War on Drugs
Crime Family News
Rights Under Attack
. . . about Chaos,
Reason, and Hope
Dubya Says - Home of the George W. Bush Quote Library
"I think if you know what you believe, it makes it a lot easier to answer questions. I can't answer your question"
--Reynoldsburg, Ohio, October 4, 2000
"Families is where our nation finds hope, where wings take dream."
�LaCrosse, Wis., Oct. 18, 2000"
"If this were a dictatorship, it'd be a heck of a lot easier...just as long as I'm the dictator..."
--Washington, DC, Dec 18, 2000, during his first trip to Washington as President-Elect
"The reason we start a war is to fight a war, win a war, thereby causing no more war!"
--The first Presidential debate
. . . Read more!
posted by Lorenzo 6:27 PM
Vaccinating America at Gunpoint - SMALLPOX AND FORCED VACCINATION: WHAT EVERY AMERICAN NEEDS TO KNOW
(Barbara Loe Fisher - Editor, National Vaccine Information Center, Winter 2002)
In evaluating the potential risk of a bioterrorism attack with real, as well as unpredictable, risks of exposing large numbers of children and adults to a prophylactic mass vaccination program for smallpox, some health officials have already concluded that the risks of mass vaccination outweigh the theoretical benefits. . . . However, even in the event of a proven biological weapons assault and smallpox outbreak, sacrifice of the informed consent ethic would result in state-forced vaccine-induced injury and death of a biologically vulnerable minority in service to the majority, posing serious constitutional and moral questions. . . . The old live vaccinia virus vaccine for smallpox was never tested for safety or efficacy in controlled trials prior to mandates19,20 and it may have caused more reactions, injuries and deaths than any vaccine ever used by humans on a mass basis. Those recently vaccinated become infected with vaccinia virus and can transmit the virus to others, leading to injury and death for some. Unless the old vaccine for smallpox or a newly formulated vaccine is fully tested for safety and efficacy before being released for public use, legally and ethically the vaccine would have to be considered experimental and the mandated use of it a state-enforced national scientific experiment. . . . One month after the September 11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, DHHS Secretary Tommy Thompson called on industry and government to produce and stockpile 300 million doses of vaccinia virus vaccine by the end of 2002. . . . Public health officials would be given the power to �coordinate all matters pertaining to the public health emergency,� including the right to seize private property [Webmaster Note: They obviously learned this tactic from the Drug War.] such as �communications devices, carriers, real estate, fuels, food, clothing and health care facilities� and take control of �the use, sale, dispensing, distribution and transportation of food, fuel, clothing and other commodities, alcoholic beverages, firearms, explosives and combustibles� as well as take control of roads and public areas. . . . If passed by the states, the law would give unprecedented police powers to public health officials and those they designate to charge citizens with misdemeanors and imprison them if they refuse to comply with vaccination . . . What YOU Can Do: The most important action you can take is to give this information to as many people as you can and let your individual voice be heard. Let people know where you stand.
. . . Read more!
posted by Lorenzo 4:52 PM
Returning Integrity and Honesty to Government...
Atomic Lab Cops Do Job, Get Fired
By Noah Shachtman - Wired News - Nov. 27, 2002
Senior investigators hired to root out fraud and corruption at Los Alamos National Laboratory have been fired -- just days after revealing what they knew to officials with the Department of Energy's inspector general. Armed guards escorted Glenn Walp and Steven Doran out of their offices on Monday, a half-hour after Stan Busboom, director of security, informed the pair that they were not "suitable fit(s) for the requirements of (their) position(s)" at the lab's Office of Security Inquiries. Over the past several months, Walp and Doran had led a series of high-profile investigations that generated a tide of bad publicity for the birthplace of the atom bomb. The latest wave struck last week, when Walp's March 26 memo describing lost and stolen lab computers was leaked to the media. Between 1999 and 2001, nearly $3 million worth of property vanished, according to internal documents. Los Alamos spokesman Jim Danneskiold insisted that the pair "were not terminated in retaliation" for those probes. But Danielle Brian -- executive director of the Project on Government Oversight, a government watchdog group -- said in a statement that the firings were motivated "by a desire to silence these and other individuals who are uncovering widespread corruption." Walp and Doran were hired at the lab earlier this year after decades in law enforcement. Walp was a former Arizona state police chief. Doran served as Idaho City's chief of police.
****Hey! Dubya! What did you say about integrity? It's all in the perception...********
. . . Read more!
posted by An Old Curmudgeon 11:09 AM
Homeland Security Act criminalizes leaks of business information
The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press - NOv 19, 2002
Congress, which refused this term to criminalize leaks of classified information, set criminal penalties of fines and imprisonment for persons who disclose critical infrastructure information that businesses want kept secret.
The Senate today defeated by 52 to 47 a last-ditch effort by Democrats to block passage of a Homeland Security Act that Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) called the "most severe weakening of the Freedom of Information Act in its 36-year history." It will criminalize agency disclosures of information without consent of the businesses who gave it to them. Ironically, Congress rejected an effort in this congress to criminalize leaks of actual classified information but called for criminal penalties for leaks of business information. Congress did order a task force to study leaks of classified material, but that group, headed by Attorney General John Ashcroft, determined in late October that there was no need for criminal penalties. The new act will give the new Department of Homeland Security broad powers to receive information from corporations about weaknesses in the "critical infrastructure" and to make that information automatically exempt from the FOI Act. Companies that share information with the government not only gained the promise that the government will keep critical infrastructure information secret, they also gained immunity from civil liability if the information reveals wrongdoing and immunity from antitrust suits for sharing the information with the government and each other. Senator Leahy, a long-time advocate of the FOI Act and chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, warned after the House of Representatives passed the measure that the overly broad FOI Act exemption would "encourage government complicity with private firms to keep secret information about critical infrastructure vulnerabilities, reduce the incentive to fix the problems and end up hurting rather than helping our national security." Leahy said that "In the end, more secrecy may undermine rather than foster security." In later statements he said, for example, that if a company submits information that its factory is leaching arsenic in ground water, "that information no longer could be used in a civil or criminal proceeding brought by local authorities or by the neighbors who were harmed by drinking the water."
. . . Read more!
posted by An Old Curmudgeon 7:28 AM
The Case for California Secession
(Will Durst, WorkingForChange.com, November 12, 2002)
So, why not step even further out. Just split. Leave the nest. 50 - 49 = 1. Face it, they don't like us. And we don't need them. We got the food. We got the wine country to wash it down with. We got the movies, the Disneyland, the Yosemite, the Death Valley, the Sierras, the otters, the Humboldt County. We could use a flag and some money, but otherwise, we're set. . . . Bush won't stop us. It's not like he'd lose sleep canceling all those planned trips to northern California. Subtract our electoral votes from the equation and his re-election is more secure than cold spot welded door rivets in a glue factory. He could move back to Crawford and nap until November 2004. Let Dick and Condi attack whichever small defenseless country they want. Be easy to sneak the bill through Congress. Call it "USA Bill To Deny Democrats 54 Electoral Votes Every 4 Years." . . . Remember how the Feds laughingly flipped us off when the Texas energy corps held us down and mugged us for more than $20 billion? You really looking forward to 2-to-6 more years of that? Of California women worrying themselves sick every time a Supreme Court Justice coughs, wondering if this is the end of Roe vs. Wade? Of Ashcroft's stormtroopers contradicting the will of our people by knocking over wheelchairs to confiscate a couple ounces of herb? Bush wants regime change so bad? I got his regime change right here. . . . With the seventh largest economy in the world we get instant credibility. . . . You want commitment to environmental protection, education reform, and a woman's right to choose, Californy is the place you ought to be.
. . . Read more!
posted by Lorenzo 3:55 PM
Supreme Court to take new look at Miranda right to remain silent
By David G. Savage - Los Angeles Times - Monday, November 25, 2002
OXNARD, Calif. � Maybe you don't have a right to remain silent after all.
The Supreme Court in its famous Miranda ruling told police they must respect the rights of people who are held for questioning. Officers must warn them of their right to remain silent and, equally important, honor their refusal to talk further. But the Supreme Court is about to reconsider that widely known rule, in the case of a farmworker here who was shot five times after a brief encounter with the police. Legal experts say the case has the potential to reshape the law governing everyday encounters between police and the public. While the farmworker lay gravely wounded, a police supervisor pressed him to explain his version of the events. He survived, paralyzed and blinded, and sued the police for, among other things, coercive interrogation. The Oxnard police assert that the Miranda ruling does not include a "constitutional right to be free of coercive interrogation" but only a right not to have forced confessions used at trial. The Bush administration has sided with the Oxnard police in the case. Police can hold people in custody and force them to talk, so long as their incriminating statements are not used to prosecute them, argues a brief to the court filed by U.S. Solicitor Gen. Theodore Olson and Michael Chertoff, the chief of the Justice Department's criminal division. It "will chill legitimate law enforcement efforts to obtain potentially life-saving information during emergencies," including terrorism alerts, if police and FBI agents can be sued for coercive questioning, they add. The Supreme Court will hear oral arguments Dec. 4. Legal experts on the other side of the case foresee far-reaching effects if the Oxnard police prevail. "This will be, in essence, a reversal of Miranda," said Susan Klein, professor of law at the University of Texas. "Officers will be told Miranda is not a constitutional right. If there is no right and you are not liable, why should you honor the right to silence?" she asked. "I think it means you will see more police using threats and violence to get people to talk. Innocent people will be subjected to very unpleasant experiences."
