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Diebold E-voting Machines Outlawed in California
(Ian Hoffman, Oakland Tribune, 7/29/05)
After possibly the most extensive testing ever on a voting system, California has rejected Diebold's flagship electronic voting machine because of printer jams and screen freezes, sending local elections officials scrambling for other means of voting. . . . "There was a failure rate of about 10 percent, and that's not good enough for the voters of California and not good enough for me," Secretary of State Bruce McPherson said. . . . If the machines had been used in an election, the result could have been frustration for poll workers and long lines for thousands of voters, elections officials and voter advocates said Thursday. . . . "We certainly can't take any kind of risk like that with this kind of device on California voters," McPherson said. . . . Rejection of the TSx by California, the nation's largest voting-system market, could influence local elections officials from Utah, Mississippi and Ohio, home of Diebold corporate headquarters, where dozens of counties are poised to purchase the latest Diebold touch screens.State elections officials in Ohio say they still have confidence in the machines. . . . By January 2006, every polling place nationwide must offer at least one handicapped-accessible voting machine — touch screens are one example — and all California touch screens must offer a countable paper record so voters and election officials can verify the accuracy of electronic votes. So far, no voting system has been state approved that meets both requirements. . . . Elections officials and voting activists said they had never heard of more extensive testing for a single voting system, outside of an actual election. Kim Alexander, president of the Davis-based California Voter Foundation, said McPherson deserves credit for ordering rigorous testing. . . . "It's the first ever conducted in the state and, to my knowledge, in the country that simulated a real-world experience with these machines in a voting booth," she said. . . . Ordinarily, states and the National Association of State Elections Directors approve voting systems after labs hired by the manufacturers perform tests on a handful of machines.
. . . Read more!

