Friday, October 31, 2008

Late Friday Night Ode To ... Hallow's Eve

Happy Halloween!

(I know I haven't opined in the last couple of days - yet another research grant application to write, folks - but now that I am done (for now at least), I'll be resuming my usual suspicious opining activities sometime tomorrow) ;-)

For tonight's Ode, we have a fun double play rising up to the occasion!

First, we have (who else?) but Ozzy Osbourne - Bark At The Moon:


And for the closer - a live rendition of Iron Maiden - Dance Of Death:


Impolitic? Pogge? Constant Vigilance?

Your move! ;-)

(And anyone else wants to join in Blogging Friday Nights Music Fun? Feel free - the more, the merrier!)

Keep on rockin'!

US Faces International Condemnation In Wake Of Syria Strike

While the White House has declined comment and other US officials defended the strike on a Syrian border town yesterday which killed eight, international condemnation rained down on the strike from a number of sources. The Syrian government, which already summoned the US Charges d’Affaires to complain about a strike which they labeled as “serious aggression,” had further condemnations and a warning today. Foreign Minister Wallid al-Muallem condemned the strike as an act of “criminal and terrorist aggression” and warned that his government “would defend our territories” in the event of a future attack.

The Lebanese government, which has been on shaky terms with Syria, also harshly condemned the move. Prime Minister Fouad Seniora released a statement condemning the attack as “dangerous” and “unacceptable” and “constitutes a violation of Syrian sovereignty.” Foreign Minister Fawzi Salloukh likewise condemned the raid as a violation of international law.

Keep Reading ...

punditman says ... Even Punditman gets a little shell-shocked when he occassionally watches the TV news. It's amazing how far down the road to pimpdom they have gone.

Case in point: the world may condemn a US action, but don't for one second believe that this matters -- at least not within the elite corridors of Big Media. In fact, just tonight, Katie Couric told me on CBS News that the US attacked Syria in order to kill a “smuggler of foreign fighters into Iraq” which apparently they did do (trust them, right!). No mention of anything else. No dead construction workers or anyone else. No violation of sovereignty. No mention of a possible eight civilian deaths. No, it's simply the end of the story. Certainly no comment from Syria is allowed, despite this interesting tidbit over at antiwar.com:

The attack comes as particularly surprising considering the US was reported earlier this month to be mulling lifting sanctions against Syria in light of their indirect peace talks with Israel. Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Moallem had said there was “good progress” in a dialogue aimed at improving US-Syrian relations. Syria has reportedly summoned the US Charges d’Affaires to officially complain about what it calls an attack on its sovereignty.

So, consider this: if you were a news organization that actually cared about giving some context to international events in order to fulfill your mandate to educate, inform and act as government watchdog, or you were, perhaps, merely interested in the intrigue behind an event, you just might offer up some of the above as background.

Alas, we don't live in such a world, as I was so bluntly reminded earlier this evening. No, instead I am to infer from CBS that there is nothing else to this event other than what the US military told us and what the lame-ducked, lying war criminals in the White House who have no business even sitting in office anymore, refuse to talk about.

CBS: you suck!

Canada Needs A Liberal-NDP-Green Coalition

by John Ryan

Canada’s last two elections are proof positive that we have a flawed electoral system. Does it make any sense that it’s impossible to get a government that reflects the views of the majority of our population? How is it that a little more than a third of the electorate can determine who forms Canada’s government?

There is no question that Canada has a dysfunctional political system in which the views of the majority of Canadians cannot be represented by a single political party. Although almost two-thirds of Canada's voters in the last two elections opposed the platform, policies, and philosophy of the Conservative party, it is the Conservatives who have formed the government. The majority vote was split amongst four parties, thereby thwarting the predominant will of the people and making a mockery of democracy. And this may very well continue into the future. If the NDP and the Greens keep getting progressively stronger, it will guarantee a split vote, resulting in an unending series of Conservative governments. Moreover, if Gilles Duceppe should retire it would weaken the Bloc Quebecois and we would then get majority Conservative governments.

So what do we do? How do we get out of a system that seems to ensure an unending regime of Conservative governments – governments that do not have the support of the bulk of our population? In the best interests of Canada, it's up to progressive-minded citizens to urge the Liberals, the NDP, and the Greens to form a coalition. It will then be up to these parties to act responsibly, to set aside narrow partisan politics, and to establish a formal coalition. It's only then that the majority of Canadians would be in a position to vote for a political entity that would reflect their views, values, and interests.

Keep Reading ...

punditman says ... I couldn't agree more, although I don't what the chances of it happening are. Better still, why not Proportional Representation?

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Food, And A Penny, For Your Thoughts?

That's right - yet more on the global economic and food crises, folks:


How the Food and Financial Crises are Interconnected
The Global Meltdown

By Eric Toussaint


In 2007-2008, the biggest international economic and financial crisis since 1929 broke out. Were it not for the massive and concerted intervention of public authorities in coming to the rescue of thieving bankers, the present crisis would already have reached more ample proportions. Here too, the interdependency is striking. Between 31st December 2007 and the 18th October 2008, all the world's stock exchanges fell dramatically, by 30 to 40%, sometimes more, for the stock exchanges of the industrialized countries, 45% for Turkey, Argentina, Brazil and India, 60% for Russia and China[2]. The colossal build-up of private debts, which is entirely created from fictitious capital, has finally exploded in the industrialized countries starting with the United States, the most heavily indebted economy of the planet. Indeed, in 2008, the sum of public and private debt in the United States amounted to 50 000 billion dollars i.e. 350% of GDP. This economic and financial crisis, which has already spread to the entire planet, will affect the developing countries more and more, even those which still believe themselves safe. Capitalist globalisation has not delinked or disconnected economies. On the contrary, countries like China, Brazil, India or Russia have not been able to protect themselves from this crisis, and this is only the beginning.

The food crisis.

In 2007-2008, the standard of living of more than half of the world population dropped dramatically when the price of food soared. There were massive demonstrations in at least fifteen countries in the first half of 2008. Tens of millions of people more than before faced hunger, and hundreds of millions had to reduce their food consumption (and consequently, their access to other essential goods and services[3]).

All of this was the result of decisions made by a handful of companies in the agro-industry and the financial sector (the institutional investors who contribute to doping the prices of agricultural products) with the backup of the US administration and the European Commission[4]. In fact, the percentage of exports in the world production of food remains small. Only a small part of the rice, wheat or corn produced in the world is exported, while by far the greater amount is consumed in the country of production. However, the price on the export market determines the price on the local market. The export market price is fixed in the United States, mainly in three stock exchanges (Chicago, Minneapolis and Kansas City). Consequently, the price of rice, wheat or corn in Timbuctu, Mexico, Nairobi, and Islamabad is directly affected by the evolution of the prices of these cereals on the United States stock markets.

In 2008, under pressure and to avoid being overthrown by the rioting at the four corners of the earth, the authorities in the developing countries had to take measures to guarantee their citizens access to staple foods.

