Thursday, May 31, 2007

Sudan's Own Tokyo Rose

Denying Genocide in Darfur -- and Americans Their Coca-Cola

By Dana Milbank
Thursday, May 31, 2007; A02

The Iraq war gave us Baghdad Bob, the Iraqi information minister who, while American troops patrolled nearby streets, held a defiant news conference to proclaim that there were no U.S. forces in the city.

Baghdad Bob, whose real name is Mohammed Saeed al-Sahaf, earned a place among the ranks of colorful propagandists such as Hanoi Hannah and Tokyo Rose. Now, the genocidal Sudanese government has an entry in this category. Let's call him Khartoum Karl.

Karl -- a.k.a. John Ukec Lueth Ukec, the Sudanese ambassador to Washington -- held a news conference at the National Press Club yesterday to respond to President Bush's new sanctions against his regime. In his hour-long presentation, he described a situation in his land that bore no relation to reality.

Genocide in the Darfur region? "The United States is the only country saying that what is happening in Darfur is a genocide," Ukec shouted, gesticulating wildly and perspiring from his bald crown. "I think this is a pretext."

Ah. So what about the more than 400,000 dead? "See how many people are dying in Darfur: None," he said.

And the 2 million displaced? "I am not a statistician."

Khartoum Karl went on to say that, all evidence to the contrary, his government does not support the murderous Janjaweed militia. "It cannot happen," he said, "so rule it out." As for the Sudanese regime itself: "We are the agents of peace, people like me, my colleagues who are in the central government of Sudan."

What's more, the good and peaceful leaders of Sudan were prepared to retaliate massively: They would cut off shipments of the emulsifier gum arabic, thereby depriving the world of cola.


Allow me to say this...

Khartoum Karl, bite me.

Americans would rather pay more for soda than finance genocide. We may be soda swilling, burger eating, reality TV watching plebeians but the majority of us would rather drink tea than finance genocide.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

We Now Return to our Regularly Scheduled Blog Post

From the NY Times
Truth, Fiction and Lou Dobbs

The whole controversy involving Lou Dobbs and leprosy started with a “60 Minutes” segment a few weeks ago.

The segment was a profile of Mr. Dobbs, and while doing background research for it, a “60 Minutes” producer came across a 2005 news report from Mr. Dobbs’s CNN program on contagious diseases. In the report, one of Mr. Dobbs’s correspondents said there had been 7,000 cases of leprosy in this country over the previous three years, far more than in the past.

When Lesley Stahl of “60 Minutes” sat down to interview Mr. Dobbs on camera, she mentioned the report and told him that there didn’t seem to be much evidence for it.

“Well, I can tell you this,” he replied. “If we reported it, it’s a fact.”


According to a woman CNN identified as a medical lawyer named Dr. Madeleine Cosman, leprosy was on the march. As Ms. Romans, the CNN correspondent, relayed: “There were about 900 cases of leprosy for 40 years. There have been 7,000 in the past three years.”

“Incredible,” Mr. Dobbs replied.

Mr. Dobbs and Ms. Romans engaged in a nearly identical conversation a few weeks ago, when he was defending himself the night after the “60 Minutes” segment. “Suddenly, in the past three years, America has more than 7,000 cases of leprosy,” she said, again attributing the number to Ms. Cosman.

To sort through all this, I called James L. Krahenbuhl, the director of the National Hansen’s Disease Program, an arm of the federal government. Leprosy in the United States is indeed largely a disease of immigrants who have come from Asia and Latin America. And the official leprosy statistics do show about 7,000 diagnosed cases — but that’s over the last 30 years, not the last three.

The peak year was 1983, when there were 456 cases. After that, reported cases dropped steadily, falling to just 76 in 2000. Last year, there were 137.


Finally, Mr. Dobbs is fond of darkly hinting that this country is under attack. He suggested last week that the new immigration bill in Congress could be the first step toward a new nation — a “North American union” — that combines the United States, Canada and Mexico. On other occasions, his program has described a supposed Mexican plot to reclaim the Southwest. In one such report, one of his correspondents referred to a Utah visit by Vicente Fox, then Mexico’s president, as a “Mexican military incursion.”

When I asked Mr. Dobbs about this yesterday, he said, “You’ve raised this to a level that frankly I find offensive.”


The most common complaint about him, at least from other journalists, is that his program combines factual reporting with editorializing. But I think this misses the point. Americans, as a rule, are smart enough to handle a program that mixes opinion and facts. The problem with Mr. Dobbs is that he mixes opinion and untruths. He is the heir to the nativist tradition that has long used fiction and conspiracy theories as a weapon against the Irish, the Italians, the Chinese, the Jews and, now, the Mexicans.

There is no denying that this country’s immigration system is broken. But it defies belief — and a whole lot of economic research — to suggest that the problems of the middle class stem from illegal immigrants. Those immigrants, remember, are largely non-English speakers without a high school diploma. They have probably hurt the wages of native-born high school dropouts and made everyone else better off.

More to the point, if Mr. Dobbs’s arguments were really so good, don’t you think he would be able to stick to the facts? And if CNN were serious about being “the most trusted name in news,” as it claims to be, don’t you think it would be big enough to issue an actual correction? full article

I've always known that Mr. Dobbs was hyping illegal immigration problems but haven't watched enough episodes of his show to catch him scaremongering. Mainly because after the fourth show I watched I started changing the channel as soon as the words illegal immigration came out of his mouth.

Why is this my third post about irresponsible/untrue reporting in two days? It seems to be a little bit rampant as of late although Lou Dobbs did so a long while ago. But it still shows a bad trend both in the MSM and Blogs. Looks like the disease has jumped mediums.

Mutant Scorpion Invades Sewer System

I had just opened up a blog post and I went to answer the call of nature prior to starting the entry when a scorpion fell from the ceiling fan vent and into the toilet. Needless to say, scorpion go down the hole.

For the record they don't float.

Of Note

I ran across this recent article The Porn Myth which comes to a rather disturbing conclusion..

“For the first time in human history, the images’ power and allure have supplanted that of real naked women. Today, real naked women are just bad porn.”

check it out here

Rice to Tackle Darfur and Iran at G8

From Reuters:
G8 to tackle Iran and Darfur

Foreign ministers from the Group of Eight nations are to gather in Germany to discuss the nuclear standoff with Iran, the unresolved conflict in Sudan's Darfur region and other pressing international issues.
Diplomats said US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is hoping her counterparts from Germany, Britain, France, Italy, Russia, Japan and Canada will agree that the elite club of industrialised nations should put pressure on Iran at next week's summit to suspend its nuclear enrichment programme.

Sudan is another topic on the agenda. The United States and Britain are interested in expanding UN sanctions against Sudan due to the violence in its Darfur region, but Russia is wary such action would do little to calm the situation.

On Darfur, Rice said she would discuss with G8 ministers what action could be taken at the UN Security Council to put pressure on Sudan's government following the US announcement of new unilateral sanctions on Sudan. full article

Of course the real trick will be for the G8 to get Russia and China to support any plan they come up with. While Russia has been helpful with Iran China has stonewalled any attempts at action by the UN Security Council.

Durbin was right?

At least on the Nazi's having used the same torture techniques the administration has approved for detainees.

Courtesy of The Daily Dish:

"Freezing prisoners to near-death, repeated beatings, long forced-standing, waterboarding, cold showers in air-conditioned rooms, stress positions [Arrest mit Verschaerfung], withholding of medicine and leaving wounded or sick prisoners alone in cells for days on end - all these have occurred at US detention camps under the command of president George W. Bush. Over a hundred documented deaths have occurred in these interrogation sessions. The Pentagon itself has conceded homocide by torture in multiple cases."

