Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Giving Voice To The Liberal Military

from Respectful of Otters:


Karl Rove's repellent comments about liberals seeking "therapy and understanding" for the September 11th attackers have had one positive outcome: it led to the creation of the website Take It To Karl, which hosts the responses of liberal and Democratic soldiers, veterans, and military relatives to Rove's slurs. The site makes for compelling reading:

Whenever I get into an argument with a conservative, the story is always the same. First, they tell me I'm unamerican and unpatriotic. After I show them my military ID and mention I was in OEF, their next response is to say that I'm hurting my fellow soldiers. Then I confront them and ask them what they've done for the troops. Have they petitioned congress to make sure that the soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan have all the armor they need? Do they make sure that the Reservists still have jobs when they come home? Do they lift a finger to look out for soldiers families while they're away? Did they even send a care package? So far, everyone I've debated has given me a no to all of these questions.

Then I ask them why they haven't stood up and fought against Bush when he slashed veterans benefits. Why don't they care about troops being undermanned and underequipped in Iraq? Their answer is always the same: Vet's have all they need, and troops in Iraq are doing just fine. Nevermind all of the reports and newspaper stories saying otherwise. Nevermind that soldiers are dying. We're doing just fine over there. (more)

Poem of the Day

Ballade by Fran├žois Villon

I know flies in milk
I know the man by his clothes
I know fair weather from foul
I know the apple by the tree
I know the tree when I see the sap
I know when all is one
I know who labors and who loafs
I know everything but myself.

I know the coat by the collar
I know the monk by the cowl
I know the master by the servant
I know the nun by the veil
I know when a hustler rattles on
I know fools raised on whipped cream
I know the wine by the barrel
I know everything but myself.

I know the horse and the mule
I know their loads and their limits
I know Beatrice and Belle
I know the beads that count and add
I know nightmare and sleep
I know the Bohemians' error
I know the power of Rome
I know everything but myself.

Prince I know all things
I know the rosy-cheeked and the pale
I know death who devours all
I know everything but myself.


Trans. by Galway Kinnell

White House advance team FAKED the applause

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

ABC reports that White House advance team FAKED the applause
by John in DC - 6/28/2005 08:34:00 PM

ABC's Terry Moran just reported that the only time Bush got applause was in the middle of his speech when a White House advance team member started clapping all on their own in order to cajole the soldiers into clapping, which they dutifully did.


Why not, the had already faked that there was any news value to the speech. Dr. Goebbels will not be amused.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Poem of the Day


And so it ends by Victoria Sackville-West

And so it ends,
We who were lovers may be friends.
I have some weeks in which to steel
My heart and teach myself to feel
Only a sober tenderness
Where once was passion's loveliness.

I had not thought that there would come
Your touch to make our music dumb,
Your meeting touch upon the string
That still was vibrant, still could sing
When I impatiently might wait
Or parted from you at the gate.

You took me weak and unprepared.
I had not thought that you who shared
My days, my nights, my heart, my life,
Would slash me with a naked knife
And gently tell me not to bleed
But to accept your crazy creed.

You speak of God, but you have cut
The one last thread, as you have shut
The one last door that open stood
To show me still the way to God.
If this be God, this pain, this evil,
I'd sooner change and try the Devil.

Darling, I thought of nothing mean;
I thought of killing straight and clean.
You're safe; that's gone, that wild caprice,
But tell me once before I cease,
Which does your Church esteem the kinder role,
To kill the body or destroy the soul?

The IWW Celebrates 100 Years.

My Grandfather was a delegate at the Brand's Hall meeting. Active in the union movement in Western Pennsylvania, he served as a footsoldier in Mother Jones' efforts in the steel and coal industries. He had a long career as an organizer for the United Mine Workers and was a shop steward until the day he died of black lung in 1950. My Father and three of his brothers were also active union members and organizers. I am proud to be what my buddy Mitch calls a 'Red Diaper Baby.' Though not quite a Wob myself, I can appreciate their importance and the need for their efforts. Congratulations to them on their 100th Anniversary.

Still Fanning the Flames of Discontent:

On June 27, 1905, 186 labor visionaries, including Lucy Parsons, Eugene V. Debs, Mary "Mother" Jones, William Trautmann, Vincent Saint John, and Ralph Chaplin gathered at Brand's Hall in Chicago to hear Western Federation of Miners organizer William D. "Big Bill" Haywood open the founding convention of the Industrial Workers of the World with the following words: "Fellow workers...this is the Continental Congress of the working class. We are here to confederate the workers of this country into a working class movement that shall have for its purpose the emancipation of the working class from the slave bondage of capitalism". Some speech. Some union. The American labor movement would never be the same.

Nicknamed the Wobblies, the IWW sought to recruit unskilled and exploited immigrants, people of color, women and migrant farm workers who were excluded from craft unions of skilled workers organized by the AFL. Seeking to build the "One Big Union" across industrial lines, the IWW enthusiastically promoted the concept of working class solidarity by adopting the motto "An injury to One is an Injury to All", and the revolutionary tactics of direct action - which included sit down strikes, chain picketing, flying pickets, car caravans, and other organizing inovations. IWW organizing stretched from coast to coast - in factories, mills, mines, logging camps, agricultural fields, and shipping docks across the continent. Confronted with brutal attacks from both employers and the State, including the the murder of Wobbly activists [ 1 | 2 | 3 ] the union led "free speech" fights to defend the right of workers everywhere to organize, speak out and dissent. The IWW's vocal opposition to WWI also led to the arrest and imprisonment of 165 IWW organizers. In the decades that followed, the Wobblies continued to organize among marginalized workers - frequently ignored by mainstream business unions - and their vision of a militant, radical and democratic labor movement continues to inspire new organizing efforts to this day. An IWW Chronology

Now, one hundred years later, the IWW is gathering once again in Chicago to celebrate a rich legacy of struggle for the rights of working people. Read More

Red State Chickenhawks

Not only do the Blue States pay the preponderance of taxes to the Federal government which then proceeds to spend most of its take in the Red States, it seems that the Blue States are also suffering a disproportionate share of the casualties from the Iraq war. I guess they figure what's some extra deaths of folks that weren't going to vote for them anyway, right.

And lest you wingnuts bleat that most of the military is Republican, well that's not true. Recent polls show that a majority of enlisted personel are Democrats while a similar percentage of the officers are Republican. So, who do you think has a greater chance of dying in combat, a general or a pfc. You do the math.

from democratic underground via captain normal:
Anyone else sick of being told by Bush voters that people who don't support the war are helping the terrorists? Anyone else sick of brave Republican warmongers finding all kinds of reasons not to join the military, despite the growing recruitment crisis? You may be interested to know that a breakdown of the Iraq war dead shows that more come from states that voted for John Kerry. In general, the bluer the state, the more dead soldiers.

Check out these maps:

Now with the ol' Red vs. Blue map superimposed:

For some reason I expected to see more of the staunch Bush-voting "heartland" Republicans out west doing their bit for the cause...

Sunday, June 26, 2005

Kelo v. New London

from Casual Asides:

Kelo v. New London seems to have created a political issue which unites extremists against the moderates, which is pretty interesting in and of itself. Contrary to what libertarians like Eric or Abu Gingy might believe, I don't welcome this expanse of government power. This isn't "quasi-socialism," it's quasi-fascism--how do we know? This isn't even "private property be taken for public use, [with] just compensation," as the Constitution would say; it's yet another advance in the legalization of corruption, the taking of private property for private use. This is corporatist syncretism, which is really just Fascism with an friendly face. (more)

I'm sure that it will surprise many of my rightwing blogger antagonists that I think the liberal writers of this majority opinion have their collective heads up their collective asses on this one. The definition of 'greater public good' they have formulated makes the full empowerment of the American Fascistic impulse all the more probable.

d.j. waletzky pens a much more cohesive critique of the horrendous majority opinion than the one I had planned. So, check it out.

