From the Washington Post (via Steve Gilliard):
Puppy Love, at a Price: Affluent Owners Find More Ways to Pamper Their Pets
Excerpt: "Last year, pet owners across the country spent...$34.4 billion caring for their pets, more than double the $17 billion a year spent a decade earlier, according to American Pet Product Manufacturing Association Inc., a Greenwich, Conn.-based trade association. Much of that cash went for routine veterinary visits and over-the-counter food, but more owners are paying for toys, gourmet biscuits and a nice haircut, as well. Cats outnumber dogs, but more of the money is going to the dogs."
I love dogs. Dogs are wonderful creatures: intelligent, empathetic, capable of genuine friendship up to a point. (Some dogs, anyway; not those nasty tiny little yappy ones.) I take a backseat to no one in my regard for dogs.
Hey, look over there! Terrorists in London! Meanwhile, back at the ranch....
Eleven Iraqi Oil Fields Go Up to Go Up for Tender
"Eleven oil fields in southern Iraq, capable of boosting the country's production to three million barrels a day will soon be tendered to international investors, the Iraqi oil ministry announced Friday...."
This is the real game, this is what it's all about, this is why Bush and Blair diverted all those resources away from tracking down real terrorists into their terrorist-manufacturing war of aggression -- this is why those dozens of people were blown to bits in London on Thursday.
Hard truths from the Guardian:
Blair Put Us in the Firing Line: The war on Iraq made the London attack inevitable
Excerpt: "The fury generated by Tony Blair's decision to coat-tail George Bush into what only the blind still call a justified war has put us all in the firing line. When Blair led us into the war on terror, he knew that a country with which Islamist networks had no immediate axe to grind would be drawn into their sphere of hate as a consequence.
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"When the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit takes up the question of the rights of foreign nationals being held at Guantánamo Bay, two of the three judges who decide the case will be just-confirmed nominees of George W. Bush.
Wise man Chalmers Johnson is on the case -- the forgotten case -- of the dagger Bush has driven into the very heart of the common heritage of human civilization: "These events were, according to Paul Zimansky, a Boston University archaeologist, 'the greatest cultural disaster of the last 500 years.' Eleanor Robson of All Souls College, Oxford, said, 'You'd have to go back centuries, to the Mongol invasion of Baghdad in 1258, to find looting on this scale.'"
(From TomDispatch, via The Smirking Chimp.)
From The Washington Post:
"CONGRESS HAS a novel response to the rash of prisoners over the past few years who have been exonerated of capital crimes after being tried and convicted: Keep similar cases out of court. Both chambers of the national legislature are quietly moving a particularly ugly piece of legislation designed to gut the legal means by which prisoners prove their innocence....
Bob Herbert, who has been incandescent for months now, usefully reminds us of the comedy routine that Bush performed for a sycophantic audience of TV and radio "journalists" back in March 2004: the infamous "hunt for WMD" in the Oval Office. As you'll recall, this was a series of cutesy shots showing Bush peering behind the office curtains, looking under the rug while cracking wise: "No weapons of mass destruction under here! Maybe they're over here?" and so on.
I thought then – and still think – that this performance was one of the most revealing – and sickening – episodes in American political history. The cynicism of it defies belief, outstrips all comprehension. Imagine sending men and women to die – and to kill – in a war over weapons of mass destruction, then joking about the fact that no weapons were ever found. All this, while thousands continued to die, including your own soldiers.
The fact that Bush would engage so openly in such murderous cynicism was a telling revelation: it showed, or rather confirmed, that America was being led by a brutal, mocking, heedless Caligula, a spoiled, shallow, vain and selfish fool, a moral psychopath incapable of ordinary human empathy. The reaction of the "journalists" present was another soul-sinking revelation: they laughed. Oh, how they laughed. "What a kidder this Dubya is, eh? What important insiders we all are – real players, tough and savvy – sharing this special moment of "knowing" laughter with the president!" As far as I know, not a single person walked out in protest, not a single "journalist" refused to take part in this open mockery of the dead – our own, and the tens of thousands of Iraqis who had died for the WMD chimera that Bush now found so funny.
