SmooveJ
:: 6/21/2004 ::

Movin On UP

At long last, the moment you've all been waiting for. After months of tinkering, I'm making the leap. This site has now officially moved to
www.frazao.org

See you there.

:: Little Brother is watching at 6/21/2004 10:12:00 PM :: posted by SmooveJ :: permalink ::

Bonnaroo

Finally posted some pictures from Bonnaroo. Check them out if you think you're qualified.


:: Little Brother is watching at 6/21/2004 12:57:00 PM :: posted by SmooveJ :: permalink ::

:: 6/18/2004 ::

A lovely little tale

I just saw the most amazing thing happen.

This little old lady was standing by the side of a busy road trying to work up the courage to step into the street to hail a cab. About 50 feet away two white cops stood by their cars casually chatting to each other over a Starbucks.

I watched as a young black guy walked up to the old woman and offered to help her flag down a taxi. I couldn't hear what she said, but the relief on her face was clearly visible - she wasn't having any success, and definitely appreciated the help.

Meanwhile, the cops are standing around chatting and watching this whole episode unfold.

The black guy stepped out into the street and put his hand up in the universal sign for "I need a cab", and not 15 seconds later a cab with no passengers and it's "On Duty" lights on went speeding by.

Obviously, this wasn't the first time the guy had been dissed by a taxi. Shaking his head, he glanced over at the cops with a look of exasperation on his face.

Here's where it gets incredible.

Without a moment's hesitation, one of the cops goes "That's bullshit" and JUMPED into his car and took off after the cab. Sadly, I couldn't see whether or not he caught him because they went around a corner.

It was a heartening little vignette. Everything from some guy helping an old lady get a cab, to the old lady not being all like "Help! A black person!!", to the cops actually doing the right thing.

All in all, a great way to end the week.

:: Little Brother is watching at 6/18/2004 05:16:00 PM :: posted by SmooveJ :: permalink ::

:: 6/16/2004 ::

Bush on Religion

At yesterday's news conference, Bush was asked to respond to Ron Reagan's eulogy of his father on Saturday:
"Q He said that politicians should not wear religious faith on their sleeve. And a lot of Republicans interpreted those remarks as being critical of you and your position on stem cell. I'd like to ask you about that.

"PRESIDENT BUSH: Whether or not a politician should wear their -- I've always said I think it's very important for someone not to try to take the speck out of somebody else's eye when they may have a log in their own. In other words, I'm very mindful about saying, you know, oh, vote for me, I'm more religious than my neighbor. And I think it's -- I think it's perfectly -- I think it's important for people of religion to serve. I think it is very important for people who are serving to make sure there is a separation of church and state."

Thanks for clearing that up.

Moron.

:: Little Brother is watching at 6/16/2004 04:12:00 PM :: posted by SmooveJ :: permalink ::

:: 6/07/2004 ::

A Fitting Tribute to Ronald Reagan

There has been, and will continue to be, a lot of talk about how to honor our 40th President. Instead of putting his smiling face on a coin or on Mount Rushmore perhaps we should give him the memorial Nancy Reagan has asked for:
In a rare appearance last month, former first lady Nancy Reagan spoke at an event to raise money for embryo stem cell research. She hoped, she said, that others would benefit from research on such diseases as Alzheimer's, which had afflicted her husband, Ronald.

"Ronnie's long journey has finally taken him to a distant place where I can no longer reach him," she said. "Because of this, I'm determined to do whatever I can to save other families from this pain."

Reagan, 82, who was married to the nation's 40th president for 52 years, had been by the ailing president's side, particularly as the family publicly acknowledged his bout with the disease 10 years ago.

Reagan's recent public support of stem cell research, however, has put her at odds with other Republicans, including President George W. Bush, who opposes the research.

Still, Reagan, whose support carries much clout, is doing what she says she has to do. "I just don't see how we can turn our back on this," she said at the fund-raiser.

Luckily, not all countries have been taken over by fundamentalist regimes. The UK has recently opened the world's first stem cell bank, and Australia announced today that it would
distribute embryonic stem cell lines free of charge to scientists who want to use them for research.

