January 1, 2005

Some New Year Links

  • Not Going Away -- The voter suppression issue is now surfacing in some of the high profile media. Newsweek published an interview with Jesse Jackson saying that the Ohio vote was skewed far enough to swing the election from Kerry to Bush. To even have this thesis mentioned in a major corporate media outlet in the U.S. is a major change. Even though the article starts with a blanket negation (saying conspiracy theories about election fraud aren't going away), it still gives a platform to Jesse Jackson, a high-profile public figure, to state the case alleging voter fraud enough to swing the election. Meanwhile, Fox News has Jackson as its major target for character assassination.
  • Bush Bad for Business -- More evidence in market research showing that the Bush piracy is hurting US businesses. "The Bush administration's foreign policy may be costing U.S. corporations business overseas--according to a new survey of 8,000 international consumers released this week by the Seattle-based Global Market Insite (GMI) Inc. Brands closely identified with the U.S., such as Marlboro cigarettes, America Online (AOL), McDonald's, American Airlines, and Exxon-Mobil are particularly at risk. GMI, an independent market research company, conducted the survey in eight countries December 10-12 with consumers over the internet." Yahoo
  • Hate on the Rise -- "While favorable attitudes towards 'Arabs' are now up to 55% (an increase of 10 points in two years), this must be balanced against a significant increase in negative attitudes towards Muslims. In just the past few years these unfavorable attitudes have doubled to include more than two in five Americans. Maybe more disturbing is the fact that when asked if they wanted to learn more about Arabs or Muslims, more than half indicated no interest in learning more about Muslims. This contrasts with two-thirds who indicated a desire to learn more only two years ago." Truthout.org
  • "Iraq, above all, is our prison, the place where America has taken its own self hostage. Thousands and thousands of men, women, and children who meant us no harm are now dead because of our striking out so blindly. And many more are living on the edge of disaster. But we Americans, too, are victims of our mistake." Boston Globe
  • "Who is fighting for whom in Iraq? "A tiger killed a fawn and began munching on it, according to a popular Bangladeshi folk tale. A hungry bear jumped on the tiger to snatch the carcass away. The two fought until both lay mortally wounded, unable to move. A fox, which was watching the fight from a bush, scampered to the dead fawn and feasted to its heart's content." Sign On San Diego
  • Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed from The New Yorker via Truthout
  • We're All Mad -- Jungian Analyst Paul Levy on "The Madness of George W. Bush: A Reflection of our Collective Psychosis." awakeninthedream.com

    A Letter to the NY Times:

    Dear Editor:

    I have been one who has been appalled by the Times' neglect of the developing story of a broad program of voter suppression and fraud in Ohio. I recently came upon a blog entry by Daniel Okrent saying "I could give you a list of excuses, but none of them is especially good..."

    Times Forums

    Actually he was referring to his neglect of his blog spot, but he might has well have been referring to the Times posture toward the vote suppression story. It seems that the Times is reluctant to connect the dots between the various kinds of strategies the Republicans used to stifle the voting process. It's as if the Times does not want to be the first, but wants to wait until it is completely safe to enter that controversy.

    I would remind you of the word "leadership." I believe a society needs people who are not afraid to be the first to say what many are thinking, but are afraid to be the first to utter. A democracy needs leadership from the Fourth Estate, as well as in the political arena. Maybe the Times does not want to be a leader, but only -- as "the paper of record" -- to report what is firmly established by others.

    In a rather tentative manner, Mr. Okrent writes, "And more, I expect, will be explored and explained in future articles if meaningful allegations can indeed be established as facts."

    Does the Times only report facts?

    I would remind you that the use of the word "allegation" is a time-proven technique for reporting events without giving credence to unproven charges. Why can't the Times be on the forefront of reporting on this issue as it unfolds? The Times does not ever have to risk making erroneous allegations. Following the basic principles of journalism will prevent that.

    I have seen a great deal of news coming out of Ohio, including searing testimony from people who worked within the private or public sectors of the voting apparatus, as well as important statements and actions by public officials like John Conyers and public figures like Jesse Jackson, and analyses of discrepancies in official results by credible experts. These events deserve attention now, not only after all the allegations are proven as "facts." How can the allegations even be tested if no one pays any attention?

    I am old enough to remember vividely the election of 1974, a few months after a certain "third-rate burglary" had taken place. Prior to the election, it was being largely ignored by the media and the population at large. As a result, a president was elected by what was called a "landslide," then driven from office in disgrace merely two years later. Those who uncovered that story are still riding on the reputations they gained from it. But how different history might have been if the major media had been more vigilant. The story had been reported, but few had any interest in looking beyond the official explanations of the White House. How much longer did the Vietnam War continue and how many more were killed because Nixon was returned to office?

    In the present case I am offended the statement by Okrent and others that "To my knowledge, no one in the Kerry campaign's vast on-the-ground operation, or in its armies of well-situated lawyers, has made the argument that what happened in Ohio (or Florida) could have changed the result of the election."