posted by Lorenzo 2:14 PM

Can loyalty to the President also be treason?
(BuzzFlash, July 22, 2005)
This is possibly THE question for Congress to ask Judge John G. Roberts' during his confirmation hearings for Supreme Court Justice. The balance of power between the three branches of our government here in the U.S. may be at dire risk due to a long-time loyalty between the nominee and the President. . . . Now, finally, here's the question to be posed to Judge Roberts...- "If the President issued this imaginary pardon BEFORE the conviction, and the resolution of this imaginary case came all the way down through the system to end up on your docket, how would you, as a Justice of the Supreme Court, likely rule? . . . "Bearing in mind, of course, that the subject being prosecuted might well be innocent. Or guilty. We'd never know for sure unless you issued a verdict against the President, finding it to be an abuse of power. Now for the purpose of this question, let's say that the pardoned subject was very close to the President himself, having been a member of his immediate Cabinet ever since the beginning of the first term in office. And because of his position, likely knew and could provide testimony against the very person who had actually cooked up this foul conspiracy and set it in motion in the first place. . . . "If only he could be compelled to testify. And that's the real twist to this whole puzzle we're asking you to solve. Let's say that due to strong loyalty and friendship, this person could not be compelled to reveal the source any other way than by being threatened with the possibility of prosecution and the resultant serious jail time for criminal conspiracy and obstruction of justice. . . . "Now wouldn't that be a fine kettle of fish if, by the sheer timing of his pardon, the President was allowed to protect himself, or perhaps shield some other guilty party in his Administration from prosecution for this most serious offense against homeland security?" . . . Now before you, dear reader, accuse me of a most fantastic flight of fancy that would never actually come to pass in the real world, let me explain. I didn't just pull this specter of an inopportunely timed pre-emptive pardon out of thin air. . . . In fact, I am only reframing an earlier case that actually set a legal precedent, which was pulled off by none other than George H.W. Bush. That's right, the father of our current president, and former head of the CIA successfully kept special prosecutor Lawrence Walsh from exacting justice for crimes committed during the Iran Contra illegal war which was secretly run out of the basement of Ronald Reagan's White House. . . . Unfortunately, you and I will likely never know the answer to who masterminded that one because Poppy Bush actually did order Executive Clemency for those whom Special prosecutor Walsh had just nailed. But did Bush Sr. have an act of compassion in his mind, or was he motivated by loyalty and self-preservation? And did this act harm the best interests of the citizens of this country? . . . Because wasn't this an abrogation of Judiciary power by the Executive Branch? It is now obvious that a proper determination of the Weinberger Six's fate by our court system could have stood as a very real deterrent to those now in the Executive cabinet who committed the very real and very dangerous crime of spotlight-the-agent. . . . it also set a dangerous precedent and virtually guaranteed that there would be an escape plan for future White House Cabinet members as long as the President could be tied to the crime solely by the threat of their testimony. . . . All future Presidents could be virtually forced to shield his cabinet from prosecution. He would be required to protect himself from being tainted with the ever-standing threat of any- or- all being plea-bargained into (at the very least) tying him (or others in the Cabinet) with foreknowledge of virtually any crime. . . . The well-timed Presidential pardon is thus a program which provides Plausible Deniability Version 3.0 for the entire posse. . . . Besides pardoning his Secretary of Defense, Bush Sr. also ordered that the records produced as a result of the Iran Contra hearings be permanently sealed from public disclosure. Executive Order 12356 (also known as the "Weinberger Declaration") classified that material as "Top Secret" due to the probability that the material within would cause "exceptionally grave damage" to our national security. Yet his pardons weren't determined to pose a treasonous threat, because they were held to have only possibly protected him from prosecution. . . . It is notable that he proclaimed that the "common denominator of their motivation -- whether their actions were right or wrong -- was patriotism." . . . Yeah, right. They're Patriots. . . . Now according to Alexander Hamilton the ''power of pardoning in the President has...been only contested in relation to the crime of treason.'' The delegates to the Constitutional Convention believed treason was a crime leveled at ''the immediate being of the society''— an offense meant to strike at the heart of America's institutions and values. Article III of the Constitution includes giving aid and comfort to the enemy in its definition of treason. In 1999, George H.W. Bush said "... I have nothing but contempt and anger for those who betray the trust by exposing the name of our sources. They are, in my view, the most insidious, of traitors." But Gee Dubya obviously disagrees with that assessment. It's loyalty above all else in HIS White House. . . . Now in their twisted attempt to shield whoever in the Bush cabinet leaked the name of a CIA undercover agent to the press, supporters of the current President have done everything from downplay the importance of the position of the CIA's undercover agent to question the intent and the patriotism of those who support her. The act of downplaying her position is important to the upcoming fight over the question of whether the act itself constituted treason. . . . What it will ultimately come down to is a test between the branches of government and Judge Roberts' loyalty to the President who he had worked for during the election debacle of 2000. . . . You remember, that's when Al Gore got more votes for President but was prevented by legalistic maneuvers by Roberts and others, in (of all places), - the Supreme Court.
. . . Read more!

