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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 31, 2003

Pentagon Asks Bank to Stand Down

Via the St Petersburg Times, the Pentagon asked Bank of America to quit dunning US troops who are past due on their government-issued credit card payments:

The Pentagon's check-writing office has fallen behind in reimbursing travel and other expenses for about 23,000 Army reservists and members of the Army National Guard, including reservists deployed at the Central Command in Tampa.

Pentagon officials blame the backlog on the scope of the war on terror.

As a result, some reservists have been unable to pay their credit card bills, prompting bank representatives to call repeatedly asking for payment.

I first learned about the BOA credit cards last summer from a Village Voice article:

Just in the past year, the names of more than 10,000 military personnel have been reported to national credit bureaus as "credit risks," according to the Military Times...since October, the Pentagon has garnished over $19.5 million from military paychecks to pay off "delinquent" GTC bills, according to DOD accountants...

"It's a pathetic situation when soldiers are forced to buy into a system that's likely to screw them personally," says Danielle Brian, executive director of the
Project on Government Oversight, a DC group. "This is just another example where the Pentagon has conjured up a scam with a favorite contractor..."

More unsettling, the GTC program may turn out to be highly illegal. All employees of the executive branch are required to apply for them; all servicepeople are ordered to do it. But using a military order to force a serviceman or servicewoman into a private contract—against his or her will—is a clear violation of basic contract law...forcing military personnel to personally front the government money for travel expenses and subject their personal "creditworthiness" to the whims of the Pentagon's sluggish accounting system could potentially violate private property rights, which are protected—even for servicepeople—under the Fifth Amendment.

I don't think many civilians have any idea this is going on. If you read the article, you'll find out what happened to one Air Force colonel who wouldn't cooperate.

dystopia 1:11 PM - [Link]

Tulsa Race Riot of 1921

The largest race riot in US history broke out 82 years ago today, after a white woman claimed that a black man grabbed her arm in an elevator. A mob of whites subsequently looted and burned Tulsa's Greenwood district, known as the "Black Wall Street," leveling 35 city blocks of black-owned businesses. The official death toll was reported at 36, but historians estimate the toll at more like 300 dead.

I grew up in and around Tulsa, but it wasn't until I was in my mid-twenties that I first learned about this riot, from a commemorative book my mom bought on the history of the Tulsa police department. Horrifying story; horrifying pictures. I was shocked that I'd never known anything about it before, especially since it happened in my own hometown. It was one of my first clues that there might be a lot more to American history than what was in my textbooks at school.

Tim Madigan expresses some potent thoughts on modern America's ignorance of our own violent history here.

The Black Holocaust Society has more info on the Tulsa riot and on other acts of racial violence in 20th-century America.

dystopia 11:52 AM - [Link]

Today in Dystopian History: May 31

1539: Spanish explorer Hernando de Soto landed near Tampa, FL, with men, animals, and equipment to scour the southeast in search of gold and valuables.

1620: The Virginia Company discussed using Virginia and Bermuda as bases for piracy against the Spanish. The colonists welcomed pirates for the "comodities they bringe unto them..."

1779: Gen Washington ordered Iroquois Indians suppressed in response to their alliance with Great Britain; a scorched-earth policy followed.

1889: About 2,200 people died as the South Fork Dam, long in a state of disrepair, finally broke, unleashing a 30-foot wall of water on the city of Johnstown, PA.

1900: US troops arrived in Peking to help put down the Boxer Rebellion.

1913: The 17th Amendment to the Constitution, allowing for popular election of senators, went into effect.

1940: President Roosevelt introduced a "billion-dollar defense program" which was designed to boost US military strength significantly.

1955: The Supreme Court ordered school integration "with all deliberate speed."

1996: Kathie Lee Gifford appeared at a press conference to talk about the proliferation of sweatshops, following the embarrassing discovery that her line of Wal-Mart clothing was partially produced in them.

2002: FBI Agent Robert Wright used words like prevented, thwarted, obstructed, threatened, intimidated, and retaliation to describe in a press conference the actions of his superiors in blocking his attempts to shut off cash flowing to Al Qaeda and other terrorist groups.

dystopia 10:49 AM - [Link]

Friday, May 30, 2003

Too Much Communication for the FCC

Ha! The best news I've heard in a while, from CNN Money:

The Federal Communications Commission has received so many public comments on its Web sites regarding Monday's vote on media ownership consolidation that the agency is having "problems" with its server, an FCC official said Friday.

And the messages aren't just coming via e-mails. The official said the FCC is experiencing problems with their voice comment phone line, which has also been swamped.

dystopia 6:21 PM - [Link]

$44 Trillion?

Cooler heads prevail: Calpundit takes a closer look at yesterday's Financial Times article.

dystopia 5:46 PM - [Link]

GM Campaign Attempts to Come Clean

Oh, gag a maggot! GM won't be admitting anything that will get them into any trouble, of course. The Washington Post explains:

Instead, GM is coming clean on what most of us already know. In the 1970s and 1980s, the company made some pretty lousy cars. Those include the hapless 1978 Buick Apollo, the feckless 1980s GM X cars (Chevrolet Citation, Buick Skylark and Oldsmobile Omega), and the absolutely inexcusable 1986 Cadillac Cimarron, which was a misguided attempt to turn a Chevrolet Cavalier economy car into a luxury automobile.

