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Saturday, November 19, 2005 Bush's Rewriting of History

By Robert Parry
November 16, 2005

For decades, the well-connected Bush family has been treated like a kind of American royalty in which a petulant king or prince can stamp a foot and insist that whatever the evidence says the truth is otherwise. Their subjects are expected to bow in acquiescence, while dissenters can expect a good thrashing.

George H.W. Bush did this during the early Iran-Contra scandal, insisting he was “not in the loop” despite extensive evidence that his vice presidential office was a hub for the secret operations in both Central America and the Middle East. Rep. Lee Hamilton and other bipartisan-seeking Democrats gently let Bush off the hook in the congressional Iran-Contra report, clearing him for the 1988 presidential election.

When Iran-Contra independent counsel Lawrence Walsh finally broke through the Bush cover-up in 1992, Walsh was pilloried across Washington as a crazy old man, a Captain Ahab pursuing the White Whale. George Bush Sr. then destroyed Walsh’s investigation by pardoning six Iran-Contra defendants in December 1992. [For details see Robert Parry’s Secrecy & Privilege.]

Now Bush’s eldest son, George W. Bush, is turning to this tried-and-true family tactic to extricate himself from his own web of lies and distortions about the Iraq War. In a Veterans Day speech on Nov. 11, Bush accused those who question his alleged misuse of pre-war intelligence of being the real guilty ones who have distorted the facts.

“It is deeply irresponsible to rewrite the history of how that war began,” Bush scolded his critics. “These baseless attacks send the wrong signal to our troops and to an enemy that is questioning America’s will.”


read it all, it ain’t pretty—– pseudolus

more here

>>> Print Article(always)...Read More(sometimes) - Bush's Approval Rating Falls Again, Poll Shows

President Bush's positive job rating continues to fall, touching another new low for his presidency, the latest Harris Interactive poll finds.

Bush's current job approval rating stands at 34%, compared with a positive rating of 88% soon after 9/11, 50% at this time last year, and 40% in August.

And he's not alone. Cabinet members, Congressional leaders and both parties in Congress have also seen their ratings slip, with Democrats seeing one of the biggest dips in approval, the telephone poll of 1,011 U.S. adults shows.

Vice President Dick Cheney's approval ratings slipped to 30% this month from 35% in August, while Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld's approval ratings dropped to 34% from 40% and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice's approval ratings fell to 52% from 57%, according to the poll.

At the same time, only a quarter of Americans polled give Democrats a positive rating in the latest poll, compared with 31% in August, while Republicans' approval ratings fell to 27% from 32%.

Mr. Bush's current ratings don't compare favorably with those of three of the last four two-term presidents at a comparable time in their fifth year in office. In November or October of their fifth year, Presidents Johnson (67%), Reagan (66%) and Clinton (58%) all enjoyed the support of majorities, while President Nixon (29%) was less popular than Mr. Bush is now. (See related chart3)

In the most recent poll, Americans were also asked to name the two most important issues that the U.S. government needs to address. When considering the most important issues, 34% of those polled say the war is most important, 13% said the economy and 13% said Iraq. Other issues mentioned were health care (11%), education (10%) and taxes (9%).


read the whole thing: - Bush's Approval Rating Falls Again, Poll Shows

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Klare, What Are They Cooking Up in the White House? (Wag The Dog Scenarios)

We know one thing about the Bush administration, despite the President's Veterans Day speech on the "irresponsibility" of "rewriting history," he and his top officials -- possibly the greatest gamblers in our history -- had no hesitation about writing their own ticket to history and rejiggering the facts wherever necessary in the run-up to war. History like intelligence was seen a malleable thing, something that would, in the end, go to the victor anyway. It could be whatever they desired it to be, whatever they thought would best help them panic the American people and Congress into backing an invasion of their country of choice. And it could be brought to bear whenever they thought it most useful -- or, in White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card's now infamous September 2002 formulation (speaking of the timing of promoting an invasion of Iraq), ``From a marketing point of view, you don't introduce new products in August.''

They had no qualms about elbowing the CIA aside, or using forged, unreliable, or clearly inaccurate intelligence, or simple disinformation, or just repeating endlessly things they certainly knew to be fictions in order to make Democrats (who knew better) run for their lives and put a full-court press on the media. They were happy to raise rhetorical mushroom clouds over all-too-real American cities to panic Americans into their war of choice. They had no hesitation (as far as we know) -- to cite a conveniently forgotten absurdity of that prewar moment -- about sending the President out in front of television cameras to announce the ridiculous in all fearful solemnity: That, for instance, there was a danger Iraqi unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) armed with chemical or biological weapons might be sent to spray their deadly mists over East coast cities or even hundreds of miles inland. (Forget that the planes didn't exist and that, if they had, and if the CBW weaponry had been available, the Iraqis had no way to get them to the coast, or anything to launch them from.) When people want to talk about what we may or may not have known about subjects like Iraqi WMDs, they forget the baldfaced absurdity of some of the administration's claims -- or exactly how unchallenged they went in the mainstream media. (I saw the President make the UAV claim on television with my own eyes, by the way.)

And that was when they were riding high. Imagine what they might do in desperation. In fact, Michael Klare, author of the indispensable Blood and Oil: The Dangers and Consequences of America's Growing Dependence on Imported Petroleum, does just that below, evaluating the various wag-the-dog scenarios this administration might seriously consider using if its situation grows too desperate and elections too near.

After considering these possibilities yourself, think about the context. The signal from the recent hotel bombings in Jordan seems clear enough in its own horrific way. Through its invasion and uniquely inept occupation, the Bush administration has already created a "failed state" not on the failed continent of Africa or in an economically or politically peripheral land like Afghanistan, but exactly in the heart of the richest oil lands of the planet. Iraq is now largely an anarchic world with a central government hardly capable of commanding its own fortified heart -- the Green Zone of Baghdad -- no less much of the rest of the country; where religious militias, terrorist organizations, and fractured insurgent groups have the run of the land; where internecine killing is on the rise; and the delivery of such basics of modern life as electricity and potable water (or water of any kind) are no longer givens.

Whether some in the Bush administration meant to turn Iraq into a land of "chaos" or not, they have certainly succeeded in doing so. Now, the chaos is spreading across borders. The Jordanian bombers, after all, were Iraqis. The targets, American hotels, were both soft and symbolic. But in the future, they may be harder and even more vital -- oil pipelines or other facilities outside Iraq, for instance.

Add into this formula for disaster, an "administration" in Washington that is "uninterested in governing," as Jonathan Schell wrote recently in the Nation magazine (focusing on what the post-Katrina world has revealed to us, but Iraqis already knew all too well). "We all keep referring to the ‘Bush administration,'" he added, "yet administering seems to be the last thing on its mind... If the Bush outfit is not governing, what is it doing? The answer comes readily: It wishes to acquire, increase and consolidate the power of the Republican Party."

If administration is nothing to Bush's people and power is all, the Klare scenarios that follow only seem that much more likely to be used, and what the implementation of any one of them will certainly do is add yet another chaotic pressure to the crumbling structure of our ever less safe and secure world and way of life. —Tom


read the “Wag The Dog” Scenarios here:

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Friday, November 18, 2005

'Intelligent Design' is Not About Science, It's About Putting God Into the Classroom

by Andrew Bard Schmookler

Maybe you’ve followed the controversy about the idea called ‘Intelligent Design.’ That’s the notion that living organisms are simply too complex to have evolved merely by such natural processes as the biological theory of evolution describes, and that it’s necessary, therefore, to postulate a designing Intelligence to explain the living systems we see.

Advocates of Intelligent Design (ID) have claimed that it’s a scientific theory, a legitimate rival of the Darwinian theory, that warrants being taught in the science classes of America’s public schools.

Critics of ID –and this includes almost all actual scientists who have weighed in on the matter– have declared that ID isn’t science at all. Instead, they say, it is a way of sneaking religion into the public schools, an idea directly descended from the ‘creationism’ whose inclusion in the public school curriculum the courts have found to be an unconstitutional government ‘establishment’ of religion.

Now, in his latest fit of pique, Pat Robertson has blown the cover of ID.

The object of Robertson’s ire on this occasion was the citizenry of the town of Dover, Pennsylvania. These people just recently voted to replace a school board that had mandated the teaching of ID in the local public schools with another slate of candidates opposed to putting ID in the science curriculum.