Take Action Against Rove

We are all well aware of Mr. Rove's "Turd Blossom" or "Bush's Brain" comments, and we are all appalled (for except the GOP leadership who continues to support him, and saying that Rove's comments are historical fact). It is NOW TIME TO TAKE ACTION.


Sign the "Fire Karl Rove" Petition: http://www.petitiononline.com/fireturd/petition.html

Also Email Pompus Ass Rove here: Karl.Rove@whitehouse.gov

Extraordinary Rendition

from NYTimes:

In Italy, Anger at U.S. Tactics Colors Spy Case

By STEPHEN GREY
and DON VAN NATTA Jr.
Published: June 26, 2005

MILAN, June 25 - The extraordinary decision by an Italian judge to order the arrest of 13 people linked to the Central Intelligence Agency on charges of kidnapping a terrorism suspect here dramatizes a growing rift between American counterterrorism officials and their counterparts in Europe.

European counterterrorism officials have pursued a policy of building criminal cases against terrorism suspects through surveillance, wire-taps, detective work and the criminal justice system. The United States, however, has frequently used other means since Sept. 11, 2001, including renditions - abducting terror suspects from foreign countries and transporting them for questioning to third countries, some of which are known to use torture.

Those two approaches seem to have collided in the case of an Egyptian cleric, Hassan Mustafa Osama Nasr, or Abu Omar, who led a militant mosque in Milan.

By early 2003, the Italian secret police were aggressively pursuing a criminal terrorism case against Mr. Nasr, with the help of American intelligence officials. Italian investigators said they had told the Americans they had strong evidence that he was trying to build a terror recruitment network, possibly aimed for Iraq if the United States went forward with plans to topple Saddam Hussein.

On Feb. 17, 2003, Mr. Nasr disappeared.

When the Italians began investigating, they said, they were startled to find evidence that some of the C.I.A. officers who had been helping them investigate Mr. Nasr were involved in his abduction.

"We do feel quite betrayed that this operation was carried out in our city," a senior Italian investigator said. "We supplied them information about Abu Omar, and then they used that information against us, undermining an entire operation against his terrorist network."

He and other senior Italian officials in Milan's police and prosecutor's office were angry enough to answer detailed questions about the case, but insisted on anonymity because the investigation is continuing.

"This whole investigation has been very difficult because we've been using the same methods we used against organized crime to trace the activities of people we considered to be our friends and colleagues," the senior Italian investigator said. "It has been quite a troubling affair."

The Italian warrants - requested by Milanese prosecutors after two years of investigations - accuse 13 people identified as American C.I.A. officers and operatives of illegally abducting Mr. Nasr from a Milan street and flying him to Egypt for questioning. The whereabouts of the 13 are unknown, but the charges are criminal. If convicted, they face a maximum penalty of 10 years and 8 months in prison.

looks like another of the 'coalition of the willing' is changing its mind. I wonder if da Prezidense and Toady Blair are feeling the heat yet.

General admits to secret air war

from Sunday Times:


THE American general who commanded allied air forces during the Iraq war appears to have admitted in a briefing to American and British officers that coalition aircraft waged a secret air war against Iraq from the middle of 2002, nine months before the invasion began.

Addressing a briefing on lessons learnt from the Iraq war Lieutenant-General Michael Moseley said that in 2002 and early 2003 allied aircraft flew 21,736 sorties, dropping more than 600 bombs on 391 “carefully selected targets” before the war officially started.

The nine months of allied raids “laid the foundations” for the allied victory, Moseley said. They ensured that allied forces did not have to start the war with a protracted bombardment of Iraqi positions.

If those raids exceeded the need to maintain security in the no-fly zones of southern and northern Iraq, they would leave President George W Bush and Tony Blair vulnerable to allegations that they had acted illegally.

Moseley’s remarks have emerged after reports in The Sunday Times that showed an increase in allied bombing in southern Iraq was described in leaked minutes of a meeting of the war cabinet as “spikes of activity to put pressure on the regime”.

Moseley told the briefing at Nellis airbase in Nebraska on July 17, 2003, that the raids took place under cover of patrols of the southern no-fly zone; their purpose was ostensibly to protect the ethnic minorities.

A leaked memo previously disclosed by The Sunday Times, detailing a meeting chaired by the prime minister and attended by Jack Straw, the foreign secretary, Geoff Hoon, the then defence secretary, and Admiral Sir Michael Boyce, chief of defence staff, indicated that the US was carrying out the bombing.

But Moseley’s remarks, and figures for the amount of bombs dropped in southern Iraq during 2002, indicate that the RAF was taking as large a part in the bombing as American aircraft.

Details of the Moseley briefing come amid rising concern in the US at the war. A new poll shows 60% of Americans now believe it was a mistake.

Well, well, well. Another treasonous lying liberal attempts to slander the Presidense and Emperor Chaney and Ratfucker Rumsfeld by telling the truth. We must put a stop to this indiscriminant truth telling. It confuses the people and makes them question their instant obedience to proper authority. This can hamper the war effort.

Baghdad airport closed indefinitely by dispute over payment for security

from BBC via Dohiyi Mir

Cash row closes Baghdad airport
By Jon Leyne
BBC correspondent in Baghdad

The British company that provides security to the airport, Global, has withdrawn its services in what it says is a contractual dispute.

Military flights, however, are not affected.

Travelling out of Baghdad airport is hazardous enough at the best of times but now it is not possible at all, at least on civilian flights.

It is understood that Global has not been paid by the Iraqi government for three months.

It is not clear whether there is any connection but the Iraqi transport ministry is frequently accused of corruption.

A former transport minister is wanted for questioning over the issue.

The Iraqi government is also notoriously unreliable about paying its own employees.

When the airport is open, several airlines provide commercial flights inside Iraq and to several neighbouring countries.

Because of the threat of missiles, planes execute a corkscrew manoeuvre on landing and take-off.

The airport highway is also one of the most frequently attacked roads in the country.

At last, real progress in the effort to totally corrupt Iraqi society. The NeoCons must be really proud.

Safer Vehicles for Soldiers: A Tale of Delays and Glitches

As Donnie 'Ratf*cker' Rumsfeld contentedly strokes himself during an official visit to Iraq, he travels in air conditioned style, with his feet up and his branch and bourbon chilled. Of course, he uses the latest armored super vehicle, supplied to him by his buds at Halliburton. After all, he wouldn't want to lose a nail or something. He does this while expecting the families of the troops to buy their body armor for them all the while knowing that he cut the funding of the safer replacements of the HumVee less than a month before the NeoCons started their little private war in Iraq...

Apparently that 'only the best for our boys' just applies to
Lyin' Little Ratfucker NeoCons not the regular troops.

from the NY Times:



During a visit to Iraq last year, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld rode in a Rhino Runner, a steel-reinforced vehicle that its maker says is designed to withstand 7.62 x 39-millimeter and 5.56-millimeter ammunition, overhead airbursts and explosive devices up to 1,000 pounds.
David Hume Kennerly/Getty Images

When Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld visited Iraq last year to tour the Abu Ghraib prison camp, military officials did not rely on a government-issued Humvee to transport him safely on the ground. Instead, they turned to Halliburton, the oil services contractor, which lent the Pentagon a rolling fortress of steel called the Rhino Runner.
State Department officials traveling in Iraq use armored vehicles that are built with V-shaped hulls to better deflect bullets and bombs. Members of Congress favor another model, called the M1117, which can endure 12-pound explosives and .50-caliber armor-piercing rounds.

Unlike the Humvee, the Pentagon's vehicle of choice for American troops, the others were designed from scratch to withstand attacks in battlefields like Iraq with no safe zones. Last fall, for instance, a Rhino traveling the treacherous airport road in Baghdad endured a bomb that left a six-foot-wide crater. The passengers walked away unscathed. "I have no doubt should I have been in any other vehicle," wrote an Army captain, the lone military passenger, "the results would have been catastrophically different."

