Sunday, February 29, 2004

France and Germany are still raining on Baby Bush's parade

The UN is supporting the US plan to put off elections in Iraq, but it may be acting more in accord with European than American interests in doing so, reports the Los Angeles Times. The UN, at the behest of the US, successfully pressured Iraq’s influential cleric, Ali Sistani, to drop his insistence on early elections and to agree instead to a US transfer of political “sovereignty” to some form of appointed Iraqi council. But France and Germany have now announced they want a new UN resolution to sanction the transfer, and the Times says this has the Bush administration worried. First, because a UN debate could require postponing the turnover date, which was selected with Bush’s reelection campaign in mind. And, second, because a new resolution could “force an overhaul of major infrastructure projects in the country, such as those for power plants and oil field redevelopment”, which have already been allocated to Halliburton and other US contractors. Although unmentioned in the Times article, other reports have indicated that Sistani also favours a new UN resolution.

Continue reading the LA Times article at Supporting Facts.

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

Venezuela's referendum woes

Maybe I've just had one too many beers tonight, but this is kind of amusing to me:

Those who are ineligible to exercise voting rights at a General Election and those who are deceased will be precluded from taking part in any "repair" amendment. article

I don't suppose the dead will object.

Okay. I'm sorry. This is a very complex issue. Getting the signatures validated. I don't know how they are logistically going to manage it. Even though there seems to be a plan, it looks like a veritable nightmare to me, and with the opposition continuing to stage violent demonstrations and refusing to cooperate with the process, my heart goes out to all who are trying to do this the legal and fair way.

Vive la Democracia.

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Okay, I lied

I know I said I wasn't going to give Mel any more publicity than that one post, but....

This may seem like an oblique way in which to approach Mel Gibson's ghastly movie The Passion. But it came back to me this week that an associate of his had once told me, in lacerating detail, that an evening with Mel was one long fiesta of boring but graphic jokes about anal sex. I've since had that confirmed by other sources. And, long before he emerged as the spear-carrier for the sort of Catholicism once preached by Gen. Franco and the persecutors of Dreyfus, Mel Gibson attained a brief notoriety for his loud and crude attacks on gays. Now he's become the proud producer of a movie that relies for its effect almost entirely on sadomasochistic male narcissism. The culture of blackshirt and brownshirt pseudomasculinity, as has often been pointed out, depended on some keen shared interests. Among them were massively repressed homoerotic fantasies, a camp interest in military uniforms, an obsession with flogging and a hatred of silky and effeminate Jews. Well, I mean to say, have you seen Mel's movie?

Continue reading

And, actually Orcinus has a lengthy, but typically Orcinus-thoughtful review.

I have no intention of seeing this film. First of all, I am not an action film afficionado. Secondly, I am not a Mel Gibson fan. Thirdly, I am not a lone-hero-deserves-vengeance plot fan. And fourthly, I am definitely not into pain and gore. So, I don't think this is a movie for me.

Okay. That's all for Mel with the overdose of testosterone Mad Jesus Max Gibson.

I have the horrible feeling that my niece is going to take her 7-year-old daughter to this movie and swear that the kid wanted to see it twice. I am just too creeped out by these rabid blood-lusting "Christians".

As if we don't have enough blood and fanaticism to sate the globe as it is right now.

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

FLASH!! Haiti: Did the Americans remove Aristide?

Update Monday 03/01/04: It's confirmed that Americans forcibly removed Aristide.

This article is from Al Giordano of Narco News and Big, Left, Outside:

AFP: Aristide Didn't Resign...
By Al Giordano,
Posted on Sun Feb 29th, 2004 at 04:23:28 PM EST
According to Agence France Press:
A man who said he was a caretaker for the now exiled president told France's RTL radio station the troops forced Aristide out.

"The American army came to take him away at two in the morning," the man said.

"The Americans forced him out with weapons.

"It was American soldiers. They came with a helicopter and they took the security guards.

"(Aristide) was not happy. He did not want to be taken away. He did not want to leave. He was not able to fight against the Americans..."

First newspaper to run with this is in Australia.

Now, his own foreign minister was on CNN earlier today confirming the resignation. But, come to think of it, we haven't seen any resignation letter, we haven't seen or heard audio or video from Aristide since he supposedly "resigned" and...

...that's exactly what happened two years ago in the first hours of the Venezuela coup. The press said the president had resigned, when he had been kidnapped.

(Thanks to Dennis Bernstien of KPFA Flashpoints Radio in San Francisco for alerting us to this report.)


And not only that, but when pro-Chavez forces found out where he was being held, the report was that they had to hurry to collect him as there was an American-licensed plane on its way to get him.

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Abortion rights and intimidation

Orcinus has a couple posts on a recent event in Ann Arbor where extremist anti-abortion proponents went into brute mode and tried to disrupt a speech that, incidentally, had nothing to do with abortion.


If you want a textbook example of the right way to handle would-be intimidators, check out what went down this week in Ann Arbor, Michigan:

Foes of abortion and of Wheeler-Smith halt parish forum

A gang of thugs who call themselves fundamentalist Christians took it upon themselves to try to shut down the appearance of a former state legislator -- who happened to be pro-choice -- for a talk on election processes in a local Catholic diocese:
The topic had nothing to do with abortion, but that apparently didn't matter to the hundred or so people who fired off angry - and sometimes threatening - e-mails to the pastor at the Catholic parish at the University of Michigan.

The e-mailers were angry because the St. Mary Student Parish planned to have former state Sen. Alma Wheeler-Smith participate in a Feb. 9 forum about elections and getting people out to vote.

What caused the uproar? Smith, a Catholic, supports abortion rights.

Word of Smith's scheduled appearance, along with the pastor's e-mail address, was put out over Michigan Catholic Radio and spread on a statewide e-mail list from the U-M Students for Life, according to Steve Coffman, who organized the election discussion as part of St. Mary's Peace and Justice Ministry.

The meeting was moved, and the threats were publicized.

Steve Coffman, who organized the event, reports on the result.

It went amazingly well! You might not read about it in the paper again because no protesters showed up (hence no more drama)! A talk like this normally gets between 20-40 people. We had about 50 people turn out despite a night with bad weather, while all the University students were off on spring break, for a rescheduled talk that didn't make it into the local event publications. The very actions of those who opposed the talk resulted in an increased turnout, by causing the publication of the article on the first page of the B section.

...Neither I nor the press have yet been able to pry the tapes or transcripts of what exactly was miscommunicated over Tom Monahan's (former owner of Domino's pizza) radio network, but we're still trying. Regardless, the talk wasn't about abortion, or media ownership, and its message about voting reforms like Instant Runoff Voting was able to be well communicated.

... I feel that any real threat has disipated after the press shined a light on what was going on. I certainly stopped getting any more nasty or threatening email. I feel like I've helped preclude future violence or intimidation directed at others. The funny thing about one person making a difference, is that when you stand up, you find you're not standing alone.

Stand up.

....or do what you will anyway.

Blair is getting squeezed even tighter

He may go down in flames as well as infamy. Hopefully, he will take Georgie with him.

The [British] attorney general initially told Tony Blair that an invasion of Iraq would be illegal without a new resolution from the United Nations and only overturned his advice when Washington ordered Downing Street to find legal advice which would justify the war.

The devastating claim will be made by eminent QC and Labour peer Baroness Helena Kennedy in a television interview today.

...Her position as a member of the highest echelons of the legal community will add credence to her claims that the British government could find only two senior lawyers in the UK prepared to back the case for the invasion.

Baroness Kennedy points out that Lord Goldsmith was a commercial lawyer with no experience of international law and initially relied heavily on the advice of lawyers within the Foreign Office in the months before the war. It is widely believed that advice overwhelmingly warned against invading without a UN resolution.

She claims that when Washington was told of this advice their response was succinct: find a new lawyer.
  Scotland Sunday Herald article

That's the way we do bidness here in Texamerica.

Washington ordered Downing Street. That should go over big.

A finding that the Attorney General had determined an invasion was illegal would also help lawsuits being filed by Iraqis seeking reparations for civilians killed. Now do you understand the wisdom of the U.S. refusing to be held to account by International Law?

