May 8, 2009 archive

GOP threatens to open can of worms

I’m sure by now everyone has seen this latest nugget from the GOP.

Let’s get this straight; if President Obama and Atty. Gen. Holder investigate Bush administration officials for authorizing torture, the GOP will go back and investigate former President Clinton’s renditions?

This is a can of worms that the GOP cannot win…

Torture, backwards logic and catch-22

(I just posted a version of this over at DailyKos and I thought it might be appreciated here.)

This is interesting. I don’t know how much relevance it actually has at this point but I end up researching odd things throughout the day and I found this.

There have been a few instances of soldiers going AWOL and fleeing into Canada instead of fighting in Iraq. At the time this was happening, a lot of people were saying horrible things about these soldiers. That was stupid to say even without knowing what we know now but still, it’s worth talking about.

When these soldiers were tried, they used the defense that it’s an illegal war and violates international law. And still others used the defense that soldiers who would’ve gone to war would’ve been forced to participate in illegal acts.

One of the judges, in a ruling against one of these soldiers, in 2007 said there’s no evidence the US “as a matter of deliberate policy or official indifference, required or allowed its combatants to engage in widespread actions in violation of humanitarian law.”

So, maybe these cases are worth another look? We can argue that a lot of these people were using legal defenses and weren’t actually able to see the future, or whatever. But they were, you know, right.

Four at Four

  1. The NY Times reports the U.S. admits civilians died in Afghan raids. Though the Pentagon still disputes the reported 100 civilian deaths were caused by their bombs. “Initial American military reports that some of the casualties might have been caused by Taliban grenades”.

    “It looks like at least some of the casualties were caused by the airstrikes,” the official acknowledged. A second Pentagon official said, “It wouldn’t surprise me if it was a mix,” but added that it was too soon to tell.

    The Washington Post callously notes all these Afghan civilian deaths present the U.S. with a strategic problem. “The truth of what happened in Farah may be less important than what the Afghan people believe took place in the remote western region.” Defense War Secretary Robert “Gates said that a cornerstone of the Taliban campaign is to blame civilian deaths on U.S. troops. And he suggested that the best way to counter the enemy’s strategy would be to reduce civilian casualties throughout the country.”

    “Even if the Taliban create these casualties or exploit them, we need to figure out a way to minimize them and hopefully make them go away,” he said. One such way would be to stop the air strikes.

    Meanwhile, the Post reports the Pentagon budget devotes more to war in Afghanistan than to Iraq. $65 billion will be spent on war in Afghanistan compared to $61 billion on war in Iraq. “The budget includes $700 million for training and equipment to improve Pakistan’s counterinsurgency capability”. But, as the NY Times notes, don’t expect war managersto let Iraq slip away quietly. Afterall, Concerns mount on the preparedness of Iraq’s forces. “A recent string of attacks by insurgents has highlighted shortcomings, large and small, despite billions of dollars in American training and equipment,” according U.S. officials.

    The LA Times reports the Pentagon is considering structural changes to the way they wage war in Afghanistan. “The U.S. military command structure in Afghanistan was designed for a much smaller force. But with the increase ordered by President Obama, the number of U.S. troops will rise to 60,000 by the end of summer and is expected to reach 68,000; NATO troops are increasing to 35,000. The U.S.-led force needs a larger headquarters operation, military officials and experts said.”

  2. Meanwhile in Pakistan, McClatchy reports Pakistan launches full-scale military assault on Taliban. The government’s counterattack against the Taliban risks spreading the war. Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani said Pakistan will no longer “bow our heads before the terrorists.” And added the negotiations with the Taliban in the Swat valley had failed. Pakistan’s army’s job now, he said, is to “eliminate the militants and the terrorists.”

    DAWN Media reports there are on-going Clashes, curfews, and displacement all across Malakand. Pakistan is building up for a full scale operation in the Malakand region. “Heavy reinforcements were seen being moved to Swat, Lower Dir and Malakand districts on Friday… Long columns of troops backed by tanks and artillery were heading towards Swat and Lower Dir.”

