Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy New Year!

Eugene Robinson
E J Dionne Jr
Gail Collins

"Much of the contention surrounding Barack Obama's presidency is simply a continuation of our argument over the effects of George W. Bush's time in office." - E J Dionne Jr

"No matter how difficult the issue, Obama has been sensible, deliberative. Just look at Dick Cheney swooping around like a dementor from Harry Potter, and you have to appreciate how much things have improved." - Gail Collins

That full moon you see tonight, if you are not too drunk, is a blue moon, or the second full moon in a month, which happens about every 2 1/2 years. This picture was taken in Nairobi, Kenya...

Has this been a good year, or even a good decade? If you are a conservative Bush supporter, this last year has been frustrating because Barack Obama is systematically changing all of the progress made over the last decade by conservatives. If you are a more liberal supporter of Obama, this has been a frustrating year because the conservatives keep trying to put a monkey wrench in each change, hampering any progress being made from the destructive policies made over the last decade. And if you are a moderate like myself, this year has alternately been entertaining, watching both extremes attack each other over the most minute and arcane processes, and frustrating because both extremes don't seem to have enough sense to keep their underwear clean, they keep reaching back and flinging their feces at each other and you are caught in between...

And if you are a right wing extremist, then nothing will ever make you happy because you live a depressed life and nothing that changes externally can make you happy. All of the tea bags in China taped to your forehead cannot hide your secret desire to just blow everything up. Yes, you are our hidden suicide bombers, our American Taliban, and you have the very same mentality that the depressed and angry suicide bombers in the Middle East come from. I'm waiting for the announced candidacy of the joint ticket of Orly Taitz and Joe the Plumber...

To get an early celebration for the New Year, two Grad-type rockets were fired from the Gaza Strip into Israel. This is the first time since last winter that rockets of this type have been launched. Usually they have been firing mortar rounds that explode harmlessly in the desert, and they traditionally fire them from the rooftops of crowded apartment buildings to avoid immediate retaliation. Maybe these are just Hamas's idea of fireworks? Maybe we could smuggle a couple of cases of sparklers to them, to use instead...

'Being Lectured By Cheney On Terrorism Is Like Being Lectured On Fidelity By Tiger Woods' - Roy Sekoff

"You know who had a great year in 2009? Wall Street bankers — they had a bailout and still get bonuses. So there's a lesson here: In America it's better to be a fat cat than a horny tiger." –Jay Len

The US Court of Appeals has ruled that using tasers by the police on an unarmed person who poses no threat can be seen as excessive use of force.

As predicted, there is way too much coverage about Yemen being a haven for al Qaeda training camps. The CIA has been operating in Yemen for over 5 years and any training camps are well known and documented. The American born Mullah who is being characterized as a radical and living in Yemen is probably a CIA asset and all of this publicity helps create his character so he can dig in deeper into the terrorist groups.

All it would have taken to not have allowed the Undie Bomber from boarding any plane to the US, was some NSA official to have flagged the word Nigeria four months ago when they intercepted conversations in Yemen about using a Nigerian for another plane bomb. Then, if they had shared that flag with other countries, Britain would have told us about their banning a Nigerian student from entering the UK, we would have had a name to enter onto the no-fly list, and voila! Terroist plot averted... But first, we have to fire 3/4 of the individuals who were hired by the Bush administration because they are stupid and couldn't connect the dots if you held their hand...


Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Rant On Dick Cheney, I Want to be a Pirate

Lekan Oguntoyunbo

Michael Crowley
Dan Gerstein

"For many of the estimated 1 million Nigerians living in this country, a number of whom are enterprising and highly skilled workers, the incident tarnishes an image already soiled by a reputation for narcotics smuggling and Internet fraud." - Lekan Oguntouinbo
"But 2009 was such a miserable slog, with infinitely more embarrassing than ennobling moments in Washington, that I soon realized that I had nothing much constructive to add." - Dan Gerstein

nigerian scam...

Where some people saw the attempted bomb on the Detroit-bound plane as an act of terror, (the "war on terror" is becoming such an over-used phrase that it is quickly "joining weapons of mass destruction" as having no meaning in the real world), others see it as an opportunity to further their political career and turn it into a fundraising gesture. The top GOP member on the House Intelligence Committee, Pete Hoekstra, is the man who would be Governor of Michigan. Click on his name for the link to the full letter. Part of his letter goes like this: "Shockingly, yesterday morning, Barack Obama's Homeland Security Secretary went on TV and said 'the system worked'! They just don't get it. The system didn't
'work' here. Far from it! It is insulting that The Obama administration would make such a claim, but then again, these are the same weak-kneed liberals who have recently tried to bring Guantanamo Bay terrorists right here to Michigan!" the letter reads. "My promise to you, as your governor, my first duty and most solemn responsibility is to keep Michigan safe!"
"If you agree that we need a Governor who will stand up the Obama/Pelosi efforts to weaken our security please make a most generous contribution of $25, $50, $100 or even $250 to my campaign."

Mr Hoekstra is the Congressman, along with Jim DeMint, who claimed to have found the dreaded weapons of mass destruction, and held a press conference to tell us that. My impression is that the Republican head of the Intelligence Committee is not very intelligent, but has a knack for exploiting potential tragedy. He is someone who, hopefully come next election, will be voted out of politics, where he can then register as a lobbyist...

tipping wheelchairs...

One of the oldest and worn out tactics the GOP has used for over 30 years, is using the John Wayne Syndrome. It's making the GOP candidates out to be tough guys who are more patriotic than you will ever be and take no guff from any foreigners. Their opponents, in this case the Obama administration, are wimps who can't grasp the seriousness of events that pull their triggers. Think of it as part of Dick Cheney's mental makeup as he shoots a good friend in the face...

Predictably, Mr Cheney hurried to be in front of a camera yesterday to blast Obama as not being serious about the war on terror: “[W]e are at war and when President Obama pretends we aren’t, it makes us less safe,” Cheney said in a statement to POLITICO. “Why doesn’t he want to admit we’re at war? It doesn’t fit with the view of the world he brought with him to the Oval Office. It doesn’t fit with what seems to be the goal of his presidency — social transformation — the restructuring of American society. President Obama’s first object and his highest responsibility must be to defend us against an enemy that knows we are at war."

Well Dick, I thought that's exactly what he's been doing since he took over the crappy wars you started. Got any good ideas about how to end them? I'm getting really tired of every dumbass who never took responsibility for his own actions when he was in office becoming such a petty attack weasel and never offering one constructive idea since he left office. How many wounded soldiers have you or Bush or Rumsfeld visited since you've left office? We know that Karl has been too busy with his divorce to be helpful, so I'm waiting for your daughter Liz to come to your defense and tell us what a great person you really are, and she's only finished editing chapter two...

Which reminds me of my favorite bit of doggerel I wrote in an earlier post in homage to Dick Cheney and his tendency to only accept information if it has been tortured from someone. It's the closest thing I have to a greatest hit from 2009. Again, my apologies from Dr Seuss:

Would you put a prisoner in a box
Beat his feet, bloody his socks?

