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Surf-Worthy Sites:

Administration and Cost of Elections

Alaska Wilderness League

American Antitrust Institute

American Association of Retired Persons

American Federation of Government Employees

American Friends Service Committee

American Institute of Philanthropy

American Lands Alliance

American Library Asociation

American Peace

American Rivers

Americans for Computer Privacy

Americans for Democratic Action

Americans United for Separation of Church and State

Amnesty International

Anthrax Vaccine Network

Arms Control Association

Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now

Atomic Veterans of America


Behind the Label

Black Box Voting

Bread for the World

Brennan Center for Justice


Business and Human Rights Resource Center

Campaign Against Arms Trade

Campaign Against Depleted Uranium

Campaign Finance Institute

Campaign for America's Future

Campaign for Safe and Affordable Drinking Water

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

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

Clary-Meuser Research Network

Clean Clothes Campaign

Coalition for a Competitive Pharmaceutical Market

Coalition to Stop the Use of Child Soldiers

Commercial Alert

Common Cause

Common Dreams

Commonweal Institute

Community Rights Council

Concord Coalition


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

Corporate Welfare Information Center

Corporate Welfare Shame Page


Corps of Engineers Watch

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


Depleted Uranium Education Project

Depleted Uranium Watch

DES Action


Disabled American Veterans

Discernment Ministry International



Earth Institute


EarthRights International

Economic Policy Institute

Electronic Frontier Foundation

Electronic Privacy Information Center

Electronic Voting

Endgame Research

Energy Future Coalition

Environmental Investigation Agency

Environmental Working Group

Facts About Olestra

Fair Taxes for All

Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting


Families of
September 11

Families USA: Voice for Health Care Consumers

Family Farm Alliance

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


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

iAbolish: Anti-Slavery Web Portal


Independent Judiciary

Indian Trust: Cobell v. Norton

Infact: Challenging Corporate Abuse

Initiative & Referendum Institute

Instant Runoff Voting

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

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


Measles Initiative

Mines Advisory Group


Mothers for Peace

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


Natural Resources Defense Council

Neturei Karta

New Rules Project


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 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

Program on Corporations, Law and Democracy

Project Against the Present Danger

Project on Government Oversight

Project Underground

Project Vote Smart

Protection Project


Public Citizen

Public Employees for Environmental Responsibity

Rainforest Action Network


Reaching Critical Will

Reclaim Democracy

Reclaim the Media


Resource Center of the Americas

Responsible Wealth

Rethinking Schools

Right-To-Know Network

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


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


Stop Carnivore

Stop Disney Sweatshops

Stop Patient Abuse Now Coalition


Sweetwater Alliance

Swords to Plowshares

Talion: Voting Machines

Tax Foundation

Taxpayers for Common Sense

Ten Thousand Villages

Third World Traveler

Tort Reform Reader


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

Veterans for Common Sense

Vital Voices Global Partnership

VoteWatch: Repository for Voter Complaints

Water Aid

Water Barons Government Accountability Project

Wilderness Society

WISE Uranium Project

Womens International League for Peace & Freedom

World Resources Institute

WorldWatch Institute

Worldwide Fund for Mothers Injured in Childbirth


Yucca Mountain Facts

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Saturday, May 10, 2003

Total Lunar Eclipse This Week

Just learned from Hesiod that there'll be a lunar eclipse on May 15-16. Check here to find out the best viewing time in your area, and mark your calendar.

dystopia 3:57 PM - [Link]

Gaza Visitors Must Sign Waiver in Case Army Shoots Them

According to the Guardian:

The Israeli military yesterday began obliging foreigners entering the Gaza Strip to sign waivers absolving the army from responsibility if it shoots them. Visitors must also declare that they are not peace activists...

The waiver to enter Gaza requires foreigners, including United Nations relief workers, to acknowledge that they are entering a danger zone and will not hold the Israeli army responsible if they are shot or injured. The army document also warns visitors they are forbidden from approaching the security fences next to Jewish settlements or entering "military zones" in Rafah refugee camp close to the Egyptian border where Miller was shot dead on Saturday.

Is being a peace activist becoming a capital offense?

dystopia 3:11 PM - [Link]

No Time to Get Squeamish

It sounds like things are beginning to get downright surreal at the National Institutes of Health. Read Nicholas Kristof's column about it in the NY Times:

Most AIDS scientists are terrified these days. They describe witch hunts by neo-Puritans in and out of the Bush administration, and many are so nervous that in e-mail and research abstracts they avoid using words like "gays," "homosexuals," "anal sex" or "sex workers."

So scientists at the National Institutes of Health and elsewhere are devising their own secret code. I won't give it away, but one term stands for "gay" or "homosexual," another for "anal sex" and so on.

"I would recommend avoiding all electronic communication to any NIH office," one scientist warned in one of many e-mail notes buzzing among AIDS researchers. "Phone communication does not appear tapped at this time. Even so, I am advising staff to speak `in code' unless an NIH staff member indicates you can speak freely. In short, assume you are living in Stalinist Russia when communicating with the United States government."

dystopia 3:05 PM - [Link]

Parents Shopping for Discipline Abroad

And getting a lot more than they bargained for. The NY Times reports:

Ryan Fraidenburgh was 14 when he was brought here shackled, kicking and screaming. Two men carrying handcuffs and leg irons came for him at his mother's home in Sacramento, Calif., shoved him into a van and bound him hand and foot. They drove him 12 hours south, over the Mexican border, into a high-walled compound near here called Casa by the Sea.

"It was nighttime," Ryan recalled. "I look around and I see kids sleeping on cement. I was really, really scared. The big honcho, Mauricio, said, `You don't speak English here.' I didn't know how to speak Spanish." Ryan quickly learned the rules: stay silent, be compliant, don't look up, don't look out the window, don't speak unless spoken to. The punishments for breaking the rules included solitary confinement, lying on the floor in a small room, nose to the ground, often for days on end.

