Archive for April, 2009

Yup, that one just wasn’t bright

At first I didn’t think much of the “scare” put into Manhattan yesterday by Air Force One and its fighter escort. But once I saw the pictures, it was all too easy to see how ominous it would have seemed.

And how stupid somebody was to approve it.

af one

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Did Obama ‘borrow’ Voltaire’s prayer?

“I have never made but one prayer to God, a very short one: ‘Oh Lord, make my enemies ridiculous.’ And God granted it.”
— Voltaire

Somehow, I think Barack Obama must have been praying the same prayer. Otherwise, how could you explain things like this?

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What are they going to think of next?

In an earlier AJC gig, I wrote a column about cool and cutting-edge technology. Those were simpler times.

But I still have a fascination with things such as … an implantable telescope!

“The device, which is smaller than a pencil eraser and can be implanted during an outpatient procedure, works a bit like a telephoto lens in a camera: it enlarges the image that falls onto the retina so that it extends beyond the damaged area. In human studies, 60 percent of patients could read at least three lines further on an eye chart after the telescope was implanted. The device is approved for use in Europe, and an advisory panel for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has unanimously recommended approval.”

Continue reading What are they going to think of next? »

What the future holds for Iraq

American military officials have opened the door to keeping combat troops in Mosul and perhaps other areas of Iraq beyond the June 30 deadline. But so far, Iraqi leaders seem to be rejecting the idea, at least in public.

In an interview with the BBC, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki argued that U.S. troops aren’t needed:

“As we agreed at the beginning when we signed the withdrawal agreement, these deadlines are final and absolute and not open to postponement.

“And there’s no need for delay, because the kind of attacks we’re seeing now, using mentally ill women, loading them up with explosives and having them blow themselves up — that will go on.

“So the presence of armed forces, with tanks and armoured vehicles inside the towns, is useless in this context.

“This is intelligence work, and our people are stronger than the Americans at that, because we’re dealing with our own people.

“We are absolutely convinced that the withdrawal will not lead to a collapse of security. …

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Threat of flu pandemic increases

Two words you don’t like to see together: “Global pandemic.” But that’s what officials in Washington are now talking about. From the New York Times:

“Responding to what some health officials feared could be the leading edge of a global pandemic emerging from Mexico, American health officials declared a public health emergency on Sunday as 20 cas.

Other nations imposed travel bans or made plans to quarantine air travelers as confirmed cases also appeared in Mexico and Canada and suspect cases emerged elsewhere.

Top global flu experts struggled to predict how dangerous the new A (H1N1) swine flu strain would be as it became clear that they had too little information about Mexico’s outbreak — in particular how many cases had occurred in what is thought to be a month before the outbreak was detected, and whether the virus was mutating to be more lethal, or less.

As a news conference in Washington, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano called the emergency declaration …

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Free swim

But please, don’t stay in the house all day.

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From the Republican National Committee

Now go outside and play.

UPDATE: Just thought I’d add this:

“WASHINGTON — The CIA inspector general in 2004 found that there was no conclusive proof that waterboarding or other harsh interrogation techniques helped the Bush administration thwart any “specific imminent attacks,” according to recently declassified Justice Department memos.

That undercuts assertions by former vice president Dick Cheney and other former Bush administration officials that the use of harsh interrogation tactics including waterboarding, which is widely considered torture, was justified because it headed off terrorist attacks.”

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To usher y’all into a spectacular weekend

Smoking Joe and Bnois King, Texas guitar blues at its finest…. and they’re playing tonight at Blind Willie’s…..

Continue reading To usher y’all into a spectacular weekend »

This isn’t what I thought ‘victory’ looked like

From CNN:

BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) — At least two suicide attackers killed at least 60 people Friday near a holy Shia shrine in Baghdad, according to Iraq’s Interior Ministry and medical sources.

At least 125 others were wounded when the bombers struck on two roads leading to the Imam Musa al-Kadhim shrine, one of the holiest in the Shia Islam religion.”

The attacks come a day after 87 were killed by attacks by suicide bombers in Diyala province and Baghdad. Most of those victims were also Shia.

The relative peace purchased in Iraq by U.S. government payouts to Sunni militias seems to be ending as those payments end. And rather than respond through politics or the ballot box, the Sunnis are reverting to the bomb.

Good thing we’ve already declared victory, right guys?

Continue reading This isn’t what I thought ‘victory’ looked like »

Sifting for truth in torture claims

Ali Soufan, an FBI interrogator, writes in the NYT yesterday that “for seven years I have remained silent about the false claims magnifying the effectiveness of the so-called enhanced interrogation techniques like waterboarding.”

But with the release of the memos, Soufan comes clean about his experience:

“One of the most striking parts of the memos is the false premises on which they are based. The first, dated August 2002, grants authorization to use harsh interrogation techniques on a high-ranking terrorist, Abu Zubaydah, on the grounds that previous methods hadn’t been working. The next three memos cite the successes of those methods as a justification for their continued use.

It is inaccurate, however, to say that Abu Zubaydah had been uncooperative. Along with another FBI agent, and with several CIA officers present, I questioned him from March to June 2002, before the harsh techniques were introduced later in August. Under traditional interrogation methods, he provided …

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