Wednesday, November 30, 2005
11-30-05: Nope, the hack test won't be today
What's going on with California Secretary of State Bruce McPherson?
- He asks Black Box Voting to do a test, but tells the press he's asked Finnish security expert Harri Hursti to do it, before he formally invites Hursti or obtains any agreement from Hursti to do the test;
- He gives Black Box Voting a Nov. 30 deadline, then tells the press he has no idea where the Nov. 30 date came from.
- He asks Black Box Voting to confirm they intend to do the test, they confirm. BBV never hears from the sec. state's office again.
- The participants in the test learn by reading in the newspaper... More
Black Box Voting site
Sunday, November 27, 2005
By RIVA D. ATLAS
and MARY WILLIAMS WALSH
Published: November 27, 2005
(Excerpt) Click here to read the entire article.
Pension officials who have been shaken by market downturns and persistent deficits are attracted by hedge funds' promise of richer, or more consistent, returns. But the trend has caused some consultants and academics to voice cautions. They question whether hedge funds, with risks that are hard to measure, are appropriate for pension funds, whose sole purpose, by law, is to pay out predetermined benefits to retired workers.
Those benefits are considered so crucial that they are guaranteed: corporate pension failures are covered by the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation, a federal agency, while pension failures by state and local governments are covered by taxpayers. Given that the benefits are paid out on a set schedule, critics wonder whether it makes sense to rely on investments whose returns are hard to predict, managed by private partnerships that disclose little about their operations and charge some of the highest fees on Wall Street.
"It's very inappropriate when the company is offering a pension plan that is guaranteed by the federal government," said Zvi Bodie, a professor of finance and economics at Boston University who is enthusiastic about hedge funds in other contexts.
Hedge funds make large, sophisticated investments based on the premise that by swimming outside the currents of the markets, often betting against conventional wisdom, they can outperform other investments. Hedge funds became famous in the 1990's, when managers like Michael Steinhardt and George Soros made huge swashbuckling bets that sometimes produced returns of 30 percent or more.
More recently, hedge funds have made headlines when they ran into trouble: Long-Term Capital Management, a hedge fund whose principals included two Nobel Prize-winning economists, nearly collapsed in 1998; and this summer, Bayou Group, a $450 million hedge fund based in Connecticut, shut down after most of its money disappeared. Its two officers have pleaded guilty to fraud charges.
Hedge funds have traditionally been only for wealthy, sophisticated investors so regulators have not monitored them as they have stocks or mutual funds, although they are starting to do so.
A BUZZFLASH GUEST CONTRIBUTION
by Kristina Borjesson
(Excerpt) The entire article is lengthy and excellent. Click here to read it.
Then there was the Office of Special Plans [OSP] for advance war planning and media strategy. Created by Undersecretary of Defense Douglas Feith, it was hidden away on the Pentagon's fifth floor. The OSP operated in secret. Retired Air Force Lieutenant Karen Kwiatkowski, who was on staff there, says, "We were instructed at a staff meeting that this office was not to be discussed or explained and if people in the Joint Staff, among others, asked, we were to offer no comment." One of the OSP's tasks, according to Bamford, was to "target doubters and non-believers in the government, from the CIA to the Secretary of State. Those who wouldn't go along with the OSP's false information [courtesy of Ahmed Chalabi] or agenda, like CIA intelligence experts and General Anthony Zinni, former commander of Middle East Forces, were attacked and put on enemies lists."
The president, vice-president and Ahmed Chalabi weren't necessarily looking for good intelligence, just pro-war intelligence. Chalabi was the administration's pick to head up Iraq after the invasion. Currently wanted in Jordan for embezzling millions of dollars from a bank, he has been serving as Iraq's oil minister. Chalabi is probably still the administration's top pick for running that country, because he has promised to protect U.S. interests and to make a peace deal with Israel.
In 2002, when the Senate Appropriations Committee demanded to know why the State Department was paying Chalabi's INC for intelligence, the INC sent a letter saying that their information was going directly to William Luti in Rumsfeld's office and John Hannah in Cheney's office. The Pentagon's Kwiatkowski confirmed that the OSP had a "very close relationship with Cheney's office" and told Knight Ridder's Jonathan Landay that staff members in Douglas Feith's office were giving talking points and position papers based on the INC's bogus information to conservative columnists and influential journalists.
Then there was the White House Iraq Group, headed up by Bush's chief of staff, Andrew Card, and charged with selling the war to the public. Karl Rove, Condoleezza Rice and Scooter Libby were members of this group. A computer disk leaked in 2002 showed that they were planning a fall media blitz featuring frightening images of mushroom clouds as well as biological and chemical weapons. The blitz began in August. Cheney talked to veterans groups about Iraq's imminent and actual possession of nuclear arms. He always made the nuclear weapons pitch towards the end of his speeches, to leave a lasting impression. When Knight Ridder's Jonathan Landay heard about Cheney's August 26, 2002 speech at a VFW national convention, he called a government source he knew to be well-versed on the issue of Iraq's nuclear capabilities, and the source told Landay flat out: "The vice-president is lying." Three days later, Cheney sold the same bogus message to veterans of the Korean War. Days after that, Cheney and Rice went on television to talk about aluminum tubes and mushroom clouds, pointing to Judith Miller's Chalabi-sourced article entitled, "U.S. Says Hussein Intensifies Quest for A-Bomb Parts."
While Bush and Condi were hitting the airwaves with their "mushroom cloud" speeches, Israeli prime minister Sharon and his top aide, Ra'anan Gissin, were issuing similar dire warnings about Iraq's nuclear, biological and chemical capabilities. The Associated Press reported on a briefing Gissin gave during which he said that Saddam gave Iraq's Atomic Energy Commission orders to speed up their work to make their weapons operational. The AP's headline was: "Israel to U.S., Don't Delay Iraq Attack." This was no coincidence. According to the UK Guardian's Julian Borger, the Office of Special Plans had a mirror office in Israel. Douglas Feith was the liaison between OSP U.S. and OSP Israel.
