Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Pentagon Can Now Fund Foreign Militaries

Congress has granted unusual authority for the Pentagon to spend as much as $200 million of its own budget to aid foreign militaries, a break with the traditional practice of channeling foreign military assistance through the State Department.

The move, included in a little-noticed provision of the 2006 National Defense Authorization Act passed last month, marks a legislative victory for Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, who pushed hard for the new powers.

Friday, January 27, 2006

How US Lost Billions in Wild West Gamble in Iraq

An audit of US reconstruction in Iraq has uncovered the squandering of tens of millions of dollars. The report found problems with nearly 2,000 contracts worth $88.1 million.

Here is a small sample of the problems:

$108,140 paid to contractor to refurbish Olympic swimming pool in Hilla. Work never done

$662,800 paid to repair Hilla hospital. Much of work never done, including renewing central lift. Three people later died when lift crashed

$40,000 gambled away by US soldier assigned as assistant to Iraqi Olympic boxing team on trip to Philippines

$2 million locked in a the bathroom safe of a US official

$678,000 stashed away in an unlocked foot locker

$473,000 paid for internet installation in Ramadi. Work never done

A seperate congressional inquiry found $12 billion in cash was flown into Baghdad, weighing 363 tonnes, shipped in on C17 cargo planes.

The cash arrived on pallets loaded with shrink-wrapped bundles of crisp $100 bills. The parcels, which soon became known as “bricks”, were handed out “like candy”, one Democrat congressman said.

On December 12, 2003, one single flight to Iraq contained $1.5 billion in cash, the largest single Federal Reserve payout in US history, according to Rep. Henry Waxman.

A detailed account of this $12 billion in cash seems as unlikely as the tooth fairy.

Someone Tell Bush About The Updated Hamas Platform

After the Hamas victory in Palestinian elections, President Bush told reporters in a White House press conference:

"I have made it very clear, however, that a political party that articulates the destruction of Israel as part of its platform is a party with which we will not deal."

"I don't see how you can be a partner in peace if you advocate the destruction of a country as part of your platform."

However, Hamas recently dropped its call for the destruction of Israel.

Wolf Blitzer seems to have also missed this important development as CNN continues to play up the "destruction of Israel" angle all day long .

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Don't Be Evil

Monday, January 23, 2006

Castles Everywhere

A Man Without A Country

Terrorist or Patriot?

V for Vendetta questions government.

"The movie depicts a bleak world, but I think it's hopeful about what people can do to change it," Natalie Portman says. "It shows the opportunities people have to stand up for themselves and make their individuality heard and not blend into some amorphous mass."


"You can feel a groundswell of people asking questions about their governments that wasn't there last summer," says McTeigue, the director. "Now not a day goes by where we don't have a discussion about terrorism."

If the movie has an overt message, it's that people shouldn't fear their governments; governments should fear their people.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Good Morning Iraq

Baghdad today, where tomorrow?

An Iraqi soldier flashes the v-sign as he patrols the streets. Meanwhile, rebels launch new attacks as the election results were announced and Iraqi political parties get ready for negotiations on the structure of the national government.

(Notice the chocolate chip camo, an American throw away because of its dismal record in the field, ie the black patches made for easy target practice. Nice touch.)

"Security Incidents" on Saturday

"Security Incidents" on Friday

Bombings Kill (at least) 15 in Iraq Capital on Thursday

The Real Struggle For Power Begins In Iraq

Iraq Rebels Plan Bombs, Not Talks After Polls

Iraq's Kurds Still Set On Independence

US Forces Close Road, Forcing Iraqi Drivers Onto A Killing Field

What Happened to Billions In Reconstruction Aid?

Iraq Conditioning US Army For Guerilla War

America Is Not Rome

Of Course The Chinese Didn't Discover America

And Columbus neither.

Simon Jenkins of The Guardian agrees:

The Chinese map is plainly a hoax. It not only shows North and South America as massive continents, which no sailor could possibly have known. It accurately depicts Alaska, the curve of central America and the Yucatan peninsula, not to mention the Mississippi and St Lawrence rivers. It shows Australia and the land mass of Antarctica beneath it, and New Zealand as two islands.

