Sunday, June 11, 2006


No dazzling or dull essay this week. House guests and a high school reunion were the focus of attention. Although, the reunion brought up an item worthy of note.

If you'll remember, I wrote a book review of Rock 'n' Roll Radical: The Life & Mysterious Death of Dean Reed by Chuck Laszewski a while back. And Reed, if you recall, was a classmate of mine in high school. As luck would have it, at the reunion get together I was able to spend time reminiscing with a friend I hadn't seen for 40 years who happened to be on the reunion committee and walked to school with Reed on a regular basis, back in the day.

Apparently, the author was willing to come to the reunion for additional background material and to meet some of Reed's contemporaries. But the majority of the committee didn't want to taint the proceedings with memories of a commie.

My old friend and I found it amusing that a person who lived large and interestingly, would be looked down upon by good people whose lives, by comparison, have been pedestrian for the most part. Not having the author in attendance comes under the heading of Missed Opportunities. Fitting, considering the occasion.

Upon seeing people for the first time in 40 to 50 years came as a shock. A bunch of old people . . . myself and a handful of others excluded, of course.

Picks of the Week:

"Both parties selling country to highest bidder!"

"Zeese said, 'We know that both parties are selling the country to the highest bidder. So, in a historical context, where do you want to be? Republicans controlled by corporations? Democrats controlled by corporations? Or, with some independent movement that is going to challenge the lack of representation of the people. I think in a historical context, we know where we want to be...What we do now will have an effect. We make a difference. So, waking people up to make a difference is very important to moving things forward electorally.'"

And the same thing is happening in Canada. The Liberals and Conservatives are both controlled by corporations.

More Democrats want their leaders to stand up against, Bush, war

"Anti-war and anti-Bush fervor is growing among rank and file Democrats, threatening to pull the party to the left and creating a rift between increasingly belligerent activists and the party's leaders in Washington."

The corporate constituents of the Party leaders would not take kindly to this.

Bankruptcy law in shambles: What happens when the credit card industry writes congressional legislation? According to the judges who have to enforce it, anarchy

"Although Sosa had taken the class by the time they got back to court, U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Frank R. Monroe quickly dismissed their case, leaving the Sosa trailer open to foreclosure.

"Monroe was furious, not with the Sosas, but with Congress for tying his hands. 'Can any rational human being make a cogent argument that this makes any sense at all?' he wrote in his opinion. He even accused Congress of colluding with the nation’s credit industry 'to make more money off the backs of consumers in this country.'"

The Medicare drug bill is another example of Congress allowing an industry to write the legislation. Taking care of their constituents . . . one bill at a time.

Lieberman faces showdown over Iraq

"Lieberman, the party's vice presidential nominee in 2000, faces a growing challenge from a political neophyte who has rallied Democrats angered by the senator's enthusiastic backing of the war and willingness to support Republican President George W. Bush on other issues."

Normalizing the unthinkable: John Pilger, Robert Fisk, Charlie Glass, and Seymour Hersh on the failure of the world's press

"Despite the fact that the war in Iraq is reported daily in most U.S. newspapers and networks around the world, Pilger didn’t think the world’s press accurately conveyed the reality of life for Iraqi civilians. 'We get the illusion that we are seeing what might be happening in Iraq. But what we’re getting is a massive censorship by omission; so much is being left out,' he said. 'We have a situation in Iraq where well over 100,000 civilians have been killed and we have virtually no pictures. The control of that by the Pentagon has been quite brilliant. And as a result we have no idea of the extent of civilians suffering in that country.'"

Fear of big battle panics Iraqi city

"The image pieced together from interviews with tribal leaders and fleeing families in recent weeks is one of a desperate population of 400,000 people trapped in the crossfire between insurgents and U.S. forces. Food and medical supplies are running low, prices for gas have soared because of shortages and municipal services have ground to a stop."

US specialists finish al-Zarqawi autopsy

"An Iraqi man raised questions about al-Zarqawi's death, telling AP Television News that he saw U.S. soldiers after the airstrike beating an injured man resembling the dead terrorist until blood flowed from his nose.

