War on Drugs
Crime Family News
Rights Under Attack
. . . about Chaos,
Reason, and Hope
Washington Times by Paul Craig Roberts
"Do you remember those Information Technology (IT) jobs that were going to take the place in the 'new economy' of those outsourced
manufacturing jobs? Don't bother to retrain. The IT jobs are leaving, too. Knowledge work can be done anywhere there are educated people. These days that's just about everywhere .... Outsourcing of 'new economy' jobs is exploding." (02/27/03)
. . . Read more!
posted by An Old Curmudgeon 10:53 AM
Bush Family Values Photo Album
For more than a half century, members of the Bush family have been setting policy and making decisions for all Americans. Let's look at the family that has had such an impact on the lives of human beings worldwide . . . grave robbing, Nazi connections, and more.
. . . Read more!
posted by Lorenzo 12:12 PM
57 Million More Americans Expected by 2050
ROCKVILLE, Maryland, February 24, 2003 (ENS) - The U.S. population will grow by 57 million people over the next 50 years, according to new projections from the Alliance for Sustainable Environmental Strategies.
The Alliance estimates that the U.S. population will grow from 281 million in 2000 to 338 million by 2050, if current patterns of fertility, mortality, and migration remain as they are today. That is the core findings of a new demographic analysis released by the Alliance, titled "The Population of the United States: 2050."
. . . Read more!
posted by West 9:34 AM
When the nation is in crisis, apply duct tape as shown:
. . . Read more!
posted by Lorenzo 2:07 PM
Bush's dirty little budget secret: $10 in new spending for every dollar in tax cuts
Bush has already expanded domestic programs more than twice as much as Clinton did: 18 percent vs. 8.2 percent. It seems there really is a difference between Democrats and Republicans: Democrats brag about their big-government instincts, while Republicans lie about theirs.
In plain English, something that is "cut" is supposed to get smaller. But in Republicanese, "tax cut" really means "spending increase." While some Americans will indeed get a small tax reduction now, they're going to pay for Bush's big-government agenda tomorrow, either through future tax hikes, more government borrowing, or both . . . Bush presented Congress with a $2.23 trillion budget for fiscal 2004 that boosts federal spending by 4.2 percent overall while setting a record deficit and providing targeted tax cuts. Bush's tiny tax cuts will be dwarfed by a massive increase in government spending over the next several years.
According to a budget analysis by the Cato Institute, Bush plans to increase federal outlays by $89 billion in 2004, $114 billion in 2005, and more than $100 billion in succeeding years. Bush budget contains $10 in new spending for every dollar in tax cuts.
The bottom line is that federal spending would be $571 billion per year higher in 2008 than in 2003. By that point, Bush's tax cuts would be reducing federal revenue by just $50 billion annually � meaning long-term spending increases outnumber tax cuts 10 to 1 . . . Clinton's 2000 budget called for spending $335 billion in fiscal 2004 on non-defense discretionary programs (excluding "entitlement" programs such as Medicare and Social Security). But Bush is now calling for nearly $100 billion more than that: $429 billion. In fact, Bush's spending plans are so extravagant that he makes former President Bill Clinton look frugal by comparison . . . Showing gratitude for Bush's tax cuts is like thanking a pickpocket for returning $10 of the $100 he just stole. This budget proves that Bush and his Republican colleagues are nothing more than political pickpockets � and that the American people are their unwitting victims.
Bush Budget Will Make Him the Biggest Spender in Decades
Bush proposes nearly $100 billion more in non-defense discretionary spending than Clinton . . . President Bush is the biggest spending president in decades. For FY2004, discretionary outlays will rise 3.5 percent, which follows increases of 7.8 percent in FY2003 and 13.1 percent in FY2002. Non-defense discretionary outlays will rise 3.2 percent in FY2004 following increases of 7.9 percent in FY2003 and 12.3 percent in FY2002.
- With Bush's budget plan for FY2004, real non-defense discretionary outlays will rise 18.0 percent in his first three years in office (FY2002-FY2004).
- Bush's spending increases dwarf proposed tax cuts.
- Only 2 of 21 major departments and agencies are cut.
- Almost $400 billion for state and local governments. State officials are demanding a federal government bailout to make up for their poor fiscal management.
. . . Read more!
posted by Hal 9:55 AM
Another Feather in Florida's Cap: To Serve and Protect
Sunbathers run over by police vehicle
Coralie Carlson - Associated Press - Feb. 24, 2003 SHT224
MIAMI BEACH, Fla. -- A French tourist was in critical condition early today, two days after her sister was killed when a police sport utility vehicle ran the women over as they sunbathed on a beach. Sandrine Tunc, 26, was in critical but stable condition in intensive care at Jackson Memorial Hospital, spokeswoman Conchita Ruiz-Topinka said. Her parents arrived in Miami late Sunday. Tunc and her sister, Stephanie, 27, were struck by the SUV as they lay on a crowded beach Saturday, authorities said. Officer George Varon apparently didn't see the two as he searched for robbery suspects who had been reported nearby. Varon, a seven-year veteran, was placed on administrative leave while the accident was under investigation. He wasn't using a siren and witnesses said the women didn't see his vehicle coming. Police said the vacationing sisters lived in Britain, but did not say where in Britain or where they were from in France. Few sunbathers were on the beach Sunday afternoon under overcast skies. Nothing remained at the accident scene except tire tracks.
****I wonder how Gov JEB is going to make this into a positive???****
. . . Read more!
posted by An Old Curmudgeon 6:59 AM
Hackers Run Wild and Free on AOL
(Christopher Null, WiredNews, February 21, 2003)
Using a combination of trade tricks and clever programming, hackers have thoroughly compromised security at America Online, potentially exposing the personal information of AOL's 35 million users. . . . Most at risk are screen names that hackers covet, like Graffiti, or single-word names like Steve. Also at risk are internal AOL accounts like TOSGeneral, which is used to monitor abuse reports. . . . While many of these hacks utilize programming bugs, most hackers are finding it far easier and quicker to get access or information simply by calling the company on the phone. . . . These so-called social engineering tactics involve calling AOL customer support centers and simply asking to have a given user's password reset. Logging in with the new password gives the intruder full access to the account. . . . In a telephone interview, two hackers using the handles Dan and Cam0 explained that security measures (such as verifying the last four digits of a credit card number) can be bypassed by mumbling. . . . Hakrobatik later proved he could compromise any AOL account armed only with its screen name. . . . "You can basically get any account information from AOL by just calling and pestering," hakrobatik said. . . . Of the latest AOL attacks, Adrian Lamo, renowned hacker and founder of disbanded watchdog site Inside-AOL, said: "It's unprecedented in the history of AOL. AOL employee education is centered around fake online communication. There's very little effort to guard against voice scams." . . . Why hasn't AOL let users know about the site's rampant security problems? "Every now and then something flashy happens, but AOL keeps it quiet pretty effectively," Lamo said. . . . They tend to employ technical countermeasures and otherwise ignore intruders," he said. "There's an oft-stated perception that no one has ever been busted for hacking an AOL account."
. . . Read more!
posted by Lorenzo 2:30 PM
President Bush should answer these 10 questions about his policy of waging war against Iraq. Although President Bush has made several attempts to explain why deposing Saddam Hussein is worth risking U.S. lives, millions of Americans remain unconvinced.
1. Isn�t it possible that invading Iraq will cause more terrorism than it prevents? Al-Qaeda has explicitly threatened to murder innocent Americans in retaliation for a U.S. raid on Iraq. Why hasn�t Mr. Bush addressed this possibility? General Wesley Clark, former NATO Supreme Allied Commander of Europe, says: "Attacking Iraq will detract from our primary mission against al-Qaeda, supercharge anti-American sentiment in the Arab street and boost al-Qaeda's recruiting.�
2. Why do you believe a U.S.-led �regime change� will do any more good in Iraq than it did in Panama, Haiti, or Bosnia? If the history of U.S. intervention is any guide, Bush will merely replace one dictator with another.
3. Why do you maintain that Iraq poses a more immediate threat than North Korea?
4. You say Saddam has refused to comply with U.N. weapons inspectors. Does that mean that you intend to subject Americans to U.N. mandates in the future? What happens when the UN decrees that it�s our turn to submit to a weapons inspection? Will Mr. Bush refuse such requests? (Hypocrite?) How could he comply without betraying U.S. sovereignty?
5. You point out that Iraq has weapons of mass destruction that �could� be turned over to terrorists. But couldn�t the same be said of Pakistan, North Korea, and dozens of other nations? And do you intend to launch pre-emptive strikes against them as well?
6. Considering that many of the September 11 hijackers were Saudi nationals � not Iraqis � why haven�t you publicly accused the Saudi government of sponsoring terrorism? Bush has struggled mightily to produce a link between Iraq and the 9/11 terrorists, while refusing to address allegations of Saudi complicity.
7. Why have you stopped mentioning the name of the one individual who has been most closely linked to the 9/11 attacks: Osama bin Laden? Is invading Iraq just Bush�s way of punishing Saddam Hussein for the crimes of bin Laden?
