Monday, March 31, 2008

Thatcher, big oil and the mercenaries.

Three years ago, Sir Mark Thatcher, son of former British prime minister Margaret Thatcher, pleaded guilty in South Africa to negligently investing in a helicopter used in an attempted coup in Equatorial Guinea. The charge and plea were the result of a bargain made with South African prosecutors which saw Thatcher avoid jail (and more serious charges) and pay a hefty fine instead.

Thatcher has long been suspected of being one of the principles behind the attempted coup of Equatorial Guinea's president Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo. This last Saturday rumours started to circulate that Equatorial Guinea had issued an arrest warrant for Thatcher. Those have turned out to be untrue.

However, it appears a mercenary at the centre of the attempted coup has fingered Thatcher and says his involvement was more than just "negligent investment". According to ex-SAS officer and mercenary Simon Mann, Thatcher knew everything.
A British mercenary awaiting trial in Equatorial Guinea for leading a failed 2004 coup has said the son of former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher was involved in the plot, the public prosecutor said on Sunday.

Jose Olo said former British special forces officer Simon Mann had testified that Mark Thatcher knew all about the scheme to overthrow President Teodoro Obiang Nguema, who has ruled the oil-rich West African country since 1979.

Of course Mann himself had no reason to overthrow Obiang. He was the hired help. The fact that Obiang runs an oppressive and corrupt regime factored little in Mann's presence during the coup attempt. It was all about oil and that would interest Thatcher.

What makes this interesting is the kind of people with whom Thatcher obviously associates, (aside from the fact that he, a private citizen of the UK with notable family connections, is prepared to become involved in overthrowing governments and starting wars). Mann is real piece of work with a long and sordid history.

Mann had been an officer in the Scots Guards, a connection with some later significance, who went on to become a member of the Special Air Service. He left the British army in 1985 to enter the computer security field. Recalled from the reserves for the 1991 Gulf War, Mann completed that particular service and entered the oil industry with one Tony Buckingham, a former member of the British Special Boat Service. Tony Buckingham today is the CEO of the Canadian gas and oil exploration company, Heritage Oil Company. His short bio indicates he was once a security adviser to various governments. Polite language for something far more complex. (As an aside Heritage Oil has announced it is planning on de-listing its shares on the Toronto Stock Exchange and listing them in the UK as a Jersey-based parent company.)

When UNITA rebels, in 1993, took and held the Angolan port of Soyo, closing Angola's oil production facilities, the Angolan government asked Buckingham for assistance. Buckingham called Executive Outcomes for direct military assistance. Actually, Buckingham was one of the founders of Executive Outcomes. In 1993 Buckingham, along with Mann and one other individual, registered Executive Outcomes in the UK as a private security company. The other individual? Eeben Barlow.

Eeben Barlow became the first leader of Executive Outcomes and his history should have set off alarm bells around the world. Barlow was the former head of the apartheid-era South African Civil Cooperation Bureau - a polite name for an organization which engaged in the assassination of political opponents and developed European-based covers for companies intended to work around UN anti-apartheid sanctions. What made Barlow particularly attractive to Executive Outcomes was his high-level contacts in the South African government and access to personnel from the soon-to-be-disbanded South African 32nd Battalion and from South African special forces and paramilitary units which were being drawn down as apartheid crumbled. Within a year of being established Executive Outcomes, led by Barlow, Buckingham and Mann, could offer close to 500 quasi-military officers and over 3000 hardened combat troops, most of whom had extensive counter-insurgency training and experience fighting Angolan rebels. Further, many of the South Africans had been engaged supporting UNITA and knew their inner workings.

Executive Outcomes cleaned up, if more on a public relations front than anything else. UNITA was crushed (the Angolan army played a significant role) and Angola's oil production was back in the hands of the oil companies, including Ranger Oil, another Canadian company with whom Buckingham had been doing business since 1991, and eventually Heritage Oil. Buckingham, Mann and Barlow had secured the Angolan oil supply and they were deeply entwined with one Canadian oil exploration company and would soon be connected directly with one which Buckingham himself would found.

Then Sierra Leone called in Barlow, Buckingham and Mann. Executive Outcomes was tasked with quelling an insurgency led by the Revolutionary United Front (RUF). Once again Executive Outcomes succeeded. They did it by securing the diamond fields and they showed up as a professional and fully air-mobile brigade, complete with armoured fighting vehicles.

It was shortly afterwards that Buckingham was accused of purposely introducing Executive Outcomes to weak governments plagued with guerrilla insurgencies but with extensive oil and diamond resources. Buckingham has denied it, but once again one of his companies maneuvered its way into control of diamond concession in the very fields which Executive Outcomes had taken to lever out the RUF. Branch Energy, a mining development company owned by Buckingham and registered in the Isle of Man, gained control of extensive diamond resources in Sierra Leone. Branch Energy was sold to Canadian DiamondWorks of Vancouver, British Columbia. Buckingham retained 30 percent control of that company and the diamond production he had secured in Sierra Leone.

Executive Outcomes had some serious exposure problems. First was the dirty connection with South Africa. Secondly, the connection with African mineral and oil concessions was becoming obvious enough that questions were being raised. Executive Outcomes had engagements in seven African countries, all of which held the incentive of mineral or petroleum wealth.

To optically break this link, in December 1996, the same three principles incorporated a British company called Sandline International. They brought with them Nic van der Berg and Michael Grunberg. And they added another person who would actually head up the company: A former Lieutenant Colonel in the Scots Guards, Simon Mann's former regiment.

Enter Tim Spicer.

Spicer's first major outing as a mercenary leader would result in two things: The mission would end in failure and, the organic links between Executive Outcomes, Sandline International and large mineral/petroleum extraction companies would be firmly established.

Continued in Part Two.

Calling Malthus


Plundered by severe weather in producing countries and by a boom in demand from fast-developing nations, the world's wheat stocks are at 30-year lows. Grain prices have been on the rise for five years, ending decades of cheap food.

Drought, a declining dollar, a shift of investment money into commodities and use of farm land to grow fuel have all contributed to food woes. But population growth and the growing wealth of China and other emerging countries are likely to be more enduring factors.

World population is set to hit 9 billion by 2050, and most of the extra 2.5 billion people will live in the developing world. It is in these countries that the population is demanding dairy and meat, which require more land to produce.

"This is an additional setback for the world economy, at a time when we are already going through major turbulence. But the biggest drama is the impact of higher food prices on the poor," Angel Gurria, head of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, or OECD, told Reuters.

