American Samizdat

Thursday, June 30, 2005. *
My money's always been on Rove . . .

So this could be uncovered, at last? Could the truth win out, after all?
posted by Dr. Menlo at 9:31 PM
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Insurers Alarmed By Global Warming
The cost worldwide of storms, expected to become more frequent owing to climate change, is likely to rise by two-thirds to £15bn ($27bn, €22bn) a year in the next seven decades, the Association of British Insurers will warn on Wednesday.

Nick Starling, the ABI's director of general insurance, urged the leaders of the Group of Eight industrialised nations to take action on greenhouse gas emissions when they meet to discuss climate change next week.

“Governments now have a chance to make rational choices for the future, before it is too late,” he said. Making the right decisions based on assessment of the costs of climate change “will ensure lower costs for the public in future”.

By 2040, the average annual cost of hurricanes in the US alone would rise from $9.5bn to $11.4bn. In a bad year, hurricanes in the US would cost $71bn in the 2040s and $104bn in insured costs alone.

From those commies at the Financial Times

But wait!

A few in power still argue the idea of catastrophic global warming is, in the words of Sen. James Inhofe of Oklahoma, a "hoax." During the energy bill debate last week, Inhofe said that rising levels of CO2 could even be a boon, by making it easier for plants to acquire carbon, the main building block of life.

"CO2 is not a pollutant, CO2 is a fertilizer," he said.


In other news, ketchup is still a vegetable :-) and the forecasters anticipate periods of rent seeking followed by taxpayer bailouts.
posted by Deleted at 1:37 PM
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Wednesday, June 29, 2005. *
Americans are waking up, and members of Congress who let themselves be stampeded into this war need to put their wind meters back out, because while Bush doesn’t have to run for anything again, every member of the House of Representatives and a third of the Senate are running in 2006. Americans are waking up, and they are in a very bad mood about this war, and as Bob Dylan once sang, it don’t take a weatherman to know which way the wind blows. I’ll tell my Democrat right now from the platform, if he doesn’t fight to bring them home now, I’ll vote a Republican who says he or she will. People are dying, and we will not respect on election day those who sat on a fence while the coffins arrived at Dover, and the cries of pain echoed off the walls at Landstuhl and Walter Reed.

Bush says if we declare a withdrawal date, the insurgents will wait us out. But we haven’t even declared the *intention* to leave Iraq – in fact, it looks like we are building permanent bases there – and the Iraqi resistance seems to be growing stronger, more sophisticated, and more audacious with every day. This could not be happening if the resistance did not enjoy substantial popular support. And if our presence strengthens the resistance, how is this better than having them “wait the US out"?

Stan Goff's site is well worth exploring for strategies on counter-recruitment and other progressive priorities.
posted by Deleted at 11:21 AM
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Tuesday, June 28, 2005. *
Good work, my friends.
posted by Trevor Blake at 11:33 PM
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Weare, New Hampshire (PRWEB) Could a hotel be built on the land owned by Supreme Court Justice David H. Souter? A new ruling by the Supreme Court which was supported by Justice Souter himself itself might allow it. A private developer is seeking to use this very law to build a hotel on Souter's land.

Justice Souter's vote in the "Kelo vs. City of New London" decision allows city governments to take land from one private owner and give it to another if the government will generate greater tax revenue or other economic benefits when the land is developed by the new owner.

On Monday June 27, Logan Darrow Clements, faxed a request to Chip Meany the code enforcement officer of the Towne of Weare, New Hampshire seeking to start the application process to build a hotel on 34 Cilley Hill Road. This is the present location of Mr. Souter's home.

Read the rest.

There's no ethical problem I can see with this. Normally, I'd be opposed to grabbing someone's home. Justice Souter, however, has indicated that he thinks it's okay. Presumably, it's okay even when it happens to him. The developer's project will attract many visitors. The boost to the local economy will be significant.

The proposed development, called "The Lost Liberty Hotel" will feature the "Just Desserts Café" and include a museum, open to the public, featuring a permanent exhibit on the loss of freedom in America. Instead of a Gideon's Bible each guest will receive a free copy of Ayn Rand's novel "Atlas Shrugged."

I thought "Atlas Shrugged" was an awful book, but it's no worse than the Bible. The Just Desserts Café sounds like my kind of place. All things considered, this is very positive. We must face the future bravely, together, and hope that Justice Souter's compensation is enough for him to relocate.

Via Cleek
posted by Deleted at 3:45 PM
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The UN has learned of "very, very serious" allegations that the United States is secretly detaining terrorism suspects in various locations around the world, notably aboard prison ships, the UN's special rapporteur on terrorism said.

While the accusations were rumours, rapporteur Manfred Nowak said the situation was sufficiently serious to merit an official inquiry.

"There are very, very serious accusations that the United States is maintaining secret camps, notably on ships," the Austrian UN official told AFP, adding that the vessels were believed to be in the Indian Ocean region.

"They are only rumours, but they appear sufficiently well-based to merit an official inquiry," he added.

What an odd, but compelling story. This is the first I've heard of it. I wonder how quickly this story will disappear from Yahoo.
posted by platts42 at 3:06 PM
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Since the modification of the laws that apply to marriage, and the Christian views on the issue, are controversial these days, I am going to explain my own opinion:

I am completely in favour of allowing Christians to get married.

I think that trying to prevent it is unjust and a mistake.

Christianity is not a disease. Christians, even though they are disliked or mistrusted by many, are normal people and should have the same rights as everyone else, as if they were, let’s say, homosexuals or computer programmers.

Read the rest
posted by Deleted at 2:28 PM
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posted by Dr. Menlo at 9:50 AM
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"[Nurse Toni Lemly] is suing a hospital that fired her after she refused to administer the 'morning after' abortion pill [...] Lemly, represented by the non-profit Alliance Defense Fund, says she had informed hospital supervisory staff that she objected to administering the abortion pill because of her sincerely held religious beliefs [...] [ADF attorney Mike] Johnson said Lemly, a nurse of 23 years, 'loves her work, and she does not deserve to be discriminated against because of her religious beliefs.' 'All that she asks of the hospital is to respect her freedom in choosing to not participate in the taking of a human life,' said Johnson."

['Sincerely held religious belief' is the code phrase for "I get to do anything I want and you can't hold me responsible for it." Note also that our choices are either to respect freedom of religion or participate in the taking of human lives.]
posted by Trevor Blake at 12:25 AM
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Monday, June 27, 2005. *
Scott Ritter: US at War with Iran
On June 23, 2005, Scott Ritter spoke to 110 people at a fundraiser for Traprock Peace Center at the Woolman Hill Meeting House. Before the presentation, Ritter met with 30 people over dinner at Woolman Hill. Hear his presentation and the question and answers, complete and unabridged. Sunny Miller moderated the event, introducing Ritter and reading questions from the audience.
posted by Uncle $cam at 11:34 PM
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Heartbreaking. (and does not include the tens of thousands of innocent Iraqi children, women and men also slaughtered)
posted by Dr. Menlo at 9:57 PM
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Part Two of the SeaTimes' series Suddenly Sick: The hidden big business behind your doctor's diagnosis

Tami Melum, 39, took weight-loss drugs so she could feel healthier and keep up with her two boys, now 11 and 13. The drugs nearly killed her.

After being prescribed Redux and a drug combination known as "phen-fen," Melum developed heart damage so severe that in 2002 surgeons had to cut open her chest and heart and install an artificial valve.

She is a tragic testament to what can go wrong in a system where the powerful pharmaceutical industry influences what constitutes a disease, who has it, and how it should be treated.

Before taking the drugs, Melum was overweight but healthy: Her cholesterol, blood pressure and blood sugar were all normal.

But that wasn't enough. By the mid-1990s, the medical establishment had changed its mind about people such as Melum. Some of the world's most prominent obesity experts, with backing from the drug industry and medical societies, defined obesity as a stand-alone "disease" that caused premature death and needed to be treated with drugs.

Suddenly, Tami Melum and millions like her were, by definition, sick.

In making obesity a disease, these experts helped create a billion-dollar market for the drugs that maimed Melum, killed hundreds, and damaged the hearts and lungs of tens of thousands.

The story of obesity shows how it became acceptable for doctors to risk killing or injuring people on the premise that it would save them from illnesses they might never get.
posted by mr damon at 11:17 AM
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You have heard that Ken Tomlinson, CPB chairman, paid an individual named Fred Mann to monitor Bill Moyers NOW program for $14,000. But it wasn't just NOW, and it wasn't just to construct a liberal vs. conservative guest list to examine for bias.

