Sunday, December 31, 2006

Happy New Year's Eve!

And remember, conga lines can be dangerous:

Wanker of the Day

Because some people just don't get it:

While neither the media nor the Left will pause to take note, there are a few other numbers we can justifiably project for ourselves on this New Year's Eve, Dec. 31, 2006.

An estimated 16,692 persons were murdered nationwide in 2005, an increase of 3.4 percent from the 2004 figure.

Murder comprised 1.2 percent of the overall estimated number of violent crimes in 2005. (Based on Table 1.)

There were an estimated 5.6 murders per 100,000 inhabitants.

Based upon the 2005 figures, approximately 46 Americans are killed within our borders every day. The Iraq War officially began on March 20, 2003 - approximately 1,375 days ago. Consequently, one can project that well over 63,000 Americans have died at the hands of other Americans since the beginning of the war.

It might do a person some good to think that our media and our Left cared just that much more about the 3,000 military deaths over the same period because they were proud members of our military ... serving our country with courage, dignity and honor. Unfortunately, given that both the media and the Left seem so quick to ignore the more than 63,000 civilian deaths which have occurred during the same time period, I don't know that I will take much comfort from what will likely be their over-coverage of this particular milestone in the Iraq War.

Watch the Riehl World View site for announcements of sympathy for every single one of those murder victims during 2007.


That bit of astute political analysis was brought to you by the same man who also penned this:

All they can do, day in and day out, is bash the administration and complain about the war. In some twisted way, even Saddam almost looks more noble compared to the faceless editors of the NY Times. At least he is going to take responsibility and ultimately die for his crimes.
it's unclear if executing Saddam will help Iraq move forward, though a good case can be made that it will. Alas, it will have to do, I suppose. Unfortunately, we can't just up and execute an editor for the Times, instead ... even if eliminating such a profane source of enemy propaganda might actually help Iraq.

Heh! Watch that last bit set the Liberals off! ; )

Set us off? No. Sorry. Making oneself look absolutely pathetic by writing mindless garbage like that doesn't set me off. It just makes me shake my head over the fact that you have fans who actually think what you write is in any way valuable.

Are there any other journalists you'd like to kill, Mr Riehl?



Sunday Food for Thought

Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries. Without them humanity cannot survive.
- Dalai Lama

Around this time last year, I had a very long and at times heated discussion with an old friend of mine covering the state of our lives and our families. We have very different philosophies: he being of the conservative, capitalist bent and me being, of course, one of those bleeding-heart, non-materialistic libruls to whom money means very little.

In the midst of it all, as we pondered about how our families viewed us (and after reminding him that mine, who share much of his political perspective, tended to look down on me because I was sick and poor - not one of those 'hard-working taxpayer' types who lives for the day when they can retire and then start enjoying life somehow - if they live that long) and he asked me this question: 'What makes the world go around?'

It would have been easiest just to respond with the old cliched answer: money. But that's not what I believe. My answer, instead, was 'love'. Well. That set off a bit of a firestorm, needless to say. 'Love??' How naive could I possibly be?

As one who writes about politics and power, I know full well what may drive those with their hands on the wheel. That wasn't my point because, when it all comes down to it, if you do not have love you do not have anything. It really is that simple for me. It's only love that keeps the world on a semi-sane footing; that stops us all from killing and hurting each other with impunity; that fosters goodwill and moves us to help our fellow human beings. Every truly charitable act begins with a measure of compassion - the ability to love others as we would like to be loved. Authentic love does not cause harm. Only misguided, misunderstood love of money, idols, ideologies and power turn its expression into something that is ugly and vile.

So no. It's not money that makes the world go around.

We seem to be like flies caught in honey. Because life is sweet we do not want to give it up, and yet the more we become involved in it, the more we are trapped, limited, and frustrated. We love it and hate it at the same time. We fall in love with people and possessions only to be tortured by anxiety for them. The conflict is not only between ourselves and the surrouncing universe; it is between ourselves and ourselves. For intractable nature is both around and within us.
-Alan W Watts, The Wisdom of Insecurity

And that is how I came to writing about love today. While looking back over the past year in the world with all of its wars, torture, wounds, hatred, death and intolerance, I was reminded that the reason I feel so deeply about all of these injustices is the realization that the ongoing battle between love of money vs love of our neighbours has left some deep and serious blows in its wake. No amount of money in the world however can heal what we face today; no amount of money that is not motivated by authentic love and a committment to true peace and reconciliation.

I was also reminded that life really is about facing each moment one day at a time. That constant, longing attachments to the strong desire to heal what we all see around us in the world only stunts my ability to deal with it when it is right in front of me in the form of those closest to me and those I don't even know whom I care about while I wallow in my sorrow for them.

I've had many days when, after writing about the latest horrendous news about victims who've suffered so gravely at the hands of those who only want their deaths, I've felt that hopelessness that comes with expectations that maybe tomorrow things will get better. It's much more fruitful to see things as they are, in this moment, giving acknowledgment to those who suffer so they know they have a kindred spirit who is there in thought with them and then to take at least some action to reach out and help as much as possible in that moment. A bleeding-heart can only be of service once its own wounds are under control.

As this year comes to end, I have tried not to expect the worst from humanity and those who worship the god of money. It's with open eyes that I see yet another year ahead of all of us that will bring much more death and destruction. At this point, it's simply unavoidable. As I go through it however, and this is the only resolution I will or can make, I will resolve to be more present in my life so that it may affect others in a positive way. And that begins in this moment and the next and the one after that because that's all I do and will have.

A footnote: Life's lessons often fall hard on people. My friend found out just a few days before Christmas that he most likely has colon cancer. That's an awfully tough way to learn about the value and importance of love over money (which he so vigorously pursued without end) as his career's future is now very uncertain. At least he knows that I understand.

Free the gay sheep!

Science told: hands off gay sheep

Isabel Oakeshott and Chris Gourlay

Experiments that claim to ‘cure’ homosexual rams spark anger

SCIENTISTS are conducting experiments to change the sexuality of “gay” sheep in a programme that critics fear could pave the way for breeding out homosexuality in humans.

The technique being developed by American researchers adjusts the hormonal balance in the brains of homosexual rams so that they are more inclined to mate with ewes.

It raises the prospect that pregnant women could one day be offered a treatment to reduce or eliminate the chance that their offspring will be homosexual. Experts say that, in theory, the “straightening” procedure on humans could be as simple as a hormone supplement for mothers-to-be, worn on the skin like an anti-smoking nicotine patch.

The research, at Oregon State University in the city of Corvallis and at the Oregon Health and Science University in Portland, has caused an outcry. Martina Navratilova, the lesbian tennis player who won Wimbledon nine times, and scientists and gay rights campaigners in Britain have called for the project to be abandoned.

Navratilova defended the “right” of sheep to be gay. She said: “How can it be that in the year 2006 a major university would host such homophobic and cruel experiments?” She said gay men and lesbians would be “deeply offended” by the social implications of the tests.

But the researchers argue that the work is valid, shedding light on the “broad question” of what determines sexual orientation. They insist the work is not aimed at “curing” homosexuality.

Well then, what exactly is it aimed at?

The scientists have been able to pinpoint the mechanisms influencing the desires of “male-oriented” rams by studying their brains. The animals’ skulls are cut open and electronic sensors are attached to their brains.

By varying the hormone levels, mainly by injecting hormones into the brain, they have had “considerable success” in altering the rams’ sexuality, with some previously gay animals becoming attracted to ewes.

Paging Dr Mengele.

Update: See the debunking of this story at The Next Hurrah.

Saturday, December 30, 2006

Late Nite Video Flashback - Gimme Shelter

The Death Cult Gets Its Wish

The warbloggers got their wish. An unofficial video of Saddam Hussein's hanging is now making appearances on right-wing blog sites. (I will not link to it or watch it). But, even though this is apparently a video taken by someone present using a cellphone, it's still not enough to satisfy the drooling ghouls. Here's a comment from one of the blogs:

what is wrong with these filthy subhuman arabs? can not one SINGLE one hold a damn camera properly?? i got seasick watching this video as apparently the cameraman was also swinging by the neck filiming it...

sheesh. so much for a great video.