In Gurria's native Mexico, tens of thousands took to the streets last year over the cost of tortillas, a national staple whose price rocketed in tandem with the price of corn (maize).

Global food prices, based on United Nations records, rose 35 percent in the year to the end of January, markedly accelerating an upturn that began, gently at first, in 2002. Since then, prices have risen 65 percent.


This is where neoliberal economics meet reality, especially in the West. Societies historically stored a surplus of the harvest for lean years. There was no guarantee of bountiful crops from year to year, and access to distant food sources was limited. Food production and consumption were intensely localised. In today's globalised world, food production and consumption is highly decentralised with wealthy countries absorbing much of the global supply. While on the surface this may look a like a resilient system as declines in one region's production (say Aussie wheat) mean the impacts should be spread between others, it falls apart when the whole system is stressed and there's limited alternatives. Further, globalised markets treat food as just another commodity like plastic toys, and not as a public good like defence. What this means is that food sourcing and pricing is left to market mechanisms and the system does not tolerate surpluses. Efficient, just-in-time delivery is the name of the game, designed to keep grain and food profitable for pesticide companies and farming corporations. You don't see it, but your city's supermarkets would empty in a matter of days should there be a supply interruption. If you think the Canadian government maintains a strategic food reserve, to release to the market to keep prices affordable, as the US does with oil, dream on.

There is a slow-brewing storm here, especially if the worst predictions of the subprime crisis pan out. Poor countries and poor people have long understood the problem of food-scarcity and that is why places like Vietnam and China are beginning to take counter-measures. We in the rich states, do not.

Periods of uncertainty are also fertile ground for people with penchant for consolidating power.

This calls for the A-Team!!

I'm with John Cole. Call out Gavin right (cough) now!

This demands immediate and uninterrupted attention. An example:
Have you dated liberals before? If so, any difference you can tell between liberal and conservative guys?

...My experience with liberals is that superficially, they may be more fun to be around. They're a bit looser and more relaxed. They make an effort to be more sensitive, but the sensitivity only goes so far. It's easy for a man to keep this illusion of being a great, sensitive romantic if he knows he's just going to sleep with you and then say good-bye. Anybody can be Mr. Love God for one night or one week or one month.

When I became conservative, which coincided with my becoming a Christian, I realized that even though there were things I liked sentimentally about liberal men, I wanted somebody who shared my values. Conservatives might not always be so easy to get along with at first, but I thought it was worth my time to get to know men who were compatible with me and would eventually warm up.

Heavens to Betsy! She waits for them to warm up!!

This is going to take some work.

In which we slap a smiley face on...

Actually Rev, while I questioned the purpose, I agreed it was a simple task, easily accomplished. So, yes, we're playing in all nine innings. Speaking of innings.

All will kindly observe the sign on the bar at O'Neill's Irish Pub. That applies not just to scribblers who live with blogger, but to comments as well.

Keep in mind that, even though there has been nothing but the sound of crickets from the Stephen Taylor consortium on this... well, just sayin'.

So, have fun! But keep it clean.

Mercy me, such foolish contrarianism

While Dave questioned the usefulness of Canadian Cynic's civility for truth challenge, arguing that we should not consider ourselves obliged to play nice with people who won't do likewise, I did, after much hemming and hawing, sign up, so I cannot give full play to range of colourful expressions I would like to use to describe Richard Peter Foster's collection of contrarian nonsense and flat out balderdash in the Financial Post recently, nor to describe Ms. McMillian's insistence that apples are oranges based on her own willful misinterpretation of the facts regarding the recent "Earth Hour." (Link goes to CC's critique, I will not send traffic to her site.)

As to Foster's foolishness, well, if you have a million scientists and 1, 999,997 of them are climate experts who say global warming is real and man-made and three who are say, Christopher Monckton or Tim Ball or some other charlatan or serial prevaricator bought and paid for by the petroleum industry, I think it is fair to say the science is settled. (Click the links to see a laundry list of the way and places such people have been discredited.) The jury is not out on climate change any more than it is out on whether the earth is flat, to say otherwise is simply false. If you still have any doubts, try any of these links offered here. Note to climate change deniers on the far right: Just because you hate Al Gore doesn't mean he's wrong about climate change.

Foster's statement that "Earth Hour" is somehow facistic leads me to wonder if he has been spending too much time reading Mr. Jonah Goldberg's recent unintentionally comic magnum opus. As has been pointed out elsewhere, how is an event that is strictly voluntary and does not involve appeals to notions of racial or cultural superiority or militant nationalism facistic?
Truly, Foster gives one pause when he erupts with such stupendous statements as this:

"Leo Burnet's chairman, Nigel Marsh, demonstrated his skill both in semantic perversion and moral obfuscation when he declared: "I'm an optimist about climate change. The human race eventually abolished slavery and gave women the vote. We eventually work it out."
Get the implication? "Deny" the dubious science or dangerous politics of anthropogenic climate change and you're the kind of person who would support slavery and keep women barefoot and pregnant in the kitchen!"

A simple statement of optimism by Marsh, that people will eventually choose to do the right thing, brings an astounding outburst of defensiveness from Foster that just because he is out to lunch on climate change, doesn't mean he supports slavery or keeping women pregnant, shoeless and chained to stove. I might wonder aloud which part of the political spectrum it was that fought to continue slavery and deny women the vote and equal rights (Hint: not liberals) but that, gentle reader would be a less civil area of discourse.

Suffice to say that a shorter version of Foster's article written in a different time might go something like this:
"Anyone who thinks walking upright is a good idea is a fool. And this whole notion of banding together and sharing the work - nonsense! No one has proved that division of labour and cooperation results in more food and even if it did, what would we do with the extra time? Paint on the cave walls or learn to make fire? Bah, humbug!"

As to the aforementioned proprietress of Small Dead Animals (nope, I will not link to her site. Use Google if you must), I haven't really much to add to CC's analysis -- and by analysis I mean pointing and laughing -- of her contention that Earth Hour was a failure because she urged her regular readers to use as much energy as possible during the hour in question.

Her argument seems to be that because energy use in the set period did not go down, but merely did not increase as much as it does on an average day, she is somehow a winner and people who are in favour of saving energy and using less expensive fossil fuels are somehow losers. That is rather like saying that if you slam on the brakes while going 100 kph and your car doesn't suddenly go in reverse, but instead just slows down, your brakes are broken.

I think that is the kind of dishonesty that CC was talking about when he proposed this challenge.

