Saturday, December 31, 2005
by JONATHAN SCHELL
[from the January 9, 2006 issue]
When the New York Times revealed that George W. Bush had ordered the National Security Agency to wiretap the foreign calls of American citizens without seeking court permission, as is indisputably required by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), passed by Congress in 1978, he faced a decision. Would he deny the practice, or would he admit it? He admitted it. But instead of expressing regret, he took full ownership of the deed, stating that his order had been entirely justified, that he had in fact renewed it thirty times, that he would continue to renew it and--going even more boldly on the offensive--that those who had made his law-breaking known had committed a "shameful act." As justification, he offered two arguments, one derisory, the other deeply alarming. The derisory one was that Congress, by authorizing him to use force after September 11, had authorized him to suspend FISA, although that law is unmentioned in the resolution. Thus has Bush informed the members of a supposedly co-equal branch of government of what, unbeknownst to themselves, they were thinking when they cast their vote. The alarming argument is that as Commander in Chief he possesses "inherent" authority to suspend laws in wartime. But if he can suspend FISA at his whim and in secret, then what law can he not suspend? What need is there, for example, to pass or not pass the Patriot Act if any or all of its provisions can be secretly exceeded by the President?
Bush's choice marks a watershed in the evolution of his Administration. Previously when it was caught engaging in disgraceful, illegal or merely mistaken or incompetent behavior, he would simply deny it. "We have found the weapons of mass destruction!" "We do not torture!" However, further developments in the torture matter revealed a shift. Even as he denied the existence of torture, he and his officials began to defend his right to order it. His Attorney General, Alberto Gonzales, refused at his confirmation hearings to state that the torture called waterboarding, in which someone is brought to the edge of drowning, was prohibited. Then when Senator John McCain sponsored a bill prohibiting cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment of prisoners, Bush threatened to veto the legislation to which it was attached. It was only in the face of majority votes in both houses against such treatment that he retreated from his claim. .................
WASHINGTON The Justice Department has opened another investigation into leaks of classified information, this time to determine who divulged the existence of President Bush's secret domestic spying program. The inquiry focuses on disclosures to The New York Times about warrantless surveillance conducted by the National Security Agency since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, officials said. The newspaper recently revealed the existence of the program in a front-page story that also acknowledged that the news had been withheld from publication for a year, partly at the request of the administration and partly because the newspaper wanted more time to confirm various aspects of the program. White House spokesman Trent Duffy said Justice undertook the action on its own, and Bush was informed of it Friday. ``The leaking of classified information is a serious issue. The fact is that al-Qaida's playbook is not printed on Page One and when America's is, it has serious ramifications,'' Duffy told reporters in Crawford, Texas, where Bush was spending the holidays. Catherine Mathis, a spokeswoman for the Times, declined to comment. An article in the Times on Saturday said that Executive Editor Bill Keller also declined comment. ..............
if you have a functioning brain that is. an EVOLVED brain that is: ID is creationism in a lab coat. i simply don't know how this got passed in kansas. a MAJORITY of people CANNOT BELIEVE this myth?
It's no fun being a biology teacher in Kansas
`Popular Science' says the job ranks right up there with human lab rat and manure inspector. What do the teachers think?
By Lisa Anderson Tribune national correspondent
Published December 29, 2005, 8:03 PM CST
OVERLAND PARK, Kan. -- Hours after students merrily departed for the long winter break, lights still blazed in Ken Bingman's biology lab at Blue Valley West High School here.The bright TV lights belonged to the crew from "Nick News with Linda Ellerbee," a children's news magazine show on the Nickelodeon cable channel. Nick News was just the latest in a long line of those seeking the veteran biology teacher's take on the country's most spectacular recurring science squabble: the Kansas State Board of Education's on-again-off-again relationship with Charles Darwin and his theory of biological evolution. For the moment, that tenuous and tempestuous engagement is off again. And Kansas biology teachers like Bingman once more are caught in the middle of a raging culture war. On Nov. 8, the board adopted state science standards containing the harshest criticism of evolution in the nation. The standards pointedly cast doubt on Darwin's theory that all life on Earth shares common ancestry and developed through the mechanisms of random mutation and natural selection. Repugnant to many religious conservatives, modern evolutionary theory is considered by the vast majority of scientists as a cornerstone of modern biology that has withstood rigorous testing over time. In an even bolder step that drew international derision, the board redefined science as a discipline not limited to observations in the natural world and opened the door to supernatural explanations. While unspecified, these might include the biblical account of creation in Genesis and intelligent design, or ID, which presents itself as a scientific theory positing that some complexities of the natural world are best attributed to an unnamed and unseen designer. Most ID proponents believe the designer is God; most scientists believe ID is creationism in a lab coat.The state science standards--which take effect in 2007, unless a more moderate board is elected in 2006 --are not binding on school districts but may be reflected on state assessment tests..............