Domestic war at home?
posted by Uncle $cam at 6:46 AM
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The art of Mike Kaluta. He's a living legend.


This is the link for And here in Pittsburgh, the Pittsburgh Organizing Group blocks this local recruiting station.

Philip Carter, apparently a reservist, has been called to active duty. This is one of the few pro-war vets that I respect because he sincerely cares about the plight of the American soldier no matter the many giddy and optimistic pronouncements declared by the Bush Administration. Of course, I'm sure that his criticism of the war has nothing to do with his being called up and probably being sent to the Russian Front front lines. Who would imply that the Bush administration is mean-spirited and vengeful? Nothing to do at all I'm sure. Update: I added this low key comment to his site. There's a bit of contrast with the boosters. I don't think it would be banned. Afterall, we kinda know Philip Carter isn't a pussy.

First, watch your back.

Second, I do not congratulate you because I do not think you'll be murdering Iraqis for a good cause. For the record, I wouldn't wish a German soldier good luck in Poland or France, either.

Third, I have the greatest respect for your courage. Here's somebody who walks the walk and talks the talk. You're smart enough to make a conscientious objector, or even to make some other nuanced claim, but you didn't. In a fair world, the Patrick Ruffinis and Instapundits and Pejmanpundits would go in your place...

Four: I have to say this out loud: Do you think your critiques against the war led to you being called up?

Philip Shropshire

6.27.2005 4:18am

There's an exciting new media project called Independent World Television. It's an attempt to create a publicly funded new media movement. Check out the very good 15 minute video about their origins. Features the wide array of alt journalism heroes: My fantasy girlfriend and love Naomi Klein, Amy Goodman, Robert McChesney and others. Watch the whole thing.

I wish Ralph Nader would get out of reactionary and harmful politics and join this media project. Check out his thoughtful piece (always maintained that Nader is world's greatest journalist) on the common sense proposal to legalize hemp. Go to for more info. We could replace tobacco with a crop that's potentially both profitable and beneficial.

New Environmental Link:

posted by Philip Shropshire at 1:57 AM
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Sunday, June 26, 2005. *
The American general who commanded allied air forces during the Iraq war appears to have admitted in a briefing to American and British officers that coalition aircraft waged a secret air war against Iraq from the middle of 2002, nine months before the invasion began.
posted by platts42 at 1:24 PM
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Saturday, June 25, 2005. *
Information leading to the arrest of Osama bin Ladin can net USD $25 million. Multiply that times forty to get USD $1 billion and you've got the bail for Kim Freeman. Osama bin Ladin organized the most lethal attack on United States soil in history. What did Kim Freeman do? She is alleged to be a madam of two brothels. It sure seems like there is more than one set of laws in this country. Wait a minute, there are!
posted by Trevor Blake at 10:52 PM
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US theocracy from a UK perspective.
posted by Trevor Blake at 6:07 PM
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Great, rousing headline.
posted by Dr. Menlo at 1:15 AM
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What do you do when somebody wants to publish a book that says you're completely wrong? If you're Alan Dershowitz, the prominent Harvard law professor, and the book is Norman Finkelstein's Beyond Chutzpah: On the Misuse of Anti-Semitism and the Abuse of History, you write the governor of California and suggest that he intervene with the publisher--because the publisher is the University of California Press, which conceivably might be subject to the power of the governor.
This would be hilarious if only it weren't so darn pathetic. Dershowitz has apparently decided to soldier on in his battle against Finkelstein, resorting to even more desperate measures and digging himself into yet a deeper hole of intellectual bankruptcy.

Longtime AmSam readers might fondly recall the Democracy Now! "debate" that kick started this particular feud.
posted by Bill at 12:09 AM
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Friday, June 24, 2005. *
The US Southern Baptist Convention, representing the country's largest Protestant denomination, has ended its eight-year-long boycott of the Walt Disney Corporation over its allegedly pro-gay policies, due to the realisation that it has had no effect. The move follows a similar decision last month by the American Family Association, a conservative Christian group, which ended its nine-year boycott, during which it urged supporters not to visit Disney theme parks, movies or stores because of the company's policy of holding gay days at its parks and offering health benefits to the same sex partners of employees. [...] US financial analysts have said the boycott had little or no discernible effect on the company's earnings.

[As an added fuck you to the Christians, here's a link to the Leather Pirates of the Caribbean. Ha! You lost, we won. You are ineffective and unwanted. We, meanwhile, are having a fabulous time at the Happiest Place on Earth.]
posted by Trevor Blake at 7:15 PM
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Yahoo News is running:
An Italian judge on Friday ordered the arrests of 13
CIA officers for secretly transporting a Muslim preacher from Italy to Egypt as part of U.S. anti-terrorism efforts — a rare public objection to the practice by a close American ally.

via Huffington Post
posted by ben at 1:49 PM
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In an industrial park in Philadelphia sits a new machine that can change almost anything into oil.

Thermal Depolymerization Process supposedly can turn any carbon based material into oil. At a cost of $8-12/barrel for light crude (as opposed to $50+ we're paying now). Sounds to good to be true but is reported all over the place (USA Today for example) and is getting serious funding by the government. Anyway - interesting.

Unlike other solid-to-liquid-fuel processes such as cornstarch into ethanol, this one will accept almost any carbon-based feedstock. If a 175-pound man fell into one end , he would come out the other end as 38 pounds of oil, 7 pounds of gas, and 7 pounds of minerals, as well as 123 pounds of sterilized water.
posted by ben at 10:03 AM
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posted by Trevor Blake at 9:11 AM
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The Free Speech Coalition has brokered a deal with the U.S. government that precludes enforcement of the recently revised regulations pertaining to 18 U.S.C. §2257 against its members until a federal district court rules on the FSC’s request for a preliminary injunction.

An injunction hearing is scheduled for August 8 and August 9, and the deal applies only to those who are members of the FSC by 2 p.m. Pacific time on June 25.

Just putting it out there for those who may be harboring nudes on their site. You know who you are you filthy perverts. Keep up the good work.
posted by platts42 at 8:59 AM
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Thursday, June 23, 2005. *
Ahh, yes that bastion of democracy and information "the peoples media" (/sarcasm)

A brilliant article by Sanjoy Mahajan in ZNET analyzes with crystalline clarity and exposes the shameless cover-up tactics used by The New York Times when dealing with the Downing Street Memos (minutes) and briefings.
In Mahajan's words:

The NYT articles — masterpieces of delay, indirection, distraction, fake rebuttals, and elegant omission — keep readers ignorant of the lies and the lying liars who tell them. No wonder so many Americans still support this gangster war.

Sanjoy Mahajan's Anatomy of a Coverup may be found here

This analysis reveals some dire issues with the prop-agenda blitz going on to implement the "final solution" to C+ Augustus and his brownshirts paxamericana agenda.
posted by Uncle $cam at 1:26 PM
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The Washington Post reports the Pentagon is working with a private company to collect information on high school students ages 16-to-18 and all college students.

The database will be managed by BeNow Inc. of Wakefield, Mass. and will include birth dates, Social Security numbers, e-mail addresses, grade-point averages, ethnicity and what subjects the students are studying...

Privacy advocates tell the newspaper there are serious problem because the database will have a lot of personal information. They say it looks like the government is trying to evade restrictions on collecting such information by hiring private companies to do it.

It seems to me that the Gov is seriously ramping up a Police State.
posted by platts42 at 10:39 AM
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Wednesday, June 22, 2005. *
Government Agencies overstepping boundaries
Two separate incidents reported in 2 days:

Federal Agency Collected Extensive Personal Data About Airline Passengers Despite Pledge
WASHINGTON (AP) -- A federal agency collected extensive personal information about airline passengers although Congress told it not to and it said it wouldn't, according to documents obtained Monday by The Associated Press.

A Transportation Security Administration contractor used three data brokers to collect detailed information about U.S. citizens who flew on commercial airlines in June 2004 in order to test a terrorist screening program called Secure Flight, according to documents that will be published in the Federal Register this week.

The TSA had ordered the airlines to turn over data on those passengers, called passenger name records, in November."

and U.S. Law Officers Seek Library Patron Data
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. librarians say they have been asked at least 268 times since 2001 to give law officers data about readers, despite repeated Justice Department denials that it is interested in patrons' reading habits.

