Friday, August 31, 2007

Friday Nite Video: How can we ease the pain?

Maxi Priest & Beres Hammond

Friday Fun: Rats, Sinking Ship Edition

Newsweek:

Aug. 31, 2007 - That scampering sound you hear is the feet of senior White House officials running for the exits. The summer has left President Bush without three of his closest Texas aides: counselor Dan Bartlett, political guru Karl Rove and longtime lawyer Alberto Gonzales. Now Bush is losing one of the few outsiders who helped improve (a little) the atmosphere of his second term: press secretary Tony Snow.

"You can't pay me enough to do this damn job anymore!" Snow was heard saying.

Meanwhile: Heartbroken Bush Runs After Departing Rove's Car

"Why can't I go with him?" Bush tearfully asked advisers as the longtime Republican strategist's sedan disappeared over the horizon. "When is he coming back?"

White House staff were deeply moved by the scene, saying that despite their best efforts, no one was able to explain to the president that he would no longer be able to remain at his chief adviser's side. Onlookers were clearly choked up as a tearful Rove, trying to close the car door behind him, told Bush in a stern, commanding tone to back away.

"Go on…you hear me? Get out of here, I say!" Rove said. "I don't love you anymore, understand? Now get! Get!"

And: Va. Senator Warner Will Not Seek Sixth Term

Don't let the war hit you on the way out, Warner.

Finally, Larry 'I am not gay, I did not play, I will now pay' Craig is heading back to Brokeback Boise, Idaho to hang up his spurs.

Asked Friday at the White House if the senator should resign, President Bush said nothing and walked off stage.

Way to stand by your man there, dubya!

Craig, forever memorialized by Keith O:



The day isn't over yet. Who knows which rat might be next? Run Dick, run!
 

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Saddam's WMD Found - in NYC

Is America safer, as Bush says? You decide.

Exhibit A: Chemical weapon scare causes U.N. evacuation

UNITED NATIONS (CNN) -- A U.N. office was evacuated after workers found vials that may have contained the poison gas phosgene Thursday.

U.N. archivists unexpectedly turned up samples of material from an Iraqi chemical weapons plant in weapons inspectors' files dating back to the 1990s, but the substance is not believed to pose any immediate danger, U.N. officials said Thursday.

The material was taken from al-Muthanna chemical weapons plant north of Baghdad. The samples are sealed and have been there since 1996, U.N. spokeswoman Marie Okabe said.

Whoops.

Exhibit B: Audit finds U.S. nuclear weapons parts misplaced

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Some facilities that handle the U.S. nuclear weapons stockpile misplaced classified bomb components under their care, according to an Energy Department audit.

The department's Inspector General also found there was confusion at the facilities over who was responsible for keeping track of weapons parts and recommended changes in how to better safeguard the parts.

John Broehm, a spokesman for the department's National Nuclear Security Administration that oversees the U.S. nuclear weapons arsenal, said his agency disagreed with the recommendations.

He said the parts, which he declined to identify, were later found.

Right. What's the point of agreeing with recommendations to tighten things up? Heckuva job there, Mr Broehm. It's not like they've had that many security concerns there, after all.

Exhibit C: Meanwhile, these actual acts of domestic terrorism are getting very little press, FBI Investigates String of Store Threats. If this was happening in my country, I think I'd like to know about it.

NEWPORT, R.I. (AP) -- Large grocery and discount stores across the country have been targeted by a caller who threatens to blow up shoppers and workers with a bomb if employees fail to wire money to an account overseas, authorities said.

Frightened workers have wired thousands of dollars - and in one case took off their clothes - to placate a caller who said he was watching them but may have been thousands of miles away. The FBI and police said Wednesday they are investigating similar bomb threats at more than 15 stores in at least 11 states - all in the past week.

"At this point, there's enough similarities that we think it's potentially one person or one group," FBI spokesman Rich Kolko said from Washington.

No one has been arrested, no bombs have been found, and no one has been hurt, though the calls have triggered store evacuations and prompted lengthy sweeps by police and bomb squads.
[...]
Separately, the FBI is looking into bomb threats on college campuses, including two in Ohio - the University of Akron and Kenyon College. No explosive devices have been found. Law enforcement officials said there was no evidence at this time linking the college bomb threats with those at grocery and discount stores.

Kenyon, in Gambier in central Ohio, received six separate bomb threats in a general admissions e-mail account between 6 a.m. and 9 a.m. Wednesday, college spokesman Shawn Presley said. Local and federal authorities determined the threats to be a hoax and the school was not evacuated as officials swept buildings searching for the bomb, he said.

Of course, the lesson in all of this is obviously that Iran should be your number one security concern because Bush says so. Just ignore all of the rest of this trivial stuff. Nothing to see there, folks.

Oh, and speaking of Iran: Iran atom work at slow pace and not significant: IAEA.

Priorities people. Priorities.
 

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Quote du Jour: Bush, again

Bush in NOLA on Wednesday:

And so it's -- my attitude is this: New Orleans, better days are ahead. It's sometimes hard for people to see progress when you live in a community all the time. Laura and I get to come -- we don't live here, we come on occasion. And it's easy to think about what it was like when we first came here after the hurricane, and what it's like today.

Any questions?
 

Warning: Daily Kos is Under Attack

If you visit Daily Kos, you should be aware it has come under attack.

This news has not appeared on the Daily Kos front page. Instead, Hunter (one of the admins) has written a diary on the side titled "Malicious Link Warning (IMPORTANT)" in which he states:

So yes indeed, there was a malicious diary placed on Daily Kos very early in the morning: people who clicked a link provided by the diarist were directed to a site with a malicious script on it designed to steal your dKos cookies. The "script kiddie" was then able to log in as those users and write comments or diaries under their names, change their signatures, etc.

This isn't the first time a script kiddie has tried to target Daily Kos, and it won't be the last. We delete the attacks, alert the service provider, and take other actions as necessary.

Note that this isn't a "hacking" attempt. Nobody succeeded in actually getting a malicious script on Daily Kos itself (though lord knows, people try on a regular basis.) Nope, this was a "script kiddie" using well-known XSS (cross-site scripting) attacks -- the sort of "trojan horse" attacks that have been common to email spammers and virus writers for years -- and which other sites have unfortunately also had to deal with in their own comments. Since it can't perform a malicious action directly, it relies on tricking you into going to some other site where a malicious script can be run, virus uploaded, etc.

There is an absolute defense against such scripts, though: don't click the link. Don't click ANY link leading away from the site unless you are reasonably certain that it goes to a safe place. This counts for URL shortening services, too: if you see a "shortened" link and you don't know where it goes, DO NOT CLICK.

According to various reports from Daily Kos members today, many have been scrambling to understand exactly what happened since this behaviour was noticed last nite. The delay of an "official" response from a site administrator caused widespread confusion and concern as users were left to their own devices to figure out how to deal with the problem. The "malicious script" apparently set off a loop of porn ads on some affected users' computers as well.

Along with the above advice and some internal housekeeping tips, Hunter also offers this:

...if you're using firefox [sic] and want hardcore protection against scripted attacks, try the noscript plugin. It will prevent scripts from running unless you explicitly allow them on a site-by-site basis. Perhaps folks in comments can suggest similar measures for other browsers.

(Oh, and general internet advice -- no matter where you are, never click anything hosted on php0h.com, which has hosted nearly every one of these "script kiddie" attacks over the last year.)

We'll be forcibly logging out all users every once in a while in an effort to wipe the affected cookies. If you get logged out, just log back in. And for pete's sake, be careful what you click.

No official word yet on how many computers have been affected or how this attack has affected the site's traffic overall.
 