Ah, those mess-ups also include GM's ill-fated 1980s attempt to convert gasoline engines into diesel engines. That was a doozy!

The result of those errors is that millions of buyers dumped those GM clunkers and never came back. By GM's estimate, 40 percent of the US auto buying population won't even consider one of the company's cars or trucks-not even with generous sales incentives.

I've had way too many headaches with their crappy disposable cars already. I'm done.

dystopia 4:43 PM - [Link]

Save Our Spooks

Nicholas Kristof just introduced me to the Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity:

"The American people were manipulated," bluntly declares one person from the Defense Intelligence Agency who says he was privy to all the intelligence there on Iraq. These people are coming forward because they are fiercely proud of the deepest ethic in the intelligence world — that such work should be nonpolitical — and are disgusted at efforts to turn them into propagandists...

"While there have been occasions in the past when intelligence has been deliberately warped for political purposes," the letter said, "never before has such warping been used in such a systematic way to mislead our elected representatives into voting to authorize launching a war..."

"I've never heard this level of alarm before," said Larry Johnson, who used to work in the CIA and State Department. "It is a misuse and abuse of intelligence. The president was being misled. He was ill served by the folks who are supposed to protect him on this. Whether this was witting or unwitting, I don't know, but I'll give him the benefit of the doubt."

It's not terribly reassuring when even the spooks are freaked out, is it?

dystopia 4:18 PM - [Link]

Metals in Air Aggravate Asthma and Allergies

A study by the EPA, in conjunction with some German researchers, found that microscopic pieces of metals in air pollution aggravate asthma and allergies. From the LA Times:

Evidence has been mounting in recent years that soot — ultra-fine particles of pollution — aggravates asthma and allergies. The new study implicates a specific ingredient of the soot — metals, such as zinc, copper, tin and cadmium. The metals are most often found in emissions from factories and coal-burning plants...

Apparently, tiny pieces of metals cause airways to become inflamed, restricting the flow of air that reaches the lungs. Such symptoms can lead to asthma attacks. The metals also increased the animals' sensitivity to common allergens — substances such as dust or pollen that cause allergic symptoms...

Scientists have been trying to figure out why deaths from respiratory and heart diseases increase on days when particle pollution worsens. The phenomenon occurs around the world. Some researchers have suspected that metals in the air are responsible, and the new findings, published in the journal
Environmental Health Perspectives, bolster that theory.

dystopia 3:48 PM - [Link]

Schering-Plough Might Face Charges

A grand jury convened in Boston to investigate the Claritin maker's sales and pricing practices and document destruction, per the Financial Times:

The US drugmaker said the government had "substantial evidence to support" its case. Federal prosecutors allege that a Schering-Plough unit induced drug sales with gifts or services; promoted drugs for uses not approved by regulators; defrauded federal health care programmes with inflated pricing; and obstructed the investigation...

Federal prosecutors in Boston, including Michael Sullivan, the chief US attorney there, have built a reputation for investigating drug industry fraud. The office had recovered 30 per cent of all healthcare fraud settlements, or $1.54bn, up to September 2001, according to a
Boston Globe study.

dystopia 3:07 PM - [Link]

Rumsfeld Trying to Make Foreign Policy

Also via Cursor, it's not just me--Rummy's been getting on other peoples' nerves, too. From

The officials said Bush himself had to quash a Rumsfeld proposal last month to send Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz to South Korea to announce that the United States was pulling American troops off the Demilitarized Zone that separates North and South Korea...

From his first days in office, Rumsfeld has inundated Washington with a blizzard of memos regarding foreign policy, not usually the responsibility of a defense secretary.

"There are literally thousands of them," said one frequent recipient of Rumsfeld's foreign policy ideas and advice. "The theme is control. He wants everyone to have to play on his field."

Some pre-9/11 links offer some insight on the Rumster:

Some Speculations on the Return of Rumsfeld
Will Don Rumsfeld Quietly Fade Away?
Darth Rumsfeld
Rumsfeld's Lonely, Losing Battle

Rummy might not be willing to admit that he hit the jackpot on 9/11, but he did.

dystopia 2:41 PM - [Link]

Where Eagles Soar

Via Cursor, Mike Taibbi reports what happened when he nearly crossed paths with Ashcroft in Buffalo, in the NY Press:

"You’re going to have to stand back," he said. "We have to take precautions, in case you were thinking of throwing acid on the attorney general."

I shook my head, stunned and amused. "In case we decided to throw acid on the attorney general? Specifically in case of that?"

"That’s right," he said, folding his arms, "In case you decided to throw acid at the attorney general."

We backed up, and finally were backed out of sight. I’d hoped to get within smelling distance of Ashcroft, but I never got to see him again at all. I wondered whether people often tried to throw acid on Ashcroft, or whether this particular SS man was just insane. Both were very provocative possibilities. I’ll never know the truth; the only clues to the mystery of the inner John Ashcroft are the ones he offers himself. Of course, those are strange enough.


