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Unlimited.

Posted on September 30th, 2006 at 18:44 by John Sinteur in category: News, What were they thinking?

[Quote:]

How much Internet service is “unlimited” Internet service? If you are a user of Verizon Wireless’s Broadband Access wireless Internet service, “unlimited” means five gigabytes per month or less. The company is quite specific in its advertisements that the service is for unlimited e-mail, web surfing, and corporate intranet use, but not for downloading music or videos or running servers.

That sounds fair, I guess, but what happens if you go over your five gigs per month (a figure that is not published anywhere)? You get a letter saying that you’ve gone over your “unlimited” allotment and had better cut back or risk being booted from the system. Even then you aren’t told that you’ve gone over five gigs, just that you’ve been using too much.

If you continue to use too much bandwidth, your account will be cancelled and you will be charged the $175 early termination fee.

Now here’s the part of this story I find especially interesting: Verizon doesn’t look at packets or protocols to determine if you are improperly using bandwidth, they just look at total bytes transferred. If you go over five gigs THEY ASSUME YOU ARE BREAKING THE RULES and cancel your account. There is no way to appeal this decision, even if all you were doing was precisely within Verizon’s own definition of “unlimited.” Verizon’s position is that using more than five gigs per month is IMPOSSIBLE without violating their terms of service.


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Torture Bill Haiku

Posted on September 30th, 2006 at 18:01 by John Sinteur in category: Quote

[Quote:]

The Constitution
Was cast aside by Congress.
Hideous corpus!


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Crimineel!

Posted on September 30th, 2006 at 17:57 by John Sinteur in category: Nederland is Gek!

[Quote:]

“Er is geen tak van criminaliteit waar zoveel doden vallen als in het verkeer.”

— Verkeersofficier Koos Spee

Dus u weet het, als u de volgende keer in de auto stapt, beschouwt Koos u als crimineel.


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Cultural Integration

Posted on September 30th, 2006 at 16:35 by John Sinteur in category: Great Picture

[Quote:]

danzadelosjuncos.jpg


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Classified

Posted on September 30th, 2006 at 16:33 by John Sinteur in category: Cartoon

23400808.jpg


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Get up and run

Posted on September 30th, 2006 at 12:46 by John Sinteur in category: If you're in marketing, kill yourself

vipgym.jpg


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Another Cabbie. Another Incredible Story.

Posted on September 30th, 2006 at 11:29 by John Sinteur in category: News

[Quote:]

A Yellow Cab driven by a tiny African man named Bale pulled up to the curb and the Air Port Taxi authorities pointed me to his taxi. I threw my stuff in the back seat and we headed out to the hotel. I was in Canada this week. It’s a long ride to town and I had once again climbed into the cab of a man who had lived to see his country change from a calm pastoral British protectorate to a boiling horrible dictatorship.

His didn’t happen in six years. His happened in four months.

“Where you from?”

“Uganda.”

“How long have you been here?”

In a thick accent he answered, “about 24 years.”

“What brought you here?”

“Freedom.”

[..]

“What do you think about Bush?”

“Bush is a dictator. Did I offend you?”

“No. What makes him a dictator?”

“You cannot joke about killing him. Hell even under Amin we danced and sang death songs at him. He had a hotel complex that he tortured people in. The difference between Bush and Amin as far as that goes is that I knew where my relatives were being tortured, and no one knows exactly where the Americans are torturing their victims.”

“Do you believe we are doing horrible torture to thousands or to a few?”

He thought about it and said “Is there any difference? My experience is that once torturers begin torturing, the torturers have a hard time stopping.”

That really upset me. I persisted. “Seriously, do you think we are torturing thousands?”

He took his time. “They won’t let you see one dead soldier. Even under a flag they won’t let you see it. They don’t tell you the truth about anything. They lie lie lie. My experience tells me this. I don’t really know. But if I had to guess, I would guess that your government is doing the worst things you can possibly imagine. Liars are lying because they cannot tell the truth. When I see Bush speak, I don’t see a stupid man as you do and many others. I see a man who is too shamed to tell the truth. He has caused so much pain and knows it, but if he admitted one little bit of it, it would come crashing out like a dam. You understand? Bush is in a lot of pain.”

