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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, June 21, 2003

Searchin' Every Which A-Way for WMD

Oh, mercy! ROFL! Wish I had it on tape:

The security detail thought it was a bad idea, not having a clue about the neighborhood. But Powell, raised in the South Bronx, was not to be denied...

Midday at midweek tends to be a quiet time at Darrell's. The owner, Darrell, was there, of course, sitting in his chair and sharpening a pair of scissors, when Powell walked through the door. Bobby T the barber had a regular customer, Fast Frankie, in his chair. But the other barbers, Boogie and Fatmouth the trainee, had time on their hands. Fatmouth was leafing through the latest edition of Jet magazine, and Boogie was dozing.

Darrell recognized Powell right away. Before the secretary could say anything, Darrell was on his feet and holding a spanking-clean smock to place around Powell's neck. Powell thanked Darrell, sat down, asked for a light trim and then pulled a sheaf of papers from a briefcase and began reading...Darrell held his peace and began clipping and snipping away...hoping and praying that the fellas wouldn't get anything started...

Jerome, the trash-talker, was on his way to the corner store to buy a soda when he noticed a long black limousine and a security follow car parked at the curb in front of Darrell's...

Go enjoy the rest of the story from Colbert King.

...gonna find them, boom, boom, dooty, dooty boom...

dystopia 3:08 PM - [Link]

Wrong Lubricant, Jammed Weapons, Dead Soldiers

Been poking around the Soldiers for the Truth website today, where I found found this:

As the Pentagon proceeds with its official “after action reports” and “lessons learned” effort from Operation Iraqi Freedom, troubling information has begun to emerge from numerous sources that jammed weapons were a serious problem in Iraq. Worse, it appears that this happened because many American troops were equipped with a lubricant to clean their rifles and sidearms that was ineffective in the harsh desert environment...

In an e-mail forwarded to DefenseWatch, retired Lt Col Robert Kovacic, who works for a defense contractor in Kuwait that trains US military units, echoed Johnson’s remarks. “I can say with complete assuredness, from many, many observations [of training exercises], that CLP does not work. I did not use it … at Fort Polk (cause it did not prevent rust, I don’t care what the government says), and it sure as hell does not work here...”

What is bewildering to veterans such as these is that there is a product that has proven effective in desert combat. MILITEC-1 Synthetic Metal Conditioner, manufactured by the company of the same name, has been approved for Army use and is already widely used by the US Coast Guard, FBI and a host of other federal police agencies. But the Army apparently is still shipping CLP en masse to the troops and has resisted ordering the synthetic lubricant, forcing unit commanders to pay out of their own pockets to acquire it.

dystopia 2:26 PM - [Link]

Pentagon Whistleblower Reveals CIA/DoD Fiascos

The Russian blog Iraq War reports a wild tale by an alleged Pentagon whistleblower. How much of it is true? Heck if I know--adjust tinfoil hat accordingly:

In a world exclusive, Al Martin has published a news story about a Department of Defense whistleblower who has revealed that a US covert operations team had planted “Weapons of Mass Destruction” (WMDs) in Iraq – then "lost" them when the team was killed by so-called "friendly fire"...

"According to Ms Rogers, there was a covert military operation that took place both preceding and during the hostilities in Iraq"...Ms Rogers reports that this particular covert operation team was manned by ex-military personnel and that "the unit was paid through the Department of Agriculture in order to hide it, which is also very commonplace"...

Another aspect of Ms Rogers' report concerns a covert operation which was to locate the assets of Saddam Hussein and his family..."The scope of this operation included the penetration of the Central Bank of Iraq, other large commercial banks in Baghdad, the Iraqi National Museum and certain presidential palaces where monies and bullion were secreted"...“They identified about $2 billion of cash in US dollars, another $150 million in Euros, in physical banknotes, and about another $100 million in sundry foreign currencies...

"This was a contingent of CIA/DoD operatives, but it was really the CIA that bungled it, Ms Rogers said. They were relying on the CIA’s seize these assets and to be able to extract these assets, because the CIA claimed it had resources on the ground within the Iraqi army and the Iraqi government who had been paid. That turned out to be completely bogus...They had a special ‘black (unmarked) aircraft to fly it out. But none of that happened because the regular US Army showed up, stumbled onto it and everyone involved had to scramble.

Interesting--that sounds like when the troops started finding all those caches of cash over there. The bungling fits with the general tenor of the Concerned Soldier's memo I read yesterday; the Pentagon badly underestimated the pace and intensity of the Iraq War in every way imaginable, so it's feasible that they could've somehow screwed up their covert actions as well.

The part about 100 people involved, though, all conveniently killed--or inconveniently, depending on your POV--uh, I dunno about that.

dystopia 12:46 PM - [Link]

Today in Dystopian History: June 21

1622: The governor of Jamestown banned drunkenness, swearing, taking boats without permission and stealing oars, with punishments graded according to one's status.

1684: King Charles II revoked the Massachusetts Charter.

1783: The Continental Congress, threatened by a mob of disgruntled soldiers, fled Philadelphia and reconvened in Princeton, NJ.

1877: For the crime of attempting to organize laborers, 10 Molly Maguires were hanged in Pennsylvania.

1916: The controversial military expedition against Pancho Villa brought the US and Mexico closer to war when Mexican troops engaged Pershing's force in a bloody battle at Carrizal.

1942: A Japanese submarine shelled Fort Stevens at the mouth of the Columbia River.

1943: Schneiderman v. US, resulting from the US' attempt to strip William Schneiderman, a communist, of his citizenship, was overturned by the Supreme Court.

1956: Playwright Arthur Miller, appearing before the House Committee on Un-American Activities, refused to betray his left-wing associates.

1960: Nobel laureate Linus Pauling defied Congress by refusing to name signers of petitions calling for total halt of nuclear weapons testing. Pauling later won a second Nobel, a Peace Prize for his advocacy of nuclear disarmament.

1964: Three civil rights workers were murdered in Mississippi; their bodies were found in an earthen dam months later.

1978: The Aleuts of the Pribilof Islands won $11.2 million for mistreatment by the US during the seal monopoly from 1870 to 1946.

