Earl Bockenfeld's Radio Weblog : America's real drug problem, is called television. --Greg Palast


Looking for a Story? Check:



Great Sites:

Subscribe to "Earl Bockenfeld's Radio Weblog" in Radio UserLand.

Click to see the XML version of this web page.

Click here to send an email to the editor of this weblog.



Earl Bockenfeld's Radio Weblog

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Thank You, Grandson

I will be away, and won't be posting for the next week.  I  am going to
greet my grandson, as he returns to the US from a tour  of duty in Iraq.
Will talk to you later.

categories: Heart
Other Stories according to Google: Happy Birthday Grandson Cards * Free Grandson Birthday Cards | What Our Guests Are Saying: As my grandson said, "This place rocks!" | Beliefnet.com | WOTE Program Three: Turtle Island Storytellers | Liquid Plastic: My Circle of Friends. Yes You ! Thank YOU .. | BLACKFIVE: Thanksgiving in Fallujah - Emails Home | Thank you's | Testimonials of Jill Leite's paintings - Jill Leite Studio | ' Thank you for saving my life' / Tears flow as organ recipients | Google Answers: David Livingstone

7:21:32 PM    

What Big Oil Knows About Biofuels That You Don't

I would have thought McDonalds would be all over biodiesel. Have half the cars in town running about with the smell of McFries coming out of the exhaust…..with a sign on the back saying ‘follow me to your nearest Temple of the Clown’…

As rising energy prices trigger growing concerns on the part of Americans, the energy industry is determined to maintain the status quo and stall on a major opportunity to reduce energy dependence – the production of biofuels. In Brazil, cars have been running on biodiesel for years, while in Sweden, Ford's flex-fuel models are outselling its ordinary petrol and diesel cars.

Energy industry officials have no shortage of excuses on why they can’t move forward on biofuels. In a recent BBC article, one unnamed industry official asserted that “there’s simply not enough foodstuff available and not enough land to grow it on” to keep up with the “growing demand for [grains] used to produce biodiesel.” A day earlier a New York Times article quoted an agricultural expert warning that demand for foodstuff for biofuels might mean higher food prices, instability and even corn shortages.

But the facts don’t back up their arguments. In the face of growing energy demands from China and India and global population growth, an international corn shortage isn’t possible anytime soon:

First, developing a biofuel economy can actually help reduce hunger and poverty by diversifying agricultural and forestry activities, attracting new farmers, and investing in small and medium enterprises. Increased investment in agricultural production has the potential to boost incomes of the world’s poorest people.

Second, world hunger is not the result of absolute food scarcity in the world. Hunger has more to do with inadequate distribution and income. Presently, nearly 40 percent of global cereal crops are used to feed livestock, not humans.

Finally, biofuel refineries in the future will depend less on food crops and more on organic wastes and residues. The greatest potential from sustainable transportation fuels will come from emerging technologies that produce alcohol fuels from cellulose (“cellulosic ethanol”) which unlike corn ethanol, also uses the stalks, hulls and other woody, rigid material that makes up the plants.

Ethanol, coupled with strong efficiency and smart growth policies, could dramatically reduce, if not eliminate the United States’ need for oil. Don’t let the naysayers tell you any different. In Brazil, where biofuel cars now outsell ordinary cars, a state-run bioethanol fuel programme was originally set up for patriotic, not financial or environmental reasons. It was a strategic decision taken by the military government that ran the country from 1964 to 1985, inspired by a desire to reduce its dependence on petroleum imports following the 1970s oil crisis.

Ethanol is biofuel, and it comes from plant matter/sugar in general. If you read the thread further up, you’ll see discussions about it being produced from sugars such as those in Corn and Sugar Cane (brazil uses this path), but the real future lies in converting biomass agri waste into ethanol. Unlike gasoline which burns fossilized carbon and increases greenhouse gases with new carbon sources, this uses carbon already in the current environment. It’s desirable from a global warming perspective.

And yes, the E85 cars are great - ford has been making them in brazil for years. A percentage of ‘flex fuel’ cars as they call them which will burn either ethanol, gasoline or a dynamic mix of either is required by law, and therefore common there. There’s no reason the american car companies couldn’t build these same cars in the US, other than their corporate ties to big oil.

But do not lose faith, true believers. The exhaust from Nelson's diesel-powered Mercedes smells like peanuts, or French fries, or whatever alternative fuel happens to be in his tank. Willie Nelson drives a Mercedes.

"I drove the car, loved the way it drove," Nelson said. "The tailpipe smells like French fries. I bought me a Mercedes, and the Mercedes people were a little nervous when I took a brand new Mercedes over and filled it up with 100 percent vegetable oil coming from the grease traps of Maui. I figured I'd be getting notices about the warranty and that stuff. However, nobody said anything."

"I get better gas mileage, it runs better, the motor runs cleaner, so I swear by it," he added.

While Bono tries to change the world by hobnobbing with politicians and Bob Geldof hosts his mega-benefit concerts, Willie Nelson has birthed his own brand of alternative fuel. It is called, fittingly enough, BioWillie. And in BioWillie, Nelson, 72, has blended two of his biggest concerns — his love of family farmers and disdain for the Iraq war.

BioWillie is a type of biodiesel, a fuel that can be made from any number of crops and run in a normal diesel engine.

I knew we needed to have something that would keep us from being so dependent on foreign oil, and when I heard about biodiesel, a light come on, and I said, 'Hey, here's the future for the farmers, the future for the environment, the future for the truckers," Nelson said in an interview earlier this month. "It seems like that's good for the whole world if we can start growing our own fuel instead of starting wars over it."

In some ways, it is a return to the origins of the diesel engine; some of Rudolf Diesel's first engines ran on peanut oil more than a century ago. Biodiesel can cost as much as a $1 a gallon more than regular diesel when pure, though it is typically sold as B20. Prices vary depending on volume and region, and new tax incentives are aimed at closing the cost gap. In fact, BioWillie was selling for $2.37 a gallon on Thursday in Carl's Corner, Nelson's own truck stop in Texas that serves as headquarters of his year-old company, Willie Nelson BioDiesel. That was just 4 cents more than the conventional diesel selling at another station nearby.

The best practical advise I have seen in a long time. Personally I have started gardening and collecting useful non-electric handtools (and learning how to use them!!). I have some ideas about being a blacksmith, but where would you get decent coal post-PO? Never mind Iron. I think it might be better to learn how to handle a horse. It gets pretty chilly up past the 45th parrallel and hauling firewood can be a task. Mules or even dogs can be used to pull carts. Dogs have the advantage of being able to eat intruders.

categories: Outrages
Other Stories according to Google: Make your own biodiesel: Journey to Forever | Straight vegetable oil as diesel fuel: Journey to Forever | AlterNet: Over the Peak | Other Biofuels | Too sexy for my tank | Gristmill: The environmental news blog | Oil independence and the electorate | Gristmill: The environmental | Breakthrough in Biodiesel Production | Record Oil Prices | Vegetable oil Benz - hack a day - www.hackaday.com _ | BioDieselNow Forums - Biodiesel not so energy efficient?

4:11:08 PM    

Pat Robertson's Counts His $14.4M Federal Blessings

Jesus was all about sucking up vast sums of money, casting stones at the lifestyles of others and waging war for oil. Have any of Robbersin’s & Fartwell’s followers ever even cracked the New Testament?

Under President Bush, right-wing fundamentalist Pat Robertson’s international “charity” Operation Blessing has increased its annual revenue from government grants from $108,000 to $14.4 million.

Operation Blessing, with a budget of $190 million, is an integral part of the Robertson empire. Not only is he the chairman of the board, his wife is listed on its latest financial report as its vice president, and one of his sons is on the board of directors.  Back in 1994, during the infamous Rwandan genocide, Robertson used his 700 Club’s daily cable operation to appeal to the American public for donations to fly humanitarian supplies into Zaire to save the Rwandan refugees.  The planes purchased by Operation Blessing did a lot more than ferry relief supplies.

An investigation conducted by the Virginia attorney general’s office concluded in 1999 that the planes were mostly used to transport mining equipment for a diamond operation run by a for-profit company called African Development Corp.  I guess he Bush Administration never got the memo about the Virginia attorney general's investigation.

At least buying votes from the evangelical community gets you a second term. The Pharisees spun capitalistic profits from their religious order back in Biblical times and Jesus rebuked them. I’d really like to get my hands on Robertson’s books…see if his association is TYCOING the evangelical right at all — then create a plethora of negative publicity rebuking Robertson’s association!

At Agitprop, we're going to try to get him to give it to Katrina victims. For real.

Our tax dollars helping Pat (and pal Mobutu Sese Seko) mine diamonds and call for the death of Hugo Chavez and the destruction of Dover, PA? No no no no no! Write to Pat and tell him to pray that someone or something will cause him to give the money to Katrina victims. We did!

So let's go back a couple of months to the budget debate in Congress. Back then, Dems were called irresponsible and not serious about trimming the budget because they opposed taking food out of the mouths of poor families and school children. The GOP did it anyway. Anyway, where was this $14 million during that discussion? How many families would that money put BACK into the food stamp program? How many school lunches could it buy for how long? And most importantly, what on earth is Robertson doing with the money? Is HE feeding and providing healthcare to the poor? I doubt it.

categories: Outrages
Other Stories according to Google: Politics Coming Out Your Ears: September 2004 | | Calibre Macro*World

2:32:20 PM    

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

It's Time To Consider Surfing The Web Anonymously

Open source software such as
Tor are not likely to have an explicit govt backdoor, as the developer community would find out. None of the tools guarantee privacy or anonymity, but adopted in large numbers they make the job of large-scale snoopers much harder.  I don't think that targeted lawful surveillance would be hindered significantly by such tools, but large-scale fishing expeditions may become impossible until the NSA has large-scale quantum computing - which they may have ... soon?.

Anonymous Web surfing allows a user to visit Web sites without allowing anyone to gather information about which sites the user visited. Services that provide anonymity disable pop-up windows and cookie s and conceal the visitor" These services typically use a proxy server to process each HTTP request:. When the user requests a Web page by clicking a hyperlink or typing a URL into their browser, the service retrieves and displays the information using its own server. The remote server (where the requested Web page resides) receives information about the anonymous Web surfing service in place of the user's information.. Anonymous Web surfing is popular for two reasons: to protect the user's privacy and/or to bypass blocking applications that would prevent access to Web sites or parts of sites that the user wants to visit.

Anonymous proxy servers hide your IP address and thereby prevent unauthorized access to your computer through the Internet. They do not provide anyone with your IP address and effectively hide any information about you and your reading interests. Besides that, they don’t even let anyone know that you are surfing through a proxy server. Anonymous proxy servers can be used for all kinds of Web-services, such as Web-Mail (MSN Hot Mail, Yahoo mail), web-chat rooms, FTP archives, etc. ProxySite.com - a place where the huge list of public proxies is compiled. In a database you always can find the most modern lists, the Proxy are checked every minute, and the list is updated daily from various sources. The system uses the latest algorithm for set and sortings of servers by proxy, servers for anonymous access are checked.

Any web resource you access can gather personal information about you through your unique IP address – your ID in the Internet. They can monitor your reading interests, spy upon you and, according to some policies of the Internet resources, deny accessing any information you might need. You might become a target for many marketers and advertising agencies who, having information about your interests and knowing your IP address as well as your e-mail, will be able to send you regularly their spam and junk e-mails.

Anonymous surfing is a security issue for your computer, as well as a privacy issue for your identity.  A web site can automatically exploit security holes in your system using not-very-complex, ready-made, free hacking programs. Some of such programs may just hang your machine, making you reboot it, but other, more powerful ones, can get access to the content of your hard drive or RAM including passwords, pin numbers and bank account info. Everything a web site may need for that is only your IP address and some information about your operating system.

Increasingly, consumers appear to be downloading free anonymity software like Tor, which makes it harder to trace visits to Web sites, online posts, instant messages and other communication forms back to their authors. Sales are also up at companies like Anonymizer.com, which among other things sells software that protects anonymity.

This New York Times article on Internet privacy inspired the thought that one good way to protest at least some of the behavior of an American government acting like a third rate Stalinist satellite is to make anonymous websurfing the standard.

As you probably know, Google is locked in a fight to turn over their users' identification data to George W. Bush, ostensibly so Bush can "establish a profile of Internet use that will help it defend the Child Online Protection Act, a 1998 law that would impose tough criminal penalties on individuals whose Web sites carried material deemed harmful to minors" .   Those who object to this blatant Big Brotherism are met with the fallacious accusation that they are in favor of young kids being exposed to pornography and with the equally fallacious fascist threat that if you have nothing to hide you have nothing to fear.

