Tuesday, February 28, 2006

"Devil Bush Go Back!"

From AP via truthout.org :

Demonstrators in India Protest Bush Visit
By RAMOLA TALWAR BADAM, Associated Press Writer
Tue Feb 28, 2:49 PM ET

Demonstrators in India shouted "Death to America!" and burned effigies of President Bush on Tuesday, demanding that he be barred from visiting the country this week.

Bush arrives in India Wednesday for a three-day visit focused on strengthening the emerging strategic partnership between India and the United States. Dozens of protests have been planned by Islamic leaders and communist politicians.

About 1,000 Muslims demonstrated in Bombay, some waving placards reading "Devil Bush Go Back," with caricatures of Bush as a cross between Superman and Satan — dressed in the superhero's red-and-blue costume with devil's horns and clutching a missile.

"Bush is terrorist No. 1, and it is an insult to Indian Muslims that he is coming to India as a guest of the government," said Mohammed Saeed Noori of the Bombay-based Muslim organization Raza Academy. "Bush first destroyed Afghanistan, then Iraq. He should be stopped from entering India."

While this nation of more than 1 billion people is overwhelmingly Hindu, it still has the world's second-largest population of Muslims.

Some mosques in the southern Indian city of Hyderabad, where Bush will visit Friday, have already unfurled banners protesting his arrival and plan to chant verses from the Quran in hopes that it will drive him away.

Muslim groups also have called for a daylong strike to protest Bush's visit to Hyderabad, a key center of India's booming information technology industry. Muslims account for nearly 40 percent of the city's 7 million people.

Meanwhile, members of the leftist Students Federation of India and the Communist Party of India burned effigies of Bush at three intersections in Hyderabad.

The communists, who are key allies of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's government, also plan to protest Thursday at India's Parliament in New Delhi, a few miles from where Bush and Singh will meet.

"Up to 50,000 people will take part in the march, and we have the police permission to express our feelings," said Pushpender Grewal, secretary of the Communist Party of India.

"We will protest against the U.S. policies, especially the inhuman atrocities in Afghanistan and Iraq, a likely invasion of Iran and its continuing support to Israel's illegal occupation of Palestine."

Communists and Muslim groups have criticized New Delhi for backing a U.S. move to report longtime ally Iran to the International Atomic Energy Agency over allegations Tehran is developing nuclear weapons. Iran says its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes.

They also oppose a deal that the two countries are working out under which India would buy nuclear fuel from the United States in return for opening its civilian nuclear facilities to international inspectors. It was not clear whether the deal would be sealed during Bush's visit.

"We want the government not to sign the nuclear deal as it undermines our sovereignty and integrity," said Mohammed Saeeduddin, a spokesman of the Students' Islamic Organization.

Copyright © 2006 The Associated Press.


India to Bush...stay in DC....

From the Nation via truthout.org:

Bush in India: Just Not Welcome
By Arundhati Roy
The Nation
Monday 27 February 2006

On his triumphalist tour of India and Pakistan, where he hopes to wave imperiously at people he considers potential subjects, President Bush has an itinerary that's getting curiouser and curiouser.

For Bush's March 2 pit stop in New Delhi, the Indian government tried very hard to have him address our parliament. A not inconsequential number of MPs threatened to heckle him, so Plan One was hastily shelved. Plan Two was to have Bush address the masses from the ramparts of the magnificent Red Fort, where the Indian prime minister traditionally delivers his Independence Day address. But the Red Fort, surrounded as it is by the predominantly Muslim population of Old Delhi, was considered a security nightmare. So now we're into Plan Three: President George Bush speaks from Purana Qila, the Old Fort.

Ironic, isn't it, that the only safe public space for a man who has recently been so enthusiastic about India's modernity should be a crumbling medieval fort?

Since the Purana Qila also houses the Delhi zoo, George Bush's audience will be a few hundred caged animals and an approved list of caged human beings, who in India go under the category of "eminent persons." They're mostly rich folk who live in our poor country like captive animals, incarcerated by their own wealth, locked and barred in their gilded cages, protecting themselves from the threat of the vulgar and unruly multitudes whom they have systematically dispossessed over the centuries.

So what's going to happen to George W. Bush? Will the gorillas cheer him on? Will the gibbons curl their lips? Will the brow-antlered deer sneer? Will the chimps make rude noises? Will the owls hoot? Will the lions yawn and the giraffes bat their beautiful eyelashes? Will the crocs recognize a kindred soul? Will the quails give thanks that Bush isn't traveling with Dick Cheney, his hunting partner with the notoriously bad aim? Will the CEOs agree?

Oh, and on March 2, Bush will be taken to visit Gandhi's memorial in Rajghat. He's by no means the only war criminal who has been invited by the Indian government to lay flowers at Rajghat. (Only recently we had the Burmese dictator General Than Shwe, no shrinking violet himself.) But when Bush places flowers on that famous slab of highly polished stone, millions of Indians will wince. It will be as though he has poured a pint of blood on the memory of Gandhi.

We really would prefer that he didn't.

It is not in our power to stop Bush's visit. It is in our power to protest it, and we will. The government, the police and the corporate press will do everything they can to minimize the extent of our outrage. Nothing the happy newspapers say can change the fact that all over India, from the biggest cities to the smallest villages, in public places and private homes, George W. Bush, the President of the United States of America, world nightmare incarnate, is just not welcome.


South Dakota legislators are downright stupid...

From the RapidCityJournal.com :

Just when you thought legislators couldn't get any more ignorant....

Abortion bill cause for head scratching
By Lynn Talor Rick, Journal Staff Writer

If you’re a woman in South Dakota or if you have a daughter, wife, sister or mother in South Dakota, you might want to turn an eye to Pierre.Because whether you consider yourself pro-choice, anti-abortion or somewhere in-between, things are not right in the state’s Capital.The bills being passed and the bills being rejected show a startling disregard for the health, safety and intelligence of South Dakota women.

It all starts with the abortion bill.

In a replay of the 2004 session, the South Dakota Legislature has taken it upon itself to challenge federal law on the legality of abortion. The bill allows for no exceptions for rape or health of the mother.

Although I respect people’s passionate feelings on both sides of this issue, it’s growing more difficult for me to muster up any respect for the ever-increasing stridency coming from the anti-abortion camp.That’s because the same Legislature that is barreling ahead to make abortion a criminal act is also voting to deny basic health care for rape victims.

Its members have also decided that rapists should be allowed parental rights to the children conceived during the crime.Take a second to scratch your head if you need to.

This is actually the second year in a row that our legislators have voted to deny rape victims information about emergency contraception. The bill, SB175, failed by a 26-9 vote this time around.The bill would have required hospitals to inform rape victims that there is a medication that will prevent them from becoming pregnant by their assailant. If, after learning about emergency contraception, the rape victim wanted it, the bill required the hospital to administer it or provide a prescription for it.

I wrote about this during the last session, believing that after some time to think, legislators would surely come to their senses. Apparently, they did not.You might ask how anyone could justify this. How can someone suggest that a rape victim be victimized again by withholding basic health care from them?

The problem is that emergency contraception has been wrongly linked to abortion.The key word here is “wrongly.” The pill has nothing to do with the so-called abortion pill. An implanted fertilized egg would be unaffected by emergency contraceptive drugs. The drug prevents ovulation, fertilization and implantation. Emergency contraceptives are not abortion pills. Don’t let people tell you they are.

Unfortunately, the anti-abortion movement has succeeded in doing just that. Legislators and people have been led to believe that administering the drug will end pregnancies. And as we all know, even hinting that the drug has abortive qualities is all it takes.

This year’s rape-victim bill even carried a provision that allowed religious hospitals the right to deny administering the drugs. Even that was not enough. This means that if you are raped in this state, and your emergency room doctor doesn’t know much about emergency contraception or chooses not to inform you about it, you may not be given either the information or the drugs. For young, uneducated women, already traumatized by rape, the chances that they will have the knowledge or confidence to request such a thing is slim.

That’s OK with Sen. Tom Hansen of Huron, however, because he’s got more important things to worry about than the victims of rape. He’s too busy worrying about a baby that doesn’t exist to actually read the medical literature and find out how the drug works.“There’s another voice that needs to be heard, and that is of the baby,” he was quoted in the Journal.

Although this particular thing leaves a person wondering what they’re drinking in Pierre and Huron, the next decision suggests it’s something hallucinogenic.

During this session, the Legislature decided that convicted rapists should not be denied parental protection when it comes to children conceived during a rape.HB1132, which was killed 11 to 1, would have required judges to terminate parental rights of convicted rapists to the children conceived during the crime.

Rep. Alan Hanks of Rapid City said he presented the bill after being told about women harassed by their rapists and forced to face the rapist during visitation situations. It’s interesting that the same anti-abortion legislators who argue that abortion hurts women see no problem with rape victims being forced to share custody of their children with their rapists.These same legislators who care so much about babies don’t see anything wrong with those same babies being handed over to convicted rapists for visitation. Again, take a moment to scratch your head. Or yell.

Or, better yet, make a phone call to your representative. South Dakota women are a diverse lot. We are ranchers, businesswomen, reporters, mothers, and I think, pretty intelligent women. Some of us believe that abortion must be made illegal, without exception. Some of us believe that, ugly or not, abortion needs to remain an option until better options exist. Some of us believe that abortion must remain a choice for women, no matter what the situation. It’s hard to accept the opinions of others when our own are so strong, but I think most of us can do that.

