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Surf-Worthy Sites:

Administration and Cost of Elections

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Americans United for Separation of Church and State

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Anthrax Vaccine Network

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Arms Control Association

Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now

Atomic Veterans of America

BailoutWatch

Behind the Label

Black Box Voting

Bread for the World

Brennan Center for Justice

B'Tselem

Business and Human Rights Resource Center

Campaign Against Arms Trade

Campaign Against Depleted Uranium

Campaign Finance Institute

Campaign for America's Future

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Campaign for the Abolition of Sweatshops and Child Labor

Campaign to Ban Genetically Engineered Foods

Campaign to Label Genetically Engineered Foods

CEE BankWatch Network

Center for Constitutional Rights

Center for Defense Information

Center for Democracy and Citizenship

Center for Digital Democracy

Center for Economic and Policy Research

Center for Food Safety

Center for International Policy

Center for Justice and Accountability

Center for National Security Studies

Center for Nonproliferation Studies

Center for Public Integrity

Center for Science in the Public Interest

Center for Voting and Democracy

Center on Budget and Policy Priorities

Chemical Industry Archives

Chernobyl Children's Project

Child Labor Coalition

Child Protective Services Watch

Children's Defense Fund

Chilling Effects Clearinghouse

Christian Aid

ChristianLogic.com

Chronic IllNet

Chronology of Incorporation and Monopoly

Citizen Action Project

Citizen Works

Citizens Against Government Waste

Citizens for Tax Justice

Citizens Network on Essential Services

CivilRights.org

Clary-Meuser Research Network

Clean Clothes Campaign

CleanUpGE.org

Coalition for a Competitive Pharmaceutical Market

Coalition to Stop the Use of Child Soldiers

CokeWatch.org

Commercial Alert

Common Cause

Common Dreams

Commonweal Institute

Community Rights Council

Concord Coalition

CongressWatch

Consumer Federation of America

Consumer Project on Technology

Consumer Research

Consumers Against Supermarket Privacy Invasion and Numbering

Corporate Crime Reporter

Corporate Europe Observatory

Corporate Responsibility Coalition

Corporate Sunshine Working Group

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Corporate Welfare Shame Page

CorporateWatch

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Council for a Livable World

Council on Hemispheric Affairs

Cronus Connection: Election Fraud and Voting Machines

Death Penalty Information Center

Defense and the National Interest

Democracy 21

DemocracyNet

Depleted Uranium Education Project

Depleted Uranium Watch

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Disabled American Veterans

Discernment Ministry International

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e.Hormone

Earth Institute

EarthJustice

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Electronic Frontier Foundation

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Electronic Voting

Endgame Research

Energy Future Coalition

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Environmental Working Group

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Fair Taxes for All

Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting

Faith-BasedWatch

Families of
September 11


Families USA: Voice for Health Care Consumers

Family Farm Alliance

FamilyFarmer.org

Farm Credit Quagmire

FAS Project on Government Secrecy

FDA Review

Federation of American Scientists

Fellowship of Reconciliation

Fielding's DangerFinder

Fight Bad Faith Insurance Companies

Focus on the Corporation

Foundation for Taxpayer & Consumer Rights

Fourth Freedom Forum

Free Expression Policy Project

Friends of the Earth

Genocide Documentation Centre

Genocide in the 20th Century

Global Exchange

GoogleWatch

GRACE Factory Farm Project

Gulf War Veterans

Gush Shalom

Health Care Comparisons Worldwide

Health Privacy Project

Healthy Building Network

Heifer International

History House

Human Rights Watch

HumanTrafficking.org

iAbolish: Anti-Slavery Web Portal

IdealsWork

Independent Judiciary

Indian Trust: Cobell v. Norton

IndianLandTenure.org

Inequality.org

Infact: Challenging Corporate Abuse

Initiative & Referendum Institute

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Institute for Energy and Environmental Research

Institute for Health Freedom

Institute for Local Self-Reliance

Institute for Policy Studies

Institute for Public Accuracy

Interfaith Alliance

Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility

International ANSWER

International Atomic Energy Agency

International Campaign to Ban Landmines

International Confederation of Free Trade Unions

International Federation for Alternative Trade

International Fellowship of Reconciliation

International Institute for Environment and Development

International Labor Rights Fund

International POPs Elimination Network

Jewish Unity for a Just Peace

JoeCitizen.org

Keep Antibiotics Working

Landmine Survivors Network

League of Conservation Voters

League of Women Voters

Let's Invest in Families Today

Liberals Like Christ

Local Harvest

Los Alamos Study Group

Low Level Radiation Campaign

Maquila Solidarity Network

March for Justice

McSpotlight

Measles Initiative

MediaReform.net

Mines Advisory Group

MinistryWatch

Mothers for Peace

MoveOn.org

Moving Ideas

National Center for Children in Poverty

National Coalition Against Censorship

National Coalition for Homeless Veterans

National Committee for an Effective Congress

National Committee to Preserve Social Security & Medicare

National Farmers Union

National Freedom of Information Coalition

National Freedom Scorecard

National Gulf War Resource Center

National Institute on Money in State Politics

National Labor Committee for Worker and Human Rights

National Organization for Rare Disorders

National Parks Conservation Association

National Priorities Project

National Vaccine Information Center

National Voting Rights Institute

Native American Rights Fund

NativeWeb

Natural Resources Defense Council

Neturei Karta

New Rules Project

NikeWatch

No Free Lunch: Just Say No to Drug Reps

No Spray Coalition

Novartis Foundation for Sustainable Development

Nuclear Control Institute

Nuclear Threat Initiative

Office of Management & Budget Watch

OpenSecrets.org: Money in Politics

Open Society Institute

Organic Consumers Association

Our Stolen Future

Oxfam International

Participatory Democracy

Pax Christi International

People for the American Way

Pesticide Action Network North America

Physicians for Human Rights

Polaris Institute

Political Money Line

Privacy.net

Program on Corporations, Law and Democracy

Project Against the Present Danger

Project on Government Oversight

Project Underground

Project Vote Smart

Protection Project

PRWatch

Public Citizen

Public Employees for Environmental Responsibity

Rainforest Action Network

RaytheonWatch

Reaching Critical Will

Reclaim Democracy

Reclaim the Media

ReliefWeb

RememberJohn.com

Resource Center of the Americas

Responsible Wealth

Rethinking Schools

Right-To-Know Network

Safe Tables Our Priority: Food Safety and Food-Borne Illness

SafeMinds

Save the Children

Secretive World of Voting Machines

Send a Cow

September 11th Families for Peaceful Tomorrows

Shared Hope International

Small Business Survival Committee

Society for Animal Protective Legislation

Soft Money Laundromat

Sojourners: Christians for Justice and Peace

Soldiers for the Truth

Soy Online Service

Sprawl Busters

SpyChecker

StateAction.org

Stop Carnivore

Stop Disney Sweatshops

Stop Patient Abuse Now Coalition

SurgicalEyes.org

SweatshopWatch

Sweetwater Alliance

Swords to Plowshares

Talion: Voting Machines

Tax Foundation

Taxpayers for Common Sense

Ten Thousand Villages

Third World Traveler

Tort Reform Reader

Traidcraft

Transparency International

Traprock Peace Center

Truth About Credit

20/20 Vision

UN Landmines Fact Sheet

UN Population Fund

Union of Concerned Scientists

United for a Fair Economy

United for Peace & Justice

Uranium Medical Research Centre

US Campaign to Ban Landmines

US Congregational Life Survey

US Public Interest Research Group

USFumigation.org

Veterans for Common Sense

Vital Voices Global Partnership

Voice4Change.org

VoteWatch: Repository for Voter Complaints

Water Aid

Water Barons

Whistleblower.org: Government Accountability Project

Wilderness Society

WISE Uranium Project

Womens International League for Peace & Freedom

World Resources Institute

WorldWatch Institute

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Yesh-Gvul

YourCongress.com

Yucca Mountain Facts


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Saturday, March 22, 2003

Two-Faced

That old "Do as we say, not as we do" thing:

A Double Standard On Dissent

But the more a president's supporters use the term "commander in chief" to enhance his authority, the more important it is to remember his role as the political leader of a free republic who is not endowed with infallibility, unlimited power or immunity from criticism. That, after all, is the essential difference between our country and Iraq. Our foe in this war is a brutal despot who responds to opponents not with nasty sound bites or 30-second attack ads but with torture and murder. To proclaim the right to dissent is to declare why the United States is a country worth fighting for...

But a different standard seemed to apply after President Clinton launched his 1999 air campaign in Kosovo to protect ethnic Albanians from another dictator.

"I don't think we should be bombing in the Balkans," said Rep. Tom DeLay, a Texas Republican. "I don't think NATO should be destroyed because we changed its mission to a humanitarian one." His colleague Rep. Randy Cunningham (R-CA) accused Clinton of pursuing "the most inept foreign policy in the history of the United States."


Read all the details collected by Ivan Durak on LiveJournal:

The Rich History of "Supporting the Troops" But Not Their Orders

We at The Daily Dystopian believe that dissent is a proud and honorable American tradition. We wouldn't be the country we are today if the FFs had meekly submitted to a government that did not serve their needs. Many of us feel that the people of our country have been poorly served by our government due to the influence and manipulations of special interest groups almost from the beginning of our independence, and we believe that we have not only the right, but also the responsibility to talk about it.

