31 October 2005

Calls for White House shakeup focus on Karl Rove

By Randall Mikkelsen
WASHINGTON (Reuters) -
U.S. President George W. Bush, whose top adviser Karl Rove remains in jeopardy in a CIA-leak probe, needs to shake up his White House staff if he hopes to revive a presidency reeling from multiple setbacks, Republican and Democratic lawmakers said on Sunday.
Bush should take Cheney "to the woodshed" if necessary, a Democratic lawmaker said, and the Senate's top Democrat said Rove should be fired or quit.

27 October 2005

Isle Royale National Park Poster

Exxon Mobil posts record U.S. profit

By Deepa Babington
NEW YORK (Reuters) - Exxon Mobil Corp. on Thursday posted a quarterly profit of $9.9 billion, the largest in U.S. corporate history, as it raked in a bonanza from record oil and gas prices.

While profit was up 75 percent and revenue rose 32 percent to more than $100 billion, the results fell short of Wall Street forecasts due to production outages caused by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita and sharply lower profit at the company's chemicals division.

The rest of the article can be found here.

Dick Cheney's Song of America

Drafting a plan for global dominance

Posted on Wednesday, October 26, 2005. An essay exploring the real origins of the Iraq War, written before the war started. Originally from October 2002. By David Armstrong.

Few writers are more ambitious than the writers of government policy papers, and few policy papers are more ambitious than Dick Cheney's masterwork. It has taken several forms over the last decade and is in fact the product of several ghostwriters (notably Paul Wolfowitz and Colin Powell), but Cheney has been consistent in his dedication to the ideas in the documents that bear his name, and he has maintained a close association with the ideologues behind them. Let us, therefore, call Cheney the author, and this series of documents the Plan.

The Plan was published in unclassified form most recently under the title of Defense Strategy for the 1990s, as Cheney ended his term as secretary of defense under the elder George Bush in early 1993, but it is, like Leaves of Grass, a perpetually evolving work. It was the controversial Defense Planning Guidance draft of 1992—from which Cheney, unconvincingly, tried to distance himself—and it was the somewhat less aggressive revised draft of that same year. This June it was a presidential lecture in the form of a commencement address at West Point, and in July it was leaked to the press as yet another Defense Planning Guidance (this time under the pen name of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld). It will take its ultimate form, though, as America's new national security strategy—and Cheney et al. will experience what few writers have even dared dream: their words will become our reality.

The Plan is for the United States to rule the world. The overt theme is unilateralism, but it is ultimately a story of domination. It calls for the United States to maintain its overwhelming military superiority and prevent new rivals from rising up to challenge it on the world stage. It calls for dominion over friends and enemies alike. It says not that the United States must be more powerful, or most powerful, but that it must be absolutely powerful.
The rest of the article can be found here.

[in case the previous link no longer works, here is an updated link: http://harpers.org/archive/2002/10/0079354]

26 October 2005

What the US death toll in Iraq reveals

A new poll shows that 53 percent of Americans say the war wasn't worth it.
By Dan Murphy | Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor

BAGHDAD – Sometime in the coming days, the United States military will probably report the 2,000th American military death of the Iraq war.
While in some ways an arbitrary milestone, the tragic figure only tells part of the story when it comes to the human costs and human successes - both foreign and local - of the war.

Perhaps the most striking statistic from this war, compared with any other conflict in US history, shows troops today have a much better chance of surviving if wounded. This is because of vast improvements in body armor and strides in battlefield medicine.

For instance, the ratio of deaths to serious injuries in Iraq is less than half what it was in World War II. As recently as Vietnam, 28 percent of Americans hurt in action died. In Iraq, the ratio is 11 percent. In all, about 15,000 Americans have been wounded in combat here, about half of them seriously enough to go home.
Click here to read the rest.

25 October 2005

Condi Rice and Syrian Regime Change; Could Somebody Recommend a President?

