What the Shed Looks At

Sunday, February 28, 2010

The US Gov't poisoned our booze in the twenties!!

This was posted on Slashdot just now. Apparently they poisoned booze and distributed it to scare people away from drinking. Thousands dead!



Thursday, February 25, 2010

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

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Amazing Video

One drama espresso please.

Its all the pick-me-up, without the diminutive little cup.

A warning, this is undiluted shit. Steve normally stretches this out over a half hour. You're getting the concentrate.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

The ViceGuide to Liberia

This is a follow-up of the video on Liberia I posted a few days ago. It uses some of the stock footage from the first, but the journalism is all original. Shane from VBS.TV goes to the African shithole of Liberia to talk to the warlords who eat people. What he finds there is truly baffling. He meets a character known as General Butt Naked and learns all about his cannibalistic past. This is probably the best shit to come out of VBS. You should seriously invest the time to watch this, you won't be disappointed. You have a personal guarantee on that. Vice normally puts it's shows up in 10 minutes chunks, but they decided to post this in its entirety as one video, and here it is:

Just to give you an example at how little is known about Liberia and it's problems. Type "West Pount Liberia" into google. This refers to the ghetto in Liberia's capitol city Monrovia that was visited by the VBS.TV crew. The first three hits link back to this documentary, and the fifth goes to an overt racist website.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Best Tech Call

Yeah Use WPA instead of WEP. A savvy user can go from zero knowledge to cracking WEP keys in about a day. From there he can get the knowledge to sniff packets and eavesdrop on day three. A week of hard work, and the right Google searches, and hes on to man in the middle attacks. That's the holy trinity of attacks that can compromise your encrypted internet traffic (online banking and such). That's your neighbor or the dude parked on the street with a laptop in his car. Wireless G has a range of about 110 feet. Less if it has a lot of thick walls to pass though. Devices can sense networks farther away from that, but will have difficulty connecting. If you piss someone off, and they have a week of free time, they can do this sort of shit to you. Be mindful of the area 110 feet from your access point.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Protester run over.

You wouldn't see this in America. This doesn't come as a surprise to me at all. They wouldn't allow high school kids to block traffic because this sort of shit is almost guaranteed to happen. I can't seem to conjure any pity for these fools either. People need to work. Also, they are pretty stupid if they think they can stop a car by holding on to it. I loled at the foolish kid clinging to the car near the end of this clip.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

The Honeybee


Most people don't think humanity is capable of this sort of shit.
Anyway, this is no joke. Cannibalism is prevalent in Liberia, and
surprisingly the people who partake in it speak English and are
relatively intelligible.

Dodgeball world record

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Monday, February 15, 2010

O Brother, Where Art Thou?

I just finished watching 'O Brother, Where Art Thou?' again. I had forgotten how much I liked this movie. Its one of George Clooney's forgotten classics. I'm sure he would have preferred we forget 'Attack of the Killer Tomatoes' though. For those of you who haven't seen the movie, it's loosely based on 'The Odyssey' by Homer, and it features a TON of real folk music from the depression era. Real good stuff some of it. This is the scene where Ulysses (clooney) and his band encounter the sirens.

Friday, February 12, 2010

The Recently Deflowered Girl


Check it out. Especially you, Gordan.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Patriarchy- 1 , Women- 0


Woman seeks "Jessica Alba" makeover to win back lover
Royston Chan
Thu Feb 4, 2010 2:08pm EST

SHANGHAI (Reuters) - A Chinese woman is seeking extensive plastic surgery to look like U.S. actress Jessica Alba, mainly because she hopes to win back her boyfriend who she said always wished she looked more like the Hollywood star.

The 21-year-old, who would only give her name as Xiaoqing, said she was devastated after she broke up with her lover, an ardent fan of the actress who has starred in hit movies such as "Fantastic Four" and "Into the Blue."

Xiaoqing, who works at an Internet firm in Shanghai, said that during their 18-month-long relationship, her 28-year-old boyfriend had been obsessed with Alba, adorning their apartment with her photographs and talking about her constantly.

She said that while her boyfriend had not forced her to look like Alba, he always hinted that the wanted her to resemble his favorite star and even bought her a blonde wig to wear.

A month ago, Xiaoqing left her boyfriend, whom she did not name, because his Alba obsession became too much for her. But now she says she can't get over the break-up and wants him back.

"When I broke up with my boyfriend, I was very sad," she told Reuters at the Shanghai Time Plastic Surgery Hospital which has agreed to help her fulfill her wish.

"My friends... kept consoling me but it did not work, so they suggested I do plastic surgery to look like her (Jessica Alba)."

The hospital said Xiaoqing would need multiple surgeries to alter her eyes and nose so that they would resemble Alba's. They also agreed to do it for free to showcase their surgery skills.

Hospital director Jiang Shan said he had personally spoken to Xiaoqing and advised her to think seriously about the procedure.

"If she wants to look much better than she does now, for example if she wants her skin to look smoother and her overall facial facade to look more beautiful, I think we are able to help her fulfill her wishes," Jiang said.

"But if she wants to totally look like Jessica Alba, I would think she is still not confident of herself and that she needs to solve this problem psychologically."

Shortly after the break-up, Xiaoqing posted a comment on a local web forum asking for help to win her boyfriend back.

She said that despite the many bloggers who advised her against having cosmetic surgery, she was keen on it.

"As a member of the younger generation in this country, I have a choice to decide what I want in life," she said.

"I have never been able to let him go. If in the end he still does not accept me after I undergo the plastic surgeries, I will give up. I will then choose to let go, start afresh and live life by myself," she added.

