Monday, December 31, 2007

Looking at America - NY Times

There are too many moments these days when we cannot recognize our country. Sunday was one of them, as we read the account in The Times of how men in some of the most trusted posts in the nation plotted to cover up the torture of prisoners by Central Intelligence Agency interrogators by destroying videotapes of their sickening behavior. It was impossible to see the founding principles of the greatest democracy in the contempt these men and their bosses showed for the Constitution, the rule of law and human decency.

It was not the first time in recent years we’ve felt this horror, this sorrowful sense of estrangement, not nearly. This sort of lawless behavior has become standard practice since Sept. 11, 2001.

The country and much of the world was rightly and profoundly frightened by the single-minded hatred and ingenuity displayed by this new enemy. But there is no excuse for how President Bush and his advisers panicked — how they forgot that it is their responsibility to protect American lives and American ideals, that there really is no safety for Americans or their country when those ideals are sacrificed.

Out of panic and ideology, President Bush squandered America’s position of moral and political leadership, swept aside international institutions and treaties, sullied America’s global image, and trampled on the constitutional pillars that have supported our democracy through the most terrifying and challenging times. These policies have fed the world’s anger and alienation and have not made any of us safer.

In the years since 9/11, we have seen American soldiers abuse, sexually humiliate, torment and murder prisoners in Afghanistan and Iraq. A few have been punished, but their leaders have never been called to account. We have seen mercenaries gun down Iraqi civilians with no fear of prosecution. We have seen the president, sworn to defend the Constitution, turn his powers on his own citizens, authorizing the intelligence agencies to spy on Americans, wiretapping phones and intercepting international e-mail messages without a warrant.

We have read accounts of how the government’s top lawyers huddled in secret after the attacks in New York and Washington and plotted ways to circumvent the Geneva Conventions — and both American and international law — to hold anyone the president chose indefinitely without charges or judicial review.

Those same lawyers then twisted other laws beyond recognition to allow Mr. Bush to turn intelligence agents into torturers, to force doctors to abdicate their professional oaths and responsibilities to prepare prisoners for abuse, and then to monitor the torment to make sure it didn’t go just a bit too far and actually kill them.

The White House used the fear of terrorism and the sense of national unity to ram laws through Congress that gave law-enforcement agencies far more power than they truly needed to respond to the threat — and at the same time fulfilled the imperial fantasies of Vice President Dick Cheney and others determined to use the tragedy of 9/11 to arrogate as much power as they could.

Hundreds of men, swept up on the battlefields of Afghanistan and Iraq, were thrown into a prison in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, so that the White House could claim they were beyond the reach of American laws. Prisoners are held there with no hope of real justice, only the chance to face a kangaroo court where evidence and the names of their accusers are kept secret, and where they are not permitted to talk about the abuse they have suffered at the hands of American jailers.

In other foreign lands, the C.I.A. set up secret jails where “high-value detainees” were subjected to ever more barbaric acts, including simulated drowning. These crimes were videotaped, so that “experts” could watch them, and then the videotapes were destroyed, after consultation with the White House, in the hope that Americans would never know.

The C.I.A. contracted out its inhumanity to nations with no respect for life or law, sending prisoners — some of them innocents kidnapped on street corners and in airports — to be tortured into making false confessions, or until it was clear they had nothing to say and so were let go without any apology or hope of redress.

These are not the only shocking abuses of President Bush’s two terms in office, made in the name of fighting terrorism. There is much more — so much that the next president will have a full agenda simply discovering all the wrongs that have been done and then righting them.

We can only hope that this time, unlike 2004, American voters will have the wisdom to grant the awesome powers of the presidency to someone who has the integrity, principle and decency to use them honorably. Then when we look in the mirror as a nation, we will see, once again, the reflection of the United States of America.

Something Real Special


Loreena McKennitt - Lady of Shalott

The adaptation from the Alfred Tennyson Poem

Happy New Year


Penn & Teller : Bullshit! The Bible


Saturday, December 29, 2007

Is Bush an "Idiot"?


AssHole of The Week

John Deady, Co-Chair for New Hampshire’s Veterans for Rudy

Political Cartoon of the Week



Saturday Blues with Susan Tedeschi


Friday, December 28, 2007

Net Neutrality


War Made Easy

Eric Clapton and B.B. King - Riding With The King


Great Song from the Album Riding With The King

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Proof of NWO from George Bush SR

60's Flashback

Free Alice



Happy xmas! I've just posted a 2:23 reading I did of Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland -- the first book I ever read to myself, and one of my all time favorites. The reading's under a Creative Commons Attribution-only license, so do anything you'd like with it! MP3 Link, Other formats

A great file from the BoingBoing website. My favorite part of Alice has always been the Mad Hatters Tea Party. wolf

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Monday, December 24, 2007

[starhawk] A Pagan's Christmas Resolution

I received this E-Mail from Starhawk today

Hi friends, I thought you might want to see the response I’ve written for the Newsweek/Washington Post On Faith site, to the question below:

"The U.S. House of Representatives approved HR 847 (see link below) recognizing the importance of Christianity and Christmas. Would you have voted for this resolution? How would you amend it?

http://www.govtrack.us/congress/billtext.xpd?bill=hr110-847

On Faith can be found at <http://newsweek.washingtonpost.com/onfaith/>.

My response should be posted sometime this week and you can join in the discussion. I write for them pretty regularly but don’t always post my responses to this list.

A Pagan’s Christmas Resolution
By Starhawk
www.starhawk.org

Would I vote for a resolution affirming the importance and contributions of Christmas and Christianity? As my readers may have noted, I’m a Pagan, but I’d vote for such a resolution—heck, I’d even introduce it, if it went like this:

“Whereas Christians and Christianity are of undeniable importance in the world and the foundation of this country, in respect for his example and story at this time of year we make the following statements:

“Whereas Jesus Christ was born in a stable because his parents could not find shelter, and whereas in the last weeks we as a nation have allowed the destruction of the last remaining housing for the poor in New Orleans, and whereas our streets are full of the cold and the homeless, we repent of our policies and in his memory commit to housing all who wander without a roof or a welcome in our cities and our towns.

“Whereas Christ was born among the poor, lived and preached to the poor, we repent of the selfishness and shortsightedness that has failed to provide for all of our children, and commit ourselves to provide health care for all children and for all of the poor.