A survey released this week by the American Library Association found the inquiries from law enforcement came formally and informally -- that is, without a formal legal order -- to public and academic libraries. That is despite laws in 48 states and prevailing opinion in the other two that library information is private.

'Now we have solid information that no matter what the Justice Department is saying, they are interested in libraries because they are coming, and not once or twice, but in appreciable numbers,' Emily Sheketoff, executive director of the library association's Washington office, said on Tuesday.

This story vanished off of yahoo from yesterday, but hey while double checking for this post I noticed that the House Approves Flag-Burning Amendment
"WASHINGTON - The House on Wednesday approved a constitutional amendment that would give Congress the power to ban desecration of the American flag, a measure that for the first time stands a chance of passing the Senate as well.

By a 286-130 vote -eight more than needed- House members approved the amendment after a debate over whether such a ban would uphold or run afoul of the Constitution's free-speech protections.

Approval of two-thirds of the lawmakers present was required to send the bill on to the Senate, where activists on both sides say it stands the best chance of passage in years. If the amendment is approved in that chamber by a two-thirds vote, it would then move to the states for ratification.

Honestly, what country am I living in?
posted by platts42 at 12:30 PM
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BBC article: Detractors divided over Hillary book - Amazon link

Who do the readers of AmSam think the Dem nomination should be?
posted by ben at 10:40 AM
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To the great growth industries of America such as health care and home building add one more: influence peddling.

The number of registered lobbyists in Washington has more than doubled since 2000 to more than 34,750 while the amount that lobbyists charge their new clients has increased by as much as 100 percent. Only a few other businesses have enjoyed greater prosperity in an otherwise fitful economy.

The lobbying boom has been caused by three factors, experts say: rapid growth in government, Republican control of both the White House and Congress, and wide acceptance among corporations that they need to hire professional lobbyists to secure their share of federal benefits.
posted by A.Q. at 9:31 AM
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Amidst a bitterly contested vote count that resulted in unprecedented action by the Congress of the United States, here are some news accounts that followed this election, which was among the most bitterly contested in all US history:

• Despite repeated pre-election calls from officials across the nation and the world, Ohio's Republican Secretary of State, who also served as Ohio's co-chair for the Bush-Cheney campaign, refused to allow non-partisan international and United Nations observers the access they requested to monitor the Ohio vote. While such access is routinely demanded by the U.S. government in third world nations, it was banned in the American heartland.

• A post-election headline from the Akron Beacon Journal cites a critical report by twelve prominent social scientists and statisticians, reporting: "Analysis Points to Election ‘Corruption': Group Says Chance of Exit Polls Being So Wrong in '04 Vote is One-in-959,000."

• Citing "Ohio's Odd Numbers," investigative reporter Christopher Hitchens, a Bush supporter, says in Vanity Fair: "Given what happened in that key state on Election Day 2004, both democracy and common sense cry out for a court-ordered inspection of its new voting machines."

That's from the book's introduction. You can also catch Bob on last weekend's Laura Flanders show on Air America. (last third of the show) His answer to the book's question seems to be a cautious yes, although he's not pushing for an armed resistance yet like this former pentagon employee. Not yet anyway...(Long DKos interview with her that I missed.)

posted by Philip Shropshire at 4:49 AM
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Warner Brothers never released this pilot for the "Global Frequency", written by Warren Ellis, one of the annoyingly gifted writers who makes up the Brit Invasion. Over the last several days the pilot appeared on the Internets, as a bittorrent link. Warren says he has nothing to do with it and hasn't even seen the pilot. Right, coming from a guy who is Aleph. Of course, I'm not sure of the legality of downloading the pilot, so I walked over to a drug dealer's house--where I believe he was consorting with terrorists, spam kings, nigerian fraudsters and diebold technicians--and I watched it there. What can I say: he has no regard for the law. That would certainly explain why its on my computer, if it were (Jaco gave me free cocaine and a cd)... It's way better than Alias, on par with La Femme Nikita, feels a lot like X-Files but not near the best episodes, although that could change if the series had time to grow. Or if Warner Brothers would air it. Starts off with Radiohead's "There There" which I like a lot. Steals moves and scenes from Bladerunner, the Matrix and the aforementioned X-Files. Michele Forbes is great as Mirando Zero as she's a complete badass here (as opposed to a bureaucrat with a gun in the comics) and could hang out with Neo and the gang. She certainly dresses like them. Her fight scenes were really good. It should have been picked up, although I get the strong vibe that its topic matter (a rogue NSA agent who does stuff and creates hidden detention centers) might have been what scared the Warner Brothers suits. Remember when Max Headroom ran that political episode where everything kind of got done on television and the machines were never checked and then that show got cancelled...?

There is also a nice Future Shock science fictional vibe about a show that centers around a seemingly unstoppable global network who sticks it to the man while saving lives being distributed by seemingly unstoppable global protocol that sticks it to the man and tells me about a really good show. Karmic. If they can figure out how not to spend 1 million an episode we could see the Global Frequency online no matter what the suits say. Can you imagine an uncensored Warren Ellis television script? Good lord. This could be the future of televised distribution. You combine that with Open Media...They need some televised version of google ads and it could probably fund itself.

We are all on the global frequency and its very cool.

posted by Philip Shropshire at 4:46 AM
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Tuesday, June 21, 2005. *

"Watch this video (quicktime) (part 2 here)
of an Arabic-speaking former soldier, Aidan Delgado, who faced abuse and attacks after filing for Conscientious Objector status.
His compassionate and powerful talk includes detailed Geneva Convention violations and shockingly personal accounts of the inhumanity he witnessed and experienced."

On the classic phenomenon of dehumanizing the enemy via language.

"In English, or in army usage it has the exact same meaning or connotation as 'gook' or 'charlie' or 'nigger.' it's very very prevalent in the military. only on a handful of occasions did I every hear Iraqis referred to as Iraqis.
The rest of the time it was haji this and haji that...and all of this contributed to an atmosphere that brutalizes civilians and ultimately brutalized the prisoners that we had under our thumb at Abu Ghraib."

via Tom Feeley's excellent Information Clearing House

posted by Youngfox at 9:32 PM
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Once again with the New Yorker: there’s a profile this week of Patrick Henry College, a fundamentalist institution which emphasizes training students for political careers. Here’s a description of the curriculum:

Still, when students enroll at Patrick Henry, they sign a ten-part statement of faith, agreeing that, among other things, Hell is a place where “all who die outside of Christ shall be confined in conscious torment for eternity.” The curriculum for the first two years follows a “Christian Classical” model—basically, Western Civ from a Biblical perspective. Students read Plato, Aristotle, Virgil, Locke, Shakespeare, Milton, Tolstoy, Dostoyevsky, Beckett. They also study Euclidean geometry and biology; the school uses a standard science textbook, but the professor, Jennifer Gruenke, who also has a Ph.D. from the University of Virginia, tells students that the earth was created in a week.
posted by Uncle $cam at 4:05 PM
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Cheney's Last Throes (Blog Post and Podcast)
I've finally managed to add audio to my blog and have recorded my last few political poems and song parodies as podcasts.

In my latest blog post and podcast, I comment on and (in the case of my podcast) sing about Cheney's claim that the Iraq insurgency is in its last throes. Here's how Cheney's Last Throes begins:

Cheney's Last Throes (Sing To "On Top Of Old Smokey")
By Madeleine Begun Kane

Dick says the insurgents
Are in their last throes,
The war's almost over,
We're beating our foes.

Iraq violence surges.
It's gotten much worse.
Yet Cheney keeps telling
Lies chapter and verse.

When ABC's Terry
Dared question Dick's lie...

The rest of my song parody is here:
Cheney's Last Throes Blog Post

And my Cheney's Last Throes Podcast is here:
Cheney's Last Throes Podcast
posted by Mad Kane at 12:08 PM
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Monday, June 20, 2005. *
In a fiery post at, David Swanson takes on the bullshit complaint that the DSM and other leaked pre-war memos are "old news":
So, the question arises, when was this new news? At what point did it become old news to report that Bush had decided by the summer of 2002 to go to war and to use false justifications related to weapons of mass destruction and ties to terrorism? Of course, in one sense anything we discover now about secret goings on three years ago is old news ? but that sense of being old news doesn't seem to spare us details of, for example, the Michael Jackson trial or the steroids in sports scandals. In those and many other cases, we're treated to news that's about old events. By that definition of old news we could have skipped Whitewater altogether.
Swanson also takes the Washington Post to task, both for Dana Milbank's lunatic tirade masquerading as a newspaper column and for the paper's shoddy pre-war coverage.
posted by The Continental Op at 9:34 PM
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WASHINGTON - A Senate panel is probing allegations that FBI agents in Saudi Arabia sat on leads in the Sept. 11 investigation and then destroyed piles of secret documents related to the case, it was reported yesterday.

