Friday, November 18, 2005

Former CIA director accuses Cheney of overseeing torture

Admiral Stansfield Turner, a former CIA director, accused US Vice President Dick Cheney of overseeing policies of torturing terrorist suspects and damaging the nation's reputation, in a television interview.
"We have crossed the line into dangerous territory," Turner, who headed the Central Intelligence Agency in the 1970s, said on ITV news.
"I am embarrassed that the USA has a vice president for torture. I think it is just reprehensible. He (Mr Cheney) advocates torture, what else is it? I just don't understand how a man in that position can take such a stance."

Fitzgerald Files Motion for New Grand Jury

Lawyers in the case have said President George W. Bush's top political adviser, Karl Rove, remained under investigation and could still be charged.
Fitzgerald has been investigating the leak of Valerie Plame's identity for two years and the grand jury that indicted Libby expired after it brought charges against him for perjury and obstructing justice on October 28.

California Set to Install Diebold Voting Machines - Protests

On Monday, November 21st, California’s Voting System Panel (VSP) was slated to hold public hearings on whether to recertify Diebold TSX touchscreen machines. The California Election Protection Network (CEPN) issued a press release inviting concerned citizens to speak at the 10 a.m. hearing and attend a rally at Secretary of State Bruce McPherson’s office to encourage state officials to “send Diebold packing before Turkey Day.”
But when CEPN spokesperson Sherry Healy called to verify the hearing date and time, she received startling news.
“I asked Bruce McDannold in the Secretary of State’s office if the hearing is still on for Monday,” she told Raw Story. “He said, 'You’re half right. The VSP has been disbanded.' I asked why. He said, 'I can’t speak for the Secretary of State.’”

US Senators Demand Oil Execs Re-testify, Under Oath

Senate Democrats demanded that oil company executives who testified last week about skyrocketing energy prices reappear before lawmakers and testify under oath, after news reports raised questions about the truthfulness of their testimony.
Leading oil company executives long have denied taking part in a secretive energy task force run in 2001 by Vice President Dick Cheney, but White House records obtained by The Washington Post refuted that, according to the daily's editions on Wednesday.
The ad hoc group was tasked with helping develop a national energy policy, but was opposed by environmentalists because there allegedly were no ecologically friendly players on the panel.
The leader of Senate Democrats said the oil company executives who testified last week should be forced to return to Congress to set the record straight regarding their involvement with Cheney's group.

Gene Linked with Human Fear Response

The gene, known as stathmin or oncoprotein 18, is highly concentrated in the amygdala, a region of the brain associated with fear and anxiety, the researchers report in Thursday's issue of the journal Cell.
"This is a major advance in the field of learning and memory that will allow for a better understanding of post- traumatic stress disorder, phobias, borderline personality disorder and other human anxiety diseases," said Gleb Shumyatsky of Rutgers University in New Jersey, who worked on the study.

Bipartisan Group of Senators Threaten Filibuster Over PATRIOT ACT

A bipartisan group of senators told congressional leaders Thursday they will try to block reauthorization of the Patriot Act to protest the elimination of Senate-pushed protections against ``unnecessary and intrusive government surveillance'' in a House-Senate compromise.
``If further changes are not made, we will work to stop this bill from becoming law,'' GOP Sens. Larry Craig, John Sununu and Lisa Murkowski and Democratic Sens. Dick Durbin, Russ Feingold and Ken Salazar said in a letter to the Senate Judiciary and Intelligence committees.
This came a day after House-Senate negotiators crafted a tentative compromise to make most provisions of the existing law permanent, and set new seven-year sunsets for rules on wiretapping, obtaining business records under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) and new standards for monitoring ``lone wolf'' terrorists who may be operating independent of a foreign agent or power.

John P. Murtha on the War in Iraq

Excerpt: The war in Iraq is not going as advertised. It is a flawed policy wrapped in illusion. The American public is way ahead of us. The United States and coalition troops have done all they can in Iraq, but it is time for a change in direction. Our military is suffering. The future of our country is at risk. We can not continue on the present course. It is evident that continued military action in Iraq is not in the best interest of the United States of America, the Iraqi people or the Persian Gulf Region.
General Casey said in a September 2005 Hearing, “the perception of occupation in Iraq is a major driving force behind the insurgency.” General Abizaid said on the same date, “Reducing the size and visibility of the coalition forces in Iraq is a part of our counterinsurgency strategy.”
For 2 ½ years I have been concerned about the U.S. policy and the plan in Iraq. I have addressed my concerns with the Administration and the Pentagon and have spoken out in public about my concerns. The main reason for going to war has been discredited. A few days before the start of the war I was in Kuwait – the military drew a red line around Baghdad and said when U.S. forces cross that line they will be attacked by the Iraqis with Weapons of Mass Destruction – but the US forces said they were prepared. They had well trained forces with the appropriate protective gear.
We spend more money on Intelligence than all the countries in the world together, and more on Intelligence than most countries GDP. But the intelligence concerning Iraq was wrong. It is not a world intelligence failure. It is a U.S. intelligence failure and the way that intelligence was misused.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

John Rendon - The Man Who Sold the War

Rendon is a man who fills a need that few people even know exists. ...[T]he Pentagon had secretly awarded him a $16 million contract to target Iraq and other adversaries with propaganda. One of the most powerful people in Washington, Rendon is a leader in the strategic field known as "perception management," manipulating information -- and, by extension, the news media -- to achieve the desired result. His firm, the Rendon Group, has made millions off government contracts since 1991, when it was hired by the CIA to help "create the conditions for the removal of Hussein from power." Working under this extraordinary transfer of secret authority, Rendon assembled a group of anti-Saddam militants, personally gave them their name -- the Iraqi National Congress -- and served as their media guru and "senior adviser" as they set out to engineer an uprising against Saddam. It was as if President John F. Kennedy had outsourced the Bay of Pigs operation to the advertising and public-relations firm of J. Walter Thompson.