Xiaoqing said she would speak to her mother, who lives in Hubei province, while visiting home during the annual lunar new year holiday before making a final decision.

The hospital said it was not unusual for young women such as Xiaoqing to undergo cosmetic surgery to look like celebrities.

The government estimates billions of yuan are spent each year by Chinese on plastic surgery, which is seen by many as a way to boost job or marriage prospects in a highly competitive society.

(Editing by Miral Fahmy)

The worst part is she lives in China. She is virtually guaranteed to be able to find a better man and she goes and does something this stupid. I'm not really looking forward to the article in six months when she dies because of botched anesthesia.

Monday, February 8, 2010


Chronology of events through the last years of the Inca Empire
1526–1527 – Francisco Pizarro and Diego de Almagro make first contact with Inca Empire at Tumbes, the last Inca stronghold the North
c. 1528 – The Inca emperor Huanya Capac dies from European introduced smallpox. Death sets off a civil war between his sons: Atahualpa and Huascar
1528–1529 – Pizarro returns to Spain where he is granted by the Queen of Spain the license to conquer Peru
1531–1532-- Pizarro's third voyage to Peru, Atahualpa captured by Spaniards
1533 – Atahualpa is executed; Almagro arrives; Pizarro captures Cusco and installs seventeen year old Manco Inca as new Inca emperor
1535 – Pizarro founds the city of Lima; Almagro leaves for Chile
1536 – Gonzalo Pizarro steals Manco Inca’s wife, Cura Olcollo. Manca rebels and surrounds Cuzco. Juan Pizarro is killed, and Inca general Quizo Yupanqui attacks Lima
1537 – Almagro seizes Cusco from Hernando and Gonzalo Pizarro. Rodrigo Orgonez sacks Vitcos and captures Manco Inca’s son, Titu Cusi. Manco escapes and flees to Vilcabamba, the new Inca capital
1538 – Hernando Pizarro executes Diego de Almagro
1539 – Gonzalo Pizarro invades and sacks Vilcabamba; Manco Inca escapes but Francisco Pizarro executes Mancos wife, Cura Olcollo
1541 – Francisco Pizarro is murdered by Diego de Almagro II and other supporters of Almagro
1544 - Manco Inca gets killed by the Spanish. But even after that, the Inca do not stop their revolt.
1572 – viceroy of Peru, Francisco Toledo, declares war on Vilcabamba; Vilcabamba is sacked and Tupac Amaru, the last Inca emperor, is captured and executed in Cusco. The Inca capital of Vilcabamba is abandoned; the Spaniards remove inhabitants and relocate them to the newly established Christian town of San Francisco de la Victoria de Vilcabamba.

U.S. Soldier waterboards his daughter for not knowing the alphabet

I'm glad the Army was there to teach this overachieving paragon of American virtue some valuable life skills.


U.S. soldier 'waterboarded his own daughter, 4, because she couldn't recite alphabet'
Last updated at 7:12 AM on 08th February 2010

A soldier waterboarded his four-year-old daughter because she was unable to recite her alphabet.
Joshua Tabor admitted to police he had used the CIA torture technique because he was so angry.
As his daughter 'squirmed' to get away, Tabor said he submerged her face three or four times until the water was lapping around her forehead and jawline.
Tabor, 27, who had won custody of his daughter only four weeks earlier, admitted choosing the punishment because the girl was terrified of water.

Human rights activists demonstrate waterboarding in front of the Justice Department. A soldier father stands accused of waterboarding his daughter because she couldn't recite the alphabet
The practice of waterboarding was used by the CIA to break Al Qaeda suspects at Guantanamo Bay. Detainees had water poured over their face until they feared they would drown. President Barack Obama has since outlawed the practice.
Tabor, a soldier at the Lewis-McChord base in Tacoma, Washington, was arrested after being seen walking around his neighbourhood wearing a Kevlar military helmet and threatening to break windows.
Police discovered the alleged waterboarding when they went to his home in the Tacoma suburb of Yelm and spoke to his girlfriend.
She told them about the alleged torture and the terrified girl was found hiding in a closet, with bruising on her back and scratch marks on her neck and throat.
Asked how she got the bruises, the girl is said to have replied: 'Daddy did it.'
During a police interview Tabor allegedly admitted grabbing his daughter, placing her on the kitchen counter and submerging her face into a bowl of water.
Sergeant Rob Carlson said the punishment was carried out because the girl would not recite the alphabet.
Police have not revealed Tabor's military service, but his base is home to units that have served in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Tabor has been charged with assault and ordered to remain on his base and have no contact with his daughter or girlfriend, who has not been named. He is due to appear in court this week.
The girl has been taken into care. Her natural mother lives in Kansas but Tabor had been granted custody by a court.

And as always with these stories, the comment section on the Daily Mail and NY Daily News are precious.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

My podcasts

So I have put a Twitter widget on the bottom of the page. I will be periodically updating them with the podcasts I am listening to at work throughout the day. If you guys will enjoy it I will make sure to do it but if you guys just don't give a shit about it let me know. I'm gonna put some in tonight but will try to get them all in over the weekend.

America's Secret Afghan Prisons

Don't you dare tldr this post. Know that your tax dollars are currently paying for Allendeesque tactics in Afghanistan right now.


One quiet, wintry night last year in the eastern Afghan town of Khost, a young government employee named Ismatullah simply vanished. He had last been seen in the town's bazaar with a group of friends. Family members scoured Khost's dusty streets for days. Village elders contacted Taliban commanders in the area who were wont to kidnap government workers, but they had never heard of the young man. Even the governor got involved, ordering his police to round up nettlesome criminal gangs that sometimes preyed on young bazaargoers for ransom.