The FBI's legal attachés in Riyadh had papers marked secret spilling out of file drawers and time-sensitive documents left untranslated when a supervisor showed up a year after the 2001 attacks...

I find it curious that there's a lot of overlap in each of these stories, which led me to my original thought that something big on the 9/11 investigation is about to go “pop”.
posted by Uncle $cam at 8:28 PM
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The 12th edition of Carnival of the Un-Capitalists is up, and it's a scientific bonanza! No, sorry, there's no debate on creationism / intelligent design -v- reality (eg. evolution), but there are quite a few good postings on topics such as weaponization of space, environmental science, organic farming, peak oil, and low tech WMD the U.S. has been using in Iraq.
posted by Uncle $cam at 8:05 PM
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Rumsfeld (left) and Al-Zarqawi (right)

Two sides at war with each other – the United States and an al Qaida-linked group in Iraq - have found a common target, the Arabic television channel Aljazeera.

If US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld has accused Aljazeera of attacking the image of the US, the leader of the al Qaida-linked group Abu Musab al-Zarqawi has charged the Arabic channel of being a mouthpiece for the Americans.

Rumsfeld a few days back, for the second time this month, attacked Aljazeera's news coverage, accusing the Arab satellite channel of pounding "day after day after day" the United States's image.
posted by A.Q. at 5:09 PM
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DSM: The right-wing goes bonkers
It should have been predictable. Faced with growing attention to the Downing Street Minutes and other leaked British documents about the run-up to the Iraq war, the right-wingers are trying to discredit them as "fakes". The ostensible basis for their nonsensical claims is that the particular copies of the documents that have been made public are not the originals (which were returned to protect the source) but re-typed copies.

The prize for best effort must go to the Captain's Quarters, which relies on a hair-splitting distinction between "fake" and "fraud". The documents are "fakes", CQ insists, because they're not the originals, even if the content is in fact a perfectly accurate transcription of the originals. While the distinction might be meaningful in some other context, such as an auction of historic documents, it is immaterial as applied to these documents, which are valuable not as artifacts, but as factual records. But, sputters CQ, because the documents are not originals, it isn't possible to authenticate them. Never mind that, as has been widely reported, they have indeed been authenticated by multiple sources including U.S. and British government officials who have verified their accuracy.

Of course, CQ and his ilk aren't interested in the facts and there's no value in trying to reason with them. Instead, we should take the opportunity to hoist them by their own petard (an apt nautical metaphor for the Captain). Will they now admit that the Bible is a "fake"? After all, it exists only in copies, and nobody has ever produced the original for authentication!
posted by The Continental Op at 11:41 AM
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Today, after nearly four years since 9/11, the American people still do not know that thousands of lives can be jeopardized under the unspoken policy of ‘protecting certain foreign business relations.’ The victims family members still do not realize that information and answers they have sought relentlessly for almost 4 years has been blocked due to the unspoken decisions made and disguised under ‘safeguarding certain diplomatic relations.’
-Uncle $cam
posted by Uncle $cam at 11:07 AM
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CIA director Peter Goss says he has "an excellent idea" where Osama bin Laden is. So why hasn't the U.S. captured him? "When you go to the question of dealing with sanctuaries in sovereign states, you're dealing with a problem of our sense of international obligation, fair play," Goss said.

So, let's get this straight. The Bush administration has no compunction about invading and occupying a sovereign state for no good reason. But when it comes to apprehending the suspected mastermind behind the worst mass murder in U.S. history, all of a sudden they're sticklers for sovereignty.

Pull the other one, Peter, it has a bell on it.
posted by The Continental Op at 6:47 AM
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Sunday, June 19, 2005. *
Women who kill their children commonly cite God, the devil and other religious influences for their actions. Although the mothers are also often found to be severely mentally ill or psychotic, the recurring theme of religiosity begs the question: Is religion to blame?

Theologians, sociologists and psychiatrists generally say no. They say religiosity is a common theme among psychotics because hallucinations and delusions usually take familiar forms. [...] But some experts suggest mental illness is harder to detect and treat in faiths more inclined to attribute odd behavior to Satan and trust prayer over medicine.

"They're not seeing this as a mental illness. They're seeing it as the person having demons, perhaps, or a sin problem or not being spiritually fulfilled," said Roger Olson, a theology professor at Baylor's Truett Seminary.

And, in some fundamentalist environments, symptoms of mental illness can appear normal: Obsession over a religious leader can be interpreted as religious fervor, and delusions can be interpreted as religious visions.
posted by Trevor Blake at 7:25 PM
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But Americans, and indeed much of the rest of the world, continue to be lulled into a false sense of complacency by the fact that overt conventional military operations have not yet commenced between the United States and Iran....

...Most Americans, together with the mainstream American media, are blind to the tell-tale signs of war, waiting, instead, for some formal declaration of hostility, a made-for-TV moment such as was witnessed on 19 March 2003.

We now know that the war had started much earlier. Likewise, history will show that the US-led war with Iran will not have begun once a similar formal statement is offered by the Bush administration, but, rather, had already been under way since June 2005, when the CIA began its programme of MEK-executed terror bombings in Iran.

Be sure to also see: Going to Tehran
posted by Uncle $cam at 6:44 PM
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"In April, I was asked to give a short speech to a group of local students who participated in a science fair. I wasn't sure what to say to them, until I saw a newscast the night before the fair. The story was some typically inaccurate fluff piece giving anti-science boneheads 'equal time' with science, as if any ridiculous theory should have equal time against the truth. I sat down with a pad of paper and a pencil and scribbled down this speech. I gave it almost exactly as I wrote it:

"I know a place where the Sun never sets. It's a mountain, and it's on the Moon. It sticks up so high that even as the Moon spins, it's in perpetual daylight. Radiation from the Sun pours down on there day and night, 24 hours a day — well, the Moon's day is actually about 4 weeks long, so the sunlight pours down there 708 hours a day. I know a place where the Sun never shines. It's at the bottom of the ocean. A crack in the crust there exudes nasty chemicals and heats the water to the boiling point. This would kill a human instantly, but there are creatures there, bacteria, that thrive. They eat the sulfur from the vent, and excrete sulfuric acid. I know a place where the temperature is 15 million degrees, and the pressure would crush you to a microscopic dot. That place is the core of the Sun. I know a place where the magnetic fields would rip you apart, atom by atom: the surface of a neutron star, a magnetar. I know a place where life began billions of years ago. That place is here, the Earth. I know these places because I'm a scientist. Science is a way of finding things out. It's a way of testing what's real. It's what Richard Feynman called 'A way of not fooling ourselves.' No astrologer ever predicted the existence of Uranus, Neptune, or Pluto. No modern astrologer had a clue about Sedna, a ball of ice half the size of Pluto that orbits even farther out. No astrologer predicted the more than 150 planets now known to orbit other suns. But scientists did. No psychic, despite their claims, has ever helped the police solve a crime. But forensic scientists have, all the time. It wasn't someone who practices homeopathy who found a cure for smallpox, or polio. Scientists did, medical scientists. No creationist ever cracked the genetic code. Chemists did. Molecular biologists did. They used physics. They used math. They used chemistry, biology, astronomy, engineering. They used science. These are all the things you discovered doing your projects. All the things that brought you here today. Computers? Cell phones? Rockets to Saturn, probes to the ocean floor, PSP, gamecubes, gameboys, X-boxes? All by scientists. Those places I talked about before — you can get to know them too. You can experience the wonder of seeing them for the first time, the thrill of discovery, the incredible, visceral feeling of doing something no one has ever done before, seen things no one has seen before, know something no one else has ever known. No crystal balls, no tarot cards, no horoscopes. Just you, your brain, and your ability to think. Welcome to science. You're gonna like it here."
posted by Trevor Blake at 9:38 AM
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Three decades after the first oil shock rocked its economy, Brazil has nearly shaken its dependence on foreign oil. More vulnerable than even the United States when the 1973 Middle East oil embargo sent gas prices spiraling soaring, Brazil vowed to kick its import habit. Now the country that once relied on outsiders to supply 80 percent of its crude is projected to be self-sufficient within a few years. [...] Today about 40 percent of all the fuel that Brazilians pump into their vehicles is ethanol, known here as alcohol, compared with about 3 percent in the United States. No other nation is using ethanol on such a vast scale. The change wasn't easy or cheap. But 30 years later, Brazil is reaping the return on its investment in energy security while the United States writes checks for $50-a-barrel foreign oil.
posted by Trevor Blake at 9:24 AM
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No shortage of propaganda, and not only from the US re Zarqawi ... hmmm, three helicopters shot down in a 48 hour period and at least one by Strela man portable SAMs ? Heavy on rhetoic, lacking in details ...