What we shouldn’t do is allow some people within the anti-abortion movement to use women’s health and women’s rights issues as fodder for their campaign. We can’t allow them to slip the white-hot abortion issue into common-sense bills that would otherwise be no-brainers. They are doing this, and we are suffering for it.

The result is what’s currently happening in Pierre. Women’s bodies are being debated and voted on with little common sense and even less regard for our health, emotional and physical. With the current mindset in place, how long do you think it will be before legislation restricting birth control surfaces? If legislators are allowed to throw around conception definitions based on religion rather than science, the birth control pill is most definitely on the chopping block.

In late 2004, Rob Regier of the South Dakota Family Policy Council told me that he would support regulation and control over access to birth control. South Dakota Eagle Forum lobbyist Kitty Werthmann told me at the same time that the abortion bill being debated that year didn’t go far enough because it didn’t restrict birth control.

Are we looking at our future? Is it a future we want? Maybe, along the way, South Dakota women have been swept up in the emotional issue of abortion and forgotten to demand fairness when it comes to other issues of health and rights. Maybe today is the day we get back in the game. Take a second to let your legislator know that you’re here and you’re watching. And don’t forget to remind them that you love to vote.

Go to http://legis.state.sd.us/index.aspx for a list of your legislators and their phone numbers.

Contact Lynn Taylor Rick at 394-8414 or lynn.taylorrick@rapidcityjournal.com


Monday, February 27, 2006

No Doublespeaking allowed! Sen Kerry 1st up....

From Raw Story:

Blog radio: Kerry staffers launch online radio show
John Byrne
Published: February 26, 2006

A pair of 25-year-old twin brothers are set to formally launch a new online progressive talk radio program Monday, RAW STORY has learned.

The program, titled "Doublespeak," will feature interviews of prominent Democratic politicans, candidates and party insiders. Their first show -- already online -- features interviews with Sen. John Kerry (D-MA), State Rep. Roger Wendt (D-IA) and David Yepsen, a columnist for the Des Moines Register.

Peter and Matt Slutsky, 25, both served as staffers in Kerry's 2004 presidential campaign. Both helped the Massachusetts Democrat woo voters and raise funds in the Iowa caucuses and in various other states.

The irreverent duo are excited about their new project, which they bill as an accessible extension of the blogosphere in online radio. They say it will allow everyday readers to ask hard questions of political juggernauts.

"Doublespeak is a new medium," Peter Slutsky said Sunday. "It's online radio. It's accessible to everyone. We're getting listeners, viewers, people who access the site access to high-powered people around the country, and we're doing it in a format that's never been done before."

Already in the can, Slutsky tells RAW STORY, are interviews with Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and Nick Lampson, the Democratic challenger to former House Majority leader Tom DeLay (R-TX).

The Slutsky brothers promise fresh content every one to two weeks.

"We're not afraid to ask the hard questions and get the easy answers," Peter says.
Peter admits his predilection for progressive politics, but promises a fair look at candidates and elected officials.

"This show is focused on Democrats and people whose ideology we agree with, but on the same token, my brother and I have a background in political organizing," Peter says. "It's not like cable news where you pick and choose... We're going to be interacting with our audience and having them think about, what do you want to hear, what do you want answered."

Listeners will be able to pose questions for upcoming shows on the comments section of the site.
How did they get the name Doublespeak?

"Double entendre," Peter says. "Politicians love to doublespeak. We know doublespeak and we won't allow it."

He adds, "We're using the successes of the blogosphere, and podcasting, and political talk radio, and we're taking it to the next level. Our tagline is 'at the intersection of blogs, talk radio, and grassroots politics, you'll find Doublespeak.'"

The first show is available online at http://doublespeakshow.com/.


Poll....Bush: 34%....Cheney: 18%....

From CBSnews.com :

Poll: Bush Ratings At All-Time Low
NEW YORK, Feb. 27, 2006
(CBS) The latest CBS News poll finds President Bush's approval rating has fallen to an all-time low of 34 percent, while pessimism about the Iraq war has risen to a new high.

Americans are also overwhelmingly opposed to the Bush-backed deal giving a Dubai-owned company operational control over six major U.S. ports. Seven in 10 Americans, including 58 percent of Republicans, say they're opposed to the agreement.

CBS News senior White House correspondent Jim Axelrod reports that now it turns out the Coast Guard had concerns about the ports deal, a disclosure that is no doubt troubling to a president who assured Americans there was no security risk from the deal.

The troubling results for the Bush administration come amid reminders about the devastating impact of Hurricane Katrina and negative assessments of how the government and the president have handled it for six months.

In a separate poll, two out of three Americans said they do not think President Bush has responded adequately to the needs of Katrina victims. Only 32 percent approve of the way President Bush is responding to those needs, a drop of 12 points from last September’s poll, taken just two weeks after the storm made landfall.

Full Poll: Bush, The Ports And Iraq (.pdf)

Full Poll: Katrina Six Months Later (.pdf)

Mr. Bush's overall job rating has fallen to 34 percent, down from 42 percent last month. Fifty-nine percent disapprove of the job the president is doing.

For the first time in this poll, most Americans say the president does not care much about people like themselves. Fifty-one percent now think he doesn't care, compared to 47 percent last fall.

Just 30 percent approve of how Mr. Bush is handling the Iraq war, another all-time low. By two to one, the poll finds Americans think U.S. efforts to bring stability to Iraq are going badly – the worst assessment yet of progress in Iraq.

Even on fighting terrorism, which has long been a strong suit for Mr. Bush, his ratings dropped lower than ever. Half of Americans say they disapprove of how he's handling the war on terror, while 43 percent approve.

In a bright spot for the administration, most Americans appeared to have heard enough about Vice President Dick Cheney's hunting accident. More then three in four said it was understandable that the accident had occurred and two-thirds said the media had spent too much time covering the story.

Still, the incident appears to have made the public's already negative view of Cheney more so. Just 18 percent said they had a favorable view of the vice president, down from 23 percent in January. Americans were evenly split on whether or not Cheney's explanation of why there was a delay in reporting the accident was satisfactory.

©MMVI, CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved.


Meanwhile,what's up at the Supreme Court US?

From scotusblog.com :

Monday, February 27, 2006
Court grants no new cases
Posted by Lyle Denniston at 10:02 AM

The Supreme Court on Monday issued its regular orders list. No new cases were granted, and there was no action on the pending appeal by Jose Padilla, a U.S. citizen challenging his detention as an "enemy combatant" (Padilla v. Hanft, 05-533).

Few of the actions on the list were noteworthy. Among the cases the Court refused to hear was a test of what a buyer of a used car must prove to support a claim that a dealer committed fraud under federal law in making the sale. Lower courts are divided, according to the appeal in Ioffe v. Skokie Motor Sales (05-735) over the requirements to prove a violation of the Motor Vehicle Information and Cost Savings Act.

The Court approved the Solicitor General's request to take part in the oral arguments on cases testing the scope of the exclusion of evidence under the Crawford v. Washington decision on the Confrontation Clause. The cases involve "excited utterances" made by an individual to police either in a 911 call or at a crime scene. The cases are Davis v. Washington (05-5224) and Hammon v. Indiana (05-5705).

RESPONSE: A reader calls attention to the Court's denial of review of a case challenging the protocol for lethal injection as the method of execution (Hill v. Florida, 05-8731). The denial was unremarkable. The Court had previously denied a stay of execution in this case (on Jan. 24), but a day later granted a stay when it agreed to review of a separate appeal (05-8794) by Hill on his procedural rights in making such a challenge. The Florida Supreme Court ruling that Hill had asked the Court to review in this case found that the Lancet study, on which many of these challenges to the execution protocol is based, did not entitle Hill to an evidentiary hearing on whether that protocol violates the Eighth Amendment.

The Lancet study, the state court found, "does not sufficiently call into question our holding" in a 2000 case, Smith v. State, upholding the state's specific protocol.

"The trial court in this case correctly determined," the state court said in Hill, "that this study does not entitle Hill to relief. As it clearly admits, the study is inconclusive....[The study does not] provide evidence that an adequate amount of sodium pentothol is not being administered in Florida, or that the manner in which this drug is administered in Florida prevents it from having its desired effect."

Since the first of this year, the Supreme Court has repeatedly refused to hear challenges based on the Lancet study. Those appeals were last-minute challenges to execution. A clearer view of the Court's reaction to complaints about lethal injection protocol will come when the Justices act on the appeal in Abdur'Rahman v. Bredesen (05-1036), which does not involve a final-hour challenge. A response in that case is due on March 20.


Also interesting, IMHO, is the denial of certiorari in Clarence Hill's petition for certiorari to the Florida Supreme Court. According the AP, this petition raises the substantive lethal injection question.
Hill v. Florida, 05-8731
Posted by: Kent Scheidegger at February 27, 2006 11:17 AM

I notice that Justice Alito is voting on petitions for rehearing in cases on which he did not sit when they were decided. I thought that was not done, or is it just an issue when a non-sitting justice votes in favor of rehearing such a case?
Posted by: r.friedman at February 27, 2006 01:09 PM


Sunday, February 26, 2006

Larry Johnson knows BS when he smells it...

