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Food industry backs animal welfare rules
WASHINGTON, June 28 (UPI) -- Supermarkets and fast food chains are adopting more humane treatment of the animals that eventually find their way into America's shopping carts or between sesame-seed buns. The latest indication of this trend toward kinder, gentler treatment for cows, pigs and chickens comes in a report from a joint committee of two trade organizations representing supermarkets and chain restaurants across the United States. The Food Marketing Industry and the National Council of Chain Restaurants report their new Farmed Animals Welfare Guidelines call for larger pens for cows and pigs, better veterinary care for animals and cleaner coops for egg-laying chickens. Karen Brown, FMI vice president, told United Press International the humane animal guideline program was "developed at the request of our members." Although she acknowledged some animal rights groups "can ring the bell to bring attention to these problems, the real issue here is that retailers are going to suppliers to push for these changes because this is an important issue to us."
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posted by West 8:20 AM

Now, he wants an investigation

by Llewellyn H. Rockwell, Jr.
"The history of money mania is a history of companies that people once believed to be unstoppable generators of wealth, suddenly collapsing into a heap. This is how the sword of the market economy deals with enterprises and investors who come to believe they are above economic law." (06/27/02)

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posted by An Old Curmudgeon 11:39 AM

LIVING BEYOND OUR NATIONAL MEANS: Congress Raises National Debt Limit
washingtonpost.com -- Congressional approval of a $450 billion boost in federal borrowing authority spared the government from choosing between defaulting on the national debt and using "shaky ... or potentially fraudulent accounting devices," Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill said Friday. He made the comment to reporters a day after Congress increased the borrowing limit. O'Neill said Treasury would not have wanted to put itself in a position of "being accused of following the horrendous accounting" practices by some major corporations that have come to the surface in recent months. The federal government must set the "standard for integrity" when it comes to accounting practices, he said. The $450 billion increase will provide enough money for the government to pay its bills until at least December, O'Neill said. That means Congress will not have to face the borrowing question again until after the November's elections that will determine which party controls the Senate and House.
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posted by West 10:25 AM

COOKED BOOKS: Now Xerox admits $2bn hole
thisislondon.com -- Xerox became the latest American group to admit to cooking its books today after it unveiled a two billion dollar hole in its accounts.

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posted by West 10:20 AM

Some U.S. cities are formally resisting the federal police state
In the spirit of the Sons of Liberty, on February 4 of this year, some 300 citizens of Northampton, Massachusetts, held a town meeting to organize ways to�as they put it�protect the residents of the town from the Bush-Ashcroft USA Patriot Act. On that night, the Northampton Bill of Rights Defense Committee began a new American Revolution. Similar committees are organizing around the country. . . . speakers at the meeting emphasized that the USA Patriot Act and the the succession of unilateral Ashcroft-Bush orders that followed apply not only to noncitizens but also to Americans in that very hall. William Newman, director of the ACLU of Western Massachusetts, pointed out that law enforcement agencies are now permitted "the same access to your Internet use and to your e-mail use that they had to your telephone records"�and may overstep their authority. "The history of the FBI," Newman warned, "is that they will do exactly that." . . . One result of that meeting was a petition, signed by over 1000 Northamptonites, urging the town government to approve a "resolution to defend the Bill of Rights." . . . Among those key rights: "freedom of speech, assembly, and privacy; the right to counsel and due process in judicial proceedings; and protection from unreasonable searches and seizures." . . . This is a signal to the mostly passive members of Congress that actual voters are watching them. . . . To find out about these campaigns around the country, and about a range of organizing tools, you can visit theNorthampton Bill of Rights Defense Committee's Web site, and its links. . . . A further indication that many Americans are ahead of their representatives in Washington in wanting to be safe from Ashcroft is an April 24 Associated Press report: "Despite the fear of future terrorist attacks, a majority of Americans are unwilling to give up civil liberties in exchange for national security, according to a Michigan State University study. Nearly 55 percent of 1488 people surveyed nationwide said they don't want to give up constitutional rights in the government's fight against terrorism.
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posted by Lorenzo 8:42 PM

Regressive Progressive?
(Katha Pollitt,The Nation, May 20, 2002)
Ohio Congressman Dennis Kucinich shot into prominence when he made a passionate and eloquent speech questioning the war on terrorism . . . Kucinich's popularity has steadily grown since then and many of his supporters are now talking about a possible run for the White House in 2004. But as Katha Pollitt points out, forgotten amidst this fervor to appoint Kucinich as the next leader of the progressive movement is "an anti-choice voting record of Henry Hyde-like proportions." . . . Kucinich's popularity has steadily grown since then and many of his supporters are now talking about a possible run for the White House in 2004. But as Katha Pollitt points out, forgotten amidst this fervor to appoint Kucinich as the next leader of the progressive movement is "an anti-choice voting record of Henry Hyde-like proportions." . . . He voted specifically against allowing Washington, D.C., to fund abortions for poor women with nonfederal dollars and against permitting female soldiers and military dependents to have an abortion in overseas military facilities even if they paid for it themselves. Similarly, although Kucinich told me he was not in favor of "criminalizing" abortion, he voted for a partial-birth-abortion ban that included fines and up to two years in jail for doctors who performed them, except to save the woman's life. What's that, if not criminalization? . . . That a solidly anti-choice politician could become a standard-bearer for progressivism speaks volumes about the low priority of women's rights to the self-described economic left, forever chasing the white male working-class vote.
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posted by Lorenzo 8:16 PM