If something bad happens to you, Robertson said to the people of Dover, don’t bother turning to God. He might not be there for you, he warned them, because “you just voted God out of your city.”

So there it is. If rejecting the inclusion of Intelligent Design is to be understood as “voting God out,” then surely it follows that what ID is about is bringing God in. Sounds like religion to me.

Which leads me to a question for all those Christians out there who have been militating for ID in the public schools. Did you already know what Pat Robertson seems to have known, that ID is about religion, and not science?

If the answer to that question is yes, I have another question for you. In your understanding of Christian morality, is honesty very important? Or does your Christian ethic say that the end justifies the means, i.e. that it’s OK to lie about what you’re up to, if what you’re up to is making sure that children get indoctrinated with your religious beliefs?

But if the idea that ID is not about science, but about promoting your religion, comes to you as a surprise, then I wonder, would that discovery lead you to withdraw your demand that ID be taught in our public schools?

What Would Jesus Say? Church/State and the Golden Rule

ID is, of course, only one of the battlefields in an intensifying struggle over the issue of Church/State relations. We’ve had the Alabama justice with his monument to the Ten Commandments in the courthouse building. We’ve got people wanting to put prayer back into the public schools. We’ve got faith-based initiatives. Etc.

In all these cases, the people who want to instill aspects of their religion are members of America’s dominant faith. That is, they are Christians. More than that, they are members of a large and dynamic movement within American Christianity. That is to say, they are the ones who have enough clout to be quite confident that if the wall of separation between Church and State gets torn down, it is their religion that will be backed by power and imposed on everyone else.

I wonder if they’d want that wall torn down if they were in the position of a small and vulnerable minority. Would they want it torn down, for example, it were Hindu and not Christian prayers that would be recited, and Hindu stories of creation and moral precepts that would be taught, etc.?

Actually, I don’t really wonder. I feel sure that, if power in their society rested with Hindus, or Buddhists, or Muslims, these Christians who are so avid now to wed religion to political power would think the “separation of Church and State” a vital part of our American system of limited government and personal liberty.


read the rest…

'Intelligent Design' is Not About Science, It's About Putting God Into the Classroom

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"Best of Smokin' Joe Kubek - Served Up Texas Style"

One of my favorite Blues artists is Smokin' Joe Kubek. If you love the fiery Blues of Stevie Ray Vaughan you will love you some Smokin' Joe. He and his bandmate B'nois King have turned out 10 fine albums in the past 15+ years. B'nois is a great jazz guitarist and vocalist and the mix with Smokin' Joe is just awesome. Their complementary styles just work incredibly well together. Joe can play a smooth, stinging slide on a slow blues number, a loping Texas shuffle or a burning uptempo boogie with equal ease and aplomb. Layered with B'nois' whiskey smooth vocals and light fingered and tasty rhythm guitar with occasional leads and you have a combo that hasn't been equaled anywhere else.

I've turned folks who didn't like the Blues before into avid listeners. If you have the slightest interest in the genre you owe it to yourself to give them a try. You won't regret it and your ears will thank you for it.

They have a new album (#11) out that will make a nice introduction to newcomers. It is a 'best of' compilation with a couple of previously unreleased tunes to entice the complete collectors (like me). You can go to the link below and hear samples of all the cuts on the new cd.

listen here:
The Smokin' Joe Kubek Band
read more about 'em here at:
Blind Pig Records

The Axe Man - debut(198?)- re-released 1996 (very hard to find)
Texas Cadillac - 1990
Steppin' Out Texas Style - 1991
Chain Smokin' Texas Style - 1992
Cryin' for the Moon - 1995
Got My Mind Back - 1996
Take Your Best Shot - 1998
Bite Me! - 2000
Roadhouse Research - 2003
Show Me the Money - 2004
Served Up Texas Style: The Best of the Smokin' Joe Kubek Band - 2005

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Dick Cheney: War Profiteer

by Tom Turnipseed

Questions persist about Vice-President Cheney’s role in the ongoing investigation and scandal swirling about the White House. His chief of staff and confidante Lewis “Scooter” Libby has been indicted for perjury and obstruction of justice. Let’s take a look at some personal incentives for Cheney’s selling war to our country.

Cheney has pursued a political and corporate career to make himself very rich and powerful. He is the personification of a war profiteer who slid through the revolving door connecting the public and private sectors of the defense establishment on two occasions in a career that has served his relentless quest for power and profits.

As Defense Secretary, Mr. Cheney commissioned a study for the U.S. Department of Defense by Brown and Root Services (now Kellogg, Brown and Root), a wholly owned subsidiary of Halliburton. The study recommended that private firms like Halliburton should take over logistical support programs for U.S. military operations around the world. Just two years after he was Secretary of Defense, Cheney stepped through the revolving door linking the Department of Defense with defense contractors and became CEO of Halliburton. Halliburton was the principal beneficiary of Cheney’s privatization efforts for our military’s logistical support and Cheney was paid $44 million for five year's work with them before he slipped back through the revolving door of war profiteering to become Vice-President of the United States. When asked about the money he received from Halliburton, Cheney said. "I tell you that the government had absolutely nothing to do with it."

The Bush administration has dished out lucrative reconstruction contracts in Iraq to favored U.S. based corporations including Halliburton and denied contracts to many Iraqi and foreign based companies. To the conquerors go the spoils was the message on December 11, 2003 when Bush said, “The taxpayers understand why it makes sense for countries that risk lives to participate in the contracts in Iraq, It's very simple. Our people risk their lives, friendly coalition folks risk their lives, and therefore the contracting is going to reflect that.”

Bush’s statement is a stunning admission of how much corrupt corporations control our foreign policy. Under Cheney’s leadership Halliburton out did Enron in using offshore subsidiaries as tax shelters to hide profits to bilk U.S. taxpayers. Halliburton also utilized off-shore subsidiaries to contract for services and sell banned equipment to rogue states like Iran, Iraq and Libya. This would be illegal if done directly by Halliburton.

At last count Halliburton had 58 offshore subsidiaries in Caribbean tax havens. With Cheney at the helm Halliburton’s tax payments to the U.S. went from $302 million in 1998 to zero in 1999, when they also received a refund of $85 million from the Internal Revenue Service.


read the rest:

Dick Cheney: War Profiteer 

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Vital Military Jobs Go Unfilled, Study Says - New York Times

Vital Military Jobs Go Unfilled, Study Says

The military is falling far behind in its effort to recruit and re-enlist soldiers for some of the most vital combat positions in Iraq and Afghanistan, according to a new government report.

The report, completed by the Government Accountability Office, shows that the Army, National Guard and Marines signed up as few as a third of the Special Forces soldiers, intelligence specialists and translators that they had aimed for over the last year.

Both the Army and the Marines, for instance, fell short of their goals for hiring roadside bomb defusers by about 20 percent in each of the last two years. The Army Reserve, meanwhile, failed to fill about a third of its more than 1,500 intelligence analysts jobs. And in the National Guard, there have been consistent shortages filling positions involving tanks, field artillery and intelligence.

The report found that, in all, the military, which is engaged in the most demanding wartime recruitment effort since the 1970's, had failed to fully staff 41 percent of its array of combat and noncombat specialties.

Officials with the accountability office, the independent investigative arm of Congress, found that some of the critical shortfalls had been masked by the overfilling of other positions in an effort to reach overall recruiting goals. As a result, the G.A.O. report questioned whether Congress had been given an accurate picture by the Pentagon of the military's ability to maintain the force it needs for Iraq and Afghanistan.

"The aggregate recruiting numbers are rather meaningless," said Derek B. Stewart, the G.A.O.'s director of military personnel. "For Congress and this nation to truly understand what's happening with the all-volunteer force and its ability to recruit and retain highly qualified people, you have to drill down into occupational specialties. And when you do, it's very revealing."
Vital Military Jobs Go Unfilled, Study Says - New York Times


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Barbara Boxer on the Oil Company Lies

Last week, I told the oil company executives that their sacrifice was nothing. This week, I tell these executives, we can believe nothing they said.

Not only did the executives say that they didn't attend meetings that they did in fact attend -- because they tried to hide the fact that they essentially wrote this Administration's energy policy -- but Shell Oil, in direct response to a question from me, lied to my face about an issue that I worked on with Senator Ron Wyden and the Attorney General of California.

