Blogroll Me! How This Old Brit Sees It ...: May 2008

31 May 2008

US army suicide rates highest on record


From the Melbourne Herald-Sun:

The US army said suicides among active duty troops in 2007 had reached the highest level on record, due partly to the stress caused by deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan. The army announced that 115 soldiers, including 22 National Guard and Army Reserve troops, killed themselves last year. That marked a 12.7 percent rise from the 102 suicides recorded in 2006. There were 85 army suicides in 2005. Thirty-two suicides, or more than one-quarter of the actual 2007 total, occurred in Iraq as President George W. Bush poured extra forces into the country in an effort to quell sectarian violence. Another four occurred in Afghanistan.

Army officials said statistics did not show a direct link between repeated deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan and the rise in suicides. But officials acknowledged that stresses caused by wartime army operations were taking their toll on soldiers including in their personal relationships, the breakup of which was cited as a catalyst in 50 percent of cases.

How many lives will be ruined by the Iraq War before it's over?

(via appletree, cross posted at liberal avenger)

28 May 2008

Thought Criminal Deported


The Guardian brings us disturbing news about the state of Ingsoc (or New Labour, or whatever you want to call it). Apparently, visiting students can be arrested and held for a week just for researching topics like al-Qaeda:

A masters student researching terrorist tactics who was arrested and detained for six days after his university informed police about al-Qaida-related material he downloaded has spoken of the "psychological torture" he endured in custody.

Despite his Nottingham University supervisors insisting the materials were directly relevant to his research, Rizwaan Sabir, 22, was held for nearly a week under the Terrorism Act, accused of downloading the materials for illegal use. The student had obtained a copy of the al-Qaida training manual from a US government website for his research into terrorist tactics.

The case highlights what lecturers are claiming is a direct assault on academic freedom led by the government which, in its attempt to establish a "prevent agenda" against terrorist activity, is putting pressure on academics to become police informers.

Sabir was arrested on May 14 after the document was found by a university staff member on an administrator's computer. The administrator, Hisham Yezza, an acquaintance of Sabir, had been asked by the student to print the 1,500-page document because Sabir could not afford the printing fees. The pair were arrested under the Terrorism Act, Sabir's family home was searched and their computer and mobile phones seized. They were released uncharged six days later but Yezza, who is Algerian, was immediately rearrested on unrelated immigration charges and now faces deportation.

Of his detention, Sabir said: "I was absolutely broken. I didn't sleep. I'd close my eyes then hear the keys clanking and I would be up again. As I realised the severity I thought I'd end up in Belmarsh with the nutcases. It was psychological torture.

"On Tuesday they read me a statement confirming it was an illegal document which shouldn't be used for research purposes. To this day no one has ever clarified that point. They released me. I was shaking violently, I fell against the wall, then on the floor and I just cried."

Sabir has spent 13 of his 22 years in the UK, and fears that he will be tortured if he is returned to Algeria.

Read the rest here.

27 May 2008

Where KKK robes come from

Newly sewn Klan robes, ready for shipping

58-year-old Miss Ruth spends all of her days doing just three things: smoking, caring for farm animals an for her 40-year-old quadriplegic daughter, making the uniforms for America's oldest and most notorious terrorist organization, the Ku Klux Klan. Anthony Karen interviewed her extensively and photographed the at home, where she takes orders and sews robes from sunup to sundown.

Miss Ruth says that she's a 5th generation Klansman.

Read more »


25 May 2008

Florida Kindergarten Teacher Has Students Vote To Remove Classmate

Alex Barton

This is unbelievably sad:

Melissa Barton said she is considering legal action after her son's kindergarten teacher led his classmates to vote him out of class. After each classmate was allowed to say what they didn't like about Barton's 5-year-old son, Alex, his Morningside Elementary teacher said they were going to take a vote, Barton said. By a 14 to 2 margin, the class voted him out of the class.