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Tuesday Open Thread

Alrighty. I know some of you have missed me.

Exhibit A:



I'm still having intertubes connection problems and Shaw's extra-speedy customer service department booked a service call this past Saturday for Wednesday. They obviously don't realize that my fans are going through serious withdrawal. The brutes!

While they have deemed it worthy to provide me with at least a few hours per day of access to this paid service (and a costly service it is), I guess I'm supposed to bow down in front of the Jim Shaw Temple to express my undying gratitude.

Right.

Screw that.

Anyway, a few things:

It's about damn time that Steven Truscott's name was cleared. The court, however, could not bring itself to deem him "innocent". The phrase "miscarriage of justice" seems so empty after almost 50 years. Imagine if his death by hanging had been carried out.

Truscott had this to say:

Truscott said he was "just elated" when he heard the news while travelling from Guelph to Toronto. "It didn't immediately sink in because I was prepared for the worst, which has happened every time in the past."

"I never in my wildest dreams expected in my lifetime for this to come true, so it's a dream come true," he told reporters.

When asked whether he'll fight for compensation, he said, "I haven't even thought of that. I've learned over the years you fight one battle at a time."

Truscott's lawyer, James Lockyer, said, "Steve should get every penny he can out of the government after what he's been through.

"I'm glad Ontario's attorney general has acknowledged that he should be compensated, as he has today."

I can't even begin to ponder what a relief this news is for Truscott. I read his story when I was a kid and it left me wondering about the process of so-called "justice" and the belief in the death penalty in this country (which I've always opposed). It really is unconscionable that it took this long for Truscott to finally experience something nearing true justice. May he find some peace.

If you're not familiar with the case or how it ended up back in the court system after all of these years, visit The Fifth Estate's site for a look at their 2000 in-depth investigation which was a catalyst.

Update: The Fifth Estate will be covering the story once again this evening.

**************

Two new blogs to announce:

penlan, a regular commenter here who has also become a long-distance friend of mine (ie. she puts up with my insanity), has started a blog called political dots. Check it out.

Also, if you're into no-holds barred discussions, Political Fleshfeast may be the place for you. It's hoping to define itself as a true free speech zone for the left in defiance of bigger American blogs like Daily Kos, My Left Wing and others known for banning people and stifling debate. We'll see how that experiment turns out. Bring your popcorn, your wit and a thick skin.
 

Monday, August 27, 2007

Rarely is the question asked...

...is our children learning? - George W Bush

So, is they? You be the judge:

So Gonzales has resigned...

...and has decided to join the rest of the Bush regime cowards who've run away.

I thought this was more than fitting for such an occasion.


No, Al wasn't "dragged through the mud" as the boy king says. Gonzales picked the mud pile and wallowed in it for all it was worth as long as he could. Don't ask him about it though. He'll just say he can't recall.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Sunday Food for Thought: Compassion

 
When Bankei held his seclusion-weeks of meditation, pupils from many parts of Japan came to attend. During one of these gatherings a pupil was caught stealing. The matter was reported to Bankei with the request that the culprit be expelled. Bankei ignored the case.

Later the pupil was caught in a similar act, and again Bankei disregarded the matter. this angered the other pupils, who drew up a petition asking for the dismissal of the thief, stating that otherwise they would leave in a body.

When Bankei had read the petition he called everyone before him. "You are wise brothers," he told them. "You know what is right and what is not right. You may go somewhere else to study if you wish, but this poor brother does not even know right from wrong. Who will teach him if I do not? I am going to keep him here even if all the rest of you leave."

A torrent of tears cleansed the face of the brother who had stolen. All desire to steal had vanished.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Quote du Jour: "We control all of the West"

 
“We control all of the West. We're a powerful family. And boy, it would take a lot to make us give that up.”

- Jim Shaw, Shaw Communications Inc.
(Report on Business)

How nice for you, Mr Shaw.

Since you're so damn well off, how about lowering cable and internet costs for us peons? And how about making sure your damn customer service department doesn't take absolutely forever to answer our questions when we have problems with your company's crap?

Casa Shaw on the lake is nice; it has a gardener, a gate and ample parking for cars and boats. Mr. Shaw took home $5.68-million in salary and bonuses last year, lofty for an executive who already owns a large stake in the company.

I'll bet he gets immediate tech support.
 

Friday, August 24, 2007

Friday Nite Video: UB40 - Rat in my Kitchen

Random News & Views Roundup

- Looks like Castro is dead, again. In other news, Elvis Presley is alive and is working as a WalMart greeter in Indiana (just as most of us suspected all along).

- Robert Fisk: Even I question the 'truth' about 9/11.

Let me repeat. I am not a conspiracy theorist. Spare me the ravers. Spare me the plots. But like everyone else, I would like to know the full story of 9/11, not least because it was the trigger for the whole lunatic, meretricious "war on terror" which has led us to disaster in Iraq and Afghanistan and in much of the Middle East. Bush's happily departed adviser Karl Rove once said that "we're an empire now – we create our own reality". True? At least tell us. It would stop people kicking over chairs.

- Bizarre, but such is the state of some of Canada's infrastructure:

Engineers in Montreal determined Friday night that there is a real risk of a downtown road collapse, prompting police to seal off a larger area after the discovery of a gaping crack in an underground tunnel that connects malls to the metro.
[...]
Engineers had earlier closed one block because of fears that the major street above could collapse unless it was reinforced.

Now that would have been one huge pothole.

- TPM: Right-Wing Launches Assault Against [John] Warner, Claims He ‘Hurts The Cause Of Freedom’. They really need to come up with new, even cornier slogans.

(There's been a lot of Iraq war-related news this week that I haven't been able to catch up on - not feeling well lately - but I plan to work on a lengthier post this weekend. Stay tuned.)

- A gaping hole has been found in the universe - no, not that huge empty space where Bush's brain is supposed to be - an actual astronomical phenomenon thingy.

- Another US "friendly fire" incident. This one killed 3 British soldiers in Afghanistan.

- From the Christian Science Monitor: An intensifying US campaign against Iran. And, Paul Craig Roberts offers his opinion piece on the warmongering at antiwar.com.

Lies, unprovoked aggression, and delusional expectations – the same ingredients that produced the Iraq catastrophe – all over again. The entire Bush regime and both political parties are complicit, along with the media and US allies.

- Assholes of the Week: Special Preachers, Priests and Clerics Edition. This one is a must read. Here's a sample:

*An unidentified Major in Iraq--a fundamentalist Christian pretending to be a "freethinker"--for attending the first meeting of atheist service members under the umbrella of the Military Association of Atheists and Freethinkers, then verbally berating the other attendees, accusing them of plotting against Christians and disrespecting soldiers who have died protecting the Constitution. He threatened them with punishment, shut down the meeting and said that he would do whatever it took to shut down future meetings. He forced attendees to stand at attention while he yelled, berated and humiliated them. One attendee had fled when the shouting started, and he found a foxhole to hide in.

- Lastly, if you're a fan of kos of Daily Kos, watch this video.
 

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Quebec Police Admit Infiltrating the SPP Protests

The true north strong and infiltrated.

Earlier this week, video of SPP protesters clashing with alleged "infiltrators" at the so-called Security & Prosperity Partnership summit in Montebello, Quebec was made publicly available on YouTube™. Immediate denials of police infiltration were issued by the Surete du Quebec and the RCMP.

The Mounties and the SQ, the two police forces involved in summit security, continued to refuse specific comment on three alleged undercover officers caught on camera in an apparent bid to incite a confrontation.

But they denied using agents to provoke violence.

"I confirm (to) you that there are no agents provocateurs in the Surete du Quebec. . . It doesn't exist in the Surete du Quebec," said Const. Melanie Larouche.


