2006/07/30

MSNBC Poll: Should Bush Be Impeached?

It currently looks like this:

Yes, between the secret spying, the deceptions leading to War and more, there is plenty to justify putting him on trial.
87%

No, like any president, he has made a few missteps, but nothing approaching “high crimes and misdemeanors.”
4.3%

No, the man has done absolutely nothing wrong. Impeachment would just be a political lynching.
7.2%

I don’t know.
1.8%

GO VOTE NOW

2006/07/23

Lovin' that bloodshed

Apocalyptic Christians are thrilled over the horrific bloodshed in Lebanon.

That's because they're hoping the End of the World is finally at hand -- and only some 1,950 years after Jesus reportedly promised it would happen.

Christians have been depressed for two millennia over their savior's lies. But instead of giving up, they just keep looking for signs of the apocalypse Christ swore would occur during the lifetimes of his original disciples.

Harper's Magazine has been collecting some of the happy comments from the "Rapture Ready" website this week, where the mood is joyous:

"Praise God! We are chosen to be in these times and also watch and spread the word," one bloodthirsty Christian wrote. "Something inside me is exploding to get out, and I don't know what it is. Its kind of like I want to do cartwheels around the neighborhood."

Watching the massacre of innocent Lebanese on television, another one of Jesus' followers wrote, "Got that dancing feeling on the inside of me."

Christians believe Jesus will eventually make good on his promise, and they pay special attention to a crazy book in the New Testament called "The Revelation" or "The Apocalypse of St. John." In that psychedelic rant, the anonymous author claims all sorts of horrible things will happen.

Myriad multi-faced monsters will come out of the sky and kill people, for one thing, while some huge war is supposed to take place at Armageddon, a nonexistent place in Palestine that is only mentioned in the Greek text of Revelation.

But for Christians who pray every day for the destruction of Earth and the brutal torture of the billions of people who don't follow their religion, the best part is when Jesus will magically suck all of the Christians from the Earth -- right out of their clothes.

The awful image of millions of fat, naked Christians being hoovered into the sky may be disgusting to most people, but to the "Rapture Ready" crowd there is nothing more orgasmic.

The English term rapture comes from the Latin word for rape; Christians hoping for the Rapture are literally begging to be raped by Jesus. Sadly for those Christians, neither the word "rapture" nor the concept actually appears anywhere in the Bible.

The controversial Book of Revelation has long been attacked by important Christians such as Martin Luther, who wrote that "Christ is neither taught nor known in it."

Biblical scholars dismiss Revelation as nothing more than a nearly-crushed cult's political rhetoric against the ruling empire of the Romans, like an ancient version of David Koresh's mad ramblings before the U.S. government massacred him and more than 70 of his followers and their little children.

Columbus=Douchebag

The famed explorer who supposedly "discovered" the Americas was a psychotic, bloodthirsty monster who enjoyed nothing more than Abu Ghraib-style torture parties.

That's according to disgusting new evidence unearthed by a Spanish archivist.

"Christopher Columbus was a cruel, despotic tyrant who ruled over his subjects with an iron fist, according to new documents which have emerged 500 years after his death," the Independent reports today.

"The discoverer of America routinely subjected slaves to torture and starved his own subjects in colonies in what is now the Dominican Republican."

Consuelo Varela of the High Council for Scientific Research in Seville found the outrageous documents last year and has been carefully transcribing them.

She found that the cruelty of Columbus was matched only by his greed and stupidity.

It was the greed that sent him back to Spain in shackles to face trial for massive graft. At the trial, 23 witnesses made their case against the satanic idiot. As everyone hated him, it wasn't hard to find witnesses.

Columbus encouraged the brutality of slavery, and happily punished even "white" Spaniards by cutting off various body parts and selling them as disfigured laborers.

There were no trials in his horrible outpost, and even members of his own inner circle were frequently tortured and killed when they did anything to upset the touchy tyrant. It's as if Donald Rumsfeld personally ran the torture prison at Guantanamo Bay and personally sodomized the inmates, rather than send specially-trained military psychotics to do his dirty work.

The stupidity of Columbus is famous; until his miserable death he believed Cuba's tropical mountains were the Himalayas. A simple hike across the narrow island's interior would've quickly settled the issue, but Columbus was too much of a moron to figure out how to walk uphill.

Like most sociopathic fascists, Columbus was a very pious Christian. The latest discoveries prove once again why the Devil was so anxious to get Columbus home to Hell.

2006/07/17

Open mic night at the G8 Summit!

Oh fuck a duck, Can Bush be anymore of a joke? Is it even humanly possible to fuck things up anymore then they already are? That's it, I have had it. I'm through. I'm selling everything I own, and moving to,,,I'm not sure were, but some other country. I just can't take this anymore.

2006/07/15

My most recent e-mail to Senator Stevens

Feel free to write to the Senator, I know he loves hearing from people. Share your deepest feelings, and be totally honest with him. It will make atleast one of you feel much better. Hopefully your letter won't get lost in his crowded tubes.

My dearest Senator Stevens,

You know nothing about the internet!!! Stop trying to regulate it. Deal with a real issue, like impeaching Bush, or ending the war. Stop dodging the real issues affecting our country. Grow some balls, and pick a issue that you might have a chance of understanding, if someone explains it real slow, and uses small words.

Kingdom Coming: The Rise of Christian Nationalism

Thursday, July 13th, 2006

Buzzflash

As a resurgent Taliban takes over large swatches of Afghanistan, changing that nation’s social mores, educational curriculum, and legal system, many Americans would be shocked to discover how massive and powerful the new American Christian Taliban has become. So powerful, in fact, that it could be argued it’s taken over large portions of the federal government, several state governments, and thousands of county and municipal governments.

Indeed, billions of dollars of your and my taxpayer dollars are today being diverted to GOP-affiliated ultra-rightist so-called Christian “charities” across the nation, without even the benefit of enabling legislation in many cases. As Michelle Goldberg writes in “Kingdom Coming”:

“The diversion of billions of taxpayer dollars from secular social service organizations to such sectarian religious outfits has been one of the most underreported stories of the Bush presidency. Bush’s faith-based initiatives have become a spoils system for evangelical ministries, which are now involved in everything from prison programs and job training to teenage pregnancy prevention, supplanting the safety net that was supposed to catch all Americans. As a result of faith-based grants, a growing number of government-funded social service jobs explicitly refuse to hire Jews, gay people, and other undesirables; such discrimination is defended by the administration and its surrogates in the name of religious freedom. Bringing the disposed to Jesus Christ has become something very close to a domestic policy goal of the United States government. And all this has happened with far less notice or public debate than attended the removal of Terri Schaivo’s feeding tube or the halftime baring of Janet Jackson’s breast.”
What Goldberg brilliantly reveals in this wonderfully readable and thoroughly researched book is the extent and reach of the Christian Nationalist movement in the USA — what is rapidly becoming a theocratic shadow government, intent on nothing less than rolling back the Enlightenment of the late 17th and 18th centuries, and replacing it with something that very resembles the Puritanism of Oliver Cromwell, a pseudo-Christian version of the Islam of Osama Bin Laden.

I say “pseudo Christian” (although Goldberg does not - she doesn’t engage in theological debate in her book) because for most people like myself who were raised as Christians, the Christian Nationalists propound a form of church/state merger, and an essential theology, that is completely at odds with the Jesus of the Sermon on the Mount and Matthew 25 (”feed the hungry, clothe the naked, visit those in prison, heal the sick,” etc.).

Instead, their Jesus is a muscular militarist who hates gays, is the first to see and condemn sin in others, and finds salvation not in poverty and charity but in building multi-million-dollar ministries, living high, and preaching that all problems are solved, all sins redeemed, all diseases cured (both physical and political) by simple belief in His name. This Jesus hates science, wants to use the power of the state to finance his ventures and punish his enemies, and wants to use the power of police, prisons, and courts to enforce his rigid view of everything from the role of women in society to the sanctity of the American flag.

