"If you understood everything I said, you'd be me" - Miles Davis
"There is much pleasure to be gained from useless knowledge." - Bertrand Russell
"Take away the right to say fuck and you take away the right to say fuck the government." - Lenny Bruce
"Facts are meaningless. You could use facts to prove anything that's even remotely true!" - Homer Simpson

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Bah Humbug
It's Seafair time again. This annual event brings many problems into my life. The Blue Angels will be closing down the I-90 bridge right when I need it on my busiest day. The Angels will also be violating every local noise ordinance, all in the name of national security, with the attendent terrorization of pets and the elderly. And my personal favorite: The U-district parade, which never fails to gridlock my neighborhood and fill every available parking space after a full day of work in insane heat. I have to agree with Freedom to Fuck where he quotes Sideshow Bob : "Air show? Buzz-cut Alabamians spewing colored smoke from their whiz jets to strains of Rock You Like A Hurricane?'what kind of countrified rube is still impressed by that?"

I've finally gotten around to upgrading to Blosxom 2.0. This means I have a working RSS feed- now I have to figure out what to do with it. I can also run the spiffy new Blosxom plugins, including goodness like comments and referrers. I've also cleaned up my HTML-or at least that was the plan.

The Chinese are Smoking too Many Cigarettes
Go read the new Mark Driver at lo-fi. Go Now

Uday and Qusay Hussein, Pt.#5
US army engineers and Iraqi workers have started demolishing the mansion where Saddam Hussein's sons Uday and Qusay were killed in a massive US military assault four days earlier.

"Demolition began today and it will take approximately 10 days," US Lieutenant Colonel Mike Rorex, from an engineer corps assigned to the 101st Airborne Division that led the raid said.

"The building is structurally unsound. Its a safety hazard."

Is it just me, or is this just too weird? With all the work that needs doing we're suddenly worried about the structural soundness of mansions? If the owner was the informant he's got a cool $30 million to spend on renovation. Suspicious minds might wonder if there are any ulterior motives to the removal of all traces of the site. And of course they might be wrong.

We're All Moving to Florida
Software flaws in a leading US electronic voting system could be used to subvert the outcome of an election, claim researchers from Johns Hopkins University and Rice University in the US.

The researchers went through every line of code used to control a voting machine made by Diebold Election Systems of Ohio, US. They reported finding serious bugs that could allow one person to cast many electronic votes.

"Common voters, without any insider privileges, can cast unlimited votes without being detected by any mechanisms within the voting system," the researchers say in their paper.


Raise Your Right Hand
P.L.A. is covering the Special Session of the Florida Legislature that was called to deal with the medical malpractice insurance "crisis". Some interesting testimony came to light when the Legislature took the unusual step of swearing in witnesses:

* "I am not aware of any instance where we said the problem was the enormous amount of frivolous lawsuits," said Jeff Scott, legal counsel for the FMA (Florida Medical Association).

* When Sandra Mortham of the Florida Medical Association testified, Campbell demanded to know why Mortham had blamed "frivolous lawsuits" for the rise in malpractice rates. "Certainly, I've never said that," replied Mortham, a former House member from Largo and the FMA chief executive officer. "I don't feel I have the information to say whether or not there are frivolous lawsuits in the state of Florida."

* A state regulator said no, there hasn't been an explosion of frivolous lawsuits.

*Witness after witness denied a crush of frivolous lawsuits has crippled the state's medical malpractice tort system.

* We fixed the frivolous lawsuit problem" in past legislative sessions, testified Bob White, president of First Professionals Insurance.

* Insurers didn't need a cap on jury awards to be profitable.

* State data shows malpractice claims have not skyrocketed and that Florida has more physicians than ever.

* There has been no sharp rise in medical malpractice settlements made by insurance companies.

* A state insurance regulator surprised senators by saying he often depended on insurance companies' information when deciding whether to raise rates.

*Contrary to stories of doctors quitting the business, the number of licensed doctors is increasing. A Health Department official said new applications for new medical licenses in Florida rose from 2,261 in fiscal 2000 to 2,658 in fiscal 2003.

*Bob White, president of First Professionals Insurance Co., the state's largest malpractice insurer, surprised senators by blaming rising premiums mainly on new medical technologies and procedures...

*The hearings also revealed that White's company pays $500,000 a year as an "endorsement fee" to the Florida Medical Association, the doctors group that rallied for the cap.

