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“Not only can they not find WMD in Iraq,” I commented to E. as we listened to the Bush speech, “But they have disappeared from his speeches too!” I was listening to the voiceover on Arabiya, translating his speech to Arabic. He was recycling bits and pieces of various speeches he used over two years.
E., a younger cousin, and I were sitting around in the living room, sprawled on the relatively cool tiled floor. The electricity had been out for 3 hours and we couldn’t turn on the air conditioner with the generator electricity we were getting. E. and I had made a bet earlier about what the theme of tonight’s speech would be. E. guessed Bush would dig up the tired, old WMD theme from somewhere under the debris of idiocy and lies coming out of the White House. I told him he’d dredge up 9/11 yet again… tens of thousands of lives later, we would have to bear the burden of 9/11… again.
The war continues
by Steve Gilliard
The US is facing a slow, steady upsurge in resistance forces. We aren't talking 10 or 20,000, but upwards of 30,000 actives and maybe that many part-timers. Enough so that Iraqi commanders can plan to lose entire companies and not sweat it.
At the same time, they are ripping apart the Iraqi auxillary force apart. 30-40 dead in each attack, which makes recruiting difficult. And it does something else: make it easier to turn Iraqi units to the resistance. If a little information sent the car bomb somewhere else, well, that's not your problem. They are breaking the morale of the Iraqi forces with every attack. They kill their leaders, shoot recruits and the US is powerless to stop this.
I'm watching Black Hawk Down, which is set in Somalia, but feels way too much like Iraq, except for one thing. The US can use helicopters there., well until they get blown from the sky. In Iraq, it's all ground movement.
The Vietnam Solution
Comparisons between the wars in Vietnam and Iraq are coming fast and furious now, so let's consider one more. There is an apt parallel between the way we got out of Vietnam and the way that we will get out of Iraq—sooner or later.
Public opinion is turning sharply against the war, even though mainstream Democrats and most Republicans are mostly sticking with the victory-in-Iraq strategy. The conditions in Iraq and here at home are strikingly similar to those we saw surrounding Vietnam at the end of the Johnson administration. Those looking for an exit strategy, take note.
In Vietnam, by the spring of 1968, it was clear to just about everyone—including our intelligence agencies—that the war was lost. The Tet Offensive made it obvious that the combined forces of North Vietnam and the Viet Cong weren't being defeated or decimated. The United States insisted that it would never talk directly or negotiate with the communist North and their allied partisans in South Vietnam, insisting that the quisling regime in Saigon was the lawful government. So the war dragged on for another five years, killing tens of thousands more Americans and hundreds of thousands more Vietnamese.
Finally, during 1972-1973, the United States did what it had previously said it wouldn't do: it essentially abandoned its puppet government in South Vietnam and began direct talks with the Vietnamese communists. The communists were magnanimous enough to give the United States a face-saving way out, rather than forcing Washington to admit that it was surrendering. And we left.
thanks to Antiwar.com
The Not-So-Long Gray Line
JUNE is the month in which West Point celebrates the commissioning of its graduating class and prepares to accept a new group of candidates eager to embrace the arduous strictures of the world's most prestigious military academy. But it can also be a cruel month, because West Pointers five years removed from graduation have fulfilled their obligations and can resign.
My class, that of 1969, set a record with more than 50 percent resigning within a few years of completing the service commitment. (My father's class, 1945, the one that "missed" World War II, was considered to be the previous record-holder, with about 25 percent resigning before they reached the 20 years of service entitling them to full retirement benefits.)
And now, from what I've heard from friends still in the military and during the two years I spent reporting from Iraq and Afghanistan, it seems we may be on the verge of a similar exodus of officers. The annual resignation rate of Army lieutenants and captains rose to 9 percent last year, the highest since before the Sept. 11 attacks. And in May, The Los Angeles Times reported on "an undercurrent of discontent within the Army's young officer corps that the Pentagon's statistics do not yet capture."
thanks to Brad DeLong's Website
by Bob Herbert
The president who displayed his contempt for Iraqi militants two years ago with the taunt "bring 'em on" had to go on television Tuesday night to urge Americans not to abandon support for the war that he foolishly started but can't figure out how to win.
tour de france
The Tour de France has started. It must be July! Here is a good site to follow the races. They have frequent live updates during each stage.