Yet more than two years into the war, efforts by United States military units to obtain large numbers of these stronger vehicles for soldiers have faltered - even as the Pentagon's program to armor Humvees continues to be plagued by delays, an examination by The New York Times has found.

(clip)

Today, commuting from post to post in Iraq is one of the deadliest tasks for soldiers. At least 73 American military personnel were killed on the roads of Iraq in May and June as insurgent attacks spiked. In May alone, there were 700 bombings against American forces, the most since the invasion in March 2003. Late Thursday, a suicide car bomber killed five marines and a sailor in a convoy of mostly female marines who were returning to camp in Falluja. Thirteen others were injured. Officials said the vehicles most likely included a seven-ton truck.

(clip)

The Pentagon has repeatedly said no vehicle leaves camp without armor. But according to military records and interviews with officials, about half of the Army's 20,000 Humvees have improvised shielding that typically leaves the underside unprotected, while only one in six Humvees used by the Marines is armored at the highest level of protection.

The Defense Department continues to rely on just one small company in Ohio to armor Humvees. And the company, O'Gara-Hess & Eisenhardt, has waged an aggressive campaign to hold onto its exclusive deal even as soaring rush orders from Iraq have been plagued by delays. The Marine Corps, for example, is still awaiting the 498 armored Humvees it sought last fall, officials told The Times.

(more)


skippy needs a million hits!

and you are bringing skippy that much closer to skippy's goal of getting a million visitors on their 3rd blogiversary on july 10 and/ or 13th!

to that end, many blogs have linked to their post about the recent interview on wrfl radio

special shout out goes to the sailor who started an open thread on talkleft titled, "skippy has nekkid pictures of marey carey and the bush twins on his blog."

Example
skippy needs a million hits!

Poem of the Day


and just why are they called "lesbians?"


thanks to drudge retort, we have learned about the publication of a heretofore undiscovered poem by sappho (whom the ancient Greeks considered one of their greatest poets ever (not as the article implies, greatest female poet), and who liked chicks, and who lived on the island of lesbos). like almost all heretofore undiscovered ancient greek poems discovered nowadays it was on a piece of parchment used to wrap an egyptian mummy. looks like someone unwrapped the mummy and martin west, the brilliant scholar of archaic (roughly speaking before 600 bce) Greek poetry has edited and translated the work in the times literary supplement. the whole article is very good, go read it. west's text in translation is [bracketed words are his conjectures]:

"[You for] the fragrant-blossomed Muses’ lovely gifts
[be zealous,] girls, [and the] clear melodious lyre:

[but my once tender] body old age now
[has seized;] my hair’s turned [white] instead of dark;

my heart’s grown heavy, my knees will not support me,
that once on a time were fleet for the dance as fawns.

This state I oft bemoan; but what’s to do?
Not to grow old, being human, there’s no way.

Tithonus once, the tale was, rose-armed Dawn,
love-smitten, carried off to the world’s end,

handsome and young then, yet in time grey age
o’ertook him, husband of immortal wife."
more fun than a bag o' cats, the news can be.

The Little Man Behind The Curtain

from the dread pirate roberts at dharma bums

so the current spokesliar for the white house is now karl rove, the guy who usually hides in the back room running the dirty tricks department. remember them senator mccain?

so he came out in public and made the usual sort of insult to the patriotism of half the country. well actually, to all of the country. even if half, and that group is slipping, are too dumb to see a charlatan. does that mean that he couldn't get even santorum to utter such crap?

update-bulletin bulletin bulletin. YES!!! even santorum won't utter such crap or stand behind it!!!!!

"pay no attention to the little man behind the curtain. behold the great and wondrous oz." something is slipping when the little man behind the curtain steps out front. never mind what he says.

let's keep asking:

why the great and wondrous oz is cutting the budget for veteran's services? why do you hate the military mr. president?

why he had to lie to us about going to war? why do you hate our citizens?

why his budgets are putting the country deeper and deeper into debt? why do you hate our children?

why he embraces this faux christianity of war and oppression? why do you hate jesus?

why he is trying to kill social security? why do you hate old peopls?

why he is lying even now about the conduct and lack of success of the war? why do you hate the ten commandments?

why did you stop hunting bin laden? why do you love that terrorist?

Jaybus, something so heinous that even our little senator lapdog couldn't choke it down. Who'd have thought such a thing was possible?

Agitprop has out done himself!

Summer Camp For Evildoers

Maybe Dick and Rummy can tag along too . . .

Georgiegoestogitmo

Besides a Bible and some pretzels, what else can we pack in the boy king's napsack for his indefinite stay at Camp X-Ray?

US acknowledges torture

via dadahead from Forbes.com:
US acknowledges torture at Guantanamo; in Iraq, Afghanistan - UN

GENEVA (AFX) - Washington has, for the first time, acknowledged to the United Nations that prisoners have been tortured at US detention centres in Guantanamo Bay, as well as Afghanistan and Iraq, a UN source said.

The acknowledgement was made in a report submitted to the UN Committee against Torture, said a member of the ten-person panel, speaking on on condition of anonymity.

'They are no longer trying to duck this and have respected their obligation to inform the UN,' the Committee member said.

'They they will have to explain themselves (to the Committee). Nothing should be kept in the dark,' he said.

UN sources said this is the first time the world body has received such a frank statement on torture from US authorities.

The Committee, which monitors respect for the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, is gathering information from the US ahead of hearings in May 2006.

Signatories of the convention are expected to submit to scrutiny of their implementation of the 1984 convention and to provide information to the Committee.

The document from Washington will not be formally made public until the hearings.

Another lying element of the liberal media slanders America by reporting the truth. For Shame!

Saturday, June 25, 2005

Poem of the Day

Carrion Comfort by Gerard Manley Hopkins

Not, I'll not, carrion comfort, Despair, not feast on thee;
Not untwist -- slack they may be -- these last strands of man
In me {'o}r, most weary, cry I can no more. I can;
Can something, hope, wish day come, not choose not to be.
But ah, but O thou terrible, why wouldst thou rude on me
Thy wring-world right foot rock? lay a lionlimb against me? scan
With darksome devouring eyes my bruis{`e}d bones? and fan,
O in turns of tempest, me heaped there; me frantic to avo{'i}d thee and
flee?

Why? That my chaff might fly; my grain lie, sheer and clear.
Nay in all that toil, that coil, since (seems) I kissed the rod,
Hand rather, my heart lo! lapped strength, stole joy, would laugh,
cheer.
Cheer wh{'o}m though? The h{'e}ro whose h{'e}aven-handling fl{'u}ng
me, f{'o}ot tr{'o}d
Me? or m{'e} that f{'o}ught him? O wh{'i}ch one? is it e{'a}ch one? That
n{'i}ght, that y{'e}ar
Of now done darkness I wretch lay wrestling with (my God!) my God.


Quotes of the Day

'If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it. The lie can be maintained only for such time as the State can shield the people from the political, economic and/or military consequences of the lie. It thus becomes vitally important for the State to use all of its powers to repress dissent, for the truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, and thus by extension, the truth is the greatest enemy of the State.'

Joseph Goebbels

'The most brilliant propagandist technique will yield no success unless one fundamental principle is borne in mind constantly - it must confine itself to a few points and repeat them over and over'

Joseph Goebbels

'See, in my line of work you got to keep repeating things over and over and over again for the truth to sink in, to kind of catapult the propaganda.'

—George W. Bush, May 24, 2005

with a tip of the old beanie to The Viscount LaCart

Friday, June 24, 2005

Friday True Face of Compassionate Conservatism Blogging

Poem of the Day

Anthem for Doomed Youth by Wilfred Owen

What passing-bells for these who die as cattle?
Only the monstrous anger of the guns.
Only the stuttering rifles' rapid rattle
Can patter out their hasty orisons.
No mockeries for them; no prayers nor bells,
Nor any voice of mourning save the choirs,--
The shrill, demented choirs of wailing shells;
And bugles calling for them from sad shires.

