Why The President Is Probably Going To Lose

by lestro

Once again, President Obama is pulling a 180 on Candidate Obama’s promises. In this case, he promised that he would punish  those responsible for intentionally tanking the economy in 2008. Now, it seems, the president is doing everything he can to make sure everything works out in Wall Street’s favor while the good folks on Main Street who got totally and completely fucked will be left to pick up scraps and continue to slave away for our corporate overlords.

On the one side is Eric Schneiderman, the New York Attorney General, who is conducting his own investigation into the era of securitizations – the practice of chopping up assets like mortgages and converting them into saleable securities – that led up to the financial crisis of 2007-2008.

On the other side is the Obama administration, all the banks, and, now, apparently, all the other state attorneys general.  [...]

This deal will also submarine efforts by both defrauded investors in MBS and unfairly foreclosed-upon homeowners and borrowers to obtain any kind of relief in the civil court system. The AGs initially talked about $20 billion as a settlement number, money that would “toward loan modifications and possibly counseling for homeowners,” as Gretchen Morgenson reported the other day.

The banks, however, apparently “balked” at paying that sum, and no doubt it will end up being a lesser amount when the deal is finally done.

To give you an indication of how absurdly small a number even $20 billion is relative to the sums of money the banks made unloading worthless crap subprime assets on foreigners, pension funds and other unsuspecting suckers around the world, consider this: in 2008 alone, the state pension fund of Florida, all by itself, lost more than three times that amount ($62 billion) thanks in significant part to investments in these deadly MBS.

So this deal being cooked up is the ultimate Papal indulgence. By the time that $20 billion (if it even ends up being that high) gets divvied up between all the major players, the broadest and most destructive fraud scheme in American history, one that makes the S&L crisis look like a cheap liquor store holdup , will be safely reduced to a single painful but eminently survivable one-time line item for all the major perpetrators.

I love the line “the ultimate papal indulgence.”  That’s genius.

This is the essential problem facing Obama next year: the failure to even TRY to deliver on the promises he made as a candidate.

I’ve been wracking my brain; what part of his platform has he succeeded in passing?

Healthcare? nope.  He buckled and we got Hillary’s plan instead of the public option we voted for.

Closing Gitmo? nope.

Out of Iraq? not quite.

Afghanistan? still there, though we did get Bin Laden and Obama should be commended for that.

Certainly we haven’t seen the ‘change’ we were promised and frankly, I am yet to see him even try.  I expect the youth vote to stay home, once again convinced that their vote don’t mean shit, and when you remove those votes, shift the independents around and factor in a fired-up right wing, you get a mix that spells doom for the president in a race where turnout is going to be the key component…

Mark my words, this is turning into the theme song of the 2012 election:

Red dawn feminism

by twit

Lunchbreath.

image via The Daily What

We’ve come a long, long way.

There’s so much more work to do, but I’m not sure that it is appropriate to continue to fly the feminist banner when doing it.

Since history tends to like dates and such, I’ll be so bold as to say that the day American feminism died was when Cosmo laid claim to the third wave.

When a radical movement goes that mainstream, I think that’s as good a sign as any that the tide has turned.

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Joe the travesty

by twit

hey Joe, what did you learn today?

partial transcript via Think Progress:

I’ll be honest with you. I don’t think journalists should be anywhere allowed war. I mean, you guys report where our troops are at. You report what’s happening day to day. You make a big deal out of it. I think it’s asinine. You know, I liked back in World War I and World War II when you’d go to the theater and you’d see your troops on, you know, the screen and everyone would be real excited and happy for’em. Now everyone’s got an opinion and wants to downer–and down soldiers. You know, American soldiers or Israeli soldiers.

I think media should be abolished from, uh, you know, reporting. You know, war is hell. And if you’re gonna sit there and say, “Well look at this atrocity,” well you don’t know the whole story behind it half the time, so I think the media should have no business in it.

and confidential to Joe: we support our troops here.

This is what you get

by lestro

When you elect terrorists to run your ‘country.’

The question is no longer whose fault this is. The answer is very obviously Hamas.

Dr. Awni al-Jaru, 37, a surgeon at the hospital, rushed in from his home in the Toufah neighborhood in Gaza City dressed in his scrubs. But he came not to work. His head was bleeding, and his daughter’s jaw was broken.