But the hunt turned up nothing. Spring and summer came and went with no sign of Ismatullah. Then one day, long after the police and village elders had abandoned their search, a courier delivered a neat handwritten note on Red Cross stationery to the family. In it, Ismatullah informed them that he was in Bagram, an American prison more than 200 miles away. US forces had picked him up while he was on his way home from the bazaar, the terse letter stated, and he didn't know when he would be freed.

In the past few years Pashtun villagers in Afghanistan's rugged heartland have begun to lose faith in the American project. Many of them can point to the precise moment of this transformation, and it usually took place in the dead of night, when most of the country was fast asleep. In its attempt to stamp out the growing Taliban insurgency and Al Qaeda, the US military has been arresting suspects and sending them to one of a number of secret detention areas on military bases, often on the slightest suspicion and without the knowledge of their families. These night raids have become even more feared and hated in Afghanistan than coalition airstrikes. The raids and detentions, little known or understood outside the Pashtun villages, have been turning Afghans against the very forces many of them greeted as liberators just a few years ago.

One Dark Night in November

November 19, 2009, 3:15 am. A loud blast woke the villagers of a leafy neighborhood outside Ghazni, a city of ancient provenance in the country's south. A team of US soldiers burst through the front gate of the home of Majidullah Qarar, the spokesman for Afghanistan's agriculture minister. Qarar was in Kabul at the time, but his relatives were home, four of them sleeping in the family's one-room guesthouse. One of them, Hamidullah, who sold carrots at the local bazaar, ran toward the door of the guesthouse. He was immediately shot but managed to crawl back inside, leaving a trail of blood behind him. Then Azim, a baker, darted toward his injured cousin. He, too, was shot and crumpled to the floor. The fallen men cried out to the two relatives--both of them children--remaining in the room. But they refused to move, glued to their beds in silent horror.

The foreign soldiers, most of them tattooed and bearded, then went on to the main compound. They threw clothes on the floor, smashed dinner plates and forced open closets. Finally they found the man they were looking for: Habib-ur-Rahman, a computer programmer and government employee. Rahman was responsible for converting Microsoft Windows from English to the local Pashto language so that government offices could use the software. The Afghan translator accompanying the soldiers said they were acting on a tip that Rahman was a member of Al Qaeda.

They took the barefoot Rahman and a cousin to a helicopter some distance away and transported them to a small American base in a neighboring province for interrogation. After two days, US forces released Rahman's cousin. But Rahman has not been seen or heard from since.

"We've called his phone, but it doesn't answer," said his cousin Qarar, the agriculture minister's spokesman. Using his powerful connections, Qarar enlisted local police, parliamentarians, the governor and even the agriculture minister himself in the search for his cousin, but they turned up nothing. Government officials who independently investigated the scene in the aftermath of the raid and corroborated the claims of the family also pressed for an answer as to why two of Qarar's family members were killed. American forces issued a statement saying that the dead were "enemy militants [who] demonstrated hostile intent."

Weeks after the raid, the family remains bitter. "Everyone in the area knew we were a family that worked for the government," Qarar said. "Rahman couldn't even leave the city, because if the Taliban caught him in the countryside they would have killed him."

Beyond the question of Rahman's guilt or innocence, it's how he was taken that has left such a residue of hatred among his family. "Did they have to kill my cousins? Did they have to destroy our house?" Qarar asked. "They knew where Rahman worked. Couldn't they have at least tried to come with a warrant in the daytime? We would have forced Rahman to comply."

"I used to go on TV and argue that people should support this government and the foreigners," he added. "But I was wrong. Why should anyone do so? I don't care if I get fired for saying it, but that's the truth."

The Dogs of War

Night raids are only the first step in the American detention process in Afghanistan. Suspects are usually sent to one of a series of prisons on US military bases around the country. There are officially nine such jails, called Field Detention Sites in military parlance. They are small holding areas, often just a clutch of cells divided by plywood, and are mainly used for prisoner interrogations.

In the early years of the war, these were but way stations for those en route to Bagram prison, a facility with a notorious reputation for abusive behavior. As a spotlight of international attention fell on Bagram in recent years, wardens there cleaned up their act, and the mistreatment of prisoners began to shift to the little-noticed Field Detention Sites.

Of the twenty-four former detainees interviewed for this article, seventeen claim to have been abused at or en route to these sites. Doctors, government officials and the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission, an independent Afghan body mandated by the Afghan Constitution to investigate abuse allegations, corroborate twelve of these claims.

One of these former detainees is Noor Agha Sher Khan, who used to be a police officer in Gardez, a mud-caked town in the eastern part of the country. According to Sher Khan, American forces detained him in a night raid in 2003 and brought him to a Field Detention Site at a nearby US base. "They interrogated me the whole night," he recalled, "but I had nothing to tell them." Sher Khan worked for a police commander whom US forces had detained on suspicion of having ties to the insurgency. He had occasionally acted as a driver for this commander, which made him suspicious in American eyes.

The interrogators blindfolded him, taped his mouth shut and chained him to the ceiling, he alleges. Occasionally they unleashed a dog, which repeatedly bit him. At one point they removed the blindfold and forced him to kneel on a long wooden bar. "They tied my hands to a pulley [above] and pushed me back and forth as the bar rolled across my shins. I screamed and screamed." They then pushed him to the ground and forced him to swallow twelve bottles of water. "Two people held my mouth open, and they poured water down my throat until my stomach was full and I became unconscious," he said. "It was as if someone had inflated me." After he was roused, he vomited uncontrollably.

