Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Making $$$$ with DOD...

From Information Clearing House:

151 Congressmen Profit From War:

More than a quarter of senators and congressmen have invested at least $196 million of their own money in companies doing business with the Department of Defense (DoD) that profit from the death and destruction in Iraq.

[Use link above to continue reading]


On the way...a few good books....

From Publishers Lunch Weekly:


Editor of The Chattahoochee Review Marc Fitten's debut VALERIA'S LAST STAND, a modern-day fable featuring a terminally cranky old spinster who finds equal fault with the new, the old, the foreign and the familiar in her backwater Hungarian village, but suddenly falls in love with the long-known but little-noticed village potter, and with this one deviation from character, the delicately woven fabric of village life begins to unravel, to Colin Dickerman at Bloomsbury and Alexandra Pringle at Bloomsbury UK, in a pre-empt, for publication in Spring 2009, by Bill Clegg at the William Morris Agency (world English).

German rights to DTV, in a pre-empt.


Author of debut (and UK bestseller) The Kommandant's Girl and the forthcoming sequel, Pam Jenoff's FOREVER ENGLAND, the first of two novels of international intrigue, romance, and suspense, drawing on her experiences working for the State Department and studying at Cambridge, about an intelligence official who returns to England on assignment and finds herself unexpectedly embroiled in discovering the mysterious circumstances surrounding the death of her college boyfriend there ten years earlier, to Emily Bestler at Atria, by Scott Hoffman at Folio Literary Management.


Dennis Cooper's UGLY MAN, the author's first collection of short fiction, to Michael Signorelli at Harper Perennial, in a very nice deal, in a three-book deal, for publication in Summer 2009, by Ira Silverberg at Sterling Lord Literistic (US).


"Hannah Montana" star Miley Cyrus's book about growing up in Tennessee and then Los Angeles, and her parents' role in her success, to Jonathan Yaged for Hyperion Children's, for publication in spring 2009 to tie-in with her movie.

Daily News columnist Mike Lupica's two YA novels in his sports series, to Michael Green at Philomel, for publication in 2009 and 2010, by Esther Newberg at ICM.

NYU creative writing MFA student Lauren Oliver's YA debut, IF I SHOULD FALL, about a girl who relives the day of her death seven times until she discovers that the life she needed to save was not her own, to Brenda Bowen at Bowen Press/Harper, in a pre-empt, for two books, by Stephen Barbara at the Donald Maass Literary Agency (NA).


Roy Morris, Jr.'s LIGHTING OUT FOR THE TERRITORY, a narrative of the five years (1861-1866) that Samuel Clemens (aka Mark Twain) spent out West as a Confederate guerrilla, silver miner, newspaper reporter, and travel writer during the Civil War, a crucial period of his life when he found his voice as a writer and became, literally, Mark Twain, to Roger Labrie at Simon & Schuster, by Georges Borchardt at Georges Borchardt (World English).


Kim Eisler's book about the high-powered law firm Williams & Connolly that will describe how after the death of Edward Bennett Williams, a cadre of proteges, Brendan Sullivan, David Kendall, Gregory Craig, Larry Lucchino, and Pfizer CEO Jeff Kindler, saved what was thought to be a firm dominated by one legendary lawyer and expanded his legacy in death to become more influential in American life than any law firm, to Thomas Dunne at Thomas Dunne Books, by Jane Dystel at Dystel & Goderich Literary Management (NA).


Monstering: Inside America's Policy of Secret Interrogations and Torture in the Terror War author Tara McKelvey's ONLY THE DEAD COME HOME, about the deeply scarred generation of US service members returning from the war in Iraq and the degree to which the government is neglecting their care here at home, to Paul Golob at Times Books, by Gail Ross of the Gail Ross Literary Agency.


Creator and executive producer of the CSI television franchise Anthony Zuiker's MR. CSI, covering the story of his gangster father (who suicided recently), and his journey from Vegas bellhop -- where he learned how to do absolutely anything that his guests needed, no matter how bizarre the request -- to a multi-millionaire Hollywood mogul, including the decisions he made and the lessons learned on his rise, to Bruce Nichols at Collins, for publication in fall 2009, by Dan Strone at Trident Media Group.

NYT bestselling author Rita Mae Brown's PURE GOLD, a memoir about the remarkable animals who have loved, endured and taught her over the years; and two untitled novels in a new series about an investment banker with high self-regard who inherits her aunt's farm and discovers (the hard way) that the qualities that made her successful in her business may not be useful in the country, to Judy Sternlight at Ballantine, by Wendy Weil at the Wendy Weil Agency (NA).


Sports agent David Falk's THE BALD TRUTH, an inside look at business at its highest level and the lessons to be learned from its champions, both on and off the court, from the agent whose clients have included Michael Jordan and Patrick Ewing, to Anthony Ziccardi at Pocket, for publication in February 2009 (world).


It's SECRET! Forget the Rule of Law....

From Secrecy News:


Secret law that governs the conduct of government activities but is
inaccessible to the public is "a particularly sinister" phenomenon that
is "increasingly prevalent," said Senator Russ Feingold today at a
hearing of the Senate Judiciary Committee Subcommittee on the

The hearing produced a particularly rich record on the subject of
secret law from a broad and diverse set of perspectives (including one
view that "there is no such thing" as secret law).

In my own testimony, I provided a catalog of the many current forms of
"secret law" and some of their objectionable consequences.

