Thursday, September 30, 2004

Kind of Say It All - Now Doesn't It?

The Arrogantly Ignorant Displayed. . .

Fox Poll

This - As of Sept. 30, 2004 - Shows the level of ignorance of the typical Fox viewer.  54% still "think" Saddam had something to do with the crimes of 9/11/01.  And keep in mind that Fox is the most watched "news" in America, therefore this reflects the level of knowledge, or lack of reality, in the minds of most Americans.


This single realization of the level of ignorance, and denial, in the mind set of most Americans, this close to the most important election in this nation's history - Scares the holy bee-jees out of me.

This doesn't include my fears for our nation from a corrupt corporate government determined to create a true old-fashioned fascist corporatist plutocracy, with ideological totalitarian safeguards, replacing our constitutional democracy, which is in reality actually happening right now.


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Florida Doesn't Meet Minimum International Election Standards

Still Seeking a Fair Florida Vote
by Jimmy Carter - Washington Post - Sept. 27, 2004


Jimmy Carter   Former President Jimmy Carter,
an internationally respected expert
on fair elections, has raised serious concerns about the upcoming
Presidential balloting in the state
of Florida.
(Photo: Ric Feld / AP)

After the debacle in Florida four years ago, former president Gerald Ford and I were asked to lead a blue-ribbon commission to recommend changes in the American electoral process.  After months of concerted effort by a dedicated and bipartisan group of experts, we presented unanimous recommendations to the president and Congress.  The government responded with the Help America Vote Act of October 2002.  Unfortunately, however, many of the act's key provisions have not been implemented because of inadequate funding or political disputes.

The disturbing fact is that a repetition of the problems of 2000 now seems likely, even as many other nations are conducting elections that are internationally certified to be transparent, honest and fair.

The Carter Center has monitored more than 50 elections, all of them held under contentious, troubled or dangerous conditions.  When I describe these activities, either in the United States or in foreign forums, the almost inevitable questions are: "Why don't you observe the election in Florida?" and "How do you explain the serious problems with elections there?"

The answer to the first question is that we can monitor only about five elections each year, and meeting crucial needs in other nations is our top priority.  (Our most recent ones were in Venezuela and Indonesia, and the next will be in Mozambique.)  A partial answer to the other question is that some basic international requirements for a fair election are missing in Florida.

The most significant of these requirements are:


* A nonpartisan electoral commission or a trusted and nonpartisan official who will be responsible for organizing and conducting the electoral process before, during and after the actual voting takes place.  Although rarely perfect in their objectivity, such top administrators are at least subject to public scrutiny and responsible for the integrity of their decisions.  Florida voting officials have proved to be highly partisan, brazenly violating a basic need for an unbiased and universally trusted authority to manage all elements of the electoral process.

* Uniformity in voting procedures, so that all citizens, regardless of their social or financial status, have equal assurance that their votes are cast in the same way and will be tabulated with equal accuracy.
Modern technology is already in use that makes electronic voting possible, with accurate and almost immediate tabulation and with paper ballot printouts so all voters can have confidence in the integrity of the process.  There is no reason these proven techniques, used overseas and in some U.S. states, could not be used in Florida.

It was obvious that in 2000 these basic standards were not met in Florida, and there are disturbing signs that once again, as we prepare for a presidential election, some of the state's leading officials hold strong political biases that prevent necessary reforms.

Four years ago, the top election official, Florida Secretary of State Katherine Harris, was also the co-chair of the Bush-Cheney state campaign committee.  The same strong bias has become evident in her successor, Glenda Hood, who was a highly partisan elector for George W. Bush in 2000. Several thousand ballots of African Americans were thrown out on technicalities in 2000, and a fumbling attempt has been made recently to disqualify 22,000 African Americans (likely Democrats), but only 61 Hispanics (likely Republicans), as alleged felons.

The top election official has also played a leading role in qualifying Ralph Nader as a candidate, knowing that two-thirds of his votes in the previous election came at the expense of Al Gore.  She ordered Nader's name be included on absentee ballots even before the state Supreme Court ruled on the controversial issue.

Florida's governor, Jeb Bush, naturally a strong supporter of his brother, has taken no steps to correct these departures from principles of fair and equal treatment or to prevent them in the future.

It is unconscionable to perpetuate fraudulent or biased electoral practices in any nation.  It is especially objectionable among us Americans, who have prided ourselves on setting a global example for pure democracy.  With reforms unlikely at this late stage of the election, perhaps the only recourse will be to focus maximum public scrutiny on the suspicious process in Florida.

-------

Former president Carter is chairman of the Carter Center in Atlanta.


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Wednesday, September 29, 2004

Gallup Is At It Again. . .

Yesterday's National Poll Had 12% GOP Bias
by Independent Media TV - September 28, 2004

When reading this remember that according to pollster John Zogby, the turnout in last three elections has been, 34% Democrats, 34% Republican, and 33% Independents (numbers rounded up to the nearest whole number). BUT IN THIS POLL...

"Total Sample: 758  GOP: 328 (43%)  Dem: 236 (31%)  Ind: 189 (25%)"

DON'T BELIEVE the polls. . .


IMTV - Gallup has done it again.  After supplying CNN and USA Today with a poll two weeks ago that showed a double-digit Bush lead amongst likely voters that turned out to have a significant bias in its sample favoring the GOP, Gallup did it again yesterday.

Except that yesterday, they not only did it again, they apparently felt that a 7% GOP bias wasn't good enough.  So they perpetrated the same fraud upon the media (including their partners CNN and USAT) and voters and this time used a 12% GOP bias in their likely voter screen.  I kid you not.

Here is the text from the email I got from Gallup this morning outlining the party ID breakdown in their likely voter samples from their two most recent national polls:

Likely Voter Sample Party IDs - Poll of September 13-15 Reflected Bush Winning by 55%-42%

Total Sample: 767  GOP: 305 (40%)  Dem: 253 (33%)  Ind: 208 (28%)

Likely Voter Sample Party IDs - Poll of September 24-26 Reflected Bush Winning by 52%-44%

Total Sample: 758  GOP: 328 (43%)  Dem: 236 (31%)  Ind: 189 (25%)

Looking at this, again I have a simple question: how can anyone, especially USA Today and CNN, let alone the rest of the media take a Gallup national poll seriously when Gallup knowingly puts a poll out there for consumption with a 12% GOP bias in its likely voter sample that everyone knows does not exist in the country today or at any time in the last three presidential elections?

Yet this flawed poll showed a narrowing Bush lead from their similarly flawed poll of two weeks ago.  So if a poll with an unsupportable GOP bias of 12% in its likely voter sample, shows an 8% Bush lead amongst likely voters when a poll they used two weeks ago with a 7% GOP bias showed a 13% Bush lead with likely voters, then how can anyone not conclude that Kerry is doing much better than Gallup would have you believe?

By presenting these polls with this kind of bias, and then ensuring through CNN and USA Today the farthest possible media saturation, why is Gallup not guilty of engaging in a political disinformation campaign?

Original Link: http://www.theleftcoaster.com/archives/002881.html


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They Should Know. . .

Crawford Endorses Kerry!
by The Lone Star Iconoclast - Crawford, TX - Sept. 29, 2004

CRAWFORD, Texas - A tiny weekly newspaper that bills itself as President Bush's hometown paper has endorsed John Kerry for president, saying the Massachusetts senator will restore American dignity.


The Lone Star Iconoclast, which has a weekly circulation of 425, said in an editorial dated Sept. 29 that Texans should rate the candidates not by hometown or political party, but by where they intend to take the country.

"Four items trouble us the most about the Bush administration: his initiatives to disable the Social Security system, the deteriorating state of the American economy, a dangerous shift away from the basic freedoms established by our founding fathers, and his continuous mistakes regarding Iraq," the editorial said.

The Iconoclast, established in 2000, said it editorialized in support of the invasion of Iraq and publisher W. Leon Smith promoted Bush and the invasion in a BBC interview, believing Saddam Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction.

"Instead we were duped into following yet another privileged agenda," the editorial said.

The newspaper praised Kerry for "30 years of experience looking out for the American people" and lauded his background as "a highly decorated Vietnam veteran."

___

On the Net:

Lone Star Iconoclast: www.iconoclast-texas.com

Here's The Houston Chronicle's Report Link


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Timeline. . .

Comparing The Lives of Bush and Kerry
by Independent Media TV - May 10, 2004

Eye-Openingly Informative, with full source links provided.


Not reproduced here - You have to go there to see it.
Here's the Link.


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Tuesday, September 28, 2004

Manufactured Debates. . .

From AlterNet's News Log
by Evan at AlterNet.org - Sept. 27, 2004

With the formal Bush/Kerry debates rolling around, we're already engaged in what seems like a daily debate.  Bush says something truly astonishing like: Sure, I'd totally slide into that cool flight suit and declare "Mission Accomplished" again.  Kerry fires back that nearly 900 more American soldiers have died since that day and that it might have, well, not been the most respectful, accurate, or indeed truthful of declarations.