And so that's what we do. Presidents come and go, political parties fall in and out of power, but our country is forever, God willing, and it still belongs to us, not to them. We're just fighting to keep "the People" part of "We, the People" from being written out of the equation altogether.

dystopia 12:55 PM - [Link]
...

Rummy Runs Rampant

We are not big fans of Skeletor. Here's a few reasons why:

Rumsfeld's Style, Goals Strain Ties in Pentagon

Presiding over a Pentagon thick with tension is an ironic position for an administration that came to office promising to show new respect for the military. In Congress and elsewhere in Washington, some now are questioning whether the military feels free to give its best advice to the administration -- or whether that advice is being welcomed.

"I've heard repeatedly about the lack of trust between the secretary and the uniformed officers," said Sen Jack Reed (D-RI), a member of the Armed Services Committee and a former Army officer who commanded an infantry company in the 82nd Airborne Division. "That, I think is a problem," particularly, he added, with the administration contemplating an invasion of Iraq.

"If there is an atmosphere where contrary views aren't well received, you may move into an operation that isn't well-advised," a three-star officer warned.


Oh, yay. More:

A Star With Too Many Points?
With Friends Like Rumsfeld...
Rumsfeld Intelligence Agency
Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz Lobbied Clinton in '98 to Start Iraq War

And a personal opinion of Rummy by Pierre A Rinfret, an unofficial economic and financial consultant to three Presidents -- Kennedy, Johnson and Nixon:

People I Have Known: Donald Rumsfeld

Gee, what's not to like?

dystopia 12:17 PM - [Link]
...

Casualty Count Rises

The fourth Marine killed in Thursday's helicopter crash has been identified as Staff Sgt Kendall Damon Waters-Bey, 29, of Baltimore, MD. The first two Marines to die in combat have been identified as well: 2nd Lt Therrel S. Childers, 30, of Harrison, MS, and Lance Cpl Jose Gutierrez, 22, of Los Angeles.

Four more soldiers were in a Humvee hit by a rocket-propelled grenade in central Iraq. We have conflicting reports of whether they were killed or injured.

Two British Navy helicopters collided today over international waters in the Persian Gulf. Searchers were looking for seven soldiers, six British and one American, though they are feared dead.

A US Army infantryman was shot in the chest near Nasiriya, but appeared to be alive as he was evacuated.

In the Umm Qasr fighting, there were unconfirmed reports of American and British wounded.

Also today, an Australian cameraman was killed by a car bomb in Northern Iraq, and three members of an ITV news crew are missing after their vehicle came under fire in the south.

dystopia 11:07 AM - [Link]
...

Gulf War POWs Tell Their Stories

Some harrowing tales from the men who lived them:

"Probably the worst feeling in the world is to hear somebody else being beaten. It just tears your guts out. Probably the second-worst feeling in the world is to know that eventually your turn's coming," said Berryman. The pilot of a Marine harrier jet, he was shot down and captured on the 10th day of the war.

"I can't tell you how much hatred I had for them for the way they treated us," Berryman said...

The Iraqis have never apologized for their treatment of the American POWs, and once home, unlike the POWs from Vietnam, there were no medals of honor, no White House reception, no real understanding of how their treatment forever changed their lives and the lives of their families.


dystopia 10:44 AM - [Link]
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Today in Dystopian History

1947: President Truman signs Executive Order 9835, beginning the Great Loyalty Crusade. Two million government employees were required to take oaths and submit to loyalty investigations; of those, only 139 were terminated within three years.

1974: Equal Rights Amendment passed by Congress, but never ratified.

1986: Americans become increasingly involved on the ground and in air supplies in Central America after the Contras launch an incursion into Honduras.

1987: A boat piled with 3,168 tons of garbage begins a 162-day, 6,000-mile search for a port willing to take its load. After being rebuffed by 6 states & 3 countries, New York City agrees to burn the trash.

1988: Congress overrides a Reagan veto of civil rights legislation.

1996: Starr crony Ewing Hickman states in an interview for The New Yorker that, in his investigation of Bill and Hillary Clinton, he operates on a presumption that they are guilty.

2001: Bush announces that he will no longer allow the review of judicial nominees by the American Bar Association prior to their nominations being sent to the Senate, the non-partisan ABA review process dates back to the Eisenhower administration.

dystopia 10:26 AM - [Link]
...

Friday, March 21, 2003

Kevin Sites War Blog Suspended

Guess he's being a little too thorough or something:

I've been asked to suspend my war blogging for awhile.

But I don't want let you down -- I'm chronicling the events of my war experiences, the same as I always have, and hope to come to agreement with CNN in the near future to make them available to you in some shape or form, perhaps on this site.

In the meantime, thanks for participating in this remarkable forum. It's been a remarkable experience to be your witness here.


He's already posted an amazing record of his experiences in Iraq in the days leading up to the war. Go there and read.

dystopia 6:26 PM - [Link]
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Blood Money

Dunno how you feel about this, but we're thoroughly disgusted:

Stocks record best week in 20 years

Many traders were glued to television screens as the Pentagon unleashed a massive aerial bombing offensive against Baghdad designed to invoke “shock and awe” among Iraqi troops. Baghdad was rocked by massive explosions, followed by fires and smoke.

At the open, US stocks followed European equities higher, as US and British ground forces poured into Iraq from Kuwait, encountering little resistance as they seized control of important ground in south and western regions, raising hopes for a quick conclusion to the war.


dystopia 3:51 PM - [Link]
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Second Marine Killed in Combat

Total allied forces deaths so far: 6 Americans, 8 British

The second Marine to die in the fighting, also from the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force, was shot to death at approximately 4 pm Friday local time during a battle against Iraqi forces near the port of Umm Qasr in southern Iraq.

Two more of the helicopter crash victims have been identified: Capt Thomas “Jay” Aubin of Maine, and Cpl Brian Kennedy of Texas.

We understand that the Shock and Awe program is now under way.

Our condolences to all the families. Prayers for everyone.

dystopia 3:21 PM - [Link]
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A Great Mindless Entertainment Site

Because sometimes you have to take a break from all the bad news -- fresh, funny and creative interactive graphics: ZE's Page

Our favorite ZE toys:

Make Your Own Kaleidoscope Version 1
Make Your Own Kaleidoscope Version 2
Gyro
Orange Box
How to Dance Properly
Memory
Simon
SpiroGraph

A ton of stuff to play with. Have fun!

dystopia 3:04 PM - [Link]
...

Tired of Being Argued Down by Right-Wingers?

We know what you mean. There is a method to this madness, though.

If you want help, we recommend studying this handy guide to fallacious arguments, then check out the links at the bottom of that page to find more helpful hints on semantics and the art of debate. Try googling, and you'll find lots more.

Don't fear the straw man!

dystopia 2:46 PM - [Link]
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September Eleventh Families for Peaceful Tomorrows

A busy, busy bunch, with members having spoken at more than 190 events since Sept 11. Visit the website to find out about their activities, details on current projects, and their anti-war statement:

September 11th Families for Peaceful Tomorrows condemns unconditionally the illegal, immoral, and unjustified US-led military action in Iraq. As family members of September 11th victims, we know how it feels to experience "shock and awe," and we do not want other innocent families to suffer the trauma and grief that we have endured. While we also condemn the brutality of Saddam Hussein's regime, it does not justify the brutality, death and destruction being visited upon Iraq and its citizens by our own government.

dystopia 2:25 PM - [Link]
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US Troops Still in Danger in Afghanistan

We're still pretty busy over there, in case you didn't know. The PakTribune reports three injured just last week:

A US military convey was going on a special hunt operation when it came under on a national highway connecting south-eastern province of Paktia and Gardez. As a result, three US soldiers were injured.

The US soldiers returned the fire and called in helicopters, which bombed the attackers' hideouts. At least seven attackers were killed and four were arrested.


More links on recent US casualties:

4 US Troops Among 5 Killed in Attack in Afghanistan
2 US Troops Injured in Car-Bomb Blast in Eastern Afghanistan

We don't have any idea how many have been killed or wounded since (we thought) the war ended, but it sounds like our troops over there could still use plenty of prayers and support.

dystopia 1:41 PM - [Link]
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UN and Cambodia Reach Accord for Khmer Rouge Trial

A bit of progress toward addressing the murders of about 2 million people:

The issue is politically delicate in a nation where former middle-ranking Khmer Rouge fill prominent government positions, and Mr. Hun Sen has been consistent in his inconsistency throughout the negotiations.

"He still may not want a trial," said Steve Heder, an expert on Cambodia at the School of Oriental and Asian Studies in London. "He may not want to be blamed for it not happening, but he still may not want it to happen."

Mr. Corell, who is the deputy secretary general for legal affairs at the United Nations, broke off talks last year, saying the Cambodians did not seem to be negotiating seriously.

The new agreement is based on a draft presented by the General Assembly under the sponsorship of France and Japan.