A BUZZFLASH GUEST CONTRIBUTION
Kristina Borjesson is the author of the newly released FEET TO THE FIRE: The Media After 9/11, Top Journalists Speak Out, a BuzzFlash Premium. This editorial is largely based on her interviews with national security and intelligence journalists in her book, including James Bamford and Knight Ridder's Jonathan Landay and Warren Strobel. Among the other journalists interviewed for the book were Ron Suskind, Walter Pincus, Barton Gellman, Paul Krugman, Peter Arnett, Helen Thomas, Tom Curley and Ted Koppel.
Saturday, November 26, 2005
There are so many ways that the Government is failing to represent the best interests of the governed that it is chilling and depressing to think about it too much, but the generational future of this country and the world hangs in the balance. We are acting out like a Nation of immature pre-teens with nothing more pressing than instant gratification and the value of corporate stocks on our minds. Our populace is becoming unhealthier every day at the hands of Corporate Government, our children are losing the battle of obesity, and the Bush Administration continues to move further away from any pretense about changing the course. In fact, their battle cry continues to be “Stay the Course” without the benefit of any public debate.
With our stomachs still stretched from holiday overindulgence, this would be a good time to contemplate the wisdom of the eating habits we have been trained to over the years. It is well beyond time for some new understanding of, and changes in the food industry that funnels the goods to our cupboards.
Organic and Beyond
(Excerpt) Read the entire article here
Unfortunately, the future of organic food is in the hands of an Administration and a regulatory agency--the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)--that are backed by powerful agribusiness interests, all of which are openly hostile to the organic and beyond alternative. In less than a year from passage, the Bush administration has sought to seriously undermine the national organic standards in a number of significant ways, including creating numerous potential loopholes that would allow placing unacceptable chemical materials on a list of substances approved for organic use; a number of unapproved additives to be used in processing organic foods; eliminating outdoor access requirements for poultry; eliminating the requirement that livestock feed be 100 percent organic; and forcing small-scale, farmer-based organic certifiers out of the program. If the Bush administration's current policies are continued, the integrity of all organic food could be fatally compromised, and this crucial alternative to industrial agriculture would be lost.
CFS seeks to maintain strong organic standards that live up to the quality and integrity that consumers expect from organic foods while evolving the ethic by promoting agriculture that is local, small-scale and family operated, biologically diverse, humane, and socially just. The ultimate goal of the Organic & Beyond campaign is to replace the industrial agriculture model with a new vision of farming with the natural world.
Thursday, November 24, 2005
What it took to get an 8th grade education in 1895
This is the eighth-grade final exam from 1895 in Salina, Kansas, USA. It was taken from the original document on file at the Smokey Valley Genealogical Society and Library in Salina, KS, and reprinted by the Salina Journal.
8th Grade Final Exam: Salina, KS -1895 Grammar (Time, one hour)
1. Give nine rules for the use of capital letters.
2. Name the parts of speech and define those that have no modifications.
3. Define verse, stanza and paragraph
4. What are the principal parts of a verb? Give principal parts of "lie,""play," and "run."
5. Define case; Illustrate each case.
6. What is punctuation? Give rules for principal marks of punctuation.
7 - 10. Write a composition of about 150 words and show therein that you understand the practical use of the rules of grammar.
Arithmetic (Time, 1.25 hours)
1. Name and define the Fundamental Rules of Arithmetic.
2. A wagon box is 2 ft. deep, 10 feet long, and 3 ft. wide. How many bushels of wheat will it hold?3. If a load of wheat weighs 3942 lbs., what is it worth at 50 cts/bushel, deducting 1050 lbs. for tare?
4. District No. 33 has a valuation of $35,000. What is the necessary levy to carry on a school seven months at $50 per month, and have $104 for incidentals?
5. Find the cost of 6720 lbs. coal at $6.00 per ton.
6. Find the interest of $512.60 for 8 months and 18 days at 7 percent.
7. What is the cost of 40 boards 12 inches wide and 16 ft. long at $20 per metre?
8. Find bank discount on $300 for 90 days (no grace) at 10 percent.
9. What is the cost of a square farm at $15 per acre, the distance of which is 640 rods?
10. Write a Bank Check, a Promissory Note, and a Receipt.
U.S. History (Time, 45 minutes)
1. Give the epochs into which U.S. History is divided.
2. Give an account of the discovery of America by Columbus.
3. Relate the causes and results of the Revolutionary War.
4. Show the territorial growth of the United States.
5. Tell what you can of the history of Kansas.
6. Describe three of the most prominent battles of the Rebellion.
7. Who were the following: Morse, Whitney, Fulton, Bell, Lincoln, Penn, and Howe?
8. Name events connected with the following dates: 1607, 1620, 1800, 1849, 1865.
Orthography (Time, one hour)
1. What is meant by the following: Alphabet, phonetic, orthography, etymology, syllabication
2. What are elementary sounds? How classified?
3. What are the following, and give examples of each: Trigraph, subvocals, diphthong, cognate letters, linguals?
4. Give four substitutes for caret 'u.'
5. Give two rules for spelling words with final 'e.' Name two exceptions under each rule.
6. Give two uses of silent letters in spelling. Illustrate each.
7. Define the following prefixes and use in connection with a word: bi, dis, mis, pre, semi, post, non, inter, mono, sup.
8. Mark diacritically and divide into syllables the following, and name the sign that indicates the sound: card, ball, mercy, sir, odd, cell, rise, blood, fare, last.
