American Samizdat

Tuesday, July 31, 2007. *

I wish I could say that I was watching Sicko as a completely disinterested party. Unfortunately, I'm one of those 50 million Americans that doesn't have health insurance--

--quick aside: I indirectly work part time for UPMC. I even have an UPMC identification card. But part timers don't get health care benefits for the smaller company that I work for and apparently UPMC, with only 400 million in profits last time I checked, can't afford to cover me as well. Quick note to all you folks who spout AMA propaganda about the "long waits" whenever single payer comes up: I would prefer long waits to never seeing a doctor at all--

--True, I'm in good health (I think. Nothing has fallen off, so far....) and I walk a lot but it would be nice to talk to a doctor other than in an emergency room. The main thing I took away from the movie is that other people in other countries live much better than we do, period. They get better health care, better education, and probably better lives. And yes there are other reasons why they want us to hate France as Mike Moore makes clear in this clip. I guess this is why your usual corporate media outlets don't do more journalism about How People Live abroad. One: They rather you didn't know and two: you might notice that where people have the six week vacations and unemployment insurance that pays better than our minimum wage they tend to have real opposition/labor parties, as opposed to pretend ones that think NAFTA is going great. I guess, and this could be the theme of all of Mike Moore's movies: I live in a country that really doesn't give a fuck about me. Hail America and so forth....

Moore also offers a number of solutions at his website. I'm definitely printing out that Sicko health care card above. Its the only health card I'll have. There's also this:

ACTION PAGE
Tell congress to pass HR 676 now.
31101 submissions so far.

Moore also points out that there is a House Bill that would simply expand Medicare to everybody. Sounds good. I'm sure the insurance lobbies and the AMA will take a break on this and let it pass without objection or outcry or multimillion scary ad campaigns. Yes I like to openly amuse myself. Related: there was a big debate recently between Nathan Newman and Ezra Klein about whether the states should take the lead on providing health care or the feds. I found myself on the Nathan Newman side of things here. Let the states take a crack at it. The federal Republican only filibuster will kill all meaningful change in health care policy and other issues of meaning as well.

posted by Philip Shropshire at 11:55 AM
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Oil Law Update
I spent a part of my weekend catching up on the CNN/YouTube debates. Seems as though they felt it was best to ask the hardest questions (What are you going to do about Global Warming? How will you fund your proposed programs now that the US is practically bankrupt?) of the marginal candidates. Nothing against Kucinich, Gravel, Richardson or Dodd; but if the media is primping Obama, Clinton, and Edwards for a win, you'd think they'd get the big puzzlers. They got more face time overall, but the treatment was softer.

Another thing I noticed was Edwards' grousing about the Iraqi Parliament taking a vacation. Edwards tried to put this on the White House, indicating they had allowed the Parliament the time off. What went unquestioned was why the Iraqi Parliament would be in a position to have to ask the White House's permission to conduct its business in the first place. Edwards hinted that the vacation would lead to further deaths of American soldiers. Yesterday, American leadership's dismay over this vacation was all over the news. Edwards and many, many others--Democrat and Rupublican alike--would like to see the Iraqis pass some key pieces of legislation before they will consider removing American soldiers from Iraq. Just what is on the docket for the Iraqi Parliament when they return in September? The oil law, of course, the proposal to distribute up to 75% of Iraqi oil revenues to multinational oil companies for the next 30 years. NPR yesterday uncritically reported the White House is saying this law needs to be passed to cut funding to the insurgents.

The Democratic front-runners have so far been silent about this law, while being dodgy about when or why American soldiers would be removed from Iraq. If this law passes without a peep from the Democratic party, they will have been complicit in perhaps the largest heist in the history of the world.

Anything They Say has a good round-up of the recent state of affairs vis a vis the oil law.

But I'll leave the last words to the workers of the Iraqi Federation of Oil Unions, who have been fighting the passage of this law from the beginning, and who have the broad support of the Iraqi population to do so.



posted by the thistle at 8:52 AM
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Monday, July 30, 2007. *
The Life and Times of the CIA
The American people may not know it but they have some severe problems with one of their official governmental entities, the Central Intelligence Agency. Because of the almost total secrecy surrounding its activities and the lack of cost accounting on how it spends the money covertly appropriated for it within the defense budget, it is impossible for citizens to know what the CIA's approximately 17,000 employees do with, or for, their share of the yearly $44 billion-$48 billion or more spent on "intelligence." This inability to account for anything at the CIA is, however, only one problem with the Agency and hardly the most serious one either.
...
posted by Uncle $cam at 10:46 PM
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Lenin's Tomb proprietor tallies up the savagery and horrific toll on Iraqis of their "liberation".
posted by Uncle $cam at 10:39 PM
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FBI, Congress: Sibel Edmonds case 'unclassified'



Sibel Edmonds, President, National Security Whistleblowers Coalition, will discuss being fired by the FBI in March 2002 for reporting shoddy work and security breaches that may have prevented the 9/11 attacks. She will explain firsthand how government secrecy can be abusive and why defending whistleblowing is a free speech issue. Cosponsored by the Intellectual Freedom Committee and the Committee on Legislation this program is entitled "Paul Reveres or Benedict Arnolds?: Whistleblowing in the Post 9/11 Age".

'unclassified' he says...
posted by Uncle $cam at 8:38 PM
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Perfectly good questions
Part 1 and Round 2. Examples:


What the HELL was going on in Omaha in 1989?

Why was all of Wilhelm Reich’s research burned by the FDA?

Why did Rev. Moon get to crown himself “King of the World” in a ceremony that was attended by members of congress and the Bush administration and held in a congressional building in Washington, DC?
posted by Klintron at 8:00 PM
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Three *different* e-voting systems officially hackable.

Three Vendors, Numerous Failures
Sequoia Voting Systems: They were able to gain physical access to the system by removing screws to bypass locks. They also discovered several ways to overwrite the firmware of the Sequoia system.

Diebold Elections Systems: Testers were able to exploit vulnerabilities in the operating system and take security-related actions that the server did not record in its audit logs.

Hart Intercivic: The team developed a device that caused Hart's system to authorize access codes without poll worker intervention.



Surprise, surprise. Whats more, I'd be willing to bet hard cash money, this problem will not be fixed by the end of 08.
posted by Uncle $cam at 6:00 PM
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Sunday, July 29, 2007. *
A surgeon general's report in 2006 that called on Americans to help tackle global health problems has been kept from the public by a Bush political appointee without any background or expertise in medicine or public health, chiefly because the report did not promote the administration's policy accomplishments, according to current and former public health officials.

The report described the link between poverty and poor health, urged the U.S. government to help combat widespread diseases as a key aim of its foreign policy, and called on corporations to help improve health conditions in the countries where they operate. A copy of the report was obtained by The Washington Post...


I've worn out my shocked face. Just assume I'm looking aghast.
posted by Uncle $cam at 9:22 PM
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How Science Differs from Religion.



And put your faith in a scientific prediction. Just as a sidenote: atheists are not pussies and here Richard proves it.

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posted by Philip Shropshire at 4:53 PM
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Saturday, July 28, 2007. *
This piece is a great way to recall the vicious callous disregard Bush has for soldiers and human beings. Created by Jason Woliner.



It's not the hysterical laughter that bothers me, it's my inability to stop. The frayed nerves of being two deep breaths away from psychosis?
posted by Uncle $cam at 5:10 AM
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Friday, July 27, 2007. *
A field study released Monday by the University of North Carolina School of Public Health suggests that Iraqi citizens experience sadness and a sense of loss when relatives, spouses, and even friends perish, emotions that have until recently been identified almost exclusively with Westerners.
...
"Contrary to conventional wisdom, it seems that Iraqis do indeed experience at least minor feelings of grief when a best friend or a grandparent is ripped apart by a car bomb or shot execution style and later unearthed in a shallow mass grave," Prytzal said.

No shit? You mean they are human?




Also see, U.S. drops Baghdad electricity reports

Ryan Crocker, the U.S. ambassador to Iraq, told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee last week that Baghdad residents could count on only "an hour or two a day" of electricity. That's down from an average of five to six hours a day earlier this year.

But that piece of data has not been sent to lawmakers for months because the State Department, which prepares a weekly "status report" for Congress on conditions in Iraq, stopped estimating in May how many hours of electricity Baghdad residents typically receive each day.


