Wednesday, November 30, 2005

The Iraq War Comes Home to Onion Field, Ontario

Today the son of a friend of mine is being sent to Iraq. My friend's son joined the U.S. military months ago, and this is the culmination.

Also, I once knew one of the Canadians who was taken hostage in Iraq. His name is Jim Loney, and he was a good guy. I hope that he and the other hostages are returned quickly and safely.

Christian agency blames U.S. for kidnappings


From my as-yet-unpublished novel -- an experience I had in New York City with Jim in the late 1980s when I belonged to a Christian youth group:

New York City, March 1988.

One afternoon, I found myself standing on the sidewalk of Times Square, with two alcoholic, drug-addicted teenagers—each a year older than I—wondering how the hell that came to be.

... Jim asked if I wanted to join him on a visit to “some radical Catholics” who ran a Catholic Worker House—a soup kitchen and neighborhood mission—on New York’s Lower East Side. Having spent the day with Gary and Reg, I needed a break from them, and from the cramped hotel room. I said sure. Around seven o’clock, we went out to the van, leaving Gary and Reg to play cards and watch TV in the room.

The ride to the Catholic Worker House was like a descent into the murkiest neighborhoods of Scorsese’s Taxi Driver. From the van’s window, I watched with growing apprehension as the neighborhoods we passed grew increasingly grim, increasingly dingy and forbidding. I said nothing, though—the cornerstone of his beliefs was faith.

The Catholic Worker House stood in the most blighted, blown-out neighborhood I ever saw in my life. After Zak dropped us off, Jim and I inadvertently saw more of the neighborhood than we intended—it was only then that Jim told me he wasn’t sure of the address of the Catholic Worker House.

We stood on the sidewalk, looking up at the crumbling, weathered buildings before us, searching for a light, the flicker of a television, any sign of life. There was none. Few of the darkened doorways even had addresses. Finally, Jim and I walked down the block.

As he looked for the address we needed, I surveyed the neighborhood, and felt a sick-certain sense that the street was almost entirely abandoned: seeing crumbling staircases leading up to unlit doorways; garbage strewn in moldering, reeking heaps on the sidewalks, spilled across the potholed road; dented toppled-over trashcans; abandoned, stripped-down, burned-out automobiles parked partly on the road, partly on the sidewalk. The place stank of sewage and garbage and rot. Part of me wondered if the street even appeared on a map. Surrounded by the utter desolation, I thought of the squalor along the southern highways—all those tiny slanting shacks with their fields of busted refrigerators and stoves—as Zak and I drove to New Orleans the previous summer.

The wind picked up, and I turned up my jacket’s collar.

After fifteen minutes, which passed with the slowness of hours, we came to a doorway, above which was a nearly illegible sign: CATHOLIC WORKER HOUSE. We knocked on the door, and waited. No answer. We knocked again. And waited. An excruciating procession of seconds passed before we heard footsteps inside. A naked light bulb winked on above us. The footsteps inside stopped, and I figured that Jim and I were being scrutinized through the fisheye lens in the faded red door. Finally, the door opened and a tall, cadaverous man stood before us. He looked to be in his sixties, wore black-framed Buddy Holly glasses, and had gray hair hanging down to his shoulders.

“We’re closed for the night, boys,” he said. Although he spoke in a subdued, mellow voice, I was nonetheless startled—until that moment, I figured we were visiting people whom Jim knew; with whom he might have previously worked, or gone to school. This was not the case.

“We’re not looking for help,” Jim said, and introduced us. “We’re missionaries,” he said, “and wondered if we could talk to you about how you run a Catholic Worker House.”

“I’m Harvey, I run the place,” the man said, and stepped aside. “Come in if you like.”

The interior was bare and neat; larger than I would have guessed from outside. There was a grungy easy chair with a mismatched seat cushion in the sitting room, an old couch with a coffee can as one of its legs, and a stack of wooden chairs in the corner. Harvey led them through a large, paint-chipped doorway into the kitchen, which looked like an old restaurant galley. We sat at a lopsided kitchen table, on mismatched chairs.

“Will you have some tea?” Harvey said.

We said sure.

He shuffled to the far corner and ran the hot water tap in a large laundry tub. The water came in a torrent, and within seconds a cloud of steam wafted up. He filled a kettle, and from that he poured our tea. When he finally joined us, with his old, stained mug, Harvey and Jim spoke about the poverty in New York.

I sipped his tea, and looked around the room, through the large, paint-chipped doorway, and realized there were no windows looking onto the street. Just as well.

They talked for twenty minutes. Then Harvey rose from his chair. I feared he was going to walk us to the door, say goodnight, and leave us outside until Zak came.

