American Samizdat

Saturday, July 31, 2004. *

Maybe they thought they could judge her evildoing tendencies with their mad physiognomy skillz?

Some background on the perverse racial theories popular in the Bushist movement is in the Eugenics Archives.

Posted by Harry. Story link from Metafilter.

posted by Deleted at 11:46 AM
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Many great political cartoons for your viewing pleasure....

posted by http://lifeinthepresentlives at 9:58 AM
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Friday, July 30, 2004. *
Most probable Bush response: "Build more prisons!"
posted by Dr. Menlo at 9:55 PM
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. . . but hope is on the way, baby! (not being facetious, I think that and the following help is on the way are great phrases and tap into a deep American unease that's been building for about three and half years now about where the US is going . . . )
posted by Dr. Menlo at 9:50 PM
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Good lesson in doublespeak: 'working forest' goes down but what if they had used the oh-so Opposite Day phrase "Healthy Forests Initiative" as Bush is doing?

Speaking of, a catalog of the Bush admin saying one thing and doing the opposite would be a handy thing, don't you think? We can put it all together and truthfully allege an ongoing campaign of perhaps the most elemental step in their propaganda campaign: have a bowel movement on an old lady or child and call it "bestowing freedom," i.e. Step two would be to release said "bestowing freedom" phrase to the vast right-wing media (using the now well known phrase talking points memo), and repeat, repeat, repeat (see Goebbels). Voila: people who are not millionaires actually vote for you to make their air and water dirtier, their economic situations grimmer, and even to get their kid brutally slaughtered in a senseless war overseas.

Ain't propaganda great?
posted by Dr. Menlo at 9:32 PM
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The Bush administration yesterday made it easier for the government to approve pesticides used by farmers and homeowners, saying it no longer would require the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to first consult other federal agencies to determine whether a product could harm endangered species.

The change affects federal regulations that carry out the Endangered Species Act, a law that protects about 1,200 threatened animals and plants. [more]
posted by Dr. Menlo at 9:25 PM
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In its second report to Congress, the inspector general's office for the occupation authority that ruled Iraq until recently found significant cases of mismanagement, fraud, missing paperwork and manipulation in the awarding of contracts using millions of dollars of U.S. and Iraqi funds.

The Coalition Provisional Authority inspector general audit, to be released today, uncovered cases of abuse by officials of the occupation government. The report does not name names, but the inspector general's office said its work has resulted in 69 criminal investigations. Forty-two have been closed or sent to other investigative agencies and an additional 27 are still open. [more]


I assume these investigations target the little guys and/or designated fall guys . . . let's see Dick Cheny on that list, currently VP of the US, but concurrently serving as the Honorary President of Evil Scumbags everywhere.

Let's recap this man, shall we? (No offense to actual men out there when I call Dick a man, rest assured.) Dick voted against the Equal Rights Amendment, and "opposed sanctions against the apartheid-era South Africa in the mid-1980s along with voting against a resolution calling for the release of Nelson Mandela; voted for a constitutional amendment to ban school busing; voted against Head Start; and voted against extending the Clean Water Act in 1987.

"Mr. Cheney is still drawing a $1,000,000 per year paycheck from Halliburton while serving as the Vice President." [source]

Luckily, we have a self-proclaimed proxy for Dick currently trolling our comments section. Perhaps he can elucidate us as to why being against the Equal Rights Amendment is not anti-women, how being pro-Apartheid and anti-Mandela is not racist, and how being against Clean Water for all Americans is a good thing?
posted by Dr. Menlo at 5:30 PM
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From The Center For Democracy and Technology

The CDT, a moderate activist network concerned with civil rights, sent me this policy post http://www.cdt.org/publications/pp_10.13.shtml by email today. The gist of it is, our email privacy faces new threats.

Remedial legislation has been proposed to deal with some of the worst aspects of it, H.R. 4977 and H.R. 4956. The sponsors and co-sponsors could use your support. You can use this site http://www.house.gov/writerep/ to locate and contact your representatives and ask them to co-sponsor the legislation.

Posted by Harry.

posted by Deleted at 3:47 PM
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Does Wal-Mart employee health insurance cover that?
posted by Dr. Menlo at 11:54 AM
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Thursday, July 29, 2004. *
"In a new study of media coverage of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, a group of American college students was asked, 'Who is occupying the occupied territories, and what nationality are the settlers?' Fairly simple questions, but only 29 percent knew the correct answers. The Israelis are both the occupiers and the settlers.

"The study points out that the Americans questioned were journalism and media students and some had even done projects on the Israeli-Palestinian issue. So their answers clearly overstated the public’s level of knowledge about the Middle East." [more]

posted by Dr. Menlo at 1:05 PM
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. . . meds, the belief God is talking to you, a complete lack of compassion for anyone but your own circle of elites, the curiousity of a piece of coral . . . this is a bad combination of qualities for any man, much less the President. Is this the best America can do?
posted by Dr. Menlo at 12:19 PM
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I post this here, only because this refers back to a post which many of yu regular readers are familiar with.

Well, to start with, this post has history, or as I prefer to think of it, baggage. It's origin is a post by JBC over at lies.com, specifically: "Why You Should Vote for Bush". I posted a few comments there and the dialogue inspired me to go into greater depth in "Rick - Bush is not Hitler(.)", which included references to comments made by a_stupid_box who apparently runs the blog, I'm With Stupid.

Well, a_stupid_box apparently, - actually if you read the comments pretty damn explicitly - takes me to task for several aspects of the exchange. I was going to reply to his {I don't know a_stupid_box's gender, for ease here, I will use the masculine) comments in the comment section of "Rick - Bush is not Hitler(.)", but one of his points is:
The next time you have a problem with anything I write because you don't understand something, which you obviously didn't in this case, feel free to ask me about it. Or else at least have the gall to email me. I had to do a google search for a_stupid_box to find this.
So, I guess I will address these points specifically here, now.
posted by rick at 10:17 AM
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Despite what you're hearing from Boston this week, James Ridgeway of the Village Voice says there's little difference between the policy platforms of the Republican and Democratic parties this election year.
posted by Bill at 9:11 AM
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Bring your bodyguards, Mike. Those neocons are some crazy, violent, knuckleheaded types.
posted by Dr. Menlo at 1:59 AM
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Wednesday, July 28, 2004. *
Corporate Welfare Reform
(propagate this phrase. . . . Defeat their language-twisting with our own Clarity in Progressive Language Acceleration . . . )
posted by Dr. Menlo at 11:35 AM
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posted by Dr. Menlo at 6:20 AM
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Tuesday, July 27, 2004. *
posted by Dr. Menlo at 10:21 PM
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Department of Visionaries



When I become president (at least of a fiction novel), I will create and set up a new department: the Department of Visionaries.

So, I was watching the Democratic Convention tonite when I came up with this: how soon until the politiks hire the writers of sci-fi? Ron Reagan talks about becoming diagnosed with Parkinsons, getting some cells taken out of your arm, and then getting a cure. “The future of science,” he declared.

I don’t remember what it was that Theresa Heinz said that got me into a futuristic mood--perhaps it was her mastery of 5 languages, perhaps it was her life on another continent before being transplanted here, or maybe it was her early recollections of the birth of the civil rights movement in Africa and the subsequent jailing of Nelson Mandela (whom Dick “Go Fuck Yourself” Cheney voted against releasing from prison, which is indefensible, and one of the many questions I would like to see him asked by Edwards or anybody coming up).

But when watching Heinz and her langorous, sexily-exotic lilt, I suddenly imagined her talking about bridges of light . . . or somesuch.

Maybe it was all their talk of the future--I was craving the images to back that up, and who better to do that than our present day visionaries--also known as sci-fi writers?

So I imagined a Department of Visionaries, but immediately knew there would have to be some ground rules set up: number one, these visions will be based on imagination and science.

For it wasn’t the snakecharmer that invented air conditioning. And it wasn’t the anti-medicine sect that created the plane. And it wasn’t the bare-breasted-statue-covering-up-cult that gave us the Enlightenment.

When is it going to be politically feasible to get up in front of the American people and say that you don’t base your cosmology on ancient myths? I was thinking I would run for office if only to be the first politician who didn’t end every speech with “God Bless America.” If there is a God--which I doubt--why would he (he?) only Bless America? (As many others have rightfully pointed out?) “Our God has blessed us to drive SUVs and eat at Cow-Corpse King so starve and walk ya third world unblessed chumps!”

