Archives for the Month of August 2008 on Through the Magnifying Glass

Ron Paul on Fed and Imperialism

Lack of news: Military buildup in the Persian Gulf

The mainstream media have not reported that there is a buildup of US naval vessels in the Persian Gulf. There have been confirmed and unconfirmed sources that up to five (5) aircraft carrier groups are now in the Middle East region.

DEBKAfile - Three major US naval strike forces due this week in Persian Gulf

DEBKAfile's military sources have named the USS Theodore Roosevelt, the USS Ronald Reagan, and the USS Iwo Jima that are enroute to the Gulf. Already in place are the USS Abraham Lincoln in the Arabian Sea opposite Iranian shores and the USS Peleliu which is cruising in the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden.

If all of this is true, there will be more than 40 carriers, warships, and submarines operating in Middle Eastern waters, and in particular, close to Iran.

Why are there so many ships in the region?

Also, third-party sources have reported that French and British ships are accompanying the USS Theodore Roosevelt to the Gulf.

Could this be a planned naval blockade of Iran in order to stop it from importing benzene and other refined oil products?

In the Jerusalem Post, the US Department of Defense have denied those reports.

Egypt's Middle Eastern Times said Kuwait had activated its Emergency War Plan after learning that a force "consisting of a US Navy super carrier battle group and is accompanied by an expeditionary carrier battle group, a British Royal Navy carrier battle group and a French nuclear hunter-killer submarine" are headed for the Middle East. Some of the ships were allegedly involved in Operation Brimstone, held in the Atlantic last week, which simulated a naval blockade of Iran.

All of this have not been reported in any mainstream news channel or web site.

Just imagine having more than 40 naval warships in the Persian Gulf. What are they doing? Some large-scale exercise? It seems quite a concern when you have that much firepower.

The sites above have guessed that the United States, aided by France, Britain, and Canada will enact a partial naval blockade of Iran. The large number of warships are there to keep the Strait of Hormuz oil route chokepoint open if Iran attempts to shut down the Strait in retailiation. Another guess is that Israel may very well prepare an attack on Iran's nuclear installations, and these naval forces are acting as back-up.

As of now, military bloggers, web sites, and other informants are trying to keep tabs on these ships and their whereabouts.

Gary North

Lew Rockwell

Good article on New Yorker

Annals of National Security - Preparing the Battlefield
The Bush Administration steps up its secret moves against Iran.
by Seymour M. Hersh

No freedom of the press in Denver?

Police in Denver arrested an ABC News producer today as he and a camera crew were attempting to take pictures on a public sidewalk of Democratic Senators and VIP donors leaving a private meeting at the Brown's Palace Hotel.

ABC News Link

Kosovo versus South Ossetia/Abkhazia

On Tuesday, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev signed an order recognizing the independence of two Georgian breakaway provinces, South Ossetia and Abkhazia, a day after it was overwhelmingly approved by both houses of Russia's parliament.

He called on other countries to follow Russia's lead. He blamed Georgia's president, Mikheil Saakashvili, for forcing his hand by launching a military assault on South Ossetia rebels, triggering a major invasion by Russia's military.

US President Bush:
"Georgia's territorial integrity and borders must command the same respect as every other nation's, including Russia's."

US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice:
Called the decision "regrettable."

Finnish Foreign Minister Alexander Stubb, OSCE Chair:
"The recognition of independence for South Ossetia and Abkhazia violates fundamental OSCE principles."

German Chancellor Angela Merkel:
"This contradicts the basic principles of territorial integrity and is therefore absolutely unacceptable."

Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt:
"Russia’s decision to recognize the rebel Georgian provinces of South Ossetia and Abkhazia as independent states was a "deliberate violation of international law. Medvedev now dramatically escalated the crisis between Russia and the rest of the world. The decision is also a deliberate violation of international law and basic principles for stability in Europe."

South Ossetia and Abkhazia broke away from Georgia during civil wars in the 1990s. So both provinces declared themselves independent nearly two decades ago. It wasn't till now that Georgia decided to try to retake South Ossetia. Of course when things started going badly there, rebels in Abkhazia took action and started taking over towns near their region.

Out of all of this, how does this compare with Kosovo?