    It is an alarming commentary on the condition of American democracy when newsmen say that voter fraud is only an issue if it can be proven that it altered the course of a particular election. Is it not clear that any form of voter suppression is an issue of utmost urgency, and a grave threat to the future of democracy entirely on its own?

    After the Times' admissions of its failures to live up to its responsibilities during the campaign leading to the Iraq invasion, I would hope that the organization would be especially careful not to let the pattern continue. But I'm not encouraged by the coverage of the events in Ohio and elsewhere in election 2004.

    Here's hoping the Times will find a way to greater vigilance -- and vigor -- in the future.


    David Cogswell

    January 2, 2004

    And So This is New Year's

    New Year's Day in metropolitan New York was so warm and beautiful it was eerie for January 1. It was a splendid day, euphoria in the air, but there was a strange undertone to it, a foreboding feeling, as of something malevolent lurking just out of view.

    There was an odd moment like that just before the moment of calamity when the tsunami hit. An operator of tours to the Tsunami-afflicted parts of Asia told me that the water had pulled back from the shoreline, suddenly creating a much deeper beach. Some people went to get their cameras to photograph the freak phenomenon. Then came the 30-foot wall of water with all the force of the vast ocean delivering a massive shock wave, on a scale on which humans are less than dust particles.

    Summerlike days in winter are nice, but a little disturbing, given what we know about global warming. It's not just about the temperature going up a few degrees. It's about some chain reactions, some system breakdowns and some threshold phenomena that could make humans extinct very quickly. No joke.

    Sometimes it does seem that the earth is trying to shake us off. To the earth, which is an intelligent system, we are an antigen, a microbe that has gotten out of balance and is disrupting the equilibrium of the ecosystem. It may be time for the earth's immune system to go to work to shake off the infection.

    This year we got an extra day to reflect upon the meaning of all this. Most years, working people are back in the office on January 2. This year we got a one-day reprieve. Another year.

    The holidays are a good time to forget, to cast aside your worries and celebrate. Then after the New Year's parties are over, it's back to the real world. This year it is an especially tough threshold.

    After the so-called election of 2004, many Americans -- I'm convinced a majority of Americans -- felt kicked in the stomach. The widespread reporting on voter suppression of 100 varieties in the major swing states, along with polls that indicate that only a small minority supports most of the policies of the Bush administration, create a picture of an election in which the voice of the people was not heard, not transmuted into the law of the land. It's the breakdown of democracy.

    Unfortunately, the election of 2004 was an affirmation of the precedent of 2000, which established that the will of the people can be thwarted through a series of sleight of hand tricks by Big Brother -- who holds in his other hand a threat, constant and overwhelming.

    Increasingly these things are done openly, or with barely an attempt to hide them. The point is being made that even if you can catch us, you can't stop us. We are too powerful.

    But they are wrong.

    The world will change in 2005, it must change, it is already in change. Now that the hope of the election is dashed, those who hoped and worked will have to regroup, rechannel their energies. New ways will be found.

    The Neocons, who have proclaimed themselves the rulers of the world under a New World Order, have set themselves up against all the world like the town bully. The message of the regime to the world is: Go along with us or face overwhelming and brutal force.

    While a majority Americans are being ill-served by the Bush administration, the majority is much greater in the rest of the world. A vast majority of the world is clearly, unambiguously, passionately opposed to Bush. To many he is the bringer of hell, of death.

    Though the Bushies have stacked the deck in Washington, having gained control of all three branches of government. There are few avenues open to any public input. So the people of the world hang back, not daring to confront power head on. But in their collective will they oppose with many actions, gestures and thoughts sent forth. Each individual waits for its opportunity to strike a blow. When the beast weakens, its many enemies will try for their morsel of flesh.

    Now that there is nothing to stop the Bushies, they will bring themselves down. Already the arrogance of their overwhelming power has caused them to make huge blunders.

    Now that elections have been effectively neutralized as a way of expressing political power, the majority of the world turns to other means to oppose the monster. Somehow, through billions of individual actions by billions of people, the collective will of all those people will depose the destructive power.

