09/21/03 - 09/27/03
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03/16/03 - 03/22/03
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
Americans for Computer Privacy
Americans for Democratic Action
Americans United for Separation of Church and State
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
Chronology of Incorporation and Monopoly
Citizen Action Project
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
Community Rights Council
Consumer Federation of America
Consumer Project on Technology
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
Depleted Uranium Education Project
Depleted Uranium Watch
Disabled American Veterans
Discernment Ministry International
Economic Policy Institute
Electronic Frontier Foundation
Electronic Privacy Information Center
Energy Future Coalition
Environmental Investigation Agency
Environmental Working Group
Facts About Olestra
Fair Taxes for All
Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting
Families USA: Voice for Health Care Consumers
Family Farm Alliance
Farm Credit Quagmire
FAS Project on Government Secrecy
Federation of American Scientists
Fellowship of Reconciliation
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
GRACE Factory Farm Project
Gulf War Veterans
Health Care Comparisons Worldwide
Health Privacy Project
Healthy Building Network
Human Rights Watch
iAbolish: Anti-Slavery Web Portal
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 Center on Corporate Responsibility
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
Los Alamos Study Group
Low Level Radiation Campaign
Maquila Solidarity Network
March for Justice
Mines Advisory Group
Mothers for Peace
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
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
OpenSecrets.org: Money in Politics
Open Society Institute
Organic Consumers Association
Our Stolen Future
Pax Christi International
People for the American Way
Pesticide Action Network North America
Physicians for Human Rights
Political Money Line
Program on Corporations, Law and Democracy
Project Against the Present Danger
Project on Government Oversight
Project Vote Smart
Public Employees for Environmental Responsibity
Rainforest Action Network
Reaching Critical Will
Reclaim the Media
Resource Center of the Americas
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
Stop Disney Sweatshops
Stop Patient Abuse Now Coalition
Swords to Plowshares
Talion: Voting Machines
Taxpayers for Common Sense
Ten Thousand Villages
Third World Traveler
Tort Reform Reader
Traprock Peace Center
Truth About Credit
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
Whistleblower.org: Government Accountability Project
WISE Uranium Project
Womens International League for Peace & Freedom
World Resources Institute
Worldwide Fund for Mothers Injured in Childbirth
Yucca Mountain Facts
E-mail: dailydys at yahoo dot com
Saturday, July 26, 2003
Cheney Wraps His Glutes in the Flag
Tricky Dick's caught between a Slate and a hard place--I wish:
Why did Cheney give the AEI speech? Chatterbox suspects Mary Matalin (a former Cheney aide who's helping the White House handle Yellowcakegate) advised him that the best defense was a good offense. By portraying curiosity about Yellowcakegate as unpatriotic, Cheney probably hoped to shake the inquiry off his tail.
Cheney and his chief of staff, Lewis "Scooter" Libby, are suspected (and not just by Chatterbox) of being the Phantom Bigfeet who insisted that the erroneous reference to Saddam's African safari for uranium yellowcake be put into President Bush's State of the Union address. It's a logical suspicion because Cheney, a reformed Iraq dove with the fervor of a convert, has pushed the nuclear justification for the Iraq war harder than anyone else...
dystopia 3:37 PM - [Link]
Views Vary as Americans Digest Iraq War
Via ABC News:
Opinions gathered this week by the Associated Press are as varied as the news from Iraq. Americans are speaking up writing congressional leaders, calling for an investigation into questionable intelligence, but mostly, just trying to sort out all the developments...
Democrat Jack Rodgers, 53, of Philadelphia, believes it's only a matter of time before weapons of mass destruction are found, and said even if the intelligence behind Bush's uranium statement was wrong, the president had reason enough to go to war...
But in the past few weeks, more than 400,000 people have signed an online petition sponsored by activist group Moveon.org, said Eli Pariser, campaign director for the group. The petition asks Congress to establish an independent commission to investigate prewar intelligence.
Simply amazing, in all respects.
dystopia 3:31 PM - [Link]
Bush Delayed Report Until After Iraq War
I wouldn't doubt it, the miserable little bastard. From BigNewsNetwork.com:
A member of the independent commission set up to investigate the Sept 11, 2001, terror attacks has accused the Bush administration of deliberately delaying publication of an earlier congressional inquiry into the attacks.
Former Sen Max Cleland, D-Ga, told United Press International that the White House did not want the report made public before launching military action in Iraq. He said the administration feared publication might undermine the administration's case for war, which was based in part on the allegation that Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein had supported Osama bin Laden--and the attendant possibility that Iraq might supply al-Qaida with weapons of mass destruction.
"The administration sold the connection (between Iraq and al-Qaida) to scare the pants off the American people and justify the war," said Cleland. "There's no connection, and that's been confirmed by some of bin Laden's terrorist followers ... What you've seen here is the manipulation of intelligence for political ends."
dystopia 3:22 PM - [Link]
Key Voting Machine Critic Asked to Attend Forum
This feels pretty good--voting machine questions broke out all over this past week. The Toledo Blade reports:
US Rep Marcy Kaptur (D-Toledo) has invited an author of a study criticizing the software security measures in electronic voting machines manufactured by Diebold Elections Systems, Inc, to take part in a forum on election reform she plans to host in Toledo on Aug 9...
Mr Rubin and three other researchers found flaws in an old source code once used by Diebold that they contend could leave the company’s voting systems open to fraud. Diebold since has changed its code, company spokesman Mike Jacobson said...
Mr Rubin said yesterday the Diebold computer code is poorly written and could not be improved to make the voting machines completely secure. "You’ve got Swiss cheese. I just think we’ve found so many problems" with the Diebold software. "I don’t think you can evolve a secure system from the code we looked at."
Do a search on my blog archives (yes, I know it's glacially slow--I'm sorry--but it does work) with Voting Machines as the keyword and you'll find all my past blog entries about them with lots of links. IMO, the credit for bringing this whole issue to our attention goes to Bev Harris, who's been relentless, God bless her.
UPDATE: Found this one in the Washington Post, in which Diebold and Maryland state officials spin like tops:
For some in Maryland, the report yesterday by Johns Hopkins University computer security experts that electronic voting machines could easily be hacked into set off alarm bells. But for others, including the state officials who recently signed a $55.6 million agreement to put the units in every voting precinct by March, the report is one more example of "technological hysteria."
dystopia 3:07 PM - [Link]
Classified Section of 9/11 Report Faults Saudis
The NY Times found some people who allegedly read the deleted 28-page section, and had this to say:
Senior officials of Saudi Arabia have funneled hundreds of millions of dollars to charitable groups and other organizations that may have helped finance the September 2001 attacks...
Some people who have read the classified chapter said it represented a searing indictment of how Saudi Arabia's ruling elite have, under the guise of support for Islamic charities, distributed millions of dollars to terrorists through an informal network of Saudi nationals, including some in the United States...
"The link between al-Bayoumi and the hijackers is the best evidence yet that part of official Saudi Arabia might have been involved in the attacks," said Senator Charles E Schumer of New York. "If the Saudi royal family is as committed to fighting terrorism as it claims, it will turn this guy over to US officials immediately so that we can finally get to the bottom of his role in the attacks and his links to Al Qaeda."
I'm eager for wiser heads who actually have a copy of the entire (redacted or otherwise) report in hand to come forth with proper in-depth analysis. I'm hoping they'll find something that the guy with the black Magic Marker missed--900 pages is a lot of words to review.
dystopia 2:49 PM - [Link]
Today in Dystopia's History: 1993
Ten years ago today Darling Hubby (notated DH in these pages) and I went on our very first date--we were married four years later.