"Casey said the claim was 'baloney.'

'''He died while American soldiers were attempting to save his life,' Casey told 'Fox News Sunday.' 'So the idea that there were people beating him is ludicrous.'''

This wasn't Haditha, Casey said . . . winking.

Unreported: The Zarqawi invitation by Greg Palast (must read through)

"General Garner, watching the insurgency unfold from the occupation authority’s provocations, told me, in his understated manner, 'I’m a believer that you don’t want to end the day with more enemies than you started with.'

"But you can’t have a war president without a war. And you can’t have a war without enemies. 'Bring ‘em on,' our Commander-in-Chief said. And Zarqawi answered the call."

So, the noxious headlines and photos of the past week should've read, "We created him, and we got him!" God bless America and its wonderful president.

Father of beheaded man blames Bush, not Zarqawi

"'I don't think that Zarqawi is himself responsible for the killings of hundreds of thousands of people in Iraq,' Berg said in a combative television interview with the U.S. Fox News network. 'I think George Bush is.

"'George Bush is the one that invaded this country, George Bush is the one that destabilized it so that Zarqawi could get in, so that Zarqawi had a need to get in, to defend his region of the country from American invaders.'"

On the one hand we have Michael Berg, religious affiliation unknown. On the other we have George W. Bush, professed Christian who gets his direction from God. Which of them has the truer moral compass?

Cheney's office declares exemption from secrecy oversight

"Thickening the haze of secrecy surrounding the executive branch, the Office of Vice President Dick Cheney has declared itself exempt from a yearly requirement to report how it uses its power to classify secret information."

Blind man's bluff

"For more than six months, a few senators have been fumbling around in the dark, trying to write laws covering a domestic wiretapping operation that remains a mystery to most of them. Their ideas are far from radical; some just want to bring the White House back under the rule of law by making the spying retroactively legal. But Vice President Dick Cheney, who is in charge of both overseeing the spying and covering it up, has now made it crystal clear that the White House does not intend to let anything happen. It's time for the Senate to stop rolling over and start focusing on uncovering the extent of the spying and enforcing the law."

Judge may decided if US eavesdropping is legal

"Oral arguments are set for Monday at U.S. District Court in Detroit at which the American Civil Liberties Union will ask Judge Anna Diggs Taylor to declare the spying unconstitutional and order it halted."

From logistics to turning a blind eye: Europe's role in terror abductions

"The full extent of European collusion with the CIA during operations to abduct terrorism suspects and fly them to countries where they may be tortured is laid bare today by the continent's most authoritative human rights body."

The fax that reveals the US is flying terror suspects to Europe's secret cells

"The discovery of the fax seriously undermines the US’s denial that it has ever used secret detention facilities, breaching international law. It also adds to the pressure for the release of information on 'extraordinary renditions'. These rendition flights see kidnapped terror suspects taken by the CIA to countries where torture is common, such as Uzbekistan. British intelligence has supported this practice and UK airports, particulary Prestwick, have given CIA jets logistical support."

Pentagon limits medical role in questioning

"The military's use of medical professionals in interrogations has drawn fire from human rights groups and medical ethicists. They have charged that doctors have been used unethically at the prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, to force-feed detainees on hunger strikes and provide medical advice to help interrogators."

These quacks must be guided by the Hypocritical Oath.

Big pharma's deadly experiments

"A newly surfaced report alleges that in 1996, drug monolith Pfizer gave an unproven drug to Nigerian children and infants suffering from meningitis -- without the authorization of the Nigerian government. Completed five years ago and coming to light in a May 7 Washington Post investigation, the confidential report, written by a panel of Nigerian health experts, concluded that administering the drug Trovan to 100 patients suffering a deadly strain of meningitis was 'an illegal trial of an unregistered drug.' The drug was ultimately shown to be ineffective. A lawsuit against Pfizer claims some of the children in the trial died and others suffered brain damage."

Human experimentation: A rule gone awry?

