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Posts from — March 2008

Iraq Voter Registration Drive Over

Of course, Dr. Cole has his round-up, Iran Brokers Call for Ceasefire; Bush reduced to Irrelevancy in Iraq; Fighting Continues, and Noah Shachtman of Danger Room has a nice catch in his post, Is Iraq Still an Insurgency?

My reading is that Prime Minister al Malaki is the biggest loser. He launched this attack and it failed to achieve anything; his own party, Da’wa, and ISCI had to ask their Iranian sponsors to intervene; he is left isolated and will eventually be thrown under the bus.

The US is also a loser, because the force it trained and supported was ineffective, and it’s support killed more civilians, which is not good for a “hearts and minds” campaign.

Iran stayed neutral, but once again demonstrated that it is the power in the region when it comes to Iraq. It has been a major backer of ISCI and the Da’wa party, but it can also talk to al Sadr, so it may shift its support.

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March 31, 2008   3 Comments

Monday Creature Feature

The Local Economy

Monday Creature Feature

I can’t believe I’m eating cat food‽

[Editor: I know it’s a lousy picture because it was taken through a window and the flash went off, but this is one that shows best what this “lovely” creature is – a turkey vulture. Apparently there aren’t enough flattened possums on the roads, so he’s forced to stop by a feral cat feeding location for a meal. At least he was eating the cheap wet stuff and not the kibble. For some reason the cats didn’t bother him.]

March 31, 2008   Comments Off on Monday Creature Feature

Water Is Still Wet

Another of the Shrubbery’s appointees is resigning to spend more time with his family legal team according to this press release from the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

“U.S. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Alphonso Jackson announced today he will be stepping down as the nation’s chief housing officer” so he can figure out how to stay out of prison for any number of his activities during the last seven years.

The guy has been blatant, and hasn’t been called on this crap. He is part of the failure to deal with Katrina, and hasn’t been doing anything about the mortgage meltdown, which falls right in the middle of his area of responsibility. Maybe we can’t finally determine how many contracts you can engineer for friends and relatives before it’s too many.

March 31, 2008   Comments Off on Water Is Still Wet

The Best Health Care In The World?

The BBC reports on one state’s attempt to deal with the uninsured: Oregon’s healthcare lottery

In what is believed to be the first such move, a US state is running a lottery in which the prize is health insurance.

With some 45 million Americans uninsured, how to pay for medical treatment is a big issue in this year’s presidential election.

Now officials in Oregon say they have come up with a fair way of providing coverage for some of those who cannot afford it.

Gives new meaning to the expression “your number is up”.

This is how we deal with life and death in the United States, by luck of the draw? If you win you live; if you lose you die after going bankrupt. Why is this acceptable?

March 30, 2008   22 Comments

All Alaska Sweepstakes

The good news is that the winner of the race has arrived back in Nome and Mitch Seavey wins the $100K:

March 28, 2008, Nome, Alaska
Unofficially, at 11:29:45 pm, Mitch Seavey of Sterling, Alaska, finished the 2008 Centennial running of the All Alaska Sweepstakes Race in 61 hours, 29 minutes and 45 seconds, shattering the 1910 “Iron Man” Johnson Sweepstakes record of 74 hours, 14 minutes and 37 seconds.

The bad news is below the fold:

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March 30, 2008   3 Comments

Oh, Great

Via Vastleft at Corrente piece, Now I feel better about everything!, the Associated Press reports that Obama aligns foreign policy with GOP

GREENSBURG, Pa. – Sen. Barack Obama said Friday he would return the country to the more “traditional” foreign policy efforts of past presidents, such as George H.W. Bush, John F. Kennedy and Ronald Reagan.

First of all to the headline writer – JFK freely and openly admitted he was a card carrying member of the Democratic Party, so they weren’t all GOP Presidents, just two-thirds of them.

OK: Bay of Pigs, Vietnam, “October Surprise”, Iran-Contra, Panama, Grenada, Saddam Hussein, WMDs, Lebanon, Taliban, al Qaeda, El Salvador, Guatemala, Nicaragua, death squads, A.Q. Khan, Bitburg, Haiti, Somalia, the Shi’ia uprising after Gulf War I, &c. ad nauseam.

I realize that the Camp David agreement and the Dayton peace accords aren’t as exciting, and the last two Democratic Presidents were reluctant to project US military might all over the world, but they weren’t getting people killed with great regularity, especially innocent people and members of the US military.

The man knows next to nothing about post World War II American history, and, apparently, neither do his advisors.

March 30, 2008   7 Comments

It Keeps On Ticking

Engadget reports on the results of the “Pwn 2 Own” hackers competition in which people were given a week to take control of several machines with the individual who bypassed the security features on the machine being awarded the machine they “pwnd”.

In the end a Sony Vaio running Ubuntu Linux was still on the table.

The Mac Air was claimed in 2 minutes, and the Vista SP1 in 2 days, but Linux survived the week. This wasn’t about viruses or worms, this competition was to actually take over the computer. The Mac fell to a Safari exploit, and Vista, apparently, to a Java weakness. The Vista winners admitted that they had to start from scratch because they hadn’t expected that SP1 would be installed.

