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Administration and Cost of Elections

Alaska Wilderness League

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American Association of Retired Persons

American Federation of Government Employees

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American Institute of Philanthropy

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American Library Asociation

American Peace

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Americans for Democratic Action

Americans United for Separation of Church and State

Amnesty International

Anthrax Vaccine Network

Arms Control Association

Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now

Atomic Veterans of America


Behind the Label

Black Box Voting

Bread for the World

Brennan Center for Justice


Business and Human Rights Resource Center

Campaign Against Arms Trade

Campaign Against Depleted Uranium

Campaign Finance Institute

Campaign for America's Future

Campaign for Safe and Affordable Drinking Water

Campaign for the Abolition of Sweatshops and Child Labor

Campaign to Ban Genetically Engineered Foods

Campaign to Label Genetically Engineered Foods

CEE BankWatch Network

Center for Constitutional Rights

Center for Defense Information

Center for Democracy and Citizenship

Center for Digital Democracy

Center for Economic and Policy Research

Center for Food Safety

Center for International Policy

Center for Justice and Accountability

Center for National Security Studies

Center for Nonproliferation Studies

Center for Public Integrity

Center for Science in the Public Interest

Center for Voting and Democracy

Center on Budget and Policy Priorities

Chemical Industry Archives

Chernobyl Children's Project

Child Labor Coalition

Child Protective Services Watch

Children's Defense Fund

Chilling Effects Clearinghouse

Christian Aid

Chronic IllNet

Chronology of Incorporation and Monopoly

Citizen Action Project

Citizen Works

Citizens Against Government Waste

Citizens for Tax Justice

Citizens Network on Essential Services

Clary-Meuser Research Network

Clean Clothes Campaign

Coalition for a Competitive Pharmaceutical Market

Coalition to Stop the Use of Child Soldiers

Commercial Alert

Common Cause

Common Dreams

Commonweal Institute

Community Rights Council

Concord Coalition


Consumer Federation of America

Consumer Project on Technology

Consumer Research

Consumers Against Supermarket Privacy Invasion and Numbering

Corporate Crime Reporter

Corporate Europe Observatory

Corporate Responsibility Coalition

Corporate Sunshine Working Group

Corporate Welfare Information Center

Corporate Welfare Shame Page


Corps of Engineers Watch

Council for a Livable World

Council on Hemispheric Affairs

Cronus Connection: Election Fraud and Voting Machines

Death Penalty Information Center

Defense and the National Interest

Democracy 21


Depleted Uranium Education Project

Depleted Uranium Watch

DES Action


Disabled American Veterans

Discernment Ministry International



Earth Institute


EarthRights International

Economic Policy Institute

Electronic Frontier Foundation

Electronic Privacy Information Center

Electronic Voting

Endgame Research

Energy Future Coalition

Environmental Investigation Agency

Environmental Working Group

Facts About Olestra

Fair Taxes for All

Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting


Families of
September 11

Families USA: Voice for Health Care Consumers

Family Farm Alliance

Farm Credit Quagmire

FAS Project on Government Secrecy

FDA Review

Federation of American Scientists

Fellowship of Reconciliation

Fielding's DangerFinder

Fight Bad Faith Insurance Companies

Focus on the Corporation

Foundation for Taxpayer & Consumer Rights

Fourth Freedom Forum

Free Expression Policy Project

Friends of the Earth

Genocide Documentation Centre

Genocide in the 20th Century

Global Exchange


GRACE Factory Farm Project

Gulf War Veterans

Gush Shalom

Health Care Comparisons Worldwide

Health Privacy Project

Healthy Building Network

Heifer International

History House

Human Rights Watch

iAbolish: Anti-Slavery Web Portal


Independent Judiciary

Indian Trust: Cobell v. Norton

Infact: Challenging Corporate Abuse

Initiative & Referendum Institute

Instant Runoff Voting

Institute for Energy and Environmental Research

Institute for Health Freedom

Institute for Local Self-Reliance

Institute for Policy Studies

Institute for Public Accuracy

Interfaith Alliance

Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility

International ANSWER

International Atomic Energy Agency

International Campaign to Ban Landmines

International Confederation of Free Trade Unions

International Federation for Alternative Trade

International Fellowship of Reconciliation

International Institute for Environment and Development

International Labor Rights Fund

International POPs Elimination Network

Jewish Unity for a Just Peace

Keep Antibiotics Working

Landmine Survivors Network

League of Conservation Voters

League of Women Voters

Let's Invest in Families Today

Liberals Like Christ

Local Harvest

Los Alamos Study Group

Low Level Radiation Campaign

Maquila Solidarity Network

March for Justice


Measles Initiative

Mines Advisory Group


Mothers for Peace

Moving Ideas

National Center for Children in Poverty

National Coalition Against Censorship

National Coalition for Homeless Veterans

National Committee for an Effective Congress

National Committee to Preserve Social Security & Medicare

National Farmers Union

National Freedom of Information Coalition

National Freedom Scorecard

National Gulf War Resource Center

National Institute on Money in State Politics

National Labor Committee for Worker and Human Rights

National Organization for Rare Disorders

National Parks Conservation Association

National Priorities Project

National Vaccine Information Center

National Voting Rights Institute

Native American Rights Fund


Natural Resources Defense Council

Neturei Karta

New Rules Project


No Free Lunch: Just Say No to Drug Reps

No Spray Coalition

Novartis Foundation for Sustainable Development

Nuclear Control Institute

Nuclear Threat Initiative

Office of Management & Budget Watch Money in Politics

Open Society Institute

Organic Consumers Association

Our Stolen Future

Oxfam International

Participatory Democracy

Pax Christi International

People for the American Way

Pesticide Action Network North America

Physicians for Human Rights

Polaris Institute

Political Money Line

Program on Corporations, Law and Democracy