    January 4, 2005

  • Who Needs Evidence? Now the Bush totalitarians are pushing to be able to imprison people for life without trials or due process. It's so difficult to imprison people when you have to have evidence that they committed a crime, the White House wants to do away with it all together. You can have a trial if George W. Bush says you can. Otherwise, you go to jail without any rights at all. According to the Washington Post, "The Pentagon and the CIA have asked the White House to decide on a more permanent approach for potentially lifetime detentions, including for hundreds of people now in military and CIA custody whom the government does not have enough evidence to charge in courts... 'Since global war on terror is a long-term effort, it makes sense for us to be looking at solutions for long-term problems,' said Bryan Whitman, a Pentagon spokesman. 'This has been evolutionary, but we are at a point in time where we have to say, "How do you deal with them in the long term?"' " Casting aside the history of the struggle for human rights. Relentlessly dragging the world back to the stone age.
  • Media Whites Out Vote Fraud by David Swanson. Part of the Media Blackout series on underreported labor stories. International Labor Communications Association
  • Full 51 state exit poll data released for first time -- confirms suspicions of vote tampering. According to exit polls, Kerry won both Ohio and Florida, 311 electoral votes, and the presidency. (Democratic Underground.) As Scoop writes: "In the data ... we can see that 42 of the 51 states in the union swung towards George Bush while only nine swung towards Kerry. There has to date been no official explanation for the discrepancy. Ordinarily in the absence of an obvious mistabulation error, roughly the same number of states should have swung towards each candidate."
  • The Vote Does Not Compute -- By the relentless Free Press
  • Economic Trouble Ahead -- Columbia economics professor and Nobel prize winner Joseph Stiglitz writes, "As one of my predecessors as chair of the Council of Economic Advisers, Herb Stein, famously put it: 'If something can't go on forever, it won't.' But no one knows how, or when, it will all end. Indeed, President Bush 's election promises include partial privatisation of social security and making his earlier tax cuts permanent, which, if adopted, will send the deficits soaring to record levels. What, exactly, this will do to business confidence and currency markets is anybody's guess, but it won't be pretty." The Guardian

    January 5, 2004

  • Bait and Switch -- Bush plan to cut Social Security benefits in half for young workers. What a great plan! If it cuts the benefits for the people paying in, who does it benefit? Seattle Pi
  • Descending into Chaos -- Governor of Baghdad assasinated. Five American troops were slain in three separate attacks. Bush will be the second U.S. president to lose a war. ABC
  • Bush's Death Trap -- Now there are more insurgents than American troops. 200,000 Bush's Iraq is a death trap for Americans and Iraqis. Turkish Press
  • Iraq: It's Over -- According to Robert Fisk: "The whole project in Iraq is finished. We are not being told by Mr. Blair in my case and Bush in yours that this is the case, and perhaps through their own misjudgment or their own fantasies, they don't even accept this themselves. But the American project for democracy or whatever its real purposes were, for oil, economic expansion, Middle East fit for Israel, whatever it may have been, that project is finished. It is hopeless. It cannot succeed. The insurgency in Iraq is so great now that American troops, however enormous their technology, cannot control it. The Iraqi so-called ministers, and I include Iyad Allawi, the so-called interim prime minister, who was of course appointed by the Americans as a former C.I.A. asset, they behave like statesmen when they tour the world or turn up in Washington, but in Baghdad they're not even safe inside their little Green Zone. They're not even the Mayor of Baghdad, they have less power than the town clerk. So, we have reached a stage now where insurgents control much of the country. The only safe part of Iraq is Kurdistan in the north, which is effectively an autonomous region, outside of the control anyway of the Iraqi government." Fisk came upon this quote from Lawrence of Arabia that is true again as it was nearly a century ago: "The people of England have been led in Mesopotamia into a trap from which it will be hard to escape with dignity and honour. They have been tricked into it by a steady withholding of information. The Baghdad communiques are belated, insincere, incomplete. Things have been far worse than we have been told, our administration more bloody and inefficient than the public knows... We are today not far from a disaster." T.E. Lawrence (of Arabia fame) in The Sunday Times, August, 1920. Democracy Now
  • Men of Courage and Wisdom --Military leaders sign letter opposing Gonzales. signers include Army General John Shalikashvili, former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the group includes retired Brigadier General James P. Cullen, who was chief judge of the U.S. Army's Court of Criminal Appeals. "In his Jan. 25, 2002, draft memo to Bush, Gonzales, 49, said the `new paradigm' of the war on terror `renders obsolete Geneva's strict limitations on questioning of enemy prisoners and renders quaint some of its provisions requiring that a captured enemy be afforded such things as commissary privileges' and other amenities of prisoner-of-war camps." "Rear Admiral John D. Hutson, former judge advocate general of the Navy now dean of the Franklin Pierce Law Center in Concord, New Hampshire, said Gonzales's legal analysis `was shortsighted' because `it didn't look over the horizon' to a time when U.S. forces will want to rely on the protections of the Geneva Conventions for its troops. `This isn't the last war we are going to fight,' Hutson said. `Once you say the Geneva Conventions are quaint and obsolete, you can't undo that.'" Bloomberg
  • White House won't release torture memos. Guardian
  • Shaky start for Bush 2 -- NY Daily News
  • Sign declaration against Torture -- NY Daily News
  • Sign petition against Torture -- MoveOn.org

    January 6, 2004

    REMINISCING -- She said, I remember the 20th Century, though it seems like ancient history, the good old days before the Nazis took over...

    We couldn't believe it was happening, right up until the end. We held to the belief that the intelligent people of the country would stop him.