    Helicopters, jet fighters and artillery pounded suspected positions in the troubled region and fierce clashes between ground forces and militants have been reported from Maidan area of the Lower Dir. Telecommunication including cellular phones have been jammed in different parts of Malakand while most areas were without electricity…

    Witnesses said that entire Swat district, parts of Lower Dir and Buner districts were still under the militants’ control.

    The LA Times reports Pakistan appears unprepared for ‘massive displacement’ caused by the fighting. “Those on the humanitarian front lines warn that the displaced are angry and traumatized, enduring long days in hot tents with little to do but grow more frustrated.”

    “Displaced people are sources of instability,” said Manuel Bessler, head of the U.N. Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in Pakistan. “The situation creates tension and is obviously not sustainable.”

    Many refugees “blame the army at least as much as the Taliban, a political problem for the government” for having to flee their homes.

    The NY Times adds “Tens of thousands of civilians have fled the fighting this week and the United Nations refugee agency, quoting provincial authorities, said in a statement Friday that as many as 200,000 people may have been displaced, with ‘another 300,000 on the move or about to move.'”

Four at Four continues with April unemployment numbers, coal ash, gaming the stress tests, and NASA spaceflight program.

Epic Private Lender Citibank Propaganda Fail!

(Crossposted from Free Speech Zone)

From:”The Student Loan Corporation”

[email protected]

May 7, 2009

Dear [Jack's Smirking Revenge],

Thank you for the opportunity to help you obtain the education of your choice. As a student loan provider for the past 50 years, Citi has provided financial aid assistance to millions of students and parents nationwide.


Given the challenging economy and continued increases in the cost of higher education, it is critical that the U.S. student lending system serves the best interests of students and their families. If you believe that competition and choice among student loan providers is valuable, you have an opportunity to make your voice heard.

Why Get Involved?
The government budget outline proposes offering federal student loans solely through the federal government's Direct Lending Program starting July of next year. While this proposal will not impact a borrower's ability to obtain a federal student loan, it will eliminate your ability to choose a student loan provider. It will also substantially increase the national debt since each and every federally-insured student loan will be funded by the Federal Treasury through the issuance of treasury securities. This proposal impacts you as a citizen – both as a taxpayer and as a borrower.

Why Does Competition And Choice Matter?
Without private lender involvement through the Federal Family Education Loan Program, students and their families will not enjoy the benefits that competition has made possible for more than 40 years. This competition has provided not only a choice of lenders, but also innovative products and services, such as:

  • a variety of borrower benefits that lower your cost of borrowing
  • financial literacy programs that educate you on how to borrow responsibly
  • web-based tools and resources to advise you about your financing options
  • default prevention services to help you pay back your loans

Competition also has driven increased customer satisfaction as a result of the responsiveness, personal attention and on-campus support that student loan lenders have provided to borrowers and schools nationwide.

Make Your Voice Heard
If you value the ability to shop for, evaluate and choose your student loan provider, make your voice heard by contacting your Members of Congress and by signing one of the online petitions that support borrower choice and competition in federal student lending.


The Student Loan Corporation

Pelosi demands we only talk about waterboarding.

I am going to make this short and sweet so the message is not muddled.

Here is the money quote from Madame Speaker Pelosi’s office covering her ass on torture:

“As this document shows, the speaker was briefed only once, in September 2002. The briefers described these techniques, said they were legal, but said that waterboarding had not yet been used,” said Brendan Daly, Pelosi’s spokesman.

In the mere clarification that Pelosi did not know that the CIA was waterboarding, but that she had been briefed on other techniques which are also against the Common Article 2 of the Geneva Convention shows she is implicated as an accessory to war crimes.

Do not let Madame Speaker muddy the waters by making this only about waterboarding, there were other clear human rights violations per the Geneva Convention also used in Enhanced Interrogation Techniques (aka Torture).

Pelosi is trying to steer the discussion to the fact she did not know they had already used waterboarding, hoping no one catches on to the fact she knew about the other war crimes occurring. Waterboarding was not the only technique employed that was against the Geneva Convention.


And anyone who carries water for Pelosi on this better check the bucket, because that ain’t water they got.

It’s the blood of the victims now on their hands.

Looking at you mcjoan.  