Oddly enough they also used the same sort of logic about why they tortured them too:

"The victims, by the way, were not in uniform. And the Nazis tried to argue, just as John Yoo did, that this made torturing them legit. The victims were paramilitary Norwegians, operating as an insurgency, against an occupying force. And the torturers had also interrogated some prisoners humanely."

Such acts were found to be war crimes and the perpetrators were sentenced to death. Man, doesn't that just make you proud of your government?

I bet Durbin is still waiting for an apology from that WaPo reporter.

H/T to Damn Hippies

Britain Backs U.S. on Darfur Sanctions

The Associated Press
Wednesday, May 30, 2007; 12:57 PM

LUNGI, Sierra Leone -- Britain supports a U.S. proposal to impose U.N. sanctions against the government of Sudan for its role in Darfur's bloodshed, a spokesman for Tony Blair said Wednesday as the prime minister arrived in Sierra Leone.

President Bush announced Tuesday the United States would draft the U.N. resolution, saying the Sudanese government has been complicit in atrocities against civilians and has been uncooperative with international efforts to end the Darfur crisis.

Britain "fully supports U.S. efforts to address the desperate situation in Darfur in the Security Council," the spokesman said before Blair arrived in Lungi, near Sierra Leone's capital of Freetown.

"We hope that all members of the (U.N. Security Council) will work with the U.S. to create a resolution which will effectively address the challenges in Darfur," he said on condition of anonymity in line with British government policy.

Aides said Blair would try to build support for action to stop Darfur's violence during his tour of Africa, which began in Libya and ends later this week in South Africa. more

To stay up to date on the crisis in Darfur please visit The Coalition for Darfur

And then the blogosphere exploded

with news that Fred Thompson was finally going to run for president. Only to find out via the National Review that nobody from Thompson's crew said any such thing as the NR called and verified rather than risk publishing a rumor as fact.

See what happens when one news agency just assumes that another news agency or a blog checked its facts?

On the bright side Mr. Thompson got a free test on how much media coverage to expect when he does decide to announce he's running.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Tx Senate Approves Short Term Park Funding

Parks would receive more of tax, not all

Web Posted: 05/28/2007 11:04 PM CDT
Gary Scharrer
Austin bureau

AUSTIN — Texas lawmakers gave final approval Monday to increasing spending for state and local parks but stopped short of using all of the sporting goods tax revenue supporters said is necessary for the long-term vitality of parks.

"This is mixed. Short term, we did great, but long term is very much a question," said House Culture, Recreation and Tourism Chairman Harvey Hilderbran, R-Kerrville, a longtime champion of state and local parks.

A special parks advisory committee last year recommended a 10-year plan and urged lawmakers to allocate all of the sporting goods tax revenue for state and local parks.

The bill would increase funding for state and local parks by $156 million, and it includes a $44 million bond issue that requires voter approval in the November election.

"It's a good, solid package, and it's a good first step," said George Bristol, vice chairman of the parks advisory committee. "Basically, we got almost everything we wanted for the first two years. Obviously, it will take longer than two years to fix up the parks." more

Well at least they don't have to can any more employees and will be able to repair the equipment they have. We'll be rehashing this issue shortly after W leaves office and who knows what the political climate will be like then.

Bush Intensifies Pressure on Sudan

Bush Intensifies Pressure on Sudan

By Michael Abramowitz and Debbi Wilgoren
Washington Post Staff Writers
Tuesday, May 29, 2007; 12:10 PM

President Bush today announced broader sanctions on the government of Sudanese president Lt. Gen. Omar Hassam al-Bashir in an effort to halt violence in the troubled Darfur region, nearly three years after the White House described the conflict there as genocide.

In a brief address that included sharp criticism of Bashir, Bush said the Treasury Department will step up efforts to squeeze the Sudanese economy by targeting government-run ventures involved with its booming oil business, which does many of its transactions in U.S. dollars.


The United States will also seek new U.N. Security Council sanctions against Khartoum, including a provision preventing the Sudanese government from conducting military flights in Darfur, Bush said. The United Nations has accused Sudan's government of bombing Darfur villages.


Bush and his aides say Bashir and other senior Sudanese officials have thwarted efforts at cooperation even after Bush explicitly warned them of the consequences. The president said the Sudanese government bombed a rebel camp a day after Bush's speech at the Holocaust Museum. Sudanese officials have continued to give speeches rejecting the full complement of peacekeepers, U.S. officials say.

"For too long, the people of Darfur have suffered at the hands of a government that is complicit in the bombing, murder and rape of innocent civilians," Bush said.

" . . . President Bashir's actions over the past few weeks follow a long pattern of promising cooperation while finding new methods for obstruction."

The timing of today's announcement appears certain to anger U.N. diplomats, who have been reporting progress in negotiations with Bashir and have been aggressively lobbying U.S. officials to delay sanctions. Sudan's official news agency reported Saturday that Ban has agreed to travel to Khartoum to negotiate a deal on a United Nations-African Union peacekeeping force for Darfur. full article

This may be too little too late. If W is serious about ending this the best thing he could do is get China on board in ending the conflict. Somehow I just don't see that happening anytime soon.

Man Wearing Only Underoos Pins Leopard

Having previously fended off a St. Bernard and a Pit bull while naked (No, I'm not making that up.) I tip my hat to this man. Hell, I only scared them away, he effin wrassled and pinned a leopard for chrissake.

Man clad in underwear pins leopard

By ARON HELLER, Associated Press WriterMon May 28, 5:44 PM ET

A man clad only in underwear and a T-shirt wrestled a wild leopard to the floor and pinned it for 20 minutes after the cat leapt through a window of his home and hopped into bed with his sleeping family.

"This kind of thing doesn't happen every day," said 49-year-old Arthur Du Mosch, a nature guide. "I don't know why I did it. I wasn't thinking, I just acted."

Raviv Shapira, who heads the southern district of the Israel Nature and Parks Protection Authority, said a half dozen leopards have been spotted recently near Du Mosch's small community of Kibbutz Sde Boker in the Negev desert in southern Israel, although they rarely threaten humans. more

Synopsis of the me battling dogs while naked story....

Jan 1 2006
I'm in bed. SO is up but not about. Son (age 7 at the time) is up and about early. Son opens door to see if other munchkins are out. St. Bernard pushes son aside and wanders inside. Son comes up to tell on St. Bernard. St. Bernard follows son. Roomies Pitbull/Springer Spaniel mix opts to defend bedroom. Son and SO both begin screaming. I leap up push son into hall push SO behind me and step in between dogs. I used a lighter to scare Pitbull mix back and drag St. Bernard downstairs and out of the door. I lock door and go back to bedroom, sit on bed and light cigarette and state,"Well, after that, this year is all downhill from here."

If only I'd known how wrong I was then. (Hence my brief departure from blogging) On the plus side I've quit smoking since then.

So given the difference in difficulty in pinning a leopard vs my ordeal I do hereby award Arthur Du Mosch the Crapomatic Institute's first ever Cajones of Steel award. Live long and prosper Arthur.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Of Mountains and Molehills

I recall seeing posts about a fake memo earlier this week but frankly the issue at hand was so unimportant to me that I skimmed over it and went on with blogging about really important things like the war against Spam. Little did I know that certain large blogs completely blew it out of proportion launched vicious four letter word laden attacks on
former Green Berets for refusing to take down the relatively harmless memo only to find out said memo was real. (You can read the whole story here.)

At the tail end of that article is the part I find interesting because I recently discovered it to be true when I caught Red State lying and numerous blogs reporting that lie as truth. In the end I found statement below to completely accurate.

"right-wing bloggers continuously hurl accusations like this and then, when proven wrong, simply move on to the next accusatory orgy without any real acknowledgment of wrongdoing or apology."

Whats sad is that some of those blogs have actually broken real news stories in the past. I mean one of the beauties of blogland is that it keeps the MSM on its toes and lately some blogs are just really screwing the pooch in that area.