Federal Appeals Court Rules Pledge Of Allegiance Unconstitutional Endorsement Of Religion
washingtonpost.com -- A federal appeals court ruled Wednesday that the Pledge of Allegiance is an unconstitutional endorsement of religion and cannot be recited in schools. The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals overturned a 1954 act of Congress inserting the phrase "under God" after the words "one nation" in the pledge. The court said the phrase violates the so-called Establishment Clause in the Constitution that requires a separation of church and state. "A profession that we are a nation 'under God' is identical, for Establishment Clause purposes, to a profession that we are a nation 'under Jesus,' a nation 'under Vishnu,' a nation 'under Zeus,' or a nation 'under no god,' because none of these professions can be neutral with respect to religion," Judge Alfred T. Goodwin wrote for the three-judge panel.
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posted by West 11:53 AM

BEWARE OF WHAT YOU READ: FBI Begins Visiting Libraries
washingtonpost.com -- The FBI is visiting libraries nationwide and checking the reading records of people it suspects of having ties to terrorists or plotting an attack, library officials say. The FBI effort, authorized by the antiterrorism law enacted after the Sept. 11 attacks, is the first broad government check of library records since the 1970s when prosecutors reined in the practice for fear of abuses. The Justice Department and FBI declined to comment Monday, except to note that such searches are now legal under the Patriot Act that President Bush signed last October.
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posted by West 6:46 PM

Guardian Unlimited Observer | Special reports | Bush at bay
(Ed Vulliamy, The Observer, June 23, 2002)
The invitation arrived at the White House a few days before last week's historic World Cup victory by the United States over Mexico. . . . It was from the Mexican President Vincente Fox, suggesting that President George Bush and he watch the game together, as a gesture of friendship between neighbouring nations. The reply came, from a member of Bush's staff: the President would be asleep at that hour of the night. . . . the rebuff spoke volumes to columnists and Washington DC observers about the clueless, crassly selfish quality of a President and a presidency which are suddenly lurching, rather than governing, at the apex of American power. . . . Although Bush's poll ratings remain good, there are signs that the Americans who propelled his candidature and elected him into office now worry about - and do not trust - their President. . . . On 10 September, the President's popularity had fallen to 50 per cent, the lowest on record for a President after that period in office. . . . Corporate sleaze - highly unpopular after the Enron scandal - is becoming a hallmark of the Bush presidency. . . . In the parlance of Washington, the Republicans have a word for this constituency, which slips off the tongue without regard to what it has come to mean given recent events. They call it 'The Base', which in Arabic translates as 'al-Qaeda'.
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posted by Lorenzo 1:54 PM

Civil wrongs
(The Guardian, June 22, 2002)
America's response [to the war on terror] has triggered "one of the more dramatic constitutional crises in US history". . . . Since President George W Bush launched his "war on terror" in the wake of September 11, he and attorney-general John Ashcroft have pushed through "anti-terrorism" measures that have had constitutional and civil rights lawyers warning of an encroachment of powers akin to a police state. . . . Williams is among relatively few Americans raising their voices in alarm. She is disturbed by the apparent ease with which fundamental rights, such as habeas corpus - the right to a court hearing before prolonged detention - are being set aside in the name of an emergency that may have no end. . . . The 'war on terror' is making war not on acts of terror, but on things that terrify us." In this "war of the mind", the enemy is apt to become "anybody who makes us afraid". . . . For Williams, the supposed trade-off between freedom and security in combating the threat of terrorism is a false choice. Her point is that such profiling is not simply unfair but an ineffectual misuse of data; it delivers neither security nor justice. . . . the USA Patriot Act passed last October sets out a "breathtakingly vague and broad definition of terrorism and aiding terrorists" and sweepingly expands the government's powers to search the premises and property of even its own citizens. Williams sees it as "an unprecedented merger between the functions of intelligence agencies to foresee crimes, and law enforcement to punish crimes." She feels "advantage was taken of the times" to push through the 342-page act. "It swept into force, but it's an intricate act; it wasn't devised just in the wake of September 11. It satisfied ideological pressures from the right that in calmer times would have been resisted. As a lawyer, I'm a great admirer of the constitutional balance; both the USA Patriot Act and the executive order establishing military tribunals threaten that balance."
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posted by Lorenzo 1:40 PM

