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Saturday, December 31, 2005

Time to get paid

Rewarding the Bloomberg Staff. Eat up
greedy little piggies, there a lot for you

Fat city for Mike aides

They get $1.5M for work on campaign


Billionaire Mayor Bloomberg doled out $1.55 million in bonuses to 79 campaign staffers yesterday - including a whopping $400,000 to campaign manager Kevin Sheekey.

The other big winners were Patricia Harris, a top campaign adviser and deputy mayor, who got $350,000, and Bill Cunningham, a senior campaign strategist, who received $300,000.

The mayor gave every other staffer on the campaign's payroll a bonus equivalent to 20% of the staffer's total salary. The checks were mailed yesterday - and in time to bring some cheer in the new year.

"The mayor feels that these individuals ran an exceptional campaign, and he wanted to show his appreciation," said Stu Loeser, a Bloomberg campaign spokesman.

The breathtaking announcement comes less than 48 hours before Bloomberg delivers his second inaugural address at City Hall on New Year's Day.

The mayor's largesse brings his total spending for his self-financed reelection campaign to at least $79.4 million - the most money ever spent on a nonpresidential race.

But the thugs should have been happy with a two-tier pension system, right, Mayor Mike.

posted by Steve @ 10:04:00 AM

10:04:00 AM

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My favorite moments of 2005

Look at the baybee panda

My favorite commercial to yell at:

The new Army commericals where the black kid says he wants to go in the Army to his mother and be an engineer

My response: You ain't goin' in no damn Army boy, I don't give a damn what that recruiter says. You wanna be a what? Boy, you know what engineers do? Blow shit up. Are you out your goddamn mind? They'll gonna ship your black ass to Iraq as soon as you finish training. Boy, let me talk to that motherfu...recruiter.

"Hello, Mr. Recruiter, you ain't sending my boy to no Iraq to die for George Bush. I rather him be ignorant and alive than ignorant and dead. Don't you call my house again. Lyin' bastard."

Favorite Bush gaffe

Playing Mark Willis's guitar as people died in New Orleans

Favorite Cheney gaffe

"They're in their last throes"

Best Americans of the year

The Coast Guard rescue swimmers who went with no warning to save the lives of New Orleans residents while no one else did anything.

Worst American of the year

Michael Brown

Most craven act by negroes

Mychal Massie; "Slavery was a good thing"

Runner up

John McWhorter and Robert George: Bill Bennett isn't a racist.

Biggest fictional event used by Republicans

The case of the flying Oreos at Morgan State. It was a barrage, no a delugue. Funny how they leave out the catcalls and insults, which did happen.

My favorite "straight" Republican

David Dreiher. Once used Doro Bush as a beard, was turned aside by his fellow Republicans for being "straight".

Most odious comment of the year by a wingnut

John Goldberg's jokes about people swimming in the Superdome

Runner up

John Derbyshire's comment that black people had no self control

Coolest thing said by a famous person

George Clooney reminding Bill O'Reilly about Andrea Mackris

Coolest thing done by a famous person

Johnny Depp writing a wonderful eulogy in Rolling Stone for Hunter S. Thompson, then paying for a massive memorial service, complete wit ash tossing cannon.

Most pathetic defense

Andy Sullivan reminding us how great the Bell Curve is, or Intelligent Design for racists.

Republican most likely to send people to jail

Jack Abramhoff

Best Press Conference of the year

Pat Fitzgerald explaining why Scooter Libby was indicted.

Most pathetic performance by a Press spokesman

Scott McClellan explaining why they have nothing to say about Scooter Libby being indicted

Bush's most boneheaded play

Trying to steal social security and not getting that people didn't trust Wall Street enough for that.

Most obvious attempt at revenge

The Bush reverse leak investigation. My favorite response: say you're a whistleblower and demand protection under the whistleblower statute, because you think the wiretaps are illegal.

Which ticking time bomb goes off first contest

Is it the Plame leak investigation or Abramhoff rolling over on his friends.

The obvious statement masquerading as radicalism

Kanye West "George Bush doesn't care about black people"

Bush's worst single moment of the year

"Brownie, you're doing a heck of a job"

The most loathsome Americans of the year

The Schindler family. Unconcerned children might get hurt in their lunatic quest until people mentioned it on TV

Worst play of the year

Speeding past Cindy Sheehan on way to a fundraiser

Favorite campaign of the year

OH-2, where Paul Hackett nearly won, now 30 Iraq War vets are running for Congress

Best single political moment of the year

Jack Murtha calling for the end of the Iraq War

Biggest political gaffe of the year

Jean Schmidt using the word coward on the House floor in criticizing the double purple heart and Bronze Star winner Murtha.

Worst judgement of the year

Condi Rice shopping for Ferragamos while people drowned in New Orleans

And the comment of the year

Barbara Bush "they probably never had it so good"

Best Single Column of the Year

Maureen Dowd calling for Judy Miller to be fired, and calling her a whore in the process. Who says the Irish can't hold a grudge? Asked to give up a seat 20 years ago, Dowd remembered it all too well.

Three people we'll miss

Hunter Thompson

Peter Jennings

Richard Pryor

Three we won't

Scooter Libby

Judy Miller

Duke Cunningham

posted by Steve @ 2:16:00 AM

2:16:00 AM

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This is amazing


Transit Union Says It Got Vow to Skirt Veto

Published: December 31, 2005

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority has signed an agreement that guarantees to compensate transit workers more than $100 million if elected officials in Albany block a critical component of the contract settlement that the authority reached with the union this week, according to several representatives on the union's side.

The officials disclosed the existence of the agreement when they were asked to respond to Gov. George E. Pataki's threat to block the proposed contract provision, which calls for about 20,000 transit workers to receive thousands of dollars each in refunds for a portion of pension contributions they made between 1994 and 2001.

On Thursday, after many newspaper editorials and fiscal conservatives denounced the refunds as inexcusably generous to a union that had staged an illegal strike, Mr. Pataki's office warned that the governor was inclined to veto the legislation that would be required to refund the money.

Under the side agreement, the officials said, the substitute compensation could come in the form of cash bonuses, and would be paid out of either the transportation authority's operating budget or its surplus.

David Catalfamo, a spokesman for Mr. Pataki, said that no one in the governor's office had been told of - or had known of - the refund provision before the tentative settlement was announced on Tuesday. He also said yesterday that the office was unaware of any separate agreement that would provide the refunds if the Legislature or Mr. Pataki blocked them.

Gary J. Dellaverson, the authority's chief negotiator, declined yesterday to comment on whether there was a separate agreement outside the six-page memorandum of understanding that the two sides signed on Tuesday.

Asked about the pension refunds, he said: "It wasn't a last-minute highway robbery. We knew what it cost as part of the agreement. I was comfortable with the agreement and I am pleased with it."

The refunds have become a lightning rod for critics who assert that the provision, no matter what its real fiscal effect, gives the appearance of rewarding the union, Local 100 of the Transport Workers Union, which staged a 60-hour strike last week in violation of the state's Taylor Law. "The governor was clear: The T.W.U. has broken the law and they will suffer the consequences," said a spokeswoman for Mr. Pataki, Joanna Rose.

Damn. Pataki should ask the TWU for his testicles back one day.

The fact is that the MTA needs labor peace in the years ahead. The critics can spout, but it's no longer their city. The MTA needs the good will of its workers and the minority middle class, regardless of Pataki. Once again, Pataki's "hard line" makes him look like a clown.

posted by Steve @ 1:48:00 AM

1:48:00 AM

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It wasn't me

He didn't touch me

U.S. Women Accuse a Coach of Harassment

Published: December 31, 2005

SALT LAKE CITY, Dec. 30 - Some members of the United States women's skeleton team, including the 2002 Olympic gold medalist Tristan Gale, have accused Coach Tim Nardiello of a pattern of sexual harassment dating to 2002.

Although Nardiello has denied the accusations, officials at the United States Bobsled and Skeleton Federation decided Thursday that he would remain the coach for the Turin Olympics in February but would be asked to resign three days after the Winter Games end.

That decision, announced to the federation's board by the interim executive director, Robie Vaughn, in an e-mail message, further angered the athletes who made the accusations and another coach who said he had witnessed harassing behavior. On Friday, one of those athletes, Felicia Canfield, sent an e-mail message to the board stating that she wanted her complaint to be considered a formal grievance against Nardiello.

In interviews and in e-mail messages sent to the federation and shared with The New York Times, athletes asserted that Nardiello had made sexual advances toward women on the skeleton team, had made sexually explicit comments and had barged into hotel rooms while women were undressing.

Terry Allen, another women's coach, said in an interview that he first told the federation in 2002 about inappropriate behavior he had witnessed between Nardiello and athletes.

Nardiello denied the accusations, dismissing them as complaints from athletes who did not make the Olympic team.

"I would have to say that is absolutely not true, and I would leave any other comments to counsel," Nardiello said in a telephone interview from his home in Lake Placid, N.Y., where the federation is based. He did not provide the name of a lawyer.

posted by Steve @ 1:40:00 AM

1:40:00 AM

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$1m for an idea

$970,000 so far

Cash pours in for student with $1 million Web idea

By Peter Graff Thu Dec 29, 1:05 PM ET

LONDON (Reuters) - If you have an envious streak, you probably shouldn't read this.