On Thursday, the Surete reversed course and admitted it had infiltrators at the protest:

QUEBEC - Quebec's provincial police acknowledged in a statement Thursday that their agents had infiltrated protesters demonstrating during the recent North American leaders summit in Montebello, Que., but denied that they acted as "agent provocateurs".

"They had the mandate to spot and identify violent demonstrators to avoid the situation from getting out of hand," the Surete du Quebec said in a statement. "The police officers were identified by demonstrators when they refused to throw projectiles."

That last statement is patently false.

Watch the video:



"At no time did the Surete du Quebec police officers act as agents provocateurs or commit criminal acts," the statement adds.

Wrong again.

As the article continues:

The video shows the three black-clad bandana-wearing men being singled out by union organizers and the crowd. Other protesters started pointing at them and crying "police."

One of the three men is seen shoving and swearing at Dave Coles, president of the Communications, Energy, and Paperworkers Union of Canada, who is angrily confronting the trio, demanding they put down the rocks, remove their bandanas, and identify themselves.

After being backed into a corner against a line of provincial police officers in riot gear, they try to force themselves through the police line and are arrested while the crowd cheers.

I'm sure that once the Surete realized there had been calls for a public inquiry along with escalating requests to have the arrest records of those provocateurs released, it knew the game was over.

The fact that it wasn't enough for summit security to insultingly create "free speech zones" out of the site of Bush, Calderon, and Harper and that a court decided to issue a "compromise" aka "Protest TV" which was supposed to comfort protesters by mandating that TV sets in the Chateau would broadcast video of the protests for the leaders to watch if they chose to shows just how much our speech is being stifled in this country. Our arrogant leaders even refused to allow the delivery of opposition petitions at the summit, treating citizens as mere hysterical peasants.

During the final SPP press conference, Bush joked about so-called "conspiracy theories" about the summit (and CNN's Suzanne Malveaux echoed that slur). What, exactly, is the public supposed to think when North American leaders meet behind closed doors with 30 corporate CEOs and refuse to openly inform the public about the content of those meetings? That's the issue - the secrecy - along with the fact that business and political leaders are setting policy about the future of North America without any input from the citizens.

That's not democracy.

You don't need to be a conspiracy theorist to demand transparency and to know something is wrong when it isn't provided.

Related: For more information about the history of the SPP concerns, visit the site of the Council of Canadians.

Watch the CBC news story about the Surete's admission of police infiltration:



Update: Our so-called Public Safety minister is clueless and in denial (as usual). (h/t penlan)

This really could be a Monty Python skit:

Public Security Minister Stockwell Day continued to brush of questions about a call for a public inquiry, saying in Vancouver that those with complaints can make a formal complaint.

"The thing that was interesting in this particular incident, three people in question were spotted by protesters because [sic] were not engaging in violence," Mr. Day said.

"They were being encouraged to throw rocks and they were not throwing rocks, it was the protesters who were throwing the rocks. That's the irony of this," Mr. Day said.

Mr. Day added the actions were substantiated by the video that he has seen of the protests.

"Because they were not engaging in violence, it was noted that they were probably not protesters. I think that's a bit of an indictment against the violent protesters," Mr. Day said.

 

Video: More Canadian War Casualties

Via CBC News:



The names of the dead soldiers have now been released: Master Warrant Officer Mario Mercier and Master Cpl. Christian Duchesne

Check out CBC's site for video of an interview with a visibly shaken Patrice Roy.

Meanwhile, this headline: Government will fall if Afghan mission doesn't end in 2009, Bloc warns.

Bloc Québécois Leader Gilles Duceppe vowed Thursday — in the wake of the deaths of three Quebec-based soldiers this week — to bring down the Conservative government if it does not commit to a full troop withdrawal from Afghanistan in 2009.

He said if Prime Minister Stephen Harper does not soon notify NATO and participating countries of Canada's withdrawal plans, the Bloc will vote against the expected autumn throne speech with the hopes of bringing the government down.

Duceppe would need the Liberals to vote with his party in order to succeed.

During a Thursday press conference on climate change, Liberal Leader Stéphane Dion would not comment about banding with the Bloc.

"I am not here to make threats about that," he said. "I don't want to play politics on the back of the victims."

Duceppe called for an emergency debate on the Afghan mission when Parliament reconvenes on Sept. 17.

Dion, jockeying for position, added:

"Why does Mr. Duceppe want to wait until October? I'm asking the prime minister to notify NATO, the government of Afghanistan that the combat mission in Afghanistan will end in February 2009," Dion said. "Let's do it today. Why wait until October?"

Look, Stephane - you and Gilles need to get together, stop the egotistical bullshit, and come up with a plan to get Canadian troops out of there. Period. The sooner they come home, the better. If you guys actually had any cajones, you'd start calling for a troop withdrawal now - not in 2009. How many more soldiers will have to die while you wait this out? That's the bottom line.
 

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Oh, Ari

Spinmeister and spokespuppet extraordinaire. How I have not missed you.

Iraq, Bush, Vietnam & The Cheerleading Democrats

If you can't beat 'em (even when you have the majority in congress and choose to not even try), join 'em.

You could smell this coming from a mile away:

The leading Democratic candidates for the White House have fallen into line with the campaign to praise military progress while excoriating Iraqi leaders for their unwillingness to reach political accommodations that could end the sectarian warfare.

"We've begun to change tactics in Iraq, and in some areas, particularly in Anbar province, it's working," Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) said in a speech to the Veterans of Foreign Wars on Monday.

"My assessment is that if we put an additional 30,000 of our troops into Baghdad, that's going to quell some of the violence in the short term," Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) echoed in a conference call with reporters Tuesday. "I don't think there's any doubt that as long as U.S. troops are present that they are going to be doing outstanding work."

Advisers to both said theirs were political as well as substantive statements, part of a broader Democratic effort to frame Petraeus's report before it is released next month by preemptively acknowledging some military success in the region. Aides to several Senate Democrats said they expect that to be a recurring theme in the coming weeks, as lawmakers return to hear Petraeus's testimony and to possibly take up a defense authorization bill and related amendments on the war.

It didn't take a political genius to figure out that when the Dems crowed about really pushing back against the Iraq war in September they would, as usual, just cave. Somehow, Nancy "Everything opposing Bush is off the Table" Pelosi and "Give 'em hell" Harry Reid (who can't even manage a "heck" or a "darn" most days) thought their ingenious strategy of siding with the WH and Republicans was going to give them leverage. (Don't ask me - I didn't invent that game plan.)

The Dem leadership (and I use that term loosely) justifies this Good News™ about Iraq burst as a "preemptive strike" (hmmm...where have I heard that before?) against a barrage of right-winger war pimping ads that will play the next month. A $15 million budget? They'll need a helluva lot more money than that to turn things around in the polls. And that is what has people like me scratching our heads and wondering why the Democrats are so damn afraid to pick a position and stick to it. Cut the funding. Get it over with. Can't do that though if you're beholden to oil and military industrial complex lobbyists, right?

Meanwhile, Bush Saint Dubya (patron saint of chickenhawks) invoked the Vietnam war as a warning today during a speech he gave to vets. Now, all you need to know about that is this:

1) Bush speeches are carefully calculated fearmongering propaganda. I don't doubt that Bush actually believes the shit that he spews, but trying to reignite a debate about the Vietnam war is just a distraction. If he was so damned concerned about the Vietnamese people, he wouldn't have been playing a game of Where's Dubya in the US during the war and would have bucked up to actually go over there to fight.

2) Bush is an idiot.