****OK now, just bend over and grab your ankles...****
. . . Read more!
posted by An Old Curmudgeon 1:11 PM
Grappling With the Politics of Fear
(Don Hazen, Alternet, November 25, 2002)
It is increasingly apparent that the climate of fear promoted by the Bush Administration in the wake of a series of national traumas is having wide effect. It seems clear that the politics of fear and safety has been underestimated by progressives and pundits. . . . the anxiety-provoking anti-terrorism actions and messages of fear of the Bush administration fall into the category of the "strict father" mode of communication. . . . Lakoff believes that the "strict father" mode is at the bedrock of conservative ideology. . . . "Over the past thirty years conservatives have poured billions of dollars into their think tanks. They have articulated the system of moral and family values that unifies conservatives; they have created appropriate language for their vision; they have disseminated it throughout the media; and they have developed a coherent political program to fit their values." Lakoff argues that this infrastructure of ideas and values is the essential reason "for the success that conservatives have been enjoying, despite the fact that they appear to be the minority." . . . Certainly a good case can be made that many Americans � including voters on Election Day � feel overwhelmed, shell-shocked and mystified by a recent past featuring a stolen Presidential election, unprecedented corporate scandals, a crumbling Catholic church, the devastating attacks of 9/11, the sniper attacks in Washington D.C., and the ongoing war on terror, with raids, arrests and constant leaks from the FBI about alleged security vulnerabilities dominating the media. . . . The Bush communication capacity would be worth billions of dollars in the commercial marketplace. Peace advocates, by contrast, have spent less than $200,000 for paid ads, and anti-war advocates, even those in Congress, get very little free media coverage. . . . Clearly intellectual arguments may not be at their most potent at this juncture. Many perceive us to be living in a dangerous time. Even though there has been no domestic terrorism in the 13 months since 9/11, terrorism still dominates the corporate news virtually every day. . . . "Under cover of escalating citizen anxiety, the administration is masterfully reshaping domestic and foreign policy both � according to pre-set ideological dispositions." . . . Chao Gunther adds, "People are being pummeled into alienation. With a national injury people are hurt and the politics of fear is being practiced. This is what happened in Europe in the 1930s. This is the kind of an environment where the guys in the brown shirts start showing up. The Democrats haven't been able to strike a moral opposition. No one is heroic, no one is saying 'Open your eyes.'" . . . "We need to meet people where they are at and make a patriotic appeal � urging people to start asking questions, to look around them and see what is happening, be skeptical, to exercise their patriotic duty to ask questions. We need to be telling them it is not a time to be hiding, to be sleeping." . . . At some point, fear turns into anger. Right now, though, that anger seems entirely directed against Saddam or bin Laden, not against the Administration's lies and manipulations. The trick is in turning the tide. Adds Chao Gunther: "We are a powerful country because of our beliefs, our values; not our weapons or ability to bomb people back to the stone age. We need to speak with courage and conviction. Not enough of us are saying that Bush is wrong, and speaking with forcefulness ab4out why." . . . As Lakoff emphasizes, "The conservatives want to impose their world view on the country � permanently. This isn't just about taxes, or social programs, or prescription drugs, or the Iraq war. It is an attempt to take over the American mind and to impose strict father values on every aspect of our lives � in thousands of ways, great and small." He adds, "If progressives do not even see the scope of the danger, then we are in trouble."
. . . Read more!
posted by Lorenzo 11:49 AM
The FBI Wants To Know What You Are Reading
(Eleanor J. Bader, In These Times, November 7, 2002)
According to a University of Illinois study of 1,020 libraries conducted during the first two months of 2002, government sources asked 85 university and public libraries � 8.3 percent of those queried � for information on patrons following the attacks. More detail is unknown since divulging specific information violates provisions of the legislation. . . . "The [USA Patriot Act] act grants the executive branch unprecedented, and largely unchecked, surveillance powers," says attorney Nancy Chang, author of "Silencing Political Dissent," "including the enhanced ability to track e-mail and Internet usage, obtain sensitive personal records from third parties, monitor financial transactions and conduct nationwide roving wiretaps." . . . That's right: Booksellers can also be targeted. What's more, the government is no longer required to demonstrate "probable cause" when requesting records. "FBI and police used to have to show probable cause that a person had committed a crime when requesting materials," . . . "Now, under Section 215 of the Patriot Act," Finan continues, "it is possible for them to investigate a person who is not suspected of criminal activity . . . Community activists, librarians and publishers have joined forces to publicize the threat that the act poses to free speech, privacy and civil liberties. . . . the Constitution guarantees that Americans have the right to read books, write books, and express their opinions. Even when the ideas expressed are unpopular � even when they're downright unpatriotic or seditious � the government should not be in the business of prohibiting them. Indeed, he cautions, the distinction between acts and ideas is imperative.
. . . Read more!
posted by Lorenzo 4:21 PM
The Homeland Security Monstrosity
(Ron Paul, Antiwar.com, November 19, 2002)
Our most basic freedoms as Americans � privacy in our homes, persons, and possessions; confidentiality in our financial and medical affairs; openness in our conversations, telephone, and Internet use; unfettered travel; indeed the basic freedom not to be monitored as we go through our daily lives � have been dramatically changed. . . . The list of dangerous and unconstitutional powers granted to the new Homeland Security department is lengthy. Warrantless searches, forced vaccinations of whole communities, federal neighborhood snitch programs, federal information databases, and a sinister new "Information Awareness Office" at the Pentagon that uses military intelligence to spy on domestic citizens are just a few of the troubling aspects of the new legislation.
. . . Read more!
posted by Lorenzo 4:14 PM
Public Protest Over Pentagon Surveillance System Mounts
In an open letter sent yesterday, a coalition of over 30 civil liberties groups urged Senators Thomas Daschle (D-SD) and Trent Lott (R-MS) to "act immediately to stop the development of this unconstitutional system of public surveillance." Newspapers across the country have written editorials castigating the program. The New York Times has said that "Congress should shut down the program pending a thorough investigation." The Washington Post wrote, "The defense secretary should appoint an outside committee to oversee it before it proceeds." William Safire's recent column, which played a major role in igniting the public outcry, called the surveillance system "a supersnooper's dream." . . . A further crucial component is the development of biometric technology to enable the identification and tracking of individuals. DARPA has already funded its "Human ID at a Distance" program, which aims to positively identify people from a distance through technologies such as face recognition and gait recognition. A nationwide identification system might also be of great assistance to such a project by providing an easy means to track individuals across multiple information sources. . . . The FBI and the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) are also working on data mining projects that will merge commercial databases, public databases, and intelligence data. Documents obtained by EPIC through the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) show that the developers of the new passenger profiling system in the TSA held meetings with Poindexter's team earlier this year.
. . . Read more!
posted by Lorenzo 1:35 PM
Israel Eyes Up to $10B in U.S. Aid
By Dan Perry - Associated Press Writer - Thursday, November 21, 2002; 7:40 PM
washingtonpost.com - JERUSALEM �� Israel will ask the United States for loan guarantees aimed at jump-strating its economy which has been damaged by two years of violence and the request will total between $8 billion and $10 billion, a senior government official said Thursday. The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told The Associated Press that the Finance and Defense ministries are finalizing the request and would forward it to the United States in the coming days. The request for guarantees on foreign bank loans would be in addition to the $2.9 million in direct loans and grants that Israel receives annually from the United States, the official said. Israel, which receives the largest U.S. aid package of any country, relies on the loan guarantees to borrow at lower interest rates.
. . . Read more!
posted by An Old Curmudgeon 8:17 AM
They had their fingers crossed...
Court overturns ruling on vets' free lifetime health care
From Terry Frieden - CNN - Tuesday, November 19, 2002 Posted: 3:57 PM EST (2057 GMT)
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- A federal appeals court Tuesday ruled that the U.S. government does not owe free lifetime medical care to World War II and Korean War veterans who agreed to serve 20 years in exchange, despite promises made to them when they were in the armed forces. The ruling represents a victory for the federal government, which had argued the veterans were not entitled to the benefits. The ruling will potentially save the government billions of dollars in health care costs. The 9-4 ruling by the full U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in Washington, D.C., overturns a ruling by a three-judge appeals panel in February, 2001, which ruled that the veterans were entitled to the lifetime health care based on the military's promises. In the opinion issued Tuesday the Court said that action taken this year allows for free care in the future, but that the government is not obligated to pick up the medical expenses incurred from 1995 to 2001. "Because [the law] at most authorizes space available treatment and not free health insurance for life, we hold that the Air Force Secretary lacked the authority in the 1950s when plaintiffs joined to promise free and full medical care," the Court majority said. The majority of judges, however, clearly seemed sympathetic to the veterans against whom they ruled. "We ... can do no more than hope Congress will make good on the promises recruiters made in good faith to plaintiffs and others of the World War II and Korean War era from 1941 to 1956 when Congress enacted its first health care insurance act for military members, excluding older retirees," the court majority said. In an emotional dissent four judges sided with the veterans. "If Congress can appropriate billions for this aspect of national defense and not know how it is accounted for, then God save the Republic. Of course Congress knew; of course the service secretaries authorized promises in return for service; of course these military officers served until retirement in reliance, and of course there is a moral obligation to these men," read the dissent.
. . . Read more!
posted by An Old Curmudgeon 1:44 PM
GAO SECURITY REPORT GIVES THUMBS DOWN TO U.S. AGENCIES
The General Accounting Office (GAO) this week announced that pervasive weaknesses remain in federal technology systems at the 24 largest government departments and agencies. As in the last two years, the worst problems include poor security management and access controls. The combination of poor security management and weak protections at nearly all agencies leave them more vulnerable to data theft or sabotage, particularly by insiders, according to the report released Tuesday. The audit conducted from Oct. 2001 to Oct. 2002 indicates that some individual agencies improved over last year, but all still have significant information security weaknesses overall--including access controls--that place a broad range of operations and assets, including federal records,
at risk of fraud, misuse and disruption. The GAO recommends agencies tap adequate technical expertise to help them select, implement and maintain controls to protect information systems. It also advises better allocations of agency resources for information security.
*****Think about how much money could be applied to solving these considerable problems if 1. we were not sending BILLIONS of dollars to support Israel and 2. we were not chasing down victimless pot smokers. But that's just this old Curmudgeon's opinion******
. . . Read more!
posted by An Old Curmudgeon 6:26 AM
Pentagon database is step toward police state, Libertarians say
Total Information Awareness is a massive public surveillance system under development by the Pentagon. "Total Information Awareness" could help lay the framework for a police state in America and should be halted immediately, Libertarians say. This is Big Brother on steroids. The government of a free country shouldn�t want surveillance powers like these. The goal of the program, funded by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), is to construct a �virtual, centralized, grand database� containing every Americans� electronic transactions, such as credit card purchases, bank and medical records, travel data, e-mails and phone calls.
That information is to be linked with biometric data such as face recognition technology and digital fingerprints, and provided instantly to law enforcement to detect patterns of terrorist activity, the government says. Spearheading the initiative is former Navy Rear Adm. John Poindexter, a Reagan administration official who was implicated in the illegal sale of arms to the Nicaraguan Contras. As the anti-privacy aspects of the project have become clear, civil liberties groups and editorial pages around the USA have urged Congress to torpedo the program.
Unless this Orwellian project is dismantled, innocent Americans will suffer under the kind of high-tech, 24-hour surveillance that the Stasi and the KGB would have envied. Like most counterterrorism measures, Total Information Awareness is based on a myth, Libertarians say � the myth that the only way to prevent terrorism is to erode Americans� freedom.