Or strip him naked to prance all day
Not let him sleep, or kneel to pray

Oh, I don't like these interrogators said Sam
For they make me eat green eggs and ham

People were angry at the Bush administration because they made stupid policy decisions and demonstrated that right wing conservatism did not govern well. When Republicans ruled Congress as a majority they had no favor towards any Democratic ideas and would kill any Democratic legislation.

Now that a more intelligent, analytical person is President who is willing to work on a bi-partisan basis, the Republicans want no part of it and do anything they can think of to be mean, vindictive, and obstructionist. Moderates are bullied to adhere to a dysfunctional conservative party line. This next year is going to be more of the same, all destructive invective, and offering nothing constructive, expecting us to go along and vote more conservatives into office because of this strategy, which they are quite proud of. I predict that I will be grumpier next year, and hopefully don't end up repeating myself too often...

best job in 2009...

Apparently the only job that had successful dividends last year was if you were a pirate. No, not just the Wall Street kind, but the good old-fashioned Somali pirate, who ply the seas off the coast of their country and the Gulf of Aden. "In 2008, according to the maritime bureau, 111 ships were attacked in the region, a figure that itself represented a 200 percent increase from 2007." With the money earned from holding crews for ransom, the pirates were able to buy better, faster attack boats and weapons. Then, this year they: "had attacked 214 vessels so far this year, resulting in 47 hijackings. Twelve of those ships, with a total of 263 crew members, are currently being held for ransom by the pirates."

They still capture ships despite warships patrolling the Gulf from the European Union, Russia, the US, and many other countries. The ship owners are alarmed at the increase in hijacking, but they would rather not have armed guards on their ships. Sea tradition and all that... The crews seem to be treated well despite the limited diet they are offered in captivity, and even now: “We’ve seen photographs of crew members taking pictures of pirates while they’re attacking." Makes for a good tale to tell at the bars or to your grandchildren... Somali pirates? Why, we had lunch together...

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

How The Undie Bomber Actually Could Have Been Stopped, Relaunching Middle East Peace

Glen Greenwald
Eugene Robinson

"If you count our occupation of Iraq, our twice-escalated war in Afghanistan, our rapidly escalating bombing campaigns in Pakistan and Yemen, and various forms of covert war involvement in Somalia, one could reasonably say that we're fighting five different wars in Muslim countries" - Glen Greenwald

Every paper and website has at least one article on the attempted bomb plot on Christmas Day, involving a lonely, alienated young Nigerian now dubbed the Undie Bomber. Even on this subject, the GOP is trying to attack the Obama administration, like sharks they only know how to move forward and devour. The other subject is how the airport officials can combat all possibilities of homemade bombs, so that they are not always playing catch up. Besides of having someone now put their hand down your crotch to see what exactly you are packing, we haven't come up with a decent high tech solution... Thank God nobody has developed a chemical, that after its ingested, produces poisonous farts that can kill all enclosed passengers...

The most glaring question was why wasn't Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab on the American no-fly list? Homeland Security will no doubt upgrade all 500,000 people on its watch list to the no-fly list, but that is the laziest way to do it. Abdumutallab was on Britain's no-fly list, for lying about the reason why he wanted his student visa renewed, All that's needed is for an entity like Interpol to keep the records collectively for the European Union and to co-ordinate with the US on a regular basis to keep the records up to date. But that means actaully sharing information, something that any country with an intelligence service is loath to do. This alone could have kept the young man from boarding a flight to the US.

The two weakest points in the security fence was where he boarded one plane in Lagos, Nigeria, and the other plane in Amsterdam. Nigeria is plagued with extreme Islamic groups of their own, the most recent clash happened yesterday: "Fighting between Islamic militants and security forces in northern Nigeria left at least 38 people dead as sect members armed with spears, knives, assault rifles and arrows ransacked a neighborhood and set homes ablaze,.. Nigeria, a country of about 150 million people, is almost split between Muslims in the north and Christians in the south. Religious violence is sometimes sparked by local disputes and politics, rather than international influences." So, places like Nigeria will remain vulnerable and the weakest link in the fence.

Also, young Umar took a plane from Lagos, not Yemen, which means that he was in his home country for awhile, probably at home with his father. If his father was so worried about his son's extremist views, why didn't he re-notify authorities that his son was on his way to Amsterdam? Oh, the day before Christmas would have worked...

Amsterdam is one of the busiest airports in the world. They have about 20 of the latest high tech body scanners that work with radio waves and can detect the tiniest bit of sweat, but there is no way of knowing if one was used on Abdulmutallab or not. Evidently, the current practice is that they are not required on everybody, passing through them is optional! But this is where the hypodermic needle at least should have been discovered and where the focus of security lapse should be directed.

Last, so far all of the bomb attempts have been pretty low tech. What we need is a group of people to come up with as many variations that they can think of, the many ways that drug smugglers use humans as mules to take drugs on planes and across borders as an example, and to actually try to test our security measures by attempting to smuggle themselves onto planes. Similar to how the military tests their security for top secret installations.

restarting the peace process...

The right wing zealot Benjamin Netanyahu is visiting Cairo, Egypt. to talk with Mutubarak about ways to begin peace talks again with Palestine. This is a paving of the way for the new tactic the Obama administration will try to set things in motion:"The US administration of Barack Obama is said to be drafting letters of guarantee for Israel and the Palestinians to serve as a basis for the relaunch of peace talks, stalled for almost a year.

"The mere fact of Mubarak meeting Netanyahu in Egypt is in and of itself an instrument of pressure on Mahmoud Abbas [the Palestinian president]. We've been hearing increasing reports that the Americans may be about to unveil a new diplomatic initiative," Mouin Rabbani, a senior fellow at the Institute of Palestinian Studies, told Al Jazeera.

"The mere fact of Mubarak meeting Netanyahu in Egypt is in and of itself an instrument of pressure on Mahmoud Abbas [the Palestinian president] to accept whatever conditions the Americans may be putting forth. The message that is coming from the Egyptian leadership now is that what the Americans are going to propose is good enough for the most important Arab state and therefore it should be good enough for the Palestinian leadership," he said."

The problems both countries are currently having contributes to destabilizing any serious talks, Netanyahu started a 10 month moratorium on bulding new houses in the West Bank, but committed to building 700 new houses in East Jeruslaem, the Arab part of the city. Egypt has recently been caught putting in steel fences along its border with Gaza, in an obvious attempt to seal off the smuggling tunnels, which is the only way to bring goods into the Gaza Strip, and yes, guns and people are smuggled in, too.

Since Israel has pretty much left Gaza to rot after bombing the crap out of the place, keeping its embargo up and not letting building materials in, what Egypt should be doing is opening its side of the border up, or at least the border crossing so that trade can come across. As long as Israel and the Palestinians treat each other like jilted, acrimonious lovers, and refuse to respect the other, then any peace process will fail again, be absorbed as quickly as rain in the desert sand.

