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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 24, 2003

What "Everybody Knows"

Answer me this: How many wise men brought Jesus gifts after His birth?

Three? Oh, really? Says who? The Bible? Where?

The Bible doesn't mention anywhere that there were exactly three wise men. It does name three gifts--gold, frankincense and myrrh--but it doesn't say that each man brought one gift. There might have been three magi, or there might have been thirty. We only think there were three because that's what "everybody knows."

The point being, it's a good idea to question things that "everybody knows," because when an unsubstantiated story is repeated often enough by a variety of different sources, it will begin to sound like the absolute truth, even if it isn't.

The Mighty Wurlitzer works on the same principle.

dystopia 2:57 PM - [Link]

Afghan Mothers Fight for Survival

Carlotta Gall describes the heavy toll childbearing takes on the unfortunate women of modern-day Aghanistan:

Maleka, a birdlike woman of 30 with a wizened face, lay on the floor on a flat cushion, wrapped in a woolen shawl. Hours earlier, she had given birth to her sixth child, who, like three others before him, had not survived...

Her aunt said she had lost 6 of the 10 children she had borne. Her mother-in-law had lost one of her six children, another relative had lost four. Maleka's sister-in-law was nursing a fragile infant girl, born prematurely just two weeks earlier...

The older women, among them a mother of 12, said they were weary of constant childbearing, but hesitated to take any advice about family planning because they said their husbands would oppose it.

As for Maleka, who has only two children after the death of four others, there was no question whether she would try for more children.

"Of course she will," one of the older women answered for her.

dystopia 2:14 PM - [Link]

An Official Opinion

A Swedish official spoke a bit too freely for some, per Nettavisen:

The rather impolite description of George W Bush was presented by the Swedish minister during a meeting with the press this week. According to the Swedish newspaper Aftonbladet, Mr Karlsson called Mr Bush "that fucking Texas geezer."

dystopia 1:33 PM - [Link]

Rush Holt to the Rescue

Fantastic news! The question of electronic voting machine integrity has definitely reached the halls of Congress. Of course, I expect this particular bit of legislation to wind up thoroughly riddled with loopholes, if not squashed outright. And I seriously doubt that anything will pass in time to protect the 2004 elections but, still, this is a very encouraging development:

Rep Rush Holt today responded to the growing chorus of concern from election reform specialists and computer security experts about the integrity of future elections by introducing reform legislation, The Voter Confidence and Increased Accessibility Act of 2003. The measure would require all voting machines to produce an actual paper record by 2004 that voters can view to check the accuracy of their votes and that election officials can use to verify votes in the event of a computer malfunction, hacking, or other irregularity. Experts often refer to this paper record as a "voter-verified paper trail..."

Key provisions of the Voter Confidence and Increased Accessibility Act of 2003 include:

1) Requires all voting systems to produce a voter-verified paper record for use in manual audits and recounts...

2) Bans the use of undisclosed software and wireless communications devices in voting systems.

3) Requires all voting systems to meet these requirements in time for the general election in November 2004...

4) Requires that electronic voting system be provided for persons with disabilities by January 1, 2006 -- one year earlier than currently required by HAVA...

5) Requires mandatory surprise recounts in 0.5% of domestic jurisdictions and 0.5% of overseas jurisdictions.

Add this bill to the list of things to pester your elected reps about.

dystopia 1:05 PM - [Link]

Torturing the Cat

The Slacktivist ruminates on "the most critical time in the history of the world":

We Americans are the wealthiest, most educated people the world has ever seen. We are a people and a nation to whom all things seem possible and every course of action is open...

The great struggle being waged by President Bush and his supporters is not really about making "the world a safer, better place." It's not even really about an imperial "Pax Americana." It's about the search for meaning by a people so bored, complacent, comfortable and desperate for significance that for them war gives birth not only to terrible beauty but to terrible joy.

This is why even dispassionate, prudential questions about foreign policy provoke outraged invective. Such questions are not merely seen as a threat to a policy position, but as a threat to a metaphysical, religious belief system.

Thanks to Seeing the Forest for pointing me to it.

dystopia 12:11 PM - [Link]

Today in Dystopian History: May 24

1610: Sir Thomas Gates, the new governor of Jamestown, established martial law under Laws Divine, Morall and Martiall.

1624: After years of unprofitable operation, Virginia’s charter was revoked and it became a royal colony.

1764: "Taxation without Representation" became the phrase of the day after Boston attorney James Otis stood up at at town meeting to speak out against the new Sugar Act.

1856: Abolitionist John Brown led six men, four of them his sons, in the brutal murder and mutilation of five pro-slavery Kansans, in an attack known as the Pottawatomie Massacre.

1863: The citizens of Bannack, MT, elected Henry Plummer as their new sheriff; he was later accused of being a hardened outlaw who used his office to rob and murder them.

1964: Sen Barry Goldwater (R-AZ), running for president, discussed the use of low-yield atomic bombs in North Vietnam in an interview. During the storm of criticism that followed, he claimed that he did not mean to advocate the use of atomic bombs but was merely "repeating a suggestion made by competent military people."

1994: Four men convicted of bombing the World Trade Center in 1993 were each sentenced to 240 years in prison.

1996: The US imposed sanctions on North Korea and Iran for missile technology-related transfers.