Ryan was not a criminal. He was only skipping school, his parents said in telephone interviews. But in August 2000, they said, in the middle of a bitter divorce and custody battle, they decided to send him away to Casa by the Sea, which calls itself a "specialty boarding school" for behavior modification...

The idea of sending a child to such a program in Mexico was unheard of a decade ago. But in the United States, behavior-modification programs and boarding schools for troubled youths have faced increasing legal and licensing challenges over the past few years. More and more are moving abroad — some to Mexico, Central America or the Caribbean — where they operate largely under the regulation radar and where some employ minimum-wage custodians more than teachers or therapists, say government officials, education consultants and clinical psychologists.

dystopia 2:55 PM - [Link]

Practice vs. Privacy on Pelvic Exams

A rude shock, delivered via the Washington Post:

When Zahara Heckscher went to George Washington University Hospital last month to have an ovarian cyst removed, she asked her surgeon if medical students would be practicing pelvic exams on her while she was unconscious. She was shocked that the answer was yes.

Medical students, interns and residents at teaching hospitals across the nation routinely learn how to perform such examinations by practicing on patients under anesthesia, medical educators say, and GWU Hospital officials say their program is no exception...

"We don't see a pelvic exam as having any sexual content at all, but that's not how other people perceive it," Ubel said. "There's no way a physician would ever equate a pelvic exam with rape -- there is no rape content to it. But the fact that someone else perceives it that way makes it important."

One would think so. And it's not just women being violated:

Pelvic exams by students are done almost exclusively on obstetrics and gynecology department patients. Similarly, rectal examinations by students are sometimes done on patients undergoing prostate surgery.

dystopia 2:22 PM - [Link]

What the War Was Like

A heart-breaking soldier's story in the NY Times:

Supply troops and even headquarters staff, who were not designated for combat, sometimes found themselves in the thick of the action. Hauling ammunition for the tanks was sometimes more dangerous than fighting in them. That certainly was the case when Private Prewitt was shot on a stretch of highway and Staff Sgt. Jimmy Ealon Harrison, an Army medic, rushed to his aid...

As the fire intensified, the drivers were ordered to abandon their vehicles and to take cover inside the compound. As soon as Private Prewitt got out of his truck, he was hit by a tracer round, which bored a large hole in his right thigh. He tried to keep moving, dragging himself backward from his HEMMT using the palms of his hands. The tracer rounds that hit him also struck the ammunition on his vehicle, igniting a fire and eventually an explosion. He was in the middle of a shooting gallery, severely injured and alone...

"I see him," Sergeant Harrison said. "I see him crawling back. I see him there by himself. I see him looking up at me for relief. I see him all the time. I did not know that much about him. I never lost anybody until then."

dystopia 2:08 PM - [Link]

Stop the FCC!

Time is running out. If you plan to make some noise about media consolidation, please do it now! Call, write, and e-mail your elected representatives and officials at the FCC.

The toll-free number for the congressional switchboard is 1-800-839-5276.

If you don't know why you should care, go here and here.

dystopia 1:43 PM - [Link]

Senate Panel Votes to Lift Ban on Low-Yield Nukes

Among other things. The San Francisco Chronicle reports:

"This is a major shift in American policy," said Sen. Carl Levin of Michigan, the panel's top Democrat. "It just sort of makes a mockery of our argument around the world that other countries -- India, Pakistan -- should not test and North Korea and Iran should not obtain..."

The committee's bill also would ease environmental restrictions that the Pentagon says limits its training, would authorize $9.1 billion for missile defense, and would increase military pay by an average 4.15 percent. It now goes to the full Senate...

The low-yield issue was one of two nuclear issues that divided Democrats and Republicans. On a party line vote, Republicans rejected a Levin amendment that would have required the Bush administration to get congressional approval before developing a nuclear earth penetrator.

The bill also requires the Pentagon to develop ethics standards for members of the advisory Defense Policy Board and Defense Science Board -- a direct result of Perle's investment seminar on ways to profit from conflicts in Iraq and North Korea.

dystopia 1:19 PM - [Link]

Judge Lays Down the Law in Everglades Dispute

The Gainesville Sun reports that a federal judge ordered the appointment of a special master (huh?) to ensure compliance in the Everglades cleanup dispute, and sent a warning to Gov Jeb Bush about a Florida state bill:

Environmentalists have said the bill moves back by 13 years the deadline for when the system must be considered clean. They have called into question the state's commitment to the environmental project.

US District Judge William M Hoeveler wrote that if Bush signs the bill, which the judge called "clearly defective," the new legislation "will have no effect..."

"I'm overwhelmed by the judge's clarity of vision," Lehtinen said. "The judge is holding their feet to the fire and it's really critical because they've been inclined to not be real tough on this."

dystopia 1:08 PM - [Link]

Alice Gaylord is 409 Today

She was my 9th great-grandmother, born on this day in 1594 near Pitminster, Somerset in England. Or it may be her baptismal date -- I'm not sure which. She came to America with her husband and they settled in Watertown, MA, sometime after 1637. By June 1643, they had moved on to Wethersfield, CT, where Alice died in 1670.

Alice was the mother of at least ten children and, through her, my (very) distant cousins include Humphrey Bogart, Nelson Rockefeller, Hart Crane and (ahem) Frank Gifford.

dystopia 12:34 PM - [Link]

Some Unexpected Visitors

Look who stopped by to see me!

dystopia 12:06 PM - [Link]

Tornado Alley, Day 2

Hit my side of the metro area this time, but missed me! Didn't even lose electricity. Got some quarter-sized hail. Spent about 15 minutes hanging out in the closet with DH and with Kitty, who most definitely did not want to hang out in the closet.

This is why I'd rather live in tornado territory than have to deal with earthquakes or hurricanes. A tornado's path is like a laser beam, and either you're in it's way or you're not. The major damage is not so generalized, usually confined to relatively small areas.

