Welcome to European Tribune. It's gone a bit quiet around here these days, but it's still going.

Chicken Hawks, Carry Home My Seabag, The Heavy One

by BobHiggins Wed Sep 22nd, 2010 at 10:40:42 AM EST

Originally posted at my site Bob Higgins

I read a piece last night by Jason Linkins at Huff Post in which he describes the experience of CNN correspondent Michael Ware and Ware's difficulty in dealing with the memory of the death of a presumably innocent young Iraqi shot execution style by US troops in 2007.

Mr Ware tells of the alleged incident he says he witnessed and filmed in  2007 when working for US news giant CNN, but claims the network decided  the footage was too graphic to go to air.

He alleges that a teenager in a remote Iraqi village run by the militant  Islamist group, al-Qaeda was carrying a weapon to protect himself.

"(The boy) approached the house we were in and the (US) soldiers who  were watching our backs, one of them put a bullet right in the back of  his head. Unfortunately it didn't kill him," he tells Australian Story.

"We all spent the next 20 minutes listening to his tortured breath as he died."

From: Former CNN War Correspondent, Speaks Out On Alleged War Crime CNN Refused To Air



Ware left CNN last spring after being denied extended time off when apparently suffering from PTSD from his experiences. I respected Ware's work as a corespondent and wish him well. I also know that he has an important story to tell when the time is right.

Thousands of our kids, if they come home at all, are returning from Iraq and Afghanistan physically wounded and carrying the enormous weight of the emotional baggage picked up during their experience of war. This is nothing new, we brought back the same cargo from Vietnam, Korea and WW2. All wars provide their participants with a dismal tide of dark memories, the material of a lifetime of tortured nightmares.

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The Mosque: Courage, Truth and the Law

by BobHiggins Tue Aug 17th, 2010 at 11:32:22 AM EST

Originally posted at my site Bob Higgins

The current hoo-hah over President Obama's public statement of the obvious, that Muslims have the same rights as everyone else, to worship, to speak, to petition the government for redress, to get jiggy, and just about whatever, Dude, has had the media, the Republicans and a few chicken shit Democrats obsessing through the weekend and deep into today, with no end in sight.

This is, as usual, being driven by the same gang of Republicans who really don't give a damn about the siting of this Islamic cultural center but do care deeply about sticking a knife in every vulnerable patch of flesh that the President and his party expose to their efforts.

They hope only to drive a wedge between the electorate, at least the fraction of it that cares about this sort of nonsense and the Prez and Democrats in general.

It is also, of course, being fanned by the completely irresponsible news media whose only concerns are notoriety, ratings, advertising dollars and maintaining a shallow pretext of objectivity.

This sort of behavior is a constant with Republicans, creating a large issue out of nothing, finding a mountain where all that exists is a molehill and wasting the public's time picking fly shit out of pepper.

As a personal matter I don't give a damn where mosques, churches, temples or other religious shrines and symbols are built as long as they don't tear down decent saloons in the process.

To me, some things are more sacred than any of this religiosity.

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Sharron Angle: Remaking America on the Pinochet Model

by BobHiggins Sat Aug 14th, 2010 at 12:28:42 PM EST

Originally posted at my site Bob Higgins

Sharron Angle, the Tea Bagger running against Harry Reid for the Senate in Nevada says that we should use Augusto Pinochet's model of privatization as a guide for reforming our social security system.

Yes, Pinochet, the infamous fascist dictator and Nixon/Kissinger ally who engineered the subjugation of Chilean democracy in the 1970s.

Pinochet seized power from the democratically elected government of  Salvador Allende in a bloody, US backed military coup d'état in 1973.

Through torture, terror, murder, with the assistance of the CIA and corporate America his brutal regime held power until 1990.

This may be where Angle discovered her admiration for the "Second Amendment Solution" that she has recommended for removing Harry Reid and other people she deems "socialists."

She wants to privatize Social Security along the Chilean model. This from Oskar Garcia at the Associated Press yesterday:

Republican U.S. Senate candidate says the  nation's Social Security system needs to be privatized, and that it was  done before in the South American country of Chile.

Angle referred  to Chile at the opening of a campaign office in North Las Vegas while  explaining previous statements that the United States should phase out  its Social Security system.

"When I said privatize, that's what I meant," she said Thursday.

"I  thought we would have to go just to the private sector for a template  on how this is supposed to be done," Angle said. "However, I've since  been studying, and Chile has done this."