When I asked Mr. Hofmeister, President of Shell Oil Company, why his company told the people of California there were no buyers for a refinery that they were closing that produced 2 percent of California's gas, he said at the hearing: �We'd shopped the refinery around unofficially but did not find buyers. We then decided to close it.�

That stands in direct contradiction to what Shell's President wrote on April 13, 2004. She wrote:
�...We have not expended time or resources in an attempt to find a buyer, and do not intend to do so.�

And, in May 3, 2004, she said:
�...we believe no buyer will be interested in running the facility as a going concern, and therefore, did not seek one.�

Why is this so important?

Because I believe there was a conscious effort on the part of Shell Oil to purposefully reduce the supply of gasoline when Californians were already paying the highest prices in the nation.

We need to bring these oil executives back before the Committee, swear them in -- as Senator Maria Cantwell and I tried to do -- and get the truth for the American people.


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Thursday, November 17, 2005 - Methodist Bishops Repent Iraq War 'Complicity'

This and the post below it seem to offer hope that saner heads are prevailing. Responsible adults may actually be waking up. —pseudolus


Thursday, November 10, 2005

By Kaukab Jhumra Smith

WASHINGTON — Ninety-five bishops from President Bush's church said Thursday they repent their "complicity" in the "unjust and immoral" invasion and occupation of Iraq.

"In the face of the United States administration's rush toward military action based on misleading information, too many of us were silent," said a statement of conscience signed by more than half of the 164 retired and active United Methodist bishops worldwide.

President Bush is a member of the United Methodist Church, according to various published biographies. The White House did not return a request for comment on the bishops' statement.

Although United Methodist leadership has opposed the Iraq war in the past, this is the first time that individual bishops have confessed to a personal failure to publicly challenge the buildup to the war.

The signatures were also an instrument for retired bishops to make their views known, said bishop Joseph H. Yeakel, who served in the Baltimore-Washington area from 1984 to 1996. The current bishop for the Baltimore-Washington area, John R. Schol, also signed the statement.

The statement avoids making accusations, said retired Bishop Kenneth L. Carder, instructor at Duke University's divinity school and an author of the document.

"We would have made the statement regardless of who the president was. It was not meant to be either partisan or to single out any one person," Carder said. "It was the recognition that we are all part of the decision and we are all part of a democratic society. We all bear responsibility."

Stith, who spent more than three years after his retirement working in East Africa -- including with Rwandan refugees -- said going to war over the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks did not solve the real problems behind them.


read the rest: - Methodist Bishops Repent Iraq War 'Complicity'

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Confessions of a Repentant Republican...

 - Republicans for Humility and Accountability - - Faithful to American principles - Republicans against Bush

by William Frey, M. D.

“See, in my line of work you got to keep repeating things over and over and over again for the truth to sink in, to kind of catapult the propaganda.”
Bush at War - George W. Bush, 5/24/05

I supported George W. Bush in the presidential election in 2000, believing then that he best reflected my love for America and for our tradition of liberty. I supported the war in Afghanistan. In March of 2003, I believed that the invasion of Iraq was justified based upon pre-war revelations presented to Congress and to the American people. Accordingly, the indictments contained herein apply, first and foremost, to myself.

Many Americans whom I know and love, including many current supporters of President Bush, remain conflicted over both his ultimate intentions in Iraq as well as domestic curtailment of civil liberties.

Many have given the benefit of the doubt to President Bush, and, in a misdirected spirit of unity, have supported, as did I, Administration policies that conflict with our essential values.

This essay explores many of the issues that led me personally to the recognition that the policies I was supporting in Iraq were not consistent with the justifications made for the invasion in the spring of 2003, that implicit in our post-invasion actions was the goal of permanent occupation, which would ensure endless war and the resultant degradation of our liberty, our security, and our moral authority.

For me, recognizing that I could no longer support the President for whom I voted, and the occupation of a land we had invaded, remains personally painful.

I have learned that while it is difficult to admit being wrong, such recognition is a prerequisite for redemptive action, necessary both for individual growth and for the healing of our nation.

It is in this spirit that I submit these reflections.

William Frey, M. D.
November, 2005


read the Blog here:

Confessions of a Repentant Republican - Republicans for Humility and Accountability - - Faithful to American principles - Republicans against Bush

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Rigged: Senate Fails Public, Gives Oil Moguls Red-Carpet Treatment

Published on Monday, November 14, 2005 by
by Ralph Nader

It was Wednesday, November 10th and the Senators had the five bosses of the largest oil conglomerates in the world facing them and the media in a large hearing room. Millions of Americans are indignant over gouging gasoline and natural gas prices and want action.

So what did the two Senate Committees do? They blew it. As Dana Milbank wrote in the Washington Post, "instead of calling oil executives on the carpet yesterday, senators gave them the red-carpet treatment." Not quite. Senator Barbara Boxer, among a few, gave the oil tycoons a hard time. But generally, by the end of the hearing, none of the executives broke a sweat.

There was at least a high expectation for some tough rhetoric and demands for information, though nobody thought there would be any action whether for an excess profits tax, tougher anti-gouging legislation or antitrust crackdowns. But surely some table thumping.

After all, it was the people-frightened Republicans who called the hearing to expose, in their majority leader, Senator Bill Frist (R-TN)'s words "those who abuse the free-enterprise system to advantage themselves and their businesses at the expense of all Americans."

Instead, what the public saw was the astonishing workings of corporate power, ideology and campaign money on Capitol Hill. Senators, like Mary Landrieu (D-LA), were tossing soft questions and deep praise on the oil moguls, after receiving big time campaign money from their oil and gas paymasters. Landrieu took $249,155 over the past five years. Observing the moguls, one got no sign that any of them were at all worried about the hearing. Many of the Senators were marinated in oil. The rest were frustrated or not courageous enough to come adequately prepared to take apart the all-purpose response that these oil companies were merely responding to the global marketplace. It is always the impersonal market, the all-encompassing ideology that leaves these oil giants powerless - just so many profit-gushing buoys on the ocean of market determinism.

When Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) wanted the moguls to be sworn in at the onset of the hearing (an almost routine formality in many hearings), Chairman Senator Ted Stevens (R-AK) repulsed the suggestion. Later he rejected Senator Barbara Boxer's large chart showing the huge salaries and bonuses of each of the five oil executives by name, from being entered into the hearing record as irrelevant to the subject matter of the hearing.

Steven Pearlstein of the Washington Post was disgusted. In his column, he described Stevens as "so cloyingly deferential to his corporate witnesses one had to wonder if he was auditioning for the job of headwaiter at the grille room of the Petroleum Club in Houston." The testimony by the executives was so similar to one another that their words became metaphors for the structural collusiveness of this ever tighter corporate cartel. The market makes them behave as they do. They just want lower taxes, more subsidies, more freedom from environmental regulations and more access to the public lands onshore and offshore. They denied the lower taxes bit, but their lobbyists pushed through another multi-billion dollar tax break bill through Congress a few weeks earlier.

Some of the executives made the same assertion that they have reinvested the identical amount that they earned into larger facilities and exploration. Didn't they send much of those earnings to their shareholders? No one asked this question.

Here is the game the big companies are playing. Blame the helpless gas stations if you are pushed to explain why gas prices are so high. Never mind that ExxonMobil made 79% more profit this last quarter than a year earlier, which was also very profitable. That 79% amounted to almost $10 billion after modest taxes in just one quarter! By way of comparison, the first company to make $1 billion in one quarter was AT&T twenty years ago.

They had to admit that refinery capacity was tight but refused to take responsibility for the industry shutting down half of the refineries in the U.S. since 1980. The oil companies have long played this game of raising prices by tightening refinery capacity or shipping refined products to other countries.

Given the internal industry documents showing this strategy, one would have thought some Senators would have probed more. But then oil Senator, Ted Stevens, held each Senator to five minutes and refused to have a multi-day hearing examination as Senators use to do back in the Sixties and Seventies. After all, tens of billions of dollars out of the family budgets could have justified a lengthier investigative hearing. There was little mention of the oil companies taking out useless newspaper ads urging consumers to conserve, while having avoided over the years pressuring the auto and appliance industries to sell more consumers energy efficient products. But then, the oil and gas companies would sell less of their fuel, wouldn't they?

