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Monday, October 31, 2005

Oh, great -- now its war with Cuba 

For crying out loud.
Isn't it enough that the US wants to go to war with Syria, Iran and North Korea? Now Cuba is being added to the list -- as soon as Castro dies, mind you. This new story writes "The inter-agency effort, which also involves the Defense Department, recognises that the Cuba transition may not go peacefully and that the US may have to launch a nation-building exercise."
So its not called a war anymore, its called a "nation building exercise".


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"Of course he's against abortion" 

Raw Story links to this news story -- Bush Nominates Alito for Supreme Court -- which lays it out clearly:
Alito's politically conservative views were not in dispute. 'Of course he's against abortion,' his 90-year-old mother Rose told reporters at her home in Hamilton, N.J. Despite the unguarded comments of a proud mother, Sen. Arlen Specter, who will chair Judiciary Committee hearings, told reporters in the Capitol, 'There is a lot more to do with a woman's right to choose than how you feel about it personally.' The Pennsylvania Republican cited adherence to legal precedent in rulings over 30 years upholding abortion rights.
And if you believe that, I have a bridge to sell you . . .
The pressure now will be on state legislatures to pass a large number of anti-abortion laws, which will then be challenged and hence will work their way up to the Supreme Court in the next year or two.
Likely not before the congressional midterms, but certainly before the next presidential election, Roe V Wade will be TOAST in the US.

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Sunday, October 30, 2005

More photos from the Aboriginal Spiritual Journey 

Here are some more photos from the Aboriginal Spiritual Journey ceremonies in Europe:


This is the Native Women's Association of Canada wreath. The photo cutline says "these flowers were laid during a remembrance ceremony at Hill 62 Canadian Memorial in Zillebeke near Ypres [Friday] . . . The Calling Home Ceremony, to call home to Canada the spirits of Aboriginal soldiers who died in the two World Wars, will be held over four days in Belgium. REUTERS/Francois Lenoir "


"Ceremonial dancer Harvey Thunderchild sits near the Colin Gibson sculpture, Remembrance and Renewal, at the Juno Beach Center in Courseulles-sur-Mer, France on Sunday . . . Thunderchild is participating in the Aboriginal Spirtual Journey, a visit by Aboriginal veterans to battlefields in Europe. (AP Photo/CP, Andrew Vaughan) "


"Canadian Gov.General Michaelle Jean dances with ceremonial dancer Lorne Duquette, from Mistawasis First Nation in Saskatchewan, as she visits the Juno Beach Centre in Courseulles-sur-Mer, France on Sunday . . (AP Photo/CP, Andrew Vaughan) "


"Canadian Inuits reflect in front of an Inuksuk Memorial during a Ceremony of Remembrance next to Juno Beach Center at Courseulles-sur-Mer [on Sunday] . . . REUTERS/Franck Prevel "


"First Nation dancer Lorne Garpydie (L) and Harvey Thunderchild (C) perform a spirit dance in front of a Canadian Memorial during a Ceremony of Remembrance at Beny-sur-Mer War Cemetery, France . . . REUTERS/Franck Prevel "


"George Horse, from the Thunder Child First nation in Saskatchewan, hold his ceremonial eagle over the grave a Canadian soldier at the Beny-sur-Mer Canadian War Cemetery in Reviers, France . . . Horse . . . landed on Juno Beach on D-Day . . . (AP Photo/CP, Andrew Vaughan) "'


"Members of the 'Cri' tribe Harvey Thunderchild (L) and Lorne Garpydie (R), reflect in front of the Canadian War Cemetery's graves before a Ceremony of Remembrance at Beny-sur-Mer, France . . . REUTERS/Franck Prevel "


"A Canadian veteran comforts his daughter at the Canadian War Cemetery before a Ceremony of Remembrance at Beny-sur-Mer . . . REUTERS/Franck Prevel"

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Saturday, October 29, 2005

Tough love 

Clinton says to Democratic politicians: "'If you don't want to fight for the future and you can't figure out how to beat these people, then find something else to do.' "

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Aboriginal Spiritual Journey 

I thought this was a wonderful idea -- as part of Canadian Rememberance Day tributes in The Year of The Veteran, Veterans Affairs arranged an eight-day tour for a delegation of 300 First Nations and Metis veterans and youth to travel to Ypres, Vimy, Juno Beach, and Courseulles-sur-Mer to pay tribute to Aboriginal veterans and to do a "calling home" ceremony.
Our new governor general, Michaëlle Jean, joined the group during the Juno Beach portion of their trip.

Canadian Press photo


First Nations and Metis ceremonial performers outside the Kemmel school in Belgium. Veterans Affairs photos.


Veterans and representatives from Veterans' organizations stand at attention during the Last Post, at the "calling home" ceremony at Hill 62.

Last week, the Globe and Mail gave us one warrior's story -- from Elmer Sinclair, now 84:

When Elmer Sinclair last trod on European soil, he did so as a warrior. Sixty years later, he is returning to pay tribute to comrades buried in ground he helped liberate. Mr. Sinclair, a Cree from Manitoba who lives in Nanaimo, spent much of his adult life in uniform. He served in the Canadian Army for all but the first nine months of the Second World War. Later, he re-enlisted to fight on the frozen hills of Korea before spending a year in the desert as a peacekeeper in the Gaza Strip. Those were assignments for a young man. He was not much more than a boy when he signed up as a regimental signaler with the Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry. He then transferred to the Signal Corps as a radio operator.
Mr. Sinclair was born to a family living just outside Selkirk, in a home in the woods. His carpenter father belonged to the Peguis band, but his son would never live on the reserve. Young Elmer spoke English at home, and his parents saved their native tongue for their private conversations. The family moved to Pine Falls and seven-year-old Elmer was sent to Fort Alexander Residential School, operated by Oblate priests more interested in corporal punishment than celestial reward. "It wasn't heaven," Mr. Sinclair recalled in an interview. "They were mean to us and cruel. They prayed like hell in church, then beat the hell out of us afterward." After leaving school, he worked in a sawmill. Canada declared war on Germany two days after his 18th birthday. He enlisted in Winnipeg nine months later.
His expertise at transcribing and transmitting Morse code kept him out of the front lines, and he was assigned signal security. Mr. Sinclair landed at Gold Beach with the 50th British Infantry Division about a week after D-Day. He has never forgotten the scene. "All the pillboxes and the obstructions in the water. Pillars of cement. Barbed wire. All flattened out. It was an awful mess." After rejoining the Canadian Army, Mr. Sinclair tramped through France, Belgium and the Netherlands. He was in the port city of Bremen, flattened by years of Allied bombing, when Germany at last surrendered. Other soldiers' weapons went rat-a-tat-a-tat. His went dit-dah-dit dah-dit . . . Mr. Sinclair re-enlisted after the outbreak of the Korean War, rejoining the Princess Pats. At 29, he had a greater knowledge of the horrors of war than did younger recruits. "We were marching along a valley toward the hills to take over a position at the front," he said. "We saw a village ahead of us on fire. Burning. We got up close and started seeing bodies of American soldiers. They had been on a patrol the night before and gone to sleep there. "The Koreans or the Chinese came down off the hill, surrounded the village and burned it. The Americans started running back toward our lines and there must have been patrols of North Koreans or Chinese along the road. They killed them all. "Our men had been going forward laughing, having a good time. The sight sobered them up." Mr. Sinclair left the army in 1964 with the rank of Warrant Officer 2. During his trip to Belgium, Mr. Sinclair hopes to offer a final salute to a classmate from Selkirk, Sergeant O. D. Smith of the Royal Winnipeg Rifles, who was killed on Oct. 12, 1944. To pay homage to his friend, Mr. Sinclair will need to visit the Adegem Canadian War Cemetery midway between Bruges and Ghent on Highway N9. In the southeast corner, in Plot No. 8, Row G, Grave No. 10, he will find the final resting place of Sgt. Smith, one of 1,144 war dead buried in the cemetery. If he finds the grave, Mr. Sinclair said, "I'll just stand there and have a look." He knew the sergeant as Orville. He was just 23 when he died.

And here's another priceless piece of Canadiana -- in the Comments section to the Globe and Mail article on the Jean visit, was one remarkable contribution from David Hawyard of Nanoose Bay, BC, who sent in this moving piece of poetry
We, the Descendants...
We, the descendants of Canada's Aboriginal, French and English founders,
and of all others who later arrived to help build this nation,
stand in unity as witness to this pledge.
Remembering that Canada's provinces and territories have been settled
by peoples whose mother tongues, heritage and values differed,
we pledge in the name of Canada, and to one another:
To recognize, to respect, and to celebrate Canada's diversity,
lest a loss of identity suffers unto our descendants;
To embrace tolerance, equality, sharing and compassion
as the moral cornerstones of our great nation;
To bond together as one in the pursuit of dignity, health,
prosperity and happiness for all Canadians;
To forever preserve and promote this mission
that we so proudly share.