"If the rule of law is to prevail, the requirements of the law must be
clear and discoverable," I suggested. "Secret law excludes the public
from the deliberative process, promotes arbitrary and deviant
government behavior, and shields official malefactors from

The classification of the Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) memorandum of
torture authored by John Yoo was "one of the worst abuses of the
classification process I have seen during my career," testified J.
William Leonard, the former director of the Information Security
Oversight Office.

More generally, "OLC has been terribly wrong to withhold the content of
much of its advice from Congress and the public," said Prof. Dawn E.
Johnsen, former head of the OLC, "particularly when advising the
executive branch that in essence it could act contrary to federal
statutory restraints."

Current OLC director John P. Elwood contended that current OLC
disclosure policy "is consistent with the approach of prior

Brad Berenson, a former associate counsel to the President, articulated
"legitimate interests in secrecy" and cautioned against disclosure
initiatives that could have unintended consequences.

Prof. Heidi Kitrosser explained the constitutional framework within
which secrecy disputes take place and urged more "effective
congressional oversight" to restrain abuses of secrecy.

Attorney David Rivkin, a frequent defender of Administration policies,
said that the "law of war" paradigm with all of its attendant secrecy
remains the appropriate one.

Sen. Sam Brownback expressed skepticism about new disclosure
requirements, while Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse probed the destabilizing
implications of the Administration view that executive orders can be
"waived" by the President without notice to Congress or the public.

The prepared statements from the Senate hearing are available here:

For all of the differences of opinion, there was also a provisional
consensus that the executive branch should be required to report to
Congress when it significantly interprets or reinterprets a statutory

Chairman Feingold announced that the Office of the Director of National
Intelligence had notified him that several long-sought opinions of the
Office of Legal Counsel concerning interrogation of enemy combatants
would be provided to the Senate Intelligence Committee and possibly, in
some form, to the Senate Judiciary Committee. Sen. Feingold said he
would continue to seek public disclosure of the opinions, a move that
is not currently contemplated by the Administration.


Superclass: These men rule the world...

From excerpt:

The iconic symbol of superclass unity is the Gulfstream private jet. In fact, one way to measure the clout of an event is to count the private jets at the nearest airport. According to Gulfstream, Davos traditionally attracts more of its planes than any other gathering, drawing up to 10 percent of the 1,500 planes in service to Zurich airport. But this year's Olympics in Beijing will give it a run for its money, as typically do events as diverse as the Monaco Grand Prix, China's Boao Forum, the Geneva Auto Show or Allen & Co.'s annual getaway for media magnates in Sun Valley, Idaho.
Globalization looks different when you can tell the pilot when to leave and where to go, and when there are no security lines to wait in when you are heading off for distant destinations. Those who are free to move about the planet this way come to have more in common with themselves than with their own countrymen. "What happened to us, that we walk through the Davos party and know more people than when we were walking across the village green in the town we live in?" wonders Mark Malloch-Brown, former Deputy Secretary General at the United Nations and now a senior official in the British Foreign Ministry. In fact, Davos is a village green for the superclass. It's at such a gathering that leaders get to know one another, hatch deals and exercise perhaps the greatest power the superclass has collectively: to shape conventional wisdom.

In these conclaves, priorities are not only for their own constituencies, but for entire regions and the world at large. Possibly the premier gathering in Latin America is the "Fathers and Sons" event held annually by the world's richest man, Mexican telecom magnate Carlos Slim, who presides over groups of Latin American corporate giants and their scions. The telecom billionaire pays for the entire event himself and orchestrates the schedule, which according to recent participants is "quite work intensive" but includes some time for tennis, golf, even, on one occasion and despite the absence of women, dancing among the fathers and sons when the music went on at the end of the day. The Slim event illustrates the importance to the heirs of Latin America's traditional elite culture of connecting across borders, of forging international alliances within the subset of the global superclass with whom they have the most in common.

Thanks to this kind of social interaction, large portions of the global superclass are well acquainted with each other. Says Stephen Schwarzman, CEO of Wall Street's Blackstone Group, "The world is pretty small. In almost every one of the areas in which I am dealing or in which we at Blackstone are looking at deals, you find it is just 20, 30 or 50 people worldwide who drive the industry or the sector." Numbers tell the same tale. If you take just the people who serve in top management positions or on the boards of the five biggest companies in the world, you'll find they also serve on the boards of an additional 140 other major companies and 22 universities. To Schwarzman, being a member of the superclass means being able to "get to anybody in the world with one phone call."

These kinds of connections can work to stabilize the world in a crisis. But not necessarily. I once overheard a dinner conversation among the CEO of a leading aircraft manufacturer and a senior member of the U.S. House Armed Services Committee. "Here's the deal," said the CEO. "I want to sell a plane to Muammar Kaddafi and he wants to buy one. But we have sanctions in place that won't let me sell to him. The U.S. wants this guy dead. So, what I'm thinking is, if you help me get the OK to sell him the plane, I'll build with explosive bolts connecting the wings to the fuselage. Then, one day he's up flying over the Med and we push a button. He's gone. I make my sale. Everyone's happy." Fortunately, the conversation took place in the 1990s, a time before U.S. foreign-policy makers began bending international laws to achieve national security goals. The congressperson declined the offer.

[Use link above to read entire article]


Obama = gentleman. Clinton is no lady....

From Political Wire:

Clinton Accepts Offer of Lincoln-Douglas Debate

Sen. Hillary Clinton accepted a Montana newspaper publisher's "invitation to participate in a Lincoln-Douglas debate in Missoula, while her Democratic presidential rival Barack Obama's campaign said it was evaluating the offer," the Billings Gazette reports.