Many scientists believe that embryonic stem cell research has the potential to yield profound insights into a range of afflictions, including Parkinson's disease and Alzheimer's disease. Sadly, the Bush Administration has made it illegal to distribute federal funds to American researchers who work in what has quickly become the most active areas of biological discovery.
Although the first human embryonic stem cell line was created in the United States, the majority of new embryonic cell lines - colonies of potent cells with the ability to create any type of tissue in the human body - are now being created overseas, a concrete sign that American science is losing its pre-eminence in a key field of 21st-century research. Nearly three years ago, the Bush administration prohibited the use of federal funds to work with any embryonic cell lines created after Aug. 9, 2001, because of moral concerns over the destruction of human embryos. At the time, the president said there would be more than 60 lines of these cells available. But today there are only 19 usable lines created before that date, and that number is never likely to rise above 23, according to the National Institutes of Health.

However, the number of cell lines available to the world's researchers, but off-limits to U.S. government-funded researchers, is now much higher: at least 51. It could rise to more than 100 over the coming year. There are three new lines in Dvorak's lab, with four more in progress. And there are also new lines in Sweden, Israel, Finland, and South Korea. Last week, the world's first public bank of embryonic stem cells opened in Britain, a country where there are at least five new lines and more on the way.

"Science is like a stream of water, because it finds its way," said Susan Fisher, a stem-cell researcher at the University of California at San Francisco. "And now it has found its way outside the United States."

:: Little Brother is watching at 6/07/2004 09:06:00 AM :: posted by SmooveJ :: permalink ::

:: 6/04/2004 ::

George Bush - Master of the Obvious

Bush then presented the pope with the medal, calling John Paul "a devoted servant of God."

No shit, Sherlock. He's the fucking Pope.

:: Little Brother is watching at 6/04/2004 12:26:00 PM :: posted by SmooveJ :: permalink ::

:: 6/03/2004 ::

Crazy Here, Crazy There, Tons O' Crazy Everywhere

Don't have much time for blogging today, but get a load of these two articles:

Crazy Article #1:
The LAPD's figures show a 5% year-on-year rise in homicides from Jan to April 2004.

And while the number of homicides fell in some neighbourhoods last year, it only ever continued to rise in the hardcore gang areas.

In civil-rights lawyer Connie Rice's words, the officers are simply "shovelling quicksand" - and without more equipment, back-up, effective witness protection, training and, crucially, more officers, they are fighting a losing battle.

And she should know. Having worked with the community and the LAPD on various initiatives and reform programmes ever since the 1992 Rodney King case sparked riots, she is now about to begin investigating the newly re-opened Rampart police corruption scandal inquiry.

Aside from a rising homicide rate, Ms Rice warns that the gangs are crossing a line that has not been crossed before: They are now targeting police officers themselves.

She says: "It's one thing for gangsters to exchange fire with the police in situations, but we are now starting to see sniping. We are now seeing the ambushing of cops by gangsters and we should be panicking.

"We are on the way to a point of no return and we will end up in a Falluja situation. It is already a Falluja situation in some areas. LA is on the road to Falluja."


Crazy Article #2:
Bush Administration Freed Terror Suspect

Nabil al-Marabh, once imprisoned as the No. 27 man on the FBI's list of must-capture terror suspects, is free again. He's free despite telling a Jordanian informant he planned to die a martyr by driving a gasoline truck into a New York City tunnel, turning it sideways, opening its fuel valves and having an al-Qaida operative shoot a flare to ignite a massive explosion.

Free despite telling the FBI he had trained on rifles and rocket propelled grenades at militant camps in Afghanistan and after admitting he sent money to a former roommate convicted of trying to blow up a hotel in Jordan.

Free despite efforts by prosecutors in Detroit and Chicago to indict him on charges that could have kept him in prison for years. Those indictments were rejected by the Justice Department in the name of protecting intelligence. Even two judges openly questioned al-Marabh's terror ties.