Kosovo's parliament proclaimed independence in defiance of Serbia and Russia. Serbia called the declaration illegal and its ally Russia denounced it, saying it threatened to touch off a new conflict in the Balkans.

Kosovo had formally remained a part of Serbia even though it has been administered by the U.N. and NATO since 1999, when NATO airstrikes ended former Yugoslav leader Slobodan Milosevic's crackdown on ethnic Albanian separatists.

Ninety percent of Kosovo's 2 million people are ethnic Albanian — most of them secular Muslims — and they see no reason to stay joined to the rest of Christian Orthodox Serbia.

Forty-six countries went ahead and recognized the Republic of Kosovo. The United States announced its recongition of Kosovo on February 18, 2008. The US called Kosovo a "special-case." It said that independence from Serbia for the majority Albanian province was the only "viable option" to keep the region stable.

As for UN membership, both China and Russian Federation have stated that they will oppose Kosovo's application. They also stated that Kosovo's actions do violate international law.

They refer to UN Security Council Resolution 1244, adopted in 1999, which reaffirmed “the commitment of all Member States to the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.” The plan was to give Kosovo “substantial autonomy and meaningful self-administration.” Recognizing Kosovo’s independence prior to new authorization by the Security Council would clearly violate international law.

Naturally, a new UN Security Council resolution for Kosovo independence will not pass because of Chinese and Russian opposition. So the United States, some EU countries, and others have chosen to bypass the UNSC on this issue.

******************************

The US and the West accused Russia of violating the territorial integrity of Georgia.

The Russian Federation accused the US and West for violating the territorial integrity of Serbia and the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.

Who is truly right? Kosovo does not want to be a part of Serbia. But South Ossetia and Abkhazia do not want to be a part of Georgia.

To be honest, it is really all Mikheil Saakashvili's fault. He chose the military option; to re-take South Ossetia by force. Now the chances of both South Ossetia and Abkhazia returning to full Georgian control is pretty much impossible.

Hacker steal Best Western information

Best Western has confirmed an investigation is underway into how the chain's computer defenses were breached on Thursday night.

An Indian hacker allegedly helped a Russian mafia gang steal identities of an estimated eight million people that could lead to a loss of around three billion pounds, the most audacious cyber-crime in history.

Details of how to access the information - which included home addresses, place of employment and credit card details - were sold through an underground network operated by the Russian mafia.

The attack scooped up the personal details of guests who stayed at Best Western hotels during the past year, potentially eight million people.

You may be affected if you stayed at one of Best Western's 1,312 European hotels since 2007.

Link

Still have that .edu mailing address, buy Office!

From Consumerist.com:

Microsoft re-introduced its "Ultimate Steal" program, offering students (but in reality, anyone with a .edu address) its Office Ultimate 2007 package for $59.95, which goes for $680 on retail shelves.

For alumni, a good reason to still keep that .edu mailing address.

However

Under Terms and Conditions:

"Individual must be a student at a U.S. educational institution and must be actively enrolled in at least 0.5 course credit and be able to provide proof of enrollment upon request. Microsoft or an appointed vendor may contact you to verify that you are a current student. If documentation is not provided indicating that you are a current student, you will be liable to reimburse Microsoft for the difference between what you paid and the estimated retail price of the software."

A risk to take? Apparently, Microsoft have done similar offerings in the past. Is it enforceable? Would they contact every .edu address? It's $679.95 / $539.95 for standard retail / upgrade, which is seriously overpriced. Quite a bargain for a student, but for regular customers, how can they justify such a high price?

Also, what happens if you did buy the software and want to get a refund? Their "Ultimate Steal" policy states no refunds will be given.

Link

Georgia Fiasco

Just imagine if the United States went to war with the Russian Federation over the country of Georgia.

It would be quite ridiculous.

I find it amusing to see the huge amount of political spin by the Bush administration to cast this as a conflict where we are fighting for the rights of the "poor" Georgian people against Russian imperialism.

Did anyone know that Georgian President Saakashvili was elected on a "National Movement" ticket that included a goal of retaking the autonomous provinces (South Ossetia and Abhkazia)?

Some Democratic insiders miffed at Obama for not even vetting Clinton for VP

I guess some Democratic insiders and supporters of Hillary Clinton feel that she was stiffed by not being considered for Obama's shortlist for Vice-President.

