Sunday, March 21, 2004

9/11

Richard Clarke, the former NSC "terrorist czar" whose book Against All Enemies comes out tomorrow, was interviewed by Leslie Stahl on 60 Minutes tonight. Mr. Clarke made no bones about his opinion of the Bush administration. He is a man of few words, direct and unapologetic. He said he's expecting the White House to unleash their dogs on him, and claims the timing of his book is because he is so outraged that Bush is using his stance on terrorism as the cornerstone of his reselection campaign, when, as Mr. Clarke put it, Bush "did nothing" before 9/11, and went straight for Iraq post 9/11, knowing that Iraq had nothing to do with any terrorist attacks, making us, in Mr. Clarke's opinion, "less safe".

Ms. Stahl asked Clarke what he remembers feeling on 9/11, and he replied that he felt a raging anger at both al Qaeda and our own government. Her last remark was: that anger shows in your book, and his was: it should.

Billmon has a post discussing Clarke.

And Bill C. forwards the following message:

Subject: ACTION ALERT! - Amy Goodman may expose 9-11 cover-up!
Date: Thu, 18 Mar 2004 17:19:06 -0800 (PST)
From: webmaster@septembereleventh.org

Dear 9-11 Activist,

I called Democracy Now today (Thursday, March 18) and spoke with producer Sharif Abdel Kouddous about having more coverage of the 9-11 cover-up. I suggested they invite David Ray Griffin on the show, author of "The New Pearl Harbor," a new book fully exposing the Bush Administration's complicity in the 9-11 attacks. Griffin's book has been endorsed by Howard Zinn. Here's a link to the book: http://www.interlinkbooks.com/New_Pearl_Harbor.html

And here's the good news: Sharif told me they have received many similar calls and are "seriously considering" having Griffin on the show.

This is an INCREDIBLE opportunity! David Ray Griffin's book provides a detailed analysis of the physical evidence for US Government complicity. If Amy Goodman has him on the show, it will be a tremendous step forward for the 9-11 Truth movement!

Please help by contacting Democracy Now TODAY and requesting that they have David Ray Griffin on the show
(contact info below). Also, forward this email to as many individuals and lists as you can. SPREAD THE WORD!!!

Emanuel Sferios
Webmaster, 9-11 Visibility Project
http://www.septembereleventh.org

-----
Contact info for Democracy Now:

Phone: (212) 431-9090
FAX: (212) 431-8858

EMAIL ADDRESSES:
General email account: mail@democracynow.org
Producer/Correspondent Jeremy Scahill: jeremy@democracynow.org
Producer Mike Burke: mike@democracynow.org
Producer Sharif Abdel Kouddous: sharif@democracynow.org
TV Producer Ana Nogueira: ana@democracynow.org
TV Producer Elizabeth Press: elizabeth@democracynow.org
Assistant Engineer Rich Kim: rich@democracynow.org
Digital Media Programmer Lee Azzarello: lee@democracynow.org
Development Director Karen Ranucci: karen@democracynow.org
Outreach Coordinator Denis Moynihan: denis@democracynow.org
Distribution Manager Jennifer Filippazzo: jenny@democracynow.org
Volunteer Coordinator Carmen Mitchell: carmen@democracynow.org
Angie Karran: angie@democracynow.org

EMAIL ADDRESS QUICK-LIST (copy and paste):
mail@democracynow.org, jeremy@democracynow.org, mike@democracynow.org, sharif@democracynow.org, ana@democracynow.org, elizabeth@democracynow.org, rich@democracynow.org, lee@democracynow.org, karen@democracynow.org, denis@democracynow.org, jenny@democracynow.org, carmen@democracynow.org, angie@democracynow.org

SNAIL MAIL ADDRESS:
Democracy Now!
PO Box 693, New York, NY 10013

Some suggestions for your emails and phone calls:

(1) First off, note that the primary reason Democracy Now is considering having David Ray Griffin on the show
is because his book (certain to be attacked as "conspiracy theory") has been endorsed by none other than Howard Zinn, author of "A People's History of the United States." Zinn--along with Richard Falk, who wrote the Foreword--is the most prominent left academic in the US to date (in league with Noam Chomsky) to endorse the full critique of the official story of 9-11. Others are certain to follow his example, since many have simply been waiting for an opportune time to come forward. So be sure in your emails and phone calls to Democracy Now that you mention Howard Zinn's endorsement of Griffin's book.

(2) Next, the alternative left media has been traditionally hesitant to address issues easily attacked as "conspiracy theories." Unfortunately, the conspiracy theory label has been effectively used in the past to marginalize dissident voices and turn mainstream Americans off to alternative analysis and research. To deflect these attacks, the left media chooses to frame their perspective using what they describe as an "institutional analysis" rather than a "conspiracy analysis." The idea is that US aggression (like the recent ouster of Aristide in Haiti) is the logical and expected consequence of corporate, profit-based institutions. Of course there is no contradiction between the two types of analysis. The point is simply to be aware of the left media perspective when you speak or write to them. For example, you may want to use the word "complicity" rather than "conspiracy" in your emails and phone calls.

(3) Remember to always be polite. Thank them for their commitment to peace and justice and for covering issues (like Haiti) typically ignored by the corporate media. Remind them that the Bush Administration's complicity in 9-11 is one of these same issues, and that 9-11 continues to be the driving force behind the bogus "war on terror."


There's that old bogeyman "conspiracy theory" for the second time - it started the day, and it's ending it. Coincidence.....or cosmic conspiracy?

....hey, believe what you want....you will anyway.


    
Click graphics for reviews


Update 3/22/04: Via Sadly No! via Bob's Links & Rants, here's a transcript of the interview.

Spain

The Spanish terrorist group - or freedom fighters, whichever you like - ETA (which was not responsible for the recent Madrid bombings) is seeking a dialogue with the new government, but has been denied.

I must say, this terrorist group is a dapper, nattily clad bunch.



....but hey, do what you want....you will anyway.

Correction

I've seen a correction of the Chavez speech in which he allegedly called Bush an asshole, which claims that what he really said was "jerk". I figure there isn't a whole lot of difference in intent, but there could be some finer nit picking in the diplomatic world where the second translation would be more acceptable.

Unfortunately, I don't have a transcript of the actual speech to look at, but today, I see another correction which says the term Chavez used was "pendejo", which this article says means "coward".

But wait...Babelfish translator translates "pendejo" to....

"asshole".

I prefer "asshole" anyway, because that's really the most accurate descriptor, whether it's what Mr. Chavez said or not.

It's really kind of interesting to compare/contrast Bush and Chavez. The proletariat of America makes jokes about Bush being a chimp, and the aristocracy of Venezuela calls Chavez "eso mono" (that monkey). They carry protest signs in the image of a gorilla. Both men are referred to by their detractors as uncouth cowboys. Both can be seen in photo ops wearing denim jeans and shirts. Both have a reputation for saying inopportune things. Both are an embarrassment to their detractors.

But, Bush is completely divorced from the common people, and Chavez is completely divorced from the aristocracy. Bush was born into the ruling wealthy elite class and educated at Yale, Chavez was born to poor school teachers and joined the military as a young man where he rose through the ranks. Bush, who admits he doesn't even read newspapers, can barely make it through a complete sentence, and Chavez is a well-read, clever man with the gift of gab.

Once in office he brilliantly used Venezuela's membership of OPEC, turning the country into a price hawk bent on boosting oil prices. In this way, he garnered revenues to pay for new social programs -- and signaled simultaneously that Venezuela was no longer the creature of the US...

...By turns he is demagogic, cajoling, bullying, and threatening, vulgar or downright silly. He will sing, crack jokes, lambast some businessman or labor leader who has crossed him, quoting with equal adroitness from the Bible, Das Kapital, Simon Bolivar or even John Kenneth Galbraith on the iniquities of modern industrial society.

..."He's very confrontational, and rash in terms of choosing his enemies," says Larry Birns of the Council for Hemispheric Affairs in Washington, who has met Chavez several times. "He goes after everyone, the church, business, and labor; and he's far too dependent on the military." But for all the charges of totalitarian rule, there are no political prisoners, no censorship, and virtually unfettered freedom of assembly.  source

Venezuela is in better hands. Para ahora.