He said Hamas militants next to his apartment building had fired mortar and rocket rounds. Israel fired back with enormous force, and his apartment was hit. His wife, Albina, originally from Ukraine, and his 1-year-old son were killed.

The story is about ordinary people being caught between the idiot terrorists and the crushing force of the Israeli army. It sucks, but what can you do?

Within minutes, another car pulled up with four more patients.

One was a 21-year-old man with shrapnel in his left leg who demanded quick treatment. He turned out to be a militant with Islamic Jihad. He was smiling a big smile.

“Hurry, I must get back so I can keep fighting,” he told the doctors and anyone else who would listen.

He was told that there were more serious cases than his and that he needed to wait his turn. But he insisted. “We are fighting the Israelis,” he said. “When we fire we run, but they hit back so fast. We run into the houses to get away.” He continued smiling.

“Why are you so happy?” someone asked. “Look around you. Don’t you see the misery that you are helping to cause?”

His answer?

“But I am from the people, too,” he said, his smile incandescent. “They lost their loved ones as martyrs. They should be happy. I want to be a martyr, too.”

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Well no wonder they’re throwing shoes

by lestro

While the Great Shoe-Throwing Incident of 2008 will undoubtedly be the only thing anyone is talking about today (that and the uncanny ability of the Buffalo Bills to almost literally throw away a game in the final minutes), there is another big Iraq story today, one that might even help explain what drove an Iraqi journalist to risk EVERYTHING to take a pot-shot at the President of the United States.

Today the New York Times details a 500+ page draft report of the “official history” of the Iraq war and the picture is not a pretty one.

Among the overarching conclusions of the history is that five years after embarking on its largest foreign reconstruction project since the Marshall Plan in Europe after World War II, the United States government has in place neither the policies and technical capacity nor the organizational structure that would be needed to undertake such a program on anything approaching this scale.

The bitterest message of all for the reconstruction program may be the way the history ends. The hard figures on basic services and industrial production compiled for the report reveal that for all the money spent and promises made, the rebuilding effort never did much more than restore what was destroyed during the invasion and the convulsive looting that followed.

According to the Times (and I’ll trust them – the actual report is here, if you want to read it, but at 500 pages, I don’t see myself getting through it today…), the last five years have been an unmitigated failure of leadership.

In the preface, Mr. Bowen gives a searing critique of what he calls the “blinkered and disjointed prewar planning for Iraq’s reconstruction” and the botched expansion of the program from a modest initiative to improve Iraqi services to a multibillion-dollar enterprise.

Mr. Bowen also swipes at the endless revisions and reversals of the program, which at various times gyrated from a focus on giant construction projects led by large Western contractors to modest community-based initiatives carried out by local Iraqis. While Mr. Bowen concedes that deteriorating security had a hand in spoiling the program’s hopes, he suggests, as he has in the past, that the program did not need much outside help to do itself in.

Let’s be clear here: No one is slagging the military.

The military mission of defeating and overthrowing Saddam Hussein and occupying the capital was a magnificent success. The military, with a few notable exceptions, have acted honoarbly and done their very best to complete the undefined, politically-motivaed and completely nebulous mission(s) handed down by the civilian leadership.

This is NOT a failure or defeat for the US Military. They did their part.

This is a political and diplomatic failure. Yet another example of how everything the Bush Administration touches seems to turn to shit.

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Iraq comes full circle

by lestro

I remember very well the excitement of the first few weeks of the Iraq war.

It was a crazy time, with news reporters “embedded” and reporting live from the backs of Humvees and Bradleys charging toward the capitol, where the Butcher of Baghdad and his elite republican guard awaited, possibly with their chemical weapons and definitely spoiling for a fight.

I remember shock and I remember awe.

and I will never forget the triumphant images of the American soldiers helping Iraqis pull down the statues of Saddam Hussein. It was a big moment, a triumph and, really, a good day for humanity.  Whether you supported the war or not, there was no way around the joy and excitement that seemed to be pouring out of the Iraqi people actually did, for one day, treat us as liberators.

