Sunday, May 29, 2005

Say It Plain A Century of Great African American Speeches

These speeches start with Booker T. Washington and end with Barack Obama. They include Clarence Thomas who isn't on my list of great anythings. Missing conspicuously are W.E. B. DuBois, El Haj Malik Al Shabazz (Malcolm X), or any of the “Black Panthers.” It's a start, but it's far from comprehensive.

“The transcripts on this Web site were drawn from the accompanying recordings. In some cases, we were able to start with existing transcripts in the public domain and check them against the recordings. In other instances, we produced the transcripts ourselves with the help of dedicated colleagues.

On some occasions, the available text of a speech differed from the recording. Speakers commonly diverge from their written texts, which are sometimes speeches they give repeatedly, but no one takes the time to document the extemporaneous remarks. ”

Booker T Washington
A former slave and the most influential African American at the turn of the 20th century Listen to the speech

Marcus Garveys
A Jamaican immigrant who urged black Americans to form their own nation in Africa Listen to the speech

Mary McLeod Bethune
A prominent educator and leading civil rights figure in the New Deal era Listen to the speech

Dick Gregory
A popular comedian and activist in the 1960s involved in the 1963 marches in Birmingham Listen to the speech

Fannie Lou Hamer
Helped lead the fight for black voting rights in Mississippi Listen to the speech

Stokely Carmichael
A young civil rights organizer who popularized the slogan, "Black Power" Listen to the speech

Martin Luther King Jr.
The most prominent leader of the non-violent civil rights movement in the 20th century Listen to the speech

Shirley Chisholm
The first African American woman to be elected to Congress Listen to the speech

Barbera Jordan
U.S. Representative who made a historic speech during the 1974 Watergate hearings Listen to the speech

Jesse Jackson
A civil rights leader, disciple of Martin Luther King, Jr., and two-time presidential candidate Listen to the speech

Clarence Thomas
A Supreme Court Justice appointed by President George H. W. Bush Listen to the speech

Barack Obama
U.S. Democratic Senator from Illinois Listen to the speech

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Monday, May 23, 2005

An Iraqi Police Officer's Death, a Soldier's Varying Accounts


“The American soldier and the Iraqi police officer were on patrol together outside a flea market south of Baghdad, chatting from time to time, when one of them suddenly started shooting.

What prompted the gunfire is a matter of dispute, but one thing is not: The soldier, Cpl. Dustin M. Berg, fired three times at his Iraqi partner, Hussein Kamel Hadi Dawood al-Zubeidi, and killed him. As Corporal Berg ran away, he picked up Mr. Zubeidi's AK-47 and shot himself in the side.

In the days that followed, Corporal Berg lied about what happened, saying Mr. Zubeidi was the one who had shot him. And for months he went right on lying, after he recovered from his wound, after he left Iraq, even after he received a Purple Heart he did not deserve with his parents watching at a solemn ceremony back home in Indiana.

Unlike the prisoner abuses that have alarmed and riveted the public, these lesser-known cases have created divisions over the definition of murder in a fluid war zone. In Iraq, these stories have caused bitter resentment and distrust of the troops. Among Americans, they have strained units, leaving some Army supervisors saying troops seem reluctant to carry out their duties, and have led to an outpouring of anger in hometowns across the United States.

"These guys go out and do what their country asks them to do, and now they're being told they did it wrong?" said Rich Hendrix, a Vietnam-era veteran who spent a recent afternoon inside the American Legion Hall in Ferdinand, Corporal Berg's hometown of 2,300 in Southern Indiana, where residents overwhelmingly say they support him. "I say they're doing the best they can. You can't even be sure who's your friend and who's your enemy over there, so what are they supposed to do?"

Since the war in Iraq began more than two years ago, more than 20 American soldiers and marines have been accused of crimes in connection with the deaths of Iraqis, including the small number of cases in which service members have claimed self-defense. Navy personnel are also being investigated in the deaths of two detainees, though no charges have been filed. At least 10 service members have been convicted, but in most cases on less serious charges than those they originally faced.

No two wars are alike, making it impossible to compare these cases with those of past conflicts, and some people with military experience disagree over whether anything is different in the Iraq prosecutions.