“Whereas Christ commanded us to ‘love our neighbors as ourselves’ we repent of the walls we have drawn across borders, the deaths of those who have tried to cross the deserts in search of a better life, the wall we have supported that cleaves the Holy Land itself in two and confiscates the farmland of the Palestinians, cleaves villages in two, and stands as a lasting monument to our failure to achieve peace, and we commit ourselves to establish justice which alone can provide true security.

“Whereas Christ has been called the Prince of Peace, we repent of our eagerness to use war and violence as the answer to every international situation, of the horrific and destructive war we have waged in Iraq which has claimed tens of thousands of lives, and we commit ourselves to a withdrawal of our armies, to a new foreign policy based on the building of relationships, not the bombing of children, and to fostering and nurturing peace.”

Anything less is just a bunch of empty words, and real Christians must be cringing at the hypocrisy.

If I may quote Jackson Browne’s beautiful song, The Rebel Jesus:

“Now pardon me if I have seemed

To take the tone of judgment

For I've no wish to come between

This day and your enjoyment

In a life of hardship and of earthly toil

There's a need for anything that frees us

So I bid you pleasure

And I bid you cheer

From a heathen and a Pagan

On the side of the rebel Jesus.”

As light is born out of darkness, may hope, love and compassion be kindled this season,

Starhawk

Merry Xmas


Impeachment?

OLBERMANN SPECIAL COMMENT ENTIRE GOVERNMENT HAS FAILED YOU!


Sunday, December 23, 2007

The day that forever changed a nation


By Robert Dvorchak, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

It was fourth down on their own 40 with 22 seconds to play. Trailing by a point after a bruising battle with the Oakland Raiders, the Steelers were down to their last gasp on a ghostly gray afternoon 35 years ago.

The spirits of Franco Harris sagged just a bit because his role in 66 Circle Option, a play designed to go to a wideout, was to stay in and block.

"In my mind, I said to myself, 'Franco, it's been a great year. This is probably the last play. Play it to the end,'" Harris recalled last week.

Time seemed to stand still for the 50,350 fans in Three Rivers Stadium. Then, in 17 seconds, the ashes of crushing defeat became unabashed elation because of the most electrifying play in franchise history, the most improbable touchdown captured by NFL Films and perhaps the greatest turnabout in all of sports.

"It seems like yesterday," Harris said.

On Dec. 23, 1972, the Steelers were looking for their first playoff win.

On that Saturday a devastating earthquake had struck Nicaragua, stirring Roberto Clemente to begin a relief effort. B-52 bombers pounded North Vietnam as America tried to extricate itself from a divisive war. And football hopes were as swollen as the local rivers after three consecutive days of rain.

After a scoreless first half in a street fight of a game, Roy Gerela kicked a pair of field goals for the only scoring. Then, with just 73 seconds left, the Raiders went up, 7-6. Like a punch in the stomach, Ken Stabler's 30-yard scramble had knocked the breath out of Gerela's Gorillas, Dobre Shunka, Frenchy's Foreign Legion, Franco's Italian Army and every other fan club that had energized Three Rivers Stadium.

Nothing that happened early on the climactic play suggested history was about to change. Terry Bradshaw had to scramble to avoid a sack. The Raiders had the primary receiver covered. And the ball went toward Frenchy Fuqua a split-second before Bradshaw was knocked to the turf.

Oakland's Jack Tatum decked Fuqua with a ferocious hit just as the football arrived. The force of the impact sent the ball hurtling backwards, end over end. Out of nowhere came Franco, who had been coached by Joe Paterno and later Chuck Noll to keep hustling and remain involved in a play until he heard a whistle.

"Joe always said, 'Go to the ball. Go to the ball,'" Harris said. "One of the things I've always been proud of was I was going to the ball. Things happen when you keep hustling."

He plucked the ball off his shoe tops at around the 42 yardline, sprinted down the home sideline, stiff-armed one defender and found the end zone to complete a 60-yard touchdown pass.

Although a roar went up, nobody was quite sure what had happened. In the bedlam that followed, the officials huddled on the field for two minutes, although it seemed like an eternity. Then referee Fred Swearingen raised his hands to signal touchdown. The miracle play was later named the Immaculate Reception by Myron Cope on the suggestion of a listener.

A mystique still surrounds the play and always will. Even if replay had been in effect, there is no definitive view to validate or disprove what was ruled a touchdown by the rules of the day.

But Harris readily confesses, "We had a little help from above, no doubt about that."

And what happened to the ball?

"No one knows," said Harris. "In the chaos, with everybody on the field, a fan knocked it out of my hand. It just rolled into oblivion, and no one's seen it since."

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Rudy, Rudy, Rudy

Merry Xmas HoHoHo

Rockin' Saturday with The Stones


LOVE IS STRONG
One of the Best Stones Videos Ever

Rappin' Saturday Morning


Ice Cube - Why We Thugs

Happy Yule To You and Yours


Asshole of the Week = CIGNA

RN's Statement on Death of Nataline Sarkisyan: 'CIGNA Should Have Listened to Her Doctors And Approved the Transplant a Week Ago'

The California Nurses Association/National Nurses Organizing Committee today blasted insurance giant CIGNA for failing to approve a liver transplant one week earlier for 17-year-old Nataline Sarkisyan, who tragically died last night just hours after CIGNA relented and agreed to the procedure following a massive national outcry.

On Dec. 11, four leading physicians, including the surgical director of the Pediatric Liver Transplant Program at UCLA, wrote to CIGNA urging the company to reverse its denial. The physicians said that Nataline “currently meets criteria to be listed as Status 1A” for a transplant. They also challenged CIGNA’s denial which the company said occurred because their benefit plan “does not cover experimental, investigational and unproven services,” to which the doctors replied, “Nataline’s case is in fact none of the above.”

“So what happened between December 11, when CIGNA denied the transplant, and December 20 when they approved? A huge outpouring of protest and CIGNA’s public humiliation. Why didn’t they just listen to the medical professionals at the bedside in the first place?” asked Geri Jenkins, RN, a member of the CNA/NNOC Council of Presidents who works in a transplant unit at the University of California San Diego Medical Center.