"The U.S. EPA’s new Protections for Subjects in Human Research rule, which came into force on 7 April 2006, was born of a need to tighten the ethical guidelines controlling nonmedical human experimentation. The rule was ostensibly designed to offer people greater protection in pesticide toxicity experiments. But just two weeks after its coming into force, a coalition of labor and environmental interest groups filed suit against the EPA, challenging the rule’s legality and ethics. Against a backdrop of claims of industry influence, financial interests, and bipartisan rhetoric, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals in New York City must now determine whether this rule safeguards Americans against unethical experimentation or sells them out to big business."

GOP family values in play. Maybe the notion of Soylent Green isn't that farfetched.

Was Canadian terrorist raid a PR hoax?

"Items are shown on display during a press conference. The bag of fertilizer, right, was not seized during the raid and was there for display purposes only."

It's the same bag shown on US news. Interesting, isn't it, that this raid happened at this time under a pro-Bush regime. Just last week the UK police raided a terrorist bomb making hideout, and it looks questionable as well. Trying to hype the upcoming Iran invasion? No, our Axis of Weasels would never do that.

RCMP behind bomb material

"Speaking in Ottawa at an enrolment ceremony for 225 new Canadian military recruits, Prime Minister Stephen Harper offered his views.

"'As at other times in our history, we are a target because of who we are and how we live, our society, our diversity and our values — values such as freedom, democracy and the rule of law — the values that make Canada great, values that Canadians cherish.'"

BushCo sent Harper these talking points. In this article it says there is no known connection to Al Qaeda. Interestingly, a CBS radio news broadcast said Monday that some US experts said the next terrorist attack in the US won't be as spectacular as 9/11 and would be carried out by people with no Al Qaeda ties using homemade bombs. If you smell a rat, you'd be right. In other words, after carrying out 9/11, BushCo is going to do something different between now and the November elections. Maybe Harper's government will create something north of the border as well. A faux attack de deux.

Police planted evidence: Terrorists' arrest in Toronto was a sting operation

"Aly Hindy, a Toronto imam, said he knew several of the accused because they prayed at his mosque but said they were not terrorists. 'The charges are to keep George Bush happy, that’s all,' he added sardonically. The Globe and Mail did not mention that all incriminating evidence had been planted on the suspects."

Why did Canada's security agencies allow the alleged terror plot to grow?

"Media reports, largely based on government, police and Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) sources, indicate that Canada’s security forces allowed the alleged Toronto terror plot to take shape and grow over many months, even years, and that they did so with the approval of their political superiors.

"These reports, and the record of Canada’s police-security forces, strongly suggest that the alleged terrorists, almost all of them young men and boys, were manipulated by one or more agent provocateurs."

The stealth man cometh

"In a May 24 speech, Harper laid out his vision of the new Canadian government. 'And our spending is focused on areas of federal jurisdiction, like enforcing public security and the surveillance of our borders, toughening criminal justice and re-staffing the RCMP [the Royal Canadian Mounted Police] and rebuilding the armed forces of Canada. When we do spend, we want to spend in ways that reflect the real priorities of ordinary Canadians,' he said."

Same sex diversion: Bush and Harper trying to duck important issues by attacking gays and lesbians

"North of the border, Stephen Harper has enough problems to keep a prime minister busy, although none, thankfully, on the scale of Bush's. Yet there was Harper on Friday announcing that there will be a debate and free vote in Parliament in the fall on (wait for it, please) same-sex marriage."

A solution without a problem

"Marriage is 'under attack' by 'activist judges,' and according to the right wing, the only way to save it is by passing the Marriage Protection Amendment, a federal amendment that would take the unprecedented step of writing discrimination into the U.S. Constitution by banning gay marriage. As the Senate debates -- and possibly votes -- on the amendment this week, President Bush yesterday called on Congress to pass the amendment in order to 'take this issue out of the hands of overreaching judges and put it back where it belongs: in the hands of the American people.' But in reality, the federal marriage amendment (FMA) will 'remove the issue from the democratic process by preventing states from allowing same-sex marriage if they choose.' A constitutional amendment requires approval by two-thirds of Congress and three-fourths of the states. Both liberals and conservatives believe the amendment is unlikely to pass, with some conservatives calling it nothing more than a political ploy. But in the meantime, the right wing continues to push myths to fabricate an urgency that the public isn't buying."