This state of affairs resulted from several decades of governments gradually withdrawing their support from local cereal producers – who are mainly small producers – and following the neoliberal requirements imposed by institutions such as the World Bank and the IMF as part of the Structural Adjustment Programmes and programmes to reduce poverty. In the name of the "fight against poverty" the institutions have convinced governments to carry out policies which have reproduced or even reinforced poverty. Furthermore, during the last few years, many governments have signed bilateral treaties (especially free trade treaties) which made the situation worse. The WTO Doha round of trade negotiations also had dire consequences.

What Happened?


(Keep reading ...)

McGhosts And Ogoblins

On the eve of Hallow's Eve, one article to read with a smile ... and unsettlement:


By Rosemary and Walter Brasch

There are a lot of scary things in this world, but one of the scariest is that Halloween and the Presidential election are only five days apart. It’s hard to miss the parallel between tricks-and-treats and the promises-and-panderings of politicians masquerading as the most caring, most vital, most sincere candidate. While standing behind their lapel flag buttons, they are quick to dress their opponents in something less patriotic.

The Republican right wing wants to dress Barack Obama as a socialist terrorist, putting on him a large black beard, a kufi hat and abaya robe. Instead of handing out candy, these wing nuts have Obama handing out dollar bills, which he stole from hard-working conservative millionaires.

The Right Wing doesn’t say much about Joe Biden, knowing he’s sharper than any of the candidates about foreign affairs, but he does occasionally put a foot in his mouth. Maybe they can dress him as a podiatrist.

The Democrats want to glue John McCain to George W. Bush, and parade them door-to-door as conjoined twins. Assuming that isn’t acceptable to McCain—at least now—maybe the Democrats can dress McCain as a Mission: Impossible tape recorder, knowing at some point he’ll self-destruct.

It shouldn’t be too hard to find a costume for Sarah Palin. During the past two months, the Republicans spent $150,000 on clothes for her and her family, plus at least $23,000 for makeup. After figuring out that the nation is in a Recession, that most Americans don’t even earn $170,000 in three years—and that some outraged Americans found out about her shopping spree—Palin spun out and claimed that the clothes really aren’t hers and will be donated after the election, most probably to starving Republican day traders. For Halloween, and for a truly scary appearance, maybe Mooseburger could remove all the makeup and lipstick her handlers put on her to make salivating middle-aged men believe that outward beauty is an acceptable cover-up to inner vacuousness.


(Keep reading ...)

Human Rights Still Matter, Eh?

Indeed. The following insightful article speaks quite eloquently for itself on the matter:


Human rights still matter
Our politicians have a moral duty to do more than just strive to be elected on the easiest ticket possible.

by Monia Mazigh


I found it troubling to follow the recent federal campaign without hearing a firm and strong interest from any of the party leaders on the issue of human rights.

I understand that economic issues have affected the politics of the debate, but even though the collapse of the US financial markets is a clear concern to many citizens, the dwindling of the leadership role of Canada in human rights, both at home and abroad, is an ongoing worry for all of us.

During the debates, the question of the repatriation of Omar Khadr was left unasked, and Canada has still an ambiguous position with regard to the closing of Guantanamo Bay, despite the importance of the issue.

However, south of the border, both Senator John McCain and Senator Barack Obama have clearly stated that they are in favour of closing the Guantanamo Bay prison camp, which has become an international embarrassment for the Bush administration and for the American people.

Are our politicians afraid to focus on more than one complex issue at a time, despite the fact that we are faced with several? Our needs for human rights and security have not disappeared because of this financial crisis; they remain among the most important issues at stake for Canadians.

The fate of Mr Khadr, the last westerner to be left in Guantanamo, is not the only question that is left unanswered; there is also the problem of the treatment of Afghan prisoners; and what about the hundreds of missing aboriginal women who have disappeared from our streets, never to be heard from again?

These problems are important to Canadians, and certainly important enough to be raised during an election. Is the fact that these issues were left out of the debate a reflection of the disinterest of the population in human rights, or is it a symptom of our political leaders' unhealthy reliance on briefing notes, as evidenced by the carefully repeated and simplistic marketing messages that they regurgitate to us with monotonous precision?


(Keep reading ...)

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Bush Doctrine = International Lawlessness

Following up on the previous post today, and still discussing the U.S. raid in Syria, it looks like I was not far off the grid indeed when I mentionned consequences falling down like dominoes due to the U.S. acting like a rogue nation - to whit:


The End of International Law?
by Robert Dreyfuss


A parallel new Bush doctrine is emerging, in the last days of the soon-to-be-ancien regime, and it needs to be strangled in its crib. Like the original Bush doctrine -- the one that Sarah Palin couldn't name, which called for preventive military action against emerging threats -- this one also casts international law aside by insisting that the United States has an inherent right to cross international borders in "hot pursuit" of anyone it doesn't like.

They're already applying it to Pakistan, and this week Syria was the target. Is Iran next?

Let's take Pakistan first. Though a nominal ally, Pakistan has been the subject of at least nineteen aerial attacks by CIA-controlled drone aircraft, killing scores of Pakistanis and some Afghans in tribal areas controlled by pro-Taliban forces. The New York Times listed, and mapped, all nineteen such attacks in a recent piece describing Predator attacks across the Afghan border, all since August. The Times notes that inside the government, the U.S.Special Operations command and other advocates are pushing for a more aggressive use of such units, including efforts to kidnap and interrogate suspected Taliban and Al Qaeda leaders. Though President Bush signed an order in July allowing U.S. commando teams to move into Pakistan itself, with or without Islamabad's permission, such raids have occurred only once, on September 3.

The U.S. raid into Syria on October 26 similarly trampled on Syria's sovereignty without so much as a fare-thee-well. Though the Pentagon initially denied that the raid involved helicopters and on-the-ground commando presence, that's exactly what happened. The attack reportedly killed Badran Turki Hishan al-Mazidih, an Iraqi facilitator who smuggled foreign fighters into Iraq through Syria. The Washington Post was ecstatic, writing in an editorial:

"If Sunday's raid, which targeted a senior al-Qaeda operative, serves only to put Mr. Assad on notice that the United States, too, is no longer prepared to respect the sovereignty of a criminal regime, it will have been worthwhile."

Is it really that easy? To say: We declare your regime criminal, and so we will attack you anytime we care to? In its news report of the attack into Syria, the Post suggests, in a report by Ann Scott Tyson and Ellen Knickmeyer, that the attack is raising cross-border hot pursuit to the level of a doctrine:

"The military's argument is that 'you can only claim sovereignty if you enforce it,' said Anthony Cordesman, a military analyst at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. 'When you are dealing with states that do not maintain their sovereignty and become a de facto sanctuary, the only way you have to deal with them is this kind of operation,' he said."

The Times broadens the possible targets from Pakistan and Syria to Iran, writing (in a page one story by Eric Schmitt and Thom Shanker):

"Administration officials declined to say whether the emerging application of self-defense could lead to strikes against camps inside Iran that have been used to train Shiite 'special groups' that have fought with the American military and Iraqi security forces."