posted by Lorenzo 1:54 PM

U.S. admits Pentagon is creating death squads
(Chris Floyd, Moscow Times, January 21, 2005)
More than two years ago, we wrote here of a secret Pentagon plan to foment terrorism by sending covert agents to infiltrate terrorist groups and goad them into action -- in other words, committing acts of murder and destruction. The purpose was two-fold: first, to bring the terrorist groups into the open, where they could be counterattacked; and second, to justify U.S. military attacks on the countries where the terrorists were operating -- attacks which, in the Pentagon's words, would put those nations' "sovereignty at risk." It was a plan that countenanced -- indeed, encouraged -- the deliberate murder of innocent people and the imposition of U.S. military rule anywhere in the world that U.S. leaders desired. . . . This plan is now being activated. . . . In fact, it's being expanded, as The New Yorker's Seymour Hersh revealed last week. Not only will U.S.-directed agents infiltrate existing terrorist groups and provoke them into action, but the Pentagon itself will create its own terrorist groups and "death squads." After establishing their terrorist "credentials" through various atrocities and crimes, these American-run groups will then be able to ally with -- and ultimately undermine -- existing terrorist groups. . . . Top-level officials in the Pentagon, the U.S. intelligence services and the Bush administration confirmed to Hersh that the plan is going forward, under the direction of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld -- just as we noted here in November 2002. Through a series of secret executive orders, George W. Bush has given Rumsfeld the authority to turn the entire world into "a global free-fire zone," a top Pentagon adviser says. These secret operations will be carried out with virtually no oversight; in many cases, even the top military commanders in the affected regions will not be told about them. The American people, of course, will never know what's being done in their name. . . . The covert units -- including the Pentagon-funded terrorist groups and hit squads -- will be operating outside all constraints of law and morality. "We're going to be riding with the bad boys," one insider told Hersh. Another likened it to the palmy days of the Reagan-Bush years: "Do you remember the right-wing execution squads in El Salvador? We founded them and we financed them. The objective now is to recruit locals in any area we want. And we aren't going to tell Congress about it." Indeed, we reported here last summer that Bush has already budgeted $500 million to fund local paramilitaries and guerrilla groups in the most volatile areas of the world, a measure guaranteed to produce needless bloodshed, destruction and suffering for innocent people already ravaged by conflict. . . . the Bush regime is pressing ahead with a hard-line strategy aimed at opening new military fronts in the "global free-fire zone." Any dissenting voices within the government are being ruthlessly purged. The Pentagon's secret forces are set for operations in at least 10 countries, and Bush insiders "repeatedly" told Hersh that "Iran is the next strategic target." . . . In their ignorance and arrogance, the Bushists will almost certainly strike at Iran -- despite the fact that even Iranian dissidents support the effort to make their nation a nuclear power and would join the mullahs in retaliation. The result will be a conflict far surpassing the horror and magnitude of the Iraq disaster. . . . In our original report on the Pentagon's terror scheme, we wrote: "Bush and his cohorts are plunging the world into an abyss, an endless night of murder and terror -- wholesale, retail, state-sponsored, privatized; of fear and degradation, servility, chaos, and the perversion of all that's best in us." Now the night has come. Now the United States stands openly -- even proudly -- for terrorism, torture and the Hitlerian principle of aggressive war. America has fallen into the pit -- and the hopes of the world go with it.
. . . Read more!

posted by Lorenzo 11:59 AM

Fascists Arrest Raging Grannies At Recruiting Center
(by Emrys, July 13, 2005, ArizonaIndymedia.org)
Several Raging Grannies, along with an Indymedia journalist (myself), were arrested for trespassing Wednesday after they entered an Army recruiting office and attempted to enlist. . . . The Grannies were hoping the recruiters would have shown more humor with the activists. Instead, Sgt. Richardson called Tucson police and had everyone cited. . . . The mood before the action was light and joyous. Protestors have been showing up in front of the military recruiting offices on Speedway each Wednesday morning since the pledge of resistance began over 3 years ago. . . . Nearly 20 people lined the sidewalk this morning with signs and American flags with peace symbols. Most motorists honked and waived at the rally, which delights Granny Pat Birnie. . . . "They can hear the honks inside," she said, hinting towards the recruiters' offices. . . . At 9:00 am, the Grannies split off from the rally and made a plan of action. They warmed up their voices with "God Help America," then headed for the Army's office. . . . The Grannies stood in front of the office and sang more songs, prompting Army Sgt. Richardson to close the door to his office. After a few minutes, they began to enter the Army's office, stating that they wished to enlist. The recruiters tried to turn them away, saying that protestors are not allowed on their property, but the willful Grannies made their way in. . . . After spending a few minutes reading a prepared statement and singing a few more songs, the Sergeant told them that they must leave, and that charges were going to be pressed. Both recruiters seemed uncomfortable and were unwilling to confront the elderly choir, keeping their backs turned and pretending to do office work. While on the phone, Sgt. Richardson said he had a "room full of elderly ladies." . . . "They were afraid of us," said Elizabeth Richards shortly after leaving the office. "They had to be looking at papers or on the phone." Richards has been a Raging Granny for 2 years. . . . After everyone had left the building and filed back to the sidewalk, TPD officer S. Morken arrived and asked Sgt. Richardson to point out everyone who was in his office, including myself (two other journalists were not cited.) . . . According to Lt. Col. Hickins, a Battalion Commander from Phoenix, the charges were pressed by the landlord of the building, not the Army itself. He declined to give any other information about the incident. . . . No one was expecting to be arrested for the action. "This is the only contingency we hadn't planned on," Birnie said afterwards. . . . Birnie said that the Raging Grannies have already contacted Mayor Walkup's office about the incident, but he was out of town for the day. . . . "My sense is that it's such an absurd charge that the judge will excuse it," she said.