This post has been getting some traffic lately. Update below.

You must click on the links below, this is very special:
On Monday, I received an email entitled "Help Teach American Youth That 'Bush Was Right'!"
It was similar to another email from weeks ago recommending the song "Bush Was Right!" [RAM] by The Right Brothers.
So I was already familiar with the lyrics:

Democracy is on the way, hitting like a tidal wave
All over the middle east, dictators walk with shaky knees
Don't know what they're gonna do, their worst nightmare is coming true
They fear the domino effect, they're all wondering who's next

Bush was right! (four times)

Ted Kennedy - wrong!
Cindy Sheehan - wrong!
France - WRONG!
Zell Miller - right!

Economy is on the rise kicking into overdrive
Angry liberals can't believe it's cause of W's policies
Unemployment's staying down, Democrats are wondering how
Revenue is going up, can you say "Tax Cuts"

Now, online advocacy group is asking us to lobby MTV on behalf of the song:

WILL YOU HELP US? We're putting together a "kickin'" music video right now, and we're preparing a HUGE grassroots campaign to get hundreds of thousands of people to request "Bush Was Right!" on MTV's "Total Request Live" show... leading to our demands for it to be played in regular rotation!
If they DON'T - then we'll hit the media in a BIG way, showing how MTV plays left-wing videos while CENSORING conservative videos!

I'm a musician and I have lots of musician friends. I don't know a one that feels entitled to MTV exposure. Furthermore, MTV is not a bastion of liberalism, everyone knows it is a bastion of crass commercialism. The network is pretty up front on that one. And the idea of MTV being a pedagogical device seems to come from a parallel universe.
But what a song!
It is deliciously bad. I can't stop listening to this :50sec clip [RAM]

Not only is it's main melody a perfect copy of "We Didn't Start the Fire" by Billy Joel but it is also the only rock song ever to heap praise on Zell Miller.
Dig those neon harmonies and shrink-wrapped guitar licks.
Groove on the cozy disinformation and sledge-hammer subtlety.

Want more? The Right Brothers' web site has excerpts from some of their videos!
"Tolerate This" [MOV] shows our scruffy heroes singing against some lunatic on a bicycle who cannot tolerate Christians, large cars or heterosexual marriages. The villain accosts people, steals their Bibles and presumably represents a liberal. Wow.

Ideally, MTV will bait this situation for big laughs. They can deny televising the video on the very likely grounds that the video will suck ... and suck hard. It will be out in a few days.
Then RightMarch can employ their well-practiced cry-baby routine as planned.
In the process, more people can heap ridicule on this spectacularly ill-conceived song.
And then Billy Joel can sue them.
I hope RightMarch is successful in bringing public attention to "Bush Was Right!" because it is so enormously entertaining. But hey, I like Ed Wood and the Shaggs.

Keith Olbermann covers the story on MSNBC. Definitely worth checking out.

-- McLir


The entire "Bush Was Right" video is available at
You Tube and
Huffington Post

It's actually a fairly boring performance video.
Keith Olbermann and the folks at Countdown did a better mix here.

The War against Right-wing Theocrats finally begins for real

With Bush's plummeting approval ratings, and with the Administration's competence and integrity being assaulted on all fronts, the political dynamic of the country is changing, and it is changing rapidly and dramatically, as two separate devleopments demonstrate -- the attack this week by George Will on "social conservatives," and a similar, long overdue assault on this theocratic movement by the Anti-Defamation League.
In what is sure to be a potent bellwether of the imminent war over religious and political freedom in this country, George Will uses his column this week to expressly accuse the "social conservative" wing of the GOP of being decidedly un-conservative in its objectives and ideology, and all but warns that the GOP will be destroyed by the continued ascendancy of this sector of the Republican Party. Using the truly embarrassing (but quite illustrative) decision of a Kansas school board to literally re-define science in order to permit the teaching of warmed-over creationism in the public schools, Will warns:

"It does me no injury," said Thomas Jefferson, "for my neighbor to say there are twenty gods, or no God. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg." But it is injurious, and unneighborly, when zealots try to compel public education to infuse theism into scientific education.
The conservative coalition, which is coming unglued for many reasons, will rapidly disintegrate if limited-government conservatives become convinced that social conservatives are unwilling to concentrate their character-building and soul-saving energies on the private institutions that mediate between individuals and government, and instead try to conscript government into sectarian crusades.