Meanwhile, ex oil men, Bush and Cheney, continue to push for lower taxes on corporations and their affluent executives, while pressing for large cuts in programs benefiting the middle class and the poor. Bush is pushing to liquidate AMTRAK and replace it with pieces of private companies. Last week, AMTRAK's Board, picked by Bush, fired Amtrak's competent CEO, David Gunn who opposed scuttling a passenger railroad system - crucial to energy conservation and national security - that is starved for capital funds while the airlines and auto companies benefit from huge taxpayer subsidies for airports and highways. The Post's Pearlstein titled his column, "Oil's Bigwigs Enjoy a Rigged Market." It is more than that. The antitrust laws no longer stop mergers of the big companies. The big oil companies have learned to profit from the overseas producers' oil cartel. And the Mercantile Exchange in New York daily turns oil into a speculative commodity to further enhance the dominant rule of Big Oil.

As for ExxonMobil and their brethren paying some of these rigged profits into a fund to help poor families pay their fuel bills this winter, forget it. Not a single Senator pressed them each for answers. Corporate greed has reached new depths, because our indentured government has left the American people defenseless.



Rigged: Senate Fails Public, Gives Oil Moguls Red-Carpet Treatment

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The Raw Story | Rediscovered testimony given by CIA director in 2001 suggests manipulation of pre-war intelligence

 President George W. Bush’s attempt Friday to silence critics who say his administration manipulated prewar intelligence on Iraq is undercut by congressional testimony given in February 2001 by former CIA Director George Tenet, who said that Iraq posed no immediate threat to the United States or other countries in the Middle East, RAW STORY has found.

Details of Tenet’s testimony have not been reported before.

Since a criminal indictment was handed up last month against Vice President Dick Cheney’s former Chief of Staff, I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby, for his role in allegedly leaking the name of covert CIA agent Valerie Plame Wilson to reporters in an attempt to muzzle criticism of the administration’s rationale for war, questions have resurfaced in the halls of Congress about whether the president and his close advisers manipulated intelligence in an effort to dupe lawmakers and the American public into believing Saddam Hussein was a grave threat.


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The Raw Story | Rediscovered testimony given by CIA director in 2001 suggests manipulation of pre-war intelligence


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Wednesday, November 16, 2005

scout prime: Black Bodies Remain Still.....Part II

Imagine this...
You watch on TV the news that your mother's city has been destroyed by this latest disaster. For days you wait to hear from her. Days pass into weeks but still no word. Your hope of finding her alive fades. Frantically you call everyone in government but to no avail. You tell yourself to let the rescuers do their job. You await word from the morgue but it does not come. You hear they are backed up so you wait. Two months later you are allowed to go to her home. Hoping to retrieve what you can..... documents, the precious family photos, you enter her home only to find your mother's decomposing body in her living room. You stumble out and fall to your knees in anguish asking.... "Why, How could she have been left like this?"

This would never happen in America you say? It is.

On Oct 3 the search for bodies in NOLA was called off despite the knowledge that bodies remained in unsearched homes in NOLA's 9th Ward (see previous post) The plan was for people to call 911 if they found a body despite the fact that people were not even allowed into the 9th ward. On October 12th, parts of the 9th Ward were opened for a "look and leave." The death toll rose as bodies were found. And the lower 9th ward, perhaps the most devastated area of NOLA, will not open to residents until December.


read the rest and weep...
scout prime: Black Bodies Remain Still.....Part II

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The US Used Chemical Weapons in Iraq - And Then Lied About It

Now we know napalm and phosphorus bombs have been dropped on Iraqis, why have the hawks failed to speak out?
by George Monbiot

Did US troops use chemical weapons in Falluja? The answer is yes. The proof is not to be found in the documentary broadcast on Italian TV last week, which has generated gigabytes of hype on the internet. It's a turkey, whose evidence that white phosphorus was fired at Iraqi troops is flimsy and circumstantial. But the bloggers debating it found the smoking gun.

The first account they unearthed in a magazine published by the US army. In the March 2005 edition of Field Artillery, officers from the 2nd Infantry's fire support element boast about their role in the attack on Falluja in November last year: "White Phosphorous. WP proved to be an effective and versatile munition. We used it for screening missions at two breeches and, later in the fight, as a potent psychological weapon against the insurgents in trench lines and spider holes when we could not get effects on them with HE [high explosive]. We fired 'shake and bake' missions at the insurgents, using WP to flush them out and HE to take them out."

The second, in California's North County Times, was by a reporter embedded with the marines in the April 2004 siege of Falluja. "'Gun up!' Millikin yelled ... grabbing a white phosphorus round from a nearby ammo can and holding it over the tube. 'Fire!' Bogert yelled, as Millikin dropped it. The boom kicked dust around the pit as they ran through the drill again and again, sending a mixture of burning white phosphorus and high explosives they call 'shake'n'bake' into... buildings where insurgents have been spotted all week."

White phosphorus is not listed in the schedules of the Chemical Weapons Convention. It can be legally used as a flare to illuminate the battlefield, or to produce smoke to hide troop movements from the enemy. Like other unlisted substances, it may be deployed for "Military purposes... not dependent on the use of the toxic properties of chemicals as a method of warfare". But it becomes a chemical weapon as soon as it is used directly against people. A chemical weapon can be "any chemical which through its chemical action on life processes can cause death, temporary incapacitation or permanent harm".

White phosphorus is fat-soluble and burns spontaneously on contact with the air. According to "The burns usually are multiple, deep, and variable in size. The solid in the eye produces severe injury. The particles continue to burn unless deprived of atmospheric oxygen... If service members are hit by pieces of white phosphorus, it could burn right down to the bone." As it oxidizes, it produces smoke composed of phosphorus pentoxide. According to the standard US industrial safety sheet, the smoke "releases heat on contact with moisture and will burn mucous surfaces... Contact... can cause severe eye burns and permanent damage."

read the rest:
The US Used Chemical Weapons in Iraq - And Then Lied About It

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The Bernie Bashers Gear Up

by Ruth Conniff

Perhaps the most exciting Senate candidate in the nation is the independent, Socialist Congressman from Vermont, Bernie Sanders.

Sanders is the real thing. A champion of his low-income, rural constituents--the dairy farmers and working poor of Vermont--and a star among Burlington progressives, Sanders has a compellingly straightforward way of talking about politics. And he has been tackling the problems that affect working families in a no-nonsense way. He was the first member of Congress to take a busload of constituents across the border to buy drugs in Canada, and he has had frequent, confrontational debates with Alan Greenspan when the former chairman of the Federal Reserve appeared before Congress.

When I interviewed Sanders recently for The Progressive, he warned that the Republicans' mounting troubles do not spell easy victory for the Democrats, who need to become more of a real opposition. As for the left, he urged liberals and progressives of all stripes to get out and talk to people who don't already agree with us. "We are right on the issues," he said, but the social and cultural divide is ours to bridge.

Of the Republican campaign against him, which was then just shaping up, Sanders said: "If you look at what they did to Max Cleland and what they did to John Kerry, we have a pretty good idea of what they can do. It�s the politics of personal destruction. They are incapable of debating issues, because their positions on all of the issues are horrendous. Their style has always been to try to personally destroy whom they run against. So we expect a great deal of negativity."

Sanders can't be surprised by the recent attack by Swift Boat Veterans for Truth slimeball John O'Neill, who calls Sanders "the most dangerous liberal in America." Sanders's candidacy "rises to the same level of danger as the thought of John Kerry as President," O'Neill writes on Newsmax.

As David Sirota points out on Huffington Post, the O'Neill screed against Sanders is as dishonest as was the Swift Boat Veterans' devastating attack on Kerry in the last Presidential election. Veterans' issues are among Sanders's top concerns, and he has been a tireless advocate for vets, loudly opposing Bush Administration efforts to cut veteran health benefits. Sanders has also led a long campaign for recognition of Gulf War Syndrome.

But the attack machine that O'Neill is part of works, as Sanders says, by ignoring issues and trying to smear candidates personally. It is also classic Karl Rove style to attack candidates not on their weaknesses but on their strengths--hence the broadside against John Kerry's military service.

I asked Sanders whether he thought the socialist label would be a big deal in this campaign. He shook his head. He has run so many campaigns, including one in which he was targeted by Newt Gingrich, that Vermont voters are too familiar with him to respond to the same old red baiting.