Read survivors' stories and lots more from the Cambodian Genocide Survivors Network, and at the Cambodian Genocide Program website.

dystopia 1:30 PM - [Link]
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Afghan Women Still Not Free

The Taliban may be long gone, but Sharia is still the basis for most Afghan law:

There are 15 women in Kabul's jail. Most are here for having married a second time, in violation of Islamic and Afghan law. Sometimes innocently, sometimes defiantly, they grasped at happiness, and were met with confinement.

Muzghan, for example, ran away from a marriage arranged by her parents, escaping with the boy she loved. Her father-in-law tracked the pair to the northern city of Mazar-I-Sharif, and had them brought back to Kabul and jailed.


See The Many Faces of Sharia for more info on Islamic law.

dystopia 1:19 PM - [Link]
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House Budget Makes Big Cuts in Domestic Programs

Veterans programs, student loans, school lunches, child care, food stamps, Medicaid, cash assistance for the elderly and disabled poor -- they're all facing drastic cuts:

"Class warfare turns out to be alive," Center director Robert Greenstein commented. "It is a centerpiece of the Nussle budget, with deep budget cuts that could harshly affect the poor, the vulnerable, and many middle-class Americans, alongside lavish tax cuts for the nation’s richest individuals. With this budget, we would be marching down the path toward a new Gilded Age."

"The Nussle budget serves one very useful purpose." Greenstein added. "It shows that these large tax cuts aren’t free, and that at bottom, the issue is one of national priorities. This ought to trigger a national debate. Are tax cuts averaging $90,000 a year for millionaires so high a priority that we should cut health care programs, increase the ranks of the uninsured, reduce the cost or limit the availability of student loans, and increase hardship among the disabled, poor children, and others to free up room for massive tax cuts?"


Veterans Against the Iraq War (VAIW; we referred to them in error as VAIQ somewehere down below) has a page on cuts in the VA budget:

According to the Veterans Administration, 28 million veterans are currently using VA benefits and another 70 million Americans are potentially eligible for such programs, a quarter of the county's population. With the economy in a downward spiral and unemployment rising quickly, an increased number of veterans will be turning to the Veterans Administration for assistance. Yet, the VA budget is about to shrink.

"As the nation expresses support for our soldiers and sailors on the verge of war in the Middle East, even from us who are deeply opposed to this unnecessary war," says Stewart Nusbaumer of Veterans Against Iraq War" (www.vaiw.org), the Republicans are expressing contempt by cutting the veterans budget."

Nearly a third of the Gulf War veterans have submitted claims to the Veterans Administration for disability, this is about 209,000 veterans. Gulf War II may have as many or more requesting VA assistance, but with a Veterans Administration that will be smaller and with less resources.


dystopia 1:00 PM - [Link]
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Jobless Claims Still High

No good news here:

The Labor Department said the number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits fell to 421,000 in the week ended March 15 from a revised 425,000 the prior week. Economists, on average, expected 420,000 new claims, according to a Reuters poll.

Any number above 400,000 is generally considered to indicate a deteriorating labor market.

"These figures strongly suggest that the labor market recovery train is still not even at the train station as of yet," said Anthony Chan, chief economist at Banc One Investment Advisors.


dystopia 12:54 PM - [Link]
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Your Religion's Stance on Iraq

A faith-by-faith guide to where the major American religious denominations stand on war with Iraq.

And, in a related story from Yahoo! News, US Churches' Clergy and Laity Split on War

In the past, says historian Martin E Marty, clergy successfully prodded parishioners' opinions on major social issues like alcohol prohibition and civil rights. But when it comes to war, lay Christians have gone along with the prevailing public sentiment, regardless of what they hear in church.

"The mainstream Protestant laity has been roughly where the public is as long as I've known them," said Marty, 75, a former University of Chicago professor regarded as the dean of American church historians. "Barring some special factor, the laity is indistinguishable from the larger culture."

The Gallup Poll said in early March that 63 percent of those who said they attend church almost weekly favored a US military invasion to end Saddam Hussein's rule, compared with 59 percent of the general public in the survey. The margin of error was 3 percentage points. A Pew Research Center poll question last month produced similar results.


Good heavens!

dystopia 12:41 PM - [Link]
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A Tale of Two Fables by Robert B Reich

Opinion piece in The American Prospect:

Equally worrisome is the possibility that Americans come to believe Fable 1, unleashing a new and more virulent xenophobia and jingoism. An American public scarred by 9-11 and fearful of future terrorist attacks is especially vulnerable to demagoguery about America's unalloyed virtue and a worldwide conspiracy of evil that threatens our survival. A similar narrative captured the American mind in the 1950s when communism seemed poised to obliterate us, but in the 1950s we hadn't been traumatized by thousands of civilian deaths on American soil. The consequences this time around could be a larger erosion of civil liberties at home and a more uncompromising militarism abroad that gives the rest of the world greater reason to believe Fable 2.

Extremists gain power when politics becomes polarized around opposite views of reality. As the two fables gain credibility among opposing camps, the world's single remaining superpower grows ever more isolated, and the world becomes an increasingly dangerous place.


Food for thought.

dystopia 12:32 PM - [Link]
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Hughes' New Role In Shaping Bush's Message

Mmmm-hmm -- plenty of questions here:

The arrangement has prompted accusations from Democrats and government watchdog groups that the role of Hughes improperly blends politics and government business. Democrats complain that the presence of Hughes gives an inherently political tinge to the war effort. "George Bush should be focused on winning this war and making sure our troops are safe, not on how his partisan campaign hacks are going to score political points in the aftermath," said David Sirota, spokesman for Democrats on the House Appropriations Committee.

Government watchdog groups said the arrangement essentially allows Hughes to serve as White House official without being subject to its ethics rules, such as disclosure of income sources. Larry Noble, executive director of the Center for Responsive Politics, said that "in effect they're having the RNC paying her salary so she isn't paid by the White House and doesn't come under the ethics rules of the White House." Noble said the arrangement "is a way to avoid disclosing outside income."


dystopia 12:17 PM - [Link]
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First Casualties

An as-yet unidentified Marine is the first combat casualty in the Iraq War, shot in the stomach as his company swept around a burning oil pumping station. In another incident, a US Marine helicopter carrying eight British and four US soldiers crashed in Kuwait Friday, killing everyone on board. The pilot of the CH-46 helicopter has been indentified as Capt. Ryan Beaupre, 30, of St. Anne, IL.

12 killed when US chopper crashes in Kuwait

NBC’s Bob Arnot, who witnessed the crash from another helicopter, said the pilot wasn't able to recover after his aircraft suddenly pitched forward.

"His wingman said, 'Pull up, pull up, pull up!' He did pull up, but then hit the ground with a substantial impact and skidded forward," Arnot recalled from radio communications heard on his helicopter.

Arnot, who is assigned to travel with Marines in northern Kuwait, said the helicopter that crashed was heavily loaded with ordnance, which exploded on impact. The Americans were with the 1st Marine Expeditionary Unit, Arnot said...

The crash was the third incident involving U.S. helicopters in two days. Wednesday night and Thursday, two US helicopters made crash landings along the Kuwait-Iraq border. US warplanes destroyed one of them to keep it out of Iraqi hands, defense officials said.

No one was injured aboard the helicopters in the earlier incidents — an MH-53 “Pave Low” special operations craft carrying a crew of six and an AH-64 Apache attack craft with two crew members.


Our hearts and prayers go out to all the families and loved ones of those who were lost.

dystopia 12:05 PM - [Link]
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Security Problems at Sandia National Labs

The head of Sandia National Laboratories on Thursday acknowledged security problems at the nuclear lab, including guards napping on duty, stolen computers and the brief disappearance of a set of master keys.

C. Paul Robinson said the security and management problems showed a need for major changes at the lab that helps safeguard and assure the reliability of the nation's nuclear stockpile.


Still having trouble at Los Alamos, too:

Director, deputy to resign posts at Los Alamos nuclear lab

There are claims the top-secret New Mexico laboratory is missing $5 million in equipment, including 263 computers that may contain classified information.

A recent audit has also found about $9 million in fraud involving laboratory-issued credit cards.


More: Los Alamos chief quits amid scandal

Several sources said the allegations of theft and poor property and financial control, made worse by coverup and the firing of whistleblowers, proved to be a last straw at the Department of Energy. Soon, DOE executives made a point of saying that perhaps the university wasn't up to the job.

Good-government groups have been waiting years for those words, according to Danielle Brian, executive director of the Project on Government Oversight, a nonprofit watchdog group based in Washington, D.C.

"This has been a contract for life. That, at some level, has been the problem," she said. "When you're not really worried about your performance because you know you're always going to get paid, then that's a real disincentive to fix things."


We couldn't agree more.

dystopia 11:46 AM - [Link]
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Scaly Scalia Gets Award for Supporting Free Speech

Who'd he pay off? Okay, we know about the Opus Dei stuff, and we know he's a neocon, but how can he exhibit such bald-faced brass? Oh, that's right -- lifetime appointment.

Justice Bans Media From Free Speech Event

The ban on broadcast media, "begs disbelief and seems to be in conflict with the award itself," C-SPAN vice president and executive producer Terry Murphy wrote in a letter last week to the City Club. "How free is speech if there are limits to its distribution?"

Wait -- it gets better:

Justice Scalia says war warrants rights' recess

Scalia did not discuss what rights he believed are constitutionally protected, but said that in wartime, one can expect "the protections will be ratcheted right down to the constitutional minimum. I won't let it go beyond the constitutional minimum."