Whistleblower: DuPont hid Teflon-risk studies

DuPont Co. hid studies showing the risks of a Teflon-related chemical used to line candy wrappers, pizza boxes, microwave popcorn bags and hundreds of other food containers, according to internal company documents and a former employee.
The chemical Zonyl can rub off the liner and get into food. Once in a person's body, it can break down into perfluorooctanoic acid and its salts, known as PFOA, a related chemical used in the making of Teflon-coated cookware.

Bodies of Hurricane Katrina Victims Still Being Found in New Orleans

DORNIN: Since November 1, 10 bodies have been found in the ruins of the Ninth Ward. The last area, known as the Lower Ninth, will open to residents December 1. Coroner Frank Minyard worries about what people will find.
(on camera): You're fully expecting that more bodies will come in once they open the Ninth Ward?
FRANK MINYARD, ORLEANS PARISH CORONER: Yes. And I think it's -- it's going to come in for a good while. There's so much rubbish around that they might find people in the rubbish. DORNIN (voice-over): They already have. And there are still many bodies left unidentified and unclaimed.
MINYARD: We have 150 autopsies left to do, all on unidentified people. Hopefully, that -- that will help us identify that person, if we can find a pacemaker or an artificial hip or something. Then we're into DNA.

'My Lobotomy': Howard Dully's Journey

"If you saw me you'd never know I'd had a lobotomy," Dully says. "The only thing you'd notice is that I'm very tall and weigh about 350 pounds. But I've always felt different -- wondered if something's missing from my soul. I have no memory of the operation, and never had the courage to ask my family about it. So two years ago I set out on a journey to learn everything I could about my lobotomy."

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Document Says Oil Chiefs Met With Cheney Task Forc

A White House document shows that executives from big oil companies met with Vice President Cheney's energy task force in 2001 -- something long suspected by environmentalists but denied as recently as last week by industry officials testifying before Congress.
The document, obtained this week by The Washington Post, shows that officials from Exxon Mobil Corp., Conoco (before its merger with Phillips), Shell Oil Co. and BP America Inc. met in the White House complex with the Cheney aides who were developing a national energy policy, parts of which became law and parts of which are still being debated.
In a joint hearing last week of the Senate Energy and Commerce committees, the chief executives of Exxon Mobil Corp., Chevron Corp. and ConocoPhillips said their firms did not participate in the 2001 task force. The president of Shell Oil said his company did not participate "to my knowledge," and the chief of BP America Inc. said he did not know. [They were not under oath.]
Chevron was not named in the White House document, but the Government Accountability Office has found that Chevron was one of several companies that "gave detailed energy policy recommendations" to the task force. In addition, Cheney had a separate meeting with John Browne, BP's chief executive, according to a person familiar with the task force's work; that meeting is not noted in the document.

New Book Holds Media's 'Feet to the Fire' on Iraq, Middle East Reporting

In her latest book, author Kristina Borjesson goes straight to the sources -- 21 of war journalism's heavy hitters. "Feet to the Fire: The Media After 9/11," published Nov. 8 by Prometheus Books, is an exhaustive collective critique -- by the likes of Walter Pincus, Ted Koppel, Ron Suskind, Anthony Shadid, and Chris Hedges -- of the way American media covered recent U.S. involvement in the Middle East.
In her introduction, Borjesson, author of the earlier "Into the Buzzsaw," laments that "there is less hard news and real information on television than ever" and hopes her book will persuade people to turn their attention back to the hard-working journalists in other news formats. Her defense of the journalism community is tempered, however, by hard looks at where and why it failed, especially in covering military actions precipitated by the Sept. 11 attacks. Each Q&A is introduced by a description and summary of the interview, which, along with biographies, endnotes and a detailed index, make this hefty tome feel all the more like a text book.
While the subtitle suggests Sept. 11 as a watershed moment, Borjesson's questions more often center on the Iraq war and continuing Middle East conflicts. And although she can't help occasionally asking the media figures to reiterate specific facts that were downplayed when originally unearthed, she constantly refocuses her inquiries toward uncovering the paradigm shifts in media that have proven undeniable in recent years.

Dutch Agency Demands Prosecution for Shooting of Sparrow That Knocked Over 23,000 Dominoes

he Dutch animal protection agency demanded prosecution Tuesday for the shooting of a sparrow that knocked over 23,000 dominoes during an attempt to set a world record.
The ill-fated bird flew into an exposition center Monday in the northern city of Leeuwarden, where employees of TV company Endemol NV had worked for weeks setting up more than 4 million dominoes in an attempt to break the official Guinness World Record for falling dominoes.
The common house sparrow of a species on the national endangered list was chased into a corner and shot by an exterminator with an air rifle.
"Under Dutch law, you need a permit to kill this kind of bird, and a permit can only be granted when there's a danger to public health or a crop," said agency spokesman Niels Dorland. "That was not the case."

Of 23,547 FCC Decency Complaints, All but 5 from Parent's Television Council

For the three months ended Sept. 30, indecency/obscenity complaints quadrupled to 26,185 from 6,161 logged during the previous three months. Almost all of that spike came in July (23,547), with only 1,716 complaints in August and 922 in September.
According to PTC's Web site, the group filed a total of 23,542 complaints in July (10,775 against Fox and 12,767 against ABC).That would account for all but five of the FCC complaints for the month. Let'srepeat that.Out of 23,547 complaints in July, PTC claims 23,542.