    When does one decide to abandon one's country and a way of life that one loved? Hopefully before one is in a cell being tortured.

  • Old Time Graft -- Kenneth Blackwell, the Ohio Secretary of State and also the head of the Bush campaign in Ohio, bragged about "delivering the state for Bush" in a letter. Whatever happened to the concept of conflict of interest? Blue Lemur
  • A 6.2 Earthquake in Sumatra, Indonesia -- U.S. Geological Survey
  • An Obvious Truth -- It's the Media, Stupid! By Robert Parry Consortiumnews
  • BROKEN LIVES -- "The Pentagon says that more than 10,000 US military personnel have been wounded in Iraq since the conflict began in March 2003... more than 5,000 of the wounded have been unable to return to duty... Many have been left with serious injuries such as lost limbs and sight, mostly as a result of the blast effects of roadside bombs. More than 1,300 US troops have been killed. BBC
  • The Conyers Report: Preserving Democracy: What Went Wrong in Ohio A Status Report of the House Judiciary Committee Democratic Staff. truthout.org
  • Bush's Social Security Rip Off -- According to democrats.org, "If you retire in 2022, Bush will cut your benefits by almost 10 percent. If you retire in 2042, Bush will cut your benefits by more than 25 percent. In 2075, our children and grandchildren will face a staggering cut of 46 percent to their benefits. And this is just the first step of the Republican Party's plan to dismantle the entire Social Security system that has kept generations of America's seniors out of poverty. Soon Bush will launch a $40 million TV ad blitz to convince Americans that our grandkids will be left out in the cold if Social Security is not privatized."
  • Gonzales "refines" stand on torture -- So says the Atlanta Journal Constitution. "Attorney General nominee Alberto Gonzales, whose confirmation hearing begins today, will promise to abide by treaties prohibiting the torture of prisoners, despite having derided those restraints as relics in 2002." Promises promises. The U.S. government has already tortured many prisoners since the memos of Gonzales advising Bush of how to create a bogus legal justification for torture. The shame of it! In the United States! A country once known as freedom. No more. What good are his promises when it is happening right now?! He should be sent running down the road, out of Washington! Go back to wherever you came from! This man is going to be Attorney General of the United States? An advocate of torture? Is there any decency and/or courage of conviction left in the United States? Is this going to get by the American people?
  • E-mail to Senator Jon Corzine of New Jersey: "Dear Senator Corzine, I urge you to consider the implications of letting the many credible allegations of voter suppression and fraud in Ohio to go unanswered. Tomorrow is a chance to cast a vote for the search for truth about that most fundamental of issues in our democracy: the right to vote. Please stand up for the right to have fair and transparent elections. Thank you.
  • Stand for Truth About the Elections -- "It appeared all but certain in early evening Wednesday that House Democrats had secured the support of up to half a dozen Senators to formally challenge the Electoral College slate from Ohio, when the votes are opened before a joint session of Congress tomorrow." MSNBC
  • Rev. Bill Moss v. Bush -- Press Conference Wednesday: "Beyond Any Reasonable Doubt, Bush Did Not Win The Ohio or National Vote; Historic Presidential Challenge, Press Conference, National Press Club, Washington, D.C. Commondreams.org
  • Good Riddance Tucker Carlson -- CNN says goodbye to the Bow Tied Conservative Nurd. Ledger Enquirer
  • Fighting for Good -- Military men say they would rather be in Indonesia helping people than in Iraq "destroying things." They need a good cause. When they joined they had ideals. Yahoo
  • A Heavy Silver Spoon -- Bush sees himself as a man who has overcome disadvantages. Philadelphia Daily News.
  • The Crime of Novemer 2 -- "It's more than ironic that this unelected administration has portrayed itself as a defender of democracy in helping overturn an election in Ukraine based on discrepancies between exit polls and a fraudulent vote count. Doing the same here would deny George W. Bush the White House." Freepress.org
  • Any Senators Care about the Right to Vote? Michael Moore
  • I received an e-mail from the John Kerry organization saying:

    In a message dated 1/5/05 4:03:04 PM Eastern Standard Time, info@johnkerry.com writes:

    Tomorrow, members of Congress will meet to certify the results of the 2004 presidential election. I will not be taking part in a formal protest of the Ohio Electors.

    Despite widespread reports of irregularities, questionable practices by some election officials and instances of lawful voters being denied the right to vote, our legal teams on the ground have found no evidence that would change the outcome of the election.

    There was more, plenty more, but I had read enough. I sent a reply. Though no one there is likely to read it, I'll share it with you, my one friend:

    I don't really need e-mails like this, Senator Kerry. If you won't stand up for the right for Americans to have clear and fair elections, I don't think I'm interested in what you have to say. "Election Reform", that's what they did after the election of 2000. Lot of good it did. Maybe you don't see a threat. Maybe there is no threat to Millionaires. But for the rest of us, the right to vote is important, whether or not you think it will change the election result. You are a huge disappointment. Americans put their faith in you, and you are lying down and letting the Republicans hijack our country and undermine our democratic system.