This continued for a number of days. Sometimes he was hung upside down from the ceiling, other times he was blindfolded for extended periods. Eventually he was moved to Bagram, where the torture ceased. Four months later he was quietly released, with a letter of apology from US authorities for wrongfully imprisoning him.

An investigation of Sher Khan's case by the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission and an independent doctor found that he had wounds consistent with the abusive treatment he alleges. American forces have declined to comment on the specifics of his case, but a spokesman said that some soldiers involved in detentions in this part of the country had been given unspecified "administrative punishments." He added that "all detainees are treated humanely," except for isolated cases.

The Disappeared

Some of those taken to the Field Detention Sites are deemed innocuous and never sent to Bagram. Even then, some allege abuse. Such was the case with Hajji Ehsanullah, snatched one winter night in 2008 from his home in the southern province of Zabul. He was taken to a detention site in Khost Province, some 200 miles away. He returned home thirteen days later, his skin scarred by dog bites and with memory difficulties that, according to his doctor, resulted from a blow to the head. American forces had dropped him off at a gas station in Khost after three days of interrogation. It took him ten more days to find his way home.

Others taken to these sites seem to have disappeared entirely. In the hardscrabble villages of the Pashtun south, where rumors grow more abundantly than the most bountiful crop, locals whisper tales of people who were captured and executed. Most have no evidence. But occasionally a body turns up. Such was the case at a detention site on a US military base in Helmand Province, where in 2003 a US military coroner wrote in the autopsy report of a detainee who died in US custody (later made available through the Freedom of Information Act): "Death caused by the multiple blunt force injuries to the lower torso and legs complicated by rhabdomyolysis (release of toxic byproducts into the system due to destruction of muscle). Manner of death is homicide."

In the dust-swept province of Khost one day this past December, US forces launched a night raid on the village of Motai, killing six people and capturing nine, according to nearly a dozen local government authorities and witnesses. Two days later, the bodies of two of those detained--plastic cuffs binding their hands--were found more than a mile from the largest US base in the area. A US military spokesman denies any involvement in the deaths and declines to comment on the details of the raid. Local Afghan officials and tribal elders steadfastly maintain that the two were killed while in US custody. American authorities released four other villagers in subsequent days. The fate of the three remaining captives is unknown.

The matter could be cleared up if the US military were less secretive about its detention process. But secrecy has been the order of the day. The nine Field Detention Sites are enveloped in a blanket of official secrecy, but at least the Red Cross and other humanitarian organizations are aware of them. There may, however, be other sites whose existence on the scores of US and Afghan military bases that dot the country have not been disclosed. One example, according to former detainees, is a detention facility at Rish-Khor, an Afghan army base that sits atop a mountain overlooking the capital, Kabul.

One night last year US forces raided Zaiwalat, a tiny village that fits snugly into the mountains of Wardak Province, a few dozen miles west of Kabul, and netted nine locals. They brought the captives to Rish-Khor and interrogated them for three days. "They kept us in a container," recalled Rehmatullah Muhammad, one of the nine. "It was made of steel. We were handcuffed for three days continuously. We barely slept those days." The plain-clothed interrogators accused Muhammad and the others of giving food and shelter to the Taliban. The suspects were then sent to Bagram and released after four months. (A number of former detainees said they were interrogated by plainclothed officials, but they did not know if these officials belonged to the military, the CIA or private contractors.)

Afghan human rights campaigners worry that US forces may be using secret detention sites like the one allegedly at Rish-Khor to carry out interrogations away from prying eyes. The US military, however, denies even having knowledge of the facility.

The Black Jail

Much less secret is the final stop for most captives: the Bagram Theater Internment Facility. These days ominously dubbed "Obama's Guantánamo," Bagram nonetheless now offers the best conditions for captives during the entire detention process.

Its modern life as a prison began in 2002, when small numbers of detainees from throughout Asia were incarcerated there on the first leg of an odyssey that would eventually bring them to the US detention facility in Guantánamo, Cuba. In later years, however, it became the main destination for those caught within Afghanistan as part of the growing war there. By 2009 the inmate population had swelled to more than 700. Housed in a windowless old Soviet hangar, the prison consists of two rows of serried, cagelike cells bathed continuously in light. Guards walk along a platform that runs across the mesh tops of the pens, an easy position from which to supervise the prisoners below.

Regular, even infamous, abuse in the style of Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison marked Bagram's early years. Abdullah Mujahid, for example, was apprehended in the village of Kar Marchi in the eastern province of Paktia in 2003. Although Mujahid was a Tajik militia commander who had led an armed uprising against the Taliban in their waning days, US forces accused him of having ties to the insurgency. "In Bagram we were handcuffed, blindfolded and had our feet chained for days," he recalled. "They didn't allow us to sleep at all for thirteen days and nights." A guard would strike his legs every time he dozed off. Daily, he could hear the screams of tortured inmates and the unmistakable sound of shackles dragging across the floor.

Then one day a team of soldiers dragged him to an aircraft but refused to tell him where he was going. Eventually he landed at another prison, where the air felt thick and wet. As he walked through the row of cages, inmates began to shout, "This is Guantánamo! You are in Guantánamo!" He would learn there that he was accused of leading the Pakistani Islamist group Lashkar-e-Taiba (which in reality was led by another person who had the same name and who died in 2006). The United States eventually released him and returned him to Afghanistan.

Former Bagram detainees allege that they were regularly beaten, subjected to blaring music twenty-four hours a day, prevented from sleeping, stripped naked and forced to assume what interrogators term "stress positions." The nadir came in late 2002, when interrogators beat two inmates to death.