You don't like George Bush having the opportunity to spy on you? Make yourself invisible, even when you surf for groceries. That way, simply using anonymity software will not be considered suspicious in itself - hey, I forgot to turn it off! And obviously, the more people who use anonymity software, the less suspicious its use by any one person.

You might ask: How good is this stuff? Does George Bush have a backdoor into these programs or their techniques, rendering them useless against a malicious US administration? Are they difficult to set up and use? Do they slow down web surfing and emailing?  I don't know. I've been told that PGP is exactly what it says it is: pretty good privacy, meaning it takes a very sophisticated computer program a considerable amount of time to decrpyt. The others are new to me so if anyone has any info please drop a note in the comments.

Anonymize.net http://anonymize.net/
Providers of anonymous secured Internet access service where all traffic is routed through an encrypted VPN connection.

iPrive.com http://www.iprive.com/
Web-based privacy enhancing proxy service. Offers URL encryption, advertisement blocking, anonymous email and an IE toolbar.

Proxy Web Servers in Libraries http://www.pandc.org/proxy/
Presentations and surveys describing the uses of proxy servers (free and commercial) to solve library networking problems such as speed and filtering.

Domain Forte http://anon.domainforte.com
Anonymous Web surfing via CGI proxy

KeepItSecret.com http://www.keepitsecret.com/
Commercial anonymous web browsing. No download required.

Proxy Stealth Tests http://stealthtests.lockdowncorp.com
These tests will allow you to check to see if your proxy is anonymous.

Somebody Anonymizer http://somebody.net/
Commercial service provides proxy, enhanced DNS, privacy protection, anonymous surfing, anonymous mailing and anti-censorship services.

My advice if you want to try this, is to first select the free choices.  Try one, if you like it, upgrade or use keep using it.  If you don't like it, then choose another free one, and give it a test drive.  I would also suggest visiting a "Proxy Stealth Test" and find out what private information about you that your browser is providing to the internet sites that you visit.  If you pick an anonymizer, then return to the Proxy Stealth Test site to make certain the Anonymizer is truly doing it's job.  Good luck.

categories: Outrages
Other Stories according to Google: Secure anonymous web surfing with Megaproxy® Web SSL VPN | EFF: | FindNot - Anonymous Surfing , Anonymous Email & Anonymous Internet | GhostSurf - surf anonymously online and protect your identity | Fortress PC | Protect Your Anonymity on the Web | AnonBlog - Global Voices | Early transition: Web security and stealth | Can you surf without wiping out? - Girls Gone Wired - MSNBC.com | Kaxy - Anonymous Web Surfing . How it works.

10:39:24 PM    

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Pentagon Study: US Army Could Be Near Breaking Point

Now, why is it that Americans think Bush is making us safer when he is literally destroying our military? No wonder Iran is making all those nuclear noises.... they aren't afraid of Bush because they know we may no longer possess the military means to make good on our threats.

You get the commander in chief you vote for, instead of the CIC you would like :

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Stretched by frequent troop rotations to Iraq and Afghanistan, the Army has become a "thin green line" that could snap unless relief comes soon, according to a study for the Pentagon.

Andrew Krepinevich, a retired Army officer who wrote the report under a Pentagon contract, concluded that the Army cannot sustain the pace of troop deployments to Iraq long enough to break the back of the insurgency. He also suggested that the Pentagon's decision, announced in December, to begin reducing the force in Iraq this year was driven in part by a realization that the Army was overextended.

As evidence, Krepinevich points to the Army's 2005 recruiting slump - missing its recruiting goal for the first time since 1999 - and its decision to offer much bigger enlistment bonuses and other incentives.

"You really begin to wonder just how much stress and strain there is on the Army, how much longer it can continue," he said in an interview. He added that the Army is still a highly effective fighting force and is implementing a plan that will expand the number of combat brigades available for rotations to Iraq and Afghanistan.

Krepinevich said in the interview that he understands why Pentagon officials do not state publicly that they are being forced to reduce troop levels in Iraq because of stress on the Army. "That gives too much encouragement to the enemy," he said, even if a number of signs, such as a recruiting slump, point in that direction.

Krepinevich is executive director of the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, a nonprofit policy research institute.

So John Murtha was right after all!!!

Join the Army, It's not just a job but an adventure. While you are fighting in a foreign land the company that is supposed to take care of your nutritional needs will POISON YOUR WATER. The orders you take and follow from your commanders will land you up to 10 YEARS IN JAIL. While the Army will not provide you with body armor, if you buy your own and get killed, THE ARMY WON'T PAY YOUR DEATH BENEFITS!!!! While you are fighting your presidents war, he is back home CUTTING YOUR VETERAN BENEFITS!!!! You get to see exotic locations, LIKE IRAQ, AGAIN AND AGAIN AND AGAIN AND AGAIN AND AGAIN........

Adding to all the manpower problems, is the dirtiest little secret of  Depleted Uranium.  This week the American Free Press dropped a "dirty bomb" on the Pentagon by reporting that eight out of 20 men who served in one unit in the 2003 U.S. military offensive in Iraq now have malignancies. That means that 40 percent of the soldiers in that unit have developed malignancies in just 16 months.

Just like Agent Orange and Vietnam, they hope all of the injured will die before they have to pay.

"Bush's mistakes have consequences, and anyone who says that his errors are water under the bridge doesn't understand that we're still standing on that bridge, and it's crumbling."

Mistakes?...Has Bush made any mistakes? The newest, thinest book ever just came out. Things Bush did right.

categories: Outrages
Other Stories according to Google: blogrunner: The New York Times - United States Armament and | Free Republic | latest articles | Keyword | Washington and Cairo - Near the Breaking Point ? - Middle East | PARAMETERS, US Army War College Quarterly - Spring 2000 | LP: Iraq Sticker Shock($2 trillion) | Washington and Cairo - Near the Breaking Point ? | AES Site Map | abc7.com: US Army Helicopter Crashes Near Mosul | The New Yorker: Fact

7:57:53 PM    


Chris Matthews:Media Matters disinformer of the year and as Bob Somerby has noted he is the fakest man alive. Since I have low blood pressure, I tune in to Hardball solely to raise my heart rate. It's cheap cardio although the downside is a flat line Alpha wave.

Chris Matthews has a hard-hitting interview coming up with Tom Delay. During last night's Hardball, there was a preview. Watch it:

MATTHEWS: OK, I've got to ask you a cosmic question.


MATTHEWS: Tom DeLay, you are not in this business for the money. You live modestly You commute back and forth from Washington to Houston, Texas. Why? What drives you every day?

One thing's for sure: he doesn't live as "modestly" as those woman working for sub–minimum wage in Saipan

How Tom DeLay actually lives:

As Tom DeLay became a king of campaign fund-raising, he lived like one, too. He visited cliff-top Caribbean resorts, golf courses designed by PGA champions and four-star restaurants, all courtesy of donors who bankrolled his political money empire.

Over the past six years, the former House majority leader and his associates have visited places of luxury most Americans have never seen, often getting there aboard corporate jets arranged by lobbyists and other special interests.

Public documents reviewed by the Associated Press tell the story: At least 48 visits to golf clubs and resorts; 100 flights aboard company planes; 200 stays at hotels, many world-class; and 500 meals at restaurants, some averaging nearly $200 for a dinner for two.

Sugar Land is not "modest" relative to the rest of Houston. Here’s a blurb on it:

“As Sugar Land is widely considered one of the wealthiest suburbs in the state, many celebrities live in and around Sugar Land, including Houston Texans’ quarterback David Carr, Olympic gold medalist Tara Lipinski, former Houston Astros great Terry Puhl and Destiny’s Child singer Kelly Rowland. Still, more celebrities simply keep houses in the upscale, but quaintly Sweetwater subdivision in the master-planned community of First Colony, such as Hakeem Olajuwon, Charles Barkley, Shaquille O’Neal, and other local luminaries. “

Americablog has more.

DeLay's answer:

DELAY: What I believe in. The constitution of the United States. Ronald Reagan got me involved in this. I fight every day for what I believe in. Strong national security. Protecting the American family. Values. I just, I want to see this country led in a different direction than I found it when I got into politics 20 some years ago.

We could rid ourselves of the dependence on oil if we could harness the energy of Tip O'neill spinning in his grave.

It is nice that he took some time out of his "Is Hillary good for America?" rants to go spend some quality time with the most corrupt politican ever.

categories: Outrages
Other Stories according to Google: Media Matters - Chris Matthews : 2005's Misinformer of the Year | Media Matters - Media Matters for America Bestows " Misinformer of | Media Matters - Chris Matthews : 2005's Misinformer of the Year | Media Matters - Matthews on Abramoff scandal: "It's not going to | Chris Matthews : 2005's Misinformer of the Year | MediaChannel.org | Chris Matthews : 2005's Misinformer of the Year | YesButNoButYes: Misinformer of the Year Chris Matthews | US Newswire : Releases : "Media Matters for America Bestows | Chris Matthews : 2005's Misinformer of the Year | The Democratic Daily Blog » Blog Archive » Chris Matthews

11:09:55 AM    

Monday, January 23, 2006


Peace Takes Courage

Ava does it again -- Bravery.

categories: Soul
Other Stories according to Google: The Bravery | Amazon.com: The Bravery [ENHANCED]: Music | The Bravery | The Bravery : Music (Island Records) | NASA - NASA Honors Michoud Workers for Bravery During Hurricane | NewsNet5.com - News - Cleveland Native Killed During Third Tour In | AOL Music: The Bravery : MAIN | Official Ticketmaster site. The Bravery tickets, concerts and tour | www.myspace.com/thebravery | No Bravery

11:20:35 PM    

The Pentagon Spies On It's Own Citizens

The Pentagon has its own domestic spying program. Even its leaders say the outfit may have gone too far.

Newsweek's "The Other Big Brother"

Jan. 30, 2006 issue - The demonstration seemed harmless enough. Late on a June afternoon in 2004, a motley group of about 10 peace activists showed up outside the Houston headquarters of Halliburton, the giant military contractor once headed by Vice President Dick Cheney. They were there to protest the corporation's supposed "war profiteering." The demonstrators wore papier-mache masks and handed out free peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwiches to Halliburton employees as they left work. The idea, according to organizer Scott Parkin, was to call attention to allegations that the company was overcharging on a food contract for troops in Iraq. "It was tongue-in-street political theater," Parkin says.

But that's not how the Pentagon saw it. To U.S. Army analysts at the top-secret Counterintelligence Field Activity (CIFA), the peanut-butter protest was regarded as a potential threat to national security. Created three years ago by the Defense Department, CIFA's role is "force protection"—tracking threats and terrorist plots against military installations and personnel inside the United States. In May 2003, Paul Wolfowitz, then deputy Defense secretary, authorized a fact-gathering operation code-named TALON—short for Threat and Local Observation Notice—that would collect "raw information" about "suspicious incidents." The data would be fed to CIFA to help the Pentagon's "terrorism threat warning process," according to an internal Pentagon memo.

A Defense document shows that Army analysts wrote a report on the Halliburton protest and stored it in CIFA's database.
It's not clear why the Pentagon considered the protest worthy of attention—although organizer Parkin had previously been arrested while demonstrating at ExxonMobil headquarters (the charges were dropped). But there are now questions about whether CIFA exceeded its authority and conducted unauthorized spying on innocent people and organizations. A Pentagon memo obtained by NEWSWEEK shows that the deputy Defense secretary now acknowledges that some TALON reports may have contained information on U.S. citizens and groups that never should have been retained. The number of reports with names of U.S. persons could be in the thousands, says a senior Pentagon official who asked not be named because of the sensitivity of the subject.

CIFA's activities are the latest in a series of disclosures about secret government programs that spy on Americans in the name of national security. In December, the ACLU obtained documents showing the FBI had investigated several activist groups, including People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals and Greenpeace, supposedly in an effort to discover possible ecoterror connections. At the same time, the White House has spent weeks in damage-control mode, defending the controversial program that allowed the National Security Agency to monitor the telephone conversations of U.S. persons suspected of terror links, without obtaining warrants.