October 25th, 2005

Someone should tell Condi Rice that the gig is up. With the Bush administration dissolving in illegalities committed by key officials in their attempts to protect the lies that they used to justify the US invasion of Iraq, the secretary of state is trying to ramp up war against Syria.

Grasping a UN report that uses unreliable witnesses to implicate Syria in the assassination of a former Lebanese government official, Condi Rice told the BBC on October 23 that Syria's crime cannot be "left lying on the table. This really has to be dealt with."

This is amazing for many reasons. Here is the person in charge of US diplomacy acting as if she is the secretary of war unsheathing military force. Whoever heard of an American diplomat wanting to start a war because a former Middle Eastern government official was assassinated? Read the rest here.

23 October 2005

Death Up; Taxes Down

Bush, an Assessment


Rove has lowered his profile, but still maintains a grip on the prize: maintaining power. The power ethos links to the torture scandals at Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo. Defense Secretary Rumsfeld and White House Counsel Gonzalez both authorized such illegal behavior to control suspected terrorists.

Illegal and also inept! Bush played video golf for five days in Crawford while bodies floated down the flooded streets of New Orleans. The media finally began some critical coverage, noting the absence of the federal government in the place where people needed it most. It also re-discovered class and race. "Wow," said one of my students, "I didn't know that 37 million people lived under the poverty line." Indeed, the poor had remained especially invisible to the three million millionaires in the country who had grown richer through Bush's tax cuts.


Read the whole article. [counterpunch.org]

22 October 2005


The Dangerously Incomplete Hariri Report

By Robert Parry
October 23, 2005

A new United Nations report implicates the Syrian government in the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri, giving a lift to George W. Bush’s demand for “regime change” in Damascus. But the investigation has many holes, including failure to follow up on a mysterious van connected to the Feb. 14 bombing. [continued at Consortium News]

Poll shows Iraqis back attacks on UK, US forces

Sat Oct 22, 2005 5:49 PM ET
LONDON (Reuters) - Forty-five percent of Iraqis believe attacks on U.S. and British troops are justified, according to a secret poll said to have been commissioned by British defense leaders and cited by The Sunday Telegraph.

Less than 1 percent of those polled believed that the forces were responsible for any improvement in security, according to poll figures.

Eighty-two percent of those polled said they were "strongly opposed" to the presence of the troops.

The paper said the poll, conducted in August by an Iraqi university research team, was commissioned by the Ministry of Defense.

Britain has more than 8,000 troops stationed in the south of Iraq, and has had 97 soldiers killed, the most recent the victim of a roadside bomb on Tuesday night.

19 October 2005

Running Water

This one is from McLane creek in late August, (taken with a 35mm SLR, negatives transferred to digital medium by the photo 'wiz' downtown.) The weather has changed since then! We are currently experiencing mostly cloudy, wet conditions, with frequent mist and drizzle. There was even a short (< 1/2 hour) very low intensity wind 'storm' earlier tonight.

Hussein Trial Put Off Amid Doubts About Fairness

Jim Lobe
WASHINGTON, Oct 19 (IPS) - While international human rights groups have long wanted former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein to face trial for war crimes and crimes against humanity, they have serious reservations about whether proceedings that got underway in Baghdad Wednesday will meet international standards of fairness.

Read the rest here.

and this from London's The Guardian:
'I am the president of Iraq. I do not recognise this court'
Arguments and scuffling as defiant Saddam appears on mass murder charge
Jonathan Steele
Thursday October 20, 2005
Combative and truculent, Iraq's former dictator, Saddam Hussein, argued with the judge and scuffled with security guards yesterday, when he went on trial for mass murder in a Baghdad courtroom that was as much a theatre as a forum for justice. Beamed across the Middle East on television, the trial marked the first criminal proceedings against an Arab leader in modern times.
Read the rest here.

It is important to remember that Hussein rose to power on the wings of international intervention, namely by way of the USA's CIA.