Barton said her son is in the process of being diagnosed with Aspberger's, a type of high-functioning autism. Alex began the testing process in February for an official diagnosis under the suggestion of Morningside Principal Marsha Cully. Alex has had disciplinary issues because of his disabilities, Barton said. The school and district has met with Barton and her son to create an individual education plan, she said. His teacher, Wendy Portillo, has attended these meetings.

Barton said after the vote, Alex's teacher asked him how he felt. "He said, 'I feel sad.'"

Alex left the classroom and spent the rest of the day in the nurse's office. Barton said when she came to pick up her son at the school on Wednesday, he was leaving the nurse's office. "He was shaken up," she said. Alex hasn't been back to school since then, and Barton said he won't be returning. He starts screaming when she brings him with her to drop off his sibling at school.

Thursday night, his mother heard him saying "I'm not special."

Barton said Alex is reliving the incident. They said he was "disgusting" and "annoying," Barton said. "He was incredibly upset. The only friend he has ever made in his life was forced to do this."

(cross posted at Liberal Avenger and appletree)

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Global Warming is Just the Beginning

Global warming is a big problem, but it's not the only problem

Not every environmental problem has to do with global warming. In fact, not every problem associated with carbon emissions is related to global warming. As it turns out, the carbon emitted by our cars and power plants isn't just making the oceans warmer. It's also turning them to acid:

Carbon dioxide spewed by human activities has made ocean water so acidic that it is eating away at the shells and skeletons of starfish, coral, clams and other sea creatures, scientists said on Thursday. Marine researchers knew that ocean acidification, as it's called, was occurring in deep water far from land. What they called "truly astonishing" was the appearance of this damaging phenomenon on the Pacific North American continental shelf, stretching from Mexico to Canada.

Oceans have long been repositories for the carbon dioxide, absorbing some 525 billion tonnes of the climate-warming substance over the last two centuries -- about one-third of all human-generated carbon dioxide for that period.

But the daily absorption of 22 million tonnes of the stuff has changed the chemistry and biology of the oceans, turning it corrosive and making it difficult or impossible for some animals to produce their calcium carbonate shells and skeletons. This acidic water is corroding the shells of clams, mussels, starfish and the free-floating sea-snails called pterapods that nourish young salmon, the researchers said, citing data from a 2007 research cruise. Corrosion occurred in water that absorbed carbon dioxide from the atmosphere in 1957, when levels of this gas were considerably lower than they are now, the researchers said.

"This means that even if we were to stop instantaneously the current rate of rise of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, the corrosivity of these upwelling waters would increase for the next 50 years," said Burke Hales, a professor of chemical oceanography at Oregon State University.

(cross posted at appletree and Liberal Avenger)


24 May 2008

Israeli Air Force Nearly Shot Down Tony Blair


I think this qualifies as the most bizarre story of the day:

Tony Blair came within moments of being killed when two Israeli fighter aircraft threatened to shoot down a private jet taking him to a Middle East conference in the belief that it might have been staging a terrorist attack.

The warplanes were scrambled to intercept after the jet pilot failed to contact air traffic control. Mr Blair, the international community’s envoy to the Middle East, was flying from the World Economic Forum (WEF) summit in the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh to attend a major conference on private investment in the Palestinian city of Bethlehem.

Air traffic controllers spotted a suspicious aircraft heading into Israeli airspace from the Sinai peninsula on Monday and made several attempts to establish contact. When the pilot failed to respond to their urgent requests, the Israelis scrambled two fighters to intercept what they feared could have been a terrorist attacker.

Initial investigations into the events indicated a technical malfunction was to blame for the breakdown in communication, the Israeli newspaper Maariv said, adding that new systems had been set up in recent months to identify suspicious aircraft. Israeli fighters have been scrambled on several occasions to intercept potential attackers.

Read the rest here

(cross posted at Liberal Avenger) (via appletree)

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23 May 2008

Something that needed to be said about Gay Marriage and States' Rights

Some people were never fooled by the States' Rights argument

Gay marriage is now legal in California, but other states will not be obligated to recognize these marriages, thanks to the hilariously named Defense of Marriage Act (signed by Bill Clinton, pushed by Thomas Foley, Newt Gingrich, Bob Barr, Bob Livingston, Henry Hyde, David Vitter, and Larry Craig). The act states that while heterosexual marriages performed in one state must be recognized by all states (including Las Vegas quickie marriages conducted by Elvis impersonators), no state is obligated to recognize gay marriages performed in other states.

