Does Anybody Really Care?

Saddam Hussein is on trial, and there are over 130,000 U.S. troops responsible for providing additional security and support on the ground throughout Iraq, but bombs exploded near yet another significant Shiite religious shrine, and at least 30 are dead including two American soldiers following attacks nationwide Sunday.

Shiites in Iran are blaming the West for the bombing of the Askariya shrine last week in Samarra. Protestors hurled Molotov cocktails at the British embassy in Tehran on Sunday.

Confidence in the U.S. mission in Iraq appears to be headed for the doldrums after two of the war’s staunch supporters, arch-Conservatives Bill Kristol and William F. Buckley Jr. consider waving the white flag.
Today is the deadline for U.S. negotiators to meet the demands of Christian Science Monitor correspondent Jill Carroll’s kidnappers to secure her release. There apparently is nothing further to report here.

Many of Iraq’s newly trained police forces are suspected of doubling as death squads, according to a UN envoy.

I’m headed for the Crime Bus! Here’s hoping for a dry Bacchus at Mardi Gras!

Destruction of the Golden Mosque

At least 100 people have been killed in the 24 hours following Wednesday’s bombing of al Askari mosque — one of the holiest shrines for the Shia — in Samarra, Iraq.

Iraqi Vice President Adel Abdul Mahdi is sounding alarm with the statement: “This is as 9/11 in the United States.”

Not just any old place of worship, the golden mosque is connected to the 12th and final Shi’ite imam, who Shias believe went into hiding in the 9th century under the Askariya mosque. Believers await a messiah-like return of this hidden imam.

Historian Juan Cole, commenting on the CBC’s “As it Happens,” compared the significance of the site to the Sistine Chapel in describing the extent of the terror achieved in such an attack — believed to be the first major bombing of a religious shrine in Iraq since the war began.

At least seven mosques have been bombed throughout Iraq since Wednesday, according to Major General Rick Lynch, spokesman for coalition forces in Iraq.
President Bush has condemned the attack as grotesque, but many hold the United States at least partially accountable for the attack. Despite the apparent lack of security allowing such an attack, it is believed that the bombing came in response to U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Zalmay Khalilzad’s threat this week that the U.S. would pull its support from the country should fail to work together andn remain sharply sectarian.

A journalist with Al-Arabiya Television and two of her crew were killed on their way to reporting from the destroyed shrine.

The ever-prominent Shi’ite leader Moqtada al-Sadr is prepared for all-out civil war in response to the bombing. His Mehdi army is responsible for many of the killings in the aftermath of the bombing. There were no fatalities in the bombing itself, and no group has claimed responsibility.

More: CJR on civil war; Heretik on Samarra; PublicEye / Global Voices / Riverbend from Iraq

Port Portenders

Is it just me, or is Bush revelling in the fact that both parties in Congress are actually coming together over something.

The administration realizes that the only way they’ll get anything accomplished, be it domestically, or in the middle east, is to go to extremes and then meet in the middle. (See the cutting off funds to Palestinians v. Hamas not recognizing Israel debate).

I’d say the screen is firmly in place for Bush’s new programs to proceed unquestioned, despite Donald Rumsfeld‘s curiously revealing speech last Friday at the Council on Foreign Relations.

The administration plays this game so well, with EVERYONE buying into pump-fakes by Frist, et al, that headlines are even floating with echoes of Bush’s threat to veto a vote against the port deal.
Ha! I mean the likelihood of this President vetoing ANYTHING is even more remote than the odds on my favorite baseball team winning the world series.

Bush and Congress are hardly in cahoots. I’m not buying it for a second — seeing his cronies snuggling up with Dems is his dream come true. The potential difficulties with corporate ownership of ports of entry, on the other hand, is an entirely different (and actually pertinent) issue.

UPDATE: Eben Kaplan at the Council on Foreign Relations breaks down the ports (non)issue. AP: Bush Unaware of Port Deal Until After Approval — is it really any surprise that most if not all Bush administration decision go down without our presidoesn’ts knowledge???

Politicked Off

With this post, I begin a more concerted effort to broaden the content of this blog. After all, politics is boring and for the most part useless, right? From now on, I pledge to address the more provocative, inspiring, and enabling elements that make this existence circa 2006 so damn exciting.

One look at my del.icio.us links opens a door to a new dimension of new media tools and concepts that have either enhanced my experience as a consumer and producer of a world of content or have been put on the backburner until i have more time to check them out. Additionally I invite one and all to steal my .opml file of the news and blog feeds I regularly peruse (thanks, Dave). Grab it here, import it to your newsreader, and try not to drown.

I originally intended this site to be a news aggregator, enabling the user to delve into a fully customizeable sampling of “everything between.” Sure, it was somewhat motivated by my disgust for the unreal extremism of our two-party system and the sheer irrelevance of the main talking points that were established to decide the 2004 prez election for black or for white.

After early talks with developers and other aspiring minds, I ditched enterprise for edumacation and have since been in grad school. But others have since beaten me to it, dirty work and all!
Gabe Rivera has done the best job with Memeorandum and Tech.Memeorandum.

Memeorandum refreshed every five minutes and features the most blogged-about articles (or posts) at any given time. As Rivera explains, the algorithm is based on the amount of recognition, or linked references a particular article gets throughout the blogosphere at any given time. This is why many of the same blogs appear regularly. Last fall I e-mailed Gabe as I was suspicious that some bloggers were they manipulating the algorithm? Or was I just narcissitically jealous that I couldn’t get up there no matter how many sites I trackbacked (I have since received a few referrals from the couple times I’ve appeared in memeorandum, if only momentarily). He reassured me that that was not the case — some bloggers just consistently are linked to and mirrored throughout the blogosphere. The shameless Michelle Malkin, seems to appear in memeorandum “headlines,” just as often if not more than AP or New York Times — and I would argue that this is thanks to her strategy of leaving all of her blog entries open to “trackbacks” and only a select few open to comments.

Technorati founder Dave Sifry noted in his February “State of the Blogosphere” report (a must-read) the fact that traditional media web sites (New York Times, Yahoo! News, Washington Post) GREATLY overshadow blogs in regard to measuring “authority,” or number of linked references.

The 150,000 or so well-read blogs represent what Sifry calls the magic middle: “A realm of topical authority and significant posting and conversation within the blogosphere.”

Together these statistics illustrate the effectiveness of blogs in shaping news and bringing the citizen voice to the forefront, while continuing to rely primarily on information published by the traditionally trusty broadsheet stalwarts.

In lieu of breaking out on yet another tangent… i’m gonna quit procrastinating — next time i’ll bring out some REALLY fun toys to play with, promise 😉