Admin Note: Live Blogging, 1/30/05

Sometime early tomorrow morning, ASZ will open up a “live blogging” thread. The idea is to keep a running commentary going as Iraq election news becomes available. All five members of the infamous “ASZ Leftage” will have the ability to update the thread based on our own observations and reader comments throughout the day on Sunday.

We have no idea how this is going to work out. It’s a bit of an experiment – but if our experience with live blogging during last year’s debates is any indication, it should be a wild ride. Join us.

Sunday, January 30th, 2005 by Richard Blair |
Category: Uncategorized

Red Alert in the Green Zone

The U.S. Embassy in Baghdad was hit early Saturday evening by a rocket. A rocket.

A FRIGGIN’ ROCKET. So much for the illusion of rock-throwing-deadenders as insurgents. Anyone want to take the bet that the rocket had a “General Dynamics” logo stenciled on the tail fin?

Two Americans were killed in the attack, and more were injured. Outside the Green Zone, mayhem raged despite the “security lockdown”. Story here.

BAGHDAD, Iraq – Insurgents hit the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad with a rocket Saturday, killing two Americans. Militants also set off explosions that killed eight Iraqis and a U.S. soldier and blasted polling places across the country Saturday as Prime Minister Ayad Allawi’s government urged Iraqis to overcome their fear of violence and vote in landmark elections…

I’ve a dreadful feeling about tomorrow. Hope I’m wrong.

Sunday, January 30th, 2005 by Richard Blair |
Category: Uncategorized

When the World Bends and Comes to an End

Imagine for a moment. It’s not ending for everybody at once. But just for you and your family now, the ever-present now, in small and large ways. Or so it seems, confined to my finite mind. Locked in here. I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately, because it happened to my family almost seven years ago when my nephew Billy (age 12) was hit by a car on the road in front of his house, sustaining fatal head injuries, resulting in his death. He lived long enough for the doctors to harvest his corneas and kidneys from his life-support sustained body.

That would be enough, I suppose, if it weren’t for the aftermath… My sister Shari, Billy’s mom, went into a seven-year tailspin. I not only lost my nephew, but I lost my closest friend, my sister, Billy’s mom. She’s still rocking and rolling, in most part because of his catastrophic death, and in so many ways is inexorably changed and no longer able to “be” with me.

I know this happens all over the Happy Planet — The human condition… HUA! (tip of the hat to sen. bob) People die. Children die in untimely and horrible ways, but I have only my overlook. I’m here. And it’s here and now still in our family. It’s always in my face and it’s hitting me hard in the last few days. My children are 27 and 32. They were very young adults when Billy died. But, you know, before then I had never thought a lot about them dying young… before that morning in 1998. Funny that, because most of the job of mothers and fathers on our big blue marble is to keep our offspring alive until they are old enough to go off on their own. It’s been that way since the beginning of human civilization… keeping the offspring safe to grow to maturity. The thought is just a bit shaded… I’m guessing none of us thinks that to be our job.

And the rest of the world goes on, despite our private pains (and so it goes, and so it goes). Suppose you’re someone who has actually embraced the absurdity of it all. Camus, Sisyphus and all. And suppose you’re a blogger … and you hope for yourself to be connected enough to post timely and pithy threads. Imagine that sometimes it all becomes just too much, the family lovelies, and the lovelies on-line. What’s a blogger to do?

This blogger thinks all the time about those left after a bombing run in Iraq. She thinks about what happens after the tide goes away post-tsunami. I think about the US military personnel who didn’t know what sort of pain they’d leave behind if they died defending some greedy rapacious rulers’ notions of how things should wrongly be on the Happy Planet.

It’s my day off. I’ve been awake since 4 AM my time. Too much time to think and feel. Sleep would be better if I could manage it. Blogging about it works, though. Even when in emotionally feverished and grammatically impoverished places I know that I am part of something “huger”. It’s all an intricate web, after all. I keep looking for more clarity. The seeking of clarity is much of what I love about being at ASZ.