Imagine being in 130* degree/54 c heat.
posted by Uncle $cam at 7:02 AM
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American Indian Movement Member in Exile in Canada Extradicted to the United States
I discovered this looking into the Ward Churchill issue posted below.

The events of the following video occurred one month and one day ago. The second video is contemporary with the first. I tried to write a summary. I can't do it. Just watch.





Of late, there has been a lot of "payback" in the offing for the militant political activities of the '70s--former SLA member Kathleen Soliah was recently sentenced to two consecutive 10-years-to-life terms; Puerto Rican separatist Filiberto Ojeda Rios was gunned down in his home in 2005 by the FBI; and, of course, both Mumia Abu Jamal and Leonard Peltier remain in prison. This payback has been planned for decades.
posted by the thistle at 12:05 AM
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Thursday, July 26, 2007. *
The two-party system is a sham...The system itself, the US Constitution on which it's based, must be scrapped! Discarded! Eliminated!...those who call the shots -- the power elite -- are delighted with what is being done on their behalf and have no complaints whatsoever. And their alternate political arm, the Democratic Party, loyally responding to the elite's demands, continues to ratify the Bush agenda.

...

We, the People, no longer have any common goals except to exist as we now are. First, we have lost our rights to our country and its direction in favor of empire. Second, we will lose the planet to depredations and poisons and resource depletion on a scale we have never faced as humans before.

As my husband says:

"W" vacations at his ranch as if he were Nero fiddling while Baghdad-Rome-New Orleans/Katrina burn; the circus continues with Reality TV, NFL gladiatorial events and, of course, Nascar chariot races. (13)
Life has become, in general, too cheap to those who live it and the government too corporate to serve the People.


Also see, The Founding Fathers' Fraud
posted by Uncle $cam at 10:01 PM
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Also, in case you missed it:

Looks like some of the missing money in Iraq may have magically found its way into the pockets of this serving officer and family.

"We're suffering injustice in the name of justice," Cockerham shouted. "I guess we can thank the Department of Justice for this."

hahaha... geez...

These contractor bribery funds probably do not originate from the same truckloads of missing cash that Bremer has been unable to account for, though for sure it is probably scammed taxpayer dollars one way or the other.
posted by Uncle $cam at 9:50 PM
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Wednesday, July 25, 2007. *

It has taken me some time to come to ground and ask for your help in keeping Bob's work alive, green and growing (ummm, WHO makes it green?). My name is Christina, and I am one of Bob's daughters and executor of his estate. My brother Graham, my sister Alexandra, and I have been getting used to EWOB; Earth WithOut Bob.

This website will remain the official RAW site and online center of RAW's work. Over the next few months I hope you check back here, as we hope to get a whole lot of RAW activity generated!

The end of our Dad's life was fantastical and filled with profound love and much joy. Yes, there was also sorrow, frustration, stress, and grieving, but it was far outweighed by the lovingness. It was truly an extraordinary time. This was made possible in great part because of you, his beloved friends and fans (and boy did he love you!).

I hope at some point to share with you some of the experiences we all had over the last eight months of being with him, but right now want to let you know that I will be working to keep all his writings in print, and may even be able to print some bits and pieces he never published. There's still a lot of mucky-muck to take care of, as when our mom died, he stopped paying taxes and left a fair debt. Good ole' Bob! True to himself til the day he died...

Email to the Universe is now to be published in Romania, and soon several other countries, and there are vague possibilities of some film stuff floating around. Illuminatus! is now an audiobook and I hope you all buy it, as he would have loved you to hear it. Some of his dear friends lent their voices to the production, so it is doublyprecious. What else can I say? Fnord!
posted by Uncle $cam at 9:44 PM
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Von Sudenfed - Fledermaus Can't Get It


Mark Edward Smith was the lead singer, lyricist, frontman, and sole consistent member of The Fall. His latest musical project is Von Südenfed, a collaboration with Mouse on Mars, whose first album, Tromatic Reflexxions, was released on May 21, 2007.

Also see, The Fall: The Wonderful and Frightening World of Mark E Smith

Two Librans
posted by Uncle $cam at 8:47 PM
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Tuesday, July 24, 2007. *
Boulder — Regents at the University of Colorado voted 8-1 today to terminate ethnic studies professor Ward Churchill.

The vote was made en masse; regent Cindy Carlisle was the lone vote in favor of keeping Churchill.

Immediately after the announcement, protestors began a loud demonstration in the Glen Miller Ballroom of CU's Memorial Hall, with chants and drums.
posted by Uncle $cam at 9:58 PM
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This (criminal) Bush administration has been loading the judiciary with political hacks for seven years! Did you expect anything different?

From the comment section @C&L:

Did a little checking on Judge John D. Bates….First, he was Ken Starr’s right hand atty. prosecuting(persucuiting) Bill and Hillary during the Whitewater fiasco(NOT guility).
He is the judge who passed down the ruling that Dick Cheney did not have to release the identities of the individuals who attended the secret, behind closed door meetings of the Energy Task Force, and he as, in 2006, appointed by S/C Justice Roberts to be his
special judge in matters relating to foreign relations survillance. Now tell me, was he “hand-picked” to rule on the Plame/Wilson case or what???
posted by Uncle $cam at 9:25 PM
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The DOD is developing a parallel to Planet Earth, with billions of individual "nodes" to reflect every man, woman, and child this side of the dividing line between reality and AR.

Called the Sentient World Simulation (SWS), it will be a "synthetic mirror of the real world with automated continuous calibration with respect to current real-world information", according to a concept paper for the project.

"SWS provides an environment for testing Psychological Operations (PSYOP)," the paper reads, so that military leaders can "develop and test multiple courses of action to anticipate and shape behaviors of adversaries, neutrals, and partners".

SWS also replicates financial institutions, utilities, media outlets, and street corner shops. By applying theories of economics and human psychology, its developers believe they can predict how individuals and mobs will respond to various stressors.

Yank a country's water supply. Stage a military coup. SWS will tell you what happens next.
posted by Uncle $cam at 8:35 PM
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posted by Dr. Menlo at 5:40 PM
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"Breaking news worldwide. Essential daily reading." This news and video source will become a steady source of information to many amsam readers, I'm sure of it.
posted by Trevor Blake at 10:02 AM
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Internet Entertainment Company Challenges Animal Cruelty Law
Advance Consulting Marketing, the owner of ToughSportsLive.com, has filed suit against the federal government, hoping to challenge the "Federal Depiction of Animal Cruelty Act" which "makes it a felony to sell a depiction of animal cruelty in interstate commerce." ToughSportsLive.com broadcasts Puerto Rican cockfights through its website. A successful challenge to this federal law could possibly make legal the distribution of all kinds of animal cruelty "entertainment," including so-called "crush videos," snuff films in which animals are crushed underfoot.

The ToughSportsLive.com website does not mention an "Advance Consulting Marketing." Rather, it refers instead to Cloverdale Worldwide LTD. Both companies are connected through Aaron Storck, who acts as the Chief Technology Officer for the former and owns the latter. Apparently, neither Advance Consulting Marketing nor Cloverdale Worldwide LTD have a direct web presence, although Cloverdale Worldwide's contact information is listed in the terms and conditions at ToughSportsLive.com:

Cloverdale Worldwide LTD.
1700 South Dixie HWY Suite 200
Boca Raton FL, 33432

By phone: (561) 347-2066
By fax: (561) 347-2072
By email: sales@toughsportslive.com

Advance Consulting Marketing is being represented in this case by David Oscar Markus, who runs the Southern District of Florida blog. Markus and client are claiming the Federal Depiction of Animal Cruelty Act is an unconstitutional infringement of free speech.

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posted by the thistle at 9:26 AM
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Monday, July 23, 2007. *

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posted by Trevor Blake at 10:29 PM
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The Yellow Sign: Timothy Leary’s Neurocomics & Promethea by Alan Moore

One of my old roommates boasted a collection of Dr. Timothy Leary’s works that included nearly every single work in first printing that he had published, including a beat-up old copy of Start Your Own Religion, a well-thumbed What Does Wo/Man Want?, and a rather abused copy of The Politics of Ecstasy, but he didn’t have Dr. Leary’s comic book. It was at the end of the seventies that Neurocomics (1979) was released in a print run of 10,000. It’s not even listed on the wikipedia entry of his works, and seems overlooked by most Dr. Leary’s fans. So when I was pointed to the torrent of this lost work, I was ecstatic. Download Timothy Leary’s Neurocomics to check it out.
posted by Uncle $cam at 9:36 PM
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Brother Ali - Uncle Sam Goddamn
posted by the thistle at 6:28 PM
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Saturday, July 21, 2007. *
The linked article (not the article the fellow wrote) contains a good snapshot of the people who've been denied entry to this country over the past six years.