Posted by: Jeremy Givens at December 30, 2006 08:41 PM

That says it all about how utterly and disturbingly hateful these sick, twisted death cheerleaders are.

Religious Displays on Military Bases

Buried in a Canadian Press article about soldiers finding faith in foxholes in Afghanistan, I ran across this tidbit:

Across from the Canuck Kaf-eh eatery is a giant banner from the Petawawa Faith Fest [ed. note: put on by Christian Media]. "God Bless Our Troops" reads the banner, with a Maple Leaf on each side. It quotes Joshua 1:9; "I command you. Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or discouraged for the Lord, your God, is with you wherever you go."

Why does our military allow such blatantly open displays of Christianity (which do not appear to be connected to a chapel) on our military bases when all of our soldiers are covered by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms which includes freedom of belief? Then again, since the Kandahar Airfield base is controlled by the Americans, is it any wonder that such displays would be prominent in a predominantly Muslim country?

Who Controls Canada's War Reporting?

Our allies in the Afghanistan war, apparently.

OTTAWA (CP) - Canadian military officials removed four journalists accompanying troops on an Afghanistan operation earlier this year after complaints from allies, newly released documents show.

The abrupt end to the so-called embedding of the reporters, who were extracted by helicopter in early April, suggests the vaunted program is creating friction among Canada's fighting partners.

"Media embedded with Canadian troops conducting operations with coalition forces generate discomfort amongst allies," Maj. Marc Theriault, a public affairs officer in Kandahar, warned Ottawa hours before the journalists' removal.

In a later communication, he added: "Despite our explanations, most allied nations consider our media posture as very progressive and risky."

In other words, they tell the truth. That's the definition of 'progressive and risky'.

A defence official later identified the media members as Globe and Mail columnist Christie Blatchford, photographer Louie Palu, Toronto Star columnist Rosie DiManno and Ontario-based freelance filmmaker Richard Fitoussi.

They were with The Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry battle group, which was operating with U.S. Special Forces at the time.

In an interview, Fitoussi said "it's pretty well known that Canada has the best embedding program there, and most of the NATO countries there are giving Canada a hard time about it."
Military officials in Ottawa have indicated that placating Canada's allies will always take precedence over the embedding program.

It's bad enough we have one of the most secretive, press-eschewing prime ministers ever but when our allies complain about the members of our free press reporting from a war zone because of their 'discomfort' - an extremely low standard offering no proof that our journalists are actually doing anything wrong - our right to know what's happening on the ground is in jeopardy when their requests to censor them are granted.

Overall, fortunately, we still have many media personnel who are allowed to embed with the troops but pandering to allies for no justifiable reason ought to raise a real red flag.

Canadians are a bizarre bunch...

Or maybe it's just those among us who use Yahoo! to search for news.

These are the Yahoo! Canada's top 10 news search results:

1. OLGC*
2. Halloween
3. Dancing With the Stars
4. Toronto Maple Leafs
5. Shanna Moakler
6. People Magazine
7. Lotto 649
8. Tia Carrere
9. Iran
10. Income trusts

*Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation

Halloween?? Dancing With the Stars?? Tia Carrere??

I suppose it good to know that at least someone in the country is concerned about real things like Iran and the income trust scandal!

So, we can conclude a few things from these search results:

1. People looking for important news stories probably use Google (until we find out the results of those searches for this year).
2. People who use Yahoo's news search most likely buy supermarket tabloids too.
3. Canadians just really don't give a crap.
4. We're just a bunch of gambling, starstruck trick or treaters with an occasional interest in money scandals and possible nukes.
5. All of the above.

Iraq: The Nightmare Continues

While we've all been distracted by Saddam's execution, the reality on the ground continues to get exponentially worse.

Bombs in Shi'ite areas kill 72 after Saddam hanged

Deadliest month for U.S. in Iraq in two years

And the US approaches a very grim milestone:

The latest deaths take the number of U.S. military deaths in Iraq since the invasion of March 2003 to 2,998...

About 90 percent of Iraqis feel the situation in the country was better before the U.S.-led invasion than it is today... and that is sadly reflected by bloggers like riverbend who has lived through the horrors.

A new US military poll shows deteriorating support for the war amongst the troops.

For the first time, more troops disapprove of the president’s handling of the war than approve of it. Barely one-third of service members approve of the way the president is handling the war.

When the military was feeling most optimistic about the war — in 2004 — 83 percent of poll respondents thought success in Iraq was likely. This year, that number has shrunk to 50 percent.

Only 35 percent of the military members polled this year said they approve of the way President Bush is handling the war, while 42 percent said they disapproved. The president’s approval rating among the military is only slightly higher than for the population as a whole.

The military has metaphorically deserted its commander-in-chief. What could possibly fix that? When you have lost your troops, you have lost the war.

It's all over but the withdrawal.

Saddam's Execution: The Apologists Speak

The carefully crafted messages have been prepared and delivered by the major foreign apologists for the Iraq war who have stood by the boy king during his horrendous campaign of death and destruction in the Middle East.

Guided perhaps by at least a twinge of guilt (one would hope) for contributing to the nightmare by playing along as steadfast allies even in the face of the fact that every single one of them, pushed by the Bush/Cheney/Rumsfeld/PNAC regime, were so utterly wrong when they assumed that Saddam Hussein was an immediate threat to the region and that he possessed WMD, they still continue to be but mere, transparent echoes of the man who is so blind to the meaning of justice - inserting their extremely minor objections in the form of the useless word 'but' which negates everything they supposedly stand for in the first place - that their still willful pandering is staggering.

Britain, a staunch U.S. ally in the 2003 invasion of Iraq, reiterated its opposition to the death penalty, but said the sentence rested on Iraqi shoulders.

"We oppose the death penalty in all cases, regardless of the individual or the crime," said Rob Tinline, spokesman for the British Foreign Office. "[But] it's an Iraqi trial, with Iraqi defendants, in an Iraqi court — it's a decision for the Iraqi authorities."
Thomas Steg, spokesman for the German government, said Germany rejects the death penalty, but understands it is allowed under Iraqi law.

"There is no indication that these court proceedings in Iraq, including the appeals process, were not conducted in accordance with the legal principles there," he said.

There is also no coincidence in the fact that all of these major allies are touting 'due process'. They are simply following the lead once again of the man who is so corrupted by his own power that he believes he has the absolute right to define and authorize torture, strip detainees and kidnap victims of their legal right to habeus corpus while shielding the perpetrators with immunity from prosecution, spy on American citizens without following proper legal channels, imprison immigrants in the case of an 'immigration emergency', and to refuse justice for people like Canada's Maher Arar whose appeal against the US government for his rendition to and torture in Syria was dismissed on the grounds of so-called 'national security' while still declaring him to be a threat to the United States with absolutely no evidence to back up such a claim. The concept of 'due process' in America is dead.

Yet, Bush had the audacity to issue this statement following the execution of Saddam Hussein:

Today, Saddam Hussein was executed after receiving a fair trial -- the kind of justice he denied the victims of his brutal regime.

Fair trials were unimaginable under Saddam Hussein's tyrannical rule. It is a testament to the Iraqi people's resolve to move forward after decades of oppression that, despite his terrible crimes against his own people, Saddam Hussein received a fair trial. This would not have been possible without the Iraqi people's determination to create a society governed by the rule of law.

And the fact that his ally puppets actually agree that so-called 'justice' has been done ought to be a clear signal to their citizens their rights are also in jeopardy.

Australian Prime Minister John Howard said due process in accordance with Iraqi law was followed leading up to the execution.

"And I believe there's something quite heroic about a country that's going through the pain and suffering that Iraq is going through, it still extends due process to somebody who was a tyrant and a brutal suppressor and murderer of his people."

This whole affair was not about heroism. It was about political expediency and bowing to US pressure. Period.