We pulled up to the hotel, I asked him to park and waved off the bellhop.

“What do you think will happen to America, Bale?”

“What do you mean WILL happen? What hasn’t happened yet? You torture in secret. You invade for what? The government reads your e-mail and listens to your telephone and makes you take off your shoes and pull out your computer. For what? Who do you need to protect yourself against? Is your computer going to attack you? Who should you be afraid of? Your government is more scary to most people than any terrorist. I feel for you really. Because I don’t think you have any idea how far down the road you already are.”

“So you think we are already at a dictatorship,” I asked.

“I think you are far worse than a dictatorship. You are in a dictatorship but most of the population is still living in another time. Once America was the cat’s meow. The problem isn’t so much your government. It is your population. Here you are have lost so much in freedom, so much in prosperity and so much in reputation, and you have to ask me if you are living under a dictatorship,” He answered a call for a pick- up. “I will have to leave. There is a passenger across the street. But I will leave you with this. Dictatorship looks different to everyone. Some of them are disguised and people can’t see past the disguise. In China, it was years before anyone questioned why they all wore the same close. In America, if you are rich or conservative, dictatorship can be very pleasant. You understand?”


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Diebold Added Secret Patch to Georgia E-Voting Systems in 2002, Whistleblowers Say

Posted on September 30th, 2006 at 11:18 by John Sinteur in category: Indecision 2008

[Quote:]

Top Diebold corporation officials ordered workers to install secret files to Georgia’s electronic voting machines shortly before the 2002 Elections, at least two whistleblowers are now asserting, Atlanta Progressive News has learned.

Former Diebold official Chris Hood told his story concerning the secret “patch? to Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., for Kennedy’s second article on electronic voting in this week’s Rolling Stone Magazine.

Hood’s claims corroborate a second whistleblower who spoke with Black Box Voting and Wired News in 2003.

Even if the patch was totally benign this story leaves the election in a state where the people cannot trust the results, and that effectively means democracy is dead.


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Comments:

  1. Of course this last minute patching looks really bad, but when the machines are not open source and leave no paper trail, the election was in a non-trustworthy state even BEFORE the patch. Let’s face it, from a rigorousaly logical perspective, the patch makes no difference except to serve as a didactic tool to convince those who don’t “get it”.

  2. You said it quite a bit better than I did, thank you.

  3. I get it. You get it. But why don’t THEY get it in Georgia?

    It’s one voice, one vote, or get the hell out of my country!

Lt. General Odom Speaks Truth in Basement of U.S. Capitol.

Posted on September 30th, 2006 at 11:16 by John Sinteur in category: Mess O'Potamia

[Quote:]

Panel 1: Witnesses: Lt. Gen. William Odom, Dr. Paul Pillar.

live blogging below…

Pillar spoke first. He addressed the question of whether the disaster in Iraq is the result of poor execution or of the initial decision to go in at all. “Most of what we are seeing,” he said, “and in particular the communal violence, is an almost inevitable result of having ousted the dictator Saddam Hussein.”

Odom spoke second and addressed points of argumentation that he hears too often and is tired of hearing, including being told to ignore the past and focus on the future, to ignore how we got into Iraq and only talk about what to do from here on. Unless, Odom said, we discuss whose interests this war served, we cannot decide what to do. It served no U.S. interests. It served the interests of al Qaeda and Iran.

Al Qaeda recruiting declined in 2002, Odom said, but spiked after the U.S. invaded — rose in Asia as well as in the Middle East. And Iraq is a great training ground for terrorists now. In addition, Odom said, a wedge is being driven between the United States and its European allies. “Osama understands that; we seem not to.” The invasion of Iraq, Odom said, probably saved al Qaeda from ceasing to exist.

“Iran’s clerics,” Odom added, “must have been equally surprised and delighted.” Terrorists can now train in Iraq and engage in violence in Israel.

The longer the war goes on, Odom stressed, the more it benefits al Qaeda and Iran.

