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Comments Credits
Comments by YACCS
Friday, May 28, 2004

Dead Man Walking

So, why wouldn'r Iraqis trust me, a former CIA puppet, to run their country.

This is ridiculous. Here I was, ready to relax, watch Ashley Judd jump around in her panties on Fox, and I read about the totally screwed up selection process. Iyad Allawi, head of the Iraqi National Accord, a former Baathist and a CIA/MI6 rentboy, is now PM. You don't have to wear a tin foil hat to realize this guy is dead. They blew up Sergio DeMello, one of the Hakims, and Shia pilgrims. How Allawi expects to stay alive is beyond me.

Usually, like Noriega, they hide their CIA ties. This guy, besides coming from the hated Chalabi family, worked for the CIA and MI6. You don't have to be Sadr to think this stinks on ice. The Brahimi "agreement" seems like a US hustle to me. So they couldn't get Chalabi in the job, so they get his cousin. Not that Iraqis are that stupid, they know a hustle when they see one, So they will try their level best to blow him away, probably via semtex car bomb.

What's the big mistake? They picked someone from the hated IGC. Iraqis hate these exiles who came back to scoop up the country while their kids fought the wars and suffered under the sanctions. These people cannot be given credibility by the US, UN or EU. By picking an exile, especially one greedy, desperate or stupid enough to take the job, is reenforcing failure. They could have picked a worse US puppet, but that's unlikely.

Laura Rozen a Washington-based national security reporter, wrote that Chalabi was caught by a "European intelligence agency" read GCHQ, the British NSA, passing methods and sources of signal intelligence to Iraq.

Jonathan Pollard is still in jail for doing the same thing for Israel. John Walker is serving life for this. Handing over signals intelligence is one way to go to jail forever. It is the US gold standard.and they get very upset when it goes into other people's hands. Especially Iranian hands. The worst intelligence failures in the US were signal intelligence.

You cannot get more serious than an accusation of trading signals intelligence. And that means someone in DOD is a traitor. It's treason to even discuss sources and methods, so how did a foreign national without the SCI ( above Top Secret, Secure Compartimentalized Intelligence) required to discuss such a subject be able to pass them on to Iran? Someone,and I mean a ranking civilian, passed them on and the list who can get that kind of thing is real small, a hundred people or so, outside NSA. The reason they cut him off so fast was the proven allegation he revealed the gold standard of US secrets.

There is no way that Chalabi could have gotten that info without someone high in DOD giving them to him. Doing so was treason. Not in the Bob Novak way, but real, go to jail for life treason. It would be a massive intelligence failure if this is true. Chalabi should have never hd access to this informtion. Whoever gave it to him betrayed the United States.

posted by Steve @ 8:13:00 PM

8:13:00 PM

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Olympics my ass

Will never be built

This has been irritating nme for a while. There is absolutely no clamor for the Olympics coming to New York, none. It's an invention of the real estate industry and politicians. No one who really cares about New York wants this expensive monstrosity of an event here.

First, the Jets Stadium will face massive opposition from the locals. The new stadium will be built over the Penn Rail Yards on a gigantic platform. This boondoggle will expand the Carlo Gambino Javits convention center. Cablevision, a long time New York villian, has joined the side of the angels with their A Better New York website.

Let me explain the geography of New York, first. The subway lines end on Eight Avenue, the new stadium would be on 11th Avenue. Right now, most of what is on 11th Avenue on the 30's and 40's is a mix of light industrial, garages, stip clubs and car dealerships. There is no real reason to go to the far west side now. The Jets, who by common sense, should build their stadium in Queens and not Manhattan, would draw thousands of cars from Long Island, where the fan base is. If you've ever been to the Meadowlands after an event, you can imagine the godawful pollution which would follow.

The way New York is, expect massive lawsuits and an economic review. People were stunned that this plan has gotten as far as it did.

The Olympics is a pipedream. The planned sites in Queens will all draw lawsuits from local residents siting everything in the book. In fact, this kind of construction will draw a massive legal reaction from ever litigious New Yorkers. The pollution, the crowding, and the vanity use of state and city funds...well, if the IOC is stupid enough to give the city the Olympics, they can enjoy the lawsuits which will follow. Because the only people who want this is the Real Estate lobby.

Nobody wants to pay for these giveaways or care about a subsidized new Jets stadium. Not when kids don't have gym abd libraries close early.

posted by Steve @ 6:07:00 PM

6:07:00 PM

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How to complain to the media

CNN got it wrong, Al Qaeda is working for the President's reelection.

Yesterday, CNN's Justice Deparment correspondent, Kelli Arena, said the following:

[Kelli] ARENA: Neither John Kerry nor the president has said troops pulled out of Iraq any time soon. But there is some speculation that al Qaeda believes it has a better chance of winning in Iraq if John Kerry is in the White House.

BEN VENZKE, INTELCENTER: Al Qaeda feels that Bush is, even despite casualties, right or wrong for staying there is going to stay much longer than possibly what they might hope a Democratic administration would.

Now, in the interest of full disclosure, I know Kelli Arena. We worked on the NYU student newspaper in the 80's, and while I haven't seen her in 15 years, I can state that she's neither stupid nor evil and I seriously doubt a tool of the GOP. She wasn't a close friend or anything, but she was a reasonable person when I worked with her.

However,many of the e-mails people have been reporducing on Kos and Atrios attack her personally and not the fact that what she said was misleading. She didn't say AQ was on Team Kerry, this idiot Venzke did. All she did was report what he said. Which is her job.

And that's the problem. Just because she said something you disagree with, and I think the comment is not only stupid, but wrong, savaging her, calling her an idiot and generally implying she's taking her marching orders from Karl Rove is ineffective. How would you react if your e-mail box was filled with invective as her's is today? You'd probably either get really angry or blow it off. What you would NOT do is take it seriously.

What you have to understand is that reporters have very thin skins. I can tell you that Arena and her bosses are both surprised by the reaction and have discounted most of them. Just like they discount the wingnuts when they run pictures of Abu Ghraib.

There is a way to complain to the news media and one which will nearly always get their attention, and it's not an invective filled letter, which might make you feel better, but will surely be deleted and ignored.

1) Be polite

Journalists are people and really, really thin skinned. If you insult them, they stop listening. Not all do, but most get their backs up like an alley cat. So when you write to criticize, don't say they worship at the alter of Karl Rove or John Kerry. Mention coverage that they've done which you've liked. Address them in a way that will get them to listen. Anyone on TV or in a major newspaper gets a lot of nasty mail, some from unhinged cranks and chronic masturbators.

2) Don't accuse them, directly, of political bias

Most journalists take pride in their objectivity. Once you say they're biased, they stop listening. If you think there is a genuine issue of bias, write to their editors, not the reporter. Your goal is to point out an error, not question their professional integrity, unless you have a reason to.

3) Leave out the invective

Once you accuse them of working for the GOP, you lose the battle. Simple as that. They're people, they made a mistake, and you're pointing it out, not questioning them like a prosecutor.

4) Make your point with facts

A good letter to write to CNN is not how Arena screwed up, but the lack of balance in quoting this Venzke guy without balance. That's the sin here. This guy can think what he want and say what he wants. The problem is a lack of balance. Arena needed to quote someone else rejecting his wacky and disproven theory. After all, AQ was on Team Bush since March. Don't accuse her of his words. Ask where the other viewpoint is.

5) Do some research

Find out who the editors are. Not just the President of CNN News Gathering, but the direct supervisors are in Washington and their bosses and CC your letter to all of them. Once a letter is CC'd, they are far more likely to deal with it. You can always delete one e-mail, but five going into the right boxes may get action.

The goal here is to deal with the coverage and the lack of balance, not insult journalists who report stupid comments from wackos. The issue is getting the other side represented, not merely heaping invective on people.

posted by Steve @ 3:47:00 PM

3:47:00 PM

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The menace of the Goths

Evil...just evil

$132K of Grant to Combat Goth Returned

Fri May 21, 6:57 PM ET

BLUE SPRINGS, Mo. - Almost half of a $273,000 grant awarded in 2002 to fight the Goth culture in Blue Springs has been returned because of a lack of interest — and the absence of a real problem.  

Blue Springs received the grant two years ago from the Youth Outreach Unit, money the city and U.S. Rep. Sam Graves trumpeted proudly as a way to fight a perceived Goth problem.

But $132,000 of the grant was returned because officials never found much of a problem with the Goth culture, which some students called a fad that most people eventually outgrow.

Slightly more than $118,000 of the money was earmarked for therapy, assessment and case management, and the plans also included a series of town meetings to discuss the issue.

"It never happened because referring someone for looking, acting Goth is not a concept that ever got imbedded in people's heads," project manager Allyce Ford said of the therapy proposal.

Jesus. Are they talking about those mopy motherfuckers who listen to shit like the Smiths and Bauhaus? Goths, unless Alaric is leading them, are pretty fucking harmless. They use up a lot of dark make up, black dye and might be Wiccans or something. But for $132K, they should have been laying RPG ambushes or kidnapping dogs for sacrifice.But in my experience, they're passive, smart kids. Not a threat to the community, like the high school football team.

posted by Steve @ 1:56:00 PM

1:56:00 PM

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How stupid can a man be?

This is the stupidest fucking thing I've read all week.


PAT Boone says he'll never watch CBS again because "60 Minutes II" aired images of the Abu Ghraib prison abuse. The squeaky-clean crooner claims that showing those pictures has made the U.S. more of a target than ever. "For me, CBS has become 'the enemy within,' and I hope never to watch the network again," Boone wrote in a letter to conservative Boone the famously bland singer who was once criticized for singing cleaned-up versions of songs made popular by black singers (he changed Fats Domino's "Ain't That a Shame" to "Isn't That a Shame") goes on to say: "I think most Americans ought to reflect on the results of their irresponsible and unpatriotic behavior and perhaps narrow their viewing options by one network. The next time America or Americans suffer at the hands of terrorists, thank CBS."