It isn't clear how many groups and individuals were snagged by CIFA's dragnet. Details about the program, including its size and budget, are classified. In December, NBC News obtained a 400-page compilation of reports that detailed a portion of TALON's surveillance efforts. It showed the unit had collected information on nearly four dozen antiwar meetings or protests, including one at a Quaker meetinghouse in Lake Worth, Fla., and a Students Against War demonstration at a military recruiting fair at the University of California, Santa Cruz. A Pentagon spokesman declined to say why a private company like Halliburton would be deserving of CIFA's protection. But in the past, Defense Department officials have said that the "force protection" mission includes military contractors since soldiers and Defense employees work closely with them and therefore could be in danger.

Arkin says a close reading of internal CIFA documents suggests the agency may be expanding its Internet monitoring, and wants to be as surreptitious as possible. CIFA has contracted to buy "identity masking" software that would allow the agency to create phony Web identities and let them appear to be located in foreign countries, according to a copy of the contract with Computer Sciences Corp. (The firm declined to comment.)

Pentagon officials have broadly defended CIFA as a legitimate response to the domestic terror threat. But at the same time, they acknowledge that an internal Pentagon review has found that CIFA's database contained some information that may have violated regulations. The department is not allowed to retain information about U.S. citizens for more than 90 days—unless they are "reasonably believed" to have some link to terrorism, criminal wrongdoing or foreign intelligence. There was information that was "improperly stored," says a Pentagon spokesman who was authorized to talk about the program (but not to give his name). "It was an oversight." In a memo last week, obtained by NEWSWEEK, Deputy Defense Secretary Gordon England ordered CIFA to purge such information from its files—and directed that all Defense Department intelligence personnel receive "refresher training" on department policies.

That's not likely to stop the questions. Last week Democrats on the Senate intelligence committee pushed for an inquiry into CIFA's activities and who it's watching. "This is a significant Pandora's box [Pentagon officials] don't want opened," says Arkin. "What we're looking at is hints of what they're doing." As far as the Pentagon is concerned, that means we've already seen too much.

categories: Outrages
Other Stories according to Google: Is the Pentagon spying on Americans? - Lisa Myers & the NBC | US government sued over NSA spying | Spying on the US Security State. Countermeasures for US Citizens | Khilafah.com - Comment: Nothing new about US Government spying on | Countermeasures for US citizens : Monitoring the US government | IMC India - Spying on the US Government | INFORMATION CLEARING HOUSE. NEWS, COMMENTARY & INSIGHT | AlterNet: Domestic Spying Is Old News | INTEL DUMP - Spies like us | Early Warning by William M. Arkin - washingtonpost.com

12:51:56 AM    

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Fool Me Once, Shame On You - Fool Me Me Twice, Shame On Me

Talking about Stolen Elections, is Mark Crispin Miller's new book, Fooled Again -- How the Right Stole the 2004 Election and Why They'll Steal the Next One, Too (Unless We Stop Them). Miller has become a known and respected progressive figure, one of the few in-your-face bespectacled lefty author types with any credibility. But when it comes to promoting Fooled Again, the guy can't even get arrested. No interviews, nothing. In fact, these days even his cash bounces -- Miller can't even buy a spot on National Public Radio for his book.

I came to this book with, I think, the usual preconceptions: it will present a paranoid conspiracy theory, it 's just a Democrat's sour grapes, it will be the left-wing equivalent of an Ann Coulter or Joe Scarborough rant--in other words, nothing new to say, shrieked at top volume. Instead I found that Miller has the rare courage to take on a forbidden topic, one of the few remaining in America. He asks us to consider the possibility that our cherished democracy, the very heart of American exceptionalism and the thing that sets us apart from (and, in the eyes of many Americans, above) all other nations, is not merely flawed or compromised but actually in danger of disappearing. Perhaps it has already disappeared. We are now a nation in which one political party has no intention of ever releasing its hold on power and the other is too cowed to defend itself against constant attacks, let alone defend its constituents or the integrity of the process by which power is allocated.

The most glaring suspicion that the result was fraudulent arose around the massive discrepancies between the exit polls and the result in several states. Exit polls have been accurate at every election in living memory in the US - except in 2000, which we have since discovered would have been won by Al Gore if the Supreme Court had not stopped the count and handed `Dubya' the presidency. The exit polls in 2004 were dramatically at odds with the result, and every single discrepancy favoured Bush. In March 2005, a study came out from US Count Votes, computing that the odds against such an enormous error in the exit polls were 959,000 - 1. In other words, the chances that the 2004 election was not rigged are nearly a million to one.

The examples are detailed, numerous, and specific: widespread and systematic pre-election disenfranchisement by local Republican election officials, failure to register Democratic voters, distributing absentee ballots late or incorrectly, spreading false and misleading information, refusing to register Democrats to vote, manipulating the availability of working voting machines to favor Republican precincts, intimidating voters on college campuses and at the polls, undersupplying provisional ballots in Democratic districts, throwing away Democratic votes, manipulating paperless electronic voting machines manufactured by Republican supporters, and virtually prohibiting millions of overseas absentee ballots from being counted. Miller points out that the Republican Party not only engaged in all of these vote suppression tactics and more, they simultaneously asserted repeatedly that the Democratic Party was in fact the one that was engaging in the same underhanded behaviors they were perpetrating!

One weakness of the book is that it focuses exclusively on anecdotal evidence for election theft. There is another half of the story which is told by numerical evidence. The widespread statistical anomalies in the 2004 election provide a context for the anecdotes, so that they cannot be dismissed as isolated aberrations. The statistical story will be told in a forthcoming book by Steve Freeman.

It has always been the duty of the press or a few spectacularly brave individuals to call attention to such things. And on rare occasions the press has done just that. But this is not one of those occasions. Not for CBS, NBC, ABC, PBS or NPR. Especially not for NPR. Given that the Republicans have them by the balls, it is easier, not to mention far safer, for everyone to deny that criminals operate within our political system and have established what amounts to a corporate/political underworld. We can smell it at every turn, and have seen its very reflection in those exit poll results.

At some deep national level we all know, George W. Bush has no right to be farting into the Oval Office desk chair. As Helen Caldicott recently put it: "What's to become of us? Ask any experienced mental health practitioner what happens to a person who constructs and tries to maintain a life based on denial of fundamental reality. It can be done for a while, in spite of occasional outbursts of behavioral oddities (remember Dr. Strangelove's disobedient arm that was always popping up in an embarrassing Nazi salute). But how long can such a pretense be maintained, even when the pretender is surrounded by the best handlers money can buy?" Apparently, Helen, a damned long time. At least eight years.

Miller's incredulity is further bolstered by the number of former Bush-supporting newspapers that changed sides, and a number of Republican luminaries (eg. Thruston Morton - former RNC Chairman, Rep. Bob Barr, Eisenhower's son, faculty members from the Harvard Business School).

One certain conclusion: Election officials have no business being involved in anyone's campaigns, whether in Ohio, Florida, or anywhere else!

UPDATE:  Hear Black Elk

Earth Prayer

"Grandfather, Great Spirit, once more behold me on earth and lean to hear my feeble voice. You lived first, and you are older than all need, older than all prayer. All things belong to you -- the two-legged, the four-legged, the wings of the air, and all green things that live.

"You have set the powers of the four quarters of the earth to cross each other. You have made me cross the good road and road of difficulties, and where they cross, the place is holy. Day in, day out, forevermore, you are the life of things."

Hey! Lean to hear my feeble voice.
At the center of the sacred hoop
You have said that I should make the tree to bloom.

With tears running, O Great Spirit, my Grandfather,
With running eyes I must say
The tree has never bloomed

Here I stand, and the tree is withered.
Again, I recall the great vision you gave me.

It may be that some little root of the sacred tree still lives.
Nourish it then
That it may leaf
And bloom
And fill with singing birds!

Hear me, that the people may once again
Find the good road
And the shielding tree.

If we shall fail to defend the Constitution, I shall fail in the attempt.

categories: Outrages
Other Stories according to Google: mentalacrobatics: Fool me once , shame on you . Fool me twice , shame | FOOL ME ONCE , SHAME ON YOU ! FOOL ME TWICE , SHAME ON ME ! the | Fool me once , shame on you . Fool me twice , shame on me . | Trinicenter.com - More Shame on Bush. Fool Me Once | Fool Me Twice (washingtonpost.com) | Mark Krikorian on the Elections on National Review Online | Fool Me Once . . . , by Harry Browne | Fool Me Once Shame On You ; Fool Me Twice Shame On Me - Ann Huggett | The Letter D: Fool Me Once , Shame On You . Fool Me Twice , Shame On | Brad DeLong's Semi-Daily Journal: Fool Me Once , Shame on You

9:19:38 PM    

Friday, January 20, 2006

Hey, We Still Have Some Standards Here

categories: Politics
Other Stories according to Google: Black Box Voting - Welcome to www.BlackBoxVoting.org, Consumer | Engadget | Microsoft Team RSS Blog : Icons: It’s still orange | The Corner on National Review Online | Google Web Accelerator: Hey , not so fast - an alert for web app | High-tech retailers, low-tech rebates | Computerworld Blogs | TechNet Scripts: Microsoft Windows Scripting FAQ | ColbyCosh.com | The Web Standards Project | Eric's Archived Thoughts

1:17:07 AM    

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Medicare Drug Plan Baffles Seniors

Instead travelling around the country trying to convince people that the Medicare drug plan isn't a total clusterfuck why don't you, you know, fix it. Clusterfuck is in the eye of the beholder. Billions in hand outs to big phrama. Millions in extra costs to the states. What's to fix? Everything is going according to plan.

President Bush's top health advisers will fan out across the country this week to quell rising discontent with a new Medicare prescription drug benefit that has tens of thousands of elderly and disabled Americans, their pharmacists, and governors struggling to resolve myriad start-up problems.

Even as federal leaders touted the enrollment figures, state officials and health care experts continued to report widespread difficulties, especially for the poorest and sickest seniors who were forced to switch from state Medicaid programs to the new Medicare plans on Jan. 1. Nearly two dozen states have intervened, saying they will pay for medications for any low-income senior who is mistakenly rejected. The District, Maryland and Virginia have not intervened.

Saying "it is time for us to take care of our own," Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger said California will spend as much as $150 million to provide medications to as many as 1 million low-income seniors who have been turned away by pharmacists or overcharged co-payments because of glitches in computer databases.

"Right now, the new Medicare Part D prescription drug program is not working as intended," the governor said in a release.

One of the front page ledes in the Dallas Morning News this morning is "Drug Mess Leaves Pharmacists Dazed."

It's not just the seniors who are going crazy trying to figure this out. Everyone is. The general perception is and has been from the start that this legislation stinks.

Kocot said Medicare had fixed technical problems that had initially hobbled a database for pharmacists. The agency also urged companies offering drug plans to beef up staffing at swamped telephone call centers.

Advocates for the poor have reacted with dismay to the problems, saying their warnings that a sudden transition would cause such problems went unheeded.

"This is a public health disaster," said Jeanne Finberg, a lawyer in the Oakland office of the National Senior Citizens Law Center. "There are people going to pharmacies and being told they can't get medications that are supposed to be covered. There are people who can't get confirmation that they are in a plan."

When the Medicare drug benefit was under consideration, the Administration and congressional leaders promised that a program operated through many private plans would provide, through competition, low drug prices. The Families USA survey belies that assertion.

"The huge prices paid by seniors and taxpayers could have been avoided if Congress and the President had not caved in to the pressure of the drug lobby," said Ron Pollack, Executive Director of Families USA. "They prohibited Medicare from bargaining for cheaper prices and, to ensure that this would never change, they delegated the administration of the benefit to private plans, which have far less bargaining clout.

"As a result, many seniors will be burdened with unaffordable, high drug costs, and America's taxpayers will be fleeced."

The survey found that the lowest VA price is much lower than the lowest Medicare prescription drug plan (PDP) price for 19 of the top 20 drugs.

* For half of the top 20 drugs, the lowest Medicare prescription drug plan price is at least one and one-half times higher than the lowest VA price.

* For one-quarter of the top 20 drugs, the lowest Medicare prescription drug plan price is at least twice as high as the lowest VA price.

* For three of the top 20 drugs, the lowest Medicare prescription drug plan price is at least four times grater than the lowest VA price.

Among the top seven drugs prescribed for seniors, the annual difference between the lowest VA prices and lowest Medicare drug plan prices are as follows:

* Plavix (75 mg., an anti-clotting agent): lowest VA price is $887.16; lowest Medicare plan price is $1,229.64—a difference of $342.48, or 38.6 percent.

