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Bush's Stealth Draft
(Will Dunham, Reuters, June 30, 2004)
Thousands more former soldiers could be ordered to Iraq and Afghanistan in addition to 5,600 reservists already set to be called back into active-duty service, the Army said on Wednesday. . . . The Army is tapping into the Individual Ready Reserve, a rarely used pool now numbering 111,000 former soldiers who remain eligible to be called to active duty for years after completing their voluntary Army commitment and returning to civilian life. Many have been out of uniform for years. . . . These soldiers will begin to receive mobilization orders on July 6, said Robert Smiley, an Army official dealing with training, readiness and mobilization. . . . Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld in January approved an Army request to mobilize up to 6,500 soldiers from this reserve pool -- being used in large numbers for the first time in 13 years -- and the Army initially plans to mobilize 5,674 soldiers, officials said. . . . But Smiley said perhaps thousands more could be involuntarily mobilized. . . . "We expect to call some more," Smiley said. . . . These soldiers could remain on active duty for up to two years "based on mission requirements," Smiley said. . . . Army soldiers have been serving yearlong deployments in Iraq, although about 20,000 saw their tour extended by three months this spring. . . . "The active-duty army is too small to handle the ongoing missions that it has," Levin said. . . . Smiley said soldiers who already have served in Iraq or Afghanistan but left active duty before July 2003 could be mobilized and sent back there. . . . These troops, many from California and Texas, will fill vacancies in National Guard and Army Reserve units set to deploy to Iraq and Afghanistan this year and early 2005, officials said. Many have skills in big demand, including as military police, engineers and truck drivers, officials said. . . . The United States has about 140,000 troops in Iraq and 20,000 in Afghanistan.
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posted by Lorenzo 4:52 PM
US election commissioner seeks process for canceling Election Day
(Erica Werner, Associated Press, June 25, 2004)
The government needs to establish guidelines for canceling or rescheduling elections if terrorists strike the United States again, says the chairman of a new federal voting commission. . . . "Look at the possibilities. If the federal government were to cancel an election or suspend an election, it has tremendous political implications. If the federal government chose not to suspend an election it has political implications," said Soaries, a Republican and former secretary of state of New Jersey. . . . "Who makes the call, under what circumstances is the call made, what are the constitutional implications?" he said. "I think we have to err on the side of transparency to protect the voting rights of the country." . . . Soaries said his bipartisan, four-member commission might make a recommendation to Congress about setting up guidelies. . . . Soaries also said he wants to know what federal officials are doing to increase security on Election Day. He said security officials must take care not to allow heightened security measures to intimidate minority voters, but that local and state election officials he's talked to have not been told what measures to expect. . . . "There's got to be communication," he said, "between law enforcement and election officials in preparation for November." . . .
[COMMENT: What kind of a democracy is it that requires such tight cooperation between the police, the military, and voters? Before the Bush junta is finished destroying this nation we will most likely wish we were living some place more safe and "democratic", like Iraq.]
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posted by Lorenzo 10:09 AM
The USA Has Become a Fascist Nation
(Laurence W. Britt, Free Inquiry, Volume 23, Number 2)
Fascism's principles are wafting in the air today, surreptitiously masquerading as something else, challenging everything we stand for. . . . Both the original German and Italian models and the later protofascist regimes show remarkably similar characteristics. Although many scholars question any direct connection among these regimes, few can dispute their visual similarities. . . . Beyond the visual, even a cursory study of these fascist and protofascist regimes reveals the absolutely striking convergence of their modus operandi. This, of course, is not a revelation to the informed political observer, but it is sometimes useful in the interests of perspective to restate obvious facts and in so doing shed needed light on current circumstances. . . . Analysis of these seven regimes reveals fourteen common threads that link them in recognizable patterns of national behavior and abuse of power. These basic characteristics are more prevalent and intense in some regimes than in others, but they all share at least some level of similarity.
[COMMENT: For brevity, we are only listing the 14 points without their accompanying text. However, we strongly urge you to click on the above link and read the text that accompanies each of the following points. If you do, you may come to the same conclusion I have: The Bush II regime is America's first obviously fascist government. ... Lorenzo]
1. Powerful and continuing expressions of nationalism.
2. Disdain for the importance of human rights.
3. Identification of enemies/scapegoats as a unifying cause.
4. The supremacy of the military/avid militarism.
5. Rampant sexism.
6. A controlled mass media.
7. Obsession with national security.
8. Religion and ruling elite tied together.
9. Power of corporations protected.
10. Power of labor suppressed or eliminated.
11. Disdain and suppression of intellectuals and the arts.
12. Obsession with crime and punishment.
13. Rampant cronyism and corruption.
14. Fraudulent elections.
Does any of this ring alarm bells? Of course not. After all, this is America, officially a democracy with the rule of law, a constitution, a free press, honest elections, and a well-informed public constantly being put on guard against evils. Historical comparisons like these are just exercises in verbal gymnastics. Maybe, maybe not.
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posted by Lorenzo 1:52 PM
CIA insider says U.S. fighting wrong war
Anonymous career officer makes bold claims in book about U.S. war on terror
By Andrea Mitchell
June 23, 2004
A career CIA officer claims in a new book that America is losing the war on terror, in part because of the invasion of Iraq, which, he says, distracted the United States from the war against terrorism and further fueled al-Qaida's struggle against the United States. The author, who writes as "Anonymous," is a 22-year veteran of the CIA and still works for the intelligence agency, which allowed him to publish the book after reviewing it for classified information.
In an interview with NBC's Chief Foreign Affairs Correspondent Andrea Mitchell, he calls the U.S. war in Iraq a dream come true for Osama bin Laden, saying, "Bin Laden saw the invasion of Iraq as a Christmas gift he never thought he'd get." By invading a country that's regarded as the second holiest place in Islam, he asserts, the Bush administration inadvertently validated bin Laden's assertions that the United States intends a holy war against Muslims.
In his book, titled "Imperial Hubris," he calls the Iraq invasion "an avaricious, premeditated, unprovoked war against a foe who posed no immediate threat," arguing against the concept of pre-emptive war put forward by President Bush as justification for the Iraq war.
The book also argues that the U.S. focus on bin Laden as a terrorist is the wrong way to fight him and the wrong way to think of the foe. The real enemy, he asserts, is the radical form of Islam that bin Laden and his followers espouse. And he calls for escalating the level of violence in the war against al-Qaida.