There is no evidence that the Iraqi government has a free hand in any of its affairs except, perhaps, the right it has granted its judicial system to impose death. To hail what occured during Saddam's trial as anything resembling 'due process' or the 'rule of law' exposes a major deficit in the understanding of human, civil and legal rights. And if leaders of western democracies are unable and unwilling to honestly assess such a gross violation of justice for exactly what it is while pardoning the Iraq government for its use of the death penalty, which is the most egregious violation of all human rights, what hope is there for enlightenment and progress?

Related: You can read more reactions from other world leaders here. Our prime minister has yet to release a statement.

Friday, December 29, 2006

Sometimes, there is a glimmer of justice...

As soon as the news broke about the execution of Saddam Hussein this evening, my blog experienced a sudden rush of hits from people who may have thought I might have the video of his hanging - or perhaps they were looking for a kindred spirit who has similarly been saddened by the lack of humanity this whole event has displayed. They were led here from this Tailrank page and they wound up reading this post of mine.

Maybe someone along that path read what I wrote and had second thoughts if they were looking for the video. I don't know if that happened, but the thought can at least bring me some comfort.

An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind.
- Mahatma Gandhi

You will not be punished for your anger, you will be punished by your anger.
- Buddha

The Legacy of Saddam's Execution

The ever poignant and brutally honest Robert Fisk:

...I have catalogued his monstrous crimes over the years. I have talked to the Kurdish survivors of Halabja and the Shia who rose up against the dictator at our request in 1991 and who were betrayed by us - and whose comrades, in their tens of thousands, along with their wives, were hanged like thrushes by Saddam's executioners.

I have walked round the execution chamber of Abu Ghraib - only months, it later transpired, after we had been using the same prison for a few tortures and killings of our own - and I have watched Iraqis pull thousands of their dead relatives from the mass graves of Hilla. One of them has a newly-inserted artificial hip and a medical identification number on his arm. He had been taken directly from hospital to his place of execution. Like Donald Rumsfeld, I have even shaken the dictator's soft, damp hand. Yet the old war criminal finished his days in power writing romantic novels.

It was my colleague, Tom Friedman - now a messianic columnist for The New York Times - who perfectly caught Saddam's character just before the 2003 invasion: Saddam was, he wrote, "part Don Corleone, part Donald Duck". And, in this unique definition, Friedman caught the horror of all dictators; their sadistic attraction and the grotesque, unbelievable nature of their barbarity.

But that is not how the Arab world will see him. At first, those who suffered from Saddam's cruelty will welcome his execution. Hundreds wanted to pull the hangman's lever. So will many other Kurds and Shia outside Iraq welcome his end. But they - and millions of other Muslims - will remember how he was informed of his death sentence at the dawn of the Eid al-Adha feast, which recalls the would-be sacrifice by Abraham, of his son, a commemoration which even the ghastly Saddam cynically used to celebrate by releasing prisoners from his jails. "Handed over to the Iraqi authorities," he may have been before his death. But his execution will go down - correctly - as an American affair and time will add its false but lasting gloss to all this - that the West destroyed an Arab leader who no longer obeyed his orders from Washington, that, for all his wrongdoing (and this will be the terrible get-out for Arab historians, this shaving away of his crimes) Saddam died a "martyr" to the will of the new "Crusaders".

When he was captured in November of 2003, the insurgency against American troops increased in ferocity. After his death, it will redouble in intensity again. Freed from the remotest possibility of Saddam's return by his execution, the West's enemies in Iraq have no reason to fear the return of his Baathist regime. Osama bin Laden will certainly rejoice, along with Bush and Blair. And there's a thought. So many crimes avenged.

But we will have got away with it.

Update: Word of Saddam's execution was released by the US controlled television stations Al Hurra and al Arabiya which, CNN analysts reported, 'scooped' Iraq's state-run station. It is also being reported that the execution took place at 6:05am which is after the beginning of Eid. Although the US administration had stated that it wanted to remain 'distant' from the hanging, it has now managed to stage a major PR nightmare as it reminds everyone of who's really in charge in Iraq.

Another Nail in Kyoto's Coffin

If Steve and his sidekick Rona actually had a viable environmental plan on the go, dismantling some of the aspects of the Kyoto protocol wouldn't be seen as such a death blow. Then there's that pesky fact that Canada is actually a signator to the treaty but when have treaties ever stopped right-wingers from doing whatever they want to anyway? See: Bush, George.

And it also doesn't help that Ambrose was caught blatantly lying about what the Liberals actually did do under the treaty either just to pump up anti-Kyoto cries by those who would rather smother than fight.

So, it's no surprise that while Canadians are busy enjoying their holidays, Steve's government has decided to ax the adviser to the previous government which also kills the Climate fund.

Critics said the move torpedoes the Canada Emission Reduction Incentives Agency, also called the Climate Fund, and suggested Harper does not intend to soften his opposition to government funding for the reduction of greenhouse gases.

The program is the latest in a series of Kyoto-inspired measures -- including home-energy incentives, wind-energy development and an alternative-fuels program -- to be scuttled by the Conservatives, Liberal MP John Godfrey said.

And what are the tories offering in place of those programs? Well there's...ummm...let's see...well there must be something...hmmmm. Oh yes. There's this. No wait. That's Bush's. Oh here it is. All right. That's not exactly it either but when a Sun newspaper is criticizing a tory PM, you know there's trouble.

Coming next week: Canadians Ordered to Only Use Light Bulbs in Extreme Emergencies (Darkness not Included)

And so this is justice?

CNN's reporters are now officially on the 24/7 Saddam Death Watch - eagerly covering every rumour and possible move towards his inevitable demise. I'm surprised the network doesn't have a fancy new graphic banner for the event. They're almost as excited as sportscasters before the Superbowl. It's nauseating.

"This afternoon I have a message for the Iraqi people: This is further assurance that the torture chambers and the secret police are gone forever. You will not have to fear the rule of Saddam Hussein ever again."
- George W Bush on the capture of Saddam Hussein, December 2003

No, but they certainly had much to fear from Bush - as they and people from around the world would come to learn over the coming years.

An editorial in Friday's Washington Post echoes the misguided sentiments of those who don't really care about the concept of true justice. No one demanded perfection, yet that is the strawman the WaPo editors use to set up their argument for the dismissal of the mockery that was Hussein's trial:

For those who oppose the death penalty, as we do, any execution is regrettable -- and this one, should it come to pass, will follow highly imperfect judicial proceedings and may in the short term inflame sectarian divisions. But it's hard to imagine the death penalty existing anywhere for any crime and not for Saddam Hussein -- a man who, with the possible exception of Kim Jong Il, has more blood on his hands than anyone else alive. Should the world see his end in the coming days, the justice will be imperfect. But it will still be justice.

Will it? Ponder this:

How soon the Washington Post forgets one of its most important stories of years gone by:

The Reagan administration and its special Middle East envoy, Donald Rumsfeld, did little to stop Iraq developing weapons of mass destruction in the 1980s, even though they knew Saddam Hussein was using chemical weapons "almost daily" against Iran, it was reported yesterday.

US support for Baghdad during the Iran-Iraq war as a bulwark against Shi'ite militancy has been well known for some time, but using declassified government documents, the Washington Post provided new details yesterday about Mr Rumsfeld's role, and about the extent of the Reagan administration's knowledge of the use of chemical weapons.

The details will embarrass Mr Rumsfeld, who as defence secretary in the Bush administration is one of the leading hawks on Iraq, frequently denouncing it for its past use of such weapons.

The US provided less conventional military equipment than British or German companies but it did allow the export of biological agents, including anthrax; vital ingredients for chemical weapons; and cluster bombs sold by a CIA front organisation in Chile, the report says.

Intelligence on Iranian troop movements was provided, despite detailed knowledge of Iraq's use of nerve gas.


Where's the 'justice' for that?

And where's the 'justice' for this?

And this?

And this?

And this?

Do the Iraqis deserve piecemeal, flawed justice bent solely on revenge for all that has happened to them and their country at the hands of US administrations as well? Or should they, as all truly fair and functioning democracies are supposed to provide, demand and receive what is really due to them: nothing less than the best processes that would be afforded to victims of horrendous crimes? You do not honour victims by making them complicit in political judicial games. You honour them by ensuring that their rights and those of the accused are fully respected.