Bicycling 2005 Tour de France
Velonews 2005 Tour de France
Lance Armstrong is going for a record 7 in a row. This will also be Lance's last Tour. He started out strong in the opening time trial but there is a lot more to come and he needs to preserve himself and his team until he gets to the mountains. Here is a run down of the significant stages:
Pre-Tour Open Thread
This is a must read.
The hidden big business behind your doctor's diagnosis
You are suddenly sick, simply because the definitions of disease have changed. And behind those changes, a Seattle Times examination has found, are the companies that make all those newly prescribed pills.
The Times found that:
• Pharmaceutical firms have commandeered the process by which diseases are defined. Many decision makers at the World Health Organization, the U.S. National Institutes of Health and some of America's most prestigious medical societies take money from the drug companies and then promote the industry's agenda.
• Some diseases have been radically redefined without a strong basis in medical evidence.
• The drug industry has bolstered its position by marketing directly to the health-conscious consumer, leading younger and healthier people to consider themselves at risk and to start taking medications.
Every time the boundary of a disease is expanded — the hypertension threshold is lowered by 10 blood-pressure points, the guideline for obesity is lowered by 5 pounds — the market for drugs expands by millions of consumers and billions of dollars.
The result? Skyrocketing sales of prescription drugs. Soaring health-care costs. Escalating patient anxiety. Worst of all, millions of people taking drugs that may carry a greater risk than the underlying condition. The treatment, in fact, may make them sick or even kill them.
thanks to Conscientious
A pro-Israel lobby and an F.B.I. sting.
Unlike American neoconservatives, who have openly supported the Likud Party over the more liberal Labor Party, aipac does not generally take sides in Israeli politics. But on Iran aipac’s views resemble those of the neoconservatives. In 1996, Rosen and other aipac staff members helped write, and engineer the passage of, the Iran and Libya Sanctions Act, which imposed sanctions on foreign oil companies doing business with those two countries; aipac is determined, above all, to deny Iran the ability to manufacture nuclear weapons. Iran was a main focus of this year’s aipac policy conference, which was held in May at the Washington Convention Center. Ariel Sharon and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, among others, addressed five thousand aipac members. One hall of the convention center was taken up by a Disney-style walk-through display of an Iranian nuclear facility. It was kitsch, but not ineffective, and Rosen undoubtedly would have appreciated it. Rosen, however, was not there. He was fired earlier this year by Howard Kohr, nine months after he became implicated in an F.B.I. espionage investigation. Rosen’s lawyer, Abbe Lowell, expects him to be indicted on charges of passing secret information about Iranian intelligence activities in Iraq to an official of the Israeli Embassy and to a Washington Post reporter. A junior colleague, Keith Weissman, who served as an Iran analyst for aipac until he, too, was fired, may face similar charges.
thanks to Yolanda Flanagan
Children Without a Country
Israel's government is taking gigantic steps towards instituting a theocratic rule of control.
In the June 29 issue of Ha'aretz, Relly Sa'ar reported that Ariel Sharon's government has decided to rule against providing citizenship to children who do not fall under the principle of the "Law of Return." In many of these cases, children of immigrants are not even allowed to live in Israel with their parents. Israel's decades old "Law of Return" allows Jewish born peoples, and anyone who has a Jewish parent, grandparent or spouse, to become a citizen of the state of Israel.
Nothing more than an internal Zionist spat
The other day over dinner with two of my sons, we were discussing the upcoming "disengagement." We were talking about the soldiers who are refusing to evacuate settlers and I expressed my whole hearted support. I believe in the right of refusal based on concience, so I can't start making a distinction between different types of refusal. That is exactly the spurious tactic of the Israeli army, in trying to undermine and defeat the COs.
Moreover, I strongly believe that it is not the responsibility of the Israeli army to evacuate the settlers. The choice of leaving or staying should be their's alone, not the Israeli government's. My argument had several reasons. The explanation follows.
Check out Marja-Leena's post on the people of the reindeer. And be sure to download the free book.