The Bush administration in January deported al-Marabh to Syria — his home and a country the U.S. government long has regarded as a sponsor of terrorism.

:: Little Brother is watching at 6/03/2004 03:02:00 PM :: posted by SmooveJ :: permalink ::

:: 6/02/2004 ::

Kidnappers target, torture Iraq's best doctors

Horrible:
For two months, someone has been kidnapping the best doctors in Iraq. Health officials and doctors estimate that as many as 100 surgeons, specialists and general physicians have been abducted from their homes and clinics since the beginning of April. Some were beaten and tortured. Most were released after the payment of between $20,000 and $200,000 in ransom.

Already plagued by outdated equipment and drug shortages, Iraq's fragile health-care system is buckling under this new security threat. Some doctors who have not been kidnapped have fled Iraq — just as the nation most needs their help.

"We are losing the brain power of our most brilliant doctors," said Dr. Sami Salman, internist and medical director at the Special Care hospital at Baghdad's Medical City health-care complex. "You can't just replace these people overnight."

Ransom, it seems, is not the only motivation for the crimes. In many cases, abductors have ordered the physicians to leave Iraq, sometimes setting a deadline. Iraqi officials fear that the abductions and threats are an organized attempt to cripple the country's healthcare network, likening the tactics to terrorist attacks on the country's oil pipelines or electricity plants.

"These are not purely thieves," said Dr. Amir Kuzaii, deputy health minister. "These people have different aims. They are professionals. They want to paralyze the basic functions of the country."

:: Little Brother is watching at 6/02/2004 04:45:00 PM :: posted by SmooveJ :: permalink ::

Why Do Umbrellas Hate America?










First of all, notice that the guy next to him doesn't seem to be having any trouble at all. Unless perhaps this was a "God tried to suck George Bush into the blades of the presidential helicopter" sort of event.

In any case, someone else might have assessed the situation, surmised that the umbrella was hopelessly screwy, and put it down instead of stubbornly holding it up as if nothing were seriously wrong.

But that wouldn't really be George Bush's style, would it?

:: Little Brother is watching at 6/02/2004 11:25:00 AM :: posted by SmooveJ :: permalink ::

:: 5/28/2004 ::

Funny Shit

Not much time for blogging lately, but here's some funny stuff to check out:

:: Little Brother is watching at 5/28/2004 02:17:00 PM :: posted by SmooveJ :: permalink ::

:: 5/27/2004 ::

Group Unearths Part of Ancient University

Cool:
Polish archaeologists have unearthed 13 lecture halls believed to be the first traces ever found of ancient Egypt's University of Alexandria, the head of the project said Wednesday.

"This is the oldest university ever found in the world," Grzegory Majderek, head of the Polish mission, told The Associated Press.

The lecture halls, with a capacity of 5,000 students, are part of the 5th century university, which functioned until the 7th century, according to a statement from Egypt's Supreme Council of Antiquities.

"This is the first material evidence of the existence of academic life in Alexandria," Majderek said. Knowledge of earlier intellectual pursuits in the Mediterranean coastal city came through historical and literary documents and materials.

Ancient Alexandria was home to a library, which was founded about 295 B.C. and burned to the ground in the 4th century. Ruins were never found, but Alexandria was an intellectual center where scholars are thought to have produced the Septuagint, the Greek translation of the Old Testament, and edited Homer's works.

The auditoriums were found near the portico of the Roman Theater in the eastern part of the ancient city.

All the lecture halls are of identical dimensions. Each contains rows of stepped benches in a form of semicircle and an elevated seat apparently for the lecturer, the Antiquities Department statement said.

:: Little Brother is watching at 5/27/2004 12:53:00 PM :: posted by SmooveJ :: permalink ::

:: 5/26/2004 ::

Homeland Insecurity

Have a great summer:
Despite losses around the world, al-Qaida has more than 18,000 potential terrorists, and its ranks are growing because of the conflict in Iraq, a leading think tank warned Tuesday.

[...]

