Ink & Paper

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Random Story Link Post

1. The Olsen Twins of the White Nationalist movement. Scary.

2."Is that music coming from your boob?"
"Why yes, yes it is."

3. Gay in the UAE? That's illegal son, here is your hormone treatment.

4. Hurricane Katrina? Anyone? Hello?

5. Your lung looks like a whore.*

6. Poland addresses communism's old nuclear plans.

That ought to keep you satisfied.

*Don't believe everything you read. Idiots.

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Friday, November 25, 2005

Of course, of course....

The LA Times reports:

President Bush will give a major speech Wednesday at the U.S. Naval Academy in which aides say he is expected to proclaim the improved readiness of Iraqi troops, which he has identified as the key condition for withdrawing U.S. forces.

The developments seemed to lay the groundwork for potentially large withdrawals in 2006 and 2007, consistent with scenarios outlined by Pentagon planners. The approach also tracks the thinking of some centrist Democrats such as Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr., D-Del., the senior Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

Some analysts say the emerging consensus might have less to do with conditions in Iraq than the long-term strain of the deployment on the U.S. military. And major questions over the readiness of Iraq's fledgling security forces pose risks for any strategy that calls for an accelerated American troop withdrawal.

As recently as late September, senior U.S. military commanders told a congressional hearing that just one Iraqi battalion, about 700 soldiers, was considered capable of conducting combat operations fully independent of any U.S. support. Administration officials now dismiss that measure of military readiness, saying more Iraqi units are able to perform advanced operations each day.

Bush's handling of the war has the support of about 35 percent of the public, according to the latest Gallup poll; other surveys have showed recently that only 40 percent of Americans believe the president is honest and trustworthy.

In recent months, Bush has rebuffed questions about a schedule for withdrawal, saying that providing a specific timetable would hearten insurgents and encourage them to wait out the Americans.

Other factors are also at work, including signs of a revised sense of Iraq's own military capabilities. Rice's upbeat statement earlier this week that Iraq forces "fairly soon" would be able to defend their country came just a few days after a brief trip to Iraq.

Some analysts see the same progress that Rice does, yet are worried that the White House might move too fast.

Gary J. Schmitt, director of advanced strategic studies at the American Enterprise Institute, said that while some Iraqi units have improved their capabilities, "to get a force that is really effective requires a lot more experience than this army is likely to have for years."

Ok, maybe I wasa little off on the "within 6 months" prediction. It appears that the bush administration is going to officially kick off the "Iraqi Troops are Ready" marketing plan as early as this upcoming Wednesday.

I admit that I hadn't considered the idea that a main reason for troop withdrawl might center around the concern over the strain placed upon the US military. I suppose that makes perfect sense though, especially when one looks at the missed Army recruiting target numbers and the lack of current soldiers "re-upping."

I'm not sure we in Canada truly realize the amount of business generated by a huge US military. It is an economic force and if it were to significantly dwindle, I suspect that it would adversely affect the greater US economy. Plus the aura of US military might is a source of national and political pride. Hence, I suppose, the concern over a weakened US military in the face of an ongoing war in Iraq. Hence, the pullout.

In humanitarian circles, the main concern with a quick US withdrawl is the fact that the Iraqi military is not, in any way, prepared to deal with the insurgency. Today, for example, at least 30 people were killed and 27 wounded when a car bomb exploded outside a hospital in a town south of Baghdad. Doesn't sound much like a safe haven for anyone. Doesn't sound like the insurgency has any trouble blowing up hospitals and people. Doesn't seem like Iraqi forces can prevent things like this from happening.

What a rock and a hard place, hey? If the US pulls out, there is a better than excellent chance that Iraq will slip into a religious civil war, creating a perfect environment for terrorists to train, as well as a prime scenario for an authoritarian type of religious government to come to power. Iran isn't that far away you know.

But if the US "stays the course" as bush was so found of saying, we are going to see more civilian deaths, more insurgency bombings, more chaos, as this appears to be a neverending cycle of violence. Also we will continue to see US troops suffer more deaths and maimings. I consider the politics and political fallout of troops remaining as nothing more than minor. I frankly don't care about US political careers when kids are dying in Baghdad streets.