*First Professionals was lobbying for the damages cap at the same time it has "boasted to stockholders of its profits in Florida."

* The Florida Medical Association received $4.5 million in endorsements from insurance companies to lobby for tort reform. That represents about 10% of the FMA budget.

Might Come in Handy
Irish Cursing


The Rumsfield-Cheney axis has self-destructed right in front of our eyes, along with the once-proud Perle-Wolfowitz bund that is turning to wax. They somehow managed to blow it all, like a gang of kids on a looting spree, between January and July, or even less. It is genuinely incredible. The U.S. Treasury is empty, we are losing that stupid, fraudulent chickencrap War in Iraq, and every country in the world except a handful of Corrupt Brits despises us. We are losers, and that is the one unforgiveable sin in America.

Beyond that, we have lost the respect of the world and lost two disastrous wars in three years. Afghanistan is lost, Iraq is a permanent war Zone, our national Economy is crashing all around us, the Pentagon's "war strategy" has failed miserably, nobody has any money to spend, and our once-mighty U.S. America is paralyzed by Mutinies in Iraq and even Fort Bragg.

The American nation is in the worst condition I can remember in my lifetime, and our prospects for the immediate future are even worse. I am surprised and embarrassed to be a part of the first American generation to leave the country in far worse shape than it was when we first came into it. Our highway system is crumbling, our police are dishonest, our children are poor, our vaunted Social Security, once the envy of the world, has been looted and neglected and destroyed by the same gang of ignorant greed-crazed bastards who brought us Vietnam, Afghanistan, the disastrous Gaza Strip and ignominious defeat all over the world.

The Stock Market will never come back, our Armies will never again be No. 1, and our children will drink filthy water for the rest of our lives.

The Bush family must be very proud of themselves today, but I am not. Big Darkness, soon come. Take my word for it.


Uday and Qusay Hussein, Pt.#4
If I were the son of a sociopathic dictator and noted paranoid I think I would want my own look-a-likes just like dad. I could even have one of their dental records secretly substituted for mine, just in case. Though convincing my double to get into a firefight with the 101st Airborne might present some difficulties.

The Things I Wonder About
What happened to the Koran written in Saddam's blood?

Uday and Qusay Hussein, Pt.#3
Q: Thank you. General, I'd like to try and see if you could address more of the first question which we had from our colleague up front. The Americans are specialists in surrounding places, keeping people in them, holding up for a week, if necessary, to make them surrender. These guys only had, it appears, AK-47s, and you had immense amount of firepower. Surely, the possibility of the immense amount of information they could have given coalition forces, not to mention the trials that they could have been put on for war crimes, held out a much greater possibility of victory for you if you could have surrounded that house and just sat there until they came out, even if they were prepared to keep shooting.

GEN. SANCHEZ: Sir, that is speculation.

Next slide (sic).

Q: No, sir, it's an operational question. Surely you must have considered this much more seriously than you suggested.

GEN. SANCHEZ: Yes, it was considered, and we chose the course of action that we took.

Q: Why, sir?

GEN. SANCHEZ: Next slide -- or, next question, please.

Gosh, that certainly clears everything up for me.
Full General Sanchez Press Briefing

Uday and Qusay Hussein, Pt.#2, or Yea, What he Said
At that press conference there was a gentleman who asked an extremely important question which was answered by Sanchez with "that is speculation. Next question." I later found out that the man in front of me was Fisk and the question he asked which we all want to be answered was: why was the decision made to attack with a force that would have been capable of annihilating a city block? Why did they opt for killing them when they knew their importance as sources of information on all sorts of things and the wish all Iraqis have that they be put thru trial?
Fisk started the ball rolling, sanchez was asked the same question at least 5 times in different ways and with it the question of how to prove this to the Iraqi people. And what do we get? Meaningless militareses. Beyond disappointing.


Uday and Qusay Hussein.
The general said the mission began at 10 a.m. July 22 as a "cordon-and-knock operation," in which coalition troops secure an area then knock and ask if the individuals they are looking for are in the residence. In this instance, troops "knocked" using a bullhorn to order everyone out of the building. When they got no response, soldiers entered the home at 10:10 a.m. local time.

"Immediately upon entering the building, shots were fired," Sanchez said. "We immediately determined that the targeted individuals were barricaded in the fortified portion of the building, which was the second floor, and they started engaging with small arms," believed to be AK-47 rifles.