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posted by the thistle at 8:10 AM
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Friday, July 20, 2007. *
DeFazio asks, but he's denied access
Classified info - The congressman wanted to see government plans for after a terror attack Friday, July 20, 2007JEFF KOSSEFF The Oregonian Staff
WASHINGTON -- Oregonians called Peter DeFazio's office, worried there was a conspiracy buried in the classified portion of a White House plan for operating the government after a terrorist attack.

As a member of the U.S. House on the Homeland Security Committee, DeFazio, D-Ore., is permitted to enter a secure "bubbleroom" in the Capitol and examine classified material. So he asked the White House to see the secret documents.

On Wednesday, DeFazio got his answer: DENIED.


"I just can't believe they're going to deny a member of Congress the right of reviewing how they plan to conduct the government of the United States after a significant terrorist attack," DeFazio says.

Homeland Security Committee staffers told his office that the White House initially approved his request, but it was later quashed. DeFazio doesn't know who did it or why.

"We're talking about the continuity of the government of the United States of America," DeFazio says. "I would think that would be relevant to any member of Congress, let alone a member of the Homeland Security Committee."

Bush administration spokesman Trey Bohn declined to say why DeFazio was denied access: "We do not comment through the press on the process that this access entails. It is important to keep in mind that much of the information related to the continuity of government is highly sensitive."

Norm Ornstein, a legal scholar who studies government continuity at the conservative American Enterprise Institute, said he "cannot think of one good reason" to deny access to a member of Congress who serves on the Homeland Security Committee.

"I find it inexplicable and probably reflective of the usual, knee-jerk overextension of executive power that we see from this White House," Ornstein said.

This is the first time DeFazio has been denied access to documents. DeFazio has asked Homeland Security Committee Chairman Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., to help him access the documents.

"Maybe the people who think there's a conspiracy out there are right," DeFazio said.


Also: A top legal scholar at the conservative American Enterprise Institute says he "cannot think of one good reason" to deny access to classified material for a member of Congress who serves on the Homeland Security Committee.

Here.

Gen. Tommy Franks said in an interview with the lifestyle magazine Cigar Aficionado that if another terrorist attack occurs in the United States "the Constitution will likely be discarded in favor of a military form of government" The stunning revelation is the headline story on the right-wing news site NewsMax for Friday. Franks said that another terrorism attack will result in "... the Western world, the free world, loses what it cherishes most, and that is freedom and liberty we’ve seen for a couple of hundred years..." He indicated that if another terrorism attack occurs Bush will likely declare martial law and the Constitution will apparently be "discarded".
posted by Uncle $cam at 5:40 PM
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Thursday, July 19, 2007. *
A counter-terrorism official told the LA Times that al-Qaeda's "planning-to-execution cycle might suggest summer is the window of choice."

A new article by national security investigative journalist John Stanton argues that "Crippling two American cities with nukes just might be in Bin Laden’s playbook," adding "And that’s very worrisome, particularly when each August 6th and 9th come around."


WTF is with all the Bin Laden talk all of a sudden, of late? NPR, The White house, New bin Laden same as the old one?

White House Gets Defensive Over Accusation Bin Laden Is Dead

Leader of Al Qaeda group in Iraq was fictional, U.S. military says

A dead nemesis perpetuated by the US government

The Fake 2001 bin Laden
Video Tape



Allah on the Holodeck brought to you by Los Alamos National Laboratory "morphing" technology?

lest ye forget:
U.S. Silence Impeding Swiss in Nuclear Case
Two years after the United States helped disrupt a notorious nuclear smuggling ring, the Bush administration has hobbled a Swiss effort to prosecute three of the alleged leaders by failing to share critical information, an American nuclear expert and Swiss law enforcement officials said yesterday.

Switzerland's federal prosecutor made at least four separate appeals for U.S. help over the past year, asking for access to documents and other evidence linked to the nuclear black market run by the Pakistani scientist Abdul Qadeer Khan. In that time, the Swiss have received no assistance, or even a reply, a spokesman for the prosecutor said.


I have taken the liberty of e-mailing Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Joby Warrick of the "Washington Post several times in reference to the above, he has yet to reply. There has been no follow up or out cry from anywhere with regards to this dire story of nuclear blackmarket smuggling. I wonder if Billmon (if he is reading) could intercede, and get some follow up and or backstory.

Somethings up, I feel it in my bones, now would be the time I suspect, as we know all too well, the incantations these war witches conjure. They are Kings of Convenience.

Also of note: Nuke Lab Privatization Moving Forward
posted by Uncle $cam at 10:20 PM
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Wednesday, July 18, 2007. *
Antioch college: Bob Fitrakis has published an interesting story on this hotbed of peace activism, which is shutting down (for a least a few years, and probably forever) in 2008. Fitrakis notes the presence of some spooky types on the college's board, and he wonders if they intentionally subverted the institution.

Wouldn't surprise me in the least...

via.
posted by Uncle $cam at 10:04 PM
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While there was no "smoking gun" amid the stack of documents Arrigo gave me, my reporting eventually led me to an even graver discovery. After a 10-month investigation comprising more than 70 interviews as well as a detailed review of public and confidential documents, I pieced together the account of the Abu Zubaydah interrogation that appears in this article. I also discovered that psychologists weren't merely complicit in America's aggressive new interrogation regime. Psychologists, working in secrecy, had actually designed the tactics and trained interrogators in them while on contract to the C.I.A.

Two psychologists in particular played a central role: James Elmer Mitchell, who was attached to the C.I.A. team that eventually arrived in Thailand, and his colleague Bruce Jessen. Neither served on the task force or are A.P.A. members. Both worked in a classified military training program known as sere—for Survival, Evasion, Resistance, Escape—which trains soldiers to endure captivity in enemy hands. Mitchell and Jessen reverse-engineered the tactics inflicted on sere trainees for use on detainees in the global war on terror, according to psychologists and others with direct knowledge of their activities. The C.I.A. put them in charge of training interrogators in the brutal techniques, including "waterboarding," at its network of "black sites." In a statement, Mitchell and Jessen said, "We are proud of the work we have done for our country."

The agency had famously little experience in conducting interrogations or in eliciting "ticking time bomb" information from detainees. Yet, remarkably, it turned to Mitchell and Jessen, who were equally inexperienced and had no proof of their tactics' effectiveness, say several of their former colleagues. Steve Kleinman, an Air Force Reserve colonel and expert in human-intelligence operations, says he finds it astonishing that the C.I.A. "chose two clinical psychologists who had no intelligence background whatsoever, who had never conducted an interrogation … to do something that had never been proven in the real world."

The tactics were a "voodoo science," says Michael Rolince, section chief of the F.B.I.'s International Terrorism Operations. According to a person familiar with the methods, the basic approach was to "break down [the detainees] through isolation, white noise, completely take away their ability to predict the future, create dependence on interrogators."
...
posted by Uncle $cam at 5:21 PM
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This new series looks at contemporary American culture through the austere lens of statistics. Each image portrays a specific quantity of something: fifteen million sheets of office paper (five minutes of paper use); 106,000 aluminum cans (thirty seconds of can consumption) and so on. My hope is that images representing these quantities might have a different effect than the raw numbers alone, such as we find daily in articles and books. Statistics can feel abstract and anesthetizing, making it difficult to connect with and make meaning of 3.6 million SUV sales in one year, for example, or 2.3 million Americans in prison, or 426,000 cell phones retired every day. This project visually examines these vast and bizarre measures of our society, in large intricately detailed prints assembled from thousands of smaller photographs.

My only caveat about this series is that the prints must be seen in person to be experienced the way they are intended. As with any large artwork, their scale carries a vital part of their substance which is lost in these little web images. Hopefully the JPEGs displayed here might be enough to arouse your curiosity to attend an exhibition, or to arrange one if you are in a position to do so. The series is a work in progress, and new images will be posted as they are completed, so please stay tuned.