Given the tone and wording of the report it may well be prudent to await corroboration from other sources before giving it much credence. But who really knows.
posted by Uncle $cam at 9:02 AM
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Saturday, June 18, 2005. *

About ten members and I proceeded to caravan over to the White House, where we delivered the letter signed by more than 560,000 Americans and 122 Members of Congress demanding answers. There were several hundred protestors at the White House along with least a dozen cameras. In front of all of these witnesses, the White House staff refused to permit any of us to enter. They did take the petitions, but I would think that sitting Members of Congress deserve a bit more respect. [more]

See also: Conyers Slams Washington Post

The fact that I and my fellow Democrats had to stuff a hearing into a room the size of a large closet to hold a hearing on an important issue shouldn't make us the object of ridicule. In my opinion, the ridicule should be placed in two places: first, at the feet of Republicans who are so afraid to discuss ideas and facts that they try to sabotage our efforts to do so; and second, on Dana Milbank and the Washington Post, who do not feel the need to give serious coverage on a serious hearing about a serious matter - whether more than 1700 Americans have died because of a deliberate lie. Milbank may disagree, but the Post certainly owed its readers some coverage of that viewpoint. [more]
posted by Dr. Menlo at 7:32 PM
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Marcus Wesson has been martyred by anti-religious bigots. Wesson is a dedicated Christian man, and lives his life in emulation of the heroes of the Bible. While Wesson still has the support of his friends and family, the courts have found him guilty of murders he did not commit. The press is labelling him a fanatic, an extremist, and worse - only because he did what the Bible said he should do. Wesson faces the death penalty for his God-sanctioned activities.

Just like Lamech, Abram, Abraham, Esau, Jacob, Gideon, Elkanah, Solomon, Ashur, Rehoboam, Abijah, Jehoiada and others, Wesson was a polygamist. Just like Lot, Abraham, and Amram, Wesson had sex with his daughters. Just like Moses, David, Jerimiah, Hosea, Jesus [1] [2] and God, Wesson ordered others to kill children but did not kill them himself.

If these activist judges can strip away Wesson's freedom of religion, then there is no telling where they will stop. Soon, disabled people will be allowed to go to church, slavery will be outlawed and final control of the United States will be seized by vegetarians, advocates of democracy, and menstruating women. Defend the Bible - free Marcus Wesson!
posted by Trevor Blake at 7:47 AM
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Friday, June 17, 2005. *
War On Porn
Do you have a Web site that includes images of naked people? Maybe you link to such sites? According to Wired Magazine, "Under penalty of federal prison terms, new interpretations of existing regulations would require sites that feature photographs or videos of sexual activity to keep records confirming that performers are of legal age." Do you have such records for each and every person in each and every image you host or link to?
posted by Trevor Blake at 1:53 PM
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This is a must read for Chuck Pennacchio and serious Democrats who want to take back both chambers of the Senate and the House.

Update: Vote for Pennacchio in the MoveOn poll. Pennsylvania activists are a bit unhappy that the party establishment is backing Bob Casey Jr. who is pro life, anti stem cell research and is a bit fuzzy on whether he's against arctic drilling. Please vote for Pennacchio. He'd have a better chance if he won the endorsement from MoveOn. I don't know if there are any residency requirements.

posted by Philip Shropshire at 11:17 AM
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Real Life Radical Socialist TV: It's here. And it features two shows that you won't be seeing on the "telly" (they're decisively Brit, where they grow serious radicals) unless you watch Democracy Now everyday. The above is from a 52 minute documentary called "Capitalism and Other Kids stuff". That's "Rex". His job is to keep the toys away from the other kids. I thought it was simple and powerful. Highlights for me had to be the rules of capitalism (the less you make the harder you work), some of the clever backgrounds and the fact that people usually aren't allowed to make these kinds of arguments here in the states. Paddy, our narrator, is like some alt universe John Stossel. It even features cheezy Jackie Chan outtakes at the end. It's a little light on solutions. There's a tactical problem with voting left in winner take all systems. But its heart is in the right place.

The other "show" features footage from Iraq that reminds you that we're slaughtering people in Iraq. It's vicious, or, we're vicious. Targets pretty much go up in smoke. Not much of a trial. I'm sure they were guilty of something. I suppose its the darkest version of Monty Python's "not being seen" sketch that you'll likely ever to see.

posted by Philip Shropshire at 11:15 AM
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Thursday, June 16, 2005. *

Customize your mobile with images from Wooster--proceeds of which go to Keep A Child Alive.

posted by Dr. Menlo at 11:12 PM
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NPR reports on tomato workers' victory
I must confess to a certain ambivalence over the fate of public broadcasting, which has been the subject of much attention lately. On the one hand, far too much of what's on NPR and PBS is middlebrow piffle catering to an audience not unfairly derided as elitist (though it's a pretty lame sort of elitism that favors drivel like Terri Gross and Masterpiece Theatre). On the other hand, I recognize that public broadcasters do provide valuable educational, cultural and news programming that the commercial networks do not offer.

One example of the latter category is the fine report on a recent victory by migrant tomato workers in Florida. Yum Brands, the world's second largest fast food corporation -- they own Taco Bell, Pizza Hut and KFC -- has agreed to conditions that will encourage improved working conditions for employees of its produce suppliers. The NPR report explains how this victory came about as a result of dogged organizing by the workers. It is an example of what a public broadcast service ought to do, and a reminder of why NPR and PBS are worth saving.

(Let me take this opportunity to thank Dr. Menlo for inviting me to join the AmSam crew.)
posted by The Continental Op at 7:05 PM
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Gay Roundup
Being Gay is In the Genes, Say Researchers: "Being gay is nothing to do with your relationship with your mother, your father, or your best friend at boarding school; it is all in the genes, according to the scientific authors of a new book on the subject. Born Gay: The Psychobiology of Sexual Orientation, by Qazi Rahman, a psychobiologist at the University of East London, and Glenn Wilson, a personality specialist from the University of London, reviews research from the last 15 years into why people are gay. The evidence, they conclude, is that people are born with their sexuality defined, and it is not the result of their relationships with other people in their early life, as had been previously thought."

Genes Exert Powerful Effect On Sexual Behavior: "New research has shown that the manipulation of a single gene in female fruit flies can make their sexual behavior resemble that of males, in a study that demonstrates the power of individual genes and the profound impact of genetics on complex sexual behavior."

Televangelist Breached Guidelines: "When televangelist Jimmy Swaggart said he would kill a homosexual who looked at him romantically, he violated the Canadian Association of Broadcasters' ethics code, an industry panel has ruled. Swaggart made the remarks during a discussion of same-sex marriage on a Sept. 12 broadcast that was carried by the Toronto station Omni 1. 'I'm going to be blunt and plain: If one ever looks at me like that, I'm going to kill him and tell God he died,' Swaggart said. Swaggart also said that politicians who are undecided on the issue of same-sex marriage 'all oughta have to marry a pig and live with him forever.'"

Christian Coalition Gay Warning Labels
: "The leader of a conservative Christian lobby group appears to suggest that gays should be required to wear warning labels, although he denies that was his intention. 'We put warning labels on cigarette packs because we know that smoking takes one to two years off the average life span, yet we 'celebrate' a lifestyle that we know spreads every kind of sexually transmitted disease and takes at least 20 years off the average life span according to the 2005 issue of the revered scientific journal Psychological Reports,' Rev. Bill Banuchi, executive director of the New York Christian Coalition told the Mid Hudson News. "
posted by Trevor Blake at 11:30 AM
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Moin Over Mullah: Moin 1384
{Ripped From the Front Page at Scrutiny Hooligans}

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Iran goes to the polls on Khordad 17, 1384 (June 17th, 2005) to elect their next President. What? You didn't know that? I thought that with freedom on the march and all, we'd be interested in a bunch of terror-lovin' bomb magnets acting all democratic. Instead we hear about Osama wandering around Iran and about how election season isn't the best time to go negotiating about nuclear weapons.

