February 23, 2008 archive

Weekend News Digest- Updated

Weekend News Digest is an Open Thread

1 Turkey bombs Kurdish rebels in Iraq

By SELCAN HACAOGLU, Associated Press Writer

27 minutes ago

CUKURCA, Turkey – Turkish warplanes, helicopters and artillery bombed suspected hideouts of Kurdish rebels in remote, mountainous terrain of northern Iraq Saturday.

The Turkish military said at least 35 Kurdish rebels and two Turkish soldiers died in fighting Saturday. A total of seven soldiers and at least 79 rebels have been killed in Iraq since Turkey launched a ground incursion late Thursday, according to the military. The rebel Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, claimed it had killed 15 Turkish troops.

The incursion is the first confirmed Turkish military ground operation in Iraq since the U.S.-led invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein in 2003. Iraq’s government criticized the offensive on Saturday, saying military force will not solve the Kurdish problem.

Off Drugs, Still Being Tortured

[If you want to understand this diary, read this one first https://www.docudharma.com/show…

I am no longer on legally prescribed painkillers. They did not work very well. Over the counter ibuprofen seems to be more effective.

However I am still being tortured in my own home by a fiendish therapeutic robot that I am convinced has a plan for world hegemony.

Café Discovery

Once upon a time I took an idea from real life and tried to implement it online.

It seemed easy enough.  Provide a place for people to talk about education, teaching and learning.  To encourage discussion, provide an essay.  To provide a service, provide some links.  

It succeeded in some ways, but it also strayed away from what it’s intention was.  Naming it Teacher’s Lounge was probably the mistake.  I’m not very creative when it comes to titles.  That title apparently conveyed the impression that people who weren’t teachers weren’t welcome.  As if I have an exclusionary bone in my body.

Whatever the reason, people who weren’t teachers mostly stayed away…or apologized for not doing so.  I think that says a lot about the state of education at the present:  people actually apologize for being interested in it.

Turkish Forces “Storm Into” Northern Iraq (with Video)

My transcript from AlJazzeera English video (below).

Turkey had threatened this for months but it still caught everyone by surprise . . .

Turkey claimed 10,000 soldiers crossed the border into Iraq, though the Turkish authorities and the Iraqi government subsequently put the figure much lower.  Impossible to say who’s right since the area of fighting is sealed off.

Update 1:18 PM EST 2/23/08 by LithiumCola: CNN is calling this a “major escalation.”

Pony Party: Museum Pictures

I am fairly geeky. And I like museums. They don’t even have to be highbrow, super educational, entities to entertain me.

I took most of these in the summer when it was hot and rainy and I had nothing better to do with my time. While y’all were out changing the world I was hanging around empty museums.

Yes, this is a shrunken head. Don’t know who it belonged to either.

Cool masks….

This is what the inside of the original Piggly Wiggly looked like. The guy who started it lived in Memphis.

He built this gorgeous house…

He never actually lived in it, he went bankrupt. It now houses the Pink Palace Museum where I took the pictures.

Thanks for looking. Please don’t rec pony party, hang out chit chat, and then go look at the excellent offerings on our recent and rec’d list.


When I came online this morning I saw that the Green Zone in Iraq had suffered an attack of mortar bombs and/or rockets:

BAGHDAD (Reuters) – A barrage of mortar bombs or rockets hit Baghdad’s heavily protected Green Zone, home to the U.S. embassy and Iraqi government ministries, on Saturday, but there were no immediate reports of casualties or damage.

Of course for operational security reasons, we cannot know if there was any damage or what kind of damage or anything else:

“I can confirm that we did receive indirect fire and that it was multiple rounds,” said U.S. military spokesman Major Brad Leighton, referring further queries to the U.S. embassy.

U.S. embassy spokeswoman Mirembe Nantongo refused to say whether there had been casualties or damaged.

“To maintain operational security, we do not comment on indirect fire into the International Zone,” she said.

And of course what would the military official response be without a reference to Iran?

The U.S. military has blamed missile attacks on the Green Zone on so-called “special groups”, rogue elements of Moqtada al-Sadr’s Mehdi Army militia they say receives funding and weapons from neighbouring Iran. Iran denies the charge.

So we can’t know what damage was done by this attack.  Yet we can hear the military tell us they know exactly where this attack came from and that Iran has to be behind it.  Guess that’s not a secret so we can all know who the REAL enemy is!

Health Net: More reasons the health insurance industry must die

It has been a bad week for Health Net in California. On Thursday, the health insurance giant was sued by the Los Angeles city attorney on behalf of all Californians for “illegally cancelling policies to avoid paying large claims.” On Friday, a judge ruled against Health Net in suit brought by a Southern California woman for cancelling her insurance as she was undergoing treatment for breast cancer. Although both cases might be viewed as victories, they are properly viewed as symptoms of a terminal illness not a cure.

A Day Late And More Than A Dollar Short: The Torture Memo Inquiry

The New York Times today reports that Justice Department is going to investigate the Justice Department’s approval of the CIA’s use of waterboarding torture:

The Justice Department revealed Friday that its internal ethics office was investigating the department’s legal approval for waterboarding of Qaeda suspects by the Central Intelligence Agency and was likely to make public an unclassified version of its report.