Here's what he said:

"One unmistakable legacy of Vietnam is that the price of America's withdrawal was paid by millions of innocent citizens whose agonies would add to our vocabulary, new terms like 'boat people,' 're-education camps' and 'killing fields.'"


Here's a reality check:

Few Americans realize that close to two million people died, that none of the perpetrators have been brought to justice and that the United States helped bring about the crisis that lead to the Khmer Rouge takeover.

And, of course, war criminal Henry Kissinger is one of Bush's Iraq war advisers. So there actually is a similarity between then and now. Unfortunately, for Saint Dubya, it doesn't work in his favour.

I'm sure the newly rekindled Vietnam war debates will be quite lively in the next little while, but Bush's predictions about what will happen in Iraq when troops withdraw have no basis in current reality. Different war. Different time. Different circumstances. And, as CNN analyst David Gergen put it, you really have to wonder why Bush would refer to Vietnam when his administration hasn't even bothered to learn the lessons of that war ie. the "quagmire" predicament. So, what is there to argue about and why are the Dems still cowering when it comes to Iraq?

Oh, and one more thing:

Democrats Would Want Australian Troops To Stay In Iraq As Long As Possible

Washington, D.C. (AHN) - Sources close to Sens. Hilary Clinton and Barack Obama have said a Democratic president would ask Australia to maintain its troop presence in Iraq for up to a further three years. A Democratic administration would also look to use Australian assistance in training Iraqi forces and seek its assistance worldwide.

So no, Dem supporters, your precious top tier candidates don't plan to bring US troops home any time soon. Sorry to burst that bubble, but someone has to do it.
 

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

A PR Stumble by Harper

You would think that Steve would be extremely careful about how he talks about Canada's Afghanistan war casualties, considering that he seems to think his government just has a "communications" problem (ie. the propaganda just isn't working) when it comes to boosting support for the war. (It's a bit more complicated than that, Steve.)

But today, during his SPP press conference with Bush and Calderon, when Harper was asked about the war he made reference to Pte. Simon Longtin "the first member of Quebec's Van Doos regiment to be killed in Afghanistan" and said, "I note the death obviously...of a...of a Canadian soldier...Longtin, I think was the name". (G & M video at the 45:18 mark)

Frankly, if I was a Longtin family member, friend or military colleague, I would be personally offended that our prime minister would be so blasé about his name. Add to that the massive opposition to the war in Quebec and the fact that Steve is now trying to do whatever he can to gain support in that province and those 5 words speak volumes about his detached attitude. There's simply no excuse for not being sure about the name of a Quebecois soldier who just lost his life in this war that Harper and his cronies continue to pimp.
 

Write Your Own Caption

Bush: Damn these buttons are hard to do up. I wish Karl was here.

Steve: Just do it like I showed you, George.


Photo credit: Reuters

Monday, August 20, 2007

SPP Summit News Roundup

The G&M: White House plays down summit expectations

Nothing to see here, folks. Trust us. We know what we're doing.

Right.

And here's what Steve thinks about the democratic right to protest:

Asked about the protests against the summit, Mr. Harper told reporters as he greeted Mr. Bush, "I heard it's nothing," then added. "It's sad."

That didn't stop him from acting like a huge chickenshit though:

Mr. Harper was accompanied in the cavalcade of carts by security personnel and members of his staff, some hanging on for dear life as the tiny vehicles whipped their way up the hotel's main drive.

The Star: Bush arrives for summit

Harper greeted the tanned president outside the majestic Chateau Montebello resort as he arrived here for the start of the North American leaders’ summit.

“Geez, you’ve got a small army with you there,” quipped Harper as he clapped Bush on the shoulder and shook his hand.

“Yeah,” said Bush. “Sorry I’m late. Beautiful place here.”

The two exchanged handshakes, and as a reporter asked Bush whether he had seen the protests, he glanced over his shoulder and grinned.

The obnoxious boy king grin, no doubt.

And yes, there are some "anarchist" type protesters in the vicinity - which hardly explains Bush's need for a "small army".

As for the agenda and why people are protesting:

One common complaint echoed by all is the secrecy surrounding the meeting.

A group of powerful business executives has been invited to make a closed-door presentation Tuesday at the summit on changes they believe the continent needs. No such invitation was extended to scientists, environmentalists, or other social activists.

Welcome to Corporate North America™ where that pesky democracy thing is just an annoying sideshow.

Maude Barlow of the Council of Canadians said people shouldn’t be fooled about who really sets the agenda at these summits: the 30 business leaders who sit on the North American Competitiveness Council.

The group comprises leaders from 10 companies in each country and includes corporations like Wal-Mart, General Electric and weapons-maker Lockheed Martin. They advise the three national governments on facilitating trade.

Barlow called for a moratorium on the “profoundly anti-democratic” North American Security and Prosperity Partnership until the citizens of all three countries are consulted and their elected representatives are given oversight over the business-driven initiative.

Flanked by U.S and Mexican opponents of the scheme and Canadian labour activists, Barlow told a news conference Monday that big business is trying to create a competitive North American trade bloc.

“And for this they need regulatory, resource, labour and environmental convergence to the lowest common standards,” she said, predicting that it will ultimately include a common passport, common currency and free trade in resources, including oil, gas and water.

“This is not about security for people, social security, security for the poor, environmental security or job security. This is about security for the big corporations for North America.”

And you definitely can't count of the Liberal or Democratic parties to seriously oppose the corporate regime. They're too beholden to corporate money and lobby groups.

This is what our so-called leaders think about the voices of the people:

Harper refuses to receive SPP petitions at Leaders Summit in Montebello

Ottawa – The RCMP has been informed by the Department of Foreign Affairs that the delivery of a petition to the Leaders Summit in Montebello, which was signed by more than 10,000 Canadians across the country, will be prohibited.

The RCMP had previously told the Council of Canadians that the petitions could be delivered just outside the gates of the Chateau Montebello, which is being heavily guarded by Canadian and American security forces.

“This is clearly not a security concern but a political prohibition,” says Maude Barlow, national chairperson of the Council of Canadians. “This is yet another strong message from the Conservative government that they are not willing to hear the concerns of Canadians on the Security and Prosperity Partnership.”

Once again, the RCMP is doing the political bidding of the Conservative party/ Canadian government.

If you're not concerned about what's going on in Montebello, you need to be.

Do you want to live in a corporate state or a truly democratic state?
 

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Sunday Food for Thought: Into the Light

How is one to live a moral and compassionate existence when one is fully aware of the blood, the horror inherent in life, when one finds darkness not only in one's culture but within oneself? If there is a stage at which an individual life becomes truly adult, it must be when one grasps the irony in its unfolding and accepts responsibility for a life lived in the midst of such paradox. One must live in the middle of contradiction, because if all contradiction were eliminated at once life would collapse. There are simply no answers to some of the great pressing questions. You continue to live them out, making your life a worthy expression of leaning into the light.

- Barry Lopez

Write Your Own Caption

Spit at me again kid and the rest of your summer vacation will be spent shining my shoes.

 
Photo credit: Reuters
 

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Saturday Nite Video Flashback: Bob Marley - Positive Vibrations

A song for Jamaica as it stares down hurricane Dean...



Related Jamaican links:

Newspapers:

Jamaica Gleaner
Jamaican Observer

Radio stations

News updates:

Jamaicans and tourists scramble as Dean bears down

Live blogging:

Go-Jamaica Hurricane Dean Watch
 

Information lines for Jamaicans overseas

The Jamaica National Building Society (JNBS) has made available the following telephone lines so that persons living overseas can stay informed during the passage and aftermath of Hurricane Dean:

United Kingdom

0207 708 6670

0207 708 6672

United States

954 535 5761

954 535 5762


Meanwhile this toll free number has been made available courtesy of People’s Telecom:

1 866 546 5106

FISA: More of What the Democrats Have Wrought

It was bad enough that the Dems caved on the FISA bill, but now more details of exactly what that bill entailed are coming out and they show just how much power Bush was really given by that rush to avoid looking like cowards.