The estimate of 18,000 fighters was based on intelligence estimates that al-Qaida trained at least 20,000 fighters in its training camps in Afghanistan before the United States and its allies ousted the Taliban regime. In the ensuing war on terror, some 2,000 al-Qaida fighters have been killed or captured, the survey said.

The United States remains al-Qaida's prime target, the report said. An al-Qaida leader has said 4 million Americans will have to be killed "as a prerequisite to any Islamic victory," the survey said.

I'd like to thank George Bush, Congress, and the piss-poor Media for "taking the fight to the enemy". Great job guys. That whole flypaper strategery is working out real well.

I'd also like to take a moment to thank all the spineless Americans out there who were either too chickenshit or too stupid to even consider the idea that this war was a lie. During the run-up to the invasion there were articles being published all over the world casting doubt on the Bush Administration's claims of "hundreds of tons of WMD" in Iraq. By the time we started Shocking and Aweing even UN Weapons Inspector Hans Blix was saying that he hadn't found any WMD at all and that he needed more time to determine what the situation was.

But that didn't give the average American any pause at all. Most of you were out for blood. I was called unpatriotic, unAmerican and worse because I insisted this war was a deception. From the very beginning I maintained that the Bush Administration was trampling on the Constitution, destroying our international relationships (freedom fries, anyone?), and had placed us in greater danger.

Sadly, my voice was drowned out by the legions of Americans who believed George Bush's lies about Nigerian yellowcake uranium and Saddam's ties to Al Qaeda. Bush used 9/11 as a pretext to wage his foolish war and most of you ate it up. Seventy percent of Americans didn't even bother to notice that none of the hijackers were Iraqis.

Over and over I was accused of "helping the terrorists". But in the end, who really helped Al Qaeda? Who gave them the perfect recruitment tool? Who gave them the holy war they so desperately wanted? Who allowed American resources to be diverted from Afghanistan and the actual war on terror to the make-believe threat in Iraq?

Not me, that's for sure.

As a resident of a major metropolitan area in the US, I pray to God that none of these Al Qaeda plots comes to fruition. But if they do, there will be plenty of blame to go around. Sadly, the war that you all accepted on blind faith may coming home very soon. And if it does just remember that I did everything I could to stop it.

:: Little Brother is watching at 5/26/2004 05:13:00 PM :: posted by SmooveJ :: permalink ::

Photographer Makes High-Resolution Camera

I've been taking pictures for a couple of years, and I've found it's something that I really enjoy. For me, it's a perfect combination of art and science. I get into messing around with shutter speeds and double exposures, and since I got a digital camera I've been tinkering with Photoshop. I come out with some cool stuff every now and then, but this guy has taken things to a whole other level:
When photographer Clifford Ross first saw Colorado's Mt. Sopris, he was so taken with the beauty of the mammoth formation that he jumped on the roof of his brother-in-law's car - denting it - to photograph the landscape.

But Ross found that his 35mm photos didn't get anyone else excited. They simply didn't capture enough detail to convey the majesty of the white-capped mountain surrounded by grassy fields.

So he decided to make a camera that could create an image as awe-inspiring as the vista before him. The result was R1, a 110-pound, 6-foot film camera that produces what experts say are some of the highest-resolution landscape photographs ever made.

"Mountain I," a 5-foot-by-10-foot color photograph captured by that camera, is on display at the Sonnabend Gallery in New York through July 30.

Ross, 51, wanted to share a near-replica of reality, without any of the blurring visible in most large prints. "You can choose to go up to the picture and experience it intimately with a sense of unbroken reality," he says.

Details of the mountain's snowcapped peak - 7 miles from the camera - are in sharp focus, as are individual blades of grass only 30 meters away. When sections of the image are magnified nearly four times, other details are clearly visible: the shingles on a barn 1,200 meters from the camera, a red bird in the grass 45 meters away.

A lower-resolution image captured on everyday 35mm film would break down when displayed at the size of "Mountain I." Viewers would see a fuzzy, fractured image - and Ross' miniature red bird would likely not be visible at all.