 Well, I guess we'll have to wait and see until George Mitchell makes his next round of visits for those letters to be passed out, hope for something more than excuses and photo ops. Everyone wants the same thing by now, they are just stuck on how to get the truck out of the ditch and back running on the lonesome road.

ahmadinejad blithers...

I can't believe the gall of Iran's fake President, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. After the fiascal of his goverment committing violence on a holy day, he should have just kept his mouth shut and gone about business in a low profile. But that is not his style, and today he had to loudly insert his foot into his mouth. First, he blamed the British for causing the protests, mainly because of the reporting by the BBC. Then, he seems to be accusing everyone else he can think of: "Iranians have seen lots of these games," the president was quoted by state news agency IRNA as saying. Americans and Zionists are the sole audience of a play they have commissioned and sold out. A nauseating play is performed."

Ahmadinejad also condemned comments made by U.S. President Barack Obama and the British government, who have lashed out over Iran's crackdown on protesters.

"We have advised them repeatedly but if looks as if they insist on being humiliated, we are sure they will be humiliated more than their predecessors," he said."

Meanwhile, his flunkies in the Parliament have asked for the death penalty for those 300 or so who were arrested. I don't know how he thinks we are being humiliated, but he is proving that he and his cronies sure don't know how to run a country. Iran is making China and North Korea look like liberals where human rights are concerned... Of course, he was making a reference that he somehow humiliated George Bush on the political level and now he is about to whammy Obama... I know that many of our Congressmen here are whacked out on prescription medication and it causes them to make erratic statements, so that makes me wonder just what this man is taking to make him sound so insane?

Monday, December 28, 2009

Iran Govt Stealing Cadavers, Twitter Reaction, Beauty in Rio's Jails

Paul Krugman
Jorge Castenada
Asif Ali Zardari

"What was truly impressive about the decade past, however, was our unwillingness, as a nation, to learn from our mistakes." - Paul Krugman
"For the first time in centuries, the United States doesn’t seem to care much what happens in Latin America... But since George H.W. Bush’s invasion of Panama, there have been no unilateral military interventions, no coup plots or new embargoes, not even the propping up of decaying regimes." - Jorge Castenada
"Benazir's murderers didn't kill her dreams. On the day we buried her, even as her supporters cried out for revenge, we reminded our party and country that, in her own words, "democracy is the greatest revenge." - Asif Ali Zardari

In the links above, the most stirring and heart felt is the opinion piece by Asif Ali Zardari, the President of Pakistan. It's really addressed to the Pakistani people even though it was printed in a foreign press.

The creepiest news story, of course, comes out of Iran, concerning authorities stealing the cadaver of Ali Mousavi, the nephew of opposition candidate Mir Mousavi: "Reza Mousavi said Monday that the body of his brother, Ali Mousavi, was taken overnight from a Teheran hospital and that nobody had accepted "responsibility" for removing the corpse. Authorities were possibly seeking to deter mourners from organizing more protests around the funeral."

Yesterday it was reported that Ali was run over by an SUV when he was outside of his house, then men left the SUV, walked over to the fallen man, and one shot him in the heart. Pretty much a pre-meditated assassination... When the police arrived to take the body to the hospital, they told his family not to have a funeral for him.

To make sure there would be no funeral for Ali, and spur further protesting, his body was removed from the hospital last night. Officials are publically scratching their heads and saying "Gee, how could that happen?" and when that didn't work, the police later said that the body was being retained for forensic examination. Mir Mousavi had three of his aides arrested, and aides to other opposition figures were detained as well... Next we will see the cancelations of all future elections due to the violent protests, where both sides point to their own being murdered. The difference here being that the police had guns, and the protesters fought back against those with batons and chains by throwing rocks and using their bare fists...
"We’re getting into the final stage of the confrontation and the ruling clique is waving all pretences of respect to faith, tradition, and memory goodbye. Muharram is a month of truce so the authorities in Iran are violating everything." - Randjbar Daemi

too old to twitter...

I don't own a Blackberry or a cell phone to text on, figuring that I was too old to enjoy life in such short bursts. I do belong to Facebook, haven't figured out yet how to get my blog on there. Anyway, I'm surprised that politicians like Sarah Palin and John McCain use these social networks to further their agenda. OK, for members of Congress, it's all new to them and they are like children, texting during meetings and while on the floor of Congress listening to other's speechifying... I don't know if people like John McCain sending out texts on the Twitter wire is because he's too lazy to give a regular press conference, or he then alerts the news to his pithy sayings: "Violence in Iran continues... Where is the Administration? We must stand up for the Iranian people." This is the man who last year stated that we are all Georgians now in response to the skirmish between Georgia and Russia. Wisely, President Obama is keeping out of the events happening in Iran that don't have to do with their nuclear developments. It is their struggle and we would only hurt the movement by taking sides in public... In a related story, Israel has stated that they might not be able to bomb the Iranian nuclear enrichment site at Qom because it's buried beneath too many layers of bomb-busting bunkers...

rio is ready for the olympics...
It was a hard choice, write about Charlie Sheen's arrest and his violent, drunken wife, the two new bank robberies in Denver, or get to the good stuff about the overcrowding in Rio de Janeiro's jails, worse than any American jail: "The number of people being held in custody awaiting trial has almost quadrupled over the last decade. This has massively stretched the capacity of the already overcrowded Brazilian penal system.

In Rio, more than 4,000 people are now being held in 17 police lock-ups or improvised detention centres. These lack even the most basic hygiene and ventilation.
In the Polinter de Neves station, 800 men are squeezed into 10 small cells in a low ceilinged building, originally built as a stable for police horses."

As the city cleans the streets of petty criminals for the upcoming Olympics, the situation will get much worse, just giving you a couple of year's heads up...

Meanwhile, they are rehabilitating like mad at the all-women's prison, teaching them how to play drums for Carnaval and having beauty pageants: "Meanwhile prisoners in evening gowns are strutting down a red catwalk as a sound system belts out pop anthems and funk music. Dione Normando Pires is crowned Miss TB (Talavera Bruce) and presented with her prize - a television set.

Simone Vilela, the governor of the prison, says that the projects boost the women's self esteem.
"These teach them important lessons which can help outside the prison walls," she says. "They understand the value of teamwork and they learn how to set themselves goals and how to strive for them." I wonder what kind of prison tattoos you would get for winning something like this, certainly more fun than making license plates or picking up trash by the side of the road...

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Nigerian Christmas Card, Sunday Bloody Sunday

Ronald Asmus
Raj Kamal & Karim Pakravan
Mohammed Bazzi

The Christmas Terrorist
Peter Slevin
Jay Solomon and friends
Gerald Posner

Incredible as it seems, al Qaeda had a Nigerian Christmas card being delivered to Detroit.: "A 23-year-old Nigerian man who claimed ties to al-Qaeda was charged Saturday with trying to destroy a Detroit-bound airliner, about a month after his father warned U.S. officials of concerns about his son's religious beliefs.
The suspect in the Christmas Day attack, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, claimed to have received training and instructions from al-Qaeda operatives in Yemen, a law enforcement official said on the condition of anonymity because the investigation is ongoing.
U.S. Rep. Jane Harman, D-Calif., chairwoman of a Homeland Security subcommittee, said there were "strong suggestions of a Yemen-al-Qaeda connection and an intent to blow up the plane over U.S. airspace."

