July 2, 2009 archive

Four at Four

  1. Well that was quick. A day after the U.S. announced a massive military operation in Afghanistan, the LA Times reports an American soldier is believed to have been captured in Afghanistan. Missing since Tuesday, a U.S. “soldier is believed to have been captured by insurgents in eastern Afghanistan”.

    Mullah Sangeen, a senior Taliban commander, claims the soldier “was captured this week as he left a base in Paktika province on patrol. If the reports are borne out and an American soldier was seized alive, it would be an unprecedented coup for the insurgents. They could exploit a capture for propaganda purposes or demand concessions such as a prisoner exchange.”

    The Guardian adds the U.S. soldier is first to be captured since the invasion began in 2001, adding that American forces are “frantically hunting” for the missing soldier. “The soldier, whose unit is based in eastern Paktika province, was not involved in the ongoing operation in the south of the country.”

    While in southern Afghanistan, the NY Times reports on Operation Khanjar where U.S. Marines try to retake an Afghan valley from the Taliban. “Almost 4,000 United States Marines, backed by helicopter gunships, pushed into the volatile Helmand River valley in southwestern Afghanistan on Thursday morning, reporting little resistance from Taliban fighters, whose control of poppy harvests and opium smuggling in the area provides major financing for the Afghan insurgency.” The Taliban is withdrawing rather than fighting.

    Back in eastern Afghanistan, the LA Times reports Change may be at hand on the Afghanistan frontier with Pakistan. At Forward Operating Base Salerno, the Taliban fires rockets at the Ameircans and then slip away to Pakistan just 20 miles away. “American commanders, however, believe a greater concentration of U.S. and Afghan troops in the border region is beginning to change the equation.”

    However, their “mandate to give chase to the insurgents, at least using Western ground troops, stops at the rugged, mountainous border.”

Four at Four continues with secret CIA jails an issue in Guantánamo detainee trial, Iraq has highest civilian death toll in 11 months, and global overfishing despite promises.

They Have One of Ours Now

cross-posted at Dkos

They have one of ours now:

Insurgents have captured an American soldier in eastern Afghanistan, the U.S. military said Thursday.

Spokeswoman Capt. Elizabeth Mathias said the soldier went missing on Tuesday.

Will we demand that the Taliban treat our soldier well? Will we call for international oversight? Will we lecture about the use of torture? Will we have the gall to speak about human rights and dignity?

Stewart smacks down Sheuer and a call to KO for a “Special Comment”

Crossposted at Daily Kos

The only chance we have as a country right now is for Osama bin Laden to deploy and detonate a major weapon in the United States.

Faux Corporate Partisan Propaganda

     If this was said by a Democrat, Progressive or Liberal, or even an independant or moderate, that person would have been publicly tarred and feathered and then ran out on a rail by Fox News and the rest of the Right Wing leaning corporate media.

     But instead, it was said on Fox News airtime, during the Glenn Beck show, and not a the only major media outlet to say peep about it was John Stewart’s Daily Show.

    Jon Stewart flat out destroyed Beck and Sheuer for this, and I would hope you do the same, Keith Olbermann.

Link here http://www.thedailyshow.com/vi…

Quote John Stewart

    ” Is there any way you can YELL LOUD ENOUGH at your TV for the people inside to hear you, because I tried real hard last night. “

     You heard it here folks, Jon Stewart just gave his full endorsement for YELLING LOUDER!

     Still, this is not enough.

     We need to contact authorities, force pundits and politicians to take a stand on this, and boycott Fox News and their Sponsors.      

     Dear Keith Olbermann, we need a special comment on this, please.

No More Excuses

I often compare politicians to weathervanes, with political pressures of various kinds and degrees as the winds that turn them.

But there is an interesting phenomenon to be observed with our national weathervanes. They only seem to turn to the right. Just as Obama said of McCain during the election, it must be a problem with their bearings. But whatever it is, it is definitely a problem. Perhaps the problem has to do with what kind of wind is blowing them.

Senator Dianne Feinstein recently came right out and said it:

Now Feinstein has hit back at the criticism from the left in an article about lefty groups targeting Dems for waffling on key components of health care reform:

   “I do not think this is helpful. It doesn’t move me one whit,” she said. “They are spending a lot of money on something that is not productive.”

She will not listen to the wind blowing from the Left.

It is apparent that right now, they are not being blown by the Will of The People.

It is apparent that right now, they are being blown by industry lobbyists.