9. Use the following correctly in sentences: cite, site, sight, fane, fain, feign, vane, vain, vein, raze, raise, rays.
10. Write 10 words frequently mispronounced and indicate pronunciation by use of diacritical marks and by syllabication.
Geography (Time, one hour)
1 What is climate? Upon what does climate depend?
2. How do you account for the extremes of climate in Kansas?
3. Of what use are rivers? Of what use is the ocean?
4. Describe the mountains of North America
5. Name and describe the following: Monrovia, Odessa, Denver, Manitoba, Hecla, Yukon, St. Helena, Juan Fernandez, Aspinwall and Orinoco.
6. Name and locate the principal trade centers of the U.S.
7. Name all the republics of Europe and give the capital of each.
8. Why is the Atlantic Coast colder than the Pacific in the same latitude?
9. Describe the process by which the water of the ocean returns to the sources of rivers.
10. Describe the movements of the earth. Give the inclination of the earth.
Notice that the exam took FIVE HOURS to complete.
Gives the saying "he only had an 8th grade education" a whole new meaning, doesn't it?!
Wednesday, November 23, 2005
This is the time of year we like to reach out to those less fortunate in an attempt to share the things we are thankful for. I hope you will concentrate on your local community first, because that is where we can best witness the results of our sharing.
I have made the commitment to purchase absolutely NO JUNK for Christmas gifts this year. If I am in a quandary about what is appropriate, I will opt to give a twenty dollar bill rather than a gift certificate, because I know that cash will be used where it will best serve the person receiving it.
I will absolutely NOT use a credit card to finance gift buying (as I have done so many times in the past), because the slippery slope is much steeper than it has ever been before, and it is very dark at the bottom. I would like to think that I have finally reached some level of fiscal maturity, and hope to be able to maintain that image in my mind.
Whatever your level of affluence or state of mind, I wish for you an abundance of Love and Friendship to lift you high enough to see my perpetual smile throughout this holiday season.
Happy Thanksgiving, Merry Christmas, Merry Buddhamas, Merry Allahmas, Merry Candlemas, and any other choice of worship that may exist. The only thing that really matters is how you interact with your fellow human beings.
Tuesday, November 22, 2005
By John Feffer, AlterNet. Posted November 22, 2005.
Americans remain largely oblivious to the intrusions of the pharmaceutical industry into our kitchens. Across the pond, however, the Europeans are wising up.
(Excerpt) Link to complete article for an excellent read
But conventional turkeys are practically a health food compared to some of the other dinner options, such as roast beef. Turkeys, unlike cows, don't get pumped full of growth hormones. Hormone residues in milk and meat likely play havoc with our endocrine systems.
Meanwhile, the routine use of antibiotics potentially builds up our resistance to drugs and encourages the spread of super resistant bacteria. "Eighty percent all antibiotics in the United States are given not to people to cure disease but to animals to make them fatten up and enable them to survive unhygienic confinement in factory farms," according to Ronnie Cummins, national director of the Organic Consumers Association. If one of those little bugs survives the onslaught of antibiotics at the factory farm, it's going to give you one hell of a bad case of food poisoning.
So what, you might ask. Food is cheap in America, and if that means that little Anna hits puberty at age nine or both Mom and Dad contract breast cancer or a new strain of E. Coli resists drug treatment, it's a small price to pay. Life in modern industrial society comes with risks. If you don't like it, then you're welcome to go to the chemical-free hinterlands of Greenland or the Gobi Dessert.
(Excerpt) link to complete text
What do our opponents mean when they apply to us the label "Liberal?" If by "Liberal" they mean, as they want people to believe, someone who is soft in his policies abroad, who is against local government, and who is unconcerned with the taxpayer's dollar, then the record of this party and its members demonstrate that we are not that kind of "Liberal." But if by a "Liberal" they mean someone who looks ahead and not behind, someone who welcomes new ideas without rigid reactions, someone who cares about the welfare of the people -- their health, their housing, their schools, their jobs, their civil rights, and their civil liberties -- someone who believes we can break through the stalemate and suspicions that grip us in our policies abroad, if that is what they mean by a "Liberal," then I'm proud to say I'm a "Liberal."
But first, I would like to say what I understand the word "Liberal" to mean and explain in the process why I consider myself to be a "Liberal," and what it means in the presidential election of 1960.
In short, having set forth my view -- I hope for all time -- two nights ago in Houston, on the proper relationship between church and state, I want to take the opportunity to set forth my views on the proper relationship between the state and the citizen. This is my political credo:
I believe in human dignity as the source of national purpose, in human liberty as the source of national action, in the human heart as the source of national compassion, and in the human mind as the source of our invention and our ideas. It is, I believe, the faith in our fellow citizens as individuals and as people that lies at the heart of the liberal faith. For liberalism is not so much a party creed or set of fixed platform promises as it is an attitude of mind and heart, a faith in man's ability through the experiences of his reason and judgment to increase for himself and his fellow men the amount of justice and freedom and brotherhood which all human life deserves.
I believe also in the United States of America, in the promise that it contains and has contained throughout our history of producing a society so abundant and creative and so free and responsible that it cannot only fulfill the aspirations of its citizens, but serve equally well as a beacon for all mankind. I do not believe in a superstate. I see no magic in tax dollars which are sent to Washington and then returned. I abhor the waste and incompetence of large-scale federal bureaucracies in this administration as well as in others. I do not favor state compulsion when voluntary individual effort can do the job and do it well. But I believe in a government which acts, which exercises its full powers and full responsibilities. Government is an art and a precious obligation; and when it has a job to do, I believe it should do it. And this requires not only great ends but that we propose concrete means of achieving them.
