Friday, October 5, 2007

War Crimes

We have war criminals in the White House.

Andrew Sullivan asks the question.

There is no doubt - no doubt at all - that these tactics are torture and subject to prosecution as war crimes. We know this because the law is very clear when you don't have war criminals like AEI's John Yoo rewriting it to give one man unchecked power. We know this because the very same techniques—hypothermia, long-time standing, beating—and even the very same term "enhanced interrogation techniques"—"verschaerfte Vernehmung" in the original German—were once prosecuted by American forces as war crimes. The perpetrators were the Gestapo. The penalty was death. You can verify the history here.

We have war criminals in the White House. What are we going to do about it?


Poor Tweety

He claims the White House tried to pressure him.

All I can say is that it looks like the pressure worked.


Ted Nugent For President

Here's a proposed third party candidate for the Republicans:



I want to take a moment and personally thank Senator Larry "wide stance" Craig (R-Idawhooo)for deciding to stay in the Senate. He's a fantastic poster child for the hypocritical wing of the Republican party and will be useful in the upcoming election.

Thanks Lar!

Oh, and I almost forgot to mention. Thanks to Larry, Republicans have been inspired to create there spanking new wide stance convention logo!

No, it's not a joke. This is the real logo.


Civil Strife

You may not be aware of it, but there has been a bit of civil strife among House Democrats over a new FISA bill. Looks like progressives are making headway:

Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-MD), the House Majority Leader, postponed a press conference announcing new reforms of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act after progressive lawmakers banded together and said they would fight any legislation that did not include a set of eight principles on wiretapping that preserve the "rule of law."

"What's most significant is that the Progressive Caucus came together and said to the leadership that all 72 of us require that these provisions be included," said Caroline Fredercikson, Legislative Director for the American Civil Liberties Union. "This changes the dynamic significantly.
This would seem to, at least temporarily, stop the conservative wing of the Democrats from proposing crappy new FISA legislation. Nuthin' wrong with that.


Lite Weekend Reading

If you're up for it, and want a good quality history lesson on the British in Iraq, here is a disturbingly similar story to the current Iraq story.

Bottom line, we're not the only schmucks to have tried to occupy Iraq. But hey, repeating history is great fun! Right?


Arming Iraq

Poor Bob Gates, he feeling rejected:

SANTIAGO (AFP) — US Defense Secretary Robert Gates said Thursday the United States is looking for ways to speed the delivery of arms to Iraqi security forces, acknowledging that the current system is too slow.

His comments followed criticism by Iraqi President Jalal Talabani who said Iraq was buying 100 million dollars in light military equipment for its police from China because US arms producers could not meet Iraqi demands quickly enough.
Let us review. We don't want to arm Iraqi's because we don't trust them. And for good reason. Anything we send over them that can be used to kill someone ends up in the insurgency (water purifying chlorine for example). But like a spurned lover, we don't want anyone else arming them either.

Only in Amurika.



The monthly jobs report came out at 110,000 new jobs, and upward revision for the two months! Happy Times! That is, if you like working the food service or health care industry (low paying jobs).

For perspective:

Count me as underwhelmed!


I Got Sucked In

When I first read this, I thought "hey that sounds like a good idea"! Then my friends at Slate helped me see the light:

Pharmacists, drug companies, and, presumably, patients, like the idea of behind-the-counter drugs, which exist in several countries. As could be expected, doctors aren't too keen on the idea and say it could be dangerous. An open question is whether insurance companies would cover these medicines since they don't usually pay for over-the-counter drugs and their decision could be a deciding factor on whether the proposed program is succesful.
Gee, I wonder which way the insurance companies would fall? For that matter, I wouldn't be surprise if this isn't their idea.


Quote Of The Day

If you really stop and think about it, this statement pretty much sums up the entire psychological basis of modern conservatism:

White House homeland security adviser Frances Fragos Townsend also dismissed objections to the CIA program [of torture] yesterday, saying during an appearance on CNN that al-Qaeda members are trained to resist harsh interrogations. She said that "we start with the least harsh measures first" and stop the progression "if someone becomes cooperative."


Thursday, October 4, 2007

Stealth Senator

I told you.



Given the ongoing revelations about the U.S. of A. torturing, I think this is more truthful than funny:


The Sliding Dollar

Bonddad does a very nice job explaining the situation with the U.S. dollar here. His summary is very easy to understand:

Let's tie all of these ideas together.

1.) The US is increasingly dependent on foreign financing.