As for the foolish contrarianism of people who went out of their way to use as much electricity as possible during Earth Hour, there have been numerous suggestions for declaring other days of activism during which you can feel free to "stick it to the Man" by doing the opposite. We over at the Woodshed (by which I mean me) are declaring tomorrow "International multicultural, gay rights, feminist, anti-global warming Don't-pour-hot-sauce-in-your-eyes Day" Do what you feel you must.

cross posted from you know where

Whoops, my bad: I mistakenly identified the author of the piece of tomfoolery in the Finanacial Post as Richard Foster, when in fact the man's name is Peter Foster. Sorry about that. Thanks to Pogge for catching my error. See, this is what you do when you make a mistake, you admit the mistake, correct it and move on. You do not insist that you are right in the face of all available evidence and declare victory. You do not insist that such empirical evidence is a plot by your political opponents. You do not pretend that such a mistake never occurred. Not that I'm accusing anyone...
More oops:Dad-diddly-durn burn it! I was sure I had typed "2 million scientists"

Some apples don't fall far from the tree

Prominent offspring of famous facist+ multiple hookers+ nazi regalia+Fleet street tabloid=Hilarity!Yes, there are more important things going on in the world. Yes, what people do in the privacy of their own homes is their own business. Still, this is what we in the journalism business call a perfect storm. If only it had been Dick Cheney or George Bush.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Owls on campus: Owlcam

Thompson Rivers University in Kamloops BC, discovered that they had new residents... in the trees. A Great Horned Owl has established a nest with two owlets in a spruce tree next to the university science building.

According to TRU nesting this close to an urban environment is rare. So, TRU has set up a streaming webcam. Best viewed between sunrise and sunset PDT.

Photo: CanadianNinja at Wunderground.

Earth Hour and the pandas of soft fascism

I once pitched a very small potatoes proposal to a local councillor over lunch regarding raising awareness for the need for low income housing. It involved a small voluntary gesture of public engagement.
"It'll never work," he said, not unkindly. "People will reject it on the grounds that somewhere somebody they don't know might benefit from it."
I laughed.

I laughed again when I read "Earth Hour's soft fascism" by Peter Foster in Wednesday's Fanatical Post."Take back the night!" he exhorts, and he's serious about it! but it's in Friday's "Don't lie down with pandas" that he gets down to it. There is, he warns, the likelihood that Earth Hour will give its sponsor WWF not only power but "the potential for earning big bucks" so "keep those lights burning brightly between 8 and 9 on Saturday night".

What a complete ass.

Canadian Cynic links to Foster's amusing blogging counterparts in the rightardosphere who apparently celebrated their own voluntary gesture of public engagement on Saturday night by running their dishwashers with no dishes in them and seeing how high they could crank the thermostat before they passed out in a pile of cheetohs from heat prostration.

From CC's comments :
"i suppose that means that when i launch 'world hygiene hour' we can expect matthew and kate's kult kids to shit their own pants in defiance. hmm, i guess i should get cracking on organizing 'no drowning in the toilet' hour too." by pretty shaved ape


"Anyways, don't forget folks, Monday, April 7 is our first annual Lib-Left-sponsored "Don't Slash Your Wrists Day." And of course Friday June 6 is Latte-Sipping-Torontonians-sponsored "Don't Drink 750 ml of Vodka and Swallow Two (2) Fistfuls of Sleeping Pills Day."Fall schedule should be available any time now."
by ¢rÄßG®äŠŠ

Heh. Earth Hour has turned out to be more humorous than I expected.
H/T to Vanity Press for the Foster link

Update : 30 million people worldwide turned out the lights at 8pm but they were still burning brightly at Harper's house and his third floor office in the parliament buildings. No word yet on whether cheetohs and dishwashers were involved.

Cross-posted at Creekside

Friday, March 28, 2008

Friday night musings and a response to Dr. Dawg

It's Friday night here in Winnipeg and a few other places. Half Pints Brewing Co. Little Scrapper IPA (that's India Pale Ale for non-beer types) is on the table cos we likes our Half Pints we do, and so should you. You can apparently get it Regina now at something called Beer Bros, but it does not appear to have made it further West, or East for that matter. Shame really. Where was I going before I started talking about beer? I don't remember.

Oh yeah.

Our fucking government. Some dude going by a name roughly translated as Top Cock slagging Winter Soldier stuff at the Woodshed, but then getting all shrinky-dink-raisin-baggy when invited to elaborate. And climatechangeAfhghanistaneconomyandabunchofotherstuffpertainingtoourcollectivefuturethatalllinkstogetherin thissystem.

But first the gummint:

Fuck you, you spineless bunch of fuckwads (not you, dear reader, the but ConLibDipBloc self-reproducing circle jerk that for one reason or another we tolerate). That is all.

Skipping the second point because I can't think of anything clever to say about it after a few of the aforementioned beers, I'm going to respond to Dr. Dawg:

The government as we hold it is an institution designed and constructed in another era, in a different context that that which we face now. Some lament the first-past-the-post electoral system we have a the source of problems but I think it goes much deeper. I think we've hit a cultural-political threshold. Collectively I mean. There is a great mass of people who have lost interest in the politics that run the country, or the world for that matter. We can lament their ignorance. We can lament teh stupid because it is cathartic. But, stepping back, I think this is a function of our time. Our institutions of parliamentary democracy are little changed in several centuries years ago. Our conception of war and peace are still informed by great-struggle narratives stemming from WW2 and the Cold War. Our responses to recent conflict are rooted in both the great-struggle ideal, and European colonial-type interpretations of the rest of the world. While our trade and economic systems are globally integrated, our cultural narratives have caught up only [with limits, right BTs?] domestically (multiculturalism) because we still send our armies half a world away to 'correct' people with whom we have absolutely no connection, whose lives are thus a rhetorical fantasy for the vast majority of us. Elections are won on single, luxury issues, and turnouts are low. How do you change the culture?

I don't think it can be done through simple activism. I don't think people are interested, but I think this disinterest is a function of the status quo. That being stable economy, stable government, stable livelihoods. Without enough people being affected, they won't show interest in change. We're highly resilient creatures when it comes to tolerating skullduggery. We'll keep going down the road until they start sending us to camps. So things need get bad before change happens. Pearl Harbour gets bombed. Or, the global economy collapses because it has grown far too complex to control. Or we suffer a sudden exponential spike in food prices. We don't do well at adapting voluntarily. We're experiential learners. As a culture, we will change when we are confronted with something that our cultural-political regime cannot accomodate. It is then that we shift into a new way of organising ourselves.

