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Monday, January 22, 2007

No Drama Queen Bullshit

Unlike some bloggers, who feel oppressed by the act of writing and need to dramatically quit every few months, the simple fact is that we're moving our blog to a new domain, .


Because the new blogger works better. The old site will be frozen in place as of 5:30 PM January 21, 2007. No more posts or comments will be responded to on this site, except for the previous one. is now up and running and is the News Blog's new home.

posted by Steve @ 5:18:00 PM

5:18:00 PM

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The End of the News Blog

The Doors - The End - live

The current News Blog is shutting down effective immidiately. The following post will explain why

posted by Steve @ 5:11:00 PM

5:11:00 PM

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So who did this?

REUTERS/Mahmoud Raouf Mahmoud (IRAQ)

Disguises Used in Attack on Troops
Gunmen Infiltrated Secured Iraqi Site, Killing 5 Americans

By Ernesto Londoño
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, January 22, 2007; Page A01

BAGHDAD, Jan. 21 -- The armored sport-utility vehicles whisked into a government compound in the city of Karbala with speed and urgency, the way most Americans and foreign dignitaries travel along Iraq's treacherous roads these days.

Iraqi guards at checkpoints waved them through Saturday afternoon because the men wore what appeared to be legitimate U.S. military uniforms and badges, and drove cars commonly used by foreigners, the provincial governor said.

Once inside, however, the men unleashed one of the deadliest and most brazen attacks on U.S. forces in a secure area. Five American service members were killed in a hail of grenades and gunfire in a breach of security that Iraqi officials called unprecedented.

The attack, which lasted roughly 20 minutes, came on a day when the United States lost at least 20 other troops, including a dozen in a helicopter crash, making it the third most lethal day for American forces in Iraq.

Meanwhile, the military announced the arrival of 3,200 troops of the 82nd Airborne Division's 2nd Brigade Combat Team, the first unit to reach Baghdad as part of a 21,500-troop increase that the Bush administration hopes will restore order in the violent capital.

"Soldiers from the 82nd come to us ready to engage in a wide variety of operations in support of the Iraqi Baghdad Security Plan," Lt. Gen. Raymond T. Odierno, the second-ranking U.S. commander in Iraq, said in a statement. "The brigade adds operational flexibility that will assist in securing the population."

U.S. military officials said Sunday that they could not discuss the attack in Karbala in detail because it remained under investigation. But they said the version of events provided by the governor's office was consistent with their preliminary findings.

After arriving at the Provincial Joint Coordination Center in Karbala, 60 miles southwest of Baghdad, the attackers detonated sound bombs, Iraqi officials said. "They wanted to create a panic situation," said an aide to Karbala Gov. Akeel al-Khazaali, who described the events with the governor's permission but on condition of anonymity because he fears reprisals.

The men then stormed into a room where Americans and Iraqis were making plans to ensure the safety of thousands of people expected to visit the holy city for an upcoming holiday.

"They didn't target anyone but the American soldiers," the governor's aide said.

After the attack, the assailants returned to their vehicles and drove away. It was unclear how many people participated, and the men's identities and motive remained unclear, but the attack was particularly striking because of the resources and sophistication involved, Iraqi officials said.

So who sent this message? AQ? The Mahdi Army? the Revolutionary Guards? Someone who needs to understand that the US is vunerable.

The uniforms and money spent indicates someone with time to spare. I would hope dunderhead Odierno would realize that all hell could follow at the choosing of some party.

Because if the Mahdi Army is this slick, God help our troops.

posted by Steve @ 3:09:00 PM

3:09:00 PM

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Shut yer festerin' gob

I'd rather take advice from a cat before I would
take if from Frank Luntz

Frank Luntz
I am not in the habit of offering partisan linguistic advice to Democrats. But in the genuine spirit of bipartisanship - seriously - I thought this is the perfect time to convey a simple point to the still-euphoric faces of Democrat activists ...

Don't twist the knife.

Let's briefly sketch the political landscape in America today.
Republicans are still reeling quite deservedly from the political thumping they took in the November election.

The polls, pretty bad then, have gotten even worse. One-by-one, key Republicans on the Hill are parting ways with the President over the 'surge' and his 'new strategy' in Iraq. And to top it all off, a Washington Post-ABC News poll taken immediately after the President's speech showed that a mere 40% of Americans believe the war is worth fighting, up just four points from before the speech.

An emerging new majority has spoken, and it is not happy with the old politics.

The Republicans are a party in peril, but all is not milk and cookies in Democrat land. The Democrats - flush with majority status - have a crucial choice right now. They can use their newly-won mandate to settle some old scores...or they can get responsibly and move ahead. They would be wise to opt for the latter.

Democracy is at its best when its practioners use language to unite and explain rather than divide and attack. The blogs from the Left and the Right be damned, the real center of America is upset but not bitter, anxious but not fearful, restless but not unforgiving.

For two years the Republican Party was adrift in meaningless messaging to support meaningless reform - and have communicated absolutely nothing for the past three months. By comparison, the Democrat majority that took Congress in November was remarkably disciplined and effective in promoting change, reform, and accountability in the weeks following their historic election.

But alas, power does strange things to Democrats: put a gavel in their hands and a camera in their face and they revert to the name-calling that kept them from the majority for a dozen long years. Sure, it's easy to land rhetorical jabs on a staggering opponent - but that doesn't make it effective. The message from the electorate in November was 'work together and compromise.' You need only look at the incumbent governor of California who won a lopsided landslide in an otherwise Democratic sweep. Cooperation works. Compromise wins. But over-heated rhetoric says to the world that you are no different - and no better - than what you replaced.


Ignore this stupid motherfucker

The GOP are the largest bunch of whining children I have ever seen.

George Bush says vote Republican or die and now, when the Dems have real power, he wants to hand out lectures on not twisitng knives?

Where was he when Tom Delay was around. Sucking his balls.

The GOP likes compromise when they are the minority. When they're the majority, they can bully and lie like it's free.

posted by Steve @ 10:22:00 AM

10:22:00 AM

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Too close for comfort

Jesse Jane plans cosmetic surgery to hide
imperfections newly visible.

In Raw World of Sex Movies, High Definition Could Be a View Too Real
Digital Playground

Published: January 22, 2007

SAN FRANCISCO, Jan. 21 — The XXX industry has gotten too graphic, even for its own tastes.

Stormy Daniels says she isn’t sure “why anyone would want to see their porn” in high definition because it makes the picture so crisp and clear.

Pornography has long helped drive the adoption of new technology, from the printing press to the videocassette. Now pornographic movie studios are staying ahead of the curve by releasing high-definition DVDs.

They have discovered that the technology is sometimes not so sexy. The high-definition format is accentuating imperfections in the actors — from a little extra cellulite on a leg to wrinkles around the eyes.

Hollywood is dealing with similar problems, but they are more pronounced for pornographers, who rely on close-ups and who, because of their quick adoption of the new format, are facing the issue more immediately than mainstream entertainment companies.

Producers are taking steps to hide the imperfections. Some shots are lit differently, while some actors simply are not shot at certain angles, or are getting cosmetic surgery, or seeking expert grooming.

“The biggest problem is razor burn,” said Stormy Daniels, an actress, writer and director.

Ms. Daniels is also a skeptic. “I’m not 100 percent sure why anyone would want to see their porn in HD,” she said.

The technology’s advocates counter that high definition, by making things clearer and crisper, lets viewers feel as close to the action as possible.

“It puts you in the room,” said the director known as Robby D., whose films include “Sexual Freak.”

The pornographers’ progress with HD may also be somewhat slowed by Sony, one of the main backers of the Blu-ray high-definition disc format. Sony said last week that, in keeping with a longstanding policy, it would not mass-produce pornographic videos on behalf of the movie makers.

The decision has forced pornographers to use the competing HD-DVD format or, in some cases, to find companies other than Sony that can manufacture copies of Blu-ray movies.

The movie makers assert that it is shortsighted of Sony to snub them, given how pornography helps technologies spread.

“When you’re introducing a new format, it would seem like the adult guys can help,” said Steven Hirsch, co-chief executive officer of Vivid Entertainment Group, a big player in the industry. Mr. Hirsch added that high definition, regardless of format, “is the future.”

Despite the challenges, pornographers — who distributed some 7,000 new movies on DVD last year and sold discs worth $3.6 billion in the United States — are rapidly moving to high-definition.