On Thursday, CIGNA was bombarded with phone calls to its offices across the country while a rally sponsored by CNA/NNOC, with the substantial help of the local Armenian community, drew 150 people to the Glendale offices of CIGNA – all of which produced the turnaround by CIGNA to finally reverse its prior denial of care.

CNA/NNOC Executive Director Rose Ann DeMoro called the final outcome "a horrific tragedy that demonstrates what is so fundamentally wrong with our health care system today. Insurance companies have a stranglehold on our health. Their first priority is to make profits for their shareholders – and the way they do that is by denying care."

"It is simply not possible to organize major protests every time a multi-billion corporation like CIGNA denies care that has been recommended by a physician," DeMoro said. “Having insurance is not the same as receiving needed care. We need a fundamental change in our healthcare system that takes control away from the insurance giants and places it where it belongs – in the hands of the medical professionals, the patients, and their families."

Political Cartoon of the Week



A vigil for the homeless, past and present

Timothy Lynn attends Operation Safety Net's memorial service for the six individuals who died while living on the streets of Pittsburgh in 2007. Mr. Lynn has lived on the streets of the North Side for four years. The service is part of the National Homeless Persons' Memorial Day on the first day of winter. Operation Safety Net honors those who have died with plaques on the Monroeville Exit overpass on Grant Street.

By Dan Majors, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Photo Rebecca Droke/Post-Gazette

The cold wind blowing under the highway ramp last night made it hard for those taking part in the vigil for the homeless to keep their flickering candles lit. But the 30 people attending were not inclined to give up.

The candles were part of Operation Safety Net's service remembering the six homeless people who died on the streets of Pittsburgh in 2007.

It's a disheartening number, but it's five fewer deaths than the city's homeless community experienced last year. The people with Operation Safety Net, which offers medical and social services to the approximately 1,200 homeless individuals in Pittsburgh, take comfort in that.

"It's very difficult to be there all the time," said Dr. James S. Withers, founder and medical director of Operation Safety Net. "Some of the folks, I get a very strong sense that they're going to die. Sometimes it's medical. But there's also a spiritual component. I can just tell, looking into [their] eyes, that they're giving up and that we're probably going to lose them."

The beginning of winter is recognized across the country as National Homeless Persons' Memorial Day. Those gathered last night at the intersection of Grant Street and Fort Pitt Boulevard, under a highway ramp leading out of town, included staff members, volunteers, church representatives, children, some homeless people and a relative of one of those remembered. They spoke about those who died, offered prayers and sang "Amazing Grace."

Hanging on the concrete wall were 88 plaques -- including one that reads "unknown" -- in commemoration of the homeless people who died in Pittsburgh and the years in which they passed, dating back to 1989.

"This is a meaningful location because I've known a lot of the people who slept on these stones," said Dr. Withers, who founded Operation Safety Net in 1992. "We remember these folks. But I really celebrate the ones that are able to courageously get their lives together and get off the streets."

In 2006, the program helped 53 people to housing. This year's total, though not final, probably will be higher, he said.

The six homeless people remembered last night were:

• James Singletary (He is incorrectly listed as "John" on the plaque.) He was a quiet man who would volunteer to help others out.

• Sonya Thomas had a cat and loved to sing. She was remembered as "a people person" who gave of herself.

• Gerald Tokar was an intelligent man who once worked with NASA's Apollo program. Jerry tried to make those around him better off.

• Larry Mays used a wheelchair and had a great sense of humor. An educated man, he had a healthy appetite and always had a smile on his face.

• Dirk Payne struggled to lead a normal life, losing battles against forces he could not control. He was trying, and that's what counted.

• Vernon Howard was a mystery man, whose remains were found.

"Maybe it's appropriate," Dr. Withers said, "that we end with a man who otherwise would be forgotten. We pray that he is at peace."

Of the six homeless people who died, Dr. Withers said, two were killed. One died from infection and one from alcoholism. Two died of unknown causes.

Joe Edwards, 44, one of the homeless men at the ceremony, spoke of the "community" of homeless people in Pittsburgh, who "stick together."

"They help each other out," said Mr. Edwards, who used to live in the Turtle Creek area but now spends his nights in a doorway off a driveway Downtown. "If there's a new person, they'll show them where to go."

"This is an opportunity for us to acknowledge that we're all connected, that we're all brothers and sisters, and that the folks that passed away are not forgotten," Dr. Withers said. "This is not just about the people who have died, but also people that are still out there. People that are cold, that are hungry, that feel that they're alone. We remember them and we dedicate ourselves to making sure that they know that there's love and there's hope, if we work together.

"Unfortunately, I know we'll be here again next year."

Friday, December 21, 2007

Homeless Memorial Day


I made this slide show awhile ago, dedicated to the people I work with and the homeless folks of Pittsburgh. Today is National Homeless Memorial Day remembering all those who died on the streets. There are many names on the memorial wall downtown of street people who have died here. I wonder if other towns have a wall like ours? Rest In Peace my Friends

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Lakota group pushes for new nation


Activist and actor Russell Means speaks at a news conference Wednesday in Washington on the Lakota Sioux Indian withdrawal from all treaties with the U.S. government.

WASHINGTON - A group of "freedom-loving" Lakota activists announced a plan Wednesday for their people to withdraw from treaties their forefathers signed with the U.S. government.

Headed by leaders of the American Indian Movement, including activist, actor and Porcupine resident Russell Means, the group dropped in on the State Department and the embassies of Bolivia, Venezuela, Chile and South Africa this week seeking recognition for their effort to form a free and independent Lakota nation. The group plans to visit more embassies in the coming months.

The new nation is needed because Indians have been "dismissed" by the United States and are tired of living under a colonial apartheid system, Means said during a news conference held at Plymouth Congregational Church in northeast Washington. He was accompanied by a bodyguard and three other Lakota activists - Gary Rowland, Duane Martin and Phyllis Young, all of South Dakota.

"I want to emphasize, we do not represent the collaborators, the Vichy Indians and those tribal governments set up by the United States of America to ensure our poverty, to ensure the theft of our land and resources," Means said, comparing elected tribal governments to Nazi collaborators in France during World War II.

Rodney Bordeaux, chairman of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe, said his community has no desire to join the breakaway nation. Means and his group, which call themselves the Lakota Freedom Delegation, have never officially pitched their views to the Rosebud community, Bordeaux said.