I think we're near that transformation period now. This state of static political-cultural dysfunction can be mapped.

The trick then, in my view, is how we manage the coming change.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Gazatteer needs your support - do it!

For all the Vancouverites : an excerpt from his email to Galloping Beaver:

" Due to the duplicitous action of Mr. Campbell's provincial government a chunk of Pacific Spirit Park, which is on the Western edge of Vancouver and is kind of like Stanley Park only wilder, will soon fall under the Developers' axes.

There is only one faint hope, which is that our Civic pols might actually show some gumption and say 'hell no!'

And they're meeting to talk about it tomorrow.

Thus, I have a post up asking/pleading with anyone living in the Greater Vancouver Regional District (pretty much all of the lower mainland) to Email these civic pols asking them to take a stand."

Go here.

Friday Update : Well, that meeting didn't go too well.

B.C. sets expropriation without compensation precedent
"A provincial law that gives Victoria the power to expropriate chunks of Pacific Spirit regional park without any financial compensation to Metro Vancouver is unprecedented in B.C., a lawyer for the regional government says."
Plus the legislation includes this handy clause : " 'no legal proceedings for damages or compensation ' can be filed against the B.C. government."

The irony of Metro Van now being in more or less the same position endured by the Musqueam First Nation up till now will not be lost on anyone but that doesn't make it right. In fact the particular piece of expropriated parkland was not even in play until a campaign fundraiser for Premier Campbell kicked up unholy hell about losing the golf course.
More at The Gazetteer.

Academy Award Performance . . . .

H/T to Bob the Other:

No commentary needed from me . . . .

Busy few days ahead... and a challenge.

I'll be out of the loop for the next two days or so. Which should make this challenge all that more fun come Monday.

I think we can play in that one.

Whaddaya think?

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

In other news...

Moqtada al-Sadr is stirring and teh surge isn't so surgilicious anymore:

Fighting between Iraqi security forces and Shia militants has spread from Basra to other Shia parts of the country including Baghdad's Sadr City.

At least 30 people have been killed since Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Maliki vowed on a visit to the southern oil city to "re-impose law".

Unrest in Basra has been stoked by a variety of militias and criminal gangs.

There are several thousand Brits just outside Basra that just aren't interested in playing anymore - outside of providing air support for the Iraqi Army. The government is fighting the residents of Basra. Good luck with that.

A bunch more people who never did anything to anyone are going to die. The tragedy continues.

There are times when "No" is against the law.

You want to be a pharmacist? You do the job. You don't get to impose your religious beliefs on others. So says the 3rd District Court of Appeals in Wisconsin.
A state appeals court upheld sanctions Tuesday against a pharmacist who refused to dispense birth control pills to a woman and wouldn't transfer her prescription elsewhere.

The 3rd District Court of Appeals ruled that the punishment the state Pharmacy Examining Board handed down against pharmacist Neil Noesen did not violate his state constitutional rights, specifically his "right of conscience" to religiously oppose birth control.

"Noesen abandoned even the steps necessary to perform in a minimally competent manner under any standard of care," the three-judge panel said. The decision upheld a ruling by Barron County Circuit Judge James Babler.


Noesen, 34, of St. Paul, Minn., told regulators that he is a devout Roman Catholic and refused to refill the prescription or release it to another pharmacy because he didn't want to commit a sin by "impairing the fertility of a human being."

Oh... see how this bent little fuckwad translated his religious beliefs into a sin of faith? It goes to the old question: If I give somebody a knife have I committed murder? Clearly the woman had a prescription from a higher power. In the case of a pharmacist, that would be a medical doctor.

Make no mistake about it. Noesen was imposing his superstitious crap on another human being. And he was, with knowledge and intent, violating the regulations laid out by his state's Department of Regulation and Licensing. All he had to do was direct the woman to a pharmacy where some superstitious bible-thumper wasn't going to try to weave his religious beliefs into state governance.

The Pharmacy Examining Board ruled in 2005 that Noesen failed to carry out his professional responsibility to get the woman's prescription to someone else if he wouldn't fill it himself.

The board reprimanded Noesen and ordered him to attend ethics classes. He was allowed to keep his license as long as he informs all future employers in writing that he won't dispense birth control pills and outlines steps he will take to make sure a patient has access to medication.

The board also found Noesen liable for the cost of the proceedings against him — about $20,000 — but the appeals court ordered the board to reconsider that decision.

That was actually pretty generous. I would have stapled his license to a dartboard.

I can hardly wait for the comments.

Hat tip Cat.

You have a long row to hoe King Abdullah

I agree with Cat who sent this in. It's hard to accept at face value.
Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah plans to launch an effort at dialogue between Islam, Christianity and Judaism to help end inter-religious tension, Saudi media said on Tuesday. State television showed the octogenarian king telling a forum in Riyadh that he would hold meetings with Muslims around the world to build a consensus for a new dialogue with Christians and Jews. "I want to call for conferences between the religions to protect humanity from folly," he said in a speech where he spoke positively of his meeting last year with Pope Benedict. "I wanted to visit the Vatican and I did and I thank him. He met me in a meeting I will not forget, a meeting of one human being with another. I suggested this idea," he said.
In all honesty, if this is real it's a step in the right direction. I suspect however, that it is an 83-year old man, nearing the end of his life, reflecting on what a waste it has been to fight over religion.

The trouble is, Saudi Arabia uses religion not as a means to provide a sense of community to willing followers; it uses religion to control its population and enforce draconian laws. It uses religion to subjugate people.

However appealing all that may be to Pope Benedict, the House of Saud has a lot of in-house cleaning to do and a lot to answer for before the rest of the world, religious or otherwise gives them a place at the table of human do-gooders.

Abdullah has reigned over a society which embraces Wahhabism and which has persecuted the Ahmadi sect of Muslims. The Saudis can't even hold a dialogue between the Muslim denominations within its own borders.

And now Abdullah wants to wet his toes in the waters of religions which have their own internal problems?

Yeah, right. When he quits using boot polish on his beard.

The next time you see the Wilkins Ice Shelf...

It will probably be floating by in chunks the size of football fields attached to... fuck all. One of the largest ice shelves in Antarctica has lost a huge portion of its face as the ice surface of Antarctica retreats.
A vast iceberg has broken away from the Antarctic coast, threatening the collapse of a larger ice shelf that is now “hanging by a thread”.