. . . Read more!
posted by Hal 7:41 PM
When accused of spoiling elections for Republicans, Libertarians take an attitude similar to Ralph Nader's Green party when they were accused of spoiling the presidential election for Democrats in 2000: They don't care. Says George Getz, the Libertarian National Committee's press secretary, "You can't spoil tainted meat." Rachel DiCarlo is a staff assistant at The Weekly Standard.
. . . Read more!
posted by An Old Curmudgeon 12:54 PM
President Bush: "I do not need to explain why I say things. � That's the interesting thing about being the President. � Maybe somebody needs to explain to me why they say something, but I don't feel like I owe anybody an explanation."
(CBS) In a 60 Minutes interview with Mike Wallace, Washington Post reporter Bob Woodward discloses previously unknown information from his new book (Bush at War) about how the president and his cabinet prosecuted the war on terror in the weeks after the Sept. 11 attacks.
*****I think he forgot that little aspect of his employment contract, that he supposedly works as a SERVANT of the PUBLIC and DEFENDER of the Constitution******
. . . Read more!
posted by An Old Curmudgeon 12:06 PM
Tennessee funds welfare jobs in India
This is an example of your Tennessee tax dollars at work, creating jobs in India. After you read it ask yourself a question. Could this company be required, as part of the contract, to locate the call center in Tennessee?
By Lynn Redmond - Powell Post
When a welfare recipient in Knox County calls a toll free number asking for help with food stamp problems, the representative of the state of Tennessee who answers the phone is located in Bombay, India. Tennessee's Department of Human Services has entered into a contract with a large international company, eFunds, to provide round-the-clock call centers to help food stamp recipients across Tennessee work out problems with their benefits. At the program's beginning in 1999, Tennessee's callcenter was located in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. In 2000 eFrunds closed the Milwaukee center and moved all call operations to Bombay, India. A spokesman for eFunds said of the closing, "It was a matter of staying competitive. It cost us $12 an hour for an employee in Milwaukee and only $3 an hour for an employee in India." These actions of the Department of Human Services stand in stark contrast to the goal of Tennessee's much ballyhooed Families First welfare program which is to get people off the welfare rolls and out into productive jobs. The eFunds company, headquartered in Arizona and with over 2,000 employees in India, recently opened its second call center in Bombay at a cost of $3.4 million. eFunds, which reported a last quarter increase in revenue of 37 percent, administers welfare programs in 47 other states in this country. The company has been one of the leaders in moving call center jobs and other office jobs out of the U.S. to India. India is a favorite with companies like eFunds because large segments of the population already speak English. The employees are given fake names so that Tennesseans will feel more comfortable talking with them. So instead of Ravi or Nirupa, Jason or Ashley answers the phone. Last Thursday I called the food stamp number (1-888-997-9444) and was welcomed to "The state of Tennessee EBT customer service line." When I punched 1 for instructions in English my call was routed to India. After I worked through several layers of recorded messages I talked live with "John." John spoke with heavily accented British-Indian English and tried to be very helpful. When I asked where he was located, he said: "They do not like us to reveal that." Programs such as this speak volumes about the attitude of a state government toward its citizens. That our state would even consider funding a program that takes job opportunity away from the people it claims to help is beyond belief. It is especially unbelieveable because of the Levi's plant in Powell that is one step away from closing forever because of the competition of low-wage foreign workers. If the Levis company is unable to keep the plant open, and if some laid off workers end up using welfare benefits, and if some of those call the toll-free number, it will be the ultimate indignity courtesy of the state of Tennessee.
*****Speaking from experience, I lost my telecommunications industry job to 10 Indian "employees", hired by my H1B manager in Chennai, 3 months before I was RIF'd. This is how corporate America's Patriotism manifests itself. They stand out front, waving the flag, spouting platitudes about how we (society) should be patriots and support our leaders and military and, oh yeah, American businesses, meanwhile, in the boardrooms/backrooms of business, they are moving work overseas and moving Americans to the unemployment lines. Is it time to take them to task?******
. . . Read more!
posted by An Old Curmudgeon 9:07 AM
America Still Unprepared � America Still in Danger
Report of an Independent Task Force Sponsored by the Council on Foreign Relations
Gary Hart and Warren B. Rudman, Co-Chairs, Stephen E. Flynn, Project Director
�When you see the multiple attacks that you�ve seen occur around the world, from Bali to Kuwait, the number of failed attacks that have been attempted, the various messages that have been issued by senior al-Qaeda leaders, you must make the assumption that al-Qaeda is in an execution phase and intends to strike us both here and overseas; that�s unambiguous as far as I am concerned.� �George Tenet, Director, Central Intelligence, Testimony before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, October 17, 2002
A year after September 11, 2001, America remains dangerously unprepared to prevent and respond to a catastrophic terrorist attack on U.S. soil. In all likelihood, the next attack will result in even greater casualties and widespread disruption to American lives and the economy. The need for immediate action is made more urgent by the prospect of the United States going to war with Iraq and the possibility that Saddam Hussein might threaten the use of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) in America.
The Task Force recognizes that important and generally salutary measures have been undertaken since September 11 to respond to the risk of catastrophic terrorism, including pending legislation to create the Department of Homeland Security, which should be enacted on an urgent basis. Yet, there is still cause for concern. After a year without a new attack, there are already signs that Americans are lapsing back into complacency. Also, a war with Iraq could consume virtually all the nation�s attention and command the bulk of the available resources. President Bush has declared that combating terrorism requires a war on two fronts�at home and abroad. The Task Force believes the nation should respond accordingly. It outlines a number of homeland security priorities that should be pursued with the same sense of urgency and national purpose as our overseas exertions.
Among the risks that the United States still confronts:
� 650,000 local and state police officials continue to operate in a virtual intelligence vacuum, without access to terrorist watch lists provided by the U.S. Department of State to immigration and consular officials.
� While 50,000 federal screeners are being hired at the nation�s airports to check passengers, only the tiniest percentage of containers, ships, trucks, and trains that enter the United States each day are subject to examination�and a weapon of mass destruction could well be hidden among this cargo. Should the maritime or surface elements of America�s global transportation system be used as a weapon delivery device, the response right now would almost certainly be to shut the system down at an enormous cost to the economies of the United States and its trade partners.
� First responders�police, fire, emergency medical technician personnel�are not prepared for a chemical or biological attack. Their radios cannot communicate with one another, and they lack the training and protective gear to protect themselves and the public in an emergency. The consequence of this could be the unnecessary loss of
thousands of American lives.
� America�s own ill-prepared response could hurt its people to a much greater extent than any single attack by a terrorist. America is a powerful and resilient nation, and terrorists are not supermen. But the risk of self-inflicted harm to America�s liberties and way of life is greatest during and immediately following a national trauma.
� An adversary intent on disrupting America�s reliance on energy need not target oil fields in the Middle East. The homeland infrastructure for refining and distributing energy to support the daily lives of Americans remains largely unprotected to sabotage.
� While the overwhelming majority of the nation�s critical infrastructure is owned and operated by the private sector, significant legal barriers remain to forging effective private-public partnerships on homeland security issues. These include potential antitrust conflicts, concerns about the public release of sensitive security information by way of the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), and liability exposure.
� Domestic security measures must be pursued within an international context. The critical infrastructures that support the daily lives of Americans are linked to global networks. Efforts to protect these systems will fail unless they are pursued abroad as well as at home.
� The National Guard is currently equipped and trained primarily for carrying out its role in supporting conventional combat units overseas. The homeland security mission can draw on many of these capabilities but it requires added emphasis on bolstering the capacity of National Guard units to respond to biological attacks; acquiring protection, detection, and other equipment that is tailored for complex urban environments; and special training to provide civil support in the aftermath of a large-scale catastrophic attack.
*****This is a 40 page PDF that is worth the read. The information contained is not likely to make the mainstream media outlets.*****Of course, if this country refrained from interfering with the business of other nations/regions, these issues would not be as critical as our government has made them. But that is just this curmudgeon's opinion.
. . . Read more!
posted by An Old Curmudgeon 11:33 AM
Shafts of Death
by Jeffrey St. Clair and Alexander Cockburn - Eat The State
Remember the Quecreek coal mine disaster in Pennsylvania last July? It left 9 miners trapped 300 feet underground in rushing, frigid waters for more than 3 days. Bush rushed from his Crawford Ranch for a photo op with the rescued miners in Somerset County, Pennsylvania, looking for a repeat of his performance at Ground Zero, the crowning moment of his presidency. "What took place here in Pennsylvania really represents the best of our country, what I call the spirit of America," Bush proclaimed. Then he sped off to a $1.5 million Republican fundraiser in Philadelphia. What took place in Quecreek was no "accident," merely lethal normalcy, business-as-usual for the industry in the coal fields of Appalachia, where mine-and-run corporations send their workers down to extract every last yard of coal from dwindling coal seams. The Black Wolf Mining Company, a non-union operation, tried to pin the blame for the disaster on bad maps provided by the state of Pennsylvania, which led the mining crew to drill into the adjacent Saxman mine, abandoned in the 1950s and filled with 60 million gallons of water, which sluiced at 60 miles per hour into the Quecreek mine. But that excuse won't wash. For one thing, officials at the company and federal regulators at the Mine Safety and Health Administration had been aware since at least 1999 that those maps were dangerously inaccurate. And in the days leading up to the disaster, the miners themselves had warned the company. "The mine was wet from the very beginning," says Ronald Hileman, one of the rescued miners. Hileman testified to Senate investigators that the crew boss had told executives at the mining company about the bad condition at least twice before the collapse.
. . . Read more!
posted by An Old Curmudgeon 11:05 AM
Wronged Side of the Tracks?