2.) At the time the US is more dependent on foreign financing, the dollar is at or near it's lowest point in more than 30 years.

3.) The Federal Reserve just lowered interest rates, making US assets less attractive to foreign investors.

4.) Number three leads to a decrease in value of all the US assets held abroad.

5.) Investors don't like holding assets that are dropping in value.
Pretty straighforward. What's that mean to you and me?

Here is a chart describing the current situation. As you can see the U.S., except for the brief period of time under Clinton, has been spending itself into oblivion with foreigners carrying the freight:

For the dollar to continue as the world's currency, and in the event that foreigners refuse to carry our debt, one of two things has to happen.

1. Deficits have to be eliminated via draconian spending cuts or tax increases.

2. Interest rates must and will rise to attract investors back to the U.S. (and strengthen the dollar).

The most likely of these scenarios is number 2. In this case, the U.S. then has an economy that, unlike the last 20 years or so, lumbers along dragging a weight behind it.



This is too damned funny to pass up:

The NYT fronts a piece looking into how things don't seem to be going so well for Fred Thompson, the man who was supposed to be the Republican savior. After he finished a speech in Iowa recently, the audience stayed silent. "Can I have a round of applause?" Thompson asked.


Back To The Future

We've now come full circle, back to the original Clinton administration policy. It just took nearly six years of dick wagging to get here:

The Wall Street Journal leads its world-wide newsbox with North Korea agreeing to dismantle its main nuclear reactor at Yongbyon by the end of the year and to publicly account for its entire nuclear-weapons program. In exchange, the United States would provide economic aid and begin the process of dropping North Korea from the list of state sponsors of terrorism.


Coming Attractions

This is just one example of what we are in for over the next decade. The behavior of the Bush administration has been bad enough in public. Just wait until it all comes out later:

The New York Times leads with word that when Alberto Gonzales was attorney general, the Justice Department issued secret opinions that authorized the CIA to use extremely harsh and brutal interrogation tactics when questioning terror suspects. The first opinion, which came soon after Gonzales took on the job, was issued two months after the Justice Department had publicly issued a statement saying that "torture is abhorrent." Then, while Congress was considering legislation to outlaw torture, the department issued another secret opinion saying that the standard imposed by lawmakers would not force the CIA to change any of its tactics.
Wait until Bush leaves office and the risks of revelation go down.


Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Another One Bites The Dust

If Republicans keep retiring, liberals may actually have a veto-proof Congress next time. And if Domenici leaves, remember that New Mexico is very purple.


Cheap Tent Time

Leahy needs some new cajones or he needs to close his piehole.


The Petition

Digby makes a great case for working to get rid of Rush Limbaugh, particularly on armed forces radio. Here's the mechanism by which you can express yourself. It's a petition initiated by Wes Clark. Take a sec and give it a signature if you're so inclined.

Here's how one Congresscritter is responding to Rush's wankery:

"You're a pompous coward and it's about time someone called you out on it and that someone is me...My name is Eric Massa and you know where to find me."
Like has been said, more and better Democrats.

An excerpt from Digby:

VoteVets released a new ad on the controversy today, which you can see here, featuring an injured combat veteran calling Rush to task. Rush disgustingly replied on his show as if the man was so brain damaged he didn't know what he was saying (similar to what the right wingers always say about women who have had an abortion, I might add). Rush:

"This is such a blatant use of a valiant combat veteran, lying to him about what I said and then strapping those lies to his belt, sending him out via the media and a TV ad to walk into as many people as he can walk into. This man will always be a hero to this country with everyone. Whoever pumped him full of these lies about what I said and embarrassed him with this ad has betrayed him, they aren't hurting me they are betraying this soldier," Limbaugh said.

Shades of Michael J. Fox. He's a poor, damaged combat veteran who doesn't have full control of his own mind.

Here's the little guy's response:

So, Rush Limbaugh called me a "suicide bomber." More slander from the high and mighty sitting in his chair nursing the boils on his ass. I can assure you that I am no suicide bomber and that I can think for myself.

Rush, your phony soldier comments pissed me off. The audacity of someone like you who never had the courage to stand and fight for what you believe in makes my head spin. That is what made me stand up and state my convictions in front of a camera. I wanted to point out that you are wrong. I am not a phony soldier. I believe that we are not doing the right thing for national security by staying in Iraq. We are putting too much strain on our military by extending tours and not giving people enough time at home to rest. We have taken our eye off of the real Al-Qaeda and let them regroup to their pre-9/11 strength. We have not developed a political system in Iraq that would enable the country to stand on its own.