The Angle campaign quite naturally tried to walk her statements back a few paces but this puff of steam ain't going back in the kettle.

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10 More Years In Iraq, We Must Stay So We Can Leave

by BobHiggins Thu Aug 12th, 2010 at 11:39:54 AM EST


Originally posted at my site Bob Higgins

Before I had a chance to finish my first cup of coffee this morning I was swatted with the news (from Al Jazeera) that Iraq says we "must stay until 2020."

This shocking news came from Lieutenant General Babaker Zerbari and therein lies the crux of the problem. Zerbari is a Lieutenant General and Iraq's most senior military officer.

We send Lieutenant Generals out for coffee and donuts in the morning. We have Bird Colonels sharpening pencils and Major Generals escorting defense lobbyists to strip clubs.

Read more... (3 comments, 334 words in story)

Light Sweet Crude... and Cookies

by BobHiggins Tue Aug 10th, 2010 at 01:46:37 PM EST

Originally posted at my site Bob Higgins

I turned on the news this morning and instantly received my first commercial message of the day. You've probably seen it, it's a pitch from Time Warner which offers up well scrubbed "employees" who spend thirty seconds or so reading a script designed to convince us that they are "Moms," "Dads," and regular working schleps, just like us... pardon that - just like me.

The ad is an attempt to put a face on the faceless, to create the illusion that the giant soulless organization is really warm and fuzzy with a friendly beating heart and smells like fresh baked cookies.

Not to single out Time Warner here, they are no better or worse than the average avaricious media giant or the other corrupt and abusive corporations that rule our lives and will soon take complete control of our public affairs following the infamous "Citizens United" case.

There is a lot of this, I guess it's Astroturf marketing, the attempt to convince the Rubes that "Citizens for Fair Taxes," or "Patriots for Freedom," (two fictional groups that I just made up) were created by, and are composed of, Ma and Pa Kettle "American Gothic" types rather than plutocrats and public relations land sharks with agendas and vested interests completely inimical to the facade created by their homey and benign sounding names, like... "Citizens United."

BP, the oil spill company,is doing a lot of this, actually a mountain of it, spending 50 million bucks and perhaps much more in their attempt to put a local "Bubba" personality and a NOLA accent in front of the public as the face of their "massive cleanup" operation and the fulfillment of their responsibilities as "good corporate citizens." That "cookie" thing again.

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Disappearing Oil and Gulf Seafood: Passing the Sniff Test

by BobHiggins Sun Aug 8th, 2010 at 03:13:02 PM EST

Originally posted at my site Bob Higgins

For the last several days I've watched and read a steady stream of media coverage on the miraculous disappearance of more than a hundred million gallons of oil from the waters of the Gulf of Mexico.

Since the Deepwater Horizon exploded and sank on April 20 killing 11 workers the NOAA estimates that 206 million gallons of "light sweet crude" spewed  

from BP's Macondo well field, fouling the waters of the Gulf,  shutting down much of the commerce of the surrounding region and creating a giant toxic bouillabaisse in which now swim whatever critters managed to survive poisoning, suffocation,  or being roasted alive.

The Feds now say, as reported by the NYT,
that 76% of the mess has either been picked up on the beaches, skimmed from the surface, captured by the containment process or burned off.  (I suppose breathing this stuff in the air as particulates is "perfectly safe.")

At the risk of seeming a "Chicken Little" I'd like to point out that even if the reports of this "great disappearing" are true what is left is something on the order of 50 million gallons of crud in the Gulf or about the same as 5 Exxon Valdez spills.

So, while BP, the Government and our happy-go-lucky news media are fighting for places on the "where did all the oil go" bandwagon I see no cause for celebration.

I completely understand that everyone in the area wants to look out their windows and see people thronging to the beaches and fighting for restaurant
reservations.

They naturally "want their lives back," and deservedly so, but because I have long experience (due to my status as a "geezer") listening to lies from government, lies from business and lies from the media, I'm not buying it just yet.

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Rats! "il Vinaio" No Longer Serves Lion Burgers

by BobHiggins Tue Jun 29th, 2010 at 11:31:48 AM EST

Originally posted at my site Bob Higgins

I read a brief story yesterday from the AP about a restaurant in Phoenix, Mesa actually, .. that's in Arizona ... an upscale Mediterranean eatery, that in celebration of, or as a tribute to the Wold Cup of Football ... that's soccer... began serving Lion Burgers on their Mediterranean menu.