* Lipitor (10 mg., cholesterol lowering agent): lowest VA price is $497.16; lowest Medicare plan price is $717.84—a difference of $220.68, or 44.4 percent.

* Fosamax (70 mg., osteoporosis treatment): lowest VA price is $493.32; lowest Medicare plan price is $709.68—a difference of $216.36, or 43.9 percent.

* Norvasc (5 mg., calcium channel blocker): lowest VA price is $301.68; lowest Medicare plan price is $458.88—a difference of $157.20, or 52.1 percent.

* Protonix (40 mg., gastrointestinal agent): lowest VA price is $253.32; lowest Medicare plan price is $1,080—a difference of $826.68, or 326.3 percent.

* Celebrex (200 mg., anti-inflammatory agent): lowest VA price is $619.80; lowest Medicare plan price is $865.08—a difference of $245.28, or 39.6 percent.

* Zocor (20 mg., cholesterol lowering agent): lowest VA price is $167.80; lowest Medicare plan price is $1,323.72—a difference of $1,155.92, or 688.9 percent.

No single Medicare plan offers the lowest price for all 20 drugs compared to its plan competitors. As a result, for seniors who take multiple medicines, the total difference between VA and Medicare plan prices may be much larger than 48 percent.

For example, for a person purchasing a year's supply of the top five drugs—Plavix, Lipitor, Fosamax, Norvasc, and Protonix—the lowest VA price is $2,432.64. In comparison, the prices (paid partially by Medicare beneficiaries and partially by taxpayers) for the five plans recommended by the government's Web-based "Medicare Prescription Drug Plan Finder" for a person purchasing those five drugs are:

* Humana, Inc.: $4,206-$1,773.36 (or 73 percent) higher than the lowest VA price

* First Health Premier: $5,010.60-$2,577.96 (or 106 percent) higher than the lowest VA price

* Medi-Care First: $4,530.48-$2,097.84 (or 86 percent) higher than the lowest VA price

* PacifiCare: $4,561.16-$2,128.52 (or 87 percent) higher than the lowest VA price

* WellCare: $4,348.80-$1,916.16 (or 79 percent) higher than the lowest VA price

According to the Families USA survey, VA prices are lower for both generic and brand-name drugs:

* 18 of the 20 most-prescribed medicines for seniors are brand-name drugs. For 17 of those 18 brand-name drugs, the VA price was much lower than Medicare drug plan prices. For those drugs, the median difference between the lowest Medicare plan price and the lowest VA price is 44.1 percent.

* Two of the top 20 drugs are generics. For those drugs, the median difference between the lowest Medicare drug plan and the lowest VA price is 94.5 percent.

The Families USA report was based on a comparison of VA prices with the prices in two Medicare drug regions: region 5 (covering the District of Columbia, Maryland, and Delaware) and Region 14 (covering Ohio). Only drugs that were on a Medicare prescription drug plan's formulary—drugs for which the plan would have actively negotiated prices—were included in the analysis. All data were collected during the week of November 14, 2005 (when the new program's enrollment began) from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Service's "Medicare Prescription Drug Plan Finder" at www.medicare.gov.

This one just may put it over the top. Seniors are PISSED. And as many people have pointed out, they vote.

And their families are also pissed that they've got to figure all this out for grandma. And even once they figure it out -- grandma's still screwed. And a lot of those family members also vote. Well at least when the elderly get shafted, they vote. Of course, I haven't looked at the demographics, but aren't there alot of elderly in, say, Florida and Arizona??

categories: Outrages
Other Stories according to Google: Journal Gazette | 12/31/2005 | Medicare drug plan baffles seniors | Medicare drug plan baffles seniors | Las Cruces Sun-News - Local News | NBCSandiego.com - Health - Many Seniors Confused By New Medicare | The Journal News: Medicare change baffles area seniors - - The | Top Stories - The Olympian - Olympia, Washington | Many Seniors Confused By New Medicare Drug Benefit - KNSD-TV | - Concord Monitor Online - Concord, NH 03301 | Medicare Rx cards confound seniors 51704 | Drug cards baffle seniors

10:56:16 PM    

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Georgia GOP Ask:  Is Reed Worth The Gamble?

Ralph Reed must be receiving punishment from God for his wickedness. There's just no other explanation that's consistent with all of his former success being brought by God.

Jesusistani leaders are well known for adultery, pedophilia, incest, beastiality, procuring, and membership in the successor organizations that sprang from the demise of the Klan.

But perhaps more than anything, Jesusistani leaders are greedy almost to a man. Their alleged fealty to Jesus gives them control over large groups of people, and large collection plates. Ralph, of course, was nearly the king of that particular game, squeezing money out of everyone from Microsoft to Aunt Mabel. But Ralph, like most of his peers in the Jesusistani leadership, apparently never bothered to read enough of his Bible to note the warnings about the worship of money.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that Reed's fundraising is lagging behind his no-name-recognition opponent, and that the bulk of the monies raised by Reed over the last six months have been from out-of-staters. Reed has support from only 5 of Georgia's top pols, to his opponent State Sen. Casey Cagle's 63 -- out of a total pool of 133 Republican lawmakers in the state capital.

And to make matters worse for Reed, even his supporters are saying things like this: "We don't need another four years of ethics inquiries." and "What should have been a shoo-in is a tough uphill battle." Ouch.

What has made such a dent in the Christian Coalition Poster Boy's halo?
Documents released by the committee also shed light on Abramoff's relationship with Reed, currently a candidate for lieutenant governor in Georgia. The committee included Reed in its investigation after learning that Abramoff and Scanlon paid him to lobby the Texas Legislature to close the Tigua tribe's casino in El Paso. The Tigua tribe had paid Scanlon roughly $4 million to help it win back a casino license.

"On the political front, did Ralph spend all the money he was given to fight this _ or does he have some left?" Scanlon asked Abramoff in an e-mail, the subject of which is blacked out on the documents released by the committee.

"That's a silly question! He 'spent' it all the moment it arrived in his account. He would NEVER admit he has money left over," Abramoff e-mailed Scanlon. "Would we?
Oh yeah. That's some ethical company to be keeping, now isn't it? Of course, Reed can blame it all on Abramoff and company and claim to be duped, right? It was never about the money for Ralphie Reed, right? Well...erm...Ralph's own words and actions tell a different story.
"I need to start humping in corporate accounts," Reed wrote to Abramoff in 1998. "I'm counting on you to help me with some contacts."...

Reed also depended on Abramoff to help his political campaigns. In one e-mail exchange in 2001, he asked Abramoff to contribute to his successful bid to become state Republican chairman in Georgia. When Abramoff asked where to send the donation, Reed joked, "The actual committee is `The Reed Family Retirement and Educational Foundation.' The address is 200 Bay Drive, Grand Cayman, BCI, R59876."
Well, praise the Lord and pass the collection plate, that's a pretty damn good retirement scam. (Reed says he was joking, just FYI. Some joke. I'm sure the Tiguas think it's hilarious.) Kind of tough to claim you didn't know where the money was coming from when there's a big, long e-mail trail, isn't it? Hypocrisy much?

I find it of passing interest that the Brothers Robertson and Falwell are not in front of a camera condemning the ties to gambling. Condemnation is what they are good at (Cities of Dover and New Orleans, heads of state Clinton, Chavez and Sharon, gays, etc.) and they are dead set against gambling. As a child, I was not allowed to play any kind of card games.

Remember Esau?  And Esau said to Jacob, Feed me, I pray thee, with that same red pottage; for I am faint: therefore was his name called Edom. And Jacob said, Sell me this day thy birthright.And Esau said, Behold, I am at the point to die: and what profit shall this birthright do to me? And Jacob said, Swear to me this day; and he sware unto him: and he sold his birthright unto Jacob. Then Jacob gave Esau bread and pottage of lentils; and he did eat and drink, and rose up, and went his way: thus Esau despised his birthright. (KJV) Genesis 25: 30-34

Trading birthright for profit, gentlemen?  Greedy Reedy is the worst kind of hypocrite. The former director of The Christian Coalition bilked mucho moolah out of his faithful followers with the promise to stem the creeping encroachment of gambling. All the while taking lots of smarmy dough from Jack 'the ripoff', Abramoff the would be casino king of the Indian gambling interests.

categories: Outrages
Other Stories according to Google: Supporters ask , is Reed worth the gamble ? | ajc.com | Welcome to AJC! | ajc.com | Supporters ask , is Reed worth the gamble ? | In Ga., Abramoff Scandal Threatens a Political Ascendancy | Supporters ask , is Reed worth the gamble ? | Political Cortex: Abramoff Scandal is Albatross for Ralph Reed | Supporters ask , is Reed worth the gamble ? | Georgia Daily Digest | Indianz.Com > News > Ralph Reed accused by GOP senator of bilking | PECHANGA.net : Indian Gaming

9:39:16 PM    

Monday, January 16, 2006

I Have A Dream, Two Speeches: The Law Is King, Not George Bush

"The founders of our country faced dire threats. If they failed in their endeavors, they would have been hung as traitors. The very existence of our country was at risk."
"Yet, in the teeth of those dangers, they insisted on establishing the Bill of Rights." "...It is simply an insult to those who came before us and sacrificed so much on our behalf to imply that we have more to be fearful of than they. Yet they faithfully protected our freedoms and now it is up to us to do the same."

Graphic from  Global News Matrix

We were treated today to what I can only think of as a uniquely American experience: A white former future president, a son of privilege, summoning up the words and life of a black minister who rocked this country to its roots with his dream 40 years ago, both of whom referred back more than a century to a rural lawyer who took on the burden of the presidency when this nation's indivisibility and very survival were in doubt.

Both stressed the immediate dangers to our democracy, with King's words urging an expansion of rights and a national commitment to tolerance, and Gore sounding the alarm that those rights - to all Americans - are at risk as never before from a "strong arm" presidency. Both painted the contemporary picture as stark and dark and true. King acknowledged the deep divide between black and white, Gore talked of the divisiveness along party and constitutional lines. But both were and are committed to an incontrovertible and optimistic belief that there is a solution to the recurring problem of power in America: this republic's people.

A president who breaks the law is a threat to the very structure of our government. Our Founding Fathers were adamant that they had established a government of laws and not men. Indeed, they recognized that the structure of government they had enshrined in our Constitution - our system of checks and balances - was designed with a central purpose of ensuring that it would govern through the rule of law. As John Adams said: "The executive shall never exercise the legislative and judicial powers, or either of them, to the end that it may be a government of laws and not of men."

An executive who arrogates to himself the power to ignore the legitimate legislative directives of the Congress or to act free of the check of the judiciary becomes the central threat that the Founders sought to nullify in the Constitution - an all-powerful executive too reminiscent of the King from whom they had broken free. In the words of James Madison, "the accumulation of all powers, legislative, executive, and judiciary, in the same hands, whether of one, a few, or many, and whether hereditary, self-appointed, or elective, may justly be pronounced the very definition of tyranny."

Thomas Paine, whose pamphlet, "On Common Sense" ignited the American Revolution, succinctly described America's alternative. Here, he said, we intended to make certain that "the law is king."

The rule of law makes us stronger by ensuring that decisions will be tested, studied, reviewed and examined through the processes of government that are designed to improve policy. And the knowledge that they will be reviewed prevents over-reaching and checks the accretion of power.

" I mentioned that along with cause for concern, there is reason for hope. As I stand here today, I am filled with optimism that America is on the eve of a golden age in which the vitality of our democracy will be re-established and will flourish more vibrantly than ever. Indeed I can feel it in this hall."

I'll tell you, the crowd WENT WILD when he spoke about bush using fear and invoking fear all the time, sayng we are at war, and will be at war the rest of our lives. Al asked the question, "Is America really in MORE danger now"-- after citing our living with nuclear threats for 30 years of Cold War, (he cited other perilous times for our nation--my notes are just scribbles), "Is America really in MORE danger now?" Nice way to frame that.

Thought Barr was great on CNN tonight.(never thought I would say that after Clinton). Barr destroyed top PNAC Liar Gaffney and clearly pointed out that the Fisa law was broken by Bush repeatedly.

