Best Viewed with IE or Opera. Sorry, Firefox works, but loses some sidebar layout,
'my profile' and other stuff... Anybody with a fix, please leave a comment. Many thanks in advance.

That said, if you must use Firefox (and I don't blame you, it's become my browser of choice, too)
...get the "IE Tab" extension. This allows you to view problem pages with the IE rendering engine. Very cool!

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Traditional Norms, Animal-style

September 14, 2005
Traditional Norms, Animal-style
Posted by Carl Zimmer

'March of the Penguins,' the conservative film critic and radio host Michael Medved said in an interview, is 'the motion picture this summer that most passionately affirms traditional norms like monogamy, sacrifice and child rearing.' �from an article describing how some religious leaders and conservative magazines are embracing the blockbuster documentary.

Well, it�s 2010, and what a remarkable five years it�s been. The blockbuster success of March of the Penguins in 2005 triggered a flood of wonderful documentaries about animal reproduction, all of which provide us with inspiring affirmation of the correct way to live our lives. Here are just a few of the movies that can guide you on your path�

Dinner of the Redback Spiders: This documentary follows the heartwarming romance between two spiders that ends with the male somersaulting onto the venomous fangs of his mate, his reproductive organs still delivering semen into the female as she devours him.

Toxic Love of the Fruit Flies: In this movie, male fruit flies demonstrate their ingenuity and resourcefulness by injecting poisonous substances during sex that make it less likely that other males will successfully fertilize the eggs of their mates. Sure, these toxins cut the lifespan of females short, but who said life was perfect?

Harem of the Elephant Seals: Meet Dad: a male northern elephant seal who spends his days in bloody battles with rivals who would challenge his right to copulate with a band of females�but doesn�t life a finger (or a flipper) to help raise their kids.

Step-fathers of the Serengeti: Guess who�s moving in? It�s a male lion taking over a pride of females. Watch him affirm traditional norms by killing their cubs so that they can father his own offspring.

Funky Love of the Bonobos: The sexual shenanigans of some of our closest living ape relatives. Male-female, female-female, and on and on it goes. Warning: Definitely not suitable for children.


read original here for hotlinks and comments:


>>> Print Article(always)...Read More(sometimes)

Heritage Foundation Capitalizes on Katrina

Here's a scarey little laundry list for you. Gotta love those Republican think tanks. They aren't ones to take their eyes off the ball. --pseudolus

Washington, DC's premier right wing think tank puts forward a laundry list of conservative proposals to rebuild the Gulf Coast

Drill the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, suspend environmental regulations including the Clean Water Act and the Clean Air Act, suspend prevailing wage labor laws, promote vouchers and school choice, repeal the estate tax and copiously fund faith-based organizations. These are just some of the recommendations a trio of hearty Heritage Foundation senior management officials are making to best facilitate the rebuilding of the Gulf Coast.

read the rest...

>>> Print Article(always)...Read More(sometimes)

Music that Bush clearly doesn't hear ...

McMurty's _Live in Aught-Three_ (with the Heartless Bastards) has become a fave of mine...he's a hellacious good songwriter and his music ain't too shabby either.
Music that Bush clearly doesn't hear
By John Nichols
September 15, 2005

Last spring, in an attempt to make President Bush appear to be more of a regular guy, the White House released a list of the tunes the commander in chief was listening to on his iPod.

The list featured mostly country, alt-country and blues artists, including John Fogerty, John Hiatt, Alan Jackson, George Jones and Stevie Ray Vaughan.

Perhaps the most interesting name on Bush's listening list was that of James McMurtry, the brilliant Austin-based songwriter who used his 2004 live album to poke fun at the president's attempts to fake a Texaser-than-thou accent.

McMurtry responded to the news that Bush's playlist included his song "Valley Road" by politely suggesting that the president might not be the most serious listener of his songs, which frequently detail the damage done to Americans by rampaging corporatists and an uncaring government.

In case there was any doubt about the differences between George W. Bush's worldview and James McMurtry's, the musician posted a savage critique of the president and his pals, "We Can't Make It Here," on his Web site shortly before last year's election. That song, a haunting reflection on corporate globalization and wars of whim, was the highlight of McMurtry's set last month when he played at Camp Casey, the protest vigil organized outside the president's Crawford, Texas, ranch by Cindy Sheehan, whose son Casey was killed in Iraq.

McMurtry did not write the song to cheer on Sheehan's demand that the president meet with her, but it sure sounded as if he had when he sang out its cry for attention to the working poor who have lost their jobs to fair trade and their children to a war founded on lies.

Written in the voice of a textile worker whose job was lost when a factory was shuttered and the production sent overseas, McMurtry closes his opus by asking:

Should I hate a people for the shade of their skin
Or the shape of their eyes or the shape I'm in
Should I hate 'em for having our jobs today
No I hate the men sent the jobs away
I can see them all now, they haunt my dreams
All lily white and squeaky clean
They've never known want, they'll never know need
Their sh- don't stink and their kids won't bleed
Their kids won't bleed in the damn little war
And we can't make it here anymore
Will work for food
Will die for oil
Will kill for power and to us the spoils
The billionaires get to pay less tax
The working poor get to fall through the cracks
Let 'em eat jellybeans let 'em eat cake
Let 'em eat sh-, whatever it takes
They can join the Air Force, or join the Corps
If they can't make it here anymore
And that's how it is
That's what we got
If the president wants to admit it or not
You can read it in the paper
Read it on the wall
Hear it on the wind
If you're listening at all
Get out of that limo
Look us in the eye
Call us on the cell phone
Tell us all why

George Bush refused to look Cindy Sheehan in the eye. And James McMurtry won't be singing at the White House anytime soon. But he will be playing at 9:30 p.m. Saturday at Madison's Cafe Montmartre. Don't miss the man whose songs speak more truth about America in five minutes than George W. Bush has in five years.

John Nichols is associate editor of The Capital Times. E-mail:

Published: 7:43 AM 9/15/05

The Capital Times

>>> Print Article(always)...Read More(sometimes)

We Can't Make It Here

Vermont Independent for the U.S. Senate, Bernie Sanders, adopts "We Can't Make it Here" as his 2006 campaign song.

�Whether you�re a veteran, a worker who has lost a job due to outsourcing, or a young mother trying to get by, this song tells it like it is. How refreshing to have an artist connect with the realities facing working folks. Thank you James.�
~Bernie Sanders

Bernie will be introducing James at Higher Ground in South Burlington, Vermont, October 25th To learn more, visit Bernie Sanders, Leading the fight for America�s Working Families
James McMurtry on the Web

pseudolus recommends you download a free copy of this great tune:

>>> Print Article(always)...Read More(sometimes)

Blah3 - Shorter New York Times: FEMA Still Sucks.

read a summary of the NYT article here:
click me

>>> Print Article(always)...Read More(sometimes)

Tom the Dancing Bug

A Warning From the Big Apple to the Big Easy

Just mere days after the fall of the Trade Center, then-Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Christie Todd Whitman declared, �I am glad to reassure the people of New York . . . that their air is safe to breathe and their water is safe to drink.� Lower Manhattan residents were directed by the agency to clean any World Trade Center dust in their homes and offices with �a wet rag or sponge.�

Yet even as those words were leaving Ms. Whitman�s lips, the building that houses EPA�s New York City office was evacuated and underwent a professional cleaning and abatement for harmful materials. It was later revealed that its own testing showed high levels of heavy metals, asbestos, and other harmful materials in the air. In short, while the EPA knew the area was unsafe, people were rushed back downtown and possibly exposed to a toxic and carcinogenic dustbowl in virtually every interior they entered.

read the whole thing:
click me

>>> Print Article(always)...Read More(sometimes)

One Degree of Separation

"jurrasicpork" calls Cheney on his singleminded hate of the left.--pseudolus

One Degree of Separation
There's a new Hollow Man in town, Kevin, and his name's Dick Cheney.