2001: Vermont Sen Jim Jeffords abandoned the Republican Party and declared himself an independent.

dystopia 10:59 AM - [Link]

Friday, May 23, 2003

The Young Hipublicans

My first reaction was to LOL, but this is really not that funny. Well-funded right-wing groups are spending big bucks to turn college kids into True Believers. John Colapinto reports in the NY Times:

As with college conservative movements in the past, the recent wave has been fueled and often financed by an array of conservative interest groups, of which there are, today, almost too many to keep straight: Young Americans for Freedom; Young America's Foundation; the Leadership Institute; the Collegiate Network; the Intercollegiate Studies Institute. These groups spend money in various ways to push a right-wing agenda on campuses: some make direct cash "grants" to student groups to start and run conservative campus newspapers; others provide free training in "conservative leadership," often providing heavily subsidized travel to their "publishing programs"; others provide help with the hefty speaking fees for celebrity right-wing speakers. Through these coordinated activities, these groups have embarked in the last three years on a concerted campus recruitment drive to turn temperamentally conservative youngsters into organized right-wing activists. From Maine to California, students have taken up the offer -- even at such lefty bastions as Berkeley and the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Students at Howard University, a black institution in Washington, have started a group that has been referred to as the "hip-hop Republicans." The Campus Leadership Program has by their own count helped set up 256 conservative campus groups in less than three years. The College Republican National Committee, a group that mobilizes students to campaign, has tripled its membership since 1999 to an all-time high of 1,148 chapters.

Grooming the ruling class of the future. That's what these yahoos are working toward, you know. They intend to be the ruling class; the rest of us will be peasants.

dystopia 6:35 PM - [Link]

FuneralGate Company Faces Felony Charges

An old Bush buddy is in trouble, per Tampa Bay Online:

The state filed criminal felony charges against the world's largest funeral industry company, accusing it of unearthing bodies and tossing aside bones to make room for more burials.

In the state's civil case against the company, Service Corp International of Houston will have to pay up to $14 million in fines and restitution as part of a settlement announced Thursday by Florida's attorney general.

SCI is the company involved with Dubya in the FuneralGate scandal, from his Texas governor days.

dystopia 5:56 PM - [Link]

Hey, Can I Borrow a Trillion?

Greg at the Talent Show notes that the Senate is voting this week to raise the debt ceiling again. He also provides a handy graphic which paints a telling picture of the US budget surplus/deficit from Lyndon Johnson through Bush II. Might ought to keep a copy of it to use in voter education efforts over the next year or two.

According to the US National Debt Clock, your share of the national debt is now more than $22,000.

dystopia 2:54 PM - [Link]

John Stossel, Corporate Shill

Uggabugga outs 20/20 correspondent John Stossel as an ardent anti-environmentalist in a lengthy post with lots of links. More links from my own file:

Teflon Correspondent
Stossel's Heroes
Give Us a Fake
More Underhanded Reporting from ABC News

Caveat emptor.

dystopia 2:17 PM - [Link]

Bolten Named OMB Director

Wampum's got the goods on Josh Bolten:

When I first found this biographical piece, I didn't read it very closely. Later, as I was writing this post, heading in different direction altogether, I noticed Bolten's tenure with State, and his involvement with Inter-American Affairs in particular, during the early 80's. Those were the years just prior to Iran-Contra, when US Central American policy was more focused on a peasant uprising in the tiny country of El Salvador. I spent my first years in college under the tutelage of Bob White, Carter's final ambassador to El Salvador, a man who saw 30 year foreign service career evaporate after he interfered with CIA funding of D'Aubuisson's death squads. That Bolten cut his political eye teeth in the BIAA during that time sends shivers up my spine: Even more disconcerting is that he is the son of long-time CIA insider, Seymour Bolten, who also happened to be George H.W. Bush's assistant director for operations in the mid-'70's. The OMB has been tainted for years by the Mitch Daniels-Eli Lilly-George HW Bush connection, which included Bush's tenure on the Lilly Board of Directors, being sanctioned by the Supreme Court while VP for lobbying the IRS on behalf of Lilly and other drug companies, and choosing Lilly-heir Dan Quayle as his running mate. Having another OMB director with dubious Bush Sr. ties makes me want to pull out my tinfoil hat.

Thanks, MB!

dystopia 1:56 PM - [Link]

Congressman's Tactics Under Fire

Another racist idiot says "Huh? What'd I do?" The LA Times reports:

The poster depicted a mock consular ID card with a picture of Mexican President Vicente Fox. It was captioned "Office for the Issuance of Illegal Alien ID." It listed Fox's occupation as "El Presidente," and the citizenship of his parents as "Unknown."

"I call it anti-Hispanic. You can quote me on that," said Rep. Ruben Hinojosa (D-Texas)...

The Mexican Embassy also jumped into the fray, issuing a statement decrying what an official termed "little respect" by Tancredo in his use of Fox's image.

In his own defense, Tancredo asked what kind of picture he should have used instead: "Somebody who looks like a Swede?"

dystopia 1:43 PM - [Link]

What I'm Reading

Ethel: A Fictional Autobiography, by Tema Nason, is Ethel Rosenberg's story told in her own voice as she awaited her fate. Ethel and her husband, Julius, were executed in the electric chair in June 1953, after they were convicted of selling atomic secrets to the Soviets.

dystopia 12:58 PM - [Link]

Spinning the Road Map for Peace

A fascinating memo written by Republican PR consultant Frank Luntz is quoted in Haaretz:

"The good news is that the American people firmly believe that if the Palestinians want to demonstrate sincere commitment to peace, they must abide by the tenants of the president's soon-to-be-released road map. The not-as-good news is that they expect exactly same from Israel and they demand it immediately...

"The settlements are our Achilles heel, and the best response (which is still quite weak) is the need for security that this buffer creates. 'Security' sells. Security has become the key fundamental principle for all Americans. Security is the context by which you should explain Israeli need for loan guarantees and military aid, as well as why Israel can't just give up land...

"When you want to identify with and align yourself with America, just say it. Don't use George Bush as a synonym for the United States. Half the Democrats support the war even if they don't support George Bush. You antagonize the latter half unnecessarily every time you compliment the President. Don't do it."

dystopia 11:53 AM - [Link]

Today in Dystopian History: May 23

1836: The Treaty of New Echota was ratified by the Senate by just one vote; it was an illegal treaty agreeing to removal to Indian Territory signed with a minority group of Cherokees who felt it was futile to continue to fight.