That, of course, has been a live option, especially since the start of the surge in January, 2007, when President Bush promised to strike at Iranian supply lines in Iraq and other U.S. officials, including Vice President Cheney, pressed hard to attack sites within Iran, regardless of the consequences.



(Keep reading ...)

That Global War On Terror(TM): Why U.S. Raid In Syria Exposes Its Utter Failures

Indeed:


Striking Out in Syria
The US air strike against insurgents in Syria illustrates exactly what is wrong with how states fight terrorism.
by: Lionel Beehner


The US military carried out an aerial attack on Sunday against foreign insurgents holed up in Syria along the Iraqi border, US officials confirmed today. Although details of the operation remain vague, the attack reportedly killed eight civilians and drew condemnation across the Muslim world, from Damascus to Tehran. Similar bombings by US special forces have also been stepped up in recent weeks against al-Qaida and Taliban strongholds in northwest Pakistan.

Are such cross-border strikes wise policy, and should the next US president continue with them? The answer is no. Not only do such strikes violate state sovereignty - which also requires that states control their inhabitants - and end up killing civilians, but they are unproven to work, do nothing to address the socioeconomic conditions that invite terrorism and too often just turn local public opinion against us.

By now it is conventional wisdom that counterinsurgencies are not won by military force but by political means. Yet the bulk of US defence spending continues to go toward military operations, not governance or reconstruction programmes. No wonder much of the Middle East hates us. Its locals must be given security and protection first if their - pardon the cliché - hearts and minds are to be won over, similar to what we achieved in Anbar Province and the Brits achieved in Malaya many years back.

The US strike against Syria is the latest in a series of cross-border attacks against non-state actors and provides an indication of what many wars in the future will resemble. Like Turkey's conflict with the PKK, Colombia's attack against the Farc in Ecuador or Israel's skirmish with Hizbullah, these kinds of conflicts will be fought primarily in the unruly frontiers of countries and entail cross-border incursions by special forces or surgical air strikes, not major ground operations against population centres. These wars will be more limited in scope yet more frequent in number. The circumstances under which they will be fought will be murkier and the casus belli less clear. There will be no victory parades after the cessation of hostilities because it will be difficult to determine the victors (after all, who won the war between Israel and Hizbullah?).

And here's another stubborn truth the next US president must grapple with: The deck is stacked in favour of the non-state actor, not the state. That is because this kind of warfare is not waged over territory or ideology or religion, but is fought over hearts and minds - a public relations battle that cannot be measured in body counts. As the underdog, the non-state actor only has to stand up to Goliath, as it were, and its victory in the mind of the public is virtually sealed. "How war is perceived has as much importance as how it actually is fought," historian Daniel Pipes noted in the New York Sun in 2006. "The Clausewitzian centre of gravity has moved from the battlefield to the op-eds and talking heads."

Hizbullah emerged from its July 2006 war with Israel arguably stronger and more popular among average Lebanese than before. Most Kurds have no love lost for the PKK, which has waged a violent, decades-long campaign for greater Kurdish autonomy against Turkey, but Ankara's heavy-handed response to the PKK has only endeared the PKK to local Kurds. They are now seen as freedom fighters, not terrorists.

Does this kind of strategy limit war to the extent that states can accomplish their military objectives - wiping out terrorism - without losing the war of perception? History, unfortunately, shows it does not. The trouble is these raids are not forceful enough to dislodge the terrorist threat but just heavy-handed enough to turn local sympathies against the state. The outcome is a worst-of-both-worlds scenario: a prolonged conflict with local public opinion decidedly against the aggressor.


(Keep reading ...)

Economic Woes In Canada: Wealth Divide Growing Wider?

Yet another interesting article on the impacts of our current economic woes, especially on the middle class:


Will Crash Pry Canada's Wealth Divide Even Wider?
As rich got richer here, middle class bet big on their houses.

By Crawford Kilian

Are you better off now than you were in 1988? Chances are you're not, according to a new report from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.

The report, titled "Growing Unequal?," says that the income gap has widened in most OECD countries, despite two decades of apparent prosperity.

Canada is one of the most affected countries, along with Germany, Norway and the United States. Related data suggest that B.C. has become one of the most unequal regions in the country.

"The income of the richest 10 per cent of people is, on the average across OECD countries, nearly nine times that of the poorest," the report asserts. The richest Mexicans, however, earn 25 times the income of the poorest Mexicans.

Turkey's top 10 per cent make 17 times the income of the bottom 10 per cent, and the U.S. is close behind with about a 16:1 ratio between the incomes of richest and poorest.

Canada comes in at the OECD average, 8.9:1, between Spain and the UK. Most equal are Sweden and Denmark, with an income ratio of less than 5:1.

You're poor if...

The OECD says you're living in poverty if your income is 50 per cent or less of your country's median income. For Mexico, that means a fifth of all Mexicans -- 22 million -- are poor. Only one Dane in 20 is poor. The U.S. has a poverty rate of 17 per cent, or 51 million. Canada's 11 per cent poverty rate means over 3 million of us are poor.

The report's "Country Note" for Canada is illuminating. Evidently we were becoming richer and more equal from the mid-1970s until the mid-1990s. Then, just about the time that Paul Martin started the age of tight budgets, we started to get poorer and less equal.

"The rich in Canada are particularly rich compared to their counterparts in other countries," the OECD says. "The average income of the richest 10 per cent is US$71,000... which is one third above the OECD average of US$54,000."

Meanwhile poverty has increased for all Canadian age groups for an overall rate of 12 per cent. But only 6 per cent of our seniors are poor, while 15 per cent of our children are.

Don't be a single mother

Inequality of household earnings has risen fast in the last decade, and our increase in single-parent households seems to have been a major factor.

According to York University's Dennis Raphael, B.C. is especially unequal. He cites a 2006 StatsCan survey that showed a fifth of all British Columbians were living in poverty in 2004. Over 23 per cent of our children were poor, and 62 per cent of persons living in female lone-parent families were poor. That makes us Canada's poverty leader.

We may be proud of Canadian social programs, but they're actually below average: "Canada spends less on cash benefits such as unemployment benefits and family benefits than most OECD countries. Partly as a result, taxes and transfers do not reduce inequality by as much as in many other countries. Furthermore," the report adds, "their effect on inequality has been declining over time."


(Keep reading ...)

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

A Torturer's Tale

The following article speaks for itself, clearly showing how ordering servicemen and women to torture not only criminalizes them, but also dehumanizes their victims and themselves in their own minds. In addition, the following testimony exposes the "it was necessary" rationale used to justify torture as the hypocritical, mendacious and deluded self-righteous fallacy that it truly is in order to excuse savagery and barbarism:


The Torturer's Tale
Tony Lagouranis was trained by the US Army to torture Iraqis. This is why he stopped

By Jolyon Jenkins


Tony Lagouranis never expected to become a torturer. He didn't even really want to be a soldier. But at 30, he was bored and broke. He had a facility with languages, fancied learning Arabic, and figured the US army would teach him for free and help him clear his student debts. When he started his training, the Twin Towers were still intact and no one expected the US to go to war in Iraq.

