Thought for the day: Trump's redeeming value
7 hours ago
'And so they've killed our Ferdinand,' said the charwoman to Mr Švejk, who had left military service years before after having been finally certified by an army medical board as an imbecile, and now lived by selling dogs -- ugly, mongrel monstrosities whose pedigrees he forged.heres how zenny k. sadlon translates em:
Apart from this occupation he suffered from rheumatism and was at this very moment rubbing his knees with Elliman's embrocation.
'Which Ferdinand, Mrs. Müller?' he asked, going on with the massaging. 'I know two Ferdinands. One is a messenger at Prusa's, the chemist's, and once by mistake he drank a bottle of hair oil there. And the other is Ferdinand Kokoska, who collects dog manure. Neither of them is any loss.'
"So they've done it to us," said the cleaning woman to Mr. Švejk. "They've killed our Ferdinand."one of em reads lack the translator wuz lookin backwurds at the 19th centry style of ritin, tuther lookin fords at the langwage n style of the modurn novel, witch Švejk is one of the furst of them modurn ones (ifn taint the verr furst). i couldnt hardly stop readin the new one, witch i wonted to saver it a bit, but nex thang i knew, i wuz dun n hopin fer zenny k. sadlon to cum out with the nex book in the series.
Švejk had been discharged from the military service years ago when a military medical commission had pronounced him to be officially an imbecile. Now, he was making his living by selling dogs, ugly mongrel mutants that he sold as purebreds by forging their pedigrees. In addition to this demeaning vocation, Švejk also suffered from rheumatism and was just now rubbing his aching knees with camphor ice.
"Which Ferdinand, Mrs. Müller?" he asked. "I know two Ferdinands. One is the pharmacist Prusa's delivery boy, who drank up a whole bottle of hair potion once by mistake. And then, I know one Ferdinand Kokoska, who collects dog turds. Neither one of them would be much of a loss."
a nuther risin sun.as ye kin planely see tiz sundy ...
Conservative Shias, dominant in the Iraqi government, had clashed with Kurds and other minorities who wanted Islam to be "a" rather than "the" main source of law.corse, not everbidy is happy bout the amurkin role, witch this articull name of Kurds Fault U.S. on Iraqi Charter; Ambassador, in Rush, Pushed Big Role for Islam, They Say splains bout that:
According to Kurdish and Sunni negotiators, the US ambassador, Zalmay Khalilzad, proposed that Islam be named "a primary source" and supported a wording which would give clerics authority in civil matters such as divorce, marriage and inheritance.
If approved, critics say that the proposals would erode women's rights and other freedoms enshrined under existing laws. "We understand the Americans have sided with the Shias. It's shocking. It doesn't fit with American values," an unnamed Kurdish negotiator told Reuters. "They have spent so much blood and money here, only to back the creation of an Islamist state."
Dozens of women gathered in central Baghdad yesterday to protest against what the organiser, Yanar Mohammad, feared would be a "fascist, nationalist and Islamist" constitution. "We are fighting to avoid becoming second class citizens," she said.
BAGHDAD, Aug. 20 -- Kurdish politicians negotiating a draft constitution criticized the U.S. ambassador to Iraq on Saturday for allegedly pushing them to accept too great a role for Islamic law in his drive to complete the charter on time.seems lack iran is winnin the iraqi war!
Although a Sunni delegate made similar charges, U.S. officials declined to comment publicly while they worked with politicians as a Monday deadline loomed.
U.S. Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad spent Saturday shuttling among Iraqi political leaders, members of Iraq's constitutional committee said. Distribution of oil revenue dominated the talks, but no agreement was reached, delegates said. Shiite Arab, Kurdish and Sunni Muslim factions differ on how much revenue should be controlled by the government and how it should be divided.
The question of Islamic law drew strong public protests from Kurds.
The working draft of the constitution stipulates that no law can contradict Islamic principles. In talks with Shiite religious parties, Kurdish negotiators said they have pressed unsuccessfully to limit the definition of Islamic law to principles agreed upon by all groups. The Kurds said current language in the draft would subject Iraqis to extreme interpretations of Islamic law.
Kurds also contend that provisions in the draft would allow Islamic clerics to serve on the high court, which would interpret the constitution. That would potentially subject marriage, divorce, inheritance and other civil matters to religious law and could harm women's rights, according to the Kurdish negotiators and some women's groups.
Khalilzad supported those provisions and urged other groups to accept them, according to Kurds involved in the talks.