[..]

Odom again spoke of leaving Iraq and said “It takes a very high level of ignorance to believe America can leave behind in Iraq any government that will not be anti-American.”

[..]

Rep. Hinchey asked Odom “How do we get out?” Odom’s reply came without a pause: “Well, the Constitution gives the House the right to impeach.”


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Rep. Foley Quits In Page Scandal

Posted on September 30th, 2006 at 11:13 by John Sinteur in category: ¿ʞɔnɟ ǝɥʇ ʇɐɥʍ, Indecision 2008

[Quote:]

Six-term Rep. Mark Foley (R-Fla.) resigned yesterday amid reports that he had sent sexually explicit Internet messages to at least one underage male former page.

Foley, who was considered likely to win reelection this fall, said in a three-sentence letter of resignation: “I am deeply sorry and I apologize for letting down my family and the people of Florida I have had the privilege to represent.”

The resignation rocked the Capitol, and especially Foley’s GOP colleagues, as lawmakers were rushing to adjourn for at least six weeks. House Majority Leader John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) told The Washington Post last night that he had learned this spring of inappropriate “contact” between Foley and a 16-year-old page. Boehner said he then told House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.). Boehner later contacted The Post and said he could not remember whether he talked to Hastert.

He knew and decided to keep it under wraps. I guess Boehner’s next job is going to be Catholic Bishop.


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Hirsi Ali vindt Tweede Kamer zwak en gewetenloos

Posted on September 30th, 2006 at 10:51 by John Sinteur in category: Nederland is Gek!

[Quote:]

De Tweede Kamer is zwak, gewetenloos en zonder geheugen. Dat zegt het vroegere Tweede Kamerlid Ayaan Hirsi Ali in een interview dat zaterdag in NRC Handelsblad is verschenen. In de ruim drie jaar dat ze zelf deel uitmaakte van de Kamer, heeft ze geconstateerd dat de “belangrijkste machtsbeslissingen genomen zijn in achterkamertjes”.

De VVD-fractie waarvan Hirsi Ali deel uitmaakte, werd nauwelijks gekend in besluiten over zaken als het regeerakkoord, de oorlog in Irak en het sturen van militairen naar Afghanistan. “We praatten er wel over, maar dat sloeg verder helemaal nergens op. Dat was meer een vorm van groepstherapie”, zegt het vroegere Tweede Kamerlid.

Gezien de opkomst en het stemgedrag heeft de gemiddelde Nederlander dat al jaren door.

(wat de gemiddelde Nederlander ook doorheeft, is dat het regeerakkoord een paar weken terug al door de SER geschreven is, en dat kabinet balkenende IV eigenlijk al een feit is. Een linkse coalitie komt niet verder dan 68 zetels)


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Comments:

  1. Huh? Ik leerde dat op school: de regering schrijft wetsvoorstellen, en de kamer neemt ze aan of niet of met wijzigingen. Hirsi Ali wil alle 150 parlementatiers betrekken bij alle besluiten? Nou, succes.

  2. Wat de school je leerde is op papier correct. In de praktijk gaat het de mist in bij het stukje “de kamer neemt ze aan of niet met wijzigingen”. Op het moment dat de kamer de papieren versie krijgt, staat de uitkomst al vast. De fraktie als “stemvee” is wellicht de beste manier om er naar te kijken.

  3. Nou ja, dat is al het geval zo lang als er die gedetailleerde regeeraccoorden zijn. Wanneer begon dat? Lubbers I? Nauwelijks nieuws.

    Kijk voor de gein even of Hirsi Ali ook tegen gestemt heeft op deze dingen die ze noemt. Zo niet, dan bedankt en niet zeuren.

  4. Sinds Lubbers? Veel en veel eerder, lijkt me.

    “Bedankt en niet zeuren” krijgt ze wat mij betreft ongeacht haar stemgedrag. De politiek hier zou meer dwarsliggers als Hirsi Ali kunnen gebruiken, dat wel.

Tweeduizend cellen staan leeg

Posted on September 30th, 2006 at 10:50 by John Sinteur in category: Nederland is Gek!