According to former detainees and organizations that work with them, the US Special Forces also run a second, secret prison somewhere on Bagram Air Base that the Red Cross still does not have access to. Used primarily for interrogations, it is so feared by prisoners that they have dubbed it the "Black Jail."

One day two years ago, US forces came to get Noor Muhammad outside the town of Kajaki in the southern province of Helmand. Muhammad, a physician, was running a clinic that served all comers, including the Taliban. The soldiers raided his clinic and his home, killing five people (including two patients) and detaining both his father and him. The next day villagers found the handcuffed body of Muhammad's father, apparently killed by a gunshot.

The soldiers took Muhammad to the Black Jail. "It was a tiny, narrow corridor, with lots of cells on both sides and a big steel gate and bright lights," he said. "We didn't know when it was night and when it was day." He was held in a windowless concrete room in solitary confinement. Soldiers regularly dragged him by his neck and refused him food and water. They accused him of providing medical care to the insurgents, to which he replied, "I am a doctor. It's my duty to provide care to every human being who comes to my clinic, whether they are Taliban or from the government."

Eventually Muhammad was released, but he has since closed his clinic and left his home village. "I am scared of the Americans and the Taliban," he said. "I'm happy my father is dead, so he doesn't have to experience this hell."

Afraid of the Dark

In the past two years American officials have moved to reform the main prison at Bagram, if not the Black Jail. Torture has stopped, and prison officials now boast that the typical inmate gains fifteen pounds while in custody. In the early months of this year, officials plan to open a dazzling new prison that will eventually replace Bagram, one with huge, airy cells, the latest medical equipment and rooms for vocational training. The Bagram prison itself will be handed over to the Afghans in the coming year, although the rest of the detention process will remain in US hands.

But human rights advocates say that concerns about the detention process remain. The US Supreme Court ruled in 2008 that inmates at Guantánamo cannot be stripped of their right to habeus corpus, but it stopped short of making the same argument for Bagram (officials say that since it is in the midst of a war zone, US civil rights legislation does not apply). Inmates there do not have access to a lawyer, as they do in Guantánamo. Most say they have no idea why they have been detained. They do now appear before a review panel every six months, which is intended to reassess their detention, but their ability to ask questions about their situation is limited. "I was only allowed to answer yes or no and not explain anything at my hearing," said former detainee Rehmatullah Muhammad.

Nonetheless, the improvement in Bagram's conditions begs the question: can the United States fight a cleaner war? That's what Afghan war commander Gen. Stanley McChrystal promised last summer: fewer civilian casualties, fewer of the feared house raids and a more transparent detention process.

The American troops that operate under NATO command have begun to enforce stricter rules of engagement: they may now officially hold detainees for only ninety-six hours before transferring them to the Afghan authorities or freeing them, and Afghan forces must take the lead in house searches. American soldiers, when questioned, bristle at these restrictions--and have ways of circumventing them. "Sometimes we detain people, then, when the ninety-six hours are up, we transfer them to the Afghans," said one marine who spoke on the condition of anonymity. "They rough them up a bit for us and then send them back to us for another ninety-six hours. This keeps going until we get what we want."

A simpler way of dancing around the rules is to call in the Special Operations Forces--the Navy SEALs, Green Berets and others--which are not under NATO command and thus not bound by the stricter rules of engagement. These elite troops are behind most of the night raids and detentions in the search for "high-value suspects." Military officials say in interviews that the new restrictions have not affected the number of raids and detentions at all. The actual change, however, is more subtle: the detention process has shifted almost entirely to areas and actors that can best avoid public scrutiny--small field prisons and Special Operations Forces.

The shift signals a deeper reality of war, say American soldiers: you can't fight guerrillas without invasive raids and detentions, any more than you can fight them without bullets. Seen through the eyes of a US soldier, Afghanistan is a scary place. The men are bearded and turbaned. They pray incessantly. In most of the country, women are barred from leaving the house. Many Afghans own an assault rifle. "You can't trust anyone," said Rodrigo Arias, a marine based in the northeastern province of Kunar. "I've nearly been killed in ambushes, but the villagers don't tell us anything. But they usually know something."

An officer who has worked in the Field Detention Sites says that it takes dozens of raids to turn up a useful suspect. "Sometimes you've got to bust down doors. Sometimes you've got to twist arms. You have to cast a wide net, but when you get the right person, it makes all the difference."

For Arias, it's a matter of survival. "I want to go home in one piece. If that means rounding people up, then round them up." To question this, he said, is to question whether the war itself is worth fighting. "That's not my job. The people in Washington can figure that out."

If night raids and detentions are an unavoidable part of modern counterinsurgency warfare, then so is the resentment they breed. "We were all happy when the Americans first came. We thought they would bring peace and stability," said Rehmatullah Muhammad. "But now most people in my village want them to leave." A year after Muhammad was released, his nephew was detained. Two months later, some other residents of Zaiwalat were seized. It has become a predictable pattern in Muhammad's village: Taliban forces ambush American convoys as they pass through it, and then retreat into the thick fruit orchards nearby. The Americans return at night to pick up suspects. In the past two years, sixteen people have been taken and ten killed in night raids in this single village of about 300, according to villagers. In the same period, they say, the insurgents killed one local and did not take anyone hostage.

The people of Zaiwalat now fear the night raids more than the Taliban. There are nights when Muhammad's children hear the distant thrum of a helicopter and rush into his room. He consoles them but admits he needs solace himself. "I know I should be too old for it," he said, "but this war has made me afraid of the dark."

This story is by Anand Gopal. You can see an interview with him on this subject on Democracy Now here. He has reported for The Christian Science Monitor and The Wall Street Journal among others. This article was printed in The Nation. Here is his website.