An account given to CNN by one of the men who took the burning device from Abdulmutallab's lap said: "Jasper Schuringa, a Dutch man who was sitting behind him, was one of the passengers and crew members praised for banding together to stop the suspect after first hearing a sound like firecrackers.
Schuringa said he saw smoke and flames billowing from the suspect's lap and lunged onto Abdulmutallab's seat to take a burning object he was holding between his legs.

"When I saw the suspect he was getting on fire and I freaked of course, and without any hesitation jumped over the seats and jumped to the suspect because I was thinking, like, he's trying to blow up the plane," he told the CNN news channel. "I pulled the object from him and tried to extinguish the fire with my hands and threw it away," he said.

As the cabin filled with smoke, Schuringa and crew dragged the suspect to the front and contained him, while others put out the fire. "We took him to first class and there we stripped him and contained him with handcuffs and made sure he had no more weapons or bombs on him," Schuringa said."

A federal judge this morning read charges to Abdulmutallab, who was in a wheelchair. He confessed to the FBI that he got the materials from al Qaeda in Yemen. But he also told them he only was in contact with the Yemeni leader over the Internet, so who knows if he really has gone there to train or if it's all a fantasy in his head. If he was a dedicated, trained terrorist, they sure aren't turning them out like they used to, and 256 passengers can thank god that he just burned the crap out of his legs instead of blowing a hole through the plane. If he is a deranged young man who pieced the parts together from instructions over the Internet, then we can thank god that, despite his college education, he wasn't the brightest sparkler in the box...

The real breach of security happened in Lagos, Nigeria, where he boarded the plane with the bomb components, the dry elements strapped to his legs, and a syringe full of liquid chemicals. He was also able to slip through security in Amsterdam, switching planes for the US.

The US would like to link him to Yemen, as it bolsters their supporting the Yemeni government with warships, and sending drones in a recent attack on an al Qaeda training camp. Then they can send more military support even though the Saudis have claimed victory over the rebel Houthis. Putting down one dictatorial rebel group and bolstering another dictatorial government in Yemen helps stabilize the region and further world peace.

And it seems there is going to be no rest for the crew of flight 253: , The A.P. rep"... the same flight involved in Friday’s terrorism attempt — requested emergency assistance Sunday upon landing in Detroit, an airport spokesman said. The crew had requested police assistance on the ground because another passenger was “verbally disruptive.”The Associated Press reported that the passenger in question was a man from Nigeria, the same country of suspect in Friday’s terrorism attempt. The second Nigerian man was taken into custody after locking himself in the airliner’s lavatory... the man had locked himself in the lavatory for such a long time that the crew requested help on the ground." So, either this man was preparing another concoction, or was trying to flush what he had down the toilet before landing, or the whole incident just made him very excited... Do you think those Nigerians are any better at terrorism than they are in promoting Internet scams?

I'm waiting to see an article on the relationship of hip-hop gangsta rap to the radicalization of foreign and domestic Muslim youth...

sunday, bloody sunday...

I wish I hadn't been so prophetic, but there is blood flowing in the streets of North Tehran, and hospitals are filling up with protesters who have been shot. The police and Basiji have gone amuk, further alienating those who were previously neutral. The anti-government protesters are mixing in with hundreds of thousands who are trying to commemorate the most important religious holiday to a Shiite Muslim. Instead of a religious time of atonement, they have created a real martyr by killing: "Ali Moussavi, the 35-year-old nephew of Mir Hussein Moussavi of one of the opposition leaders. For Shiite Muslims, "Ashura marks the martyrdom of Imam Hussein, the grandson of the Prophet Muhammad, who was killed by the caliph Yazid... No religious person would accept the killing of Muslims on this day. Now with the killing of Mir Hussein’s nephew, Mir Hussein is Imam Hossein and Khameni is Yazid in the minds of many people.”

For up to the minute reporting, go to the lede blog from the NY Times.

There were four confirmed dead in Tehran, with reports of more in other cities: "Ahmad Reza Radan, Iran's deputy police chief, also said that 300 protesters had been arrested following the violence.

"In the incident several people were killed. One fell off a bridge, two died in car accidents and one was killed by a bullet," Radan said. Referring to the person shot dead, he said: "As the police was not using firearms this (death) is suspicious and it is being investigated."

It earlier said that four protesters had died in Tehran and protesters chanted angry slogans seeking revenge.

"We will kill those who killed our brothers," it quoted demonstrators as chanting... A general strike has been called for tomorrow. Each new incident is growing more violent, and with each person killed it adds one more martyr in a country that reveres its martyrs. If the Revolutionary Guard had any smarts, it would relinquish control and give it back to the ayatollahs, let them screw things up just as badly for awhile...

I think I need some laughs, here's some late night political jokes:

"President Obama's daughter Sasha says that she already bought her dad's gift. She won't say what it is but she did say, 'It's something he likes.' Which begs the question: How did an 8-year-old get her hands on a carton of Marlboro Lights?" –Conan O'Brien

"Yesterday, President Obama prank-called a Washington radio station, calling himself 'Barry from D.C.' Then, just to mess with him, Obama called Glenn Beck's radio show as 'B. Hussein from Kenya.'" ?" –Conan O'Brien

"Former President Bush is writing his memoirs and he says they will focus on 12 major decisions he made in his life. The weird thing is, 11 of them were made by Dick Cheney." –Conan O'Brien

"According to a recent report, due to the recession, Americans are eating cheap, unhealthy, fatty foods. So apparently, the recession started in 1957." ?" –Conan O'Brien

"Traffic is bad, the holiday with the gridlock. It's like Dick Cheney, all major arteries are clogged." –David Letterman

"Final installment of Things More Fun Than Reading the Sarah Palin Memoir: Driving into a tree, microwaving your head, and getting stabbed in the eye with a carrot." –David Letterman

"Well, it's been a long time coming . . . But tomorrow morning at 8 a.m. is the Senate's big healthcare vote. Which means starting at 5 a.m., me and my buddies will be tailgating in the Senate parking lot." –Jimmy Fallon

"Oh, I love this — did you hear about this? Did you hear about this? Yesterday, President Obama said his wife, Michelle, decided they should not buy each other Christmas gifts this year. Mr. President, if you’re listening, it’s a trap! Listen! She doesn’t mean it. Go shopping. Let me tell you something Mr. President, if you don’t buy her a gift, you better hope health care passes." –Jay Leno

"The wife of Al Qaeda’s second in command is now calling on women to become suicide bombers. To qualify, they must be able to push a car loaded with explosives, because, as you know, women aren't allowed to drive over there." –Jay Leno

Saturday, December 26, 2009

West Bank Retribution, Drug Money in Laredo, JonBenet Ramsey

Ezra Klein
Leslie Gelb

revenge in the west bank...