Woodward Was Told of Plame More Than Two Years Ago

Washington Post Assistant Managing Editor Bob Woodward testified under oath Monday in the CIA leak case that a senior administration official told him about CIA operative Valerie Plame and her position at the agency nearly a month before her identity was disclosed.
In a more than two-hour deposition, Woodward told Special Counsel Patrick J. Fitzgerald that the official casually told him in mid-June 2003 that Plame worked as a CIA analyst on weapons of mass destruction, and that he did not believe the information to be classified or sensitive, according to a statement Woodward released yesterday.
Fitzgerald interviewed Woodward about the previously undisclosed conversation after the official alerted the prosecutor to it on Nov. 3 -- one week after Vice President Cheney's chief of staff, I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, was indicted in the investigation.
Citing a confidentiality agreement in which the source freed Woodward to testify but would not allow him to discuss their conversations publicly, Woodward and Post editors refused to disclose the official's name or provide crucial details about the testimony. Woodward did not share the information with Washington Post Executive Editor Leonard Downie Jr. until last month, and the only Post reporter whom Woodward said he remembers telling in the summer of 2003 does not recall the conversation taking place.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Secretive firm run by Dem helps U.S. wage information war abroad

The Rendon Group, directed by former Democratic Party political operative John Rendon, has garnered more than $56 million in work from the Pentagon since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
These contracts list such activities as tracking foreign reporters; "pushing" news favorable to U.S. forces; planting television news segments that promote American positions; and creating a grass-roots voting effort in Puerto Rico on behalf of the U.S. Navy, according to Pentagon records.
The contracts, some of which were obtained by the watchdog group Judicial Watch through a Freedom of Information Act request, reveal that the Bush administration is engaged in a constant war of images and words with al-Qaida and other radical groups.

Beyond the Headlines Awards from the Project on Government Oversight

POGO's Beyond the Headlines Award recognizes an individual who has worked tenaciously to create a more accountable and responsive federal government. This person is one whose work went beyond reaching for the headlines, and whose cause is devoted to advancing public interest over private gain.
Mr. Russ Kick is the Publisher and Editor of The Memory Hole website, which preserves and makes available "material that is in danger of being lost, is hard to find, or is not widely known," including congressional testimony, government documents, corporate memos, and court documents. Mr. Kick maintains primarily out of his own pocket and on his own time.
POGO's Bi-Partisan Leadership Award recognizes Members of Congress or other leaders who collaborate across the aisle to promote a more open, honest and accountable government.
Senators John Cornyn (R-TX) & Patrick Leahy (D-VT) are being honored for their recent bi-partisan work to jointly sponsor legislation to fortify the Freedom Of Information Act (FOIA) and their long history of working to make government information more accessible to the public.

Huge Lexicon of Official Secrecy & Transparency

Dr. Susan Maret - who gave The Memory Hole rare documents on chem-bio-rad warfare (which I'm still in the process of scanning and posting) - has recently finished her monumental encyclopedic dictionary of terms relating to official information as used in the past and present by the intelligence community, the military, the White House, federal agencies, etc. At over 300 pages, "On Their Own Terms: A Lexicon With an Emphasis on Information-Related Terms Produced by the US Federal Government" is a key addition to the literature of governmental secrecy.
With around 600 entries and (I would estimate) at least 1,000 references, this should be in the form of an expensive book from a specialized publisher, yet the whole thing is available as a free Acrobat file here.
Everyone should have a copy on their hard drive.

Cuban scientist barred from receiving U.S. prize

A Cuban scientist who helped develop a low-cost synthetic vaccine that prevents meningitis and pneumonia in small children says he was offended the U.S. government denied his request to travel to the United States to receive an award.
...Verez-Bencomo said the State Department denied him a visa because the visit would be "detrimental to the interests of the United States."

Project for the Old American Century

Booming oil firms see tax rates fall

Of the 87 publicly traded oil companies with a market capitalization of more than $1 billion, the effective tax rates of 21 companies fell in the most recent quarter compared with average rates paid over the trailing 12 months, Reuters data show.
Royal Dutch Shell PLC's tax rate fell to 37% in the third quarter from 41%, BP PLC's declined to about 27% from more than 30% and Burlington Resources Inc.'s dropped to about 33% from 37%. The rates were derived by dividing the amount of income tax paid by taxable income.

Former CPB Head Reportedly Broke Rules, Ethics Code

The former chairman of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting repeatedly violated the organization's contracting rules and code of ethics in his efforts to promote conservatives in the system, according to an internal investigation released today.
The 42-page report — the culmination of a six-month investigation by Kenneth A. Konz, the corporation's inspector general — described former Chairman Kenneth Y. Tomlinson as a rogue politico who overstepped the boundaries of his position to right what he viewed as a liberal tilt in public broadcasting.

Investigators allege Kerik took money from mob-linked contractors

New Jersey officials Tuesday alleged that Bernard Kerik, the former New York City police commissioner, took money or "things of value" from two reputedly mob-linked contractors attempting to influence his actions as a public official.