One major company, Digital Playground, plans to release its first four HD-DVD titles this month, and plans four new ones each month. In March, Vivid plans to release “Debbie Does Dallas ... Again,” its first feature for both HD-DVD and Blu-ray.

posted by Steve @ 9:08:00 AM

9:08:00 AM

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Racist pig speaks

Limbaugh: Classless Players Look Like Bloods and Crips

In 2003, Rush Limbaugh resigned from ESPN after creating a controversy with his comments that Donovan McNabb got too much credit because, he said, "The media has been very desirous that a black quarterback do well.'' Limbaugh no longer works as an NFL commentator, but his latest comments about football are sure to get more scrutiny.

Limbaugh's web site includes the following two statements that he made on his Friday show:

"There is a cultural problem in the NFL that has resulted in a total lack of class on the part of professional players. I love the game of football, but after every sack players are acting like they've won the Super Bowl; they're prancing around with these idiotic dances."

"Look, let me put it to you this way: the NFL all too often looks like a game between the Bloods and the Crips without any weapons. There, I said it."

Limbaugh has a fair, legitimate point with his first statement. Limbaugh's "lack of class" comment is quite similar to LaDainian Tomlinson's comments after the Chargers lost to the Patriots, although we should add that Tomlinson's teammate Shawne Merriman is as guilty as anyone when it comes to prancing around with idiotic dances after sacks.

Limbaugh undermines that legitimate point with his second statement, though. To compare NFL players to gang members is to display willful ignorance about the men who play in the league. Which of the top players in tomorrow's game act like gang members on the field? Peyton Manning and Marvin Harrison? Tom Brady and Richard Seymour? Drew Brees and Reggie Bush? Thomas Jones and Brian Urlacher? All of those players and nearly all of the 180 or so players on the four teams we'll watch tomorrow are class acts. If Limbaugh doesn't know that, he doesn't know much about football. Which leaves me still scratching my head, three years later, as to why ESPN hired him.

posted by Steve @ 12:30:00 AM

12:30:00 AM

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Here we go again

Cracking Down on Mixtape CDs
Published: January 22, 2007

Not long before Christmas, Jeff Baker, the chief of police of Morrow, Ga., a small town just south of Atlanta, and one of his officers were walking through a local shopping mall when they happened to pass a kiosk hawking rap music CDs. One in particular caught their attention.

The CD was “Tha Streets Iz Watchin,” with songs performed by the rapper Young Jeezy and, as Chief Baker recalled, it did not carry the name or address of the owner of the music copyrights, as Georgia law requires. Rather than arrest the kiosk vendor immediately, Chief Baker said, “We’d rather go after the source of the material. And at that point we had no idea what the source was.”

Any rap music aficionado would; the creator of the album is DJ Drama, whose real name is Tyree Simmons, arguably the nation’s most prominent producer of mixtapes, the name given to popular but largely unlicensed CDs stocked with yet-to-be released rap hits and free-style rhymes.

And many more people now know: last week, local authorities, working with the recording industry’s trade association, stunned fans and music executives alike by raiding DJ Drama’s studio in Atlanta and arresting him and a fellow D.J., Don Cannon, on racketeering charges. Investigators seized more than 81,000 allegedly pirated CDs and say the pair were producing unlicensed recordings and selling them without permission.

The raid sparked an outcry among many rap fans. But it also threatens to throw into public view the recording industry’s awkward relationship with mixtapes, long an integral element of rap culture and now commonly for sale on street corners, Web sites, many independent record shops and occasionally big chains.

Even as industry-financed antipiracy squads hunt for unauthorized recordings, senior executives at the major record labels privately say that they have courted — and often paid — top D.J.’s to create and distribute mixtapes featuring the labels’ rappers as part of efforts to generate buzz.

The record industry seems intent on alienating their audience

posted by Steve @ 12:16:00 AM

12:16:00 AM

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Kristol On War Critics: ‘It’s So Irresponsible That They Can’t Be Quiet For Six Or Nine Months’

This morning on Fox News, Weekly Standard editor William Kristol said that opponents of escalation in Congress are “leap-frogging each other in the degrees of irresponsibility they’re willing to advocate.” Kristol said, “It’s just unbelievable. … It’s so irresponsible that they can’t be quiet for six or nine months,” adding, “You really wonder, do they want it to work or not? I really wonder that.”

NPR’s Juan Williams told Kristol his analysis was “totally ahistorical,” and pointed out that yesterday was the deadliest day for U.S forces in Iraq in two years. “There’s something going on here you might pay attention to as opposed to just the politics of, ‘If you don’t support this president, you don’t really want us to win.’”

Watch it:

Digg It!

Full transcript:

KRISTOL: They’re playing — they’re leap-frogging each other in the degrees of irresponsibility they’re willing to advocate. And I really think people are being too sort of complacent and forgiving almost of the Democrats. ‘Oh, it’s politics, of course. One of them has a non-binding resolution. The other has a cap.’ It’s all totally irresponsible. It’s just unbelievable. The president is sending over a new commander, he’s sending over troops, and the Democratic Congress, in a pseudo-binding way or non-binding way, is saying, ‘It won’t work. Forget it. You troops, you’re going over there in a pointless mission. Iraqis who might side with us, forget it, we’re going to pull the plug.’ It’s so irresponsible that they can’t be quiet for six or nine months and say the president has made a decision, we’re not going to change that decision, we’re not going to cut off funds and insist on the troops coming back, so let’s give it a chance to work. You really wonder, do they want it to work or not? I really wonder that. I hate to say this about the Democrats. They’re people I know personally and I respect some of them. Do they want it to succeed or not?

WILLIAMS: I think everybody wants it to succeed who believes in the idea that we are over there and our people are at stake. I don’t think there’s any question. I think that’s sort of a rhetorical tool on your part. But your analysis seems to be totally ahistorical. It’s as if mistakes haven’t been made repeatedly, as if people don’t feel like they’ve been misled down this path, that there’s been tremendous support for this president and war effort and it’s come to naught. It’s come to a bad place. Yesterday was the deadliest, I think, in two years. Nineteen Americans killed. There’s something going on here you might pay attention to as opposed to just the politics of, if you don’t support this president, you don’t really want us to win.

KRISTOL: What are Democrats doing that would change the 19 Americans that were killed yesterday? Nothing. Zero. Except, except no reinforcements. You guys are on your own. That’s what they’re saying.

WILLIAMS: If you think — do you think reinforcements will make some radical change? No. I think what people are saying is, it’s time to redeploy, look at new strategies, look at political compromise. That’s what’s not being done by this administration.

If Bill Kristol was responsible, he'd listen to the critics and stop pretending the surge will work

posted by Steve @ 12:10:00 AM

12:10:00 AM

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Middle School?

Taking Middle Schoolers Out of the Middle

Published: January 22, 2007

When John Smith, a swaggering sixth grader at one of New York City’s growing collection of kindergarten- through eighth-grade schools, feels lost, he heads downstairs to the colorful classroom of his former third-grade teacher, Randi Silverman, for what she calls a “Silverman hug.”

“When I get mad I go to her,” John, 11, said amid the lunchtime buzz in the cafeteria of his school, Public School 105, on the Rockaway peninsula in Queens. “When I feel frustrated I’ll go to her. When I feel like I can’t do it no more I go to her, and she tells me I have to do it.”

Miles away at Frederick Douglass Academy in Harlem, a 6th- through 12th-grade school, teachers keep the sixth graders looking forward, toward college. One recent morning, a class peppered a guidance counselor, Michael Lloyd, with queries, from “Where is Harvard?” to “What does Ph.D. stand for?”

The two schools, in disparate corners of the nation’s largest school system, are part of a national effort to rethink middle school, driven by increasingly well-documented slumps in learning among early adolescents as well as middle school crime rates and stubborn high school dropout rates.

The schools share the premise that the way to reverse years of abysmal middle school performance is to get rid of middle schools entirely. But they represent opposite poles in the sharp debate over whether 11- through 13-year-olds are better off pushed toward adulthood or coddled a little longer.

Should the nurturing cocoon of elementary school be extended for another three years, shielding 11-year-olds from the abrupt transition to a new school, with new students and teachers, at one of the most volatile times in their lives?

Paul Vallas, chief executive of the Philadelphia school system, thinks so, and he has closed 17 traditional middle schools since 2002, while converting some three dozen elementary schools into K-8s. “The fifth to sixth grade transition is just too traumatic,” he said. “At a time when children are undergoing emotional, physical, social changes, and when they need stability and consistency, suddenly they’re thrust into this alien environment.”

Others argue that 11-, 12- and 13-year-olds thrive in the presence of older role models and reminders of concrete goals, like playing varsity sports and getting into college.

“Kids are forward-looking — they don’t get nostalgic for second grade when they’re in third grade,” said Larry Woodbridge, principal of the Secondary School for Law in Park Slope, Brooklyn, where the award-winning high school debate team will teach a middle school social studies unit this spring.