According to antigay bigots, most of whom would favor a federal ban on gay marriage, forcing states to recognize gay marriages would be a violation of States' Rights. Over at Pandagon, Amanda exposes the sophistry at the heart of the states' rights argument:

It’s bizarre watching wingnuts get into a self-righteous huff about the all-important rights of states, when they only care about it when dismissing the fundamental rights of people. Which of course is never explicitly said, but that’s the point of it: “States’ rights” only seem to matter to people who feel the states can do a better job of oppressing the people than the federal government can. Should the federal government take the opportunity to wield power against individual rights—as they did with the federal ban on certain kinds of late term abortions—nary a peep to be heard from the people who have great love for the rights of states, but not for people.

And once you strip away the spurious logic of the bigots, aren't we left with people on one side of the argument asking to be left alone, and people on the other side claiming that their own marriages are threatened not by their own philandering, abuse, and inattentiveness, but by people whom they will never see or speak to? Can't people just mind their own business, instead of constantly looking for ways to make other people miserable?

(cross posted at Liberal Avenger an appletree)

22 May 2008

If You're Going To Enforce An Idiotic Policy, It Helps To Be An Idiot

Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez

Since Fidel Castro stepped down as head of the Cuban government, a lot of changes have taken place (link link). Dissidents have been released, Cubans are blogging, and for the first time Cubans are allowed to buy DVDs and cell phones. So that means that we'll see an end to the American trade sanction on Cuba, right?


Everything we hear is that it is the same exact repression, fear, brutality that has existed over 49 years. We believe the people deserve to know, and we believe that the political prisoners in those dungeons deserve to know that the international community is paying attention to them.

--Carlos Gutierrez, May 18, 2008

Well, if there haven't been any changes in 49 years, that means the embargo has been unsuccessful and will be lifted, right? RIGHT???


The purpose of the embargo is to deny resources to a regime who is clearly anti-American, who doesn't like our country, and in that regard the embargo has been extremely successful.

--Carlos Gutierrez, May 22, 2008

So, that means that regime change and human rights in Cuba weren't the reasons we were boycotting trade with Cuba?


The policy in Cuba is designed to create changes, and anything that strengthens the regime is something (Bush) is not in favor of. We think what really needs to happen in Cuba is for that system to change.

--Carlos Gutierrez, May 22, 2008

Huh? So the embargo wasn't meant to bring about change, but change is what we want, and it's not what the embargo has produced, so we're going to stick with the embargo. I wonder if Carlos can make that any more clear for us:

Gutierrez said the embargo, imposed in 1962 to undermine the government of Fidel Castro, deprived Cuban leaders of resources they would have used for "ill-focused goals."

(emphasis added, idiocy in original)

(cross posted at Liberal Avenger and appletree)

21 May 2008

Well, THIS is ominous...

However reluctantly, Defense Secretary Robert Gates seems to be joining in with the faction calling for war with Iran

Just a couple of days ago, the Jerusalem Post and NBC News reported that Bush administration officials said that President Bush and Vice President Cheney wanted to attack Iran before the end of Bush's term, and that only the hesitancy of Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice and Defense Secretary Robert Gates prevented such an attack. The White House denied the report, in much the same way that President Bush often denied reports that he was planning to attack Iraq.

But now, it looks like Gates is joining the sabre rattlers:

U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates on Tuesday questioned whether the United States could have productive talks with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad without first stepping up pressure on Tehran. Gates, who a week ago spoke publicly in support of enhanced U.S.-Iranian engagement, said Washington may have had an opportunity to open useful discussions with Iran in 2003 and 2004 while the country was governed by the less hard-line Mohammad Khatami.