The executions are carried out at dawn on Haqlania bridge, the entrance to Haditha. A small crowd usually turns up to watch even though the killings are filmed and made available on DVD in the market the same afternoon.ifn ye lack to thank thangs is so much bettern in iraq now, ye orta not read that articull. but ifn ye kin stumach thatn, ye kin probly git thru the one name of Killers in the Neighborhood:
One of last week's victims was a young man in a black tracksuit. Like the others he was left on his belly by the blue iron railings at the bridge's southern end. His severed head rested on his back, facing Baghdad. Children cheered when they heard that the next day's spectacle would be a double bill: two decapitations. A man named Watban and his brother had been found guilty of spying.
With so many alleged American agents dying here Haqlania bridge was renamed Agents' bridge. Then a local wag dubbed it Agents' fridge, evoking a mortuary, and that name has stuck.
A three-day visit by a reporter working for the Guardian last week established what neither the Iraqi government nor the US military has admitted: Haditha, a farming town of 90,000 people by the Euphrates river, is an insurgent citadel.
There was a time when Mohammad al-Obaidi didn't worry much about safety. As a barber in Baghdad's gritty working-class Washash neighborhood, al-Obaidi would spend his days styling hair--for Sunnis, Shi'ites, Christians, whoever showed up at his World of Haircuts barbershop. Evenings, he would slip off to play soccer with friends. These days, however, as Iraq plunges deeper into civil unrest, al-Obaidi, 27, a stout, personable man who sports a buzz cut, spends much of his time calculating how to stay alive, wondering whether the anonymous killers who now stalk the streets of Washash will come after him, perhaps at his shop or on the long road home.ye mite could wunder how to git more folk to join the army to go over n hep out, witch bob herbert deescribes how tiz dun in a articull name of Truth in Recruiting:
Al-Obaidi was snipping away at a customer's hair last month when a text message beeped on his cell phone. CHANGE YOUR PROFESSION, it read, OR ELSE YOU'LL LOSE YOUR HEAD. At first, he thought it was a joke. He immediately called back the number, expecting that he would reach a friend. After all, al-Obaidi is a barber, not a cop or a U.S. hireling, and he wasn't aware that he had any enemies. But in the climate of fanaticism that now prevails in Baghdad, barbers are being singled out by Sunni extremists who say that cutting a man's beard violates Islam. "Do what we say," a stranger on the line told him, "or we'll kill you."
A murder spree has erupted in Washash, as in countless neighborhoods across Baghdad. Death squads, which tend to move in Opel sedans, are entering what once were tight-knit communities and killing ordinary citizens, apparently to stir up sectarian hatred. The goal: to incite a civil war that each side hopes will give its sect dominance over the other. In Baghdad, a city of more than 5 million, there were at least 880 violent deaths last month, according to Faiq Amin Bakr, director of the Baghdad central morgue. (In New York City, with a population of more than 8 million, the total number of homicides for all of 2004 was 571.) And the figure for Baghdad excludes those killed by car bombings and suicide attacks, which, if included, would add nearly 100 to the total. Most of the victims were felled by gunshots. Some were beheaded. Few of the murderers have been captured. "Nobody knows who is doing this killing," says Bakr. "It seems they're trying to destroy our society."
Most Americans will tell you that they believe in honest, truthful, straightforward, ethical behavior.sounds so good, ye mite could thank sum of them that supports the war wood be joinin up!
So here's a question: Should people who are being recruited into the armed forces be told the truth about the risks they are likely to face if they agree to sign up and put on a uniform?
Right now, that is not happening. Recruiters desperate for warm bodies to be shipped to Iraq are prowling selected high schools and neighborhoods across the country with sales pitches that touch on everything but the possibility of being maimed or killed in combat.
The recruiters themselves are under enormous pressure from higher-ups who are watching crucial components of the all-volunteer military buckle under the strain of a war that was supposed to have been won in a jiffy, but instead just goes on and on.
So the teenagers who are the prime targets for recruitment are being told just about anything to ward off whatever misgivings they may have. Need money for college? No problem. You want to go to a nice place? Certainly. Maybe even Hawaii.
A young man who recently registered, as required, with the Selective Service System received an upbeat brochure in the mail touting the military's 30 days of annual "paid vacation," its free medical and dental care, its "competitive retirement" benefits and its "home loan program."