You read it right ... Lion Burgers, the friggin' "King of Beasts" on a friggin' bun.

Cameron Selogie, the owner of "il Vinaio" (that means "The Wine Seller," I had to look it up) reported that he couldn't fry these babies up fast enough and had a waiting list of 100 eager customers licking their chops in anticipation of a taste of Leo.

Like many others around the globe who were aghast at loin of lion for lunch I expressed my outrage in an email and last night I received the following reply:

We do not serve lion at il Vinaio any longer.
Thank you for your  time. We do respect your opinion and apologize for offending you.

Read more... (6 comments, 489 words in story)

A Sickening in the Gulf Stream

by BobHiggins Mon Jun 28th, 2010 at 07:42:03 AM EST

[Editor's note: This began as a comment this morning to "Oil spill: The nightmare becomes reality" a Carl Hiaasen piece on the arrival of BP's poisonous gusher of crud on the shores of Pensacola.]

Originally posted at my site Bob Higgins

Carl,

You're right; it is difficult for people living far from our coasts to feel the horrible weight of this disaster.

I live in Ohio but have lived on the coasts of California and North Carolina. I have also lived through and helped clean up an oil spill near San Francisco in 1970 or thereabouts. I have friends and family though who have never seen or at least never lived near the sea and had it become, as seems inevitable to me, a part of them.

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The Oil Game They're Playing In Our Oceans Ain't "Beanbag"

by BobHiggins Tue Jun 22nd, 2010 at 01:31:51 PM EST

Originally posted at my site Bob Higgins

Oil giant Chevron, in the wake of one of the world's worst environmental disasters in the Gulf of Mexico is dragging its corporate feet over Canadian requests for increased safety procedures at a deep water well off the coast of Newfoundland. The company's Lona O-55 exploratory well is about 258 miles northeast of St. John's, in the Orphan Basin.

BP's out of control gusher in the gulf is just over 5000 feet deep while the Chevron well off the Canadian coast is 8,530 feet beneath the surface.

Read more... (11 comments, 775 words in story)

A Gusher of Light Sweet Terror

by BobHiggins Mon Jun 14th, 2010 at 04:18:04 PM EST

Originally posted at my site Bob Higgins

"We need to be realistic about operating in a mile of water"

Tony Hayward, the cherubic little weasel who serves as the front man for British Petroleum, BP, Beyond Pathetic or whatever they are calling their 'brand' this week, made the statement above, on camera to reporters while standing on an oil fouled Louisiana beach a couple of weeks ago.



Earlier that day I had a fairly heated argument with an elderly acquaintance who recently became enraptured by the 'Teabaggers.' This giddy political infatuation has had the gruesome effect of making him more of a pain in the ass than he was previously.  At one point in the 'discussion' he asked me why BP was drilling at 5000 feet below the surface and I told him that most of the 'easy oil' has been used up and drilling is increasingly taking place in ever riskier and more technologically challenging sites.

His angry retort was 'Bullshit, the tree huggers won't let them drill in shallow water.'

I tried to point out that there are nearly 4000 active oil platforms in the Gulf at depths ranging from a few feet to more than two miles but it was like talking to a wall... or a Teabagger; I gave up and drank my beer.

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The Next Greatest Threat

by BobHiggins Sat Feb 14th, 2009 at 05:39:52 PM EST

Photo by Belize.com

Over the last several years as more people, organizations and governments began to take the prospect of global warming and human influenced climate change more seriously there has arisen a kind of 60 cycle background hum over the potential dangers of social unrest, disease, famine and mass movements of populations resulting from such change.

A few days ago while randomly browsing on the web I read an article at the Kansas City Star that sent a quick chill through my bloodstream: "Intelligence director: Worldwide economic crisis top U.S. security threat.

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War on Terror? Torture? Prosecute Us?

by BobHiggins Tue Jan 27th, 2009 at 02:22:33 PM EST

There is an ongoing debate over the closing of America's most notorious detainment/torture center at Guantanamo and the legality and efficacy of using torture to extract "information" from detainees in that and other facilities.

In a piece in this morning's Washington Post titled Torture? Prosecute Us, Too Richard Cohen leads with this:

"The past is a foreign country; they do things differently there." So goes an aphorism that needs to be applied to the current debate over whether those who authorized and used torture should be prosecuted. In the very different country called Sept. 11, 2001, the answer would be a resounding no.

