Entries in the Category "Blogging"

We will always remember June 4, 1989

tank_man.jpgThe events that occurred at Beijing's Tiananmen Square on June 3-4, 1989 will always be remembered by most of the world and the citizens in China who are able to find out the truth despite the web and newspaper censors, and government propaganda. The "tank man," the lone, unknown man who stopped a column of army tanks shall never be forgotten. It is pretty much one of the most recognizable images and is something that I can remember back when I was a 12-year old when I saw the events unfold on CNN.

On the 20th anniversary of the brutal suppression of protestors and citizens in and around Tiananmen Square, the Communist Government of China continues to recognize this event by blocking Twitter, Flickr, MySpace, Facebook, YouTube (already blocked well before), and many other social media and blog sites; bar foreign reporters and Chinese activists from the square; and confined dissidents to their homes or forced them to leave the capital city.

The Chinese government has never allowed an independent investigation into the military's crushing of the 1989 protests. It will be many years before a more moderate and reformed leadership will allow this to happen.

On June 2nd, the U.S. House of Representatives passed H. Res. 489, a resolution recognizing the 20th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre, expressing sympathy to the families of those killed, tortured, and imprisoned in connection with the protests, and calling for the Chinese government to conduct a fair investigation and to release those imprisoned for participating in the 1989 demonstrations. Of course, this is a non-binding resolution, but expresses the sense of the Congress.

In Washington, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said in a statement Wednesday that China, as an emerging global power, "should examine openly the darker events of its past and provide a public accounting of those killed, detained or missing, both to learn and to heal."

In a statement marking the anniversary, Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou urged China to lift the taboo on discussing the crackdown.

"This painful chapter in history must be faced. Pretending it never happened is not an option," Ma said in a statement issued Thursday.

On June 4th in China, the only place that will publicly acknowledge the event will be in Victoria Park, Hong Kong, where organizers expect a record turnout. There will be rememberance events held around Washington D.C. In London, there will be a vigil held outside of the Chinese Embassy.

Here's a CNN video - first clip shows reporter being harassed by plainclothes policemen using umbrellas to block their camera shot. second clip is web pages being blocked in various Chinese Internet cafes, including a shot of CNN being blacked out when there is mention of Tiananmen Square.

New York Times reported swarms of police agents and plainclothes men covering Tiananmen Square.

Some Internet users tried to evade government censors by referring to June 4 as May 35 on electronic bulletin boards. Others wore white shirts, the Chinese traditional color of mourning, as a silent form of protest.

Related Articles
Associated Press - China bars reporters from Tiananmen; blocks blogs
CNN - Tiananmen Square a watershed story
Mail Online - Twenty Years after Tiananmen Square, blood is still on the hands of China's leaders
Family Security Matters - Chinese People are Human Beings Too
National Post - Tiananmen anniversary: China's democracy deferred
New York Times - Behind the Scenes: Tank Man of Tiananmen
PBS Frontline - The Tank Man
Forbes - China's Iron Grip on History
Wikipedia - Tiananmen Square protests of 1989
Time - Guarding History
China Digital Times - China Hard-Liners Send Troops to Beijing; Zhao Ziyang May be Out (Historical)
BBC News - Timeline: The Tiananmen protests
Guardian UK - Chinese websites mark Tiananmen Square anniversary with veiled protest
Washington Times - U.S. lashes Beijing on Tiananmen anniversary

National Guard troops being trained for civil unrest

A good friend of mine mentioned that National Guard troops are being trained to handle civil unrest due to depressing economic conditions.

Is it also possible that the Posse Comitatus Act, the 1878 federal law passed after Reconstruction to prevent federal troops from conducting domestic law enforcement, is going to be repealed or modified? Not really sure if there is work being done on this, but in light of National Guard troops being trained, how soon before federal and military troops are being used?

This nonsense $700B bailout must lead voters to throw out the duopoly of the Dems and Repubs

Enough is enough. Why do we continue to elect the same Congress with the same agenda of trying to "protect" the average American voter? Why do we go to the polls and elect a candidate that pretty much acts the same regardless of the party label attached to that person?

Isn't it time to throw out the establishment candidates?

Isn't it time to overthrow this two-party chokehold on our future?

If this were a true democracy, we would shun the MSM and the party trolls and vote for a candidate that truly represent our constituents.

Do not vote Democrat on November 4!

Do not vote Republican on November 4!

It's time to vote third party!

racism in the elevator

i like this one

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)

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.

Independence Day or Fourth of July?

Is there a problem for the media to note that July 4th is not just the Fourth of July where we celebrate fireworks and hold barbeques for families and friends, but also the day where we celebrate our independence as a nation?

Airplane Pilot Shares His Thoughts

From Reader's Digest.com:

Pilot Patrick Smith explains why the airline industry is on overload--and how you can make flying a little friendlier (link)

MacArthur gives a Ron Paul example

General Douglas MacArthur (1957):

Our government has kept us in a perpetual state of fear--kept us in a continuous stampede of patriotic fevor--with the cry of grave national emergency. Always there has been some terrible evil at home or some monstrous foreign power that was going to gobble us up if we did not blindly rally behind it.

Absolut Vodka - Controversial Ad?

absolut_world.jpg

This is probably the first time I have seen Absolut Vodka did more than shaping photos with the vodka bottle figure.

Another interesting thing note is that this ad appeared in Mexico and on Mexican magazines.

Hmmm.

Update 4/4:

Looks like someone did a photoshop change to the ad.

myabsolutworld.jpg

Anyone else wants to offer any new ones?

Repeal the REAL ID Act

Link

It passed with almost no debate in 2005, how about we just repeal it in order to preserve our liberty?

If the federal government wants to take over traditional state functions, then they should pay the $4 billion cost.

Five Years - the Iraq War

Today marks the fifth anniversary of the Iraq war.

We knew what was true. We overthrew a dictator. We knew that demolishing Saddam Hussein's military power and liberating Iraq would be quite easy. But everything else was proven wrong.

There were no weapons of mass destruction. As for the alleged link between Hussein and Osama bin Laden's al-Qa'ida, there is no link. The Pentagon acknowledged that fact after reviewing more than 600,000 captured Iraqi documents.

Is Iraq safer five years later?

The Iraqi Prime Minister, Nouri al-Maliki, still needs a massive convoy to travel from the Green Zone to the headquarters of the Dawa party, a half-mile away. First you get soldiers clearing the traffic from the streets. Then you get four black armoured cars, each with three machine-gunners on the roof, followed by sand-colored American Humvees, and more armoured cars. Finally, you would see six identical bullet-proof vehicles with black windows, one of which must have been carrying Mr. Maliki.

President Bush stated that crime and violence is decreasing. It is probably because journalists are being told not to mention the continuing violence. For one Independent UK reporter, he saw a television cameraman being beaten by police when he attempted to take pictures of a bombing near his hotel. As for the fall in the death rate, perhaps one fact that was overlooked is that ethnic cleansing between the Shia and Sunni has done its bloody work, and there is really no more mixed areas left in Baghdad. Besides, if you look at this capital city, it is now a collection of Sunni and Shia neighborhoods divided by high concrete walls.

There is now an 80,000 strong Sunni militia, paid for and allied to the US but hostile to the Iraqi government. That is the assistance Bush is talking about.

Remember all that talk about American military might. The invasion ended in less than a month because most of the Iraqi army would not fight. Even the elite Republican Guard units went home. Of course, you would find burnt-out Iraqi tanks littered around the streets of Baghdad, giving the impression of heavy fighting, but almost all had been abandoned by their crews before they were hit. Whoever was left was easily outmatched by America's military. Iraqi's former military was quite different back in 1991.

We are still pretty much stuck in a quagmire. The American and British, and other remaining allies that are left are the ones preventing the Iraqi Sunni and Shia from killing each other. Plus, how can you really solve the political problems where the Shia religious parties who are linked to Iran continued to win elections, just like that did in two elections back in 2005? It would seem the U.S. would support democracy only if Iraq acts as a buffer against Iran.