One official said Clinton never met with Obama's VP team of Eric Holder and Caroline Kennedy. They weren't even asked about their 2008 financial information.

So what? I think if Clinton was picked as Obama's running mate, their chances of winning the election will decrease. Clinton is a much more polarizing figure, and it will get more opponents to come out and vote against her. I rather think Clinton has more baggage and skeletons in her closet.

Link

He Kexin's age controversy

Is she really 16-years old or 14-years old?

The International Olympic Committee has ordered the International Gymnastics Federation to start an investigation into mounting allegations that Chinese authorities covered up the true age of their gold-medal winning gymnastics star because she was too young to compete.

An IOC official told The Times that because of "discrepancies" that have come to light about the age of He Kexin, the host nation’s darling who won gold in both team and individual events, an official inquiry has been launched that could result in the gymnast being stripped of her medals.

The investigation was triggered as a US computer expert claimed today to have uncovered Chinese government documents that he says prove she is only 14 - making her ineligible to compete in the Olympics - rather than 16, as officials in Beijing insist is her age.

He_Kexin.jpg

He Kexin (middle), Yang Yilin (right): From this photo, I would believe that Yilin looks 16, but not Kexin.

He_Kexin2.jpg

Link to the cached document showing He Kexin to be born on January 1 1994

* * * * * * * * * * * *

Honestly, it is hard to tell. It was funny enough when we were seniors in college and remarking that freshman students in every subsequent class seem to be getting younger.

I really believe that if you show a picture of He Kexin to a person who never saw her, telling that person that He looks 16-years old may draw a skeptical look.

As such, we have a Chinese government-issued passport attesting that He is 16 years old, born on January 1 1992. A US computer expert has allegedly found Chinese government documents issued by the General Administration of Sport of China stating that He's birthdate is January 1 1994.

Of course, a passport is one type of identification. A birth certificate is another. School information, medical information too. But if everything else is on electronic media, one can argue that such information can be changed. It would seem that paper copies are still needed to ensure the proper type of authentication is in place.

But I figured that for Chinese olympic athletes, they are pretty much attending camp and training centres maintained by the government so such information would be carefully controlled.

Has her competitive history be thoroughly checked? Has every newspaper article about He Kexin been researched? All the way back to 2007? 2006?

How would this controversy end? Neither side will be happy regardless of the result.

It's too bad there is no easier way of finding out a person's age. No way for doctors to check He's blood and find out her true age?

* * * * * * * * * *

Update 8/22:

Obviously, China coach Lu Shanzan stated that He's parents are "indignant" over persistent questions about their daughter's age.

"It's not just me. The parents of our athletes are all very indignant," Lu said. "They have faced groundless suspicion. Why aren't they believed? Why are their children suspected? Their parents are very angry."

In an interview with The Associated Press, Lu said Asian gymnasts are naturally smaller than their American and European rivals.

He said the governing body of gymnastics was given additional documents Thursday night to try to dispel lingering questions. Those documents included He's current and former passport, ID card and family residence permit. Lu said the documents all say she was born in 1992, which would have made her eligible to compete. Gymnasts must turn 16 during the Olympic year to be eligible.

So finally, we get more documentation. I really believe that all of this should have been given to the Gymnastic Federation and IOC to put the allegations to rest. Well, you could not blame us for not trusting the government. With the way the Chinese government controls access to information, how can we truly believe what they say is true?

China's own Yang Yun, a double bronze medalist in Sydney, said during an interview aired on state broadcaster China Central Television that she was 14 during the 2000 Games. Is that false? Or perhaps Yun was not fully trained on what to talk about during the interview?

If He's age is 16, then she would not be able to qualify for local and regional sports competitions where parents are known to "brush" their children's ages in order for them to be eligible to compete. We do not know exactly how their entire sports bureaucracy is run.

A Chinese blogger has a very different take, translated here (but has been taken down). He argues that in fact the birth dates in question in those documents from the GASC website may be incorrect, but that they intentionally made the gymnasts look younger so they could participate in certain domestic competitions.

So what if He was really 16, but in her domestic competitions, her age was 14. Yep, it would refute allegations about her Olympics qualification, but it will show that Chinese parents are known to change birthdays of children, to older or younger, in order to compete in local competitions.