Because chances are, Alex Tew, a 21-year-old student from a small town in England, is cleverer than you. And he is proving it by earning a cool million dollars in four months on the Internet.

Selling porn? Dealing prescription drugs? Nope. All he sells are pixels, the tiny dots on the screen that appear when you call up his home page.

He had the brainstorm for his million dollar home page, called, logically enough,, while lying in bed thinking out how he would pay for university.

The idea: turn his home page into a billboard made up of a million dots, and sell them for a dollar a dot to anyone who wants to put up their logo. A 10 by 10 dot square, roughly the size of a letter of type, costs $100.

He sold a few to his brothers and some friends, and when he had made $1,000, he issued a press release.

That was picked up by the news media, spread around the Internet, and soon advertisers for everything from dating sites to casinos to real estate agents to The Times of London were putting up real cash for pixels, with links to their own sites.

So far they have bought up 911,800 pixels. Tew's home page now looks like an online Times Square, festooned with a multi-colored confetti of ads.

"All the money's kind of sitting in a bank account," Tew told Reuters from his home in Wiltshire, southwest England. "I've treated myself to a car. I've only just passed my driving test so I've bought myself a little black mini."

Me? He's cleverer than a whole bunch of people from Sand Hill Road.

posted by Steve @ 1:33:00 AM

1:33:00 AM

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TV 2006

I am your new overlord, tiny white man.
Kneel before me.

The second TV season, according to my sources, should be quite interesting.


The new show, from 50 Cent and Eminem, will have one pimp and 25 hoes compete to be his main lady. The contestants will have to earn money by "turning tricks" "robbing tricks" and "double teams". Who ever makes above a cut off point gets to stay.

Desperate actors

Since most of reality show constestents are really actor/waiters, this show is based in humiliation. Forget Fear Factor antics, they go on audition for roles for major TV shows. No gimmicks, just the daily humiliation of actors being rejected.

Real Estate Lawyer

Most laywers don't litigate, they file. Step inside the world of real estate law, see the fast pace world of mortgages and house closing with a team of high priced lawyers, who negotiate in the office and in the bedroom


The conflicts and drama inside Southern California's newest megachurch. See how Reverend Danny Ray Pastor has to fight the NFL for parishoners and keep his fledging TV network going. Dallas, Dynasty, now Megachurch.

Parole Officer

Follow PO Rahim Ellis and his team through the mean streets of Camden, NJ. Corruption, violence and clients trying to keep free make this the most intense series since Blind Justice

Internal Affairs

Watch the cops of IA bust the crooked cops of the LAPD. See them use the same techniques they use on skells on brother officers. Previously called the Rat Squad.

Brokeback Mountain -The Series

Follow the heroes of the award winning movie to their new home-sunny San Francisco. Can their tender love story survive the steaming fleshpots of the City by the Bay?


Paris Hilton is talking and you're listening. Her new fashion/talk/pet care show will stun and amaze. Watch the first episode when she gets her high school diploma.

Abu Gharib

Like E-ring and 24, this military drama takes you into the heart of the war on terror, right into Iraq's most dangerous prison. See how OGA interrigator Bob Smith deals with getting info from the prisoners, while avoiding prosecution for crimes. Bob and his loyal band of soldiers and CIA officers bend, even break the law to get those terrorists.


Follow Jenna Bush from bar to vacation spot with her Secret Service detail. Watch Jenna convort at St. Barts, drink in Cancun, dance the night away in Monte Carlo, and meet rich boys from around the world.

Note: The Iraq episode was cancelled when Jenna found no booze would be served.


The antics of warbloggers will have you screaming as they post from their various studios and basements. SF31, Bushlover, AmericanEagle and YellowRibbon Woman take on online terrorists, Michael Moore and liberals to protect America

posted by Steve @ 12:01:00 AM

12:01:00 AM

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Friday, December 30, 2005

Research is good

Hard work

Bitter Brew
I opened a charming neighborhood coffee shop. Then it destroyed my life.
By Michael Idov
Posted Thursday, Dec. 29, 2005, at 4:15 PM ET


The failure of a small cafe is not a question of competence. It is a sad given.........................

A place that seats 25 will have to employ at least two people for every shift: someone to work the front and someone for the kitchen (assuming you find a guy who will both uncomplainingly wash dishes and reliably whip up pretty crepes; if you've found that guy, you're already in better shape than most NYC restaurateurs. You're also, most likely, already in trouble with immigration services). Budgeting $15 for the payroll for every hour your charming cafe is open (let's say 10 hours a day) relieves you of $4,500 a month. That gives you another $4,500 a month for rent and $6,300 to stock up on product. It also means that to come up with the total needed $18K of revenue per month, you will need to sell that product at an average of a 300 percent markup.


Coffee was a different story—thanks to the trail blazed by Starbucks, the world of coffee retail is now a rogue's playground of jaw-dropping markups. An espresso that required about 18 cents worth of beans (and we used very good beans) was sold for $2.50 with nary an eyebrow raised on either side of the counter. A dab of milk froth or a splash of hot water transformed the drink into a macchiato or an Americano, respectively, and raised the price to $3. The house brew too cold to be sold for $1 a cup was chilled further and reborn at $2.50 a cup as iced coffee, a drink whose appeal I do not even pretend to grasp.

But how much of it could we sell? Discarding food as a self-canceling expense at best, the coffee needed to account for all of our profit. We needed to sell roughly $500 of it a day. This kind of money is only achievable through solid foot traffic, but, of course, our cafe was too cozy and charming to pop in for a cup to go. The average coffee-to-stay customer nursed his mocha (i.e., his $5 ticket) for upward of 30 minutes. Don't get me started on people with laptops.

............ Two highly educated professionals with artistic aspirations have just put themselves—or, as we saw it, each other—on $8-per-hour jobs slinging coffee.

Looking back, we (incredibly) should have heeded the advice of bad-boy chef Anthony Bourdain, who wrote our epitaph in Kitchen Confidential: "The most dangerous species of owner ... is the one who gets into the business for love."

This comment came along with the article:

$7.50/HR - How Generous! A failed coffee shop in New York illustrates your point about the working class. This guy had two workers at $7.50/hr (no benefits, did he even pay SS?) and he's moaning because he can't find someone to make crepes at that price. It's not suprise he failed, that's what happens when you live in a dream world.

First, restaurants have a 60 percent failure rate. There's a new place across the street from me which is going to join them. I spent $8 for my last mediocre meal from them tonight. Everything is either bitter or burnt, the menu too extensive and the owner absentee, unless he's a Latino in a uniform. It's probably some lawyer who thinks he or she is a fucking cullinary genius. It's a shame, because the remodel job was sweet.

But let me tell you how clueless the owner is: there's a new, big deli opening up within a month up the block, there are two delis and a Blimpies on the same block, I eat in what we call the pizza place (even though I don't like their pizza) a couple of times a week or so. Why? They are competent in fixing what I want, even if it's off-beat at times.

But this place, not only has the highest prices in the block by far, but is surrounded by a nursing home, large hospital and two schools, yet doesn't serve breakfast.

Which wouldn't be so bad if their food didn't suck. Not horribly, but just enough to make you to stop giving it chances.

Now, this guy in the article didn't do his research. You know you need foot traffic, you do this before you rent space. You work the number out first.

But I also love the sense of entitlement that while he expected "immigrants" to work for $7.50 with no bennies, less than they pay in Wal-Mart, he was "with his education" outraged to make $8 an hour. Like he was naturally better than his employees.

posted by Steve @ 10:17:00 PM

10:17:00 PM

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Three days in December

A $725 a night hotel room

Power is a funny thing, abstract, remote, until you run smack into it.

It was comical to see so many college educated liberals turn into cheap labor liberals without any clear reason. Some was simply astonishment that it took both education and skill to move seven million New Yorkers, shock that their their own crappy benefits paled before union work, some simply astonished that black New York was asserting itself in a serious, city-altering way.

Some of it, a small part, was race, but that was more a function of the media ( which we'll deal with seperately), But since race and class in New York are like an alloy, seperating the two is quite difficult. I don't think all of the people screaming about pensions and firing people were race baiting, but class baiting.

Having been told their entire lives that the only route towards success was through college and a degree, many, for the first time, were shocked to confront the critical nature of the people who really run the city. While we like to pretend it's Bloomberg and Trump, the reality is far different.

And it was black New York, long the quiet undercurrent of New York life, which jumped up and said "not this time"

When faced with the fact that people they thought less about than elves, despite making their economic lives possible, had beneifts long gone from their jobs, many were resentful. After all, they had been told their entire lives that college guaranteed success and confirmed their intellgence.

Which is why so many people were quick to call for the firing of these highly skilled workers and to cut the pay for their replacements.

They simply had no clue what they were saying.

The best example of what underpaying municipal employees can do is the New Orleans police force, which made 13K to start in the 1990's. The force was riven with extreme corruption, to the point that one officer murdered her partner in a stickup.

You want a transit system run by people with an incentive to work elsewhere? Fine, but I'll buy a car first.

While walking around with a Harvard degree may make you feel important, the realities is that anyone can be a bond dealer or Congressional aide with enough training. You need mechanical skill to fix buses correctly. If the aptitude isn't there, you can't do the job.