I was taught that there were men and then there were Men. Meaning that men had exterior plumbing and Men did their best to do the right thing. Part of that meant that if you made a mistake, you owned up to it and then apologized. That should also be the difference between a blogger and a Blogger one has a blog and the other also has integrity.

The Nature of the Beast

Courtesy of LGF

This one makes the Hammas' Version of Mickey Mouse look tame. An elementary school play complete with suicide belts and AK47s

Sunday, May 27, 2007

If you only read one other blog post

this month make it this one. Seriously. Quit reading my crappy post and go read a good one.

Daily KOS Turns 5 (and still acts it)

Kudos to Atrios at Eschaton for this post:

Worst American Birthdays Vol. XVI

The Daily Kos, born on this date in 2002, is perhaps the most malevolent force in American politics today. Since its establishment, it has done everything possible to silence other voices through the establishment of its diary system, to stop the progress of progressive candidates by bankrolling (with the help of its primary backer George Soros) a series of neo-Nazis like Ned Lamont, and has been openly hostile to the concept of open politics on the internet with its insistence on supporting "net neutrality" and an internet free of FEC regulation.

When historians look back on the decline and fall of America, May 26, 2002, will mark the point when order turned to anarchy, where liberal society turned to fascism, where our political discourse was snatched away from our betters and handed over, without thought to consequence, to the dirty masses whose ignorance and incivility drove our elites into hiding and our country into the abyss.

Happy Birthday Daily Kos
, may Joe Lieberman outlive you so he can spit on your grave.

I rarely see eye to eye with Atrios but today we are on even ground if only in italics.

Please Chip In

Joe Gandelman founder of The Moderate Voice needs a little help from his friends. His Father is stricken with lung cancer and multiple types of pneumonia and this happened very shortly after he moved his blog to Wordpress Pro. (1200$ minimum). Joe makes a living entertaining/educating children for a living. In order to deal with this time of crisis he's had to cancel shows and buy plane tickets etc etc etc. TMV has been around for years and was voted the Best Centrist Blog of 2006 so it's not like I'm asking you to help out some schmuck like me.

So please drop by and hit his tip jar if you can. If you don't have any spare change then at least post a message on your blog asking your readers to help Joe out.

As for me, I've already put my money where my mouth is.

Note: I do not advise anyone to just go to TMV and click some ads. That would be wrong. Very wrong. Shame on you for even thinking that.

Senate Reneging on TX State Park Funding?

I doubt if anyone but me recalls but I first brought up this topic Jan 20 2006

Senate interest may be waning in parks funding

AUSTIN — The lawmaker pushing a major funding increase for state and local parks is worried that Senate leaders are losing their will to rehabilitate Texas' ailing park system.

"I am concerned. ... There is not really a champion in the Senate," House Culture, Recreation and Tourism Chairman Harvey Hilderbran, R-Kerrville, said Friday, three days before the legislative session ends.

"I'm championing it here, and I champion it in the Senate, too," Hilderbran said about his efforts to lift the sporting goods tax cap on revenue that flows to state parks. "I'm going over there, bursting into meetings with the lieutenant governor and other people on other bills, saying, 'What in the hell's going on? You promised this.'"

More than 20 of the state's 31 senators originally signed on to legislation to remove the cap, but questions about the funding and a study of the revenue are dividing lawmakers.

"I'm confident that we are going to have an agreement that's going to be good for our park system," said Sen. Craig Estes, R-Wichita Falls, who is the Senate's chief negotiator for House Bill 12.

A special parks advisory committee led by former Sen. John Montford recommended last year that all of the sporting goods tax revenue go to state and local parks as part of a plan to address chronic funding shortages in the state's 114 parks. Some parks are in serious disrepair and some have had to cut operating hours because of staff shortages. more

This particular item is near and dear to me as we do a lot of camping, hiking, and fishing.

The shame is that had my original proposal been put into motion this would have all been taken care of by now.

H/T to B and B

First U.N. Peacekeeper Killed in Darfur

Gunmen in Darfur kill U.N. peacekeeper

A United Nations peacekeeper who was among a small group of reinforcements sent to Darfur was shot to death at his residence — the world body's first casualty since its long-negotiated arrival in the troubled region, officials said Saturday.

Gunmen looted the home of the U.N. peacekeeper — an Egyptian lieutenant colonel — in El Fasher, the capital of North Darfur state, and fatally shot him late Friday, the African Union and U.N. said.

"The senseless killing of an innocent man in the confines of his residence is beyond comprehension," said Hassan Gibril, the deputy head of the AU mission, at a memorial for Lt. Col. Ehab Nazir.

The gunmen who killed him were thought to be burglars, but an official close to the investigation said authorities would not exclude other motives. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk to the media.

In Cairo, the foreign ministry deplored the Egyptian officer's death and condemned in a statement the "sinful aggression" in which Nazir became the "casualty of an attack by armed elements."

The AU has faced increased hostility from warring factions in Darfur, and has lost 19 of its own peacekeepers since it first deployed in June 2004.

"Not a month goes by without a new killing, it's very difficult," AU spokesman Noureddine Mezni said.

The U.N. began deploying some 180 staff to Darfur in December to bolster the overwhelmed 7,000-strong AU mission. more

To stay up to date on the crisis in Darfur visit The Coalition for Darfur

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Texas Divests from Sudan

“Stop the Darfur Genocide Act” Garners Unanimous Support
AUSTIN, TEXAS (May 15, 2007) – Senate Bill 247, the “Stop the Darfur Genocide Act”, passed the Texas House of Representatives unanimously today. The bill has already cleared the Texas Senate and is on its way to the Governor’s desk, pending a procedural vote tomorrow. Governor Perry endorsed the targeted divestment legislation in his inaugural address and State of the State speech.
The bipartisan legislation, led by Rep. Corbin Van Arsdale (R – Tomball) and Senator Rodney Ellis (D – Houston), has over 85 co-authors and enjoys tremendous support from both ends of the political spectrum. Religious conservatives and liberal activists found common ground and formed an alliance to pass the legislation in Texas. The bill is similar to legislation that has already passed in 12 states and is currently pending in 15 others.
SB 247 would require the Teacher Retirement System of Texas (TRS) and the Employee Retirement System of Texas (ERS) to engage and possibly divest from certain companies doing business in Sudan who substantially benefit the central government, provide little benefit to Sudan’s citizens, and who have failed to address their role in indirectly facilitating Sudan’s genocide.
With an approximate value of $426 million in targeted fund holdings, the financial impact of the divestment effort on the Sudanese government is substantial. The amount represents about 0.59% of the assets under management by ERS & TRS.
Rep. Corbin Van Arsdale said, “Texans spoke loud and clear today. We don't want our money being used to facilitate genocide. As compassionate human beings, we can no longer turn our back to the slaughter in Darfur.”


Friday, May 25, 2007

Token Ethics Bill Passed in the House

Ethics Legislation Easily Passes House

By Elizabeth Williamson
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, May 25, 2007; A01

Prodded by Democratic leaders and by freshmen elected partly on promises to clean up Washington, the House approved new ethics legislation yesterday that would penalize lawmakers who receive a wide range of favors from special interests, and would require lobbyists to disclose the campaign contributions they collect and deliver to lawmakers.

Party leaders and new lawmakers worked until the day before the vote to sway some longtime members who had balked at the proposals. It took weeks of persuasion by Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and other key lawmakers to convince recalcitrant Democrats -- among them some members of the speaker's inner circle.

The new proposals, which in the end passed overwhelmingly, would expand the information available about how business is done on Capitol Hill and make it available online. They would provide expanded, more frequent and Internet-accessible reporting of lobbyist-paid contributions and sponsorships, and would for the first time impose prison terms for criminal rule-breakers. They would also require strict new disclosure of "bundled" campaign contributions that lobbyists collect and pass on to lawmakers' campaigns. Yesterday's legislation passed 396 to 22. more

Its not much but when combined with the lobbying reform bill passed last year they almost make a decent reform attempt. I still think publicly financed campaigns are the best route for ensuring our elected officials are doing our will rather than their campaign contributors.