Rhetoric Distorts Realities
The United States has not only glossed over the brutality of tyrants on our side; it has often actively supported and funded such brutality. Where was the moral clarity when Kennedy backed an authoritarian regime in South Vietnam that had almost no support among its people? Where was it when Reagan supported vicious military dictatorships in Central America that killed tens of thousands of innocent people? . . . Or, what about the record of Bush's father, our commander in chief during the Gulf War? The U.S. military deliberately destroyed much of the civilian infrastructure of Iraq, including sewage- and water-treatment plants and electrical-generation facilities far from the supposed battle theater in Kuwait. The military itself predicted such attacks would kill civilians, as they were designed to do and did. . . . Great powers have always gone about the business of conquest while explaining it was in the interests of the conquered. So, when the British ravaged India and extracted much of its wealth, it wasn't described as greed but as the grand enterprise of bringing civilization and religion to the natives--the white man's burden. The United States used similar rhetoric in its nearly complete extermination of indigenous people in the conquest of North America. . . . Although sold to the public as a war on terrorism, the war in Afghanistan and the war the Bush administration is planning against Iraq are about control of those strategically crucial, energy-rich regions. The United States seeks not to own the oil outright, but rather control the flow of oil and oil profits. . . . If moral judgments are applied consistently, it's clear that the United States, like other great powers, has much to answer for.
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posted by Lorenzo 12:34 PM

What Happened at Emma E. Booker School on the Morning of September 11th?
Have you wondered if there was a videotape of Mr. Bush's visit to the Florida elementary school reading class? . . . Well, BuzzFlash did some web surfing and found, much to our amazement, a video account of Bush's September 11th morning. Where did we discover it? On the Emma E. Booker Elementary School website, that's where. . . . [Because of the high demand for this video, we've created a separate link page HERE . . . It appears the videotape cuts off a little early from Bush's classroom visit, but otherwise a picture is worth a thousand words. . . . At the end of his stay, after continuing his "reading lesson" -- even after informed of an attack on the second World Trade Center (at 4:31 minutes into the movie) -- Bush finally made a brief statement, in which he promised to return to Washington, D.C. . . . Well, we all know what happened after that. . . . He ran like the dickens from D.C. (to get "out of harm's way"), as Rove and company concocted two lies to explain why Bush was AWOL once again from service to America. The White House claimed that the flight that hit the Pentagon was headed for the White House, which radar scans proved was not true. The White House also claimed it received a call threatening Air Force One, which it later admitted wasn't true.
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posted by Lorenzo 12:19 PM

Congress Can No Longer Ignore Corporate Control of the Media
(U.S. Representative Bernie Sanders, June 12, 2002)
One of our best-kept secrets is the degree to which a handful of huge corporations control the flow of information in the United States. Whether it is television, radio, newspapers, magazines, books or the Internet, a few giant conglomerates are determining what we see, hear and read. And the situation is likely to become much worse as a result of radical deregulation efforts by the Bush administration and some horrendous court decisions. . . . Fox News Channel is owned by Rupert Murdoch, a right-wing Australian who already owns a significant portion of the world�s media. His network has close ties to the Republican Party, and among his �fair and balanced� commentators is Newt Gingrich. . . . NBC is owned by General Electric, one of the largest corporations in the world � and one with a long history of anti-union activity. GE, a major contributor to the Republican Party, has substantial financial interests in weapons manufacturing, finance, nuclear power and many other industries. . . . ABC is owned by the Disney Corp., which produces toys and products in developing countries where they provide their workers atrocious wages and working conditions. . . . CBS is owned by Viacom, another huge media conglomerate that owns, among other entities, MTV, Showtime, Nickelodeon, VH1, TNN, CMT, 39 broadcast television stations, 184 radio stations, Paramount Pictures and Blockbuster Inc. . . . the most important issues facing the middle-class and working people of our country are rarely discussed. The average American does not see his or her reality reflected on the television screen. . . . The United States has the most unfair distribution of wealth and income in the industrialized world, and the highest rate of childhood poverty. There�s a lot of television promoting greed and self-interest, but how many programs speak to the �justice� of the richest 1 percent owning more wealth than the bottom 95 percent? Or of the CEOs of major corporations earning 500 times what their employees make? . . . The bottom line is that fewer and fewer huge conglomerates are controlling virtually everything that the ordinary American sees, hears and reads. This is an issue that Congress can no longer ignore.

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posted by Lorenzo 10:43 AM

US Trade gap widens to a record
WASHINGTON, June 20 (UPI) -- The Commerce Department said Thursday that the nation's trade deficit during April widened to record as the United States imported more oil from overseas and fuel prices surged. The nation's trade gap widened to a seasonally adjusted $35.9 billion from $32.5 billion March and $31.8 billion in February. The gap was the largest since the government began keeping records on a monthly basis back in 1992.
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posted by West 7:44 AM

UK anti-terrorist officials alarmed at US tactics
(Richard Norton-Taylor, The Guardian, June 13, 2002)
One official said: "American politicians are only concerned with American audiences." Another described the rhetoric, and the US refusal to acknowledge the Geneva convention, as "not benchmarks of a civilised society". . . . British officials say US security and intelligence agents are too quick to believe those they interrogate. . . . British officials also say the US is too quick to place blame elsewhere, for example over anthrax attacks which are now assumed to have originated in the US. "Dirty bombs" are considered more likely to be made with radioactive material stolen in the US than smuggled from abroad.
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posted by Lorenzo 10:14 AM