This is not the Jesus that most Christians know, but it’s the Jesus in whose name a powerful and unrelenting movement is working to establish a theocracy in America. This Jesus is so far from the Biblical Jesus, in fact, that most in the movement refers to Him in His role — Christ — rather than His name - Jesus. The Jesus of the Bible, after all, had long hair, was homeless, hung out with social misfits, and preached poverty, pacifism, and mysticism. Hardly appropriate company for wealthy and powerful men like Falwell, Robertson, and Bush.

To write “Kingdom Coming,” Michelle Goldberg went from coast-to-coast deep inside the Christian Nationalist movement. Ninety percent of the book is storytelling — fascinating and often chilling — from these visits to everything from small rural churches to political-strategy conference calls with the most powerful men in America.

In a thoroughly dispassionate way, Goldberg walks the reader through Christian Nationalism from the level of the grass roots to the Astroturf to the offices of Bill Frist, Rick Santorum, and George W. Bush.

The final chapters of the book include one of the most lucid calls for a liberal response to Christian Nationalism I’ve read anywhere, and strategy outline that should be read by every progressive in America.

This is one of those books you can’t put down, in part because of Goldberg’s storytelling and reporting skills, but in larger part because it lays bare a truly frightening view of the future these folks have in mind for you, me, and the rest of America. And how shockingly close they already are to realizing their goals.

Kingdom Coming: The Rise of Christian Nationalism

Thursday, July 13th, 2006

Buzzflash

As a resurgent Taliban takes over large swatches of Afghanistan, changing that nation’s social mores, educational curriculum, and legal system, many Americans would be shocked to discover how massive and powerful the new American Christian Taliban has become. So powerful, in fact, that it could be argued it’s taken over large portions of the federal government, several state governments, and thousands of county and municipal governments.

Indeed, billions of dollars of your and my taxpayer dollars are today being diverted to GOP-affiliated ultra-rightist so-called Christian “charities” across the nation, without even the benefit of enabling legislation in many cases. As Michelle Goldberg writes in “Kingdom Coming”:

“The diversion of billions of taxpayer dollars from secular social service organizations to such sectarian religious outfits has been one of the most underreported stories of the Bush presidency. Bush’s faith-based initiatives have become a spoils system for evangelical ministries, which are now involved in everything from prison programs and job training to teenage pregnancy prevention, supplanting the safety net that was supposed to catch all Americans. As a result of faith-based grants, a growing number of government-funded social service jobs explicitly refuse to hire Jews, gay people, and other undesirables; such discrimination is defended by the administration and its surrogates in the name of religious freedom. Bringing the disposed to Jesus Christ has become something very close to a domestic policy goal of the United States government. And all this has happened with far less notice or public debate than attended the removal of Terri Schaivo’s feeding tube or the halftime baring of Janet Jackson’s breast.”
What Goldberg brilliantly reveals in this wonderfully readable and thoroughly researched book is the extent and reach of the Christian Nationalist movement in the USA — what is rapidly becoming a theocratic shadow government, intent on nothing less than rolling back the Enlightenment of the late 17th and 18th centuries, and replacing it with something that very resembles the Puritanism of Oliver Cromwell, a pseudo-Christian version of the Islam of Osama Bin Laden.

I say “pseudo Christian” (although Goldberg does not - she doesn’t engage in theological debate in her book) because for most people like myself who were raised as Christians, the Christian Nationalists propound a form of church/state merger, and an essential theology, that is completely at odds with the Jesus of the Sermon on the Mount and Matthew 25 (”feed the hungry, clothe the naked, visit those in prison, heal the sick,” etc.).

Instead, their Jesus is a muscular militarist who hates gays, is the first to see and condemn sin in others, and finds salvation not in poverty and charity but in building multi-million-dollar ministries, living high, and preaching that all problems are solved, all sins redeemed, all diseases cured (both physical and political) by simple belief in His name. This Jesus hates science, wants to use the power of the state to finance his ventures and punish his enemies, and wants to use the power of police, prisons, and courts to enforce his rigid view of everything from the role of women in society to the sanctity of the American flag.

This is not the Jesus that most Christians know, but it’s the Jesus in whose name a powerful and unrelenting movement is working to establish a theocracy in America. This Jesus is so far from the Biblical Jesus, in fact, that most in the movement refers to Him in His role — Christ — rather than His name - Jesus. The Jesus of the Bible, after all, had long hair, was homeless, hung out with social misfits, and preached poverty, pacifism, and mysticism. Hardly appropriate company for wealthy and powerful men like Falwell, Robertson, and Bush.

To write “Kingdom Coming,” Michelle Goldberg went from coast-to-coast deep inside the Christian Nationalist movement. Ninety percent of the book is storytelling — fascinating and often chilling — from these visits to everything from small rural churches to political-strategy conference calls with the most powerful men in America.

In a thoroughly dispassionate way, Goldberg walks the reader through Christian Nationalism from the level of the grass roots to the Astroturf to the offices of Bill Frist, Rick Santorum, and George W. Bush.

The final chapters of the book include one of the most lucid calls for a liberal response to Christian Nationalism I’ve read anywhere, and strategy outline that should be read by every progressive in America.

This is one of those books you can’t put down, in part because of Goldberg’s storytelling and reporting skills, but in larger part because it lays bare a truly frightening view of the future these folks have in mind for you, me, and the rest of America. And how shockingly close they already are to realizing their goals.

US may have kidnapped families of Iraqi detainees

American forces in Iraq have been accused of kidnapping the families of detainees as an interrogation tactic, RAW STORY has learned.

A story in today’s edition of Salon suggests that the kidnapping method may have been used systematically in the course of intelligence gathering through interrogations in the Iraq War.

Salon added that Members of Congress including Rep. Christopher Shays, a Republican of Connecticut, have issued a subpoena to Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld to hand over documents on the matter. They are due at 5 PM today.

An excerpt from the subscribers-only article is included below.

#
Congress has demanded that Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld hand over a raft of documents to Congress that could substantiate allegations that U.S. forces have tried to break terror suspects by kidnapping and mistreating their family members. Rumsfeld has until 5 p.m. Friday to comply.

It now appears that kidnapping, scarcely covered by the Media, and absent in the major military investigations of detainee abuse, may have been systematically employed by U.S. troops. Salon has obtained Army documents that show several cases where U.S. forces abducted terror suspects’ families. After he was thrown in prison, Cpl. Charles Graner, the alleged ringleader at Abu Ghraib, told investigators the military routinely kidnapped family members to force suspects to turn themselves in.

A House subcommittee led by Connecticut Republican Christopher Shays took the unusual step last month of issuing Rumsfeld a subpoena for the documents after months of stonewalling by the Pentagon. Shays had requested the documents in a March 7 letter. “There was no response” to the letter, a frustrated Shays told Salon. “We are not going to back off this.”

U.S. government wants to begin using prisoners for medical experiments

(NewsTarget) A new report by the Institute of Medicine recommends easing current restrictions on the use of prisoners in medical experiments to allow inmates to “benefit” from clinical trials.

Critics of the plan cite past abuses of prisoners by pharmaceutical companies and medical researchers as reasons to keep rigid restrictions on medical experimentation in place. About 300 former inmates have sued Penn drug researcher Albert Kligman for allegedly experimenting on them in 1964 with infectious agents, dioxin, radioactive isotopes and psychotropic drugs. Inmates were told the chemicals they were testing were harmless.

Following the Holmesburg scandal, the federal government placed strict limitations on performing medical experiments on prisoners, but the new Institute of Medicine report suggests prisoners should once again be used to test therapies in the final phase of FDA approval, as long as the trials do not involve cosmetic toxicity testing, and half the trial members are not inmates.