8. If Saddam is really a threat to the Middle East, why do his neighbors seem to fear him less than the U.S. government does?
9. Won�t attacking Iraq make Saddam more likely to launch a biological or chemical attack?
10. If your Iraq policy is so successful, why are Americans more afraid than ever? As the attack against Iraq draws near, the Homeland Security Department has raised the terrorist threat level to orange.
. . . Read more!
posted by Hal 5:01 AM
Democratic Rep. Kucinich to Run for President
ALTOONA, Iowa (Reuters) - Ohio Rep. Dennis Kucinich, one of the strongest voices in Congress against war in Iraq, said on Monday he would enter the race for the 2004 Democratic presidential nomination.
Check out Dennis Kucinich on the web at http://www.kucinich.net/
. . . Read more!
posted by West 7:04 AM
The best way to use duct tape
. . . Read more!
posted by Lorenzo 1:37 PM
Terror Alert Partly Based on Lies
(Len Tepper and Jill Rackmill, ABC News, February 19, 2003)
A key piece of the information leading to recent terror alerts was fabricated, according to two senior law enforcement officials in Washington and New York. . . . The informant described a detailed plan that an al Qaeda cell operating in either Virginia or Detroit had developed a way to slip past airport scanners with dirty bombs encased in shoes, suitcases, or laptops, sources told ABCNEWS. The informant reportedly cited specific targets of government buildings and Christian or clerical centers. . . . "This piece of that puzzle turns out to be fabricated and therefore the reason for a lot of the alarm, particularly in Washington this week, has been dissipated after they found out that this information was not true," said Vince Cannistraro, former CIA counter-terrorism chief and ABCNEWS consultant. . . . It was only after the threat level was elevated to orange � meaning high � last week, that the informant was subjected to a polygraph test by the FBI, officials told ABCNEWS. "This person did not pass," said Cannistraro. . . . Despite the fabricated report, there are no plans to change the threat level. Officials said other intelligence has been validated and that the high level of precautions is fully warranted.
[Comment: How convenient that the increased terrorist activity alert coincided with last weekend's Peace Demonstrations. Do you think the Bush-Cheney junta was trying to scare the demonstrators into staying home and duct taping themselves into their closets? Who in their right mind (which eliminates everyone in Washington) would believe that a nuclear bomb can be encased in a shoe?]
. . . Read more!
posted by Lorenzo 1:31 PM
GW Bush Went AWOL - Home Page
It's well documented that George W. Bush never showed up for National Guard duty for a period of approximately one year, possibly more, in 1972-1973. Despite all the talk about "honor and dignity," Bush seems to have a problem meeting his commitments. . . . Did you witness GW Bush performing any National Guard Service between May 1972 and October 1973, in either Alabama or Texas? If so, you could be eligible for thousands of dollars in unclaimed reward money!
AWOL----absent for 30 days or less.
Desertion-----absent for more than 30 days with evidence of no intent to return to duty.
Is he guilty of one or both? You read the facts here and decide.
This is not the story of a search for missing records. We have the pertinent records. . . . This is not a hunt for credible eyewitnesses and first hand statements. The officers involved have stepped forward. We have their testimony and we have the signed statements of those no longer living. . . . This is the story of how George Walker Bush walked away from a years duty while in the National Guard. . . . And, this is the story of how he has thus far gotten away with it.
[Comment: Our Commander-in-Thief is a deserter it seems.]
. . . Read more!
posted by Lorenzo 1:24 PM
More nonesense from Little Bush, our village idiot
"In other words, I don't think people ought to be compelled to make the decision which they think is best for their family."- Washington, D.C., Dec. 11, 2002
"There's no doubt in my mind that we should allow the world worst leaders to hold America hostage, to threaten our peace, to threaten our friends and allies with the world's worst weapons."-South Bend, Ind., Sept. 5, 2002
"We need an energy bill that encourages consumption."-Trenton, N.J., Sept. 23, 2002
"Do you have blacks, too?"-To Brazilian President Fernando Cardoso, Washington, D.C., Nov. 8, 2001
"My administration has been calling upon all the leaders in the-in the Middle East to do everything they can to stop the violence, to tell the different parties involved that peace will never happen."-Crawford, Texas, Aug, 13, 2001
"But I also made it clear to [Vladimir Putin] that it's important to think beyond the old days of when we had the concept that if we blew each other up, the world would be safe."-Washington, D.C., May 1, 2001
First, we would not accept a treaty that would not have been ratified, nor a treaty that I thought made sense for the country."- On the Kyoto accord in an interview with the Washington Post, April 24, 2001
If he's the inference is that somehow he thinks slavery is a-is a noble institution I would-I would strongly reject that assumption that John Ashcroft is a open-minded, inclusive person."-NBC Nightly News With Tom Brokaw, Jan. 14, 2001
"Natural gas is hemispheric. I like to call it hemispheric in nature because it is a product that we can find in our neighborhoods."-Austin, Texas, Dec. 20, 2000
The legislature's job is to write law. It's the executive branch's job to interpret law."-Austin, Texas, Nov. 22, 2000 [Note to those not familar with the U.S. Constitution: it is the JUDICIAL branch that once was tasked with interpreting the law. Apparently, Little Bush has now taken this over himself.]
They want the federal government controlling Social Security like it's some kind of federal program."-St. Charles, Mo., Nov. 2, 2000
Anyway, after we go out and work our hearts out, after you go out and help us turn out the vote, after we've convinced the good Americans to vote, and while they're at it, pull that old George W. lever, if I'm the one, when I put my hand on the Bible, when I put my hand on the Bible, that day when they swear us in, when I put my hand on the Bible, I will swear to not-to uphold the laws of the land."-Toledo, Ohio, Oct. 27, 2000
If I'm the president, we're going to have emergency-room care, we're going to have gag orders."
The best way to relieve families from time is to let them keep some of their own money."-Westminster, Calif., Sept. 13, 2000
. . . Read more!
posted by Lorenzo 4:42 PM
Wolfowitz Cabal' Is an Enemy Within U.S.
(September 14, 2002)
Here we will name the names of the fanatics in this anti-Iraq grouping who have become known as the "Wolfowitz cabal," named after Assistant Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz. According to the New York Times, which published a leak about their activities on Oct. 12, this grouping wants an immediate war with Iraq, believing that the targetting of Afghanistan, already an impoverished wasteland, falls far short of the global war that they are hoping for. But Iraq is just another stepping stone to turning the anti-terrorist "war" into a full-blown "Clash of Civilizations," where the Islamic religion would become the "enemy image" in a "new Cold War." . . . The "Clash of Civilizations" theory defined the Arab and Islamic world as an "arc of crisis" from the Middle East to the Islamic countries of Central Asia in the then-Soviet Union. Brzezinski wanted to use the "Islamic card" against the Soviet Union, and in so doing, began the policy of promoting Islamic fundamentalists against moderate and pro-Western Arab and Islamic governments. After the end of the Cold War, the Brzezinski/Huntington crowd updated their "arc of crisis," declaring that the Islamic religion is the enemy, in a new war in which religions, rather than political systems, inevitably battle each other. . . . The adherents of the so-called "Wolfowitz cabal," pushing the "Clash of Civilizations" theory, are nothing less than "an enemy within" the United States, a network that cuts across the Defense Department, the State Department, the White House, and the National Security Council. This report is not a "good guys" versus "bad guys" description of the Bush Administration; rather it is a warning that this cabal is a close-knit rogue network that is trying to hijack U.S. policy, and turn the current Afghanistan mess into a global war. . . . On Oct. 12, the New York Times revealed deep divisions in the Bush Administration, describing how the cabal plots policy behind the back of Cabinet officials, such as Secretary of State Colin Powell, in the name of the U.S. government. The group wants to obliterate Iraq, put Palestinian Authority President Yasser Arafat and the Palestinian Authority on the terrorism list (if not the obituary list), and declare war on nation-states. . . . The [New York] Times revealed that a key section of the "Wolfowitz cabal," is the 18-member Defense Policy Board, which met for more than 19 hours on Sept. 19-20 to "make the case" against Saddam Hussein. The meeting pushed for a renewed war against Iraq as soon as the war against Afghanistan had concluded its initial phase. It discussed overthrowing Saddam Hussein, partitioning Iraq into mini-states led by U.S.-funded dissidents who would steal the proceeds from the Basra oil revenues for their quisling government. The meeting discussed how to manipulate information so as to pin the Sept. 11 attacks on the United States on Saddam Hussein. . . . Though Perle was only recently appointed to head the Defense Policy Board, he and Wolfowitz have been collaborators for more than two decades, as agents-of-influence of the right-wing Israeli war faction. . . . The "Wolfowitz cabal" is deterimined to push the United States in the direction of the most dangerous Israeli right-wing policy, including a possible Israeli nuclear attack on an Arab state. . . . The "Wolfowitz cabal" is out to destroy any potential for a Middle East peace, and simultaneously is determined to crush Eurasian economic development centered around cooperation among Europe, Russia, and China. . . . Wolfowitz declared that the United States will "end states harboring terrorism," and insisted that under the principle of self-defense, the United States could act alone, without the United Nations, or cooperation from any other country. He wanted to establish the "doctrine" that the United States would hit a country "anywhere, anytime" based on secret evidence. . . . Also dispatched to London to propagandize for a "rolling war" that would attack Afghanistan, then Iraq, then country after country until revenge is exacted, was fellow Policy Board member Newt Gingrich. . . . Setting the pace for his team, Perle was the joint initiator with neo-con William Kristol of the Rupert Murdoch-funded Weekly Standard, of an open letter to President Bush, that, while ostensibly supporting the President in the war against terrorism, was, in fact, an ultimatum to support a "Clash of Civilizations" Thirty Years' War in the Middle East. Among the non-negotiable demands set forth in that letter was the overthrow of Saddam Hussein, "even if evidence does not link Iraq directly to the [Sept. 11] attack." . . . Wolfowitz is one of great hopes of right-wing extremists in Israel, including among the radical settlers movement, who are demanding the assassination of Arafat and the expulsion of all Palestinians from the Occupied Territories . . . A key member of the cabal is Richard Armitage, the number-two man in the U.S. State Department, who was investigated in the Iran-Contra scandal, and who is a longtime collaborator of Wolfowitz in the targetting of Iraq.