Of all the images, one of the things I remember specifically was the Iraqis beating the statue of Hussein with their shoes. Men ran up to the statue from all around Baghdad, hopping as they approached the fallen icon and taking off their sandals to beat the visage of Hussein with their shoes.

I remember the anchors and correspondents telling us that this was very significant because in Iraq, hitting something with your shoe was a terrible insult.  It meant you were the lowest of the low,  beneath even the soles of their feet and a tremendous sign of disrespect.

In Iraq, apparently, hitting someone with your shoe is like spitting on them while flipping them off AND calling their dead mother a whore.

It’s nasty stuff.

As you have undoubtedly seen, Baghdad has come full circle. Today, the man who “liberated” Baghdad (and who also plunged its residents into more than five years of terror, warfare and death) visited his catastrophic blunder of a legacy for the last time as Commander-in-Chief.

This morning at a press conference, an Iraqi threw both of his shoes at our president, who had no problem avoiding both shoes, after spending the last eight years dodging questions, prosecutions and the U.S. Constitution.

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Iraqi journalist hurls “a farewell kiss” at George W. Bush

by twit

and Bush manages to duck both of them:

via Breitbart:

An Iraqi journalist hurled his shoes and an insult at George W. Bush, without hitting him, as the US president was shaking hands with the Iraqi premier at his Baghdad office on Sunday.

As the two leaders met in Nuri al-Maliki’s private office, a journalist sitting in the third row jumped up, shouting: “It is the farewell kiss, you dog,” and threw his shoes one after the other towards Bush.

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Sarah Palin thinks George W. Bush is an idiot

by twit

But apparently Bush wins this round.  From the Guardian on September 25, 2008:

Israel gave serious thought this spring to launching a military strike on Iran’s nuclear sites but was told by President George W Bush that he would not support it and did not expect to revise that view for the rest of his presidency, senior European diplomatic sources have told the Guardian.

[...] Bush’s decision to refuse to offer any support for a strike on Iran appeared to be based on two factors, the sources said. One was US concern over Iran’s likely retaliation, which would probably include a wave of attacks on US military and other personnel in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as on shipping in the Persian Gulf.

The other was US anxiety that Israel would not succeed in disabling Iran’s nuclear facilities in a single assault even with the use of dozens of aircraft. It could not mount a series of attacks over several days without risking full-scale war. So the benefits would not outweigh the costs.

But as Sarah Palin told Charles Gibson on September 11, 2008:

GIBSON: What if Israel decided it felt threatened and needed to take out the Iranian nuclear facilities?

PALIN: Well, first, we are friends with Israel and I don’t think that we should second guess the measures that Israel has to take to defend themselves and for their security.

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Sarah Palin knows more about foreign policy that we thought

by twit

Juan Cole makes an interesting point about just how radical Sarah Palin’s politics are:

On censorship, the teaching of creationism in schools, reproductive rights, attributing government policy to God’s will and climate change, Palin agrees with Hamas and Saudi Arabia rather than supporting tolerance and democratic precepts. What is the difference between Palin and a Muslim fundamentalist? Lipstick.

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Pay no attention to the war behind the curtain

by twit

October surprise edition, via the Jerusalem Post by way of Drudge:

The Dutch intelligence service, the AIVD, has called off an operation aimed at infiltrating and sabotaging Iran’s weapons industry due to an assessment that a US attack on the Islamic Republic’s nuclear program is imminent, according to a report in the country’s De Telegraaf newspaper on Friday.

The report claimed that the Dutch operation had been “extremely successful,” and had been stopped because the US military was planning to hit targets that were “connected with the Dutch espionage action.”

The impending air-strike on Iran was to be carried out by unmanned aircraft “within weeks,” the report claimed, quoting “well placed” sources.

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The end of the Iraq War

by twit

is now scheduled for 2011:

BAGHDAD (Reuters) – Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki said on Monday that an agreement had been reached in negotiations on a security pact with the United States to end any foreign military presence in Iraq by the end of 2011.

“There is an agreement actually reached, reached between the two parties on a fixed date which is the end of 2011 to end any foreign presence on Iraqi soil,” Maliki said in a speech to tribal leaders in the Baghdad’s heavily fortified Green Zone.

