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Born at the Crest of the Empire

Saturday, June 05, 2010

Arizona cracker, yet again

Admittedly, they're under the microscope (for good reason!,) but yet another example of Arizona's racism peaks through as an artist is ordered to "lighten" the faces on an outdoor mural at a school after a local radio host starts a controversy.

(PS. Dear White Republicans, anytime you feel the need to begin a statement, "I am not a racist, but..." or are tempted to use the phrase, "I have lots of black/Hispanic/Jewish/gay/whatever friends," you are very likely being discriminatory and should probably stop talking immediately.

No one ever got off the racist hook by citing the number of oppressed group friends they have. No one. Never.

...but then again, maybe the argument isn't for us. It's for the bigot himself.)


I hesitated to post based on the initial Turkish reports fearing inaccuracy from bias (which there was,) but some of the wounds in the Israeli boat boarding indicate a pretty brutal series of events.

Some of the activists indeed took three or four bullets with at least a couple delivered from short range to the head. Single shots to the head might indicate simple attempts to kill, but shooting someone to the head at less than two feet, after they've already been shot several times, indicates a massacre.
Nine Turkish men on board the Mavi Marmara were shot a total of 30 times and five were killed by gunshot wounds to the head, according to the vice-chairman of the Turkish council of forensic medicine....

The results revealed that a 60-year-old man, Ibrahim Bilgen, was shot four times in the temple, chest, hip and back. A 19-year-old, named as Fulkan Dogan, who also has US citizenship, was shot five times from less that 45cm, in the face, in the back of the head, twice in the leg and once in the back. Two other men were shot four times, and five of the victims were shot either in the back of the head or in the back, said Yalcin Buyuk, vice-chairman of the council of forensic medicine.

This is still based on Turkish reports, but it seems a bit more believable with a little distance, and someone putting their name and reputation behind it.

Related: The Israelis board and seize the next ship headed for Gaza without incident.

Friday, June 04, 2010

A "secret plan?" Really?

I'm always very skeptical when someone claims to have a "secret plan" to turn around a bad situation, but that's what the Democrats are claiming regarding the 2010 election.

Acting globally

The WaPo has a catchall article on the Obama administration's increased use of special ops and clandestine forces around the world to fight terrorism.

Special Operations commanders have also become a far more regular presence at the White House than they were under George W. Bush's administration....

"We have a lot more access," a second military official said. "They are talking publicly much less but they are acting more. They are willing to get aggressive much more quickly."

Bad news, sportsfans....

The US World Cup team's only likely scoring forward, Jozy Altidore, went to a hospital for a scan on his ankle after an injury in practice yesterday.

Right now, he's listed as day to day, but the scan is not a good sign. (Maybe they're just being overcautious?)

Related: I may be posting about the US World Cup journey, but I promise to hold any indication of results until 8:30 or 9 at night to give folks who work regular hours a chance to watch recordings of the game without spoilers.

Thursday, June 03, 2010

Counter Narrative

It's the U.S.-Mexico border, and even as politicians say more federal troops are needed to fight rising violence, government data obtained by The Associated Press show it actually isn't so dangerous after all.

The top four big cities in America with the lowest rates of violent crime are all in border states: San Diego, Phoenix, El Paso and Austin, according to a new FBI report.

Breaking protocol

George Bush admitted yesterday that Khalid Sheik Mohammed, the self-proclaimed mastermind of the 9/11 attacks, was waterboarded by the US, and said he would do it again "to save lives".

"Yeah, we waterboarded Khalid Sheikh Mohammed," the former president told a business audience in Grand Rapids, Michigan. "I'd do it again to save lives."

Not that long ago....

Republican figure Fred Malek has his past (rightfully) come back to haunt him, as a new set of memos emerges detailing his role in Nixon's campaign against Jews in government.

It's really pretty despicable that someone involved in this would be invited to the Republican table at all, and yet Malek was pretty involved in the McCain and Palin operations just 18 months ago.

(PS. Dear Washington Post, conducting a campaign against Jews because of their religion should not be called "a single problematic episode in government service.")


Obama talks about continuing and expanding his domestic agenda in what appears to be an effort to refocus away from the problems and launch the 2010 midterm campaign.

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Skip it

Read news for an hour and found nothing interesting enough to pass on.

Maybe later.....

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

The "interconnectivity" weakness

There was a pretty minor glitch caused by an upgrade to the ground control software of the Global Positioning System which impacted a relatively small number of military devices.

In and of itself, not too big a deal, but I've often wondered about the US's reliance on interconnected systems if we ever get in another war with an "a list" country.

Certainly China or Russia (or, more likely, a country they sponsor,) even if it ceded air control, could successfully mess up electronic communications, at least for while before the ground source was nullified. During that period, our electronic advantage would disappear, and I would think the sudden disability would create chaos.

Israel's story strains

Israel released a small bit of rather violent video from early in the boarding to try to justify the deaths, but until they release the whole thing, it will look like they're hiding a massacre.

It doesn't help that the Israelis are holding hundreds from the ships in custody, and not allowing any of them any contact with the outside world. (Another hundred or so were being forcibly deported, but were blocked from the press. When they hit the ground in their respective countries, we should hear a first version of their side of the story.)

A Security Council measure passed calling for an investigation into the incident.

Netanyahu cut short a trip to Canada and canceled a meeting with Obama.

The group that sent the ships was preparing to send more.

This whole thing is about who can control the press and sentiment, and right now the Israelis are losing.

(NYTimes, AP, USAToday, WaPo)

And, a rather interesting piece on Stratfor about the incident, especially the Geopolitical at the bottom.

Killing Al Qaeda's "number three"

After all those years of jokes about the Bush folks claiming every detainee was Al Qaeda's "number three," I gotta admit, I greeted this AP story with some skepticism.

However, the announcement of his death comes from the Al Qaeda side, and the AP's treatment is that he's very credibly the real number three. So, we'll have to wait and see, but it could be important.

(By the way, I'm guessing he was killed as part of the Obama administration's response to the Times Square bombing attempt. If you'll remember, they hit every target they had in the days after that attempted attack.)

Monday, May 31, 2010

On the Israeli raid....

The Israelis stormed a "flotilla" of ships ferrying aid to the Gaza strip. Somehow, in the largely symbolic and diplomatic seizure, shots were fired, and 10 of the folks on the aid ships were killed.

That's tragic enough, but let's look at the wider context.

The Turks had "sponsored" the Gaza aid ships, but it was also the Turks who had offered to host/hold the Iranian nuclear material in the recent Iran/Turkey/Brazil proposal to ease pressure on Iran's nuclear program. The Israelis were very unhappy with the Turkey/Iran nuclear offer which was constructed outside the current pressure and negotiations and would have allowed Iran to continue to enrich and protection from much of the proposed verification measures.

I do not believe that the two things are unconnected.

The Israelis were trying to make a hard line point to the Turks in the ship seizure, and things appear to have spun out of control on the ships.

It's this sort of miscalculation that can start wars.

Later: Turkey has symbolically recalled its Ambassador from Israel. (Although you know the US is acting as go between anyhow.)

Sort of Related: The Hamas leader says the US has been making "informal" (ie, not officially recognized) contact with Hamas.