Even when Lagouranis chose to specialise as an interrogator, his army instructors implied that the Iraqis he questioned would be friendly and co-operative. "The last experience we had had with interrogation in the military was in the first Gulf war, when most of the prisoners were completely willing. They said: ask them a question and they'll tell you what you wanted to know."

But by the time he arrived in Iraq, the army knew better. Vast numbers of suspects were being rounded up, and they weren't talking. His superiors at the detention facility where he worked in Mosul gave him a list of authorised interrogation tactics - some might say, torture tactics.

‘It said explicitly that the interrogator needed the freedom to be creative... So basically there were no limits’

"It listed things like the use of dogs, dietary manipulation, using sleep deprivation, stress positions and 'environmental manipulation'," said Lagouranis. "We took that to mean that we could induce hypothermia, we could keep them in a hot shipping container, in the sun, for days at a time, we can use loud music and strobe lights and things like that. And it was also an open-ended document. It said explicitly that the interrogator needed the freedom to be creative. It said these are only suggestions of what you can do. So basically there were no limits."

Lagouranis saw people crippled through prolonged use of the stress positions he forced them to adopt, and driven to the verge of insanity through weeks of sleep deprivation and psychological disorientation. But maybe it was worth it if it produced valuable intelligence in the fight against the insurgency? No, he says. As a method of getting intelligence it was useless. And besides, the aim of interrogations shifted subtly. "A lot of what we ended up doing was trying to gather confessions, not intelligence. I think that the commanders wanted to show that they were doing a good job and were picking up guilty people. But in fact we were just rounding up whoever was on the street. They just wanted us to force people to confess so that they could brief their commanders and say that they had captured all the terrorists."


(Keep reading ...)

Obama Conspiracies - Right Wingnut Style

Go read Jon Swift's Great Moments In Election-year Blogging (h/t), which is a round-up of the coverage of the most "significant" and "impressive" (wingnut) conservative Barack Obama smears and conspiracies brought forth during these current U.S. elections. Not surprisingly, such (insane) "citizen reporting" has been published/propagated through popular/high traffic right-wing blogs and magazines.

Once you are done laughing your asses off, as I have, be warned of an immediately induced cold, sobering reminder that yes - there are a lot of people like this out there.

Scary what intellectual sloth-driven incompetence can do, no?

George Packer offers an interesting angle (emphasis added):
Wading for a few minutes through the sewage of these Web sites reminds me uncannily of the time I’ve spent having political discussions in certain living rooms and coffee shops in Baghdad. The mental atmosphere is exactly the same—the wild fantasies presented as obvious truth, the patterns seen by those few with the courage and wisdom to see, the amused pity for anyone weak-minded enough to be skeptical, the logic that turns counter-evidence into evidence and every random piece of information into a worldwide conspiracy. Above all, the seething resentment, the mix of arrogance and impotent rage that burns at the heart of the paranoid style in politics.

The problem isn’t lack of education—it’s that of a self-isolating political subculture gone rancid. I heard an Iraqi engineer claim that American soldiers allowed Kuwaitis to steal hundreds of Iraqi cars as revenge for the first Gulf War. I heard a Shiite cleric argue that the Kerry campaign was behind suicide bombings. Bloggers like Andrew McCarthy, a former federal prosecutor who peddled the Ayers theory, and Ann Althouse, a law professor who pushed the plastic-device story, hold diametrically opposed views to those of Islamists and Arab nationalists. But their habits of mind are just the same.

It will only get worse if Obama wins.
Glenn Greenwald adds a very à propos caveat to Packer's observations (emphasis added):
The New Yorker's George Packer reviewed the above-linked Jon Swift piece on the deranged, year-long election ramblings of leading right-wing blogs, including National Review -- what Packer calls "the sewage of these Web sites" -- and compares it to the most paranoid and reality-detached fever swamps of radical Islam. The difference, though, is that the mentality of the former has been guiding the world's sole superpower for the last eight years, while the mentality of the latter has not.

Speaking of that mentality, here is Sarah Palin yesterday -- in the very same speech where she urged more federal spending for research into the causes of autism -- railing against earmarks for supposedly frivolous, wasteful projects such as "fruit fly research in Paris, France," an example, she claimed, of "political pet projects" which "have little or nothing to do with the public good".
Which, in turn, brings me back to this previous post of mine about primitive-mind thinking ...

...And The U.S. Arrogance And Incompetence Are Now Nauseating

Incredible (empasis added):


U.S. troops in helicopters flew four miles into Syrian territory over the weekend to target the leader of a network that channels foreign fighters from Syria into Iraq, killing or wounding him and shooting dead several armed men, U.S. officials said Monday.

(...) But officials said the raid Sunday, apparently the first acknowledged instance of U.S. ground forces operating in Syria, was intended to send a warning to the Syrian government. "You have to clean up the global threat that is in your back yard, and if you won't do that, we are left with no choice but to take these matters into our hands," said a senior U.S. official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the cross-border strike.
I've always thought that "warnings" were meant to be verbal or written notices given beforehand - i.e. "cease and desist or consequences will ensue".

Let's verify, then:
Main Entry: warn·ing
Pronunciation: \ˈwȯr-niŋ\
Function: noun

1: the act of warning : the state of being warned
2: something that warns or serves to warn ; especially : a notice or bulletin that alerts the public to an imminent hazard (as a tornado, thunderstorm, or flood)

Or

Function: adjective
Date:1511

: serving as an alarm, signal, summons, or admonition (a warning bell) (a warning shot)

And:

Main Entry: warn
Pronunciation: \ˈwȯrn\
Function: verb
Etymology: Middle English, from Old English warnian; akin to Old High German warnōn to take heed, Old English wær careful, aware — more at wary
Date: before 12th century

transitive verb
a: to give notice to beforehand especially of danger or evil
b: to give admonishing advice to : counsel
c: to call to one's attention : inform: to order to go or stay away —often used with offintransitive verb: to give a warning
Looks like the Bush administration is so incompetent, it doesn't even have a firm grasp of the English language ...

I reiterate: rogue nation, anyone?

Cellucci The Clown Strikes Back

Bushie former U.S. ambassador to Canada Paul Cellucci, a republican and McCain supporter from the get-go, has opened his mouth in order to swiftly insert his foot in it - once again:


Obama win a 'danger' to Canada, Cellucci says

A Barack Obama presidency would present a "danger" to Canada because he could renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement, imperiling the future economic integration of the continent, former U.S. ambassador to Canada Paul Cellucci said yesterday.

Mr. Cellucci, a Republican, engaged in an overt piece of partisan politicking on Canadian soil eight days before the U.S. presidential election, telling an audience in Ottawa that the Democratic senator would face "pressure" to renegotiate NAFTA after indicating a willingness to do so during the hotly contested Ohio primary.