"But what we have now is a resurgence of the original hard-line views of the Islamic revolutionaries," Gates said in response to lawmaker questions at a Senate defense appropriations hearing. Gates' comments came at a time when dealing with Iran has become a central issue in the November presidential election campaign.

It looks like Gates is now on board with the White House “get McCain elected by forcing a confrontation with Iran” strategy. Not surprisingly, Joint Chiefs chairman Michael Mullen is also pushing for confrontation. More surprisingly, House speaker Nancy Pelosi has joined the “obliterate Iran” faction.

Meanwhile, chief UN nuclear watchdog Mohamed El Baredei, the man who was right about Iraq's nuclear program, reiterated his assertion that there is no evidence that Iran is trying to build a nuclear weapon.

(cross posted at Liberal Avenger) (via appletree)

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20 May 2008

UK Doctors Refuse to Perform Abortions


From the Daily Mail:

NHS doctors are refusing to carry out late abortions, forcing hospitals to contract them out to private clinics and charities.

Growing moral objections mean three-quarters of the 7,000 terminations performed after 17 weeks of pregnancy each year are outside the Health Service.

The revelation comes as MPs prepare to vote on maintaining the 24-week upper limit for "social" abortions in the biggest Parliamentary battle on the issue for two decades.

I have to agree with this comment from the folks at Ida Express:

MPs are voting tomorrow to cut down the 24 week limit to 13, 16, 18, 20 or 22 weeks. But as they have not decided yet, why are women already being turned away from their local practitioners?

It seems ethical and religious convictions have motivated the NHS to abandon some of their patients, but that in itself crosses another ethical line. All Britains are supposed to be covered by this National Health System 100 %! Religious belief should not come into it at all, and I am shocked that it has. To be turned away by your own local hospital and be told that you now have to pay hundreds of pounds for an abortion, is forcing one person's beliefs on another--that is wrong and if I am correct--illegal!

If the people of the UK prefer an American-style system in which people literally bankrupt themselves paying their medical bills, fine. But it's not fair to say that everyone gets their health care paid for, except pregnant women.

18 May 2008

Rare Eastern Front Photos

(click to inflate)

(click to inflate)

(click to inflate)

See the collection here (17 photos in all)

(cross posted at appletree)


16 May 2008

Bush Administration Just Can't Stop Smearing and Lying

White House spokesmodel Dana Perino (image via Memestream)

President Bush smeared a fellow American while traveling abroad, accusing Barack Obama of trying to appease America's enemies, just as many attempted to appease Hitler before World War II:

Some seem to believe that we should negotiate with the terrorists and radicals, as if some ingenious argument will persuade them they have been wrong all along. We have heard this foolish delusion before. As Nazi tanks crossed into Poland in 1939, an American senator declared: "Lord, if I could only have talked to Hitler, all this might have been avoided." We have an obligation to call this what it is -- the false comfort of appeasement, which has been repeatedly discredited by history. (Applause.)

It was a ridiculous attempt to discredit Obama, for four reasons:

Read more »


13 May 2008

Bush Makes Ultimate Sacrifice for Iraq

Does anyone really believe that Bush quit golf out of respect for the troops? Doesn't it seem more likely that Karl Rove told him that he was hurting himself politically with displays like the one in this video?

Bush says that he quit golf in 2003, out of respect for the families of soldiers killed in Iraq:

"I think playing golf during a war just sends the wrong signal," he said in an interview for Internet hub Yahoo! and Politico magazine. "I don't want some mom whose son may have recently died to see the commander-in-chief playing golf," he said. "I feel I owe it to the families to be in solidarity as best as I can with them."

If Bush is telling the truth about the reason he stopped playing golf, why didn't he stop when we invaded Afghanistan?

(cross posted at Liberal Avenger and appletree)


Again ... Another Abject 'Absence' Apology

Sorry to take so long in getting back to everyone, and thanks again to good old Gordo for holding the fort for us.

But, boy, doesn't time just darned well fly when you're having fun?

It's a already fortnight yesterday since we arrived here in Fethiye, Mugla, right on southern Turkey's beautiful Mediterranean coast - and the tan's coming along quite nicely thank you.