Lest you think Iran is some sort of Athenian utopia where the many rule with wisdom and light, know that the eight candidates were chosen by the mighty mighty mullahs of the Guardian Council and that the two 'reformist' candidates weren't on the initial list. Enough Iranians raised a holy ruckus that the Guardians were forced to allow Mustafa Moin and Mohsen Mehr Alizadeh onto the ballot.

You can't know your players without a program, so here are the candidates:
Image Hosted by ImageShack.usAyatollah Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani - Former two-term President, "If in retaliation for every Palestinian martyred in Palestine they kill and execute, not inside Palestine, five Americans, or Britons or Frenchmen [the Israelis] would not continue these wrongs.
"It is not difficult to kill Americans or Frenchmen. It is a bit difficult to kill [Israelis]. But there are so many [Americans and Frenchmen] everywhere in the world".
- May 5, 1989

Image Hosted by ImageShack.usMohsen Rezai - “[President Khatami’s second term] has been marked by submissive diplomacy, missed opportunities, and unilateral concessions in exchange for minimal financial returns.” - April 27, 2003

Image Hosted by ImageShack.usAli Larijani - “Making any concessions on nuclear technology is tantamount to the biggest treason." - March 9, 2005

Image Hosted by ImageShack.usMohammad-Baqer Qalibaf - a former commander of the elite Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps’ Air Force, stepped down as the chief of the paramilitary police force, the State Security Forces, to run in the upcoming elections. [...], But his efforts to appeal to young voters by showing off his flying skills, shaving off his beard and donning trendy suits foundered when rivals publicised a letter he and 23 other Revolutionary Guards commanders wrote to incumbent President Mohammad Khatami in July 1999, urging him to “use every available means” to put down a nationwide protest movement led by pro-democracy students or “they would take matters into their own hands”.

Image Hosted by ImageShack.usMahmoud Ahmadinejad - He is seen to be an ultra-conservative, having also been a top commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, the regime’s ideological army.
"We did not have a revolution in order to have democracy". - May 24, 2005

Image Hosted by ImageShack.usMehdi Karroubi - He has been a close ally of incumbent President Mohammad Khatami and was a founding member of the Association of Militant Clerics, which grouped together Shiite clerics in the government opposed to the more traditional faction, the Association of Militant Clergy.

Image Hosted by ImageShack.usMohsen Mehralizadeh - perhaps the most obscure candidate in the race, is a Vice-President in the present administration of President Mohammad Khatami, serving as the head of the National Sports Organization.

Image Hosted by ImageShack.usMostafa Moin - His candidacy is supported by the Islamic Iran Participation Front. Moin announced that he would choose Mohammad Reza Khatami as his First Vice President if he were elected. Moin has had a hard time convincing former reformist voters to give him another chance after eight frustrating years for incumbent President Mohammad Khatami. The main university union and its supporters appear to be leaning towards a boycott -- either in a protest against entrenched hardliners or simple apathy.

After being initially disqualified from standing in the polls by unelected hardliners and then approved after the intervention of Ayatollah Khamenei, Moin alienated many former supporters of Khatami, who called on him to decline Khamenei’s “grace”.

Image Hosted by ImageShack.usAnd here is some of the context as reported by Iran Focus-News: "Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei today announced on state television that voting in the upcoming June 17 presidential elections was a "religious duty". “The enemy has been trying for months to make this election one that lacks any vitality, but contrary to the enemy’s expectations, its polls also show that a majority of people will take part in the election”, Khamenei said. Analysts noted that Khamenei usually gives an “accurate” impression of the final vote count prior to elections and his mention of “a majority” means that the official tally will be “fixed” to stand about 50 percent."

and from the UPI: "Only four of more than 200 candidates were allowed to run for the presidency in 1997, and just 10 of 814 during the next election in 2001. Moreover, last year about 2,500 reformist candidates were barred from running in parliamentary elections.

Along with Moin and Alizadeh, the Council had disqualified all but six of 1014 potential candidates in the upcoming elections. The only candidates to make the cut were four former revolutionary guard commanders and a nominally moderate cleric, Mehdi Karrubi, an adviser to Khamenei said to be influenced by Ayatollah Khomeini, the Shiite demagogue who hijacked the 1979 Islamic revolution."

via OpenDemocracy, Iranian newspaper E'temad: "A minority of 15 per cent of the people could reach a majority of 85 per cent in the Majlis and if the people do not take part in the presidential election, it is possible that this happen again. If in the presidential election 60 to 70 per cent of the people do not cast their votes, how can Iran deal with its external threats?"

Image Hosted by ImageShack.usIn a nuttyshell, Iran is ruled by clerics who have a President as their second in command. The President has some limited powers, granted by the clerics, and it is through the Presidency that many hope reform might come to Iran. From where I'm sitting, it seems as likely as the Undersecretary for Fish and Wildlife influencing Bush foreign policy decisions. Iran is undergoing a long, slow process wherein the fundamentalists constrain the rights of the citizenry while providing a comparatively decent standard of living for most. Meanwhile, a rising tide of young people who lost their parents to the war with Iraq are manifesting an apathy that Kurt Cobain would've been proud of. It's likely that fewer than 50% of the voting age electorate will get out to cast a ballot. Having watched the non-nuclear Iraq get spanked by the U.S. military while the nuclear North Korea gets chat time, the Iranians are pursuing nuclear weapons.

Our friend on the right, Tigerhawk, cautiously asserts that the Bush administration is rooting for Mostafa Moin. Mainstream media sources are leaning towards a run-off victory for Rafsanjani: "Polls in the country of 67 million people show the canny pragmatist, who masterminded arms-for-hostages swaps with the United States in the 1980s, remains short of the 50 percent support he needs to avoid a run-off against his closest rival.

His nearest challengers are reformist Mostafa Moin, 54, who has pledged to tackle human rights abuses, and conservative Mohammad Baqer Qalibaf, 43, an ex-police chief rumored to enjoy the backing of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

An upset Moin victory could not be ruled out and the outcome of a Rafsanjani run-off against Moin or Qalibaf, possibly on June 24, would be hard to predict, analysts said."

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posted by Gordon Smith at 10:37 AM
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The Conyers Hearings will be carried on C-Span3, which, oddly enough, is not widely available.

They will be available on the world wide web at 2:30 pm ET here:

You can listen at Pacifica Radio, which lists the time from 2:00 pm through 6pm ET

For more information:
posted by m at 10:33 AM
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Wednesday, June 15, 2005. *
The United States has asked Israel to check the possibility of pumping oil from Iraq to the oil refineries in Haifa. The request came in a telegram last week from a senior Pentagon official to a top Foreign Ministry official in Jerusalem.

Haaretz - Israel News - Article
posted by A.Q. at 12:00 PM
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“Think of it as Kyoto for commuters.” - Dan Neil, Los Angeles Times

1. Your car emits 10,000 lbs (three times its weight!) in carbon dioxide each year.
2. You enroll in TerraPass.
3. TerraPass members finance projects that reduce industrial carbon dioxide emissions.
4. Your TerraPass purchase is certified to eliminate the equivalent of your car’s carbon dioxide pollution, helping to preserve the environment for future generations.
posted by ben at 4:28 AM
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Tuesday, June 14, 2005. *

(Pleasure Island sounds nice . . . )

Although at least two Americans I've talked to who are leaving the states are going to New Zealand . . . America seems to be experiencing the beginning of a brain drain some of us have been predicting for years.

Do you have a personal tripwire, which, if triggered, will cause you to move if you're a progressive currently living in the States? What are you holding out for? Or do you plan to stay until the very end, ever the optimist and/or fighter? Is fighting still possible? If so, how?

posted by Dr. Menlo at 9:28 PM
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With an estimated 1,000 people dying there every day as a result of hunger and disease caused by war, it is an appropriate question. But the extent of this coverage of noncoverage is reaching the absurd: print, radio, TV, Internet - they all want to know why they themselves are not writing articles and broadcasting programs about the Congo.

And it is not just me noticing this. In March, Reuters even held a seminar on "forgotten crises," at which the Congo topped the list, and on BBC World Service the other day, I heard a newscaster ask: "Shouldn't this be getting more attention?"

Indeed. What the world media are missing is one of the deadliest conflicts since World War II: 3.8 million people have died in the Congo since 1998, dwarfing not only the biggest of natural catastrophes, such as December's South Asia tsunami, but also other manmade horrors, such as Darfur.