Teleological arguments are arguments from the order in the universe to the existence of God. They are also known as arguments from design (or, to be precise, arguments to design).problem is, nobidy has cum up with a way of disproovin this competin hypothesis: in a infinite universe (witch is whut we are in, far as we kin tell) over a infinite amount of time (witch we aint gut no way to disproov this neethur) a'wurkin accordin to the rules of the universe that folks kin discover n deescribe in thar hypotheses, inny result could occur eventually, even human life on earth. in other wurds, ye caint proov that human life on earth is innythang more than dumb luck in a gigantick infinite universe. aint no way to set up no eggspearment to proov otherwise.
The name “the teleological argument” is derived from the Greek word telos, meaning end or purpose. When such arguments speak of the universe being ordered, they mean that it is ordered towards some end or purpose. The suggestion is that it is more plausible to suppose that the universe is so because it was created by an intelligent being in order to accomplish that purpose than it is to suppose that it is this way by chance.
This here's the story bout our baby sister
Smiled so sweetly cause the angels kissed her
Smooth baby skin, huge gray eyes
But everone agreed her silky curls took the prize
When they cut em off down at the beauty salon
Almost seemd as if Baby Sister was goneWhee HooeyWhen baby sister was four years old
We got up one day and found her bed, empty and cold
We searched the house and year a'callin out her name
Baby Sister, come out, quit playin this game
Found her in the woods a'sleepin all alone
It was an awful fear when Baby Sister was goneWhee HooeyShe got in trouble in her high school years
We wondered whose it was but that just brought on tears
So we borrowed fifty dollars and to Knoxville we went
Had the operation before she could repent
Nobody ever knew why we wuz gone so long
Cause we couldn't tell where Baby Sister was goneWhee HooeyShe met a sailor when she was twenty-four
They got married in that church down by the dry goods store
He worked with his hands, drove a beat up Lincoln
Got kindly wild whenever he'd been drinkin
Beat her black and blue and never knew he was wrong
Till it finally come a day when Baby Sister was goneWhee HooeyThis here's the story of our baby sister
She got up one night and took
Her old man's pistol
Went donw into the woods in her nightgown and boots
Fixed a place among the leaves and the roots
Nice cigarettes in that dark before dawn
But when the sun come up Baby Sister was goneWhee HooeyOh how her old man carried on the next day
Ambulance come and took him away
Mama bathed her face in tears of shame
A'tellin everbody how she was to blame
And Daddy kept recitin that twenty-first Psalm
As if it could tell us why Baby Sister was goneWhee HooeyPreacher give a sermon all about God's love
Said we'd see Baby Sister by and by up above
So we drove out to the graveyard in our suits in the heat
Brother spoke a prayer that made all the women weep
When they started singin that old circle song
We all joined in cause Baby Sister was goneWhee Hooey
The nation is at war. It faces large expenses for homeland security. It is about to go through a demographic transition that will strain important entitlement programs. How can this president -- an allegedly conservative president -- believe that the federal government should spend money on the Red River National Wildlife Refuge Visitor Center in Louisiana? Or on the Henry Ford Museum in Michigan? The bill Mr. Bush has signed devotes more than $24 billion to such earmarked projects, continuing a trend in which the use of earmarks has spread steadily each year. Remember, Republicans control the Senate and the House as well as the White House. So somebody remind us: Which is the party of big government?but that aint quite yer story.
:"The regulations fail in their obligation to ensure collective bargaining rights to DHS employees," the judge said.but that aint yer story, so mayhap ye thank tiz how lives is bein ruint over thar in iraq, witch bob herbert writ bout that this mornin in a articull name of Lives Blown Apart:
She said federal unions would be bargaining "on quicksand, as the department would retain the right to change the underlying bases for the bargaining relationship and absolve itself of contract obligations while the unions would be bound."
Collyer said a system that allows "the unilateral repudiation of agreements by one party" is not collective bargaining. "A contract that is not mutually binding is not a contract," she wrote.
In most federal agencies, including Homeland Security, current law prohibits unions from bargaining over pay and work stoppages. The law permits agencies to ignore contract obligations during emergencies.
The judge also faulted the department for seeking to diminish rights by federal employees to appeal firings and demotions to an independent agency, the Merit Systems Protection Board.
The department, Collyer said, has sought to "effectively insulate" itself from MSPB's review of adverse personnel actions. "Rather than afford a right of appeal that is impartial or disinterested, the regulations put the thumbs of the agencies down hard on the scales of justice in their favor," she wrote.
Ms. Olson, during an interview in Washington, D.C., where Corporal Rosendahl is being treated at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center, quietly cataloged her son's wounds:tiz innerestin to read such stuff since ye mosly dont find it nowhar, but still, that aint yer story.