What candles may be held to speed them all?
Not in the hands of boys, but in their eyes
Shall shine the holy glimmers of goodbyes.
The pallor of girls' brows shall be their pall;
Their flowers the tenderness of patient minds,
And each slow dusk a drawing-down of blinds.


Karl Rove Can Eat My Shorts

from dadahead:

9/11 got branded--

sold - as something that only Republicans suffered through and cared about.


Karl Rove's comment about the left's reaction to 9/11 has been drawing fire:

Karl Rove came to the heart of Manhattan last night to rhapsodize about the decline of liberalism in politics, saying Democrats responded weakly to Sept. 11 and had placed American troops in greater danger by criticizing their actions.

"Conservatives saw the savagery of 9/11 in the attacks and prepared for war; liberals saw the savagery of the 9/11 attacks and wanted to prepare indictments and offer therapy and understanding for our attackers," Mr. Rove, the senior political adviser to President Bush, said at a fund-raiser in Midtown for the Conservative Party of New York State.

Peter Daou's response:

My office overlooks Ground Zero, and I'm looking at the gaping footprint as I write this. My wife and I were in New York that day, on our way to the WTC for a morning meeting. A chance phone call dragged on a few minutes too long and most likely saved our lives. I lost friends in the towers, and when I walk past the site, as I do almost every evening, the pain is as real as it was on September 11th, 2001.

I spent my youth in Beirut during the height of Lebanon's civil war, and I fought the Syrian presence in Lebanon long before the "Cedar Revolution." I watched young boys give their lives and mothers cradle their dying children in blood-soaked arms. I've seen more bloodshed, war, and violence, and shot more guns than most of the 101st Fighting Keyboardists combined. I wouldn't presume to question the strength or dignity of a stranger, and I pity those who blithely push the right=strong, left=weak rhetoric. It says far more about their inadequacies than it does about the target of their scorn. Today, Karl Rove took that rhetoric to a new, filthy low.

And Mahablog:

Words cannot express the contempt I feel for Karl Rove and for the chorus of brainless little yappers applauding his recent remarks on liberal reactions to 9/11.

I'd like to ask Karl and his puppies to stand anywhere in the vincinity of Ground Zero and repeat Karl's fatuous, lying remarks to a crowd of New Yorkers.

Whole lotta liberals in New York. Whole lotta those liberal New Yorkers lost someone in the towers. Whole lotta liberal New Yorkers who lost someone in the towers might want to break Karl's jaw today. Karl would be well advised to keep his sorry ass out of New York from now on.

Junior got less than a quarter of the New York City vote last November, as I recall. Yeah, the people most closely affected by 9/11, who are most intimate with it, are less than impressed with Junior and his war on terra.

You have to go away from New York City, to places where people barely remember watching the towers collapse on television, to find people still willing to listen to the crap that spews out of Karl's mouth. All 9/11 means to them is an excuse to advance their hard right agenda and pound the stuffing out of Muslims. And any Muslims will do.

Justice for the dead of 9/11 went on the back burner as soon as Bush decided to invade Iraq. (9/12?)

All I'll add is that Rove's comments are basically the same thing that the Republicans have been saying for the last three and a half years. Nothing new. Doesn't everyone yet understand that the GOP leadership is as loathsome as they come?

If not, understand it now, and take the gloves off from here on out. I don't want to hear one Democrat complain about Rove's comments and then turn around and bad-mouth Howard Dean the next time he says something nasty about Republicans. These are the kind of 'people' we're dealing with, folks, and they should be shown no mercy or respect. Nothing is out of bounds, not anymore.


I had friends who died in the twin towers, you pathetic excuse for a human being.

I wanted Osama's head on a platter.

I supported the war in Afghanistan.

What did we get, "Oh we couldn't find him. So we're going after this other guy. He's bad too. He tried to kill the Presidense's daddy."

A life stint in Abu Graib or Gitmo is too good for your hate filled ass.


Chicken shit clone of Dr. Goebbels.

You ought to hide your treasonous face from the sun in shame.



A Note to the Chickenhawks: Enlist, or Shut Up

from Sirotablog:

There are a lot of pathetic political hacks running around these days talking tough about fighting wars - and most of them have never fought in a war, avoided fighting when they had the chance, and have no family members fighting in our current war. When ultra-hawk Vice President Dick Cheney had the chance to fight in a war, he said he had "other priorities." When George W. Bush had the chance, he used his dad's name to get out of combat service. While Peter Beinart and the New Republic claim they truly believe in more hawkish policies, I don't see him or the magazine's writers lining up to enlist. And last I checked, the same Karl Rove who is attacking Democrats for questioning the management of the Iraq War, is the Karl Rove who has never served in the military in his life.

Now, as I wrote in a cover piece for the Nation magazine a while back, we shouldn't be surprised that these chickenhawks have no problem talking tough about war, while running away from it in their own personal lives. Tough talk about war, and criticism of those who oppose it, makes these pathetic souls feel stronger than they actually are - and they have used it quite effectively in the political arena.

But Steve Gilliard today really puts these chickenhawks in their place:

"If you will not serve in Iraq, and no one you know will serve, stop expecting someone else to do what you will not. Therefore, it is time to stop calling for more troops, or the US to make Iraq safe. We cannot do this and even Americans are refusing to join the fight. It is time to look at your actions and realize, that despite your ideals, you oppose continuing this war. In practical terms, you have decided that this war is not worth your life or anyone you know. And million of Americans have joined you in this decision. So, with this fact evident, it is time to call for US troops to withdraw from Iraq. Not save it, not add more boots on the ground. You have already voted by your actions. It is time that you match it with your words."


This is the way Democrats need to be talking about these issues – not cautiously asking for an "apology" from Rove. We don't want "apologies" – we want a real debate about this. That means it is time for Democrats to finally go for the throat and make clear that if you are going to vehemently advocate sending more and more innocent Americans to die in Iraq, you better be prepared to back up that rhetoric with some sacrifice of your own. And that goes especially for the inside-the-Beltway neocon crowd who makes decisions and spouts off opinions from the confines of the well-guarded cocktail party circuit, and thus never has to deal with the blood-and-guts ramifications of what they're talking about. If you are willing to ask others for sacrifice but evaded such sacrifice when you had the chance, and aren't willing to make any sacrifice yourself now - then sit down and shut up.

In common with many other mountain folk, I belong to a family which since the French & Indian War has sent people to every war in which this country has fought. We serve with honor and humilty because we love our country. I have three brothers, a nephew and a niece serving in the current conflict. Their service is given with gratitude for the opportunity to live in America.

The rich corporatist scum who led us into the war in Iraq are, nearly without exception, cowards. They have evaded their responsibilty to physically defend our country and instead, as so many of their kind have done in the past, have opted to hire those less fortunate than themselves to serve in their place. Secure in their privilege, they cannot even be bothered to defend it.

Now, many of those of lesser economic station who normally can be enticed to join the military are beginning to refuse to do the dirty work of others. Enlistment rates, for the Army in particular, are so low that recruiters are resorting to fraud and deception to fill their quotas.

Isn't it time for the privileged Right to stand tall and defend their country? Where are the calls for the increased enlistment of Young Republicans? How many sons and daughters of those currently in power in Washington serve in the military? When are Jenna and Babs reporting for duty? How about Dickies daughters? My guess would be that you wouldn't need all twenty toes and fingers to count the family members of curent Congress that are serving.

What of the pundacracy? Sean Hannity is of an age to serve, as is Joe Scarborough. Michael Savage seems to be an ideal candidate. And surely some job could be found for good old G. Gordon, even at his advanced age. Ann Coulter herself is not too old to be an acceptable enlistee. How many members of the right blogosphere have volunteered? What is the enlistment rate among Charles Johnson's followers? In fact, Johnson himself has never served.

Understand, I am not calling out those on the Right who have served. They have my gratitude and my respect. I may disagree with them on their politics, but they have shown that they had the courage of their convictions.