No, Pat, I intend to blame the terrorists, not CBS. How dare you call CBS the "enemy within" as if they're the one running around raping people. I know guys like you don't read the Constitution, but Freedom of the Press is exactly that. I know you think you're some kind of patriot, but you're the worst kind of traitor, one who would condone torture and abuse in the name of the United States. Isn't it bad enough that 800 Americans have died for Bush's folly? Did we really have to shame the country as well? When we torture, Pat, we betray everything this country stands for.

The enemies of America are those who use dogs and rape to shame this country., not the ones who expose their nefarious deeds. Patriotism is not some blind tunnel where questions are not allowed. True patriots, like the ones who founded this country, would never accept such mindlessness.

The irresponsible and unpatriotic behavior, one Americans will pay for with their lives, is not Bob Simon's, but the leadership of the Pentagon which justified this abominable act. If you were a true patriot, you would than God we live in a country where such crimes by the government can be reported and investigated. You would be glad CBS ran that story and showed that all Americans do not condone such barbaric acts. That's what a true patriot would do.

posted by Steve @ 11:24:00 AM

11:24:00 AM

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Thursday, May 27, 2004

The failure of American journalism

The face of failure

Salon discusses the Times mea culpa today:

The failures of Miller and the Times' reporting on Iraq are far greater sins than those of the paper's disgraced Jayson Blair. While the newspaper's management cast Blair into outer darkness after his deceptions, Miller and other reporters who contributed to sending America into a war have been shielded from full scrutiny. The Times plays an unequaled role in the national discourse, and when it publishes a front-page piece about aluminum tubes and mushroom clouds, that story very quickly runs away from home to live on its own. The day after Miller's tubes narrative showed up, Andrea Mitchell of NBC News went on national TV to proclaim, "They were the kind of tubes that could only be used in a centrifuge to make nuclear fuel." Norah O'Donnell had already told the network's viewers the day before of the "alarming disclosure," and the New York Times wire service distributed Miller's report to dozens of papers across the landscape. Invariably, they gave it prominence. Sadly, the sons and daughters of America were sent marching off to war wearing the boots of a well-told and widely disseminated lie.

Of course, Judy Miller and the Times are not the only journalists to be taken by Ahmed Chalabi. Jim Hoagland, a columnist at the Washington Post, has also written of his long association with the exile. But no one was so fooled as Miller and her paper.

Russ Baker, who has written critically of Miller for the Nation, places profound blame at the feet of the reporter and her paper. "I am convinced there would not have been a war without Judy Miller," he said.

The introspection and analysis of America's rush to war with Iraq have turned into a race among the ruins. Few people doubt any longer that the agencies of the U.S. government did not properly perform. No institution, however, either public or private, has violated the trust of its vast constituency as profoundly as the New York Times.

There is, of course, a deeper question here than Judy Miller's bad reporting. Miller, long known for doing her best reporting on her back, is a supreme newsroom politician. The fact that she's still employed by the Times, and the fact they didn't use her name, indicates that she still has some pull in the newsroom. Anyone else would have been canned.

A lot of newly found critics on the left seem to think that the media is centrally controlled or the consolidation of the media plays some massive role in this. However, conglomorates care about one thing: the bottom line. If it makes money, you can do what you want, say what you want, act how you want. Viacom doesn't stand by Howard Stern because they like strippers. He brings in a billion a year in ad revenue. They could have cared less about the war as long as they made money.

The same with reporting. A lot of what happens in the newsroom is a dynamic of office politics. Judy Miller is the entre into upper Washington society for many of the editors. She's the one who goes on their arm to the big parties. She knows everyone and where the dirt is buried. Maureen Dowd is a much less reliable social partner, with her snarky comments and relatively moralistic world view. Miller, otoh, has been known for fucking her sources, a matter of journalistic debate for 20 years. Her ethics, personal and professional, have been questioned for as long as I can remember.

That, short of writing fiction on the news pages, is probably the worst thing you can accuse a journalist of. It's one thing to date someone you've interviewed, it's another to fuck people you rely on for stories. Miller's been accused of this for years. Her lack of professional distance has probably ruined what is left of her career. The blowback from these charges, that she helped manipulate the US into war, are so serious that the Times will not be able to protect her for long.

But Judy Miller is only one of many, many people who shirked their responsibility to cover Iraq failrly.

What I think turned the tide was not 9/11, because no one could reasonably object to hunting down Osama, but the Beltway Sniper. The shootings last year scared Metro DC to the core. Reporters and their families were scared in a very personal, very intimate way. It was up close terrorism and it scared many of them. The idea that Saddam had all these magic weapons which could kill Americans, which was a joke at the time for rational people scared the crap out of a lot of people. They accepted Bush's arguments based on fear.

No one wants to believe the president is a liar. No on wanted to believe Bush was as venal and evil as he has turned out to be. Even the Guardian was pro-war. They focused on the evil of Saddam and not what came next, which was known as early as December, 2002. Of all the major US and UK papers, only the Independent was seriously anti-war (and thus accurate) in theirn coverage. The Guardian ran a lot of stories which, while doubting Saddam's capability, also bolstered the claims of the exiles, especially in their opinion pages.

It's important to remember this, because the weight of the bad reporting is falling just on a few newspapers, and it's far more widespread than that. It wasn't just the Times, but nearly every major newspaper in both the US and UK which, if they didn't endorse the war, accepted the claims of the exiles, if not the US government, with scant questioning. The Guardian ran a long piece on what Iraqi exiles, especially pro-war exiles thought , with scant opinion coverage of experts who disagreed.

Few people, outside of Robert Fisk in the Independent, seperated evil Saddam from chaotic Iraq. Ken Pollack's The Threatening Storm set the intellectual basis for war, neatly glossing over Saddam's strategic challenges and making the case for overthrowing him, under some conditions. Conditions which were not met before the war. There were no stories about how Iraq had strategic and moral challenges with or without Saddam. No one looked past Iraq as Saddam's creation and as a set of other logistical challenges. Iraq was Saddam and not a country.

The US media, as well as the Democratic Party, made an assumption which a lot of people have not realized, they assumed the President would not lie about national security. This was a reasonable assumption for every other President, but not for Bush. But no one realized how politically driven and ideological the White House was. They took it on faith that Chalabi and his patrons were telling some version of the truth.

Given that, and the cudgle of patriotism, most accurate reporting, including think tank reports, foreign media, and NGO reports, didn't get much coverage outside the blogosphere and a few columnists. The mainstream media refused to believe the war in Iraq was mismanaged. Even when US soldiers expressed open disdain for the Secretary of Defense on camera, most of the media wrote it off to homesickness. Not a totally mismanged logistical system, which to this day has parents raising money for their kids in Iraq so they can get radios and armor.

The US media failed, not because they wrote uncritical stories about the war, given the political tenor of the times, that was the likely outcome. The failure of the media comes in the aftermath of the war. When it was clear that the GOPCPA was the new NKVD, driven by politics, few stories asked who was staffing our new colonial service and what they were up to. Many of the stories have shown less enterprise than local city hall reporters. The finances of the reconstruction have received far less coverage than the fighting, despite its long-term importance.

Despite ample evidence that the reconstruction was corrupt, only NPR's Marketplace has done the long form journalism needed to explain this.

The other major gap in US coverage has been the behavior of the US troops in Iraq. Abu Ghraib is the final stop in a chain of abuse which has left civilians dead, robbed and probably raped. The raids into homes have left a long chain of bitterness among Iraqis. Abu Ghraib is just poison into the wound. Yet, there is ample evidence that US troops lack fire discpline and routinely disrespect Iraqis as a matter of course. This doesn't make the US papers, even though it is widely discussed elsewhere. So Americans are left mystified as to why hostages are taken and others are burned alive and hung from bridges.

This is not the kind of thing which is politically popular, but is necessary to understand why Iraqis refuse to support the occupation, which they don't, and haven't.

The American media is only now, slowly, beginning to understand, how badly they did their jobs. However, they still have to do a lot more than finally firing Mattress Judy and writing off her malfeasance as a singluar act.

posted by Steve @ 1:09:00 PM

1:09:00 PM

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Why Iraq is not working

Take a good look. As soon as Blair is forced from office, these members of the Paras will be going home

This will be short and painless. Print it out and hand it to your few remaining friends who support the war.

1) There is no internal political support for either the IGC or the UN version of an occupational government

The UN rep picking the new head of Vichy Iraq was enraged when someone from the GOPCPA leaked his name. The guy, realizing that the resistance would kill him like a dog via car bomb, promptly refused the job. The fact is that the only representative Iraqi leadership are religious leaders. Brahimi wanted to pick a technocrat, but no matter how you say it, it's still spelled P-e-t-a-i-n, and we all know how he wound up. Not that it matters. Without a heads up from Sistani and the Sunni clerics, the guy is going to be killed by the resistance, Al Qaeda or the US (by accident, of course)

The Kurds, with 20 percent of the population, are now demanding the Presidency or Vice Presidency, which is sure to send Sadr and his Sunni allies into a rage. The Kurds took part in the fighting at Fallujah, and many, many Iraqis are none to happy with their countrymen.

2) Splitting Iraq is vastly unpopular with most Iraqis

While Peter Galbraith has been running around on the behest of his Kurdish allies, calling for "a loose confederation", which would let the Kurds destroy the territorial integrity of Iraq, while doing their own thing (smuggling, disrupting neighboring nations), Phebe Marr, one of the few actual Iraq historians in the US, gave him the smackdown on Nightline last week. The simple fact is that the Kurds will face a massive Turkish invasion if they get what they want. They also forget how ALL Iraqis opposed the Turks joining the occupation force.

This new "splitting Iraq" meme is really based in an ignorance of Iraq's economy. Without access to the income from the southern oil fields, the rest of Iraq will go bankrupt. You can't leave the Sunnis without income and splitting Iraq would turn it into a Middle Bank, with poor people with guns fighting their neighbors.