"Both of his heels and ankles were crushed. He had a compound fracture of his femur in two places. Three-quarters of his kneecap was missing. His thigh was blown away. He had many, many open wounds, which all have closed except four right now."
She paused, sighed, then went on: "His left leg was amputated three weeks after he arrived here. He's not willing to give up his right leg. He's hoping to save it. All he wants to do is golf again. But we don't know. He's had 36 surgeries so far."
When you talk to close relatives of men and women who have been wounded in the war, it's impossible not to notice the strain that is always evident in their faces. Their immediate concern is with the wounded soldier or marine. But just behind that immediate concern, in most cases, is the frightening awareness that they have to try and rebuild a way of life that was also blown apart when their loved one was wounded.
Ms. Olson, who is 45 and divorced, gave up everything - her work, her rented townhouse, her car - and moved from Tacoma to a hotel on the grounds of Walter Reed to be with her son and assist in his recovery.
Reporter readers have followed the evolution this past year of Vacaville resident Cindy Sheehan from grieving mother to outspoken anti-war protester who today is camped out near the president's ranch in Crawford, Texas, demanding his resignation.but that still aint it. catchin wingnuts in lies aint no big trick.
It is not the same Sheehan family we met in April, still stunned after learning that 24-year-old Army Spc. Casey Sheehan had died in an ambush.
The Sheehans - with 16 other families - met President Bush at Fort Lewis, Wash., where he extended condolences and appreciation for their sacrifice.
At the time, the Sheehans debated whether to be brutally honest with the president. They had serious concerns about the war. But in the end, they told our reporter, they decided to be respectful. President Bush even kissed Cindy Sheehan on the cheek.
"We had decided not to criticize the president then because during that meeting he assured us 'this is not political.' And I believed him," Sheehan wrote. "Then, during the Republican National Convention, he exploited those meetings to justify what he was doing."
In ensuing months, she has grown more focused, more determined, more aggressive. She co-founded Gold Star Families For Peace in December 2004, a group which has written numerous letters, articles and posted online reports. She has participated in protests around the country. She and her daughter, Carly, have appeared in anti-war TV messages. And now she's camping out near the president's ranch.
We invite readers to revisit the story - in context - on our Web site and decide for themselves. Stay tuned as it continues to evolve.
Boylan said the suspected lab was new, dating from some time after the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in 2003. The Bush administration cited evidence that Saddam Hussein's government was manufacturing weapons of mass destruction as the main justification for the invasion. No such weapons or factories were found.well, if that aint it, how bout this articull in the washington post frum sundy name of U.S. Lowers Sights On What Can Be Achieved in Iraq; Administration Is Shedding 'Unreality' That Dominated Invasion, Official Says. that miss leadin hedline mite make ye thank sumbidy in the addministrayshun had dun add mitted makin a miss take, but that aint it:
The Bush administration is significantly lowering expectations of what can be achieved in Iraq, recognizing that the United States will have to settle for far less progress than originally envisioned during the transition due to end in four months, according to U.S. officials in Washington and Baghdad.as ye jes red, mr bush kindly eggsplained how thangs is still on track.
The United States no longer expects to see a model new democracy, a self-supporting oil industry or a society in which the majority of people are free from serious security or economic challenges, U.S. officials say.
"What we expected to achieve was never realistic given the timetable or what unfolded on the ground," said a senior official involved in policy since the 2003 invasion. "We are in a process of absorbing the factors of the situation we're in and shedding the unreality that dominated at the beginning."
Administration officials still emphasize how much they have achieved despite the chaos that followed the invasion and the escalating insurgency. "Iraqis are taking control of their country, building a free nation that can govern itself, sustain itself and defend itself. And we're helping Iraqis succeed," President Bush said yesterday in his radio address.
Iraqi officials yesterday struggled to agree on a draft constitution by a deadline of tomorrow so the document can be submitted to a vote in October. The political transition would be completed in December by elections for a permanent government.
But the realities of daily life are a constant reminder of how the initial U.S. ambitions have not been fulfilled in ways that Americans and Iraqis once anticipated. Many of Baghdad's 6 million people go without electricity for days in 120-degree heat. Parents fearful of kidnapping are keeping children indoors.
Barbers post signs saying they do not shave men, after months of barbers being killed by religious extremists. Ethnic or religious-based militias police the northern and southern portions of Iraq. Analysts estimate that in the whole of Iraq, unemployment is 50 percent to 65 percent.
U.S. officials say no turning point forced a reassessment. "It happened rather gradually," said the senior official, triggered by everything from the insurgency to shifting budgets to U.S. personnel changes in Baghdad.