More has been made about an ER doctor telling Dick Cheney in Gulfport, MS last week to go fuck himself than on Cheney�s own dismissive comments. So little attention has been paid to it, in fact, that I feel some amplification is needed on VP Halliburton�s, �He must be a friend of John� er, ah, never mind.�

Many a true word, they say, is spoken in jest.

And in Cheney�s lame and abortive ad-lib was a rare, unguarded glimpse at the snarling, hyper-vigilant junk yard dog straining at a chain with the one weak link that passes for the Republican mind, an invaluable, barely-existent synecdoche with the half-life of darmstadtium that taps into the larger, more far-reaching (grasping?) Republican agenda, its fears and concerns that greatly exceeds the minimal, transitory effect of Cheney�s ersatz joke.

Obviously, the senior partner of the Presidency was about to say, �John Kerry� then, too late, thought better of it lest he be revealed as a loathsome party Uberhack who makes partisan political responses to a well-justified verbal assault that was nothing if not personally motivated and during a time of national crisis.

HOT! read the rest:
click here

>>> Print Article(always)...Read More(sometimes)

Friday, September 16, 2005

I Ain't No Racist!

Redneck beaten stupid over T-shirt

Fleming senior wears racist T-shirt to school

Incident triggered fight; no criminal charges filed. He has left the school.

By BRAD SCHMIDT, The Times-Union

"What's up with your shirt?"

Those are the words a former senior at Fleming Island High School remembers hearing as he walked from his fifth-period algebra class toward the gym. The 18-year-old, who is not being identified due to his family's concerns of safety, had just taken off his Dixie Outfitter T-shirt, exposing a highly offensive shirt.

"What about it?" replied the 18-year-old, skinny and white.

"Well, you know it's racial," said a black student, now in a group confronting the 18-year-old.

"Yeah. So?"

The undershirt the white student wore had a confederate flag on the front with the words "Keep it flying." On the back, a cartoon depicted a group of hooded Klansmen standing outside a church, waving to two others who had just pulled away in a car reading "Just married."

Two black men in nooses were being dragged behind.

Upset by the shirt, a 17-year-old black student hit the white student in the head. A crowd of about 100 students gathered to watch the Aug. 29 fight before authorities intervened.

The white student said he left the school following a three-day suspension. He said he was supposed to go back on a Friday but school officials called and asked his family to keep him home until the following week because "the school's in an uproar."


"I'm not racist or anything," he said. "It's just, some people I hate, some people I don't get along with. And black people just happen to be the ones because they think they're better than everyone else."

The student said his parents were shocked at his decision, Mom dismayed and Dad disappointed.

"I just can't believe you'd wear a shirt like that to school," he said was their reaction. "My mom was kind of upset about it. My dad was like, whatever, it's your life."


"I'm a redneck," he said. "But no, I'm not racist."


>>> Print Article(always)...Read More(sometimes)

Pension Deficit Is Expected to Surge

Pension Deficit Is Expected to Surge

The nation's insurer for employee plans could see its shortfall quadruple in 10 years.

From Associated Press

WASHINGTON - The government agency that guarantees worker pensions could see its deficit quadruple over the next decade, jeopardizing the benefits of millions of retirees, a new report says.

In a report made public Thursday, the Congressional Budget Office estimated that the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp.'s shortfalls would reach nearly $87 billion over the next decade, up from about $23 billion in 2004.

read more:

<a href=,1,4564560.story?coll=la-headlines-business>click here</a>

>>> Print Article(always)...Read More(sometimes)

Thursday, September 15, 2005



As Howard Fineman, Adam Nagourney, Rick Berke, Jeff Greenfield, Elizabeth Wilner, Ron Brownstein, Matt Cooper, Mike Abramowitz, and Ken Mehlman would say, "How is the situation President Bush faces tonight different than on all other nights since 9/11?":

He has never seen his poll numbers take this kind of hit among Republicans before.

He has never seen his poll numbers on "strong leader" and "can handle a crisis" take such a hit before.

He has never seen his efforts to build the Republican Party among African-Americans be so thoroughly undermined before.

He has never been rolled by Nancy Pelosi before.

He has never been without Dr. Rice or Ambassador Hughes down the hall during a crisis before.

He has never had two open-ended spending commitments of tens of billions of dollars before.

He has never had to take "responsibility" for such death-infused tragedy before.

He has never had to rethink whether he has put fully qualified people in critical jobs before.

He has never had so many well-meaning Republican strategists and Administration aides whole-heartedly agreeing that the White House was too slow off the mark in dealing with a crisis before.

He has never had to dial back on his view that "it's also important for me to go on with my life, to keep a balanced life" � at least in public � before.

He has never had to be dependent on an inexperienced Democratic governor of a poor state for his own political health before.

He has never faced the possibility of long-term blame for something (the rebuilding of New Orleans and other devastated areas) that is to a large extent beyond his control � and which he will say tonight should be left largely to the choices of local people � before.

He has never had to be so deeply self-conscious about tossing off sarcastic remarks, half-baked cracks, and casual comments before.

He has never been so denied the cushion of his nonchalant confidence and relaxed superiority before.

He has never been perceived as such a potential liability by others in his party looking to hold their seats before.

He has never lacked The Other � an enemy to demonize and to contrast with himself and his policies in the eyes of the media and the public before.

(Note to Rush Limbaugh: out of professional courtesy, before you attack us (wrongly) for being liberally biased or anti-Bush, we would ask you to do three things: [1] consider each item one-by-one and ask yourself if you really think what we wrote is wrong; [2] ask the White House if they disagree with any of this � except that Pelosi item; [3] call us to discuss it. Then: trash us.)

President Bush is scheduled to depart the White House at 1:45 pm ET to head to the Gulf Coast region for his fourth trip since Hurricane Katrina came ashore. He will make a stop in Mississippi before heading on to New Orleans where he will give his address the nation this evening.

The speech will begin at 9:02 pm ET. ABC's entire prime-time lineup in the Eastern and Central time zones will be about the hurricane, starting with a Katrina "tick-tock" presented by ABC's Ted Koppel at 8:00 pm ET, the President's address anchored by Koppel at 9:00 pm ET, and a "Primetime Live" about the state of disaster preparedness in other cities following the President's speech.


>>> Print Article(always)...Read More(sometimes)

Social Security a dead issue for next 2 election cycles

(September 15, 2005 -- 03:26 PM EDT // link // print)

Rep. Tom Reynolds (R-NY), chairman of the NRCC (the GOP House reelection committee), tells his fellow House Republicans to abandon Social Security phase-out for the rest of this Congress. And since they won't do it in this Congress, you better believe they won't try it in the next since the GOP doesn't want to make it the centerpiece issue of the next presidential campaign.

As one senior GOP lawmaker told Roll Call (sub. req.), "It's over." As indeed it is. Not forever. But at least for the next few years.

But where, I have to ask, is the affirmative effort on the part of Democrats to make this attempted betrayal of the public trust into a cudgel for the 2006 elections? Where is it? I don't see it. And I keep up on politics.

It shouldn't be hard. Many, many Republicans who will be in competitive races next year came out for this disastrous idea, which is now deeply unpopular pretty much across the country. And with very few exceptions -- I'll give Santorum his due on this one -- they ran away from like scurrying rats as soon as it became clear that the president couldn't protect them and the public wouldn't stand for it.

Their own actions and words convict them twice-over. They stood up for terrible policy and then they switched or ran away from their position as soon as it was expedient. So they're happy to sell out their constituents and lack principle. They're flipfloppers.