[Quote:]

Tweeduizend cellen in gevangenissen en huizen van bewaring staan leeg, 13 procent van het totaal. Dat blijkt uit vertrouwelijke cijfers van het ministerie van Justitie, melden regionale kranten zaterdag.

Tegelijkertijd lopen zesduizend veroordeelden rond, omdat de politie geen mankracht heeft om ze op te pakken. PvdA en SP reageren verbijsterd en kondigen aan het bestaan van meermanscellen en het verblijf in bajesboten ter discussie te stellen.

Misschien, best PVDA en SP, kun je beter het quotum-beleid voor bonnenschrijven ter discussie stellen, heb je opeens ook geen capaciteitsprobleem meer bij de politie, en zitten je cellen zo vol.


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Texas Flood

Posted on September 30th, 2006 at 10:46 by John Sinteur in category: Great Picture

Now here’s another reason I’m not buying new music anymore. Now get off my grass, young whippersnappers!


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Comments:

  1. Yeah, I don’t understand why people listen to that newfangled electrified stuff when there are so many good fugues and string quartets out there.

Vatu Vara

Posted on September 30th, 2006 at 9:21 by John Sinteur in category: Great Picture

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[Quote:]

The magnificent island of Vatu Vara is often referred to as ‘Hat Island’ because of it’s unusual shape. The island is reputed by many to be the most beautiful in Fiji. It’s unique topography with limestone cliffs covered in dense tropical jungle and the flat summit is like a cross between Bora Bora and ‘The Lost World’ of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. From the top of it jungle-clad 1,030 foot peak, to the bottom of it’s aquamarine lagoon this is 100% pure tropical paradise. All the cinematic clichés about tropical islands are here for real; and to continue the theme you even get Mel Gibson as a neighbour. He owns Mago island just 30 kilometres to the east.

The volcanic and limestone island is nearly 2 miles in diameter at its base, and it’s massive peak dominates the surrounding skyline and is visible from nearby islands such as Kaibu, Yacata, and Vanua Mbalavu. The limestone cliffs souring above the beaches, lending an aura of majesty that few islands in the Fiji in Fiji possess. The closest island in appearance is Monu Riki island in the Mamanucas which was the location for Tom Hank’s in ‘Cast Away’; but Vatu Vara dwarfs Monu Riki by comparison.

For sale for only $75 million!

only bond supervillains need apply, and even then there are no sharks with frickin’ lasers on their head included


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‘Entertainmentbranche zet zelf aan tot gebruik illegaal aanbod’

Posted on September 29th, 2006 at 21:26 by John Sinteur in category: Intellectual Property, Nederland is Gek!

[Quote:]

De muziek- en filmindustrie mag geen gebrekkige producten op de markt brengen, vindt de Consumentenbond. Mensen die legaal van muziek en film willen genieten, zouden tegen allerlei problemen aanlopen. De bond startte vrijdag een campagne over digitale auteursrechten.

De entertainmentbranche brengt volgens de bond – bijvoorbeeld om kopiëren tegen te gaan – producten en diensten op de markt die gebrekkig zijn en veroorzaakt daarmee dat mensen hun toevlucht zoeken tot illegaal aanbod. De organisatie eist dat de muziek- en filmindustrie de producten en diensten die niet voldoen aan de wet van de markt haalt en met een goed aanbod komt.


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Comments:

  1. Ik kan hier tegenover zetten dat de muziek industrie mijn CD aankopen volledig de grond in geboord heeft met het aanbod van een good werkende nieuwe aanbodsvorm. Ik abonneer me op Rhapsody, krijg toegang tot een enorme collectie muziek, kan lekker veel nieuwe dingen luisteren die ik niet ken zonder extra geld uit te geven. Ik koop nauwelijks CDs meer. (Vroeger kocht ik er 1-2 per week.)