From http://noquarter.typepad.com/my_weblog/

Note: Go to his site and read his bio....

February 22, 2006
Don't Do Dubai Dubya
byLarry C Johnson

If Dubai Ports World (DPW) does as nifty a job of running our ports as it has done running the freeport in Dubai then we are screwed.

This is not about the fact that police and security officials from the United Arab Emirates have been helping us track down Al Qaeda operatives and other ornery jihadists. The issue here is the fact that the port in Dubai is one of the major ports in the world involved with smuggling of counterfeit and contraband product. A few years ago, for example, I was alerted to a shipment of several containers of cigarettes from Panama's port of Colon to Dubai. The addressee on the invoice? Al Rabea Spare Car Parts. Now, last time I checked, cigarettes are not and never have been an automobile spare car part.

Other items, including consumer electronics, liquor, HP print cartridges, make their way to Dubai and are then smuggled into tough areas like Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, and Pakistan. And what is Dubai Ports World doing to crackdown on this activity? Nothing.

The inability or refusal to deal with the use of ports under the control of Dubai Ports World that are involved with smuggling is reason enough to stop this deal dead in its tracks. The owners of DPW are not the ones cooperating closely with the United States in tracking down the terrorists who attacked us. Instead, they have close ties to a host of shipping companies, including those owned by the Bin Laden family.

The challenge of smuggling a dirty nuke is comparable to smuggling containers of cigarettes, liquor, and shoes. If DPW will not stop the latter how can we be confident they will prevent the former? That's a security bet we should not take or make.

Posted by Larry Johnson on February 22, 2006 at 08:20 PM


Bush: Not fit to strut Presidential stage...

From Raw Story:

Bush ain't Hitler... he's a Hirohito
Katie McKy - Raw Story Columnist
Published: February 26, 2006

We understand something new through something familiar. To comprehend Bush, many compare him to Hitler. Here and abroad, he's been deemed America's Hitler. It follows then, that neocons would be considered neonazis-and they sometimes are.

But neither comparison is apt. Hitler is without peer. About 35,000,000 deaths can be attributed to Hitler and his swarm. Another 20,000,000 died due to his allies. Cities were leveled. That man(iac) attacked in every possible direction. If he could have declared war on the Earth's core and clouds, he would have. And the centerpiece of Hitler's horror was the institutionalization of genocide in the concentration camps.

Bush lacks full equivalencies. His wars aren't world war. He only attacks to the east: the Middle East. And Gitmo isn't Auschwitz.

Behind a podium, Bush also can't compare to Hitler. Hitler mesmerized. At best, Bush amuses. At worst, he leaves liberals and moderates wondering why anyone voted for a man that believes the people of Greece are "Grecians."

There are also formative differences. Hitler endured peril. He fought in WWI. Then Hitler rioted and was imprisoned. Bush was swaddled. He didn't attend the finest schools by merit. He was excused from the Guard by privilege.

Hitler was a scrapper. Bush ain't. He's a silver-spooned softie.

He's America's Hirohito. Until 1946, Hirohito was believed to be a God...and treated accordingly. As a God, he was exempt from suffering. Tokyo would burn and Nagasaki would smolder, but Hirohito spent the war in silk. His exemption from suffering was not a ubiquitous aspect of power in the 1940s. Even Tojo, the Japanese Prime Minister during WWII, was a veteran. And FDR's sons all served.

But Bush, like Hirohito, was exempted from war. And like Hirohito, he has an anachronistic notion of leadership. Hirohito believed that his authority was divine. As an alleged descendent of the Sun Goddess, Hirohito was born to lead. As a descendent of George, Sr., GW also believes that he was born to lead, but like Hirohito, he carries no credentials other than lineage. Both rose by dint of monarchy rather than meritocracy. Bush wouldn't stand before the spotlights if he weren't a Bush (His social equivalent is the equally vacuous Paris Hilton, but that's another analogy.).

Like Hirohito, Bush has an anachronistic notion of leadership. Both bark at subordinates and delegate authority, which makes them clueless in a crunch. Consider the current port brouhaha: Bush was out of the loop. Hirohito was often out of the loop too. When he contracted the cancer that killed him, he wasn't informed. Divinity doesn't bother with mortality, 'cause that's the way, uh-huh, uh-huh, they like it.

So, neither is a William Wallace, as depicted by Mel Gibson. Neither was the first to charge. And neither manages to be a MacArthur. For all his faults, when Douglas "I shall return" MacArthur waded ashore in '44, that was real peril. There were bullets in the air. MacArthur was not pretending to be a warrior, ala Bush. Doug waded into harm's way.

And as an old soldier, MacArthur did not merely fade away, as he promised. From the wisdom that one can garner by witnessing war, MacArthur urged JFK to avoid a build-up of troops in Vietnam and to attend to pressing domestic affairs instead.

But Hirohito and GW lack such war weary wisdom: they never endured war. And with Powell ejected, Bush even lacks such a war weary confidant.

Hirohito and Bush also eluded deprivation-and failure with consequences. Eventually, GW claimed the blame for New Orleans, but that meant nothing. He still reigns. He's still rich. And he's still supported by 40% of Americans.

40%. That 40% would have blended into Japan's 1946 populace. Many Japanese wept when Hirohito conceded that he wasn't divine. The belief that he knew best was precious to them. And the belief that Bush knows best is precious to 40% of the country...and precious to Bush. That Bush knows best has been disproved, but Bush has a faith-based relationship with his supporters. It isn't theological faith. It's secular faith...and it's adolescent. To be all grown-up, citizens must shed the notion that those with authority, those with trim suits and red ties, those that stand behind podiums, have a clue what to do. And they must put down such childish devices as the Jews du jour, whether they're Muslims or queer folks or liberals. And grown-up citizens must not expect our emperor to purr that the Union "is confident and strong" when we're borrowing billions and billions of dollars and sucking money from schools to occupy Iraq.
Teddy Roosevelt said, "The President is merely the most important among a large number of public servants...Therefore it is absolutely necessary that there should be full liberty to tell the truth...Any other attitude in an American citizen is both base and servile."

Emperor Bush doesn't understand this. Like Emperor Hirohito, he is distracted from his designated service by his dreams of empire. And his base still believes that Bush knows best-by his birth.

So, he ain't Hitler. Hitler wanted lebensraum: living space. Bush, like Hirohito, wants resources and he wants to maintain the status quo: an America powered by oil. In his quest for more oil and more money and more power, Bush has forgotten that he promised to serve us and to protect the Constitution.

Unfortunately, MacArthur is dead. He can no longer stride into the Oval Office and spend 3 hours, as he did with JFK, urging Bush to be a president and not an emperor, to attend to his country, rather than build an empire.


Rumsfeld: Propaganda only....Rest of you, silence!

From Information Clearing House:

Rumsfeld Zeros in on the Internet
By Mike Whitney

Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld was warmly greeted at the recent meeting of the Council on Foreign Relations. The CFR is the hand-picked assemblage of western elites from big-energy, corporate media, high-finance and the weapons industry. These are the 4,000 or so members of the American ruling class who determine the shape of policy and ensure that the management of the global economic system remains in the hands of U.S. bluebloods.

As the Pentagon’s chief-coordinator, Rumsfeld enjoys a prominent place among American mandarins. He is the caretaker of their most prized possession; the high-tech, taxpayer-funded, laser-guided war machine. The US Military is the crown-jewel of the American empire; a fully-operational security apparatus for the protection of pilfered resources and the ongoing subjugation of the developing world.

Rumsfeld’s speech alerted his audience to the threats facing America in the new century. He opined: “We meet today in the 6th year in what promises to be a long struggle against an enemy that in many ways is unlike any our country has ever faced. And, in this war, some of the most critical battles may not be in the mountains in Afghanistan or in the streets of Iraq, but in newsrooms—in places like New York, London, Cairo, and elsewhere.”

“New York”?

“Our enemies have skillfully adapted to fighting wars in today’s media age, but for the most part our country has not”.

Huh? Does Rummy mean those grainy, poorly-produced videos of Bin Laden and co.?

“Consider that the violent extremists have established ‘media relations committees’—and have proven to be highly-successful at manipulating opinion-elites. They plan to design their headline-grabbing attacks using every means of communications to intimidate and break the collective will of free people”.

What gibberish. It’s foolish to mention “intimidating and breaking the collective will of free people” without entering Abu Ghraib, Guantanomo and Falluja into the discussion. Rumsfeld is just griping about the disgrace he’s heaped on America’s reputation by his refusal to conform to even minimal standards of decency. Instead, he insists that America’s declining stature in the world is the result of a hostile media and “skillful enemies”; in other words, anyone with a computer keyboard and a rudimentary sense of moral judgment.

(Our enemies) “know that communications transcend borders…and that a single news story , handled skillfully, can be as damaging to our cause and as helpful to theirs, as any other method of military attack”.

If the Pentagon is really so worried about “bad press coverage” why not close down the torture-chambers and withdrawal from Iraq? Instead, Rumsfeld is making the case for a preemptive-assault on free speech.

“The growing number of media outlets in many parts of the world….too often serve to inflame and distort, rather than explain and inform. And while Al Qaida and extremist movements have utilized this forum for many years, and have successfully poisoned the Muslim public’s view of the West, we have barely even begun to compete in reaching their audiences.”