It was a lunch date, and he laid a big kiss on me before I drove back to work, a very easy trip down main thoroughfares, and somehow I wound up in some neighborhood I'd never seen before and had a heck of a time finding my way out.
He still does that to me.
We're planning a little anniversary celebration in the next few weeks--business demands make it hard to get away. We're taking our dress-up clothes--found a nice historic hotel with European-style service and we're going to do some fine wining & dining and take in some "aht" and history (yes, we're both eggheads). Might even get a chance to do our Fred & Ginger bit:
My love has come along
My lonely days are over
And life is like a song...
OMG, I love Etta James.
OK, I'll get busy now and go find you some news.
dystopia 2:17 PM - [Link]
Today in Dystopian History: July 26
1579: Sir Francis Drake left California on his voyage across the Pacific Ocean.
1775: The US Postal Service was established; Benjamin Franklin was the first Postmaster General.
1827: The Cherokee Nation adopted its Constitution, with a bi-cameral legislative body, a republican form of government and a Supreme Court.
1835: Ladd & Co, a US firm, began the first major sugar plantation in Hawaii.
1847: Liberia, a colony of the American Colonization Society, declared its independence.
1863: Confederate Gen John Hunt Morgan was captured in Ohio during his spectacular raid on the North.
1898: A dumbfounded Secretary of War learned from the press that Gen Nelson Miles had changed his entire campaign plan en route to Puerto Rico.
1908: Attorney General Charles Bonaparte created an investigative agency that was the precursor to the FBI.
1912: The Battle of Mucklow broke out in West Virginia during a miners' strike.
1935: On the German ship Bremen in New York Harbor, Bill Bailey cut down the Nazi flag and threw it into the water while the enraged crew shouted beneath him.
1940: The US placed an embargo on the export of aviation gasoline, lubricants, scrap iron and steel to Japan, later extended to chemicals and machine tools.
1941: President Roosevelt nationalized the armed forces of the Philippines.
1945: The USS Indianapolis delivered Uranium-235, needed to assemble an atomic bomb, to the US base on Tinian Island in the Marianas.
1945: In the Potsdam Declaration, Britain, the US and China demanded Japan's unconditional surrender, threatening prompt and utter destruction.
1947: The National Security Act consolidated armed forces under the new Department of Defense, and established the CIA, the NSA, and other black budget agencies outside public review or control.
1950: President Truman authorized $15 million in military aid to the French in Vietnam; US military advisors accompanied the US tanks, planes, artillery and supplies.
1950: North Koreans attacked US troops at Yongdong by driving hundreds of refugees ahead of them through US mine fields; the extensive use of mines there is a factor in the US' refusal to sign the international landmine convention.
1954: PR firm Hill & Knowlton, finding an advance copy of Dr Wilhelm Hueper's Environmental Cancer of the Lung favorable to their cigarette clients, distributed it to newspapers, wire services, and science, editorial and feature writers.
1956: Egypt's President Nasser nationalized the Suez Canal; Britain, France and the US began financial retaliation.
1965: President Johnson authorized a punitive strike on two SAM sites in North Vietnam where an F-4 jet was shot down; 6 F-105s were lost on the mission.
1967: During the Detroit Riots, police raided the Algiers Motel; 3 black men were killed and 7 black men and 2 white women were brutally beaten.
1983: Congress approved $2.6 billion for M-X missile production.
2001: CBS News reported that John Ashcroft had stopped flying on commercial airlines due a threat assessment; Ashcroft claimed he didn't know what caused the threat.
2001: EPA head Christine Whitman proposed drastic changes in the regulation of power plant pollution, replacing five programs with a single approach with expanded pollution credit trading.
2002: White House security prevented Judicial Watch from serving Vice President Dick Cheney with a lawsuit filed by Halliburton shareholders.
dystopia 10:36 AM - [Link]
Friday, July 25, 2003
Discovering the Discoverers
Found some fascinating (to me) stuff in Daniel Boorstin's The Discovers--yes, I'm still reading it. I'm halfway through now, on Chapter 44:
The prophets of Protestantism--Luther, Melanchthon, and Calvin--all close contemporaries of Copernicus, carried a strong fundamentalist, anti-intellectual message..."It is the part of a good mind to accept the truth as revealed by God and to acquiesce in it"...
That damned anti-intellectual crap really gets on my nerves.
The Catholic Church took a more sophisticated and more tolerant view of speculations in secular science. After the fourteenth century the Church had not officially proclaimed any orthodox cosmology. Perhaps the follies and frustrations of Christian geography and the stirring of secular revelations of the new seafaring age had something to do with that...Wiser heads continued to hope that the eternal truths of revelation and divine reason could be kept safely isolated from the shifting explanations of the practical world. It was decades after Copernicus' death before this separation had ceased to be possible...
From first to last [Kepler] remained a passionate Lutheran Christian, every day seeing evidences of the divine design...Savoring the delights of the heavenly salad, he went in search of God's recipe...
I liked that last part--I see delightful evidences of His divine design every day, too. Did you know that early optical lenses were seen by Christians as objects of wizardry? I didn't:
Theology was reinforced by folklore and common sense. Why had eyes been given to men if not to know the true shape, size and color of objects in the external world? Then were not mirrors, prisms and lenses devices for making visual lies? And man-made instruments for multiplying, deflecting, enlarging or reducing, and doubling or inverting visual images were means for distorting the truth. Devout Christians and honest philosophers would have nothing to do with such trickery.
I'm glad they got over that--I'm blind as a bat without mine.
dystopia 6:34 PM - [Link]
Sorry for the light posting day--I've got news burnout. It does happen every so often.
Spent this afternoon shortening my blogroll, and adding a few new ones that looked interesting. My apologies to Catalyzer Newsroom, whom I've had mis-linked all this time.
It was painful to cut so many from my list, but I've found so many bloggers I like, it's impossible to keep up with all of them. I start at the top or bottom of the list and read through as many as I can, but I never manage to read the ones in the middle anymore--there just isn't enough time. Most of my blogday is spent surfing primary sources, or as close as I can get to primary sources, trying to find news bits for my own blog that you might not have already read half a dozen times today.
Plus, I'm addicted to working on the Dystopian History file, which has grown into quite a monster and eats up most of my casual surfing time and a good chunk of offline time these days. I love it--I'm always learning something new.
dystopia 4:59 PM - [Link]
Got a chuckle out of what Winston Churchill said:
There are a terrible lot of lies going around the world, and the worst of it is half of them are true.
I know that feeling--I wrote a haiku about it last year:
Got my tinfoil hat
too bad some are true
You know what's odd? The literary world is not my niche--I'm a math and science girl--but I was asked to contribute to a poetry contest and it embarrassed me that I had nothing to offer, so I sat down and churned out pages and pages of angry political haiku over two days.
It felt so good I tried to write more, but I've never been able to do that again.
dystopia 12:57 PM - [Link]
Today in Dystopian History: July 25
1729: All but one of the Carolina proprietors returned their land to England, making most of North Carolina a royal colony.
1814: The Battle of Lundy's Lane was one of the bloodiest battles of the War of 1812.
1868: The Jewish League of Nashville, TN, met to discuss politics; the League eventually formed the Anti-Grant Club to protest Gen Grant's issuance of General Orders No. 11 in 1862.
1904: 25,000 textile workers went on strike in Fall River, bringing national attention to conditions at the mills and the plight of child laborers.