Project Against the Present Danger

Project on Government Oversight

Project Underground

Project Vote Smart

Protection Project


Public Citizen

Public Employees for Environmental Responsibity

Rainforest Action Network


Reaching Critical Will

Reclaim Democracy

Reclaim the Media


Resource Center of the Americas

Responsible Wealth

Rethinking Schools

Right-To-Know Network

Safe Tables Our Priority: Food Safety and Food-Borne Illness


Save the Children

Secretive World of Voting Machines

Send a Cow

September 11th Families for Peaceful Tomorrows

Shared Hope International

Small Business Survival Committee

Society for Animal Protective Legislation

Soft Money Laundromat

Sojourners: Christians for Justice and Peace

Soldiers for the Truth

Soy Online Service

Sprawl Busters


Stop Carnivore

Stop Disney Sweatshops

Stop Patient Abuse Now Coalition


Sweetwater Alliance

Swords to Plowshares

Talion: Voting Machines

Tax Foundation

Taxpayers for Common Sense

Ten Thousand Villages

Third World Traveler

Tort Reform Reader


Transparency International

Traprock Peace Center

Truth About Credit

20/20 Vision

UN Landmines Fact Sheet

UN Population Fund

Union of Concerned Scientists

United for a Fair Economy

United for Peace & Justice

Uranium Medical Research Centre

US Campaign to Ban Landmines

US Congregational Life Survey

US Public Interest Research Group

Veterans for Common Sense

Vital Voices Global Partnership

VoteWatch: Repository for Voter Complaints

Water Aid

Water Barons Government Accountability Project

Wilderness Society

WISE Uranium Project

Womens International League for Peace & Freedom

World Resources Institute

WorldWatch Institute

Worldwide Fund for Mothers Injured in Childbirth


Yucca Mountain Facts

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Thursday, July 31, 2003

7 More Cases of Mystery Illness

Collected several different articles today on how the troops are doing in Iraq. From the Lake Sun Leader:

Seven more soldiers in Iraq have contracted the same puzzling illness that has killed two soldiers...The latest cases bring the number of affected troops to 19. All have been evacuated to the same Landstuhl, Germany, hospital where Spec Josh Neusche, 20, of Montreal was treated before he died July 12.

"The deaths of our American soldiers is a tragedy to start with," Skelton said. "They were just doing their duty to their country and to die of a unknown cause just makes it worse.

"It's heart-wrenching that two families have already buried their loved ones, not knowing what killed them. Closure is something we cannot give them until we get answers."

Dutch troops are enduring some misery of their own, per Expatica. It doesn't sound as serious but, considering everything else they're dealing with, it's the last thing they needed:

Dozens of peacekeeping Dutch soldiers stationed in the south of Iraq have caught a virus and the Defence Ministry is concerned that the number could increase to about a hundred.

The vulnerability of soldiers to viruses in the Middle Eastern country is due in part to the extreme heat, the different life style encountered, new foods and a higher concentration of viruses in the air. The virus causes vomiting and diarrhoea.

And from Australia's Sunday Times, a US military official says that some of the US troop deaths in Iraq have been suicides:

US forces in Iraq have suffered cases of probable suicide, a senior military official said today, amid slumping morale among troops faced with daily and deadly attacks.

The senior officer, who asked not to be named, said that among 53 US military non-combat deaths since May 1, when the war was declared effectively over, were "probable" suicides...He did not say how many soldiers were suspected of committing suicide.

There have been a number of "non-hostile gunshot incidents" among US troops in that time, with suspected suicides and accidental discharges of weapons, for example during cleaning, included under the category.

dystopia 6:01 PM - [Link]

US Scraps Nuclear Weapons Watchdog

The Guardian reports that the sneaky little bastards just eliminated one of our safeguards against the shiny new nuclear arsenal they intend to build:

A US department of energy panel of experts which provided independent oversight of the development of the US nuclear arsenal has been quietly disbanded by the Bush administration, it emerged yesterday.

The decision to close down the national nuclear security administration advisory committee--required by law to hold public hearings and issue public reports on nuclear weapons issues--has come just days before a closed-door meeting at a US air force base in Nebraska to discuss the development of a new generation of tactical "mini nukes" and "bunker buster" bombs, as well as an eventual resumption of nuclear testing.

Ed Markey, a Democratic congressman and co-chairman of a congressional taskforce on non-proliferation, said: "Instead of seeking balanced expert advice and analysis about this important topic, the department of energy has disbanded the one forum for honest, unbiased external review of its nuclear weapons policies."

dystopia 5:38 PM - [Link]

Thousands Left Jobless as 16 Plants Close

The people of North Carolina just took a major hit, per the News-Record:

In what North Carolina officials are calling the largest mass job loss in state history, Pillowtex Corp closed its 16 plants in the United States and Canada on Wednesday andterminated 6,450 workers, more than 4,000 of them in North Carolina...

In Rockingham County, which already has a 9.1 percent unemployment rate, Eden Mayor Phil Price said Wednesday, "this has cast a pall across our entire community. It's simply devastating"...

Pillowtex is just the latest in a long line of textile companies that have fallen prey to low-cost manufacturers abroad, particularly in Asia. Recent bankruptcies include Burlington Industries and WestPoint Stevens. Textile leaders say their industry has lost 271,000 jobs since 2001.

"This is just the continuation of a trend. This industry has been downsizing for the last 15 or 20 years," said Michael Walden, an economics professor at NC State. "And I would expect the trend not to stop, but to continue."

Pieces of Dylan's Union Sundown were running through my head, so I looked up the words:

Well, my shoes, they come from Singapore,
My flashlight's from Taiwan,
My tablecloth's from Malaysia,
My belt buckle's from the Amazon.
You know, this shirt I wear comes from the Philippines
And the car I drive is a Chevrolet,
It was put together down in Argentina
By a guy makin' thirty cents a day...