Previous posts on Venezuela
More information on Venezuela

Richard Clarke's testimony

"The president dragged me into a room with a couple of other people, shut the door, and said, 'I want you to find whether Iraq did this.' Now he never said, 'Make it up.' But the entire conversation left me in absolutely no doubt that George Bush wanted me to come back with a report that said Iraq did this. "I said, 'Mr. President. We've done this before. We have been looking at this. We looked at it with an open mind. There's no connection.' "He came back at me and said, "Iraq! Saddam! Find out if there's a connection.' And in a very intimidating way. I mean that we should come back with that answer."

..."We got together all the FBI experts, all the CIA experts. We wrote the report. We sent the report out to CIA and found FBI and said, 'Will you sign this report?' They all cleared the report. And we sent it up to the president and it got bounced by the National Security Advisor or Deputy. It got bounced and sent back saying, 'Wrong answer. ... Do it again.'

"I have no idea, to this day, if the President saw it, because after we did it again, it came to the same conclusion. And frankly, I don't think the people around the president show him memos like that. I don't think he sees memos that he doesn't-- wouldn't like the answer."
  via Billmon

If we're gonna be buddies
Better bone up on the rules
'Cause don't nobody bring me no bad news
You can be my best of friend
As opposed to payin' dues
But don't nobody bring me no bad news


Song: Don't Nobody Bring Me No Bad News
From: The Wiz
Sung by: Mabel King (the Wicked Witch of the West) & The Winkies
Lyrics: Charlie Smalls


Of course the first word out of the WH is that they can find no evidence this conversation between Clarke and Little Caligula ever took place, I wonder how they'll handle it over the long haul. Paul O'Neill's comments about Prince Vindictive being a blind man in a room full of deaf people (or something to that effect), and not engaging in any meaningful policy conversations, sure didn't hold attention for very long. I think that was news for about three days.

But, if anyone should want to pursue it (which leaves out mainstream media), this is a pretty damning piece of information. I assume it will be in Clarke's testimony to the 9/11 Worthless Commission.

....hey, do what you want....you will anyway.

Electrolite

I've recently linked Patrick Nielsen Hayden's Electrolite on my recommended sites page. I haven't been reading this site more than a week or so, but so far, I like it.

Here's a sample (but not necessarily representative) post (from March 19):

A well-known conservative pundit disses liberals for being interested in “conspiracy theories”:
Liberals have always loved conspiracy theories because raising the specter of foul play and dirty tricks is an easy and convenient justification for ignoring their own political and policy failures.
You can understand why this particular writer is interested in cutting off talk about “foul play and dirty tricks,” seeing as he’s Oliver North.

As commenter Bruce Arthurs remarks:
I dunno, but when someone who actually took part in a secret conspiracy at the highest levels of government says conspiracy theories are bunk…
Yeah, imagine suspecting that people in the White House might be illegally conspiring with terrorists, drug dealers, and hostile foreign powers. Liberals sure are nuts.


The reason I bring this particular post to play here is so I can once again say: conspiracy theories are not theory. I see no reason to feel like a nut when considering them. Often enough the best you can do is speculate on the evidence, and a collection of leads and probabilities/possibilities is all you'll get. But to label someone a tin foil hat wearer for considering them is an act of ignorant or intentionally misleading people. One of Electrolite's commenters has put it very well:

...People have conspired since before the pyramids were built. Brutus and Caesar. Gilgamesh, for crying out loud. The attachment of bogosity to something as real as hydrology and as old as architecture should strike people as odd and highly significant. It's one more line of defense, behind which real actual certified 100% conspiracies can play out unaccused. Scum like that that rises toward Washington can immediately snap back, "Conspiracy theory!" the way they did for a while about "...things you read on the internet..." But it has another, more desirable effect. Besides relegating anything that even smells like accusations of conspired action to the back of the room, it enables weaker minds to ignore that insistent warning buzz they keep hearing. It's a slamming down of the lid to Pandora's box.


(P.S. If you dig into some of the FOIA and declassified documents of CIA, NSA, and black budget military projects, you might have to quit scoffing at people who wear tin foil hats, too.)

....but hey, do what you want....you will anyway.

Saturday, March 20, 2004

Once again - why we had to secure Iraq for U.S. interests

Yes, it was the oil. But the corrollary is the demand for U.S. dollars. And Saddam had started selling oil for euros.

In October 2000, Iraq persuaded the United Nations to allow Iraqi oil to be sold for euros instead of dollars, with effect from November 6. Iraq then converted its entire $10 billion "oil for food" reserve fund from dollars to euros. These events went unreported in the US media.
  article

Which may be what gets Venezuela "liberated" by U.S. troops, too. Chavez not only talks about selling oil for euros, he has created a bartering system that directly trades oil for goods, thereby cutting out the middle-man dollar. (And, if you haven't already guessed, Iran and Syria both want to sell oil for euros.)

Dollar hegemony was secured by the size of the US economy and the pricing of oil in dollars. But if a second currency were allowed into the oil market, it would soon become a general-purpose trading and reserve currency, especially if it were legal tender in an economy comparable in size to the USA.

And that, of course, is also why Double-face and crones have been so pointed in trying to drive a wedge between "Old Europe" and "New Europe".

The Euro Zone already has a bigger share of world trade than the USA. In particular, it imports more oil than the USA and is the main trading partner of the Middle East. It offers higher interest rates than the USA, but does not have a huge foreign debt or trade deficit. Member states must accept tight constraints on budget deficits, and the European Central Bank has an exceptionally strong mandate to preserve the purchasing power of its currency. These things inspire confidence in the euro. In 2002, the central banks of Russia, China, Taiwan and Canada converted some of their reserves from dollars to euros. The strength of the euro also encourages expansion of the EU and puts pressure on current members Denmark, Sweden and the UK to join the Euro Zone. In December 2002, ten new countries were accepted for EU membership with effect from May 2004. This will create a common market of 450 million people, which will buy more than half of OPEC's oil.

I suspect that the fall of Spain to the socialist anti-Iraq-war government is more of a concern on the European Union front than it is on the anti-war front. I don't think we really are that concerned about the loss of Spanish soldiers (in fact, one of the generals in Iraq was quoted as saying, we'll simply adjust). I think that's a bit of a cover for the real concern, which I see as all of Europe growing even stronger around the Euro and OPEC countries switching to that currency.

I could be wrong. But that's the way it looks from here.

If the euro becomes a global currency to rival the dollar, central banks and other traders will sell down their dollar reserves, causing the value of the dollar to plummet (and devaluing the debts of poor countries at the expense of their creditors). The unwanted dollars will be withdrawn from the US asset market and will flood the market for US goods and services. The US property market will deflate (so that poor Americans can more easily afford homes, at the expense of current property owners). The US stock market, being more volatile than the property market, will fall faster. The real prices of property and shares will fall further than the dollar prices because the dollar itself will be devalued. The additional dollars chasing US goods and services will fuel domestic inflation. They will also increase exports, reducing the current account deficit to compensate for the slowdown of foreign investment, and reducing domestic living standards as measured by consumption of goods and services. Inevitably, the Federal Reserve will raise interest rates in order to reduce the inflation, support the dollar, attract more foreign investment, and delay the day of reckoning on which America will have to export real goods and services to pay for its imports, service its foreign debt, and accumulate reserves of euros. But that will not rescue the landowners and shareholders and bond holders, because their assets can be devalued not only by reduced foreign investment, but also by higher interest rates.

And of course the price of oil in US dollars will increase; but this time there will be no compensating increase in the global demand for dollars.


For another look at the importance of the threat to sell oil for euros, see The Real Reason for the War in Iraq.

March 20 - The world still says no to war

Hundreds of thousands took to streets across the world on Saturday to demand the withdrawal of U.S.-led occupying forces from Iraq on the first anniversary of the start of the war.

Journalists estimated at least a million people streamed through Rome in probably the biggest single protest...

"These aren't pacifist demonstrations. They are demonstrations against the United States, against the Italian government and, in many ways, against the West," Deputy Prime Minister Gianfranco Fini told the AGI news agency.

... The protests began in Asia where rallies took place in Australia, Japan, South Korea, India, Bangladesh and Thailand. They then moved to Europe through the day and more were expected in the Americas later.
  Yahoo Reuters article

Big protests pretty much everywhere.

