The Daily Dystopian

Archive Search

09/21/03 - 09/27/03
09/14/03 - 09/20/03
09/07/03 - 09/13/03
08/31/03 - 09/06/03
08/24/03 - 08/30/03
08/17/03 - 08/23/03
08/10/03 - 08/16/03
08/03/03 - 08/09/03
07/27/03 - 08/02/03
07/20/03 - 07/26/03
07/13/03 - 07/19/03
07/06/03 - 07/12/03
06/29/03 - 07/05/03
06/22/03 - 06/28/03
06/15/03 - 06/21/03
06/08/03 - 06/14/03
06/01/03 - 06/07/03
05/25/03 - 05/31/03
05/18/03 - 05/24/03
05/11/03 - 05/17/03
05/04/03 - 05/10/03
04/27/03 - 05/03/03
04/20/03 - 04/26/03
04/13/03 - 04/19/03
04/06/03 - 04/12/03
03/30/03 - 04/05/03
03/23/03 - 03/29/03
03/16/03 - 03/22/03

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

E-mail: dailydys at yahoo dot com

This page is powered by Blog Studio.
and s-integrator

Saturday, June 28, 2003

Trying Time for Cable News

You're not still watching that crap, are you? Good--I knew you had more sense than that. From Newsday:

We have three big trials on the cable docket: Scott Peterson, Martha Stewart and Eric Rudolph, the Olympic bombing suspect. The Peterson preliminary hearing starts July 16. Rudolph's trial is Aug 4. Stewart has been denied the right to a speedy trial by having hers rescheduled from the original start, which was to take place this month....

Once the three trials kick in, I predict, everything else will disappear from the cable news screens. You will be hard-pressed to get any news about the peace process in the Middle East or whether North Korea is going to start a war. But we will have every leaked detail of what the grand jury says.

"It's in the cards. Unless you watch BBC this summer," my friend Denny warns, "we won't know what's going on in the rest of the world."

Had a traumatic episode over Memorial Day weekend while out visiting the family. The TV was on CNN, some hour-long special about the Middle East or something, when someone piped up and said, "I just can't wait until that Peterson trial starts!" My initial impulse was to fall to the floor and lay there twitching, but I managed not to.

dystopia 1:58 PM - [Link]

Cheney and the CIA: Not Business As Usual

A long-time veteran of the CIA vents his outrage in the Hartford Courant:

As though this were normal! I mean the repeated visits Vice President Dick Cheney made to the CIA before the war in Iraq. The visits were, in fact, unprecedented. During my 27-year career at the Central Intelligence Agency, no vice president ever came to us for a working visit...

Cheney got into the operational side of intelligence as well. Reports in late 2001 that Iraq had tried to acquire uranium from Niger stirred such intense interest that his office let it be known he wanted them checked out. So, with the CIA as facilitator, a retired US ambassador was dispatched to Niger in February 2002 to investigate. He found nothing to substantiate the report and lots to call it into question. There the matter rested - until last summer, after the Bush administration made the decision for war in Iraq...

Cheney, in a speech on Aug 26, 2002, claimed that Saddam Hussein had "resumed his effort to acquire nuclear weapons."

At the time, CIA analysts were involved in a knock-down, drag-out argument with the Pentagon on this very point. Most of the nuclear engineers at the CIA, and virtually all scientists at US government laboratories and the International Atomic Energy Agency, found no reliable evidence that Iraq had restarted its nuclear weapons program.

But the vice president had spoken...

dystopia 1:21 PM - [Link]

2 PC Makers Given Credit and Blame in Recycling

You may or may not know it, but there's some seriously nasty stuff inside our computers. Here's what happens to our trade-ins, via the NY Times:

Until last year, most electronic waste, from products like television sets and computers, had either gone directly into landfills or been shipped to Asian countries, including China, India and Pakistan, for recycling.

The environmental organizations said that the extensive use of the prison system by Dell and others is a significant obstacle to the creation on a profitable recycling industry. "Our interest is in building a high-quality recycling infrastructure in the United States," said Ted Smith, executive director of the Silicon Valley Toxics Coalition. "There are two obstacles to that: one is the export industry, which sends materials to Asia, and the other is the growing reliance on prison labor"...

It notes that inmates who work at the prison recycling operation are paid 20 cents to $1.26 an hour and are not protected by the Fair Labor Standards Act...

It cited a letter from an Atwater prisoner, who wrote: "Even when I wear the paper mask, I blow out black mucus from my nose every day. The black particles in my nose and throat look as if I am a heavy smoker. Cuts and abrasions happen all the time. Of these the open wounds are exposed to the dirt and dust and many do not heal as quickly as normal wounds."

Computer Takeback Campaign
Exporting Harm: The High-Tech Trashing of Asia (PDF)

dystopia 11:51 AM - [Link]

Today in Dystopian History: June 28

1776: Thomas Jefferson's draft of the Declaration of Independence was given to the Continental Congress.

1778: Mary "Molly Pitcher" Hays carried water to soldiers during the Battle of Monmouth; often confused with Margaret "Molly Pitcher" Corbin.

1894: Labor Day was declared an official US holiday by Congress amid intense labor unrest.

1911: Samuel Battle became the first black policeman in NYC.

1919: WWI ended as the Treaty of Versailles was signed.

1940: The anti-sedition Alien Registration, or Smith Act, was enacted.

1960: In Cuba, Fidel Castro confiscated American-owned oil refineries without compensation.

1961: A Los Angeles boy won a $600,000 suit against a pharmaceutical company; he was totally paralyzed after being inoculated with their live-virus polio serum.

1969: The Stonewall Rebellion in NYC launched the modern gay rights movement.

1971: The Supreme Court overturned the draft evasion conviction of Muhammad Ali.

1972: President Nixon announced that no more draftees would be sent to Vietnam unless they volunteered to go.

1972: White House Counsel John Dean handed two incriminating files from Howard Hunt's safe to Acting FBI Director L Patrick Gray, suggesting that they "should never see the light of day."

1978: The Supreme Court upheld affirmative action programs in general, but ordered Alan Bakke admitted to UC Davis Medical College.

1988: The US defense attache, Navy Capt William Nordeen, was killed in Athens by a car bomb.

1994: The US Department of Energy disclosed that hundreds of citizens were unwittingly used for radiation experiments during the Cold War.

1998: The Cincinnati Enquirer apologized to Chiquita Banana and retracted stories questioning their business practices; the paper agreed to pay more than $10 million to settle legal claims.

2000: The European Commission announced they had blocked a planned merger between WorldCom and Sprint due to competition concerns.

2001: The US Court of Appeals set aside an order to break up Microsoft, but the judges did agree that the company was in violation of antitrust laws.

2002: Angola fined US oil giant ChevronTexaco $2 million for environmental damage, holding them liable for failing to replace obsolete pipes, causing several oil spills.

dystopia 9:48 AM - [Link]

Friday, June 27, 2003

Why I'm Not Ashamed to be an American

An outstanding essay by Bill Kauffman:

In the wake of Vietnam and Watergate, John Fogerty of the terrific (if weather-mad) band Creedence Clearwater Revival recalled "feeling this shame just sweep over me...I was terribly ashamed of our country."

He needn't have been, as he soon realized. For Richard Nixon was "not my country. He's those guys--over in Washington. First thing I thought about was the Grand Canyon and my friends and neighbors--and the people all across the country. The people in power aren't my country any more than a bunch of gangsters are my country."