Flag burning and other dubious epidemics

"Thank goodness the Republicans are around to tell me what to worry about. The flag-burning crisis—here in Austin, there’s that pall of smoke rising from the west every morning (it’s from an area called Tarrytown, where they burn hundreds of flags daily)."

Senate rejects amendment on gay marriage

"The Senate rejected a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage by a wide margin Wednesday, delivering a stinging defeat to President Bush and other Republicans who had hoped the issue would rally GOP voters for the November elections."

Police fear bomb has been moved (UK)

"Anti-terrorist police hunting for a suspected chemical-based bomb after a raid on a house in east London fear that the device may have been moved and could still be used.

"Two days after a man was shot as armed officers stormed the house in Lansdown Road, Forest Gate, a search has failed to yield any evidence of a bomb."


Understanding Haditha

"President Bush acknowledged last month that the United States has been paying for the acts committed at Abu Ghraib 'for a long period of time.' But Rep. John Murtha (D-PA), who served for 37 years in the Marines, said recently that the acts committed in Haditha in Nov. 2005 could be 'worse than Abu Ghraib.' Similarly, one Defense Department official said that the alleged massacre by U.S. Marines of at least 24 unarmed Iraqi civilians could be 'really, really bad -- as bad or worse than Abu Ghraib.' Undersecretary of State for Public Diplomacy Karen Hughes, who is engaged in an effort to dispel hostile opinions of the U.S. held by the Muslim world, said, 'The incident makes (the mission) difficult.' The military has launched two separate investigations to explain what happened at Haditha. The investigation that will be completed first is examining whether the Marines in Haditha or their commanders tried to cover-up what happened. A second will examine whether crimes were committed, an investigation that could result in murder charges being brought against U.S. soldiers. Meanwhile, 'senior Iraqi officials demanded an apology and explanation about Haditha from the United States and vowed their own inquiry.' It's time for the administration to acknowledge that the U.S. military presence is preventing progress from being made against the growing insurgency. A responsible redeployment of troops out of Iraq offers the best incentive for Iraqis to take over their country while allowing the U.S. to refocus on a balanced global strategy that will make Americans safer."

Global Eye

"Indeed, as the tormented land flails in agony -- racked by civil war, unbounded corruption, religious repression, infrastructure collapse, the violent subjugation of women and all the other evils introduced by Bush's war of aggression -- U.S. forces seem to be gripped by an increasing frenzy of their own. In just the last three months, a string of incidents has seen Iraqi civilians gunned down by U.S. soldiers in outbursts of fury and panic, as Scotland's Sunday Herald reports. The innocent victims include unarmed women (one of them a pregnant woman trying to reach a hospital), infants, children, the elderly and the mentally handicapped. There will be more such killings brought to light as Iraqis, incensed by the Haditha massacre and emboldened by the new government's apparent willingness to confront their colonial overseers, come forth with new allegations."

Army manual to skip Geneva detainee rule

"The decision could culminate a lengthy debate within the Defense Department but will not become final until the Pentagon makes new guidelines public, a step that has been delayed. However, the State Department fiercely opposes the military's decision to exclude Geneva Convention protections and has been pushing for the Pentagon and White House to reconsider, the Defense Department officials acknowledged."

You're doing a heck of a job, Rummy.

Rumsfeld warns China on defence modernisation

"United States Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld on Saturday warned China for its perceived lack of transparency in defence spending, while showering praise on Pakistan President General Pervez Musharraf for 'courage' and 'leadership' in the global war against terrorism."

Isn't it risky threatening one's banker when foreclosure is imminent?

Emery County: Ex-clerk at center of machine politics

"One thing appears certain: Funk is the only election official in the country skeptical - Diebold would say, credulous - enough to invite computer scientists from Black Box Voting, a Washington state-based nonprofit group critical of electronic voting, to examine one of his units. Data gathered during that examination in tiny Emery County has generated concern by some computer experts, whose findings have been reported in The New York Times and Washington Post. Election officials in California and Pennsylvania have called for an immediate security fix."