Via the NYT:

WASHINGTON, Aug. 18 — Broad new surveillance powers approved by Congress this month could allow the Bush administration to conduct spy operations that go well beyond wiretapping to include — without court approval — certain types of physical searches on American soil and the collection of Americans’ business records, Democratic Congressional officials and other experts said.

So, how did that happen, you ask? Simple: if the Democrats had actually read and analyzed the bill before they decided to please almighty Bush by dealing with it before they left for their summer vacations, they would have discovered (and some did, obviously) just how many more rights they were giving away on behalf of their constituents.

The new legislation is set to expire in less than six months; two weeks after it was signed into law, there is still heated debate over how much power Congress gave to the president.

“This may give the administration even more authority than people thought,” said David Kris, a former senior Justice Department lawyer in the Bush and Clinton administrations and a co-author of “National Security Investigation and Prosecutions,” a new book on surveillance law.

Several legal experts said that by redefining the meaning of “electronic surveillance,” the new law narrows the types of communications covered in the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, known as FISA, by indirectly giving the government the power to use intelligence collection methods far beyond wiretapping that previously required court approval if conducted inside the United States.

And this cannot just be blamed on the so-called Blue Dogs. Dealing with this bill could have been deferred by Pelosi and Reid until the "heated debates" about what they were offering for approval were exhausted. Instead, after the bill was passed, Democratic leaders just told their angry cheerleaders to just wait six months, they'd fix it all then.

Well, now that word has gotten out about just how much they've royally screwed up, it's wait until September while Bush spokespuppets pretend they had no idea (gosh, darn, golly) that this bill would give the boy king even more power.

Bruce Fein, who has been pushing for impeachment spoke to the NYT about the possible ramifications of this bill:

At the meeting, Bruce Fein, a Justice Department lawyer in the Reagan administration, along with other critics of the legislation, pressed Justice Department officials repeatedly for an assurance that the administration considered itself bound by the restrictions imposed by Congress. The Justice Department, led by Ken Wainstein, the assistant attorney general for national security, refused to do so, according to three participants in the meeting. That stance angered Mr. Fein and others. It sent the message, Mr. Fein said in an interview, that the new legislation, though it is already broadly worded, “is just advisory. The president can still do whatever he wants to do. They have not changed their position that the president’s Article II powers trump any ability by Congress to regulate the collection of foreign intelligence.”

And this quote certainly describes the bottom line here:

That limitation sets a high bar to set off any court intervention, argued Marc Rotenberg, executive director of the Electronic Privacy Information Center, who also attended the Justice Department meeting.

“You’ve turned the court into a spectator,” Mr. Rotenberg said.

I really have to wonder (and since I've almost run out of pejorative adjectives to describe the willfully ignorant congressional Democrats and their cheerleading, lapdog supporters, I won't turn this into an overly long screed) why - after these Dems have refused to impeach, refused to do everything possible to end the Iraq war, refused to stand up to this dictatorial "president" and refused to act like they work for the American people - why anyone continues to support them. Just how many second, third, fourth and fifth chances do they get to prove themselves to be the protectors of human and civil rights they claim to be?

They have failed. Continually. And the only thing they can offer is "wait".

For what??

If someone has an answer to that question, I'd sure like to hear it. And before you even think about saying that Election '08 will change everything if a Dem president is elected - think again. That's what they said about the Dems winning back congressional power in '06. Oh but this is all Joe Lieberman's fault, right? No. It isn't. When you willingly support and elect conservative Democrats who are willing to kiss Bush's ring, that's exactly what you get. Pushovers who will assure that Bush has just as much power as he wants. And when your congressional leaders play the waiting game with peoples' constitutional rights, they impact all Americans directly. Just how much of that new power do you honestly think a possible future Democratic president might be willing to roll back? Honestly.

All right. I promised this wouldn't be a long screed and I'll keep my word, but think about this: I'm a Canadian citizen. And, while only some of what your boy king does actually affects my rights (and we're feeling it here, believe me), I think it's safe to say that I'm probably more outraged about all of this than a lot of Americans who actually should be are. And I find that deeply disturbing.

h/t lyger and infowarrior.org's mailing list
 

'Protest TV'

Protest TV via the Globe & Mail:

OTTAWA -- When the leaders of Canada, the United States and Mexico meet in the fortress-like Château Montebello next week, TV monitors inside the hotel will allow them to tune in or tune out live images of the protests raging behind the fences on the outside, government officials said yesterday.

As they discuss economic and security issues, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, U.S. President George W. Bush and Mexican President Felipe Calderon will see live shots of demonstrators condemning their gathering - and maybe even burning them in effigy.

Wishful thinking on Daniel Leblanc's part. Those leaders won't see anything that they don't want to and the last thing they deem important is to actually listen to the protestations of the rabble. They must keep themselves insulated at all costs just in case reality might rear its ugly head and burst their power bubbles.

I'll tell you what: why don't we get a court order to get a live feed from inside the Chateau broadcasting exactly what's going on in these secretive meetings? Or is that just too much democracy for those guys to handle?

Related: For more information about the so-called Security & Prosperity Partnership, visit the Council of Canadians site. As they say "Integrate This!"
 

Friday, August 17, 2007

Friday Nite Video: Cat Stevens - Wild World

By request...

Quote du Jour: How Not to Spy on People

If you don't want to get caught:

"The way we found these guys out is almost comical. We only had a bunch of grandmothers there and the big 250-pound guy in the middle eating all the cookies was the ex-RCMP cop."

Pay attention, Albertans:

Public money spent to spy on landowners: NDP

Alberta's arms-length energy regulator hired a private investigator to pose as a concerned citizen and infiltrate a group of landowners opposing the construction of a massive power line, new documents show.

The provincial NDP released documents obtained under Freedom of Information legislation Thursday that also show investigators gave the Energy and Utilities Board passwords that would allow it to listen in on the landowners' private conference calls.

NDP leader Brian Mason said it is a case of using public money to spy on Albertans.

"This goes far beyond what's necessary to protect the integrity of the hearing," Mason said.

"This was intelligence gathering and it was political intelligence."

The more you learn about Conservative governments, the less you can trust them. Ironic, since their philosophy is supposed to include less government interference in peoples' lives. You'd be hard-pressed to find any of those Conservative creatures in power anywhere in this country these days though. They're quite the paranoid bunch.
 

Friday Fun

Courtesy of CSI: Blogosphere™ - that portion of the right-wing blogosphere's 101st Fighting Keyboardists whose mission it is to examine every possible press photo they can (while conveniently ignoring the actual wars going on - death and carnage are so distasteful after all unless one of their enemy "Islamofascists" has been executed for their fun and pleasure) to provide you with a painful examination of the tiniest pic pixels in order to supposedly prove to you that FAUX News is the only media conglomerate you can trust. (Ooops...what's this? FAUX News editing Wikipedia for its own benefit? Ummm....never mind...we have AFP pics to examine!)

You'll have to read through the comments at Confederate Yankee's blog to find the truth - that the US military actually releases photos for use by press outlets. I doubt very much he'll update his post with an actual correction though. Why do that when you can just move the goalposts and continue whining about how traitorous the press is and how wonderful your investigative skills supposedly are, regardless? He's on a mission, damnit!

I did indeed notice the failure of journalism in the few earlier decades of my life, but I simply didn't have the platform I do now to highlight them.

And I do have that platform now, stringer.

Heh.