Yard Art

Oh, hell. It's Leap Day. Let's talk about something other than the dicks in the White House.

A GIANT wooden penis that stood proudly in a Frankston front yard has been forced down under pressure from angry authorities.
  Herald Sun article

Suburban sculpture: Brett O'Neill and
Dean Janssen admire their handiwork.
Picture: Tim Carrafa

Article highlights:

..."A lot of statues in people's yards have penises, what's wrong with this?" [Australian co-sculptor and homeowner Brett] O'Neill said.

... Mr O'Neill said he even planned to eventually turn it into a fountain, with water cascading from the top into a rock pool and fish pond at the base.

... The demise of the phallic sculpture has been met with disappointment from some neighbours.

"I am sorely disappointed I didn't get to see it as a water feature," Rhonda Jones said.

But not everyone in the street was in favour.

Matt Newell, who lives across the road, said he was glad it had been removed.

"It was a bit obscene," he said.

Another neighbour, who declined to be named, described the penis as an eyesore and said he was especially annoyed when the creators put two large boulders at its base.

Mr O'Neill said the phallic furore was disappointing, but promised the controversial wooden penis would live on - with plans to erect it in his back yard.

"When we have barbecues it will be sitting there proud and happy," he said.

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

Bush remembered in Alabama

George W. Bush didn't make much of an impression as a Guardsman in Alabama, but plenty of people recall him socially from 1972, with memories fond and foul.

Bush is remembered by those who say they worked with him, socialized with him, even those who say he still owes them money.

Winston Groom, the "Forrest Gump" author, remembers a pleasant dinner with Bush in the summer of 1972. Lobbyist Fred Crawford recalls talking baseball, lots of baseball, with Bush. Birmingham native Murphy Archibald, now a lawyer in Charlotte, recounts how Bush often bragged about his drinking.

None have specific recollections about Bush and the National Guard. Some heard he was serving but never saw for themselves. All of them remember his time with Winton "Red" Blount's unsuccessful U.S. Senate campaign.

...For much of 1972, the 26-year-old Bush lived, worked and played in Alabama, mostly in Montgomery. He came to town to work for Blount at the urging of his father and with the help of a family friend, GOP political consultant Jimmy Allison of Midland, Texas. And he lived in a two-bedroom, one-bath cottage in Montgomery's historic Cloverdale neighborhood, the furnished home of a 68-year-old widow.

..."He was just a rich kid who had no respect for other people's possessions," said Mary Smith, whose family found damaged walls, broken furnishings and a chandelier destroyed after Bush left the house. A bill sent to collect the damages went unpaid, the family said.

...That's what the Smith family remembers most about Bush, how he left their aunt's home damaged, dirty and dumpy.

Just the way he's leaving our country.

Haiti: Send in the Marines

Now that Aristede has fled the country, Bush is sending in the Marines to take charge. Occupying another country. Soon we'll own the world!

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Bush on Sunday ordered the deployment of U.S. Marines to Haiti to serve as the "leading element" of an international stability force after President Jean-Bertrand Aristide resigned under American pressure.

..."It is essential that Haiti have a hopeful future. This is the beginning of a new chapter in the country's history. I would urge the people of Haiti to reject violence to give this break from the past a chance to work and the United States is prepared to help," Bush added.

Help. Indeed.

Too much government in your free market?

Have a look at this thread on the POAC forum, courtesy Bina Becker, about a Kansas cattle operation that wants to test for BSE using a method that would permit it to export its beef to Japan.

Bina posts:
A beef producer in Kansas has proposed testing all its cattle for mad cow disease so it can resume exports to Japan, but it is encountering resistance from the Agriculture Department and other beef producers.

American beef exports have plummeted since Dec. 23 when a cow in Washington State was diagnosed with bovine spongiform encephalopathy, or B.S.E., a fatal disease that can be passed to humans who eat infected cattle tissue.

To assure the safety of its meat, the company, Creekstone Farms of Arkansas City, Kan., a subsidiary of the Enterprise Management Group, wants to use rapid diagnostic tests that are routinely used in Japan and many European nations.

But no rapid tests have been approved by the United States Department of Agriculture, and department officials pointed out yesterday that it was against the law for any company to sell or market any unapproved diagnostic test. They said they would not respond to Creekstone's request until they evaluated the legal, regulatory and trade implications raised.

Other meat producers are upset by the company's request, saying it has broken ranks in an industry besieged by bad news. Dan Murphy, vice president for public affairs at the American Meat Industry, said American beef was so safe that widescale testing was unnecessary.

"Everybody is hurting from the export ban," Mr. Murphy said, "but their solution is not the right one." Any testing, he added, should take place under government oversight.


Uh, WHAT FUCKING GOVERNMENT OVERSIGHT? More like government overLOOK, not overSIGHT. Let's face it, the USDA is only there to do PR and damage control, not BSE testing.

Blowback responds:

This is active obstruction, not just overlook.

If a business wants to use a test, for export purposes, and that test is routine in the target country, you'd have to ask why a government that advocates not interfering with business would try to prevent it?

The answer seems obvious. The Bush government clearly advocates corporate unionism as well as the regular US corporate welfare, now going so far as playing the role of union enforcer to try to prevent one business from breaking corporate union ranks. BushCo is very consistent in placing corporate needs ahead of human needs, even public safety. Unions are hated when they are for workers, but admired, encoraged, and now even enforced for the corporate sector. Because they create solidarity, they work, and they protect the aggregate needs of members. Business ahead of people is virtually a Bush motto.


Well I got a good laugh

So I'll share:

Eric from Newton, Kansas, is involved in a discussion on an arborists' forum:

OREGON ROB: If we can cause a couple of countries to be able to function as free, democratic nations, it may catch on. People who are content, tend to cause a lot less problems. Right now, you have countries with tyrannical, corrupt leadership, that keep their people believing that we are the cause of all their problems. If the people of these countries really figure out who is responsible for their problems, suddenly we won’t look so bad.

ERIC: Those people are inbread. Could be thats why they are so crazy. Sadam is married to his cousin. Some one needed to go in and roll heads, getem on the right track. Only good raghead is a dead raghead.

OAKWILT (Texas): Real bright response Eric. With that general attitude and understanding of global affairs we deserve to be blasted. Oh wait, we were.

TIMBER MCPHERSON (New Zealand): Democracy just might catch on, we just need tomahawk missiles, stealth bombers, m1's, laser guided bombs, a-10 tanks killers, prowlers, javlins, apaches, milans, m203's, hummers, SAWs, m72's, Blackhawks, stealth fighters, wild weasels, chinooks and ac-130's to insure it gets really infectious!

ERIC: Did you ever see the pictures of the Kurd's after Sadam gased them? Women and babies.

OAKWILT: Black kudos to Eric, who states on one post "Only good raghead is a dead raghead." then turns around mentioning the visable atrocity of women and babies being gassed.

NETREE (Massachusetts): As much as my heart don't exactly bleed for them (people of middle-eastern descent), the slur is unnecessary.

ERIC: Sorry if the term offended. May be I should have stated anyone that because of my faith calls me embacil , and some of the muslems do this and are taught that are nothing more then a RH to me.

NETREE: Funny... because from my experiences, TRUE muslims are a peaceful people- the antithesis of muslim terrorists. Perhaps it's this peaceful nature that allows them to be ruled by the minority, rather than rebel against it?

ERIC: I hear the same thing about them being peacful. I also hear about some of them reading their coran out of text henceforth non muslem=embacil. Do you think Binladen wood let you tell him he was not a true muslem? There are a lot of them that reads and understands the coran the same way he does.

I really need to quit looking in on that forum. I've resisted posting for months now, but this time I gave in - and I'll probably be sorry....

My entry: Eric - I think the word you are looking for is infidel. And, of course I don't know, but I don't think it's your faith that's making anyone call you an "embacil".

I'll get jumped for that one. But it will be worth it.

Allah help us.

Washington Post coverage of Venezuelan affairs

Since the election of Hugo Chávez as President of Venezuela in 1999, the Washington Post’s editorial page has run 41 editorials, Op-Eds, Columns, and Letters containing substantive mention of Venezuela. Of these, 25 have been editorials written by the Post editorial board itself.

