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5/31/2003

I'm a sell out

If you haven't noticed yet there is a PayPal button over to the right. If you want to drop me some loose change, go right ahead. If I get enough money, I might purchase my own domain and switch from Blogger to Moveable Type. I don't expect that to ever happen, but if people are willing to give me money for nothing I might as well take it.
Bloggered

My old template was mysteriously deleted by Blogger, and I have neither the time nor the inclination to make a new one, so I just chose one of the cookie-cutter templates they have. Hopefully everyone likes the new look. If not, feel free to throw assorted food items/money/beautiful women in my direction.

5/30/2003

Freaking me out

I was walking to my mailbox today to clear out the flyers and "invitations" and other assorted garbage that usually clutters it (as an afterthought I was also checking to see if I had any mail), and this really weird looking guy started walking toward me. He wasn't weird in the I'm-going-to-bite-the-head-off-a-chicken-now sort of way, but more like in the I'm-so-normal-and-plain-that-I'm-scary kind of way. I don't think that I have ever seen him at Tech before today, but I'll remember that face. I'll also remember what he said to me.

I nodded in his direction as he passed by, as a nice way of saying hello without having to speak. Then he smiled and calmly said, "I'll see you again." It wasn't threatening or anything, but it freaked me out. It is a general rule of etiquette that you don't say anything of substance to a passerby unless you're walking in the same direction as they are (for example, if you are both crossing the street from the same corner). He definitely broke some rules with that quip, but it was the way he said it, as calm and icy as a razor blade, that just cut into me.

It was like he was picking a fight with me, but he was so calm and he had that damn shit-eating grin on his face. I just kept on walking, but I've been thinking about that ever since it happened. I'm still not sure what happened there, but that guy is a definite weirdo. I just hope I never meet him again.

Itch-free and Bat-cute

I have noticed that a lot of the most popular blogs, like Instapundit, are just unreadable sometimes (indeed, Instapundit doesn't actually say anything most of the time), whereas some of the best blogs on earth are habitually unread and underrated. My friend has a blog that fits into that latter category. I promised not to link to her blog since she talks about personal stuff and doesn't want everyone she knows to read it, but I still think it's excellent. Case in point:
My tattoo (touched up): It's been over a week now and it's itching like fuck, but I think that's because the hair is growing in like a demon.  Aaaaanyway most of the scabs (which there were less of) have come off and the bat does look better than before, all the purple is smooth and solid. Aww, can't wait till I can shave and be itch-free and bat-cute.

Bat-cute. Now that is blogging.

Here is a representative blog from Insta:

SUMAN PALIT NOTICES UNILATERALISM in action.

posted at 04:16 PM by Glenn Reynolds

Bleh. This is like drinking the last cup of coffee in the pot, after it has turned cold and bitter. Down with Instapundit! Up with Instacutie!

5/29/2003

Apparently the War in Iraq is not over

The Post is rolling with the story that David McKiernan, the commanding general of US occupation forces in Iraq, has explicitly admitted that Gulf War II is not over, and that the harassment and guerrilla attacks to date constitute "combat activities." McKiernan would have never said something like this if it hadn't already been vetted by Bush and his advisors.
After an attack today that left another U.S. soldier dead, the commanding general of U.S. forces in Iraq acknowledged that "the war has not ended" and signaled the start of a new military push to root out what he described as die-hard supporters of Saddam Hussein.

Lt. Gen. David McKiernan said he was considering plans that would send troops from the Third Infantry Division, which fought its way into Baghdad on April 9, against an armed Iraqi resistance that has killed five U.S. soldiers this week. A U.S. soldier was killed this morning on a highway north of Baghdad when a military convoy was attacked in a roadside ambush.

...

"These are not criminal activities, they are combat activities," McKiernan told an afternoon news conference. "We're going to address those activities by applying every resource available to us. The war has not ended, that's a point I need you to understand."

The armed resistance is coalescing a month after President Bush declared victory in Iraq and an end to major combat operations. It is rising on the frustrations of many Iraqis -- even those who welcomed the U.S. invasion -- after an uncertain start by U.S. officials in the enormous task of remaking the country.