1916: An explosion at the Cleveland Waterworks tunnel project trapped 30 workers and would-be rescuers; 8 were saved by Garrett Morgan and his new safety hood.
1941: A presidential order froze Japanese assets in the US, causing a run on Japanese banks.
1944: The US Army began Operation Cobra near St Lo, France; in a massive bombardment before the assault, hundreds of US soldiers were killed when US bombers released their loads short of target.
1944: The US and UK began talks on the control of oil production and trade in the post-war world.
1945: President Truman ordered that the atomic bomb be dropped on Japan after August 3rd.
1946: The first underwater atomic explosion sank the USS Saratoga and caused unexpected plutonium contamination on the USS Nevada.
1946: Four black men and women were pulled from a car near Moore's Ford, GA, by white men and shot to death; weapons used included rifles, shotguns, pistols and a machine gun.
1960: The first black American ate a meal, sitting down, at Woolworth's lunch counter in Greensboro, NC.
1962: The House passed legislation requiring equal pay for equal work for women in interstate commerce, but the Senate refused to act.
1963: Police arrested 23 black protesters during a sit-in at Seattle City Council chambers, after only two blacks were appointed to the new Human Rights Commission.
1969: President Nixon presented the Nixon Doctrine, under which non-communist Asian nations were left pretty much to their own defenses.
1972: The Washington Star broke news of the Tuskegee Syphilis Experiment, using black men as guinea pigs since 1932; due to publicity, the US ended the program and treated the men's syphilis.
1983: The Washington Public Power Supply System defaulted on $2.25 billion in bonds.
1985: Bell Savings & Loan failed in San Mateo, CA, costing taxpayers more than $829 million.
1990: Ambassador April Glaspie told Saddam Hussein the US would not take sides in the Iraq-Kuwait dispute.
1999: In Cincinnati, OH, 7 area residents were killed over the weekend by sweltering heat.
2002: The Cantwell-Warner Roadless Area Conservation Bill was introduced in the Senate.
dystopia 10:27 AM - [Link]
Thursday, July 24, 2003
Freddie Mac Probe Findings Unveiled
Lest we forget--this cauldron is still bubbling merrily on the back burner. Financial Times reports:
An independent report on the accounting scandal at Freddie Mac found that former executives deliberately massaged earnings and misled the board, but it absolved its new chief executive of wrongdoing.
The government-sponsored mortgage group on Wednesday published the report by Baker Botts, the law firm hired last year to investigate alleged earnings misstatements. Carried out with the co-operation of Freddie Mac, it found that to achieve steady earnings growth, senior management had encouraged the use of complex financial transactions that did not comply with accounting rules.
Gregory Parseghian, former chief investment officer appointed chief executive last month, was involved in some of the transactions.
Also, Freddie Mac Finance Chief Makes Admission:
Martin Baumann said he had "no disagreement" with the conclusion by outside lawyers that SEC rules would not have allowed the disclosure practices undertaken by the lender in relation to transactions used to smooth its earnings. Freddie Mac is revising its earnings, which were understated by as much as $4.5bn.
Yep, that's billion with a B. Further reading on the Freddie Mac scandal:
Freddie Mac Needs Tough Regulator, Not Lobbyist
Titanic Concerns Over Freddie Mac
US Home Loan Chief Fired Over Audit Inquiry
BTW, do you know Baker Botts? Their involvement brings to mind the Reagan/Bush S&L looting coverup, for some reason. I'm wondering who and/or what was left out of the official report. One of BB's more colorful clients, from the blog archive:
A $1 trillion lawsuit on behalf of the victims of September 11 was filed in August 2002 against more than seventy defendants, including three Saudi princes, several Saudi banks and Islamic institutions, the Sudanese government and the Saudi Bin Laden Group, a construction firm run by Osama Bin Laden's family. Here's a report on who's representing the defendants, from MSNBC:
Baker & Botts, Sultan's law firm, for example, still boasts former secretary of State James Baker as one of its senior partners. Its recent alumni include Robert Jordan, the former personal lawyer for President Bush who is now US ambassador to Saudi Arabia.
An internal list of other law firms retained in the case, reviewed by NEWSWEEK, reads like a veritable "who's who" of the US legal community...One former Clinton administration official at a big law firm said he was personally approached to represent a high-ranking Saudi prince in the case but turned it down. "I kept asking myself, ‘do I want to be representing the Saudis against the 9-11 families—especially after all the trouble we had getting cooperation from the Saudis on terrorism,’" the official said. "I finally just said no."
dystopia 6:06 PM - [Link]
George W Nixon
Ouch! CBS News on NigerGate:
So far, the Bush Team hasn’t had as much luck with fall guys. CIA chief George Tenet tried to take the bullet for the "yellowcake" flap, but the flap flapped on. So NSC aide Stephen Hadley was sent out to take it on the chin. Neither resigned, neither was fired. They just took responsibility.
That is something the President has not done.
I see a myriad of parallels between the Nixon and Bush administrations. Also Reagan/Bush, and Bush/Bush. A thousand points of likeness--Georgie's crew is not terribly original in anything they do, though they do seem to surpass the others in reckless arrogance.
dystopia 5:34 PM - [Link]
Insiders Suggest Condoleezza Rice Could Leave
Under indictment would be nice. Yahoo! News reports:
As White House officials try to control the latest fallout over President Bush's flawed suggestion in the State of the Union address that Iraq was buying nuclear bomb materials, there's growing talk by insiders that National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice may take the blame and resign. For most insiders, it's inconceivable that Rice, touted as a future secretary of state, California governor, and even vice president, would go, but the latest revelations that her shop and deputy Stephen Hadley mishandled CIA warnings have put the NSC in the bull's eye of controversy.
While it's unclear how serious the talk is inside the administration about the future of Rice or Hadley with the NSC, a few top aides are already suggesting replacements for Rice. They include former Bush administration National Security Adviser Brent Scowcroft, NASA chief and former Navy Secretary Sean O'Keefe, and Paul Bremer, the US administrator in Iraq.
Yeah, that's the problem with this administration--it strips all the joy out of "resignations" when I already know that the dire departed will be replaced by someone just as unbearable.
Anyway, maybe the snowball will start rolling soon.
dystopia 5:01 PM - [Link]
The Yellowcake Follies
The janitor did it, per Jerome at Bad Attitudes Journal:
President Bush’s deputy janitor today took complete responsibility for allowing faulty intelligence to appear in the president’s State of the Union address.
The janitor, Morley Flaude, apologized for “any inconvenience” his actions might have caused. Mr Flaude is a critical behind-the-scenes player on the president’s team, charged with disposing of unwanted documents.
"I tossed out those warnings from State and the CIA all the time," he told reporters at a hastily assembled press gaggle in the corridor outside his broom closet. "That was my job."
As good an explanation as any offered by the Bush administration so far.
dystopia 4:21 PM - [Link]
Computer Voting Open to Easy Fraud, Experts Say
The NY Times finally discovers the voting machine issue:
The software that runs many high-tech voting machines contains serious flaws that would allow voters to cast extra votes and permit poll workers to alter ballots without being detected, computer security researchers said yesterday.
"We found some stunning, stunning flaws," said Aviel D Rubin, technical director of the Information Security Institute at Johns Hopkins University, who led a team that examined the software from Diebold Election Systems, which has about 33,000 voting machines operating in the United States.
The systems, in which voters are given computer-chip-bearing smart cards to operate the machines, could be tricked by anyone with $100 worth of computer equipment...