"Our position on that is we need to uphold the treaties, and we're constantly reminding Congress of that message," Bordeaux said. "We're pushing to maintain and to keep the treaties there because they're the basis of our relationship with the federal government."

Nation's proposals

Members of the new nation would not pay any taxes, and leaders would be informally chosen by community elders, Means said. Non-Indians could continue to live in the new nation's territory, which would consist of the western parts of North and South Dakota and Nebraska and eastern parts of Wyoming and Montana. The new government would issue its own passports and drivers licenses, Means said.

"Our withdrawal (from the treaties) is fully thought out," Means said, referring to peace treaties the Lakota people signed with the government in 1851 and 1868. "We were mandated by our elders in 1974 to do two things. First, to establish relationships with the international community... and the second mandate, of course, was to reestablish our independence."

Bolivian Ambassador Gustavo Guzman, who attended the press conference out of solidarity, said he takes the Lakotas' declaration of independence seriously.

"We are here because the demands of indigenous people of America are our demands," Guzman said. "We have sent all the documents they presented to the embassy to our ministry of foreign affairs in Bolivia and they'll analyze everything."

Lakota Indians Withdraw Treaties Signed With U.S. 150 Years Ago

WASHINGTON — The Lakota Indians, who gave the world legendary warriors Sitting Bull and Crazy Horse, have withdrawn from treaties with the United States.

"We are no longer citizens of the United States of America and all those who live in the five-state area that encompasses our country are free to join us,'' long-time Indian rights activist Russell Means said.

A delegation of Lakota leaders has delivered a message to the State Department, and said they were unilaterally withdrawing from treaties they signed with the federal government of the U.S., some of them more than 150 years old.

The group also visited the Bolivian, Chilean, South African and Venezuelan embassies, and would continue on their diplomatic mission and take it overseas in the coming weeks and months.

Lakota country includes parts of the states of Nebraska, South Dakota, North Dakota, Montana and Wyoming.

The new country would issue its own passports and driving licences, and living there would be tax-free - provided residents renounce their U.S. citizenship, Mr Means said.

The treaties signed with the U.S. were merely "worthless words on worthless paper," the Lakota freedom activists said.

Withdrawing from the treaties was entirely legal, Means said.

"This is according to the laws of the United States, specifically article six of the constitution,'' which states that treaties are the supreme law of the land, he said.

"It is also within the laws on treaties passed at the Vienna Convention and put into effect by the US and the rest of the international community in 1980. We are legally within our rights to be free and independent,'' said Means.

The Lakota relaunched their journey to freedom in 1974, when they drafted a declaration of continuing independence — an overt play on the title of the United States' Declaration of Independence from England.

Thirty-three years have elapsed since then because "it takes critical mass to combat colonialism and we wanted to make sure that all our ducks were in a row,'' Means said.

One duck moved into place in September, when the United Nations adopted a non-binding declaration on the rights of indigenous peoples — despite opposition from the United States, which said it clashed with its own laws.

"We have 33 treaties with the United States that they have not lived by. They continue to take our land, our water, our children,'' Phyllis Young, who helped organize the first international conference on indigenous rights in Geneva in 1977, told the news conference.

The U.S. "annexation'' of native American land has resulted in once proud tribes such as the Lakota becoming mere "facsimiles of white people,'' said Means.

Oppression at the hands of the U.S. government has taken its toll on the Lakota, whose men have one of the shortest life expectancies - less than 44 years - in the world.

Lakota teen suicides are 150 per cent above the norm for the U.S.; infant mortality is five times higher than the U.S. average; and unemployment is rife, according to the Lakota freedom movement's website.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Weapons of Mass Deception


I find it very strange that there are people that still believe that Saddam had WMD's

CountDown: Tales Of The Tapes


John Lee Hooker & Santana - The Healer

"When Democracy Failed by Thom Hartmann"


Election? What Election?

Bob Dylan once Sang

Now, the man on the stand he wants my vote
He's a-runnin' for office on a ballot note
He's out there preachin' in' front of the steeple
Tellin' me he loves all kinds of people.
He's eatin' bagels, he's eatin' pizzas, he's eatin' chitlins.
I say

There isn't anyone running that I give a dam about
Someone please tell me the difference

Dylan Sang

well, now time passed and now it seems
Everybody's having them dreams.
Everybody sees themselves walkin' around with no one else.
Half of the people can be part right all of the time,
Some of the people can be all right part of the time.
But all the people can't be all right all the time
I think Abraham Lincoln said that.
"I'll let you be in my dreams if I can be in yours,"
I said that.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Blade Runner: The Final Cut


Ridley Scott's cyberpunk masterpiece is out in a 4 DVD set.

Monday, December 17, 2007

PPA Ad: "Bad Beat"


I play poker online for play money, last count over 17G worth, I still support and I am a member of The Poker Players Alliance

Army Times' Article Describes U.S. Troop 'Mutiny' in Iraq

By E&P Staff


Published: December 16, 2007 8:20 PM ET


NEW YORK While violence is down in Iraq, Americans continue to die and fall badly wounded, and suffer severe stress and trauma caused by 15-month tours of duty. A remarkable article on Friday in the Army Times is titled: "Not us. We’re not going: Soldiers in 2nd Platoon, Charlie 1-26 stage a ‘mutiny’ that pulls the unit apart."


Here are two excerpts. The first describes only one of several incidents that drove many soldiers to "stand down." The second looks at how some responded. The entire lengthy piece by staff writer Kelly Kennedy can be found at:


http://www.armytimes.com/news/2007/12/bloodbrothers3/



Lt. Col. John Reynolds replaced Lt. Col. Eric Schacht as battalion commander July 8. Schacht left after his son died of a heart condition in Germany, the same day Charlie Company lost five men in the Bradley. Even with the high operations tempo and the loss of so many men, Reynolds called the changeover “easy.”


“It was the best transition you could get,” he said.


But within days, he would lose five men, including a respected senior non-commissioned officer. Master Sgt. Jeffrey McKinney, Alpha Company’s first sergeant, was known as a family man and as a good leader because he was intelligent and could explain things well. But Staff Sgt. Jeremy Rausch of Charlie Company’s 1st Platoon, a good friend of McKinney’s, said McKinney told him he felt he was letting his men down in Adhamiya.