Our responsibility is not discharged by announcement of virtuous ends. Our responsibility is to achieve these objectives with social invention, with political skill, and executive vigor. I believe for these reasons that liberalism is our best and only hope in the world today. For the liberal society is a free society, and it is at the same time and for that reason a strong society. Its strength is drawn from the will of free people committed to great ends and peacefully striving to meet them. Only liberalism, in short, can repair our national power, restore our national purpose, and liberate our national energies. And the only basic issue in the 1960 campaign is whether our government will fall in a conservative rut and die there, or whether we will move ahead in the liberal spirit of daring, of breaking new ground, of doing in our generation what Woodrow Wilson and Franklin Roosevelt and Harry Truman and Adlai Stevenson did in their time of influence and responsibility.
Our liberalism has its roots in our diverse origins. Most of us are descended from that segment of the American population which was once called an immigrant minority. Today, along with our children and grandchildren, we do not feel minor. We feel proud of our origins and we are not second to any group in our sense of national purpose. For many years New York represented the new frontier to all those who came from the ends of the earth to find new opportunity and new freedom, generations of men and women who fled from the despotism of the czars, the horrors of the Nazis, the tyranny of hunger, who came here to the new frontier in the State of New York. These men and women, a living cross section of American history, indeed, a cross section of the entire world's history of pain and hope, made of this city not only a new world of opportunity, but a new world of the spirit as well.
By Monica Benderman
George W. Bush:
When are you going to tell the truth to the people of the United States? Why don't you tell them why you want to be in Iraq so bad? I was there for six months and I did not see the first weapon of mass destruction. I did receive orders from the company commander to shoot children if they threw small rocks at us and that was when I figured out that the entire thing was way over the line.
Over 1200 soldiers have died in Iraq so that you can have a couple billion more dollars that should make you feel very good about yourself. The soldiers that have died for this sham that you have put over on the American people are so much more deserving than that. You are not worth the dust off of their boots. If you truly had respect for the military and the people that serve then you would not continue to kill them in your war. I joined the Army to protect my country and not to be a mercenary for a political despot. If you wish to put me in prison because of my views then you should make room for about 75% of the military. And while you are at make some room for yourself and about half of your administration. You are responsible for what happened at Abu Gharib and you are shirking your responsibility. The commander in chief is not above the UCMJ, as you would like to believe.
I want to fulfill my contract that says I joined the Army to protect my country against all enemies foreign and domestic, and as far as I am concerned you are a domestic enemy of the United States. You care nothing for this country; you just care about the profits that are made from the oil in Iraq. That much is evident to me from the way the contracts were passed out to Halliburton and KBR. It must be nice to have the deck stacked in your favor by the president of the USA. Since your are raising the debt ceiling of America so that we can pay the bills that you have run up, why don't you forgive the debts of every one in the armed forces since they are the ones that are making it possible for you to make billions from the oil from Iraq."" (Sgt. Kevin M. Benderman, Nov. 20, 2004)
Dear Mr. Bush
Over one year ago, my husband showed the integrity of a true leader by facing everything he had committed to for you, in the name of well, first there was national security, then it was freedom from tyranny for the Iraqis, then it was terrorism, then it was freedom for the American people, and what is it now???? Don't worry we know. It hasn't changed. First it was oil, then it was saving face for a president who has never faced responsibility for his actions EVER. But now, you are a president who has nowhere left to hide you've seen for yourself, the doors are locked you cannot escape us.
You and your army of commanders could not allow my husband to have his voice you actually thought you could control him and the TRUTH he had to speak. You put him in prison, and thought you could take him away from me. You dared to believe we would go away quietly and leave you to your war.
Your army cannot control him, because the Truth will not hide. And the commitment my husband made to defend the constitution, to keep his soldiers safe and to defend his home and his family has a depth of integrity you will never understand.
Your doors are locking around you, Sir. And the jail cell that you put my husband in the prison that confines all of our soldiers this war and the horrific actions you have asked them to commit in our country's name their doors are opening. I hope you feel every moment of this and, Sir, I hope you know it comes from Kevin and me.
For over a year, my husband, Sgt. Kevin Benderman took everything the military could pound him with, and walked tall, held his head high knowing the day would come when the "Truth would set him free." I walk every step with him, Sir not to hold him up when his drugged stupor wears off, no, Sir I walk proudly by my husband's side, because I know the leader that he is, and I know the strength that he has. It is an honor, Sir to stand by his side and help him build his case against you, and all of those who have dared to disrespect him.
What is it that you and the commanders who imprisoned him are so afraid of?
Why was it that they were so willing to commit crimes, to tell lies and to manipulate evidence in my husband's case?
Because they have known from the beginning that he speaks the truth and my husband's voice is a powerful voice. They should be afraid you should be afraid - very, very afraid.
You dared to use this country to give yourself a place in history. You dared to use my husband's integrity, his honor and his commitment to duty, and thought that his dignity could somehow serve to make you great.
You were wrong, Sir.
One year ago, my husband told the world what he knew to be true. Attorneys -advisors told him it would be difficult to prove. Kevin and I knew better and I stood beside him knowing we would face what you and your commanders would try to do, together, and in time, YOU would prove what he already knew. That is what happens with the Truth. He knew this because he lives this a powerful man.
You, Sir wouldn't know the truth if it looked you in the eye. AHHH I'm wrong you know the truth and it terrifies you.
Those locked doors in Korea they are the end of your road there is no one to help you, and what you thought you had locked away is your worst nightmare now.
My husband will not be silenced for he speaks the Truth, and it is coming for you.
Monica Benderman is the wife of Sgt. Kevin Benderman, Prisoner of Conscience, serving a 15 month sentence at Ft. Lewis Correctional Facility, for speaking out against war, and for daring to tell the Truth. Please visit their websites at www.BendermanTimeline.com and www.BendermanDefense.org
Monica and Kevin may be reached at email@example.com
Monday, November 21, 2005
My portrait of the perfect fool of randomness is as follows: he does not believe in religion, providing entirely rational reasons for such disbelief. He opposes scientific method to superstition and blind faith. But alas, human skepticism appears to be quite domain-specific and relegated to the classroom. Somehow the skepticism of my fool undergoes a severe atrophy outside of these intellectual debates:
1) He believes in the stock market because he is told to do so. — automatically allocating a portion of his retirement money. And he does not realize that the manager of his mutual fund does not fare better than chance — actually a bit worse, after the (generous) fees. Nor does he realize that markets are far more random and far riskier that he is being made to believe by the high priests of the brokerage industry.