9/11 Worthless Commission will get an earful from Clinton officials

Senior Clinton administration officials called to testify next week before the independent commission investigating the Sept. 11 attacks say they are prepared to detail how they repeatedly warned their Bush administration counterparts in late 2000 that Al Qaeda posed the worst security threat facing the nation — and how the new administration was slow to act.

They said the warnings were delivered in urgent post-election intelligence briefings in December 2000 and January 2001 for Condoleezza Rice, who became Mr. Bush's national security adviser; Stephen Hadley, now Ms. Rice's deputy; and Philip D. Zelikow, a member of the Bush transition team, among others.
  NY Times article

Ah-ha. Maybe we have just found out the real reason Miss Thang won't testify.

One official scheduled to testify, Richard A. Clarke, who was President Bill Clinton's counterterrorism coordinator, said in an interview that the warning about the Qaeda threat could not have been made more bluntly to the incoming Bush officials in intelligence briefings that he led.

At the time of the briefings, there was extensive evidence tying Al Qaeda to the bombing in Yemen two months earlier of an American warship, the Cole, in which 17 sailors were killed.

"It was very explicit," Mr. Clarke said of the warning given to the Bush administration officials. "Rice was briefed, and Hadley was briefed, and Zelikow sat in." Mr. Clarke served as Mr. Bush's counterterrorism chief in the early months of the administration, but after Sept. 11 was given a more limited portfolio as the president's cyberterrorism adviser.

And Mr. Clarke has a book about to hit the shelves. And a promo interview on 60 Minutes tomorrow.*

Testimony scheduled for Tuesday and Wednesday coming up.

"Remember those first months? The White House was focused on tax cuts, not terrorism. We saw the budgets for counterterrorism programs being cut."

..."The president and his team received briefings on the threat from Al Qaeda prior to taking office, and fighting terrorism became a top priority when this administration came into office," Sean McCormack, a White House spokesman, said. "We actively pursued the Clinton administration's policies on Al Qaeda until we could get into place a more comprehensive policy."

Which was...? Whatever it was, I don't think it worked real well.

And isn't it just a fine coincidence that the Mr. Zelikow who "sat in" on those Clinton administration briefings Mr. Clarke is talking about happens to be on the 9/11 Commission?

Worthless.

Actually, I think that the briefings probably were well heeded, and that's why the Bush Cons turned money and attention away from al Qa'ida. Bush was looking for his Trifecta, and his reason to go to war.


*From the interview:

Rumsfeld was saying we needed to bomb Iraq....We all said, 'but no, no. Al Qaeda is in Afghanistan. And Rumsfeld said, 'There aren't any good targets in Afghanistan and there are lots of good targets in Iraq.' I said, 'Well, there are lots of good targets in lots of places, but Iraq had nothing to do with [the September 11 attacks].'"


....but hey, do what you want....you will anyway.

Six of 17 suspended U.S. MPs have been charged with criminal offenses in Iraq

The seventeen were suspended in February. Aljazeera reports.

Jihad Unspun

Check out this website:



E-Bombs Away

The first major test of an American electromagnetic bomb is scheduled for next year. Ultimately, the Army hopes to use E-bomb technology to explode artillery shells in midflight. The Navy wants to use the E-bomb's high-power microwave pulses to neutralize antiship missiles. And, the Air Force plans to equip its bombers, strike fighters, cruise missiles and unmanned aerial vehicles with E-bomb capabilities. When fielded, these will be among the most technologically sophisticated weapons the U.S. military establishment has ever built.

...The next Pearl Harbor will not announce itself with a searing flash of nuclear light or with the plaintive wails of those dying of Ebola or its genetically engineered twin. You will hear a sharp crack in the distance. By the time you mistakenly identify this sound as an innocent clap of thunder, the civilized world will have become unhinged. Fluorescent lights and television sets will glow eerily bright, despite being turned off. The aroma of ozone mixed with smoldering plastic will seep from outlet covers as electric wires arc and telephone lines melt. Your Palm Pilot and MP3 player will feel warm to the touch, their batteries overloaded.

Your computer, and every bit of data on it, will be toast. And then you will notice that the world sounds different too. The background music of civilization, the whirl of internal-combustion engines, will have stopped. Save a few diesels, engines will never start again. You, however, will remain unharmed, as you find yourself thrust backward 200 years, to a time when electricity meant a lightning bolt fracturing the night sky. This is not a hypothetical, son-of-Y2K scenario. It is a realistic assessment of the damage the Pentagon believes could be inflicted by a new generation of weapons--E-bombs.

...While American versions of these weapons are based on advanced technologies, terrorists could use a less expensive, low-tech approach to create the same destructive power. "Any nation with even a 1940s technology base could make them," says Carlo Kopp, an Australian-based expert on high-tech warfare. "The threat of E-bomb proliferation is very real." POPULAR MECHANICS estimates a basic weapon could be built for $400.
  Jihad Unspun article

....but hey, do what you want....you will anyway.

Somebody take away this man's drugs

"There have been disagreements in this matter among old and valued friends. Those differences belong to the past. All of us can now agree that the fall of the Iraqi dictator has removed a source of violence, aggression and instability in the Middle East." -- George Bush, March 19, 2004
  Source

The hunt for bin Laden by October

We've got him, but we don't know who he is

The military commander leading a five-day assault on armed militants holed up in mud fortresses said Saturday a "high-value" terror suspect remained inside, possibly wounded, but there was no way to know whether it was al-Qaida No. 2 Ayman al-Zawahri.

...Authorities are concentrating on a radio intercept in either Chechen or Uzbek that said a wounded man in a vehicle that tried unsuccessfully to flee the area would need "four men to carry him and 10 or 11 people to protect him," Hussain said.

That raised suspicions the man was someone important, needing bodyguards, and "most likely Chechen or Uzbek, as the intercepts were in those languages," Hussain said.
  Atlanta Journal-Constitution article

There sure are a lot of ifs, especially considering the plethora of reports coming out yesterday with headlines like these:

- Pakistan Believes Al Qaida's Number Two Man May Be Surrounded Near Border (Fox)
- Dollar lifted as US eyes capture of Al-Qaeda leader (Channel News Asia)
- European Stocks Rise on Report Bin Laden Aide Hunted (Bloomberg)
- Al-Qa'eda 'Mastermind' Trapped (Scotsman)

But, let me get patriotic....

Woo-hoo. Boys, we're about to git ourselves a big 'un.

That'll shut down them terrists. (And boost the dollar, too.)

Pakistan's army has arrested over 100 suspected militants after five days of intense battles near the Afghan border, but says it is unlikely al Qaeda number two Ayman al-Zawahri was among those still surrounded.

Instead a senior commander said on Saturday the "high-value target" whom the militants were thought to be protecting was probably an Uzbek or Chechen militant leader.
  Swiss Info article

Gee, you think that might be why the radio intercepts were in Chechen or Uzbek?

US has learned that a senior AQ leader speaking on the condition of anonymity from inside Saudi Arabia said that Bin Laden and Al-Zawhari are the safest they have been yet and warns Muslims not to be taken in by this psychological warfare.

The AQ leader went on to say that the two senior leaders of Al-Qaida moved in January and are not in the areas currently being targeted. He further said “we are laughing at recent claims that they (Americans and Pakistanis) have our Sheik cornered.”
  Jihad Unspun article

Shhh....it's not on NBC.

....but hey, do what you want....you will anyway.

Oooops

A U.S. helicopter gunship mistakenly strayed into Pakistani territory from Afghanistan while chasing militants and wounded three civilians in an attack, a Pakistani security official said on Saturday.
  article

We're pretty good at that.

....but hey, do what you want....you will anyway.

Bush says we're crushing al-Qa'ida

President George W. Bush, showcasing his election-year credentials as commander-in-chief, said U.S.-led efforts to destroy al-Qaeda terrorists operating in postwar Iraq are succeeding.

U.S. forces intercepted a document sent to al-Qaeda leaders that quoted a "terrorist" named Zarqawi as saying the military coalition in Iraq is "suffocating" resistance efforts, Bush said in a weekly radio address marking the first anniversary of the invasion to topple Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein. "Zarqawi is getting the idea," Bush said. "Whatever it takes, we will fight and work to assure the success of freedom in Iraq."
  Bloomberg article

There are reports that Zarqawi has been dead for quite some time. Either way, there are facts that the Pentagon wanted to go after this guy three times before the war but got shut down by the White House.