See? That's what I've been trying to tell everybody, but election fraud on this scale crosses a line that some seem to have a hard time believing could be crossed--"Oh, they'd never do that." It's very frustrating.
If you haven't studied the electronic voting machine problem, please do so very soon and help spread the word--time is short and election boards across the country are spending millions on the damned things to get ready for 2004:
A Winning Machine
dystopia 2:48 PM - [Link]
Republican Hall of Shame
Blog server was down quite a bit yesterday so I did some extraneous surfing and rounded up a whole bunch of good bits:
A handy little repository of shameful but true Republican factoids.
A short but comprehensive summation at The 18½ Minute Gap entitled, "Way to Support Those Troops, George!"
A most excellent read in Washington Monthly about the growing and dangerous divide between scientists and the GOP.
From Wiretap, the jailhouse diary of Jesse Carr, a college student arrested for trespassing during a protest at the School of the Americas in November 2002. While the SOA, established in 1946 in Panama and relocated to US soil in 1984, is not strictly a Republican shame, it doesn't get nearly enough attention, so it's as good a time as any to mention that it's still in business, operating under a new name since 2001.
Liberal Oasis ponders Republican "moral clarity" and the current crisis in Liberia.
Red Pepper asks, "Could WMD Become Bush's Watergate?" Oh, yes.
Next of Kynn has been following the shady trail of Deputy National Security Advisor Steven Hadley, who bent over and took one for Cheney the other day.
And last, but definitely not least, Mark Kleiman is keeping a close watch on the Valerie Plame aka Mrs Joseph Wilson caper. It appears to be confirmed that Mrs Wilson is a CIA agent; if she is, then the "senior administration officials" who named her to Bob Novak committed a felony and must be prosecuted.
dystopia 1:33 PM - [Link]
Today in Dystopian History: July 24
1534: Jacques Cartier claimed Canada for France.
1701: Antoine de la Mothe Cadillac began a trading post at Fort Pontchartrain, which later became Detroit, MI.
1824: The first US public opinion poll was published in the Harrisburg Pennsylvanian, predicting the outcome of the presidential race between John Quincy Adams, Henry Clay, and Andrew Jackson.
1897: The Army's 25th Infantry Bicycle Corps rode into St Louis, pedaling 1,900 miles from Missoula, MT, in 41 days to prove the practicality of military cycling.
1915: The excursion steamer Eastland slowly rolled over as it cast off from a Chicago dock, killing 812; the ship had almost toppled at its pier before, but the incidents were kept quiet for fear of hurting business.
1929: President Hoover proclaimed the Kellogg-Briand Pact, renouncing war as an instrument of foreign policy.
1937: Charges were dropped against four of nine black men falsely accused of raping two white women in Scottsboro, AL.
1943: The Inspector General of the US Army ordered strict military censorship at Camp Van Dorn, MS. One letter from a soldier reported: "The officers...had to kill 90 Negro soldiers last week. We have really been scared..." Another letter: "Our officers told us...they had carted off 30 dead niggers to the morgue..."
1950: Bumper 8, a German V-2 rocket was launched from Cape Canaveral, FL; captured German rockets became the basis of the early US missile program.
1953: The final US ground combat in Korea began when a heavy enemy attack was launched against US Marines.
1959: Vice President Nixon argued with Nikita Khrushchev on the merits of capitalism, in the Kitchen Debate.
1965: The Pentagon reported that since 1961, US personnel wounded in Vietnam outnumbered those killed by 5 to 1, the highest ratio in any US military conflict.
1965: Ground-to-air missile battalions at Suoi Hai downed the first US aircraft lost to SAM missiles deployed by Soviet technicians.
1967: Three days of rioting begin in Cambridge, MD.
1973: Sen Herman Talmadge asked John Ehrlichman during the Watergate hearings, "If the president could authorize a covert break-in and you don’t exactly know where that power would be limited, you don’t think it could include murder or other crimes beyond covert break-ins, do you?" Ehrlichman replied, "I don’t know where the line is, Senator."
1974: The Supreme Court ruled unanimously that President Nixon must turn over the tape recordings of 64 White House conversations, rejecting claims of executive privilege.
1981: A task force for the psychological study of lesbian and gay issues first met in Anaheim, CA; the group later formed APA's Division 44.
1989: Attorney General Richard Thornburgh obtained a stay of trial for Joseph Fernandez, the CIA station chief in Costa Rica, to appeal Classified Information Procedures Act rulings in the Iran-Contra affair.
1990: Looking Glass, a flying nuclear command post, ended more than 29 years of 24-hour-a-day flights.
1997: RJR Nabisco was subpoenaed by a grand jury investigating the smuggling of US cigarettes into Canada.
1998: A gunman burst into the US Capitol; Senator/Dr Bill Frist treated the shooter while two police officers died of their wounds.
2001: Secretary of State Colin Powell attended the ASEAN Regional Forum in Hanoi, his first visit to Vietnam since 1969.
dystopia 10:16 AM - [Link]
Wednesday, July 23, 2003
Puerto Ricans Angry US Overrode Death Penalty Ban
As Ashcroft's DOJ runs jackbooted over their constitution, according to the National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty:
'It has not had an execution since 1927. It outlawed the practice 2 years later and wrote this antipathy into its Constitution in 1952: "The death penalty shall not exist."
That is why a federal trial here, in which the Justice Department is seeking the execution of 2 men accused of kidnapping and murder, has left many Puerto Ricans baffled and angry.
Local politicians, members of the legal establishment, scholars and ordinary residents have denounced the trial, now in its 2nd week. They call it a betrayal of the island's autonomy, culture and law..."Although we are talking about some facts that are very gruesome, the people of Puerto Rico do not approve in any way of capital punishment"...
My gosh, that Ashcroft's so eager to kill people.
dystopia 7:11 PM - [Link]
The Fed Takes a Dangerous Stance
Analysis of Greenspan's economic policy from Financial Times:
First, it assumes that a central bank can keep interest rates low until it sees sustainable economic growth, when it can tighten monetary policy to avoid inflation. But by the time you spot sustainable growth, inflation is already in the system, particularly if you start with interest rates below the current level of inflation. This experience in the later part of the past century engendered the idea that central banks should keep interest rates above inflation, pursue a stability strategy and target intermediate variables such as the growth in money supply or nominal income. The European Central Bank has followed this line but Mr Greenspan has disregarded it.
Second, Mr Greenspan's policy orientation assumes that it is not possible to have slow growth and inflation, which was a frequent occurrence in the 1970s and the early 1980s. Mr Greenspan believes the fundamentals are far stronger today than they were then. But, productivity miracle or not, a period of below-potential growth is precisely the adjustment that is required to deal with the three years of over-investment and over-consumption in the US in the late 1990s. When this adjustment is allied to an over-accommodative monetary policy, it may result in a period of stagflation.
Stoking the fires of consumption too soon will only worsen the record current account deficit. This deficit, close to 5 per cent of gross domestic product, represents overspending by US citizens, paid for by under-spending in the rest of the world. This is unlikely to last for ever. The bigger the deficit, the more painful the eventual adjustment will be for the US.
This one at CNN Money made my hair stand on end, too. Can they really do this? What will happen if they do, if just talking about it made the dollar fall?:
Federal Reserve Governor Ben Bernanke said on Wednesday that the central bank would be prepared to cut interest rates all the way to zero if necessary to prevent a fall in inflation.
Speaking to a university audience, Bernanke said if the Fed were to reduce overnight borrowing costs to zero, it would look at so-called nontraditional methods of trying to spur growth, such as buying long-term bonds...