He disbelieves the bishops (on grounds of scientific method), but replaces him with the security analyst. He listens to the projections by security analysts and "experts"— not checking their past accuracy and track record. Had he checked them he would have discovered that these are no better than random — often worse.
2) He believes in the government's ability to "forecast" economic variables, oil prices, GNP growth, or inflation. Economics provide very complicated equations — but our historical track record in predicting is pitiful. It does not take long to verify these claims; simple empiricism would suffice. Yet we have confident forecasts of social security deficits by both sides (democrats and republicans) twenty and thirty years ahead! This Scandal of Prediction (which I capitalize) is far more severe than religion, simply because it determines policy making. Last time I checked no religious figure was consulted for long-term business and economic projections.
3) He believes in the "skills" of the chairmen of large corporations and pays them huge bonuses for their "performance". He forgets that theirs are the least observable contributions. This skills attribution is flimsy at best — there is no account of the possible role of luck in his success.
4) His scientific integrity makes him reject religion but he believes the economist because "economic science" has the word "science" in it.
5) He believes in the news media providing an accurate representation of the risks in the world. They don't. By what I call the narrative fallacy, the media distorts our mental map of the world by feeding us what can be made into a story that can be squeezed into our minds. For instance (preventable) cancer, not terrorism remains the greatest danger. The number of persons killed by hurricanes, while consequential, is dwarfed by that of the thousands of isolated daily victims dying in hospital beds. These are not story-worthy, implying; the absence of attention on the part of the press maps into disproportionately reduced resources allocated to their welfare. The difference between actual, actuarially defined risks and the perception of dangers is enormous — and, sadly, growing with the globalization and the media, and our increased vulnerability to visual stimuli.
The major difference between the way I feel about Dennis Kucinich and any other Congressional Representative is simply this:
I would be comfortable giving Kucinich a key to my house and access to my dog.
Visit the Kucinich website.
Check out this Kucinich message.
Sunday, November 20, 2005
Radioactive Tank No. 9 comes limping home
by Bob Nichols
Across the plains of Kansas, destroyed, radioactive Abrams tanks, perched on railroad flatcars, rolled towards an uncertain future. Only one thing was certain. They would be radioactive forever. This would be their everlasting death mask. The Pentagon deceptively calls it "depleted uranium."
The Abrams tanks are constructed with a layer of radioactive uranium metal plates. The big tanks fire a giant uranium dart at 2,100 mph, much faster than an F-16 fighter aircraft, mach III to airplane pilots and very, very fast to the rest of us.
American taxpayers paid to ship the tanks to Iraq and to return them for disposal or re-building in the United States. The tanks are 12 feet wide and weigh a stout 70 tons, or 140,000 pounds.
The enduring vigorous stupidity of the U.S. military pretends that radiation is one of those things that if you can't see it, it can't hurt you. They are thoroughly delusional, of course. A National Academy of Sciences report released June 30, 2005, finds that there is no safe level of radiation. Any radiation is bad.
"Sally Devlin, a little old lady in tennis shoes, went to a public meeting several years ago, held by the Air Force in Pahrump, Nevada. Two officers told the citizens of the town that the Air Force would be moving 80 old target practice tanks and tons of old depleted uranium munitions through their town.
"The radioactive bullets had been picked up off the Nellis gunnery ranges by order of the state of Nevada and were being transported to the Nevada Test Site [a nuclear weapons test site] to be buried as radioactive waste.
"When Mrs. Devlin politely asked them how they would prevent the residents of the town from being contaminated by the radioactive dust on the tanks and bullets, the officers said, 'We're wrapping them in Saran Wrap.' She told them that would be unacceptable and stopped the Air Force dead in their tracks," Moret concluded.
Whether it is Saran Wrap in Nevada or nothing at all in Kansas, the Pentagon just doesn't get it when it comes to uranium radiation dispersing weapons. It is way past time to take all their nuclear weapons and uranium munitions away from them and send them home to get real jobs. They are clearly incapable of protecting this country from all dangers, including those created by our own U.S. military.
The U.S. military shows so little regard for Americans in Kansas, one wonders what on earth they have done to Iraq. The U.S. military has distributed an estimated 8 million pounds of weaponized ceramic uranium oxide gas, aerosols and dust on a practically defenseless little country of 26 million people (see Note 6), according to an estimate by former U.S. Attorney General Ramsey Clark.
What is this lethal radioactive weapon supposed to do? Why was it used? Ceramic uranium oxide gas is a genocidal weapon, for God's sake. It persists in the environment forever. In Leuren Moret's pithy words, "The Iraqis are uranium meat."
The politicians, Pentagon staff, generals, commanding officers and others responsible for this war crime must be arrested, tried, convicted and appropriately punished for their crimes against humanity.
There is much more to read here.
Saturday, November 19, 2005
By MICHAEL RUBINKAM, Associated Press Writer
Sat Nov 19, 4:04 AM ET
Federal officials say the arrest of 125 workers at a construction site for a new Wal-Mart distribution center should serve as a warning to employers who hire illegal immigrants.
All 125 workers arrested in the raid will be deported, Immigrations and Customs Enforcement officials said Friday. The workers from Mexico and Central America were detained Thursday at the site outside Pottsville, about 80 miles northwest of Philadelphia.