    January 7, 2005

    Torturer General -- This country's so-called elected officials are a disgrace. The thought that the United States of America's highest officials are debating torture is a tragic commentary on the de-evolution of America. To think of what this country once aspired to and now to have these thugs -- these gangsters debating torture in those halls --!

    These days you read the news to understand Orwell. If you would like a textbook case of tyrant doublespeak, check out AOL News on the Gonzales confirmation hearings.

    For this guy to be considered for any high office is a disgrace -- by the way. The guy who wrote Bush's torture policy, an American who advocates -- who believes -- in torture -- . Are there men who love torture? We are witnessing now men who appear to be passionately devoted to torture, considering that they have already earned the world's revulsion by the fact of those memos alongside of the fact of the horror of Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo. But rather than hightailing it in shame, or even showing some remorse -- a brief flagging of arrogance perhaps -- they boldly proclaim the rightness (wrongness) of their doublespeak cause.

    Here's Gonzales talking to the senators (incidentally the most spineless pack of whores you will find gathered in plain daylight): "Torture and abuse will not be tolerated by this administration. I will ensure the Department of Justice aggressively pursues those responsible for such abhorrent actions." Rings hollow, but that's the best they do. Then, according to AOL's report: "Gonzales promised that as attorney general he would abide by the 1949 Geneva treaty but also said the White House was looking at the possibility of seeking revisions."

    He will but he won't -- literally. Then his elaboration, another self-contradicting sentence, this time Gonzales' own words: "Now I'm not suggesting that the principles, the basic treatment of human beings, should be revisited. But there has been some very preliminary discussion: Is this something that we ought to look at?"

    Is this something we ought to ... look at? According to his own words, what should be "revisited" are the "principles, the basic treatment of human beings". It's not too mysterious where that leads.

    Do Americans care that their country is changing so deeply in character, so that it no longer represents freedom, justice, opportunity, equality... as it used to. Surely it was always imperfect in that regard, but there was an aspiration shared by all people who participated in the political life of the country, at least some gesture of respect to those principles. They were always seen as the characteristics of the most highly evolved societies. Free societies, prosperous, advanced, humane societies were seen to be the leaders to whom the rest of the world looked for direction.

    America, by its revolution against monarchy and its establishment of a democratic republic, was seen as a leader in that progression. It was seen as the model for the world. The attempt by generations subsequent to the founders to maintain and evolve the fundamental principles stated in the Declaration of Independence, and the US role in World War II and its aftermath, has helped to keep America's prestige as a world leader intact. Now our so-called leaders don't even put up a good front to give the impression they have any humane instincts.

    Gonzales should be EMBARRASSED TO SHOW HIS FACE after those torture memos leaked into broad daylight! But instead the Bushistas stand their ground and the wimpocrats sit dully and let the thugs take our civil rights away.

    There are a couple of people in congress with some guts, however. Senator Barbara Boxer became a profile in courage today when she stood up as the only U.S. senator to challenge the acceptance of the result of an election process about which many well-supported allegations have been made of manipulation -- cheating. ("Democrats force debate on election 'mishaps'" (ABC) MISHAPS!? They cheated. Almost everyone knows it. The Republicans don't want to challenge it because it works in their favor -- overwhelmingly. They did it. And the so-called Democrats are all too cowardly to confront power. The power in Washington. Sure it's cheating, the Bush administration says by implication. But we did it, we can do it, you can't stop us. We don't even have to hide it. We will rub it in your faces and there will be nothing you can do. The Democrats are pathetic.

    The book Profiles In Courage told stories of senators who put everything on the line to stand up for principle. Too bad its author was slaughtered on a Texas highway and can't write any more chapters.

    The rights of Americans to have every allegation looked into and have the integrity of the election proven is a principle worth putting everything on the line for. What good is it to be a senator in a country that doesn't have real elections? Are they just happy to get in on the ground floor of the new dictatorship?

    The wimpocrats are, typically, afraid they might look like sore losers if they acknowledge that there is evidence of widespread criminal activity in relation to the Ohio election. Oh -- and the tampering and suppression just happens to favor George Bush in almost 100% of the cases. We're so sorry to bother you with this, Your Excellency, but it appears that you -- uh, rigged the election... not that it matters really ... Sir.

    Only one of those worms had the guts to stand up and ask the question, what was all that about? What were all those university professors talking about? What were the stories about the technician who came in and changed parts in the voting machine and put up a cheat sheet so the counters could just read that instead of really doing the mandated recount? What is wrong with asking? What's wrong with finding out the truth? Why are they all afraid to stand up for that right?

  • NY Senator Chuck Schumer was one of the Democrats trying to shush any inquiry into allegations of voter fraud. According to newsday.com, he said, "My view is that you don't hold up the election unless there is concrete real evidence of fraud. I haven't seen that."