Let us also not forget history. It would seem Bush and his neocons are walking down the same steps the British Government did back in the early 20th century. They did not know that three after Britain captured Baghdad in 1917 it was fighting a ferocious tribal revolt along the valley of the Euphrates. We should know that the United States is not in the business of occupying other countries. We should also know that the Iraqi people are not Germans or Japanese in 1945.

Bush and probably McCain still want to keep our troops there until Iraq becomes a stable and secure country. The question is how long? Could it be that the Iraqi people are just tired of being occupied by a foreign power? Could it be that by being there, we are giving al-Qa'ida to use us as an excuse to keep up the insurgency?

We still got Afghanistan to worry about, and perhaps Pakistan, then of course Iran. Plus add in a resurging Russia.

Link
Link

Now they are blasting the airwaves with the lady

Does the MSM have anything else better to do?

After the three-day suspenseful wait for New York Gov. Spitzer to resign, every goddamn local and national media group are saturating the tv and internet with the "woman who rocked NY" as defined by The Drudge Report. The "Governor's hooker" by the New York Times.

Of course the NYT reveals the call girl behind the name "Kristen." Now, every media group is searching out her estranged family, friends, and taking excerpts and her singing songs from her MySpace page

Obviously, thousands of people have flocked to her web page, leaving sympathetic and hurtful comments.

What's next? A 60 Minutes special on the lady's life history. Next, there will be a made-for-tv movie of Spitzer's rise and fall. How long can they milk this stuff?

C'mon, let's go back to the white-on-black crime, black-on-black crime, gang fighting, national debt, Republican vs Democrat, and the cute cats.

Did she caused Spitzer's downfall? Of course not. She was just the girl that was hired for him.

Of course, I bet the MSM will start asking Bush, Obama, Clinton on their thoughts, and it's going to keep going and going. Argh!

Humph! For the "good of the party"

Sen. John McCain will be the Republican nominee for President of the United States, having garnered the required delegates needed from the various caucuses and primaries that were held over the last few months.

However, not everyone in the party are quite happy with the presumptive nominee. For example, exit polls in Texas and Ohio showed that evangelicals voted overwhelmingly for former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, while almost every other Republican demographic group chose McCain.

In fact when you compare McCain against Mitt Romney, the former Massachusetts Governor, Romney was deemed more conservative than the senator. Even Texas Congressman Ron Paul's record was more conservative too.

Yet, after the bickering and mud-slinging, the Republican nominee is finally selected and we are all expected to stand behind that person for the "good of the party." It seemed so easy for Romney, Huckabee, Giuliani, and Thompson to do this, but Ron Paul refused to follow the rest of the team.

How can [he], in good conscience, support a candidate that does not follow true conservative ideals?

Instead of the argument that we must support a candidate who represents the ideals of the Republican Party, leaders argue that the candidate who has the best electability must be supported. Thus, we must compromise in order to get a result that is favorable to us. It may seem alright for most folks but is McCain really the right choice?

We certainly have the right to keep on criticizing McCain's record no matter what. Where is his straight talk business? Where is his pledge of not raising taxes? How about him getting a rating of "D-minus" from the Gun Owners of America from 2000 to 2006? How can he handle a failed Iraq War and a huge national debt?

But these questions are not being answered. We are being told to shut up and just support him.

This happened to Emily L. Mullin, a student at Ohio University studying journalism and political science. She writes for the local newspaper as a campus reporter and is the vice-president and acting president of the OU College Republicans. She was actively involved with the Ron Paul presidential campaign.

She recently wrote a column in The Athens News giving her assessment on GOP presidential candidate and nominee, John McCain. Unfortunately, members of the club and local county Republican Party were not happy with her candid evaluation of the senator. They accused her of being "divisive" and "irresponsible." She was advised that she must support John McCain for the "sake of the club" and the "good of the party." She was even asked to resign from her club post because it compromised party and club unity. If she did not do so, she would be impeached.

While the controversy has mostly blown over, the actions taken by Ms. Mullin's peers has shown us the dangers of trying to uphold our principles against "the greater good."

But what can you do? Pick the lesser of two evils. But it is still evil.

I liked her summation of both political parties.

"The Democrats want to maximize central planning in domestic and economic issues while the Republicans want to limit personal freedom and perpetuate a modern form of imperialism. In effect, one party advocates socialism, the other, fascism. Neither party promotes a smaller government. Rather, both parties want more government control – just in different aspects."

It is unfortunate that the reception she received for trying to uphold her beliefs have led her to deciding not to run for re-election or seek a new position in the OU College Republicans club.

She is correct that change will probably come in a different way instead of our failed democratic system in order for free-thinking, free-willed individuals who are trying to preserve a free society.

It would seem that we are truly alone while we are in our pursuit of that word called "freedom."

U.S. v Turkey

Why does the United States act to discourage Turkey from carrying out raids against PKK terrorist strongholds in Iraq's autonomous Kurdish region?

If it was true that Kurdish PKK guerrillas are conducting terrorist attacks on Turkish soil, does Turkey have the right to take military action to defend itself?

Iraq’s Kurds, America’s only ally in that strife-torn nation, discreetly back the PKK, and are working for fully a independent Kurdish state. The Kurdish mini-state in northern Iraq is already de facto independent, with its own government, finances, army, and flag.

The feeble US-installed regime in Baghdad has almost no influence over the Kurds, even though its president, Jalal Talabani, is also one of the two senior Kurdish leaders.

The U.S. does consider the PKK group as a terrorist organization but will not act against them.

Turkey insists it is fighting "terrorism" and has every right to strike into Iraq to protect its national security – one of President George Bush’s justifications for invading Iraq.

Can anyone explain the difference? So protecting our national security interests have some sort of higher argument than Turkey's?

Insufficent Patriotism

CNN Link

Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama defended himself and his wife Sunday against suggestions that they are insufficiently patriotic.

Republicans and talk show hosts went nuts when Michelle Obama, wife of presidential contender Sen. Barack Obama was quoted recently as saying she felt really proud of the United States for the first time. Rush Limbaugh blasted her for slamming America. Even some liberal radio shows were surprised by her quote. Then there was a photo where Barack was just standing while Richardson, Clinton, and another person held their right hand over their heart during the "pledge of allegiance."

During a town hall meeting in Lorain, Ohio, about "an attempt by conservatives and Republicans to paint you as unpatriotic," a questioner cited the fact that Obama once failed to put his hand over his heart while singing the national anthem. The questioner also noted that the Illinois senator does not wear an American flag lapel pin, has met with former members of the radical anti-Vietnam War group, Weather Underground, and his wife's comments.

Obama said, "There's always some nonsense going on in general elections. Right? If it wasn't this, it would be something else. If you recall, first it was my name. Right? That was a problem. And then there was the Muslim e-mail thing and that hasn't worked out so well, and now it's the patriotism thing.

"The way I will respond to it is with the truth: that I owe everything I am to this country," he said. Obama said it was a speech about his love for this country that put him in the national spotlight. He shot down the idea that failing to put his hand over his heart during the national anthem makes him unpatriotic.

"If that were the case, that would disqualify about three-quarters of the people who have ever gone to a football game or baseball game."

* * * * *

Of course, Michelle Obama has clarified her comments saying she was proud of politics in America and how people are now participating and getting involved in the election process.

As for the photo of Obama not putting his hand over his heart. The national anthem was being played when the picture was taken, not during the reciting of the Pledge of Allegiance.

During baseball games, when the national anthem is being played, most folks are standing, some with their hands at their sides, others had their hand over their heart, and those with caps/hats took them off and placed them over their heart. I seen folks asking other people to take off their hats, but never telling them that their hand must be placed over their heart.

Does it also make me feel more patriotic if I had an American flag lapel pin on my suit? Or if I fly the American flag off my car? Or if I hang the flag in the window of my house?

At work, most trading desks have a flag taped to the cubicle wall. If one desk did not have a flag, does that mean that person is not patriotic enough?

McCain's wife happily boasted that she is proud of being an American. Oh really, thanks for confirming that to us. C'mon, Sen. McCain, you say it too. Oh wait, let's everyone say it, because if we don't, that means we are un-American.

Why can I say I love America, but hate President Bush. Or I hate the limits on our civil liberties, but I still like being an American.