Are we only willing to win the defensive phase of this battle?

Beyond belief.
-- Josh Marshall


>>> Print Article(always)...Read More(sometimes)


If you are serious about customizing your Windows system - you need PowerPro!

This is a truly powerful little utility that will will make you change the way you feel about Windows. With this you can create toolbars for launching macros and apps. Schedule anything! Control window appearances, locations, sizes. Maintain orderly desktop! Run commands upon appearance of a window. Automatically push buttons on screen, you know, those dialog boxes that always pop up, asking you the same thing again and again. Well, you can teach PowerPro to answer those dialogs for you!

The basic program is pretty easy to learn and use. Getting into the scripting abilities can become daunting as you find ever more clever things that it can do. It is a work of love and totally free! A couple of very useful user gropups exsit to help you anytime. And you should see the tricks some folks can do.

home page to

>>> Print Article(always)...Read More(sometimes)

Things to Get Used to in the Next Three Years | The Huffington Post

The Blog | Adam McKay:

As the brackish poisonous flood waters finally recede under the aid of man-made pumps in New Orleans, many things are becoming clearer (note: this will be the most overused opening line for Op-Ed pieces in the next week. Let's count how many times we see it. The over-under is 28.) The first slowly revealing truth is that the Bush administration will get away with their absolutely pathetic and incompetent response to this disaster.

Two days before Katrina hit ground, me and some friends were talking at work about how vulnerable New Orleans is and how this hurricane could really devastate the city. Somehow we, a bunch of Hollywood flunkies on the set of a silly comedy, knew this and the Bush administration did not.

It was the same with Bin Laden. After the bombing of the U.S.S. Cole I remember sitting with friends in a New York bar talking about the rise of the extremist threat in the Middle East and wondering if they would attack us here. And, keep in mind, Bush went to Yale and I went to Temple University. I still watch Sponge Bob with my five-year-old daughter and laugh heartily at it. Dick Cheney does not watch Sponge Bob. Though Condi did watch Spamalot.

So what were they doing that a bunch of dudes on a movie set knew this was coming and they did not? Obviously we're not that smart and the truth is half the country was having the same conversation. So what the frig? It's a really, really important question. Yet once again forty percent of the country calls these queries disgusting or unpatriotic. Maybe the sound of the word "query" makes them feel sexually uncomfortable.

read the rest at ...

The Huffington Post

>>> Print Article(always)...Read More(sometimes)

AutoHotkey - Free Mouse and Keyboard Macro Program with Hotkeys and AutoText

AutoHotkey is a free, open-source utility for Windows. With it, you can: Automate almost anything by sending keystrokes and mouse clicks. You can write a mouse or keyboard macro by hand or use the macro recorder. Create hotkeys for keyboard, joystick, and mouse. Virtually any key, button, or combination can become a hotkey. Expand abbreviations as you type them. For example, typing "btw" can automatically produce "by the way". Create custom data entry forms, user interfaces, and menu bars. See GUI for details. Remap keys and buttons on your keyboard, joystick, and mouse. Run existing AutoIt v2 scripts and enhance them with new capabilities. Convert any script into an EXE file that can be run on computers that don't have AutoHotkey installed.

AutoHotkey unleashes the full potential of your keyboard, joystick, and mouse. For example, in addition to the typical Control, Alt, and Shift modifiers, you can use the Windows key and the Capslock key as modifiers. In fact, you can make any key or mouse button act as a modifier.

Other Features:

-Change the volume, mute, and other settings of any soundcard.
-Make any window transparent, always-on-top, or alter its shape.
-Use a joystick or keyboard as a mouse.
-Monitor your system. For example, close unwanted windows the moment they appear.
-Retrieve and change the clipboard's contents, including file names copied from an Explorer window.
-Disable or override Windows' own shortcut keys such as Win+E and Win+R.
-Alleviate RSI with substitutes for Alt-Tab (using keys, mouse wheel, or buttons).
-Customize the tray icon menu with your own icon, tooltip, menu items, and submenus.
-Display dialog boxes, tooltips, balloon tips, and popup menus to interact with the user.
-Perform scripted actions in response to system shutdown or logoff.
-Detect how long the user has been idle. For example, run CPU intensive tasks only when the user is away.
-Automate game actions by detecting images and pixel colors.
-Read, write, and parse text files more easily than in other languages.
-Perform operation(s) upon a set of files that match a wildcard pattern.
-Work with the registry and INI files.


Getting started might be easier than you think. [I've been using this for a few weeks, now, and it is pretty sweet. It is derived from the "AutoIt" scripting language and is pretty easy to learn. It's logical and quite powerful. I have pretty much eliminated my use of QuicKeys program which was similar but a bear to edit.]

Go there


>>> Print Article(always)...Read More(sometimes)

Night Light: Is the SBA the Next Scandal?

And the hits just keep on coming! Better get used to that for the next few years.

(suggestions that SBA mismanaging 9/11 funds, concealing a bad audit)

According to the Associated Press, Bush's Small Business Administration not only mismanaged the disbursement of funds meant for small businesses harmed by September 11, but publicized one audit while concealing another in order to make their record appear better than it actually was.

Republican Senator Olympia Snowe calls the situation "nothing short of an outrage." And what did SBA head Hector Barretoo do before he got this job? Why, he raised a lot of money for Republican campaigns. Obviously the SBA doesn't play the same life-saving role FEMA does, but there are echoes of the FEMA scandal in the mismanagement of funds meant to relieve those who suffered from a disaster.

From the AP:

Facing a congressional inquiry, the Small Business Administration said Tuesday it believes it followed the law during its nearly $5 billion lending effort to help small companies recover from the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

To make its case, the agency distributed one audit that praised some of its work while omitting a second report by the same congressional auditing agency that criticized the SBA's post-Sept. 11 relief work.

read the rest...
click here

>>> Print Article(always)...Read More(sometimes)

The Reconstruction of New Oraq

Corporations of the Whirlwind
The Reconstruction of New Oraq
By Tom Engelhardt and Nick Turse

"At times it is hard to ignore the comparisons between Baghdad (where I was less than a month ago and have spent more of the last two years) and New Orleans: The anarchy, the looting, some of it purely for survival, some of it purely opportunistic. We watched a flatbed truck drive by, a man on the back with an M-16 looking up on the roofs for snipers, as is common in Iraq. Private security contractors were stationed outside the Royal St. Charles Hotel; when asked if things were getting pretty wild around the area, one of them replied, �Nope. It's pretty Green Zone here.'" (David Enders, Surviving New Orleans, Mother Jones on-line)

In the decade before September 11th, 2001, "globalization," a word now largely missing-in-action, was on everyone's lips and we constantly heard about what a small, small world this really was. In the aftermath of Katrina, that global smallness has grown positively claustrophobic and particularly predatory. Iraq and New Orleans now seem to be morphing into a single entity, New Oraq, to be devoured by the same limited set of corporations, let loose and overseen by the same small set of Bush administration officials. In George Bush's new world of globalization, first comes the destruction and only then does one sit down at the planetary table to sup.

In recent weeks, news has been seeping out of Iraq that the "reconstruction" of that country is petering out, because the money is largely gone. According to American officials, reported T. Christian Miller of the Los Angeles Times last week, "The U.S. will halt construction work on some water and power plants in Iraq because it is running out of money for projects." A variety of such reconstruction projects crucial to the everyday lives of Iraqis, the British Guardian informs us, are now "grinding to a halt" as "plans to overhaul the country's infrastructure have been downsized, postponed or abandoned because the $24bn budget approved by Congress has been dwarfed by the scale of the task."