How, ladies and gentlemen, did we get to here? How will history record this era? How do make this right?

The fact is that we cannot right this wrong. Time might, but we can't. It's broke and we can't fix it. And people will die.

A sovereign thought, delivered to your door at 8:32 PM ~~ 0 bonsai trees

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CKUA Fall Fundraiser appreciation letter.

Imagine all the people that came together to make this campaign such a delightful success and that helped us raise $509,016!

Total Donors - 4,787
New Donors - 1,545
New Ongoing Subscribers - 831
Volunteers - 227
Staff, Management, and Board - 60
Sponsors and Food Donors - 63

WOW! That's over 7,500 people! Thank you to all of our CKUA family, new members and old, for sharing the love, showing your overwhelming support, and contributing to the collective whole, which made this campaign one for the record books!

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Thursday, November 24, 2005

you are Tom Waits!
Tom Waits... charismatic story-teller with a
penchant for freaky people and unusual
settings. You thrive on the concept of the
underdog coming out on top.

Which fucked-up genius composer are you?
brought to you by Quizilla

A sovereign thought, delivered to your door at 10:43 PM ~~ 8 bonsai trees

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I fucking told you.

Times Online.

PRESIDENT BUSH is planning a major pullout of US troops from Iraq amid rising opposition to the war on Capitol Hill and across America.

After a fortnight in which the political debate has rapidly moved from how to fight the war to how best to get out of Iraq, the White House is looking at reducing troop levels by at least 60,000 next year.

Confirming the worst fears of the war's conservative supporters, who argue that more troops are needed to defeat the insurgency, senior military officials made clear yesterday that the Bush Administration's goal is to cut troop levels from 160,000 to below 100,000 by the end of 2006.

Condoleezza Rice, the Secretary of State, far from denying the withdrawal plan first reported in The Washington Post, said that a gradual pullout of troops could begin "fairly soon", and that the number of coalition troops is "clearly going to come down".

Dr Rice told Fox News that the US will not need to maintain its present troop levels in Iraq for "very much longer", because Iraqi security forces are "stepping up". She added: "I think that's how the President will want to look at this." (emphasis mine)

Amazing how the Iraqi security forces have managed to go from total disorganization to "stepping up" in a mere week or two, isn't it?

Goodbye Iraq, send us a postcard in 5 or 10 years, once the oncoming civil war finally peters out.

More below, I wrote a lot today.

A sovereign thought, delivered to your door at 7:51 PM ~~ 1 bonsai trees

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"Awake, blink, the public snooze button may be turned off."

Yahoo News reports....

The new Pew Research Center survey, done in association with the Council on Foreign Relations, of 2,006 Americans and 520 specialists in foreign affairs, security, religion, science, engineering and the military (in the interests of transparency, I should note that I was one of those surveyed) revealed some dramatic insights into thinking on the war.

In short, isolationist feelings are growing in the country -- feelings remarkably similar to those that followed both the Vietnam War in the 1970s and the end of the Cold War in the 1990s. Americans are feeling less unilateralist and more multilateralist. In every section, there was less support for the Bush goals of force-feeding "democracy" around the world. A more direct rebuke to the entire dogma of this administration could scarcely be found.

Fully 42 percent in the general public agreed with the statement that the U.S. should "mind its own business internationally and let other countries get along the best they can on their own" -- up from 30 percent in a related poll of December 2002, four months before the Iraq war started.

Again in the public part of the survey (which comprised random surveying with a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 2.5 percentage points), nearly three-quarters said the U.S. should play a shared leadership role, and only 25 percent wanted the country to be the most active in international leadership.

In findings paralleling other recent polls and surveys, majorities from both the public and the opinion leader sectors said they disapproved of how the president is handling his job, with 52 percent of the public expressing disapproval and opinion leaders expressing higher levels.
The Pew/Council report stated that the Iraq war "has had a profound impact" on the way opinion leaders and the public "view America's global role, looming international threats and the Bush administration's stewardship of the nation's foreign policy."