Unless the Palestinians and Israelis sit down soon to hammer out a solution for a Palestinian state, or some other form of compromise, violence will escalate, overflowing from the cauldron that is the West Bank and Gaza Strip. While the Christians celebrated a peaceful and even joyous Christmas, those Muslims and Jews threatened to ruin it all.

On Thursday, in the West Bank: "Rabbi Meir Hai, a 45-year-old teacher and father of seven, was shot dead as he drove near his home in the settlement of Shavei Shomron." This prompted separate investigations by the Palestinian Authority and the Israeli Military. The Israelis spent two days gathering information then: "The information gathered led them to three men in the city of Nablus early Saturday. Troops in jeeps descended on their homes and in each case, he said, the suspect was asked to give himself up. None did so, and all were shot dead.

All three, he added, had been involved in anti-Israel violence in the past through activities in the Aksa Martyrs Brigade, a militia associated with the Fatah movement led by Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president. One of them, Annan Sleiman Moustafa Tsubakh, 36, was hiding with two assault rifles, two handguns and ammunition in a crawl space in his house when the Israeli troops found him."

To illustrated the sense of overkill that leads the Israelis to respond overwhelmingly to every incident, three other Palestinians were killed in an unrelated incident that took place along the Gaza border, probably the cement fence: "The killing of the three Palestinians in Gaza occurred when Israeli soldiers guarding the border from inside Israel saw people crawling along the border barrier near the main civilian crossing point. Israel permits no such movement near its border.

The soldiers said they fired warning shots but the three continued to crawl. An Israeli aircraft then shot at the men and killed them, an army spokeswoman said. She added that the army was convinced that the men were planning an attack."

When reporters asked the Palestinian Authority for their response: "Ghassan Katib, spokesman for the Palestinian Authority, said Palestinian security had been investigating the killing when the Israelis interfered. “This is what they do,” he said. “They kill people and then claim they were responsible. Our security forces had begun an investigation into the killing but the Israelis did not coordinate with us.”

Were the Palestinians killed the guilty parties? Who knows? You have to trust what the Israeli military tells you. They do tend to shoot first and make up stories after. This is because they want to present a tough face to the Arab world, don't mess with us, ever... But it will make the bargaining for the Israeli soldier captured by Hamas more difficult, maybe break off further negotiations.

Granted, its been awhile since incidents like these were common, but in the wailing and mourning, a community's grief may translate into escalating tensions. You never know now which passenger on the bus with you may have a bomb, or if the crowd of teenagers you see while walking to the store will attack you or not, if your children will be safe on their way to school. Once again the West Bank resembles Compton, with drive-by shootings and fire bombing of buildings. I wonder if the meth is being supplied to complete my analogy... Once some kind of state is formed will come the even longer process of healing and trying to get along, which will take several generations because it's always the younger generation that sees the prejudices of the older ones as silly and counter-productive, part of an older world that is dying off. It will be interesting to see what the old Muslim and Israeli tea-baggers will look like, and what sordid signs they will come up with...

as I walked out on the streets of Laredo...

So, how's that drug war going against the Mexican cartels? Not so good. Last year the US seized $138 million in cash and product from attempts to smuggle them across the border. But, its estimated that the cartels are making $18 to $39 billion in profit each year. No wonder they are so violently trying to protect their organizations, that is a staggering amount of money. Instead of trying to get the insurance industry to fund my blog, maybe I've been approaching the wrong group, maybe I could get a drug cartel to fund this blog. Then, I would have all ads for medical marijuana and see if anybody want to buy a tanker or two of Mexican oil...

But, I digress. Now that the US has been successful in freezing cartel bank accounts and the more sophisticated way of transferring and laundering money, they are having to find newer ways along with the old, stable ways of smuggling cash back into Mexico: "The streets of Laredo are awash in money, stacks of grimy bills tainted with cocaine residue, wrapped in plastic and stowed in secret compartments built into the trucks, buses and cars that flow south over the Mexican border daily like a motorized river. Soldiers patrolled the streets and searched vehicles for drugs and weapons in Culiacan, Mexico.
Customs officials have discovered a host of ingenious hiding places, from $3 million secreted in the floor of a Mexican passenger bus to $1.6 million stuffed in duffel bags and balanced atop the heads of people wading across the Rio Grande to Mexico."

Just like the cocaine fueled 1970's, when many high class restaurants were bankrolled by sales of white powder, culminating in the failed Delorean experiment, the cartels now are diversifying into many other more honest forms of business: "Law enforcement officials and business owners in Mexico say that the assault on the cartels has driven drug traffickers to branch out into an array of other money-making ventures, setting up businesses like spas and day care centers to launder drug proceeds or selling new products like pirated movies or pilfered oil.

It’s a natural evolution of criminal activity, just as with the mob in the 1950s,” said John Feeley, the deputy chief of mission of the United States Embassy in Mexico City. “They can’t continue to work on one illegal product.” Of course, if we legalized the kinds of drugs they were selling, they would then sell for much cheaper prices, taking away a lot of the profit margin. Then, you risk the violent outlaws becoming the respected businessman, partnering once again with the Mexican government, paying them taxes, and flying across the border in their corporate jets for that conference with AIG or some other Wall Street firm...

jonbenet ramsay...

DNA tests have freed quite a few innocent men from prison, and is transforming the way criminal investigations are performed. There have been new DNA tests performed at the scene of the crime of the JonBenet Ramsey murder, indicating that an unidentified stranger may have been involved.

JonBenet was the little girl whose mother creepily dressed her up like a doll and entered her in children's beauty pageants, which added to the notoriety of the murder. The mother, the father, and the brother were all suspects at one time, but the case remains unresolved. The town of Boulder became obsessed with theories about the case, and everyone dumped on the incompetence of the local sheriff and detectives.
"You really want me to recall my suspicions at the time? Ok, I think you were doing something nasty, your wife found you and in the rage she accidentally killed Jon Benet."   - amalek

So now: "John Ramsey said in a statement Wednesday that he is asking people to share any suspicions they had or recollections of people acting strangely around the time the 6-year-old girl died." 

If you want to read about the possible scenarios of the murder, or see the personality profile generically composed of the suspect, you can go to for more information. They have an email setup, so if you are the killer you can turn yourself in or if you know the guy, who probably is a serial killer, you can turn him in...

“We have very good reason to believe that the individual that committed this crime may have done so in the past and is absolutely capable of hurting someone else”, said (ret) detective Lou Smit who has worked on JonBenét’s case on behalf of law enforcement and independently since 1997. “The criminal community may have its own set of values and principals” added Smit, “but even so, can still come forward with information as there is a code of decency that cannot condone what happened to JonBenét.”