However, the Holmesburg prisoners represent only one of many cases of government-sponsored abuse at the hands of medical researchers. According to extensive NewsTarget.com research (http://www.newstarget.com/019189.html), prisoners have been experimented on with everything from malaria and hepatitis to cancer and cholera. Cases of performing vivisections on live prisoners have even been reported.

Ernest D. Prentice, chair of the Institute of Medicine’s advisory board, says the current regulations “were written in an era of protectionism — that taking part in research was bad and (prisoners) needed to be protected. We don’t have that same view anymore.”

Temple University professor Allen M. Hornblum, author of “Acres of Skin,” which details the experiments performed at Holmesburg, says prisoners should not be used in medical experiments, and that the new report “is like putting (on) the Good Housekeeping seal, saying it’s now okay to do some of these things.”

However, the Institute’s committee members say past mistakes in medical experimentation must be learned from and moved past. The report also says that with the prison population booming, prisoners are in need of new medicines that could help treat diseases from hepatitis to AIDS.

Pharmaceutical companies typically recruit poor people for medical experiments, but with the number of drug experiments on the rise, and with fewer people willing to voluntarily participate in such trials, opening the prison population to medical experimentation would allow drug companies access to a huge population of low-cost guinea pigs.

2006/07/12

Beware of card tricks

Wednesday, July 12th, 2006

The government claims that national identity cards will help to counter Terrorism, illegal immigration and ID fraud. That’s rubbish, says Henry Porter, and in fact there is something much more sinister about them - they will fundamentally alter the relationship between citizen and state, and make slaves of us all.

The other day I went to see my publishers in central London and prepared for the usual performance at the entrance, which involves me writing my name, the name of my editor and the time in a book. On this occasion the man asked me to type the details into a keyboard then angled a camera on a stalk into my face. I typed away but held one hand in front of the lens before moving swiftly out of the camera’s field to make for the lift. “Hold on, sir,” shouted the security guard after me. “You can’t go in unless you’ve had your picture taken.”

“I can,” I said, “because you have no right to take my photograph without my consent. And you most certainly don’t have it.”
A week later I was confronted with the same piece of equipment at my gym in west London. Again I placed my hand over the camera lens and to the baffled receptionists quoted the Image Retention Act 2002. There was, of course, no Image Retention Act in 2002, or any other year. That time, they let me in. By my next visit they were waiting for me. The receptionist stood back out of range of my hand and snapped my picture before I had time to react.

To many, my behaviour would seem unreasonable. After all, my picture is taken hundreds - maybe thousands - of times every day in London. But that is not my objection. What bothers me is when someone puts my image, my name, the place and time together. That is information of a personal nature, and is an invasion of my privacy.

I have exactly the same response to the ID card and the much more sinister National Identity Register (NIR), which one day will track each one of us through almost every important transaction of our lives. Emails leaked to the Sunday Times at the weekend suggest that senior civil servants in charge of key aspects of the scheme, Peter Smith and David Foord, have grave doubts about the practicalities of introducing the card. This may be reassuring to some but the argument against this folly must take place on every level. I am instinctively against them, politically against the card and the NIR - and, if it doesn’t sound pretentious, philosophically against them too.

At a stretch, I would carry a voluntary little plastic ID card, because I have no objection to identifying myself when it is my choice. I don’t mind taking my passport along to the bank or showing my driving licence to collect a parcel from the post office - but I am preternaturally against the state forcing me to supply biometric measurements and 49 separate pieces of information about myself to a database which will be accessed by God knows who without my permission or knowledge. I am genetically incapable of submitting to such a process. I cannot do it. I will not do it, and I pray that when the public understands how this scheme will profoundly alter the relationship between the individual and the state thousands more will recoil and say the same.

The government’s arguments in favour of ID cards keep shifting, and the hugely expensive project has been sold to the British public on a false prospectus. The government began by saying it would prevent Terrorism. When that wasn’t tenable, it said it would prevent ID theft. When that didn’t work, it said it would prevent benefit fraud and when that didn’t work it resorted to claiming that it would help control illegal immigration.

So, first of all, Terrorism. The Spanish ID card did not stop the Madrid train bombers and a British ID card wouldn’t have stopped the London July bombings of 2005. ID cards, it is plain, will not deter home-grown terrorists or suicide bombers who are quite happy for their names to be known once they have carried out their attacks for the obvious reason that martyrdom is pointless when it is anonymous. So when that didn’t work, ministers stirred up fears about ID theft as the great scourge of modern society. Yes, it is a problem, but it is nowhere near as large as the government has been making out. In January, the Home Office published a report which said that ID theft cost the British public £1.7bn annually. It turned out that that figure included £395m for money laundering and £504m for the total loss of plastic cards. Thus the figure was exaggerated by a little under 50%.

Rather than stopping ID theft, ID cards are, in fact, likely to increase the problem, because this single unified and trusted identifier will be something that is really worth forging. Already, we hear, criminal gangs have compromised the chip-and-pin technology that will be used. And the new RFID technology - that’s radio frequency identifiers - in place in some passports has been read by illegal scanners at 30 paces. Imagine that gadget in the hands of terrorists or criminal gangs.

In February 2004 the government published a report saying that a campaign against benefit fraud had cut losses by £400m. The report said that the government was on target to slash fraud and error by half by this year, quite an achievement. Then the boasting suddenly stopped. Why? Because the government’s success at meeting its own targets militated against the argument for ID cards.

Like crime, benefit fraud has decreased. But you hear little of this from No 10 or the rightwing tabloid press, because it suits them to keep us in a state of near frenzy about both. And there is something else to remember: in the majority of cases, benefit fraud is not the result of well-organised individuals using multiple identities, but rather people exaggerating their sickness and the extent of their disability. The ID card will do nothing to stop someone faking depression or lower back pain.

And, finally, the ID card won’t stop illegal immigration. True, it will make the lives of illegal immigrants more difficult, but there is little evidence to suggest that it will actually deter people-smugglers and desperate migrants.

-continued-

The Politics of American Greed

Wednesday, July 12th, 2006

Information Clearing House

I don’t get it. What’s the percentage in keeping the minimum wage at $5.15 an hour? After nine years? This is such an unnecessary and nasty Republican move. Congress has voted seven times to raise its own wages since last the minimum wage budged. Of course, Congress always raises its own salary in the dark of night, hoping no one will notice. But now it does the same with the minimum wage, quietly killing it.

Anyone who doesn’t think this is a country where the rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer needs to check the numbers — this is Bush country, where a rising tide lifts all yachts.

According to the current issue of Mother Jones:

One in four U.S. jobs pays less than a poverty-level income.
Since 2000, the number of Americans living below the poverty line at any one time has risen steadily. Now, 13 percent — 37 million Americans — are officially poor.
Bush’s tax cuts (extended until 2010) save those earning between $20,000 and $30,000 an average of $10 a year, while those making $1 million are saved $42,700.
In 2002, Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, compared those who point out such statistics as the one above to Adolph Hitler (surely he meant Stalin?).
Bush has diverted $750 million to “healthy marriages” by shifting funds from social services, mostly childcare.

Bush has proposed cutting housing programs for low-income people with disabilities by 50 percent.
A series of related stats — starting with the news that two out of three new jobs are in the suburbs — shows how the poor are further disadvantaged in the job hunt by lack of public or private transportation.

Meanwhile, for those who have been following the collapse of the pension system, please note a series in The Wall Street Journal by Ellen Schultz taking a hard look at executive pension obligations:

“Benefits for executives now account for a significant share of pension obligations in the United States, an average of 8 percent (of large companies). Sometimes a company’s obligation for a single executive’s pension approaches $100 million.”
“These liabilities are largely hidden, because corporations don’t distinguish them from overall pension obligations in their federal financial findings.”
“As a result, the savings that companies make by curtailing pensions of regular retirees — which have totaled billions of dollars in recent years — can mask a rising cost of benefits for executives.”
“Executive pensions, even when they won’t be paid until years from now, drag down the earnings today. And they do so in a way that’s disproportionate to their size, because they aren’t funded with dedicated assets.”
It seems to me that we’ve seen enough evidence over the years that the capitalist system is not going to be destroyed by an outside challenger like communism — it will be destroyed by its own internal greed. Greed is the greatest danger as we develop an increasingly winner-take-all system. And voices like The Wall Street Journal’s editorial page encourage this mentality by insisting that any form of regulation is bad. But for whom?