I think if you're going to have a middle school, you need to have it start at 5th, not 6th Grade. When I went to school, I started in 7th grade. But either way, I think the crucial age is 12. Whatever you do, you have to deal with 12 year olds as your focus

posted by Steve @ 12:02:00 AM

12:02:00 AM

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Sunday, January 21, 2007

No kids for gays

They hate gay pengiuns too

Faith & Reason: Ruth Kelly, her hard-line church and a devout PM wrestling with his conscience
Catholic-run adoption agencies should retain the right to ban gay couples, say Tony Blair and Ruth Kelly. Most other cabinet members are horrified at the thought - and the scene is set for a political holy war. Francis Elliott reports
Published: 21 January 2007

She is a devout Catholic and member of the Opus Dei sect. His leanings to Rome have been rewarded with audiences in front of successive Popes.

So, when Tony Blair and Ruth Kelly team up to deny gay couples equal access to church-run adoption agencies, as we reveal today, it is little wonder that their opponents believe it is the "Catholic tendency" at work.

"We are descending into a spiral of immorality," said Cardinal Keith O'Brien, leader of the Catholic church in Scotland, when that country brought its laws into line with those of the rest of the UK to allow local authorities to place children with gay parents, just before Christmas.

Now, a further change in the law to remove from Catholic-run adoption agencies the right to ban gay people threatens to provoke a full-scale battle throughout the UK.

Archbishop Vincent Nichols, who is set to become the leader of England's Catholics, recently warned the Government not to "impose on us conditions which contradict our moral values".

"It is simply unacceptable to suggest that the resources of... adoption agencies ... can work in co-operation with public authorities only if the faith communities accept not just the legal framework but also the moral standards being touted by the Government," he sermonised last November.

When it comes to Mr Blair, the archbishop is preaching to the converted, according to senior ministers. The Prime Minister first asked Alan Johnson, then responsible, to include a loophole in anti-discrimination legislation to allow the Catholic ban on gay parents early last year.

When he refused, the PM moved him and handed the equalities brief to Ms Kelly, whom he knew could be trusted to back him on the issue. But a cabinet row last October delayed the introduction of the Equality Act until this April.

Ms Kelly now has to produce the regulations that spell out exactly how the new law will work, and the pressure is building towards an explosive political battle.

Mr Johnson remains implacably opposed to any exemption and is being supported by Peter Hain, Jack Straw, David Miliband, Des Browne and even Mr Blair's close friend Lord Falconer.

For his part, the Prime Minister can count only on Ms Kelly and John Hutton if the issue is pressed to the point of a full meeting of the cabinet committee that settles disputes on domestic policy. Members of the Domestic Affairs Committee, chaired by John Prescott, have been expecting a letter from Ms Kelly on the new regulations for weeks. Her aides say she will send them her proposals this week after further "detailed policy discussions with colleagues".

But Mr Blair can't count on much support among backbenchers. Angela Eagle, who topped a recent election to become the vice-chairman of the Parliamentary Labour Party, and Chris Bryant, MP for Rhondda, have been leading behind-the-scenes efforts to defeat the "Catholic tendency".

In a meeting last week Ms Kelly insisted that her wish to allow church-run adoption agencies to discriminate against gay couples had nothing to do with her own religious sensibilities.

Instead, the Communities Secretary said, she was acting in the best interests of vulnerable children since the Catholic bishops were threatening to close the seven agencies run by the church rather than comply.

The bishops point across the Atlantic at the example provided by the closure of an adoption agency by the Catholic church in Boston after the passing of anti-discrimination laws. It could no longer reconcile its operation with the Vatican ruling that gay adoption was "gravely immoral", it said.

At least in the UK, this is deemed offensive and unacceptable.

posted by Steve @ 12:13:00 PM

12:13:00 PM

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Warren Zevon - Roland The Headless Thompson Gunner

posted by Steve @ 7:41:00 AM

7:41:00 AM

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The Smiths - How Soon Is Now?

posted by Steve @ 7:37:00 AM

7:37:00 AM

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Public Enemy - Welcome to the Terrordome (Live)

Atrios, stop with the shitty videos. Please. You Tube has music which doesn't suck

posted by Steve @ 7:34:00 AM

7:34:00 AM

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High-Def Disconnect
For $1,399 and Endless Add-Ons He Got 12 Channels

By Howard Bryant
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, January 21, 2007; Page F01

ack in August, my needs were simple. As one of the reporters covering the Redskins for The Post, I needed a television and a way to record games so I could analyze what turned out to be a five-win season. A $119 combination 13-inch TV with a VCR would have solved the problem.

Instead, I ended up taking the high-definition plunge, spending $1,399 for a far-bigger and fancier television set than I originally had in mind. As I left the store with my new HDTV, my confidence was boosted by approving nods from people in the parking lot.

Most new HDTVs have inputs for both types of high-definition cables, but not all video sources - cable or satellite boxes, upconverting DVD players or high-def video game consoles - use the same connections. Both types of cables can sell from $10 to $100, with minimal difference in quality. (Ignore composite and S-Video connections, which can?t carry a high-def signal.)

"It's going to change your life," one man said.

If only someone had told me that buying the set was the easiest part.

Since then, I have been riding a high-definition roller coaster -- mesmerized by the new TV's crystal-clear images but disillusioned by the disappointingly low number of HD channels you get in exchange for the investment of the upgrade.

My purchase put me in a growing wave of people switching to high definition. Last year, more than 13 million HDTV sets were shipped to stores in the United States, and the Consumer Electronics Association predicts that even more -- closer to 16 million -- will hit shelves this year.

Moving into HDTV had been on my mind for a while. I'd been admiring a 50-inch plasma, and its dropping price tag, for about a year, but I was still fighting the psychological barrier of paying such big money for a TV. I'd spent less than $300 on a 27-inch Toshiba tube set only four years ago and wasn't mentally ready to shell out four figures for a replacement.

And so, faced with the onset of the season and needing a second set at home, I headed out with self-restraint and intentions of saving money by going low-tech -- until I started comparing prices and saw how much they had come down.

A 27-inch tube set is the same price today as the one I bought four years ago, around $275, but a Polaroid 20-inch flat-panel, HD television was less than $50 more, at $318. A 32-inch combination TV-VCR cost in the mid-$300s, but a Samsung 32-inch HD was in the low $600s, which didn't seem unreasonable considering the quality of the picture.

So why should we get this?

posted by Steve @ 2:03:00 AM

2:03:00 AM

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Change sometimes isn't so fast

Angel Franco/The New York Times

Yes, the Ill Will Can Be Subtle. Then, One Day, It Isn’t.

Published: January 21, 2007

Bullets shattered the peace in the home of Ernest Lampkins, mayor of Greenwood, La. Who did it remains unknown. To Mr. Lampkins, the motive is clear.

Midnight in a handsome one-story house on Waterwood Drive. Hours after Ernest and Shirley Lampkins say goodnight to their teenage daughter, Brett, and to the first Sunday of the new year, a Sunday of churchgoing and turkey and chili and some of those sweet frozen grapes that Ernest likes so much. Two bullets pay a call.

They explode through the living room window. They tear through the soft-yellow curtains that Shirley ordered from a catalog. They rocket past the Easter basket containing family snapshots, past Brett’s bedroom door, past Ernest’s antique upright piano, past the framed portrait of father, mother and daughter in serene pose.

One bullet strikes a golden candelabrum and splits: half whistles into a wall near the kitchen; half crashes through a French door — turning smooth glass into a spider’s web of shards — and into the sunroom, four steps from the master bedroom.

The other bullet slams so hard into the living room wall that it has to be pried out. “It was a piece of lead about the size of my thumb,” Mr. Lampkins recalls. “They use that for killing deer.”

There are no deer in the Lampkins home. Only Brett, 17, a high school junior, who has just learned to drive and wears slippers that look like kittens. And Shirley, 62, a retired high school English teacher and administrator, who enjoys gardening and makes a delectable fig cake. And Ernest, 78, a retired educator who has a doctorate in ethnomusicology and is known throughout Louisiana for reaching children through music.

Oh. One more thing about Ernest. He is also the mayor here in Greenwood, a quiet town of 2,600 a few miles west of Shreveport. Greenwood has a Dollar General store, a Mexican restaurant and some antebellum homes, including one once used as a Confederate hospital. It is predominantly white.

Oh. And one more thing about the Lampkinses. They are black.

On that night, Mr. and Mrs. Lampkins hear no gunshots, but their home alarm sounds, and they leave their bedroom to investigate. They stare at the shattered glass, and then at the holes in the front window. It does not register. Then it does.