Contrary to what has become the accepted noise, "the world" did not "change" on 9/11. Our laws, our treaties and international agreements as well as our values remained. We did not become a "very different country" on September 12, 2001 despite Mr. Cohen's (and others) claim.

In many ways it is our body of law that binds the past, present and future. The rule of law gives constancy to our "values." Laws may change but the process of change is, and should be reasoned and deliberate, not an impassioned reaction to the events of the day. That kind of reaction to the passions of the moment is the path of the lynch mob.

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"Bipartisanship" is not the Holy Grail

by BobHiggins Sun Jan 25th, 2009 at 02:30:37 PM EST

Harry Truman in a "bipartisan" moment with Lauren Bacall, a staunch liberal Democrat. This is about as "bipartisan as Harry got."

Last week was exhilarating for Democrats and, judging by the international media, for people all over the planet who have suffered for nearly a decade from the misguided and often criminal policies of George Bush and his terribly inept administration.

The swearing in of Barack Obama and the departure of the Connecticut Cowboy from our public affairs was something long anticipated, and, after our long dark winter, as welcome as the return of springtime and birdsong, at least in these quarters.

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Whites Only? No More, America is Finally Ready

by BobHiggins Mon Jan 19th, 2009 at 06:16:35 PM EST

Fifty years ago today I was halfway through my sophomore year at WE Stebbins High, an almost completely segregated school in the almost completely segregated city of Dayton, Ohio, a town said at the time to be a southern city that happened to be north of the Mason Dixon line.

The school was "almost completely" segregated because it was located within a good Hail Mary pass of Wright Patterson AFB. I don't remember exactly the reasons but we were told that because the school received federal funds for students who were military dependents that it had to be integrated.

"Integration" was accomplished by the admission of two young Black kids, The boy was named Sam. I remember because we became friends for awhile until the transparent racist displeasure of my little Quaker Grandmother became thick enough to keep him from dropping by. She wasn't ready for a black president.

The girl's name is beyond my atrophied powers of recall. I can see their faces though; both were exceptionally attractive, beautiful in fact, bright, "A" students (National Honor Society), and the son and daughter of Air Force Officers. They weren't related, although they might have passed for brother and sister (to my eyes) and they knew each other from the Air Base (the Air Force at the time wasn't a lot more integrated than my high school).

Their presence among the lower and middle class adolescent white children of factory workers, shopkeepers and lower level bean counting managerial types caused no great stir. There were no serious problems (to my eyes) other than an occasional racist taunt, or snub. Civility towards them was rigorously enforced. The powers that be paddled freely and often back then and the sting of that paddle and its humiliation was seldom sought.

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Pyrrhic Torture Trials? No, A Necessary Public Laundering

by BobHiggins Wed Dec 31st, 2008 at 05:30:27 PM EST

In an opinion piece in today's Washington Post Ruth Marcus poses the question:

"Should Bush administration officials be put on trial for crimes such as authorizing torture?"
The answer to that question is a simple and unequivocal "not yes, but, Hell yes, absolutely, yer darn tootin'."

Bear in mind that I live in a flyover state where many have limited tolerance for carefully parsed, nuanced or constipated prose, preferring instead to "throw it out on the lawn and see if any dogs come up and pee on it."

Ms Marcus says, less pithily and with a bit more ambiguity, that she is:

"just relieved to have this crowd heading out of office and its policies -- on torture, on indefinite detention, on warrantless wiretapping, on overweening executive power -- soon to be inoperative."

I share her delight in the departure of this gang of criminals but I fear that if they do not leave Washington in handcuffs and leg irons aboard a Federal prison bus that the chances of rendering the "policies" stated above "inoperative" are approximately ... zero.

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Santa Claus- Coming to a Boardroom Near Yo

by BobHiggins Sun Nov 9th, 2008 at 01:35:46 PM EST


For the last month I've we have listened to an unending series of conservative chowder heads prattle and moan about redistribution of wealth, socialism, Marxism, and the destruction of society by giving government subsidized tuna fish sandwiches to the poor.

When they weren't whining about Obama being some kind of closet Islamofacist commie they were pontificating about the sanctity of free markets, the evils of big government, the purity of privatization, the miracles of laissez faire capitalism and the horrors of such social tools as unemployment insurance, public welfare programs, food stamps and the minimum wage.

