Let's waste some time

For real, I am digging around very seriously for a job today. It's my birthday tomorrow, but I really need to make sure that the coming year has the kind of stability and confidence that the last year just really hasn't had at all. And by that, I mean full time work that will get me away from wasting my time with such really productive hobbies as this site. But hey that ain't yet, so lets waste some time:

Without BAGNewsNotes, where would we get such photos? Since politics is all images these days, its nice such a site specifically checks out the visual side: Psychology Watch: The Obvious Boy For Next Secretary Of Defense:

Lieberman barney1

Nuclear gas release in Prairie Island containment vessel: A story from that new Twin Cities Daily Planet site, which sort of left ambiguous the nature of a recent nuclear leak down in Red Wing:

Prairie Island accident raises questions: A nuclear industry watchdog group Tuesday called the May 5 accident at the Prairie Island nuclear plant in which 100 workers were contaminated with radioactive iodine the most serious release of radiation there in 20 years and raised questions about the federal reporting process.

My understanding from the article is that the gas never got outside the containment vessel... The wording is a bit hazy, but the Daily Planet just started up, so they've got a couple kinks to get out. I admire the clever structure of the new Twin Cities news aggregating / indie features site, though, and I wish 'em the best.

Macalester alumni mag faces Scrotum-gate: I had declined to speak of this on the Internet but then they covered it in the Mac Weekly. Basically one of the Bad Comedy boys got his balls into a group photo that was submitted to Mac's fawning glossy alumni magazine. This was a brilliant maneuver in every sense, and a good (wait for it) extension of Bad Comedy's nudity-tinged oeuvre. I'd heard some rumors of this conspiracy in advance and I'm glad it went off well.

Obnoxious 'faux liberal' Washington Post columnist complains about angry bloggers: complaining about the 'anger' factor is just another way to deflect from the substance. In this case, it was Cohen's whining about how Colbert shouldn't have dared ruffle those mega-eagle feathers, which set off some pissed off emails. Digby: "In case Cohen hasn't noticed nobody on the fucking planet likes squishy faux liberal courtiers." And Salon's Daou Report on that and on the DailyKos.

Random as hell: (but seemed interesting enough): Old Afghan warlord Gulbuddin Hekmatyar "vows allegiance to bin Laden". Actually I thought this was old news, but it's interesting he's still kicking around since the old days when Reagan helped him fight the commies and pretty much everyone else. Tariq Ali on Iran. Muqtada al-Sadr wants to model the Mahdi Army on Hezbollah, which is a logical progression from boisterous militia to political party with lotsa guns and social services. AlJazeera.com (not affiliated with the TV network): Handicapped U.S. intel. on Iran challenges new CIA man.

This interview with the frontman of Godsmack about why the hell they sold songs into military recruiting commercials is pretty funny, if sad. (via Firedoglake)

"America's Geopolitical Nightmare and Eurasian Strategic Energy Arrangements" by F. William Engdahl from the idiosyncratic Centre for Research on Globalization, which always has interesting things. "The Next World War" from Antiwar.com's Justin Raimondo.

Suddenly all these guys, Joe Biden among them, are saying "let's just break Iraq in three" and feeling clever about themselves. I think that's a bit insane, but hardly surprising. George Packer, a skilled journalist, says in the New Yorker:

The choice in Iraq should not be between the Administration’s failed eschatology and the growing eagerness of most politicians to be rid of the problem.

Nobody likes Joe Lieberman, not even his supporters. Bizarre.

Jews Jeer Mehlman: JTA: Republican chairman booed at AJCommittee event:

The room burst into applause, however, when AJCommittee board member Edith Everett asked Mehlman to “take a message” to President Bush to stop linking Israel and Iran. “It does not help Israel and it does not help American Jews to appear to be stimulators of any action against Iran,” Everett said.

Something about Hitchens and Juan Cole: Noted rightwing drunkard Christopher Hitchens broke into a private email server where one of my favorite academics on the internet, Juan Cole, was explaining that the term "wipe Israel off the map" is an idiom that doesn't actually exist in Farsi, therefore every time you hear it, it's actually a distortion of meaning that serves war propaganda. Basically Hitchens published all these chunks of Cole's reasoning out of context in Slate, and this was a dick thing to do, since no one likes Hitchens, so he does this kind of B.S. hit piece. Anyway here is a bit about it. More here. As always, Cole's site is absolutely key.