Hopefully, the case can be solved before the poor father dies from grief, guilt, and having to watch his wife wither and die, too. It won't make the pain go away, but there is a sense of peace that comes with closure.
"Too bad OJ's in jail or maybe he could help him find the "real killer." - wadenelson

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas! Slouching Towards a New Year

Eugene Robinson
Dana Milbank

"This morning's vote brings us one step closer to making Ted Kennedy's dream a reality," - Harry Reid
"It's promising that the nation is so passionately engaged in debate about wonkish policy initiatives -- public option vs. Medicare buy-in, carbon tax vs. cap-and-trade. This nation is at its best when it's going somewhere and doing something, not when it's standing still." - Eugene Robinson

Probably the best story on this Christmas Day is that there was a peaceful celebration in Bethlehem this year: "Palestinians and pilgrims from around the world came together in the town to celebrate the event.
Hundreds attended morning mass at St Catherine's Church, in the Church of Nativity complex on Manger Square. About 15,000 tourists are expected to stay in the town during the holiday period."

We think that everyone who lives in Gaza are Hamas supporting Muslims, but that is not the case. The region is much more diverse than the simplified politics we assign there. In fact: "Some 300 Christians over the age of 35 from the Gaza Strip were given permission by the Israeli military to travel to Bethlehem and stay for 24 hours to celebrate Christmas." Of course, its celebrate, then go home, but at least they got to go to Bethlehem, which is much more exciting than sitting here in the snow in Colorado. Maybe Baloon Boy could fly me over, or I could use one of the police helicopters that have been grounded due to budget constraints... All reports have said what a festive atmosphere that permeated the celebrations, and nothing happened like trying to knock over the Pope. Even the Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas attended the midnight Mass...
"This land will deserve to be called holy when she breathes freedom, justice, love, reconciliation, peace and security."

free the bin laden 30...
In the continuing saga of the wandering bin Ladens, who left Afghanistan before the 9/11 attacks in 2001, and went on foot, walking back to Saudi Arabia, a spokesman for the Iranian government acknowledged that the Saudi Embassy told them that a 17 year old daughter, Eman bin Laden, was there. The Iranian government doesn't know how in the world she got there, and if she can verify her identity and get the proper permits, she will be allowed to leave the country. No mention was made of the other 30 bin Ladens, who are being kept in a walled compound outside of Tehran.

The next step was taken by Omar bin Laden, who wrote a book with his mother about the time they lived with Osama. He cleverly has complimented Iran, allowing them to save face and give them a way out of the dilemma: "The Iranian government did not know what to do with this large group of people that nobody else wanted, so they just kept them safe. For that we owe them much gratitude, and thank Iran from the depth of our heart," he said.

He now hopes that the family will be given permission to leave Iran and join his mother, brother and two sisters in Syria, or himself and his wife in Qatar." It remains to be seen if this will have a happy ending or if Iran decides to keeo the family until Osama is found, or al Qaeda is disbanded and no longer poses a threat to them and others...

But it is a welcome distraction from the protests that are continuing inside Iran. Things will get hairy this weekend, and I'm afraid that the repressive forces will just go nuts and start killing the protesters. Instead of becoming an influential player in the region, Iran has become an embarrassment, making the fake president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad look liberal and reasonable in comparison...

health reform passes, now what...
I guess the Republicans can drop their outraged expressions and get down to celebrating in the New Year, taking a deep breath before donning their masks again in time for the next fight. If Obama tries to tackle the jobs situation, what kind of arguments will they come up with to try and shoot down all Democratic ideas? Rush Limbaugh feels that Conservatism is on the uprise, but that will only last until the painkillers wear off. We need people who are able to look at things more creatively in order to come up with solutions, because the job market will still be depressed for several years, people will get more desperate and depressed, and the next time some company on Wall Street is going to fail, we will have to let it fail all on its own.

Over 50 banks failed this last year, and four major oil refineries have shut down. There have been 16 bank robberies in Denver in the last two weeks, and the calls of domestic and child abuse has risen dramatically.

Our older generation of white males are still angry at the government but they can't articulate the reasons why. We may have more incidents like what Gator Taylor did in Virginia" did: "the 53-year-old Tennessee man had been angry at the government for months, even years... so after breakfast at a local eatery and a steak at Applebee's, he pushed his wheelchair through the door of the post office Wednesday afternoon, officials said, slammed what looked like a bomb on the counter and took three people hostage."
"I do think the American citizens and their anger is going to translate into some sort of citizen action." - Rush Limbaugh
"Just over eight hours later, after demanding only a pizza he shared with his captives and a pack of cigarettes for a hostage who smoked, the gunman let them go, wheeled outside in his chair and surrendered...The gunman said he had no money, and his 2007 red Dodge diesel pickup truck was about to be repossessed. Mostly, he railed against the government — high taxes, gun control and President Barack Obama.

During an arraignment Thursday in U.S. District Court in Roanoke on kidnapping and other charges, Taylor said nothing except a brief apology to people in the courtroom.
"I'm sorry I got everybody out on Christmas," he said." Yeah, thanks Rush, and all of you fearmongers out out there, keep on doing what you are doing, but ask yourself this: are you ready for a throwdown?

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Colorado Glowing Brightly, Arms Race 2.0

David Ignatius
Joe Matthews

It seems that I was among the first American bloggers to relate the story that Iran was holding members of the bin Laden family hostage. Now it has been picked up by the newspapers and the media. What they are not saying is that the daughter who escaped and sought refuge in the Saudi Embassy has been there for a month. The timing of the news story by her brother coincides with the beginning of the Shia holy days of Ashura, hoping for some embarrassment and mercy from the Iranian government. Also, by making this public, world opinion is once again brought into play, and by petitioning the United Nations and Amnesty International for help only adds to their case. Pundits inside Saudi Arabia say that it's interesting that with her father directing terrorism at them, she chose the Saudi Embassy for refuge. Her brother, who lives in Qatar and Saudi Arabia, had told her by phone to go to the embassy, and so far there have been no demands for her return: "Abdul Rahman bin Laden said that he had been unaware whether his relatives were alive until Eman contacted him a month ago. He then told her to go to the Saudi embassy." Let's hope the whole family is let go to return to their homeland despite the sins of their father... And if they do, will al Qaeda then launch attacks in Iran as retribution?

colorado glowing brightly...
Just about every time Colorado makes national headlines its over something embarrassing. Of course, the Balloon Boy hoax captured the spotlight the longest, and today's headlines are about the sentencing of Richard Heene and his wife for misleading officials. They get a little jail time, some time being monitored at home, maybe some financial restitution that they won't be able to pay.

The Denver Post has a special section on medical marijuana news, and at my supermarket I picked up my free copy of KUSH, a perfect-bound magazine for Denver's medical marijuana dispensaries. But in the business section of the Post was an even more amazing story. There is a lot of mining here for minerals, including radioactive substances like uranium, and drilling of wells for natural gas. The: "Noble Energy Production is moving forward with plans to drill 78 gas wells at a site south of Rifle where in 1969 an underground atomic bomb was set off in an effort to boost natural-gas production."