A lot of the anger was the sudden realization that much of what they had been told was, well, bullshit. College was and is only one route to success. But to the average New York office worker, that was what they were told to expect from life. Go to college, do well. But life is more complicated than that.

However, it is unamerican to turn your anger to parasites like Paris Hilton, the Bush twins and the Princes of Malibu, useless blights on the this country and members of the CEO princeling class. So the TWU stands in their stead. Beat up on the poor transit workers because they defied you. It's fine to joke about the parasitic rich or denigrate them, but to express genuine anger and resentment? Nope. But you can curse and abuse the working class. They have no real voice in the city.

Well, no.

What also amazes me about the lack of support for the TWU among the blogging set was the lack of realization of their role in preserving the city. Their salaries, which stay in the city, have made New York stable and safe. They are the home and car buyers, the people who fill Target on weekends and Sylvia's on Sunday. They made the revival of Harlem and Central Brooklyn possible.

Without those salaries, Billyburg and the LES would be dangerous dumps you'd avoid at all cost.
Why? Because New York has a viable urban inner city. It isn't Washington or Detroit or someother city which was abandonded for the suburbs.

The New York where you live out your Sex and the City fantasies exists because people doing dangerous, unglamorous jobs keep their salaries in the city. Not that many people want to recognize that. They bought into the nonsense pumped out by the tabs and the TV. They recycled the most odious cheap labor arguments without any real thought behind them. It never occurred to them that New York's economics needs well-paid workers at places like Verizon, Con Ed and for the city.

Here's a story on how much New York changed. When my father got out of the Marines in 1958, he was offered a job at Con Ed as a security guard. Instead, he worked for the VA for 40 years, rising from high school dropout orderly to degree holding counselor. My mother went from homemaker to day care provider to degree holding city property manager.

My parents and the rest of my relatives stayed and built New York when they had to fight their way into a decent job over decades.

A lot of people do not realize that their jobs aren't just the result of a degree, but the living city around them. The people who were telling you that the TWU was your enemy were also hoping you were too stupid to figure out that without a stable, reliable mass transit system, you'd be stuck in some office park in the suburbs.

One other thing: don't come looking for support for your causes when you don't support other people's. The reason that Ratner has been so successful in gaining support for his neighborhood-killing stadium is that he's been able to play new white residents against old black residents. Thankfully, some people saw through that.

Be glad the TWU won their fight. Because while some of you bit on the divisiveness of the media, a lot of you realized what it was, a plan to diminish worker rights. It isn't enough to be progressive when it's easy. You have to support progressive causes when it's hard. Because if you don't, people will not support your causes.

posted by Steve @ 5:54:00 PM

5:54:00 PM

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Are you kidding me?

The short-fingered vulgarian and his wife

Well, would you hire this man to be gov?

Trump mulling Albany run, say GOP sources


ALBANY - Could New York's state capitol building become the next Trump Tower?

Republican sources said The Donald - who in 1999 toyed with the idea of running for the White House on the Reform Party line - is mulling a bid to persuade New Yorkers to hire him as their next governor.

Senate GOP leader Joseph Bruno tantalized reporters yesterday by declaring a wealthy mystery candidate is "thinking" about seeking the party's backing to replace Gov. Pataki.

Bruno - a longtime Trump admirer who has gained new clout within statewide GOP circles as Pataki prepares to leave state politics - wouldn't name the potential candidate.

"When it gets public, you are all going to become excited, interested, and will want to write about it," said Bruno. "This person is thinking about it, and I bet you you'll vote for him if he ends up running."

A billionaire Republican, real estate developer, casino mogul and TV star, Trump has been a big supporter of the Bruno-controlled troupe of Republican state senators.

But he's also sent donations to Attorney General Eliot Spitzer, the current Democratic front-runner in the governor's race.

Oh yeah, so he can finally explain why he helped frame five innocent kids with his inflamatory full page ad? Or how he kept going bankrupt? Or how a casino owner could be governor?

Trump cannot withstand the public scrutiny of his entire career and personal activities. Eliot Spitzer is not Freddie Ferrer.

posted by Steve @ 5:10:00 PM

5:10:00 PM

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Story of the year

My son's a fucking idiot

Broward teen returning home after sneaking away to Iraq to 'answer justice's call'

By Jamie Malernee and and Kevin Smith
Sun-Sentinel Staff Writers
Posted December 30 2005, 9:32 AM EST

A 16-year-old determined to witness Iraq's struggle for democracy firsthand secretly hopped a plane to the Middle East alone and eventually made it to Baghdad -- frightening his parents and stunning officials who consider it one of the most dangerous places on Earth -- before agreeing to return home to Fort Lauderdale.

Farris Hassan has now left after being on his own in Iraq for several days, then spending time under the care of the U.S. Embassy.


"I know I can't do much. I know I can't stop all the carnage and save the innocent. But I also know I can't just sit here ... I feel guilty living in a big house, driving a nice car, and going to a great school. I feel guilty hanging out with friends in a cafe without the fear of a suicide bomber present. I feel guilty enjoying the multitude of blessings, which I did nothing to deserve, while people in Iraq, many of them much better then me, are in terrible anguish. Going to Iraq will broaden my mind ... I will go there to love and help my neighbor in distress, if that endangers my life, so be it ..."


After Farris Hassan landed in Kuwait City, the teen attempted to get into Iraq by taking a taxi across the border. He couldn't cross because of the security surrounding Iraq's elections, and called his father.

"I said, `You go to the [American] Embassy right now! The border is closed," the father recalled. "He said, Yes Sir! Yes, Dad!"

Then something even more extraordinary happened. Instead of ordering his son home, Redha Hassan said he gave him the choice to go to Beirut for a week to stay with family friends, and then go to Baghdad once the border opened and private security could be arranged.


The teen chose to stay, he said, going to Beirut, where he interviewed Israeli and Lebanese border guards and spent Christmas night in a church interviewing Christians. Soon after, Redha Hassan said he flew his son to Baghdad International Airport, where private security personnel took him to a safe hotel. Redha Hassan said he was able to arrange security through political connections he had as a result of being active in a resistance movement against Saddam Hussein during his youth.

But if there was security, it didn't work too well. According to The Associated Press, Farris Hassan was alone when he marched into a war zone office where AP staffers were based. He told them he was in Iraq to do humanitarian and research work as an extension of a school project in immersion journalism.

The AP quickly called the U.S. Embassy. According to the AP, which interviewed the teen, his parents were not sure of his exact whereabouts. The news agency also reported that the 101st Airborne will escort the teen out of Iraq. His mother said he is expected to return Sunday.
Well, at least this can be said of him: he has more balls than our chickenhawk trolls.

posted by Steve @ 11:47:00 AM

11:47:00 AM

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What child molestation?

What was that about moneychangers and

Church's settlement offer riles lawyers
$7.5m proposal too low, demeaning, they say

By Frank Phillips, Globe Staff | December 30, 2005

The Catholic Archdiocese of Boston has offered $7.5 million to about 100 alleged victims of clergy sexual abuse, lawyers in the cases said yesterday.

A lawyer for some of the alleged victims called the proposal ''egregiously disingenuous," and others said the offer would provide far less money to each of their clients than the historic 2003 agreement that settled 554 cases.

The lawyers said the archdiocese's attorney, Thomas H. Hannigan Jr., briefed them over the last week on the details of the archdiocese's proposal. The plan would require many of the claimants to prove their case in a mediation process in which they would be cross-examined and may be forced to confront priests accused of abuse, the alleged victims' lawyers said.

The archdiocese confirmed yesterday that negotiations are underway, but refused to discuss details or respond to criticism by the alleged victims' lawyers.

''Representatives of the Archdiocese of Boston are in discussions with individual plaintiffs' attorneys as they work to resolve pending claims," the archdiocese said in a statement released through its media consultants, Rasky Baerlein Strategic Communications. ''In conjunction with a mediation agreement reached with plaintiffs' counsel, however, all discussions are confidential."

posted by Steve @ 11:26:00 AM

11:26:00 AM

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You make the call

Long fuckin' fall, ain't it?

Someone was wondering if I was kidding or exagerating when I called coverage of the recent strike in the city's tabs, racist.

Well, you be the judge:

Throw Roger from the train!


Roger Toussaint, we dare you to take to the Brooklyn Bridge this morning to tell the cold, walking throngs why you chose to disrupt the lives of millions, jacked up the expenses of tens of thousands, shuttered and crimped businesses, exposed the subway system to terrorism and generally threatened the public health and welfare.

It would be delicious watching you try to justify the reckless, lawless transit strike that you have inflicted on the city - assuming your fellow New Yorkers didn't hurl you over the railing into the icy waters before you got a word out. For this town, a labor town, is seething at getting hammered for no good reason.

The rage will only build as the public gets the full picture of how Toussaint rashly led the Transport Workers Union away from the bargaining table despite winning concession after concession from the Metropolitan Transportation Authority. The most furious of all should be the 33,700 workers who are on the street without paychecks and facing huge penalties for violating the Taylor Law.

Funny thing, that's how Emmitt Till died, tossed into a river. Did the DN expect the mob to tie a fan and refrigerator to him before tossing him in?