The Tucson Raging Grannies is a project of the Tucson Branch of the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom. The Grannies sing their messages by creating new words to familiar tunes, to convey their angst against federal policies that undermine our national security, environmental sustainability, and first amendment rights (and to add humor to our protests). They have performed at peace rallies and other local events since forming three years ago. The Raging Grannies was first initiated by Canadian activists 19 years ago. The idea has spread throughout the world, and can be traced on the internet. The Tucson WILPF Grannies is included in the local branch web site: www.wilpftucson.org Contact Margaret Pecoraro 885-3908 or Pat Birnie 908-9269
. . . Read more!

posted by Lorenzo 10:11 PM

The Daily Show, Wings of Justice Honoree
July 20, 2005

The Daily Show

Should people who get paid for telling the truth through humor receive the BuzzFlash "Wings of Justice Award"? Apparently, a lot of our readers think the answer is "Yes." And we couldn't agree more.

After all, Jon Stewart and his colleagues could have fashioned a Jay Leno style comedy hour filled with pabulum and lame jokes.

Instead, "The Daily Show" is designed to employ humor as a razor-edged scalpel to perform daily autopsies on the lies, deceptions and incompetence of our politicians, celebrities and the mainstream press. Stewart and his crew employ wit, satire and parody to pierce the veil of pomposity and hypocrisy. In doing so, they arrive on the other side of a laugh with an insight that is a million times closer to the truth than you'll ever read in the New York Times.

Ironically, in this Orwellian age, a comedy show that embraces the truth provides a life vest of sanity to those who still revere honesty and common sense.

A few months back, Jon Stewart blew CNN out of the water by assailing the sensationalism and irrelevance of what is called modern television "news." Stewart didn't get where he is by cowering before the false idols of the corrupt status quo. He blazed his own path by holding those with power accountable for their mendacity and idiocy.

Jon Stewart and your staff at "The Daily Show," we are proud to present you with this week's BuzzFlash "Wings of Justice Award."

* * *

The winning nominator is: John LaDue of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
. . . Read more!