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Great line of the day 

The Smirking Chimp quotes Huffington Post's Trey Ellis column 'President Cheney's goose is cooked' about the Scooter Libby indictment:
. . . Republicans keep saying that Democrats looked at the same intelligence briefings they did when they overwhelmingly voted to go to war. That is true. They all saw the same books, but what this indictment should bring to light next, is that those books had been cooked.

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More torture chronicles 

Hmmm -- this is interesting: Reuters is reporting that "The United States on Friday invited three U.N. human rights investigators . . . to visit the Guantanamo Bay prison camp in a bid to show 'we have nothing to hide'." The investigators cannot, of course, actually speak to any of the Gitmo prisoners -- apparently only the International Committee of the Red Cross can do that -- but at least the UN will get a look at what is going on. (And boys, make sure you get them to open ALL the doors.)
Maybe this sudden smasm of conscience is in response to this story about the abuse of the prisoners who are involved with the Guantanamo prisoner hunger strike, or this story about how the US State Department is trying to convince the UN that the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which the US signed in 1992, actually doesn't apply to US military prisoners outside the US.
At which the UN is shaking its head and rolling its eyes . . .

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Friday, October 28, 2005

One more Aboriginal woman gone every month 

I've blogged about this issue before, and undoubtedly I will blog about it again. Amnesty International continues to try to raise awareness of a terrible issue -- the disapparance or murder of Aboriginal women, about 500 in the last 20 years -- one a month, every single month.
Amesty asks "How many more sisters and daughters will be lost before the government of Canada takes real action?"
Good question. Amber Redman's mother spoke out at the Amnesty press conference on Monday: "Yuzicappi's daughter, Amber Redman, vanished July 15 after a night out with friends in Fort Qu'Appelle, Sask., northeast of Regina. The shy, 19-year-old who dreamed of going to university and becoming a teacher hasn't been seen since. Family members, volunteers and police searchers have found no trace of Redman, a member of the Standing Buffalo First Nation. "My daughter had limited media coverage in Saskatchewan."
Limited? I'll say -- like, zero.
Here is her photo:

and here is the FSIN website with information about Ms. Redman and other missing Aboriginal people.



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Great lines of the day 

D r i f t g l a s s writes:
Bush is a bolt of convenient winding cloth to hide the moral leprosy of the Right. Bush is the Halloween Costume Rove dresses up in when he goes abroad in the land to slander and defame and destroy. The math is simple:
Bush+Rove = Swift Boat Liars, gay-bashing ballot initiatives in 2004, smearing Max Cleland, John McCain's Black Baby.
Bush-Rove = Katrina, 'Brownie', Harriet Miers, the First Debate, Cindy Sheehan.
As we on the Left of Crazy have always known, Rove is our Domestic President in charge of dividing and destroying the country from within, and Cheney runs the Foreign Plunder division, tasked with pissing away our reputation abroad, while lining the pockets of his shareholders. And as long as he sticks to the script, Bush -- the feeble-minded codpiece used to cover up their crimes and betrayals -- gets to play at being President.
But now, despite all of the insipid rhetoric on the Right about Bush the Wise, Bush the Sage, Bush the Brilliant, their own hysteria gives them away . . . . the Party of Morality and Personal Responsibility is compelled to admit to itself that treason and treachery in the Oval Office is, by their own lights, No Biggy. And by their shouting they own up the the fact that it's the Real President that's under the hammer.

Emphasis mine.

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Spineless toadies 

Well -- one down, dozens to go.
On Countdown tonight, John Dean said the Nixon White House actually considered whether they could use the secrecy of a grand jury proceeding to try to hide the Watergate crimes. Instead, Congress held public hearings and down came the Nixon administration.
Digby writes: "If the Republican leadership of congress weren't spineless Bush toadies and insane religious fanatics they would do their job and investigate this honestly for the good of the country. But they won't. They are nothing more than braindead fatcats gorging at the pork barrel with a fistfull of C-notes in one hand and a bible in the other . . . We are left with a timorous press and an honest prosecutor to get to the bottom of what these people have done to us."
Only if the democrats take the House or the Senate in 2006 will the Bush administration get the kind of public investigation it deserves.

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DBK was right (updated) 

Columbus, Ohio newspaper The Free Press reports that the Government Accounting Office "now confirms that electronic voting machines as deployed in 2004 were in fact perfectly engineered to allow a very small number of partisans with minimal computer skills and equipment to shift enough votes to put George W. Bush back in the White House. Given the growing body of evidence, it appears increasingly clear that's exactly what happened." Hoo, boy. Forget Meirs -- THIS is a story. Frogsdong DBK always said that the 2004 election was stolen, and now the GAO shows how it was done.
UPDATE: Frogsdong is now DBK -- sorry, Frog, I missed the announcement until today.

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Thursday, October 27, 2005

Yes, we should be ashamed of ourselves 

I have been waiting to blog on the Milgaard Inquiry until it was a little clearer what direction the inquiry was taking.
Was it going to pin down some responsibility for sending an innocent 17-year-old kid to jail for 23 years for the rape-murder of nurse Gail Miller. Or was it just going to whitewash all the good old boys (police and prosecutors) involved -- several of whom, it appears, cannot actually remember much if anything all now about one of Saskatoon's biggest murder cases ever -- oh, sure, guys!
There were some bad signs early on -- I don't have the details at my fingertips anymore, but last spring a couple of the lawyers started flinging around comments to the effect that, really, David Milgaard actually could have killed Miller after all. And I thought, what the heck is going on here? -- this is supposed to be an inquiry into a conviction which has already been proven to be wrongful, where another man has already been proven guilty. Its not supposed to become a forum for inventing new fantasies about imaginary evidence.
Finally Judge MacCallum put a stop to this kind of speculative and suggestive questionning and the inquiry got back on track. But it left me concerned that this inquiry risked letting the lawyers try to exonerate their clients by demonizing Milgaard.
Now, once again, I am starting to wonder.
Milgaard, quite justifiably, doesn't want to testify at the inquiry. He says the prospect of testifying makes him sick.
And I can understand it -- he was victimized by the Saskatchewan justice system once before. So now, does he really have to sit in that witness chair again? Once more at the mercy of bunch of lawyers, who will try once again to victimize him, to sneer at him and trip him up with trick questions and make him look like such a sneaky, unstable, unlikeable liar that of course anyone would have thought he was guilty -- they couldn't help themselves because you just looked so guilty and anyway you were just such an asshole , weren't you, MISTER Milgaard?
Well, the judge now is saying that Milgaard may have to testify if he wants his lawyer to continue to be able to question the other witnesses at the inquiry. Yet the evidence so far has been that it was not Milgaard's personality nor actions which contributed to his conviction -- rather, his so-called friends, dumb and dumber and dumberer, helped over-eager police put together a very loose, circumstantial case, and everyone happily rushed to judgement, so glad to get such a monster off the street that it took Joyce Milgaard two decades to make a dent in the public's perception of his guilt.
This story says that Milgaard's mother "told reporters she felt 'intimidated' by [Judge] MacCallum and thought 'Canadians would be ashamed' with the way her son is being forced to testify."
Well, here's one Canadian who is ashamed.

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Think about it 

Miers withdraws Supreme Court nomination -- so now Bush is going to nominate the person who was originally his SECOND choice, someone who he felt was LESS qualified than Miers. Jenna, perhaps? Or Barney?

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Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Great lines of the day 

Twas the night before Fitzmas, and in the White House
Every one was scared shitless, and Bush was quite soused
The indictments were hanging like Damoceles' sword
As verminous oxen prepared to be gored

The perps were all sleepless, curled fetal in bed
While visions of prison cells loomed in each head
And Dick in his jammies, and George in his lap
Were sweating and swearing and looking like crap

When out on the web there arose such a clatter
The blogs and the forums were buzzing with chatter
Away to the PC Rove ran like a flash
He booted his browser and cleared out his cache

The rumors that flew through the cold autumn air
Made Dubya shiver with angry despair
When what to his horror-filled eyes did he spy?
A bespectacled man with a brown suit and tie!

With an impartial manner that gave Bush the shits
He knew in a moment it must be St. Fitz!
With unwavering voice, his indictments they came
He cleared out his throat and he called them by name:

Now Scooter, Now Libby,
Now Blossoming Turd,
Now Cheney, dear Cheney,
Yes, you are the third
To the bench of the court
Up the steps, down the hall
Now come along, come along,
Come along, all!

He then became silent, and went right to work
He filed the indictments and turned with a jerk
And pointing his finger at justice's scale
Said, "The people be served, and let fairness prevail."

He then left the room, to his team gave a nod
And the sound could be heard of a crumbling facade
And we all did exclaim, as he faded from sight
"Merry Fitzmas to all, and to all a good night!"