"Lincoln-Douglas debates don't have moderators and are considered to be more freewheeling. Each candidate gets an allotment of time, followed by the other candidate and then the first person goes again"

NOTE: Yeah, I'll bet she did since that's what she's been asking for. I can see it all now....Obama is a gentleman. In debates with Clinton, that fact has hurt him. In a Lincoln-Douglas style debate, with no moderator(s), Clinton is not going to pay a whole lot of attention to allotments of time. She will not stop talking when her time runs out. Obama will try to speak and she will simply raise her voice and continue. Obama is not going to yell or raise his voice to override hers...because he is a gentleman. She, unfortunately, is no lady. All of which leaves Obama in a very awkward position.


Perception Management = Propaganda....

From Free Press:

We're seeing the first cracks in the White House's scheme to spread pro-war propaganda via corporate media. One more push will break this story wide open.

Senator Boxer sits on an influential committee that could hold hearings and investigate whether this “selling of the war” violates federal law. It is crucial that your senator hears from you now.

Last week, the New York Times exposed a shady Pentagon program to embed up to 75 "propaganda pundits" on every major news network. These so-called experts went on the air to cover up bad news about Iraq with White House spin. Many of these pundits work for private military contractors as consultants, board members and lobbyists.

Since the story broke, nearly 25,000 Free Press activists have sent letters to Congress. Sens. John Kerry (D-Mass.) and Carl Levin (D-Mich.), and Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.) have already responded, calling for a full investigation.

We need your senator to take the next step by urging Congress to act:
By sending this letter to your senator, you're helping end years of media distortion by the White House targeted at the American public.

But the blame doesn't end with the Bush administration. Despite the Times' front-page treatment, nearly every mainstream news outlet has ignored this explosive story -- opting to sweep under the carpet a scandal that reaches deep into their own newsrooms. Fox News Channel has even continued to include the Penatagon's propaganda pundits on its newscasts.

The news blackout on the Pentagon propaganda highlights the failure of a consolidated media system.

The Pentagon propaganda wouldn't have spread far if not for the administration's cozy relationship with corporate media outlets like Fox, ABC, NBC, CBS and CNN. Their failure to properly question the case for war -- to counter the official version with dissenting views -- poses a fundamental threat to our democracy.

Spreading "covert propaganda" is illegal under U.S. law. Senator Boxer should now join colleagues on the Hill and investigate whether the Pentagon and corporate media crossed the line.

Big media and the Pentagon have a lot to answer for. It's time we learned the truth about war propaganda.

Thank you,
Josh SilverExecutive Director
Free Press Action Fund


Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Conrad on Peak Oil....

From Conrad via email:

While driving on Miramar Road looking for gas station, I saw an ARCO sign with all of the prices taken off. All the pumps were surrounded with yellow tape. Great, sold out. I cursed my luck, then pumped gas at a more expensive place.

After returning home, I surfed the web on the cause of high gas prices then stumbled upon the Peak Oil and possible terrifying implications.

In the 1950's, Dr. M. King Hubbert,a geologist who worked for Shell Oil and the U.S. Geological Survey, proposed Peak Oil. The rate of petroleum extraction from a oil field is like a bell shaped curve. At first, the oil is easy, and cheap to extract.This is the light sweet crude that reporters talk about in financial news shows. The rate of extraction rises dramatically. When about half the oil has been extracted from the field, the rate that oil can be extracted reaches a peak, then it declines dramatically. This post-peak oil is more expensive to extract. This bell curve also applies to countries, and the entire planet.

There was a time when the United States was a net exporter of oil, but those discoveries of new oil fields reach a peak in the 1930's. Hubbert predicted that oil production in the continental United States would reach a peak around 1965 to 1970. During the OPEC led oil embargo of the 1970's, many oil experts believed he was right. The discoveries of new oil fields world wide reached a peak in the 1960's. Hubbert predicted world wide oil production would also peak. The Association for the Study of Peak Oil (ASPO) believe that people have already extracted and consumed half the world's petroleum between 2004 and 2008.

Petroleum is the backbone of our Industrial Age civilization. We turn it into gasoline, fertilizer, pesticides, and plastics. It fuels our cars, it fuels our GDP, our infinite desires. The United States and Europe have consumed this finite resource at an increasing rate. The people of India and China seem to desire the life that Americans are living. However, for the past several years, the world production of petroleum has not increased. Some of those who believe in Peak Oil say that soon the production will soon dramatically decline, oil prices will sky rocket, leading international shortages and high inflation, leading into a new Great Depression, leading into either a new Dark Age or World War Three.

I believe that even though we may have reached Peak Oil, it does not signify the end of Industrial Age civilization. One of the mitigating factors is reserve growth, the increase of production in already discovered and developed oil fields. The Kern River field in California was originally estimated to have 54 million barrels in 1942. After 44 years of pumping, the field produced 736 million barrels of oil and 970 million barrels are left to extract. Improved technology was able to more efficiently extract that could not be economically extracted earlier.

Here is an article from Reason magazine that provides a critique of Peak Oil:

There are many other sources of energy besides petroleum. Our civilization can still use coal, natural gas, and tar shales. However, because those are finite resources, those resources have a similar production rate of Hubbert's Curve. Wind energy is renewable, and cost about the same as coal, about 4 cents per kilowatt hour. There is technology on the horizon to turn algae into biodiesel.

People can conserve energy. After the OPEC embargo, the United States reduced petroleum consumption for a time. A company in Germany will sell a diesel car that get 157 miles per gallon. It is priced about 11,000 Euros.

A Norwegian company is selling an electric car with a 110 mile range that will cost about $25,000.