Clearly there is a bi partisan call for a special prosecutor afoot. Magnificent Gore!

categories: Outrages
Other Stories according to Google: The Nation | Unconventional Wisdom Since 1865 | Bush Watch | Citizens for Legitimate Government | President Honors Secretary, Mrs. Powell at 'Let Freedom Ring' Event | President Bush Discusses Iraq Policy at Whitehall Palace in London | President Discusses Border Security and Immigration Reform in Arizona | President Discusses Strong Relationship with Canada | President Proclaims Dr. Martin Luther King , Jr., Federal Holiday | The Seattle Times: Martin Luther King Jr. | firedoglake: 12/01/2005 - 12/31/2005

10:37:28 PM    

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Zawahiri Dead?....OOOPS!

Thank God, Jack Bauer will be back tomorrow night with 24 on Fox-no more mess-ups in the counterterrorism war.   I'm astonished that these incompetent criminals running the government now continue to get away with this crap. They bomb our allies, threaten to bomb a news organization, shoot Italian journalists, let the Al Queda "number one" escape, turn Iraq into a staging crowd for future terrorists, and then have the nerve to call anybody who questions them a traitor.

Seems we bombed Pakistan yesterday. The strike killed at least 17 villagers in the remote northwestern part of the country along the border with Afghanistan, including a number of children. Just not our target -- Ayman al-Zawahri, Osama Bin Laden's second in command.

And there is a legal problem: Pakistan has not granted the United States authorization to cross the border, for bombing or any other combat purpose.
Pakistan has not granted American forces in Afghanistan the right to cross the border, even in pursuit of militants. American-led coalition forces clashing with militants in the mountainous province of Kunar say they have often been frustrated by their foes' use of Pakistan as a sanctuary....

This is the second report of an American attack on civilians in a Pakistani tribal region in recent days. Eight people, including women and children, were reported killed last Saturday when a helicopter fired at the house of a local cleric in North Waziristan close to the Afghan border.

Pakistan lodged a strong protest with coalition forces on Monday, but said it was still investigating whether the missiles had been fired from Pakistani airspace or from Afghan territory.
AP is reporting that the Pakistanis have filed a formal protest with the US Ambassador today, but that an investigation into what happened is still ongoing. Senior Pakistani officials tell another AP reporter that the CIA was acting on false information, and that thousands of local tribesmen have been protesting the US action.

Zawahiri is certainly a worthy target for capture, having participated in a substantial amount of the planning for al Qaeda operations with Bin Laden for years. But we've had enormous problems with intelligence in this region of Pakistan, where tribal rivalries and desire for obtaining monetary rewards have played a large part in several retribution tips that have not panned out.

CNN is funny. They get the Pakistani Foreign Minister on the phone to talk about if this guy was killed or not. Dude immediately cuts off Tony Harris and announces Pakistan is launching a formal protest over the airstrikes. Tony seems a bit shaken. Says, "but, but, but our sources say the information came from Pakistani intel, isnt that right, right?" Dude says no, that's not right and oh how bout this: Of COURSE, mass anti-American protests going on right on in the streets of Pakistan.

...hmmm hadn't seen that on any US traditional media.

Anyway, Tony tries to get back to if the guy was killed or not and dude pretty much just cuts him off and the interveiw is over.

Then, unbeleivably, they go to the Asian chick and she spends the next 15 seconds blubbering about if the guys is dead or not and they're doing DNA testing and conflcting information. Talk about ignoring the elephant in the room.

CNN running from a huge story dumped right in their lap. Pakistan says this airstrike a violation of international law and their sovreignty. Now on to house call with Jerry Willis...

OBTW, five minutes before this live bit of direct evidence that CNN is nothing but a mouthpiece for BushCoGOP, they had some stern looking white guy with a "military expert" type of title saying:

"It's a big blow to AQ that this guys is dead. It's a big blow to AQ that this guys is dead. It's a big blow to AQ that this guys is dead. It's a big blow to AQ that this guys is dead... you know.. if he's dead."

This sort of substantial action, if it turns out to have been based on a false tip, won't make things any better -- and, in fact, may drive more of the tribal elders who have been sitting on the fence into the anti-American camp. Just what we don't need, with so many of our intelligence assets engaged in our Iraqi Adventure at the moment.

Now Pakistan is apparently pissed. The U.S. had agreed not to conduct operations in their territory. So, let's recap:

1. Bad intelligence regarding #2
2. Air strike in Pakistan, where not allowed.
3. Kill mostly civilians.

All the earmarks of a Shrub operation.  The modern right, the modern conservative, and the modern Republican all agree - If you're guilty by suspicion, then you deserve the punishment!

categories: Outrages
Other Stories according to Google: ~Neophyte Pundit~: OOOPS Pakistan Red Faced? | ~Neophyte Pundit~: March 2004 Archives | lgf: Zawahiri : "We Purchased Some Suitcase Bombs" | The Anti-Idiotarian Rottweiler: OK, One More | The Anti-Idiotarian Rottweiler: OK, One More | Shot In The Dark: On the Ropes? - Al | Jihad Watch: Council for National Policy | The Fourth Rail: Iraq: Terrorist Training Ground, Killing Field | Politics Weblog - The Detroit News Online - 12/29/05 | Austin Bay Blog » What do we know and when do we know it?: Zarqawi

9:27:21 PM    

Friday, January 13, 2006

The Swift Boating of Murtha Begins

It's a well-known fact that no Democrat ever deserved the Purple Heart. A now-dead veteran whose name I cannot remember told me that Max Clelland cut himself shaving.

Let the Swift Boating of Murtha Begin:
Murtha's War Hero Status Called Into Question
By Marc Morano and Randy Hall
CNSNews.com Staff
January 13, 2006

Read Article About Murtha's Links to Abscam

(CNSNews.com) - Having ascended to the national stage as one of the most vocal critics of President Bush's handling of the war in Iraq, Pennsylvania Democratic Congressman John Murtha has long downplayed the controversy and the bitterness surrounding the two Purple Hearts he was awarded for military service in Vietnam.
Suggest the ominous in a big buildup -- people who don't read closely will think there's a lot of shit on this guy and it's been going on for a long time, it's not something that just got dragged out now.

Then find some old veteran to do your dirty work for you so the criticism won't be laid at the feet of chickenshit bedwetting BushCo. hatchet men:
World War II Navy veteran Harry M. Fox, previously indicated that Murtha in 1968 personally asked Fox's boss, then-U.S. Rep. John Saylor (R-Pa.), for assistance in obtaining the Purple Hearts, but was turned down because Saylor's office determined that Murtha lacked sufficient evidence of wounds. Murtha later challenged Saylor for his House seat in 1968 and lost. Fox said he personally viewed Murtha's military records in 1968 as Saylor's aide.
Make sure your story is unverifiable:
Cybercast News Service attempted to contact Fox for this article, but learned that the health of the 81-year-old was too poor to allow him to communicate.
Bury this caveat in the bottom of the story. People will not read that far.

Marc Morano is Senior Staff Writer for CNSNews.com and is previously known as Rush Limbaugh’s “Man in Washington,” as reporter and producer for the Rush Limbaugh Television Show, as well as a former correspondent and producer for American Investigator, the nationally syndicated TV newsmagazine. His reporting has made national news with appearances and coverage on The O'Reilly Factor, Special Report w/ Brit Hume, USA Today, The Washington Times, The Wall Street Journal, the American Spectator and Human Events, as well as online with National Review, Newsmax.com, WorldnetDaily, and the Drudge Report.

Murtha's response is on HuffPo.

"This afternoon, CNSNEWS.com published an article entitled "Murtha's War Hero Status Called Into Question" on its website. The article questions the validity of my purple hearts. This is my response:

"Questions about my record are clearly an attempt to distract attention from the real issue, which is that our brave men and women in uniform are dying and being injured every day in the middle of a civil war that can be resolved only by the Iraqis themselves."

"I volunteered for a year's duty in Vietnam. I was out in the field almost every single day. We took heavy casualties in my regiment the year that I was there. In my fitness reports, I was rated No. 1. My record is clear."

"Creative Response promoted a Web site called Cybercast News Service " Among its clients are the Republican National Committee, National Republican Congressional Committee and National Republican Senatorial Committee. Its client list also includes the Christian Coalition. It also the first to report rathergate/font fiasco.

CNSNews.com, aka Cybercast News Service, is owned and operated by Media Research Center.

The following companies all existed within the same range of IP addresses as of last spring, and are all interrelated:

- CNSNews.com (replaced Talon News as news feed provider to Men's Daily News and GOPUSA.com)

- Media Research (owned by Brent Bozell, who also owns Parents Television Council)

- CRC4PR.com (Creative Response, the home of Swift Boat Vet Liars)

- NITF.com (an archiving and storage company serving many of CRC4PR's clients)

- SpecialSystems.com (IT infrastructure company serving most of the above and their clients)

The other slimey piece of connective tissue here is the Heritage Foundation. Note that all of the known payola receivers were content providers to Heritage Foundation's TownHall.com (TownHall split off sometime this past fall, perhaps to firewall against liability against Heritage). Many if not all of the entities above serve or are related by cross-pollination of members with Heritage Foundation, too. Nasty, nasty stuff, insidious, just like a fungus growing and spreading all over everything.

Did you know that Murtha turned down an Abscam bribe? The FBI caught him on video talking to the fake Arab and Murtha tells him that he'll think about it and then leaves.

Surely, we're not surprised. If the military commanders won't, when asked, smear Murtha, others will line up to do the work. The campaign against him has been already announced. I wish newspapers would refuse to print unsubstantiated stories like these. It's positively sickening. And I wouldn't like it any better if Dems mounted similar attacks against right-wingers. It's tempting, I know, but it's still wrong. Instead, I wish military commanders would defend him on the record and demand coverage. Shame on editors.

One fact seems clear -- Republicans only love dead Veterans, unless there's a photo-op involved.

UPDATE:  The Washington Post this morning gives major play this morning to an attack of Rep. John Murtha (D-Pa.) on the website of the (until now) obscure Cybercast News Service. Jane Hamsher who knows how to do it right, and better than anyone else, has some new information. A natural born blogger! Jane very importantly points out that Cybercast never even actually interviewed Harry Fox.

Jane quotes the website as saying: "Cybercast News Service attempted to contact Fox for this article, but learned that the health of the 81-year-old was too poor to allow him to communicate."

So if I understand this correctly, regarding the purported allegations by the late Rep. Saylor that Rep. Murtha did not deserve his Purple Hearts, the Washington Post is relying on the reporting of the Cyercast News Service, which is in turn is relying on comments made years ago by Harry Fox, who is in turn is quoting the late Congressman Saylor-- who died all the way back in 1973. The Post should have done a much better job of making this clear in their story-- in my humble opinion-- if they should have even published a story at all.

Makes you want to drop a dime to Howie Kurtz! But alas, Kurtz wrote the story. Oh well.

categories: Outrages
Other Stories according to Google: oh oh! the swift - boating of Rep. John Murtha begins | WesPac | Daily Kos: swift boat | Daily Kos: Kerry Demands End To Murtha " swift boating " | Daily Kos: Swift Boat | Greg's Opinion - GregsOpinion.com | Cloakroom - House Dem ( Murtha - PA) Calls for Immediate Troop | Power Line: Friends, Romans, clowns | FOXNews.com - Politics - Murtha Stirs Policy Debate | Discriminations: "The Swift - Boating Of Jack Murtha "? Archives | CNN.com - The Situation: Monday, November 28 - Nov 28, 2005

9:24:53 PM    

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Kentucky Town Hall Chock Full of Juicy Bushisms

Disturbingly low coherency quotient.   Sounds like he's totally burned out [as in speed freak, three days with no sleep mode], really hung over, or both.

First Draft: Your President Speaks

Yesterday's faux town hall meeting in Kentucky was chock foll of juicy Bushisms.

Brownie Watch

Before I begin I do want to say I married well. I'm sorry the First Lady isn't with me. She is a heck of a person.

King of Irony, Part I

You know, no President ever wants to be President during war.

We Hold These Truths to be Self-Evident, Part I

But Saddam Hussein was a sworn enemy of the United States. He was on the nations that sponsor terror list for a reason. I didn't put him on the list; previous Presidents put him on the list. And the reason why is because he was sponsoring terrorism.

Let's Forget Those Inspections, Shall We?

We gave the opportunity to Saddam Hussein to open his country up. It was his choice. He chose war, and he got war.

He Understands from His Days in Combat in the Alabama Delta

I understand that full -- firsthand: War is brutal.

Getting a Little Action

Secondly, this is a country, obviously, that has got brutal action -- this enemy we face has got no conscience.