It is so discouraging to watch this country become less and less fair — “justice for all” seems like an embarrassingly archaic tag. Republicans have rigged the “lottery of life” in this country in ways we don’t even know about yet. The new bankruptcy law is unfair, and the new college loan rules are worse. The system has been stacked so that large corporations have an inside track over small businesses in getting government contracts. We won’t see the full consequences of this mean and careless legislation for years, but it is starting to affect us already.

Molly Ivins writes about Politics, Texas and other bizarre happenings.

2006/07/11

NSA says it’s too secret to be sued

Gail Gibson

DETROIT — A courtroom challenge to the National Security Agency’s domestic surveillance program would expose sensitive state secrets and should be thrown out, government lawyers told a federal judge yesterday.

In making that sweeping assertion, lawyers employed the state secrets doctrine, an obscure tool that has been used by the Bush administration in 22 other instances - more than any other presidency - to squelch cases touching on intelligence practices.

And it is virtually always a winning strategy, say legal scholars and attorneys who handle national security cases.

In May, the risk of exposing state secrets led a federal judge in Virginia to dismiss a suit against the government brought by a German abducted by a CIA renditions team, held for several months in Afghanistan, then left stranded in Albania.

In the past year, government lawyers also have used the state secrets privilege to defeat a high-profile whistleblower case against the FBI and a racial discrimination suit against the CIA and to seek dismissals in a string of recent cases challenging some of the government’s surveillance methods in its anti-terror campaign.

“In a case where the government says the case cannot be litigated without exposing state secrets, I have not seen the government lose a case like that,” said Meredith Fuchs, general counsel for the National Security Archives at George Washington University.

According to research by Fuchs, lawyers in the Bush administration have invoked the state secrets privilege in at least 23 cases since 2000, more than any previous administration since the privilege was crafted in a 1953 Supreme Court case. In each case where there has been a final decision, the government has won.

“I think it’s interesting now that you have this court in Detroit focusing on state secrets and seeming like the judge there does not want to automatically accept the government’s claims,” she said.

“This is hard for judges. … But my impression is the judges are considering, ‘What are the alternatives?’ This is a big change, and I think it’s because they are aware that this kind of privilege takes the court out of the picture altogether.”

-continued-

Could Bush Be Prosecuted for War Crimes?

Jan Frel

The extent to which American exceptionalism is embedded in the national psyche is awesome to behold.

While the United States is a country like any other, its citizens no more special than any others on the planet, Americans still react with surprise at the suggestion that their country could be held responsible for something as heinous as a War crime.

From the massacre of more than 100,000 people in the Philippines to the first nuclear attack ever at Hiroshima to the unprovoked invasion of Baghdad, U.S.-sponsored violence doesn’t feel as wrong and worthy of prosecution in internationally sanctioned criminal courts as the gory, bload-soaked atrocities of Congo, Darfur, Rwanda, and most certainly not the Nazis — most certainly not. Howard Zinn recently described this as our "inability to think outside the boundaries of nationalism. We are penned in by the arrogant idea that this country is the center of the universe, exceptionally virtuous, admirable, superior."

Most Americans firmly believe there is nothing the United States or its political leadership could possibly do that could equate to the crimes of Hitler’s Third Reich. The Nazis are our "gold standard of evil," as author John Dolan once put it.

But the truth is that we can, and we have — most recently and significantly in Iraq. Perhaps no person on the planet is better equipped to identify and describe our crimes in Iraq than Benjamin Ferenccz, a former chief prosecutor of the Nuremberg Trials who successfully convicted 22 Nazi officers for their work in orchestrating death squads that killed more than one million people in the famous Einsatzgruppen Case. Ferencz, now 87, has gone on to become a founding father of the basis behind international law regarding War crimes, and his essays and legal work drawing from the Nuremberg trials and later the commission that established the International Criminal Court remain a lasting influence in that realm.

Ferencz’s biggest contribution to the War crimes field is his assertion that an unprovoked or "aggressive" War is the highest crime against mankind. It was the decision to invade Iraq in 2003 that made possible the horrors of Abu Ghraib, the destruction of Fallouja and Ramadi, the tens of thousands of Iraqi deaths, civilian massacres like Haditha, and on and on. Ferencz believes that a "prima facie case can be made that the United States is guilty of the supreme crime against humanity, that being an illegal War of aggression against a sovereign nation."

-continued-

Congress' spam filter blocks 1st Amendment

One by one, members of Congress are resorting to technological advances to silence your dissent or opinion. Several have begun using a spam blocker that prevents online petitions from reaching their email in-boxes.

The First Amendment of the Constitution guarantees every citizen's right "to petition the government for a redress of grievances."

It's this passage in the Constitution that has allowed porn magnate Larry Flynt to continue sending free copies of Hustler to all members of Congress for 32 years.

Though several have gone to the courts to stop Flynt's gifts from arriving in their mailboxes, the court have always ruled that the Constitution requires members of Congress to take receipt of the glossy, hard-focus smut.

Despite this, more than 60 of our elected officials have installed a filter called "Logic Puzzle" to spare them the nuisance of receiving mass emailings sent by American citizens.

"It's hard to tell how much is accomplished by jillions of online petitions and mass e-mailings. But this has been one of the last ways that a non-VIP can communicate with his/her 'representative.' They're supposed to be REPRESENTING US, remember?," exclaimed Tom Harper of Bring It On.

Pink Floyd, My Zen




Being that I am 30, I really missed out on seeing PF at there peak, the first time I ever heard of them they were on a comeback tour or some thing like that. I kept asking, "who in the fuck is Pink Floyd? Sounds fucking gay!!" (Yes, even in junior high I swore like a sailor, thank you for pointing that out.) Then, month, and month latter, a friend was playing this real cool tape(What's a CD?) and I was hooked, even before I could ask who it was, I was in love with this music. It spoke to me in a way no music ever had. And, now that I reflect back on it, no music has ever touched me, the way PF's has. I can't even think of any music that has come near. I listen to a lot of music, A LOT!! I think I keep BMG and Columbia house in business by myself. I always have a new favorite group, that I rant and rave about, and go on and on about how great they are, but they quickly get replaced, and start to collect dust, and the new flavor of the month moves into there place. But Floyd has always been there. When I am depressed, or sad, or just need to be grounded, The Wall, or the Dark side of the moon, are the first things I reach for.

The passing of Syd Barrett, is the end to a musical genius, that I will truly miss. I want to thank you Syd, for the gifts you have shared with the world, and I hope you are finally at peace.

Shine On You Crazy Diamond!!!!

Tue Jul 11, 3:18 PM ET

Syd Barrett, the troubled Pink Floyd co-founder who spent his last years in reclusive anonymity, has died, the band said Tuesday. He was 60.

A spokeswoman for the band said Barrett died several days ago, but she did not disclose the cause of death. Barrett had suffered from diabetes for years.

The surviving members of Pink Floyd David Gilmour, Nick Mason, Roger Waters and Richard Wright said they were "very upset and sad to learn of Syd Barrett's death."

"Syd was the guiding light of the early band lineup and leaves a legacy which continues to inspire," they said in a statement.

Barrett co-founded Pink Floyd in 1965 with Waters, Mason and Wright, and wrote many of the band's early songs. The group's jazz-infused rock and drug-laced, multimedia "happenings" made them darlings of the London psychedelic scene. The 1967 album "The Piper at the Gates of Dawn" largely written by Barrett, who also played guitar was a commercial and critical hit.