Or Bush claims that things are just peachy in Iraq despite fiercely contradictory reports by the CIA, his Secretary of State, and senior Republicans in congress.  Voters in key battleground states are beginning to get the message as well and waiting for Kerry to take the lead and offer them an alternative.

But how much of the message are voters likely to get during the highly-touted TV debates beginning this week?  Not much, probably.

The Committee for Presidential Debates is once again running the show allowing the two major parties to control every aspect down to "ordaining the temperature in the auditoriums," according to a new report by the Citizens' Debate Commission which was also the subject of Friday's NOW with Bill Moyers.

"(T)he CPD secretly submits to the demands of the Republican and Democratic candidates.  Behind closed-doors, negotiators for the major party nominees jointly draft debate contracts called Memoranda of Understanding that dictates precisely how the debates will be run – from decreeing who can participate, to selecting who will ask the questions..."

The CPD has run the debates since the League of Women Voters was kicked out in '88.  Since then, they've become canned performances by two actors and viewership has unsurprisingly been reduced dramatically (no pun intended).

While seeming like a safe bet for both parties at the time, this sidestepping of any real debate surely favors the linguistically-challenged Bush at a time when he should be on the ropes about his failing Iraq policy and his failure in every conceivable domestic realm as well.
Posted by Evan on September 27, 2004 @ 10:51AM.


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Quick Takes. . .

From The Infamous Chicago Sun-Times
by Zay N. Smith - Chicago Sun-Times - Sept. 27, 2004


Bush/Cheney putting new spin on terrorism

News Item: Terrorists target the 2004 presidential election and "democratic processes associated with the election."

News Item: President Bush announces that opponents who criticize his Iraq policy "can embolden an enemy."

News Item: Vice President Dick Cheney announces that opponents who criticize Bush administration Iraq policy are "destructive to our effort in Iraq and the global war on terror."

All right, terrorists.

We have some top people doing what they can to undermine the process of open debate in an election year.

Is there anything else you need help with?


Nice face

From Section 9 (a) (vi) of the Commission on Presidential Debates Memorandum of Understanding:

"When a candidate is speaking, either in answering a question or making his closing statement, TV coverage will be limited to the candidate speaking.  There will be no TV cut-aways to any candidate who is not responding to a question while another candidate is answering a question or to a candidate who is not giving a closing statement while another candidate is doing so, thereby permitting the candidates to make faces at each other as may be deemed appropriate by the respective representatives of the candidates."

Sorry. Made the last part up.

Flush with excitement

News Headline: "Belfast to host 2005 World Toilet Summit."

At long last, the prayers of the Northern Ireland Tourist Board have been answered.

Assault on common sense

J.R. Laredo, a Chicago reader, writes:

Didn't House Majority Leader Tom DeLay once say the Republicans would work hard to deliver the bills the president wanted?  So if the president had really wanted an assault weapons ban, wouldn't DeLay have really worked to deliver one?  Also, in a picture that ran on the front page of the Sun-Times during the hostage crisis at the school in Russia, that wasn't a gay couple wanting to marry dangling from the terrorist's hand, but an assault weapon."

The solution, if we are to uphold Bush administration family values, seems simple enough: The government should issue assault weapons to every gay couple.

Babble on

QT Modern Corporate Gibberish of the Week:

Sanofi, which merged with Aventis after rejecting Novartis, has acquired the rights to Arixtra and Fraxodi.

In perfect harmony

President Bush regarding foreign policy:

"A couple of days ago in New York, I was having a Diet Coke with my friend, Prime Minister Koizumi. . . ."

It has come down to this: Our presidential campaigns now feature product placement.

Earthy, man

We are living in the Cenozoic Era, for those keeping track.

Fun with Fidel

From Poor QT's Almanack:

On this day 44 years ago, Fidel Castro addressed the United Nations General Assembly for 4 hours 29 minutes in a speech reproduced here in digest form: "Although it has been said . . . to sum up our policies . . . very well, then, this is our policy."

*Classic mistake

QT Grammar R Us Seminar on the English Language (cont'd):

Tim Mooney, a Homewood reader, regarding ungrammatical song titles, writes:

"While another of your readers was grammatically correct in his assessment of 'Who Do You Love,' it is a crime that he attributes the song to those Delaware wannabes, George Thorogood & the Destroyers.  Anyone with a modicum of musical knowledge knows that Ellas McDaniel (a k a Bo Diddley) first recorded the song at Chicago's own Chess Records.  Shame, shame, shame."

"Asterisk" is mispronounced by 35.69 percent of Connecticutters, by the way.

QT is at qt@suntimes.com.


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Monday, September 27, 2004

Here Are The Real Differences. . .

Between Kerry and Bush
by The Old Hippie - Just Early Morning Reads - For This Blog

Even with the few, meaningful, similarities of both being extremely rich, both coming from Northeastern backgrounds, (Bush bought the ranch in 1999,) both having Skull & Bones membership at Yale, there are stark differences between Kerry and Bush.  I present a listing of the differences, based on the reality of fact, not political agenda-driven fog or propaganda.
I hope it helps. . .


[ Note: Each "issue" is a link to a google search concerning that issue. ]


- - - - - - - - - - - - -   Issue   - - - - - - - - - - - - -   Kerry   - - -   Bush


Corporate Privatization of Government                  Con               Pro
Corporate Privatization of Where Jobs Exist          Con               Pro
Corporate Privatization of Health care                   Con               Pro
Corporate Privatization of Environment                 Con               Pro
Corporate Privatization of the Schools                   Con               Pro
Corporate Privatization of Social Security              Con               Pro
Corporate Privatization of Women's Rights            Con               Pro

Decreasing Veterans Financial Benefits                 Con               Pro
Decreasing the Tax Burden on Corporations          Con               Pro
Decreasing Tax Burden on the Rich                      Con               Pro
Decreasing the Ability to Sue Corporations            Con               Pro
Decreasing the Separation of Church and State      Con               Pro


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Sunday, September 26, 2004

Forced Labor in the US

Americans Working More than Peasants in medieval times.

Harvard Study


AMERICANS WORK NINE WEEKS LONGER A YEAR THAN EUROPEANS
BETSEY HARTMANN, Z MAG


The 'Take Back Your Time Day' organization (www.timeday.org) estimates that on average Americans work nearly nine full weeks or 350 hours longer than their peers in Western Europe.  Working Americans average a little over two weeks of vacation a year,
Europeans five-six. Among the demands of the Take Back Your Time movement are three weeks minimum annual paid leave for all American workers.

Why are Americans working such grueling hours?  The decline of labor unions is surely a factor, but as Teresa Brennan argues in Globalization and its Terrors: Daily Life in the West, the theft of time is a structural condition of capitalist globalization.  There is an ongoing tension, she writes, "between the speed of production and the way that the reproduction of natural resources, including labor-power, cannot keep pace with that speed."

The costs of reproducing labor power through investments in health, education and social welfare become a "drag on the speed with which profits could be made."  Capitalism tries to resolve this tension by substituting speed and space for the time it takes to regenerate people and things, moving elsewhere after exhausting local resources.

Meanwhile, the mounting technological speed of production leads to what Brennan calls bioderegulation. "The faster the machine can go, the greater the temptation to make all components of production (including human labor) perform at the same pace."  In trying to keep up with this speed, the mind/body problem becomes a problem of the mind telling the body to "deregulate" - to go without adequate sleep, nutrition, and leisure. The result is psychological stress and stress-related illnesses, and the breakdown of community.



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How Do They Do It?

Here's The Short, And Long, Answers..

They could be forced to train their own replacement from the 3rd world, be laid off, audited by the IRS, and sick with West Nile, and STILL swear Bush is sent from heaven.

How do they do it?


"Why of course the people don't want war ... But after all it is the leaders of the country who determine the policy, and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy, or a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship ...Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders.  That is easy.  All you have to do is to tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger."
--Hermann Goering, Nazi leader, at the Nuremberg Trials after World War II

Now for a more in-depth answer, read this article "How Do They Get Away With It?"

by Dr. Paul Craig Roberts - A John M. Olin Fellow at the Institute for Political Economy and Research Fellow at the Independent Institute.  He is a former associate editor of the Wall Street Journal and a former assistant secretary of the U.S. Treasury.  He is the co-author of The Tyranny of Good Intentions.

Also see. . .  (just found this at cursor.org)

Jason Epstein reviews and Molly Ivins quotes from Thomas Franks' book "What's the Matter with Kansas?" which portrays "sturdy blue-collar patriots reciting the Pledge while they strangle their own life chances [and] small farmers proudly voting themselves off the land."


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Saturday, September 25, 2004

Something You Won't Find In The US Press

More Low Down on the Bushies

New Article in Gaurdian

Dave Emory on The Bushies


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Friday, September 24, 2004

Must Reads for Sept. 24, 2004

The Old Hip's Must Reads
by The Old Hippie - Just Early Morning Reads - For This Blog

A listing of current perspective articles of import and interest. . .  Enjoy. . .


= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =

No More Debate On Debates

Daily MoJo - September 24, 2004

After a week of negotiation, the Bush and Kerry campaigns finally agreed to terms for the upcoming presidential debates.  Despite earlier Republican posturing about limiting the number of discussions, the four dates proposed by the Commission on Presidential Debates – three presidential debates and one vice-presidential – were all accepted, with the first Bush/Kerry matchup taking place Sept. 30 at the University of Miami in Coral Gables, Fla.

- Full Article Link -


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Antarctic Glaciers Melting Faster - Study

Reuters - September 22, 2004

Washington - Glaciers once held up by a floating ice shelf off Antarctica are now sliding off into the sea -- and they are going fast, scientists said on Tuesday.

- Full Article Link -


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Congress Votes to Extend Tax Cuts

Washington Post - September 24, 2004

The House and the Senate overwhelmingly voted last night to extend three tax cuts aimed at the middle class, along with an array of business tax breaks, sending President Bush a $146 billion tax cut that would be his fourth in four years.

- Full Article Link -


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Three Years and Counting?

CounterPunch - September 23, 2004

When John Lee Hooker died three years ago, my friend Joe said, "I KNEW the heroin would get to him sooner or later!"  It was a good joke, because John Lee Hooker died at the age of 83.  It's like the joke about how Osama Bin Laden and the Mullah Omar 'can run, but they can't hide'.  It's three years now, and it looks like both of them have done much more hiding than running.

- Full Article Link -


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Electronic-Vote Critics Urge Changes to System

Reuters via Yahoo News - September 22, 2004

Washington (Reuters) - Voting activists on Wednesday enlisted computer experts, a trained monkey and a man on a hunger strike in a last-minute pitch to convince officials to improve the security of electronic vote-counting systems.

With six weeks to go before the Nov. 2 presidential election, activists said officials still have time to set up a paper trail as a counterweight to an electronic voting system they portrayed as wide open to manipulation.

- Full Article Link -


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Thursday, September 23, 2004

What Matters. . .

Are The Issues - Not The Politics
by The Old Hippie - For This Blog

And just what are the issues behind the fog of the politics?
Let me try to run them down for you dear reader. . .


  1.  Education:  Here's a link that sums it up well.

  2.  Health Care:  Here's a link that sums it up well.

  3.  Wealth Gap:  Here's a link to get you started.

  4.  Taxation Without Representation:  Since we bottom 95% no longer have representation
        in "our" congress, here's a link to help you to understand.

  5.  Privatization of Natural Resources:  Here's a link to get you started.

  5.  Resource Wars:  Here's a link that gives a fair perspective on this.

The last two have a lot to do with the "why" of this Iraq War, outside of the contrived ideological reasons stated in the corporate-controlled media, or the obvious structured emptying of the U.S. Treasury into the pockets of the few.

If you are one of the American idiots that still believe the Iraq War has anything to do with 9/11, you are in the wrong blog - You should surf Fox "News" sites to support your continuing denial of reality.


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Wednesday, September 22, 2004

They Actually Think They Have A Chanch. . .

President Bush, See You in Court
by Yuill Herbert - The Dominion - August 25, 2004

Judging the cost of climate change.


Frustration with the Bush Administration's failure to take meaningful action on climate change is spilling over into the courtroom.  Victims and potential victims of climate change, ranging from community organizations to city councils to entire nations, are taking legal action to force the US government to address the issue.

The Inuit people from the north of Canada and Alaska have indicated that they will launch a case against the American government at the Washington-based Inter-American Commission on Human Rights.  Sheila Watt-Cloutier is the chairwoman of the Inuit Circumpolar Conference, which represents all 155 thousand of her people inside the Arctic Circle.  She announced the lawsuit at a meeting where 140 governments were negotiating the final details of the Kyoto Protocol in December last year.  "This a David and Goliath story.  Most people have lost contact with the natural world.  They even think global warming has benefits, like wearing a t-shirt in November, but we know the planet is melting and with it our vibrant culture, our way of life...Europeans understand this issue but in America the public know little or nothing and politicians are in denial."

The US is the most obvious target for a climate change lawsuit according to a report written by Andrew Strauss, a professor of International Law at Widener University.  He explains that although the US has 5 per cent of the world's population, it emits 25 percent of the world's emissions and is actively impeding the ability of the global community to take collective action.

The government of the island nation of Tuvalu is also planning a case against the US and/or Australia at the International Court of Justice in The Hague.  Tuvalu's highest point is only four meters above sea level and scientists are predicting that the rising sea levels caused by climate change will swamp the island within the next fifty years.  Despite being in one of the most extreme positions in terms of damage from climate change, Tuvalu will have difficulty gaining a chance to make its case.  Neither the US nor Australia is expected to agree to the jurisdiction of the court, which is the most straightforward method for Tuvalu to gain a hearing; other options, such as International Court advisory opinions and dispute resolution clauses, do not present a clear legal path.

Although the court system is being promoted by experts such as Strauss as having a great deal of potential to force action on greenhouse gas emission reductions, the legal process is also extremely complicated, and with an issue as complex and far-reaching as climate change, promises to be slow and costly.

In his report Warming Up To a Not-So Radical Idea: Tort-based Climate Change Litigation, lawyer David Grossman suggests using the example of legal action brought against tobacco companies.  In these cases, expert testimony and scientific and statistical evidence showing the probability that smoking causes cancer was sufficient for the courts; the same methodology would likely apply to climate change.  With this method the courts will be less likely to fall victim to the same skepticism and haggling over facts that has toned down the wording of statements by international scientific bodies.

There are three broad legal options to encourage the US to address climate change, according to Strauss.  Plaintiffs harmed by climate change can bring actions against the Bush Administration in US federal court.  Plaintiffs can sue companies who have done a disproportionate amount of damage in either US federal court or foreign courts, or plaintiffs can call the US government itself to an international tribunal.

While the Inuit and Tuvalu have chosen international legal options, organizations within the US have launched cases in the federal courts.  The cities of Oakland, California, and Boulder, Colorado, in partnership with the Friends of the Earth and Greenpeace, have gone to court against two US government agencies-the Export-Import Bank (Ex-Im) and the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC)-for funding fossil fuel projects.  After the city council voted to join the lawsuit, Boulder Mayor Will Toor said, "All of the work that the city of Boulder does to maintain the quality of life for our residents will be negatively impacted by the detrimental effects of climate change.  We believe that this lawsuit is one way to force the federal government to start paying attention to this critical issue."

At the same time, twelve US states, several cities, and over a dozen environmental groups have joined forces to challenge the US Environmental Protection Agency's decision that it does not need to regulate US greenhouse gas emissions.  "The Bush Administration is asking for five more years of studies while the world is warming and regular people will pay the price," said Gary Cook, climate coordinator for Greenpeace.  "We are now asking the courts to intervene and order the EPA to enforce US environmental laws and take action to address global warming."

Although a variety of legal avenues are being explored, the United States seems to be a common target.  Watt-Cloutier explained why the Inuit have taken this approach, "We are hunters and we are trained to go for the heart.  The heart of the problem is in Washington."



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The Old Hippie's Groovy Blog

The Old Hippie's Groovy Blog

I just came across these two articles in Dan Denning's newsletter, thought it was an interesting take on Iraq and the Brit's ideas on Liberals.
An Ottoman Solution to Iraq

by Lord Rees-Mogg

Is there an Ottoman solution to the future of Iraq? Before the First
World War and the defeat and disintegration of the Ottoman Empire,
there was no single centralized government for the whole of Iraq.
That was essentially a British creation in the aftermath of 1918.

Under the Ottoman Empire, there was a geographical region, called
Mesopotamia, which was divided into provinces. The northern province
was predominantly Kurdish and had oil deposits around Mosul. The
southern province was predominantly Shiite and also had large oil
deposits. There was a Sunni population in the center, now described
as the Sunni Triangle. And there was Baghdad.

Baghdad was a large trading city with a historic background. It was
the seat of the Ottoman administration, which was the Turkish
government of a largely Arab population. Baghdad also had a large
Jewish population, estimated at about 450,000 in 1908. The Jewish
merchants in Baghdad had interests throughout Asia. The Sassoons, for
instance, had a major trading business in Shanghai and a substantial
presence in India and London.

The aim of the interim government under Iyad Alawi is to hold
elections next January for a democratic government for the whole of
Iraq. That would maintain the single Iraqi state that was imposed by
the British. After two revolutions, that state fell into the hands of
Saddam Hussein and the Baath Party.

At best, this new democracy is going to be extremely difficult to
achieve. There are doubts whether democratic elections can be held
when the security situation is so bad. There are two major threats:
the Mahdi Army under the leadership of Muqtada al-Sadr, the young
Shiite cleric, and the post-Saddam and largely Sunni terrorists of
the Sunni Triangle.

Fallujah has become a no-go area for allied troops. If the situation
is much the same in January, it will be very difficult to hold fair
democratic elections in either the Shiite or the Sunni areas.
Probably the majority of Shiite voters are, in fact, moderates, who
would vote for candidates who wanted a democratic and multicultural
society. But there is a danger of a Shiite fundamentalist victory in
the south.