But back to the Department . . . who would be the architect? Perhaps the designer of this?:


Who would head it? Him?:



Who would populate it? Him?:


Him?:



And her?:


[for we need the poets, too!]



In the Department of Visionaries, everyone knows that religion is a metaphor--thus not based solely on fact. In the Department of Visionaries, there is only one race: the human race, and the betterment of everyone is widely understood to be beneficial for us all.

Etc.

Unify, coalesce and organize.

Inspire, create and enjoy.

Friends, Americans, Earthlings . . .

I’m Dr. Menlo, and I approve of this message.

Eris Bless You . . .

And Eris Bless Everyone!
posted by Dr. Menlo at 9:19 PM
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"Last night, I had my first direct experience with the so-called free speech zone. It left me with one conclusion: whatever you do, do NOT go inside. It’s not only a blatant offense to free speech, but also highly dangerous and unsafe. I would suggest protesting anywhere in Boston but inside of it.

"No amount of hyperbole can accurately describe how disastrous the interior actually is. It’s like a scene from some post-apocalyptic movie -– a futuristic, industrial detention area from a Mad Max film. You are surrounded on all sides by concrete blocks and steel fencing, with razor wire lining the perimeter. Then, there is a giant black net over the entire space."

posted by mr damon at 3:58 PM
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Some Cold War nostalgia relevant to today.

Where does your community, state and nation stand on these scales?
posted by Bill at 10:34 AM
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(This is so stupid, I had to post it)

BEIJING (Reuters) - Iraq's footballers have brought a ray of hope to their war-ravaged country with their amazing run to the Asian Cup quarter-finals.

Simply qualifying for the tournament had been traumatic enough for Iraq, forced to play their qualifying games in neutral Jordan and share a training pitch with grazing sheep in Baghdad.

To add insult to injury, German coach Bernd Stange quit before the Asian Cup, saying he feared for his life amid the escalating violence in the country.

But cash-strapped Iraq have made a mockery of their problems, beating Saudi Arabia 2-1 in Chengdu on Monday to set up a quarter-final clash with hosts China.



posted by Hanan Cohen at 7:05 AM
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Monday, July 26, 2004. *


I can't do it. I can't force myself to watch the coverage of this farce. Worse, it's on every channel except the one - CNBC, and they have McEnroe on.

So, I'd Send DAVE.
posted by rick at 8:01 PM
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1. A term first coined by security technologist Bruce Schneier in his book 'Beyond Fear' to describe what generally passes for 'security' these days -- namely, presenting the appearance and reassuring illusion of security (or improved security) despite however ineffective such postures might seem to those who know what real security is all about. 2. A favored approach to security by the United States government, even after September 11.
posted by mr damon at 4:21 PM
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Pics from inside the Democratic free speech concentration camp.
posted by New World at 2:21 PM
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Key 23, a new occulture group blog from Mad Ghoul, Sauceruney, Wes, Mindwarp, LVX23 and me, launched today. From Michael's history of the project:


What is Key 23? Key 23 comes from author Grant Morrison’s The Invisibles graphic novel. Originally termed Key 17, and then remonikered with the 23 later in the series, Key 23 is a chemical substance that forces the person under it’s influence to confuse words with the concepts that they represent, ultimately leading to a blurry line between reality and the written word.

That is our attempt here: to blur consensus reality with the concepts and ideas that you’ll be reading about… and we’ve assembled a team like no other to accomplish this task.

posted by Klintron at 9:10 AM
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posted by Dr. Menlo at 6:45 AM
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The journalist that said, "There's a lot of confusion. It doesn't seem like anyone knows what's going on." has said something very revealing and quite accurate. It is also something that I have been saying now for weeks prior to the convention.

The FBI warnings about an unconfirmed threat targeting the media was bogus, and was just a way to get the media to shut-up about, to stop complaining about, and stop reporting on, the weak security at the convention. Essentially the government is trying to convince them that they could save their own butts by being silent. Sadly, by journalists being cowed into not reporting on the problems with bad security, they are allowing the government to get away with ridiculously poor security, which in turn is actually increasing the threat to the journalists' safety.

The "emergency call" in Hyde Park cited [in the article linked above] was bogus, and is a well known tactic used by law enforcement when they want to search someone/something but lack a proper search warrant, or probable cause. Simply put, an "anonymous person" (usually another cop) calls in an emergency to 911, the police show up and, under the guise of "the emergency," try to enter the premises. When and if the "victims" refuse to admit the police they forcibly enter (often with guns drawn) and search the premises in violation of the law.
posted by mr damon at 12:17 AM
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Amid new reports of abuses by U.S. soldiers of Iraqi and other detainees, a major survey of U.S. public attitudes shows strong opposition to torture and many of the other more-coercive methods that were authorized under some circumstances by Pentagon chief Donald Rumsfeld and used against prisoners held by U.S. forces.

The survey, conducted by the University of Maryland's Program on International Policy Attitudes (PIPA), found that 66 percent of the U.S. believe that "governments should never use physical torture" and that 60 percent believe that all captured individuals should have the right to appeal their status to a neutral judge, even if they are not conventional soldiers as defined by the Geneva Conventions.

from OneWorld
posted by mr damon at 12:05 AM
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Sunday, July 25, 2004. *


THIS BLOG IS FOR ENTERTAINMENT PURPOSES ONLY

The previous post was going to be my last, but I went for a three hour walk, and besides picking up some serious blisters, I found some inspiration.

I'm hoping all of you will join me in the EIB Network. The Excellence In Blogging Network (which if it is not already trade marked, consider it so) is a group of bloggers that has learned from the master himself - Rush Limp-Bowel.

What do I mean? Well, Rush didn't wait for the investigation to be completed before he started to accuse the Clintons of having Foster killed, and Trade Sec. Brown's plane shot down, so why should I/we wait for the investigation to be completed before we establish Baby Bush as a Child Torturer? I mean he was in Iraq for Thanks Giving, how do we know he didn't visit Abu Ghraib and torture a few children of his own? There's no proof he didn't, so I figure it most be true.

Don't give me that - absence of proof does not mean absence of guilt. Rush wouldn't stand for it!!

Why should we?

So, this week the media will be paying attention to the blogosphere. It is an opportunity. An opportunity to establish blogging as an effective forum for political activism by establishing the meme that the republican party is the party of death and torture! So tomorrow, I will spend a couple of hours posting, or until I'm banned, at the blogs the media has chosen to cover posting comments such as:

Republicans - THE Party of Death and Torture

Vote for George W. Bush - Tough enough to torture children

Democrats - Too Weak to Torture Kids

John Kerry - Can't stomach torturing children in front of their mothers

Vote Republican in November - The Only Party To Promote Sexual Abuse As Policy
While I'm sure many of you are creative enough to come up with your own slogans, feel free to cut and paste from the list above if you so desire.

Ah, you ask, "How can I join the EIB Network?" "Simple," says I. All you have to do, is include one of the slogans above, or something of your own creation, on your blog masthead. If every blog from the center to left of center will do so, I hoping it will be impossible for the media to ignore it.

So, please join me in trying to establish Baby Bush as a Baby Torturer. Besides it will be fun.

Oh, and again, learning from Rush, remember to add this disclaimer to your blog and any comments you post - THIS BLOG IS FOR ENTERTAINMENT PURPOSES ONLY

Turns out you can slander anyone as long as you call it "entertainment". America is still a wonderful country.

I'm beginning to feel the joy that comes with activism.


THIS BLOG IS FOR ENTERTAINMENT PURPOSES ONLY
posted by rick at 2:27 PM
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Big Pharma's Big Lies Harm Children

Janssen Pharmaceutica Products LP sent a two-page letter to health care professionals to clarify the risks of Risperdal, Carol Goodrich, a spokeswoman for the Johnson & Johnson subsidiary, said on Saturday.


"The drug, which is prescribed to more than 10 million people worldwide, was cited in a federal lawsuit filed earlier this month by a doctor who contends that children have been harmed and even killed by the misuse of drugs that he blames on the aggressive marketing by drug manufacturers."
posted by Deleted at 2:34 AM
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No Basis For Right Wing Hysteria

Official denies nuclear arms found in Iraq.

And. . .