In Which I Say I Will Not Run In 2010

The Dog usually writes about the Constitution on Friday’s (much to many readers chagrin) but this week he has come to a decisions which he would rather write about. As some of you might know the Dog has been looking into running for State Rep in the Colorado 30th House district. Those who have known about this have provided a lot of support for this idea which has amazed and gratified this old hound no end. It is this support and encouragement which makes this dairy so hard to write.  

For “Military Spouse Appreciation Day”………

Today, May 8, 2009, is “Military Spouse Appreciation Day”!

And while it comes two days prior to Mothers Day not all the spouses of military personal are women, especially in todays military, for women have increased not only their numbers in serving but what they now do in their military service to country.

Below is just a collection of news reports and appreciation letters about this day.

CIA Briefed 19 Democrats On Torture Specifics in 40 Briefings

Crossposted from Antemedius

A devastating document chronicling the dates and explicit details of secret Congressional briefings in which members of Congress were told of the Bush administration’s torture techniques and when they had been used has been leaked from the Central Intelligence Agency.

“Briefings given to Democrats are of particular significance because the party has been the most vocal about the Bush Administration’s torture practices. Apparently, however, they had known about the practices for years. At least 19 Democrats were briefed about the techniques in detail  by end of 2006.” says John Byrne at RawStory.

“The document appears to conflict with recent statements from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who was then the top Democrat on the House intelligence committee. Ms. Pelosi has said she hadn’t been told that the CIA was using the technique known as waterboarding, or simulated drowning. According to the document, Ms. Pelosi was one of the first lawmakers briefed on the interrogations in 2002.” reports the Wall Street Journal.

“CIA Director Leon Panetta said the agency compiled the document — based on the files and meeting summaries written at the time that represented the best recollections of the briefers — in response to requests from Republican lawmakers, including the top Republican on the intelligence panel.”

“The document lists 40 briefings provided to lawmakers on intelligence, judiciary and other panels, the first of which was provided to then-House intelligence committee chairman Porter Goss, a Florida Republican, and Ms. Pelosi of California on Sept. 4, 2002. That briefing is described as covering ‘enhanced interrogation techniques.” It included the use of the techniques on detainee Abu Zubaydah, background on legal authority, and “a description of the particular [enhanced interrogation techniques] that had been employed.'”

CIA document chronicling congressional briefings on interrogations.pdf

Firefighters Make Heroic Stand at San Rocque and Foothill.

The morning brings welcome news that densely populated neighborhoods of delightful adobe homes with small gardens have been largely saved from the fire, at least as of the early morning hours.

Calling from the field around 1 a.m., reporter Ethan Stewart, standing just below San Roque and Foothill called the area a “ghost town on the State Street side.” The fire was making a run down San Roque toward downtown.

The fire is only a few hundred yards from Foothill in the San Roque area, but doesn’t appear to be burning any houses at the moment thanks to the firefighters concerted effort to hold Foothill Road.


An hour later, Stewart said that all things considered it seemed somewhat quiet thanks to firefighters’ heroic efforts. The fire is still being held off Foothill Road.

This is referring to an area where the houses are much more densely packed–charming adobes with small yards packed into neighborhoods leading right into the downtown area.  Working 24-hour shifts, the firefighters seem to have averted a catastrophe in the night.  A heavy helicopter presence was also reported in the swirling winds and blinding smoke.

WWL Radio #18 Tonight @ 6PM EDT: Pigs, Progress, Proselytizing, and Party-lines

Welcome listeners!

Join Ed Encho, Gottlieb and I for another hour of Wildly Liberal discussion and analysis.

Our topic line up:

Swine Flu Update – Hoopla and Hate!

State by State – Gay Marriage FINALLY making headway!
(and the possibility of a Gay SCOTUS seating!)

Selling Jesus at Gunpoint – The Military’s Christinazi Movement

The Slow, Lovely Death of the Republican Party (& Murdoch) – Model for a VERY different future.

Please call with any questions you may have, or respectful commentary.

The call in number is 646-929-1264

Listen to The Wild Wild Left on internet talk radio

The live chat link will be active after 5:30-ish.…

Again my thanks to asqv for filling in my absence last week.