"Employers who knowingly hire illegal aliens, and those who utilize false documents to gain employment, face significant criminal and administrative charges," said John Kelleghan, acting special agent-in-charge for the immigration agency in Pennsylvania.
Some of the 125 workers, who are from Mexico, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras, used fake documents to obtain employment with subcontractors, officials said. The arrests came after search warrants were executed for six companies at the site.
The Pennsylvania job site remains shut down, Wal-Mart spokesman Marty Heires said Friday. He did not know when construction would resume.
Agents obtained the search warrants after learning that 10 workers employed by Destin Drywall & Paint were using Social Security numbers that did not match their names.
Another three used Social Security numbers that were never issued by the government, according to an affidavit unsealed Friday at U.S. District Court in Scranton.
Houston-based Destin has worked on Wal-Mart projects around the country, said office manager Cindy Wyman. She said the company verifies that employees are permitted to work in the United States. "As far as I know, their Social Security numbers are good," Wyman said of the Pennsylvania workers.
A Wal-Mart spokesman has said the detained workers were not employed by Wal-Mart but by the subcontractors. Wal-Mart's contracts with the companies require that they follow local, state and federal employment laws, the company said.
Last month, Wal-Mart shut down work on seven stores under construction in North Dakota to check for illegal aliens after two illegal immigrants working on Wal-Mart projects in Bismarck were charged with molesting two 13-year-old girls. Charges against one of the suspects were dropped after authorities found out he was a juvenile.
In 2003, a raid of 60 Wal-Mart stores in 21 states led to the arrests of 245 illegal workers. An affidavit claimed a pair of senior Wal-Mart executives knew cleaning contractors were hiring illegal immigrants. The retailer agreed to pay $11 million in March to settle the case but denied senior executives knew of the hirings.
I can see this article showing up in the Pottsville local paper, but why does it merit more widespread attention? Could it be an attempt to appease those critical of the Bush Administration immigration policy?
Even though I choose not to shop at WalMart on matters of principle (mine, not theirs), I can't seem to get away from possessing items that have been made in China. The Walmartization of products dictates that they will be made in China because the labor force is malleable in the hands of a cruel corporation and the political minds that support it.
The illegal aliens mentioned in this article are simply another byproduct of Walmartization. Using a work force that is vulnerable to exploitation is how Walmart keeps cost down. I would like to see local mandates that demand the use of at least 75% local labor on every project executed in that particular community or county setting. Most projects are Government sponsored and funded at the county or state level anyway, so the money is being provided by those who should be benefiting from the availability of the work as well as the results of the work.
I have no problem with the people pouring across our southern border to find work. I would do the same were I in their position, and I would like to see an effort made to utilize their skills and abilities as soon as our own labor force is able to work at a sustainable level.
The companies mentioned in this article should be mandated locally to serve the common good of the community.
The United States derives 23% of its consumed energy from natural gas, and an increase to 28% is expected by 2020. Presently, 85% of US consumption is from domestic wells, with a little less than 15% piped from Canada. Only a fraction of a percent comes from liquefied natural gas ( LNG ), imported by ocean tankers. Today, however, this pattern is changing. Domestic wells are showing production decline. New finds are smaller and rapidly depleted. Obviously, from a ruling class point of view, the answer is to import more natural gas, just as 63% of US oil is now imported. An alternative solution through conservation, life-style change, and conversion to wind/solar energy is unacceptable to the ruling class ( because its elite social position is based on economic expansion ). In a July 10, 2003 statement to the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural resources, Alan Greenspan said, "As the technology of LNG liquefaction ( sic ) and shipping has improved, and as safety considerations have lessened, a major expansion of US import capability appears to be underway." A flurry of corporate proposals for new US LNG port terminals has surfaced, many for the West Coast where no such facilities now exist. An Institute of the Americas' conference held in La Jolla, California on January 29-30, 2004 considered a "boom in liquefied natural gas consumption in the United States, Mexico and Canada" ( The Washington Times ).
Mr. Natural at Left Edge North has posted about this numerous times, as there is a plan to install one of these storage facilities near the mouth of the Columbia River (his proverbial stomping ground).
I share a concern about the danger of such a facility to the surrounding communities, but I am really concerned about the lack of Government support for a trend toward renewable energy that is capable of home heating without the use of combustibles.
At some point, I would like to help spring the trap-door on the big oil pricks who are currently holding America in the hands-on-ankles position while they lever cash from our pockets to theirs. Did I mention how much I hate those bastards (thanks Mike)?
Friday, November 18, 2005
Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens is having a hissy fit, trying to take his frustrations out on Puget Sound.
Stevens, R-BridgetoNowhere, is upset the House of Representatives balked at opening the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil leasing and drilling, and Senate Republicans are flinching as well.
Stevens' ire is directed in particular at Washington Sen. Maria Cantwell, who introduced an amendment as part of a budget reconciliation bill, the current turf for ANWR battles. Her amendment lost, but Stevens was incensed. Stevens immediately sought to lift restrictions on BP's Cherry Point refinery near Bellingham, which would increase production capacity and expand tanker traffic in Puget Sound. Both were capped in 1977 by Sen. Warren Magnuson with a tweaking of the Marine Mammal Protection Act.
Magnuson identified the navigable waters of Puget Sound as a national asset threatened by increased domestic and international tanker traffic, adding that the waters and surrounding natural resources needed protection. The foresight of his actions was affirmed a dozen years later by the example of the Exxon Valdez travesty in Alaska's Prince William Sound.
Cantwell responded in the honorable tradition of Northwest legislators defending — protecting — things unique to the region, from its natural and visual resources to the Bonneville Power Administration and the region's hydroelectric resources.
Stevens is in full reprisal mode, and he essentially is declaring "game on" with Senate Bill 1977, which just so happens to be the year the Magnuson Act was passed.