1982: The Florida Senate declined to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment.

1989: The Supreme Court ruled burning the American flag as a political protest was protected under the First Amendment.

2001: A federal grand jury returned a 46-count indictment charging 13 Saudis and one Lebanese with the 1996 truck-bombing of the Khobar Towers that killed 19 Americans and injured nearly 400 others.

dystopia 10:28 AM - [Link]

Friday, June 20, 2003

Los Alamos Admits Losing Plutonium

Bad news from the Project on Government Oversight:

Los Alamos National Lab (LANL) admits losing plutonium after POGO released an investigative lead Wednesday to reporters tipping them off to allegations that two vials of plutonium are missing.

In a press release Wednesday, Los Alamos acknowledged "the Laboratory's inability to fully account for two low-purity analytical samples of plutonium-oxide."

While LANL Director Peter Nanos minimized the potential danger posed by the missing plutonium, a 1995 Lawrence Livermore study concluded that ".08 milligrams inhaled will have 100% probability of causing a fatal cancer." The amount of missing material at LANL would provide tens of thousands of times that amount.

dystopia 6:21 PM - [Link]

US Officials Met with Colombian Paramilitaries

Interesting bit from Narco News:

In a follow-up report, Saturday, in the daily El Tiempo, the State Department publicly admitted that "an official from the Embassy met with a civilian advisor of the AUC," but, at the same time, he denied that there had been any kind of negotiation (it was "only a reiteration of US policy") with the paramilitary group led by Carlos Castaño, an act that, in fact, is considered illegal under US anti-terrorism laws and one that can bring a penalty of 10 years in prison, if applied, to officials of the Bush government.

After the news was reported, Jim Foster, spokesman for the US Embassy in Bogotá, catagorically stated: "We don't negotiate with terrorists. There was no negotiation." However, some media organizations last week received copies of a memorandum in which a member of the AUC provided details of the meeting in which Salvatore Mancuso, considered to be the number-two man in the organization, and in which the names of US officials Alex Lee, Carlos García, and Stewart Tuttle, were mentioned.

An Associated Press wire dated on Thursday indicated that the paramilitary member who wrote the document, known only as Pablo, confirmed having conversed with Lee about an amnesty treaty for the principal paramilitary leaders on the part of the United States government if they cooperate with authorities once they are placed under arrest by Washington, and that "Mister" Lee believed that the peace negotiations in Colombia were more important, although the charges filed by the US Justice Department would, at the same time, be considered… That's not a negotiation? That was a reiteration of US policy? What is happening between the Bush government and the Colombian paramilitaries?

dystopia 5:42 PM - [Link]

Leadership Failures in Iraq

Soldiers for the Truth posted a memo written recently by a senior NCO in the 3rd Infantry Division still serving in Iraq:

I would first like to both confirm and dispel some of the misunderstandings concerning logistics in Operation Iraqi Freedom. It is absolutely true that the logistical portion of the campaign was the biggest downfall both in planning and execution. The biggest travesty is, while there was an obvious miscalculation of what it would take to support us on the battlefield, there was little to no evident planning for sustaining the soldiers upon completion of the main war effort...

We had a very elaborate plan of attack going into the operation. However, we failed to realize that the enemy had a vote in how exactly we were going to conduct our operation and the changes to the plan that they could affect. We, as we planned, would "take Baghdad in a matter of days" and were told that "There is no expected contact for a significant piece of our movement." We were even told not to place a round into our weapons when we LD'd because "We won't see the enemy for quite sometime." and "will have plenty of time to react." The intent was that this would reduce the risks of a "negligent discharge or fratricide incidents." Well, we know what the truth is: We received ambush and guerilla warfare tactics from almost the very beginning...

The movement to the objectives was pure chaos. It was poorly orchestrated and executed. I was witness to several vehicle accidents, where soldiers lost their lives, that were a direct result of the "Go! Go! Go!" mentality...Imagine having only soft-skinned vehicles, small caliber firearms, overcrowded vehicles, no communications ability (except internal to your immediate group), and hearing sporadic transmissions of ambushes and close contact firefights. That is exactly what many units had to endure and it cost soldiers their lives. I can think of a certain maintenance support unit that made the news...

dystopia 5:04 PM - [Link]

The Other Drug War

Good Frontline last night, on Big Pharma and why prescription drugs cost so much.

dystopia 4:24 PM - [Link]

Free Ride

Milwaukee Magazine breaks down the financial and ethical costs of the Pentagon's embed program:

Who paid for this media training, transportation and equipment? Unwittingly, American taxpayers picked up the tab for these and many other expenses in the military's embedded media program.

"That's one way of looking at it," concedes Maj Tim Blair, Pentagon officer in charge of the program. Another way of looking at it is the embedded media, by accepting military handouts at taxpayer expense, betrayed the public's trust and venerable journalism policies against freebies.

These hidden costs of the program have gone curiously unreported, perhaps because the top news organizations accepted this bargain for their own embedded employees. Or maybe it's because the Pentagon didn't disclose any media expenses in its $60 billion war budget. Either way, taxpayers had no reason to suspect they would foot the bill when the Pentagon recruited 775 embedded journalists to tell the military's story...

Coulda guessed that, if I'd ever thought about it before now.

dystopia 3:54 PM - [Link]

Today in Dystopian History: June 20

1782: Congress approved the Great Seal of the United States.

1898: Guam was shelled by the USS Charleston; the island's Spanish governor, unaware his country was at war with the US, apologized that a lack of powder rendered him unable to return the salute.

1941: A breakthrough labor contract was signed with Henry Ford at the River Rouge Plant; it was the first time Ford recognized the UAW.

1943: Striking black auto workers were attacked by members of the National Workers League, the KKK and armed white workers in Detroit; 34 people were killed and 1300 were arrested in the subsequent race riots.

1947: President Truman vetoed the Taft-Hartley labor bill on grounds it was discriminatory against labor; Congress overrode the veto.

1963: The US and the Soviet Union signed an agreement to set up a "hotline" communications link between the two superpowers.