Congo's situation is complicated - any war on such a scale would be - but the outlines of the current stage of the conflict are straightforward enough for any journalist to summarize. [more]
Another story from Africa that has just started to make an appearance in western media is "Operation Murambatsvina" in Zimbabwe.

Still, I don't think it's causing too many waves, despite the bump in coverage over the last week.
posted by Bill at 12:34 PM
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Cryptome has mirrored the leaked British Cabinet papers in a .zip file that show the Bush will to war with Iraq, for the sketchiest of reasons . The site also offers some toothsome analysis.

Looks like I have a bunch of reading to do...

Link gleaned at Blah3

Help get these papers out into light.
posted by m at 11:19 AM
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The Path of War Timeline - By Larisa Alexandrovna and Muriel Kane, Raw Story

Wonder how it is that Iraq was attacked? The timeline offered above illustrates (with supporting links) the trajectory of the Bush regimes deadly neocon folly through mid 2003, just past "Mission Accomplished" and just before "Bring Em On"

Timeline link gleaned at the always excellent mousemusings, where Timeline of Looting and Incompetency appeared last October
posted by m at 8:41 AM
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Law, Labor, Behavior, Belief - Whose Responsibility?
Off-Duty Behavior Can Affect Job: Some companies are cracking down on employees' off-duty behavior, raising questions about how far employers should go in policing what workers do on their own time. Employees are being disciplined or fired for such behaviors as drinking on their own time, using competitors' products and displaying political bumper stickers. No one tracks the number of such cases, but some workers rights' groups are concerned that the practice is on the upswing. [...] Lynne Gobbell was fired from her job packing insulation by her Moulton, Ala.-based employer for displaying a John Kerry bumper sticker on her car, according to the Associated Press and numerous media reports.

Pharmacist sues over 'morning after pill': An Illinois pharmacist who refuses to sell the “morning after pill” has filed suit to challenge the state government’s order that the emergency contraception be available “without delay.” [...] Gov. Rod Blagojevich, responding to complaints by two Chicago women that a pair of local pharmacists refused to sell them Plan B, issued his rule on April 1 ordering pharmacists to make the contraceptive available “without delay.” “The thing to remember is pharmacists are free not to stock and dispense contraceptives, but once they decide to enter that market they don’t have the right to turn people away,” said Blagojevich’s spokeswoman, Abby Ottenhoff.
posted by Trevor Blake at 8:23 AM
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SHANGHAI, China -- The Web site may say Microsoft, but in China, Big Brother is still apparently watching.

Computer users on Microsoft's MSN China portal get a scolding message any time they type in terms like 'democracy,' 'freedom' or 'human rights.' The site then tells them to delete the prohibited words.

Microsoft said it's cooperating with Chinese government efforts to censor language on blogs in the communist country, noting that's the requirement for offering services in China.

It's not just politically sensitive words that aren't allowed. Obscenities and sexual references also are barred.
However, the restrictions appear to apply only to the subject lines that users type in. Writing them into the text, with a less controversial subject heading, seems not to be a problem."

And this is why I'm going to be a Mac User for as long as possible.
posted by platts42 at 4:53 AM
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Monday, June 13, 2005. *
My friend sent this to me. I have no idea what Artic Beacon is or how legit this is but figured some of you might find it interesting.

Highly recognized former chief economist in Labor Department now doubts official 9/11 story, claiming suspicious facts and evidence cover-up indicate government foul play and possible criminal implications.

Link to Article
posted by ben at 5:52 PM
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Sunday, June 12, 2005. *
Oregon Catholics Demonstrate Fiscal Priorities
The Eugene Register-Guard reports: U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Elizabeth Perris has given the Archdiocese of Portland an extension until Nov. 15 to file a plan to pay the claims of sex-abuse plaintiffs and other creditors.

The Oregonian reports: One of the 124 parishes in Western Oregon has gotten the go-ahead to withdraw all of the disputed cash it has on deposit with the archdiocese. [...] The ruling by U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Elizabeth Perris enables the coastal church to begin building a new sanctuary. [...] Parishioners have raised or pledged at least $1.6 million toward the construction. Besides the $775,000 being held by the archdiocese, an additional $214,415 is deposited in a bank account controlled by the parish building and fundraising committees, according to a filing by the church's attorney, Wilson C. Muhlheim. An additional $680,685 is pledged for the new sanctuary.

[Come up with a plan - just a plan - on how to compensate victims for decades of child abuse: get back to us in a year. Release money held to compensate victims for decades of child abuse so we can build another another one more need a bigger one super magic temple to the invisible monster that lives in the sky: hell yeah!]
posted by Trevor Blake at 10:46 PM
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James Sensenbrenner
On June 10th 2005, the United States government demonstrated the sort of democracy it wants to build in Iraq and elsewhere. When criticized, Republican House Judiciary Committee chairman Representative James Sensenbrenner walked out of the meeting, taking the gavel with him, and ordered the microphones turned off. [200+ articles via Google News.]

"The bourgeoisie is many times stronger than we. To give it the weapon of freedom of the press is to ease the enemy’s cause, to help the class enemy. We do not desire to end in suicide, so we will not do this." - Lenin, Pravda 1912.
posted by Trevor Blake at 10:28 AM
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Saturday, June 11, 2005. *

That's jazz rock hero John Mclaughlin.


Today's Interspersed Theme: Girl with the Beautiful Tone

Esthero "That Girl" (only vid I could find)

Mahavishnu Orchestra Covers by Gregg Bendian's Mahavishnu Project
Try "You Know You Know" and "Meeting of the Spirits" (Real Actual Jazz Rock That's Downloadable!)
Massive Attack's "Protection", featuring Everything But the Girl vocalist
Only Goldfrapp tune I like "Pilots"
Try All The Superior Koop Vids but "Summer Sun" makes you want to live, even if they have stolen your vote.

Trail of Dead's "Caterwaul" (rips off Led Zep's "Black Dog" but in a good way...)
NERD's "Maybe"
Portishead's "Glory Box"
Terranova's "Chase the Blues Away"
Eighty Mile Beach's "Red Helicopters" (need more clarinet in acid jazz)
Zero 7 "Destiny Live"
And I Gotta Have More Cowbell! "Little Sister"
Broadcast's "Papercuts" (I am amazed by this band.)

posted by Philip Shropshire at 2:42 PM
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When a triumphal George W. Bush declared his intention to cash in on his “political capital” in the days after the election, he was merely reaffirming his commitment to hand over the reins of power to a higher authority than even Dick Cheney. The religious right, with its enormous political stake in the “End Times” outcome of America's latest Imperial misadventures in Iraq and Afghanistan, have seized upon Bush's continued pledge to transform the “Homeland” into a locked down religious theme park with the organizational zeal they had previously reserved for bilking gullible parishioners out of their social security checks.

Like Halliburton, Christ Inc. has become the latest recipient of taxpayer largesse, having won the contract to keep the media out of the news business, and to ensure that power speaks to truth, as opposed to the other way around. Purging the “news” of news is just the latest attempt by religious Brownshirts to stamp their poisonous insignia on every major institution that they don't control lock, stock and barrel.

[article continues]
posted by Trevor Blake at 9:09 AM
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Warbloggers, take heed. Please.

(This is adapted from an earlier essay by Hedges.)
posted by Bill at 12:58 AM
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Friday, June 10, 2005. *
For 15 years, in defiance of a Supreme Court ruling, Larry Booher taught creationism in his high school biology class. He even compiled a textbook of sorts and passed out copies in three-ring binders. The school superintendent didn't know what was going on. Neither did the school board president. Then, they got an anonymous tip. [...] The Supreme Court ruled in 1987 that creationism, the belief that God created the universe as explained in the Bible, is a religious belief — not science — and may not be taught in public schools along with evolution. "Creationism is not biology and has no place in a biology class," said Kent Willis, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Virginia. "What makes it wrong is not the theory of creationism, but the teaching of creationism as part of a science class."
posted by Trevor Blake at 8:29 AM
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Worth a listen, This American life had a show last week called:
Godless America
At a time when House Majority Leader Tom Delay calls for enacting a "Biblical worldview" in government, when Christians are asserting their ideals in the selection of judges, in public school science classes and elsewhere, This American Life spends an hour trying to remember why anyone liked the separation of church and state in the first place. Julia Sweeney, among others, gives a full-throated defense of godlessness. You may be surprised and educated on this one...
....the link is direct to a ram file (realplayer)but for those that dislike realplayer there is Real Alternative 1.39
-Uncle $cam
posted by Uncle $cam at 4:40 AM
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Thursday, June 09, 2005. *
Jim Schultz narrates events as they happen. His recent posts warn, ominously, that it looks like the military will be unleashed on the mass of protesters around the country.
posted by Bill at 2:02 PM
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Outside the oil and gas junta that controls two and a half branches of our government (the half soon to be whole is the judiciary), there was a good deal of envy at the late British election among those Americans who are serious about politics. Little money was spent by the three parties and none for TV advertising. Results were achieved swiftly and cheaply. Best of all, the three party leaders were quizzed sharply and intelligently by ordinary citizens known quaintly as subjects, thanks to the ubiquitous phantom crown so unlike our nuclear-taloned predatory eagle. Although news of foreign countries seldom appears in our tightly censored media (and good news, never), those of us who are addicted to C-SPAN and find it the one truly, if unconsciously, subversive media outlet in these United States are able to observe British politics in full cry.