U.N.-AU draw up plans for large Darfur force

By Evelyn Leopold
Friday, May 25, 2007; 8:55 AM

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - The United Nations and the African Union drew up plans for a peacekeeping force for Darfur of more than 23,000 troops, police and other personnel to protect civilians and be able to use force to deter violence.

The so-called AU-UN "hybrid" force still has to be approved by the U.N. Security Council and the AU's Peace and Security Committee and then submitted to the Sudanese government.

U.S. Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad said the Security Council could adopt a statement as early as Friday on the 40-page plan.

"I think that is a positive development," he said. "Now the ball will be in Sudan's court."

Sudan has not rejected the force but various top officials have said the number of troops were too large and that the United Nations should finance and augment the African Union force of 7,000 with logistics, command and control functions, transport and financing. more

To stay up to date on the crisis in Darfur visit The Coalition for Darfur

Thursday, May 24, 2007

New Strategy in The War Against Spam

Hey, at least its a war that everyone can support.

From the BBC:
Backing for tool to battle spam

The DomainKeys Identified Mail (DKIM) system is a method of validating the identity of the sender of an e-mail.

Spammers hide their identity by using a false, or spoofed, address in the millions of messages they send out.

DKIM uses encrypted digital signatures to prove a message's origin and a draft standard has been accepted by the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF).

The IETF is the umbrella group representing firms such as Yahoo, Cisco, Sendmail and PGP Corporation.

The firms have pledged to work with ISPs, businesses and financial institutions to roll out the technology as soon as possible.

Protecting e-mail users from scams was a top priority, said Mark Delany, lead architect for Yahoo Mail and author of DomainKeys.

"DomainKeys Identified Mail is positioned to become the pre-eminent standard for e-mail authentication," he said.

Key consideration

Although 90 to 99% of e-mail comes from senders known to the recipient, establishing the identity of a sender remains a key consideration in the protection against spam.

Spammers get away with sending spoofed e-mails because mail servers only check if a domain mentioned in these spoofed addresses - such as - is known to be used by spammers.

DKIM lets honest e-mail senders prove they sent a message by encrypting a two-part signature, or key, in a selected part of the mail.

The e-mail provider, such as Yahoo, puts an encrypted private key into the e-mail when it is sent.

It is linked to a public key held by the internet's domain name system - the phonebook of the internet.

The mail server which receives the e-mail checks to ensure that the private and public keys match, proving that the message has come from a genuine sender.

But in order for the technology to work, both the sender and recipient need their mail services to be signed up to DKIM.

"DKIM is an example of major players coming together to do the right thing, sacrificing short term competitive edge to ensure safety, security and trust on the internet," said Eric Allman, co-founder of messaging service Sendmail.

Since a huge amount of the resources of the net are used to transport spam this could potentially save the web from death by spam traffic, save ISPs tons of money in bandwidth costs, and prevent financial loss from phishing emails. Its a win win situation for everyone.

Eco-terrorism Case Revisited

Last night I posted about a group of radical environmentalists that may be sentenced as terrorists and today I ran across a discussion over at TMV between Shaun Mullen and Captain Ed of Captain's Quarters that originally started about hate crime legislation but moved on to include terrorism laws.

Captain Ed stated:
"This is the problem with hate-crime legislation — and perhaps with terrorist legislation as well . . .Both specifically criminalize motive, rather than leave them as a component of an objective crime itself. Beating up a gay person should carry the same penalties whether hate motivated it or not. Similarly, terrorism as a civil crime (ie, not in the context of foreigners attacking the U.S.) also creates a thought-police mentality that is pretty seductive to people determined to stamp out evil — in their subjective opinion of it."


"I’m starting to think that hate crimes and terrorism designators both take us down a dangerous road. If the criminal act doesn’t carry enough deterrent through normal penalties, then increase the penalties for everyone who commits them — whether it be battery, arson, or murder. Let the motivation prove the crime rather than become a crime in itself. Otherwise, we invite a thought-police mentality that will ensnare American liberty more than it does evil."

He probably does a better job than I did of getting my point across.

Additionally over at the LA Times there is a piece written by the sister of one of the persons convicted in which she does raise a decent point:

"And nearly 10 years ago, he burned down a horse slaughterhouse in Redmond, Ore. It is for this final act that the U.S. government considers him among the ranks of Osama bin Laden, Eric Rudolph and Ramzi Ahmed Yousef."

"If you call my brother a lawbreaker, I won't argue. But labeling him a terrorist dilutes the meaning of terrorism. And you demean all the Americans, and all those around the world, who have died in real terrorist acts."

The more I think about it the more I dislike motive based sentencing. It seems to me that it would be easier to prove and ultimately more effective to enact an "organized and premeditated" sentencing enhancement that would, in the case of hate crimes, be universally fair and in the case of terrorism be universally applicable regardless of the level of death or destruction.

Military Still Canning Gay Arabic Linguists

From the AP:
U.S. military continues to discharge gay Arab linguists, and Congress members seek hearing

WASHINGTON: Lawmakers who say the military has kicked out 58 Arabic linguists because they were gay want the Pentagon to explain how it can afford to let the valuable language specialists go.

Seizing on the latest discharges, involving three specialists, members of the House of Representatives wrote the House Armed Services Committee chairman that the continued loss of such "capable, highly skilled Arabic linguists continues to compromise our national security during time of war."


Democratic Rep. Marty Meehan, who has pushed for repeal of the law, organized the letter sent to Skelton requesting a hearing into the Arab linguist issue.

"At a time when our military is stretched to the limit and our cultural knowledge of the Middle East is dangerously deficient, I just can't believe that kicking out able, competent Arabic linguists is making our country any safer," Meehan said.

The letter, signed by about 40 House members, says that, with the latest firings, 58 Arab linguists have been dismissed from the military under the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy. It said Congress should decide whether this application of the policy "is serving the nation well."


Marine Maj. Stewart Upton, a Pentagon spokesman, said the Defense Department is enforcing the law.

"The Department of Defense must ensure that the standards for enlistment and appointment of members of the armed forces reflect the policies set forth by Congress," he said, adding that those dismissed can serve their nation by working as contractors or at other federal agencies."

While I could wax about how stupid and antiquated this law is or about how badly the military needs Arab linguists I'll just say this:

Any American citizen that is willing to fight and die for their country and meets the physical and mental standards to qualify for that duty while having no serious criminal record should be allowed to serve their country in the military. Period.

Lingere store clerk to be labeled a sex offender

Police Raid Lingerie Shop
LUBBOCK, TX -- An obscure law sends one local lingerie store clerk to jail. And now she may forever have to register as a sex offender.
The lingerie store, Somethin’ Sexy was raided by police last week for violating Lubbock`s sexually oriented business ordinance.

"I feel like I`m in 1690 Salem, Massachusetts and we`re looking for a witch to burn" says the store’s owner.

The witch: the owner of Somethin’ Sexy. He`s speaking out about the raid of his shop and the arrest of his employee. Now, if convicted, the clerk will have to register as a sex offender.

"I think it`s ridiculous. She`s not a sex offender, she was selling something that I had instructed them it was ok to sell, I think it`s ridiculous" he says.

Earlier this month, four officers raided the shop, confiscating several toys deemed to be illegal by the Texas penal code. The code states "a person who possesses six or more obscene devices is presumed to possess them with intent to promote the same." In other words, intent to sell. more

There have been several stories not unlike this one in the local papers including crackdowns on a company that hosts novelty parties in private homes. I for one am not fond of overly judicious usage of the sex offender database which now includes teenagers convicted of statutory rape (2 years age difference required). Maybe I'm morally bankrupt for thinking that an 18 year old shouldn't be branded a pariah for life for engaging in sex with a 16 year old (or a 17 and a 15 year old) . The usage of the sex registry law needs to be restricted to its original intent.. But what lawmaker is is going to give his political opponents that much ammunition against them by standing up to fight for "known pervs"?