posted by Lorenzo 3:01 PM

Bush Regime Committed Treason with Plame Leaks
(Jim VandeHei and Mike Allen, Washington Post, July 17, 2005)
Rove told prosecutors he had discussed Plame in passing with at least two reporters, including the columnist [Robert Novak] who eventually revealed her name and role in a secret mission that would raise questions about Bush's case for war against Iraq. At the same time, other White House officials were whispering about Plame, too. . . . It is now clear: There has been an element of pretense to the White House strategy of dealing with the Plame case since the earliest days of the saga. Revelations emerging slowly at first, and in a rapid cascade over the past several days, have made plain that many important pieces of the puzzle were not so mysterious to Rove and others inside the Bush administration. White House officials were aware of Plame and her husband's potentially damaging charge that Bush was "twisting" intelligence about Iraq's nuclear ambitions well before the episode evolved into Washington's latest scandal. . . . Wilson was a veteran of the diplomatic wars of Iraq and Africa, so it seemed logical to some in the CIA, including his wife, Plame, to send him on a secret mission to Niger. Wilson's task was to determine if Iraqis had tried to purchase yellowcake uranium from Africa to build nuclear weapons. . . . To a Bush administration intent on selling the American public on war based on the threat posed by Iraq's weapons program, the yellowcake was no small deal. The White House would soon cite it as evidence that Saddam Hussein was pursuing nuclear weapons. . . . Wilson spent a week in Niger chatting with locals about the allegation, coming to the conclusion that the yellowcake charges were probably unfounded. He reported his findings to the agency -- but they never made their way to the White House. . . . The story might have ended there, but Bush, Vice President Cheney and other officials decided to make the yellowcake charges a central piece of the administration's evidence in arguing Hussein had designs on a dangerous program of weapons of mass destruction, including nuclear bombs. . . . The White House, hailing the lightning-quick toppling of Hussein, suddenly found itself on the defensive at home over its WMD claims. It was not just Wilson, but Democrats, reporters and a few former officials who were publicly wondering if Bush had led the nation to war based on flimsy, if not outright false, intelligence. . . . one month before the Plame affair was public -- Wilson was on the administration's radar screen. . . . The more Wilson pushed, the more the White House was determined to push back against a man they regarded as an irresponsible provocateur. . . . Two days after Wilson went public, columnist Robert D. Novak told Rove that he was hearing that Wilson had been sent on the mission at the suggestion of his wife, who was working in the CIA, a lawyer familiar with the conversation said. "I heard that, too," Rove replied, according to the lawyer. Rove said Novak had told him Plame's name and that that was the first time he had heard it, the lawyer said. . . . That could be seen as being at odds with Rove's comments to CNN on Aug. 31, 2004, when he said, "I'll repeat what I said to ABC News when this whole thing broke some number of months ago. I didn't know her name. I didn't leak her name." . . . On July 7, Bush took off for a trip to Africa. Secretary of State Colin L. Powell, who was on the trip, carried with him a memo containing information about Plame, as well as other intelligence on the yellowcake claim. It is on this trip that, prosecutors believe, some White House aides might have learned about Plame. . . . Rove and others were discrediting Wilson's story even as then-CIA director George J. Tenet said that the yellowcake allegation should never have been included in Bush's speech. . . . Rove told Time magazine's Matthew Cooper that Wilson's wife was in the CIA and authorized the mission to Niger; but he did not use her name. . . . A day later, Cheney's top aide, I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, told Cooper he had heard the same thing about Plame, and a senior administration official flagged the role of Wilson's wife, almost in passing, to The Washington Post's Walter Pincus. . . . On July 14, Novak's column ran, naming Plame for the first time and saying two senior administration officials had provided him the information. . . . Rove told MSNBC's Chris Matthews that Plame was fair game, even as White House spokesman Scott McClellan was denying any White House role in the leak. "I'm telling you flatly that that is not the way this White House operates," the spokesman told reporters July 22. . . . CIA officials believed that the revealing of Plame's identity was a potential crime and contacted the Justice Department to investigate. CIA officials maintain that Plame never ordered up the trip. . . . in late September, a senior White House official was quoted as telling The Post at least six reporters had been told of Plame before Novak's column, "purely and simply out of revenge." Two days later, Bush was told that the Justice Department was investigating whether someone had unlawfully leaked the identity of an undercover agent. . . . What started out as a simple investigation into a leak evolved slowly at first, swiftly in the early days of 2004, into a wider probe of other potential illegalities. . . . [COMMENT by Lorenzo: I am now fondly thinking back to those early days of the Watergate investigation. For once, I do hope that history repeats itself, as they say it does only for the very stupid.] . . . Bush and Cheney were asked to talk to investigators informally, while a parade of officials from Powell to Rove to McClellan appeared before the grand jury. . . . Lawyers who have sat in on the prosecutors' interviews said Fitzgerald cast a wide net, adopting a broad view of the case. Some witnesses were asked only about the initial disclosure, others about possible misstatements during the investigative phase. Some were brought in several times. Rove, for example, was grilled by FBI agents twice in formal meetings and asked to respond to questions in informal settings, and appeared three times before the grand jury -- all between October 2003 and October 2004, said a person familiar with his testimony. . . . The showdown over sources has already impeded at least two major media outlets. The Cleveland Plain Dealer, fearing criminal prosecution, has decided against publishing two investigative pieces not related to the Plame controversy because they were based on anonymous leaks. And Time reporters have said that at least two sources have told them they would no longer provide information because the company turned over documents in the Plame case. . . . As for the Bush administration, the investigation has exposed how an administration that publicly deplores leaking has engaged aggressively in the practice to advance its goals.