"The reason I say it's a little bit of a danger for Canada is because if the polls are right -- and I hope that they're not -- but if they're right, we could have Barack Obama as president of the United States with over, maybe 60 United States senators in the Democratic column and a pretty strong majority in the House of Representatives."

"You're going to have basically one-party government in the United States," Mr. Cellucci said in the keynote address to the Canadian Defence and Foreign Affairs Institute annual meeting.
(shades of NAFTA-gate, anyone?)

So, the republicans are now directly exporting their fearmongering to Canada - most likely attempting to whip up a frenzy among those of "the right" in our country.

Funny thing is - why should Canadians take any stock in what this clown says to us?

I mean - remember this?
Canada's decision not to support the U.S.-led war in Iraq has left plenty of Americans "upset and disappointed." That was the message the U.S. ambassador to Canada delivered today in a speech to business leaders.

"So many people in the United States are so disappointed that Canada is not fully supporting us now," said Paul Cellucci, the U.S. ambassador to Canada. "And that is why so many people in the United States are so disappointed that Canada is not fully supporting us now."

He said if the roles were reversed, the U.S. would back Canada without question.

"There is no security threat to Canada that the United States would not be ready, willing and able to help with," Cellucci told a breakfast meeting at the Toronto Economic Club.

(...) Cellucci had added that Canada's close ties to the U.S. have been called into question recently due to the war. For economic reasons, "it's important we keep working together."

When asked whether the U.S. would punish Canada through trade agreements, Cellucci replied: "It's not in our economic interests to do that," but added, "we'll have to wait and see if there are any ramifications."
He voiced such criticisms more than once at that (another instance here).

Do you also remember this other bit of fearmongering?
Canadian cities face terrorist threat: Cellucci

Montreal, Toronto or Windsor could be the target of terrorist attacks, U.S. Ambassador Paul Cellucci warned.

The train bombs in Madrid that killed 201 people are a reminder that "no one is immune from these attacks and everyone should be vigilant and stand on guard," Cellucci said in a speech to the University of Western Ontario on Wednesday.

Cellucci said attacks against American cities could have fatal consequences on Canadian cities near the border.

Cellucci said the U.S needs a strong Canadian military to help defend North America.

"We are doing everything in our power to prevent the next attack. We cannot defend ourselves without Canada's help."
Or this other instance?
Canada's decision not to join Washington's ballistic missile defence program hasn't produced diplomatic shockwaves, but has set off ripples of irritation and disbelief south of the border.

U.S. ambassador to Canada said he's perplexed by the decision, which he says allows the U.S. to decide what happens if a missile is heading toward Canada.

"I personally don't think it's in Canada's sovereign interest to be outside of the room when a decision is made about a missile that might be incoming towards Canada," said Paul Cellucci.
Of course, Cellucci has had lots of "suggestions" for us Canadians - such as this one:
Canada short on troops, transportation ability: U.S. ambassador

Canada's role in future international military operations could be at risk unless Ottawa increases defence spending, says the U.S. ambassador to Canada.

Speaking at a business conference in Banff on Thursday, Paul Cellucci praised Canada's military record. The United States respects Canadian troops, he said.

But he says there could be negative consequences unless more money is spent on the armed forces.

"Despite the huge military capability of the United States, we cannot do it alone. That's the point we're making. We need allies and we need our allies to put the resources in as well," said Cellucci.

He says countries need sufficient troops and the ability to transport them and their equipment to military zones.

Canada is short on both troops and transportation abilities, said Cellucci.
Suggestion which was dutifully followed by Harper and his Harpies.

I can't help but think that Cellucci is now mouthing off about Obama in Canada so that Harper and his Harpies do not have to get their hands dirty this time around ...

Regardless, I say to Mr. Cellucci: bugger off, eh?

Sarah Stillson Palin And Her War On Science

I opined about this previously - but the following article about Sarah Stillson Palin is of interest, if only because of the author (yes - that one) of said article (link to author info added):


Sarah Palin's War on Science
The GOP ticket's appalling contempt for knowledge and learning.

By Christopher Hitchens


In an election that has been fought on an astoundingly low cultural and intellectual level, with both candidates pretending that tax cuts can go like peaches and cream with the staggering new levels of federal deficit, and paltry charges being traded in petty ways, and with Joe the Plumber becoming the emblematic stupidity of the campaign, it didn't seem possible that things could go any lower or get any dumber. But they did last Friday, when, at a speech in Pittsburgh, Gov. Sarah Palin denounced wasteful expenditure on fruit-fly research, adding for good xenophobic and anti-elitist measure that some of this research took place "in Paris, France" and winding up with a folksy "I kid you not."

It was in 1933 that Thomas Hunt Morgan won a Nobel Prize for showing that genes are passed on by way of chromosomes. The experimental creature that he employed in the making of this great discovery was the Drosophila melanogaster, or fruit fly. Scientists of various sorts continue to find it a very useful resource, since it can be easily and plentifully "cultured" in a laboratory, has a very short generation time, and displays a great variety of mutation. This makes it useful in studying disease, and since Gov. Palin was in Pittsburgh to talk about her signature "issue" of disability and special needs, she might even have had some researcher tell her that there is a Drosophila-based center for research into autism at the University of North Carolina. The fruit fly can also be a menace to American agriculture, so any financing of research into its habits and mutations is money well-spent. It's especially ridiculous and unfortunate that the governor chose to make such a fool of herself in Pittsburgh, a great city that remade itself after the decline of coal and steel into a center of high-tech medical research.

In this case, it could be argued, Palin was not just being a fool in her own right but was following a demagogic lead set by the man who appointed her as his running mate. Sen. John McCain has made repeated use of an anti-waste and anti-pork ad (several times repeated and elaborated in his increasingly witless speeches) in which the expenditure of $3 million to study the DNA of grizzly bears in Montana was derided as "unbelievable." As an excellent article in the Feb. 8, 2008, Scientific American pointed out, there is no way to enforce the Endangered Species Act without getting some sort of estimate of numbers, and the best way of tracking and tracing the elusive grizzly is by setting up barbed-wire hair-snagging stations that painlessly take samples from the bears as they lumber by and then running the DNA samples through a laboratory. The cost is almost trivial compared with the importance of understanding this species, and I dare say the project will yield results in the measurement of other animal populations as well, but all McCain could do was be flippant and say that he wondered whether it was a "paternity" or "criminal" issue that the Fish and Wildlife Service was investigating. (Perhaps those really are the only things that he associates in his mind with DNA.)

With Palin, however, the contempt for science may be something a little more sinister than the bluff, empty-headed plain-man's philistinism of McCain.


(Keep reading ...)

Monday, October 27, 2008

Canada: The Shape Of Things To Come?

According to the title of the following article, I would hope not:


Recession and a Conservative dynasty loom
Fragmented future of Canadian politics and the real-world crises ordinary Canadians will face call for new thinking.

by Ish Theilheimer


The corner of the world I call home offers a telling snapshot of how a global economic crisis works. The complicated calamity is really fairly easy to understand. Businesses and consumers around the world inflated the prices of real estate, energy and all commodities by throwing around money that wasn't theirs.

