Sunday, April 29, 2007

Tibet Activists Protest Beijing 2008 Olympics on Mt. Everest

Tenzin Dorjee holding a protest banner at EBC, Tibet.

This just in : a protest at the Mt. Everest base camp within Tibet. Took some courage to do this since detention by the Chinese is no joke:

"Kathmandu – Three Tibetan independence activists, including one Tibetan-American, were detained by Chinese authorities today after demonstrating and unfurling a banner reading "One World, One Dream, Free Tibet 2008" in English, and "Free Tibet" written in Tibetan and Chinese, at Mount Everest.

The protest was held on the eve of the International Olympic Committee's announcement of the final Beijing 2008 Olympic torch relay route and as a Chinese team of climbers prepared a trial ascent of the mountain. If approved, China will take the torch over Mount Everest and through Tibet, a move that Tibetans and their supporters decry as offering international approval to China's brutal occupation of Tibet."

........"the detained activists are Tenzin Dorjee, male, 27, a Tibetan American and three Americans, Kirsten Westby, female, 29, Shannon Service, female, 31 and Laurel Mec Sutherlin, male, 29, all four from USA. They have been detained and interrogated for demonstrating and unfurling a banner reading "One World, One Dream, Free Tibet 2008" in English, and "Free Tibet" written in Tibetan and Chinese, at EBC, Tibet to protest the proposed taking of Beijing Olympic torch over Mount Everest and through Tibet. Is it not yet known whether these activists have been released after interrogation or taken into custody for further interrogation."

see also: Four Tibet activists held at Mt. Everest base camp

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Walking the plank for Iraq

Here's an interesting little squib from the latest issue of US News and World Report, which is usually too conservative to my taste, but Washington Whispers, and Inside the White House often have many juicy items:

Staying the Course Toward Shipwreck

"Pollster Stan Greenberg says that President Bush's arguments in favor of his Iraq policy have been effective only with conservatives so far, not with a wider audience of Americans. Only 35 percent of the voters support his "surge" of extra troops into Iraq-mainly conservatives, Greenberg says. "He's lost the country on that," adds the Democratic pollster. "Now it's all about the base." Greenberg believes that because Republicans are "walking the plank" for the president on Iraq, this makes them vulnerable in 2008. But the situation also presents difficult challenges for the Democrats, because Americans understand the dangerous consequences of withdrawal. But, says the pollster, if the United States is still in Iraq on Election Day 2008, "it will be a very big win for the Democrats, a tsunami."

"W" just extended tours of duty to 15 months. At present casualty rates, by this time next year 4293 US soldiers will be dead, and by then likely 30,000 US wounded.( 26,188 US as of 2/07)

Meanwhile, the Maliki govt. is making no moves towards even sitting down and talking with the Sunni's. There was some recent talk of a conference in Turkey, but none of the factions wanted to go there.

As I have noted before the Sunnis and Shiites have been living in the same Mesopotamian area for over 900 years, so it is the height of folly to believe the US can resolve their rancor within 5 or ten years by being an occupation force. Basically, at some point its up to them, if they want to indulge in civil war.

It is very sad, very sad, that by summer of 2008, we will have lost over 4000. And Iraqi civilians, something like 31 a day.

The war in Iraq at present has become like Gallipoli, a military blunder where the Allies kept pouring in troops for a year, to no effect.

I am so angered at the Republicans, that if they want to walk the plank, I'll be there clapping my hands. But what a price to pay, likely 4773 dead by November 08. I would rather those troops, not already dead, get to come back alive.

I suppose one small thing we can do is let out representatives know that there should be some conference, say at a neutral site like Cyprus, where Sunni and Shiite representatives actually sit down and just keep talking to reach some sort of solution they can live with. The 'surge' and extended tours of duty, just keeps our troops there indefinitely acting as a shield for the Shiites, using the US troops to die , while hurting Sunnis, as payback for their sufferings under Saddam. Not good, not good. Very disturbing. Anyway, my thoughts on the subject, and btw I recommend reading Imperial Life in the Emerald City as an eye opener, if nothing else. Also Blood Money: Wasted Billions, Lost Lives, and Corporate Greed in Iraq
by T. Christian Miller.

Okay, my vent. Sorry, if it is a little hard core, but it is one of the things happening in the larger world we live in. I am curious how others feel.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Progress in Iraq -NOT!

Recently John Stewart on the Daily Show put together a series of clips of President Bush citing progress in Iraq:

" George W. Bush, January 2006: "There's progress. And it's important progress and it's an important part of our strategy to win in Iraq."
Bush, November 2005: "Iraq is making incredible political progress."
Bush, October 2005: "Iraqis are making inspiring progress."
Bush, September 2005: "Iraq has made incredible political progress."
Bush, April 2005: "I believe we're making good progress in Iraq."
Bush, March 2005: "We're making progress."
Bush, September 2004: "We're making steady progress."
Bush, July 2003: "We're making progress. It's slowly but surely making progress."