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posted by Hal 7:52 PM
Ashcroft's Malfeasance Boggles the Mind
(Paul Krugman, New York Times, June 22, 2004)
n April 2003, John Ashcroft's Justice Department disrupted what appears to have been a horrifying terrorist plot. In the small town of Noonday, Tex., F.B.I. agents discovered a weapons cache containing fully automatic machine guns, remote-controlled explosive devices disguised as briefcases, 60 pipe bombs and a chemical weapon — a cyanide bomb — big enough to kill everyone in a 30,000-square-foot building. . . . Strangely, though, the attorney general didn't call a press conference to announce the discovery of the weapons cache, or the arrest of William Krar, its owner. He didn't even issue a press release. This was, to say the least, out of character. Jose Padilla, the accused "dirty bomber," didn't have any bomb-making material or even a plausible way to acquire such material, yet Mr. Ashcroft put him on front pages around the world. Mr. Krar was caught with an actual chemical bomb, yet Mr. Ashcroft acted as if nothing had happened. . . . In this case, it sounds over the top to accuse Mr. Ashcroft of trying to bury news about terrorists who don't fit his preferred story line. Yet it's hard to believe that William Krar wouldn't have become a household name if he had been a Muslim, or even a leftist. Was Mr. Ashcroft, who once gave an interview with Southern Partisan magazine in which he praised "Southern patriots" like Jefferson Davis, reluctant to publicize the case of a terrorist who happened to be a white supremacist? . . . More important, is Mr. Ashcroft neglecting real threats to the public because of his ideological biases? . . . The discovery of the Texas cyanide bomb should have served as a wake-up call: 9/11 has focused our attention on the threat from Islamic radicals, but murderous right-wing fanatics are still out there. The concerns of the Justice Department, however, appear to lie elsewhere. Two weeks ago a representative of the F.B.I. appealed to an industry group for help in combating what, he told the audience, the F.B.I. regards as the country's leading domestic terrorist threat: ecological and animal rights extremists. . . . Even in the fight against foreign terrorists, Mr. Ashcroft's political leanings have distorted policy. Mr. Ashcroft is very close to the gun lobby — and these ties evidently trump public protection. After 9/11, he ordered that all government lists — including voter registration, immigration and driver's license lists — be checked for links to terrorists. All government lists, that is, except one: he specifically prohibited the F.B.I. from examining background checks on gun purchasers. . . . Mr. Ashcroft issued a directive, later put into law, requiring that records of background checks on gun buyers be destroyed after only one business day. . . . And we needn't imagine that Mr. Ashcroft was deeply concerned about protecting the public's privacy. After all, a few months ago he took the unprecedented step of subpoenaing the hospital records of women who have had late-term abortions. . . . After my last piece on Mr. Ashcroft, some readers questioned whether he is really the worst attorney general ever. It's true that he has some stiff competition from the likes of John Mitchell, who served under Richard Nixon. But once the full record of his misdeeds in office is revealed, I think Mr. Ashcroft will stand head and shoulders below the rest.
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posted by Lorenzo 12:56 PM
Veterans and Post Traumatic Stress
A news item yesterday mentioned the fact that 30.6% of all veterans who served in Viet Nam will suffer from PTSD at some point in their life. While statistics for the first Bush war are not available, anecdotal evidence suggests that this number is also going to hold for veterans of the wars of Bush I and Bush II.
If you have ever suffered from this affliction, or know someone who has, you might want to check out a recent story posted on our War on Drugs page, A Renaissance in Psychedelic Research. There you will find information about an extremely important medical research study that holds great promise of providing relief from this debilitating disease.
The study is being conducted at a private clinic (with full FDA and DEA approval) by Doctor Michael Mithoefer and is titled, "MDMA-assisted Psychotherapy in the Treatment of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)." If you are interested in this work, or if you would like to make a donation to assist this important investigation, go to MAPS.org where you will find a wealth of information about the current state of psychedelic research.
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posted by Lorenzo 11:13 AM
One million black votes didn't count in the 2000 presidential election
(Greg Palast, Sanfrancisco Chronicle, June 20, 2004)
It's not too hard to get your vote lost -- if some politicians want it to be lost . . . In the 2000 presidential election, 1.9 million Americans cast ballots that no one counted. "Spoiled votes" is the technical term. The pile of ballots left to rot has a distinctly dark hue: About 1 million of them -- half of the rejected ballots -- were cast by African Americans although black voters make up only 12 percent of the electorate. . . . This year, it could get worse. . . . These ugly racial statistics are hidden away in the mathematical thickets of the appendices to official reports coming out of the investigation of ballot-box monkey business in Florida from the last go-'round. . . . Florida's Gadsden County has the highest percentage of black voters in the state -- and the highest spoilage rate. One in 8 votes cast there in 2000 was never counted. Many voters wrote in "Al Gore." Optical reading machines rejected these because "Al" is a "stray mark." . . . By contrast, in neighboring Tallahassee, the capital, vote spoilage was nearly zip; every vote counted. The difference? In Tallahassee's white- majority county, voters placed their ballots directly into optical scanners. If they added a stray mark, they received another ballot with instructions to correct it. . . . In other words, in the white county, make a mistake and get another ballot; in the black county, make a mistake, your ballot is tossed. . . . In Florida, a black citizen was 10 times as likely to have a vote rejected as a white voter. . . . But let's not get smug about Florida's Jim Crow spoilage rate. Civil Rights Commissioner Christopher Edley, recently appointed dean of Boalt Hall School of Law at UC Berkeley, took the Florida study nationwide. His team discovered the uncomfortable fact that Florida is typical of the nation. . . . Herein lies the problem. An apartheid vote-counting system is far from politically neutral. Given that more than 90 percent of the black electorate votes Democratic, had all the "spoiled" votes been tallied, Gore would have taken Florida in a walk, not to mention fattening his popular vote total nationwide. It's not surprising that the First Brother's team, informed of impending rejection of black ballots, looked away and whistled. . . . In other words, the vote counters, not the voters, are to blame. Politicians who choose the type of ballot and the method of counting have long fine-tuned the spoilage rate to their liking. . . . It is about to get worse. The ill-named "Help America Vote Act," signed by President Bush in 2002, is pushing computerization of the ballot box. . . . California decertified some of Diebold Corp.'s digital ballot boxes in response to fears that hackers could pick our next president. But the known danger of black-box voting is that computers, even with their software secure, are vulnerable to low-tech spoilage games: polls opening late, locked-in votes, votes lost in the ether. . . . And once again, the history of computer-voting glitches has a decidedly racial bias. Florida's Broward County grandly shifted to touch-screen voting in 2002. In white precincts, all seemed to go well. In black precincts, hundreds of African Americans showed up at polls with machines down and votes that simply disappeared.
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posted by Lorenzo 4:42 PM
Why did Bush really go to Baghdad at Thanksgiving?