But Barrett suffered from mental instability, exacerbated by his use of LSD. His behavior grew increasingly erratic, and he left the group in 1968 five years before the release of Pink Floyd's most popular album, "Dark Side of the Moon" to be replaced by Gilmour.

Barrett released two solo albums "The Madcap Laughs" and "Barrett" but soon withdrew from the music business altogether. An album of previously unreleased material, "Opel," was issued in 1988.

He reverted to his real name, Roger Barrett, and spent much of the rest of his life living quietly in his hometown of Cambridge, England. Moving into his mother's suburban house, he passed the time painting and tending the garden. His former bandmates made sure Barrett continued to receive royalties from his work with Pink Floyd.

He was a familiar figure to neighbors, often seen cycling or walking to the corner store, but rarely spoke to the fans and journalists who sought him out over the years.

Despite his brief career, Barrett's fragile, wistful songs influenced many musicians including David Bowie who covered the Barrett track "See Emily Play."

Bowie said in a statement posted on his Web site that Barrett had been a "major inspiration."

"His impact on my thinking was enormous," Bowie write. "A major regret is that I never got to know him. A diamond indeed."

The other members of Pink Floyd recorded the album "Wish You Were Here" as a tribute to their troubled bandmate.

It contained the song "Shine On You Crazy Diamond" "Remember when you were young, you shone like the sun." The band also dwelt on themes of mental illness on the albums "Dark Side of the Moon" and "The Wall."

The band spokeswoman said a small, private funeral would be held.

2006/07/04

Spies love blogging!

As the blogging craze subsides and top blogs suffer double-digit drops in readership, the once-popular phenomenon still has at least one loyal audience: American spies.

For most computer users, blogs are "over" -- an inexplicable fad that peaked during the 2004 presidential race, when millions of readers flocked to hundreds of "A list" weblogs that posted bits of political news, gossip and wild accusations.

Once people figured out that blogs were nothing more than the same dull political propaganda found on talk radio or those "liberal" and "conservative" magazines nobody reads, the once-robust blog audience quickly faded.

At the CIA and Pentagon, however, the worn-out fad is the most exciting thing ever.

It's all because new information-sorting software can figure out the "hot stories" bloggers are all excited about.

This information is then delivered to out-of-touch kleptocrats such as the president, members of Congress and even local police departments run by little tyrants who want total surveillance of all residents.

"The new Open Source Center at CIA headquarters recently stepped up data collection and analysis based on bloggers worldwide and is developing new methods to gauge the reliability of the content," the Washington Times reported.

"A lot of blogs now have become very big on the Internet," OSC Director Douglas J. Naquin revealed. But his cryptic statement suggests there are other blogs that are big beyond the Internet, possibly on shortwave radio or within crop formations.

According to Naquin, the White House regularly receives "blog briefings" and President George W. Bush is thrilled by all he's learning from the blogs.

"We're certainly scoring a number of wins with our ultimate customer," says top spy Eliot A. Jardines of Bush's blog addiction.

And on Thursday, the Pentagon announced a huge blog-tracking operation of its own:

"The Air Force Office of Scientific Research recently began funding a new research area that includes a study of blogs. Blog research may provide information analysts and warfighters with invaluable help in fighting the war on terrorism."

The results are already startling, and certainly worth the billions of dollars of taxpayer money already spent on the project.

For example, top Pentagon spies are already learning much about the secrets of the forgotten craze.

"Blog entries have a different structure," said Pentagon chief scientist Dr. Brian E. Ulicny.

"They are typically short and are about something external to the blog posting itself, such as a news event. It's not uncommon for a blogger to simply state, 'I can't believe this happened,' and then link to a news story."

Armed with this intelligence, the Pentagon is more than ready to wage warfare against this fading enemy, the bloggers.

2006/07/03

AFP Cracks Bilderberg

By James P. Tucker Jr.

OTTAWA, CANADA - As Bilderberg gathers at the posh Brook Street Resort, there was concern that Latin America will use oil as a weapon to block expansion of NAFTA throughout the Western Hemisphere and whether Bush could be talked out of an all-out invasion of Iran.

Bilderberg is concerned that leftist governments in Latin America, led by Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez, will use manipulation of oil supplies and prices to form an economic union that would include Brazil, Cuba, Peru and Mexico.

Such a union, by refusing to join NAFTA, would wreck Bilderberg’s long-standing goal of expanding NAFTA throughout the Western Hemisphere and evolving it into an “American Union” patterned after the European Union. The dollar would become the common currency of the American Union.

Reaction to Chavez’s earlier announcement that he would exact new taxes on companies that extract oil from his country was angry This directly affects Bilderberg, which has its own oil bloc, including Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands and the Rothschild companies of Britain and Europe. Companies affected include Exxon Mobil Corp., Chevron Corp, Conoco-Phillips, Total, BP PLC and Norway’s Statoil ASA. Chavez also irritated the striped-britches boys by offering oil at low prices to impoverished locations in the United States and Britain. His domestic oil is subsidized—Venezuelans pay 12 cents a gallon.

There is a feeling expressed among Bilderberg luminaries that Chavez is having fun with them. They are not known for humor.

But Bilderberg says its “policies” are turning the Chavez threat around. Chavez hosted the OPEC meeting in Caracas but his proposal for a cut in oil production to boost prices was rejected. OPEC has maintained its official output ceiling at 28 million barrels a day since July 2005.

It has been reported that Mexico’s Felipe Calderon of the America-friendly National Action Party now leads in the polls over the populist Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador in the July 2 presidential election. Although he is from the same party as President Vicente Fox, Calderon has cast himself as a rival who advocates improving Mexico’s economy so there would be no incentive to illegally enter the United States.

In Peru, Ollanta Humala, who is friendly with Chavez, lost to former president Alan Garcia. While Bilderberg has celebrated America’s “little wars,” there has been opposition by the European wing to the invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan from the outset. With NATO taking on a larger role in Afghanistan, the controversy has calmed a bit.

But European Bilderbergers fear a United States attack on Iran, which would have a tremendous global impact.

The meeting is set to begin on Friday, June 9. AFP will be there covering the event over the course of the weekend. The Bilderberg group takes it name from the hotel in Holland where the group met in 1954, during the earliest period of its inception. Bilderbergers meet regularly, presumably on a once-a-year basis, at various locations around the world, always in extreme secrecy, often at resorts controlled by either the Rockefeller or Rothschild families. The Rothschild family is the leading European force within the Bilderberg group, sharing its power with the American-based Rockefeller empire.

Bilderberg maintains an extremely low profile and seldom, if ever, publishes reports or studies for the public, at least, under its own official aegis. Participants denied the group’s very existence for decades until it was forced into the open by the glare of Media publicity, generated largely by the now defunct Spotlight newspaper. It follows so-called “Chatham House rules,” whereby attendees are forbidden to speak on the record about topics of discussion during the gathering.

The New World Order, the Ministry of Truth

Deanna Spingola

Most of us are happy to have sufficient for our needs but with the elite, enough is never enough. It isn’t simply resource accumulation but an insatiable, obsessive demonic lust for power over others. Controlling others necessitates an absolute infiltration into every area of our lives including the source of our acquired knowledge and our perceptions about current events. To facilitate this goal, a suspension of the First Amendment, specifically our freedom of speech, is absolutely essential.

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

The First Amendment protects our freedom of speech and of the press. Absent the First Amendment, protestors could be silenced, the press could be censored, citizens could not criticize their government nor could they organize for social change. No rational individual would readily relinquish the vital freedoms of the First Amendment. But like the proverbial frog who remains in incrementally heated water, the masses will slowly surrender all of their freedoms without so much of a whimper. Some will even be relieved and anxious to surrender the freedoms patriots died to gain. With hardly a struggle or even majority acknowledgement, the allied elite have progressively seized ownership or control of the Media.

The “free” press has been seized by mega Media owners who are “free” to deliver mounds of distracting drivel camouflaged as news and information. Objectivity has been replaced by restraint. Instead of receiving unbiased information we are indoctrinated by the cultural, moral, economic and globalist philosophies and falsehoods supported by the elite corporate owners.