Sheehan to resume Crawford protest

The anti-war mother who lost her son, Casey, in Iraq, will hold a vigil for five days, starting on Nov. 22 and ending Nov. 27. On Sheehan's last visit, President Bush declined to meet with her. She now hopes to meet Bush for Thanksgiving.
Sheehan will be joined by a handful of supporters back at the campsite where she spent 26 days in August during President Bush's vacation nearby. The protest is sponsored by Gold Star Families for Peace and Crawford Peace House. The group's roster includes organization of Katrina relief efforts.

GOP senator hits Bush for attacking war critics; Hints Congress endorsing another Vietnam by staying silent

"The Iraq war should not be debated in the United States on a partisan political platform," the Nebraska senator remarked. "This debases our country, trivializes the seriousness of war and cheapens the service and sacrifices of our men and women in uniform. War is not a Republican or Democrat issue. The casualties of war are from both parties. The Bush Administration must understand that each American has a right to question our policies in Iraq and should not be demonized for disagreeing with them. Suggesting that to challenge or criticize policy is undermining and hurting our troops is not democracy nor what this country has stood for, for over 200 years. The Democrats have an obligation to challenge in a serious and responsible manner, offering solutions and alternatives to the Administration’s policies."

The Fog of War: White Phosphorus, Fallujah and Some Burning Questions

The debate was reignited last week when an Italian documentary claimed Iraqi civilians - including women and children - had been killed by terrible burns caused by WP. The documentary, Fallujah: the Hidden Massacre, by the state broadcaster RAI, cited one Fallujah human-rights campaigner who reported how residents told how "a rain of fire fell on the city". Yesterday, demonstrators organised by the Italian communist newspaper, Liberazione, protested outside the US Embassy in Rome. Today, another protest is planned for the US Consulate in Milan. "The 'war on terrorism' is terrorism," one of the newspaper's commentators declared.
The claims contained in the RAI documentary have met with a strident official response from the US, as well as from right-wing commentators and bloggers who have questioned the film's evidence and sought to undermine its central allegations.
While military experts have supported some of these criticisms, an examination by The Independent of the available evidence suggests the following: that WP shells were fired at insurgents, that reports from the battleground suggest troops firing these WP shells did not always know who they were hitting and that there remain widespread reports of civilians suffering extensive burn injuries. While US commanders insist they always strive to avoid civilian casualties, the story of the battle of Fallujah highlights the intrinsic difficulty of such an endeavour.

FDA Planned to Reject Plan B Early

Senior Food and Drug Administration officials were told that the application to sell the "morning-after pill" without prescription was going to be rejected before the staff completed its scientific review and months before the decision was made public, government investigators reported yesterday.
A report by the independent Government Accountability Office also said senior FDA officials, including then-Commissioner Mark B. McClellan, were actively involved in the politically sensitive decision -- one of four aspects of the agency's actions that the investigators called "unusual."

Iraqis Say Lions Used in Torture

Two Iraqi businessmen who were arrested in Iraq in July 2003 but never charged with crimes say U.S. troops put them in a cage with lions, pretended that they were going to be executed and humiliated them during interrogations at multiple detention facilities.
"They took me behind the cage, they were screaming at me, scaring me and beating me a lot," Thahe Mohammed Sabbar said in an interview. "One of the soldiers would open the door, and two soldiers would push me in. The lions came running toward me and they pulled me out and shut the door. I completely lost consciousness."
Sabbar, 37, and Sherzad Khalid, 35, said they were beaten at U.S. facilities such as Camp Bucca and the Abu Ghraib prison. They said the abuse occurred when they were unable to tell U.S. troops where Saddam Hussein was hiding.

Revealed: UK wartime torture camp

The British government operated a secret torture centre during the second world war to extract information and confessions from German prisoners, according to official papers which have been unearthed by the Guardian.
More than 3,000 prisoners passed through the centre, where many were systematically beaten, deprived of sleep, forced to stand still for more than 24 hours at a time and threatened with execution or unnecessary surgery.
Some are also alleged to have been starved and subjected to extremes of temperature in specially built showers, while others later complained that they had been threatened with electric shock torture or menaced by interrogators brandishing red-hot pokers.

1,100 Lawyers Leave Saddam Defense Team

In a statement obtained Sunday, the lawyers did not say whether Saddam's chief Iraqi attorney, Khalil al-Dulaimi, was among those who withdrew. But the statement said other members of the team in Baghdad were continuing their duties "under complex and dangerous circumstances."

U.S. Eyes Paraguay for Military Base

Ex-Ambassador to Italy Ran Cult-Like Teen Rehab Clinic

Civil Rights Lawyers Marginalized at Justice Department

Nearly 20 percent of the division's lawyers left in fiscal 2005, in part because of a buyout program that some lawyers believe was aimed at pushing out those who did not share the administration's conservative views on civil rights laws. Longtime litigators complain that political appointees have cut them out of hiring and major policy decisions, including approvals of controversial GOP redistricting plans in Mississippi and Texas.
At the same time, prosecutions for the kinds of racial and gender discrimination crimes traditionally handled by the division have declined 40 percent over the past five years, according to department statistics. Dozens of lawyers find themselves handling appeals of deportation orders and other immigration matters instead of civil rights cases.