As the Shiites compose 60% of the population of Iraq, an election
might well produce a Shiite religious government of a fundamentalist
character, perhaps under the influence of Muqtada al-Sadr.

At present, it would be virtually impossible to hold any democratic
election in the Sunni Triangle and pretty difficult in Baghdad
itself. This would, surely, invalidate a nationwide election. The
Kurds would no doubt vote for some sort of Kurdish majority in the
north, but that Kurdish group would be in a minority in the country
as a whole.

If Iraq went back to something closer to the Ottoman pattern, one
would get a Shiite south, a Sunni center, a Kurdish north and a mixed
Baghdad, though, alas, Baghdad has had no Jewish population for the
last 50 years. The south and the north would be the oil-rich
provinces.

At present, each of these provinces, with the exception of Baghdad,
has its own militia. The three main provinces, however, have a
natural majority in religious or ethnic terms, an existing militia,
and their own social structure. Two of them are oil rich.

The Shiites are opposed to a multiprovince, or federal, solution.
They want to hold Iraq together as a single country, because they are
the majority in Iraq as a whole. Admittedly, the Shiites will not all
vote the same way, but they would have preponderant political weight.
The Sunnis were opposed to the federal solution because, under Saddam
Hussein, they were the dominant class. Only the Kurds would strongly
prefer an Iraq of provinces, and they do not have the strength to
make that happen on their own.

Whichever candidate wins the U.S. presidency in November will have to
work out a new strategy for the United States in Iraq. The present
strategy of democratic elections in January followed by gradual U.S.
withdrawal does not look promising. The reality is that there are
militias on the ground; the preconditions for further terrorism, or
even for a civil war, already exist. The preconditions for a
democratic and stable Iraq, as a single state, probably do not.

The problem of the Iraq elections, which are supposed to lead to a
constitution, impinge on the United States. At present, the U.S.
casualties are lower than they were earlier in the year, but Iraqi
police and military casualties are higher. The U.S. forces are the
reserve troops that form the ultimate support for the interim
government. How long will the United States go on accepting
casualties if there is no prospect of an exit?

***Fox Hunting

Finally, I got caught in a mob early this week. The English turned
out en-masse in Parliament Square to protest against a new law from
the government banning fox hunting, which the powers that be have
decided is cruel and not fit for an enlightened, progressive,
multicultural society.

I was on my way to a "power lunch" meeting at the Adam Smith
Institute here in London. London is a hotbed of think tanks and
institutes, a little like Washington. But the Adam Smith types seem
like the type I'd want to have a few drinks with.

The topic of the day was how far the ideas of Friederich Hayek have
permeated into the political leadership of the United Kingdom. The
top was bashed around by a motley crew of libertarians,
conservatives, and closet-anarchists (no names mentioned.)

It surprised me that the conclusion of quite a few members of the
group is that Liberal societies simply can't tolerate ill-liberal
citizens. Here I mean Liberal in the classic sense of the word.
Wikipedia defines a Liberal this way: "Liberalism is a political
current embracing several historical and present-day ideologies that
claim defence of individual liberty as the purpose of government. It
typically favours the right to dissent from orthodox tenets or
established authorities in political or religious matters. In this
respect, it is held in contrast to conservatism."

Now there's an idea. That governments are instituted among men to
secure rights that existed prior to the government itself and are
unalienable (incapable of being repudiated or transferred to
another). And an even more radical idea, no one can deny you what you
do with your liberty simply because they don't like what you do with
it. You can worship a different God even, or no God at all. And you
can spit in the eye of majority, symbolically, as long as you don't
really spit in anyone's actual eye.

The problem, said the roundtablers, is that ill-liberal people (read
Muslims, although it was thinly veiled), don't accept these basic
liberal tennants. And therefore, unless a people believe in the
substance of what constitutes (there's that word again, constitution)
a society, that society has the right to keep those people out,
presumably, with both laws and guns.

Interesting. It does make you wonder though, just how Liberal our own
societies are. For instance, England has the highest number of closed
circuit television cameras per capita in the world. From the moment I
leave my apartment in Fitzrovia to the second I step through the
front doors of the Sea Conatainer's Building, odds are I'm being
watched somewhere, by somebody.

That's a small example. There's bigger ones, like the fact that 2
million people protested against a war in Iraq that most of the
country didn't seem to want, and it didn't make one bit of
difference. Or that a majority in parliament can outlaw a sport
practiced for genereations by people in the country side, simply
because it doesn't like it.

America, of course, is no better, and probably worse. Americans now
tolerate routine invasions into our privacy at airports. Closed
circuit cameras are also becoming popular, as is monitoring speeding
violations remotely throgh stationary cameras. And of course there
are income taxes, which started in 1913, but got even more perverse
with Milton Friedman's lamentable innovation, withholding, which
began in 1943.

Call it preemptive taxation, taking an American's money before he's
even had a chance to put it in the bank. How liberal is that?

The list goes on and on. In fact, the "war" the State makes against
Liberty has been raging since the founding of the Republic. Private
citizens and their liberty are the consistent loser.

The truth is, we already live in an illliberal society. If Lenin woke
up today in London or Washingtion, he'd probably be pleased with all
the progress his ideas have made, although he'd be wondering why the
public urinals were not yet lined with gold (give Bernanke time.)

Lenin, of course, was wrong about the workers of the world uniting
against the capitalists. They didn't. They became capitaslists. The
capitalist system, as it turns out, has been pretty good to workers,
delivering them better services at cheaper prices, on average, all
over the world.

But with $44 trillion in debt, Americans today are born free, and
everywhere find themselves chained to a government which they can
neither change nor prevent from impoverishing future generations.
What is a lover of liberty to do?


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Saturday, September 18, 2004

America's Thinking Hard At Work

Yesterday I had a woman tell me that she didn't understand why the government doesn't do something about these hurricanes that are spitting off Africa. If the hot air is hitting the ocean and maybe the rising temperature of the water is aiding the forming of the hurricanes - why didn't we just drop hug blocks of ice off the coast of Africa and cool things up again - or maybe stir up the ocean water so they couldn't form. For once in my life I was speechless! She was actually serious. All I could say was I thought she should email Bush and suggest that to him - maybe he would like the idea. . . What to do you think?

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Ahh. . .  Reality. . .

It's Like A Nightmare Bad-Trip/Twilight-Zone, But It's Reality.
by The Old Hippie - For This Blog

Almost all Americans today, even those who are purposely not "interested" in politics, know the reality of what America has become, in just a few short years, is not the America we grew-up in.
That America is gone.  The Democracy that stood up against the tyranny of the few, the Democracy that demanded freedom and liberty over private profits, the Democracy that protected itself, and its citizens, from the abuses of the power of greed, and the greed of power, the Democracy that spoke to its free citizens through a trusted and diverse free-media, the Democracy that stood up to the bullies of the world. . .  That Democracy - that America - is gone.


The honest and the sane-mature-knowledgeable talk about it and protest it, the opportunists lie about it and profit from it, and the fooled ignore it, while the ignorant and the truly stupid try to understand it. . . But all of us know - know - That the American Constitutional Democracy we grew-up in is gone.

It is the worst case scenario.  A small tight group of extremely rich opportunistic, criminally corrupt corporatists, together with another small tight group of insane ideological born-again fundamental religious zealots, many of which are in both groups, have successfully taken over America.  They have been able, in just a few short years, to disassemble almost all of the Democracy's protections, and replaced laws and regulations to "legally" protect their new America, to control the flow of information within our nation.  We all know it is true.  The Project for the New American Century has been quite successful - The reality is we now live in a "new" America - Which has become the opposite of the America the founders envisioned for us in the late 1700s.

We are now an aggressive imperialistic bully.  The most powerful one in the history of this planet.
And what scares me most, is the fact that so many "Americans" take deep pride and satisfaction in this fact.

Like so many Americans, I didn't really think I would live to see it happen, didn't really believe it could happen - But the tragic fact is it has happened.


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Friday, September 17, 2004

State of the Union. . .

For Many Americans. . .

Truth

This is the reality of life within the United States of America today, not some poor third-world nation.  It was not true when this nation's workers had a voice, when their government cared more for them, than the "needs" of the corporations.  We, the upper-middle-class and down, are in real deep trouble.  By extrapolation, because of the power-of-the-current-few that rule this the most powerful nation in history. . . so is the rest of this planet.


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Happens Every Day. . .

Our Savage Numbness
by Bob Harris - at This Modern World - Sept. 15, 2004


(Note: this entry posted by Bob Harris)

Been meaning to comment on this for more than a day, but busy unpacking.  A big damn deal, though.  I am deeply saddened by the following.  This is no longer a country I fully recognize.


Y'know how gradual changes, which can eventually become radical transformations, are sometimes only obvious to people who weren't around much?  Aunts and uncles are always saying the kids have grown so much -- which, of course, they have.

I've only been gone for almost a month.  Maybe it was like this before I left and I'm just now noticing...