Nor is the Fortunate Son in his fortified bunker on Pennsylvania Avenue my country--or your country, either, unless you are as thin and insubstantial as one of those vapid wraiths hissing of empire on CNN or MSNBC or any of the other alphabetical collisions in our corporate-media soup.

There are two Americas: the televised America, known and hated by the world, and the rest of us...

So no, I do not feel "ashamed" of my country, for America, as John Fogerty understood, is not Bush or Cheney or Lieberman or Kerry but my friends, my neighbors, and yes, the Grand Canyon, too. Even better, it is the little canyon and the rude stream and Tom Sawyer's cave and all those places whose names we know, whose myths we have memorized, and whose existence remains quite beyond the ken of the Department of Homeland Security.

God bless Brother Bill--he really gets it. I'm doin' what I can to try to make sure everyone else gets it, too. That's the purpose of the Dystopian History post every day--to try to intrigue you with lesser-known odds and ends from our nation's history, to make you want to learn more. I don't think you can really understand who we are as Americans, and where we're going, unless you can appreciate where we've been and how we got to here.

History isn't just stuff that happened a long time ago--we live it daily. Our descendants are going to study us someday, and they're going to wonder why we were such careless fools that we stood by and let a totalitarian regime bring down the world's democratic ideal.

It's not that we (the people) don't have the power to change whatever's wrong with our government--we do. I'm thinking it must be some kind of learned helplessness that keeps us from using it.

dystopia 3:16 PM - [Link]

With Hastert in the House, Illinois Cleans Up

Porkadelic in the Prairie State, per the Chicago Sun-Times:

In the battle for federal dollars, House Speaker J Dennis Hastert is the Illinois advantage.

Hastert, 61, who is in his fifth year as the GOP leader of the US House, saw to it that Illinois will receive more than $422 million over the next two years in direct state aid.

In addition, he obtained $769.9 million for his home state in Medicaid funding over the next two years...

The power of pork:

Staffer Lifts Veil on Post-9/11 Defense Pork
The Problem with Pork
Porker of the Month Hall of Shame

Pork also makes an excellent political lever to wedge a candidate out of a last-minute jam:

Green Light for Highways in Key States

dystopia 2:46 PM - [Link]

Smoking Pot Doesn't Harm Brain Function

Yahoo! News says:

The studies tested the mental functions of routine pot smokers, but not while they were actually high, Grant said.

The results, published in the July issue of the Journal of the International Neuropsychological Society, show that marijuana has only a marginally harmful long-term effect on learning and memory.

No effect at all was seen on other functions, including reaction time, attention, language, reasoning ability, and perceptual and motor skills.

Grant said the findings are particularly significant amid questions about marijuana's long-term toxicity now that several states are considering whether to make it available as a medicinal drug.

Interesting. Just wish the study came out of, say, a midwestern university instead of a California one, for some reason.

You know, having been a teenager in the 70s and a young adult in the early 80s, I did have occasion to sample a variety of recreational substances and found pot to be the least objectionable of them all. Nowadays, I'm very much opposed to ingesting man-made chemicals whenever I can avoid it, but I don't really have any issues with pot or with pot smokers. They're some of the best-natured, most gentle people I've ever known, and pot is an organic substance that doesn't require any processing beyond drying to use.

It used to make no sense to me--how is it that I can grow potentially deadly plants like belladonna or digitalis in my own backyard and no one will arrest me, but I cannot grow a plant that doesn't kill but only makes a person calm and pleasantly goofy? When tobacco and alcohol and prescription drugs are not only legal, their industries still have tremendous power in Washington despite decades of citizen activitism and indisputable proof of the danger of their use and/or abuse?

I used to think pot would become legal when all the old dinosaurs died off who had never personally sampled the stuff, but instead based their opinions on propaganda like Reefer Madness. Then I started learning about the politics of pot, and I began to understand the investment in keeping it illegal.

Meanwhile, sick people who could be helped, aren't. Perfectly harmless Americans are forced undercover like criminals. And the prison-for-profit industry is booming.

dystopia 2:12 PM - [Link]

US Sues Enron Over Pension Losses

The Labor Department is suing Enron and its former executives and directors to try to recover pension funds lost in the swindle. I'm sure it's all been stashed offshore long ago, so lotsa luck to 'em on recovering anything.

If this doesn't just turn out to be just a pre-election PR thing--since when does Elaine Chao give a good crap about the ordinary citizen?

The Boston Globe reports:

The department suit, filed in federal court in Houston, seeks to have the defendants barred from any future positions of responsibility as trustees of pension funds and, in some instances, seeks financial damages from them.

It also names Enron's former directors, who include Wendy Gramm -- former head of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission and wife of ex-Senator Phil Gramm, Republican of Texas.

The specific allegation against the company's outside directors is that they failed to appoint a trustee to manage the Enron stock held by the employee stock ownership plan, which was separate from the company's 401(k) plans.

Here's why I don't trust our Secretary of Labor:

Chao's Family Ties
The Real Elaine Chao
Model Minority's Poster Child

dystopia 1:29 PM - [Link]

Doctor of Revisionism

Yahoo! News reports:

The Republican leader in the Senate said that Iraq's weapons of mass destruction was not the main justification for the US-led invasion of Iraq.

"I'm not sure that's the major reason we went to war," Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist told NBC television's Today Show...

Billmon culled the quotes that illustrate how the cat-killer Senator changed his tune since the war started.

dystopia 12:34 PM - [Link]

Toward One-Party Rule

I don't usually mention Paul Krugman's columns because I figure you already read them. Just in case you don't, though, be sure to read today's column and the Washington Monthly article he cites:

Mr Confessore suggests that we may be heading for a replay of the McKinley era, in which the nation was governed by and for big business. I think he's actually understating his case: like Mr DeLay, Republican leaders often talk of "revolution," and we should take them at their word.

Why isn't the ongoing transformation of US politics — which may well put an end to serious two-party competition — getting more attention? Most pundits, to the extent they acknowledge that anything is happening, downplay its importance. For example, last year an article in Business Week titled The GOP's Wacky War on Dem Lobbyists dismissed the K Street Project as "silly — and downright futile." In fact, the project is well on the way to achieving its goals.

Whatever the reason, there's a strange disconnect between most political commentary and the reality of the 2004 election. As in 2000, pundits focus mainly on images — John Kerry's furrowed brow, Mr Bush in a flight suit — or on supposed personality traits. But it's the nexus of money and patronage that may well make the election a foregone conclusion.

dystopia 12:13 PM - [Link]

Meet Michael Ledeen

Sinister dude profiled in Asia Times:

When The Washington Post published a list of the people whom Karl Rove, President George W Bush's closest advisor, regularly consults for advice outside the administration, foreign policy veterans were shocked when Michael Ledeen popped up as the only full-time international affairs analyst.

"The two met after Bush's election," the Post reported cheerfully, quoting Ledeen about Rove's request that "any time you have a good idea, tell me". "More than once, Ledeen has seen his ideas, faxed to Rove, become official policy or rhetoric," noted the newspaper.

"When I saw that, I couldn't believe it," said one retired senior diplomat. "But then again, with this administration, it seemed frighteningly plausible."