52-year-old Army veteran called back to active duty

Gary Olson is a 52-year-old grandfather, a retired U.S. Army veteran - and soon to be a soldier again, thanks to the need for troops in Iraq.
Olson was ordered to report for duty Dec. 4 in Fort Jackson, S.C.
"They're just looking for bodies to fill in. I have been out cold turkey for 13 years," Olson said. "My philosophy is this: I'm going to prepare for the worst and hope for the best. If I have to go, I have to go."
Sally Olson, his wife of 33 years, said Friday she was shocked by the orders and figured the chances of it happening were "slim to none" when he took early retirement more than a decade ago.

Bush Becoming Increasingly Isolated

[S]ources close to the White House say that Mr. Bush has become isolated and feels betrayed by key officials in the wake of plunging domestic support, the continued insurgency in Iraq and the CIA-leak investigation that has resulted in the indictment and resignation of Lewis "Scooter" Libby, Vice President Dick Cheney’s former chief of staff.
The sources said Mr. Bush maintains daily contact with only four people: first lady Laura Bush, his mother, Barbara Bush, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Undersecretary of State Karen Hughes. The sources also say that Mr. Bush has stopped talking with his father, except on family occasions.
For the president, what triggered the break with his father was the interview given to the New Yorker magazine in October by Brent Scowcroft, who served as national security advisor in the first Bush presidency. In the interview, Mr. Scowcroft criticized the administration's handling of Iraq. The sources said the president is convinced that Mr. Scowcroft consulted with Mr. Bush's father prior to delivering the devastating critique of the president's Iraq policy.

'I treated people who had their skin melted'

Abu Sabah knew he had witnessed something unusual. Sitting in November last year in a refugee camp in the grounds of Baghdad University, set up for the families who fled or were driven from Fallujah, this resident of the city's Jolan district told me how he had witnessed some of the battle's heaviest fighting.
"They used these weird bombs that put up smoke like a mushroom cloud," he said. He had seen "pieces of these bombs explode into large fires that continued to burn on the skin even after people dumped water on the burns".
As an unembedded journalist, I spent hours talking to residents forced out of the city. A doctor from Fallujah working in Saqlawiyah, on the outskirts of Fallujah, described treating victims during the siege "who had their skin melted".

More than 13,000 being held by coalition in Iraqi prisons; Less than 2% have been convicted

Recent documents leaked to RAW STORY reveal that as of Nov. 8, coalition forces in Iraq held 13,514 in Iraqi prisons. The documents also reveal the grim landscape of Iraq’s internment system, in which just two percent of those detained been convicted. A UN report has confirmed the basic figures.
A slide created by Detainee Operations at US Central Command (CENTCOM), provided to RAW STORY, reveals that 13,514 detainees are currently held inside coalition-run internment camps throughout Iraq. The figure represents a huge spike from March 2004 – when just 5,673 were reported held, according to a source familiar with the documents.

Kansas Redefines Meaning of "Science"

The changes in the official state definition are subtle and lawyerly, and involve mainly the removal of two words: "natural explanations." But they are a red flag to scientists, who say the changes obliterate the distinction between the natural and the supernatural that goes back to Galileo and the foundations of science.
The old definition reads in part, "Science is the human activity of seeking natural explanations for what we observe in the world around us." The new one calls science "a systematic method of continuing investigation that uses observation, hypothesis testing, measurement, experimentation, logical argument and theory building to lead to more adequate explanations of natural phenomena."
Adrian Melott, a physics professor at the University of Kansas who has long been fighting Darwin's opponents, said, "The only reason to take out 'natural explanations' is if you want to open the door to supernatural explanations."

Monday, November 14, 2005

Ice Slurry in Blood Could Aid Patients

A promising new approach to saving stroke and cardiac arrest victims is also being investigated as a technique to improve laparoscopic surgery. Researchers at Argonne National Laboratory and the University of Chicago have developed a specially engineered ice slurry that cools organs, allowing doctors more time to treat patients.
The core idea is to rapidly cool the blood of targeted organs with a highly fluid mixture of small, smooth ice particles suspended in saline solution. For sudden stroke or heart attack, rapid blood cooling could delay the death of heart and brain cells, giving doctors and paramedics more time to revive victims.
Ice slurry technology could also give surgeons more time to perform minimally invasive laparoscopic surgery, which frequently requires temporarily stopping blood flow to small organs, such as kidneys or the liver. Cooling these organs before stopping their blood supply would give surgeons more time to operate before organ cells began to die from lack of oxygen.