Besides the fact that it would be a violation of international law, it's just a very stupid idea based on our perceptions of Iraq and not reality.

3) Our allies are not coming to help us

As the German Ambassador to the US said so plainly on CNN, how would NATO help the occupation? The Iraqis will kill Germans just like they kill Poles, British and until recently, the Spanish. There is no clamor for NATO to occupy Iraq.Iraqs aren;t s aying, Germany save us. Besides, there aren;t the votes to deploy troop[s in these Parliaments. International occupation is just adding targets for the resistance.

4)The iraqis have made a choice:to undermine the occupation

The fact is that anyone working for the occupation faces intimidation or death. This isn't the consensus of a few people, but widely supported by average Iraqis. Someone has to be talking to the resistance. That resistance is widespread, with people in every corner of the GOPCPA. One of the fundamental mistakes of the US was to assume, despite all available evidence, Iraqis supported the occupation. SIistani could have sent thousands into the police and military with one word. So when Bush says "the Iraqis have to stand for freedom" he ignores the reality that most Iraqis are content to watch Americans die without lifting a finger to help.

5) Reconstruction is a corrupt, poorly managed nightmare

The GOPCPA cannot maintain anything in Iraq. Instead of hiring reconstruction experts from NGO's, they hired from the Heritage Foundation's reject list. People who were ideologically sound were hired over the competant and trained. People like Michael Ledeen's daughter, Simone, were given the task of rebuilding Iraq's economy. Imagine the reaction of highly educated, Harvard, Oxford and Sorbonne trained Iraqi economists, when they could get into the Green Zone, dealing with these idiot children. By sending the pure, loyal and untrained, they told the Iraqis they were not serious people. The neocons were allowed to turn Iraq into their playground, and test their wacky theories. Meanwhile Iraqi oil facilities have been attacked 54 times since the occupation started.

Rumors of overcharging and kickback litter the news on a near daily basis. Halliburton has been accused of running empty trailers to get paid from the US government. Even so, the lack of security which is endemic in Iraq makes reconstruction a nightmare.

6) No security means nothing can get done

Even reporters have to travel with "security consultants" to do their stories. Baghdad is effectively cut off from the rest of the country. The road net is insecure and remains that way, at best. The fact is that the US doesn't have the troops to secure the roads, and will not get any. This is the kind of job our Pakistani auxillaries would have done, but since their intervention would immediately launch a civil war in Pakistan, it's not going to happen. We're about to send two training units to Iraq, we're so short of troops. The 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment, the OPFOR unit at Ft. Irwin, is being sent to Iraq. Now, you don't have to be a nuclear physicist or a military strategist to see how dangerous this is. The 11th ACR is the unit other units need to train in combat proficiency. Sending them to Iraq is a sign of pure desperation. Other units cannot train effectively if the 11th ACR is in Iraq, hunting guerrillas.

The US's reliance on Iraqi security forces is really a reliance on a force which will ultimately fail. They have no commitment to the government and no support within the wider community. We can Iraqimize the force, but if Sistani issues a fatwa, who do you think they will support? The US and Iraqi Vichy governments? Or their clerics?

In short, Bush's strategy is failing, and none of this relies on the abject hatred caused by our actions at Abu Ghraib. That just makes any US plan in Iraq unsustainable. The IGC hasn't been asking questions about kicking US forces out of Iraq for their health. No Iraqi government could ever be considered legitimate if it allowed the US to establish bases there. That's a political non-starter as much as shipping oil to Haifa. The Army thinks they'll be there five year, but in reality, five months is a stretch. We don't have the men and NATO is going to decline to lend us a hand, no matter what they say in Congress. The US has to leave Iraq at some point and that point will be sooner rather than later. We are at the early stages of the Abu Ghraib scandal and in the end, it will so discredit US policy that we'll have to flee the country.

posted by Steve @ 6:43:00 AM

6:43:00 AM

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Wednesday, May 26, 2004

Why I love New York, part 37

At bat vs. rats

W. Side clubber is murder on vermin


Rat-exterminating Manuel Rodriguez, dubbed M-Rod by W. 109th St. neighbors, displays trophy.

Rat batter Rodriguez shows off his killer stance...

...then strikes.
Meet Manuel Rodriguez: handyman by day, self-appointed rat-whacker by night.

Rodriguez has quickly become an urban folk hero by prowling his upper West Side street with a homemade bat, which he used to smash a career-best 15 rodents Sunday night.

"When I see them coming, I get into position," said Rodriguez, 53, clutching his custom-carved pine plank, crouching low. "I can't miss."

M-Rod, as some call him, is a one-man murderers' row.

His field of dreams is not a house built by some guy named Ruth but the strip of concrete bordered by trash cans and piled-high garbage bags in front of his apartment building, on W. 109th St. and Amsterdam Ave.

"I can hit seven - maybe nine - rats a night in front of my building alone," the Dominican immigrant said, cradling his club as cumbia love ballads wafted from the apartment next door. "Over three days, I kill at least 21. Easy."

At a time when the city is at war with rats, Rodriguez is an unsung soldier. Complaints soared 29%, to 19,358, during the 2003 fiscal year, prompting a crackdown by City Hall.

Rodriguez's night job starts after he puts in an eight-hour shift as a handyman, six days a week, at a homeless shelter. He returns to the basement apartment he shares with his wife, Justina, and their 13-year-old daughter, Adaiana, and showers, puts on a cotton shirt and baseball cap and hits the streets.

First, he hunts for planks from neighborhood garbage. The ideal bat is about 3 feet long and 4 inches wide. Then, he painstakingly whittles each one a 10-inch handle with a kitchen knife, and waits till dark.

"Last night I cracked two bats, so I always have to find more," he explained.

Rodriguez's rat-smashing season begins when the temperature soars and the garbage out front begins to boil with life


The man deserves a medal," said Alan Eiland, 40, a business information analyst and father of two. "Now, I hope he moves on to these damned pigeons."

You won't see this in New York and Company brochures or on Friends, but one of the happier aspects of life in Fun City is rodents. Lots of rodents. Who show up everywhere. They're in every corner of the city. They come out at different spots and snack on garbage.

This man, who like many New Yorkers, gets into a solitary quest to improve their corner of the city, has taken rat extermination to a new level. Instead of bait and poison, he goes medieval on their asses. No fancy poisons, just a bat and a healthy swing.

I'm not for old fashioned rat hunting myself, but if Mr. Rodriguez wants to take it up as a hobby, well, it's the kind of civic mindnesses which would go unmentioned elsewhere. This is the kind of rugged individualism which should not go unmentioned. No whining to politicians, no crying to the papers, just a man, wood and steely determiniation.

New York is one of those places where being strange is perfectly permissable. A guy comes home from work, starts to kill rats and gets in the paper. No one considers him a rat-killing freak, but a civic-minded New Yorker. Look at how big that rat is. I thin k it kind of needs killing myself. More luck to Mr. Rodriguez in his rat killing exploits.

posted by Steve @ 4:01:00 PM

4:01:00 PM

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Handover, schmandover, it doesn't matter, the Islamic Republic of Iraq is on the way

This man is a crook. A big, fucking, American-killing crook. The blood of thousands of Americans are on his hands.

Let's get one thing straight. Just one, and it is really simple. Not as simple as bread and butter or as straightforward as remembering your anniversary. But it is clear, sharp and finite: Ahmed Chalabi could have NEVER run Iraq.

Richard Perle and the rest of the neocons are truly ignorant men. You couldn't trust them to run a gas station, much less foreign policy. They pick a man who hadn't lived in Iraq until last year to champion. They were going to shove him into power, no matter what, not realizing that it was never going to happen.

The guy doesn't even have the character of Saddam, who at least did his own killing. Chalabi tried to manuver his way into power with an especially shitty con game. He told people, for quotation, that he would establish a pipeline to Haifa. That would be the same as running for governor of California and saying you wanted to open the US-Mexico border and encourage Mexicans to come north. An idea which wouldn't play in East LA, much less Orange County.

That one statement would be his death warrant in any Middle East country, where hating Jews is national policy. But to Iraqis, it marked him as Vidkun Quisling come back to life. Jim Hoagland in the WaPo today said we failed in not establishing a provisional government in Iraq. With who in charge? Chalabi? That would have started a civil war on the spot. Jesus, these people don't get it. Reality is not their fantasies. If it were, my sex life would make Hugh Hefner writhe in envy.

Chalabi has the delusions of a leader, but even if he wasn't an American-killing crook, he would have been tossed aside by far harder people than him. The generals would have taken his shit for a few days and then killed him like Mussolini. Days, not weeks or months.

The expectation that an exile could come back to Iraq and be accepted was a fantasy. The fact that most Iraqis hate him is hardly a surprise. His family fled when the Hashemites fell in 1958. What does he know about modern Iraq? The only reason this vermin has been allowed to exist is because he has powerful, gullible friends.

I'm too pissed to list the steps the US took with this assclown, but I will say this: at no point was this man close to credible. He was distrusted by everyone who dealt with his scheming ass. He wasn't in Iraq for a week before someone tried to kill him.

What is even more stunning is this: Sistani is no democrat. He wants elections so that can count the votes and place his people in charge, in a fair, democratic and shia majority way. We're hunting down Sadr to make it easier for him to impose his version of the Islamic Republic lite. Chalabi never, ever had a chance to jump the line and impose Vichy Iraq.

Why didn't these educated men heed the words of Machiavelli on exiles:


And it does not appear to me to be foreign to this subject to discuss among other matters how dangerous a thing it is to believe those who have been driven out of their country, these being matters that are acted upon each day by those who govern States; and I am especially able to demonstrate this by a memorable example given by T. Livius in his history, even though it may be outside his subject.

When Alexander the Great crossed with his army into Asia, Alexander of Epirus, his brother-in-law and uncle, came with his forces into Italy, having been called there by the exiled Lucanians, who had given him the hope that he could through their means occupy all that province.