When is Zak coming for us? I wondered, and realized he drove off before we discussed a time. Well, he won’t leave them out here all night, I thought.

“I’ll show you around,” Harvey said. “Not much to show, but you can have a look.”

The second floor housed two makeshift offices, with avalanches of paper overwhelming two slanting desks. We went up another set of stairs, to a third floor, which was a large, dark, unheated room. I was surprised to find people there, seated at a long foldout table, folding pamphlets. Harvey introduced them around. There was a couple who appeared about Harvey’s age, a tall, stocky girl who was about twenty, and a Puerto Rican priest in his thirties, who looked like a prize-fighter. They welcomed us in the same low-key manner as Harvey.

Jim and I sat down, and helped fold the pamphlets—Catholic Worker newsletters—working by the wan light coming through the windows from the street lamps outside. The Catholic Workers told them about their various missions in New York and abroad.

Around ten o’clock, I turned to Jim. “When’s Zak coming back?”

Jim looked at me, puzzled. “He’s not.”

I began to smile, thinking he was joking. Then froze. He was as serious as the night he and Zak asked me to go to Covenant House, posing as a runaway.

“Don’t worry,” Jim said. “We’ll take the subway back to the hotel.”

I blinked, as though flinching from a blow. “The subway?!”


The room around me seemed to tilt. “The hotel’s in New Jersey. Do you know how to get there?”

Jim thought for a moment. “No.”

The Puerto Rican priest overheard us. He rose from his chair, and took me over to a faded map of New York City hanging on the wall. He pointed to an area and said, “You ever hear of this place?”

He pointed to HARLEM.

I nodded.

“If you and your friend take the subway, you’ll go through Harlem. I don’t recommend you do that. It’s rough all the way, but Harlem isn’t the place for guys like you.”

I asked Jim to come over. The priest reiterated his warning. To which Jim replied, “We’ll be okay.”

“I hope so,” the priest said.

When Jim and I made our exit, the Catholic Workers wished us luck, and slammed the door. I heard bolt slide home. Then I zipped my jacket, turned up my collar. The wind had not abated. It was beginning to snow.

Walking through that decimated neighborhood, a helpless terror rose in my throat. I slid a hand in my pocket and confirmed a fear that had nagged me since hearing Zak wasn’t coming back for us—I only had a few coins with me; not even a dollar.

We passed an abandoned playground where four rimless backboards stood on a potholed basketball court. Through the fence, on the other side of the playground, I saw a man. He just stood there: a black figure under a lopsided streetlight, watching us.

It was three blocks to the subway, and the street was so dark and deserted we almost walked past the subway entrance. I looked down the stairs, at the dingy urine-colored tiled walls, and knew that every step would be an act of will. Halfway down the stairs, the stench of human waste hit us like a blow.

As we approached the token booth, I showed Jim the few coins I had. He pulled a five-dollar bill and bought our tokens.

Passing through the turnstiles, I glimpsed a transit cop off to the side, watching them with sullen disinterest. I didn’t figure he would be much help if someone robbed us—and wondered if he might not try it himself.

We went to the platform, and waited.

“It’s just like riding the bus,” Jim said. “We’ll have to change trains a few times.”


He shrugged. “We’ll ask for directions.”

I turned away, feeling his stomach sink. Our luck, hedge of protection, whatever, had run out. I was sure of it. There was no way we would get out of that subway alive. It was one thing to stumble into danger, but Jim may as well have led me onto the subway tracks, and started walking toward the growing circle of light at the other end of the tunnel. All I could think about were the hustlers, beggars, pushers, and freaks of Times Square, and I struggled to keep myself from imagining their subterranean counterparts.

And I could be sitting in the hotel room, watching TV, I thought. If I’d only said no.

Then I heard the far-off rumble of an approaching train. When it screeched into the station, we got on, and for the next two hours my thoughts and senses turned inward, readying for the moment we would be robbed, or killed.

I followed Jim without question. We changed trains several times, ran up and down flights of stairs in different stations, catching trains just as the doors were closing. I was not aware of passing through Harlem; it must have come and gone with the blur of place-names I saw in each station. We eventually came to a bus station on the New York-side of the George Washington Bridge.

There was some relief in seeing the bridge; our hotel wasn’t far from it. Just when I was beginning to believe we might survive that night, we were approached by a large man who looked like all the other street people I’d seen that week. I braced for him to ask for money; thinking, if it came down to it, Jim and I could probably take him. When the man smiled, it made no difference—I was terrified; suddenly closer to tears than I had been in years.

“You guys need help?” the man said.

Before I could utter a word, Jim said, “Which bus will take us across the bridge?”