“Inflame and distort”? What distortion? Do cameras distort the photos of abused prisoners, desperate people, or decimated cities? Rumsfeld’s analysis borders on the delusional. Al Qaida doesn’t have a well-oiled propaganda mechanism that provides a steady stream of fabrications to whip the public into a frenzy. That’s the American media’s assignment. And, they haven’t “poisoned Muslim public opinion” against us. That has been entirely the doing of the Pentagon warlords and their White House compatriots.

“The standard US government public affairs operation was designed primarily …to be reactive rather than proactive…Government, however, is beginning to adapt”

“Proactive news”? In other words, propaganda. Rumsfeld confirms his dedication to propaganda by defending the bogus stories that were printed in Iraqi newspapers by Pentagon contractors.

(We) “sought non-traditional means to provide accurate information to the Iraqi people in the face of an aggressive campaign of disinformation….This has been deemed inappropriate—for examples the allegations of ‘buying news’”.

A brazen defense of intentionally planted lies; how low can we sink?

This has had a “chilling effect for those who are asked to serve in the military public affairs field.”

Is it really that difficult to print the truth?

Rumsfeld boasts of the vast changes in “communications planning” taking place at the Pentagon. A “public affairs” strategy is at the heart of the new paradigm, replete with “rapid response” teams to address the nagging issues of bombed-out wedding parties, starving prisoners, and devastated cities. No problem is so great that it can’t be papered-over by a public relations team trained in the black-art of deception, obfuscation, and slight-of-hand. Trickery now tops the list of military priorities.

“US Central Command has launched an online communications effort that includes electronic news updates and a links campaign that has resulted in several hundred blogs receiving and publishing CENTCOM content.”

The military plans to develop the “institutional capability” to respond to critical news coverage within the same news cycle and to develop a comprehensive scheme for infiltrating the internet. The Pentagon’s strategy for taking over the internet and controlling the free flow of information has already been chronicled in a recently declassified report, “The Information Operations Roadmap”; is a window into the minds of those who see free speech as dangerous as an “enemy weapons-system”.

The Pentagon is aiming for “full spectrum dominance” of the Internet. Their objective is to manipulate public perceptions, quash competing points of view, and perpetuate a narrative of American generosity and good-will. Rumsfeld’s comments are intended to awaken his constituents to the massive information war that is being waged to transform the Internet into the progeny of the MSM; a reliable partner for the dissemination of establishment-friendly news.

The Associated Press reported recently that the US government conducted a massive simulated attack on the Internet called “Cyber-Storm”. The wargame was designed, among other things, to “respond to misinformation campaigns and activist calls by internet bloggers, online diarists whose ‘Web logs” include political rantings and musings about current events”.

Before Bush took office, “political rantings and musings about current events” were protected under the 1st amendment. No more.

The War Department is planning to insert itself into every area of the Internet from blogs to chat rooms, from leftist web sites to editorial commentary. Their rapid response team will be on hair-trigger alert to dispute any tidbit of information that challenges the official storyline. We can expect to encounter, as the BBC notes, “psychological operations (that) try to manipulate the thoughts and the beliefs of the enemy (as well as) computer network specialists who seek to destroy enemy networks.”

The enemy, of course, is anyone who refuses to accept their servile role in the new world order or who disrupts the smooth-operation of the Bush police-state.The resolve to foreclose on free speech has never been greater.

As for Rumsfeld’s devotees at the CFR, the problem of savaging civil liberties is never seriously raised. After all, these are the primary beneficiaries of Washington’s global resource-war; should it matter that other people’s freedom is sacrificed to perpetuate the fundamental institutions of class and privilege? Rumsfeld is right. The only way to prevail on the information-battlefield is to “take no prisoners”; police the Internet, uproot the troublemakers and activists who provide the truth, and “catapult the propaganda” (Bush) from every bullhorn and web site across the virtual-universe. Free speech is a luxury we cannot afford if it threatens to undermine the basic platforms of western white rule.

As Rumsfeld said, “We are fighting a battle where the survival of our free way of life is at stake.”

Indeed, it is.


The PNAC participants.........

From Hoffmania.com :


Roger Barnett U.S. Naval War College

Alvin Bernstein National Defense University

Stephen Cambone National Defense University

Eliot Cohen Nitze School of Advanced International Studies, Johns Hopkins University

Devon Gaffney Cross Donors' Forum for International Affairs

Thomas DonnellyProject for the New American Century

David Epstein Office of Secretary of Defense, Net Assessment

David Fautua Lt. Col., U.S. Army

Dan Goure Center for Strategic and International Studies

Donald Kagan Yale University

Fred Kagan U. S. Military Academy at West Point

Robert Kagan Carnegie Endowment for International Peace

Robert Killebrew Col., USA (Ret.)

William Kristol The Weekly Standard

Mark Lagon Senate Foreign Relations Committee

James Lasswell GAMA Corporation

I. Lewis Libby Dechert Price & Rhoads

Robert Martinage Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessment

Phil Meilinger U.S. Naval War College

Mackubin Owens U.S. Naval War College

Steve Rosen Harvard University

Gary Schmitt Project for the New American Century

Abram Shulsky The RAND Corporation

Michael Vickers Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessment

Barry Watts Northrop Grumman Corporation

Paul WolfowitzNitze School of Advanced International Studies, Johns Hopkins University

Dov Zakheim System Planning Corporation

***Remember these individuals....and what they have wrought...


Misadventure: When Bush bicycled in Scotland...

From news.scotsman.com :

Sun 26 Feb 2006
Bush joins Chinese cyclists for an afternoon ride. The President, a keen cyclist, collided with the police officer while cycling near the rear gate of the Gleneagles Hotel.

US leader crashed by trying to 'pedal, wave and speak at same time'

HE MAY be the most powerful man in the world, but proof has emerged that President George Bush cannot ride a bike, wave and speak at the same time.

Scotland on Sunday has obtained remarkable details of one of the most memorably bizarre episodes of the Bush presidency: the day he crashed into a Scottish police constable while cycling in the grounds of Gleneagles Hotel.

The incident, which will do little to improve Bush's accident-prone reputation, began when he took to two wheels for a spot of early-evening exercise during last year's G8 summit at the Perthshire resort.

After a hard day's discussion with fellow world leaders, the president was looking for some relaxation. Instead, he ended up the subject of a police report in which the leader of the free world was described, in classic police language, as a "moving/falling object".

It was "about 1800 hours on Wednesday, 6 July, 2005" that a detachment of Strathclyde police constables, in "Level 2 public order dress [anti-riot gear]," formed a protective line at the gate at the hotel's rear entrance, in case demonstrators penetrated the biggest-ever security operation on Scottish soil.

The official police incident report states: "[The unit] was requested to cover the road junction on the Auchterarder to Braco Road as the President of the USA, George Bush, was cycling through." The report goes on: "[At] about 1800 hours the President approached the junction at speed on the bicycle. The road was damp at the time. As the President passed the junction at speed he raised his left arm from the handlebars to wave to the police officers present while shouting 'thanks, you guys, for coming'.

"As he did this he lost control of the cycle, falling to the ground, causing both himself and his bicycle to strike [the officer] on the lower legs. [The officer] fell to the ground, striking his head. The President continued along the ground for approximately five metres, causing himself a number of abrasions. The officers... then assisted both injured parties."

The injured officer, who was not named, was whisked to Perth Royal Infirmary. The report adds: "While en-route President Bush phoned [the officer], enquiring after his wellbeing and apologising for the accident."

At hospital, a doctor examined the constable and diagnosed damage to his ankle ligaments and issued him with crutches. The cause was officially recorded as: "Hit by moving/falling object."
No details of damage to the President are recorded from his close encounter with the policeman and the road, although later reports said he had been "bandaged" by a White House physician after suffering scrapes on his hands and arms.

At the time Bush laughed off the incident, saying he should start "acting his age".

Details of precisely how the crash unfolded have until now been kept under wraps for fear of embarrassing both Bush and the injured constable. But the new disclosures are certain to raise eyebrows on Washington's Capitol Hill.

Jim McDermott, a Democrat Congressman, last night quipped: "Not only does he break the law over here on eavesdropping and spying on our own citizens, but it seems he can't even keep to your law when it comes to riding a bike. It's another example of how he can't keep his mind on the things he should be thinking about."

Bush often takes to two wheels for exercise, after pain in his knees forced him to give up running. He regularly rides at secret service training facilities near Washington, and the G8 accident is just one in a long list of mishaps. In May 2004, he fell off his mountain bike, grazing his chin, upper lip, nose, both knees, and his right hand, while riding on his ranch in Texas. In June 2003, he fell off his hi-tech Segway scooter.

In Scotland, an accident such as the one at Gleneagles could have led to police action. Earlier this year, Strathclyde Police issued three fixed penalty notices to errant cyclists as part of a crack-down on rogue riders. Legal experts also suggested lesser mortals could have ended up with a fixed penalty fine, prosecution, or at least a good ticking-off from officers.

John Scott, a human rights lawyer, said: "There's certainly enough in this account for a charge of careless driving. Anyone else would have been warned for dangerous driving.

"I have had clients who have been charged with assaulting a police officer for less than this. The issue of how long the police officer was out of action for is also important. He was away from work for 14 weeks, and that would normally be very significant in a case like this."

