Saturday, August 19, 2006  

Did you know

there is a beetle named after Hitler? And that it is so beloved by extreme-rightists that they are collecting it to extinction?
If Anophthalmus hitleri does die out, it would mean the demise of the only creature on the planet currently named after the Nazi dictator. Rochlingia hitleri, a flying insect fossil named after Hitler in 1934 was already extinct at its christening.
Apparently they sell for almost $1300.
read the rest- the punchline is at the end.


Permit me to introduce myself...

Music is My Life Politics My Mistress

is the new sharp and stylish documentary on the late, great Oscar Brown, Jr.
If you see one film in LA this week, make it this one.

Screening @ LA Landmark Westside Pavilion Cinemas
August 24-26 4:30 pm
August 27-30 2:10 pm
Appearance by Director: donnie l. betts on 8/24-25
10800 Pico Boulevard at Overland Avenue
West Los Angeles, CA 90064
Tickets (310) 281-8223/
Sponsored in part by Fairchild Tax Service

And check out the website and do not skip the into. It has some of the best, hippest, 50's inspired graphics I have seen in a long, long time.


Of cabbages and Kings

(ok, maybe more like shrubs and dictators...)
Federal judge Anna Diggs Taylor has had the unmitigated bravery to declare Bush's warrentless surveillance program unconstitutional. "There are no hereditary kings in America," said Taylor.
Not surprisingly, Bushco's attack dog Gonzalez is hammering his heels and threatening to appeal the decision, claiming that a) it is so constitutional,and b) it does work, so there!

Judge Taylor's ruling comes on the heels of the Supreme Court's ruling in Hamdan v Rumsfeld, which pulled the Bush Administration up short and pointed out that contrary to their burning desire to circumvent the Constitution by declaring a broad war powers strategy (and note that Bush has since, almost gleefully, declared that we [and I use we rather loosely- I know I wasn't consulted]are engaged in a long, potentially endless war against whomever is the "fascist du jour" (no, not Cheney, sorry), the current administration is obliged to follow the Constitution, just like the rest of us, as terribly plebian as that may sound.

Judge Taylor's wording is rather interesting, in light of the fact there has been talk of running another Bush- Jeb Bush- for the Republican nomination.

But more important is the rejection of the Oliver North doctrine that one has to circumvent (or shred-depending on your definition) the Constitution in order to save it.

And that, coupled with the growing doubts over the "terrorirst threat" from Great Britain (you know- the one where few, if any, of the conspirators have passports, none had plane tickets, the "liquid explosives" are reportedly so unstable that any would-be bomber would probably blow himself up first, and the US pushed and pushed and got Pakistan to worm a confession out of one of the "suspects"-yep, looks like a threat to me...)- may well cut a few support beams out from under the endless war on endless hords of people who "hate us."

Democracy Now has an interesting analysis of Taylor's ruling. Listen up here

Thursday, August 17, 2006  

post-Haditha I

The investigation found that an official company logbook of the unit involved had been tampered with and that an incriminating video taken by an aerial drone the day of the killings was not given to investigators until Lt. Gen. Peter W. Chiarelli, the second-ranking commander in Iraq, intervened, the officials said.

Those findings, contained in a long report that was completed last month but not made public, go beyond what has been previously reported about the case. It has been known that marines who carried out the killings made misleading statements to investigators and that senior officers were criticized for not being more aggressive in investigating the case, in which most or all of the Iraqis who were killed were civilians. But this is the first time details about possible concealment or destruction of evidence have been disclosed.

This does not look good, not at all.
read the rest here


What war has wrought...

The Lebanon war may mark a watershed point in the way American foreign policy in the region is perceived by Arab moderates, the constituency the Bush administration supposedly wants to woo. While armchair strategists debate the “real reasons”—is Iran manipulating Hezbollah? Is Bush behind Olmert? etc. —behind this meaningless and unnecessary war, from the perspective of Arab moderates several conclusions present themselves.

Issandr El Amrani of The Arabist has a very thoughtful op-ed on Tom Paine today. Click here to see what this Moroccan-American journalist based in Cairo has to say.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006  

Every man an artist

or just about. If Bush can read Satre's The Stranger (although I think "read" is being generous-I am suprised Laura isn't reading it to him), you can paint like Jackson Pollock!

Click here to try and then go read Camus yourself.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006  

You say pohtato, I say pahtahto...

Dan Quayle aside, it seems that the clearing haze (barely clearing haze, I should say) is bringing forward the issue of just where were those Israeli soldiers when they were captured by Hizbollah?
In Israel?
In Lebanon?

From Counterpunch comes the following:
A Lebanese government official told this writer that the first information about the soldiers' capture in southern Lebanon came from the Lebanese Army Police, a source also quoted in many media accounts. "At the beginning the Lebanese Army said it was on the Lebanese side," the official told me. The verbatim Army communique' to the Lebanese government follows: " 'At 9:03 or 9:05am in the vicinity or in front of Ayt Al Shaab village the members of the resistance have abducted two soldiers. At 9:15am the resistance shelled the position of the enemy in the occupied territories. At 10:10am the Resistance and Israeli forces clashed with each other in the area of Naqoura,' on Lebanon's side of the border."

and also this:
Newsweek's Michael Hirsh of, on July 12, said: "As a result, things are blowing up so quickly it's difficult to know where to focus any longer. After the kidnapping of two Israeli soldiers by Hizbullah in Lebanon on Wednesday, which the hard-line group linked to a similar kidnapping by Hamas the week before, the mideast seemed to be closer to all-out war."