Posted by: Confederate Yankee at August 17, 2007 11:37 AM

And aren't we just the lucky ones??

Shorter CY: I've got half a brain and I'm not afraid to use it. And P.S. - the BBC & AFP are evul commie liberals. So there.

Bonus Friday fun: Considering how outraged Mr Yankee seems to feel about copyright infringement:

In any other profession, taking someone else's work and presenting it as your own through mislabeling it, misappropriating it, etc, is regarded as some sort of fraud, theft or plagiarism.

Posted by Confederate Yankee at August 17, 2007 09:55 AM

...perhaps Mr Morally and Ethically Pure can explain his real ethics since he swiped this very obviously attributed AP photo for use on his blog? No? I didn't think so.
 

Thursday, August 16, 2007

The Padilla Verdict

Jim Lehrer interviews Curt Anderson of the AP about the Padilla verdict:



Choice quotes from the Washington Post article on the verdict:

Padilla and co-defendants Adham Hassoun, a Lebanese-born Palestinian, and Kifah Jayyousi, a naturalized U.S. citizen from Jordan, were found guilty of one count of conspiracy to murder, kidnap and maim overseas, an offense with a maximum penalty of life in prison. They also were convicted of one count of conspiracy to provide material support for terrorists and one count of material support for terrorists. Sentencing is set for Dec. 5.
[...]
Padilla's lawyers charged that during his confinement, he was deprived of sleep, kept in a 9-foot-by-7-foot cell, chained in painful positions and injected with mind-altering drugs. Those conditions left him unable to participate in his own defense, the lawyers said. Padilla, like his co-defendants, did not take the stand.
[...]
During the long trial, jurors were presented with dozens of wiretapped calls, and the charges against the three men were complicated. Many observers were thus surprised that the panel took little more than a day to reach a decision.

The jury did seem to be an oddly cohesive group. On the last day of trial before the Fourth of July holiday, jurors arranged to dress in outfits so that each row in the jury box was its own patriotic color -- red, white or blue.
[...]
...in closing arguments prosecutors mentioned al-Qaeda more than 100 times, by one defense count, and urged jurors to in essence think of al-Qaeda and groups affiliated with it as an international murder conspiracy.

And the prosecution played an OBL video for the jury, which will be a point of contention in the upcoming appeal for its use as a fearmongering/ 9/11 sympathy tactic.

Check out Democracy Now!: EXCLUSIVE: An Inside Look at How U.S. Interrogators Destroyed the Mind of Jose Padilla.

The Christian Science Monitor reported: "Padilla's cell measured nine feet by seven feet. The windows were covered over... He had no pillow. No sheet. No clock. No calendar. No radio. No television. No telephone calls. No visitors. Even Padilla's lawyer was prevented from seeing him for nearly two years."

According to his attorneys, Padilla was routinely tortured in ways designed to cause pain, anguish, depression and ultimately the loss of will to live.

His lawyers have claimed that Padilla was forced to take LSD and PCP to act as a sort of truth serum during his interrogations.

Up until last year the Bush administration maintained it had the legal right to hold Padilla without charge forever. But when faced with a Supreme Court challenge, President Bush transferred Padila [sic] out of military custody to face criminal conspiracy charges.

Questions have also been raised about whether Padilla was mentally fit to stand trial. His lawyers and family say he has become clearly mentally ill after being held in isolation.

Listen to or watch the DN! interview for more:

Forensic psychiatrist Dr. Angela Hegarty spent 22 hours interviewing Padilla last year to determine the state of his mental health. She concluded that Padilla lacked the capacity to assist in his own defense. Dr. Angela Hegarty is assistant professor of clinical psychiatry at Columbia University.

A farce of a case and a farce of a trial. Bush's America - where you can lock someone away for years on end without charge, torture him, and then haul him into court, find him guilty and call that "justice" and "victory".
 

al-Maliki's New Coalition

Under intense pressure to get the Bush-backed Iraqi oil law passed, al-Maliki has formed a new alliance with "moderate Shiites and Kurds", basically leaving the Sunnis out in the cold.

At the news conference announcing the accord, al-Maliki was flanked by President Jalal Talabani, the leader of the northern autonomous Kurdish region, elder statesman Massoud Barzani and Shiite Vice President Adel Abdul-Mahdi.

The four men signed a three-page agreement they said ensures them a majority in the 275-member parliament that would allow action on legislation demanded by the U.S.
[...]
Their parties the Shiite Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council and Dawa and the Kurdish Patriotic Union of Kurdistan and Democratic Party of Kurdistan hold a total of 181 seats.

Al-Maliki called on the Sunni Accordance Front, which is the largest Sunni bloc with 44 seats and includes al-Hashemi's party, to return to the government and heal a rift that opened when the bloc's five Cabinet ministers quit the government.

The four-party agreement was unveiled four weeks before the top U.S. commander in Iraq, Gen. David Petraeus, and U.S. Ambassador Ryan Crocker are to deliver a progress report on Iraq to Congress.

Thus the timing. How convenient - but not for the Sunnis, some of whom called for referendum on the law last month.

Reacting to the news, the head of Iraq's Islamic Party had this to say:

...leader of the party, Sunni Vice-President Tariq Hashemi, told the BBC that the current political situation was "not conducive to creating new political blocs".

"There are many differences over how to manage the security situation and deal with those in power committing flagrant human rights violations. They can't be deemed moderates," he said.

"The government's performance vis-a-vis human rights must be improved."

On the Washington front, it is expected that Petraeus' September surge report will show "a mixed picture" concerning the political developments. This move by al Maliki will definitely be touted as a major accomplishment by the Bush administration despite the blow to the Sunnis.

Meanwhile, Petraeus will apparently report troop redployments (not reductions) in furtherance of his his whack-a-mole counterinsurgency strategy and, as the Washington Post reported on Thursday, the Bush administration seems to be attempting to shield Petraeus from testifying publicly about his report in September, voicing preferences to send Condi and Gates to do the heavy lifting spin-doctoring instead.

Petraeus and Crocker have said repeatedly that they plan to testify after delivering private assessments to Bush. U.S. military and diplomatic officials in Baghdad appeared puzzled yesterday when told that the White House had indicated that the two may not be appearing in public.

They should know by now that Commander Guy™ will do whatever he needs to to cover up his failures.

All of this is, of course, occurring against the back drop of the horrendous suicide bombings of Iraqi Yazidis in northern Iraq on Wednesday. That death toll is slowly creeping up with the number of dead now being reported as totaling anywhere from 300 - 500 which, as Time magazine notes in its article The Surge's Short Shelf Life, would make it "the deadliest terrorist operation in the country since the fall of Saddam Hussein."

Hardly a sign of progress but I imagine both parties, the Republicans and Democrats will simply push the "let's just wait a bit more before we do anything" mantra in September, citing whatever "successes" they can eek out of Petraeus' report while Iraqis and coalition soldiers continue to die and al-Maliki further marginalizes the Sunni population while the entire country still exists in a nightmarish shambles.
 

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Bush's Culture of Death

The cover story of The Independent newspaper today, "Bush's lethal legacy: more executions" alerts its readers to the fact that Alberto Gonzales may soon be given the ultimate authority in death penalty cases.

The Bush administration is preparing to speed up the executions of criminals who are on death row across the United States, in effect, cutting out several layers of appeals in the federal courts so that prisoners can be "fast-tracked" to their deaths.

More details from the LA Times:

WASHINGTON — The Justice Department is putting the final touches on regulations that could give Atty. Gen. Alberto R. Gonzales important new sway over death penalty cases in California and other states, including the power to shorten the time that death row inmates have to appeal convictions to federal courts.

