I am going up to Hibbing to see my aunt's Dylan documentary until Saturday afternoon and probably won't have time to post until Sunday.
A tantalizing nugget: my friend's dad stumbled across a massive embezzlement scheme in the Chicago branch of the Head Start education program. This is only now coming into public view and I will try to get something real on it later.
So the Administration wants to eat reporters who spill classified information. This lends itself to a new strategy: classify everything embarrassing and evil. Now that's your tax dollars at work!
Wednesday night I was hanging out with some folks soon parting ways with Minnesota, and it was a good time. In exchange for a nice old hat, various objects were offered for barter, including a Krazy Kat book. Krazy Kat was a weird old comic from the 1920s that has reached a kind of Major Art status, while really it's just pretty weird. I noticed that Itchy & Scratchy seems to be kind of based on it, including the cat's androgynous quality. Anyway.
Finally a Democrat in the House is getting busted for a scandal. Poor Jefferson was caught taking major cash in a pretty blunt kind of way and they're saying indictments next month, yet there is a big ruckus from Republicans after the FBI searched his Congressional office and took boxes of documents. Due to the bipartisan uproar, Bush has sealed the docs from the FBI, at least temporarily.
It's an interesting case. I feel that Republicans are a bit terrified that a potential future Democratic president could find evidence of all kinds of illegal stuff in their offices. For the whole history of this country, the executive hasn't been able to storm these places (or had the guts to). I tend to think that this is appropriate, that there ought to be a sphere of immunity of some sort to protect Congress from the executive. On the other hand, I would like to see Hastert, DeLay and all the other homies get nailed for all their Abramoff corruption. Just because you're in Congress doesn't mean you're above the law. Laura Rozen asks, is it panic?
But, what if (and certainly this has happened), member X has lots of evidence proving that Gonzales is a lawbreaker himself, that Rummy is a psychopath who permits war crimes, that Cheney helped channel Halliburton contracts and Porter Goss partied with hookers at the Watergate for a decade? In other words, what if I had Sen. Carl Levin's file cabinet? Well, that file cabinet would serve as a crucial check in the pretty corrupt system we've got now, and it seems clear that the founders intended to privilege stuff like that file cabinet. I also think that it should be impossible to charge Rep. Cynthia McKinney for slapping that Capitol police officer (in particular since it's been said that the Capitol police corps have been taken over by southern GOP good-ol-boy sheriff types).
We should note that the great Joseph McCarthy could not be sued for all the crazy slanderous and libelous garbage he puked onto the floor of the Senate during the 1950s, because, well, it was his constitutional right as a Senator to say plainly false and libelous things there. If the legislative branch gets under that kind of pressure, well, they will be 'chilled' in the legal speech sense, and it's curtains for that supposedly equal branch of the government. Never forget that people with their hands on executive power don't necessarily care about the truth, but they'll try to silence those who get in their way. McKinney has been a pretty vocal anti-imperialist (not to mention 9/11 skeptic), despite her silly style, and that whole thing reeks of an effort to kill the messenger. Movin' on.
Al Gore stares into the distance: From New York magazine, via the Brad Blog:
Does he, like many Democrats, think the election was stolen?
Gore pauses a long time and stares into the middle distance. "There may come a time when I speak on that,” Gore says, "but it’s not now; I need more time to frame it carefully if I do.” Gore sighs. "In our system, there’s no intermediate step between a definitive Supreme Court decision and violent revolution."
Later, I put the question of Gore’s views on the matter to David Boies, his lawyer in the Florida-recount battle. "He thought the court’s ruling was wrong and obviously political," Boies says. So he considers the election stolen? "I think he does—and he’s right."
Brad Blog was a leading place for tracking the election fraud in Ohio, and while I don't read regularly, it's well done.
Check out Wot is it Good 4 by Lukery, which has especially followed the case of former FBI translator Sibel Edmonds - with its bizarre stories of drug money laundering, 9/11 links, FBI corruption, the whole bit. Sibel herself (official site), under many federal gag orders, has said that Lukery has been able to digest the known facts of the case better than anyone else. There's fresh stuff on a daily basis. For example, if you want to get waist-deep in some weird defense contractor shit, connected laterally with Manucher Ghorbanifar, Rep. Curt Weldon (of Able Danger fame), plus Edmonds' belief that Weldon has been kind of duped about some of the fake Iraq intelligence, well this story is what you need, and this one about some kind of corrupt link between neoconservatives, Turkey and military-industrial defense contractors, which Edmonds is also tied up in, another good one. Read this and trip out: Bing Bang Boom Shazam. The Edmonds case is way under the radar, extremely weird, but it seems to connect to the AIPAC scandal, Chalabi and the fake Iraq intelligence, some kind of secret 9/11 financing arrangements, drug money laundering, Turkish spies, and perhaps illegal money in the campaign coffers of people like Rep. Dennis Hastert. Or maybe not (Hastert is getting sucked into the Abramoff scandal, either way). I think at some point, Sibel Edmonds will finally break out into a major scandal and I'd like to say that we got a bit of the early word out here. SourceWatch on Sibel Edmonds too. (tiny side note: Lukery suggests this woman's skillful negotiation sites)
But who are Sibel Edmonds, Curt Weldon, Able Danger and what do these have to do with 9/11?? Fortunately in the expanding field of 9/11 conspiracy videos, a new one introduces these issues in an accessible way. Check out Everybody's Gotta Learn Sometime. I thought it was better than Loose Change, in terms of consisting of actual information and loose ends. However it doesn't have as many fun video clips. It has a pretty good introduction to the Able Danger, the pre-9/11 military intelligence project that apparently pinpointed some of the hijackers, and then was abruptly shut down with its terabytes of records vaporized. But ironically the problem perhaps might have been that it was based on illegal data mining?