Three soldiers were injured on the stairs and another outside the building before the unit withdrew and called in a quick-reaction force and "heavy weaponry."

The injured soldiers were evacuated within minutes. At this point, ground commanders decided it was appropriate to "prep the objective prior to reentry," Sanchez said. In military speak, this means to use heavier firepower to make the situation safer for the soldiers on the ground. In this case, commanders called for the use of OH-58D Kiowa Warrior helicopters and their 2.75-inch rockets, Mark-19 grenade launchers, AT-4 rockets, and helicopter- and humvee- mounted .50-caliber machine guns.

At noon, the general explained, soldiers attempted entry again and again took fire from the second floor and chose to withdraw. Clearly, further "preparatory fires" were called for.

At 1 p.m., forces on the ground fired 10 tube-launched optically tracked wire- guided missiles, commonly called TOWs, into the house. "We believe that it is likely that the TOW missile attack was what wound up killing three of the adults," Sanchez said.

At this point, he explained, officials considered using heavier weapons, such as those on AH-64 Apache helicopters and Air Force A-10 Thunderbolt IIs, which were standing by, but decided against that course of action because of the risk of unintended damage to the surrounding neighborhood.

Twenty-one minutes later, forces again entered the home, took fire as they reached the second floor, and "killed the remaining individual."

Officials went to great lengths to confirm that two of the bodies were those of Uday and Qusay. Sanchez said that four separate senior members of the former regime identified the bodies independently, including number four on the list, Abid Hamid Mahmud, Saddam Hussein's personal secretary.

Officials studied x-rays that showed old wounds on one of the bodies were consistent with injuries Uday Hussein was known to have suffered in an earlier assassination attempt that left him partially paralyzed. Dental records also provided conclusive evidence of the identities of the two. Sanchez explained that because of damage to the body, dental records provided a 90 percent match for Uday. But dental records showed a 100 percent match for Qusay.


I certainly won't mourn the deaths of the Hussein brothers-they were loathsome wastes of skin who certainly deserved far worse. But we would have been far better served if we could have captured the dickheads alive. Iraqis are deeply suspicious and nothing says "Their asses are definitely grass" like trotting live post-overlords out for public viewing. Plus they could be put on trial for their crimes. They might even know where those darn WMDs are. So I have a couple of questions:
A: News reports have stated that U.S. forces surrounded the house/villa with over 200 soldiers. Couldn't they have been a little more patient and spent more than 3 hours trying to capture the brothers? I'm not suggesting more soldiers should have been risked, but what would be the downside of trying to outwait them?
B: How about tear gas?
C: How about methodically destroying the house by ramming it with tanks?
D: Why did we knock at 10am? Why not stake the house out until nightfall and enter covertly at 3am? If they try to run capturing them from vehicles would be easier than a semi-fortified house.
And the one thing I'd really like to know:
E: How the hell did we get their dental records?

Best Spam This Week
"This Guy is Insane" from "Salary Increase".
Oh yea, those two go together. They seem to be selling me a real estate investment plan. It must be OK, they're a "Member of the Real Estate Chamber".

The Ninth Ward
The staff of life in the Ninth Ward is the po-boy, limp with gravy, hot sauce and Blue Plate mayonnaise, washed down with a draft beer-no particular brand, as long as it's cheap. Dessert is a Hubig's Pie (388 calories), baked across the border in the Eighth Ward. Half the people are drunk by noon, a quarter suffer from vague but incapacitating diseases causing crusty skin inflammations and dementia, a third would rather endure root canals instead of missing their daily soap operas. Everybody is Catholic or a voodoo variant thereof. As the saying goes, people from the Ninth Ward don't mind dying, either because they've already had so much fun or because they'll try anything once.
Link Via Looka!

A Closer Look At Bush's Facts in the State of the Union
In this column, I will examine the publicly available evidence relating to this and other statements in the State of the Union concerning Saddam's WMDs. Obviously, I do not have access to the classified information the President doubtless relied upon. But much of the relevant information he drew from appears to have been declassified, and made available for inquiring minds.

What I found, in critically examining Bush's evidence, is not pretty. The African uranium matter is merely indicative of larger problems, and troubling questions of potential and widespread criminality when taking the nation to war. It appears that not only the Niger uranium hoax, but most everything else that Bush said about Saddam Hussein's weapons was false, fabricated, exaggerated, or phony.