Were the editors suggesting that Toussaint be lynched? I have my opinion, but I'm one person.

Note: Toussaint DID appear at Grand Central, where he was greeted with a fair amount of support.

posted by Steve @ 2:45:00 AM

2:45:00 AM

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What genocide? Armenians? Kurds? Nah


Turkey, Iraq and the Kurds

By Tulin Daloglu
December 28, 2005


Some claim that Turks want to preserve Iraq's territorial integrity because they see Iraqi Kurds as a threat to their borders. Is this a racist, anti-Kurdish Turkey? No. But each time the Kurdish issue arises, some treat the Turkish state as criminal. Those on the other side say it is the Turkish government's duty to win the hearts and minds of its Kurdish citizens. If not, there is no solution to the separatist Kurdish nationalist feelings that fuel PKK terrorism. When al Qaeda attacked on September 11, Osama bin Laden's issues were with the U.S. government more than its citizens. The bottom line: A terrorist is a terrorist, and a state has the right to defend itself when attacked.

ut some argue that the Kurdish question is different, and not limited to PKK terrorism. In fact, Robert Blackwill, who served as deputy national security adviser and presidential envoy to Iraq during first Bush administration, sounded surprised at a recent Council of Foreign Relations event when he acknowledged the fact that "[M]ost of the economic development that's happening in Kurdish Iraq is coming across the Turkish border." He may be surprised because the lobbying firm he heads, Barbour Griffith & Rogers, was retained by the Kurdistan Democratic Party in July 2004 "to ensure that Iraqi Kurdistan maintains its autonomy from Baghdad in the new Iraq Government, and for the return of oil-rich Kirkuk -- which Saddam Hussein had 'Arabized' as the capital of the region -- to Kurdistan."


Since the war in Iraq, the biases against Turkey on the Kurdish issue have resulted in Iraqi Kurds not taking action against the PKK. Moreover, they persuaded the United States that it is the right thing not to act against them. Those PKK terrorists have crossed the border from Northern Iraq into Turkey, and so far have killed more than 260 innocent Turkish citizens. If the PKK is a terrorist organization similar to al Qaeda -- as stated by various senior U.S. officials -- then ask yourself this question: What action would the U.S. government take if it knew al Qaeda terrorists could cross the border into the United States from Mexico?

So will they admit they murdered a million Armenians yet? Killed thousands of Kurds, and destroyed 3,000 villages?

This article is bullshit, not because the author is wrong, but because it has big fucking blind spots.

Modern Turkey's founder, Mustafa Kemal (better known as Atatürk--"father of the Turks"), enacted a constitution 70 years ago which denied the existence of distinct cultural sub-groups in Turkey. As a result, any expression by the Kurds (as well as other minorities in Turkey) of unique ethnic identity has been harshly repressed. For example, until 1991, the use of the Kurdish language--although widespread--was illegal. To this day, any talk that hints of Kurdish nationalism is deemed separatism, and grounds for imprisonment.

The Turkish government has consistently thwarted attempts by the Kurds to organize politically. Kurdish political parties are shut down one after another, and party members are harassed and imprisoned for "crimes of opinion." Most famously, in 1994 Leyla Zana--who, three years prior, had been the first Kurdish woman elected to the Turkish parliament--was sentenced to 15 years for "separatist speech." Her party was banned. More recently, in June the leaders of the pro-Kurdish People's Democracy Party (HADEP) were sentenced to several-year prison terms for allegedly having ties with the outlawed PKK guerillas. The state prosecutors' evidence consisted largely of press releases found in the HADEP offices from a news agency close to the PKK.

Adding to the grievances of Turkey's Kurds is the economic underdevelopment of the southeast. The Ankara government has systematically withheld resources from the Kurdish region. As a result, there are two distinct Turkeys: the northern and western regions are highly developed and cosmopolitan, part of the "first world," while the south and east are truly of the "third world."

The disparity and repression led to the formation of an armed separatist movement, the PKK, in 1984. While the majority of Turkey's Kurds do not openly support separatism from the Turkish state, many do support the PKK, as the only force fighting for broader Kurdish cultural, economic and political rights.

The state immediately responded to this threat with increased force, deploying some 300,000 troops in the southeast at an annual cost of $8 billion. In addition, the Turkish armed forces instituted a system of "village guards," paying and arming Kurds to keep the PKK guerillas out of their villages. Villages that refuse to participate in the guard system face demolition by the Turkish military, while those that go along suffer under harsh reprisals by the PKK.

The war escalated dramatically in the early 1990s. Between 1984-91, an estimated 2,500 people had been killed. Over the next four years, that figure shot up to 20,000. Some 3,000 villages have been destroyed by the military in an effort to rout out PKK sympathizers, creating more than 2 million refugees.

It's not biased to wonder if a country which has never come to terms with its genocidal acts might rampage across Kurdistan to hunt down the PKK and not be too careful in dealing with the Peshmerga.

Oh, and the difference between Al Qaeda and the PKK is simple. The PKK is made up of Turkish citizens rebelling against Turkish acts against their culture and peoples.

And there is this:

Turkey won’t charge Pamuk over military comments

ANKARA, DECEMBER 29: State prosecutors will not press charges against novelist Orhan Pamuk over comments in an interview that Turkey’s military was sometimes a threat to democracy, the state Anatolian news agency said on Thursday.

Pamuk is already on trial under Article 301 of the penal code for separate remarks that nobody in Turkey dared discuss the alleged massacre of a million Armenians during World War I and the deaths of 30,000 Kurds in the past two decades. His case has attracted strong international interest and has raised difficulties for Turkey’s as it negotiates for EU membership.

posted by Steve @ 2:37:00 AM

2:37:00 AM

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B-26's, phones, both can stop oil just fine

Oil refinery, Baiji, Iraq

Death threats cut Iraq oil flow

Iraq's largest oil refinery has been shut down following death threats to tanker drivers, jeopardising supplies of electricity across northern Iraq.

The threats followed a steep rise in the price of petrol earlier this month, ordered by the government.

The oil ministry said the shutdown at Baiji was costing $20m (£12m) a day.

The ministry said it hoped the refinery, which has been out of action since the weekend, would be back up and running within days.

"Efforts are being made to convince the drivers to return to work," a spokesman said.

The Baiji refinery normally produces 8.5m litres (2.2m gallons) of petrol per day, along with 7.5m litres of diesel.

Oil distribution has been further disrupted by storms that have prevented exports being shipped from the Basra terminal in the south, Reuters said.

Although billions of dollars have been spent on infrastructure since Saddam Hussein's regime was toppled, fuel and electricity production have not reached the levels maintained before the US-led invasion of Iraq.

Gee, how'd they get the phone numbers?

A few phone calls between cousins, a few late night visits and you can stop $20m of production a day. This is both brilliant and scary, brilliant because it hits a weakpoint the Americans didn't see and scary because of the same reason.

And neither the Americans or the Iraqi Army can protect them.

posted by Steve @ 2:03:00 AM

2:03:00 AM

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It wasn't supposed to be like this

She left me for that? How could she?
"Wake up Bob, it's only a dream. You were
watching Skinimax last night"

My wife left me for a woman -- could I please have my divorce now?

I've been through hell for two and a half years, and I'd really like this marriage to be officially over!

By Cary Tennis
Print EmailFont: S / S+ / S++
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Dec. 23, 2005 | Dear Cary:

My wife left me almost two and a half years ago for a woman. After having worked through everything involving the infidelity, the gay issue, custody of our then 1-1/2-year-old daughter (although I'm not sure I'll ever be OK with that), etc., I'm ready to move on with my life.

We decided to go to a mediator, as neither of us was financially able to hire lawyers to take care of the divorce. The first year of mediation was rocky, as I felt I was getting the short end of the stick, and I was fighting for custody of my daughter. Time has cooled things out, and we are what you might call "amicable," although I don't really believe that's how things are. .........

She had an affair with a friend of her younger brother's, and she quickly moved in with her after I asked her to leave our house. They're still together and seemingly happy................ I've met the woman I should have met 10 years ago, and we bought a house together, closer to my daughter. .......

.............. Keep in mind, I was rolling along, assuming that life was all set. I was married, owned a house in a suburb, and had a wonderful daughter. ............... Obviously, she has some far deeper issues to deal with that she was never willing to address with me. Sexual abuse, abusive father masquerading as a caring, loving family man. That's not my problem anymore.

I don't have the money to hire a lawyer and file for me, but I'm considering just filling up a credit card and taking care of it that way. She always promises that we'll get it done, and it never happens. What should I do?

And here is Cary's best advice of 2005:

However, while at first I thought that if you could just come up with some clever way to get her to sign the final divorce papers you would be in the clear, the more I think about it, the more I think you probably ought to have a lawyer on your side. Because although people do tend to drag their feet when it comes to signing the final papers, something else may be going on. This woman has demonstrated that she is unpredictable and unreadable. She may just be dragging her feet, or she may be angling for some advantage that you cannot yet see. She may even be angling for an advantage that she cannot see!

So I think you need to protect yourself. A good lawyer would be able to poke around and see if there are any such future aggravations for you hidden in this agreement that she has not yet signed. And, presumably, that lawyer will be able to bring some pressure to bear on the situation so that this matter can be closed. That lawyer might also, in the process, suggest some things you may have agreed to which you might want to renegotiate from a position of relatively greater strength. After all, I notice that you are not happy with the custody provisions.