First learned about Ashcroft's attack the Alien Tort Claims Act two weeks ago from an Asia Times article. The Washington Post is finally reporting on it today.

dystopia 2:07 PM - [Link]

School Lunches to Feature Irradiated Burgers

According to, the feds have started taking bids from suppliers of irradiated meat for the school lunch program:

Research shows that most of the radiation passes through without being absorbed. The small amount that does remain kills the bacteria.

It's that "small amount that does remain" that gives me pause. Here's what Public Citizen thinks about it:

Because federal law does not require labeling of irradiated food served in schools, restaurants, hospitals and similar venues, irradiated meat served in school cafeterias need not be labeled. This makes it impossible for parents to know what school cafeterias are feeding their children and is a blatant violation of parents’ right to know...

Irradiation is not an acceptable antidote for food safety problems. From strengthening government meat inspection to addressing the appalling disrepair in many school cafeterias, there is much that should be done to improve the safety of food served to our nation’s children at school. But using the purchasing power of the federal government to bail out a struggling industry and serving this questionable product to children have no place in a sensible food safety plan.

I tend to agree.

dystopia 11:55 AM - [Link]

20 Days in Spring 2003

Outstanding. I think I'll send a fan letter, and I never do that:

A book created over a 20 day period in the spring of 2003 as a response to the US invasion of Iraq. It is simply one US citizen's outlet for feelings of frustration, disbelief and impotence in the face of a war that should not have happened...

Okay, well, I would send a fan letter, but I can't find an e-mail address on the site. I would have said in my e-mail that I thought the piece was powerful and very well done, and I would have been able to mention privately that there's an "h" in Afghanistan. I would also have said "Thank You" for making it available online. It's a keeper.

dystopia 11:07 AM - [Link]

Today in Dystopian History: May 30

1741: Thirteen black men were burned at the stake and 18 black men, two white men and two white women were hanged after being accused of planning a slave revolt in New York City.

1822: A slave reported a planned insurrection involving thousands of free and enslaved blacks in and around Charleston, planned by Denmark Vesey. Of the 131 slaves arrested in the plot, 35 were executed, including Vesey, and 43 were deported.

1854: The Kansas-Nebraska Act repealed the Missouri Compromise and opened the Northern Territory to slavery.

1921: President Warren G Harding, in a move subsequently deemed illegal by the Supreme Court, transferred the Teapot Dome oil reserves to the Department of the Interior.

1922: The Lincoln Memorial was dedicated; black officials at the opening ceremony were segregated from whites.

1934: Congress passed a bill authorizing the establishment of Everglades National Park, but the "alligator and snake swamp bill" stalled during the Depression and WWII. President Truman finally dedicated the park in 1947.

1937: Police killed 10 workers, wounded 30 and beat 55 so badly they were hospitalized during the Memorial Day Massacre at the Republic Steel plant in Chicago.

1989: Speaker of the House Jim Wright, accused of ethical problems over royalties from a book, became the first Speaker to resign. Pushing the investigation into Wright's ethics problems was Newt Gingrich.

2002: Democratic senators accused the DOJ of failing to address allegations of illegal purges of voter lists and the denial of voting rights to minorities in the 2000 presidential election in Florida.

dystopia 10:11 AM - [Link]

Thursday, May 29, 2003

Voting Machine Reader

I'll get down on my knees and beg if I have to. Please, please read all of this page. It's a long one, but it's about one of the most critical issues we're facing right now and it gets very little press coverage.

Follow the links, all of them. Bookmark. Study. Get yourself thoroughly educated on this issue, and start hollering about it every chance you get.

If the main link is expired, try these:

Black Box Voting
Cronus Connection
Electronic Voting
Secretive World of Voting Machines

Bev added this quip by three-time Louisiana governor Earl Long:

Gimme five (electoral) commissioners, and I'll make them voting machines sing "Home Sweet Home."

Uh-huh. And that was before we got the new electronic ones. These'll sing you an entire Broadway musical score if you want.

dystopia 4:17 PM - [Link]

What a Tangled Web We Weave

This round's on Billmon at the Whiskey Bar.

dystopia 3:56 PM - [Link]

Upcoming Ads Get Tough on Murdoch

Common Cause and are teaming up to target the Aussie Menace in a new public awareness campaign, per AdWeek:

A series of TV and print ads asserting that News Corp owner Rupert Murdoch wants complete control of US media will launch this week...

The TV spot focuses on Murdoch and a channel surfer's inability to get the octogenarian media mogul off his screen regardless of which channel he visits. A voiceover then declares, "On June 2nd, the Republicans on the FCC plan to get rid of an important regulation so that Rupert Murdoch can buy more TV stations, radio stations and newspapers, giving him control over much of the news you hear." The spot ends with the tagline, "This monopoly is no game."

dystopia 3:26 PM - [Link]

Bush Filling Key Slots with True Believers

Mike Allen offers some food for thought on the Bush administration's large number of relatively young and inexperienced staff appointees in the Washington Post:

President Bush is quietly retooling the White House staff for his reelection campaign by promoting a group of young loyalists to key positions, further concentrating power with the handful of veteran advisers closest to him...