No-one was available for comment from the White House.


Mark Danner investigates, then writes truth...

From Tom Dispatch:

You Can Do Anything with a Bayonet Except Sit on It
A Tomdispatch Interview with Mark Danner

On a cloudless day, the sky a brilliant, late-afternoon blue, my car winds its way up the Berkeley hills. Plum and pear trees in glorious whites and pinks burst into sight at each turn in the road. Beds of yellow flowers, trees hung with lemons, and the odd palm are surrounded by the green of a northern California winter, though the temperature is pushing 70 degrees. An almost perfectly full moon, faded to a tattered white, sits overhead.

Suddenly, I take a turn and start straight up, as if into the heavens, but in fact towards Grizzly Peak before turning yet again into a small street and pulling up in front of a wooden gate. You swing it open and proceed down a picturesque stone path through the world's tiniest grove of redwoods toward the yellow stucco cottage that was only recently the home of Nobel-Prize-winning poet Czeslaw Milosz, but is now the home -- as yet almost furniture-less -- of journalist Mark Danner, who has said that, as a young writer in search of "a kind of moral clarity," he gravitated toward countries where "massacres and killings and torture happen, in the place, that is, where we find evil."

Danner greets me at the door which, thrown open, reveals a bay window with a dazzling vista of the Golden Gate Bridge and San Francisco Bay and through which the sun blazes goldenly. In a rumpled dark shirt and slacks, he ushers me out onto a small stone patio. "This is where the deer hang out," he says and points to a small area just beyond our chairs where the grass is slightly pressed down. "They lie there contemplating me as I pace on the other side of the bay window. I feel like their ping pong game."

Facing this peaceable kingdom, Danner has a slightly distracted, out-of-the-washer-but-not-the-drier look to him, except for his face, strangely unmarked, which would qualify as lighting up (even without the sun). He beams in such a welcoming way and there is in him something -- in this setting at least -- that makes it almost impossible to believe he has reported from some of the least hospitable, most dangerous spots on the planet over the last decades: Haiti in the 1980s, war-torn Yugoslavia in the 1990s, and Iraq, which he's visited three times in recent years, among other spots. He has covered the world for the New Yorker, the New York Times Magazine, and especially the New York Review of Books (whose editors have been kind enough to let a number of his pieces be posted at Tomdispatch.com).

Danner is now an expert on the torture practices of the U.S. military, the CIA, and the Bush administration (and his primer on the subject, Torture and Truth: America, Abu Ghraib and the War on Terror, is a must for any bookshelf). A professor at the Graduate School of Journalism at the University of California, Berkeley, his cup of tea seems to be dicey American foreign-policy situations. His book-writing career began with a now-classic volume, The Massacre at El Mozote, in which he traveled to El Salvador for the exhumation of an infamous site where over 750 Salvadorans were massacred by U.S. trained troops during Ronald Reagan's first year in office. A new book of his recent writings, The Secret Way to War, is due out in April.
We seat ourselves, a makeshift table with my tape recorders between us, and turning away from the slowly sinking sun, simply plunge in.

Click here to read more of this dispatch. [and it surely is worth reading....]


The fast-thinking policeman!

From ???? (I wish I knew :)) via email:

Police aren't perfect, but this cop comes close to winning the ingenuity award.

A driver did the right thing, stopping at the school crosswalk even though he could have beaten the red light by accelerating through the intersection..

The tailgating woman behind him went ballistic, pounding on her horn and screaming in frustration as she missed her chance to drive through the intersection with him.

Still in mid-rant, she heard a tap on her window and looked up into the face of a very serious police officer. The officer ordered her to exit her car with her hands up. He took her to the police station where she was searched, fingerprinted, photographed and placed in a cell.

After a couple of hours, a policeman approached the cell and opened the door. She was escorted back to the booking desk where the arresting officer was waiting with her personal effects.

He said, "I'm awfully sorry for this mistake. You see, I pulled up behind your car while you were blowing your horn, flipping the guy off in front of you, and cussing a blue streak at him I noticed the "What Would Jesus Do" license plate holder, the "Follow me to Sunday School" bumper sticker, the chrome plated Christian fish emblem on the trunk and the "My Boss is a Jewish Carpenter" decal on your back window.......

Naturally, I assumed you had stolen the car."


Justice Ginsburg stands alone now....

From Newsweek:

By Anna Quindlen

In the glow of modern progress, the stories I tell my children about my girlhood sound as ancient as the Parthenon, beginning with my impossible (and improbable) dream of being an altar girl. The classified ads divided by sex, the working women forced out of their jobs by pregnancy, the family businesses passed unthinkingly to sons-in-law while the daughters stood by: the witnesses to those artifacts are going gray and growing old.

One of the most haunting reminders of those bad old days is on my desk, in a book to be published this spring titled "The Girls Who Went Away." I knew instantly who they were: the girls who disappeared, allegedly to visit distant relatives or take summer jobs in faraway beach towns, when they were actually in homes for unwed mothers giving birth and then giving up their children. They came back with dead eyes and bad reputations, even though, like some of those in Ann Fessler's book, they may have gotten pregnant the first time out. And they came back riddled with pain and rage and an unspeakable sense of loss. "I'd have an abortion any day of the week, before I would ever have another adoption—or lose a kid in the woods—which is basically what it is," recalled one woman bitterly.

That's what a pregnant 16-year-old might well do today: have the abortion. Or she might have the baby and raise it with her family's help, or give it up for adoption after handpicking the adoptive parents and drawing up a contract allowing her to visit the child from time to time. It's a whole new world, in which female sexual behavior is no longer a moral felony. But those of us of a certain age remember those other girls, who were expected to serve a life sentence. Their parents called them whores and threw them out of the house, or simply pressed their lips tight and pretended nothing had happened while their daughters died inside. In "The Girls Who Went Away," one recalled, "It was the beginning of it being invisible."

The number of us who remember being invisible is dwindling. Coretta Scott King remembered when a black woman was seen in some quarters only as a hired domestic, Betty Friedan when a white woman was often treated like a major appliance or a decorative home accent. But both of them are now gone. Sandra Day O'Connor, who with little fanfare stepped down from the high court recently, remembers when a lawyer could tell you, without a hint of apology, that his firm never had and likely never would hire a woman associate.

O'Connor, the first female Supreme Court justice, was never known as a feminist firebrand. But she had what I think of as transformative experience, something that can't help but suffuse your life and your mind. She carried within her the memory of what it was like to be reflexively devalued despite being smart and capable. I think it's probably a good thing for a judge to have faced down that sort of organized systemic injustice. One argument is that it's not supposed to matter, that judges are simply there to consider the statute as written, as though the law were algebra and its subject numbers. But jurisprudence is not math, and judges are not automatons but people who have been undoubtedly and sometimes mysteriously marked by what they remember, or choose to forget.

The justice who nominally replaced O'Connor, Samuel Alito, was questioned closely during his confirmation hearings about his membership in a group that opposed the admission of women to Princeton, his alma mater. Justice Alito appeared to recall little of the controversy. But I do. I remember the condescending andinsulting way women were discussed when various Ivy League institutions considered granting the honor of their Y-chromosome diplomas, the questions about whether Yale women could be permitted to use the pool at the Yale Club. One Princeton alum told The New York Times in those days, "Girls are being sent to Princeton less to educate them than to pacify, placate and amuse the boys." It was certainly an education, to witness the resentment and outrage that erupts when the invisible insist on being seen, even acknowledged.

That was a long time ago. In the light of progress the shadows fade, yet how vivid they still sometimes seem. There is now only a single woman on the Supreme Court. Imagine the world if homes, businesses, schools, had only one woman for every eight men. It would be an odd sort of world, wouldn't it? Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg surely can remember well when abortion was often a do-it-yourself affair, when an accidental pregnancy sometimes meant an exile into a hidden and unacknowledged hell. I suppose the landscape seems very different to her than it did when she was one of the lawyers arguing before the high court that it was impermissible to force pregnant teachers to give up their jobs because of the ridiculous presumption that expectant mothers are unable to work. Yet today she finds herself where she has so often been in the past: the only woman among a coterie of men. Not quite invisible. Not quite.

© 2006 Newsweek, Inc.


Saturday, February 25, 2006

NO! say Marines & Navy to San Diego Airport plans.

From voiceofsandiego.org :

Part the Sea for This Thing
Voice Staff Writer
Saturday, Feb. 25, 2006

Shifting five miles of Interstate 15 more than a mile-and-a-half inland. Digging a 3-mile tunnel with a complex baggage- and passenger-moving system beneath San Diego Bay. Rebuilding the intersection of Interstate 5 and Highway 76.

Each major undertaking would be part of a plan to build a joint-use airport at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, Naval Air Station North Island or Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, according to concepts released yesterday by the San Diego County Regional Airport Authority.

As the authority draws closer to choosing an option to put on November's ballot, it has for the first time pinpointed where airports would be built on local military bases. The authority's planning committee will review the concepts Monday morning. Detailed analyses examining costs, transportation access and environmental impacts are due in early April.