I stood in the sand, snow, dirt, mud and dust of both Afghanistan and Iraq. I spent over a week on a side of a mountain in Afghanistan during Operation Anaconda. I received The Bronze Star medal for my actions during that battle. I crossed the border into Iraq with the first wave of the 101st Airborne. I sustained an open head injury on the streets of Mosul after a vehicle borne IED exploded next to the vehicle I was riding in. I have seen the aftermath of a real suicide bomber. I had loved ones who died in the 9/11 attacks. I have friends and colleagues who returned from the war in body bags.

How dare you call someone like me a phony soldier and a suicide bomber? In the commercial I just taped, I told you unless you had the guts to say something to my face, stop telling lies about my service. Well you haven’t had the guts to say it to my face, but I am waiting and the offer is still on the table.
You go dude.


Pat Tillman Meet Ciara Durkin

Well, it seems have yet another Pentagon soldier/murder coverup:

NEW YORK Newspapers in Massachusetts have been doggedly digging into the case (covered by E&P on Monday) of a Quincy woman who died in Afghanistan under mysterious circumstances last week.

The military first reported that Ciara Durkin, 30, who served in the National Guard, had died “in action,” then revealed that she was killed in a “noncombat” incident that was being investigated.

Her family was told that she had been killed by a single gunshot near a church. They are charging that the military has been dragging its feet in giving them more details. They reject any chance of suicide and suspect friendly fire or murder.

A new twist emerged today in a Boston Globe article: Her family says she had told them to push for an investigation if anything ever happened to her. She was in a finance unit and may have found some improprieties, according to a story in the Patriot-Ledger, which also disclosed that her family had notified the military about her concerns about her safety three weeks ago.

The Globe reported that the family wondered if, as a lesbian, she may have been targeted. Sen. John Kerry and Sen. Ted Kennedy are pushing for answers. Since Durkin is a native of Ireland, the Irish Echo newspaper is also covering the case widely.

"She did say to us that she had concerns about things she was seeing when she was over there," her sister, Fiona Canavan, told WGBH-TV in Boston. "She told us if anything happened to her, that we were to investigate it."
Can't say I'm too shocked.


Calling A Wanker A Wanker

You absolutely must go watch this video clip of Jon Stewart's interview with Chris Matthews.

Update: Here's the vid:

Poor Tweety ....


More Blackwater

This is the best summary I've seen thus far of what happened in the "Blackwater event" in Iraq:

Despite all the new details revealed in the NYT's lead story, it's still unclear why the shooting began in the first place, or who even fired the first shot. But the fateful events of the day seem to have started when "a single bullet apparently fired by a Blackwater guard" killed an Iraqi man who was driving. His foot apparently remained on the accelarator and his car began to move toward the Blackwater convoy. Blackwater guards then began shooting in different directions as panicked Iraqis tried to escape from the scene. In what seems to be the most shocking revelation of the story, after that round of shooting stopped, one Blackwater convoy moved north and began firing at cars again.

By all accounts, the shooting was as intense and indiscriminate as it was sudden. "The shooting started like rain," an Iraqi witness said. The NYT interestingly points out that it seems early reports that talked of a woman who was shot holding on to her baby were wrong. It appears that she was holding the driver, who was her son (the man's "charred remains … were mistaken for an infant," the NYT explains).


The WP interviewed people familiar with the workings of private security companies in Iraq, as well as U.S. officials, and off-leads word that many believe contractors use their weapons far more often than what has been reported. Current and former employees say it's fairly common for contractors to open fire, frequently without provocation, and that most of these incidents are simply not reported. Even the man who is tasked with monitoring shooting incidents acknowledged that many companies don't report all of them, which doesn't seem to bother him much.
Don't you like that last line?

But of course it doesn't bother him that all incidents aren't reported. It's silly to apply our civilized standards to Iraq which is one big war zone. It would be a little like asking a police detective in a crime ridden city to pull out all the stops to investigate a burglary. Anyone who is shocked by the revelations of how far down in the jungle Iraq has fallen is simply naive.



The Chicago Tribune has a good article about Kucinich. I was struck by something as I read in comment after comment from people who think Kucinich is right on and the kind of man they want in the White House yet in the same breath they say he can't win.

How complete is the influence of the corporate media. It has convinced people that the candidate they want, the candidate they yearn for, can't win.