Forest Service officials have scaled back their assessment of how much recreation on national forest land contributes to the American economy, concluding that these activities generate just a tenth of what the Clinton administration estimated.deemand goes up, supply goes down, valu drops by 90%: thars yer story, josephine!
Under President Clinton, the Forest Service projected that by 2000, recreation in U.S. forests would contribute nearly $111 billion to the nation's annual gross domestic product, or GDP. Bush administration officials, by contrast, have determined that in 2002 these activities generated about $11 billion.
Joel Holtrop, deputy chief of the National Forest System, said the revised numbers may spur the administration to shift some of its recreation dollars within the system but will not prompt it to downgrade activities such as hunting, fishing and wildlife-watching.
"It's just as valuable to us today as it was 10 years ago; we just have a better way of calculating it," Holtrop said in an interview. "We recognize recreation activity is an important program to the American people."
But critics of the administration said they fear that the new numbers, which were obtained from the nonprofit Natural Resources News Service, will be used to justify more logging and mining on national forests. Under the old estimates, recreation accounted for 85 percent of the system's contribution to the GDP, compared with extraction's 11 percent; under the new formula, recreation represents 59 percent.
FIRST, require all laws that apply to the rest of the country also apply equally to the Congress;as ye probly noticed, numbers first, secunt, third, fourth, sixth n eighth dont seem to have lasted all that long. but mayhap they wuz easier to advocate ifn ye dint have the power to make em wurk. as we know, ye kin find eggcepshuns to ever one i listed, speshly numbers sixth n eighth.
SECOND, select a major, independent auditing firm to conduct a comprehensive audit of Congress for waste, fraud or abuse;
THIRD, cut the number of House committees, and cut committee staff by one-third;
FOURTH, limit the terms of all committee chairs;
FIFTH, ban the casting of proxy votes in committee;
SIXTH, require committee meetings to be open to the public;
SEVENTH, require a three-fifths majority vote to pass a tax increase;
EIGHTH, guarantee an honest accounting of our Federal Budget by implementing zero base-line budgeting.
THE FISCAL RESPONSIBILITY ACTnow as everbidy knows, them publicans won the house n then the senate n then even the presdincy. so wuz they able to brang about inny fiscull responsibilty?
A balanced budget/tax limitation amendment and a legislative line-item veto to restore fiscal responsibility to an out-of-control Congress, requiring them to live under the same budget constraints as families and businesses.
Bush brushed aside pleas from taxpayer groups to veto the bill, which exceeded the $284 billion limit that he had vowed not to cross.by doin that, he avoided innybidy accusin im of havin the courage of a feller lack raygun, witch as ye mite know, he vetoed a hiway bill that cum in with 152 earmarks (pork):
But hundreds of millions of dollars will be channeled to programs that critics say have nothing to do with improving congestion or efficiency: $2.3 million for the beautification of the Ronald Reagan Freeway in California; $6 million for graffiti elimination in New York; nearly $4 million on the National Packard Museum in Warren, Ohio, and the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Mich.; $2.4 million on a Red River National Wildlife Refuge Visitor Center in Louisiana; and $1.2 million to install lighting and steps and to equip an interpretative facility at the Blue Ridge Music Center, to name a few.corse, ye gut to cunsidder everthang. as ye mite know by now, bush is in a race with lyndon baines johnson to be the presdint that grew the gummint the fastest in histry. ifn ye kin take such a read, i recommend ye dip into The Grand Old Spending Party; How Republicans Became Big Spenders by Stephen Slivinski. ifn ye do, yer a'gone larn this kinda thang: when that librul tax n spend dimcrat name of bill clinton tuck offus in 1993, spendin by the fedrul gummint wuz 21.4% of the gdp. by the time he wuz dun wreckin the gummin spendin machine, that had dun shrunk to jes 18.5%. shameful performunts, i know, but he dun whut he could.
"There are nearly 6,500 member-requested projects worth more than $24 billion, nearly nine percent of the total spending," executives from six taxpayer and conservative groups complained in a letter to Bush urging that he use his veto pen for the first time. They noted that Reagan vetoed a transportation bill in 1987 because there were 152 such special requests, known in the parlance of congressional budgeting as "earmarks."
Ranking the Presidentsi caint figger out how to git that figger three in here, sos ye mite half to foller that lank to git toot, but heres whut it sez bout the 'Real Annual Growth Rate of Total Government Outlays by President' [p. 4]:
When discussing how fast the federal government has grown during the presidency of George W. Bush, it’s important to put things in historical context. Figure 3 ranks the presidents over the past 40 years in terms of annualized growth in inflation-adjusted total federal outlays. By that standard, George W. Bush is the biggest-spending president since Lyndon B. Johnson.5
That ranking is interesting for at least two reasons. First, the calculation includes spending on Medicare, one of the most expensive entitlement programs in American history.