Satellite images have revealed that about 160 square miles of the Wilkins Shelf have been lost since the end of February, suggesting that climate change could be causing it to disintegrate much more quickly than scientists had predicted. “The ice shelf is hanging by a thread,” said David Vaughan, of the British Antarctic Survey(BAS). “We’ll know in the next few days or weeks what its fate will be.”

Professor Vaughan was a member of a BAS team that predicted in 1993 that the Wilkins Shelf could collapse within 30 years, if the pace of global warming continued.

“Wilkins is the largest ice shelf on the Antarctic Peninsula yet to be threatened,” he said. “I didn’t expect to see things happen this quickly. We predicted it would happen, but it’s happened twice as fast as we predicted.”

Vaughan should not have said that. Now he'll be accused of not knowing the facts about global warming, which, to some people, isn't happening.
Professor Vaughan predicted in 1993 that the northern part of the Wilkins Ice Shelf would be lost within 30 years if climate warming continued. But he said it is happening more quickly than he expected.

He told BBC News: "What we're actually seeing is a chunk of the ice shelf drop off in a way that suggests it is not just a normal part of iceberg formation.

"This is not a sea level rise issue, but is yet another indication of climate change in the Antarctic Peninsula and how it is affecting the environment."

Scientists say the Antarctic Peninsula, which juts out into the Southern Ocean towards the tip of South America, has experienced unprecedented warming over the last 50 years.

Several ice shelves have retreated in the past 30 years - six of them collapsing completely.

Other researchers believe the Wilkins Ice Shelf may hang on a little longer, as Antarctica's summer melt season draws to a close.

Dr Ted Scambos of the National Snow and Ice Data Center at the University of Colorado said: "This unusual show is over for this season. But come January, we'll be watching to see if the Wilkins continues to fall apart."

The Wilkins Ice Shelf is now being held back by 6 kilometer strip of ice.

But all of this matters not one bit. Hell, it's snowing in Manitoba, there have been avalanches on the Coquihalla Highway and northern New York hasn't had a winter like this in years. Anyway, somewhere, someone has pictures of thermometers next to an air conditioner compressor.

This is intended to scare people who would otherwise only piss their pants over terrorists 10,000 miles away.

Here. Let's calm them.

It is just plain wrong to scare all the wingnuts like that.

There. That's better. That's what they all like to see.

Wait until a land-based sheet of ice collapses.

the other "orange revolution"

Cheetos has finally realized who their customers really are and is reaching out to the wingnut-o-sphere. Sadly, No has been there and done that and wiped its orange fingers on conservative shirttails, where one more cheesy stain will scarce be noticed. No word yet on whether Doughy Pantload will actually do a formal endorsement on camera, but obviously we are all hoping.

crossposted from the Woodshed

Running down the clock on Iran

Via Chris Floyd we get a warning that things are definitely coming closer to "the moment" when the Bush administration pulls the pin on Iran.

On Friday, US Vice-President Dick Cheney was in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia knocking back lamb and strawberry juice with his good buddies King Abdullah and Oil Minister Ali al-Nuaimi. The discussions were promoted as being ostensibly about oil, or more precisely, the price of it and how to get it down in a way meaningful enough to calm angry US voters.

There was, however, a shady side to Cheney's visit. (When isn't there a shady side to anything Cheney does?)

Cheney held other discussions. An accompanying aide said, "I can't tell you much about the conversations themselves, these are especially confidential and private conversations."

Especially confidential and private? What are the odds they weren't about the health Abdullah's large stable of horses?

After Cheney's visit the Saudi Sura council suddenly decided that at the top of their agenda should be a discussion about national plans to deal with the radioactive hazards after a possible attack on Iran.
The Saudi Shura council will secretly discuss national plans to deal with any sudden nuclear and radioactive hazards that may affect the kingdom following experts' warnings of possible attacks on Iran's Bushehr nuclear reactors, media reports said Saturday. The Saudi-based King Abdul-Aziz City for Science and Technology has prepared a proposal that encapsulates the probabilities of leaking nuclear and radiation hazards in case of any unexpected nuclear attacks in Iran, the Okaz Saudi newspaper said.
Experts' warnings?! What experts? Someone from Cheney's entourage or perhaps Cheney himself?

Some dots:

1. Admiral William Fallon, who said Iran would never be attacked while he was the commander US Central Command, "resigned".

2. General David Petraeus makes an announcement that the recent attacks on Baghdad's green zone were the work of Iran. He doesn't produce any evidence. He just says he "knows".

3. Cheney visits the Saudis. Media-shy Cheney lets the words "oil" and "money" dominate the purpose of his talks and then goes into Cheney mode. Whatever was discussed is secret.

4. The Saudis go into session to discuss how best to defend against the radioactive fallout after "experts" warn of an impending attack on Iran's nuclear facilities.

5. Republicans are inveterate bombers with less than a year left to lay waste to another country.

Connect them all up.

Hat tip reader Stewart

Monday, March 24, 2008

Cadman... the name rings a bell.

Why has the Chuck Cadman bribery issue suddenly fallen off the radar?

It's not dead yet. Harper and his merry band of sycophants still haven't answered the questions put to them.

I don't care if the news media is tired of it. Sometimes you have to do a boring repetitive job to achieve the end.

Get on with it.


Words escape me.

It's never just about abortion

April Reign zeros in on the testimony of Matt Sande, legislative director for Pro-Life Wisconsin. Sande was testifying before a legislative committee conducting hearings on Compassionate Care for Rape Victims.

During his testimony he was asked point-blank about his group's position on, not abortion, but contraception. His answer was the typical hogwash of hormonal contraceptives being abortifacient and therefore inducing, in the eyes of the anti-choicers, an abortion. Clearly, Sande was representing the belief that the morning-after pill should not be made available to women and, given the circumstances of his appearance, that means denying it to victims of rape.

In the video (at Birth Pangs) one legislator corners Sande and forces him to expose how far the anti-choice agenda actually goes. Sande uncomfortably admits that his group is opposed to all forms of contraception including barrier methods such as condoms. Why? Because it's preventing all that precious male sperm from possibly fertilizing a possibly viable egg. Prior to being forced into giving up that answer, Sande had made it a point to suggest that his group disagrees with hormonal contraceptives because they prevent a fertilized egg from implanting itself in the woman's uterine lining.

That's where Sande's testimony becomes grossly dishonest.

Sande, (and those that make up his ilk), would have us all believe that every fertilized egg in a woman's reproductive system represents a life conceived and a pregnancy. That flies directly in the face of medical evidence. Sande didn't mention that one-third to one-half of all fertilized eggs in a woman's reproductive system never implant in the uterine lining and are naturally expelled.