“Most any,” the man said. I watched him. The smile on his face held. “Bus oughta be here in ten minutes.” Then he gave them a few bus numbers for which to watch.

“Thanks,” Jim said.

“No sweat.” The man walked away.

One of the buses he named arrived soon after.

Jim paid the bus fare used with the last of our money.

As we rode across the George Washington Bridge, I gazed at the light-spangled spectacle of Manhattan behind us. It looked vast and unapproachable, yet beautiful in the same dangerous way as spewing lava. Hemmed in by the night sky, and the dark body of the river, Manhattan looked like a constellation, and I marveled that not an hour before, Jim and I had been immersed in it.

The bus driver let us off at the foot of the bridge on the other side of the river. By then, my blood teemed with exhilaration, my head reeled with the sense of having dodged a bullet. Still, we had to find the hotel. There wasn’t even a quarter left between us to call Zak.

The snow continued, and the wind whipped around us. Soon, we began jogging. At one point, the sidewalk down which we ran came to an end. The road forked, veering into a darkened neighborhood, and dropping down to an empty expressway—the one we traversed every day heading to and from Manhattan. Without a word passing between us, Jim and I ran down the on-ramp. My enduring image of that night is the two of us jogging along the shoulder of that vacant thoroughfare, snow flying around us, wind screaming in our ears, the sky dark and indifferent.

We rounded a bend, and the hotel appeared in the distance. It didn’t seem real; part of me was still on the subway, sure I would never see another familiar thing again. We climbed over the concrete median, crossed two lanes of empty expressway, and ran up the access ramp.

As we jogged into the hotel’s parking lot, as we entered the building—where I nearly collapsed in its welcoming warmth—the night’s events suddenly accordioned in my mind. By the time we came to the elevator, I thought, Of course we made it back. What was I so worried about? I looked at Jim, and saw in his eyes a glimpse of realization—he knew we had dodged a bullet, too.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Check out the Fun & Frolic the Contract Fiends Are Having in Iraq

See the "trophy" video made by these over-armed cowards
'Trophy' video exposes private security contractors shooting up Iraqi drivers

By Sean Rayment, Defence Correspondent - Republished from telegraph UK

When the security companies kill people they just drive away and nothing is done.

A “trophy” video appearing to show security guards in Baghdad randomly shooting Iraqi civilians has sparked two investigations after it was posted on the internet, the Sunday Telegraph can reveal.

The video, which first appeared on a website that has been linked unofficially to Aegis Defence Services, contained four separate clips, in which security guards open fire with automatic rifles at civilian cars. All of the shooting incidents apparently took place on “route Irish”, a road that links the airport to Baghdad.

The road has acquired the dubious distinction of being the most dangerous in the world because of the number of suicide attacks and ambushes carried out by insurgents against coalition troops. In one four-month period earlier this year it was the scene of 150 attacks.

In one of the videoed attacks, a Mercedes is fired on at a distance of several hundred yards before it crashes in to a civilian taxi. In the last clip, a white civilian car is raked with machine gun fire as it approaches an unidentified security company vehicle. Bullets can be seen hitting the vehicle before it comes to a slow stop.

There are no clues as to the shooter but either a Scottish or Irish accent can be heard in at least one of the clips above Elvis Presley’s Mystery Train, the music which accompanies the video.

Last night a spokesman for defence firm Aegis Defence Services – set up in 2002 by Lt Col Tim Spicer, a former Scots Guards officer – confirmed that the company was carrying out an internal investigation to see if any of their employees were involved.

The Foreign Office has also confirmed that it is investigating the contents of the video in conjunction with Aegis, one of the biggest security companies operating in Iraq. The company was recently awarded a £220 million security contract in Iraq by the United States government. Aegis conducts a number of security duties and helped with the collection of ballot papers in the country’s recent referendum

Lt Col Spicer, 53, rose to public prominence in 1998 when his private military company Sandlines International was accused of breaking United Nations sanctions by selling arms to Sierra Leone.

The video first appeared on the website The website states: “This site does not belong to Aegis Defence Ltd, it belongs to the men on the ground who are the heart and soul of the company.” The clips have been removed.

The website also contains a message from Lt Col Spicer, which reads: “I am concerned about media interest in this site and I remind everyone of their contractual obligation not to speak to or assist the media without clearing it with the project management or Aegis London.

“Refrain from posting anything which is detrimental to the company since this could result in the loss or curtailment of our contract with resultant loss for everybody.”

Security companies awarded contracts by the US administration in Iraq adopt the same rules for opening fire as the American military. US military vehicles carry a sign warning drivers to keep their distance from the vehicle. The warning which appears in both Arabic and English reads “Danger. Keep back. Authorised to use lethal force.” A similar warning is also displayed on the rear of vehicles belonging to Aegis.