By Don Phillips
Washington Post Staff Writer - Friday, November 15, 2002; Page A01
On a balmy Sunday afternoon late last month, Richard Whitenight did what he often does on his days off: He went to a busy railroad junction in Fort Worth to watch the trains roll by. But as he sat making notes about passing freight trains, two police cruisers approached. Over the next five hours, Whitenight -- who works for the police department in nearby Arlington, Tex. -- identified himself to the officers. Then he identified himself to the officers' supervisor, then a detective from a terrorism task force, then the FBI. They seized his trainspotter's notebook and grilled him about every mark and note in it. They searched his car and took photos of it, inside and out. Finally, he had to sign a form agreeing never to return to the location known as Tower 55. Whitenight is one of thousands, perhaps millions, of people around the world who spend much of their time observing and photographing railroad operations out of a love for trains. In general, railroads have encouraged these "railfans" as long as they do not trespass or interfere with operations. Railroads even hold contests to use railfan photographs in calendars, and the Association of American Railroads has started a Web site to encourage the hobby. But after the FBI announced last month it had credible reports that al Qaeda might be targeting railroads, a growing minority of railfans have been questioned and sometimes searched. A handful have even been threatened with arrest, for pursuing a hobby they have embraced for years. Law enforcement officers and train crews have been told to be on the lookout for suspicious characters asking detailed questions about railroad operations, taking notes and taking pictures of trains. It appears the descriptions of "terrorist" and "railfan" are the same.
*****We have been saying that 9/11 changed the way we live our lives. Our appointed government continually tells us to live our lives like we used to...but as we have seen over the last year, they really don't want us to live our lives the way we used. They want us to live them the way THEY proscribe. Time to pack our bags and jump that rail...oh wait, we can't do that anymore - that is a terrorist activity for sure...*****
. . . Read more!
posted by An Old Curmudgeon 12:53 PM
Jury Allots Blame in Teacher's Death
Friday, November 15, 2002; Page A12
WEST PALM BEACH, Fla., Nov. 14 -- A jury ordered a gun distributor today to pay $1.2 million to the widow of a teacher who was gunned down by a student. As part of a $24 million judgment in a landmark case targeting inexpensive handguns, the jury pinned most of the fault for the 2000 slaying of Barry Grunow on the gun's owner and on school officials. But the jury ruled that gun distributor Valor Corp. should shoulder part of the blame because it didn't sell the gun with a safety feature, such as a lock, that could have prevented Nathaniel Brazill, 13, from using it. Pam Grunow sued Valor, contending that the type of small, cheap pistol Brazill used often falls into the hands of juveniles and criminals and can be confused with a toy.
****This falls under the "Say What???" category*****
. . . Read more!
posted by An Old Curmudgeon 12:41 PM
White House Wages Stealth War on Condoms
November 14, 2002
The government is waging a covert war on condoms. The start of hostilities wasn't announced from the Oval Office. Nor was it put to a dramatic vote in the Congress. This is a guerilla war. The insurgents inch forward with determined steadiness, and a certain stealth. A fact sheet on the effectiveness of condoms in preventing the transmission of the AIDS virus has disappeared from the Centers for Disease Control Web site. According to lawmakers who have protested, the missing sheet was based on public health data showing that "latex condoms, when used consistently and correctly, are highly effective in preventing transmission of HIV" and other sexually transmitted diseases. In its place is a notice: "Being revised." A separate CDC listing of sex-education "Programs that Work," meant to give local officials information on scientifically proven methods of reducing risky teen sexual behavior, also has vanished. The list was created at the request of schools that wanted "credible evidence of effectiveness" as they selected sex-education programs, lawmakers say. President George W. Bush has begun appointing critics of condoms to a presidential advisory panel on AIDS. They include social conservatives who question the international scientific consensus that condoms are highly effective in AIDS prevention. Instead, they emphasize failure rates from slippage, breakage and not using condoms every time. "The only 100 percent effective way to avoid nonmarital pregnancy and STD infection is to avoid sexual activity outside a mutually faithful, lifelong relationship - marriage," says the Texas-based Medical Institute for Sexual Health. The group's founder, Dr. Joe S. McIlhaney, Jr., now sits on the presidential AIDS panel.
. . . Read more!
posted by An Old Curmudgeon 7:43 AM
Granny D: How to Break the American Trance
(Doris Haddock, AlterNet, November 8, 2002)
The Reagan business hero was the corporate takeover artist. Any regulations that might get in the way of these ruthless new capitalists were removed -- removed so that reptiles of uncommon greed and brutality might rule the earth, which they now nearly do. What soon happened was that ALL corporations of medium size or larger had to look over their shoulders. How did a corporation protect itself in this environment from a hostile takeover? It had to close down any factories that were not earning obscene profits. Never mind that a factory had served a town well for a century, or that it provided a healthy and regular profit for its stockholders. If it seemed to be underperfoming by the new hypergreed standards, or if it could be closed in favor of opening a foreign plant that provided a slightly higher rate of return, then, in this new atmosphere, the company was derelict in its duty to its stockholders if it did not ruthlessly act. . . . We are living in the harsh world invented by a handful of corporate raiders whose values were completely foreign to the fairness and moderation that had so long served as the proper foundation of American success and the American dream of plenty for all. . . . The new business hero, a Horatio Alger on crack, did very well. . . . These superwealthy predators now, through their political patronage, control both political parties. They control Congress and the White House. They control elements within your state house. They are not particularly smart people, as their current agent in the White House clearly demonstrates. . . . the takeover of corporations became the corporate takeover of American democracy . . . In Fox News, even reporters in local regions are told how to slant each story hard to the right. There is no pretense of journalism within the organization. . . . In this way, the right-wing leanings of a few people have distorted entire industries, including television news. . . . . What we are seeing now from the far right is not conservatism at all. It is fascism: the imposition of a national and worldwide police state to enforce a narrow world view that enriches and empowers the few at the expense of the many, and that gives no respect or honor to other cultures, ways of living, or opinions. . . . If we Americans are split into two meaningful camps, it is not conservative versus liberal. The two camps are these: the politically awake and the hypnotized . . . True conservatives and liberals unite! Bring your issues and your opinions to our young people, and create a new expectation that they will get involved, get informed, and form a view of themselves as problem-solving citizens of a democracy. Our differences from the left or right are nothing compared to the differences between the politically awake and the hypnotized drones of the new colonialism that now stalks and shreds our civilization. . . . We need not force a liberal agenda on our society, any more than we need force our political opinions on our children. We can enjoy life instead of banging our heads against the old walls. If we encourage an awake thoughtfulness, democracy and justice will have all the victories our hearts can handle.
. . . Read more!
posted by Lorenzo 1:25 PM
Will we, should we e-Vote?
Tyler Hamilton - Technology Reporter - The Toronto Star
Critics [of e-voting] warn that overzealous politicians with new money to burn are making a bad situation even worse by jumping too quickly on the technology bandwagon. Many of those critics are technologists themselves, arguing that opportunistic companies are selling automated and online voting systems that aren't yet ready for prime time in terms of reliability, security and privacy. "After 2000, there was this knee-jerk reaction to try to solve the problem," says cryptographer David Chaum, known as the inventor of digital cash, or eCash. "The states bought tonnes and tonnes of these touch-screen systems. They rushed to buy, but the systems are worse than punch cards ... to me it's unbelievable." Chaum, and academic experts such as professor Rebecca Mercuri at Bryn Mawr College in Pennsylvania, maintain that the biggest problem with current electronic voting systems is that they fail to provide an audit trail. In other words, if somebody deliberately tampers with a touch-screen terminal or if software works incorrectly there is no sure way for authorities to know there is a problem. If a problem is suspected, the anonymous nature of the votes makes it virtually impossible to investigate.
"If any candidate wishes to seek a recount, the only one they will get from the touch-screen machines is a print-out of the same electronic data residing inside of the machines," wrote Mercuri in a critique of the latest Florida election. In Mercuri's opinion, a print-out of the data doesn't cut it. She knows, with her own background in computer programming, that it's easy for one thing to be displayed on a touch screen and another thing to be saved in a machine's memory � whether by mistake or as sabotage. A printout of the existing data would simply be an "Enron-style" audit, meaning what voters see is possibly a mask on the truth.
. . . Read more!
posted by An Old Curmudgeon 8:59 AM
State Coalition Approves Internet Sales Tax Plan
Prospects in Legislatures, GOP Congress Uncertain
By Brian Krebs
washingtonpost.com Staff Writer
Tuesday, November 12, 2002; 5:21 PM
Revenue-hungry states today took the first step toward building a national framework for taxing items sold over the Internet. In a meeting in Chicago, lawmakers and tax officials from 30 states -- including Virginia and the District of Columbia - endorsed a proposal to simplify their tax laws and enter into a voluntary pact to collect online sales taxes. Maryland officials present at the meeting abstained from today's vote. "This is a 21st century system that will dramatically improve the morass that currently exists," said Utah Gov. Mike Leavitt (R), a key leader in the states' effort. "I'm confident that this agreement....will mark the beginning of a new phase of this process." The voluntary program would take effect when at least 10 states representing 20 percent of the U.S. population have amended their laws to implement the program. Participating states would then be free to ask Congress to approve a mandatory, nationwide online sales tax regime. It's unclear, however, if Congress would go along with any online sales tax proposal. "We think that once these states have simplified their systems it will be appropriate for the federal government to reward that effort," said R. Bruce Johnson, commissioner of the Utah state tax commission and co-chair of the implementing states group. "We're doing everything we can to make it clear that the states can work together." Currently, 45 states and the District of Columbia levy sales taxes, with rates varying from state to state -- and often from town to town. Under the Streamlined Sales Tax Project proposal, states would be required to establish uniform definitions for taxable goods and services, and maintain a single statewide tax rate for each type of product. The project also seeks to simplify tax reporting requirements for online sellers. Currently, there are more than 7,000 different state and local tax jurisdictions nationwide. Today's vote is a welcome development for the nation's largest main street retailers, who have argued for years that the current system gives online vendors an edge over so-called "bricks-and-mortar" stores.
. . . Read more!
posted by An Old Curmudgeon 9:00 PM
. . . Read more!
posted by An Old Curmudgeon 11:46 AM
Pentagon Plans Vast New Citizen-Surveillance Project
(John Markoff, New York Times, November 9, 2002)
As the director of the effort, Vice Adm. John M. Poindexter, has described the system in Pentagon documents and in speeches, it will provide intelligence analysts and law enforcement officials with instant access to information from Internet mail and calling records to credit card and banking transactions and travel documents, without a search warrant. . . . Historically, military and intelligence agencies have not been permitted to spy on Americans without extraordinary legal authorization. But Admiral Poindexter, the former national security adviser in the Reagan administration, has argued that the government needs broad new powers to process, store and mine billions of minute details of electronic life in the United States. . . . In order to deploy such a system, known as Total Information Awareness, new legislation would be needed, some of which has been proposed by the Bush administration in the Homeland Security Act that is now before Congress. That legislation would amend the Privacy Act of 1974, which was intended to limit what government agencies could do with private information. . . . "The vehicle is the Homeland Security Act, the technology is Darpa and the agency is the F.B.I. The outcome is a system of national surveillance of the American public." . . . If deployed, civil libertarians argue, the computer system would rapidly bring a surveillance state. They assert that potential terrorists would soon learn how to avoid detection in any case.