So reassuring.

dystopia 11:27 AM - [Link]
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Only Five US Corporations Invited to Bid for Contracts

The bidding's for post-war reconstruction of Iraq.

Kellogg, Brown and Root, a subsidiary of Halliburton, is already making out like a bandit by providing "logistical support" during the war. We don't know how many companies were allowed to bid on that contract.

Critics say that the apparent conflict of interest is deplorable. "The Bush-Cheney team have turned the United States into a family business," says Harvey Wasserman, author of The Last Energy War (Seven Stories Press, 2000). "That's why we haven't seen Cheney - he's cutting deals with his old buddies who gave him a multimillion-dollar golden handshake. Have they no grace, no shame, no common sense? Why don't they just have Enron run America? Or have Zapata Petroleum (George W. Bush's failed oil-exploration venture) build a pipeline across Afghanistan?"

Army officials disagree. Major Bill Bigelow, public relations officer for the US Army in Western Europe, says: "If you're going to ask a specific question - like, do you think it's right that contractors profit in wartime - I would think that they might be better [asked] at a higher level, to people who set the policy. We don't set the policy, we work within the framework that's been established."

"Those questions have been asked forever, because they go back to World War Two when Chrysler and Ford and Chevy stopped making cars and started making guns and tanks. Obviously it's a question that's been around for quite some time. But it's true that nowadays there are very few defense contractors, but go back sixty years to the World War Two era almost everybody was manufacturing something that either directly or indirectly had something to do with defense," he added.


Halliburton also got the fire-fighting contract for the Iraqi oil fields. We don't know how many companies were allowed to bid on that one, either.

They made plenty of money on the war in Afghanistan, too.

dystopia 11:12 AM - [Link]
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GOP Falls Short on Alaska Drilling Battle

Cool!

The Interior Department estimates the refuge may have from 5.7 billion to as much as 16 billion barrels of oil, a field comparable to the adjacent Prudhoe Bay fields. But environmentalists argue that only about 3.2 billion barrels may be economically worth pumping, depending on the price of oil.

Boxer said the United States could save more oil than the refuge would produce "by just getting the SUVs to have the same fuel economy as autos."

The United States uses about 20 million barrels of oil a day, a little more than half of it imported.


There isn't that much oil there. How would it even be worth drilling?

dystopia 10:49 AM - [Link]
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Today in Dystopian History

1965: Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. begins his march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama.

1982: Bill Moyers presents a documentary on CBS, People Like Us, which portrays life under the Reagan regime: the show includes reports on an Ohio man with cerebral palsy who has been cut from Social Security disability, a Hispanic woman in New Jersey who has been cut from welfare and Medicaid who cannot afford cancer treatments for her 13-year-old son, a Wisconsin woman who had been taking care of her comatose daughter at home but was forced to institutionalize her because of new Reagan regulations, and a Milwaukee church which has been overwhelmed by increasing requests for food aid from the new poor who have lost their jobs in the Reagan economy.

2000: Split Supreme Court voids FDA authority to regulate tobacco as an addictive drug.

2001: Another spate of rolling blackouts begins in California as the energy companies jockey for increased profits.

dystopia 10:25 AM - [Link]
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Insurance is Such a Joke

Three nurses arrive at the Pearly Gates. St Peter asks the first why he should admit her. She replies that she has been an emergency room nurse and has saved thousands and thousands of lives.

"OK", he says, "Come on in!"

The second reports that she had been an ICU nurse and that she, too, has saved thousands and thousands of lives. St Peter lets her in, too.

St Peter asks the third nurse the same question. She replies that she has been a managed care nurse and has saved thousands and thousands of dollars for the insurance company.

St Peter replies, "OK. Come on in. But you can only stay three days."


From Comedy Central's Joke of the Day.

dystopia 9:08 AM - [Link]
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Thursday, March 20, 2003

What About the Kids?

Sounds like we might be running a little behind in trying to make sure our kids have a chance at surviving an attack:

U.S. Plans to Help Young Victims of Terrorism Are Criticized

Although planning is better than it was a year ago, when few crisis managers even realized that children had different needs, the experts said, actual preparedness is hardly better than it was before the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

Pediatric doses of medicines to counter nerve gas, anthrax or a dirty bomb's radiation are not even standardized yet, much less distributed. Paramedics who could be called to a gassed school or a bombed bus do not routinely receive specialized training in things like finding smaller veins or using smaller tracheotomy tubes in children thrashing around in fear or in steeling themselves against the shock of having to treat a room full of dying children.


What's the problem? Lack of funding? Apathy? What? This makes no sense at all.

dystopia 5:27 PM - [Link]
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Box of Virus Blows Apart at FedEx Site

Dunno what happened here. Googled on it but haven't been able to find anything else.

A package containing the West Nile virus exploded on Tuesday night at a Federal Express building here. Fifty workers were evacuated.

Fire officials said dry ice used to preserve tissue samples with live virus might have caused the shoebox-size package to burst at the FedEx office near Port Columbus International Airport.

The package, from the Ohio Department of Health and being sent to a researcher at the University of Texas, held brain and kidney tissue from a bird that had tested positive for the virus, said Jay Carey, spokesman for the health department.


Weird! We hope they find a more secure way to package that stuff.

dystopia 5:15 PM - [Link]
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Strange Bedfellows

Libertarians join up with gay rights groups in an upcoming Supreme Court case, though not for the sake of gay rights. Here's an exploration of the intricacies and implications of the case, and the motives of those for and against:

Supreme Court case draws divergent allies

The message is one of freedom from government control over private choices, economic as well as sexual. "Libertarians argue that the government has no business in the bedroom or in the boardroom," Roger Pilon, vice president for legal affairs at the Cato Institute, said, describing the motivation for the institute, a leading libertarian research organization here, to file a brief on behalf of two gay men who are challenging the Texas law.

Dana Berliner, a lawyer for the Institute for Justice, another prominent libertarian group here that also filed a brief, said, "Most people may see this as a case purely about homosexuality, but we don't look at it that way at all." The Institute for Justice usually litigates against government regulation of small business and in favor of "school choice" vouchers for parents to use to send their children to nonpublic schools with public money...

The libertarian Cato Institute and Institute for Justice are conservative organizations, and the more traditional conservative groups have entered the case on the state's side, among them the American Center for Law and Justice. That group is affiliated with the Reverend Pat Robertson, the evangelical leader, and is a frequent participant in Supreme Court cases.


It's a twisty one, all right.

dystopia 4:53 PM - [Link]
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Meet One of Our Female Fighter Pilots

Indentified only as "Thumper," this F-16 pilot who's been patrolling the Southern No-Fly Zone tells us a little bit about how she got there, and what it's like.

A woman fighter pilot gets ready

The F-16 taxis to the runway, and in a burst of power, is airborne in less than 10 seconds. Minutes later, she'll be in hostile airspace.

"I've seen the fires, but I've never been specifically targeted," Thumper said. On Operation Southern Watch missions, she will drop leaflets or bombs, depending on what's needed.


We wish the situation with Iraq had never escalated to this point but, since it has, we'll just say "Go safely, T."

dystopia 3:52 PM - [Link]
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Rift In Interfaith Relations Furthered By War Buildup

This article in the Houston Chronicle addresses a situation we've been watching with heavy hearts for some time. It's not just Christian vs. Muslim vs. Jewish vs. whoever anymore; the Christian vs. Christian rhetoric has also been spiralling out of control:

"For those who harbor gross stereotypes, misperceptions, suspicions and antipathies toward people of religions different from our own, Sept 11 has done nothing but made a sorry state of affairs even worse," said Scott Alexander, director of the Catholic-Muslim Studies Program at the Catholic Theological Union in Chicago.

The Iraq situation has caused more problems by blurring political and religious views, said Gaddy, the Baptist minister whose organization opposes a unilateral U.S. military strike...

"When you hear both religious and political leaders using the language of moral absolutes to talk about military and political initiatives, whoever is in disagreement with that is put in the awkward position of not just holding a different idea, but opposing righteousness," Gaddy said.


Amen.

dystopia 3:08 PM - [Link]
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New Peace Blog Directory

Finally, an easy way to find and connect with bloggers who share our views!

Submit your own blog site or read what others post on theirs at Peaceblogs.org

We're there!

dystopia 3:01 PM - [Link]
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Some Things Are Just Not Done

Why on earth would there be any question about this?

War doesn't stop political fundraising

This lady gets it:

Republican donor Irene Ayers felt a little strange attending a party fund-raiser with the possibility of war looming, and wouldn't want to see politicians raising money if war with Iraq comes.

"I would feel that it's inappropriate - I probably shouldn't be saying this when I'm going downstairs to have dinner with them - but I would feel it would be inappropriate to continue to fund-raise during an all-out war," said Ayers, of Merced, Calif.


These idiots clearly do not:

NRCC contributor Cuong Do of San Jose, Calif., president of a real estate and mortgage firm, said he felt it was important to stand behind the president. "Fund raising is part of it and as Republicans, we support it if we can," he said.

Margaret and Fred Martin, NRCC donors from La Conner, Wash., agreed. "Life goes on, the government goes on," Fred Martin said. "There's got to be fund raising if you're going to continue to do your programs."