These findings are supported by virtually every other current poll and survey. But what is unique about this one is the strong rejection of just about every facet, principle and ideological position that has informed the thinking and actions of the small band of zealots who took over this country five years ago and led it to where we are today.

It is important to further drive home the gap between the public and the politicians by remembering that it was bush who appointed (and rammed through, depending on who you ask) John Bolton to be the next US ambassador to the United Nations, the beacon of multilateralism.

From the March 8, 2005 copy of the Washington Post

President Bush named Undersecretary of State John R. Bolton yesterday as the next U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, a surprise choice that would send an outspoken critic of the world body's effectiveness to its inner councils.

Throughout the current administration's first term, Bolton was often at odds with the United Nations and related institutions.

He spearheaded U.S. opposition to the International Criminal Court, declaring that the day he signed the letter withdrawing the U.S. signature on the treaty was "the happiest moment of my government service." He was the force behind Bush's Proliferation Security Initiative, a coalition designed to halt trade in nuclear materials that bypassed the United Nations. And he pressed the administration's unsuccessful campaign to deny a third term to Mohamed ElBaradei, director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency.

On the eve of six-nation talks over North Korea's nuclear ambitions two years ago, Bolton traveled to Seoul and denounced North Korean leader Kim Jong Il in highly personal terms. He labeled Kim a "tyrannical dictator" who had made North Korea "a hellish nightmare" -- which prompted the North Korean government to call him "human scum and bloodsucker."

Bolton also frequently riled European allies with his uncompromising stands -- and his disdain for their fledging efforts to secure an agreement with Iran to end its nuclear programs.

I realize that this info on Bolton is a little dated, but it was the most unbiased I could find, especially after his nomination hearing debacle, which you can learn more about here. At the very least Bolton is not a pro-UN kind of guy, something that is increasingly at odds with recent US population polls.

More below...

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I was going to post something else, but it will have to wait until tomorrow, as something else (I feel) needs to be addressed.

For those of you who don't know, or who are out of country, this past weekend saw two unconnected murders in Edmonton, claiming the lives of two teenage boys, unknown to each other. Both of these murders occurred at house parties that turned violent. There have been arrests in both cases and emotions are running high as Edmontonians struggle to understand the violence. Some people claim the sky is falling, other people say these are isolated incidents. Political views, specifically the politics surrounding young offenders and their punishments, are starting to emerge.

Along with the shock of these deaths, a disturbing trend has reared its ugly head in these past few days, that being the spectre of racism and just how entrenched it is in Canada. Specifically I have found it sad to see the different levels of media coverage with regards to the recent deaths of Cameron Campbell and Shane Rolston.

Both of these deaths are abhorrent and should shock the entire Edmonton community. Last I heard the main difference between the two deaths is that Campbell's assailant knew him directly, while it appears that Rolston was in the wrong place at the wrong time. And yet, Campbell's death seems to have been quickly shuffled off the front pages, while Rolston's remains prominent in the headlines.

Just today a local TV station had at least 10 minutes of their six o'clock broadcast dedicated to Rolston's death, without any mention of Campbell or his family. The Edmonton Journal, usually a decent paper, has run at least one major story, often on one of the front pages, on Rolston and his death. Campbell's story, as mentioned, is seemingly on the editorial cutting room floor.

Rolston was white and died in Sherwood Park, an affluent and largely white suburb of Edmonton. Campbell was of native ancestry and died in a north Edmonton house that was "known to police." I guess that means it was a bad house, which seems to be a cowardly way of justifying and marginalizing his death.

Is Campbell's death less newsworthy because he is of aboriginal ancestry? Or is it because his death occurred in a less affluent part of the greater Edmonton area? Or is it both? Do we even care?

It is a sad reality that while we profess to be a nation of tolerance and multiculturalism, we continue to assign value to a human life based upon the color of their skin, the roots of their ancestry, and their economic position in the community.

For shame.