Are we going to solve real problems facing this country or are we going to spend wasteless hours on who is more patriotic?

US military strategy

I know. It just seems so ridiculous.

bombthemtohell.gif

Lift the Cuban Embargo

Fidel Castro, Cuba's President is finally stepping down after 50 long years.

Yet the United States will continue its long 46-year trade embargo.

Has it gone long enough?

We trade with China.

We trade with Vietnam.

But we don't with Cuba.

On the matter of China getting Permanent Normal Tarde Relations (PNTR) back in 1997, Alan Larson, Assistant Secretary for Economic and Business Affairs, stated that isolating China economically would only "strengthen the hand of those within the Chinese leadership who oppose reform. We support China's full integration into, and active participation in, the international community (and) we regard dialogue and engagement as the best way to manage our differences." Or, as Secretary of State Madeleine Albright explained during testimony before the Senate Committee on Finance on PNTR in July 1998, "It would be irresponsible for us not to have a multifaceted relationship with China at this point."

However for Cuba, our official policy "is to promote a peaceful transition to a stable, democratic form of government (by) maintaining pressure on the Cuban government for change through the embargo and the Libertad Act...We oppose consideration of Cuba's return to the Organization of American States or inclusion in the Summit of the Americas' process until there is a democratic government."

It is time to face reality. It is time for those Cuban exiles in Florida to face the truth. This trade embargo has gone long enough. Castro has survived through 10 American presidents.

A past statement by Thomas Donohue, president and CEO of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce:
"It's time for the U.S. to wake up to reality - unilateral sanctions don't work," he stated in October. "Instead of punishing our enemies, unilateral sanctions isolate America from its allies, provide ammunition to dictators to prop up their regimes, and shut out U.S. companies and their workers from markets around the world...We must remember that when we trade with other nations, we not only export our goods and services, we also export American ideals of freedom, democracy and free enterprise."

Ron Paul calls for a lifting of the embargo but of course he won't be President. The eventual Republican nominee, John McCain, would continue the same hard-line policy and would increase spending on Cuba democracy assistance programs and Radio and TV Marti, which are Florida-based Spanish-language broadcast services aimed at Cuba. Of course, surveys consistently show that Radio and TV Martí have minuscule audiences, but their federal funding continues to increase.

The possible Democratic nominee, Barack Obama, wants to lift restrictions on family visits and remittances to Cuba. American citizens without relatives in Cuba would have to wait until a democratic opening occurred. However, it may indicate that Obama would like to lift the trade embargo sooner rather than later.

Castro is growing old. So too are his foes on the mainland. Perhaps it is time to shake off and try something new.

Salon.com

Impact Press

A Survelliance Society?

The FBI is gearing up to create a massive computer database of people's physical characteristics, all part of an effort the bureau says to better identify criminals and terrorists.

But it's an issue that raises major privacy concerns -- what one civil liberties expert says should concern all Americans.

The bureau is expected to announce in coming days the awarding of a $1 billion, 10-year contract to help create the database that will compile an array of biometric information -- from palm prints to eye scans.

Read more

What Religion's Blind Stranglehold on America is Doing to Our Democracy

We've got to find a way to take the conservative symbolic message of faith talk out of American politics.

AlterNet - What Religion's Blind Stranglehold on America Is Doing to Our Democracy

First paragraph...

It's a presidential campaign like no other. The candidates have been falling all over each other in their rush to declare the depth and sincerity of their religious faith. The pundits have been just as eager to raise questions that seem obvious and important: Should we let religious beliefs influence the making of law and public policy? If so, in what way and to what extent? Those questions, however, assume that candidates bring the subject of faith into the political arena largely to justify -- or turn up the heat under -- their policy positions. In fact, faith talk often has little to do with candidates' stands on the issues. There's something else going on here.

Kyle Hagner needs to do more research

Kyle Hagner of The Purdue Exponent writes up an unsavory opinion of Ron Paul in the 11/27 issue.

Should we go over the obvious differences?

First of all, Ron Paul is not an isolationist. You may think he is, but he is advocating a non-intervention policy. This means establishing friendly relations with other nations, free trade, and open travel, maximizing the exchanges of goods and services and ideas.

We want to stop meddling in the internal affairs of other nations. Of course we want to defend our country from outside attack, but does that mean putting troops and bases in almost every country in the world? This is a sign of an empire, not a democracy.

Eliminating the IRS would be quite a task to achieve, but losing 100,000 jobs because of it would be greatly offset by the amount of money we can save without hiring a tax analyst or the amount of bloody taxes to the federal government. I would have thought paying much less in taxes is a good thing for the American taxpayer.

As for saying that every racist, anti-Semite, neo-Nazi, and Holocaust denier are supporting Ron Paul seems far-fetched. Who knows if I can try to find a financial contributer to Mitt Romney, Giuliani, Obama, or Clinton, and they somehow have ties to some far-radical group. It is just so happens that the author on American Thinker went to great lengths to find certain individuals with radical and racist links that have donated to the Ron Paul campaign.

At one recent campaign stop, Ron Paul did say he did not believe that 9/11 was an inside job.

Saying that Ron Paul is hiding behind the internet is a cheapshot.

Some of Ron Paul's ideas are definitely not radical. He wants a more limited federal government, something that the 1990's Republicans were strongly in favor of, but were led astray when they took over Congress and became mad with power and money. He even wants certain federal departments and agencies to be eliminated because of bureaucratic red tape. There are times where we do not need to abide by federal standards when there are sufficient state standards that are in place.

Civil liberties must be protested. The Constitution must be protected. These are not radical ideas either.

I feel it is quite peculiar to see bloggers and opinionists use the radical racists and conspiracy theorists to denounce Ron Paul, instead of actually looking over his campaign ideas and goals and analyzing them in more detail.

Terror on the Tarmac

A harrowing tale of Jerry Wynn, of Jacksonville, Florida, when folks suspected that he was a terrorist on American Eagle Flight 4518 on September 21, 2007.

Read the story

For those that do support the War on Terror, would you like to see your individual citizen's rights trampled? What would you do if you were berated and harassed for hours, then let go without any explanation?

The moment you are labelled a possible suspect, it is like a nightmare that won't end.

Do we just take it with a grain of salt, and believe that it was all for the greater good?

Or does it show that your constitutional rights does not matter either way? Should this be of concern to anyone?

Jena 6 Rally on November 7th

On Wednesday, November 7th, four of the Six -- Theodore Shaw, Robert Bailey, Bryan Purvis, and Mychal Bell -- are expected in court for pre-trial hearings.

As usual, the Jena 6 movement and the ANSWER Coalition plan to stage rallies in front of local courthouses across the country with the demand to free the Jena Six, and drop all the charges. They hope to demonstrate in Los Angeles, Seattle, Washington, DC, New York City, Chicago, and other cities.

They still remain ignorant of the fact that these six individuals are indeed responsible for the severe assault of Justin Barker.

The mainstream media continues to ignore the real facts behind the Jena Six case and continued to advocate certain myths designed to show that racism is even worse than suggested in the town of Jena, LA.

Why can't they check the facts stated by the Christian Monitor where a local journalist living in Jena disputes these so-called "racist" arguments? Are they afraid of hearing the real truth? It's no surprise if they think that the local journalist is a liar.

Why do they continue to tell the rest of the country that race relations in Jena are horrible or are worse, but in reality, they are doing alright?

Isn't it possible that this Jena tragedy is a continuation of the Duke lacrosse and Katrina reporting debacles?

Sure, complain about the all-white jury. But the facts showed that black residents were indeed summoned for jury duty, but none of them wanted to serve. Perhaps they felt uncomfortable with sitting in judgment over another black person.

Complain about the whites-only tree where in fact, there was no such thing, but a joke asked during assembly.

Complain about the DA trying to threaten black students where in reality, he was trying to control some white students that were misbehaving. Lovely way for the media to take his words out of context.

It is pretty weird to see the media not even doing more research to seek out the real truth. Perhaps they are afraid of being labeled as traitors to the civil rights movement.

So read the article and the myths, and decide whether you should continue to believe the Jena 6, or you should do more research and find out what are the real facts and decide that the Jena 6 ought to be punished for they did.