No kiddin'.

dystopia 11:57 AM - [Link]

Very Richest's Share of Income Grew Even Bigger

When do you have enough money? Beyond being able to comfortably cover the necessities and educate the kids and provide for your retirement and still have a few extras, what is the point of having millions more? What is it really worth? (*sigh*) I just don't get it.

Another good article for your voter education file, in the NY Times:

The 400 wealthiest taxpayers accounted for more than 1 percent of all the income in the United States in the year 2000, more than double their share just eight years earlier, according to new data from the Internal Revenue Service. But their tax burden plummeted over the period...

Yeah, and I'll bet 395 of 'em are some of the most useless beings on earth.

dystopia 11:27 AM - [Link]

Strom Thurmond Dead at 100

My first thought?

Ding Dong! The witch is dead--which old witch? The wicked...

Never mind--that's not nice.

Gosh, it's a catchy tune, though. Prob'ly be stuck in my head all day.

dystopia 11:03 AM - [Link]

Today In Dystopian History: June 27

1776: Thomas Hickey was convicted of planning to hand George Washington over to the British; he was the first person executed by the US Army.

1833: Prudence Crandall, a white woman, was arrested for conducting an academy for black females at Canterbury, CT.

1844: Mormon founder Joseph Smith and his brother Hyrum were taken from a jail in Carthage, IL, and lynched.

1848: The first pure drug law was enacted in the US.

1874: Using new high-powered rifles to devastating effect, 28 buffalo hunters repulsed a much larger force of attacking Indians at Adobe Walls, an old trading post in the Texas panhandle.

1893: A major stock market plunge began, leading to a depression which caused 600 banks and 74 railroads to go out of business by year's end.

1893: Ernest Murphy was lynched at Dalevile, AL.
1896: Perry Young was lynched at Winona, MS.
1900: Jack Thomas was lynched at Live Oak, FL.
1900: Robert Davis was lynched at Mulberry, FL.
1900: Jordan Hines was lynched at Molena, GA.
1908: Walter Wilkins and Albert Baker were lynched at Waycross, GA.
1913: William Robinson was lynched in Lambert, MS.

1934: The National Housing Act created the FHA to undertake a nationwide system of home loan insurance, and established minimum housing standards.

1950: President Truman committed US military support in the French war to reoccupy Vietnam by sending advisors and weapons worth $15 million, beginning direct US intervention in the country.

1954: CIA-sponsored rebels completed the overthrow of the democratically-elected government of Guatemala.

1973: John Dean told the Watergate Committee about President Nixon's enemies list, and released a 1971 memo proposing the use of "available federal machinery to screw our political enemies" with IRS audits, litigation, prosecution, or denial of federal grants.

1973: President Nixon vetoed a Senate ban on bombing in Cambodia.

1980: President Carter signed legislation reviving draft registration.

1984: The FCC moved to deregulate commercial TV by lifting most programming requirements and ending day-part restrictions on advertising.

1985: The House of Representatives voted to limit the use of combat troops in Nicaragua.

1986: In the Hague, the World Court ruled the US had broken international law by aiding Nicaraguan rebels.

1996: In Bolivia, US-based Enron agreed to a revised contract for construction of a $1.5 billion natural gas pipeline, after critics charged that the original 1994 contract was contrary to Bolivia's national interests.

dystopia 9:57 AM - [Link]

Thursday, June 26, 2003

Toxic Sludge on Fields Fodder for Lawsuits

In the NY Times:

The farmers outside Augusta, GA, say the hay had a musty chemical odor and was dark and mottled. But they fed it to the cows. Then the cows started to waste away, growing so thin that their ribs could be counted through their skin, the dairy farmers say. The cows died by the hundreds.

"We just couldn't save them...They wouldn't respond to antibodies. They wouldn't respond to IV fluids. They wouldn't respond to anything. They just ended up dying"...

In fact, many farmers say processed sewer sludge is a cheap and effective fertilizer, and organic farmers prefer biosolids over chemical fertilizers...But some farmers say that EPA regulation has not guaranteed safety. There are 15,000 municipal wastewater treatment plants in the United States — too many for inspectors to visit regularly. These farmers contend that toxic residues in improperly treated sludge have hurt health, crops and land.

PRWatch has an archive of good articles on toxic sludge, heavy metals and the EPA; you could say they wrote the book on it.

dystopia 4:36 PM - [Link]

Colombian Court Halts US-Backed Aerial Spraying

Practicing a little self-determination in Colombia, via BBC News:

The administrative tribunal of Cundinamarca ruled that spraying of coca crops must be stopped until a study is conducted to determine the effects of the chemicals on the environment and public health...

The chemical cocktail glyphosate sprayed from planes on coca crops, the raw material for cocaine, has been dogged with controversy. It is a cousin of the defoliant Agent Orange used by the US in Vietnam.

Peasant farmers have long complained that the chemicals kill all crops and ruin their livelihoods, leaving many no option except to join the warring factions or cut down more virgin Amazonian forest to sow more drugs.

Good for them. I don't think this "war on drugs" is really about the drugs anyway. Did you know that a 1994 Rand Corporation study found that $1 spent on drug treatment was as effective as $23 spent on crop eradication? Which means $22 less dollars that somebody along the line gets to make.

dystopia 4:06 PM - [Link]

Income Immobility

Good analysis and graphics via CalPundit for your voter education file:

There is little question that income inequality has increased in the United States over the past few decades. In fact, the increase has been so dramatic that conservatives no longer even try to deny the basic facts, but instead suggest that, really, things aren't all that bad if you're just willing to look below the surface a bit.

Their favorite archeological dig along these lines — it's practically a mantra on the Wall Street Journal editorial page — is that what really matters is not income inequality but income mobility. Sure, inequality has gotten worse, but who cares when America is a land of opportunity where the poor so often become rich?

This has always been a bit dishonest, since "poor" often refers to college students and other young people who naturally become better off as they grow older. But it turns out that even taken on its own terms, it's a bogus argument because income mobility is also decreasing in America. The rich are getting richer, they are staying richer, and the poor are increasingly stuck being poor.

dystopia 2:48 PM - [Link]

Dying for Your Dinner

Something I didn't know, from the Common Dreams NewsWire:

“Most shrimp farmed in developing countries are eaten in Europe, the USA and Japan. Consumers in these countries must be made aware that when they eat shrimp they may be dining on a delicacy responsible for hunger, suffering, and death,” said Steve Trent...

Child labour in the industry has been reported from Sri Lanka, India, Bangladesh, Thailand, Cambodia, Indonesia, Peru, Ecuador and Burma (Myanmar). Child labourers in processing units are exposed to chemicals, cold conditions and suffer cuts to hands and feet which can rapidly become infected due to the unsanitary conditions. Children collecting shrimp fry to stock shrimp farms in Bangladesh spend up to 13 hours in and around water. Many suffer skin and respiratory disorders as a consequence.

Murders directly linked to the industry have occurred in Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, Brazil, Ecuador, Vietnam, India, Indonesia, Thailand, Bangladesh and the Philippines...

In Ecuador, in 2000, it was reported in the daily newspaper “Hoy” that prawn exporters with incomes over $591 million paid just $47,450 in taxes.

dystopia 1:42 PM - [Link]

The K Street Project

From the Washington Post:

Nearly a decade after Republicans launched a campaign to oust Democrats from top lobbying jobs in Washington, sometimes through intimidation and private threats, they are seizing a significant number of the most influential positions at trade associations and corporate government affairs offices -- and reaping big financial rewards.