Just a thought. I understand that your main wish is to finish this quickly. I'm just thinking, since her recalcitrance prevents you from finishing it quickly anyway, you may want to reconsider some of the concessions you have already made.

i.e.:custody. You might want to rethink that, given the way she's restricted the visits and her infidelity.

posted by Steve @ 12:01:00 AM

12:01:00 AM

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The Glue Trap

Do not fucking use these

Jen here.

For those of you who don't like my politics, it's okay; keep reading. Sometimes I post just because I feel the need to write, and now is one of those times.

I just walked in to my apartment about fifteen minutes ago.

I had an average day at work. I have tomorrow off. After work, I was too tired to haul downtown to have a (huge) mudslide at the Continental, so I aimed to go straight home to drop off my laundry and get some milk.

I had two beers at the Bohemian Beer Hall in Astoria, where I caught up with the regulars, read 70 or so pages into the novel I'm trying to get through, and helped two bridge and tunnelers figure out the menu. I was feeling good. After getting back to the apartment and throwing down my messeger bag, I took out my garbage and made ready to drop off my laundry. So far, so good as far as beginnings of long weekends go.

I dropped of said laundry across the street from my place, and hit the bodega next door to the laundromat. Got milk. Didn't win my scratchoff ticket. As I waited for the light, I tore up my lottery ticket and started to throw it in the trash can on the corner.

Then my evening changed.

I heard tires screech as a car dug in to an empty space about 4 cars behind me. Doors slammed, and I heard loud male voices. I ignored them; a sports bar was across the street. As they came up on me from behind, I smelled Too Much Cologne and heard a "bang" noise. Soomething landed in the trash next to me, so hard and so close I almost jumped.

"Hey Mike, whydja bring the book with you? Leave that shit in the car!" I looked up-one of the loud young white guys had an accountant's ledger under their arm. I always suspected that the sports bar ran books. They were very loud and a little scary. "Yo, last time I left it in the car, it got stolen, and Paulie almost killed me!" They crossed the street. Once they were in front of me, I looked in the trash, expecting a bottle.

Instead, I saw two glue traps.


Each one had a mosaic of roaches large and small, flies, and ants stuck to them.

And one small, live, struggling mouse on each one.

My Mom called earlier today. A bat had gotten into the house a few days ago, scaring the crap out of her. She hadn't been able to find it. She discovered it in the middle of the living room today, half dead.

She put it in a shoebox and threw it out, but couldn't bring herself to kill it.

She had seen my stepfather die--awfully and slowly--from crushing in a car accident. And she just couldn't do it. He used to have glue traps around, and my Mom would freak if a mouse was stuck to it that wasn't dead. Now, she does not allow glue traps in the house (we have a cat--at least the little guys have a fighting chance) but she couldn't "have the nightmares" from crushing this poor bat--which was sick/wounded beyond repair--either.

When she called me, I tried to convice her to kill the bat, but to no avail.

As seconds ticked by, I watched the two mice struggle in the cold and the starting-again rain on their traps.

I felt like it would be cowardly to just walk away.

Carefully, I fished the two filthy, hellish glue traps out of the trash. I realized that there was no way I could pull the mice off. I was afraid to touch them, but tried moving them with my foot, bits of lottery ticket, etc. It just made them more stuck.

I couldn't watch them twitch--to wait to die, by freezing or rats or bugs or starvation.

I put the two traps on the sidewalk, after prying the sticky corners off of my fingers.

I was wearing my Fluevog boots. I just had them polished today.

I crushed the two little mice.

Once quick stomp and twist each, full force.

As I stepped in a muddy curbside puddle to wash off my boots, I didn't care if I got a waterline of grime on the fresh polish.

I felt like crying.

I felt like I had done the right thing.

I looked down again, and each mouse was now a smear of red, white, and purple on the traps.
I re-rinsed my boots in the puddle, and carefully put the traps back in the trash.

I got in and wiped my boots on every welcome mat and strip of industrial slip-proofing on my way up the stairs. I washed my hands three times before I even put my milk away--twice with softsoap and once with dish detergent.

I lit my Chanukkah candles--and a stick of cheapass incense from Ricky's--somehow the whole incident left an almost spiritual stench in my nostrils. How could those guys just toss out two little creatures like that?

I'm not an Animal Rights Freak. But if you're going to kill something, at least don't make it suffer.

I still feel sad over all of this. But at least I can feel better for having acted decisively. I hope I alleviated at least a little tiny bit of suffering somewhere.

posted by Jenonymous @ 12:00:00 AM

12:00:00 AM

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Thursday, December 29, 2005

No man is above the law

The ALCU is running this as a full page ad. Copy and pass along

posted by Steve @ 11:48:00 AM

11:48:00 AM

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TWU wins major victory

Toss me in the river? I don't fucking think
so, Mort.

New York Transit Deal Shows Union's Success on Many Fronts

He was excoriated on tabloid front pages and by the mayor and governor. As thousands streamed across the Brooklyn Bridge on a frigid night during last week's transit strike, someone in a car yelled out his name, prefacing it with a curse.

But now, a day after details of an agreement between the transit workers and the Metropolitan Transportation Authority were spelled out, Roger Toussaint, the union's president, seems to have emerged in a far better position than seemed likely just a few days ago.

Mr. Toussaint, whose back appeared to be against the wall last week, can boast of a tentative 37-month contract that meets most of his goals, including raises above the inflation rate and no concessions on pensions. Indeed, several fiscal and labor experts said yesterday that Mr. Toussaint and his union appeared to have bested the transit authority in their contract dispute.

The authority did not come away empty-handed, however, as it obtained a major concession: For the first time, the 33,700 transit workers will pay a portion of their health insurance premiums.

But if there is a real winner in the walkout that hobbled the city at the height of the holiday season, it is the union members who went out on strike, and the man who led them.

"It's a good contract for the union in that it does keep in place, for the most part, benefits that are extremely favorable to them," said Steven Malanga, a senior fellow with the Manhattan Institute, a conservative research organization, who called last week for firing the strikers. "For them, you can say this is a great deal."

When Mr. Toussaint appeared before television cameras at 11 p.m. on Tuesday to announce the settlement, he commented little except to read an impressive list of new worker-friendly provisions: raises averaging 3.5 percent a year, the creation of paid maternity leave, a far better health plan for retirees, a much-improved disability plan, the adoption of Martin Luther King's Birthday as a paid holiday, and increased "assault pay" for bus drivers and train operators who are attacked by passengers.

Then Mr. Toussaint announced a big surprise: Some 22,000 workers will each receive thousands of dollars in reimbursements for what are considered excess pension contributions; for several years, these workers paid more toward their pensions than other workers. For those workers, that money will easily offset the fines of slightly more than $1,000 that most of them face for taking part in the illegal strike. The union itself could still face a $3 million fine that a judge ordered because of the 60-hour strike.


All this is not to say that the transportation authority did not achieve some of its major goals. By getting the union, Local 100 of the Transport Workers Union, to agree to have subway and bus workers pay 1.5 percent of their wages toward health premiums, the authority took an important step to rein in soaring benefit costs. That provision is expected to save the authority $32 million a year. Not only that, the union agreed that its workers' contribution toward their health premiums might increase if the authority's health costs continued to climb.

"It's a very good deal," said John Paul Patafio, a bus driver in Brooklyn. "We went in with them on the offensive on pensions, and we came out of it with pension reimbursements. It's a total reversal."


I'll have a lot more to say about the reaction to the strike, because it far outweighs the election in terms of importance to the city's future,. but let's make one thing clear, New York has changed.

If I ran one of the city's media organs, I'd seriously reconsider how I covered the news. Because the people I think I write for, I no longer do.

Roger Toussaint not only got a great deal for his members, but he faced down the city's media without so much as breaking a sweat. The Daily News and Post so miscovered the strike as to be rendered useless to the majority of New Yorkers. They kept looking for a groundswell of anger, when instead, there was a ground swell of support for the union among their public service and priovate industry peers. Did they think Con Ed and Verizon workers were going to
turn on their public sector union brothers and sisters?

It was an amazing miscalculation which walked Bloomberg into a fatal mistake. Calling the union members thugs was an amazing error of judgment, one, the well-connected mayor should have avoided.

What many people, including Jen, didn't understand, was the provenance of that word in black New York culture. First, in the tabs, it's only used to describe two groups of people, mafia goons and black and latino criminals. But that isn't why it blew up on Bloomberg.

It harks back to the the Central Park Jogger case where five teenagers were framed for the rape of a Wall Street banker. Donald Trump took out a full-page ad ranting about how these "thugs" needed to be punished.

When it turned out that all five had been framed, despite the open disbelief of the tabs. Michael Daly, the News lead columnist, and a Yalie, went so far as to try to link the innoncent boys, all of whom had unjustly served seven years in prison, to the crime despite DNA evidence to the contrary.

Then, Bloomberg violated the other key rule of New York life. You do not attack working people as criminals. If they work every day, you don't slander them like that.

But once those words flew from his mouth, it was the final card Toussaint needed in outplaying the MTA. Because that solidified minority support for his union. One poll showed 61 percent of black New Yorkers and 44 percent of Latinos supported the strike, along with 38 percent of whites.