Biggest bits of international news we've been made aware of - merely verbally - are as follows:

(a) Britain's recent local elections saw New labour being battered and beaten into THIRD place nationally, by both the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats. This was the greatest British political slaughter of a socialist party for over four decades. Talk about sending Gordon Brown Co a strong signal, eh?

(b) Hilary Clinton's still stone cold dead & buried (providentially speaking) but still won't lie down.

(c) Although it may not seem much to none Brits, the Conservative party's professional buffoon Boris Johnson has beaten Ken Livingstone in the latest poll for the position of Mayor of London. Our bewildered minds are still in a state of bogglement.

Okay, if any one's at all interested in what's happening locally here in Fethiye, one of the jewels in this particular region's famous 'Land of Lights' area, here's what's grabbed our attention over the last fortnight.

Three US senators whose names escape us ( a quick google should help) have been visiting this lovely, hot-spot for foreign tourists -- as has an official representative of the US's 'NASA'. And, yep, you read that right.

(Don't even ask us.)

Once again, maybe good old Google can enlighten anyone curious enough to want to find out out more.

More big news here is that although the tourist trade is still (just) managing to stay out of reverse gear, as it were, not to put too fine a point on it the Turkish economy (like many others) is getting pretty close to falling flat on it's arse.

The one exception is the housing/construction sector. This is due largely to the increasing numbers of foreigners (like my brother), wanting their personal sunny spot in 'Paradise' -- while they're still alive (and well heeled) enough to enjoy it.

However ... the Government have just placed restrictions on the number of future homes which are being allowed to be bought by foreigners.


We wonder if the obvious upcoming supply and demand 'opportunities' this situation seems bound to present is in any way connected with the recent official American interest being shown?

Well, right now your guess is as good as ours.

As for NASA ... like we said earlier ... don't even ask.

Oh, by the way, as elsewhere across the globe the price of rice has suddenly rocketed. That's bigger news than you may imagine, as it's the Turks 'staple' - especially for the regular man, woman and family in the street. In one month it's price has doubled.

Also, after being close to claiming the undisputed, outright title for for quite a while now -- Turkey is now the dearest place in the world in which to buy petrol.

What a weird old world we're living in today, eh?

Especially since Turkey has borders with both Iraq and Iran.

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12 May 2008

I can't even begin to describe the depth of my disgust for Tony Blair

Tony Blair, pretending to give an edgewise crap about his wife's miscarriage

From the Telegraph:

Cherie Blair discloses today that she "could not believe" news of her miscarriage was released early for political reasons, such was the obsession with media management among the former Prime Minister’s inner circle.

In the latest extracts from her memoirs, Mrs Blair says she spoke to Alistair Campbell, the Prime Minister’s media chief, within hours of the miscarriage in 2002.

Mr Blair and Mr Campbell told her that they would be announcing news of the loss to avert false speculation about an early invasion of Iraq.

Mrs Blair recounts how she visited the hospital and was told: "There is no heart beat, Mrs Blair. I am afraid the baby is dead."

Mrs Blair telephoned her husband to tell him what had happened. She was then shocked to be called back by both Mr Blair and Mr Campbell saying that the press announcement was to be made for political reasons.

"I couldn’t believe it," she said. "There was I was bleeding, and they were talking about what was going to be the line to the press. I put down the receiver and lay there staring at the ceiling as pain began to grip."

(cross posted at Liberal Avenger and appletree)

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11 May 2008

You Screwed Up Mother's Day Again, Didn't You?

Mom! Not in front of the guys!

Mother's Day is now well underway (in fact, it's over already if you live in Asia), so it's too late to send flowers. You're just a terrible child.

But I found something that might make you feel a bit better today. It's a touching message from the folks at Things I Did Last Night.

(cross posted at Liberal Avenger and appletree)

Bonus alternative photo and caption! Exclusive content, just for readers of This Old Brit! Woo!:

Mum! Not in front of the blokes!