The dollar sank in value on currency markets following Bernanke's comments, apparently fearful that cheaper credit makes the currency less attractive, while bond prices rallied as investors looked for a safer haven.
dystopia 6:51 PM - [Link]
White House Threatens to Veto Media-Ownership Cap
Common Dreams reports:
The Bush administration said on Tuesday it would veto a large government-spending bill if it reimposed media-ownership caps that were recently relaxed by the Federal Communications Commission...
The Bush administration said any move to roll back the changes would scuttle the $37.9 billion spending bill, which also sets the budgets for the Justice, State and Commerce departments.
"The Administration believes that the new FCC media ownership rules more accurately reflect the changing media landscape and the current state of network station ownership, while still guarding against undue concentration in the marketplace," the Office of Management and Budget said in a statement.
Buys 'em plenty of smoke and mirrors to hide their mistakes--I notice NigerGate has already pretty much disappeared from the cable news channels.
Could Powell be planning to step down from the hot seat? Saw this little teaser in The Deal:
The Federal Communications Commission on Monday denied a published report that Chairman Michael Powell plans to step down later this year...
In its July 28 issue Time Magazine said Powell told "confidants" that he would like to leave the FCC by the fall. The report also said three of his top four staffers are considering leaving.
But while sources said Powell's departure is not imminent, they acknowledge that recent controversy at the FCC over its media and telecom deregulation initiatives is exacting a heavy toll on the chairman.
Good--I hope the little rat's ears burn like fire.
dystopia 6:38 PM - [Link]
Bill Would Sideline DuPont Rival
Congress won't do any favors for the American worker, but they'll do 'em for America's corporate giants, in a heartbeat. According to the Philadelphia Inquirer:
A provision in the bill would repeal a 1999 law that let the Pentagon buy from foreign competitors such as Teijin Twaron BV, a Dutch maker of a fiber the military says is comparable to Kevlar. DuPont said the law was outdated. Teijin said the repeal would lead to higher prices for US taxpayers.
The one-sentence provision is in the "Buy American" section of the $400 billion House military bill that Defense Secretary Donald H Rumsfeld says would cripple most international military programs. The Senate bill excluded the provision. The House and Senate are negotiating a compromise.
"They are certainly capable of competition," Michael Wynne, acting assistant secretary of defense for acquisition, said of Wilmington-based DuPont.
Protectionist legislation has generally led to economic disaster in American history so, no, I don't support that sort of thing. All I want is to cut off corporate welfare and tax breaks and assorted loopholes for US companies that export jobs to other countries, and for those companies to be held accountable for the way they represent the US on foreign soil.
On that note, grim news via CNN Money:
As painful as the labor market has been lately, what's even more painful is that many of the 2.5 million jobs lost in the past few years are never coming back.
dystopia 5:55 PM - [Link]
Readers Want Press to Cover All US Casualties
Greg Mitchell was overwhelmed by public response to his article last week on how the media underplays the US death toll in Iraq; he excerpted some readers' comments in this week's Editor & Publisher:
Why aren't the national newspapers doing obits on all of these soldiers? The New York Times printed entire special sections on the World Trade Center dead, and won a Pulitzer for it -- are these dead any less deserving?...
What is also being under-reported is the number of nonfatal casualties. In what I have read it appears that there are several injuries that accompany almost every fatal attack. What do these numbers look like?...
What is a "non-hostile gunshot wound?" I would have thought that getting a bullet through the body is always a pretty hostile affair...
Last week, my daughter called me because a co-worker's daughter shot herself in Iraq. So I looked at the news and saw in a British newspaper a short line about a woman in the military in Iraq was shot. I was furious and wrote to papers like The New York Times demanding they ask about her suicide...
In a conversation with someone whose nephew is in Walter Reed hospital, recovering from injuries as a result of an auto accident, this person stated that the civilian vehicles are deliberately driving towards the army vehicles...These two incidents would point to a far more sinister explanation for the high amount of traffic accidents in the area, than we have been led to believe...
I've been lurking in the discussion forums lately--seeing lots and lots of comments just like these, everywhere I look.
dystopia 5:24 PM - [Link]
My firstborn ran off and got married last month. He waited until last week to tell me. We finally got to meet his wife for the first time yesterday.
If I haven't seemed terribly poised this past week--well, I haven't been. They've already been married longer than they dated.
My new daughter-in-law is the mother of a 2-year-old child--a bouncy blonde pigtailed girl, cute as a button, who ran to me with her little arms outstretched and, when I picked her up, she laid her little head on my shoulder.
She played me like a Steinway--I melted. (*grin*) I'm a grandma now.
dystopia 3:37 PM - [Link]
Today in Dystopian History: July 23
1664: Four British ships, charged with driving out the Dutch from New York, arrived in Boston.
1764: James Otis published his views on taxation without representation in "The Rights of the British Colonies Asserted and Proved."
1777: British Gen Sir William Howe set sail from NYC to take Philadelphia, seat of the Continental Congress.
1846: Protesting slavery and US involvement in the Mexican War, Henry David Thoreau was jailed for refusing to pay the $1 poll tax; the experience moved him to write Civil Disobedience.
1851: The Treaty of Traverse des Sioux was signed.
1892: Alexander Berkman tried to assassinate Henry Clay Frick after 9 miners were killed by Pinkerton thugs during the Homestead Strike.
1934: In Sacramento, CA, 22 farm workers were arrested; 18 were indicted under the criminal syndicalism act, a broad law used to fight Wobblies.
1938: The first federal game preserve, on 2,000 acres in Utah, was approved by the US Fish & Wildlife Service.
1940: The British Purchasing Mission reached an agreement to buy 40% of US aircraft production.
1942: Secretary of State Cordell Hull urged the formation of an international peacekeeping organization after the war.
1962: With the Declaration on the Neutrality of Laos, the US pulled out all military advisors and support staff; two CIA operatives were left in Laos to monitor Communist compliance with the neutrality agreement.
1967: The Detroit Riots began, leaving 43 dead, 2,000 wounded and 5,000 homeless.
1968: Racial violence began in Cleveland, OH, after a shootout with police.
1970: President Nixon approved the Huston Plan, for illegal wiretapping, break-ins and surveillance of Vietnam dissents and left-wing organizations.
1972: The Selective Service stopped requiring conscientious objectors to perform alternate service.
1972: Organizational meeetings were held at the Rockefeller estate for the Trilateral Commission, a group of power brokers representing the US, Europe and Japan.
1973: President Nixon refused to hand over his presidential tape recordings to the Senate Watergate Committee or to the special prosecutor.
1977: A jury in Washington, DC, convicted 12 Hanafi Muslims of taking 124 hostages during sieges at the B'nai B'rith building, the DC City Council chambers and the Islamic Center.
1987: Following an audit, Chief Examiner William Robertson reported to the Federal Home Loan Bank Board that Charles Keating acquired Lincoln Savings & Loan through misrepresentation, and had invested federally-insured funds in risky ventures. Robertson recommended the S&L be put into receivership; he was promptly demoted and replaced.
2001: The Bonn Agreement was reached, in which 178 countries agreed to cut emissions linked to global warming; the US refused to participate.
2002: President Bush signed a law making Yucca Mountain in Nevada the central depository for nuclear waste in the US; it required federal legislative approval because the governor of Nevada vetoed use of the site.
dystopia 10:08 AM - [Link]
Tuesday, July 22, 2003
The Great Catfish War
A free trade farce in NY Times:
Soon Mr Long and the other Vietnamese farmers were caught in a nasty two-front war being waged by the Catfish Farmers of America, the trade group representing Mississippi Delta catfish farmers. The Mississippi catfish farmers are generally not huge agribusinesses, and many of them struggle to make ends meet. But that still does not explain how the United States, the international champion of free market competition, could decide to rig the catfish game to cut out the very Vietnamese farmers whose enterprise it had originally encouraged.