As the police arrive to interview and to collect the shell casings from the street, it is hard to forget that several days earlier, the black mayor in Westlake, about 230 miles south of here, was found shot to death, and that some people there dispute findings that he killed himself.
Running for office can still be deadly for black men.

posted by Steve @ 12:24:00 AM

12:24:00 AM

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More idiocy

Another Bag of Krauthammers

Last Friday, in his Washington Post op-ed "A Plausible Plan B," neoconservative pundit Charles Krauthammer was more openly skeptical of the surge option.
If we were allied with an Iraqi government that, however weak, was truly national -- cross-confessional and dedicated to fighting a two-front war against Baathist insurgents and Shiite militias -- a surge of American troops, together with a change of counterinsurgency strategy, would have a good chance of succeeding. Unfortunately, the Iraqi political process has given us Nouri al-Maliki and his Shiite coalition.

Krauthammer is confident that the U.S. troops will acquit themselves admirably (as am I), but that the surge effort "will fail, however, because the Maliki government will undermine it."

Krauthammer proposes an alternative "Plan B" in which we tell Maliki:
Let us down, and we dismantle the Green Zone, leave Baghdad and let you jfend for yourself; we keep the airport and certain strategic bases in the area; we redeploy most of our forces to Kurdistan; we maintain a significant presence in Anbar province, where we are having success in our one-front war against al-Qaeda and the Baathists. Then we watch. You can have your Baghdad civil war without us. [Italics added.]

Krauthammer's Plan B sounds very much like Kissinger's "repositioning" plan, which sounds very much like someone else's Plan A that's been on the table for more than a year.

And the American Army will eat how? The highways go through Baghdad and Anbar, as well as the Shia South. The Turks won't help us resupply. Kurds want Kurdistan. Not a US occupation.

posted by Steve @ 12:12:00 AM

12:12:00 AM

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Saturday, January 20, 2007

Yawn, Hillary's In

Clinton Says ‘I’m In to Win’ 2008 Race

Published: January 20, 2007

“I’m in,” she says in a statement on her new campaign Web site. “And I’m in to win.”

Mrs. Clinton, 59, called for “bold but practical changes” in foreign, domestic, and national security policy and said that she would focus on finding “a right end” to the Iraq war, expanding health insurance, pursuing greater energy independence and strengthening Social Security and Medicare.

In her statement, Mrs. Clinton also squarely confronted an issue that concerns many Democrats: Whether she can, in fact, win the presidency. Some voters still associate her most with the controversies of the Clinton administration, and Republicans have long attacked and caricatured her, and plan to brand her as indecisive on Iraq.

“I have never been afraid to stand up for what I believe in or to face down the Republican machine,” Mrs. Clinton said on the Web site. “After nearly $70 million spent against my campaigns in New York and two landslide wins, I can say I know how Washington Republicans think, how they operate, and how to beat them.”

If successful, Mrs. Clinton would be the first female nominee of a major American political party, and she would become the first spouse of a former president to seek a return to the White House. President Bill Clinton left office in 2000 after two terms marked by robust economic expansion and a series of investigation into his personal life and the Clintons’ business dealings.

The successes and shadows of those years will likely loom over Mrs. Clinton, who was both a hands-on adviser and a divisive presence in his administration.

Yet Mrs. Clinton has become a major political figure in her own right: She is broadly popular with women, African-Americans, and other core groups in the Democratic Party, and she is one of the party’s best fundraisers and most sought-after speakers. She is admired by many independents and Republicans in New York, winning re-election last year by 30 points. While she is not associated with any major piece of legislation, she is widely regarded as an effective, thoughtful lawmaker who has built bipartisan ties

Let's see.

Only 72 percent of Americans will vote for a woman.

Hilary Clinton is the most detested politician outside of the Bush Administration.
So detested, her name is a punchline in most of America

She can't campaign for Dems outside the Far West and Northeast.

She has zero legislative accomplishments.

She supported the Iraq war

She has no national security experience

She has no defining political philosophy.

I think the Clinton campaign is a house of cards. When she is pressed hard and expected to actually take controversal stands, she is going to falter. She is a cautious politician, who despite all of her experiences, does not gauge the antipathy she faces on the left and the middle.

There isn't a chance in hell I would support Clinton, or to be honest, Obama, in a primary at this point. Neither has done more than talk and that will not cut it when we have to salvage our reputation and foreign policy.

posted by Steve @ 10:07:00 AM

10:07:00 AM

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Bush's plan falling apart

Tom Lasseter/MCT
Iraqi Army soldiers from the Kurdish-dominated
units in northern Iraq at a base outside of Mosul,
Iraq, December 2005. The Kurdish flag, and
not the Iraqi flag, flies at the gate.

Kurdish Iraqi soldiers are deserting to avoid the conflict in Baghdad
By Leila Fadel and Yaseen Taha
McClatchy Newspapers

SULAIMANIYAH, Iraq - As the Iraqi government attempts to secure a capital city ravaged by conflict between Sunni and Shiite Muslim Arabs, its decision to bring a third party into the mix may cause more problems than peace.

Kurdish soldiers from northern Iraq, who are mostly Sunnis but not Arabs, are deserting the army to avoid the civil war in Baghdad, a conflict they consider someone else's problem.

The Iraqi army brigades being sent to the capital are filled with former members of a Kurdish militia, the peshmerga, and most of the soldiers remain loyal to the militia.

Much as Shiite militias have infiltrated the Iraqi security forces across Arab Iraq, the peshmerga fill the ranks of the Iraqi army in the Kurdish region in the north, poised to secure a semi-independent Kurdistan and seize oil-rich Kirkuk and parts of Mosul if Iraq falls apart. One thing they didn't bank on, they said, was being sent into the "fire" of Baghdad.

"The soldiers don't know the Arabic language, the Arab tradition, and they don't have any experience fighting terror," said Anwar Dolani, a former peshmerga commander who leads the brigade that's being transferred to Baghdad from the Kurdish city of Sulaimaniyah.

Dolani called the desertions a "phenomenon" but refused to say how many soldiers have left the army.

"I can't deny that a number of soldiers have deserted the army, and it might increase due to the ferocious military operations in Baghdad," he said.

"This is the biggest performance through which we can test them," said Lt. Gen. Ali Ghaidan, the commander of land forces for the Iraqi Ministry of Defense. The Kurdish soldiers will be using translators, and they'll start off doing less dangerous tasks, such as manning checkpoints with Arab soldiers, he said.

In interviews, however, soldiers in Sulaimaniyah expressed loyalty to their Kurdish brethren, not to Iraq. Many said they'd already deserted, and those who are going to Baghdad said they'd flee if the situation there became too difficult.

"I joined the army to be a soldier in my homeland, among my people. Not to fight for others who I have nothing to do with," said Ameen Kareem, 38, who took a week's leave with other soldiers from his brigade in Irbil and never returned. "I used to fight in the mountains and valleys, not in the streets."

Kareem said he knew that deserting was risky, but he said he'd rather be behind bars in Kurdistan than a "soldier in Baghdad's fire." Without the language and with his Kurdish features, he was sure he would stand out, he said. He's a Kurd, he said, and he has no reason to become a target in an Arab war.

Now he drives a taxi in Sulaimaniyah, eking out a living and praying that he doesn't get caught.

Other soldiers in Sulaimaniyah also said they didn't want to be involved in someone else's war.

Farman Mohammed, 42, celebrated the Muslim Eid holiday with his family last month and didn't go back when he heard that he might be deployed to Baghdad. Afraid for his life, he found a new job and settled in with his family.

"The fanatic Sunnis in Baghdad kill the Shiites, and vice versa. Both of them are outraged against the Kurds. They will not hesitate to kill us and accuse us of being collaborators with the occupiers," he said. "How can we face them alone?"

posted by Steve @ 9:30:00 AM

9:30:00 AM

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Scumbags in action

Iraq Security Contractor Countersues

The Associated Press
Friday, January 19, 2007; 9:42 PM

RALEIGH, N.C. -- Private security contractor Blackwater USA is seeking $10 million from the attorney representing the estates of four employees killed and mutilated in Iraq, arguing their families breached the security guards' contracts by suing the company for wrongful death.

Blackwater also has asked a federal court to move the dispute into arbitration, having failed so far in its ongoing efforts to have the lawsuit dismissed.

Arbitration is necessary "in order to safeguard both (Blackwater's) own confidential information as well as sensitive information implicating the interest of the United States at war," attorneys for Blackwater Security Consulting, a unit of Moyock-based Blackwater USA, wrote in a petition filed December 20.

Dan Callahan, a California-based attorney representing the families, called the claim "appalling."

"This is a shock-and-awe tactic," Callahan said Friday. Blackwater's attorneys declined to comment.