“First Sergeant McKinney was kind of a perfectionist and this was bothering him very much,” Rausch said. On July 11, McKinney was ordered to lead his men on a foot patrol to clear the roads of IEDs. Everyone at Apache heard the call come in from Adhamiya, where Alpha Company had picked up the same streets Charlie had left. Charlie’s 1st Platoon had also remained behind, and Rausch said he would never forget the fear he heard in McKinney’s driver’s voice:


“This is Apache seven delta,” McKinney’s driver said in a panicked voice over the radio. “Apache seven just shot himself. He just shot himself. Apache seven shot himself.”


Rausch said there was no misunderstanding what had happened.


According to Charlie Company soldiers, McKinney said, “I can’t take it anymore,” and fired a round. Then he pointed his M4 under his chin and killed himself in front of three of his men.


At Old Mod, Charlie Company was called back in for weapons training, DeNardi said. They were told it was an accident. Then they were told it was under investigation. And then they were told it was a suicide. Reynolds confirmed that McKinney took his own life.



.... 2nd Platoon had gathered for a meeting and determined they could no longer function professionally in Adhamiya — that several platoon members were afraid their anger could set loose a massacre.


“We said, ‘No.’ If you make us go there, we’re going to light up everything,” DeNardi said. “There’s a thousand platoons. Not us. We’re not going.”


They decided as a platoon that they were done, DeNardi and Cardenas said, as did several other members of 2nd Platoon. At mental health, guys had told the therapist, “I’m going to murder someone.” And the therapist said, “There comes a time when you have to stand up,” 2nd Platoon members remembered. For the sake of not going to jail, the platoon decided they had to be “unplugged.”


Ybay had gone to battalion to speak up for his guys and ask for more time. But when he came back, it was with orders to report to Old Mod.


Ybay said he tried to persuade his men to go out, but he could see they were not ready.


“It was like a scab that wouldn’t heal up,” Ybay said. “I couldn’t force them to go out. Listening to them in the mental health session, I could hear they’re not ready.”


At 2 a.m, Ybay said, he’d found his men sitting outside smoking cigarettes. They could not sleep. Some of them were taking as many as 10 sleeping pills and still could not rest. The images of their dead friends haunted them. The need for revenge ravaged them.

Winter Morning in the Burgh

RIP Dan Fogelberg


Sunday, December 16, 2007

It's that time of the year again


I never get tired of this xmas song by the Pouges and Kristy MacColl
Fairytale of New York

Talking Heads - Life During Wartime


This ain't no Party, This ain't Disco, This ain't no Foolin Around

Is junk media making you sick???

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Another Attack on Blogs

Techdirt: Journalism Professor Says Citizen Journalists Should Be Regulated

from the ah,-the-old-elite-standards-again dept

There's just something about the idea a lack of "elite" gatekeepers that upsets some people. It's why you hear complaints about Wikipedia or blogs or home videos on YouTube. For some reason, there are a group of folks (often the former elitist gatekeepers) who feel that since not all of the content is great, useful or interesting, it all is problematic in some way or another. The latest to express this type of viewpoint is David Hazinski, a journalism professor and former NBC correspondent, claiming that "unfettered" citizen journalism is "too risky" and that it needs to be regulated (via Romenesko) by "official" media companies, handing out "certificates" to citizen journalists. Unfortunately, his basic premise seems to be incorrect. He states: "Supporters of "citizen journalism" argue it provides independent, accurate, reliable information that the traditional media don't provide." That's not quite true. While some supporters may claim that, in general the benefits of the idea that anyone can be a reporter isn't necessarily about reliable information, but about providing additional viewpoints and information to try to make sure that more of the story is out there for people to find. It's not necessarily about being better -- but just giving an outlet to people who can add more to the story. He's certainly right that it can be abused, but that's missing the point. Sure it can be abused. But so can the traditional press. What's more important is that such abuses can also be outed and brought to light, just like any other news story. Hazinski is right that professional journalists should be verifying the information provided by "citizen journalists" but that should be true of anyone they accept information from. Almost all of the complaints he lobs at these untrained journalists applies equally to the trained ones -- so it's hard to interpret this piece as anything but complaints from someone who doesn't like the riffraff encroaching on his turf.

Scrooged Again

Dan Bern - Jerusalem


I've Been a Fan of this guy for a long time.

Saturday Folk Musc Fest


Congratulations Mr Leonard Cohen for making into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.
This is my Favorite LC song, Joan of Arc

Asshole of the Week

Think Progress » Rep. King: ‘Every Child’ In American Schools Needs To Learn ‘The Tenets Of The Christian Faith’

Earlier this week, Rep. Steve King (R-IA) introduced legislation recognizing the “importance of Christmas and the Christian faith.” The resolution passed 372-9.

Last Wednesday on Fox News, King said he introduced the bill because he believes “we’re a Christian nation founded on Christian principles.” In an interview on Alan Colmes’ radio show yesterday, King went even further, saying that “every child” should “be taught” the “tenets of Christianity”:

COLMES: Should they be taught Christianity, should every child learn Christianity?

KING: I think they should learn it. If you’re going to learn American history, you cannot teach it without teaching Christianity.

COLMES: It’s one thing to teach the history of how religion may have been part of our growth as a country. It’s another thing to actually teach the tenets of a religion. As if the people going to school should learn the tenets of a particular faith. You’re not saying they should learn the tenets of Christianity, are you?

KING: I think they need to understand the tenets of the Christian faith and other faiths that have affected the history of this country.

King’s concedes that if “the tenets of Christianity” are to be taught in school, “other faiths” should be taught as well. But given his contention that “the foundation” of “our American culture is Christian” and his need to recognize “the Christian faith” in the Congressional Record, it is difficult to believe the sincerity of King’s attempt at tolerance.

King has shown animosity towards non-Christian religions in the past. As ThinkProgress has noted, he opposed resolutions recognizing the Muslim celebration of Ramadan and the Hindu Diwali. After nine Democrats voted against his “Christian faith” resolution, King attacked them, saying “how they could vote ‘yes’ on Islam, ‘yes’ on the Indian religions and ‘no’ on Christianity.”

Political Cartoon of the Week

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Lessons on Life

Lessons on Life

There was an Indian Chief who had four sons. He wanted his sons to learn not to judge
Things too quickly. So he sent them each on a quest, in turn, to go and look at
A pear tree that was a great distance away.