Whence he, upon their faith and hope, having come into Italy, was killed by them, because they had been promised a return to their Country by the Citizens if they would kill him. It ought to be considered, therefore, how vain are the faith and promises of those who find themselves deprived of their country

For, as to their faith, it has to be borne in mind that anytime they can return to their country by other means than yours, they will leave you and look to the other, notwithstanding whatever promises they had made you. As to their vain hopes and promises, such is the extreme desire in them to return home, that they naturally believe many things that are false and add many others by art, so that between those they believe and those they say they believe, they fill you with hope, so that relying on them you will incur expenses in vain, or you undertake an enterprise in which you ruin yourself.

The previously mentioned example of Alexander is enough for me, but in addition, that of Themistocles, the Athenian, who, having been declared a rebel, fled to Darius in Asia, where he promised him so much if he should want to assault Greece, that Darius turned to that enterprise. Themistocles, not being able to observe these promises, he poisoned himself, either from shame or from fear of punishment. And if this error was made by Themistocles, a most excellent man, it ought to be considered how much more those men err who, because of less virtu, allow themselves to be drawn by their desires and passions.

A Prince, therefore, ought to go slowly in undertaking an enterprise upon the representations of an exile, for most of the times he will be left either with shame or very grave injury. And as the taking of towns rarely succeeds by deceit or by intelligence others within may have, it does not appear outside the subject to discuss it in the following chapter, adding some account of how many ways the Romans acquired them.

If this doesn't describe Chalabi's activities to a T, nothing does, will or can.

posted by Steve @ 2:24:00 PM

2:24:00 PM

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American Prison Rapefest in Iraq

Abu Ghraib's women prisoners

The contents of a note that was smuggled out of the prison were so shocking that, at first, Amal Kadham Swadi and the other Iraqi women lawyers who had been trying to gain access to the jail found them hard to believe. It claimed that US guards had been raping women detainees. Several of the women were now pregnant, it added. The women had been forced to strip naked in front of men, it said.

Swadi, one of seven female lawyers now representing women detainees in Abu Ghraib, began to piece together a picture of systemic abuse and torture perpetrated by US guards against Iraqi women held in detention without charge. This was not only true of Abu Ghraib, she discovered, but was, as she put it, “happening all across Iraq”. In November 2003, Swadi visited a woman detainee at a US military base at al-Kharkh, a former police compound in Baghdad. “She was the only woman who would talk about her case. She was crying. She told us she had been raped,” Swadi says. “Several American soldiers had raped her. She had tried to fight them off and they had hurt her arm. She showed us the stitches. She told us, ‘We have daughters and husbands. For God's sake don't tell anyone about this.’” During Swadi’s visit to Abu Ghraib in March, one of the prisoners told her that she had been forced to undress in front of US soldiers. “The Iraqi translator turned his head in embarrassment,” she said.

The Taguba inquiry has corroborated the contents of the letter smuggled out of Abu Ghraib by a woman known only as "Noor". The enquiry found the letter to be entirely in line with the activities going on within the prison. While most of the focus since the scandal broke three weeks ago has been on the abuse of men, and on their sexual humiliation in front of US women soldiers, there is now incontrovertible proof that women detainees have also been abused. Among the 1,800 digital photographs taken by US guards inside Abu Ghraib there are, according to Taguba's report, images of a US military policeman “having sex” with an Iraqi woman. Taguba discovered that guards have also videotaped and photographed naked female detainees. Bush refused to release other photographs of Iraqi women forced at gunpoint to bare their breasts (although Congress were shown them) - ostensibly to prevent attacks on US soldiers in Iraq. However in reality this is merely to prevent further domestic embarrassment.

Earlier this month it emerged that an Iraqi woman in her 70s had been harnessed and ridden like a donkey at Abu Ghraib and another coalition detention centre after being arrested last July. UK Labour MP Ann Clwyd, who investigated the case and found it to be true, said, “She was held for about six weeks without charge. During that time she was insulted and told she was a donkey.”

Several women are housed in solitary confinement, within cells 2.5m long by 1.5m wide. There remain extremely troubling questions as to why these women came to be classified as “security detainees” - a term invented by the Crusaders to justify the indefinite detention of prisoners without charge or legal access, as part of the war on terror. According to Swadi, who managed to visit Abu Ghraib in late March, the allegations against the women are "absurd". "One of them is supposed to be the mistress of the former director of the Mukhabarat. In fact, she's a widow who used to own a small shop. She also worked as a taxi driver, ferrying children to and from kindergarten. If she really had a relationship with the director of the Mukhabarat, she would scarcely be running a kiosk. These are baseless charges," she adds angrily. "She is the only person who can provide for her children." The women appear to have been arrested - not because of anything they have done, but merely because of who they are married to, and their potential intelligence value. US officials have previously acknowledged detaining Iraqi women in the hope of convincing male relatives to provide information; when US soldiers raid a house and fail to find a male suspect, they will frequently take away his wife or daughter instead.

The horrific abuses that are taking place in the prisons of Iraq have come to symbolise the horrific nature of the Iraqi crusade in general. The brutality of the six military personal, that happened to get caught out, is the logical continuum of the occupation.

So when the Iraqis take over next month, this will all get better, right?

posted by Steve @ 11:20:00 AM

11:20:00 AM

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Horny sailors, shore leave=Fleet Week

Helloooo, sailor!
Every year, Fleet Week brings a gaggle of oversexed seamen to New York City. Are they desperate enough to lust after wax statues of J.Lo and Julia?

- - - - - - - - - - - -
By Rebecca Traister

May 26, 2004  |  It's Fleet Week here in New York City, the annual lead-up to the Memorial Day holiday, when dashing seafarers from the Navy and Coast Guard disembark on Gotham's shores to let down their hair, see the sights -- and get themselves laid! It's a tradition that has been memorialized in movies like "On the Town" (from before Fleet Week was an officially designated event) and, more recently, the "Sex and the City" episode in which all the characters but Carrie flashed their ta-tas for our brave Men in White.

Fleet Week includes a bunch of patriotic and super-manly activities: wreath-layings and 21-gun salutes, fast jet planes and arm wrestling, lots of historic frigates clogging the harbor, and that weird apotheosis of phallic power where big boats spray impressive jets of water all over the Hudson. But that's just the official stuff. Unofficially, it's due to be a banner week at dance clubs and strip clubs, as the Navy and Coast Guard's contingent of straight men get their chance at sexual release after months of being cooped up together.

So what's a girl to think when she opens up the special Fleet Week section of the New York Post on Monday and finds a full-page ad for Madame Tussaud's wax museum that makes the place look a celebrity call-girl service for necrophiliacs?...... To the right of the image are the words "Madame Tussauds: An Interactive Experience." And below, the invitation, "While You're In Town ... Come Check Out the Hotties: J-Lo, Madonna, Julia Roberts, Elle McPherson and more. Beyonce Arrives 5/26/04." At the bottom of the invitation is a coupon for $3 off admission to the museum.  

The message seemed clear enough. In a mind-blowing embodiment of the objectification of women, Madame Tussaud's seemed to be offering sailors who were perhaps not lucky enough to score flesh-and-blood booty a chance to dry-hump celebrity wax figures.

"No, no, no, nooooo! Not at all!" exclaimed a museum spokeswoman when contacted about the implication of the ad's text and image. "He's not feeling her up! He's whispering in her ear!

Uh, not quite. Having friends who own bars in New York City, i can assure you that ANY straight woman looking to get laid will find a bunch of sailors and Marines more than willing to fuck you silly. As will any even moderately attractive gay man.

First, most of the sailors can't afford Manhattan's strip joints. Sure, the officers can, but then they have to wear civvies or go in large groups and they're not getting any play from strippers who left home to avoid these guys.

Second, a lot of the sailors can't get into bars Usually, a military ID is a free entry pass into a bar. Owners usually let the kids, and many are a year out of high school, drink. But there are a lot of places which check ID's and say no.

For some reason, the West Village's biggest gay bars will be packed this week. Some say it's close to the Piers where the ships dock, personally, I think the guys are crusing for blowjobs. There's nothing like a man in uniform. It seems to work out well, the kids get drunk, the guys get hot young men, and everyone forgets it ever happened.

Third, these kids are kids. Many would crap their pants in a place like Scores. Places like the Giuliani Mall at Times Square (most New Yorkers hate the place after Giuliani stole it from us and sold it to corporate America) will be filled with digital camera picture taking sailors and Marines. These kids come from the heartland and joined the Navy specifically to travel. So when they hit New York City, they are happy as a pig in shit to be here. They walk around in groups, stare at the buildings, take photos to send home to mom.and the wife. Despite the image, many of these kids are still figuring out sex and are no Don Juans.

When you talk to these kids, especially in uniform, they are, for lack of a better word, sweet. They're overwhelmed to be in New York, they love the place, it's kind of sensory overload for kids who never left Kansas or West Virginia. I met a kid from Oklahoma once who couldn't stop talking about how great New York was. And we met this sailor who had a bad crush on his female shipmate, and just like in college, she was more interested in going home with my friend. In an act of (rare) kindness, he decided to not take her home. Besides the fact that she was all of 19, all three of these kids were, as I said to my friend "man, if you take her home, you might as well put a gun in that kid's hand, because he's gonna kill himself." Nice kid, a Mormon from out West who was drinking a Coke ( a no-no, but he was living a little), but he had it so bad for this girl, it was touching.

The thing about places like Madam Tussauds is that it will be packed with sailors. People with local family will go, women will go, guys who like being married and faithful will fill up these places. While strip clubs will be packed, it's more likely that more sailors and Marines will visit the Toys 'R Us in Times Square than Scores or the new clubs along 11th Avenue. After all, you can't send a lapdance home to your three year old.