According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists a pregnancy doesn't begin until after the fertilized zygote has implanted itself in the uterus which can occur anywhere from five to eighteen days after fertilization. If it implants.

Sande pulled another line out of the forced-pregnancy bag. He stated that the reason his anti-choice group is opposed to all forms of contraception is because that would suggest that pregnancy is a medical problem and, in his insular little world, it isn't.

News flash for Mr. Sande: Pregnancy is a medical condition and a medical problem. It's also a financial problem for some, a social problem for others and to some, a combination of the three.

What is galling about Sande's appearance before these legislative hearings is that this was a body attempting to learn more about the provision of care to rape victims and the anti-choice crowd was permitted to use it as a lever to forward their agenda. If anything good came out of it, it was the further exposure of their true agenda. Anti-abortion is only a small part of their goal.

Keep in mind that these individuals normally align with the conservative political house and are all for having less government. Until it comes to sex and then they would go to the ends of the earth to have cameras installed in the nation's bedrooms to make sure that you were toeing their puritan line.

I don't know if the hearings got around to asking Sande his group's views on voluntary sterilization but it's a safe bet that they are opposed to that too. Choice, after all, is choice, and that's up to them; not you.

If the Sandes of this world were ever permitted to run the show you could expect that this couple would be cast out of their community and be required to wear some form of symbol stitched to their clothing to indicate how they had violated Sante's forced-parenthood dictum.

Extreme rodent elimination

Via Buckdog, this Time-Colonist report of a gopher hunt gone, well, berserk.
A new gopher-killing tool called the Rodenator is behind a massive grass fire that threatened several homes just west of Calgary on the Easter weekend.

In his 25 years of firefighting, assistant deputy fire Chief Jim Pendergast of the Municipal District of Rocky View said he's never encountered a fire sparked during a gopher hunt.

The Saturday blaze spread rapidly through tinder-dry prairie grasses. Several residents fled their homes as fire crews managed to stop the flames from devouring houses, although some out buildings were lost.

Oddly, I had first heard of this device just a couple of days ago on a CBC radio program discussing the problems encountered by prairie residents with gophers and the various means to control them. When the Rodenator was being described a passing thought went through my mind that this had the potential to create a massive grass fire.

A group of people who were using the Rodenator - which pumps propane and oxygen into a rodent hole and then ignites the mixture to create an underground shock wave or concussion that instantly kills gophers and collapses the tunnel system - could now face a bill for the incident or bylaw charges, including ignoring a fire ban and burning without a permit.
I've never lived in the prairies, but in my occasional forays into the area I've heard short but descriptive stories of the damage gophers can and have done to crops and livestock. And, several years ago I managed to step into a gopher hole in the dark, but that was minor compared to what farmers and ranchers are dealing with. Apparently now, the population is so out-of-control that desperate measures are required.

It might be of some interest that Montana State University Extension Service has some information on gopher control. Whether it's up-to-date or not I would not know, but one line in the information suggests that things like the Rodenator have been tried before and MSU recommends against it.

Fumigation of pocket gopher holes with gasoline, propane or exhaust from an automobile has been reported but is NOT RECOMMENDED because of safety hazards. These methods could result in serious explosions or the placement of toxic fumes in undesirable areas.
It looks like the Rodenator has demonstrated that clearly enough.

It begins...

From the BBC:

The most senior US general in Iraq has said he has evidence that Iran was behind Sunday's bombardment of Baghdad's heavily fortified Green Zone.

Gen David Petraeus told the BBC he thought Tehran had trained, equipped and funded insurgents who fired the barrage of mortars and rockets.

He said Iran was adding what he described as "lethal accelerants" to a very combustible mix.
Nevermind who started the fire, eh there Gen. Petraeus.


Just another brick in the wall...

As George Bush waxes eloquent about how romantic it must be to be a combatant in the quagmire formerly known as Iraq the US military crossed another grim threshold on Sunday.
A roadside bomb killed four U.S. soldiers in Baghdad on Sunday, the military said, pushing the overall American death toll in the five-year war to at least 4,000. The grim milestone came on a day when at least 61 people were killed across the country.

Rockets and mortars pounded the U.S.-protected Green Zone, underscoring the fragile security situation and the resilience of both Sunni and Shiite extremist groups despite an overall lull in violence.

The attacks on the Green Zone probably stemmed from rising tensions between rival Shiite groups and were the most sustained assault in months against the nerve center of the U.S. mission.

The romanticism of Bush's legacy is killing them.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Winter Soldier

In 1776, Thomas Paine, referring to the numerous desertions from the Continental Army encamped at Valley Forge that winter, wrote the famous words:
"These are the times that try men's souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of his country; but he that stands it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman."

In January 1971, the antiwar veterans group Vietnam Veterans Against War organized several days of hearings in Detroit and asked combat veterans of that war to come forward and talk about the horrible things they had seen and done in Vietnam. The event was called Winter Soldier. The intent was to demonstrate to the American people that events such as the then recently uncovered My Lai massacre were not isolated events, but part of a larger, predictable pattern resulting from U.S. policy and orders from the top. The men talked of prisoners being thrown from helicopters, ears and heads being taken as trophies and wanton and indiscriminate slaughter committed against civilians -- behavior that was not just tacitly condoned, but often encouraged by their commanders. It was this event that led to the Fulbright Senate Committee hearings on the war in April 1971, at which John Kerry, then fresh out of the Navy and active as a leader of the antiwar movement, famously asked "How do you ask a man to be the last man to die in Vietnam? How do you ask a man to be the last man to die for a mistake?"

About ten days ago (things are slow getting to us on the other side of the Pacific at times, and at other times we are slow to get to things) the Iraq Veterans Against the War organized new Winter Soldier hearings.

You likely didn't see anything about it on MSNBC or CNN and certainly not on FOX -- the talking heads were all too busy discussing whether Barack Obama's speech on race had made white people feel icky--but Amy Goodman from Democracy Now did several days worth of programs on the event, mostly just playing tapes of the testimony offered. KPFA radio also offers an excellent series on the event. Sadly, five years after the start of the Iraq war, most people have been distracted by other shiny objects, like whether Hillary is macho enough or whether Obama is black enough/too black-- last week the Iraq war got just 4 percent of the newshole in the US media.