March 30, 2008   12 Comments

Iraqi Election Update

Dr. Cole has his daily update on the situation, Mahdi Army Unsubdued; Iran asks for End to Fighting, that includes a Los Angeles Times piece in which the ISCI admits the government actions are about the elections.

The BBC reports that al Sadr seems to be calling for a truce in their piece, Iraqi cleric calls off militias, but there are conditions in this call. The Iraqi government has to release Sadrists who have been picked up by security forces lately and accept al Sadr’s “framing” on the situation in Iraq.

Moqtada al Sadr may be a thug, but he’s not stupid. His forces have been targeted for weeks and he has been trying to keep a lid on things. That was interpreted as weakness and the ISCI attacked him. The ISCI/Badr/Iraqi government forces were unable to win against the Mahdi Army, even with air and artillery support. The Mahdi Army has already won the important “hearts and minds” battle, so there’s no need to lose more fighters. The ISCI/government can’t sustain this operation and he has given them an opportunity to end the pain.

The remaining question is whether the ISCI is ready to admit defeat while starting the political spin for US consumption.

March 30, 2008   Comments Off on Iraqi Election Update

Passing the Plate

Florida License Plates

Florida Plate Blogging

Beneficiary

Standard Florida Plate

A weekend feature of Why Now.

March 30, 2008   4 Comments

Politics By Other Means

Update: The NPR hourly news summary is reporting that things are going so well that al Malaki had to be evacuated from his headquarters in Basra. No word yet on how long he will extend the deadline for the Mahdi Army to disarm. 😈

Given that all they know about politics was learned from Saddam Hussein and the Hedgemony is it any surprise that the voter registration “drive” before the Iraqi provincial elections features military assaults, aerial bombardment, and general mayhem?

Dr. Cole covers the expanding theater of operations, as well as the number of groups that have “decided not to canvas” for ISCI.

The BBC still reports on the situation in Iraq, unlike the US MSM, and tells us that Iraqi militia defy call to disarm

The radical Shia Iraqi cleric Moqtada Sadr has defied a call by the Iraqi government for his powerful Mehdi Army militia to lay down its weapons.

Arms would only be handed over to an Iraqi government willing to end the US occupation, his senior official in Basra, Hareth al-Ethari, told the BBC.

Security forces have been trying to wrest control of the southern city and other Shia areas from the Mehdi Army.

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March 29, 2008   8 Comments

Happy Anniversary

It’s the 29th anniversary of the Three Mile Island “incident”.

That must be why so many people are talking about going to Philadelphia today.

March 28, 2008   Comments Off on Happy Anniversary

An Apology

I’ve been bad-mouthing the US Air pilot for incompetent weapons handling, and it turns out the problem may lie in TSA procedures [I know, I was stunned to read that, too. 😈 ]

The Charlotte Observer follows up on the weapons case

Other details released Thursday also indicate that the gun’s holster is being investigated in the shooting. Some pilots have criticized the locking holster system for the Heckler & Koch USP pistol as inappropriate for the program that arms pilots. Transportation Security Administration procedures require a pilot to transfer the gun and holster from his flight bag to his belt multiple times during a flight, pilots said in interviews.

The holster system is designed with a lock that goes behind the trigger, preventing the gun from firing. But some pilots say that when the gun isn’t snapped tightly into the holster, or becomes loose during transfers, the lock can end up in front of the trigger.

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March 28, 2008   6 Comments

Water Is Wet

Another of the Shrubbery’s staff is resigning to spend more time with his family legal team according to the Associated Press: Bush aide resigns for alleged wrongdoing

WASHINGTON – An aide to President Bush has resigned because of his alleged misuse of grant money from the U.S. Agency for International Development when he worked for a Cuban democracy organization.

Felipe Sixto was promoted on March 1 as a special assistant to the president for intergovernmental affairs and stepped forward on March 20 to reveal his alleged wrongdoing and to resign, White House spokesman Scott Stanzel said Friday. He said Sixto took that step after learning that his former employer, the Center for a Free Cuba, was prepared to bring legal action against him.

Stanzel said the alleged wrongdoing involved the misuse of money when Sixto was an official at the center.

It’s a good thing that people who work at the White House go through those extensive background checks. 😈

March 28, 2008   7 Comments

How’s That Civil War Going?

Building on the wonderful results for his “72-hour or else” threat, the BBC reports that Iraq extends militiamen deadline

Iraq’s government has extended by 10 days a deadline for Shia militiamen fighting troops in the southern city of Basra to hand over their weapons.

More than 130 people have been killed and 350 injured since a clampdown on militias began in Basra on Tuesday.

US-led forces joined the battle for the first time overnight, bombing Shia positions, the UK military said.

Parliament called an emergency meeting to discuss the crisis, which has also brought a three-day curfew in Baghdad.

But just 54 MPs out of 275 managed to get inside the fortified Green Zone to attend the session, because it was under fresh bombardment from mortars and rockets.

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March 28, 2008   2 Comments