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January 18, 2006
A Few More Headlines

Ex-heads of EPA blast Bush on global warming

Six former heads of the Environmental Protection Agency — five Republicans and one Democrat — accused the Bush administration Wednesday of neglecting global warming and other environmental problems.

Color me so surprised that not even Conservatives are happy with the current Administration. After all, most Conservatives understand that their descendants are going to want to keep using this planet for a few more years.

More than 3,200 still listed as missing after Katrina

More than 3,200 people are officially still unaccounted for nearly five months after Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast, and the state medical examiner wants the search to resume for those missing from the most devastated neighborhoods.

Aren't those the areas we stopped searching because the authorities promised there was no one left to find?

Selling the Amazon for a Handful of Beads

This one is one of the worst," Beltran says, handing me an eight-page contract.

In 2001, Agip Oil Ecuador BV, a subsidiary of the multibillion dollar Italian petrochemical company Eni, convinced an association of Huarani Indians to sign over oil access to tribal lands and give up their future right to sue for environmental damage. In return Agip gave, among other things, modest allotments of medicine and food, a $3,500 school house, plates and cups, an Ecuadorian flag, two soccer balls and a referee's whistle.

A Manhattan Island caliber deal, indeed.

That's about all the news I can take for one evening.

Posted by AnneZook at 08:34 PM | Comments (3)
Of International Significance

Row grows on terror-suspect flights

THE British Government appeared to be uncertain about the number of US "rendition" flights through British airspace, according to a leaked document to be published today.

A Foreign Office memo to Downing Street - obtained by the New Statesman magazine - suggests the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) may have operated more flights involving the transfer of terror suspects between countries than the two already confirmed by London.

I don't remembering seeing this in the USofA media. But then, the USofA media's interest in the "extraordinary rendition" scandal seems to have been remarkably short-lived.

US Army raises enlistment age to 40

THE US Army has raised its maximum enlistment age from 35 to 40 years old and is doubling signing up bonuses to a high of $US40,000 ($53,510).

Well, we heard the rumors they were going to. I wonder if they think there's a huge pool of 36-40 year-olds just panting to be sent to Iraq or Afghanistan?

Although Afghanistan might not be a problem soon.


Members of a delegation accompanying US Vice President Dick Cheney to Kabul for the inaugural ceremony of the newly constituted parliament last month would have been the first Americans to report back to Washington that something odd was going on in Afghanistan, that things were not quite like what they had read in their briefs and position papers.


From the US perspective, this may look a moot point since maximum political mileage has been already squeezed out of the "war on terror" in Afghanistan. To an appreciable extent, President George W Bush owes his second term in office to the Afghan war. Karzai's hastily arranged victory in the presidential election, on the eve of the US election, was trumpeted in front of a naive electorate in the US as a foreign policy triumph that made America more secure from "terrorism".

From Washington's point of view, therefore, it may seem that the law of diminishing returns is at work for the Bush administration. The most prudent thing for the US is, understandably, to claim "victory" and to disengage from active military duty in the Hindu Kush. The ground situation in Afghanistan is worsening. The Taliban are undoubtedly spreading their presence. There is no point quibbling over the Taliban's "strength".


The Taliban may not be able to capture power in Kabul, but they are increasingly in a position to create mayhem, and that makes the governance of the country simply impossible. The huge income from drug trafficking has made Afghan resistance "self-financing". The Taliban's tactics are working.

But fortunately for the US, unlike in Iraq, an exit strategy is at hand. The baton is simply being passed on to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. The US is counting on the "New Europeans" who are eager to prove their "Europeanness", and NATO's Anglo-Saxon contingents to come forward for a tour of duty in Afghanistan.

Interesting article. Me, I doubt the USofA will be able to cut-and-run and leave the mess to NATO, but we'll see.

US moves diplomats out of Europe

"America must begin to reposition our diplomatic forces around the world," Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said on Wednesday.


The philosophy was an attempt "to seek and support the growth of democratic movements and institutions in every nation and culture, with the ultimate goal of ending tyranny in our world," she said.

Ah. We're going to be "bringing democracy" to some other lucky candidates soon, I see.

"Transformational diplomacy is rooted in partnership, not in paternalism," she said, adding that it was based on "doing things with people, not for them."

Compassionate Conservatism

Transformational Diplomacy

The Rightwing does love their grandiose-sounding phrases, don't they? If this bears the same resemblance to...well, to actual diplomacy that the above bears to either compassion or conservatism, we're all in big trouble.

Posted by AnneZook at 08:01 PM | Comments (0)
Here Ya Go

Official US agency paints dire picture of 'out-of-control' Iraq

An official assessment drawn up by the US foreign aid agency depicts the security situation in Iraq as dire, amounting to a "social breakdown" in which criminals have "almost free rein".


The picture it paints is not only darker than the optimistic accounts from the White House and the Pentagon, it also gives a more complex profile of the insurgency than the straightforward "rejectionists, Saddamists and terrorists" described by George Bush.

The USAid analysis talks of an "internecine conflict" involving religious, ethnic, criminal and tribal groups. "It is increasingly common for tribesmen to 'turn in' to the authorities enemies as insurgents - this as a form of tribal revenge," the paper says, casting doubt on the efficacy of counter-insurgent sweeps by coalition and Iraqi forces.


A Harvest of Treachery

Afghanistan's drug trade is threatening the stability of a nation America went to war to stabilize. What can be done?

Jan. 9, 2006 issue - In the privacy of his sparsely furnished house in Kabul, a veteran Afghan Interior Ministry official says the situation may already be hopeless. Although he has no authorization to speak with the press, and he could be in personal danger if his identity became known, he's nevertheless too worried to keep silent. "We are losing the fight against drug traffickers," he says. "If we don't crack down on these guys soon, it won't be long until they're in control of everything."