The stories from the latest Winter Soldier are not as harrowing as those from Vietnam in their details - there are no ears taken or captives thrown from helicopters - but several themes recur, notably the dehumanization, as a matter of policy, of anyone not wearing the uniform of the United States armed forces. In Vietnam the enemy was "Charlie" and the civilians were "gooks" who could be shot for sport. In Iraq, the local population are all "Hajis" who can be shot for the simple crime of "not knowing how to drive" on the roads of their own cities.

But on a day in the early summer of 2005 in the area of operation of the 42nd Infantry Division, there was a traffic control point shooting. Traffic control point shootings are rather common in Iraq; they happen on a near or daily basis. What happened was, a vehicle was driving very quickly towards a traffic control point. A young machine gunner made the split-second decision that that vehicle was a threat, and in less than a minute put 200 rounds from his .50-caliber machinegun into that vehicle. That day, he killed a mother, a father and two children. The boy was age four, and the daughter was age three.

I was in the briefing that evening when it was briefed to the general. And after the officer in charge briefed it to the general in a very calm manner, Colonel Rochelle of the 42nd Infantry Division, DISCOM Commander, turned in his chair to the entire division-level staff, and he said—and I quote—“If these [expletive] hajis learned to drive, this [expletive] wouldn’t happen."

Others testify of being told to shoot anyone talking on a cell phone within sight of a convoy, to fire on any taxis seen on the roads after a rumor that they were being used by insurgents for transportation, of being encouraged to carry throw-down weapons so that they could justify the shootings of civilians. The most moving testimony was from the mother and father of Jeff Lucey, a 24 year old marine who killed himself less than a year after coming back from driving a truck in Iraq. He suffered severe PTSD but could not get treatment through the military or the Veteran's Administration Hospital, even though his family begged to have him committed on couple of occasions. So much for supporting the troops, I guess.

videos of the Luceys' testimony

There are those who dispute the veracity of the original Winter Soldier testimonies, but they are mainly Nixon enthusiasts and lying political operatives like the widely discredited Swift Boat Veterans For Truth who tried to smear John Kerry. Then there are willfully ignorant twits like this one, who's convinced that the culture war veterans like Michelle Malkin know more about what's going on in Iraq and Afghanistan and what happened in Vietnam than the people who were actually there. What do they and White House tenants have to say to the Luceys and tens of thousands like them?

4000 US soldiers have died, about 30,000 have suffered physical wounds and it is estimated that as many as one in four of the hundreds of thousands who have returned suffer from PTSD.
No one knows how many Iraqis have died, but estimates run from about 90,000 to more than 650,000 (as of 2006), Multiply that by who know how much for the number of wounded. The entire population may be considered to have PTSD by now, but there is nothing "post" about their trauma - it is ongoing.

(crossposted from the Woodshed, where I will do my best to cheer you up)

I can has cheezburger removr?

The Consumerist takes on Complaint Remover, a company that advertises it will rid the internet of "defamatory" and "negative links" about you.
How? Apparently "by positioning links on the Search Engines and by appeals to law to remove negative information. We send cease and desist letters and if necessary, file legal actions against the perpetrators and Internet service providers contributing to the unjust defamation of our members".
Holy googlebomb! Does the worst president ever know about this?
The Consumerist hits the Complaint Remover chatroom. :
"Hello My name is Kelly. Is there something I can help you with today?
Consumerist : Does your company work on all of the internets?
Kelly: Yes we remove negative links from all erch engines google or aol, or yahoo
Consumerist : How does that work? How are you able to get another company to get rid of something that's part of their business?
Kelly: We push the negative links back in serch engines so nobody will see that ones
Consumerist : So you like make new internets and push the bad internets down?
Kelly: Yes
Consumerist : My keywords are lolcats. I have a cat breeding business and people keep making pictures of cats with derogatory phrases on them. It's hampering my ability to attract new clients
Kelly: just a seccond please. ok wich one of those you want to be pushed back ?"
Oh noes. But what about the unfettered democracy and free speech of the intertubes? And spelling?
Commenters at Boing Boing and The Consumerist go to work pranking CR and uncovering IPs and holy shit! this version of CR is a giant ethical leap forward from a previous incarnation which a commenter alleges included sending nasty death threats on behalf of its "members".

Go read the rest. Why? Well, because it's very funny, especially the commenters' forays into the CR chatroom, but also because if The Consumerist story gets enough hits, anyone googling up Complaints Remover will continue to get The Consumerist instead.
I luvs teh intertubes. Srsly.
H/T Bread 'n Roses

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Wingnut reality

Inspired by CC.

Seriously, this something I often ponder. How the fuck do these people see the world? After reading wingnuts on both sides of the border equate universal healthcare to something Stalinist, Europe lost to radical Muslims, ponder the possibility of Barack Obama being the anti-Christ, and generally declare any facts that dispute their worldview as treacherous lies and conspiracies, I ask what the hell do they see when the look at the world. I wonder what you'd find if you could ever sample their thought processes for a few minutes.

Friday, March 21, 2008

They also fight who stand and wait

This is one of those delicious items.

PZ Myers of the always exceptional Pharyngula was to attend a screening of the creationist propaganda movie Expelled. Except that he was discovered and ordered to leave the premises immediately upon pain of arrest.

The producers of Expelled did, however, allow PZ's wife, daughter and their accompanying guest to view the screening.

The guest.... yes, the guest. Go to check it out.

What the Fox?

[h/t matttbastard]

Not that I harbour any pleasantry toward Chris Wallace, but I do find myself wishing those three smarmy hosts somehow find themselves condemned to wander blindfolded through a field of garden rakes for the next decade or two.

A British ad you're not likely to see on North American television

Maybe she answered the wrong end.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Well now

Would you look at that!

The use of Tasers, guns and physical force by Ottawa police dropped to the lowest level in years in 2007 — the year after the service introduced a special premium for officers who regularly retake a course on the proper use of force.

Tasers were used only a dozen times by officers last year, said the police service's 2007 use of force annual report, which was to be discussed at the Police Services Board meeting Monday night.

That was the lowest number of uses in five years, even though 34 tactical officers were authorized to use the devices, and 61 front-line supervisors became authorized in November 2007.

Physical control was used 45 times — an eight-year low.

Officers pointed their firearms 212 times, the lowest level since 2002, the report shows. They were fired 51 times, in all cases to destroy animals.

Pepper spray was used 54 times, up slightly from the year before, but still one of the lowest levels since 2000.

Improved training lauded

Chief Vern White credits better training for the decline in the use of force.