An odd thing I've noticed about living in Tornado Alley -- houses are not generally built with basements here. They used to be, up until the post-WWII housing boom, but most houses from then on were built on crawlspaces, and later on concrete slabs. Faster and cheaper, I suppose. If you want an underground hidey-hole around here, you pretty much have to work it out for yourself.

dystopia 11:38 AM - [Link]

Today in Dystopian History: May 10

1837: The failure of cash-strapped banks in New York unleashed the Panic of 1837, one of the most devastating economic crises in the nation's history.

1872: Victoria Woodhull became the first woman nominated for the US presidency, by the National Equal Rights party.

1933: The Nazis staged massive public book burnings in Germany. During the bibliocaust, Joseph Goebbels declared: "We have directed our dealings against the un-German spirit; consign everything un-German to the fire."

1980: A federal judge in Salt Lake City found the US government negligent in its above-ground testing of nuclear weapons in Nevada from 1951 to 1962.

1984: The International Court of Justice ruled that the US blockade of Nicaragua violated international law, and ordered the US to stop the mining of Nicaraguan harbors. Reagan ignored the decision.

1994: Former President George HW Bush's office released his letter of resignation from the NRA, in which Bush expressed outrage over its reference to federal agents as "jackbooted government thugs."

1994: About 300 active-duty Marines stationed at Twenty-Nine Palms were surveyed. Given a hypothetical situation, more than 1/4 indicated their willingness to "fire upon US citizens who refuse or resist confiscation of firearms banned by the US government." On a positive note, almost 2/3 recognized that the order would be patently unconstitutional.

1998: The NY Times reported that Ken Starr crony Hickman Ewing told fellow attorneys that "the problem" with the Starr investigation of the President was that "Ken wants to indict everyone for everything."

1999: China broke off talks on human rights with the US in response to NATO's accidental bombing of the Chinese Embassy in Yugoslavia.

2001: David Brock told the Washington Post that much of what Solicitor General designee Theodore Olson told the Judiciary Committee about his lack of involvement in the Arkansas Project to discredit the Clintons was untrue; Olson was much more involved than he testified and once suggested publishing a story he believed to be untrue just to "shake the scandals out" of the administration.

dystopia 11:08 AM - [Link]

Friday, May 09, 2003

Bangladesh Textile Firms Left in the Lurch

A thought-provoking piece in the Seattle Times. Bangladesh did an amazing job of cracking down on child labor, but it's been downhill for them ever since: the urging of the United States, the apparel industry has all but wiped out child labor. What's more, garment makers have sent nearly 10,000 children who once toiled in their factories to school, a considerable accomplishment in a country in which 35 percent don't make it past primary grades. But to many people here, the program doesn't feel like much of a success.

Although the garment industry satisfied US demands for reform, the United States is buying fewer clothes from Bangladesh, which depends on apparel exports for three-fourths of its vital foreign-exchange dollars. What's more, the Bush administration this year added the predominantly Muslim country to its list of 34 nations whose citizens must navigate a rigorous visa-application process in a program aimed at combating terrorism. That makes it difficult for businesspeople to visit customers and attend trade shows in the United States, the second-biggest buyer of Bangladeshi apparel after the European Union...

But the United States never made any quid pro quo promises to Bangladesh, the spokesman said, adding that granting beneficial trade status is a "matter for Congress."

It's a tremendous thing that Bangladesh has accomplished -- it's what we want all countries to do -- and so, while we may not owe them anything, I feel like we ought to give them some encouragement, some kind of positive reinforcement, both for diplomatic reasons and because it's the human thing to do.

I don't know how much of a threat the Bangladeshi textile industry is to American jobs, but in that area I'd rather crack down on American companies exporting jobs instead of picking on foreign ones just trying to stay alive. And I'd much rather spend our foreign aid budget in support of a country trying to do good things instead of using it to support friendly dictators, arms sales, and all that. But what, and how much, should we do for Bangladesh?

dystopia 4:44 PM - [Link]

States Reaching For Corporate Profits

States are finally waking up to the fact that corporations don't have to go offshore to dodge taxes, and failure to address this problem sooner has cost billions. reports:

New Jersey, in a move closely watched by other states, changed its tax laws in 2002 to keep businesses from shifting profits to affiliates in low tax states. The change has proven lucrative, bringing in $1.88 billion through April of this year, which is roughly 50 percent more than the state collected through the same period last year...

One of the main ways businesses avoid state income taxes is by establishing affiliates in Delaware called passive holding companies, which are untaxed by the state. A passive holding company limits its activities to the management of intangible assets, such as dividend income, interest on notes, capital gains, trademark payments, rents and royalties...

Analysts say some of the downward trend in corporate income tax collections stems in part from tax credits states offer businesses to lure them from other states. But a larger reason, they say, is the increasing sophistication of businesses' tax-avoidance schemes. States are just now in the beginning stages of trying to figure out the extent of those schemes and how much revenue they are losing through them.

dystopia 3:31 PM - [Link]

Taxing Issues

Something that's been on my mind a lot lately -- the amount of my income tax that goes to the federal government vs. the amount that stays here in my state.

Not even counting SS and Medicare withholding, more than 2/3 of my total tax bite goes to the federal government. Less than a third goes to state and local government. Why? Shouldn't it be the other way around?

I'm gonna have to look into this some more.

I just read this article in the St Petersburg Times, which got on my nerves and prompted this post.

dystopia 1:25 PM - [Link]

Where Do Your Roses Come From?

Meant to post this article from the San Francisco Chronicle earlier in the week. It was written for Valentine's Day, but the same circumstances apply for Mother's Day:

Roses are typically fumigated with chemicals to kill insects and mildew and dunked in preservatives to keep them from rotting before shipment. According to a recent test of Ecuadoran roses bought at a San Francisco supermarket, the flowers contained traces of Aldicarb, a highly toxic insecticide that is banned in 13 nations.

"First, there are skin rashes and a whole range of allergies and respiratory problems," said Dr. Toribio Valladares, who has spent 15 years treating victims of pesticide poisoning in Cayambe, one of the nation's two rose centers. "Many of these diseases have become chronic and untreatable with antibiotics."

Valladares, who is the town's former mayor, says pesticide poisoning has also caused children to be born mentally retarded or with deformed limbs. "We see children who have definite problems to their central nervous systems," he said.