His pessimism is spreading. Despite the recent fanfare over the convening of Afghanistan's first elected Parliament in more than three decades, the rule of law is under attack by a ruthless organization of warlords and drug smugglers that spans the country and transcends its ethnic divisions. Narcotics trafficking isn't merely big, it's more than half the economy—amounting to $2.7 billion annually, according to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC)—that is, 52 percent of the country's entire GDP. And many of the underground industry's most important figures are said to be senior government officials in Kabul and the provinces. Amanullah Paiman, a newly elected member of Parliament from the far northern province of Badakhshan, has studied the country's drug problem and says Afghan government officials are involved in at least 70 percent of the traffic. "The chain of narcodollars goes from the districts to the highest levels of government," he says.

Brought to you by the Party of National Defense. (You know the onne. It's led by men who ran away when they were asked to help fight our last wartime disaster.)

Posted by AnneZook at 07:09 PM | Comments (0)
January 16, 2006
Op-Ed Day

Some days I'm less interested in the news than in what the pundits and experts are saying about the news.

Ariana Huffington says the match to ignite civil war in Iraq might have just been lit...so why isn't everyone in the USofA reading about it in the paper or hearing about it on the nightly news? I have to admit...I'm puzzled. If the NYTimes thought the situation was important enough to write a "powerful editorial" on, then why was the story itself relegated to the bottom of page A-10?

Paul Craig Roberts argues that Bush has "crossed the Rubicon" in an interesting article that traces the roots of the "imperial presidency" movement back to Lincoln and Roosevelt's New Deal. I don't know that I agree, but then I'm no Constitutional scholar so I'm on very, very shaky ground. It was interesting, though. He argues that the public arguments over abortion and homosexual rights are a smoke-screen to distract us from what the Rightwing is trying to do, which sounds very likely. And in some ways, he's quite right. Without accusing the Rightwing of being (or wanting to be) Nazis, there are some scary parallels between the power the Bush Administration wants for itself and the powers that Hitler's regime assumed. To test the truth of this, you only have to imagine how the Right would react if a Democratic Administration routinely announced that it would interpret the laws and the Constitution as it saw fit and that it didn't hold itself bound by either them or the intent behind new legislation.

Robert Dreyfuss decides that the upcoming 11/06 elections are likely to take place amid another "manufactured" crisis from the Bush Administration, a possibility that surprises me not at all. In fact, he's not the first to suggest this and I should make myself a note to start tracking the roots of it next August or September.

Apparently Judith Miller and David Brooks are surprised to learn that the Bush Administration is conducting an "assault" on the freedom of the press in this country, specifically around leaks of classified information. At the same time Daniel Ellsberg is saying that whistleblowers need to "Publish or Perish" (or maybe "Publish, even if you Perish) and that more leaks are all that will save lives. Considering the Bush Administration's tendency to make everything from illegal spying to the amount of toilet paper used monthly in the White House a "classified" matter, I think he's right.

Kalinga Seneviratne wonders why the tsunami was huge news to the Western media but Falluja was not. (Answer? Because the Western media wasn't allowed to take pictures of Falluja.)

Dick Morris says the USofA is "shifting leftward."

I was rolling my eyes on him claiming that the majority of us will 'always' be 'Right' on certain issues, including terrorism. It was a stupid remark. I'd be willing to guess that many more of us are 'Left' on terrorism than 'Right' and that more and more will be shifting 'Left' as the 'Right' continues to slaughter civilians, defend and commit torture, decimate cities, and spy on USofA civilians for the "terrorist" crime of disagreeing with the government.

Even as people finally come to accept that the Democratic Party is no longer what it used to be, or what they thought it was, they need to accept that the Republican Party is anything but the small government, lower taxes, celebration of rugged individuality, and "firm-but-fair 'strong national defense' Party that it used to be...or at least pretended to be.

The Republican Party is in the hands of warmongering extremists who favor corporate power over individuals, no matter how rugged, who don't want lower taxes overall as much as they want the taxes gathered to be spent solely on defending corporate rights, prison, and building up a huge military, and whose idea of "defense" means that the world should follow in our footsteps or at least do what we say (not what we do), especially in the arena of opening their markets to our products and giving us first dibs on any oil or other natural resources the planet might possess or accept the consequences of us raining down bombs on your heads.

Anyhow. He also says that we're leaning Left because the Bush Administration has done such a good job of implementing its agenda, leading me to wonder just what flavor of kool-aid he's been drinking.

Reading the whole thing made me really cranky, so let's end on a lighter note.

Caitlin Moran argues, quite entertainingly, that the U.K. should view a crowded train as an opportunity for personal growth, enrichment, or even good sex.

Posted by AnneZook at 12:31 PM | Comments (3)
January 15, 2006
Cory Maye

I've been remiss in not blogging this situation and I thank Lawrence Krubner for bringing it gently to my attention.

As Lawrence told me that Radley Balko brought the story to the attention of the world o'blog, I went over and read up on it and I do have to say...something smells. In fact, it reeks.

Mississippi Still Burning: Cory Maye’s Public Defender Fired (Apparently for taking the case. He was warned he'd lose his job if he pursued it.)

What We Now Know is another recap of the story.

Those are both from this month, one is from a blog, the other is, I believe, a Canadian site. The next "news" coverage that Google News can find for me is from December 17 and it was a couple of paragraphs in the middle of an opinion column.

It seems that the MSM has, indeed, elected to ignore this story.

So, I guess it's up to us to make a big enough fuss about it that they have to acknowledge it. But we have to do it now. A man on Death Row doesn't have a lot of time.


Click the button to visit www.MayeIsInnocent.com. (corrected)

Posted by AnneZook at 09:27 AM | Comments (1)