"I went through use of force training two weeks ago," he said, "and I have to say I was totally impressed with the use of force training itself, the instructors."

I like this bit [my bolds]:

He added that the instructors encouraged officers to talk to the people they deal with before doing anything else.

Since May 2006, officers have been eligible for a special salary premium called responsibility pay if they take the use of force training course every 11 months.

You're not suggesting the police now need to be bribed to take this type of training? Do the police want a pat of the back for this? I wonder how many people have been injured or worse because the police couldn't be bothered to keep their training up to date.

IOC goes for the gold in the Darfur and Tibet events

"European Union sports ministers and Olympic committees said yesterday that they would not support calls for a boycott [of the Beijing Olympics] because they're not effective and that sports and politics should not be linked, a position echoed by the Canadian Olympic Committee's top official.
"I think particularly to use the athletes who have made so many sacrifices, to use them as pawns in a game that is politically, idealistically and socially very complicated would be unfortunate," said Chris Rudge, CEO of the COC. "I don't think we can ask one constituency, which are a force for good, to stand up and act on everyone's behalf." Link
Yes, it would be a terrible thing if athletes were used as pawns, wouldn't it, Chris?
Because as we all know, the Olympics is all about running and skipping and jumping, and not at all about Coca-Cola, McDonald's, Adidas, and General Electric putting up millions to increase their market share in China.
Well, you know what they say : You can catch more flies with money than with vinegar.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Sami checks in

Yes, I know there are lots of things to write about. And I'd love to push them all. But I have limited time and I have these weird strings that stretch back decades.

Samantha Crozier took the time to acknowledge the post written here.

I would like to start out by pointing out that The Telegraph got the name of one of her children wrong. Samantha and Lance Corporal Douglas (Andy) Crozier are the parents of Ethan and Caleb, two-years old and one-year old respectively.

I'm going to take a shot in the dark here, but I suspect that Samantha and Andy met while Andy was on a temporary duty to BATUS in Sheffield, Alberta.

Andy was subsequently posted to Germany and Samantha accompanied him. That was over four years ago. But Samantha had no reason to believe that the vagaries of the British immigration system would not allow her, as the spouse of a British serving member overseas, to household with him once he returned, on posting to the UK.

On returning to the UK, after both sons were born, Samantha, who was on a five year stamp approving her residency on a British overseas base, was told to apply for citizenship ... and that there would be no problem. (She paid 400 Pounds for this. Call it 1000 Canadian dollars).

Hey. She's family. She's the spouse of a British serving member of the REMEs.

No such luck.

The question is, how many ways can you spell B.U.L.L.S.H.I.T.?

So, while her husband faces the prospect of cranking the fifth wheel off broken down Challenger tanks in Afghanistan, Samantha faces the prospect of being deported and leaving her two young children behind.

We could accept the line that if you were supposed to have a family the army would have issued you one, or we could get behind Samantha Crozier and insist that the circumstances demand a second and very critical look.

Samantha has a Facebook group. Sign in and support her.

I'm trying to think of a group that should be all over this. On the other hand, navels are much more interesting to them.

Hillary's glass house

But both Democrats are basically the same or so I thought until the last few weeks. I've never had much of a soft spot for Hillary Clinton, she always struck me as being a bit too interested in what was going to advance her career and how things looked rather than how they actually were -- her votes to support military action in Iraq being the obvious example. That said, I still thought she was a smart, capable politician's politician who would do a decent job as president, would do a lot to squelch the rampant sexism that exists in U.S. politics, and would inspire a generation or two of women to succeed and not accept glass ceilings and second-class status.
Having watched her campaign, I'm less keen on her and think she is more likely to be America's Margaret Thatcher. Undoubtedly she would be more than will to go to war to show that "just because she a woman it doesn't mean she isn't tough" much the way George Bush the first invaded Panama to prove he wasn't a wimp.
"But," I told myself, "at least she wouldn't be a stooge for the bible thumping bunch"
Well, not to get all conspiracy-theorist on you dear readers, but I was wrong about that too.
She hasn't said much about Obama's former ministers' remarks damning America for its treatment of blacks or McCain's pandering to the worst of the Christian Taliban. And now I know why.

A new...

...class of homeless emerges.

How far does this go?

And speaking of barking mad wingnuts...

Meet "Pro-life" a candidate for Governor in Idaho this year, and likely for any public office you care to name for the next 20 years. I guess you just call him "Pro" for short, though I expect most people refer to him as "that weird guy, you know, the one who's all 'abortion this' and 'abortion that' and 'abortionists hid my car keys' -- you know, that guy who's crazier than a shithouse rat, the one that keep running for office"
Maybe I should move to the U.S. become a citizen and run for office after changing my name to "Kick George W. Bush in 'Nads"? Waddya think?

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Positioning Politicians . . . .

Via McClatchy today:

Is Lindsey Graham auditioning for VP?
James Rosen | McClatchy Newspapers - March 18, 2008

WASHINGTON — John McCain's trip to Europe and the Middle East was intended to make him look presidential. U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., went with him.

Was he auditioning for a prominent post in a McCain administration?

Perish the thought, Graham said before leaving the country. "This will be the 19th (foreign) trip I've taken with Senator McCain since (2003)," said Graham, who has represented S.C. in the U.S. Senate since 2002.

"He's one of my closest friends in the Senate. I think I am someone who is a sounding board for him.

"I've been intricately involved in his campaign — a confidant, if you will. I very much admire him. He's got a lot of courage. My relationship with John is not dependent on a position."





Lindsey's OK with any position.

Good thing.

Hanging around in that repuglican crowd, versatility has to be a plus . . . .

(Cross-posted from Moving to Vancouver)

Contrapuntal Obama

I've gotta friend who was involved in the response to Hurricane Katrina. The US National Guard deployed between NOLA police and the Black refugees - facing the police. The buses that took these refugees to major cities in Texas passed through towns where locals raised nooses and caressed shotguns on their front lawns and the police forbid bathroom stops.

The Right is afraid of Barack Obama. The response to this speach on a forum I observe is vicious. He is communist, two-faced, closet Muslim, throws his grandmother under a bus to gain votes, anti-white racist, etc, etc.

I like this man. He's probably the best thing to come along in US politics in a while, but I don't know if the US can handle what he's actually saying here, let alone understand it on enough of a scale.

Down there, they tend to shoot the people who say what he says.

Update: Driftglass responds.

Upperdate: Stroll over to the The Woodshed, and be sure to click the link at the bottom.

Upperupperdate: they say in Australia...