* 15 of the editorials have been outright hostile to the government.
* 3 presented a negatively biased view of Venezuela.
* 7 were fair.

The last time the Post editorial board wrote an editorial that can be characterized as fair or balanced was July 2002.

The problem is not that the Washington Post editorial board is critical of Hugo Chávez—indeed, there is ample reason to question many of the administration’s policies. Rather, the problem is that the Post’s editorial board has failed to confine itself to the facts when criticizing the current government of Venezuela. Since 1998, the Post’s editors have at various times alleged that Hugo Chávez has:

* Ruled in authoritarian manner
* Attempted to destroy the private sector and establish state control over the economy
* Muzzled the press
* Taken political prisoners
* Provoked a coup against himself
* Ordered police to fire on unarmed demonstrators
* Supported insurgents in Colombia
* Imported Cubans to assist in the indoctrination of poor Venezuelans
* Personally re-written the constitution in order to expand his own powers

These allegations are simply not true. In the future, when the Washington Post’s editorial board feels the need to weigh in on Venezuelan issues, its arguments would be much more convincing if they refrained from making false statements.

Continue reading The Washington Post Relies on False Statements when Criticizing Venezuela’s Chavez

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Recommended literature

You know I always tout Greg Palast's The Best Democracy Money Can Buy. There are other good books out there discussing America's current administration and world position. Some of them are here at Powell's Books. The prices are excellent, and if you purchase any of the books listed on these (three) pages from this site, you will be helping to keep a talented artist and important source for news and information on the internet: Project for the Old American Century

No, I don't get a kickback. Well, I do get the benefit of POAC, which I check daily, and from which I find many articles of news and info to bring to you here at YWA. Of course, there is much, much more at POAC, so go there and check it out for yourself.

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

I've ordered these:

Killing Hope: U.S. Military and
CIA Interventions Since World War II

by William Blum

Body of Secrets: Anatomy of the Ultra-Secret
National Security Agency From the Cold War
Through the Dawn of a New Century

by James Bamford

I think they're probably just going to piss me off or make me sick. Or both. But I think I need to know. And I probably should have some documentation or reference when I say that the CIA and other agencies are mucking with what should be every country's sovereign affairs (which I say with a certain regularity).

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

Hey Rocky, Watch me pull a rabbit outa my hat....

If you, like me, are wondering what fiendish plot BushCo-Rove will hatch before November, you might be interested in Billmon's post discussing Social Security.

And then check his conclusory remarks:

When I combine this with Aaron Brown blowing his stack over the GOP machine's attempt to deep six the 9/11 investigation, I can only conclude the Matrix is experiencing a serious program run error in its CNN subroutine.

If this keeps up, Agent Rove may have to reboot the system -- in which case I assume we'll all wake up tomorrow and it will be September 10, 2001 again.

....ooops. Wrong hat.

Cowboy diplomacy

Uncle Karl, why isn't North Korea shocked and awed by our military prowess like Libya?

We're going to get him this year

Last year, Osama bin Laden predicted his own death in combat in 2004.

Suppose he knew that the November election would intensify the hunt? That it would be the one last thing Double-face could try to hang his crown on?

Personally, I suspect that's exactly what Georgie thinks would help him, but I also suspect he is wrong. As I've said before, it would have to be timed perfectly so that the little spike he'll get from the flagwavers will carry over long enough to make a difference. There's just too much else out there right now, though, to bank on bin Laden's capture.

We are still not even sure al-Qaida was responsible for 9/11, as Bush insists.

After promising in 2002 to release proof of al-Qaida's guilt for 9/11, the administration never did. Much of the legal evidence cited so far by the U.S. against al-Qaida comes from a former fugitive member who embezzled its funds.

Interestingly, much of the "evidence" about Iraq came from another convicted embezzler, Ahmad Chalabi.

German courts recently determined the 9/11 plot was hatched in Hamburg, not Afghanistan, and could find no direct link to al-Qaida. Al-Qaida leaders certainly applauded 9/11 - after the fact - but may not have been actively involved in planning or finance.

Many of what the White House called "terrorist training camps" in Afghanistan were actually bases for groups fighting to liberate communist-ruled Uzbekistan, Kazakstan, and Tajikistan; Chinese-ruled Eastern Turkestan; Indian-ruled Kashmir; and the southern Philippines. Their members (some of whom may now be prisoners in Guantanamo) had nothing to do with 9/11. As for the Taliban, the U.S. supplied it with millions in aid until four months before 9/11.

But, while desperately attempting to stem any progress on the 9/11 investigation, and control the scope of the WMD commission, Georgie is going to pursue the Osama angle anyway. What else does he have?

Despite a lack of precise intelligence on Osama bin Laden's whereabouts, the United States has redeployed weapons and soldiers to Afghanistan.

So just go shoot up some stuff somewhere over there.

[O]fficials cautioned that they still had not pinpointed bin Laden, his second-in-command, Ayman al Zawahri, or Taliban leader Mullah Muhammad Omar, and on Friday they said the unusually public discussions of the operations are an attempt to flush out the 6-foot, 5-inch al Qaeda leader in the hope that UAVs, satellites or spies will spot him if he moves.

Look for a tall guy.

The officials also expressed skepticism about reports that intercepted satellite telephone conversations indicate the presence of al Qaeda members along the border.

"Bin Laden and the people who know where he is stopped yakking on sat phones more than five years ago," said one official. "If we can overhear it, it's probably disinformation."

..."That report [that he had been captured], as well as the suggestion that we're closing in on bin Laden and about to pounce are overstated," one military official said Saturday. "We're making a lot of progress, but it won't be over till it's over, and there's no telling when that'll be."

Trust me on this won't be over then either.

anonymous artwork received in email at Talk Left


Well, they've run Aristede out of the country. Again.

Who wants to bet on whether we put him back this time?

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

I am a soldier

I am a soldier not an ignorant stump....

I am a soldier and no more, or less, a decent and caring human being than any other person in the world. We (soldiers) are as politically and socially contradictory as the most vocal and impassioned mobile activist; travelling from one WTO/FTAA protest to the next...

We are not rampaging robots with only the capacity to kill; our critical thinking skills are overactively consuming us every second, of every minute, of every hour, of every day.
We passionately care about who our political and military leaders are, sometimes even more than the most battle scarred fighter for peace, justice and democracy.

As a soldier, I am expected to gladly sacrifice my life without hesitation at any moment. However, until recently (Febuary 2004) I did not have hot water to bathe with. I was not on the killing fields of Iraq or Afghanistan, though I will be in the near future. I was training in the cold and wintry lands of eastern North America.

As soldiers, our primary job is to KILL, KILL, KILL, and still single female and male soldiers are prohibited from having enjoyable physical encounters (SEX,SEX,SEX) in the privacy of our quarters.

We are trained to KILL, KILL, KILL and still we are not allowed to access and enjoy "hardcore" sexual material from the internet on the computers "provided" on our bases; the merciless teasing of MTV, FOX, ABC, CBS, NBC, UPN, FHM, Maxim and Playboy is joyfully used to bludgeon and drain us: always looking over our shoulder, trying to see what's displayed on our screens, intentionally making us paranoid and despised by sexuality unless it's brutal, unless it dominates, unless it's vengeful and dirty and animalistic.

We are expected to DIE, DIE, DIE and still our "superiors" maintain the rule of "don't ask, don't tell," which further isolates, embitters, angers and mercilessly destroys our capacity and desire for healthy sexuality. Whether it be homosexual, heterosexual, bisexual or extremely necessary "trysexual" every day our needs and desires become extremely repressed; I have a densely packed tumor of repression inside, it is more painfully consuming than the most toxic cancer.

Most of all, we soldiers know that no matter who wins the Presidential "election" nothing will change:

Dubya stays and the supposed "war on terrorism" continues, Kerry becomes President and not one soldier will be withdrawn from Iraq other than the dead and the living who are being replaced. Kucinich is elected and the U.S. government's war to stifle dissent continues at all costs, which is now being conducted via the FCC's war on Janet Jackson's nipples, breasts and seven second delays of "live" broadcasts. Sharpton is elected and Black Americans, many Americans, will still be shot nineteen or more times, mudered and tortued by the officers of "serve and protect."