In Vietnam, after a much longer involvement, 95 American soldiers and 27 marines were convicted of killing noncombatants. Gary D. Solis, who teaches law at the United States Military Academy at West Point, said many of those cases are similar to descriptions of killings in Iraq now being prosecuted.

"Look, there are guys who go out and for whatever reason murder defenseless people," Mr. Solis said. "They're crimes. And we're hearing the same arguments now that we heard then: that in the fog of war, you have to make instantaneous decisions. We heard exactly the same thing back then."

In some of the 20 cases, prosecutors allege that flagrant acts led to death. One soldier was convicted of murder in the death of a 17-year-old Iraqi whom he allegedly had sex with in a guard tower. Four others are accused of suffocating a detainee in a sleeping bag during an interrogation. Another was accused of shooting an unarmed Iraqi as he ran from a truck and, some witnesses said, waved a white cloth.

In other cases, service members have admitted their roles in the deaths, but have claimed that their actions were akin to "mercy killings," striking final blows to wounded Iraqis who were suffering.

But perhaps the most contentious cases are those of the handful of service members like Corporal Berg, who claim that they acted only to protect themselves from what they considered threats to their lives, as allowed by military rules. Some witnesses, however, say they saw something else entirely.

A marine from New York says he shot and killed two Iraqis he had just captured in a house raid because they made a hostile move in his direction; but why, then, did he empty his weapon, reload and shoot some more? A private from Louisiana said an Iraqi cowherd lunged toward another soldier in a field, so he shot and killed him; but the unarmed cowherd was in handcuffs, a fact, the soldier insisted, that he did not notice at first.

Jack B. Zimmermann, a Texas lawyer who has defended service members in similar cases and who also was a prosecutor and criminal judge in the Marine Corps, said he considers these cases "the closer questions - the troublesome ones."

And some military lawyers say they believe that those cases are being investigated more often in this war. Perhaps, they say, round-the-clock news media coverage of the fighting in Iraq has also meant increased scrutiny. Perhaps such cases are simply more likely to arise in a war complicated by urban combat and the fear of suicide bombers, hidden explosives and an uncertain enemy.…

Patterns of Abuse
President Bush said the other day that the world should see his administration's handling of the abuses at Abu Ghraib prison as a model of transparency and accountability. He said those responsible were being systematically punished, regardless of rank. It made for a nice Oval Office photo-op on a Friday morning. Unfortunately, none of it is true.

The administration has provided nothing remotely like a full and honest accounting of the extent of the abuses at American prison camps in Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. It has withheld internal reports and stonewalled external inquiries, while clinging to the fiction that the abuse was confined to isolated acts, like the sadistic behavior of one night crew in one cellblock at Abu Ghraib. The administration has prevented any serious investigation of policy makers at the White House, the Justice Department and the Pentagon by orchestrating official probes so that none could come even close to the central question of how the prison policies were formulated and how they led to the abuses.

When we lie
We set up our frontline troops for exactly the kind of prblems we're beginning to see. We lie about the reasons for war. Like the rest of our population most soldiers believe ther was Iraqi involvement in 9-11. they think Iraqis were on the planes. They believe that there were and are weapons of mass destruction. Their leaders rally them, encourage them in disrespecting the ‘ragheads’, the ‘hajis.’ Above all we don't even count Iraqi dead unless there are cameras rolling.

The same behavior can get a soldier a medal or a court martial, and if they're guilty what about those who sent them there, armed with lies.

Sunday, May 22, 2005

Decoding Health Insurance


"Where are all the touted breakthroughs, the miracle drugs and diagnostic tests, predicted five years ago? Finding out that humans have about the same number and some of the same genes as a worm may be interesting to somebody, but it's hardly a health care revolution, much less worth the more than $3 billion that have so far been spent on decoding."

The genomic case for universal health coverage.
“We now know, for example, that a vast majority of our genome is composed of repetitive nonsense sequences, and that instead of humans having the 100,000-plus genes previously predicted, we have somewhere in the neighborhood of 25,000, many of which we share with all other living things, a fact that anchors us firmly in the process of evolution (whether a creative intelligence was involved or not).