Last year, with the aid of Trent Lott, then the Senate majority leader, the American catfish farmers managed to persuade Congress to overturn science. An amendment, improbably attached to an appropriations bill, declared that out of 2,000 catfish types, only the American-born family, named Ictaluridae, could be called "catfish." So the Vietnamese could market their fish in America only by using the Vietnamese terms "basa" and "tra."
That was only the first step in a bipartisan assault. Congressman Marion Berry, an Arkansas Democrat, joined in a stupendously tactless disinformation campaign against the Vietnamese, suggesting that their fish were not good enough for American diners because they came from a place contaminated by so much Agent Orange sprayed over the countryside by American forces during the Vietnam War. Catfish Farmers of America, for its part, ran advertisements warning of a "slippery catfish wannabe," saying such fish were "probably not even sporting real whiskers" and "float around in Third World rivers nibbling on who knows what."
dystopia 5:44 PM - [Link]
Childbirth One 'First' Military Didn't Need
Startling news from Soldiers for the Truth:
In case you missed the nano-second of news media attention it received amid all the other major stories and issues from the war with Iraq, a Marine staff sergeant assigned to the amphibious assault ship USS Boxer gave birth to a healthy 7-pound boy on May 23 while her ship was operating in the Persian Gulf.
Pentagon officials at the time said they believed this was the first time an active-duty servicewoman delivered a baby on a combat ship in a war zone.
dystopia 5:09 PM - [Link]
Another Harvey Pitt
Bush has named a derivatives lobbyist to head up the agency that regulates Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae, according to the Common Dreams Newswire:
“President Bush should withdraw Brickell’s nomination before he’s stuck with another Harvey Pitt and public confidence in the markets is further undermined.” said Charlie Cray, of Citizen Works’ Campaign for Corporate Reform. “What we need is a tough public-spirited regulator, not an industry lobbyist.”
For over a decade, Brickell and ISDA have successfully quashed any attempts by Congress to regulate derivatives, including forcing companies to explain more clearly what impact these complex financial instruments would have on companies’ balance sheets. Disclosure is particularly important when it comes to derivatives, which can be highly risky. (Warren Buffett has called them "ticking time bombs.") ISDA has consistently argued that regulating derivatives is unnecessary and too complicated, despite the fact that they have played a key role in many of the big financial scandals of the past decade, including Long Term Capital Management, Orange County, Barings, and Enron...
“Brickell falls short of possessing the leadership qualities necessary for so demanding a job,” said Randall Dodd, Director of the Derivatives Study Center. “Brickell has no experience in public service and has never worked in a public office. He is a long-time lobbyist for the derivatives industry and is inextricably linked to one of the narrow private interests in the conflict. As such, he will never be perceived as a fair minded policy maker that will respect the various competing private interests.”
But that's why they picked him, isn't it?
dystopia 4:57 PM - [Link]
The Army's Sticky Lubricant Woes
The sand-attracting lube/jammed rifles issue in the Iraq War, as experienced by the 507th and others, gets a Scripps Howard writeup via Capitol Hill Blue:
Equally disturbing, they say, is the Army's refusal to supply what they consider a far superior, commercially available product that many in the military and law enforcement already swear by and that the Pentagon in the past had endorsed.
In fact, a number of troops spent their own money to buy the rival lubricant - called Militec-1 - before they deployed to Iraq. Others, such as Carroll, have written or e-mailed Militec Inc from the front lines, asking the Maryland firm to ship it to them as soon as possible...
Unlike CLP - a wet, oily substance that acts as a virtual magnet for the omnipresent sand and leads to mucked up weapons that can jam or otherwise malfunction - Militec is a dry conditioning agent to which particles don't adhere, Giordani and others said.
I first read about this on June 21 at the Soldiers for the Truth website, but my link's gone dead and the original article seems to have disappeared, or at least I can't find it now. The link for Small Arms and Individual Equipment Lessons Learned still works.
Found an interesting e-mail exchange on the CLP/Militec controversy--read it all the way through.
dystopia 2:42 PM - [Link]
EPA Lacks SuperFunds for Waste Cleanups
The SuperFund program has been effectively cut off at the knees; it now operates on a decimated budget under a Republican administration that, frankly, would rather see it abolished entirely. Such a nuisance to "good businessmen," and all that.
According to the Boston Globe:
Frank attributed the Superfund program's selectivity to a Republican-controlled Congress that in 1995 let expire a tax on polluters that supported cleanups of Superfund sites. The trust fund has shrunk from more than $3 billion in 1995 to $28 million in 2003.
"It is a consequence of the administration's opposition to taxing oil companies and their commitment to tax cuts," Frank said. "When they ended, they said, 'Oh, we don't need this special tax; we'll fund it through general revenues.' Well, after simultaneously passing three tax cuts and fighting two wars, they've dried up the general revenues"...
Bradley said...as much as half the Superfund's spending went to court costs and litigation...
Huh? Why the hell would any SuperFund money ever be spent on litigation and court costs? Why isn't every penny of it spent on cleaning?
dystopia 2:17 PM - [Link]
19 Indicted in Drug Tampering Scheme
I'm beginning to wonder how pervasive this scam may be. I thought that pharmacist in Missouri was just a bizarre, isolated incident but, seeing the size and organization of this fake drug racket, I'm wondering if there might be others operating just like it in other states right now. It wouldn't surprise me a bit.
From the Boston Globe:
"This isn't just about drugs being diverted or rediverted. It's also in some cases about empty bottles being filled with chalk and water and labeled with fake labels," said state Department of Health Secretary John Agwunobi. "In some cases, it's about tap water being injected into bottles and sold as if it was a prescription drug"...
Dozens of the 1,458 prescription drug wholesalers in Florida were under investigation on suspicion that they had substituted genuine medications with weaker or bogus drugs. Authorities said the wholesalers put lives at risk because the tainted drugs are eventually sold to hospitals and pharmacies.
Authorities said that the 19 represented some of the most egregious criminals involved in a sophisticated scheme and that more indictments are expected...the investigation began with the 2001 arrest of a man caught stealing prescription drugs from a Miami hospital.
Mann said the suspect "introduced us into this nefarious black market...where drugs just basically go in loops where Medicaid may pay for the drugs once, maybe twice."
dystopia 1:34 PM - [Link]
Navajo President Opposes Proposed Energy Bill
The Indian energy bill, which is piggybacked onto the Senate energy bill, would grant the federal government the power to develop and implement energy programs without tribal consent and to waive federal liability for damages those programs cause, Shirley told the 88-member council...
The Senate is to vote on the measure July 28.
dystopia 1:11 PM - [Link]
Today in Dystopian History: July 22
22, 1587: The Lost Colony, with 91 men, 17 women and 9 children, was established on Roanoke Island, NC; when another group arrived in 1590, the island was deserted.
22, 1620: Led by John Robinson, a group of English Separatists who fled to Holland in 1607 returned to England, where they would board the Mayflower.
22, 1812: To pay for the War of 1812, the US government imposed a $3 million income tax apportioned among the states, who collected it from property owners.
22, 1838: The Wildes family was massacred by Seminoles, during the last Indian attack in Georgia.