Whoa. Some complete idiot in the State of Colorado thought it would be a good idea, based on sound science, to explode an atomic bomb to get to deep pockets of natural gas? And the government went along with it. And the bomb exploded. The deep pockets of natural gas were released, but nobody could use it or sell it because the gas became radioactive with a half-life of about 1,500 years: "The experiment, Project Rulison, did increase natural-gas production — but the gas was not marketable because it was radioactive. The federal Bureau of Land Management and the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission have approved parts of Noble's plan."

Deja vu all over again... Noble Energy has convinced the State and Feds that they are drilling far enough away that they wouldn't tap into the contaminated gas. I assume they have done some exploratory drilling and examined the results. Did the results read completely negative, or was there an acceptable amount of radiation in parts per million? Remember when the John Birch Society said that adding flouride to drinking water was part of a Communist mind-control plot? Does this mean the mind-controllers are back? I guess this way they don't have to add any smell to the gas so folks can tell if there is a leak in their pipes, now they will be able to see it glowing in the dark...

Meanwhile, a bill is passing through Congress that will allow $18.5 billion in loans to build more nuclear reactors. The nuclear industry already has said that it isn't enough, they will need tens of billions more. We already have 104 nuclear reactors working in the US. Currently there are no plans to build any new nuclear plants, so it will be interesting which states will announce they will build one. There is only one place in the US to dump depleted nuclear waste, deep in caves in lucky Nevada, and we can't do what they Europeans used to do - dump their waste off the Somalian coast. Where, oh where will we start putting the next generation of nuclear waste, that won't be habitable for another 1,500 years, give or take a few decades...

arms race 2.0...
After 30 years sanctions were lifted against India buying nuclear equipment, and now it's on a buying spree updating its nuclear arsenal. This has inspired Russia to announce that it, too, is going to update all of its nuclear arms, saying that it is not in conflict with the nuclear arms proliferation treaty it is negotiating with the US. Next, the US and every other country that secretly has nuclear weapons and constantly denies they have any, will also have to update, costing billions of dollars. Why not? We're spending money like crazy... maybe Obama's new jobs program is having us work making nuclear reactors and nuclear bombs, and the change we can believe in will be to our DNA...

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

The Press Will Never Be Free, the Danger of Christmas

Maureen Dowd
Dana Milbank
Gordon Brown

"Is there one Arab dissident group that is not accused now of links with Al-Qa`idah? And while you are at it, answer this: during the Cold War, has there been an Arab dissident group that was not accused of links to communism?" - The Angry Arab

Onr of the big headlines is that Guantanamo prison won't be ready to close until 2011, citing the fact that the Illinois prison that is being bought to house the remaining prisoners won't be ready until then. In the meantime, political prisoners are being sent to Bagram Air Force Base in Afghanistan, and to secret "black" sites in friendly countries. One such country, Lithuania, says that its security service agreed with the CIA to set up two detention centers in its country without informing its civilian government: "...  the country was the site of two small secret prisons, though it did not indicate how they were used.

The report was based on testimony from politicians and national security officials. It was initiated after ABC News described Lithuania’s role in hosting so-called black sites, and other questions were raised about its activities in the fight against terrorism. Arvydas Anusauskas, chairman of the national security committee, said state security officials “received requests from the C.I.A. to establish detention facilities.”
He said it was not clear who was housed in the facilities because five planes that apparently transported people to Lithuania were never inspected by civilian officials."

ABC News had embarrassed the country when it made accusations on it harboring the secret prisons, and the government denied any such claims. Then, it launched an investigation and found out the awful truth. To their credit, instead of trying to hide it, the Prime Minister had the intelligence chief resign and he issued the investigative report. In a statement, the Prime Minister said: “Lithuania is a strategic United States ally, and cooperation in many fields, including secret operations and counterterrorism, is very important.” But he said it was “deeply worrying” that security officials established the prisons without oversight from senior civilian officials.

The value of the press at ferreting out secrets, backdoor agreements, and telling the world what is going on is an important task, but it can also land you in jail or cost you your life. Most dangerous when you are a critic of a strongman or repressive regime. Journalists were arrested in Iran and put on mock trial and sentenced to prison for doing their jobs. A critic of Russia's Prime Minister Vladimer Putin was poisoned with a radioactive substance, causing a painful, horrible death.

Another President, in Kyrgyzstan is being accused of ordering the death of a critical journalist: "The journalist, Gennadi Pavlyuk, was on a business trip in Almaty, the commercial capital of neighboring Kazakhstan, when he was attacked on Dec. 16, the authorities said. He was in a coma before dying of severe trauma on Tuesday. His colleagues said he was 40 years old, with a wife and son.

Opposition politicians in Kyrgyzstan blamed the Kyrgyz president, Kurmanbek Bakiyev, for the killing, saying that he was escalating his efforts to eliminate dissent in the country."

Seems that the killing of journalists is pretty common, and the preferred method is to wait until they are out of the country and then kill them: “This is not the first time that this has happened abroad to a member of the opposition. We believe that this was a political killing directed at intimidating the news media. It is an attempt at frightening society.”

For his part, the Kyrgyz President poo-poohs any malicious rumors: "In an interview in July at the presidential residence, Mr. Bakiyev suggested that journalists who had been attacked might have been involved in shady dealings or were perhaps just unlucky.

“Sometimes, things happen by chance,” Mr. Bakiyev said. “For it to have been purposeful from a political point of view, that sort of politics doesn’t exist here.”

Not every journalist can be saved by having Bill Clinton come and get them. Sometimes they can escape from places like being held by the Taliban, but more often they have to be patient and maybe they will be set free, like the lone journalist that was held at Guantanamo: "The journalist, Sami al-Hajj, was working for Al Jazeera as a cameraman when he was stopped by Pakistani forces on the border with Afghanistan in late 2001. The United States military accused Mr. Hajj of, among other things, falsifying documents and delivering money to Chechen rebels, although he was never charged with a crime during his years in custody.

Now, more than a year after his release, Mr. Hajj, a 40-year-old native of Sudan, is back at work at the Arabic satellite news network, leading a new desk devoted to human rights and public liberties. The captive has become the correspondent"

Like most of the prisoners at Guantanamo, and all of the ones currently in Iraq and Afghanistan, he was never charged with any crime: “First, he was alleged to have filmed an interview of Osama bin Laden. It was another cameraman. So, that allegation disappeared. Then the U.S. said Sami ran a jihadist Web site. Turns out, there was no such site. So that allegation disappeared. Then, the U.S. said Sami was in Afghanistan to arrange missile sales to Chechen rebels. There was no evidence to back that up at all. So that allegation disappeared.”

Still suffering from a beating he received, he was released on a stretcher and flown back to his native Sudan. He is now working for al Jazeera, which is turning out to be fairly credible news source for the region. All of our major politicians and military generals have given interviews with al Jazeera over the years, and I use it when I want to find an alternative point of view or some local quotes on events in the Middle East: "He said that, despite his upbringing in a violent and often repressive country and his experience in detention, he maintained a sustaining belief in democracy and the rule of law.