Rebecca Jordan (aka NEWT) said it best when she smacked the naivety out of Ripley:

Newt: (yelling, in response to being asked the location of her family) They're dead, can I go now?

Ripley: These people are help, they're soldiers.

Newt: It won't make any difference....

When it comes to engaging in open and merciless battle, for the propagandists, dressed in journalist's clothing, it won't make any difference if the politeness of bourgeois privilege is used. It won't make any difference to allow one side of the brain to battle them mercilessly while the other believes that these fecal swallowing scribes can be reformed, the corporations of "media" can be shamed, shamed into reforming.

Everyone in the USA is corrupted by the media, no one is pure, no one is immune, no one has been spared, no one is infallible. We are all corrupted by the bling, ignorance and the naivety of it.

Regardless of how I am damaged by being a soldier, thankfully, it has burned the shiny, happy people nonsense out of me.


Down with, completely and forever, the fake democracy and fake democratic elections of the USA!

Posted By Dwayne Chandler at Big, Left, Outside


Have a cocktail!

Recipe here

And then, let's talk.....

There are two comments in reader posts at Big, Left, Outside that strike to the heart of the matter this election year:

"Most of all, we soldiers know that no matter who wins the Presidential "election" nothing will change."

"The change you’re looking for isn't going to come from a presidential has to start at the local level."

Actually, I think there is a chance that change could occur with Kucinich as president. I used to say that he would be eaten alive if he got that far, and I didn't want to have to watch. And, realistically, that's probably what would happen. But, Kucinich offers the left a real leftist position, and the media refuse to serve the offering. And where is the left's demand for service? What happened in Hawaii that hasn't happened in other primary states?

Discussing the merits of Kerry or Edwards over Bush is like arguing over who gets to sit in the engineer's seat when the train is barreling full-throttle toward a chasm that has no bridge, and the brakeman who died years ago was never replaced.

And speaking of years ago - In one of the primary debates from which Clinton won the Democrat nomination, Jerry Brown threw a mini-fit at the table, saying all the rest of the candidates were wanting to go to Washington and tweak this or that, when what we needed was a crowbar. He was right, but we didn't get one. We got the tweak. And the things that could make the changes we need stayed the same. We're still riding that train and arguing about who gets to sit up front.

Instant runoff elections. For a start. No electoral college - one person, one vote. Major busting up of media conglomerates. (And guard the internet.) Extreme campaign finance reform, incorporating equal allotted ad time and numerous debates on all major TV stations. Limits to congressional terms. The end of politics as a career. Public election of the judiciary. Major tax and corporate reform. For a start. What's good for corporate profits is not good for the world. What's good for keeping a congressperson in office isn't either. Separation of corporation and state. And certainly a return to separation of church and state. For a start.

I don't imagine I have the best answers, but I can see the questions we might want to ask if we expect any meaningful change. And I suppose that does happen first at the local level, but Kucinich at least claims to be looking at those types of fundamental, in this leap year, we might actually have had a chance to make a certain leap and leave off the damned tweaking. Doesn't look like we're going to try.

Saturday, February 28, 2004

9/11 secrets

Bob has a post with some interesting info taken from a Long Island Press article:

Al Qaeda's lead 9/11 hijacker, Mohamed Atta, was allegedly partying with CIA-connected pilots while he got his flight training in fall/winter 2000 at Huffman Aviation in Venice, Fla., where two of the other 9/11 hijacker pilots trained. Atta wasn't acting much like a holy martyr: He wore jeans and sneakers, played video games, bought himself a red Pontiac and was said to be a hedonist. The Press posed the question to Ben-Veniste: If Atta belonged to the fundamentalist Muslim group, why was he snorting cocaine and frequenting strip bars?

"You know," said Ben-Veniste, as he smiled a little. "That's a heck of a question."

Kevin Phillips' book American Dynasty focuses a lot on the long-time connection between the Bush family and the CIA (and also between Skull and Bones and the CIA). The Long Island Press article hints at the possibility that Mohammed Atta and some of the other alleged 9/11 hijacker/pilots were involved with running heroin from Afghanistan to the U.S., possibly under CIA auspices. No frigging wonder the Bushies have tried to block the investigation, or that Tenet still has a job!

Guantanamo tribunals

What is the freaking point?

Pentagon officials have confirmed that Guantanamo detainees may still be kept in detention, even if they are found not guilty by a military tribunal.

They say detainees could be kept prisoner if they are considered a security risk.

If found guilty, they could also be held beyond any sentence laid down by the tribunal.

I am so looking forward to my trip to Venezuela in April, but I am also feeling some dread. What on earth can I possibly say if I am asked to defend my country's actions - on pretty much anything? Without even being asked to do so, I am going to feel an incredible sense of shame on behalf of my government. Perhaps the extent of Spanish I'm going to need is simply how to say, "I am so very, very sorry."

I am getting more and more pissed at our government for putting us in this position - we can no longer visit any other country in the world and not be immediately associated with incredible corruption, hyprocisy and injustice.

At least we can still go abroad.

For now.

Reality? TV?

Well, that seals it.

We live in a TV world. You've seen it coming. You've felt the unreality of your life the past couple of years. All those "reality TV" shows. You've seen how the White House stages everything (including war!) as a film event. So you should be prepared for....

D.H.S. - The Series

In what would be a highly unusual action for a president, George W. Bush is apparently giving the White House seal of approval to a television series, D.H.S.--The Series, a drama about the Department of Home Security being introduced Thursday night to prospective networks at an Industry gathering.

President Bush and Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge both "endorse and contribute sound bites to the introductions of the series," according to the show's producers.

Though the series' theme relates to the President's agenda on national security and international terrorism, it is virtually unprecedented for the White House to endorse such a fictional representation. It is unclear what input or relation if any the President or the real DHS would have with the show in the future.

Yep. Roger Rabbit in the Twilight Zone.

Spaceship earth has voyaged into the Outer Limits.

What? Didn't see it coming? Kurt Vonnegut wasn't writing science fiction - he was simply writing the future.

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

(I believe that production company credit says "Steeple Prods", although I believe it should say "Sheeple Prods".)

History cover-up

From Jody comes this link to a story about an archeological find in Oklahoma that was quickly buried, and the land owners told to go dumb.

An excerpt from the article is a letter from a man in New Zealand with a similar story:

We asked an individual from New Zealand to tell us why some of his country's ancient sites were being covered up. Here is his reply.

Hello Gary & team,

You ask why archaeological sites and significant information is being hidden by government the US and elsewhere around the world? I suppose one could write a whole book on the probable answers to that question, but in the end it would all boil down to "power & control". The eradication of archaeological sites & artifacts is most certainly going on in the Australia/ New Zealand region, where "concealment teams" are being employed to both destroy or seal away from sight any traces of anomalous discoveries. In the last few years the New Zealand teams have removed/ buried/ concealed: A trilithon/ obelisk arrangement, composed of about 5 component sets, from the Wairaki area of New Zealand's central North Island. The "Artiamuri Stones", registered by Captain Mair in the 1800's and described by him as the 2nd most significant site he'd seen in New Zealand...these were, seemingly, pushed into a river by a "Forestry Department" bulldozer. A number of burial caves containing large stature skeletons with red, brown & blond hair. These skeletal remains are a most unwelcome find, as the ancient individuals were very definitely of Indo-European ethnic origin. Platted samples of their red or brown hair used to be on display at the Auckland Museum...but have long since been removed from public scrutiny. An ancient stone jetty on a northern river estuary. A beautifully hollowed out and fashioned communal dwelling/ assembly area in a limestone cliff. This was at Castlehill in New Zealand's South Island. A friend who revisited it in recent weeks found that the entranceway had been collapsed...undoubtedly by explosives. These few examples represent some of the skullduggery going on, officially, to throw a spanner in the works of normal scholastic pursuit within the confines of New Zealand. A gentleman named Tristan Rankin, who runs the Australian web site: complains about similar clandestine, insidious "concealment team" interference in Australian archaeological endeavors. A friend of mine, in recent years, had a long talk with a New Zealand girl called Lisa Kerr. She'd done extensive traveling, like many young New Zealanders, who head out on their traditional OE (overseas excursion).