The first son went in the winter, the second in the spring, the third in
Summer, and the youngest son in the fall.

When they had all gone and come back, he called them together to describe
What they had seen.

The first son said that the tree was ugly, bent, and twisted.

The second son said no it was covered with green buds and full of promise.

The third son disagreed; he said it was laden with blossoms that smelled so
Sweet and looked so beautiful, it was the most graceful thing he had ever
Seen.

The last son disagreed with all of them; he said it was ripe and drooping with
Fruit, full of life and fulfillment.

The man then explained to his sons that they were all right, because they
Had each seen but only one season in the tree's life.

He told them that you cannot judge a tree, or a person, by only one season,
And that the essence of who they are and the pleasure, joy, and love that
Come from that life can only be measured at the end, when all the seasons
Are up.

If you give up when it's winter, you will miss the promise of your spring, the
Beauty of your summer, fulfillment of your fall.

Moral:

Don't let the pain of one season destroy the joy of all the rest.

Don't judge life by one difficult season.

Persevere through the difficult patches and better times are sure to come
Some time

Live Simply.

Love Generously.

Care Deeply.

Speak Kindly.

Leave the Rest to God.

Happiness keeps You Sweet,

Trials keep You Strong,

Sorrows keep You Human,

Failures keep You Humble,

Success keeps You Glowing,

But Only God keeps You Going!

Things that make you say what the F%^K?

Arenlist mailing list
Arenlist@list.aren.org

The House passed this bill today. The vote, surprisingly, was
372-9, with 10 members also voting "Present," meaning they took no
position on the legislation, and 40 not voting. One of the "Present"
votes was cast by Rep. Mike Pence (R-Ind.). More Democrats -195 -
voted for the bill than Republicans, 177.
The nine members who voted against the bill - God bless them! - are
Reps. Gary Ackerman (D-N.Y.), Yvette Clarke (D-N.Y.), Diana DeGette
(D-Colo.), Alcee Hastings (D-Fla.), Barbara Lee (D-Calif.), Jim
McDermott (D-Wash.), Bobby Scott (D-Va.), Pete Stark (D-Calif.) and
Lynn Woolsey (D-Calif.).
Here's the text of H.Res. 847, just so you know how important
Christianity and Xmas are:
"Recognizing the importance of Christmas and the Christian faith.

Whereas Christmas, a holiday of great significance to Americans and
many other cultures and nationalities, is celebrated annually by Christians
throughout the United States and the world;

Whereas there are approximately 225,000,000 Christians in the United
States, making Christianity the religion of over three-fourths of the
American population;
Whereas there are approximately 2,000,000,000 Christians throughout
the world, making Christianity the largest religion in the world and the
religion of about one-third of the world population;

Whereas Christians identify themselves as those who believe in the
salvation from sin offered to them through the sacrifice of their
savior, Jesus Christ, the Son of God, and who, out of gratitude for
the gift of salvation, commit themselves to living their lives in
accordance with the teachings of the Holy Bible;

Whereas Christians and Christianity have contributed greatly to the
development of western civilization;

Whereas the United States, being founded as a constitutional
republic in the traditions of western civilization, finds much in its history that
points observers back to its roots in Christianity;

Whereas on December 25 of each calendar year, American Christians
observe Christmas, the holiday celebrating the birth of their savior,
Jesus Christ;

Whereas for Christians, Christmas is celebrated as a recognition of
God's redemption, mercy, and Grace; and

Whereas many Christians and non-Christians throughout the United
States and the rest of the world, celebrate Christmas as a time to serve
others: Now, therefore be it Resolved, That the House of Representatives-

-

(1) recognizes the Christian faith as one of the great religions of
the world;

(2) expresses continued support for Christians in the United States
and worldwide;

(3) acknowledges the international religious and historical importance
of Christmas and the Christian faith;

(4) acknowledges and supports the role played by Christians and
Christianity in the founding of the United States and in the formation
of the western civilization;

(5) rejects bigotry and persecution directed against Christians,
both in the United States and worldwide; and

(6) expresses its deepest respect to American Christians and
Christians throughout the world."

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Dar Williams - "The Christians and The Pagans"


It's starting to look like Yule. This was the most requested song on my net radio show why back when on PFSN (Pagan FreeSpirit Network). Enjoy and have a Blessed Yule.

Congress Looks At Vet Suicides


A Bad Week For Scooter

From 2PJ

Earlier this week I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby decided to drop his appeal - this was for his part in the outing of Valerie Plame. From the AP:

Libby, the former chief of staff to Vice President Dick Cheney, was convicted of perjury and obstruction for lying about his conversations with reporters about outed CIA operative Valerie Plame.
And yesterday was this:
President Bush granted pardons Tuesday to carjackers, drug dealers, a moonshiner and a violator of election laws, but not to I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, his vice president's former top aide who was convicted in the case of the leaked identity of a CIA operative.
This has gotta be pissing off the wingnuts. I can just hear them now:
  • Scooter remains a convicted felon when that liar Joe Wilson remains free?
  • But Armitage was the leaker!
  • She was only a desk-jockey!
  • She wasn't a covert operative!
  • She was a soccer mom!
  • Her cover had already been blown by Aldrice Ames!
  • It was Wilson who lied about the Uranium in Niger!
  • It's a coup attempt from within the CIA!
  • Hey, Sandy Berger stole documents!
  • In his socks!
  • And Bill Clinton lied, too!
  • Bill Clinton!
  • Bill Clinton!
  • Bill Clinton!

Two by a Great Band


Traveling Wilburys - Handel With Care


Traveling Wilburys - End of the Line

Monday, December 10, 2007

America's Message To The World

Rendell rallies gun control activists

HARRISBURG -- Gov. Ed Rendell joined dozens of state legislators, mayors from Eastern Pennsylvania, police officers and gun control groups today in trying to step up the pressure on the General Assembly to enact "sensible" laws to protect the police and public from growing handgun violence.

The governor acknowledged those on his side are going up against a strong and well-organized opponent in the National Rifle Association, which has opposed passage of three gun bills that Mr. Rendell calls "common sense," but which he can't get out of the House Judiciary Committee.