The four families, represented by estates administrator Richard Nordan, filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Blackwater in January 2005 in state court. Family members argue Blackwater broke contractual obligations and used cost-saving measures that ultimately led to the deaths of the four men.

Blackwater's counterclaim for $10 million specifically names Nordan and not the estates or the men's families.

Or so their illegal activities can't be exposed in a court of law. The last place Erik Prince wants to be is under oath.

posted by Steve @ 6:53:00 AM

6:53:00 AM

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The battle of the exploding pigs

Exploding pigs and volleys of gunfire as Le Pen opens HQ in virtual world

Violent clashes have erupted in an online world over the arrival of Le Pen's national front

Oliver Burkeman in Porcupine
Saturday January 20, 2007
The Guardian

The streets of Porcupine were tranquil yesterday; a handful of locals strolled through its shopping malls, the sun was shining, and a light breeze blew in from over the hills. There were few hints of the fact that, only days before, the neighbourhood had been the scene of violent clashes between rightwing extremists and anti-Nazi protesters - running battles involving gunfire and bombs that might easily have cost lives were it not for the fact that Porcupine does not, in most commonly accepted senses of the term, exist.

A lesson you quickly learn upon entering the online virtual world of Second Life, however, is that non-existence is less of an impediment than might be supposed.

It hasn't stopped the development of a fully-featured alternative universe in which Second Life's 2.4 million registered users build houses, set up businesses, form clubs and societies, hold parties and have sex. And it did not prevent protest from spilling over into aggression when the Front National, the far-right French group led by Jean-Marie Le Pen, became the first European political party to open a headquarters within Second Life.

"The first night I arrived at the protest ... it was ringed on all sides by protesters with signs to wave and statements to distribute," wrote James Au, whose website, New World Notes, reports on events in Second Life. "By the second night I came ... the conflict had become more literal, for many residents had armed themselves. Multi-coloured explosions and constant gunfire shredded the air of Porcupine." Some activists threw exploding pigs.

"This nationalist idea that Front National is advocating is something that has spread all over Europe like a virus," a protester, using the name Ichi Jaehun, told Mr Au. "It's [as if] the history of the 20th century has already been forgotten. It is time to say enough!"

A group calling itself Second Life Left Unity issued press releases explaining that it had purchased land next to the Front National office, and would be "manning a protest there until FN go or are ejected. Wherever fascists are, we will ensure they get no peace to corrupt and lie to decent people".

A few days later, the Front National building had vanished altogether, leaving only a few protest placards showing Mr Le Pen - who made it through to the final round of the last real-world French presidential election in 2002 - wearing a Hitler moustache.

It was probably inevitable that political confrontation would arrive in Second Life in the end. It is already home to one of the most potentially revolutionary developments on the internet in recent years - a vibrant economy in which residents use a virtual currency, Linden dollars, to buy and sell goods and services, including clothes for their online characters, works of art, buildings, and financial advice.

Because users retain legal ownership of the things they create, and because Linden dollars can be turned into US dollars via an exchange operated by Linden Lab, the company behind Second Life, the virtual-world businesses have real-world value. Numerous real firms have opened outlets in Second Life, and a woman living in Germany has reportedly become its first dollar millionaire - from the property development business she runs inside Second Life.

posted by Steve @ 6:43:00 AM

6:43:00 AM

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Racial Row on UK show

Jade Goody is interviewed by Davina McCall
following her eviction from the Celebrity Big
Brother house.
Photograph: Timothy Anderson/Channel 4/PA

Jade evicted as poll reveals public anger with Channel 4

Karen McVeigh and Jeevan Vasagar
Saturday January 20, 2007
The Guardian

Jade Goody was evicted from the Celebrity Big Brother house last night in a vote which could be seen as a public stand against racial intolerance. An overwhelming majority - 82% - of viewers voted against her. In a post-eviction interview, Goody said she was "embarrassed and disgusted" by her own behaviour.

The 25-year-old from Bermondsey, south-east London, was up for eviction against Shilpa Shetty, a Bollywood actor and the alleged victim of racist abuse from several housemates, especially Goody.

Before her departure was announced, an unprecedented 40,000 complaints were made to broadcast regulator Ofcom and the public were urged to "vote for tolerance" by a number of politicians including the chancellor, Gordon Brown.

Public anger over the racism row is underlined today by a Guardian/Marketing Sciences poll which shows most people believe Channel 4 should have intervened to stop the abuse of Shetty.

The public does not believe the housemates' behaviour is representative of the country, the poll shows, with 55% believing the insults directed at the Indian housemate were not typical of modern Britain. A quarter say it did reflect society, with more than half of people believing Channel 4 had engineered the clashes to gain viewing figures.

Mr Brown, who was yesterday visiting a Bollywood film studio in Mumbai during his visit to India, presented the choice between Goody and Shetty as one that would shape how the rest of the world sees Britain. "I know that people in India say that Britain is generally a country of tolerance," Mr Brown said. "It is up to people to cast their votes, but a vote for Britain is a vote for tolerance."

Goody left the house to an eery silence after Channel 4 banned the usual crowds from the eviction show. For once she appeared to pause for thought when presenter Davina McCall told her of the political and diplomatic storm her words had provoked and played back footage of her behaviour. She said that when her comments against Shetty, who she referred as "Shilpa Poppadom", were read back to her, she thought "Oh my God, maybe I am racist".

She added: "I look like a complete and utter nasty small person - the sort of person I don't like myself," but continued: "I am not a racist and I sincerely, with my hand on my heart, apologise to anyone I have offended out there."

If Goody was unaware of the effect her words would have, Shetty was not. In one exchange before the eviction, she told Goody she did not think her a racist, but added: "You said it, its going to be out and a lot of Indians heard it. Trust me, it's not going to go down well."

posted by Steve @ 6:38:00 AM

6:38:00 AM

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No spanking

Anti-spanking: Jordan Riak, a retired teacher
who calls his 25-year campaign against corporal
punishment and spanking his "life work."

A spanking ban: are we gonna get it?

Parents say lawmaker's plan to outlaw hitting children under 4 smacks of the nanny state.
By Nancy Vogel, Times Staff Writer
January 20, 2007

SACRAMENTO — Assemblywoman Sally Lieber hit a nerve when she mused publicly this week about making it illegal for parents to strike children younger than 4.

The Bay Area Democrat hasn't introduced a bill yet, but critical calls and e-mails — including some personal attacks — have flooded her offices since her local newspaper wrote about her intention.

Unbowed, Lieber said she would introduce a bill next week to make California the first state to make the hitting of a toddler or baby a crime. Language was still being drafted, but Lieber was considering making a violation a misdemeanor, punishable by up to a year in county jail.

"It would get us out of the ridiculous situation of having our law saying there's justifiable beating of children," Lieber said, "in the midst of a society where we say we value children and protect them."

Readers of the San Jose Mercury News blasted the idea — "Although I don't believe in spanking, I sure do not need some media-grubbing politician to tell me how to raise my kids," wrote one — but Lieber said she was confident that she would win Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's support.

In a Mercury News interview Thursday, Schwarzenegger described how as a child he "got smacked about everything" by his father, but has never spanked his own four children. He questioned how such a law could be enforced, but said he understood the desire to "get rid of the physical, the brutal behavior that some parents have."

Answering questions after delivering a healthcare speech Friday to Los Angeles business leaders, Schwarzenegger said he and his wife, Maria Shriver, quickly found that threatening to ground their children to do schoolwork worked well. "We can discipline the kids … without hitting," he said.

Schwarzenegger's native Austria banned corporal punishment of children in 1989. Fifteen other nations have done so, most in Europe, according to the nonprofit Center for Effective Discipline in Columbus, Ohio. California is one of 29 states that ban corporal punishment in schools. Most states — including California — ban physical discipline in child-care settings.

Nadine A. Block, a former school psychologist who 25 years ago began pushing for an end to paddling in schools, said a Wisconsin lawmaker unsuccessfully sought 15 years ago to make all hitting of children illegal. A similar effort failed last year in Massachusetts, she said.

But the narrower scope of Lieber's bill and California's progressive tendency give it better odds of success, said Block, executive director of the Center for Effective Discipline.

"Most people know you should not hit babies and babies do not know right from wrong," she said. "Babies you have to distract, remove, supervise, protect."

Lieber's proposal promises to draw national media attention like that triggered in 1994 when then-Assemblyman Mickey Conroy, an Orange County Republican, proposed paddling juvenile graffiti vandals with an 18-by-6-inch wooden paddle. Conroy was sought by dozens of radio talk shows and TV news programs to talk about his bill, which was defeated in committee. Conroy died in 2005.