Wilma strongest hurricane on record

By Michael Christie
MIAMI (Reuters)
- Hurricane Wilma became the most powerful Atlantic hurricane on record on Wednesday as it churned toward western Cuba and Mexico's Yucatan peninsula on a track toward Florida, having already killed 10 people in Haiti.

The season's record-tying 21st storm, fueled by the warm waters of the northwest Caribbean Sea, strengthened alarmingly into a Category 5 hurricane, the top rank on the five-step scale of hurricane intensity.

A U.S. Air Force reconnaissance plane measured maximum sustained winds of 175 mph, with higher gusts, the U.S. National Hurricane Center said.

16 October 2005

Arlington NW - Olympia WA, October 16th, 2005

link to photos

And you can find a 360º Panoramic Video; here.

Bush Feared 'Looking Weak' on Iraq

by Robert Parry
October 15th, 2005

Less than two months before invading Iraq, George W. Bush fretted that his war plans could be disrupted if United Nations weapons inspectors succeeded in gaining Saddam Hussein’s full cooperation, possibly leaving Bush “looking weak,” according to notes written by a secretary to British Prime Minister Tony Blair.

The notes, taken by Blair’s personal secretary Matthew Rycroft, were included in a new edition of Lawless World, a book by University College professor Philippe Sands. The notes on the Jan. 30, 2003, phone call between Bush and Blair were reviewed by the New York Times, which said they were marked secret and personal. [NYT, Oct. 14, 2005]

At the time, Blair wanted Bush to seek a second resolution from the U.N. Security Council that would have judged Iraq to be in violation of U.N. disarmament demands and would have authorized military action. According to the notes, Bush agreed that “it made sense to try for a second resolution, which he would love to have.”

But Bush’s deeper worry was that chief U.N. arms inspector Hans Blix would conclude that Hussein’s government was cooperating in the search for weapons of mass destruction, thus delaying or blocking U.S.-led military action. Bush’s “biggest concern was looking weak,” the British document said.

Blix indeed did judge that Iraq was cooperating with the inspectors, who weren’t finding any WMD even at sites pinpointed by U.S. intelligence.

With the U.N. inspectors coming up empty and other U.S. claims about Iraq’s WMD falling apart, Bush ditched the idea of seeking a second U.N. resolution authorizing use of military force. Instead, Bush began to pressure the U.N. inspectors to leave Iraq and Blix’s team prepared to withdraw.


Could someone please recommend Mr. "President" a qualified psychotherapist? Please!?

link to read the rest

15 October 2005

DeLay - Lessons in Calumny and Smarm


Jim Solomon AP writer -

"WASHINGTON - Stung by his recent indictment in Texas, Tom Delay is trying to turn his legal woes into a financial boon for his re-election. The former House majority leader is using his congressional campaign to distribute to voters derogatory information about the prosecutor who brought the charges against him and to solicit donations for his re-election."

"Help Tom fight back," reads one of the solicitations on the http://www.TomDelay.com Web site that voters are being directed to as part of an Internet-based campaign funded by DeLay's re-election committee."

13 October 2005

The Little Red Pack

go to original

Posted on Wednesday, October 12, 2005. From essays and testimonials on tobacco-information websites run by the Chinese government. The state monopoly on cigarettes in China provides 10 percent of government revenue; annual sales amount to 1.8 trillion cigarettes, or approximately one third of the total sold worldwide. Translated from the Chinese by Mara Hvistendahl. Originally from Harper's Magazine, September 2005.

People often ascribe the inability to quit smoking to a weak will. In reality, it is well known that many great men smoked, like Churchill, Mao Zedong, etc. The smokers all around us now are also people of outstanding character. They have a great deal of determination and strength. The courage that they show in the face of unforeseen events—a courage that many nonsmokers are unable to muster—is unforgettable.