Actually, y'know what I think the president's problem is? Perhaps his definition of the word "progress." I have the reference book he uses when he doesn’t know what a word means: Mistaken P. Wrongingston's Diktionary of English. Let's see...ah, here we are. "Progress: Chaos caused by one's own incompetence that's portrayed as the result of others' malfeasance." ---The Daily Show "

Meanwhile as Phillip Carter concludes in an article over at Slate- Plan FUBAR:

" To sum up, it's more than a bit disingenuous to cast today's debate as one of Plan A versus Plan B. In fact, we've seen at least five major strategies implemented in Iraq, and all have failed, creating a legacy of bad blood that undermines our continuing efforts. Much of this failure owes to the naive belief that we can impose our will on the Iraqi people through our strategies, or win their support with a combination of security and reconstruction.

Gen. Petraeus and his brain trust have devised the best possible Plan F, given the resources available to the Pentagon and declining patience for the war at home. But the Achilles heel of this latest effort is the Maliki government. It is becoming increasingly clear to all in Baghdad that its interests—seeking power and treasure for its Shiite backers—diverge sharply from those of the U.S.-led coalition. Even if Gen. Petraeus' plan succeeds on the streets of the city, it will fail in the gilded palaces of the Green Zone. Maliki and his supporters desire no rapprochement with the Sunnis and no meaningful power-sharing arrangement with the Sunnis and the Kurds. Indeed, Maliki can barely hold his own governing coalition together, as evidenced by the Sadr bloc's resignation from the government this week and the fighting in Basra over oil and power.
Plan F will fail if (or when) the Maliki government fails, even if it improves security.

At that point, we will have run out of options, having tried every conceivable strategy for Iraq. It will then be time for Plan G: Get out."


Sunday, April 15, 2007

Imperial Life in the Emerald City

I just finished reading Imperial Life in the Emerald City by Rajiv Chandrasekaran. It is well written and an easy read.
Here is a short summary about it from Publishers Weekly via, and I quote:

"As the Baghdad bureau chief for the Washington Post, Chandrasekaran has probably spent more time in U.S.-occupied Iraq than any other American journalist, and his intimate perspective permeates this history of the Coalition Provisional Authority headquartered in the Green Zone around Saddam Hussein's former palace. He presents the tenure of presidential viceroy L. Paul Bremer between May 2003 and June 2004 as an all-too-avoidable disaster, in which an occupational administration selected primarily for its loyalty to the Bush administration routinely ignored the reality of local conditions until, as one ex-staffer puts it, "everything blew up in our faces." Chandrasekaran unstintingly depicts the stubborn cluelessness of many Americans in the Green Zone—like the army general who says children terrified by nighttime helicopters should appreciate "the sound of freedom." But he sympathetically portrays others trying their best to cut through the red tape and institute genuine reforms. He also has a sharp eye for details, from casual sex in abandoned offices to stray cats adopted by staffers, which enable both advocates and critics of the occupation to understand the emotional toll of its circuslike atmosphere. Thanks to these personal touches, the account of the CPA's failures never feels heavy-handed"

It adds to growing list of books about the early failures of the Bush Policy in Iraq, and it primarily covers the period from 2003 thru 2005.
It does not focus so much on the war itself, but the Coalition Provisional Authority and life in the Green Zone.

To read it is to become aware of the stupefying level of incompetence, cronyism, corruption, and cultural unawareness, of the personnel under Bremer, and of how Rumsfeld and Cheney, were influencing choices entirely through their own pre-conceived notions, and idealogical rigidities.

I found it to be a book hard to put down, as Rajiv has so many inside stories, it makes intriguing reading. Well worth your time, if you want to know how your tax dollars were wasted and mispent.

Sunday, April 08, 2007


For posterity's sake I am going to go ahead and post a whole article from a foreign newspaper. Found it on Goggle news under the title:

Iraq's alleged prewar ties to al Qaeda discredited

"Saddam Hussein's regime was not directly in cooperation with al Qaeda before the US invasion of Iraq, according to a declassified Defense Department report. Captured Iraqi documents and intelligence interrogations of Saddam Hussein and two former aides "all confirmed" that, the report said. The declassified version of the report, by acting Inspector General Thomas F. Gimble, also contains new details about the intelligence community's prewar consensus. It shows that the Iraqi government and al Qaeda figures had only limited contacts, and about its judgments that reports of deeper links were based on dubious or unconfirmed information, The Washington Post reported yesterday.

The Pentagon report had been released in summary form in February, the newspaper said. The Pentagon report's release came on the same day that Vice President Dick Cheney, appearing on a radio program, repeated his allegation that al Qaeda was operating inside Iraq "before we ever launched" the war, under the direction of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the terrorist killed last June.