Lieber said she has gotten plenty of encouragement — including from prosecutors — but Mercury News readers rejected the idea in e-mails posted on the newspaper's website.

"The day that the [government] gives birth to my children, then they have a right to raise them," wrote Esther. "Till then they are mine to do with as I please. I will raise them the way I see fit. If I think that those little butts need a swat … I will be the one to give it to them."

Having seen the way some people fetishize violence against their own children, this is a good idea. Sure, a slight tap for a toddler running towards traffic is hardly a crime, but a lot of people need a reminder that they might want to use other methods with their kids.

We weren't spanked as kids, my mother wasn't spanked. We didn't turn into criminals.

posted by Steve @ 6:27:00 AM

6:27:00 AM

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This isn't in the plans for the Kurds

Draft Law Keeps Central Control Over Oil in Iraq

Published: January 20, 2007

BAGHDAD, Jan. 19 — After months of tense bargaining, a cabinet-level committee has produced a draft law governing Iraq’s vast oil fields that would distribute all revenues through the federal government and grant Baghdad wide powers in exploration, development and awarding major international contracts.

The draft, described Friday by several members of the committee, could still change and must be approved by the Iraqi cabinet and Parliament before it becomes law. Negotiations have veered off track in the past, and members of the political and sectarian groups with interest in the law could still object as they read it more closely.

But if approved in anything close to its present form, the law would appear to settle a longstanding debate over whether the oil industry and its revenues should be overseen by the central government or the regions dominated by Kurds in the north and Shiite Arabs in the south, where the richest oil fields are located.

The draft comes down firmly on the side of central oversight, a decision that advocates for Iraq’s unity are likely to trumpet as a triumph. Because control of the oil industry touches so directly on the interests of all Iraq’s warring sectarian groups, and therefore the future of the country, the proposed law has been described as the most critical piece of pending legislation.

“This will give us the basis of the unity of this country,” said Ali Baban, the Iraqi planning minister and a member of the Sunni-dominated Tawafaq party who serves on the negotiating committee. “We pushed for the center in Baghdad, but we didn’t neglect the Kurds and other regions,” Mr. Baban said.

They may smile and go along, but the Kurds want Kirkuk and the oil

posted by Steve @ 3:06:00 AM

3:06:00 AM

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Provoking Sadr

Main aide of Muqtada al-Sadr arrested

By KIM GAMEL, Associated Press Writer Fri Jan 19, 6:33 PM ET

BAGHDAD, Iraq - U.S. and Iraqi forces swooped into a mosque complex in east Baghdad on Friday and detained a top aide to radical anti-American cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, the latest in a series of operations aimed at eviscerating the leadership of the Mahdi Army militia.

The raid drew immediate criticism from the Iraqi government, which complained it had not been consulted. An aide to Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, who owes his job as Iraqi leader to al-Sadr's backing, said the operation was not part of a coming joint U.S.-Iraq security drive.

Under the plan, to which President Bush has committed an additional 21,500 American troops, U.S. commanders have been promised a freer hand against both Sunni insurgents and Shiite militiamen.

"There was no coordination with the Iraqi political leadership and this arrest was not part of the new security plan," Sadiq al-Rikabi, the al-Maliki adviser, told Al-Arabiya television. "Coordination with the Iraqi political leadership is needed before conducting such operations that draw popular reactions."

Abdul-Hadi al-Darraji was captured in the early morning raid and his bodyguard was killed in what Abdul-Zahra al-Suweiadi, a senior al-Sadr aide, called a "cowardly act." Al-Sadr's office said al-Darraji was media director for the cleric's political movement and demanded his immediate release.

"America is playing with fire and our patience is beginning to fade," said Abdul-Razzaq al-Nidawi, an al-Sadr aide in the Shiite holy city of Najaf. "This savage barbarian act will not pass peacefully."

The U.S. military, in a statement that did not name al-Darraji or mention the Mahdi Army by name, said special Iraqi army forces operating with U.S. advisers had "captured a high-level, illegal armed group leader" in Baghdad's Baladiyat neighborhood, which is adjacent to Sadr City, the Mahdi Army stronghold.

"Iraqi forces detained him based on credible intelligence that he is the leader of an illegal armed group (involved in) ... the organized kidnapping, torture and murder of Iraqi civilians. The suspect is also reportedly involved in the assassination of numerous Iraqi Security Forces members and government officials," the U.S. statement said.

It said two other suspects were detained for questioning.

Also Friday, the top American commander in Iraq, Gen. George Casey, said he thought some of the extra troops might return home after a few months.

"I think it's probably going to be the summer, late summer, before you get to the point where people in Baghdad feel safe in their neighborhoods," Casey said at a news conference at Tallil Air Base in southern Iraq with visiting Defense Secretary Robert Gates.

Asked how long the additional American forces would remain, Casey replied, "I believe the projections are late summer."

The first group of extra troops — a brigade of the 82nd Airborne Division — has just arrived in Baghdad, and Gates said it was too early to predict how Bush's plan for quelling the sectarian violence in the capital will work.

Four other brigades are to be sent to Iraq between now and May, assuming the Iraqis follow through on their commitment to bring three additional Iraqi army brigades into Baghdad and to allow raids against all illegal militias.

Gates' daylong visit was not announced in advance. The defense chief met with U.S. commanders and their allied counterparts as the Bush troop buildup was encountering widespread opposition in Congress.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (news, bio, voting record) said Friday that the Iraq war "is not an obligation of the American people in perpetuity." The president, she said, "has dug a hole so deep he can't even see the light on this. It's a tragedy. It's a stark blunder."

Democratic support was building around a resolution that would rebuff Bush's plans for more troops to Iraq, and more Republicans were looking for ways to sign on to the measure.

In an interview with an Italian newspaper, al-Sadr said the U.S.-Iraqi security crackdown already has begun. And he confirmed reports that 400 Mahdi Army men have been arrested.

The La Repubblica interviewer quoted al-Sadr as saying he feared for his life and stayed on the move constantly. His aides have told The Associated Press he seldom sleeps in the same place for two nights in succession.

Al-Sadr said his militias would not fight back immediately because Islam forbids killing during the Muslim holy month of Muharram, which starts Friday for Sunnis and Saturday for Shiites.

"Let them kill us. For a true believer there is no better moment than this to die: Heaven is ensured," he was quoted as saying. "After Muharram, we'll see."

Al-Sadr said he is being targeted.

"For this reason, I have moved my family to a secure location. I even have had a will drawn up, and I move continuously in a way that only few can know where I am," he was quoted as saying by La Repubblica.

posted by Steve @ 12:52:00 AM

12:52:00 AM

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Jenna writes a book

First Twin Jenna Shops a Book
Jenna Bush and the First Lady

You can soon add the title of author to first daughter Jenna Bush's résumé. Whispers learns that the 25-year-old blond twin of Barbara Bush is shopping a book proposal to major publishers in New York City. We're told that the project is vague and that she's initially only gauging publishers' interest. The White House wouldn't comment, but others say it will be a young-adult book based on the former grade school teacher's experiences with charity causes in Latin America. It ought to sell: She's represented by super lawyer-agent Robert Barnett, who squired her around publishing offices in the Big Apple earlier this month. The profits will go to charity.
Do people realize how disliked Jenna Bush is?

How many people think her ass belongs in Iraq?

Who cares if she writes a book?

posted by Steve @ 12:42:00 AM

12:42:00 AM

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Friday, January 19, 2007

Elvis Costello -

posted by Steve @ 9:09:00 PM

9:09:00 PM

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the jam - that's entertainment

posted by Steve @ 9:09:00 PM

9:09:00 PM

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The Clash - I Fought The Law

posted by Steve @ 9:09:00 PM

9:09:00 PM

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Clash Fridays Part 1

Someone mentioned this on an earlier thread

posted by Steve @ 8:56:00 PM

8:56:00 PM

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No kidding

The Carpetbagger Report has this up

Top Bush administration officials seem to revel in historical analogies, particularly when it comes to the war in Iraq. At different times, the Bush gang has referenced Korea, the Revolutionary War, WWI, and the Civil War. By mid-2005, the president had settled on World War II as a personal favorite.

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is especially fond of pointing to history to justify White House decisions. When pressed a few months ago about the failures of the administration’s policies in the Middle East, Rice told reporters, “I’m a student of history, so perhaps I have a little more patience with enormous change in the international system. It’s a big shifting of tectonic plates, and I don’t expect it to happen in a few days or even in a year.” Apparently, Rice’s detractors just don’t know enough about history to make sound judgments. We should leave it all to Dr. Rice.

With this in mind, the Wall Street Journal noted today that when Rice compares today’s challenges in the Middle East to the Cold War and post-World War II Europe, as she does quite frequently, she has no idea what she’s talking about.