[Editor's note: "On March 8th, 1990, Poindexter was brought to trial in Washington, D.C., on five criminal charges, including conspiracy, obstruction of Congress, and making false statements to Congress. On April 7th, Poindexter was found guilty on all five charges, and he was sentenced, on June 11th , to six months in prison." . . . found at http://mai.flora.org/forum/35424]
. . . Read more!
posted by Lorenzo 11:19 AM
The Republican Pledge of Allegiance
Things that I love about this wonderful country of ours.......
I love our President, George W. Bush.
I love the fact that he has the power to do just about anything he wants to do.
I love the fact that our government is getting stronger and stronger each day.
I love the fact that our government has so much control over it's people.
I love living in a country that strives towards and is destined to rule the world.
I love the fact that we have an abundance of gasoline and that it's cheaper here than most other countries in the world.
I love the fact that most of us here in the U.S. have an abundance of almost everything we need or want.
I love the fact that our leaders are all rich and affiliated with the oil industry.
I love war with a passion.
I love greed with the same passion.
I love the fact that our government has the right to kill innocent people.
I love nuclear bombs and the devastating power they wield.
I love religions that proliferate war and killing.
I could go on and on. There are so many things I love about my country.
I really do love it; there's nothing better !
If you are a true Republican, please pass this on.
[Editor's note: In case it isn't obvious, the above piece is satire . . . and the title was added by us.]
. . . Read more!
posted by Lorenzo 5:44 AM
Fork In The Road: Fascism Or Freedom?
Where the decision will be made, about whether we have a global fascist state or not, will be made by, basically, the American psyche, and which way it chooses to go. . . . The land, or the place, that the fork in the road will be decided, will not be a physical location; it will be in the minds of all of us. What we need to do is not stockpile weapons, and stockpile food, and get into survival mode; we need to take back control of our minds! That's what we need to do. . . . The reason that we are in this state, and facing the global fascist state, is that vast billions of people on this planet have given their minds away. They've given their right to think away to external sources, "authorities" in their various forms. What we need to do is to take that power back, and start thinking for ourselves. . . . I'm not going to fight anyone. I don't want to fight George Bush. It's not about fighting. It's about being, because the world is a reflection of our consciousness. If we live in a state of mind in which we are in fear, we are striving not to express ourselves in an unlimited way, but to survive another day.
. . . Read more!
posted by Lorenzo 2:55 PM
Chokehold on Knowledge
EDITORIAL - Los Angeles Times
Since it's the threat of obscurantism we're hoping to thwart, let's be blunt: The Bush administration's plan to strip the Government Printing Office's authority is a threat to democracy. Office of Management and Budget Director Mitch Daniels wants to transfer control of information management from the printing office to individual Cabinet agencies. That would spell the end of the current system, in place since the Jeffersonian era, which requires executive branch agencies to send their documents and reports to neutral librarians, who then make them available to the public both online and in 1,300 public reading rooms nationwide. Daniels would replace that system with a more secretive one in which individual agencies would manage -- and possibly sanitize -- their own electronic databases. Currently, a federal agency such as the Pentagon can't delete an embarrassing passage from a historical document without first going through the hassle of asking each reading room to obscure the passage with a black marker. If Daniels gets his way, all an agency will have to do is call up the document in Microsoft Word and quietly hit Control X to delete the passage for eternity. Daniels says he's only trying to save taxpayer money. Giving Cabinet-level agencies the ability to select printing services on the basis of "quality, cost and time of delivery," he wrote, could save up to $70 million a year. That's a dubious claim, however, because the printing office already sends nearly two-thirds of its work to the private contractor with the lowest bid. As library experts have recently pointed out, privatization might or might not save money, but it certainly would diminish the public's access to information needed to make informed decisions. As Barbara Quint, Information Today's usually dispassionate columnist, fumed in September, Daniel's current push "threatens to gut federal document dissemination -- and fast." In his 1644 pamphlet "Areopagitica," the English poet John Milton (reacting to how the Catholic Church had arrested and silenced Galileo simply because the astronomer's views on the universe conflicted with its doctrines) warned that citizens who didn't know what their government was doing couldn't hold it accountable. In the late 18th century the words of an American lawyer, Patrick Henry, helped persuade Congress to pass legislation protecting the public's right to know. "The liberties of a people never were, nor ever will be, secure," Henry said, "when the transactions of their rulers may be concealed from them." In deciding whether to keep the library system that works to keep executive branch agencies honest, Congress has a choice: trust the upstarts in the Bush administration or heed the wisdom that has guided the country for more than two centuries.
. . . Read more!
posted by An Old Curmudgeon 6:27 AM
Simpson berates 'hysterical' US networks
(Fiachra Gibbons, The Guardian, October 19, 2002)
John Simpson, the BBC correspondent who "liberated" Kabul, has attacked "gonzo" journalists who are cheerleading the world to war. . . . He reserved most of his derision for Rupert Murdoch's Fox News channel, which has now overtaken CNN in the States, and its star reporter, Geraldo Rivera, the man it bills as "the world's greatest war correspondent". . . . Fox News was "dysfunctional, grotesquely patriotic and embarrassing" and had mislead the American public after September 11 with "hysterical, excitable reporting" . . . "It was a lot of nonsense that Islam and the west are locked in eternal conflict. It's purely politics and local politics often at that. Osama bin Laden is primarily motivated by wanting to remove American bases from Saudi Arabia and by the Palestinian problem. It is as small as that." . . . He said George Bush was a man of below average intelligence and a "glovepuppet of his vice-president, Dick Cheney, and defence secretary Donald Rumsfeld".
. . . Read more!
posted by Lorenzo 5:06 PM
Only In America Pictures
This is a link to a website that has about 20 road signs that have the potential to make you laugh out loud. If you live outside the U.S., you may want to take a look at what everyday life in the States is really like. Sometimes I wonder how we ever got our men back from the moon.
. . . Read more!
posted by Lorenzo 3:54 PM
Gore Vidal: The Enemy Within
(Gore Vidal, The Guardian, 27 October 2002)
Only CIA director George Tenet seemed to take the various threats seriously. In December 1998, he wrote to his deputies that 'we are at war' with Osama bin Laden. So impressed was the FBI by his warnings that by 20 September 2001, 'the FBI still had only one analyst assigned full time to al-Qaeda'. . . . On the subject 'How and Why America was Attacked on 11 September, 2001', the best, most balanced report, thus far, is by Nafeez Mossadeq Ahmed . . . A political scientist, Ahmed is executive director of the Institute for Policy Research and Development 'a think-tank dedicated to the promotion of human rights, justice and peace' in Brighton. His book, The War on Freedom: How and Why America, has just been published in the US by a small but reputable publisher . . . Bush, who allowed the American people to go unwarned about an imminent attack upon two of our cities as pre-emption of a planned military strike by the US against the Taliban. . . . the Guardian had reported that 'Osama bin Laden and the Taliban received threats of possible American military action against them two months before the terrorist assaults on New York and Washington ... [which] raises the possibility that bin Laden was launching a pre-emptive strike in response to what he saw as US threats.' A replay of the 'day of infamy' in the Pacific 62 years earlier?
Why the US needed a Eurasian adventure
The administration most likely was able to respond so quickly ... because it simply had to pull the plans "off the shelf". . . . Brzezinski notes how the world's energy consumption keeps increasing; hence, who controls Caspian oil/gas will control the world economy. . . . 'Eurasia accounts for 60-per cent of the world's GNP and three-fourths of the world's known energy resources.' . . . 'Brzezinski clearly envisaged that the establishment, consolidation and expansion of US military hegemony over Eurasia through Central Asia would require the unprecedented, open-ended militarisation of foreign policy, coupled with an unprecedented manufacture of domestic support and consensus on this militarisation campaign.' . . . 'Moreover, as America becomes an increasingly multicultural society, it may find it more difficult to fashion a consensus on foreign policy issues, except in the circumstance of a truly massive and widely perceived direct external threat.' Thus was the symbolic gun produced that belched black smoke over Manhattan and the Pentagon. . . . Afghanistan, the object of the exercise was made safe not only for democracy but for Union Oil of California whose proposed pipeline from Turkmenistan to Afghanistan to Pakistan and the Indian Ocean port of Karachi, had been abandoned under the Taliban's chaotic regime. Currently, the pipeline is a go-project thanks to the junta's installation of a Unocal employee (John J Maresca) as US envoy to the newly born democracy whose president, Hamid Karzai, is also, according to Le Monde, a former employee of a Unocal subsidiary. . . . Once Afghanistan looked to be within the fold, the junta, which had managed to pull off a complex diplomatic-military caper, - abruptly replaced Osama, the personification of evil, with Saddam. This has been hard to explain since there is nothing to connect Iraq with 9/11
Bush and the dog that did not bark
Ironically, less than a year after the massive danger from without, we were confronted with an even greater enemy from within: Golden Calf capitalism. Transparency? One fears that greater transparency will only reveal armies of maggots at work beneath the skin of a culture that needs a bit of a lie-down in order to collect itself before taking its next giant step which is to conquer Eurasia, a potentially fatal adventure not only for our frazzled institutions but for us the presently living. . . . 'I have no idea why people aren't asking some very specific questions about the actions of Bush and company on the day of the attacks. Four planes get hijacked and deviate from their flight plan, all the while on FAA radar.' . . . The nonchalance of General Richard B. Myers, acting Joint Chief of Staff, is as puzzling as the President's campaigning-as-usual act. . . . Finally, somebody 'thrust a cellphone in Myers' hand' and, as if by magic, the commanding general of Norad - our Airspace Command - was on the line just as the hijackers mission had been successfully completed except for the failed one in Pennsylvania. . . . Myers claims to be uninformed until the third strike. But the Pentagon had been overseeing the hijacked planes from at least the moment of the strike at the first tower: yet not until the third strike, at the Pentagon, was the decision made to get the fighter planes up. . . . Obviously, somebody had ordered the Air Force to make no move to intercept those hijackings until ... what? . . . Whatever the explanation for the huge failure, there have been no reports, to my knowledge, of reprimands.