"He keeps promoting people up from the farm club to jobs that once were reserved for giants...That means a relatively green team, but one that will take direction from the coach. It could be interpreted as a sign of extraordinary hubris."

Aides said Bush's preference for promoting from within gives him a hardworking, committed team beholden only to him, without their own agendas. But other people close to Bush used the term "echo chamber" as they described their worry that a culture so driven by "loyalty for loyalty's sake" could produce a White House that was deaf to brewing political or governing crises.

dystopia 2:35 PM - [Link]

Bureaucratic War

Via Reuters:

"For bureaucratic reasons, we settled on one issue, weapons of mass destruction, because it was the one reason everyone could agree on," Wolfowitz was quoted as saying in Vanity Fair magazine's July issue.


Wolfowitz said another reason for the invasion had been "almost unnoticed but huge" -- namely that the ousting of Saddam would allow the United States to remove its troops from Saudi Arabia, where their presence had long been a major al Qaeda grievance.

That isn't, like, appeasement or anything, is it? 'Cause I know "appeasement" is a dirty word with this bunch, and surely they wouldn't want to appease somebody like bin Laden.

dystopia 2:05 PM - [Link]

S&L Looting Review

The last item I posted reminded me of this little nugget of buried American history because it was about Republicans and financial institutions, which don't seem to mix well, or not to our benefit, anyway. Had to go digging through my older files to find Franklin's website again.

Do you remember the massive looting of the savings & loans that took place during the 1980s? And the bailouts that broke the federal budget so that Poppy Bush was forced to (*gasp*) raise taxes? If you need a refresher, go read about the watchdog that didn't bark. Franklin's font style is a little, um, emotional, but I've had a year to check out his info and there's quite a bit of meat there.

Do you know where it all started? It was the Garn-St Germain Depository Institutions Act of 1982 that broke the piggybank wide open.

You can find lists of failed S&Ls here and here; I tried running some of the S&L names and locations through a search engine and hit the jackpot. Came up with all kinds of shameful info--old newspaper articles, legal documents, etc. Lots of well-known names, like Neil Bush, and lots of currently-active political types, like Henry Hyde, who walked away with millions of taxpayer dollars. Each.

Here's an index of Franklin's files on this and some other important topics, if you're on the research trail looking for clues.

dystopia 1:38 PM - [Link]

Ashcroft Accused of Blocking Queries in Fraud Case

A motion was filed accusing the DOJ of prosecutorial misconduct in a bank fraud case involving a sitting US congressman. From the Wilmington Star :

Cagle submitted forged documents to obtain $1.3 million in loans from the Asheville bank, where Taylor, R-NC, is board chairman. Taylor, who founded the bank in 1978, has not been charged with any crime. He is a member of the House Appropriations Committee, which helps budget federal spending.

Cagle and Hayes Martin, Blue Ridge Savings' former president, have pleaded guilty to bank fraud and testified against Jones as part of plea agreements. Cagle and Martin testified that Taylor was aware that the loans might be illegal...

No FBI records show that Taylor was questioned, Sigmon said..."If he (Taylor) hasn't been interrogated like all other individuals involved in the case, that would lead a reasonable person to believe that somebody, as the motion said, had prevented it."

Via Suburban Guerrilla (permalink bloggered).

dystopia 12:58 PM - [Link]

Tax Law Omits Child Credit in Low-Income Brackets

The NY Times reports on yet another unconscionable move by the powers that be:

A last-minute revision by House and Senate leaders in the tax bill that President Bush signed today will prevent millions of minimum-wage families from receiving the increased child credit that is in the measure, say Congressional officials and outside groups...

Because of the formula for calculating the credit, most families with incomes from $10,500 to $26,625 will not benefit. The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, a liberal group, says those families include 11.9 million children, or one of every six children under 17.

"I don't know why they would cut that out of the bill," said Senator Blanche Lincoln, the Arkansas Democrat who persuaded the full Senate to send the credit to many more low income families before the provision was dropped in conference. "These are the people who need it the most and who will spend it the most. These are the people who buy the blue jeans and the detergent and who will stimulate the economy with their spending."

dystopia 12:16 PM - [Link]

Bush Buried Critical Budget Report

According to the Financial Times, the administration shelved a report commissioned by the Treasury Department that showed the US currently facing a future of chronic federal budget deficits:

The study, the most comprehensive assessment of how the US government is at risk of being overwhelmed by the "baby boom" generation's future healthcare and retirement costs, was commissioned by then-Treasury secretary Paul O'Neill...

The study asserts that sharp tax increases, massive spending cuts or a painful mix of both are unavoidable if the US is to meet benefit promises to future generations. It estimates that closing the gap would require the equivalent of an immediate and permanent 66 per cent across-the-board income tax increase...

The study's analysis of future deficits dwarfs previous estimates of the financial challenge facing Washington. It is roughly equivalent to 10 times the publicly held national debt, four years of US economic output or more than 94 per cent of all US household assets. Alan Greenspan, Federal Reserve chairman, last week bemoaned what he called Washington's "deafening" silence about the future crunch.