"You have to ask the question, `What's the point of painting a scene like this when you can reproduce it with no loss of resolution?'" says Conor Foy, a 36-year-old painter. "The resolution of this seems to be more than anything I've seen before."

Ross acknowledges that he has very little technical background. "I'm not a research scientist and I'm not a designer of photographic mechanisms," the first-time inventor says. "I'm doing this because I want to make a piece of art."



:: Little Brother is watching at 5/26/2004 02:51:00 PM :: posted by SmooveJ :: permalink ::

Mouseland

Here's a little story by Tommy Douglas (1904 -1986), one of Canada's best known New Democrats. He first wrote it down in 1944, but it's as still as relevant as ever:
Mouseland


It's the story of a place called Mouseland. Mouseland was a place where all the little mice lived and played, were born and died. And they lived much the same as you and I do.

They even had a Parliament. And every four years they had an election. Used to walk to the polls and cast their ballots. Some of them even got a ride to the polls. And got a ride for the next four years afterwards too. Just like you and me. And every time on election day all the little mice used to go to the ballot box and they used to elect a government. A government made up of big, fat, black cats.

Now if you think it strange that mice should elect a government made up of cats, you just look at the history of Canada for the last 90 years and maybe you'll see that they weren't any stupider than we are.

Now I'm not saying anything against the cats. They were nice fellows. They conducted their government with dignity. They passed good laws--that is, laws that were good for cats. But the laws that were good for cats weren't very good for mice. One of the laws said that mouseholes had to be big enough so a cat could get his paw in. Another law said that mice could only travel at certain speeds--so that a cat could get his breakfast without too much effort.

All the laws were good laws. For cats. But, oh, they were hard on the mice. And life was getting harder and harder. And when the mice couldn't put up with it any more, they decided something had to be done about it. So they went en masse to the polls. They voted the black cats out. They put in the white cats.

Now the white cats had put up a terrific campaign. They said: "All that Mouseland needs is more vision." They said:"The trouble with Mouseland is those round mouseholes we got. If you put us in we'll establish square mouseholes." And they did. And the square mouseholes were twice as big as the round mouseholes, and now the cat could get both his paws in. And life was tougher than ever.

And when they couldn't take that anymore, they voted the white cats out and put the black ones in again. Then they went back to the white cats. Then to the black cats. They even tried half black cats and half white cats. And they called that coalition. They even got one government made up of cats with spots on them: they were cats that tried to make a noise like a mouse but ate like a cat.

You see, my friends, the trouble wasn't with the colour of the cat. The trouble was that they were cats. And because they were cats, they naturally looked after cats instead of mice.

Presently there came along one little mouse who had an idea. My friends, watch out for the little fellow with an idea. And he said to the other mice, "Look fellows, why do we keep on electing a government made up of cats? Why don't we elect a government made up of mice?" "Oh," they said, "he's a Bolshevik. Lock him up!" So they put him in jail.

But I want to remind you: that you can lock up a mouse or a man but you can't lock up an idea.

:: Little Brother is watching at 5/26/2004 10:56:00 AM :: posted by SmooveJ :: permalink ::

Pathetic

It's only been in the news every day for the past two weeks:
Two rehearsals for his prime-time speech were not enough to keep U.S. President George W. Bush from mangling the name of the Abu Ghraib prison that brought shame to the U.S. mission in Iraq.

During the half-hour televised address, Bush mispronounced Abu Ghraib each of the three times he mentioned it while announcing U.S. plans to tear down the infamous jail and replace it with a new facility.

The prison, the scene of torture under Saddam Hussein and the setting for the Iraqi prison abuse scandal under the U.S. military, has a name that English speakers usually pronounce as "abu-grabe".

But the Republican president, long known for verbal and grammatical lapses, stumbled on the first try, calling it "abugah-rayp". The second version came out "abu-garon", the third attempt sounded like "abu-garah".

White House aides, who described the speech as an important address on the future of Iraq, said Bush practised twice on Monday before boarding his helicopter for his trip to the speaking venue at the U.S. Army War College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania.

link.

