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September 19, 2003
I'm here, I'm queer, I'm...a penguin

I'm just saying. It's been known for years. Homosexuality shows up all over the animal kingdom. In, you know, nature. So it's not "unnatural," regardless of the outraged yowlings of bigots and people peering out of closet keyholes.

Did you read Mark Morford last week? Terrorism could be making you sick.

Have you read him him today? It seems that there's a weird and twisted new version of the bible out aimed at young girls. Among other things, it apparently advises them to be meek, modest, obedient, and subservient to men. Oh, and yeah, it condemns homosexuality.

Maybe god made some penguins gay to test their faith or something.

I don't know what excuse the U.S. Customs is going to offer. Rampant stupidity, maybe.

And it's not just a paranoid rumor, either. "They" really are working on electronic chips they can implant in everyone and everything to keep track of everything that happens.

Also, I know there are those around the net arguing that the USSR sold Iraq most of its weapons and so we're practically blameless in the matter of arming them, but I think there's a significant difference between the someone openly selling a bunch of conventional weapons, all of which were reported destroyed by the U.N. inspectors, and someone selling a bunch of biological material for WMD. Or even the sale of material that could be used to develop nuclear weapons.

Fortunately, whatever Iraq did with it, they don't seem to have been using it to build weapons. (Although they could have sold or passed it to some really dangerous people, that doesn't actually fit my picture of Hussein's egotism.)

I found a timeline of our diplomatic dealings with Iraq, but it's not as informative as I'd hoped it would be. Still, I very much appreciate the folks who put the time and effort into compiling these lists and making them available.

Robert Scheer takes offense at the White House misusing the deaths of 9/11 to try and push their policies through. Join the crowd, Robert. Many of us have felt this way for the last couple of years.

And, to my complete shock, I learn that big lies were told over the question of invading Iraq. You find yourself paying attention when a national columnist starts a column with a quote from Goebbels.

Also I learn that Bush made a boo-boo.

And, speaking of unlawful invasions, incidents like this one are grounds for war, if Pakistan wants to stand strictly by its rights. Fortunately other countries are frequently much saner than we are.

I mean, you don't often hear of any other supposedly civilized country firing on diplomats in a blind panic. (I know, I mock, but I want you to be seriously worried, okay? The troops in Iraq are hair-trigger-happy and that's a sign that to the soldier on the ground, things are bad-bad-bad and getting worse.)

Do you know who our allies are? Do you know what they've reportedly been up to?

I don't remember where I got the link, but you need to go here and read everything on the list. I recommend #7, #9, #19 (I read this one when it first appeared and it made quite an impression on me), #21, and #25. And ,for some potential good news, #13. Oh, heck, read them all.

And it looks as though Germany has found a way to help the people of Iraq without backing down from their refusal to participate in our illegal and unsanctioned invasion of the country. Good for Germany.

However, on the good news front, we don't have to worry about the upper class any more. They're finally getting richer again.

More good news, there's got to be gnashings of teeth and tearings of thinning hair in the White House today as arch-villain Clinton receives an ecstatic welcome from thousands of people in Kosovo.

Here's some Shock and Awe therapy from the Moscow Times. Start by picturing Halliburton as one of the Magnificent Seven and go on from there....

Ellen Goodman agreed to appear on O'Reilly, which she describes as, "food-fight TV," and then, not surprisingly, regretted it, but that's not what she's writing about. She wants the Left of spawn their own Ann Coulter. I say let's not base our platform on lies.

Posted by AnneZook at 09:31 AM | Comments (11)
September 18, 2003
The Future of the World

There are places in the world someone who was actually, you know, compassionate, could have spread a little USofA aid and comfort.

War on Terror Detracts from Civilian Plight - Oxfam

Terrorism Shifts Attention From Civilians in Conflicts – Oxfam

The international community's focus terrorism has led donors to lavish aid on countries such as Afghanistan and Iraq, while neglecting the plight of civilians caught up in less strategic conflicts such as Liberia and Burundi, Oxfam said on Tuesday.

It said in a report titled "Beyond the Headlines: an agenda to protect civilians in neglected conflicts," that the focus on international terrorism and weapons of mass destruction since the suicide attacks on New York on 11 September 2001 had left civilians trapped in the world's forgotten conflicts more vulnerable than before.

Oxfam said rebels and governments alike had been terrifying civilians for years in too many civil wars. For decades these had caused much more death and destruction than terrorism.