Now the house of cards has fallen down. And the pain is starting.

The biggest industry in my home riding of Renfrew-Nipissing-Pembroke, which voted 60 percent Conservative on October 14, is the military. The second biggest — and by far the oldest — is forestry. Because the big timber of the past is long gone, all local sawmills depend on the sales of wood residue such as sawdust and chips to survive. Even in good times, they can't make a living on the lumber they produce.

Last week, all the local pulp mills and fibre board processors — the end users of sawdust and chips from local sawmills — shut down indefinitely due to market uncertainty. No one is going to build a house anywhere when the market is flooded with foreclosures and properties on sale for half what desperate, panicking families paid for them.

The huge processors of chips and sawdust are all owned by American-based corporations, which, in turn, could be owned by investors from anywhere. Until a couple of decades ago, many of these operations would all have been locally-owned or, at least, Canadian-based. Now it's different.

One of these huge plants, built with an estimated $50 million in government grants, was purchased by a multinational corporation, stripped of its key machinery, and shut down. The company, it is said by local business people, had an excess of inventory and did not want competition with its American plants.

The upshot of all this is that many sawmills across Renfrew County, already teetering on the edge of viability, will soon be shutting down. Hundreds of people will be thrown out of work. They won't pay taxes or buy very much locally, which will put a pinch on government revenues, the local market economy and the bigger economy, which depends so badly on consumers who feel free to flex their plastic.

The upshot of all Wall Street's maneuvering, asset-flipping and speculation will be widespread misery, here in the Ottawa Valley and far beyond.

Of course the local situation is hardly unique. The cancer has been spreading through Canada's resource and industrial communities for years. Now, with world oil prices almost half what they were two months ago, the pain may well spread to the oil-based boom economies of western Canada.

South of the border, US President George W Bush has become a laughing stock or, as our contributing artist Jim Kempkes suggests in this week's editorial cartoon, potentially a kitsch lawn ornament. On this side of the border, it took the province of Quebec and its "separatist" regional party, the Bloc Québécois, to save Canada from a majority government run by W's last remaining fan, Stephen Harper.

Linda McQuaig tells us Americans are turning against the greed and the obscene excesses of an economy that rewards speculators, asset-flippers and con-artists, but doesn't give a rat's ass about ordinary people and their communities. Perhaps Canadians will too, once enough of their homes and jobs vanish, but our quirky politics have just installed one of laissez-faire capitalism's last true believers.

The complexion of our politics is sobering.


(Keep reading ...)

U.S. Shameful Attack In Syria: Video Report

A US official has confirmed that Special Forces carried out a raid inside Syrian territory on Sunday, presumably targeting fighters staging attacks in Iraq.

Syria (who is understandably not amused) said the soldiers attacked a house in a farming area near the town of Abu Kamal, about 8km inside the border with Iraq.

Two men are presumed to have been captured by U.S. Special Forces and brought back to Iraq (care to guess what awaits them?)

Al Jazeera's Tom Ackerman reports:


(h/t)

On a related note:
Suspected U.S. strike kills up to 20 in Pakistan

A suspected U.S. missile strike killed up to 20 people in northwestern Pakistan on Monday, officials said, the latest salvo in an intensifying assault on militant hideouts near the Afghan border.

The reported strike occurred in the South Waziristan region, part of Pakistan's wild border zone that is considered a possible hiding place for Osama bin Laden and al-Qaeda No. 2 Ayman al-Zawahri.
Allow me to reiterate:
(...) this arrogant and dangerous Bush Doctrine to attack any time, anywhere in any soverign country (Pakistan being another recent example) in the name of the ludicrous Global War on Terror(TM) has to be relegated to the hash heap of incompetence and history.

This is criminal (check the U.N. charter, if you will) and must be disavowed by the American people once and for all.

I wonder how the U.S. would feel if other countries would do the same to them?

(...) This is the convenient reasoning of rogue nations (emphasis added):
A U.S. military official said the raid by special forces targeted the foreign fighter network that travels through Syria into Iraq. The Americans have been unable to shut the network down in the area because Syria was out of the military's reach.

"We are taking matters into our own hands," the official told The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because of the political sensitivity of cross-border raids.
Indeed - the same kind of reasoning by any incompetent, by every criminal - "take what you want when you want, who cares what others think?"

That is the Bush Doctrine for you.

Did I say "rogue nation"?

Yeah - I thought I did ...
'Nuff said.

Behold The Results Of Canada's War

Afghanistan - Canada's war, a veritable FUBAR, all for absolutely nothing. Here's definite proof:


Taliban rule returning to Kandahar province

They mete out justice in their own courts, ban schools and even organize large religious gatherings, like one that drew thousands of people just outside Kandahar city recently.

As Canadian Forces continue to fight and die throughout Kandahar province, the Taliban have quietly set up parallel governments only kilo-metres away from the provincial capital, local residents say.

Large swaths of the province for which Canada is responsible have fallen under the control of the insurgents, they said, and out of the grasp of a national government villagers consider corrupt and weak.
No wonder defections are a major problem in Afghan forces.

No wonder that violence in Afghanistan is worse than ever.

Just ask these guys and these ones.

No wonder the Afghan war is not only unwinnable, but has already been lost - whether there is a "surge" or not.

Everything so far has been falling short.

And the Afghanis apparently approve.

Hence, it was no surprise at all when Kabul Mayor Afghan President Karzai reiterated recently his (desperate) offer to the Taliban of playing a significant role in the Afghan government.

Conclusion: I told you so.

Any questions?

Sarah Stillson Palin The Demagogue - In Action

Here's Sarah Stillson Palin in full, deliberate and calculated demagogue mode:


Palin hit the trail in Iowa last week and took her criticism of Barack Obama's tax policy to a whole new level. While the standard criticism thus far of Obama's plan is that it's a "job-killer" or even vaguely "socialist", Palin made abundantly clear on the stump that she thinks it's much, much worse than that. As Palin describes it, Obama's plan is downright communist (everything you own would "collectively belong to everybody") and would lead to what HuffPo's Sam Stein calls a "nightmare communist state."

"See, under a big government, more tax agenda, what you thought was yours would really start belonging to somebody else, to everybody else. If you thought your income, your property, your inventory, your investments were, were yours, they would really collectively belong to everybody. Obama, Barack Obama has an ideological commitment to higher taxes, and I say this based on his record... Higher taxes, more government, misusing the power to tax leads to government moving into the role of some believing that government then has to take care of us. And government kind of moving into the role as the other half of our family, making decisions for us. Now, they do this in other countries where the people are not free. Let us fight for what is right. John McCain and I, we will put our trust in you."

I think I need not comment further ...

... And Here We Go Again!

Canadian federal elections over and done with?

I guess now's a good a time as any to have a Québec provincial election, non?

Personally, I see no reason for this now. This could have easily waited until February or March - instead of the rumored December 8 date.