:: Little Brother is watching at 5/26/2004 09:26:00 AM :: posted by SmooveJ :: permalink ::

:: 5/25/2004 ::

Rampaging Cicadas Attack George Bush

Even the cicadas want Bush gone.


:: Little Brother is watching at 5/25/2004 11:59:00 PM :: posted by SmooveJ :: permalink ::

:: 5/24/2004 ::

It's About Time

Finally, someone has taken some decisive action regarding the Abu Ghraib prison torture. Donald Rumsfeld, the Secretary of Defense, has implemented a policy that is sure to stem the tide of pictures coming out of Iraq.

He has banned cameras from US military compounds:
MOBILE phones fitted with digital cameras have been banned in US army installations in Iraq on orders from Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, The Business newspaper reported today.

Quoting a Pentagon source, the paper said the US Defence Department believes that some of the damning photos of US soldiers abusing Iraqis at Abu Ghraib prison near Baghdad were taken with camera phones.

"Digital cameras, camcorders and cellphones with cameras have been prohibited in military compounds in Iraq," it said, adding that a "total ban throughout the US military" is in the works.

Problem solved.

:: Little Brother is watching at 5/24/2004 04:47:00 PM :: posted by SmooveJ :: permalink ::

What's That Up In the Sky?

It's a bird!

It's a plane!!

It's SUPER BUSH!!!

Yes, this is real. The ad linked to above was actually paid for by the Republican National Committee. I suppose this is the way the RNC views our President. Unfortunately, here's how the rest of the world sees him:





As a recent Kos diarist put it, "Finally, a leader that combines the intellect of Dan Quayle, the paranoia of Richard Nixon, and the physical dexterity of Gerald Ford."

:: Little Brother is watching at 5/24/2004 04:24:00 PM :: posted by SmooveJ :: permalink ::

Free Stuff

MoveOn.org is giving out free stickers.








Pretty cool.

:: Little Brother is watching at 5/24/2004 03:38:00 PM :: posted by SmooveJ :: permalink ::

About Time

Is America ready to join the rest of the civilized world by outlawing the death penalty?
The Supreme Court ruled unanimously Monday that a convicted Alabama killer can pursue an appeal claiming lethal injection is cruel and unusual punishment in his case.

Justices said that lower courts were wrong to block appeals by death row inmate David Larry Nelson, who was less than three hours from execution last fall when the Supreme Court gave him a temporary reprieve.

Looks like we'll find out.

:: Little Brother is watching at 5/24/2004 11:28:00 AM :: posted by SmooveJ :: permalink ::

:: 5/21/2004 ::

Minimize Profits for Big Oil

Stick it to The Man and shop around for the lowest gas prices in your area.


:: Little Brother is watching at 5/21/2004 04:42:00 PM :: posted by SmooveJ :: permalink ::

10 Stories the World Should Hear More About

Go now
The stories are not ones that have never been reported, but are often second-rung issues that need more thorough, balanced and regular attention. The list itself is a snapshot of the most compelling stories that, at this point in time, the Department of Public Information believes are in need of more media attention. And the top story is merely the first among equals.

The list includes the plight of child soldiers in Uganda, who are emerging as central figures amid deadly violence and a growing humanitarian emergency; the crisis of children orphaned by AIDS in sub-Saharan Africa; and overfishing as a threat to marine biodiversity.

Sometimes it's easy to get swept up in the 14 second news cycles, but every now and then it's good to step back and take a look at some of the other things that are going on in the world that don't get any coverage. One of the stories that I found particularly interesting is about Indigenous peoples living in voluntary isolation around the world:
Far from the eyes of the world, some sixty-four indigenous peoples living in voluntary isolation in Amazonian Ecuador, Peru, Brazil and Bolivia – the Tagaeri, Huaorani, Taromenane, Corubo, Amamhuaca, Mascho, Kineri, Nanti, Nahua and Kugapakori, among others – are condemned to gradual extinction. These tribes remain mysterious, avoiding all contact with strangers and preferring the isolated existence they have maintained for centuries. What little is known about them has been gleaned from other indigenous groups and from chance encounters with developers and rights groups. But what is clear is that their numbers are rapidly dwindling: the Coruba now number only 40; and the number of Mascho speakers is estimated to be between 20 and 100. The Amamhuaca language, it is thought, is spoken only by 720 people: 500 in Peru and 220 in Brazil.