Oxfam complained that international humanitarian law was inadequately enforced by the international community in most of the world's 42 conflicts and the suffering of civilians continued unabated.

Just for the record, this isn't really "new." The international community's ability/willingness to help the world's poorer countries has frequently expressed itself more in rhetoric than rights.

The problem, as I see it from the peanut gallery, is that no one has ever put any long-term thinking into these problems.

We overthrow a dictator and turn our backs and a worse one is in power a year later. (Or we support one, because we think he's better than the guy in the neighboring country, then we have to go in five or ten or twenty years later and clean up the mess we've caused. Why doesn't our government stop doing that? But that's a different rant.)

We send over a few thousand tons of food, then change the channel and miss the news that the famine goes on. We shake our heads and talk about deep drilling technology, but that doesn't get water to a drought-stricken country.

We need to go past treating the symptoms and really start dealing with the diseases.

And the cure, it may surprise you to know, isn't necessarily democracy.

But more about that later, in my next book review.

Posted by AnneZook at 10:05 AM | Comments (0)
Have the terrorists won?

I dunno. If their goal was to expose the weaknesses, inadequacies, and failures of this country, maybe they have.

US troops 'killed in Iraq attack'

At least three American soldiers have been killed in an attack on a convoy in the town of Khaldiyah, west of Baghdad, according to witnesses.

I wonder why this wasn't on any of the USofA news sites I checked? Also, why isn't the USofA press giving decent coverage to that "mystery pneumonia" killing soldiers? Is it because the gov'mint is already pissy that no one wanted their dangerous anthrax vaccinations?

I'm sure most of you have read this already. A soldier in Iraq wonders what they heck they're doing there. And following the link, we read that whatever the doctors are doing, they're not treating Iraqis unless they're dying or can prove they were attacked by USofA soldiers.

I mention this, not to diss the doctors, but to point out how badly things must be going. I've never met or heard of a doctor who refused to treat children under those circumstances and this little story tells me there's something seriously wrong in that unit, if not elsewhere.

I mean, it's all very well to say piously that the Iraqis have to use their own doctors and hospitals and not rely on us for medical care, but since we invaded, bombed, and generally shot up their country without providing any security against looting and outbreaks of lawlessness, the mostly looted hospitals are just a little overworked, okay?

And here's the story of a female reporter who was embedded in Iraq.

Molly Ivins says that the Department of Homeland Harrassment Security is a failure and that most of the actual terrorism suspects that have been caught so far have been caught by the ordinary police.

Spanish police have arrested at least three more people with suspected ties to al-Qaeda as part of an investigation by the judge who indicted Osama Bin Laden.

Looks like that's being proven by today's headlines.

Spanish police have arrested at least three more people with suspected ties to al-Qaeda as part of an investigation by the judge who indicted Osama Bin Laden.

Whatever. I'm sure someone will write weasel-mouthed words for Bush to read off the teleprompter to explain this.

Afghanistan dangers 'underrated'

The American public and news media are underestimating the continuing dangers and challenges remaining in Afghanistan, senior German officials have said.

Also, Afghans 'failed by insufficient aid' discusses how we (and the rest of our allies for that war) have failed to finish the job in Afghanistan.

Several leading aid organisations in Afghanistan have slammed the foreign effort and commitment to rebuild the country.

Care and the Center on International Co-operation focused their "road to peace" report on the international community's failure to provide security in Afghanistan nearly two years after the end of the Taleban regime.

But the report also says delivered reconstruction aid is a fraction of what was promised and an even smaller fraction of what is needed.

The aid organisations' report offers no particularly new insight into post-conflict Afghanistan.

For months Afghans have noticed the sharp deterioration of security highlighted in the report, and they have noticed precious few of the promised reconstruction projects actually materialise.

I'm just saying. If anyone denies the Bush Administration was in suspiciously big hurry to get into Iraq, remember this. We lost interest in actually rebuilding a country formerly dominated by actual international terrorists the instant the Administration realized they could use 9/11 to go after Hussein.

But never fear. The Afghan people are looking for ways to rebuild their economy and their lives without our government's assistance.

It also notes the rise in opium production - which shot from a 12% global share in 2001 to 76% the following year - and the threat to stability from the continuing fighting between powerful warlords.

I swear, if the Bush Administration starts making speeches about how dreadful it is that foreign countries traffic in illegal drugs, I'll...I'll...well, I don't know what I'll do.