Senate Wins Fight To Lower Allowable Amperage Levels On Detainees’ Testicles

Posted on September 29th, 2006 at 19:19 by John Sinteur in category: News

[Quote:]

Led by a bipartisan group of senators critical of White House policy on suspected terrorists, the Senate passed a bill Thursday that prohibits interrogators from exceeding 100 amps per testicle when questioning detainees. “Even in times of war, it counterproductive and wrong to employ certain inhumane interrogation techniques, and using three-digit amperage levels on the testicles of captives constitutes torture,” said Sen. John Warner (R-VA), who has also supported reducing the size of attack dogs and the height of nude pyramids. “Using amperages of 99 and lower, with approved surge protectors on the jumper-cable clamps, are the hallmarks of a civilized society.” The legislation did not address amperage restrictions on suspected terrorists’ labia.


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Comments:

  1. Huzzah! What a triumph! The USA has really become the epitome of civilization in these past six years…

  2. http://www.theonion.com/content/node/53539

    Dude, the news story is from The Onion, a satirical comedy website. it’s not a real news story.

  3. What makes you think we don’t know that?

Harsh Words for Windows

Posted on September 29th, 2006 at 16:26 by John Sinteur in category: Apple, Microsoft

[Quote:]

“When you get past the schoolyard mentality and the stupid, ignorant prejudices,? you have heard people say, “what we have are two different operating systems that each work very, very well. Really, it’s not a matter of good or bad. It’s just a matter of personal preference.?

Those are very wise words. I have said much the same thing. But what I’ve endured over the past few months is the equivalent of a weeklong road trip with someone whose company you’ve always enjoyed, but never really known as a true friend. Windows has propped its bare smelly feet up on my dashboard and told me the story about how he was so hung over during his aunt’s funeral that he threw up into the coffin a little. His greasy hair has left smears on the inside of the window that no solvent can shift. He just sort of assumed that he could use my iPod, and during the one time he took a turn at the wheel, the battery was completely flat and I had to listen the story about the funeral a second time.

So I’m not saying that my fond regards won’t return in time. But I’m going to have to spend a few weeks alone first.

[..]

As Mac users, we haven’t had enough exposure to wretched software design to develop any natural antibodies, and for this, we envy our brethren in the Windows community. We truly, truly do.

[..]

Thirty days after you unpacked a new PC, it starts. The DVD decoder starts asking you if you want to now purchase the optional super DVD decoder. The antivirus app tells you that your subscriptions are out of date and you need to provide a credit-card number. There was some kind of branded media player that you never launched even once, and it continues to throw popups in your face every five minutes despite your yelling at the screen every time it happens.

Yes, your user experience has now turned into Pledge Week at your local public television station…and you didn’t even get to see a Monty Python marathon first.

[..]
What shocks me back into reality? A sudden memory from a couple of weeks ago, when I came across the official personal website of Justin Guarini.

You know…the guy who came in second during the first season of “American Idol.? The one who looks like Sideshow Bob from “The Simpsons,? and who sings like a yard-sale painting of a teary-eyed clown on brown velvet.

Yeah, he built the site in iWeb.

If I’m a member of the same user community as that guy, then clearly, I shouldn’t go throwing stones.


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Praise the lord, pass the collection plate

Posted on September 29th, 2006 at 16:14 by John Sinteur in category: Pastafarian News

[Quote:]

A Catholic priest in the US is under arrest and another is on the run after being accused of stealing millions of dollars from their parishioners.

Monsignor John Skehan, 79, was charged with grand theft, as Florida police searched for Father Francis Guinan.

The two men are suspected of stealing a total of $8.6m (£4.6m) from their Palm Beach church and funding a lavish life of property, holidays and gambling.


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Cartoons

Posted on September 29th, 2006 at 14:45 by John Sinteur in category: Cartoon

stein.gif

nick.jpg

matson2.gif


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Students: School Suspended Us For Dressing Alike

Posted on September 29th, 2006 at 13:55 by John Sinteur in category: ¿ʞɔnɟ ǝɥʇ ʇɐɥʍ, News

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[Quote:]

A school recently suspended four eighth-grade girls because they wore identical outfits on the same day, some of the girls and their parents said.