:: Little Brother is watching at 5/21/2004 02:29:00 PM :: posted by SmooveJ :: permalink ::

Do They Teach That In Law School?

What the hell:
David Fink, a lawyer who barked like a dog at a witness during a deposition, has been fined $8,500 for misconduct and harassment of opponents.

[...]

During a deposition in which Kittle [the defendant] was giving sworn statements on Jan. 16, 2002, he referred to letters he had received from Fink. He called them threatening, "mad dog lawyer" letters, according to Kittle's lawyer, Samuel Friedman.

At the continuation of the deposition the next day, Friedman said, Fink started barking like a dog when Kittle was asked about the letters by Donald Creadore, the lawyer who had taken over the case from Fink.

Friedman said Fink "behaved in a very mocking manner, making the witness feel intimidated, speaking over other people and making it difficult for the court reporter to record much of anything."

:: Little Brother is watching at 5/21/2004 01:16:00 PM :: posted by SmooveJ :: permalink ::

:: 5/20/2004 ::

Dear Abby

Check out this letter from today's Dear Abby (the most popular and widely syndicated column in the world):
DREAM TO BE PRESIDENT IS NOT OUT OF GIRL'S REACH

DEAR READERS: I'm still receiving fascinating letters in support of the 13-year-old girl who was ridiculed by her teacher and classmates for revealing that she'd one day like to be president of the United States. Read on:

DEAR ABBY: I read the letter from "I Have a Dream" and would like to offer her encouragement:

DEAR "I HAVE A DREAM": I was touched by your letter to Dear Abby, and I want you to know that you can become the president of the United States because of who you are, not in spite of it. I have no doubt a woman will be president one day, and America would be lucky to have you leading us every step of the way.

When young people like you express such a desire to make a difference in people's lives, you should be applauded. Your teacher and your classmates were wrong to laugh at your dream.

What you already know, but they seem to have forgotten, is that we live in a country where every child, girl or boy, has an equal chance to grow up and become president, or a teacher, or a doctor, or a CEO, or the shopkeeper down the street. That is what makes our country unlike any place on Earth. Anything is possible.

But to do the things we believe in, we all have to work hard, do our best, and fight those who do not always believe in us. It is not easy to ignore their criticism, and it is tough to look beyond their doubts. But remember, doubters never made America a better place. It is people like you -- people who dream big and are filled with hope -- who make a difference in this world.

Always remember that the great thing about America is that you can become president, and you should never let anyone tell you different. -- SEN. JOHN KERRY, WASHINGTON, D.C.

DEAR SEN. KERRY: To say that you are a busy man these days is an understatement. That you would still reach out to help a child says volumes about you as a person.

Whoever it was on the Kerry campaign who thought to do this gets a gold star for the day. Just think of how many people in Middle America skip over the A section and head straight for Dear Abby and the comics. This is the kind of manuever that sticks in people's heads, and John Kerry just pulled one off in a big way.

In all fairness, I'm sure George Bush would have written a letter as well... except that he doesn't read newspapers:
"I don't watch the nightly newscasts on TV, nor do I watch the endless hours of people giving their opinion about things ... I don't read the editorial pages; I don't read the columnists." In fact, Mr. Bush said he barely "skims" four newspapers delivered daily to the Oval Office.

:: Little Brother is watching at 5/20/2004 12:15:00 PM :: posted by SmooveJ :: permalink ::

Strange Things Are Afoot en El Casa de Chalabi

Breaking news this morning is that U.S. troops have raided Chalabi's house in Iraq:
U.S. soldiers and Iraqi police raided the residence of Iraqi politician Ahmad Chalabi on Thursday, and aides accused the Americans of holding guns to his head and bullying him over his criticism of plans for next month's transfer of sovereignty.