~chris jordan, Seattle, 2007
posted by Uncle $cam at 5:18 PM
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[narconews' headline may be more descriptive: 'How “the Largest Corruption Sting in the History of the FBI” Went Awry More than 60 Public Officials, Prison Guards, Cops, Federal Agents, U.S. Army Soldiers, Air Force Airmen (and Women) Were Arrested... but the Case Was Shut Down']

I’ve been waiting a long time for this story, first hearing about it back in 2004. The Freedom of Information Act request I filed a year ago finally came in.

The largest corruption sting in the history of the FBI started with a corrupt Arizona National Guard employee who told undercover FBI agents he could not only run fix test results for recruits but use his uniform and military vehicle to run cocaine for them.

I’m going to play this straight, leaving the vitriol and the blame-game for others. The sources I cited for this story include a Freedom of Information Act request I filed last summer with the Office of Inspector General, and the letter U.S. Attorney Paul Charlton sent to the FBI Director in Phoenix.

Both documents detail what happened in a Las Vegas hotel room five years ago, a party thrown by the FBI for a group of cocaine runners living it up big-time, a possible rape, the ensuing cover-up by the FBI and the scandal that rocked the Justice Department.

The case was called Operation Lively Green. In the military, it was called Operation Desert Blue. It was the biggest corruption sting the FBI had ever run. Soldiers, airmen, cops, prison guards, anybody with a uniform and access to an official vehicle all happy to run a load of blow for what they thought was a drug cartel. It was the kind of career-making investigation federal career agents dream of. The kind that drive promotions, awards, good guy versus bad, headlines and recognition for a job well done.
It ended up turning into a fiasco, one that was silenced by Washington D.C., whom, it appears, now wishes the whole thing will just go away.


via narconews
posted by Uncle $cam at 5:13 PM
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Rachel Bevilacqua
The High Weirdness Project: "As of July 6th, 2007, custody of Reverend Magdalen's son has been awarded to the boy's father. Magdalen is conferring with her lawyer and preparing a statement."

Rachel Bevilacqua's Blog: Bevilacqua, who performs under the name “Rev. Magdalen,” was stripped of the custody of her 10-year-old son because of pictures found on the Internet of her performances with the satirical comedy group The SubGenius Foundation, Inc. The images were from a members-only yearly SubGenius convention in upstate New York.

The Wild Hunt: Rachel Bevilacqua (an active SubGenius known as "Rev. Magdalen") had her son, Kohl removed from her custody and was barred from even writing to her child due to her bawdy and satirically blasphemous participation in Subgenius festivals (at which the son was never present). Not only was the son never present at these adult-oriented festivals, but she has been barred since 2000 from "exposing" her son to any information or activities related to the Church of the SubGenius.

[You are next.]

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posted by Trevor Blake at 9:29 AM
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Monday, July 16, 2007. *
The Strange Case of SiCKO's Critics, Part II
It has been brought to my attention that there was a wee bit of error in my post regarding Thor Halvorssen, the Moving Picture Institute and its films critical of SiCKO. Specifically, I conflated two different--albeit related--Halvorssens: Thor Halvorssen, Sr., and Thor Halvorssen, Jr. In my defense, better observers than I have made the same mistake, and there are numerous articles around the web which fail to mention there are multiple Thor Halvorssens connected to both the Venezuelan ruling class and the conservative American political sphere, much less make a distinction between the two. My thanks to Thor Halvorssen, Jr., for taking the time to indicate my mistake. Also, thanks for letting me know that my original post had been picked up by Newshounds, of which I was previously unaware.

For future reference, here is a handy guide to help keep the Halvorssens straight.

Thor Halvorssen, Sr., was the drug czar under former Venezuelan President Carlos Andres Perez. Halvorssen, Sr., was accused of being involved in both moving drugs through Venezuela and of participating in a bomb plot, which were reported in major media articles I linked to. Nothing came of the former, and charges of the latter were dropped. As I mentioned in my previous entry.

Thor Halvorssen, Jr., is the founder of several not-for-profit organizations and foundations, including The Moving Picture Institute mentioned in the prior post; Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, set up to combat "political correctness" on college campuses; and Human Rights Foundation, which has taken it upon itself to combat the supposed anticapitalist orientation of traditional human rights groups like Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch. He has given public presentations at such "non-partisan" organizations as The American Enterprise Institute and The New York Young Republican Club. He is a frequent contributor of op-ed pieces to likewise "non-partisan" periodicals like The Wall Street Journal, National Review, The New York Post, The Washington Times, The Weekly Standard and so on. In the essays for these publications which are available online, he is never credited as "Thor Halvorssen, Jr." If there is an exception to this rule, I'll be happy to look at it.



As for the remainder of the "corrections" which Halvorssen has demanded, I will make none of them. Once you understand which is the father and which is the son, there is nothing which I said in the remainder of the entry which is not either a matter of public record or obviously my opinion.

For someone who has statedly no interest in becoming involved in "a polemic" nor a "back and forth" nor a "flamewar," I find it odd that he would devote nearly 1,500 words over the course of a number of emails to attempting to counter my entry. Also odd for someone who is statedly a civil libertarian to complain about "artful language" and quickly toss in a word like "libelous" as if I didn't know what he was hinting at. As odd too the demand for my "transparency" (meaning to not use what he deems to be "artful language") while requesting I simply rewrite the entry to his specifications while simultaneously requesting his letters to me not be printed.

As to his complaints about my characterizing him as right-wing "crazy" based on his appearance on the CBN in interview with Pat Robertson, well, let's parse the complex assumptions conveyed in his characterization of my characterization. First of all, my opinion that he is right-wing is not based merely on his appearance on the aforementioned program but is a very reasonable evaluation based on the goals and activities of organizations he has founded, the content of op-ed pieces he has written, and the things which he has stated on television, as on The 700 Club with Pat Robertson or Hannity & Colmes and so on. His argument here is not against the substance of my statement that he is right-wing but against the narrowness of my sample of his television appearances from which I drew in the original entry. Well, touché, Mr. Halvorssen, Jr., but scratch the surface, and my conclusion is upheld. One can always claim to be "independent," of course, just as Bill O'Reilly did for years, but if it walks, quacks and shits like a duck and can be found in the company of countless other ducks, well...

Second, I never called him crazy, which would of course be my opinion even if I had said it.

Note that one does not need to be crazy to be wrong about quite a lot of things (even though it may help). For instance, when one floats rumors such as that Hugo Chavez is funneling Venezuelan state money to Al Qaeda, one could be doing it in a calculated, sane way meant to tar one's political enemies. Or as when he implied in his interview with Pat Robertson that the assassination of political enemies is normal operating procedure in Revolutionary Venezuela, this doesn't require him to be crazy. Although it does start to look a little crazy when he states that Hugo Chavez invented "the concept of assassination for political reasons".

Halvorssen is careful to point out that he is not a member of the Council for National Policy. "Period." Of course, I never said this. I'm assuming there is an implied complaint about "guilt by association" as with the Pat Robertson interview. I refer the reader to the aforementioned duck.

Halvorssen claims not to have anything to do with Browning's movie[s], which can only be true by a stretch of the meaning of "anything," insofar as a foundation Halvorssen started funded Browning's films.

Last but not least, Halvorssen objects to my characterization that he does not care for the poor. I'd already dealt with this in the comments to the original post, but I will address it openly for all to see once again, because I stand by my statement. One does not need to say overtly that one has contempt for the poor in order to have contempt for the poor. In fact, open contempt for the poor is often politically untenable even in this craven day and age, when members of the ruling class of many nations bend over backwards trying to come up with "artful language" which elides the appearance of contempt while maintaining its substance. Many of them have even founded and funded a whole spume of think tanks, NGOs and other bullshit Scaife-ish "non-partisan" organizations dedicated to inventing new ways to spin. Thus it was that I took notice when I discovered that an organization which produced a series of documentaries aimed maintaining and exacerbating the inequalities in health care in the United States was founded by someone who was connected to an administration of a foreign government which for years had maintained Venezuela's status as economically one of the most unequal countries on the face of the planet. And he'd like to see reversed whatever modest gains the people of Venezuela have been able to eke out for themselves.