Partly because of the "K Street Project" -- and partly because of GOP control of Congress and the presidency -- virtually every major company or trade association looking for new top-level representation is hiring or seeking to hire a prominent Republican politician or staffer, according to Republicans and Democrats tracking the situation...

The K Street project -- named for the Washington corridor thick with lobbying firms -- also is planting a new crop of Republican lobbyists rich enough to give back to the party in the years ahead.

Hold on--I just need to sit here quietly for a minute...

I knew, mind skitters away from thinking about it on this scale, with such structured, long-range plans. This is vile. Do you understand that these people are selling our country right out from under us? These guys are on an ideological mission to consolidate an obscene amount of power, locking in every branch of the government--executive, legislative, judicial, all the federal agencies--even down to the state and local levels.

This is why electronic voting machines bug me so much--just one more nail in the coffin of the democratic process.

The next decade or so should be very interesting.

dystopia 12:41 PM - [Link]

House GOP Targets Law on Meat Origin Labels

Aaack! What is wrong with these idiots? I can hardly eat meat as it is, and I'm not even a vegetarian. From the Washington Post:

Backed by meatpackers, pork producers and grocery chains, House Republicans today will try to undo legislation that requires stores to tell consumers what country their meat and meat products come from, starting in October 2004...

The "country of origin labeling" legislation, nicknamed "COOL," was included in the 2002 farm bill at the urging of consumer groups and US food producers facing strong foreign competition. But a provision in the draft version of the 2004 agricultural appropriations bill, which the House Appropriations Committee will take up today, would bar the Agriculture Department from implementing the labeling requirement for beef, pork, lamb and fish...

Pushing to drop the requirement are powerful food and retail lobbies, including the American Meat Institute (the meatpackers' trade organization), the National Pork Producers Council, the Food Marketing Institute, the Grocery Manufacturers of America and the National Grocers Association. The Grocers Association's Web site describes the labeling requirement as "burdensome," and urges members to "tell USDA that this program can't be improved -- it should be scrapped."

Burdensome, my ass. I want to know what I'm eating.

dystopia 12:17 PM - [Link]

Today in Dystopian History: June 26

1721: Dr Zabdiel Boylston gave the first smallpox inoculations in America.

1767: Parliament passed the first Townshend Act.

1893: The surviving Haymarket anarchists who weren't hanged by the state were pardoned by Illinois governor John Altgeld, effectively ending his political career.

1900: The US announced it was sending troops to fight against the Boxer Rebellion in China.

1917: IN WWI, the first 14,000 US infantry troops landed in France.

1919: John Hartfield was lynched in Ellisville, MS.

1934: The National Firearms Act, the first federal gun law, was signed.

1948: The US began the Berlin airlift of food, water, and medicine; for nearly a year, supplies from American planes sustained over 2 million people in West Berlin.

1950: President Truman committed US forces to aid South Korean troops in resisting North Korea, which had invaded the day before.

1952: The NY Times reported that the State Department had fired 119 alleged homosexuals the year before as "security risks."

1965: Gen Westmoreland was given formal authority to commit American troops to battle as he saw fit; US combat forces were no longer restricted to protecting US airbases and other facilities in Vietnam.

1967: 200 people protesting state violence were killed by Somoza's US-trained National Guard in Managua, Nicaragua.

1971: The Justice Department issued a warrant for the arrest of Daniel Ellsberg following publication of the Pentagon Papers.

1975: After terrorizing the reservation, the FBI initiated a shootout at Oglala, SD; the firefight left two FBI agents and a Lakota activist dead.

1989: The Supreme Court ruled that murderers as young as 16 or who were mentally retarded could be sentenced to death.

1990: President Bush, who had campaigned on a pledge of no new taxes, conceded that tax increases would have to be part of any deficit-reduction package.

1992: The Secretary of the Navy resigned, accepting responsibility for a "leadership failure" that resulted in the Tailhook scandal.

1993: US naval forces launched missiles against Iraqi intelligence headquarters in Baghdad following an unsuccessful attempt to assassinate former President Bush.

1998: The US and Peru opened a school to train commandos to patrol Peru's rivers for drug traffickers.

2001: Months before 9/11, India Reacts reported that India and Iran would 'facilitate' US and Russian plans for 'limited military action' against the Taliban; fighting would be done by US and Russian troops with the help of Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.

dystopia 10:17 AM - [Link]

Wednesday, June 25, 2003

The Great Depression

Mark Morford cuts loose on Big Pharma's program to medicate America:

If you answered yes to any or all or even some of the above questions, you might very well be one of the estimated 14 million Americans walking around at this very moment suffering from severe and untreated depression. That's right! You! Very, very depressed! And you think you're fine! But you're not!

Here's how we know: Harvard-trained brain doctors who absolutely swear they have no direct affiliation to the multibillion-dollar pharmacological industry ha-ha yeah right have taken a big survey and discovered that a shockingly huge number of Americans are apparently just totally bummed about one helluva lot of things, and aren't seeking help for it...

These stern-faced doctors and the industry at whose tit they suckle very, very much want you to know that if you feel the slightest bit of stress or sleeplessness or feelings of existential angst, asking wacky eternal questions like, why the hell am I here and what's the point anyway and what's it all for and isn't Bush a total lying dink and God but I'd love more sex and a cool dog and maybe to get my life going in a different direction, why, you need to call them ASAP and get yourself some treatment. Preferably in nice, expensive pill form.

And no, you most definitely do not need to learn new and healthy ways to deeply and profoundly relax and calm down and get yourself and your spirit in tune. What are you, a terrorist wacko?

dystopia 6:27 PM - [Link]

Miller's Role Questioned by Military

How the hell did this chick get so much pull? I'd already heard some stuff about the quality of information found in her reporting, but according to this Washington Post article, she's a real piece of work:

The MET Alpha team was charged with examining potential Iraqi weapon sites in the war's aftermath. Military officers critical of the unit's conduct say its members were not trained in the art of human intelligence -- that is, eliciting information from prisoners and potential defectors. Specialists in such interrogations say the initial hours of questioning are crucial, and several Army and Pentagon officials were upset that MET Alpha officers were debriefing Hussein son-in-law Jamal Sultan Tikriti.

"This was totally out of their lane, getting involved with human intelligence," said one military officer who, like several others interviewed, declined to be named because he is not an authorized spokesman. But, the officer said of Miller, "this woman came in with a plan. She was leading them. . . . She ended up almost hijacking the mission"...

One military officer, who says that Miller sometimes "intimidated" Army soldiers by invoking Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld or Undersecretary Douglas Feith, was sharply critical of the note. "Essentially, she threatened them," the officer said, describing the threat as that "she would publish a negative story."

An Army officer, who regarded Miller's presence as "detrimental," said: "Judith was always issuing threats of either going to the New York Times or to the secretary of defense. There was nothing veiled about that threat," this person said, and MET Alpha "was allowed to bend the rules."

dystopia 6:11 PM - [Link]

US Slow on Bin Laden Drones

Incompetent bastards. From Yahoo! News:

When President Bush took office in January 2001, the White House was told that Predator drones had recently spotted Osama bin Laden as many as three times and officials were urged to arm the unmanned planes with missiles to kill the al-Qaida leader. But the administration failed to get drones back into the Afghan skies until after the Sept 11 attacks later that year...