Link to Stryde Hax: Olympic Hacking

Update 8/25:

As reported by the New York Times, Cui Dalin, the vice minister of the General Administration of Sport of China, said He Kexin, the uneven bars Olympic champion, had moved from one team to another last year, and a wrong birth date was written on the registration forms for the new team.

Before these Games, the international gymnastics federation, known as F.I.G., and the International Olympic Committee checked the passports of the Chinese gymnasts and judged them to be accurate. But the I.O.C. last week asked the F.I.G. to investigate the gymnasts’ ages further.

Chinese gymnastics officials have since given F.I.G. passports, national identity cards and family residence permits of five of the six members of the Chinese team. The only one exempt from the probe is Cheng Fei, 20, China’s most decorated gymnast.

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I really doubt the new information would satisfy the skeptics. We may never know the true age of Kexin He. Hackers may have the cached data from Google and Baidu, but there is no other concrete data to completely refute the Chinese government position. I am talking about official government documents (in paper!).

But honestly, should there still be an age requirement for gymnastics? Yes, it was put in there to prevent abuse, but how can it be truly enforced? Also, the age rule is not standard for every Olympic sport.

United: No snacks for you!

Another airline has joined the no-snacks bandwagon. United Airlines announced that effective September 2, it will no longer hand out complimentary pretzels and cookies to economy class fliers across North America.

It also plans to drop complimentary meals in domestic business class, effective October 1, except for premium transcontinental flights from San Francisco and Los Angeles to New York.

"In the wake of high fuel prices and a challenging economic environment, we must continue to examine every aspect of our business and find new ways to improve our day-to-day operations through efficiencies that still meet our customers' expectations," reads the memo, titled "Catering Changes Provide Value and Options."

Also on the chopping block: Doing away with meals and going to buy-on-board in international economy class on flights from Washington-Dulles to Europe.

Also in the memo: There will be fewer flight attendants in the domestic business class cabin because of doing away with the complimentary lunch, and the pre-arrival snack given out on the premium transcontinental flight will be history, also Oct. 1.

Link

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While losing snacks and beverage service in Coach on 1-3 hour flights may not be a huge bother, it is a problem for longer flights (i.e. traveling from east coast to west coast and vice-versa. How can you survive without drink or food for five to six hours on a New York-Los Angeles flight?

Plus eliminating food on flights to Europe (and possibly Asia) is an absolute no-no.

But David Stempler tells us to accept reality.

"International flights have historically been sacrosanct from these kinds of charges," David Stempler, president of the Air Travelers Association passenger advocacy group, said in an interview. "This is the new era of a fee for every service. We should get used to it."

But that would be American airlines flying international flights. We do have the choice to fly other international airlines that provide a much better quality service. For flying between Newark and London Heathrow, I would fly Virgin Atlantic. Their food service is good, and their IFE (inflight entertainment) is outstanding. You get about 300 hours of video on-demand on a 10-inch screen at your seat. If I had to fly an American airline, it would be Continental. At least they still offer food and beverage service. Their IFE still needs improvement, but it looks like they will upgrade their IFE to video on-demand soon. Their entire fleet of 777 aircraft will get the video on-demand system by the end of 2008.

Update 8/23:

United, in substitution, will offer a snack package worth up to $9. Any customer willing to fork over nine dollars will get a box which will include "fresh sandwiches, salads, snack boxes, or snacks, depending on the length of flight." $6 for "shelf stable items," $9 for fresh items. The price increase will go into effect in October.

So $9 bucks: I can substitute for an extra value meal at McDonald's, Burger King, or maybe one of those deluxe meals at a Friday-like establishment. Maybe I have enough change left over for dessert.

We are not all Georgians

Republican candidate Senator John McCain must have decided to take a page from President John F. Kennedy's phrase, "Ich bin ein Berliner" ("I am a Berliner"). At a Straight Talk Express rally at the Toyota Arena in York, PA, McCain touted his foreign policy credentials and his phone conversation with Georgian President Mikhail "Misha" Saakashvili.

The senator reassured the Georgian president that "the thoughts and the prayers and support of the American people are with that brave little nation as they struggle for their freedom and independence."

"And he wanted me to say thank you to you, to give you his heartfelt thanks for the support of the American people for this tiny little democracy far away from the United States of America," McCain said of his conversation with Saakashvili. "And I told him that I know I speak for every American when I say to him, 'Today we are all Georgians.'"