(Sidney M. Willhelm, Online Journal, June 18, 2004)
TIME Magazine recently broke the news that George W. Bush takes great pride in possessing and showing off Saddam Hussein's pistol at the White House. Boasting of Saddam's very own firearm as one item among others on display in a private study just off the Oval Office reveals a deeply personal meaning for Bush. The pistol, without question, makes a direct connection for Bush with Saddam. Ownership of another's gun means, at least for Texans, domination; taking a gun is proof of defeat over one's antagonist. The gun, then, is a trophy - not a souvenir - for a commander-in-chief's victory over a very personal and subdued enemy. Could such an ego-induced factor offer something even more revealing - namely, the real reason for Bush taking the highly secret trip to Iraq this past Thanksgiving? It is highly unlikely that Bush, who has yet to attend a war-related funeral, would take the high risk of going to Iraq just to give a message of support. He did not make the trip to have a special dinner with the troops, for he did not eat his Thanksgiving meal with them. Bush is not one to make any real personal sacrifices for the troops; he would not have given up his Thanksgiving dinner with his family just for the photo-ops to serve up a plastic turkey. What, then, could explain the trip? Recognizing the gusto so vivid when showing off Saddam's own firearm to White House guests, it is much more likely that Bush used the traditional Thanksgiving holiday as a clever cover in order to conceal the real intent for the highly secretive flight to Baghdad: a direct confrontation with Saddam. The trip was taken not to express appreciation to the troops but as an ideal moment for Bush himself to gloat in a face-to-face triumph before a submissive and defeated Saddam jailed within the Baghdad airport.
[COMMENT] ***** Interesting POV. Given the increasing number of accounts of Dubya's possible state of instability, it does not remove itself from the realm of possibilities...But, that's just this old curmudgeon's opinion...*****
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posted by An Old Curmudgeon 12:28 PM
Bush told he is playing into Bin Laden's hands
(Julian Borger, The Guardian, June 19, 2004)
A senior US intelligence official is about to publish a bitter condemnation of America's counter-terrorism policy, arguing that the west is losing the war against al-Qaida and that an "avaricious, premeditated, unprovoked" war in Iraq has played into Osama bin Laden's hands. Imperial Hubris: Why the West is Losing the War on Terror, due out next month, dismisses two of the most frequent boasts of the Bush administration: that Bin Laden and al-Qaida are "on the run" and that the Iraq invasion has made America safer. [T]he official, who writes as "Anonymous", described al-Qaida as a much more proficient and focused organisation than it was in 2001, and predicted that it would "inevitably" acquire weapons of mass destruction and try to use them. He said Bin Laden was probably "comfortable" commanding his organisation from the mountainous tribal lands along the border between Pakistan and Afghanistan. Imperial Hubris is the latest in a relentless stream of books attacking the administration in election year. Most of the earlier ones, however, were written by embittered former officials. This one is unprecedented in being the work of a serving official with nearly 20 years experience in counter-terrorism who is still part of the intelligence establishment. The fact that he has been allowed to publish, albeit anonymously and without naming which agency he works for, may reflect the increasing frustration of senior intelligence officials at the course the administration has taken. Peter Bergen, the author of two books on Bin Laden and al-Qaida, said: "His views represent an amped-up version of what is emerging as a consensus among intelligence counter-terrorist professionals. Our choice of timing, moreover, shows an abject, even wilful failure to recognise the ideological power, lethality and growth potential of the threat personified by Bin Laden, as well as the impetus that threat has been given by the US-led invasion and occupation of Muslim Iraq." In his view, the US missed its biggest chance to capture the al-Qaida leader at Tora Bora in the Afghan mountains in December 2001. Instead of sending large numbers of his own troops, General Tommy Franks relied on surrogates who proved to be unreliable. "For my money, the game was over at Tora Bora," Anonymous said. The death and arrest of experienced operatives might have set back Bin Laden's plans to some degree but when it came to his long-term capacity to threaten the US, he said, "I don't think we've laid a glove on him". "What I think we're seeing in al-Qaida is a change of generation," he said."The people who are leading al-Qaida now seem a lot more professional group. As for weapons of mass destruction, he thinks that if al-Qaida does not have them already, it will inevitably acquire them. The most likely source of a nuclear device would be the former Soviet Union, he believes. Dirty bombs, chemical and biological weapons, could be home-made by al-Qaida's own experts, many of them trained in the US and Britain. Anonymous, who published an analysis of al-Qaida last year called Through Our Enemies' Eyes, thinks it quite possible that another devastating strike against the US could come during the election campaign, not with the intention of changing the administration, as was the case in the Madrid bombing, but of keeping the same one in place. "I'm very sure they can't have a better administration for them than the one they have now," he said. "One way to keep the Republicans in power is to mount an attack that would rally the country around the president." The tone of Imperial Hubris is certainly angry and urgent, and the stridency of his warnings about al-Qaida led him to be moved from a highly sensitive job in the late 90s. But Vincent Cannistraro, a former chief of operations at the CIA counter-terrorism centre, said he had been vindicated by events. "He is very well respected, and looked on as a serious student of the subject." Anonymous believes Mr Bush is taking the US in exactly the direction Bin Laden wants, towards all-out confrontation with Islam under the banner of spreading democracy. He said: "It's going to take 10,000-15,000 dead Americans before we say to ourselves: 'What is going on'?"
[COMMENT]****** How many more "current" federal employees, respected professionals with years of experience, have to come forward and vent their frustrations over the current direction of the Government before people start taking a hard look? Does it have to come to "10,000-15,000 dead Americans" on the battlefields (streets) of Iraq or a nuclear device set off in an American city (possibly claiming millions) before we take serious stock of our disasterous direction of leadership?*******
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posted by An Old Curmudgeon 6:55 AM
From that evil genius, Wiley Miller on June 18, 2004:
Copyright © 2004. All Rights Reserved.