Suicider Watch, Part I

It's hard for me to believe that there is such brutality in the world where people going to a funeral to mourn the dead, and a suicider shows up and kills people.

Adjusting Your Strategery

And, listen, the training hasn't gone smoothly all the time. I mean, this is a war. And you're constantly adjusting your strategies and tactics -- not strategies -- tactics on the ground to meet an enemy which is changing.

Brain Lock! Hit Override!

I can't tell you how good the caliber of our military brass -- and those in the field, by the way, all the way up and down the line, are good, they are good people -- (applause) -- better trained, not just numbers, I'm talking about capacity to take the fight and stay in the fight.

Can We Get Some of that Training at the White House?

There's a national police force, kind of like a swat team, a national swat team, that can move -- they're pretty well trained. They need some human rights training.... You can't have a democracy in which the police don't enforce the rule of law, but enforce their view of revenge. And so you got ethics training, rule of law training -- all done by good troops who are embedded -- who are side-by-side with this Iraqi police force.

Suicider Watch, Part II -- Borderline Stupid Edition

The reason why the border is necessary is because there's suiciders coming in from Syria into Iraq.

We Hold These Truths to be Self-Evident, Part II

And thirdly, you've got local police, and we're lagging in the local police. And the local police -- it's just that, local.

Unless I Am

Now, having said that, they got these surveys -- and I must confess I'm not much of a survey guy, but they got them, and most Iraqis are optimistic about the future.

Can't Even Win A Debate With Himself

If Osama bin Laden were the top guy, and Mr. Zawahiri -- he was the person that put out the strategy, by the way, for al Qaeda, for everybody to see. I don't think he put it out for everybody to see. It just happened to be exposed for everybody to see eventually.

Brain Lock! Whoop-Whoop-Whoop!

That's the short-term strategy. There's also the strategy of making it clear, if you harbor a terrorist -- the short-term strategy of dealing with threats before they come to hurt us -- I say, before they fully materialize.

There's the Executive Branch, the Executive Branch, and the Executive Branch

It's been authorized, reauthorized many times. We got lawyers looking at it from different branches of government.

King of Irony, Part II

We are a rule -- a country of law.

But You Doesn't Have to Call Me Chimpy

There will be a lot of hearings and talk about that, but that's good for democracy -- just so long as the hearings, as they explore whether or not I have the prerogative to make the decision I made doesn't tell the enemy what we're doing.

Because He Broke His Crayon

There's a lot of investigation, you're right, in Washington -- which is okay. That's part of holding people to account in a democracy. But at one point in time the government got accused of not connecting the dots. You might remember that debate -- we didn't connect the dots.

We Hold These Truths to be Self-Evident, Part II

Generally, when you're smuggling something it's against the law.

When Life Gives You Lemons...

Now, some of you all may be old enough to remember the days of Prohibition. I'm not. But remember, we illegalized whisky, and guess what? People found all kinds of ways to make it, and to run it. NASCAR got started -- positive thing that came out of all that.

Wyllie, I Presume

We've got people being smuggled by what they called coyotes into the deserts and asked to walk across.

Brain Lock! Hit Eject!

Step five is -- on the accountability system is what we call disaggregate results. Do you realize in the old accountability systems, they didn't bother to look at the African American kids stand-alone.

Fine is Lousy, and That's a Problem

Now, we've got a problem when it comes to math and science. Our kids test fine. Math and science 8th grade test lousy, math and science in high school, and that's a problem.

Uncharacteristic Honesty

I'm pandering, I know...

I love, and by "love" I mean "am disgusted and driven mad," when Bubble Boy gets up and attempts to regurgitate his presidentin' briefings.

He sure is plain-spoken, isn't he? And by "plain-spoken" I mean "a horror show of a public speaker."

categories: Outrages
Other Stories according to Google: | | | Issue 9 Final | | | | | |

9:31:46 PM    

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Did The President Propose To Take Out Al Jazeera?

Did George Bush seriously suggest that coalition forces should bomb al-Jazeera headquarters because he was unhappy over their coverage of the siege of Fallujah in 2004?   The story seems confirmed because Britain is prosecuting these guys under the Official Secrets Act. Since there's no case unless real secrets are revealed, that's a rock-solid confirmation that the story is accurate.

If the story were false in any way, they'd be charged with libel instead.

LONDON (AP) — A civil servant has been charged under Britain's Official Secrets Act for allegedly leaking a government memo that a newspaper said Tuesday suggested that Prime Minister Tony Blair persuaded President Bush not to bomb the Arab satellite station Al-Jazeera.

Al-Jazeera said in a statement that it was investigating the report. "If the report is correct then this would be both shocking and worrisome not only to Al-Jazeera but to media organizations across the world," it said.

The network said that if true the report would "cast serious doubts" on the Bush administration's explanations of earlier incidents involving Al-Jazeera journalists and the American military.

The document was described as a transcript of a conversation between the two leaders.

"A good reason for believing in the authenticity of the memo is that an unnamed spokesman for Blair was quoted in the original story as saying that Bush's remark was "humorous, not serious." This is as much as to concede that some such conversation did in fact take place. It is of course not always possible to tell when the president is joking, but another who saw the transcript claimed that he was "deadly serious, as was Blair." (This by the way is a rebuke to those who routinely taunt the prime minister as "Bush's poodle.")

Another and again somewhat inductive reason is the response of Colin Powell, who was finally asked about the meeting to his face outside St. John's Episcopal Church in Maclean, Va., on Sunday morning. The Daily Mirror's reporter, Ryan Parry, asked him a question that contained the date and subject of the meeting, and was successively told "I can't remember every meeting," … "I don't know, you'll have to forgive me," … "I don't recall this," … "I don't remember the Al Jazeera thing, frankly," along with several more brushoffs of the same "nondenial denial" sort. I am not the world's greatest fan of Powell or of his secretaryship, but the chief steward of American foreign policy might be expected to remember a proposal to bomb the territory of a friendly neutral that is the site of U.S. Central Command, as well as a sharp dispute about it between his president and his country's chief political and military ally. If he doesn't feel confident enough to say: "That is too absurdly untrue to deserve even a comment from me," then he is not doing much better than stalling.

It is high time that this question was ventilated by people other than British editors and journalists who labor under the repressive conditions of the Official Secrets Act. Al Jazeera is not describable, perhaps, as a strictly objective station, but it is the main source of news in the Arab world because it is not the property of any state or party, and it has given live and unedited coverage of things like the elections in Iraq. In 2001, its office in Afghanistan was destroyed by "smart" bombs. In 2003, its correspondent in Baghdad was killed in an American missile strike. If it becomes widely believed that it has been or is being targeted, the consequences in the region will be rather more than Karen Hughes' "public diplomacy" can handle."

The very fact that so many people allow for the distinct possibility that Bush may have been serious tells you a lot about Bush. People do not have much confidence in his judgement.

categories: Outrages
Other Stories according to Google: AfterDowningStreet.org | CensureBush.org | AfterDowningStreet.org | CensureBush.org | Did Bush Really Want to Bomb Al Jazeera ? | AlterNet: War on Iraq: Did Bush Really Want to Bomb Al Jazeera ? | AlterNet: MediaCulture: Did Bush Really Want to Bomb Al Jazeera ? | Slate Magazine | USC Center on Public Diplomacy | John Brown's PD Review | Dan Gillmor's blog | Bayosphere | Weblogs @ USC | Findory : News

7:49:44 PM    

Pat Loses His Playground

What happens when you put words in Jehovah's mouth? He takes away your right to build a Jesus playground.  It's a bummer, Pat. We feel your pain.

JERUSALEM - Israel won't do business with Pat Robertson after the evangelical leader suggested Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's massive stroke was divine punishment, a tourism official said Wednesday, putting into doubt plans to develop a large Christian tourism center in northern Israel.

Avi Hartuv, spokesman for Israel's tourism minister, said officials are furious with Robertson's suggestion that the stroke was retribution for Sharon's withdrawal from the Gaza Strip last summer. "We can't accept this kind of statement," Hartuv said.

Robertson is leading a group of evangelicals who have pledged to raise $50 million to build the Christian Heritage Center in Israel's northern Galilee region, where tradition says Jesus lived and taught.

Under a tentative agreement, Robertson's group was to put up the funding, while Israel would provide land and infrastructure. Israeli officials believe the project will generate tens of millions of tourism dollars.

But the project now is in question in light of Robertson's comments, said Hartuv.

"We will not do business with him, only with other evangelicals who don't back these comments," Hartuv said. "We will do business with other evangelical leaders, friends of Israel, but not with him."

A day after Sharon's stroke on Jan. 4, Robertson suggested the prime minister was being punished for "dividing God's land," a reference to the August pullout from the Gaza Strip and four West Bank settlements.

"God considers this land to be his," Robertson said on his TV program "The 700 Club." "You read the Bible and he says 'This is my land,' and for any prime minister of Israel who decides he is going to carve it up and give it away, God says, 'No, this is mine."'

Robertson's comments also drew condemnation from other Christian leaders and even U.S. President George W. Bush.

The ministry's decision was first reported in Wednesday's edition of The Jerusalem Post.

Christian center planned near Galilee
Robertson's Christian Heritage Center was to be tucked away in 35 acres of rolling Galilee hills, near key Christian sites such as Capernaum, the Mount of the Beatitudes, where tradition says Jesus delivered the Sermon of the Mount, and Tabgha -- on the shores of the Sea of Galilee -- where Christians believe Jesus performed the miracle of the loaves and fish.

The project underlines how ties have strengthened in recent years between Israel and evangelical Christian groups that support the Jewish state.

Israel was considering leasing the land to the Christians for free. Tourism Minister Avraham Hirschson predicted it would annually draw up to 1 million pilgrims who would spend $1.5 billion in Israel and support about 40,000 jobs.

Hirschson, however, is one of Sharon's biggest supporters, and a member of the centrist Kadima party recently founded by the prime minister.

Hartuv left the door open to continuing the project, but only with people who don't back Robertson's statements.

What a shock it must be to Robertson to be actually held accountable for his bizarre statements. Maybe eventually the media here will get around to acting as forthrightly around him as the Israelis have. The idea of this Christian center in Galilee sounded like a mistake anyway (speaking as a Catholic); there are enough tensions in that part of the world without a bunch of right-wing evangelical Americans making it worse. Pilgrims of all religions should be able to visit Galilee without having to endure proselytizing and (no doubt), getting hit up for "donations" from Robertson's cabal.
Hahahaha! Of course, I think everyone but Pat saw that coming.  To bad, Pat, no Jesus World for you!

categories: Politics
Other Stories according to Google: Sarah's Spongebob Squarepants Shrine | List of SpongeBob SquarePants episodes - Wikipedia, the free | NSSA NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIPS | tivo.com | Browse by Channel | tivo.com | Browse by Channel | Patrick Eakes: March 2005 | Amazon.com: Finding the Green Stone: Books | Publicity and Support | MTV.com - Choose or Lose - Headlines | Korean War Memorial Mass for Irish Fallen

7:12:28 PM    

Monday, January 09, 2006

Whose Responsible for the 12 Dead Miners in West Virginia?

If mines can't be trusted to operate themselves safely, I'm almost suspicious that major pollutors won't voluntarily cut emissions! "We're all in the mine shaft now." And the canary's quit singing...

Knight-Ridder Philadelphia Inquirer

Since the Bush administration took office in 2001, it has been more lenient than its predecessors toward mining companies facing serious safety violations
, issuing fewer and smaller major fines and collecting less than half of the money that violators owed, a Knight Ridder investigation has found.

At one point last year, the Mine Safety and Health Administration fined a coal company $440 for a "significant and substantial" violation that ended in the death of a Kentucky man. The firm, International Coal Group Inc., is the same company that owns the Sago mine in West Virginia, where 12 workers died last week.

The $440 fine remains unpaid.

Relaxed mine-safety enforcement is widespread, according to a Knight Ridder analysis of federal records and interviews with former and current federal safety officials, while deaths and injuries from mining accidents have hovered near record-low levels in the last few years. Knight Ridder is the parent company of The Inquirer.

The analysis shows:

The number of major fines over $10,000 has dropped by nearly 10 percent since 2001. The dollar amount of those penalties, when adjusted for inflation, has plummeted 43 percent to a median of $27,584.

Fewer than half of the fines levied between 2001 and 2003 - about $3 million - have been paid.

The budget and staff for the enforcement office also have declined, forcing the agency to make do with about 100 fewer coal-mine-enforcement personnel, a cut of about 9 percent.