December 30, 2005
Next month, federal judges who moonlight on the top-secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court will be briefed on why the Bush administration bypassed them in eavesdropping on telephone and e-mail communications of terrorism suspects. Too bad the briefing didn't take place much earlier. One of the 11 FISA judges expressed his disapproval of the extra-judicial conduct by resigning. Others have complained to reporters that evidence gathered from eavesdropping could be tainted and may damage some cases against suspects.
The White House insists that the president has the legal power to authorize wiretaps without warrants in emergencies. If so, why maintain the surveillance court, whose job it is to review applications for classified wiretaps? Those reviews are usually conducted within 24 hours and approved in most cases. Further, the president's agents may start eavesdropping before getting court approval, so long as they seek a warrant from the court within 72 hours...........
Friday, December 30, 2005
Froma Harrop / Syndicated columnist
A bad week for blowhards
The right-wing takeover of this sensible country has been stopped. With this pleasant thought, we enter 2006.
In one golden week, three things happened that bore a common thread. In each case, mainstream positions won out over the bluster of blowhards. People of principle stared down charges that they were unpatriotic, loved Osama or hated religion. The results were gratifying — not only to liberals, but to moderates and a good number of self-described conservatives, who have distanced themselves from their leaders' excesses.
For starters, the Senate said "no" to opening the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil drilling. It has saved the refuge before, but this time the Republican oilmen turned the vote into a game of chicken. The drilling provision was first stuck to the budget bill. When lawmakers balked, it was unstuck and attached to the defense-spending bill. Once there, the gamesters figured they could smear anyone voting against it as uncaring about the troops.
The defenders of the wildlife refuge, which included several Republicans, did not cave. Sen. Maria Cantwell, Democrat from Washington, accurately called the bill "legislative blackmail." Sen. Joseph Lieberman of Connecticut announced that the defense bill was not going anywhere with drilling in it. The Democrat had just returned from a grand tour of conservative talk shows, where the hosts covered him with praise for supporting the Iraq war. Any charges of not backing American forces bounced right off his armor.
The pro-environment senators easily ignored the latest tantrum by Sen. Ted Stevens, the Alaska Republican obsessed with developing the refuge. And then they turned the tables on the opposition: Some questioned the patriotism of those who would load the "must-pass" defense bill with extraneous special interests.........
.........Vice President Dick Cheney bared his teeth and warned that politicians who criticize these policies will pay a heavy political price. Sen. Chuck Hagel, Republican of Nebraska, coolly responded, "My oath is to the Constitution, not to a vice president, a president or a political party." Expect to hear that kind of thing more often.......................
The Sex Lives and Sexual Frustrations of US troops in Iraq
An Ocean of Ignorance
by Stephen Soldz
Well over a hundred thousand American men and women, most younger than 30, spend a year or more at a time in a foreign country where they are almost totally isolated from the indigenous population. Are all these troops really chaste for those long periods, as called for my military regulations? What is going on sexually among US troops in Iraq is one of the great untold and unknown stories of the Iraqi occupation. As I have followed the course of this war, I have paid careful attention to any glimmers on information available. Having read perhaps 30,000-50,000 articles on Iraq, I've seen at most a couple dozen mentions of anything related to sex, other than the systematic sexual abuse and sometime rape of detainees at Abu Graib and the other US prisons. Of course, military regulations ban sex out of marriage, but these regulation have about as great a chance of being obeyed as the US has of obtaining the “total victory” that the President is always promising. ................
Thursday, December 29, 2005
Cookies Disappear After Privacy Activist Complained
POSTED: 6:51 am EST December 29, 2005
NEW YORK -- The National Security Agency's Internet site has been placing files on visitors' computers that can track their Web surfing activity despite strict federal rules banning most of them.
These files, known as "cookies," disappeared after a privacy activist complained and The Associated Press made inquiries this week, and agency officials acknowledged Wednesday they had made a mistake.
Nonetheless, the issue raises questions about privacy at a spy agency already on the defensive amid reports of a secretive eavesdropping program in the United States.