With the rising popularity of hybrid cars, perhaps the financially struggling Detroit automobile companies could realize it may be a good idea to build more ecologically friendly cars or face what Schumpeter call "creative destruction."

There are organizations that are creating cost-effective, energy conserving cars, buildings, manufacturing processes as the price of oil increases like the Rocky Mountain Institute.

Of course, I could be completely wrong, and we are all doomed. If you want to see what that doom could mean, check out World Without Oil, an online Alternate Reality Game to simulated what would happen for the first 32 weeks after Peak Oil and how people would struggle to survive in an energy crisis that would never end.

I welcome comments.


PM at work....again....

From Information Clearing House:

The Iraq War Morphs Into The Iranian War

By Paul Craig Roberts

It is 1939 all over again. The world waits helplessly for the next act of naked aggression by rogue states. Only this time the rogue states are not the Third Reich and Fascist Italy. They are the United States and Israel.

[Use link above to continue reading]


Cheney: Forget Congress..& Who is that band?...

From American Progress:

Think Fast...

Yesterday, House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers (D-MI) threatened to subpoena Vice President Cheney's chief of staff David Addington and former Justice Department officials John Ashcroft and John Yoo, all of whom have refused to testify at a hearing on interrogation policies.

Veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan come home to find that the GI Bill is "quite different from the comprehensive benefits that once covered all the costs of an education" after World War II. Veterans' advocates say "[t]he current GI benefit covers just half the national average cost for tuition, room and board” and "falls dramatically short."

Col. Morris Davis, the former chief prosecutor at Guantanamo Bay, took the witness stand for accused terrorist Salim Ahmen Hamdan to "declare under oath that he felt undue pressure to hurry cases along so that the Bush administration could claim before political elections that the system was working." Davis also said former Guantanamo inmate David Hicks should never have been charged.

While some people marry for love, companionship, or even status, a poll released today finds a new reason: health insurance. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation survey, 7 percent of Americans say that "they or someone in their household decided to marry in the last year so they could get healthcare benefits via their spouse."

"Home foreclosure filings jumped 23 percent in the first quarter...and more than doubled from a year a earlier," according to new RealtyTrac data. "One of every 194 households received a notice of default, auction sale or bank repossession between January and March, for the seventh straight quarter of rising foreclosure activity."

A UNICEF report says the world's poorest children are the most vulnerable to global warming. "The report said climate change could add 40,000-160,000 extra child deaths a year in Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa through lower economic growth" and that "if temperatures rose by two degrees...up to 200 million people globally would face hunger."

In remarks in Kansas City, Colin Powell said that "the military was being stretched and a lot was being asked of the all-volunteer force at a time when the entire country isn't committed to war," the AP reports. "I think it would be hard to respond to another crisis if it was like these two," Powell said.

CIA Director Michael Hayden said yesterday that the "suspected Syrian reactor bombed by Israel had the capacity to produce enough nuclear material to fuel one to two weapons a year." "The plutonium reactor was within weeks or months of completion when it was destroyed in an air strike last Sept. 6." After one year of operation "it could have produced enough material for at least one weapon."

And finally: Some lawmakers just aren’t up on the latest celebrity gossip. At the White House Correspondents Association dinner on Saturday, Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) was shocked at all the screaming fans, thinking they were there to greet politicians. "I thought, 'Wow, those are some serious political junkies,'" she said. She soon realized that the fans were there to greet the Jonas Brothers, not the lawmakers. "I don’t even know who they are," Klobuchar marveled.


Alternate currency...Their dollars, not ours....

From Conrad via email:

The follwing article focuses the locally made money that is circulating in Berkshire Hills, MA and Ithaca, NY. However, these are just two places that use a local money system, and if a researcher did some digging around probably many more can be found. One motive to use alternate currencies because of civic pride. Another motive is to have some insurance against the negative effects of a Peak Oil world.

[Use link above to continue reading]


VP Cheney, the untouchable....

From The Guardian UK via

Cheney Lawyer Claims Congress Has No Authority Over Vice President

Elana Schor, of The Guardian UK, writes: "The lawyer for US vice-president Dick Cheney claimed today that the Congress lacks any authority to examine his behaviour on the job.

The exception claimed by Cheney's counsel came in response to requests from congressional Democrats that David Addington, the vice-president's chief of staff, testify about his involvement in the approval of interrogation tactics used at Guantanamo Bay."

[Use link above to continue reading]


Don't trust your own eyes...Baldacci's must read book....

Most everybody knows what "PR" means. Public Relations. Most people haven't heard of PR's counterpart: "PM".

However most people watched PM in action in the run-up to Bush/Cheney's unilateral attack on Iraq and believed what they heard and saw to be the truth.

Right now, the Pentagon and the Administration have PM programs. And they work very well. Consider the latest news about the former Military Generals...the so-called experts...analyzing on the evening news. PM in action.

"PM" stands for Perception Management. That tell you anything? How about the PM now going on when it comes to Iran?

"It's easy to start wars," says one of Baldacci's characters. And so it is. the reader learns in this incredibly well put together international thriller. Just consider Iraq again and Saddam's non-existant Weapons of Mass Destruction. PM is WMD in a different form.

Once again, if one wishes to know what's really the base cause, just follow the money.

Every writer knows that it is easier to tell more truths in fiction than in non-fiction. David Baldacci does just that. As you read, keep in mind Cheney, Halliburton, Bush and the oil corporations for starters.



If it bleeds, it leads...Rev Wright, et al......