But that's, you know, just my opinion.
posted by the thistle at 9:17 PM
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prepare for the worst

Americans: Prepare for Worst Case Scenario.

As the old saying goes: 'Hope for the best but prepare for the worst.'

[ . . . w/concurrent proactivity, natch.]

The checkmate analogy in the Buzzflash editorial especially rings true to me. They seem to be building to something, and they haven't been stopped yet. With the constant refrain of 'bomb iran' in our ears, the new lion-eating monkey will be on our backs until the next Inauguration, last scheduled for 2009 . . .

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posted by Dr. Menlo at 8:12 PM
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Short documentary on the life and times of Robert Anton Wilson in Yellow Springs, OH during the early 1960s.


Also see, keep the lasagna flying.

A short vid during the last years and a nice web page discussing the
genesis of guns and dope:
posted by Uncle $cam at 1:25 AM
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Sunday, July 15, 2007. *
posted by Uncle $cam at 10:09 PM
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Sibel Edmonds. Patience


I'm all out, sorry.

I just watched the full Sibel Edmonds Kill The Messenger documentary which has not been shown nor released in the U.S. AND IT IS AN EYE OPENER. If any are interested in it, it can be found in torrent online. One thing w/out giving away the plot, outed CIA Valerie Plame and Sibel Edmonds are linked in ways that have not been talked about very much especially in America.


Bush orders Harriet Miers to testify... in Sibel Edmonds' case ?? Heh? How bizarre...


Also see, Infiltration: How Muslim Spies and Subversives have Penetrated Washington
posted by Uncle $cam at 10:39 AM
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Saturday, July 14, 2007. *
A man accused of killing a Pearland flight attendant confessed to going to a known gay bar to pick out a target, then going home with him and stabbing him with a knife. Terry Mark Mangum, 26, of Cypress was arrested in June on a murder charge and was indicted Thursday by a Brazoria County grand jury. He is accused of killing Kenneth Cummings Jr., 46, in Cummings’ Pearland home June 5, then cleaning up the blood and driving to a ranch owned by Mangum’s grandfather outside Poteet to bury his body. [...]

“I did it,” he said. “Bottom line is I stabbed him in the head with a knife.” [...] Mangum, who sounded energetic and upbeat, said he met Cummings at a bar in Houston that is a known hangout for homosexual men, and that he was carrying out God’s judgment and “sacrificing” Cummings’ body. Mangum said it was “my belief of God judging him,” and Cummings “just happened to be the one that I bumped into.” Asked if he was targeting Cummings because he was a homosexual, Mangum said, “that was the goal.” Mangum did not specify for what he targeted Cummings, but he did say what he did was “righteous.”

[Article continues at link. Magnum did exactly what the Bible says Christian men should do, and that is kill homosexuals. Now might be a good opportunity for Christians to say once and for all that even though Jesus Christ confirmed - twice - that Christians must murder homosexuals, this two-thousand year old superstition invented by illiterate goat farmers to appease an invisible monster that lives in the sky has no place in today's world. Need more evidence Christianity is immoral and foolish? Click here.]

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posted by Trevor Blake at 8:48 AM
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Environmental activist Derrick Jensen gives a talk and reads selections from his book Endgame:



Part II here.
posted by the thistle at 6:19 AM
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Friday, July 13, 2007. *
Over the past year, there have been numerous federal operations, carried out by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), where thousands of immigrants have been rounded up in surprise workplace raids — a number of them likely not even reported in the national press.

In many of those cases, the children of the immigrants, a number of them U.S. citizens, were at school or in daycare when the raids came down.

Their parents were whisked off to immigration detention centers around the country and many have since been deported back to their native countries.

...

So what ultimately has happened to these kids – and the hundreds, if not thousands, of others like them around the country? What happens when the temporary caretakers, for financial or other reasons, can no longer watch over the children — again, a number of them U.S. citizens?

Well, one source, whom we cannot name, has told Narco News that something is afoot that the U.S. government is keeping very tight-lipped about at this point.

That source says school officials in San Antonio, Texas, have been told to prepare for the arrival of a number of Spanish-only and limited-English speakers who will soon be shipped in from around the country to be warehoused, under a private contract, in San Antonio. The school system has been made aware of this because they will have to provide educational services to these children.

The source, who is in a position to know of such things, also says these are the children of immigrants who have been swept up in federal raids. Their parents are now either in federal detention somewhere in the country or already deported.
posted by the thistle at 8:41 AM
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Thursday, July 12, 2007. *
"Politically incorrect"? Has any other soundbite become quite so tedious as this phrase?

Found this doozy of an article via Klintron's Technoccult. It well represents the stupid uses to which the air of science is put in the service of ideology. It is not science but a mix of speculation on and interpretation of human and animal behavioral science, biology and cultural trends. I'm not against speculation, but this is being passed off as scientific "truth," which it ain't.

Many of the speculations in this article are without clear source.

1. Men like blond bombshells (and women want to look like them)

Evolutionary psychology is emphatically not science. It is a genre of speculation based on a mix of other peoples' science and observation of cultural trends. EPs, like the sociobiologists before them, are notorious for rationalizing status quo culture as being rooted in biology. They are not researchers but armchair theorists (just like me). Thus when Frank Marlowe contends something, he is not dispelling a "mystery," just giving his opinion.

Women may have been dying their hair blonde for millennia, but they've been dying it other colors for the same period of time.

Full disclosure: I find some young blonde women with small waists and large breasts to be attractive. But "Men also have a universal preference for women with a low waist-to-hip ratio"? [Emphasis mine.] I'll open this up to the readers: Should I even bother to provide evidence that this isn't the case?

2. Humans are naturally polygamous

I'm reading Born Cannibal right now. James Miles points out that there's no known gene for monogamy. Or for polygamy. Or heterosexuality or homosexuality or sexual preference at all.

Sexuality is biologically open-ended. What allowed reproduction to work for millions of years is that creatures--including, historically, humans--have a lot of sex. Taboos are cultural, not biological.

In fact, there are very few if any known "behavior genes." Most of the discoveries of genetic underpinnings to certain behaviors--gambling, homosexuality, alcoholism, criminality, religiosity--have been announced to much fanfare in the media, which then ignores subsequent contradictory science. In fact a few of these genes--like the so-called "God gene," which is supposed to predispose people to having religious experiences and therefore believing in (the Christian) god--were announced before any science was done at all.

But back to the article at hand: "Inequality tends to increase as society advances in complexity from hunter-gatherer to advanced agrarian societies. Industrialization tends to decrease the level of inequality."

Wow. What are they smoking? We are currently living through the largest wealth disparity in the history of mankind. The biggest issue with this is that industrialization does not occur in a vacuum. The biggest disparities happen at the borders of industrial society, precisely where industry takes resources away from nonindustrialized regions and the populations they have traditionally supported. It may be true that there is a relative lack of disparity within industrial civilization compared other types of societies (though I'm not even convinced of that). But this relative lack of disparity within industrialized society is directly dependent on deepening the disparities between industrialized nations and the rest of the world.

3. Most women benefit from polygyny, while most men benefit from monogamy

I can never tell if the largely male population of Evolutionary Psychologists are trying to invent and rationalize some class-based stratification of sexuality because they have a little extra money and need come up with an excuse to get with multiple partners or because they are trying to come up with an excuse for why they can't get a date at all.

I suspect it's the latter. So here's my advice, you armchair theorists of the world. Lighten up with all the "women act this way, men act that way" talk and get out there and talk to people you actually want to have sex with as though they were people and not aggregate collections of statistically observable behaviors interpreted through the lens of your personal bias. It's not sexy.

BTW, 100 years ago, similar genetic behavior theorists were trying to convince the populace at large that polygamy was a sign of the inferiority of the poor (they're having all the sex, which we know because they make so many babies) and trying to get them sterilized because of it.

4. Most suicide bombers are Muslim

I'm not sure what this point has to do with "human nature." Period. Is religious affiliation genetically coded? No.

As to the claim that most suicide bombers are Muslim: Christianity has a long history of martyrdom, but they got most of their dramatic suicides in before the invention of explosives.

"Father of sociology" Emile Durkheim claimed that "altruistic suicide"--suicide for a cause--was observable in a broad array of societies.