Bush repeatedly, in his State of the Union, presented beliefs, estimates, and educated guesses as established fact. Genuine facts are truths that can be known or are observable, and the distance between fact and belief is uncertainty, which can be infinite. Authentic facts are not based on hopes or wishes or even probabilities. Now it is little wonder that none of these purported WMDs has been discovered in Iraq.

So egregious and serious are Bush's misrepresentations that they appear to be a deliberate effort to mislead Congress and the public. So arrogant and secretive is the Bush White House that only a special prosecutor can effectively answer and address these troubling matters. Since the Independent Counsel statute has expired, the burden is on President Bush to appoint a special prosecutor - and if he fails to do so, he should be held accountable by Congress and the public.

Via Metafilter

Don't Hold Back, Just Say What You Mean
There appears to be no end. There appears to be a limitless supply of lies and half-truths and misinformations BushCo can invent on the spot, and is now a good time to recall how Clinton was savaged and vilified and attacked and impeached because he lied about having big dumb sex with a rather unappealing intern?

And yet here is BushCo, openly and shamelessly lying about leading this nation into a vile and petroleum-drunk war, massacring tens of thousands, killing hundreds of U.S. soldiers (and counting), gutting the budget, favoring the rich with useless tax cuts, hiding and prevaricating and dodging and treated the First, Fourth, Fifth, Sixth and Eighth Amendments to the Constitution the way a crusty abusive Catholic priest treats an altar boy.

This is where you have to laugh. This is where you applaud. Stand up and cheer, for it has been a masterful performance, a rather unprecedented series of major cover-ups and well-orchestrated PR maneuvers and outright fabrications unmatched in recent history. Hell, the epic scale of BushCo's atrocities make Clinton's little oral-sex fixation seem like a jaywalking violation.

Is now the time? Is this is where we start to notice how it is all coming unraveled, Bush's snide web of lies just too flagrant and too insulting for too long, CIA directors and intelligence experts and military leaders and scientists and the like all coming forward now to refute any number of false BushCo claims, the chinks in the armor now becoming cracks and fissures and flubs and stumbles and ultimate raging implosions?

Is this why impeachment proceedings have yet to begin in earnest against BushCo? Because we're just too stunned, too frozen in disbelief at the mounting mountains of evidence that we have been duped and misled and lied to on a scale we can't really begin to assimilate? Could very well be.

Because the tower of lies, oh how it teeters, how it quivers, how it feels oh so ready to fall.

Now that is one fine rant.
Via BookNotes

New Art
new art

Go check out Billmon

I don't know if anyone else has noticed this, but the title Dude, Where's My Car? can be traced to a line in The Big Lebowski, when Sobchak asks Lebowski: "Where's your car, Dude?" And even though most of Dude, Where's My Car? makes even Bill and Ted seem like a subdued, autumnal work of the subtle Japanese master of cinema, Yasujiro Ozu, Dude has become a cult film, and the title of the movie alone is worth the price of admission. And coming in the year 2000, it clearly signaled that Dude would span the turn of the century. The totally awesome title of the sequel alone--Seriously, Dude, Where's My Car? (planned for release in 2004)--should insure that Dude lasts well into the new millennium.
All you might want (or need) to know about the word "Dude".
Via Kaedrin Weblog

Sausage attack: Faulty intelligence or none at all
Intelligence sources indicated that the Pirates might have "cooked" intelligence to justify the whacking of the Italian Sausage and might have misled baseball fans by misrepresenting the threat posed by the Italian Sausage. Others have suggested that the Pirates relied on either faulty intelligence or no intelligence whatsoever. "Really brainless," is how one official described the attack.

Such allegations gained credibility when it was revealed that the Pirates relied on documents they knew were forged to justify their attack on the Italian Sausage. Pirates envoy Joseph Wilson, who investigated claims that the Italian Sausage had illegally obtained onions and roasted peppers, said he reported that fact to the Pirates more than a year ago, but that the Pirates ignored it because it didn't justify the team's plans regarding the Italian Sausage.

The Pirates said they might have been mistaken about the Italian Sausage's attempts to acquire onions and roasted peppers, but they were confident that claims that the Italian Sausage had stockpiled large reserves of forbidden mustard and relish would prove to be true in coming months. The BBC has reported that British officials do not believe that any mustard or relish will be found in the Italian Sausage's possession.