From Buzzflash:

Published on (
Barack Obama, Rev. Wright, and Racism, America Responds: We’re Not Done With You Yet
By mark karlin
Created 04/29/2008 - 6:34am
by Mark KarlinEditor and Publisher
April 29, 2008

Nothing more profoundly and disturbingly symbolizes America's subtle racist double standard than George Stephanopoulos's question during the Philadelphia debate to Barack Obama: "Do you think Reverend Wright loves America as much as you do?"

We have all these right wing "God is destroying America because it has sinned" preachers running around with barely a question asked of the Republicans they back. Yes, Hagee, Robertson, the late Jerry Falwell, and countless other religious leaders of the fundamentalist cloth have delivered countless white versions of "God Damns America" statements. The only difference is that they don't "say it black" in black churches, and then see it looped endlessly around on FOX TV and other cable networks, not to say rerun again and again on talk radio.

The point that appears to be forgotten here is that Rev. Wright is not running for president. Barack Obama is.

As Wright takes a valedictory tour to take advantage of a national platform that has been offered to him by a media tinderbox filled with the kindling wood of race, the question remains as to why this is still front page news. Whether Wright is preaching the gospel and indignation to a media that can't get enough of this sidebar story because race sells only second to sex as far as spiking up ratings -- or whether he is just on an ego trip -- the point to ask is why this is a front page story at all.

The Washington Post, the New York Times, and most of the mainstream media have buried the lies, broken laws, torture, Iraq War malfeasance, incompetence, cronyism, etc., of the Bush Administration for the most part in the back pages of the newspapers (if printed at all) -- and generally kept it off of television news altogether; but it can't get enough of whether the former minister of a presidential candidate -- who served his nation in the Marines by the way -- "loves America."

Is this a joke?

No it's the "Made in America" racial double standard at work.

It's as racist as "nailing" Barack Obama for not wearing a flag pin, even though George and Charlie and Hillary weren't wearing flag pins at the Philadelphia debate -- and McCain is not asked why he frequently doesn't wear one. The double standard on the flag pin is so glaring that most Americans can't see it in front of their own eyes; one need only look at the television screen to see that Barack Obama is not the only candidate or television moderator not wearing the Bush Administration symbol of patriotism reduced to the size of a miniature piece of tin.

Yes, it's the old "black people have to prove themselves more than white people" thing rising to a full fever pitch. It's the media and America answering Barack Obama's challenge to confront our racist past during his dazzling speech in Philadelphia.

Unfortunately, the response by the media, other politicians in the race, and commentators has been, "not so fast, Barack -- we aren't finished with the racial double standard just yet."

We wish Rev. Wright a pleasant retirement, but we really don't know what his relevance is to the severe crises facing America. No white candidate, including Bush and McCain, has been so hammered about such an irrelevancy, considering the kooky religious figures that they have backing them.

That kind of scrutiny we reserve for a black man.

In case anyone needs to be reminded about the history of racial injustice in America, we encourage you to most appropriately watch and listen to the incomparable Nina Simone singing, "Mississippi Goddam." [1]

It's been the goal of the Clinton campaign to prove that Obama can't transcend the reality of his being a black man in a nation that is still looking for a "Great White Hope."

The re-emergence of Rev. Wright as a national news story when we have Bush and Cheney preparing to possibly bomb Iran and Senator Clinton threatening to "obliterate" the same nation, not to mention a three trillion dollar debt, the destruction of our environment, the loss of jobs to overseas slave-labor nations, and the nearing of a tipping point in our dependency on oil -- well all this re-emphasizes that Clinton may be right: we are still stuck in the gutter of our baser instincts and anyone who wants to appeal to our better selves is in for a rude awakening.



Monday, April 28, 2008

Cheney wants to use nukes....

From Information Clearing House:

Black Hole in Bush's Brain

By Peter Chamberlin

The Cheney wing of the co-presidency continues to pursue every possible avenue for expanding the failed war into a regional conflagration, which could only be settled with nuclear weapons.

[Use link above to continue reading]


From 251 IEDs to Bush humor....

From American Progress:

Think Fast...

U.S. and Iraqi security forces in Baghdad "have been targeted with 251 improvised bombs this month -- nearly double the monthly average -- as fighting in and around Sadr City intensified." U.S. Army Brig. Gen. Mike Milano said "[s]ome of the attacks involved deadly armor-piercing bombs that the U.S. military has linked to Iran."

In a letter issued Friday to Time Warner Chief Executive Officer Jeffrey Bewkes, Congressional Hispanic Caucus chairmen Rep. Joe Baca (D-CA) and Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ) contended that CNN "is skewed in favor of anti-immigration efforts." Many of CNN’s news programs have adopted "the language Lou Dobbs uses," Menendez said, referring to Dobbs' heavy anti-illegal immigration rhetoric.

Across the country, "lawyers who represent suspects in terrorism-related investigations complain that their ability to do their jobs is being hindered by the suspicion that the government is listening in, using the eavesdropping authority it obtained -- or granted itself -- after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks." The Justice Department "does not deny" that such monitoring has taken place.

With Americans facing record levels of credit card debt, "financial institutions have sharply raised rates for credit card customers -- even those who pay on time -- as they grapple with losses from other bad consumer loans." Banks are also imposing higher fees for late payments and ATM withdrawals to boost profits.

"As the Federal Reserve completes work on rules to root out abuses” by mortgage lenders, the mortgage industry "has begun an intensive campaign to fight back." "[T]he industry’s criticism has already prompted the Fed to consider narrowing the scope of the plan so it applies to fewer loans."