Of course, people can perhaps be forgiven for not wanting to recognize that they don't have many more genes than round worms or fruit flies - a blow to humanity's ego that's about as powerful as Copernicus's discovery that the earth revolved around the sun instead of vice versa.

As a doctor schooled to some degree in science, I believed (and still do) that decoding the human genome might be the most important milestone in the history of medical science. To borrow Mr. Clinton's metaphor, the full genome offers researchers the sequence of all the letters of the human book of life, a monumental resource despite our imperfect understanding of the book's overarching, mind-boggling complexity. As decoding gathers speed, it promises to change just about everything we know about medicine in the form of understanding, prediction, prevention, diagnosis and the treatment of disease. And in so doing, it also offers us a remarkable opportunity to solve the huge and nettlesome problem of paying for health care in the United States.

Knowledge of the genome has greatly improved our ability to predict an individual's predilection for a host of diseases. Thousands upon thousands of markers have been identified throughout the genome and linked to particular mutated, deleterious genes associated with specific medical problems. The presence of these markers can be determined by placing a single drop of blood onto a particular type of slide called a microarray. Microarrays, in turn, are read automatically by laser scanners and the results, thanks to bioinformatics, can be analyzed instantly by computers armed with appropriate software and statistical data.

The importance of a rapid increase in prognostic ability is underlined by the growing understanding that every disease has a greater or lesser genetic component. Patients can now avail themselves of preventive measures or treatment even before symptoms occur. But there is a down side. First of all, we can predict more and more diseases that are associated with progressive disability and death and which have, as of yet, no treatment. Finding a marker linked to such an illness is thus the cruel equivalent of an extended death sentence. Understandably many people would not want such a test and would hardly classify having one as a positive health care breakthrough.

Another, and possibly more important, negative consequence of this new ability to predict illness is the potential for discrimination in one form or another if confidential health information is released. Unfortunately the chances of such a breach of privacy occurring, despite lip service by politicians to prevent it legislatively, are probably inevitable. Not only is microarray technology easily accessible, but for-profit private insurance companies have strong incentives to use it to protect their bottom lines by denying service, claims or even coverage.

It is precisely this danger, however, that may lead to a great breakthrough: the inevitable movement to universal health care. In this dawning era of genomic medicine, the result may be that the concept of private health insurance, which is based on actuarially pooling risk within specified, fragmented groups, will become obsolete since risk cannot be pooled if it can be determined for individual policyholders. Genetically determined predilection for disease will become the modern equivalent of the "pre-existing condition" that private insurers have stringently avoided.

Saturday, May 21, 2005

Do We Expect to Reap What We've Sown?

We need to stop worrying about the whether or not Newsweek was right. We need to worry about the desecration of the American soul.…

In U.S. Report, Brutal Details of 2 Afghan Inmates' Deaths
“The prisoner, a slight, 22-year-old taxi driver known only as Dilawar, was hauled from his cell at the detention center in Bagram, Afghanistan, at around 2 a.m. to answer questions about a rocket attack on an American base. When he arrived in the interrogation room, an interpreter who was present said, his legs were bouncing uncontrollably in the plastic chair and his hands were numb. He had been chained by the wrists to the top of his cell for much of the previous four days.

Mr. Dilawar asked for a drink of water, and one of the two interrogators, Specialist Joshua R. Claus, 21, picked up a large plastic bottle. But first he punched a hole in the bottom, the interpreter said, so as the prisoner fumbled weakly with the cap, the water poured out over his orange prison scrubs. The soldier then grabbed the bottle back and began squirting the water forcefully into Mr. Dilawar's face.

"Come on, drink!" the interpreter said Specialist Claus had shouted, as the prisoner gagged on the spray. "Drink!"

At the interrogators' behest, a guard tried to force the young man to his knees. But his legs, which had been pummeled by guards for several days, could no longer bend. An interrogator told Mr. Dilawar that he could see a doctor after they finished with him. When he was finally sent back to his cell, though, the guards were instructed only to chain the prisoner back to the ceiling.