"Considering the surveillance power the NSA has, cookies are not exactly a major concern," said Ari Schwartz, associate director at the Center for Democracy and Technology, a privacy advocacy group in Washington, D.C. "But it does show a general lack of understanding about privacy rules when they are not even following the government's very basic rules for Web privacy."
Until Tuesday, the NSA site created two cookie files that do not expire until 2035 -- likely beyond the life of any computer in use today. ...................
Facing Servitude, Ethiopian Girls Run for a Better Life
By Emily Wax
Washington Post Foreign Service Thursday, December 29, 2005; Page A01
ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia -- Virtually the only way for Tesdale Mesele, 13, to avoid soon being married into a life of housework and childbearing was to run.
So that's what the spunky girl with matchstick legs and a ponytail did. She ran along the rutted dirt roads of the Ethiopian highlands, barefoot or in torn sneakers, trying to improve her endurance. She ran up the wide, cracked steps to Meskel Square in the capital, while goats wandered by and clouds of pollution turned the air charcoal gray. And once she felt she was fast enough, Tesdale ran around the country's only track, a rough ring of patched and potholed rubber inside Addis Ababa Stadium, hoping to be spotted by a running club and win a tiny sponsorship known as "calorie money."...........................
.................Inspired by these new national heroines, Tesdale and thousands of other girls have left their villages and come to the capital, living with relatives in hardscrabble neighborhoods, training on their own and dreaming of being able to compete.
But there are other, more practical reasons for girls to become fit and fast.
"I run so the boys know I'm strong and don't harass me," said Tesdale, panting from her afternoon run from school to home in a ragged sweatshirt and sneakers. "I also run because I want to give priority to my schooling. If I'm a good runner, the school will want me to stay and not be home washing laundry and preparing injera ," the spongy bread that is the staple of the Ethiopian diet................
i admit it, i'm a star trek junkie. i watched them all. some i loved, some, not so much. it took me quite a while to like deep space, but i grew to LOVE it and it became my favorite.
my favorite scene from any of the series or movies is; the (original) crew was up to their ususal shenanigans and saving-the-universe exploits and somehow or other the enterprise was destroyed (whooops!). at the end of the movie, they were being shuttled to a new ship and had NO idea what she would be or look like. they're tooling around in space and all of a sudden, the BRAND NEW SPANKING ENTERPRISE is waiting for them around a space bend. scotty got wood i think. anyway, i tear up every time i see that scene from the movie. i of course am not doing it justice. speaking of which, deep space had a great many story lines dealing with that theme. then again so did the original. i remember frank gorshen as the half black half white man.
Sci-fi series Star Trek is the show most people want to see returned to their TV screens, a survey has found.
Originally broadcast in the US in 1966, it topped a poll of more than 1,000 viewers commissioned by UK interactive TV firm Home Media Networks.
Fantasy action series Buffy the Vampire Slayer was second, followed by long-running sitcom Friends.
Star Trek's latest spin-off TV series, Enterprise, was axed in February following poor ratings.
MOST MISSED TV SERIES
1. Star Trek
2. Buffy the Vampire Slayer
4. Fawlty Towers
5. Blake's 7
6. The X-Files
10. The A-Team
Source: Home Media
Some Conservatives Return To Old Argument
Outside Advocacy Group Aims To Rally Support by Backing Bush's Initial Claims on Iraq
By YOCHI J. DREAZEN and JOHN D. MCKINNON Staff Reporters of THE WALL STREET JOURNAL December 28, 2005; Page A4
WASHINGTON – The television commercials are attention-grabbing: Newly found Iraqi documents show that Saddam Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction, including anthrax and mustard gas, and had "extensive ties" to al Qaeda. The discoveries are being covered up by those "willing to undermine support for the war on terrorism to selfishly advance their shameless political ambitions."
The hard-hitting spots are part of a recent public-relations barrage aimed at reversing a decline in public support for President Bush's handling of Iraq. But these advertisements aren't paid for by the Republican National Committee or other established White House allies. Instead, they are sponsored by Move America Forward, a media-savvy outside advocacy group that has become one of the loudest -- and most controversial -- voices in the Iraq debate.
While even Mr. Bush now publicly acknowledges the mistakes his administration made in judging the threat posed by Mr. Hussein, the organization is taking to the airwaves to insist that the White House was right all along..........