Figure 3 charts budget growth only during each year of Bush’s first term in office (i.e., through fiscal year 2005), so it does not include the full impact of increased spending that will start in fiscal 2006 as a result of the president’s prescription drug benefit, the largest expansion of Medicare since its inception.
The drug benefit is expected to cost more than $720 billion over 10 years and far more in subsequent years.6 In fact, spending on Medicare jumps by 17 percent for fiscal 2006 in Bush’s new budget, one of the largest spending increases in the program since 1982.7 The Congressional Budget Office estimates that net spending on the drug benefit will rise from $2 billion in 2005 to $32.8 billion in 2006.8.
Second, Bush has signed into law only four budgets so far, whereas Lyndon Johnson signed five into law during his presidency. In other words, Bush and a Republican Congress have expanded the federal government almost as fast as did Johnson and a Democratic Congress—and in less time.
FISCAL RESPONSIBILITY ACTthis heres one of them situwayshuns whar this ignernt hillbilly caint understand how thar a'doin it, but they must be on a counta they tole us they wood n thar the ones with values that bleeves in practissin whut ye preach n not lyin or killin or violatin inny of them ten commandments.
A balanced budget/tax limitation amendment and a legislative line-item veto to restore fiscal responsibility to an out-of-control Congress, requiring them to live under the same budget constraints as families and businesses.
Knoxville College will start the fall semester with a new president. Barbara Hatton was fired after being in charge for eight years.i shore hope they kin make it. tiz a awfull shame how historickly black collidges n universties is bein wore down to nuthin. lessn ye been part of one, ye caint have no idee whut speshul places they is. tiz a shame how innergrayshun in this cuntry only means black folks kin move into white nayborhoods. i bleeve the cuntry wood larn a lot bout itself ifn more white folks could move into black nayborhoods n have the eggsperients of the 'black communty.' (note: i know tiz poplar to use the term 'african amurkins' in sted of 'black,' but i cum of age in a place everbidy called 'the black communty.')
Campus security officers say she didn't want to leave Monday when she was terminated. She sped off campus quickly after a police officer had to ask her to leave her office. Officers said she had locked herself in.
Trustees made the announcement of her dismissal shortly after Hatton drove off. Under her leadership, enrollment dropped, the school is still unaccredited, and it is being sued by professors and a student worker. They say they haven't been paid in months.
AT $286.4 BILLION, the highway bill just passed by Congress is the most expensive public works legislation in US history. In addition to funding the interstate highway system and other federal transportation programs, it sets a new record for pork-barrel spending, earmarking $24 billion for a staggering 6,376 pet projects, spread among virtually every congressional district in the land. The enormous bill -- 1,752 pages long -- wasn't made public until just before it was brought to a vote, and so, as The New York Times noted, ''it is safe to bet that none of the lawmakers, not even the main authors, had read the entire package."
That didn't stop them from voting for it. It passed 412 to 8 in the House, 91 to 4 in the Senate.
Huge as the bill was, it wasn't quite huge enough for Representative Don Young of Alaska, chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. ''It's not as big as what he'd like," a committee spokesman said, ''but is still a very good bill and will play a major role in addressing transportation and highway needs."
One wonders what more Young could have wanted. The bill funnels upward of $941 million to 119 earmarked projects in Alaska, including $223 million for a mile-long bridge linking an island with 50 residents to the town of Ketchikan on the mainland. Another $231 million is earmarked for a new bridge in Anchorage, to be named -- this is specified in the legislation -- Don Young's Way. There is $3 million for a film ''about infrastructure that demonstrates advancements in Alaska, the last frontier." The bill even doffs its cap to Young's wife, Lu: The House formally called it ''The Transportation Equity Act -- a Legacy for Users," or TEA-LU.
Afghanistan is out of the headlines, but its war against the Taliban goes on. These days, it is not going well. One of the most important reasons for that is the ambivalence of Pakistan, the nation that originally helped create, nurture and train the Taliban. Even now, Pakistan's military ruler, Gen. Pervez Musharraf, seems to invest far more energy in explaining his government's tolerance of Taliban activities than he does in trying to shut them down.