Yesterday, I'm working and unpacking, and I've got CNN on in the background.  And I hear Wolf Blitzer, barking in that constant breathless get-the-kids-excited-for-Christmas, here-comes-another-shiny-pebble pacing of his, mentioning a video of a civilian journalist, Mazen al-Tumeizi, and about a score of other civilians (reports vary) getting killed in a U.S. airstrike.  About 60 other civilians were injured.

I didn't actually see the report live -- Wolf had already moved on to his next story -- but I was struck by how casual this was: innocent civilians killed in a U.S. airstrike, and it wasn't even the news hook; the death of the reporter was.  (CNN doesn't have a transcript up for the report I saw.  They do, however, have one for a later, similar report.  Scroll down, or just search for the words "I'm dying."  The entire mention of the U.S. inflicting over 70 civilian casualties is exactly four sentences long.  The Batman guy, meanwhile, got thirty.)

So, through the miracle of TiVo, I rewound.  And there it was.

Video.

Civilians.

Being killed by a U.S. airstrike.

Non-combatants.  Celebrating on a disabled U.S. vehicle, granted.  But civilians nonetheless.
Certainly not in combat against any U.S. troops.

In the foreground, a reporter just doing his job, frowning over some little technical glitch, maybe something he forgot to do...

Bang, boom.  No warning.  Just an incoming U.S. aerial attack.  "To prevent looters from stripping the vehicle," the Pentagon later says, classifying everyone within thirty feet as "looters" and sentencing them to summary execution.

Blood splashes on the lens.  The camera spins.  Tiny glimpses of terrible carnage.

Without a beat, without reflection, without even a moment of minimal thought, Wolf Blitzer moves on.  As do we, collectively.

And that's that.  America kills innocent civilians.  Lots of them.  And it's no big deal now.  Not controversial.  No reason to ask questions or rationalize or even pretend to soul-search like the national media once did.  America kills civilians.  Lots of them.  Just part of the fabric of things now.

Happens every day.

The military isn't pressed and can't be bothered for a detailed explanation about the incident, other than to blame the victims themselves.  "Great care should be taken by all to avoid and keep a safe distance from any active military operation as unpredictable events can occur," the U.S. spokesman says.

"Unpredictable events," they say.  Like an earthquake or a lightning strike.  Like an unprovoked attack from an Apache helicopter, firing on unarmed civilians, on tape, recorded for all the world to see.

Nobody's responsible.  These are "unpredictable events."

I say this next as the most articulate, precisely-worded response I can muster right now, summing up all my emotions quite clearly:  FUCK.

And yet there's no sizeable outrage in this country I can find.  Not in the mainstream, and not even much in the blogosphere, except for a few posts.

We are numb now.

We are killing.  We are killing in large numbers.  And we are numb to what we are doing.

That's it.  Game over.  We have lost.

Not the war.  Ourselves.

The war and much more will follow, soon, if we can't wake up from our savage numbness.

PS -- I was going to leave it at that, but there's more to say.

In the past year, I have personally visited three of the six biggest Muslim countries on Earth, and I have spoken at some length with ordinary Sunnis and Shia on four continents.  This week I have just returned from Egypt, where I listened to lots of perfectly average people on the street, in trains, shops, and cafes.

This is true, I swear: we have hundreds of millions more potential friends than America realizes right now.  And we are losing them for a generation or more.  I promise you that on my soul.

Seven days ago, I was in Alexandria, watching waves break against the rocky shoreline with a 20-year-old named Mahmoud who loves Bruce Lee movies and wants to visit China and study in the footsteps of his hero.  He's a devoted Muslim who playfully tried to talk me into converting; he also thinks Bin Laden is (his words) "against Islam."  You'd like this guy, I promise.  And he'd like you.

Mahmoud wanted very much to know was if Kerry is a good man, and if he would stop the killing, and how Americans could possibly support what is happening in Iraq.

I still don't know all the answers to his questions.  But that's what they were.

An hour earlier I was accosted by a tall and angry fellow shouting "I hate America!" over and over, in a tone half-accusing, half-demanding-an-explanation.  But he wasn't a mugger or anything; actually, he was well-dressed and clean-shaven and looked more like an accountant out for a stroll who was just pissed off about the news and took it out on the white guy.  I nodded and gestured for him to join me as I was walking, letting him vent.  Which he did.  (Hoo-boy.)  I think he assumed I was German, since that's the language we wound up butchering the most for a while.  I didn't stop him for a good stretch.  When it was my turn, I struggled with the words, so I eventually pointed at the sole of my shoe (the dirtiest part of the body) while saying the word "Bush," then mentioned Iraq and mimed my own broken heart.  (Both of these gestures were entirely accurate, I think.)  And then, feeling safer once he understood I wasn't his enemy, I reaffirmed that I was an American.

You should have seen this guy's face -- a blank look for a moment, a cursor while his hard drive spun... and then the anger was completely gone, replaced with curiosity and a little, I dunno... hope, even.  It was apparently news to him -- good news -- that Americans don't all support Bush, and all he wanted to know was how many more of us there were.  (Yes, the media there sucks even worse than it does here.)  Oh, man.  Suddenly he didn't hate "America" anymore.  He certainly didn't hate me.  He freakin' wanted to buy me a meal, people, just to hear more.

I could go on, (and I intend to, in a book I'm trying to find time to write, called Almost Seven Wonders about this last trip).  But the point is, we have many, many, many friends in this world who are reluctantly -- reluctantly, I tell you -- becoming enemies, and furious enemies at that.

It's not just about Bush, although he is almost universally disliked and/or little-respected, my hand to God, not just in the Islamic world, but damn near everywhere, once you leave these borders.  (I think it's fair to guess that Bush has become the most widely-despised president in all of U.S. history, and probably by a wide margin.  I certainly can't think of a precedent that comes close.)

Bush got us into this mess, and he deserves all the scorn he gets.  But what happens next is up to us.

Last week, as you might know, I got lost in a dodgy section of Cairo.  Soon, five bright and delightful boys decided to adopt me for a while and walk me to where I was going.

Unless things change, those same boys might want very much to kill me -- and you -- when they grow up.

Dear God.  What's coming...

posted by bob at 03:31 AM | link


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This Transcends Mere Politics. . .

Iraq Is Full of WMD
by Paul Harris - YellowTimes.org Columnist (Canada) - September 16, 2004


The United States went to war against Iraq in 2003 on the basis that Iraq was chock-a-block with ‘weapons of mass destruction’ (WMD). Eventually, the Americans had to admit they were wrong and they just couldn’t find those weapons. Many skeptics suspect the Bush administration lied about the WMDs in Iraq to cover a desire to invade and steal Iraqi oil.

Few understand that the United States is still lying. Iraq is full of WMDs, both used and unused, but the Bushoviks and their sycophantic media fail to alert the public because it is the Americans who are using them.


The United States has a long history of manufacturing, storing, selling and deploying WMD. As far back as the World War II, there is clear evidence of use by the United States of several chemicals which meet the current U.S. definition of WMD.

Most of us who point fingers at the Americans are best familiar with their exploits in Vietnam. Agent Orange and napalm are the best known WMDs used in Vietnam although they also deployed Agents White, Blue, Purple, Pink and Green (the ‘agents’ were so named because of the colour of distinguishing markers on their shipping containers). These products are actually herbicides, developed during the 1940s, but in Vietnam they became defoliants, used to strip away the trees and grasses in order to deny the enemy hiding places. Most of these products are known carcinogens and their extensive use in Vietnam has compromised the health of many who came in contact with them, including American forces.

Napalm, or jellied gasoline, was also used as a defoliant in Vietnam but, unlike the Agents, it burned the vegetation and killed by incineration anyone unfortunate enough to get in the way. Napalm bombs were also dropped on Japan by Allied troops during World War II and used in flamethrowers in Germany in the same war. Later, it was used by United Nations forces during the Korean War. Although its use was banned by the United Nations in 1980, the United States did not sign the agreement.

The U.S. claimed to have destroyed its supplies of napalm by 2001 but that appears to be a matter of semantics rather than fact; current evidence shows they have used it as recently as 2003 in Iraq. A report carried in The Independent on August 10, 2003 quotes Colonel James Alles, commander of Marine Air Group 11: "We napalmed both those [bridge] approaches. Unfortunately there were people there ... you could see them in the [cockpit] video. They were Iraqi soldiers. It's no great way to die. The generals love napalm. It has a big psychological effect." The Pentagon claims its denial of napalm use is not untrue because they have altered the petroleum distillate used and renamed the product the ‘Mark 77 firebomb’. Its victims will surely appreciate the clarification.

While the United States remains the only nation to actually drop an atomic bomb on an enemy, there have been four occasions in the past 15 years where the United States has actually engaged in nuclear war: in the Balkans, in Afghanistan, and in Gulf Wars I & II.

American soldiers have dropped Depleted Uranium (DU) on enemy combatants since 1991. It is lethal, it is horrid, and although it doesn’t have the bluster and showmanship of a mushroom cloud, it is still a nuclear bomb.