"We are all Georgians." What a great quote for the MSM to extol and the neo-cons to take praise in, and leaving a bad taste in my mouth.

However, not every American should believe that statement. In actuality, we should throw those words back to the senator.

First of all, Georgia invaded South Ossetia on August 8, as the Olympic Games got under way in Beijing. This fact has not been mentioned often by the mainstream media though they love to display "Russia Invades Georgia," "Russia Attacks Georgia," and other variations. We may never know the real truth on why President Saakashvili chose to order his military forces to invade the breakaway province on that particular day. Either he got "approval" by the U.S. or he felt that his military forces, trained by American advisers, are strong enough to take South Ossetia within a short period of time. Such fast action could have discourage Russia from using military action. Perhaps Georgia felt confident since they were promised by NATO that they will eventually join their security alliance.

From the Telegraph UK article - Caucasus in crisis: Georgia invades rebel region (08-Aug-08):

"Despite our call for peace and a unilateral ceasefire, separatists continued the shelling of Georgian villages," Mamuka Kurashvili, a senior Georgian commander, said. "We are forced to restore constitutional order in the whole region." A rapid deterioration in the separatist crisis began over the weekend when at least six people were killed in a shoot-out after an improvised explosive device detonated as a Georgian military convoy drove past.

The risk involved was quite high. One trigger for Russia retaliation was the station of Russian peacekeeping troops in the pro-Russian enclave. Eventually, some of them were killed, and with more than 100,000 people uprooted, and 30,000 civilians fleeing across the border to Russia, the bear took action.

Russian troops, armored vehicles, tanks, aircraft, and naval ships were quickly mobilized. The Georgian air force was destroyed on the ground, same with its navy. Georgian troops were pretty much forced out of South Ossetia and back into their own territory. This lightning attack surprised military analysts in the U.S. and NATO. I am sure that Russia has now reminded the West that it should no longer be treated as a second-rate power, especially in their own backyard and sphere of influence. The belief that Russia would always play second-fiddle to the US is no longer true.

The West condemned Russia's actions, criticizing the disproportioned military response. (See Russia and Georgia on map) (Another map of region)

The French, holding the European Union presidency, brokered a ceasefire agreement. By this time, Russia had pretty much kicked Georgia's arse. Russia said its military assault was ending because its mission has been accomplished, reports CBS News correspondent Richard Roth. But Russian President Dmitry Medvedev made clear the Kremlin's army isn't pulling out, accusing the Georgian leader of starting the war, even calling him a lunatic. Of course, President Saakashvili has accused Russia that they are still advancing within Georgia and violating the terms of the ceasefire. Russia argues that it is trying to maintain security and securing abandoned ammo dumps and military bases.

Georgia - South Ossetia: Conflict Chronology

Meanwhile, the U.S. continues to condemn Russia's actions and praise Georgia's defiance against military aggression. Bush and other administration officials praised Georgia's commitment in sending troops to Afghanistan and Iraq. Of course, Georgia had to pull all 2,000 troops from Iraq to help reinforce their forces back home. The departure of the third largest contributor to coalition forces essentially leaves a series of checkpoints along smuggling routes near the Iranian border empty. Checkpoints surrounding the city of Kut, 100 miles southeast of Baghdad, were also vacant. According to some Iraqis, the departure of the Georgian contingent was actually a good thing. They say the Georgians were rude, disrespectful, and ineffective. Most spoke very little English or Arabic. "They did not try to give us services. Instead, they were a source of annoyance by delaying us at their checkpoints and mocking the simple locals," said Salim Ali, a 45-year-old farmer.

So second, was the contribution of 2,000 Georgian troops to Iraq a "quid pro quo" for US support against Russian influence? Of course!

Third, why is the U.S. helping such a small, poor "semi-democratic" country in Central Asia? OIL! (See picture of the pipeline going through Georgia) The Caspian Sea contains one of the world's largest groups of oil and gas fields. During Soviet times, all transportation routes from the Caspian region were built through Russia. The Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan (BTC) pipeline bypasses Russia by going through Azerbaijan, Georgia, and Turkey. One of the three construction companies that helped built the pipeline was US Petrofac International. At the inauguration ceremony, US Secretary of Energy Samuel Bodman was there.