The loss of both of these lives is a tragedy and I am sure that both sets of parents are mourning. But the coverage by Edmonton's media, from TV to newspapers to radio, has been staggeringly unbalanced and unflinchingly unapolegetic in their bias. It is time that we address not only the disparity in value we assign to a human life, but also the failure of our media to adequately portray the news in a balanced way.

Lastly, and unrrelated, is the fact that Friday, November 25, 2005 is the first day after the American Thanksgiving and is traditionally one of the biggest days for retailers, as consumers kick off the Christmas spending sprint. It is that reason that AdBusters has declared November 25 "Buy Nothing Day." I have kindly provided a link on the left side of this page and I urge you to check it out.

Along with becoming more informed about this movement, I also urge you to consider your consumer habits. Hey, I'm no angel in this department, I admit. But just think about what you buy versus what you need. Reflect upon yourself. You end up smarter and best of all, it's free.

A sovereign thought, delivered to your door at 7:41 PM ~~ 5 bonsai trees

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Wednesday, November 23, 2005

What a clown.

What did I tell you? The bells are starting to toll rather loudly for a politically clean troop reduction in Iraq. The Washington Post reports:

Barring any major surprises in Iraq, the Pentagon tentatively plans to reduce the number of U.S. forces there early next year by as many as three combat brigades, from 18 now, but to keep at least one brigade "on call" in Kuwait in case more troops are needed quickly, several senior military officers said.

Pentagon authorities also have set a series of "decision points" during 2006 to consider further force cuts that, under a "moderately optimistic" scenario, would drop the total number of troops from more than 150,000 now to fewer than 100,000, including 10 combat brigades, by the end of the year, the officers said.

U.S. military commanders, too, continue to favor a gradual, phased reduction, saying that too rapid a departure would sacrifice strategic gains made over the past 30 months and provide a propaganda windfall to insurgents.

The Iraqi military has experienced rapid growth in combat units this year, but it continues to suffer from much slower development of transportation, engineering and other critical support elements. That will require U.S. forces to provide backup for months, U.S. officers said.

There are also concerns about Iraq's new police force and the presence of militias. Last week, U.S. troops discovered a secret Interior Ministry facility holding more than 170 detainees, many of whom said they had been treated badly. It had been run by members of the Badr Brigade, a Shiite militia loyal to Iraq's largest political faction.

"What it illustrates is that we have failed to form a unified police force," said a U.S. official involved in Iraq policy. "There are now militias all over Iraq that operate freely and as an arm of political coercion."

I made mention of this last week and as of today, it looks like the marketing plans are slowly being developed. Floating the idea of troop reductions is a good political move, something that will bolster the politicians polls.

Part two of the marketing plan, which we haven't seen yet, will involve a concerted "praising" of Iraqi troops and politicians and their readiness to take on the governing of the country. We aren't there yet, the US official is quoted as saying "...we have failed to form a unified police force (in Iraq)." But rest assured, within 6 months we will begin to hear how prepared Iraq is to completely embrace democracy and freedom and how, having freed the Iraqi people, the US troops will be coming home.

I bet you.

You should also read this article, which raises the issue of judging the bush administration not by the weekly mistakes, but by the sum of all the parts. A failed presidency? I think you know how I feel about that answer.

A sovereign thought, delivered to your door at 7:03 PM ~~ 6 bonsai trees

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Tuesday, November 22, 2005

From: Daily Kos
Data here.

A sovereign thought, delivered to your door at 11:44 PM ~~ 1 bonsai trees

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My friends are assholes. Thanks guys.

Music Notes like treble clefs.....

The National Playlist is something you should listen to.

Goddamn, Bedouin Soundclash is awesome.

And iTunes Canada could prove to be my financial ruin. If you haven't downloaded it and you don't have a wise NerdFriend like the Glorious Mr. T, then you will be doomed to listen to Theory of a NickelCreed until your ears rip themselves off your head and heave themselves into a vat of acid.

True story.

iTunes. So cheap, so easy.

Where is Scott Dodds with a dead hooker joke when I need him?

Ah, I love crossing the line.