The use of DU is illegal under all international agreements, treaties, and covenants and it is illegal even under U.S. military law regarding WMDs. But in defiance of those international treaties, and its own laws, the United States continues to use this destructive material in full knowledge that its use could result in the slow annihilation of all species, including our own.

Depleted uranium is a waste by-product of nuclear weapons and domestic nuclear power. It is used in weapons because it is cheap, ignites easily and burns fiercely on hitting a solid target. When it impacts, it releases an aerosol of fine uranium oxide that is breathable and spreads great distances by wind until weighted down by rain, where it falls to the ground and is absorbed into soil or water sources. It was first developed for the U.S. Navy in 1968 and DU weapons were supplied to, and used by, Israel during the 1973 Yom Kippur War. Since then, the U.S. has sold DU weapons to at least 29 countries. The plans for this substance, however, actually date back to 1943. A declassified document from the Manhattan Project is a blueprint for depleted uranium weapons. The Americans have given DU to weapons manufacturers free of charge.

Scientists are quite certain on two points: DU is deadly; and the effects of this material will continue to contaminate the earth long after humans are extinct. They are also fairly clear that continued use of DU will mean the future is going to move ahead without us. Euphemistically, some in military circles refer to DU as the Trojan Horse of nuclear war, the ultimate gift that keeps on giving. The half-life of the material is 4.5 billion years.

This is very dangerous material: it meets the U.S. definition of a 'weapon of mass destruction' and while the United States is prepared to invade sovereign countries on the basis they 'might' have WMD themselves and they 'might' be willing to use them, the Americans actually have them and actually use them. And they use them in complete disregard for the people and nations on whom they are dropped, even in disregard of the health of their own and allied troops. In the three-week Gulf War in 1991, just 467 U.S. personnel were reported as wounded. Of the 580,400 GIs who served in that war, more than 11,000 are now dead and in excess of 400,000 are on permanent medical disability. New cases are arising by an astounding 43,000 per year. In a nutshell, more than 70% of those who served in the Gulf in 1990-91 now have medical problems. The only substances to which these troops are known to have been exposed are vaccines and depleted uranium. Vaccines do not cause the diseases these troops have contracted.

In response to the mounting evidence of the hazards, the American response has been to use the same material in the Balkans, in Afghanistan, and for a second time in Iraq. This transcends mere politics: it has now gone on through three presidential administrations. Even worse, the Americans knew the deadly hazard inherent in this material before they ever started to use it. A military report prepared by the U.S. Department of Defense in 1974 stated: “In combat situations involving the widespread use of DU munitions, the potential for inhalation, ingestion, or implantation of DU compounds may be locally significant.” A contractor to the military, Science Applications International Corporation, noted in a July 1990 report that “aerosol DU exposures to soldiers on the battlefield could be significant, with potential radiological and toxicological effects.”

Americans have cheered the successes of their military men and women in Iraq and Afghanistan and, to a lesser degree, in the Balkans. Most remain ignorant of the horrendous weapons their troops used to destroy such feeble enemies. Even more, they are almost completely ignorant of the hazards faced by their own troops from the toys at their disposal. There is no outrage in the U.S. for the dangers being faced by American troops, even less outrage for the innocent victims of this lethal onslaught. But America’s craven allies can offer no excuses for their silence. None of the information presented in this article is secret: it is readily available from a variety of sources. In several countries, there are victims of DU exposure who thought they were going to fight the good fight with their Yankee friends, little realizing that their best buddy was going to expose them to lethal substances, just because they could.

The American decision to initiate the use of DU weaponry, and then to continue its use even when evidence mounted to thwart any lingering doubts about the hazards, is a despicable act. This has been a cold, calculated decision to inflict long-lasting harm on enemies with no regard for the innocent in those lands and no regard even for American and allied troops.

There are few observers who would excuse any other nation behaving in this way from charges of war crimes.

Depleted uranium appears to have been given the green light in 1990 for three reasons: to test the efficacy of fourth generation nuclear weapons still in their development stage; to blur the distinction between conventional and nuclear weaponry; and to facilitate the reintroduction of nuclear weapons into the American arsenal. And it has done a marvelous job of stopping the enemy. Unfortunately, the side effects on civilian populations and the long-lasting environmental effects are horrendous.

If the use of this weaponry marks the future of American strategy, and given their proclivity for military adventures, the deleterious effects of DU on the environment and on the population of various countries is assured. More, the health of American and allied troops is also compromised.

The continued use of DU weapons should be sufficient reason for America’s allies to decline invitations to future military excursions. Regardless of the peril presented by the enemy, America’s allies need to be concerned about the peril presented by America.

[Paul Harris is self-employed as a consultant providing businesses with the tools and expertise to reintegrate their sick or injured employees into the workplace. He has traveled extensively in what is usually known as "the Third World" and has an abiding interest in history, social justice, morality and, well, just about everything. He lives in Canada.]


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Wednesday, September 15, 2004

You Know The Old Saying

The Neighborhood is Going Downhill

I found out a few things about some of my neighbors that live a few miles from here outside Lex KY, The Farrishes, I thought I would share with everyone. By the way the Bushes are the Farrishes gofer boys.


From Tarpley:

Before Christmas, 1988, and during other holiday periods, Bush customarily joined his billionaire crony William Stamps Farrish III at his Lazy F Ranch near Beeville, Texas, for the two men's traditional holiday quail hunt. This was the same William Stamps Farrish III whose grandfather, the president of Standard Oil of New Jersey, had financed Heinrich Himmler. William Stamps Farrish III's investment bank in Houston, W.S. Farrish & Co. had at one time managed the personal blind trust into which Bush had placed his personal investment portfolio. Farrish was rich enough to vaunt five addresses: Beeville, Texas; Lane's End Farm in the Versailles, Kentucky bluegrass; Florida, and two others. Farrish's hobby for the past several decades had been the creation of his own top-flight farm for the raising of thoroughbred horses. This was the 3,000 acre Lazy F Ranch, with its ten horse barns, four sumptuous residences, 100 employees, and other improvements. Over the years, Farrish has saddled winners in the 1972 Preakness and the 1987 Belmont Stakes, and bred 80 stakes winners over the past decade. Farrish, who is married to Sarah Sharp, the daughter of a Du Pont heiress, had worked with Bush as an aide during the 1964 senate campaign.

Farrish was rich enough to extend his largesse even to Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom, probably the richest individual in the world. The Queen has visited Farrish's horse farm at least four times over the past few years, travelling by Royal Air Force jetliner to the Blue Grass Airport in Lexington, Kentucky, accompanied by mares which Her Majesty wishes to breed with Farrish's million-dollar prize stallions. Farrish magnanimously waives the usual stud fees for the Queen, resulting in an estimated savings to Her Majesty of some $800,000. Farrish's social circle is rounded out by such plutocrats as Clarence Scharbauer, a fellow member of the horsey set who also happens to own the bank, the hotel, the radio station, oil wells, and an estimated one half of the city of Midland, Texas, the old Bush bastion in the Permian Basin.

Farrish has been described as the Bush regime's counterpart to Bebe Rebozo, Richard Nixon's sleazy crony. According to Bush, when he is watching movies, hunting, and playing tennis with his old friend Farrish, "we talk about issues. He's very up on things, but it's a comfortable thing, not probing beyond what I want to say." Michael York of the Washington Post wrote that "Farish says he'll always be one of Bush's biggest boosters, and he's ready at a moment's notice to make the resume argument in favor of Bush's being the best-prepared man ever to become president. It's also clear that Bush regularly asks Farish's advice on the budget, domestic policy, and politics." With a cabal of friends and advisers like William Stamps Farish III and Henry Kravis, we begin to comprehend the wellsprings of Bush's policies of parasitical looting of infrastructure and the work force. [fn 13]


MORE:

In l941, Standard Oil of New Jersey was the largest petroleum corporation in the world. Its bank was Chase, its owners the Rockefellers. Its chairman, Walter C. Teagle, and its President, William S. Farrish, had extensive connections with the Nazi government (Higham, Trading 32-5). However, by April l7 l945 the Chase National Bank "was placed on trial in federal court on charges of having violated the Trading With the Enemy Act." (Higham, Trading 26-31).

Standard Oil also taught the Nazi German chemical company I.G. Farben how to make tetraethyl lead and add it to gasoline to make leaded gasoline. That information was priceless, since leaded gas was essential for modern mechanized warfare. One I.G. Farben memo noted Standard Oil's help in procuring $20 million worth of aviation fuel. "The fact that we actually succeeded by means of the most difficult of negotiations in buying the quantity we needed... and transporting it to Germany, was made possible only through the aid of the Standard Oil Company (emphases added)."According to a l992 article in the Village Voice, Brown Brothers Harriman was the Wall Street investment firm that arranged for a loan of tetraethyl lead to the Nazi Luftwaffe in l938. A senior managing partner of the firm was George Bush's father, Prescott Bush. (It's A Conspiracy l25-7).


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Must Reads for Sept. 15, 2004. . .

The Old Hip's Must Reads
by The Old Hippie - Just Early Morning Reads - For This Blog

A listing of current perspective articles of import and interest. . .  Enjoy. . .