REPUBLICAN RED: Deficit now looks `well above $100 billion,' Congress' budget office says
Yahoo! News -- The federal deficit probably will soar beyond $100 billion this year, Congress' top budget analyst says, escalating a problem that both parties hope to capitalize on in this November's elections. In its latest monthly review of Treasury Department data, the Congressional Budget Office said Friday that this year's shortfall should "end up well above $100 billion." The red ink for the fiscal year running through Sept. 30 would be the first since 1997. Dan Crippen, director of the nonpartisan office, said the shortfall could near $150 billion. That is similar to expectations of Republican and Democratic analysts and of private forecasters. Crippen blamed the worsening budget picture on an equal mix of rising spending, declining revenue and the added interest the government would have to pay to cover the resulting extra borrowing.
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posted by West 10:52 AM

Hill Leaders Back Bush Order on Hussein
washingtonpost.com -- Congressional leaders expressed support yesterday for President Bush's order earlier this year directing the CIA to undertake a comprehensive, covert program to topple Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, though some warned that the administration must be prepared to take broader military action if the secret efforts fall short. Top figures from both parties welcomed the presidential order, reported yesterday in The Washington Post, which informed sources said gives the CIA authority to use lethal force in capturing Hussein.
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posted by West 9:32 AM

Cracks show in Bush's White House
(Julian Borger, The Guardian, June 15, 2002)
Something has gone awry in George Bush's White House. The administration's once impermeable self-confidence is beginning to show cracks. A string of blunders has revealed that it is increasingly unsure of itself. . . . the White House acidly disowned the views of two senior cabinet members - the attorney general, John Ashcroft and the secretary of state, Colin Powell. . . . the administration just seemed confused in the face of the terrorist menace. . . . Mr Fleischer went out of his way to belittle Mr Powell's observations . . . The administration increasingly seems to be fuelling rather than managing a climate of fear, and opinion polls suggest that more and more Americans believe the timing of its announcements is determined as much by politics as by security concerns. . . . Mr Ashcroft, who carries the banner for the Christian right, spent his first months in office seeking to divert justice department resources from counter-terrorism to crusades against drugs and pornography. Even after September 11, scores of FBI agents have been tied up by a prolonged surveillance of a New Orleans brothel, and a crackdown was ordered against medical marijuana.
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posted by Lorenzo 10:51 AM

System gets millionth DNA profile
WASHINGTON, June 14 (UPI) -- The FBI laboratory has reached a major milestone in sharing information among law enforcement agencies, the bureau announced Friday. Wednesday, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement contributed the 1 millionth DNA profile to the National DNA Index System, known as NDIS. Authorized by the DNA Identification Act of 1994, the national index is administered by the FBI. The National DNA Index System compares DNA profiles associated with a crime scene to DNA profiles collected from known convicted offenders as well as to other crime scene profiles. When the DNA profiles are uploaded to the central lab, they are searched against other DNA profiles submitted by other participating states, the FBI said.
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posted by West 8:59 AM

Gun Control
A few readers have commented on the pro-gun piece below. In the interest of widening the discussion on this website, I have invited a few friends to blog news items with slants that I don't necessarily subscribe to myself. Gun control is one of those issues. Upon my return from duty in Viet Nam in 1966, I gave away my father's gun collection, as I no longer want to own any guns. However, I do understand the Libertarian principles to which some of my friends subscribe and support their right to post their views on this subject.

As with all posts on this website, they are there for you to read and then make your own decision about the issue.
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posted by Lorenzo 3:02 PM

Do Guns Save Lives?
Or Cause Accidents?

Gun Control only seems like a good idea!

According to a 1995 National Safety Council study, the leading causes of death for children ages 0-14 were (in order):

* Motor Vehicle Accidents (3,059)
* Drowning (1,060)
* Fires & burns (833)
* Mechanical suffocation (459)
* Ingestion of food or foreign objects (213)
* Firearms (181)

Further, about 30 innocent people (per year) are tragically killed in the mistaken belief they are intruders. But trained police mistakenly kill 330 innocent people each year.

Should police be disarmed because they're dangerous?

Would anyone argue that children should be prohibited from swimming or riding in cars?

..even though armed police, swimming, and car rides result in more tragedies each year than gun accidents?

It can be argued that police, bodies of water, and automobiles serve positive purposes that are greater than the accidental deaths they cause. But the same thing can be argued for privately owned guns. Each year, more than 2 million criminal acts are prevented by gun owners.