- © 2005 by Daryl W at no confidence.org, via Daedalus at Washingtonrox

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Tuesday, October 25, 2005

2000 Americans dead 

This many:

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Play The Last Post and think of them.
What a pointless, stupid waste.
One of the things about Vietnam was, in the end, how meaningless it was -- they killed tens of thousands of Vietnamese to stop China from taking over Southeast Asia and when they left, China did nothing. North Vietnam took over the whole country, which is exactly what would have happened in 1965 if matters had been allowed to run their course without US interference.
The war in Iraq has also already been proven to be useless in protecting America, because the nuclear, chemical and biological weapons of mass destruction which Hussein was supposedly using to threaten the America and his Middle Eastern neighbours did not actually exist. This war has also already killed tens of thousands of Iraqis, but has not transformed middle-eastern politics, hasn't improved Israel's security, and hasn't stabilized oil production capability. What overall effect it will have on stablizing the Middle-East is still pretty questionnable.
War, what is it good for? Absolutely nothing.

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Chickens roosting on an open fire . . .  

"...and so its been said, many times, many ways, merry Fitzmas to you."
Several posts today about chickens homing to roost, comeuppances arriving, "so's" being told, wake ups being called, yada yada and all that jazz. . .
From Pre$$titutes comes this piece about "The Great Vindication Of The Anti-War Movement ":
In case the world hasn't noticed, the events of the past few months have vindicated the millions of people in the U.S. and around the world who protested the Iraq invasion on the basis that it was being justified by lies and that it would lead to a long, bloody struggle . . . the fact that the outcome of this grand misadventure was predicted by anti-war demonstrators goes unmentioned. It didn't take foreign policy experience or national security expertise or top-secret Intel briefings for the anti-war movement to know, unequivocally, that the Iraq invasion was a hyped-up, over-sold war. It was crystal clear from day one what Bush, Cheney, Condi, Rummy, Colin, et al were up to . . . It's awful for the anti-war movement to be so right about something so catastrophic as a war based on lies and deceptions, but it behooves America to give credit to those who predicted every step of this sorry journey. Maybe next time they'll listen more closely. And then again...

And Driftglass writes about the tragic fate of the Moderate Republican in "You bought it. "
Now live in it . . .in five short years, the Moderates have lived to become everything they detest. Every word of clucking reproach they yelped in snickering glee during the Clinton Age has gotten caught up in the Bush Treason Cyclotron, sped up to light-speed, and is now coming screaming back at them like a sack of radioactive axe-heads. Their worst nightmare is in the process of coming true, big as a mountain in stilettos, carrying a sledgehammer in one hand and a 40-foot-long straight razor in the other, and there is not shit all they can do about it. Because everything they believed or touted or crowed about or tried to rub in our faces is in the process of coming down around their ears. Every. Single. Thing. Every justification that they were fed about their Great Ay-rab Safari is now spilling out into the sunlight and can clearly be seen -- even from High Earth Orbit -- to have been a willful lie. . . . now it’s not one thing that’s melting down; it’s everything. The serial cons that have kept the grubby Mods goggle-eyed and heroin-loyal are all falling apart simultaneously and there’s nothing but decibels left in the Shiny Object Bag to keep them from noticing the awful truth. That their Leaders are traitors. Their heroes are liars. Their dogma is a joke. Their President is a feeble-minded creep who has fucked up everything he has ever touched . . . How terrifying that must be. I mean, I’m wrong about a lot of stuff...but everything? Every God Damned Thing? And worse – so very much worse – not only were they utterly wrong about everyfuckingthing, but the Evil Liberals were right all along. The big picture. The fussy details. The arithmetic. The real, racist heart of the GOP. The various myriad, casual betrayals by the Bush White House. All of it. . . . I can’t even imagine how it must feel to know at some level that your whole world is a farce, and your whole belief system is a Ponsi Scheme run on you by thugs who never gave a shit about you, or your family or your dearest peon dreams.
And on Huffington, Katrina Vanden Heuvel ends her piece on the "Five stages of political grief":
. . . In the meantime, we get to enjoy the hypocrisy of listening to Republicans run through the Clinton playbook. They are currently referring to the investigation as the "criminalization of politics," dismissing perjury as a "technicality," and smearing the Special Prosecutor. It is a veritable nostalgia-fest.
Personally, I'm waiting for the new phase to be identified, in the tradition of "I am not a crook", "What did he know and when did he stop knowing it?" and "Its not the sex, its the lying." I wonder what the Plame sentence will be?

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Monday, October 24, 2005

Great line of the day 

From Background noise and fried Rice'
at Smirking Chimp:
You know we're in trouble when the best we can say about our President is that, in a macabre way, he provides comic relief to our reeling nation.

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Another "Ah-ha!" moment 

You know, given all the time and energy going into the leak investigation, I had been starting to wonder whether Plame's work on WDM was purely the coincidental, ironic, "hey, who wouldda guessed it" meme that is always portrayed as being. Here Justin Raimondo lays down the scenario:
Until now, I have never understood why, in the name of all that's holy, Scooter and his cabal went after Valerie Plame, the wife of the man they supposedly sought revenge on. It seems remarkably petty and small-minded, even for a neocon. . . A hissy fit on Scooter's part doesn't quite qualify. There is, on the other hand, another possible explanation, less emotional and more cold-blooded, one that – in the context of recent developments – makes a certain amount of sense… Remember, the [Niger] forgeries were exposed in early March 2003. The New York Times published Wilson's now famous "What I Didn't Find in Africa" op-ed on July 6, 2003 – and we now know that Scooter and the gang were homing in on Wilson even before his piece appeared. We also know that Ms. Plame wasn't the only deep-cover CIA agent outed by Scooter and the Cheney-ites: she worked through a CIA front company, Brewster Jennings & Associates, engaged in anti-proliferation work, whose activities were aborted by Plame's exposure. In one fell swoop, an entire group of undercover CIA experts on nuclear weapons proliferation was neutralized . . . Everyone assumes Libby and his co-conspirators were really after Wilson, but this now seems unwarranted, especially in light of Fitzgerald's reported focus on the Niger uranium forgeries. If this question of the forgeries is now within Fitzgerald's purview, it opens up the possibility that the conspirators really were after Plame on her own account. If Plame and her associates were hot on the trail of whoever forged the Niger uranium documents, by neutralizing Brewster Jennings & Associates the Libby cabal closed one possible route to uncovering their schemes . . .
Well, and I suppose they were just so pleased with themselves at the time -- thinking they were neutralizing both Wilson AND Plame in one blow.
But there's more. Ramimondo also connects the leak investigation to the recent flap over Syria:
The U.S. is ratcheting up its campaign against Syria, even as the principal proponents of confronting Damascus – Libby, Hadley, Hannah, Wurmser, et al. – find themselves in Fitzgerald's sights. In effect, the prosecutor is running a race with the War Party: can they provoke a war with Syria before he brings charges? . . . The War Party has its own prosecutor, UN "investigator" Detlev Mehlis, currently trumping up charges against the next candidate for "regime change" in the Middle East: Syria. Mehlis operates under none of the constraints of the U.S. legal system . . . His report is full of uncorroborated testimony from unknown witnesses of unknowable veracity, and in places reads more like a political polemic than a legal document. I defy anyone to read it and come to any definite conclusion other than that Lebanon is one vast snakepit we would do well to stay out of. Yet drawing American troops into the Levant is precisely what the neocons are counting on to distract the American people from their treason, in a "wag the dog" scenario so bold it leaves one breathless. According to Joshua Landis, the respected scholar of Syrian politics and culture who resides in Damascus, the very people who fear indictments the most are behind this new push for war: "I have it on good authority that Steven Hadley, the director of the US National Security Council, called the President of the Italian senate to asked [sic] if he had a candidate to replace Bashar al-Assad as President of Syria. The Italians were horrified. Italy is one of Syria's biggest trading partners so it seemed a reasonable place to ask! This is what Washington has been up to." . . . We're on the Middle Eastern escalator, as I've said before: there is no way to contain the conflict we've unleashed in Iraq . . . The neocons know they're running a marathon, desperately trying to outrun the consequences of their own trail of deception. Will the truth catch up with Hadley, Ledeen, et al., before they can do any more damage to American interests in the Middle East – and spill more blood?
See the Raimondo article for the links to the background documents.

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Sunday, October 23, 2005

Please, Sir, can I get a raise too? 

Members of N.S. legislature get additional raise to cover rising fuel costs: "A legislative committee has quietly awarded provincial politicians in Nova Scotia a substantial increase in their travel and constituency allowance to help them cover rising fuel costs, The Canadian Press has learned. The increase is over and above a planned 2.9 per cent salary increase for members of the legislature." Ooh, and did they think that Nova Scotia taxpayers wouldn't notice?