Despite that, Pirates manager Lloyd McClendon said, "We are confident that evidence that the Italian Sausage had a mustard and relish program will surface. I know some of you think we said the Italian Sausage actually had mustard and relish. Whether it had them or not, it is revisionist history to suggest that the Italian Sausage did not pose a threat to the Pirates."

Meanwhile, the Pirates turned their attention to other encased meat products, warning the Bratwurst that it was concerned about the sausage's attempts to developed a beer-related cooking system.


Car Slobs Beware
RCW 70.93.100
Litter bags -- Design and distribution by department authorized -- Violations -- Penalties.

The department shall design and produce a litter bag bearing the statewide anti-litter symbol and a statement of the penalties prescribed herein for littering in this state. Such litter bags shall be distributed by the department of licensing at no charge to the owner of every licensed vehicle in this state at the time and place of license renewal. The department of ecology shall make such litter bags available to the owners of water craft in this state and shall also provide such litter bags at no charge at points of entry into this state and at visitor centers to the operators of incoming vehicles and watercraft. The owner of any vehicle or watercraft who fails to keep and use a litter bag in his vehicle or watercraft shall be guilty of a violation of this section and shall be subject to a fine as provided in this chapter.

[1981 c 260 15. Prior: 1979 c 158 219; 1979 c 94 6; 1971 ex.s. c 307 10.]

I couldn't quite believe this law existed, so I looked it up. Apparently it is illegal in Washington State to have a messy car. What's next, a sock-wearing requirement?

May I Humbly Present...
The Maryland Cow Nipple

I Have Got to Get a Digital Camera
Seen out on deliveries today:
3 fighter jets coming in LOW over I-5 to land at Boeing field.
A 6-foot-plus bald black man in a beige cocktail dress and ripped stockings.
The 2 kids walking their bikes with a live chicken standing on on of the seats.

Protected from Geography
A library child-porn filter prevents anyone from accessing the evil that is Toppenish, Wa.
Via The Null Device

The Dog Ate My WMDs
The scandal that laid Bill Clinton low centered around his lying under oath about sex. The scandal which took down Richard Nixon was certainly more profound, as he was accused of misusing the CIA and FBI to spy on political opponents while paying off people to lie about his actions. Lying under oath and misusing the intelligence community are both serious transgressions, to be sure. The matter of Iraq's weapons program, however, leaves both of these in deep shade.

George W. Bush and his people used the fear and terror that still roils within the American people in the aftermath of September 11 to fob off an unnerving fiction about a faraway nation, and then used that fiction to justify a war that killed thousands and thousands of people.

Latter-day justifications about 'liberating' the Iraqi people or demonstrating the strength of America to the world do not obscure this fact. They lied us into a war that, beyond the death toll, served as the greatest Al Qaeda recruiting drive in the history of the world. They lied about a war that cost billions of dollars which could have been better used to bolster America's amazingly substandard anti-terror defenses. They are attempting, in the aftermath, to misuse the CIA by blaming them for all of it.

Blaming the CIA will not solve this problem, for the CIA is well able to defend itself. Quashing investigations in the House will not stem the questions that come now at a fast and furious clip.

They lied. Period. Trust a teacher on this. We can spot liars who have not done their homework a mile away.

Via MemeMachineGo!

Ten Appalling Lies We Were Told About Iraq

LIE #8: "Our conservative estimate is that Iraq today has a stockpile of between 100 and 500 tons of chemical weapons agent. That is enough to fill 16,000 battlefield rockets." - Secretary of State Colin Powell, Feb. 5 2003, in remarks to the UN Security Council.

FACT: Putting aside the glaring fact that not one drop of this massive stockpile has been found, as previously reported on AlterNet the United States' own intelligence reports show that these stocks - if they existed - were well past their use-by date and therefore useless as weapon fodder.
Via Matt Welch

Color Me Geek
One of things that never fails to irk me is underestimation of the size of the galaxy. No sci-fi super-villain is content with ruling a few solar systems, or even a chunk of a spiral arm. Oh no, they have to rule the entire galaxy. This always gets my goat because the galaxy is huge beyond imagination. The Milky Way galaxy has some 200,000,000,000 stars, at least that many planets, and is 90,000 light years across. Running an empire on that sort of scale would require near-instantaneous teleportation and communication, and then you would have to deal with controlling a population of trillions with access to a galaxy-wide transportation network and Internet.
But I'm over-analyzing, because none of the shows or books that misuse the notion of "ruling the galaxy" give the reality of the situation a smidgen of thought.