The first story on his website?

CIA Blast Blamed on Double Agent
Anand Gopal | Jan 6th, 2010 | The Wall Street Journal

WASHINGTON — The suicide bomber who killed seven Central Intelligence Agency employees and contractors and a Jordanian intelligence officer was a double agent the CIA had recruited to provide intelligence on senior al Qaeda leadership, according to current and former U.S. officials and an Afghan security official.

The officials said the bomber was a Jordanian doctor likely affiliated and working with al Qaeda.

The Afghan security official identified the bomber as Hammam Khalil Abu Mallal al-Balawi, who is also known as Abu Dujana al-Khurasani. The Pakistani Taliban also claimed that Mr. al-Balawi was the bomber, Arabic-language Web sites reported Monday.

Mr. al-Balawi was brought to the CIA’s base in Khost Province by the Jordanian intelligence official, Sharif Ali bin Zeid, who was working with the CIA, according to the Afghan security official.

The bomber appears to have been invited to an operational planning meeting on al Qaeda, a former senior U.S. intelligence official said. “It looks like an al Qaeda double agent,” the former official said. “It’s very sophisticated for a terrorist group that’s supposedly on the run.”

The blast on Dec. 30 killed four CIA officers, including the Khost base chief; three CIA contractors; and Mr. bin Zeid, officials said. Six CIA employees were wounded in the attack.

The Al Jazeera television network reported that the bomber had initially been recruited to provide intelligence on the whereabouts of Osama bin Laden’s top deputy, Ayman al Zawahiri. That couldn’t be independently confirmed Monday.

The CIA’s deputy chief of station from Kabul traveled to the meeting at the CIA Khost base, Forward Operating Base Chapman, according to former intelligence officials, pointing to the meeting’s importance. The officer was wounded in the attack, according to people familiar with the matter.

Both the Pakistani Taliban and the Afghan Taliban have claimed responsibility for the attack. The Afghan Taliban fights alongside an array of allied militants including the Haqqani network, an Islamic extremist group that operates in Afghanistan and Pakistan and maintains close ties to al Qaeda.

The U.S. and Jordanian intelligence services have worked closely together for years, said a former senior intelligence official. “There’s a confidence level with them,” the former official said. Mr. al-Balawi likely was seen as trustworthy because he’d previously provided the U.S. with valuable intelligence, said the former intelligence official. “This is someone they obviously trusted very, very much,” the former official said.

Since Mr. al-Balawi was perceived by U.S. authorities as a cooperative intelligence informant, that could explain why he was not more thoroughly searched upon entering Chapman. It also would explain how he gained access to top intelligence officials.

Mr. al-Balawi was an active recruiter and an “elite writer” on al Qaeda’s password-protected al-Hisba Web site, where he went by the name Abu Dujana al-Khurasani, according to the monthly journal of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point’s Combating Terrorism Center.

In a posting on the site in May of 2007, Mr. al-Balawi sought to persuade people from a variety of backgrounds, including African-Americans, Native Americans, Vietnamese and poor immigrants to join the fight against their “oppressor,” the U.S., the West Point analysts found.

Mr. al-Balawi had studied medicine in Turkey with government funding, according to a translation of the Jordanian Web site Jerasa News by the Middle East Media Research Institute. He left Jordan about a year ago after being detained for a few months by Jordanian intelligence officers.

The Jordanian news outlet cited eyewitness reports that Jordanian security forces had arrested Mr. al-Balawi’s youngest brother and summoned his father after the blast. They warned his father not to put up a mourning tent, fearing it could attract jihadis, the news outlet said.

Senior U.S. military officials believe that the Khost attack was carried out with the active assistance of the Haqqani network, which has mounted dozens of bloody attacks inside Khost that have turned the province into one of the most violent regions of Afghanistan.

U.S. policy makers worry that any territory that falls under Haqqani control in either Afghanistan or Pakistan could quickly become a new safe haven for al Qaeda, whose senior leaders have known and fought alongside the Haqqani family for decades. The CIA and elite U.S. Special Operations troops have responded to the Haqqani group’s offensive in Khost with a stepped-up campaign targeting the militants, and senior officials say more than two dozen Haqqani officials have been killed in recent weeks.

While coordination between the Haqqani network and the Pakistani Taliban is rare, members of both groups have said that they cooperated in the past. “At times they send suicide attackers to our area, and we give them shelter and find targets for them,” said a former Haqqani commander in an interview this summer. The commander has since left the group and made peace with the Afghan government.

A U.S. intelligence official declined to speak about the specifics of the attack but said the agency “is looking closely at every aspect of the Khost attack.” The official added, “The agency is determined to continue pursuing aggressive counterterrorism operations. Last week’s attack will be avenged.”

A former senior intelligence official said that al Qaeda had attempted to run double agents against the CIA prior to 9/11, but such efforts appeared to trail off after the 2001 offensive in Afghanistan that drove them into the tribal regions of Pakistan.

The bodies of the seven CIA employees arrived in the U.S. Monday, and CIA Director Leon Panetta, along with other agency officials and family members, attended a private ceremony at Dover Air Force Base to honor them, said CIA spokesman George Little.
—James Oberman contributed to this article.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

The evolution of the acceptance of pedophilia

So I seem to be missing a few transitional fossils of the cultural evolution of the continued gradual acceptance of subliminally revolutionary understanding of sexuality as regards youth but I have found a descendant of the GAP commercial.


For every little girl who wants to give her parents a heart attack but can't be bothered waiting until puberty to rebel, both Miley Cyrus' kid sister and her former co-star are here to help.