In serious criminal cases, the number of guilty pleas and convictions have fallen 54.8 percent since 2001. In the first four years of the Bush administration, the federal government averaged 3.5 criminal convictions a year; in the four years before that, the average was 7.75 per year.

More on Bush's mining fiasco from Hughes for America.

What's more, Think Progress reported that Bush further tipped his hat to Big Coal last September, when he put Richard Stickler in charge of MSHA. Stickler, another insider, had spent 30 years with BathEnergy Mines. The United Mine Workers, one story said, "noted that mines managed by Stickler showed a 'very poor compliance record' and cited government numbers demonstrating that one such operation, Eagle's Nest in Boone county, West Virginia, reported injuries at double the national average."

When it wasn't relaxing regulations, ignoring warnings or otherwise pandering to its corporate masters, the administration was busy doing nothing about the exponentially increased violations at the Sago mine. For instance, federal officials cited billionaire Wilbur Ross's recently reopened mine 208 times in 2005, up from 68 the year prior. Twenty-one of those 208 citations covered the increase of combustible materials, which played a part in Monday's tragedy. The corresponding fines were laughable, the largest being $440. Negligence writ large, and negligence largely unpunished.

If you're a coal company and you scratch the president's back, he'll scratch yours.

A year from now, after nothing has happened, White House officials will forget the lessons they failed to learn, returning to business as usual.   And tragedy will strike again.

categories: Outrages
Other Stories according to Google: Families of 12 dead miners fuming over false joy | West Virginia mine tragedy: Families denounce company, state officials | West Virginia mine tragedy: Families denounce company, state officials | BBC NEWS | World | Americas | Fury over US mine 'rescue' fiasco | BBC NEWS | Americas | Fury over US mine 'rescue' fiasco | BBC NEWS | Americas | How did the mine message spread? | BBC NEWS | World | Americas | Mine families' anger at 'lies' | BBC NEWS | World | Americas | How did the mine message spread? | Mining company knew terrible mistake - World - theage.com.au | Introduction to Black Lung Disease

9:00:58 PM    

Sunday, January 08, 2006

I've Been Tagged - The Meme of Seven

Finally, I'm trying to obey Lance's Meme and responding to his Meme of Seven. Some of my answers are actually serious and truthful.

Thanks Lance, I'll get even with you if I can.

Seven things to do before I die:

1.- Ride on the "Orient Express" train at least from Paris to Venice.
2.- Visit the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland
3.- Ride the "City of New Orleans" train to a rebuilt New Orleans
4.- Ride my mountain bike on the trails around Moab Utah
5.- Revisit battlefield at Gettysburg and monuments in Washington DC
6.- Ride train from Cusco to mountain-top Incas ruins at Machu Picchu
7.- Attend a "Burning Man" happening in the desert

Seven things I cannot do:

1.- Pat my head while rubbing my stomach
2.- Be too good-looking or have too much money
3.- Can't eat and chew food quietly
4.- Can't drive my car without listening to my iPod
5.- Can't organize my work space
6.- Can't find the CD/DVD that I need right now
7.- Can't have enough memory and/or disk space on my computer

Seven things I say most often:

1.- Damn
2.- God damn it
3.- Where's mine
4.- Just a minute Dear, I'm checking my eMail
5.- WTF
6.- Just go ahead and do what you want to, I don't care
7.- This is the worst, at least they can't do anything lower than this

Seven books I love:

1.- HTML for the Web - Elizabeth Castro
2.- The Cuckoo's Egg - Cliff Stall
3.- Best Democracy Money Can Buy - Greg Palast
4.- Rise of the Creative Class - Richard Florida
5.- Secrets & Lies - Bruce Schneier
6.- Body of Secrets - James Bamford
7.- Fast Food Nation - Eric Schlosser

Seven Movies I Watch Over and Over:

1.- High Noon - Gary Cooper
2.- The Gods Must Be Crazy - N! Xau
3.- Tom Jones - Albert Finney
4.- Breaking Away - Dennis Christopher
5.- Who's Afraid of Virginia Wolf - Elizabeth Taylor
6.- The Birdcage - Robin Williams
7.- Mister Roberts - Henry Fonda

Seven Songs I Play Over and Over Again:

1.- Who Will Answer - Ed Ames
2.- A Good Hearted Woman in Love with a Good Timin' Man - Waylon Jennings/Willie Nelson
3.- To Beat The Devil - Kris Kristofferson
4.- To All The Girls I've Loved - Willie Nelson/Julio Iglesias
5.- Frankie and Johnnie - Glen Yarbrough
6.- As Long as the Grass Shall Grow and Rivers Flow - Johnny Cash
7.- Suzanne Takes You Down - Judy Collins

Seven celebrity crushes:

1.- Angelina Jolie
2.- David Strathairn
3.- Charlize Theron
4.- Christina Applegate
5.- David Letterman
6.- Jon Stewart
7.- George Clooney

categories: Miscelleous
Other Stories according to Google: Shakespeare's Sister | Theology and Biblical Studies » I've been tagged | Theology and Biblical Studies » I've been tagged | Lean Left » I’m Meme -ing of a White Christmas | Tales of a Wessel: I've Been Tagged ! | Parableman: Seven 7s | Pam's House Blend | Pandagon: Tagged : the Seven Times Seven Meme | Bloggg: Meme of Seven .oh noooo.. | Woulda Coulda Shoulda: I will do anything to put off wrapping

3:27:02 PM    

Saturday, January 07, 2006

YOUR Phone Records Are For Sale For $110

And the best part? Congress and the Executive branch have known about this problem for half a year or more and no one did a damn thing to fix it.

This is hugh. Beyond huge: Anyone can buy a list of your incoming and outgoing phone calls, cell or land-line, for $110 online.

The bombshell was reported in a Chicago Sun-Times story. Aravosis decided to try it out:

In a nutshell, the Chicago Sun-Times ran a story two days ago about a Web site that sells phone records, for cells and land-lines, for $110 a pop. The company boasts on its own Web site:

Give us the cell phone number and we will send you the calls made from the cell phone number.

So I went to their site, plopped down $110, and within a day I had a list of every single phone number that called my cell, or that I called from my cell, for the month of November. I even had the dates the calls were made, and for a premium I could find out how long the calls were.

Now, before you write this off as just another sad story, let me explain to you just how serious the situation really is - not just to your own personal privacy, but to law enforcement, every politician in DC and around the country, and to national security.

1. Are you an FBI agent with confidential sources?

Again, I quote the Sun-Times:

To test the service, the FBI paid Locatecell.com $160 to buy the records for an agent's cell phone and received the list within three hours, the police bulletin said.
2. Are you a police officer with confidential sources?
The Chicago Sun-Times paid $110 to Locatecell.com to purchase a one-month record of calls for this reporter's company cell phone. It was as simple as e-mailing the telephone number to the service along with a credit card number. The request was made Friday after the service was closed for the New Year's holiday.

On Tuesday, when it reopened, Locatecell.com e-mailed a list of 78 telephone numbers this reporter called on his cell phone between Nov. 19 and Dec. 17. The list included calls to law enforcement sources, story subjects and other Sun-Times reporters and editors.
3. Are you a journalist with confidential sources?

Do you think anyone in Washington, DC would like to know who James Risen of the New York Times, the reporter who broke Bush's domestic spying scandal, has been talking to over the last year? Well, just plop down a few hundred bucks and buy his phone records. Kiss his sources goodbye. Or how about Bob Novak? Be fun to find out who he was talking to, oh, around the spring of 2003... Or the phone records of any US reporters - imagine the fun the Bush administration could have LEGALLY getting a record of every single phone call you've ever received or made. Spying on Christiane Amanpour? Who needs to! Her phone records are available for $110 and the click of a button.

4. Are you a Democratic or Republican member of Congress?

Imagine the fun should some rich Democratic or Republican donor plop down $1 million to get the phone records of every single member of Congress from the other party. Who have they been talking to? George Soros? Pat Robertson? Their mistress? Did any of them talk to any reporters on or around the day that any big leak came out of Congress? Did you ever have a phone conversation with Jack Abramoff? I do oppo research for a living - I would give my right thumb to have a list of every phone call made or received by a member of Congress from the other party on their cell phone. Go ahead, make my day.

5. Are you an Al Qaeda terrorist?

Don't you think they'd love to pull up the phone records of FBI, CIA, and Homeland Security officials to find out if any other Al Qaeda "affiliates" are snitches, or at least to see who they're talking to. Or pull up the records of their own people to see if they've been talking to reporters or FBI agents?

6. Are you a regular old American criminal, a member of the Mafia for example?

Think they'd find it useful to check who among their associates has been talking to reporters, politicians, or law enforcement?

7. Are you someone who's being abused by your spouse?

Wouldn't it be great to have your partner find out you're talking to an abused women shelter or to the police?

8. Got AIDS, cancer or any other disease you might want to keep private?

Imagine the fun should your employer find out you call the AIDS hotline every week, or the women's breast cancer clinic.

9. Are you a woman who ever has, may, or will get an abortion?

Do you want everyone knowing you made a few too many phone calls to the Planned Parenthood clinic?

My point here is that this is incredibly dangerous, our government has known about it for a good half year or longer, and no one has done a damn thing about it.

Journalists, politicians, businessmen, abused spouses, law enforcement, and everyone frickin' else -- your business is now everyone else's business for the low, low price of $110.

In July, the Electronic Privacy Information Center filed a petition with the Federal Communications Commission seeking an end to the sale of telephone records.

"We're very concerned about Locatecell," said Chris Jay Hoofnagle, senior counsel for the center. "This is the company that sold the phone records of a Canadian official to a reporter 'no questions asked.' "

Schumer has called for legislation to criminalize the "stealing and selling" of cell phone logs. He also urged the Federal Trade Commission to set up a unit to stop it.

He said a common method for obtaining cell phone records is "pretexting," involving a data broker pretending to be a phone's owner and duping the phone company into providing the information.

"Pretexting for financial data is illegal, but it does not include phone records," Schumer said. "We already have protections for our financial information. We ought to have it for the very personal information that can be gleaned from telephone records."

This Website You can also buy anyone's name/address/phone number by supplying their email address!

If you can buy an address to go with an email address and paedophiles find out about this, I think it could result in possible criminal actions involving vulnerable kids?

Did anyone think about this?

PI's have been able to get this type of info for ages. It's typically done by scamming the phone company in various ways, e.g. pretending to be the customer.

There was also a famous case a year or so ago where some flunky (customer service rep or something) at AOL went to jail because he'd sold millions of AOL email addresses to spammers. This is the same type of thing. Large numbers of low level staff have access to this type of call data and so it leaks like a sieve. They have to have the access because customers call with billing questions all the time. Maybe it could be suppressed if you have an unlimited minutes plan, but I don't think it normally is suppressed even then.

One thing you can do is get a prepaid cell phone, pay cash for the phone and prepayment cards, and don't use your real name or address.

Not only must this be plugged immediately, and this service shut down, but whoever is giving this company these phone records must pay. A lot.

categories: Outrages
Other Stories according to Google: Online Data Gets Personal: Cell Phone Records for Sale | Online Data Gets Personal: Cell Phone Records for Sale | ABC News: Are Your Cell Phone Records for Sale Online? | ABC News: Are Your Cell Phone Records for Sale Online? | WCCO-TV - Minnesota's Breaking News, Video, Weather, Traffic and | bookofjoe: Your cellphone billing records are for sale | GuardMyCreditFile: Your Cell Phone Records Are For Sale | GuardMyCreditFile: Your Cell Phone Records Are For Sale | Your Cell Phone Records Are For Sale | Online data gets personal: Cell phone records for sale - 07/14/05

8:25:28 PM    

Study: 100s Of Marines Would Be Saved By Extra Body Armor

The Marines were getting the crap stuff that failed simple tests from the guy that spent $10 million on his daughter's bat mitzvah party.

The New York Times just posted a story claiming that a secret Pentagon study, originally obtained by Soldiers for Truth, found that 80% -- eight out of ten! -- Marines with upper body wounds could have been saved by use of proper body armor.

The story reads like a classic example of total bureaucratic SNAFU in action: increasing calls from the field wending their slow and laborious way through agencies and feet-dragging studies, as well as wrangling with cost factors.

Read it and weep. (The story also details other problems with procurements that the Times has been looking into in detail, thank God.)