I've seen sailors and Marines drool over women in bars, sometimes it works, sometimes not. But there's a lot more to Fleet Week than just trying to get laid. For many, it's their first and maybe last trip to a big city and like tourists avywhere, they're going to enjoy the city, sober as well as drunk.

posted by Steve @ 1:24:00 AM

1:24:00 AM

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Tuesday, May 25, 2004

You mean Judy Miller was a tool?

Look at me, I'm a Times editor.

The Times offered this apologia for their Iraq coverage today:

The Times and Iraq

Published: May 26, 2004

Over the last year this newspaper has shone the bright light of hindsight on decisions that led the United States into Iraq. We have examined the failings of American and allied intelligence, especially on the issue of Iraq's weapons and possible Iraqi connections to international terrorists. We have studied the allegations of official gullibility and hype. It is past time we turned the same light on ourselves.

In doing so — reviewing hundreds of articles written during the prelude to war and into the early stages of the occupation — we found an enormous amount of journalism that we are proud of. In most cases, what we reported was an accurate reflection of the state of our knowledge at the time, much of it painstakingly extracted from intelligence agencies that were themselves dependent on sketchy information. And where those articles included incomplete information or pointed in a wrong direction, they were later overtaken by more and stronger information. That is how news coverage normally unfolds.

But we have found a number of instances of coverage that was not as rigorous as it should have been. In some cases, information that was controversial then, and seems questionable now, was insufficiently qualified or allowed to stand unchallenged. Looking back, we wish we had been more aggressive in re-examining the claims as new evidence emerged — or failed to emerge.

The problematic articles varied in authorship and subject matter, but many shared a common feature. They depended at least in part on information from a circle of Iraqi informants, defectors and exiles bent on "regime change" in Iraq, people whose credibility has come under increasing public debate in recent weeks. (The most prominent of the anti-Saddam campaigners, Ahmad Chalabi, has been named as an occasional source in Times articles since at least 1991, and has introduced reporters to other exiles. He became a favorite of hard-liners within the Bush administration and a paid broker of information from Iraqi exiles, until his payments were cut off last week.) Complicating matters for journalists, the accounts of these exiles were often eagerly confirmed by United States officials convinced of the need to intervene in Iraq. Administration officials now acknowledge that they sometimes fell for misinformation from these exile sources. So did many news organizations — in particular, this one.

Some critics of our coverage during that time have focused blame on individual reporters. Our examination, however, indicates that the problem was more complicated. Editors at several levels who should have been challenging reporters and pressing for more skepticism were perhaps too intent on rushing scoops into the paper. Accounts of Iraqi defectors were not always weighed against their strong desire to have Saddam Hussein ousted. Articles based on dire claims about Iraq tended to get prominent display, while follow-up articles that called the original ones into question were sometimes buried. In some cases, there was no follow-up at all

Blah, blah, blah. The fact is that Judy Miller and Michael Gordon wrote 12 stories which are now completely discredited. What's even worse is that Howard Kurtz wrote a long piece on Judy's little adventure with the 75th Materials Exploitation Group, implying strongly she was screwing one of the unit's senior warrant officers. All the Times did was act huffy and seem pissed that Kurtz, who had members of the unit contact him, wrote it up.

So instead of apologizing, who's going to be fired. Their coverage of Iraq wasn't only wrong, but bested by the WaPo. After all, it was Anthony Shadid who won the Pulitzer for his excellent coverage. And now the Times is humilated in print by their own admission. Miller, long known as well, a slut who slept with sources, should have been kept on a short leash. Look, journalists are almost as horny as cops, so I don't express shock at Miller's fucking habits. But it's been known for 20 years that she would fuck sources, or grow extremely close to them. Now, their rival paper runs a story allegding she was up to her old antics and the Times acts like this is gossip. Uh, Miller was wrong, she was asshole tight with Chalabi, which many people thought was a crook. Was she shagging him? Who knows? It's bad enough she was allegedly shagging a married warrent officer whom she covered. But what was even worse was that she was wrong. Not a little wrong, either.

To be fair, Gordon's reporting was nothing to write home about, either. He may or may not have been screwing sources, but he sure was played like a mark. What's even worse is that the two combined their skills to be even more wrong.

How long can you be questioned about your ethics, personal and professional, make your employer a laughing stock, and still keep your job. Isn't time for Gordon and Miller to be fired for incompetence?

posted by Steve @ 11:13:00 PM

11:13:00 PM

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Five roads to hell

President Bush embarasses himself before an educated, intelligent audience

The fact is that last night's speech before the Army War College was laced with irony. As he outlined his five roads to hell plan before America's most educated managerial class, most of the audience woud have probably flunked their peers for such a half-assed plan. You couldn't get a decent grade with such plan at either the Army War College or the Naval War College, where unlike Harvard Business School, you can't buy your way in or expect gentlemen C's.

Bush 's plan is not a plan, but the same old hopes and dreams Bush and the neocons have had for a year. I can't imagine why Bush doesn't realize that his Iraq plan is a faliure, not only to professional diplomats, but with the American public. The poll numbers are showing people think he's failing.

By Robin Wright and Mike Allen
Updated: 7:55 a.m. ET May 25, 2004

With only five weeks before the transition in Iraq and five months before the U.S. elections, President Bush last night called for more patience, more time, more resources and more support to transform troubled Iraq.

But Bush did not provide the midcourse correction that even some Republicans had called for in the face of increasingly macabre violence in recent weeks -- from the assassination of the president of Iraq's Governing Council and controversy over dozens killed by U.S. warplanes at a purported wedding party to the grisly beheading of an American civilian.

Nor did Bush try to answer some of the looming questions that have triggered growing skepticism and anxiety at home and abroad about the final U.S. costs, the final length of stay for U.S. troops, or what the terms will be for a final U.S. exit from Iraq. After promising "concrete steps," the White House basically repackaged stalled U.S. policy as a five-step plan.

"Our terrorist enemies have a vision that guides and explains all their varied acts of murder," Bush said. "They seek to impose Taliban-like rule, country by country, across the greater Middle East." He asserted that extremists now see Iraq as "the central front in the war on terror."

Still, the questions left unanswered last night could continue to make the administration vulnerable to criticism. "The more explicit and precise, the better. A lot of rhetoric without altering the substance will not do," said Zbigniew Brzezinski, national security adviser to President Jimmy Carter, who has been critical of the Bush administration's foreign policy. "What's involved is basically American credibility."

The president's soothing recitation of policy particulars offered few benchmarks or specifics on the most sensitive issues, such as the relationship between the Iraqi government to be installed July 1 and the U.S.-led coalition troops that are scheduled to remain in Iraq to provide basic security -- and what happens if Iraqis do not want foreign forces to launch new offensives. That issue underscores the potential controversies even after the occupation ends.

Bush is not altering course, but trying harder to do the same shit on a different day. These Iraqis, who he expects to betray 5,000 years of history to fight with us, seem to be more interested in watching US troops die, as they curse us for Abu Ghraib. Insteead of spending some time talking about leadership and Abu Ghraib, to an audience who might have appreciated it, he talked about a plan which wasn't working, isn't working and cannot work.

His insistance that if he just explains it better that it will negate what we see on TV may hold some amusement, for those without family serving or working in Iraq, but otherwise is delusional.

Let's take a look at Factsheet #4 from the CPA's website,

Fact Sheet #4: Reconstruction

• Since the liberation of Iraq, the Coalition has completed over 20,000 individual reconstruction projects worth billions of dollars.

• These projects have employed hundreds of thousands of Iraqis building and renovating schools, orphanages and medical clinics; roads, bridges and dams. Iraqis from Dohuk to Basra have worked on these projects and millions have benefited from them.

• Thousands of additional projects will be financed by over 19 billion dollars from America. Already Coalition officials are meeting with provincial and municipal leaders to hear their priorities.

• The Coalition will be accelerating these projects everywhere in country and we expect that they will create over a million and a half jobs over the next year.

• The Coalition will give priority to Iraqi firms whenever possible in order to create as many opportunities for Iraqis as possible.

• To date, the firms working on these projects have given contracts to several hundred Iraqi firms.

• Coalition military commanders and Coalition offices around the country will have an additional $500 million to spend on reconstruction projects which can be quickly completed, like fixing roads or schools, and which will provide jobs for Iraqis.

Well, let's add in a few facts:

First, rebuilding the main electricity plants in Iraq have been stopped since the companies doing it ran home because it was too dangerous, as the Globe and Mail reports.

The electricity projects were severely hampered by the wave of violence and kidnapping that began last month. Hundreds of Russian workers fled the electricity plants, and two major contractors (Siemens and General Electric Co.) suspended or reduced their work.

Raki Raheem Mustafa, director of the main electricity plant in southern Baghdad, had planned to finish the rebuilding of four units by June 10. But supplies were disrupted by the violence, and 38 of his 103 Russian technicians abandoned the plant. Mr. Mustafa now expects that the four units won't be repaired until late July. He predicts Baghdad will get only 16 hours of electricity a day this summer — far less than the full 24-hour-a-day electricity that had been planned.

"We promised the people that we would improve their electricity," Mr. Mustafa said. "When these delays happen, it makes me very upset."

Mr. Nash acknowledged that electricity shortages will remain in Iraq for some time, but he argued that this is because of rising demand as the Iraqi economy revives. The number of air conditioners in Baghdad, for example, has doubled in the past year.

In the next phase of reconstruction, the U.S. will put its emphasis on health, education and water supply.

Second, the Instutite for Global Security's Iraq Pipeline Watch lists 54 different sabotage attacks on Iraq's oil facilities since the beginning of the occupation, five this month alone

50. May 8 - bomb 35 miles (56 km) south of Basra damaged an 18-foot section of one of two pipelines running from Basra to the Faw peninsula on the Gulf. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Spokesman Steve Wright said oil exports from the Basra and Khor al-Amaya offshore southern terminals, through which about 90% of Iraq's oil exports flow, were stopped as a result: "Pumping has stopped. They attacked in the vicinity where the manifold goes into the sea." According to Iraqi officials exports were still flowing from Basra albeit at a reduced rate of 1.2 million barrels per day (bpd) compared with 1.6 million bpd prior to the attack as oil from the damaged pipeline is flowing through the parallel pipeline. Ali Nasr al-Rubaie, director of the main port terminal said exports had been halved following the attack: "We have dropped from an average of 80,000 barrels per hour to 40,000 barrels per hour."