Land of the Saame
As my dear readers know, I'm fascinated by the northern indigenous cultures, in particular the Saami people of northern Europe who are a branch of the Finno-Ugric family. Some time ago I came across a Finnish photography website Leuku.fi that includes a book by Pekka Antikainen: Saamenmaa or Land of the Saame. It is viewable as a PDF (7.9 MB). It's full of gorgeous yet honest photographs and stories of the land and the people, with text in both Finnish and English. He writes,
The Chinese Challenge
by Paul Krugman
Fifteen years ago, when Japanese companies were busily buying up chunks of corporate America, I was one of those urging Americans not to panic. You might therefore expect me to offer similar soothing words now that the Chinese are doing the same thing. But the Chinese challenge - highlighted by the bids for Maytag and Unocal - looks a lot more serious than the Japanese challenge ever did.
There's nothing shocking per se about the fact that Chinese buyers are now seeking control over some American companies. After all, there's no natural law that says Americans will always be in charge. Power usually ends up in the hands of those who hold the purse strings. America, which imports far more than it exports, has been living for years on borrowed funds, and lately China has been buying many of our I.O.U.'s.
Until now, the Chinese have mainly invested in U.S. government bonds. But bonds yield neither a high rate of return nor control over how the money is spent. The only reason for China to acquire lots of U.S. bonds is for protection against currency speculators - and at this point China's reserves of dollars are so large that a speculative attack on the dollar looks far more likely than a speculative attack on the yuan.
So it was predictable that, sooner or later, the Chinese would stop buying so many dollar bonds. Either they would stop buying American I.O.U.'s altogether, causing a plunge in the dollar, or they would stop being satisfied with the role of passive financiers, and demand the power that comes with ownership. And we should be relieved that at least for now the Chinese aren't dumping their dollars; they're using them to buy American companies.
China's Costly Quest for Energy Control
From the dusty plains of East Africa to the shores of the Caspian Sea, China is seeking to loosen the grip of the United States on world energy resources and secure the fuel it needs to keep its economy in overdrive.
thanks to Conscientious
The Rove Factor?
Time magazine talked to Bush's guru for Plame story.
Its legal appeals exhausted, Time magazine agreed last week to turn over reporter Matthew Cooper's e-mails and computer notes to a special prosecutor investigating the leak of an undercover CIA agent's identity. The case has been the subject of press controversy for two years. Saying "we are not above the law," Time Inc. Editor in Chief Norman Pearlstine decided to comply with a grand-jury subpoena to turn over documents related to the leak. But Cooper (and a New York Times reporter, Judith Miller) is still refusing to testify and faces jail this week.
At issue is the story of a CIA-sponsored trip taken by former ambassador (and White House critic) Joseph Wilson to investigate reports that Iraq was seeking to buy uranium from the African country of Niger. "Some government officials have noted to Time in interviews... that Wilson's wife, Valerie Plame, is a CIA official who monitors the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction," said Cooper's July 2003 Time online article.
Now the story may be about to take another turn. The e-mails surrendered by Time Inc., which are largely between Cooper and his editors, show that one of Cooper's sources was White House deputy chief of staff Karl Rove, according to two lawyers who asked not to be identified because they are representing witnesses sympathetic to the White House. Cooper and a Time spokeswoman declined to comment. But in an interview with NEWSWEEK, Rove's lawyer, Robert Luskin, confirmed that Rove had been interviewed by Cooper for the article. It is unclear, however, what passed between Cooper and Rove.
A story to watch.
I was given this book a few years ago and finally got around to reading it. A must read. It's about a little rich girl who rides around in a roadster, has servants, and solves mysteries. A pretty normal 16 year old girl during the depression. This is number 4 in the series and was written by Mildred A. Wirt Benson.
The original Nancys were full of descriptive imagery and flow, suspense and drama, and more vividly brought to life the character of Nancy as opposed to the faster paced and less descriptive flow of the revisions. Most of the originals were the work of Mildred A. Wirt Benson, who wrote 23 of the first 30 books--1-7, 11-25, and 30. Tired of what she liked to call the "namby-pamby" style of girls' series books, she had no intention of characterizing Nancy as namby-pamby. Nancy came to embody the feisty spirit of independence that emanated from Mildred. Mildred always felt that girls could do the same things as boys could and she lived her life that way. It was her take on Nancy that helped spark Nancy's widespread popularity. Her ideas of what Nancy should be were different from the more traditional finishing-girl style of Harriet Adams, and as the series went on. As a result of these differences, Nancy underwent changes at the direction of Harriet and later under Harriet's revision.