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09 May 2008

Clinton Is Well And Truly Done

I wouldn't illustrate this story with a film clip that compares Hillary Clinton to Hitler, but this one was too funny to resist

Now, it's really over. Obama is well ahead in pledged delegates, and now leads in the superdelegate count as well. Sources inside the Obama camp say that he will claim victory on May 20, and Clinton's campaign chairman indicated that she will concede in June. At this point, I wouldn't be surprised if the race officially comes to a close within the next week.

Here's what I think Obama has to do now: make it up to Clinton's supporters by finding a qualified woman to serve as running mate. Here's the one I like:

Anna Eshoo

Anna Eshoo of California has served more than 10 years in the House, and her experience on the Intelligence Committee would help make up for Obama's perceived lack of experience (link). She's been a staunch defender of civil liberties and she voted against the Iraq War resolution. A technology expert who serves on the Energy and Commerce Committee, so she should be able to help Obama craft a response to soaring energy prices. Finally, she co-chairs the House Medical Technology Caucus, so she'd be able to work with Obama to help address the health care issue, which is sure to be a big challenge for him when he takes office.

As of now, Eshoo is a real longshot, because she's a relative unknown. But I think that when he selects a running mate, Obama should do so with an eye toward keeping the party together.

(cross posted at Liberal Avenger and appletree)


08 May 2008

Canada vs. United States

Maria Merziotis, after her 3rd place finish at last year's science fair

17 year-old Maria Merziotis won Canada's national science fair by inventing a new method of identifying and treating flu infections:

"It's not the long-sought cure for the common cold but a 17-year-old Ottawa high school student won a national science competition today by developing a novel way of identifying and perhaps even fighting flu infections. Maria Merziotis, a Grade 12 student at Hillcrest High School, won a $5,000 first prize and a chance to take her discovery to an international competition in San Diego next month.

"The flu virus attacks human cells by binding to a compound called sialic acid, or sialyllactose, on the cell surface. Merziotis synthesized a floating form of the acid, which dupes the virus with an alternative attachment site.

"A team of three Toronto Grade 10 students, Jonathan Schneider, Josh Alman and Norman Yau from the University of Toronto School, won the $4,000 second prize for identifying genes that help a plant thrive in salty soil. Vandana Rawal, a 15-year-old from Montreal's Centennial Regional High School, won third place and $3,000 for discovering a human gene variation that may help in dealing with bipolar disorder.

"Health Canada is already looking at Merziotis's work, which offers a new way of identifying, and perhaps even fighting different influenza strains."

So one Canadian teen invented a new way of fighting the flu, another identified genes for thriving in salty soil, and a team of high school sophomores discovered a possible genetic cause of bipolar disorder.

Meanwhile, more Creation Science Fairs are held every year across the United States.

(cross posted at Liberal Avenger and appletree)

06 May 2008

What Are We Doing To Iraq?

Here's what 13-year-old boys do in the United States. In Iraq, they raise families.

CNN has a must-see video report on Yassir, a 13-year-old who's been working as a shoemaker for 3 years to support his nine younger siblings. According to CNN, "the Iraqi government says that hundreds of thousands of children have lost one or both parents to violence." According to the Iraqi government, there are now 4.5 million orphans in Iraq.

(via Gorilla's Guides) (cross posted at Liberal Avenger and appletree)


05 May 2008

Abject Apologies For Unauthorised Absence ... Well, Sort Of ...

Merhaba, from Turkey!

Just to let everyone know we're still in the land of the living, and to take the opportunity to thank to Gordo for doing such a great job of keeping the old blog going. Not forgetting yourselves of course, for carrying on reading.

We appreciate you all. Really.

First off, my brother in Afghanistan is okay.

Secondly, my brother in Turkey is fine too. I positively can vouch for that, as I'm temporarily living right next door to him for a little while.

We've already been here a week but have spent that week completely resting from all and every method of communication -- very deliberately. Isn't old age awful?

Anyway, we'll be catching up with civilisation again shortly - via 'the media' - for what it's worth. Once we have some idea of what we've been missing - for better or worse - we'll be putting our two penneth of big boots back in - like it or not.