(update: The BBC has more on the story)

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But how did you get home, Johnny Mac?

by lestro

This week, McCain was out chillin’ with Papa Bush in Maine and slagging on Obama, who is currently on tour in Europe and the Middle East:

The Arizona senator disparaged Obama as “someone who has no military experience whatsoever.”

“When you win wars, troops come home,” McCain said. “He’s been completely wrong on the issue. … I have been steadfast in my position.”

So, uh, John…  If the troops come home when you win wars, how did your skinny ass make it home from Vietnam?

Because if this is your idea of winning a war:

Then I think we can make that happen by Friday…

Iranian dissident leader escapes to America… with a video camera

by twit

Via the International Herald Tribune:

After nearly 8 years in prison, Ahmad Batebi fled Iran, documenting the journey on a pocket-sized video camera.

A July 13, 2008 video report can be seen here. More information is available from a July 13, 2008 article:

… He rose to fame in 1999, appearing on the cover of The Economist magazine holding the bloody T-shirt of a fellow student demonstrator – an image he first saw when a judge slapped it before him and declared: “You have signed your own death sentence.”

At the age of 31, after nearly eight years in Iranian prisons, subjected to torture and twice taken to the gallows and fitted with a noose, Batebi had fled.

His own awakening began in the fourth grade, when his teacher, fed up with the distortions of an official history textbook, burst out: “Go out and read other things to try to get the truth.”

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The art of propaganda

by twit

The AFP got a photo from the Iranian government “the Web site of Sepah News, the media arm of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards, on Wednesday,” with a teensy alteration

INSERT DESCRIPTIONINSERT DESCRIPTION

Top, the image that Agence France-Presse obtained from Sepah News on Wednesday. Below, another image that The Associated Press received from the same source on Thursday.

and the next day, the Associated Press got an almost-the-same image from the Iranian government…

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The Coming War with Iran

by twit

It looks like President Bush has had a hard-on for an invasion of Iran for awhile now. Way back on April 17, 2006, Seymour Hersh writes for the New Yorker:

A government consultant with close ties to the civilian leadership in the Pentagon said that Bush was “absolutely convinced that Iran is going to get the bomb” if it is not stopped.

He said that the President believes that he must do “what no Democrat or Republican, if elected in the future, would have the courage to do,” and “that saving Iran is going to be his legacy.”

One former defense official, who still deals with sensitive issues for the Bush Administration, told me that the military planning was premised on a belief that “a sustained bombing campaign in Iran will humiliate the religious leadership and lead the public to rise up and overthrow the government.”

He added, “I was shocked when I heard it, and asked myself, ‘What are they smoking?’ ”

Indeed. But it may have something to do with the practice of “stovepiping,” described by Seymour Hersh on February 11, 2008:

It is possible that Israel conveyed intelligence directly to senior members of the Bush Administration, without it being vetted by intelligence agencies. (This process, known as “stovepiping,” overwhelmed U.S. intelligence before the war in Iraq.)

That’s right. The Bush Administration is so competent in the arts of war and intelligence gathering, they apparently often bypass the regular sources and methods to collect the information they then use to implement their policy goals.

This all sounds so damn familiar

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Condoleezza Rice is “just very supportive” of Hezbollah

by twit

Slog points this bit out from a June 17, 2008 article by the NYT:

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice made a surprise visit to Lebanon on Monday, the first by a senior American official since an agreement last month that handed decisive new powers to Hezbollah, the militant Shiite group that the United States considers a terrorist organization.

Ms. Rice met with government leaders from both the government majority and the Hezbollah-led opposition

but there’s so much more!

“Congratulations,” Ms. Rice said as she shook hands with President Michel Suleiman, the former army chief who took office last month, filling a post that had been vacant for six months. “We are all just very supportive of your presidency and your government.”

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The Moral High Ground doesn’t live here anymore

by lestro

Today’s NY Times contains a story titled “A Year Under Hamas Alters Life in Gaza” about how things have changed in the Gaza strip since Hamas, the terrorist group, took over control of the territory from Fatah, a former terrorist group, by shooting their opponents in the knees and tossing them off buildings.

http://data4.blog.de/media/875/1862875_7c90730815_m.jpegThe US and Israel reacted immediately, of course, attempting to isolate the people and force them to turn on the new leaders by cutting them off from the world.