51. May 8 - attack on oil pipeline taking crude northwards from the country’s southern oilfields at point 25 miles (40 km) south of Baghdad, oil ministry spokesman Assem Jihad said on Saturday, noting it would take several days to start pumping oil again.

52. May 9 - blast near a strategic oil pipeline network linking north and south Iraq, by the town of Musayyib, about 56 miles (90 km) south of Baghdad. Unclear what caused the explosion or whether the pipeline itself was damaged.

53. May 13 - rocket landed in a gas plant at the Daura oil refinery in Baghdad, injured a worker and caused a fire.

54. May 24 - explosion badly damaged the Northern pipeline at around 7pm local time on a section between the Kirkuk oilfields and the Dibis pumping installations. A security official of Iraq's Northern Oil Company, Juma Ahmad, said pumping had to be stopped to fight the fire. Another security official for Northern Oil, Issam Muhammad, said while the fire had been put out it would take 12 days to repair the damage.

But one could sum this up with a simple phrase: poor security.

Several private contractors and coalition reconstruction supervisors said work is picking up now after the wave of violence that began in April, but fewer sounded optimistic that Iraqis would see any sweeping improvements in their country by June 30. While CPA officials inside the heavily guarded Green Zone offer reassurances that construction continues apace, Baghdad businessmen know different.

Bandits recently killed two of Dhia al Aftan's drivers, halting important shipments of raw materials. Sabotage on electrical lines ended work at his brick factory, but he still pays salaries to 100 employees so they won't burn the place down. The roads are too dangerous, he said, for him to check on his wheat crop or his Pepsi plant.

The prosperous company started by his grandfather is losing millions, he said with a sigh. Just as he wound down his speech, collapsed in a plush chair and prepared to light a cigarette, an American helicopter roared past his window.

"Can you hear this? My children are sleeping!" he yelled. "I put my hand in the Americans' hands. Can you believe it? I honestly thought they were coming to rebuild my country."

"We can't get people to come for love nor money," said Allan Richardson, the CEO of Iraqna, an Egyptian-owned company with a two-year contract from the coalition to provide cell-phone service in central Iraq. "It's a mobile-phone network, right? But it's Baghdad - people aren't mobile. They're too afraid to go anywhere."

More than 30 employees of Halliburton, which has 24,000 workers and subcontractors in the Middle East, have been killed. The U.S. Agency for International Development, which oversees some reconstruction projects, lost about 10 percent of its non-Iraqi workers when they fled in April. Sabotage and bombings have forced giant firms such as Siemens AG, Bechtel and General Electric to suspend important water and electricity projects.

"The world has been made aware of the threat in Iraq to civilian contractors supporting the troops and Iraqis only recently," Halliburton spokeswoman Wendy Hall wrote in an e-mail responding to questions from Knight Ridder. "Our employees were prepared from Day 1 with the knowledge of the danger and the price that they could pay for their work in Iraq."

Steve Susens, a spokesman for the coalition's Program Management Office, which oversees the allocation of $18 billion in rebuilding funds, said money is finally flowing and projects are on deadline.

"Right now we've been spending $75 million a week, but we're rapidly approaching a time when we'll be spending about $75 million a day," Susens said. "We're still on pace."

The Al Janabi Group, among Iraq's oldest and wealthiest family-run companies, was one of the first local businesses to win high-stakes reconstruction contracts. Ali al Kayyat, the commercial manager, said the company was supposed to build a Home Depot in Baghdad, one of many big projects stalled by security problems. Kayyat said al Janabi has $3 million tied up in reconstruction, but "we could offer $100 million if the security improved."

"We're trying to make so many offers to foreign companies to show them how we're progressing," he said. "The problem is, we're not."

Bush's speech was a lie. The educated audience, all with at least a masters in a civilian field, like oh, international relations, knew it was a lie. But one can't wear a uniform and boo the president, much less call him a liar. One hopes Bush knew he was lying. Because if he thinks Iraq is progressing, that would be a far worse indictment than mere lying.

His constantly patronising call for Iraqis to "fight for freedom" with a country who tolerates the rape of teenage boys as an interrogation technique shows how out of touch he is with reality. The man lacks any real empathy or understanding outside his world of Jeebus and fundamentalist Christianity.. If he did, he might understand thatb he's asking the impossible. Abu Ghraib taints everything now, working with Iraqis,getting allies, everything. What NATO allies not now in Iraq are going to join the torturers of Abu Ghraib? How can the Europeans not feel vindicated after seeing the mess which is now Iraq? Why would they join us there?

The UN is not going to commit forces to be killed as occupiers, nor is NATO coming to save us. There just isn't the political support in Europe or the Arab countries to do so. A year, a disasterous year into this mess, few people realize that not only are we losing in Iraq, but our allies cannot help us, even if they wanted to.

posted by Steve @ 7:43:00 AM

7:43:00 AM

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Monday, May 24, 2004

Fancy salads

I was in Burger King today, to pick up a side salad, but now there are all these meat ladened, cheese filled salads.. Now, I don't mind the introduction of salads into the menus, but you have to wonder if this is a way to sneak healthy food into American diets. After all, salads, even those with Parmesan cheese, artfully shaved onto a bed a lettuce, are a lot cheaper to serve fhan hamburgers.

Burger King now has this massive "angus" burger, which isn't bad, a bit much for a meal, but it's not bad. Not that I eat this crap daily or close to daily, but I'm far more interested in the wholesale shift in menus. First came chicken, then cheaper, smaller entrees, now the $5 salad. They even offer their burgers in "low carb" verisons, sans bread.

Part of this is meeting consumer demand.. Moms are tired of packing on the pounds when the new movie toy comes out. Most people try to control their diet, so salads are going to have appeal. But once you add in the meat and dressing, aren't they really as high fat as the burger and the staple taco salad. We are still talking fast food staples here as the base and really calorie ladened dressings.

Is it a start? Sure, but it isn't terribly creative or much better than their burgers. Although, the design of the salads is imptrssive, they rely on a lot of cheese and fatty meat as their base. They're more like meat salads than real vegetable-based salads. They're not using pasta, non-leafy vegetables or any of the things we've come to love in real salads.

Yes, fast food salads are a good idea, but their execution feels like a half-step.

posted by Steve @ 7:03:00 PM

7:03:00 PM

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Agressively Stupid

Jim Taranto of Opinion is not one of the brighter right wing hacks. They are all so disagreeable. David Brooks may be incredibly wrong, but you could have a drink with the guy and not murder him. You might even be able to enjoy a barbecue with Tucker Carlson and not spend the next four hours shaking your head and drinking vodka and tonic from the big pitcher.

But for the most part, most of these right wing guys are either pathetic (Michael Savage, Rush Limbaugh) or aggressively creepy (Sean Hannity, Bill O'Reilly). I've never met Taranto, but Jen has. However, I think the guy is aggressively stupid.

Although 1864 and 2004 are vastly different times, there is a similarity. Now as then, America is at war, albeit this time with an external enemy; and now as then, some Democrats do not seem to be on the side of their own country.

This is, as I like to point out, an abuse of history. I don't think supporting the mangled, ruinious war in Iraq is "being on my side. I think it is destroying America.

Now, one of the posters accused me of the sin of American exceptionalism. No, God is not on America's side, whatever that means. But I do think America is different, and special, and not because we're God's gift to the world. That belongs to Australia.

America is a special place because it allowd people to coexist relatively peacefully. We can grow and change and admit error without destroying the country in violent upheaval. Americans, except for the aggressively stupid, don't have an idea of what being an American can be. No one serious says "being a Muslim is anti-American". We don't make students take off their hijabs to go to class. I think that makes America special. Not better, or greater, just different. Unlike most countries, we have no state religion and thus no state conformity. No matter how the wingnuts try.

Now, while I have many reasons to dislike Taranto, what I really dislike is the abuse of history. No Democrat is running on a surrender to Al Qaeda plan. The copperheads wanted to end the war we were winning. When I was a teenager, I'd read Bruce Catton. After college, I read James McPherson. I've seen the Ken Burns miniseries The Civil War.

In every book I've read, Catton's history of the Army of the Potomac, McPherson's Battle Cry of Freedom and countless others, it was clear that the Union Army was winning in 1864. Not only had large number of Union troops reenlisted, over 180,000 black troops had finally been allowed to join. That was 10 percent of the Union Army and they were highly motivated. While Irish immigrants dodged the draft and rioted in the streets, black men were eager to serve in the Union Army and end slavery.

What Taranto does with his simplistic slander is not explain what was going on in 1864. The Union Army, after a brilliant campaign in Virginia and Tennesee, found themselves in trench warfare at Petersburg and stuck outside Atlanta. The outcome of the war was hardly in doubt. The Confederacy was falling apart, desertions rising. What was driving anti-Lincoln sentiment was disquiet with the draft and casuality figures. Not any reasonable expectation that the Union was losing.

The last two commanders of CENTCOM, Marine Generals Anthony Zinni and Joseph Hoar think we're losing, and losing badly in Iraq. That's quite a difference, Jim. But if he'd read his history, he'd know his comparison is slander.

We are not winning in Iraq, the Democrats are not calling for us to surrender to Al Qaeda or even withdraw from Iraq. I think it's the aggressivly stupid like Taranto who are not on America's side, at least any America most of us would want to be part of.

posted by Steve @ 5:55:00 PM

5:55:00 PM

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Update note

The upgrade was easy, since I used a standard blogger template. The hard part was the colors, which were too muted for my tastes. For all of you blogging via blogger., the new template and features are pretty cool. I just had to change the colors to suit my taste.