You could get a new copy but go for an old one. And it looks like those written by Mildred A. Wirt Benson are the classics and these were rewritten in the 1950s to make them more modern.
The hunting of the liberals
by David Neiwert
This bumper sticker was spotted by Left in SF over the weekend -- disturbingly, on an SUV parked among a crowd of cars out for a gay-pride rally.
These "permits" have been around for awhile now, mostly circulating on the fringes of the far right, but they've been increasingly making their way into broader circulation. One of the Minutemen described in Andy Isaacson's mash letter to that extremist phenomenon sported just such a sticker on his rig.
The people sporting such stickers, no doubt, will contend that it's just a joke -- as though such a fig leaf could disguise the violent attitudes and beliefs required to find it humorous. Next they'll argue that stickers saying "Hitler Needed to Finish the Job" are just meant to be funny.
This is, of course, just another permutation of the rising tide of eliminationist rhetoric directed at liberals. It's everywhere -- including now, thanks to Karl Rove, the highest echelons of the Bush administration.
thanks to wood s lot
Oprah Not the Only "Mad Cow in America"
Consider the Governor of Texas
A popular Texas bumper sticker reads: "The only mad cow in America is Oprah." Not anymore with the USDA announcing that the first home-grown case of mad cow to be discovered is a Texas beef cow. As Sheldon Rampton and I report in Mad Cow USA, the failure of the United States to take the measures necessary to stop the spread of the fatal dementia dubbed mad cow disease resulted from a successful PR campaign by industry and government that to this day has fooled most of the press and the public into believing that all necessary steps were taken long ago. A major part of the effort to spin and intimidate media coverage involved suing Oprah Winfrey under the Texas Food Disparagement Act after she aired a program April 16, 1996, examining mad cow risks in America.
To this day, the real 'firewall feed ban' necessary to stop mad cow disease in the United State has not been constructed. Officials of the United States Department of Agriculture simply lie to the press and public when they say, as USDA veterinarian John Clifford did on June 29, that a "ruminant to ruminant feed ban" prevents cattle protein from being fed to cattle in the US, cutting off the spread of the disease. In reality, as Clifford well knows, US animal feed regulations allow hundreds of millions of pounds of cattle blood and fat to be fed back to cattle each year, including the widespread weaning of calves on cattle blood protein in calf milk replacer and milk formula. In addition, one million tons a year of "poultry litter" is shoveled from barn floors at chicken factories and fed to cattle, although the spilled and defecated chicken feed in the litter can contain up to 30% mammalian meat and bone meal.
where did the time go?
This is an online comic that I discovered soon after I got on the web in 1995. 10 years!!??
thanks to The Cartoonist
i need to take a break
The furniture has been rearranged although there is still some painting to do — the banner will be filled up with pictures of me at approximately every 6 years. I got this idea from Ronni. I've been wanting to do it for some time. I don't have all the pictures together but if I wait for that it will never get done. It's very interesting looking at the changes over time. There is more but I need to get some real work done. Back soon.
it's time to rearrange the furniture
It's be busy this past week. Not only with trying to get actual work done but yesterday Zoe, Gerry (Zoe's mom), and I made up a mess of chickenkabobs and fired up the barby for my kids, grandkids, and some friends. A good time was had by all and the weather cooperated and the clouds parted and it was a sunny evening for a cutthroat game of extreme croquet. The last several days have been focused on shopping and cleaning. Now to catch up on some work and the rearranging of the furniture. I will be changing the layout of this blog today so things might look a little weird for a time. I will be adding a third column as a collector for books that I've read and would like to recommend for your enjoyment and/or edification. I will also be widening the central column to make more room for my photographs. I'm shooting more and would like to start including them on a regular basis. I have a mess of links that I hope to get up later today. Although the sun is out and it is a beautiful day... I hope everyone is enjoying this long weekend.