Anyway, I guess the latest deadly bombings prove that we're winning. Don't they? You remember the equation: increased resistance = proof of success.

....but hey, do what you want....you will anyway.

Taiwan re-elects pro-independence president

I haven't been following Taiwan's bid for (or not) permanent and complete independence from China, so I can't help you out with this very much, except to point you to some articles. The president was shot (minor wound) during a public appearance one day before the election. I can't yet tell whether he won or not. Today's stories:

Less than half of Taiwan's electorate took part in a pilot referendum on Saturday, rendering invalid the controversial ballot that had enraged China and brought finger-wagging by the United States and France.

President Chen Shui-bian, whose brainchild it was, made no reference to the referendum's failure in his brief re-election victory speech to thousands of delighted supporters.

However, he had told Reuters in an interview last week that winning a second term would be meaningless if the referendum failed to pass.

...U.S. President George W. Bush issued a warning last December to both Beijing and Taipei not to upset the status quo after [President Chen Shui-bian] called for the island's first-ever referendum.

China was unlikely to welcome the prospect of another four years in office for a man who has aggressively promoted independence for Taiwan. Beijing sees the island as a rebel province to be recovered, by force if necessary.

Chen's Nationalist challenger, Lien Chan, had called the referendum illegal and meaningless. On Saturday night he said the election had been unfair and sought to have it declared invalid.
  CNN article

Same story the world over, n'est ce pas?

It does seem rather odd that people would vote for Chen but not the referendum. On the other hand, I don't know how the ballot was set up. I suppose it's possible that the people who voted for Chen didn't also vote on the referendum one way or another. I just don't know. If you want to know, you'll have to wait for it to come by my e-desk (and it surely will, now that I'm questioning it), or find it yourself. In which case, hey, drop Nell a line. (You can always link to Nell in the sidebar. She's pretty good about getting the messages to me.)

Lien Chan, the Nationalist Party candidate, called for ballot boxes from all 13,000 polling places nationwide be impounded and the votes to be recounted.

...The Central Election Commission declared that President Chen had 29,518 more votes than Mr. Lien out of 13.25 million ballots cast. But Mr. Lien called for the election's annulment an hour before the commission finished its count, and the commission did not actually declare a winner.

The commission declared 337,297 ballots to be invalid more than 11 times President Chen's apparent margin of victory. In a development echoing the controversy four years ago over the vote count in Florida, there was uncertainty tonight over whether polling places had followed consistent standards in declaring votes to be invalid.
  NY Times article

The NY Times article makes it sound like there will be a recount. Other reports don't mention that.

Supporters of Taiwanese President Chen Shui-bian celebrated victory with booming fireworks and blasting air horns Saturday as he won a narrow re-election just a day after being wounded by a would-be assassin's bullet.

...At the Nationalist Party headquarters in the capital Taipei, faces fell and some people wept as it became obvious they had lost following a night of varying news reports on who was ahead and by how much. Campaign workers started shaking their heads in dismay as each set of new numbers popped up on a screen.

Lien supporter Wang Ta-tong said the shooting on Friday had given Chen an unfair edge. The Nationalists have said the attack was suspicious and its influence should be investigated.

"We were ahead all along, then they played a dirty trick," Wang said.
  article

Don't you hate it when that happens?

....but hey, do what you want....you will anyway.

Unplugging the MATRIX

Wisconsin and New York became the latest states to drop out of a controversial interstate law enforcement data-sharing program shortly after joining it.
  Wired News article

Wisconsin was plugged in for only about a month.

Chris Ahmuty, executive director of the ACLU of Wisconsin, said Wisconsin law enforcement official James Warren, who was responsible for signing onto the Matrix, was an "honest good guy" who probably did not know what he was getting into.

"They were probably offered some money for a cash-strapped department and some gee-whiz technology and didn't really even consider the issues of the security, accuracy and control of the system or even privacy," Ahmuty said. "Once it got a little attention, it got onto the radar screen of the attorney general; she moved very quickly to review and reconsider it and drop out."

Probably he did know. Whatever.

Originally 13 states agreed to participate in the program, which was given $12 million in startup funds from the Department of Homeland Security and the Justice Department. Those states accounted for over 50 percent of the U.S. population.

Now only five remain -- Michigan, Ohio, Florida, Connecticut and Pennsylvania.


The shrinking number of participants may affect the program's chance for continued federal funding. Matrix officials have been looking to expand the program in hopes of convincing the Department of Homeland Security to fund the program for all 50 states.


Seisint is the company that created MATRIX, founded by a Boca Raton billionaire and former pilot for a Bahama drug smuggling ring.

Seisint's e-voting ties continue with Christiane Breton, Chief Financial Officer, who worked at ChoicePoint.

ChoicePoint, Greg Palast-specialists might know this, merged in 2002 with Database Technologies DBT, which was responsible for the fake felony list of 90,000 people in Florida, which was one of the real reasons for the "stolen election".
  article
....but hey, do what you want....you will anyway.

Friday, March 19, 2004

Even the good sources of information have to be watched.

And that includes me, of course, but I want to point to something that reminds us all to check links and cross-check information.

The Center for American Progress provides timely information on politics and world affairs in its Progress Report. It also provides copious links to source its information.

Tonight, I clicked the link to Powell's speech clip buried in these paragraphs:

With countries throughout the world re-evaluating their roles in the Iraq conflict, Secretary of State Colin Powell this morning directly contradicted the Bush Administration's assertion that "Iraq is the central front in the War on Terror." Specifically, Powell conceded that despite the White House's efforts to tie the fight against Al Qaeda terrorists to the invasion of Iraq, the recent terrorist attacks by Al Qaeda have "nothing to do with the war in Iraq" (see a video clip of Powell's statements). His statement essentially acknowledges that the War on Terror has little to do with the war in Iraq – a view recently echoed by the U.S. Army War College, which concluded that the war in Iraq is "a 'detour' that has diverted attention and resources from the threat posed by Al Qaeda." Powell's admission stands in sharp contrast to the President's comments after the Madrid bombings when he was asked why so many in the world "think the war in Iraq has little to do with the war against terrorism." The President responded by once again trying to conflate the war in Iraq with the War on Terror, saying "al Qaeda has an interest in Iraq."

...Powell's acknowledgement that the War on Terror is separate from the War in Iraq come at an important time: this week two key allies – Spain and South Korea – appeared more concerned about the general fight against terrorism as they began to reevaluate their deployments in Iraq.

...But [the right wing says the] electoral defeat isn't democracy at work; it's a victory for the terrorists." But Powell's comments this morning were a direct rejection of these claims, as he noted terrorism – and the fight against it – has "nothing to do with the war in Iraq."


That's taking what Powell said and making hay out of it. It's not at all the flavor or intent of what he said. His actual words (in the clip provided) are:

I don't think that it is the war in Iraq that was the source of instability throughout the world. We have seen terrorist attacks all over the world that have nothing to do with the war in Iraq.

Powell is dismissing any claim that the war in Iraq has created terrorism. He didn't say it has nothing to do with it. The Progress Report makes it sound like Powell was repudiating the White House's stance. Not at all. He was defending it. And if he said anything remotely resembling "despite the White House's efforts to tie the fight...to the invasion", it was not in the clip. I don't imagine he did, as what he did say wouldn't make sense following that sentiment. The Report also makes it sound like Powell is referring to the attacks in Spain and Baghdad, when he in no way narrows his comments to "recent" attacks. You could certainly, as an interviewer take Powell's statements and challenge him then on the issue of relating the recent attacks to the war, but that's not what happened.

I've found a Chinese news article giving a bit more of the speech, and the context, which is exactly what you would expect after viewing the clip:

"I don't think it is the war in Iraq that was the source of instability throughout the world," US Secretary of State Colin Powell told a press conference here.

He was answering a query raised by a Western journalist if the war has provoked terrorism, which could rarely be seen in Iraq before the US-led invasion but now spread around the world.

"We have seen terrorist attacks all over the world that have nothing to do with Iraq," Powell said. "They are attributable to the fact we have terrorists in the world who want to go after those nations who are trying to build a better future for their people."
  article

The Progress Report gives a fine (and disappointing) example of taking someone's statements out of context. Fortunately, they provided the link to check up on their report. However, I'm sure they know that most people will not check out all the links. (I admit that I don't.) And I really don't know why they would be trying to put Powell cross-wise with the administration. I think he's plenty well proved himself to be their boy.