House and Senate Republican leadership are surprised at the resistance to ANWR drilling and business as usual on the budget among their own party. Cantwell has parliamentary allies in the GOP who, combined with a unified Democratic Party, can push back on Stevens' slap at Puget Sound.
He said, "My son, the battle is between 2 "wolves" inside us all.
One is Evil. It is anger, envy, jealousy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.
The other is Good. It is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion and faith."
The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his Grandfather: "Which wolf wins?"
The old Cherokee simply replied, “The one you feed."
Thursday, November 17, 2005
I have gravitated away from the Republican Party toward the Democrat Party, but I am still not being adequately represented by the Congresspersons selected and sworn to that simple duty. As I seek more ethical and trustworthy representation in Congress, I am drawn to the following ten key values of the Green Party of Washington State. These values happen to reflect MY values.
Please follow this link and exercise your own critical judgment about how America and we, the people, will be best served in the coming years.
Ten Key Values
Respect for Diversity
We honor the biological diversity of the Earth and the cultural, racial, sexual and spiritual diversity of its people. We respect the dignity of all individuals, and their right to access and fully participate in all aspects of our society.
Feminism and Gender Equity
We are committed to gender equity in all aspects of our society. We wish to replace top-down domination with cooperation, compassion, communication and understanding.
We oppose systemic global injustice and poverty. All oppression including that based on race, class, gender, age, citizenship or sexual orientation must end.
The influence of big business and big government combined is undermining genuine democracy. To help overcome this, we promote public participation at all levels of government. We believe that electoral systems need reform to enable full and more equitable access by all people.
Violence is shortsighted, morally wrong and ultimately self-defeating. We must develop effective alternatives to society's current patterns of violence. We will work globally to demilitarize, and eliminate weapons of mass destruction.
We support a sustainable society that utilizes resources in such a way that future generations will benefit from the practices of our generation. We seek to protect ecological diversity and balance.
Decision-making in our social, political, and economic institutions should reside at the individual and local levels, consistent with ecological sustainability, civil rights, and social justice.
We seek a new economics based on global ecological sustainability, livable wages, sufficient social safety nets, and democratically accountable businesses. Balanced local economies create more equitable and stable communities.
Personal & Global Responsibility
We seek to join with people and organizations around the world to foster peace, economic justice, and the health of our planet. We take personal responsibility in upholding our values.
As did the Iroquois, we strive to create a society where the interests of the Seventh Generation are considered equal to the interests of the present
By JOHN SOLOMON and SHARON THEIMER, Associated Press Writers
(spell checking for headline possibly outsourced [my comment])
WASHINGTON - Nearly three dozen members of Congress, including leaders from both parties, pressed the government to block a Louisiana Indian tribe from opening a casino while the lawmakers collected large donations from rival tribes and their lobbyist, Jack Abramoff.
Many intervened with letters to Interior Secretary Gale Norton within days of receiving money from tribes represented by Abramoff or using the lobbyist's restaurant for fundraising, an Associated Press review of campaign records, IRS records and congressional correspondence found.
Lawmakers said their intervention had nothing to do with Abramoff, and the timing of donations was a coincidence. They said they wrote letters because they opposed the expansion of tribal gaming — even though they continued to accept donations from casino-operating tribes.
Many lived far from Louisiana and had no constituent interest in the casino dispute.
Congressional ethics rules require lawmakers to avoid even the appearance of a conflict of interest in performing their official duties and accepting political money.
That requirement was made famous a decade ago during the Keating Five scandal when five lawmakers were criticized for intervening with federal regulators on behalf of Charles Keating while receiving money from the failed savings and loan operator.
The Abramoff donations dwarf those made by Keating. At least 33 lawmakers wrote letters to Norton and got more than $830,000 in Abramoff-related donations as the lobbying unfolded between 2001 and 2004, AP found.
"This is one of the largest examples we've had to date where congressional action was predicated on money being given for the action," said Kent Cooper, who reviewed lawmakers' campaign reports for two decades as the Federal Election Commission' name=c1>SEARCHNews News Photos Images Web' name=c3>Federal Election Commission's chief of public disclosure.
Cooper, who now runs the Political Money Line Web site that tracks fundraising, said "the speed in which this money was turned around" after the letters makes the Abramoff matter more serious than previous controversies that tarnished Congress.
Lawmakers contacted by AP said their intervention had nothing to do with Abramoff's fundraising, and instead reflected their long-held concerns about tribal gaming expansion.
"There is absolutely no connection between the letter and the fundraising," Reid spokesman Jim Manley said. "The only connection was Senator Reid has consistently opposed any effort to undermine the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act."
Hastert ultimately collected more than $100,000 in donations from Abramoff's firm and tribal clients between 2001 and 2004. His office said he never discussed the matter with Abramoff, but long opposed expanding Indian gambling off reservations and was asked to send the letter by Rep. Jim McCrery (news, bio, voting record), R-La.
McCrery sent his own letter as well, and collected more than $36,000 in Abramoff-connected donations.
"We've always opposed these things, in our backyard, in our state, someplace else," said Michael Stokke, Hastert's deputy chief of staff.
Melanie Sloan, a former federal prosecutor, said lawmakers' denials of a connection rang hollow.
"Special interests do get more and they do get what they pay for despite the constant denial that lawmakers can't be bought," said Sloan, who now runs Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, a group that monitors public officials' conduct.
Abramoff's spokesman, Andrew Blum, declined comment. The lobbyist has been indicted on fraud charges by a federal grand jury in Florida stemming from his role in the 2000 purchase of a fleet of gambling boats.
Federal prosecutors are investigating whether Abramoff's fundraising influenced members of Congress or the Bush administration, and whether anyone tried to conceal their dealings with Abramoff. For instance:
This issue reaches deep into the political muck to unmask the ethical hypocrisy that stains every member of Congress. Is it any wonder that corporate lobbyists write most of the legislation that ultimately reaches the floor of the Senate and House? Congressional action in the interest of the common good of the people simply does not take place any longer.