Well, it's sundown on the union
And what's made in the USA
Sure was a good idea
'Til greed got in the way

Democracy don't rule the world
You'd better get that in your head
This world is ruled by violence
But I guess that's better left unsaid...

dystopia 4:56 PM - [Link]

Defense Spending Drives US Recovery

Via Yahoo! News:

The strongest wave of federal defense spending since the Korean War helped fuel US economic growth at a stronger-than-expected 2.4 percent annual rate in the second quarter, the Commerce Department said on Thursday...

Spending on defense, much of it to support the war in Iraq, shot up at a 44.1 percent rate--the strongest since 110 percent in the third quarter of 1951--after falling 3.3 percent in the first three months of the year. That accounted for much of the unexpected surge in GDP expansion.

"Without the voracious winds of government spending, the USS Economy might have been a rudderless dinghy," said Rich Yamarone, an economist at Argus Research Corp in New York...

Well, then, thank goodness for the War on Terror, huh? Go take a look at your tax dollars at work:

Daddy Warbucks
Leave No Defense Contractor Behind
Defense CEOs Pay Rose 79% in 2002
The Defense Budget and Wartime Profiteering

dystopia 4:29 PM - [Link]

Investigation? No, Bush Should Pick Up the Phone

Josh Marshall is king of The Hill today, rebuking Dubya for his failure to take decisive action:

Enough already. Enough excuse-making...

The president should find out who they are, reprimand them or, preferably, fire them. But instead of being outraged, he doesn’t even seem to care...

We don’t really need any investigations, with all their depositions and fancy lawyers and public grandstanding. If the president wanted to, he could wrap this up with a few quick phone calls. So why doesn’t he?

For which caper is Dubya being admonished for failure to address? Well, in this case, it's the Valerie Plame Wilson outing but, really, you can take your pick. There have been so many instances within this administration where corrective action, and plausible explanations, are still due.

dystopia 3:46 PM - [Link]

Bush Blames Unemployment on Lack of Skills

Fell out of the bed and hit his head again. The IEEE-USA, an engineers' union, says:

During a Wednesday morning (July 30th) press conference, President Bush was asked a question about jobs going overseas as a result of technological innovation. His response was:

"I fully understand what you're saying. In other words, as technology races through the economy, a lot of times worker skills don't keep up with technological change"...

When you write the President, tell him that unemployment in the high-tech sector has very little to do with the competency of American workers, and a great deal to do with the low cost of using foreign is difficult to compete with engineers from Asia and Eastern Europe who are paid 20% to 50% less than the prevailing wage in the US.

dystopia 3:26 PM - [Link]

Poindexter to Resign in Wake of Market Flap

A good start. This is Poindexter's second resignation in disgrace, BTW. Who's next? Anybody? USA Today reports:

Retired Adm John Poindexter will resign his position at the Pentagon after a research project he was overseeing was condemned by Congress as an "egregious error of judgment."

A senior defense official said Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and Poindexter realized that "it would be difficult" for him to continue in his job after the flap over a plan to establish a futures market that would have allowed traders to profit by correctly predicting assassinations and terrorist strikes in the Middle East...

"And if it's going to end, I think you ought to end the careers of whoever it was thought that up. Because terrorists knowing they were planning an attack could have bet on the attack and collected a lot of money. It's a sick idea," she said.

I'm not satisfied--Poindexter wasn't the only witch stirring this vile pot. I still want an independent investigation, and to see several more high-level positions suddenly vacated at the Pentagon.

dystopia 2:55 PM - [Link]

Did You Watch?

Caught a fantastic new PBS special on Watergate last night, followed by a rip-roaring profile of historian, author and provacateur Gore Vidal.

Thanks to my folks, who always lined us up in front of the TV to watch History in the Making, I have my own memories of the hearings and the news reports and Nixon's resignation, even though I was too young to understand what was happening. Watching video clips of the hearings last night brought it all back in living color. Hot dog!

I think Watergate Plus 30 will be shown again on August 4, so if you missed it, be sure to make yourself a note. The reminder of what-all a president and his minions will get up to is particularly relevant right now.

It's a pity, you know, that so many of these "reality" TV fans don't pay attention to the incredible human drama playing out in our country and around the world, every single day. They're missing everything.

dystopia 2:24 PM - [Link]

Today in Dystopian History: July 31

1763: Capt James Dalyell and 280 troops attacked Pontiac's village near Detroit; Pontiac had been warned of the attack and ambushed Dalyell.

1777: French nobleman Marquis de Lafayette was made a Major-General of the Continental Army.

1813: The British sacked and burned Plattsburgh, NY.

1843: The Hawaiian flag was raised once again after British recognition of the kingdom of Kamehameha III.

1846: Mormon immigrants arrived in California after a 6-month voyage around the southern tip of South America.

1867: White citizens fled Nashville fearing violence the next day--the first election day in which newly-enfranchised black men would be able to vote.

1874: A grasshopper plague began in Kansas; clothing, provisions and money were sent from the East to help destitute farmers get through the winter.

1938: NY Yankee Jake Powell, a policeman in the off-season, was suspended for 10 days after he said on the radio that he'd "hit every colored person in Chicago over the head with a club."

1945: The Secretary of War suggested in a memo to President Truman a package of measures to persuade Japan to surrender, including use of the atomic bombs under production.

1949: The participation of Navy Transport Squadrons in the Berlin Airlift ended.

1961: At Cape Canaveral, the Secretary of Labor read President Kennedy's message praising the missile and space workers' voluntary no-strike, no-lockout pledges, as the US "cannot afford the luxury of avoidable delay in our missile and space program. Neither can we tolerate wasteful and expensive practices..."