There was no comment from U.S. authorities, but American officials here have complained privately that Chalabi - a longtime Pentagon favorite - is interfering with a U.S. investigation into allegations that Saddam Hussein's regime skimmed millions in oil revenues during the U.N.-run oil-for-food program.

A Chalabi aide, Haidar Musawi, accused the Americans of trying to pressure Chalabi, who has become openly critical of U.S. plans for how much power to transfer to the Iraqis on June 30.

[...]

American soldiers and armed U.S. civilians could be seen milling about Chalabi's compound in the city's fashionable Mansour district. Some people could be seen loading boxes into vehicles. Aides said documents and computers were seized without warrants.

[...]

For years, Chalabi's INC had received hundreds of thousands of dollars every month from the Pentagon, in part for intelligence passed along by exiles about Saddam's purported weapons of mass destruction.

The question is, how did Chalabi fall out of favor so fast? Less than a week ago, he was still receiving $340,000 per month from the Pentagon. In the space of a week he's gone from being "our kind of guy" in Iraq to being the subject of armed raids?

I doubt it. There is a classic nation-building technique that was employed in British colonies all over the world. The British government would pick their favored leader, arrest him and then make a hero out of him. When the populace was sufficiently whipped into a fury about it the British would release the guy just to "keep the peace" and then hold elections. Inevitably, their handpicked stooge would win by a landslide.

Of course, if this is what Bush and his clown troupe are trying to do (and I'm not saying it is), it's going to fail miserably. Most Iraqis think of Chalabi as a opportunistic, bank robbing thief who spent the last 30 years living comfortably outside Iraq:
Chalabi, a former banker and longtime Iraqi exile, was convicted of fraud in absentia in Jordan in 1992 for embezzling $US288 million from Petra Bank into Swiss bank accounts and was sentenced to 22 years in jail.

Good luck making a hero out of this guy. It'd be easier selling a line of plush, snuggly Ken Lay dolls.

If Bush had any sense he'd have sent Chalabi's fat ass back to Jordan a year ago. Instead he put him on the Administration's payroll to the tune of almost $400,000 per month. That's certainly one thing you can say about rich crooks - when times get tough they stick together.


UPDATE: Looks like I'm not the only one who thinks this is all another neoCon (link via Atrios):
Michael Rubin - a young staffer at the American Enterprise Institute who's just left the Pentagon, where he played a small role as a neocon cog in the Office of Special Plans war machine - let a herd of cats out of the bag about his favorite Iraqi phony, Ahmad Chalabi of the Iraqi National Congress.

Chalabi, of course, is the roly-poly perpetrator of intelligence fraud and the convicted bank embezzler who still hopes to be leader of Iraq. Lately, Chalabi has scuttled into a would-be alliance with Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, the scowly fatwa man. In doing so, he's had the temerity to criticize the United States, leading some fuzzy thinkers to believe that Chalabi, whose puppet strings are made of steel, might be trying to show some independence from Washington. Well, says Rubin, who served as one the Pentagon's liaisons to Chalabi, that's exactly what they want you to think:
"Much of the information he collected was to roll up the insurgency and Ba'athist cells. It caught people red-handed," said Michael Rubin, a former Pentagon adviser who is now at a conservative think-tank, the American Enterprise Institute.

"By telegraphing that he is not the favorite son of America, the administration will bolster him, showing he is his own man."

In other words, it's all a big con game. The still-neocon-dominated Pentagon-which this week stopped funding Chalabi's INC - is playing its last card, hoping that it can boost Chalabi's sagging fortunes by pretending to sever ties with him. That, the neocons hope, will allow Chalabi to strengthen his ties to Sistani, the king-making mullah who, they hope, holds Iraq's fate in his wrinkled hands.

:: Little Brother is watching at 5/20/2004 09:08:00 AM :: posted by SmooveJ :: permalink ::

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