Capt Adnan Tawfiq of the Iraqi Interior Ministry which deals with compensation issues, has told the Sunday Telegraph that he has received numerous claims from families who allege that their relatives have been shot by private security contractors travelling in road convoys.

He said: “When the security companies kill people they just drive away and nothing is done. Sometimes we ring the companies concerned and they deny everything. The families don’t get any money or compensation. I would say we have had about 50-60 incidents of this kind.”

A spokesman for Aegis Defence Services, said: “There is nothing to indicate that these film clips are in any way connected to Aegis.”

Last night a spokesman for the Foreign Office said: “Aegis have assured us that there is nothing on the video to suggest that it has anything to do with their company. This is now a matter for the American authorities because Aegis is under contract to the United States.”
And while these scum-of-the-earth yahoos are on their hooligans' holiday in Iraq, shooting the place up, there are people like Col. Ted Westhusing who don't see Iraq as some kind of demented Disneyland.

Finally, there is this: Allawi: Iraq Abuses As Bad As Under Saddam. The only people who support this atrocity in Iraq are those who make their livings wearing neckties and talking about war, not fighting it. Bill O'Reilly should shut his fucking mouth and go to Iraq -- and take that stagnant, coiffed altar boy, Sean Hannity, with him. Let's see these motherfuckers work a checkpoint for an afternoon. If you support this war, you should shut up and sign up.

"I am going to send you to a better place than this. God bless you."

Singapore executioner wants out

October 28, 2005 - 7:54AM

The man due to execute convicted Australian drug trafficker Nguyen Tuong Van in Singapore is a 73-year-old grandfather who can't retire because no-one will take his job.

The Singaporean government looks set to take the 25-year-old Melbourne man to the gallows, after rejecting his appeal for clemency last Friday.

Foreign Minister Alexander Downer has made a last ditch attempt to save Nguyen's life, but says he has little hope the Australian will be spared.

Singapore's chief executioner Darshan Singh, who has hanged more than 850 prisoners in his 46 years in the role, is due to place the rope around Nguyen's neck, The Australian newspaper reported.

He will say: "I am going to send you to a better place than this. God bless you."

The newspaper says Singh, who lives in a government-owned apartment, wants to leave his job but authorities cannot find a replacement.

Singh is not permitted by law to speak publicly about his job.

But a colleague told the newspaper: "He tried to train two would-be hangmen to replace him, a Malaysian and a Chinese, both in the prison service.

"But when it came to pulling the lever for the real thing, they both froze and could not do it.

"The Chinese guy, a prison officer, became so distraught he walked out immediately and resigned from the prison service altogether."

Nguyen was caught with 396 grams of heroin strapped to his body and in his hand luggage at Singapore's Changi airport in 2002.

He is expected to be hanged in the next four to six weeks.

© 2005 AAP

From Yahoo News:

Sun Nov 27, 3:00 AM ET

SINGAPORE (Reuters) - Singapore has sacked its long-serving hangman, less than a week before the scheduled execution of an Australian drug smuggler, after his identity and picture was exposed by media.

"They called me a few days ago and said I don't have to hang Nguyen and that I don't have to work anymore," Chief executioner Darshan Singh told Reuters on Sunday.

"I think they (the prison authorities) must be mad after seeing my pictures in the newspapers," Singh said.

Australia's Sunday Telegraph said a new executioner was expected to be flown into Singapore this week to carry out the December 2 hanging of 25-year-old Nguyen Tuong Van, who was sentenced to death for carrying 400 grams (0.9 lb) of heroin while in transit at the island-nation's airport.

Singh, a 74-year-old ethnic Indian, was reported in the Australian media to have conducted more than 850 hangings in his 50-year career. The reports said Singh had wanted to retire, but the search for a replacement was unsuccessful.

Singapore's prison department could not be reached for comment.

Despite repeated pleas from Australia to reconsider clemency for the former salesman, Singapore has stood firm on its decision, saying that Nguyen was caught with enough heroin "for 26,000 doses" and that the government would not allow Singapore to be used as a transit for illicit drugs.

Australian Prime Minister John Howard has warned Singapore to prepare for lingering resentment in Australia if it goes ahead with the execution of Nguyen, but Howard has rejected public calls in Australia for boycotts of Singaporean companies and trade sanctions with one of its closest Asian allies.

Howard made another personal appeal to Singapore's Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in Malta on Saturday, Australian media reported on Sunday.

"I did have quite a discussion with him and he was left in no doubt as to the intensity of feeling within Australia," Howard told reporters. "There will be lingering resentment on the part of many Australians regarding this issue.