Here's a look at the newly released details of what is (and isn't) being considered:

-- East Miramar: An airport on the eastern half of the Marine base won't work, said Gregory R. Wellman, vice president of Ricondo & Associates, the authority's Chicago-based technical consultant. The hilly terrain is one problem, he said. Aircraft approaching the site wouldn't be able to descend easily, he said, because of mountains to the east. The consultants considered four concepts there, each putting the airport someplace different. All four failed, he said. The authority's nine-member board will have the ultimate say here.

-- Miramar: A joint-use airport adjacent to Miramar's existing runways would work, Wellman said. Two 12,000-foot runways -- separated by a terminal -- would be built parallel on the south side of the Marine base's existing runways. This option would replace Lindbergh Field. One obvious cost: Both new runways would overlap Interstate 15 near its intersection with Highway 163. Wellman said about five miles of the Interstate 15 would need to be shifted east.

The reason: The runways can't be built atop the nearby landfill.

The concept is still skeletal. The authority's consultants are unsure how the military would be impacted. Wellman could not say whether the Marines, who are opposed to any proposal, would see any benefits. One obvious complication: Marine pilots practice about 10,000 aircraft carrier landings at Miramar. The concept addresses that by proposing to shift those landings to the southernmost runway, which would accommodate civilian flights the rest of the time.

-- North Island. A joint-use airport here would supplement Lindbergh Field. A 3-mile underground tunnel would connect the two. Passengers would check in at Lindbergh, and hop into some type of underground transit -- a train, perhaps -- eliminating any traffic impacts in Coronado. Air traffic would be split 50-50 between the two sites in this scenario. A new runway would be built at North Island, and an existing runway would be extended 4,000 feet -- partially jutting out into the ocean on a pier. Most takeoffs and landings would fly over the ocean, to minimize noise. But when winds wouldn't allow it -- about 35 to 40 days a year -- flights would follow the current paths from Lindbergh.

* Camp Pendleton. A massive bombing range in the base's center presented problems here, Wellman said. That left one viable option: two parallel runways along the base's southern edge, close to the Highway 76 and Interstate 5 interchange. Access would come from Highway 76, with no other civilian access to the base. Several holes of an on-base golf course would be relocated. The option, which would replace Lindbergh Field, would be complicated by the diversity of environmentally sensitive species living throughout the site.

* "An out-of-the-box idea." That's what Wellman calls for an embryonic fourth option. It would build a military-only runway at Camp Pendleton, allowing some Miramar aircraft to shift north. A new runway and terminal combined with an existing runway at Miramar would accommodate all of San Diego's commercial air traffic.

The military has seen all of the concepts -- and panned them. Three authority board members shared them in a meeting last week with B.J. Penn, the assistant secretary of the U.S. Navy. Yesterday, Penn's boss -- Secretary of the Navy Donald C. Winter -- said none of the ideas would work.

"While I recognize the San Diego region faces difficult planning and economic decisions regarding future aviation growth," Winter wrote in a letter responding to U.S. Rep. Susan A. Davis, D-San Diego, "I must tell you that national defense requirements preclude making any portion of any of these installations available for a new or dual use commercial airport."

In other words, no chance.

Authority board member Mary Teresa Sessom said the letter was clear. The authority, she said, should be focused on researching practical options.

"We're wasting a hell of a lot of time studying stuff that isn't going to help this region," Sessom said, "and the region needs to be able to move ahead. It can't as long as we are spinning our wheels. … How much louder do they need to yell this at us?"

Several Miramar neighbors were happy to hear the eastern portion of the base won't work -- a sentiment many have voiced throughout the process. Eric Germain, president of the Tierrasanta Community Council, said he doesn't believe concerns about shared airspace have been resolved.
Even if they have, he said, "I didn't move to Tierrasanta to live next to an airport."

Brandon Waters, spokesman for Assemblyman George Plescia, R-Mira Mesa, called the Miramar joint-use concept "the stupidest idea anyone has ever conceived."

"If the airport authority wants to create a situation where they are doomed for failure," Waters said, "they are on track."

Please contact Rob Davis directly at rob.davis@voiceofsandiego.org with your thoughts, ideas, personal stories or tips. Or send a letter to the editor here.

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Supporting the Troops...

From voiceofsandiego.org :

Supporting Our Military
Friday, Feb. 24, 2006

Driving home by the Federal Building on Front Street, I observe frequent assemblies of well-dressed concerned people sporting signs reading "Support Our Troops." For a number of reasons, these demonstrations make me uneasy.

Of course, I most definitely want to support our military in Iraq. Use of the collective remote term "troops" instead of the more hospitable "soldiers," however, suggest that the demonstrators have little understanding of what it really means to be almost constantly at risk on a battlefield like Iraq. Supporting our soldiers requires, first of all, a great effort of imagination to understand what is almost impossible to grasp or even to share with people who have not experienced combat.

Arriving on the battlefield, you suddenly realize that you are really being shot at. At first you are petrified and it takes a supreme effort of the will not to be paralyzed. Mercifully that is soon overridden by anger and by concern for your buddies. All you know for sure is that you are under orders and you have to move into the field of fire to do your job. The family with whom you share your immediate fate and on whom your life depends is around you.

When you are in combat the issue of whether you are engaged in a just war or not is neither relevant nor significant. Right now you represent and defend the United States of America in a highly circumscribed environment where life and death is your sole focus if you are to prevail and survive. "Support our troops" is well and good as far as it goes. But I fear that none of what this sentence implies has the substance of reality. It seems to be a cheap way to offer a positive element to a vacuous signal to help the situation in Iraq.

Unfortunately, it takes a lot more than parading with signs to offer sustenance to our engaged military. None of this seems to be understood with any insight, nor does it suggest any affinity with our soldiers by our leaders in Washington, most of whom have never heard a bullet or a piece of exploding shell whiz by, or the startled cry and groan of cruelly pierced flesh, or that unique, pervasive, unforgettably sweet smell of death.

That is what is going on in Iraq right now, while at home in San Diego, we have the luxury and the privilege to complain about the high price of gasoline, the main reason why our soldiers are fighting and dying in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Elie A. Shneour, a native of France and World War II U.S. veteran, is president of Biosystems Institutes, Inc. and research director of Biosystems Research Institute of San Diego.


Chancellor : Univ of CA San Diego....

From voiceofsandiego.org :

Town vs. Gown: Questions for Marye Anne Fox
Saturday, Feb. 25, 2006

After only 18 months or so on the job as Chancellor of the University of California, San Diego, Marye Anne Fox has certainly become a household name. She feels that may be the case for the wrong reasons, and cites recent attacks by a local newspaper [San Diego Union-Tribune, Republican owned] as unfounded and ill-researched.

Fox said she takes all of her responsibilities as chancellor of one of the world's top research universities very seriously, whether they be touting the schools prowess in certain fields or working with the private sector to learn more about the business world. A scientist by training, she was one of the voices behind President Bush's recent call for more science and mathematics training in American universities, and she's fiercely proud of UCSD's accomplishments and vision for the future.

We sat down with Fox and asked her about her first year and a half in office, her embittered relationship with the local press, and UCSD's seemingly never-ending plans for expansion.
UCSD plans on growing exponentially in the next few years. How does the school plan to expand, how will you ensure that San Diego's infrastructure will not be adversely impacted, and where do you expect to house all those new students?

We have a goal of 30,000 students by 2010. We're at 25, now, so that's a 20 percent expansion in five years. There are several ways you can do that. You can build facilities to accommodate the students, or you can rely on neighboring communities to provide some of these facilities. We have a major investment in graduate-student housing going on on campus. That construction is taking place as we speak, and at the last regents meeting, we got the ok for a major project for transfer students, that is undergraduates. That will allow us to grow into the 30s -- 30 percent of students on campus, depending how fast we grow our student body, with the goal of having 50 percent of our students housed on campus.

Will that be affordable housing? Dorms?

Yes, it will be units that have privacy; there will be a bedroom that can be closed on a model on which there is a shared apartment and cooking area -- what has become the standard of dorms. It's not the dorm I went to, where we had two or three women in one room, with one window and showers down the hall somewhere.

UCSD has instigated plans to expand into Mexico.

Any updates on how that expansion is going?
They have hired the staff person that will be living in Mexico City and developing potential overlaps. In early March we have a meeting in Mexico City and we'll see how some of these issues have evolved.

We really do believe that globalization is going to be a really important part of students' education going forward, and we have a unique opportunity to take advantage of a country within driving distance, so that our students can have a bi-cultural experience as part of their education at UCSD.

What is the latest news on the Chancellor's House [In summer 2004, the $12 million official residence for the chancellor, located in the prestigious La Jolla Farms neighborhood, was closed because of numerous structural problems. UCSD had planned on selling the property, but back-tracked late last year,]

(University of California) President Dynes asked us what could be done in terms of selling the property. In the process of the appropriate valuations and so-forth, we've now been able to raise almost enough money to re-do the property, and we're in the stage of working with an architect to get plans which would allow us to use the land most effectively.

Are you hoping to move in any time soon?

Well, any time soon with all the permits we need probably means a couple of years. I take it on as a responsibility for my successor.

Is that a scoop? Does that mean you're only going to be around for the next couple of years?
Well, three, five, seven, nine years -- I'll be here for one of those periods.

How do you respond to some of the allegations that have been made about you, specifically, allegations made in the Union-Tribune that you have spent an excessive amount of time in your roles as a director on a number of boards around the country?