1838: Federal troops and state militias began the roundup of the Cherokees into stockades in preparation for their forced removal to the Indian Nation in present-day Oklahoma. About a quarter of them would die on the Trail of Tears.

1934: FBI agents and police officers from two states ambushed Bonnie and Clyde on a highway near Gibsland, LA, unloading hundreds of rounds into the car.

1946: The nation's rail workers went on strike, stopping up the US's rail-heavy transportation network and eventually winning better wages.

1967: Controversy over the M-16 combat rifle began when Rep James J Howard (D-NJ) read a letter to the House in which a Marine claimed that almost all Americans killed in the battle for Hill 881 died because their new M-16 rifles jammed. The Pentagon admitted three months later that there had been a "serious increase in frequency of malfunctions in the M-16."

1988: Maryland became the first state to ban the sale of cheap handguns called Saturday Night Specials.

2001: The Senate approved an 11-year, $1.35 trillion tax cut package in a 62-38 vote.

dystopia 10:31 AM - [Link]

Thursday, May 22, 2003

FCC You, Powell

I've got one more thing on my mind about this media consolidation business.

Why is a decision of this scope and significance left to the five appointed members of an FCC panel, who don't have a bit of incentive to give a crap about public opinion, instead being decided by votes in the full House and Senate, whose members (theoretically) have to answer to the voters back home? How is it decided who gets to decide what?

dystopia 6:37 PM - [Link]

Doctors Prolong Vets’ Wait for Health Care

Vets are sometimes forced to wait up to two years for a medical appointment in the VA system, and then what happens? A veterans' clinic last month had 47 patients waiting for treatment with no one to see them -- no doctors showed up that day. The Army Times reports:

At the end of 2001, the department had 5,129 part-time and 9,780 full-time physicians. The same year, the VA paid part-time physicians about $400 million. VA Inspector General Richard J Griffin estimates the cost of the lost time from absent doctors at $44 million.

The doctor problem comes at a time when the VA says it is straining to handle the 6.8 million veterans already in the system and is applying measures to cut new enrollments. It also is seeking congressional approval for a $250 enrollment fee that could force 1.25 million veterans from its system.

“When our part-time physicians are not coming to work, are not putting in the hours for which the American people are paying for them, to me, that’s unconscionable,” [Griffin] said. “It’s unacceptable and it needs to change and change now.”

Not to let the VA off the hook for anything -- who's supposed to be holding these doctors accountable?

dystopia 6:06 PM - [Link]

Aetna Settles with 700,000 Doctors

The first of several class-action lawsuits, alleging that insurers used their coercive economic power to force doctors into unfavorable contracts, has been settled, according to CBS News:

Aetna Inc has agreed to a $470 million settlement with more than 700,000 doctors who alleged in a class-action lawsuit that insurers wrongly cut payments to them and interfered with their recommended treatment for patients...

Aetna is the first insurer to settle a number of doctors' lawsuits, some dating back four years ago, that have been consolidated in US District Court in Miami.

"We believe that this is a model" for the other nine insurance carriers involved in the suits, said Williams. "We encourage other members of the industry to examine this carefully."

BTW, Aetna reported a $330 million net profit for the first quarter of 2003.

dystopia 5:41 PM - [Link]

FCC Lives Large Off Lobbyist Bribes

Capitol Hill Blue reports:

Federal Communications Commission officials have taken more than 2,500 trips in the last eight years, most of them paid for by the telecommunications and broadcasting industries the agency regulates, a watchdog group said...

"It reveals more than ever before just how incestuous the relationship is between the FCC and the broadcasting and cable industries it is supposed to regulate," said Charles Lewis, director of the center...

Of the traveling FCC officials, Powell ranked No. 5 with 44 trips - 30 as a commissioner and 14 as chairman. The value of those trips was about $85,000. His most expensive was a weeklong seminar in Aspen, Colo., costing $6,200 and paid for by the Aspen Institute, a think tank.

The Center for Public Integrity says all the trips appear to be legal under current federal guidelines, and reminds us that officials of other government agencies routinely accept this sort of gift. Wonder who sets federal guidelines? Guess.

dystopia 5:14 PM - [Link]

Was PFC Lynch Used?

Jessica's hometown newspaper, the Charleston Gazette, seems to think so:

Previously, the hospital staff had tried to return Lynch to an American unit. She was sent in an ambulance to a US outpost, but American soldiers fired at the approaching vehicle, so the driver fled back to the hospital.

Scheer said videotape from the hospital raid “was artfully edited by the Pentagon and released as proof that a battle to free Lynch had occurred, when it had not.”

Similar reports of Pentagon falsification about Lynch have appeared in the
London Times and the Toronto Star, as well as on the BBC in England.

Jessica Lynch is a genuine West Virginia hero. It’s too bad that she evidently was exploited by military brass for propaganda purposes.

Thanks, BuzzFlash.

dystopia 4:51 PM - [Link]

Masters of the Universe

Rummy was called on the carpet for the WMD thing during a little side trip he took last weekend in Versailles. The occasion was this year's meeting of the White and the Powerful. The Asia Times reports:

Depending on the ideological prism applied, the Bilderberg club may be considered an ultra-VIP international lobby of the power elite of Europe and America, capable of steering international policy from behind closed doors; a harmless "discussion group" of politicians, academics and business tycoons; or a capitalist secret society operating entirely through self interest and plotting world domination...

According to a banking source in the City of London connected to Versailles, what has transpired from the 2003 meeting is that American and European Bilderbergers have not exactly managed to control their split over the American invasion and occupation of Iraq, as well as over Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's hardline policy against the Palestinians. As the Bilderbergers were chattering away, Sharon all but rejected Bush's Middle East road map, already endorsed by the other members of the so-called quartet: the United Nations, the European Union and Russia. This road map, as it stands, is over: even the presence of US Secretary of State Colin Powell - who stopped by Versailles to brief the Bilderbergers - was not enough to persuade Sharon to even discuss the dismantling of Israeli settlements in Palestinian territory.