Universal Press Syndicate
[COMMENT] ****** Sad, but true - Sadly True - Truly Sad. ******
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posted by An Old Curmudgeon 10:10 AM
Diplomats, Military Commanders Call for End of Bush Regime
(Peter Slevin, Washington Post, June 16, 2004)
The Bush administration does not understand the world it faces and is unable to handle "in either style or substance" the responsibilities of global leadership, an eminent group of 27 retired diplomats and military commanders charged today. . . . "Never in the two and a quarter centuries of our history has the United States been so isolated among the nations, so broadly feared and distrusted." . . . The statement fit onto a single page, but the sharp public criticism of President Bush was striking, coming from a bipartisan group of respected former officials united in anger about U.S. policy. . . . Also today, the panel investigating the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks said it found "no credible evidence" that former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein had worked with al Qaeda on the Sept. 11 attacks or any other missions in the United States. . . . Significant players in the Bush administration have worked to connect Hussein in the public's mind with Sept. 11 and anti-American terrorism, an effort that largely succeeded. As recently as this week, Vice President Cheney said Hussein had "long-established ties" with al Qaeda. . . . "Why the vice president continues to make that claim beats me. I have no idea," said Phyllis Oakley, a signatory of the anti-Bush statement and a former director of the State Department's intelligence office. . . . Oakley and the other 26 signatories described Bush administration "manipulation of uncertain intelligence about weapons of mass destruction" and "a cynical campaign to persuade the public that Saddam Hussein was linked to al Qaeda and the attacks of Sept. 11." . . . The new group, which calls itself Diplomats and Military Commanders for Change, believes Bush must be replaced for the United States to regain credibility and strengthen valuable foreign alliances. . . . A consistent theme of the statement and the news conference at the National Press Club was that the Bush administration has taken steps that have alienated allies and undermined U.S. interests -- ultimately making the world a more dangerous place for Americans. . . . The former diplomats and military commanders said the United States suffers from "close identification" with autocratic governments in the Muslim world and "the perception of unquestioning support for the policies and actions of the present Israeli government." . . . The group called for greater balance. . . . Among those who signed the statement are Adm. William J. Crowe, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff under Ronald Reagan, and Marine Gen. Joseph P. Hoar, appointed by George H.W. Bush to lead U.S. forces in the Middle East. . . . The participants include a pair of former ambassadors to the Soviet Union, two former ambassadors to Israel, two former ambassadors to Pakistan and Adm. Stansfield Turner, onetime director of the Central Intelligence Agency. . . . Bush from the outset "adopted an overbearing approach to America's role in the world, relying on military might and righteousness, insensitive to the concerns of traditional friends and allies, and disdainful of the United Nations," the statement says. "Motivated more by ideology than by reasoned analysis, it struck out on its own."
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posted by Lorenzo 1:47 PM
9-11 Visibility Project
This is an action-oriented 9-11 website. Many good websites already exist offering research and analysis of the events of September 11th, 2001. The purpose of this site is not to duplicate these efforts, nor to prove or disprove what really happened. Rather, their goal is to support the 9-11 truth movement itself, led by the victims' families' efforts to obtain full government accountability for the suspicious and unprecedented intelligence and air defense failures that took place before and during the attacks. What you will find on this site are information and tools designed to help build this movement including contact information for local action groups. This site is an excellent place to find all the latest links to stories investigating the possible involvement of US Government officials in the events surrounding 9-11.
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posted by Lorenzo 10:01 AM
Cheney Lied About Halliburton Contracts
(David Ivanovich, Houston Chronicle, June 14, 2004)
Vice President Dick Cheney's staff was involved from the very start of the decision-making process that ended with Houston's Halliburton Co. being awarded a multibillion-dollar contract to perform work in Iraq, a key Democratic lawmaker said Sunday. . . . "Scooter" Libby, Cheney's chief of staff, was briefed in October 2002 on a proposal to assign Halliburton the task of drawing up a secret plan for putting out oil-well fires and rebuilding Iraq infrastructure in the event of war in Iraq, said Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., whose staff was briefed last week by Pentagon officials. . . . The following March, Halliburton -- without facing competition from any other bidders -- was awarded the contract to implement that plan. . . . At other critical junctures in the decision-making chain, political appointees insisted on hiring Halliburton, despite the objections of career employees at the Pentagon, Waxman said. . . . Waxman, insisting lawmakers are not "getting straight answers from the White House," called for an independent congressional investigation. . . . Cheney, who served as Halliburton's chief executive officer for five years before joining the Bush presidential ticket in 2000, has long insisted he had no role in awarding contracts to the company. . . . The Government Reform Committee is slated to hold a hearing Tuesday regarding Halliburton and contractors performing work in Iraq. . . . Waxman, in a copy of the letter, pointed to a special team created before the war in Iraq called the Energy Infrastructure Planning Group. This team, led by Michael Mobbs, a political appointee and special adviser to Douglas Feith, the Defense Department's undersecretary for policy, was instrumental in getting Halliburton selected for the job, Waxman said. . . . Mobbs, briefing committee staffers last week, said he was told by colleagues in the government that three companies -- Halliburton, Bechtel and Fluor -- were qualified to conduct the planning study, Waxman said. Mobbs concluded Halliburton was the best company for the job. . . . Army Materiel Command lawyers apparently believed ordering the company to provide contingency planning for putting out oil-well fires was stretching the logistics contract too far. But the Defense Departments general counsel's office intervened and overruled their objections. . . . After Halliburton had conducted the classified study, the company was selected to perform the actual oil fields repair work, a contract that could have generated revenues up to $7 billion. . . . Stephen Browning, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers director of regional programs for the South Pacific Division, met with Feith on March 5, 2003, and urged him to declassify some details about the contract so Halliburton could line up subcontractors, Waxman said. . . . On March 5, Browning sent an e-mail later unearthed by the government watchdog group Judicial Watch suggesting the Pentagon had "coordinated" with Cheney's office about releasing information about the contract. Feith, Browning wrote, had "approved, contingent on informing WH (the White House) tomorrow. We anticipate no issue, since action has been coordinated w (with) VP's office." . . . The work contract was awarded three days later, but the decision was not made public for another two weeks, because -- at that point -- President Bush had not announced the final decision to go to war.
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posted by Lorenzo 4:31 PM
The Rich Get Richer and the Poor Get Screwed
The existing political system...actually subsidizes the political expression of those who already enjoy the advantage in resources. This subsidy is embedded in the federal tax code in the form of allowable tax deductions for activities that are really self-interested political expression tax breaks that, practically speaking, are only available to corporations and people with substantial surplus wealth. . . . An auto company deducts the cost of flying its executives into Washington to lobby senators on the clean-air bill. An ordinary citizen has to pay his own way.
-- William Greider, Who Will Tell The People
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posted by Lorenzo 11:09 AM
The Insanity of Christian Conservatives
(Joe Bageant, Information Clearinghouse, May 24, 2004)
[COMMENT: What follows is only a brief summary of this article. We highly recommend you click the link above and read this important essay in its entirety.]