This is just incredible. This candidate expresses everything people say they want to happen, from the withdrawal from Iraq to health care to the environment to help for the middle class... on and on. And yet thousands of people are convinced he can't win simply because the media tells them so. As Marc Maron says, Wake up sheeple. The first step to reclaiming your nation is to take that bold move and vote for the candidate who truly represents you—regardless of what the media is telling you. They have a vested interest in keeping him out of power. He is not corporate America's friend. He is yours.


Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Rambling Thoughts

I've only got a couple for the time being.

First, the whole MoveOn/Rush Limbaugh dust-up is rather tiring. I understand why it's happening, and I don't blame liberals for fighting fire with fire. I just think it's too bad that all the hyperbole surrounding both issues actually works and is even necessary.

Second, will the religious right run a third party candidate? If I were them I would. The odds of a Republican winning the 2008 Presidential election are dim and dimming, no matter what the religious nutbars right does. The RR routinely threatens to split the conservatives, then doesn't. Put another way, the threat is getting pretty empty. But why not carry it out this time? You get the benefit of carrying out the threat during an election cycle where it may not matter much.

There is one downside to going third party for the RR. A very weak showing would go a long way towards burying the myth of the religious right's influence on 2000 and 2004. But this would seem to be a small risk, at least according to the nutbars religious right leaders who think they have a very large following.


Repeat After Me ....

More and better Democrats, more and better Democrats, more and better Democrats:

Digby on the weak response of Dems to the whole MoveOn/Rush Limbaugh dust up (Rush came out firing yesterday):

I'm tired of defending Democrats against this stuff. They seem to like looking like total assholes and having the public --- and especially the military --- see them as pathetic Charlie Browns who can't even defend themselves against a drug-addled gasbag.

They should have removed Rush Limbaugh from the taxpayer supported Armed Forces Radio before, but most especially this week when they had the chance to teach the Republicans a lesson about the perils of fucking with free speech. Taking out their flagship scumbag (something that should have been done long ago) would have been a hard shot, right in the nose, and would have put them in their place. Instead, the Dems chose to beg for their Republican friends to sign a letter asking Rush's boss to make him apologize for being mean. And what they get in return is this slander beamed directly to the soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan on our dime. Wow.

I'll repeat what I wrote last week: this election apparently boils down to whether the nation can overcome its inherent revulsion for ineffectual chickenshits to vote once again for a corrupt, failed political movement that's past its prime. I'm assuming they're tired enough of Republican failure to vote the other way by simple default. But they are getting no inspiration and there will be no mandate, so don't get your hopes up. The Republicans will continue to rule the country from the minority.


A Billion Here, A Billion There ....

Another $150 Billion down the tubes .....

The House has to agree and it looks like there may be a fly in the ointment:

Appropriations Chairman David Obey (D-WI) said today that he will not report out a war supplemental spending bill this year unless the White House makes drastic changes in its Iraq strategy. Obey demanded three conditions: 1) the White House would have to establish a goal to end U.S. involvement in the country, 2) ensure that troops receive adequate downtime between deployments, and 3) begin a “broad scale diplomatic offensive” involving other countries in the region. Obey also said he will soon unveil a “surtax,” designed to raise $140 billion to $150 billion. “We need to stop pretending that this war doesn’t cost anything,” he said.
Does he have the power to get away with this? Will it actually happen? I'm not optimistic, but you never know .....


The War Is Over!

I'm sure you've heard the headlines trumpeting the drop in casualties in Iraq. Indeed, there was a drop last month. Juan Cole gives us the details (I simply refuse to listen to or believe the mainstream media on the subject) .... and like him, I hope it's a trend:

Sep-07 842
Aug-07 1,674
Jul-07 1,690
Jun-07 1,345
May-07 1,980
Apr-07 1,821
Mar-07 2,977
Feb-07 3,014
Jan-07 1,802
Dec-06 1,752
Nov-06 1,864
Oct-06 1,539
Sep-06 3,539
Aug-06 2,966
Jul-06 1,280
Jun-06 870
May-06 1,119

It is true that the September '07 numbers are lower than at any time since June of 2006. But it is also true that June of 2006 was a fluke, followed by an alarmingly rising death toll in August and September. Deaths also fell in 2006 during Ramadan (which started 11 days later being as it is on a lunar calendar) compared to the previous period. Despite the widespread conviction that Ramadan is an especially violent month, in fact it is a time of fasting, prayer and family get togethers and not at all propitious for sneaking off to blow things up.