I am however calling out those creatures of privilege who are content to let others serve in their place. If you want to talk the talk, then have the balls to walk the walk. That means you Glennda, and Charlene, and Dickie, and Dubya, and Donnie, and Wolfie.

Get us the hell out of your damn mess before we lose too many more of the only people who were willing to defend America with their lives. Our armed forces.

Put up or shut the fuck up.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

An open letter to Senator Durbin

An intelligent and thoughtful response to the Durbin/Gitmo/torture/Nazi imbroglio. Worth the read.

from Body and Soul:

Dear Senator:

I'm not a constituent, but I should have written to you sooner. You've been doing holy work for quite awhile, trying to make sure that "American values" don't include torture, and excuses for torture. That made you a hero in my view long before you made your extraordinary speech last week. One section of that speech, one analogy, got the most attention, and however brave and true that section was, I'm afraid the controversy that was ginned up around it drew attention away from other virtues of the speech. I've been plowing through memos, military reports, papers from human rights groups, news reports, and bloggers' rants for years and I've seen few instances of people laying out the case against this administration's detention policies that were as clear, as reasonable, as complete, or as honest. Your words were also hopeful and inspiring:

Many people who read history remember, as World War II began with the attack on Pearl Harbor, a country in fear after being attacked decided one way to protect America was to gather together Japanese Americans and literally imprison them, put them in internment camps for fear they would be traitors and turn on the United States. We did that. Thousands of lives were changed. Thousands of businesses destroyed. Thousands of people, good American citizens, who happened to be of Japanese ancestry, were treated like common criminals.

It took almost 40 years for us to acknowledge that we were wrong, to admit that these people should never have been imprisoned. It was a shameful period in American history and one that very few, if any, try to defend today.

I believe the torture techniques that have been used at Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo and other places fall into that same category. I am confident, sadly confident, as I stand here, that decades from now people will look back and say: What were they thinking? America, this great, kind leader of a nation, treated people who were detained and imprisoned, interrogated people in the crudest way?

It is not easy to face up to the truth about what America is doing today and at the same time look toward a future in which Americans will be deeply ashamed of this part of our history. I try, and I don't always succeed. The temptation is either to cling to a vision of a perfect country and never acknowledge the evil, or to sneer that this horror is what America has become, and give up. We need a Virgil to guide us through hell without despair.

I meant to write and thank you for that service. I'm sorry I didn't, because courage deserves acknowledgment.

There's an understandable assumption on the left now that your courage failed you, that you caved in to enormous pressure. If that's true, your second speech was not only cowardly, it was astonishingly foolish. Take a look at the response of some of the people who demanded an apology now that they have it. They have nothing but contempt for your "teary-eyed" and "blubbering" apology. You've given the kind of people who celebrate everything you've fought against one more victory. You've made it far easier for them to argue that there is no torture problem, the only problem is Democrats and their overheated rhetoric.

We must end this nightmare. You know that as well as I do. I hope you also know that you've set us back. We can't stand behind your words if you don't.

Reading over your statement, I'm not so sure you were responding to pressure from torture's apologists. I have a feeling you heard from some people who were genuinely hurt by your analogy (as opposed to the vast majority who feigned shock to draw attention away from the points you made) and were speaking mainly out of concern for their feelings. As someone concerned about what the glorification of militarism does to this country, who often risks having her attacks on military sentimentality come across as attacks on soldiers, I understand that desire not to have your words, even your twisted and distorted words, used to hurt innocent people.

But if that was the case, you should have addressed any "apology" directly to those people, not to the Senate, and pointed out that if what you said came across as an insult directed at them, that was not your intention. And then you should have come back all the harder on the main points of your original speech: We love this country, and we will not stand by while it takes up, bit by bit, step by step, the tools of its enemies. I hate to be so blunt, but this is how the game is played.

If you really care about this country, and about human rights -- and I sincerely believe you do -- you have to learn those rules very quickly. And you can't allow yourself the luxury of being afraid of your own words.

Poem of the Day


Expect Nothing by Alice Walker


Expect nothing. Live frugally
On surprise.
become a stranger
To need of pity
Or, if compassion be freely
Given out
Take only enough
Stop short of urge to plead
Then purge away the need.

Wish for nothing larger
Than your own small heart
Or greater than a star;
Tame wild disappointment
With caress unmoved and cold
Make of it a parka
For your soul.

Discover the reason why
So tiny human midget
Exists at all
So scared unwise
But expect nothing. Live frugally
On surprise.

Avian Influenza Web Resources

from Just a Bump in the Beltway:

Blogs and web pages covering the H5N1 issue to a greater or lesser extent.

Recombinomics | Elegant Evolution
Dr. Henry Niman's blog. Take-no-prisoners virology from the front lines.

Daily HealthCast
The successor to John Hart's blog.

H5N1
A blog dedicated to coverage of the developing Asian influenza issue.

The Coming Influenza Pandemic?
Another dedicated H5N1 news blog.

EPIDEMIca // H5N1 // M-J Milloy
Yet another blog focused on H5N1 news.

Effect Measure
A general epidemiology news blog hosted by a group of physicians writing under the collective pen name "Revere". Strong focus on H5N1. The editorials do not pull any punches at all. "Revere" is an appropriate nom-de-guerre.

Biopeer: Avian Flu (H5N1)
The H5N1 section of a general life sciences news blog.

Cold and Flu Blog
A blog as informative about sniffles as about the Real Bad Stuff.

InfluenzaPandemic - AndyPryke.com
Not a blog. But just chock full of background data, together with an influenza chronology spanning more than 2000 years. Absolutely priceless.

CIDRAP >> Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy
Not a blog. Out of the University of Minnesota. Cutting-edge news is posted here.

Main ProMED-mail
"ProMED-mail is a program of the International Society for Infectious Diseases." Not a blog. Infectious disease news, culled from just about everywhere.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
The home page of the CDC. This should be an authoritative site. But director Dr. Julie Gerberding is a Bushco appointee. Sigh.

WHO | Avian influenza
The World Health Organization's Avian Influenza page. Tracks H5N1 worldwide through the eyes of the WHO.


Episode 3: The Search for Spine

from THE ASSOCIATED PRESS :

Sen. Durbin Apologizes for Gitmo Remarks

WASHINGTON (AP) -- A week after comparing interrogation at the Guantanamo Bay prison camp to the methods of Nazis and other repressive regimes, Sen. Dick Durbin apologized on the Senate floor.

''Some may believe that my remarks crossed the line,'' said the Illinois Democrat, at times holding back tears. ''To them I extend my heartfelt apologies.''

Durbin said he never intended disrespect for U.S. soldiers around the world.

''They're the best,'' he said Tuesday.

His apology drew praise from Republicans.

''I think it was the right thing to do and the right thing to say to our men and women in uniform,'' said White House press secretary Scott McClellan.

Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist called Durbin's apology ''an honorable step'' along the road to understanding how words strengthen the nation's enemies in the war against terror.

''Intended or not, damage was being done,'' Frist, R-Tenn., said Wednesday on the Senate floor. ''It's a lesson that we all learn over and over again and again.''

The apology came a week after Durbin quoted from an FBI agent's memo describing detainees at the naval base in a U.S.-controlled portion of Cuba as being chained to the floor without food or water in extreme temperatures.

''If I read this to you and did not tell you that it was an FBI agent describing what Americans had done to prisoners in their control, you would most certainly believe this must have been done by Nazis, Soviets in their gulags or some mad regime -- Pol Pot or others -- that had no concern for human beings,'' the senator said last week.

The comment drew criticism from the White House, Republicans in Congress and others after creating a buzz on the Internet and among conservative talk radio hosts. Some Democrats also disapproved of the comparison.

One reason for the apology Tuesday was ''this loud, continuous drumbeat of misinformation that was being broadcast and printed,'' said Durbin spokesman Joe Shoemaker.

Last Friday, Durbin tried to clarify his comments with a statement that he sincerely regretted if his comments caused anyone to misunderstand his true feelings. Still, the criticism poured in.

Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, in an interview to air Wednesday on Fox News Radio's ''The Tony Snow Show,'' tried to equate Durbin's comment with actress Jane Fonda calling U.S. soldiers war criminals during a visit to North Vietnam in 1972.

''Some people always in their lives say something they wish they hadn't said,'' Rumsfeld said. ''We just watched Jane Fonda run around trying to recover from the things she did and said during the Vietnam War. ... He said some things and he's going to have to live with them, and I think that that's not a happy prospect.''

Defense Department spokesman Glenn Flood said Rumsfeld stands by his statements, even in light of the apology.

Haysooze! Now I have to take back all those nice things I've been saying about Durbin. Has he no consideration for my feelings?

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Mega ice pop is beat by the heat

from the NY Daily News via Making Light:

Workers are powerless as a sea of Kiwi-Strawberry Snapple from giant popsicle swamps Union Square yesterday.

A 25-foot, 17-ton ice pop made of the supposed "best stuff on Earth" melted in the New York sun yesterday - turning Union Square into a river of Kiwi-Strawberry Snapple.

Bicyclists wiped out in the stream of goo. Pedestrians slipped. Traffic was, well, frozen.

Snapple officials had hoped to get in the Guinness Book of World Records and promote their new line of ice treats.

Instead, New Yorkers got a first-of-its-kind, first-day-of-summer mess.

"It was a big boo-boo," said Kizzy Vazquez, 28, of Manhattan, as she watched the mammoth pink pop ooze while someone with a sick sense of humor blasted "Cruel Summer" over a sound system. "They should have had that [up] before the sun came out."

Firefighters hosed down E. 17th St. between Union Square East and West, and about 100 yards of Park Ave. South, rinsing away a thick, sweet slime.

"No one was attempting to lick it up - but that really isn't our concern because it isn't a health hazard," quipped Capt. Michael McLaughlin of Ladder 3.

Snapple's attempt was a matter of icing a record held by a 21-foot-long, 7-foot-5-wide, 20,000-pound pop in Holland.

The New York contender weighed 34,500 pounds and came in at 25 feet long and 5 feet wide, Snapple said.

But the behemoth didn't make the record book because it couldn't stand on its own in temperatures that climbed to over 80 degrees at midday.

"It's a tough break," said Stuart Claxton of the Guinness Book of World Records on the sticky scene. "What was unsettling was that the fluid just kept coming. It was quite a lot of fluid. On a hot day like this, you have to move fast."

A Snapple rep apologized for the meltdown. Pressed yesterday by the Daily News, company officials said they would offer to help pay for the cleanup.

Kelly Luaders of Art Below Zero, which helped with the project, tried to stay cool. "At least it smelled good," she said.

The remains of the pop were loaded into a freezer truck to be carted back to Edison, N.J., which apparently is where monster frozen treats go to die.


Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Poem of the Day

Oppression by Langston Hughes

Now dreams
Are not available
To the dreamers,
Nor songs
To the singers.

In some lands
Dark night
And cold steel
Prevail
But the dream
Will come back,
And the song
Break
Its jail.


Mississippi ex-Klansman convicted

In memory of James Cheney, Andrew Goodman, and Michael Schwerner-- We never forgot you.

from BBC:

Widow Rita Schwerner Bender said the verdict was a "small step"
A US jury has convicted a former Ku Klux Klan member of manslaughter over the notorious killing of three civil rights workers in 1964.

The jury in Mississippi rejected murder charges against Edgar Ray Killen, now aged 80, but found him guilty of recruiting a mob to kill the three.

Killen now faces up to 20 years in jail for the role he played 41 years ago.

Relatives and campaigners hailed the verdict, but said more should be done to deal with Mississippi's racist past.

The defendant had denied taking any part in the killings of Michael Schwerner, 24, Andy Goodman, 20, and James Chaney, 21.

Killen - who is a Baptist preacher - showed no emotion as the verdict was read in the courtroom in the town of Philadelphia.


It's not the perfect ending in this case - I believe we proved murder and I believe he was guilty of murder

Mark Duncan
district attorney

A frail man, he used a wheelchair in court and was connected to breathing apparatus during the trial.

Both sides expressed some disappointment with the manslaughter verdict: prosecutors said they would appeal because the charges were changed late in the trial while campaigners argued that a manslaughter verdict avoided some awkward questions.

"[The jury] could not bring themselves to acknowledge that these were murders, that they were committed with malice," said Rita Schwerner Bender, widow of Michael Schwerner.

She called the verdict "a day of great importance" but said others must also be held to account.

"The state of Mississippi was complicit in these crimes and all the crimes that occurred, and that has to be opened up," she added.

Bodies buried

Earlier on Tuesday, prosecutors made an impassioned plea for his conviction, saying the victims' families had waited for decades for justice.


Ray Killen sat in a wheelchair and wore a breathing tube while in court

"Is a Neshoba County jury going to tell the rest of the world that we are not going to let Edgar Ray Killen get away with murder any more?" asked prosecutor Mark Duncan. "Not one day more."

Speaking after the verdict, Mr Duncan said he still believed the prosecution had "proved murder".

The activists were two white men from New York and a local black colleague, who were killed while campaigning for the registration of black voters.

They were arrested for a dubious traffic violation, and attacked by a gang of Klansmen and police after being released in the middle of the night.

They were abducted as they drove out of the Mississippi town and shot dead.

Their bodies, riddled with bullets and badly beaten, were buried at a dam and only found 44 days later after an extensive search.

Mr Killen, who was a suspect in the original investigation but never convicted, was re-arrested after new evidence emerged.

A small victory, but a victory none-the-less.

Monday, June 20, 2005

Overview of OPERATION YELLOW ELEPHANT

from Jesus'General:
One of the General's readers pointed out that there isn't a good, one stop place to learn everything you need to know about OPERATION YELLOW ELEPHANT. Hopefully, this post will serve that purpose. Check back often for updates.

The objective of OPERATION YELLOW ELEPHANT is to recruit College Republicans and Young Republicans to serve as infantry. They demanded this war and now viciously support it. It's only right that they also experience it.

The 56th College Republican National Convention is the setting for many of the proposed ops. It begins on Friday, June 24.

The General encourages his readers to take the initiative to create materials and to plan and conduct special operations. Please let him know what you've done and he'll try to post it.

Regular readers know that the General is a proud heterosexual, Christian conservative. He is not trying to embarrass the College Republicans. Rather, he believes that by encouraging them to enlist, he is pushing them to be more vocal about the good work their doing to make our homeland safe--things like holding affirmative action bakesales, holding immigrant hunts, almost single-handedly funding Ann Coulter, David Horowitz, and Michelle Malkin, relieving the elderly of the burden of having money, and punching out Joan Jett.

Posts introducing OPERATION YELLOW ELEPHANT

The first post
- The General asks Rep. Mike Pence to ask the CR's to enlist when he speaks at their convention.

The rationale behind OPERATION YELLOW ELEPHANT

OPERATION YELLOW ELEPHANT Briefing

Materials

OPERATION YELLOW ELEPHANT stickers, buttons, tees, etc.

Special Ops

Special Op "First Strike" - Ask the College Republican leadership to pass a resolution disbanding their organization and calling for its membership to enlist.

Special Op "Video Ninja" - Strike Teams will videotape encounters with CRs near their convention.

Mark's op - Mark sends a number of emails to the College Republican National Committee asking them to put links to recruiters on their site. They remain silent.

Special Op "Volunteer" - Taskforce Burnplant contacts CR organizations across the country and asks their members to enlist. This results in a lengthy Exchange with the Gonzaga College CRs.

Poem of the Day


from On Living by Nazim Hikmet

This earth will grow cold,
a star among stars
and one of the smallest,
a gilded mote on blue velvet--
I mean this, our great earth.
This earth will grow cold one day,
not like a block of ice
or a dead cloud even
but like an empty walnut it will roll along
in pitch-black space ...
You must grieve for this right now
--you have to feel this sorrow now--
for the world must be loved this much
if you're going to say "I lived" ...