Rediscovered testimony given by CIA director in 2001 suggests manipulation of pre-war intelligence

Tenet told Congress in February 2001 that Iraq was “probably” pursuing chemical and biological weapons programs but that the CIA had no direct evidence that Iraq had actually obtained such weapons. However, such caveats as “may” and “probably” were removed from intelligence reports by key members of the Bush administration immediately after 9/11 when discussing Iraq.
“We do not have any direct evidence that Iraq has used the period since (Operation) Desert Fox to reconstitute its WMD programs,” Tenet said in an agency report to Congress Feb. 7, 2001. “Moreover, the automated video monitoring systems installed by the UN at known and suspect WMD facilities in Iraq are still not operating… Having lost this on-the-ground access, it is more difficult for the UN or the U.S. to accurately assess the current state of Iraq’s WMD programs.”
In fact, more than two dozen pieces of testimony and interviews of top officials in the Bush administration, including those given by former Secretary of State Colin Powell, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz prior to 9-11, show that the U.S. never believed Saddam Hussein was an imminent threat to anyone other than his own people.

CIA allegedly hid evidence of detainee torture - report

CIA interrogators apparently tried to cover up the death of an Iraqi 'ghost detainee' who died while being interrogated at Abu Ghraib prison, Time magazine reported today, after obtaining hundreds of pages of documents, including an autopsy report, about the case.
The death of secret detainee Manadel al-Jamadi was ruled a homicide in a Defense Department autopsy, Time reported, adding that documents it recently obtained included photographs of his battered body, which had been kept on ice to keep it from decomposing, apparently to conceal the circumstances of his death.
The details about his death emerge as US officials continue to debate congressional legislation to ban torture of foreign detainees by US troops overseas, and efforts by the George W. Bush administration to obtain an exemption for the CIA from any future torture ban.

New Computer Speed Record Triples the Stakes

The BlueGene/L System ranks number one on the latest world rankings, a list of the 500 fastest supercomputers known as the Top500. It has come top of the last two lists but remains a work in progress – it is made from modular units that can be easily added to its increase raw processing power. Since the last list in June 2005, BlueGene/L has more than doubled in size. It now has more than 130,000 individual processors.
The behemoth has now reached a peak speed of 280.6 teraflops (1 teraflop is one trillion calculations in 1 second). This is more than three times faster than its closest rival, another IBM-built machine called Watson Blue Gene. The latter is installed at the company's research centre in New York, US, and has been clocked at 91 teraflops.

Opinion: MIT Study on Tinfoil Hats is New World Order Propaganda

A recent MIT study [1] calls into question the effectiveness of Aluminum Foil Deflector Beanies. However, there are serious flaws in this study, not the least of which is a complete mischaracterization of the process of psychotronic mind control. I theorize that the study is, in fact, NWO propaganda designed to spread FUD against deflector beanie technology, and aluminum shielding in general, in order to disembeanie paranoids, leaving them open to mind control.
First and foremost, Rahimi et al. only considered simple radio frequencies. As I explained in detail in chapter 4 ("Psychotronic and AFDB Theory") of my book [2], only psychotronic energy can affect the brain in any coherent manner. Simple EM fields have only trivial effects -- such as causing indistinct sensations of a supernatural presence [3] -- over short distances. Only by converting electromagnetic energy into psychotronic energy using a psychotron-based device can the forces of mind control access from afar the neural network of a brain to both implant and extract thought complexes.

Narrowing the Digital Divide

A U.N. summit in Tunisia will look at ways to extend technology to the world's poor. An African initiative to use high-speed internet to treat AIDS inspires those trying to figure out how to bridge the gap.

Follow-Up: Lake Storsjon Monster Loses Endangered Species Protection

A NESSIE-like mythical monster, believed by some to have lived for hundreds of years in the murky depths of a Swedish lake, is now fair game for hunters - if they can find it - after authorities agreed to lift its endangered-species protection.
Hundreds of people claim to have spotted a large serpent-like creature in Lake Storsjon in the north-western province of Jamtland, and in 1986 the regional council put it on a list of endangered animals.
But a government watchdog challenged the decision, saying such protection was hardly necessary for a creature whose existence has not been proven.

Wired: Boycott Sony

On Friday, the world's second-biggest record label pledged to temporarily stop making CDs that leave computers vulnerable to security breaches. This is a step in the right direction, but it does not go nearly far enough toward correcting a serious ethical lapse. In fact, it is proof positive that Sony is unworthy of our trust or our business.
...Sony agreed to suspend production of the CDs after computer security experts warned weeks ago that the copy-protection software, dubbed "XCP," could leave Sony customers vulnerable to hackers intent on taking over target PCs. This is possible because the software, made by a U.K. company called First 4 Internet, contains a "rootkit" that hides files related to the antipiracy program so would-be pirates can't disable it. The problem: Once installed, it can hide any file, regardless of who puts it there.

Senate bill calls for secretive new bioterrorism research center

The measure, said to be a priority of Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn., would shift the main responsibility for developing bioterrorism countermeasures out of the Department of Homeland Security and into the Biological Advanced Research and Development Agency in the Department of Health and Human Services.
The agency would be given a first-year budget of $1 billion and some unusually strong powers:
* Authority to shield drug manufacturers from liability lawsuits if a drug used to counteract a bioterrorism event or disease outbreak caused death or injury.
* Exemption from the federal open records law, the Freedom of Information Act.
The legislation creating the agency was introduced by Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C., on Oct. 17 and approved the next day by the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee. Frist is one of five Republican co-sponsors.