General Musharraf has provided logistical help to Pentagon operations and cooperation to American law enforcement agencies trying to track down Al Qaeda leaders. But his aid has been frustratingly selective. He has been an intermittent collaborator in the fight against international terrorism rather than a fully committed ally. Washington has been understandably reluctant to push him for more consistency, not wanting to risk losing the help he does offer.
Pakistan's passive enabling of the Taliban, however, is too important and dangerous for Washington to overlook. The current Taliban offensive is killing American soldiers - at least 38 have died in action so far this year, as well as hundreds of Afghans. It also endangers next month's parliamentary elections.
Successful elections are crucial to extending the geographical reach of Afghanistan's new national institutions. And they can provide needed political accountability for President Hamid Karzai, who now rules without an elected Parliament. Afghanistan will be a functioning democracy only when citizens can take their grievances against the central government to elected local representatives instead of to armed local warlords. Those grievances are real. Some governors and police chiefs Mr. Karzai has appointed are thuggish and corrupt. Antidrug efforts go after poor farmers while traffickers thrive. Alternative development lags. A lack of judges stymies the rule of law.
Many of the new, more sophisticated roadside bombs used to attack American and government forces in Iraq have been designed in Iran and shipped in from there, United States military and intelligence officials said Friday, raising the prospect of increased foreign help for Iraqi insurgents.
American commanders say the deadlier bombs could become more common as insurgent bomb makers learn the techniques to make the weapons themselves in Iraq.
But just as troubling is that the spread of the new weapons seems to suggest a new and unusual area of cooperation between Iranian Shiites and Iraqi Sunnis to drive American forces out - a possibility that the commanders said they could make little sense of given the increasing violence between the sects in Iraq.
Unlike the improvised explosive devices devised from Iraq's vast stockpiles of missiles, artillery shells and other arms, the new weapons are specially designed to destroy armored vehicles, military bomb experts say. The bombs feature shaped charges, which penetrate armor by focusing explosive power in a single direction and by firing a metal projectile embedded in the device into the target at high speed. The design is crude but effective if the vehicle's armor plating is struck at the correct angle, the experts said.
President Bush might not have turned up personally in Riyadh yesterday but he certainly sent a high-powered delegation to pay his respects to the new leader of Saudi Arabia, King Abdullah.
The American turnout, led by Vice President Dick Cheney, former President George H. W. Bush, and former Secretary of State Colin L. Powell, was the latest signal that relations between the two countries have thawed since the strains of 9/11. But it was also an acknowledgment of a simple fact: like it or not, the United States is more dependent than ever on Saudi Arabia.
"The Saudis are in a great position today," said Jean-François Seznec, a professor at Columbia University's Middle East Institute. "We cannot be enemies with everybody. We need their oil desperately."
Indeed, the alternatives to Saudi Arabia are fewer today than seemed to be the case just three years ago. Predictions of a boom in Iraqi oil have been proved wrong; Iran, OPEC's second-largest oil producer, is locked on a collision course with the West; Venezuela is following an erratic path; and Russia's commitment to market reforms and foreign investments seems increasingly unreliable.
All this has added to Saudi Arabia's already impressive clout. What is more, other powers - mainly from Asia - seek greater access to its resources and have been increasingly courting the Saudis. "They can play the United States against other buyers, like China," Mr. Seznec said. "And why wouldn't they?"
California Army National Guard troops charged unauthorized, off-the-books "rent" to Iraqi-owned businesses inside Baghdad's Green Zone in Iraq to raise money for a "soldier's fund," military officials and sources within the troops' battalion said Friday.
The disclosure is the latest to emerge from a wide-ranging investigation into the conduct of the 1st Battalion of the 184th Infantry Regiment of the Guard, which is headquartered in Modesto, Calif.
Military officials had confirmed previously that the battalion's commander, Lt. Col. Patrick Frey, had been suspended and that one of the battalion's companies, based in Fullerton, Calif., had been removed from patrol duties and restricted to an Army base south of Baghdad, the capital.
According to military officials and members of the battalion, soldiers from the battalion's Bravo Company, which is based in Dublin, an East Bay suburb of San Francisco, approached several businesses earlier this year that were owned and operated by Iraqi nationals.
The businesses -- a dry cleaner, a convenience store and the like -- catered to U.S. soldiers and were located on the fringe of the U.S. military's operating base inside the Green Zone, the fortified hub of the Iraqi government, U.S. occupation officials, embassies and contractor headquarters. The businesses were asked to pay the soldiers "rent."
Lt. Col. Cliff Kent, spokesman for the 3rd Infantry Division in Iraq, confirmed Friday that two vendors agreed to pay.