Afghan President Hamid Karzai "escaped unhurt" yesterday from an assassination attempt by suspected Taliban insurgents at the Afghan national day military parade in central Kabul. "The ability of the attackers to get so close" to Karzai has turned the failed assassination attempt "into a moment of national embarrassment" for the Afghan government.

Oil prices "hit an all-time high near $120 a barrel" today after a refinery strike closed a British pipeline system. At the same time, U.S. retail gas prices "also hit a record for the 13th straight time" with the average price of a gallon of regular unleaded costing $3.603, according to AAA. Gas prices are up four-tenths of a cent from yesterday.

And finally: At his final White House correspondents' dinner on Saturday, President Bush poked fun at his potential successors. Explaining why none had attended the dinner, Bush said Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) "probably wanted to distance himself from me," adding that "Hillary Clinton couldn’t get in because of sniper fire and Senator Obama’s at church."


Propaganda TV he went....

From :

Jeff Cohen
Military Propaganda Pushed Me off TV

Truthout contributor Jeff Cohen writes: "In the fall of 2002, week after week in debates televised on MSNBC, I argued vigorously against invading Iraq. I used every possible argument that might sway mainstream viewers - no real threat, cost, instability. But as the war neared, my debates were terminated."

[Use link above to continue reading]


Citizens need to know...nothing....

From Secrecy News:


Noteworthy new reports from the Congressional Research Service that have not been made readily available to the public include the following."

Africa Command: U.S. Strategic Interests and the Role of the U.S.Military in Africa," updated March 10, 2008:

"High Altitude Electromagnetic Pulse (HEMP) and High Power Microwave(HPM) Devices: Threat Assessments," updated March 26, 2008:

"Second FY2008 Supplemental Appropriations for Military Operations,International Affairs,
and Other Purposes," April 15, 2008:

Iraq: Regional Perspectives and U.S. Policy," updated April 4, 2008:

"Operation Iraqi Freedom: Strategies, Approaches, Results, and Issues for Congress,"
March 28, 2008:

"Major U.S. Arms Sales and Grants to Pakistan Since 2001" (fact sheet),updated April 23, 2008:

"Pakistan-U.S. Relations," updated March 27, 2008:

"Presidential Claims of Executive Privilege: History, Law, Practice andRecent
Developments," updated April 16, 2008:


Pretend it doesn't happen...


Ann Wright
Army Cover-Up of Rape and Murder?

Ann Wright reports for Truthout: "The Department of Defense statistics are alarming - one in three women who join the US military will be sexually assaulted or raped by men in the military.

The warnings to women should begin above the doors of the military recruiting stations, as that is where assaults on women in the military begin - before they are even recruited.

But, now, even more alarming, are deaths of women soldiers in Iraq and in the United States following rape."

[Use link above to continue reading]


It wasn't Bush...It was Bill Clinton...

From David Sirota via email:

Clinton Criticizing Closure of Indiana Factory That Clinton HelpedClose
By David Sirota
Credo Action, 4/28/08

In my upcoming book, The Uprising (due out 5/27)<
395634&adid=1BYG4T2ZJJAZXD5JM0YF one of the threads tying together the
disparate forms of populismon both the Right and Left is a sense of confused frustration
at a political system whose politicians employ disinformation andpropaganda to make
basic economic issues indecipherable. This has been no more obvious than on the issue
of trade and globalization in the presidential race - and Hillary Clinton's latest television
ad (which is also a standard part of her stump speech) shows exactly what I'm talking

Clinton is airing a television ad in Indiana, bemoaning the closure of a defense contractor Magnequench's manufacturing plant inValparaiso (she is also echoing this line in her
stump speeches). Looking at the camera, she tells us she's upset that the 200 jobs
that were sent to China, and that "now America's defense relies on Chinese spare parts."

And then comes the kicker: She tells viewers that "George Bush could have stopped it,
but he didn't."

Clinton is certainly right that it is a tragedy that 200 American jobs were killed in a
corporate deal that also exported sensitive military technology to China. But she forgets
to mention that it wasn't George Bush who was in the key position to stop it - it was Bill

Back in 1995, a Chinese consortium, which included two Chinese state-owned companies,
made a bid to take over Magnequench. Because the company makes key parts for
smart bombs, the takeover had to be approved by the Clinton administration's Committee
on Foreign Investments in the United States. Despite the national security and economic problems with selling off such critical manufacturing capacity to the Chinese - and despite
the knowledge that such a deal would likely end in a domestic mass layoff - the Clinton administration approved the deal.

This same deal - not surprisingly -paved the way for those 200 Indiana jobs and that
sensitive military technology to be shipped to China.The Clinton administration's move
was not surprising. This was an administration whose NAFTA and China PNTR record
more than proved it was intent on helping Big Money interests face as little resistance to international financial transactions as possible - consequences be damned.

But the move was very controversial, raising the ire of keyHillary Clinton surrogate Sen.
Evan Bayh (D-IN). As the Los Angeles Times reported in 2005, "Bayh was particularly disturbed by the committee's decision in 1995 to approve a Chinese consortium's
takeover of Magnequench Inc."

In 2006, Bayh specifically slammed the Clinton administration's approval of the deal to
the South Bend Tribune, saying "It's not smart to put ourselves in the position of
relying on the Chinese for a critical component of a vital weapon system, and yet that
is what the CFIUS process has allowed."