Kos calls my boss a "wingnut": Teh sweet. Duly noted on the dailykos:

Last week I opened up in Minneapolis, where I got a ridiculously good reception. I started with a book signing at Arise Books, which is a small indy bookstore run by volunteers. I hadn't ever heard of anything like that before. The place was packed, and in the crowd was Fighting Dem Tim Walz in MN-01, who got a chance to update me on his race (which really is looking good). Also present was CW Wisconsin, who drove three hours for the event and left some great beer behind for me.

I did some radio, including wingnut radio on a show following Hannity. It was the first wingnut radio I'd done, since quite frankly, I'd rather not waste my time talking to people who won't buy my book anyway. But I had a blast batting around callers like a cat toying with a mouse. Seriously, what a bunch of morons.

Counter-AIPAC academics strike back: The Mearsheimer/Walt paper about the Israel Lobby and AIPAC has generated a predictable round of finger-pointing and scurrilous charges of anti-semitism, because they dared to directly dissect with blunt academic Neo-Realist style the way that A) Israel's right-wing policies are fully supported by the United States B) for totally irrational reasons that undermine our real national interests and C) no one is ever ever ever supposed to talk about this. Obviously it is a controversial topic to ramble on about, but not now. Anyway Mearsheimer and Walt wrote a big letter reacting to the reactions. These guys will have to sacrifice a lot in order to take on such a dicey topic, and we owe it to them to look at the matter carefully. But not now, damnit. Also there is an academic Freedom of Speech petition Juan Cole started against the charges of anti-semitism directed towards M&W.

Bits on CIA chief candidate Hayden: For some bizarre reason, Dennis Hastert is lashing out at John Negroponte for trying to do a "power play" by getting his deputy Hayden into running the CIA. I would recommend Steve Clemons' Washington Note stories on this matter, and the counter-intuitive "Misreading Michael Hayden's Role in the Intelligence Bureaucracy Wars: Negroponte Wants Hayden to Battle with -- Not Help -- Rumsfeld" (also noted here). The TPM muckies managed to link Hayden to Wilkes' corrupt MZM contractor. Check out Rozen following the case as well as Marshall. Tuesday, WaPo reports FBI probing Foggo's CIA contracts. The Sun reports Pentagon Is Winner Over CIA. Today, NY Times says Clash Foreseen Between C.I.A. and Pentagon.

Wayne Madsen - a peculiar journalist who used to be in the NSA, (read caveats about him in Wikipedia), well he doesn't like Michael Hayden one bit, and he has a lot of weird goods on the guy and the NSA generally. Check this this this this this and this for quite a trip down the rabbit hole. Madsen was the guy who stirred up that story that John Bolton was improperly reading NSA intercepts of Bill Richardson. Never got disproven.

 Mmpub Edt Ill 2006 04 28 H 4 Nuke-Iran-1000X50

Big Ol love letter from Ahmadinejad: It is a very interesting thing to read, and it seems to be targeted more at a Middle Eastern audience than the White House as such. NY Times on it here and Le Monde has the full letter here. By the way Steve Clemons also talks about this funny letter gambit. I would include more, but this is interesting by itself:

Mr President,

September Eleven was a horrendous incident. The killing of innocents is deplorable and appalling in any part of the world. Our government immediately declared its disgust with the perpetrators and offered its condolences to the bereaved and expressed its sympathies.

All governments have a duty to protect the lives, property and good standing of their citizens. Reportedly your government employs extensive security, protection and intelligence systems – and even hunts its opponents abroad. September eleven was not a simple operation. Could it be planned and executed without coordination with intelligence and security services – or their extensive infiltration? Of course this is just an educated guess. Why have the various aspects of the attacks been kept secret? Why are we not told who botched their responsibilities? And, why aren't those responsible and the guilty parties identified and put on trial?

All governments have a duty to provide security and peace of mind for their citizens. For some years now, the people of your country and neighbours of world trouble spots do not have peace of mind. After 9.11, instead of healing and tending to the emotional wounds of the survivors and the American people – who had been immensely traumatised by the attacks – some Western media only intensified the climates of fear and insecurity – some constantly talked about the possibility of new terror attacks and kept the people in fear. Is that service to the American people? Is it possible to calculate the damages incurred from fear and panic?