Bill Cosby's Rant

Link

They’re standing on the corner and they can’t speak English.

City of Chicago considering elimination of "piggybacking" on parking meters

parkingmeter.jpgChicago Tribune reports that the city is considering eliminating "piggybacking" at the parking meter.

Getting the good fortune of parking your car and noticing that the previous occupant left some time remaining on the meter will be a thing of the past. City officials call that a lost opportunity to collect additional money.

Of course, the notion of physically plugging meters with coins will be a thing of the past. New York City has already set up a Muni-Park system where you can go to a parking machine along the street, select the amount of time needed, then you pay with either coins or a credit card. The machine will print out a parking slip, and you put it on your vehicle's dashboard.

For Chicago, their idea is the ParkMagic automated parking meter. First you find an available parking space. Then the driver needs to use his or her mobile phone to call a toll-free phone number. An automated voice prompts the user to enter the parking zone number posted on the meter and then designate the amount of time needed to park. A confirmation, in the form of a text message, is sent to the device, and the parking fee is deducted from the balance in the account.

Your pager-size device will start to flash green when parking has been paid for and red when time has expired. You can call the toll-free number to add more time. Then the device must be placed in the driver's side windshield so police and other parking-enforcement personnel can check to see whether the vehicle is legally parked.

It sounds a bit more complicated. It would be useful for those drivers that frequently drive to the city, but for the rest, utilizing the muni-system that NYC has is much more suitable.

Cleveland may also consider following suit. I keep getting jipped when I parked along the street behind KSL, and I am always low on quarters. Setting up a parking machine where it can accept cash and credit cards will be quite helpful for the coinless driver.


Hanging Nooses

Our hate crime experts and civil rights leaders argued that the nooses are a white racist backlash to the firestorm of black protests over the Jena 6 case involving black teens accused of battering a white student. Some have announced a fearful call suggesting that the nooses could signal a new rise of racist hatred in America.

But are we going way overboard with this? I could even suggest that some folks out there are putting up nooses just to get a negative reaction from blacks. Some can even conclude that the noose was an offensive racial dig, but not a sign of lust for racist hatred. Who knows if some folks are throwing a Halloween pirate party, and they put up a noose and a pirate, and they get accused of being racist. (Yep, it happened in Madison, NJ) I suppose they would ignore the historical fact that pirates are usually hanged if caught by the authorities. I would not even be surprised if the NAACP brought up concerns to the Disney executives about the use of the hanging noose in the Pirates of the Caribbean trilogy.

Could it even be a dumb prank orchestrated by blacks? From one perspective, it would be quite easy and by playing the race card, who would really believe a black person would do such a thing? You may believe it to be improbable, but it is not impossible to discount it.

In her book, the Color of Crime, University of Florida professor Katheryn Russell-Brown, found that blacks perpetrate one in six racial hoaxes. The reasons the blacks commit hoaxes aren't totally different than those of white hoaxers. Both are angry, resentful and play hard on stereotypes and fears--that whites are racist, and violent, and that blacks are menacing and violent. The hoaxes encase the worst of black and white fears about each other.

Are we forgetting about the events of the Duke University rape case? You got a female black college student screaming about being raped by white Duke Lacrosse players. It ignited angry protests. Everyone, including the media were hyping it up portraying the women as the victim and that the white Duke players were assumed to be guilty.

Eventually, the women's story unraveled into contradictions and lies. Then the racial backlash went back at the black leaders for accepting her story at face value. The prosecutor lost his job and was disbarred. Police and public officials felt they were played and may well be far more cautious about rape allegations made by blacks against whites.

The folks that believed that the three white lacrosse players were guilty refused to apologize. This includes the 88 faculty members who, without regard to the evidence, publicly adjudged as guilty the three accused Duke students, the entire Duke lacrosse team, and white America in general, and universty president Richard Brodhead, who did nothing to defend Duke's students even as their innocence became clear.

President Brodhead finally did apologize last week. He regretted the “failure [of his administration] to reach out to the lacrosse players and their families in this time of extraordinary peril.”

From the Powerline blog:

We can also take the behavior of one professor, Houston Baker (now teaching at Vanderbilt). The demagogic Baker excoriated the lacrosse team for their "silent whiteness" and their "white, male, athletic privilege." He called for the "immediate dismissals" by Duke of "the team itself and its players," to combat the "abhorrent sexual assault, verbal racial violence, and drunken white male privilege loosed amongst us." After the innocence of the accused players had become clear, Baker received an email from the mother of a member of the lacrosse team (who hadn't been accused) asking if he would reconsider his earlier statements. Baker responded, by typing "LIES" and indicating that his correspondent was the mother of a "farm animal." Eventually Baker, a post-modernist if nothing else, fell back to arguing that it didn't matter whether the rape allegations were true.

Al Sharpton and company quickly piled on the innocent students, playing the race card for all it wasn't worth. That's why it's almost comical to hear Sharpton railing against prosecutorial abuse in the Jena case. Sharpton wouldn't grant the presumption of innocence to innocent white students victimized by a rogue prosecutor, yet thinks its the scandal of the century that thuggish black students were overcharged in Jena.

Sharpton has not even apologize to the accused players after they were declared innocent.

Jesse Jackson even descended upon Durham to rally behind Crystal Gail Magnum — a lying pole dancer that was out to ruin three lives. The good “reverend” maintained that the issue was about “Black women; white men. A stripper; and a team blowout.

The Duke case was flung in the face of civil rights leaders as the danger of overplaying the race angle in Jena or anywhere else a black is victimized under muddled circumstances. City and school officials in Jena screamed that the infamous noose hanging incident at the high school was not racial since black students also stuck their heads through the noose.

Case in point, even folks living in Jena believe that the incident has been exaggerated beyond a reasonable degree.

The big hype in Jena is an incident before the beating where three nooses were hung from a tree after black students were seen standing under it. This resulted in the suspension of several students; it is worthy to note, however, that the principal recommended expulsion. Legal recourse could not be pursued because hanging a noose is not illegal, even if it is racist and dumb.

Thus, it provided an opportunity for black leaders to revitalize their following and again point to the undying hate called racism in America.

Reverend Jackson told the Columbia State newspaper, “Jena is a defining moment, just like Selma was a defining moment.” Jackson then criticized Democratic presidential hopeful Barack Obama for not being more vocal about the case saying that Obama was “acting like he’s white.”

While the Jena Six activists complain about excessive charges and double standards, we are faced with the facts that the six teens did knowingly beat up a fellow classmate severely. It is also true that one of the six teens, Mychal Bell, has a prior criminal record committing violent crimes in the past, including two charges of battery.

The activists know this as well, but they are using racism and their passionate emotion to show the Jena Six as victims, not attackers.

Will they stop following the likes of Jackson and Sharpton and stop using the privilege of being a "perpetual victim?"

* * * * *

More facts to consider...

Did you know that Mychal Bell's father was pretty much AWOL for a good part of his life, and only returned from Dallas after Bell faced attempted-murder charges?

Did you know that several black people were summoned to be on the jury for Bell's trial but all of them declined to respond?

Did you know that Bell's public defender was black?

Did you know that Bell's father and local ministers promised a judge that they would supervise Bell if he was released from prison at a bond hearing in August? But why did they not suggest this in the first place before the assault?

Did you know that the black U.S. attorney, Don Washington, investigated the "Jena Six" case and concluded that the attack on the white student had nothing to do with the noose-hanging incident three months before?

Jena Six: Regardless, they still did beat up a lone, individual classmate unconscious

While we demand for fair and equal justice, the facts are still the same.

Six teenagers beat a lone, individual classmate unconscious.

The NAACP, black celebrities and music stars, the rallies across the country, and activist groups all talk about unequal justice and racism. Because of these two things, the six men should go free.

Yes, every human being, regardless of race, creed, or color is entitled to a fair chance. Yet, there is personal accountability.

Yes, justice must be reformed. We must educate against racism and unjust bias, but to be fair, the six teenagers must still be charged with assault against a fellow classmate and must be punished.

It is still called fair in the end.

Drivers! Check your blind spot!

Twice in two days.