As a leftist it is very clear to me these days why urban liberals not only fail to understand these people, but do not even know they exist, other than as some general lump of ignorant, intolerant voters called "the religious right," or the "Christian Right," or "neocon Christians." But until progressives come to understand what these people read, hear, are told and deeply believe, we cannot understand American politics, much less be effective. Given fundamentalist Christianity's inherent cultural isolation, it is nearly impossible for most enlightened Americans to imagine, in honest human terms, what fundamentalist Americans believe, let alone understand why we should all care. . . . For starters, we libs are even more embattled than most of us choose to believe. Any significant liberal and progressive support is limited to a few urban pockets on each coast and along the upper edge of the Midwestern tier states. Most of the rest of the nation, the much vaunted heartland, is the dominion of the conservative and charismatic Christian. Turf-wise, it's pretty much their country, which is to say it presently belongs to George W. Bush for some valid reasons. Remember: He did not have to steal the entire election, just a little piece of it in Florida. Evangelical born-again Christians of one stripe or another were then, and are now, 40% of the electorate, and they support Bush 3-1. And as long as their clergy and their worst instincts tell them to, they will keep on voting for him, or someone like him, regardless of what we view as his arrogant folly and sub-intelligence. Forget about changing their minds. These Christians do not read the same books we do, they do not get their information from anything remotely resembling reasonably balanced sources, and in fact, consider even CBS and NBC super-liberal networks of porn and the Devil's lies. Given how fundamentalists see the modern world, they may as well be living in Iraq or Syria, with whom they share approximately the same Bronze Age religious tenets. . . . Christian Reconstruction is blunt stuff, hard and unforgiving as a gravestone. Capital punishment, central to the Reconstructionist ideal, calls for the death penalty in a wide range of crimes, including abandonment of the faith, blasphemy, heresy, witchcraft, astrology, adultery, sodomy, homosexuality, striking a parent, and "unchastity before marriage" (but for women only.) Biblically correct methods of execution include stoning, the sword, hanging, and burning. Stoning is preferred, according to Gary North, the self-styled Reconstructionist economist, because stones are plentiful and cheap. Biblical Law would also eliminate labor unions, civil rights laws, and public schools. Leading Reconstruction theologian David Chilton declares, "The Christian goal for the world is the universal development of Biblical theocratic republics." Incidentally, said Republic of Jesus would not only be a legal hell, but an ecological one as well---Reconstructionist doctrine calls for the scrapping of environmental protection of all kinds, because there will be no need for this planet earth once The Rapture occurs. You may not have heard of Rushdoony or Chilton or North, but taken either separately or together, they have influenced far more contemporary American minds than Noam Chomsky, Gore Vidal and Howard Zinn combined. . . . Over the past 30 years Reconstructionist doctrine has permeated not only the religious right, but mainstream churches as well, via the charismatic movement. Its impact on politics and religion in this nation have been massive, with many mainstream churches pushed rightward by pervasive Reconstructionism, without even knowing it. . . . The training of Christian cadres is far more sophisticated than the average liberal realizes. There now stretches a network of dozens of campuses across the nation, each with its strange cultish atmosphere of smiling Christian pod people, most of them clones of Jerry Fallwell's Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia. But how many outsiders know the depth and specificity of Reconstructionist political indoctrination in these schools? For example, Patrick Henry College in Purcellville, Virginia, a college exclusively for Christian homeschoolers, offers programs in strategic government intelligence, legal training and foreign policy, all with a strict, Bible-based "Christian worldview." Patrick Henry is so heavily funded by the Christian right it can offer classes below cost. In the Bush administration, seven percent of all internships are handed out to Patrick Henry students, along with many others distributed among similar religious rightist colleges. . . . Lest the Christian Reconstructionists be underestimated, remember that it was Reconstructionist strategists whose "stealth ideology" managed the takeover of the Republican Party in the early 1990s. That takeover now looks mild in light of today’s neocon Christian implantations in the White House, the Pentagon and the Supreme Court and other federal entities. As much as liberals screech in protest, few understand the depth and breadth of the Rightist Christian takeover underway. . . . Now however, this apocalyptic belief, yearning really, drives an American Christian polity in the service of a grave and unnerving agenda. The psuedo-scriptural has become an apocalyptic game plan for earthly political action: To wit, the messiah can only return to earth after an apocalypse in Israel called Armageddon, which the fundamentalists are promoting with all their power so that The Rapture can take place. The first requirement was establishment of the state of Israel. Done. The next is Israel's occupation of the Middle East as a return of its "Biblical lands," which in the Reconstructionist scheme of things, means more wars. These Christian conservatives believe peace cannot ever lead to The Rapture, and indeed impedes the 1,000 year Reign of Christ. So anyone promoting peace is an enemy, a tool of Satan . . . If we are lucky as a nation, this period in American history will be remembered as just another very dark time we managed to get through. Otherwise, one shudders to think of the logical outcome. No wonder the left is depressed. Meanwhile, our best thinkers on the left ask us to consider our perpetual U.S. imperial war as a fascist, military/corporate war, and indeed it is that too. But tens of millions of hardworking, earnest American Christians see it as far more than that. They see a war against all that is un-Biblical, the goal of which is complete world conquest, or put in Christian terminology, "dominion." They will have no less than the "inevitable victory God has promised his new chosen people," according to the Recon masters of the covert kingdom. Screw the Jews, they blew their chance. If perpetual war is what it will take, then let it be perpetual. After all, perpetual war is exactly what the Bible promised. Like it or not, this is the reality (or prevailing unreality) with which we are faced. The 2004 elections, regardless of outcome, will not change that. Nor will it necessarily bring ever-tolerant liberals to openly acknowledge what is truly happening in this country, the thing that has been building for a long, long time---a holy war, a covert Christian jihad for control of America and the entire world. Millions of Americans are under the spell of an extraordinarily dangerous mass psychosis. . . . Pardon me, but religious tolerance be damned. Somebody had to say it.
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posted by Lorenzo 7:26 AM
Middle Class Disappearing in the U.S.
The average worker takes home $517 a week and will receive about $400 in tax breaks from President Bush. At the same time, the average CEO takes home $155,769 a week and this year alone received well over $50,000 in new tax breaks from Bush.
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posted by Lorenzo 12:50 PM
Good Riddance to killer, coward, con-man Reagan
(Greg Palast, June 6, 2004)
Ronald Reagan was a conman. Reagan was a coward. Reagan was a killer. . . . In 1987, I found myself stuck in a crappy little town in Nicaragua named Chaguitillo. The people were kind enough, though hungry, except for one surly young man. His wife had just died of tuberculosis. . . . People don't die of TB if they get some antibiotics. But Ronald Reagan, big hearted guy that he was, had put a lock-down embargo on medicine to Nicaragua because he didn't like the government that the people there had elected. . . . Ronnie grinned and cracked jokes while the young woman's lungs filled up and she stopped breathing. Reagan flashed that B-movie grin while they buried the mother of three. . . . And when Hezbollah terrorists struck and murdered hundreds of American marines in their sleep in Lebanon, the TV warrior ran away like a whipped dog … then turned around and invaded Grenada. That little Club Med war was a murderous PR stunt so Ronnie could hold parades for gunning down Cubans building an airport. . . . I remember Nancy, a skull and crossbones prancing around in designer dresses, some of the "gifts" that flowed to the Reagans -- from hats to million-dollar homes -- from cronies well compensated with government loot. It used to be called bribery. . . . The New York Times today, in its canned obit, wrote that Reagan projected, "faith in small town America" and "old-time values." "Values" my ass. It was union busting and a declaration of war on the poor and anyone who couldn't buy designer dresses. It was the New Meanness, bringing starvation back to America so that every millionaire could get another million. . . . And all the while, in the White House basement, as his brain boiled away, his last conscious act was to condone a coup d'etat against our elected Congress. Reagan's Defense Secretary Casper the Ghost Weinberger with the crazed Colonel, Ollie North, plotted to give guns to the Monster of the Mideast, Ayatolla Khomeini. . . . Reagan's boys called Jimmy Carter a weanie and a wuss although Carter wouldn't give an inch to the Ayatolla. Reagan, with that film-fantasy tough-guy con in front of cameras, went begging like a coward cockroach to Khomeini pleading on bended knee for the release of our hostages. . . . Ollie North flew into Iran with a birthday cake for the maniac mullah -- no kidding --in the shape of a key. The key to Ronnie's heart. . . . Then the Reagan roaches mixed their cowardice with crime: taking cash from the hostage-takers to buy guns for the "contras" - the drug-runners of Nicaragua posing as freedom fighters. . . . In Chaguitillo, all night long, the farmers stayed awake to guard their kids from attack from Reagan's Contra terrorists. The farmers weren't even Sandinistas, those 'Commies' that our cracked-brained President told us were 'only a 48-hour drive from Texas.' What the hell would they want with Texas, anyway? . . . Nevertheless, the farmers, and their families, were Ronnie's targets. . . . Well, my friends, you can rest easier tonight: the Rat is dead. Killer, coward, conman. Ronald Reagan, good-bye and good riddance.