One bill would restrict handgun buyers to buying one gun per month, or 12 per year. Another bill would require handgun owners to report to police within 24 hours if the weapon is lost or stolen. Mr. Rendell says too many "straw purchasers" buy guns for criminals who can't buy them themselves, and then when a weapon is linked to a killing, the purchases merely says, "Oh, I lost that gun months ago."

The third bill would let municipalities enact their own gun laws, which could be tougher than state law. Currently that isn't possible, because only the Legislature can enact gun laws. The committee voted against the first and third bill and tabled the second bill recently.

Also at the rally were members of CeaseFirePA and Moms Against Violence, who vowed to put pressure on legislators to at least get the three bills out of the Judiciary Committee and force all House members to take a stand on them.

An emotional moment came when the Hacke family of West Miffllin spoke. They lost an infant son to random gun violence in Homestead on the night of Jan. 11, 1997.

Mary Beth Hacke, who with her husband Tom, and small sons, Matthew and Ryan, were stopped at a red light after having just pulled out of a gasoline station. Suddenly some youths began firing at the gasoline station and a bullet struck and killed Ryan, then 14 months old. Matthew was sitting near Ryan in the back seat but wasn't hurt. Today, the Hackes' three children, Matthew, Tyler and Sarah, held a framed photograph of Ryan at the news conference.

"Ryan, who we miss every waking and sleeping second, was violently taken from us by a criminal who never should have been able to get his hands on a handgun, but who did," said Mrs. Hacke.

Many legislators, however, represent rural areas where hunting and target shooting is popular, and they don't see any reason for more laws which, they claim, would restrict their constituents' rights under the Second Amendment. They favor tough prison sentences for suspects convicted of use firearms during crimes.

Rep. Dan Frankel, D-Squirrel Hill, said more work needs to be done to persuade legislators of the importance of the three gun control bills. Mr. Rendell insisted he isn't trying to take guns away from, or hurt the rights of, lawful and responsible gun owners and sportsmen.

Romney and Huckabee's religious intolerance

Nonbelievers have long been more tolerant of believers in office than the other way around.

By Joe Conason Salon.com

Dec. 7, 2007 | Distasteful as all the Bible thumping and ostentatious piety of the Republican presidential aspirants certainly are, the time may have come to address their religious pretensions directly, instead of turning away in mild disgust. For the truth is that no matter how often candidates like Mitt Romney and Mike Huckabee promise to uphold the Constitution and protect religious freedom, they are clearly seeking to impose the restrictive tests of faith that the nation's founders abhorred.

The most egregious offender against basic American civics today is Huckabee, who told a group of students at Liberty University, the center of higher learning founded by the late Jerry Falwell, that his sudden rise in the Iowa polls is an act of God. He compared the improvement in his political fortunes to the New Testament miracle of the loaves and fishes. He wasn't joking, as both his demeanor and his words demonstrated.

The Rev. Huckabee has proved willing to risk his oversold reputation as the "nice" evangelical with a primary strategy that draws attention to his qualifications as a "Christian leader," in contrast to the suspect Mormonism of Romney. Huckabee was honest enough not to deny that he believes the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is a cult -- and in fact, many if not most of his fellow Southern Baptists regard the LDS church as a satanic cult.

In response, Romney delivered an address that simultaneously pleaded for religious tolerance and urged intolerance of what he termed the "religion of secularism." The former Massachusetts governor at once declined to discuss the specific dogmas of his own faith while seeking to convince the bigots in his political party that, like them, he accepts Jesus Christ as the Son of God and his Savior. (Actually, Mormon beliefs about Jesus, which Romney insists he will not abandon, are considerably more complicated than his speech implied and bear little resemblance to the theology of orthodox Christianity.)

Whatever bland assurances they may offer to the contrary, both Romney and Huckabee have implicitly endorsed religious tests for a presidential candidacy. Both suggest that only leaders who accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior are qualified to lead. Huckabee says that we should choose a president who speaks "the language of Zion," meaning a fundamentalist Christian like himself. Romney says that among the questions that may appropriately be asked of aspiring presidential candidates is what they believe about Jesus Christ, a question he endeavored to answer in a way that would assuage suspicions about his own religion.

So if these two worthy gentlemen seek to exploit or extol their own faith, why should we bar ourselves from exploring the subject more deeply? They have invited a discussion of the sublime and the absurd in their religious doctrines, and of how those doctrines would influence them in office. We have already seen the destruction inflicted on America and the world by a dogmatic chief executive who believes that God urged him to wage war. (And let's not forget that Rudolph Giuliani, among others, has echoed the notion that President Bush was divinely chosen and inspired.)

We can begin with Romney's speech Thursday, in which he declared, as Joan Walsh noted with alarm, that there can be no liberty without faith. "Freedom requires religion just as religion requires freedom ... Freedom and religion endure together, or perish alone."

This statement is so patently false that it scarcely deserves refutation. If Romney has studied the bloody history of his own church, then he knows that the religious fervor of its adversaries drove them to deprive the Mormons not only of their freedom but their lives, and that the Mormons reacted in kind. If he has studied the bloody history of the world's older religions, then he knows that the most devout Christians of all sects have not hesitated to suppress, torture and murder "heretics" throughout history. Only the strictest separation of church and state has permitted the establishment of societies where freedom of conscience prevails -- and those freedoms are firmly rooted in societies where organized religion has long been in decline.

Surely Romney knows that Mormonism, in particular, was historically hostile to liberty for blacks as well as women. The founders of his church believed that God had cursed the world's dark-skinned people. They rejected abolitionism and later the civil rights movement. And their acceptance of full membership for African-Americans in the LDS church dates back only 30 years.

If Romney is going to attack humanists and secularists as "wrong," then let him explain why they were so far ahead of his church on the greatest moral issues of the past half-century.

As for Huckabee, let him answer a few pertinent questions about his faith, too. Does he actually believe in creationist dogma that insists the planet is less than 10,000 years old, and that humans once walked with dinosaurs? How would that loony idea influence his science policies as president? Is he a believer in "end times" eschatology, which holds that American foreign policy should be shaped by the coming Armageddon in the Middle East? Would he apply the harsh punishments of the Old Testament to biblical sins such as homosexuality and adultery?