“In March 1915, the J. P. Morgan interests, the steel, shipbuilding and powder interests, and their subsidiary organizations, got together 12 men high up in the newspaper world and employed them to select the most influential newspapers in the United States and sufficient number of them to control generally the policy of the daily press of the United States.” [1]

“These 12 men worked the problem out by selecting 179 newspapers and then began, by an elimination process, to retain only those necessary for the purpose of controlling the general policy of the daily press throughout the country. They found it was only necessary to purchase the control of 25 of the greatest papers. The 25 papers were agreed upon; emissaries were sent to purchase the policy, national and interational, of these papers; an agreement was reached; the policy of the papers was bought, to be paid for by the month; an editor was furnished for each paper to properly supervise and edit information regarding the questions of preparedness, militarism, financial policies, and other things of national and international nature considered vital to the interests of the purchasers…” [2]

“This policy also included the suppression of everything in opposition to the wishes of the interests served.” [3]

Bernard Baruch, American financier, stock market speculator, statesman, and presidential adviser, financially backed both newspapers and columnists. Arthur Krock, a columnist for the Louisville Courier-Journal was under Baruch’s influence and attended the Paris Peace Conference with Baruch and Herbert Hoover in 1919. Baruch convinced Adolph Ochs, publisher of the New York Times that he should hire Krock who reorganized the New York Times Washington bureau in 1932.

In 1926 Baruch invested $50,000 to assist David Lawrence to found the United States Daily, which became United States News and after World War II USA News and World Report. Baruch also financed Maxwell Lincoln Schuster and Dick Simon to form Simon and Schuster. Baruch also made investments in Vogue, Vanity Fair, Raleigh News and Observer, Our World Magazine and others. [4]

Simon & Schuster grew to include seven divisions – the Simon & Schuster Adult Publishing Group, Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing, Simon & Schuster Audio, Simon & Schuster Online, Simon & Schuster UK, Simon & Schuster Canada and Simon & Schuster Australia. Their imprints and brand names include: Simon & Schuster, Scribner, Pocket Books, Downtown Press, The Free Press, Atria, Fireside, Touchstone, Washington Square Press, Atheneum, Margaret K. McElderrry, Aladdin Paperbacks, Little Simon, Simon Spotlight, Simon Spotlight Entertainment, Star Trek, MTV Books and Wall Street Journal Books. [5]

Simon & Schuster published more than 2,000 titles annually. They have won 54 Pulitzer Prizes and have received numerous National Book Awards and National Book Critics Circle Awards. They have published both Rush Limbaugh’s and Howard Stern’s books.

-continued-

Man Utd plan to chip players

John Scheerhout

MANCHESTER United stars could be fitted with a tiny microchip to help Sir Alex Ferguson track their movements on the pitch.

A chip the size of a grain of rice could be embedded just under the skin of stars including Wayne Rooney, Rio Ferdinand and Gary Neville.

Satellites would track its exact position so that United’s training staff can pinpoint players’ movements during a match or training.

United bosses today confirmed the technology was being considered although no decision had been taken.

But they rubbished reports of a revolt by players who are concerned they could be tracked off the pitch shopping or nightclubbing. It is believed the technology has been used in South America, where footballers have been kidnapped.

It has also been considered by the medical profession in the United States so doctors can access information if a patient is unconscious.

Imperial Bush brought to heel

Andrew Sullivan

THE full importance of the US Supreme Court’s decision in Hamdan v Rumsfeld took a little time to sink in. Military tribunals to try suspects at Guantanamo Bay were found to be illegal. The administration had breached both US law and the Geneva convention on the treatment of prisoners. The lesson is that even in times of War the US is run not by a president but by a constitution.

The president is not an old-style monarch, empowered in wartime to make up rules as he goes along. He is not the law. He must obey the law, as all citizens must. And in a series of actions and decisions after 9/11, President George W. Bush in effect broke the law, violated his oath of office and pushed the limits of his power beyond the permissible.

Not for the first time, in other words, a King George has been dethroned in the US. This time, though, it wasn’t the British monarch but a president who had almost come to regard himself as a king in a War with no end. The rebels were not colonial tax-avoiders, but the Supreme Court set up more than two centuries ago by the first independent Americans. Tomorrow, Americans will celebrate that moment on July 4. This year, thanks to the court, Independence Day came early.

The US is not in essence a geographical entity. When it was founded, it occupied a fraction of the land it now does. Nor is it defined by an ethnic group or a royal line. Its core is essentially a piece of paper, a written constitution, a formal set of procedures designed, before everything else, to protect individual liberty. At the heart of that liberty is the right to a fair trial and the insistence that nobody - especially not the president - can take that away.

That US Constitution has been tested before. It was tested when Abraham Lincoln suspended habeas corpus in the US Civil War. It was tested when Franklin Roosevelt interned thousands of Japanese-American citizens in camps during World War II. It was tested when Richard Nixon turned the presidency into a criminal Conspiracy in Watergate. There was never any doubt that the War launched against the US on September 11, 2001, would test it too. Wars do that, as Lincoln and Roosevelt demonstrate. No War by foreign enemies has implicated the American homeland as profoundly as this one.

-continued-

Reid to toughen secrecy laws

Richard Norton-Taylor

Plans for tougher official secrecy laws to prevent whistleblowers from revealing information about government policy have been drawn up by the home secretary, John Reid.

He wants to stop members of the security and intelligence agencies, as well as other Whitehall officials with access to sensitive information, from claiming they acted in the public interest and were exposing wrongdoing or unlawful acts by the government.

Ministers have been embarrassed by a spate of leaks revealing their private concerns about the legality of the US-led invasion of Iraq, including concerns allegedly expressed by Tony Blair about American tactics in the country.

They are also concerned about how Katherine Gunn, a former official at GCHQ, the government’s eavesdropping centre, threatened to use the defence of “necessity” in court. She was charged under the Official Secrets Act for revealing a document which showed how the US had asked GCHQ to intercept the communications of foreign diplomats at the UN during attempts to secure a security council resolution backing the invasion of Iraq.

The case was dropped after she threatened to expose doubts about the legality of the invasion expressed by government lawyers. The parliamentary intelligence and security committee revealed in its annual report last week that a draft bill drawn up by the Home Office would remove the common law defence of “duress of circumstance” as a potential whistleblower defence.

The measure, the committee said, would “address unauthorised disclosure by members, or former members, of the security and intelligence agencies”. It said the question of who could “authorise” a disclosure of official information - at present often at the discretion of senior officials - should be placed on an explicit statutory footing. Punishment should also be increased from the two-year jail sentence under the 1989 Official Secrets Act.

The parliamentary committee said the Home Office proposal had not yet received “policy clearance” in Whitehall.

Did Bush Steal The Mexican Election, Too?

Greg Palast

As in Florida in 2000, and as in Ohio in 2004, the exit polls show the voters voted for the progressive candidate. The race is “officially” too close to call. But they will call it - after they steal it.

Reuters reports that, as of 8pm eastern time, as voting concluded in Mexico, exit polls showed Andrés Manuel López Obrador of the “leftwing” party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD) leading in exit polls over Felipe Calderón of the ruling conservative National Action party (PAN).

We’ve said again and again: exit polls tell us how voters say they voted, but the voters can’t tell pollsters whether their vote will be counted. In Mexico, counting the vote is an art, not a science - and Calderón’s ruling crew is very artful indeed. The PAN-controlled official electoral commission, not surprisingly, has announced that the presidential tally is too close to call.

Calderón’s election is openly supported by the Bush administration.

On the ground in Mexico city, our news team reports accusations from inside the Obrador campaign that operatives of the PAN had access to voter files that are supposed to be the sole property of the nation’s electoral commission. We are not surprised.