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Another dispatch from Occupied France 

The Poorman links to this story -- US troops fighting losing battle for Sunni triangle-- and he titles is "Hearts and minds". But to me, stories like this sound more and more like the stories out of Occupied France during World War II:
The mob grew more frenzied as the gunmen dragged the two surviving Americans from the cab of their bullet-ridden lorry and forced them to kneel on the street.
Killing one of the men with a rifle round fired into the back of his head, they doused the other with petrol and set him alight. Barefoot children, yelping in delight, piled straw on to the screaming man's body to stoke the flames.
It had taken just one wrong turn for disaster to unfold. Less than a mile from the base it was heading to, the convoy turned left instead of right and lumbered down one of the most anti-American streets in Iraq, a narrow bottleneck in Duluiya town, on a peninsular jutting into the Tigris river named after the Jibouri tribe that lives there.
As the lorries desperately tried to reverse out, dozens of Sunni Arab insurgents wielding rocket launchers and automatic rifles emerged from their homes . . . Within minutes, four American contractors, all employees of the Halliburton subsidiary Kellog, Brown & Root, were dead. The jubilant crowd dragged their corpses through the street, chanting anti-US slogans. . . . Perhaps fearful of public reaction in America, where support for the war is falling, US officials suppressed details of the Sept 20 attack, which bore a striking resemblance to the murder of four other contractors in Fallujah last year . . . The violence here seems to encapsulate the growing difficulties the US military is facing in trying to defeat the insurgency . . . The insurgency in eastern Salahuddin province is growing more intense, more deadly and more sophisticated.
Lt Col Gary Brito, the battalion's commanding officer, said that in recent months the number of roadside bombs targeting his men had increased by a third - even though journeys out of base have been cut back. They are having a more devastating effect too.
"Before only two out of 10 used to be effective," he said. "Now four or five have a catastrophic effect, blowing away a vehicle or causing casualties." In the past few months at least four American soldiers in this battalion alone have been killed. Another 39 have been wounded.
Even routine patrols are fraught with danger.
"What the hell was that," shouted Lt Chris Baldwin as a huge explosion rocked Baker Company's convoy of humvees trundling along a street in Dour, another town under Lt Col Brito's watch.
"Contact! Contact!" he bellowed into his radio as the gunners opened fire on a row of nearby houses from where the rocket-propelled anti-tank missile was fired.
As the gunfire died down, the soldiers burst into house after house, their facades peppered with bullet holes.
But, as is so often the case, the attacker had vanished down one of Dour's maze-like alleys.
Instead the Americans were confronted with sullen Iraqis, holding their terrified children to their sides. An old woman sat on her bed, clutching her heart, as the soldiers interrogated the family.
"They heard nothing, they saw nothing, same as ******* usual," said Sgt Jody Miller. Taking another deep drag from his cigarette, he turned to the company's translator.
"Tell them to tell us where the bad guys are so we stop frigging shooting up their houses," he said.
Nobody was hurt but the mutual distrust between the Americans and the local community deepened just a little bit more.
"Mutual distrust"? Try "hate".

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Saturday, October 22, 2005

DART in Pakistan 

Canada's DART has arrived in Pakistan. Here's a photo:

Sgt. Alain Beauvais, from Quebec City, and Pvt. Marie-Clair Proulx, from St. Jean, Que., with Canada's Disaster Assistance Response Team, gives a young boy a tetanus shot at a clinic run by Pakistani doctors from America in Gari Dupata, Pakistan, Friday, Oct. 21, 2005. (AP Photo/CP, Ryan Remiorz)

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The anti-war beat goes on... 


Tim Goodrich, right, an Air Force veteran and co-founder of a group called Iraq Veterans Against the War, and Army veteran John McNamara, left, await the arrival of the motorcade carrying President Bush enroute to the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and dedication ceremonies for the retired Air Force One Boeing 707 aircraft, in Simi Valley, Calif., Friday, Oct. 21, 2005. (AP Photo/Reed Saxon)


Cindy Sheehan (C) joins the Grandmothers Against the War vigil in New York October 19, 2005. Sheehan, whose son Casey, of Vacaville, California was killed in Sadr City, Iraq while serving in the Army, joined the eighteen grandmothers who were arrested Monday after they tried to enlist at a military recruiting center in Times Square. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton

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Friday, October 21, 2005

Charging Bush with war crimes 

Daily Kos alerts us to this article in Counterpunch -- Prosecuting Bush in Canada for Torture -- about a group trying to charge Bush with war crimes.
Ms. [Gail] Davidson and Lawyers Against the War have laid charges against George Bush Jr; accusing him of aiding, abetting, and counseling the commission of torture. This charge is based on the abuses of the prisoners held at the U.S. prisons in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba and Abu-Ghraib, Iraq including Canadian minor Omar Khadr, who has been held in Cuba since 2001. "Many Canadians don't realize that we have not only the right but the responsibility to pursue these charges, it is a responsibility that the Canadian government owes not only to the people of Canada, but to the people of the world. The 1987 Convention Against Torture [And Other Cruel, Inhuman Or Degrading Treatment Or Punishment] binds us to this action." . . . "The American legal system seems incapable of bringing him to justice and there are no international courts with jurisdiction. So it's up to Canada to enforce the law that everybody has signed on to but nobody else seems willing to apply."
The attempt to bring charges has been going on for ten months, since Bush's visit to Canada last year, but the case was under a publication ban for some reason. The BC Supreme Court removed the ban because no one could defend it.
Apparently this group, Lawyers against the War, is pursuing charges against Bush in Germany too.

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Thursday, October 20, 2005

Canadians in Iraq on both sides 

Wow, now here's a story: Canadians taking part in Iraqi insurgency:
The head of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) says Canadians have joined the insurgency in Iraq. James Judd, the director of CSIS, revealed Thursday evening that some of the foreign fighters in Iraq battling coalition troops are Canadians. He said there aren't many, but more are expected to join. Speaking to reporters at a break during a security conference in Montreal, Judd was asked if Canadians were in Iraq fighting against the American-led coalition. 'Yes, I believe so,' he said. He said there weren't many, 'we're talking single digit numbers.' But he said 'we're aware of several others who are contemplating leaving.' . . . the Prime Minister's Office was 'flabbergasted' that such sensitive information could be released by the head of the spy agency. 'They didn't know it was being spoken about publicly and for that they [the PMO] are very angry.' . . . Acknowledgment that Canadians are fighting in Iraq raises a number of questions, such as what will their status be if they decide to return to Canada. "It raises the longer-term question of what do they bode for the future?" Judd said.

Single digits, of course, means fewer than ten. But still, its a potential mess, isn't it. There are also some Canadians fighting with the Americans in Iraq.
So what happens when they meet up?


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Laugh du jour 


Cam Cardow, Ottawa Citizen

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Great line of the day 

Digby writes about reaping what you have sowed, and all that:
It's very hard for me to feel any sympathy for Grover Norquist who is being battered by the religious zealots for daring to speak at a Log Cabin Republican meeting . . . He built a vote machine of ignorant saps who really believe that economic conservatism has something to do with hating gays and traditional families. When you let the nutballs into the tent and give them real electoral power, this is what you get. Wait until Big Business understands that after they get their tax cuts and deregulation they'll have to contend with a generation of creationist witch burners to sustain a first world economy.
Emphasis mine. Yes, its going to be pretty difficult to drill for oil when the engineers on your crew don't believe in geology, or to build space weapons when the technicians didn't attend physics lectures, or to develop new crop varieties when your biologists never studied genetics.

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Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Its criminal 

James Wolcott sums it up: " . . . 'criminalizing politics' is exactly what should be done when political criminals deceive a nation into a war . . . "

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Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Great line of the day 

In regard to whether or not Fitzgerald is building a strong case against SOMEone, Billmon writes: "the reaction of every judge who has looked at the prosecutors's sealed evidence -- including the judges who ordered Judy Miller sent to the slammer -- has been the legal equivalent of a low whistle. Whatever Fitzgerald's got, it seems to pretty damning . . . "

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Frog goes musical 

Frogsdong writes a little ditty: "I've looked at George from both sides now
From highs and lows and still somehow
It's George's failures I recall
He really is a loser after all."