. . . Read more!
posted by Lorenzo 4:24 PM
What the war on Iraq will cost YOU as a TAXPAYER
(Edgar J. Steele, February 1, 2003)
So you support the impending war against Iraq, eh? Ok. That will be $2,500, please. . . . Oh, and that's just for this year. Then we have to rebuild Iraq, of course. Though we will need another $15,000 from you for that effort, the good news is that it will be spread out over the next decade or so. For now, we'll just add it to your share of the national debt, which is - let's see now - about $387,500 as of today. . . . And then there will be interest on the debt, of course. That totals $19,375 per year on your share of the current balance, assuming 5% interest. . . . Mind you, the space shuttle that just blew up cost your household only $32 ($2.1 billion to build plus $470 million for a single launch), but that doesn't include the loss of life. . . . Of course, the $17,500 you will spend knocking down Iraq and then picking it back up doesn't include the cost of human suffering, either. What is your son worth to you, if he is over there right now? What about all the Iraqis about to die? . . . $600 billion budget deficit for 2003? Huh? Well, I can clearly understand that figure when I realize that my little economic unit (household) is responsible for $7,500 of it. Of course, add in the $200 billion Iraqi war and the $100 billion economic stimulus package that Bush the Second is pushing, and my share of the deficit (and yours) grows to $11,250. And that doesn't include interest. Or the billions to fight AIDS in Africa. Or all that other stuff Bush outlined the other night. . . . Now, I don't know about you, but I would have trouble if I spent $11,250 more than I earn each and every year. . . . This new Homeland Security Department is costing you $462 in its first year alone. Feel safer? . . . Eventually, all American debt would be foreign owned. Right now, it's only about 40% in foreign hands. Eventually (and this day is much closer than you could possibly believe), the interest on the debt would consume every penny of the GDP. I say "would" only because the chickens will roost long before then. . . . There's only one single, logical, end result. The US dollar will become worthless. That's the only way the government (you and I) can possibly pay the interest, even, let alone the outstanding indebtedness. Hyperinflation. Already, the dollar has gone down 95% in a single century (thanks to the Federal Reserve, but that is another story altogether). 90% of that has occurred in my lifetime (3 cent stamps in 1950 and 37 cents today, don't forget). The dollar declined 30% just in the past year, in case you weren't paying attention. Notice the trend . . . The die is cast and there is no way out. No way. There is absolutely no way to pay the piper without making our currency worthless first. There is no other way to pay the interest, either, once the rates start to rise again. . . . That's why Bush the Second is spending like there is no tomorrow. He knows there isn't. . . . Since 1998, we have lost 2.4 million manufacturing jobs, thanks to NAFTA and GATT. During the same period, 1.7 million new government jobs were created. Bush is on pace to surpass those figures by a country mile. No free lunch, don't forget. Government consumes production. More deficit spending. More debt. . . . You won't even be able to buy groceries with your Social Security check. . . . The Great Depression will have a new, lesser, name before the upcoming economic carnage subsides. And I don't expect that to happen during what is left of my lifetime. America will fail economically, whether or not it is ravaged by foreign countries in retaliation for our imperialism or being stuck with worthless dollars...more likely, both.
. . . Read more!
posted by Lorenzo 3:47 PM
Anti-war Ohioan may run in 2004 / Rep. Kucinich tests presidential bid
(Edward Walsh, San Francisco Chronicle, February 18, 2003)
Rep. Dennis Kucinich, an outspoken critic of President Bush's Iraq policy, announced that he would file papers Tuesday to form an exploratory committee to seek his party's 2004 presidential nomination. . . . Calling himself "an FDR Democrat" who is running "to return the Democratic Party to its roots," Kucinich made the announcement at a labor-sponsored conference in Altoona, Iowa, where the nomination contest will begin next January at the Iowa caucuses. . . . Kucinich, 56, a four-term House member and former mayor of Cleveland, made clear that he would base his candidacy on an appeal to his party's most liberal members, particularly on the issue of possible war with Iraq. The Des Moines Register reported that he had received an enthusiastic reception Sunday from Democratic activists in Linn County, Iowa, as he declared, "Yes, I am a candidate for peace." . . . Long an advocate of a "Department of Peace" in the federal government, Kucinich is also the only Democratic member of Congress running for president who voted against the resolution giving Bush authority to take military action against Iraq, positioning him to challenge Dean as the leading opponent of war in the presidential field.
. . . Read more!
posted by Lorenzo 2:45 PM
Caligula and Bush: Two Wild and Crazy Guys
Caligula (37 - 41 AD)
Caius Caesar Germaniccus, Caligula (means "little boots") was mean and crazy. Caligula gave his horse a government position, had many killed - even some of his own family members. A year after taking over, Caligula began thinking he was a god and justified his incest with his sisters by citing Jupiter's liaison with his sister Juno. He threw wild banquets. . . . Caligula also became increasingly obsessed with killing for pleasure. He would feed slaves to his twelve pet lions when lion food was short, and he would have his guards kill people for the smallest reasons - like not smiling at him. Caligula would close down the granaries just for fun so the people would starve, and then would laugh as they rioted. Then he would set the army after them to beat them to death. "Let them hate me, as long as they fear me."
. . . and now the world's only empire is ruled by another Little Boots (little bush) . . . history seems hell-bent on repeating itself, and the end of another empire approaches.
. . . Read more!
posted by Lorenzo 3:53 PM
New York Protest Approached 1,000,000
(Liza Featherstone, AlterNet, February 16, 2003)
Protestors in New York City on Saturday were angry, not only because President Bush was making plans to wage a brutal war on Iraq, but because, five days earlier, a federal judge had upheld the city's right to deny organizers a permit for a march. . . . As a result, in an exhilarating expression of the anti-war movement's profound decentralization and spontaneity, peaceful demonstrators filled the streets, marching in whatever direction they could. . . . More than 70 illegal feeder marches � organized by everyone from NYC People of Color to NYC Labor Against the War to the GLAMericans for Peace (the latter decked out in glitter and feather boas, bearing signs like "Makeup Not War" and "Baby, I am the Bomb") set the tone for the day, though people quickly lost track of organizations and affinity groups, happily mingling with the festive multitudes. Try as they did � and they did, of course � police could not contain this protest. Taking over First, Second and Third avenues, from Midtown, extending past 80th Street, people of all ages chanted and marched, waving signs . . . There were probably well over one million people demonstrating in New York City on Saturday. Melbourne had kicked off the protest weekend with 150,000 people on Friday. At least a million turned out in London on Saturday. Protests took place in Syria, Brazil, Argentina, Canada, Bulgaria, Spain, France, Italy, Ireland, Indonesia, Uruguay, Germany, Greece, South Korea, Sweden, Switzerland, New Zealand, Malaysia, Thailand, Holland, Denmark, South Africa, Japan, Bangladesh, Bosnia, Hong Kong, Kashmir, Russia, China, Ecuador, India, Iceland, Egypt, Nigeria and even Antarctica. . . . Worldwide, Saturday's may have been the largest coordinated peace protest in history. . . . The day's protests were so massive that even the mainstream media were compelled to report on them.
. . . Read more!
posted by Lorenzo 2:28 PM
March 5th National Student Strike ... Books Not Bombs!
The National Youth and Student Peace Coalition (NYSPC) calls upon students on campuses across the United States to join us in a one-day student strike on March 5th, 2003.