Her contention is while things may look bad now in Iraq and elsewhere in the region, history is on the administration’s side. She pushed a similar argument to reporters last month. The Middle East is “moving toward something that I am quite certain will not have a full resolution and that you will not be able to fully judge for decades,” she said.

Critics dismiss Ms. Rice’s references to the Cold War as both convenient and a sign of her limited frame of reference. The challenges facing Europe in 1946, they say, bear little similarity to those of the Middle East in the 21st century.

“The administration’s reservoir of historical analogies seems limited to the 1914-1991 period. And it’s all about Europe,” said Adam Garfinkle, a former Rice speechwriter who edits the foreign-policy journal The American Interest. “No one in a senior position in this administration seems to have even the vaguest notion of modern Middle Eastern history.”

When a Rice speechwriter says the administration’s top officials are clueless, you know it’s bad.

Of course, Rice’s misguided perspective, in which she seems to force modern situations into the historical models she’s familiar with, have real consequences. As the WSJ noted, Rice “tends to portray events, particularly the clash between what she calls ‘moderation’ and ‘extremism’ in the Middle East, as driven by huge, almost inevitable forces that make diplomacy impractical, or even irrelevant.” Rice personally fed that notion this week by insisting diplomatic negations had nothing to do with “deal making.”

“There’s a tendency to think about diplomacy as something that is done untethered to the conditions underlying it or the balance underlying it,” she said. “In fact, that’s not the way that it works. You aren’t going to be successful as a diplomat if you don’t understand the strategic context in which you are actually negotiating. It is not deal-making.”

Aaron David Miller, a public policy scholar at the Woodrow Wilson Center and former advisor to Secretaries of State from George Schulz to Colin Powell, said Rice’s comments were so misguided, he “nearly fell off [his] chair” when he read them.

Remember, back in 2000, when candidate George W. Bush said it didn’t matter if he knew anything; what mattered was he’d have top-notch advisors?

posted by Steve @ 3:27:00 PM

3:27:00 PM

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She wanted unemployment?

Diary of a goof-off: No work, no pay
A Des Moines woman details her idling on the job on her employer's computer.


January 19, 2007

A Des Moines hotel worker has been fired for using her employer's computer to keep a massive, detailed journal cataloging her efforts to avoid work.

State records indicate that Emmalee Bauer, 25, of Elkhart was hired by the Sheraton hotel company in February 2005. During most of 2006, she worked at the company's Army Post Road location as a sales coordinator.

At one point during her employment, Bauer was allegedly instructed to refrain from using company time to work on her personal, handwritten journal. Rather than stop writing at all, Bauer allegedly began using her work computer to keep the journal up to date.

"I am going to be typing all my thoughts instead of writing all day," wrote Bauer, according to portions of the journal that were entered into evidence at a recent state hearing dealing with Bauer's request for unemployment benefits. "That way, there isn't any way to tell for sure if I am working really hard or I am just goofing off."

Over the next several months, Bauer composed a book-length journal of 300 single-spaced pages, describing in excruciating detail her dogged efforts to avoid any sort of work.

"This typing thing seems to be doing the trick," she wrote. "It just looks like I am hard at work on something very important."

A supervisor discovered the journal late last year and fired Bauer for misuse of company time.

Other journal entries, according to evidence presented at the hearing:

- "I am going to sit right here and play Elf Bowling or some other nonsense. Once lunch is over, I will come right back to writing to piddle away the rest of the afternoon. ... I have almost 100 pages here! I wonder how long that's going to take to print?"

- "I don't feel like doing a single worthwhile thing today. It's 11:00 and so far I have stuck to that. ... I have managed to waste half of the day doing nothing constructive. That isn't exactly an easy task, either."

- "It's noon already and I don't feel like I have accomplished a damn thing. Accomplishment is overrated, anyway."


She hated her job. Did she think her bosses weren't going to keep track of her work?

You don't do this. She should have just quit, not hand her bosses 300 pages of evidence that she basically didn't perform her work.

God, it makes my head hurt thinking about this level of stupidity.

posted by Steve @ 3:18:00 PM

3:18:00 PM

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A Runaway Situation in Seattle
9-Year-Old Gets Past Airport Security and Flies to Texas

By Blaine Harden
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, January 19, 2007; Page A03

SEATTLE, Jan. 18 -- Weighing in at 80 pounds and standing 4 feet 9 inches tall, Semaj Booker has established himself as a regional heavyweight in the pre-adolescent sport of sneaking out of the house.

He could be the most persistent, most creative and most publicized 9-year-old runaway in the history of the Pacific Northwest. As his mother says, he really hates it here.

Semaj can drive a stolen car 90 mph while leading a police chase, as he demonstrated Sunday. The chase ended only after he blew the engine on a 1986 Acura swiped from a neighbor who had left the car unlocked and running. The boy then refused to get out of the car, which he had crashed into a tree.

Police had to break a car window, grab him and take him back to his mother's apartment in Lakewood, a gritty working-class suburb near Tacoma. This was his third stolen car in the past month, according to his mother, who said he learned how to drive playing video games.

The morning after the car crash, Semaj came up with a new, improved runaway scheme -- one that would transport him to Texas free of charge, get him on all-news cable television and prompt a local congressman to ask angry questions about how a kid could outfox a major airline and slip through federal airport security.

Early Monday, the boy managed to sneak out of his house and travel about 50 miles to Seattle-Tacoma International Airport. Police speculate he hitched a ride or stole another car.

His mother, Sakinah Booker, who is single and has three other boys, reported him missing at 7:30 a.m., but had no idea where he had gone. She later told reporters that Semaj loathes his life in Washington state, has tried to run away nine times since moving to the region less than a year ago and is "seeking a strong male figure" back in his former home state of Texas. His grandfather lives in Dallas.

At the Sea-Tac airport, Semaj did not have a reservation, nor did he have a means of buying a ticket. But he single-handedly conned Southwest Airlines and the federal Transportation Security Administration into allowing him to board a flight to San Antonio via Phoenix.

And that has annoyed Rep. Norm Dicks (D-Wash.), in whose district Semaj reluctantly lives.

"We have spent millions of dollars and inconvenienced the American public mightily trying to make air travel safe," Dicks said. "If a 9-year-old can exploit this security system, we are going to have to look into the procedure

Needs a male authority figure? Seems mom fucked that up.

How the hell can a 9 year old drive to the airport? How can he leave the house without mom knowing?

He's a very bright kid, but he's gonna kill himself and others because his mom is unable to step in and do her job.

posted by Steve @ 1:32:00 AM

1:32:00 AM

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Only in Washington

Doug Mills/The New York Times

Taking Power, Sharing Cereal

SOME of the most powerful Democrats in America are split over a most incendiary household issue: rodents.

“I once had to pick up a mouse by the tail that Durbin refused to pick up,” complained Senator Charles E. Schumer of New York, referring to his roommate Senator Richard J. Durbin of Illinois.

This characterization is not fair to Mr. Durbin, interjected another tenant in the Capitol Hill row house, Representative Bill Delahunt of Massachusetts. For starters, it overlooks Mr. Durbin’s gift for killing rats. “He will kill them with his bare hands,” Mr. Delahunt marveled.

“Oh, will you stop with the rats,” said the annoyed fourth roommate, Representative George Miller of California. He owns the house and is sensitive to any suggestion that he harbors pestilence. It’s dicey enough that he harbors politicians.

Think MTV’s “Real World” with a slovenly cast of Democratic power brokers. While Washington may have more than its share of crash pads for policy-debating workaholics, few, if any, have sheltered a quorum as powerful as this one. About a quarter-mile southeast of the Capitol, the inelegantly decorated two-bedroom house has become an unlikely center of influence in Washington’s changing power grid. It is home to the second- and third-ranking senators in the new Democratic majority (Mr. Durbin, the majority whip, and Mr. Schumer, the vice chairman of the Democratic caucus) and the chairman of the House Democratic Policy Committee (Mr. Miller).

Mr. Delahunt, a six-term congressman, is the least prominent of the four but perhaps the funniest. More to the point, he is the only one willing to sleep in the living room with a close-up view of Mr. Schumer slumbering a few feet away in his boxers.

Mr. Miller began taking in weary lawmakers in 1982, but this is the first time in 12 years that four members of a Democratic majority have lived here simultaneously. The four men were once host to a fund-raiser for Senator Barbara Boxer of California at their divey dwelling, raising $80,000. Given the prevailing attire in the place on many nights, guests were given pairs of custom-made “Barbara Boxer shorts.”