(edited), you selfish, insensitive dolts!

dystopia 2:01 PM - [Link]
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Bikers Against Child Abuse Lend Support

We're always tickled spitless to find good people doing good things.

BACA in full force as accused Smart kidnappers face charges

The scene inside the courtroom was somewhat surreal as 40 bikers clad in black leather jackets, chains and skull medallions packed the benches along with scores of reporters covering the high-profile kidnapping case.

The burly bikers, many of them with shaved heads, are part of a home-grown Utah group, Bikers Against Child Abuse, that has expanded nationally over the last few years, with chapters in 11 states, including Wisconsin and Missouri...

But the bikers' purpose is unique. They make it their business to appear in court on behalf of abused children, so that the victims and their families know that tough guys are on their side. They plan to appear at every court hearing associated with Smart's abduction, spokesman Paul Dubois said...

When abused children need therapy, Bikers Against Child Abuse supplies services from counselors who are members or pays for outside help from psychologists. Every summer, they hold a giant barbecue for children and their families; each fall, they distribute toys, quilts and games at a local children's hospital.

The Utah chapter is the largest, with more than 300 members. To join, potential members undergo a FBI background check and spend a year being closely watched as they travel with the group, Dubois said. "We don't want any perverts who want to get close to abused kids trying to get in with us," he said.


Saaaaaaaa-lute!

dystopia 1:45 PM - [Link]
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McCain Blasts "Military-Industrial Ripoff"

Sometimes we really like McCain -- sometimes we don't. Today we do:

McCain, a Senate Armed Services Committee member, grilled Defense Undersecretary Pete Aldridge about the deal at a hearing, expressing frustration that the Air Force had not examined other alternatives such as modernizing or a direct purchase to replace its fleet of 40-year-old KC-135s.

The Arizona Republican has been an outspoken critic of the plan. He says the Air Force does not need new tankers now because its fleet is young in flight hours, and the lease deal -- the first ever involving a large number of U.S. military aircraft -- would cost taxpayers too much...

McCain also questioned the decision that a special purpose entity would issue bonds to buy the jets from Boeing and then lease them to the Air Force, noting Enron Corp used such entities to move debt off its balance sheets.

"Some of us here are a little skeptical," McCain told Aldridge, asking if the Air Force had any experts on such entities. Aldridge said he did not believe so.


Sic 'em!

dystopia 1:21 PM - [Link]
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Following Up on Yesterday's Red Alert Post

According to this presidential directive posted on the White House website, a Red Alert, or Severe Condition:

...reflects a severe risk of terrorist attacks. Under most circumstances, the Protective Measures for a Severe Condition are not intended to be sustained for substantial periods of time. In addition to the Protective Measures in the previous Threat Conditions, Federal departments and agencies also should consider the following general measures in addition to the agency-specific Protective Measures that they will develop and implement:

Increasing or redirecting personnel to address critical emergency needs;

Assigning emergency response personnel and pre-positioning and mobilizing specially trained teams or resources;

Monitoring, redirecting, or constraining transportation systems; and

Closing public and government facilities.


Lovely. Also found this article in the Washington Post, discussing whether or not parents will be allowed to pick up their children from school in the case of a Red Alert:

...School administrators have met with public safety and public health officials and sent memos and e-mail to parents urging calm and explaining emergency plans. Most of the communications said children would be kept inside in the event of a chemical or biological threat, but the letters varied in the strength of their warning that parents should not try to pick up their children during a lockdown.

District school officials said that children would be kept inside in an emergency but that parents could come get them. "It's parents' prerogative to take care of their kids any way they want," Chief Operating Officer Louis J. Erste said.

In Fairfax, Loudoun and Howard counties, parents are being told not to try to collect their children at school if terrorists strike with chemical or biological weapons. In Montgomery and elsewhere, officials said the kind of emergency will determine what they advise parents to do.


We're guessing (hoping) that these extreme measures are only being put in place in the Washington and NYC areas, and other places that may have a higher probability of attack.

We found this Homeland Security Threat Level Comparison Matrix (PDF file) from a school system in Maryland, which indicates that a Red Alert means a WMD incident has already occurred. We have not seen this specific statement made by any official White House source -- still looking...

That's all we know about it, for now. Still bothered by this one point, from the original newspaper article that got us looking in this direction in the first place:

If the nation escalates to "red alert," which is the highest in the color-coded readiness against terror, you will be assumed by authorities to be the enemy if you so much as venture outside your home, the state's anti-terror czar says.

What does this mean? If you step outside, you'll be questioned? Arrested? Shot?

dystopia 12:08 PM - [Link]
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The War Has Begun

We pray for this war to be over as quickly and as cleanly as possible. We pray for the protection of the women and children who may be in harm's way. We pray that no DU or chemical weapons will be used by either side. We pray that all our troops will make it home safely. We pray for peace.

dystopia 11:28 AM - [Link]
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Wednesday, March 19, 2003

Well, Imagine That

Making insurance companies behave themselves lowered health care costs in California. Go figure.

Better yet, go read the report: How Insurance Reform Lowered Medical Malpractice Rates in California, and How Malpractice Caps Failed (PDF file).

dystopia 5:05 PM - [Link]
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Censorship Reaches Ridiculous Extremes:

Pity the poor kid who has to do a report on pussy willows:

Humpback whales, the asexual reproduction of mushrooms and House Majority Leader Dick Armey. These are dangerous topics that children, or adults for that matter, should not be learning about.

This statement sounds ridiculous, but that is effectively the message being sent by the Child Internet Protection Act (CIPA), which mandates filters being placed on internet-linked computers at public schools and libraries to protect children from indecent material...


And reports have already shown that abstinence-only education is creating a generation of ignorant youth. The ACLU notes that one California boy in a sex-ed class asked where his cervix was, while others maintained they could get pregnant from having oral sex. Teachers who deviate from the curriculum are in trouble -– for example a seventh-grade teacher in Belton, Missouri was disciplined for simply telling students that oral sex does not lead to pregnancy.

"The proper response under abstinence-only policy would have been that only complete abstinence can prevent pregnancy," said Stephanie Elizondo Griest, communications director of the FEPP.


This is so stupid. Don't we already have enough problems that arise out of simple ignorance?

dystopia 4:03 PM - [Link]
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His Folks Will Never Have to Worry About It

Just ours. Bush Pushes Plan to Curb Medicare Appeals:

The Bush administration says it is planning major changes in the Medicare program that would make it more difficult for beneficiaries to appeal the denial of benefits like home health care and skilled nursing home care.

In thousands of recent cases, federal judges have ruled that frail elderly people with severe illnesses were improperly denied coverage for such services.

In the last year, Medicare beneficiaries and the providers who treated them won more than half the cases — 39,796 of the 77,388 Medicare cases decided by administrative law judges. In the last five years, claimants prevailed in 186,300 cases, for a success rate of 53 percent.


The Good Book has this to say on the subject:

"Cursed is the one who perverts the justice due the stranger, the fatherless, and widow. And all the people shall say, 'Amen!'" -- Deut 27:19 (NKJV)

Amen!

dystopia 3:40 PM - [Link]
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What the...?

Hey, what's this supposed to mean? Is it martial law, for real, once the war (officially) starts? It's sure beginning to sound like it:

If the nation escalates to "red alert," which is the highest in the color-coded readiness against terror, you will be assumed by authorities to be the enemy if you so much as venture outside your home, the state's anti-terror czar says.

"This state is on top of it," said Sid Caspersen, New Jersey's director of the office of counter-terrorism.

Caspersen, a former FBI agent, was briefing reporters, alongside Gov. James E. McGreevey, on Thursday, when for the first time he disclosed the realities of how a red alert would shut the state down.

A red alert would also tear away virtually all personal freedoms to move about and associate.

"Red means all noncritical functions cease," Caspersen said. "Noncritical would be almost all businesses, except health-related."


The final paragraph was the cherry on top:

"You literally are staying home, is what happens, unless you are required to be out. No different than if you had a state of emergency with a snowstorm."

We beg to differ on that point; we believe it will be very different, indeed.

We at The Daily Dystopian feel the need to look into this further before completely flipping smooth out but, at the moment, our own red alert sirens are screaming like crazy.

dystopia 3:12 PM - [Link]
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Hey, You Know That Farmer in the Pond in DC?

There are some very interesting things he's been trying to tell us for some time now:

Tobacco farmer Dwight Watson's voice poured through the phone line like cream on a slice of sweet-potato pie. He was calling from North Carolina, where his family has grown tobacco for 150 years. He had read my column asking why, despite billion-dollar liability suits that slammed tobacco companies for their deadly and addictive product, cigarettes are still on the market.

"If people are going to point fingers at the tobacco companies and farmers, then you have to point fingers at the government, too," he said. "It's the government that won't let farmers plant low-nicotine tobacco."

I checked it out. He's right.

Seeds for low-nicotine tobacco were essentially banned by the USDA in 1963. To this day, in order to be eligible for full government price supports, farmers must certify each year that they are not growing any low-nicotine varieties.


An article in the Charlotte Observer further explains Mr. Watson's issues:

Farmers are growing the smallest crop ever this year and the inability of cigarette companies to agree on division of fees "is crushing our house," Renegar said.