Fired
A woman was fired for displaying a Kerry/Edwards sticker on her car.
Full Article Link Here

Red Alert
It was billed as America's frontline defense against terrorism.  But badly underfunded, crippled by special interests, and ignored by the White House, the Department of Homeland Security has been relegated to bureaucratic obscurity.
Full Article Link Here

Are We Better Off?
A special series on the state of the union.
Full Article Link Here

Words To Chill The Soul.
Document 199-I and the FBI's words. . .
Full Article Link Here

When the Rabbits Get a Gun.
This is the comforting fiction: Osama bin Laden is a monster who sprang whole from the fetid mire.  He had no childhood, no influences, no education, no experiences to form his view of the world. . .
Full Article Link Here

The End Of 'Network News'.
What happened this summer, and particularly last week, is likely to be recalled as the end of the era of network news.  At the very least, mark this as the moment when the networks abdicated their authority with the American public.
Full Article Link Here

Pravda on the Potomac.
On Monday, August 2, millions of Americans were witness to a federal crime:  the "outing" of a double agent in the "war" against terrorism.  Yet today, a month later, the incident is largely forgotten, and no one is held accountable.  The primary culprit?  The corporate media.
Full Article Link Here

Chain of Command: The Road From 9/11 To Abu Ghraib
An interview with Seymoure Hersh on Democracy Now!
Full Video Link Here

Who Profits?
MoveOn.org's "The Waitress and the Lawyer" video ad. . .
Full Video Link Here

Halliburton Truth
Another video ad  (Realplayer Video)
Full Video Link Here


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Tuesday, September 14, 2004

7 Weeks To Go. . .

Just Seven Weeks Left Before The Election
by The Old Hippie - Just Early Morning Thoughts - For This Blog

What's Happening is not surprising, nor unexpected, with 46% of the registered electorate being Evangelical fundamentalists, with the successful opportunistic corrupt corporatist take-over of the American Democracy's three branches, its treasury, its regulatory agencies, its media, and the continued apathetic-denial of the purposely uninformed American masses.

Even in the face of mind-boggling revelations. . .


Revelations of corruption, at the cost of ten of thousands of innocent lives, at the cost of the American individual liberty and freedom protections from a police-state, through the Patriot Acts.
At the cost of the Separation of the Church and State protections.  At the cost of trillions of real dollars of debt - that by itself will cripple the Democracy - (many conservative economists say it already has.)  At the cost of over 3 million jobs.  At the cost of 35 million Americans now living in poverty.  At the cost of over 45 million Americans living without any health care protections.  At the cost of loyalty-oaths, free-speech zones, police that look like soldiers, soldiers that act as police in American cities.  At the cost of respect from all over the planet, not from just our "enemies."  At the cost of hope and sanity.

Madison, Paine, Jefferson, Adams, Hancock, Washington, Franklin, Roosevelt, Truman, among many others, were correct to be more than "concerned" about a theocratic and opportunistic take-over of our Constitutional Democracy, put into the control of the private interests of the few, because it has happened.

Even in the face of publicly exposed facts - Americans still deny that it has happened.  Some of us that are actually aware of the incredible history that is happening are still optimistic that the Democracy will survive this horror, but I am becoming less and less so as each day passes.  I sincerely hope that I am wrong - Because we have children and grandchildren.


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Monday, September 13, 2004

The '60s Are Gone. . .

A March To Irrelevance
By Matt Taibbi, New York Press. Posted September 11, 2004.

What positive effect did the protests during the Republican convention really have?

Hey, you assholes: The ‘60s are over!


I'm not talking about your white-guy fros, mutton-chops and beads.  I'm not talking about your Che t-shirts or that wan, concerned, young Joanie Baez look on the faces of half of your women.
I'm not even talking about skinny young potheads carrying wood puppets and joyously dancing in druid circles during a march to protest a bloody war.

I'm not harping on any of that.  I could, but I won't.  Because the protests of the last week in New York were more than a silly, off-key exercise in irrelevant chest-puffing.  It was a colossal waste of political energy by a group of people with no sense of history, mission or tactics, a group of people so atomized and inured to its own powerlessness that it no longer even considers seeking anything beyond a fleeting helping of that worthless and disgusting media currency known as play.

I don't want anyone to get the wrong idea.  I admire young people with political passion, and am enormously heartened by the sheer numbers of people who time after time turn out to protest this idiot president of ours.  But at the same time, I think it is time that some responsible person in the progressive movement recognize that we have a serious problem our hands.

We are raising a group of people whose only ideas about protest and opposition come from televised images of 40 years ago, when large public demonstrations could shake the foundations of society.  There has been no organized effort of any kind to recognize that we now live in a completely different era, operating according to a completely different political dynamic.  What worked then not only doesn't work now, it doesn't even make superficial sense now.

Let's just start with a simple, seemingly inconsequential facet of the protests: appearance.  If you read the bulletins by United for Peace and Justice ahead of the protests, you knew that the marchers were encouraged to "show their creativity" and dress outlandishly.  The marchers complied, turning 7th Ave. into a lake of midriffs, Billabong, bandanas and "Buck Fush" t-shirts.
There were facial studs and funny hair and man-sandals and papier-mache masks and plenty of chicks in their skivvies all jousting to be the next young Heather Taylor inspiring the next Jimi Hendrix to write the next "Foxy Lady."

And the New York Post and Fox were standing on the sidelines greedily recording all of this unbowed individuality for posterity, understanding instinctively that each successive t-shirt and goatee was just more fresh red meat for mean Middle America looking for good news from the front.

Back in the '60s, dressing crazy and letting your hair down really was a form of defiance.  It was a giant, raised middle finger to a ruling class that until that point had insisted on a kind of suffocating, static conformity in all things – in sexual mores, in professional ambitions, in life goals and expectations, and even in dress and speech.

Publicly refusing to wear your hair like an Omega house towel boy wasn't just a meaningless gesture then.  It was an important step in refusing later to go to war, join the corporate workforce and commit yourself to the long, soulless life of political amnesia and periodic consumer drama that was the inflexible expectation of the time.

That conformist expectation still exists, and the same corporate class still imposes it.  But conformity looks a lot different now than it did then. Outlandish dress is now for sale in a thousand flavors, and absolutely no one is threatened by it: not your parents, not the government, not even our most prehistoric brand of fundamentalist Christianity.  The vision of hundreds of thousands of people dressed in every color of the rainbow and marching their diverse selves past Madison Square Garden is, on the contrary, a great relief to the other side – because it means that the opposition is composed of individuals, not a Force In Concert.

In the conformist atmosphere of the late '50s and early '60s, the individual was a threat.  Like communist Russia, the system then was so weak that it was actually threatened by a single person standing up and saying, "This is bullshit!"

That is not the case anymore.  This current American juggernaut is the mightiest empire the world has ever seen, and it is absolutely immune to the individual.  Short of violent crime, it has assimilated the individual's every conceivable political action into mainstream commercial activity.
It fears only one thing: organization.

That's why the one thing that would have really shaken Middle America last week wasn't "creativity."  It was something else: uniforms.  Three hundred thousand people banging bongos and dressed like extras in an Oliver Stone movie scares no one in America.  But 300,000 people in slacks and white button-down shirts, marching mute and angry in the direction of Your Town, would have instantly necessitated a new cabinet-level domestic security agency.

Why?  Because 300,000 people who are capable of showing the unity and discipline to dress alike are also capable of doing more than just march.  Which is important, because marching, as we have seen in the last few years, has been rendered basically useless.  Before the war, Washington and New York saw the largest protests this country has seen since the '60s – and this not only did not stop the war, it didn't even motivate the opposition political party to nominate an anti-war candidate.

There was a time when mass protests were enough to cause Johnson to give up the Oval Office and cause Richard Nixon to spend his nights staring out his window in panic.  No more.  We have a different media now, different and more sophisticated law enforcement techniques and, most importantly, a different brand of protester.

Protests can now be ignored because our media has learned how to dismiss them, because our police know how to contain them, and because our leaders now know that once a protest is peacefully held and concluded, the protesters simply go home and sit on their asses until the next protest or the next election.  They are not going to go home and bomb draft offices, take over campuses, riot in the streets.  Instead, although there are many earnest, involved political activists among them, the majority will simply go back to their lives, surf the net and wait for the ballot.
Which to our leaders means that, in most cases, if you allow a protest to happen...  Nothing happens.

The people who run this country are not afraid of much when it comes to the population, but there are a few things that do worry them.  They are afraid we will stop working, afraid we will stop buying, and afraid we will break things.  Interruption of commerce and any rattling of the cage of profit – that is where this system is vulnerable.  That means boycotts and strikes at the very least, and these things require vision, discipline and organization.

The '60s were an historical anomaly.  It was an era when political power could also be an acid party, a felicitous situation in which fun also happened to be a threat.  We still listen to that old fun on the radio, we buy it reconstituted in clothing stores, we watch it in countless movies and documentaries.  Society has kept the "fun" alive, or at least a dubious facsimile of it.