[COMMENT by Lorenzo: We've been told that Rove was Cooper's source, and that he called to say that is was OK for Cooper to reveal him as the source in question. But Judith Miller went to jail because her source wasn't so gracious. Now let me ask you, who is so powerful and so scary and so criminally insane that he could and would have Judith Miller wiped out if she revealed his name? Hmmm, now who could that be? . . . Maybe, ... Darth Vadar?]
. . . Read more!

posted by Lorenzo 9:02 PM

Treason from the Bush White House
(Larry Johnson, TPMCafe Special Guests, July 13, 2005)
The misinformation being spread in the media about the Plame affair is alarming and damaging to the longterm security interests of the United States. Republicans' talking points are trying to savage Joe Wilson and, by implication, his wife, Valerie Plame as liars. That is the truly big lie. . . . For starters, Valerie Plame was an undercover operations officer until outed in the press by Robert Novak. Novak's column was not an isolated attack. It was in fact part of a coordinated, orchestrated smear that we now know includes at least Karl Rove. . . . Valerie Plame was a classmate of mine from the day she started with the CIA. I entered on duty at the CIA in September 1985. All of my classmates were undercover--in other words, we told our family and friends that we were working for other overt U.S. Government agencies. We had official cover. That means we had a black passport--i.e., a diplomatic passport. If we were caught overseas engaged in espionage activity the black passport was a get out of jail free card. . . . A few of my classmates, and Valerie was one of these, became a non-official cover officer. That meant she agreed to operate overseas without the protection of a diplomatic passport. If caught in that status she would have been executed. . . . The lies by people like Victoria Toensing, Representative Peter King, and P. J. O'Rourke insist that Valerie was nothing, just a desk jockey. Yet, until Robert Novak betrayed her she was still undercover and the company that was her front was still a secret to the world. When Novak outed Valerie he also compromised her company and every individual overseas who had been in contact with that company and with her. . . . The Republicans now want to hide behind the legalism that "no laws were broken". I don't know if a man made law was broken but an ethical and moral code was breached. For the first time a group of partisan political operatives publically identified a CIA NOC. They have set a precendent that the next group of political hacks may feel free to violate. . . . The Republicans insist on the lie that Val got her husband the job. She did not. She was not a division director, instead she was the equivalent of an Army major. Yes it is true she recommended her husband to do the job that needed to be done but the decision to send Joe Wilson on this mission was made by her bosses. . . . At the end of the day, Joe Wilson was right. There were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. It was the Bush Administration that pushed that lie and because of that lie Americans are dying. Shame on those who continue to slander Joe Wilson while giving Bush and his pack of liars a pass. That's the true outrage.
. . . Read more!

posted by Lorenzo 11:57 AM

Bush is Killing America by Claiming Failure as Proof of Success
(BuzzFlash Editorial, July 11, 2005)
. . . . . [Click the link above for the main arguments of this excellent editorial. Here is how it ends:]

The White House has gotten away with so much gibberish in their efforts to justify their failures in fighting terrorism that you wouldn't let a toddler off without a punishment for such balderdash. On Iraq alone, Bush used multiple successive reasons to justify the disastrous invasion, including WMDs (that didn't exist), regime change, democratization and the latest crazed "flypaper" strategy. And that's just to name a few. As each one is proven flawed, Rove writes up a new excuse for Bush, and the press transcribes it for the masses. . . . It would be laughable, except having the Keystone Cops in charge of protecting us threatens our lives, the lives of our family members, and our national security. Even if Bush were successful in halting terrorism, which he's not been, he is letting Osama bin Laden (who he promised to get "dead or alive" in a macho moment -- and failed at that, too) bankrupt our country, which makes for a terrorist victory of another kind. . . . The ultimate fallback for the Bush Administration position (particularly championed in backroom whispers by Cheney and Rumsfeld) is that we have to stick it out in Iraq because otherwise we will appear to be weak and then we will really get creamed. Of course, this was their argument about the Vietnam War as they reluctantly presided over the evacuation of Saigon under President Ford. . . . Then again, there's a biographical history at work here: this has been the pattern of George Bush's life. He fails, gets into a jam, and then expects everyone else to bail him out, which his father's friends did again and again in George's checkered business career. (Even with all the "assistance," he only really made big money when some of daddy's friends "rented" his name as GM of the Texas Rangers and used eminent domain to seize property adjacent to a new stadium, which allowed George to profit handsomely from a job that consisted largely of being a greeter and autograph signer at baseball games.) . . . But if the strategy to "tough out" the Iraq blunder is based on the ludicrous presumption that there are a fixed number of terrorists, and, therefore, you can drain the swamp, we are doomed. The reality, even according to some of Bush's intelligence officers, is that the Iraq war is motivating a new generation of terrorists. In short, Bush is in the business of creating terrorism through "the blunderbuss approach." . . . Despite Bush's firm belief that he is leading a religious Crusade, a University of Chicago professor has documented that suicide bombers, for example, are politically motivated, not religiously inspired for the most part. The strategic implications of such a finding are far reaching, but, most significantly, it means Bush is 180 degrees off course, and we -- the American and Iraqi people -- are paying the price. . . . There are no finite number of terrorists that can be drawn to the "flypaper" of Iraq. Bush is regenerating terrorists daily with his "Ostrich" approach to national security. . . . As that great political scientist Groucho Marx said: "This is so easy to get, a four year old could understand it....Hey run out and get me a four year old." . . . It's our lives that are at stake. . . . This is not about political maneuvering. It's about our lives being held in the hands of a grossly incompetent administration, filled with failed ideologues who believe they are enlightened masters of the universe. . . . But they are just 9 levels above their Peter Principle level of ability -- and our lives are at risk as a result. . . . Run out and get us some four-year-olds to put in the White House, Congress, and as reporters in the Mainstream Media. . . . We need help on an emergency basis.
. . . Read more!