Note: A similar Alabama law is to be presented to the Supreme Court shortly.

H/T to Pagan Vigil

House Passes Lame Gas Gouging Bill

From the AP:

WASHINGTON - The House, eager to do something about record high gasoline prices in advance of the Memorial Day weekend, voted narrowly Wednesday to approve stiff penalties for those found guilty of gasoline price gouging.

The bill directs the Federal Trade Commission and Justice Department to go after oil companies, traders or retail operators if they take “unfair advantage” or charge “unconscionably excessive” prices for gasoline and other fuels.

The White House called the measure a form of price controls that could result in fuel shortages. It said President Bush would be urged to veto the legislation should it pass Congress.


Rep. Bart Stupak, D-Mich., its chief sponsor, in urging his colleagues to support the bill said the issue was whether “to side with Big Oil (or) ... side with consumers who are being ripped off at the gas pump.”

But Stupak was forced to soften the bill so that he could get it passed by requiring a president to first declare an energy emergency before the anti-gouging law could be enforced. Oil-state Democrats had wanted such limits.

The bill calls for criminal penalties of up to $150 million for corporations and up to $2 million and a jail sentence of up to 10 years for individuals found to be engaged in price gouging. More

Hmmm...I note that people aren't dancing in the streets. Could that be because the softening of the bill effectively renders it useless in the immediate sense? In my opinion this might have been one of those bills where sticking to your guns and having it vetoed might have dome more for the Dem's image than anything else they've done lately.

I think a several cajones transplants might be in order but I can't find that checkbox on the back of my drivers lisence.

France calls for tightening sanctions on Teheran

File this one under Whodathunkit

From the Jerusalem Post

Sarkozy calls to tighten sanctions on Teheran

"French President Nicholas Sarkozy called Wednesday for sanctions on Iran to be tightened if the country does not adhere to the West's demands to cease its nuclear agenda.

If Iran attains nuclear weapons, Sarkozy warned, a road to an arms race will be paved that could endanger Israel and southeast Europe, he said during an interview with a German magazine.

Sarkozy announced that France will join the official US-led struggle against head of the International Atomic Energy Agency Mohamed ElBaradei, who recommended that Iran be allowed to enrich uranium in some of its nuclear plants.

On Tuesday, American officials urged allies to back a formal protest against ElBaradei, saying his comments could hurt UN Security Council efforts to pressure Teheran over its enrichment program."

Looks like we have our old ally back.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Should a Group of Radical Environmentalists Be Considered Terrorists?

From ABC News:

A Group of 11 Militant Environmentalists Could Be Sentenced as Terrorists Without Having Killed a Soul

The FBI has called them "the No. 1 domestic terrorism threat," and their members include four of the Bureau's 11 Most Wanted homegrown terrorists. Yet in more than 1,100 acts of arson and vandalism, the members of the Earth Liberation Front have never killed a single person.

Defining terrorism has always been tricky, and in trying to do so, the federal government has acknowledged that there is "no single universally accepted definition of terrorism." But just as when it comes to identifying pornography, lawyers and law enforcement officers have traditionally relied on an ability to know it when they see it.

The government saw it 16 months ago when federal agents arrested 10 members of the loose-knit activist group and an affiliate organization, the Animal Liberation Front, in an action called Operation Backfire.

At the time of their arrest, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales called the cell's $40 million dollar arson campaign -- which targeted, throughout five Western states, a horse slaughterhouse, SUV dealerships, a scientific research center, logging companies and a ski resort -- "a pattern of domestic terrorism activities."

Lawyers and activists defending the saboteurs insist, however, that the terrorist label is a scare tactic. Acts of arson and property damage, they claim, have never been the stuff of terrorism indictments, and the label is intended by the government to stir public outrage, increase the length prison terms and augment the government's rolls of imprisoned terrorists.

Today in Eugene, Ore., a federal judge will sentence Stanislas Meyerhoff, 29, the first of the 10-member cell that called itself "the family." The other nine defendants will each be sentenced over the next several weeks.

If government prosecutors can convince Judge Ann Aiken that Meyerhoff and the others -- all of whom have pleaded guilty to conspiracy and arson charges -- are terrorists, then they will be sentenced following federal "terrorism enhancement" guidelines, which could multiply their sentences sevenfold and land them in supermax prisons. more

I'm of the opinion that they shouldn't be sentenced as terrorists for several reasons. First being the fact that no human was harmed or killed in the process of their crimes. Secondly because once we have used the laws to stiffen punishment for property damage what is left when there is an actual loss of life? Either life is of greater value than property or it isn't. Finally should they be sentenced as terrorists it sets a really strange legal precedent in which having a political motivation to commit a crime becomes as or more important than the severity of the actual crime.

One thing is for certain, should they be sentenced as terrorists these cases will be the appellate courts for years and could end up before the Supreme Court. I'td be safer in the long run to just give them the max on all 5 charges and be done with it. But then again, I'm not a prosecutor out to make a name for myself.

Bush Authorizes Ops Vs Iran

From ABC News:
Bush Authorizes New Covert Action Against Iran
The CIA has received secret presidential approval to mount a covert "black" operation to destabilize the Iranian government, current and former officials in the intelligence community tell the Blotter on

The sources, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the subject, say President Bush has signed a "nonlethal presidential finding" that puts into motion a CIA plan that reportedly includes a coordinated campaign of propaganda, disinformation
and manipulation of Iran's currency and international financial transactions. more

Many have called ABC's releasing of this information irresponsible or treasonous. I see that as a gross overreaction. It only confirms what the Iranian government believes anyway. Although they might have been surprised by the nonlethal part. And that may have have been the point of the leak.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Bomb Plot Thwarted at Falwell's Funeral

From ABC News:
Student Arrested With Homemade Bombs, Three Other Suspects Sought

May 22, 2007 —

Even in death, the Rev. Jerry Falwell rouses the most volatile of emotions.

A small group of protesters gathered near the funeral services to criticize the man who mobilized Christian evangelicals and made them a major force in American politics -- often by playing on social prejudices.

A group of students from Falwell's Liberty University staged a counter protest.

And Campbell County authorities arrested a Liberty University student for having several homemade bombs in his car.

The student, 19-year-old Mark D. Uhl of Amissville, Va., reportedly told authorities that he was making the bombs to stop protesters from disrupting the funeral service. The devices were made of a combination of gasoline and detergent, a law enforcement official told ABC News' Pierre Thomas. They were "slow burn," according to the official, and would not have been very destructive. more

To stop protesters from disrupting the service? I see this guy winning a Darwin award someday.

Note to those mentioned in the article:

1: You don't protest at funerals.
2: You don't counter-protest people protesting at funerals. It's marginally less stupid and rude than actually protesting.
3: Nowhere is it written that the memory of recently departed ministers is always best served by showering their casket and their loved ones with the flaming body parts of the deceased's opposition.
4: You don't protest at funerals.

The only way this article could have had more people behaving badly is if the cops showed up and arrested the mourners by mistake.

H/T to Midtopia

Post Surge Plan Unveiled

After the Surge
The Administration Floats Ideas for a New Approach in Iraq

By David Ignatius
Tuesday, May 22, 2007; A15

President Bush and his senior military and foreign policy advisers are beginning to discuss a "post-surge" strategy for Iraq that they hope could gain bipartisan political support. The new policy would focus on training and advising Iraqi troops rather than the broader goal of achieving a political reconciliation in Iraq, which senior officials recognize may be unachievable within the time available.