Water and sanitation projects have been particularly hard hit; while staggering sums, once earmarked for reconstruction, are being shunted to private security firms whose hired-guns are assigned to guard the projects that can't be done. With funds growing scarce, various corporations closely connected to the Bush administration, having worked the Iraqi disaster for all it was worth (largely under no-bid, cost-plus contracts), are now looking New Orleans-ward.

click here

>>> Print Article(always)...Read More(sometimes)

Caption this...

"OK. Who's going to take 'responsibilty' for this mess in Iraq?"

>>> Print Article(always)...Read More(sometimes)

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Depraved...and indifferent

Tears of the Crocodile - Compassion for the Camera


The Republican Congress (and their conservative Democratic quislings) have decided to show a little compassion for the victims of Bush Administration incompetence and nature's revenge by including a waiver in the bankruptcy bill to exempt them from losing their shirts along with their houses. They've also decided to postpone cuts in Medicaid, so as not to gut what little public healthcare remains in Louisiana during this crisis.

Notice, though, that they're only doing this for the tragic victims who are filling prime time TV screens. They aren't canceling the bankruptcy bill, which is a conservative and banker's wet dream long in coming. And they aren't canceling plans for slashing Medicaid...just postponing them.

This isn't compassion. This is covering your ass while people are upset about a national tragedy.

After all, why would the person whose house was destroyed by a tornado, or an overflowing creek, or who lost a job because her or his company had decided to move operations to Mexico or China, be any less deserving of bankruptcy protection than someone who was made homeless and/or jobless by a hurricane with a given name? Why should a poor person in New York City or Tonopah, Nevada without resources or insurance have to endure cuts in Medicaid assistance while a victim of the winds and flooding form Katrina in New Orleans or Mississippi is given such help? There is no reason, of course. It's all about the politicians looking good while the reporters in the corporate media temporarily pay attention to the suffering in the midst of American plenty.

Once this crisis has passed, as it eventually will, and once the media have moved on to the next celebrity scandal, these political shysters and image mavens will be back to screwing the poor and the working class again in the interests of their corporate patrons. When nobody's looking at the suffering that is caused by Congress's actions, the bankruptcy bill will put hundreds of thousands of unfortunate families into permanent peonage, and the Medicaid cuts will consign millions to third-rate or no medical care.

Unless we start demanding better news coverage, and unless we vote the bastards out next year.

By the way, here's a thought to ponder:

According to a recent poll, one in five Americans, or 20 percent of the adult population, believes that the sun revolves around the earth. At latest count, only 38 percent of the American public supports President bush. Assuming-and I think this is a reasonable assumption to make-that all of those who believe the biblical notion of geocentricism vote Republican, this would mean that more than half of little bush's backers-52. 7% to be exact-don't even know that the earth orbits the sun. The most powerful nation on earth, that is to say, is being run, at least indirectly, by a bunch of total yahoos, and a fair number of them are in policy making positions in Washington these days. Now don't you feel better? No wonder they've made such a hash of it in Louisiana.

Dave Lindorff is the author of Killing Time: an Investigation into the Death Row Case of Mumia Abu-Jamal. His new book of CounterPunch columns titled "This Can't be Happening!" is published by Common Courage Press. Information about both books and other work by Lindorff can be found at

He can be reached at:

Dave Lindorff: Compassion for the Camera

>>> Print Article(always)...Read More(sometimes)

A Major Test for FEMA And Its Contracting Crew

A Major Test for FEMA And Its Contracting Crew
Sheer Scale of Katrina Awards a Concern

By Griff Witte and Charles R. Babcock
Washington Post Staff Writers
Tuesday, September 13, 2005; A01

The Federal Emergency Management Agency will receive most of the $62 billion Congress has approved for Hurricane Katrina relief efforts, setting up a major test of the agency's ability to distribute the cash and monitor the private contractors who will do much of the work.

FEMA's track record in managing much smaller amounts of money has raised concerns. It made millions of dollars in questionable payments to South Florida residents after Hurricane Frances last year, investigators found, in part because the agency's contractors had hired inspectors who lacked training or oversight. A recent audit by the Homeland Security Department's inspector general questioned whether FEMA's acquisition workforce was qualified.

The agency has already begun awarding hundreds of millions of dollars in no-bid Katrina contracts under loosened government rules designed to get relief and rebuilding efforts underway quickly. As the money begins to flow, some fear the agency could become overwhelmed. "They've never spent anything even remotely on this scale. So the real question is going to be what kind of controls are in place," said Bill Jenkins, who monitors FEMA for the Government Accountability Office. "There are going to be fraudsters coming out of the woodwork."

Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), chair of the Senate's Homeland Security Committee, said through an aide yesterday that she is considering creating a special inspector general to oversee and audit Katrina-related spending.

read the rest...
click here

>>> Print Article(always)...Read More(sometimes)

Did FEMA "Buy" Votes for Bush?

by William Fisher

As Michael Brown resigned his post as head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Monday following a relentless beating in the press for his mismanagement of Hurricane Katrina relief and rescue efforts, details on FEMA's past missteps began emerging.

Possibly the most egregious of these largely under-reported fiascos was the revelation that FEMA made 31 million dollars in questionable payments to residents of Florida's Miami-Dade County for damage from Hurricane Frances in September 2004, even though the storm caused only minimal damage in that area.

J. Robert Hunter, director of insurance for the Consumer Federation of America, who was a top federal flood-insurance official in the 1970s and 1980s, said that the Frances overpayments "are questionable given the timing of the election and Florida's importance" as a battleground state. Hunter was Texas insurance commissioner in the 1990s under then-Gov. Ann W. Richards, a Democrat.

Homeland Security sources said after the hurricane that Brown and his allies promoted him as a successor to Tom Ridge as Homeland Security secretary because of their contention that he helped deliver Florida to Pres. George W. Bush by efficiently responding to the Florida hurricanes.

According to a report by the Department of Homeland Security's Inspector General (IG), more than eight million dollars was given to 4,300 people to rent temporary housing even though they had not asked for the money, and in many cases their homes were almost completely undamaged by the storm,

The inspector general's report was made public last May at a hearing of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee.

The Committee's chairperson, Sen. Susan Collins, a Maine Republican, said "FEMA paid to replace thousands of televisions, air conditioners, beds and other furniture, as well as a number of cars, without receipts, or proof of ownership or damage, and based solely on verbal statements by the residents, sometimes made in fleeting encounters at fast-food restaurants."

"It was a 'pay first, ask questions later' approach," Collins added.

She said, "The inspector general's report identifies a number of significant control weaknesses that create a potential for widespread fraud, erroneous payments and wasteful practices." Miami-Dade officials described the damage there from Hurricane Frances's heavy rain and winds of up to 45 mph as "minimal."

Brown defended his agency at the Senate hearing. He said FEMA mistakenly paid out only a handful of undeserving claims and made some other bureaucratic errors.

A college roommate of FEMA's previous director with little emergency preparedness experience, Brown was replaced last week by a Coast Guard officer to head the agency's role in directing the Katrina relief effort.

Commenting on FEMA's performance during Hurricane Katrina, Beau Grosscup, professor of international relations at California State University at Chico, told IPS, it was "another lesson in the class and political nature of Homeland Insecurity".

The Inspector General said his office started investigating the matter after the Sun-Sentinel newspaper in Fort Lauderdale published articles alleging that FEMA massively overpaid many Miami-Dade residents after Frances.

The IG said one case of overpayment involved 10 million dollars that was used to replace household items in Miami-Dade partly because of a nationwide FEMA policy requiring that the replacement cost of a large bedroom suite be paid even though only a bed is damaged.

Homeland Security sources said at the time that FEMA's efforts to distribute funds quickly after Frances and three other hurricanes that hit the key political battleground state of Florida were undertaken with an eye on the upcoming 2004 presidential election.