In (UC Regents Chairman) Gerry Parsky's testimony in the legislative hearings, he said that one of the major criterions for this university is to have a sense for business.

I can tell you that when you're inducted as a member of the National Academy of Sciences, they don't take you off to the side and tell you about accounting rules, about what is a material weakness, what is a significant deficiency. They don't tell you what Sarbaines-Oxley requires or doesn't. They don't tell you about strategic planning.

So, one of the ways that academics can really get their best foot forward in understanding business is to be involved in boards that duplicate some of the directions of a particular institution.

I serve on four corporate boards, and the Union-Tribune insists on coming up with the number 10. We don't know where that came from. There are four corporate boards, and those are compensated, and they're compensated well. … The compensation is not the driving force; the driving force is being able to interact with people in such a way that you can think about ways to develop a company, while being an independent person. The independence of being a director is very important.

Can you give me an example where one of your directorial roles has led to a relationship like that -- not just at UCSD but at other schools where you have served?

Well, the purpose is not to form a relationship between UCSD and one of these companies. It's the need to learn more about the general business of this company; whether they are a software company, a medical device company, a clinical research company.

These are techniques that are very important for me to understand. … I think it's imperative for a chancellor at UCSD to understand the process by which decisions are made concerning clinical trials and so-forth: How to work a bottom line, what it means in terms of personnel.

It's not that I bring those things to the university, but I bring a basic appreciation of how those things work.

These are increasingly important parts of running a university. They're not the key mission of the university -- that's conducted by the faculty, and its education of students, its creating new knowledge through research. But the commercialization of that knowledge, and the importance of interacting with the private sector, is what's emphasized in board service.

I think the Union-Tribune assumed that all boards are the same. … When the article was written, there was no distinction made at all between compensated and uncompensated boards. I'm on lots of uncompensated boards, some of which are advisory to me. For example, the Board of Overseers, of which I'm an ex-officio member, advises me, I don't advise them. Spending time on that board is a key part of the university mission.

Only four of those boards are for-profit corporations, with substantial compensation. The other boards, which are foundation boards, only have nominal compensation, they're more an honoraria than a fee. So, the number is four, not ten.

Lastly, you've been in office for a year and a half. How are you enjoying UCSD, and how do you like San Diego?

How can you not love San Diego? UCSD is one of the best institutions in the world. We have fabulous faculty, they're creative, inventive, wonderful people. The students are beyond belief, they are incredibly talented, they're dedicated, they work hard. We have an administrative structure that understands that the administration exists to support the faculty and the students, and we're coming together as a team.

-- Interview by WILL CARLESS


Fed's Real ID Act...a royal pain in the ....

From the Sacramento Bee:

Editorial: Get ready for Real ID

Prepared to camp out at the DMV?
Published 2:15 am PST Saturday, February 25, 2006
Story appeared in Editorials section, Page B6

At a hearing in the state Senate last week, California legislators got their first close look at how the controversial federal Real ID Act will affect the state budget and ordinary Californians. It was unsettling.

Approved by Congress last year, the Real ID Act requires states to radically change the way they issue driver's licenses if they want their residents to be able to use that document as valid identification to board airplanes, enter federal buildings, and apply for a federal job, Social Security or any other federal benefit.

State officials who have met with a working group in Washington about implementation say the law will likely be phased in over a five-year period, beginning in 2008. That means not all 24 million licensed Californians will have to turn in their driver's licenses at once. That's a big relief.
Still, applicants seeking their first license in California or trying to get the old one renewed will find the task more difficult and expensive.

At minimum, California will be forced to suspend its convenient renew-by-mail option that more than 2 million state drivers used last year. That will mean longer lines at the Department of Motor Vehicles.

Besides presenting a birth certificate, applicants will also have to produce two documents to prove they actually live where they claim. (Federal regulators are expected to exempt most people born before 1935.)

The state's cost of implementing could go as high as $500 million, with individual license holders expected to pay more, possibly double the current $26 license fee.

When Congress approved the Real ID Act, it was billed as a necessary tool to fight global terrorism. Whether it does that is an open question. But it's clear that the new tool won't be cheap or easy to use.


Friday, February 24, 2006

Cheney's 250 emails re. Plame...

From truthout.org:

BREAKING Jason Leopold: White House 'Discovers' 250 Emails Related to Plame Leak


Jason Leopold has learned that 250 emails from Dick Cheney's office, relating to the outing of undercover CIA operative Valerie Plame-Wilson, that the White House claimed did not exist, in fact do. Those newly re-discovered emails have been turned over to Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald and are said to be explosive.

[click link above to read rest of article]


Who is this Bush impersonator? He's terrific!

Tthe best impersonator of President Bush that I have seen. A really funny piece. Not sure who the comedian is--Bill Combs maybe? Anyone know?



New Spec Ops unit...MARINES...

From Associated Press via Sacramento Bee:

Marines join special-operations community
By ESTES THOMPSON, Associated Press Writer
Last Updated 1:02 pm PST Friday, February 24, 2006

CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. (AP) - The Marine Corps formally entered the world of military special operations Friday by establishing a separate command devoted to small-unit tactics and stealthy reconnaissance.

It's work they've done as far back as World War II, but never before as part of the U.S. Special Operations Command. The change means battalions of Marines will be focused on special ops work just as Navy SEALs and Army Green Berets and Rangers are.

Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld made the change official after arriving at Camp Lejeune aboard an Osprey tiltrotor aircraft. He said special ops Marines will help "seek new and innovative ways to take the fight to the enemy."

Demand for highly trained special operations forces has increased as the U.S. war against terrorists continues.

"We face a ruthless enemy that lurks in shadows," Rumsfeld said. "It has become vital the Department of Defense and armed forces arrange ourselves in new and unconventional ways to succeed in meeting the peril of our age."

The Marines plan to establish their first special operations command in May and have it fully staffed with about 2,500 troops by 2010. The command will recruit corporals, sergeants and officers with reconnaissance experience and language training.

As part of the change, the Marine anti-terrorism brigade headquartered at Lejeune will go out of business and shift some of its troops to the special operations command. The command will have combat battalions on both U.S. coasts, along with support units and schools to teach special operations skills to U.S. and foreign troops.

Units to train foreign military officers will deploy within months, Marine Commandant Gen. Michael Hagee said. A special operations company will deploy with an expeditionary unit aboard ships by the end of the year, other military officials said.

The Tampa, Fla.-based U.S. Special Operations Command will control the Marines' special forces.

Special operations will give the Marines "a role they otherwise would not be able to get, to do counterterrorism," said military analyst John Pike of Washington-based Globalsecurity.org.

"The struggle against evil doers is a growth industry and the Marines want a piece of that," Pike said. "The special operations community is getting a lot larger and they need more people."


BushCo's secrecy backfires re. ports...

From the Washington Post:

Lesson on the Perils of Secrecy
By E. J. Dionne Jr.
Friday, February 24, 2006; Page A15

Americans owe a debt to Dubai Ports World for the storm the company has created with its pending takeover of operations at six U.S. seaports. Let us count the hypocrisies and the inconsistencies, the blind spots and the oversights that this controversy has revealed.
Until this fight broke out about a week ago, it was impossible to get anyone but the experts to pay attention to the huge holes in the security of our ports. Suddenly, everyone cares.

Most Americans had no idea that our government's process of approving foreign takeovers of American companies through the Committee on Foreign Investments in the United States was entirely secret. When Rep. John Sweeney (R-N.Y.) asked Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff about the Dubai Ports deal at a hearing on Feb. 15, Chertoff declined to answer because the committee's work was "classified." Treasury Secretary John Snow told another congressional committee that he was not permitted to discuss specific transactions considered by the foreign investment panel.

Why shouldn't the public have a right to know about the deliberations of this interagency committee? Hasn't the secrecy surrounding this decision aggravated the uproar it has caused?
Republicans and conservatives would be aghast at the idea of our government owning a company that operated so many of our ports. That would be -- just imagine! -- socialism. But Dubai Ports World is, well, a socialist operation, a state-owned company in the United Arab Emirates. Why is it bad for the federal government to own our port operations, but okay for a foreign government?

And how many of us knew before this week that foreign companies -- from China, Japan, Taiwan, Singapore and Denmark -- were major operators in 15 American ports? This may be just fine the way the world works these days. But we've never really talked about it, have we?
President Bush was his tough, swaggering self on Tuesday when he threatened to veto any bill that would scuttle the port company takeover. "They ought to look at the facts and understand the consequences of what they're going to do," Bush said.

But 24 hours later, as opposition to the deal built, White House spokesman Scott McClellan -- boy, I don't envy him his job these days -- said a president whose main calling card is his devotion to keeping our nation secure hadn't paid any attention to this issue until the past "several days." In other words, a subject Bush displayed such passion about the day before was also a subject he had just learned about. Does this happen often?

It was helpful to see an administration that often treats Congress as a mere nuisance finally concede that Bush should have taken legislators more seriously. "We probably should have briefed members of Congress sooner, " McClellan said. That McClellan was forced to speak those words is something of a miracle.

Are some opponents of this deal motivated by xenophobia? Of course, and xenophobia is both wrong and dangerous. But it's also wrong to dismiss every Democrat and every Republican who has raised questions about this deal -- i.e., most members of both parties -- as either a bigot or an opportunist.