Look at what we know about dictators: Louis XIV, Napoleon, and Hitler all abhorred smoking. Napoleon once instituted a countrywide smoking ban. Dictators are completely opposed to people gratifying their desires. Hitler harbored a rigid, fierce hatred of smoking. The only person whom he allowed to smoke in his presence was Mussolini.

In the midst of war, however, cigarettes prove their unique worth. They can be the most valuable weapons in an arsenal, as valuable as gold, and more valuable than food. A general who is now an official at the Ministry of Defense wrote in a letter: “You ask me what we need to win the war. I tell you, we need cigarettes, more cigarettes—cigarettes even more than food.” Smoking cigarettes can temporarily conceal brutal reality and help soldiers find a moment’s rest. They not only produce the feeling of being under anesthesia but can help the smoker forget the present and, like a two-faced god, remember the past and dream of the future. A general once said: “The cavalryman who doesn’t smoke is hopeless as a soldier.” His affirmation brings to mind the image of the Marlboro man—deep in the mountains, relying on his own strength as he contends with nature.

Even as people are being executed, the only thing they can think about is smoking a cigarette. In the middle of their last cigarette, they can get past their fear, face their chosen destiny, and calmly accept death. Today, in wartime situations, cigarettes are millions of people’s favorite thing, the last thing left that brings them adventure and meaning.


I majored in Food Studies in college, and I have since worked with tobacco for more than thirty years. I believe that smoking has a definite effect on one’s health. The French use tobacco to treat wounds, as it can accelerate the healing process. This is completely reasonable, because when nicotine oxidizes, it turns into one of the most effective forms of vitamin B.

There isn’t a smoker who hasn’t had the experience of trying to quit several times. Take one of my friends. One day he decided to quit smoking. For one month he didn’t touch cigarettes. But his family felt uncomfortable; they realized that he lacked energy, that he was tormenting himself. As a result, he started to smoke again, and life returned to normal for everybody.

Smoking gives you the feeling of having company. Many people think that friendship is an external thing; in reality, your own actions can become your companion when you are lonely. I used to travel to lots of places by myself, going everywhere under the sun. By the time I was twenty-five, I had covered nearly the whole country. On the road, I was really lonely, so I started to smoke. Of course, smoking gradually became many other things to me with time. When my life becomes a frantic rush, I light up a cigarette and walk calmly for a while. Smoking is itself a sort of mission—not because of the way cigarettes are used but because you grow accustomed to relying on them. It is just like how when you leave home, before you marry, you miss your parents, but later you miss your husband or wife. How could I not smoke?

This is The Little Red Pack, a reading, originally from September 2005, published Wednesday, October 12, 2005. It is part of Education, which is part of Readings, which is part of Harpers.org.
Has Theme

12 October 2005

Bush's Terrifying Terror Speech

By Robert Parry
October 10, 2005

George W. Bush’s Oct. 6 speech demanding “complete victory” in the “war on terror” unnerved some Americans who saw a president who looked and sounded like an obsessed sea captain charting the ship of state into an endless storm.

To allay some of those worries, we are offering the White House a draft for a follow-up speech in which Bush can speak straight to the concerns of his doubters. Like another draft that we proposed last summer, we don’t expect this one will get very far.

“My fellow Americans, I hear that many of you who watched my speech the other day came away a little spooked. Some of you thought I sounded crazy because I made it seem like we’d be at war in the Middle East forever.

“Some even wondered what it means to win a ‘complete victory’ over ‘terror?’ After all, ‘terror’ is an emotion or a tactic, so how do you defeat an emotion or a tactic?
“Some of you also wondered how I could be so self-righteous, condemning some people who kill civilians to achieve a political goal when I did the same in invading Iraq. Some of you remembered those Iraqi men, women and children who died during my ‘shock and awe’ bombing campaign at the start of the Iraq War.