The media's weapons of mass distraction
11 September, it is plain, is never going to be investigated if Bush has anything to say about it. In January 2002, CNN reported that 'Bush personally asked Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle to limit the Congressional investigation into the events of 11 September ... The request was made at a private meeting with Congressional leaders ... Sources said Bush initiated the conversation . . . Certainly the one-hour 20 minute failure to put fighter planes in the air could not have been due to a breakdown throughout the entire Air Force along the East Coast. Mandatory standard operational procedure had been told to cease and desist. . . . Behind the Junior Bush is the senior Bush, gainfully employed by the Carlyle Group which has ownership in at least 164 companies worldwide . . . 'If the US boosts defence spending in its quest to stop Osama bin Laden's alleged terrorist activities, there may be one unexpected beneficiary: bin Laden's family ... is an investor in a fund established by Carlyle Group, a well-connected Washington merchant bank specialising in buyouts of defence and aerospace companies . . . Agent France Press reported on 4 November 2001: 'FBI agents probing relatives of Saudi-born terror suspect Osama ... were told to back off soon after George W. Bush became president . . . 'We had what looked like the biggest failure of the intelligence community since Pearl Harbor but what we are learning now is it wasn't a failure, it was a directive.' . . . Obviously, Osama has enjoyed bipartisan American support since his enlistment in the CIA's war to drive the Soviets out of Afghanistan.
A world made safe for peace and pipelines
As it proved, the conquest of Afghanistan had nothing to do with Osama. He was simply a pretext for replacing the Taliban with a relatively stable government that would allow Union Oil of California to lay its pipeline for the profit of, among others, the Cheney-Bush junta. . . . a BBC regional correspondent says the proposal to build a pipeline across Afghanistan is part of an international scramble to profit from developing the rich energy resources of the Caspian Sea.' . . . Many commentators of a certain age have noted how Hitlerian our junta sounds as it threatens first one country for harbouring terrorists and then another. . . . Joseph Schumpeter who, 'in 1919, described ancient Rome in a way that sounds eerily like the United States in 2001: "There was no corner of the known world where some interest was not alleged to be in danger or under actual attack. If the interests were not Roman, they were those of Rome's allies; and if Rome had no allies, the allies would be invented ... The fight was always invested with an aura of legality. Rome was always being attacked by evil-minded neighbours."' We have only outdone the Romans in turning metaphors such as the war on terrorism, or poverty, or Aids into actual wars on targets we appear, often, to pick at random in order to maintain turbulence in foreign lands. . . . But something new has been added since the classic Roman Hitlerian mantra, 'they are threatening us, we must attack first'. Now everything is more of less out in the open. . . . "Are we involved in a preliminary psychological dimension of causing Iraq to do something to justify a US attack or make concessions? Somebody knows.' That is plain.
Suspect states and the tom-toms of revenge
'Of all the enemies to public liberty, war is, perhaps, the most to be dreaded because it compromises and develops the germ of every other. As the parent of armies, war encourages debts and taxes, the known instruments for bringing the many under the domination of the few. In war, too, the discretionary power of the executive is extended ... and all the means of seducing the minds, are added to those of subduing the force, of the people ...' Thus, James Madison warned us at the dawn of our republic. . . . Post 9/11, thanks to the 'domination of the few', Congress and the media are silent while the executive, through propaganda and skewed polls, seduces the public mind as hitherto unthinkable centers of power like Homeland Defence (a new Cabinet post to be placed on top of the Defence Department) are being constructed and 4 per cent of the country has recently been invited to join Tips, a civilian spy system to report on anyone who looks suspicious or ... who objects to what the executive is doing at home or abroad? . . . Apparently, 'conspiracy stuff' is now shorthand for unspeakable truth. . . . there is no way that we could ever find the billions needed to destroy Iraq in 'a long war' or even a short one, with most of Europe lined up against us . . . But the tom-toms keep beating revenge; and the fact that most of the world is opposed to our war seems only to bring hectic roses to the cheeks of the Bush administration (Bush Snr of the Carlyle Group, Bush Jnr formerly of Harken, Cheney, formerly of Halliburton, Rice, formerly of Chevron, Rumsfeld, formerly of Occidental). If ever an administration should recuse itself in matters dealing with energy, it is the current junta. . . . The former president of Germany's domestic intelligence service, Eckehardt Werthebach (American Free Press, 4 December 2001) spells it out. The 9/11 attacks required 'years of planning' while their scale indicates that they were a product of 'state-organised actions'. There it is. Perhaps, after all, Bush Jnr was right to call it a war. But which state attacked us? . . . Elements of corporate America would undeniably prosper from a 'massive external attack' that would make it possible for us to go to war whenever the President sees fit while suspending civil liberties. (The 342 pages of the USA Patriot Act were plainly prepared before 9/11.) . . . Apparently, Pakistan did do it - or some of it. . . . 'With the active encouragement of the CIA and Pakistan's ISI (Inter Services Intelligence) who wanted to turn the Afghan jihad into a global war, waged by all Muslim states against the Soviet Union, some 35,000 Muslim radicals, from 40 Islamic countries joined Afghanistan's fight between 1982 and '92 ... more than 100,000 foreign Muslim radicals were directly influenced by the Afghanistan jihad.' The CIA covertly trained and sponsored these warriors. . . . 'The trainers were mainly from Pakistan's ISI agency who learnt their craft from American Green Beret commandos and Navy Seals in various US training establishments.' This explains the reluctance of the administration to explain why so many unqualified persons, over so long a time, got visas to visit our hospitable shores. . . . Washington turned a blind eye to al-Qaeda.
. . . Read more!
posted by Lorenzo 1:44 PM
Message to the Troops: Resist!
(David Wiggins, AlterNet.org, October 11, 2002)
With all due respect, I want you to know that if you participate in this conflict, you are not serving me, and I don't support you. Speaking for myself, I feel those who participate will be damaging my reputation as an American, and further endangering me and my children by creating hatred that will someday be returned to us -- perhaps someday soon. Your actions will not lead to a safer world, but a more dangerous world of pre-emption and unilateral decisions to commit mayhem. I don't support that. . . . I don't support the troops, but I certainly fear for the lives of the troops. I would support the troops staying home. I regret that our so-called leaders have involved the troops in such a foolish, misguided undertaking. I would support the troops disobeying orders. I feel sorry for the troops' families. I would support the troops if they realized that the best way to defend their families would be to stay alive and healthy and resist this war. . . . Oh yes, and you are serving the President, of course -- the man who avoided combat duty and deserted his National Guard unit. You are serving the man who enriched himself through crony capitalism, shady accounting practices and insider trading while running multiple corporations into bankruptcy. You will be serving the man who lost the popular vote for president, but was handed the presidency by a Supreme Court influenced by his father and through voting irregularities in a state governed by his brother. . . . If you are involved in an invasion of Iraq, you will be faced with some difficult ethical decisions. Are the Iraqi foot soldiers really the guilty party here? Is it reasonable to expect them to refuse orders to defend themselves against an invading force (you)? Is this conflict really necessary at all? If not, why kill these people?
. . . Read more!
posted by Lorenzo 8:49 AM
An attempt to mix coffee with politics in Berkeley was quickly dumped down the drain by city voters Tuesday.
Charles Burress, Chronicle Staff Writer, - Wednesday, November 6, 2002
An initiative that would have required all cups of coffee sold in the city to be "fair trade,'' shade-grown or organic was overwhelmingly rejected. "I think the message this sends is that the public wants to choose their products,'' said Mark Inman, roast master at Taylor Maid Farms, which sells organic coffee. "They don't want to be told how to live or how to do their part, or how to help the world out." The initiative attracted worldwide attention, in part because it was the first voter test of a proposal to restrict coffee consumption. And Berkeley has been known to take early stands on issues later embraced by the rest of the nation.
****And in Flori-duh!, an amendment to the State Constitution to protect pregnant pigs passed without a thought!!! Makes you really wonder about where we are going...****
. . . Read more!
posted by An Old Curmudgeon 7:43 AM
Why Your Vote Won't Matter
(John Kaminski, Rense.com, 11-3-02)
If you're black, and the first four letters of your last name match the first four letters on that famously fabricated list of Florida felons, you definitely won't be voting at all, because the state of Florida hasn't bothered to fix its mistakes from the last election " the same problems that allowed George W. Bush to slither into the White House like the rapine reptilian he is are still in force. . . . In New Mexico, the GOP tried to bribe the Green Party to run candidates in three Congressional races to siphon votes away from popular Democrats. Of course, the principled Greens refused. In Michigan, Republicans recruited nine "stealth" candidates to run as Democrats, thereby discouraging legitimate opposition. In early voting in Dallas, Texas, voting machines were recording Democratic votes as Republican; the GOP, when caught, blamed it on "miscalibration." In Arkansas, many African American voters were asked to produce their voter ID cards in a blatant effort at intimidation. Officials in South Dakota want new restrictions on Native American voters. . . . What really determines elections is who counts the votes, and who counts the votes is somebody you probably didn't know, and if you did know them, you surely wouldn't trust them to count the votes. No government agency counts the votes. And the people who count the votes, who tell you who your next president is, have no government oversight, no audit, no official you have elected watching over them. . . . Most votes in America are counted by computer programs which are also proprietary secrets. Not even election officials are allowed to inspect these programs (the "source code") to verify their accuracy. Election officials can test the programs (using "test decks") but any clever programmer can write a program which passes tests but falsifies the election. . . . The same wealthy patricians who undercount the number of people who attend antiwar demonstrations, who pretend there are no political opinions in the United States except Republican and Democratic, who deride "liberals" and blithely report that Paul Wellstone's political assassination was just a mysterious accident " and that 9/11 was an attack by disenchanted Muslim terrorists ... these are the same people who are predicting and reporting on your elections, as well as the very ones who actually count the votes and give you the totals.
. . . Read more!
posted by Lorenzo 6:33 PM
CIA identifies cyber terror groups
By Nick Farrell [30-10-2002]
A CIA report has warned that a number of terrorist groups are hatching plans to attack Western computer networks.
The report, which is a response to a list of questions from a US senator, names Sunni extremists Hezbollah and Aleph as groups believed to be developing cyber terrorism plans. The report claims that the CIA is "alert to the possibility of cyber warfare attack by terrorists on critical infrastructure systems that rely on electronic and computer networks". It added that attacks against critical infrastructure systems will become an increasingly viable option for terrorists, as they become more familiar with these targets and the technologies required to attack them. The report identifies al-Qaeda and Hezbollah as becoming "more adept at using the internet and computer technologies". "The FBI is monitoring an increasing number of cyber threats and the sort of groups most likely to conduct such operations include al-Qaeda and the Sunni extremists that support their goals against the US," said the report. Aleph, formely known as Aum Shinrikyo, is the terrorist group that places the highest level of importance on developing cyber skills. "This group identifies itself as a cyber cult and derives millions of dollars a year from computer retailing," the report stated.