posted by Lorenzo 2:06 PM

Black Churches Set On Fire in Tennessee
(Gary Tanner, The Associated Press, 09 July 2005)
Seven arson fires broke out yesterday in a neighborhood in this small Middle Tennessee town, inflicting heavy damage on two black churches and burning five vacant houses, authorities said. . . . The churches that burned were on the same street. As firefighters arrived to fight one fire, Selby said, "They looked down the street, and the other church was fully involved." . . . The FBI, Tennessee Bureau of Investigation and White County Sheriff's Department are investigating. The FBI was called in because federal law covers church arson. Authorities have interviewed 17 people, and two of those interviews were conducted at the White County Jail, but Selby said there are no suspects yet. . . . Roberts Street Church of Christ was destroyed while Kynette United Methodist Church was heavily damaged. Both served black congregations, Mayor Tom Pedigo said. . . . About 5% of Sparta's 5,000 residents are black, according to census figures. . . . "It was a hurtful feeling, an empty feeling in my stomach. I've spent many a year in there," Leftwich said. . . . Between 30 and 40 people are members at Kynette UMC, which was established in the 1880s and rebuilt as a brick structure in 1960. Yesterday, the exterior was stained by smoke and the roof was sagging where the fire burned through. . . . "The interior is just about ruined, the musical instruments are ruined and the basement is ruined," church member Tommy Glenn said. . . . At the end of the meeting, the residents held hands for a prayer by the Rev. Ever Mudambanuki of Kynette UMC. . . . "This is the devil's work. We have forgiven them, but we want them to be caught," she said.
. . . Read more!