“Like that Baghdad restaurant I had bombed because I thought Saddam might be eating there. It turned out Saddam wasn’t around, but we did kill 14 civilians, including seven children. ‘Isn’t that a form of terrorism?’ some of you ask.
“Even though I have no doubt about the morality of our cause, some of you are still miffed that I told you we were going to war in Iraq because of Saddam’s weapons of mass destruction and his ties to al-Qaeda when it turned out there weren’t any.

“You also get annoyed when I keep saying that our enemies want to hurt us because they hate our freedom.

“Some of you insist that Muslims don’t hate our freedom. It’s that they view us and the Brits as their historical oppressors. They think we’ve propped up corrupt dictators for generations so we could take their oil – like the Saudi royals, the Kuwaiti princes, the Shah of Iran, even Saddam Hussein when my dad was in office.
“Well, I responded to these concerns in my speech, when I said, ‘these extremists want to end American and Western influence in the broader Middle East, because we stand for democracy and peace.’ That's almost the same as saying they hate our freedom...

link to remainder of story


from cougar rock

11 October 2005

2005 Crude Oil Imports From Persian Gulf Highlights: Released on August 29, 2005

The Following is copied from the DOE website, linked here:
2005 Crude Oil Imports From Persian Gulf Highlights: Released on August 29, 2005

It should be noted that several factors influence the source of a company's crude oil imports. For example, a company like Motiva, which is partly owned by Saudi Refining Inc., would be expected to import a large percentage from the Persian Gulf, while Citgo Petroleum Corporation, which is owned by the Venezuelan state oil company, would not be expected to import a large percentage from the Persian Gulf, since most of their imports likely come from Venezuela. In addition, other factors that influence a specific company's sources of crude oil imports would include the characteristics of various crude oils as well as a company's economic needs. While, in general, crude oil is fungible, i.e., one crude oil can be substituted for another, many refineries are optimized by refining crude oil with specific qualities (e.g., the API gravity, the amount of sulfur in the crude oil, etc.). Also, depending on the global crude oil market condition at the time, the price difference between heavy and light crude oils varies, thus changing the economic dynamics for different refineries. Therefore, many factors determine the source of a company's crude oil imports.

Please follow the link above to get this information on the original website - I will try to figure out how to develop a table to present the information, but I don't have time now! (The important number is the percentage of oil each company imports anyway.)


(Thousand Barrels)
Totals: 1,849,904 408,999 22%

Company Total Persian Gulf % Persian Gulf
EXXONMOBIL OIL CORP 253,055 64,751 26%
VALERO MKTG & SUPPLY CO 162,530 61,573 38%
SUNOCO INC 133,391 0 0%
CHEVRON CORP 133,112 50,885 38%
PHILLIPS 66 CO 118,538 9,008 8%
MOTIVA ENTERPRISES LLC 115,643 90,530 78%
BP PRODTS N AMER INC 99,783 15,220 15%
CITGO PETRO CORP 82,040 528 1%
SHELL OIL CO 58,419 0 0%
PREMCOR REFG GROUP INC THE 55,267 16,406 30%
CONOCO INC 50,425 3,237 6%
PHILLIPS PETRO CO 41,146 1,921 5%
TOTAL PETROCHEM USA INC 32,765 11,262 34%
BP WEST COAST PRODTS LLC 28,996 15,361 53%
TESORO PETRO CORP 25,120 3,509 14%
PDV MIDWEST REFG LLC 24,987 1,000 4%
SHELL US TRADG CO 24,846 0 0%
MURPHY OIL USA INC 24,679 4,516 18%
CITGO ASPH REFG CO 13,651 0 0%
ASTRA OIL CO INC 12,329 0 0%
TESORO HAWAII CORP 12,037 4,419 37%
SHELL CHEM LP 11,670 0 0%
UNITED REFG CO 11,586 0 0%
CHS INC 7,638 0 0%
VITOL S A INC 7,036 0 0%
HUNT CRUDE OIL SUPPLY CO 5,632 2,284 41%
FRONTIER OIL & REFG 4,789 0 0%
LION OIL CO 4,518 4,518 100%
KOCH SUPPLY & TRDG CO 3,616 1,710 47%
ERGON REFG INC 3,205 0 0%
TRIGEANT LTD 1,621 0 0%
MONTANA REFG CO 1,339 0 0%
NCRA 1,283 0 0%
PLAINS MKTG LP 874 476 54%

Persian Gulf includes = Bahrain, Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and United Arab Emirates.