The other thing to observe is that the September death count for Iraqi civilians and security forces is 842! This is a number at the upper limits of averages for months during the year 2005. If you go back and look at the headlines and commentary in 2005, nobody thought that level of violence acceptable. That is, so far the numbers have fallen back down to merely horrible from having been, in much of 2006 and 2007, truly monstrous.

As many have pointed out, there are now many fewer mixed neighborhoods in Baghdad, so that faction-fighting and death squad activity at that level has declined, because it was aimed at ethnically cleansing the neighborhoods. Baghdad was about half Sunni and half Shiite in 2003. By January of 2007, it was 65 percent Shiite. It is now 75 percent Shiite. A lot of the violence in the figures above was committed in the subterranean War for Baghdad, which the Sunni Arabs decisively lost in the past eight months. The American troop escalation does not appear to have interfered with the displacement of tens of thousands of Sunni Arabs. In fact, my guess is that it unwittingly abetted it, since the Americans disarmed or chased away the Sunni Arab militiamen who defended their neighborhoods from the Shiite onslaught. When the Americans weren't looking, the Shiites took advantage of this weakening of their foe to push Sunni Arab families out of mixed neighborhoods.

If the trend toward less violence holds, and I hope it does, the question remains of whether it can be maintained when the temporary US troop escalation ends, beginning approximately 8 months from now. Some 30,000 extra US troops should make a difference, especially in Baghdad, but their sacrifices will only have been rewarded if Iraqi security forces can effectively continue their work. Likewise, without genuine progress on the front of political reconciliation, the improved security situation will risk deteriorating again.
Unfortunately the trend in Afghanistan is definitely going in the other direction:
WASHINGTON — Afghanistan is currently suffering its most violent year since the 2001 U.S.-led intervention, according to an internal United Nations report that sharply contrasts with recent upbeat appraisals by President Bush and his Afghan counterpart, Hamid Karzai.

"The security situation in Afghanistan is assessed by most analysts as having deteriorated at a constant rate through 2007," said the report compiled by the Kabul office of the U.N. Department of Safety and Security.

There were 525 security incidents — attacks by the Taliban and other violent groups, bombings, terrorism of other kinds, and abductions — on average every month during the first half of this year, up from an average of 425 incidents per month in 2006.

Last year was the most violent since the U.S. post-September 11 offensive that ousted the hard-line Taliban Islamic militia from power and drove Osama bin Laden and his al Qaida terrorists into neighboring Pakistan.


Hill On Thomas

Good for her. That asshole Clarence Thomas is out all over the place pushing his book that attempts to reinvent himself. Let's not forget the reality:

The NYT publishes an op-ed by Anita Hill, who says that although Justice Clarence Thomas "has every right to present himself as he wishes in his new memoir ... I will not stand by silently and allow him, in his anger, to reinvent me." Hill says Thomas includes several unsubstantiated claims about her and his descriptions are full of inconsistencies. Still, she is not surprised as "this kind of character attack on women and men who complain of harassment and discrimination in the workplace" is fairly common.


Are They Listening?

There's a new poll out on support for the war:

The WP fronts a new poll that reveals most Americans don't want Congress to fully fund the administration's request for $190 billion to fight the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Although a majority think Congress hasn't done enough to pressure Bush to change his Iraq policy, "there is no consensus about the pace of any U.S. troop withdrawals."
Interestingly, Congress seems to reflect this poll. There's pretty much a concensus that nobody likes the situation, but there is no concensus on what to do about it, although I think the American people are a bit clearer about getting out.



Anyone who's a reader of this blog knows that I'm no friend of Blackwater. But I'm going to defend them for a moment:

From Slate:

The report on Blackwater ultimately paints a picture of a "security enterprise that almost routinely opens fire in Iraq's streets, occasionally attempts to cover up its transgressions, and frequently is protected from censure and prosecution by U.S. State Department overseers," the LAT summarizes. The Blackwater guards seem to care little about Iraqi civilians as they infrequently stopped to help those who may have been wounded by their actions. The NYT and LAT note that Blackwater guards fired first in 163 of the 195 shooting incidents, even though the company's contract states force should be used only defensively.
Is this really any different than the behavior of our military? That, itself, doesn't excuse the actions. But the fact is that we have fighting forces (private and military) in an impossible situation. It's urban warfare with a heavily armed, unidentified enemy and in a context in which the occupiers not wanted. Who's not going to shoot first? And just like in the military, there will always be cowboys who like to shoot first. Put these highly trained killers (private and military) in anarchy and what do we expect?