But, as anyone who has ever read “Animal Farm” knows, isolation only makes it easier for the leaders to control the situation, as now they control the flow of information as well as the means of government, becoming providers for the people. Especially now that goods like food and fuel are scarce and Hamas controls everything being smuggled into the country (which is everything) through tunnels from Egypt.

And that taxes it, of course. It’s like the mob back in the prohibition days, controlling every aspect of business because of a failed policy on the part of the controlling authority (in this case, the US and Israel).

So not surprisingly, life isn’t good. The Israel and American blockade surely doesn’t add to the quality of life, but inside the fences, the religious fundamentalists get to rule over the territory like their own, private West Texas compound.

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the twit reads the news

by twit

whoops: Those levees they had thought would hold the Des Moines river back have breached. Total evacuation has been ordered and is well underway in affected areas due to the coordinated efforts of the earlier voluntary evacuations and the police going door-to-door before dawn to wake and assist the people still there. The BBC has video from Cedar Rapids.

damn: Tim Russert is dead. Long live Tim Russert:

What we hope to do in this campaign is recognize there are big differences on big issues between John McCain and Barack Obama – the war in Iraq, Iran, Social Security, taxes. You don’t need to get into this other stuff. If it does surface, then I think the mainstream media has an obligation not to just instinctively put it out there without vetting it.

wow: Protests in Tibet continue, including a report about a monk using a sword to defend himself from officials attempting his arrest and then managing to escape into the mountains before 200 Chinese officers arrived.

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First they came for the rappers…

by loadz

At first, it was hip hop, but it all finally makes sense, now that we know it is heavy metal hair, Jewish-American conspiracies and 2-Pac that cause homosexuality in Iranian youth.

via the Middle East Media Research Institute TV Monitor Project

I’m glad someone finally connected all this together.

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Cyber G.ho.st. breaks down real world walls

by lestro

According to the New York Times, there is a team of Palestinian and Israeli coders who are working together on creating a new web-based personal computer that will allow people to log in to their own virtual harddrives from any internet connection.

Despite the differences between their people and the walls put up to stop them, the programmers are working toward a common vision and goal.

They trade ideas through a video hookup that connects the West Bank office with one in Israel in the first joint technology venture of its kind between Israelis and Palestinians.

“Start with the optimistic parts, Mustafa,” Gilad Parann-Nissany, an Israeli who is vice president for research and development, jokes with a Palestinian colleague who is giving a progress report. Both conference rooms break into laughter.

The goal of G.ho.st is not as lofty as peace, although its founders and employees do hope to encourage it. Instead G.ho.st wants to give users a free, Web-based virtual computer that lets them access their desktop and files from any computer with an Internet connection. G.ho.st, pronounced “ghost,” is short for Global Hosted Operating System.

“Ghosts go through walls,” said Zvi Schreiber, the company’s British-born Israeli chief executive, by way of explanation…

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Bush foreign policy advice is like weight loss tips from those fat twins on the scooters

by lestro

Today the President in all his wisdom chided those who would negotiate with “terrorists and radicals.”

It is being perceived as a shot at Obama, for his (amazingly Christian, something you’d think our born-again crusader of a president would know) view of talking with our enemies in an attempt to resolve the issue by not having to start a multi-billion dollar, never-ending war.

“Some seem to believe that we should negotiate with the terrorists and radicals, as if some ingenious argument will persuade them they have been wrong all along,” Mr. Bush said.

“We have heard this foolish delusion before. As Nazi tanks crossed into Poland in 1939, an American senator declared: “Lord, if I could only have talked to Hitler, all this might have been avoided.”

We have an obligation to call this what it is — the false comfort of appeasement, which has been repeatedly discredited by history.”

What a son of a lame duck bitch he is.

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we taught them everything they know

by lestro

Well, we’ve done a heckuva job in Iraq and have obviously trained the Iraqi leadership to the absolute best of our leadership’s abilities, as apparent by the Iraqi push into Basra last week that stirred up the Mahdi army:

… interviews with a wide range of American and military officials also suggest that Mr. Maliki overestimated his military’s abilities and underestimated the scale of the resistance. The Iraqi prime minister also displayed an impulsive leadership style that did not give his forces or that of his most powerful allies, the American and British military, time to prepare.