The source said the air marshals on the flight were partially concerned Jacobsen’s actions could have been an effort by terrorists or attackers to create a disturbance on the plane to force the agents to identify themselves.

In response to the news, supporters of the Bush administration flooded media outlets with mea culpas and promised a "new humility" for the "New American Century". An anonymous spokesman for the right wing hysterics, identifying himself as "CheneyWasWrong", announced his decision to donate to the ACLU and MoveOn. "I was foolish to believe all that stuff", he said, "and now I want to help heal the country".

News links via Follow Me Here. . .

posted by Deleted at 1:47 AM
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Saturday, July 24, 2004. *
Child Rape Yes, Magic Cookie No
Senator John Kerry is a pro-choice candidate. For that reason, Catholic bishops such as Robert Vasa say they would deny communion to Kerry if he were to ask them for it. Why would Bishop Vasa deny communion to Kerry? Because he was ordered to do so by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, who in turn was acting on orders from the Vatican. Ratzinger, now there's a name that's hard to forget... where have I heard that name before... oh yes, he was the one who confirmed that as recently as 2001 the Vatican order titled Crimine Solicitaciones was still in effect. The Crimine Solicitaciones, personally approved by the Pope in 1962, made it Roman Catholic policy to cover up child abuse among the clergy by moving them to different parishes. As rotten as this is for the abused and those who trusted the clergy, don't think for a minute that it is the religionists who will pick up the tab for their crimes. Bishop Vasa works his trade in Oregon, where a parish has just declared bankruptcy (miraculously, this will prevent any further child abuse claims showing up in court and get them out of paying anything further). Seven thousand native Canadians were abused by clergy, and the government (ie taxpayers) paid the fines. The government of Ireland (ie taxpayers) shelled out billions to pay the fines for abuse that the religionists said they couldn't pay.

So there seems to be a pattern here: ass rape all the little boys you want all over the world, get Uncle Sam (or somebody else, any body else) to pay the fines, don't pay taxes and keep all the magic cookies for yourself. Praise the Lord!
posted by Trevor Blake at 4:13 PM
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The President of the United States has once again claimed that he is the messenger of God. When you've got God on your side, you can do anything and anything you do is right - and any criticism is a criticism of God, now isn't it? Little wonder that clergy across the US feel like with their boy in office they can do anything they want, including risk their own tax exempt status, openly, because they have God on their side. They even deny the magic cookie to politicians who don't fall in line. What is this religion business good for anyway? Canada had to ammend its hate speech laws to accodate religious hate speech, and England may do the same (see here and here and here and here and here and here and here for why). It's a tough call to say whether the politicians are using religion or religion is using politics - probably some of both - but while we may be stuck with government for a while there's no reason to not keep chipping away at the ossified corpse of religion with the tools of reason and compassion.
posted by Trevor Blake at 8:05 AM
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Friday, July 23, 2004. *
move your ass to the left. please!
posted by mr damon at 8:52 PM
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On job training and the economy
Wow. What I meant to be just a quick response ended up being a rant.

I have mixed feelings about thisAlterNet excerpt from Jim Hightower's new book

Hightower emphasizes that the largest number of job gains between now and 2010 are in unskilled, low paying fields. He doesn't note that most of the jobs lost to date, and most of the jobs that will be lost during the same period are also low skilled jobs.

This is one of the major problems: people are coming out of relatively high paying but low skill jobs to low paying low skill jobs.

This problem is compounded by the wage drop due to wages increasing at a slower pace than inflation.

This is a big problem, and it's leading to new labor unions. And part of the solution will most likely involve higher minimum wages.

What irks me is that Hightower implies that job training won't be important, especially since as far as Hightower's concerned, the economy's problem is the lack of high tech jobs. In the excerpt Hightower cites the BLS' 30 Occupations Adding the Most Jobs by 2010 report. Perhaps Tower is working from a different list from the one I found, but the list I found has registered nurses, postsecondary teachers, retail salespersons, and customer service representatives above "Combined food preparation and serving workers, including fast food." At any rate, he's right that over 2/3 the jobs on the list require minimal skills. [update: I think I must be looking at a different one from him, because the one I'm looking at goes to 2012 not 2010]

But he ignores the fastest growing jobs. More than 2/3s of the jobs on this list require specialized training. Almost all of them are in technology, health care, or education. And, depending how you count, about 2/3s of them can't be offshored. At least one of these jobs, nursing, is already surfering from major shortages. So, the problems: people need to be able to afford to take the time off to train or re-train for these positions, pay for the training when necessary, people need to be motivated to re-train rather than wait around for jobs that will never come back, and there needs to be funding for the jobs once people are trained. So there needs to be money for health care, education, and social service programs. This money can come from taxes on corporations who off-shore mass amounts of employment services.

One thing that needs to happen is that public education needs to better prepare students for a constantly changing labor market. Remember, public education was designed to prepare an elite group of students for college and the rest for factory work (President Woodrow Wilson: "We want one class to have a liberal education. We want another class, a very much larger class of necessity, to forego the privilege of a liberal education and fit themselves to perform specific difficult manual tasks."). Schools seem to set people up for failure. The school system does not provide students with the confidence and basic learning skills to adapt to changing demands. Even the "go to college" mantra repeated in high schools is detrimental: it gives students the idea that all they have to do is go to college and everything will be fine, and it damages the confidence of students who don't go to college or think they aren't smart enough.

Welfare and social services don't do any better with adults, and college and universities could be greatly improved to enhance students ability to cope with the job market.

Anyway, I could ramble more about this, but I don't have time. I'd also like to talk about starting new businesses and stuff. Some other time, I guess.
posted by Klintron at 3:13 PM
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I wandered over to The Daily Show with Jon Stewart via The Blogging of the President: 2004, and it reminded me of a couple of quotes that I had included in a previous paper, A look at some of the costs of secrecytoday, and now appear to be even more relevant:
"A national security system was in place, and would thereafter be on the defensive more than otherwise. It became easy to argue that the Government was hiding something. Conspiracy theories emerged to explain misfortune or predict disaster. There is nothing novel in the appearance of conspiratorial fantasies, but it could be argued that it is something new for large portions of the American public to believe that agencies designed to protect them are, in fact, endangering them."
Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan, Report of the Commission on Protecting and Reducing Government Secrecy, 1997 (SENATE DOCUMENT 105-2 PURSUANT TO PUBLIC LAW 236, 103RD CONGRESS).

One of the most intersting points I found in the Reportwas that it also looked at the broader intelligence community distributed among various departments and agencies, the related contractor organizations and a large host of university and research institutions as a large information economy. In this light, the report views secrecy and the classification system as a set of regulations, and provides insight into how the system distorts the information economy. Of course, much of this must rely on extrapolation from the data available, as this regulatory system self regulates itself into intentional/unintentional levels of obscurity. The report states that secrecy is the ultimate mode of regulation; leaving citizens unaware that they are being regulated. Regulations of the normal nature inform a citizen about his required behavior and are therefore disseminated to inform the citizen. In contrast, secrecy regulates what knowledge a citizen may have, but does not let him know what he legally may not know.As Sen. Moynihanstated in the Chairman’s Forward
Even so, “overregulation” is a continuing theme in American public life, as in most modern administrative states. Secrecy would be such an issue, save that secrecy is secret. Make no mistake, however. It is a parallel regulatory regime with a far greater potential for damage if it malfunctions.
Ah, so what you ask?

Well, there's this from Evan Thomas, Gaining Access to CIA's Records, Studies in Intelligence, Volume 39 Number 5, 1996:
"Polls show that nearly 80 percent of Americans believe JFK died as a result of a conspiracy, and about half believe the CIA was somehow involved. Whatever remains in the CIA files cannot be nearly as awful as the American public imagines. To be sure, I hardly saw everything there was to see, but I got not even a whiff of dirty tricks that had somehow remained hidden from Church Committee investigators or the army of historians and authors who write about the CIA. I really believe that it would be in the Agency's interest to let historians see for themselves what remains classified. I do not see why the Agency does not declassify almost any secret that is more than 30 years old."
The question now seems even more relevant, "Why the Agency does not declassify almost any secret that is now more than 40 years old?"

Continue you reading Used cars and the CIA
posted by rick at 6:18 AM
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"After launching two wars, President Bush said on Tuesday he wanted to be a 'peace president' and took swipes at his Democratic rivals for being lawyers and weak on defense."
posted by mr damon at 12:51 AM
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Thursday, July 22, 2004. *


I should first point out that I'm a huge fan of jbc's over at
lies.com. In fact, it was his blog that got me interested in blogging, and is still one the first places I go.