Bush - Most hated president ever stole both elections

"The latest polls say Americans now dislike Bush more than any other president including even Tricky Dick. It only took the public five and half year to see through him. "That said, I wonder how long it will take people to accept the news that Bush never won either election and the country is in such a mess that it will take 50 years to get back to how it was when Bush took office."

Public interest in news topics beyond control of mainstream media

"The blogosphere has been abuzz. But in the days since Rolling Stone magazine published a long piece that accused Republicans of widespread and intentional cheating that affected the outcome of the last presidential election, the silence in America's establishment media has been deafening."

Diebold lobbyist donates $10,000 to Blackwell campaign

"Forty-nine of the 85 people who this year have given Republican Ohio secretary of state Kenneth Blackwell the maximum $10,000 allowed an individual donor have done so since May 2. Members of Cincinnati financier Carl Lindner's family led the way by combining for $90,000. The maximum-donor list also includes Mitch Given, who is a registered lobbyist for Diebold Election Systems, one of the vendors of voting machines for election boards in Ohio."

Power grab

"The public scenes of the President surrounded by smiling legislators whom he praises for their wonderful work as he hands out the pens he has used to sign the bill are often utterly misleading. The elected officials aren't informed at that time of the President's real intentions concerning the law. After they leave, the President's signing statements—which he does not issue verbally at the time of signing— are placed in the Federal Register, a compendium of US laws, which members of Congress rarely read. And they are often so technical, referring as they do to this subsection and that statute, that they are difficult to understand."

Bar group will review Bush's legal challenges

"The board of governors of the American Bar Association voted unanimously yesterday to investigate whether President Bush has exceeded his constitutional authority in reserving the right to ignore more than 750 laws that have been enacted since he took office."

Data in nuclear agency workers hacked: lawmaker

"The incident happened last September but top Energy Department officials were not told about it until this week, prompting the chairman of the House of Representatives Energy and Commerce Committee to demand the resignation of the head of the NNSA."
This here Homeland Security scam is workin' real good!

Medical privacy law nets no fines

"In the three years since Americans gained federal protection for their private medical information, the Bush administration has received thousands of complaints alleging violations but has not imposed a single civil fine and has prosecuted just two criminal cases.
"Of the 19,420 grievances lodged so far, the most common allegations have been that personal medical details were wrongly revealed, information was poorly protected, more details were disclosed than necessary, proper authorization was not obtained or patients were frustrated getting their own records."

Imagine our surprise!

Desert cities are living on borrowed time, UN warns

"Desert cities in the US and Middle East, such as Phoenix and Riyadh, may be living on borrowed time as water tables drop and supplies become undrinkable, says a report coinciding with today's world environment day."

Democrats try to save poverty survey

"Democratic lawmakers say Congress will be working in the dark on big issues such as Social Security and Medicaid if the Census Bureau eliminates a unique survey of poverty and income.
"The Bush administration has proposed cutting the Survey of Income and Program Participation. It is the government's only survey that repeatedly questions thousands of people over time about how income changes affect their poverty status, health coverage and use of government services."

American democracy in action . . . "Poverty. what poverty?"

GOP takes aim at PBS funding

"House Republicans yesterday revived their efforts to slash funding for public broadcasting, as a key committee approved a $115 million reduction in the budget for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting that could force the elimination of some popular PBS and NPR programs."

How to watch the World Cup: Politics and war by other means

"The billions who tune into the World Cup are watching a game that, at the highest level, largely negates all advantages of social class or even physical stature -- the combination of speed, skill, imagination and organization required to prevail is a great leveler. But at the World Cup, soccer is far more than a game."

Quotes from and others:

The First Dog

The train was quite crowded, so the Navy Seal walked the Entire lengthlooking for a seat, but the only seat left a well-dressed, middle-aged, woman's pet dog.The war-weary Seal asked, "Ma'am, may I have that seat" The woman just sniffed and said to no one in particular, "Don't be rude. . My dog is the first dog, the pet of the President."