1967: Four homes and a barber shop were blown up in McComb, MS, allegedly by members of the KKK.

1973: An American F-14 Tomcat fighter plane shot itself down with its own Sparrow air-to-air missile; the crew ejected safely.

1979: ABC News correspondent Bill Stewart was shot to death in Managua, Nicaragua, by President Somoza's national guard; the murder was captured on film by Stewart's colleagues.

1988: Joseph Fernandez, the CIA station chief in Costa Rica, was indicted for conspiring to defraud the US, obstructing an investigation by the Tower Commission, and making false statements in the Iran-Contra affair.

2000: The FTC began investigating high gasoline prices in parts of the Midwest, where prices had risen disproportionately in relation to the rest of the country.

2001: American Lori Berenson was convicted and sentenced to 20 years in prison by a Peruvian court for collaborating with leftist guerrillas.

dystopia 10:28 AM - [Link]

Thursday, June 19, 2003

Big Grant to Oil Firm Shrouded in Secrecy

Mysterious news via Suburban Guerrilla (permalink bloggered) and

The odds of anyone's getting a grant were no better than one in five. Even then, most of the winners were awarded less than $1 million. But Citgo, the profitable US subsidiary of the Venezuelan national oil company, hit the jackpot: a $13.5 million grant to upgrade security at its refinery in Lake Charles, La.

That's more than the combined 24 grants for the Delaware River port system.

More than the nine grants for Los Angeles, the busiest container port in the country.

More than the 17 grants for every other private business or port authority in Louisiana...

In addition, Young preemptively said the terms of the grant award would not be available through the open-records provision of the federal Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). "It is my understanding that it is not subject to FOIA," Young said.

What the...?

dystopia 3:07 PM - [Link]

False Terrorism Tips Uproot Lives of Suspects

Ashcroft's DOJ is proving to be a much more sinister version of the Keystone Cops. A disturbing read in the NY Times:

Then the wife of a local restaurateur spoke up to tell him what had happened the last time agents came calling, shortly after the Sept 11 terrorist attacks. On a tip, her husband, Tarek Albasti, and eight other men were rounded up, shackled, paraded in front of a newspaper photographer and jailed for a week. The tip turned out to be false.

But four of the men were then listed in a national crime registry as having been accused of terrorism, even though they were never charged, as the FBI later conceded. The branding prevented them from flying, renting apartments and landing jobs.

"People were crying as she describes this," Mr. Fuentes recalled. "And at the end, she says, 'My husband was released, and in 19 months nobody has ever said, I'm sorry about what happened.'"

dystopia 2:01 PM - [Link]

Senate Panel Votes to Overturn Some New FCC Rules

It still faces the full House and Senate, so don't get all excited yet. The NY Times reports:

The bill, sponsored by Sens. Ted Stevens, R-Alaska, and Ernest Hollings, D-SC, would roll back the national ownership limit so a company can own TV stations reaching only 35 percent of US households instead of 45 percent. The bill passed by a voice vote.

The proposed legislation also would reinstate a ban on newspaper-broadcast cross-ownership. However, it would allow state regulators to recommend to the FCC exemptions for small communities where a merger may be needed to support media outlets in financial trouble.

The bill also would clarify the FCC's authority to strengthen as well as relax media ownership restrictions, a question raised by courts that have rejected past rule changes.

Another component of the bill would require the FCC to hold at least five public hearings on future ownership rule changes before voting. Lawmakers criticized the agency for not seeking more public comment before its June 2 decision.

Keep the heat on your elected reps--please!

dystopia 1:33 PM - [Link]

EPA Report Omits Data on Climate Change

The information police are working diligently to protect Americans from bothersome ideas that might lead to troubling questions and demands for action. From the NY Times:

The Environmental Protection Agency is preparing to publish a draft report next week on the state of the environment, but after editing by the White House, a long section describing risks from rising global temperatures has been whittled to a few noncommittal paragraphs...

Drafts of the climate section, with changes sought by the White House, were given to The New York Times yesterday by a former EPA official, along with earlier drafts and an internal memorandum in which some officials protested the changes...

The editing eliminated references to many studies concluding that warming is at least partly caused by rising concentrations of smokestack and tail-pipe emissions and could threaten health and ecosystems...

Among the deletions were conclusions about the likely human contribution to warming from a 2001 report on climate by the National Research Council that the White House had commissioned and that President Bush had endorsed in speeches...

A Guardian piece last year addressed the Bush administration's "don't worry, be happy" approach to climate change.

dystopia 1:15 PM - [Link]

State Loses Oversight of Everglades Project

According to Tampa Bay Online, Jebbie just got hit with a big ol' faceful of backlash:

Until now, Congress has not seen fit to restrict how the money is used. That changed Wednesday when the House Appropriations Committee placed the state's restoration efforts under federal oversight...

Audubon and dozens of other environmental groups fought the Florida Legislature's push this year to change the cleanup requirement, but they were no match for the sugar lobby...The restrictions in the US House appropriations bill were triggered by concern over the Everglades bill passed by the Florida Legislature in May and quickly signed by Gov Jeb Bush. The law postpones the deadline for pollution compliance from 2006 until 2016.

The appropriations committee also redirected $32 million that had been appropriated for land acquisition in the Everglades to implement water quality monitoring, eradicate invasive exotic plants and other environmental restoration projects.

"I think this indicates the depth of [congressional] mistrust of the state as a result of the bill passed by the Legislature," Lee said.

Recent highlights in Swampgate history:

Big Sugar Fails To Remove Judge
Criticized Glades Bill Signed by Bush
Governor Tries to Prevent Publicity Nightmare

dystopia 12:45 PM - [Link]

Belgium Gets War Crimes Cases Against Bush/Blair

Three so far, but they won't say who filed them. Via Reuters:

Belgium said on Thursday it had received lawsuits against President Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair under a controversial war crimes law.

But it said it had forwarded the cases to the defendants' countries, reducing their chances of reaching a court...

In an effort to discourage so-called "propaganda" cases, it reformed the law to allow a lawsuit to be sent to a defendant's country if that country were democratic with a legal system that could handle it properly...