If you notice something off, please let me know.

Also, you can log on anonymously, since blogger seems to be a pain in the ass about it, but if you have an online name, just place it in the body of the text. That should encourage you to post more without fearing that blogger is going to jerk you around.

I think it came out well with only some minor, but time consuming, adjustments, and added a bunch of features.

posted by Steve @ 5:48:00 PM

5:48:00 PM

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Strippers against Bush

Strip clubs' naked ambition to oust Bush

By Andrew Gumbel in Los Angeles

24 May 2004

The interests of the morality-toting Bush administration are not exactly in harmony with those of the United States' 4,000-odd strip clubs. And now the clubs are doing something about it, by registering their patrons to vote in between floor shows and agitating openly to boot the President out of the White House in November.

Voter registration forms are being distributed in clubs in at least three states - Ohio, Wisconsin and North Carolina - and the political rhetoric, from an industry usually noted for its deep reluctance to stick its head above any parapet, is growing ever more vehement.

"We must do everything within our power to help ensure that Bush and his ultra-conservative administration are removed from the White House,'' the president of the industry's Association of Club Executives, Michael Ocello, wrote in a recent letter to his members.

"If we are to survive, we must act now.'' In Ohio, where the association's chapter president describes the Bible-thumping Attorney General, John Ashcroft, as "the American Taliban", 2,000 new voters have been registered in the past few weeks.

In southern Wisconsin, club owner Jim Halbach has begun canvassing clients and dancers, arguing that if President Bush wins a second term it could be the end for all of them.

"I'm actually fighting for my survival,'' he said. "That's the way I look at it." The odd thing is that the administration, while making no secret of its disapproval, has launched no specific crackdown against strip clubs

Think the war against Howard Stern has something to wiith this?

posted by Steve @ 2:10:00 AM

2:10:00 AM

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A few bad months

On The McLaughlin Report today, a show where the host seems to be getting more liberal each week, Tony Blankley, GOP Hack, said Bush had a few bad weeks.

Bush is not having a "few bad weeks", he's watching his presidency collapse around him. His refusal to fire people is costing him any chance of victory. People talk about Kerry's lack of charisma and "bad" campaign, and they miss theb point. Bush is not just losing, he's in free fall. He bet his entire presidency on Iraq and only the true believers think some kind of miracle is going to happen.

I think it's delusional to think that our European allies will "put boots on the ground" as Gen. Zinni suggested on 60 Minutes. The Iraqi resistance is anti-occupation, not anti-American. We're just the occupiers. The US has one option: phased withdrawal. Abu Ghraib has the British very skittish, and the Germans wouldn't touch Iraq with a 50 meter pole. The problem for Bush is that phased withdraw is a defeat in the war on terra. And he can't afford that.

The life expectancy of the new Iraqi government is days, not years. If they can set car bombs in the entrance to the green zone, what makes you think the new government won't be attacked as collaborators?

Everywhere Bush turns, he is failing. Even the ecomony is short millions of jobs. And unlike 1988, Kerry is going to do what it takes to win, deal with the egomaniac Nader, wait for nomination, it don't matter much. Whatever it takes.

Once an incumbent slips below 50 percent, especially when Kerry has been low-key, it would take a lot for things to turn around, more than having Osama pop out of a box or blow his brains out. If that did happen, Bush would face real pressure to pull the the troops from both Afghanistan and Iraq because most people would think the war on terra was over. If there was another successful attack on the US, people would be inclined to ask why. Again, Iraq would come up as people ask wouldn't the National Guardsmen there be better served protecting us at home? Endless war may be on the agenda for Bush and the neocons, but it isn't for most Americans.
Bush is headed down and Kerry, watching this, isn't going to show his cards yet. Abu Ghraib isn't just getting worse, it may well spin out of control. Pictures, videos, now Dick Sanchez seeing torture? As I've said before, never stop a man from stepping on his dick. Kerry, like the rest of us, has to watch this play out. His numbers will get better without him doing a thing. They already are.

posted by Steve @ 1:29:00 AM

1:29:00 AM

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We took him, he died, we don't know what happened

'I will always hate you people'

Family's fury at mystery death

Luke Harding in Baghdad
Monday May 24, 2004
The Guardian

The first Mohammed Munim al-Izmerly's family knew of his death was when his battered corpse turned up at Baghdad's morgue. Attached to the zipped-up black US body bag was a laconic note.

The US military claimed in the note that Dr Izmerly, a distinguished chemistry professor arrested after US tanks encircled his villa, had died of "brainstem compression".

Dr Izmerly's sudden death after 10 months in American custody left his family stunned, not least because three weeks earlier they had visited him in the US prison at Baghdad airport. His 23-year-old daughter, Rana, recalled that he had seemed in "good health".

The family commissioned an independent Iraqi autopsy. Its conclusion was unambiguous: Dr Izmerly had died because of a "sudden hit to the back of his head", Faik Amin Baker, the director of Baghdad hospital's forensic department, certified.

The cause of death was blunt trauma. It was uncertain exactly how he died, but someone had hit him from behind, possibly with a bar or a pistol, Dr Baker confirmed yesterday.

"He died from a massive blow to the head. We don't disagree with the coalition's report, but it doesn't explain how he got his injuries in the first place," he told the Guardian.

The apparent murder of a "high-value" detainee, held as part of the search for weapons of mass destruction, is another blow for the Bush administration, still reeling from the Abu Ghraib jail abuse scandal.

Dr Izmerly was on the coalition's original "200 list" of suspects from Saddam Hussein's regime, and his death happened just two weeks after the US military began its own secret inquiry into the prison west of Baghdad. Last Friday the Pentagon admitted it was now investigating eight more suspected murders.

Several prisoners have been found to have died before or during interrogation. They include Major General Abed Hamed Mowhoush, a former commander of Iraq's air defences, who died last November during interrogation at Qaim.

The original US autopsy said he had died of a heart attack. It now appears he was suffocated during interrogation when a CIA officer put him in a sleeping bag and sat on him.

Last night the family of Dr Izmerly were in little doubt he had been murdered in US custody. The reasons for his death were covered up, they believe.

"This was not natural," Rana told the Guardian yesterday, in the first interview given by the family since his death. "The evidence is clear. It suggests the Americans killed him and then tried to hide what they had done. I will hate Americans and British people for the rest of my life. You are democrats. You said you were coming to bring democracy, and yet you kill my father. By accepting your governments, you accept what they do here in Iraq.

"You offer no proof that he did something wrong, you refuse him a lawyer and then you kill him. Why?"

Dr Izmerly does not appear to be among the cases under the review announced by the US defence department last week.

Ooops. Sorry about that.

posted by Steve @ 1:08:00 AM

1:08:00 AM

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Sunday, May 23, 2004


The President fell off his bike this weekend or he was drunk, either way, he hit his face and looked stupid. Personally, I think, since he never handled his booze problem, when things get tight, he runs to the sauce. My mother thinks he's constantly drunk, but I think he's a binge drinker myself.

However, after seeing Gen. Anthony Zinni call for the resignation of the civilian leadership of the Defense Department on 60 Minutes, which is a stunning thing for a retired general, was hardly surprising, He made it clear that Bush screwed up and his deputies screwed up.

I don 't know what people think will happen on July 1, when sovregnity is "handed" back to the Iraqis. That Iraq will "turn around" and save Bush. It's not going to happen. It won't even be close. Bush is headed for disaster in Iraq and a landslide defeat at home. Iraq could not be going worse.

It was amusing to see Chalabi challenge George Tenet and demanding to be taken before a Congressional committee, instead of the grand jury he richly deserves. But it's not the CIA with the damning evidence, but the DIA and NSA. The generals are behind his fall from grace as much as the CIA, if not more.

I mean they are charging that Gen. Sanchez witnessed torture at Abu Ghraib, which if true, is not only danming as a commander, it means he's been lying to Congress. The result would be the most serious courtmartial in US history.

What seems to have happened is that the good generals want no part of Rumsfeld and his risk players and the lackies got the key jobs. Where is the Army Chief of Staff in this mess? Shouldn't he be worried that one of his key combat commanders may be courtmartialed for a variety of crimes? Myers isn't in the chain of command, he is.

I never imagined, not in my darkest moments, that the US would be reviled as torturers and the idiots who did would laugh their way out of court. Their lawyers are arguing that if Sanchez approved, they were following orders. Uh, no, I don't think that will fly, but the fact that there is a witness, a captain, who will testify to that is downright scary.

Iraq is lost, Bush is going to lose. Unless thinfgs change quickly, and there is no sign that they will, as the US fights two insurgencies and has little political support. The US is losing the war because there is no feasable military option and no political option which doesn't end without a complete, humiliating US withdrawal.

And even worse, Chalabi is seeking to play games with the transition. And the Kurds are chiming in. This is the kind of thing which could force Sistani to turn openly against the Americans. I don't care how many speeches Bush gives, the reality is that Iraq is getting worse than anyone can imagine or can cure.

posted by Steve @ 10:57:00 PM

10:57:00 PM

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I'll be making changes to the site all day. I like the new features of Blogger and want to integrate them into the site. If any advertiser wants, I'll give them an extra week for free.because of today's downtime, just e-mail me.

Sorry for the loss of comments, but I want to use blogger comments instead, it seems to be nicer and integral to the design of the site.

So the site will look different for the next couple of hours.

Oh, and the titles now work.

posted by Steve @ 2:50:00 PM

2:50:00 PM

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Breakfast, meet the press and moral blindness

Breakfast, meet the press and moral blindness

I'm watching Meet the Press, as I drink iced coffee and eat an egg sandwich. I had to walk slowly to the supermarket (still recovering) and since my mother had a slight accident (she's OK), I've had to step up my errands. I'm feeling a lot better and am begining to go out and do things, with help, but it's getting better and I should be fully functional by mid-summer. A long time, but better than being at Walter Reed and learning to walk again.