If we are indeed "Georgians," then we should be practicing their democratic ideals. Shutting down opposition tv stations is one example (see below):

The government also blocked most access to Russian news broadcasters and web sites. Most Georgian media, private and state-owned, are under the sway of President Saakashvili. Channels can be shut down at the whim of the Communication Commission.

Western-style democracy? NOT!

Also, take the case revolving Badri Patarkatsishvili, a tycoon and opposition leader against Saakashvili. He was found dead at his home outside London in February. British police call the death "suspicious."

* * * * * * * *

Clearly, I do not consider myself to be Georgian. Neither should you.

Oh yes, gotta love this other quote:

McCain: "in the 21st century nations don't invade other nations." (link)

Related Links

Editorial: It's all about the oil, in this game (Newsday)

Vladimir Putin's mastery checkmates the West (Times Online UK)

(more to come)

Homeland Security at JFK: Just another day

At JFK Airport, Denying Basic Rights Is Just Another Day at the Office

By Emily Feder, AlterNet. Posted August 18, 2008.

I was recently stopped by Homeland Security as I was returning from a trip to Syria. What I saw in the hours that followed shocked and disturbed me.

Ron Paul on Georgia in 2002

An alternative to Ticketmaster

Just in case if you are sick of excessive fees and Ticketmaster's effective monopoly, try out Brown Paper Tickets.

JetBlue has grandmother arrested for filming passenger altercation

JetBlue had Marilyn Parver arrested and walked off the plane in handcuffs for refusing to delete a video recording she made of an altercation between passengers.

JetBlue accused her of interfering with a flight crew (federal crime) and threatened to blacklist her by adding her name to the federal "no-fly list."

Link 1 (Elliott.com)
Link 2 (Kingman Daily Miner)

Here's one tenant to avoid having in your apartment

Dr. John Getzow, serial evictor

SF Weekly - How renters work the system to live for free in one of America's most expensive cities

50 Years - Phi Kappa Theta

Is there freedom of the press in China? Ask ITN's John Ray

Chinese police roughed up a British reporter today for filming a small Free Tibet protest near the national stadium in Beijing.

Eight Free Tibet campaigners have been arrested during a protest at which a British journalist was also held. ITV News reporter John Ray was arrested and released soon after the incident at the Chinese Ethnic Culture Park, near the National Stadium.

He was taken away by police as members of the campaign group handcuffed themselves to each other and bicycles.

Mr Ray, who has been based in Beijing since 2006, is ITV News' first China correspondent. ITN, which makes ITV News, said it would be making the "strongest possible" protest. A spokesman said: "John Ray is a fully accredited China correspondent who was doing his legitimate job as a journalist.

A spokesman said: "The IOC has learned through media reports that a British journalist was allegedly assaulted today while covering a demonstration near an Olympic venue in Beijing.

"We intend to protest in the strongest possible terms to the Chinese authorities and seek assurances that the treatment meted out to Mr Ray will not be repeated."

Link

Link - IOC condemns police manhandling of British journalist

Hannity and Colmes duke it out over Edwards/McCain Infidelity

Why is there a double-standard? Why do either side of the political spectrum try to excuse their candidate after he/she had committed a wrongful act?

Yes, Bill Clinton is to be ashamed for his affair with Lewinsky.

Yes, John Edwards is to be ashamed for his affair with Rielle Hunter.

So if McCain committed an act of infidelity, why is that being ignored? If Giuliani did the same thing, why is that being ignored?

How can Hannity excuse McCain's act because of his POW ordeal and that McCain "wasn't the same person when he got back, for a short period of time?"

Hannity told Powers, “You can’t possibly understand, nor can any of us, what it would be like to be in a POW camp for five and a half years, never knowing if you’re gonna get out, getting your bones broken every day and tortured and then think you’re gonna be the same person.”

Powers answered, “Sean, how can you make a case like that? ...He was dating Cindy McCain while he was married to somebody else. He had the capacity to date her but he can’t be with his wife? That if you’re a POW, you can cheat on your wife?”

Hannity said, “You know what? He wasn’t the same person when he got back, for a short period of time. And why can’t you understand and put that in context?”