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Still crazy after all these years 

You know, as a confirmed progressive-leftist type, I should probably be opposed to this: 'Open skies' talks take wing: "The federal government is launching formal talks to open up the Canada-U.S. air industry to more cross-border competition and potentially lower air fares."
It will undoubtedly compromise Air Canada's attempts to become profitable, thereby risking Canada's national airline, etc. etc.
But, Lord help me, I just can't work up a sweat over this.
Air Canada doesn't deserve it.
The last time I flew across country, to an event in Fredericton NB with a pause in London Ontario, I had to take a total of six flights. Five of them were late. And I mean LATE -- like mostly by two or more hours.
And at good old Air Canada, no one seemed to care. Apologies are for wimps, I guess.
At one point during this odyssey, I remember, they switched a flight to a different gate. Without changing the sign. I only knew because I asked at the old gate. The rule is, never believe their signs -- always ask.
So while I was waiting at the new gate -- because, of course, the flight was late leaving -- a little old man came up and asked the crew why flight such-and-such hadn't left yet. Well, it had -- from a different gate, which they hadn't bothered to post signage for or to announce either.
Nobody seemed particularly concerned about this -- they just told him to sit down, they're get him onto another flight sometime or other.
There was one flight which left on time. It was the one which was supposed to be my last one. I, however, was not on it because I was late getting off my connector flight. The reason I was late getting off this flight was because the plane was late so the Air Canada gate crew had left the gate before we got there.
So when they finally showed up, I tore down to the final flight's gate, hoping it would be late too -- please, please be late, every other flight on this benighted trip has been late so why should THIS flight leave on time? But, of course, no such luck. THAT flight had left exactly on time, five minutes before. Five minutes! And they KNEW I was coming on the connector flight, me and a couple of other people too. So I asked why it couldn't have waited for us, considering that it was flying across the country and could have made up the five minutes pretty easily, and got told, patronizingly and haughtily, "Well, we have to leave on time, you know!"
Choke, gasp -- I was speechless!
Of course, they booked me onto the next flight, leaving four hours hence. It, however, was late. It couldn't leave because the flight crew wasn't there. They had been on a Chicago flight, which was late. The flight finally left an additional six hours later -- a new lateness record!
The next time my husband and I flew Air Canada, we were trying to get to Vancouver. The flight was -- you guessed it -- late. It was, in fact 20 hours late -- so we missed a full day of a four-day little vacation.

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Sunday, October 16, 2005

Great line of the day 

In Pushing Our Buttons Redux Orcinus says some interesting stuff about US terror warnings. He begins
It's becoming evident that the terrorists with designs on destroying America don't need to actually carry out any attacks to undermine our national security. The Republicans now in power are doing it for them.
And he ends thusly:
If there's anything America needs right now, it is leaders, and thinkers, and media figures who will not play games with our national security -- who will forsake the temptation to parlay the real war on terror into a political marketing campaign. It's a temptation this administration has fully indulged, with the adamant support of its cheering section in the Republican Party. Indeed, it is now apparently even being refined by lesser Republican lights in their local races. And someday, we're all going to pay for it.

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And did one of them have the first name "Quentin"? 

"A man accused of growing marijuana . . . claimed he was hired to renovate the property . . . by a Mr. Black, a Mr. Pink and a Mr. Blue and had no idea there were 2,500 pot plants growing in the building. Lucin, 33, of Surrey also said the facility was registered to a Mr. Peach. The judge called Lucin's evidence totally unbelievable . . . "

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Photos from Ohio 

Tin soldiers and Nixon's comin'. We're finally on our own. This summer I hear the drummin' . . . This was running through my head as I searched for these photos from Saturday's events in Toledo. I also posted the commentary on the photos from the Yahoo slideshow. I found this commentary sort of interesting because it obviously was written from the viewpoint of the police rather than of the protestors.


Police are seen in a stand off with an unruly group of prosestors, Saturday, Oct. 15, 2005, in Toledo, Ohio, where violence erupted between police and local protestors. A crowd that gathered to protest a planned march Saturday by a white supremacist group turned violent, throwing baseball-sized rocks at police and vandalizing vehicles and stores, including setting a bar on fire. (AP Photo/J.D. Pooley)


Members of the National Socialist Movement gesture to protesters from the grounds of Woodward High School . . . REUTERS/The Blade/Allan Detrich


Residents protest on Stickney Avenue . . . Members of the neo-Nazi National Socialist Movement had been scheduled to march under police protection through north Toledo, with anti-Nazi groups set to counter-protest. But police canceled the event and told the neo-Nazi group to leave as tensions rose and violence erupted nearby, the Toledo Blade reported. REUTERS/The Blade/Allan Detrich


Police use tear gas against a group of protestors . . . A crowd that gathered to protest a planned march Saturday by a white supremacist group turned violent, throwing baseball-sized rocks at police and vandalizing vehicles and stores, including setting a bar on fire. At least two dozen members of the National Socialist Movement, which calls itself 'America's Nazi Party,' gathered at a city park just before noon and were to march under police protection. Organizers of the march said they were demonstrating against black gangs that they said were harassing white residents in the neighborhood. (AP Photo/J.D. Pooley)

The news story indicates the crowd was angry at what they perceived as implicit city support of the march. "When the rioting began, [Toledo Mayor] Ford tried to negotiate with those involved, but "they weren't interested in that." He said people in the crowd swore at him and wanted to know why he was protecting the Nazis. They were mostly "gang members who had real or imagined grievances and took it as an opportunity to speak in their own way," Ford said. "I was chagrined that there were obvious mothers and children in the crowd with them," he said."
In the stories coming out of New Orleans, it seemed that some of the black families waiting at the Convention Centre viewed the young men with guns as their protectors - and these young men saw themselves that way, too -- while the police and soldiers saw them as gangsters. Perhaps they were both protectors AND gangsters. I wonder if the same dynamic is at play here in Toledo as well. Are poor black Americans so alienated from police that they experience greater protection and fairer treatment from the black gangs in their midst rather than from the police who, as they perceive it, arrest them too easily, arbitrarily and for no reason?
If so, this is a serious problem and it is up to police forces to solve it. They can solve it only by recruiting many more black officers -- just as, in Canada, police forces and the RCMP had to learn a long and painful lesson about how they could not properly police their various communities if people from those communities had not been hired by the force. For us, this meant many more Aboriginal officers in Western Canada, more East Indian and Asian officers in Vancouver, and so forth. Still far from perfect here, but I think we are getting better.
UPDATE: Ah-ha -- as I suspected, this news story confirms that the Nazis deliberately chose to hold their protest in a black neighbourhood -- they wanted to provoke violence and get black people blamed for it, a longstanding fascist technique.

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Why I like Halloween 

Its the only kids celebration we have that actually belongs to kids.
Everything else, from Christmas to Valentines Day to Thanksgiving, even to Rememberance Day, has been taken over by adults and organized within an inch of its life.
But Halloween, around here at least, is done by the kids. For the most part, they figure out their own costumes -- though the mothers insist it be large enough that kids can wear their winter coats underneath if need be -- and they do their own decorating, carving pumpkins or pasting paper witches on the window or hanging up kleenex ghosts in the trees. And I think this is just great. When our kids were little, we deliberately did NOT get into the more elaborate house decorating that a few of the other neighbours did, just because we wanted to keep it simple.
And the kids loved it -- our two talked about their costumes from the day school started. Our kids and their friends would set up hugely complicated scenarios about who would meet who and when and where, to go trick-or-treating together. They got into fierce discussions about which houses gave the best stuff, and particularly whether they could get away with making a second stop at the rich houses, the ones of incredible prolificacy where they scorned the "halloween"-sized candies and gave out whole chocolate bars, or standard-sized bags of chips. I did do some basic costume-sewing -- the black cape got used for years, as did the pirate hat -- but basically my husband and I deliberately limited our role in Halloween to finding the candles for the pumpkins and saying typically grumpy parental things like "Now don't you kids eat too much candy before you go to bed, and make sure you brush your teeth!!!"
I was reminded of all this when I read this story about a Long Island private school principal who cancelled the spring prom because indulgent, social-climbing parents made their children's prom into an expensive nightmare: "It is not primarily the sex/booze/drugs that surround this event, as problematic as they might be; it is rather the flaunting of affluence, assuming exaggerated expenses, a pursuit of vanity for vanity's sake -- in a word, financial decadence. Each year it gets worse - becomes more exaggerated, more expensive, more emotionally traumatic. We are withdrawing from the battle and allowing the parents full responsibility. (Kellenberg) is willing to sponsor a prom, but not an orgy." Good for the principal.