Because that threw race on the table in a way Bloomberg didn't expect. But sure found out about when City Hall was deluged with calls from his black supporters.

What Bloomberg and many white New Yorkers forget is that the heart of the city's revival is not the Eurotrash and hipsters of Billyburg, but the working class and middle class union workers of the city's minorities. It is the TWU members and Con Ed and Verizon workers who not only keep this city running, but who also invest in the city's neighborhoods, demand better schools and send their kids to the city's colleges. They make New York work, where so many other cities failed. Unlike Washington DC, they didn't flee to the suburbs, leaving behind only the poor. Even the city's housing projects have large numbers of working people.

So to have the mayor insult the people who helped return him to office, reeked both of arrogance and racial insensitivity on a grand scale.

The fact was that the TWU and specifically, Roger Toussaint, had some pretty large reservoirs of good will going into this. The union had repeatedly asked for safety training, stood with riders on fair increases and opposed the land giveaway for stadiums. Which may not have mattered to some footsore white progressives, who demanded the "overpaid workers" be fired, but it mattered to many other New Yorkers.

But many people, like the racists at the Manhattan Institute, need to consider something: they are no longer relevant. They might have had a hearing in Giuliani's bitterly divided New York, but no future mayor can afford to take them seriously. Why? Because the majority of New Yorkers will not tolerate it.

Steven Malanga proved himself to be an idiot without recompense. Fire the workers? And replace these highly skilled and technically adept workers with whom? What he wanted to say was punish the colored for getting out of line, but political reality has changed. Minorities are the majority in New York, and his advice was suicidal.

The MTA caved on every issue, and offset the fines, something the mayor and governor swore would not happen, with pension payments, because they didn't have the public support and they knew it. Who knew what would happen in Albany with a longer strike? Would the Assembly start an investigation? Who knew? But the MTA calcuated on an angry public and they got one, but angry at them, not the union.

Bloomberg and Pataki not only lost, but look small and petty in the process.

The line of candidates to get the support of the TWU should be long in 2006.

posted by Steve @ 10:29:00 AM

10:29:00 AM

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The hazards of elections

For nearly a decade
a brutal war was waged
in Algeria

While Bush has told people that elections may limit the war in Iraq, history proves otherwise.


Politics were reinvigorated in 1989 under the new laws. Newspapers became the liveliest and freest in the Arab world, while political parties of nearly every stripe vied for members and a voice. In February 1989, Abbassi Madani and Ali Belhadj founded the Islamic Salvation Front (Front Islamique du Salut-- FIS). Although the constitution prohibited religious parties, the FIS came to play a significant role in Algerian politics. It handily defeated the FLN in local and provincial elections held in June 1990, in part because most secular parties boycotted the elections. The FLN's response was to adopt a new electoral law that openly aided the FLN. The FIS, in turn, called a general strike, organized demonstrations, and occupied public places. Bendjedid declared martial law on June 5, 1991, but he also asked his minister of foreign affairs, Sid Ahmed Ghozali, to form a new government of national reconciliation. Although the FIS seemed satisfied with Ghozali's appointment and his attempts to clean up the electoral law, it continued to protest, leading the army to arrest Belhadj, Madani, and hundreds of others. The state of emergency ended in September.

Algeria's leaders were stunned in December 1991 when FIS candidates won absolute majorities in 188 of 430 electoral districts, far ahead of the FLN's fifteen seats. Some members of Bendjedid's cabinet, fearing a complete FIS takeover, forced the president to dissolve parliament and to resign on January 11, 1992. Leaders of the takeover included Ghozali, and generals Khaled Nezzar (minister of defense) and Larbi Belkheir (minister of interior). After they declared the elections void, the takeover leaders and Mohamed Boudiaf formed the High Council of State to rule the country. The FIS, as well as the FLN, clamored for a return of the electoral process, but police and troops countered with massive arrests. In February 1992, violent demonstrations broke out in many cities, and on February 9 the government declared a one-year state of emergency and the next month banned the FIS.

The end of FLN rule over Algeria opened a period of uncertain transition. Widespread discontent with the party stemmed from many roots. People were frustrated and angry because they had no voice in their own affairs, had few or no prospects for employment, and had a deteriorating standard of living. In addition, the poor and the middle class grew outraged over the privileges enjoyed by party members, and many Algerians became alienated by what they felt was the unwelcome encroachment of secular, or Western, values. Algeria's brief democratic interlude unleashed these pent-up feelings, and, as in earlier periods of the country's history, the language of Islam served many as the preferred medium of social and political protest

posted by Steve @ 1:12:00 AM

1:12:00 AM

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The General Strikes Again

While some serve

This comes from the General
Henry Hager
Office of the Secretary
U.S. Department of Commerce

Dear Mr. Hager,

From what I've read, you're a fine young man, the kind of young man that our nation's children should look to as a role model. Your life hasn't been easy. With all the road blocks erected by political correctness and affirmative action programs, it's become very difficult for a white, upper class, conservative Christian man like yourself to make your mark on the world. A look at all of the trials through which you've suffered is proof of that, yet you've prevailed.

I can't imagine how humiliating it must have been for you, a tobacco heir and the son of a lieutenant governor, to, upon graduation from college, be forced to first work as a White House intern before being given the job of representing the Secretary of Commerce at important inter-agency meetings. It's almost like class doesn't matter anymore.

Still, you took it all in stride and performed your lowly White House duties with dignity. Now you're in a position to do even greater things, and I'm not only referring to your vigilant guardianship of the first daughter's virginity. I believe that there is something even more important that you can do for your country--you can serve it as a military officer in Iraq.

Certainly, as a true, patriotic conservative and a man whose loyalty to Our Leader is without question--after all He trusts you with His greatest treasure, Jenna's chastity--you understand the importance of our struggle in Iraq. You may also be aware that our military is suffering from a recruitment crisis. They need bright, educated men like yourself.

Your country is calling you. Hear its pleas and volunteer for military duty in Iraq.

Heterosexually yours,

Gen. JC Christian, patriot

posted by Steve @ 1:00:00 AM

1:00:00 AM

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New Orleans

Dozens charged over Katrina fraud

Forty-nine people are facing criminal charges over their involvement in a scheme to steal Red Cross funds meant for the victims of Hurricane Katrina.

Many of those indicted worked at a Red Cross call centre in California and are accused of helping family and friends make false claims for relief money.

The FBI was brought in to investigate after the Red Cross noticed an unusual number of payments made in the area.

An estimated $500,000 (£291,000) was stolen through the scheme.

The US Justice Department says the number of people charged could rise.

None of those indicted worked directly for the American Red Cross, officials said, but had been employed by subcontractors to staff the call centres.

posted by Steve @ 12:53:00 AM

12:53:00 AM

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Meet your new Turkish overlord

The US wanted them to "help"
with the occupation

This was posted in comments and is too good to stay there

Finally someone is talking Turkey!

This is the biggest overlooked issue of the war. I visited Turkey over the summer and had dozens of conversations with Turkish citizens, including three Kurds.

Amazingly, the opinions I heard about Kurdistan were completely unanimous, even from the Kurds.

First, when I asked what they thought Turkey would do if a Kurdish state were created.
Answer: Turkey would invade it immediately. I then asked what would happen if the US backed the Kurds. Answer: Then we would fight the Americans and it would be a very, very brutal war.

I asked why the issue was so important. Answer: A Kurdistan would destabilize the Kurdish portion of Turkey, which would jeopardize Turkey's control over the headwaters of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers.

They added that water is Turkey's most valuable resource. One even said: "Iraq has oil, but we have water. The oil will run out, but the water will not. Besides, you can't drink oil, anyway."

I asked about how a Turkish invasion would affect their EU bid. Answer: Who cares? They will never let us join, anyway. I asked about how an invasion would affect relations with the US.

Answer: You Americans are our friends and greatest ally, but we cannot sacrifice our country for that friendship. I never asked anyone about the possibility of losing American arms sales, but one of the Kurds I talked offers some inight on this. He was a fighter pilot in the Turkish Air Force. He flew a fighter plane that was made in China. Given their multiple sources for military equipment, I doubt that they would be concerned about losing their American source.

Unfortunately, I did not talk to any government officials, but the unimous consent of the people I talked to leads me to believe that the government will reflect their views, if only more diplomatically. Turkey is a democracy, after all. All I can say, is that the views of the Turkish people were quite chilling and do not bode well for the future of the region.

posted by Steve @ 12:41:00 AM

12:41:00 AM

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Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Say what?

This is from Driftglass

Punk Fiction

Inspired by actual events, this noir thriller tells the story of what happens when a mob of fascists, bigots and Christopaths decide that the Constitution is for other people and let a couple of aging, punkass hit-men run the country...

Say "We need a warrant" again!

C'mon, say "We need a warrant" again!

We dare ya.

We double dare ya, motherfucker!

Say "We need a warrant" one more goddamn time!

posted by Steve @ 10:47:00 PM

10:47:00 PM

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Another guaranteed loser

Is he kidding? Too many hits to the head

Former Charger enters 50th District field

SOLANA BEACH ---- A former National Football League defensive back and punt returner has entered the GOP sweepstakes to fill out the unexpired term of Randy "Duke" Cunningham.