More info:

Unromantic Side of Red Roses from Ecuador
Behind Roses' Beauty, Poor and Ill Workers

Do what I do -- grow your own!

dystopia 12:39 PM - [Link]

Tornado Alley

Bad one hit the south side yesterday -- I didn't even know it was happening and I was outdoors at the time! I really ought to pay more attention.

This tornado followed pretty much the same path as the one in 1999. Saw people on TV last night who just got hit for the second or third time. Over a hundred injured but, thankfully, I don't think anyone was killed.

I was outside enjoying my garden yesterday, and it was so pretty I had to take some pictures:

Coreopsis glistening after a rain shower

Flourescent pink roses
(yes, they really are this bright)

Lavender rose

Sweet William

Big beautiful clematis blossoms

My resident toad had more sense than I did -- he took shelter behind the alyssum!

dystopia 11:36 AM - [Link]

Today in Dystopian History: May 9

1913: The 17th amendment to the Constitution, providing for the election of US senators by popular vote rather than selection by state legislatures, was ratified.

1969: The NY Times published a front-page dispatch from Washington, "Raids in Cambodia by US Unprotested," which accurately described the first of the secret B-52 bombing raids in Cambodia.

1970: About 600 Canadian protesters defaced the Peace Arch at the US-Canadian border at Blaine, WA, in response to the Kent State killings.

1974: The House Judiciary Committee opened hearings on whether to recommend the impeachment of President Nixon.

1989: Vice President Dan Quayle told an audience at a United Negro College Fund conference "what a waste it is to lose one's mind or not have one."

2000: Former Louisiana Gov Edwin Edwards was convicted of extortion schemes to manipulate the licensing of riverboat casinos.

2001: Virginia Governor and Republican National Committee Chairman Jim Gilmore declared May European American Heritage and History Month in Virginia; he retracted the declaration the next day after news reports that the idea and wording of the proclamation came from a white supremacist group headed by David Duke.

dystopia 10:19 AM - [Link]

Thursday, May 08, 2003

Oh My Good Lord

Just came in from taking pictures of flowers in my garden and flipped on the TV, only to discover that a tornado just hit the far side of the city. I think it tore up the GM plant over by Tinker AFB, and they said the Moore shopping center was on fire.

I prob'ly ought to go see what else is going on.

dystopia 5:56 PM - [Link]

TV Watchdog Checks Claims of Murdoch Bias

Loosing the hounds on Fox -- details in the Guardian:

The Murdoch-owned Fox News Channel, whose determinedly patriotic stance during the Iraq conflict brought it critical notoriety but commercial success, is under investigation by television regulators in Britain for alleged bias.

The independent television commission is investigating nine complaints by viewers of the channel, broadcast on Sky Digital satellite, also controlled by Rupert Murdoch.

If the network is found to have breached the ITC's "due impartiality" rules, it could be forced out.


dystopia 3:24 PM - [Link]

Mayday, Mayday

Interesting perspective piece by Matt Taibbi in the NY Press:

The Reich only lasted 12 years. The Soviets reigned for 75. They were better at it than the Nazis, and we’re better at it than the Russians. Ask anyone who’s lived in a communist country, and he’ll tell you: Modern America is deja vu all over again. And if ever there was a Soviet spectacle, it was Bush’s speech last week.

Think about it. Huge weapons on display, in foreground and background. The leader who has never fought dressed in full military regalia. Crowds of adoring soldiers and "shock worker" types dressed in colorful costumes, carefully arranged for the cameras. A terrible, excruciatingly dull speech, 20 minutes of incoherent, redundant patriotism (Bush used the words "free" or "freedom" 19 times in an 1800-word speech) and chimpanzoid chest-pounding...

That was Red Square every year for about 70 straight years. And now it is a most natural fit in our society.

dystopia 3:05 PM - [Link]

House Debates Faith-Based Job Training

Bush's "faith-based" plan stalled in Congress, but Republicans are still trying implement it piece by piece in various bills. Tampa Bay Online has the story:

Debate on a House plan to restructure funding for the government's $6.6 billion job training programs erupted Thursday into a dispute over churches that receive tax money and whether they should be allowed to hire and fire based on religion.

"This takes us down a very dangerous road - a road of religious bigotry and intolerance ... using federal tax dollars," said Rep Chris Van Hollen, D-Md...

The current law prohibits religious groups that receive grants to provide jobs training from employment discrimination based on religion. But Republicans removed that provision in the new plan. President Bush, as part of his "faith-based" initiative, signed an executive order in December allowing religious groups to receive federal contracts even if they base hiring decisions on religion, and Republicans want the new legislation to reflect that.

According to another "faith-based" item in the Boston Globe, the Labor Department quietly changed regulations for the nation's leading job training program last month to allow faith-based organizations to use "sacred literature," such as Bibles, in federally-funded programs.

dystopia 2:08 PM - [Link]

Evangelicals Rip Franklin Graham

It's always encouraging to see evidence of common sense among evangelicals. It helps to underscore the fact that it's the loudest, most colorful and most outrageous of that persuasion who get all the press, and who damage the public image of the entire group. The Kansas City Star has more:

The evangelicals meeting Wednesday said the derisive comments endangered Christian missionaries in the Muslim world, strained already tense interfaith relations and fed the perception in the Mideast and beyond that the war on terrorism is a Christian crusade against Islam...

Paul Marshall, senior fellow at the Center for Religious Freedom, a human rights group, said anti-Islam comments serve only to antagonize people. "Exactly what is to be achieved by that except boosting the ego of who said it?" he asked...

Haggard suggested holding a meeting with Falwell, Robertson and other high-profile evangelicals to explain the damage their comments have caused.

Yes, please do that, and quickly!

dystopia 1:40 PM - [Link]

Stealth Attack on Wilderness

I just don't like Gale Norton. Not at all. Here's another reason why, from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution:

Secretary of the Interior Gale Norton recently decided that 250 million acres of public land will not be considered for wilderness preservation. There's only one problem: She forgot to ask the landowners -- the American people -- about it. In fact, Norton notified only a few select US senators when she decided to reverse four decades of established environmental policy on Bureau of Land Management lands...

