Monday, October 27, 2003

Highly protected

NYT: “an American colonel was killed and at least 16 people were wounded when a barrage of air-to-ground missiles from a homemade launching pad slammed into a highly protected hotel where Deputy Defense Secretary Paul D. Wolfowitz was staying.”

Define “highly protected.”

A long expose of the Teapot Dome of the Bush admin, well, one of them and possibly a bigger waste of money than that going to Halliburton, the leasing of refueling tankers from Boeing, at a cost many billions greater than if the Air Force bought them outright. But it couldn’t afford that, so it put it on the ol’ credit card, because tomorrow is another day and interest doesn’t “count.” It’s also another example of the use of conference committees: this lease was initially approved two years ago by one, and will get the final go-ahead soon from another, without ever having been considered by either the House or Senate. Which I believe used to be called taxation without representation. It’s also an example of a contractor being allowed by the Pentagon to rewrite rules, for example eliminating a provision that the new tankers be at least as good as the old ones. And yes, all the Air Force officials involved will be moving to Seattle and taking up highly paid no-show jobs after they retire from the service. It’s worth the read, and very reminiscent of the Reagan years, another period when infinite resources were lavished on the military with no regard for waste.

In Kallyfohrnia, all state employees, and legislators, have to take a sexual harassment training course. Governors don’t have to, and our incoming one has been training his entire life, so doesn’t feel he needs it.

The Post Office wants to ban anonymous mail.

Least believable statement from Iraq of the day: “the policemen say that, as he was shot and fell, he said he was Syrian.”

Whoops, spoke too soon: “George Bush yesterday tried to stifle rising doubts on the occupation of Iraq by insisting yesterday's bombings were a sign that life had improved under America's watch.” Shhh, soon everybody will want suicide bombings. No town will be considered civilized without at least 3 Starbucks and its police station a mass of smoking rubble.

Kerry responds: “Does the president really believe that suicide bombers are willing to strap explosives to their bodies because we're restoring electricity and creating jobs for Iraqis?”

Bush also showed a deep psychological understanding of his enemies: “[They] can't stand the thought of a free society. They hate freedom. They love terror. They love to try to create fear and chaos.”

In June, Ariel Sharon pledged to dismantle illegal settlement outposts. Today, he announced that 8 of them will receive lighting, school buses and military security.

3 Muslim states in northern Nigeria have blocked injections to deal with a polio outbreak, saying it is a western plot to spread AIDS. The annoying thing is that the idiot obscurantists have reason to be suspicious, since US drug companies have tried out experimental drugs there, including one for meningitis allegedly administered in one of the Nigerian states without the patients being informed of the risks.

George Monbiot has a story about Uzbekistan, which tends to imprison Muslims and, occasionally, boil them, but which has the full support of the US and UK, including increased aid, much of it going to the security services responsible for quite a lot of torture. Still, the State Dept focuses on the good news: "Average sentencing" for members of peaceful religious organisations is now just "7-12 years", while two years ago they were "usually sentenced to 12-19 years". Hurrah.

The European war against immigrants continues. Austria just tightened its laws, and France is actually setting “expulsion targets” for local authorities, with the aim of doubling expulsions.

George Lakoff, a leftie linguist who I’ve always liked, interviewed on how conservatives control the debate by controlling the language.

And, along those lines, Billmon points out the frequent use by Bushies of the word desperate to describe the Iraqi resistance.

In a discussion that’s way beyond my technical knowledge, this site says that the White House website has been deliberately tinkered with to make it hard to get information about Iraq from it through an external search engine like Google (although a search conducted within via its internal search function still works). More importantly, those pages won’t be archived at Google & elsewhere. Why? Well, the Democratic Party’s website notes that the White House has sometimes altered old pages, for example to have Bush saying on May 1 that “major combat” had ended, when in real life he didn’t qualify the word combat.

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