“He went in with a stick and he poked a hornet’s nest, and the resistance he got was a little bit more than he bargained for,” said one official in the multinational force in Baghdad who requested anonymity. “They went in with 70 percent of a plan. Sometimes that’s enough. This time it wasn’t.”

As the Iraqi military and civilian casualties grew and the Iraqi planning appeared to be little more than an improvisation, the United States mounted an intensive military and political effort to try to turn around the situation, according to accounts by Mr. Crocker and several American military officials in Baghdad and Washington who spoke on condition of anonymity.

A leader with good intentions and bad advice who went lumbering into a battle with no exit strategy and a vastly underestimated sense of the insurgency that was waiting for them?

why does that sound familiar? oh yeah.

But the comparisons don’t end there.

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our surge can beat up your surge

by lestro

With all the talk about the great effectiveness of “the surge” in Iraq, one little important bit of evidence is always left out when discussing the reduction in violence: the Mahdi Army’s decision to lay low since last summer.

However, this week Moktada al-Sadr – a guy who went from a terrorist who needed to be killed into a political leader we deal with – decided to reassert himself:

Moktada al-Sadr, the radical Shiite cleric who commands the Mahdi Army and initially called for a suspension of his militia’s activities in August, called on Monday called for a nationwide civil disobedience campaign, beginning in Baghdad, in response to what his followers say is an unwarranted crackdown.

and what happened?  all hell broke loose.

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birthday parties for unjust wars

by twit

Five years ago I watched the war start on CNN. It had been frustrating then to see how limited the news coverage was of the protests that were taking place in DC and around the country at the time. On the ground, they were huge. On the news, not so much.

Five years ago we didn’t have the internets like we do now, but today, after visits to the main organizing sites and finding no blogs, no updates few updates, no recent press releases or video, I see a missed opportunity here. It looks like whatever fragmentation is happening with the organizers of the protests, it translated into fragmented coverage on the internets and in the news.

so what the hell happened?

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100 Years Is OK With Me

by squishmael

Please don’t interpret this as a commitment of support on my hairy part, but, in specific regards to the ‘100 years’ statement that Hill and Barry have been riding, I don’t think it’s all that bad as explained by CNN. I, too, think that a 100% pull-out could have some notable consequences. In fact, I would have to say that having some very-limited presence there is the responsible way to go. Getting to the point where our presence is peaceful and not prompting innocent civilians to be killed as a result of suicide bombers’ actions in reaction to our presence, however, is a very dim-lit road.

People may ignore the war in favor of the elections

by twit

and the Pew Research Center reports that Iraq was the focus of only two percent of news coverage from January 28 through February 3, 2008.

But Iraq has a way of calling attention to itself:

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Two journalists working for CBS News have gone missing in the southern Iraqi city of Basra, the company said in a statement.

“All efforts are under way to find them and until we learn more details, CBS News requests that others do not speculate on the identities of those involved. CBS News has been in touch with the families and asks that their privacy be respected,” CBS News said in a statement.

via drudge

welcome to the future

by twit

From The Jerusalem Post on Jan 23, 2008:

Hundreds of thousands of Palestinians crossed into Egypt from Gaza on Wednesday after gunmen destroyed about two-thirds of the Gaza-Egypt border wall. Most of the Gazans returned after stocking up on food and other basic supplies that have become scarce due to the blockade imposed on the territory by Israel.

UN personnel said they estimated the number of Palestinians who entered Egypt to be 350,000.

Via McClatchy, this is a 2005 pic of the wall that was knocked down:

jerusalemborderwall.mccaltchy

and this is a pic of the wall in January, 2008:

brokenborderwall.mcclatchy

UPDATE: From the Guardian on Jan 26, 2008:

Egyptian soldiers in riot gear deployed water cannon and rolls of barbed wire yesterday as they started to close the Gaza/Egypt border, turning back the thousands of Palestinians who have flooded across.

But even as some gaps in the wall were being closed, Palestinians used a bulldozer to puncture another section of the seven-mile border. Several thousand people still crossed in both directions. One crane was set up by the border at Rafah to bring over goods more quickly – particularly cement and fuel, which are scarce in Gaza.

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