Last night we watched the C-Span replay of Cook and Short testifying in the British inquiry on WMD intelligence--now that was some TV worth watching.

Also watched Blair personally answering for his policy decisions before the House of Commons. He was charming, witty, had an answer for everything and managed to get in plenty of digs at his detractors--a masterful politician, not that I believed a word he said.

I'm so jealous.

dystopia 12:08 PM - [Link]

Iraqis Say US Using Baath as Scapegoat

Heavy-handedness is becoming a persistent theme (see yesterday's Afghanistan post). Reuters says:

The United States insists die-hard supporters of Saddam Hussein are behind a spate of deadly attacks on US troops -- but many Iraqis believe American blunders are more to blame.

They argue it is heavy-handed American raids, along with the failure to restore basic services, that are fueling the violence and insecurity, not Saddam loyalists.

"The Americans are just using the Baath as an excuse to stay in the country...They don't want an Iraqi government. So they just talk about the Baath," said Ali Jassem, a unemployed Shiite Iraqi who lives in a slum.

"We will rise up and fight the Americans. We have just moved from one dictatorship to another."

dystopia 11:39 AM - [Link]

Today in Dystopian History: June 19

1586: The colonists left Roanoke after failing to establish England's first permanent settlement in America.

1754: Benjamin Franklin introduced the Albany Plan of Union, based on the Iroquois Confederacy; the plan was rejected, but its essential elements were later adapted as the US Constitution.

1812: The US declared war on Great Britain.

1865: Juneteenth began when slaves in south Texas first heard about the Emancipation Proclamation, more than two years after the fact, when Union troops arrived with news that the war had ended.

1868: The Jesuit missionary Pierre-Jean De Smet negotiated a temporary peace with Chief Sitting Bull, whose Sioux warriors had vowed to kill the next white man they saw.

1902: Congress assigned allotments to Indians on the Spokane reservation in Washington, freeing up "surplus" land for sale to white farmers.

1936: The Robinson-Patman Act prohibited unfair competition by interstate chain stores.

1940: The Two-Ocean Navy Bill more than doubled the tonnage of the Navy.

1943: Henry Kissinger was naturalized as a US citizen.

1953: Despite widespread international protest and compelling evidence of their innocence, Julius and Ethel Rosenberg were executed in the electric chair at Sing Sing for conspiring to pass US atomic secrets to the Soviet Union.

1961: The Supreme Court struck down a provision in Maryland's constitution requiring state office holders to believe in God.

1975: Sam Giancana was assassinated in Chicago shortly before he was to appear before the Church Senate Committee to be asked about his part in CIA plots against Castro.

1985: Armed gunmen stormed an outdoor restaurant in San Salvador, killing four US Marines and two US businessmen; the attack was blamed on the Reagan administration's interventionist policies in El Salvador.

1987: The Supreme Court struck down a Louisiana law requiring public schools to teach creationism if they taught evolution.

dystopia 10:36 AM - [Link]

Wednesday, June 18, 2003

How to Spend $1 Billion

Our tax dollars at work, in the American Prospect:

The truth is that no anti-drug ads have ever really proved effective. In 2000, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) released the results of a five-year study showing that such ads have been a dismal failure...Congress also reviewed the media campaign and was equally dismayed..."If the campaign continues to fail to demonstrate effectiveness, then the Committee will be compelled to reevaluate the use of taxpayer money to support the Media Campaign."

One would think that this might have led to the discontinuation of the campaign. But in recently voting to reauthorize the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP), the Government Reform Committee, chaired by Rep Tom Davis (R-VA), elected to allocate roughly $1 billion to continue the ads for another five years...

dystopia 3:35 PM - [Link]

A Few Good Men?

The American Prospect says the Marine Corps is ripe for scandal:

The Marines are about to be hit by the same kind of sexual-harassment scandal that rocked the Army, Navy and Air Force. As yet, no Marine has gone on record talking about rape. But someone will—and I bet it will be soon. Documents I recently obtained show that the same hostility found in the other services is deeply embedded in the Marines. Worse, this past February, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld purged the committee that reported on the corps' miserable climate, and stripped the committee's charter of key investigative powers...

According to two DACOWITS reports—delivered, with spectacularly unfortunate timing, on Sept 10, 2001—women entering boot camp are told "that there are only three kinds of female Marines: 'bitches, lesbians, and whores.'" Both men and women say that male Marines regularly call female Marines "bags of nasties," or use the semi-official designation for women Marines, "WM," to mean "walking mattress..."

"Senior enlisted men confirmed, laughingly, that sexual harassment goes on," reported DACOWITS in 2001. "The men stated that women do not belong in the Marine Corps. They laughed about the derogatory names the women are called." One of the investigators, Barbara Glacel, says that a group of men explained, "in very graphic terms, that women should not be allowed to go into any frontline situation because they smelled so bad when they menstruated that they would attract the enemy."

dystopia 3:21 PM - [Link]

The Screwing of Cynthia McKinney

Greg Palast on political homicide, via AlterNet:

Yes, this is one fact the Times reporter didn’t fake: The McKinney “quote” was, indeed, all over the place: in the Washington Post, National Public Radio, and needless to say, all the other metropolitan dailies – everywhere but in Congresswoman McKinney’s mouth.

Nor was it in the Congressional Record, nor in any recorded talk, nor on her Website, nor in any of her radio talks. Here’s the Congresswoman’s statement from the record:

“George Bush had no prior knowledge of the plan to attack the World Trade Center on September 11.”

And I should say former Congresswoman...She was beaten in the August 2002 Democratic primary. More precisely, she was beaten to death, politically, by the fabricated quote.

dystopia 2:54 PM - [Link]

The Texas Clemency Memos

Alan Berlow examines judicial memos written by White House counsel Alberto Gonzales for then-Gov George Bush in 57 Texas death penalty cases, in the Atlantic Monthly:

Gonzales's summaries were Bush's primary source of information in deciding whether someone would live or die. Each is only three to seven pages long and generally consists of little more than a brief description of the crime, a paragraph or two on the defendant's personal background, and a condensed legal history. Although the summaries rarely make a recommendation for or against execution, many have a clear prosecutorial bias, and all seem to assume that if an appeals court rejected one or another of a defendant's claims, there is no conceivable rationale for the governor to revisit that claim. This assumption ignores one of the most basic reasons for clemency: the fact that the justice system makes mistakes.