As students and youth, our futures will be shaped by the actions that the Bush administration takes today. A US attack on Iraq will inevitably:
� Endanger the lives of US servicemen and women
� Increase the suffering of the Iraqi people while slaughtering thousands of innocent people
� Encourage terror attacks against the US around the world and at home
� Be used as an excuse to erode civil liberties
� Divert resources from education and social services
� Subvert historical precedent and international law
As students and youth, the future of this country, we are disturbed by the lack of attention paid to the real needs of Americans, especially education. Financial aid opportunities and family income are rapidly losing ground to the rising cost of higher education. *1 Low-income families are facing decreasing access to education. Student debt is increasing. *2 All while the US military budget steadily increases (12% from 2000 to 2002 *3).
We say NO! to this war of terror to increase American power and take control of strategic oil supplies.
Join us in a student strike March 5th to demand:
� End the drive for military action and economic sanctions that target the people of Iraq
� Fund education to ensure that everyone in the US has access to higher education
� Re-allocate military funds to eliminating poverty and building peace and home and abroad
� Declare opposition to the war
� Disclose and eliminate military research contracts
� Freeze or lower tuition and fees
� Transfer money for JROTC to college preparation and counseling and from ROTC to financial aid
The Bush Administration�s war on Iraq is a venture for control of the region and its oil supplies, not national security, democracy, or human rights. Our campuses provide implicit support for this through military research, recruiting, and ROTC programs. As students who value freedom, democracy, and our education we say: THERE IS AN ALTERNATIVE! The best way to improve our national security is to halt drives for illegal and immoral wars and redirect public funds from the military and arms trade to education and social services at home and humanitarian aid abroad. Take a stand with students across the nation on March 5th to build toward this collective vision.
. . . Read more!
posted by Lorenzo 1:29 PM
Playing the "Terrorism" Card
(Norman Solomon, Media Monitors Network, February 14, 2003)
These days, it's a crucial ace up Uncle Sam's sleeve. "Terrorism" is George W. Bush's magic card. . . . The word "terror" has become a linguistic staple in news media. For keeping the fearful pot stirred, it's better than the longer word "terrorism," which refers to an occasional event. The shortened word has an ongoing ring to it. At the end of February's first week, when Attorney General John Ashcroft announced an official hike in the warning code, the cable networks lost no time plastering "Terror Alert: High" signs on TV screens. . . . In his statement, Bin Laden made clear that he has never stopped viewing Hussein as an infidel. And the Iraqi dictator has continued to keep his distance from longtime foe Bin Laden. . . . In the propaganda end game prior to an all-out attack on Iraq, the Bush crew is playing a favorite card; as a word, terrorism can easily frighten the public and keep competing politicians at bay. And now, Washington's policymakers are on the verge of implementing a military attack that will, in effect, terrorize large numbers of Iraqi people. . . . Pentagon war plans, dubbed "Shock and Awe," call for sending many hundreds of missiles into Baghdad during the first day. Numerous articles in the daily British press have been decrying these plans. In contrast, with few exceptions, mainstream U.S. journalists have been shamefully restrained. . . . The people in control of U.S. foreign policy are now determined to treat 9/11 as a license -- their license -- to kill. . . . If seeing a "Terror Alert: High" sign on your TV screen makes you feel edgy, imagine what it's like to be living in Baghdad or Basra. For people in the United States, the odds that terrorism will strike close to home are very small compared to the chances that any particular Iraqi family will be decimated before summer. . . . few journalists show much inclination to ruffle the feathers of the hawkish gang that rules the roost in Washington. So, let's stop waiting for others to rise to the occasion. If we want to get an authentic debate going, we'll need to do it ourselves.
. . . Read more!
posted by Lorenzo 4:14 PM
Latest terror alert proves government has failed at its most basic mission
When discussing the proper role of government, there is a lot of disagreement among Americans. But, one of the most agreed upon functions is national defense.
"Why are Americans who have been forced to fork over hundreds of billions of dollars for tanks, missiles and other high-tech weaponry now being told to defend themselves with duct tape and plastic sheets? Because the government has failed to perform one of its most basic � and least controversial � functions: defending the nation from armed aggression."
The heightened terror alert is actually a "Government Incompetence Alert," Libertarians say, because the government is admitting that it cannot perform its most basic function: national defense. "What's truly alarming is that a government that will confiscate $2.2 trillion from its citizens this year is powerless to protect them," said Libertarian Party Chair Geoffrey Neale.
*** The US government wastes money interfering and meddling in other nations' affairs, creating more worldwide hatred against Americans. The government plays policeman-of-the-world as a bully, waging war against weaker nations. But, when it comes to real "defense" of the United States of America -- it is incompetent. The US government takes its eye off the ball, leaving our country undefended. ***
The directors of the CIA and FBI described new threats from al-Qaeda and raised the terrorist threat level from yellow to orange. Federal officials are urging that Americans to stockpile food and water, make arrangements for contacting family members during an emergency, and buy duct tape and plastic sheeting to seal homes in the event of a chemical or biological attack. But all of these warnings would be unnecessary if the government were doing its job.
Like most government failures, this one is expensive. This year the Defense Department budget will be at least $365 billion. Shouldn't politicians explain why we aren't very well defended? ... The Department of Homeland Security will cost $36.2 billion. Shouldn't politicians explain why we aren't very secure? ... Taxpayers will also shell out an estimated $30 billion for the CIA, $4.3 billion for the FBI, and $3.5 billion for the National Security Agency.
Yet after spending nearly a half-trillion a year on these defense agencies, the nation seems less secure than ever. Instead of cavalierly issuing more terror alerts, politicians should hang their heads in shame and apologize to the American people for this monumental failure to do their jobs.
. . . Read more!
posted by Hal 2:56 PM
We Stand Passively Mute
(US Senator Robert Byrd, Senate Floor Speech, 12 February 2003)
"To contemplate war is to think about the most horrible of human experiences. On this February day, as this nation stands at the brink of battle, every American on some level must be contemplating the horrors of war.
Yet, this Chamber is, for the most part, silent -- ominously, dreadfully silent. There is no debate, no discussion, no attempt to lay out for the nation the pros and cons of this particular war. There is nothing.
We stand passively mute in the United States Senate, paralyzed by our own uncertainty, seemingly stunned by the sheer turmoil of events. Only on the editorial pages of our newspapers is there much substantive discussion of the prudence or imprudence of engaging in this particular war.
And this is no small conflagration we contemplate. This is no simple attempt to defang a villain. No. This coming battle, if it materializes, represents a turning point in U.S. foreign policy and possibly a turning point in the recent history of the world.
This nation is about to embark upon the first test of a revolutionary doctrine applied in an extraordinary way at an unfortunate time. The doctrine of preemption -- the idea that the United States or any other nation can legitimately attack a nation that is not imminently threatening but may be threatening in the future -- is a radical new twist on the traditional idea of self defense. It appears to be in contravention of international law and the UN Charter. And it is being tested at a time of world-wide terrorism, making many countries around the globe wonder if they will soon be on our -- or some other nation's -- hit list. High level Administration figures recently refused to take nuclear weapons off of the table when discussing a possible attack against Iraq. What could be more destabilizing and unwise than this type of uncertainty, particularly in a world where globalism has tied the vital economic and security interests of many nations so closely together? There are huge cracks emerging in our time-honored alliances, and U.S. intentions are suddenly subject to damaging worldwide speculation. Anti-Americanism based on mistrust, misinformation, suspicion, and alarming rhetoric from U.S. leaders is fracturing the once solid alliance against global terrorism which existed after September 11.
Here at home, people are warned of imminent terrorist attacks with little guidance as to when or where such attacks might occur. Family members are being called to active military duty, with no idea of the duration of their stay or what horrors they may face. Communities are being left with less than adequate police and fire protection. Other essential services are also short-staffed. The mood of the nation is grim. The economy is stumbling. Fuel prices are rising and may soon spike higher.
This Administration, now in power for a little over two years, must be judged on its record. I believe that that record is dismal.
In that scant two years, this Administration has squandered a large projected surplus of some $5.6 trillion over the next decade and taken us to projected deficits as far as the eye can see. This Administration's domestic policy has put many of our states in dire financial condition, under funding scores of essential programs for our people. This Administration has fostered policies which have slowed economic growth. This Administration has ignored urgent matters such as the crisis in health care for our elderly. This Administration has been slow to provide adequate funding for homeland security. This Administration has been reluctant to better protect our long and porous borders.
In foreign policy, this Administration has failed to find Osama bin Laden. In fact, just yesterday we heard from him again marshaling his forces and urging them to kill. This Administration has split traditional alliances, possibly crippling, for all time, International order-keeping entities like the United Nations and NATO. This Administration has called into question the traditional worldwide perception of the United States as well-intentioned, peacekeeper. This Administration has turned the patient art of diplomacy into threats, labeling, and name calling of the sort that reflects quite poorly on the intelligence and sensitivity of our leaders, and which will have consequences for years to come.