"Leave him up," one of the guards quoted Specialist Claus as saying.

Several hours passed before an emergency room doctor finally saw Mr. Dilawar. By then he was dead, his body beginning to stiffen. It would be many months before Army investigators learned a final horrific detail: Most of the interrogators had believed Mr. Dilawar was an innocent man who simply drove his taxi past the American base at the wrong time.…”

Guantánamo Comes to Define U.S. to Muslims
“In one of Pakistan's most exclusive private schools for boys, the annual play this year was "Guantánamo," a docudrama based on testimonies of prisoners in Guantánamo Bay, the United States naval base in Cuba.

The cast was made up of students between 16 and 18 years old, each playing the role of a prisoner being held on suspicion of terrorism. To deepen their understanding of their characters, the boys pored through articles in Pakistani newspapers, studied the international press and surfed Web sites, including one that described itself as a nonsectarian Islamic human rights portal and is called

It didn't matter that the boys at the Lahore Grammar School, an elite academy that has sent many of its graduates to study in American universities, lived in a world quite removed from that known by most prisoners at Guantánamo Bay. The more they explored, the more the play resonated, the director of the school's production, Omair Rana, recalled Friday in a telephone interview. The detainees were Muslim, many were Pakistani and one had been arrested in Islamabad, the country's capital.

"It was something we all could relate to," Mr. Rana said of "Guantánamo," a play created "from spoken evidence" by Victoria Brittain and Gillian Slovo, a Briton and a South African, that was staged in London and in New York last year. "All that seemed very relevant, very nearby - in fact, too close for comfort."

Accounts of abuses at the actual American detention center at Guantánamo Bay, including Newsweek magazine's now-retracted article on the desecration of the Koran, ricochet around the world, instilling ideas about American power and justice, and sowing distrust of the United States. Even more than the written accounts are the images that flash on television screens throughout the Muslim world: caged men, in orange prison jumpsuits, on their knees. On Al Jazeera and Al Arabiya, two satellite networks, images of the prisoners appear in station promos.

For many Muslims, Guantánamo stands as a confirmation of the low regard in which they believe the United States holds them. For many non-Muslims, regardless of their feelings toward the United States, it has emerged as a symbol of American hypocrisy.…”

In India, a secular country by law whose people and government are growing increasingly close to the United States, a cartoon appeared in Midday, an afternoon tabloid, on Friday showing a panic-stricken Uncle Sam flushing copies of Newsweek magazine down a toilet.

To the cartoonist, Hemant Morparia, it appeared as though the Bush administration's answer to the problem was to bury the truth.

"People suspect American intentions," Mr. Morparia, a Mumbai-based radiologist who doubles as a cartoonist, said. "It has nothing to do with being Muslim."

From Mumbai, India, to Amman, Jordan, to London, Guantánamo is a continuing subject for discussion, from television talk shows to sermons to everyday conversations. In countries like Afghanistan, Britain and Pakistan, released detainees often return home and relate their experiences on television news programs. Accusations of egregious abuse sometimes prompt violence, as in last week's demonstrations in Afghanistan.

Guantánamo provides rhetorical fodder for politicians seeking to bring down United States-allied rulers in their own countries, and it offers a ready rallying point against American dominance, even in countries whose own police and military have been known for severe violations of human rights.

…In Europe, accusations of abuse at Guantánamo, as much as the war in Iraq, have become a symbol of what many see as America's dangerous drift away from the ideals that made it a moral beacon in the post-World War II era. There is a persistent and uneasy sense that the United States fundamentally changed after September 11, and not for the better.

"The simple truth is that America's leaders have constructed at Guantánamo Bay a legal monster," the French daily, Le Monde, said in a January editorial.…

"People already expect the U.S. to deny it, because it already has no credibility in the region," said Mustafa al-Ani, director of the Security and Terrorism Studies Program at the Gulf Research Center in Dubai. "So the initial story will have an impact, and the response simply will not."

Or as a Jordanian pharmacist, Farouk Shoubaki, said of the original report, "It is something the Americans would do."