Phonies like Huckabee and Romney complain constantly about the supposed religious intolerance of secular liberals. But the truth is that liberals -- including agnostics and atheists -- have long been far more tolerant of religious believers in office than the other way around. They helped elect a Southern Baptist named Jimmy Carter to the presidency in 1976, and today they support a Mormon named Harry Reid who is the Senate majority leader -- which makes him the highest-ranking Mormon officeholder in American history. Nobody in the Democratic Party has displayed the slightest prejudice about Reid's religion.

Liberals and progressives have no apologies to make, or at least no more than libertarians and conservatives do. Cherishing the freedoms protected by a secular society need not imply any disrespect for religion. But when candidates like Romney and Huckabee press the boundaries of the Constitution to promote themselves as candidates of faith, it is time to push back.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Anne Feeney and Evan Greer - Been To Jail For Justice?


I first met Anne at some Rally or Protest many years ago, can't remember which one, there have been so many she's sung at. Check out her My Space page. This Lady rocks Protest Music!

Saturday Rockin with The Iron City Houserockers


Joe Grushecky and the Iron City Houserockers - Juniors Bar
Yeah - They are a Pittsburgh Band


CIA: Lies and videotape?

Asshole of the Week

Think Progress » Hannity: ‘The NIE Report In 2005 And The One In 2007 Are Basically The Same’

In September, armchair Gen. Sean Hannity detailed on his Fox News show “what a U.S. strike against Iran’s nuclear facilities would look like.” He called Iran a “ticking bomb.”

Armchair intellgence analyst Hannity is now refusing to accept the recent National Intelligence Estimate, which concludes that Iran has halted its nuclear weapons program. Interviewing John Bolton yesterday, Hannity argued that it “is not the case” the the administration overinflated the Iranian threat. “The headlines that we’re reading about the NIE are misleading,” he argued.

Hannity then claimed the 2005 NIE — which falsely concluded that Iran was “determined to develop nuclear weapons” — was “basically the same” as the 2007 NIE:

HANNITY: Because substantively you’re pointing out that the NIE report in 2005 and the one in 2007 are basically the same. And you say, moreover, the distinction between military and civilian programs is highly artificial. Explain why that’s the case.

In this NIE, the intelligence community makes clear that the new report is an “extensive reexamination of the issues in the May 2005 assessment.” It explicitly states, “Tehran’s decision to halt its nuclear weapons program suggests it is less determined to develop nuclear weapons than we have been judging since 2005.” Some key differences between the two NIEs:

2005 NIE 2007 NIE
“Assess with high confidence that Iran currently is determined to develop nuclear weapons.” “Judge with high confidence that in fall 2003, Tehran halted its nuclear weapons program.”
“Iran could produce enough fissile material for a weapon by the end of this decade.” “[T]his is very unlikely.”

Bolton never disputed Hannity’s false judgments. “They’re still doing it, building up an inventory” he maintained. Indeed, Iran is still enriching uranium for civilian purposes, as the NIE states, but it is unlikely to achieve nuclear capability until after 2015 “because of foreseeable technical and programmatic problems.”

The 2005 NIE’s conclusions “appeared to have been thinly sourced and were based on methods less rigorous than were ultimately required.” The 2007 NIE is “one of the most well-sourced” ever. Yet even this isn’t good enough for Hannity or Bolton.

Transcript:

HANNITY: I want our public and our viewing audience out there to understand something here, because you infer this very clearly in this piece here. And that is the headlines that we’re reading about the NIE are misleading, that it was meant for people to draw a certain conclusion, is that, quote, our intelligence got it wrong again, and they misread the facts, and they made a mistake just like on weapons of mass destruction. That is not the case.

BOLTON: Right. There’s — there’s a lot in these two or three pages, much of which I agree with. But the thing that has grabbed all the headlines is the suspension of the weapons program in 2003, very narrowly defined.

The report goes on to say Iran has been enriching uranium steadily since then. That’s critical to a weapons program, just as it is to a civil program.

HANNITY: Because your knowledge here is so important. Because substantively you’re pointing out that the NIE report in 2005 and the one in 2007 are basically the same. And you say, moreover, the distinction between military and civilian programs is highly artificial. Explain why that’s the case.

BOLTON: To either get fuel to power reactors or to have nuclear weapons, you need enriched uranium. Different levels, but you need to enrich uranium. So every intelligence analyst would tell you, the long pole in the tent, in assessing how long it takes to get weapons, is enriching uranium. They’re still doing it, building up an inventory.

HANNITY: Thank you.

COLMES: They’re very clear. They halted their covert weapons program in 2003. It’s very clear.

HANNITY: He doesn’t get it.

BOLTON: What part of the weapons program? The weaponization design. And this same judgment says we have only moderate confidence that that suspension is still in place.

COLMES: We’ve got to run.

Political Cartoon of the Week

Friday, December 7, 2007

Thursday, December 6, 2007

White House’s NIE story unravels even more

Crooks and Liars » White House’s NIE story unravels even more

In the wake of a National Intelligence Estimate that concluded Iran stopped its nuclear-weapons program in 2003, the White House story on what Bush knew when has been burdened by contradictions and apparent falsehoods.

Yesterday, the White House’s story changed.

President Bush was told in August that Iran’s nuclear weapons program “may be suspended,” the White House said Wednesday, which seemingly contradicts the account of the meeting given by Bush Tuesday.

Adm. Mike McConnell, the director of national intelligence, told Bush the new information might cause intelligence officials to change their assessment of the Iranian program, but said analysts needed to review the new data before making a final judgment, White House press secretary Dana Perino said late Wednesday.

“Director McConnell said that the new information might cause the intelligence community to change its assessment of Iran’s covert nuclear program, but the intelligence community was not prepared to draw any conclusions at that point in time, and it wouldn’t be right to speculate until they had time to examine and analyze the new data,” Perino said in a statement issued by the White House.

The new account from Perino seems to contradict the president’s version of his August conversation with McConnell and raised new questions about why Bush continued to warn the American public about a threat from Iran two months after being told a new assessment was in the works.

Of course it contradicts Bush’s version. On Tuesday, the White House line was that Bush wasn’t given any sense of what the latest Iranian intelligence said. On Wednesday, the White House line was that Bush was told the latest Iranian intelligence suggested Iran’s nuclear program might not exist.

The president is stuck in a lie he can’t get out of.

Lewis Black - America ISN'T #1

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

War on x-mas card

More at 2pj
One of Pittsburghs best political blogs

Joe Biden discusses the NIE and Iran