By the way, we wish you all could be here. The travel industry doesn't call Turkey "Paradise" for nothing.

Believe us.

Stay tuned.

(Thanks for the emails, btw. You know who you are. From where we are, we can't access our google mailbox but we can get into - rickrhona at aol dot com )


Baby Throwing Video

(cross posted at appletree and Liberal Avenger)


04 May 2008

Rumsfeld Tried To Blame Generals For His Own Screw-Ups

Overwhelmed by shame, Rumsfeld plucks his own eyes out

After the initial invasion of Iraq, General Ricardo Sanchez was given 30,000 men and put in charge of keeping the peace. Within a year, the country was in chaos, and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld was looking for someone to blame. Here's how Sanchez describes his last meeting with Rumsfeld:

Secretary Rumsfeld then pulled out a two-page memo and handed it to me. "I wrote this after a promotion interview about two weeks ago," he explained. "The officer told me that one of the biggest mistakes we made after the war was to allow CENTCOM and CFLCC to leave the Iraq theater immediately after the fighting stopped — and that left you and V Corps with the entire mission."

"Yes, that's right," I said.

"Well, how could we have done that?" he said in an agitated, but adamant, tone. "I knew nothing about it. Now, I'd like you to read this memo and give me any corrections."

In the memo, Rumsfeld stated that one of the biggest strategic mistakes of the war was ordering the major redeployment of forces and allowing the departure of the CENTCOM and CFLCC staffs in May�June 2003.

"This left General Sanchez in charge of operations in Iraq with a staff that had been focused at the operational and tactical level, but was not trained to operate at the strategic/operational level." He went on to write that neither he nor anyone higher in the Administration knew these orders had been issued, and that he was dumbfounded when he learned that Gen. McKiernan was out of the country and in Kuwait, and that the forces would be drawn down to a level of about 30,000 by September. "I did not know that Sanchez was in charge," he wrote.

I stopped reading after I read that last statement, because I knew it was total BS.

Take some anti-nausea medication and read the rest here.

(cross posted at Liberal Avenger and appletree)


03 May 2008

McCain Confirms Iraq War was Fought Over Oil


Whoops! Looks like John W. McCain just confirmed what every reasonably objective person already knew: if it weren't for oil, we wouldn't be in Iraq.

Of course, Senator McWar quickly crafted a lie to cover for his accidental honesty:

Republican John McCain was forced to clarify his comments Friday suggesting the Iraq war involved U.S. reliance on foreign oil. He said he was talking about the first Gulf War and not the current conflict. At issue was a comment he made at a town hall-style meeting Friday morning in Denver.

Right. Because the 1991 war with Iraq would naturally be what was in the forefront of Senator McCain's mind. Why would anyone think that he was talking about the current war in Iraq?

This isn't the first time McCain has had a problem with accidentally telling the truth. Jon Stewart attributes the inadvertant truth-telling to McCain's magic campaign bus.

(cross posted at Liberal Avenger and appletree)

02 May 2008

NYT Accepts Obama Victory, Most Media Continues To Pretend Clinton Has A Chance

It's raining forks over at the Clinton campaign headquarters

It's over. Even the Clinton's hometown newspaper, the New York Times, says so. That's significant, because the Times has been a Clinton booster since the beginning of the campaign. The Times doesn't explicitly say that Obama's got the nomination locked up, but it comes very close:

Despite a series of trials that have put Mr. Obama on the defensive and illustrated the burdens he might carry in a fall campaign, the Obama campaign is rolling along, leaving Mrs. Clinton with dwindling options. On Thursday, Obama got a boost from a high-profile defection: Joe Andrew, a former Democratic national chairman appointed by former President Bill Clinton, said he had changed his mind and would back Mr. Obama. Even after Mrs. Clinton’s victory in Pennsylvania, Mr. Obama has held on to a solid lead in pledged delegates, those selected by the voting in primaries and caucuses.