But I bring this up, not for sympathy, I don't need any at the moment:), but to place the following in context:

I usually wake up on Sundays in time to watch the of This Week. Every week, they run a memorium segment, of both the famous and the dead from Iraq. Quietly, uncontroversally, and weekly.

This week, for the first time in six months, I had to pick up some food from the supermarket. Not a lot, my lifting ability are limited, but since my mother fractured her foot, I was in better shape to walk (slowly) across the street to the store. I knew I could handle it, since I'd been out on Friday to see my friends.

So, except for that, this is a normal Sunday, I get up, watch the chat shows and eat. Except I was too lazy to cook and too hungry to wait to have someone cook, so I bought my food. I also don't keep coffee at home, since I drink it like once a week, I'm a tea person, but that's a discussion for another thread. But I love iced coffee, and a cup and some ice make iced coffee.

As I looked over the last comments thread, James Wolcott, a frequent poster here, and I believe is the same guy as one of my favorite New Yorker writers (now writing for Vanity Fair, and sober to boot), made a point: it was that all the discussion on these shows was tactical, how we fix Iraq and move on.

Now, as I ate my egg,cheese and meat hero (grinder, hogie, whatever) and drank my coffee over ice, this struck me as blunt and true. It's not a comfortable truth, but it is true. Wolcott is saying something which I hadn't really considered in the ebb and flow of the news. I'd touched upon it on the last post, but the man is dead on and said it clearly. The Beltway Kool Kids Klub is mising the point. The world was looking to see which US would deal with 9/11. Was it the America of their hopes and dreams, the one which remade Western Europe and Japan, or the dark, cruel America which destroyed the Philippines and Vietnam.

Well, America number 2 came out in full, ugly force. Osama has achieved a moral victory against the US he could have never achieved without our active assistance. America truly does represent the best of mankind. Not in the exceptionalist way that we usually fall back on, but in our open arms and ending our worst practices. Americans believe in fairness, even when it is painful to make change. There is no way to be an American, anyone can be one. Being an American is what you make of it.

And for this gift, we have an obligation, and that is not to add to evil in the world. We don't kidnap people and hold them incommunicado. We are not the British or the French, we are not supposed to be cynical and old.

Bush and the neocons thought we could just step up from the world's superpower to being an imperial power, and we are now finding that we wear that cloak poorly. We are not imperialists and cannot be imperialists. Our belief in rights and human dignity make us poor supervisors of other peoples.

Iraq, as Wolcott said, is not a tactical problem. It is a moral problem. It goes to the core of who we are and what we believe. It matters if Americans torture and murder in Iraq because thatr is not who we claim to be. When we have to face this reality that Americans aren't only torturers, but take a savage glee in this, we're not only losing Iraq, but failing ourselves. It doesn't matter when we create Vichy Iraq, civil war will break out long before a ballot is cast. It does matter how we act in Iraq,

The neocons suffered from the arrogance of ignorance. Shipping out inexperienced college grads to run a country they could not possibly understand and rarely saw. In today's WaPo, Simone Ledeen, daughter of neocon Michael Ledeen, was a CPA administrator. Betwen bonuses and salary, she took home 100K a year. Now, when one of the translators she worled with was injured in a bomb blast, she visted her in the hospital. Leeden was so clueless that she had no idea that her visit could condemn her friend to death by the resistance. The fact that she was wearing a helmet and flak vest should have been hint, but she was so clueless that she didn't get that working for Americans was a way to get killed in Iraq.

The neocons thought it would be so easy, this act which goes against the grain of every instinct we have. This is how the Spanish-Americn war ended, with a nasty, unpopular guerrilla war in some backwater we'd never heard of in a quest for colonies. History was clear, people hate being colonized and subjected to the experiments of others and we are poor colonizers. in the end, we let them go. To this day, Filipinos are allowed to join the US military from home. To the neocons, Iraq was a playground, a lab to test their theories and then bring them home. But unlike the United States, the opposition doesn't have years of combat experience and RPG's and open weapons dumps to make their point.

Our failure in Iraq is not just political, although it is clearly that, it also, maybe primarily, moral. We tried to remake the world, or at least one corner of it, on the cheap and influenced by lies. The fact that it is failing, and reconstruction has largely stopped due to guerrilla attacks, is no surprise. What is surprising and sad is people refuse to recognize this. Abu Ghraib is like a skin leison. It is not the blemish which counts as much as the underlying cancer. Treating it is the only way to live.

posted by Steve @ 11:14:00 AM

11:14:00 AM

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Apocalyspe Iraq

Apocalyspe Iraq

It's late, but I can't sleep. It's a little warm in here, and Apocalyspe Now Redux is on IFC. This mean its unedited and letterboxed. The resolution isn't as good as my monitor, but it's one of the things I have to buy on DVD.

I've seen parts of the redited movie for months, but not in one shot. I've seen the original 10 times, five in theaters. The reason this comes to mind is Iraq. Things are far worse than i predicted. I haven't been following each turn in the erupting scandal because I still have to make sense of it. Something, wrong, horribly and awfully wrong is happening there and I don't mean in the platitude "war is evil" way.

We've entered a hell of our own creation, but one moving at light speed. The CPA, as Atrios points out in his linking to a WaPo story, was run by people who wanted to work at the Heritage Foundation. That doesn't make them evil, or even wrong, just totally unqualified to run anything in Iraq. None spoke Arabic, or had lived in the Middle East. They were woefully undertrained compared to their military counterparts.

But the CPA being a mess is fixable, something else, something deeper, is happening to us in Iraq. I can't make sense of it, not in a meta way, because this is truly a trip into the heart of darkness. Not just some bad decisions, but a decision to use evil means to accomplish a justified goal. They didn't just torture innoncent people, they enjoyed it. They didn't just ignore the Geneva Conventions, they tried to abrogate them. We're now doing Sistani's dirty work by attacking Sadr, as if he'd ever sit for a trial. Chalabi turns out to be an Iranian spy. Hardly a shock, but still stunning.

The abuse at Abu Ghraib is now thought to be Army-wide and in both Afghanistan and Iraq.

It is a loss of morals. George Bush has taken shortcuts his entire life. He even circumvented his quitting drinking by running into the arms of Jeebus. For some reason, Bush and his staff took 9/11 to mean that we could act however we chose in self-defense. Instead of a victory for civilization and rationality (freedom and democracy mean different things to different people), we are now reviled around the world as torturers, murderers and a threat to stability. We became a monster, not the kind that rips off heads, but the kind that lets boys be raped for "intelligence".

Our intel in Iraq is a failure. We can protect no one, we get amushed every day and we kill the innocent. The world knows this if Americans pretend we do not.

Heart of Darkness begins on a pleasure cruise and ends in the Congo. It sums up the brutality and cost of all colonial adventures, which is why Apocalyspe Now was based on it.

'Tell me, pray,' said I, 'who is this Mr. Kurtz?'

   "'The chief of the Inner Station,' he answered in a short tone, looking away. 'Much obliged,' I said, laughing. 'And you are the brickmaker of the Central Station. Every one knows that.' He was silent for a while. 'He is a prodigy,' he said at last. 'He is an emissary of pity and science and progress, and devil knows what else. We want,' he began to declaim suddenly, 'for the guidance of the cause intrusted to us by Europe, so to speak, higher intelligence, wide sympathies, a singleness of purpose.' 'Who says that?' I asked. 'Lots of them,' he replied. 'Some even write that; and so HE comes here, a special being, as you ought to know.' 'Why ought I to know?' I interrupted, really surprised. He paid no attention. 'Yes. To-day he is chief of the best station, next year he will be assistant-manager, two years more and . . . but I dare-say you know what he will be in two years' time. You are of the new gang -- the gang of virtue. The same people who sent him specially also recommended you.


Now I had suddenly a nearer view, and its first result was to make me throw my head back as if before a blow. Then I went carefully from post to post with my glass, and I saw my mistake. These round knobs were not ornamental but symbolic; they were expressive and puzzling, striking and disturbing -- food for thought and also for vultures if there had been any looking down from the sky; but at all events for such ants as were industrious enough to ascend the pole. They would have been even more impressive, those heads on the stakes, if their faces had not been turned to the house. Only one, the first I had made out, was facing my way. I was not so shocked as you may think. The start back I had given was really nothing but a movement of surprise. I had expected to see a knob of wood there, you know. I returned deliberately to the first I had seen -- and there it was, black, dried, sunken, with closed eyelids -- a head that seemed to sleep at the top of that pole, and, with the shrunken dry lips showing a narrow white line of the teeth, was smiling, too, smiling continuously at some endless and jocose dream of that eternal slumber.

posted by Steve @ 3:33:00 AM

3:33:00 AM

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The quisling test

The quisling test

Coalition forces 'seek immunity'

The coalition in Iraq wants its troops to remain immune from prosecution by Iraqis after the handover of power, it is reported.

Creating a sovereign Iraq should mean forces become subject to Iraqi laws.

But BBC Correspondent Jonathan Beale says UK and US forces want to remain under their own jurisdictions.

The Foreign Office said negotiations on gaining a new UN security council resolution on the handover are at an "extremely important stage".

Agreement on the resolution governing the return of Iraqi sovereignty, set for 30 June, needs to be reached in the next few weeks.

Jonathan Beale says one of the biggest sticking points is the issue of whose laws the remaining foreign troops will be subject to - their own or Iraqi laws.

Giving them immunity is likely to be controversial after allegations of abuse by troops of Iraqis.

"It seems to be that the British and American governments want to get guarantees that soldiers remain under their own laws not Iraqi laws," he says.

"This is going to be controversial if you are going to make American and British troops immune from Iraqi laws because the wrongs that have been done seem to have been against the Iraqi people themselves," he adds

Whoever agrees to this has betrayed the Iraqi people and is thus a quisling. After Abu Ghraib, who would want US forces immune from Iraqi law?

posted by Steve @ 1:42:00 AM

1:42:00 AM

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