Perhaps Prime Minister Charest is all-too-eager to capitalize on the recent defections of two ADQ MNA's to the LPQ side? And/or the recent loss of face of the CPC in Québec, thus signifying less seats for the more to-the-right ADQ overall?

In the meantime:
Quebec opposition parties push sovereignty issue

Under the cloud of an economic crisis and likely fall election, politics in Quebec has turned once again to the question of sovereignty.

Both provincial opposition parties — the Action Démocratique du Québec and Parti Québécois — held separate conferences over the weekend in which sovereignty figured prominently.

ADQ Leader Mario Dumont was on the defensive, with his party slumping in the polls and rival parties openly fishing for disgruntled ADQ legislative members.

Dumont is still dealing with the stunning defection of two ADQ assembly members last week — André Riedl and Pierre Michel Auger — who crossed the floor to join the Liberals.

In the midst of uncertainty about his leadership, Dumont reaffirmed the ADQ's autonomist demands for Quebec, and called for new constitutional talks with Ottawa, including official recognition of the Quebec nation within the Canadian Constitution, contingent on provincial and territorial support. He also stressed the ADQ's desire to see Quebec gain its own constitution.

"We spring forward with a united team and a solid platform," he told supporters on Sunday.

PQ Leader Pauline Marois launched a "sovereignty manifesto" on the weekend that spells out the party's long-standing commitment to and justification for Quebec's independence.

The two-page manifesto — essentially an overview of the PQ's political philosophy since its inception 40 years ago — will serve as a dialectical tool for herself and party members, Marois said. She is planning a provincewide tour to sell the idea of sovereignty to Quebecers, starting with young people in colleges and universities.

"We will accomplish the project we've been building for 40 years — that of making Quebec a sovereign nation," she said.

The PQ launched the new platform on Quebec sovereignty on Saturday, reaffirming the importance of protecting Quebec's language and culture and of increasing the province's economic autonomy and international profile.
Oh, swell.

What a great idea.

Obviously, the PQ (and even the ADQ) are counting on the BQ's recent performance in the Federal election to act as some sort of pro-sovereignist wave of interest among Québecois.

I suspect they are flatly wrong on this - the BQ's successes were owed more to a loss of face of the CPC and a failure of the LPC to convince us that they were worth our votes.

In any case - here we go again ...

U.S.A.: How Things Are And What The Future May Hold

The following is a very interesting take on the current elections in the U.S. - of course, I thought I'd pass it along to you good folks:


Who will write the United States' next great poem?
by Bernadette L. Wagner


I watched a couple of YouTube videos the other night. One featured angry Palin supporters on their way into a Palin rally. The other was an interview with McCarthyesque Michelle Bachmann, a Republican senator calling for "liberals" to be investigated for anti-Americanism. Ugly. I quickly clicked on to a photo of the 100,000 supporters at an Obama rally in Missouri.

And then I cried. The juxtaposition was too much.

Some say Obama's followers are cult-like, cheerleaders for a good sales pitch. I don't think so. One hundred thousand people do not show up to a political rally for a sales pitch or cheerleading duty. Obama touches something deeper within than any salesperson could ever hope to reach. He reflects to the American people a sense of their own power and they respond with a willingness to write a new narrative, a new poem, for their country.

In declaring his support for Obama, Republican Colin Powell called him "transformative." Obama is definitely transforming the face of American politics, the poem for which much of America has dug deeply into its psyche to uncover. Sadly, Hillary Clinton would not have accomplished this. Misogyny lies still deeper within.

Racism is bubbling up, however. Many fear for Obama's life. Will there be a fair election in the U.S.?

Republicans believe they're doing a fine job. On their own terms, they are. But those terms are based on moving the country further to the right. That they have done. It is as far right as it can be without becoming a closed society. And, on paper, they are ready to make the move. American feminist Naomi Wolf, said, "The coup has already taken place.” It just needs to be activated.

Suggestions that the Republicans are throwing this election seem unfounded. Losing might be a default plan, but they're not throwing anything away. Robert Kennedy, Jr. and Greg Palast document how the right is trying to steal this election in the latest issue of Rolling Stone.

The influential neo-con William Kristol discovered Palin and introduced her to the Republican inner circle, apparently selling her as a "blank page." An employee of the neo-conservative think-tank The American Enterprise Institute said, "She's bright...She's going places."

Wolf suggests Palin's the cult figure, similar to Evita. The neo-cons know McCain isn't going anywhere. But he's not their choice. Palin is. The Rove/Cheney cabal are grooming her to be ready to take over in less than a heartbeat. Her neo-conservative advisers, not the American people, would then write the poem.



(Keep reading ...)

US Helicopters, Commandos Attack Syrian Border Town Killing Nine

In a report from local witnesses later confirmed by a Syrian government spokesman, Two US helicopters landed in the Syrian border town of Al-Sukkariya while others remained in the air and eight American soldiers exited. The soldiers killed at least nine people in the attack, and wounded 14 others before reboarding the helicopters and returning to Iraqi territory.

The US military has yet to officially confirm the strike, which would be the first US strike on Syrian soil, and MSNBC reports that they were told there has been no comment and “there will be no comment.” Israel’s Channel 10 reports that unnamed western defense officials told them that the troops were carrying out a military operation against “al-Qaeda activists” in Syria. Witnesses say those killed were construction workers.

It has been speculated that the attack might be related to US military operations in the area, but there really haven’t been any. Major General John Kelly described security incidents in that area of Iraq as “almost meaningless now” and was reportedly optimistic about cutting troops in the area.

Keep Reading ...

punditman says ... It will be interesting to see how this story plays out. What will Syria have to say?

Update: there's been a reaction. Buried have way down the biased page, of course. Imagine if the shoe was on the other foot. Syrian commandos storm into Texas to knock of some extremists and accidentally kill a bunch of construction workers and their kids. Oh wait, we're not allowed to think of things that way.


(Mentarch, here: October surprise, anyone?)

Sunday, October 26, 2008

APOV's Weekly Revue (10/26/2008)

If it's Sunday and you are thinking that it is time for Teh Weekly Revue - then you would be quite right, folks!

It has been a big week news-wise, so today's Revue is likewise a big one - please adjust your seat-belts before we take off.

So here we go:


Oh, Canada!
Harper and his Harpies were a mere week before election day as they presented us their electoral platform - which now turns out to be almost completely broken/disavowed already by themselves after being re-elected, as 900ft Jesus @ In the House and Senate superbly demonstrates in a series of posts titled "Breaking platform promises: the series" (parts I, II, III and IV - so far). In between, pale @ ACR exposes what cruel conservatism is all bout, while Dr. Dawg @ Dawg's Blawg informs us about Canadian asbestos and what it has been doing lately (most of it bad). It would seem that the dispirited, cynical congratulations of Dana @ The Galloping Beaver to Harper are being justified, eh?