Justice is conscience, not a personal conscience but the conscience of the whole of humanity. Those who clearly recognize the voice of their own conscience usually recognize also the voice of justice.
- Alexander Solzhenitsyn

When will our consciences grow so tender that we will act to prevent human misery rather than avenge it?
- Eleanor Roosevelt

Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.
- Martin Luther King Jr

Related: Dahr Jamail reports from Baghdad about the reaction in Iraq to the pending execution of Hussein.

Update: Saddam's lawyers have have petitioned a US court to block the release of Hussein from US custody and are seeking a stay of execution.

A similar request by the former chief justice of the Revolutionary Court, Awad Hamed al-Bandar, was denied Thursday and is under appeal. Al-Bandar also faces execution. The Justice Department argued in that case that U.S. courts have no jurisdiction to interfere with the judicial process of another country.

Al-Bandar argued that his trial violated his rights under the U.S. Constitution but Justice countered that foreigners being tried in foreign courts are not protected by the U.S. Constitution.

Update: The execution was carried out.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Why You Need Fewer Joe Liebermans in US Congress

I'm a non-violent person but I can definitely understand why some people would like to give Joe Lieberman a smack upside the head to try to knock some sense in him when he writes Bush butt-kissing drivel like this*:

Why We Need More Troops in Iraq

By Joseph Lieberman
Friday, December 29, 2006; Page A27

I've just spent 10 days traveling in the Middle East and speaking to leaders there, all of which has made one thing clearer to me than ever: While we are naturally focused on Iraq, a larger war is emerging.

Yeah...hello? Joe? It took you a trip to the ME now to figure that out? Sheesh.

And note how he gratuitously throws in 9/11 there to score some pity points in the very same paragraph about the Iraq war:

How we end the struggle there will affect not only the region but the worldwide war against the extremists who attacked us on Sept. 11, 2001.

Guess what Joe? Everybody and their dog knows that Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11 so pack up that tired, old talking point. It's done. Fini. You don't even have a clue where OBL is thanks to your buddy president's mad idea of invading Iraq, leaving him to wander freely, and it has been widely reported that foreign fighters make up only from 4- 10% of the insurgency. Iraq is in the midst of a civil war (which you are still in denial about) and US troops should no longer be there. Period.

Because of the bravery of many Iraqi and coalition military personnel and the recent coming together of moderate political forces in Baghdad, the war is winnable. We and our Iraqi allies must do what is necessary to win it.

Please refer to 'Old Talking Points - Pre-election 2006' once again. Unless "winnable' now means being totally fubared.

The American people are justifiably frustrated by the lack of progress, and the price paid by our heroic troops and their families has been heavy. But what is needed now, especially in Washington and Baghdad, is not despair but decisive action -- and soon.

Oh for crap's sake, Joe. Decisive action was needed in 2002 (and long before that) when the neocons were planning this hopeless invasion and occupation. Where were you then? Cheerleading for the war, of course, and then shamelessly, literally kissing Bush as if he was some exalted saviour of the Middle East and more specifically Israel (which is really what this is all about for you, Joe).

Oh this critique is just too painful.

The rest of it is just basically' blah, blah, blah, surge, blah, blah, blah, excuse me while I continue to live in complete oblivion and blah, blah, blah followed by the Greatest Myth™ of them all:

Rather than engaging in hand-wringing, carping or calls for withdrawal, we must summon the vision, will and courage to take the difficult and decisive steps needed for success and, yes, victory in Iraq. That will greatly advance the cause of moderation and freedom throughout the Middle East and protect our security at home.

Prove it, Joe. Prove it.

McCain/Lieberman '08? Why not? They seem to be sharing the same brain cell on this issue.

*Sidebar: I'm still feeling sick and yes, I'm crankier than usual so wankertude coming from people like Lieberman grates on my last nerve - not that I'd be much nicer to him if I was feeling better anyway...

Drooling Over Saddam's Hanging

It's just plain sickening: 'Iraqis to videotape Saddam execution; I’ll do everything in my power to get it for you.'

Iraqi officials also said that Saddam's final moments will be videotaped by the government, reports CBS News correspondent Randall Pinkston.

"We will video everything," National Security adviser Mouffak al Rubaie said. "All documentation will be videoed. Taking him from cell to the execution is going to be videoed, and the actual execution will be documented and videoed."

Iraqis, members of the coalition and international representatives will witness the execution, Pinkston reports. It's not clear whether the videotape will be broadcast on Iraqi television.

Warbloggers who are salivating over the idea of posting this video so they can get their flipping jollies off by watching another human being die, regardless of the fact that Saddam was a tyrant, exemplify just how worshipping executions is so grossly sick.

They don't give a damn at all that his trial was an absolute farce or that he still has a legal right of appeal. They are not at all concerned with the ongoing legal debate about whether the Iraqi tribunal even had the right to sentence him to death. They don't seem to care that warnings have been issued about more attacks against their soldiers should this death penalty be carried out.

No. They want to pop their popcorn and watch a good old-fashioned hanging.

I'm anti-death penalty. Yes, even in the case of a horrendous dictator like Saddam Hussein who did absolutely unthinkable things to his citizens. But I am even more anti-people who think that watching an execution so they can feel good is some sort of cure-all for what ails them. And, in the case of warbloggers who've lost the Iraq war on every single front while claiming to support the troops who keep on dying for no bloody reason except for Bush's madness and feigning a slight interest in the hundreds of thousands of Iraqis who have also perished in this folly of 'freedom is on the [fucking] march' (in between attacking the war correspondents who are covering the hell that is this war), I suppose their lust for at least one victory in the form of a public hanging that they can replay to their hearts' content will satisfy their corrupted souls. They should not be granted that warped sense of ghoulish satisfaction. They don't deserve it since they've continually supported Bushco's war crimes without even blinking an eye.

What will they say when someday Bush sits in that prisoner's box? Will they want real justice for him or just some show trial and a quick public end as well?

The shoe looks different on the other foot, doesn't it?

Related: And so this is justice?

'If we catch you, you will die"

I had just finished reading this story about Operation Baaz Tsuka (or Operation Falcon's Summit) by Canadian troops in Afghanistan - which, if you just woke up out of a coma today and hadn't followed the previous tank movements and aerial bombings of the region, you'd be forgiven for thinking was some kind of cakewalk flowers and candy mission (even though the National Post also ran this story on Dec 23)- when I also found this story about the offensive from last week via CTV: 'Soft approach working in Operation Baaz Tsuka' showing leaflets that NATO is dropping in the area.

Now, tell me. What's (literally) wrong with this picture?

That leaflet says 'If we catch you, you will die'.

That goes against Geneva Convention relative to the Treatment of Prisoners of War.

1. Persons taking no active part in the hostilities, including members of armed forces who have laid down their arms and those placed hors de combat by sickness, wounds, detention, or any other cause, shall in all circumstances be treated humanely, without any adverse distinction founded on race, colour, religion or faith, sex, birth or wealth, or any other similar criteria.

To this end the following acts are and shall remain prohibited at any time and in any place whatsoever with respect to the above-mentioned persons:

(a) Violence to life and person, in particular murder of all kinds, mutilation, cruel treatment and torture;

(b) Taking of hostages;

(c) Outrages upon personal dignity, in particular, humiliating and degrading treatment;

(d) The passing of sentences and the carrying out of executions without previous judgment pronounced by a regularly constituted court affording all the judicial guarantees which are recognized as indispensable by civilized peoples.

So, why is NATO spreading propaganda in Afghanistan with an illegal message that POWs will 'die' if they are caught? Is it not bound by the rules of war all of a sudden? Is that what Canadians support? Threatening the enemy with actions that contravene the Geneva Conventions? And why doesn't anyone in the government or the military seem to care?

Is that the message we want our troops and country connected with? That we kill our POWs?

Edwards Joins the '08 Presidential Race

Run, John, Run!

What's not to like?

Dec. 28, 2006 — Former Democratic vice presidential nominee John Edwards has confirmed to ABC News that he will formally announce today he's running for president in 2008.