Scott Turner, 33, a political neophyte, made his announcement Tuesday from a makeshift lectern placed on the 50-yard line at Santa Fe Christian School's Beauchamp Stadium.

Flanked by his wife, Robin, Turner said he's in the 50th Congressional District race despite naysayers who, he said, have told him he needs a Hail Mary-type completion to overcome his better-financed and more experienced rivals.

"Many have already tried to dissuade me from one, running for Congress, and two, entering this particular race which is filled with professional politicians and other candidates," Turner said. "They state that I don't have a chance. But through perseverance, hard work, faith in God and determination, I have been able to succeed in many areas of my life, and in my own personal dictionary I have crossed out the word 'impossible.' "

Turner's political resume is bare except for a 2004 volunteer internship in the district and Capitol Hill offices of U.S. Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-El Cajon, an experience the Dallas native said taught him the basics of congressional service.

He cited a strong defense, secure borders and education as his three most important concerns, adding he would restore integrity to a seat now tarnished by Cunningham's Nov. 28 guilty pleas to bribery and tax evasion.


Turner made no mention of ethnicity in his announcement, instead talking of his humble upbringing in Texas and what he said was his lifelong ability to overcome adversity. He cited his ability to play professional football from 1995 through 2004 despite lacking NFL size. He played for the San Diego Chargers from 1998 through the 2002 season.

"The same attributes that allowed me to be successful on the fields of play are the ones that I will take with me to be not just a successful, but a wonderful representative of the people of the 50th District of California," he said.

Oceanside political consultant Jack Orr said Tuesday that he had never heard of Turner and considers his candidacy a long shot at best.

"I think it's curious more than anything else," Orr said.

Over the last five years, Turner has spent the off-season as a motivational speaker and as a mentor along with his wife for other couples at Morning Star Christian Church in San Diego.

Look, he may think being a football player open doors for you, but the reality, the California GOP is one of the most racist in the country, and that's saying something. He can talk about Jesus all day long, but the fact is they are not going to send a black man to Congress.

Running as a Republican will doom him to almost no black support and minimal white support.

They may talk him up, but once again, they won't vote for him.

Also note he's not running in a black district with this nonsense. He'd lose quicker than a tackle.

posted by Steve @ 7:02:00 PM

7:02:00 PM

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My favorite moments from 2005

I hate those fuckers

Teacher Denies Threatening Students

Thursday, December 29, 2005 8:49 a.m. ET
By DAVID DISHNEAU Associated Press Writer

THURMONT, Md. (AP) -- A middle school teacher charged with stalking students and threatening to blow up her school said the real perpetrator may be someone who was jealous of the attention showered on a Little League All-Star team.

Michelle L. Dohm, 40, is accused of writing a series of notes in the fall, including one that read, "Tick-tock, tick-tock, is it a bomb or is it a clock?"

The messages targeted four seventh-grade boys who were members of the Thurmont team that won the 2005 state Little League championship, police said. One note referred to two players' jersey numbers.

Dohm said emotions ran high in the town of 6,000 as players were selected for the All-Star team

posted by Steve @ 6:57:00 PM

6:57:00 PM

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Sounds like Slip Kid to me

A united Iraq? No, a united Kurdistan

Kurds preparing takeover; U.S. exit strategy at risk
The U.S. plan for leaving Iraq is in trouble, with more than 10,000 Kurds in the Iraqi army prepared to seize control of northern Iraq for an independent state.
Knight Ridder News Service

KIRKUK, Iraq - Kurdish leaders have inserted more than 10,000 of their militia members into Iraqi army divisions in northern Iraq to lay the groundwork to swarm south, seize the oil-rich city of Kirkuk and possibly half of Mosul, Iraq's third-largest city, and secure the borders of an independent Kurdistan.

Five days of interviews with Kurdish leaders and troops in the region suggest that U.S. plans to bring unity to Iraq before withdrawing American troops by training and equipping a national army aren't gaining traction. Instead, some troops who are formally under U.S. and Iraqi national command are preparing to protect territory and ethnic and religious interests in the event of Iraq's fragmentation, which many of them think is inevitable.

The soldiers said that while they wore Iraqi army uniforms they still considered themselves members of the Peshmerga -- the Kurdish militia -- and were awaiting orders from Kurdish leaders to break ranks. Many said they wouldn't hesitate to kill their Iraqi army comrades, especially Arabs, if a fight for an independent Kurdistan erupted.

''It doesn't matter if we have to fight the Arabs in our own battalion,'' said Gabriel Mohammed, a Kurdish soldier in the Iraqi army who was escorting a Knight Ridder reporter through Kirkuk. ``Kirkuk will be ours.''


The Kurds have readied their troops not only because they've long yearned to establish an independent state but also because their leaders expect Iraq to disintegrate, senior leaders in the Peshmerga -- literally, ''those who face death'' -- told Knight Ridder. The Kurds are mostly secular Sunni Muslims, and are ethnically distinct from Arabs.

Their strategy mirrors that of Shiite Muslim parties in southern Iraq, which have stocked Iraqi army and police units with members of their own militias and have maintained a separate militia presence throughout Iraq's central and southern provinces. The militias now are illegal under Iraqi law but operate openly in many areas. Peshmerga leaders said in interviews that they expected the Shiites to create a semi-autonomous and then independent state in the south as they would do in the north.


A U.S. military officer in Baghdad with knowledge of Iraqi army operations said he was frustrated to hear of the Iraqi soldiers' comments but that he had seen no reports suggesting that they had acted improperly in the field.

''There's talk and there's acts, and their actions are that they follow the orders of the Iraqi chain of command and they secure their sectors well,'' said the officer, who refused to be identified because he's not authorized to speak on the subject

American military officials have said they're trying to get a broader mix of sects in the Iraqi units.

However, Col. Talib Naji, a Kurd serving in the Iraqi army on the edge of Kirkuk, said he'd resist any attempts to dilute the Kurdish presence in his brigade.

''The Ministry of Defense recently sent me 150 Arab soldiers from the south,'' Naji said. ``After two weeks of service, we sent them away. We did not accept them. We will not let them carry through with their plans to bring more Arab soldiers here.''

One key to the Kurds' plan for independence is securing control of Kirkuk, the seat of a province that holds some of Iraq's largest oil fields. Should the Kurds push for independence, Kirkuk and its oil would be a key economic engine.

The city's Kurdish population was driven out by former Sunni Arab dictator Saddam Hussein, whose ''Arabization'' program paid thousands of Arab families to move there and replace recently deported or murdered Kurds.

''Kirkuk is Kurdistan; it does not belong to the Arabs,'' Hamid Afandi, the minister of Peshmerga for the Kurdistan Democratic Party, one of two major Kurdish groups, said in an interview at his office in the Kurdish city of Irbil.

``If we can resolve this by talking, fine, but if not, then we will resolve it by fighting.''


''We will do our best diplomatically, and if that fails we will use force'' to secure borders for an independent Kurdistan, Mustafir said.

``The government in Baghdad will be too weak to use force against the will of the Kurdish people.''
Why is the formation of Kurdistan a probem?

Take a look at this map:

See, most of Kurdistan lies in....Turkey, and a fair portion in Iran.

So, the Turks, who burnt down 4,000 Kurdish villages and raped and slaughtered their way across southeast Turkey, might see the formation of a Kurdish state as a threat. And all those "compliant" Shia, especially Moqtada Sadr, might also object to Kurdistan. The Shia don't need to form a seperate state to run Iraq.

The Kurds are trying to bribe the Turks into acceptance with fat contracts, but Ankara will kill for territorial integrity and so will Sadr, who does not want to run half an Iraq. Nor will Turkey let the Turkomen be screwed. As far as Mosul goes, is the US willing to kill Kurds to prevent a wider civil war.

Of course, I would only point out that the Iraqi Army is merely a shell for militias. Why do Americans assume that Iraqis will put their national ambitions on hold because we say so?

They are betting long odds that the US won't stab them in the back like they did in 1974. Te tolerance the Kurds now receive is not unrestricted. If they move towards Mosul, hard choices will have to be made.

posted by Steve @ 11:40:00 AM

11:40:00 AM

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Top ten Iraq myths

Democracy is on the march in Iraq

Juan Cole posted this up:

Top Ten Myths about Iraq in 2005

Iraq has unfortunately become a football in the rough and ready, two-party American political arena, generating large numbers of sound bites and so much spin you could clothe all of China in the resulting threads.

Here are what I think are the top ten myths about Iraq, that one sees in print or on television in the United States.

1. The guerrilla war is being waged only in four provinces. This canard is trotted out by everyone from think tank flacks to US generals, and it is shameful. Iraq has 18 provinces, but some of them are lightly populated. The most populous province is Baghdad, which has some 6 million residents, or nearly one-fourth of the entire population of the country. It also contains the capital. It is one of the four being mentioned!. Another of the four, Ninevah province, has a population of some 1.8 million and contains Mosul, a city of over a million and the country's third largest! It is not clear what other two provinces are being referred to, but they are probably Salahuddin and Anbar provinces, other big centers of guerrilla activity, bringing the total for the "only four provinces" to something like 10 million of Iraq's 26 million people.