The IG report said program controls for the administration of FEMA funds needed to be tightened and that additional guidelines and criteria were needed to ensure the agency's overall effectiveness.

Some of the IG's other findings include:

FEMA awarded 10.2 million dollars to repair or replace household room items for Miami-Dade County residents. However, the procedures used by FEMA to award funds for those items did not limit assistance to only disaster-related losses as required by federal law and regulations.

FEMA awarded 720,403 dollars to 228 applicants for personal property items based upon the applicants' verbal representations of their losses.

Contract inspectors were not required to validate how damages to automobiles were disaster-related. The amount authorized for automobile replacement, particularly for older vehicles, was generally far in excess of the market replacement costs or an amount needed to acquire comparable transportation.

FEMA awarded 192,592 dollars for miscellaneous items to applicants in Miami-Dade County based only upon the verification that such items were purchased -- not whether a disaster-related need existed.

As of February 2005, FEMA awarded 13.1 million dollars to Miami-Dade applicants for rental assistance and home repair and replacement.

FEMA provided 82,764 dollars in expedited assistance to 114 applicants who were not, or may not have been eligible. Those applicants reportedly had insurance, did not report a need for housing, or reported that their homes were not damaged.

Overall, more timely reviews of inspections might have prevented approximately 24.4 million dollars of ineligible or excessive payments that FEMA has made throughout the United States and its territories from August 2004 to February 2005.

Meanwhile, Rep. Henry Waxman, the top Democrat on the House of Representatives Appropriations Committee, warned against authorizing the government to raise the "micro-purchase" threshold from 15,000 to 250,000 dollars for purchases relating to relief and recovery from Hurricane Katrina.

In a letter to the committee chairman, California Republican Jerry Lewis, Waxman said, "Raising this threshold would mean that any federal employee with a government-issued credit card could buy up to a 250,000 dollars in goods or services in a single purchase. There would be no limit to the number of such purchases."

"The federal response to Hurricane Katrina has been woefully inadequate to date. We should not now compound those problems by creating a situation which will inevitably lead to further waste, fraud, and abuse," he wrote.

� 2005 IPS - Inter Press Service

click here

>>> Print Article(always)...Read More(sometimes)

Google Earth threatens democracy

By Lester Haines
Published Tuesday 13th September 2005 13:54 GMT

The recent news that South Korea is to take the US to task over Google Earth images which expose its military installations to close Commie scrutiny has provoked a mini stampede of other peace-loving nations eager to protect their assets from prying eyes.

Enter stage right Thailand, which says it may ask Google to 'block images of important state buildings vulnerable to attack'. Armed forces spokeschap Major General Weerasak Manee-in told Reuters: 'We are looking for possible restrictions on these detailed pictures, especially state buildings. I think pictures of tourist attractions should do, not crucial places which could threaten national security.'

Well, we went and had a quick shufti at some Thai military installations, and took the opportunity to scour the Earth's surfaces for other Google satellite data which might threaten Our Way of Life. We restricted ourselves to stuff which lends itself to perusal, mostly air force bases, because (trust us on this one) you can easily waste a whole day looking for Russian ICBM installations."

read the rest, see the pictures...

>>> Print Article(always)...Read More(sometimes)

102nd use for a dead cat...

A German inventor says he's found a way to make cheap diesel fuel out of dead cats.

Dr Christian Koch, 55, from Kleinhartmannsdorf, said his method uses old tyres, weeds and animal cadavers.

They are heated up to 300 Celsius to filter out hydrocarbon which is then turned into diesel by a catalytic converter.

He said the resulting "high quality bio-diesel" costs just 15 pence per litre.

Koch said the cadaver of a fully grown cat can produce 2.5 litres of fuel - meaning around 20 cats are needed for a full tank.

He said: "I tank my car with my own diesel mixture and have driven it for 105,000 miles without any problems."

Annelise Krauss of the Dresden Animal Protection Association blasted Koch's new diesel though, saying: "This is as bad as experimenting on animals."


  • >>> Print Article(always)...Read More(sometimes)
  • Stocks close lower amid dour economic data

    Updated: 5:59 p.m. ET Sept. 14, 2005

    NEW YORK - Concerns about a potentially weakening economy left stocks lower at Wednesday�s close, even as it appeared demand for gasoline and oil has fallen.

    Investors curbed talk of a 1970s-style energy crunch caused by Hurricane Katrina after the Department of Energy�s data arm said U.S. demand for oil and gas fell in July due to higher prices. Still, crude oil futures were higher on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

    Wall Street was concerned with nearly flat industrial output figures from the Federal Reserve � due to Katrina � and a 2.1 percent drop in retail sales. However, the Commerce Department noted that with auto sales removed, other retail sales rose 1 percent, though much of that was due to a rise in gasoline prices.
    read the rest...

    >>> Print Article(always)...Read More(sometimes)

    Hendrix home saved for the future

    The childhood home of Jimi Hendrix has been saved from demolition after a new location was agreed at the last minute.

    The house in Seattle will be moved to a site opposite the cemetery where the late singer was buried in 1970s.

    The dilapidated house had already been moved to a temporary site and a four-year court battle with authorities began to save it.

    James Marshall Hendrix Foundation and the City of Seattle plan to renovate the building into a community centre.


    The foundation, which was set up by Hendrix's younger brother Leon, plans to reconstruct the house on a three-acre site they bought for �980,000 ($1.8m).

    Plans for the property include a facility that will offer music lessons, practice rooms and a library of musical instruments.

    The struggle between the foundation and Seattle authorities began in 2001 when the house was moved a few blocks from its original address and was only given a temporary permit.

    It was threatened with demolition unless a new address was found.

    Hendrix died aged 27 in September 1970.

    read the rest...

    >>> Print Article(always)...Read More(sometimes)

    Memo Shows Chertoff Didn't Act For 36 Hours Even With Authority To Go Around State Officials

    "Conyers Releases NonPartisan Congressional Research Service Report..."

    The Raw Story | FEMA, La. outsource Katrina body count to firm implicated in body-dumping scandals

    ... it doesn't get much uglier than this.

    The Federal Emergency Management Agency has hired Kenyon International to set up a mobile morgue for handling bodies in Baton Rouge, Louisiana following Hurricane Katrina, RAW STORY has learned.

    Kenyon is a subsidiary of Service Corporation International (SCI), a scandal-ridden Texas-based company operated by a friend of the Bush family. Recently, SCI subsidiaries have been implicated in illegally discarding and desecrating corpses.

    Louisiana governor Katherine Blanco subsequently inked a contract with the firm after talks between FEMA and the firm broke down. Kenyon's original deal was secured by the Department of Homeland Security.

    In other words, FEMA and then Blanco outsourced the body count from Hurricane Katrina -- which many believe the worst natural disaster in U.S. history -- to a firm whose parent company is known for its "experience" at hiding and dumping bodies.

    click here

    >>> Print Article(always)...Read More(sometimes)

    Tuesday, September 13, 2005

    This Modern World

    'I'm a bluesman,' says Mayer, but the little girls may not understand

    Aidin Vaziri, Chronicle Pop Music Critic
    Thursday, September 8, 2005

    John Mayer is about to commit career suicide, and there's no stopping him.

    It's Tuesday, a few hours before the first of his two sold-out shows at the Fillmore, and the singer-songwriter is lounging in a suite at the Four Seasons on Market Street.

    The first sign of trouble is the clothing. In tattered jeans and loose-fitting white T-shirt, his hair a mess of wayward curls, he doesn't look so much like a multiplatinum pop star and sorority house pinup as a bellboy playing hooky from work.