First time, a SUV/Truck almost hit my car. No signal lane change. He was coming from the right lane to the left fast lane.

The next day, in the morning, a light truck almost hit me. Same situation. No signal in changing lanes. After managing to dodge him, he then passed on the right lane and moved to the left lane further up, without signaling.

What else? If you are taking the ramp to the highway, accelerate!!! You don't stay at 30 mph all the way till the merging point. Sheesh!

The next car that does it gets my high beams for the rest of the way! =)

Burma: Thousands possibly killed or missing, but we do nothing

Remember when President Bush addressed the UN General Assembly over a week ago? Here's what he said on the situation in Burma.

Americans are outraged by the situation in Burma, where a military junta has imposed a 19-year reign of fear.

Basic freedoms of speech, assembly and worship are severely restricted. Ethnic minorities are persecuted. Forced child labor, human trafficking and rape are common.

The regime is holding more than a thousand political prisoners, including Aung Suu — Aung San Suu Kyi, whose party was elected overwhelmingly by the Burmese people in 1990.

The ruling junta remains unyielding, yet the people's desire for freedom is unmistakable.

This morning I'm announcing a series of steps to help bring peaceful change to Burma.

The United States will tighten economic sanctions on the leaders of the regime and their financial backers. We will impose an expanded visa ban on those responsible for the most egregious violations of human rights, as well as their family members. We will continue to support the efforts of humanitarian groups working to alleviate suffering in Burma and urge the United Nations and all nations to use their diplomatic and economic leverage to help the Burmese people reclaim their freedom.

Haven't we heard this before? Why yes, but not here in Burma. In fact, it sounded almost familiar. Didn't Bush condemn Saddam Hussein for his dictatorial rule in Iraq?

So what does he do for those military generals in Burma? We will tighten economic sanctions a bit more. We will ban travel by its leaders and their families. I guess they won't be visiting Disney World in Florida, but there is a Disneyland resort in Hong Kong, I am sure they won't mind letting them visit.

Various world leaders call for 'peaceful dialogue' but haven't they been asking for that for years? It is basically all just posturing in front of the media cameras, leading the people in their respective countries the assumption that something is being done. Nope, sorry, nothing is being done. Just boasting words.

What does the United Nations do? They send Ibrahim Gambari a special envoy to the region. He got to meet with the opposition including leader Aung San Suu Kyi, and eventually junta leader Than Shwe.

But it all boils down to China. It is Burma's northern neighbor and I am sure they want to make sure that the border between them remains stable and peaceful. Unfortunately, I really doubt China would tell the junta to move towards democracy.

How about India? They do share a 1,400-km long border with Burma. They have been competing with the Chinese on securing supplies of natural gas there as well as maintaining their influence. The politicians in New Delhi are more concerned about Burma being a safe haven for rebels from its own troubled north-east. Therefore, it has deepened both its military and intelligence co-operation. Last year, India sold Burma two BN-2 Islander maritime surveillance aircraft bought from the UK in the 1980's. This was done over the objections of the UK.

Now, India is preparing to offer Burma Indian-made helicopters, upgrades for Russian and Chinese-made fighter planes, and naval spy aircraft.

I guess India is not following the same 'democracy' script as everyone else.

Pranab Mukherjee, India’s minister of external affairs, has limited himself to expressing hope that “all sides will resolve their issues peacefully through dialogue”.

Again, just words.

Well, if you want to criticize India for not doing more, they do not really care. “We’re not bothered about criticism of our relations with Myanmar, given the west’s record in supporting military governments in our neighbourhood,” said one. “We’re not the only democracy that works with generals.” (FT.com) Of course, that's a slap to the United States for consorting with "President" / General Pervez Musharraf of Pakistan.

I guess a call from President Bush would not help.

How about the UN trying to kick the military regime out of their UN seat and replacing it with the country's elected goverment-in-exile? Nope. China and India would veto that move.

Will ASEAN kick out Burma? Nope.

Are we really cracking down on foreign companies doing business in Burma? US-based Chevron is there, so is Malaysian Petronas, South Korea's Daewoo International Corp, or the French Total. Are they being penalized?

French President Nicholas Sarkozy called on French companies to freeze all their operations in Burma. That's good, but on the side, Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner said that French oil giant Total, the largest European company operating in Burma, will not pull out. They do not want to give up their business to the Chinese.

Prime Minister Gordon Brown has also expressed "outrage." But how would he react if he found that UK companies have invested more than $1.2 billion pounds in Burma between 1988 and 2004.

The Japanese government cried foul on the killing of Kenji Nagai, a Japanese journalist who was gunned down by Burmese soldiers while he was photographing a fleeing crowd of protestors. Yet, it won't cut off aid to the regime, because it was "too early" for such action.

Let's see the pictures:

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What about Thailand, Singapore, and Malaysia? They issued a statement expressing "revulsion" at the use of deadly force against innocent civilians. However, they haven't really complained about what's been going on over the last several years.

So yes, your pleas for action by your government and others is pretty much unrealistic.

* * * * *

Meanwhile, the Burmese regime continues to round up monks and democracy supporters.

Four detention centers were being built around Yangon, including one at an institute of technology and one at a race course, indicating that the military planned to hold the monks and others for long periods.

Human rights groups said many people were in hiding or on the run, fearing arrest after taking part in the protests or in smuggling out the photographs and videotapes that have caught the world's attention.

Myanmar's access to the Internet was also shut down and most overseas cellphone communications and land lines were severed or hampered. Soldiers on the street confiscated cameras and video-telephones.

The UN Human Rights Council adopted a resolution strongly deploring the "violent repression" of peaceful demonstrations in Myanmar. However, Executive Director of the Geneva-based NGO Hillel Neuer expressed disappointment that the final text was watered down, which "sends the wrong message to the murderers of innocent monks."
The EU-authored text was softened several times to ensure that all countries, including China and Russia, join the consensus. "Strongly condemns" in the original text was changed to "condemns," and then weakened again to "strongly deplores."

Sigh.

burma_killing3.jpg

How about Bush's pre-emptive attack strategy? Oh wait, he does not want to upset China.

Related Links

ZNET - Global Hypocrisy on Burma

Spiegel - They Come at Night and Murder the Monks

IHT - UN envoy ends Myanmar trip

IHT - Myanmar comes face to face with a technology revolution

IHT - Junta seizes UN worker in nighttime raid in Myanmar

NY Times - UN reports detentions in Myanmar

Bloomberg.com - Myanmar should reveal protest death toll, UN says

New Zealand Herald - Sylvester Stallone describes Myanmar 'hellhole'

Hindu Times - UN rights council's resolution against Myanmar welcomed

Fox News - Myanmar Forces Hunt Pro-Democracy Protestors

Times Online UK - Two pictures that show how the protest was crushed

No Skorts?

Consumerist has a copy of Comcast's Call Center Dress Code.

Apparently, you cannot wear skorts.

Also, any company having a dress code policy that is more than one page long shows they spend too much time focusing on unnecessary things.

Possibly one of the worst credit cards to have

Check it out

The best part is you get an initial $300 credit line, but there are certain initiation fees that must be paid: $99 for account processing, $89 for program participation, $10 monthly maintenance fee, and $49 for the annual fee. That leaves $53 as available credit.

9/11/01: Sixth Anniversary

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new_york_times_9-11.jpg

child_illustrate_flag.jpg

9-11_Statue_of_Liberty_and_WTC_fire.jpg

Again, we remember the victims that perished in the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001. Almost 3,000 people died on that day.

It is still something you can never forget.

I saw the ending of the second plane explosion from the Hoboken pier. I watched both towers fall from the waterfront in Jersey City.

Always remember 9/11.

Moment of Silence:

8:46:30 - first plane hits North Tower
9:02:59 - second plane hits South Tower
9:37:46 - third plane hits Pentagon
9:59:00 - South Tower collapses
10:03:11 - fourth plane crashes near Shanksville, PA
10:28:00 - North Tower collapses

If we are supposed to be for regime change, how about Myanmar?

Why haven't we brought democracy to Myanmar (Burma)?