    There's plenty of "concrete real evidence" Chuck. I had to send him an angry e-mail, not that anyone will read it: "Dear Senator Schumer: I was saddened by your comments discouraging looking into vote fraud allegations in Ohio. This is not about protesting Bush's election, it's about voter fraud, evidence of which is rampant. I do not know of a more important and fundamental issue than the right for Americans to vote and have their votes counted. We are talking about crime, a very serious crime against the foundations of our democratic republic. I hope you will think better of this in the future."

  • Then I wrote an e-mail to the one senator with guts, Barbara Boxer. "Dear Senator, I write not as a Californian, but as an American. Your stand in Congress, to investigate charges of vote fraud and suppression is one for 'Profiles In Courage.' It's good to see that some people in congress still have the guts to stand up for what is right in spite of the confidence. Forcing this issue into the open is a historic event, and very important for the future of our democratic system. I take my hat off to you for your courage. Thank you for your service to America."

    WalMart: No More Mr Nice Guy -- An amazing story: WalMart gets heavy with a man who took a picture in the area around the store. Hagerstown Herald-Mail. It started with a disoriented, nude man walking around, and a freelance photographer snapping some pictures. "As shoppers gawked and made cell phone calls, Roy stopped and took pictures from his car as the man approached Wal-Mart. Roy said he's a freelance photographer and keeps a camera in his car. Then, he drove past the man, parked his car, got out and took more pictures as the man passed Wal-Mart... Roy said a store official told him not to take pictures or publish them without getting permission. Then, a man in a suit who identified himself as a store security official ordered him to surrender his camera, Roy said. Roy said he refused, so the man demanded the film in his camera, unaware that it was a digital camera. Again, Roy refused. He locked the camera in his car. 'He said if I didn't turn the camera over to him, he would have me arrested' and ban him from the store, Roy said."

  • According to Michel Chossudovsky "The US Military and the State Department were given advanced warning. America's Navy base on the island of Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean was notified. Why were fishermen in India, Sri Lanka and Thailand not provided with the same warnings as the US Navy and the US State Department? ... With a modern communications system, why did the information not get out? By email, telephone, fax, satellite TV... ?"