*****now, don't you feel much safer knowing that the CIA is "alert" and the FBI are "monitoring" the situation? Haven't we heard that before? Oh yeah, they admitted they weren't focusing on terrorist groups - pot smokers are much more dangerous.******
In a related article...
IG: State Department flunks systems security
By Wilson P. Dizard III
The State Department�s information system security remains weak a year after the department was told of serious flaws, according to a recent report by the State inspector general�s office. The IG reviewed system security in accordance with the Government Information Security Reform Act, which calls for annual reviews. Even though State made a plan for certifying and accrediting its systems, it has no timetable, according to the IG. Department officials had certified and accredited only 4 percent of systems by August, the report said. In addition, even though 72 percent of the department�s 358 systems have security classifications, only 15 percent have security plans, it said. Investigators also found problems at overseas posts, where the information system security officers �generally were not performing all the requisite duties,� the report said. None of the 11 posts visited by the investigators had information security plans, according to the report, which also criticized poor management, technical and operational controls that increase �the risk to mission operations.� The IG�s office said it will make recommendations to correct the problems. State officials did not respond to repeated requests for comment on the report.
***But, since W handles all the foreign affairs now, it really doesn't matter. CP is just another "Alabama porchmonkey."***
. . . Read more!
posted by An Old Curmudgeon 7:57 AM
INCOME TAX Repeal barely beaten back
By Corey Dade, Globe Staff, 11/6/2002
Surprising even supporters, voters came close to passing a proposal to eliminate the state income tax, sending a strong signal to Beacon Hill about distaste for future tax increases as a way to solve the budget crisis. With 89 percent of the precincts reporting last night, support for Question 1 captured 47 percent of the turnout, outperforming the projections by about 7 percentage points. Sponsors of Question 1, led by Libertarian gubernatorial candidate Carla Howell, had hoped for 40 percent in order to assemble a critical mass of public opinion that might dissuade the Legislature from passing a tax increase at the end of the year. ''It goes to show that you can't trust polls,'' Howell said late last night shortly after conceding her loss in the governor's race. ''It also demonstrates that the reporting of how big government must solve everyone's problems is clearly not representative of what all the people believe.'' Eliminating the state income tax would take an estimated $9 billion annually out of state coffers and force an immediate 40 percent slash in state spending - a centerpiece of Howell's ''Small Government is Beautiful'' platform. As a result, advocates said, extra money would flow into the market and create between 300,000 and 500,000 jobs, more than enough to completely wipe out unemployment in the state. Most mainstream economists doubt that scenario. Instead, they say, the state would be forced into an immediate fiscal emergency that would decimate the programs upon which so many people depend. ''It's certainly sobering for the Legislature that with a $2 billion estimated deficit, this puts even more pressure on them to meet the defecit with budget cuts rather than a combination of cuts and taxes,'' said Tufts University political scientist Jeffrey M. Berry. ''I would guess it comes back on the ballot in a little bit.''
. . . Read more!
posted by An Old Curmudgeon 6:15 AM
U.S. Military Collecting Names, Addresses, and Phone Numbers of All High School Students
(David Goodman, Mother Jones, November/December 2002)
Sharon Shea-Keneally, principal of Mount Anthony Union High School in Bennington, Vermont, was shocked when she received a letter in May from military recruiters demanding a list of all her students, including names, addresses, and phone numbers. . . . The recruiters cited the No Child Left Behind Act, President Bush's sweeping new education law passed earlier this year. There, buried deep within the law's 670 pages, is a provision requiring public secondary schools to provide military recruiters not only with access to facilities, but also with contact information for every student -- or face a cutoff of all federal aid. . . . The military complained this year that up to 15 percent of the nation's high schools are "problem schools" for recruiters. In 1999, the Pentagon says, recruiters were denied access to 19,228 schools. Rep. David Vitter, a Republican from Louisiana who sponsored the new recruitment requirement, says such schools "demonstrated an anti-military attitude that I thought was offensive." . . . "I think the privacy implications of this law are profound," says Jill Wynns, president of the San Francisco Board of Education. "For the federal government to ignore or discount the concerns of the privacy rights of millions of high school students is not a good thing, and it's something we should be concerned about." . . . The new law, they say, undercuts the authority of some local school districts, including San Francisco and Portland, Oregon, that have barred recruiters from schools on the grounds that the military discriminates against gays and lesbians. Officials in both cities now say they will grant recruiters access to their schools and to student information -- but they also plan to inform students of their right to withhold their records. . . . Recruiters are up-front about their plans to use school lists to aggressively pursue students through mailings, phone calls, and personal visits -- even if parents object. "The only thing that will get us to stop contacting the family is if they call their congressman," says Major Johannes Paraan, head U.S. Army recruiter for Vermont and northeastern New York. "Or maybe if the kid died, we'll take them off our list."
. . . Read more!
posted by Lorenzo 1:15 PM
Transfer makes soft money hard; Florida GOP benefits
By SARA FRITZ, Times Washington Bureau Chief
published November 5, 2002
WASHINGTON -- The Florida Republican Party received $3.2-million from the National Republican Senatorial Committee during the past two years, even though today's election does not include a Florida Senate race, public records show. The Center for Public Integrity, an independent watchdog group, says the unusual cash transfer was the first step in a process that enabled the Republicans to convert restricted soft money contributions to so-called hard money, which can be used for a wider variety of political purposes than the soft money. The Florida Republican Party took a percentage of the funds for itself, and then returned $2.7-million in hard money to the NRSC within a few days. Later, the NRSC used its new hard money reserves to assist in campaigns of Republicans running for Senate in hotly contested races in states other than Florida.
"It is basically money laundering," said Chuck Lewis, executive director of the Center for Public Integrity. "There is a Rube Goldberg element to the current campaign financing system. Money sloshes around the nation from account to account until nobody knows where it came from or where it is going." Lewis noted public reports showing these transfers between the NRSC and the Florida GOP cover only a part of the two-year election cycle. There are no reports available yet on transactions after June 30.
. . . Read more!
posted by An Old Curmudgeon 10:00 AM
The Bush Wall of Shame
****This list has been edited as it is quite lengthy.****
- Cut federal spending on libraries by $39 million. The Dallas Morning News, April 13, 2001
- Cut $35 million in funding for doctors to get advanced pediatric training. Washington Post, April 10, 2001
- Cut by 50% funding for research into renewable energy sources. Washington Post, April 10, 2001
- Revoked rules that reduced the acceptable levels of arsenic in drinking water. Washington Post, March 30, 2001
- Cut funding by 28% for research into cleaner, more efficient cars and trucks. Washington Post, April 10, 2001
- Abandoned campaign pledge to invest $100 million for rain forest conservation. Boston Globe, April 10, 2001
- Rescinded proposal to increase public access to information about potential consequences resulting from chemical plant accidents. New York Times, March 27, 2001
- Cut $200 million for work force training for dislocated workers. Los Angeles Times, April 6, 2001
- Cut $700 million in capital funds for repairs in public housing. Washington Post, April 10, 2001
- Cut Environmental Protection Agency budget by $500 million. Washington Post, April 10, 2001
- Abandoned campaign pledge to regulate carbon dioxide (CO2) the waste gas that contributes to global warming. New York Times, March 20, 2001
- Interior Secretary Gale Norton goes forth with controversial plan to auction oil and gas development tracts off the coast eastern of Florida. Associated Press, April 19, 2001
- Announced intention to open up Montana�s Lewis and Clark National Forest to oil and drilling. Missoula Independent, April 12, 2001
- Proposes to redraw boundaries of nation monuments which would technically allow oil and gas drilling "outside" of national monuments.
- Gutted White House AIDS Office.
- Continues to hold up federal funding for stem cell research projects. Boston Globe, April 25, 2001
- Under Bush plan convicted misdemeanor drug users cannot get financial aid for college yet convicted murders could. American Prospect, April 20, 2001
- Refused to fund continued litigation of the government�s tobacco company lawsuit. Associated Press, April 26, 2001
- Proposed a $2 trillion tax cut of which 43% will go to the wealthiest 1% of Americans.
- Signed a bill making it harder for poor and middle class Americans to file for bankruptcy even in the instance of daunting medical bills.
- Is pushing for development of small nuclear weapons to attack deeply buried targets - weapons which would violate the Comprehensive test Ban Treaty. American Physical Society, April 22, 2001
- Proposes to reverse regulation protecting 60 million acres of national forest from logging and road building. Washington Post, April 26, 2001
- Eliminated funding for the "We the People" education program which taught schoolchildren about the Constitution, Bill of Rights and citizenship. St. Petersburg Times, May 1, 2001
- Cancelled 2004 deadline for automakers to develop prototype high-mileage cars. Mercury News, May 11th, 2001
- Nominated Harvey Pitts - lawyer for teen sex video distributor - to head SEC. Washington Post, May 11th, 2001
- Earmarked $4 million in new federal grant money for HIV and drug abuse prevention programs to go only to religious groups and not secular equivalents. Associated Press, May 16, 2001
- Proposes to ease permit process - including environmental considerations - for refinery, nuclear and hydroelectric dam construction. Washington Post, May 18, 2001
- Proposes to give government the authority to take private property through eminent domain for power lines. Washington Post, May 18, 2001
- Proposes that $1.2 billion in funding for alternative renewable energy come from selling oil and gas lease tracts in the Alaska National Wildlife Reserve. Washington Post, May 18, 2001
- In 2000 rode to the White House on the backs of disenfranchised elderly, Jewish, African-American, and immigrant voters in Florida.
. . . Read more!
posted by An Old Curmudgeon 9:13 AM
Interior Gives Go-Ahead on California Gold Mine
September 30, 2002
Defying both the U.S. Senate and the California Legislature, the Interior Department removed a key obstacle to development of the 1,570-acre open-pit Glamis gold mine on public land near Indian Pass in Imperial County. The action came days after the Senate adopted an amendment written by Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) that attempted to thwart the mine by prohibiting the use of federal funds to examine the site's potential or prepare a permit for it. Former Interior secretary Bruce Babbitt also tried to kill the project in January 2001, arguing that it would irreparably damage cultural and religious sites sacred to the Quechan Indian Tribe. But Interior Secretary Gale Norton gave the project new life last year when her department ruled that claims to develop the mine were valid. The decision was made after mineral experts determined that economic conditions and the site's ore deposits would support a profitable mine. Members of the Quechan Tribe were angered that the department announced the finding without consulting them.