Trans. by Randy Blasing and Mutlu Konuk (1993)


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For the first time ever, information and pictures of all ACME products, specialty divisions, and services featured in Warner Bros. cartoons (made by the original studio from 1935 to 1964) are gathered here, in one convenient catalog. For more information about any ACME product, simply click on the thumbnail picture.

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Land Study on Grazing Denounced

from LATimes via Yahoo!:

By Julie Cart Times Staff Writer Sat Jun 18,

The Bush administration altered critical portions of a scientific analysis of the environmental impact of cattle grazing on public lands before announcing Thursday that it would relax regulations limiting grazing on those lands, according to scientists involved in the study. A government biologist and a hydrologist, who both retired this year from the Bureau of Land Management said their conclusions that the proposed new rules might adversely affect water quality and wildlife, including endangered species, were excised and replaced with language justifying less stringent regulations favored by cattle ranchers.

Grazing regulations, which affect 160 million acres of public land in the Western U.S., set the conditions under which ranchers may use that land, and guide government managers in determining how many cattle may graze, where and for how long without harming natural resources.

The original draft of the environmental analysis warned that the new rules would have a "significant adverse impact" on wildlife, but that phrase was removed. The bureau now concludes that the grazing regulations are "beneficial to animals."

Eliminated from the final draft was another conclusion that read: "The Proposed Action will have a slow, long-term adverse impact on wildlife and biological diversity in general."

Also removed was language saying how a number of the rule changes could adversely affect endangered species.

"This is a whitewash. They took all of our science and reversed it 180 degrees," said Erick Campbell, a former BLM state biologist in Nevada and a 30-year bureau employee who retired this year. He was the author of sections of the report pertaining to the effect on wildlife and threatened and endangered species.

"They rewrote everything," Campbell said in an interview this week. "It's a crime." (more)

Bird flu drug for humans rendered useless

China’s use on chickens has led to resistance in virus
By Alan Sipress

The Washington Post
Updated: 11:55 p.m. ET June 17, 2005

HONG KONG - Chinese farmers, acting with the approval and encouragement of government officials, have tried to suppress major bird flu outbreaks among chickens with an antiviral drug meant for humans, animal health experts said. International researchers now conclude that this is why the drug will no longer protect people in case of a worldwide bird flu epidemic.

China's use of the drug amantadine, which violated international livestock guidelines, was widespread years before China acknowledged any infection of its poultry, according to pharmaceutical compan
y executives and veterinarians.

Since January 2004, avian influenza has spread across nine East Asian countries, devastating poultry flocks and killing at least 54 people in Cambodia, Thailand and Vietnam, but none in China. World Health Organization officials warned the virus could easily undergo genetic changes to create a strain capable of killing tens of millions of people worldwide.

Although China did not report an avian influenza outbreak until February 2004, executives at Chinese pharmaceutical companies and veterinarians said farmers were widely using the drug to control the virus in the late 1990s.

The Chinese Agriculture Ministry approved the production and sale of the drug for use in chickens, according to officials from the Chinese pharmaceutical industry and the government, although such use is barred in the United States and many other countries. Local government veterinary stations instructed Chinese farmers on how to use the drug and at times supplied it, animal health experts said.

Amantadine is one of two types of medication for treating human influenza. But researchers determined last year that the H5N1 bird flu strain circulating in Vietnam and Thailand, the two countries hardest hit by the virus, had become resistant, leaving only an alternative drug that is difficult to produce in large amounts and much less affordable, especially for developing countries in Southeast Asia.

‘It’s definitely an issue’
"It's definitely an issue if there's a pandemic. Amantadine is off the table," said Richard Webby, an influenza expert at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital in Memphis.

Health experts outside China previously said they suspected the virus's resistance to the medicine was linked to drug use at poultry farms but were unable to confirm the practice inside the country. Influenza researchers at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in particular, have collected information about amantadine use from Chinese Web sites but have been frustrated in their efforts to learn more on the ground.


China has previously run afoul of international agencies for its response to public and agricultural health crises, notably the SARS epidemic that began in 2002. China's health minister was fired after the government acknowledged it had covered up the extent of the SARS outbreak by preventing state-run media from reporting about the disease for months and by minimizing its seriousness.

In interviews, executives at Chinese pharmaceutical companies confirmed that the drug had been used since the late 1990s, to treat chickens sickened by bird flu and to prevent healthy ones from catching it.

"Amantadine is widely used in the entire country," said Zhang Libin, head of the veterinary medicine division of Northeast General Pharmaceutical Factory in Shenyang. He added, "Many pharmaceutical factories around China produce amantadine, and farmers can buy it easily in veterinary medicine stores."

Drug’s price far lower in China
Zhang and other animal health experts said the drug was used by small, private farms and larger commercial ones. Amantadine sells for about $10 a pound, a fraction of the drug's cost in Europe and the United States, where its price would be prohibitive for all but human consumption.

Two months before China first reported a bird flu outbreak in poultry to the World Animal Health Organization in February 2004, officials had begun a massive campaign to immunize poultry against the virus. They have now used at least 2.6 billion doses of a vaccine.

But researchers in Hong Kong have reported that the H5N1 flu virus has been circulating in mainland China for at least eight years and that Chinese farms suffered major outbreaks in 1997, 2001 and 2003. Scientists have traced the virus that has devastated farms across Southeast Asia in the last two years to a strain isolated from a goose in China's Guangdong province in 1996.

The U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization has long recommended that countries try to eradicate infectious animal diseases by slaughtering infected flocks and increasing safety measures on farms. Last year, the FAO also suggested that countries consider vaccinating their poultry against bird flu. But the guidelines never recommended the use of antiviral drugs such as amantadine, which, unlike vaccination, has been proven to make viruses resistant, officials said.

In 1987, researchers at a U.S. Department of Agriculture laboratory demonstrated that bird flu viruses developed drug resistance within a matter of days when infected chickens received amantadine.

Still, a veterinarian with personal knowledge of livestock practices across China said Chinese farmers responded to the bird flu outbreak by putting the drug into their chickens' drinking water. The veterinarian asked that his name not be published because he feared for his livelihood.

Explanation for ‘such high resistance levels’
"This would explain why we're seeing such high resistance levels," said Michael T. Osterholm, director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota. While various antibiotics have lost their effectiveness because of overuse, he said, the emergence of resistance to amantadine is unprecedented because it is an antiviral.

"This is the first example of an antiviral drug that was used for animal production that has major implications for human health," Osterholm said.

A popular Chinese handbook, titled Medicine Pamphlet for Animals and Poultry, provides farmers and livestock officials with specific prescriptions for amantadine use to treat chickens and ferrets with respiratory viruses. The manual, written by a professor at the People's Liberation Army Agriculture and Husbandry University and issued by a military-owned publishing company, prescribes 0.025 grams of amantadine for each kilogram of chicken body weight.

Farmers also use the drug to prevent healthy chickens from catching bird flu, giving it to their poultry about once a month or more often when the weather is liable to change and chickens are considered susceptible to illness, veterinary experts said. The antiviral is often mixed with Chinese herbs,vitamins and other medicine.

In the United States, amantadine was approved in 1976 by the Food and Drug Administration for treating influenza in adults. Amantadine and it sister drug, rimantadine, known collectively as amantadines, work by preventing a flu virus from reproducing itself. Both are now ineffective against the H5N1 strain.

International health experts stressed that amantadine could have been vital in stanching the spread of the bird flu virus in the early weeks of an epidemic.

Now, the only alternative is oseltamivir and closely related zanamivir, which stop the flu virus from leaving infected cells and attacking new ones. Oseltamivir is easier to use and has far greater sales.

"Amantadine is the cheapest drug against flu," said Malik Peiris, an influenza expert at the University of Hong Kong. "It is much more affordable for many countries of the region. Now, it is clearly no longer an option."

Special correspondents Ling Jin in Beijing and K.C. Ng in Hong Kong contributed to this report.