The rules implement a little-noticed provision [probably because none of the legislators actually cared that it was in there or even bothered to read the bill since they seldom do. -catnip] in last year's reauthorization of the Patriot Act that gives the attorney general the power to decide whether individual states are providing adequate counsel for defendants in death penalty cases. The authority has been held by federal judges.

Under the rules now being prepared, if a state requested it and Gonzales agreed, prosecutors could use "fast track" procedures that could shave years off the time that a death row inmate has to appeal to the federal courts after conviction in a state court.

The Independent looks at Gonzales' horrendously careless track record in Texas where he also dealt with death penalty cases with Bush and there's no need to wonder aloud why Bush would want to grant Gonzales such power considering they've both dedicated themselves to destroying the legal, civil and human rights of Americans for such a long time. Nor do I feel the need to argue against the death penalty, as I've done that extensively here before.

I do think that this quote from The Independent illustrates the ultimate hypocrisy though and needs to be focused on:

At no time has Mr Bush seen any contradiction with his avowed commitment to the sanctity of life. As President he has even instituted a National Sanctity of Human Life Day, which, he has said, "serves as a reminder we must value human life in all its forms, not just those considered healthy, wanted, or convenient".

Contrast that with how he mocked Karla Faye Tucker when she was on death row in Texas and you know all there is to know about Bush's views about the so-called "sanctity" of life - a term that only applies to fetuses - not to those who are already born.

If he actually had any concern for the "sanctity" of life, he would not choose to hide the coffins of the troops returning home from his failed wars. Of course, "No one suffers more" than George and Laura when it comes to the Iraq war. "No one". If he really valued life, he would take it upon himself to actually attend some of their funerals and would never have lied, sending thousands of Americans to their deaths while causing the deaths and displacement of hundreds of thousands of Iraqis at the same time - all for the sake of fattening the bank accounts of his war profiteering buddies. Blood money.

He would never have told Brownie that he was doing a "heckuva job" while people were still dying from the gross negligence of FEMA and his administration in NOLA and elsewhere in the gulf region. He would not have foisted Reaganesque "trickle down economics"/tax cuts for the wealthy on the American people believing that somehow the poor would eventually benefit. He would not neglect the fact that over 40 million Americans don't have health care coverage - making his government complicit in their daily pain, suffering and deaths. He would actually embrace science instead of treating it like a cult meant to undermine religion. He wouldn't have spent almost half a trillion dollars on the war machine - bankrupting future generations, those fetuses he claims to care about so much who, guaranteed, will certainly suffer much more than George and Laura ever have or could even conceive.

There are a lot of things he would do if he believed in that so-called "sanctity".

And now he wants to kill death row inmates more quickly - yet another manifestation of his sociopathic personality in which the word "compassion" exists somewhere between "callous" and "conservative" in the dictionary.

There is no nobility to be found in participating in the deaths of your fellow countrymen. There is no glory to be had by hastening their deaths. There is no pulpit to stand and preach from, exalting your moral supremacy, when you choose to deny justice to people sentenced to die.

There ought to be a totally shameful sense of failure when you've (once again) placed yourself in the company of the some of the world's worst human rights abusers (countries you condemn) while you lie about your justice system being the "best" in the world.

2006 executions

China: 1,010+

Iran: 177

Pakistan: 82

Iraq: 65+

Sudan: 65+

USA: 53

Saudi Arabia: 39+

Yemen: 30+

Vietnam: 14

Kuwait: 10+

Source: Amnesty International, based on 2006 figures

+ symbol indicates that the figure is a minimum one; the true figure may be higher due to state secrecy or a lack of available information

But in order to feel shame you need to have a conscience, and people like Bush and Gonzales and those who support their culture of death have never proven that they do. They are predictably and unapologetically apathetic - these task maskers of death.
 

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Bush's Summer Vacation

From WH spokespuppet Dana Perino's press gaggle:

MS. PERINO: First of all, the question was what the President is doing at his ranch this week. Again, I don't expect to have detailed readouts on this every day. But what the President loves to do when he's at his ranch is to spend time outdoors. And I know today that they were maybe going to do some trail building, some bike trail building that they do out there, so that they can then mountain bike. And I wouldn't be surprised if the President got in some fishing, as well as some time with his wife, Laura, Mrs. Bush, and maybe other family and friends. If other family and friends do arrive, and I'm able to provide that information, I certainly will.

But I think that we should just all expect that this week, with the President not having any public events, that when he's out on his ranch what he loves to do is spend time in the outdoors; he loves to get his exercise. And I would expect that there would be some brush cutting to do, although it is 107 degrees, so I don't know how many people are going to be able to stand it. The President, obviously, likes the heat, so maybe everyone else is just going to have to suffer through it.

Torturin' begins at home.
 

Suicide Bombers Kill 175 in Iraq

Via Reuters:

BAGHDAD (Reuters) - At least 175 people were killed when three suicide bombers driving fuel tankers attacked a town, home to an ancient minority sect, in northern Iraq on Tuesday in one of the worst single incidents in the four-year-old war.

Iraqi army Captain Mohammad al-Jaad said at least another 200 people were wounded in the bombings in separate Yazidi ["primarily ethnic Kurds" - catnip] neighborhoods in the town of Kahtaniya, west of Mosul.

Analysts are predictably trying to blame this on al Qaeda and are claiming that this action was meant to affect Petraeus' upcoming Good News About The Surge report in September (via CNN). But it's far too early to know exactly what's happened and what's going on in Baghdad shows how much of a failure the so-called surge has been, regardless.

Update:: Iraq attack toll may reach 500
 

Do the Shuffle

Steve is all set to do the shuffle around 3:45 pm ET today, according to The Star:

Harper is believed to be shifting the embattled Gordon O'Connor out of the defence portfolio, making room for a more trusted communicator on Canada's controversial military role in Afghanistan.

He doesn't need a "more effective communicator" (read: government propagandist). Canada needs someone who knows what the hell they're actually doing considering our troops are still at war. (Sidebar: And no, the Afghanistan war is not a "peacekeeping" mission.)

Last night, sources said there could be three other significant shifts: Foreign Affairs Minister Peter MacKay; Indian Affairs Minister Jim Prentice, one of Harper's most trusted cabinet members; and Industry Minister Maxime Bernier, a Quebecer.

MacKay: useless
Prentice: useless
Bernier: useless

Mind you, considering the Conservative crowd Steve has to choose from and the fact that it's his policies that are the problem in those portfolios, whoever he chooses will no doubt be just as useless as well.

La Presse reported last night that Prentice was being shifted to defence, MacKay would assume the industry portfolio, Josée Verner, the minister for international co-operation, was moving to heritage, and O'Connor was going to veterans affairs.

None of these purported moves could be confirmed late last night.

Shuffling the incompetent to positions where they can be just an ineffective. Great strategy there, Steve.

Cabinet ministers passed through the Prime Minister's residence at 24 Sussex Drive yesterday for one-on-one meetings with Harper.

Those ferried to Harper's home included: Nicholson, Finley, Public Safety Minister Stockwell Day, Transport Minister Lawrence Cannon, Veterans Affairs Minister Greg Thompson, and government House leader Peter Van Loan.

Let's hope Day got his walking papers. I sure wouldn't be shedding any tears over that. He could use more Seadoo time anyway.

And this proves just how out of touch this government is with reality and the majority of Canadians:

...the source said it would be surprising if the Prime Minister drops anyone from cabinet altogether. The view inside is that no one has triggered a scandal or made major gaffes, even if some ministers' communications skills with the media or within their own departments, are wanting.

What??