22, 1839: 24 US soldiers were killed in a dawn raid by 250 Seminoles near Fort Myers, FL.
22, 1863: Kit Carson began his brutal campaign against the Navajo Indians.
22, 1902: Felice Pedroni discovered gold in the Tanana Hills; the ensuing stampede resulted in the founding of Fairbanks, AK.
22, 1916: A bomb killed 10 during a Preparedness Day parade in San Francisco, CA. Two men were framed and convicted by business and government interests; both were pardoned in 1939.
22, 1934: The NY Times, in an editorial titled The American Way: "This country may rightly take satisfaction at the way in which the general strike at San Francisco was met and conquered..."
22, 1937: The Senate rejected President Roosevelt's proposal to increase the number of justices on the Supreme Court.
22, 1944: In Bretton Woods, NH, the international conference concluded with an agreement on the establishment of an International Monetary Fund and an International Bank for Reconstruction and Development.
22, 1964: Racial violence began in Rochester, NY, just days after the Harlem and Brooklyn riots.
22, 1978: A rebellion broke out at the overcrowded Pontiac State Prison in Illinois, with 2000 prisoners packed into quarters designed for 1,250; three guards were killed.
22, 1982: The biggest mass wedding ever was staged by Rev Sun Myung Moon, who married 2,200 couples in NYC.
22, 1987: During the Iran-Iraq War, US warships escorted reflagged Kuwaiti oil tankers through the Strait of Hormuz in Operation Earnest Will.
22, 1988: President Reagan reluctantly signed the McKinney Homeless Assistance Act, which provided for a range of services to the homeless.
22, 1998: The 1998 Bohemia Grove "summer camp" began in Monte Rio, CA, during which rich and powerful American men gather to plan the future in an atmosphere of fun and games. A common complaint from reporters who file stories on the club: "The problem is, when the story gets to the top boardrooms, then it gets killed."
22, 1998: Rep Thomas Bliley (R-VA), Chairman of the House Commerce Committee, abandoned efforts to pass electric industry restructuring legislation designed to end utilities' protected monopoly service territories and institute retail electric competition nationwide.
22, 1998: Unocal agreed to pay $43.8 million to California for contaminating the state's central coast over forty years with a refined oil product, diluent, that leaked from an underground pipeline.
22, 2002: Mayor Webb announced that the City of Denver would adopt all of a review panel's recommendations, except the one to destroy the Spy Files.
dystopia 10:30 AM - [Link]
Monday, July 21, 2003
Iraq Coalition Casualty Count
As of today, 232 dead Americans and 43 dead Brits, for an average of 2.24 dead coalition soldiers per day.
I noticed they only give the number of combat deaths on the news, which is much lower than the grand total. They never get around to mentioning the others, as if they don't they count, somehow. As far as I'm concerned, if they were sent there for combat and they died there, that's a combat death.
I didn't see much reported about Sgt Melissa Valles, the second US servicewoman killed in Iraq, on national news outlets--before now I'd only seen one article on a local news site and a little tiny scrawl at the bottom of the CNN screen. She's listed on the Casualty Count website as a casualty on July 9.
Of course, she didn't die of combat wounds, so maybe that's why it doesn't seem to matter.
Why doesn't it matter?
dystopia 5:49 PM - [Link]
Intelligence Quagmire: How to Gauge the New IQ
An analysis of potential NigerGate fallout after hoisting the intelligence community on someone else's petard, in the Christian Science Monitor:
For one thing, the unveiling of specific data about Iraq and its dissection in the media could make it harder to convince the spy services of other nations to cooperate fully again with US or British counterparts. In the shadowy world of intelligence-sharing, few like uncontrolled publicity. Spies or other human-intelligence "assets" within target countries may become similarly leery.
For another, the administration may now be the White House that cried wolf. Unless convincing evidence of Iraqi WMD surfaces, and soon, critics might charge that intelligence evidence regarding other crises, such as North Korea, is being manipulated for political purposes.
Thus many experts say it's important to get to the bottom of what happened, and fix it, for the sake of US credibility...
At the very least, maybe this clusterf*ck will keep us from being rushed into another war by these maniacs--I hear they've got a few more countries left on the agenda.
dystopia 5:28 PM - [Link]
Italian Journalist Gave US Iraq-Niger Papers
Elisabetta Burba, a journalist with Italian current affairs weekly Panorama, said it was she who handed over the papers to the US embassy in October 2002 after acquiring them from a source she could not name but who was not linked to Italian secret services.
"I knew the documents could represent a huge world scoop...but there were many details that I found unconvincing," Burba said in an interview with daily Corriere della Sera.
She said after checks in Niger failed to satisfy her that the documents were reliable, Panorama decided not to publish the story.
Burba, meanwhile, had given the documents to US embassy officials in Rome to try to find out if they were credible.
And the rest is history.
dystopia 5:03 PM - [Link]
Right Raises Thunder Over Bush Spending
Georgie racks up even more demerits with the conservative votership, according to the Chicago Tribune:
Rep Jeff Flake (R-AZ), a conservative who voted against the proposal to add a $400 billion drug benefit to Medicare, said bluntly that Bush's inability to hold the line on spending could hurt him politically as the federal deficit soars into record territory over the next two years.
"I've always felt that sooner or later voters, if they want big government, will return to the genuine article, and that's the Democrats," Flake said. "If [Democrats] were in charge, we wouldn't be allowing this kind of spending. We'd throw up roadblocks everywhere we could. I just can't imagine that we wouldn't be wreaking havoc."
Stephen Moore, an economist and president of Club for Growth, a political action committee seeking to elect conservative candidates, agreed. "This is one of the biggest-spending White Houses we have had since Lyndon B Johnson was president," Moore said.
dystopia 4:34 PM - [Link]
Shell Hits US Embassy in Liberia
Getting off on the wrong foot, again, per BBC News:
The US soldiers arrived at the embassy by helicopter from nearby Sierra Leone earlier on Monday.
They are there to protect their own staff and people, but not to get involved in the battle that is taking place for the city between government troops and rebels.
Liberians have expressed frustration that the Americans should be sending troops just to protect their embassy.
One man told the BBC that if they are going to come here, they should come to help and stop the breakdown of the ceasefire that was in place.
"A lot of us are dying," he said.
From the description in the the article, Monrovia sounds like a very bad place for any human being to be right now.
The NY Times says:
In the meantime, about 4,500 more American sailors and Marines have been ordered to move closer to Liberia to be ready for possible duty there...
From Reuters AlertNet:
UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan urged the United States on Monday to deploy troops in turbulent Liberia "before it is too late" and warned rebel groups that any seizure of power would not be recognized by the international community...
US President George W Bush said the United States was working with regional nations, the Economic Community of West African States or ECOWAS, to determine when peacekeeping troops will be able to move into Liberia, but he gave no numbers or date. Bush also pledged to work with the United Nations to support a cease-fire, an indication that the White House was waiting until fighting subsided...
[Annan] renewed his call to ECOWAS to send in peacekeepers without delay and urged the United States "to spare no effort to support this deployment and to announce its own decision on the deployment of US troops before it is too late."
dystopia 3:43 PM - [Link]
Green Faction Wants McKinney for President
An interesting thought. I do like McKinney, very much. She has grit. And the Greens might be closest to my own political priorities, but I really don't want to vote for Nader. I appreciate what he's done for public safety and all but the idea of him as my President does nothing for me. I was just thinking this past week that I wish they'd run somebody else.