American imperial adventures are usually rehearsed at Bilderberg meetings. Europe's elite were opposed to an American invasion of Iraq since the 2002 Bilderberg meeting in Chantilly, Virginia. Rumsfeld himself had promised them it wouldn't happen. Last week, everybody struck back at Rumsfeld, asking about the infamous "weapons of mass destruction". Most of Europe's elite do not believe American promises that Iraq's oil will "benefit the Iraqi people". They know that revenues from Iraqi oil will be used to rebuild what America has bombed. And the debate is still raging on what kind of contracts which rewarded Bechtel and Halliburton will "benefit" Western Europe.

dystopia 4:14 PM - [Link]

Senate Set to Ban Genetic Discrimination

The LA Times is full of grim news today, but did offer this ray of hope:

Under the legislation, Senate aides said, insurers would be barred from requesting or requiring a genetic test from consumers, and they could not deny coverage or raise premiums on the basis of genetic information.

Employers, labor unions, training programs and others would be barred from using genetic data to affect terms of employment. They would be barred from requiring or requesting genetic tests, except in certain circumstances, such as where monitoring a person's genes can give information about his or her potential reaction to toxic substances in the workplace.

Workers could sue employers that violated the rules, though existing law may require them to go down other avenues first.

I'm worried about the part that follows "except in certain circumstances." I suppose I should go read the bill and see what it says.

dystopia 1:44 PM - [Link]

MS Told to Fix Conditions on Death Row

A federal judge was outraged by the inhumane living conditions found on Mississippi's death row and ordered immediate changes, per the LA Times:

"No matter how heinous the crime committed, there is no excuse for such living conditions," he wrote. "It is the duty of the state of Mississippi to meet these minimal standards of decency, health and well-being..."

In addition, Davis said, the state must continue efforts to eradicate mosquitoes and provide better window screens so inmates are not faced with the choice of staying in sweltering cells or opening windows and being bitten....

"The presence of severely psychotic prisoners who foul their cells, stop up their toilets, flood the tiers with excrement and keep other prisoners awake all night with their incessant screams and shouts [is] virtually certain to cause medical illnesses and a destruction of mental stability and functioning," Kupers wrote...

Dr Susi Vassollo, a professor at the New York University School of Medicine, said the heat index was shockingly high in death row cells, and there was no air circulation.

dystopia 1:28 PM - [Link]

Texas OKs Disputed Abortion Legislation

Lying is A-okay as long as it suits your purposes, per the Republican-controlled Texas legislature. The LA Times has more:

Texas approved one of the nation's most sweeping abortion counseling laws Wednesday, requiring doctors, among other things, to warn women that abortion might lead to breast cancer.

That link, however, does not exist, according to the American Cancer Society and federal government researchers, and critics say the law is a thinly veiled attempt to intimidate, frighten and shame women who are seeking an abortion....

"The American Cancer Society's reputation as a source of information for the public is just critical to our mission. We're not going to mislead people about this," said Mary Coyne, a board member of the society's Texas division. "We spend $100 million a year on research. We know what we're talking about. There is just no research that supports this claim."

Women will also be shown photographs approximating what their fetus looks like. The law specifies that they must be color photographs. Democrats were defeated in trying to exempt victims of rape or incest from having to see the photos.

dystopia 1:09 PM - [Link]

Both Parties Cater to Biggest Backers

No big surprise, but the Houston Chronicle gives some juicy details from documents released in lawsuits over campaign finance law:

"As we briefly discussed, there is an issue before Congress of significant importance to our company and industry -- repeal of the Public Utility Holding Act of 1935," Lupberger wrote, with a copy sent to then-Republican National Committee Chairman Haley Barbour.

Months later, in September, DeLay went to the floor of the House and urged his colleagues to support legislation that he was introducing to deregulate the utility industry and repeal the act...

The letter is one of dozens of documents showing how the Democratic and Republican parties offer special access -- and sometimes promotion -- to big corporate donors.

That's one of the reasons why I'm not a Democrat, either.

dystopia 12:50 PM - [Link]


No Sign of Terrorism in Yale Classroom Blast

In what way is detonating a bomb in a public place not terrorism?

dystopia 12:34 PM - [Link]

Afghans' Uranium Levels Spark Alert

Research being done in Afghanistan by the Uranium Medical Research Center turned up some horrifying results. They've found no evidence of DU so far, but the levels of uranium contamination in humans suggest that we used radioactive uranium in some of the bombs we dropped over there. From BBC News:

"Without exception, every person donating urine specimens tested positive for uranium internal contamination.

"The results were astounding: the donors presented concentrations of toxic and radioactive uranium isotopes between 100 and 400 times greater than in the Gulf veterans tested in 1999.

"If UMRC's Nangarhar findings are corroborated in other communities across Afghanistan, the country faces a severe public health disaster... Every subsequent generation is at risk."

Any troops who fought in Afghanistan and aid workers based there since the war would also appear to be at risk of radioactive contamination. Is anyone testing them?

dystopia 11:51 AM - [Link]

Today in Dystopian History: May 22

1856: Southern Congressman Preston Brooks savagely beat Northern Senator Charles Sumner in the halls of Congress as tensions rose over the expansion of slavery.

1872: Congress passed the Amnesty Act, which removed the voting and office-holding disqualification from virtually all former Confederates.

1949: Former Secretary of Defense James Forrestal fell out of a 16th floor window at Bethesda Naval Hospital with a bathrobe cord knotted tightly around his neck.

1957: A B-36 bomber accidentally dropped a 10-megaton hydrogen bomb near Albuquerque, NM, which detonated on impact, leaving a 12' by 25' radioactive crater.