Here's how the Bush administration, on behalf of the energy industry, wants it to work: The interior secretary refuses to use her authority to protect potential wilderness lands from being spoiled. Once they are, they won't qualify for wilderness designation in the future. President Bush's oil and gas buddies are interested in any resources that may lie underneath public lands.

Using a flawed interpretation of the 1976 law, Norton claims her authority to manage the wild lands has "expired." But she didn't have the guts to call public attention to her new interpretation. She hid it in correspondence to the Utah congressional delegation, noting that she had entered into a settlement reversing the protection of 2.6 million acres in Utah.

dystopia 1:33 PM - [Link]

Campus Ink Tanks

The LA Times reports on a seminar held recently at the Jesse Helms Center:

In an eight-hour session that bore little resemblance to a traditional journalism class, the students were taught how to start their own conservative newspapers and opinion journals. And how to pick fights with lefty bogeymen on the faculty and in student government.

By the end of the day, the student journalists were fired up for battle — determined not only to change the tenor of notoriously liberal campus dialogues, but also, in the long run, to alter the basic makeup of the nation's professional news outlets...

The confrontational tactics encouraged in the seminars have inspired opposition on campus, ranging from vandalism to death threats. Seth Norman, managing editor of the California Patriot, said the magazine's Berkeley office was broken into and copies stolen. Distributors have been spit on.

These people do not Play Well with Others.

I was googling the Jesse Helms Center when I came across this bit -- it made me laugh out loud:

Senator Jesse Helms (R-NC) reportedly embarrassed his staffers by referring to North Korean President Kim Jong Il as "Kim Jong Two" when reading from a prepared speech. To correct this mistake, in Helms's next speech the staffers helpfully spelled the name phonetically as Kim Jong Ill. Helms referred to him that time as "Kim Jong the Third."

dystopia 12:45 PM - [Link]

My Great-Great Grandma's 159th Birthday

My great-great grandmother, a white woman named Rebecca Melinda Gaines, was born on this day in 1844. I don't know much about her, except that she lived her entire life in Gainesville, GA, and that she died young in 1882, leaving behind six children aged 5 to 12.

Gainesville, located in Hall County on ancient Cherokee lands, was named after Rebecca's 2nd cousin, Gen Edmund Pendleton Gaines.

During the first quarter of the 19th century, the Cherokees repeatedly fought off legal attempts to drive them from these last few bits of ancestral lands and had even gained a measure of support for their cause among many white Americans, but after gold was discovered near Dahlonega it was all over for them.

I have another great-great-grandma, Rachel Dennis, a Cherokee born sometime in 1838 in Georgia. I don't know much about her, either, except that it was on May 17, 1838 that Gen Winfield Scott led an army of seven thousand troops into Cherokee territory and the Trail of Tears began. Rachel died sixty years later in Indian Territory.

A dichotomy. Two great-great grandmothers, one white and one Indian, born around the same time and in about the same place who lived very different lives, whose families would have been very opposed to each other's presence, and both equally responsible for the fact that I was ever born. It's kind of trippy.

I've got lots of old pictures of my grandmas and grandpas going way back, plus a gorgeous primitive oil portrait of another Cherokee great-grandma. One of these days, when I get my image hosting situation figured out, I'll post some of them.

dystopia 10:31 AM - [Link]

Today in Dystopian History: May 8

1846: The first major battle of the Mexican War was fought at Palo Alto, Texas, resulting in victory for Gen Zachary Taylor.

1958: Vice President Richard Nixon was shoved, stoned, booed and spat upon by anti-American protesters in Lima, Peru.

1958: President Eisenhower ordered the National Guard out of Little Rock as Ernest Green became the first black to graduate from an Arkansas public school.

1962: The Department of Justice ordered court action to halt racial segregation in hospitals built with federal funds.

1970: Construction workers broke up an anti-war protest on Wall Street in NYC.

1972: President Nixon announced the mining of major North Vietnamese ports to prevent the flow of arms and material to communist forces.

1973: Armed members of the American Indian Movement surrendered to federal authorities on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota, ending their 71-day siege of Wounded Knee, which was an attempt to force investigation of the administration of Pine Ridge and other reservations, the BIA and broken Indian treaties.

dystopia 9:53 AM - [Link]

Wednesday, May 07, 2003

Fresh Poop on Perle

'Scuse me while I retch. Capitol Hill Blue has details:

Pentagon adviser Richard Perle briefed an investment seminar on ways to profit from conflicts in Iraq and North Korea just weeks after he received a top-secret government briefing on the crises in the two countries...

Perle attended a Defense Intelligence Agency briefing in February and three weeks later participated in a Goldman Sachs conference call in which he advised investors in a talk titled
Implications of an Imminent War: Iraq Now. North Korea Next?

A financial advisor who participated in the conference call told
Capitol Hill Blue that Perle offered "advice on how to cash in if war broke out in Iraq and/or North Korea."

dystopia 4:51 PM - [Link]

Tyson Fowls Workers

According to the Capital Times, Tyson's union workers have been on strike in Wisconsin since February 28 because:

Tyson, Jefferson County's largest employer, wants to: 1) freeze wages for four years; 2) drop new hires' wages by $2.15 an hour; 3) cut sick leave and disability benefits by more than half; 4) cut workers' vacations by a third; 5) freeze pension benefits for those already employed; 6) increase health care premiums dramatically; 7) eliminate all severance provisions workers now have.

Gregg Peters is one of the Jefferson workers. He's worked there for 17 years. Tyson wasn't the owner when he started working there. In fact, Tyson is a newcomer to the plant, which had previously been owned by Wilson, Doxocil, and IBP...

"When I first started, there was a family-owned business. Then Wilson, Doxocil and IBP bought it," he said. "It was always hard work, but nothing ever changed. The companies always took care of everybody's family."