However, here recently, this past Sunday to be specific, he posted this piece: Why You Should Vote for Bush which opens with:
This should more-properly be titled 'Why I should vote for Bush,' it being my good-faith effort to convince myself that I should do just that.

Why am I doing such a thing? I guess because I want to make sure I'm considering the question as objectively as I can, divorced as much as possible from my preconceptions. Also, I'm interested in how the arguments I would make to myself differ from the arguments that are made to those actually likely to vote for him.'
And he concludes with:
So that's it. Those are all the reasons I've been able to think of that seem like good reasons to me to vote for George Bush. I've done my best to present them fairly and honestly. They're not strawmen (though Bush opponents are welcome to knock them down, should they wish to). After considering all those reasons as objectively as I can, am I willing to vote for Bush?

I don't know. Probably not. But I'm going to do my best to keep an open mind going forward. I probably won't make my final decision until election day.
Which for some strange reason, it has grated on me."

For the post in it's entirety.
posted by rick at 6:01 PM
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Working for Change One Registration At A Time
(Crossposted to Warblogger Watch)

I haven't posted here in a while because, like other commentators I suspect, I have more important things to do than critique the obvious failings of the worst intellectuals of our time. And I don't miss the clueless often nameless Aussie commentators ("'ealth care is free in Amurica by crikey...you scum!") who defend them. In fact, after the Dean debacle, I decided to get away from the keyboard and do something hard and difficult for political change in America.

I've joined the Vast Left-Wing Conspiracy, which consists of the NAACP/ACORN/ACT/MOVE On and a dozen other groups and I register voters door to door and on busy streets when I get a spare moment. I do it six days a week. I left my job selling Dell computers to do this. And if you're wondering about what's wrong with the American economy, I make more money working for the non profit.    I actually wrote about
this in my newest column for Better Humans. Excerpted here:    

Today, I'm back at it in Pittsburgh, knocking on doors and asking people if they're registered to vote. You might ask yourself what this has to do with the transhumanist dream, where we live out our lives in fusion-driven Betterhumans space habitats, whiling away our several century lifespan seeking to understand every allusion and reference in the works of Joyce or Alan Moore, or actively partaking in the terraforming of Venus or Titan, or even studying up on that hot new personal genomic cosmetic item, the black rhino horn, grown wherever you like, with accessories.
 
The answer is that unless transhumanists think seriously about politics and self-promotion, this vision will always remain an interesting dream and not a reality. In fact, not only will you have to work for such a future—a future with real self-determination, no wage slavery and more than a vote every two or four years when all the real issues have already been settled—you will have to fight for it. And most likely, your opposition will be violently stupid people who refuse to give up what Carl Sagan described as the "demon-haunted world" and the obligatory yet soothing bliss stations—an eternity with Jesus and departed loved ones or Allah's 40 virgins—that go along with it.  


 

I might note that this is the most evil administration that I've ever lived under.  Or as Bob Harris so eruditely put it over at Tom Tomorrow: "Yes, I do believe that Team Chimpy is likely to exploit any possibility of postponing our elections in one way or another. My opinion only, but it seems delusional to imagine they wouldn't, given the laundry list of the unimaginable we already know they're perfectly happy to do: muscle into power, steal multiple entire Congressional districts by redistricting, expose our own intelligence people for political gain, start an entire war based on obvious lies, endanger our safety by subordinating the fight against Al-Qaeda, treat our own wounded troops as pariahs, claim the right to imprison indefinitely at the president's whim, rationalize torture, try to time the arrest of Bin Laden to sabotage the Democrats, and build their entire freakin' convention around the shameless exploitation of a mass murder. I can't think of a single damned thing that these people won't try to spin and twist and distort into a political advantage. Right this very minute, it's an uphill fight to make sure the voting machines themselves aren't simply hijacked. And you know perfectly well which side Chimpy is on. If you truly imagine there's a line they won't cross if they can, you're not paying attention. This is not about democracy for them. It never has been. As Molly Ivins put it so well: They wish not to govern, but to rule.  

These are guys who not only stole the election once, but would ineptly try again, get busted, and then act as if nothing is wrong. Even "reasonable" liberal commentators are outraged. It's about the war, but it's also beyond that, a clear strong choice between pure evil and shades of patrician gray. I'll take the gray.


posted by Philip Shropshire at 11:23 AM
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RU Sirius Interviewed by Changesurfer Radio
First, a bit of thanks to Doc Menlo for mentioning my interview with RU Sirius over at Better Humans.  Luckily, I'm a pervert, and I'm always looking at Sensual Liberation Army for my latest masturba-, uh, "intelligent" reading. (Nice touch with you adding the politics to the sex. Note to self: Immediately steal this idea, porn + politics = Gold...)  

James Hughes, the guy behind the great Changesurfer Radio show, also interviews RU Sirius right here. It's in two parts so scroll and download appropriately. Actually, if you haven't heard Changesurfer, you might want to check out all of the recent shows.

And last but not least, there's a new issue or RU's Neofiles that just came out. It features interviews with main extroprian guy Max Moore, and other goodies.
posted by Philip Shropshire at 2:33 AM
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Wednesday, July 21, 2004. *
Haven't seen this film, but a friend of mine recommends it highly. Here's a synopsis:
Hijacking Catastrophe: 9/11, Fear & the Selling of American Empire examines how a radical fringe of the Republican Party used the trauma of the 9/11 terror attacks to advance a pre-existing agenda to radically transform American foreign policy while rolling back civil liberties and social programs at home.

The documentary places the Bush Administration's false justifications for war in Iraq within the larger context of a two-decade struggle by neoconservatives to dramatically increase military spending in the wake of the Cold War, and to expand American power globally by means of military force.

At the same time, the documentary argues that the Bush Administration has sold this radical and controversial plan for aggressive American military intervention by deliberately manipulating intelligence, political imagery, and the fears of the American people after 9/11.

Narrated by Julian Bond, Hijacking Catastrophe features interviews with more than twenty prominent political observers, including Pentagon whistleblower Lt. Colonel Karen Kwiatkowski, who witnessed first-hand how the Bush Administration set up a sophisticated propaganda operation to link the anxieties generated by 9/11 to a pre-existing foreign policy agenda that included a preemptive war on Iraq.

Joining Kwiatkowski in a wide-ranging, accessible, and ultimately empowering analysis are former Chief UN Weapons Inspector Scott Ritter, former Pentagon analyst Daniel Ellsberg, Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Jody Williams, Pulitzer Prize-winning author Norman Mailer, MIT professor Noam Chomsky, Code Pink founder Medea Benjamin, defense policy analyst William Hartung, author Chalmers Johnson, Army Special Forces Master Sergeant Stan Goff (Ret.).

At its core, the film places the deceptions of the Bush Administration within the larger frame of questions seldom posed in the mainstream: What, exactly, is the agenda that drove the administration's pre-war deceptions? How is 9/11 being used to sell this agenda? And what are the stakes for America, Americans, and the world if this agenda succeeds in being fully implemented during a second Bush term? [more]
And here's the trailer.
posted by Bill at 9:43 PM
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We now know that the public was misled over Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction. But have we also been misled over the even more emotive issue of Iraq's mass graves. [more]
Presumably, we're talking about those "bad" mass graves, not the "good" ones...
posted by Bill at 7:47 PM
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...which I linked to while reading through this Cryptome piece on the seemingly shoddy security measures in place (a few days ago) around The Fleet Center.
posted by mr damon at 6:18 PM
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Harper's Enron Timeline

http://www.harpers.org/Enron.html

Plenty of other useful information for activists at Harper's online, as well as some fascinating articles for history buffs.

posted by Deleted at 4:28 PM
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Dick's The Ticket
It's time for me to put an end to all the "will Bush dump Cheney from the GOP ticket" speculation:

Dick's The Ticket
By Madeleine Begun Kane

Dick Cheney's Halliburton teamed
With evil axis, mad regimes,
To make big bucks while Dick was CEO.

Now Cheney lies and feigns and schemes,
With haughty self-regard extreme.
His pompous air and bluster's quite the pose.