Documents Reveal Alito Denies Constitutionality of Abortion Rights

Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito boasted about his work arguing that "the Constitution does not protect a right to an abortion" while trying to get a job in the Reagan administration as a deputy assistant attorney general, according to documents released Monday.
Alito, a federal appellate judge nominated by President Bush to the nation's highest court, was a young lawyer working for the solicitor general's office in 1985 when he applied for a position under Attorney General Edwin Meese.

The End of News?

From the New York Review of Books. Michael Massing, a contributing editor of the Columbia Journalism Review, discusses the decline of the mainstream media and the ideal of objectivity: Accuracy in Media (1969), the Center for Media and Public Affairs (1985), the abolition of the Fairness Doctrine (1987), Rush Limbaugh (1988), Fox News (1996), weblogs, cost-cutting at newspapers. Of course, the newspaper business has always been a difficult one, as Walter Lippmann noted in his book Public Opinion (1921):
This insistent and ancient belief that truth is not earned, but inspired, revealed, supplied gratis, comes out very plainly in our economic prejudices as readers of newspapers. We expect the newspaper to serve us with truth however unprofitable the truth may be. For this difficult and often dangerous service, which we recognize as fundamental, we expected to pay until recently the smallest coin turned out by the mint. We have accustomed ourselves now to paying two and even three cents on weekdays, and on Sundays, for an illustrated encyclopedia and vaudeville entertainment attached, we have screwed ourselves up to paying a nickel or even a dime.
Nobody thinks for a moment that he ought to pay for his newspaper. He expects the fountains of truth to bubble, but he enters into no contract, legal or moral, involving any risk, cost or trouble to himself. He will pay a nominal price when it suits him, will stop paying whenever it suits him, will turn to another paper when! that suits him. Somebody has said quite aptly that the newspaper editor has to be re-elected every day.
This casual and one-sided relationship between readers and press is an anomaly of our civilization. There is nothing else quite like it, and it is, therefore, hard to compare the press with any other business or institution. It is not a business pure and simple, partly because the product is regularly sold below cost, but chiefly because the community applies one ethical measure to the press and another to trade or manufacture.

Adel is innocent

I don't mean he claims to be. I mean the military says so. It held a secret tribunal and ruled that he is not al Qaeda, not Taliban, not a terrorist. The whole thing was a mistake: The Pentagon paid $5,000 to a bounty hunter, and it got taken.
The military people reached this conclusion, and they wrote it down on a memo, and then they classified the memo and Adel went from the hearing room back to his prison cell. He is a prisoner today, eight months later. And these facts would still be a secret but for one thing: habeas corpus.
Only habeas corpus got Adel a chance to tell a federal judge what had happened. Only habeas corpus revealed that it wasn't just Adel who was innocent -- it was Abu Bakker and Ahmet and Ayoub and Zakerjain and Sadiq -- all Guantanamo "terrorists" whom the military has found innocent.

Albert Brooks: The Times They Are A-Changin'

Recently I have been embarrassed to be part of this generation. The reason? Madison Avenue. Madison Avenue is never wrong. They're the neighbor across the street that sees you in the way you don't see yourself. They're young, they're cocky, and what they say about the older generation becomes the truth. People still think there was a real Mr. Whipple, so I know whatever Madison Avenue says about us is what everyone's going to believe anyway.
According to them, we started out changing the world, and now we're most concerned about our retirement plan. And just to rub it in, they're using the greatest songs from our generation and combining them with images of people with gray hair having fun, enjoying life, buying products and running in slow motion. They are taking the very things we were born to change and are now shoving them down our throats, with our own music as the lubricant. [thanks, Leo]

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Everything I Know-Buckminster Fuller

During the last two weeks of January 1975 Buckminster Fuller gave an extraordinary series of lectures concerning his entire life’s work. These thinking out loud lectures span 42 hours (audio and text available) and examine in depth all of Fuller's major inventions and discoveries from the 1927 Dymaxion house, car and bathroom, through the Wichita House, geodesic domes, and tensegrity structures, as well as the contents of Synergetics. [from]

John Edwards: I was wrong

It was a mistake to vote for this war in 2002. I take responsibility for that mistake. It has been hard to say these words because those who didn't make a mistake -- the men and women of our armed forces and their families -- have performed heroically and paid a dear price.
The world desperately needs moral leadership from America, and the foundation for moral leadership is telling the truth.
While we can't change the past, we need to accept responsibility, because a key part of restoring America's moral leadership is acknowledging when we've made mistakes or been proven wrong -- and showing that we have the creativity and guts to make it right.

Carter: 'What has happened to the United States of America?'

"Everywhere you go, you hear, 'What has happened to the United States of America? We thought you used to be the champion of human rights. We thought you used to protect the environment. We thought you used to believe in the separation of church and state,'" the Nobel Peace Prize winner said Friday at Unity Temple. "That's not the case anymore."
Carter is promoting "Our Endangered Values: America's Moral Crisis." It is his 20th book, but Carter says it's his first political one.
"I felt so disturbed and angry about this radical change in America that I have always loved and still love," he said.
Referring to his latest book's title, Carter said the Bush administration is responsible for the country's moral crisis. He railed Bushs pre-emptive war policy; the erosion of the church-state separation; a ballooning budget deficit; inadequate attention to the environment; and the use of torture against some prisoners.