The media would have you believe that guns are a dangerous item that should be banned.
American Liberty Foundation
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posted by Hal 8:27 PM

Suspect Held 8 Months Without Seeing Judge (washingtonpost.com)
washingtonpost.com -- A former Boston cab driver once identified by authorities as a major terrorism suspect was kept in solitary confinement for more than eight months here without seeing a judge or being assigned a lawyer, according to court records, lawyers and advocates familiar with the case. Nabil Almarabh, 35, was taken into custody Sept. 18. After routine detention proceedings, court records show, he was not brought before a federal magistrate to face charges until May 22, two weeks after he was interviewed by the Justice Department's Office of Inspector General, which is examining allegations of civil rights violations against detainees in New York and New Jersey jails. Last week, authorities transferred Almarabh from the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn to a Buffalo courtroom, where he was arraigned on charges stemming from an attempt to illegally enter the country last June. If he pleads guilty, Almarabh faces a sentence shorter than the term he has already spent in jail, according to the U.S. attorney for New York's Western District. Almarabh's case has provoked outrage among civil liberties advocates and criminal defense attorneys, who argue that it is one of the more extreme examples of how the government has violated the due process rights of hundreds of people swept up in the nationwide terrorism investigation. His eight months in custody represent possibly the longest period of time that any person detained after the Sept. 11 attacks has been denied access to a judicial proceeding.
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posted by West 10:04 AM

British security sources raise doubts over US claims about 'dirty bomber'

British sources point out that despite extensive inquiries, no evidence has been produced to show that he had access to the radioactive material needed to build the bomb, or indeed that he had even worked out a time or place to launch the attack. . . . Despite claims by the Attorney General, John Ashcroft, that the FBI had disrupted a plan to launch a radioactive attack against Washington, other officials conceded yesterday that there was no evidence that any such plot had progressed beyond the most basic stages. . . . In Washington there was a growing suspicion that the arrest was seized on by the Bush administration in dramatic fashion for political ends.
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posted by Lorenzo 9:53 AM


Public Transportation On the Decline

WASHINGTON, DC, June 7, 2002 (ENS) -- Americans are enduring longer commutes, and fewer of them are able to use transit, walking or other means to avoid the drive, according to new national Census figures. The average trip to work is up more than three minutes since 1990 to 25.5 minutes, and a higher portion of commuters are driving alone to work. "These figures confirm that travel choices are narrowing for many Americans when it comes to the work trip," said David Burwell, president of the Surface Transportation Policy Project, a group working to promote environmentally friendly, energy efficient transportation options. "More people are living and working in places where they have little choice but to spend a significant part of their day driving in traffic," Burwell added. Census population figures released earlier this year show that most population growth has occurred in metropolitan areas, but outside central cities. These suburban areas often have spread out development patterns where buses and trains are less available and carpooling is inconvenient.
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posted by West 8:57 AM

The Infamous Israeli Attack on the USS Liberty: Special Report
(Dr. E.A. Richards, Palestine Chronicle, June 8, 2002)
Without any warning, the Liberty was attacked by Israeli fighter planes and torpedo boats while she lay in quiet waters off Bardawil. The United States naval vessel was machine-gunned repeatedly, and took 81 hits from aircraft rocket and cannon fire and a direct hit midships from a torpedo fired by one of the Israeli torpedo boat attack squadron. . . . Thirty four American sailors were killed in the dastardly attack, and more than 170 were wounded. . . . In 1976 it was reported that the secret findings of the Naval Board of Inquiry included the comment that the Israeli attack was deliberate. Why are certain elements of the report, and their conclusions still suppressed by the government and almost all of the media? . . . Evidence of the Israeli plan to leave no survivors was compelling. The lifeboats were shot out of the water and the lifeboats still on the vessel were shot full of holes. . . . Even today, as was then, the Israeli Defense Force is strictly an Israeli Attack Force, at its best against unarmed, or poorly armed, opposition who cannot effectively defend itself against American- made aircraft, tanks, armour, and heavy weapons.
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posted by Lorenzo 8:11 PM

The signers of this statement call on the people of the U.S. to resist the policies and overall political direction that have emerged since September 11, 2001, and which pose grave dangers to the people of the world. . . . We believe that people of conscience must take responsibility for what their own governments do -- we must first of all oppose the injustice that is done in our own name. Thus we call on all Americans to RESIST the war and repression that has been loosed on the world by the Bush administration. It is unjust, immoral, and illegitimate. We choose to make common cause with the people of the world. . . . What kind of world will this become if the U.S. government has a blank check to drop commandos, assassins, and bombs wherever it wants? . . . In our name, the government has brought down a pall of repression over society. The President�s spokesperson warns people to �watch what they say.� Dissident artists, intellectuals, and professors find their views distorted, attacked, and suppressed. The so-called Patriot Act -- along with a host of similar measures on the state level -- gives police sweeping new powers of search and seizure, supervised if at all by secret proceedings before secret courts. . . . We must take the highest officers of the land seriously when they talk of a war that will last a generation and when they speak of a new domestic order. We are confronting a new openly imperial policy towards the world and a domestic policy that manufactures and manipulates fear to curtail rights. . . . President Bush has declared: �you�re either with us or against us.� Here is our answer: We refuse to allow you to speak for all the American people. We will not give up our right to question. We will not hand over our consciences in return for a hollow promise of safety. We say NOT IN OUR NAME. We refuse to be party to these wars and we repudiate any inference that they are being waged in our name or for our welfare. We extend a hand to those around the world suffering from these policies; we will show our solidarity in word and deed. . . . Let us not allow the watching world today to despair of our silence and our failure to act. Instead, let the world hear our pledge: we will resist the machinery of war and repression and rally others to do everything possible to stop it.
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posted by Lorenzo 6:59 PM

Secret Agent Scam
The FBI leverages its failures - Mike Lynch

After the 9/11 attacks it seemed, well, unseemly to play the blame game. It was clearly a massive government failure. But it�s just as clear that if anyone could have thwarted the attack, they would have.