The Navy Seal walked the entire train again, but the only seat left was under that dog."Please, ma'am. May I sit down? I'm very tired." She snorted, "Not only are you rude, you are not patriotic." This time the Navy Seal didn't say a word, he just picked up the dog, tossed it out the train window, and sat down. The woman shrieked, "Someone must defend my honor! Put this peasant in his place!" A gentleman sitting nearby spoke up, "Sir", He said "You soldiers often seem to have a penchant for doing the wrong thing. You believe anything the President tells you. You will sacrifice yourself for an unjust war. And now, sir, you've thrown the wrong bitch out the window.

"Nothing is more important in the face of a war than cutting taxes...’ -- No hammer-having Tom DeLay Link

"There's no issue more important than banning gay marriage." -- Sen. David Vitter Link

"Within hours of Zarqawi’s death, John Murtha was on CNN saying we should leave Iraq and let the Iraqis work out their civil war just the way we worked out ours ... From beyond the grave, Zarqawi can only wish that the Democrats for a pullout had been able to affect their preferred policy already. Then this loathsome man who so needed killing would instead still be working his evil will." -- Rich Lowry, Link

"Frankly, I'm not a big fan of the First Amendment." -- Ann Coulter, Link Can you name any Republican who supports the US Constitution?

"Now Zarqawi has met his end, and this violent man will never murder again..." -- The Murder Monkey, Link When our Worst President Ever is forced to leave the White House, he will never again be able to order our military to attack a helpless, third-world country and steal their oil.

"We have been slandered. Contrary to Ms. Coulter's statements, there was no joy in watching men who we loved burn alive. There was no happiness in telling our children that their fathers were never coming home again. We adored these men and miss them every day..." -- Kristen Breitweiser, Lorie Van Auken, Mindy Kleinberg and Patty Casazza, Link

"The next time a Republican wraps himself in 9/11 or uses a soldier as a prop -- the next time Bush watches a 9/11 movie with 9/11 families, the next time he invites the father of a fallen soldier to join him in throwing out a first pitch, the next time he participates in a staged chat with troops in the field, the next time his party holds its national political convention within shouting distance of ground zero, the next time the mother of a fallen soldier turns up in Laura Bush's box at the State of the Union address, the next time Cheney suggests that questioning the president's Iraq policy somehow equates to undercutting the troops -- remember this: It's the Democrats, not the Republicans, who do this sort of thing. Just ask Ann Coulter." -- Tim Grieve, Link

"How do we know their husbands weren't planning to divorce these harpies? Now that their shelf life is dwindling, they'd better hurry up and appear in Playboy." -- Ann Coulter, on the 9-11 widows, Link

"Where would the GOP be if it didn't have gay men to run against?" -- xarker, Link

"A constitutional amendment should never be undertaken lightly -- yet to defend marriage, our nation has no other choice." -- Dubya, July 10, 2004, Link

"51 percent of Americans disapprove of gay marriage, but 70 percent disapprove of the president, so gay marriage is actually more popular than Bush." -- Jay Leno

"Iraq's a bigger mess than ever, Iran's digging in its heals on nukes. What's 'the decider' focused on? Same-sex marriage." -- CW Link

"Bush is strong, and he doesn't waver. I like that he is for the family, that marriage should only be between a man and woman. And the war, we need to finish what we started." -- Jaren Olsen, 18, so far unable to find time to join Der Monkey's hopeless quagmire, Link

"I'm distrustful of news media portrayals of Dubya because they concentrate too much on the negative and certain small things." -- Ron Craft of Provo, calling Iraq, Katrina and the missing 20 trillion dollars "small things" Link

"I'm not sure of anything he's done, but I like that he's religious - that's really important." -- Danielle Pulsipher, insane at Brigham Young, Link

"God wrote the Bible in English for a reason: So it could be taught in our public schools." -- Stephen Colbert, in his commencement speech at Knox College in Galesburg, Ill., Link


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