As Mr. Shoubaki's remark reflects, Guantánamo offers disconcerting testimony that for many Muslims, the America they used to admire has sunk to the level of their own repressive governments.…

Doesn't one definition of insanity require repeating the same experiment over and over again, always expecting a different result?

We need to stop worrying about the whether or not Newsweek was right.

We need to worry about the desecration of the American soul.…
Al Ingram

Friday, May 20, 2005

Red Cross told U.S. of Koran incidents

By Cam Simpson and Mark Silva
“The International Committee of the Red Cross documented what it called credible information about U.S. personnel disrespecting or mishandling Korans at the Guantanamo Bay detention facility and pointed it out to the Pentagon in confidential reports during 2002 and early 2003, an ICRC spokesman said Wednesday.

Representatives of the ICRC, who have played a key role in investigating abuse allegations at the facility in Cuba and other U.S. military prisons, never witnessed such incidents firsthand during on-site visits, said Simon Schorno, an ICRC spokesman in Washington.

But ICRC delegates, who have been granted access to the secretive camp since January 2002, gathered and corroborated enough similar, independent reports from detainees to raise the issue multiple times with Guantanamo commanders and with Pentagon officials, Schorno said in an interview Wednesday.

Following the ICRC's reports, the Defense Department command in Guantanamo issued almost three pages of detailed, written guidelines for treatment of Korans. Schorno said ICRC representatives did not receive any other complaints or document similar incidents following the issuance of the guidelines on Jan. 19, 2003.

The issue of how Korans are handled by American personnel guarding Muslim detainees moved into the spotlight after protests in Muslim nations, including deadly riots in Afghanistan, that followed a now-retracted report in Newsweek magazine. That story said U.S. investigators had confirmed that interrogators had flushed a Koran down a toilet.

The Koran is Islam's holiest book, and mistreating it is seen as an offense against God.

Following the firestorm over the report and the riots, the ICRC declined Wednesday to discuss what kind of alleged incidents were involved, how many there were or how often it reported them to American officials prior to the release of the 2003 Koran guidelines.

"We don't want to comment specifically on specific instances of desecration, only on the general level of how the Koran was disrespected," Schorno said.

Schorno did say, however, that there were "multiple" instances involved and that the ICRC made confidential reports about such incidents "multiple" times to Guantanamo and Pentagon officials.…

I was asked, “What about Muslims desecrating the Bible?” The truth is simply that the Old and New Testament are part of Muslim Holy Scripture too. They disagree with our interpretation. Since they would never desecrate them, they are all the more offended when we disrespect theirs. Al Ingram

Friday, May 13, 2005

Angry Protests Rage Across the Muslim world

Governments demanded investigations and thousands took to the streets in outrage over a Newsweek magazine report that interrogators at a U.S. military prison in Cuba had put the Muslim holy book on toilets, in at least one case flushing it down.

“The United States' reputation had already been damaged by photographs released last year of physical and sexual abuse of Muslim prisoners at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq.

Washington's allies demanded action and an investigation. Indonesia said those responsible must receive a ``deserved punishment'' for their ``immoral action.'' Pakistan also called for a U.S. probe, and Saudi Arabia, the birthplace of Islam, said it was following the issue with ``deep indignation.''

Sentiments ran higher in the streets.

I recommend you read Chain of Command : The Road from 9/11 to Abu Ghraib by Seymour Hersch.

“Newsweek, in its May 9 edition, quoted sources as saying that investigators probing abuses at the military prison had found that interrogators ``had placed Korans on toilets, and in at least one case flushed a holy book down the toilet.''

Washington is holding more than 500 prisoners from its war on terrorism at the naval base on Cuba, many of them detained in Afghanistan after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

The report prompted the worst anti-U.S. protests across that fragmented country since Americans invaded to topple Kabul's Islamist Taliban rulers for harboring Osama bin Laden and his al Qaeda network.

On Friday, Islamic clerics in Afghanistan told worshipers at weekly prayers that protests over the reported desecration of the holy book were justified.