By July 13, the story out of's Jerusalem bureau was different. In a piece titled "Crisis allows Israel to pursue strategic goals- Kidnappings give Israel excuse to neutralize Hamas, Hezbollah", Jerusalem bureau chief Steven Gutkin wrote: "Kidnappings changed everything: All that changed Wednesday, when Hezbollah guerillas crossed into Israel, seizing Goldwasser and Regev and killing eight other soldiers in the ensuing fighting.(read the rest)
Some serious spin is going on.

If, as this commentary suggests, the soldiers were inside Lebanon, even one inch, there are some serious questions that need to be raised and answered. In addition, everyone who has been howling about Israel's right to defend itself, may want to reconsider their position.
To begin with, it is really hard to see how two soldiers equal more than 700 civilina lives, most of a country's infrastructure and several dead UN volunteers, not to mention a push into a next door country which has caused a massive refugee crisis.
And, then, there is the question of what were those soldiers doing in Lebanon? (if that is where they were?)
This would not be the first time a country used an incident as a pretext to start a war, especially a pretext as well-spun as this might be.

Remember The Maine? No? Maybe you should.

Monday, August 14, 2006  

File under WTF

"If our fighters deep in Lebanese territory are left without food our water, I believe they can break into local Lebanese stores to solve that problem," Brigadier General Avi Mizrahi, the head of the Israel Defense Forces logistics branch, said Monday.
(the rest)

There are SO many things wrong with this I don't know where to begin with this story from Haaretz, of all publications.

So, let's start from the beginning..."deep in Lebanese territory". What does this mean? Deeper than the Litani River? That's already going in pretty far. Are we talking Beirut? This quote was in Monday's paper (ie today, for those of us in North America). Although there is a ceasefire suppoedly in effect, someone high up in the IDF is thinking "deeper". The Israelis are already at the Litani. They bombed a caravan of refugees going north. They have threated the peace and supply caravan head south. How far in is "deeper?"

"they can break into local Lebanese stores to solve that problem"

One of the most armed, most funded (give me back my taxes-NOW )is being encouraged to act like common pillagers or cut-rate, Third World armies. This is disgusting (among many other disgusting acts- but this one wins the blue ribbon for today). It shows NO concern for the civilian population and an appalling lack of interest in the welfare of their own citizens. I am no fan of the IDF or armies in general- in fact, I think they're basically pointless and have for years- but that's just me- but, come on. If you are sending people to fight and die for you- do you think you could at least give them food and water? It's not like the Israelis are crossing an ocean or anything- and they already control much of the South.

(part II later- I'm really not done with this)

Sunday, August 13, 2006  

Brought to you by the letters t.e.r.r.o.r.i.s.m. p.o.r. and n...

It's rather interesting to read letters to the editor in other publications in other countries. The British, for example, are so civilized. "Dear Sir," they start...and then go on to something like this:
We have been told that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction, that Jean Charles de Menezes wore a puffa jacket in the summer time as he jumped over a barrier and ignored police warnings to "halt", and that a house in Forest Gate was a bomb factory. All of these were completely untrue. Some were even deliberate lies.

Is it too much to expect that we get some balanced (even cynical) reporting rather than over-excitable, sensationalist "terrorism porn" the Government and police require from a compliant media to push through their political agenda?
I LOVE that term: terrorism porn

From the UK Independent

It will be interesting to see how this plays out, especially in light of Seymour Hersh's article on the US and Israel in the New Yorker this month (see post below).

Like many others, I feel the timing and the level of the terror plot du jour to be oddly convenient. And the fact that so many of the "suspects" are home-grown, combines the slick prescience of pragmatic racism ("but did you really think they could ever be like us?) with the just below the surface hysteria of the cold war (but there are sleepers, I tell you, sleepers among us!) to create a more insidious bloodhound for the governmental neo-cons - the zealous nativist who is suddenly a pragmatic neighborhood watch groupie.


Morning in Phonecia

is dawning and it remains to be seen how the cease-fire is holding.
"The Lebanese government is our address for every problem or violation of the [ceasefire] agreement," Israel's Prime Minister, Ehud Olmert, said yesterday, as if realising the truce would not hold.

And that, of course, provides yet another excuse for Israel to attack the civilian infrastructure of Lebanon.

This from Robert Fisk reporting from Lebanon for the Uk Independent.

I would suggest checking with AFP, Reuters or Al Jazeera in a few hours to find out how things are.


And now you know

why Bush took so long to get to calling for a cease-fire, why Rice stuck to the "sustainable cease-fire" script through every stop in the Middle East and everywhere else she went, and why the US scurried to fill a rush order by the Israelis for more weaponry and cluster bombs (more on these hideous, immoral weapons in a later post). According to an article in the Monday Guardian, Bush assisted the Israelis in planning the invasion of Lebanon and that Lebanon/Hizbollah is a test run for Iran.

The article references Seymour Hersh's article in this month's issue of the New Yorker:
Quoting a US government consultant, Hersh said: "Earlier this summer ... several Israeli officials visited Washington, separately, 'to get a green light for the bombing operation and to find out how much the United States would bear'."

The Israeli action, current and former government officials told Hersh, chimed with the Bush administration's desire to reduce the threat of possible Hizbullah retaliation against Israel should the US launch a military strike against Iran.

"A successful Israeli Air Force bombing campaign ... could ease Israel's security concerns and also serve as a prelude to a potential American pre-emptive attack to destroy Iran's nuclear installations," sources told Hersh.
click here to access part of the New Yorker article

Any indictments for war crimes against the Lebanese people need to include Goerge W. Bush and co.

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