Unfortunately, as he has campaigned around Indiana with Hillary Clinton listening to
her decry the Magenquench fiasco, Bayh has suddenly gone silent on the matter.
Apparently, the power-worshiping pursuit of the vice presidency is enough to silence
a senator whose constituents were so brazenly sold out and who had previously feigned
outrage at the situation. Luckily, at least some Hoosiers have not forgotten.
Here's just one recent letter to the editor - this one from the MerrillvillePost-Tribune on 4/17/08:

Hillary Clinton must have been hoping we Hoosiers have short memories when she
to take Magnequench as her main talking point in Valparaiso. Apparently Evan Bayh
tell her the company was sold in 1995 to an investment group, Sextant, that included
two Chinese companies. Her husband was president at the time and allowed this to happen.

In 1995, Beijing San Huan New Material High-Tech Inc. and China National Non-Ferrous
Metals Import & Export Corp. partnered with an investment firm, the Sextant Group Inc.,
to acquire Magnequench. The sale required approval from the Committee on Foreign Investmentsin the U.S. That committee is chaired by the secretary of the treasury. It
was approved by the committee even though it was known that China National
Non-Ferrous Metals is run under the State Council, an arm of the Chinese government.
That same year, it was found by the U.S. International Trade Commission that the San
Huan New Materials was associated with the Chinese government and was engaged in
illegal practices that harmed domestic industry.

The Clinton White House had one more chance in 1999 to stop the move when the
Anderson, Ind., plant shut down and started shipping the equipment to China, but it
failed to act. Can we really trust a Clinton not to let our jobs and national security go
Ed Dixon, Valparaiso

Certainly, some will attempt to argue that Hillary Clinton is not Bill Clinton and therefore
she is perfectly justified in criticizing what happened in Valparaiso. But that strained
logic crashes into two walls of truth. First and foremost, Clinton has been citing her
experience as a top economic and national security adviser in the Clinton administration
as proof she's the most experienced candidate running. Either you take her at her world
and you believe her experience in the administration was very real and very serious,
or she's the most inexperienced person ever to make a major bid for president of the
United States.

I, for one, take her at her word about her experience- and that means it is perfectly
appropriate - nay, essential - to ask her to answer for major decisions like the Clinton administration's approval of a deal shipping sensitive military technology to the Chinese
and eliminating critical jobs in an economically hard-hit part of the heartland.

And let's not forget -Hillary Clinton was an outspoken supporter of the China PNTR deal
that helped smooth these kinds of deals for the long-haul.Then there's the issue of blame.
Even if you somehow don't think Clinton should have to answer for a major policy of the administration she brags about working in, it's hard to argue that she's being forthright
by airing an ad blaming the deal on George Bush - and not on Bill Clinton.

And that gets us back to the intense sense of outrage brewing all over the country. It is
an outrage inherent in Ed Dixon's letter to the editor - one that suggests more and more Americans know they are be treated like fools. Politicians like Clinton head to Indiana
airing ads pretending to care about economic havoc that they helped sow, denying their
own long record of advocating for NAFTA, then manufacture staged photo-ops so that the national press corps can snap pictures of them downing a shot of whiskey - as if that proves
their down-home credentials.

But more Americans have a sense that something is wrong - that these politicians are
lying to them in a desperate attempt at election-year pandering. It is this awakening and corresponding outrage that is now being channeled into a populist uprising on both the
Right and Left. And as my book will show, that populism is not just impacting the presidential election, but changing American politics before our eyes.


Sunday, April 27, 2008

Blackwater: A vocational training school?!!!

From San Diego Union-Tribune via Raw Story:

Blackwater permit faces challenge
Public not informed, San Diego officials say
By Tanya Mannes STAFF WRITER
April 26, 2008

OTAY MESA – San Diego officials will challenge Blackwater Worldwide's permit for an indoor military training facility in South County, saying the public didn't know about the plan.

“Residents deserve to know when a facility like this is approved – before it is approved,” San Diego City Council President Scott Peters said.

The North Carolina company received a permit in March for a training site in Otay Mesa, an industrial section of south San Diego, shortly after abandoning its controversial proposal to build a larger facility in Potrero in East County.

The city Development Services Department granted the permit without public hearings. The site was already permitted for a vocational school, and city staff members decided Blackwater's training of Navy personnel qualified. The facility will have a shooting range, a simulated Navy ship and classrooms.

Brian Bonfiglio, a Blackwater vice president, said the opposition seems to originate from anti-war sentiment, not animosity toward the facility itself.

Bonfiglio said the company has been conducting military training for five years at several facilities in San Diego County, including the American Shooting Center on Ruffin Road in Kearny Mesa.

“If they go after our range, they are getting ready to take on every other firearms business in the county,” he said. “They're asking something of us that they are not asking of any other business, and quite frankly it's inappropriate.”

Yesterday, Peters, San Diego Councilman Ben Hueso and Rep. Bob Filner, D-San Diego, held a rally in Otay Mesa to oppose the permit. They were joined by about 30 community activists.
Mary Ussery of Coronado wore a “Stop Blackwater” T-shirt. She said military activity belongs on military bases, not private property.

“Although it's not my backyard, it's close enough,” Ussery said. “It's still my country.”

Peters said Blackwater wasn't upfront about its plans to operate out of a 61,600-square-foot building owned by Los Angeles company Hometex in a business park on Siempre Viva Road, just south of Brown Field.

“They filed for a permit under the name of a subcontractor as a deliberate dodge to keep our city and community in the dark,” Peters said.

Bonfiglio said, “We went through the same process that any other business does.”

Blackwater's permit was obtained by Raven Development Group. Southwest Law Enforcement's name is on the design plan that the city reviewed. Bonfiglio said the company has never sought to hide its affiliation with those businesses.