For what it’s worth. Kahlil Gibran: “I would that my life remain a tear and a smile”.

Saturday, January 29th, 2005 by Kate Storm |
Category: Uncategorized

What’s Old is New Again

Fashion trends come, and fashion trends go. What was hot last year on New York designer runways is now passe and on the discount rack in Filene’s Basement. However, if you held onto your kitsch clothes from the 80′s, well, you’re in luck — and a real fashion trendsetter.

It seems like the business world is jumping on the retro bandwagon. Back in the Reagan era, the “call to arms” for business was breaking up the monopolies and deregulation of those industries suffering under the thumb of oppressive government oversight.

The snowball that started this whole business trend was AT&T – in 1982, a court ruling forced the breakup of AT&T into many separate smaller companies. The reasoning was that one mega-company controlling the communication infrastructure in the country was not a good thing, and stifled development and competition, which were both the holy grail of consumerism.

So, AT&T was broken into regional “Baby Bells”, of which Bell Atlantic and Southern Bell were two of the resultant companies. And while the concept of de-monopolization seemed to play out for awhile, the end result is kind of like how the liquid metal, new and improved “T-1000″ coagulates back together after being blown into 10,000 pieces. More than 20 years after the AT&T breakup, monolithic megacorps are all the rage again – this time named Verizon and SBC. And, in a strange twist, SBC is making a bid to buy AT&T.

The circle is complete.

Saturday, January 29th, 2005 by Richard Blair |
Category: Uncategorized

Crap. It Looks Like Iran is a Go.

Halliburton to Wind Down Iran Operations

HOUSTON – The oil services conglomerate Halliburton Co. will wind down its operations in Iran and seek to separate its engineering and construction subsidiary KBR from the parent, chairman and CEO Dave Lesar said Friday…

The ultimate “insider trading”.

And Martha friggin’ Stewart is in jail? Someone get me a bowl of pan fried escarole soup.

Saturday, January 29th, 2005 by Richard Blair |
Category: Uncategorized

Tag ‘Em and Bag ‘Em

The Department of Homeland Security has come up with a great new way to keep us safe from terrorists. “What’s that?” you ask, “Are they implementing a new color-code system, putting more guards on the border, increasing port security, checking incoming cargo, or maybe they’re finally getting around to securing the nuclear power plants?”

Hell no! Most of those things would make sense, except the color-codes, and just what color are we at now? Sorry, lost my train of thought. Back to the topic, the DHS is planning a trial run of tagging incoming tourists with a RFID chip.

The US Department of Homeland Security has decided to trial RFID tags in an effort to make sure only the right sort of people get across US borders.

The controversial US-VISIT scheme for those visiting the US from abroad already fingerprints holidaymakers on their way into the country and is now adding RFID to the mix in order to improve border management, the department said.

The trials will start at a “simulated port” in the spring and will then be extended to Nogales East and Nogales West in Arizona; Alexandria Bay in New York; and Pacific Highway and Peace Arch in Washington by the end of July.

The “right sort of people”, gee I wonder who qualifies as the “right sort”? I pulled up this additional article on the DHS plans to tag incoming tourists.

I wonder how long it will be, before only the “wrong sort” of citizens will be required to carry a RFID tag.

Saturday, January 29th, 2005 by sukabi |
Category: Uncategorized

Copy and Paste isn’t Just for Journalists Hacks

By now we’ve all seen the photo of Cheney at the Auschwitz memorial. Dressed more for blowing snow than attending a memorial. And some have argued that maybe he was dressing for the weather, but look around everyone else dressed with class and kept warm. Does he just not care? Apparently not.

An even more glaring expression of Washington’s indifference apparently went unnoticed—at least by the pliant media. Sections of Cheney’s speech were lifted virtually unchanged from an address given by Bush when the US president and his wife made a quick tour of the camp a year-and-a-half ago

Are they too busy paying off the press to spend a little moolah to pay their speech writers?

Vice Fucking Embarrasment.