Calling heads of state pygmies, labeling whole countries as evil, denigrating powerful European allies as irrelevant -- these types of crude insensitivities can do our great nation no good. We may have massive military might, but we cannot fight a global war on terrorism alone. We need the cooperation and friendship of our time-honored allies as well as the newer found friends whom we can attract with our wealth. Our awesome military machine will do us little good if we suffer another devastating attack on our homeland which severely damages our economy. Our military manpower is already stretched thin and we will need the augmenting support of those nations who can supply troop strength, not just sign letters cheering us on.
The war in Afghanistan has cost us $37 billion so far, yet there is evidence that terrorism may already be starting to regain its hold in that region. We have not found bin Laden, and unless we secure the peace in Afghanistan, the dark dens of terrorism may yet again flourish in that remote and devastated land.
Pakistan as well is at risk of destabilizing forces. This Administration has not finished the first war against terrorism and yet it is eager to embark on another conflict with perils much greater than those in Afghanistan. Is our attention span that short? Have we not learned that after winning the war one must always secure the peace?
And yet we hear little about the aftermath of war in Iraq. In the absence of plans, speculation abroad is rife. Will we seize Iraq's oil fields, becoming an occupying power which controls the price and supply of that nation's oil for the foreseeable future? To whom do we propose to hand the reigns of power after Saddam Hussein?
Will our war inflame the Muslim world resulting in devastating attacks on Israel? Will Israel retaliate with its own nuclear arsenal? Will the Jordanian and Saudi Arabian governments be toppled by radicals, bolstered by Iran which has much closer ties to terrorism than Iraq?
Could a disruption of the world's oil supply lead to a world-wide recession? Has our senselessly bellicose language and our callous disregard of the interests and opinions of other nations increased the global race to join the nuclear club and made proliferation an even more lucrative practice for nations which need the income?
In only the space of two short years this reckless and arrogant Administration has initiated policies which may reap disastrous consequences for years.
One can understand the anger and shock of any President after the savage attacks of September 11. One can appreciate the frustration of having only a shadow to chase and an amorphous, fleeting enemy on which it is nearly impossible to exact retribution.
But to turn one's frustration and anger into the kind of extremely destabilizing and dangerous foreign policy debacle that the world is currently witnessing is inexcusable from any Administration charged with the awesome power and responsibility of guiding the destiny of the greatest superpower on the planet. Frankly many of the pronouncements made by this Administration are outrageous. There is no other word.
Yet this chamber is hauntingly silent. On what is possibly the eve of horrific infliction of death and destruction on the population of the nation of Iraq -- a population, I might add, of which over 50% is under age 15 -- this chamber is silent. On what is possibly only days before we send thousands of our own citizens to face unimagined horrors of chemical and biological warfare -- this chamber is silent. On the eve of what could possibly be a vicious terrorist attack in retaliation for our attack on Iraq, it is business as usual in the United States Senate.
We are truly "sleepwalking through history." In my heart of hearts I pray that this great nation and its good and trusting citizens are not in for a rudest of awakenings.
To engage in war is always to pick a wild card. And war must always be a last resort, not a first choice. I truly must question the judgment of any President who can say that a massive unprovoked military attack on a nation which is over 50% children is "in the highest moral traditions of our country". This war is not necessary at this time. Pressure appears to be having a good result in Iraq. Our mistake was to put ourselves in a corner so quickly. Our challenge is to now find a graceful way out of a box of our own making. Perhaps there is still a way if we allow more time.
. . . Read more!
posted by Lorenzo 1:55 PM
Vote To Impeach Bush
[Click the above link to vote for impeachment.]
The U.S. Constitution provides the means for preventing George W. Bush from engaging in a war of aggression against Iraq, and from advancing a first strike potentially nuclear preemptive war. It's called impeachment.
High Crimes and Misdemeanors
Impeachment is the direct constitutional means for removing a President, Vice President or other civil officers of the United States who has acted or threatened acts that are serious offenses against the Constitution, its system of government, or the rule of law, or that are conventional crimes of such a serious nature that they would injure the Presidency if there was no removal.
A Constitutional Imperative
Impeachment appears six times in the U.S. Constitution. The Founders weren't concerned with anything more than with impeachment because they had lived under King George III and had in 1776 accused the king of all the things that George W. Bush wants to do: Usurpation of the power of the people; Being above the law; Criminal abuse of authority.
Power Remains in the Hands of the People
Impeachment is the means by which We The People of the United States and our elected representatives in Congress can prevent further crimes by the President and the human catastrophe they threaten and force accountability for crimes committed.
Save the Constitution, the U.N., and Countless Human Lives
Congressional proceedings for impeachment can bring about open, fearless consideration of the most dangerous acts and threats ever committed by an American President. If courageously pursued, they can save our Constitution, the United Nations, the rule of law, the lives of countless people and leave open the possibility of peace on earth.
The Time for Action is Now
Each of us must take a stand on impeachment now, or bear the burden of having failed to speak in this hour of maximum peril.
. . . Read more!
posted by Lorenzo 10:41 AM
Get Up, Stand Up and Be Counted
(Robert Jensen, ZNet, February 3, 2003)
The question that people in Porto Alegre did ask me was simple: What are people of conscience in the United States -- what am I -- doing to stop the U.S. government, especially in its mad drive to war in Iraq? . . . The United States is an empire, and -- as has been the case throughout history -- empires are a threat to peace and life and justice in the world. There is no such thing as a benevolent empire. . . . What are we willing to do to stop our government? What are those of us in the heart of the beast doing to tame that beast? . . . The United States is preparing for a war in Iraq that virtually the entire world opposes. No matter how brutal the regime of Saddam Hussein, the world understands that even more threatening is the empire unleashed and unrestrained. . . . We are the first citizens of the empire. In the past, empires had subjects. But we are truly citizens, with freedom of expression and rights of political participation that aren't perfect but are real. With those freedoms comes a responsibility, to use them to stop our government from pursuing a war that will kill and destroy innocents while further entrenching U.S. power in the Middle East and U.S. control over the strategically crucial oil resources there. . . . We have a choice. We can hide from our responsibility. Or we can stand up, speak up, organize, and join the people of the world in movements to challenge the powerful, to resist the empire. . . . To take the side of the empire is to give into our fear, to cast our lot with the past. To resist the empire is to grab onto hope, to cast our lot with the future. . . . We are Americans, but if we choose to resist we are not the American empire. And if we do resist, there is a world we can join, a world that is waiting for us.
. . . Read more!
posted by Lorenzo 10:26 AM
Teen shot by DEA agents dies in hospital
HoustonChronicle.com - Associated Press
SAN ANTONIO -- A teenage girl, shot and killed by federal drug agents, was a victim of excessive force from law officers who were investigating her father, relatives and friends say. Ashley Villarreal, 14, died on Tuesday evening after family members requested that she be taken off life support at Wilford Hall Medical Center. A friend challenged Drug Enforcement Administration officials' account of how agents on Sunday had shot the daughter of Joey Angel Villarreal, a three-time convicted drug offender who turned himself in and was charged with cocaine trafficking a day after the shooting. Ashley Villarreal had been hospitalized in critical condition since being shot once in the back of the head. One of the agents at a drug stakeout in plain clothes and unmarked vehicles were watching a house on the city's west side where they believed a suspect was hiding when they saw a man get into the passenger side of a car, San Antonio police Sgt. Gabe Trevino said. Trevino said the man was not the drug suspect agents were seeking, but he was booked into jail on a charge of public intoxication. Daniel Robles, a family friend and housemate who was with the teenager during the stakeout, said the unmarked vehicles that emerged moments after the girl pulled out of the driveway appeared to be pursuing her. Investigators from the DEA arrived Tuesday afternoon to begin reviewing the death. San Antonio police officers continued their investigation, questioning the shooting victim's grandmother. Robles said the agents opened fire immediately after the crash and didn't identify themselves until afterward. "The first shot was fired and Ashley didn't say a word," he said. "She didn't scream or anything and I knew she was hit with the first shot." "How could they feel threatened when we were jammed in between (their vehicles) like a sandwich?" he said.
Law officers declined to respond [imagine that] to Robles' version or to discuss details of the case Tuesday, citing the pending investigation [the catch-all phrase that really means "we'll wait for the natives to quiet down and then quietly close the case]. Robles said that after the gunfire, the agents pulled him out through the passenger side and handcuffed him. Then they reached in and lay Ashley on the grassy curb. "They knew. I could see it. They had made a big mistake," Robles said.