A close examination of the Gonzales memoranda suggests that Governor Bush frequently approved executions based on only the most cursory briefings on the issues in dispute. In fact, in these documents Gonzales repeatedly failed to apprise the governor of crucial issues in the cases at hand: ineffective counsel, conflict of interest, mitigating evidence, even actual evidence of innocence...I have found no evidence that Gonzales ever sent Bush a clemency petition—or any document—that summarized in a concise and coherent fashion a condemned defendant's best argument against execution in a case involving serious questions of innocence or due process. Bush relied on Gonzales's summaries, which never made such arguments.

Thanks to Eschaton for the tip.

dystopia 2:34 PM - [Link]

Heavy Hand Fans Taliban Embers Into Life

The Guardian says things are heating up in Afghanistan:

The Taliban were supposed to have disappeared from Afghanistan 18 months ago, but in recent weeks they have begun a comeback with a series of primitive but deadly attacks on officials and the government's military allies...40 Taliban fighters were killed this month in a gun battle with government troops near Kandahar, and in the same area the Taliban recently killed a Red Cross worker and an Italian tourist...

UN officials have watched the behaviour of the US forces in Afghanistan with increasing dismay, and say that it is frequently reckless. "This doesn't help us at all," one said. "The people are basically pro-America. They want US forces to be here. But American soldiers are not very culturally sensitive. It's hardly surprising that Afghans get angry when the Americans turn up and kick their doors in."

The Pak Tribune reported last March that Karzai's government was functioning only in Kabul. The Red Cross and other humanitarian aid groups have already pulled workers out of large areas of Afghanistan for their safety, and the UN just announced that one-third of the country is now off-limits to their reconstruction, aid and political personnel.

UPDATE: Just found an article in AlterNet that says US and Pakistani intelligence officials have been meeting with the Taliban over the festering guerrilla warfare.

dystopia 1:54 PM - [Link]

Israelis Not All Deeply Settled In

Interesting discussion of the Israeli settlement issue in the LA Times:

"The policy of occupation is to spread as much as you can to make Israel bigger," Andrea Alfasi said. "But we are the ones who pay for it. We must live with war, with hatred. I am afraid every day something will happen."

"If leaving this place was the price of peace," Dudu said, staring across the sandy valley, "I would move."

Several recent opinion surveys of Israelis living in settlements have found that there are many more people like the Alfasis and the Yehezkels than outpost defenders. A study published last year by the Peace Now anti-settlement organization found that 77% of settlers cited quality of life as the main reason for living in disputed territories. Only 20% lived in the occupied Palestinian territories for nationalistic or religious reasons.

dystopia 1:26 PM - [Link]

Defective Sperm, Pesticide Tie Found

From the LA Times:

The study provides new evidence supporting a theory that pesticides and other chemicals which mimic estrogen or block testosterone are harming human reproductive systems. It is the first time that scientists have shown a link between environmental contaminants in men's bodies and large decreases in the number and quality of their sperm...

None of the men in the new study worked at or lived next to farms, where the pesticides are most commonly used. They were most likely exposed through drinking water supplied by aquifers...

All the tested men, in their 20s and 30s, were fertile and recently fathered children.

"What this means is that it's harder for these men to conceive. It takes them longer," Swan said. "We also wonder what else it is doing to these men, and what it is doing to the rest of the family, the women and children?"

Some FAQs on endocrine disruptors.

dystopia 1:12 PM - [Link]

Today in Dystopian History: June 18

1621: In the Massachusetts colony, Edward Doty and Edward Lester fought the first recorded American duel.

1934: The Indian Reorganization Act was passed against the virtually unanimous opposition of American Indians, who felt they'd already been reorganized enough.

1941: Civil rights leaders met with President Roosevelt about their proposed March on Washington to protest discrimination in war industries; a week later, Roosevelt ordered the desegregation of war industries.

1942: The US Navy commissioned its first black officer, Harvard University medical student Bernard Whitfield Robinson.

1952: The US government denounced the Soviets' suggestion that it ratify the 1925 Geneva Protocol against bacteriological warfare.

1959: A federal court ruled that an Arkansas attempt to close a school rather than desegregate it was unconstitutional.

1959: Due to his erratic behavior the governor of Louisiana, Earl K Long, was committed to a state mental hospital. Long arranged for the hospital's director to be fired, and the new director proclaimed him perfectly sane.

1968: The Supreme Court banned racial discrimination in the sale and rental of housing.

1984: Denver radio talk show host Alan Berg was shot to death outside his home; white supremacists were convicted of civil rights violations in his murder.

1988: Vice President Bush attacked Democratic presidential candidate Michael Dukakis, accusing him of allowing convicts out of prison on weekend furloughs.

1998: The Boston Globe asked Patricia Smith to resign after she admitted inventing people and quotes in some of her columns.

2001: About 2000 protesters gathered outside President Bush's hotel in Gothenburg, Sweden, for a mass mooning.

2002: The GAO reported that the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission "is not adequately performing the oversight that is needed to ensure that the prices produced by these [electricity] markets are just and reasonable, and therefore, it is not fulfilling its regulatory mandate."

dystopia 10:36 AM - [Link]

Tuesday, June 17, 2003

Bioterrorism Project Falls Into Intelligence Gap

Government Executive reports:

Paul Redmond had a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day recently. It was the day that Redmond, assistant secretary for information analysis at the Homeland Security Department, testified before the House Select Homeland Security Committee about Project BioShield, President Bush's $6 billion anti-bioterrorism project that's been cruising through the House.

Redmond didn't have an opening statement. He admitted he has only one person working under him to assess the bioterror threat. He said he isn't getting the information he needs from the intelligence community. His description of the bioterror threat was nothing more than what lawmakers had already read in the newspapers. And he wasn't prepared to brief them in a closed session. Redmond eventually made a plea for sympathy: "I'm trying to do my best at this point."