I like to think this is just a phase, and that Iraq will be a bustling, liberal democracy in a few years. I can even see myself visiting Iraq and walking through the markets looking at dreamy Arabian chicks plastered on billboards and magazine covers. Unfortunately, it is stories like this that make me really wonder, and really worry, about the future of Iraq, and by extension the future of America. This is getting messy. Everyday raises more questions about the sincerity of Bush's commitment to an open society in Iraq. I think the war was, on balance, a better idea than not, but failure here will be much worse than nothing. Much worse.
Miller Lite

Jack Shafer pounds on Judith Miller's credulous reporting for the New York Times in Slate today. I was waiting for him to weigh in after Kurtz's revelation that Miller has been relying on the totally objective Ahmed Chalabi for much of the WMD information published in the Times. Anyone who has read this blog for any length of time knows that I don't think very much of Miller (to put the point mildly), but Shafer really annihilates her credibility. As he points out, virtually nothing she has published on this topic is verified by the known facts to date. It would be understandable if not everything turned out correct, or if some of the cases turned out to be more complicated than originally reported. That is the normal news cycle, and if this were the case Miller would not be a disturbing character. As it stands, this isn't an issue of things turning out differently than expected, but of the reality being entirely counter to the image. It would be an interesting exercise to find any WMD story, just one, that Judith Miller reported that was accurate in substance. I'm not sure that such a thing exists (I invite others to prove me wrong), and that is what makes Miller disturbing.
Lebanon to be offered a deal for Hizb'allah crackdown

Ha'aretz is running with a story from As Safir that Congressman Darrell Issa will make an offer to Lebanon during his visit to invest US capital in the country in exchange for disarmament of Hizb'allah and deployment of the Lebanese Army along the border with Israel.
The U.S. plan to offer Lebanon half a million dollars in investments in the country in return for the disarmament of Hezbollah and deployment of the Lebanese army in the south of the country, the Beirut-based daily As-Safir quoted American sources as saying.

Lebanese born, U.S. Congressman Darrell Issa, due to arrive Friday in the region to visit Lebanon and Syria, is expected to make the proposal, the paper said.

According to the proposal, the U.S. will also demand that Syria withdraw its army from Lebanon, and that Lebanon and Israel settle their differences on the issue of the Wazani tributary.

The paper said that the deal will also include canceling a Congress initiative to legislate against Syria.


Nothing in the Post or the Times about this so far.
I was waiting for this one

Dear Sir,

I am Uday Hussein the first son of The former Iraqi leader President Saddam Hussein.I was priviledged to a lot of huge transactions during the reign of my father before the outbreak of Iraq war and collapse of my father's regime. Because of the imminent war and threat by the United States to freeze all assets and funds of the Hussein family, which is already on the way, I deposited the sum of US $45 MILLION as bond in a Security Finance Company. Right now I am looking for a reliable, trustworthy and competent businessman who will travel to Europe to lay claims to this funds on my behalf. This Funds was gotten as a result of the sales of petroleum to a French company allocated to me.

This funds was deposited in a Security Company in Europe because of the war so that It will not be frozen by American and British governments. Upon your response showing your interest in assisting me, the said country in Europe will be revealed to you. Presently, I am in Iraq in an undisclosed location for security reasons where there is no telephone and fax communication for security reasons.

I have entrusted all the documents covering the transaction and the deposit to my personal Attorney who is presently in South Africa. Show your interest by contacting him on his email (larryprest2003@yahoo.com). He will give you further directives as regards the claims of the funds and you would be required to give to him a letter of guarantee of trust to prove that the funds will be secured under your custody.

You are to take 25% of the total sum for assitance,5% is mapped out for any contingent expenses in the course of the transaction, while 70% will be for me. If you are interested kindly contact my lawyer on the above email address and feel free to deal with him as it will not be safe for me to deal with you directly.

I look forward to receiving updates from my lawyer as regards your cooperation.
May Allah Bless you!
Uday Hussein.


5/28/2003

I love you Onion

Someone tell me that the Onion is not the greatest thing in print. I was honestly laughing out loud in front of my computer (not just a fake AIM LOL either) reading this piece on spam. My favorite comment is from "Chris Kingery, Systems Analyst":
Even more disturbing than this never-ending torrent of junk e-mail is the fact that, apparently, they must actually work once in a while.

Shlock and Awe

CBS News is reporting that the bunker struck in the opening punch of Gulf War II never actually existed.
No one has searched Dora Farms more carefully than Tim Madere, a U.S. Army colonel assigned the task of searching sensitive sites.

Madere says no bodies have been found here.

The Air Force dropped four 2,000-pound bombs on the site because intelligence said there was a bunker complex hidden beneath the buildings. But Madere has yet to find it.

The compound has been searched three times – once by the CIA and twice by Madere, trying to find Saddam's DNA.

"When we came out here the primary thing they were looking for was an underground facility, or bodies, forensics," says Madere. "And basically what they saw was giant holes created. No underground facilities, no bodies."


5/26/2003

Judith Miller is a shill for Chalabi

There must be powerful people at the New York Times that hate Judith Miller, because someone leaked emails to Howard Kurtz of the Post that severely undermine her credibility. Specifically, they reveal that the wonderous (and manifestly false) WMD front-page headlines she has been churning out for the Times, have been coming, not from ultra-sensitive elite military sources, but from Ahmed Chalabi (the controversial leader of the INC, who left Iraq a decade before Husayn came to power).