Meanwhile, Chuckman @ Chuckman's Other Choice of Words dissects down a propaganda book about how the war in Afghanistan has saved Afghans, and Dr. Dawg (again) waxes cynically about "democracy" in Afghanistan - demonstrating yet again that this pointless political exercize/FUBAR 9-11 vengeance operation was for absolutely nothing (as yours truly usually puts it). And speaking of the Global War on Terror(TM) ... blueness @ NION tells us the ugly story of how three Arab-Canadian men were sacrificed to show the U.S. that Canada was "doing something", which in turn inspired matttbastard @ bastard.logic to discuss why the tragic and shameful roles of Canadian officials in the torture of these three men constitute more cobblestones on the road to Hell, and prompted pogge @ POGG.E to decry (rightly) the "Nuremberg defense" invoked by said Canadian officials and the mindboggling acceptance of such a ludicrous defense. In between, Dark Daughta @ The Peace Tree exposes more shocking abuse of power from Canadian security agencies and their blatant lies to cover themselves.

(When I say that we are marching towards authoritarianism, a veritable security state, and that we are losing ourselves beyond redemption in the process, I certainly don't mean all of this just for Americans, folks. But I disgress ...)


Oh, U.S.A.!
The McCain-Palin campaign continues to disintegrate from without and from within. Kyle E. Moore @ Comments From Left Field discusses the so-called "principles" of John McCain, Jimmy Crackcorn @ DKos has an hilarious (but quite à propos) photographic essay establishing the "proof" that the endorsement of Barack Obama by Colin Powell is about race; emptywheel @ Emptywheel tells us the tale of "When mavericks clash", digby @ Hullabaloo exposes the divas on parade, JollyRoger @ Reconstitution explains how the "wingtards done lost it", greg @ DTK illustrates how racism - as displayed by the Palinmaniacs - is a lot like religion, Daniel DiRito @ Bring It On! is waiting for the finale of the McCain-Palin melodrama, and BooMan @ Booman Tribune concludes that the republicans/G.O.P./McCain-Palin campaign simply failed to adapt to the times. On a related note, The Station Agent @ Les Enragés/The Unruly Mob shows us why there won't be enough Katherine Harrises to steal this election for McCain-Palin, whereas Jeff Huber @ Pen and Sword is writing a superb series on "Johnny (McCain) and the warmongers" (parts I, II and III - so far).

Meanwhile, the U.S. ship keeps on sinking slowly. Dr. Prole @ ACR has an hilarious video essay on "8 years later- whassup?", Anderson @ Shockfront tells us how the Bush administration swells the wave of lawlessness, Impolitic @ Impolitical explains what is the one more big gift of Bush to his successor, while Tom Harper @ Who Hijacked Our Country waxes cynical about Bush being "shocked" by World hostility toward America. In between, The Mound of Sound @ Rolling Back The Tide Of Extremism, One Post At A Time exposes carpetbagging on the public dime, which is what it looks like the bank bailouts are all about, whereas BJ @ Newshoggers informs us of the coming battles for on-line freedom.

Now on to the Global War on Terror(TM) again ... Chris Floyd @ Empire Burlesque waxes cynically on how Iraq after the surge is a Hell of a success, Glenn Greenwald @ Salon discusses more alarming threats of war against Iran, and Valtin @ Invictus exposes Unit 731 and its purpose in biological warfare and human medical experimentation.

Through it all, Boris @ The Galloping Beaver was inspired to write about the near future in his piece titled "Dystopia".


Oh, Humanity!
April Reign @ April Reign explains the hows and whys is it that anti-choice = anti-truth, whereas Saskboy @ Abandoned Stuff tells us more about "Inherit the Earth".



Thus on this note ends the Weekly Revue on this Sunday October 26th, 2008.

Here's That "October Surprise"

(Updated below) (Update II)

This just in:


Reports: U.S. helicopters raid Syrian village
Residents, TV report two helicopters carrying U.S. soldiers kill seven people


U.S. military helicopters attacked an area along the country's border with Iraq, causing casualties, Syria's state-run television and witnesses said Sunday.

The TV report quoted unnamed Syrian officials and said the area is near the Syrian border town of Abu Kamal. It gave no other details on Sunday's attack.

Local residents told The Associated Press by telephone that two helicopters carrying U.S. soldiers raided the village of Hwijeh, 10 miles inside Syria's border, killing seven people and wounding five.

The U.S. military in Baghdad had no immediate comment.
Indeed.

Now, let us see how this "new crisis" (i.e. actually sought after) will be exploited by McCain-Palin through yet more fearmongering and the all-purpose need for "Security" to sway the electorate - thanks to the helping hand of the incompetent Bush-Cheney et al. still in office ...

In any case - this arrogant and dangerous Bush Doctrine to attack any time, anywhere in any soverign country (Pakistan being another recent example) in the name of the ludicrous Global War on Terror(TM) has to be relegated to the hash heap of incompetence and history.

This is criminal (check the U.N. charter, if you will) and must be disavowed by the American people once and for all.

I wonder how the U.S. would feel if other countries would do the same to them?


Update: from the same article linked to - we now have emerging details:
The Syrian report comes just days after the commander of U.S. forces in western Iraq told reporters that American troops were redoubling efforts to secure the Syrian border, which he said was an "uncontrolled" gateway for fighters entering Iraq.

A government statement carried by the official Syrian Arab News Agency said Sunday's attack was on the Sukkariyeh Farm near the town of Abu Kamal, five miles inside the Syrian border. Four helicopters attacked a civilian building under construction, firing on the workers inside, shortly before sundown, the statement said.

The U.S. military in Baghdad did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The area is near the Iraqi border city of Qaim, which had been a major crossing point for fighters, weapons and money coming into Iraq to fuel the Sunni insurgency.

Iraqi insurgents seized Qaim in April 2005, forcing U.S. Marines to recapture the town the following month in heavy fighting. The area became secure only after Sunni tribes in Anbar turned against al-Qaida in late 2006 and joined forces with the Americans.

On Thursday, U.S. Maj. Gen. John Kelly said Iraq's western borders with Saudi Arabia and Jordan were fairly tight as a result of good policing by security forces in those countries but that Syria was a "different story."

"The Syrian side is, I guess, uncontrolled by their side," Kelly said. "We still have a certain level of foreign fighter movement."

He added that the U.S. was helping construct a sand berm and ditches along the border.

"There hasn't been much, in the way of a physical barrier, along that border for years," Kelly said.
It is still no excuse to unilaterally violate the sovereignty of another country.

Period.



Update II: This is the convenient reasoning of rogue nations (emphasis added):
A U.S. military official said the raid by special forces targeted the foreign fighter network that travels through Syria into Iraq. The Americans have been unable to shut the network down in the area because Syria was out of the military's reach.

"We are taking matters into our own hands," the official told The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because of the political sensitivity of cross-border raids.
Indeed - the same kind of reasoning by any incompetent, by every criminal - "take what you want when you want, who cares what others think?"

That is the Bush Doctrine for you.

Did I say "rogue nation"?

Yeah - I thought I did ...

Now let us all sit back and watch the consequences fall in like dominos.

More than ever - I loathe dangerous incompetents like Bush et al.