1964: The Gulf of Tonkin incident began when the USS Maddox made a "reconnaissance" patrol along the coast of North Vietnam.

1972: Democrat Thomas Eagleton withdrew as the vice-presidential candidate, after it was made public that he had undergone psychiatric treatment.

1973: Rep Robert Drinan advised the House he believed impeachment proceedings should be initiated against President Nixon.

1974: John Ehrlichman was sentenced for the burglary of Daniel Ellsberg's psychiatrist's office.

1980: Six months after the Chrysler Loan Guarantee Act was signed, Chrysler's 2nd quarter losses were the biggest in its history.

1980: A study showed that women whose mothers took the hormone DES during pregnancy had a high incidence of vaginal abnormalities.

1981: A 42-day major league baseball strike ended.

1989: A pro-Iranian group released a videotape of the corpse of hostage Lt Col William Higgins.

1991: President Bush and Soviet President Gorbachev signed the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty.

1991: The Senate voted to allow women to fly combat aircraft.

1995: Disney agreed to acquire Capital Cities-ABC.

1997: NYC police seized five bombs believed bound for terrorist attacks on subways.

1998: The Huffy Bicycle plant in Celina, OH, closed after 44 years; 650 workers lost their jobs.

2002: ChevronTexaco announced the resumption of crude oil exports from Nigeria after protests and a fire.

dystopia 10:36 AM - [Link]

Wednesday, July 30, 2003

US Casualties on the Rise in Colombia

New Colombia News Agency reminds us that our government is still spending lots of money (and lives) in Colombia:

US mercenary companies such as DynCorp employ numerous foreigners for their missions in Colombia in an effort to circumvent US Congressional restrictions on the numbers of US citizens allowed to directly participate in the Colombian civil war. The DynCorp mercenaries frequently come under fire from guerrilla forces, and pilots of El Salvadorian and Peruvian nationality have been reported killed in combat on several occasions in the last two years.

At least 16 US mercenary companies are paid by the US State Department to perform different tasks in Colombia’s war, according to a fact-sheet published last month by the government-friendly Bogotá daily El Tiempo. The activities range from providing bodyguards for Colombian top officials to directing air strikes.

The mercenary companies include Lockheed-Martin, DynCorp, California Microwave Systems (a division of Northrop-Grumman), Matcom and Arinc.

dystopia 6:07 PM - [Link]

Voting Systems Can't Be Trusted

But you already knew that, didn't you? The Denver Post says:

What we know is that the machines can't be trusted. It's an unlocked bank vault...a disaster waiting to happen," said David Dill, a Stanford University computer science professor who has prompted more than 110 fellow scientists to sign a petition calling for more accountability in voting technology...

The Georgia Libertarian Party weighed in on the subject, too:

"As a 28-year veteran computer engineer, I knew these new voting machines would be vulnerable to vote tampering, but it just floored me when I found out how terribly vulnerable they really are," said Georgia LP State Chair Dr Helmut Forren on July 10.

His comments came after a website based in New Zealand -- -- alleged that the Diebold voting machines used in Georgia can be manipulated to change the outcome of an election. The machines use a computerized voting system that produces no paper ballots...

"[This] shocking report puts Georgia in the spotlight for potential vote-counting fraud," said Forren. "This report shows that, even with a paper audit trail, the underlying system for vote counting is completely insecure."

dystopia 5:32 PM - [Link]

US Employers Giving Smallest Raises Since 1970s

CNN reports:

The belt-tightening reflects rising worker health care bills and pension costs and a weak economy that has made it difficult for companies to raise prices for their products, according to a survey to be released Wednesday by Mercer Human Resources Consulting.

Also, the small raises reflect the anemic job market, with its oversupply of workers, according to the Mercer survey and another put out last month by the Conference Board, an industry research group.

"People are flogging their workers to get more out of them as a means to increase profits, coupled with the fact that there's more supply than demand for labor today," said Steven Gross, a compensation consultant for Mercer.

Other current articles:

Outsourcing to Usurp More US Jobs
Are Americans Too Far Underwater?

dystopia 5:08 PM - [Link]

Senate Rejects Tougher Fuel-Economy Standard

Predictable news from the Washington Post:

Senate Republicans, joined by Democrats from auto-producing states, yesterday rejected a proposal to mandate a 40-mile-per-gallon fuel-economy standard for passenger cars by 2015 and then voted to direct the Transportation Department to set a new [Ed. note: meaning lower] standard...

US automakers and the United Auto Workers union opposed Durbin's proposal. "You would think I was proposing the end of the automobile industry in America," Durbin said yesterday. He contended that the auto companies have the technology to achieve the goal. "Detroit does not have the will to do it."

But Sen Christopher S Bond (R-MO), whose state is a major auto producer, said Durbin's amendment would trample auto-company profits, wipe out auto workers' jobs and compel consumers to buy smaller, less-safe vehicles.

Interesting that company profits came first in Bond's list of concerns. I wonder if he really said them in that order? Probably. He seems to think we should all be driving big ol' SUVs, too. I look at this this way--if they'd never started making the damned things in the first place, all of us driving little bitty cars with great gas mileage would be much safer.

You should also be aware of something else they've been up to:

Another floor fight is anticipated over the Republican plan to revive the nuclear power industry with subsidies supporting new plant designs...

dystopia 3:58 PM - [Link]

Flip-Flop on Air Marshal Schedules

Encouraging trend developing: announce, cancel, announce, cancel.

It's very telling that, while the Bush administration wanted $8 million for the indefensible Lottery of Death, here they were fixing to pull air marshals off cross-country and international flights because they didn't want to pay hotel bills. MSNBC says:

The Department of Homeland Security was set to release a statement later Wednesday addressing the subject of the air marshal program, a homeland security source told, but no details of that statement were provided...

The marshals found that, beginning Friday, they had not been scheduled for any flights that would require them to stay away from home overnight. That meant no air marshal coverage on international or cross-country flights, the very kind targeted in the Sept 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

The move to pull marshals from those flights was particularly disturbing to some because it coincided with a new high-level hijacking threat issued by the Department of Homeland Security. That warning memo said that "at least one of these attacks could be executed by the end of the summer," according to a source familiar with the document.

dystopia 3:35 PM - [Link]

Bush Takes Responsibility for Iraq Claim

In what way? By making a lame (and long overdue) speech? I'm still waiting for the "I resign" broadcast. Via Yahoo! News:

"I take personal responsibility for everything I say, absolutely," the president said during an hour-long White House news conference where he sought to quell a controversy that has dogged his administration for weeks.

It was the first time he had specifically taken responsibility for the words. In the past, he sidestepped the question, taking responsibility only for his decisions...

Bush told reporters, "since I'm in charge of the war on terror, we won't reveal source and methods" of gathering intelligence.

Isn't that a relief? Somebody is in charge after all. I thought they were all free-styling it.

I wonder what Laura thinks of Condi.

dystopia 3:02 PM - [Link]

Today in Dystopian History: July 30

1502: On Columbus' fourth voyage, crewmen landed and traded with the Indians at Guanaja, near Honduras.

1619: The Virginia House of Burgesses first met at Jamestown.

1841: The Treasury Department dispatched revenue cutters to Florida to intercept Spanish fishing vessels, believed to be supplying the Seminoles with arms and ammunition.

1863: President Lincoln issued his eye-for-eye order, to shoot a rebel prisoner for every black prisoner killed by Confederates.

1864: The Union Army tried to break the Siege of Petersburg by blowing up a tunnel dug under Rebel trenches, but a poorly-planned attack wasted the effort.

1866: New Orleans police opened fire into a black crowd outside the Mechanics Institute, and a white crowd stormed the hall, killing 38.

1876: US buffalo soldiers and black Seminole scouts attacked Lipan and Kickapoo Indians near Saragossa, Mexico, killing 10.

1887: The US Attorney General filed suit and confiscated the property of the Mormons and the Perpetual Immigration Fund Corporation.

1889: Nationalist Robert Wilcox led the Redshirts in an armed revolt against the Bayonet Constitution in Hawaii.

1916: Saboteurs blew up a munitions supply depot at Black Tom Island, near Jersey City, NJ, causing death, hundreds of injuries and widespread destruction; the Statue of Liberty suffered $100,000 in damages.

1916: Margaret Sanger was arrested in Portland, OR, for selling obscene literature, a booklet entitled Family Limitation, which explained birth control methods.

1918: American poet Joyce Kilmer was killed by a sniper during the Battle of the Ourcq, on the Western Front.

1938: Adolf Hitler awarded Germany's highest non-citizen medal, the Grand Cross of the Supreme Order of the German Eagle, to Henry Ford; the Senate Judiciary Committee reported in 1974 on Ford's aid to the Nazis.

1941: The USS Tutiula was damaged by Japanese bombs in Chungking; Japan apologized for the incident, which did nothing to help increasingly strained relations.

1945: After delivering Uranium-235 for the atomic bomb, the USS Indianapolis sank when it was torpedoed by a Japanese submarine.

1958: A left-wing coup that overthrew the Iraqi monarchy aroused Western fears of the Domino Effect.

1965: President Johnson signed into law the Social Security Act that established Medicare and Medicaid.

1967: Race riots began in Milwaukee, WI; 4 died.

1967: A Gallup Poll showed that 52% of Americans did not approve of the Vietnam War, and 41% believed troops should never have been sent.

1969: Addressing US infantry troops outside Saigon, President Nixon said, "I think history will record that this may have been one of America's finest hours..."

1974: The House Judiciary Committee approved the third article of impeachment against President Nixon.

1981: Democrats in Congress threatened to hold up budget legislation until Social Security benefits were protected from President Reagan's drastic benefits cuts.

1986: Variety reported that RCA, owned by General Electric, dropped one of its most profitable stars; GE, a major defense industry manufacturer, was offended by John Denver's "What Are We Making Weapons For?"

dystopia 9:55 AM - [Link]

Tuesday, July 29, 2003

Shell Q2 Profit Soars

The oil industry seems to be doing all right--it'd be nice if the rest of us were, too. The Star says:

Royal Dutch/Shell Group, the world’s second largest oil firm, reported a consensus-beating 51% rise in second-quarter profits yesterday, but disappointed the market somewhat by saying it would not buy back any more of its own shares this year.

Shell is the first of the world’s top three oil companies to report second-quarter results. World leader ExxonMobil Corp and No. 3 BP plc will follow next week.

All three have been producing some of the largest quarterly profits ever recorded by publicly traded companies, helped by oil prices that have soared on the back of the war in Iraq and supply disruptions in Nigeria and Venezuela.

How nice for them. I understand defense contractors are making out like bandits as well.

dystopia 5:51 PM - [Link]

Myers in India for Troops-for-Iraq Talks

How much "foreign aid" is this going to cost us? You know they'd much rather keep their soldiers at home and alive to fight their own battles. Yahoo! News reports:

Myers' visit is the first by a high-ranking US military official to India since New Delhi on July 14 turned down a US request to send troops for a "stabilization force" in Iraq.

India, however, has said it could reconsider if such a troop deployment was specifically authorized by the United Nations.

Asia Times says the US won't take India's No for an answer.

dystopia 5:32 PM - [Link]

The Times Scoops That Melted

Jack Shafer thoroughly dissects Judith Miller's "wretched reporting" on Iraq's WMD, in Slate:

If reporters who live by their sources were obliged to die by their sources, New York Times reporter Judith Miller would be stinking up her family tomb right now. In the 18-month run-up to the war on Iraq, Miller grew incredibly close to numerous Iraqi sources, both named and anonymous, who gave her detailed interviews about Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction. Yet 100 days after the fall of Baghdad, none of the sensational allegations about chemical, biological, or nuclear weapons given to Miller have panned out, despite the furious crisscrossing of Iraq by US weapons hunters...

Judith Miller finds everybody associated with the failed search theoretically culpable except Judith Miller. This rings peculiar because Miller, more than any other reporter, showcased the WMD speculations and intelligence findings by the Bush administration and the Iraqi defector/dissidents. Our WMD expectations, such as they were, grew largely out of Miller's stories.

Back in June, the Washington Post reported on Miller's storm trooper ways while embedded in Iraq--she was neither a joy nor a delight.

dystopia 5:17 PM - [Link]

Radio Rule Changes Mean Clear Channel Stays Big

The Monster That Ate Radio will be allowed to continue its reign of terror over the market, per the San Francisco Chronicle:

Radio companies generally can keep their current stations under a grandfather clause in the FCC's new guidelines. As a result, Clear Channel, the San Antonio company that is by far the nation's biggest owner of radio stations, can hang onto just about every station it rolled up under the old rules. Yet competitors say the tougher new standards will make it harder for them to replicate Clear Channel's potent collection of stations.

"All (the FCC) did was further entrench them, and gave them more running room...It makes it more difficult for the rest of us to line up and compete against them on a national level."

Clarke Brown...says Clear Channel "should be very pleased...They're already in a maximum position. This is going to disallow almost anyone from achieving clusters like Clear Channel's in many markets."

dystopia 4:54 PM - [Link]

Sunscreen and Bug Spray a Bad Mix

I'm more afraid of spraying man-made chemicals all over myself than I am of mosquitos, which is why I'm sitting here itching right now. Yahoo! News has some info on why you might want to avoid them, too:

When DEET and oxybenzone are combined, there's a marked increase in the rate of absorption through the skin. Gu says this could mean the side effects of the chemicals may be heightened when they're used together...

Gu is especially interested in how sunscreens and bug repellants affect children and seniors.

"Children have a large body surface area and tender skin, making them more prone to cross-skin absorption. People over 65 tend to have thinner skin and have had years of exposure to sun, which also makes their skin absorb more of these chemicals," Gu says in a news release.

I keep meaning to look up natural bug repellents and see if there's anything else I can use, but somehow I never get around to it.

dystopia 4:39 PM - [Link]

Have You Been Subpoenaed by the RIAA?

The Electronic Frontier Foundation offers a quick way to find out if they're looking at you, with its Subpoena Username Query Form.

You know, twenty years ago we all recorded everything we watched on TV with our VCRs--the recorders and blank tapes were readily available at any Wal-Mart. The TV and movie industries went nuts, of course, but they didn't mount a legal war like this against ordinary citizens.

I'm still wondering--why was it even legal to sell the recording equipment if it was illegal to record copyrighted programs? What else would you record with a VCR?

I'm think the cat's already out of the bag--technology and communications have changed too much to turn back now. Maybe it's time to restructure the whole royalty system anyway. I'd rather find a way for the people who write and perform the music, and the technicians and staff who directly support them in doing it, get the bulk of the cash somehow, starving the industry parasites out of existence.

dystopia 4:13 PM - [Link]

Army of One

Symbolman poured his heart and soul into this outstanding flash presentation, at Take Back the Media.

If you can watch it without crying, you're tougher than me.

dystopia 3:41 PM - [Link]

Pentagon Abandons Plan for Terror Futures Market

I was happy to see this being discussed on all the news channels last night, because I told DH about it but he didn't believe me--he said, "No way!" It was just too crazy, it had to be some kind of a hoax. The NY Times says:

The Pentagon office that proposed spying electronically on Americans to monitor potential terrorists has quickly abandoned an idea in which anonymous speculators would have bet on forecasting terrorist attacks, assassinations and coups in an online futures market...Democratic senators who disclosed the plan on Monday called it morally repugnant and grotesque. The senators said the program fell under the control of Adm John M Poindexter, President Ronald Reagan's national security adviser...

"Can you imagine," Mr Dorgan asked, "if another country set up a betting parlor so that people could go in — and is sponsored by the government itself — people could go in and bet on the assassination of an American political figure?"...

One top aide said he hoped that the Pentagon had a good explanation for it.

Judging from past experience, the warheads will probably offer us several different explanations to choose from, but none of them are likely to be any good.

I'm thinking that a project like this had to pass through at least weeks or months, if not longer, of discussion, planning and preparation, involving any number of people, committee meetings, authorizations, etc, before the project ever made it to the rollout stage.

I'm wondering if they'll ever admit who all was involved in plotting this monstrosity; it's chilling that none of them seems to have looked at the plan at any point and said, "No way!"

dystopia 2:42 PM - [Link]

Today in Dystopian History: July 29

1649: The Nine Men of New Amsterdam announced they were sending a Petition of Remonstrance with charges against Peter Stuyvesant's rule to the Netherlands.

1776: Two Spanish priests left Santa Fe on an epic journey through the Southwest.

1837: The Chippewas signed a treaty with Henry Dodge, a US agent, at St Peters, WI.

1862: Betrayed by her lover, Confederate spy Belle Boyd was arrested by Union troops.

1898: At Camp Hell in Miami, FL, hundreds of US troops were sick, and many died, from typhoid and intestinal disorders due to tainted water and unsanitary conditions.

1907: IWW activist Big Bill Haywood was acquitted in the Steunenberg assassination.

1921: The Council on Foreign Relations was incorporated in NYC by a group of bankers and others.

1932: Bonus Marchers in Washington, DC, were driven from their encampment by the US Army under the command of Gen Douglas MacArthur.

1942: The British and American Production and Resources Board was established, headed by Averell Harriman, the US Lend-Lease representative, and Sir Oliver Lyttleton, the British Minister of Production.

1947: ENIAC, one of the first digital computers, debuted.

1957: The International Atomic Energy Agency was established.

1965: The first 4,000 paratroopers of the 101st Airborne Division arrived in Vietnam; US troop strength was at 81,400, with 509 KIA to date.

1967: In the Gulf of Tonkin, a Zuni rocket accidentally launched from an aircraft aboard the USS Forrestal and struck another aircraft; explosions and fire killed 134 crewmen.

1968: Riots broke out in Seattle after police raided the local Black Panther headquarters.

1968: A pipeline study team arrived in Alaska, after a big oil and gas reservoir was found near Prudhoe Bay.

1970: Grape growers signed with the UFW after a 5-year strike in California, ending the grape boycott.

1974: The House Judiciary Committee voted 28-10 against President Nixon on the second article of impeachment, concerning the abuse of power.

1981: Congress passed the Kemp-Roth tax cut bill, the biggest in US history at the time; budgets for social programs were slashed or eliminated to pay for the tax cuts, while defense spending skyrocketed.

1987: At the Iran-Contra hearings, Sen George Mitchell found it "hard to accept" that Attorney General Ed Meese didn't ask obvious questions and took no notes during early questioning of key officials because he didn't think the fund diversion was a criminal case.

1994: Two people were killed and one wounded outside a Florida abortion clinic; former minister and anti-abortion activist Paul Hill was convicted and sentenced to death.

1998: The UAW ended a 54-day strike against GM.

2002: President Bush submitted part of the Clear Skies legislation to Congress, which proposed using market incentives to reduce power plant emissions.

dystopia 10:51 AM - [Link]

Monday, July 28, 2003

Real Hero Behind the 'Bravery' of Pvt Jessica

Well, this might explain a few things. The Telegraph says the mix-up over Lynch's wounds was due to a case of mistaken identity:

For Mrs Walters, however, the standing ovation and praise lavished on the young woman soldier, who was captured by Iraqi forces and later freed in a dramatic American raid, served only to highlight the contrasting treatment of her dead son, who fought in the same unit.

It was, fellow soldiers have told her, Sgt Donald Walters who performed many of the heroics attributed to Pte Lynch in the fanfare of publicity designed to lift the nation's morale, and Sgt Walters who was killed after mounting a lone stand against the Iraqis who ambushed their convoy of maintenance vehicles near Nasiriyah...

"The fighter that they thought was Jessica Lynch was Donald. When he was found he had two stab wounds in the abdomen, and he'd been shot once in the right leg and twice in the back. And he'd emptied his rounds of ammunition. Just like they said Jessica had done at first."

Sgt Walters' family is now fighting to have his bravery properly recognized--the Army has so far refused.

None of this is Pvt Lynch's fault, of course. I still haven't seen the video of her speech, but I read the transcript and was quite pleased that, although there were some glaring omissions (i.e., Bush, anyone at the Pentagon) in her list of thanks, she did remember those who took care of her in Iraq. Good girl! And kudos to her folks, for bringing up a young lady with such good manners.

dystopia 4:59 PM - [Link]

Pentagon Plans Futures Market for Events in Mideast

Oh, dear Jesus, what are they thinking? This cannot be allowed to happen--federally-sanctioned gambling on death and destruction? Bloomberg says:

The US military plans a worldwide on-line futures market to help it predict events in the Middle East. Traders could bet on the likelihood of events ranging from the overthrow of a government to the collapse of an economy or the assassination of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat...

"Clearly, this is morally wrong," Oregon Senator Ron Wyden said. Senator Byron Dorgan of North Dakota called it "the most Byzantine thing I have ever seen proposed by a federal agency."

The Pentagon requested $3 million for the project in its fiscal 2004 budget. The Senate said no; the House said yes. The budget is now before a conference committee of both chambers...

Are you convinced yet that there is nothing--not one iota--of God's grace about these people?

I try to keep this blog relatively secular, because I'm not having any trouble with my faith--I'm having trouble with my government. It's just that things like this really flip me out, and these Scriptures were what popped into my head:

Come now, you rich, weep and howl for your miseries that are coming upon you! -- James 5:1

Test all things; hold fast what is good. Abstain from every form of evil. -- I Thessalonians 5:21-22


dystopia 4:14 PM - [Link]

Bush, GOP Losing Support of Retired Veterans

Dubya & Co seem to be going down in flames with the vets, according to the Miami Herald:

Normally Republican, many retired veterans are mad that Bush and the Republican-controlled Congress are blocking remedies to two problems with health and pension benefits. They say they feel particularly betrayed by Bush, who appealed to them in his 2000 campaign, and who vowed on the eve of his inauguration that "promises made to our veterans will be promises kept"...

Many veterans say they will not vote for Bush or any Republican in 2004 and are considering voting for a Democrat for the first time. Others say they will sit out the election, angry with Bush and Republicans but unwilling to support Democrats, whom they say are no better at keeping promises to veterans. Some say they will still support Bush and his party despite their ire...

Registered Republican James Cook, who retired to Fort Walton Beach, Fla, after 24 years in the Air Force, said he is abandoning a party that he said abandoned him. "Bush is a liar," he said. "The Republicans in Congress, with very few exceptions, are gutless party lapdogs who listen to what puts money in their own pockets or what will get them re-elected."

I see Mr Cook believes in calling a spade a spade. I'll bet Rove's still kicking himself for that carrier landing.

I keep my radar tuned for this sort of thing--revolt in the voting ranks--and I find a lot of it. This administration does have one very impressive talent--they're equal-opportunity offenders, able to alienate entire segments of the voting population in a single bound; infuriating millions and millions of Americans without compunction, time and time again.

Maybe Campaign 2004 won't be such a slam dunk after all.

dystopia 3:33 PM - [Link]

President to Make Rare Visit to Black Group

Well, that's mighty white of him. Tampa Bay Online reports:

President Bush is making a rare appearance before a group that represents black Americans, part of an effort to build ties to a demographic group that overwhelmingly voted against him in 2000...

Bush planned to give a 25-minute speech, but not to meet otherwise with Urban League leaders or members.

Way to go, George.

dystopia 2:42 PM - [Link]

Inquest Opens on Possible Lynching

Rumors are flying over a death in Florida, per the San Francisco Chronicle:

Police concluded Golden committed suicide, hanging himself from a tree outside his grandmother's home with a work shirt as a noose.

Relatives said that was impossible; they claim Golden was found with his hands tied behind his back. Friends said Golden was dating a white policeman's daughter in this rural farming community of about 15,000...

No lynching deaths have been documented for more than two decades, according to the center. But the heated reaction to Golden's death underscores the racial divide still present in Belle Glade and many small communities in the Deep South, where accusations of lynching occasionally surface.

There's a website on lynchings that lists 2,806 people, regardless of race or sex, known to have been lynched in the US between 1882 and 1930. Go read the list of reasons given for various lynchings--it's stunning. Reproving a white youth? Acted suspiciously? I think about the hate that caused all this and wonder.

When I read through the names, I try to imagine what it must have been like for them, terrified, alone and powerless and probably in pain from being beaten or worse. None of these people received due process, so we can't know whether they did any of the things they were accused of. How many were innocent of any crime?

The youngest American hanging victim I've seen referenced so far was 12-year-old Hannah Omish, on December 20, 1876, but I can't find any info on where or why or by whom. I wonder if she might be folklore, because I can't find anything about her, except on various "this day in history" listings with identical wording.

I couldn't find anyone with the name Omish on RootsWeb, which strikes me as unusual since it's a massive international database; on a regular search engine I discovered that Omish is Gaelic for Thomas and that Omish seems to be a variant name for the Amish, but nothing more.

But I wonder, if Hannah was real, what on earth could a 12-year-old child have possibly done to deserve to die?

UPDATE: Mr Golden's family concedes to the press that he probably committed suicide.

dystopia 2:07 PM - [Link]


Franklin P Adams said:

I find that a great part of the information I have was acquired by looking up something and finding something else on the way.

Ain't that the truth!

Gandhi said:

The exploitation of the poor can be extinguished not by effecting the destruction of a few millionaires but by removing the ignorance of the poor and teaching them to noncooperate with the exploiters.

Smart fella, Gandhi.

dystopia 1:17 PM - [Link]

Today in Dystopian History: July 28

1646: In NY, Gov Willem Kieft was removed from his post, due to his arbitrary rule and tactless handling of Indians that resulted in almost continuous warfare.

1841: The Senate tried to revive the Second National Bank by effectively creating a state-chartered bank to be used by the federal government; President Tyler vetoed the bill as unconstitutional.

1847: The first Mormons visiting the Great Salt Lake found it easy to scoop up salt; the salt industry thus became one of Utah's first commercial enterprises.

1854: 10,000 people in San Francisco watched the hanging of William Sheppard.

1862: Fort Bowie was established at Apache Pass, AZ.

1864: In the Battle of Ezra Church, Confederates made a third attempt to break Sherman's hold on Atlanta; the failed attack destroyed the CSA's offensive capability.

1868: The 14th Amendment was ratified, granting equal rights to all non-Indian men. Of the Supreme Court's 14th Amendment cases from 1890-1910, only 19 addressed race, while 288 suits concerned corporate rights.

1915: After its president was assassinated for executing political prisoners, US Marines invaded Haiti.

1945: The USS Callaghan sank near Okinawa, the last US ship destroyed by a Japanese kamikaze attack.

1945: A B-25 bomber lost in fog crashed into the 79th floor of the Empire State Building; 14 people died.

1950: Two US infantry companies were attacked at Anui while crossing the Nam River; only 18 soldiers made it. The rest engaged in street fighting and tried to slip into the hills; half were KIA or MIA in the battle.

1957: A C-124 carrying two nuclear weapons lost power and jettisoned its load into the sea off the New Jersey coast; the bombs were never recovered.

1962: Mariner I fell into the ocean upon launch.

1965: President Johnson announced the doubling of draft calls, giving military leaders a blank check to pursue the war; Johnson still refused to call up the reserves.

1967: The Kerner Commission was appointed to study racism and violence in the US.

1972: After Soviet accusations that a US bombing campaign targeted dikes and dams in the Tonkin Delta, a CIA report released by the Nixon administration said the damage was accidental.

1976: Johnny Roselli left his Florida home for the last time; his corpse turned up in North Dade. He had allegedly been involved with organized crime and in a CIA plot to kill Castro.

1977: The first oil through the TransAlaska Pipeline reached the marine terminal at Valdez, AK.

1982: San Francisco was the first US city to ban civilian possession of handguns; an NRA lawsuit overturned the ban.

1987: The Beatles filed suit against Nike to try to stop the use of John Lennon's Revolution in shoe ads.

1987: The Federal Home Loan Bank Board decided that conservatorship for Charles Keating's Lincoln Savings & Loan was not viable.

1988: Two DEA agents testified that Oliver North had wanted to take $1.5 million in Medellin Cartel bribe money carried by a DEA informant and give it to the Contras, but DEA officials rejected the idea.

1996: Richard Jewell was a hero for saving lives after the bombing in Atlanta, but soon became the prime suspect; the news media ran wild with the story and wound up paying Jewell large cash settlements.

dystopia 10:19 AM - [Link]

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i.e. America Radio

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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)