Chris Floyd is an award-winning American journalist, and author of the book, Empire Burlesque: High Crimes and Low Comedy in the Bush Regime. For more than 11 years he wrote the featured political column, Global Eye, for The Moscow Times and the St. Petersburg Times in Russia. He also served as UK correspondent for Truthout.org, and was an editorial writer for three years for The Bergen Record. His work appears regularly CounterPunch, The Baltimore Chronicle and in translation in the Italian paper, Il Manifesto, and has also been published in such venues as The Nation, the Christian Science Monitor, Columbia Journalism Review, The Ecologist and many others. His articles are also featured regularly on such websites as Information Clearing House, Buzzflash, Bushwatch, LewRockwell.com, Antiwar.com, and many others. His work has been cited in The New York Times, USA Today, the Guardian, the Independent and other major newspapers.
Floyd co-founded the blog Empire Burlesque with webmaster Richard Kastelein, who created the site using open-source software. Floyd is also chief editor of Atlantic Free Press, which was founded and designed by Kastelein.
Floyd spent several years in the depths of the military-industrial complex, working for a security-restricted federal research laboratory on projects dealing with energy conservation, global warming, space travel, transportation, robotics, artificial intelligence and military logistics. On the side, he published fiction and poetry in small journals and taught Russian literature at the University of Tennessee. Later, he annotated Shakespeare, 19th century British poetry and American literature for a start-up company producing multi-media CD editions of literary works for colleges and schools.
In 1994, he made his way to Russia, where he joined the Moscow Times, an English-language daily and one of the first independent newspapers of the post-Soviet period. There he spent two years – the high casino of the tumultuous Yeltsin era – and began writing the "Global Eye" column, which he continued after returning to the United States in 1996. He was also the Times' movie reviewer from 1996 to 2000.
From 1998 to 2000, Floyd was the editor of Science & Spirit, an Oxford quarterly journal dealing with the contentious relationship between science and religion. His work there included interviews with such thinkers as Richard Dawkins, Daniel Dennett, Steven Pinker, Frans de Waal, V.S. Ramachandran and others. He also worked with contributors from around the world – Islamic scientists, Jewish theologians, militant atheists, Nobel Prize-winning physicists, and authors such as Freeman Dyson, Paul Davies, Lisa Jardine, A.N. Wilson, John Polkinghorne and others. Since 2000, Floyd has worked as a freelance journalist and as a writer and researcher for Oxford University.
His story, "Into the Dark: The Pentagon Plan to Foment Terrorism," was chosen as one of Project Censored's "Top 25 Stories of 2002/2003." His pieces have been anthologized in various political collections in the United States.
In 2005, Floyd recorded a CD of his songs, Wheel of Heaven, with producer/musician Nick Kulukundis.
I was in London's Heathrow Airport this morning when the bombs went off in the city, many miles away. Unlike America's CNN-saturated airports, Heathrow has no ubiquitous media presence looming inescapably at every turn. The first inkling we had of the slow-rolling attack was the announcement that the underground service from the airport to the city had been suspended "due to a power failure." Then came snatches of overheard conversations of people on their cell phones: "bus blown apart," "bombs in the tube," "I told them to shut all our pubs and get the hell out of there." No way of finding out more. For once, I longed to see one of those toothsome talking heads blaring out the news to a captive audience.
Soon we were in the car, still under media blackout with a broken radio, driving north on the London Orbital, the great bleak wheel of concrete that encircles the vast metropolis. A line of blaring ambulances passed us on the southern side, heading into the city center. It was almost noon before we were finally able to find out what had happened - or rather, find out the first, still-confused inklings of what had happened. An unknown number of dead; many injured, perhaps hundreds; several tube stations hit, one bus blown up; a coordinated series of attacks, taking place during the course of an hour, and clearly aimed at crippling London's transporation system - which it did, most effectively. There was the usual claim of responsibility by a hitherto-unknown group claiming connection to al Qaeda, although the police were showing an abundance of caution about naming any possible suspects.