Redmond's lack of preparedness on BioShield is evidence of a potentially grave weakness: Redmond's intelligence cupboard is largely bare, yet the department appears to have no trouble launching big expensive programs without having assessed what the country's highest-priority threats are.

I think we've got Barney Fife in charge of our national security--and I don't mean Redmond.

dystopia 4:24 PM - [Link]

Ministers Told Saddam Posed 'No Immediate Threat'

Robin Cook and Clare Short testified before Britain's Commons Foreign Affairs Committee inquiry into the use of WMD intelligence in the Iraq War. The Independent has details:

Ms Short said that, as International Development Secretary, she did have access to intelligence and had seen all the material on Iraq – but only after she had "made a fuss."

She said that No 10 had tried to prevent her seeing the material and she was given access only after she took up the issue with Tony Blair.

She said that the Cabinet's Overseas and Defence Committee had never met to discuss the Iraq crisis, and that the real discussions had been restricted to Mr Blair's immediate circle.

"That is quite a collapse in the normal procedures for decision–making," she said. "It was only the close entourage who were really part of this."

Sounds eerily familiar.

dystopia 3:35 PM - [Link]

Secrecy Shrouds Halliburton Hiring Frenzy

A report on Halliburton subsidiary Kellogg, Brown & Root's efforts to hire manpower to fulfill its Middle East contracts, via MSNBC:

The recruits are required to sign an agreement pledging not to talk to the media, according to one of the pest control contractors, who asked that his name not be used...he expects to make as much as $125,000 a year, which he says is significantly more than he would make here in Houston, where he has been in business for himself since the early 1980s. He was recruited by a friend in the pest business who has already been sent off to his assignment.

The pest controller said he met recruits from a number of different countries and different trades. Before being hired, however, they must pass a physical and background check.

"It was just like an Army recruiting center," he says...

According to a Wyndham employee, KBR has been conducting the recruitment operation at the hotel since the first of the year and is expected to continue hiring through the end of the year and possibly into the next.

dystopia 2:22 PM - [Link]

Phosphate Dispersal Called a Gamble

Another short-sighted (and possibly illegal) idea from the GOP's EPA, via Tampa Bay Online--Florida's fixin' to disperse more than 500 million gallons of treated phosphate wastewater with elevated levels of nitrogen and ammonia into the Gulf of Mexico:

The Florida Department of Environmental Protection is charged with executing the permit, issued April 9 in response to the threat that Piney Point's wastewater storage ponds were in danger of overflowing highly toxic untreated chemical waste into Bishop's Harbor, subsequently contaminating Tampa Bay...

The timetable is frustrating many concerned about the dispersal's safety. Some question whether the DEP and EPA are pursuing other remedies, such as sending treated wastewater to commercial incinerators or municipal reclaimed water distribution systems...

Arline said he is focusing on the EPA permit. He said the EPA's proposed area to dump the wastewater likely violates ocean dumping statutes.

Excessive nitrogen and phosphorus from the fertilizer runoff flowing into the Gulf of Mexico from agricultural areas create the Dead Zone, a large area in the Gulf that's depleted of oxygen (and sea life) from late spring until fall every year.

dystopia 1:15 PM - [Link]

Half of Dealers Willing to Sell Handguns Illegally

Via the NY Times:

A study released today by researchers at UCLA says half of firearms dealers questioned in an undercover survey were willing to allow buyers to make "straw purchases" that could violate federal law...

The researchers said the report, which they described as the first academic study of its kind, demonstrated the willingness of many dealers "to ignore or sidestep" laws...

Researchers...posing as potential buyers, called 120 dealers in 20 cities, giving different scenes for wanting to buy guns. The researchers found that when they said they wanted to buy guns for a boyfriend or girlfriend who "needs it," 52.5 percent of dealers were willing to make the sales.

dystopia 12:35 PM - [Link]

Bill Seeks to End Industry-Paid Travel for FCC

McCain's bill also includes a one-year ban on former FCC employees working as lobbyists for at least a year after they leave the agency, according to the Denver Post:

"Although this is perfectly legal and it is often appropriate for FCC officials and staff to attend such conventions, conferences or meetings, it should be without the appearance of impropriety," said McCain, R-Ariz. "Therefore, the bill authorizes the commission sufficient funds to pay for their own travel costs in the future..."

Accepting trips paid for by others is allowed under government policy and is done by most government agencies...

"Given the attention on the FCC and its importance, McCain feels pretty strongly some of the changes need to be made and he'll probably get support for them," said Robert Brandon, spokesman for the Consumer Federation of America. "This has sort of hit a raw nerve with a lot of the public."

The Post doesn't give the bill good odds. Some background links:

FCC Lives Large Off Lobbyist Bribes
FCC and Industry Maintain Cozy Relationship
The FCC’s Rapidly Revolving Door
US Media Dig Deep for Politicians

dystopia 12:18 PM - [Link]

Today in Dystopian History: June 17

1579: Francis Drake landed north of San Francisco Bay and claimed New Albion (California) for England.

1775: The British attacked and defeated the rebel army on Breeds Hill, an event now known as the Battle of Bunker Hill.

1864: In Washington, DC, 21 female munitions workers were killed in an explosion, the worst civilian disaster during the Civil War.

1873: Susan B Anthony went on trial for voting; the presiding judge opposed women's suffrage and wrote his decision before the trial started. Refusing to let Anthony testify, he ordered the jury to find her guilty, then sentenced her to pay a $100 fine.

1903: In Philadelphia, Mary Harris "Mother" Jones led a rally to focus public attention on children mutilated in the state's textile mills.

1907: The Equality Colony in Washington State closed; the community was founded by Socialists who hoped to "capture the state of Washington for socialism."

1930: The Smoot-Hawley Tariff was signed into law by President Hoover, raising tariffs to their highest level in history.

1954: The CIA supplied and directed forces in the overthrow of the constitutionally elected government of Jacabo Arbenz Guzman; decades of government-sponsored genocide against the Guatemalan Indians followed.