Great. The pandemic to end all pandemic gets a leg up.

Blasts from the Past

  • The war “could last six days, six weeks. I doubt six months.” – Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld [2/7/03]

  • We will, in fact, be greeted as liberators. . . . I think it will go relatively quickly... (in) weeks rather than months.” – Vice President Cheney [3/16/03]

  • Major combat operations in Iraq have ended.” – President Bush, [5/1/03]

My Hometown Paper Comes Through!

Memos show British concern over Iraq plans

via the Centre Daily Times:




Associated Press

When Prime Minister Tony Blair's chief foreign policy adviser dined with Condoleezza Rice six months after Sept. 11, the then-U.S. national security adviser didn't want to discuss Osama bin Laden or al-Qaida. She wanted to talk about "regime change" in Iraq, setting the stage for the U.S.-led invasion more than a year later.

President Bush wanted Blair's support, but British officials worried the White House was rushing to war, according to a series of leaked secret Downing Street memos that have renewed questions and debate about Washington's motives for ousting Saddam Hussein.

In one of the memos, British Foreign Office political director Peter Ricketts openly asks whether the Bush administration had a clear and compelling military reason for war.

"U.S. scrambling to establish a link between Iraq and al-Qaida is so far frankly unconvincing," Ricketts says in the memo. "For Iraq, `regime change' does not stack up. It sounds like a grudge between Bush and Saddam."

The documents confirm Blair was genuinely concerned about Saddam's alleged weapons of mass destruction, but also indicate he was determined to go to war as America's top ally, even though his government thought a pre-emptive attack may be illegal under international law.

"The truth is that what has changed is not the pace of Saddam Hussein's WMD programs, but our tolerance of them post-11 September," said a typed copy of a March 22, 2002 memo obtained Thursday by The Associated Press and written to Foreign Secretary Jack Straw.

"But even the best survey of Iraq's WMD programs will not show much advance in recent years on the nuclear, missile or CW/BW (chemical or biological weapons) fronts: the programs are extremely worrying but have not, as far as we know, been stepped up."

Details from Rice's dinner conversation also are included in one of the secret memos from 2002, which reveal British concerns about both the invasion and poor postwar planning by the Bush administration, which critics say has allowed the Iraqi insurgency to rage.

The eight memos - all labeled "secret" or "confidential" - were first obtained by British reporter Michael Smith, who has written about them in The Daily Telegraph and The Sunday Times.

Smith told AP he protected the identity of the source he had obtained the documents from by typing copies of them on plain paper and destroying the originals.

The AP obtained copies of six of the memos (the other two have circulated widely). A senior British official who reviewed the copies said their content appeared authentic. He spoke on condition of anonymity because of the secret nature of the material.

The eight documents total 36 pages and range from 10-page and eight-page studies on military and legal options in Iraq, to brief memorandums from British officials and the minutes of a private meeting held by Blair and his top advisers.

Toby Dodge, an Iraq expert who teaches at Queen Mary College, University of London, said the documents confirmed what post-invasion investigations have found.

"The documents show what official inquiries in Britain already have, that the case of weapons of mass destruction was based on thin intelligence and was used to inflate the evidence to the level of mendacity," Dodge said. "In going to war with Bush, Blair defended the special relationship between the two countries, like other British leaders have. But he knew he was taking a huge political risk at home. He knew the war's legality was questionable and its unpopularity was never in doubt."

Dodge said the memos also show Blair was aware of the postwar instability that was likely among Iraq's complex mix of Sunnis, Shiites and Kurds once Saddam was defeated.

The British documents confirm, as well, that "soon after 9/11 happened, the starting gun was fired for the invasion of Iraq," Dodge said.

Speculation about if and when that would happen ran throughout 2002.

On Jan. 29, Bush called Iraq, Iran and North Korea "an axis of evil." U.S. newspapers began reporting soon afterward that a U.S.-led war with Iraq was possible.

On Oct. 16, the U.S. Congress voted to authorize Bush to go to war against Iraq. On Feb. 5, 2003, then-Secretary of State Colin L. Powell presented the Bush administration's case about Iraq's weapons to the U.N. Security Council. On March 19-20, the U.S.-led invasion began.

Bush and Blair both have been criticized at home since their WMD claims about Iraq proved false. But both have been re-elected, defending the conflict for removing a brutal dictator and promoting democracy in Iraq. Both administrations have dismissed the memos as old news.

Details of the memos appeared in papers early last month but the news in Britain quickly turned to the election that returned Blair to power. In the United States, however, details of the memos' contents reignited a firestorm, especially among Democratic critics of Bush.

It was in a March 14, 2002, memo that Blair's chief foreign policy adviser, David Manning, told the prime minister about the dinner he had just had with Rice in Washington.

"We spent a long time at dinner on Iraq," wrote Manning, who's now British ambassador to the United States. Rice is now Bush's secretary of state.

"It is clear that Bush is grateful for your (Blair's) support and has registered that you are getting flak. I said that you would not budge in your support for regime change but you had to manage a press, a Parliament and a public opinion that was very different than anything in the States. And you would not budge either in your insistence that, if we pursued regime change, it must be very carefully done and produce the right result. Failure was not an option."

Manning said, "Condi's enthusiasm for regime change is undimmed." But he also said there were signs of greater awareness of the practical difficulties and political risks.

Blair was to meet with Bush at his ranch in Crawford, Texas, on April 8, and Manning told his boss: "No doubt we need to keep a sense of perspective. But my talks with Condi convinced me that Bush wants to hear your views on Iraq before taking decisions. He also wants your support. He is still smarting from the comments by other European leaders on his Iraq policy."

A July 21 briefing paper given to officials preparing for a July 23 meeting with Blair says officials must "ensure that the benefits of action outweigh the risks."

"In particular we need to be sure that the outcome of the military action would match our objective... A postwar occupation of Iraq could lead to a protracted and costly nation-building exercise. As already made clear, the U.S. military plans are virtually silent on this point."

The British worried that, "Washington could look to us to share a disproportionate share of the burden. Further work is required to define more precisely the means by which the desired end state would be created, in particular what form of government might replace Saddam Hussein's regime and the time scale within which it would be possible to identify a successor."

In the March 22 memo from Foreign Office political director Ricketts to Foreign Secretary Straw, Ricketts outlined how to win public and parliamentary support for a war in Britain: "We have to be convincing that: the threat is so serious/imminent that it is worth sending our troops to die for; it is qualitatively different from the threat posed by other proliferators who are closer to achieving nuclear capability (including Iran)."

Blair's government has been criticized for releasing an intelligence dossier on Iraq before the war that warned Saddam could launch chemical or biological weapons on 45 minutes' notice.

On March 25 Straw wrote a memo to Blair, saying he would have a tough time convincing the governing Labour Party that a pre-emptive strike against Iraq was legal under international law.

"If 11 September had not happened, it is doubtful that the U.S. would now be considering military action against Iraq," Straw wrote. "In addition, there has been no credible evidence to link Iraq with OBL (Osama bin Laden) and al-Qaida."

He also questioned stability in a post-Saddam Iraq: "We have also to answer the big question - what will this action achieve? There seems to be a larger hole in this than on anything."

ON THE NET

http://hosted.ap.org/specials/dowdoc/fcolegal020308.pdf

http://hosted.ap.org/specials/dowdoc/manning020314.pdf

http://hosted.ap.org/specials/dowdoc/meyer020318.pdf

http://hosted.ap.org/specials/dowdoc/ods020308.pdf

http://hosted.ap.org/specials/dowdoc/ricketts020322.pdf

http://hosted.ap.org/specials/dowdoc/straw020325.pdf

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,2089-1648758,00.html

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,2087-1593607,00.html

Woo Hoo! Our local Knight Ridder daily (State College, PA) has actually been better than most newspapers on Bush. Now they've taken on the Downing Street Memos!

The local county Democratic Party organization organized a letter, phone and email campaign and they listened. Hurrah for them!