"Today is the day. I'm announcing I'm a candidate for president of the United States today," Edwards told ABC's George Stephanopoulos on "Good Morning America."

Speaking from New Orleans, where he's engaged in rebuilding communities ravaged by Hurricane Katrina, Edwards says he's running because he wants to encourage young people to take action to change their country.

"I want to engage millions of people into taking responsibility, taking action. … Finding ways for all of us to help," he said.

Edwards also voiced his opinion about the war in Iraq, saying he was against President Bush's plan to increase troop levels there.

"I think it would be a huge mistake to put a surge of troops into Iraq. … Nobody who says we should put 20,000 or 100,000 more troops in Iraq can say that's going to be successful," he said. "The underlying problem is not a military problem, it's a political problem."

Edwards told Stephanopoulos his vote for the Iraq War when he was a senator was a mistake, but says unlike Bush, he is willing to admit a mistake and be open with the American people, something he says is lacking in Washington these days.

And he's cute too. Swoon. That's a bonus after looking at Bush's ugly mug for 6 years.

AP Photo

Go Johnny!

Wanker(s) of the Day

Harry Reid will be missing Gerald Ford's funeral because he is going on a scheduled trip to South America with 5 senators. Well...needless to say...the reaction from some on the right is absolutely predictable:

It says a lot about the character of the new Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid that he would blow off the state funeral of Gerald Ford, the least partisan of our most recent presidents, in order to get in a little holiday sight seeing and engage in some hobnobbing with South American leftists.
Harry Reid seems to have a dead spot in his soul where empathy usually resides in the rest of us. Blowing off the government of the United States, his colleagues, the Ford family, and history itself is just the latest in series of actions and statements that show Reid to be unfit to follow in the footsteps of giants like Mansfield, LBJ, and the venerable wise man George Mitchell – all of whom would have blanched in horror at the prospect of the Majority Leader of the Senate missing a high affair of state such as a presidential funeral.

'blanched in horror'. Yes, siree. Because Mr Right Wing Nut House knows exactly how some dead politicians would react to the fact that Harry Reid and...wait a minute...what's this? 'Other senators making the trip are Kent Conrad, D-N.D., Judd Gregg, R-N.H., Robert Bennett, R-Utah, and Ken Salazar, D-Colo'. Republican senators are making the trip (which is being dubbed by the wingers as a 'vacation' and 'holiday sight-seeing') to talk to the presidents of Bolivia, Ecuador and Peru too? You wouldn't know those facts unless you read the full AP article because Monsieur Nut House sure isn't telling anybody about that. (Interesting to note that he is also relying on an AP story - a media organization he's certainly enjoyed bashing along with the rest of CSI: Bloggerville for not telling the truth that they like to hear.)

I guess those Republican senators get a pass because All Powerful Harry™ stuffed them into the plane against their wishes and whisked them off to South America under duress just to embarass them by not allowing them to go to Ford's funeral either. Bad Harry! Evil Harry! Next thing you know, he'll be demanding ransom for them no doubt because that's just how those Democrats with dead spots in their souls are. Everybody knows that.

Sheesh. Get over the faux outrage already. You're embarassing yourselves - again.

The Truth Hurts

Leave it to the right-wingers like Jules Crittenden to bash those like Woodward who decided to let the world know, as Gerald Ford had wanted following his death, that he disagreed with Bush's invasion of Iraq. Yet, while Crittenden bashes Woodward for disgracing Ford (somehow), he actually bashes Ford too:

Disappointing that Ford agreed to attack a sitting president's decisions on condition they not be aired until he is dead, despite the distinct possibility that would be within the sitting president's term. Disappointing that his arguments are so simplistic, at least in this presentation, and fail to address the real threat to U.S. national interest that Saddam presented and the corruption and collapse of 12 years of sanctions that was underway at the time of the invasion. Disgusting that Woodward lacks the decency to sit on this at least until after the funeral.

You're supposed to be a journalist Crittenden. Just how long would you have waited if you had this scoop?

What's 'disappointing' and 'disgusting' is that even after all of the damage the boy king has caused, you can't handle the truth being out there. But you just keep defending the Iraq war as you gulp down that next gallon of kool-aid. Bush will then have Laura, Barney and you to back him up til the bitter end. I'm sure that will be a comfort to him. Read my lips: Saddam posed no threat to the US. When you have actual proof that he did, get back to me.

From the WaPo article:

In a conversation that veered between the current realities of a war in the Middle East and the old complexities of the war in Vietnam whose bitter end he presided over as president, Ford took issue with the notion of the United States entering a conflict in service of the idea of spreading democracy.

"Well, I can understand the theory of wanting to free people," Ford said, referring to Bush's assertion that the United States has a "duty to free people." But the former president said he was skeptical "whether you can detach that from the obligation number one, of what's in our national interest." He added: "And I just don't think we should go hellfire damnation around the globe freeing people, unless it is directly related to our own national security."
Describing his own preferred policy toward Saddam Hussein's Iraq, Ford said he would not have gone to war, based on the publicly available information at the time, and would have worked harder to find an alternative. "I don't think, if I had been president, on the basis of the facts as I saw them publicly," he said, "I don't think I would have ordered the Iraq war. I would have maximized our effort through sanctions, through restrictions, whatever, to find another answer."

The 's' word: sanctions. How 'librul' of Ford. Ouch.

You can also read about what a whiney-ass Kissinger was - that so-called bastion of power.

Ford made several mistakes, including pardoning Nixon, but at least he was honest about the Iraq war and if he felt he could not express his views while he was alive in order to maintain some diplomacy on the matter, he let Woodward speak for him upon his death. People like Crittenden would prefer that Ford never gave voice to his thoughts. Whatever happened to freedom of speech and why would anyone want to try to protect George W Bush anymore? The man is a complete failure.

Patriotism means to stand by the country. It does not mean to stand by the president or any other public official...

~Theodore Roosevelt

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Mr Accountability Gets Busted

What was all of that pompous crap you were spewing about accountability, Steve?

After months of heated denials, the federal Conservative party has quietly admitted it failed to publicly disclose hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of donations.

That means at least three party members — including Prime Minister Stephen Harper — donated more than the legal limit last year.

Last Thursday, the party filed a revised financial report for 2005 with Elections Canada, acknowledging that it did not report delegate fees collected for its national convention that year as donations, contrary to political financing laws.

In the revised report, the Conservatives have "reclassified revenue related to the 2005 convention," disclosing an additional $539,915 in previously unreported donations, an extra $913,710 in "other revenue," and an additional $1.45 million in "other expenses."

The report does not explain what constitutes "other revenue" or "other expenses."

Moreover, the party reports almost $700,000 in previously undisclosed transfers from riding associations, presumably accounting for ridings that helped subsidize the cost of attending the Montreal policy convention for their delegates.
Opposition parties say the Conservatives are guilty of either gross ignorance or deliberately flouting the law.

"The reality is it sounds like they broke a lot of laws and they're going to have to be answering for that, no doubt about it," said Liberal MP Mark Holland, who added that the Tories are probably hoping nobody notices their admission over the holidays.


Excuse me while I enjoy this for just a moment...mwahahahahaha.

Flipping hypocrites.

Bush, War, Healing & Weariness

According to David Ignatius in the Washington Post, Bush is 'weary', anguished and no longer in a state of denial.

This is what weariness looks like, Mr Ignatius.

LEONARDTOWN, Md. (AP) -- An Army Reservist despondent about being sent to Iraq was killed by police during a 14-hour standoff that began Christmas night when family members told authorities he was armed and threatening to kill himself.
Dean had already served 18 months in Afghanistan and was despondent after learning recently that he would be deployed to Iraq, family members told police.

And denial looks exactly like this:

Bush's "state of denial," as Bob Woodward rightly called it, has officially ended. He actually spoke the words "We're not winning" last week in an interview with The Post, coupling it with the reverse: "We're not losing." But in truth, he cannot abide the possibility that Iraq will not end in victory. So a day after his "not winning" comment, he half took it back, saying: "I believe that we're going to win," and then adding oddly, as if to reassure himself: "I believe that -- and by the way, if I didn't think that, I wouldn't have our troops there. That's what you've got to know. We're going to succeed."