1968: The nuclear-powered submarine Scorpion, with 99 men on board, lost contact. The remains of the sub were later found on the ocean floor 400 miles southwest of the Azores.

1975: Senator Frank Church described CIA Director William Colby's testimony before the Rockefeller Commission as "candid, but chilling."

1977: President Carter disparaged the "inordinate fear of communism which once led us to embrace any dictator who joined us in that fear."

1997: Kelly Flinn, the Air Force's first female bomber pilot certified for combat, accepted a general discharge and avoided a court-martial on charges of adultery, lying and disobeying an order.

1998: New information two years after the June 1996 Khobar Towers bombing that killed 19 American airmen indicated that Saudi citizens had been responsible and not Iranians as once believed.

dystopia 10:36 AM - [Link]

Wednesday, May 21, 2003

Everglades Whenever

Matt Bivens of the Daily Outrage has an excellent post on the Everglades, politics and power.

A couple of related article in today's Miami Herald:

Criticized Glades Bill Signed by Bush
Governor Tries to Prevent Publicity Nightmare

dystopia 6:42 PM - [Link]

Color Coding Scheme a Farce

A resourceful Daily Kos reader correlated the dates of each change announced in the color-coded alert system with the dates of terrorist attacks that have taken place since 9/11:

9.11.01: WTC And Pentagon Attacks (3,044 dead)
3.12.02: DHS's Homeland Security Advisory System established, alert set to Elevated
9.10.02: Alert changed to High
9.24.02: Alert changed to Elevated
4.11.02: Tunisian Synagogue Truck Bomb (20 dead)
5.8.02: Karachi Suicide Bomber (15 dead)
6.14.02: Karachi Car Bombing (11 dead)
10.6.02: French Tanker Bombing (1 dead)
10.12.02: Bali Bombing (185 dead)
11.28.02: Mombasa Bombing (15+ dead)
2.7.03: Alert changed to High
2.27.03: Alert changed to Elevated
3.17.03: Alert changed to High
4.16.03: Alert changed to Elevated
5.12.03: Riyadh Bombing (29+ dead)
5.16.03: Casablanca Bombing (41 dead)
5.20.03: Alert changed to High

Kos has been thinking about national security in relation to the 2004 elections.

dystopia 5:18 PM - [Link]

Dead Marine's Father Angry at Bush

A grief-stricken Wisconsin man was interviewed about the loss of his son, who was killed earlier this week in Iraq, in the Capital Times:

The father said he was angry at President Bush and disagreed with the war.

"He put our troops over there to finish what his dad didn't do. They found no weapons of mass destruction," said the father, who retired after 26 years of active Army and National Guard duty...

Straseskie's father said his son wanted to follow in his family's warrior footsteps. The elder Straseskie said both he and his father served in the US Army, and his father was wounded during fighting in the Philippines in World War II.

dystopia 3:26 PM - [Link]

AES Colluded with Enron to Rig Auction

Another example of the energy industry's greed revealed. This time it was the people of Brazil who got screwed, per the Financial Times:

The back-room agreement was struck in 1998 but has only now come to light. It reveals that collusion between US energy companies, such as that which exacerbated the California energy crisis, was not confined to the US.

The findings of the
FT investigation into the deals struck between Enron and AES come as Enron is about to bundle its overseas interests into a separate company, InternationalCo, in an attempt to salvage whatever possible from the energy trader's collapse.

AES, meanwhile, is seeking to renegotiate the loans it used to buy Eletropaulo five years ago. AES defaulted on its $1.2bn loan earlier this year.

dystopia 2:41 PM - [Link]

EPA Administrator Resigns

I'd be a lot more excited about Christine Todd Whitman's resignation if I didn't know they'll replace her with someone just as useless, or worse, someone like Gale Norton.

dystopia 2:28 PM - [Link]

Soros to Monitor US Use of Iraqi Oil

Via Reuters:

Billionaire investor and philanthropist George Soros said on Tuesday he was setting up a watchdog group to guard against any abuses in how the United States manages Iraq's oil resources while it occupies Baghdad...

Citing reports that a handful of US corporations were winning huge reconstruction contracts from Washington without competitive bidding, Soros said many people around the world feared the United States might abuse its authority while it and close ally Britain occupied post-war Iraq.

"It is very much in the interest of the United States to allay these fears, and we want to help," he said.

He expressed his view on the Iraq War in the Philadelphia Inquirer last month:

Instead of acting like the world's greatest power, the United States is acting out of fear, he said.

"We are acting like a nation that is fighting for its survival and not like the leader of the global capitalist system that has a responsibility for making the system work better," Soros said. "We are still in pursuit of dominance instead of living up to the responsibilities that dominance imposes. I believe that is how the terrorists wanted us to act. After all, their aim is to destroy the system - killing innocent people is only the means..."

"How can we escape from the trap that the terrorists have set us," he asked. "Only by recognizing that the war on terrorism cannot be won by waging war. We must, of course, protect our security; but we must also correct the grievances on which terrorism feeds."

Some good articles on Soros here. Visit his website, the Open Society Institute, to see what else he's been up to. If you like mavericks, you'll love this guy.

dystopia 1:56 PM - [Link]

Anti-Terror Surveillance Worries Some

Partisan groups and individuals from across the political spectrum are teaming up to question the Bush administration's penchant for privacy-invading projects, per the Charlotte Observer:

"What most Americans don't know is that the laws that protect consumer privacy don't apply when the data gets into the government's hands," Wyden said in an interview Tuesday. "Lawfully collected information can include anything, medical records, travel, credit card and financial data."

Wyden and Sens. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., and Russell Feingold, D-Wis., said they would fight to retain, and even expand, tight control of the data-mining and analysis software being developed by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency.

The new name may make the project sound less like the totalitarian government in George Orwell's novel "1984," Leahy said, but he added, "Before we start pulling people off airplanes and denying them jobs based on large-scale data-mining, we need to know whether this technology will generate too few solid leads at the cost of too many false alarms and ruined reputations."

