December 17, 2008 archive

Four at Four

  1. The Guardian reports the British military is to withdraw from Iraq by July. “Britain’s six-year occupation of southern Iraq will end by the summer, Gordon Brown announced today on a surprise visit to Baghdad.” The British will begin to redeploy in March. “Around 300 troops will remain to help with the training of Iraqi forces.”

    Meanwhile, The Guardian reports the Shoe-thrower is ‘too severely beaten’ for court appearance.

    Dargham al-Zaidi said he was told a judge had been to see his younger brother, Muntazer, at the jail where he has been held since throwing his shoes at the US president during a press conference in Baghdad on Sunday…

    The family went to Baghdad’s central criminal court expecting a hearing, Dhargham said, but were told the investigative judge had been to the prison and they should return in eight days. “That means my brother was severely beaten and they fear that his appearance could trigger anger at the court,” he said.

    And McClatchy Newspapers report U.S. troops confront Iraqis rallying in favor of shoe-thrower.

    University students rallied for Zaidi in Fallujah on Wednesday, drawing the attention of U.S. forces.

    Students raised their shoes and threw rocks at American soldiers, who reportedly opened fire above the crowd. Protesters said that indirect fire wounded one student, Zaid Salih. U.S. forces haven’t confirmed the account.

    “We demonstrated to express our support for Muntathar al Zaidi, but we were surprised with the entrance of the U.S. military,” said Ahmed Ismail, one of the protesters. “Unconsciously, we raised our shoes expressing our support for al Zaidi, but they attacked us.”

Four at Four continues with OPEC production cuts, Somali pirates, military preparations for the Obama inauguration, and killer asteroids.

For the Record, Cheney Admits to Authorizing Murder

For the record. For history and posterity and future reference.

Transcript: Cheney Defends Hard Line Tactics In Exclusive Interview With ABC News

Dick Cheney openly admits authorizing the US torture policy, a torture policy that has lead to the deaths of “detainees.”

“”There is no question that U.S. interrogations have resulted in deaths,”” said Anthony D. Romero, Executive Director of the ACLU.

The Vice President of the United States has openly admitted to what any sane person, any sane world would call murder. On national (now planetary) television.

“I was aware of the program certainly, and involved in helping get the process cleared”

All that is left now is the legal parsing. The only question left is will the American people and the world consent that Dick Cheney and George Bush….and now any American President….have the right to order torture that results in death. Is this murder? Or is it legal and legitimate for heads of state to snatch people off of the streets and torture them to death? Without trial.

With no “presumption of innocence.”

With no evidence except the secret evidence provided by the intelligence agencies which told us …wrongly… that Iraq had “Weapons of Mass Destruction.” That ….massively wrongly… led us to invade Iraq and kill tens of thousands of innocent people. On their word alone, and with no due process of law, The President can order death by torture. Of anyone, anywhere, at any time. With no recourse.

Who decides if this will be allowed, if this is now the reality of our new world.

For the answer, see below the fold.

Ben and Hank’s Digital Diversion: Economic Make-Believe.

As this greatest economic crisis of the past century unfolds, it appears that Bernard Madoff’s $50 billiion Ponzi scam is not so much an aberration as it is a microcosm, a reality nicely captured in Toles’ savage cartoon in today’s WaPo.

Madoff’s $50 billion scam really has only one major difference with the astronomical leverage ratios and Wild West CDO and CDS trading strategies engaged in by “legitimate” hedge funds, insurance companies, investment banks, and regular commercial banks: Bernie Madoff will get to go to jail someday, while the “legitimate” players will have their devastated balance sheets replenished by bailout dollars created out of thin air. AIG, CitiGroup, and other malefactors will have their uncovered obligations propped up by hundeds of billions of federal dollars, and their criminally negligent executives will end up keeping their jobs, salaries, bonuses, multiple homes, corporate executive jets, and fleets of luxury cars.