But the "four provinces" allegation is misleading on another level. It is simply false. Guerrilla attacks occur routinely beyong the confines of Anbar, Salahuddin, Ninevah and Baghdad. Diyala province is a big center of the guerrilla movement and has witnessed thousands of deaths in the ongoing unconventional war. Babil province just south of Baghdad is a major center of back alley warfare between Sunnis and Shiites and attacks on Coalition troops. Attacks, assassinations and bombings are routine in Kirkuk province in the north, a volatile mixture of Kurds, Turkmen and Arabs engaged in a subterranean battle for dominance of the area's oil fields. So that is 7 provinces, and certainly half the population of the country lives in these 7, which are daily affected by the ongoing violence. It is true that violence is rare in the 3 northern provinces of the Kurdistan confederacy. And the Shiite south is much less violent than the 7 provinces of the center-north, on a good day. But some of this calm in the south is an illusion deriving from poor on the ground reporting. It appears to be the case that British troops are engaged in an ongoing struggle with guerrilla forces of the Marsh Arabs in Maysan Province. Even calm is not always a good sign. The southern port city of Basra appears to come by its via a reign of terror by Shiite religious militias.

2. Iraqi Sunnis voting in the December 15 election is a sign that they are being drawn into the political process and might give up the armed insurgency So far Iraqi Sunni parties are rejecting the outcome of the election and threatening to boycott parliament. Some 20,000 of them demonstrated all over the center-north last Friday against what they saw as fraudulent elections. So, they haven't been drawn into the political process in any meaningful sense. And even if they were, it would not prevent them from pursuing a two-track policy of both political representation and guerrilla war. The two-track approach is common among insurgencies, from Northern Ireland's IRA to Palestine's Hamas.

3. The guerrillas are winning the war against US forces. The guerrillas are really no more than mosquitos to US forces. The casualties they have inflicted on the US military, of over 2000 dead and some 15,000 wounded, are deeply regrettable and no one should make light of them. But this level of insurgency could never defeat the US military in the field.

4. Iraqis are grateful for the US presence and want US forces there to help them build their country. Opinion polls show that between 66% and 80% of Iraqis want the US out of Iraq on a short timetable. Already in the last parliament, some 120 parliamentarians out of 275 supported a resolution demanding a timetable for US withdrawal, and that sentiment will be much stronger in the newly elected parliament.

5. Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani, born in Iran in 1930, is close to the Iranian regime in Tehran Sistani, the spiritual leader of Iraq's majority Shiite community, is an almost lifetime expatriate. He came to Iraq late in 1951, and is far more Iraqi than Arnold Schwarzenegger is Californian. Sistani was a disciple of Grand Ayatollah Burujirdi in Iran, who argued against clerical involvement in day to day politics. Sistani rejects Khomeinism, and would be in jail if he were living in Iran, as a result. He has been implicitly critical of Iran's poor human rights record, and has himself spoken eloquently in favor of democracy and pluralism. Ma'd Fayyad reported in Al-Sharq al-Awsat in August of 2004 that when Sistani had heart problems, an Iranian representative in Najaf visited him. He offered Sistani the best health care Tehran hospitals could provide, and asked if he could do anything for the grand ayatollah. Sistani is said to have responded that what Iran could do for Iraq was to avoid intervening in its internal affairs. And then Sistani flew off to London for his operation, an obvious slap in the face to Iran's Supreme Jurisprudent Ali Khamenei.

6. There is a silent majority of middle class, secular-minded Iraqis who reject religious fundamentalism. Two major elections have been held. For all their flaws (lack of security, anonymity of most candidates, constraints on campaigning), they certainly are weather vanes of the political mood of most of the country. While the Kurdistan Alliance is largely secular, the Arab Iraqis have turned decisively toward religious fundamentalist parties. The United Iraqi Alliance (Shiite fundamentalists) and the Iraqi Accord Front (Sunni fundamentalists) are the big winners of the most recent election. Iyad Allawi's secular Iraqiya list got only 14.5 percent of the seats on Jan. 30, and will shrink to half that, most likely, in this most recent election. A clear majority of Iraqis, and the vast majority of the Arab Iraqis, are constructing new, fluid political identities that depend heavily on religious and ethnic sub-nationalisms.

7. The new Iraqi constitution is a victory for Western, liberal values in the Middle East. The constitution made Islam the religion of state. It stipulates that the civil parliament may pass no legislation that contradicts the established laws of Islam. It looks forward to clerics serving on court benches. It allows individuals to opt out of secular, civil personal status laws (for marriage, divorce, alimony, inheritance) and to choose relgious canon law instead. Islamic law gives girls, e.g., only half the amount of inheritance received by their brothers. Instead of a federal government, the constitution establishes a loose supervisory role for Baghdad and devolves most powers, including claims on future oil finds, on provinces and provincial confederacies, such that it is difficult to see how the country will be able to hold together.

8. Iraq is already in a civil war, so it does not matter if the US simply withdraws precipitately, since the situation is as bad as it can get. No, it isn't. During the course of the guerrilla war, the daily number of dead has fluctuated, between about 20 and about 60. But in a real civil war, it could easily be 10 times that. Some estimates of the number of Afghans killed during their long set of civil wars put the number at 2.5 million, along with 5 million displaced abroad and more millions displaced internally. Iraq is Malibu Beach compared to Afghanistan in its darkest hours. The US has a responsibility to get out of Iraq responsibly and to not allow it to fall into that kind of genocidal civil conflict.

9. The US can buy off the Iraqis now supporting guerrilla action against US troops. US military and civilian officials in Iraq have on numerous occasions alleged in the press or privately to me that a vast infusion of billions of dollars from the US would dampen down the guerrilla insurgency. In fact, it seems clear that far more Sunni Arabs support the guerrilla movement today than supported it in September of 2004, and more supported it in September of 2004 than had in September of 2003. AP reports that the US has spent $100 million on reconstruction projects in Diyala Province. These community development and infrastructural improvements, often carried out by US troops in conditions of danger, are most praiseworthy. But Diyala is a mess politically and a major center of guerrilla activity (see below), which simply could not be pursued on this scale without substantial local popular support. The Sunni Arab parties, which demand US withdrawal and reject the results of the Dec. 15 elections, carried the province, winning 6 seats.

The guerrillas are to some important extent driven by local nationalism and rejection of foreign occupation, as well as resentment at the marginalization of the Sunni Arab community in the new Iraq. They have a keen sense of national honor, and there is no evidence that they can be bribed into laying down their arms, or that the general populace can be bribed on any significant scale into turning the guerrillas in to the US. Attributing motives of honor to one's own side and crass economic interests to one's opponent is a common ploy of political propaganda, but we should be careful about believing our own spin.

Even a simple economic calculation would favor the guerrillas fighting on, however. If they could get back in control of Iraq through a coup, they'd have $50 billion a year in oil revenues to play with. The total US reconstruction aid promised to Iraq is only $18 billion, and much of that will be spent on security-- i.e. it won't benefit most Iraqis.

10. The Bush administration wanted free elections in Iraq. This allegation is simply not true, as I and others pointed out last January. I said then, and it is still true:

' Moreover, as Swopa rightly reminds us all, the Bush administration opposed one-person, one-vote elections of this sort. First they were going to turn Iraq over to Chalabi within six months. Then Bremer was going to be MacArthur in Baghdad for years. Then on November 15, 2003, Bremer announced a plan to have council-based elections in May of 2004. The US and the UK had somehow massaged into being provincial and municipal governing councils, the members of which were pro-American. Bremer was going to restrict the electorate to this small, elite group.

Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani immediately gave a fatwa denouncing this plan and demanding free elections mandated by a UN Security Council resolution. Bush was reportedly "extremely offended" at these two demands and opposed Sistani. Bremer got his appointed Interim Governing Council to go along in fighting Sistani. Sistani then brought thousands of protesters into the streets in January of 2004, demanding free elections. Soon thereafter, Bush caved and gave the ayatollah everything he demanded. Except that he was apparently afraid that open, non-manipulated elections in Iraq might become a factor in the US presidential campaign, so he got the elections postponed to January 2005. This enormous delay allowed the country to fall into much worse chaos, and Sistani is still bitter that the Americans didn't hold the elections last May. The US objected that they couldn't use UN food ration cards for registration, as Sistani suggested. But in the end that is exactly what they did. '

Iraq's situation is extremely complex. It is not a black and white poster for an American political party. Good things and bad things are happening there. The American public cannot help make good policy, however, unless the myths are first dispelled.
Winning in the military context doesn't mean defeating main force US forces in combat. It simply means that the guerrillas can move freely, the US can't, and there is a frightening lack of security. Remember, the US blew away most of the NVA when they caught them and broke the back of the VC.

Kurdistan is proof, until the ruling parties turn on each other, that stability is possible. Involvement of the Shia majority may well lead to overall stablity. And civil war can be avoided.

I think the threat of Iraq turning into a terrorist base, minus the US, is limited. Zarqawi's life expectancy is weeks once we leave. No Iraqi goernment can tolerate him blowing shit up for long.

But the overarching fact is that the guerrillas exist in a wider base of support than the US admits and that isn't going to change any time soon.

posted by Steve @ 10:21:00 AM

10:21:00 AM

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