Wednesday, December 28, 2005
from yesterdays direland blog
BUSHIES REFUSING TO DIAGNOSE RETURNING SOLDIERS WITH POST-TRAUMATIC STRESS DISORDER
The Bush administration is twisting itself into a pretzel trying to find ways not to diagnose soldiers returning from Iraq and Afghanistan with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), including altering the diagnostic criteria established by the American Psychiatric Association-- that's the essence of a first-rate piece of reporting in today's Washington Post. .The article, by staffer Shankar Vedantam, relates the attempt to have politics dictate medicine. "Larry Scott, who runs the clearinghouse http://www.vawatchdog.org/ , said conservative groups are trying to cut VA disability programs by unfairly comparing them to welfare. "Compensating people for disabilities is a cost of war, he said: "Veterans benefits are like workmen's comp. You went to war. You were injured. Either your body or your mind was injured, and that prevents you from doing certain duties and you are compensated for that." Not cited by the WashPost was a New England Journal of Medicine study showing that 1 in 6 Iraq vets are suffering from PTSD -- and less than half of them seek treatment............
they are ranting and raving against a new nbc show (which i've seen previews of and which seems HILARIOUS. plus it stars aidan quinn whom i love) featuring an unconventional (protestant) priest and his unconventional family. BUT WAIT.............according to the american "FAMILY" association, the priest's son (in the show) is GAY and WAIT, according to the american "FAMILY" association the show is written by a (please sit down now) PRACTICING HOMOSEXUAL! oh my goddess please save us from this horror! if our children watch it will corrupt them and immediately turn them queer (but they'll dress a lot smarter).
at the end of their article, it asks you to write letters about this (i'm guessing to nbc). i'd ask you do the same but say you'll SUPPORT THE SHOW (well at least watch the first episode and give it a chance). i am going to write immediately. those groups of closed-minded, bigoted, flaming asswipes write millions of letters (by very few people, they just write tons and tons per person) so please, lets do the same. we ALL have an 'off' knob on our tv and radio. we can use it if we don't like what's on.
New NBC Drama Show Mocks Christianity
Email NBC Chairman Bob Wright over
NBC's latest show, "The Book of Daniel."NBC is touting the network's mid-season
replacement series "The Book of Daniel" with language that implies it is a
serious drama about Christian people and Christian faith. The main character is
Daniel Webster, a drug-addicted Episcopal priest whose wife depends heavily on
her mid-day martinis.Webster regularly sees and talks with a very unconventional
white-robed, bearded Jesus. The Webster family is rounded out by a 23-year-old
homosexual Republican son, a 16-year-old daughter who is a drug dealer, and a
16-year-old adopted son who is having sex with the bishop's daughter.At the
office, his lesbian secretary is sleeping with his sister-in-law...............
Halliburton, other lobbyists stall Pentagon ban on human trafficking
Three years after a 2002 Presidential Directive demanding an end to trafficking in humans for forced labor and prostitution by U.S. contractors, the Pentagon is still yet to actually bar the practice, The Chicago Tribune reports. Congress approved a similar ban one year later, which was reauthorized by the Senate just last week.
The President and Congress have demanded that government agencies include anti-trafficking provisions (covering forced labor and prostitution) in all overseas company contracts. It also extended the ban to subcontractors.
According to the Tribune, the concerns of five lobbying groups - including representatives of Halliburton subsidiary KBR and DynCorp - are stalling Pentagon action. These companies are specifically targeting provisions requiring companies to monitor their overseas contractors for violations. Both KBR and DynCorp have been linked to human trafficking cases in the past...................
Rice authorized National Security Agency to spy on UN Security Council in run-up to war, former officials say
12/27/2005 @ 11:06 amFiled by Jason Leopold
President Bush and other top officials in his administration used the National Security Agency to secretly wiretap the home and office telephones and monitor private email accounts of members of the United Nations Security Council in early 2003 to determine how foreign delegates would vote on a U.N. resolution that paved the way for the U.S.-led war in Iraq, NSA documents show Two former NSA officials familiar with the agency's campaign to spy on U.N. members say then-National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice authorized the plan at the request of President Bush, who wanted to know how delegates were going to vote. Rice did not immediately return a call for comment.
