December 2009


U-S-A, U-S-A!!!

As Marie Pryor shuffles along a Mississippi roadside collecting discarded drink cans to sell for a few cents, her breath comes in short puffs caused by a congenital heart defect. The same condition caused her granddaughter’s death earlier this year.

The last place on earth she would look for help is Iran, a country widely regarded in America as the enemy. The US and Iran have not had diplomatic relations for 30 years and the two governments trade daily insults over Iran’s nuclear programme. Last week Tehran charged three American hikers with espionage after they apparently strayed across the border.

But with Congress acrimoniously debating the reform of healthcare, it is to Iran that one of America’s poorest communities is turning to try to resolve its own health crisis.

A US doctor and a development consultant visited Iran in May to study a primary healthcare system that has cut infant mortality by more than two-thirds since the Islamic revolution in 1979.

Then, in October, five top Iranian doctors, including a senior official at the health ministry in Tehran, were quietly brought to Mississippi to advise on how the system could be implemented there.

The Mississippi Delta has some of the worst health statistics in the country, including infant mortality rates for non-whites at Third World levels.

“It’s time to look for a new model,” said Dr Aaron Shirley, one of the state’s leading health campaigners.

Can’t wait until the GOP hears about this one.  They’ll likely scuttle it despite the merits.  Sarah Palin’s ghostwriter will like coin a clever phrase like, “Death to America Panels” and the people of Mississippi will continue to be fucked by the best health care system in the world.  Hell, many a Mississippi resident will probably protest with all their might for the privilege.

Ah, the bucolic marketplaces of the New Iraq (Now with 20% fewer Iraqis!). To wander from stall to stall remains an experience akin to a leisurely jaunt in a similar venue in the heartland of America:

Hundreds of soldiers from Fort Lewis’ 4th Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division were already positioned around the sprawling market by the time Adm. Mike Mullen stepped out of his Mine Resistant Ambush Protected armored vehicle Saturday morning. Other service members were out of sight but still working detail, while aerial firepower remained ready if needed.

“There were a lot of moving pieces and a lot of contingencies,” said Capt. Gabby Niess, a California resident who helped plan the security mission, dubbed Operation Rock Sword. “It looked like there was a lot going on, and there was even more going on in the air and behind the scenes.”

A company from 1st Battalion, 38th Infantry Regiment and the battalion’s personal security detail element – a total of about 160 soldiers – created two security cordons around the market and stationed snipers throughout the area. Two F-16 fighter jets and attack AH-64 Apache helicopters flew overhead to provide firepower if needed, and Air Force joint tactical air controllers were on the ground to coordinate attacks. A Shadow drone aircraft circled in the air to provide a view of the ground.

Air Force working dogs swept the area for bombs before Mullen arrived and were close by as the admiral chatted with commanders and Iraqi merchants. The admiral arrived as part of an eight-vehicle convoy – five MRAPs and three Strykers – staffed by 4th Brigade’s military police platoon.

Sweet, sweet victory.  All hail The Surge.

Every time a terror suspect is not tortured and denied habeas corpus rights, a neocon dies a little on the inside.  With Michael Goldfarb, the testicles are the first to go:

If he (Abdulmutallab) were treated as an enemy combatant and transferred to military commission system, we could use Army Field Manual techniques without Miranda (not as effective as enhanced techniques, of course, but much better than standard police practice). We could use his non-Mirandized statements against him in military commissions, so long as the statements were not forcibly coerced and were otherwise reliable. Instead, it’s three squares a day, the best legal defense the ACLU can provide, and maybe the chance for parole before the kids he was trying to kill on that plane even make it out of college.

Right.  Because we’ll never have enough evidence against the underwear bomber to convict him in a civilian court and send him away for life.  Just like we let Moussaoui go.  And that shoe bomber guy.  And the first WTC bombers.  Etc.

Wank. Or.

(h/t)

One of the Kung Fu Monkeys dusts off a post from circa the last foiled terrorist plot and man is it pure evergreen gold (not an oxymoron, because I said so).  A taste:

“Wait, Arent You Scared?”

Errr, no. And if you are, you frankly should be a little goddam embarrassed.

No false bravado and it’s not that I don’t take terrorism seriously. I do, which I why I voted for the guy who believed in securing our ports and fighting terrorism with criminal investigation methods — which is, if we may remind everybody, how this particular plot was busted.

I am just not going to wet my pants every time some guys get arrested in a terror plot. I will do my best to stay informed. I will support the necessary law enforcement agencies. I will take whatever reasonable precautions seem, um, reasonable. But I will not be terrorized. I assume that the terror-ists would like me to be terror-ized, as that is what is says on their nametag, rather than, say, wanting me to surrender to ennui or negative body image, and they’re just coming the long way around.

Osama Bin Laden got everything on his Christmas list after 9/11 — US out of Saudi Arabia; the greatest military in the world over-extended, pinned down and distracted; the greatest proponent of democracy suddenly alienated from its allies; a US culture verily eager to destroy freedoms that little scumfuck could never even dream to touch himself — I would like to deny him the last little check on the clipboard, i.e. constant terror. I panic, they win. To coin a phrase, Osama Bin Laden can suck my insouciance.

I am absolutely buffaloed by the people who insist I man up and take it in the teeth for the great Clash of Civilizations — “Come ON, people, this is the EPIC LAST WAR!! You just don’t have the stones to face that fact head-on!” — who at the whiff of an actual terror plot will, with no apparent sense of irony, transform and run around shrieking, eyes rolling and Hello Kitty panties flashing like Japanese schoolgirls who have just realized that the call is coming from inside the house!

Read the rest.  It will restore a shred of the sanity that’s been sapped away by the relentless suck of teh stupid humming along like an assembly line widget for the past 8 years or so.

Pakistan has suffered a costly setback in the My-Taliban-Is-More-Retrograde-Than-Your-Taliban Olympics:

Late on Wednesday, the Supreme Court in Pakistan ordered that the government officially recognize a separate gender for Pakistan’s hijra community, which includes transgendered people, transvestites, and eunuchs. The court told the federal government to begin allowing people to identify as hijras when registering for a national identity card.

Such cards are necessary for everything from voting to more informal situations; patrons must present the card at cybercafes before surfing the Internet, for example. Not having an identity card, or having one with incorrect information, leaves a person vulnerable and easily excluded from society.

In one of those rare instances of an arms race that actually serves the interests of society, it’s possible that Pakistan’s turn to openness was motivated by India’s like measure:

In India, voters are required to identify their sex both on their voter ID cards and at the polls. The insistence that they identify as male or female effectively barred many transgendered and transvestite people from the polls until late this year, when the government declared that for the purposes of voting it would recognize a third option.

The ruling in Pakistan, though, potentially reaches much further.

In addition to the order for government recognition, Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry also issued a warning that the hijras’ rights of inheritance, which are often informally ignored, would be enforced, and that police harassment would not be permitted, a sign, perhaps, of rulings to come.

Our Taliban could totally kick their Taliban’s ass.

Shorter Joe Lieberman:

If we don’t invade Yemen today, then at some point in the future we might have to invade Yemen.  So we better invade now just in case.

That, my friends, is a war monger’s war monger.  One wonders whether the conscience of America will ask the CBO to score the invasion costs.  Actually, one doesn’t wonder that at all.

Now be sure to be good little boys and girls, and Santa will bring you all some shiny new Wingers for 2009.  And if you’re extra special good, I might even be able to talk The Eds into stuffing a Keyboard Kommando in your stocking. 

But I ain’t makin any promises.  Fatherhood has made him as surly as it has lazy. 

Also violent.

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