By and large, the group that matters most at this point — the uncommitted superdelegates, who are likely to hold the balance of power — still seem to view their decision the way the Obama campaign would like them to see it. They suggest that they are more sympathetic to the argument that they should follow the will of the voters as expressed by the delegates amassed by the candidates when the primary season is done rather than following Mrs. Clinton’s admonitions to select the candidate they think would best be able to defeat Senator John McCain and the Republicans in November.

Read more »


01 May 2008

Analysts Dispute Photos of Alleged Syrian Nuclear Facility

If it turns out that the Bush administration is faking evidence of WMD in order to justify a war, it won't be for the first time.

Ever since Israel bombed a site they claimed was a nuclear reactor inside Syria, the Bush administration cited the facility as evidence that Syria is pursuing nuclear weapons, and that North Korea is providing the necessary technology (link). We're told that recently-declassified photos prove that if Israel had not destroyed the facility, it would soon be making bomb-grade nuclear material. Now, North Korea's own nuclear device didn't work, so it's hard to see how they could provide Syria with a usable weapon. But forget the details-- we've got sabers to rattle!

Unfortunately for the warmongers in the Bush administration, it looks like the their smoking gun is a fake:

The CIA published three aerial photographs last week purporting to show a Syrian nuclear reactor, bombed by Israel last September. But are the pictures all that they seem? Doubts about their authenticity have been raised by Professor William Beeman, head of anthropology at the University of Minnesota, who has had a long involvement with the Middle East.

He posted on a Los Angeles Times website a note received from a "colleague with US security clearance" pointing out "irregularities". The unnamed colleague said a picture taken before the bombing looked as if it had been digitally enhanced, noting that the lower part of the building, the annexe and the windows pointing south appeared much sharper than the rest.

He also questioned why the alleged reactor had no air defences, no military checkpoints and no powerlines. Turning to two shots of the bombed building, he noted that the first showed a rectangular building and the second a square one. Were they the same building?

In fact, one of the photos looks so unreal that it's hard to believe that the administration tried to pass if off as genuine:


Here's what the LA Times' blogger has to say about it:

The lower part of the building, the annex, and the windows pointing south appear much sharper than the rest of the photo, suggesting that they were digitally improved.

The author points to more questions about the photographs of the Syrian site.

1. Satellite photos of the alleged reactor building show no air defenses or anti-aircraft batteries such as the ones found around the Natanz nuclear site in central Iran.

2. The satellite images do not show any military checkpoints on roads near the building.

3. Where are the power lines? The photos show neither electricity lines or substations.

4. Here is a link to a photo of the North Korean facility that the Syrian site was based on. Look at all the buildings surrounding it. The Syrian site was just one building.

So it looks like Bush is trying to lie us into a war yet again. And at the same time, the administration is pursuing a policy that will ensure that one day an unfriendly Middle Eastern nation will have nuclear weapons. Because in the end, it matters little whether Syria, Iran, or any other country in the region is currently pursuing nuclear weapons. As long as Israel remains the only nuclear power in the region, Israel's neighbors will periodically embark on programs to manufacture nuclear weapons of their own. And one of these days, despite our efforts, they will succeed.

The first step toward ensuring that Syria and Iran don't develop nuclear weapons, then, is to persuade Israel to disarm. Naturally, Barack Obama is the only candidate with a foreign policy adviser who's honest enough to state the obvious:

Israel should give up its nuclear weapons to ensure Iran halts its illicit nuclear program, argues an adviser on nuclear issues to Sen. Barack Obama.

Joseph Cirincione, director of nuclear policy at the Center for American Progress, also previously dismissed reports Israel's Sept. 6 airstrike targeted a Syrian nuclear reactor as "nonsense" and called Damascus' nuclear program "miniscule."

Immediately following Israel's air raid, Cirincione listed "Israelis [who] want to thwart any dialogue between the U.S. and Syria" as among those spreading rumors Syria was constructing a nuclear facility.

Cirincione was commenting on a Sept. 13 Washington Post story about possible links between Syria and North Korea.

(cross posted at Liberal Avenger and appletree)

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