Farmer Dwight Watson of Whitakers said his quota has been cut in half over the past five years, from about 120 acres to 55 acres. The business is regulated by the government, Watson said, and the government can turn the farmers' problems around.

"Why is the American tobacco farmer being put out of business when we grow the best tobacco in the world?" he asked.


The standoff has now ended peacefully, but we're afraid our farmer friend is really in for it now. We're thankful that he chose not to use a more destructive force than a tractor in his protest, and we wish him and his family the best of luck.

dystopia 2:30 PM - [Link]
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Wally World

You really need to read One Nation Under Wal-Mart, which contains these staggering stats:

• Wal-Mart's sales on one day last fall--$1.42 billion--were larger than the GDPs of 36 countries.

• It is the biggest employer in 21 states, with more people in uniform than the U.S. Army.

• It plans to grow this year by the equivalent of--take your pick--one Dow Chemical, one PepsiCo, one Microsoft, or one Lockheed Martin.

• If the estimated $2 billion it loses through theft each year were incorporated as a business, it would rank No. 694 on the FORTUNE 1,000.


Just a few of the many reasons we are no longer a nation full of independent men and women owning and operating our own businesses. Instead, we've become a nation of employees, completely dependent on the corporations for our daily bread. We're the new peasant class. Happy serfing!

dystopia 1:32 PM - [Link]
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We Vote for the Tic-Tacs

A wee bit of political humor -- if you're easily offended, you shouldn't be here in the first place.

And from our "People with Way Too Much Time on Their Hands" file: Star-Spangled Ice Cream

dystopia 1:14 PM - [Link]
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Now, Who Would Go and Do a Thing Like That?

'Scuse us, fellas, but didn't most of these folks used to be our friends? If this is how we treat them, it's little wonder they are no longer so friendly:

European Union officials have launched an investigation after bugging devices were found at offices used by several delegations - including those of France, Germany and the UK.

Extra security measures have been adopted ahead of a meeting of EU leaders in Brussels on Thursday and Friday.

Spanish, Italian and Austrian offices had also been bugged, officials said.


Hmmmmm...seems oddly reminiscent of this little caper that took place just a few weeks ago:

It's quite clear what they were going for was not only the voting patterns and the voting plans and the negotiations with other interested parties such as the French or the Chinese, it wasn't just the bare bones, it was also the office telephone communications and email communications and also what are described as 'domestic coms', which is the home telephones of people working within the UN.

This can only mean that they were looking for personal information. That is, information which could be used against those delegates. It's even clear from the memo that this was an aggressive operation. It wasn't simply a neutral surveillance operation.

Frank Koza, the man who wrote the memo, says this is an operation against those countries, which is why some of those countries are so angry about what's happened.


dystopia 1:00 PM - [Link]
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Eric Blumrich Nails It

New must-see flash movie -- 1100k, so be patient. It will take a minute to load.

One little quibble -- this child is not an Iraqi -- he was born to an American Gulf War veteran.

More American Gulf War babies:
A Stark Pattern of Defense Department Recklessness

More Iraqi Gulf War babies:
Depleted Uranium Ammunition and Birth Defects
A Chamber of Horrors So Close to the Garden of Eden

We at The Daily Dystopian fear more of the same in the wake of this coming war, on both sides.

dystopia 12:15 PM - [Link]
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11th Hour Stories

Posted by ordinary citizens, members of the military, and medical personnel who experienced war and its effects first-hand, or are about to:

You are raking the leaves in your yard and your wife and two children are there playing with a ball.

A soldier comes. Shoots your wife, then your children. Comes to you. You say, "Who are you and what do you want?"

He says, "I am a soldier in the American Army and I have been assigned to come here and kill you."

And you say, "Why?"

And the soldier says, "I'm not sure."

BANG!

What I know now that I didn't know then is that, in the real world, it is the ATTACKERS who CREATE the defenders.


dystopia 11:54 AM - [Link]
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Greg Palast Interview in AlterNet

Great read -- Palast cuts loose:

You have to understand that after Gulf War One, the Bush family cashed in like crazy, and Schwartzkopf said we didn't send half a million kids into the desert so the Bush family could cash in. And you hear how much he's been out front now, right? You'd think they would wheel out their big hero. That's where they're using the duct tape. They've got him wrapped up in a basement somewhere. He's not happy. He saw the Bush family cash in.

Let me give you an example. Who won Gulf War One? And that will tell you who is going to win Gulf War Two. Gulf War One, if you look in the book, Daddy Bush writes a letter for Chevron Oil, after he leaves the White House, to the Kuwaiti Emirate. We call them the royalty of Kuwait. That means that they're dictators with robes and crowns. So, he writes to the Kuwaiti dictatorship and asks them to give Chevron an oil concession. What the hell is a President of the United States doing, lobbying for a private oil company? These guys can't say no because he saved their Rolls Royces, right? Now, he says he never got any money from Chevron, and I have no reason to doubt it. He doesn't say that Chevron then kicks in half a million dollars into the Republican campaign for sonny boy. That's really poisonous because what's happening is that the seal of the President, the seal of the Oval Office, is for sale.

And Schwarzkopf was talking about that. He was also concerned that after Gulf War One, who do we see sneaking in the desert, wearing saddle shoes and salesman's bags? Marvin and Neal Bush, trying to sell pipeline operations to the Gulf states, representing Enron Corporation. You know, these people have no shame.


Stormin' Norman is indeed one unhappy camper:

But he sees the world differently from those Gulf War colleagues. "It's obviously not a black-and-white situation over there" in the Mideast, he says. "I would just think that whatever path we take, we have to take it with a bit of prudence."

So has he seen sufficient prudence in the actions of his old friends in the Bush administration? Again, he carefully withholds his endorsement. "I don't think I can give you an honest answer on that."


Our favorite Schwartzkopf quotable: "It doesn't take any courage to order men into battle."

dystopia 11:17 AM - [Link]
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Tuesday, March 18, 2003

Orwell Online

We had not read 1984 since junior high school, but we did catch the movie version on cable the other day. It was quite stunning. We decided it was time to read the book again, and found this handy online version.

dystopia 4:16 PM - [Link]
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The Fight Over Your Right to Privacy

A key provision of the Fair Credit Reporting Act, restricting states' abilities to pass privacy laws, is set to expire next year, and members of the corporate community are already fighting to keep it in place:

Some corporate privacy officers agree that allowing each state to determine its own privacy legislation would stifle parts of the economy, and cause chaos as businesses scuttle to comply with a patchwork of privacy laws.

But they also cringe at official corporate warnings that consumers should support open, unrestricted sharing of private information for their own good.

"My bank's twist on this is that if businesses can't access information about what consumers buy, crave and earn, the end result will be slews of truly useless junk mail and solicitations, as opposed to all the carefully targeted and truly useful junk mail and solicitations consumers receive now," said one Manhattan-based bank's privacy officer.

"Right, you can stop laughing now," he added.


That wasn't laughter, dear. We were snorting derisively.

dystopia 4:06 PM - [Link]
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Slavery in 21st Century America

There are some really shitty jobs in this country that nobody wants to do. Therefore, it usually winds up being the people with very few choices in life doing those jobs. Here, meet a few of them, and count your blessings:

"Taco Bell has a policy that it will not buy food from contractors that mistreat animals," said Lucas Benitez, a hunger striker and one of the leaders of the Coalition of Immokalee Workers, which is spearheading the campaign. "All we are asking is that they have the same policy for humans."

The tomato pickers came from Florida last week to Taco Bell's headquarters in Irvine, southern California, to persuade the company to buy tomatoes only from contractors who agree to pay a living wage to the pickers, some of whom make as little as $80 (51) for a seven-day week.


Related Links:

2000 Sheep and a Shovel Toilet
Tulsa: The American Dream Turned Nightmare
Ruthless Trade of the 'Body Brokers'
When Is a Labor Law Violation Not a Labor Law Violation?

dystopia 3:28 PM - [Link]
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Probing the Florida Pension Audit

We doubted anything would come of this, even after Janet Rehnquist resigned from HHS, but it appears there may (or may not) be something cooking after all, according to The Hill Newspaper:

A congressional aide said the Senate Finance Committee investigation is "about more than one person." Grassley chairs the panel and Baucus is the ranking member.

In a letter obtained by The Hill, the two senators tell Rehnquist there are many factors that contribute to the "appearance that politics, rather than the interests of the American taxpayer, controlled your decision to allow a lengthy delay of the audit."

This letter was sent before Rehnquist announced her resignation but the investigation will continue, a Grassley spokesperson said.


dystopia 2:59 PM - [Link]
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Good Guy Copps

We are huge fans of Commissioner Michael Copps of the FCC, who's been our sole beacon of hope as media deregulation efforts bear down on us like a Mack truck. So, we were delighted to find his efforts profiled in MediaWeek:

The game in question revolves around the nation's media ownership laws. Spurred by a deregulatory Congress and by skeptical courts, the FCC is simultaneously reviewing six key ownership regulations, some that date back to 1941. FCC chairman Michael Powell says he expects to complete the review by late spring. The resulting decision could sweep away constraints that keep the biggest TV networks from buying one another, that limit the national reach of station groups, and that seek to prevent one owner from controlling the broadcast voice in any given market.