They've even got the Free Congress Foundation and the Eagle Forum stirred up, which is very encouraging. At this rate, this administration will have offended in some manner every voter in the country who's not connected with a defense contractor or the energy industry by Election Day, 2004.

Today's Observer also has a good article on grassroots resistance to the Patriot Act.

dystopia 1:21 PM - [Link]

Jayson Blair

My one and only post on the Blair-NY Times fiasco: Aaron McGruder said all that needs to be said in today's Boondocks.

dystopia 1:00 PM - [Link]

Fresh Atrocities in DR Congo

All hell is breaking loose in Bunia. Civilians are suffering while ethnic militias threaten genocide. I like to believe you've been keeping up but, just in case you haven't, here's the current situation from BBC News:

The health clinic by the compound is crammed with people suffering from the most appalling injuries, she says...

There have also been reports of cannibalism, and witnesses have reported seeing fighters in Bunia with human organs draped on their weapons,
AP said...

There are about 700 Uruguayan soldiers in Bunia, but they have neither the mandate nor the numbers to stop the fighting or prevent atrocities against civilians. posted an informative article on this five-year civil war from last Sunday's Johannesburg Times.

dystopia 12:27 PM - [Link]

Normalization of Defect

According to, Columbia accident investigators say NASA didn't know pieces of foam insulation were breaking off space shuttle fuel tanks so often at liftoff or that the material was full of flaws:

Foam flaking off from all over the tank left dozens of pockmarks each flight on the thermal tiles that cover much of the shuttle, Turcotte said. The 2-pound, suitcase-size piece of foam that smashed into Columbia's wing shortly after liftoff in January was twice the size of what came off during Atlantis' liftoff three months earlier and gouged one of the booster rockets.

As part of the investigation, the board examined a fuel tank nearly identical to Columbia's and discovered numerous air pockets and other flaws in the same area where the foam broke off. Turcotte said dozens of defects were found that could have caused the foam to pop off during liftoff.

Turcotte said the board is looking into how NASA came to accept such defects over years and then decades.

I can answer that one: Lackofaccountabilityitis.

dystopia 12:03 PM - [Link]

Environmentalists Outbid Rancher for Land Lease


The Forest Guardians now plan to kick cattle off 162 acres near Elgin, in Santa Cruz County, and use their 10-year lease to restore the Babocomari River's cottonwood-willow forest, which they say overgrazing has damaged...

Based in Santa Fe, NM, the Forest Guardians had tried to place bids on the property since 1997. Its applications were repeatedly rejected by the State Land Department.

Late last year, the Arizona Supreme Court ruled that those with no intention of raising livestock could submit bids for such state-controlled property.

I bet Ethlyn is pissed. Woo-hooooo! Go, Guardians!

dystopia 11:53 AM - [Link]

Destroy Order Reportedly Sent in Texas

A short e-mail, obtained by the Fort Worth Star-Telegram under the Texas Open Records Act, ordered the Texas Department of Public Safety to destroy all records gathered in the search for Democratic legislators who fled the state. They did. From ABC News:

The order, addressed to "Captains," stated: "Any notes, correspondence, photos, etc. that were obtained pursuant to the absconded House of Representative members shall be destroyed immediately. No copies are to be kept."

It was signed by the commander of the DPS Special Crimes Service, L.C. Marshall, the newspaper reported Wednesday...

Texas law generally requires that records be kept for a period of time, but it was unclear how those guidelines would affect DPS' actions. A spokeswoman for GOP Attorney General Greg Abbott said it would be a crime to destroy records that had been requested under the Texas Open Records Act.

dystopia 11:36 AM - [Link]

Today in Dystopian History: May 21

1542: Spanish conquistador Hernando de Soto died on the banks of the Mississippi River in present-day Louisiana, ending a three-year journey for gold that took him halfway across what is now the United States.

1856: Pro-slavery Sheriff Samuel J Jones and his men looted and vandalized Lawrence, KS, destroying presses and office equipment of the two newspapers, and burning the governor's house.

1934: Oskaloosa, IA, became the first city in the US to fingerprint all of its citizens.

1956: The US exploded the first airborne hydrogen bomb over the Bikini Atoll in the Pacific.

1961: Governor Patterson declared martial law in Montgomery, AL.

1969: A US military command spokesman in Saigon defended the battle for Ap Bia Mountain as having been necessary to stop enemy infiltration and protect the city of Hue after the battle, nicknamed "Hamburger Hill," came under attack in Congress from Sen Kennedy, who described the action as "senseless and irresponsible."

1970: The National Guard was called out to quell disturbances at Ohio State University.

1998: Five abortion clinics were hit by a butyric acid attacker in Miami, FL.

dystopia 10:48 AM - [Link]

Tuesday, May 20, 2003

Embed Catches Heat

A journalist reviews reader mail on his war reporting from Iraq, in Editor & Publisher:

One woman even suggested I start watching more Fox TV to get an unbiased view of the war. I resisted the urge to tell her that the TV reception was miserable in the back of the armored personnel carrier in which I was riding.

The criticism was not limited to me. They even criticized soldiers for doing what all soldiers do - complain. When I voiced complaints from soldiers about lack of mail, water, and spare parts, they were called "whiners" and "crybabies." And when I quoted one soldier who had been under fire almost daily for four weeks complaining about faulty intelligence, one reader suggested he be stripped of his uniform and sent home in disgrace.

dystopia 4:17 PM - [Link]

Scarborough Gets Danny Glover Fired

He crows about it here.

I've got two words for Scarborough: Lori Klausutis.

dystopia 4:00 PM - [Link]

Spy Machine of DARPA's Dreams

An intro to one of the Pentagon's creepy new projects, LifeLog, from Wired News:

The Pentagon is about to embark on a stunningly ambitious research project designed to gather every conceivable bit of information about a person's life, index all the information and make it searchable. What national security experts and civil libertarians want to know is, why would the Defense Department want to do such a thing?