Read the entire article above by clicking the link, and take notice of the entire list of names implicated in this scandal.
Wednesday, November 16, 2005
Cheney Sidesteps Travel Disclosure Rules
Unlike the rest of the White House, Cheney refuses to make his outside travel public
By Kate Sheppard and Bob Williams
Cheney's office also appears to have stuck taxpayers with untold millions in travel costs rather than accepting trip sponsors' funds that the rules would require to be disclosed.
It's not as if those in Cheney's office don't indulge in the type of junkets that are routinely funded by private sources. Instead of accepting reimbursement for such trips like other government travelers, it appears that his office labels them "official travel." As a result, however, the public is kept largely unaware of where he and his staff are traveling, with whom they are meeting with and how much it costs, even though tax dollars are covering the bill.
It's also not as if Cheney hasn't faced questions about secrecy and his travel in the past. In January 2003, Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia was reportedly Cheney's guest aboard Air Force Two on a flight south for a winter duck hunting trip at a property owned by an oil executive in southern Louisiana.
The trip took place shortly after the Supreme Court had agreed to hear Cheney's appeal of a lawsuit that sought to force him to disclose the details about the national energy policy task force he chaired behind closed doors in 2001. Cheney had refused to disclose the substance of the discussions or to list those who met with the task force; that list was believed to include major players in the energy industry.
Some would credit the vice president's office for not accepting outside cash to cover his travel costs. That may be true, but critics point out that the Office of the Vice President's lack of disclosure also creates an opaque situation, with little or no transparency or accountability and at a substantial cost to taxpayers.
According to the White House Web site, Cheney made 275 speeches and appearances between 2001 and June 1, 2005, including 23 speeches to think tanks and trade organizations and 16 at colleges and universities. Before his term in office, the cost associated with travel, lodging and food for the vice president and his staff to attend such events was routinely reimbursed by the sponsor and reported to the Office of Government Ethics, which collects and distributes travel disclosure reports for the executive branch per disclosure rules. During the Clinton administration, former Vice President Al Gore's office disclosed more than $1 million in outside-funded travel from 1997 to 2000.
Tuesday, November 15, 2005
by Bob Fitrakis and Harvey Wasserman
November 11, 2005
A death sentence here and abroad
by Leuren Moret
And what about our soldiers? Terry Jemison of the Department of Veterans Affairs reported this week to the American Free Press that “Gulf-era veterans” now on medical disability since 1991 number 518,739, with only 7,035 reported wounded in Iraq in that same 14-year period.
This week the American Free Press dropped a “dirty bomb” on the Pentagon by reporting that eight out of 20 men who served in one unit in the 2003 U.S. military offensive in Iraq now have malignancies. That means that 40 percent of the soldiers in that unit have developed malignancies in just 16 months.
Since these soldiers were exposed to vaccines and depleted uranium (DU) only, this is strong evidence for researchers and scientists working on this issue, that DU is the definitive cause of Gulf War Syndrome. Vaccines are not known to cause cancer. One of the first published researchers on Gulf War Syndrome, who also served in 1991 in Iraq, Dr. Andras Korényi-Both, is in agreement with Barbara Goodno from the Department of Defense’s Deployment Health Support Directorate, that in this war soldiers were not exposed to chemicals, pesticides, bioagents or other suspect causes this time to confuse the issue.
This powerful new evidence is blowing holes in the cover-up perpetrated by the Pentagon and three presidential administrations ever since DU was first used in 1991 in the Persian Gulf War. Fourteen years after the introduction of DU on the battlefield in 1991, the long-term effects have revealed that DU is a death sentence and very nasty stuff.
The issue of Depleted Uranium is simply one more topic that our Congress should be investigating. Until an honest discussion ensues, each member of Congress should be required to carry a small chunk of DU in their front pants pocket. I simply don’t accept that they are unaware of this situation and the implications of the far-reaching affects on the population of the world.
This current Administration has finally brought true meaning to the term “lower than whale shit”.
Monday, November 14, 2005
Sunday, November 13, 2005
Tuesday, November 08, 2005
You have my thanks.
WELL...I WAS SITTING IN THE WAITING ROOM FOR MY FIRST APPOINTMENT WITH A NEW DENTIST. I NOTICED HIS DDS DIPLOMA, WHICH BORE HIS FULL NAME.
SUDDENLY, I REMEMBERED A TALL, HANDSOME, DARK-HAIRED BOY WITH THE SAME NAME HAD BEEN IN MY HIGH SCHOOL CLASS SOME 40-ODD YEARS AGO.
COULD HE BE THE SAME GUY THAT I HAD A SECRET CRUSH ON, WAY BACK THEN??
UPON SEEING HIM, HOWEVER, I QUICKLY DISCARDED ANY SUCH THOUGHT THIS BALDING, FAT, GRAY-HAIRED MAN WITH THE DEEPLY LINED FACE WAS WAY TOO OLD TO HAVE BEEN MY CLASSMATE. HMMM,...OR COULD HE???
AFTER HE EXAMINED MY TEETH, I ASKED HIM IF HE HAD ATTENDED MORGAN PARK HIGH SCHOOL.
"YES. YES, I DID!! I'M A MUSTANG," HE GLEAMED WITH PRIDE.
"WHEN DID YOU GRADUATE?" I ASKED.
HE ANSWERED, "IN 1959. WHY DO YOU ASK?"
"YOU WERE IN MY CLASS!" I EXCLAIMED.
HE LOOKED AT ME CLOSELY.
THEN, THAT UGLY, OLD, FAT, WRINKLED SON-OF-A-BITCH ASKED, "WHAT DID YOU TEACH?"
Now for the kicker, here is a little nudity to start the week off right.