I really wish the sources of information that purport to bring us the truth wouldn't bend it like the liars we're trying to get away from do.

....but hey, do what you want....you will anyway.

Presidential Auction 2004

Holy Crap!

According to a new report, President Bush's official campaign is selling clothing made in Burma - a country whose goods Bush banned for sale in the U.S. because of their awful human rights, narcotics and sex trafficking record. According to Newsday, "the merchandise sold on www.georgewbushstore.com includes a $49.95 fleece pullover, embroidered with the Bush-Cheney '04 logo and bearing a label stating it was made in Burma, now Myanmar."

The decision by the president's campaign to defy its own embargo directly contradicts the president's pledge to enforce existing trade laws. Just this week the president said Americans need to be "treated fairly" and pledged to "make sure the playing field is level" on trade. But his decision to market Burmese textile products evades laws that prevent American workers from having to compete with Burmese workers who have no minimum wage, human rights or labor protections. Since Bush was elected, thousands of textile jobs have been lost -- particularly in the South - and many have questioned whether the Administration is adequately enforcing trade laws.

On top of evading his own trade laws, the president's effective endorsement of Burmese goods means his campaign is marketing products from a country the State Department has repeatedly condemned for human rights abuses and that the Treasury Department has cited for laundering money from illegal narcotics dealers. Just last year, the president told the United Nations it needed to more seriously address international sex slavery, saying, "there's a special evil in the abuse and exploitation of the most innocent and vulnerable." But his own campaign is now marketing products from a country that experts cite as one of the leaders in international sex trafficking.
  Daily Mislead article

Please don't make us wait till November.

Ireland in June

"...Can you imagine? They're bringing Bush over. That's when we start stamping our feet something fierce in front of the world. He'll have the whole country up from the ground protesting."

Bush goes to Dublin to speak at a meeting of European nations. The size of Ireland makes any corner of the country easy to reach by protesters. The Bush government has been discussing places for safe meetings in the empty west of Ireland. The people around Bush feel any unfriendly crowd is a frontal assault that requires the 10th Mountain Division to defend. The Bush people think that the west of Ireland will be friendly. They are that out of touch with Ireland. The people will go anywhere to protest against Bush and his war. A corner of Mayo, or Grafton Street in Dublin, are equally good.

...The Irish Herald newspaper printed that Bush will have 700 people with him, and the American security people have asked for immunity for anybody who shoots and kills a protester. This could be a standard request, but it looks like hell to see it in print in Ireland.

Bush revels in crowds from these low IQ states who have at best an eight-grade reading level. All through long dark years of poverty, Ireland never gave upon the most stringent, classic education. And the country now might be the best read people on earth. This is American ignorance at its highest...

The Irish can be expected to rail against cheap lies and this could cause Bush to be embarrassed in front of the world.
  Jimmy Breslin Newsday article

I don't think so. If he hasn't embarrassed himself yet, no one can do it.

....but hey, give it a go, me darlins....we're with you.

I've a feeling about these next few months as Bubble Boy tries to get out and about for photo ops. He's trying to run on his foreign policy - yeah, I know - pretty stupid - but what else has he got? And there aren't too many places left where he can go and not have protests in the streets. Of course, he'll just take the incredible entourage and make the outrageous security demands. 700 - that's even more than went to London. How much did that cost us again?

Save Central America, U.S. jobs, and the environment

Urge Congress against expanding NAFTA to CAFTA. Like Congress is going to listen to you, but, Earth Justice makes it easy to send a letter from their site. You don't even have to compose it yourself.

March 20: The World Still Says No to War



Click graphic for information at United for Peace & Justice

A gathering of planets

Every few years or so, something wonderful happens: all five naked-eye planets appear in the evening sky at the same time. You can walk outside after dinner, and without any kind of telescope, see Mercury, Venus, Mars, Saturn, and Jupiter.

Now is one of those times....It won't happen again until 2008.

...The show begins on March 22nd at sundown. Find a place where you can see the western horizon, and before the sky fades completely black, start looking for Mercury. It's that bright "star" shining through the rosy glow of the setting Sun. Can't find it? Use the Moon as a guide: On March 22nd Mercury will lie directly below the crescent Moon.

...After sunset on March 24th, look west again. Mercury will be a little higher than it was on March 22nd, and thus easier to find. Trace the same imaginary line upward past Venus and the Moon (a dazzling pair), Mars, Saturn, and behind your back, Jupiter.



More info


Presidential Auction 2004

Just to remind everybody that we will not be offered an anti-war option in our upcoming election.

Prime Minister-elect Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero tonight rejected US Democratic presidential hopeful John Kerry’s call for him to reconsider plans to withdraw Spanish troops from Iraq.

Zapatero, the Socialist who won Sunday’s general election, noted that he had campaigned on a pledge to withdraw those 1,300 troops unless the United Nations takes charge in Iraq, and did not devise the plan simply because of last week’s terrorist bombings in Madrid.

“My commitment is my commitment,” Zapatero said in a television interview.

...“Maybe John Kerry does not know – but I am happy to explain it to him – that my commitment to withdraw the troops goes back before the tragic, dramatic terrorist attack,” Zapatero said.

“If the United Nations does not take over the situation and there is not a rethinking of this chaotic occupation we are living through, in which there are more dead in the occupation than in the war phase, the Spanish troops are going to return to Spain”, Zapatero said.

He also pledged to be relentless against terrorism.

“Terrorists have to know that (in Spain) there is going to be a government that is inflexible with terrorism and that wherever they are, they will be hunted down. This has been my policy since I was leader of the opposition.”
  Breaking News article

House bill 557

I always think of San Francisco as being an oasis of extreme liberalism. And Mark Morford writes a completely irreverant, beyond liberal column for SF Gate (San Francisco Chronicle online). But everything I read from SF Gate's news articles is seriously right-washed.

Check the headline for this article:

Resolution praising U.S. troops angers Dems

Now, here's the story:

The House passed a resolution Wednesday praising American troops and the Iraqi people on the Iraq war's first anniversary, but only after partisan wrangling between Bush administration supporters and minority Democrats angered over being shut out of the measure's drafting and opposed to wording saying the war has made the world safer.

And that's the point of contention. Why'd SF Gate headline it the way they did?

[Minority Leader Nancy] Pelosi wanted to offer a substitute for the language saying the war had made the world safer. "A final judgment on the value of activities in Iraq cannot be made until Iraq is stable and secure," the suggested amendment said.

...Some Democrats eventually voted for the symbolic resolution even though they objected to pieces of it because they felt majority Republicans had set a trap for them. No amendments were allowed, and some Democrats didn't want to head into November's elections with a vote against the resolution, fearing they would be vulnerable to charges they weren't patriotic and had abandoned America's fighting forces.

And those are the Democrats Americans do not need in office. That's how we got into the war in the first place. The Republicans are still playing the patriot card, and the Democrats are still crumbling under it.

How they voted.

The Democratic House caucus, led by Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of San Francisco, sought to invoke party loyalty on the bill's first vote, the one to approve or reject the rule not allowing any amendments. Republicans prevailed, 228-195, with only two Democrats voting against their caucus.

And whoever those two are, they should be the first to go. Voted for the bill and against allowing any modification?

The measure also was part of the administration's weeklong effort to highlight the one-year anniversary of the war as a successful U.S. operation.

So apparently, the only way to do that is to lie some more and make the lies official - get signatures on them.

"The Iraqi people are living in freedom for the first time," said Rep. Jim Saxton, R-N.J. "They know it, and they love it.''

Let's get up a collection and send Jim to Baghdad.

....but hey, do what you want....you will anyway.

Dream on, Juan

Juan Cole, Middle East historian and watcher of current affairs in Iraq, posted yesterday about the interim council that is supposed to be taking over governing the country this summer until elections can be held.

I am disturbed at the list given, of "technocrats, businessmen and tribal chiefs." That's the closest the Iraqis come to a bourgeoisie. Why should such a conservative and unrepresentative group be given power (and a good platform for running for the subsequent election)? Why not include labor leaders? Is there a farmers' association of any sort? I hope that the commission that forms the transitional government can manage to dump the expatriate politicians with no real grass roots in Iraq, such as Ahmad Chalabi and Iyad Alawi.