This past Friday, we reported that the US Federal Bureau of Investigation had obtained Mexico’s voter files under a secret “counter-Terrorism” contract with the database company ChoicePoint of Alpharetta, Georgia.

The FBI’s contractor states that following the arrest of ChoicePoint agents by the Mexican government, the company returned or destroyed its files. The firm claims not to have known that collecting this information violated Mexican law. Such files can be useful in challenging a voter’s right to cast a ballot or in preventing that vote from counting.

It is, of course, impossible to know whether the FBI destroyed its own copy of the files of Mexico’s voter rolls obtained by ChoicePoint or whether these were then used to illegally assist the Calderon candidacy. But we can see the results: as in the US, first in Florida, then in Ohio, the exit polls are at odds with “official” polls.

In November 2004, the US Republican Senator Richard Lugar, in Kiev, cited the divergence of exit polls and official polls as solid evidence of “blatant fraud” in the vote count in Ukraine. As a result, the Bush administration refused to recognise the Ukraine government’s official vote tally - proving once again that republicans are incapable of irony.

The foreign mainstream press has already announced, despite the polling discrepancies, that Mexico’s elections were fair and clean, which would be a first for that country where López Obrador’s party has seen its candidates defeated by “blatant fraud” before. The change this time is that the fraud is simply less blatant.

2006/07/01

The legal mind behind the White House’s war on terror

Jane Mayer

On December 18th, Colin Powell, the former Secretary of State, joined other prominent Washington figures at FedEx Field, the Redskins’ stadium, in a skybox belonging to the team’s owner. During the game, between the Redskins and the Dallas Cowboys, Powell spoke of a recent report in the Times which revealed that President Bush, in his pursuit of terrorists, had secretly authorized the National Security Agency to eavesdrop on American citizens without first obtaining a warrant from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, as required by federal law. This requirement, which was instituted by Congress in 1978, after the Watergate scandal, was designed to protect civil liberties and curb abuses of executive power, such as Nixon’s secret monitoring of political opponents and the F.B.I.’s eavesdropping on Martin Luther King, Jr. Nixon had claimed that as President he had the “inherent authority” to spy on people his Administration deemed enemies, such as the anti-Vietnam War activist Daniel Ellsberg. Both Nixon and the institution of the Presidency had paid a high price for this assumption. But, according to the Times, since 2002 the legal checks that Congress constructed to insure that no President would repeat Nixon’s actions had been secretly ignored.

According to someone who knows Powell, his comment about the article was terse. “It’s Addington,” he said. “He doesn’t care about the Constitution.” Powell was referring to David S. Addington, Vice-President Cheney’s chief of staff and his longtime principal legal adviser. Powell’s office says that he does not recall making the statement. But his former top aide, Lawrence Wilkerson, confirms that he and Powell shared this opinion of Addington.

Most Americans, even those who follow Politics closely, have probably never heard of Addington. But current and former Administration officials say that he has played a central role in shaping the Administration’s legal strategy for the War on terror. Known as the New Paradigm, this strategy rests on a reading of the Constitution that few legal scholars share—namely, that the President, as Commander-in-Chief, has the authority to disregard virtually all previously known legal boundaries, if national security demands it. Under this framework, statutes prohibiting torture, secret detention, and warrantless surveillance have been set aside. A former high-ranking Administration lawyer who worked extensively on national-security issues said that the Administration’s legal positions were, to a remarkable degree, “all Addington.” Another lawyer, Richard L. Shiffrin, who until 2003 was the Pentagon’s deputy general counsel for intelligence, said that Addington was “an unopposable force.”

The overarching intent of the New Paradigm, which was put in place after the attacks of September 11th, was to allow the Pentagon to bring terrorists to justice as swiftly as possible. Criminal courts and military courts, with their exacting standards of evidence and emphasis on protecting defendants’ rights, were deemed too cumbersome. Instead, the President authorized a system of detention and interrogation that operated outside the international standards for the treatment of prisoners of War established by the 1949 Geneva Conventions. Terror suspects would be tried in a system of military commissions, in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, devised by the executive branch. The Administration designated these suspects not as criminals or as prisoners of War but as “illegal enemy combatants,” whose treatment would be ultimately decided by the President. By emphasizing interrogation over due process, the government intended to preëmpt future attacks before they materialized. In November, 2001, Cheney said of the military commissions, “We think it guarantees that we’ll have the kind of treatment of these individuals that we believe they deserve.”

-continued-

Insanity Defense - US Presidential Dictatorship

Chris Floyd

That the United States, once touted as the world’s greatest democracy, is now ruled by a presidential dictatorship is a fact beyond any serious dispute. Indeed, the nation’s political establishment seems to have accepted this revolutionary system with remarkable docility, even as its lineaments are further exposed week by week. The Bush administration no longer bothers to hide the novel theory of government that undergirds its coup, but declares it openly, in court, in Congress, everywhere.

The theory holds that the president has the arbitrary right to ignore any law that he feels is an unconstitutional infringement of his power — and a law is automatically unconstitutional if the president feels it infringes on his power. This neatly squared circle makes Congress irrelevant and removes the judiciary from the loop altogether. Thus, the only effective instrument of power left in the land is the “unitary executive”: the fancy modern name that the legal minions of President George W. Bush have given to the ancient concept of “tyranny.”

The true nature of this presidential dictatorship has been laid bare in a harrowing new book from reporter Ron Suskind, “The One Percent Doctrine.” Suskind, who once coaxed the regime’s defining ethos from an arrogant Bushist — “We’re an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality” — paints a portrait of an administration drunk on lawless power, a junta operated from the shadows by the grim and literally heart-dead husk called Vice President Dick Cheney and his long-time companion in skulduggery, Defense Secretary Don Rumsfeld.

As Suskind notes, it was Cheney who enunciated the certifiably paranoid principle that governs the regime’s behavior: If there is even a 1 percent chance that some state or group might do serious harm to the United States, then America must respond as if that threat were a certainty — with full force, pre-emptively. Facts, truth, law are unimportant; the only thing that matters is the projection of unchallengeable power. “It’s not about our analysis, or finding a preponderance of evidence,” Cheney said. “It’s about our response.”

This is plainly madness. Whether the insanity of the “doctrine” is genuine — i.e., a pathological panic reaction by gutless, pampered fat-cats scared of the slightest murmur from the dusky tribes out there, beyond the iron gates and razor wire of privilege — or if, more likely, it is simply the chosen rationalization for a gang of predators tired of the few restraints that constitutional government has placed on their lust for loot and domination, the end result is the same: The most powerful country in the history of the world is being run by moral degenerates in thrall to a lunatic policy.

God's Rottweiler

God's Rottweiler is taking yet another bite out of science with the announcement that any scientist who engages in stem cell research of any kind will be excommunicated. The same goes for any politician who votes in favor of legislation permitting such research to take place.

"Destroying human embryos is equivalent to an abortion. It is the same thing," said Cardinal Alfonso Lopez Trujillo, head of the Pontifical Council for the Family.

"Excommunication will be applied to the women, doctors and researchers who eliminate embryos [and to the] politicians that approve the law," he said in an interview with Famiglia Christiana, an official Vatican magazine.

Excommunication - "exclusion from the communion" - is like having your decoder ring taken away, you don't get to take part in any more of the church's magic.

And you get to sleep in on Sundays.

Professor Cesare Galli, of the Laboratory of Reproductive Technologies in Cremona, was the first scientist to clone a horse. He's at the top of the Vatican's hit list and he doesn't care.

"I can bear excommunication. I was raised as a Catholic, I share Catholic values, but I am able to make my own judgment on some issues and I do not need to be told by the Church what to do or to think.

"I will be, together with Elena Cattaneo [a scientist working in the University of Milan] the first to be affected by the excommunication and then there are two other labs that I know using imported embryonic stem cells."

Even members of bizarre Catholic cult Opus Dei - one of the Pope's favorites - think Ratzi's edict is ridiculous.