My friends seem to be on a pottymouth kick. For your amusement and gratification-The Bad Motherfucker Wallet
Via the BigMoboDaddy

The Dog has Caught the Car, Pt. 2
Daily Kos has a sobering take on the growing mess (don't say "quagmire"!) in Iraq.

...Time and again, the Bush Administration was told: you need allies, you need help. They refused it, again and again. Now, Bremer, in his best Westmoreland circa 1966 mode, is begging for more men. He can't have them. Politically, it would be devestating, and tactically, it would only provide more targets without providing the security he needs to provide.

Our intelligence in Iraq is abysmal. CENTCOM officials are either lying or genuinely stating that they have no clue as to who we are fighting. I have no idea what is more frightening. But to not know who the enemy is after three months is amazing, and not in the good, naked woman on the bed way. It's clear that this resistance goes way beyond anything Saddam and his cronies could have cooked up. Because while the Baathists are taking their shots. average Iraqis are turning their backs. Some clearly are afraid of retribution, but there are many more who react with glee at every attack.

We are rounding up people in their sleep and taking 10 AK's in battalion and brigade sized sweeps. Use the combat power of a US battalion to grab, what, five sleepy guys and their rifles and the attacks grow? There may be up to one million potential guerrillas and supporters. Not only that, but the kids are tossing rocks and laughing at our wounded and dead. We are losing the population more and more each day.

The fatal error of Bush's "Bring 'em On" comment is that besides its cheap talk and bully posturing, is that it isn't true. We cannot handle what they're throwing at us. We don't know who they are and we aren't killing them in number. They wound and kill Americans every day and escape. They aren't being killed.

Every US unit is under daily observation. They cannot move, cannot buy a DVD, without people noticing and recording it. The Iraqis are passing information to the guerrillas without pause. Foreign volunteers are flooding into Iraq as they did in Spain in 1936. They have over 135,000 American targets and a friendly population to work with. Unlike Afghanistan where Arab volunteers were pointed out by the locals to the Americans.

The request for troops is a political minefield and one which places the Army at it's limits. The war was supposed to be over, 50,000 men getting their Iraqi visas puts that to the lie once and for all. It would awaken opposition to the war and not solve the problem.

Bush may be able to spin his way out of the missing WMD issue. But American troops getting attacked and killed every day, day after day, is a problem that isn't going to succumb to good P.R.

That One Looter Must Have Been Real Busy
Making Light/Washington Post on the up and down (and up and up) estimates of Iraqi Museum losses.

U.S. and Iraqi officials have confirmed the theft of at least 6,000 artifacts from Iraq's National Museum of Antiquities during a prolonged looting spree as U.S. forces entered Baghdad two months ago, a leading archaeologist said yesterday.

University of Chicago archaeologist McGuire Gibson said the U.S. Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement told him June 13 that the official count of missing items had reached 6,000 and was climbing as museum and Customs investigators proceeded with an inventory of three looted storerooms.

The June 13 total was double the number of stolen items reported by Customs a week earlier, and Gibson suggested the final tally could be "far, far worse." Customs could not immediately obtain an updated report, a spokesman said.

The mid-June count was the latest in a confusing chain of seemingly contradictory estimates of losses at the museum, the principal repository of artifacts from thousands of Iraqi archaeological sites documenting human history from the dawn of civilization 7,000 years ago to the pinnacle of medieval Islam.

It now appears, however, that although the losses were not nearly as grave as early reports indicated, they go far beyond the 33 items known to have been taken from the museum's display halls. Gibson said looters sacked two ground-floor storerooms and broke into a third in the basement. Two other storerooms appear to have been untouched. ...

Looters broke into the downtown Baghdad museum and sacked it for several days in early April as U.S. forces toppled the government of Saddam Hussein and took possession of the Iraqi capital. U.S. soldiers were harshly criticized for standing idle as the looters rampaged through the building. ...

Reporters and investigators arriving in the first days after the looting saw a virtually empty museum that had been thoroughly trashed. They assumed the worst, Gibson said, an impression that the museum staff did not seek to dispel.

In fact, the staff -- anticipating possible looting -- had spirited away a huge portion of the inventory, including almost everything portable in the display collection, and stashed it either in the basement or in off-site bunkers, Gibson said. Staff had also hidden a gold collection in a Central Bank vault during the 1991 Persian Gulf War and never removed it.