****Family dog in Tenn - 14 year old hispanic girl in San Antonia - doesn't seem to make much difference to "peace officers" anymore. I got $10 says they white-wash this just like they did in Tennessee - at least the shooter in San Antonia didn't smile to his partners afterwards...I'll also bet they don't bother to identify the shooter [can't reveal the identity of an undercover agent - wouldn't be prudent]...being in law enforcement is getting to be an embarrassing profession - like being a lawyer, or proctologist (is there a difference??) - sorry didn't mean to pick on of Proctologists****
. . . Read more!
posted by An Old Curmudgeon 9:16 AM
Panel approves ban on cloning
By Amy Fagan - THE WASHINGTON TIMES
Legislation to ban human cloning for any purpose, including medical research, was approved yesterday on a party-line vote by the House Judiciary Committee. Committee Chairman F. James Sensenbrenner Jr., Wisconsin Republican, said House Republican leaders will bring the bill to the House floor the week of Feb. 24. A ban on human cloning has received widespread support, but lawmakers are divided over whether to allow "therapeutic cloning" for medical research. Advocates say the stem cells derived from this procedure could be the key to curing a host of diseases, and complain the bill would stop research in its tracks. Supporters of the bill say therapeutic cloning creates human embryos and that human life should not be created and destroyed in the name of medical research. "Allowing the creation of human embryos for experimental research is unethical and unnecessary," said Rep. Dave Weldon, Florida Republican and sponsor of the bill. The panel approved the legislation in a 19-12 vote, with Republicans in favor and Democrats opposing. Democrats said bill supporters were trying to force their religious views on the rest of the country.
***I've long been an adherent to the theory that there will be a religious war within the US between the fanatical and the logical (as opposed to the Christian/Islam war that is gearing up). Legislation such as this is irresponsible to the survival of the human race. Why would you willingly limit research that could save you, or your children, from diseases or biological atrocities? Isn't that being somewhat short-sighted? Are they saying that it "would be God's will" when the human race suffers when it did not have to if they had been allowed to do research? This is why so many have so much trouble with organized religion - they don't know when to stick to spiritual support and when to stay out of the lives of those who do not believe as they do. But it's more "satisfying" to force your righteousness on others...GMAFB but, that's just this old Curmudgeon's PERSONAL opinion****
. . . Read more!
posted by An Old Curmudgeon 8:58 AM
Retailers begin taxing online buys
By Anne D�Innocenzio - Dayton Daily News (AP)
NEW YORK | Some major retailers this week began voluntarily charging online sales taxes in 37 states and the District of Columbia, a move that could reshape the way business is done on the Web. Retailers, such as Wal-Mart, Toys ��R�� Us and Target, hope their first steps will help bolster the states� effort to mandate online sales taxes, leveling the playing field between themselves and Internet-only rivals. Under current laws, catalog companies and pure online retailers only have to charge sales taxes in states where they have operations, such as a warehouse or distribution facility. Nationwide brick-and-mortar retailers say this puts them at a disadvantage in states where catalog and Internet-only companies do not have operations. ��We can�t have a system that discriminates some vendors in favor of others,�� said Frank Shafroth, director of state-federal relations for the National Governors Association, he said. ��Why should there be a double standard?�� The states are eager to plug their budget shortfalls with help from Internet sales taxes. Last year, Internet sales ballooned to $79 billion, or about 3 percent of all retail sales, according to Forrester Research. Attorney John Coalson, who represented the merchants, said he expects five more states to join in the 37-state program begun this week. However, representatives of 34 states and the District of Columbia met in Tampa last month to discuss taxing Internet sales. Those states are Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, New Jersey, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin and Wyoming. Alaska, Delaware, Montana, New Hampshire, and Oregon do not collect sales tax.
****I've not been in a Wal-Mart in over 6 years, and they've just guaranteed that I will never again walk thru those doors...Like the EU, there seems to be a concerted (though below-the-radar) effort to eliminate "state" identity. Pretty soon there will be no difference between the states - and states that now have no state income tax (like Florida) will conform to the majority. It's the beginning of the homogenization of the US.****
. . . Read more!
posted by An Old Curmudgeon 8:42 AM
George W. Bush Must Answer to the People
Vote To Impeach
The anti-war movement has now inaugurated a campaign to impeach George W. Bush and other senior U.S. government officials for their criminal conduct. The planned war against Iraq and the destruction of constitutionally protected rights at home are the grounds for impeachment. The U.S. Constitution provides the means for preventing George W. Bush from engaging in a war of aggression against Iraq, and from advancing a first strike potentially nuclear preemptive war. It's called impeachment. Impeachment is the direct constitutional means for removing a President, Vice President or other civil officers of the United States who has acted or threatened acts that are serious offenses against the Constitution, its system of government, or the rule of law, or that are conventional crimes of such a serious nature that they would injure the Presidency if there was no removal. The articles of impeachment, drafted by former Attorney General Ramsey Clark, are the basis for a grassroots effort to remove Bush from office as we organize to stop the war. Please visit the site http://www.VoteToImpeach.org and cast your vote to Impeach Bush. Let your family members, friends and co-workers learn about the movement to impeach George Bush for high crimes and misdemeanors.
***As if this is going to phase The Shrub - if the Constitution won't stop him, what makes an ex-government official think he can...IF Congress could be persuaded to even consider it, by the time things got moving, half the world will be radioactive...***
. . . Read more!
posted by An Old Curmudgeon 8:15 AM
Even in Wartime, Stealth and Democracy Do Not Mix
By Charles Lewis - The Center for Public Integrity
WASHINGTON, Feb. 12, 2003 -- A few days ago, the Center for Public Integrity obtained a copy of draft legislation that the Bush Administration has quietly prepared as a bold, comprehensive sequel to the USA Patriot Act. This proposed law would give the government breathtaking new powers to further increase domestic intelligence-gathering, surveillance and law enforcement prerogatives, and simultaneously decrease judicial review and public access to information. We took the unprecedented (for us) step of posting the entire bill on our Web site. Why? Because democracy is supposed to be a contact sport, with many and diverse participants, and we quickly discovered that practically no one on Capitol Hill in either party or in the national news media had ever even heard of the Domestic Security Enhancement Act of 2003, much less read it. Senate inquiries about the likelihood of �Patriot II� legislation have been publicly and privately rebuffed for months, dozens of specific written questions to the Justice Department about implementation of the first Patriot Act simply never answered. In a national crisis atmosphere of fear, paranoia and patriotism in the wake of September 11th, the Bush Administration introduced and got the Patriot Act enacted into law almost unanimously in just a few weeks, warp speed for Congress. The Senate Judiciary Committee had an hour and a half hearing in which Attorney General John Ashcroft testified but took no questions. In the House, meanwhile, there was no testimony from opponents of the bill. So now, with troops amassing on the border of Iraq, we learn that for months the staff of Attorney General John Ashcroft has been secretly planning another tectonic shift in the historic constitutional balance between security and liberty, further encroachments against the hard-earned, legally protected, right-to-know about our government in this country. Was the Bush Administration waiting for the bombs bursting in Baghdad to spring this latest, urgent, national security legislation on the American people and Congress, another drive-by mooting of our customary democratic discourse and deliberative processes? I don�t know, but it is certainly not an unfair question to ask, given recent events. What seemed to be merely self-serving shenanigans by the latest occupant of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue in the months prior to September 11th actually now appears to have been the dawn�s early light of a wholesale assault on access to information in this country.
It was before the worst terrorist act on American soil that George W. Bush, in his last hours as governor of Texas, had his official records packed up and shipped to his father�s presidential library, attempting to remove them from the usual custody of the Texas State Library and Archives and the strong Texas public information law. Similarly, so was Vice President Richard Cheney�s refusal to release basic information about his meetings with energy company campaign contributors on government time and property. So was the secret Justice Department subpoena of Associated Press reporter John Solomon�s telephone records to attempt to learn the identity of a confidential source. The Reporters Committee found that �the Justice Department did not negotiate with Solomon or his employer, did not say why the reporter�s phone records were essential to a criminal investigation, and did not explain why the information could not be obtained any other way.� But now, with the full text online of the new Domestic Security Enhancement Act of 2003, perhaps there can actually be a public conversation about these measures.
I don�t know why this President and his appointees have such an unhealthy, Nixonian obsession with secrecy, such disdain for providing information to the public. Arrogantly stonewalling and stiff-arming entirely reasonable requests for information from Congress and journalists merely stoke the fires of skepticism, suspicion and distrust.
. . . Read more!
posted by An Old Curmudgeon 7:21 AM
Kurt Vonnegut: Little Bush Is Destroying the U.S.
(Joel Bleifuss, In These Times, February 10, 2003)
I myself feel that our country, for whose Constitution I fought in a just war, might as well have been invaded by Martians and body snatchers. Sometimes I wish it had been. What has happened, though, is that it has been taken over by means of the sleaziest, low-comedy, Keystone Cops-style coup d�etat imaginable. And those now in charge of the federal government are upper-crust C-students who know no history or geography, plus not-so-closeted white supremacists, aka �Christians,� and plus, most frighteningly, psychopathic personalities, or �PPs.� . . . What has allowed so many PPs to rise so high in corporations, and now in government, is that they are so decisive. Unlike normal people, they are never filled with doubts, for the simple reason that they cannot care what happens next. Simply can�t. Do this! Do that! Mobilize the reserves! Privatize the public schools! Attack Iraq! Cut health care! Tap everybody�s telephone! Cut taxes on the rich! Build a trillion-dollar missile shield! Fuck habeas corpus and the Sierra Club and In These Times, and kiss my ass!