"I am upset and stunned," said Paola Binetti, an Italian senator and Opus Dei member. "It is a mistake to give out the idea that God is angry with Man because he is not in agreement with him."

Pope Benedict XVI has repeatedly made clear his fear of the black arts that we call "science." During his Good Friday sermon this spring he warned of the dangers of progress.

"Lord Jesus, open our eyes: Let us see the filth around us and recognize it for what it is, so that a single tear of sorrow can restore us to purity of heart and the breath of true freedom," he wailed.

Though Ratzi's predecessor, J.P., made his stance against capital punishment clear, there's no word yet if the butchers who practice or vote in favor of that barbaric act will be similarly kicked out of the gang.

Cell phones: As bad as booze

Drivers talking on cell phones are just as inattentive or likely to get into accidents as drunk drivers, even if they're using hands-free devices, according to a study published Thursday in the journal Human Factors.

People conversing on cell phones while behind the wheel performed just as poorly in a driving simulator as those with a blood-alcohol level of 0.08%, the level at which someone can be convicted of drunken driving in Michigan and most states, according to psychologists at the University of Utah.

Both handheld and hands-free cell phones impaired driving, the study found.

That calls into question regulations that prohibit handheld cell phones and permit hands-free devices, according to the researchers.

At any given moment during the day, 10% of drivers on U.S. roads are gabbing away on their wireless devices, according to a 2005 estimate by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

State lawmakers are "not addressing the issue by allowing the use of hands-free cell phones and not handheld," said Frank Drews, coauthor of the study and assistant professor of psychology at the University of Utah, where the study was conducted earlier this year.

"We shouldn't take the mind-set that if you use a headset you would be safer."

-continued-

La Familia De Bush

Jenna Bush is headed to Latin America as the latest member of the Bush Dynasty ordered to "become Hispanic."

She was once the blonde party girl who brought a little fun to the tragic reign of her father. But the fun is over -- the 24-year-old Jenna is on her way to an undisclosed "south of the border" country where she'll be a teacher and find a suitable Hispanic husband.

Her Uncle Jeb got similar orders in 1971. He was sent to León, a big industrial town in the Central Mexican state of Guanajuato. Teaching English in such a place was hardly a glamorous assignment.

Young Jeb Bush married a local Mestizo girl, Columba, and they began breeding the first official "little brown ones" of the Bush Dynasty. Of Jeb and Columba's three children, only one turned out rotten -- the crack addict Noelle Bush -- leaving two possible presidents, older brother and "Latino sex symbol" George "Jorge" P. Bush and little brother Jebby.

Jenna will leave behind her WASP boyfriend, former Karl Rove lackey Henry Hager. There are enough blue-blooded Bushes.

The Family has known the score for half a century, when George H.W. first began "The Bush Family Project" by starting a U.S./Mexican oil business. The American dynasty sees the demographic change of North America as an opportunity -- the same way Prescott Bush saw opportunity in backing the Nazis, or George H.W. Bush saw opportunity in aligning with Wahhabi royalty in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait.

Over the next decades -- as white birth rates dropped, Latin America's population boomed and Hispanics became the fastest-growing demographic in the United States -- "Poppy" Bush made crucial alliances with top members of Mexico's corrupt oil-and-politics society. And then Jeb was sent to Mexico to begin the cross-breeding program.

Writing for the conservative National Review Online website today, John Derbyshire considered this latest chess move:

"So the decades-long Bush family project to bond with Latin America has not brought, and so far as I can see is not likely to bring, any political advantage to the GOP. It's a strange thing. Anyone got explanations?"

While it seems like a "strange thing" on the surface, it makes perfect sense when considered alongside the White House's curiously blind eye to the immigration concerns of the Republican base: The Bush Dynasty isn't worried about "political advantage to the GOP," because the GOP is stuck in the old "United States of America" paradigm.

When George W. Bush and Mexican President Vicente Fox hold their regular meetings, the agenda is quite different. Their program -- starting with Poppy's NAFTA program that was implemented by "son" Bill Clinton -- is the creation of a single North American "super state" that the Bushes intend to rule just as they've ruled the USA.

The offspring of Jenna Bush will be the next generation of Bushista leaders of Estados Unidos de América del Norte.


Even failed offspring like the buffoonish career criminal Neil Bush can serve the Family: His gorgeous daughter Lauren Bush seems to have one of the most demanding demographic jobs in the whole family.

Lauren is a Princeton graduate, Elite fashion model, dedicated vegetarian and PETA sweetheart who simultaneously dates powerful British Jews (the Rothschilds), Ivy League Palestinians, Ralph Lauren's son and even an heir to the British Throne (Prince William).

Killer tomatoes to attack Hep-B and HIV!

Despite all the concerns about Franken-foods, research into genetically modified crops marches on. Scientists now believe they've developed a tomato that battles two of the world's deadliest viruses.

Laboratories are littered with failed attempts to create vaccine for HIV and the vaccine for hepatitis B virus is prohibitively expensive for poorer nations.

Using the soil bacterium Agrobacterium tumefaciens, Rurik Salyaev at the Siberian Institute of Plant Physiology and Biochemistry wove synthetic DNA fragments from HIV and HBV - HBV surface antigen - into tomato plants, reports "New Scientist."

The plants then act as vaccine factories, producing delicious tomatoes rich in virus protein. When the tomatoes are eaten, the presence of the proteins tells the body to start producing antibodies to combat the viruses.

So far, Salyaev has seen high levels of antibodies in the blood of mice being fed a powdered form or the tomatoes. Better still, the antibodies were present on the surface of mucous membranes, where these diseases are often sexually transmitted.

"That's where you want it to be protective," says Rose Hammond of the USDA's Agricultural Research Service in Beltsville, Maryland, which is collaborating with Salyaev's team.

If the vaccines are found to work in humans, they could be given in pill form. Managing your dosage from eating tomatoes would be tricky and expensive.

"You wouldn't have to refrigerate the vaccine, and you wouldn't need to inject it with needles, which pose an infection risk," says Hammond. These would be big advantages in poorer countries. "If an oral vaccine worked out, it would probably be inexpensive and relatively easy to make and administer," says Pat Fast, at the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative in New York.

Pastor's shark found in Mojave!

As you head east out of Los Angeles into the Mojave Desert, the landscape grows cruel and unforgiving. It's no place for the faint of heart. And it's certainly no place for a shark.

Last week, neighbors Richard Doornbos and Al Embry were walking through the huge vacant lot across from Sultana High School when they stumbled upon a deadly Leopard Shark baking in the hot sun. It was obvious the shark had been dumped recently.

Judging from the size, the men assumed it wasn't a pet from someone's fish tank. They speculated that perhaps it was caught during a deep sea fishing expedition, then brought home for a swim in the family pool, only to die in the chlorinated fresh water.

But no one who owns a fishing boat would be dumb enough to allow such a thing to happen. It's not worth the danger, hassle or risk. It's far more likely the shark was a pet.

It seems that like the pet alligator grown too big and then dumped in the sewers of New York, this shark was the hapless victim of cruel and stupid people.

The Leopard Shark has been a favorite of poachers for years. They grow slowly, so they stay cute and small for some time. The cache of having a shark for pet is too much for some to resist, apparently. There's a booming black market in Leopard Sharks, with millions of dollars to be made.

In February, the Department of Justice cracked a ring of poachers led by Pastor Kevin Thompson of the Bay Area Family Church, Holy Spirit Association - Unification Worldwide Church in San Leandro.

For ten years, Thompson and his crew had been using church-owned boats to harvest thousands of the sharks from East Bay waters. Over the years they netted more than $1.2 million selling their booty to companies in Miami, Chicago, Houston; Romulus, Michigan; Milford, Connecticut; the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom.

The indictment against the band of crooks charges that approximately 465 juvenile leopard sharks were sold to companies around the world.

ASU

Started my first class at ASU, it's pretty amazing to be in the big time.