When U.S. authorities took their first close look at the damage, it appeared the finest artifacts had been "cherry-picked" by thieves with inside knowledge. Some U.S. officials suggested that staff members might have been complicit.

"This was unfortunate" but easily explained, Gibson said. Bitterly offended by U.S. forces' failure to protect the museum from the looters, staffers "were not going to give information on where things were," he added.

Although the display collection lost only a few heavy, nonremovable artifacts that were either cut in pieces or ripped from their pedestals, the overall toll was much worse. Staff members began to inventory the museum's five storerooms in May. Losses there numbered in the thousands.

Both ground-floor storerooms had been looted, Gibson said. One housed the study collection, while the other held shelved artifacts and about 10 steel trunks containing as-yet unnumbered material from recent digs. All the trunks had been opened and emptied, Gibson said.

Two basement storerooms appeared to be untouched, including one containing most of the museum's priceless collection of cuneiform tablets, Gibson said. The third had been breached, however, and contained "some of the most important stuff in the museum, including pottery and ivory inlays," he added.

@#%*! It's a Four-Letter Summer
...Pardon our French, but--what the heck is going on?

Darned if we know. But the ascendance of the word expresses our topsy-turvy, mish-mash moment like nothing else. It's a non-stop cultural infusion in a culture pushed to the brink by infusion. Is our economy doing well, or terribly? Is your apartment the best investment you ever made, or a pitiful relic of a soon-to-burst bubble? Did we win the war, or not? Are we the luckiest nation on earth, or the most ... fucked? If you've ever said, "Oh, fu-uck, honey ," then you know what we're talking about. Everything around us has been merged into one big sentimental glob--with a decided core of rage.

"Fuck" is the new "the"
Via the inestimable MZ

Bandwagon, Jumping On I Am
Dubya's search for WMDs now has it's own 404 page.
Via Boing Boing and the mailing list that cannot be named.

...These days, NGOs are supposed to do nothing more than quietly pass out care packages with a big "brought to you by the US" logo attached - in public-private partnerships with Bechtel and Halliburton, of course.

That is the message of "NGO Watch", an initiative of the American Enterprise Institute and the Federalist Society for Law and Public Policy Studies that takes aim at the growing political influence of the non-profit sector. The stated purpose of the website, launched on June 11, is to "bring clarity and accountability to the burgeoning world of NGOs". In fact, it is a McCarthyite blacklist, telling tales on any NGO that dares speak against Bush administration policies or in support of international treaties opposed by the White House.

This bizarre initiative takes as its premise the idea that there is something sinister about "unelected" groups of citizens getting together to try to influence their government. "The extraordinary growth of advocacy NGOs in liberal democracies has the potential to undermine the sovereignty of constitutional democracies," the site claims.

Coming from the AEI, this is not without irony. As Raj Patel, policy analyst at the California-based NGO Food First, points out: "The American Enterprise Institute is an NGO itself and it is supported by the most powerful corporations on the planet. They are accountable only to their board, which includes Motorola, American Express and ExxonMobil."

As for influence, few peddle it quite like the AEI, whose looniest of ideas have a habit of becoming Bush administration policy. And no wonder. Richard Perle, member and former chairman of the Pentagon's Defence Policy Board, is an AEI fellow, along with Lynne Cheney, the wife of the vice-president, and the Bush administration is crowded with former AEI fellows. As President Bush said at an AEI dinner in February: "At the American Enterprise Institute, some of the finest minds in our nation are at work on some of the greatest challenges to our nation. You do such good work that my administration has borrowed 20 such minds."

In other words, the AEI is more than a think-tank - it's Bush's outsourced brain. Taken together with Natsios's statements, this attack on the non-profit sector marks the emergence of a new Bush doctrine: NGOs should be nothing more than the charity wing of the military, silently mopping up after wars and famines. Their job is not to ask how these tragedies could have been averted, or to advocate solutions. And it is certainly not to join anti-war and globalisation movements pushing for real political change.


AEI pundits are news show staples. They never fail to elicit from me rolling of eyes and exclamations of "bullshit".
And apropos of nothing, the NGOWATCH website looks like hammered crap.

Now *That* Is a Hobby
America is coming in second in the High Weirdness race. May I present the Elegant Gothic Lolitas from Japan.
Original Lead Via Boing Boing