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posted by Lorenzo 10:20 AM
Pope fears Bush is antichrist, journalist contends
(Wayne Madsden, New Catholic Times, May 18, 2003)
According to freelance journalist Wayne Madsden, "George W Bush's blood lust, his repeated commitment to Christian beliefs and his constant references to 'evil doers,' in the eyes of many devout Catholic leaders, bear all the hallmarks of the one warned about in the Book of Revelations--the anti-Christ." Madsen, a Washington-based writer and columnist, who often writes for Counterpunch, says that people close to the pope claim that amid these concerns, the pontiff wishes he was younger and in better health to confront the possibility that Bush may represent the person prophesized in Revelations. John Paul II has always believed the world was on the precipice of the final confrontation between Good and Evil as foretold in the New Testament. Before he became pope, Karol Cardinal Wojtyla said, "We are now standing in the face of the greatest historical confrontation humanity has gone through. I do not think that wide circles of the American society or wide circles of the Christian community realize this fully. We are now facing the final confrontation between the church and the anti-Church, of the Gospel versus the anti-Gospel." The pope worked tirelessly to convince leaders of nations on the UN Security Council to oppose Bush's war resolution on Iraq. Vatican sources claim they had not seen the pope more animated and determined since he fell ill to Parkinson's Disease. In the end, the pope did convince the leaders of Mexico, Chile, Cameroon and Guinea to oppose the U.S. resolution. Madsen contends that "Bush is a dangerous right-wing ideologue who couples his political fanaticism with a neo-Christian blood cult."
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posted by An Old Curmudgeon 7:09 PM
Did Bush Suffer A Past 'Seizure'?
(Jeff Rense, Rense.com, 4-26-04)
If this news story is accurate, the American public is being betrayed (yet again) at the highest level. Americans have a RIGHT TO KNOW if their Commander-in-Chief is even remotely incapacitated. This story, if correct, raises multiple crucial and immediate issues and possibilities which need to be examined and considered. Such as... 1. Did the famous 'pretzel' dive and resulting bruise have anything to do with a 'seizure'? . . . 2. If Bush had one 'seizure' who is to say there won't be (weren't?) more? . . . 3. Could 'seizure' be a polite way of saying TIA or 'mini-stroke'? Such events often leave some measure of damage...depending on which portion of the brain was affected. Further, TIAs, once begun, have a habit of continuing...building up to a major stroke in many cases. . . . 4. Brain strokes are common in cocaine use...especially long-term abuse and smoking of crack.. The President's behavior falls well within the medical boundaries of cocaine stroke. . . . This report states Bush is said to be taking "oral medication at least twice a day according to [redacted] because of an unspecified 'indisposition'." Such an 'indisposition' might well be related to either of the items above. IF this story is true - and quite clearly there IS something wrong with President Bush's mental faculties - we have a national crisis at hand. Bush has steadfastly refused to open his medical records - a sure indicator there is something to hide.
Bush 'Seizure' Answer To His Awful Press Conference Performance? From TBR News 4-26-4
"At some time in the past, according to both [redacted] and [redacted] the President suffered what one of his aides called "a very minor seizure" and as a result of this, the President has a very difficult time following any unscripted conversations. For this reason, his staff carefully and aggressively protect the President from "unexpected" questions that he is not capable of answering." . . . "The President takes oral medication at least twice a day according to [redacted] because of an unspecified "indisposition' and this subject is strictly off limits for any casual staff conversation." . . . "At one point during a staff conference, the President stood up and began to speak in an unknown language. Mr. Rove was able to stop the President and get him to resume his seat. It was reported by [redacted] that for a period of time (about fifteen minutes) after this incident, the President appeared to be 'somewhat confused and very inarticulate.'" . . . "White House staff members report that they rarely see the President during work hours and that when they do, he is generally accompanied by Mr. Rove and almost never either looks at or speaks to members of the staff. He does not appear to recognize many of the staff members and almost all contact with these individuals are carried out by his close aides, especially by Mr. Rove." . . . "Most of the staff are young, dedicated, almost fanatical, and very, very Christian. The Ten Commandments are in each and every office with nice pictures of Jesus accompanying them. I have chatted up a few of these bright-faced kids and find out that they Love Jesus, Hate Gays, Abortionists, Moslems, Blacks, Catholics, some Jews, all Democrats, Liberals, Hindus, Chinese, Frenchmen, Germans, and now, Spaniards. " . . . "There are daily parades of born-agains into the White House, all chanting the praises of the Lord and Bush, in that order of course. Most of them want all abortionists hung along with gays (the Beltway and the Pentagon would be empty) and godless Muslims and Buddhists. Orwell would have loved this place! Yesterday [redacted] told me in strict confidence of course, that if Diebold didn't reelect George, the Lord would. They all wear miniature US flags on their clothes but under the lapels they have "hidden tokens of the True Faith" and they flip their lapels with knowing smiles when they meet another True Believer."
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posted by Lorenzo 10:26 AM
Freedom, an American Illusion
I know of no country in which there is so little independence of mind and real freedom of discussion as in America. The majority raises formidable barriers around the liberty of opinion; within these barriers an author may write what he pleases, but woe to him if he goes beyond them.
-- Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America (1835)
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posted by Lorenzo 10:09 AM
Under the Banner of the 'War' on Terror
[by WILLIAM GREIDER, The Nation magazine, June 21, 2004]
When President Bush called Americans to enlist in his "war on terror," very few citizens could have grasped the all-encompassing consequences of the proposition. The terrifying events of 9/11 were like a blinding flash, benumbing the country with a sudden knowledge of unimagined dangers. Strong action was recommended, skeptics were silenced and a shallow sense of unity emerged from the shared vulnerabilities. Nearly three years later, the enormity of Bush's summons to open-ended "war" is more obvious. It overwhelmed the country, in fact deranged society's normal processes and purposes with a brilliantly seductive political message: Terror pre-empts everything else.