And obviously, by definition, industry lobbyists are trained professionals when it comes to blowing politicians.

Even if we Lowly Citizens did have the access to the politicians that the lobbyists buy, we could not blow politicians as well they, with their experience and training and exotic tools of the trade. They have been in the business of blowing politicians for years, They know just how to stroke their….egos, and they obvious have a firm grip….on their work.

And as we all know, it is hard to get the attention of someone who is being so expertly blown. Something explosive will have to happen, methinks, before We The People have a chance to get their attention. Or maybe it is just the fact that we as an allegedly Free People are just uncomfortable kneeling before our employees in supplication, unlike the paid professionals in DC.

But The People HAVE spoken.

Along with the canard of “We don’t have the votes,” one of the favorite EXCUSES of the weathervane politicians is that The People ‘get to lobby through elections.’ While the lobbyists get to blow the pols every day… We The People only get to inform our politicians of the Will of the People every two years, our ONLY input, the ONLY pressure we get to apply, according to the pols who are being blown by the lobbyists daily, is through elections.

Well hey guys, we just HAD an election, and guess what? We The People SPOKE.

The Old Way doesn’t work, We want Change.

Thje Republican Way doesn’t work, We want Change.

The Way you are doing business….getting blown by lobbyists and ignoring your employers doesn’t work for us anymore.

And if you keep ignoring the pressure from We The People, from your employers, We The People will fire you.

The lobbyists may control the money for your campaigns, but if you recall that money is only used for one thing….to buy our votes….during elections….

Which we just had….and used to send you a message.

And which are coming up again awfully damn soon.

So pull out of that meeting with the lobbyist and take a minute and think.

All the money and strokes they give you won’t get you jackshit when you are voted out of office.

All it will get you is a lobbyist job.

And then YOU will be the one on your knees.

No More Excuses.

Give We The People what we want, what we elected you to give us, or we WILL fire you….and you will spend the rest of your careers not being the ones being blown, but being the ones doing the blowing.

The People have Spoken. Clearly. You now have 60 votes.

No More Excuses.

Red Pill blogs in the American Matrix

Never has so much accurate and impartial information been so thoroughly ignored by the general public as in the current econmic downturn. There are numerous sites on the Internet that have been accurately predicting the steady decline of the world economy while government cheerleaders and corrupt “journalists” have been encouraging the public to smoke green shoots. As a public service, I will post a few links that are the equivalent of the “red pill” in the Matrix.

The Automatic Earth

Zero Hedge

James Howard Kunstler

Naked Capitalism

Stirling Newberry at Firedog Lake

Jesse’s Cafe Americain

Calculated Risk

If you have the least interest in understanding the magnitude and direction of the economic turmoil around us, you owe it to yourself to swallow the Red Pill and visit these sites. Otherwise, you will be trapped in a Matrix dream characterized by this ridiculous headline from today’s New York Times business section:

“June Sales at Ford Fall Less Than G.M. or Chrysler”

By contrast, here is a quote from Cafe Americain that shows the attitude of the Red Pill blogs:

We are on the record in the opinion that the Obama economic team is ineffective, backward-thinking, compromised, and possibly corrupt. They are serving the corporate banks and not the people. They should be replaced starting with Larry Summers who is a Greenspan and Rubin crony and the core of failure on the team. Tim Geithner should follow to find better employment for his talents, possibly as a salesman of men’s suits.

Your annual dose of Pseudopatriotica, brought to you by Verizon

I’m starting to feel about July 4th the way I feel about September 11th, these days.

Let’s not even go into the mind-bending interdimensional hypocrisy involved in Verizon’s sponsorship of a fireworks show for happy, clueless flag wavers at the beach after that soulless corporation has contrived to place equipment all over our national infrastructure which violates the privacy of law abiding citizens and erodes civil liberties paid for with the blood of generations of far, far better men and women.

No, let’s not even go there this time, as bad as that aspect of it is. Instead let’s deal with the explosions themselves and what they’re supposed to be about. The Rockets’ Red Glare, Bombs Bursting In Air. Let’s go there. So many Americans have suffered from the lack of that glorious experience. Let’s bring you right there where the rockets glare red and the Sousa music makes it all glorious.

Anyone who’s ever worked stage crew views a play in a different light. Anyone who’s worked as a DJ or an engineer for a radio station listens to the radio differently than someone who has not.

And anyone who’s been touched by war can no longer truly enjoy a fireworks show the same way as when they were a kid.