Top administration officials discussed the mission to kill bin Laden as late as one week before the suicide attacks on New York and Washington, but they had not yet resolved a debate over whether the CIA or Pentagon should operate the armed Predators and whether the missiles would be sufficiently lethal...

Nearly a dozen current and former senior US officials described to AP the extensive discussions in 2000 and 2001 inside the Clinton and Bush administrations about using an armed Predator to kill bin Laden.

So, basically, one might say those 3000 people got talked to death.

dystopia 5:42 PM - [Link]

Enron Gets the Death Penalty

Well, whaddya know? Enron gets more than a hand-slap from FERC for its complicity in the California energy scam. CNN Money reports:

"This is the first time the commission has imposed the so-called death penalty," FERC Chairman Pat Wood said after the unanimous vote of all three commissioners. The order would allow Enron to unwind its current electricity and natural gas positions, but bar trading beyond those limits.

Under federal law, FERC has the right to grant wholesale electricity trading privileges to companies, and can revoke them under extreme conditions...

Enron is among 60 companies ordered by the FERC to explain why they should not repay unfair profits from alleged manipulation of the wholesale power market during the California energy crisis.

Found a March 2001 editorial by none other than Kenny Boy himself:

The situation in California is the result of continued regulation, complicated by a series of natural and man-made factors...


dystopia 4:20 PM - [Link]

Ugandan Rebels Abduct Schoolgirls

Christian extremists kidnapped a busload of students, aged 12-18, from a girls' school. From CNN:

Rebels, fighting to install rule in Uganda according to the Biblical 10 commandments, abducted 30 schoolgirls in a raid in the east of the country, an army spokesman said...

The rebel Lord's Resistance Army (LRA), led by self-proclaimed prophet Joseph Kony, has been fighting the government in northern Uganda since 1987.

The group has earned a terrifying reputation for abducting children to use as child soldiers and sex slaves, and for maiming villagers.

This is an extreme example, of course, but most American Christians would probably be horrified by the kind of Christianity practiced in many Third World countries today. Atlantic Monthly interviewed Philip Jenkins last year on Christianity's new center and the shape of things to come:

The Christianity practiced in Africa, Latin America, and Asia tends to be much more rigidly conservative and traditional than that of the North, and its practitioners are often guided by a strong belief in the power of the supernatural to directly shape their lives...

The most successful Southern churches preach a deep personal faith, communal orthodoxy, mysticism, and puritanism, all founded on obedience to spiritual authority...Whereas Americans imagine a Church freed from hierarchy, superstition, and dogma, Southerners look back to one filled with spiritual power and able to exorcise the demonic forces that cause sickness and poverty.

The places where Christianity is spreading and mutating are also places where the population levels are rising quickly—and, if Jenkins's predictions hold true—will continue to rise throughout the next century. The center of gravity of the Christian world has shifted from Europe and the United States to the Southern Hemisphere and, Jenkins believes, it will never shift back. So when American Catholics, for instance, talk about the necessity and the inevitability of reforms (reforms that Southern Catholics would most likely not condone), they do so without fully realizing that their views on the subject are becoming increasingly irrelevant, because the demographic future of their Church lies elsewhere.

dystopia 3:45 PM - [Link]

Let Judges Do Their Jobs

A retiring federal district judge slams Congress and mandatory sentencing on his way out the door, in the NY Times:

For most of our history, our system of justice operated on the premise that justice in sentencing is best achieved by having a sentence imposed by a judge who, fully informed about the offense and the offender, has discretion to impose a sentence within the statutory limits. Although most judges and legal scholars recognize the need for discretion in sentencing, Congress has continually tried to limit it, initially through the adoption of mandatory-minimum sentencing laws.

Congress's distrust of judicial discretion led to the adoption in 1984 of the Sentencing Reform Act...created on the premise, not unreasonable, that uniformity in sentencing nationwide could be promoted if judges and other criminal law experts provided guidelines for federal judges to follow in imposing sentences. However, Congress has tried to micromanage the work of the commission and has undermined its efforts to provide judges with some discretion in sentencing or to ameliorate excessively harsh terms...

Every sentence imposed affects a human life and, in most cases, the lives of several innocent family members who suffer as a result of a defendant's incarceration. For a judge to be deprived of the ability to consider all of the factors that go into formulating a just sentence is completely at odds with the sentencing philosophy that has been a hallmark of the American system of justice.

When I took my oath of office 13 years ago I never thought that I would leave the federal bench. While I might have stayed on despite the inadequate pay, I no longer want to be part of our unjust criminal justice system.

dystopia 2:25 PM - [Link]


I've noticed that my posts have been awfully dry and terse lately. Sorry about that--now that this blog has a bit of a following, I feel more inhibited than I did when I first started, when I knew nobody was looking. Page fright, I guess.

I'm not a big talker on a good day, and I'm definitely no writer--I have a hard time organizing my thoughts in print. I am an information junkie--happily soaking it up all day long but, like a sponge, you kinda have to squeeze me to get it back out again. That's why I started this blog, to share what I find in my daily search for news and information with others in a way that suits my introverted nature.

I usually do write a lot more than what finally gets posted, but my drafts sound so snarky that I delete all the smartass bits, and post what's left--concise and humorless.

I prob'ly should quit doing that and just let it fly, huh?

dystopia 1:37 PM - [Link]

Today in Dystopian History: June 25

1798: The Alien Act was passed, allowing the president to deport dangerous aliens.

1876: Custer and his 7th Cavalry were wiped out by Sioux and Cheyenne Indians in the Battle of Little Big Horn.

1878: Ezra Heywood was sentenced to two years hard labor for advocating free love and sexual emancipation.

1894: Eugene Debs of the American Railway Union called a boycott of all Pullman railway cars; within days, 50,000 rail workers complied and railroad traffic out of Chicago ground to a halt.

1910: Congress passed the White Slave Traffic Act, or Mann Act, outlawing the interstate or international transportation of women for immoral purposes.

1938: The Fair Labor Standards Act set the minimum wage at 25 cents per hour and prohibited child labor.

1940: Due to increased armament expenditures, new and considerably increased taxes were introduced, which brought an additional 2,200,000 onto the tax rolls.

1965: Two Viet Cong bombs ripped through a floating restaurant on the Saigon River; 31 people, including nine Americans, were killed.

1968: Following the passage of an anti-gay ordinance in Miami, 240,000 people marched in San Francisco's first large-scale version of the annual Gay Freedom Day Parade.

1969: The US Navy turned over 64 river patrol gunboats valued at $18.2 million to the South Vietnamese Navy.

1973: Former White House counsel John Dean testified before the Senate Watergate Committee that Nixon participated in the coverup and that Nixon's secret taping system had recorded the meetings in which plans for the coverup were discussed.

1983: In Krefeld, West Germany, hundreds of masked youths battled riot police and hurled debris at Vice President Bush's motorcade during ceremonies saluting German-American friendship.

1984: Jesse Jackson secured the release of 49 US and Cuban prisoners from Fidel Castro.

1992: Congress rushed to pass a back-to-work order ending a national rail strike; President Bush signed it early the next morning.

1993: Vice President Gore broke a tie vote in the Senate, passing a massive budget-cutting package.

1996: A truck bomb killed 19 Americans and injured hundreds more at a US military housing complex, the Khobar Towers, in Saudi Arabia.