. . . Read more!
posted by An Old Curmudgeon 8:31 AM
EPA's Lax Chemical Security Plan
The Natural Resources Defense Council
WASHINGTON (October 2, 2002) --
At a press event today, EPA Administrator Christie Whitman unveiled her agency's Strategic Plan for Homeland Security, which lays out EPA's role in meeting its homeland security responsibilities. Unfortunately, when it comes to protecting the public from the very real threat of a terrorist attack on the nation's chemical plants, EPA's plan is a complete failure. EPA's strategy amounts to little more than pleading for industry's voluntary efforts and hoping for the best. Apparently, EPA plans to "work with" industry associations to encourage them to implement security enhancements, and to develop guidance for corporations to consider in deciding how, if at all, to address their vulnerabilities to terror attack. Entirely missing is any requirement that at risk facilities actually do something to secure themselves and reduce their attractiveness as a potential target. The agency's approach is familiar; in recent weeks, EPA has issued two "Chemical Security Advisories," imploring companies to take extra care to guard against terrorism, but not demanding any action.
Why is the EPA (and the Bush administration) choosing a voluntary approach to this critical component of homeland security?
Maybe chemical plants aren't really dangerous. WRONG.
Maybe EPA doesn't have the authority to require companies to act. WRONG.
Maybe companies are doing a good job without regulation. WRONG.
Maybe EPA is working on other fronts to force companies to act. WRONG.
Much to the delight of industry, EPA has put forth a "do nothing" strategy for securing the nation's vulnerable chemical plants from possible terrorist attack. Feel free to contact NRDC for more information.
. . . Read more!
posted by An Old Curmudgeon 8:22 AM
Third Parties Hope to Raise Profile
Mon Nov 4 - By STEVE LeBLANC, Associated Press Writer
BOSTON (AP) - Libertarians, Greens and other third party candidates are on ballots across the nation this week as the parties strive to raise their national profile. In the state legislatures, third party and independent candidates are seeking about a fifth of the seats up for election � the largest number since the 1930s, according to Ballot Access News, which tracks third party candidates.
The push to break away from the two major parties shouldn't surprise anyone, said Ballot Access News publisher Richard Winger. "It's absurd to think that all the people in the United States are going to support the policies of the Republicans or the Democrats," he said. Among the 34 U.S. Senate races this year there are 27 minor party candidates, up slightly from 2000, Winger said.
. . . Read more!
posted by Hal 8:01 AM
San Francisco Peace March
(From the UP! 135, www.parallel-youniversity.com, October 30, 2002)
We had a peace march in SF on Sat. with over 80,000 people, and in Washington there were over 100,000. Spirits were high, intent on building movement and stopping war before it starts. . . . A call for Barbara Leeto run for president in 2004 came spontaneously from the crowd. She was the sole Congressperson to vote against first War Resolution against Afghanistan. . . . Ron Kovic, paraplegic vet of Vietnam War who wrote Born on the Fourth of July and about whom the Oliver Stone movie was made, gave a passionate speech calling this the most critical moment in world history. . . . Mike Farrell, the actor who played in Mash TV sitcom, added the concept of No Empire. . . . There was much mourning for Senator Paul Wellstone andquiet whispers of possible assassination.
Some signs included REGIME CHANGE HERE AT HOME and THE REAL AXIS OF EVIL - BUSH CHENEY, RUMSFELD AND ASHCROFT and NO WAR FOR OIL. . . . It was a thrilling and inspiring start of Resistance.
Allen Cohen/ San Francisco
. . . Read more!
posted by Lorenzo 9:49 AM
Signs seen at a recent peace demonstration in San Francisco
REGIME CHANGE HERE AT HOME
THE REAL AXIS OF EVIL - BUSH, CHENEY, RUMSFELD AND ASHCROFT
NO WAR FOR OIL.
. . . Read more!
posted by Lorenzo 9:44 AM
"I helped blow up a Bali nightclub by driving my SUV to work every day"
(Arianna Huffington, October 21, 2002)
The Bush team's ridiculous and wildly inflammatory anti-drug ads are still running in heavy rotation. You know the ads I'm talking about -- the ones where innocent-looking, middle-class teens admit their culpability for the consequences of the drug trade. "I helped blow up buildings," says one doe-eyed youth. . . . So if that is legitimate logic, and our president says that it is, I wonder if we might turn the tables on him by starting a little ad campaign of our own to sabotage another misguided Bush campaign: the War on Conservation. . . . So how about using the same shock-value tactics the administration uses in the drug war to confront the public with the ultimate -- and much more linearly linked -- consequences of their energy wastefulness? Imagine a soccer mom in a Ford Excursion (11 mpg city, 15 mpg highway) saying, "I'm building a nuclear bomb for Saddam Hussein." Or a mob of solo drivers toodling down the freeway at 75 mph shouting in unison, "We're buying weapons that will kill American soldiers, marines, and sailors! Yahoo!" . . . It's not just a fantasy. . . . I was delighted to hear that he already had two ad scripts ready to go. The first one feels like an old Slim Fast commercial. Instead of "I lost 50 pounds in two weeks" the ad cuts to different people in their SUVs: "I gassed 40,000 Kurds," "I helped hijack an airplane," "I helped blow up a nightclub," and then in unison: "We did it all by driving to work in our SUVs." . . . The second, which opens on a man at a gas station, features a cute kid's voice-over throughout: "This is George." Then we see a close up of a gas pump. "This is the gas George buys for his car." Next we see a guy in a suit. "This is the oil company executive who makes money on the gas George buys." Close up on Al-Qaeda training film footage: "This is the terrorist organization supported by money from the country where the oil company does business. " It's followed by footage of 9/11: "We all know what this is." And it closes on a wide shot of bumper to bumper traffic: "The biggest weapon of mass destruction is parked in your driveway." Pretty effective. . . . In Saudi Arabia, our second largest foreign supplier of oil, the money you spend at the pump over here pays for a feudal monarchy that gorges itself on excess while bankrolling terrorist mischief abroad with its support of suicide bombers. . . . But instead of applying the marketing skills it uses for its wrong-headed drug war to the eminently worthwhile cause of saving energy, Bush, Inc. has sided with the Enrons of the world to stifle energy-saving technology and keep America in an artificially prolonged state of dependence. . . . Of course, waiting for the Bush administration to get religion on energy conservation would be about as fruitful as waiting for Saddam to welcome U.S. inspectors to his palaces. It ain't gonna happen. Unless, that is, the public makes it happen. Anyone willing to pay for a people's ad campaign to jolt our leaders into reality?
TO MAKE IT HAPPEN, > THE NATURAL RESOURCES DEFENSE COUNCIL (NRDC> HAS OPENED A SPECIAL ACCOUNT FOR DONATIONS. SEND YOUR DONATIONS TO:
"SUV Ad Fund"
NRDC, c/o Jack Murray
40 W. 20th Street
New York, NY 10011.
. . . Read more!
posted by Lorenzo 9:37 AM
Homeland Security Alert System: Why Bother?
by Charles V. Pe�a - October 31, 2002
The latest FBI terror warning is that al Qaeda may be planning to attack passenger trains, "possibly using operatives who have a Western appearance." This is the second terrorist warning in the last two weeks. Previously, FBI Director Robert Mueller said that terrorists could strike soon while offering little assurance that his agency could thwart the next attack. And CIA Director George Tenet said that it was "unambiguous" that al Qaeda intends to strike the United States. Meanwhile, the homeland security advisory system -- which is supposed to "provide a comprehensive and effective means to disseminate information regarding the risk of terrorist acts to ... the American people" -- remains on yellow alert signifying a "significant risk of terrorist attacks." One would think that the advisory system would bear some resemblance to actual warnings. Not so. Since its inception in March, the color-coded homeland security advisory system has been nothing but government sound and fury signifying much of nothing. Ultimately, the homeland security advisory system is pointless and useless. And if it's any indication of how the proposed cabinet-level Office of Homeland Security will work, Americans have every reason to be concerned that the federal government will be able to do little to prevent another 9/11.
. . . Read more!
posted by An Old Curmudgeon 9:32 AM
May 9,2002 The Nation Paul Wellstone is a hunted man.
(John Nichols, The Nation, May 9, 2002)
Getting rid of Wellstone is a passion for Rove, Dick Cheney, George W. Bush and the special-interest lobbies that fund the most sophisticated political operation ever assembled by a presidential administration. "There are people in the White House who wake up in the morning thinking about how they will defeat Paul Wellstone," a senior Republican aide confides. "This one is political and personal for them." . . . His race is being read as a measure of the potency of progressive politics in America. If he wins, a blow will be struck not just against the Bush machine but against those in the Democratic Party who argue for tepid moderation.
[Editor's note: The above article was published on May 9, 2002. On October 25, 2002 Paul Wellstone, along with his wife, daughter and five others, were killed in a plane crash. How convenient that was for the Bush-Cheny junta. How sad it is for democracy.]
. . . Read more!
posted by Lorenzo 8:52 AM
President To Author: Your Book Is Unpatriotic
October 30, 2002
By KEVIN CANFIELD, Courant Staff Writer
As far as the nation knows, President Bush does not keep a Richard Nixon-style "enemies list." If he did, though, Gabe Hudson might well be on it. Hudson's new collection of short stories, "Dear Mr. President" (Knopf, $19), has made him a favorite of book critics, fellow writers and lots of readers. But the book, it seems, has had the opposite effect on the commander in chief. If Hudson is telling the truth - and there's no reason to think he isn't - Bush recently sent the young author a two-paragraph note, complete with his own review of "Dear Mr. President." "I was in shock. Very surprised," Hudson said Tuesday. "I didn't think it was real at first. I mean, who would? But once you hold the thing and read it, there's no doubt in your mind. I mean, nobody could fake the authority of that letter."
Bush's missive, however, was not fan mail.
"The letter began by thanking me for sending the book," Hudson said. "Also, I'm from Austin, Texas, and the president touched on the fact that I was a fellow Texan, congratulating me on my book. But he was setting me up for the one-two punch. Because he called the book unpatriotic and ridiculous and just plain bad writing. Beyond that, I've been instructed not to talk about the contents of the letter for the time being."
. . . Read more!
posted by An Old Curmudgeon 8:01 AM