Jim Carrey makes a YouTube video urging people to join the US Campaign for Burma and Human Rights Action Center

AP - Protests spread around Myanmar

CNN.com - Jim Carrey: Help Aung San Suu Kyi

Wikipedia - Aung San Suu Kyi

The junta controlling Myanmar has been cracking down on protestors ever since they quadruple fuel prices in the country.

These recent actions have led to condemnations by the United States, France, United Kingdom, and Canada.

* * * * *

Said the United States: "The United States calls for the immediate release of these activists, and for an end to the regime's blatant attempt to intimidate and silence those who are engaged in peaceful promotion of democracy."

Said France: "France is also deeply concerned by the use of force by pro-government militias in Rangoon against peaceful and democratic demonstrations. The military junta will be held solely responsible for the consequences that this unacceptable repression may have on the demonstrators.

Said the United Kingdom: "The British Government condemns the detention of a number of Burma's '1988 Generation' student leaders on the evening of 21/22 August. Those detained, and their colleagues, have exercised their right to peaceful protest at the harsh economic burdens being heaped on the long-suffering Burmese people. We support their call for the restoration of democracy and genuine political dialogue. We urge the Burmese government to free them immediately'.

* * * * *

On the 26th August, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Louise Arbour, expressed concern over reports that student leaders and other protestors have been arrested by the Myanmar authorities following a series of peaceful demonstrations against the sharp increase in the prices of fuel.

Remember Aung San Suu Kyi's "Freedom from Fear" speech:

"It is not power that corrupts but fear. Fear of losing power corrupts those who wield it and fear of the scourge of power corrupts those who are subject to it."

She was the 1991 recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize for "her non-violent struggle for democracy and human rights."

Taslima Nasrin

taslima_nasrin.jpgWe all heard of Salman Rushdie, now here's another example. Taslima Nasrin is a Bangladeshi writer who finds herself without a nation at the moment. She fled her native country after writing a critique of Islam for India, and now it looks like she needs to leave that country as well.

Ms. Nasrin, a medical doctor turned writer, made international headlines in the 1990s after her debut novel Lajja, or Shame, was released in Bangladesh and sparked such intense Muslim antagonism that she was forced to flee her homeland.

Nasrin's writings express her thoughts on religion, feminism, and sexuality clearly--issues that are not often expressed in the open in the traditional Muslim society of Bangladesh.

Recently, in March 2007, an Indian Muslim group offered a bounty of 500,000 rupees for her beheading.

While living in West Bengal, she was physically assaulted in early August by a Muslim religious group at the launch of a translation of one of her controversial novels in the southern Indian city of Hyderabad.

A week later, in Calcutta, Muslim clerics issued a "death warrant," threatening to kill Ms. Nasrin - who is Muslim, although a critic of Islam - if she did not leave the country.

Senior FB leader Bhaktipada Ghosh said while India is a secular society, "we cannot tolerate attacks on any religion here." He wants her deported in order to protect that this so-called secularism that apparently cannot abide anyone questioning Islam.

Desperate to stay, Nasrin has offered to surrender saying that she will stop criticizing Islam in order to stay in the country.

Indian politicians are not even helping her because it would disrupt their ruling coalition.

Quite sad.

Globe & Mail - Muslim groups press India to expel author

What if? US conducts a surprise attack on Iran

It is a scenario that most people would either want or not want to happen. Imagine getting out of bed, and turning on the television, and you find breaking news on CNN, Fox News, BBC, or whatever channel reporting explosions occurring in the Iranian capital city of Tehran and airstrikes against military and nuclear sites.

The military response scenario comes from the paper, "Considering a war with Iran: A discussion paper on WMD in the Middle East," written by British scholar and arms expert Dr. Dan Plesch, Director of the Centre for International Studies and Diplomacy and Martin Butcher, a former Director of the British American Security Information Council (BASIC) and former adviser to the Foreign Affairs Committee of the European Parliament.

The paper essentially concludes that the U.S. military probably has plans in place that can destroy Iran's WMD, nuclear energy, regime, armed forces, state apparatus, and economic infrastructure within days if not hours of President Bush giving the order.

Several points were mentioned:

1) The attack would be multi-front scale, but no ground invasion. Focusing on WMD facilities only would leave Iran with too many retaliatory options, so Bush would choose a plan that would destroy most of Iran's military and security infrastructure. It would leave the regime vulnerable to civilian disorder.

2) Airbases hosting US bombers (B-52, B-1, B-2, F-117A, etc.) and long range missiles would be ready to destroy thousands of targets in Iran in just a few days.

3) The proximity of US forces already in the Persian Gulf, Iraq, and Afghanistan can attack Iranian forces, the regime, and the state at short notice.

4) Armed popular resistance in the Iranian provinces or ethnic areas of the Azeri, Balujistan, Kurdistan, and Khuzestan, plus possibly UK military action.

5) The use of nuclear weapons is an option, but very highly unlikely to be used in such a conflict. Human, political, and environmental effects would be devastating.

6) Israel is determined to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons but with its current military capability, can only wound Iran's WMD programmes.

7) How would the UK react? While the Brown government and the public are against more war, they would probably still support US' actions because of their view that Iran must not acquire the bomb.

8) The US is of course keeping their military plans secret, so the chances of military confrontation is high.

Both Plesch and Butcher believe that the US will not confine its airstrikes to just nuclear sites. They foresee a "full-spectrum approach," designed to either instigate an overthrow of the government or reduce Iran to the status of "a week or failed state." To substantiate this assumption, they noted the administration's National Security Strategy which includes eliminating Iran as a regional power.

They do acknowledge that such a full-scale intervention would encounter substantial potential risks and impediments. I would surmise that such risks would include high opposition within the Congress, public disorder, increased global tension and hatred of the US, world condemnation, etc. It would also bode ill for the President's party in the next general election.

In terms of strategy, a wider form of air attack would do two things... one is to delay the Iranian nuclear program for a sufficiently prolonged period of time and create an opportunity for the political opposition in Iran to overthrow the current regime. The consequences and rewards would be extremely high. If the full-scale attack fails, the US would be damaged severely on the world stage. Whatever remaining credibility or goodwill will go down the toilet. Bush's last months as President would be pretty bad. If the attack succeeds and the Iranian regime falls, half of the international community would applaud it, the other half would criticize it. But the US should not occupy Iran. The Iraq-occupation should deter any notion of doing the same thing to the Iranians.

Link

Kryptonite New York Fahgettaboudit U-Lock

KryptoniteNYFU.jpgThe Washington Post had a nice article about the rising theft of bicycles and using the Web to sell them to unsuspecting buyers. One particular bike rider, Martin Moulton, had a good ending when one of his friends spotted his stolen 2005 Cannondale on Craigslist. With the help of police at the last-minute, he was able to recover his bike. The seller was released when it was found out that he was just a third-party person selling the bike on behalf of the person that "found" it.

Is it possible for others to find their stolen bike on Craigslist or even eBay? There's always a chance, but for most folks, the odds of getting back their bike is pretty slim. Even if you report the stolen bike, had it registered including the VIN inscription, it does not substantially increase your chances of finding it again. The VIN can guarantee that the bike is rightfully yours, but that's the easy part.

The best way to prevent theft is to secure it properly and with the best tools that are available. Slate.com did a review of the top bike locks, and the top two are the Kryptonite New York Fahgettaboudit U-Lock (shown on picture above) and the OnGuard Brute STD U-lock.

The Kryptonite New York lock retails for $89.95, its pertinent thickness is 18mm, and only weighs 4.6 pounds. There is a free anti-theft warranty too: $4,500 for one year.

It was subjected to the following tools: an 18-inch crowbar, 30-inch bolt cutters, a hacksaw, three special blades, and a claw hammer.

At most, it took approx 42 minutes using the hacksaw to break through the 18 mm shackle.

The OnGuard Brute lock goes for $69.95 and has a 16 mm shackle, weighs 4.5 pounds, and it also has a free anti-theft warranty of $3,001 for one year.

Sawwing on the 16 mm shackle for five minutes took about 3 mm deep. At that rate, it would take 35 minutes to cut through.