5. Having sons reduces the likelihood of divorce

No comment. Don't care.

6. Beautiful people have more daughters

Ditto. Actually, I slept through the rest of these until...

10. Men sexually harass women because they are not sexist

Look, if ever there was a phrase that was designed to bait the political opposition, it is "political incorrectness." It serves as a umbrella term meant to signal that the author is setting out to offend people, then act as though he is surprised when people get offended. Then he points the finger at them, saying, "You're too easily offended." Some people are too easily offended; that doesn't make these guys any less asinine. It is always an indication that the author is trying to start some very public drama. Which is probably why the authors saved their best effort for last.

Sexual harassment isn't sexist: I think what's going on in this notion is that the authors are simply redefining "sexism" just enough to not include sexual harassment. Likewise, sort of, with the word "discrimination":
Abuse, intimidation, and degradation are all part of men's repertoire of tactics employed in competitive situations. In other words, men are not treating women differently from men—the definition of discrimination, under which sexual harassment legally falls—but the opposite: Men harass women precisely because they are not discriminating between men and women.
Your new breed of conservative likes to endlessly play these sorts of bullshit word games to rationalize something or other--usually their snoringly predictable "political incorrectness."

So let me break it down for them. The legal definition of discrimination doesn't have any bearing on situations where there is no victim. None. Just because I say hello one person I know doesn't mean I'm legally obligated to say to everyone that I encounter. If I was a doctor, would I be legally obligated to treat every patient the same way regardless of their symptoms? Under the authors' redefinition of "discrimination," if one of these boys-will-be-boys boys had sex with one of their female coworkers, wouldn't they likewise be legally obligated to have sex with all the rest of their coworkers, male and female alike?* It sounds ridiculous because it's a distortion not only of discrimination law but of the intent of discrimination law, which is to give people redress when they are being treated in ways that are unwelcome on the one hand and not being recognized for the fruits of their labor on the other.

* Which, come to think of it, in a consenting situation might actually relieve some of the tensions of workplace competition and promote solidarity.** But these guys aren't talking about consenting situations. They're trying to come up with a science-y sounding excuse to exceed consent.

** Workers of the world unite!

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posted by the thistle at 2:07 PM
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The Arizona Senate has unanimously passed a resolution banning the "Bush Lied, They Died" t-shirts from sale in the state. The shirts include the names of hundreds of U.S. troops killed in Iraq in fine print, which legislators apparently find unseemly, and which they say makes the shirts commercial speech, instead of political speech, which the Supreme Court says enjoys more First Amendment protection. [...] The shirts have already been banned in Oklahoma and Louisiana, and Rep. Dan Boren is pushing legislation for a federal ban.

posted by Trevor Blake at 12:52 PM
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Wednesday, July 11, 2007. *
Religion in the News
Abuse Claims Aimed at Retired Priest. The Episcopal Diocese of Texas has publicly acknowledged decades-old sexual abuse claims against a retired priest who once served as rector of St. James' Episcopal Church in Houston and founded St. James' School.

Ex-Tucson Priest Wants Abuse Accusations Tossed
. A Roman Catholic Diocese of Tucson priest accused of molesting three teenage boys during the 1980s wants the case dismissed because of the long delay in charging him. The Rev. Gary E. Underwood, who has not worked in the local diocese since 1987, is facing charges of both child molestation and sexual conduct with a minor in connection with reports that he abused boys while working as a priest at St. Odilia's Catholic Church on Tucson's Northwest Side during the mid-1980s.

Former Priest Clark Out on Cash Bond
. A former priest headed for a second trial on sex abuse charges is out of jail after posting bond. According to the Bullitt County jailer, Daniel Clark posted the $10,000 full cash bond Monday afternoon.

Man will receive $875,000 in priest abuse case. The attorney of a man who claimed he was molested by a former Chicago priest said the Archdiocese of Chicago has settled the case for $875,000. Robert Holomshek, 37, was molested decades ago by his former parish priest when he served as an alter boy at the former St. Francis Xavier school on Chicago's North Side, said lawyer Gene Hollander.

Priest's 'Disneyland' emerges at sexual assault trial. Former foster parent and Episcopal priest Donald Shissler sexually assaulted three boys whom he lured to his home by turning it into a "Disneyland" full of fun, games and candy, a prosecutor told a Denver jury Monday.

Priest abuse case settled
. A Gulf War veteran who served as a North Side altar boy in the 1970s will receive $875,000 from the Archdiocese of Chicago to settle sexual abuse allegations against his former parish priest, the man’s attorney said Friday.

Chicago priest pleads guilty, gets five years in prison. A Roman Catholic priest accused of fondling young boys pleaded guilty last Monday to five counts of aggravated criminal sexual abuse and was sentenced to five years in prison. The Rev. Daniel McCormack was accused of abusing five boys ages 8 to 12 in the rectory of St. Agatha Catholic Church, where he served as parish priest. He could have been sentenced to seven years.

[This is just a sample of what a person can find by searching for the word "priest" at Google News on a single day. Notice any kind of pattern here?]

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posted by Trevor Blake at 7:02 AM
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More classic Jazz...

Bill Evans-My Foolish Heart
posted by Uncle $cam at 6:58 AM
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More classic Jazz...

Bill Evans-My Foolish Heart
posted by Uncle $cam at 6:58 AM
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The 2008 presidential election is probably the first in American history that has spawned a veritable faith and politics industry. Entire non-profit organizations, university departments, think tanks, polling operations, and web divisions at prestigious East coast newspapers, have marshaled their resources in an attempt to make sense of the role that religion will play in the run for the White House. The industry is immense. Its wares displayed on every boulevard, sidewalk and back alley of the mass media. Its potential for influencing public opinion is considerable.

The faith and politics industry also has a variety of “applied” or “hands-on” subsidiaries. There are the lobbyists who work for religious special interest groups. There are demographers who conduct surveys for any client willing to cough up the fee. There is the very lucrative traffic in what I call “religious imaging.” By this I refer to the work of political consultants--an astonishing percentage of whom are graduates of theological seminaries--who advise and often rehabilitate candidates who have somehow drifted off (religious) message.

And did I mention that the industry is completely deregulated? That is to say, there are no standards for entrance, let alone excellence. No one seems to be interested in the identity of the employees or employers in the industry. It doesn’t hold annual conventions in a big, deep carpet-y Hotel where everyone gets to expense their meals back to Headquarters. In fact, no one seems to have much to say about the industry as a whole. It floats under the radar. Which is strange because as regards religion and politics the Industry is the radar.

[Article continues at link.]

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posted by Trevor Blake at 6:57 AM
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Threats by religious group spark probe at CU-Boulder
University of Colorado police are investigating a series of threatening messages and documents e-mailed to and slipped under the door of evolutionary biology labs on the Boulder campus.

The messages included the name of a religious-themed group and addressed the debate between evolution and creationism, CU police Cmdr. Brad Wiesley said. Wiesley would not identify the group named because police are still investigating.

"There were no overt threats to anybody specifically by name," Wiesley said. "It basically said anybody who doesn't believe in our religious belief is wrong and should be taken care of."

The first threat was e-mailed to the labs - part of CU's ecology and evolutionary biology department housed in the Ramaley Biology building - on Friday. Wiesley said Monday that morning staff members found envelopes with the threatening documents slipped under the lab doors.

[Article continues at link.]

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posted by Trevor Blake at 6:55 AM
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Nice old and classic jazz. Man, check out those horns...

Chet Baker - Time after time
posted by Uncle $cam at 6:21 AM
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It's hot here in the North West, time for some:
posted by Uncle $cam at 6:07 AM
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Tuesday, July 10, 2007. *
Bravo, CNN. Impressive hackery on display.
posted by Bill at 10:54 PM
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Over the past five years (some say almost a decade), there has been a revolution in the intelligence community toward wide-scale outsourcing. Private companies now perform key intelligence-agency functions, to the tune, I'm told, of more than $42 billion a year. Intelligence professionals tell me that more than 50 percent of the National Clandestine Service (NCS) -- the heart, brains and soul of the CIA -- has been outsourced to private firms such as Abraxas, Booz Allen Hamilton, Lockheed Martin and Raytheon.