1997: President Clinton significantly tightened US standards on air pollution.

dystopia 10:27 AM - [Link]

Tuesday, June 24, 2003

Cognitive Dissonance

Was reading about the concept of learning on the UK's De Montfort University website, and found some ideas that resonated because I've been trying to work out some similar observations on my own:

When someone is called upon to learn something which contradicts what they already think they know — particularly if they are committed to that prior knowledge — they are likely to resist the new learning.

Cognitive dissonance was first investigated by Leon Festinger and associates, arising out of a participant observation study of a cult, which believed that the earth was going to be destroyed by a flood, and what happened to its members — particularly the really committed ones who had given up their homes and jobs to work for the cult — when the flood did not happen. While fringe members were more inclined to recognise that they had made fools of themselves and to "put it down to experience", committed members were more likely to re-interpret the evidence to show that they were right all along (the earth was not destroyed because of the faithfulness of the cult members)...

"Cost" is here used psychologically. It implies the loss involved for the (superficially) competent and experienced adult in "changing their ways." This change may be termed "supplantive learning", to be contrasted with simple "additive learning" in that instead of just adding new knowlege or skills to an existing repertoire, supplantive learning calls into question previous ways of acting or prior knowledge.

Supplantive learning is difficult enough when it is entirely under the learner's control, but when it is required, demanded or forced, or creeps up out of awareness, or there is significant emotional investment in previous beliefs or ways of acting, it becomes problematic.

Which helps to explain why so many people are still willing to buy into this administration's crap; any bad news regarding Bush & Co is summarily dismissed as "liberal propaganda." Seriously, it's one of the wonders of the Western world.

dystopia 3:57 PM - [Link]

Lockheed Considers Running Los Alamos

A major US defense contractor may bid on the contract to run the Los Alamos National Laboratory when the UC contract expires in 2005. Capitol Hill Blue reports:

DOE decided to open the contract in response to several management scandals that have plagued the Los Alamos Lab during the past few years. The lab is under investigation by the DOE and FBI for purchasing card and procurement fraud and the wrongful termination of two security officials who uncovered that fraud.

The University of California has run the lab since it was founded to create the atomic bomb in the 1940s. This will be the first time since then it will have to compete in an open bidding process...

"The value systems of a defense contractor and scientific institution are different," Fallin said. "Currently, UC values discoveries, intellectual science, genius. We work in pure science that makes other technologies possible. It could be said that's different from a defense contractor mind-set, which always has to look at the bottom line..."

Granted, UC hasn't always done such a bang-up job of running the place, but the thought of Lockheed taking over gives me the willies.

dystopia 2:33 PM - [Link]

Friendly Fire Killed Marine in Africa

Eight others were wounded, according to the Army Times:

Michaud, a 27-year-old helicopter pilot based at the Marines’ New River Air Station, NC, died Sunday in an explosion. US officials said the blast was caused by bombs accidentally dropped from a B-52 bomber that landed near forces training in Djibouti, in the Horn of Africa...

As many as nine misdirected bombs from the B-52 bomber fell near two CH-53E Super Stallion helicopters that were parked adjacent to the range where the exercise was taking place, said Capt Will Klumpp.

Around 50 troops were taking part in the two-day exercise at Godoria Bombing Range, along the northern coast of Djibouti, Klumpp said. The soldiers are training to eradicate terrorist activity in Kenya, Yemen, Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Sudan and Somalia.

UPDATE: More info on what the Marines are doing in Djibouti, via the Christian Science Monitor:

The Bush administration is debating just how deep a role to play in Africa, as cracks develop in a cease-fire agreement signed June 17 by Liberia's government and two rebel groups...the Bush administration's interest in Africa's role in US national security and energy supplies "is part of a continuum"...

Acceleration of that interest is evident in Pentagon plans for basing small contingents of US soldiers around the continent, as well as in Bush's interests in energy-producing countries.

Right now, the US has 1,500 Marines and special-operations soldiers in Djibouti in the horn of Africa...But plans are advancing to increase the number of soldiers to perhaps 6,500, which would be spread around small, rapid-reaction bases in several countries.

dystopia 2:06 PM - [Link]

Soldier Says Iraqi Children Turned Away

Via Yahoo! News:

"I have never seen in almost 14 years of Army experience anything that callous," said Borell, who recounted the June 13 incident to The Associated Press...

For Borell, who has been in Iraq since April 17, what happened with the injured children has made him question what it means to be an American soldier.

"What would it have cost us to treat these children? A few dollars perhaps. Some investment of time and resources," said Borell, 30, of Toledo, Ohio.

"I cannot imagine the heartlessness required to look into the eyes of a child in horrid pain and suffering and, with medical resources only a brief trip up the road, ignore their plight as though they are insignificant," he added.

dystopia 12:04 PM - [Link]

Today in Dystopian History: June 24

1675: King Philip's War began when a band of Wampanoag warriors raided the border settlement of Swansea, MA, and massacred the English colonists there.

1864: The governor of Colorado warned that all peaceful Indians in the region must report to the Sand Creek reservation or risk being attacked, creating conditions that led to the infamous Sand Creek Massacre.

1882: President Arthur confirmed the sentence of Henry Flipper, and ordered his dishonorable discharge.

1898: US forces decisively won the first major land battle of the Spanish-American War at Las Guasimas, Cuba.

1929: Mrs Hoover invited Mrs DePriest, wife of the first black congressman from a northern state, to tea at the White House, creating a stir in Southern society.

1947: Pilot Kenneth Arnold said of objects he saw flying near Mt Tahoma, WA, "Well, they flew erratic, like a saucer if you skip it across the water." Subsequent press reports led to the first use of the term "flying saucer."

1964: Police onshore protected blacks trying to swim at a St Augustine, FL, beach but segregationists waited in the surf, attacking them when they entered the water.

1968: Resurrection City, a shantytown built as part of the Poor People's March on Washington, DC, was closed down by authorities.

1970: The Senate voted to repeal the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution as a rebuke to the Nixon Administration's illegal bombing campaign in Cambodia.

1971: The first White House Enemies List was circulated by the staff of Special Counsel Charles Colson.

1982: Equal Rights Amendment supporters admitted defeat: only 33 states had ratified it in 10 years, three short of the number needed by the June 30 deadline.

1982: The Supreme Court ruled a president cannot be sued for actions taken while he is in office.

1985: A federal judge found former Wall Street Journal reporter R Foster Winans guilty of illegally using his position at the paper in an insider-trading scheme.

1992: The Independent Counsel issued his Third Interim Report to Congress in the Iran-Contra affair; the investigation in its final phase focused on whether high-ranking administration officials tried to obstruct official investigations into the 1985 Iran arms sales.

1994: After years of refusal, the US finally ratified the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination.

1994: President Clinton lashed out at his conservative critics and the media, bitterly complaining in a speech that unfair and negative reports about him were feeding a cynical mindset in America.

dystopia 10:20 AM - [Link]

Monday, June 23, 2003

Documents Show EPA Altered Monsanto Decree

Outgoing EPA director Christine Todd Whitman is being asked why she overruled an Alabama state jury in Monsanto's favor, according to the Environmental Working Group:

The Anniston, Alabama-based citizen group, Community Against Pollution (CAP), and the Environmental Working Group (EWG) called on Whitman to explain documents showing that important changes favorable to Monsanto were made to a negotiated cleanup plan within a week of a meeting Whitman had requested on the company’s PCB pollution in Anniston. The March 6, 2002 meeting at EPA headquarters came just 12 days after an Alabama state jury had found the company liable on multiple counts for decades of secretly poisoning Anniston and its residents.