The disclosure by H. Marshall Jarrett, the head of the department’s Office of Professional Responsibility, was the first official acknowledgment of an internal review of the legal memorandums the department has issued since 2002 that authorized waterboarding and other harsh interrogation methods.

Mr. Jarrett’s report could become the first public accounting for legal advice that endorsed methods widely denounced as torture by human rights groups and legal authorities. His office can refer matters for criminal prosecution; legal experts said the most likely outcome was a public critique of the legal opinions on interrogation, noting that Mr. Jarrett had the power to reprimand or to seek the disbarment of current or former Justice Department lawyers.

You’ll pardon me, please, for not dancing in the streets.  “Waterboarding” shouldn’t be the focus of the inquiry.  The focus should be on torture in all of its forms and in all of the locations where it might be practiced (including Gitmo, Black Sites, Diego Garcia) and all of the agencies of the Governmetn and their contractors who might be using it.  And we don’t really need an “unclassified version of a report” about how torture was approved.  We need an end to torture. Period.  And we need criminal prosecution of all of those who approved it.

Some context, if you will:

*C.I.A. director Michael V. Hayden admitted a couple of weeks ago that the CIA used waterboarding in 2002 and 2003 on 3 prisoners but claimed that the CIA didn’t do that any more and that the legality of what it did was “uncertain.”

*Attorney General Mukasey refused to launch a criminal investigation of those who used torture waterboarding or of their superiors, because CIA employees couldn’t be prosecuted for things Justice had told them were legal.  Jarrett’s review focuses on the government lawyers who gave that advice.

*According to the Times, prosecutors and F.B.I. agents have launched a criminal investigation of the C.I.A.’s destruction in 2005 of videotapes of harsh interrogations torture and a week after Congress passed a ban on coercive interrogations, which President Bush has said he will veto.

According to the Times:

In a letter to two Democratic senators, Richard J. Durbin of Illinois and Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island, Mr. Jarrett wrote that the legal advice approving waterboarding was one subject of an investigation into “the circumstances surrounding the drafting” of a Justice legal memorandum dated Aug. 1, 2002.

The document declared that interrogation methods were not torture unless they produced pain equivalent to that produced by organ failure or death. The memorandum, drafted by a Justice Department lawyer, John Yoo, and signed by Jay S. Bybee, then head of the department’s Office of Legal Counsel, was withdrawn in 2004.

Mr. Jarrett said the investigation was also covering “related” legal memorandums prepared by the Office of Legal Counsel since 2002. That suggested the investigation would address still-secret legal opinions written in 2005 by Steven G. Bradbury, then and now the acting head of the Office of Legal Counsel, that gave legal approval for waterboarding and other tough methods, even when used in combination.

We know about the Yoo and Bybee memoranda and how they were altered in 2004.  We know about the Bradbury opinions.  Doubtless there are others as well. Don’t we know that those reached barbaric, incorrect conclusions about the legality of torture?

Mr. Jarrett said his office was “examining whether the legal advice in these memoranda was consistent with the professional standards that apply to Department of Justice attorneys.”

Doh.  We don’t need a further, public investigation of these opinions that might endanger prosecution of these individuals.  We need to prosecute them.  The public investigation is a day late and more than a dollar short.

Never Again.

The “Presidency” of George W. Bush is grinding to an excruciating, long-awaited and long-overdue halt; with luck and perserverence, we’ll still find a way to get impeachment and accountability back on the table to ensure that none of the blaggards, thieves and liars who voluminously infest the framework around this “Administration” can ever return to government. The Ford, Bush I and even Clinton Administrations pardoned previous incarnations of the same under the misbegotten claim of “moving forward” — we now face the same individuals, working together in a concentrated concoction of the nefarious and ne’er-do-well, as a result.

But this isn’t even about them. It’s much more focused.

This is about the first hints that George W. Bush’s most important legacy — the one we may actually thank him for, even if he is allowed to escape the Justice he’s so actively thwarted and manipulated.  This is about how George W. Bush may have saved the nation, simply by damaging it so badly that he’s virtually guaranteed there will never be another Bush Presidency.

Dear Muslim Kids,

I am a thirteen year old boy, and for my school project I am supposed to look up a bunch of stuff about your culture.

I found out the Middle East once had the biggest library anywhere, and that most science stuff came from you guys, you know, math and astronomy and that stuff. I like those subjects but not as much as baseball. Do you play baseball there? I couldn’t find anything about it on google, but I did see some pictures that looked like kids were playing something like it. I play second base, and pitch a little sometimes too.

Pony Party : Morning

I am no expert on qawalli music but I do know that Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan

was considered on of the greats. I have one or two of his CDs.

Naturally, I have no idea what the words are saying but it is pretty powerful contemplative stuff.

A few pictures of my favorite local swamp to zone out on….

Please don’t rec pony party, hang out, chit chat, and then go read some of the excellent offerings on our recent and rec’d list.

al-Sadr Spoke, and……

Series of rockets fired on Baghdad’s Green zone

Attacks come a day after al-Sadr orders extension of cease-fire

BAGHDAD – A series of rockets or mortars were fired toward the U.S.-protected Green Zone early Saturday, a day after radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr ordered his Mahdi Army militia fighters to cease attacks for another six months.

Anybody want to guess who will be blamed for these?

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