1963: The Supreme Court ruled 8-1 that states cannot require the recitation of the Lord's Prayer or Bible verses in public schools.

1972: Five men were arrested for the Watergate burglary.

1991: The Supreme Court ruled that prison conditions such as overcrowding, poor sanitation, and exposure to violence did not violate the 8th Amendment's prohibition of cruel and unusual punishment.

1997: Washington voters approved public financing of a new football stadium for billionaire Paul Allen's Seahawks, in the first US election ever directly financed by an individual for the direct financial benefit of that individual; Allen paid the state for election costs.

2001: Japan's Weekly Post reported that Japanese Foreign Minister Makiko Tanaka said of George W Bush, "He is totally an asshole."

dystopia 10:35 AM - [Link]

Monday, June 16, 2003

For Whistleblowers, Virtue May Be Only Reward

A former CFO for a major defense contractor was one of the few who came out ahead; most others don't fare so well. The LA Times reports:

Bagley's share of the settlement, 24.5%, is close to the maximum allowed under federal law. But he didn't pop any champagne when he learned that, after nine grueling years, he had finally won his case.

"If I knew what I know now, I would not do it again," he said, slouching in a tattered armchair in his one-bedroom apartment here. A quiet man with white hair and Coke-bottle glasses, he continued, "I could easily have ended up homeless."

Bagley's lonely odyssey highlights the personal sacrifice made by whistleblowers, most of whom never see a dime for their efforts. Taking on your employer is "like being a skunk at a picnic," said Sen. Charles E Grassley (R-Iowa). "Win or lose, you've probably ruined your reputation, and perhaps even your health."

dystopia 4:57 PM - [Link]

A Test of Loyalty

A son remembers his parents, executed fifty years ago this week at the height of the Red Scare, in the LA Times:

But in the years since then, it has become more difficult to hold so firmly to the beliefs of my childhood. As long ago as the early 1980s, when I was in law school, I began to rethink some of my most basic assumptions. And after the end of the Cold War, new evidence emerged. This included the Venona cables — electronic transmissions, sent from the Soviet Consulate in New York to Moscow during World War II, that had been intercepted and decrypted by the Americans...

When the Venona transcriptions were released in 1995, I wanted to face the revelations honestly. I didn't want to ignore reality or defend my parents blindly. After all, I am not my parents' lawyer, but their son. So I spent a good deal of time studying the information, trying to reach an honest conclusion. Some people who don't know me assume I must be in denial or despair. Neither is the case...

My father might have helped pass secrets to the Russians during World War II. But "might" is the key word...There is no doubt in my mind that my mother was executed for a crime she did not commit.

Mine either.

dystopia 4:37 PM - [Link]

Brother Busey

Speaking of TV shows, I watched with some trepidation the previews for Gary Busey's new show debuting tomorrow on Comedy Central. It looks like ol' Gary's been away from home too long.

I first knew of him when he played Teddy Jack Eddy on the Mazeppa Pompazoidi Show thirty years ago. He was already pretty wired back then but he didn't have the, um, neurological issues yet.

dystopia 3:11 PM - [Link]

TV Autopsies Leave Families Horrified

When I saw this show was airing I wondered about families who would give permission for their loved ones' bodies to be used this way. It turns out--nobody asked them. From the Tennessean:

The Maryland couple wants to know why Metro Medical Examiner Bruce Levy allowed a film crew inside the county morgue for the cable TV series, and they want city officials to prevent any such filming. Metro officials said they are reviewing participation in the television show...

"Do we need to carry around a little card in our wallet that says we don't want to be cut up and viewed on TV? Is that what it's going to come to?" said the dead man's father, Francis Reidy Jr...

A nationally recognized bio-ethicist said the practice of showing bodies that could be identified by loved ones on TV without consent is wrong. "Not only is it unethical, it's inexcusable," said Arthur Caplan, chairman of the department of medical ethics at the University of Pennsylvania. He also said it's exploitative if the show uses the homeless and unclaimed bodies for which no next of kin are found.

dystopia 2:42 PM - [Link]

Down and Out in White-Collar America

A sobering dose of reality via Fortune:

At first glance, the pain seems hard to understand. After all, at 6.1%, the unemployment rate is still well below the 7.4% it averaged in the 1980s and early '90s. The stock market has gained 13% since January, while corporate profits are up 15% from last year's levels...

So what's keeping people like Hill and Thompson from finding jobs?...Increasingly, supereducated and highly paid workers are finding themselves traveling the same road their blue-collar peers took in the late '80s...suffering from the triple threat of computerization, tech-led productivity gains, and the relocation of their jobs to offshore sites. Machines--or low-wage foreigners--could just as easily do their work...

The scariest blue-collar parallel, however, is only just beginning to be felt in the white-collar world: overseas competition...service firms are now shifting jobs to cheaper locales like India and the Philippines. It's not just call centers anymore. Indian radiologists now analyze CT scans and chest X-rays for American patients in an office park in Bangalore, not far from where Ernst & Young has 200 accountants processing US tax returns. E&Y's tax prep center in India is only 18 months old, but the company already has plans to double its size. Corporate America is quickly learning that a cubicle can be replicated overseas as easily as a shop floor can.

Even the GOP's exporting jobs these days.

dystopia 2:28 PM - [Link]

Day of the African Child

Birth registration is this year's theme for UNICEF's Day of the African Child, which is today. From BBC News:

Africa has the highest rate of unregistered children in the world...Millions of children in Africa could be missing out on their rights to health care and education because they are not being registered at birth...UNICEF said 70% of newborn children in the continent are not registered.

According to the children's organisation, without a birth certificate a child is a "non-person", unable to prove their age, nationality or who their parents are.

dystopia 2:08 PM - [Link]

Africa's Wildlife to Be Privatized

A Dutch tycoon and conservationist has embarked on a commercial venture to try to save some of Africa's ailing wildlife reserves. According to BBC News, his plans have gained both supporters and detractors:

Mr Mandela told him that Africa had so many other priorities, including education, social services and treating HIV/Aids, he says, that there were few resources left over to provide for the continent's wildlife...