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

I just cannot believe that reasoning. So if I was a prisoner of war for a number of years, does that mean I can get away with anything after coming back? Does that mean I can commit an act of murder, infidelity, embezzlement, and stealing, and use the POW argument to make up for it?

Folks are not questioning McCain's patriotism, but it seems that if we bring up McCain's infidelity, then his defenders are saying we are questioning it? How can they be linked?

Do they think we are that naive and stupid?

Link

US Olympics Coverage - Opening Ceremony NOT LIVE for USA

beijing_olympics.gifThe opening ceremony for the Summer Olympics 2008 in Beijing is scheduled to start at 08:08:08 PM (Chinese Standard Time).

In the Northeast USA, we are twelve hours behind. So if it is 7:30AM in New York City, it is 7:30PM in Beijing.

In the US, our "live" coverage does not start until 7:30PM this evening with the media broadcast of the Olympics opening ceremony. Of course, we would be about 12 hours late for that.

I checked all listings for NBC, NBCHD and they have the "Opening Ceremony" starting tonight 7:30PM EST. I guess I understand the media wants to maximize television viewership, but I really believe that you got millions of people in the States expecting to watch the opening ceremony at 8AM in the morning!

If you go to the BBC Sports Web Site, they started coverage at 745 BST through 1245 BST, so the UK folks will be watching the opening ceremony LIVE!

This really sucks. On Friday morning's "Today Show," Matt Lauer never mentions that the actual ceremony is starting this morning, but he just says that folks in the US can see the ceremony at 7:30pm ET/6:30pm CT. Yes, it's "PM" that you read. Sad...sad.

Here's BBC Live Action Blog (as of 1240 BST, 740 EST), the Bird's Nest stadium is almost at its 90,000 capacity.

New York Times live-blogging

Washington Post

Oh yes, Canada TV (CBC) is broadcasting it LIVE - Link

(oh crap, US users are blocked! :-( )

English CCTV is also broadcasting LIVE from their web site

(but IOC is restricting live video to the chinese mainland, sucks!!!)

You can try this one too - http://tvkitamasanmbc.blogspot.com/

Or this - http://www.justin.tv/koncerto

HotForWords explain difference between soccer and football

Letterman's Top Ten Signs Obama is Overconfident

Interestingly enough, it appears that this Top Ten episode is missing from CBS' July archives. Conservative critics point out Obama bias or maybe someone forgot to upload the clip. (link)

The Top Ten did not make it to air because Letterman ran out of time. Of course, folks are spinning this to whatever.

There should be no problem for Top Ten to make fun of our presidential candidates. We have seen it done to both Democratic and Republican contenders. If anyone felt the Obama episode was offensive, take a deep breath, then smack yourself for taking this too seriously.

Paris Hilton responds to McCain ad

This is so sweet!

See more funny videos at Funny or Die

Oh yea, here's McCain with his ad that started it all:

http://www.cnn.com/2008/POLITICS/07/30/mccain.ad/index.html#cnnSTCVideo

* * * * *

McCain campaign spokesperson Tucker Bounds used word of the video to take a stinging swipe at Obama. "Sounds like Paris is taking the 'All of the Above' energy approach that John McCain has advocated -- both alternatives and drilling. Perhaps the reality is that Paris has a more substantive energy plan than Barack Obama," Bounds said in a statement.

Thought Police

Ralph Peters (NY Post) laments on the hypocrisy of the left when it comes to free speech

Good point on this:

"Free speech is great, as long as it's their free speech (or extreme pornography). But dissenting views must be censored. The more effective the opponent, the more important it is to shut him down."

* * * * *

Of course, either side can reason that the other is at fault. All in the name of "free speech" obviously.

House Dems turn out the lights but GOP keeps talking

I rather like this. Why should our nation's representatives adjourn for one month when there is so many issues that need to be addressed?

Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) and other GOP leaders opposed the motion to adjourn the House, arguing that Pelosi's refusal to schedule a vote allowing offshore drilling is hurting the American economy. They have refused to leave the floor after the adjournment motion passed at 11:23 a.m. and are busy bashing Pelosi and her fellow Democrats for leaving town for the August recess.

Link

Link

So right now, the Republicans are talking on the House floor alone, plus the visitor's gallery, the cameras and microphones are off, but they are still there.

Hats off to them for not quitting.

Twitter - johnculberson