Juan, I know you are not naive.

Labor leaders? Farmers association? Permitted to have a voice? Only in despotic countries like Venezuela. And only then until we can get rid of Chavez.

Why should a conservative and unrepresentative group be given power? I don't know. Maybe we can find out if we ask why LaTortue's regime has been set up in Haiti.

....but hey, do what you want....you will anyway.

That gay thang

As I was saying about the feds trying to fire or demote gays because of their sexual orientation....

South Knox Bubba has a link today to this article on a similar contemptuous attempt in Tennessee....

The county that was the site of the Scopes "Monkey Trial" over the teaching of evolution Thursday reversed its call to ban homosexuals.

Rhea County commissioners took about three minutes to retreat from a request to amend state law so the county can charge homosexuals with crimes against nature. The Tuesday measure passed 8-0.

County attorney Gary Fritts said the initial vote triggered a "wildfire" of reaction. "I've never seen nothing like this," he said Thursday.

But Fritts said it was all a misunderstanding.

"They wanted to send a message to our (state) representative and senator that Rhea County supports the ban on same-sex marriage," he said. "Same-sex marriage is what it was all about. It was to stop people from coming here and getting married and living in Rhea County."

Not that the issue of banning homosexuals didn't arise.

"I'm not saying it wasn't discussed," Fritts said. "Sometimes you had five or six people talking."

Fritts said he advised the commissioners they cannot ban homosexuals or make them subject to criminal charges. The U.S. Supreme Court in 2003 struck down Texas' sodomy laws as a violation of adults' privacy.

Fritts said he doesn't believe the issue will come up again.

"I think they got all the publicity they need about it," he said.


Somehow I don't think the good people of Rhea county have to worry too much about gays coming there to get married and live.

....but hey, do what you want....you will anyway.

Even a hillbilly can cipher

From Buddy Don via South Knox Bubba:

all my life, folks has been cumplainin bout how the gummint spends too much money. whenever twuz the dimocrats a doon it, twuz attackd as 'tax n spend.' now that the publicans have taken it to a new level, ye gut a differnt problem: 'borry n spend.' that means everthang git more eggspensive. heres the quayshun ye git fer that:


differnts twixt 'tax n spend' vs 'borry n spend'
tax n spend
(cost of thangs) = (cost of thangs)
borry n spend
(cost of thangs) = (cost of thangs)
+ (interst on the money that wuz borried)
...

how did we git them publicans to go fer this kinda runaway borryin?

1. now aint nobidy that kin deny how the war has to be paid fer n ye mite thank folks wood put them costs in befor votin on the budget, but as it happend, the gummint couldnt figger out how much twuz a'gonna cost till after the budget had dun been passed: so one way to git publicans to vote fer runaway borryin is to make em vote befor ye give em all the costs of thar vote!

2. then ye gut that thar medicare benefit fer them drug cumpnies, witch as ye mite member, twuz hard to git them publicans to vote fer it. they had to have em a exter long votin session (in sted of 15 mints, they tuck near 3 hours), witch that hepped em git the last vote they needed: so a nuther way to git publicans to vote fer runaway borryin is to make em stay up real late till they finely vote lack thar spozed to accordin to thar leaders.

3. to git everbidy to vote fer that thar medicare benefit fer them drug cumpnies, ye had to threaten sum of em with attacks on thar kids politicull careers: so a thurd way to git publicans to vote fer runaway borryin is to threaten thar kids ifn they dont go along.

4. mainly, ye had to keep the real cost of that thar medicare benefit fer them drug cumpnies a secret, witch turnt out twoodnt a mere $400,000,000,000 lack twuz claimd but $521,000,000,000: corse, the best way to git publicans to vote fer runaway borryin is to keep em in the dark bout the real costs, witch thisns rilly jes lack method number 1 above.


The whole post.

More second thoughts

South Korea isn't quite as sure any more.

The mission [3600 South Korean troops to Iraq], originally scheduled for as early as next month, would make South Korea the largest coalition partner behind the United States and Britain. Deployment will now be delayed, possibly into June.
  Boston Herald article

....but hey, do what you want....you will anyway.

A very American approach

If $25 million didn't do it, then surely $50 million will.

The US House of Representatives has voted unanimously to double the reward for Osama bin Laden's capture to $US50 million.
  SMH article

Of course I don't know, and I could be wrong, but I think the reward money offered for Saddam's sons and other Baathist officials may have some value as that whole regime was something of a den of corrupt weasels. On the other hand, bin Laden's followers are religious fanatics, and money isn't what drives them. I can only imagine that anyone in that group thinking they might be tempted by money would have to think again about the eternity of revenge that would be exacted upon their entire family, not to mention their assured seat in hell.

Or maybe the reward offerers think a larger reward will tempt outsiders to try harder to capture him. After all, we're talking about politicians here, and I imagine they spend their whole careers deciding just what figure will tempt them.

I don't know. I'm thinking about it in my own terms I suppose. Let's see.....I won't risk my life (or worse) for $25 million, but $50 million, now that's just too tempting. Okay....I'll do it.

Nope. Doesn't work for me.

....but hey, you do what you want....you will anyway.

We're the "Good Guys"

You'd think that any person over the age of 15 would have developed beyond the point of TV westerns' "good guys" and "bad guys". Take a look at Hollywood film plots, and their popularity, and you'll realize immediately that just isn't the case.

If you want to see exactly the kind of mentality (arrested development) that supports the Oaf of Office, then I could not have written a better script than this editorial, which, I am afraid is shared by too many Americans. And frankly, I don't think they can see the world in any different terms. Their viewfinder is simply too small. No matter how sophisticated the software, if the hardware isn't capable of running it, it may as well not exist.

REJECTING THE GOOD GUYS

....but hey, do what you want....you will anyway.

Two more newsmen are killed and Iraqi journos walk out on Powell's conference

Iraqi journalists walked out of a Baghdad news conference given by Secretary of State Colin Powell on Friday in protest at lack of security and the killing of two Iraqi journalists by U.S. troops.

"We declare our boycott of the conference because of the martyrs," Najim al-Rubaie of Iraq's Distor newspaper said in a statement read at the start of the news conference as Powell and Iraq's U.S. governor Paul Bremer looked on.

"We declare our condemnation of the incident which led to the killing of the two journalists...who were killed at the hands of the American forces."

More than 30 Iraqi journalists then stood up and walked out.
  Reuters article

A list of killed journos is here. (Scroll down to Part III)

Employees of Dubai-based satellite television channel Al Arabiya say U.S. soldiers opened fire on a car carrying an Arabiya crew on Thursday evening after another car ran through a checkpoint. Cameraman Ali Abdelaziz was killed and correspondent Ali al-Khatib died in hospital on Friday morning.

After the walkout, Powell said he respected the right of the journalists to express their feelings.

"It is something that would never have happened at an earlier time in the history of Iraq, certainly not in the last 30 years," he said.

Powell said he regretted the loss of life of the journalists, and all loss of life in Iraq.

"But let's be clear who is responsible for this," he said. "Those individuals left over from the old regime do not want to see the Iraqi people live in peace. They do not want to see democracy take root."

Powell said he did not have the full details of the Arabiya incident but he was certain that troops would not have deliberately killed journalists. He said that sometimes in the confusion after a guerrilla attack, "mistakes happen, tragedies occur."


January 30: Clamping down on journalists
January 10: Remember the Journalists
January 9: Above the law
January 3: Journalists not welcome

"We walked out because we need them to ensure that we are safe under the occupation and yet they have done nothing," Ahmed al-Samraee, an Iraqi producer with the Qatar-based Al Jazeera satellite channel, said after the walkout.

"I saw these people killed. They were shot dead on purpose," he said.

A little enviro news

A quarter of a century later

Love Canal has been released as completely "cleaned up". ("...centered on containing the waste under a thick clay cap and high-density polyethylene liner and surrounding it with a barrier drainage system." You can move in if you want. I don't think I will.)

Gee, that didn't take long.


Cleaner automobiles

[Th]e new clean cars [partial zero-emission vehicles (PZEVs)] will likely catch on because, unlike battery cars (which suffered from a range of less than 100 miles), they present few drawbacks for consumers. The Ford Focus PZEV, available as an option nationally in 2004, costs just $115 more than standard models and offers a performance boost.