Serious mini-essay below......

A sovereign thought, delivered to your door at 8:08 PM ~~ 2 bonsai trees

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A few days too late to be totally current. Sorry.


The Pentagon's admission - despite earlier denials - that US troops used white phosphorus as a weapon in Falluja last year is more than a public relations issue - it has opened up a debate about the use of this weapon in modern warfare.

(An) article, written by a captain, a first lieutenant and a sergeant, was a review of the attack on Falluja in November 2004 and in particular of the use of indirect fire, mainly mortars.

"WP proved to be an effective and versatile munition. We used it for screening missions at two breeches and, later in the fight, as a potent psychological weapon against the insurgents in trench lines and spider holes where we could not get effects on them with HE [High Explosive]. We fired "shake and bake" missions at the insurgents, using WP to flush them out and HE to take them out," the article said.

In another passage the authors noted that they could have used other smoke munitions and "saved our WP for lethal missions".

The debate about WP centres partly though not wholly on whether it is really a chemical weapon. Such weapons are outlawed by the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) to which the United States is a party.

The CWC is monitored by the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, based in The Hague. Its spokesman Peter Kaiser was asked if WP was banned by the CWC and he had this to say:

"No it's not forbidden by the CWC if it is used within the context of a military application which does not require or does not intend to use the toxic properties of white phosphorus. White phosphorus is normally used to produce smoke, to camouflage movement.

"If that is the purpose for which the white phosphorus is used, then that is considered under the Convention legitimate use.

"If on the other hand the toxic properties of white phosphorus, the caustic properties, are specifically intended to be used as a weapon, that of course is prohibited, because the way the Convention is structured or the way it is in fact applied, any chemicals used against humans or animals that cause harm or death through the toxic properties of the chemical are considered chemical weapons."

The last few paragraphs are the kicker of this whole shebang, the argument about whether the use of WP in Falluja was intended only as a smokescreen for troop movements (legal) or was used as a direct tool of attack on Iraqi insurgents (not so legal).

Before I get going, is it just me, or does it seem like this "definition" of the use of WP is more than a little weak? It sure as hell leaves a nice little loophole for a military to wiggle through if they use WP as a weapon and get caught doing so. "Well you see, the wind picked up. And Ahmed's face burned off. Act of God. Our God."

I mean, really, why even bother writing this two-sided definition? It serves no purpose, especially when the use of WP occurred over a year ago. Either it is or it isn't a chemical weapon. And, in my opinion, when it can burn you to the bone, it probably is a chemical weapon, whether or not it was used for that purpose.

Furthermore, and correct me if I'm wrong, but wasn't the whole point of invading Iraq to rid the country of those still-in-hiding WMDs? Don't you remember the hoopla before the war of how Saddam had nuclear and chemical weapons ready to launch at Hometown, USA? And now, almost 3 years later, and with no WMDs found, the US has decided to flaunt yet another set of

international rules of war by using WP as a weapon.

Juan Cole writes:
You can't go to war against Saddam on the grounds that he has stockpiles of chemical weapons, and then turn around and use incendiary bombs of a sort that much of the world regards as a form of chemical weapon. It is the hypocrisy factor. Not to mention that the international community is trying to get such weapons banned.

I was recently listening to CBC Radio One, and a particular show had ex-US ambassador to Canada Paul Cellucci on as a guest. It was a call in show, so a bunch of idiots were calling in and talking without saying anything worthwhile.

I was floored. Not by Cellucci's pro-war, pro-bush stance, I already knew about that. I was more surprised at the number of callers that were still pro-war, going so far as to say that the USA was the "pinnacle of civilization."

This was happening on CBC. I'd expect it on 630 Ched, but CBC?

Am I so out of the mainstream that I am the only one amazed by the idea that people can still find the US a beacon of justice and fairplay?

I was swearing at the radio. After all we have seen and heard, people still are calling in and saying that what the US has done and is doing is serving to protect us from attack. I find that hard to believe, especially with the growing cries from the US population to get the troops out of Iraq now, effectively leaving the place with even more of a power vacuum.

