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News Bits, 2/28/2006

February 28th, 2006

The Iraqi military is not necessarily getting better, The single battalion rated as ready to operate independently just got downgraded to one requiring the support of U.S. troops. Not exactly encouraging three years into the occupation and with the country teetering on the brink of civil war.

Talk about spin. Here’s “fair and balanced” Fox News trying out the idea that an Iraqi civil war might be a good thing. Think I’m kidding? Check it out.

More torture evidence. Damn, that Lynndie England gets around, doesn’t she?

Remember how the Republicans made a huge, gigantic deal about the Clinton White House “discovering” certain documents some time after the Republican Congress demanded them? Guess what? Now the Bush White House is doing the exact same thing–and not only are Republicans silent, the “liberal” media is barely noticing it. In this case, the Bush administration “discovered” 250 emails that could incriminate Cheney in the Plame scandal. Frankly, I’m inclined to believe that the documents were overlooked, as it seems unlikely that the Bush administration would now reveal them if they didn’t have to–just like it was with the Clinton administration and their late-discovered records. Betcha Republicans won’t see equity in the two situations, though…

“Established” media web sites, including the Washington Post, MSNBC, and CBS News, have taken to scrubbing their web sites for whatever reasons. Sometimes it’s an error, but sometimes–as in MSNBC’s scrubbing of the news that Cheney drank beer before shooting his hunting buddy–apparently are scrubbed because somebody doesn’t like the idea of that news getting out there. I recall Fox News doing this back in 2004 when they reported complete lies about Kerry. Like printed media, such stories should always carry at least a retraction notice. The entry also notes that bloggers scrub blogs too, usually just to correct errors–but when something is removed from a published story, there should be some note of it somewhere. The most I’ll do is make an edit in style–wording or clarification–without noting it. Usually a commenter will spot an error (like Tim did yesterday), and I’ll correct the error and note it in another comment. But to remove something without notice is a horse of a different color…

Wal-Mart wants you to pay their workers’ health care costs so they don’t have to. As if they don’t have the capital to create their own health care plan. Just another reminder: shop Costco. They actually pay their people well, with reasonable benefits, and have been criticized for it. Steer clear of Wal-Marts and Sam’s Clubs.

Governors from both parties agree that Bush is decimating their National Guards. Bush has run off with their troops and equipment, leaving too little at home for guarding the nation and handling local emergencies. Even when NG troops return, the federal military keeps their state-bought equipment, thank you very much. More than $1.2 billion worth of equipment has been snagged from states’ possession so far. What’s more, Bush plans to funnel funds away from National Guards, further depriving states of what they need. But we’re not really surprised by any of this, are we? Update: Bush is promising to rebuild the state National Guards. The governors’ response: we’ll believe it when we see it.

A Texas nonprofit group was critical of Tom DeLay–and were promptly audited by the IRS at the request of DeLay’s friends. The nonprofit was cleared by the IRS, but the fact remains that the IRS was used as a political weapon. We haven’t seen that since the Nixon days, have we? Oh no, wait–we have. Liberal churches are targeted by the IRS on political grounds while right-wing churches get away with murder. And we’ve seen the Department of Homeland Security wielded as a political weapon as well. And taxpayer dollars used to create fake news stories praising Bush in an election year, and paying off journalists to hype Bush’s programs. And… well, you get the idea.

The U.A.E. received a letter from al Qaeda in 2002 that the terrorist organization has infiltrated key government positions. Of course, one would expect them to say that more if they hadn’t actually done it. However, it still raises questions about putting the U.A.E.–from which two 9/11 hijackers and some of their funding came–in charge of U.S. ports. Even if all Americans are hired for security and other staffing, it still means that U.A.E. officials have access to intel on our ports. And what about England and Singapore? Frankly, I don’t see why it is necessary to open port control to any foreign national organization or government. But that’s just me. I’m crazy like that, wanting stuff like more than 5% of incoming cargo containers inspected. Paranoid, that’s what I am.

Then again, the story was in the New York Post

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