The rest of Dick's" The Ticket is here.

posted by Mad Kane at 12:59 PM
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A total of 43 Israeli soldiers took their own lives last year compared to 30 soldiers killed in intifada-related hostilities, said the report.

This represents a 30% increase in the number of suicides over the 2002 figure of 31.

Additionally, in 2003, 32 Israeli soldiers died of various illnesses, 27 were killed in traffic accidents or during vacation and 10 died in traffic accidents while on duty.
posted by A.Q. at 10:54 AM
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[Reader's Digest Hyper-Abridged Summary (American Samizdat Mix)]


I'm something an American rightwing pundit or politician once said or wrote.


I'm an excerpt from an important book some social scientist or historian wrote.



You get to draw your own conclusions.
posted by Inspector Lohmann at 5:54 AM
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On the morning of September 15, 1997, five hundred American paratroopers from the army's 82nd Airborne Division jumped into an arid battle zone near the Tien Shan mountains in southern Kazakhstan. Their assigned mission: to link up with friendly forces from Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Uzbekistan and engage in simulated combat against "renegade forces" opposed to a regional peace agreement.


It's pretty simple. As long as demand is strong enough, the United States will be undermining governments, fighting wars and rendering assistance to morally bankrupt elites. The selfish assholes in their SUVs and McMansions can yell about hippies and black bloc anarchists all they want. It won't change the fact that responsibility for human rights abuses and constant war lies right at their doors.
posted by Deleted at 3:57 AM
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Tuesday, July 20, 2004. *


As you may already know, one of America's two political parties is extremely religious. Sixty-one percent of this party's voters say they pray daily or more often. An astounding 92 percent of them believe in life after death. And there's a hard-core subgroup in this party of super-religious Christian zealots. Very conservative on gay marriage, half of the members of this subgroup believe Bush uses too little religious rhetoric, and 51 percent of them believe God gave Israel to the Jews and that its existence fulfills the prophecy about the second coming of Jesus.

Liberals could read these statistics and sneer about "those silly Republicans" were it not for the fact that it's the Democrats who hold these beliefs. And the abovementioned ultrareligious subgroup is not the so-called "Religious Right" but rather the so-called "African-Americans."


Really, I think this just goes to show how easy it should be to sell the religious on the Democratic Party.

Via Mindwarp
posted by Klintron at 8:17 PM
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Good stuff via New World Disorder:

People at universities have formed groups and done a few weird things, like confronting David Horowitz, the right wing provocateur. Students all over the country tend to confront him and interrupt his talks, which gives him the edge, because he can claim the banner of free speech and so forth. So some people associated with the Revolution Party at Miami University, instead of doing that, celebrated his right to free speech, and carried on in a way that would subvert his message by seeming to support it. It kind of blew his circuits.

[...]

I'm sure there's plenty of fun to be had for people who want to pretend to be Bush supporters. If you want to show up at places where Bush is speaking, and carry signs that don't quite give you away, so that they let you into the area where other people are carrying signs, signs that seem pro-Bush but subvert the message - something that will create an element of doubt in people who happen to see your sign broadcast on TV, that kind of thing. So, I think infiltration is probably the best technique for having some fun with this election. Actually, there is going to be a yippie presence at the Republican Convention in New York in August.
posted by Klintron at 8:08 PM
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“Are you all right with that?” Gore fumes, “With the president saying that mercury shouldn’t be treated as a hazardous air pollutant?” The audience responds with a resounding No. “Are you all right with that—the country’s worst polluters getting off the hook while you and I pay? Are you all right with that—the EPA being stripped of its ability to protect our air and water?” More No’s abound. “These are not small shifts in policy,” Gore continues, buoyed by the crowd, “They are radical changes that reverse a century of American policy designed to protect our natural resources!” The crowd stands to deliver furious applause. [more]

More mercury in the air . . . so hipublican, man! Yea!
posted by Dr. Menlo at 7:01 PM
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"Malpractice costs are a fraction of 1 percent of all health-care costs. By contrast, prescription drugs are 16 percent of health costs. If Mr. Cheney and the Bush Administration wanted to lower health care costs, they would have permitted the government to bulk purchase prescription drugs for Medicare recipients. Limiting what innocent victims collect from wrongdoers cannot have an impact on health care premiums. Only curbing the greed of the insurance and pharmaceutical industries can make a real difference, but those industries are among biggest campaign donors on the hill." [more]
posted by Dr. Menlo at 6:55 PM
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Think on this.
"I trace the current outbreak of droidlike conformity to the immediate aftermath of 9/11, when groupthink became the official substitute for patriotism, and we began to run out of surfaces for affixing American flags. Bill Maher lost his job for pointing out that, whatever else they were, the 9/11 terrorists weren't cowards, prompting Ari Fleischer to warn (though he has since backed down) that Americans 'need to watch what they say.' Never mind that Sun Tzu says, somewhere in his oeuvre, that while it's soothing to underestimate the enemy, it's often fatal, too...

"Societies throughout history have recognized the hazards of groupthink and made arrangements to guard against it. The shaman, the wise woman and similar figures all represent institutionalized outlets for alternative points of view. In the European carnival tradition, a 'king of fools' was permitted to mock the authorities, at least for a day or two. In some cultures, people resorted to vision quests or hallucinogens -- anything to get out of the box. Because, while the capacity for groupthink is an endearing part of our legacy as social animals, it's also a common precondition for self-destruction."

Barbara Ehrenreich, "All Together Now"

so speaketh the the magpie
posted by mr damon at 4:52 PM
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Ohio Voter Purge --by Steven Monroe:
I noticed that one of the most critical counties in President [sic] Bush's re-[s]election efforts in Ohio, Hamilton County (Cincinnati), had a dramatic decrease in the voter rolls. It went from over 585,000 in 2000 to 519,048 today. I sent an email to the elections board in Hamilton County and received the following explanation for the decrease.

Note that over 105,000 voters were purged because they had not voted in 4 years, including 2 federal election cycles.

In 2000, 11,651 registrations were canceled because of move out of the county, death or felony conviction.

In 2001, 22,157 registrations were canceled because of move out of the county, death or felony conviction. 70,804 registrations were canceled because of inactivity (not voting in four years including two federal elections).

In 2002, 19,126 registrations were canceled because of move out of the county, death or felony conviction. 949 registrations were canceled because of inactivity.

In 2003, 12,525 registrations were canceled because of move out of the county, death or felony conviction. 35,824 registrations were canceled because of inactivity.

In 2004, 4,560 registrations were canceled because of move out of the county, death or felony conviction (as of June 30).


Something our otherwise astute friend seems to have missed, from the Department of Justice website:
The NVRA places limitations on removal of voters from registration lists, specifically prohibiting purges for not voting, and allows voters to be removed from the registration rolls only at their request, because of criminal convictions, death or mental incapacity, or due to a change of address (provided that particular safeguards are followed). The NVRA also provides additional safeguards under which registered voters would be able to vote notwithstanding minor technical problems (voters who move within a district or a precinct will retain the right to vote even if they have not re-registered at their new address).


Not only is this voter purge questionable, it seems to be pretty damned illegal, too.
posted by Chris Joseph at 4:11 PM
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As a quick-thinking senatorial aide switched on the Senate's public-address system and cued up the infamous "Seven Minutes of Funk" break, Mr. Leahy and Mr. Cheney went head-to-head in what can only be described as a "take no prisoners" freestyle rap battle.

Most of the rhymes kicked therein cannot be quoted in a family publication, but observers gave Mr. Cheney credit for his deceptively laid-back flow. Mr. Leahy was applauded for managing to rhyme the phrases "unethical for certain," "crude oil spurtin'," and "like Halliburton."
posted by mr damon at 11:53 AM
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"The biggest choice I face today, is do I want to have a say in who my US senator is, or my congressional rep and local county officials will be, or stick to principal and take the independent ballot.

If I stick to principal and take an independent ballot today, I pretty much give up my voice in the political system."