As a general rule, the abode is hardly fit for entertaining, or even for a health inspector. It is used for convenience: sleeping, ditching stuff, and fast-food consumption — the kinds of functions prized by vagabond politicians whose families are back in their home states and who generally spend only their working weekdays here.

“Everybody in the world says they’re going to do a television series based on us,” said Mr. Durbin, who was collapsed on the couch on a recent Monday night. Still in a tie, he sipped ice water from a massive Chicago Cubs cup while waiting for the Chinese food to arrive.

posted by Steve @ 1:24:00 AM

1:24:00 AM

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Despite total ignorance, I support this idea

Giuliani and Kerik

Giuliani and Broken Windows
by HarveyMilk [Subscribe]
Thu Jan 18, 2007 at 06:50:01 PM PST

In an ongoing series, I want to post diaries that piss off those who cling to the "conventional wisdom" of this site. Not just for the sake of pissing people off (that's an added bonus), but to get us to think.

I support the "Broken Windows" theory of law enforcement, and I support how Giuliani carried it out. It was necessary. It was effective.

I don't care if a Republican did it. New York is the better for it, and the whole country would be, too. So there.

On a national level, we Democrats were in the opposition forever. But, opposition is one thing. All you have to do is cry foul and profess a love of America. We're good at that. But now, we have power. And all signs point to us having even more power in 2008.

So, the time for righteous rants is over. Let's get to policy. That's were you can get into some trouble!

I live in an inner-ring suburb of Detroit, and I work in the City of Detroit (all in Wayne County, Michigan - the third bluest county in the country). John Conyers is my rep. I am (in my heart of hearts) a Democratic Socialist, and not simply a "Democrat," just like Martin Luther King, Jr.

At the same time, I support law enforcement taking the "Broken Windows" approach. Is being a "Democratic Socialist" and being an advocate of "Broken Windows" policing a dichotomy? No. I'll attempt to explain why.

A couple of days ago, I emerged from my concrete bunker of an office building to take my lunch (I'm a legal assistant). I encountered a man shitting on a public sidewalk. I gave him a look of disdain. He looked at me like I'd done something wrong!

In his defense, he appeared to be homeless and desperate. The good leftist in me knows that that isn't all his fault. And, every business in the CBD has signs posted saying "Restrooms are for Customers ONLY."

But, I couldn't help but think, if it were me, I'd find an alley, a place behind the dumpster to relieve myself. I wouldn't shit in front of everyone, and I wouldn't dare act like someone else had a problem if I were moving my bowels on public sidewalk.

Detroit struggles anyway with its national reputation. And we currently have the NAIAS in town. You would think law enforcement would stop things like public defocation. But no. I walked for six blocks to my destination, hoping that, along the way, I could hip a cop to the fact that someone was dropping the kids off in a public square. Get the guy some help. But, no member of law enforcement was to be found.

I think it will take a good, strong-minded Democrat to fix problems like this. A Republican looks cruel enforcing public decency - a Democrat wouldn't. Maybe a "Nixon Goes to China" thing, on the domestic tip.

To be clear, I'm not looking for a "blame the victim" solution, but I AM looking for a "quality of life" solution.

I care very much about the downtrodden in our society. I want to invest in mental health. But I don't want to watch someone take a shit in public on my way to get my lunch. And I damn sure won't put up with the shitter getting aggressive toward me. Fuck that, with no equivocation.

And where I am, we have only Democrats to blame.

Do you know anything other than Giuliani propeganda about Broken Windows or are you a racist who doesn't respect the constitution? You can be either. But Broken Windows failed.

This is the theory famously expounded by James Q. Wilson and George L. Kelling in an article entitled Broken Windows: The Police and Neighborhood Safety, which appeared in Atlantic Monthly in March 1982. They make the consequences of small-scale neglect very clear and very direct:

A piece of property is abandoned, weeds grow up, a window is smashed. Adults stop scolding rowdy children; the children, emboldened, become more rowdy. Families move out, unattached adults move in. Teenagers gather in front of the corner store. The merchant asks them to move; they refuse. Fights occur. Litter accumulates. People start drinking in front of the grocery; in time, an inebriate slumps to the sidewalk and is allowed to sleep it off. Pedestrians are approached by panhandlers.

The theory was that if you arrested people for small crimes, they wouldn't commit big ones.

However, crime in New York had already been going down because of community policing, where the police worked with the locals. Giuliani, who's antipathy towards blacks was noted, turned broken windows into a policy which led to extrajudicial murder.

What Broken Windows did was increase the number of blacks and latinos in the system for minor things like drinking outside, while whites would never be stopped, much less arrested for such activity. At one point, 80 percent of New York's black and latino males had been stopped and frisked. One particular opponent of Giuliani was illegally arrested 26 times.

But the consequences of Broken Windows created a racial divide which has never been truly healed.

Abner Louima

Louima was attending a nightclub in Brooklyn when police approached him and then arrested him. He was then taken into the bathroom, raped and had his rectum destroyed by a plunger.

Amadou Diallo

Diallo was coming home at 2 AM after getting a sandwich from the local deli. Four police stopped him and fired 41 shots at him. No gun was found, no evidence of a crime found. The police officers were aquitted by an Albany County jury, forever casting a pall over relations between the NYPD and the African American community. Extrajudicial murder usually does. The city settled with the Diallo family for several million dollars.

Patrick Dorismond

Getting off of work after a couple of drinks in a bar, he's approached by an undercover police officer. After a scuffle, he is murdered on the street by the NYPD. He had no gun, there was no evidence of any crime committed. The case is not prosecuted. His family settles for several million dollars.

This was the outcome of Giuliani's broken windows policing, innocents harassed, others extrajudicially tortured and murdered, a gross violation of civil rights.

Instead of looking to police solutions, why not work with the community to provide services for the homeless and petty criminals. People shouldn't have to die for reaching their wallet

posted by Steve @ 12:57:00 AM

12:57:00 AM

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Gunpoint at Democracy

Andrea Parhamovich in an undated photograph.
Ms. Parhamovich was killed Wednesday in the
ambush of a convoy in Baghdad.

Ambush Kills an American Teaching Democracy to Iraqis

Published: January 19, 2007

BAGHDAD, Jan. 18 — An American woman killed here on Wednesday when gunmen fired on her convoy of vehicles was ambushed just minutes after leaving the headquarters of a prominent Sunni Arab political party, where she had been teaching a class on democracy, party members said Thursday

They said the woman — Andrea Parhamovich, 28, of Perry, Ohio — left the party’s fortified compound in western Baghdad around 4 p.m., heading east to her group’s offices outside the Green Zone, when she and her armed guards came under attack from all sides.

Les Campbell, Middle East and North Africa director for the National Democratic Institute, which hired Ms. Parhamovich about three months ago, said that during the fierce firefight, guards tried to escape, fought back, then called for reinforcements from other private security contractors.

The attackers — perhaps as many as 30 men, according to witness accounts passed on to Mr. Campbell — used heavy weapons, possibly rocket-propelled grenades, destroying the armored sedan that Ms. Parhamovich was in and killing three of her armed guards: a Croatian, a Hungarian and an Iraqi. Two other security contractors were wounded. The attackers then scattered back into the neighborhood.

Saleem Abdullah, a senior member of the Sunni political group, the Iraqi Islamic Party, said that Ms. Parhamovich’s group might have been chosen as a target when it arrived. “It seems that someone, when they saw her in the area, set up an ambush,” he said. “That’s what we think.”

Mr. Campbell described Ms. Parhamovich as a driven young woman, inspired by politics and a desire to help Iraqis connect with their newly elected government.

He said she joined the National Democratic Institute, a nonprofit organization based in Washington that has worked in Iraq since 2003, after working for a few months with a similar group in Baghdad.

“She was an idealistic person who saw an opportunity in Iraq to help, to work with people in Iraq who were interested in democracy and human rights, which is what she cared about,” he said.

Andi Parhamovich was a former Air America staffer and her death was taken especially hard there.

And while I am sympathetic to her friends who grieve her loss, I have to wonder what kind of democracy you can build with mercenaries.

Does anyone expect an election to take place in Iraq in the next few years? The National Democratic Institute really, really needs to rethink their field operations in Iraq. She rode into an ambush which would make a SF A team proud. 30 guys came at them guns blazing and killed a bunch of people.

Now how did that happen?

Do you think that a certain shia militia might have had issues with this? That they may have objected to helping a Sunni political party?

I think the NGO's who remain need to get a grip on reality. Hiring mercenaries, living in foritified compounds, being ambushed, if not stalked, then ambushed, is not going to help people. It will, however, get people killed.

The brutal reality is that the only voting in Iraq will be to comfirm whoever Sadr chooses as president.

posted by Steve @ 12:49:00 AM

12:49:00 AM

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