Tuesday, December 27, 2005
(and except in a life-saving emergency, i support a doctor's right to NOT perform an abortion based on her/his religious or personal beliefs. what i DON'T support is them being harassed OUT of it)
Abortion clinic faces new hurdle
"We have no intentions of leaving," Women's Health Organization official says
By Julie Goodman mailto:Goodmanjgoodman@clarionledger.com
Mississippi's only abortion clinic is waiting to hear whether it will be granted a new state certification to continue performing its full range of procedures.The requirement to meet higher standards came after an aggressive push by anti-abortion advocates, who are trying to shut down the clinic."We believe that if they comply and the clinic is safer for women ... at the very least, Mississippi has made the back-alley abortion clinic Ã— or the front-alley abortion clinic as we call them Ã— safer for women but not for unborn children," said Pro-Life Mississippi President Terri Herring.
The Jackson Women's Health Organization, which treats more than 3,000 women a year statewide, said a setback would not mean defeat and may only put the issue back in front of a judge. The clinic, which is still operating, risks having to scale back the kinds of abortion it can perform."We have no intention of leaving and we intend to continue to provide the services that we're providing," said Susan Hill, president of the North Carolina-based National Women's Health Organization. "It won't be easy, but we're staying."Earlier this year, a federal judge knocked down a recently enacted state law that would have barred early second-trimester abortions at the clinic...........
and from msnbc Abortions rare in S. Dakota. Will others follow?
StateÂs laws, social mores offer possible glimpse at life after Roe
By Evelyn Nieves
The Washington Post
Updated: 1:25 a.m. ET Dec. 27, 2005
SIOUX FALLS, S.D. - The waiting room at the Planned Parenthood clinic was packed by the time the doctor arrived Â an hour late because of weather delays in Minneapolis.
It was clinic day, the one day a week when the only facility in South Dakota that provides abortions could take in patients. This time it was a Wednesday. The week before it was a Monday.
The day changes depending on the schedules of four doctors from Minnesota who fly here on a rotating basis to perform abortions, something no doctor in South Dakota will do. The last doctor in South Dakota to perform abortions stopped about eight years ago; the consensus in the medical community is that offering the procedure is not worth the stigma of being branded a baby killer.
South Dakota, those on both sides of the abortion debate agree, has become one of the hardest states in the country in which to obtain an abortion. One of three states in the country to have only one abortion provider -- North Dakota and Mississippi are the others -- South Dakota, largely because of a strong antiabortion lobby, is also becoming a leading national laboratory for testing the limits of state laws restricting abortion, both opponents and advocates of abortion rights say.
Nearly four months after Katrina, hundreds of children still missing
08:54 PM CST on Friday, December 23, 2005
Dave McNamara / WWL
Controversy brewed Friday over FEMA’s reluctance to release information on evacuees, data that some agencies have said could speed up the process of finding children missing since Hurricane Katrina.
It was not until the FBI began requesting information that FEMA this month turned over the records, which are protected by privacy laws.
Thousands of evacuees gathered along the I-10 at Causeway in the days following Hurricane Katrina to be airlifted to safety. In the rush to flee New Orleans, and the chaos that followed Katrina, families were torn apart.
Officials on the front lines of the search have said that those federal privacy rules may have hampered efforts to reunite families.
The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children has a database with close to 500 names, all of them children whose whereabouts are still unknown. .........
Bush Pressed Papers to Kill Scoops on Spying, Prisons
By E&P Staff
Published: December 26, 2005 11:45 AM ET
NEW YORK President George W. Bush and senior administration officials have met with top editors of The New York Times and The Washington Post in recent months to try to dissuade the papers from publishing what the administration considers to be articles harmful to its prosecution of the war on terror.
The administration's efforts ultimately failed, although sensitive details likely were removed from the articles that eventually ran. The latest revelations show just how serious the Bush White House views the media's reporting on its anti-terror tactics, and how it would prefer to conduct much of the war on terror in secret.
In his Media Notes column today, Washington Post media writer Howard Kurtz wrote that Washington Post Executive Editor Leonard Downie Jr., met with White House officials on multiple occasions to discuss the paper's Nov. 2 article by Dana Priest disclosing the existence of secret CIA prisons in Eastern Europe where terrorism suspects are interrogated............
..............But Alter concluded that because the Bush administration could not point to any specific details in the Times story that would compromise national security, the real reason "Bush was desperate to keep the Times from running this important story" was "because he knew that it would reveal him as a law-breaker."..........
and from the new york observer
Why Times Ran Wiretap Story, Defying Bush
By Gabriel Sherman
On the afternoon of Dec. 15, New York Times executives put the paper’s preferred First Amendment lawyer, Floyd Abrams, on standby. In the pipeline for the next day’s paper was a story that President George W. Bush had specifically asked the paper not to run, revealing that the National Security Agency had been wiretapping Americans without using warrants.