The prospect has energized Copps, turning him into a leading critic of Powell's chairmanship and of the effects of media consolidation. By insisting on more publicity and more inquiry before the FCC acts, Copps has earned equal measures of admiration and exasperation. "A hero," says Jeffrey Chester, FCC gadfly and executive director of the Center for Digital Democracy. "Over the cliff," counters a lawyer with corporate clients who favor deregulation. "An able combatant," admits Powell.

Copps says he is doing nothing more than inviting as much comment as possible on the regulatory review, which is the most sweeping in FCC history. Others give him more credit, saying he has helped slow a deregulatory tide that many expected after Powell moved into the chairmanship two years ago.


dystopia 2:28 PM - [Link]
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Getting Caught in the Revolving Door

More conflict of interest problems: Dorothy Attwood, former chief of the FCC's Wireline Competition Bureau, resigned from the FCC on Sept 15, 2002 and reported to work only six weeks later as a senior vice president for federal regulatory strategy for SBC Communications:

There is no indication that Attwood violated any laws by representing SBC’s position before her old bosses, but Consumers Union's Kimmelman said if that's the case, the law should be changed. "If there is some loophole that allows this, it is the height of lunacy for ethics personnel and the leaders of these agencies to allow this to be happening," he said.

Attwood is one of several dozen FCC workers who have either gone from government to industry, or vice versa, over the past several years.

"Usually people are a little bit more subtle about this," Kimmelman said. "But to actually set foot in the place that soon after you leave a top policy role, it's just stunning. She's just symptomatic of the whole captured-agency problem."


dystopia 2:07 PM - [Link]
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Editorial Policy of The Daily Dystopian

On the eve of war with Iraq, we wish to make clear that our policy is, and will always be, to support our troops. Our young men and women have no choice in this matter, yet we are asking them to risk not only the possibility of death in warfare but also the possibility of wrecked lives if they do manage to survive the war (GWS Redux). We will keep them in our prayers.

That being said, we will continue harassing the brass. Being students of American history and knowing what we do of the lies and machinations of one presidential administration after another over the past forty years, we are unable to muster much faith in the motives of the military-industrial complex.

dystopia 1:35 PM - [Link]
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Why Do We Let the Inmates Run the Asylum?

Stupid! Stupid! Stupid! We not only let Congress vote their own pay raises, we also let them decide whether or not they should follow any ethics rules:

When House Republicans adopted new rules for the 108th Congress by a party line vote earlier this year, they voted to soften the gift ban they first imposed in 1995. Perhaps the most significant change allowed charities to pay for lawmakers' travel and lodging expenses if they attend a charity event or fundraisers.

Critics say the change created a loophole allowing corporations to anonymously underwrite charity events at such sites as golf courses or ocean-side resorts at no charge to lawmakers. Hefley said House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Texas) personally pushed that rule change.

Another change substantially increased the cost of catered meals lobbying firms may send to House offices. Hefley said he had heard the push for that move came from the office of Speaker J. Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.)


And leaving these decisions in those hands makes sense in what universe? 'Scuse us, but aren't these people our employees? You ever have a boss as gullible as we are?

BTW, we're putting Rep. Joel Hefley (R-Colo) on our Good Guys list. We like ethics gurus.

dystopia 1:09 PM - [Link]
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John Brady Kiesling with Bill Moyers

The American diplomat who recently resigned from his dream job explains his reasons (scroll down).

I was asked to make arguments, for example, on the tactical issue...and in fact, this is a very legitimate argument. We have said over and over again the only way we can prevent a war is if we persuade Saddam Hussein that we will go to war unless he disarms. That's a perfectly valid argument, we made it.

That argument however, is only valid if there is in fact a genuine possibility that we will not go to war if he complies. And what I realized as I watched the rhetoric coming out of Washington, as I watched our own message, was that we were going to go to war regardless. This was not a tactical issue.

We had I think misled the US Congress into writing a blank check for the administration, we had misled I think our allies. And I did not feel comfortable with that. Once I realized the war was going to happen regardless of what Saddam did.


If you haven't read Kiesling's resignation letter yet, you should. It's powerful. And very, very sad.

dystopia 12:37 PM - [Link]
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The Powerful Odor of Mendacity

Doug Ireland has been reading our minds! He deftly and succinctly lays out the case against the case for war.

The issue for us is, and always has been, credibility:

When Bush proclaimed that "The Iraq regime continues to possess and conceal some of the most lethal weapons ever devised," that was a lie. What are the "most lethal weapons ever devised?" Why, nuclear weapons, of course. That Iraq possesses nukes, or is even close to making them, is something for which Bush has been unable to provide any evidence that would withstand scrutiny. The United Nations inspectors have found none. And that which the administration has produced turned out to be fraudulent -- like the centerpiece documents about Nigerian uranium shipments to Iraq, which were cheap forgeries.

Simply incredible.

dystopia 12:02 PM - [Link]
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There Are Some Sick Bastards in This Country

We are deeply saddened by the death of a young woman, Rachel Corrie, who was crushed into the dirt by a bulldozer because she lived according to her conscience. We know you know her story, because of all the hundreds of people who died in a similar manner in Palestine over the past few years, she thus far has been the only American.

Steve Niva has written a very moving essay about the situation over there.

We were directed this morning to a posting forum in which several Americans expressed joy and delight over the death of Ms. Corrie. We were advised that similar posts existed on other message boards as well but, being sufficiently convinced of man's cold and inhuman cruelty towards his fellow man, we had not the heart to look further.

dystopia 11:33 AM - [Link]
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Monday, March 17, 2003

High Levels of PBDEs Found in American Women

Two studies published on March 10 found that American women and their babies have much higher levels of potentially harmful flame retardants in their bodies than European and Japanese women.

Polybrominated diphenyl esters (PBDEs)are commonly used in plastics and electronics to prevent fires, and are similar in structure to PCBs and dioxins. Some scientists believe further study will show PBDEs to have similar toxic effects. PBDEs are already banned in Sweden.

Clip from an article in the Hoosier Times:

The findings bring to mind the discovery 30 to 40 years ago of the pesticide DDT and the industrial chemicals PCBs in the tissues of birds, fish and humans. Environmental levels of those chemicals have dropped significantly since their uses were restricted, Hites said. But levels of PBDEs, which are still in use, are increasing exponentially, he said.

Hites said the findings are troubling, but it's not clear how troubled people should be. Lab studies have shown PBDEs to cause health problems in rats, but relatively little is known about their effects on humans.


More links:

Mothers and Their Babies Have High Levels of Flame Retardant in Their Blood
Dangerous Chemical Found in Women
Our Stolen Future

dystopia 6:08 PM - [Link]
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Oh, This Can't Be Good

State colleges face calls for radical reform due to budget crunches. Why, oh, why do the words "privatization" and "deregulation" always have to come up whenever there's a budget crunch? And how often in history has either word meant anything good for the consumer? (Hint: never)

Just for the record, a state college education in the Midwest cost $18 per credit hour in 1982. What is it these days? We're too scared to look.

dystopia 5:48 PM - [Link]
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Who Will Fight This War?

Great article in the Christian Science Monitor on the current demographics of our fighting forces. Some good news, some bad news.

Interesting to see the changes that have taken place just since the Gulf War. We remember very well the public debate in 1991 over putting women too near the front lines, and find it fascinating that no such debate seems to be taking place now, even though a larger number of women will be working much closer to the front this time.

dystopia 4:51 PM - [Link]
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Operation Dire Distress

Veterans Against the Iraq War will be demonstrating in Washington, DC, all next weekend. Activities planned include a teach-in and speak-out on Saturday, March 22; a march and rally on Sunday the 23rd; and opportunities for vets to meet with congressmen on Monday the 24th.

Another VAIQ demonstration is planned for Saturday, March 22 in San Francisco.

All military veterans, active-duty GI's, reservists, and family members are encouraged to attend. Veterans should wear their medals, ribbons, parts of their uniforms, etc., and all participants need to bring American flags, banners, and protest signs.

Visit the surf-worthy VAIQ website for more info.

dystopia 4:02 PM - [Link]
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Where Have All the Cowboys Gone?

An epidemic of pseudo-patriotism is sweeping the nation, ravaging little minds everywhere with twisted notions of what's right and what's wrong. The hardest-hit demographic appears to be those among the population who have a tendency to worship "heroes" whose brave exploits existed only on film. In order to inoculate against this deadly disease, we offer this injection of good sense from a true American hero and war veteran.

Gene Autry's Cowboy Code

1. The Cowboy must never shoot first, hit a smaller man, or take unfair advantage.

2. He must never go back on his word, or a trust confided in him.

3. He must always tell the truth.

4. He must be gentle with children, the elderly, and animals.

5. He must not advocate or possess racially or religiously intolerant ideas.

6. He must help people in distress.

7. He must be a good worker.

8. He must keep himself clean in thought, speech, action, and personal habits.

9. He must respect women, parents, and his nation's laws.

10. The Cowboy is a patriot.

God bless you, Mr. Autry!


dystopia 3:02 PM - [Link]
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Today in Dystopian History:

1960: Eisenhower ordered the organization of an anti-Castro exile army under the direction of the CIA (the start of the Bay of Pigs invasion plan)

1968: In London, at the largest Vietnam antiwar march in Britain to date, 25,000 people attempted to storm the American Embassy at Grosvenor Square.