Terry Anderson, an Associated Press correspondent who was detained in Lebanon from 1985 to 1991 by Islamic fundamentalists, said he could understand Mr. Hajj’s chosen assignment.

“In prison, what do you do? You think about your life. You think about what you were doing, and how it led you here,” Mr. Anderson said.

merry christmas, if you dare...
Here in the Us the biggest debate we have at Christmastime is if it's more politically correct to wish someone Happy Holidays or Merry Christmas when you send them a card. Or if a public tree should have angels and stars as ornaments or something else more non-denominational. But these arguments pale in comparison to the dilemma facing Christians in Iraq this year: celebrating Christmas could mean their death: "At churches in Baghdad this week, Christians are being asked for identification to determine if they have names that security force members recognize as Christian. Some churches around the northern city of Mosul are digging in, surrounding their buildings with giant earthen berms to prevent car bombers from getting too close.

For Christians in Iraq, this will be a year of canceled holiday celebrations and of Christmas Masses spent under the protective watch of police officers and soldiers because of a spate of threats by extremist groups to bomb churches on Christmas Day.

“I’m very sad that we are not able to have our rituals for Christmas this year and not have a sermon, but we do not want any Christians to be harmed,”

The Christian community in Iraq was small before the US invasion, and since then many have been subjected to beatings and kidnappings. The US military chose not to protect them, along with many other smaller religious sects whom are equally in danger from threats this year from extremists. I think I will give thanks to my health this year and the safety of my family, and pray for those in harm's way. I really, really don't want to read about bombings and killings over the next few days...

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Qom All Yee Faithfull, Sheiken Not Stirred, Toadying Suck-Up

Eugene Robinson
Dana Milbank
Barry Rubin

Iranian Street Protests:
“Our shame, our shame, our idiot leader!”
“Oh, Montazeri, your path will be followed even if the dictator shoots us all!”

qom all yee faithfull...
The government is wisely laying pretty low, letting the overwhelming crowds blow off steam in mourning the death of the Grand Ayatollah. The only ugly incidents seem to have been played out by those followers of Satan, the Basij, who tore down posters and wreaths at the family home of Montazeri in Qom. I know that the Chinese Army is given a speed cocktail before deploying, and Thai boxers use speed before going into the ring, so I wouldn't be surprised if the Basij didn't get cranked up on some kind of methamphetamine to give them false courage to beat people up and destroy property.

One reader of the NY Times had an interesting point, on the significance of the protests shifting over to the holy city of Qom: "One point I would like to make about today’s protests that I have not seen discussed in the media was its location: Qom is in many ways the heart of the last Revolution (how it ended up anyway) and its aftermath. Until now, the regime has tried very very hard to isolate Qom from the protest movement. The security presence there has always been reported as very high to prevent any protests. [...] With today’s protests in Qom, and the clergy’s close-up view of it (perhaps for the first time for some of them) it will be interesting to see what the Qom clergy does in the days and weeks to come."

The Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei spoke before a live audience at Montazeri's funeral. whenever he would say something there were shouts of "Death to the dictator" in the background, and for some reason the surly crowd reminded me of a Firesign theater skit from many years ago. It was at a high school rally at More Science High and the principal was getting ready to give a pep talk before the students.

From the bleachers came cries of "Eat it!"  and "Eat it raw!" both common utterances when I was in high school. The principal picked up and expanded with "Yes, Raw, Raw, Raw! That's the spirit we have here!" I think that the reigning clerics are having the same amount of impact on the crowds right now, there are more people shouting God is Great! from their rooftops at night than ever before. It was a signal used back in 1979 that you were a supporter of the Revolution that brought the clerics into power, one that they now wish they could suppress. Which shows that life is full of ironic twists, no matter how many Gestapo tactics the Satanistic Basij use against their fellow citizens...

sheiken, not stirred...
One of the dirty secrets of the Islamic world is the brutal, sadistic streak that runs rampant through out the region, and they don't even have alcohol abuse to use as an excuse. Husbands beat the crap out of their wives and children. Husbands and wives beat up their overseas hired help, take away their passports, and make them live like slaves. And members of of the royal families routinely beat and torture those individuals they don't like. It's a trickle-down mentality.

A videotape surfaced recently, made in 2004, that shows a member of the Abu Dhabi royal family torturing an Afghan grain merchant with the help of policemen. This isn't some shaky film taken by an iphone, but a 45 minute tape that the sheik wanted made for his own sick pleasure: "The 45-minute videotape shows Sheik Issa bin Zayed al-Nahyan, assisted by uniformed police officers, torturing the merchant with whips, cattle prods and a wooden plank with a protruding nail, and finally driving over him with an S.U.V." Pretty through job, and well planned out in advance...

And, there are other tapes that also show torture, a recurring pattern: "Mr. Buzbee says he has two additional videos showing Sheik Issa torturing other men, including Sudanese immigrants. In those tapes, 15 to 20 Abu Dhabi police officers can be seen assisting in the torture, he says.

“These videotapes capture behavior that went on for some time and was well known to Sheik Issa’s brothers,” who include the president, interior minister and foreign minister of the Emirates as well as other high-ranking officials"

The sheik may thank God for being able to use the Rush Limbaugh addicted to painkiller defense: "Sheik Issa, a half brother of the Emirati president, has pleaded not guilty. A forensics expert testified Monday that he was taking a combination of dozens of drugs, including medicine for heart and back conditions." We may soon be seeing more stories of drug addled royals and their co-dependent families, if their are consequences from this story, but they are all a smokescreen hiding the vilest secret, of having so much money and power that you own another human being, oh sadistic dogs following the path of Satan... you are no better than the lowliest of Basiji... In the original reports this story threatened some kind of nuclear deal between the US and the UAE. I can't find out more on what that deal is, but is it wise to sell nuclear technology to another friend of Iran? Friend in the sense that the UAE is a waystation for all illegal things being shipped and smuggled in and out of the region...

toadying suckup...
Back here at home the most toadying suckup comes from John Bolton, who named his old friend from the Bush administration as Conservative of the Year. Oh yeah, that would be Dick Cheney. Mr Bolton has become Mr Cheney's personal fluffer and single-handedly strokes the Cheney swollen ego: "How is it, therefore, that someone who has no political ambitions can cause so much angst at the White House and in the mainstream news media?...Cheney gave a vigorous defense of “enhanced-interrogation techniques... So befuddled were the administration and its media surrogates by Cheney... to have a former Vice President willing to go on the record once he leaves office is a huge service to us and our nation... If, at the end of eight years, the staff relationships were not as close as at the beginning, that was hardly Cheney’s fault... Obama and his supporters are simply unable to match him in the substantive policy debate... Americans see him for exactly what he is: a very experienced, very dedicated patriot... Of course he is the conservative of the year!

Josh Bolton is known for his abuse and belittling of his employees, and his angry diatribes as our ambassador to the UN, a position he got through Cheney's influence. So I guess this is payback time, in a good way; I just wondered if John swallowed...