They urged Muslims to shun violence, but their words fell on deaf ears as clashes erupted in different parts of the country, claiming at least nine lives, most those of protesters shot by police.…”

Once again the US government claims tht this is an isolated incident, when the evidence says that this is Bush and Rumsfeld's interrogation policy brought to light. I recommend you read Chain of Command : The Road from 9/11 to Abu Ghraib by Seymour Hersch

Foreign Affairs - Book Review - Chain of Command: The Road From 9 ...

... Transition 2005. Chain of Command: The Road From 9/11 to Abu Ghraib. Seymour M. Hersh. New York: HarperCollins, 2004, 416 pp. $25.95 ... chain-of-command-the-road-from-9-11-to-abu-ghraib.html -

The New Yorker: Fact

... by SEYMOUR M. HERSH. American soldiers brutalized Iraqis. How far up does the responsibility go? Issue of 2004-05-10 Posted 2004-04-30 ... - 68k - May 11, 2005 -

Sunday, May 08, 2005

Rear Echelon Mother @!'s Day

“Columbus, Georgia —
A high school student was suspended for 10 days for refusing to end a cell phone call with his mother. The ten day suspension was given to Kevin Francois for being ‘defiant and disorderly’ and was imposed in lieu of arrest according to Spencer High school's assistant Principal Alfred Parham.

The problem began Wednesday when the 17 year old junior got a lunchtime call from his mother, Sgt. 1st Class Monique Bates, serving a one year tour with the 203rd Forward support Battallion.

Cell phones are allowed on campus, but may not be used during school hours. When a teacher told him to hang up, he refused. He said he told the teacher ‘This is my mom in Iraq. I'm not about to hang up on my mom.’

The assistant Principal said the suspension was based on the teen's reaction to the teacher's request. He said the teen used profanity when taken to the office.”

I think what we have here is another example of zero intelligence, zero tolerance.

Given the situation in Iraq, any call from a loved one might be the last time you ever hear their voice. Refusing to take the circumstances into account is not only unreasonable, it's just plain mean and stupid. Of course the kid got “defiant and disorderly.” Under the same circumstances I guarantee I would have physically hurt someone.

What's really going on here is not a matter of discipline, but a matter of a teacher, a school administration showing who is boss.

The message is simply, “We don't have to be reasonable, we're in charge. No matter how much it hurts you, we're in charge. Yield to us, or else.”

Muscogee County School District:
Spencer High
4340 Victory Dr
Columbus, GA 31903
(706) 685-7652

Ignorance is Strength?

In World War II we went out of our way to make sure our enlisted men has some respect for the people whose countries we invaded. They were told the basics of the languages, cultures, and acceptable behavior, even for Japan which had attacked us.

In Iraq, our troops, like the rest of America are allowed to believe that Iraqis attacked us in 2001. No basics of Iraqi or Arab culture are taught, at least not respect for their customs and culture. Not even the fact that an upraised hand doesn't mean stop.

Op-Ed Columnist: From 'Gook' to 'Raghead'
A soldier talks about his time in Iraq and the amount of gratuitous violence that was routinely inflicted by American soldiers on civilians.

Inquiry Finds Abuses at Guantánamo Bay
An investigation into allegations of detainee abuse at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, has concluded that several prisoners were mistreated or humiliated, perhaps illegally.

When Soldiers Mistreat Iraqis (3 Letters)

Op-Ed Columnist: Lifting the Censor's Veil on the Shame of Iraq
Photographs from the Iraq war show the extreme horrors of warfare.

Is it any surprise that abuse happens. Especially when policy dictates secrecy, and mandates ghost detainees.

U.S. Tells U.N. That It Continues to Oppose Torture in Any Situation
The United States told the United Nations that despite the abuse of Iraqi detainees at Abu Ghraib prison, it continued to oppose torture.

The United States told the United Nations that despite the abuse of Iraqi detainees at Abu Ghraib prison, it continued to oppose torture.

Now there's a laugher…, it's right up there with “extraordinary rendition.”

But, it hardly matters…, nobody in a position to do anything is listening.

Saturday, May 07, 2005

War Is Peace, Failure Is Accomplishment…

This is Progress? Really?

World Terror Attacks Tripled in 2004 by U.S. Count
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. count of major world terrorist attacks more than tripled in 2004, a rise that may revive debate on whether the Bush administration is winning the war on terrorism, congressional aides said on Tuesday.