Eight-year-old Hannah Montana: The Movie actress Emily Grace Reaves, along with Noah Cyrus, 9, are shilling a new line of kiddie lingerie, ninemsn, MSN's Australian news site reports. And while it's technically Grace's fashion line (it's called the Emily Grace Collection, after all), whoever's in charge of marketing obviously couldn't resist associating Cyrus — a nine-year-old so far most famous for dressing like a dominatrix, pole-dancing and "Smackin' That" — with their "trendy, sweet, yet edgy" brand. The two kids will be modelling looks from the collection in videos on big sis Miley Cyrus' website.

The collection is produced by something called Ooh! La, La! Couture, and is described by a company press release as including "versatile styles that can be worn with sweet ballerina slippers, funky sneakers or paired with lace stockings and boots for more of a rock and roll look."

Sales will benefit Reaves' charity, Lollipops and Rainbows. So, should the nation's playgrounds suddenly be overrun with more tots in short skirts and leopard print than an episode of Toddlers & Tiaras, at least you can be comforted knowing their parents let them out of the house looking like that for a good cause.

© Copyright (c) The Vancouver Sun

Louis C.K. "Why?"

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Howard Zinn

So... he's dead. A People's History of the United States was huge. His many other books, numerous essays, and many speeches were great. But I would like to bring this speech to your attention. It was the Spelman College Commencement Address in 2005. He is a political Carl Sagan. Read the whole speech.


Against Discouragement
Spelman College Commencement Address, May 2005
By Howard Zinn

[In 1963, historian Howard Zinn was fired from Spelman College in Atlanta GA, where he was chair of the History Department, because of his civil rights activities. This year, he was invited back to give the commencement address. Here is the text of that speech, given on May 15, 2005.]

I am deeply honored to be invited back to Spelman after forty-two years. I would like to thank the faculty and trustees who voted to invite me, and especially your president, Dr. Beverly Tatum. And it is a special privilege to be here with Diahann Carroll and Virginia Davis Floyd.

But this is your day — the students graduating today. It's a happy day for you and your families. I know you have your own hopes for the future, so it may be a little presumptuous for me to tell you what hopes I have for you, but they are exactly the same ones that I have for my grandchildren.

My first hope is that you will not be too discouraged by the way the world looks at this moment. It is easy to be discouraged, because our nation is at war — still another war, war after war — and our government seems determined to expand its empire even if it costs the lives of tens of thousands of human beings. There is poverty in this country, and homelessness, and people without health care, and crowded classrooms, but our government, which has trillions of dollars to spend, is spending its wealth on war. There are a billion people in Africa, Asia, Latin America, and the Middle East who need clean water and medicine to deal with malaria and tuberculosis and AIDS, but our government, which has thousands of nuclear weapons, is experimenting with even more deadly nuclear weapons. Yes, it is easy to be discouraged by all that.

But let me tell you why, in spite of what I have just described, you must not be discouraged.

I want to remind you that, fifty years ago, racial segregation here in the South was entrenched as tightly as was apartheid in South Africa. The national government, even with liberal presidents like Kennedy and Johnson in office, was looking the other way while Black people were beaten and killed and denied the opportunity to vote. So Black people in the South decided they had to do something by themselves. They boycotted and sat in and picketed and demonstrated, and were beaten and jailed, and some were killed, but their cries for freedom were soon heard all over the nation and around the world, and the President and Congress finally did what they had previously failed to do — enforce the 14th and 15th Amendments to the Constitution. Many people had said: The South will never change. But it did change. It changed because ordinary people organized and took risks and challenged the system and would not give up. That's when democracy came alive.

I want to remind you also that when the war in Vietnam was going on, and young Americans were dying and coming home paralyzed, and our government was bombing the villages of Vietnam — bombing schools and hospitals and killing ordinary people in huge numbers — it looked hopeless to try to stop the war. But just as in the Southern movement, people began to protest and soon it caught on. It was a national movement. Soldiers were coming back and denouncing the war, and young people were refusing to join the military, and the war had to end.

The lesson of that history is that you must not despair, that if you are right, and you persist, things will change. The government may try to deceive the people, and the newspapers and television may do the same, but the truth has a way of coming out. The truth has a power greater than a hundred lies. I know you have practical things to do — to get jobs and get married and have children. You may become prosperous and be considered a success in the way our society defines success, by wealth and standing and prestige. But that is not enough for a good life.

Remember Tolstoy's story, "The Death of Ivan Illych." A man on his deathbed reflects on his life, how he has done everything right, obeyed the rules, become a judge, married, had children, and is looked upon as a success. Yet, in his last hours, he wonders why he feels a failure. After becoming a famous novelist, Tolstoy himself had decided that this was not enough, that he must speak out against the treatment of the Russian peasants, that he must write against war and militarism.

My hope is that whatever you do to make a good life for yourself — whether you become a teacher, or social worker, or business person, or lawyer, or poet, or scientist — you will devote part of your life to making this a better world for your children, for all children. My hope is that your generation will demand an end to war, that your generation will do something that has not yet been done in history and wipe out the national boundaries that separate us from other human beings on this earth.

Recently I saw a photo on the front page of the New York Times which I cannot get out of my mind. It showed ordinary Americans sitting on chairs on the southern border of Arizona, facing Mexico. They were holding guns and they were looking for Mexicans who might be trying to cross the border into the United States. This was horrifying to me — the realization that, in this twenty-first century of what we call "civilization," we have carved up what we claim is one world into two hundred artificially created entities we call "nations" and are ready to kill anyone who crosses a boundary.