Two of the girls, Dacia Small and Mindy Ellis, said McCulloch Middle School officials incorrectly branded them as gang members because of the outfits. The four received a five-day suspension after Principal Michael Shaffer saw their clothes, Small and Ellis said.

“One of the girls asked him what was the matter with it. Then he started yelling at all everybody and took us to the office and suspended us,” Small told Indianapolis TV station WRTV.

Shaffer said the girls were suspended because they violated school rules, but he declined to say which rules they broke.


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Maps of War

Posted on September 29th, 2006 at 13:41 by John Sinteur in category: News

[Quote:]

Who has controlled the Middle East over the course of history? Pretty much everyone. Egyptians, Turks, Jews, Romans, Arabs, Greeks, Persians, Europeans…the list goes on. Who will control the Middle East today? That is a much bigger question.


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Landmine Awareness Ketchup Packet

Posted on September 29th, 2006 at 13:20 by John Sinteur in category: If you're in marketing, kill yourself

landmine_feet.jpg

[Quote:]

In New Zealand, the Campaign Against Landmines (CALM) has decided to spread awareness through ketchup packets. The dotted line above is where you tear to open the packet, thus ripping off the child’s foot and letting the ketchup ooze out of the stump. Perhaps the one most poignant pieces of food marketing imagery yet.


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Health Copyright

Posted on September 29th, 2006 at 13:17 by John Sinteur in category: Intellectual Property

On the weblog of an ambulance driver:

[Quote:]

The people of London are not getting the best clinical care because of copyright


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Calling all Ferengi!

Posted on September 29th, 2006 at 12:39 by John Sinteur in category: News

[Quote:]

Starfleet surplus rummage sale!
Bargains, bargains, bargains! Own Captain Picard’s desk! Power your starship with dilithium crystals straight from Rura Penthe! Build your own Borg! Everything must go!


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Dramatic new video shows Halliburton contractors under fire in Iraq

Posted on September 29th, 2006 at 10:21 by John Sinteur in category: Mess O'Potamia

[Quote:]

A dramatic home video obtained by ABC News shows U.S. troops apparently abandoned a truck convoy after it came under insurgent attack in Iraq last year.

Three unarmed Halliburton truck drivers were executed at point-blank range once the troops left, according to a surviving driver, Preston Wheeler, of Mena, Ark., who taped the scene. “They was murdered. To me, they was murdered,” Wheeler told ABC News in an exclusive interview broadcast Wednesday on World News and Nightline.

[..]

Wheeler was hit by two AK-47 rounds and suffered serious damage to his right arm. Two months after the ambush, Halliburton notified him he was fired, citing a “work-related” injury.


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Does “More Rights” equal “material support”?

Posted on September 29th, 2006 at 10:14 by John Sinteur in category: News

[Quote:]

After the House voted 253-168 to set rules on tough interrogations and military tribunal proceedings, Speaker Dennis Hastert, R-Illinois, was even more critical than Boehner.

“Democrat Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and 159 of her Democrat colleagues voted today in favor of more rights for terrorists,” Hastert said in a statement.


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The intelligence report cites “leftist” groups as a terror threat

Posted on September 29th, 2006 at 10:01 by John Sinteur in category: News

[Quote:]

The now-declassified summary of the National Intelligence Estimate (PDF) on “Trends in Global Terrorism” focuses almost exclusively on Islamic extremists. But inserted at the very end is this one overlooked, though seemingly quite important, passage that identifies other terrorist threats:

“Anti-U.S. and anti-globalization sentiment is on the rise and fueling other radical ideologies. This could prompt some leftist, nationalist, or separatist groups to adopt terrorist methods to attack US interests. The radicalization process is occurring more quickly, more widely, and more anonymously in the Internet age, raising the likelihood of surprise attacks by unknown groups whose members and supporters may be difficult to pinpoint.” It continues: “We judge that groups of all stripes will increasingly use the Internet to communicate, propagandize, recruit, train and obtain logistical and financial support.”

Prior to 9/11, the worst terrorist attack on U.S. soil was in Oklahoma City, where Timothy McVeigh blew up a federal building in pursuit of his right-wing, anti-federal-government agenda. But there is nothing in the NIE findings about right-wing or anti-government groups. Instead, there is a rather stark warning about the danger of “leftist” groups using the Internet to engage in terrorist attacks against the United States. Is there any basis at all for that warning?