Rights Group Condemns U.S. Over Guantanamo
STRASBOURG, France (AP) -- Europe's human rights body condemned the United States on Tuesday for using what it termed ''torture'' on terror suspects held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and it called on European countries not to cooperate in interrogating Guantanamo detainees.

OPINION April 26, 2005
Op-Ed Contributor: Terror in the Past And Future Tense
We need to put our safety ahead of American sovereignty, and address the technology of a terrorist threat, or we won't be secure.

In New Manual, Army Limits Tactics in Interrogation
The revised guidelines will specifically prohibit practices like stripping prisoners, imposing dietary restrictions and using dogs.

Exactly when is enough, enough?

Op-Ed Columnist: On Abu Ghraib, the Big Shots Walk
Under Commander in Chief George W. Bush, the notion of command accountability has been discarded.

Ex-Official Describes Dispute With Bolton Over Intelligence
A former senior intelligence official, who was responsible for coordinating American intelligence assessments, directed his staff in 2003 to strongly resist assertions that John R. Bolton sought to make about Syria's weapons programs in Congressional testimony, the official, Robert L. Hutchings, said in an interview on Wednesday.

3 Ex-Officials Describe Bullying by Bolton
Three former senior government officials described John R. Bolton, nominee for ambassador to the United Nations, as unwilling to listen to alternative views.

Army Recruiters Say They Feel Pressure to Bend Rules
By DAMIEN CAVE Army statistics that show an increase in cheating by recruiters is disturbing many of the men and women charged with the uphill task of refilling the ranks.

How many isolated incidents make a pattern?

How widespread does something need to be, to be systemic?

Why is it that the guys who trow the party are always missing when it's time to clean up?

Friday, May 06, 2005

Darfur Drawn Through the Eyes of Children

On a research mission along the border of Chad and Darfur, HumanRights Watch researchers Annie Sparrow and Olivier Bercault gave children notebooks and crayons to keep them occupied while they spoke with the children's parents. Without any instruction or guidance, the children drew scenes from their experiences of the war in Darfur. See their drawings here, as featured in the New York Times Magazine.

the attacks by the Janjaweed, the bombings by Sudanese government forces, the shootings, the burning of entire villages, and the flight to Chad.

The government of Sudan is responsible for "ethnic cleansing" and crimes against humanity in the context of an internal conflict in Darfur, one of the world's poorest and most inaccessible regions, on Sudan's western border with Chad. Since 2003, the Sudanese government and the ethnic "Janjaweed" militias it arms and supports have committed numerous attacks on the civilian populations of the Fur, Masalit, Zaghawa and other ethnic groups perceived to support the rebel insurgency. Government forces oversaw and directly participated in massacres, summary executions of civilians—including women and children—burnings of towns and villages, and the forcible depopulation of wide swathes of land long inhabited by the Fur, Masalit and Zaghawa. The Janjaweed militias, Muslim like the groups they attack, have destroyed mosques, killed Muslim religious leaders, and desecrated Qurans belonging to their enemies.

Countless women and girls have been raped. Hundreds of villages have been bombed and burned; water sources and food stocks have been destroyed, property and livestock looted. Mosques, schools and hospitals have been burnt to the ground.

The United Nations estimates that more than 2 million people have been left homeless in the fighting. There are almost a quarter of a million refugees in neighboring Chad, one of the poorest countries in Africa. Abandoned villages have been destroyed. Even when the villages are left intact, many refugees are unwilling to return to Darfur unless their security is protected. "If we return," one refugee told Human Rights Watch, "we will be killed."

Estimates of how many people have died as a result of the conflict in Darfur vary widely. It is likely that at least 100,000 people have died from violence, disease and other conditions related to forced displacement and insufficient access to humanitarian assistance. The toll of death and displacement continues to rise. Those left homeless are still at risk: camps are poorly protected, and women and girls are frequently the targets of sexual attacks when they venture from the camp to find firewood and food for their animals.