CRAWFORD, Tex., Aug. 7 - President Bush draws antiwar protesters just about wherever he goes, but few generate the kind of attention that Cindy Sheehan has since she drove down the winding road toward his ranch here this weekend and sought to tell him face to face that he must pull all Americans troops out of Iraq now.
Ms. Sheehan's son, Casey, was killed last year in Iraq, after which she became an antiwar activist. She says she and her family met with the president two months later at Fort Lewis in Washington State.
But when she was blocked by the police a few miles from Mr. Bush's 1,600-acre spread on Saturday, the 48-year-old Ms. Sheehan of Vacaville, Calif., was transformed into a news media phenomenon, the new face of opposition to the Iraq conflict at a moment when public opinion is in flux and the politics of the war have grown more complicated for the president and the Republican Party.
Ms. Sheehan has vowed to camp out on the spot until Mr. Bush agrees to meet with her, even if it means spending all of August under a broiling sun by the dusty road. Early on Sunday afternoon, 25 hours after she was turned back as she approached Mr. Bush's ranch, Prairie Chapel, Ms. Sheehan stood red-faced from the heat at the makeshift campsite that she says will be her home until the president relents or leaves to go back to Washington. A reporter from The Associated Press had just finished interviewing her. CBS was taping a segment on her. She had already appeared on CNN, and was scheduled to appear live on ABC on Monday morning. Reporters from across the country were calling her cellphone.
"It's just snowballed," Ms. Sheehan said beside a small stand of trees and a patch of shade that contained a sleeping bag, some candles, a jar of nuts and a few other supplies. "We have opened up a debate in the country."
Seeking to head off exactly the situation that now seems to be unfolding, the administration sent two senior officials out from the ranch on Saturday afternoon to meet with her. But Ms. Sheehan said after talking to the officials - Stephen J. Hadley, the national security adviser, and Joe Hagin, a deputy White House chief of staff - that she would not back down in her demand to see the president.
FORT BLISS, Tex., Aug. 4 - In a small courtroom at this vast Army training base, military prosecutors have been moving briskly to dispense with the cases they have filed in the brutal deaths in 2002 of two Afghan prisoners at the American military detention center in Bagram, Afghanistan.The Pain Deep Inside:
On Thursday, a 24-year-old military intelligence sergeant pleaded guilty to assault and dereliction of duty for abusing one of the prisoners during an interrogation. Another interrogator, accused of tormenting the same detainee, agreed to plead guilty two days before. Military lawyers said that a plea deal was being negotiated with a third interrogator and that two reservist military policemen who received lesser punishments were cooperating with the inquiry.
Military officials said they hoped the prosecutions would send a message that such abuses will not be tolerated, even in the country's fight against terrorism.
But whatever their long-term implications, the cases have so far tended to illustrate how unprepared many soldiers were for their duties at Bagram, how loosely some were supervised and how vaguely the rules under which they operated were often defined.
Along with other information that has emerged, trial testimony has underscored a question long at the core of this case: what is the responsibility of more senior military personnel for the abuses that took place?
Many former Bagram officers have denied knowing about any serious mistreatment of detainees before the two deaths. But others said some of the methods that prosecutors have cited as a basis for criminal charges, including chaining prisoners to the ceilings of isolation cells for long periods, were either standard practice at the prison or well-known to those who oversaw it.
None of the nine soldiers prosecuted thus far are officers.
Specialist Craig Peter Olander Jr. has the look of a mischievous kid, except that his eyes sometimes telegraph that they've seen too much. And there's a weariness that tends to slip into his voice that seems unusual for someone just 21 years old. Killing can do that to a person.
Specialist Olander was a teenager from Waynesburg, Ohio, population 1,000, when he joined the Army in 2003. "It was very appealing," he said. "The benefits. College. And it was something I'd always wanted to do since I was a small boy - be in the Army."
He had mixed feelings about going to Iraq, but he wasn't particularly upset. He didn't dwell on the possibility of getting killed or wounded. And he gave no thought at all to the spiritual or psychological toll that combat can take. "I was very confident in my training and I was very religious," he said. "I'd always read Bible stories as a child and I believed the Lord would look over me and his will would be done."
He went to Iraq in early 2004 and quickly learned that nothing - not his military training, not the Bible, nothing - had adequately prepared him for the experience. By the time he returned several months later, he said, the trauma he had encountered in Iraq had reached deep inside him. There was both fear and the hint of a plea in his voice as he told me, with surprising candor, that he believed the things he'd had to do in Iraq might jeopardize the salvation of his soul.