"They (Singapore) are certainly carefully monitoring what is occurring, but I am equally of the view, as I have been now for some time, that the government of Singapore is not going to change its mind."

New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark also raised Nguyen's case during informal talks in Malta, media reported.

Singapore has one of the world's toughest drug laws. Laws enacted in 1975 stipulate death by hanging for anyone aged 18 or over convicted of carrying more than 15 grams (0.5 ounce) of heroin, 30 grams (1.1 ounce) of cocaine, 500 grams (17.6 ounces) of cannabis or 250 grams (8.8 ounces) of methamphetamines.

Amnesty International said in a 2004 report that about 420 people had been hanged in Singapore since 1991, mostly for drug trafficking, giving the city-state of 4.2 million people the highest execution rate in the world relative to population.

Monday, November 21, 2005

C.E.O. Stands for "Cheat Every One" Part II

Read C.E.O. Stands for "Cheat Every One" Part I if you missed it.

How do you know it's Xmas in North America? When all the news about layoffs and plant closings hits the airwaves; announcements made by grim-looking CEOs, feigning humanity as best they can as they speak their CorporateSpeak, which has all the tonal compassion of a grocery cart falling down a flight of concrete stairs.
NEW YORK ( - General Motors Corp. said Monday it would cut 30,000 hourly jobs and close or scale back operations at about a dozen U.S. and Canadian locations in a bid to save $7 billion a year and halt huge losses in its core North American auto operations.
The son of a bitch behind this latest "just-in-time-for-Xmas" announcement is GM Chairman and CEO Rick Wagoner. In 2004, he earned $9,957,020 in total compensation including stock option grants from General Motors and has another $5,000,000 in unexercised stock options from previous years.

What is the Xmas message from Mr. Wagoner and his family to you and your family this holiday season? Now, I'm paraphrasing here: "Fuck off and dry up." Nice.

In between drinking eggnog and singing Xmas carrolls this holiday season -- and sending out your resume and applying for unemployment benefits -- you should acquaint yourself with what our corporate titans earn each year. It's interesting. These are the men -- all middleaged white men, to the last -- who run our economy (run it like suicide bombers run cars and planes into buildings), and yet their names and faces are entirely unknown to me.

There is a C.E.O. out there who earned $230.6 million in 2004. Do you know who he is? What company he does he head? Then you should consult Forbes Magazine's CEO Compensation Special Report. Print a copy to read while waiting your turn in the unemployment office. Share the cheer with others.

And there are some really jaunty, funny categories in the Forbes report, like the "Worst Performing/Highest Paid CEOs". Read this aloud in the unemployment office and be the life of the party.

The day the human race is finally able to "outsource" greed, I hope we shoe-horn it into a lead-lined titanium box and shoot it into the sun. I wouldn't trust such a mission to a computerized auto-pilot. No, we'd need some dedicated, stand-up, brave-to-the-bone people to man this mission.

I elect Rick Wagoner, and every other son of a bitch you'll read about on the pages linked to this posting. When it comes to a manned mission to the sun to rid our world of greed, these men have the "right stuff."

Other sons of bitches you should add to your Xmas card list.

Never forget: Corporate executives are necrophilic grave-robbing swine.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

So Much For Freedom In China - Bush Can't Escape News Conference Due to Locked Door

In the Washington Post BEIJING (Reuters) - Irked by a reporter who told him he seemed to be "off his game" at a Beijing public appearance, President George W. Bush sought to make a hasty exit from a news conference but was thwarted by locked doors.

... "I was trying to escape. Obviously, it didn't work," Bush quipped, facing reporters again until an aide rescued him by pointing to him toward the correct door.
I'm sure corporations are hoping Bush has an easier time getting cellphones and microwave ovens into the hands of the Chinese masses than he did exiting this room.

And let's hope the Chinese chairman continues to press George W. Bush for more freedoms in America.

Something good has got to come from this visit.

See the video

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Mr. Cheney, You Are a Liar, a Rogue, and a Miscreant

It's the "Old Executive Two-Step" -- when you have screwed up, gut-shoot the other guy; raise air-raid sirens about someone else's mistakes in order to distract attention from your own. That's Management 101.

Dick Cheney has been one of the leading voices of misinformation on behalf of the Bush Administration. He is lead assassin in the death of whatever skewed, malformed, and grotesque "honor" system may exist in Washington, D.C. But for him to stand up and charge others with "reprehensible" actions is truly beyond the pale.

There has been no more self-serving, morally void, black-hearted, humanity-impaired occupant of American public office than Dick Cheney. For Dick Cheney to stand up and say anything other than "I have sinned!" is an exercise in bearing false witness to thy brother (on his part).