America’s apple pie threatened by loss of Central Asia’s forests


During last year’s U.S. presidential campaign, Barack Obama campaigned on a pro-pie platform. But apple pie, an epitome of Americanness, is threatened by the apple’s stagnant gene pool.

Like many Americans, the apple is an immigrant to the United States. The apple’s ancestors came from Central Asia. Today, wild apple trees grow in the Tien Shan Mountains in Western China and in neighboring Kazakhstan. Almaty, the former capital, of Kazakhstan literally means ‘the Father of Apples’.

In addition to wild apple, Central Asia is home to more than 300 wild fruit and nut species, including plum, cherry, apricot, pistachio, walnut and many other important food trees from which domesticated varieties are thought to originate.

A team of international scientists have completed an inventory of Central Asia’s trees and identified 44 species in Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, and Tajikistan as globally threatened with extinction.  

Docudharma Times Friday May 8

Samuel ‘Joe the Plumber’ Wurzelbacher

Leaves The Republican Party

What Will John McCain Do?

Friday’s Headlines:

Postal Service rate hike may not end funding shortfall

A tale of romance by the king of chick lit – Napoleon Bonaparte

Poles arrested in connection with blaze that killed four firefighters are bailed

Witch hunts, murder and evil in Papua New Guinea

Terror suspect Mas Selamat Kastari recaptured after year on the run

The Pope heads for the Holy Land (just don’t mention the war)

A victory for cheese eaters? US-EU trade spat defused.

Somali insurgency driving thousands of refugees to Kenya

Sudan opens up to more aid groups

Some schools and businesses reopen in Mexico

Pakistani planes bomb Taleban in Swat Valley

From Times Online

May 8, 2009

Times Online

Pakistani aircraft bombed Taleban positions in the Swat Valley today, hours after the Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani ordered the military to “eliminate militants and terrorists.”

Helicopter gunships, fighters and troops were all involved in operations in Swat, and up to 12 militants were killed after as many as 55 were killed the previous day, Major Nasir Khan, a military spokesman in Swat, said by telephone.

Mr Gilani said in a televised address late on Thursday that militants were trying to hold the country hostage at gunpoint.

“In order to restore honour and dignity of our homeland and to protect the people, the armed forces have been called in to eliminate the militants and terrorists,” he said, setting the stage for a major offensive against Taleban fighters battling security forces in Swat.

Afghans riot over air-strike atrocity

Witnesses say deaths of 147 people in three villages came after a sustained bombardment by American aircraft. Patrick Cockburn, in Herat, reports

Friday, 8 May 2009

Shouting “Death to America” and “Death to the Government”, thousands of Afghan villagers hurled stones at police yesterday as they vented their fury at American air strikes that local officials claim killed 147 civilians.

The riot started when people from three villages struck by US bombers in the early hours of Tuesday, brought 15 newly-discovered bodies in a truck to the house of the provincial governor. As the crowd pressed forward in Farah, police opened fire, wounding four protesters. Traders in the rest of Farah city, the capital of the province of the same name where the bombing took place, closed their shops, vowing they would not reopen them until there is an investigation.

A local official Abdul Basir Khan said yesterday that he had collected the names of 147 people who had died, making it the worst such incident since the US intervened in Afghanistan started in 2001. A phone call from the governor of Farah province, Rohul Amin, in which he said that 130 people had died, was played over the loudspeaker in the Afghan parliament in Kabul, sparking demands for more control over US operations.


U.S. to Wind Down Help for Some Banks

Stress Tests Find Most Can Absorb Losses

By Binyamin Appelbaum and Neil Irwin

Washington Post Staff Writers

Friday, May 8, 2009

The government signaled yesterday that its financial rescue efforts may have reached their high-water mark, announcing that the much-anticipated “stress tests” of 19 large banks showed that only one, GMAC, was likely to need additional taxpayer aid and that it would begin to unwind assistance for the healthiest firms.

Despite a deepening recession and projections that banks will continue to lose money, the government will require the firms to increase their combined capital by as little as $9.5 billion. The government will require the banks to further strengthen their capacity to absorb losses by adding $74.6 billion to the portion of their capital that comes from common equity. Banks are likely to raise some of that money from investors and some by converting other forms of capital.

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