These firms recruit spies, create non-official cover identities and control the movements of CIA case officers. They also provide case officers and watch officers at crisis centers and regional desk officers who control clandestine operations worldwide. As the Los Angeles Times first reported last October, more than half the workforce in two key CIA stations in the fight against terrorism -- Baghdad and Islamabad, Pakistan -- is made up of industrial contractors, or "green badgers," in CIA parlance.

Intelligence insiders say that entire branches of the NCS have been outsourced to private industry. These branches are still managed by U.S. government employees ("blue badgers") who are accountable to the agency's chain of command. But beneath them, insiders say, is a supervisory structure that's controlled entirely by contractors; in some cases, green badgers are managing green badgers from other corporations.


Imagine all the potential for double loyalty etc ...

Lockheed employees payed by the CIA detecting a secret Chinese weapon threat that requires to buy the Air Force more Lockheed F-22 fighters to combat it ...

NOW GET THIS:

State-Organized Crime as a Case Study Of Criminal Policy
Department of Criminal Justice and Police Studies
521 Lancaster Avenue
Stratton 467
Eastern Kentucky University
Richmond, Kentucky 40475-3102
Telephone: (859) 622-2011
Fax: (859)622-8259

CRJ 875: Crime and Public Policy

Module 9: State-Organized Crime as a Case Study Of Criminal Policy

In his Presidential address to the American Society of Criminology, William Chambliss raised the issue of what he called "State-Organized Crime" (Chambliss, 1988). Chambliss defined state-organized crime as "acts committed by state or government officials in the pursuit of their job as representatives of the government" (Chambliss, 1988: 327). In Chambliss' view governments often engage in smuggling (arms and drugs), assassination conspiracies, terrorist acts, and other crimes in order to further their foreign policy objectives. While these actions may be seen as having immediate benefits (despite their illegality), they often have unanticipated and unintended outcomes, sometimes referred to in intelligence circles as "blowback." In this section we will examine the issue of state- organized crime as it relates to the United States and some of the "blowback" which law enforcement agencies have had to cope with as a result of these state-organized crime activities.

When governments commit acts that are defined by their own laws as criminal or when government officials break the law as part of their job, they engage in state-organized crime (Chambliss, 1986). While the state rarely makes public its criminality or keeps tabulations on the number of illegal acts it has committed, it is clear from both a historical and contemporary perspective that state organized crime is neither new nor rare. State-organized crime is particularly apparent in the covert operations of intelligence agencies.

posted by Uncle $cam at 8:03 PM
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U. S. Senator David Vitter
2000: Asked by an interviewer [...] whether she could forgive her husband if she learned he’d had an extramarital affair, as Hillary Clinton and Bob Livingston’s wife had done, Wendy Vitter told the Times-Picayune: “I’m a lot more like Lorena Bobbitt than Hillary. If he does something like that, I’m walking away with one thing, and it’s not alimony, trust me.”

2004: Vitter Statement on Protecting the Sanctity of Marriage. “This is a real outrage. The Hollywood left is redefining the most basic institution in human history, and our two U.S. Senators won’t do anything about it. We need a U.S. Senator who will stand up for Louisiana values, not Massachusetts’s values. I am the only Senate Candidate to coauthor the Federal Marriage Amendment; the only one fighting for its passage. I am the only candidate proposing changes to the senate rules to stop liberal obstructionists from preventing an up or down vote on issues like this, judges, energy, and on and on.” stated David Vitter.

2004: On WSMB radio last Saturday, a caller who identified himself as Elwood asked Vitter about charges, made by a member of the Louisiana Republican State Central Committee in the Weekly that the then-State Representative, had had an affair with a known prosition in the French Quarter. Elwood continued, “Would you be willing to sign an affidavit that you have ever known, met or had relations with one Wendy Cortez.” Vitter responded, “I think you know that that alligation is abosultely and completely untrue…I have said that on numerous occassions…I’ll say that in any forum…Unfortuanately, that’s just crass Louisiana politics, now that I am running for the Senate. I have made that clear that it is alll completely untrue…And, it’s obviously politically motivated.”

June 25, 2007: U.S. Sen. David Vitter last week authored a letter to the chairman and ranking member of the U.S. Senate Finance Committee expressing support for reauthorization of the Title V Abstinence Education Program of the Social Security Act. Twelve senators joined Vitter in writing in support of the program. “This a valuable program with proven results, but it is nearing its expiration. We must reauthorize this program so we can continue the incredible strides we have made in teaching teens about both risk avoidance and protecting themselves from potential abuse,” Vitter said.

July 9, 2007: Sen. David Vitter, R-La., apologized Monday night for "a very serious sin in my past" after his telephone number appeared among those associated with an escort service operated by the so-called "D.C. Madam.'' Vitter's spokesman, Joel Digrado, confirmed the statement in an email sent to The Associated Press. "This was a very serious sin in my past for which I am, of course, completely responsible," Vitter said in the statement. "Several years ago, I asked for and received forgiveness from God and my wife in confession and marriage counselling. Out of respect for my family, I will keep my discussion of the matter there – with God and them. But I certainly offer my deep and sincere apologies to all I have disappointed and let down in any way.''

Deuteronomy 23:1
"He that is wounded in the stones, or hath his privy member cut off, shall not enter into the congregation of the LORD."

[Articles continue at links. Thanks to Metafilter for the heavy lifting. Unlike Sen. Vitter, I consider consenting sexual relations to be a private affair among adults and not something the government should regulate. I also support sex education, unlike Sen. Vitter. Sen. Vitter hides behind the Bible both in his lies and in his laws. I, an atheist, have never had an affair (unlike Sen. Vitter, I'm not lying when I say that). I wish Sen. Vitter and his family the best in what I'm sure will be hard times ahead. But I hope that they re-consider the virtues of a religion that neither prevents nor heals wounds such as this. I also hope his voters won't be so easily tricked next time someone waves a cross at them come election time.]

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posted by Trevor Blake at 8:06 AM
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Monday, July 09, 2007. *
Of the eight persons arrested as of Friday in the terrorist plot, seven are doctors with the National Health Service (the eighth is the wife of one, and a lab technician at the same hospital). [...] Does government health care inevitably lead to homicidal doctors who can't wait to leap into a flaming SUV and drive it through the check-in counter? No. But government health care does lead to a dependence on medical staff imported from other countries. Some 40 percent of Britain's practicing doctors were trained overseas – and that percentage will increase, as older native doctors retire, and younger immigrant doctors take their place.

When the president talks about needing immigrants to do "the jobs Americans won't do," most of us assume he means seasonal fruit pickers and the maid who turns down your hotel bed and leaves the little chocolate on it. But in the United Kingdom the jobs Britons won't do has somehow come to encompass the medical profession. Aneurin Bevan, the socialist who created the National Health Service after World War II, was once asked to explain how he'd talked the country's doctors into agreeing to become state employees: "I stuffed their mouths with gold," he crowed. Sixty years later, no amount of gold can persuade Britons to spend their working lives in the country's dirty, decrepit hospitals (they spend enough of their nonworking lives there, waiting to be seen, waiting for beds, waiting for operations). According to a report in the British Medical Journal, white males comprise 43.5 percent of the population but now account for less than a quarter of students at UK medical schools. In other words, being a doctor is no longer an attractive middle-class career proposition. That's quite a monument to six decades of Michael Moore-style socialist health care.

[Article continues at link.]
posted by Trevor Blake at 11:28 PM
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posted by Trevor Blake at 6:15 PM
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The Strange Case of SiCKO's Critics
Update: The following post incorrectly conflates Thor Halvorssen, Jr., with Thor Halvorssen, Sr. See this for a clarification.

SiCKO exposes the naked contempt felt by the rich for the poor in this country. I'm not just talking about the obvious examples brought up by Moore in his film. I'm talking about the contempt on display by his most vocal critics.

I've set up a Google news filter to catch any news and blog entries regarding SiCKO since the film was released. I'd say about 95% of the articles have been positive. (Although there are some signs that that is starting to change as the hard right gets their talking points in order.) When I said in an earlier post "The earliest critics [of] the film seemed to be either drug industry flaks or Cuban exiles..." I wasn't exaggerating. But the guys associated with this website keep showing up too. Stuart Browning writes for several blogs and has made a series of short films dealing with what he calls "health care freedom"--advocating for the maintenance of American health care business as usual and bashing Canadian and other "socialized" systems.