    "I'm done with fashion," Mayer announces, his 6-foot-3-inch frame slumped on the couch. He isn't kidding. On his feet are a pair of Adidas running sneakers and white ankle socks. It's the same outfit he'll wear onstage later.

    Then there's this: The 27-year-old singer-songwriter is in town to begin a tour with his new project, the John Mayer Trio, a blues-rock ensemble that includes bassist Pino Palladino, the British session player who served as John Entwistle's replacement in the Who, and drummer Steve Jordan, a musician who has worked with Bob Dylan and the Rolling Stones. That's right, a blues-rock ensemble.

    Sure, it sounds great on paper, but the band's repertoire almost guarantees a dramatic fan-base shift from 14-year-old girls to 40-year-old men. And to think the group is playing reworked versions of Mayer's pop radio hits, assorted classic rock covers and generally winging it.

    read the rest...

    >>> Print Article(always)...Read More(sometimes)

    GOP Meltdown: Congressional Republicans in Crisis

    As Americans reject mismanagement and ethical problems of Republican Congress, NRCC brings in guru to take charge of spin control

    (Washington, D.C.) - Battling public perceptions of a Republican Congress that is focused on the special interests and out of touch with Americans, the National Republican Campaign Committee (NRCC) today announced the hiring of a new "Director of Strategic Communications." The newly created spin position follows a poll from Newsweek showing Republicans losing to Democrats by 12 points on a generic ballot.

    "The problem for Congressional Republicans is that no amount of spin can explain the American people's rejection of their policies and disgust with the way they are running Congress," said DCCC communications director Bill Burton. "Under the leadership of Republicans in Congress, gas prices are out of control, energy companies are getting billions in tax breaks, their members are battling indictments and the jailing of their friends and homeland security has been completely politicized. With nothing looking up for Republicans, Americans are looking elsewhere for leadership."

    read the rest...

    >>> Print Article(always)...Read More(sometimes)

    Pat Robertson's Katrina Cash


    [posted online on September 7, 2005]

    Every cloud has a silver lining. Hurricane Katrina has devastated New Orleans, leaving thousands dead and hundreds of thousands homeless, and plunging the entire city into chaos. In the hurricane's wake, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and its director, Michael Brown, forced out of his former job at the International Arabian Horse Association, with no credentials in disaster relief, have become targets of withering criticism. Yet FEMA's relief efforts have brought considerable assistance to at least one man who stands to benefit from Hurricane Katrina perhaps more than any other individual: Pat Robertson.

    With the Bush Administration's approval, Robertson's $66 million relief organization, Operation Blessing, has been prominently featured on FEMA's list of charitable groups accepting donations for hurricane relief. Dozens of media outlets, including the New York Times, CNN and the Associated Press, duly reprinted FEMA's list, unwittingly acting as agents soliciting cash for Robertson. "How in the heck did that happen?" Richard Walden, president of the disaster-relief group Operation USA, asked of Operation Blessing's inclusion on FEMA's list. "That gives Pat Robertson millions of extra dollars."

    read the rest...

    >>> Print Article(always)...Read More(sometimes)

    All the President's Friends


    The lethally inept response to Hurricane Katrina revealed to everyone that the Federal Emergency Management Agency, which earned universal praise during the Clinton years, is a shell of its former self. The hapless Michael Brown - who is no longer overseeing relief efforts but still heads the agency - has become a symbol of cronyism.

    But what we really should be asking is whether FEMA's decline and fall is unique, or part of a larger pattern. What other government functions have been crippled by politicization, cronyism and/or the departure of experienced professionals? How many FEMA's are there?

    Unfortunately, it's easy to find other agencies suffering from some version of the FEMA syndrome.

    read the rest...

    >>> Print Article(always)...Read More(sometimes)

    Reality finally bites Bush

    Reality finally bites Bush
    By ROBYN E. BLUMNER, Times Perspective Columnist
    Published September 11, 2005

    Reality has finally caught up to George W. Bush.

    The bubble in which the president has been governing has finally burst, or, more aptly, has gotten so waterlogged it is too heavy to drag around.

    Cindy couldn't do it, but Katrina did. Bush has been shoved awake from his long national daydream to find that, to his surprise, the country cannot be governed effectively by giving high-ranking officials cutesy nicknames and engaging in determined wishful thinking.

    Welcome to the real world, Mr. President. Any ideas on what to do now?

    I'm looking forward to seeing this investigation Bush intends to personally launch. But why go through the motions? Just put out the report now blaming every failure on Louisiana's Democrats.

    Early on, Bush decided that his administration would adopt a "perception equals reality" approach to governance and stick to that playbook regardless of what America's lying eyes saw: a "Healthy Forests" initiative that opened federal forests to aggressive logging, a "Clear Skies" proposal that allowed more mercury emissions and air pollution from coal plants. It was an easy magician's trick, since only those pointy-headed poindexters would appreciate the implications.

    But pictures of people - Americans - trapped atop flooded houses with bloated bodies floating by, while our secretary of state buys overpriced shoes on Fifth Avenue and the president stumps at a golf resort, can't be dissembled.

    Remember how Bush's crew sneered at the process of understanding reality through the serious examination of known facts? How passe that all was, they said.

    In 2004, journalist Ron Suskind recalled in the New York Times Magazine a conversation he had with a senior adviser to Bush in 2002. Suskind was pointedly told that guys like him were in "the reality-based community," which, the aide defined, as people who "believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality."

    "That's not the way the world really works anymore," the aide continued. "We're an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you're studying that reality "judiciously, as you will' we'll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that's how things will sort out."

    Here are some of the "realities" of Team Bush that I've been judiciously studying:

    * You can go to war without raising the revenues necessary to pay for it.

    * You can win a war without drafting the troops needed for battle.

    * You can put political cronies in charge of key government agencies, and they will be competent.

    * You can help average Americans by giving tax breaks to the richest.

    * You can keep up with "the people" by allowing only those who are already on board to be part of the conversation.

    * And you can protect America best by sending its National Guard to fight in Mesopotamia.

    I would say these "realities" have come crashing down, proving that gravity is a reality-based law of nature.

    Katrina was a perfect storm for Bush. It was a natural disaster, which meant Bush couldn't don his flight suit and shake his fists at the "instruments of evil" who seek to destroy us. His flat-footedness - similar to his confused visage after the 9/11 attacks - could not be later be wiped from the public's mind by a pervasive fear that gripped the country. And his tendency to misdirect the public with untruths didn't work, because television images of people desperately awaiting help are more convincing than Bush's declaring that FEMA director Michael "Brownie" Brown is doing "a heck of a job."

    So good, that he's now off the job.

    At the same time, the horror laid bare Bush's willingness to starve our domestic needs and divert manpower and materiel to pursuing the man who "tried to kill my dad." The storm set in stark relief Bush's lack of interest in the consequences of global warming. (A 2004 study by an arm of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says that as the world's oceans and gulfs become superheated, more powerful hurricanes result.) And it demonstrated his unwillingness to make government spending a priority (slashing requests by the Army Corps of Engineers for funds to reinforce the levees around New Orleans). There is tax money to give back, after all.

    Here is the Bush agenda come home to roost - on a roof. And it's caved in. Can't get much more real than that.
    � Copyright 2003 St. Petersburg Times. All rights reserved

    >>> Print Article(always)...Read More(sometimes)

    The Washington Post's Mensa Invitational - 2005 winners

    The Washington Post's Mensa Invitational once again asked readers to take any word from the dictionary, alter it by adding, subtracting, or changing of one letter, and supply a new definition.