* * * * * *

The STD U-lock for the Kryptonite (KryptoLok $29.99) and OnGuard (Bulldog $29.99) are much more vulnerable. For the Kryptonite, it took the Slate.com columnist less than a minute to break through the shackle. The included mounting bracket was just flimsy plastic.

For the OnGuard, it was indeed durable against the cutting, but the staff at the bike store told the author that the sturdy-looking mounting bracket would eventually snap off. On a stroke of good timing, a customer walked in with a broken OnGuard mount. If you are in NYC, the Bulldog is not recommended.

bike_locks.jpgUnless you got several U-locks, it is best to buy the highest quality out there. If you got a woven steel cable lock, throw it in the trash. A hacksaw and bolt cutters can slice through them quite easily. That's why they don't have zero theft protection.

Even the KryptoLok U-lock does not carry a zero-theft warranty.

If you got an expensive bike, buy an expensive lock. While Case Protective Services offers bike locks for rent, find out what models they are offering, and check out their reviews on the net. Sometimes, they may not have the best option for you.

As such, be aware of where you are securing your bike. Of course, it does not help the fact that some bikes have been stolen right off the bike rack in an open area or near a building. It would be quite interesting if a person was busy hacksawing a bike for 30 minutes and managed to carry it away without anyone doing anything. If you got a mobile phone, use it and call 3333 or 911. If you got a digital camera, use it. If you see a security officer walking by, alert the person to the theft in progress.

Quite a lot of bike thefts during July.

What to do if your GF finds porn on your computer

Written from a woman's perspective, a very embarrassing tale of confronting the boyfriend after finding porn on his computer. "Every one does it. It is normal." Haha, you'll have to do better than that!

Goodbye Good Samaritan

Are there any "Good Samaritans" left in this country?

rage_ibrahim.jpgIn St. Paul, MN, as many as 10 people witnessed a man raping and beating a woman early Tuesday in the hallway of an apartment building, police said Wednesday.

NO ONE STOPPED IT.

The victim even attempted to knock on one of the doors, yelling for the occupants to call police. A man inside supposedly told police that he made the 911 call, but he didn't even open the door to check what was going on. However, police found no record of the call according to an affidavit. So basically, the man was just lying.

Police later arrested Rage Ibrahim on suspicion of criminal sexual conduct. He was later charged with two counts of rape: first-degree and third-degree criminal sexual conduct.

St. Paul Police Cmdr. Shari Grey oversees the department's sex crimes unit: "It was horrifying. I can't describe how it sent chills up my back, watching this woman get assaulted and people turning their backs and doing nothing."

Police have evidence of a video recording showing the attack.

Here's the sickening part. As the woman screamed, five to 10 people - men and women - peeked out their apartment doors to see what was happening or started walking down the hallway and retreated after witnessing the assault. You have to wonder if these neighbors knew each other, some of them could have got together and stopped the rape.

Police say someone did call 911, but reported it as drunken people in a hallway, not a violent assult, so police thought it was just a disturbance. Now if it was classified as an assault, the police response would have been quicker.

The first 911 call came at 2:43AM, police arrived at 3:25AM. That's 42 minutes.

This is reminiscent of the 1964 Kitty Genovese murder which has coined the term "Genovese syndrome" - or bystander effect. Genovese was stabbed to death outside a Queens apartment building while many people looked on from their windows but didn't step in to help. There were approximately 38 people that saw the murder. Only one person called police, but it was too late, Genovese was already dead.

Back to this...when police arrived on the scene, they found Ibrahim and a woman on the floor, both naked from the waist down.

Ibrahim told the officers they were just drunk and she was her girlfriend, but the woman told them he had drugged and raped her.

The surveillance video showed Ibrahim striking the woman five times including the sexual assault itself. This lasted for about 90 MINUTES!

Another shock to police was that Ibrahim told police that if he wanted to assault the woman, he would have done it in the apartment!

Also shown in the video, a man did approached the two people, but turned around. The building manager spoke with the person and asked why he did not call police. The man replied, "I thought they were drunk. And I left."

The woman suffered numerous scratches, cuts, and bruises on her legs, face, and shoulder.

Ibrahim stated he got scratched on the lip, arm, and "everywhere."

* * * * *

Even though there is evidence that Ibrahim has committed this awful crime, he has a defender. Omar Jamal, the Executive Director of the Somali Justice Center said that the assailant is innocent of the charges. It seems he is the "Al Sharpton" of the Somali community in St. Paul, playing both sides of any domestic violence cases there.

Jamal (who was not even at the scene of the crime, and is basing on Ibrahim's side of the story) stated that the accused went into the hallway after the woman because he thought she was too drunk to drive. They struggled over the car keys, and "he is saying there was a huge misunderstanding," he said, adding that the police report does not show "the truth of what happened that night."

"He did not rape her," Jamal said.

Given that most residents in the building were Somali, Jamal said that they tend to mistrust and fear the police. "The only system they know (from Somalia) is a military, totalitarian government that tortures and executes people," he said. "Their understanding is a system that oppresses and that kills. People have no rights. They are used to keeping quiet and not saying anything." Based on this, it would have influenced their behavior on whether to act or not.

This would depend if some of the residents have only been in the country for a short period of time, but I rather think it is more culture-effect than worrying about the government going after you.

The question I posed to Jamal is if the residents are unwilling to call the police, why they did not act to stop it themselves? Could it be that in a domestic violence situation for Somalis, the male is dominant? If they saw a man beating up a woman, they would probably assume she deserved it. Some advocates believe that such things are considered taboo for them, so they would want to keep it in-house instead of letting someone [law enforcement] from the outside intervene. He did say that women are strongly discouraged from reporting it.

So we need to change that.

George W. Bush's Presidential Advance Manual

Discovered via Digg

This manual was written by the Bush Administration as guidelines of what to do before the president arrived. Includes - how to hide protestors so the president doesn't have to see/hear them, and if that doesn't work, how to send your own people as a counter-protest to drown them out and block their view.

Let's crack down on the traffic cop nazis

In NYC. Warning: Video has a few curse words in the end.

NY Daily News - Traffic tix agent is exposed

Apparently, she parked her traffic vehicle next to the fire hydrant. NYC parking law states that there is a 15-foot restriction on either side of the hydrant. Then she went in to buy lunch.

Also, it seems there is a policy where you cannot film a NYPD member because of terrorism.

Don Imus sued by Rutgers player

Update 8/21/07:
Surprise, surprise, Al Sharpton throws his take on the lawsuit. His conditions for Don Imus to settle... one is to pay Rutgers player Kia Vaughn (and any other player who decides to sue Imus) a settlement for her defamation suit, a statement that Imus will affirm not to take "cheap shots at women and blacks or any other group" and a pledge to "refrain from attacks on innocent people who cannot defend themselves." Last, set aside an on-air slot every week for an ombudsman from the National Association of Black Journalists, and "encourage all corporations, including the record industry, to stop subsidizing and promoting people who engage in racist and misogynist language, even in the name of entertainment."

Sharpton: "It was not and is not our desire to interrupt the life of Don Imus. We just want to ensure that he does not interfere with ours."

Well if that's his reasoning, then why interrupt the lives of those three Duke lacrosse players? Sounds to me that Sharpton is being a bit hypocritical there. Cheap shots? With all those rules, you might as well remove every talk show radio hosts across the entire spectrum. Also, it seems Sharpton wants to give a "green light" to the rest of the players if they want some cash to "ease" their suffering. The question is will the rest of them follow Kia's lead? Or perhaps they won't and leave Kia alone under the media spotlight.

Update 8/16/07:
A check on various blogs and newspaper clippings on the lawsuit are mostly negative against the lawsuit. The main reasoning against her lawsuit is the allegation about their reputation being tarnished. Yet, weeks after Don Imus made his offensive remarks, commentators to other distinguised leaders have all said the women carried themselves with dignity and class following the incident. They were called strong, intelligent, career-minded, and so on.

Where is the tarnished reputation?

* * * * *

don_imus.jpgWas this all planned or just "blatant" coincidence? Hours after radio shock jock Don Imus settled his breach-of-contract lawsuit with CBS on Tuesday, Rutgers player Kia Vaughn, a junior on the basketball team, filed a civil lawsuit against him for libel, slander, and defamation.