- I just think that we need a sticker, or some sort of label at the pump, so that the consumer has origin of product information for gasoline/diesel automobile fuels.

08 October 2005

Tall Trees

Bush frames battle of 21st century

from the October 07, 2005 edition -
In a major speech, he outlined five key steps to combat terror.
By Howard LaFranchi | Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor

WASHINGTON - President Bush went on the offensive Thursday with a spirited justification for the war on terror that sought to refocus Americans on what he sees as the central undertaking of this century: defeating the forces of Islamic radicalism.

In a speech that outlined his administration's step-by-step plan for confronting the 21st century's "ideology of hatred" and that restated why the battle is so important, Mr. Bush sought to address not only waning attention to the war on terrorism but also the debate over exactly why the US and the West are targets.

Citing 9/11 and a string of terrorist acts since 2001 stretching from Bali to London, Bush said, "No act of ours invited the rage of the killers - and no concession, bribe, or act of appeasement would change ... their plans" for burying liberty. [my emphasis]

...Orwell stirs in his grave.
With all due respect, George Bush;


06 October 2005

Cougar Rock 10/6/05

How Rotten Are These Guys?

By Robert Parry
October 5, 2005

The separation of the Bush political machine from organized crime is often like the thin layer of rock between a seemingly ordinary surface and volcanic activity rumbling below. Sometimes, the lava spews forth and the illusion of normalcy is shattered.

In the weeks ahead, a dangerous eruption is again threatening to shake the Bush family’s image of legitimacy, as the pressure from intersecting scandals builds.

So far, the mainstream news media has focused mostly on the white-collar abuses of former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay for allegedly laundering corporate donations to help Republicans gain control of the Texas legislature, or on deputy White House chief of staff Karl Rove for disclosing the identity of a covert CIA officer to undercut her husband’s criticism of George W. Bush’s case for war in Iraq.


05 October 2005

US Ranks Worst in Poverty Amongst Industrialized Nations

US poverty: chronic ill, little hope for cure
Wed Oct 5, 2005 3:36 PM ET

By Bernd Debusmann

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Four decades after a U.S. president declared war on poverty, more than 37 million people in the world's richest country are officially classified as poor and their number has been on the rise for years.
The images [of New Orleans] shocked the world, shamed many Americans and prompted comparisons with conditions in developing countries from Somalia and Angola to Bangladesh. The pictures from New Orleans showed poor black people begging for help. Most of the rescuers, when they finally arrived, were white.

The percentage of black Americans living in poverty is 24.7, almost twice as high as the overall rate for all races.
"Every August, we Americans tell ourselves a lie," said David Brady, a Duke University professor who studies poverty.

"The poverty rate was designed to undercount because the government wanted to show progress in the war on poverty.

"Taking everything into account, the real rate is around 18 percent, or 48 million people. Poverty in the United States is more widespread, by far, than in any other industrialized country." [cut]

Picture from Priest Point Park

This from Monday, September 26th, 2005

03 October 2005


This picture is from last Friday evening, September 30th.

A Cross-Eyed King's Vassal

Canada and the Tories have made the break, but Blair is still in thrall to the US president

Peter Preston
Monday October 3, 2005
The Guardian

"The member of parliament for Henley, one of modern Conservatism's stellar intellects, has reformulated his opinion of the 43rd president of the United States. Henceforth, and in brief, George Bush is simply a "cross-eyed Texan warmonger". Any previous formulation - such as the recent extended one that also found him "unelected and inarticulate" - is hereby revoked."