What's going on in the White House is not the equivalent of some 'poignant' reality TV show, no matter how much people like David Ignatius want to characterize it as such. The true reality is happening on the ground in Iraq and Afghanistan, in the military hospitals where soldiers try to recover from having their legs and arms blown off, in the homes of those whose sons and daughters are no longer here to spend the holidays with, in the homes of Afghans and Iraqis who must hide in terror or be killed.

If Bush is indeed 'weary' or in 'anguish' it's only because he knows that history will not be kind to him since his so-called legacy as a great warrior president means everything to him.

This is not the attitude of a man who knows he's been defeated:

Policy debates in this White House are often described as battles between competing advisers -- Dick Cheney wants this; the Joint Chiefs favor that; Condi Rice favors a third outcome. This kind of analysis implies that Bush isn't really master of his own house, but I think it's a big mistake. The truth is that with this president, the only opinion that finally matters is his own. And he's a stubborn man. Military leaders can tell him it's a mistake to surge troops into Baghdad, but that doesn't mean he will listen.

It would be a huge mistake and an insult to the American, Iraqi and Afghan people to believe that Bush's weariness reflects anything other than selfish concerns. He may claim to be in pain over those who have died in these wars but, if that pain meant anything to him, he would do everything he could to end what's causing it.

It's ironic that with the passing of Gerald Ford this week, the world is reminded of his words when he attained the presidency: 'My fellow Americans, our long national nightmare is over.' Ford is being remembered as a man of healing after Watergate and the Vietnam war. Yet, here we are again, just 30 years later, in the midst of more wars, dealing with the effects of Republican corruption and an administration so afraid of the truth that it has trashed the constitution.

The long, national nightmare never really ended after all.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Sick Day


Santa gave me a bug for xmas. Nausea, cramps, bodily fluids ejected in a projectile fashion, chills, cramps, fever. It's not a pretty site.

Where's my cabana boy?

Way to go there, Bush...

BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- Iraqi and Iranian authorities slammed the United States on Monday for having arrested several Iranians who were visiting Iraq.

A U.S. official said the Iranians were suspected of involvement in attacks against Iraqi security forces.

Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Seyyed Mohammad Ali Hosseini warned that "this action is not justifiable by any international rules or regulations and will have unpleasant consequences," Iran's semi-official Mehr news agency reported.

A spokesman for Iraqi President Jalal Talabani said Talabani had invited the Iranians to the country, and the president was "unhappy" about the arrests.

The U.S. National Security Council confirmed that the American military arrested at least four Iranians in raids during the past week in Iraq, including two diplomats.

NSC spokesman Gordon Johndroe said the two diplomats were questioned, turned over to the Iraqi government and released.

At least two others, who are members of the Iranian military, remain in U.S. military custody while an investigation is conducted on whether they were involved in attacks on security forces in Iraq, Johndroe said.

The U.S. military has not responded to requests for comment.

Well of course it hasn't. Own up to mistakes? That takes a full-blown investigation and at least a few months if not years before the whisper of 'sorry about that - war is hell' makes it way out of the lips of the Pentagon spokesrobot.

Talabani's spokesman said the Iraqi president had invited the Iranian officials during his visit to Tehran. It was done "in the framework of an agreement to improve security in Iraq." The spokesman described the Iranians as "security officials."

So much for that.

Iraqi government: 'Yeah, stop by sometime. We'll talk.'

US military: 'Look! Iranians!!'

Iraqi government: 'Whoops. Sorry to hear you got arrested. We're a sovereign country. How did that happen?'

Related: And meanwhile, following the raid by UK troops on the police station in Basra, the local government there is outraged:

Basra City Council has said it will not co-operate from UK forces in southern Iraq after the police's serious crimes unit was disbanded by troops.

More than 1,000 troops blew up a police station run by the unit, which has been blamed for robberies and death squads.

Major Charlie Burbridge said local politics was "complicated" and the actions had been justified.

Mohammed al Abadi, head of the city's council, said the raid was illegal and threatened to stop co-operation.

Basra police commander Brigadier General Ali Ibrahim also expressed similar views.

"This storming operation is illegal and violates human rights," he said. "We think that what the operation sought to achieve is very simple and could have been settled by Iraqi troops."

Looks like this occupation thing is starting to wear very thin.

Monday, December 25, 2006

Ethopia Declares War on Somalia this is Christmas, Part 2.

MOGADISHU, Somalia (Reuters) -- Ethiopian warplanes attacked two Islamist-held airfields Monday in Somalia, including in the capital, Mogadishu, in the most dramatic strikes yet of a war threatening to engulf the Horn of Africa.

Witnesses said the attacks came hours after neighboring Ethiopia formally declared war, saying it was protecting its sovereignty against an Islamist movement.
The week of intense fighting between Islamists and the Ethiopian- and Western- backed secular interim government has turned long-running hostilities into open war.

Analysts say Ethiopia seems to have halted the initial Islamist assault and saved the government from being overrun.

For now...

What's America going to do this time around? They certainly don't want a replay of Blackhawk Down.

Update: The New York Times has more:

Ethiopia officially plunged into war with Somalia’s Islamist forces on Sunday, bombing targets inside Somalia and pushing ground troops deep into Somali territory in a major escalation that could turn Somalia’s internal crisis into a violent religious conflict that engulfs the entire Horn of Africa.

The coordinated assault was the first open admission by Ethiopia’s Christian-led government of its military operations inside Somalia, where — with tacit American support — it has been helping a weak interim government threatened by forces loyal to the Islamic clerics who control the longtime capital, Mogadishu, and much of the country.
According to witnesses, Ethiopian fighter jets bombarded several towns, obliterating an Islamist recruitment center and other targets, while Ethiopian tanks rolled into battle. The attacks set off riots in Mogadishu, Somalia’s battle-scarred seaside capital, and fighting on several fronts in southern Somalia.

reportedly, the Somali Islamists have shut down schools and are using child soldiers while the US is funding the Ethopian military to the tune of millions of dollars. That is a no-win situation. Thousands of child soldiers will die at the hands of a military trained and paid for by the US government. How do you justify killing children who have no choice but to fight?

The Brits Raid a Basra Police Station

Okay. This begs the question. If the Brits have been planning this since July, what took them so bloody long? What were they waiting for and how many people have been tortured and have died due to their dawdling?

More than 1,000 British troops carried out a dawn raid on a police station in the southern Iraqi city of Basra after receiving intelligence that dozens of prisoners were being tortured and faced imminent execution.

In the latest violent episode in a city increasingly riven by conflict, the troops, supported by helicopters and Iraqi forces, killed seven gunmen and demolished Jamiat police station, the headquarters of the serious crimes unit. Yesterday's attack, described by Major Charlie Burbridge as a "very significant move", was the climax of a British operation against the unit which had seen the arrests last week of several senior members.

The raid also highlighted the parlous state of the increasingly beleaguered Iraqi police force. Despite the British Ministry of Defence's insistence that Britain's exit strategy from Iraq relies upon building a strong Iraqi police and army, senior officers have begun in recent months to admit that there is a "small rotten core" within the Basra police. This comes as no surprise to locals, who have long claimed that the force is heavily infiltrated by insurgents and is responsible for the vast majority of murders in Iraq's second city.

A "small rotten core"? Why do those military types always make apple-related analogies? Abu Ghraib: just 'a few bad apples'. Right. Let's get real. The whole flipping orchard is rotten and no amount of quick training is going to remedy the situation across Iraq any time soon. It's been 3 years and the so-called training of the Iraqi police forces by western contractors like DynCorp has been useless. Another example of 'stay the course until the place explodes' ideology that has cost thousands of people their lives.

The Christmas Day operation against Jamiat police station had been planned since July but intelligence that indicated an imminent threat to prisoners forced British military leaders to act more quickly. After British and Iraqi troops surrounded the building after midnight, prisoners were found crowded into a cell, living in "appalling conditions", British forces said. Many had crushed feet or hands and gunshot wounds to the knee, apparently signs of torture. They were given medical assessments and transferred to another police station.