Chinese spy update: Pretty cool stuff on the next hurrah about Katrina Leung, a pro-Republican Chinese spy who is basically getting let off by the Justice Department. She admitted tipping off the Chinese to the identities of FBI agents investigating nuclear sales to China (which mighta been tied to Iran-contra - whew). Evidently, she fed disinformation to the FBI to go after the unfortunate scientist Wen Ho Lee.
OS X operating system design: Check out this Flash animation if you want to know how OS X is structured internally. This guy's book will kick ass if you are into kernel hacking.
Israel claims Iran gets nukes in "months": My Ass. Antiwar.com's Raimondo, in a column bitching about the Iran badge story, the peripheral Israeli connections to the fake Iraq intelligence, and new and shiny paranoia from Israel about Iran, notes that well, Israel is definitely going to jerk the U.S. down this path.
AIPAC notes: I thought this was a good writeup about the power of the Israel lobby from Stephen Zunes: FPIF Special Report: The Israel Lobby: How Powerful is it Really? He points out an interesting example of a Congressman, who, when challenged about his heavily anti-Palestinian votes, basically says that the Jews made him do it for fear of losing fundraising, but even after he announces he won't run again, he still votes against Palestinians. The Jews are just - wait for it - a scapegoat for his actual anti-Arab bias. And of course there's the basic fact that Bush depends a lot more on the hardcore rightwing (and often apocalyptic) Christian Zionists that Jewish ones.
Misc notes: Watch Lazy Ramadi, a video from some troops with a video camera. You won't regret it.
Sidney Blumenthal notes Iraq is doomed. Of course, it has literally the most corrupt government ever created (although maybe DC actually wins that right now). Duly noted by the brave Patrick Cockburn:
Iraq is disintegrating as ethnic cleansing takes hold:
Across central Iraq, there is an exodus of people fleeing for their lives as sectarian assassins and death squads hunt them down. At ground level, Iraq is disintegrating as ethnic cleansing takes hold on a massive scale.
By Patrick Cockburn in Khanaqin, North-East Iraq (20 May)
The state of Iraq now resembles Bosnia at the height of the fighting in the 1990s when each community fled to places where its members were a majority and were able to defend themselves. "Be gone by evening prayers or we will kill you," warned one of four men who called at the house of Leila Mohammed, a pregnant mother of three children in the city of Baquba, in Diyala province north-east of Baghdad. He offered chocolate to one of her children to try to find out the names of the men in the family.
Mrs Mohammed is a Kurd and a Shia in Baquba, which has a majority of Sunni Arabs. Her husband, Ahmed, who traded fruit in the local market, said: " They threatened the Kurds and the Shia and told them to get out. Later I went back to try to get our furniture but there was too much shooting and I was trapped in our house. I came away with nothing." He and his wife now live with nine other relatives in a three-room hovel in Khanaqin.
The same pattern of intimidation, flight and death is being repeated in mixed provinces all over Iraq. By now Iraqis do not have to be reminded of the consequences of ignoring threats.
I liked this list from Juan Cole:
There are now four distinct wars going on in Iraq simultaneously
1) The Sunni Arab guerrilla war to expel US troops from the Sunni heartland
2) The militant Shiite guerrilla war to expel the British from the south
3) The Sunni-Shiite civil war
4) The Kurdish war against Arabs and Turkmen in Kirkuk province, and the Arab and Turkmen guerrilla struggle against the encroaching Peshmerga (the Kurdish militia).
The struggle of the Turkmen is starting to branch out into Turkey. Note how Turkey is now red on the lovely Reuters map, seems ominous:
Kurds say Turkish shells land in Iraq, Turkey denies: By Sherko Raouf
SULAIMANIYA, Iraq, May 17 (Reuters) - The government of Iraq's autonomous Kurdistan region accused Turkish forces of shelling an area inside northern Iraq on Wednesday.