Within a week after the Whitman meeting, the cleanup agreement that had been secretly negotiated between EPA and Monsanto was altered to replace an impending and expensive state court-ordered cleanup with a federal study of the pollution site. The modification could save Monsanto hundreds of millions of dollars in cleanup costs.

The EPA has traditionally pre-empted state authority for environmental enforcement actions only when states are failing to act, not to block state action with federal inaction...

dystopia 4:36 PM - [Link]

The Cost of War

A running tally of our tax dollars spent in Iraq.

If that's too depressing, here's a happier running tally.

dystopia 3:55 PM - [Link]

Profits at Gunpoint

Via, a print-only article from The Nation magazine on Unocal's complicity in human rights violations in Myanmar:

Unocal has fought this case every step of the way, refusing to acknowledge even basic facts surrounding the pipeline's construction. The company denies, for example, that under its contract with the state-owned Burmese gas company, the government had pledged to provide security for the pipeline. Yet Unocal's own documents, produced for the lawsuit, state that "the government of Myanmar is responsible for protecting the pipeline." Unocal's representative in Burma told the US Embassy that "the companies have hired the Burmese military to provide security for the project." Additional documents reveal that Unocal officials on the pipeline project held daily meetings with army commanders to tell them where they needed roads, military installations and security. And villagers have testified that Unocal officials regularly visited the pipeline site.

Unocal claims that it was unaware that the Burmese military regularly used forced labor. Yet Unocal's own consultants warned the company, according to court documents, that "throughout Burma the government habitually makes use of forced labour to construct roads." Even the US State Department reported at least as early as 1991 that the military government routinely uses forced labor. The United Nations issued more warnings of serious human rights abuses in 1995.

With the evidence mounting, Texaco, which had large investments in a Burma gas field, pulled out of the country in 1997. But Unocal retained a 28 percent interest in the pipeline, and then-Unocal president John Imle was defiant. At a January 1995 meeting with human rights organizations, he had argued that locals were threatening sabotage, adding, "If you threaten the pipeline there's gonna be more military. If forced labor goes hand and glove with the military, yes, there will be more forced labor. For every threat to the pipeline there will be a reaction."

There was a hearing in this case last week but, maddeningly, I can't find any word on when a decision will be announced.

BTW, this is the same case where Ashcroft filed to nullify the Alien Tort Claims Act of 1789, to protect American corporations from being held accountable for their dirty deeds overseas.

US News & World Report says Del Monte, Citigroup, Coca-Cola, ExxonMobil, and Occidental Petroleum are also facing suits under the Alien Tort Claims Act.

dystopia 3:22 PM - [Link]

Fibbing It Up at Fox

Tall tales told over the past few months by the Aussie Menace's propaganda machine are recounted in a chronology by Dale Steinrich:

Since the Iraq conflict began on March 20, Fox News has been on a mission to legitimize it. One problem for Fox's protracted apologia is that despite promises of evidence of current weapons of mass destruction (WMDs) by the Bush Administration, the evidence has been ambiguous at best. Unfortunately for the network, I’ve been keeping a scratch diary of their reports since the war began...

dystopia 1:20 PM - [Link]

I'm Sorry My President's an Idiot

Dissentwear at home; a safety measure abroad.

Oddly, it's available in either the original version or minus the English translation, leaving the message unintelligible to the average American. For the incognito rebel?

dystopia 12:41 PM - [Link]

US General Condemns Iraq Failures

From the Observer--another retired general weighs in on the Iraq fiasco:

In one of the most outspoken critiques from a man of his standing, Nash said the US had "failed to understand the mindset and attitudes of the Iraqi people and the depth of hostility towards the US in much of the country."

"It is much greater and deeper than just the consequences of war," he added. "It comes from 12 years of sanctions, Israel and Palestinians, and a host of issues..."

Nash is reluctant to make comparisons with Vietnam: "There are far more things that were different about Vietnam than there are similarities. Except perhaps the word 'quagmire'. Maybe that is the only thing that is the same."

A report from Independent backs up that view:

Asked about Baghdad's lack of electricity at an air-conditioned press conference, Paul Bremer, the American head of the occupation authority, looking cool in a dark suit and quiet purple tie, simply asserted that, with a few exceptions, Baghdad was now receiving 20 hours of electricity a day. "It simply isn't true," said one Iraqi, shaking his head in disbelief after listening to Mr Bremer. "Everybody in Baghdad knows it."

Few Iraqis mourn the fall of Saddam but there is a growing, at times almost visceral, hatred of the occupation. "They can take our oil, but at least they should let us have electricity and water," said Tha'ar Abdul Qader, a worker at the Central Teaching Hospital for Children, the main door of which can only be entered by walking through a fast-flowing stream of raw sewage...

Even the few Iraqis who have joined the Coalition Provisional Authority under Mr Bremer - which operates out of Saddam Hussein's heavily fortified Republican Palace in the centre of the capital - describe the American officials administering Iraq as "living in an air-conditioned fantasy world."

dystopia 12:10 PM - [Link]

DOJ Doesn't Know When to Stop

The Economist reports that, once again, Ashcroft's DOJ demonstrates some seriously skewed priorities:

Mr Bursey's trial will take place in the new courthouse in Columbia, named after the now 100-year-old Strom Thurmond senior (who, as it happens, helped his son get his current job)...a growing number of liberal sorts seem to think that the real issue is the intolerance of John Ashcroft's Justice Department—and, in particular, its intention to start using the rare Secret Service law to get rid of protesters.

Last month, 11 members of Congress, including one Republican and several members of the House Judiciary and Homeland Security committees, sent a letter to Mr Ashcroft urging him to drop charges against Mr Bursey. They insisted that “no plausible argument can be made that Mr Bursey was threatening the president by holding a sign which the president found politically offensive...”

Bill Nettles, Mr Bursey's lawyer, claims that the case is being driven not by the young Mr Thurmond but by higher-ups in Washington, who want a new way to stifle dissent. “This is the type of small-brained decision that could only have been made by bureaucrats inside the Beltway,” says the lanky Mr Nettles. Mr Thurmond's office declines to discuss the case. A spokesman says the office is aware of the letter from the 11 congressmen, but “unless we get a directive from Attorney-General Ashcroft's office [telling us to drop or settle the case], we shall proceed.”

Via Cursor, which is full of good bits today, as always.

Some interesting background info on young Strom Junior, from the Corpus Christi Caller:

Republican Sen Strom Thurmond has arranged for his son, Strom Thurmond, Jr, to become US attorney, South Carolina's chief federal prosecutor.

The younger Thurmond has been out of law school for just three years and is likely to become the youngest US attorney in the nation.

The younger Thurmond's relative youth and inexperience are striking. The (Columbia) State, South Carolina's biggest newspaper, recently surveyed US attorneys and found that they average 50 years old with 22 years experience.

A 1981 Justice Department memo, apparently the only document outlining standards for US attorneys, says they should have "a minimum of five years trial experience, with a significant exposure to federal trial and appellate practice." Thurmond has neither.

dystopia 11:23 AM - [Link]

Today in Dystopian History: June 23

1611: Believing there was a secret stash of food hidden aboard the ship, the mutinous crew of Henry Hudson's fourth voyage placed Henry, his son, and seven loyal crewmembers into a boat adrift on the Atlantic Ocean; they were never heard from again.