Sunday, May 01, 2005

Driver Ignored Warning, U.S. Says

Ex-Hostage's Italian Driver Ignored Warning, U.S. Says

While finding that the soldiers were not culpable, the report recommended taking steps to better inform Iraqis and other drivers about how to approach checkpoints, echoing calls made by critics since the incident. The report also recommended that the military use more signs and enhanced lighting to warn drivers that they are approaching a checkpoint.

“The car carrying the Italian journalist Giuliana Sgrena that was struck with a deadly hail of gunfire as it sped toward Baghdad International Airport on March 4 ignored warnings from American soldiers who used a spotlight, a green laser pointer and warning shots to try to stop it as it approached a checkpoint, the American military said in a report released Saturday evening.

The gunfire killed Nicola Calipari, an Italian intelligence agent who was in the back seat with Ms. Sgrena. The driver and Ms. Sgrena were wounded. Lt. Gen. John R. Vines, the ground commander in Iraq, has approved a recommendation that soldiers involved in the shooting not be disciplined, the military said.

The report's exoneration of the soldiers, which was made public last week, angered Italian officials and threatened to further inflame relations between the United States and Italy, one of its staunchest allies in the war in Iraq. The findings have created a political problem for the Italian prime minister, Silvio Berlusconi, who faces a public upset by the incident at a time when his own fortunes are sagging.

…Italian officials have disputed preliminary accounts of the shooting, provided last month by the United States, and Italy is pressing its own investigation. Ms. Sgrena has also challenged the United States' account, saying the car approached the checkpoint at a moderate speed and was not given any warnings.

Ms. Sgrena, a reporter for the left-wing daily newspaper Il Manifesto, was abducted Feb. 4 in Baghdad and released March 4, less than one hour before she and her rescuers made their trip to the airport. American officials have said the checkpoint was established temporarily to help provide security for the United States ambassador, John D. Negroponte, who was meeting with the top military commander in Iraq. Mr. Negroponte has since been appointed director of national intelligence.

The incident helped focus attention on the risks that Iraqis face at American checkpoints, where human rights groups say many Iraqis have been accidentally wounded or killed.

The report, which had many blacked-out parts, is the American military's first detailed account of the events. It asserts that the Italians ignored repeated warnings from American soldiers as they sped onto a part of the Baghdad airport road where soldiers are on a constant state of high alert because of the extraordinary risk of suicide car bombs and other insurgent attacks.…”

You can put any nationality in front of “Driver Ignored Warning,” and the results will be the same, either no investigation at all or an exoneration of the living at the expense of the dead. War is frightening and our troops are, rightfully, scared. It has become obvious to everyone but the chain of command military or political that our soldiers are stressed out and sometimes fire Chicago warning shots. ‘Bang!…Halt!’

Political Identity

by ZDNet's Phil Windley

They could decide what causes they support and then sell, of give, information to just those causes. This gives Amazon disproportional political leverage.

“On the heels of the 2004 election, one of the things that candidates want is email addresses. Not just any email addresses, but email addresses of likely voters with particular persuasions in their district. Broken down by precinct, if you please.

The fact that they want them isn’t surprising. The Internet was shown to be a powerful way to connect to voters during the last election cycle and any tech-savvy political operative knows that its only going to be more so in the next.

We could talk about whether we want to start getting political Spam, but that’s not as interesting to me as to think about who has those addresses right now. For example, Amazon, has them, or at least a lot of them. They know your address and they know your email address. What’s more, they could even provide a profile of you based on books you read.

Again, we could talk about whether Amazon should sell this information to anyone, political or not, but what’s more interesting is the possibility that they could selectively sell the information.

I don't think it's just Amazon, in fact it's any bookseller or source for videos, or even online discussion lists. When that laptop at Berkeley was lost with 100,000 social security numbers of grad students, I'll bet it also had what courses they took, and info about their other activities. Schools just love to record things like that.

The real danger isn't that the capability exists, it's the capability plus the inclination to monetize our personal data. It's the lax manner in which our information is secured. It's the fact that once our business leaves our posession, it's everybody's business, except ours. Add the PATRIOT act to this and all bets are off.

Al Ingram
con·cept: May 2005