Again. Why did the Brits wait so damn long? And who is going to assure the security of the so-called prisoners at the next police station? Another example of the hell that is an extremely poorly planned war, brought to you by the neocons who never get their hands dirty as they sit in their ivory fortresses, sipping cognac and writing up their fantasy doctrines that do nothing but destroy innocent lives.

We atheists get no respect I tell ya...

There's a good article in the LA Times about the 10 myths -- and 10 truths -- about atheism. Unfortunately, it's written by Sam Harris who can be a bit of an arrogant wanker even though he states in the Times piece that atheists are not arrogant. Well, we can be just as pompous as religious people, as he so obviously displays with statements like this: 'devout Muslims tend to reflexively side with other Muslims, no matter how sociopathic their behavior'. C'mon now, Harris. You're giving atheists a bad name by making generalizations like that.

Anyway, from the Times article:

SEVERAL POLLS indicate that the term "atheism" has acquired such an extraordinary stigma in the United States that being an atheist is now a perfect impediment to a career in politics (in a way that being black, Muslim or homosexual is not). According to a recent Newsweek poll, only 37% of Americans would vote for an otherwise qualified atheist for president.

I'd say Americans certainly aren't anywhere near electing as many blacks, Muslims or homosexuals as he might think they are. Witness the recent outcry over Keith Ellison. Of course, when you have mouthpieces like Ann Coulter who can draw big book sales just by scribbling the inane nonsense in her head on paper about all of us 'Godless Liberals', two words that are now equated with treason, it's no wonder atheists get no respect.

Atheists are often imagined to be intolerant, immoral, depressed, blind to the beauty of nature and dogmatically closed to evidence of the supernatural.

Yes. Just kill me now.

Merry Xmas...or whatever...

(I'm too ried to find an xmas pic to post. Deal with it.)

(I was obviously too tired to remember how to spell 'tired' too...)

I'm home. The grandherbs wore me out and the time went by too quickly as it always does. I received the much-desired knife set from Santa. Now I can catch up on all of that slicing and dicing I've been putting off for years and, as an added bonus, they're good to ward off burglars with. What more could a woman want?

My daughter and her family like to scream alot. Not in a dysfunctional family kind of way. They're nurturing the younger granherb (who will be 1 in January) to strengthen up his vocal chords and with the amount my daughter and the elder grandherb talk (they don't get that from me!), the little one is going to need to learn how to scream loudly if he ever hopes to get a word in edgewise. I successfully taught him how to speak pirate with the ever popular 'Argh'. I thought it was fitting since he just learned how to say 'cracker' last week. I'll have him saying 'yo, ho, ho and a bottle of rum' in no time. I also showed him the Feliz Navidad video and he was quite taken with Jose Feliciano and grandma's singing and dancing. I think he thinks I'm a bit odd. It's all good. I am.

We ate too much, stayed up too late and were up at the crack of dawn (well, actually before the crack of dawn at 6:30 am) to begin dismantling all of the nicely wrapped gifts. (Why do we even waste so much time making them look pretty when Xmas always looks like a nuclear explosion hit the living room?) It was a marathon session and everybody was happy - especially the little pirate. Then they dressed him up in the western duds I bought him (denim shirt, vest, pants, fashionable booties and a necktie with horsies included) and are off to spend the day with the other side of the family - which is always an 'interesting' time. Ahem...

Anyway, I hope you're all having an exciting day and may you all be as flipping exhausted as I am at the end of it. That's only fair.

Oh. I forgot to mention that some carollers came around last nite riding on a hay wagon and while I opened the door to listen to them, I was hearing shouts of 'moon them!' from la famille in the background. Did I mention they're just a bit nuts?

Sunday, December 24, 2006

What are you sacrificing, Bush?

The White House is issuing fluff press releases about how Bush is spending his Christmas holiday. On Sunday, he made 10 - count 'em 10 - phone calls to soldiers serving in his war and asked them to pass on his thanks to the rest of the troops. Big whoop. I'm sure they'll get right on that in between getting shot at and avoiding IEDs while they hope today won't be their last fighting in an illegal war that is already lost. The most-hated word of 2007 will be "surge".

And, because Bush thinks we actually care, the WH also released its Christmas Day Lunch Menu:

Turkey with Giblet Gravy

Cornbread Dressing

Mashed Potatoes

Green Beans

Sweet Potato Casserole



Pumpkin and Pecan Pies

Frankly, I think the Codpiece-in-Chief should be forced to eat MREs just like his troops - at least the ones who are still alive, unlike those who have made the ultimate sacrifice:

Sunday Food for Thought: And So This Is Christmas....

Will there ever be a day when we can say 'war is over'? It's a sad world...

May those of you who celebrate Christmas or Xmas or whatever you choose find peace, love, harmony, compassion and humility as you spend time with family and friends.

And for those who are alone, know that in spirit you're really not. Someone is thinking of you and wishing you comfort.

I'm off later today to spend Xmas with my daughter, her mate and the grandherbs and will be back sometime on Monday after noon. We're very fortunate to have each other and to be able to laugh so much together. That's the best gift of all. I love them tremendously and wish for a much more peaceful future for the grandherbs. Perhaps they can make it happen if they truly have faith in peace.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

The "Are We There Yet"? News Roundup

A lot of interesting news was reported on Saturday but since I'm wiped out from makin' bakin', bitchin' shoppin' and flippin' wrappin' I'm just going to pop in 'It's a Wonderful Life' (which is mandatory viewing every Xmas season for me, my cats and anyone else in close proximity, although this colourized version is freakish) while presenting you with the laziest news roundup ever.

Alrighty, so here's what you may have missed:


This. (Good news for Dion.)



This. That's 2 of those in the past month or so. Let's hope it's not a new fad.

This. (Surrender to the boy king.)


And, when it comes to the holiday season, remember this.

The Christian Embassy and the Pentagon

I wonder how the good pastor would feel about Satanists or members of the Church of Jesus Christ Christian appearing in such a video from within the Pentagon. Don't they have first amendment rights too?

h/t Shockwave and Silence is Complicity

The National Post Wins an Award

And the award winner in the category of 'Longest First Paragraph in a Newspaper Story Ever' is: The National Post.

It will be hard to beat that new record of 36 lines and 274 words, but I'm confident they can top themselves to win again next year.

Word! (as the young kids say these days)

Image is (almost) everything...

What's that huge (tory) blue Christmas tree bulb doing on the front page of the Liberals' site while the red one is blurred in the background?

I'd say they've just given fodder to the tories out there who pay attention to such things.

And where's the Christmahanukwanzaka greeting? And what about us atheists? What are we? Chopped liver?

Even Steve extended his greetings in a PC (pun intended) way:

From my family to yours, Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukah, Seasons Greetings, and best wishes for a healthy and rewarding New Year.

The NDP have obviously decided not to offend anyone by not posting anything holiday-related (or maybe they're just slow in getting around to it).

I think they all should have just posted this:

Please accept with no obligation, implied or implicit my best wishes for an environmentally conscious, socially responsible, low stress, non-addictive, gender neutral celebration of the winter solstice holiday, practiced within the most enjoyable traditions of the religious persuasion or secular practices of your choice, with respect for the religious/secular persuasions and/or traditions of others, or their choice not to practice religious or secular traditions at all;

Works for me!

Related: Ouch.

Friday Was Brought to You by the Letter 'O'

Did you have your Big 'O' for peace on Friday?

Wise words:

"You don't need a good reason to have an orgasm," he said. "Even a stupid one is OK."

It was therapeutic too:

Queen said the orgasm-challenged shouldn't be discouraged from participating Dec. 22. In fact, knowing their efforts are going toward creating world peace "might actually relieve some of the anxiety they feel around their sexuality that leads to problems in that area."

Global O will be presenting the results soon. Stay tuned.

Sidebar: I would have posted this on Friday if I hadn't been so busy
makin' bakin'.