Fans of futuristic technology should love PZEVs. BMW, Mitsubishi, and Volvo PZEV cars offer a novel radiator coating, the Engelhard corporation's PremAir, which "eats" ground-level ozone, a smog precursor.

"It's a very simple technology," said Engelhard's commercial manager, Bulent Yavuz. "The ambient air moving through the radiator contains a concentration of ozone, and our chemical catalyst converts up to 80 percent of it to oxygen."

Ted Lowen, Engelhard director of corporate affairs, claims that a jogger running behind a PZEV car equipped with PremAir would be breathing cleaner air than if he or she were in front of it.
Source

Of course, they still use gasoline, so we may clean up our air, but we'll still have all the same oil dependency problems. And may I remind you that the automobile manufacturers are not creating these vehicles out of a sense of environmental responsibility. They're doing it in response to stringent regulations in the Northeast and California, where they sell a butt load of cars. So remind your no-government-interference-with-the-market friends that they could be purchasing gas masks just to breathe if it weren't for government interference.


Clean up of weapons grade uranium

The International Atomic Energy Agency, with the blessing of the U.S., has decided to scour the globe for highly enriched uranium and plutonium, so that nobody (else) can make a nuclear bomb.

The depleted uranium that contaminates the countries we've already bombed (and continue bombing), however, will be permitted to stay.

....but hey, do what you want....you will anyway.

Thursday, March 18, 2004

Politics Break!

This site has fantastic extreme microphotographs of DNA, and other stuff. Like beer. None of my favorites, but....


Heineken

St. Pauli Girl


Amino acids...

Arginine


Birthstones...

Topaz (mine)


DNA...

DNA single crystal


DNA phase transition


Check out the site: Molecular Expressions

There are many more photos, and much, much, much more great stuff.

Enjoy.

....but hey, do what you want....you will anyway.

House ethics?

An unlikely group of bipartisan critics is pushing the House Ethics Committee to investigate its Republican leaders.

Democrats in the House and Republicans outside the House want the committee to investigate House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, R-Tex., Majority Whip Roy Blunt, R-Mo., and several committee chairmen, the Washington Post reported Wednesday.

The critics are frustrated the panel is not looking into accusations of bribery and threats on the House floor, illegal use of campaign funds, misuse of a federal agency for political purposes, conflicts of interest, and strong-arm tactics against lobbyists and campaign contributors.
  Washington Times article

Damn! Another Missourian. Sorry about that.

So, do you think they'll have any luck getting that committee going?

....but hey, do what you want....you will anyway.

I'd like to see them try

Fire or demote somebody for being gay?

Go ahead. I dare you.

This is getting insane.

Gay and lesbians in the entire federal workforce have had their job protections officially removed by the office of Special Counsel. The new Special Counsel, Scott Bloch, says his interpretation of a 1978 law intended to protect employees and job applicants from adverse personnel actions is that gay and lesbian workers are not covered. [Bloch was appointed by President Bush to a five year term beginning in January.]

Bloch said that the while a gay employee would have no recourse for being fired or demoted for being gay, that same worker could not be fired for attending a gay Pride event.

In his interpretation, Bloch is making a distinction between one’s conduct as a gay or lesbian and one’s status as a gay or lesbian.

“People confuse conduct and sexual orientation as the same thing, and I don’t think they are,” Bloch said in an interview with Federal Times, a publication for government employees.

Bloch said gays, lesbians and bisexuals cannot be covered as a protected class because they are not protected under the nation’s civil rights laws.

“When you’re interpreting a statute, you have to be very careful to interpret strictly according to how it’s written and not get into loose interpretations,” Bloch said. “Someone may have jumped to the conclusion that conduct equals sexual orientation, but they are essentially very different. One is a class . . . and one is behavior.”

It is the first time that Bloch has explained his position on the issue of gay workers despite pressure from unions and Federal Globe an organization that represents LGBT government workers after the OSC began removing references to sexual orientation-based discrimination from its complaint form, the OSC basic brochure, training slides and a two-page flier entitled "Your Rights as a Federal Employee."
  365 Gay article

....but hey, do what you want....we'll see what happens.

Presidential Auction 2004

Nothing is too sleazy for the Oaf of Office.

...a near-perfect campaign stop:

President George W. Bush arrived on schedule. He gave his speech. He moderated a panel of five people on a makeshift stage in front of a sign that said "Strengthening America's Economy." He wove their stories seamlessly into the fabric of his re-election campaign. He engaged in self-deprecating humor that even a detractor might find charming.

And then he left -- to a standing ovation -- shaking hands all the way to the exit door of U.S.A. Industries in Bay Shore, where his campaign made this first of three stops on Long Island yesterday.

Security people kept reporters from interviewing the workers at U.S.A. until the president was on the way to his next stop.

But when workers were finally interviewed -- these people who made up the bulk of the president's cheering audience in New York --

"No speak English," said the first worker, smiling apologetically.

"No speak English," said the second, third, fourth, fifth and sixth workers way-laid in the crowd.

But you think the tax cuts should be made permanent, as he says?

"Sorry, no English," said another.

-- the [Hispanic] work force of a small auto parts factory whose owner has received tax breaks from the Republican-run state and town governments, and who employs large numbers of non-English speaking immigrants happy to work for $6 to $9 an hour with few benefits...

"I understand him a little bit English," said Nubia Guzman, a packer who said she earns $7.50 an hour after four years on a job that Bush had described in his speech as evidence of the success of his tax cutting economic policies. She has no health coverage.

What did you like about him? she was asked.

"He nice," she said.
  Newsday article

They're getting loose

The bully is losing its grip.


From the Houston Chronicle:

President Bush urged wavering members of the U.S.-led coalition Tuesday to keep their troops in Iraq, but his plea did not win over at least two nations that are considering joining Spain in plans to withdraw their forces by early summer.


Honduras and the Netherlands.


From the AFP via Yahoo:

An Italian minister broke ranks with his pro-war government on Iraq (news - web sites), telling a newspaper that last year's invasion could have been a mistake, and was in any case not the best thing to have done.


And from the Daily Mislead:

The Associated Press reports that Polish President Aleksander Kwasniewski - a strong White House ally - now says he was "misled" about Iraq's weapons of mass destruction before the war. Poland, which has about 2,400 troops in Iraq, has been touted by President Bush for its leadership, and the Administration has repeatedly cited Poland as one of the key allies in Iraq.

Kwasniewski told a small group of European reporters, "I feel uncomfortable [about Iraq] due to the fact that we were misled with the information on weapons of mass destruction." The remarks come just a few days after the House Government Reform Committee released a comprehensive database of "237 specific misleading statements" before the war about weapons of mass destruction and Iraq.


$12.99 at Cafe press

Presidential Auction 2004

Axis of Logic editorialist W. Vic Ratsma brings up a point you don't normally think about when you're voting for a president.

In November of this year, Americans will elect a President and a Congress to govern their nation for the next four years. In so doing they not only elect the people who govern America, but they also elect a President who wields enormous influence over the future development and direction of the rest of the world. In the contemporary world of globalization and economic integration, the decisions by the US president affect virtually all the people of our planet, yet only Americans have a say in who that president will be.

...Besides the use of military force abroad, the US uses aggressive economic strategies to force countries to adopt the 'free market' policies of the USA, whether they like it or not. Those governments who do not comply and who oppose such policies as not being in the best interests of their people are threatened with embargoes, boycotts and other forms of retaliation, including the undermining and overthrow of democratically elected governments (e.g. Chile, Nicaragua, Venezuela, Haiti). Is it any wonder then that under these circumstances the popularity of America in the world has diminished to what today is likely its lowest level ever?

My country, Canada, shares a 5000 mile long border with the USA. We are neighbors who (mostly) speak the same language, share a similar culture and have a huge cross-border trade. Many people have family and relatives living on either side of the border. Yet the number of Canadians who today support the aggressive US foreign policies of George W. Bush has fallen to about 15% of the population. The same pattern holds true for Europe and most other countries that traditionally have friendly relations with the USA.