Mr van Vlissingen claims the Marakele national park which the company runs north of Johannesburg has been a success, with a number of rare species now well established. Now he is looking further afield and he already has a contract to run two parks in Zambia, Sioma Ngwezi and Liuwa Plains...

Speaking at the press conference in Lusaka, Livingstone MP Sakwiba Sikota said people behind the proposed management of the parks by African Parks should be exposed and investigated. "This is an ill-conceived agreement, it borders on theft and plunder of the resources of the people of Barotseland and should be thrown out

Malawi tourism authorities said that few animals remain in their park "owing to heavy poaching, so it is best to forget about mammals and appreciate the reserve simply as a beautiful wilderness area."

dystopia 1:55 PM - [Link]

Tidal Energy Turbine Launched

A new renewable energy scheme is developing off the British coast, via BBC News:

Martin Wright, of Marine Current Turbines Ltd, said: "We estimate that there is at least 10 gigawatts of power available from tidal power in the UK. "That's the same as about half of the existing nuclear industry."

A marine current turbine looks like a smaller version of a modern windmill and the principle is exactly the same.

But whereas a windmill draws energy from the movement of air, the marine turbine uses currents in the water.

Its backers believe the concept can become a rival to wind power because ocean currents are more reliable than wind and also because they are less obtrusive; the structure is built on the seabed and projects just a few metres above the surface.

Also, a proposed wind farm is catching some heat in Cape Cod.

dystopia 1:21 PM - [Link]

Classified DIA Report Said No Evidence of WMD says the Defense Intelligence Agency issued a report last November informing the Bush administration that there was "no reliable information" showing that Iraq was actually producing or stockpiling chemical weapons:

The newly-disclosed DIA report, classified "secret," is entitled, "Iraq's Nuclear, Biological and Chemical Weapon and Missile Program: Progress, Prospects, and Potential Vulnerabilities." Its existence raises more questions about the quality of US intelligence before the March invasion. In one section about Iraq's chemical weapons capabilities, the report says: "No reliable information indicates whether Iraq is producing and stockpiling chemical weapons or where the country has or will establish its chemical agent production facility." The report cites suspicious weapons transfers and improvements on Iraq's "dual-use" chemical infrastructure. Nonetheless, says a DIA spokesman, "there was no single piece of irrefutable data that said [Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein] definitely has it..."

Thanks to The 18½ Minute Gap for the tip.

dystopia 12:58 PM - [Link]

Using the Rules Committee to Block Democrats

A Washington Post article on the GOP's tyranny in the House:

On many high-profile issues, Dreier, whose committee decides the rules for each debate, has refused to allow Democrats an opportunity to offer a substitute amendment on the House floor. He has infuriated Democrats by denying them votes on their plans for everything from unemployment insurance to tax cuts.

This may sound like inside baseball, but it has a huge impact on what bills pass the House and become laws.

By preventing Democrats from offering amendments, Republicans virtually eliminate the possibility of the House passing legislation not endorsed or written by GOP leaders...Republicans also protect their members from swing districts from having to vote for or against some bills that could hurt them politically in the next election...

The Rules Committee, unlike all other House committees, is stacked with so many members of the majority that minority members are often rendered impotent. Republicans hold nine seats, Democrats four...

dystopia 12:14 PM - [Link]

Former Aide Takes Aim at War on Terror

A former Bush counterterrorism advisor's conscience won out over his prestigious White House position. A hair-raising read in the Washington Post:

"Things were dicey," said Rand Beers, recalling the stack of classified reports about plots to shoot, bomb, burn and poison Americans. He stared at the color-coded threats for five minutes. Then he called his wife: I'm quitting...

"The administration wasn't matching its deeds to its words in the war on terrorism. They're making us less secure, not more secure...As an insider, I saw the things that weren't being done. And the longer I sat and watched, the more concerned I became, until I got up and walked out..."

"It's a very closed, small, controlled group. This is an administration that determines what it thinks and then sets about to prove it. There's almost a religious kind of certainty. There's no curiosity about opposing points of view. It's very scary. There's kind of a ghost agenda."

dystopia 11:44 AM - [Link]

Today in Dystopian History: June 16

1700: Massachusetts enacted a law requiring Roman Catholic priests to leave the colony within three months.

1775: George Washington spoke to Congress following his appointment as commander-in-chief of the Continental Army; as a gesture of civic virtue, he declined a salary but asked that Congress pay his expenses at the close of the war.

1857: In the Great New York Police Riot, Metropolitan Police tried to arrest the mayor at City Hall, defended by scores of Municipal Police; officers on both sides wielded truncheons, fists, and pieces of furniture.

1858: In a speech in Springfield, IL, Senate candidate Abraham Lincoln declared that the issue of slavery must be resolved saying, "A house divided against itself cannot stand."

1918: Eugene Debs delivered his famous Canton, OH, anti-war speech; the speech was later used to make the case that he had violated the Espionage Act.

1941: President Roosevelt ordered that all German and Italian consulates in the country should be closed.

1947: President Truman vetoed a $4 billion income tax reduction bill as being unfair to small taxpayer.

1961: President Kennedy reached an agreement with South Vietnam for the direct training and combat supervision of Vietnamese troops by US instructors.

1964: Armed white men surrounded the Mt Zion Methodist Church in Philadelphia, MS, and after beating several blacks, they burned the church to the ground.

1968: In a friendly fire incident, USAF F-4 jets sunk a US patrol boat and attacked the USS Boston and the Australian HMAS Hobart for three hours off Vietnam near the DMZ.

1980: The Supreme Court ruled that new forms of life created in the laboratory could be patented.

1992: Former Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger was indicted for perjury and obstruction of the congressional probe into the Iran-Contra matter.

dystopia 10:08 AM - [Link]

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Thom Hartmann Editorials

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Public Opinion:

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TV Worth Watching:


Daily Show

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History Channel

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Trivial Pursuits:

Biblical Curse Generator


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Mark Fiore's Animated Political Cartoons



Puppet Man

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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)