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Saturday, October 15, 2005

Good Better Best 

Good

Larry Wright, The Detroit News

Better


Non-Sequitur

Best

Brian Gable, The Globe and Mail

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Compare and contrast 

Read these two versions of the same news story. Lots of similarities, but some subtle and not-so-subtle differences.
First, the Canadian story -- Martin and Bush hit stalemate in chat over softwood lumber dispute
Prime Minister Paul Martin has warned U.S. President George W. Bush that Canada will wage its battle over softwood lumber in American courts - and in the court of public opinion. Martin spoke with Bush by phone Friday but they failed to make any progress on the softwood issue. Neither leader budged from his original position during the 20-minute chat, officials said. Bush maintained that he would prefer a negotiated settlement, said a spokeswoman for Martin. The prime minister insisted there's no reason for Canada to negotiate because it has already won all NAFTA challenges to U.S. tariffs and duties that have cost Canadian lumber firms $5 billion. "Canada has won panel decision after panel decision," Martin said while attending the inauguration of a new Quebec border crossing with the U.S. "Fundamentally, what one might call the final court of appeal under NAFTA has also confirmed the Canadian position. And that should be respected." A NAFTA extraordinary challenge committee ruled in August that Canadian exports posed no threat of injury to American producers. But the U.S. government signalled it would not comply with the ruling, saying it was already complying with a World Trade Organization decision on the matter. Martin told Bush that Canada will continue fighting in the U.S. courts and by appealing to Americans who would benefit from cheaper Canadian lumber - something Martin suggested would be an embarrassment to Bush. "(Martin) told the president that we view it as a shame that we should have to take the U.S. to court in its own country to make that point," said a Martin spokesman. "But we're more than prepared to do so and we will do so." Canadian lumber exporters have paid more than $5 billion in duties since May 2002, when American lumber producers filed their fourth trade complaint in 20 years. Canada estimates that, based on past NAFTA rulings, the U.S. should pay back at least $3.5 billion of the duties collected so far. For the fifth time, a dispute resolution panel under the North American Free Trade Agreement has ordered U.S. trade officials to review the way they determine Canadian lumber exports are subsidized. The NAFTA panel, made up of three American and two Canadian trade experts, gave the United States until Oct. 28 to comply. If the panel's ruling is implemented, the countervailing duty rate would fall below one per cent, which under trade rules would result in its cancellation, according to the B.C. Lumber Trade Council. During Friday's phone conversation, the two leaders also discussed the U.S. plan to drill for oil in an Alaska Arctic wildlife refugee - something Canada opposes. Bush insisted he must move forward because his country needs the oil.
Next, the American view - Bush urges Canada to settle lumber tariffs
President Bush pressed Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin for a negotiated settlement of the bitter U.S.-Canadian dispute over lumber tariffs on Friday. Martin rebuffed the overture and warned that Canada would seek relief in U.S. courts if necessary, according to their respective press secretaries. "The president said we should get back to the negotiating table and work to find a lasting solution," said White House spokesman Scott McClellan in describing the 20-minute phone call. In Ottawa, Martin spokeswoman Melanie Gruer said the two leaders made no headway. Martin insisted there's no reason for Canada to negotiate, as it has already won all challenges to U.S. tariffs on Canadian lumber in cases brought before North American Free Trade Agreement panels, Gruer said. "The prime minister emphasized that it makes little sense to negotiate a victory that we've already won." She said Martin told Bush that Canada would take its fight to U.S. courts and appeal to Americans who benefit from cheaper Canadian lumber - something Martin suggested would be an embarrassment to Bush. McClellan did not mention that threat in his version of the conversation. "The prime minister expressed Canada's concerns about the issue of softwood lumber," McClellan said. "The president expressed our strong commitment to NAFTA," he added. At issue is a dispute over steep U.S. tariffs imposed in 2002 on imports of Canadian softwood lumber used in home construction. The tariffs, which now average about 21 percent, were put in place at the urging of the U.S. lumber industry, which contended it was losing thousands of jobs because of unfair subsidies provided to Canadian producers. Martin has accused the United States of ignoring a string of NAFTA rulings against the U.S. duties. Some industry analysts estimate that it costs Americans up to $1,000 more to build new homes since the construction lumber dispute began in 2002. In the most recent ruling, a NAFTA panel of three judges - two Canadians and one American - in August unanimously dismissed U.S. claims that an earlier ruling in favor of Canada in the lumber dispute violated trade rules. Most U.S. timber is harvested from private land at market prices, while in Canada, the government owns 90 percent of timberlands and charges fees for logging. The fee is based on the cost of maintaining and restoring the forest. Canada claims it has lost some $4.1 billion in punitive tariffs. At issue are shipments of such softwoods as pine, spruce and fir. McClellan said that during the call, Bush also thanked Martin for Canada's help in relief efforts for victims of hurricanes Katrina and Rita. They also talked about the upcoming election in Haiti, the continuing strife in Sudan's Darfur, next month's Summit of the Americas in Argentina, and oil, McClellan said. The Canadian spokeswoman said the two leaders discussed the U.S. plan to drill for oil in an Alaska Arctic wildlife refugee - something Canada opposes. Bush, Gruer said, insisted he must move forward because his country needs the oil.
Two solitudes, eh?

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Lying Judy and lying New York Times 

So here is the New York Times's big article explaining Judy Miller and all -- The Miller Case: From a Name on a Pad to Jail, and Back.
Lies, damned lies -- no statistics, just lies.
The lying all starts right here, at the very beginning of that story -- "In a notebook belonging to Judith Miller, a reporter for The New York Times, amid notations about Iraq and nuclear weapons, appear two small words: "Valerie Flame." Ms. Miller should have written Valerie Plame. That name is at the core of a federal grand jury investigation that has reached deep into the White House. At issue is whether Bush administration officials leaked the identity of Ms. Plame, an undercover C.I.A. operative, to reporters as part of an effort to blunt criticism of the president's justification for the war in Iraq. Ms. Miller spent 85 days in jail for refusing to testify and reveal her confidential source, then relented. On Sept. 30, she told the grand jury that her source was I. Lewis Libby, the vice president's chief of staff. But she said he did not reveal Ms. Plame's name. And when the prosecutor in the case asked her to explain how "Valerie Flame" appeared in the same notebook she used in interviewing Mr. Libby, Ms. Miller said she "didn't think" she heard it from him. "I said I believed the information came from another source, whom I could not recall," she wrote on Friday, recounting her testimony for an article that appears today."
Emphasis mine.
So now the New York Times actually reports lies to its readers. Lies they KNOW are lies.
They expect readers to believe that some mysterious stranger told Judy about Plame -- someone whose name she cannot recall? A one-armed man, perhaps? Or maybe it was someone wearing a mask and driving a batmobile? Is it a bird? Is it a plane?
Well, I'm sure she apologized very sincerely to Fitzgerald and the grand jury -- twisting her sash, with a fetching smile, she put her finger to the dimple in her chin and simpered "sorry, Mr. Prosecutor and all you nice jurors, but really, I jest caint remember WHO it was ...."
And they said, OK, fine, thanks, you can go.
And though the New York Times reports blandly on her statement that apparently Libby was NOT her source for Plame's name, what they don't explain in the whole rest of the article is just why she would then have to spend three months in jail -- if it wasn't Libby who told her Plame's name, why was she protecting him so vigorously?
Of course, she is lying -- I don't know if she actually lied to the grand jury, but in this newspaper article she is lying without shame, to her editor, to her own colleagues and to her readers -- and the reporters writing this story know she is lying but they report it anyway. And the editors let it stand. And the publisher printed it.
Oh, how far has this newspaper fallen.
UPDATE: A Kos diary also notes that later the article says "Mr. Bennett [one of Miller's lawyers], who by now had carefully reviewed Ms. Miller's extensive notes taken from two interviews with Mr. Libby, assured Mr. Fitzgerald that Ms. Miller had only one meaningful source. He agreed to limit his questions to Mr. Libby and the Wilson matter." So in effect the article actually says that Miller is lying about her mysterious one-armed source, but the readers have to parse its sentences for these clues. Pathetic!

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Three more years 

Billmon's post - Hogtied- summarizes the foreign policy bind into which Bush has tied the United States:
. . . one of the great ironies of Shrub's presidency: an administration that came to power determined to win maximum freedom of action in foreign policy by going it alone (or recruiting ad hoc coalitions that would submissively follow Washington's lead) has ended up virtually paralyzed by the consequences of its own hubris. Consider:
With the bulk of the U.S. active duty army marooned in the Iraq quagmire, pre-emptive (much less preventative) war is off the table. Syria, Iran and Hugo Chavez can all thumb their noses at the hegemon with relative impunity, secure in the knowledge that the 82nd Airborne won't come knocking on their doors any time soon.
Bush's inbred arrogance, Field Marshal Von Rumsfeld's moral cluelessness and the neocons' casual contempt for "soft power" have made the United States radioactive not just in the Islamic world but to public opinion in much of the rest of the world as well. Governments that might once have considered enlisting in Uncle Sam's army won't risk it now. . . .
Without a sensible energy policy. . . the U.S. is in no position to threaten Iran with meaningful economic sanctions . . .
Likewise, the U.S. can't risk alienating or destabilizing the House of Saud, lest the kingdom fall into the wrong hands (or none at all) sending oil to $150 a barrel. This makes any talk of "democratizing" the Middle East into a cynical joke . . .
We're not even trying to squeeze Chavez . . .
The failure of the neocons' go-it-alone attempt to isolate North Korea has left Kim Jong Il with a half dozen more nukes, and forced the administration to make a humilating U turn towards appeasement.
The Republican regime's out-of-control fiscal policies have given the People's Republic of China a senior unsubordinated claim on the U.S. Treasury and unprecedented potential influence over the U.S. financial markets. This rules out any attempt to "contain" Beijing or counter its reach into traditional U.S. fiefdoms like Latin America, and could become particularly problematic if the Chinese ever move militarily against Taiwan.
The GOP's drive to steamroll opposition to free trade -- instead of looking for practical compromises on labor and environmental standards -- could soon make it just about impossible to pass any more trade deals, unless the Republican House leadership intends to start using stress positions on party dissidents and holding votes open for three days instead of three hours . . .
the administration has marginalized the United States in the shaping of an International Criminal Court it someday will feel compelled to join . . .
[the Bush administration] virtually destroyed NATO without creating a replacement vehicle for managing relations with either the "new" or the "old" Europe. . . [and]handed out a string of security IOUs in Central Asia that it will be hard pressed to honor without Russian cooperation . . .
The unilateralist fantasy . . . has collided with global reality -- one part economic integration, one part political disintegration, shaken and stirred. And reality has won, tying the colossus down almost as tightly as the Lilliputians did Gulliver. Now the question is: What can Gulliver do about it? Or, even more importantly, what will Gulliver try to do about it?
Not to mention Guantanamo, which will be a national shame for the United States for the next several generations.
And the world has three more years of having to try to deal with these jerks and trying to keep them from causing any more trouble. We really do need to figure out some occupational therapy kind of thing, something harmless to keep the Bush administration busy and occupied and out of the way.
Maybe an expedition to build a bridge between the two peaks of the Mount Kilimanjaros . . .