    Here are the 2005 winners:

    1. Cashtration (n.): The act of buying a house, which renders the subject financially impotent for an indefinite period.

    2. Ignoranus: A person who's both stupid and an a**hole.

    3. Intaxication: Euphoria at getting a tax refund, which lasts until you realize it was your money to start with.

    4. Reintarnation: Coming back to life as a hillbilly.

    5. Bozone (n.): The substance surrounding stupid people that stops bright ideas from penetrating. The bozone layer, unfortunately, shows little sign of breaking down in the near future.

    6. Foreploy: Any misrepresentation about yourself for the purpose of getting laid.

    7. Giraffiti: Vandalism spray-painted very, very high.

    8. Sarchasm: The gulf between the author of sarcastic wit and the person who doesn't get it.

    9. Inoculatte: To take coffee intravenously when you are running late.

    10. Hipatitis: Terminal coolness.

    11. Osteopornosis: A degenerate disease. (This one got extra credit.)

    12. Karmageddon: It's like, when everybody is sending off all these really bad vibes, right? And then, like, the Earth explodes and it's like, a serious bummer.

    13. Decafalon (n.): The grueling event of getting through the day consuming only things that are good for you.

    14. Glibido: All talk and no action.

    15. Dopeler effect: The tendency of stupid ideas to seem smarter when they come at you rapidly.

    16. Arachnoleptic fit (n.): The frantic dance performed just after you've accidentally walked through a spider web.

    17. Beelzebug (n.): Satan in the form of a mosquito, that gets into your bedroom at three in the morning and cannot be cast out.

    18. Caterpallor (n.): The color you turn after finding half a worm in the fruit you're eating.

    >>> Print Article(always)...Read More(sometimes)

    Monday, September 12, 2005

    Bush Vacation

    Bush Disaster

    SuperFrenchie � Bill O�Reilly, Frenchies, and the 4-H Club of Bangor, Maine

    Katrina Leads a Lobbyist to Reevaluate His Priorities

    Booman Tribune - Out of a Michael Moore Mockumentary

    Pentagon Studies Pre-Emptive Nuclear Strikes - New York Times

    ABC News: Some Question Robertson's Katrina Charity

    MemoryBlog: Infectious Disease Research in and Around New Orleans

    ...Here's a great tip for all reporters looking for a completely new - and extremely important - angle on the situation in New Orleans. As far as I can tell, no one has yet mentioned the biological research labs located in and around NOLA. For example, in nearby Covington, Tulane University runs the Tulane National Primate Research Center, a cluster of Level-3 biological labs containing around 5,000 monkeys, most of which are housed in outdoor cages. According to an article in Tulane University Magazine, "The primary areas of focus today at the Tulane National Primate Research Center are infectious diseases, including biodefense related work, gene therapy, reproductive biology and neuroscience. The Tulane primate center is playing a key role in the federal strategic plan for biodefense research."...

    MemoryBlog: Infectious Disease Research in and Around New Orleans

    >>> Print Article(always)...Read More(sometimes)

    America's Darwin Awards and a Philosophy Assignment

    The War on Errorism

    The George Bush White House has Presided Over Three National Debacles: 9/11, the War in Iraq, and now Katrina's Destruction

    Politicians Let Big Oil Use Katrina to Pillage Public

    America's Battered Wife Syndrome

    The World's First Environmental Porn Movement

    Diseases of Rich Deprive Poor of Drugs

    Be Angry, Be Very Angry

    9/11 and Manipulation of the USA - U.S. Could Use Energy Weapons in Iraq Next Year - 09/08/05 18:02

    COOL TECH THIS WEEK: Human Ray Guns and Subway Surveillance

    AlterNet: Eight Big Lies About Katrina

    King of Zembla - CAMPS

    Refugee camps or concentration camps? --pseudolus

    King of Zembla

    >>> Print Article(always)...Read More(sometimes)

    Spelunking Through the Chaos: Welcome to the Rockies, now get behind the fence!

    On New Orleans' dark streets, patrols assume the worst / Martial law and poor communication lead to tense situation for one reporter

    SF Gate Return to regular view On New Orleans' dark streets, patrols assume the worst
    Martial law and poor communication lead to tense situation for one reporter
    - Peter Fimrite, Chronicle Staff Writer
    Friday, September 9, 2005

    New Orleans -- I did not actually count the number of automatic weapons pointed at me, but there were at least five, and I was certain they were all locked and loaded, or whatever that military phrase is signifying that a gun is ready to blow a hole in somebody.

    'Step out!' commanded the black-helmeted man in the middle of what appeared to be a tactical formation. He was pointing a laser-like flashlight attached to his machine gun at me.

    I must have been quite a sight alone out there on the darkened New Orleans street wearing a headlamp and holding a cell phone at an odd right angle, the only way I could get it to work. I had just been placed on hold.

    'I'm a journalist working for The San Francisco Chronicle,' I said quickly, trying to remain calm. 'I'm out here because the signal ....'

    'Step out here!' he interrupted, and his tone suggested that the consequences for not stepping out into the street would be dire. I stepped out.

    The encounter was a sobering look into the post-hurricane reality of New Orleans. The city has been evacuated, and a 6 p.m. curfew imposed. The citizens who remain are presumed to be up to no good, especially if they are out past dark.

    There are National Guard, police and Army checkpoints every few blocks. SWAT teams, soldiers and military squads from as far away as Puerto Rico patrol the downtown streets, stopping anyone they see. The units often do not appear to know what the others are doing.

    It is essentially martial law in the Big Easy, and being outside without a press pass can be dangerous, if not deadly.

    I was among 17 journalists from Hearst Corp.-owned newspapers staying at a house in an upscale neighborhood on 6016 St. Charles Place, an area that was spared by the flood.

    Hearst Corp. hired six armed military contractors, led by former Navy SEAL Chris White, to protect the house and journalists, presumably from looters, but also from arrest by police or the military.

    There is no electricity, only sparse telephone service in the city, and the water supply is assumed to be contaminated. The journalists tramp around the flooded city by day and work by flashlight on their laptops at night, slapping at mosquitoes in the heat and sleeping on the floor.

    Cell phone service is sporadic, requiring writers to move from place to place on the lawn, deck and sidewalk to find a connection. That explains my location out on the sidewalk sometime after 9 p.m. Wednesday.

    As I waited, headlight shining on my notes, for the person on the line to return, I saw out of the corner of my eye shadowy figures in crouching positions moving across the street toward me.

    As I looked up, they seemed to be taking firing positions, men on either flank, two more behind cars and the man in the middle shining the light. They were a New Orleans police SWAT team, and their guns were pointed directly at me. I made the decision not to slap at the mosquito that was siphoning blood out of my arm.

    "Do you have ID?" I was asked. I tried to explain that it was in the car and the keys were in the house. "Do you live here? What are you doing here?" The questions came rapid fire, under the threat of a bullet.

    Just then, White and his compatriots rushed out of the house, without their guns. The SWAT team turned toward them, rushing down the street for the expected confrontation.

    "Don't point your f -- gun at me!" White shouted, and an already tense situation turned into a hair-raising standoff.

    I slipped back into the house while the two sides worked out their differences without, thankfully, any gunfire.

    "That was totally unprofessional, pointing their guns at us like that," White complained when he returned. "The Army has been patrolling this street for a week, and they know what's going on here. All the police had to do was ask them, and they would have known everything they needed to know about this street."

    Then, as we journalists prepared for another fitful night of sleep, White commanded everyone's attention for an announcement.

    "I'm asking that nobody go out in front anymore after dark," he said. "It's just too dangerous."

    E-mail Peter Fimrite at

    Page A - 14

    >>> Print Article(always)...Read More(sometimes)

    Politicizing Disaster Relief: How FEMA Overcompensated Florida Citizens in the Run-Up to the Presidential Election

    Leaders Lacking Disaster Experience

    Michael Moore: To All My Fellow Americans Who Voted for George W. Bush

    On this, the fourth anniversary of 9/11, I'm just curious, how does it feel?