For an explanation, see this.
posted by rick at 9:12 AM
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The Invisible Monster that Lives in the Sky
The United States is a nation secular by default. But that doesn't stop people on either side of the wall of separation between state and superstition from trying to tunnel through to each other. The First District Court of Appeal in Florida takes an average of ten months to resolve an appeal, with only six out of 3,500 appeals more than six months old. But strangely, the challenge to Florida's voucher law (which provides public funds to religious organizations) was filed in August 2002 and the appeal is still pending. And while the Reverend Jerry Fallwell continues to enjoy the tax-exempt status of the organizations he leads, he does not feel compelled to refrain from partisan endorsement of President George Bush - in direct violation of the laws governing tax-exempt organizations. Whether it be a friendly court providing a wink and a nod to the faithful, or a religious group assuming political power, the threats to this secular nation are grave. Is it perhaps time to at last use our reason and our laughter to chase away these tellers of ghost stories? Or do we need more airplanes flown into buildings, more Presidents lead by providence, before we can stand up to religion?

H. L. Menkin, in his coverage of the Scopes monkey trial, wrote: "True enough, even a superstitious man has certain inalienable rights. He has a right to harbor and indulge his imbecilities as long as he pleases, provided only he does not try to inflict them upon other men by force. He has a right to argue for them as eloquently as he can, in season and out of season. He has a right to teach them to his children. But certainly he has no right to be protected against the free criticism of those who do not hold them. He has no right to demand that they be treated as sacred. He has no right to preach them without challenge. Did Darrow, in the course of his dreadful bombardment of Bryan, drop a few shells, incidentally, into measurably cleaner camps? Then let the garrisons of those camps look to their defenses. They are free to shoot back. But they can't disarm their enemy."
posted by Trevor Blake at 8:19 AM
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. . . can they really be this stupid?
posted by Dr. Menlo at 7:57 AM
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"'I know in my heart what the truth is,' Smith says. 'Taser hasn't killed any of these people.'"


Who needs coroner's reports when you know in your heart what the truth is? Sound familiar?
posted by Chris Joseph at 7:28 AM
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Scattered thoughts from a scattered brain . . .

So Iran's the one, now, huh? Betcha Wolfowitz is bloody drooling all over his damn se'f. Baghdad is bad, but Teheran gonna be unimaginable . . . nuke's 'n' all . . .

"Grrrly boys", eh, Awnuld?? Fuck you . . .

Are people in communities around military bases in the US at all  prepared for what's gonna happen when (if?) thousands of battle-whacked boys and girls come back home? . . .

Come what may in November, we're gonna be VERY sorry we didn't stick with Howard Dean. And I'm pissed! I'm pissed at him  for rolling up the show when it got bumpy; and pissed at myself for succumbing so early to the DNC's crap-'n'-flush . . .

If imperial war is the most evident generator of "terrorism", isn't making "war on terrorism" just about the most . . . aahhhhhfuggedaboudit . . .

This makes me dizzy: when it comes right down to it, in the post-capitalist world, wars are fought mainly because there's profit in it. Billions/trillions are passing from the common people through the "government" cash converter into the pockets of the warmakers so they may make their wars to make profit by protecting their profit. This is not "free-market" capitalism, because all the killing and destruction make less  markets, not more. So . . .how do we make peace more profitable than war?

_________________________________
There's still time (about 24 hours) to enter the ddjangoWIrE ChALLenGe for this week. Don't miss it!!!

. . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Be at peace
posted by total at 7:13 AM
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Remembering Carlo Giuliani
Nothing is ever fixed. The fragile freedom conquered last century is a butterfly: so delicate and prone to flutter away.

Three years ago today, Carlo Giuliani was gunned down by the police in Genoa, during the G8 demonstrations. Dozens of other demonstrators were subjected to systematic violence by the authorities policing the event. The brutality in Bolzaneto anticipating Abu Ghraib, right in the heart of Europe. Dissent made to equate terror. A death-black page in Italy's recent history. So many questions that remain unanswered.

Those that have no memory have no future.
posted by ashleyb at 5:16 AM
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Monday, July 19, 2004. *
What would happen if a Palestinian terrorist were to detonate a bomb at the entrance to an apartment building in Israel and cause the death of an elderly man in a wheelchair, who would later be found buried under the rubble of the building? The country would be profoundly shocked. Everyone would talk about the sickening cruelty of the act and its perpetrators. The shock would be even greater if it then turned out that the dead man's wife had tried to dissuade the terrorist from blowing up the house, telling him that there were people inside, but to no avail. The tabloids would come out with the usual screaming headline: "Buried alive in his wheelchair." The terrorists would be branded "animals."

Last Monday, Israel Defense Forces bulldozers in Khan Yunis, in the Gaza Strip, demolished the home of Ibrahim Halfalla, a 75-year-old disabled man and father of seven, and buried him alive. Umm-Basel, his wife, says she tried to stop the driver of the heavy machine by shouting, but he paid her no heed. The IDF termed the act "a mistake that shouldn't have happened," and the incident was noted in passing in Israel. The country's largest-circulation paper, Yedioth Ahronoth, didn't bother to run the story at all. The blood libel in France - a woman's tale of being subjected to an anti-Semitic attack, which later turned out to be fiction - proved a great deal more upsetting to people. There we thought the assault was aimed against our people. But when the IDF bulldozes a disabled Palestinian to death? Not a story. Just like the killing, under the rubble of her home, of Noha Maqadama, a woman in her ninth month of pregnancy, before the eyes of her husband and children, in El Boureij refugee camp a few months earlier. [more]
posted by Bill at 9:53 PM
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. . . Maybe she can get some work over in Iraq, I hear we're installing "freedom of speech" over there at the point of a barrel . . .
posted by Dr. Menlo at 5:27 PM
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PRESIDENT George Bush has promised that if re-elected in November he will make regime change in Iran his new target.

Bush named Iran as part of the Axis of Evil along with North Korea and Iraq almost three years ago. A US government official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said that military action would not be overt in changing Iran, but rather that the US would work to stir revolts in the country and hope to topple the current conservative religious leadership.

The official said: “If George Bush is re-elected there will be much more intervention in the internal affairs of Iran.” [more]

Now, we here at the Samizdat, of course, have known for a while that Iran and Syria were next on the Bush admin's Hit List . . . but which type of leak is this? Four More Wars: Confirmed!
posted by Dr. Menlo at 1:05 PM
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. . . someone on Air America--I don't remember who--recently voiced an idea I've had since participating in the original 1999 WTO protests in Seattle: Wear Suits! Talking to the Bush/Operation Enduring War (Mass Murder)/Operation Enduring Caryle Group-Halliburton Profits protestors, y'understand: Wear Suits! Nothing would confuse the Fox propagandists et al. more . . . it would be especially (ahem) suitable when confronting these young fascist punks. They can have their Brooks Brothers; we'll take Prada.

(or wearing the most humanist uniform of all, would also be nice . . . )
posted by Dr. Menlo at 11:47 AM
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Troops, returning home with untreated and little-understood mental health issues, put themselves and their families at risk for suicide and domestic violence, experts say. Twenty-three U.S. troops in Iraq took their lives last year, according to the Defense Department — an unusually high number, one official acknowledged.

On patrol, however, all that is available is talk.

"Kill, kill, kill, kill, kill," Hall says. "It's like it pounds at my brain. I'll figure out how to deal with it when I get home." [more]

posted by Dr. Menlo at 11:29 AM
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Via the KurzweilAI.net Newsletter comes info on a new web search system called Blinkx. Supposedly, it's growing real fast. and may eventually be a major competitor of Google.

I'll have to use it a few times before I can really comment on it's utility, but here's the Guardian Unlimited's write up on it, All eyes on Blinkx:
"Blinkx has two selling points. First, it doesn't only search the web but simultaneously scours news sites, emails, attachments and your own hard disk. It does all this unobtrusively in the background until you pass your cursor over icons at the top or bottom of the page, when it reveals a digest of related sites as well as material from Word, Excel or PDF files. If you are working in a word processing document, it provides the same service.
And, I guess I'll have to check their privacy policy, though. I'm not sure if I'm comfortable w/ it searching MY harddrive, though there's really nothing on it. sort of the principal, I guess.

Anyway, the article goes on to say:
It also searches blogs. This function has just been added because Malik suggested it would be a good thing to do. 'I didn't appreciate the significance until he wrote the article and then I thought, 'Right, I get it',' she said disarmingly. Blinkx can also search digital TV on the internet, which, in practice, means video output from the BBC. Why? 'Because the BBC posts its digital TV free on the internet.'

Both Google and Microsoft are working on unified engines that search your desktop as well as the web, and some others already do it. But Rittweger believes Blinkx is the only one that offers all these facilities including video search now. So the company has a window of opportunity in a market where consumers can switch allegiance with two blinkx of an eyelid.