What this President effectively accomplished was to restart the cold war, albeit under a new rubric. The justifying facts are different and smaller, but the ideological dynamics are remarkably similar--a total commitment of the nation's energies to confront a vast, unseen and malignant adversary. Fanatical Muslims replaced Soviet Communists and, like the reds, these enemies could be anywhere, including in our midst (they may not even be Muslims, but kindred agents who likewise "hate" us and oppose our values). Like the cold war's, the logic of this new organizing framework can be awesomely compelling to the popular imagination because it runs on fear--the public's expanding fear of potential dangers. The political commodity of fear has no practical limits. The government has the ability to manufacture more.
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posted by moshido praxis 12:53 PM
Bush's Erratic Behavior Worries White House Aides
(Doug Thompson, Capitol Hill Blue, Jun 4, 2004)
President George W. Bush's increasingly erratic behavior and wide mood swings has the halls of the West Wing buzzing lately as aides privately express growing concern over their leader's state of mind. . . . In meetings with top aides and administration officials, the President goes from quoting the Bible in one breath to obscene tantrums against the media, Democrats and others that he classifies as "enemies of the state." . . . Worried White House aides paint a portrait of a man on the edge, increasingly wary of those who disagree with him and paranoid of a public that no longer trusts his policies in Iraq or at home. . . . "It reminds me of the Nixon days," says a longtime GOP political consultant with contacts in the White House. "Everybody is an enemy; everybody is out to get him. That's the mood over there." . . . In interviews with a number of White House staffers who were willing to talk off the record, a picture of an administration under siege has emerged, led by a man who declares his decisions to be "God's will" and then tells aides to "fuck over" anyone they consider to be an opponent of the administration. . . . "We're at war, there's no doubt about it. What I don't know anymore is just who the enemy might be," says one troubled White House aide. "We seem to spend more time trying to destroy John Kerry than al Qaeda and our enemies list just keeps growing and growing." . . . Aides who raise questions quickly find themselves shut out of access to the President or other top advisors. Among top officials, Bush's inner circle is shrinking. Secretary of State Colin Powell has fallen out of favor because of his growing doubts about the administration's war against Iraq. . . . The President's abrupt dismissal of CIA Directory George Tenet Wednesday night is, aides say, an example of how he works. . . . "Tenet wanted to quit last year but the President got his back up and wouldn't hear of it," says an aide. "That would have been the opportune time to make a change, not in the middle of an election campaign but when the director challenged the President during the meeting Wednesday, the President cut him off by saying "that's it George. I cannot abide disloyalty. I want your resignation and I want it now." . . . West Wing staffers call Bush and Ashcroft "the Blues Brothers" because "they're on a mission from God." . . . "The Attorney General is tight with the President because of religion," says one aide. "They both believe any action is justifiable in the name of God." . . . But the President who says he rules at the behest of God can also tongue-lash those he perceives as disloyal, calling them "fucking assholes" in front of other staff, berating one cabinet official in front of others and labeling anyone who disagrees with him "unpatriotic" or "anti-American." . . . "The mood here is that we're under siege, there's no doubt about it," says one troubled aide who admits he is looking for work elsewhere. "In this administration, you don't have to wear a turban or speak Farsi to be an enemy of the United States. All you have to do is disagree with the President."
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posted by Lorenzo 11:27 AM
Extra-Legal Methods May Be Used To Keep Bush In Power
(Online Exclusive of Democracy Now, June 3, 2004)
... 27-Year CIA Vet Ray McGovern On George Tenet's Surprise Resignation . . . RAY MCGOVERN: George Tenet is clearly the first sacrificial lamb here. Things are going quite badly here in Washington. Somebody has to start being held accountable. And Tenet is sort of a tragic figure because he did all he could to help George Bush, much more than he should have as an objective intelligence professional. . . . You know, when the president, according to Bob Woodward, at the end of the year, at the end of 2002 said, you know I'm not sure, is this all you've got in terms of intelligence on weapons of mass destruction? Is it a good case? Well George Tenet sprung up twice and said, Mr. President, it's a slam-dunk. Now we know he did that because Ms. Condoleeza Rice has verified that. Now, this is just a startling example, of what's not supposed to happen in intelligence. You don't tell the president what he wants to know. You tell him the truth. And that seems to have been avoided here in Washington these days. . . . This firing is simply the first sacrificial victim here. They don't want to get rid of Rumsfeld or Wolfowitz yet. There's lots of dirty stuff having to do with CIA interrogations in Iraq as well as military interrogations. So there's a whole litany of things that George Tenet is very vulnerable on, and I think this is throwing one person in to the fray here and say, well at least we got rid of George Tenet. He's a tragic figure. I feel sorry for him but I do not defend what he has done to the intelligence community because the folks there are thoroughly demoralized. The ethic that we all worked by, you shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free, you know that's carved into the marble at the entrance to CIA headquarters. That seems to have been just completely rescinded from under the reign of George Tenet. . . . You not only had Dick Cheney, you had people like Newt Gingrich for Pete's sake. You had Colin Powell bragging about the fact that he spent four days and nights at CIA headquarters before his key speech on 5 February 2003. This is bizarre. If by that time the CIA did not have together a conclusive case to present to Colin Powell for him to present to the UN, it's bizarre that he had to show up there and help along the analysts. This is not the way things are done. . . . [If I am Bush,] four more years becomes even more important to me and to Ashcroft and to Rumsfeld. Gonzalez specifically warns that who knows, some future administration or some future group might sue you for violating the Geneva Conventions. And not only the Geneva Conventions but to the degree that they are embedded in this US law of 1996, and so you're really, we have a strong basis in law but we can't exclude the possibility. So four more years? Why do I say all this? I say all this because I am more frightened now than at any time over the last three and a half years, that this administration will resort to extra-legal methods to do something to ensure that there are four more years for George Bush. And Ashcroft's statement last week, gratuitous statement, uncoordinated with the department of CIA, with the Department of Homeland Security, his warning that there is bound to be a terrorist strike before the US elections. That can be viewed, and this can be reasonably viewed, as the opening salvo in the justification for doing, taking measures to ensure that whatever happens in November comes out so that four more years can be devoted to maybe changing that war crimes act or protecting at least these vulnerable people for four more years. . . . The folks that were running Chalabi or vice versa as the case may be that is, the folks that were being run by Chalabi, were the Neo-cons who are responsible for the fix that this country is in now in Iraq. They groomed him and they went out drinking with him, and I can easily believe the story that was printed in the press yesterday that one of them got a little too potted. Intelligence officers often, sometimes are guilty of the same fault, but you like to brag a little and somebody told Chalabi, you know those Iranians, we've got ‘em pegged, we've got their communications and we can read everything they're saying. Chalabi goes and tells the Iranian in Baghdad and the fool puts that message on the same code as has been broken. And so the CIA and NSA now has no doubt is a transcript of Chalabi saying, this is what I learned from, and there's a good chance that there might be a name in there. And one can guess about five people who may have told him that. And most of them, yeah most of them reside in the Pentagon. So what we have here is very very damaging proof that A), Chalabi was always to be distrusted, and B), that the people that were in association with him and brought him in with US aircraft right when the war was over so to speak, those people are really playing fast and loose with US intelligence, with US interests, all out of their very blind devotion to this fellow who is going to deliver their objectives to them by being a subservient head of Iraq and not incidentally, establishing ties with Israel. . . . I mean the twin aim of this neo-conservative so-called cabal was this. You can read it in their documents. First and foremost it was the strategic vision, the ideological vision, that the US is the sole remaining superpower in the world and this imposes some sort of obligation on the US to throw its weight around wherever it can, and particularly in strategic areas where there's lots of oil. God knows we need the oil. Okay, that's number one. Number two is that the only threat to Israel's security that needed to be dealt with in Israeli eyes was the impossible threat that Saddam Hussein may have had one or two scuds left, scud missiles which could rain chemical weapons, chemical agents down on Tel Aviv or Jerusalem.