But no one anywhere is teaching us about how to be a threat.  That is something we have to learn all over again for ourselves, from scratch, with new rules.  The '60s are gone.  The Republican Convention isn't the only party that's over.


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Sunday, September 12, 2004

My Hypothesis

The Aristocracy is going to bankrupt this country


I know is sounds farfetched but it is the only explaination I can find that makes any sense. Why would they want to do this? So they can buy everything up for pennies on the dollar and create a feudalist society.

Speeches ignore impending U.S. debt disaster
No mention of fiscal gap estimated as high as $72 trillion


Carolyn Lochhead, Chronicle Washington Bureau
Sunday, September 12, 2004

Washington -- The first of the 77 million-strong Baby Boom generation
will begin to retire in just four years. The economic consequences of
this fact -- as scary as they are foreseeable -- are all but ignored
by President Bush and Democratic challenger John Kerry, who discuss
just about everything but the biggest fiscal challenge of modern times.

Yet whoever wins the 2004 race will become the first U.S. president to
confront what sober-minded experts across the political spectrum
describe as an impending "fiscal catastrophe" lying right around the
corner.

Astronomical federal debt, coming due as the Baby Boom generation
collects Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security, is enormous enough to
swamp the promises both candidates are making to voters, whether for
tax cuts, health care, 40,000 more troops or anything else.

"Chilling" is the word U.S. Comptroller General David Walker uses to
describe the budget outlook.

"The long-term budget projections are just horrifying," added Leonard
Burman, co-director of tax policy for the Urban Institute. "I've got
four children and it really disturbs me. I just think it's
irresponsible what we're doing to them."

What these numbers portend are crippling tax increases on workers,
slashed benefits for retirees, gutted budgets for homeland security,
highways, research and everything else, and an economic decline or a
financial collapse that devastates the middle class, as happened
recently in debt-strapped Argentina. Eventually, analysts insist,
someone -- today's children or tomorrow's elderly or both -- will pay
this debt.

Traditional budget measures used by politicians and the press give
what Walker and many others call a highly misleading view of the U.S.
debt. These focus on publicly held debt already incurred, now at $4.5
trillion, or 10-year budget forecasts like the one released last week
by the Congressional Budget Office showing a record $422 billion
deficit this year and a $2.3 trillion 10- year deficit.

'Fiscal gap' in the trillions

But these figures, worrisome enough, are deceptive because they ignore
future liabilities such as Social Security and Medicare payments to
the Baby Boomers. An array of government and private analysts put the
actual U.S. "fiscal gap," which means all future receipts minus all
future obligations, at $40 trillion (Government Accountability Office)
to $72 trillion (Social Security Board of Trustees).

These are not sums, but present-value figures, heavily discounted to
show in today's dollars what it would cost to pay off the debt
immediately. The International Monetary Fund estimates the gap at $47
trillion, the Brookings Institution at $60 trillion.

"To give you idea how big the problem is," said Laurence Kotlikoff,
economics chairman at Boston University, who has written extensively
on the subject, to close a $51 trillion fiscal gap, "you'd have to
have an immediate and permanent 78 percent hike in the federal income
tax."

These obligations are not imaginary. And unlike the 1980s and 1990s,
economic growth cannot bail out the government because the Baby Boom
retirement is at hand. Those born in 1946 will reach age 62 in 2008,
allowing them to take early retirement and receive Social Security
benefits.

"It's a number that's so large that people find it implausible, and so
they don't think about it," said Alan Auerbach, a UC Berkeley
economist who studies the issue and consults for the Kerry campaign.
"But it's based simply on the projections we have for Social Security
and Medicare. People aren't making these numbers up."

A pathbreaking study by Jagadeesh Gokhale of the Federal Reserve Bank
of Cleveland and Kent Smetters, a former deputy assistant secretary at
the Treasury -- commissioned by former Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill
-- estimated a $44 trillion fiscal gap. It laid out a few painful
options on how to meet the liabilities:

-- More than double the payroll tax, immediately and forever, from
15.3 percent of wages to nearly 32 percent;

-- Raise income taxes by two-thirds, immediately and forever;

-- Cut Social Security and Medicare benefits by 45 percent,
immediately and forever;

-- Or eliminate forever all discretionary spending, which includes the
military, homeland security, highways, courts, national parks and most
of what the federal government does outside of the transfer of
payments to the elderly.

Such corrective actions grow more severe each year. Waiting just until
2008, the end of the next presidency, would mean raising the payroll
tax to 33. 5 percent instead of 32 percent, the study found.

Gokhale said that fresh numbers from the Medicare trustees show the
fiscal gap has since grown to $72 trillion, $10 trillion of that for
Social Security and an astonishing $62 trillion for Medicare, the
government health care program for the elderly.

"The long-term picture is pretty bad," Gokhale said.

Election's absent issue

These numbers are seldom discussed, least of all in the 2004
presidential race. Ironically, as the Baby Boom retirement has neared
-- and the remedies grow more painful -- political discussion has
faded. Gone is Ross Perot's anti-deficit crusade. Gone is Newt
Gingrich's call for Medicare restraint. Gone is Al Gore's "lockbox"
for the Social Security surplus.

Instead, Kerry and Bush promise only to halve the current deficit in
four years -- "both (of them) relying on pretty imaginative accounting
to get there" said Burman -- while promising more spending and more
tax cuts.

Yet today's deficit is a tiny fraction of the government's actual
liabilities, which are so daunting they promise to make Bush's tax
cuts a distant memory and Kerry's health care plan a fantasy.

While Bush and Kerry propose to address parts of the problem, "the
numbers don't add up on either side," Walker said.

Medicare makes up the bulk of these liabilities, driven mainly by the
expanding elderly population and rapidly rising health costs. Social
Security, more often discussed as a looming problem, actually accounts
for far less in future debt.

While Congress squabbles over whether the administration hid the new
prescription drug benefit's 10-year cost -- pegged by the White House
at $534 billion versus CBO's $395 billion -- the actual liability
incurred by the new drug benefit is estimated at $8 trillion to $12
trillion.

Kerry and Democrats call the drug benefit inadequate. They would do
little to restrain Medicare costs other than allowing the importation
of price- controlled drugs from Canada.

Bush and Republicans added the drug benefit along with costly
subsidies to providers. Even optimists do not expect their modest
market reforms to cut costs.

Promises, promises

Kerry has promised not to cut Social Security. "I will not cut
benefits," he said recently. "I will not raise the retirement age."

Democrats generally cite "trust fund" numbers that show Social
Security - - and Medicare to a lesser extent -- remaining solvent for
decades, even though government officials repeatedly call the numbers
an accounting fiction. CBO director Douglas Holzt-Eakin last week said
the funds contain nothing but "electronic chits" that measure
government obligations to itself.

Bush proposes adding private accounts to Social Security for younger
workers, which could reduce future government obligations, but would
do so by diverting a portion of the payroll tax, adding $1 trillion to
the short-term deficit. That might have been feasible when Bush took
office in 2000 facing a projected $5.6 trillion surplus, but the
surplus is gone. Similar plans in Congress that instead rely more on
benefit cuts have gone nowhere.

"The country's absolutely broke, and both Bush and Kerry are being
irresponsible in not addressing this problem," Kotlikoff said. "This
administration and previous administrations have set us up for a major
financial crisis on the order of what Argentina experienced a couple
of years ago."

If this sounds far-fetched, former Bush Treasury Undersecretary Peter
Fisher and former Clinton Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin both alluded
to such a scenario at a June budget forum in Washington.

"Having been involved in markets for a long, long time," Rubin said,
"I can tell you these things can change unexpectedly and without
warning," referring to potential financial market reactions to the
U.S. fiscal position.

Fisher warned of a "pivot point" when "the collective wisdom of bond
traders thinks that the deficit horizon has turned," adding, "Both Bob
and I are nervous."

The world has seen fiscal imbalances of this sort before, in Asia and
Russia in the late 1990s and more recently in South America. Such
financial panics can be triggered by any number of events -- a flight
from Treasury bonds by the foreigners who buy much of the U.S. debt,
for example -- if investors' views of the market, which are focused on
the short term, suddenly change.

"If you look at financial crises, they occur seemingly overnight,"
said Kotlikoff. "More and more pieces of straw drop on the camel's
back, and all of a sudden, the camel collapses. ... Nobody knew
exactly what day Argentina was going to go south or exactly what day
Russia was going to default. The timing is up for grabs."

But early signs of a problem are now appearing, analysts said,
starting with the mounting deficits under Bush caused not just by the
recession and terrorist attacks, but also by enormous spending
increases and tax cuts. The brief window of surpluses that appeared
during the late 1990s economic boom offered a chance to address
long-range liabilities, but those surpluses now are gone.

"Maybe the public doesn't want to hear it," Kotlikoff said. "Maybe
politicians think ... the American public can't understand the truth
or hear the truth or bear the truth. I think this is garbage. I think
that people care about their kids and grandchildren and need to know
the dangers facing them --

and us."

E-mail Carolyn Lochhead at clochhead@sfchronicle.com.




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