If that is the case, me being so out of the mainstream, I might as well buy a Conservatve party membership and a gun.

On another note, rumours are starting to gain a lot of momentum in regards to the inevitable withdrawl of US forces from Iraq. Close bush supporters, including high ranking GOP members, are setting up the stage for an argument to bring home the soldiers. The WP issue (and others) seems to have finally put a lot of heat on Congressmen and women, politicians who would like to be re-elected in 2006. Never doubt the desire of a politician to save their own ass.

Watch for it. In the next 6 months you will see a decisive shift in rhetoric coming from the White House, rhetoric that will extoll the virtues and preparedness of Iraqi forces to take on the main security details of day to day Iraq. Hints will be given about how "Iraq is now more stable than ever" and "Iraqis have begun to embrace 'freedom' and subsequently have weakened the insurgency" etc etc. We will see the rhetoric run up to the eventual announcement, probably in early 2007, that the troops are coming home. Much back slapping will ensue.

And Iraq will launch itself into a full scale civil war, further destabilizing the Middle East, driving gas prices through the roof, and becoming a prime breeding ground and training area for al-Queda.

A quote to end, via Juan Cole (again)

"In Taji, Alwan, the Sunni army captain, was ready to set a timeline for significant U.S. withdrawal. "Two years," Alwan said. If the Americans pull out before that -- before the government is steady, the constitution set and the army trained -- it "means we would go to civil conflict," he said."

A sovereign thought, delivered to your door at 6:40 PM ~~ 3 bonsai trees

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Monday, November 21, 2005

How Not to Suck at Life

Does your family refer to you as a horrible, horrible mistake? Does your significant other tell his/her friends that you are way short of Urkel-cool? Do you walk down Whyte Ave and talk with homeless people? Do you look in the mirror and see this guy?

Then you need help. Serious "save me Jevus" help.

Leaving Juneau can help.
  1. November 29th 18+ CD release show! 7pm, Sidetrack Cafe. $7 at the door, $5 in advance.
  2. Pick up copies of SEE Magazine and VUE Weekly this upcoming Thursday and read interviews with Jeff, lead singer and under-18 groupie magnet of Leaving Juneau.
  3. Tune into CJSR (88.5FM) this upcoming Saturday between 2 and 4pm to hear Jeff do an interview and play a song live.
  4. Keep and eye on the Edmonton Journal between now and the end of November for a feature on the band.
  5. Buy their CD, either at the show or at Megatunes on Whyte, or both, after November 29. About 12 clams, plus the tax.
  6. Preview the disc by clicking here. Dancing allowed.
Do it.

A sovereign thought, delivered to your door at 5:26 PM ~~ 3 bonsai trees

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Sunday, November 20, 2005

Och. Aye.

Starting off with a 7 on 1 kidnapping, complete with duct tape and Agent Starfish, my stag was a roaring success. Off to road hockey, where Jeff the Best Man proceeded to score 6 goals, one of which was on his own team.

Then it was off to Julio's Barrio for some spicy Mexican food, which was good. Then off to some other bar for cheap drinks. All the while I was sporting a Special Olympics T-shirt, the good ole green Caps cardigan, and some kind of Keebler-elf tuque, complete with ears. I nixed the 1978 John Travolta white polyester pants, as they left nothing to the imagination.

Then to the Billiard Club, where we ruled the pool table, drank some boozahol, and generally made minor asses of ourselves until 2am or so.

Then I spent a wonderful night sleeping on my brothers apartment floor, with a chair cushion as a pillow. Until 7am, when Todd (who scored the couch) moseyed us back to Beaumont, where I proceeded to sleep for 7 of the next 9 hours. Then off to soccer, more exhausted then hungover, where we lost 4-0. Sweet.

Thanks to Jeff for organizing the stag, and for all my hoser friends who enjoyed abusing me. Oh, and during the kidnap takedown, we managed to dent the metal face at the bottom of the dishwasher. Boys will be boys.


A sovereign thought, delivered to your door at 8:17 PM ~~ 3 bonsai trees

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