I’ve been lucky. The closest I’ve come to actually being in a disaster was the attack on the WTC, and somewhat peripherally the northeastern blackout and the Ramstein Air Show disaster (which is why I don’t go to air shows).

Now I’ve seen the pictures of white phosphorous wounds on children in Gaza, wounds that keep on burning right down into the bone if they don’t get all of it out. “Willie Pete”, as Colonel Ann Wright explained, is stuff that’s meant to light up the sky. It’s not supposed to be used in urban environments or densely populated areas. Knowing that Israel purchased these arms from the United States kinda took some of the joy out of the Memorial Day fireworks show for me.

I also wondered when they played Bruce Springsteen’s “Born In The USA” while shooting off the fireworks how many “yellow men” were in the audience as ol’ leather lungs sang the line about killing the Vietnamese… I predicted, correctly, that they wouldn’t have the guts to play the entire song.

“Ten years burning down the road,

nowhere to run, ain’t got nowhere to go…”

Oh no they weren’t going to play that part, heh.

But I guess the thing that really haunted me as I watched the fireworks this past Memorial Day was something that happened in front of the Washington Monument in DC during a Native American medicine working called Turtle Women Rising a couple of whiles back. A real nice guy named Tom Brinson who is a Vietnam vet and a former board member of Veterans for Peace was walking toward me when a car backfired somewhere behind me. Tom flinched and ducked down, a look of absolute terror on his face. Since he was reacting, I reacted too (yay ADD) and whirled in the direction of the noise before we both realized it was just a car. Then he slowly rose back up, looking embarrassed. We locked eyes, and he looked a bit relieved that the only person who had noticed his overreaction was someone who understood.

Guys like that don’t go to fireworks shows. They’ve seen enough of the real ones. What’s so terrible and ironic is that on days like Memorial Day or July 4th we “celebrate” what they’ve gone through, when they themselves would never want to do anything of the sort.

While little kids all around me were going “YAY” and adults going “OOH AHH”, and rightfully so – it was a very nice fireworks show – all I could see was the naked fear on Tom Brinson’s face as he reacted to that car backfiring with a lightning speed beyond his years, which well explains why he is still with us when 58,000 of his brothers in arms are not.

I had a brother, at Khe Sahn, fightin’ off them Viet Cong,

He’s still there… he’s all gone…

I won’t begrudge anyone their right to say “YAY” or “OOH AHH” when they watch fireworks shows on Memorial Day or July 4th, but I don’t think I’ll be quick to join them ever again.

People are going to say I’m just being a stick in the mud, that I’m trying to ruin everybody’s good time. I’ll simply reply that if they understood even one single goddamned thing about war, it’s that it’s not something to be glorified. That’s when these preprogrammed kneejerk patriots will claim that what’s being glorified are the sacrifices our veterans have made, and I will call bullshit because I AM one of those veterans and I see full well how we are really treated in this country every other day of the year.

Honduras: Diplomacy And A Harsh Curfew


With the 3-day period imposed by OAS for the restoration of democracy and the Presidency of Manual Zelaya in Honduras slowly ticking down, diplomacy is proceeding between OAS and Roberto Micheletti’s government.  The military coup has imposed a harsh curfew, a feature of which is the withdrawal of various civil rights.  Neither side has so far blinked. No progress in resolving the coup has been reported.

According to the New York Times OAS diplomacy to end the military coup in Honduras is proceeding.  The United States role in this apparently is to give a cold shoulder to the coup, to cut off joint military operations, and to threaten a cessation of all aid if Zelaya is not restored to the presidency.

As the public standoff between Honduras and the rest of the world hardened, quiet negotiations got under way on Wednesday to lay the groundwork for a possible return of the nation’s ousted president, Manuel Zelaya.

After a marathon session that stretched close to dawn, the Organization of American States “vehemently” condemned the removal of Mr. Zelaya over the weekend and issued an ultimatum to Honduras’s new government: Unless Mr. Zelaya is returned to power within 72 hours, the nation will be suspended from the group.

Diplomats said they had rarely seen the hemisphere’s leaders unite so solidly behind a common cause.

The new Honduran government was equally resolute, warning that there was no chance Mr. Zelaya would be restored to office and that the nation would defend itself by force.

Both sides have stated their positions.  Both appear inflexible.  Has there been any movement?  No. The OAS secretary general, José Miguel Insulza, went to Tegucigalpa today for further talks.  Proposals being discussed involve an amnesty for the golpistas, Manual Zelaya saying he won’t seek an additional term, and restoration of Zelaya as President. Also, members of the Congress in Honduras are reportedly looking for a compromise.  Details of those proposals aren’t available.