. . . Read more!
posted by Lorenzo 11:27 AM
Son of the Patriot Act ... Little Bush Expands His Terrorist Activities
(Charles Lewis and Adam Mayle, The Public i, February 7, 2003)
The Bush Administration is preparing a bold, comprehensive sequel to the USA Patriot Act passed in the wake of September 11, 2001, which will give the government broad, sweeping new powers to increase domestic intelligence-gathering, surveillance and law enforcement prerogatives, and simultaneously decrease judicial review and public access to information. . . . a copy of the bill was sent to Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert and Vice President Richard Cheney on Jan. 10, 2003 . . . Dr. David Cole, Georgetown University Law professor and author of "Terrorism and the Constitution," reviewed the draft legislation at the request of the Center, and said that the legislation "raises a lot of serious concerns. It's troubling that they have gotten this far along and they've been telling people there is nothing in the works." This proposed law, he added, "would radically expand law enforcement and intelligence gathering authorities, reduce or eliminate judicial oversight over surveillance, authorize secret arrests, create a DNA database based on unchecked executive 'suspicion,' create new death penalties, and even seek to take American citizenship away from persons who belong to or support disfavored political groups." . . . While many people charged with drug offenses punishable by prison terms of 10 years or more are held before their trial without bail, this provision would create a comparable statute for those suspected of terrorist activity. . . . whereas a citizen formerly had to state his intent to relinquish his citizenship, the new law affirms that his intent can be "inferred from conduct." Thus, engaging in the lawful activities of a group designated as a "terrorist organization" by the Attorney General could be presumptive grounds for expatriation. . . . Cole found it disturbing that there have been no consultations with Congress on the draft legislation. "It raises a lot of serious concerns and is troubling as a generic matter that they have gotten this far along and tell people that there is nothing in the works. What that suggests is that they're waiting for a propitious time to introduce it, which might well be when a war is begun. At that time there would be less opportunity for discussion and they'll have a much stronger hand in saying that they need these right away."
. . . Read more!
posted by Lorenzo 11:20 AM
Why the U.S. terror alert level was raised
The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobglobins, all of them imaginary.
--H. L. Mencken
. . . Read more!
posted by Lorenzo 6:19 PM
If You Want To Win An Election, Just Control The Voting Machines
(Thom Hartmann, truthout.org, 31 January 2003)
Perhaps, after a half-century of fine-tuning exit polling to such a science that it's now sometimes used to verify how clean elections are in Third World countries, it really did suddenly become inaccurate in the United States in the past six years and just won't work here anymore. Perhaps it's just a coincidence that the sudden rise of inaccurate exit polls happened around the same time corporate-programmed, computer-controlled, modem-capable voting machines began recording and tabulating ballots. . . . You'd think there would be a paper trail of the vote, which could be followed and audited if a there was evidence of voting fraud or if exit polls disagreed with computerized vote counts. You'd be wrong. . . . Republican U.S. Senator Chuck Hagel was the head of, and continues to own part interest in, the company that owns the company that installed, programmed, and largely ran the voting machines that were used by most of the citizens of Nebraska. . . . Back when Hagel first ran there for the U.S. Senate in 1996, his company's computer-controlled voting machines showed he'd won stunning upsets in both the primaries and the general election. The Washington Post (1/13/1997) said Hagel's "Senate victory against an incumbent Democratic governor was the major Republican upset in the November election." According to Bev Harris of www.blackboxvoting.com, Hagel won virtually every demographic group, including many largely Black communities that had never before voted Republican. Hagel was the first Republican in 24 years to win a Senate seat in Nebraska. . . . What Hagel's website fails to disclose is that about 80 percent of those votes were counted by computer-controlled voting machines put in place by the company affiliated with Hagel. Built by that company. Programmed by that company. . . . Bev Harris of www.talion.com and www.blackboxvoting.com has looked into the situation in depth and thinks Matulka may be on to something. The company tied to Hagel even threatened her with legal action when she went public about his company having built the machines that counted his landslide votes. (Her response was to put the law firm's threat letter on her website and send a press release to 4000 editors, inviting them to check it out. www.blackboxvoting.com/election-systems-software.html) . . . "I suspect they're getting ready to do this all across all the states," Matulka said in a January 30, 2003 interview. "God help us if Bush gets his touch screens all across the country," he added, "because they leave no paper trail. These corporations are taking over America, and they just about have control of our voting machines." . . . In the meantime, exit-polling organizations have quietly gone out of business, and the news arms of the huge multinational corporations that own our networks are suggesting the days of exit polls are over. Virtually none were reported in 2002, creating an odd and unsettling silence that caused unease for the many American voters who had come to view exit polls as proof of the integrity of their election systems. . . . Meanwhile, back in Nebraska, Charlie Matulka had requested a hand count of the vote in the election he lost to Hagel. He just learned his request was denied because, he said, Nebraska has a just-passed law that prohibits government-employee election workers from looking at the ballots, even in a recount. The only machines permitted to count votes in Nebraska, he said, are those made and programmed by the corporation formerly run by Hagel. . . . "If you want to win the election," he finally said, "just control the machines."
[Comment: Little Bush's police state depends on us sheep to go along with things like this. Isn't it about time for you to stand up and be counted?]
. . . Read more!
posted by Lorenzo 5:54 PM
Corporations, War, and You
(Russell Mokhiber and Robert Weissman, ZNet.org, February 7, 2003)
One thing is clear about the Bush administration's current rush to war: It has nothing to do with protecting U.S. security. . . . the CIA says that Iraq does not pose a terrorist threat to the United States -- although it might, the CIA warns, if the United States launches an attack. . . . It should go without saying that the Bush administration, like administrations before it, obsesses about the Persian Gulf because it sits atop the world's largest oil reserves. . . . For the industry, war and hyped threats to national security mean greater expenditures on their weaponry. The Defense budget is set to hit $380 billion this year, rising over the next five years to a approach a staggering $500 billion. . . . There is no escaping the pathetic fact that a major impulse for war is the desire of President Bush and many of the key actors who served in his father's administration to "redeem" the failure of the first Bush regime to depose Saddam Hussein. . . . The momentum for war -- fueled by a combination of corporate interest, ideology, personal pique and political expedience -- combined with the arrogance of power of the most hawkish wing of the administration, appear to have steamrolled saner voices urging caution. . . . President Bush is on the verge of launching a war that will kill untold thousands of Iraqis, and turn an already tempestuous world into a much more dangerous place. Every person in the United States should do everything and anything they can to stop this lunacy.
. . . Read more!
posted by Lorenzo 2:38 PM
SMALLPOX AND FORCED VACCINATION: WHAT EVERY AMERICAN NEEDS TO KNOW
(Barbara Loe Fisher, National Vaccine Information Center, Winter 2002)
All mass vaccination campaigns result in casualties because every vaccine, like every drug, carries an inherent risk of injury or death. Some individuals are genetically or biologically more vulnerable to vaccine reactions than others, but there are few reliable biomarkers to predict who they are, which is why legally protecting the informed consent rights of all citizens becomes a moral imperative. . . . some health officials have already concluded that the risks of mass vaccination outweigh the theoretical benefits . . . 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. [Comment: Nazi Germany comes to mind.]
Bottom Line: What You Need to Know About Smallpox Vaccine
--It spreads vaccinia virus from one person to another, which can kill or injure people
--It causes reactions in almost everyone who gets it (fever, spread of vaccine virus to other parts of body) and causes extremely severe reactions in 1 in 4,000 persons which can lead to death or injury;
--It was never tested in clinical trials before it was used on a mass basis and mandated;
--Drug companies making old and new smallpox vaccines want normal federal vaccine safety and efficacy standards to be suspended so the vaccines can be licensed quickly;
--Drug companies do not want to be held liable for any injuries and deaths caused by old and new smallpox vaccines.
Bottom Line: What You Need To Know About Proposed Laws in Your State
When federal and state public health officials convince your Governor to declare a �public health� emergency, they want to be able to use the �state militia� to:
--take control of all roads leading into and out of your cities and state;
--seize your house, car, telephones, computers, food, fuel, clothing, firearms and alcoholic beverages for their own use (and not be held liable if these actions result in the destruction of your personal property)
--arrest, imprison and forcibly examine, vaccinate and medicate you and your children without your consent (and not be held liable if these actions result in your death or injury).