Posted by AnneZook at 09:08 AM | Comments (6)
September 17, 2003
Don't Toke at the office!

Jay Nordlinger writes about, "Political Virility" in a column subtitled, "Real men vote Republican."

I have to say, between anecdotes of Bush "relishing" a group of Hell's Angels and wielding a chainsaw, Nordlinger does manage to draw a picture. I just don't think it's the one he thinks he's sketching.

And the section on Cheney, our "a laconic Westerner, exuding an aura of competence, strength and dependability" has to be read to be...well, not believed, but....

Posted by AnneZook at 01:15 PM | Comments (0)
Over There

A fascinating entry from Andrew Olmsted today.

CPT (P) Jason Slider sent out these notes he'd received (he had to reproduce them, so they are undoubtedly not 100% accurate) from a friend in 7th ID [Infantry Division] headquarters. They're reflections on some lessons the 3d ACR [Armored Cavalry Regiment] has learned during their time in Iraq. They include some pretty interesting and valuable observations, so I've reproduced them below, along with my own observations here and there. Readers should understand that while I stand by my observations, I'm a senior captain who's never been to combat, while these are lieutenant colonels that have 20+ years of service and have actually served in a combat environment.

Read it.

Posted by AnneZook at 11:02 AM | Comments (1)
Five good reasons to stay in bed

1. Syria, Libya Listed as 'Rogue States'

The Bush administration named Syria and Libya yesterday as "rogue states" whose weapons of mass destruction must not just be controlled but must be eliminated by whatever means necessary.

2. GIs in Iraq Face Revenge Raids

The commander of the U.S.-led coalition in Iraq said in an interview published Wednesday that U.S. forces, already under pressure from a guerrilla-style resistance, now face revenge attacks from ordinary Iraqis angered by the occupation.

3. Nuclear fight in Senate heats up

Senate Democrats assailed the Bush administration's plans for new nuclear weapons on Monday, casting as a "moral decision" the spending of more than $4 billion for new and modified H-bombs, a plutonium weapons factory and shorter delays in explosive nuclear testing.

[. . .]

At the same time, said Sen. Pete Domenici, R-N.M., weapons designers at Lawrence Livermore, Sandia and Los Alamos labs would have the freedom in a range of studies to think up new and modified bombs.

He urged senators to reject efforts by Feinstein and Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass., to eliminate funding for the Modern Pit Facility, nuclear test readiness and new weapons designs. Those funding plans go to a Senate floor vote today.

"It does not commit us to build any new weapons, and there is no money in this bill to build new weapons," said Domenici. America's weapons scientists "should be able to think and design and posture but not build a single new weapon."

Top nuclear officials in the office of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld say it is likely that at least one weapon will be built if scientists deem it feasible.

4. ‘Rods from God’

With no fanfare, the Bush Administration is taking military control of what it terms “near space,” thereby laying claim to the area of the Solar System that lies between the Earth and the Moon’s orbit. “A key objective … is not only to ensure U.S. ability to exploit space for military purposes, but also as required to deny an adversary’s ability to do so,” is how the Pentagon’s 2001 Quadrennial Defense Review explained U.S. strategy.

[. . .]

Air Force Secretary James G. Roche, a self-described “space warrior,” is the soldier in charge of U.S. Space Command, the space-based branch of the armed services. In an October 2002 speech at the Conference on the Law and Policy Relating to National Security Activities in Outer Space, Roche explained:

Space capabilities in today’s world are no longer nice-to-have: they’ve become indispensable at the strategic, operational, as well as the tactical levels of war. … Space capabilities are integrated with and affect every link in the kill chain. … Given the absolute interdependence of air and space power, we cannot risk loss of space superiority.

5. U.S. Says Russia Sold Arms to Iran

The United States on Tuesday accused Russia of supplying arms to "state sponsors of terrorism," chiefly Iran, and slapped sanctions on a Russian defense company.

The charges -- which mirror U.S. accusations concerning Baghdad after the Iraq war started -- appear to be an attempt to pressure Moscow over its cooperation with Tehran, analysts said.

I think I'll go back to bed myself, and pull the covers over my head.

Posted by AnneZook at 08:24 AM | Comments (2)
September 16, 2003
Intermission

Schedule: Monday, Sept 15 - Off work, traveling.

Schedule: Tuesday, Sept 16 - Digging out my desk.

Result: A brief, blogging hiatus.

Posted by AnneZook at 10:29 AM | Comments (0)