Meanwhile, according to the Times, the conflict in Honduras continues to be highly polarized:

Demonstrations for and against the new government continued in Tegucigalpa and other cities across the country [on Wednesday].  Then, in a move to crack down on the opposition, the nation’s Congress approved a decree on Wednesday that applies during the overnight curfew and allows security forces to arrest people at home and hold them for more than 24 hours.

“It’s for the tranquillity of the country,” said the new president, Roberto Micheletti.

The government has accused pro-Zelaya demonstrators of vandalism and violence, noting that a grenade, which did not explode, was hurled at the Supreme Court on Tuesday. Those who oppose the government, meanwhile, accuse the security forces of stifling dissent through brutality.

The withdrawal of civil rights is serious.  It includes curtailing the right to assemble and to seek redress from the Government as well as the right not to be held without charge for more than 24 hours.  These measures apparently permit the Government to detain the opposition if the arrests are made during the curfew:

According to Honduras’ El Tiempo, the following constitutional guarantees have been suspended:

   * Article 69, which guarantees the personal freedom.

   * Article 71, which states that no one can be detained or held incommunicado for more than 24 hours without an arrest warrant.

   * Article 78, which guarantees freedom of association and freedom of assembly.

   * Article 81, which states, “Everyone has the right to free movement, to leave, enter and remain in national territory.”

El Tiempo reports that with the aforementioned guarantees suspended, “no one can hold meetings, neither public nor private, be it in the streets, in churches, in their own homes, or in union or guild halls.”


Meanwhile, Kristin Bricker reports:

he anti-coup movement’s momentum appears to be building across Honduras, with protests reported across the country.  Meanwhile, international pressure builds against the coup government.

Over the past two days, anti-coup protests were reported in Tocoa, Colon; San Pedro Sula; La Ceiba; El Progreso, Yoro; Tegucigapla; Intibuca; El Paraiso; Olancho; Santa Barbara; and all over President Zelaya’s native department of Olancho.  Moreover, the BBC reports that citizens have blocked major highways in Copan and Tocoa.  The BBC’s sources on the ground in Honduras say anti-coup protests have occurred in the majority of Honduras’ departments.

And so, we sit and wait.  I hope there will be a diplomatic resolution of the problem and a restoration of democracy in Honduras.  In the meanwhile, there is very little any of us can do except to watch and to spread the news.


cross-posted from The Dream Antilles

Oh, this is rich.


(CNN) – Mark Sanford is “embarrassing himself” and needs to resign as governor of South Carolina, conservative talk radio host and CNN contributor Bill Bennett said Thursday on CNN’s American Morning.

Bennett, the latest high profile conservative to call for Sanford’s ouster, said it’s time for the onetime Republican rising star to ditch politics and focus solely on getting his life back in order.

“I know Mark Sanford. I know him quite well,” Bennett said. “He needs to get his life back in order, his marriage back in order. He is embarrassing himself.””

Sanford needs to “stop embarrassing himself.” Really? Really? Is THAT what he needs to do, Bill Bennett?

UN Official Demands Torture Accountability

Real News CEO Paul Jay talks with Michael Ratner of the Center for Constitutional Rights about the Obama Administration doing everything they can do to “run away” from the whole issue of accountability for the premeditated, organized and institutionalized torture program of the Bush Administration, about the need for real transparency as opposed to the false claims of transparency from Obama while reports and information are held back or heavily redacted before release, and about demands now coming from UN human rights advocate Navi Pillay for holding accountable senior Bush Administration officials.

Also see:

Obama Vows to Deal With Torture, But His Pledge Doesn’t Apply to the Bush Administration

by Jason Leopold

Goldman Sachs: The Pigs Win Again

“We’re all going to die, all of us, what a circus! That alone should make us love each other but it doesn’t. We are terrorized and flattened by trivialities, we are eaten up by nothing. ”

– Charles Bukowski

The dazzling propaganda onslaught conducted by the financial sector has been shock and fucking awe as the amazing resuscitation of the FIRE industry roars into the next quarter. A dirty as a pig in shit corporatist media waged total war against reason, morality, facts, history and the law itself in allowing the treasonous looters from Wall Street bounce back off of the ropes and reassert their control over the government and the country at large. Now under the cover of the saturation coverage of the Michael Jackson freak show (I doubt that I will see this shit end in my lifetime) the still annoying little trickles of doom, like the impending implosion of Arnoldland are stomped on by gatekeepers who just play another card from the Whacko Jacko deck of jokers. Face it people, we are fucked! With the celebrity infatuated lemmings in this rotting from the insides empire it is only a matter of time until they start seeing the great one’s ghoulish visage appearing on tortillas and grilled cheese sandwiches. If there were such a thing as a truly American Jesus it would be Michael Jackson. Neverland will become the bastardized equivalent of Lourdes, Jerusalem and Graceland uniquely spliced together to resemble our sick, twisted and mutated national DNA.