Just so we're all clear on this: $44,000bn = $44 trillion.

dystopia 11:55 AM - [Link]

Head Start Centers Warned Against Lobbying

The National Head Start Association accused federal officials of using scare tactics in the current campaign to dismantle the Head Start program. According to Newsday:

The Bush administration is warning Head Start centers not to aid a lobbying effort under way to defeat its proposed overhaul of the preschool program for the poor.

The centers' national association, which vehemently opposes the administration's plans, says it amounts to an unconstitutional attempt to silence critics...

Federal law bans using government money or staff time to lobby Congress for or against legislation. But if a Head Start teacher talks to a Head Start mother about legislation and urges her to call her representative in Congress, is that lobbying?

Visit the National Head Start Association for more info.

dystopia 11:31 AM - [Link]

GOP Exporting Campaign Jobs to India

According to a January article in India's Business Standard, the Republican party is sending telemarketing jobs overseas instead of hiring American workers:

HCL eServe, the business process outsourcing arm of the Shiv Nadar-promoted HCL Technologies, has bagged a project to undertake a fund-raising campaign for the US Republican Party over the telephone.

This is the first time such a project has been handed out to a company outside the US. The market research and public relations companies engaged by the party usually undertake such projects.

HCL eServe has put in place a team of 75 people to work on the project out of its call centres in Noida and Gurgaon. According to industry sources, the number of seats could be ramped up depending on the success of the campaign. These operators are required to call up people in the US seeking their support for President George W Bush and a donation for the Republican cause.

Gyaaaah, man! Isn't that, like, un-American?

Thanks, Tempest, for the tip.

dystopia 10:56 AM - [Link]

Today in Dystopian History: May 29

1765: In the Virginia House of Burgesses, Patrick Henry's inflammatory remarks regarding Parliament's attempts to tax the colonies were greeted with cries of treason, to which he replied: "If this be treason, make the most of it."

1911: The Supreme Court broke up the American Tobacco Company trust into four smaller companies.

1922: The Supreme Court ruled that organized baseball was a sport, not a business, and thus not subject to antitrust laws.

1932: WWI veterans began arriving in Washington, DC, to demand cash bonuses they weren't scheduled to receive for another 13 years. Most were unemployed and in desperate financial straits due to the Depression.

1976: The resignations of high-ranking RJR executives were made public following charges they funneled illegal campaign contributions to Republican presidential candidates from 1964 through 1972.

1986: The Christic Institute filed suit charging US complicity in the Contra assassination bombing in Nicaragua, and the CIA's role in smuggling cocaine into the US to fund Contra wars. A federal judge ruled the suit frivolous and, at government request, assessed all court costs to Christic, forcing it out of business.

1987: Interior Secretary Donald Hodel backed away from strict controls on fluorocarbons to protect the ozone layer. The new plan called for a PR campaign to encourage people to protect themselves by wearing sunglasses, hats and sun-screen.

2002: The Washington Post reported that an FBI agent, angry over a glitch in Carnivore that somehow mixed innocent non-targeted e-mails with Al Qaeda's, destroyed all the FBI's Denver-based intercepts of bin Laden's colleagues in March of 2000.

dystopia 10:10 AM - [Link]

Wednesday, May 28, 2003

Alaska Second State to Oppose Feds

Alaska has joined Hawaii and 112 cities, towns and counties across the country in revolt against the Patriot Act. ABC News has more:

But Alaska's measure goes further than most, advising police and other state agencies not to "initiate, participate in, or assist or cooperate with an inquiry, investigation, surveillance or detention" if there is not "reasonable suspicion of criminal activity under Alaska State law."

"We have a concern that [the Patriot Act] could be abused. The potential for abuse is too great," said Rep David Guttenberg, a Democrat who co-sponsored the resolution. "America is an open state. There's a cost to that. Where are we willing to sacrifice for that? Guys are dying on the battlefield to protect our freedoms. It's up to us to protect those freedoms here at home."


dystopia 4:06 PM - [Link]

Farmed Salmon Looking Less Rosy

I don't like salmon. It tastes like wallpaper paste to me. I must be in the minority, though; salmon farming's turned into quite an industry, per the NY Times:

But critics say that image of the regal salmon, America's most popular fresh fish, is not the whole reality. Recent lawsuits accuse the industry of polluting the ocean, endangering dwindling stocks of wild salmon and failing to tell shoppers that they use artificial colors to make the fish red.

The criticisms echo many of those leveled at huge corporate farms on land.

"We've come to the point where we view these farms as hog lots or feedlots of the ocean," said Jeff Reardon, the New England conservation director of Trout Unlimited, which has worked with salmon farmers in Maine to reduce the number of fish that escape, to protect wild trout and salmon. "They breed disease and parasites. Like other big animal feedlots there are lots of problems. Some of their practices are beginning to improve, but over all the impact is not lessening."

dystopia 3:43 PM - [Link]

Language Police Bar 'Old,' 'Blind'

CNN says Dianne Ravitch's book on state of the nation's textbooks is taking people by surprise in the same way that Rachel Carson's Silent Spring did in the 1960s:

All these words are banned from US textbooks on the grounds that they either elitist (polo, yacht) sexist (babe, boyish figure), offensive (blind, bookworm) ageist (biddy) or just too strong (hell which is replaced with darn or heck). God is also a banned word in the textbooks because he or she is too religious...