Instead, look for the really dirty campaign style of the type Karl Rove used against John McCain, John Kerry, and Ann Richards in her last Texas governor's race, to his everlasting discredit.

Sanders has been down that road before. But this time the stakes are bigger.

� 2005 The Progressive
The Bernie Bashers Gear Up

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Reagan to Sparta: 25 Years of Camouflage Conservatism

by Pierre Tristam

The Wall Street Journal carried a story recently about companies that specialize in a particular kind of personal training. They hire soldiers who've finished their tour of duty in Iraq, then unleash drill-sergeant routines -- intimidation, screams, punishment, humiliation -- against "recruits" in fitness programs. If a participant skips a session, the article noted, "active-duty or former Marines who run the sessions have been known to show up in full uniform at the boot-camper's workplace, demanding an explanation." Grown men and women, with free will, with brains, are paying good money for that sort of sadomasochism. Companies are putting employees through it. News media are in awe.

But there's nothing surprising here. "The martial enthusiasm of the people" that Edward Gibbon detected as a telling ingredient of Rome's decline is at it again in our own imperial splurge. The camouflaging of America has been the undercurrent since Ronald Reagan's invasion of Grenada in 1983. That was step one in the rehabilitation from Vietnam and the burial of 1960s idealism -- what even George Wallace once called "the sissy attitude of Lyndon Johnson and all the intellectual morons and theoreticians he has around him." So it is today. Athenian ideals are for sissies. America is the new Sparta: harsh, Darwinian, unforgiving. That it is increasingly unforgiven abroad doesn't register. The country is too busy indulging its autocratic self-esteem. The United States is so comfortable with extremes that it is often willing to dance with fundamentalism, speak the language of reactionaries and -- in the name of security, efficiency, law and order -- tip the hat to methods of fascism. This is the case in virtually every sphere, public and private.

Conservatives or Republicans dominate all three branches of the federal government, the Federal Reserve, every federal regulatory agency and every advisory board to such agencies as the National Institutes of Health and the National Endowment for the Arts. Republican governors rule over 28 states. The Republican Party controls both legislative chambers in 20 states, compared with 19 for Democrats. In some states, Florida among them, Democrats may as well not exist. And in some states, Kansas among them, medievalism is making a comeback as faith is confused with science.

read the rest:
Reagan to Sparta: 25 Years of Camouflage Conservatism">click me

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Senators Snowe and Collins Must Work to Defeat Alito's Supreme Court Nomination

by Greg Bates

The positions of Senators Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins on Judge Samuel Alito�s nomination to the Supreme Court will indelibly define their records not on politics but on ethics. As two members of the so-called gang of 14 that can prevent filibusters of judicial nominees, they have an outsized power to affect the outcome, and a special obligation to their country. They should reject his nomination.

Partisan politics aside, Alito�s inability to follow his own ethical standards disqualifies him from sitting on the nation�s highest court.

Answering a question during his U.S. Senate confirmation hearings for the Third Circuit Court of Appeals in 1990, Alito promised in writing that he would �disqualify� himself from cases involving companies he had a financial interest in, naming Smith Barney and Vanguard mutual funds. He broke that promise in 1996, sitting in judgment of a case involving Smith Barney and then again in 2002 in Monga v. Ottenberg, involving Vanguard. In neither case did he initiate the disclosure of his investments in the companies.

In his defense, Judge Alito reportedly stated that a computer �glitch� mistakenly caused the 2002 case to be assigned to him. Regarding his written answer in 1990, he now asserts he "realized that I had been unduly restrictive on my 1990 questionnaire." Others argue that promises to the Senate do not constitute legal obligations. Most importantly, in the case involving Vanguard, Alito did eventually recuse himself, saying "I do not believe that I am required to disqualify myself based on my ownership of the mutual fund shares. Nor do I believe that I am a party" to the lawsuit. "However, it has always been my personal practice to recuse in any case in which any possible question might arise. Under the circumstances here, I am voluntarily recusing in this case."

Under scrutiny, his excuses collapse. Added to his statement should be that recusal is his personal practice �only when caught.� He recused himself after the plaintiff exposed his holdings, reported to be between $390,000 and just under $1 million, more than half his investments. As his 1990 promise clearly implies, recusal must be initiated by judges themselves, and not conditional on investigations by plaintiffs.

While a promise to the Senate is not legally binding, if written promises on such critical questions of recusal can later be discarded, then nominees can just tell Senators what they want to hear, turning confirmation hearings into charades.

read the rest:
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Tuesday, November 15, 2005

AMERICAblog: Because a great nation deserves the truth

Very disturbing story about Bush's state of mind in the Wash Times magazine
by John in DC - 11/15/2005 05:26:00 PM

The Washington Times, you may know, is an "independent" newspaper that is basically the mouthpiece of the Republican party. For that reason, it sometimes gets inside scoops as to what the GOP is thinking, and even what's going on inside the White House. For that reason, their latest story on Bush is extremely disturbing:

President Bush feels betrayed by several of his most senior aides and advisors and has severely restricted access to the Oval Office, administration sources say. The president's reclusiveness in the face of relentless public scrutiny of the U.S.-led war in Iraq and White House leaks regarding CIA operative Valerie Plame has become so extreme that Mr. Bush has also reduced contact with his father, former President George H.W. Bush, administration sources said on the condition of anonymity.

Matt Drudge adds on his site:

The sources said Mr. Bush maintains daily contact with only four people: first lady Laura Bush, his mother, Barbara Bush, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Undersecretary of State Karen Hughes. The sources also say that Mr. Bush has stopped talking with his father, except on family occasions.

So basically Bush is melting down. (Or, at the very least, the number one propaganda organ of the GOP wants us to think Bush is losing it - that's just bizarre on its face, and shows had bad things are for Bush, and the party.) This is rather disturbing in view of the increased chatter about Bush, an alcoholic who never sought treatment, now reportedly drinking again.

This man is running our country. And he won't speak to anyone - ANYONE - other than Condi Rice, his mom, and Karen Hughes? That leaves out the entire Dept of Defense - kind of important during war time - the CIA, every other agency and the entire White House staff.

It honestly sounds like he's losing control.

And he's in charge of our country.

Not just worst president ever. But quickly becoming scariest president ever.



AMERICAblog: Because a great nation deserves the truth


And lest we forget, read about the scarey times in Nixon’s White House when he was melting down:

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Policymakers on Torture Take Note -- Remember Pinochet

Published on Monday, November 14, 2005 by the San Francisco Chronicle
Policymakers on Torture Take Note -- Remember Pinochet
by Philippe Sands

Before embarking on international travels, David Addington and others who are said to be closely associated with the crafting of the Bush administration's policy on the interrogation of detainees would do well to reflect on the fate of Augusto Pinochet.

The Chilean senator and former head of state was unexpectedly arrested during a visit to London on Oct. 16, 1998, at the request of a Spanish judge who sought his extradition on various charges of international criminality, including torture.

The House of Lords -- Britain's upper house -- ruled that the 1984 convention prohibiting torture removed any right he might have to claim immunity from the English courts and gave a green light to the continuation of extradition proceedings.

As counsel for Human Rights Watch, I participated in that case. This allowed me to witness the case firsthand. It also gave me the opportunity to chat with Pinochet's advisers, and one conversation in particular has remained vividly at the forefront of my mind.

"It never occurred to us that the torture convention would be used to detain the senator," remarked the human rights adviser who had been involved in the decision by Pinochet and Chile to ratify the Convention Against Torture in 1988.

Pinochet spent more than a year in custody before being returned to Chile on medical grounds.

The adviser's words came back to me recently, during a debate with Professor John Yoo at the World Affairs Council of San Francisco.

Yoo, a UC Berkeley law professor, is the author of legal advice that rode roughshod over the torture convention, and contributed to at least one opinion that ignored the well-established international definition of torture.

These opinions are plainly inconsistent with the requirements of international law. They may have opened a door into the forbidden world of torture, and were perhaps offered as part of a policy on the part of the U.S. administration to allow more aggressive interrogation techniques in the "war on terror."

Yoo was well aware of the torture convention. However, when I raised the Pinochet precedent in our debate, he seemed slightly taken aback.

It seems he may not have turned his mind to the possibility that a legal adviser associated with a policy that permits torture contrary to international legal obligations could be subject to international investigation.