The revamped policy, as outlined by senior administration officials, would be premised on the idea that, as the current surge of U.S. troops succeeds in reducing sectarian violence, America's role will be increasingly to help prepare the Iraqi military to take greater responsibility for securing the country.


Here's a summary of the policy ideas the officials said are under discussion:

· Train Iraqi security forces and support them as they gain sufficient intelligence, logistics and transport capability to operate independently.

· Provide "force protection" for U.S. troops who remain in Iraq.

· Continue Special Forces operations against al-Qaeda, in the hope of gradually reducing suicide bombings and other terrorist attacks on the Iraqi government. "That's the accelerator for sectarian violence," said one official.

· Focus U.S. activities on the two big enemies of stability and democracy in Iraq -- al-Qaeda and Iranian-backed sectarian militias.

· Maintain the territorial integrity and independence of Iraq.

· Ensure the near-term continuation of democracy in Iraq. That means supporting top-down reconciliation through a new oil law, new rules to make it easier for former Baath Party members to play a role in the new Iraq, provincial elections and changes to the Iraqi constitution to meet Sunni demands. It also means support for bottom-up reconciliation, such as the recent push against al-Qaeda by Sunni tribal leaders in Anbar province, and recent peace feelers from radical Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr.


The wild cards in this new effort to craft a bipartisan Iraq policy are the Republican and Democratic leaders, President Bush and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. They both say they want a sustainable, effective Iraq policy, but each is deeply entrenched in a partisan version of what that policy should be. America is in a nosedive in Iraq. Can these two leaders share the controls enough that Iraq will become a U.S. project, rather than George Bush's war? There's a bipartisan path out of this impasse, but will America's leaders be wise enough to take it? full article

Good question. And according to my magic 8 ball of partisan politics the answer is "Not Likely at First". Meaning Dem's will try to ram home their version until it becomes clear that the president and moderate Republican's aren't biting.

What is of interest is that W is actually trying something his own inner circle didn't come up with, the Baker-Hamilton report. Given that there have been recent talks to Syria and Iran about Iraq taken together theses are all highly positive signs. My question is "Will it prove to be too little too late?".

Gas Prices Close to All Time High

Regular Unleaded Just Shy of '81 Mark

By Steven Mufson
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, May 22, 2007; D01

Gasoline prices last week came within a half penny of tying the modern era's inflation-adjusted record set in March 1981, the Energy Department said yesterday.

The nationwide price of unleaded regular gasoline hit $3.218 a gallon, barely below the adjusted $3.223 a gallon level 26 years ago. Behind the rise were high crude oil prices and disruptions in output at oil refineries.

The 1981 record was set two years after the Iranian revolution brought down the pro-American shah, seven months after war broke out between Iraq and Iran and two months after President Ronald Reagan ended U.S. oil price and allocation controls.

The current rise in prices has been harder for consumers to understand. While Nigerian insurgents have curtailed production by about 800,000 barrels a day, there hasn't been any major cut in crude oil supplies, and crude oil inventories are adequate.

Instead, industry analysts blame a series of refinery accidents, breakdowns and maintenance closings that have choked off enough gasoline production to drive up prices -- and refinery profit margins -- just before the summer driving season.

"Crude oil prices don't reflect $3.20-a-gallon gas prices," said Frank A. Verrastro, director of the energy program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. Europeans pay more than twice as much at the pump because of gasoline taxes.

Francisco Blanch, oil analyst at Merrill Lynch, said in a note to investors this month that the "unprecedented" drop in U.S. gasoline inventories had reduced stocks to "the lowest seasonal point in almost two decades." Blanch said that "refinery outages have curbed domestic gasoline production and imports are not coming through due to stiff competition" from other countries.

Oil analyst Philip K. Verleger estimates that refinery problems have lowered gasoline output by 90 million barrels this year, squeezing supplies. more

Having just completed a 1,250 mile trip across half of America I can say it's ugly out there. I paid an average of 3.02 per gallon and had I not been traveling through the gulf states I'd have paid even more.

Rev. Jerry Falwell Laid to Rest

Thousands Turn Out for Falwell Funeral

The Associated Press
Tuesday, May 22, 2007; 2:35 PM

LYNCHBURG, Va. -- Thousands of mourners attended the funeral Tuesday of the Rev. Jerry Falwell, the folksy evangelist who built the Moral Majority into a conservative Christian empire that influenced national politics.

The funeral returns Falwell to his roots _ the Thomas Road Baptist Church, where he started as a young preacher in 1956 with just 35 parishioners in an old abandoned soda bottling plant.

Today, his son Jonathan Falwell leads Thomas Road Baptist, and the sanctuary seats 6,000.

More than an hour before the service, crowds were being directed to overflow seating in Liberty University's 10,000-seat basketball arena and its football stadium. About 300 police and other personnel were helping manage the crowd, Lynchburg Police Chief Charles W. Bennett Jr. said.

More than 33,000 people had viewed Falwell's body over four days as it lay in repose.

"He was a champion of the fundamental values that we hold dear," said fellow Virginia evangelist Pat Robertson, citing Falwell's stance against abortion and homosexuality. "He stepped on some toes."

Some Republican figures were expected for the funeral, but none of the party's presidential candidates said they could attend. The White House was sending a midlevel aide. Among the Virginia Republican leaders attending was Attorney General Bob McDonnell.

Falwell, 73, died a week ago after collapsing in his office at Liberty University. His physician said Falwell had a heart condition and presumably died of a heart rhythm abnormality. more

Now that Rev. Falwell is properly buried allow me to take a moment to reflect on his "legacy".

Falwell's primary achievment was in motivating a large number of mainly protestant Christians to become engaged in the political process. Thats a good thing in my opinion. Of course I'd also say that if he had organized left handed people. In the process he helped shape the platform of the GOP today which is no mean feat. In doing so he also became a spokesperson for Protestant Christianity in America and its in that role that he probably did more harm than good.

His denouncements of gays and "abortionists" were often hate filled to the point that they were clearly in conflict with the teachings of Jesus Christ such as "Love thy neighbor as thyself.", Do unto others as you'd have done to you". (You can read many of his infamous quotes here.)

By doing so he portrayed his faith as being bigoted, intolerant, hypocritical, close minded, and hateful. There isn't any way to count the number of people he turned off of Christianity or the number of gays he inspired to organize. But I wish I had a nickel for each of them.

Dems set war bill without Iraq timeline

By DAVID ESPO, AP Special CorrespondentMon May 21, 7:15 PM ET

In grudging concessions to President Bush, Democrats intend to draft an Iraq war-funding bill without a timeline for the withdrawal of U.S. troops and shorn of billions of dollars in spending on domestic programs, officials said Monday.

The legislation would include the first federal minimum wage increase in more than a decade, a top priority for the Democrats who took control of Congress in January, the officials added.

While details remain subject to change, the measure is designed to close the books by Friday on a bruising veto fight between Bush and the Democratic-controlled Congress over the war. It would provide funds for military operations in Iraq through Sept. 30, the end of the fiscal year.

Democrats in both houses are expected to seek other opportunities later this year to challenge Bush's handling of the unpopular conflict.

Democratic officials stressed the legislation was subject to change. They spoke on condition of anonymity, saying they were not authorized to discuss provisions before a planned presentation to members of the party's rank and file later in the day.

Democrats in Congress have insisted for months they would not give Bush a blank check for his war policies, and officials said the legislation is expected to include political and military goals for the Iraqi government to meet toward establishment of a more democratic society. more

Stop focusing on crap you know you can't do and focus on stuff that you can do. Come September the political and public mood might be more favorable.

Compromise Immigration Bill Stalls

Immigration Compromise Faces New Opposition
Proposal Stays Alive, But Foes Lie in Wait

By Jonathan Weisman
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, May 22, 2007; A01

The Senate voted last night to move forward on an overhaul of immigration laws, but even proponents of the delicate compromise proposal conceded that the furor over the deal was surpassing their expectations and endangering the plan.