posted by Lorenzo 7:00 PM

The DRAFT! Is it coming back?
(Frida Berrigan, AlterNet. July 5, 2005)
In city streets, town squares and rural strip malls, military recruiters are beleaguered. The Army is unable to meet recruiting targets even after lowering quotas and standards. At the same time, recruiters are overwhelmed by scandal and scrutiny, and uncomfortable in the face of growing anti-war sentiment. . . . Though half a world away, the war in Iraq feels close. Mounting U.S. casualties, exhausted soldiers and an intractable civil conflict in which the only thing different factions agree on is that U.S. soldiers are the problem, make military service increasingly unattractive to even the most gung-ho patriot. Meanwhile, Washington is determined to "stay the course" right over the brink. . . . J.E. McNeil, executive director of the Center on Conscience & War, is preparing for the worst. She sees a "perfect storm" of conditions brewing a return to the draft. So far, more than one million U.S. military personnel have served in Iraq and Afghanistan. An estimated 341,000 soldiers have done double deployments (and many are now entering their third deployment). And they are not just serving, they are dying. More than 1,700 have been killed, and an average of two more soldiers die each day. . . . Recruiters are hiding police records, mental illness and physical ailments to make their quotas. An Army investigation into recruitment improprieties found 1,118 incidents involving one in five recruiters. . . . Recruiters and some senior army officers admit that for every documented impropriety, there are at least two more that are never discovered. "We have to play fast and loose with the rules just to get by," one recruiter told The New York Times. . . . "The only people who want to join the Army now have issues; they're troubled, with health, police or drug problems." . . . McNeil's perspective that the draft is creeping back is strengthened by recent announcements by Selective Service that it can now register and draft healthcare workers, computer specialists, linguists and other personnel if necessary. In March, the SSS issued a report notifying the President that "it would be ready to implement a draft within 75 days" following Congressional authorization. . . . Military expert David Segal believes that a new military conscription policy would galvanize an anti-draft movement that would dwarf that of the 1960s. . . . There [already] is the "poverty draft" of young people who are told the military is their only path to a career; the "backdoor draft" of the Stop-Loss program which mandates soldiers stay in active duty for up to 24 months after their contracts have expired; "the senior draft" in which reservists (who make up 40 percent of the fighting force in Iraq) are compelled back into active military service; and finally, there is the "secret draft" of mercenaries and private military contractors. . . . Kevin Ramirez, an organizer with the Central Committee for Conscientious Objectors, catalogues recent actions making the military very unwelcome in schools and on campuses. . . . At Seattle Central Community College in January, "students literally chased Army recruiters off campus." The following month, college students in New Haven tabling with counter-recruitment materials "received so much positive attention from other students" that the military recruiters packed up their tables and left. In Bloomington, Minnesota, Ramirez continues, a high school group fought their administration and the American Legion to allow "counter-recruitment tables and information" equal access to their school and they won. . . . The movement against Stop-Loss, counter-recruitment actions, young people organizing to get the military out of their schools, and the ongoing work to end the war and bring the troops home resonates today and tomorrow, whether or not President Bush asks Congress to vote to reinstate the draft. These movements sustain hope and save lives, while hinting at what a de-militarized United States would look like. These movements prove that we don't have to wait for a draft to have an impact.
. . . Read more!

posted by Lorenzo 11:53 AM

Sandra Day O'Connor Resigns. Save the Courts!

We need to make it clear to radical right that we won't stand for extremist supreme court nominees.

Here are some suggested clicking points:

Join MoveOn.org's signature campaign.

Join the People For the American Way and their campaign. [editor's note: I have a friend who works for them. They're a great group! ~josh]

Let the mouse be mightier than the sword!
. . . Read more!

posted by JJW 8:19 PM

Prominent American News Commentator Wants to Nuke Iraq!
[Click the link above for the full transcript (on the Nihilist in Golf Pants blog) and a link to the audio feed where Paul Harvey goes over the edge.]

I was just listening to the stream of the "Inner Vision" show on Pacifica's KPFK (90.7 FM in L.A.) radio. On toda'’s program, the host, Michael Benner, played a four minute cut from a recent Paul Harvey broadcast. You remember Harvey, don't you? He's the 87 year old conservative fossil who obviously is suffering from dementia.

Here is a little of what Crazy Paul had to say:

[Speaking about what we did after 9-11]
We kept our best weapons in their silos. Even now, we're standing there dying, daring to do nothing decisive because we've declared ourselves to be better than our terrorist enemies

But we didn't come this far because we are made of sugar candy. Once upon a time we uh, elbowed our way onto and into this continent by giving smallpox infected blankets to Native Americans. Yes, that was biological warfare. And we used every other weapon we could get our hands on to grab this land from whomever and we grew prosperous. And yes, we greased the skids with the sweat of slaves. And so it goes with most great nation-states, which feeling guilty about their savage pasts, eventually civilize themselves out of business and wind up invaded and ultimately dominated by the lean, hungry, up and coming who are not made of sugar candy.

So did I get that right, Harvey thinks this country is too moral? After admitting that we used slavery and biological warfare to steal the land on this continent, he says that was OK, since we've become prosperous by doing so. This is pure Fascist Christian thinking. Yet, my guess is that our Beloved Dictator thinks that nutty Paul Harvey is a great American thinker. . . . It's going to be a miracle if we survive the next three years of the Bush Junta without Little Georgie pushing the nuclear button a few times. Let's hope he doesn't get wind of this Paul Harvey rant.

. . . And BTW, why hasn't the mainstream media been talking about this insane idea by one of this country's leading influencers of public opinon.
. . . Read more!

posted by Lorenzo 1:47 PM

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