Not any more. Tyson's notorious for its labor record:

Tyson Foods Rap Sheet
Labor Dept Files Suit Against Tyson Foods
Truth About Tyson

dystopia 4:41 PM - [Link]

Navajos Want Management Change Stopped

The Interior Deparment works diligently to discourage the accurate accounting (and payment) of Indian royalties. Here's a fresh example, from

Calvert Garcia, executive staff assistant to Navajo Nation President Joe Shirley Jr and president of the Nageezi Navajo chapter, contended Gambrell has been removed because he took positions that favored Indian clients over federal bureaucracies...

In 2001, the Department of Interior shut down its computers because royalty information was not secure. That cut off monthly payments for several months, and the Indian Minerals Office could not track royalties or give clients information about mining on their land.

The computer system went back up in a limited way four months later to send checks out, but the minerals office has continued to work manually. Garcia said clients now aren't sure how much money they are owed and whether they are getting their full share.

dystopia 2:26 PM - [Link]

Iraq Hospitals Report 17 Cholera Cases

More bad news out of Basra, via the Associated Press:

Health officials said they feared the disease is already epidemic.

With 17 confirmed cases, "you can expect 10 times more within the larger population," said Dr Denis Coulombier, a WHO epidemiologist.

"It's a very small number," WHO spokesman Iain Simpson told
The Associated Press in Geneva of the confirmed cases. "But it's a very bad sign."

dystopia 2:02 PM - [Link]

High School Hazing Injures 5 Girls

The video was appalling. Made me sick to my stomach.

dystopia 12:55 PM - [Link]

Bacardi Genie Out of the Bottle

The Guardian examines the secretive Bacardi bunch:

Identifying the members of the clan, though, is another matter...the last time a shareholder list made its way into the public domain was 1996. It showed that 40 trusts and corporations, mostly with post office addresses in Bermuda, the Bahamas and Grand Cayman, held 75% of the shares.

Secrecy seems to have been in the blood of the company since it fled Cuba after Fidel Castro nationalised its assets there in 1959. Some of those secrets were exposed by Cuban journalist Hernando Calvo Ospina in a book last year titled
Bacardi: The Hidden War. Mr Ospina alleged that the company's former head, the late Jose Pepin Bosch, hired an aircraft to bomb Cuba's oil refineries to create a blackout and encourage subversion. The plan was abandoned when a picture of the aircraft was published in the New York Times.

A few years later, according to CIA documents released in 1998, Mr Bosch offered to contribute $100,000 of the $150,000 requested by people linked to the mafia who had offered to kill Castro, his brother Raul and Che Guevara...

The latest round of the Havana Club legal battle centres on Florida governor Jeb Bush, brother of the president. Bacardi, with a US base in Miami, has given $200,000 to Florida Republicans since 1998 and Pernod-Ricard has submitted emails that purport to show that the governor put pressure on local trademark officials to back Bacardi in the dispute.

Iran-Contra player Otto Reich represented Bacardi as a lobbyist and headed the US-Cuba Business Council, a nonprofit organization backed by Bacardi and partially funded by USAID. Bacardi paid him more than $600,000 for lobbying, according to public records. He helped draft the 1996 Helms-Burton Act and Section 211 of the 1998 Omnibus Appropriations Act, stripping Cuba of trademark protection. This directly benefited Bacardi, which now produces and sells Havana Club rum under its own label.

I wonder if/how Orlando Bosch is connected to Bacardi? He's an anti-Castro activist suspected of dozens of bombings, including the 1976 bombing of a Cuban airliner that killed 73 people. His 1989 deportation order is pretty interesting to read. He's still here, though, thanks to Poppy Bush.

dystopia 11:56 AM - [Link]

News or Advertising?

The NY Times spotlights a growing trend in the drug trade:

For years, local news stations, as part of their newscasts, have broadcast videos created by drug companies' public relations agencies — a practice that critics equate to publishing unedited press releases. Now, production companies are expanding that marketing tactic to public television and the Web and using celebrity journalists to add to the videos' credibility...

Critics of the news media say that the videos mislead viewers by packaging promotional material to look like news. Dr. Joseph Turow, a professor at the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Pennsylvania, said that he had seen similar videos in the past that tried to imitate news but never ones featuring working journalists, let alone such prominent ones as Mr. Safer and Mr. Brown.

"They are buying credibility," he said of the health care companies that pay for the appearances.

It's not just news people cashing in. You know those celebrities who show up on Larry King talking about their health problems? You think they do it for free? The Times ran similar stories over the past few years, but they're in the for-pay archive now:

Celebrities Join Bristol-Myers Campaign
CNN to Reveal When Guests Promote Drugs For Pay
Surgeons Get Airtime, DJs Get Free Enhancements

dystopia 11:11 AM - [Link]

Today in Dystopian History: May 7

1844: A Protestant mob in Philadelphia, shouting "Kill them! Kill them!" burned down over thirty homes in the predominantly Irish suburb of Kensington.

1873: President Ulysses S Grant sent US Marines into Panama to protect the business interests that put him in office.

1955: Rev George Lee, one of the first black people registered to vote in Humphreys County, MS, and who used his pulpit and his printing press to urge others to vote, was murdered.

1973: White House counsel John Dean's bid for immunity was turned down in the Watergate case.

1975: Senator Frank Church, after a meeting on the investigation into CIA activities, said, "When [former CIA Director Richard] Helms says that the CIA never killed any foreign leader, that statement is correct, but not necessarily complete."

1984: A $180 million out-of-court settlement was announced in the Agent Orange class-action suit brought by Vietnam veterans who charged they suffered injury from exposure to the defoliant.

1985: The city of Philadelphia bombed the house of a radical black group, MOVE, killing 11 people and destroying 62 other homes in the neighborhood.