. . . Read more!
posted by Lorenzo 11:55 AM
Christian Right Calls Peace Movement Anti-American
(Bill Berkowitz, TomPaine.com)
Weyrich wants the Department of Homeland Security or Congress to launch an investigation into the funding sources behind the "neo-Communist" groups involved in the anti-war movement. . . . Weyrich, the chairman and CEO of the Washington, DC-based Free Congress Foundation, is determined to discredit the anti-war movement. How can these "phony organizations" make ends meet he asks, when they don't even use "direct mail." [Comment: I guess this jerk has never heard of the Internet.] . . . Further, Weyrich inquires: "How can these demonstrators be available to come to events from one end of the country to the other all year long? How do they support themselves? Who is supplying the money?" . . . Civil libertarian and Village Voice columnist Nat Hentoff says that Weyrich's proposal "is constitutionally un-American." In a phone interview, he said, "From September 11 on, the president, the attorney general and the defense secretary have been saying that whatever we have to do to keep the country secure has to be done and will be done within the bounds of the constitution. Paul Weyrich ought to re-read the Bill of Rights which starts with the First Amendment," Hentoff suggested. . . . Don't expect either Tom Ridge or Congress to respond quickly on Weyrich's call for investigating the anti-war movement. But don't expect this to fade away, either. As with other right-wing ideas that often seem dreadfully outlandish, this one might get more traction once the war has begun. If that day comes, the rebirth of a Senate Internal Security Subcommittee or a House Committee on Un-American Activities may not be far behind.
. . . Read more!
posted by Lorenzo 11:45 AM
Justice Dept. Drafts Sweeping Expansion of Anti-Terrorism Act
(WASHINGTON, Feb. 7, 2003) -- The Bush Administration is preparing a bold, comprehensive sequel to the USA Patriot Act passed in the wake of September 11, 2001, which will give the government broad, sweeping new powers to increase domestic intelligence-gathering, surveillance and law enforcement prerogatives, and simultaneously decrease judicial review and public access to information.
Dr. David Cole, Georgetown University Law professor and author of Terrorism and the Constitution, reviewed the draft legislation at the request of the Center, and said that the legislation �raises a lot of serious concerns. It�s troubling that they have gotten this far along and they�ve been telling people there is nothing in the works.� This proposed law, he added, �would radically expand law enforcement and intelligence gathering authorities, reduce or eliminate judicial oversight over surveillance, authorize secret arrests, create a DNA database based on unchecked executive �suspicion,� create new death penalties, and even seek to take American citizenship away from persons who belong to or support disfavored political groups.�
. . . Read more!
posted by West 8:06 AM
White House Seeks 9.3 Percent Funding Increase
washingtonpost.com - While demanding that the federal government restrain its spending to a 4.1 percent increase in 2004, the Bush White House has assigned itself a more lenient standard: It has proposed a 9.3 percent increase in funding for the ongoing operations of the White House.
Democrats say the administration is guilty of a do-as-I-say-not-as-I-do mentality.
The White House says various hidden security costs account for the increase.
(BLOGGER'S NOTE: Just how much can be hidden before our democracy isn't a democracy or have we already past that stage?)
For the Executive Office of the President, the broad category including most White House operations, the administration has requested $341.2 million for fiscal 2004. That compares with a request of $312.2 million for fiscal 2003 -- excluding $16.8 million for the White House Office of Homeland Security that was switched to the Department of Homeland Security budget for 2004.
Amy Call, a spokeswoman for the White House Office of Management and Budget, said the increase for the White House would only be 3.8 percent if one does not subtract the costs that have moved elsewhere.
Even without the $16.8 billion from 2003 that the White House is shifting elsewhere in fiscal 2004, Call said various "security related" factors have increased costs for 2004.
. . . Read more!
posted by West 7:25 AM
Rep. Howard Coble (R-N.C) agrees with Internment Camp idea
A congressman who heads a homeland security subcommittee said on a radio call-in program that he agreed with the internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II. He made the remark Tuesday on WKZL-FM when a caller suggested Arabs in the United States should be confined. Coble, chairman of the Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism and Homeland Security, said he didn't agree with the caller but did agree with President Franklin D. Roosevelt, who established the internment camps.
"We were at war. They (Japanese-Americans) were an endangered species," Coble said. "For many of these Japanese-Americans, it wasn't safe for them to be on the street." Yeah right -- like that's the real reason for locking them up...for their own good.
. . . Read more!
posted by Hal 1:03 PM
Bill aims to thwart identity thieves
BY Judi Hasson - Federal Computer Week - Jan. 27, 2003
Ever get a little annoyed when the clerk at the hardware store asks for your Social Security number to process your purchase? Or when your check won't be accepted without your Social Security number written on it? Or when your Social Security number is used for every identifying marker in your life? As the debate over whether to issue national identification numbers heats up, three senators want to protect Americans' Social Security numbers from being abused. Today, they introduced the Social Security Number Misuse Prevention Act to make it harder for potential identity thieves to obtain Social Security numbers by restricting public access to the numbers. "The goal of this legislation is straightforward -- to get Social Security numbers out of the public domain so that identity thieves can't access the number," said Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), who was joined by Sens. Judd Gregg (R-N.H.) and Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) in introducing the measure. The same legislation was approved last year by the Senate Judiciary Committee but was stalled in an unrelated debate. This year, lawmakers hope to get it through Congress and help prevent the growing problem of identity theft. The legislation would remove Social Security numbers from government checks and driver's licenses as well as public records available on the Internet. It also would prohibit the sale or display of Social Security numbers to the general public. "Technology is advancing, but unfortunately, cybercrime is advancing right along with it," said Gregg. "An enormous amount of information is tied to a person's Social Security number. If that number falls into the hands of the wrong people, a person's identity can be stolen right along with the money in their bank account." A recent Federal Trade Commission report said identity theft complaints were the most common fraud complaints consumers reported last year. Losses are estimated at $343 million last year as a result of identity theft.
*****Good plan - have no idea what the chances of it passing are though... It really wouldn't be necessary if they only enforced the law on the books already - that it is illegal to use a social security number for any other means of identification other that that for which it was intended...I personally stopped giving it out a few years ago - had to change purchsing plans a couple of times but when push comes to shove, they most often give in...also started giving out "123456789" or "20500" as my zip code when asked "for marketing purposes..." - little victories where they can be found...but that's just this old curmudgeon's opinion...*****
. . . Read more!
posted by An Old Curmudgeon 10:56 AM
A Critical Analysis of Bush's 2003 State of the Union Address
Institute for Public Accuracy
Kind of speaks for itself, unlike the one who gave the speech...
. . . Read more!
posted by An Old Curmudgeon 11:57 AM
Korean threat to shell Capitol Hill
news.com.au - February 02, 2003
As the US warned North Korea against turning nuclear fuel rods into bomb-grade plutonium, the communist State responded by threatening to shell the White House. In a new anti-American propaganda campaign, North Korea has placed lurid posters on the streets of Pyongyang, promising "ruthless punishment to US Imperialism". It shows North Korean soldiers armed with shells destroying Capitol Hill in Washington. Posters, officially described as of "high ideological and artistic value", were made by North Korean artists shortly after the communist country withdrew from the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty on January 10, according to the country's government-controlled news agency. In another poster, a scarecrow resembling the International Atomic Energy Agency and a US serviceman are stabbed with bayonets. Its banner reads: "Harsh Judgment to US Imperialism and its Puppets!"
****But Dubya insists Iraq is the greatest threat!!??****
. . . Read more!
posted by An Old Curmudgeon 7:02 AM
Davis may back Internet tax plan
By Ann E. Marimow - Mercury News Sacramento Bureau
SACRAMENTO - After years of adamantly rejecting an Internet tax plan that he said would slow the growth of the dot-com economy, Gov. Gray Davis is now willing to consider a proposal that would force many online companies in California to charge state sales tax. In a significant shift, a Davis spokeswoman said Wednesday the governor is willing to consider an Internet sales tax -- the first of its kind in the nation -- to help fill what he estimates is a $34.6 billion budget shortfall over 18 months. Key lawmakers are pushing forward with a plan to require companies that do business online and have a retail outlet in California, such as Toys R Us and Barnes & Noble, to collect sales taxes. It also would apply to catalog sales. "California's fiscal climate has changed; the dot-com economy has changed,'' Davis' spokeswoman Hilary McLean said. "While he didn't favor it in the past, he is willing to review it in the bigger context.''
. . . Read more!
posted by An Old Curmudgeon 6:43 AM
Bush Approves Nuclear Response
7am.com News - 31 January 2003
President Bush has approved the use of nuclear weapons in response to a chemical or biological attack, changing a decades-old policy of ambiguity. "The United States will continue to make clear that it reserves the right to respond with overwhelming force � including potentially nuclear weapons � to the use of [weapons of mass destruction] against the United States, our forces abroad, and friends and allies," said the classified document, according to the Washington Times. The document is labeled National Security Presidential Directive 17, and was set forth on Sept. 14, 2002. A similar version of that document was released to the public Dec. 11, 2002, as the National Strategy to Combat Weapons of Mass Destruction. The paper said the White House declined comment on the document and neither confirmed or denied it existed. One senior administration official said, however, that the use of the term "nuclear weapons" means the military and others for which the directive was written have been given "a little more of an instruction to prepare all sorts of options for the president," if need be. In the classified version, nuclear forces are designated as the main part of any U.S. deterrent, and conventional capabilities "complement" the nuclear weapons, said the Times.
****I bet He gets "worked up" when he thinks about getting the chance to light one up****
. . . Read more!
posted by An Old Curmudgeon 6:25 AM