"This is al Qaeda operating in Iraq," Cheney said about Zarqawi, who he said had "led the charge for Iraq." Cheney cited the alleged history to illustrate his argument that withdrawing US forces from Iraq would "play right into the hands of al Qaeda."

Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl M. Levin (D-Mich.), who requested the report's declassification, said in a written statement that the complete text demonstrates more fully why the inspector general concluded that a key Pentagon office -- run by then-Undersecretary of Defense Douglas J. Feith -- had inappropriately written intelligence assessments before the March 2003 invasion, alleging connections between al Qaeda and Iraq that the US intelligence consensus disputed.

The report, in a passage previously marked secret, said Feith's office had asserted in a briefing given to Cheney's chief of staff in September 2002 that the relationship between Iraq and al Qaeda was "mature" and "symbiotic," marked by shared interests and evidenced by cooperation across 10 categories, including training, financing and logistics.

Instead, the Pentagon report said, the CIA had concluded in June 2002 that there were few substantiated contacts between al Qaeda operatives and Iraqi officials and had said that it lacked evidence of a long-term relationship like the ones Iraq had forged with other terrorist groups.

The CIA had separately concluded that reports of Iraqi training on weapons of mass destruction were "episodic, sketchy, or not corroborated in other channels," the inspector general's report said. It quoted an August 2002 CIA report describing the relationship as more closely resembling "two organizations trying to feel out or exploit each other" rather than cooperating operationally.

The CIA was not alone, the defense report emphasized. The Defense Intelligence Agency had concluded that year, that "available reporting is not firm enough to demonstrate an ongoing relationship" between the Iraqi regime and al Qaeda, it said.

But the contrary conclusions reached by Feith's office -- and leaked to the conservative Weekly Standard magazine before the war-- were publicly praised by Cheney as the best source of information on the topic, a circumstance the Pentagon report cites in documenting the impact of what it described as "inappropriate" work. "

What we have here is another example of the Cheney disinformation machine at work. He cobbles together just enough facts to suit the results that he wants, and spins it enough times so they in his own blood-thinned brain he likely thinks it is true. Who cares what the CIA, or DIA, or the Pentagon concludes.

Another recent exampe was Valerie Plame's sworn testimony before Congress, where she said that there was no substance to the statement that she was the one who sent her husband, Joe Wilson to Niger.

That had been a Republican talking point all through the early years of the Libby leak case. It was spun from Cheney and his office from the very beginning of the controversy. More Cheney disinformation.

I myself think Cheney is quite delusional, perhaps brought on , by him taking inordinate amounts of blood thinner. I also think it is important to take note of all the disinformation and outright lies he puts out.

Meanwhile in an article at the Pacific Free Press entiled :
Bush, Narcissus, and the Military Parasites I came across this neat little paragraph:

"Behaving as if their country was a banana republic, they put into the office an unread, ill-traveled, inarticulate, crude, callous, mean-spirited, trouble-making, revenge-seeking, Vietnam-evading, incompetent, loud-mouthed, cheap-shot, but consistently-bailed-out narcissist — largely because Bush and his propagandists proclaimed he had found God. "

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Hunter S. Thompson's mantle

Over at Rolling Stone magazine Matt Taibbi has taken up the mantle of Hunter S. Thompson with his Road Rage and Low Post articles:
Here is a few paragraphs from a Road Rage article of 3/22 which is not published online, so I can't link to it. The title of it was : Dick has a tough week.

" Amid all the spineless calculating toadies who road Bush's coattails to tit Cabinet jobs and fat Iraq contracts, Cheney is the one guy who genuinely believes in all of this bullshit. This has been his show all along and who else's could it have been really?

His counterpart, the president , after all is a snivling egomaniac trapped for all eternity in some unseemly infantile phase of personality development-and while W.'s hang ups are sufficiently incurable to keep him safely in denial in the face of abject failure and international outrage, there is no way the tortured vibes emanating from his id were ever purposeful or articulate enough to drive the world's greatest army across the ocean into Mesopotamia.

No, it had to be the indomitable will of a sinister Machiavellian creature like Cheney that made this Iraq disaster happen. Only that kind of personality could be capable of manipulating the intelligence community into signing off on bogus career-wrecking analyses and orchestrating from afar an absurd dog-and-pony show like the Hans Blix/U.N. inspections fiasco. Only a true believer like Cheney could steer this many huge bureaucracies so far off the cliff.

At every step of the way, the most brazen lies about Iraq were always Cheney's. It was Chaney who said unequivocally that Iraq had a nuclear program, Cheney who said the insurgency was in its "last throes," Cheney who said Iraq was the " geographic base" of the terrorists who hit us on 9/11...
And it was Cheney who said, with the assurance of either a sleepwalker or a psychopath or both, " I have not suggested there's a connection between Iraq and 9/11."

I try to check out Taibbi's The Low Post every week. Check at your library for Rolling Stone and past Road Rages.