The following remarks of Dick Cheney's are enough to make Christ himself dyspeptic, make the Devil himself envious, and any sense of justice and rightness in our human arena shrivel and gasp its last.

How interesting that someone with the same moral compass as Saddam Hussein was able to preside over Saddam's downfall. If this is the pattern of tyrants being taken down, I hope I'm fortified by distance, liquor, and nubile women when Cheney's nemesis arises.

... perhaps it's already slouching its way toward Bethlehem...

Excerpts As Prepared For Delivery Tonight by Vice President Cheney

THE VICE PRESIDENT: "As most of you know, I have spent a lot of years in public service, and first came to work in Washington, D.C. back in the late 1960s. I know what it’s like to operate in a highly charged political environment, in which the players on all sides of an issue feel passionately and speak forcefully.

In such an environment people sometimes lose their cool, and yet in Washington you can ordinarily rely on some basic measure of truthfulness and good faith in the conduct of political debate. But in the last several weeks we have seen a wild departure from that tradition.

And the suggestion that’s been made by some U. S. senators that the President of the United States or any member of this Administration purposely misled the American people on pre-war intelligence is one of the most dishonest and reprehensible charges ever aired in this city...

Some of the most irresponsible comments have, of course, come from politicians who actually voted in favor of authorizing force against Saddam Hussein. These are elected officials who had access to the intelligence, and were free to draw their own conclusions.

They arrived at the same judgment about Iraq’s capabilities and intentions that was made by this Administration and by the previous Administration. There was broad-based, bipartisan agreement that Saddam Hussein was a threat … that he had violated U.N. Security Council Resolutions … and that, in a post-9/11 world, we couldn’t afford to take the word of a dictator who had a history of WMD programs, who had excluded weapons inspectors, who had defied the demands of the international community, who had been designated an official state sponsor of terror, and who had committed mass murder.

Those are facts.

What we’re hearing now is some politicians contradicting their own statements and making a play for political advantage in the middle of a war.

The saddest part is that our people in uniform have been subjected to these cynical and pernicious falsehoods day in and day out. American soldiers and Marines are out there every day in dangerous conditions and desert temperatures – conducting raids, training Iraqi forces, countering attacks, seizing weapons, and capturing killers – and back home a few opportunists are suggesting they were sent into battle for a lie.*

The President and I cannot prevent certain politicians from losing their memory, or their backbone – but we’re not going to sit by and let them rewrite history.

We’re going to continue throwing their own words back at them. And far more important, we’re going to continue sending a consistent message to the men and women who are fighting the war on terror in Iraq, Afghanistan, and many other fronts.

We can never say enough how much we appreciate them, and how proud they make us. They and their families can be certain: That this cause is right … and the performance of our military has been brave and honorable … and this nation will stand behind our fighting forces with pride and without wavering until the day of victory.
* What amazes me most is the lack of gall and outrage the American public seems to feel over the fact that the vast, vast majority of politicians who pushed for this illegitimate, wrong-headed war in Iraq not only never served their country in uniform, but actively avoided such service.

Update 11/26/2005

Why not whip... a dead horse?

Serial Killer Art Raises Free Speech Debate

Serial Killer Art Raises Free Speech Debate

I'm a writer and the family member of a person who was murdered.

People guilty and imprisoned for violent crimes lose their right to freedom, and that should include the right or freedom to sell their "art." Crime has cost society enough, and it's time the perpetrators of crime were slapped back into the position/understanding that society merely tolerates their presence, hindered and cut-off as it is. My opinion centers only on those guilty of violence, not those who have committed non-violent crimes.

If a person guilty of assault or murder writes a book, fuck his right to publish it. If a person guilty of assault or murder paints a picture, fuck his right to sell it.

Marjorie Heins, a fellow at the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University, said freedom of expression extends to prisoners even if it causes emotional distress or offense to the victim's families.

That needs to change.

Our society does not tolerate "cruel and unusual" treatment of incarcerated criminals, and I think the handlers and decision-makers for criminals must re-awaken to the fact that society will not tolerate cruel and unusual assaults upon its psyche. Its more than enough that people who assault and kill are allowed to live, despite the lives they have mangled. Their rights begin and end with their right to draw oxygen. They are provided lodging, clothing, food, even legal counsel. They may not intentionally or unintentionally prey upon the families of their victims with their right to free speech.

Bosses Rejoice! Your Success is Well-Charted! "Survey: U.S. workers feel less secure"

NEW YORK (CNN/Money) - Reading says that nearly 24% think they could lose job in next year, up from 19.3% six months ago: Workers in the United States are far more nervous about losing their jobs than they were six months ago and are now among the least confident employees among the world's leading economies, according to a recent survey..