As with most issue Iraq, the fault lies at the Oval Office. The people on the ground have been put in an impossible situation and are responding to survive like humans will do. I'm not sure I can be too condemning of their actions.


Monday, October 1, 2007

History Lesson

Read it and weep.

Unfortunately, I remember it. And that was a time of "more maturity" in our leadership than now.


Compare And Contrast

A. MoveOn puts a controversial ad in the newspaper

B. Congress (with a majority of Democrats) condemns MoveOn.

A. Rush Limbaugh makes an outrageous statement about phoney soldiers.

B. House members introduce a resolution commending Rush Limbaugh.

Democrats play it safe politically, Republicans unify.


Quote Of The Day

Huckleberry Lindsay Graham:

Graham told Time Wednesday that the Iraqi leaders have 90 days to start resolving their political differences with real legislative agreements or face a change in strategy by the U.S. “If they can’t do it in 90 days,” he said, “it means the major players don’t want to.” […]

Graham, who is up for re-election in 2008, said he will not wait forever. “If they can’t pull it together in the next 90 days,” he said, “I don’t think they are ever gonna do it.” He followed that prediction with a promise: “If they don’t deliver in 90 days, I will openly say the chances for political reconciliation are remote.” […]

“If they can’t do it by the end of the year,” he said, “how do you justify a continued presence?”

See Friedman, Thomas.



Boy, the blogosphere buzz about the Sy Hersh article about Cheney Bush bombing Iran is at high pitch today. No great revelations beyond what I wrote the other day, just everyone noticing the high likelihood of such an event after a serious ratcheting up of anti-Iran rhetoric.


Urban Scourge

Some time ago I attended a city sponsored seminar on "green building". One of the presenters did a complete hour presentation on what he called the single biggest mistake ever made in urban planning: parking regulation. Salon has a nice, relatively short article on the subject that I think you'll find interesting.


Sunday, September 30, 2007

Cough It Up

Give up some Starbucks and give to these guys in honor of two dead soldier.



The Army of Dude has a nice pictorial message showing a bunch of phoney soldiers in Iraq for Billo O'Reilly.


Third Party

I've often speculated that if Republicans nominate someone like Guiliani, that religious right nutbars would attempt a third party candidacy.

It looks like they're threatening that. I would put the odds pretty low though. When it comes to ideology vs. political power, they go for the power everytime. But who knows. If it looks like Republicans are a losing cause anyway, a good third party challenge would pay political dividends as a validated threat in future races.


Attack Iran .... Again

Seymour Hersh has another piece up about plans to attack Iran. It would be easy to say, so what? The rumors of an attack have been around for quite awhile.

I'm of the opinion that publications done by Hersh and others have been instrumental in actually stopping previous plans for attacks. Hopefully this one will have the same effect.

It's a good read particularly as a backgrounder on the Iran/Iraq/U.S. situation. The short version is that Cheney is now favoring "surgical" bombing strikes on Iraq after portraying the U.S. as a victim of Iranian attacks inside Iraq. Afterall, we wouldn't want a foreign power to be meddling in Iraq, now would we?

Nothing like an escalation of the escalation to keep things boiling in the Middle East eh?


Another Insurgent

It's bad enough that we are fighting insurgents in Iraq, but it also appears that mother nature is conspiring to get us to go home too:

The young Army medic would not stop bleeding.

He had been put on a powerful regimen of antibiotics by doctors aboard the hospital ship Comfort in the Persian Gulf. But something was wrong.

He was in shock and bleeding from small pricks where nurses had placed intravenous lines. Red, swollen tissue from an active bacterial infection was expanding around his abdominal wound. His immune system was in overdrive.

How odd, thought Dr. Kyle Petersen, an infectious disease specialist. He knew of one injured Iraqi man with similar symptoms and a few days later encountered an Iraqi teenager with gunshot wounds in the same condition.

Within a few days, blood tests confirmed that the medic and the two wounded Iraqis were all infected with an unusual bacterium, Acinetobacter baumannii.

This particular strain had a deadly twist. It was resistant to a dozen antibiotics. The medic survived, but by the time Petersen connected the dots, the two Iraqi patients were dead.

It was April 2003, early in the Iraq war -- and 4 1/2 years later, scientists are still struggling to understand the medical mystery.


Quote Of The Day

A Pentagon Officer describing the adjustments made by the U.S. to the use of IED's in Iraq:

"The Flintstones are adapting faster than the Jetsons."