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posted by Lorenzo 3:09 PM
Enron Traders Caught on Tape Stealing from California
(Vince Gonzales, CBS News, 01 June 2004)
When a forest fire shut down a major transmission line into California, cutting power supplies and raising prices, Enron energy traders celebrated, CBS News Correspondent Vince Gonzales reports. . . . "Burn, baby, burn," the traders sang. . . . Four years after California's disastrous experiment with energy deregulation, Enron energy traders can be heard - on audiotapes obtained by CBS News - gloating and praising each other as they helped bring on, and cash-in on, the Western power crisis. . . . "He just fucks California," says one Enron employee. "He steals money from California to the tune of about a million." . . . Will you rephrase that?" asks a second employee. . . . "OK, he, um, he arbitrages the California market to the tune of a million bucks or two a day," replies the first. . . . The tapes, from Enron's West Coast trading desk, also confirm what CBS reported years ago: that in secret deals with power producers, traders deliberately drove up prices by ordering power plants shut down. . . . A spokesman for the utility said "This is the evidence we've all been waiting for. This proves they manipulated the market." . . . That utility, like many others, is trying to get its money back from Enron. . . . "They're f------g taking all the money back from you guys?" complains an Enron employee on the tapes. "All the money you guys stole from those poor grandmothers in California?" . . . "Yeah, grandma Millie, man" . . . "Yeah, now she wants her f------g money back for all the power you've charged right up, jammed right up her a------ for f------g $250 a megawatt hour." . . . And the tapes appear to link top Enron officials Ken Lay and Jeffrey Skilling to schemes that fueled the crisis. . . . "Government Affairs has to prove how valuable it is to Ken Lay and Jeff Skilling," says one trader. . . . "Ok." . . . "Do you know when you started over-scheduling load and making buckets of money on that? . . . Before the 2000 election, Enron employees pondered the possibilities of a Bush win. "It'd be great. I'd love to see Ken Lay Secretary of Energy," says one Enron worker. . . . That didn't happen, but they were sure President Bush would fight any limits on sky-high energy prices. . . . "When this election comes Bush will f------g whack this s--t, man. He won't play this price-cap b------t." . . . Both the Justice Department and Enron tried to prevent the release of these tapes. Enron's lawyers argued they merely prove "that people at Enron sometimes talked like Barnacle Bill the Sailor."
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posted by Lorenzo 7:56 PM
An Alternative to Barbara Boxer
[COMMENT: When Barbara Boxer voted to support Bush's War, I wrote and told her that she would never get my vote again. Now there may be an alternative to either not voting or voting Republican. From what I've heard about Libertarian candidate Jim Gray, I think he would be a good man to support. The following are a few points of his platform, which are explained in more detail on the page linked to above.]
PLATFORM: Complete the handover of sovereignity . . . Internationalize the mission . . . Bring our forces home by Christmas '04 . . . Then pursue the genuine War on Terrorism . . . End the war on marijuana . . . Roll Back the USA Patriot Act . . . Reduce the scale of government . . . Stop the Invasion of Privacy . . . Let local governments do their job . . . Immigration Reform . . . Label GMOs.
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posted by Lorenzo 7:14 PM
A Stealth Draft: Army Plan Aims to Keep Soldiers on Duty
(John J. Lumpkin, AP, June 2, 2004)
Thousands of soldiers who had expected to retire or otherwise leave the military will be required to stay if their units are ordered to Iraq or Afghanistan. . . . The announcement Wednesday, an expansion of a program called "stop-loss," affects units that are 90 days or less from deploying . . . soldiers won't be able to leave the service or transfer from their units until they return to their home bases after their deployments end. . . . The Army is struggling to find fresh units to continue the occupation of Iraq. Almost every combat unit has faced or will face duty there or in Afghanistan . . . Initially, the expanded order will affect several units about to go to Iraq: most of the 2nd Brigade of the 10th Mountain Division, from Fort Drum, N.Y.; the 265th Infantry Brigade of the Louisiana National Guard; the 116th Armored Brigade of the Idaho National Guard; the 278th Armored Cavalry Regiment of the Tennessee National Guard, and the 42nd Infantry Division's headquarters staff, from the New York National Guard. . . . The 2nd Brigade of the 2nd Infantry Division, a South Korea-based unit, is expected to deploy later this summer and will be subject to the expanded stop-loss program as well, officials said. . . . There has been criticism of the program as contrary to the concept of an all-volunteer military force. Soldiers planning to retire and get on with their lives now face more months away from their families and homes. . . . In an opinion piece in Wednesday's New York Times, Andrew Exum, a former Army captain who served under Hagenbeck in the 10th Mountain Division in Afghanistan, called the treatment "shameful." . . . "Many, if not most, of the soldiers in this latest Iraq-bound wave are already veterans of several tours in Iraq and Afghanistan," he wrote. "They have honorably completed their active duty obligations. But like draftees, they have been conscripted to meet the additional needs in Iraq."
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posted by Lorenzo 10:44 PM
US Women in Iraq
When Capt. Gussie Jones, 41, died in March of a heart attack in the Baghdad hospital where she served as an Army surgical nurse, the conflict in Iraq now has the designation of claiming the lives of more U.S. servicewomen than any hostile [action] since WW II.
[See some of their stories at Women GIs Caught in Chaos.]
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posted by Lorenzo 12:04 PM