I say “subversive” not only because C-SPAN is apt to take interesting books seriously but also because of its live coverage of the Senate and the House of Representatives, the only look we are ever allowed at the mouthpieces of our masters up close and, at times, most reflective of a government more and more remote from us, unaccountable and repressive. To watch the righteous old prophet Byrd of West Virginia, the sunny hypocrisy of Biden of Delaware—as I write these hallowed names, I summon up their faces, hear their voices, and I am covered with C-SPAN goose bumps.
posted by A.Q. at 10:51 AM
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The BBC is reporting:

A White House official edited government reports in ways that played down links between global warming and emissions
posted by ben at 8:26 AM
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Wednesday, June 08, 2005. *
Interesting insights and difficult questions posed by Rebecca Solnit...
posted by Bill at 4:12 PM
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The NY Times editorializes on the "Crumbs for Africa" promised by George Bush following a bit of pressure from Tony Blair to buck up on aid to crisis-ridden areas of the continent.

Noting that Bush relented by pledging "$674 million in emergency aid that Congress had already approved for needy countries," the editors of the Times went on to add a bit of background:
The United States currently gives just 0.16 percent of its national income to help poor countries, despite signing a United Nations declaration three years ago in which rich countries agreed to increase their aid to 0.7 percent by 2015. Since then, Britain, France and Germany have all announced plans for how to get to 0.7 percent; America has not. The piddling amount Mr. Bush announced yesterday is not even 0.007 percent.

What is 0.7 percent of the American economy? About $80 billion. That is about the amount the Senate just approved for additional military spending, mostly in Iraq. It's not remotely close to the $140 billion corporate tax cut last year.
Or, to contextualize this figure in a different way, Cursor points out that $674 million buys only about three days in Iraq. To go even further, we might wish to take this news into account:
Global military spending in 2004 broke the $1 trillion barrier for the first time since the Cold War, boosted by the U.S. war against terror and the growing defense budgets of India and China, a European think tank said Tuesday.

Led by the United States, which accounted for almost half of all military expenditure, the world spent $1.035 trillion on defense, equal to 2.6 percent of global gross domestic product, the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute said.
I dunno about you, but I'd prefer to see my country spend money helping people fight off infectious diseases, combat malnutrition, and the like, rather than ensuring that Boeing and Raytheon are well fed.
posted by Bill at 4:10 PM
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Dopey Decision Explained In Verse
Some bloggers think the Supreme Court's medical marijuana decision is illogical and hypocritical, while others think it's downright mean. So I figured I should let the Supreme Court Justices explain their dopey decision in verse. Here's how my poem starts:

Dopey Decision Explained In Verse
By Madeleine Begun Kane

"How dare you smoke that evil grass!
Your pain is no excuse.
The doctor who prescribed your weed,
We'll string up with a noose.

The state that told you toking's cool
Has overstepped the law..."

The rest of my Dopey Decision Explained In Verse is here.
posted by Mad Kane at 12:22 PM
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(thankx to Doc for the weekly blog of the week. And this next story I think is the next evolution of blogging, real honest to god reporting with a point of view. It takes a bit more time and you will need a pencil/pen and some paper but you'll get more out of it than repeating something Atrios said about Paul Krugman...)

(Kathy Dopp of US Count Votes)

Imagine, if you will, a country that hadn't audited its elections in decades. Imagine that one party (the Republicans) owned 80 percent of the voting machines. Imagine, aside from outright theft in 2000 and probable theft in 2004, that there have been suspicious down ticket results since 1996 affecting a number of senate seats including Max Cleland's improbable loss. Imagine that there were voting irregularities in over a dozen states including Pennsylvania. Imagine an opposition party that doesn't make this issue its number one priority. And, try, if you can, to imagine how you can change a country--caught in a transparently evil imperialist war, with corrupt liars at the highest levels, and where the courts offer no sanctuary for justice and fair hearing--with a vote that you can no longer trust?

Imagine no more if you live in the United States. Welcome to your nightmarish Kafkaesque reality. Scary scary stuff as SCTV's Count Floyd used to say....

Or at least that's the primary message I got from Kathy Dopp's talk Monday night in Oakland at St. Andrews Lutheran Church. Ms. Dopp runs the site US Count Votes. Her speech came mostly from this Powerpoint slide presentation that you can take a look at here.

Here were the horrific scary scary highlights:

  • Insider "vote embezzlers" (her catchy phrase) have had free reign to count our votes with proprietary software and no audits.

  • Her group claims there has been evidence of vote tampering in up to 12 states, including Pennsylvania.

  • Dopp said Hillary Clinton's vote verification bill sucked (not her exact words) and that she instead backs Rep. Rush Holt's bill, "Voter Confidence and Increased Accessibility Act of 2005"...Barbara Boxer for President 2008.

  • Local CMU Prof. Mike Shamos is a major player for the Dark Side as he argues that it's okay if unaccountable paperless systems produce false results. The fact that he works at an institution tied to military contracts makes you feel even safer.

  • The Ukraine vote was overturned with a difference of 2 percent in the exit polling while ours was 5 percent, although as someone in the 20 plus crowd noted the overturned results in the Ukraine wouldn't have happened without 500 thousand angry folks taking to the streets...of course, I don't think that would have worked here knowing the players, but it would have been nice to have found out...

  • Without the vote, nothing else matters.

There's more depressing stuff and keep in mind these folks aren't lightweights, either on the board or the ones doing their stats--unless folks that have PH Ds are lightweights....

I found her solutions to be the most interesting and the thing keeping me from throwing myself off a bridge (not that I would ever do that for you Richard Scaife black ops guys out there ha ha...just a figure of speech. Still not a partaker of the drugs or the drink, or suicidal in any way.).

Their plan is to raise money and create their own independent auditing database by 2006. I wish George Soros would give them the $1 million they need to do the work and also follow the Daily Kos suggestion to start selling auditable machines. (I need a grant too George since wishes are fishes...)Once that's in place--and it would be vast, over 30000 precincts covered--you could take the data to the courts. Her only request is that candidates (cough Kerry cough) not concede before the vote has been challenged and verified.

Of course, and you can probably see this, you would have to trust the courts to be fair and impartial, which they're not. You have to give it to the Republicans: they fought for the courts. Clinton and the Democrats didn't think it was a big deal, or worth fighting for. Had to appease those same business interests that vote Republican anyway. I still hope Dopp is successful and I hope my idea (I raised my hand. Remember: I'm not an objective corporate media journalist. It matters to me if my vote doesn't count. I can't move offworld when the fundies come to "save" me.) about creating open sourced exit polling also takes off. The guys who did the polling in 2004 won't make their results public. She said that would need a million too.

She also waffled a bit when I asked her why the Democrats don't make this their primary issue. She kind of danced around that issue all night long, thanking the Greens, noting that Edwards would have pursued the recount but...Anyway, I wish the Dems would not only campaign on Delay corruption but the corruption of the voting process. Its a winner as an issue. It forces the Republicans, who are offering us a very dark and suspicious silence (If you had won legitimately wouldn't you want to remove doubt?) on this issue, on the defensive. Gawd knows if the issues were reversed that would be the continuous GOP meme and rightfully so. I just can't shake that Washington Generals Party meme, the other less ruthless business party that also caters to the Republican Iron triangle + theocrats base that never fights for principle (The dems lose two national elections and they can't make ballot integrity an issue and I raised my hand for that one too...) and seems designed to lose...Scary scary stuff.

posted by Philip Shropshire at 11:07 AM
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