There have been scattered reports over the last several years that the Bush administration’s anti-terrorism programs have targeted domestic political groups solely because such groups espouse views contrary to the administration’s. That this claim about “leftist” terrorist groups made it into the NIE summary is particularly significant in light of the torture and detention bill that is likely soon to be enacted into law. That bill defines “enemy combatant” very broadly (and the definition may be even broader by the time it is enacted) and could easily encompass domestic groups perceived by the administration to be supporting a “terrorist agenda.”

Similarly, the administration has claimed previously that it eavesdrops on the conversations of Americans only where there is reasonable grounds (as judged by the administration) to believe that one of the parties is affiliated with a terrorist group. Does that include “leftist” groups that use the Internet to organize? This NIE finding gives rise to this critical question: Are “leftist” groups one of the principal targets on the anti-terrorism agenda of the Bush administration, and if so, aren’t the implications rather disturbing?

And if you’re teaching English, you’re an enemy combatant as well:

[Quote:]

“Enemy combatant” doesn’t just mean people fighting with the Taliban or Al Qaeda. It also includes people accused of giving “material support” to hostilities against the United States. It’s unclear what the definition is in the current bill. In the past, the government’s definition of “material support” has been an open ended one. We at CCR have been challenging the federal criminal statute prohibiting “material support” to foreign groups on State and Treasury Department terrorism blacklists since 1998, and we’ve won three times before the district court and twice before the Court of Appeals on claims that the law is, in the court’s words, so vague that it “could be construed to [criminalize] unequivocally pure speech and advocacy protected by the First Amendment.” In court the government has repeatedly said that merely teaching English or international law, political advocacy, or how to petition the United Nations can constitute material support if the person on the receiving end happens to be affiliated with a blacklisted group. So saying only “enemy combatants” can be detained without court review is no limitation at all when anyone guilty of teaching English to someone affiliated with any of the thousands of blacklisted groups qualifies as one. (Lest you think I’m exaggerating, the law on “material support” is even worse in the asylum context, where claims have been rejected because villagers gave a glass of water to militia groups at gunpoint (see page 18 of the linked report for one example).)


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This Is What Waterboarding Looks Like

Posted on September 29th, 2006 at 9:24 by John Sinteur in category: News, What were they thinking?

“The issue isn’t whether we are the same as the Nazis. The issue is, we aren’t different enough”

–Israeli historian Avi Schlaim

But you know what? It isn’t about the Nazis this time. It’s about the Khymer Rouge.

[Quote:]

Below are photographs taken by Jonah Blank last month at Tuol Sleng Prison in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. The prison is now a museum that documents Khymer Rouge atrocities. Blank, an anthropologist and former Senior Editor of US News & World Report, is author of the books Arrow of the Blue-Skinned God and Mullahs on the Mainframe. He is a professorial lecturer at Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies and has taught at Harvard and Georgetown. He currently is a foreign policy adviser to the Democratic staff in the Senate, but the views expressed here are his own observations.

His photos show one of the actual waterboards used by the Khymer Rouge. Here’s the first:

waterboard1-small.jpg

Here’s another view:

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How were they used? Here’s a painting by a former prisoner that shows the waterboard in action:

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In an email to me, Blank explained the significance of the photos. He wrote:

The crux of the issue before Congress can be boiled down to a simple question: Is waterboarding torture? Anybody who considers this practice to be “torture lite” or merely a “tough technique” might want to take a trip to Phnom Penh. The Khymer Rouge were adept at torture, and there was nothing “lite” about their methods. Incidentally, the waterboard in these photo wasn’t merely one among many torture devices highlighted at the prison museum. It was one of only two devices singled out for highlighting (the other was another form of water-torture–a tank that could be filled with water or other liquids; I have photos of that too.) There was an outdoor device as well, one the Khymer Rouge didn’t have to construct: chin-up bars. (The prison where the museum is located had been a school before the Khymer Rouge took over). These bars were used for “stress positions”– another practice employed under current US guidelines. At the Khymer Rouge prison, there is a tank of water next to the bars. It was used to revive prisoners for more torture when they passed out after being placed in stress positions.

