Sunday, March 23, 2008

The Nightowl Newswrap

Dith Pran is facing an adversary every bit as harrowing as the Khmer Rouge. Pran is the photojournalist who shared the Pulitzer Prize in 1976 with Sidney Schanberg of the New York Times for their work covering the war in Cambodia. Eight years later, they were the subjects of the Academy Award winning movie The Killing Fields. Mr. Pran has faced starvation, torture, and the murderous children's brigade. Now he is battling pancreatic cancer. No stranger to adversity, he is battling the illness with dignity and serenity, and is using his experience to promote early cancer screening. Send white light toward New Jersey, where he has made his home for many years.

I remember consumer protections Another safeguard for the citizenry is becoming a thing of the past - the FDA, staffed by ideologues who do the bidding of big pharma, is on the verge of stripping away the rights of citizens to petition the courts for redress when they are wronged by faulty products. Citizens should never be never be barred from accessing the courts to appeal for justice - when people are denied access to the third box, they tend to move on to the fourth one. Imagine we learn that contaminated Heparin that recently killed at least 19 people was contaminated on purpose, and the families of those killed are denied access to the justice system. How could that ever be tolerated in this ostensibly free country?

Political Games Frank Walter Steinmeier, the German Foreign Minister, has issued a stern warning to China that the way they handle the unrest in Tibet could jeopardize this summer's Olympic games. ''This much is clear: the Olympic games don't work like they did 80 years ago. You can't just host glamorous events for television while things are going topsy-turvy in your own backyard. The host has to allow thousands of journalists into the country -- you won't be able to sweep anything under the rug,'' Steinmeier said.

No Fallon Testimony
Late Friday the Pentagon announced that Admiral Fallon will not be included when Petraeus and Crocker go before congress to offer testimony about the status of Iraq on April 8 and 9. After their testimony, aWol will be announcing his plans for suspending troop drawdowns for the duration of his presidency and handing the clusterfuck off to the next president, who will have no choice but to wind it down, because both chambers of the congress will have stronger Democratic majorities and the republican obstructionists won't be able to continue their petty, obstreperous, contrarian ways.

Homeland Security painted itself into a corner with Real ID Chertoff sent out threatening letters on Friday to states that have explicitly refused to go along with DHS on the whole "Real ID" thing. The letters informed the states that anyone presenting drivers licenses from those states at the airport would be treated as if they had no ID at all. But hours later another letter went out - to the State of Montana. In it the feds backed down. In so many words they said "Never mind - you have met most of the requirements on your own, so we aren't going to hammer your citizens and piss a bunch of people off," and they granted Montana an extension that the state explicitly did not ask for. Governor Brian Schweitzer was all "whatever" about it, saying the state is simply not going to comply. "We sent them a horse. If they choose to call it a zebra, that is their business," said Schweitzer. He isn't stupid. He's a Democrat. These fuckups are about gone, and he's tellin' 'em to piss off, they are trying to save face and everyone is running out the clock. Good times. I love it when my government turns into a joke, don't you? [/sarcasm].

The pushback against these criminal bastards is coming from everywhere these days A new book due out next month by a retired Chilean diplomat and former head of the U.N. Security Council gets into the dirty details of aWol personally bullying other nations to support going to war against Iraq. The frat-rat president mocked allies who balked, threatened trade reprisals, and threats to fire U.N. envoys. Well, he has weakened this country so much there is no danger of another American president bullying anyone into anything for a good long time, if ever again. Yeah, this is great! I love it when my country is run by the idiots I hated in high-school for being drunken, arrogant jerks. [/sarcasm]

Militia trouble is cropping up as the surge winds down After the bloody chaos of 2006, 2oo7 saw the coalition forces make deals with the devil as they armed and paid Sunni militiamen about ten bucks a day to rent their loyalty. The "Awakenings Councils" are largely credited with the decrease in violence over the last months. But the downside - the very existence of these groups has deepened political divisions in Iraq. Not only that, but now the relationships are going south rapidly. As one awakening commander put it in late February: "We'll all be patient for another two months. If nothing changes, then we'll suspend and quit. Then we'll go back to fighting the Americans."

Militia trouble is cropping up as the surge winds down II
Trouble isn't just brewing with Sunni militias. In the Shiite South, the the Jaish al-Mahdi fought the Iraqi Security Forces in Kut in a battle that started on Thursday night and lasted well into Friday. One Sadrist member of Parliament charged that the ISF was cracking down in the south in an attempt to keep Sadrists from making political gains in provincial elections to be held this fall. "They have no supporters in the central and southern provinces, but we do," Ahmed al-Massoudi told the AP. "If the crackdown against the Sadrists continues, we will begin consultations with other parliamentary blocs to bring down the government and replace it with a genuinely national one."

OK, Ace, spin this Certain frothing fuckwits on the right have been flapping their wings and squawking quite hysterically that McCain should never have corrected himself on the whole al Qaeda and Iran business. They have done some logical gymnastics to "prove" it, too. Thing is, these same foam-flecked lunatics are totally rock-star stricken by one David Petraeus, the modern-day Mars at whose feet they worship - and he isn't even singin' from that hymnal, let alone harmonizing with the Clueless Choir. It also makes me think that he wasn't all that thrilled with McCain jetting over to Iraq unannounced to chew him out for going off message with a realistic assessment a week or so ago. Or did Petraeus lose the unflagging devotion of his chickenhawk fanclub on the right when he started looking beyond Bush; and at his own career and his own legacy. Let me put it this way - he would rather be remembered alongside Eisenhower than mentioned in the same breath as Westmoreland, and that means he needs to start the damage control now.

Grover Norquist Hearts John McCain Go out right now and buy some flip-flops to take to the convention in Denver, because John McCain has sold his soul to the anti-tax whack jobs. (If I ever get to choose between drowning my government or drowning Grover Norquist in the bathtub, Grover is gurgling.) In 2001 and 2003, Senator John McCain voted against the Bush tax cuts, arguing that they hurt the middle class and they were too expensive in a time of war. In 2008, presidential candidate John McCain has done a complete one-eighty. Now, he doesn't just embrace them, he wants to extend them and expand them and put even more of the burden on the backs of the middle class. How much more, you might ask? Oh, just a mere two trillion over the next decade. Chump change, really. (This on top of Bush's three trillion dollar war that has been waged on credit extended by the Chinese.) Now, if we can just get tax rates to zero, receipts will approach infinity. Right?

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