Extra Armor Could Have Saved Many Lives, Study Shows

A secret Pentagon study has found that at least 80 percent of the marines who have been killed in Iraq from wounds to their upper body could have survived if they had extra body armor. That armor has been available since 2003 but until recently the Pentagon has largely declined to supply it to troops despite calls from the field for additional protection, according to military officials.
Additional forensic studies by the Armed Forces Medical Examiner's unit that were obtained by The Times indicate that about 340 American troops have died solely from torso wounds.

Military officials said they had originally decided against using the extra plates because they were concerned they added too much weight to the vests or constricted the movement of soldiers. Marine Corps officials said the findings of the Pentagon study caused field commanders to override those concerns in the interest of greater protection.
The findings and other research by military pathologists suggests that an analysis of all combat deaths in Iraq, including those of Army personnel, would show that 300 or more lives might have been saved with improved body armor.

Military officials and defense contractors said the Pentagon's procurement troubles have stemmed in part from miscalculations that underestimated the strength of the insurgency, and from years of cost-cutting that left some armoring firms on the brink of collapse as they waited for new orders.

"To help defeat roadside ambushes, the military in May 2005 contracted to buy 122 Cougars whose special V-shaped hull helps deflect roadside bombs, military officials said. But the Pentagon gave the job to a small firm in South Carolina, Force Protection, that had never mass-produced vehicles."

Did Force Protection have some special lobbyist connection?  It would not be surprising, considering all the defense contract crap that came up with Duke Cunningham?  Am I naive to think the NY Times reporters will be onto this soon?

Please, dear God: set the bureaucratic bungling aside. Streamline whatever is going on. I don't give a rat's ass how much these things cost - as much as I hate the war, please ... hit me up with some taxes so these soldiers will survive.

What a godawful nightmare. Damn it! Support the troops, you asshats! This is criminal!

Here's link to a PDF copy of the study.

Good God. The Republicans' number one issue is that they're strong on defense and we're not. And now we know for a fact that they are killing our troops.

Fix it. Now. Or get out of office and make way for Democrats who can.

categories: Outrages
Other Stories according to Google: Belmont Club: April 2004 | Belmont Club | Defense Tech: May 2003 Archives | BLACKFIVE: May 2005 | BLACKFIVE: Aiding and Abetting the Enemy | Marine Corps Moms: January 2005 Archives | IraqWar.info :: Operation Iraqi Freedom | Happy Furry Puppy Story Time with Norbizness: April 2004 Archives | Panbo's Marine Electronics & Communications Weblog: Navigation | Casemate Spring 2006 New Books Catalog

12:05:04 AM    

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Bush Is Worst Than The Old Nixon

Historian Rick Perlstein, who is writing a sequel to his Before the Storm focusing on the Nixon years, passed this on:

Hunter S. Thompson, in the October 10, 1974 Rolling Stone: "But the climate of those years was so grim that half the Washington press corps spent more time worrying about having their telephones tapped than they did about risking the wrath of Haldeman, Ehrlichman, and Colson by poking at the weak semas of a Mafia-style administration that began cannibalizing the whole government just as soon as it came into power. Nixon's capos were never subtle; they swaggered into Washington like a conquering army, and the climate of fear they engendered apparently neutralized The New York Times along with all the other pockets of potential resistance. Nixon had to do everything but fall on his own sword before anybody in the Washingotn socio-political establishment was willing to take him on."

Fear and Loathing; Campaign 2004

Richard Nixon looks like a flaming liberal today, compared to a golem like George Bush.

If Nixon were running for president today, he would be seen as a "liberal" candidate, and he would probably win. He was a crook and a bungler, but what the hell? Nixon was a barrel of laughs compared to this gang of thugs from the Halliburton petroleum organization who are running the White House today -- and who will be running it this time next year, if we (the once-proud, once-loved and widely respected "American people") don't rise up like wounded warriors and whack those lying petroleum pimps out of the White House on November 2nd.

"There are a hundred or more people wandering around Washington today who have heard the 'real stuff,' as they put it - and despite their professional caution when the obvious question arises, there is one reaction they all feel free to agree on: that nobody who felt shocked, depressed or angry after reading the edited White House transcripts should ever be allowed to hear the actual tapes, except under heavy sedation or locked in the trunk of a car. Only a terminal cynic, they say, can listen for any length of time to the real stuff without feeling a compulsion to do something like drive down to the White House and throw a bag of live rats over the fence."
- Hunter S. Thompson, 04 July 1973

Hunter S. Thompson had a way with words.

All of the scurrilous things said about Nixon are true, but Bush is still far worse and much more dangerous.  

Nixon would have never had the gall to get up and say have committed felonies, I am the president, and there is nothing you can do about it.  Bush did that, and doesn't really care what the response is.  

Bush cackled about the upcoming execution of Karla Fay Tucker as if this death were an amusement for his delight.  Nixon at least had enough conscience and awareness to show some decorum.

Nixon may have run around the Constitution, but he did not overtly try to destroy it.  He did not attempt to change our form of government into a dictatorship or theocracy.  Nixon did admire Barbara Bush though, "He never knew anyone who could hate so deeply or so well."

The media was not as quiescent as Thompson makes out, and it was certainly not as muzzled as today.

I would rather deal with a Nixon than Bush43. 

categories: Outrages
Other Stories according to Google: BBC ON THIS DAY | 8 | 1974: The scandal that rocked America | BBC ON THIS DAY | 8 | 1974: The scandal that rocked America | FindLaw's Writ - Dean: The Bush Administration Adopts a Worse - than | Hugh Hewitt | Salon.com News | The scandal sheet | The Still Bad New Old Nixon | Ex- Nixon Aide John Dean Tells Bill Moyers that Bush Should Be | Wacky video Wednesday - Bloggermann - MSNBC.com | Stephen Spruiell on George W. Bush , the Media & Watergate on | Creepier than Nixon - Independent Media TV

10:43:12 PM    

Cheney Strongly Supports Illegal Spying

My favorite quote:
Vice President Dick Cheney on Wednesday strongly defended a secret domestic eavesdropping operation and said that had it been in place before the September 11 attacks the Pentagon might have been spared.

If we'd been able to see that three airliners were making huge U-turns on the morning of 9-11, we might have been able to save the Pentagon and one of the towers of the WTC, but conveniently we missed that little de-tail.

Which begs the question: Just where has all the trillions of dollars we've poured into that rathole called the defense budget for the last fifty years gone? Do all we have to show for it is a destroyed office complex, 3000 dead people, and Tang?

NSA eavesdropping began prior to 9/11. Cheney is such a liar!

See this article from Slate: "A former telecom executive told us that efforts to obtain call details go back to early 2001, predating the 9/11 attacks and the president's now celebrated secret executive order. The source, who asked not to be identified so as not to out his former company, reports that the NSA approached U.S. carriers and asked for their cooperation in a "data-mining" operation, which might eventually cull "millions" of individual calls and e-mails."

So, if the Slate article is correct and NSA data-mining began prior to 9/11, it didn't prevent 9/11. We won't go into the fact that Bush ignored pre-9/11 warnings as well.

More sillyness of Cheney's 9/11 statement is this:

If BushCo totally ignored a PDB that was TITLED[!] "Bin Laden Determined to Attack the USA", why in the holy hell does he think a shift supervisor at NSA would get their attention by saying, "I think I may have found something suspicious in one of the 500 + wire taps." ?

Cheney strongly supports illegal spying

But putting that aside, Cheney is right. Had we dumped our democracy and 200 years of history and adopted a Soviet-style communist police state and jailed every Muslim in America (including US citizens) prior to 9/11 we might have been spared the attacks as well.

And your point would be that dictatorships are better than democracies?

Repeat this over and over to all of your wingnut associates: Why do Republicans hate America?

Won't it be great when Hillary Clinton has this kind of power?

categories: Outrages
Other Stories according to Google: BushCo | Independent Media Center of Philadelphia | More Insights into the | Stanley Hilton Lawsuit - 9/11Review | Think Progress » Cheney : Warrentless Wiretapping ‘Might Have Led | December 18 Week In Review | firedoglake: 12/01/2005 - 12/31/2005 | AxisofLogic/ Civil Rights/Human Rights | Newswire | UK Indymedia - Stunning Insights into Bush's lies about illegal | TPMCafe || Do The Dems Have The Stomach For This?

9:12:12 PM    

Monday, January 02, 2006

James Comey:  An Unsung Hero

Comey truly is the kind of career public servant that we should be proud of in this country. It's a shame so many of them have been replaced by political cronies under Bush.

Noone knows if 2006 will be the year the power of the despots in this country will be checked, but if it happens it will be due to people like James Comey who after only three weeks on the job as the number two man in the Justice Department went to John Ashcroft in December of 2003 and told him he had to recuse himself from the CIA leak investigation.

It was also James Comey who appointed his good friend, the godfather to his son, Patrick Fitzgerald as Special Counsel and gave him the power to do the job without interference.

According to the New York Times, it now appears that when John Ashcroft was hospitalized for a gall bladder operation in March of 2004, Andy Card and Abu Gonzales had to go his hospital bed and ask for approval of key parts of the warrantless wiretapping program because his acting deputy refused to certify it.

Pete Williams was on MSNBC today spinning the yarn that James Comey's objections to the NSA wiretapping scheme were only momentary and technical, and that he eventually was part of the effort to get the NYT to sit on the story.

I just wish people would preface any mention of Pete Williams' opinion with a little caveat mentioning his ties to Cheney. How about:
"Ex-Cheney Staffer Pete Wiliams"   Let's not act like we don't know this. Geez...

"In 1986 he joined the Washington, DC staff of then Congressman Dick Cheney as press secretary and a legislative assistant. In 1989, when Cheney was named Assistant Secretary of Defense, Williams was appointed Assistant Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs."
While this tale is I suppose possible it sounds quite unlikely, and its successful perpetuation depends on two things:

1) That Comey himself will not come out and challenge it. Probably true.

2) That nobody in the blogosphere will ferret around in the news vaults and set Comey's relationship to the Administration during his brief stint at the DoJ in its proper context.

In this particular instance the context is set by Orin Kerr over at the Volokh Conspiracy, who unearths this superb bit from the Legal Times in October 2004:
There are a number of candidates who could be tapped to replace John Ashcroft as attorney general if President George W. Bush wins re-election. But perhaps the most obvious choice, Deputy AG James Comey, almost certainly will not be.

Since his confirmation as the No. 2 Justice Department official in December 2003, sources close to the department say Comey has had a strained relationship with some of the president's top advisers . . . .

Earlier this year, after the disclosure of internal administration memos that seemed to condone the torture of suspected terrorists overseas, Comey pushed aggressively for the Justice Department's memos to be released to the media and for controversial legal analyses regarding the use of torture to be rewritten.

In a deeply partisan administration that places a high premium on political loyalty, sources say Comey — a career prosecutor and a former U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York — is not viewed as a team player.

"[Comey] has shown insufficient political savvy," says the former official. "The perception is that he has erred too much on the side of neutrality and independence."
And:"The appointment of Pat Fitzgerald is the kind of decision that the White House isn't thrilled with," says one former DOJ official. "Comey knew what he was doing when he appointed Pat."

Comey announced his resignation from the Justice Department in March 2005. And when BushCo. tried to appoint a Skull & Bones crony to oversee Fitzgerald, Comey did an end run around them and appointed the extremely ethical David Margolis to the task as his parting shot out the door.

Thank you Fitz, Comey, Feingold, Murtha, Cantwell, and Reid for showing that there are still people of courage and honor in American public life.

Thanks to all the brave and tireless people who fought for the underdog; from Bono and Bob Geldof working on debt relief for the Third World, to the Red Cross for providing disaster relief from Indonesia to New Orleans, to Noah's Wish and the Humane Society for rescuing furry family members, and all the volunteers who put their lives on hold to go help those in need.

Here's to 2006: May the Good Guys Win the Big Ones!

categories: Politics
Other Stories according to Google: Daily Kos: James Comey | Daily Kos: An Unsung Hero | Winds of Change | The Torture Debate in America - Cambridge University Press | The Torture Debate in America - Cambridge University Press | The Torture Debate in America - Cambridge University Press | The Torture Debate in America - Cambridge University Press | The Torture Debate in America - Cambridge University Press | The Torture Debate in America - Cambridge University Press | The Torture Debate in America - Cambridge University Press

9:19:24 PM    

© Copyright 2006 Earl Bockenfeld.
Last update: 1/26/2006; 7:21:50 PM.

Click here to visit the Radio UserLand website.