Here are the important grafs:

The Chalabi connection surfaced when John Burns, the paper's Pulitzer Prize-winning Baghdad bureau chief, scolded Miller over her May 1 story on the Iraqi without clearing it with him.

"I am deeply chagrined at your reporting and filing on Chalabi after I had told you on Monday night that we were planning a major piece on him -- and without so much as telling me what you were doing," Burns wrote that day, according to e-mail correspondence obtained by The Washington Post.

"We have a bureau here; I am in charge of that bureau until I leave; I make assignments after considerable thought and discussion, and it was plain to all of us to whom the Chalabi story belonged. If you do this, what is to stop you doing it on any other story of your choosing? And what of the distress it causes the correspondent who is usurped? It is not professional, and not collegial."

Miller replied to Burns: "I've been covering Chalabi for about 10 years, and have done most of the stories about him for our paper, including the long takeout we recently did on him. He has provided most of the front page exclusives on WMD to our paper."

She apologized for any confusion, but noted that the Army unit she was traveling with -- Mobile Exploration Team Alpha -- "is using Chalabi's intell and document network for its own WMD work. . . . Since I'm there every day, talking to him. . . . I thought I might have been included on a decision by you" to have another reporter write about Chalabi.


Well this settles once and for all that Miller has very little ethics, and MET Alpha very little wisdom, but this was a foregone conclusion for any astute observer. The more interesting question is where Kurtz got these emails. It is not as if this sort of thing is just lying around on the floor for anyone to come and snatch up. Clearly Burns himself was involved at some level, and it is notable that Kurtz never quotes him on his opinion regarding the release. If Burns was uninvolved he would have been a natural contact for Kurtz, but if he was involved then it would be unsavory to quote him about a leak that he instigated. Even more intriguing is the issue of whether Burns had a green light from above. I'm keeping my eye on this one.

5/25/2003

Dreamy


This is Mary Jose Hnein, Miss Lebanon 2003. (This is for the asshole who surfed in here on a google search for "arabs are scum")

Would you like egg with your Post?

Friday's Washington Post ran an article by Dan Egged and Sara Kehaulani Goo, with the provocative title "New Panel, Independent of 9/11 Commission, Is Sought," which clearly implied that enough Congressmen were upset with the 9/11 Commission that there was a credible effort afoot to create an alternative. That implication was false. Saturday's Post runs with this correction:
The headline on a May 23 article about the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States, which is investigating missteps before the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, inaccurately stated that another commission is being sought to look into issues raised by the terrorist strikes.

The strange thing is that the article in question doesn't even support the headline in the body of the text. No one is quoted as saying a new commission should be founded, and there is no discussion of either the name or mandate of such a thing. Here are the first two grafs from the original article:
Several prominent lawmakers, including two Democratic presidential contenders, yesterday urged an independent commission to forcefully investigate government shortcomings prior to the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, including an aviation security system experts described as riddled with holes.

Sens. Bob Graham (D-Fla.) and Joseph I. Lieberman (D-Conn.), who are seeking the Democratic presidential nomination, also joined other lawmakers in accusing the Bush administration of seeking to obstruct the work of the six-month-old Sept. 11 commission, which has been beset by delays and is only now beginning to examine classified material related to the terrorist attacks.


The rest of the article deals with criticism of Bush's handling of the 9/11 Commission, but there is nothing about any new commission.

Unfortunately, Saturday's paper wasn't any better with a headline goof on a Sam Sheppard article titled, "New York Times Loses Libel Case," which it did not. The contradiction between image and reality was apparent from the very first paragraph:

A federal jury ruled today that the New York Times and one of its reporters libeled an Ohio Supreme Court justice in an article about a lawsuit filed by the son of Sam Sheppard. But the jury said it was done without malicious intent and refused to award damages.

Libel, by definition, is a malicious defamatory publication, and the Post clearly reported that the jury found there to be no maliciousness. If libel only constituted a false, inaccurate statement, this very article would be libel itself. Fortunately, the law is a little more sane. The Post shuttled off this tepid correction:
A headline on a May 24 article about a libel suit filed against the New York Times by Sam Reese Sheppard inaccurately stated that the Times lost the case. The jury found that the Times article in question was false and defamatory but that there was no malicious intent, the latter being a requirement for a finding of libel.

The Post clearly needs to kick its editors in the rear about these headlines that are broadcasting the direct opposite of reality. Some people just read the headlines and the first couple of paragraphs, they might not even notice the fact that the article doesn't support the headline. I expect better, especially since the Post is my favorite newspaper by far.

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