Why does it seem that the hundreds of billions (or even trillions) of digital dollars that U.S. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson and Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke are pumping into the economy–especially the finance industry–do not seem to be having any effect on real economic activity?

Let’s ponder the question below the break.

Open Thread


And you may ask yourself

What is this beautiful thread?

Bernie Madoff’s scam is not an aberration.

It is a microcosm.  

Muse in the Morning

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket
Muse in the Morning

State of the Onion XXIX

Art Link

Scratching at the Surface

Wishes and Horses

I wish someone


could tell me

would tell me

why people

behave as they do

with disdain toward

in disregard of

so sadistically

to people like me

What have

we done

to engender

such disrespect

to evoke

such contempt

to earn

your hatred

Whatsoever it was

we are willing

to work together

with you

to repair

the rift

to seal

the breach

to integrate

our existences

–Robyn Elaine Serven

–February 1, 2006

Don’t Watch This Video: Inside Chinese Fur Farms

This article and video are from PETA.

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), with more than 2.0 million members and supporters, is the largest animal rights organization in the world.

PETA focuses its attention on the four areas in which the largest numbers of animals suffer the most intensely for the longest periods of time: on factory farms, in laboratories, in the clothing trade, and in the entertainment industry. We also work on a variety of other issues, including the cruel killing of beavers, birds and other “pests,” and the abuse of backyard dogs.

PETA works through public education, cruelty investigations, research, animal rescue, legislation, special events, celebrity involvement, and protest campaigns.

Skinned Alive. Why? China supplies more than half the finished furs garments imported for sale in the U.S.

When undercover investigators made their way onto Chinese fur farms recently, they found that many animals are still alive and struggling desperately when workers flip them onto their backs or hang them up by their legs or tails to skin them. When workers on these farms begin to cut the skin and fur from an animal’s leg, the free limbs kick and writhe. Workers stomp on the necks and heads of animals who struggle too hard to allow a clean cut.

When the fur is finally peeled off over the animals’ heads, their naked, bloody bodies are thrown onto a pile of those who have gone before them. Some are still alive, breathing in ragged gasps and blinking slowly. Some of the animals’ hearts are still beating five to 10 minutes after they are skinned. One investigator recorded a skinned raccoon dog on the heap of carcasses who had enough strength to lift his bloodied head and stare into the camera.

Pledge to go fur-free at

Late Night Karaoke

This Is A Free Speech Zone

Scorpions – Holiday

Killing Tribes For Oil & Logs

You know the saying that if a tree falls in the forest and no one is there to hear it, did it really make a sound? Well, some governments and companies are banking that the public needs to hear or see uncontacted tribes before we care that they are being killed or relocated in the name of oil and mahogany.  Companies are invading indigenous lands of uncontacted tribes causing their deaths, yet officials claim that unseen tribes are nonexistent mythical creations of anti oil and logging developments.  The tribes are then forcibly relocated or members killed sufficient to terminate the tribe’s continuity with future generations. Yet, some would like the public to believe that no one was harmed because the tribes are mythical.  

So, this is what it has come down to…

After eight years of the Bush administration being wrong on everything they did, both overseas and at home, it comes down to this…

What is “this” you ask?

Yglesias: Taking the Bus to a Public Transport Stimulus

Xposted to Agent Orange, My Left Wing, …

I have been following a “problem” with the stimulus, involving the “break ground in 3 months” guideline. That is, since we have had an eight year assault against public transport from the White House, with special focus on rail projects, we don’t have a lot of energy-saving public transport projects that can break ground in 3 months.

Robert Cruickshank discusses this on the California HSR blog: Obama and Congress to Screw Up the Stimulus.

However, Matthew Yglesias has a smart answer to this: Fast-Acting Transit.

More detail, after the fold.

Pony Pary/Open Thread: Celtic United Edition!

This Pony Party is an Open Thread.  Chat Away!  Please do not rec the Pony Party.

Load more