The President had made the request in person, nine days before, in an Oval Office meeting with publisher Arthur O. Sulzberger Jr., executive editor Bill Keller and Washington bureau chief Phil Taubman, according to Times sources familiar with the meeting.
That Dec. 6 session with Mr. Bush was the culmination of a 14-month struggle between The Times and the White House—and a parallel struggle behind the scenes at The Times—over the wiretapping story. In the end, Mr. Abrams’ services were not needed. The piece made it to press without further incident.........
Monday, December 26, 2005
(i believe it was originally made for showtime tv)
a true story about a murder that took place in 1999 in an army barracks somewhere near nashville. pfc barry winchell was murdered because of who he fell in love with. a transgendered mtf named calpernia addams. they met while she was performing at a local club and barry and some army mates went to see a show. their relationship blossomed. from accounts, the relationship was as 'normal' as any other. ups, downs, they ate, they laughed, they cried. all along pfc winchell was being hounded and harassed on base. called faggot and worse. he never told calpernia. on the fourth of july, in a drunken stupor and egged on earlier by pfc winchell's asshole roommate, a 17 year old soldier bludgeoned him to death with a louisville slugger.
the movie was a LOVE STORY - even though this wasn't a political movie (about don't ask, don't tell), the point did come across. their are interviews with the actors on the disk but there are also interviews with the real calpernia and pfc winchell's mother, pat kutteles. she and her husband speak all over the country about prejudices and such. two brave and noble women, ms addams and ms kutteles.
pfc barry winchell
pfc barry winchell
the acting was wonderful. troy garity and lee pace did an outstanding job with pfc winchell and ms addams, making them REAL PEOPLE. nothing over the top. i did wonder if mr pace was indeed transgendered though. lol. he is not. on the disk there is a section where they showed his makeup including prosthetic breasts being applied.
(oh in looking up some info on pfc winchell i came across some horrid sites [which i won't even dignify with a mention] stating, in between the lines of course, he got what he deserved because he was a homosexual and it was out of homosexual JEALOUSY). you know it was never the point if he was gay or not. there is no evidence to say he was. it doesn't matter. HE WAS MURDERED you stupid stinking close minded pea-brained ice-hearted never-getting-into-heaven ass wipes!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
illustration: Lady Alexandra Palace
well NO WAY in a manager. a wickedly cool article in the village voice
Searching for Bush's Jesus
Laid in a manger, abridged in the White House
by Sylvia Topp
December 23rd, 2005 5:33 PM
I walked out of my Anglican-church confirmation classes when I was 13, thinking I'd put religion out of my life for good, because the "devout" Christians I was being counseled by couldn't hide the hate in their eyes. Still, because I do admire much of Jesus's teachings, I've been angry at George Bush for a long time for claiming to be a follower of Jesus while doing so many things that He would surely have disapproved of. So recently, blessed with many lazy beach hours on the island of Tortola, I decided the time had come to challenge Bush's version of Christianity. It was a deliciously ironic coincidence that back in the late '70s and early '80s, when Bush was just married and way before Christ had "changed" his heart, he would jog along this very beach on Sundays, heading from his friends' house to the tiny mustard-colored Methodist church, with its simple wooden cross propped at the pinnacle of its gabled roof, way at the other end of town.
I recently talked on the phone with the pastor who served there at the time. He claims no memory of George, though you'd think an exuberant white guy would have been painfully obvious sitting among the local little girls, in the same starched and frilly white dresses I wore at their age, the age when little girls want to go to church. Others in the area do remember his visits to Tortola but they are considerately silent, meaning of course that there's lots to tell. Perhaps Bush attended his first Methodist service there, after switching to Laura's religion, though if he'd taken a little more care he'd have discovered that Methodists are proudly anti-war, and indeed church bishops met with him early in 2003 to try to talk him out of going to Iraq. Maybe Bush told them to check their Bibles more closely. Indeed, since the ruins of Babylon, a biblically wicked city, are in Iraq, and since Bush feels that he's been chosen "to do the Lord's will" and that his election was "another manifestation of divine purpose," we may soon hear yet another justification for this war: the United States is engaging in the final battle between Good and Evil.............
bushwhached lied. we died. bring our troops home NOW
Iraqis want US out as soon as possible: US commander
Monday Dec 26 10:38 AEDT
The top US military commander admitted Sunday that Iraqis wanted US and other foreign troops to leave the country "as soon as possible," and said US troop levels in Iraq were now being re-assessed on a monthly basis.