Lisa, amongst several jobs she got around the world, worked for a while with the New Mexico Park's Department. During her term of employment there was a big "washout" in one of the Park regions and I'm assuming it was up in Pueblo country around Taos. The flash flood scoured out embankments and in doing so a large number of anomalous skeletons were exposed. Lisa and her colleagues were assigned the task of gathering up the remains and placing them into crates. Also in attendance at the site were Smithsonian Institute officials and FBI agents.

Each day as Lisa and the other Park's Department employees went onto the site, they were searched for cameras. Similarly they were searched as they left the site each day to make sure they weren't removing artifacts. They were also obliged to sign "secrecy documents" ensuring that they would never divulge details of their participation in this undertaking. The reason for this degree of secrecy stems from the fact that the skeletons were of people who were about 8 feet tall. They had six fingers on each hand and six toes per foot. They also had a strange, double row arrangement of teeth.

The crates containing the recovered remains, at the termination of work, were taken away by the Smithsonian officials and, undoubtedly, will never be seen again. Strangely enough, there is a report of two similar skulls having been found in New Zealand's far north around the beginning of the 20th century. Lisa later had official "hassles" when trying to come home to New Zealand and was severely grilled by US government functionaries as she attempted to depart from the US.

The short answer as to why there is suppression of true archaeological and historical evidence in New Zealand appears to be due, in part, to the ambitions of big business and the multinationals. Using "indigenous rights" legislation as leverage, large parcels of New Zealand natural resources and wealth are wrestled out of the hands of the New Zealand populace. They then fall into the hands of a small number of corrupt, so-called, "indigenous" leaders/ representatives, who turn around and sell "exploitation rights" to big business.

The vast majority of New Zealand's Maori people (Polynesian...officially designated indigenous) derive no benefit from these massive financial "payouts" or from the acquisition of "redistributed" resources.

Privately owned farms and large tracts of land are being gobbled up by the "Waitangi Tribunal" and big business is the final beneficiary. Our corrupt politicians are little more than an executive arm to the multinationals and take their orders from the World Bank.

That's the simple, superficial answer, but the tentacles of control go much deeper. One would have to probe age-old, long established, "control-freak" organizations to find out why they perceive "forbidden archaeology" to represent such an undermining danger. Maybe there's a large element of "religious" interference, wherein those large organizations, with influences reaching who knows where, see an inherent danger to the story they tell and product they promote. I can't fathom the fullness of this insanity, but realize we must all work quickly to photograph and record as much as possible of the ancient traces before "big brother" erases them forever.

Best wishes, Martin Doutré

This last part puts me in mind of a book I have just finished reading: Templar Revelation. The book is the work of a couple of investigators who believe they have come upon an organization that guards proof to the identity of Jesus - and the evidence is that he was an Egyptian magician who, along with Mary Magdalene, was attempting to bring the cult of Isis and Osiris to the Holy Land. There's much more. Interesting book.

Certainly the Vatican holds secrets. And certainly the Vatican holds power. Perhaps that too will one day crumble, and we will know more about the information that holds so many millions of people captive. Maybe even Mel Gibson will be surprised.

Leaving Las Vegas

Jay is leaving the strip, but he emailed this incredible photograph that he took.

Click the photo for larger view

Check out Jay's photography website. It's kind of in limbo, and before he left on his southwestern trek, I tried to get him interested in fleshing it out. Maybe when he gets back home to Idaho I'll work on him some more.

....but hey, Jay will do what he wants.

Jay Mock Photo

The largest deficit in history?

Contrary to what some Dems would have you believe, Double-face is not actually presiding over the largest deficit in history when adjusted for the size of the economy, which is only right and proper. Relatively speaking, to the size of the economy, Fact Check sets the record straight. WWII saw the largest relative deficit, and two presidents since then have presided over larger relative deficits than the current Oaf of Office. Who were they? Reagan and Bush I.

So there.

Get yer facts straight - and use them correctly.

....ah, do what you will anyway.

Coming to American theaters in June

The Corporation

In this feature documentary we see the people who inhabit the corporate “person” explore, and expose, the implications of being part of an institution that is required by it’s own laws to place the pursuit of profit over people. Over concern for the environment. Over even the planet itself.

In production from the time of the loudest protests against globalization to the high-profile bankruptcies of companies like Enron, the filmmakers make this huge and complex topic easy to follow and riveting to watch. Behind-the-scenes tensions and influences are revealed in corporate and anti-corporate dramas through jaw-dropping case studies and true confessions.

We won't be signing that pesky landmine ban after all

Groups that have fought for the elimination of anti-personnel landmines worldwide lashed out Friday at the U.S. decision to not sign the global Landmine Ban Treaty. They warned that Washington's snub could embolden nations already employing or considering use of the weapons.
  article, perhaps?

Friday the administration of President George W. Bush said it would not sign the treaty, that it would push back the date to eliminate some mines to 2010, and would retain the right to use other "smart" mines indefinitely. But Washington also promised to boost funding for global anti-mine activities for 2005 by 50 percent over 2003 levels.

Since 1997, some 150 countries have signed the Mine Ban Treaty, which prohibits the use, trade, production and stockpiling of antipersonnel landmines.

Washington's mine policy has been under review since 2001 but Bush's predecessor, Bill Clinton, in 1998 directed that the U.S. military must search for alternatives to the weapon, phase out most of its use outside of the Koreas by 2003, and that the government would join the treaty by 2006.

...Assistant Secretary of State Lincoln Bloomfield rejected the convention, adding that landmines with timing devices are relatively safe and "have some continuing utility for our armed forces around the world."

...Those so-called "smart mines" are programmed to self-destruct after a certain period, unlike conventional ("persistent") landmines. The United States will begin destroying its persistent mines in 2006 with a goal to eliminate them by 2010, Bloomfield added, but will retain "smart" mines on the Korean peninsula.

"Relatively safe."

Outside the Koreas?

Lucky Koreans.

Oh well, no matter, we changed our "smart" minds. No signing.


Another concise page that eplains the background for Haiti's condition and the U.S. involvement in it: Haiti Q&A

Presidential Auction 2004

John Kerry has made campaign finance reform an issue ever since he first ran for the Senate in 1984. In fact, the Massachusetts Democrat has been such an ardent and outspoken critic of political action committees that he has refused to accept donations from such organizations during all four of his senatorial campaigns.

But the man who has repeatedly decried the influence of PACs on the nation's political system nevertheless began his quest for the presidency by forming one [Citizen Soldier Fund].

...Kerry's PAC raised roughly $1 million through the end of 2002 and disbursed nearly all of it. At the time it was formed, the Citizen Soldiers Fund's non-federal account could theoretically have accepted any amount from a donor. But Kerry, perhaps as a concession to the reform constituency of which he was a part, said the fund would not take donations of more than $10,000 from one individual or organization in any year. Just before the McCain-Feingold legislation was to take effect consigning soft money—at least some types of it—to history, the senator couldn't resist one last grab at the political money that he voted to ban. By the end of October, the self-imposed cap was gone.

...Kerry's distribution of campaign cash across the country is seemingly at odds with his oft-stated position on campaign finance reform, which early on graced his Web site: "Elections must be more than auctions, and money must no longer drown out the role of citizens in our democracy."

Kerry maintained that he hasn't changed his long-held view on the pernicious influence of PAC money, arguing that the Citizen Soldier Fund was necessary for the sake of a Democratic majority. "I've come to acknowledge the unpleasant and unfortunate truth that campaign finance and other critical political reforms will remain stymied in Congress until Democrats obtain real working majorities in Washington and in state legislatures across the nation," he said. "It's become necessary, I believe, for every leader of this party to employ all legal and appropriate means to assist Democratic candidacies at all political levels."
  Center for Public Integrity article

What you get when you settle for anybody but Bush.

Or maybe what you get when the media's corporate interests focus on the candidate of their choice.

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

Palestinian boy shot in the back in front of UN representatives

I just find this story incredible. But then, so much of what is happening these days defies any rational analysis.