Browning has a unique take on why Americans have a shorter life expectancy than the citizens of other industrialized nations.
Life expectancy averages are determined by a multitude of factors such as ethnicity, culture, and crime rates. Asians live longer than whites. Whites live longer than blacks. Canada has more Asians than blacks.
In other words, our national average is being brought down by black people. I'm sure uninsured and underinsured black Americans will be oh-so-understanding when the defenders of corporate health care explain to them treatment is useless because they're black and will die soon no matter what anybody does.

Browning's lack of depth on the subject of racial inequalities in life expectancy implies he believes they don't live as long because they are black, whereas it seems more likely that they don't live as long because they don't receive adequate health care because American blacks are largely poor.

Another tactic, this one which I've seen over and over again, is to value access to expensive elective procedures like cutting-edge MRI scans for wealthy individuals over cheap basic health care for the broad mass of the people. "It's not hard to find Canadians who have waited months to get an MRI..." But just because you have walk-in MRI clinics in seemingly every shopping mall in the United States doesn't mean you will be able to afford them. MRI scans cost at least a few thousand dollars. So those without the residual cash get to decide whether to get that MRI or get basic care for a year or more.

Browning's efforts are funded by the Moving Picture Institute. On its website, the Institute says of itself that it
...identifies and nurtures promising filmmakers who are committed to protecting and sustaining a free society, and supports their work through grants, travel scholarships, awards, internships, training workshops, and networking opportunities.
To date, the Institute has produced Mine Your Own Business (pro-mining, anti-environmentalist), Freedom's Fury and Hammer & Tickle (both taking a bold stand against Stalinism), Indoctrinate U (trying to revive the old saw of political correctness on American college campuses), and a few others.

The Institute was founded by the hard right "human rights advocate" Thor Halvorssen, Ambassador of Drug Affairs under former Venezuelan President and Bush family friend Carlos Andres Perez. In this position, according to Wikipedia, he acted as "a liaison between law enforcement agencies around the world, working on drug and money-laundering cases." However, the as Christian Science Monitor reported in 1993, "A Miami-based DEA official quoted in the Miami Herald called Halvorssen's drug information 'unreliable, manipulative, and planted.'" A Washington Post article from the same time period was more direct, indicating it was believed that Halvorssen was using his position has Venezuelan drug czar to move Colombian cocaine into the United States. The article also hints at connections with the CIA, all of which has been denied by Halvorssen.

Via the Christian Science Monitor, we learn that in the same year, after President Perez was imprisoned for embezzlement of national funds, Halvorssen was likewise imprisoned on more serious charges--terrorism. Charges were dropped, and Thor left the country.

Now he hangs out with folks from the Council for National Policy, the membership of which substantially overlaps with that of Project for a New American Century. He's also appeared on The Christian Broadcast Network in interviews with Pat Robertson. And, of course, he now funds Stuart Browning's efforts to discredit single-payer insurance.

According to people like Browning and Halvorssen, poor people are just supposed to roll over and accept that they won't get any kind of health care at all. These critics don't speak to me and never will so long as they put corporate profits before my well-being. The big question is, who do they think they're fooling?
posted by the thistle at 9:47 AM
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Sunday, July 08, 2007. *
A US company is taking plastics recycling to another level – turning them back into the oil they were made from, and gas. All that is needed, claims Global Resource Corporation (GRC), is a finely tuned microwave and – hey presto! – a mix of materials that were made from oil can be reduced back to oil and combustible gas (and a few leftovers). Key to GRC’s process is a machine that uses 1200 different frequencies within the microwave range, which act on specific hydrocarbon materials. As the material is zapped at the appropriate wavelength, part of the hydrocarbons that make up the plastic and rubber in the material are broken down into diesel oil and combustible gas.

[Article continues at link.]
posted by Trevor Blake at 10:47 PM
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"...First you destroy society; then you let the corporations rebuild it." --Hacene Djemam
Across the political spectrum in Washington, many now demand that the Maliki government meet certain benchmarks, which presumably would show that it's really in charge in Iraq. But there's a particular problem with the most important benchmark that the Iraqi government is being pressured to meet: the oil law. The problem is, in Iraq, it may be the single most unpopular measure the United States is trying to get the government to enact.

In the United States, this law is generally presented as a means to share the oil wealth among different geographic regions of the country. Many Iraqis, however, see it differently. They look the proposed law and see instead the way its welcomes foreign oil companies into the oil fields. They see the control it would give those oil companies over setting royalties, deciding on production levels, and even determining whether Iraqis get to work in their own industry.
The article outlines the grim determination with which the Bush administration is working to hand over Iraqi oil to the multinational conglomerates. But the article is surprisingly upbeat, illustrating the strength of the oil unions in Iraq and the popular support they have among the people.

No doubt about it, the Democrats are balking on a pull-out because they want to see this oil law passed, which would reserve only about 12-25% of Iraqi oil revenues for the Iraqi people. The rest would be used to keep our gas prices down. Yet the unions are not backing down. They can and have shut down pipelines and are demanding to participate in a rewrite of the law, confounding both the Maliki government and Washington.
posted by the thistle at 8:24 PM
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CRAWFORD, Texas - Cindy Sheehan, the soldier's mother who galvanized the anti-war movement, said Sunday that she plans to run against House Speaker Nancy Pelosi unless she introduces articles of impeachment against President Bush in the next two weeks.



It seems someone has awoken and finally gotten past the forever feedback loop! And she'll get my vote...
posted by Uncle $cam at 5:48 PM
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SiCKO's magic bullet is its claim that medicine in socialist nations is actually more cost effective than in the United States. The earliest critics for the film seemed to be either drug industry flaks or Cuban exiles ready to spread fear about Moore's appeal to single-payer health care, but I've not seen a single critic refute Moore's economic claim.

R. Neal at Facing South recently ran the numbers. Neal shows that an American making $50,000 a year takes home, after taxes, only about $2,000 more than French and English who make the same amount of money. That's before the American pays his health care insurance premiums, deductibles, and out-of-pocket health care expenses.

(via Majikthise)
posted by the thistle at 11:56 AM
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Gabby: Going to the things that are four digits, I think that's very inappropriate for school.

Alyssa: Yeah, for school.

Gabby: It's not necessary to spend a couple grand on something you're just wearing to go to class in, but if you want, like, a really nice, classic bag, it's definitely appropriate to spend that kind of--like, four digits, because that's something that's really nice.

Video at New York Times Magazine
posted by the thistle at 11:43 AM
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Saturday, July 07, 2007. *
Sex and Drug Hypocrisy in US Politics
I wish I could remember who said that concern with hypocrisy among our leaders was a distinctly American trait. Myself? Guilty charged. Here are two recent examples...

Romney Criticized for Hotel Pornography: Republican presidential contender Mitt Romney, who rails against the "cesspool" of pornography, is being criticized by social conservatives who argue that he should have tried to halt hardcore hotel movie offerings during his near-decade on the Marriott board. Two anti-pornography crusaders, as well as two conservative activists of the type Romney is courting, say the distribution of such graphic adult movies runs counter to the family image cultivated by Romney, the Marriotts and their shared Mormon faith.

Senator, You Used to Be a Pot Head: My friend [Minnesota Republican Senator Norm Coleman]... Years ago, in a lifetime far away, you did not oppose the legalization of marijuana. Years ago, in our dorm rooms at Hofstra University, you, me, Billy, your future brother-in-law, Ivan, Jonathan, Peter, Janet, Nancy and a wealth of other students smoked dope. Sure, we had to tape the doors shut, burn incense and open the windows, but we got high, and yet we grew up okay, without the help of the Office of National Drug Control Policy's advice. We grew up to become lawyers. Our other friends, as you go down the list, are doctors, professors, parents, political consultants and professionals. No one ever got cancer from smoking pot or diabetes from using a joint.

... the point I'd like to make here is that sex and drugs don't seem to cause the harm they are said to when done by people in power, so they should lighten up a bit when others give it a try. I have never 'done drugs' beyond alcohol and coffee, no never, no not even one time, so when I advocate for their decriminalization I have no vested interest in the topic. Only an interest in competent adults being able to make their own choices, take their own lumps, have their own fun and live their own lives.
posted by Trevor Blake at 11:59 AM
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