Is not nationalism — that devotion to a flag, an anthem, a boundary, so fierce it leads to murder — one of the great evils of our time, along with racism, along with religious hatred? These ways of thinking, cultivated, nurtured, indoctrinated from childhood on, have been useful to those in power, deadly for those out of power.

Here in the United States, we are brought up to believe that our nation is different from others, an exception in the world, uniquely moral; that we expand into other lands in order to bring civilization, liberty, democracy. But if you know some history you know that's not true. If you know some history, you know we massacred Indians on this continent, invaded Mexico, sent armies into Cuba, and the Philippines. We killed huge numbers of people, and we did not bring them democracy or liberty. We did not go into Vietnam to bring democracy; we did not invade Panama to stop the drug trade; we did not invade Afghanistan and Iraq to stop terrorism. Our aims were the aims of all the other empires of world history — more profit for corporations, more power for politicians.

The poets and artists among us seem to have a clearer understanding of the disease of nationalism. Perhaps the Black poets especially are less enthralled with the virtues of American "liberty" and "democracy," their people having enjoyed so little of it. The great African-American poet Langston Hughes addressed his country as follows:

You really haven't been a virgin for so long.
It's ludicrous to keep up the pretext.
You've slept with all the big powers
In military uniforms,
And you've taken the sweet life
Of all the little brown fellows.

Being one of the world's big vampires,
Why don't you come on out and say so
Like Japan, and England, and France,
And all the other nymphomaniacs of power.

I am a veteran of the Second World War. That was considered a "good war," but I have come to the conclusion that war solves no fundamental problems and only leads to more wars. War poisons the minds of soldiers, leads them to kill and torture, and poisons the soul of the nation.

My hope is that your generation will demand that your children be brought up in a world without war. It we want a world in which the people of all countries are brothers and sisters, if the children all over the world are considered as our children, then war — in which children are always the greatest casualties — cannot be accepted as a way of solving problems.

I was on the faculty of Spelman College for seven years, from 1956 to 1963. It was a heartwarming time, because the friends we made in those years have remained our friends all these years. My wife Roslyn and I and our two children lived on campus. Sometimes when we went into town, white people would ask: How is it to be living in the Black community? It was hard to explain. But we knew this — that in downtown Atlanta, we felt as if we were in alien territory, and when we came back to the Spelman campus, we felt that we were at home.

Those years at Spelman were the most exciting of my life, the most educational certainly. I learned more from my students than they learned from me. Those were the years of the great movement in the South against racial segregation, and I became involved in that in Atlanta, in Albany, Georgia, in Selma, Alabama, in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, and Greenwood and Itta Bena and Jackson.

I learned something about democracy: that it does not come from the government, from on high, it comes from people getting together and struggling for justice. I learned about race. I learned something that any intelligent person realizes at a certain point — that race is a manufactured thing, an artificial thing, and while race does matter (as Cornel West has written), it only matters because certain people want it to matter, just as nationalism is something artificial. I learned that what really matters is that all of us — of whatever so-called race and so-called nationality — are human beings and should cherish one another.

I was lucky to be at Spelman at a time when I could watch a marvelous transformation in my students, who were so polite, so quiet, and then suddenly they were leaving the campus and going into town, and sitting in, and being arrested, and then coming out of jail full of fire and rebellion. You can read all about that in Harry Lefever's book Undaunted By The Fight: Spelman College and the Civil Rights Movement, 1957-1967.

One day Marian Wright (now Marian Wright Edelman), who was my student at Spelman, and was one of the first arrested in the Atlanta sit-ins, came to our house on campus to show us a petition she was about to put on the bulletin board of her dormitory. The heading on the petition epitomized the transformation taking place at Spelman College. Marian had written on top of the petition: "Young Ladies Who Can Picket, Please Sign Below."

My hope is that you will not be content just to be successful in the way that our society measures success; that you will not obey the rules, when the rules are unjust; that you will act out the courage that I know is in you. There are wonderful people, Black and white, who are models. I don't mean African-Americans like Condoleezza Rice, or Colin Powell, or Clarence Thomas, who have become servants of the rich and powerful. I mean W.E.B. DuBois and Martin Luther King and Malcolm X and Marian Wright Edelman, and James Baldwin and Josephine Baker and good white folk, too, who defied the Establishment to work for peace and justice.

Another of my students at Spelman, Alice Walker, who, like Marian, has remained our friend all these years, came from a tenant farmer's family in Eatonton, Georgia, and became a famous writer. In one of her first published poems, she wrote:

It is true —
I've always loved
the daring
Like the Black young
Who tried
to crash
All barriers
at once,
wanted to swim
At a white
beach (in Alabama)
I am not suggesting you go that far, but you can help to break down barriers, of race certainly, but also of nationalism; that you do what you can — you don't have to do something heroic, just something, to join with millions of others who will just do something, because all of those somethings, at certain points in history, come together, and make the world better.

That marvelous African-American writer Zora Neale Hurston, who wouldn't do what white people wanted her to do, who wouldn't do what Black people wanted her to do, who insisted on being herself, said that her mother advised her: Leap for the sun — you may not reach it, but at least you will get off the ground.

By being here today, you are already standing on your toes, ready to leap My hope for you is a good life.

Copyright © 2005, Howard Zinn

Howard Zinn is the author with Anthony Arnove of the just published Voices of a People's History of the United States (Seven Stories Press), of the international best-selling A People's History of the United States, and the classic SNCC: The New Abolitionists.

Copyright © 2005
Last Modified: May 27, 2005.
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Risk Quotes, Sayings about Taking a Chance: "A ship in harbor is safe - but that is not what ships are for."

Pardon this post, I'm testing an extension for chrome. Excellent quote though... Picked it up from bad astronomy.