The admission by Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Marine General Peter Pace followed a decision by the Pentagon to reduce the current level of 160,000 soldiers in Iraq by two army brigades, which amounts to about 7,000 soldiers.
"Understandably, Iraqis themselves would prefer to have coalition forces leave their country as soon as possible," Pace said in a Christmas Day interview on Fox News Sunday. "They don't want us to leave tomorrow, but they do want us to leave as soon as possible."
Some US foreign policy experts have expressed concern that a new Iraqi government emerging from the December 15 parliamentary elections could ask American troops to leave, but officials have dismissed that forecast as unrealistic.
However, an opinion survey conducted in Iraq in October and November by ABC News and a pool of other US and foreign media outlets showed that despite some improvements in security and living standards, US military operations in the country were increasingly unpopular.
Two-thirds of those polled said they opposed the presence of US and coalition forces in Iraq, up 14 points from a similar survey taken in February 2004.
Nearly 60 percent disapproved of the way the United States has operated in Iraq since the war began in March 2003, with most of those expressing "strong disapproval," the poll found.............
Bush Administration Refuses to Comply With FOIA Request on Pre-War Intelligence
By David Swanson
By David Swanson
House Judiciary Committee Democratic staff members report that the White House and the Departments of State and Defense have for six months refused to comply with a request filed under the Freedom of Information Act by 52 Congress Members – a request seeking information on the Bush Administration's reasons for going to war.
On June 30th of this year, Judiciary Committee Ranking Member John Conyers Jr. (Dem., Mich.) and 51 other Congress Members submitted a FOIA request to the White House, the Department of Defense, and the Department of State seeking documents and materials concerning the Downing Street Minutes and the lead up to the Iraq war.
On August 11th, Conyers wrote to the Office of Counsel to the President as follows:
"On June 30, 2005, I and 51 other Members of Congress requested access to 'all agency records, including but not limited to handwritten notes, formal correspondence, electronic mail messages, intelligence reports and other memoranda,' as described in five enumerated paragraphs. A copy of the request letter is enclosed.
"The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requires your office to respond to a FOIA request within twenty business days from the date of receipt of such a request. See 5 U.S.C. § 552(a)(6)(A)(i). The deadline has now elapsed without any response from your office. Because the leaked memoranda from Great Britain raise serious questions over when important war-related decisions were made, time is of the essence..........
a rather cool story. anyone who helps the forgotten celebrate a holiday is ok in my book!
A Sailor's Lot: Forgotten By All but a Ship of Elves
By ALAN FEUER
There are few souls more deserving of attention than the mariner who works on Christmas Day.
He is almost certain to be lonely, moored at anchor in some dingy channel of the harbor. He is likely to be sleep-deprived and dirty, having just come in from hauling fuel oil through the bay.
There may be ham or a rib roast in the galley, but it may be served by a man who smells of his socks. His holiday is certain to include the upkeep of steering gears or the greasing of a deck-winch. His sole companions are the seabirds and his grouchy, oil-stained mates.
So when the jolly 30-footer, with the pine wreath at its bow, rounds the cut past Erie Basin, off Red Hook in Brooklyn, there is a sudden lift in spirits. Three elves wave from the stern. The seaman's ears can, no doubt, hear the sounds of Christmas carols, sung by Elvis, drifting through a drapery of fog. The discerning nose can detect the scent of rum.
"Ahoy! We have cookies!" one of the elves calls out. So it was yesterday in New York Harbor, where scattered crews of tugboat hands and bargemen were treated to the trappings of an ordinary Christmas. It was a touch of holiday relief for those who have no holiday, called Operation Christmas Cheer.
my personal favorite:
SOON TO BE A BUSINESS SCHOOL CASE STUDY When Japanese business exec Takashi Hashiyama had to choose either Sotheby's or Christie's to sell off his company's art collection, he asked the two auction houses to play rock-paper-scissors to win the privilege. Sotheby's chose paper and lost out on the eventual $2.3 million commission. (A Christie's executive had taken the advice of one of his 11-year-old twin daughters, who said, "Everybody knows you always start with scissors.")
--Wall Street Journal, New York Times, April 29