1683: English Quaker William Penn, an advocate of peace and religious toleration, signed a treaty with the Indians of Pennsylvania. Voltaire said the agreement was the only treaty never sworn to and never broken.

1780: American troops, using hymnal pages from the First Presbyterian Church for gun wadding, stopped the British advance on Springfield, NJ.

1959: Klaus Fuchs, the German-born Los Alamos scientist whose espionage helped the USSR build their first atomic and hydrogen bombs, was released after only 9 years in a British prison; he headed straight to communist East Germany and resumed his scientific career.

1964: The burned car of three civil rights workers was found, prompting the FBI to begin a search; the men had been missing for two days.

1967: The century's worst race riot left 43 dead, 5,000 injured and 5,000 homeless in Detroit; the violence started after allegations of police brutality during the raid of an after-hours bar.

1968: Vietnam became the longest war fought in US history.

1969: Benhet, a US Special Forces camp northeast of Saigon, was besieged and cut off by 2000 North Vietnamese troops.

1969: Cook Inlet, Alaska, suffered its second massive oil spill in a year.

1972: President Nixon's secret White House taping system recorded Nixon and his chief of staff, HR Haldeman, discussing a plan to use the CIA to obstruct the FBI's Watergate investigation.

1972: Life Magazine published photos of South Vietnamese children running from napalm.

1973: The last person drafted into the Armed Forces prior to the expiration of the Selective Service Act was Dwight Eliott Stone.

1983: The Supreme Court ruled Congress could not veto presidential decisions.

1995: CBS News anchor Dan Rather joined REM onstage during a soundcheck to perform "What's The Frequency, Kenneth?" referring to the strange incident years earlier when Rather was beaten up by a man asking that question.

dystopia 10:15 AM - [Link]

Listen While You Surf:


i.e. America Radio

Political Strikes

Progressive Radio

Radio Left

Randi Rhodes Show

Newspapers and News Sites:

ABC News

Army Times

Asia Times


Boston Globe

Capitol Hill Blue

CBS News

Charlotte Observer

Christian Science Monitor

Common Dreams Newswire

Denver Post

Economic Times


Financial Times

Globe & Mail


Houston Chronicle

Indian Country Today

International Herald-Tribune

Los Angeles Times

Mondo Times

Nature News Service

NY Times

New Zealand Herald



News Insider

Pacific News Service

Philadelphia Inquirer


St Petersburg Times

San Francisco Chronicle

Science Daily

Seattle Times

Sydney Morning Herald

Tampa Bay Online

The Hill

The Scotsman

Times of India

Toronto Star

Washington Post

Wired News

Blogs I Like:

A Rational Animal



Bad Attitudes Journal

Beatnik Salad

Blatant Truth



Charging the Canvas

Democratic Veteran



Flagrancy to Reason


Heli's Heaven and Hell Radio



Ideal Rhombus

John P Hoke's Asylum

Juan Cole

Mad Prophet




Nurse Ratched's Notebook

Occasional Subversion

Oligopoly Watch



Project for a New Century of Freedom

Prometheus 6


Sick of Bush

Skippy the Bush Kangaroo

Suburban Guerrilla

Surfing the Tsunami

Talent Show

Thoughts on the Eve of the Apocalypse


Wrong Side of Happiness


American Prospect

Atlantic Monthly

Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists

Business Ethics

Columbia Journalism Review




Dollars and Sense

Earth Island Journal


Editor & Publisher

Foreign Policy


Fortune Small Business

Government Executive


In These Times


Killing the Buddha

Mother Jones

National Parks Magazine


New Republic

New Yorker

News Insight



Philosophers Magazine

Progressive Magazine

Progressive Populist


Red Pepper


Scientific American




Texas Observer

The Nation


Vested Owl

Village Voice

Washington Monthly

Look It Up:

American Religion Data Archive


Atlas of US Presidential Elections

Babelfish Web Translator

Big Search Engine Index

Corporate Welfare Search Engine

Country Statistics at a Glance

Customizable Mortality Maps

CyberCemetery: Federal Depository Library

Daypop Current Events Image Search

Dogpile Search Engine


Geography of Race in the US

GeoHive Global Statistics

Internet Archive

Invisible Web

Invisible Web Revealed

Journalist's Toolbox

Librarians' Index to the Internet

Library of Congress

McFind Meta Search

Miniature Earth

National Priorities Project Database

Newspaper Archive

Nuclear Waste Route Atlas

Ownership Statistics

Political Information Search Engine

Political Resources on the Net

Prof Pollkatz Poll Graphics

Power Reporting Research Tools

Public Records Online


Researching People on the Internet

Resources for Compiling a Legislative History

Search Systems

Statistical Resources

Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse

Uniform Commercial Code

US PIRG Pollution Locator

VOA Pronunciation Guide

What Are the Odds of Dying?

Where To Do Research

Who Owns What?

Working Reporter

World Atlas of Maps, Flags and Geography Facts

Professional Opinions:

Al Kamen

Arianna Huffington

Boston Globe Editorials

Chris Brauchli

David Hackworth

Derrick Z Jackson

EJ Dionne, Jr

Geov Parrish

Guardian Unlimited Columnists

Harold Meyerson

Houston Chronicle Editorials

Jimmy Breslin

Joe Conason

John Nichols

Jules Witcover

Katha Pollitt

Los Angeles Times Editorials

Marie Cocco

Miami Herald Opinions

Mike Hersh

Molly Ivins

New York Times Opinions

Nicholas D Kristof

Paul Krugman

Robert W Jensen

SF Gate Opinions

Sydney Morning Herald Opinions

Thom Hartmann Editorials

Walter Shapiro

William Greider

Public Opinion:

Bartcop Forum

BBC Great Debate

Bill Maher Forums

Brunching Shuttlecocks

Capitol Grilling

Capitol Hill Blue Reader Rant

ChickLit Forums

Christian Forums

Civilization Fanatics

Cynic's Message Board

Democratic Underground

Fabulous Forums of Fathom

Guardian Talk

Internet Infidels

Language of Propaganda

News Bulletin Board

Political Corrections

Poynter Online

PRWatch Forums

Ship of Fools

SpywareInfo Support

Straight Dope

TVSpy WaterCooler

Urban Legends Forum

Veterans Benefit Network

VoteWatch Forum

Walk Away from Fundamentalism

TV Worth Watching:


Daily Show

Discovery Times Channel


History Channel

Now with Bill Moyers

Sundance Channel's Documentary Mondays

Washington Journal

Washington Week

Trivial Pursuits:

Biblical Curse Generator


BushFlash Animation Features

Capitol Steps

Dana Lyons


Elizabethan Curse Generator

Fling the Cow

Future Feed Forward

Is It Over Yet?


Mark Fiore's Animated Political Cartoons



Puppet Man

Rumsfeld Invaders


Sheep Game

Snowball Fight

Spaced Penguin

The Onion

Unofficial Official Simulator


Books Worth Reading (linked to reviews):

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

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

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

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

Silent Spring, by Rachel Carson (1962)

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

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

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

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

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

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

Clearing the Air, by Daniel Schorr (1977)

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

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

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

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

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