On the contrary, a process carried out in such secrecy and with so little accountability deserves to be the subject of controversy. It is not irrational for legislators and governors to ask questions about what this deal means to security at six of our most important ports. What's irrational is that the administration failed to anticipate how many questions this deal would provoke.

What needs to happen now is obvious. The high-powered lobbyists working for Dubai Ports World should persuade the company to offer a postponement of the takeover. Everything about the process through which this deal was approved should then be made public. If the administration claims that revealing certain details would hurt national security, it should be required to brief Congress, including the strongest opponents of the deal, on those aspects of the deliberations.

Then, let's have a full-scale debate not only about this deal but about the larger flaws in our system of port security. That's the way to show the world that Americans take this issue seriously and are not engaged in an episode of Arab-bashing.

Yesterday, Bush insisted that the deal would leave our ports safe. "People don't need to worry about security," he said. But many people in both parties are worried because they no longer take the administration's claims at face value. That, too, is progress.


NY & NJ Ports angry, uses 10th Amendment...

From the NY Times:

February 24, 2006
Port Agency to Break Lease in Bid to Block Dubai Sale

The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey will break the lease of a big container terminal at Port Newark to stop a company based in Dubai from taking over part of the operation there, the agency's chairman said yesterday.

Anthony R. Coscia, the chairman, said the company that holds a lease on the terminal through 2030 violated the contract by selling a half-interest in it to Dubai Ports World without seeking the landlord's approval. He said the Port Authority would ask a judge in New Jersey Superior Court in Newark today to affirm its right to end the lease.

"Fundamentally, this is a landlord-tenant dispute," said Mr. Coscia, who is a lawyer. "We're terminating their lease because they sublet illegally."

Separately, the State of New Jersey sued the federal government in United States District Court in Trenton yesterday afternoon to block the Dubai deal. The lawsuit said Bush administration officials failed to fulfill their duty to fully investigate the national security implications of the transaction.

The Dubai company has agreed to pay $6.8 billion to buy Peninsular & Oriental Steam Navigation, a port operator based in London. One of the subsidiaries it would acquire, P & O Ports North America, owns half of the company that operates the Port Newark Container Terminal.

Andrew Rice, a spokesman for P & O and Dubai Ports World, said neither company would comment on the litigation.

Last night, Dubai Ports World said it would "not exercise control" over its new operations in the United States while the White House tried to calm opposition in Congress.

New Jersey's suit argues that the federal Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, which approved the deal last month, has not provided Gov. Jon S. Corzine with the information he needs to protect the state's residents. By withholding it, the suit argues, the committee is interfering with the sovereign rights of the state provided by the 10th Amendment to the Constitution.

The suit asks the court to order the committee to conduct a full investigation of the Dubai Ports World and to share information they gather with New Jersey's Office of Counterterrorism. As defendants, the suit names the heads of the federal agencies that make up the committee, including John W. Snow, the treasury secretary, Condoleezza Rice, the secretary of state, and Donald H. Rumsfeld, the secretary of defense.

"Our federal suit is really about information," Mr. Corzine said, at a ceremony to swear in Zulima V. Farber as attorney general. But he went on to criticize the decision to approve the deal quickly.

"This is very poorly executed foreign policy," Mr. Corzine said. "This should have been reviewed at the highest levels."

The suits were the first by public agencies in the growing controversy over the sale to Dubai, though Mr. Coscia said other port officials were considering taking similar action.

Like Mr. Corzine, Port Authority officials have been frustrated at their inability to obtain information from the Treasury Department about the committee's review. But the Port Authority's only power to slow or block Dubai Ports World from arriving as a tenant rests in the lease.

There was no pending dispute with the operators of the container terminal before the Dubai deal surfaced. But, Mr. Coscia said, the lease states that a tenant must get the agency's approval of a transfer of ownership interest.

"Our approval wasn't sought, so we haven't provided it," he said.

One complication of the dispute is that another port operator, A. P. Moller-Maersk, is caught in the crossfire. Maersk, a Danish company, planned to maintain its half-interest in the terminal but could soon be without a lease to operate at the port.

The Port Authority's message to Maersk, Mr. Coscia said, was, "We're sorry you're in the middle of this, but you're in the middle of this."

A spokeswoman for Maersk in New Jersey declined to comment.

David W. Chen contributed reporting from Trenton for this article.

Copyright 2006The New York Times Company


Citizens say NO! Okay..change the name...

From the Christian Science Monitor:

posted February 24, 2006 at 11:00 a.m.
Report: NSA continues controversial data-mining program
Total Information Awareness projects, shut down by Congress in 2003, funded under different plan.
By Tom Regan

In 2003, Congress voted to shut down a controversial program called Total Information Awareness (TIA). The project, which would have linked major information databases together in order to "hunt for terrorists," was shut down primarily because of privacy concerns, but also because its main advocate was Adm. John Poindexter, known for his involvement with the Iran-Contra scandal of the 1980s. Wired.com reported at the time that US senators from both parties, saying "they feared government snooping against ordinary Americans," voted to block funding for TIA.

It now appears, however, that the controversial program, which was first brought to the public's attention in 2002, is continuing. The National Journal reported Thursday that TIA "was stopped in name only" and has been continued within the National Security Agency (NSA), the intelligence agency now fending off charges that it has violated the privacy of US citizens in the domestic wiretapping scandal.

Research under the Defense Department's Total Information Awareness program – which developed technologies to predict terrorist attacks by mining government databases and the personal records of people in the United States – was moved from the Pentagon's research-and-development agency to another group, which builds technologies primarily for the National Security Agency, according to documents obtained by National Journal and to intelligence sources familiar with the move. The names of key projects were changed, apparently to conceal their identities, but their funding remained intact, often under the same contracts.

The National Journal reports that the Pentagon transferred two of the most important TIA components of TIA to Advanced Research and Development Activity (ARDA), located at NSA headquarters in Fort Meade, Md. One piece was the Information Awareness Prototype System. It helped extract, analyze and disseminate data collected under the project. Once the Senate cut off funding, ARDA stepped forward to fund the program and it was given a new name "Basketball." All references to TIA were dropped.

The other key component of the original plan was known as Genoa II, "which focused on building information technologies to help analysts and policy makers anticipate and pre-empt terrorist attacks." It was renamed "Topsail." While Topsail was active as late as October of 2005, intelligence sources indicate that its funding, also from ARDA, may be in question.
This is not the first time the story of continued funding for TIA programs has surfaced. The Associated Press first reported two years ago to the day that the government is still financing research to create powerful tools that could mine millions of public and private records for information about terrorists despite an uproar last year over fears it might ensnare innocent Americans."

"The whole congressional action looks like a shell game," said Steve Aftergood of the Federation of American Scientists, which tracks work by US intelligence agencies. "There may be enough of a difference for them to claim TIA was terminated while for all practical purposes the identical work is continuing."

The issue resurfaced again earlier this month when, during a hearing of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Sen. Ron Hayden (D) of Oregon, one of the chief critics of TIA, asked John Negroponte, the head of Domestic Security, Robert Mueller, head of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and Gen. Michael Hayden, the former head of the NSA, if "Poindexter’s programs are going on somewhere else?"

While Mr. Negroponte and Mr. Mueller said they did not know the answer to the question, Gen. Hayden said he would only answer the question in closed session.

In early February, the Christian Science Monitor reported on the government's plan for a massive data sweep that "could troll news, blogs, even e-mails." The program that would do this is called "ADVISE," Analysis, Dissemination, Visualization, Insight, and Semantic Enhancement.
ADVISE "looks very much like TIA," [Lee Tien, a staff attorney with the Electronic Frontier Foundation] writes in an e-mail. "There's the same emphasis on broad collection and pattern analysis."

But [Peter Sand, director of privacy technology], the DHS official, emphasizes that privacy protection would be built-in. "Before a system leaves the department there's been a privacy review.... That's our focus."

Paul Craig Roberts, former Assistant Secretary of the Treasury in the Reagan administration, former Associate Editor of the Wall Street Journal editorial page and one-time Contributing Editor of National Review, writes in the liberal website Counterpunch that the repeated assaults on America's freedoms under the guise of "fighting terrorism" mean that "Americans have forgotten what it takes to remain free. Instead, every ideology, every group is determined to use government to advance its agenda. As the government's power grows, the people are eclipsed."

Americans need to understand that many interests are using the "war on terror" to achieve their agendas.

The Federalist Society is using the "war on terror" to achieve its agenda of concentrating power in the executive and packing the Supreme Court to this effect.

The neocons are using the war to achieve their agenda of Israeli hegemony in the Middle East.

Police agencies are using the war to remove constraints on their powers and to make themselves less accountable.

Republicans are using the war to achieve one-party rule--theirs.

The Bush administration is using the war to avoid accountability and evade constraints on executive powers.

Arms industries, or what President Eisenhower called the "military-industrial complex," are using the war to fatten profits.

Terrorism experts are using the war to gain visibility.

Security firms are using it to gain customers.

Readers can add to this list at will. The lack of debate gives carte blanche to these agendas.

Finally, the National Journal also reports that ARDA is being taken out of the NSA and placed under the control of Negroponte. It will renamed "Disruptive Technologies Office," a reference to a term of art describing any new invention that suddenly, and often dramatically, replaces established procedures."