Could she possibly win in 2004? Mmmm, prob'ly not. The GOP smear machine would be relentless, and a dishearteningly large percentage of the US population still believes whatever they're told by the mainstream news media.
Of course, some people will never vote for a black candidate for President of the US, no matter what. And some people will never vote for a woman for President of the US, no matter what.
She hasn't agreed to it yet anyway--she's filing to run for her old seat in Congress again.
dystopia 1:41 PM - [Link]
In Najaf, a Sudden Anti-US Storm
When cultures collide, via NY Times:
Until now, interactions between the Americans and the Iraqis in Najaf have been calm, free of the random violence rampant in the country's Sunni heartland...a sudden storm erupted on Saturday after Moktada al-Sadr, the scion of a clan of beloved clerics and the most vocal supporter of Iranian-style theocracy in Iraq, asserted that American forces were encircling his home. They were bent on arresting him, his aides announced, after an incendiary sermon on Friday in which he rejected the American-appointed Governing Council and called for the formation of an Islamic army...
There had indeed been Apache helicopters clattering overhead and extra troops on the streets, but that was to provide security for a visit by Deputy Defense Secretary Paul D Wolfowitz, Colonel Conlin said...
Outside the headquarters of the United States forces here, on the old university campus, a young clergyman named Aws al-Khafaji, a member of Mr Sadr's circle, made fiery speeches against the American military. He said the Americans were ruling through a "sissy" council, despoiling the holy city of Najaf with their presence, and spreading Western corruption.
I watched a clip this weekend of Wolfowitz being interviewed over there; I wondered how much it cost US taxpayers to fly him in and out with a full security entourage.
Why does that "sissy" Bremer still have a job?
dystopia 1:02 PM - [Link]
White House Didn't Gain CIA Nod for Claim
A damning double-feature from the Washington Post:
The White House, in the run-up to war in Iraq, did not seek CIA approval before charging that Saddam Hussein could launch a biological or chemical attack within 45 minutes, administration officials now say...
Bush attributed the claim to the British government, but in a "Global Message" issued Sept 26 and still on the White House Web site, the White House claimed, without attribution, that Iraq "could launch a biological or chemical attack 45 minutes after the order is given."
Bush administration officials last week said the CIA was not consulted about the claim. A senior White House official did not dispute that account, saying presidential remarks such as radio addresses are typically "circulated at the staff level" within the White House only.
October Report Said Defeated Hussein Would Be Threat:
But declassified portions of a still-secret National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) released Friday by the White House show that at the time of the president's speech the US intelligence community judged that possibility to be unlikely. In fact, the NIE, which began circulating Oct 2, shows the intelligence services were much more worried that Hussein might give weapons to al Qaeda terrorists if he were facing death or capture and his government was collapsing after a military attack by the United States.
"Saddam, if sufficiently desperate, might decide that only an organization such as al Qaeda,...already engaged in a life-or-death struggle against the United States, could perpetrate the type of terrorist attack that he would hope to conduct," one key judgment of the estimate said.
It went on to say that Hussein might decide to take the "extreme step" of assisting al Qaeda in a terrorist attack against the United States if it "would be his last chance to exact vengeance by taking a large number of victims with him."
dystopia 12:35 PM - [Link]
Today in Dystopian History: July 21
1832: Fleeing Black Hawk Indians were overtaken by US troops in the Battle of Wisconsin Heights; 68 Indians were killed.
1861: During the First Battle of Bull Run, inexperienced soldiers on both sides fought a chaotic battle that resulted in a humiliating retreat by the Yankees.
1873: Jesse James and the Youngers staged the first known train robbery in history, taking $3,000 from the Rock Island Express near Adair, IA.
1877: During the Railroad Strike of 1877, state militia in Pittsburgh, PA, met protesters with a bayonet charge, then opened fire on unarmed men, women, and children, leaving at least 20 dead and 29 wounded.
1877: In the Baltimore & Ohio railroad strike, the Maryland militia fired on rail workers, killing 9 and touching off riots that engulfed Baltimore.
1880: A compressed air explosion killed 20 men working on the Hudson River Tunnel in NYC.
1919: A 158-foot dirigible crashed through the glass skylight of a Chicago bank, killing 13 people.
1932: The Emergency Relief and Reconstruction Act was passed by Congress, providing for $1.8 billion in loans to states for relief and public works projects.
1944: Seven members of the Heart Mountain Fair Play Committee were arrested and charged with "unlawful conspiracy to counsel, aid and abet violators of the draft."
1955: President Eisenhower presented his Open Skies Proposal, in which the US and the USSR would trade information on their military facilities.
1959: The merchant vessel Savannah, the first nuclear-powered ship in its class, was launched.
1964: A Senate subcommittee found that private insurance was unable to provide the majority of older Americans with "adequate hospital protection at reasonable premium cost."
1970: Buffalo Bills football player Bob Kalsu was killed by mortar fire while defending Firebase Ripcord, the only pro football player killed in action in Vietnam.
1971: ITT, facing antitrust action after its takeover of Hartford Insurance, allegedly pledged $400,000 to defray costs of the 1972 Republican Convention.
1974: President Nixon learned that three sympathetic Southern Democrats on the Judiciary Committee had deserted him, writing in his diary, "Lowest point in Presidency and SC [Supreme Court] to come."
1976: The first outbreak of Legionnaire's Disease killed 34 people in Philadelphia, PA.
1981: A creationism law requiring equal teaching with evolution passed in Louisiana.
1984: The first documented case of a robot killing a human in the US.
1992: Rep Henry Gonzales said in a House speech, "While the [Bush] policy did not permit the sale of bombs or something of that nature that would blow up, it clearly allowed the sale of the equipment needed to make them. The administration knew what Saddam Hussein was doing..."
1997: For the first time, a tobacco company executive testified that cigarettes cause cancer.
2000: Special Counsel John Danforth concluded "with 100% certainty" that the US government was innocent of wrongdoing in the siege that killed 80 Branch Davidian members near Waco, TX, in 1993.
2002: WorldCom filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, the biggest in US history at that time.
dystopia 10:39 AM - [Link]
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Books Worth Reading (linked to reviews):
The Handmaid's Tale, by Margaret Atwood (1986)
How the Good Guys Finally Won: Notes from an Impeachment Summer, by Jimmy Breslin (1975)
Barbarians at the Gate: The Fall of RJR Nabisco, by Bryan Burrough and John Helyar (1990)
Big Blues: The Unmaking of IBM, by Paul Carroll (1993)
Silent Spring, by Rachel Carson (1962)
The Road Ahead, by Bill Gates with Nathan Myhrvold and Peter Rinearson (1996)
Charismatic Chaos, by John F MacArthur, Jr (1992)
The American Way of Birth, by Jessica Mitford (1992)
Ethel: A Fictional Autobiography, by Tema Nason (1990)
Arrogant Capital: Washington, Wall Street, and the Frustration of American Politics, by Kevin Phillips (1994)
Flying High: The Story of Boeing and the Rise of the Jetliner Industry, by Eugene Rodgers (1996)
Clearing the Air, by Daniel Schorr (1977)
Trammell Crow, Master Builder: The Story of America's Largest Real Estate Empire, by Robert Sobel (1989)
The Triumph of Politics: Why the Reagan Revolution Failed, by David Stockman (1986)
Oil Man: The Story of Frank Phillips and the Birth of Phillips Petroleum, by Michael Wallis (1995)
Marathon: The Pursuit of the Presidency 1972-1976, by Jules Witcover (1977)
Belly Up: The Collapse of the Penn Square Bank, by Philip L Zweig (1985)