One sight that warms the heart of the average conservative is a long employment line. The vision of hundreds, thousands of job seekers vying for bone crushing, mind numbing labor at spirit crushing wages is a romantic one, the favored fresco on the temple walls of Republicanism.

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Bush Defended from Malodorous Tribute in WSJ

by BobHiggins Wed Nov 5th, 2008 at 12:56:06 PM EST

Photo: Some presidents get high schools named after them, others get highways and bridges. What does George W. Bush get? A sewage plant! Through a brilliant plan hatched in a bar, SF voters may be able to name the Oceanside Water Pollution Plant after our current president, George W., in November. dnguyen

In one of the more asinine posts I have read lately the Wall Street Journal today ran an opinion piece titled "The Treatment of Bush Has Been a Disgrace ," which I recommend to anyone needing a real howler to start the day after the stress and tension of a long and rancorous election season.

Jeffrey Scott Shapiro begins the piece by castigating San Franciscans for naming a  sewage treatment plant after Bush which which calls "one example of the classless disrespect many Americans have shown the president."

I see a more delicious, if malodorous, whimsical irony in the "tribute" than disrespect or cruelty. But that's just me.

He decries Bush's record low approval ratings as if surprised that the public, the world and his own party would run screaming in revulsion from an arrogant and incompetent sociopath who has personally done so much to bring about the death, destruction displacement and impoverishment of so many.

Shapiro's plaintive cry, "What must our enemies be thinking?,"  has an easy answer from this point of view, his enemies appreciate him somewhat less than his "friends."

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Make My Grandparents Proud, Vote for the D's

by BobHiggins Sun Nov 2nd, 2008 at 12:11:40 PM EST

I voted Friday in Ohio and although at times in my life I have cast an occasional vote for a local Republican candidate, this time I reverted to my roots and voted like an old fashioned straight ticket Democrat. My Grandfathers would both be proud.

It felt good. No, it felt great as if I were striking a blow for freedom.

After eight years of thoroughly corrupt and incompetent government, the unrelieved horror of several nightmarish wars, the near destruction of American constitutional liberties, the

pillage and plunder of our public treasury by wealth bloated plutocrats and oiligarchs, and the almost total loss of our international reputation I just felt safer somehow checking off the "D's."

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Can All These Joes Be Wrong?

by BobHiggins Thu Oct 16th, 2008 at 05:50:15 PM EST

Note: The cartoon is the logo of the real Joe the Plumber in Amarillo. Send him some business, I'm told that he's an Obama guy. If his website takes off because of all this attention maybe he can switch from actual plumbing to an online plumbing advice column. Bob

The month began with Sarah Palin celebrating her campaign's close identification and long association with "Joe Six Pack," the mythic every man vision of America that he and they dream that they represent.

Then in last night's "debate" came "Joe the Plumber," a guy who claims that he wants to buy a business which "makes" 250k a year and he's worried about Obama's tax policies. Who's next, Joe Bananas, Joe Cool, Joe Mama?

Forgetting for the moment that I have strong suspicions that "Joe the Plumber" is a ringer. Yes, nefarious as it sounds I'm afraid that Joe may be, a not too carefully selected, and poorly rehearsed plant from the McCain camp. He was probably chosen by the same group of desperately drunken political geniuses who trotted out Sarah Palin.

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An Endorsement, a Condemnation and an Election Reflection

by BobHiggins Sat Oct 11th, 2008 at 07:36:53 PM EST

During the 1968 election, one of the keystones of Dick Nixon's campaign was his "plan to end the war in Vietnam." Of course he had no real plan, or, if he did it was a poor one, evidenced by the fact that the war dragged on for seven brutal years after that sad election season.

It has been said in some quarters that the "plan" Nixon alluded to, but never spelled out, was a nutty scheme (nutty schemes seem to abound in the halls of power) to have Kissinger convince the Russians that Tricky Dick was just batshit crazy enough to use nuclear weapons if the North Vietnamese would not come to the table and end the war on his terms.

History has shown that Nixon was nuts enough. So was and is, Henry the K, but the Vietnamese, after fighting a collection of Yankees, French, Japanese and Chinese among others, for uncountable hundreds of years weren't impressed with new and improved threats, from new and unimproved enemies.

They had been hardened over the centuries to leave early for work knowing that they might have to bury their dead or rebuild a bridge or two on the way. They would not be cowed by threats of death and destruction; death and destruction was all around them, forever.

Read more... (4 comments, 1816 words in story)
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