Of course, she is seeking monetary damages of an unspecified amount.

The lawsuit names Imus individually, but it is also waged against MSNBC, NBC Universal, CBS Radio, CBS Corp., Viacom Inc., Westwood One Radio, and Imus producer Bernard McGuirk.

It claims that Don Imus' nappy-headed ho comment damaged her reputation. For the media companies, it alleges that they "wrongfully, intentionally, willfully...created, tolerated, and maintained an atmosphere in which the making of outrageous statements and comments was acceptable, encouraged, and/or rewarded for many years prior to this occurrence and/or overtly encouraged the statements made."

Attorney Richard Ancowitz
"This is a lawsuit in order to restore the good name and reputation of my client, Kira Vaughn... There's no way these bigoted remarks should have seen the light of day.... Don Imus referred to my client as an unchaste woman. That was a lie."

* * * * * * *

I am surprised it took that long for someone on the Rutgers basketball team to file a lawsuit against Don Imus. He made the nappy comment on April 4 and the lawsuit came on August 14. I really doubt the lawyer's assertion that it was just a complete coincidence on the timing.

It is quite interesting to note Ancowitz statement about "The full effect of the damage remains to be seen." That seems to be a veiled threat to Imus to settle out of court or face the prospect of a more expensive lawsuit.

So far, it is not known whether the rest of the Rutgers women basketball team are supportive of Vaugh's lawsuit. We are not yet sure if Coach C. Vivian Stringer knew about it or even sanctioned such an action.

However, I bet that the moment this lawsuit was reported on the mainstream media, the question on everyone's minds is "Who is Kia Vaughn?" Outside of Rutgers University and the NCAA program, I bet no one knows who she is. Don Imus himself did not mention her name. If you mention Rutgers to some person walking on the street, he or she would likely recall that their women's basketball team reached the NCAA Finals but lost to Univ. of Tennessee, and that Don Imus made some offensive comments about the women on the team, and lost his job.

Come on here, Don Imus did meet with the players and apologized for his remarks. We all thought this whole story would just end, but Kia Vaughn and her lawyer decided to be more greedy and add more fuel to the dying fire. It's a shame, but this is America, and you can sue anybody for just about anything.

With this lawsuit, it will give a negative perception that it was all about the money. This case will cast a shadow over the team, the sports program, and the university for next several months. Kia will now be in the national spotlight more often as compared before.

The weird part of all of this is that Don Imus did not defamed Kia Vaughn specifically. Check his comments on April 4. Kia's name was not mentioned at any point during his broadcast. Is she insinuating that Imus' remarks were more damaging to her than her teammates? That her brand of suffering is greater than everyone else's? Also, she has to prove the word "nappy headed ho" means what she claims it means.

To make sure it was not about her, her lawyer said that some of the money from any damages would be used to create a scholarship program to study the effects of bigoted and misogynistic speech on society. Quite a nice PR move. Then I guess the rest is for Ancowitz and Vaughn. Please... there are other ways to raise money.

Let's move on. But it won't happen. Anyone wants to bet on the possiblity that you will see Kia Vaughn standing between Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson at a news conference applauding the lawsuit?

The Death Camp of Communist China

Does anyone know the true story of Mao Zedong's rule in China from 1949 to 1976? It was quite a bloody reality with historians estimating approx 20 million to 75 million deaths.

Link

The Black Book of Communism: Crimes, Terror, Repression

The most ridiculous excuse for the NYC steam pipe explosion

The Northwest Progressive Institute blog believes that the steam pipe explosion in NYC was the result of our foreign policy.

Excerpt below:

"Emphasis is mine. Regrettable accidents like this could be prevented if we spent our money on actual needs - like maintaining and enhancing our infrastructure instead of launching preemptive attacks against other countries and overextending the military force that is supposed to protect the people of this country, not incite more angry feelings toward America by serving as the de facto police force in another nation whose people do not want us there."

* * * * *

I did not know the 1924 steam pipe was a member of the Bush election committee. I don't believe it voted in the last 2, 3, or maybe 4 past elections.

What a wanker.

Sick of Automated Phone Systems?

When you call customer support, you get the usual voice recording or automated system detailing the list of choices you can pick, then another set of choices, and so on and so forth. After a while, you know which buttons to push.

Yet, it can get a bit antsy when you get the recording "our options have changed" for the 500th time, and you have to wonder when they will erase that part, and just get on with it.

What if you wanted to get a human voice as quick as possible?

getHuman has 500 entries detailing what buttons that need to be pushed in order to get a real human voice.

Here's an excerpt:

Consolidated Edison 800-752-6633 Press 0 at each prompt, ignoring messages.
Consumers' Energy Company 800-477-5050 Press 0 at each prompt, ignoring messages.
Continental Airlines 800-784-4444 Press 00 at each prompt, ignoring messages.
Costco.com 800-955-2292 Press 55.
Costco 800-220-6000 Press 55.
Countrywide Loans 800-669-5864 Press 0 at each prompt, ignoring messages.
CVS.com 888-607-4287 Press 0.
Days Inn 800-329-7466 Direct to human.
Dell Financial Services 800-283-2210 Press 0; at prompt press 0; at prompt press #; at prompt press #.
Dell Sales 800-624-9897 Press 0 at each prompt, ignoring messages.
Dell Tech Support 800-624-9896 Press 3; say "agent" at each additional prompt, ignoring messages.
Delta Airlines 800-221-1212 Press 0 at each prompt, ignoring messages.
Delta Dental 888-335-8227 After language option, press 2 for existing or 3 for new account.
Detroit Edison (DTE) 800-477-4747 Press 0 at each prompt, ignoring messages.
DHL Express 800-225-5345 Press 0 at each prompt, ignoring messages.
Dillard's 800-345-5273 Direct to human.

On Holiday

Las Vegas - June 19-20
Honolulu - June 21-25

These Convicted Criminal Aliens Gamed the System

As mentioned by michellemalkin.com, these convicted aliens have successfully jammed our justice system in remaining in the country.

Leroy Blake is a Jamaican national convicted of first-degree sexual abuse of a minor in 1992. The feds began deportation proceedings in 1999. An immigration judge ruled Blake deportable in 2000. Blake took his case to the federal Board of Immigration Appeals, which remanded the case back to the immigration judge, who granted him relief from deportation. The then-INS appealed the judge's ruling. In 2005, the Board of Immigration Appeals sided with the INS and ordered Blake removed from the U.S. Blake filed a motion to reconsider, then took his case to the Second Circuit.

Aundre Singh, a native of Guyana, who was convicted of second-degree murder in 1986. In 1997, the then-INS moved to deport him. In 1998, an immigration judge ordered him deported. In 1999, the Board of Immigration Appeals dismissed Singh's appeal. In 2003, Singh filed a motion to reconsider, which the appeals board denied. Singh filed for reconsideration of that ruling, which was denied in 2004. Singh tried again to appeal the board's ruling in 2005 and was denied again before heading to the Second Circuit for relief.

Errol Foster, a Jamaican national, who killed a man with a pistol in 1990. He pleaded guilty to first-degree manslaughter. He was released from prison in 2002. The feds began deportation proceedings while he was still in custody. An immigration judge ordered his removal in 2000, which Foster appealed. The Board of Immigration Appeals rejected his appeal in 2001. Four years later, Foster was still in the country — appealing the rejected appeal and filing three separate federal lawsuits before getting lucky with the Second Circuit.

Ho Yoon Chong, a South Korean national, who was sentenced in 1995 for racketeering related to his participation in the "Korean Fuk Ching" crime ring. In 1998, the then-INS moved to deport him. In 2002, an immigration judge ordered him deported. In 2004, the Board of Immigration Appeals sided with the judge. Like his fellow criminal aliens, Chong didn't give up, and now he's won the immigration litigation lottery.

So it would seem our 1996 laws banning deportation relief for felons is being taken advantage of. Immigration lawyers must be having a field day with this. Perhaps they know that by going to the Second Circuit Court of Appeals in New York or the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals for the West Coast, they can get a sympathetic court to allow them to stay.

Should this still be allowed to continue?