How might this happen?

The United States has led the world in promoting international human rights laws. It played a leading role in negotiating a global convention that would outlaw the use of torture in any circumstances.

The convention sets up an elaborate enforcement mechanism. The United States and the 140- plus other countries that have joined the convention agree to take certain actions if any person who has committed torture is found on their territory.

Such a person is to be investigated, and if the facts warrant, must either be prosecuted for the crime of torture or extradited to another country that will prosecute.

The convention intends to avoid impunity for this most serious of international crimes by removing the possibility that the torturer will be able to find any safe haven. This was the basis for Pinochet's arrest in Britain.

The potential problem for Yoo, vice presidential chief of staff David Addington and others who may have been associated with torture, is to be found in Article 4 of the convention. This section criminalizes not only the act of torture itself but also other acts, including "an act by any person which constitutes complicity or participation in torture."

Can the mere drafting of legal advice that authorizes a policy of torture amount to complicity in torture?

Any case will turn on its particular facts. A prosecutor would have to establish that there was a direct causal connection between the legal advice and the carrying out of particular acts of torture, or perhaps a clear relationship between the legal advice and a governmental policy that permitted torture (or turned a blind eye to it).

That evidence is not yet established, and it would be inappropriate to prejudge the outcome of any investigations that may be carried out in the future.

Nevertheless, those associated with the legal opinions and their surrounding policies should be aware that there is case law from Nuremberg that suggests that lawyers and policymakers can be criminally liable for the advice they have given and the decisions they have taken.

In the case of United States vs. Josef Altstotter, some of the accused were lawyers who had been involved in enacting and enforcing Nazi laws and Hitler decrees that permitted crimes against humanity. None of the defendants was charged with murder or the abuse of a particular person. They were charged with participating in a governmentally organized system of cruelty. As the tribunal put it: "The dagger of the assassin was concealed beneath the robe of the jurist." Eight of the 14 were convicted in December 1947 for "complicity in international crime."

It is not just lawyers who should beware. Some media reports have suggested that a chief architect of the policy that gave rise to the legal advice was Addington, who has recently been appointed as the vice president's chief of staff, after Lewis Libby's indictment and resignation.

If Addington did play such a role, and if further evidence emerges that acts of torture resulted from the existence of any such policy, then he too may wish to reflect carefully before embarking on foreign travels.

Responsibility may go even higher in the administration's hierarchy.

These are early days in understanding the precise relationship between the administration's policy on detainee interrogations, the legal advice and the allegations of abuse at Guantanamo, Abu Ghraib and elsewhere.

There is a need for a full and independent investigation. There is an urgent need to bring into law Sen. John McCain's sensible and welcome proposal to explicitly ban abusive treatment and give effect to the United States' obligations under the torture convention.

In the meantime, the Pinochet and Altstotter cases and the torture convention should serve as a salutary reminder of the growing reach of international criminal law.

The possibility cannot be excluded that the Pinochet precedent will come back to haunt Addington, Yoo and others in the Bush administration. International law is not just for other people in other countries. Ignoring it will not be cost-free, including worries about foreign travel, as former Peruvian president Alberto Fujimori learned last week when he was taken into custody in Chile.

Philippe Sands is professor of law at University College London and a practicing barrister. He is the author of "Lawless World: America and the Making and Breaking Global Rules," published by Viking. Contact us at

Copyright © 2005 San Francisco Chronicle



Policymakers on Torture Take Note -- Remember Pinochet

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Evolution, Ecology and `Malignant Design'

Published on Monday, November 14, 2005 by the Toronto Star (Canada)
Evolution, Ecology and 'Malignant Design'
by Noam Chomsky

President George W. Bush favors teaching both evolution and "intelligent design" in schools, "so people can know what the debate is about."

To proponents, intelligent design is the notion that the universe is too complex to have developed without a nudge from a higher power than evolution or natural selection.

To detractors, intelligent design is creationism — the literal interpretation of the Book of Genesis — in a thin guise, or simply vacuous, about as interesting as "I don't understand" as has always been true in the sciences before understanding is reached.

Accordingly, there cannot be a "debate."

The teaching of evolution has long been difficult in the United States. Now, a national movement has emerged to promote the teaching of intelligent design in schools.

The issue has famously surfaced in a courtroom in Dover, Pa., where a school board is requiring students to hear a statement about intelligent design in a biology class — and parents mindful of the U.S. Constitution's church/state separation have sued the board.

In the interest of fairness, perhaps the president's speechwriters should take him seriously when they have him say that schools should be open-minded and teach all points of view.

So far, however, the curriculum has not encompassed one obvious point of view: malignant design. Unlike intelligent design, for which the evidence is zero, malignant design has tons of empirical evidence, much more than Darwinian evolution, by some criteria: the world's cruelty.

Be that as it may, the background of the current evolution/intelligent design controversy is the widespread rejection of science, a phenomenon with deep roots in American history that has been cynically exploited for narrow political gain during the last 25 years.

Intelligent design raises the question of whether it is intelligent to disregard scientific evidence about matters of supreme importance to the nation and the world — like global warming.

An old-fashioned conservative would believe in the value of Enlightenment ideals — rationality, critical analysis, freedom of speech, freedom of inquiry — and would try to adapt them to a modern society.

America's Founding Fathers, children of the Enlightenment, championed those ideals and took pains to create a constitution that espoused religious freedom yet separated church and state.

The United States, despite the occasional messianism of its leaders, isn't a theocracy.

In our time, Bush administration hostility to scientific inquiry puts the world at risk. Environmental catastrophe, whether you think the world has been developing only since Genesis or for eons, is far too serious to ignore.

In preparation for the G8 summit this past summer, the scientific academies of all eight member nations, joined by those of China, India and Brazil, called on the leaders of the rich countries to take urgent action to head off global warming.

"The scientific understanding of climate change is now sufficiently clear to justify prompt action," their statement said. "It is vital that all nations identify cost-effective steps that they can take now, to contribute to substantial and long-term reduction in net global greenhouse gas emissions."

A few months earlier, at the 2005 annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, leading U.S. climate researchers released "the most compelling evidence yet" that human activities are responsible for global warming, according to The Financial Times.

They predicted major climatic effects, including severe reductions in water supplies in regions that rely on rivers fed by melting snow and glaciers.

Other prominent researchers at the session reported evidence that the melting of Arctic and Greenland ice sheets is causing changes in the sea's salinity balance that threaten "to shut down the Ocean Conveyor Belt, which transfers heat from the tropics toward the polar regions through currents such as the Gulf Stream."

Like the statement of the National Academies for the G8 summit, "the most compelling evidence yet" received scant notice in the United States, despite the attention given in the same days to the implementation of the Kyoto protocols, with the most important government refusing to take part.

It is important to stress "government." The standard report that the United States stands almost alone in rejecting the Kyoto protocols is correct only if the phrase "United States" excludes its population, which strongly favors the Kyoto pact (73 per cent, according to a July poll by the Program on International Policy Attitudes).

Perhaps only the word "malignant" could describe a failure to acknowledge, much less address, the all-too-scientific issue of climate change.

Thus, the "moral clarity" of the Bush administration extends to its cavalier attitude toward the fate of our grandchildren.

Author and activist Noam Chomsky is a linguistics professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

© 2005 Toronto Star



Evolution, Ecology and `Malignant Design'

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Losing Habeas Corpus - "A More Dangerous Engine of Arbitrary Government"

Published on Monday, November 14, 2005 by

by Thom Hartmann

About a year ago, an op-ed article on Al Jazeerah's website by Fawaz Turki titled "For Bush, A Hot Line To Churchill" opened by noting that Tony Blair had given George W. Bush a bust of Winston Churchill, which sits in Bush's Oval Office. Turki then quotes Churchill:

"The power of the executive to cast a man into prison without formulating any charge known to the law, and particularly to deny him the judgment of his peers, is in the highest degree odious, and the foundation of all totalitarian government whether Nazi or Communist."

The oldest human right defined in the history of English-speaking civilization is the right to challenge that "power of the executive" through the use of habeas corpus laws. Habeas corpus is roughly Latin for "hold the body," and is used in law to mean that a government must either charge a person with a crime or let them go free.

And last week, U.S. Senate Republicans (with the help of five Senate Democrats) passed a bill that would begin to take down that right.

Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, in proposing the legislation, said, "It is clear to me from Abu Ghraib backward, forward, and other things we know about, that at times we have lost our way in fighting this war." Few would disagree. "What we are trying to do in a series of amendments," Graham added, "is recapture the moral high ground and provide guidance to our troops."

But destroying habeas corpus will not "recapture the moral high ground" or "provide guidance for our troops." It may, however, throw our troops (and citizens) into a living hell if they're captured by other governments that have chosen to follow our example.

This attack on eight centuries of English law is no small thing. While their intent was to deny Guantanamo Bay Concentration Camp detainees the right to see a judge or jury, it could just as easily extend to you and me. (Already two American citizens have been arbitrarily stripped of their habeas corpus rights by the Bush administration - Jose Padilla is still languishing in prison incommunicado and Yasser Hamdi was deported to the police state of Saudi Arabia where every Friday they conduct public floggings and executions.)

Section 9, Clause 2, of Article I of the United States Constitution says: "The Privilege of the Writ of Habeas Corpus shall not be suspended, unless when in Cases of Rebellion or Invasion the public Safety may require it."

Abraham Lincoln was the first president (on March 3, 1863) to suspend habeas corpus so he could imprison those he considered a threat until the war was over. Congress invoked this power again during Reconstruction when President Grant requested The Ku Klux Klan Act in 1871 to put down a rebellion in South Carolina. Those are the only two fully legal suspensions of habeas corpus in the history of the United States (and Lincoln's is still being debated).

The United States hasn't suffered a "Rebellion" or an "Invasion" Lincoln's and Grant's administrations. There are no foreign armies on our soil, seizing our cities. No states or municipalities are seriously talking about secession. Yet the U.S. Senate wants to tinker with habeas corpus.

The modern institution of civil and human rights, and particularly the writ of habeas corpus, began in June of 1215 when King John was forced by the feudal lords to sign the Magna Carta at Runnymede. Although that document mostly protected "freemen" - what were then known as feudal lords or barons, and today known as CEOs and millionaires - rather than the average person, it initiated a series of events that echo to this day.

Two of the most critical parts of the Magna Carta were articles 38 and 39, which established the foundation for what is now known as "habeas corpus" laws, as well as the Fourth through Eighth Amendments of our Constitution and hundreds of other federal and state due process provisions.

Articles 38 and 39 of the Magna Carta said:

"38 In future no official shall place a man on trial upon his own unsupported statement, without producing credible witnesses to the truth of it.

"39 No free man shall be seized or imprisoned, or stripped of his rights or possessions, or outlawed or exiled, or deprived of his standing in any other way, nor will we proceed with force against him, or send others to do so, except by the lawful judgment of his equals or by the law of the land."

This was radical stuff, and over the next four hundred years average people increasingly wanted for themselves these same protections from the abuse of the power of government or great wealth. But from 1215 to 1628, outside of the privileges enjoyed by the feudal lords, the average person could be arrested and imprisoned at the whim of the king with no recourse to the courts.

Then, in 1627, King Charles I overstepped, and the people snapped. Charles I threw into jail five knights in a tax disagreement, and the knights sued the King, asserting their habeas corpus right to be free or on bail unless convicted of a crime.

King Charles I, in response, invoked his right to simply imprison anybody he wanted (other than the rich), anytime he wanted, as he said, "per speciale Mandatum Domini Regis."

This is essentially the same argument that George W. Bush makes today for why he has the right to detain both citizens and non-citizens solely on his own say-so: because he's in charge. And it's an argument now supported by Senate Republicans and five Democrats.

But just as George's decree is meeting resistance, Charles' decree wasn't well received. The result of his overt assault on the rights of citizens led to a sort of revolt in the British Parliament, producing the 1628 "Petition of Right" law, an early version of our Fourth through Eighth Amendments, which restated Articles 38 and 39 of the Magna Carta and added that "writs of habeas corpus, [are] there to undergo and receive [only] as the court should order." It was later strengthened with the "Habeas Corpus Act of 1640" and a second "Habeas Corpus Act of 1679."

Thus, the right to suspend habeas corpus no longer was held by the King. It was exercised solely by the people's (elected and hereditary) representatives in the Parliament.

The third George to govern the United Kingdom confronted this in 1815 when he came into possession of Napoleon Bonaparte. British laws were so explicit that everybody was entitled to habeas corpus - even people who were not British citizens - that when Napoleon surrendered on the deck of the British flagship Bellerophon after the battle of Waterloo in 1815, the British Parliament had to pass a law ("An Act For The More Effectually Detaining In Custody Napoleon Bonaparte") to suspend habeas corpus so King George III could legally continue to hold him prisoner (and then legally exile him to a British fortification on a distant island).

Now, Congress is moving to similarly detain people or exile them to camps on a distant island. Except these people are not Napoleon Bonapartes. As The New York Times noted in a November 12, 2005 editorial, "according to government and military officials, an overwhelming majority [of the Guantanamo concentration camp detainees] should not have been taken prisoner in the first place."

It may well be that the only reason these Republicans are so determined to keep our Guantanamo prisoners incarcerated is to avoid the embarrassment and negative political fallout that would ensue if they were released and told the world's media their stories of false arrest, torture, illegal imprisonment, and hunger strikes.

The Founders must be turning in their graves. As Alexander Hamilton - arguably the most conservative of the Founders - wrote in Federalist 84:

"The establishment of the writ of habeas corpus ... are perhaps greater securities to liberty and republicanism than any it [the Constitution] contains. ...[T]he practice of arbitrary imprisonments have been, in all ages, the favorite and most formidable instruments of tyranny. The observations of the judicious [British 18th century legal scholar] Blackstone, in reference to the latter, are well worthy of recital:

"'To bereave a man of life,' says he, 'or by violence to confiscate his estate, without accusation or trial, would be so gross and notorious an act of despotism, as must at once convey the alarm of tyranny throughout the whole nation; but confinement of the person, by secretly hurrying him to jail, where his sufferings are unknown or forgotten, is a less public, a less striking, and therefore A MORE DANGEROUS ENGINE of arbitrary government.'''
[Capitals all Hamilton's from the original.]

The question, ultimately, is whether our nation will continue to stand for the values upon which it was founded.

Early American conservatives suggested that democracy was so ultimately weak it couldn't withstand the assault of newspaper editors and citizens who spoke out against it, or terrorists from the Islamic Barbary Coast, leading John Adams to pass America's first PATRIOT Act-like laws, the Alien and Sedition Acts of 1798. President Thomas Jefferson rebuked those who wanted America ruled by an iron-handed presidency that could - as Adams had - throw people in jail for "crimes" such as speaking political opinion, or without constitutional due process.

"I know, indeed," Jefferson said in his first inaugural address on March 4, 1801, "that some honest men fear that a republican government cannot be strong; that this government is not strong enough.

But, Jefferson said, our nation was "the world's best hope," and because of our strong commitment to democracy, "the strongest government on earth."

The sum of this, Jefferson said, was found in "freedom of person under the protection of the habeas corpus; and trial by juries impartially selected. These principles form the bright constellation which has gone before us, and guided our steps through an age of revolution and reformation.

"The wisdom of our sages and the blood of our heroes have been devoted to their attainment. They should be the creed of our political faith, the text of civil instruction, the touchstone by which to try the services of those we trust; and should we wander from them in moments of error or alarm, let us hasten to retrace our steps and to regain the road which alone leads to peace, liberty, and safety."

When I was working in Russia some years ago, a friend in Kaliningrad told me a perhaps apocryphal story about Nikita Khrushchev, who, following Stalin's death, gave a speech to the Politburo denouncing Stalin's policies. A few minutes into Khrushchev's diatribe, somebody shouted out, "Why didn't you challenge him then, the way you are now?"

The room fell silent, as Khrushchev angrily swept the audience with his glare. "Who said that?" he asked in a reasoned voice. Silence.

"Who said that?" Khrushchev demanded, leaning forward. Silence.

Pounding his fist on the podium to accent each word, he screamed, "Who - said - that?" Still no answer.

Finally, after a long and strained silence, the elected politicians in the room fearful to even cough, a corner of Khrushchev's mouth lifted into a smile.

"Now you know," he said with a chuckle, "why I did not speak up against Stalin when I sat where you now sit."