She says she stumbled on her discovery of what's allowed and not allowed by accident because publishers insist that they do not impose censorship on their history and English textbook authors but merely apply rules of sensitivity -- which have expanded mightily since first introduced in the 1970s to weed out gender and racial bias...

"You also can't say Mother Russia or Fatherland or brotherhood in texts and that's both silly, trivial and breathtaking. It is like George Orwell's "Newspeak" come to life," she said in an interview, referring to the manipulation of language in

I think we're all responsible for this. We didn't pay attention for thirty years while a trend took on a life of its own.

dystopia 3:24 PM - [Link]

Neocons Move Quickly on Iran

The Syria cauldron's been moved to the back burner, I guess. Haven't heard a peep about them in ages. Iran's next up on the menu, according to the Asia Times:

Overshadowed until last month by their much louder drum-beating for war against Iraq, the neo-cons' efforts to now focus US attention on "regime change" in Iran have become much more intense since early May, and have already borne substantial fruit.

A high-level, albeit unofficial, dialogue between both countries over Iraq, Afghanistan and other issues of mutual interest was abruptly broken off by Washington 10 days ago amid charges by senior Pentagon officials that al-Qaeda agents based in Iran had been involved in terrorist attacks against US and foreign targets in Saudi Arabia on May 12. Tehran strongly denied the charge.

Now, according to reports in the
Washington Post and the New York Times, the administration is considering permanently cutting off the dialogue...and adopting a far more confrontational stance vis-a-vis Tehran that could include covert efforts to destabilize the government.

Reminds me of an item from the Dystopian history file:

May 22, 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.

So is it deja vu all over again? I dunno. Wish I had more faith in our ability to determine these things, but you know how it is. With these pot-stirrers, who's responsible isn't always as important as who appears to be responsible.

dystopia 2:35 PM - [Link]

What Matrix Persona Are You?

From Quizilla:

You are Morpheus-
You are Morpheus, from "The Matrix." You
have strong faith in yourself and those around
you. A true leader, you are relentless in your

Ha, relentless! Yes, I am that. Not much of a leader, but not a follower, either. I go my own way.

I guess this quiz would have more context for me if I'd ever seen the movie, huh?

dystopia 1:56 PM - [Link]

Phoenix Project Documents at the Memory Hole

Via Declan McCullagh:

The CIA destroyed its copies of the documents related to this program, but the creator of Phoenix gave his personal copies to author Douglas Valentine. He, in turn, has given them to the Memory Hole. They have never previously been published, online or in print...

These extremely rare and revealing documents are being posted at the
Memory Hole, a website dedicated to rescuing knowledge and freeing information. The site's publisher and editor, Russ Kick, says: "I had worked with Doug before, and I knew that he had lots of documents on Phoenix, one of the CIA's most controversial and hushed-up programs. When I asked if I could post them, he immediately agreed. He was even kind enough to write introductions to each document and to Phoenix in general especially for the site..."

Currently, the site contains fourteen multi-page documents, and more will be posted in the coming months.

Bookmarked to read later. Here's an open letter from Valentine to Maj Gen Bruce Lawlor, whom Valentine interviewed in 1988 for his book on the Phoenix project. Lawlor is now the Office of Homeland Security's Senior Director for Protection and Prevention. The letter's a bit frenetic in style, but it's an interesting read.

dystopia 1:29 PM - [Link]

Soldier Guilty for Refusing Anthrax Shot

A military panel of eight officers, only two of whom have taken the six-shot anthrax regimen, found an Army reservist guilty of disobeying an order because she refused to take the anthrax vaccine. Newsday reports:

Iwanowska, who is Polish and became an American citizen last year, told her superiors she considered the shot medically dangerous to children she might have in the future, saying the vaccine's long-term effects are unknown. As a Roman Catholic, she also cited religious reasons.

Since the vaccinations were made mandatory for all US military personnel in 1998, hundreds of service members have been disciplined or discharged for refusing to take the shot. At least 37 have been court-martialed...

She is expected to testify during the sentencing phase, which was to begin later Wednesday. Iwanowska faces a maximum of 12 months in jail, a bad conduct discharge, reduction in rank and forfeiture of some of her pay, Rowley said.

The point in these cases, to me, is not whether or not the vaccine is harmful. The point is whether or not you have the right to refuse to have chemicals injected into your body. I see physical integrity as a fundamental right.

There are those who maintain the vaccine may indeed be dangerous. Sonnie Bates left the Air Force with a general discharge under honorable conditions for refusing the anthrax vaccine, and he collects news and information on the DoD's use of the vaccine on his website,

There's also an Anthrax Vaccine Network at the Gulf War Resource Center.

dystopia 12:09 PM - [Link]

Today in Dystopian History: May 28

1830: President Andrew Jackson signed the Indian Removal Act, requiring Eastern Indians to be resettled west of the Mississippi.