The second selling point is that, unlike Google, it uses artificial intelligence to rate stories, not page rankings. 'What it is trying to say,' she explains, 'is that all words are not equal in a sentence... Quite critically, if you are looking at a document and trying to figure out what it means, Blinkx reads everything you are reading and sorts out what are the key ideas.'

Blinkx's planned business model involves getting advertising revenue from contextual adverts, product channels and white labelling, but she emphasises that the search is independent: it is mathematically based and just looks at words and their context. She adds: "It is clean, but users don't know that so we show our advertisements in a different colour". "
So we'll see, but I'm all about have different search options. I've found Google highly functional, but...

Oh, and let's see how their policies deveolp over time.
posted by rick at 10:08 AM
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Stephen Zunes explores the unusual alliances behind U.S. policy in the Middle East, particularly towards the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
posted by Bill at 9:41 AM
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...
The Highly Selective, Regenerable Perchlorate Treatment system uses a unique, highly specific resin to trap the perchlorate, or ClO4, destroy it, and regenerate itself so it can be reused. Perchlorate, the primary ingredient of solid rocket propellant, is increasingly being discovered in soil and water. The chemical disrupts function of the human thyroid gland, which regulates metabolism in adults and physical development in children.

For more info on perchlorate, our government, and Alabama - Continue reading here.
posted by rick at 7:56 AM
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Sunday, July 18, 2004. *
"A watchdog group has removed documents from its website that detail military research into knockout gases similar to the one used in the deadly 2002 Moscow theater siege after the Marine Corps warned they could pose a threat to Defense Department employees.

"The group, the Sunshine Project, claims the documents indicate that early 1990s Army research into knockout gases, which was canceled because of the Chemical Weapons Convention, was revived by the Pentagon's Joint Non-Lethal Weapons Directorate in the early 2000s.

"The Sunshine Project posted an e-mail on its site Thursday from Zachary J. Stewart, a lawyer with the Marine Corps Systems Command, saying the three documents were inadvertently sent to the group after it requested them through the Freedom of Information Act."
posted by mr damon at 10:33 PM
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After absorbing nearly half of humankind's industrial emissions of carbon dioxide for the past 200 years or so, the Earth's oceans are becoming more acidic -- a chemical change that could significantly harm sea life and speed up global warming. [more]
posted by Dr. Menlo at 10:32 AM
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Saturday, July 17, 2004. *


...This is exactly what I came away with when I attended a couple of local democratic functions, including hearing DNC chair McAwffle.

All they kept talking about was how 'we' were going to beat the republicans. How this seat was vulnerable, or the strategy for winning various seats. And I kept repeating the same question in various forms:
"But why should I vote for you? Why should "I" care if you win? What is the party's goal? What are 'we' going to do, when 'we' win?
They just sort of stared at me blank faced, like I was a little slow child and didn't understand adult politics.

Okay. Maybe I'm not as astute as I think I am, but I do know sales. You don't get sales or market share by saying 'Buy Me, So My Competitors Lose'. The customer has no dog in the fight. They'll buy on something, and now you've lost the ability to influence that decision.

What is the democratic party offering me? Pretty much nothing, as far as I can tell. In fact, I happen to have come to the belief that the democrats are an irrelevant party. It's the party of soft corporatists vs the party of strong corporate owners, the average American isn't even represented in the fight. As Thomas says (Read On)-
posted by rick at 6:49 PM
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Hmm.
Ralph Nader brought his independent campaign for president to a San Francisco rally Friday night and warned nervous Democrats that he's in the race to stay.

"I want to beat Bush, and I don't want to rely on the Democratic Party," he said in an interview Friday with the Chronicle. "The Democrats have become very good at electing very bad Republicans."

Nader promises to shift the nation's tax burden "from work to the wealthy,'' revising the system so that businesses, investors and the rich pay more. He would boost taxes on capital gains and dividends and repeal Bush's tax cuts.

He would increase the federal minimum wage to $8.20 an hour from the current $5.15 and quickly move it to $10. Nader also backs a universal health care plan and vowed to remove all U.S. forces from Iraq in six months, which he calls the most important issue in the 2004 election.

Nader also wants to change the election system, calling for public funding of campaigns, same-day voter registration, free television time for qualified candidates, instant runoff voting and proportional representation in Congress for minor parties.

And this is what I want. The last time I had to declare party affiliation, I chose Green. So why do I feel frustrated with Nader's position/role in the federal process? Have I been seduced by the spoiler hype?
posted by mr damon at 11:33 AM
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The Army dropped legal actions against Staff Sergeant Georg-Andreas Pogany who was arrested and charged with cowardice in Iraq last year when he had a panic attack upon seeing a dead body. The charges were apparently dropped because an Army malaria drug made Pogany sick. This according to a report by UPI. He is one of 11 service members diagnosed in the past few weeks with damage to the brainstem and vestibular, or balance, system after being given mefloquine while serving in Iraq or Afghanistan. A number of soldiers from Pogany's base in Fort Carson, Colorado say the drug caused severe mental and physical problems -- including suicidal feelings and homicidal rage. The Army developed mefloquine, also known as Lariam, in the 1970s and it was cleared for use in the United States in 1989. It has been taken by 5 million Americans.

I looked into this a bit when I prepared to go to Mali in 2000. The incidence of severe side effects is higher in women, by something like 3 or 4 to one, if memory serves.

I noted that the cowardice charge can be punishable by death, which reminded me of the actual focus of the New Yorker article to which I linked yesterday:


"In 1947, in a slim volume entitled 'Men Against Fire: The Problem of Battle Command in Future War,' S.L.A. Marshall took the military by surprise. Throughout the war, he declared, only about fifteen per cent of American riflemen in combat had fired at the enemy. One lieutenant colonel complained to Marshall that four days after the desperate struggle on Omaha Beach he couldn't get one man in 25 to voluntarily fire his rifle. 'I walked up and down the line yelling, "God damn it! Start shooting!" But it did little good.'

"These men weren't cowards. They would hold their positions and willingly perform such tasks as delivering ammunition to machine guns. They simply couldn't bring themselves to aim a rifle at another human being -- even an armed foe -- and pull the trigger. 'Fear of killing, rather than fear of being killed, was the most common cause of battle failure in the individual,' Marshall wrote. 'At the vital point, he becomes a conscientious objector.'"
posted by mr damon at 9:58 AM
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I recommend naming the bills designed to fight this the "Economic Patriot Bill." When advocating, repeat the phrase, "Rebuild America First."
posted by Dr. Menlo at 2:26 AM
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Friday, July 16, 2004. *
"I will never allow any other country to veto what we need to do, and I will never allow any other institution to veto what we need to do to protect our nation."

- JFK 2.0, "Kerry Backs Much of Pre-Emption Doctrine"
posted by mr damon at 11:46 PM
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*sniff* I'm sorry. It was such a simpler time back then. How did it all change? What happened to the laughter?
posted by rick at 8:40 PM
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Life after death
I read the intro to a news story that highlighted the role that values have begun to play in the federal election. I didn't read the piece because the values that candidates speak of are often just emotional triggers or handy keywords for applause.

What truly matters is the prominence of denial and destruction (and divisiveness, but that doesn't relate to the story that follows). These seem to be the federal government's preferred vehicles of policy and progress. I think that contemplation of the consequences of such activity -- for ourselves, for our relations, and all that we claim to cherish and cling to in this world -- will continue to move people, regardless of political ideology, to see that institutions, "leaders" and agents that invest in and act through denial and destruction only denigrate and undermine the common values, needs and concerns of all the world.

We can and must assert ourselves, and require those who act in our name, to be human. And to value humanity. --D to the T



Carl Cranston joined the Army in 1997, when he was still a junior at Sebring McKinley High School, not far from Canton, Ohio. He and his girlfriend, Debbie Stiles, had just had a baby, and they thought the Army offered the easiest path to job security. The country was enjoying what President Clinton liked to call "the longest peacetime expansion in history," and Carl's duties as an infantryman, they thought, would largely be a matter of his getting into shape, shooting awesome weapons, and learning skills like rappelling and land navigation...