When attention finally turned to U.S. security and law enforcement agencies, they did what comes natural: They shifted the blame. The FBI blamed the CIA. The CIA shot back at the FBI. That got them nowhere; each new revelation made them look more ridiculous. So they turned on those who would limit their authority.
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posted by An Old Curmudgeon 5:29 AM


May 22, 2002 - DENVER, CO. The United States must pay attorneys' fees to a nonprofit, public interest firm that helped to vindicate a Vermont family's property rights, a federal court in Washington, D.C. ruled today. The U.S. Court of Federal Claims ordered the United States to pay New England Legal Foundation (NELF) nearly $200,000 for the legal services it provided J. Paul and Patricia Preseault of Burlington, Vermont, in litigation that ended in a ruling that their property was taken unconstitutionally due to the federal government�s failure to pay just compensation. The Preseault�s challenge to the constitutionality of the federal Rails to Trail Act and its conversion of an abandoned railroad easement on their property into a public trail spanned more than two decades, including a U.S. Supreme Court ruling.

"A win for the common man..." A curmudgeon
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posted by An Old Curmudgeon 4:52 AM

White House: Bush in Titanic struggle

A MUST READ ! ! ! The following is word for word from UPI.

WASHINGTON, June 7 (UPI) -- President George W. Bush chose an unfortunate word in announcing his new Homeland Security Department Thursday, noting that the U.S. is leading the world in a "titanic" struggle against terror, which caused the cynics among us who wondered whether Bush's massive government reorganization was more akin to a re-arrangement of the chairs on the deck of that doomed vessel. Too cynical? Perhaps. But in the concept for the behemoth of a government agency that Bush has designed, and in the almost frantic way it was planned and announced, one gets a sense of an incredibly large and unwieldy ship on an ill-fated voyage. The proposed Department of Homeland Security is designed to bring into one agency the functions that protect the United States and close the vast number of holes in the armor of this nation. But whether what Bush revealed Thursday night can do this is another matter. From the day after the planes hit the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, President Bush won accolades for his cool and measured handling of the crisis. It galvanized his presidency and gave it a sense of mission it had never had.
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posted by West 11:14 PM

Credit Checks Sought On Suspicious Air Travelers
DRUDGE REPORT -- Uncle Sam may soon want to check passengers"credit histories before they board airplanes, the WALL STREET JOURNAL reported on Friday. The Transportation Security Administration is enlisting companies that analyze personal credit-card and insurance records.
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posted by West 9:11 PM

Subways on Alert
KYW TV -- On Thursday, the FBI issued the alert to state and local law enforcement officials � its an internal warning to cops around the nation, cautioning that al-Qaida supporters in the United States may use nerve gas to poison subway systems in New York, Washington D.C. and other major cities before or during the fourth of July. The alert states that "this activity is allegedly intended to bring America to its knees on its Independence Day."
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posted by West 9:09 PM

Unleashing the FBI
(Nation: Nat Hentoff, The Village Voice, May 31, 2002)
the poisonous core of this reorganization is its return to the time of J. Edgar Hoover and COINTELPRO, the counter-intelligence operation�pervasively active from 1956 to 1971�that so disgraced the Bureau that it was forced to adopt new guidelines to prevent such wholesale subversion of the Bill of Rights ever again. . . . Under COINTELPRO, the FBI monitored, infiltrated, manipulated, and secretly fomented divisions within civil rights, anti-war, black, and other entirely lawful organizations who were using the First Amendment to disagree with government policies. . . . From now on, covert FBI agents can mingle with unsuspecting Americans at churches, mosques, synagogues, meetings of environmentalists, the ACLU, the Gun Owners of America . . . "The FBI is now telling the American people, 'You no longer have to do anything unlawful in order to get that knock on the door.' ". . . So where are the cries of outrage from Democratic leaders Tom Daschle and Dick Gephardt? How do you tell them apart from the Republicans on civil liberties?
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posted by Lorenzo 7:31 PM

Bush: Refocus science on terrorism
WASHINGTON, June 6 (UPI) -- President George W. Bush's proposal for a new Department of Homeland Security would refocus some of the nation's science and research spending to meet anti-terrorism needs, bringing key nuclear research facilities into the fight against terrorist attacks, administration officials announced Thursday. Plans for the huge new agency released by the White House include research efforts protecting nuclear stockpiles and detecting the transport of nuclear materials -- particularly at points of entry into the United States -- in addition to other tasks. Leading part of the effort as a new center of excellence for anti-terrorism will be Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in Livermore, Calif., now a part of the Department of Energy. "The president has concluded that there needs to be someplace within the executive branch of government to give a strategic vision to the research and development that has an impact on either detection, protection or response to a weapon of mass destruction," a senior official told reporters in advance of the president's nationally televised address Thursday night.
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posted by West 6:22 PM

PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION IN AMERICA: Amtrak Faces Shutdown In July, Says New Chief
washingtonpost.com -- Amtrak's financial condition is so bad that the national passenger train system will have to shut down in July unless it gets a $200 million loan in the next three weeks, its new president said yesterday. David Gunn, while expressing optimism that the loan will come through, said any shutdown would involve the whole system -- not just the long-distance trains but "all of them." Gunn, who has been on the job for three weeks, has basically abandoned former president George Warrington's position that long-distance trains will be halted if Congress fails to appropriate $1.2 billion for Amtrak next fiscal year. Gunn also said he will propose a massive reorganization of Amtrak management today to the Amtrak board of directors, reducing the number of "vice president" titles in the company from 84 to about 20 and eliminating three business units while concentrating management in Washington in a "traditional railroad structure." As a part of the process, he said he is establishing a policy of total openness on Amtrak's finances, with detailed monthly updates that will be open to the public. But before he can do anything else, Gunn said, he must deal with a serious cash crunch that threatens an imminent shutdown. "If we can't borrow $200 million, we can't make it through this fiscal year," Gunn said. "We must have a loan in place by the end of this month."

Unlike Europe's highly advanced and widely used modern rail systems, reliable public rail transportation in the US is teatering on the brink of extinction. With a handful of notable exceptions, the uncontrolled growth of America's obsessive car culture over the past sixty years has resulted in a lackluster national rail system that is regularly utilized by a negligible fraction of US citizens. Buried in the history books you can find the story of Los Angeles' former subway and light rail network, once the most extensive of its kind in the US, that was literally buried alive by ravenous automotive interests a half century ago. Ironically, while Los Angeles was recently completing construction of its new subway "system" (one line), it was still removing the final remnants of rails that once ran the length of boulevards including Santa Monica and Olympic from downtown to the Pacific Ocean.
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posted by West 8:16 AM

U.S. Unveils Fingerprint Plan, Angers Arab Groups
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft said on Wednesday that the U.S. government will fingerprint, photograph and register about 100,000 foreign visitors during the first year alone of an anti-terrorism effort that outraged lawmakers and Arab and immigration groups who say Middle Eastern men will be targeted. He said the program consisted of fingerprinting and photographing at the border, periodic registration of aliens who stay in the United States 30 days or longer and "exit controls" to help remove those who overstay their visas. "This system will expand substantially America's scrutiny of those foreign visitors who may pose a national security concern and enter our country. And it will provide a vital line of defense in the war against terrorism," Ashcroft said.
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posted by West 4:21 PM

For Peace and Freedom

by Rep. Ron Paul, MD - US House of Representatives, May 24, 2002

Despite being sold as a national security bill, most of the spending in this bill bears little relationship to protecting the American people from terrorism. For example, this bill contains funding for the Securities and Exchange Commission, federal courts, and various welfare programs. In addition, this bill spends millions on unconstitutional foreign aid. Mr. Speaker, some may say that foreign aid promotes national security, but if that were true America would be the most beloved country on earth. After all, almost every country in the world has in some way benefited from Congress� willingness to send the American people�s money oversees.
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posted by An Old Curmudgeon 7:47 AM

White House defends U-turn on global warming
Washington Times - The White House defended a change in position on global warming contained in a report to the United Nations. Despite scientific uncertainty (see story below...), the report agrees with environmental activists that global warming is caused by human-produced greenhouse gases. (06/04/02)

and in a related story...

Global warming report violates agreement to settle lawsuit
Competitive Enterprise Institute - "The EPA's latest report on global warming to the United Nations, Climate Action Report 2002, violates an agreement between the White House and the Competitive Enterprise Institute, three members of Congress, and other non-profit advocacy groups, struck in settlement of a lawsuit." (06/03/02)
[Hagerty comment: This is an interesting story. Here's another quote: "For the EPA now to accept the National Assessment�s findings as valid undermines and contradicts President Bush�s global warming policies. The EPA needs to be told that the Clinton Administration is gone and Al Gore did not win the election.� . . . If I am reading this correctly, the Bush Whackers in D.C. are claiming that Bush knows more about global warming than the scientists. If he's not worried about global warming, then why is his Texas ranch set up to use primarily renewable forms of energy?]
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posted by An Old Curmudgeon 7:32 AM

FBI expended vast resources to bust brothel

Jacksonville Daily News - (06/04/02) - Over the course of a wiretap warrant obtained 13 months ago against a popular New Orleans brothel, FBI agents listened in to more than 5,000 phone calls, producing over 200 pages of transcripts. Locals are baffled over the feds' interest in a minor "crime."
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posted by An Old Curmudgeon 6:10 AM