American citizen lived in constant fear of fresh attacks that could come at any moment and in any place. They felt insecure in the streets, in their place of work and at home. Who would be happy with this situation? Why was the media, instead of conveying a feeling of security and providing peace of mind, giving rise to a feeling of insecurity?

Some believe that the hype paved the way – and was the justification – for an attack on Afghanistan. Again I need to refer to the role of media. In media charters, correct dissemination of information and honest reporting of a story are established tenets. I express my deep regret about the disregard shown by certain Western media for these principles. The main pretext for an attack on Iraq was the existence of WMDs. This was repeated incessantly – for the public to, finally, believe – and the ground set for an attack on Iraq.

Will the truth not be lost in a contrive and deceptive climate? Again, if the truth is allowed to be lost, how can that be reconciled with the earlier mentioned values? Is the truth known to the Almighty lost as well?

[snip]........What has been said, are some of the grievances of the people around the world, in our region and in your country. But my main contention – which I am hoping you will agree to some of it – is : Those in power have specific time in office, and do not rule indefinitely, but their names will be recorded in history and will be constantly judged in the immediate and distant futures.

The people will scrutinize our presidencies.

Did we manage to bring peace, security and prosperity for the people or insecurity and unemployment? Did we intend to establish justice, or just supported especial interest groups, and by forcing many people to live in poverty and hardship, made a few people rich and powerful – thus trading the approval of the people and the Almighty with theirs'? Did we defend the rights of the underprivileged or ignore them? Did we defend the rights of all people around the world or imposed wars on them, interfered illegally in their affairs, established hellish prisons and incarcerated some of them? Did we bring the world peace and security or raised the specter of intimidation and threats? Did we tell the truth to our nation and others around the world or presented an inverted version of it? Were we on the side of people or the occupiers and oppressors? Did our administration set out to promote rational behaviour, logic, ethics, peace, fulfilling obligations, justice, service to the people, prosperity, progress and respect for human dignity or the force of guns. Intimidation, insecurity, disregard for the people, delaying the progress and excellence of other nations, and trample on people's rights? And finally, they will judge us on whether we remained true to our oath of office – to serve the people, which is our main task, and the traditions of the prophets – or not?

Well fine, then, Ahmadinejad better damn well figure a way out of this one now, if he is going to talk all altruistic and shit...

Very bad video games: Islamists using US video games in youth appeal (May 4)

 Us.I2.Yimg.Com P Nm 20060505 2006 05 04T180854 450X338 Us Security VideogamesWASHINGTON (Reuters) - The makers of combat video games have unwittingly become part of a global propaganda campaign by Islamic militants to exhort Muslim youths to take up arms against the United States, officials said on Thursday.

Tech-savvy militants from al Qaeda and other groups have modified video war games so that U.S. troops play the role of bad guys in running gunfights against heavily armed Islamic radical heroes, Defense Department official and contractors told Congress.

....Devlin spoke before the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, at which contractors from San Diego-based Science Applications International Corp., or SAIC, gave lawmakers a presentation that focused on Iraq as an engine for Islamic militant propaganda from Indonesia to Turkey and Chechnya.

....One of the latest video games modified by militants is the popular "Battlefield 2" from leading video game publisher, Electronic Arts Inc of Redwood City, California. Jeff Brown, a spokesman for Electronic Arts, said enthusiasts often write software modifications, known as "mods," to video games.

"Battlefield 2" ordinarily shows U.S. troops engaging forces from China or a united Middle East coalition. But in a modified video trailer posted on Islamic Web sites and shown to lawmakers, the game depicts a man in Arab headdress carrying an automatic weapon into combat with U.S. invaders.

"I was just a boy when the infidels came to my village in Blackhawk helicopters," a narrator's voice said as the screen flashed between images of street-level gunfights, explosions and helicopter assaults.

Then came a recording of President George W. Bush's September 16, 2001, statement: "This crusade, this war on terrorism, is going to take a while." It was edited to repeat the word "crusade," which Muslims often define as an attack on Islam by Christianity.

I think we all want to know which mods they are running. Are Islamic militants closing the American game-modding gap? Here in America, video games serve Freedom: "America's Army", literally a first-person shooter designed to indoctrinate the youth into joining the military. Better to spend that defense cash on manipulating teen pop culture and upping polygon counts, rather than body armor, I suppose. SAIC is shady, too, but I will let that go for now.

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