1923: The US Attorney General decided it was legal for women to wear trousers.

1946: Manhattan Project scientists filed for a secret patent on their design for the hydrogen bomb initiator.

1954: President Eisenhower signed a bill adding the words "under God" to the Pledge of Allegiance.

1969: US troops abandoned Ap Bia Mountain. The mountain had been taken in a battle that received widespread unfavorable publicity in the US and was dubbed "Hamburger Hill."

1970: The US nuclear submarine Daniel Boone collided with a Philippine merchant ship off Cape Henry, VA.

1976: The US and the Soviet Union signed a treaty limiting the size of underground nuclear explosions set off for peaceful purposes.

1985: David Jacobsen, director of the American University Hospital in Beirut, Lebanon, was abducted by pro-Iranian kidnappers. He was freed 17 months later.

1991: The Supreme Court declined to review Oliver North's Iran-Contra case.

dystopia 11:09 AM - [Link]

Tuesday, May 27, 2003

Bibles, Jurors Don't Mix

An interesting read from CBS News:

Jurors in capital cases are supposed to act as the moral conscience of their community. And they are permitted to bring with them into the deliberation room whatever religious or spiritual beliefs they may have...But using your own personal religious beliefs as a moral compass to guide your decision in a capital case is one thing; using the Bible as an offensive weapon to cajole fellow jurors into voting for death is another...

Harlan’s jurors (some of them, anyway) didn’t just read the Good Book before they went to sleep in their hotel rooms while sequestered during the case. And they didn’t just cite from memory Biblical passages they might have learned earlier in their lives. They brought at least one Bible into the deliberation room itself and also brought “notes with biblical passages concerning the penalty for murder,” according to Judge Vigil. In flagrant disregard for the judge’s instructions, these jurors relied upon this extra-judicial authority in order to convince at least one “wavering” juror that a death sentence for Harlan would make them right with God...

Good heavens. In my opinion, Jesus abolished the death penalty on the cross. Man is too weak and fallible to handle it properly. If you don't agree, you might try reading the New Testament again with the question in mind.

dystopia 5:53 PM - [Link]

Private Hydros Get Sweetheart Deals on Public Lands

The Environmental News Network says the GAO issued a revealing new report on how we hand over our public lands dirt cheap so that the energy industry can laugh all the way to the bank:

The report was issued on the eve of Senate action on the Energy Policy Act, which would strip the Forest Service and other federal agencies of much of their ability to protect the environment or improve public recreation at utility-owned hydropower dam sites.

According to the report, "the fair market value for the use of federal lands... is at least $157 million annually and, under some market conditions, hundreds of millions of dollars more. In comparison, FERC [the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission] collected about $2.7 million in annual charges from these projects in 2002..."

"This report is very timely -- industry lobbyists are roaming the Senate right now with their hands out for even more," said Andrew Fahlund, senior policy director for
American Rivers, reacting to the report. "This GAO study provides context for evaluating how much the industry gets from the public already and how little the public expects in return."

dystopia 5:32 PM - [Link]

US Aware of Efforts to Split Europe Over Iraq

More behind-the-scenes machinations on the road to war, per the Financial Times:

The US administration was informed of and approved two European declarations earlier this year designed to isolate France and Germany over Iraq...

The statements were intended to show support for the Bush administration's agenda and demonstrate that Paris and Berlin did not speak for Europe...

France, Germany and the European Union were kept in the dark...

A senior White House official insisted that the Letter of Eight was not "a product made in the USA" but conceded that the V10 letter involved a greater level of Washington input.

Imagine that.

dystopia 5:09 PM - [Link]

Malfunction Blamed for Gap on DPS Tape

This one gave me deja vu. I wonder what's Rosemary Woods is up to these days? From the Houston Chronicle:

As part of the probe, Bailey had asked DPS to turn over Capitol security tapes for the hallway outside of House Speaker Tom Craddick's office. A DPS command post was set up May 12 in Craddick's reception room, and Bailey said he wants to know who went in and out of that room.

Bailey said the DPS provided his staff with copies of the security tapes late Friday. As the staff watched them over the weekend, the entire week was available except for the afternoon of May 12. He said the tape stopped at 12:47 p.m. and did not begin again until 6 pm.

"It's odd that it was the day and time that we wanted," Bailey said. "It's fine all week, except for that one period."

The DPS quickly handed over a new copy of the tape, which presumably has the missing part restored.

dystopia 3:27 PM - [Link]

Bush Quietly Signs Bill Raising Debt Limit

It's done. Again. From Tampa Bay Online:

Without comment or ceremony, President Bush on Tuesday signed a bill allowing a record $984 billion increase in the amount the federal government can borrow, to a record $7.4 trillion...

Passage of the bill raising the nation's debt ceiling came last Friday, only hours after the tax-cut bill was approved. Congressional Democrats had sought to spotlight the federal IOUs that have resumed piling up under President Bush.

But Republican leaders maneuvered to get the debt-ceiling measure passed quickly, and with little fanfare.

dystopia 3:10 PM - [Link]

Buried Shell Papers Raise Questions

First noticed this weird little story a couple of weeks ago; here's an update from the Times Online:

The documents are being examined by experts, and if they are found to have been buried to conceal important information from shareholders, the public or potential buyers of the business, Shell could face a criminal investigation...