The embryonic LifeLog program would dump everything an individual does into a giant database: every e-mail sent or received, every picture taken, every Web page surfed, every phone call made, every TV show watched, every magazine read.

All of this -- and more -- would combine with information gleaned from a variety of sources: a GPS transmitter to keep tabs on where that person went, audio-visual sensors to capture what he or she sees or says, and biomedical monitors to keep track of the individual's health.

They're pouring an awful lot of our tax money into this sort of thing:

Pentagon System Hopes to Identify Walks
Big Brother is Tracking You, Without a Warrant

dystopia 3:09 PM - [Link]

Mad Cow Disease Reported in Canada

Bad news from CNN Money:

"It was (detected) just a few days ago. The actual test was taken Jan. 31 from a cow in Fairview, Alberta," the official said. "It's just one isolated case of an eight-year-old cow..."

We've banned British beef imports since 1989, but we've had cases of various forms of Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease in humans and chronic wasting disease in deer, both similar to BSE. The Columbus Dispatch reported on an Ohio man's death in 2000:

Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease is diagnosed in about one in a million people nationwide each year. It affects both men and women of diverse ethnic backgrounds.

Most cases -- about 85 percent to 90 percent -- are considered sporadic, meaning there is no known source and no evidence that it is inherited.

About 10 percent of cases are inherited, with genetic factors...

A very small percentage of the illness is thought to have been passed along through a medical procedure, including cornea transplants and implants of electrodes in the brain; contaminated surgical instruments; and the injection of natural human-growth hormone derived from cadavers.

The Ohio victim received a cornea transplant 12 years before his death, reminding us of the significance of this:

FDA Criticized for Delay in Regulating Tissues

dystopia 2:37 PM - [Link]

Helping Binyam, When His Mother Won't

Nicholas Kristof reports on what can happen when humanitarian aid efforts focus on relief, instead of on long-term development:

What breaks your heart is the sight of healthy parents cradling skeletal children...Trying to puzzle out how this could happen, I asked how the family ate.

"The man eats first, and then the children and the wife eat together," Mr. Loka explained. Others confirm that across rural Ethiopia, the father eats first and the mother and children get leftovers — with the smallest kids mostly squeezed out. To address that problem, we need not just more food but, above all, education, so that, as in Ethiopia's cities, families eat together and understand the need to look out for their youngest members...

I talked to members of one family who were hungry because their crops had failed from the drought, just 100 yards from a lake. Why hadn't they irrigated? The risk of being stomped by hippos was one factor, but another was that carrying water is women's work and tending the fields is men's work, and this cultural impasse left them stymied — and starving.

Another problem is that food aid solves immediate problems but adds to the underlying one. US gifts of grain save lives — but also lower local food prices. This reduces incentives for farmers and leaves them poorer, and thus arguably more vulnerable in the next famine.

dystopia 1:49 PM - [Link]

Nature Conservancy Does Damage Control

According to PRWatch's Spin of the Day, the Nature Conservancy is spinning like a top following the Washington Post's expose series:

The Post's multi-part article portrayed the environmental non-profit, which has $3 billion in assets, as a willing dealmaker for the benefit of its corporate supporters and trustees. According to O'Dwyer's PR Daily, the Arlington, VA-based group is desperate to avoid Congressional inquiry into its activities. The Nature Conservancy's PR strategy includes "Capitol Hill visits, calls to donors, third-party letters to newspapers, full-page advertisements and attempts to pacify charitable foundations, according to TNC documents obtained by the Post."

dystopia 1:21 PM - [Link]

What War Wrought

Cambodia is still littered with land mines and, as a result, has one of the highest ratio of amputees per capita in the world. Cambodians maimed by land mines are outcasts, living without help and with little hope. The NY Times reports on one group working together to help themselves:

For each ridge and furrow, legless and armless men have joined to lift and dig together. A few poor but uninjured men have been invited to live here in return for heavy labor.

The settlement, scattered across the hard, bare ground, does not look much like a village, and the small huts, empty of furnishings, do not look much like homes.

So far, their farms have produced little to feed their families, and nothing to sell. Some of the men have become scavengers, scouring the woods for edible leaves and tubers.

The amputees have not yet proved that they can succeed on their own. A few have already given up and returned to begging.

When Mr. Touch Seour Ly, their leader, describes their most urgent needs, his list could be summed up as: everything.

The Landmine Survivors Network reminds us that more than 135 nations have signed the Mine Ban Treaty. The United States has not.

dystopia 12:59 PM - [Link]

States to Seek Lower Drug Prices

Following Maine's successful Supreme Court ruling, more than 20 other states are ready to follow suit. From the Guardian:

Many of the people who need drug coverage are older Americans who rely on Medicare for health coverage, and while lawmakers have promised repeatedly to add drug coverage to Medicare, Congress still has not acted. Many state programs are geared specifically to help low-income seniors.

"We have been waiting a long time for Congress," said Sarah Lock, an attorney for AARP, the largest lobby group for older Americans. "States can't afford to take a pass and wait for Congress yet again."

Nationwide, drug prices have been rising by double-digit percentages annually.

Big Pharma's profits have been skyrocketing as well. Merck comes in at #17 on the 2003 Fortune 500 list, while pharmaceutical distributors Cardinal Health and McKesson come in at #19 and #20, respectively. Johnson & Johnson ranks #34 and Pfizer is #37. Bristol-Myers Squibb and Abbott Labs round out the top 100 highest-revenue companies in the nation.

How are they spending that revenue? Well, they spend a sliver on research; the rest goes to marketing, political donations, executive salaries and perks, and the bottom line. Go look at the 1999 breakdown of revenues of top pharmaceutical firms, then scroll down and see how much they paid their CEOs.