The 69 to 23 vote masked deep troubles from the right flank of the Senate, as well as from the left. Opponents of even conducting a debate on the measure included some unexpected voices, such as freshman Sens. Jon Tester (D-Mont.) and Bernard Sanders, an independent liberal from Vermont. Several conservatives -- and some liberals -- made it clear that they cast a vote to proceed only in order to fundamentally change the proposed legislation in the coming days.

With dozens of amendments planned, traps being laid by opponents could upset the fragile coalition that drafted the measure. What's more, Senate leaders gave up hope last night that they could pass the bill this week, ensuring it will be left hanging over a week-long Memorial Day recess. That will allow the opposition to gather strength before a final vote can be scheduled next month.

"Our plan is a compromise. It involved give-and-take in the best traditions of the United States Senate. For each of us who crafted it, there are elements that we strongly support and elements we believe could be improved. No one believes this is a perfect bill," said Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (Mass.), the deal's chief Democratic architect. "The world is watching to see how we respond to the current crisis. Let's not disappoint them."

Senate leadership aides said yesterday that the proposal could probably muster the support of about 30 Republicans and 30 Democrats -- just enough to beat a filibuster, which was all but promised yesterday by conservatives.

The bill would grant legal status to virtually all the estimated 12 million undocumented workers in the country, create a temporary-worker program, tighten border controls, crack down on employers who hire illegal immigrants, and create a point system for future immigration to de-emphasize family ties in favor of educational attainment and work skills.

About a dozen senators who drafted the compromise are to meet every day this week to review amendments.

"The grand bargainers will hold together," ventured Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Pa.), a lead negotiator, "but there are not 51 of us."

Supporters had expected opposition from both ends of the political spectrum. But they conceded they were taken aback by the furious response over the weekend, especially from conservatives, who declared that the legislation is nothing short of amnesty for lawbreakers. more

I realize that immigration reform is a difficult issue in which those senators and Reps. from border states are under much more pressure than others. I also realize that some leaders of both political parties want to legitimize those currently here illegally as they think they'll be able to count on their support on key issues which creates political pressure on many of our elected "leaders". however what may need to be done in order to actually get the ball rolling is two bills. One in which those issues that can garner majority support is passed and then they can bicker about the rest. As it stands right now the Dem's are looking mighty ineffective despite having a majority in both houses. If the current trend continues we'll have gone from having a lame duck president to having a lame duck government and that'll hit home really hard with election season starting in just 6 mos.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

President Nominates Scapegoat

ABC News Learns Pentagon Official Selected to Oversee Iraq, Afghanistan Wars

After a frustrating search for a new "war czar" to oversee the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, ABC News has learned that President Bush has chosen the Pentagon's director of operations, Lt. Gen. Douglas Lute, for the role.

In the newly created position of assistant to the president and deputy national security adviser for Iraq and Afghanistan policy and implementation, Lute would have the power to direct the Pentagon, State Department and other agencies involved in the two conflicts.

Lute would report directly to the president and to National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley.

Filling the position had become a priority for the White House, after a handful of retired generals told the White House they did not want the job. Among them, retired Marine Corps four-star Gen. Jack Sheehan, who proved an embarrassment to the White House after he wrote an op-ed piece in the Washington Post saying there were "huge shortcomings" in the White House view of the strategy in Iraq.

"What I found in discussions with current and former members of this administration," wrote Sheehan, "is that there is no agreed upon strategic view of the Iraq problem or the region."

Lute is a widely respected officer, but is by no means a high-profile player in Washington. Before assuming his position at the Pentagon, he was the director of operations for Central Command while Gen. John Abizaid was the commander.

A West Point graduate who holds a masters degree from Harvard University, Lute also fought in Operation Desert Storm in the 1991 Gulf War.

Lute must gain congressional approval before he can assume the position. He'll likely have two deputies -- one for policy (a civilian), one for implementation (an officer).

In addition to the four generals the position was also turned down by Cap'n Crunch, Commander Chaos, and TV show host Mike Rowe

Good luck General Lute. You're going to need it.

Jerry Falwell Dead at Age 73

Television Evangelist Falwell Dies at 73

By SUE LINDSEYThe Associated Press
Tuesday, May 15, 2007; 2:21 PM

LYNCHBURG, Va. -- The Rev. Jerry Falwell, the television evangelist who founded the Moral Majority and used it to mold the religious right into a political force, died Tuesday shortly after being found unconscious in his office at Liberty University. He was 73.

Ron Godwin, the university's executive vice president, said Falwell, 73, was found unresponsive late Tuesday morning and taken to Lynchburg General Hospital, where he was pronounced dead about an hour later. more

No matter what your opinion of Falwell is you have to admit he changed the political landscape of America.

Fame, Fortune, and Maybe Even Power 2.0

Bear with me here, I'll get to the political crap eventually....

I was visting Jonathan Coulton's blog earlier and he scored a write up in the NY Times. If you're not familiar with Mr. Coulton hang with me while I bring you up to speed. Mr. Coulton left his programming job to pursue music which he then made available on the internet via podcast for free. He turned out 1 song a week for a year (that's five albums) most of which were originals and allowed his fans to muck around them however they saw fit (according to CC licensing) resulting in multiple videos for certain songs which were distributed via YouTube. Fans opted to buy songs, listen to songs and then donate to Mr. Coulton, and many listeners paid him jack. However he managed to make a living off of voluntary purchases/donations to an average of 4 grand a month.

How did he manage it? By interacting over the web with his fan base over the web via his blog, forums, MySpace, and email. Now I like some of his songs but he's no Mozart. His strength lies in catchy rhythms and melodies, good although often odd subject matter (monkeys, mad scientists, robots, and the difficulties of becoming a parent), and an honest sounding voice.

If you'll check out the Times article you'll find out that he just one of several artists that have manged this. (He's just the only one that quit his job before the model was tested.)

Now given those results I'm left wondering how long it will be before a mayor, state congressman or federal congressman manages to pull out a victory using a similar model ie spending six hours a day answering emails and blog/MySpace comments. Admittedly the demographics of the area would have to be right but if one had that they could theoretically fund raise and interact daily with their future constituents thereby bridging the gap between elected official and voter. After all the Netroots have already proven what a fund raising machine the interwebnetthingy can be.

With online services that allow for blog posts, text messages, and emails to be sent to cell phones one could theoretically be plugged into ones city or district 24/7. And as the old beltway guard gives way to a new generation of political newcomers the possibilities on a local or district level become endless like oh say fund raising without donations from special interests or corporate sponsors. The question is who is going to be the first to explore the possibilities of digital democracy to it fullest extent?

Now back to Mr. Coulton. I hereby award him the Crapomatic Institute's coveted Golden Cajones Award for taking an incalcuable risk and succeeding. And if you happen to run for office using a similiar model drop me a line. I'll cover the race and you'll be the prime nominee for the same award.

You can listen to all of Mr. Coulton's Songs here

I advise listening to "You Ruined Everything" first, "Code Monkey" second, and if you appreciate dark comedy "Skullcrusher Mountain" third.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Newt Gingrich to Run?

From ABC:
Gingrich Says There Is a 'Great Possibility' He Will Run for President

May 14, 2007

Newt Gingrich for president? It could happen.

In an interview with Diane Sawyer on "Good Morning America," the former Republican speaker of the House said there was a "great possibility" that he would run for president.

He will make that decision sometime in the fall. Sawyer noted that previously Gingrich had only said he was "thinking about" a run for president.

"You said you'll make a decision at the end of the September,{is it} more likely, less likely this morning? Sawyer asked Gingrich.

"I think right now, it is a great possibility," Gingrich said. more

In the interest of full disclosure allow me to say this; I dislike Newt Gingrich more than any former American politician currently alive. I have difficulty referring to him without prefacing his name with "that piece of @#%$" But I'll try to be objective here.