The whistleblower told EOTT’s lawyers that he was present when the 157 boxes of documents were buried in the desert in the spring of 1999 — just before the business was sold to Enron.

A source close to Shell confirmed that the documents were genuine. A spokesman said: "These documents could pertain to litigation between EOTT and Shell. The litigation could have an effect on us. We have nothing further to say on the matter."

dystopia 2:44 PM - [Link]

Fort Detrick Unearths Hazardous Surprises

More than 2,000 tons of hazardous waste have been dug up at Fort Detrick, MD, including vials of live bacteria and nonvirulent anthrax that no one knew were there. The Washington Post reports:

The few documents that exist say Fort Detrick used the dump from 1955 through the 1960s, while the post served on the front lines of the US biological and chemical warfare program. During those years, technicians brewed a pastelike anthrax "slurry." Scientists sprayed germs into a giant sphere called "the Eightball," testing them on livestock and, occasionally, people. The Crops Division tested a key ingredient in the dangerous Vietnam War-era defoliant known as Agent Orange: Traces of it have shown up in the dump...

In 1991, toxins turned up in Army monitoring wells near the dump. Tests showed trichloroethylene, or TCE, a metal-cleaning solvent linked to liver and kidney damage, and tetrachloroethylene, or PCE, a degreasing compound believed to cause liver cancer.

The Maryland Department of the Environment and the Frederick County Health Department tested 33 wells at homes near Area B. Half were contaminated with the two agents, six so badly that the water was unfit to drink. In a few wells, concentrations of the two chemicals exceeded Environmental Protection Agency limits many times over. In an Army monitoring well nearest the dump, the chemicals were so concentrated, "you could smell it," said Joseph Gortva, an engineer who is managing the cleanup.

This isn't the only place this has happened. There've been serious problems at Hanford, Rocky Flats and God knows where all else.

dystopia 2:25 PM - [Link]

Family Matters

Went to my mom's family reunion this weekend, in the little podunk town in northeastern Oklahoma that's the hub of both sides of my family. It's where my parents grew up, met and married. Mom's is the Indian side of the family tree; they're mostly tall, skinny, reserved. I take after them, physically and socially.

Meant to talk to my uncle, a Vietnam vet who's been back and forth to Bosnia throughout the '90s, about war and politics but he split before I got the chance. I wonder if he's a spook? He's still in the military but nobody seems to know exactly what he does. Some happy news--my cousin's daughter was accepted at West Point, and sad news--my eldest auntie has Alzheimer's and didn't know me.

I'm glad I went, though it made me feel kinda blue. I've missed too many of these gatherings since I moved so far away, and I'm not sure how many more there will be. Everyone suddenly seems so old now, frail. Time is relentless.

There's a little country cemetery there in Podunk where my dad and his parents, my mom's dad and her grandparents are all buried, along with lots of other relatives. My tiny little half-Cherokee grandma will be there in due time, and my mom too, someday. I like it that they're all there together, in one place. It gives me a feeling of rootedness, of belonging somewhere. I want to be there, too, when my time comes.

These are my great-grandparents and their youngest child, my only living grandma, now 95 years old. I look like her:

These are my dad's parents with his oldest sister:

(If the pictures aren't showing up, it's because I've exceeded my bandwidth limit for the day. You can go look here instead.)

I'm really missing my dad. I wish I could talk to him about so many things--life, politics, God. My values, my faith, so much of who I am came from him, and I wish he was still here for me to lean on, to help me stay true.

dystopia 11:22 AM - [Link]

Today in Dystopian History: May 27

1647: Achsah Young of Windsor, CT, was hung for being a witch, the first recorded American execution of a person accused of witchcraft. Her crime was using foreign herbs to cure her neighbors.

1668: Three colonists were expelled from Massachusetts for being Baptists.

1679: The English Parliament passed the Habeas Corpus Act, protecting citizens against false arrest and imprisonment. The main principles of the act were later incorporated into the US Constitution.

1692: Governor Phips set up a special Court of Oyer and Terminer comprised of seven judges to try the witchcraft cases in Salem.

1863: Chief Justice Roger B Taney issued ex parte Merryman, challenging the authority of Abraham Lincoln and the military to suspend the writ of habeas corpus in Maryland.

1933: The Federal Securities Act was signed, requiring the registration of securities with the Federal Trade Commission.

1935: The Supreme Court declared President Roosevelt's National Industrial Recovery Act unconstitutional.

1972: The Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty (SALT I) was signed by Nixon and Brezhnev, freezing the testing and deployment of intercontinental and submarine-launched ballistic missiles for a five-year period.

1975: Alaska legalized home use of marijuana.

1997: The Supreme Court ruled that Paula Jones could pursue her sexual harassment lawsuit against President Clinton while he was still in office.

1998: Alabama Circuit Judge William Wynn filed suit seeking to revoke the charters of the nation's five major cigarette companies.

dystopia 9:41 AM - [Link]

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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)