Even normally chauvinistic Chinese scholars have rubbished the find. They pointed out last week that the cartographic portrayal of the Earth as two circles on a flat sheet is European. The most obvious "mistake", showing California as an island, is clearly borrowed from mistakes made in 17th-century European maps. Nor are the Chinese characters properly medieval, that for the western God postdating the arrival of Jesuit missionaries. Zheng He's 15th-century travels in the Indian Ocean were indeed sensational, but they were well authenticated. Why diminish them by faking a circumnavigation? Besides, since the map is a copy, there is no way of verifying any original.

Lighter Fare for the Weekend

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

"Freedom is Crawling - Over Broken Glass"

Or so says a State Dept. Official.

Rather than freedom on the march, it is islamism that has been the "big windfall winner."

Islamists Gain Ground from Americans Push for Mideast Democracy

George W. Bush Iraqi Update

Monday, January 16, 2006

Clans Clash in Palestine without a Common Enemy

Palestinians at war as blood feuds follow Israeli pullout

The Observer reports that "Law and order has collapsed in Gaza ahead of elections this month. Powerful clans, suddenly without a common enemy to unite them, are killing each other and seeking to sweep aside the heirs of Arafat, condemned as weak and corrupt."

MLK on Iraq and Marxism

Juan Cole presents 10 Things Martin Luther King Would Have Done About Iraq

The basis for Cole's extrapolation is MLK's 1967 address entitled "Beyond Vietnam."

David Beito has a great quote on MLK's opposition to Marxism from his book Stride Toward Freedom: The Montgomery Story.

Zogby: 52% Say Congress Should Consider Impeachment

The poll found that 52% agreed with the statement:

"If President Bush wiretapped American citizens without the approval of a judge, I agree that congress should consider holding him accountable through impeachment."

43% disagreed and 6% said they didn't know or declined to answer. The poll has a +/- 2.9% margin of error.

The poll was conducted by Zogby International and included 1,216 U.S. adults between Jan. 9-12.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

The Demographics Behind Israel's Withdrawal

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Bremer: I Was a Pentagon Scapegoat

Paul Bremer, the former head of the coalition provisional authority, has some harsh words about his year-long stay in Iraq in a new book.

A few highlights:

- Bremer called for more troops in Iraq, a request that fell on the deaf ears of Bush, Rumsfeld, and Rice.

- He calls U.S. allies "weak-kneed" and having a case of "cold feet."

- Of Spanish forces, he says: "They are sitting in tanks around the compound and doing nothing," he wrote, quoting from notes he made at the time. "It's a perfect outrage - I call it the 'coalition of the not-at-all-willing'."

- Mr Bremer says the Pentagon was guilty of "institutional inertia." He says he told then national security adviser Condoleeza Rice that "[w]e've become the worst of all things: an ineffective occupier."

- On the subject of the Iraqi exiles who formed the initial Iraqi governing council in 2003, he says "[t]hey couldn't organise a parade, let alone a country."

Thursday, January 05, 2006

The "State of War" Scoop

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Downloadable History

The BBC is in the process of opening up its video archive to the masses for a variery of non-commercial uses.

80 news reports are available so far ranging from the fall of the Berlin Wall and protesters in Tianamen Square to Elivs' funeral and the London poll tax riot.

CIA Gives Iran Formula for Nuclear Bomb

James Risen's new book "State of War" recounts a portion of a CIA operation code-named Merlin which is said to have occurred in February 2000.

The plan involved a Russian defector providing Tehran with a faulty blueprint for a nuclear bomb. The error was supposedly meant to derail the Iranian government's efforts in acquiring any nuclear capability.

According to The New York Daily News, the Russian engineer was given plans for a "firing set" for a Russian-designed bomb - the trigger for a chain reaction that Iran needed to build its own nukes.

As ordered, he got the documents to a high-ranking Iranian official visiting Tehran's mission to the International Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna.

But in a renegade act, he included a letter red-flagging the flaw in the instructions and offering to help Iran overcome it - for a price, the book says.

9/11 Raw Live Footage

15 minutes of television between the first plane crash at 8:48 and the second at 9:03, as seen on the morning news shows.

Toronto Star synopsis of U.S. footage from major news outlets.

Complete archive via tvnews3.televisionarchive.org/tvarchive/html

Countries Ranked by Level of Corruption

Courtesy of NationMaster.com

1. Bangladesh
2. Nigeria
3. Haiti
4. Burma
5. Paraguay
6. Azerbaijan
7. Cameron
8. Tajikstan
9. Angola
10. Georgia

130 countries ranked in total.