    January 8, 2004

  • Together, we moved three mountains --" On January 6, we forced an angry Republican-dominated Congress into an unprecedented confrontation with the Truth about Ohio's stolen election, about dubious vote counts nationwide, and ultimately about an electoral process worthy of zero public trust. America's progressive grassroots further showed it could prompt the 'democratic wing' of the Democratic Party to finally stand up for its constituents' right to vote, even in the face of the usual withering slander from Karl Rove's dirty tricksters. And those of us who work the Internet showed we could spark a mass movement by exposing a national travesty despite relentless abuse from the mainstream media, which did absolutely nothing to uncover the systematic corruption of our electoral process." Free Press.
  • We have met the enemy and it is US (corporate media) -- Gary Webb, who was recently reported to have shot himself in the head -- twice -- was castigated and slandered by the major US corporate media outlets including the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times and the Washington Post for unearthing stories about the Nicaraguan Contras (the CIA-trained, Reagan administration-sponsored terrorists that Reagan called the "moral equivalent of our Founding Fathers") smuggling cocaine into the US. The stories were later acknowledged on the highest levels to be true, but Webb's career with the In Crowd media was never redeemed. "Not only had the CIA, in fact, knowingly worked with suspected drug dealers who were 'supporting the contra program,' but then it had sought, and received, 'legal' cover from the U.S. Justice Department from having to report to it, or to Congress—or to anyone, for that matter—such information." Read all about it in Online Journal.
  • On the Phony Election -- "It is possible to imagine an enlightened leadership in this time working to protect biodiversity and biophysical stability; working to effect a human economic design that values human and other life, and working to move the world toward a community of responsibility. The Bush government directly contradicts every one of these essential values and is endangering the very existence of life on this planet in the name of an anachronistic Imperial mindset and immediate political/economic advantage... The present U.S. administration rejects science, reason and reality in favor of their own political, religious and power related values and understandings. And so a vote of the people can be seen by them as justifying their actions even as those actions contribute to the destruction of our world. So no, we will not line up behind our newly 'elected' administration. No, we will not forget the lies, will not forgive the deceptions and callous indifference to life, to biology, to reality. We will not forget wars fought by our children with our treasure for the power and wealth of others. And we will not stop pressing for the Liberal ideals that have made this country worth fighting for in the first place." James Keye in Online Journal.
  • Worse the Fiction -- Paul Krugman: "In my bad novel the president, who portrays himself as the defender of good against evil, will preside over the widespread use of torture... In my bad novel the administration will use the slogan 'support the troops' to suppress criticism of its war policy. But it will ignore repeated complaints that the troops lack armor... In my bad novel, the president will choose as head of homeland security a 'good man' who turns out to have been the subject of an arrest warrant, who turned an apartment set aside for rescue workers into his personal love nest and who stalked at least one of his ex-lovers." NY Times
  • Torture and the Bush team -- "Sometime in August 2004, the Office of the Legal Counsel of the US Department of Justice issued a memorandum addressed to White House Counsel Alberto Gonzales. The memo contained an analysis of the kind of torture that may or may not be allowed. Since it was addressed to Gonzales, presumably it was in response to a query from Gonzales himself and ultimately from his boss. The memo now hangs over the head of Gonzales as he faces the Senate committee conducting hearings on whether Gonzales should be confirmed as Attorney General. The implication some have drawn from these circumstances is that should Gonzales be confirmed, it would amount to a legitimization of a torture mentality as America continues to deal with detainees held in Afghanistan, Guantánamo Bay, Iraq and elsewhere." ABS-CBN News
  • Torture Policy Came from the Top -- "It was supposed to be just a few bad apples and largely limited to Iraq but a spate of new internal memos from the FBI has provided fresh accusations that the abuse of US prisoners in the 'war on terror' has been systematic and sanctioned. The memos also suggest the harsh techniques - 'tantamount to torture', according to the International Committee for the Red Cross - were often used at Guantanamo Bay..." The Australian. Here is the ultimate Coincidence Theory. The torture memos were forged on top in the White House, Alberto Gonzales reporting to Bush on how far they could go to bend or disregard the Geneva Conventions. The torture is carried out in Guantanamo and Iraq. And what? There is no connection? The policy discussions in the White House just happened to coincide with the sudden flowering of a torture mentality in the field? The Coincidence Theorists, those who raise the red flag of "Conspiracy Theory" to push away any unpleasant possibilities they would hate to think are really happening, are just hiding in a fantasy land. To them, anything that falls beyond the white-picket-fence world they imagine, is "conspiracy theory", some whacky thing cooked up by rabid "conspiracy theorists". Meanwhile, Americans continue to wallow in ignorance and denial as their country slides into tyrrany.
  • Bush Administration: Standing Up for the Right to Torture -- Washington Post editorial on the Gonzales testimony: "Alberto Gonzales missed an important opportunity yesterday to rectify his position, and that of President Bush, on the imprisonment and interrogation of foreign detainees. At the Senate Judiciary Committee's hearing on his nomination to be attorney general, Mr. Gonzales repeatedly was offered the chance to repudiate a legal judgment that the president is empowered to order torture in violation of U.S. law and immunize torturers from punishment. He declined to do so. He was invited to reject a 2002 ruling made under his direction that the infliction of pain short of serious physical injury, organ failure or death did not constitute torture. He answered: 'I don't have a disagreement with the conclusions then reached.' Nor did he condemn torture techniques, such as simulated drowning, that were discussed and approved during meetings in his office. 'It is not my job,' he said, to decide if they were proper. He was prompted to reflect on whether departing from the Geneva Conventions had been a mistake, in light of the shocking human rights abuses that have since been reported in Iraq, Afghanistan and the Guantanamo Bay prison and that continue even now. Mr. Gonzales demurred. The error, he answered, was not of administration policy but of 'a failure of training and oversight.' The message Mr. Gonzales left with senators was unmistakable: As attorney general, he will seek no change in practices that have led to the torture and killing of scores of detainees and to the blackening of U.S. moral authority around the world. Instead, the Bush administration will continue to issue public declarations such as those Mr. Gonzales repeated yesterday -- 'that torture and abuse will not be tolerated by this administration' -- while in practice sanctioning procedures that the International Red Cross and many lawyers inside the government consider to be illegal and improper."

    January 10, 2004

  • That Ole Crazy Asian War -- We never learned why we fought the Vietnam War, and now we're losing another Asian War. "In full hubristic certainty, the Neocons and others in the Bush Administration guaranteed the Iraq War would be 'quick and easy.' That was two years ago. That was before 1,300 Americans and 100,000 Iraqis were dead." Stewart Nusbaumer in interventionmag.com
  • Withdraw from the WTO -- "The 1994 measure in which Congress approved membership in the World Trade Organization contained a provision allowing a vote for withdrawal every five years. In 2000, Congress did consider the matter, but a majority refused to take our nation out of the organization. Most members of Congress must have felt that the WTO was just about trade and not about sovereignty. However, as the past decade has shown, WTO mandates have overruled our nation’s tax laws, set prices on the goods we import, imposed taxation on Americans, and dictated numerous policies that only Congress was given power to set." stoptheftaa.org
  • Mad Cow Morning News -- "How come fraudsters like Saudi billionaire arms dealer and international fugitive Adnan Khashoggi are allowed to own the companies counting American's votes?"
  • American Refugees -- "American Army soldiers are deserting and fleeing to Canada rather than fight in Iraq, rekindling memories of the thousands of draft-dodgers who flooded north to avoid service in Vietnam." Telegraph
  • Death Squads in Iraq -- The US is screwed in Iraq, over its head, out of control. No one has any idea what to do. All they know is violence, all they can do is increase it. They are pulling out the "Salvador option," the terrorist killer squads of the Reagan administration era, the thugs Ronnie the Great Communicator equated to George Washington, who kill people in front of their families to try to suppress all resistance through the use of fear. Newsweek