An Israeli army officer has been suspended after an unarmed Palestinian youth was shot in the back at close range as he waved goodbye to a delegation of visiting United Nations aid workers, the Star has learned.

Yousef Bashir, 15, remains in serious condition at a hospital in Tel Aviv, where he was taken after the Feb. 18 incident at his family's home near the Jewish settlement of Kfar Darom in the southern Gaza Strip.

He is partially paralyzed beneath his shoulder blades, with shrapnel lodged against his spine, the boy's father said.

An Israel Defence Forces spokesperson confirmed yesterday an unnamed officer has been suspended in connection with the shooting, pending the outcome of an investigation.

In a conflict marked by a surfeit of civilian casualties on both sides, Palestinian claims seldom result in convictions against IDF soldiers because of conflicting eyewitness accounts.

The Bashir shooting is rare because it happened in plain view of three U.N. personnel who were visiting the family home.

Rarer still, the victim's father, Khalil Bashir, said last night he doesn't want punishment for the shooter.

Instead, he's asking that Yousef's plight become "a turning point for an historic reconciliation with Israel.

"We make a mistake if we let our wounded memory guide our future. Punishment doesn't pay. What pays is a change of mentality," an emotional Bashir told the Star.

...The shooting comes as the most severe incident in the Bashir family's long struggle with the IDF.

Nearly three years ago, the army confiscated a large swath of the family property to increase the buffer zone for the Jewish settlers of nearby Kfar Darom.

In the process, the family said their greenhouses were demolished, nearly 120 date palms were uprooted and IDF actually moved into the home, establishing military positions on the second and third floors, replete with a closed-circuit television camera and camouflage netting.

Khalil Bashir, a school principal in the nearby town of Deir Al-Ballah, has refused to vacate the home and has moved the family — elderly mother, wife and five children — to a single room on the ground floor.

In recent weeks, the IDF intensified restrictions on the family, forbidding visitors without prior arrangement and giving them outdoor access only to their northern garden.

On Feb. 3 — just as the Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon unveiled plans for a unilateral withdrawal of the Israeli settlements in Gaza, including Kfar Darom — the Bashir family and other property owners in the neighbourhood were served written orders by the IDF for additional land confiscations.

According to the orders, signed by IDF Maj.-Gen. Dan Harel, the Bashirs and 17 other Palestinian families were required to forfeit 43 dunams (one dunam equals one-quarter acre) for a new security fence to better protect the settlement.

The U.N. field team, based in Gaza City, was visiting the family in order to investigate the new orders when the shooting occurred.

...Khalil Bashir said last night he has not been contacted by army investigators for his account of his son's shooting.

"They (IDF officers) went to my house and apologized to my wife two times, saying the shooting was a mistake. But whether they made a mistake or not, the reality is they shot my son," he said.

"In spite of my bitterness, in spite of my calamity and my tragedy, I thank God my son is still alive.

"In thanks to God, I am more determined than ever to find a way to peace. I ask our friends all over the world, help me exploit this chance to change the mentality. I can forgive. Let us all forgive."
  Toronto Star article

Basis for war - another angle

Another political angle, that is.

Labour MPs will press the Prime Minister about a claim in a new biography which says he received "snippets of the French President's private conversations" when France and Britain were in dispute over the prospect of military action. Mr Blair accused President Chirac of scuppering a second United Nations resolution authorising a war.

Philip Stephens, a political columnist at The Financial Times, says in his book: "Blair came to believe, partly on the basis of reports from British intelligence, that the dispute over Iraq was, in fact, a proxy for a much more serious contest.

..."Chirac, these reports said, had decided that Blair had usurped his own position as the natural leader of Europe. It was time for the French President to reassert himself and clip the wings of perfidious Albion. In other words, this feud was personal as well as political."
  UK Independent article

Goodness. More "bugging". Or is it just more spying?

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

White privilege

This link comes from Ingrid, via Tom:

Through work to bring materials from women's studies into the rest of the curriculum, I have often noticed men's unwillingness to grant that they are overprivileged, even though they may grant that women are disadvantaged. They may say they will work to improve women's status, in the society, the university, or the curriculum, but they can't or won't support the idea of lessening men's. Denials that amount to taboos surround the subject of advantages that men gain from women's disadvantages. These denials protect male privilege from being fully acknowledged, lessened, or ended.

Thinking through unacknowledged male privilege as a phenomenon, I realized that, since hierarchies in our society are interlocking, there is most likely a phenomenon of white privilege that was similarly denied and protected. As a white person, I realized I had been taught about racism as something that puts others at a disadvantage, but had been taught not to see one of its corollary aspects, white privilege, which puts me at an advantage.

Whenever similar issues come up, I am always reminded of my friend Marty's pronouncement: (paraphrasing) No matter how badly things might be going for me, I can never forget that, as a white male in America, I am fortunate to be in the most privileged class in the world. Therefore, I don't look for something outside myself to blame.

Continue reading White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack by Peggy McIntosh.

....or do what you will anyway.

If you don't like the advice, fire the advisors

It's that simple.

President Bush reshuffled his advisory council on cloning and related medical issues on Friday, adding a prominent neurosurgeon known for his work on conjoined twins and two conservatives who have spoken out strongly against cloning.

He replaced one of the most prominent scientists on his Council on Bioethics, cell biology expert Elizabeth Blackburn of the University of California San Francisco. The Australian- born Blackburn has spoken in favor of so-called therapeutic cloning in which cloning technology is used for medical and biological research.
  Reuters article

Bush has a confidence-boosting way of dealing with issues - just keep rearranging the advisors until they say what you want them to say.

Why even have advisors? Seems like a waste of taxpayer money to me.

Earlier this month 60 leading scientists and philosophers, including Nobel laureates, backed a Union of Concerned Scientists report that accused the Bush administration of distorting scientific advice to fit ideological goals.

The White House denied this and said it was seeking a variety of opinions on medical and scientific subjects.

And will continue until it finds the ones it wants.

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

Whoops. I missed it.

The Iranian report that bin Laden had been captured.

The U.S. Department of Defense denied reports by Iran's official IRNA news agency on Saturday that al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden has been captured.

IRNA quoted a story on Iran's state radio Pashtun service which reported "a very reliable source" as saying bin Laden had been captured in a tribal area of Pakistan.

A senior U.S. defense official denied the report, telling Reuters it was "another piece of stray voltage that's passing around out there."

Okay. But the voltage has been pretty high. Starting not too long ago the rumors that bin Laden was "boxed in", and then moving into reports of heavy Pakistani troop movement along the Afghanistan border a couple days ago. That's perhaps in preparation for the infamous "spring offensive", though, I suppose.

Whatever. Maybe they have him. Maybe they don't. But if they do, we'll get to see it when they're damn well ready to use it for political purposes.

Pakistan's Foreign Minister Khursheed Mehmood Kasuri told a news conference he was aware of the Iranian report, but added: "We cannot confirm it at all."

Well, that's not a denial.

The Iranian correspondent responsible for the report told Reuters the radio had also reported bin Laden's capture a year ago. But said a new source had told him on Friday the al Qaeda leader had been seized "a long time ago."

"It could be one month ago, it could be one year, but he has been arrested," he said.

While declining to reveal his source or how his source knew of the capture, he said: "My source said it and he knows it."

There's a Bushian statement if I ever heard one.

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

Support the troops - give them ammunition

I'm totally against war, but if you're going to wage one....

A serving solider has risked his career by speaking out over equipment shortages in the Gulf conflict.

Just five bullets each were issued to him and his men, who were serving along frontlines in southern Iraq, the unnamed soldier told Channel 4 News.

"We had five rounds each to defend ourselves. I actually crossed the border with five rounds," he said.

"The magazine held 30 separate bullets but I was issued with five separate bullets to last the entire hostilities of the war. We came under fire in Um Qasr three or four times.

"Not fire, it was more like ricochets. There were firefights going on all around us. It was scary."

The claims threaten to reignite the controversy over equipment shortages, dramatically highlighted by the death of Sgt Steve Roberts.