Docudharma Times Thursday July 2

what I’m saying to the people of Connecticut, I can do more for you

and your families to get something done

to make health care affordable,

to get universal health insurance,

to make America energy independent, to save your jobs

and create new ones.

That’s what the Democratic Party is all about.

From 2006

Now Holy Joe Is Against It

He Loves Those


Thursday’s Headlines:

Hiring might not rebound in an economic recovery

China’s Green Dam internet filtering system will go ahead, official says

Struggling Japanese PM turns to comedian for help

Michelangelo (by Michelangelo): Self-portrait discovered hidden in his final painting

Europe’s biggest nicotine addict outlaws smoking

Saddam Hussein ‘more scared of Iran than the US’

Amnesty details Gaza ‘war crimes’

Coup drives deep divide in Honduras

Staffer at SEC Had Warned Of Madoff

Lawyer Raised Alarm, Then Was Pointed Elsewhere

By Zachary A. Goldfarb

Washington Post Staff Writer

Thursday, July 2, 2009

An investigator at the Securities and Exchange Commission warned superiors as far back as 2004 about irregularities at Bernard L. Madoff’s financial management firm, but she was told to focus on an unrelated matter, according to agency documents and sources familiar with the investigation.

Genevievette Walker-Lightfoot, a lawyer in the SEC’s Office of Compliance Inspections and Examinations, sent e-mails to a supervisor, saying information provided by Madoff during her review didn’t add up and suggesting a set of questions to ask his firm, documents show. Several of these questions directly challenged Madoff activities that much later turned out to be elements of his massive fraud.

US begins major offensive against Taliban in southern Afghanistan

Military aims to clear insurgents from Helmand River valley before Afghan presidential elections on 20 August

 Associated Press

guardian.co.uk, Thursday 2 July 2009 02.41 BST

Thousands of US marines and hundreds of Afghan troops moved into Taliban-dominated villages in southern Afghanistan today in the first major operation under Barack Obama’s strategy to stabilise the country.

The offensive was launched shortly after 1am local time in Helmand province.

The Taliban stronghold, in the south of the country, is the world’s largest opium poppy producing area.

The goal is to clear insurgents from the Helmand River valley before the Afghan presidential elections take place on 20 August.

The offensive – called Operation Khanjar, or Strike of the Sword – was described by officials as the largest and fastest-moving of the war’s new phase, involving nearly 4,000 marines and 650 Afghan forces.

British forces led similar, but smaller, missions to clear insurgents from Helmand and the neighboring Kandahar provinces last week.


Facing Deficits, Some States Cut Summer School


Published: July 1, 2009

COCOA, Fla. – A year ago, the Brevard County Schools ran a robust summer program here, with dozens of schools bustling with teachers and some 14,000 children practicing multiplication, reading Harry Potter and studying Spanish verbs, all at no cost to parents.

But this year Florida’s budget crisis has gutted summer school. Brevard classrooms are shuttered, and students like 11-year-old Uvenka Jean-Baptiste, whose mother works in a nursing home, are spending their summer days at home, surfing television channels or loitering at a mall.

Nearly every school system in Florida has eviscerated or eliminated summer school this year, and officials are reporting sweeping cuts in states from North Carolina and Delaware to California and Washington.

Muse in the Morning

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Muse in the Morning

It is a city built of bones,

and daubed with flesh and blood,

in which old age and death,

pride and hypocrisy

are the inhabitants.

–Dhammapada, verse 150

Phenomena XXXIV:  dying



At some instant

one day

the words will cease to flow

their creator (or vessel)

having passed through

the Door

between herenow

and therethen

The words left behind

the ideas they expressed

the actions they instigated

will be all

that remains

to weigh the meaning

of this particular existence

Regret is extinguished

if the words

have expressed


concern and care

and a life lived well

–Robyn Serven

–September 21, 2007

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