A Turkish government official dismissed the accusation as "total fabrication."
Ankara traditionally launches a spring offensive against Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) guerrillas in southeastern Turkey, an area which borders Iraq.
Earlier this month, villagers in Iraq's Kurdistan accused neighbouring Iran of hitting targets inside Iraq, a charge Tehran denied.
Khaled Salih, a senior official of the Kurdish regional government in Arbil, said by telephone that no one was hurt when three shells slammed into a mountainous area close to the town of Kani Masi a few km (miles) inside Iraq.
"A village ... has been bombarded from the Turkish side. There were no casualties, but there was material damage," Salih told Reuters. "This is the second time in a week villages have been bombarded in the north."
"We will report this to the government in Baghdad so that they can contact the Turkish government and ask for an explanation," he said.
Salih said there were no PKK fighters in the area where the shells landed. NATO member Turkey has stationed some 1,500 troops stationed inside northern Iraq since the late 1990s when it launched regular raids into the region to hunt PKK fighters.
In Turkey, a government official told Reuters: "This is not true ... All the measures are on our side of the border." Turkey has sent 40,000 troops to its own Kurdish areas to reinforce the 220,000 already there, the biggest build-up in years after an increase in PKK attacks.
The PKK, seeking a Kurdish homeland including southeastern Turkey, accuses Ankara and Tehran of mounting coordinated operations against the group and its Iranian wing, PJAK.
NSA Total My Phone Bill Awareness: Crusty CIA veteran Ray McGovern rails against NSA monitoring of Americans. Sy Hersh with a few bits and pieces on the NSA situation. Congressional Quarterly reports on mysterious data links between Homeland Security and the NSA. TPMM observes how DOJ sends out TONS of subpoenas for data daily, apparently outside of judicial oversight. National Security Letters. Someday, the Letter will come for you (or more likely, me). TPMM also looks at how there is a cottage industry of companies that handle all our phone records, passing them from the telcos to the government, allowing AT&T to claim that they aren't giving Big Brother the records directly. Check this: Fuck NeuStar, the "scapegoat" for hire.
Billmon hung out in Egypt for some conference. Egypt is autocratic, the Teflon pharaoh. I like that phrase.
As always, Prof. Cole is the go-to man for direct analysis of the situation and Arab media. He also follows up further on the fake Iran Jew Badge story. Firedoglake traces back the root of the fake Badge story. The National Post had to retract the story:
Last Friday, the National Post ran a story prominently on the front page alleging that the Iranian parliament had passed a law that, if enacted, would require Jews and other religious minorities in Iran to wear badges that would identify them as such in public. It is now clear the story is not true. Given the seriousness of the error, I felt it necessary to explain to our readers how this happened.
Then, of course, the bastards require you to register to read the rest. Fuck! (this early, erroneous bit on the badge story struck me for its interesting historical content, but also classic pompous ignorati*-style writing)[ * "Ignorati" has been trademarked by Mordred]
We noted earlier a report about 200,000 AK-47s from Bosnia, that were purchased by the US for the Iraqi security forces, but now there are more reports that the AKs basically vanished and are now in the hands of insurgents because of - you guessed it - private defense contractors!! BBC reports on how the guns that ruined Yugoslavia are getting dumped straight into the Iraqi civil war.
Ah, the irony of how shitty neoconservatism worked out to be.
Murray Waas reports that Rove and Novak may have hatched a conspiracy to cover up the Valerie Plame leak (via TPMM):
On September 29, 2003, three days after it became known that the CIA had asked the Justice Department to investigate who leaked the name of covert CIA officer Valerie Plame, columnist Robert Novak telephoned White House senior adviser Karl Rove to assure Rove that he would protect him from being harmed by the investigation, according to people with firsthand knowledge of the federal grand jury testimony of both men. . . .
Rove and Novak, investigators suspect, might have devised a cover story to protect Rove because the grand jury testimony of both men appears to support Rove's contentions about how he learned about Plame.
Chinese PCs feared to be bugged: There's always time for Sinophobia.
Blockquotes are plagarism?! Plagarism Today (what a name for a site) talks about how the practice of blockquoting from other sources is really the new plagarism. I think that's a bit retarded since if you're naming your source, it's not plagarism at all. However, there are sites that exclusively skim off content and pass it as their own for spamming purposes. There are actually Hongpong.com fragments on spam sites out there. We blockquote a lot here, but damn, no one can read the whole damn Internet themselves! It seems like a silly argument, but on the other hand, the game ought to be about original content. However, I like to put lots of sources in here, since, well, you gotta at least weigh their credibility apart from mine in order for my arguments to sink in. Anyway, slashdot reacts.
Long ass random post. However more than enough stuff to keep anyone busy for a while. True?