    How does it feel to know that the man you elected to lead us after we were attacked went ahead and put a guy in charge of FEMA whose main qualification was that he ran horse shows?

    That's right. Horse shows.

    I really want to know -- and I ask you this in all sincerity and with all due respect -- how do you feel about the utter contempt Mr. Bush has shown for your safety? C'mon, give me just a moment of honesty. Don't start ranting on about how this disaster in New Orleans was the fault of one of the poorest cities in America. Put aside your hatred of Democrats and liberals and anyone with the last name of Clinton. Just look me in the eye and tell me our President did the right thing after 9/11 by naming a horse show runner as the top man to protect us in case of an emergency or catastrophe.

    I want you to put aside your self-affixed label of Republican/conservative/born-again/capitalist/ditto-head/right-winger and just talk to me as an American, on the common ground we both call America.

    Are we safer now than before 9/11? When you learn that behind the horse show runner, the #2 and #3 men in charge of emergency preparedness have zero experience in emergency preparedness, do you think we are safer?

    When you look at Michael Chertoff, the head of Homeland Security, a man with little experience in national security, do you feel secure?

    When men who never served in the military and have never seen young men die in battle send our young people off to war, do you think they know how to conduct a war? Do they know what it means to have your legs blown off for a threat that was never there?

    Do you really believe that turning over important government services to private corporations has resulted in better services for the people?

    Why do you hate our federal government so much? You have voted for politicians for the past 25 years whose main goal has been to de-fund the federal government. Do you think that cutting federal programs like FEMA and the Army Corps of Engineers has been good or bad for America? GOOD OR BAD?

    With the nation's debt at an all-time high, do you think tax cuts for the rich are still a good idea? Will you give yours back so hundreds of thousands of homeless in New Orleans can have a home?

    Do you believe in Jesus? Really? Didn't he say that we would be judged by how we treat the least among us? Hurricane Katrina came in and blew off the facade that we were a nation with liberty and justice for all. The wind howled and the water rose and what was revealed was that the poor in America shall be left to suffer and die while the President of the United States fiddles and tells them to eat cake.

    That's not a joke. The day the hurricane hit and the levees broke, Mr. Bush, John McCain and their rich pals were stuffing themselves with cake. A full day after the levees broke (the same levees whose repair funding he had cut), Mr. Bush was playing a guitar some country singer gave him. All this while New Orleans sank under water.

    It would take ANOTHER day before the President would do a flyover in his jumbo jet, peeking out the widow at the misery 2500 feet below him as he flew back to his second home in DC. It would then be TWO MORE DAYS before a trickle of federal aid and troops would arrive. This was no seven minutes in a sitting trance while children read "My Pet Goat" to him. This was FOUR DAYS of doing nothing other than saying "Brownie (FEMA director Michael Brown), you're doing a heck of a job!"

    My Republican friends, does it bother you that we are the laughing stock of the world?

    And on this sacred day of remembrance, do you think we honor or shame those who died on 9/11/01? If we learned nothing and find ourselves today every bit as vulnerable and unprepared as we were on that bright sunny morning, then did the 3,000 die in vain?

    Our vulnerability is not just about dealing with terrorists or natural disasters. We are vulnerable and unsafe because we allow one in eight Americans to live in horrible poverty. We accept an education system where one in six children never graduate and most of those who do can't string a coherent sentence together. The middle class can't pay the mortgage or the hospital bills and 45 million have no health coverage whatsoever.

    Are we safe? Do you really feel safe? You can only move so far out and build so many gated communities before the fruit of what you've sown will be crashing through your walls and demanding retribution. Do you really want to wait until that happens? Or is it your hope that if they are left alone long enough to soil themselves and shoot themselves and drown in the filth that fills the street that maybe the problem will somehow go away?

    I know you know better. You gave the country and the world a man who wasn't up for the job and all he does is hire people who aren't up for the job. You did this to us, to the world, to the people of New Orleans. Please fix it. Bush is yours. And you know, for our peace and safety and security, this has to be fixed. What do you propose?

    I have an idea, and it isn't a horse show.

    Michael Moore

    >>> Print Article(always)...Read More(sometimes)

    Sunday, September 11, 2005

    Promoting "Intelligent Design": President Bush Unveils Irrefutable Proof of God's Flawless Blueprint for Humanity - WHITEHOUSE.ORG

    A brilliant bit of satire, check it out!


    The Appendix: Often derided by secular scientists as unimportant, the appendix is in fact an essential feature in God's meticulous design for humanity. The Almighty uses this organ, which He non-coincidentally sculpted in the shape of a miniature flaccid penis, to remotely inflict torturous earthly pain on all who displease Him.

    click on link below...

    >>> Print Article(always)...Read More(sometimes)

    "Truth Hurts" a "Non Sequitur" cartoon by Wylie

    Archives de la Stan

    You won't read this in the mainstream news...

    "Cri Du Coeur"
    A volunteer psychologist's account
    of evacuee conditions in Dallas

    click here

    >>> Print Article(always)...Read More(sometimes)

    Out of Tune pt II

    GOP: The Daddy Party (the crooked deadbeat Daddy Party)


    >>> Print Article(always)...Read More(sometimes)

    Actual Death Tax - by driftglass

    drifty lays it out for you:

    "...Let�s be very clear: the Estate Tax benefits the same super-ooper-duper wealthy who own a large party of the Republican Party and who feel it is their God Given right to use the rest of the Earth as their ass-floss.

    "The elimination of the Estate Tax is very simply the philosophy of the GOP writ large: that Government is Evil and needs to be destroyed. Make no mistake, that is the ideology that runs straight through Grover Nordquist, Tom DeLay, Karl Rove and Tim McVeigh.

    "McVeigh was just too quick on the trigger, and didn�t understand the Big Picture, which is to crash the whole system. To nuke the Federal Government with so much debt and so many tax cuts that it simply which point a coalition of fascist oligarchs and Christopath theocrats can simply take over and picnic on the remains of the nation that so many millions have given their lives to protect and build."

    read the whole thing, it is very tasty, as usual. drifty's spelling may suck, but he's got the mad skillz for writin'.


    >>> Print Article(always)...Read More(sometimes)

    Lost at Tora Bora - New York Times

    How close we came to nabbing Osama...another total failure for the Littlest Emperor.

    Published: September 11, 2005

    Well past midnight one morning in early December 2001, according to American intelligence officials, Osama bin Laden sat with a group of top aides - including members of his elite international 055 Brigade - in the mountainous redoubt of Tora Bora in eastern Afghanistan. Outside, it was blustery and bitterly cold; many of the passes of the White Mountains, of which Tora Bora forms a part, were already blocked by snow. But inside the cave complex, where bin Laden had sought his final refuge from the American war in Afghanistan - a war in which Washington, that October, had struck back for the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks - bin Laden munched on olives and sipped sugary mint tea. He was dressed in his signature camouflage jacket, and a Kalashnikov rested by his side. Captured Qaeda fighters, interviewed separately, told American interrogators that they recalled an address that bin Laden had made to his followers shortly before dawn. It concerned martyrdom. American bombs, including a 15,000-pound "daisy cutter," were raining from the sky and pulverizing a number of the Tora Bora caves. And yet, one American intelligence official told me recently, if any one thing distinguished Osama bin Laden on that cold December day, it was the fact that the 44-year-old Saudi multimillionaire appeared to be supremely confident.

    read the rest (log-in required, try mine: odin1eye SfyiwjXV)
    Lost at Tora Bora - New York Times

    >>> Print Article(always)...Read More(sometimes)

    free webpage hit counter