Either he's just trying to stay in the limelight or he's gone bonkers. He has waaaay to much immoral baggage to ever be the president. Case in point from

"The most notorious incident in Gingrich's marriage -- first reported by David Osborne in Mother Jones magazine in 1984 -- was when he cornered Jackie in her hospital room where she was recovering from uterine cancer surgery and insisted on discussing the terms of the divorce he was seeking.

Shortly after that infamous encounter, Gingrich refused to pay his alimony and child-support payments. The First Baptist Church in his hometown had to take up a collection to support the family Gingrich had deserted.

Six months after divorcing Jackie, Gingrich married a younger woman, Marianne, with whom he had been having an affair. They are still married, despite persistent (though unproven) rumors that Gingrich has had other dalliances." full article

(This was also covered in The Atlanta Journal - Constitution but it's in their archives which you have to pay for. )

I don't dislike him for political reasons. I dislike him because he's a hypocritical low life and a sorry excuse for a man.

If he runs it's either because he's nuts or thinks so little of the public's intelligence and values that he believes he actually has a chance. And in the highly unlikely event that he wins I'm going to have to start seriously considering the conspiracy theorists claims that either the government or aliens are putting mind control drugs in the water.

That's A Lot Of Turks.

This is important. Remember this when you hear that Islam is incapable of moderation:

IZMIR, Turkey - Choking the highways and crammed onto ferries, hundreds of thousands of Turks streamed into this port city on Sunday in an enormous show of opposition to the pro-Islamic ruling party, saying it threatened to destroy the country’s modern foundations.

Some 1.5 million protesters carried anti-government banners, red-and-white Turkish flags and pictures of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, who founded the secular republic in 1923. Turkish flags hung from balconies and windows, as well as buses and fishing boats and yachts bobbing in Izmir’s bay.

“I am here to defend my country,” said Yuksel Uysal, a teacher. “I am here to defend Ataturk’s revolution.”

I've read enough of the Quran, and enough about the Quran, to have an idea of some of the quotes and sections that terrify westerners, including me. The Quran is savage in parts. So is the Bible. The Quran lacks some of the softening gentleness of the New Testament, and it draws harsh distinctions between believers and non-believers....

Read the rest at Sideways Mencken

Pakistani, Afghan troops clash at border

From the AP:

By SADAQAT JAN, Associated Press WriterSun May 13, 3:06 PM ET

Pakistani and Afghan forces exchanged fire at their rugged border Sunday in their most serious skirmish in years. Pakistan claimed it killed five Afghan soldiers, but Afghanistan said just two Afghan civilians were killed.

Tension has been running high between Afghanistan and Pakistan, both key U.S. allies, over controlling their 1,510-mile shared border and stemming the flow of Taliban and al-Qaida militants that stage cross-border attacks inside Afghanistan. Pakistan's move to fence parts of the disputed frontier has also angered Afghanistan.

Pakistan army spokesman Maj. Gen. Waheed Arshad accused the Afghan army of firing first at Pakistani border posts: "This was unprovoked and without any reason."

A Pakistan military statement said its troops returned fire and five Afghan soldiers were killed.

On the Afghan side, Defense Ministry spokesman Gen. Mohammad Zahir Azimi accused Pakistani forces of crossing more than a mile into Afghanistan's Paktia province.

"Border police tried to stopped them, and the Pakistani army started firing heavy weapons toward the Afghan forces," he said.

Two students were killed, he said.

Paktia Gov. Rahmatullah Rahmat said the Afghan forces fired in self-defense after the Pakistani soldiers launched artillery rounds and troops on foot attacked a border security post Sunday morning in the province's Jaji district.

"The Pakistanis launched artillery, shot their guns, and they left behind civilian casualties in the area. It is a clear violation — crossing the border to attack Afghanistan," Rahmat said.

Azimi claimed that thousands of locals joined the Afghan forces after the clash, which he described as the worst in years between the two countries.

Pakistan later denied its forces had entered Afghan territory or that they had hit civilian targets. Pakistan also complained that Afghan forces had fired on a NATO helicopter in the area. NATO officials in Kabul could not be reached for comment.

Afghanistan accuses the government in Islamabad of harboring and helping supporters of the former Taliban regime ousted in late 2001, which Pakistan denies.

The friction between Karzai and Musharraf has been well publicized however this is this first time our allies have traded gunfire. The question is this attributable to Pakistani regulars or militia supposedly under Musharraf's control. After all Musharraf ceded that portion of the country to tribal authority over six months ago.

Taliban Military Leader Is Killed

From the WaPo:

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan, May 13 -- Mullah Dadullah was the face of the Taliban movement in Afghanistan as it used suicide bombings, videotaped beheadings and targeted assassinations to escalate its insurgent campaign over the past two years.

Dadullah periodically turned up on television to taunt the Afghan government and U.S.-led international forces with threats of ever more ambitious attacks.

On Sunday, his face was on display again, resting on a pink sheet, bloody and lifeless. A bullet hole was visible in the back of his head, with two more piercings in his stomach.

Dadullah, the Taliban's top operational commander, was killed Saturday after U.S.-led troops and Afghan forces tracked him down and surrounded him in southern Afghanistan, according to Afghan and international security officials.

His death was hailed by those officials as a critical victory in the fight against the Taliban at a time when the extremist Islamic movement has destabilized large portions of the country through Dadullah's uncompromising approach to warfare.

"We fully expect Mullah Dadullah will be replaced in time, but for now the insurgency has received a serious blow," said Maj. John Thomas, a spokesman for the NATO-led force that patrols Afghanistan and that supported U.S.-led operations against Dadullah.

Thomas described Dadullah as "the top person in our scope in Afghanistan that we were interested in removing."

It was unclear who would replace Dadullah. Another top leader, Akhter Mohammed Osmani, was killed in December, and a third, Obaidullah Akhund, was captured in February. Although the group's overall leader, Mohammad Omar, remains at large, he is believed to play a lesser role in the organization's military operations.

A Taliban spokesman denied that Dadullah had been killed, but witnesses who inspected the body as it lay at the governor's palace in the southern city of Kandahar on Sunday identified it as Dadullah's, based on distinctive facial features and a missing left leg. More

Good going! Between this and the two Al Qaeda in Iraq leaders all being taken out in the past two weeks I'd say we're having a heck of a month.

So good in fact that if I were more suspicious or prone to being conspiratorial I'd say that they had been keeping the bodies on ice until support for the war fell to an all time low .....

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Study: Drinking at Home Reduces Teen Bingeing

From The BBC:
Drinking at home 'cuts bingeing'

Teenagers who drink alcohol with their parents in moderation are less likely to binge drink, research suggests.

The study also said that parents who do not want their children to drink behind their backs should limit their pocket money to less than £10 a week.

The study, led by Liverpool John Moores University, was based on responses from more than 10,000 15 and 16-year-olds.

Almost 90% admitted to drinking alcohol, of which 38% binged, 24% drank frequently and 50% drank in public.

The study also found a third of respondents bought their own alcohol, and those that did were six times more likely to drink in public, and twice as likely to binge than those who had alcohol bought for them. more

I love it when science confirms things I already believe.

In college conversations about drinking are common place. One thing I noticed over the course of those talk is those that were permitted to have a glass of wine when dining out and a little liqueur on holidays or at parties (usually they were around thirteen when this started) drank less on average than those that didn't. My theory on this simple. Once something ceases to be taboo it becomes less interesting. By removing the taboo on alcohol it is less likely to become a tool used in the standard rebellion against parental values.

I still haven't figured out how to apply the taboo removal rule to sex and drugs but as soon as I do you'll be the fourth to know.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Food for Thought

A good interview with Reza Aslan author of a history of Islam entitled " No god but God" in which he brings up a few really good points about our handling of Iran.