Is Religion Divisive?

In a word: yes.

And that's what 82% of Brits believe as well.

There's no need to get into a great debate about religion v secularism to understand how religion is divisive. By their very premises, each religion believes it is the only path to salvation, God, nirvana, the light, truth or what have you. Religious people are taught to defend their faith and while preaching inclusiveness and tolerance of others with different beliefs (including non-religious beliefs) the bottom line is exclusivity to the secrets of life.

The broader questioned posed by the Guardian's poll - whether religion does more harm than good - is a bit more complex, but the majority of Brits expressed concerns that the negatives do outweigh the positives in a country with a much different religious demographic than what we experience in North America. It's interesting to note that Britain is not typically seen as one of those godless, liberal, socialist countries that so many right-wingers decry as bringing down civilization as we know it, yet the open-mindedness of its people to rightly question established religions despite or perhaps because of the history of religious conflict gives us a glimpse into a society that is small "c" conservative overall, definitely multicultural and that is much more secular than many would have perhaps thought.

So, does religion do more harm than good? I tend to believe that as some religions are practiced, which is not the same as what their holy books or tenets might actually preach overall, the harm is definitely measurable. Since I'm a buddhist (with zen tendencies) however, I find it difficult to take a word like 'good' and define that in a simple manner in order to judge the effect of religion overall ie. what we often perceive as 'good' or 'bad' turns out to be the opposite. There are, no doubt, effects of religious beliefs that have caused great harm: religious wars, the crusades, the mantra of 'the chosen people' v those who are not, selfish righteousness and arrogance, the misappropriation of selected holy book quotes that are used to justify bigotry and discrimination - attitudes that must be defended in the name of religion in generalized ways like this:

"We live in a society that seems to take care of everything, but in fact gives us nothing," Father Victor Agius told his congregation on a recent Sunday. Later, in an interview, he recounted his belief that "behind every homosexual, I've never found one who did not have a very sad story in their childhood."

It would be just as easy for me to say exactly the same thing about heterosexuals. We all have our sad stories, don't we?

This time of year brings numerous documentaries and shows about Jesus and the history of Christianity - which is rife with divisions and whose central tenets were decided by men of the day with political interests such as those at the Council of Nicaea (A.D. 320) who proclaimed that Jesus was the manifestation of God in the flesh after Constantine* had his 'light-bulb moment' . Since that time, the various factions of Christianity have battled amongst themselves (in some very nasty ways) in order to justify divine supremacy of religious thought as have Buddhists, Hindus and Muslims.

And then there's the more encompassing debate about faith vs reason or religion vs science.

My bottom line is this: I have no need to believe in a god or gods. My life is not emptier without such a belief. I understand why others do, since I used to be a Catholic until my teens. There's no doubt that religion brings a measure of comfort, direction and meaning to billions of people. Tolerance and compassion are vital. If only all religious practitioners could live that without proclaiming their superiority over others who they think need to find their exclusive path to god or heaven, we might all get along better.

And no, I don't claim that Buddhism is in any way superior. It's what works for me because it involves constant questioning, rationality, honouring scientific development and progressiveness of thought - things I do need. I don't attend a temple. I'm a free-range Buddhist. As with many people these days, what I believe in is an eclectic, pragmatic and practical view of the world. It's the idealist and logician in me that attracts me to what I do study and I know it's not for everyone. Nor should it be.

I'd be content if we could take organized religion out of the public consciousness and just replace it with an overall commitment to peace, love and justice - things that do not require religious guidance and which are too often complicated by it. We know the way. It's that voice that speaks inside of us: intuition. Everything beyond that is just window dressing - but I admit to enjoying window shopping sometimes.

As John Lennon wrote:

Imagine there's no Heaven
It's easy if you try
No hell below us
Above us only sky
Imagine all the people
Living for today

Imagine there's no countries
It isn't hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion too
Imagine all the people
Living life in peace

You may say that I'm a dreamer
But I'm not the only one
I hope someday you'll join us
And the world will be as one

*Recommended reading: Constantine's Sword by James Carroll

What's Christmas Without Jose?

A special wish for my Man Eegee - a young man with a very big heart and a great looking dog named Bud - and to all of the Latino/Latina bloggers who I've learned so much from this past year.

Feliz Navidad!

Friday, December 22, 2006

Montana: Republican Congressman's Press Aide Fired

This is priceless.

The communications director for Montana's lone congressman solicited the services of two men he falsely believed to be criminally minded hackers-for-hire -- with the expressed goal of jacking up his college GPA -- during an exchange that spanned 22 e-mails over two weeks this past summer.

Todd Shriber, 28-year-old press aide to U.S. Rep. Denny Rehberg, R-Mont., e-mailed the security Web site on Aug. 9, writing: "I need to urgently make contact with a hacker that would be interested in doing a one-time job for me. The pay would be good. I'm not sure what exactly the job would entail with respect to computer jargon, but I can go into rough detail upon making contact with a candidate."

(Update: Shriber fired.)

If Shriber actually had a clue, he would have figured out that most of attrition's staff members are just serious computer industry security geeks who like to get wild and nerdy with others of their species at places like defcon where they indulge in all manner of geekboy pranks and manic sexual and drinking adventures (so I've heard...). Their type is usually referred to as 'white hat hackers' - the people who hack for Good™ as opposed to Evil™ reasons (although Black Hat hackers provide some Good™ services as well - just in a bit more shady way). attrition's website isn't a 'Nefarious Hackers for Hire' ad and if you poke around long enough, you'll find some very (ahem) interesting stuff. (Hackers are a strange and varied breed).

Anyway, no wonder Shriber's university grades sucked. He obviously doesn't know how to do research and for a guy who was a press aide, that's pretty pathetic.

One more thing: you have to read through those 22 e-mails. What a hoot! And, meet Jericho.

h/t Talking Points Memo

Need Immunity for Your Crimes? Join JTF2

This is disturbing and should have been dealt with a long time ago:

OTTAWA–You can't charge someone you can't name, the Canadian Forces has found out.

A Federal Court judge yesterday rejected a request by the military to proceed with a court martial against a member of Canada's elite Joint Task Force 2 (JTF2) because the unit is protected by such secrecy that none of its members can be named.

The officer is alleged to have committed "serious offences of aggravated assault and ill treatment of a subordinate," Justice Judith Snider writes in her 57-page judgment.

Anything to do with those assigned to the JTF2 unit is classified as secret or confidential information – including the name, service number and rank of its personnel – and cannot be disclosed.

The military's director of prosecutions (akin to the Crown attorney's office) has tried but failed so far to pursue the charges.

Snider's ruling that the prosecution could not go ahead is based on the fact the military court system has been unable to draw up an order to convene a court martial because that would involve naming the officer. In her decision, Snider says a military judge could order the name and other information kept secret, but because there's no court martial, there's no judge in place.

"There is nothing in the National Defence Act that allows for the appointment of a military judge to consider preliminary matters such as the sealing of a charge. The parties agree that there is a gap."

It's a big loophole – one that may be soon closed if a bill the Liberals first put before Parliament, and the Conservatives are pursuing, eventually passes.

Why the delay? Allowing soldiers to be in a position of immunity from prosecution because their identities are classified is just unconscionable. How can their victims ever find justice?

This is one issue that supporters of all parties should be contacting their MPs about. No one is above the law - well, so we thought until now.

Is That a Draft I Feel?

Via CNN:

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Selective Service System is planning a comprehensive test of the military draft machinery, which hasn't been run since 1998.

The agency is not gearing up for a draft, an agency official said Thursday. The test itself would not likely occur until 2009.

Meanwhile, the secretary for Veterans Affairs said that "society would benefit" if the U.S. were to bring back the draft and that it shouldn't have any loopholes for anyone who is called to serve. Secretary Jim Nicholson later issued a statement saying he does not support reinstituting a draft.

(In other words, he got his mouth slapped by the administration.)

Does that mean Bush and Cheney may actually have to serve at some time in the future? And how about the Bush twins? They're not all that busy.

Oh, and Merry Xmas from al Qaeda in Iraq to George Bush.