    January 11, 2005

  • CBS Bows to Bush, offers up human sacrifices -- Bush is smirking in satisfaction as he sees he can wave his hand and mountains will fall. Four were fired from CBS for a story that used a document that was not thoroughly vetted and may have been a forgery. The person who would have typed the actual memo said it was not the actual memo she typed, but that the information in it was correct. The information was that Bush was getting special treatment in the National Guard because of his father. The story was true, but one piece of evidence was probably forged. Why was all the attention focused on a false piece of evidence and not on the fact that the story was true? Bush can lie to the world in his State of the Union address, use the lies to go to war, which kills 100,000 Iraqis and over 1300 Americans and maims thousands more, and there are no consequences, no accountability. What a different standard is placed on the reporters at CBS! They can tell the truth, but if it's about the most powerful people, they can lose their job on a technicality. Bush, can lie and avoid consequences based on technicalities, manipulation, intimidation. Now CBS is castrated, neutralized, made helpless in the face of the Bush administration's power. This at a time when media scrutiny on corrupt officials has never been more important. Very sad state of affairs. Guardian, CBS
  • Don't Look Around -- "The police in Washington, D.C. are using new behavioral profiling methods to profile people riding the metro there. Officers are now targeting people who seem to be looking around the station more than other passengers, avoid eye contact or seem to be loitering in stations. If riders meet these criteria, the police are stopping them for questioning." Elites TV
  • Real Democracy -- Fahrenheit 911 wins favorite movie in People's Choice awards.
  • Heroes of vigilance against voter fraud.
  • Chomsky on election 2004 --
  • "Investment pros see bonanza" -- Brokers' fees in privatized Social Security will be billions.
  • Targeting Teens for Troops -- "Every day, squads of recruiters in impressively crisp uniforms cozy up to kids as young as 14 and 15 at schools, malls, pizza joints, bowling alleys and other teen hangouts, letting them know about the program, which allows anyone 17 or older to join and be paid monthly before they do a single push-up or hear a grizzled drill sergeant yell 'double time.'"
  • Torture is Illegal -- "There is no evidence that Gonzales ever once before that told his boss what should have been obvious, that torture is unthinkable, illegal, and should never be countenanced. It appears he chose instead to give the president what he wanted: loyalty and questionable legal cover for pushing the envelope in interrogations. His willingness to "play cute with the law," as Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) characterized it during Thursday's confirmation hearing, is reason enough to question the wisdom of elevating Gonzales to Attorney General. The nation's top law enforcement official should have an unassailable respect for the rule of law. It's too bad Bush didn't set the bar a bit higher when he moved to fill the job."
  • Coulter's Spiritual Father: "Fascism is definitely and absolutely opposed to the doctrines of liberalism, both in the political and the economic sphere... Germany attained her national unity outside liberalism and in opposition to liberalism ... whereas liberalism is the historic and logical anteroom to anarchy ... Now liberalism ... would lead the world to ruin in the future as they have done in the past....If liberalism spells individualism, Fascism spells government... This explains why all the political experiments of our day are anti-liberal." --Benito Mussolini: The Doctrine of Fascism, 1932
  • Where's the outrage over torture? Joe Klein, Time magazine: "At the senate confirmation hearing of attorney General—designate Alberto Gonzales last week, we learned that Judge Gonzales grew up impoverished with seven siblings in a shotgun shack without heat or running water in Texas. We learned that Gonzales sold soft drinks at Rice University football games and that he later graduated from Rice and Harvard Law School. We were introduced to his splendid family. And we also learned that Gonzales was complicit, at the very least, in the Bush Administration's decision to use severe physical interrogation techniques on detainees at Guantanamo, Abu Ghraib and elsewhere."
  • Bush Death Machine Grinds On -- Bob Herbert: "The assembly line of carnage in George W. Bush's war in Iraq continues unabated. Nightmares don't last this long, so the death and destruction must be real. You know you're in serious trouble when the politicians and the military brass don't even bother suggesting that there's light at the end of the tunnel. The only thing ahead is a deep and murderous darkness. With the insurgency becoming both stronger and bolder, and the chances of conducting a legitimate election growing grimmer by the day, a genuine sense of alarm can actually be detected in the reality-resistant hierarchy of the Bush administration."
  • Opposition in Republican ranks to Bush Social Security destruction
  • Blackwell's letter requesting illegal donations surfaces on ABC News. "I have an obligation to follow the law," Blackwell said. But does he?

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