Today, there is virtually no country in the world whose government does not look over its shoulder to see if its policies are approved or disapproved of by the United States. In effect, we, the people outside the USA who elect our own governments to govern us, are subjected to another lands' president to ensure that what we are doing is acceptable to him. We are subjected to the power and influence of a President we did not elect and cannot vote for.

Sometimes we get the impression that Americans don't care about this.
  VHeadline article

I would say that impression is accurate if one equates not caring with not giving it a thought.

It's an interesting point, and one that should not be taken too lightly. Is this right? Is it good for the world? Is it good for Americans? And if the answers are "no", then what is to be done about it?

....do what you want....you will anyway.

Gen. Jay Garner interview

Jay Garner, the US general abruptly dismissed as Iraq's first occupation administrator after a month in the job, says he fell out with the Bush circle after he called for swift and free elections and rejected an imposed programme of privatisation.

In an interview to be broadcast on BBC Newsnight, Friday, March 19, he says: "My preference was to put the Iraqis in charge as soon as we can, and do it with some form of elections ... I just thought it was necessary to rapidly get the Iraqis in charge of their destiny." [The BBC program will air at 10:30 GMT; it will also be available at 7:30 PM EST on the internet at http://www.bbc.co.uk/newsnight]

Asked by the reporter Greg Palast if he foresaw negative repercussions from the subsequent US imposition of mass privatisation , Gen Garner said: "I don't know ... we'll just have to wait and see." It would have been better for the Iraqis to take decisions themselves, even if they made mistakes, he said.

"What I was trying to do was get to a functioning government ... We as Americans like to put our template on things. And our template's good, but it's not necessarily good for everyone else."


No wonder they sacked him.

This show was originally scheduled for March 16, then changed to March 18. It looks like it's March 19 now. I don't know where the problem is with the scheduling, but I'll keep passing on Greg Palast's messages if it keeps getting moved.

....and you keep doing what you want....you will anyway.

Spain

Of course, the downside to the bombing, aside from the carnage, is that the terrorists see it as a victory, which would reinforce their use of terrorism.

In a statement, obtained by two London-based Arabic language newspapers, the Abu Hafs al-Masri brigade claimed the attacks on Madrid represented a "victory" for the group.

"We gave the Spanish people a choice between war and peace, and they chose peace by electing the party that opposed the alliance with America in its war against Islam," the statement said.

Al-Quds al-Arabi newspaper quoted extensively from the statement, which said the group was planning further attacks, but would not target the US for fear of damaging President George W. Bush's re-election chances.
  article

Forgive me for glossing over the Spanish people's tribulations, but is that kind of surreal? Who is behind this? Is anybody in control? That's a great endorsement of George Bunnypants Bush. Does this mean the terrorists are for George? I think it does. If indeed it is truly a terrorist job and a terrorist message.

And does it make any sense? I mean, they are claiming that they were successful in routing out George's buddy in Spain, so why is it that they want to leave George in office? Are they just conflicted maniacs, or are there really different factions taking credit here? Wait, go back. I think whoever bombed the train, and whoever wrote the message, whether they're the same or not, are indeed conflicted maniacs. So what next?

"Yes, your foolishness and your religious fanaticism is what we want" to "wake up" the Islamic world, the statement said, addressing the US president.

Now there's the pot calling the kettle black.

I guess that makes some kind of convoluted sense. Keep George in office so he will continue to escalate the crusade, so that Islam rises up and conquers.

The brigade also claimed responsibility for the bombing of the UN headquarters in Baghdad last year, and for last year's power cuts in the US and Canada.

But Gustavo de Aristegui, a spokesman for Spain's defeated conservative Popular Party dismissed the statement: "They are not capable of committing these attacks, much less of declaring a truce."

This group "is, according to anti-terrorism experts, not a very reliable terrorist organisation because they have never really acted in any terrorist act," he told the Associated Press news agency.


How do you know what to believe any more?

Keep those seatbelts on.

....but hey, do what you want....you will anyway.

Wednesday, March 17, 2004

Spain

Fom a Newshour interview with former adviser to the Zapatero campaign Nicolas Checa:

NICOLAS CHECA: Margaret, I really think what the key issue here is the handling or mishandling of public information in the 48 hours after the tragic events of last Thursday. I think it bears mentioning that the election was a statistical dead heat, according to public polls the morning of the tragedy on Thursday morning well within the margin of error, one or two points. And it was really not until Saturday evening, as Keith in your set-up shared with us, that the government decided to come forward with information as to the arrest of these five suspects linked to al-Qaida.

As an example, it took a personal call from Prime Minister Elect Zapatero to the interior minister, the Spanish homeland security secretary, informing him that the Socialist Party was aware of the arrest and that he was prepared to move forward with that information. It took that kind of information to get the current government to come forward and announce to the country at large that in fact it was not the ETA lead that would generate success down the road in the investigation, but rather the al-Qaida route.

MARGARET WARNER: So you're saying it more than just a public suspicion that they were withholding information, in fact the Zapatero campaign had to essentially pressure the government to release this information?

NICOLAS CHECA: Precisely. Yet there was a report earlier in the afternoon on Saturday coming out of Spanish intelligence agency saying that they were 99 percent confident that ETA was not responsible for the attacks and that all the avenues of the investigation pointed into al-Qaida.

In the early afternoon after the arrests had already been made, the director of the Spanish CIA denied those reports and it was after that that the campaign manager for the Zapatero campaign had to come forward and basically inform public opinion that there was information that was not being shared with the population.
  article

Exactly the behavior of the pro-U.S., U.S.-backed government in Venezuela two years ago. Government lies promulgated by the media attempting to keep the public ignorant of the truth.

Hmmmm....I don't suppose our government could be doing those kinds of things.....

....but hey, do what you want....you will anyway.

Presidential Auction 2004

Josh Marshall analyzes the latest Bushit ad.

Let me follow up on last night's post on the surreal shamelessness of the president's new TV ad.

As we noted, the new ad uses a very strained argument to allege that Kerry opposed an increase in military combat pay when in fact the White House was caught red-handed and quite publicly trying to cut combat pay for troops in Afghanistan and Iraq only a few months ago.

I mean, how do you top that?

...They just don't care. It's a handy attack. They've got funds to run the ads. And they figure people's memories are short and the press is too lazy or stupid to call them on it.

...'Disrespect' doesn't quite convey the intended message. But it comes close. It may be closer to 'contempt' though I think the attitude is somehow breezier than that. They don't think any rules apply to them.

They want to say up is down. And they're sure they can get away with it because they think the people who are listening are either chumps or that their trust can be exploited endlessly.
  post

Well, you know what, Josh? I'm thinking they're right.

Or else there are more people who have had it up to their eyeballs with Bush than are being polled (or the polls are bogus - which could well be true).

....but hey, do what you want....you will anyway.

MoveOn captures Rumsfiend's lie on Face the Nation

Check out the videotape here. From there, click the link to send Congress a request to censure Bush.

I'm going to go a bit further than asking for a censure.


click graphic to sign petition

Spain's ousted government: Part of the coalition of the willing to lie

The Spanish press has finally confirmed it: the outgoing government of premier Jose Maria Aznar - just like the Bush administration and the British government in relation to the non-existent weapons of mass destruction in Iraq - lied and manipulated information concerning responsibility for the Madrid bombings. Since the morning of March 11, hours after the bombings took place, journalists at the Spanish news agency EFE knew that the official version blaming Basque separatists from ETA was false.

According to the journalists, "already in the morning, EFE learned about the existence of a cellphone configured in Arabic, the van found in Alcala de Henares and [knew] that one of the dead was one of the terrorists. But the information designating Islamist radical terror was expressly forbidden." Those journalists are now calling for the resignation of the news director responsible for the censorship. Spanish and European journalists are talking about a "coup d'etat using information".
  Asia Times article

Now there's an idea whose time has come. Resignation of a few news directors is a start anyway.

Leading Spanish film maker Pedro Almodovar, presenting his latest movie in Madrid, went even further, talking about an e-mail circulating widely on the Internet in Spanish and first published in an Internet forum: "The PP [Partido Popular], by Saturday midnight, was about to provoke a coup … But it was the Spanish people who took to the streets demanding information, and fortunately they could not be stopped."


Ah. Reminiscent of the Venezuelan people.

WTF is wrong with the American people? Don't we want to know the truth?

....hey, do what you want....you will anyway.