1999: NATO jets struck the Chinese embassy in Belgrade, killing three people and injuring 20; President Clinton called the attack a "tragic mistake."

dystopia 10:27 AM - [Link]

Tuesday, May 06, 2003

Clear (if Confusing) Case for Reform

EJ Dionne tries to make some sense of it in today's Washington Post; he points out that two judges with different political backgrounds just agreed that campaign finance reform is both constitutional and necessary:

It is not a violation of free speech rights for Congress to regulate the role of big money in politics. On the contrary, regulating that money is essential to curbing corruption and preserving the speech rights of those who lack large piles of cash. When money shouts, quieter voices with limited funds are often drowned out.

Judges Richard J Leon and Colleen Kollar-Kotelly directly rebuked those who sought to have the law thrown out on constitutional grounds...

The odd thing is that the decision weakens McCain-Feingold's regulations in certain ways but strengthens them in others. Leon, and thus the court, ruled that "soft money," the unlimited contributions from corporate and union treasuries, could not be outlawed if it were used for such activities as get-out-the-vote campaigns. But it could be outlawed for use in paying for broadcast ads advocating the election or defeat of a candidate. This is still stronger than the law before McCain-Feingold, but it opens large potential loopholes.

On the other hand, the panel majority kept many of the law's fundraising restrictions intact and seems to have extended the limits and disclosure requirements on those phony "issue ads."

Of course, the Supreme Court has the last word in all this, so any reform attempts can still be overruled.

dystopia 1:40 PM - [Link]

Nature Conservancy Defrauds the Public

Of course, their tax expert disagrees. The Washington Post has the gory details -- go see what you think:

The transaction follows a pattern seen in Conservancy land deals across the nation. Time and again, the nonprofit has bought raw land and resold it at a loss to a trustee or supporter. The sales are part of a program to limit intrusive development, but generally allow buyers to construct homes on the environmentally sensitive sites.

The buyers, in turn, cover the Conservancy's costs by giving the charity cash gifts in amounts roughly equal to the organization's loss on the sale -- $1.6 million in the Shelter Island deal. The donations benefit the buyers, allowing them to take significant tax deductions -- just as if they had given money to their local charity...

The covenant authorizes construction of a single-family house of unrestricted size, garages, a swimming pool, a tennis court, a home office, a guest cottage and a writer's cabin. It allows relocation of an access road, installation of septic facilities, construction of foot trails and related excavating, filling and bulldozing. It permits outside benches, tables, chairs, gazebos, birdbaths and screened tents.

It allows cutting firewood for personal use and, on a particular portion of the property, it authorizes tree cutting, hillside terracing, gardening and lawn planting, all to provide the owners with "enjoyment of views." It approves construction of a dock on an ocean cove.

I'd like to get hold of this smug little bastard:

By designating the check as a donation, instead of part of the purchase price, Reed said he could deduct the amount of the gift, offsetting income taxed at 39 percent. In effect, he said, "the federal government is buying part of the land for you."

Um, not quite, parasite. That would be the taxpayer, meaning me, buying part of that land for you, and it seriously pisses me off.

The Post put together a whole page of investigative reports on the Nature Conservancy. Go read.

dystopia 12:54 PM - [Link]

Today in Dystopian History: May 6

1882: Over President Chester Arthur's veto, Congress passed the Chinese Exclusion Act, which barred Chinese immigrants from the US for ten years.

1935: The Works Progress Administration began.

1962: The first nuclear warhead was fired from the Polaris submarine.

1970: Congressional hearings began on ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment to the US Constitution.

1970: Two African-American students were killed by government troops at Jackson State University in Mississippi. The two students were watching anti-Vietnam War demonstrators from a nearby dormitory tower.

1973: More than 400 protesters were arrested at a proposed nuclear site in Seabrook, NH.

1979: 125,000 protesters rallied in Washington, DC to oppose nuclear power.

1996: The body of former CIA director William E Colby was found washed up on a river bank in southern Maryland, eight days after he'd disappeared.

1997: Hemophiliacs who contracted AIDS between 1978 and 1985 from tainted blood products accepted a $600 million settlement from four health-care companies.

dystopia 12:13 PM - [Link]

Monday, May 05, 2003

California Mulls Testing Humans for Pollution

Finally, somebody's catching on to one of the leading causes of death in the US. Reuters reports, via the Environmental News Network:

Under legislation debated Wednesday, the state could become the first in the nation to fund research to probe links between environmental toxins and chronic disease by testing human blood, urine, breast milk, and fatty tissue.

"We have a right to know what's in our bodies," said Jeanne Rizzo, executive director of the Breast Cancer Fund. "Once we know what's showing up, we can start reducing our use of toxic compounds and look more closely at the ones we don't know as much about."

Scientists have studied how chemicals show up in the environment and how those chemicals break down, but relatively little research has been done on the chemicals' effect on humans.

Related links:

Genetic-Environmental Links to Diseases Decoded
Lightening the Body Burden
Life in a Cancer Cluster
Collateral Damage in the Pesticide Wars
Endocrine Disruptors FAQ
Environment and Health

dystopia 2:19 PM - [Link]

Gun Firms on Verge of Winning Protection

The Washington Post is full of bad news today:

Under pressure from the National Rifle Association and a lesser-known organization funded with $100 million from gun manufacturers, Bush and a majority of lawmakers are on record supporting significant new legal protections for companies that make and sell guns. The legislation would prevent victims of gun crimes from making civil claims against companies that manufactured, imported or sold the weapons.

The NRA calls the legislation a prudent way to prevent companies from going belly up simply because a criminal used their gun illegally. But critics say the measure would allow some gunmakers who misplace caches of weapons -- or dealers who sell guns to felons -- to escape civil penalties.

Victims of the Washington area sniper, for instance, might be prohibited from suing the controversial gun dealer in Tacoma, Wash., who supplied the Bushmaster rifle used in some of last October's shootings if the bill becomes law, according to legal experts.

dystopia 1:22 PM - [Link]

Seven Iraqi Nuclear Sites Looted

Chaos reigns. The Washington Post reports:

The discovery at the Baghdad Nuclear Research Facility was the second since the end of the war in which a known nuclear cache was plundered extensively enough that authorities could not rule out the possibility that deadly materials had been stolen...