The similarity between practices used by the Khymer Rouge and those currently being debated by Congress isn’t a coincidence. As has been amply documented (“The New Yorker” had an excellent piece, and there have been others), many of the “enhanced techniques” came to the CIA and military interrogators via the SERE [Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape] schools, where US military personnel are trained to resist torture if they are captured by the enemy. The specific types of abuse they’re taught to withstand are those that were used by our Cold War adversaries. Why is this relevant to the current debate? Because the torture techniques of North Korea, North Vietnam, the Soviet Union and its proxies–the states where US military personnel might have faced torture–were NOT designed to elicit truthful information. These techniques were designed to elicit CONFESSIONS. That’s what the Khymer Rouge et al were after with their waterboarding, not truthful information.

Bottom line: Not only do waterboarding and the other types of torture currently being debated put us in company with the most vile regimes of the past half-century; they’re also designed specifically to generate a (usually false) confession, not to obtain genuinely actionable intel. This isn’t a matter of sacrificing moral values to keep us safe; it’s sacrificing moral values for no purpose whatsoever.

These photos are important because most of us have never seen an actual, real-life waterboard. The press typically describes it in the most anodyne ways: a device meant to “simulate drowning” or to “make the prisoner believe he might drown.” But the Khymer Rouge were no jokesters, and they didn’t tailor their abuse to the dictates of the Geneva Convention. They– like so many brutal regimes–made waterboarding one of their primary tools for a simple reason: it is one of the most viciously effective forms of torture ever devised.

But in another way, it is about Nazi Germany:

Germany, 1933

“Even some of those who became Nazis at this time did not fully realize what they were doing. They might think that they stood for nationalism and socialism, were against the Jews and for the pre-1914-18 status quo, and many of them secretly looked forward to a new public adventure, a repeat of 1923. Still, they expected all that to take the humane forms usual in a civilized nation. Most of them would have been deeply shocked if one had suggested that what they really stood for were torture chambers and officially decreed pogroms (to name but two of the most obvious things, and these are certainly not yet the final horrific culmination). Even today there are Nazis who are shocked and alarmed if this is pointed out to them.”

Sebastian Haffner, Defying Hitler
New York: Farrar, Strauss, and Giroux, 2002


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  1. […] But the current Federal Administration, with its pornographic fascination with causing pain to others, betrays the vision of Founders and steals our freedom, sells out the vision, sells out the heritage which has made the United States of America, for all its faults, a hope for the world.   […]

Drums

Posted on September 29th, 2006 at 7:05 by John Sinteur in category: Great Picture


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Alligator shoes

Posted on September 28th, 2006 at 17:55 by John Sinteur in category: Joke, News

A young blonde was on vacation and driving through the Everglades wanted to take home a pair of genuine alligator shoes, but was very reluctant to pay the high prices the local vendors were asking. After becoming very frustrated with the “no haggle on prices” attitude of one of the shopkeepers, the blonde shouted, “Well then, maybe I’ll just go out and catch my own alligator, so I can get a pair of shoes for free!”

The shopkeeper said with a sly, knowing smile, “Little lady, just go and give it a try!” SoThe blonde headed out toward the swamps, determined to catch an alligator.

Later in the day, as the shopkeeper is driving home, he pulls over to the side of the levee where he spots the same young woman standing waist deep in the murky bayou water, shotgun in hand. Just then, he spots a huge 9-foot gator swimming rapidly toward her. With lightning speed, she takes aim, kills the creature and hauls it onto the slimy bank of the swamp.

Lying nearby were 7 more of the dead creatures, all lying on their backs.

The shopkeeper stood on the bank, watching in silent amazement. The blonde struggled and flipped the gator onto its back. Rolling her eyes heavenward and screaming in great frustration, she shouts out.. “SHIT… THIS ONE’S BAREFOOT, TOO!”


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