Defence Secretary Geoff Hoon came under mounting pressure when Sgt Roberts' widow Samantha revealed he was ordered to hand body armour to a colleague, shortly before he was shot and killed.

..."I mean, in training you get the equipment," he said.

"You go through all these scenarios, I mean, if I'm ambushed in a truck, there's five or six different scenarios you go through but they all involve letting off around 200 to 1,000 rounds of bullets in a minute. I mean, what could we do with five bullets?"
  ICKent article

That's a UK article, and it isn't made clear whether that's a U.S. or UK soldier. I'm guessing it's a Brit. But, there are plenty of similar articles about U.S. soldiers. More on the lack of true support for the troops is on my webpage here.

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

E-voting problems do not get media coverage

Thanks to TJ at POAC for this report from

February 26, 2004 -- It happened in 2000. It could happen in 2004. When it comes to flawed election procedures, why does the media wait to the last second to tell the tale?

This year, tens of millions of American voters are projected to use electronic voting systems to cast their vote for president. Many of these machines will get their first test on March 2, Super Tuesday, when voters head to the polls in ten states.

..."Journalists are the watchdogs of democracy," said Kelly McBride of the Poynter Institute, a Florida-based school of journalism. McBride is confident that as the 2004 presidential election approaches media coverage related to e-voting will increase.

But since election reporting began last fall, network news coverage of the switch has been little more than a blip. According to data compiled for Media for Democracy by monitoring firm Media Tenor, between October 2003 and February 2004, ABC, NBC and CBS nightly news programs broadcast only four stories on e-voting machines. Half of the four reports were compiled by CBS. NBC opted for a story that filtered the issue through that of the California recall vote. A search for e-voting news stories on and yields an even smaller assortment: a total of three reports between September 2003 and February 20, 2004, all on CNN.

Is this just more evidence of network news' obsession with campaign spectacle and "horse race" over voter issues and substance? Maybe, but the issues here could have particularly far-reaching consequences.

...This trend provides the lone sliver of good news in the story of mainstream broadcast media's failure to cover e-voting. Though print media's ability to lure fresh readers remains at an all-time low, the Internet has already demonstrated its power over the next generation of US news consumers . . . and voters. According to the Pew survey, 20 percent of Americans between the ages of 18 and 29 now get their campaign news from online sources.

So, there is some reason to be encouraged that the old white male tradition is dying in America, and future generations will be better informed, and hopefully, demand more transparency and honesty in government.

That is if they haven't all been rounded up and thrown in the gulag. And if there's anything left of the country after BushCo get through raping and pillaging.

Meanwhile in Venezuela

A G-15 summit is being held in Caracas. Anti-government demonstrators have taken to the streets in violent protests to disrupt and call attention to their demands for a recall referendum of Hugo Chavez.

The demonstrations are expected to continue until Sunday, when the CNE (election council) is scheduled to make another announcement about the referendum petition.

If you haven't been following, the deal is that, after a failed coup and a failed attempt to destabilize the economy, the anti-government forces are attempting a recall referendum. They must have a certain number of signatures on a petition according to law in order for such a recall vote to be enacted. Their numbers were much too low at the deadline for filing such a petition, and so they took three weeks longer to phony up some. Rather than reject the petitions on grounds of missing the deadline, the CNE agreed to count signatures. When they did so, they found many were pages contained signatures filled out by the same person, forged signatures, signatures of dead people and children, and other "irregularities". The opposition has been demonstrating in an increasingly violent manner to force the recall, while the CNE is still attempting to determine how to handle the suspect petition sheets. It looks like they will decide to allow a certain period of time for the questionable signatures to be verified by the people whose names are on those sheets. Several sites have been set up to permit those people to confirm or deny, and so far, a number of people have denied.

In the meantime, the opposition are determined, violent and apparently well-funded (in part by the U.S.).

A Reuters report on the riots is fairly well balanced.

And, of course, as usual, the U.S. coverage (SF Gate) (New York Times) sets the scene a little differently, blaming the National Guard for inciting a merely "jeering" crowd. It is impossible for us to know what happened. But, if you look at the background, the opposition's behavior in the past and the government's concessions, the conclusion points toward the opposition as instigator of violence.

The Organization of American States, the EU and the U.S.-based Carter Center have urged Venezuela to ignore technical glitches [in the referendum petitions] in favor of voters' apparent intent.

How rich.

Previous Venezuela posts
More on Venezuela

Friday, February 27, 2004

He may have screwed himself as well

Ambiguities in President Bush’s order establishing a new blue-ribbon commission to examine intelligence that led to the war in Iraq could prompt a legal fight over the public’s right of access to the panel’s meetings and records, lawyers familiar with the matter told The New York Sun.

The attorneys said it is evident from the wording of the executive order that the White House hoped to exclude the commission from two federal open government laws, the Freedom of Information Act and the Federal Advisory Committee Act. However, they said that White House lawyers may not have succeeded.

...Lawyers said the legal challenge the White House faces stemmed from Mr. Bush’s desire to establish the panel without authorization from Congress.

“There are all sorts of perfectly understandable reasons that the president would want to bypass Congress in setting up a commission like that,” said David Vladeck, a law professor at Georgetown University. He noted that Congress might have tried to affect the makeup of the commission, the scope of its inquiry, or the handling of its report.
  NY Sun article

Okay, so he wanted that privilege for himself. And we've seen the commission he set up. I think it's being called the Whitewash commission, although I've been calling it the Pointless Commission, reserving Whitewash Commission for the one investigating the outing of Valerie Plame.

White House lawyers sought to solve the problem by writing two seemingly contradictory phrases into the executive order. At one point, the order declares that “the commission shall solely advise and assist the President.” However, the order goes on to state that the CIA and other intelligence agencies “shall utilize the commission and its resulting report.” One phrase is designed to exempt the commission from the public records law; the other is intended to exempt it from the open meeting law.

Mr. Glitzenstein said that taken together the two statements don’t make much sense. “It certainly is a bit of a dilemma for them,” he said.“It can’t be both a presidential committee and a CIA committee,” he added.

Mr. Glitzenstein said that he was on the losing side of a 1989 Supreme Court ruling that found that if an agency “utilizes” a committee, it controls it. He said of the new board, “The whole purpose was to create a committee to criticize the CIA, so they’re not going to be running that thing.”

The attorney said he believes that the intelligence panel is subject to the Federal Advisory Committee Act. That could throw some of its meetings and its records open to the public, though much could still be closed or withheld on national security grounds.

“They would have to do that on a case-by-case, meeting-by-meeting, document-by-document basis,” Mr. Glitzenstein said.

Okay. I'm out. I'm pretty sure it's going to be Pointless, no matter how many games they play with it.

Where are those whistleblowers?

Dead you think?

The Senate Intelligence Committee votes to have a movement

The New York Times reports....

Faced with a refusal by the Bush administration to provide certain documents related to prewar intelligence on Iraq, the Senate intelligence committee voted in a closed session on Thursday to move toward a possible subpoena, according to senior Congressional officials.
What on earth does that mean? "Move toward a possible subpoena." Move toward. Possible. We're only moving toward it, anyway, so I suppose it doesn't matter. But just what is a "possible" subpoena?

It turns out they didn't actually even say that...

The bipartisan vote on the Republican-led panel sets a three-week deadline for a voluntary handover by the administration, after which the committee would employ unspecified "further action," which could only mean a subpoena, the officials said.

...The plan approved by the panel calls for Senator Rockefeller and Senator Pat Roberts of Kansas, the top Republican, to issue an explicit warning in a letter to President Bush if the documents are not received, Congressional officials said.

So, it really doesn't matter whether the pResident agrees to an extension of time for the Commission, or whether Nasty Hastert decides not to block the extension. If the White House is going to stall and stymie and refuse to cooperate, the Commission is not going to get the job done anyway.

The Worthless Commission. Or is this the Pointless Commission?

A movement, indeed. They need to shit or get off the pot, to coin an old Missouri phrase. Or is that Texan?