The attacks of September 11 changed everything. The Cranstons were moved to Fort Benning, in Columbus, Georgia, so that Carl could join the 3rd Infantry Division's 3rd Brigade, a mechanized unit known as the Sledgehammer Brigade. He and his men were assigned to accompany Bradley fighting vehicles -- the fast, heavily armed personnel carriers that became the backbone of the attack on Iraq. Seven soldiers, or dismounts, would squeeze into the Bradley's stifling rear compartment, and Carl, by now a sergeant, was their team leader.

The Sledgehammers were among the first units to cross into Iraq after the war started, in March, 2003, and Carl was involved in eleven firefights, seven of them "major," by his reckoning. They fought from the Kuwait border to central Baghdad, and finally rotated back to Fort Benning last July...

I met Carl and Debbie in February, at a Red Lobster restaurant in Columbus. He's a big man of 24 years, with a high-fade military buzz cut and a well-padded face that relaxes into a wide smile. She is small and blond, with a sharp chin and a quick, alert look honed by rimless glasses. Carl tends to be guileless and cheerful, Debbie more clipped and wary.

Carl still marvels at the lethality of the Sledgehammers. Iraqi soldiers, believing they were concealed by darkness or smoke, would expose themselves to the Bradley-s thermal sights and the devastating rapid fire of its 25mm cannon. Carl and his squad would tumble out the back of the Bradley and attack Iraqi soldiers who had survived. "We killed a lot of people," he said as we ate.

Later, Carl and his men had to establish roadblocks, which was notoriously dangerous duty. "We started out being nice," Carl said. "We had little talking cards to help us communicate. We'd put up signs in Arabic saying 'Stop.' We'd say, 'Ishta, ishta,' which means 'Go away.'" But people would approach with white flags in their hands and then whip out AK-47s or rocket-propelled grenades. So Carl's group adopted a play-it-safe policy: if a driver ignored the signs and the warnings and came within 30 metres of a roadblock, the Americans opened fire.

"That's why nobody in our whole company got killed," he said. Debbie stopped eating and stared into her food. "You're not supposed to fire warning shots, but we did," Carl said. "And still some people wouldn't stop." He went on, "A couple of times -- more than a couple -- it was women and children in the car. I don't know why they didn't stop." Carl's squad didn't tow away the cars containing dead people. "You can't go near it," he said. "It might be full of explosives. You just leave it." He and his men would remain at their posts alongside the carnage. "Nothing else you can do," he said.

Debbie watched the waitress clear our plates, then she leaned forward to tell about a night in July, after Carl's return, when they went with some friends to the Afterhours Enlisted Club at Fort Benning. Carl had a few drinks, Debbie said, and started railing at the disk jockey, shouting, "I want to hear music about people blowing people's brains out, cutting people's throats!" Debbie continued, "I said, 'Carl. Shut up.' He said, 'No, I want to hear music about shit I've seen!'"

Carl listened to Debbie's story with a loving smile, as though she were telling about him losing his car keys. "I don't remember that," he said, laughing. Debbie said, "That was the first time I heard him say stuff about seeing people's brains blown out. Other times, he just has flashbacks -- like, he sits still and stares." Carl laughed again. "Really, though, I'm fine," he said. Beside him in the booth, Debbie shook her head without taking her eyes from mine and exaggeratedly mouthed, "Not fine. Not fine..."

"When he was coming home, the Army gave us little cards that said things like 'Watch for psychotic episodes' and 'Is he drinking too much?'" she said. "A lot of wives said it was a joke. They had a lady come from the psych ward, who said -- and I'm serious -- 'Don't call us unless your husband is waking you up in the middle of the night with a knife at your throat.' Or, 'Don't call us unless he actually chokes you, unless you pass out. He'll have flashbacks. It's normal.'"
posted by mr damon at 8:25 PM
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Her comments were then stricken from the record.

Dictatorship, anyone?
posted by Dr. Menlo at 1:29 PM
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From the Sydney Morning Herald:

Iyad Allawi, the new Prime Minister of Iraq, pulled a pistol and executed as many as six suspected insurgents at a Baghdad police station, just days before Washington handed control of the country to his interim government, according to two people who allege they witnessed the killings.

They say the prisoners - handcuffed and blindfolded - were lined up against a wall in a courtyard adjacent to the maximum-security cell block in which they were held at the Al-Amariyah security centre, in the city's south-western suburbs.  [more]

Allawi sure is making a name for himself.  So far we know he's been a longtime CIA asset who helped facilitate terrorist attacks in Iraq during the 1990s and, according to Sy Hersh, ran a hit squad in Europe during the 1970s that knocked off political adversaries of Saddam Hussein, helping him rise quickly through the ranks of the Ba'ath party.
 
Now this.  Helluva nice guy to be ushering in Iraq's "transition to democracy," eh?
posted by Bill at 9:18 AM
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You know, I kind of thought my little letter to the scammers was pretty good, "Thanks, but I think you have the wrong guy", but I've been totally out classed by Mike NLN: Turning the tables on Nigeria's e-mail conmen.
posted by rick at 7:59 AM
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Thursday, July 15, 2004. *
So said Seymour Hersh in a speech to an ACLU convention last week, also noting that the Bush administration has been trying to cover up such war crimes.
 
You can read a summary of, listen to, or watch streaming video of Hersh's speech via Eschaton
 
What I also find interesting is how this story fell down the memory hole for a few months.  Remember this piece of news from May?:
U.S. military officials told NBC News that the unreleased images [of abuse at Abu Ghraib] showed U.S. soldiers severely beating an Iraqi prisoner nearly to death, having sex with a female Iraqi female prisoner and “acting inappropriately with a dead body.” The officials said there was also a videotape, apparently shot by U.S. personnel, showing Iraqi guards raping young boys.
No? Doesn't look too familiar? Perhaps that's because it got edited out of NBC's report soon after it was first published.
posted by Bill at 10:36 PM
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Perp Walk
This is Joe here from American Leftist ... I recently put together a new piece of political artwork ... it's no 'War President' but I hope some of you find it amusing. The text is from Supreme Court Justice Robert H. Jackson, U. S. Prosecutor at Nuremberg:
To initiate a war of aggression, therefore, is not only an international crime, it is the supreme international crime differing only from other war crimes in that it contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole. ... If certain acts in violation of treaties are crimes, they are crimes whether the United States does them or whether Germany does them, and we are not prepared to lay down a rule of criminal conduct against others which we would not be willing to have invoked against us.
The image is my vision of what it would look like if the gang that couldn't shoot straight got arrested by the feds. I call the image "Perp Walk" Here's" the full-sized version. And here's a thumbnail:
posted by Joe at 9:13 PM
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. . . most likely because of efforts like this?

Call SlimFast and tell them how you feel about that: 561.833.9920. Oscar-winning actor and all-around great guy Tim Robbins already called them this morning . . . (via Unfiltered.)
posted by Dr. Menlo at 8:15 AM
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posted by Dr. Menlo at 8:08 AM
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Wednesday, July 14, 2004. *


"In the new post-Barcelona politeness era, the [15th Int'l AIDS] conference chair, Joep Lange, and Helene Gayle from the Gates Foundation -- who will chair the next one in Canada in two years time -- asked the activists to get it out of their system quickly and let Randall Tobias have a hearing. So they went quiet, but as Tobias stood at the podium they persisted in holding up placards bearing just two little words: 'He's lying.' Tobias gave the impression of a man on the verge of apoplexy, walked back to his seat and refused to budge until Lange and Gayle had persuaded the demonstrators to stop. He then gave his speech to a modicum of heckling and made a swift exit.

"Oh, and the content? Lots of admirable stuff about working together, fighting Aids not each other, and giving money to local groups in the worst-hit countries who know what they need to do to fight the disease. But he also defended abstinence, the focus on faith-based groups, and 'high quality drugs,' and he called the Global Fund a young -- ergo immature and not to be trusted with too much cash -- organisation. He did promise, however, to buy generics if the US regulators approved them and they were the cheapest available. At a conference where all the UN organisations have been loudly and clearly stating that abstinence doesn't work for women without the power to say no, he is yet to win any new friends...

"Tobias [had] a slight image problem. He was chief executive of the huge US drug company Eli Lilly before his retirement. Lilly actually makes Prozac, not anti-retrovirals, but you can imagine how a former pharmaceutical fat cat goes down at a conference where the Indian generic companies that ripped-off the big name companies to produce cheap, lifesaving Aids drugs are heroes and saints."
posted by mr damon at 4:07 PM
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