1970: General Peer’s investigation of the My Lai massacre is completed and 14 officers are charged with suppression of facts in the My Lai massacre case, despite efforts by a young officer named Colin Powell to sweep the matter under the rug.

1983: Vice President Bush’s national security aide, Donald Gregg, meets with former CIA assassinations manager Felix Rodriquez in the White House. Gregg later recommends staging attacks on Nicaragua from bases in El Salvador.

1995: A month before the Oklahoma City federal building bombing, right-wing Republican Congresswoman and adulteress Helen Chenoweth held a town meeting in Boise, Idaho on the topic "Excessive Force Used by Federal Law Enforcement," to which she invited numerous members of right-wing militias. This followed Newt Gingrich sending out a congressional task force to visit those who were the "victims" of federal oppression, and Bob Dole and Bob Barr promising to repeal the assault rifle ban so that Americans could defend themselves from the federal officials Tom DeLay referred to as "jack-booted thugs."

Major media coverage of the Republican assault on federal workers as a threat to the residents of right-wing Talk Radio Nation in the years leading up to the Oklahoma City bombing has, as you would expect, been non-existent.


dystopia 1:30 PM - [Link]
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Listen While You Surf:

C-Span

CapitolHearings.org

i.e. America Radio

Political Strikes

Progressive Radio

Radio Left

Randi Rhodes Show


Newspapers and News Sites:

ABC News

AllAfrica.com

Army Times

Asia Times

AZCentral.com

BBC NEWS

Boston Globe

Capitol Hill Blue

CBS News

Charlotte Observer

Christian Science Monitor

Common Dreams Newswire

Denver Post

Economic Times

Economist

Financial Times

Globe & Mail

Guardian

Houston Chronicle

Indian Country Today

International Herald-Tribune

Journalism.org

Los Angeles Times

Mondo Times

Nature News Service

NY Times

New Zealand Herald

Newsday

NewsDirectory

News Insider

Pacific News Service

Philadelphia Inquirer

Reuters

St Petersburg Times

San Francisco Chronicle

Science Daily

Seattle Times

Sydney Morning Herald

Tampa Bay Online

The Hill

The Scotsman

Times of India

Toronto Star

Washington Post

Wired News


Blogs I Like:

A Rational Animal

Apostropher

ArchPundit

Bad Attitudes Journal

Beatnik Salad

Blatant Truth

Blogorrhea

Catalyst

Charging the Canvas

Democratic Veteran

Doublethink

Earth-Info

Flagrancy to Reason

Gorilla-a-gogo

Heli's Heaven and Hell Radio

Hellblazer

Iddybud

Ideal Rhombus

John P Hoke's Asylum

Juan Cole

Mad Prophet

Mahablog

MaxSpeak

MouseMusings

Nurse Ratched's Notebook

Occasional Subversion

Oligopoly Watch

Pedantry

Plep

PoliticalTheory.info

Project for a New Century of Freedom

Prometheus 6

Sideshow

Sick of Bush

Skippy the Bush Kangaroo

Suburban Guerrilla

Surfing the Tsunami

Talent Show

Thoughts on the Eve of the Apocalypse

Wampum

Wrong Side of Happiness


Magazines:

AlterNet.org

American Prospect

Atlantic Monthly

Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists

Business Ethics

Columbia Journalism Review

Common-Place

Dawn

Dissent

Dollars and Sense

Earth Island Journal

Ecologist

Editor & Publisher

Foreign Policy

Fortune

Fortune Small Business

Government Executive

Grist

In These Times

Intervention

Killing the Buddha

Mother Jones

National Parks Magazine

Nature

New Republic

New Yorker

News Insight

Newsweek

Orion

Philosophers Magazine

Progressive Magazine

Progressive Populist

Reason

Red Pepper

Relevant

Scientific American

Slate

Sojourners

Spectator

Texas Observer

The Nation

TomPaine.com

TruthOut

Vested Owl

Village Voice

Washington Monthly


Look It Up:

American Religion Data Archive

AmeriStat

Atlas of US Presidential Elections

Babelfish Web Translator

Big Search Engine Index

CancerIndex.org

Corporate Welfare Search Engine

Country Statistics at a Glance

Customizable Mortality Maps

CyberCemetery: Federal Depository Library

Daypop Current Events

Ditto.com Image Search

Dogpile Search Engine

FindArticles.com

FindLaw

Geography of Race in the US

GeoHive Global Statistics

Internet Archive

Invisible Web

Invisible Web Revealed

Journalist's Toolbox

Librarians' Index to the Internet

Library of Congress

LibrarySpot.com

McFind Meta Search

Miniature Earth

National Priorities Project Database

Newspaper Archive

NewsTrove.com

Nuclear Waste Route Atlas

Ownership Statistics

PoliSci.com

Political Information Search Engine

Political Resources on the Net

Prof Pollkatz Poll Graphics

Power Reporting Research Tools

Public Records Online

RefDesk

Researching People on the Internet

Resources for Compiling a Legislative History

Rulers.org

Search Systems

Statistical Resources

Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse

Uniform Commercial Code

US PIRG Pollution Locator

VOA Pronunciation Guide

What Are the Odds of Dying?

Where To Do Research

Who Owns What?

Working Reporter

World Atlas of Maps, Flags and Geography Facts


Professional Opinions:

Al Kamen

Arianna Huffington

Boston Globe Editorials

Chris Brauchli

David Hackworth

Derrick Z Jackson

EJ Dionne, Jr

Geov Parrish

Guardian Unlimited Columnists

Harold Meyerson

Houston Chronicle Editorials

Jimmy Breslin

Joe Conason

John Nichols

Jules Witcover

Katha Pollitt

Los Angeles Times Editorials

Marie Cocco

Miami Herald Opinions

Mike Hersh

Molly Ivins

New York Times Opinions

Nicholas D Kristof

Paul Krugman

Robert W Jensen

SF Gate Opinions

Sydney Morning Herald Opinions

Thom Hartmann

USAToday.com Editorials

Walter Shapiro

William Greider


Public Opinion:

Bartcop Forum

BBC Great Debate

Bill Maher Forums

Brunching Shuttlecocks

Capitol Grilling

Capitol Hill Blue Reader Rant

ChickLit Forums

Christian Forums

Civilization Fanatics

Cynic's Message Board

Democratic Underground

Fabulous Forums of Fathom

FaithForum.org

Guardian Talk

Internet Infidels

Language of Propaganda

MilitaryCity.com

News Bulletin Board

Political Corrections

Poynter Online

PRWatch Forums

Ship of Fools

SpywareInfo Support

Straight Dope

TVSpy WaterCooler

Urban Legends Forum

Veterans Benefit Network

VoteWatch Forum

Walk Away from Fundamentalism


TV Worth Watching:

Biography.com

C-SPAN

Daily Show

Discovery Times Channel

Frontline

History Channel

Now with Bill Moyers

Sundance Channel's Documentary Mondays

Washington Journal

Washington Week


Trivial Pursuits:

Biblical Curse Generator

Boondocks

BushFlash Animation Features

Capitol Steps

Dana Lyons

Doonesbury

Elizabethan Curse Generator

Fling the Cow

Future Feed Forward

Is It Over Yet?

JibJab

Mark Fiore's Animated Political Cartoons

MiniPutt

News-at-Ten

Puppet Man

Ready.gov

Rumsfeld Invaders

SadWeek

Sheep Game

Snowball Fight

Spaced Penguin

The Onion

Unofficial Official Simulator

WhiteHouse.org

ZEFrank.com

Zug


Books Worth Reading (linked to reviews):

The Handmaid's Tale, by Margaret Atwood (1986)

How the Good Guys Finally Won: Notes from an Impeachment Summer, by Jimmy Breslin (1975)

Barbarians at the Gate: The Fall of RJR Nabisco, by Bryan Burrough and John Helyar (1990)

Big Blues: The Unmaking of IBM, by Paul Carroll (1993)

Silent Spring, by Rachel Carson (1962)

The Road Ahead, by Bill Gates with Nathan Myhrvold and Peter Rinearson (1996)

Charismatic Chaos, by John F MacArthur, Jr (1992)

The American Way of Birth, by Jessica Mitford (1992)

Ethel: A Fictional Autobiography, by Tema Nason (1990)

Arrogant Capital: Washington, Wall Street, and the Frustration of American Politics, by Kevin Phillips (1994)

Flying High: The Story of Boeing and the Rise of the Jetliner Industry, by Eugene Rodgers (1996)

Clearing the Air, by Daniel Schorr (1977)

Trammell Crow, Master Builder: The Story of America's Largest Real Estate Empire, by Robert Sobel (1989)

The Triumph of Politics: Why the Reagan Revolution Failed, by David Stockman (1986)

Oil Man: The Story of Frank Phillips and the Birth of Phillips Petroleum, by Michael Wallis (1995)

Marathon: The Pursuit of the Presidency 1972-1976, by Jules Witcover (1977)

Belly Up: The Collapse of the Penn Square Bank, by Philip L Zweig (1985)