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Thursday, October 13, 2005

Great line of the day 

The Poorman refers to this post at Bottle of Blog - You Don't Need To Be A Weatherman To Know How Badly Bush Blows:
Republicans! Pick a thing and believe in it. Stop believing in people--especially these people. George W. Bush is not a political philosophy. Stop humiliating yourselves for a guy who couldn't care less how stupid he makes you look! Nobody voted for Clinton because they thought he had a great marriage. But the rubes all voted for Bush for a bunch of crap that, after five years, we all know he couldn't care less about. Cut your losses. Let's wrap this national turkey up. Eighty percent of Republican jokers keep sticking to this clown and they're going to walk away from this administration like the investors of Arbusto and Bush Exploration, and everything else Bush ever ran--broke, embarrassed, and out of business.

Emphasis mine.
I liked this piece because it spoke to the danger we all face of "believing" in a politician, and how vulnerable that makes both us and our political processes.
Of course, we won't vote for someone we don't like, no matter how much we agree with the policies he is promoting -- that's just human. But we have to be aware of the risk we are taking if we start believing that the person IS the party. This crosses the line between leadership and the cult of personality, and takes us into the territory of tyrants and fascists.
I don't get it myself, but apparently George Bush is a likeable guy, a gee-whiz charmer, someone who inspires great loyalty among otherwise intelligent people. Most of the time, the charming people you meet are also very nice people -- but every now and then, they aren't. I have known a couple of very charming people who were, at heart, not very nice. Being charming, they didn't suffer from their mistakes and tantrums and finger-pointing and selfishness -- they sincerely believed that everything that went wrong in their lives was always someone else's fault. They were great fun to spend a few hours with, but they were stunted personalities, really, because they never had to grow up.

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Canadian health care doing the Colonel Bogey March 

So I read this story and a little song started running through my head:
Provinces say they can't meet year-end deadline for setting medical wait times: In the federal-provincial accord, first ministers promised evidence-based benchmarks in five areas - cardiac and cancer surgery, eye operations, joint replacements and diagnostic scans . . . Alan Hudson, who heads Ontario's wait-times program, says there is evidence to support benchmarks in only two of the five areas - cardiac surgery and cancer treatment.
Bullshit, was all the band could play
"In a broad context - hips and knees and all the rest of it - there's very little evidence," said Hudson.
Bullshit, they played it night and day
Solid evidence relating wait times and health outcomes would require double-blind studies where some patients received care quickly and others received it after a delay, he said.
Bullshit, they just played bullshit, da da da dum dum, da dum dum, da da ...
Ah ha -- now, we've got plenty of Canadians who have had to wait for-goddamn-EVER for their new hips and cataract removals and MRIs, so there's no problem finding half of the study subjects, but maybe the problem is that we just don't have enough Canadians who have actually received care quickly, to compare our data to? Of course, we are right next door to a country with ten times our population, where they have lots of people who got their cataract surgery and joint replacements and MRIs quickly, so we could use THEM for comparison, couldn't we?
Well, nobody mentioned this.
Could it be, perhaps, that the provinces just don't want to create benchmarks? Because then there would be a standard that they would have to live up to?
So here's the next shoe dropping -- in response to this first story comes this next story, titled Medical groups attack government backtracking on wait time benchmarks. And this story says establishing these benchmarks isn't really that difficult:
The Wait Times Alliance, which includes six medical specialist societies and the Canadian Medical Association, has already proposed benchmarks for the five high-priority areas.
For example, it says hip and knee replacement should be done within 24 hours in emergency cases, within 90 days in urgent cases, and within nine months in routine cases. It says heart bypass surgery should be done within 48 hours in emergency cases, and within 10 working days in routine cases. The benchmarks are based on the best available evidence and on the clinical judgment of specialists in each field, says [Alliance spokesperson Normand] Laberge. He said that 80 per cent of medical practice is not based on double-blind studies.
True, of course. And here's what the feds say, in a not-so-subtle "put up or pay us back" line.
A spokesman for Health Minister Ujjal Dosanjh said the minister "believes that benchmarks will be delivered because all First Ministers agreed to the December 31 deadline. "They made the pledge and accepted the $41 billion so we expect their governments to live up to their word. No government has an option not to deliver benchmarks by December 31."

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Great line of the day 

Nitpicker looks at recent questions about the al-Zawahiri letter: "As a 13-year veteran of the armed forces, though, I find it repulsive that veterans like myself are put in the position where we're forced to decide whether our commander-in-chief is lying or al Qaeda is--and it's actually a hard decision!"

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More Plame commentary - a toxic political culture 

I didn't know this -- Digby points out that Chris Matthews testified himself in the Plame case - no wonder he could summarize it so well. Dibgy points out how serious is the disconnect between the media/Washington beltway/politicians/hacks and the public on this case:
The subjects of this investigation are the most powerful people on this planet. The case involves not just politics as usual but a concerted effort to conceal information about the rationale leading up to this misbegotten war. When the administration was confronted by critics, they could have laid out the reasons why Wilson was incorrect. Instead, they chose to forcefully discredit him with a ridiculous nepotism charge and in the course of that, whether purposefully of out of carelessness, they revealed a CIA agent's cover.
This was not just politics, it was a cover up using strong arm tactics. We may not have known definitively in the summer of 2003 that after all the administration's so-called proof that there were no WMD in Iraq, but we sure as hell do now. Whether they technically committed a crime under the Victoria Toensing statute, or whether they perjured themselves or obstructed justice before the grand jury to cover their political crimes, it should be prosecuted. Richard Cohen and Andrea Mitchell may think this is trivial, but I doubt that most people in this country will find it so. They understand the difference between consensual blowjobs, character assassination and national security even if the beltway doesn't.
This is at its essence about a toxic political culture. The press has abdicated its reponsibility to hold the powerful accountable. A highly centralized Republican political machine observes no limits. The opposition party is purposefully rendered impotent and irrelevant. The checks and balances are no longer in place.
The only institution that has the ability to cut through the spin, the lies, the strong-arm tactics is the justice system. Politics have become criminalized to be sure --- by the political criminals and their friendly helpmates in the press. The law is all we've got left. God help us.
Well, Digby, I don't quite agree with you. We also have the blogs. Today's versions of Walter Cronkite and Edward R. Murrow are writing blogs somewhere in California -- AKA Daily Kos and Hullabaloo.

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War on Terror 1 -- Constitution 0 

Larry Beinhart: Fog Facts notes that the main casualty so far in the War on Terror has been the US Constitution:
The War on Terror does not catch terrorists, especially the terrorists who attacked us on 9/11, and the people in charge don’t really seem to care. That’s with the expenditure of $200 billion in supplementary spending, over and above the normal cost of maintaining our military and intelligence operations. Let’s look at what they actually did, instead of what they spoke of. That would suggest what the real goals are.
The big, obvious thing that the War on Terror permitted was for America to make its imperial lunge. There were papers that made it clear that this was an administration goal, the most notable one posted at the Project for a New American Century, and there were statements too. Something more subtle also took place. It is quite dangerous and it is largely unremarked.
The War on Terror permitted the administration to put an end to the concept that everyone is equal before the law.
We suddenly have people who are beneath the laws. They are called terrorists and unlawful combatants. All it takes to make someone beneath the law is to denounce them. They then have no rights, no phone call, no lawyers. They cannot argue about what they’ve been called. They can be whisked off to a prison and held incommunicado and tortured. Or at least seriously abused. It appears unlikely that this could happen to you or I or your friends across the street. But with the end of equality before the law, there really is nothing to stop it. Except our belief that our leaders are all honorable men who would not abuse such power.
Along with the creation of a class that is below the law, there is also a new class that is above the law. The presidential legal staff, including Alberto Gonzales, Jay Bybee and John Yoo, came up with the theory that when the presidents puts on his commander-in-chief outfit, and acts in that capacity, he is not constrained by any laws. Not international law, not the laws of the United States, not by treaties and not even by the constitution. Furthermore, anyone that he commands to do things when he is wearing that costume, is also unconstrained by those limits, statutes and laws. They are all above the law.
In addition, we have created a three tier international system in which there are entire nations below the law: terrorist states, states the harbor terrorists and failed states. There is, of course, one nation that is above the law. That is the United States.