Peters said his office has requested the city's permit documents. His staff is researching how to go about challenging the permit.

Blackwater officials in March abandoned the company's plans to build an 824-acre training center in Potrero, a rural community about 40 miles east of downtown San Diego.

Blackwater's plans there sparked intense opposition from critics who said the facility would bring noise and traffic to the quiet community. The company dropped its proposal after noise tests showed that the noise from gunfire exceeded county standards. Opponents also objected to the role of Blackwater's security guards in Iraq, citing a shooting in September that killed 17 Iraqi civilians.

The Otay Mesa facility will train up to 48 students at a time, compared with the Potrero proposal, which envisioned up to 300 students a day.

Tanya Mannes: (619) 498-6639;


Saturday, April 26, 2008

Scientists now know how to Build God.....

This preview has to be the most horrifying, terrifying picture of what scientists dealing with Artificial Intelligence are working on and planning for the future that I have ever had the misfortune of viewing.

Building Gods:

Yes. Building Gods...and they mean it. I have not yet watched the entire film. I can only bear to view a small segment at a time. The question is, how valuable is the human race in its present form? Not very, if they pull this off...and they can and will.


Friday, April 25, 2008

Blackwater does what? Has what?....

From The Potroist:

Tuesday, July 17, 2007


Blackwater facts: What makes the company different
The Virginian-Pilot
© July 25, 2006

Few businesses are like Blackwater. For instance, did you know ...

EXTORTION:Early this month a former employee was charged briefly with trying to extort $1 million and a new truck from Blackwater by threatening to reveal damaging information about the company to the media.

Laura Holdren-Nowacki, 35, who was fired in April from her job as manager of Blackwater’s vehicle fleet, pleaded not guilty to the extortion charge but later issued an apology in which she blamed her actions on an addiction to prescription painkillers.The extortion charge was dropped a week after it was filed, and Blackwater said it would help her get treatment.


Almost a year after two Blackwater employees were fired for “misappropriating firearms” at the Moyock compound, the case remains open and no charges have been filed.The federal bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives is handling the investigation. ATF spokesman Earl Woodham would offer no updates, saying only that the bureau does not comment on ongoing investigations.

Woodham reemphasized that Blackwater was not busted by the ATF, but called the bureau and asked for help.


Stands to reason that life insurance could be hard to come by for hired guns. But security contractors can buy a $100,000 term policy through the Uniformed Services Benefit Association, a nonprofit organization that specializes in insurance for military personnel.The policy pays off in the event of a combat death, but like regular life insurance, its rates are still based on the applicant’s age and tobacco use.

At Blackwater, the company covers up to $361 of its contractors’ first annual premium – the rate for a 49-year-old nonsmoking male.


Blackwater’s compound straddles Currituck and Camden countries. Only about 500 of its 7,000 acres have been developed so far.

Among its amenities:40 gun ranges: 8 have computerized or interactive target systems; one is 1,200 yards long, or 12 football fields

R.U. Ready High School:

police train at this 14,746 square-foot, multi-level mock school built after the Columbine shootings

Make-believe town: Half-a dozen or so plywood structures recreate urban-type terrain - an apartment building, church, warehouse. Backwater has plans to build a 30-acre city that can be reconfigured to mimic any urban area.

Ship trainers: two mock ships launch on a cable onto a 15-acre lake

Shoot houses: 2 live-fire, multi-level, steel houses with changable rooms

Breaching facility: features areas for learning how to cut through fences, torch ship hatches, blow down doors and defeat locks.

K-9Blackwater’s K-9 division trains dogs and handlers as well as supplies them. About two dozen dogs – mostly Malamutes and German Shepherds - occupy a run of chain-link kennels on the compound. The dogs are trained in explosives detection, tracking and personal protection. Controlled aggression is part of the training. If a bad guy gives up – and appears submissive – the dog simply barks. If he acts combative, the dog attacks.

CARSBetween the driving track, ramming pad and urban attack scenarios, Blackwater has a fleet of 200 to 300 vehicles. Bought at auction, the cars have a fairly set lifespan once they reach Moyock. First, they’re used in high-speed, hard-braking drills. When they start to wear out, they move on to the ramming pad. Next, the fluids are drained and the cars are used for target practice. Finally, they’re sold off to a scrap dealer.


Heaps of brass shell casings jingle underfoot on Blackwater’s compound, remants of the countless rounds fired there. To clean them up, the company says it allows local Boy Scout troops onto the compound, where they collect the shells, turn them in for recycling and keep the proceeds.


Virginia Beach police and sheriff’s deputies train exclusively at Blackwater, where the city pays the company $450,000 for the full-time use of a firing range. The city’s SWAT team travels to Moyock once a week.


Blackwater says before most contractors are hired, they must pass a criminal history check, a physical fitness test, a security clearance background check, a written psychological exam and an oral evaluation.


Clandestine clients abound at Blackwater, but some leave mementoes of their visits. Two wall-sized bulletin boards in the compound mess hall overflow with uniform patches tacked up as souveniers. They belong to cops, federal agents, servicemen, merchant marines, game wardens, forest rangers and security guards. They came from across the country and the globe, including Switzerland, Italy, Chile and Canada.


Coalition forces in Iraq are largely American, but contractor ranks are truely international. An unofficial online list of contractor casualties in Iraq includes men from Fiji, South Africa, Britain, Turkey, Bulgaria, South Korea, Honduras, Nepal, India, Canada, Portugal, Poland, Russia, Australia, Italy, Denmark and more. Find the list at


Blackwater has lost one K-9 overseas. