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Surf-Worthy Sites:

Administration and Cost of Elections

Alaska Wilderness League

American Antitrust Institute

American Association of Retired Persons

American Federation of Government Employees

American Friends Service Committee

American Institute of Philanthropy

American Lands Alliance

American Library Asociation

American Peace

American Rivers

Americans for Computer Privacy

Americans for Democratic Action

Americans United for Separation of Church and State

Amnesty International

Anthrax Vaccine Network

Arms Control Association

Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now

Atomic Veterans of America


Behind the Label

Black Box Voting

Bread for the World

Brennan Center for Justice


Business and Human Rights Resource Center

Campaign Against Arms Trade

Campaign Against Depleted Uranium

Campaign Finance Institute

Campaign for America's Future

Campaign for Safe and Affordable Drinking Water

Campaign for the Abolition of Sweatshops and Child Labor

Campaign to Ban Genetically Engineered Foods

Campaign to Label Genetically Engineered Foods

CEE BankWatch Network

Center for Constitutional Rights

Center for Defense Information

Center for Democracy and Citizenship

Center for Digital Democracy

Center for Economic and Policy Research

Center for Food Safety

Center for International Policy

Center for Justice and Accountability

Center for National Security Studies

Center for Nonproliferation Studies

Center for Public Integrity

Center for Science in the Public Interest

Center for Voting and Democracy

Center on Budget and Policy Priorities

Chemical Industry Archives

Chernobyl Children's Project

Child Labor Coalition

Child Protective Services Watch

Children's Defense Fund

Chilling Effects Clearinghouse

Christian Aid

Chronic IllNet

Chronology of Incorporation and Monopoly

Citizen Action Project

Citizen Works

Citizens Against Government Waste

Citizens for Tax Justice

Citizens Network on Essential Services

Clary-Meuser Research Network

Clean Clothes Campaign

Coalition for a Competitive Pharmaceutical Market

Coalition to Stop the Use of Child Soldiers

Commercial Alert

Common Cause

Common Dreams

Commonweal Institute

Community Rights Council

Concord Coalition


Consumer Federation of America

Consumer Project on Technology

Consumer Research

Consumers Against Supermarket Privacy Invasion and Numbering

Corporate Crime Reporter

Corporate Europe Observatory

Corporate Responsibility Coalition

Corporate Sunshine Working Group

Corporate Welfare Information Center

Corporate Welfare Shame Page


Corps of Engineers Watch

Council for a Livable World

Council on Hemispheric Affairs

Cronus Connection: Election Fraud and Voting Machines

Death Penalty Information Center

Defense and the National Interest

Democracy 21


Depleted Uranium Education Project

Depleted Uranium Watch

DES Action


Disabled American Veterans

Discernment Ministry International



Earth Institute


EarthRights International

Economic Policy Institute

Electronic Frontier Foundation

Electronic Privacy Information Center

Electronic Voting

Endgame Research

Energy Future Coalition

Environmental Investigation Agency

Environmental Working Group

Facts About Olestra

Fair Taxes for All

Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting


Families of
September 11

Families USA: Voice for Health Care Consumers

Family Farm Alliance

Farm Credit Quagmire

FAS Project on Government Secrecy

FDA Review

Federation of American Scientists

Fellowship of Reconciliation

Fielding's DangerFinder

Fight Bad Faith Insurance Companies

Focus on the Corporation

Foundation for Taxpayer & Consumer Rights

Fourth Freedom Forum

Free Expression Policy Project

Friends of the Earth

Genocide Documentation Centre

Genocide in the 20th Century

Global Exchange


GRACE Factory Farm Project

Gulf War Veterans

Gush Shalom

Health Care Comparisons Worldwide

Health Privacy Project

Healthy Building Network

Heifer International

History House

Human Rights Watch

iAbolish: Anti-Slavery Web Portal


Independent Judiciary

Indian Trust: Cobell v. Norton

Infact: Challenging Corporate Abuse

Initiative & Referendum Institute

Instant Runoff Voting

Institute for Energy and Environmental Research

Institute for Health Freedom

Institute for Local Self-Reliance

Institute for Policy Studies

Institute for Public Accuracy

Interfaith Alliance

Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility

International ANSWER

International Atomic Energy Agency

International Campaign to Ban Landmines

International Confederation of Free Trade Unions

International Federation for Alternative Trade

International Fellowship of Reconciliation

International Institute for Environment and Development

International Labor Rights Fund

International POPs Elimination Network

Jewish Unity for a Just Peace

Keep Antibiotics Working

Landmine Survivors Network

League of Conservation Voters

League of Women Voters

Let's Invest in Families Today

Liberals Like Christ

Local Harvest

Los Alamos Study Group

Low Level Radiation Campaign

Maquila Solidarity Network

March for Justice


Measles Initiative

Mines Advisory Group


Mothers for Peace

Moving Ideas

National Center for Children in Poverty

National Coalition Against Censorship

National Coalition for Homeless Veterans

National Committee for an Effective Congress

National Committee to Preserve Social Security & Medicare

National Farmers Union

National Freedom of Information Coalition

National Freedom Scorecard

National Gulf War Resource Center

National Institute on Money in State Politics

National Labor Committee for Worker and Human Rights

National Organization for Rare Disorders

National Parks Conservation Association

National Priorities Project

National Vaccine Information Center

National Voting Rights Institute

Native American Rights Fund


Natural Resources Defense Council

Neturei Karta

New Rules Project


No Free Lunch: Just Say No to Drug Reps

No Spray Coalition

Novartis Foundation for Sustainable Development

Nuclear Control Institute

Nuclear Threat Initiative

Office of Management & Budget Watch Money in Politics

Open Society Institute

Organic Consumers Association

Our Stolen Future

Oxfam International

Participatory Democracy

Pax Christi International

People for the American Way

Pesticide Action Network North America

Physicians for Human Rights

Polaris Institute

Political Money Line

Program on Corporations, Law and Democracy

Project Against the Present Danger

Project on Government Oversight

Project Underground

Project Vote Smart

Protection Project


Public Citizen

Public Employees for Environmental Responsibity

Rainforest Action Network


Reaching Critical Will

Reclaim Democracy

Reclaim the Media


Resource Center of the Americas

Responsible Wealth

Rethinking Schools

Right-To-Know Network

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


Save the Children

Secretive World of Voting Machines

Send a Cow

September 11th Families for Peaceful Tomorrows

Shared Hope International

Small Business Survival Committee

Society for Animal Protective Legislation

Soft Money Laundromat

Sojourners: Christians for Justice and Peace

Soldiers for the Truth

Soy Online Service

Sprawl Busters


Stop Carnivore

Stop Disney Sweatshops

Stop Patient Abuse Now Coalition


Sweetwater Alliance

Swords to Plowshares

Talion: Voting Machines

Tax Foundation

Taxpayers for Common Sense

Ten Thousand Villages

Third World Traveler

Tort Reform Reader


Transparency International

Traprock Peace Center

Truth About Credit

20/20 Vision

UN Landmines Fact Sheet

UN Population Fund

Union of Concerned Scientists

United for a Fair Economy

United for Peace & Justice

Uranium Medical Research Centre

US Campaign to Ban Landmines

US Congregational Life Survey

US Public Interest Research Group

Veterans for Common Sense

Vital Voices Global Partnership

VoteWatch: Repository for Voter Complaints

Water Aid

Water Barons Government Accountability Project

Wilderness Society

WISE Uranium Project

Womens International League for Peace & Freedom

World Resources Institute

WorldWatch Institute

Worldwide Fund for Mothers Injured in Childbirth


Yucca Mountain Facts

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Saturday, August 09, 2003

Who Exposed Whistleblower's Wife?

The Guardian wants to know, and so do I:

The FBI may launch an inquiry into whether the White House revealed the identity of a covert CIA official to punish her husband for blowing the whistle on President Bush for making misleading claims about the Iraqi nuclear programme, officials in Washington said yesterday...

The administration has denied giving Novak any names, but Mr Wilson said he had been contacted by other reporters who had both been told about his wife by White House officials.

dystopia 4:27 PM - [Link]

Retailers Claim RFID Tags Will Stop Terrorists

OMG, the lies they tell. These people are relentless. Wired News reports:

The companies are banding together and through an industry association are lobbying to have the Department of Homeland Security designate radio frequency identification, or RFID, as an antiterrorism technology.

In addition, they are asking members of Congress and other influential figures to portray RFID in a favorable light...

With Ridge's approval for RFID, the food and drug companies and retailers hope to win over a wary public. They also may get legal protection under the Safety Act of 2002--a tort-reform law that offers blanket lawsuit protections to makers of antiterrorism devices, should those devices fail during a terrorist attack.

dystopia 4:21 PM - [Link]

Politics & Science in the Bush Administration

Oh, looky! Henry Waxman put up a special website to tell us all about this administration's affinity for junk science, along with Washington Post and NY Times coverage.

dystopia 4:09 PM - [Link]

Keeping an eagle eye on Shrubya's Dash for Cash--he just threw a big BBQ, BTW, for big GOP donors, but George Soros has a plan to take him down. And, according to this, it might just be possible.

dystopia 3:53 PM - [Link]

Today in Dystopian History: August 9

1639: Jonas Bronck was first white settler in the Bronx.

1757: French forces under Marquis de Montcalm captured Fort William Henry from the British.

1779: American forces broke a dam to flood Iroquois towns and fields in upstate New York, then burned and ravaged the settlements for 12 days.

1814: In the Treaty of Fort Jackson, Creeks ceded 22 million acres to the US, half of their remaining lands.

1862: Gen Stonewall Jackson narrowly defeated Gen John Pope's Union force in the Battle of Cedar Mountain.

1877: Sleeping Nez PercÚ Indians were attacked by US troops in the Battle of the Big Hole in Montana.

1929: The NY Bank raised rediscount rate on loans to brokers a full point to 6% after brokers' debt reached $6 million, the fourth time in a month a new record was set.

1941: President Roosevelt and British PM Churchill met at Placentia Bay to discuss Europe and the Far East.

1942: After US aircraft carriers left, Japanese ships entered the Sealark Channel near Savo Island; the remaining US naval force was inexperienced, with little equipment for night fighting, and lost 4 ships.

1944: The US Forest Service and Wartime Advertising Council created the Smokey the Bear campaign.

1945: The US dropped an atomic bomb on Nagasaki, destroying half the city and killing 74,000 people.

1954: After the Geneva Conference, the US Council of National Security, chaired by President Eisenhower, decided to get directly involved in Vietnam.

1962: President Kennedy approved spraying herbicide in the Mekong Delta.

1966: US jets attacked 2 South Vietnamese villages by mistake, killing 63 villagers and wounding over 100.

1966: 200 protesters against the use of napalm staged a sit-in at Dow Chemical's NYC offices.

1968: 96 US troops were killed in the Vietnam War the previous week, the lowest death toll in a year.

1973: The Senate Watergate committee filed suit against President Nixon for refusing to turn over subpoenaed White House tapes.

1974: Under pressure from Sen Barry Goldwater and RNC chairman George Bush, President Nixon resigned; Gerald Ford was sworn in and assured the country that the "long national nightmare" was over.

1985: Arthur Walker, a retired Navy officer, was found guilty of espionage for passing secret documents to his brother, who forwarded them to Soviet agents.

1985: Oliver North wrote in his diary, "Honduran DC-6 which is being used for runs out of New Orleans is probably being used for drug runs into US"; there is no evidence of North's later claim that he forwarded this intelligence to the DEA.

1985: 7 protesters were arrested for blockading the Pantex nuclear weapons plant in Amarillo, TX.

1987: Hundreds were arrested in a blockade of the Rocky Flats nuclear weapons plant in Golden, CO.

1989: 22 anti-nuclear activists were arrested at the Nevada Test Site.

1997: Brooklyn police officers sodomized Haitian immigrant Abner Louima with a toilet plunger.

2000: Bridgestone/Firestone recalled 6.5 million tires; in the same 10 years that Ford-Firestone crashes caused 300 deaths, more than 12,000 people died in SUV rollovers unrelated to tire failure.

dystopia 10:51 AM - [Link]

Friday, August 08, 2003

Father of Dead Soldier Claims Army Coverup

UPI reports:

The father of a soldier who died of pneumonia this spring said Thursday the Army has excluded her death from its investigation of deadly pneumonia because it wants to cover up vaccine side effects.

"The government is covering this up and it is a dog-gone shame," said Moses Lacy, whose daughter, Army Spc Rachael Lacy, died April 4 at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn, after getting pneumonia.

Lacy said his daughter "was a healthy young woman" but got ill within days of getting anthrax and smallpox vaccinations on March 2 in preparation for deployment to the Persian Gulf. She was too ill to ever be deployed.

Saw something else on this the other day, also in UPI:

The Army will consider whether the anthrax or other vaccine could be causing a cluster of pneumonia cases among soldiers in Iraq and southwestern Asia, an official said Wednesday.

Col Robert DeFraites of the Army Surgeon General's office told United Press International that the Pentagon would look into whether vaccines, among other factors, might have triggered the pneumonia that has killed two soldiers and sickened 100.

"Among all of the possible causes or contributing factors, we are looking at the immunizations that the soldiers received as well," DeFraites told UPI Wednesday. "It is premature to say that there is any relationship at all."

More reading:

Anthrax Vaccine Network
Mandatory Anthrax Vaccine Challenged in Court
No More GI Guinea Pigs
Forced Vaccines Haunt Gulf Vets
Chemical Cocktail Made Gulf Troops Ill

dystopia 5:50 PM - [Link]

Hawks in Secret Talks with Iranian

According to Newsday:

The officials said at least two Pentagon officials working for Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Douglas Feith have held "several" meetings with Manucher Ghorbanifar, the Iranian middleman in US arms-for-hostage shipments to Iran in the mid-1980s.

The administration officials who disclosed the secret meetings to Newsday said the talks with Ghorbanifar were not authorized by the White House and appeared to be aimed at undercutting current sensitive back channel negotiations with the Iranian regime.

"They [the Pentagon officials] were talking to him [Ghorbanifar] about stuff which they weren't officially authorized to do," said a senior administration official. "It was only accidentally that certain parts of our government learned about it."

Goshamighty, they are determined to get us into another war, any war, in time for Campaign 2004, aren't they? I think they're stuck on this notion that a wartime president can't be beat or something--I dunno.

dystopia 5:19 PM - [Link]

Liberian Fighters in Frenzy of Rape

Wrenching stories, via the Guardian:

What shook her most was that some of the same boys raped her 15-year-old daughter: to Liberians it is taboo for any man to have sex with both a mother and daughter.

"We are cursed," Mrs Hagar said.

Alice Kpaku's composure dissolved the moment she tried to explain how it felt to watch a husband have a cigarette popped in his mouth as he is disembowelled. Later they tied her ankles to stakes and stabbed her in the right thigh when she struggled.

"I have no hope in life," she says. "I have no one left. Oh comfort me, Jesus."

Found a group that was helping rape victims in Liberia last year, so it's not a new problem there. It's just that the number of rapes has rocketed right off the charts over the past few months, while the world stood by wringing its hands, dithering over what to do.

dystopia 5:10 PM - [Link]

Rockies Targeted for Drilling

The Denver Post says:

The Bush administration on Thursday ordered federal land managers across the Rockies to look for ways to remove or reduce environmental restrictions on federal lands in order to make way for gas drilling.

The new rules issued by Bureau of Land Management Director Kathleen Clarke represent a ramping up of the administration's push to develop several key natural gas fields in the Rocky Mountain West. They order BLM officials to review environmental restrictions, speed up energy projects, streamline environmental restoration and maintain ties with industry...

"Some decision-maker is going to sit there and say, 'My president wants this. I can't have any obstacles to drilling," Flora said. "I have to find ways to accommodate this, even against my better judgment."

With the California Energy Scam so fresh in my memory, I'm not so sure I buy all this talk of a natural gas "shortage." How do we know it's not just another con?

The Common Dreams NewsWire has this to say about Bush's BLM:

"Americans expect our federal agencies to be stewards of our public lands, but the Bush administration prefers that the Bureau of Land Management spend its time and our tax dollars giving away our national treasures to the energy industry.

"Under this new policy, BLM staff are being directed to force open more of our special places to oil and gas drilling, and as quickly as possible. Currently, the management plans for our public lands do not allow for the amount of drilling that the Bush administration wants. The agency's action today focuses field staff on changing these plans in several controversial places, such as Wyoming's Powder River Basin and Montana's Rocky Mountain Front, to boost drilling.

"Bush officials also are rewriting the rules to allow mitigation to occur outside the areas where energy development will actually take place. The purpose of mitigation is to minimize the environmental harm caused by drilling."

dystopia 4:48 PM - [Link]

North Korea Next to Hear US War Drum?

More plotting and scheming by the warheads, via the Globe & Mail:

A senior Pentagon adviser has given details of a war strategy for invading North Korea and toppling its regime within 30 to 60 days, adding muscle to a lobbying campaign by US hawks urging a pre-emptive military strike against Pyongyang's nuclear facilities.

Less than four months after the end of the Iraq war, the war drums in Washington have begun pounding again. A growing number of influential US leaders are talking openly of military action against North Korea to destroy its nuclear-weapons program, and even those who prefer negotiations are warning of the mounting danger of war...

Military conflict in the Korean peninsula could trigger a catastrophe, not only because of the suspected presence of nuclear bombs in North Korea, but also because of the 11,000 North Korean artillery weapons along the border that could inflict death and destruction on millions of people in the South Korean capital, Seoul, which is within artillery range of the North's guns.

Think they can beat 'em within 60 days, huh? Didn't see the word "cakewalk" in there, but it amounts to the same thing, doesn't it? Another misunderestimation by the Wrecking Crew?

I just want to point out that in 3 years of war in Korea, we lost over 33,000 US troops. That's dead Americans, not wounded ones. It took us 10 years to lose 58,000 Americans in Vietnam.

Meanwhile, Woolsey and McInerney salivate with glee over the possibilities in the WSJ Opinion Journal, if you think you can stand to read it.

dystopia 4:29 PM - [Link]

Bring Them Home Now

US NewsWire announces a press conference scheduled for August 13 at the National Press Club to launch a campaign by military families and vets:

US military casualties from the occupation of Iraq have been more than twice the number most Americans have been led to believe because of an extraordinarily high number of accidents, suicides and other non-combat deaths in the ranks that have gone largely unreported in the media. The other underreported cost of the war for US soldiers is the number of American wounded-827, officially, since Operation Iraqi Freedom began. (Unofficial figures are in the thousands.) About half have been injured since Bush's triumphant claim on board the aircraft carrier USS Lincoln at the beginning of May that major combat was over.

The mission of the Bring them Home Now campaign is to unite the voices of military families, veterans, and GIs themselves to demanding: an end to the occupation of Iraq and other misguided military adventures and an immediate return of all US troops to their home duty stations. On August 13 in Washington, DC, Veterans and Military Families will raise concerns about current conditions in Iraq that their loved ones and other troops are facing such as the lack of planning and support troops are receiving, as well as questions about the justifications used to send troops to Iraq in the first place.

A big salute to these folks for refusing to be cowed into silence by the Pentagon. I can't wait to hear what they have to say.

dystopia 4:04 PM - [Link]

Ashcroft's Victory Tour

Little Johnny Jehosephat is a busy, busy boy. According to the NY Daily News:

Ashcroft will starting pushing the Vital Interdiction of Criminal Terrorist Organizations Act later this month in a 10-day, 20-state Victory tour that includes a stop in New York.

Lovely. I can't find a text of the damned thing posted anywhere. You do know about PATRIOT II, right? Is this the same thing with a different name?

And, from the Washington Post:

The directive, contained in a July 28 memo from Ashcroft, is the latest salvo in an escalating battle over how much discretion federal judges should have in handing down sentences in criminal cases. The more extensive reporting will lay the groundwork for the Justice Department to appeal many more of those sentencing decisions than it has...

Ashcroft's critics reacted angrily to the memo, which was first reported by the Wall Street Journal. Sen Edward M Kennedy (D-MA) accused Ashcroft of engaging in an "ongoing attack on judicial independence" and of requiring federal prosecutors "to participate in the establishment of a blacklist of judges who impose lesser sentences than those recommended by the sentencing guidelines"...

Some federal judges have spoken out forcefully against what many of them see as a congressional and Justice Department assault on their independence. US District Judge John S Martin, Jr, resigned from a federal court in Manhattan in June and accused Congress of attempting "to intimidate judges."

dystopia 3:18 PM - [Link]

Muffling the Left

Important reading from the Village Voice:

The Bush administration is actively seeking to gag or punish social service organizations that challenge the party line on such matters as health care for poor children and HIV prevention, according to a new report. Nonprofits that disagree with the president's own solutions, or go further and blame him for problems in the first place, have come to expect unpleasant consequences. Those might include audits of federal-funds spending and reviews of content, such as workshop literature.

"If you disagree with the administration on ideological grounds, they're going to come down with a hammer"...

The selective, stealthy approach of today is "unprecedented," he says. His organization had wanted to put out the alert months ago, but piecing together the scattered developments took time. "Almost every example we have here, there's a link to the Bush administration directly, not just ideologically," says Bass.

dystopia 2:56 PM - [Link]

Today in Dystopian History: August 8

1786: Congress adopted the silver dollar and the decimal system of money.

1812: The Gutierrez-Magee Expedition set out from Louisiana in a rebellion against Spanish rule in Texas.

1813: The Hamilton and the Scourge sank in Lake Ontario, victims of a freak squall.

1814: Peace negotiations in the War of 1812 began in Ghent, Belgium, with the British offering initial terms.

1854: Smith & Wesson patented metal bullet cartridges.

1863: After his defeat at Gettysburg, Gen Robert E Lee sent his letter of resignation to CSA President Davis.

1883: President Arthur met with Shoshoni chief Washakie on the Wind River reservation, the first US president to officially visit an Indian tribe.

1903: A miners' strike began in Cripple Creek, CO.

1911: The number of representatives in the House was capped at 435.

1925: The first national KKK congress was held in Washington, DC.

1942: Gen Eisenhower was appointed to command Operation Torch, the Allied invasion of North Africa.

1942: 6 German saboteurs who landed at Ponte Vedra Beach, FL, were executed by the US Army.

1947: The Tongass Timber Act created a timber-first management regime disregarding all other forest users; the Tongass National Forest is now one of the most denuded regions on the north Pacific coast.

1953: The US and South Korea initialed a mutual security pact.

1963: The Kingsmen released their version of Louie Louie, which was quickly labeled obscene.

1968: US and ARVN troops accidentally opened fire on each other near My Tho; 72 villagers were killed and 204 wounded in the crossfire.

1973: Vice-President Spiro Agnew labeled charges that he took kickbacks from government contracts as "damned lies," and vowed not to resign.

1974: President Nixon announced that he was resigning over his role in the Watergate scandal.

1980: Officials at Three Mile Island suggested that consumers share the cost of the nuclear accident.

1983: President Reagan reported the deployment of AWACS and F-15 fighter planes, along with ground support forces, to protect Chad from Libya.

1985: A bomb exploded outside the US air base near Frankfurt, Germany, killing two Americans.

1989: Space shuttle Columbia was launched on what was said to be a secret military mission.

1993: 4 US military police were killed in Somalia by a remote-detonated land mine.

1994: Cesar Chavez was posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

1996: Unocal and Turkmenistan agreed to build a $2 billion, 900-mile pipeline to carry gas through Afghanistan to markets in Pakistan.

1997: At NASA headquarters in Washington, DC, 8 protesters against the scheduled launch of the nuclear-payload space probe Cassini were arrested.

dystopia 10:25 AM - [Link]

Thursday, August 07, 2003

Questions About 507th Ambush Persist

The Army Times has an interview with former POW Shoshana Johnson's father, who is a 20-year Army veteran himself:

During the Gulf War, Claude Johnson’s unit trailed tanks and Bradley fighting vehicles testing the air for traces of chemical agents. He said weapons jammed regularly during the Gulf War and he wonders why the Army wasn’t prepared for the same problem in Iraq...other problems that haven’t been adequately addressed include why the 507th apparently had no protection from combat units, and why a checkpoint near Nasiriyah that could have directed the group away from the heavily armed city was abandoned before the entire convoy had passed through...

Stover said one of the cleaning fluids used to maintain weapons is an oil that breaks down carbon. The oil can collect sand, particularly when soldiers carry their weapons everywhere, even while crawling under vehicles.

Mechanics in the 507th were constantly trying to repair broken down vehicles and tow stuck vehicles out of deep sand...

dystopia 3:52 PM - [Link]

Letting Up On Osama

Osama who? TIME reports that many of our Special Forces teams and their Arabic speakers have been quietly shifted out of Afghanistan and into Iraq:

For nearly two years, bin Laden has been on the run in isolated parts of Afghanistan and eastern Pakistan, US officials believe, staying out of sight, relying on the help of local tribes and traveling only in very small groups of devoted followers. Last fall, as the US began planning the invasion of Iraq, Washington shifted many of its highly classified special-forces units and officers who had been hunting bin Laden in Afghanistan, moving them to Iraq, where they performed covert operations before the war began. By December many of the 800 special-forces personnel who had been chasing al-Qaeda for a year were quietly brought back home, given a few weeks' rest and then shipped out to Iraq. "They all basically picked up and moved," says a senior US official. When the A-team members left, they took a lot of their high-tech equipment (and Arabic speakers) with them. And while they were replaced by fresh troops, many of the new units comprise reservists who, rather than specializing in countering Islamic threats, were trained for operations in Russian-and Spanish-speaking countries.

The Administration was warned by skeptics inside the government that the switch-out would take some of the pressure off al-Qaeda, but the impending war with Iraq--which emphasized special forces as no war plan ever did before--took precedence over all other issues last winter at the Pentagon..."The reason these guys were able to get away," says a former Bush official, "was because we let up."

dystopia 3:35 PM - [Link]

Air Security Recruiters Lived High Life

On your dime, per the Denver Post:

He was among dozens of employees of a government contractor who lived for long stretches at some of America's poshest resorts at public expense. The contractor, NCS Pearson, eventually billed the Transportation Security Administration roughly $700 million for recruiting 60,000 airport screeners...

Two US senators who demanded the inquiries say they could expose tens of millions of wasted tax dollars, a blithering lack of public oversight and possibly even fraud.

NCS Pearson's contract was originally for $104 million, but swelled to seven times that.

dystopia 3:27 PM - [Link]

Fannie Mae's Loss Risk is Big

From the NY Times:

The former employee, who now works for a company that does not directly compete with Fannie Mae, said he had decided to publicize the documents because he was worried that Fannie Mae was becoming a risk to taxpayers and the financial system.

Because it is so large, and because many investors think that the federal government
[Ed. Note: read taxpayer dollars] will repay its bonds if the company cannot, the government could become engaged in a very expensive bailout of Fannie Mae if it mismanaged its risk, the company's critics warn. And if investors balked at buying Fannie Mae's bonds because they were concerned about the company's financial strength, mortgage rates could rise rapidly.

For years, critics of Fannie Mae have warned that it does not give them enough information to judge its risks. "I have no clue" about the company's sensitivity to interest rate moves, said Stan Jonas, managing director at Fimat USA, a bond and derivatives broker. "But no one else does either."

Scary shit, Maynard.

dystopia 3:16 PM - [Link]

Fishing Groups Seek Data on Rove Role

A little deja vu thing, with Rove and water policy instead of Cheney and energy policy, via Yahoo! News:

The request followed the disclosure that White House political adviser Karl Rove briefed dozens of political appointees at the Interior Department a year and a half ago about diverting water in the Klamath River in Oregon to help nearby farms...

Word of Rove's January 2002 briefing, which took place following a trip by President Bush and Rove to Oregon, was first reported last week by The Wall Street Journal. Rove made a second trip to Oregon before the Interior Department made its decision increasing the water flow to farms...

"The Bush Administration needs to understand that federal agencies like the Interior Department are not a division of the Republican National Committee and at their disposal to give out political favors," said Kerry.

dystopia 3:01 PM - [Link]

The Pentagon Has Some Explaining to Do

So says retired Air Force Lt Col Karen Kwiatkowski in the Houston Chronicle:

...At one time, I would have believed the administration's accusations of anti-Americanism against anyone who questioned the integrity and good faith of President Bush, Vice President Cheney or Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld.

However, while working from May 2002 through February 2003 in the office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Policy, Near East South Asia and Special Plans (USDP/NESA and SP) in the Pentagon, I observed the environment in which decisions about post-war Iraq were made.

Those observations changed everything.

What I saw was aberrant, pervasive and contrary to good order and discipline. If one is seeking the answers to why peculiar bits of "intelligence" found sanctity in a presidential speech, or why the post-Saddam occupation has been distinguished by confusion and false steps, one need look no further than the process inside the Office of the Secretary of Defense. I can identify three prevailing themes...

And so she does.

dystopia 2:52 PM - [Link]

Cheney Not Named Due to Iraq War

Yahoo! News updates us on Teflon Dick and the Halliburton shareholder suit:

Dick Cheney, US vice-president, was not named as a defendant in an accounting fraud lawsuit against Halliburton, where he was formerly chief executive, because of political sensitivities with the country at war, a lead plaintiff in the case has said...Richard Schiffrin of Schiffrin & Barroway and lead counsel in the case, "admitted that Cheney may have risk involved in this lawsuit but he was not named as a defendant because it would be inappropriate to do so in a 'time of war'"...

"Numerous clients who are class members, including US military stationed in Kuwait, find it offensive and presumptuous that any law firm would unilaterally decide to make a political decision regarding a shareholder securities fraud action," Mr Rothstein said in an interview.

dystopia 2:37 PM - [Link]

Bill Moyers on Defense Spending

I forgot to tell you that Moyers' show was especially infuriating last weekend, if you missed it, featuring interviews with John McCain and 30-year Pentagon vet Chuck Spinney on the military-industrial-congressional complex and the rape of the American taxpayer.

Here's the full transcript of the show; Spinney's website is the bookmark-worthy Defense and the National Interest.

dystopia 2:00 PM - [Link]

Today in Dystopian History: August 7

1775: American rebels boarded the British sloop Brigantine in St Augustine harbor, seizing more than 100 barrels of gunpowder.

1782: Gen Washington created the Badge of Military Merit, known as the Purple Heart, to honor soldiers wounded in battle.

1789: Congress established the War Department and the Lighthouse Service.

1794: The Whiskey Rebellion erupted over a federal excise tax on distilled spirits; tax collector's homes were burned and revenue officers were tarred and feathered.

1840: Dr Henry Perrine, a botanist, was killed by Seminoles on Indian Key, FL, after a $200 bounty had been offered for dead or captive Indians.

1854: Rumors that Catholic churches held arsenals incited a mob of axe-wielding Protestants to kill 8 Irishmen; 30 more were seriously wounded.

1882: Ellison Hatfield was stabbed and shot by 3 McCoy brothers; the Hatfields then captured and executed the 3 McCoys, starting a generations-long feud that caused about 100 deaths.

1918: The French liaison to the American Expeditionary Force issued instructions to officers and civilian authorities on handling black troops, with advice to keep their distance, to give only moderate praise, and to keep them away from French women.

1921: West Virginia miners presented the governor with a resolution calling for an end to martial law in Mingo County.

1942: The first US land offensive in the Pacific during WWII began on Guadalcanal.

1945: Japanese radio condemned the atomic bombing of Hiroshima, denouncing the US as "the destroyer of mankind" and "Public Enemy #1 of social justice."

1961: Bob Moses and the SNCC began the first voter registration school in Mississippi.

1964: Congress passed the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution; only two senators, Wayne Morse and Ernest Gruening, voted against it.

1968: Racial violence broke out in Liberty City while the Republican convention met in Miami Beach, FL.

1970: A judge and 3 others were killed in a courthouse shoot-out in San Rafael, CA; police charged black activist Angela Davis with providing the weapons.

1977: The Washington Post reported on the US government's interest in psychic research, alleging that the CIA, Navy, NASA, and other agencies supported, and uncritically accepted the findings of, parapsychology studies.

1978: President Carter declared a federal emergency at Love Canal, a 15-acre neighborhood built over a chemical landfill in Niagara Falls, NY.

1979: Enriched uranium was released from a nuclear fuel plant near Erwin, TN, exposing the local population to high levels of radiation.

1990: President Bush ordered US troops and warplanes to Saudi Arabia to guard against an Iraqi invasion.

1995: A Pennsylvania judge granted a stay of execution for Mumia Abu-Jamal, due to intense public pressure.

1998: Car bombs tore into the US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, killing 224 people and injuring 5,500.

1998: The Interior Department opened 4 million acres of the Alaska North Slope to new oil and gas leasing.

dystopia 10:43 AM - [Link]

Wednesday, August 06, 2003

Phony to the Core

A different kind of roundup on the Crawford ranch, via

Have you seen all those article and pictures of Bush "at home on the ranch" in Crawford--the ones that imply that he is "just an ole ranch hand" more comfortable on the family homestead than in the "Big City," be it Austin or DC? Well, if you bought this image, you've been royally snuckered. The Bush family homestead in Crawford is nothing more than an elaborate set. The house, built in 2000, was designed to be ready for Bush to step into--like a set awaiting an actor--during the 2000 presidential election...

The 1,600 acres on which the "ranch" sits was purchased in 1999 for an undisclosed price, but it was a helluva lot less than the current real estate agents' appraisal of $1.2 million. Yep, worth $1.2 million, but GW has a sweet deal at the tax appraiser's office, where the property is valued at about $988,000. Oh, and that "homey ole ranch house?" It's actually a 10,000-square-foot single level mansion/compound that won't even be 2 years old until this November! The compound features a swimming pool for daughters Jenna and Barbara, who apparently loudly demanded it--the Bushes call it the girls' "Whining pool." BTW--we hear Bush got a sweet deal on the house construction, (the cost, of course remains undisclosed): the builders came from a religious community in El Mott, Texas. The original completion date of the house was November 7--election day 2000. In other words, the curtain went up on the set on schedule for "show time." The very timing of this event indicates that Bush was absolutely confident that the election would be successfully engineered in his favor...

Until Bush and handlers decided that a rural ranch would be a slick bit of PR for the presidential campaign, Bush had no interest in a "home on the range." Instead, his preferred weekend retreat was to the Rainbo Club, an exclusive lakeside hunting club in Henderson County...

Remember how they used to show us all those "Ronnie on the ranch" photos throughout the '80s? He was always on horseback, playing cowboy, right? You'll never see any pictures of Dubya on a horse--he's scared to death of them.

dystopia 5:09 PM - [Link]

Payments for Perle

Hadn't heard much on Richard Perle lately, until I saw this update at The Nation:

Perle heatedly denied suggestions of impropriety regarding the broadcast payments. "There is no law, regulation or ethics guideline that would preclude my being compensated for articles, speeches or interviews," he said. "When I agreed to serve on the Defense Policy Board I agreed to its rules and I abide by them. I couldn't care less how many of your left wing friends you can quote, by name or anonymously, in support of standards of conduct that would be far more restrictive than anything in the current rules and regulations"...

Federal laws place restrictions on the behavior of SGEs like Perle. Regulations Code 5 CFR 2635.702--barring the use of public office for private gain--also warns of the "appearance of government sanction," and cautions against using public standing "in a manner that could be reasonably construed to imply that his agency or the Government sanctions or endorses his personal activities." Section 5 CFR 2635.807 bans SGEs from receiving money for speaking on matters in which the SGE "has participated or is participating personally and substantially" for the government. "Experts have to make a livelihood," a government ethics specialist explained, "but they're prohibited...if there's a nexus between public and private."

Maybe federal laws are too left-wing for guys like Perle--I dunno.

dystopia 4:50 PM - [Link]

Roadless Ruling Judge Accused of Ethics Violations

The LA Times reports:

A federal district judge in Wyoming violated ethics laws by hearing a case that stood to affect his significant financial interests in oil and gas companies, judicial and environmental watchdog groups charged Tuesday.

US District Judge Clarence Brimmer last month struck down a Clinton-era policy that banned road building on 58.5 million acres of national forest land...

Brimmer's financial disclosure report shows that as of the end of 2001, he held stock or royalty interests worth a total of $400,000 to $1.1 million in 15 oil and gas concerns. These holdings accounted for about half of his assets.

dystopia 4:31 PM - [Link]

Groups Question Contaminated Nuclear Shipment

The nuclear power industry continues to spread sunshine wherever it goes. Oh, wait, that's not sunshine--it's North Carolina glowing. The Common Dreams NewsWire reports:

The contaminated shipment likely originated at Progress Energy’s Brunswick or Robinson nuclear stations and passed through many communities en route to Shearon Harris, where the contamination was detected and reported. Radiation levels at the point of origin and during transport could have been even higher than the final measurements reported to the NRC because some radioactive materials decay quickly and could have been "hotter" at the beginning of the trip...

Currently, North Carolina is the only place in the US where high-level radioactive waste is routinely transported. However, government plans for a nuclear waste repository at Yucca Mountain, Nev--and a companion industry proposal for "interim storage" at Skull Valley, Utah--could launch unprecedented cross-country nuclear shipping in the future.

"If Progress Energy can't keep the casks clean now in its relatively small-scale shipping campaign, what assurances are there that similar contamination incidents would not be routine if tens of thousands of nuclear shipments start moving to Utah or Nevada?" asked Lisa Gue, senior energy analyst with Public Citizen, a public interest organization based in Washington, DC.

Indeed. Go check out the Nuclear Waste Route Atlas and see how close the stuff will get to you.

dystopia 4:15 PM - [Link]

US Marks Hiroshima Anniversary with Secret Summit

Via Democracy Now!:

This week marks the 58th anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima, 150 top US officials and defense contractors will quietly meet in Omaha, Nebraska to develop plans for the US to expand its nuclear arsenal.

The meeting was supposed to be top secret. The list of attendees hasn’t been released. Rumor has it that Vice President Dick Cheney will be in attendance. A man often compared to Dr Strangelove, Keith Payne will be there. There are expected to be no advocates for nuclear disarmament.

The agenda of the meeting is also unknown but observers say the attendees are expected to begin rewriting the country's nuclear policy. Calls to resume nuclear testing are expected. So are calls to build a new generation of nukes...

Includes the transcript of an interview with Greg Mello, director of the Los Alamos Study Group.

dystopia 4:02 PM - [Link]

Grand Theft America

A stunning must-see flash presentation by Eric Blumrich. Pass it on.

dystopia 3:28 PM - [Link]

Pentagon Moves to Contain Troop Complaints

According to PRWeek:

The 3rd Infantry Division, from where many complaints have arisen, has expelled many of its embedded reporters, and its troops are no longer allowed to talk to the media outside of pre-approved news features...

Soldiers' families are also being advised not to complain to the media, according to news reports...

I've been thinking lately that fragging may be a real possibility over there, if it hasn't already started.

dystopia 3:15 PM - [Link]

DOD Considers Janitor a Security Risk

Tampa Bay Online says:

In 19 years of using his security clearance to sweep floors at a plant owned by defense contractor Lockheed Martin, janitor Michael Lynch has done nothing to arouse suspicion.

Co-workers and bosses speak glowingly of Lynch, a brain-tumor survivor who's active in his church, building homes for poor people in Maine and West Virginia.

But because he and his family have struggled financially, the government now sees him as a threat to national security. Defense Department officials believe the janitor may be tempted to sell government secrets to get out of debt.

Last month, they asked a judge to revoke Lynch's security clearance...

Geez Louise. These people have got way too much time on their hands. Haven't they got any terrorists to chase?

dystopia 2:58 PM - [Link]


Oscar Wilde wrote, in The Picture of Dorian Gray:

"Perhaps, after all, America never has been discovered. I myself would say that it has merely been detected."


dystopia 1:30 PM - [Link]

Today in Dystopian History: August 6

1727: Ursuline nuns arrived at New Orleans and set up the first Catholic charitable institution in America, with an orphanage, a girl's school and a hospital.

1774: Mother Ann Lee, founder of the Shaker Movement, arrived in New York.

1801: The Great Religious Revival of the American West began at a Presbyterian camp meeting in Cane Ridge, KY.

1835: Mobs rioted against the Bank of Maryland and its directors.

1837: The Dow Jones gained 37.93 points, giving false hope of recovery from the bank-induced Panic of '37.

1855: An armed mob burned houses in the Irish quarter of Louisville, KY, and killed 20 people in the Bloody Monday Riot.

1862: The ironclad CSS Arkansas was destroyed by her crew after breaking down on its way into battle.

1890: William Kemmler was the first person to die in an electric chair, at Auburn Prison in New York.

1930: Supreme Court Justice John Force Crater vanished in NYC; he was declared dead in 1939.

1941: Japan proposed concessions in China and Indochina to the US, in exchange for ending the freeze on Japanese assets; the offer was rejected.

1942: A constitutional liberties group pressed the Justice Department for a grand jury investigation of Rep Martin Dies' relationship to the pro-Axis network in the US.

1943: In the Battle of Vela Gulf, the US sank 3 Japanese destroyers, breaking Japan's dominance on the Pacific.

1945: The Enola Gay dropped the first atomic bomb on Hiroshima, killing 140,000 people.

1957: In Nevada, 11 protesters were arrested at the atomic testing grounds.

1964: Defense Secretary McNamara and Secretary of State Rusk urged a closed Congressional committee to authorize President Johnson "to take all necessary measures" in Vietnam.

1965: President Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act.

1967: The Indian Claims Commission awarded a cash settlement to 8 Lakota tribes for 29 million acres taken by fraudulent treaties.

1969: The US Army announced that Green Beret Col Robert Rheault and 7 others were charged with murder and conspiracy in the execution of a Detachment B-57 agent; the case was dismissed for national security reasons.

1977: In Oregon, the first occupation of Trojan Nuclear Power Plant took place.

1980: A House subcommittee accused the US government of hiding the harmful effects of nuclear testing.

1980: Chrysler Chairman Lee Iacocca drove the first K-car off the assembly line.

1985: The USSR announced a unilateral moratorium on nuclear testing; the US reacted with more testing.

1990: President Bush announced that US forces were securing the US Embassy in Monrovia, and that helicopters had evacuated US citizens from Liberia.

1993: The Senate confirmed Louis Freeh as the new FBI director.

1996: Activists protested at the US Embassy in Mexico City against a nuclear waste dump near the border.

1997: Hundreds protested in Seattle at the arrival of the nuclear submarine USS Ohio on Hiroshima Day.

dystopia 10:18 AM - [Link]

Tuesday, August 05, 2003

Colombia Drug Flights to Resume

BBC News says:

Washington is expected to announce fresh surveillance flights over Colombia this week to try to stem the massive flow of drugs out of the country.

Surveillance aircraft were withdrawn two years ago after the accidental downing of a civilian plane over neighbouring Peru with the loss of two lives...

The US Senate Select Committee on Intelligence put the incident down to poor planning and judgement, and recommended its suspension...

Hmm, wonder how much that has to do with the Colombian court's ban on drug crop spraying? Gotta let those private contractors make money doing one thing or another, I suppose.

dystopia 6:11 PM - [Link]

Job Cut Announcements Up 43%

The "economic recovery" continues, via CNN Money:

US job-cut announcements jumped in July to their highest level in three months, an outplacement firm said Tuesday, another sign that the longest job-market slump since World War II continues.

US employers announced 85,117 job cuts in July, a 43 percent jump from 59,715 in June, according to Chicago-based outplacement firm Challenger Gray & Christmas, which publishes monthly tallies of job-cut announcements.

One troubling aspect of the report is that the size of the cuts ran counter to normal seasonal patterns...

dystopia 5:36 PM - [Link]

What’s Killing the Children?

Kids in Fallon, NV, are still sick and still dying, and their families still have no answers. MSNBC reports:

Anastacia and her father aren’t alone. It turns out Anastacia is just one of at least 16 children diagnosed with cancer in five years, in a rural county in Nevada, where statistically, there should be just one case. The Centers for Disease Control has identified it as a cancer cluster. So far, three children have died...

“We want every rock overturned. We want things looked at. I can’t look at my son here and say I didn’t try because I have big worries that my son here, six months old, is another child that’s going to come down with it. I’m scared,” says Jeff Braccini.

The state of Nevada says it has looked at a number of potential environmental causes: naturally occurring arsenic in the water supply, jet fuel from a nearby military base, pesticides used in local farming.

There's a comprehensive info page on the Fallon kids maintained by the Reno Gazette-Journal, which reports that a similar cancer cluster is also devastating the children of Sierra Vista, AZ; both communities have underground jet fuel pipelines running beneath them.

dystopia 5:22 PM - [Link]

The Army Cleans House

Rummy's program to restructure the armed forces more to his liking seems to be well underway, per Newsweek/MSNBC:

In a move widely seen within the Pentagon as a purge, a dozen or more Army generals are being ushered into retirement as the Army’s new chief of staff, Gen Peter Schoomaker, takes over.

In advance of Schoomaker’s swearing-in last Friday, the Army’s acting chief, Gen John Keane—who is himself retiring—spoke with a list of three- and four-star generals, thanked them for their services and told them it was time to go. Sources say Keane first contacted half a dozen names, but by the end of the week the list had reportedly grown to 11—”with more to come within 30 days,” according to one Army source. The Army has a total of 50 three- and four-star generals. A senior Pentagon civilian called the move “housecleaning”...

The list of retirees was, sources say, drawn up in discussions between Rumsfeld, Schoomaker and Keane. Most of those going are being axed not for personal failings but to open up job slots that are viewed as key to Army transformation. But Pentagon spokesman Larry DiRita said any suggestion the moves were at Rumsfeld’s behest was “utter nonsense.”

More "utter nonsense":

Rumsfeld's Next Revolution
Troops as Undercover Killers in Rumsfeld Plan
Rumsfeld's Style, Goals Strain Ties at Pentagon
Rumsfeld Requests Power to Reorganize Services

dystopia 3:51 PM - [Link]

Unreported Cost of War: At Least 827 US Wounded

Catching up on Iraq news, I found this in the Guardian:

Wounded American soldiers continue to be flown back to the US at a relentless rate, in twice-weekly transport flights to Andrews air force base near Washington.

Hospital staff are working 70- or 80-hour weeks, and the Walter Reed army hospital in Washington is so full that it has taken over beds normally reserved for cancer patients to handle the influx, according to a report on CBS television...

"Since the war has started, I can't give you an exact number because that's classified information, but I can say to you over 4,000 have stayed here at Andrews, and that number doubles when you count the people that come here to Andrews and then we send them to other places like Walter Reed and Bethesda, which are in this area also," Col DeLane told National Public Radio.

He said 90% of injuries were directly war-related.

Learned that some of the civilian contractors were no-shows in Iraq, according to Newhouse News Service. Too bad our troops didn't share the luxury of backing out:

Though conditions have improved, the problems raise new concerns about the Pentagon's growing global reliance on defense contractors for everything from laundry service to combat training and aircraft maintenance. Civilians help operate Navy Aegis cruisers and Global Hawk, the high-tech robot spy plane...

One thing became clear in Iraq. "You cannot order civilians into a war zone," said Linda K Theis, an official at the Army's Field Support Command, which oversees some civilian logistics contracts. "People can sign up to that--but they can also back out."

As a result, soldiers lived in the mud, then the heat and dust. Back home, a group of mothers organized a drive to buy and ship air conditioners to their sons. One Army captain asked a reporter to send a box of nails and screws to repair his living quarters and latrines.

Also discovered that US officials admitted to using napalm-like incendiary bombs in Iraq, per the San Diego Union-Tribune:

"We napalmed both those (bridge) approaches," said Col James Alles in a recent interview. He commanded Marine Air Group 11, based at Miramar Marine Corps Air Station, during the war. "Unfortunately, there were people there because you could see them in the (cockpit) video.

Remember that $600 million cache of gold bars the troops found in Iraq? The Toronto Star reports that all that glitters...well, you know:

Gold-coloured bars seized by US forces in Iraq appear to be melted-down shell casings made of brass, the White House said in a report obtained yesterday.

The US military announced the discovery of truckloads of gold bars in May.

One haul was estimated to be worth as much as $500 million. Another was estimated at $100 million, though the driver of the truck said the bars were actually copper...

Yep, that sounds about right.

dystopia 3:12 PM - [Link]

Bohemian Grove and the Nuclear Weapons Industry

Found this while looking for something else, but it was a pretty interesting read so I'll pass it along for your perusal.

dystopia 2:50 PM - [Link]

DARPA is Very Scary

An important reminder from Acts of Conscience that, although Poindexter may have PAMmed himself out of a job, DARPA isn't going anywhere:

Hey, you know what? It's NOT over. Folks, this Market doohickey has been in the works for a long time, and has always been available on DARPA's website--if we'd really been paying attention, we would have caught it and started raising a stink back when we were doing the same for TIA. The fact is, the one good thing about DARPA is that they have LOTS of info on their website about what they're working on, and they have about a ZILLION programs. Granted, the majority of it is technical and could be red herring-ish (to draw attention away from the *really* creepish stuff), but it can most certainly be used to look into stuff *before* it starts happening.

JeremyPuma did some homework, and provides a short summary of what he found.

dystopia 2:39 PM - [Link]

Electronic Voting Machines in the News

I've noticed the subject has been busting out all over lately, so I did a quick search and turned up even more new articles:

Electronic Voting May Pose Risks
More Calls to Vet Voting Machines
Voting Machine Concerns Prompt Changes in Plan
State, Local Officials Confident of Machine Security
Menino OK's New Voting Machines
Trustworthy Voting
Response to Diebold's Technical Analysis
The Case of the Diebold FTP Site

This was the best news of all, via Wired News:

According to Susan Marie Weber, a Palm Desert, California woman who is suing the state for sanctioning voting machines she alleges are open to manipulation, the 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco indicated this week that it plans to hear oral arguments in her case.

The suit, originally filed in 2001, charges that California's former secretary of state and election officials in Riverside County, where Weber lives, deprived citizens of constitutional rights by deploying touch-screen voting systems that do not provide a paper record of each vote...

The court's move comes as controversy over the reliability of touch-screen voting systems intensifies in political and computer science circles. Much of the interest stems from the activism of a coalition of computer scientists who have warned that touch-screen systems currently in use are vulnerable to a wide range of security breaches.

dystopia 2:14 PM - [Link]

Today in Dystopian History: August 5

1570: Spanish Jesuits arrived in Chesapeake Bay on an unsuccessful mission to convert the Indians.

1620: The Mayflower and the Speedwell set sail from Southampton, England, bound for the New World.

1656: Quakers arriving in Boston were imprisoned without trial by the Puritans, until the ships that brought them were ready to return to England.

1851: In the Treaty of Mendota, Dakota Indians ceded 2 million acres to the US, opening lands west of the Mississippi to white settlement.

1861: The US Army abolished flogging; it was abolished in all US military branches by 1862.

1864: Union Admiral David Farragut led his fleet to victory in the Battle of Mobile Bay.

1898: The War Department ordered all US troops in Cuba not suffering from yellow fever to withdraw to the US.

1912: Teddy Roosevelt's Progressive Party held its first convention.

1925: US forces, which were deployed to Nicaragua in 1912 to protect US interests, were finally withdrawn.

1933: The National Labor Board was established to enforce the right to collective bargaining, but was given no real power.

1949: During the Mann Gulch Fire, 15 Smokejumpers landed in a remote area of Montana to fight a forest fire; within 2 hours, 13 were dead or fatally burned.

1950: Explosives containing depleted uranium detonated when a B-29 crashed at Travis AFB, killing 19.

1953: Operation Big Switch, the exchange of POWs, began at Panmunjom, Korea.

1963: The US, Britain and the Soviet Union signed a treaty in Moscow banning nuclear tests in space, in the atmosphere and underwater.

1964: President Johnson ordered bombing raids in retaliation for the Gulf of Tonkin incident; 2 US planes were shot down during the attack. Lt Richard Sather went down with his plane, the first naval aviator KIA in Vietnam; Lt Everett Alvarez ejected from his plane, but was held prisoner by the NVA for the next 8 1/2 years.

1964: The bodies of 3 civil rights workers missing since June were discovered by FBI agents, buried deep inside an earthen dam near Philadelphia, MS.

1974: President Nixon admitted that he had withheld information about the Watergate break-in, and said that he expected to be impeached.

1977: A Nuclear Regulatory Commission audit could not account for 4 tons of enriched uranium.

1981: President Reagan ordered the FAA to fire 11,359 striking air traffic controllers.

1983: The unemployment rate dropped to 9.5%.

1991: An investigation was launched by Democratic congressional leaders to find out if the release of American hostages was delayed until after the 1980 presidential election.

1994: A 3-judge US Court of Appeals panel in Washington, DC, chose Kenneth Starr to take over the Whitewater investigation from Robert Fiske.

dystopia 10:21 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)