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Goodbye, Carolyn 

Loose cannon, yes, but she was fun and will be missed -- Parrish not seeking re-election: "Controversial MP Carolyn Parrish is telling her constituents she won't seek re-election as a federal Liberal or as an Independent, says a report on a Toronto radio station." One of the great things about Canadian politics is how we can still elect true originals. Parrish, for all her faults, was a Canadian original and never ashamed to be one.

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Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Tweety's great line of the day 

Chris Matthews demonstrates that he actually IS a journalist. Here is how he introduced his show on Monday night -- not a bad summary of what Plame is all about and why it matters, and how it all relates to the Bush administration's push for war with Iraq:
If you don't think this leak case matters, ask yourself, what was the most frightening case you heard for going to war with Iraq? Probably it was that Saddam Hussein was buying uranium yellow cake in Africa to build nuclear weapons. The president said it in his 2003 State of the Union address. The vice president repeated it with military precision, almost like a Gatling gun, Saddam Hussein, nuclear weapons, Saddam Hussein, nuclear weapons, again and again.
But it wasn't true. There's no evidence even now that Saddam tried to by nuclear materials in Africa. We know that now because the man the CIA sent down there to Niger to check it out, sent there after Vice President Cheney asked the CIA to check it out, wrote a New York Times article a few months after the war started that there was no deal. Worse yet, the former ambassador, Joseph Wilson, wrote that the people around the president must have known there was no deal, even when the president and his people kept telling the country there was.
How did the Bush people react to this unwelcome news? This is what the CIA leak case, which could produce indictments any day now, is all about. Did the people around the president actively try to discredit that man who came back from Africa, to say the yellow cake story was a phony? Did they try and kill the messenger? Did they use to enormous media power of the White House to discredit the ambassador, his mission and his wife at the CIA, who suggested him for the mission?
And, in doing so, did they abuse the office and the power to which the president was elected? Did they break the law? Did they conspire to punish a critic of the war, even if their weapon was the destruction of his wife's undercover career by identifying her to the public? Did they lie about their actions to government investigators to a grand jury or even to the president himself?

Since 911. Bush has often said his job is to protect the American people -- actually it isn't of course; the president's job really is to defend the Constitution. But leaving that aside for the moment and getting back to my point -- Americans need to ask the Bush administration how well Bush actually protected them when he took them to war with Iraq.

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So whose going to be the new Vice President?  

Crooks and Liars reports "The Wall Street Journal and Bloomberg are working on stories that point to Vice President Dick Cheney as the target of special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald's investigation into the leaking of CIA operative Valerie Plame's name."
So when Cheney resigns, whose going to be the new VP?
Just figure out who is the bery least-qualified Bush patriot in the world -- how about Karen Hughes?

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Monday, October 10, 2005

Great line of the day 

Hunter at Daily Kos takes on the right-wing bloggers who are still trying to argue that Plame wasn't really outed as an undercover CIA agent:
Dear Whoever The Hell Comes Up With These Things: . . . It takes an act of wanton dumbassitude to assert, after the case has been investigated for two years, that maybe Plame wasn't really covert, and they'll get around any day now to figuring that out. Call me an excessive believer in the powers of investigative deduction, but I'm pretty sure that before spending two years of investigation, the CIA figured out whether or not Plame was actually covert.
Yes, this is the intellectual movement that is going to take down the mainstream media with their hard-hitting news analysis. These are the New Pundits, the FactCheckers, the Socket Rientists of Journalism. From the militia members stocking up for the nuclear apocalypse to be caused by Y2K, to the network-busting power of small animated gifs, to the monkey howls of Hillary! Hiiiiiillaryyyyyyy! that accompany the slightest dull thud in the political landscape, these are the members of 'Bush's Base'. Lord help us all, we're going to die.

Emphasis mine.
We're heard lots of Plame talking points over the last two years, haven't we - she wasn't really covert, nobody knew who she really was, she was nobody really, nothing was actually leaked, no law was really broken, the law sets such a high standard that no one could ever be actually guilty of breaking it, maybe it was Powell's fault, maybe it was Fleisher's fault, it was the reporters who told Rove and Libby that she was CIA, when Rove and Libby talked to reporters it was about welfare reform not uranium from Africa, that guy Wilson is just a publicity hound, that prosecutor is a nutcase, that guy Wilson is a nutcase, that prosecotor is just a publicity hound -- all gradually falling by the wayside as events proved them just too ridiculous for anyone to keep trying to promote.
The republicans are trying out two new talking points now.
First is that society shouldn't "criminalize politics" -- which implies that the whole thins is somehow really just a part of the usual political game that Washingtonians play, not something anyone should find illegal or take offense at, Democrats argued that nobody cared when Clinton had that affair so wouldn't it be hypocritical to care about this, oh my word can't anyone take a joke around here? Of course, this talking point won't stand for very long. There are just too many Americans who will insist on thinking that this is NOT like having a consentual affair, that outing a covert CIA agent is actually a criminal act, and how dare anyone pretend that such behaviour is OK just because you dislike her husband, what's wrong with you people anyway.
The other new talking point now is the "Rove lied to Bush" story. This may be Bush's last line of defense, the last refuge of a scoundrel.
This fairy tale describes how Bush ASKED his good buddy Karl about the Plame leak yes indeedy he DID, but then that tricky ole Rove lied -- yes, he LIED, and so our pore ole George got tricked by ole buddy Turdblossom.
Now this self-serving piece of twaddle strikes me as about as credible as the "slam-dunk" anecdote. You remember, the Woodward anecdote that in December of 2002 -- long after all the mushroom cloud remarks and the 'fixing the intellegence around the policy' memo -- that Bush supposedly asked then-CIA-director Tenant if he was really really really sure that Saddam had WMD and Tenant said it was a slam dunk. So therefore Bush believers could be comforted that their guy had TRIED to find out the truth about the WMD, he REALLY TRIED, but his staff done him wrong, and it was all Tenant's fault. This "Rove lied to Bush" line strikes me as just another fairy story about how Bush's staff done him wrong AGAIN!
So Bush's only fault, really, was that he loved, not wisely, but too well -- or something like that.

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What a suprise! 

Well, well, how surprising -- ". . . with Saturday's constitutional referendum appearing more likely to divide than unify the country, some within the administration have concluded that the quest for democracy in Iraq, at least in its current form, could actually strengthen the insurgency . . ." Oh, quel suprise -- so, actually, Bush can argue that they have stayed the course long enough, and it would actually enhance democracy if the US just pulls troops out before the congressional midterms next fall? Except, of course, for the 20,000 troops who will hunker down on those permanent bases.
I don't know if they can actually sell this one to the American people as peace with honour, considering that war with dishonour is the more likely scenario for the next six months regardless of how many purple fingers are waggled.

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Sunday, October 09, 2005

Cutest kitten ever 

Just for fun, I stole this from The Poorman.
The photo is actually entitled "cutest kitten ever".

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Pandemic Flu Awareness Week 

This week was Pandemic Flu Awareness Week on the blogs -- I haven't had anything to contribute to this discussion, but here is some handy information about personal preparedness.
Though I find the survival articles interesting -- for example, it would not have occurred to me to stockpile brown rice as a diet staple -- I am probably not scared enough or organized enough to make disaster preparedness part of my daily life. However, I did find this post from Aetiology
How ready are we, and what can YOU do? which gives some pretty basic advice that I can follow:
. . . wash your hands . . . many of us still don’t do it correctly. It is recommended to wash with soap and running water for at least 20 seconds . . . Teach your children to do this as well: have them count to 20 or sing their ABC’s while washing their hands . . .
If you’re sick, please, please, please stay home. Adults are contagious for ~5 days and children for up to 21 days after becoming sick. Don’t go and expose others when you’re coughing, sneezing and hacking all over the place.
Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth . . . re-train yourself not to cover your mouth with your hands when you cough: use a tissue, or the crook of your arm—-something that won’t come into contact as often with surfaces, or with other people.
Get a flu shot. No, it won’t protect you from “bird” flu, but should that virus spread, it will prevent you from being co-infected with both viruses and passing along any potential recombinant viruses . . .
Get stocked up. You should always have a supply of food, water, medications, and basic household necessities on hand in the event of any kind of disaster . . .

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Great line of the day 

Crawl Across the Ocean writes:
. . . our 'qwerty' keyboard receives it's non-intuitive layout ad part of a scheme to slow typists sown do that they wouldn't overload the typewriters of the say. . . . it occurred to me that - in this era of spell-checkers - if I has been allocates the task of redesigning the keyboard, the best thing to so would be to come up with a layout which minimized the chanced of mid-typing something but still creating a valid word at the dame time. I wouldn't put the 's' and the 'd' beside each other, that id for sure.

Emphadid mine.

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