At the White House, 'The People' Have Spoken -- Endlessly
washingtonpost.com -- What do the American people think? Ask President Bush. "The American people know this about me," he said on the subject of pre-Sept. 11 terrorism warnings. "Had I known that the enemy was going to use airplanes to kill on that fateful morning, I would have done everything in my power to protect the American people." What do the American people think about the war on terrorism? "The American people understand that some days there will be moments of great drama on the TV screens, and sometimes there's going to be kind of a lull in the action," Bush said yesterday in Little Rock, invoking the American people three times in one speech. "The American people, much to the chagrin of the enemy and much to the delight of a grateful president, understand that we face a new threat." How about his handling of Enron and its pension debacle? "The American people know that my administration has acted the right way," Bush affirmed. The best energy policy? "It's a combination of good conservation and an increase in supplies," and "I think most of the American people understand that," he said. The American people do not know for sure why the president keeps saying this. But the president and his aides have used some variation of the phrase hundreds of times, to defend the administration's policies on everything from the Middle East to income taxes. This is no verbal tic. By invoking the American people (not the informal "Americans") when confronted with a thorny issue or a hostile question, Bush and his aides give the impression that the matter is some inside-the-Beltway intrigue that is out of step with public opinion. "It's an effective shorthand," said Jeff Shesol, a former Clinton speechwriter who taught a course in presidential rhetoric at Princeton University this year. "It's suggesting that in fact you may have an argument but we've got the people." Shesol admits Clinton speechwriters used the phrase, too. "We're not proud of it, but the American people know our heart was in the right place," he said.
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posted by West 9:27 AM

Pre-Sept. 11 mishaps unfolding
WASHINGTON, June 3 (UPI) -- An extraordinary record of intelligence foul-ups has unfolded, leaving the Bush administration acknowledging the Sept. 11 attacks that killed more than 3,000 Americans might have been prevented, even before congressional hearings on the attacks open Tuesday. In the past several weeks, it has been disclosed in news reports and acknowledged by officials that both the FBI and the CIA ignored or mishandled leads that could have led investigators to the plot to hijack airliners and fly them into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.
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posted by West 8:00 AM

Egypt Warned U.S. of a Qaeda Plot, Mubarak Asserts
The New York Times, CAIRO, June 3 -- Egyptian intelligence warned American officials about a week before Sept. 11 that Osama bin Laden's network was in the advance stages of executing a significant operation against an American target, President Hosni Mubarak said in an interview on Sunday. Using a secret agent they had recruited who was in close contact with the bin Laden organization, Mr. Mubarak said, his intelligence chiefs tried unsuccessfully to halt the operation.
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posted by West 7:58 AM

Yahoo! News - Stocks Sag, Wall St. Questions Honesty
NEW YORK (Reuters) -- Stocks slumped in late afternoon trade on Monday as Wall Street questioned Corporate America's reliability.
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posted by West 1:16 PM

The Mideast War Breaks Out on Campus
(Liza Featherstone, The Nation, June 17, 2002)
The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is a difficult subject on campus, just as it is everywhere in this country. Many students, horrified by Israel's recent atrocities, are beginning to question their own government's role in the Middle East. Increasingly, students critical of Israel, many of whom have never been politically active before, are emerging as a visible presence, protesting the Israeli occupation and its support by the United States. . . . Many students are attempting to induce administrators to wield their institutions' power to create political change, as the student antisweatshop movement has done. Following the model of 1980s antiapartheid activists, students at Columbia, Princeton, Harvard, MIT and the Universities of California, Illinois, Michigan and Wisconsin are urging their administrations to divest from companies that do business with Israel. There are many such companies, as one might guess: General Electric, Hewlett-Packard, AOL Time Warner, Nokia. . . . it's heartening to see so many Jewish students organizing against the occupation. Their presence should be respected, and should serve as a reminder of a fact that both the anti-Semites and the pro-Israel zealots would prefer to ignore: In this country, many of the most articulate and outspoken critics of Israeli policy have been Jewish. Many Jewish students say they feel a special responsibility to fight for Palestinian rights. At Columbia activists have organized a monthly discussion of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict between Jewish and Arab students. Students at New York's Jewish Theological Seminary have written a letter asking American Jewish organizations to support a Palestinian state and recognize Palestinian suffering; 108 rabbinical students have signed it.
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posted by Lorenzo 12:25 PM

Critics: New FBI rules allow data snooping
WASHINGTON, May 30 (UPI) -- Newly revised guidelines for FBI investigations would unleash the agency to use sophisticated data searching techniques to "mine" commercially collected data for signs of suspicious activity, whether or not anyone tagged by the search was suspected of wrongdoing, privacy experts told United Press International Thursday. Such data mining could throw suspicion on people for such legal activities as making many international phone calls or only driving rented vehicles, privacy advocates asserted. A fact sheet provided UPI by the Department of Justice states that, before the new guidelines, the FBI had no clear authority to use commercial data mining services available to commercial businesses unless it was related to a particular investigation.
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posted by West 9:29 AM

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