Bosses everywhere, you sly malignant bastards (whom I affectionately refer to as "grave-robbing necrophilic swine") must be doing something right! Your workers are shitting their pants. No, no, really -- take the bow that is your due. You've been exporting jobs at such a rate and souring the atmospheres of the jobs that remain in North America to such an extent, that workers everywhere are cowering in their cubicles, not wondering if the axe will fall, but when.

If only my pork belly investments and ocean-side Alberta property had grown from 19.3% to almost 24% -- then I could finally tell my own boss to go fuck himself. (Unfortunately, in this case, I am my own boss; but I'd be willing to make this outburst, and willing to take such impudence from myself, though it would make for certain awkwardness around the lunchroom.)

This is what we get with Prime Minister Paul Martin occupying the top latrine in Canada, and corporate jackals of the Bush Administration bleeding off the American economy like a 15th century medical man draining a troublesome patient of his "humors."

Bravo you corporate titans! I don't want to put pressure on you, but wouldn't it be great if we could see that increase double by next year at this time -- and just in time for Xmas!

Remember, the fewer employees you have, the fewer people you have to pay. And the fewer people you have to pay means more money for you! And that's what it's all about. Not just "earning a living," or "getting ahead." The name of the game is "fuck the other guy so hard he'll wish he was never born." And the rules of the game dictate "everything for me! Me! All for me! Not for you! For me!"

I have always believed that corporate executives have it right -- werk is so shitty and demoralizing that it's not worth getting out of bed for anything less than $50 million per year.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Latest Conspiracy Theory: Oil Company Profits Are Linked to High Prices - Yeah, Right!

There is absolutely no relationship between high prices of a given product, and the profits enjoyed by the maker of that product. Just as there is no relationship between a bullet being fired through the heart of a human being, and that human dying; and no relationship between fighting unjustifiable foreign wars, and the level of international hatred directed at countries who launch bloody, pre-emptive actions based on lies. These are conspiracy theories of the most damaging stripe and vintage.

Anyone who disagrees with this should shut up and buy a Hummer.

Just as Jesus Christ and God the Father created the universe guided by the mother-of-all-DIYs, Intelligent Design, so too has the Holy Spirit filled our corporate leaders to create an economy based on Intelligent Design.

Trust them. God does.

Gallery of Economic Martyrs

Exxon Mobil Chief Executive Officer Lee Raymond

Chevron CEO David O'Reilly

ConocoPhillips CEO James Mulva

BP America President Ross Pillari

Shell Oil Co. President John Hofmeister

Saturday, November 05, 2005

The Most Hated Person in the World

As a kid I was fascinated by the Guinness Book of World Records, particularly the TV show hosted by David Frost. I was forever curious about who was the strongest person in the world, the tallest person in the world, the oldest living person in the world. But I was even more interested in learning about the more abstract "greatest"s -- smartest person in the world, bravest person, most evil person.

Seeing Argentina explode into riots over the Americas summit reminds me of how every city in the world explodes with unrest when George W. Bush visits. He's like the "Jessica Fletcher" (Angela Landsbury's character on the TV show Murder, She Wrote) of world politics -- wherever Jessica went, murdered people turned up; wherever George W. Bush goes, riots and protests erupt.

Sure, I know that protests follow most politicians. But not on the scale, and not with the ferocity and consistent charges of fascism, terrorism, and imperialism, as when George W. Bush lands in a new land. W. claims his participation in the summit is an 'opportunity to positively affirm our belief in democracy and human rights and human dignity'" but that's a complete and utter lie. It's an insultingly transparent lie, as well.

George W. Bush commands a country that believes in secret detentions, in torture (sometimes torturing people to death), in detention-without-end, with no charges, on secret evidence. No wonder so few people have been released from Guantanamo Bay, Cuba -- seeing the frail old men and stunned young boys who have been released reveals the arbitrary, ridiculous, ill-planned nature of these detentions. None of the people released from that U.S. concentration camp have faced any charges when they returned home.

Now we're hearing about the ever-benevolent CIA operating "Soviet-styled" secret prisons in eastern Europe.

Hey, I'm all for getting the "bad guys." No kidding, I am. I've posted here before my belief in the importance of getting the actual bad guys. Once we have them, I'm all for leaning the full weight of justice against them. America hides behind that old, thinning saw of "national security," but I think in order to have any credibility, the U.S. must do none of this in secret. I'm not saying they should post the results of current investigations on the Internet, but they should most definitely stop designating certain people as "enemy combatants." This from the people whose tempers and morality went nuclear when President Bill Clinton quibbled about the meaning "intercourse" when being questions about his tryst with an intern in the White House.