The income trust tax, the cover up of how Afghan detainees are treated, the shallow efforts at dealing with the environment, the slashing of programs for women and those who used the court challenges program, the refusal to get Omar Khadr out of Gitmo, the pandering of MacKay to the US government, covering up RCMP and CSIS incompetence in the Arar affair, killing the Kelowna and Kyoto accords, selling out Canada's sovereignty under the guise of "security and prosperity" ...and that's just the short list.

This is not about communication skills, Steve.

This is about incompetent, authoritarian and secretive governance. It's about ignoring human and civil rights. It's about a "father knows best" approach to what's good for this country. We don't need a father. We need people who understand that they work for us.

So, shuffle your minions, who you don't allow to speak for themselves anyway. In the end, the same old faces in new positions won't make a damn bit of difference because it's your policies that need shuffling - right out the door.

Related: CanWest has more - "Harper's cabinet shuffle sure to disappoint".

I'll update this post once the decks on the Titanic have been reorganized.

Update: There's a lot of speculation flying around - CBC Newsworld's Julie Van Dusen pondering that MacKay may get the defence job but, from CBC's site via CP:

As well, Harper could move Treasury Board president Vic Toews, a former attorney-general in Manitoba with an interest in law and order, to public safety, paving the way for Day to go to defence.

Oh horror of horrors - Day as defence minister.

Political science professor Barry Kay of Wilfrid Laurier University in Waterloo, Ont.,:

"The cabinet ministers don't matter so much anymore. They don't matter so much in policy and this is certainly true of Harper. I think he's very comfortable with the idea [that] he runs the show; he makes the big decisions. He basically presents the face and the agenda of the government."

Exactly.

Shades of:

"If this were a dictatorship, it'd be a heck of a lot easier, just so long as I'm the dictator."

—President-elect George W. Bush, at a photo-op with congressional leaders during his first trip to Capitol Hill, Washington, D.C., Dec. 19, 2000

Update: According to CBC teevee's live (red carpet) reporting, the following Conservatives have shown up so far -

MacKay
Bernier
Ablonczy (smiling)
O'Connor
(Gerry) Ritz
Vernier

more as they arrive...

Those who have not shown up:

Day
Flaherty
Baird

Jack Layton is in the building too.

Looks like Rick Hillier (who's been acting like a politician anyway) has a front row seat.

Steve will hold a press conference at 5-5:30 (?) pm ET.

Mike Duffy (CTV) told his on-scene reporter to "go for it" when he thought he had the list of new appointments and then quickly changed his mind and said (paraphrasing) - "Never mind, you'll probably be shot by an RCMP sniper".

Update: Here's the shuffle

MacKay - defence
O'Connor - national revenue
Oda - international cooperation
Vernier - heritage
Prentice - industry
Bernier - foreign affairs
Ritz - agriculture
Strahl - Indian affairs
Ablonczy - sec of state for small business & tourism

Catch the live coverage online at CBC's site.

CTV has the story up.
 

Monday, August 13, 2007

Rove Resigns!

Gone. Fini. Buh bye. Let all the doors hit you on the way out.

No doubt, he's off to join the military so he can fight in Iraq.

If I was a Christian, I'd thank the lord.

If I hadn't quit drinking 20+ years ago, I'd crack open a bottle of champagne.

If I had a hammer, I'd hammer in the morning...all over this land.

As it is, all I can offer is this:



And this:



Oh, and this, of course! Cheesecake for everyone!

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Sunday Food for Thought: Human Rights

"Whatever career you may choose for yourself - doctor, lawyer, teacher - let me propose an avocation to be pursued along with it. Become a dedicated fighter for civil rights. Make it a central part of your life. It will make you a better doctor, a better lawyer, a better teacher. It will enrich your spirit as nothing else possibly can. It will give you that rare sense of nobility that can only spring from love and selflessly helping your fellow man. Make a career of humanity. Commit yourself to the noble struggle for human rights. You will make a greater person of yourself, a greater nation of your country and a finer world to live in."

-- Martin Luther King, Jr.

The Suffering of Omar Khadr

This is what Omar Khadr has been reduced to:

Mr. Edney said that when he saw Mr. Khadr recently, his client was so mentally debilitated that he wanted nothing more than crayons and some paper to colour on. Contrary to federal government assurances that Mr. Khadr is doing just fine, Mr. Edney said, his client is actually "ill and going blind. He needs all sorts of help."

He added that when he spoke to Mr. Khadr about the unfairness of incarceration, his client said: "Canada doesn't care."

Every single Canadian who does care has the obligation to prove him wrong.

"It is unprecedented to try a child for war crimes," Lt.-Cdr. Kuebler said.

That this Canadian government willfully chooses to make Omar Khadr the first example of such a horrendous injustice by ignoring his suffering is absolutely unfathomable.

"All humanity is one undivided and indivisible family, and each one of us is responsible for the misdeeds of all the others. I cannot detach myself from the wickedest soul."

-Mahatma Gandhi

Please do your part. No one, especially a child soldier, deserves this fate.
 

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Saturday Nite Video Flashback: Neil Young - Let's Impeach the President

Random News & Views Roundup

- When the going gets tough, the weak run to Baghdad for a photo op. Although, Bush and Cheney may just be hoping that Abu Gonzales runs into one of those pesky IEDs. Then they can literally kill two annoying birds with one stone: the Gonzales problem - gone - and they can blame Iran on top of it. Oh no, I'm starting to think like them...must be a virus...I'd better take some medication. There is medication, right?

- Mitt "Ken Doll™" Romney won the Iowa straw pall on Saturday. What a manly man:

AMES, Iowa (Reuters) - Republican Mitt Romney won the first test of the 2008 White House race on Saturday, using a big wallet and broad organization to muscle aside a field of second-tier rivals in a low-turnout Iowa straw poll.

Hell, that description's almost porn film worthy. Show me your big wallet and your broad shoulders, muscle man. (Not that I've ever actually seen a porn film. *cough*)

- Some kind of beam was installed on the space station today. I think they may be planning to make the Canadian astronaut walk the plank. I hear he's been telling a lot of Bush jokes up there.

- Yasser Arafat was poisoned?

- The Bush administration is nervous about Musharraf's future - so much so that it's assessing Pakistan's nuclear weapons. Not only that:

Musharraf controls the loyalty of the commanders and senior officials in charge of the nuclear program, but those loyalties could shift at any point, officials say.

The United States is not certain who might start controlling nuclear launch codes and weapons if that shift in power were to happen.

That's comforting, isn't it? Musharraf tried his best to provide reassurance on Saturday, which might actually mean something if he wasn't in the middle of huge political mess (of his own creation).

- Gordon Prather: Challenging Bush’s Reality (on Iran).

- Ben Tripp: On Fleeing the Country (a good read)
 

Meet the new RCMP boss...

...same as the old RCMP boss:

TORONTO, OTTAWA — The civilian appointed to lead Canada's national police into a new era of accountability revealed Friday he was among the secret group of bureaucrats who had met to censor findings of the Maher Arar report.

“I was certainly involved in the process leading to that decision, but that decision was a decision taken by government,” RCMP Commissioner William Elliott, wearing a business suit, told reporters after the RCMP's change-of-command ceremony. He was referring to work he had done while serving as an associate deputy minister to Public Safety Minister Stockwell Day.

And Day, being the arrogant, feckless ass that he is, sent his spokespuppet out to say this:

A spokeswoman for Mr. Day, the past and current boss of Mr. Elliott, said “senior officials from various departments” decided to block out the passages before the government signed off on the recommendations.

I guess his momma never asked him the obvious question: "would you jump off a bridge just because the rest of the kids were doing it?" Or maybe she did and his answer was "yes".

Welcome to the new RCMP brought to you by the new government. I'll bet you feel safer already.