In all, seven sites associated with Iraq's nuclear program have been visited by the Pentagon's "special nuclear programs" teams since the war ended last month. None was found to be intact, though it remains unclear what materials -- if any -- had been removed...

Employees of the research center -- or Iraqis who said they were employees -- had been coming in by the score for more than two weeks. The 3rd Infantry's security detail had no Arabic speaker and could not verify their stories. In addition, looters had been scavenging inside continuously since U.S. forces took control. At the peak, there were 400 a day. On Friday, the U.S. soldiers detained 62 of them, but many more got away.

Nice work, guys. At least somebody counted the looters.

dystopia 12:57 PM - [Link]

Operation WTF?

I was just lurking at Democratic Underground and came across an idea I thought was worth sharing.

You know the ribbons people wear to publicize various causes? The AIDS ribbon, the breast cancer ribbon, etc? DUer "nostamj" suggests wearing a pin or ribbon with a simple "?":

then, when someone asks "what's the '?' about?" you respond: I want answers about 9/11. I want to know why the Bush Administration is spending $60 million to investigate the shuttle crash and a fraction to investigate 9/11.

or you respond: I want answers about the WMD that comprised such a direct threat to the USA that it legitimized an invasion and occupation of Iraq.

or you respond: I want the facts about Bush's ANG record.

etc etc etc...

Other DUers suggested having t-shirts and baseball caps printed, but I liked the idea of wearing a "?" in magic marker on a piece of duct tape. Simple and cheap.

The objective is to create an opening to talk to your fellow Americans about things that matter. Go read the discussion and see what you think.

dystopia 12:06 PM - [Link]

Campaign Documents Show Deep Bush Fund-Raising

The NY Times reports on newly-released Bush presidential campaign documents revealing previously unknown members of the record-breaking Pioneer fundraising network:

The top Pioneer was the team of William Dewitt and Mercer Reynolds, Cincinnati businessmen who raised $605,082. After the election, Mr. Reynolds was appointed ambassador to Switzerland, though he recently stepped down. Both men have a long history with Mr. Bush: In 1984 their oil company, Spectrum 7, acquired Mr. Bush's struggling West Texas oil operation.

The second-ranking Pioneer, Ronald Weiser, a Michigan businessman, raised $588,309, according to the documents. Mr. Weiser serves as ambassador to the Slovak Republic.

The third-ranking Pioneer was the team of Howard Leach and Kristen Hueter of California, who raised $429,610, according to the documents. Mr. Leach is now ambassador to France.

The bookmark-worthy Texans for Public Justice website has all the details, plus other interesting reading on the influence of power and money in Texas politics.

dystopia 11:19 AM - [Link]

Big Donors, Lobbyists Get What They Want

The Miami Herald reports on democracy for sale in Florida:

The state's major phone and sugar companies gave more than $3.5 million to state-level candidates and committees representing both parties during the 2002 election cycle, according to a review of state campaign-finance records. The two industries employed nearly 200 registered lobbyists during this year's legislative session -- including former House speakers, former legislators, ex-Bush aides and well-connected political operatives. On their own, those lobbyists also gave millions of dollars in campaign contributions.

When Republican Senate President Jim King was asked last week why the only major legislation he and GOP House Speaker Johnnie Byrd could agree on helped big campaign contributors, he jokingly tried to dump the question to one of his lieutenants.

"That's like asking, `Do you still beat your wife?' How do you expect me to answer that?" King said. "I guess the public is going to have to make their own determination."

dystopia 10:59 AM - [Link]

April Layoffs Up 71% to 146,000

Painful economic news from CBS MarketWatch:

Layoffs of public-sector workers surged in April, pushing total announced layoffs to their highest level in five months, according to a monthly tally by outplacement firm Challenger Gray & Christmas. Announced job cuts jumped 71 percent in April to 146,399 from 85,399 in March, Challenger said Monday. The budget crunch at state and local governments was finally felt in April as 57,927 workers were told to clean out their desks. It was the largest number of announced reductions in any sector since the 96,333 jobs lost in the airline industry in September 2001. "The sharp increase in job cuts last month should serve as a warning that it is premature to conclude that the quick end to the war in Iraq will bring a quick turnaround in the economy and job market," said John Challenger, chief executive officer of the firm.

dystopia 10:48 AM - [Link]

Acting Like an Oil Company

Dollar signs distracted the Nature Conservancy from its reason for being, which led to lying, cheating, stealing, lawsuits and lots of dead birds, per the Washington Post. A fascinating read:

Drilling in sensitive areas is opposed as destructive by most environmentalists. But the Conservancy subscribes to an aggressive form of "compatible development," a pragmatic approach that seeks to accommodate the needs of business as well as environmentalism. The Conservancy wanted the Texas City Prairie Preserve to be a national model to show that drilling can be accomplished without harming the environment. It would use the drilling profits to buy more habitat for the birds.

That's not the way things worked out...

dystopia 10:30 AM - [Link]

Today in Dystopian History: May 5

1865: The Thirteenth Amendment was ratified, abolishing slavery in the US.

1874: The Dutch passed strict child labor laws, at the same time the US Supreme Court was striking down such state laws as violating freedom of contract.

1892: Congress passed the Geary Chinese Exclusion Act, requiring Chinese in the US to be registered or face deportation.

1893: Panic hit the NY Stock Exchange; by the end of the year the country was in a severe depression. Rampant, unregulated speculating in a stock market largely controlled by the big trusts led to the '93 Crash.

1925: John T Scopes, a biology teacher in Dayton, TN, was arrested for teaching Darwin's theory of evolution.

1945: In the only fatal attack of its kind during WWII, a Japanese balloon bomb exploded on Gearhart Mountain in Oregon, killing a pregnant minister's wife and five children when they tried to drag the balloon out of the woods.

1985: President Reagan paid tribute to Nazi soldiers buried in a German cemetery.

1987: The Iran-Contra hearings began, with ranking member Dick Cheney running interference for and passing information to the White House.

dystopia 10:02 AM - [Link]

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i.e. America Radio

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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)