officer, the good captain reports that of 300 Saudis captured on their way to fight in Iraq, "few if any of them had previous contact with al-Qaida and most were motivated by the US occupation.". In the same article: "A similar study of 154 foreign fighters by the Israeli Global Research in International Affairs Center reached the same conclusion.".

So we're whelping a new generation of anti-US terrorists over there so we can fight them.. there, and here?

A Coalition Of The Bribed And Coerced

"Administration officials and Republican leaders made it known that they were willing to negotiate side agreements and consider special requests to win votes." After "the president's unusual appearance on Capitol Hill, followed up with private telephone calls to wavering members...highway projects were dangled before undecided lawmakers, as well as assignments on top-shelf committees." Like the set of "Let's Make a Deal," Republican leaders "told their rank and file that if they wanted anything, now was the time to ask..."

The adage comparing government to sausages comes to mind as we inquire into some of the deal-making surrounding the House's recently passing CAFTA, brought to light by the much more widely supported and ruinously pork-laden highway spending bill passed almost immediately thereafter.

There's a world of subtext in this quote:
"Road projects are regarded as a kind of government jobs program that Republicans can safely embrace."

And Let Allah Sort Them Out

"I don’t give them any protection. I don’t feel sorry for them. In fact, I probably would have ordered their execution if I had the power." -- Bill O'Reilly (Audio here, video here)

Out of more than 500 detainees at Guantanamo Bay, most of whom have been there going on four years now, so far only four have been accused of any crime. Those trials are now said, by the military prosecutors, to have been rigged.

I admit O'Reilly is a bit of a strawman - but there are still some few people who take him seriously. And it's always amusing to contrast reality versus whatever dystopian right-wing fantasyworld prevailing policymakers and pundits would have us believe in.

Worth Quoting

"The First Amendment is designed to prevent government interference with a free press. Miller, by shielding a government official or officials who attempted to use the press to retaliate against a whistleblower, and scare off other would-be whistleblowers, has allied herself with government interference with, and censorship of, whistleblowers. When your source IS the government, and the government is attempting to use you to target a whistleblower, the notion of shielding a source must be reconsidered. To apply standard practices regarding sources to hiding wrongdoing at the highest levels of government perverts the intent of the First Amendment.” -- Anita Bartholomew, protesting the recently revisited decision to grant Judith Miller a 'Conscience in Media' award.

Monday, August 01, 2005

A Very Brief Plamegate Timeline

"...if anyone in this administration was responsible for the leaking of classified information, they would no longer work in this administration. This is a very serious matter. The President made it very clear just a short time ago in the East Room, and he has always said that leaking of classified information is a serious matter. And that's why he wants to get to the bottom of this. And the sooner we get to the bottom of it, the better." -- Scott McClellan, October 2003.

"This is a serious charge, by the way. We're talking about a criminal action." -- George W. Bush, June 2004, promising to fire anyone involved in blowing Valerie Plame's identity.

"Long live the era of personal responsibility!" -- anonymous Democrats, upon learning of Karl Rove's $4,000 raise last week.