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

Meanwhile in Venezuela

[Venezuela's Executive Vice President Jose Vicente] Rangel, who battled corruption as a leading TV investigative journalist before joining President Hugo Chavez Frias' reform government, emphasizes that “once the CNE made its decision to send the forms containing signatures with the same handwriting to be revised -- which is an impeccable ruling from a legal and procedural point of view -- the opposition immediately started to announce that they will not recognize the CNE and launched a fierce campaign against it ... just like they did on April 11 and December 2, 2002 ... this is just another coup d'etat and terrorist venture.......the third coup against the Constitution and democracy is underway in Venezuela ... the warning lights are on!” article

Let us hope not.

Fortunately, although I am so wary of this administration that I can't help but wonder what the catch is, State Department has issued a statement that the U.S. backs the CNE's decisions.

The United States government has finally issued a statement ... delivered by usually highly Venezuela-critical US State Department spokesman Richard Boucher ... that the Bush 2 administration "respects the constitutional authority of Venezuela's National Elections Council (CNE) and its labor to verify signatures requesting a revocatory referendum" against President Hugo Chavez Frias.

Perhaps they just realized that we don't have the military forces available to take Chavez head on at this time, and with the problems we are having securing Iraqi oil, the incomplete stage of the pipeline through Georgia, and the need to keep Venezuela's oil coming through, they thought better of backing a destabilization of that country.

For now.

It could also be that the timing of the Venezuelan delegation to the U.S. to meet with reporters makes it harder to lie about U.S. involvement with the opposition, particularly when that delegation is asking Congress to investigate the financing of opposition organizations by the US government-funded National Endowment for Democracy (NED).

Not to mention demonstrations outside the American embassy in Caracas. photo

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Hastert reversal

Now the commission can have an extension.

But, then, I've said that before.

Getting that reversal was managed by more political shennanigans. It was threatened to have the extension request attached to a highway appropriations bill, and as you know, no Congressman would dare stand in the way of a highway bill. Sometimes it works for you. Sometimes it works against you. That's the way the game is played.

And of course, it's not over yet. Who knows what next ploy Hastert's team will come up with. He's not made it official yet.


See, one of the interesting things in the Oval Office -- I love to bring people into the Oval Office -- right around the corner from here -- and say, this is where I office.

We're in for a long struggle, and I think Texans understand that. And so do Americans.

And one of the things we've got to make sure that we do is anything.

Border relations between Canada and Mexico have never been better.

My mom often used to say, "The trouble with W" -- although she didn't put that to words.

Much more at DubyaSpeak.

I'm sure there's a lot of people frightened -- biotechnology is a long word and it sounds -- they may say, well, I don't know if I'm smart enough to be in biotechnology, or it sounds too sophisticated to be in biotechnology.

Sometimes when I sleep at night I think of "Hop on Pop".


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

Presidential Auction 2004

Joel Pett

You better sit down for this one

After a round of impassioned debate, a resolution denouncing the USA Patriot Act was approved Wednesday in a 9-6 vote of the Dallas City Council.
  Star-Telegram article

My fellow Americans

One in five Americans would likely pay to watch a televised execution of al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden.


You, yes you, can right now purchase a truly stylin' sepia-toned "Passion of the Christ" cross-adorned coffee mug, an exact replica of the one Jesus Himself used every morning at the Jerusalem Starbucks.

You can buy "witnessing tools," including lapel pins labeled in indecipherable Aramaic (yay Aramaic! What a comeback! Who knew?) and lapel pins with crucifixes, and packs of "witnessing cards" to swap with your Jesus-happy friends, just like the Disciples did when they sat around the holy campfire, swapping tales of sad lost goddesses and making s'mores with communion wafers and pink Easter marshmallow peeps.

But nothing says "slightly masochistic Jesus fanatic" like adorning your fine self with a two-inch silver pewter crucifixion-nail pendant, hanging 'round your neck from a nice 24-inch leather cord.

Mark Morford - in fine form, as usual....
See The Movie, Buy The Nail

And you know what? Hawking the sacred as cheap cheeseball tchotchke is nothing new. Every religion in the world does it, shamelessly, from Buddhism to Taoism to the psycho Scientology cult. Hell, the Vatican has been doing it for centuries, passing the plate and guilting the throngs into empowering the church to further guilt the throngs into empowering the church to buy massive amounts of property and political influence and some nice new robes and a huge team of pedophilia-defense lawyers.

No, the lesson here is not that it is unacceptable to try to do for Jesus what "Finding Nemo" did for clown fish. The lesson here is not merely that Mel Gibson is a religious bonkjob with a great eye for miserable, bloody battle scenes and giant nails being pounded through bloody hands by sadistic Roman thugs in hideous slo-mo.

The lesson here is simply a reminder, easily forgotten amongst the hype and the creepiness and the busloads of devout Christians who are finally getting their very own "Apocalypse Now," a film that has found a perfect mode by which to market a particularly harsh, ruthless religious view via well-worn channels of pop consumerism...It might be as simple as saying, you know, the last thing anyone really needs hammered into them right now is more brutal, fanatical sanctimony on a string.

And that's all the press I'm going to give Mel's brilliant marketing move, I mean movie.

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

The Anthrax Mystery

Remember the anthrax letters, the deaths, and the scare just after 9/11? Why'd it go away?

The anthrax attacks, that terrorized the nation for weeks in the wake of 9/11, remain unsolved to this day. But there are new developments in the case that throw some light on the mystery, and lead in a direction that can only be called ominous…

...It seems clear, at this juncture, that the anthrax attacks were an organized covert action designed to whip up popular hatred of Arabs...It should be easy enough to investigate the matter, given the resources at the FBI's disposal. So why did they take this long to get this far?

I don't know the answer to that question, but I have a very hard time believing that not a single member of Congress wants to know the answer. At a time when the Democrats are trying to make an issue of this administration's cluelessness when it comes to the "war on terrorism," why they haven't made the "Amerithrax" disaster a campaign issue is beyond me.

Who cares whether or not George W. Bush served in the National Guard – when bio-terrorists may be loose in our midst, armed with worse horrors than anthrax, while law enforcement flails around helplessly, making excuses of unsurpassed lameness?

Justin, Justin, Justin. You are assuming that Congress gives a shit what happens to America.

Justin's article lays out the score to date on the Anthrax deaths and scare, in case you are not familiar with the frame-up first of an Arab-American scientist, then of an equally innocent Anglo-American and the compelling evidence that leads to the implication of a group of American Zionists, and in particular one Lt Col. Philip Zack. You can read it here.

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

The World's Richest People

I like the Harry Potter author's credentials: from welfare mom to billionaire.

Check out Forbes' list of billionaires. Look at the top ten. You think maybe the Waltons have it sewed up? We have one of them here in Columbia. Not one on the list - one of the daughters. Or something. I actually went to her birthday party one year. Uninvited, but she never knew. How could she? There were lots of people there. A guard at the gate didn't recognize names and faces, so....

Hey. I was perfectly innocent. I didn't know until we went through the gate that the person I was with was presenting somebody else's invitation.

The shrimp were good. I don't remember anything else. Lots of booze. A band - but I don't remember who they were. Plenty boring.

I guess I'm just not cut from nouvelle riche cloth.

Bugged again

Juan Cole reports:

Kim Sengupta describes how the US National Security Agency and the British Government Communications Headquarters eavesdrop on the whole world. The NSA is forbidden from listening in on Americans without a warrant, but the US government circumvents this problem by formally allowing the GCHQ to spy on Americans. The NSA listens in on British calls, and then the two just swap the information.

Juan's title for this post is: We may as Well Just Record all our Telephone Calls and send them to Maryland

I say, let them climb through the hoops. Unless it's cheaper to record and submit.

Anyway, Cole's post discusses the Blix and UN bugging, concluding:

The framers of the US constitution wanted individuals to have a reasonable expectation of privacy in their own homes, and wanted the police to leave them alone unless there was good evidence they had committed a crime. The rise of the National Security State during WW II and in the Cold War has effectively gutted the constitution in this regard for all practical purposes. The Patriot Act more or less repeals the Bill of Rights, which has bedevilled successive US regimes, especially that of Richard Nixon, who now finally has his revenge.

I suppose the real question is whether, when Bin Laden boasted, "I will take away their freedom," it was an empty boast or an accurate prediction.

Read the entire post here if you like.

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