If you wonder what's taking Congress so long to act on prescription drug relief, go to Common Cause's Soft Money Laundromat and look up the pharmaceutical and medical supply industries. You'll find that 82 donors contributed $6.8 million to support Democrats and 183 donors gave $15.8 million to support Republicans between January 2001 and December 2002.

And then there are the nationwide multi-media advertising campaigns, which add mega-millions to the cost of prescription drugs.

They say drug prices are so high because research is so expensive. Yeah, whatever.

dystopia 12:05 PM - [Link]

Immune Group Raises AIDS Vaccine Hopes

Researchers report finding 28 people in Uganda who remain uninfected even though they have unprotected sex with HIV-positive partners, per the Guardian:

The Ugandan results suggest resistant individuals are a more widespread and significant phenomenon than first realised, researchers said.

They expect to cause a stir by calling on the scientific community to focus half of vaccine research on resistant individuals, a dramatic scaling up of what has been until now a minority interest...

Scientists are most excited by the minority of resistant partners who possess T-cells which kill cells infected with HIV in a narrow, targeted attack, unlike their partners whose immune systems launch wider, bigger - and unsuccessful - attacks.

dystopia 11:33 AM - [Link]

Washington's Weak Dollar Policy

Economist David Hale writes in the Financial Times:

The circumstances now confronting the US economy are unique in the modern era. The Federal Reserve has warned about the risk of deflation after a year in which the US dollar has fallen by nearly 30 per cent against many leading currencies. Despite the weakness of the currency, US Treasury bond yields have fallen to 45-year lows and are 37 basis points under the yields of German government debt.

The dollar's decline has been painless for US financial markets because investors are complacent about inflation. The failure of bond yields to rise has also produced a policy of benign neglect in Washington. Federal Reserve officials say the falling dollar is a European problem, not a US one. John Snow, the US Treasury secretary, effectively abandoned the previous administration's strong dollar policy over the weekend by issuing his own definition of what constitutes a strong currency. It does not include market prices.

dystopia 11:05 AM - [Link]

Today in Dystopian History: May 20

1774: Britain's Parliament passed the Coercive Acts to punish the American colonists for their increasingly anti-British behavior.

1862: Congress passed the Homestead Act, allowing adults over the age of 21, male or female, to claim 160 acres of land from the public domain. Eligible persons had to cultivate the land and improve it by building a barn or house, and live on the claim for five years, at which time the land became theirs with a $10 filing fee.

1956: The US conducted the first airborne test of an improved hydrogen bomb, dropping it from a plane over the tiny island of Namu in the Bikini Atoll.

1960: Six months before John F Kennedy, a Roman Catholic, was elected president, the Southern Baptist Convention condemned the election of Catholics to public office.

1961: A white mob attacked a bus of "Freedom Riders" in Montgomery, AL, causing the government to send in US marshals to restore order.

1969: US and South Vietnamese forces captured Ap Bia Mountain, referred to as "Hamburger Hill" by the Americans, following one of the bloodiest battles of the Vietnam War.

1985: The Dow Jones industrial average broke the 1300 mark for the first time.

1991: The American Red Cross announced measures aimed at screening blood more carefully for the AIDS virus.

1996: The Supreme Court voted 6 to 3 to strike down an amendment to Colorado's state constitution that would have prevented any city, town, or county in the state from taking any legislative, executive, or judicial action to protect the rights of homosexuals.

dystopia 10:11 AM - [Link]

Monday, May 19, 2003

Happy Day

Had a great day yesterday planting, pruning and puttering around the yard with DH. I'm so blissed out I've already been through my daily newspaper cruise and nothing struck my outrage bone. Not hard enough to post about, anyway.

I just can't summon the will to be mad at anyone today. Go see some pictures of my garden.

ON EDIT: Just went out to take more pictures and interrupted some bluejays teaching their little ones how to fly. My bliss factor soared.

The bluejays were very unhappy with my presence, so I took a few pictures and left them alone.

dystopia 12:13 PM - [Link]

Today in Dystopian History: May 19

1796: The first US game law was approved, calling for penalties for hunting or destroying game within Indian territory.

1836: Commanche, Kiowa, and Caddo Indians in Texas kidnapped 9-year-old Cynthia Ann Parker and killed her family. Adopted into the Commanche tribe, she stayed with them for 25 years and lived a happy life until she was recaptured in 1860 and forced to live again among the whites. Weakened by self-imposed starvation, she died of influenza in 1870.

1858: A pro-slavery band executed unarmed Free State men near Marais des Cygnes on the Kansas-Missouri border.

1913: The Republican-controlled California legislature passed the Webb Alien Landholding Act, forbidding land ownership in the state by persons of Japanese descent.

1920: The Battle of Matewan took place in West Virginia when thirteen detectives arrived to evict miners and their families from their homes in the Stone Mountain coal mining camp.

1921: Congress passed the Emergency Quota Act, setting up quotas for immigrants.

1952: Lillian Hellman advised the House Committee on Un-American Activities that she refused to testify against friends and associates, saying: "I cannot and will not cut my conscience to fit this year's fashions."

1954: The Postmaster General acceded to President Eisenhower's request to allow the CIA to routinely open mail sent by and to Americans.

1967: The Soviet Union ratified a treaty with the US and Britain banning nuclear weapons from outer space.

1992: The 27th Amendment to the Constitution, which prohibits Congress from giving itself midterm pay raises, went into effect.

1992: Vice President Dan Quayle criticized the CBS sitcom "Murphy Brown" for having its title character decide to bear a child out of wedlock.

dystopia 10:06 AM - [Link]

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Is It Over Yet?


Mark Fiore's Animated Political Cartoons



Puppet Man

Rumsfeld Invaders


Sheep Game

Snowball Fight

Spaced Penguin

The Onion

Unofficial Official Simulator


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)