Saturday, January 29th, 2005 by sukabi |
Category: Uncategorized

Three-fer

When the Armstrong Williams story first broke, a lot of people in Left Blogistan opined that his special graft was a small part of a very big problem. Looks like conventional wisdom wasn’t too far off the mark. Payola-gate has claimed three journalists paid hacks, and there’s probably quite a few more where they came from.

From BlondeSense: And then there were three!

Friday, January 28th, 2005 by Richard Blair |
Category: Uncategorized

Another Day in Paradise

The pre-election security “lockdown” in Iraq appears to be having little practical effect. From AP:

BAGHDAD, Iraq – Insurgents killed five American soldiers in separate attacks Friday in Baghdad and blasted more polling stations across the country, sending a message that if Iraqis suffer deaths and injuries on election day, “you have only yourselves to blame.”

A U.S. Army OH-58 Kiowa helicopter crashed Friday night in southwestern Baghdad, U.S. officials said. There was no word on the fate of the crew. Four Iraqi police were killed in a car bombing in Baghdad.

…In the insurgent stronghold of Ramadi, residents said the rebels decapitated six Iraqis from the majority Shiite community Friday. Shiites, who comprise 60 percent of Iraq’s 26 million people, are expected to turn out in large numbers for the election in hopes of gaining power after generations of suppression by minority Shiites.

…Elsewhere, insurgents hit designated polling centers in at least six major cities across the country. Gunmen attacked a school to be used as a polling station in Kirkuk, killing one policeman, officials said.

…Bombs blasted three more schools designated as polling sites in the city of Beiji, 155 miles north of Baghdad. A mortar shell landed on a house close to a school believed to be used as polling site in Ramadi, wounding two women and two children, a hospital doctor said.

…In southern Iraq, a roadside bomb hit an Iraqi police vehicle, killing one officer and wounding three others, said police Lt. Col. Karim al-Zaydi. The attack occurred in the town of Zubair, south of the port city of Basra.

…Also Friday, insurgents shelled a U.S. Marine base south of Baghdad, injuring three American troops and three civilians, the military said.

And meanwhile, the Occupation Office of Propaganda (Baghdad Division) is taking some lessons from the masters of Newspeak back in Washington…

“We are getting close to finishing off al-Zarqawi and we will get rid of him,” Saleh said.

Every meal’s a banquet; every day’s a holiday.

Listen, I want the suffering and mayhem to be over for Iraqis as much as anyone on the planet. The bullshit and lies and spin and spritzing perfume on the pig is not going to make this election any more valid or any less dangerous from a participation standpoint.

Believe me, I understand that there are some in Iraq who will risk life and limb to select their own leaders. The illusion of self determination and/or manifest destiny is a powerful thing. And I wish those Iraqis who choose to run the gauntlet this coming Sunday nothing but goodwill.

I can’t help but feel, though, that all this farcical charade will prove is that America isn’t the only place in the world populated by suckers.

Friday, January 28th, 2005 by Richard Blair |
Category: Uncategorized

Postcards from the Edge of Reality

Every morning, I wake up in my bed, and recognize my surroundings. The only problem is, when I open my front door and step outside, the landscape is changing so quickly that I no longer recognize the country I was born in.

What’s up with that?

PBS show with gay parents pulled

By CARL HOOVER Tribune-Herald entertainment editor

Friday, January 28, 2005

Waco fans of ‘Postcards From Buster,’ an animated Public Broadcasting Service children’s program featuring Buster Baxter the rabbit, won’t see him visiting Vermont kids with lesbian parents after PBS pulled the Feb. 2 episode from national distribution.

The public television service took the action after newly appointed Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings blasted the episode in a letter written to PBS president and chief executive officer Pat Mitchell.

‘Many parents would not want their young children exposed to the lifestyles portrayed in the episode,’ Spellings wrote, questioning the amount of federal funds used for it.”…

Friday, January 28th, 2005 by Richard Blair |
Category: Uncategorized
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