The question for our day is who will speak up against Stalinist policies in America? Who will speak against the man who punishes reporters and news organizations by cutting off their access; who punishes politicians by targeting them in their home districts; who punishes truth-tellers in the Executive branch by character assassination that even extends to destroying their spouse's careers? And why is our press doing such a pathetic job that in all probability 95 percent of Americans don't even know that the U.S. Senate voted last week to begin the process of suspending habeas corpus?

As Alexander Hamilton wrote in Federalist Number 8:

"The violent destruction of life and property incident to war; the continual effort and alarm attendant on a state of continual danger, will compel nations the most attached to liberty, to resort for repose and security to institutions which have a tendency to destroy their civil and political rights. To be more safe, they, at length, become willing to run the risk of being less free.”

We must not make the mistake that Jefferson and Hamilton warned us against. Contact your U.S. Senators (the Capitol's phone number is 202 225-3121) and tell them to stop this assault on eight hundred years of legal precedent by leaving our habeas corpus laws intact and quickly moving to ensure that the captives in our Guantanamo Bay Concentration Camps (and other, overseas, secret prisons) have the fundamental human rights of habeas corpus our Supreme Court has already ruled they should be accorded.
Thom Hartmann [thom (at)] is a Project Censored Award-winning best-selling author and host of a nationally syndicated daily progressive talk show carried on the Air America Radio network. His most recent books include "What Would Jefferson Do?" and "Ultimate Sacrifice: John and Robert Kennedy, the Plan for a Coup in Cuba, and the Murder of JFK" co-authored by Lamar Waldron.


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Las Vegas SUN: Bottled Water Giant Becomes Target

Bottled Water Giant Becomes Target

FRYEBURG, Maine (AP) -

In an environmentally conscious state with a lackluster economy, Poland Spring has been a decades-long delight: a nonpolluting industry that relies on a renewable resource to provide hundreds of good-paying jobs in small towns where they are often hard to come by.

The clear plastic bottle of spring water with the dark green label has become as much a part of Maine's image as a pair of L.L. Bean boots. The company's longtime slogan says it all: "Poland Spring. What it means to be from Maine."

But the love affair is showing signs of strain.

Poland Spring is a target of a statewide citizen initiative campaign to impose what is thought to be a first-in-the-nation tax on the water it draws from Maine's underground aquifers. At the same time, the company's expansion plans are running into local opposition from residents who are annoyed by tanker truck traffic and worry about their groundwater drying up.

The initiative campaign has prompted Poland Spring to suspend plans to add a third Maine bottling plant to its existing facilities in Poland and Hollis.

Its parent company has even warned that approval of the 20-cent-per-gallon tax could force Poland Spring to abandon the state.

"If this tax ever were to be approved, we would have to seriously re-evaluate our ability to continue to do business in Maine," said Kim Jeffery, president of Nestle Waters North America, a unit of Swiss giant Nestle SA, the world's biggest food and beverage company.

It's a surprising turn of events for one of the state's best-known economic successes, a business that was mired in bankruptcy when it was acquired by Perrier 25 years ago and grew in line with America's thirst for bottled water. In the past five years alone, annual sales soared from $406 million to $624 million.


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Las Vegas SUN: Bottled Water Giant Becomes Target 

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Our Faith in Science - New York Times

Our Faith in Science
Washington, D.C.

SCIENCE has always fascinated me. As a child in Tibet, I was keenly curious about how things worked. When I got a toy I would play with it a bit, then take it apart to see how it was put together. As I became older, I applied the same scrutiny to a movie projector and an antique automobile.

At one point I became particularly intrigued by an old telescope, with which I would study the heavens. One night while looking at the moon I realized that there were shadows on its surface. I corralled my two main tutors to show them, because this was contrary to the ancient version of cosmology I had been taught, which held that the moon was a heavenly body that emitted its own light.

But through my telescope the moon was clearly just a barren rock, pocked with craters. If the author of that fourth-century treatise were writing today, I'm sure he would write the chapter on cosmology differently.

If science proves some belief of Buddhism wrong, then Buddhism will have to change. In my view, science and Buddhism share a search for the truth and for understanding reality. By learning from science about aspects of reality where its understanding may be more advanced, I believe that Buddhism enriches its own worldview.

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Our Faith in Science - New York Times

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Dalai Lama Links Science, Buddhism - Yahoo! News

Dalai Lama Links Science, Buddhism

By ELIZABETH WHITE, Associated Press Writer Sat Nov 12, 7:57 PM ET

WASHINGTON - Science and Buddhism share a quest of open investigation into the nature of reality, and science can be a pathway to discovering well-being and happiness, the Dalai Lama told the Society for Neuroscience on Saturday.

Tibet's spiritual leader, speaking alternately in English and through a translator, praised neuroscience � the study of the brain and nervous system � as important work he's been interested in for 15 years.

"I believe we want happiness," he said, adding that the way to transform society is through education and by boosting among individuals, families and communities "some of the useful emotions such as compassion or forgiveness."

Science is particularly important, he said, because it reaches both the religious and nonreligious and can help identify the factors and forces that promote well-being.

And on the growing controversy surrounding the teaching of intelligent design in addition to evolution in U.S. classrooms, the Dalai Lama said the greater the dialogue, the better.

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Dalai Lama Links Science, Buddhism - Yahoo! News

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Monday, November 14, 2005

Target digs itself a deeper hole in emergency contraceptive scandal

by John in DC - 11/14/2005 02:06:00 PM

AMERICAblog reader, and fellow blogger, Joseph Hughes of Hughes for America, just sent me the latest response from Target about their growing emergency contraception scandal.

Full disclosure, I've worked as a consultant for Planned Parenthood for a number of years, on this issue and every other. They're a great organization, and I'd be pushing this issue even if I'd never heard of them. This issue really infuriates me, and scares me too. It isn't just about birth control. This is part of the religious right's larger agenda to "target" gays, women, and other minorities. They hope to slowly and surely take away all of our rights, one small bit at a time. That is what's going on here. Target is caving to America's Taliban, and it needs to stop.

As you may recall, Target is letting its pharmacists refuse to fill your order for emergency contracptive pills (Plan B, as it's called) simply because they find your prescription immoral. Target is now saying that they'll fill your prescription in a "timely manner" at another pharmacy, or at their pharmacy at a later time (presumably when their holier-than-thou employee is on break).

I don't know about you, but when I go to the pharmacist, I don't want him sending me to another Target 40 miles away simply because he has religious issues with my prescription. It's none of his business what prescription I'm getting filled, and short of there being a glaring mistake in my prescription a la "It's a Wonderful Life" - i.e., instead of allergy pills someone gave me cyanide - it's none of his damn business passing religious judgment on my prescriptions, my illnesses, my prefered form of treatment, or me.

I already have a priest, and he doesn't work at Target, thank you.


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AMERICAblog: Because a great nation deserves the truth

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Sunday, November 13, 2005

Sony Hell

quote ATRIOS:
I've been watching with amusement the tale of Sony, whose copy protection system on some CDs they sell installs nasty unremovable malware on your computer.

As nasty as that is, I think it's trumped by aspects of their EULA. Apparently, according to Sony, if you declare bankruptcy you are legally required to delete all your music.
You can't make this shit up.

Needless to say, I'd recommend not buying any Sony CDs in the future.

(via slashdot)

-Atrios 11:04 AM


More here, from the EFF (Electronic Frontier Foundation):



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Open Letter To The President

You know you’re in trouble when even your most steadfast, head-in-the-sand supporters start bagging on you.



By: MartinAKnight · Section: Diaries

Good day Mr. President,

With all due respect, sir, what in the name of the Almighty is wrong with you?

And when I ask you this question I do believe I am speaking for the vast majority of those people who walked the precincts, sent down the checks, who cheered loudest when the Ohio results came in last year in November. I am talking about your supporters. Those of us who have and most likely will continue to stick by you until the day you finally return to Crawford three years from now.

We are the ones who have kept your poll numbers up when everyone else expected and hoped for them to go down. We are the ones who have remained your staunchest supporters even as the world mocked and insulted you. More importantly, We are the ones who got you elected, re-elected and provided you with majorities in both Houses of Congress, not just once, but twice.

We are the ones who hope and pray that you succeed.

So, again, with all due respect Mr. President, listen and take heed; we're tired. We're sick and tired.


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