If the '50's rock singer, Dion, is still living, he should write a song for W. called "The Squanderer," because George W. Bush is the legendary squanderer of the global goodwill that shone on the U.S. following the 9/11 attacks. And now he has squandered the "political capital" he felt he'd gained after his last rigged election (blackbox voting in the Land of the Free?). What comes out of W.'s mouth, and the mouthpieces of his White House, is so easily, consistently, and speedily proven false that W. lost all credibility with most of the world before the 9/11 attacks. He doesn't seem to understand that people now have access to something called "the Internet," and this "digital world-hive-brain" makes information more readily available than it has been in previous decades.

From the universally debunked reasons for the U.S. going to war with Iraq, to the staged photo-op on that aircraft carrier in which W. had the gall to appear in military uniform, the thinning, increasing fictions of his administration have rendered it as a sterling symbol of subterfuge, deceit, double-dealing, and corruption.

George W. Bush is arguably the most hated person in the world because of his seamless record of corruption. Words like "freedom" and "democracy" are curses coming from his mouth.

I submit that George W. Bush is the face of the "Axis of Insanity" that has surfaced in the 21st Century, and his presidency marks the decline and fizzling of everything America once was and once represented.

Friday, November 04, 2005

Canadian Judas-Prudence: "Are you making plans or are you going to dumpster the baby?"

EDMONTON (CP) No more jail for Edmonton woman who concealed birth, put baby in garbage bag


EDMONTON (CP) - A woman who admitted to concealing her pregnancy and later placing her newborn baby in a garbage bag was spared further jail time Thursday.

A Court of Queen's Bench justice sentenced 23-year-old Nicole Anderwald to 90 days for causing the baby's death by neglecting to get help after giving birth and another 40 days for disposing of the infant.

But because she had already spent 3 1/2 months in custody, Justice Terrance Clackson decided to let Anderwald go free. She will be on two years probation.

"While this is about loss of life, this is not about murder," said Clackson, who noted that Anderwald's crimes involved deception but not violence.

"I'm not sentencing a killer, but a desperate woman wanting to hide her pregnancy from the world."

Patty Nixon, executive director of Alberta Pro-Life, called the ruling significant.

"It's certainly very disconcerting and it gives you an example of the value that is placed on human life," she said.

"Now when people hear of a child that is just abandoned and left to die, there's no uproar. There's this awkward silence . . . it was a poor situation, she was from some sort of background that was maybe, possibly dysfunctional, who knows? But they're finding some reason to justify that it was OK. And it's not OK."

Clackson said while the court must denounce Anderwald's actions, psychiatric reports show she was mentally unbalanced when she secretly gave birth to a daughter last year.

"The emotional repercussions will be a cross to bear for a long time to come," the justice added.

Clackson also took the unusual step of ordering the young woman to submit the results of quarterly pregnancy tests to her probation officer. That's to make sure that if Anderwald gets pregnant, she'll get the help she needs.

"I'm not trying to see that you not become pregnant," Clackson explained to Anderwald.

"But if you do, I'm taking steps to make sure the world knows about it.".

Last month, court heard Anderwald gave birth to a baby girl Aug. 9, 2004, in the bedroom of her family's Edmonton home before passing out.

After she woke up, she put the baby in a garbage bag beside her bed, had a bath and watched TV. Anderwald later told a psychiatrist the baby didn't move so she thought it had been stillborn.

She had tried to conceal her pregnancy by telling people she had a tumour, or was gaining weight, but relatives already suspected she was pregnant.

At one point, court heard, her mother gave her a note asking: "Are you making plans or are you going to dumpster the baby?"

Before going to work the day after the birth, Anderwald stuffed the garbage bag in her bedroom closet where her mother later found it.

Co-workers said she was happy and told them an operation to remove a tumour the size of a watermelon had been a success. She was arrested by police at work.

Before she was sentenced, a pale Anderwald rose in the prisoner's dock and read from a statement, apologizing to her family and friends - many of whom she said still feel they failed her.

"I wish I could change the past and bring Angela back," she said, using the name she gave the child.

"Unfortunately, I cannot. For the rest of my life I will always wonder what she could have become and feel the pain of loss and regret."

The judge also said she should continue working at the call centre where she has had a job since before becoming pregnant, or report any changes in employment to her probation officer.

Anderwald was originally charged with second-degree murder, but the charge was reduced to infanticide after a preliminary hearing.

On Oct. 7, she pleaded guilty to the lesser charges of causing the death of a baby by neglecting to obtain assistance in childbirth and disposing of the body of a child.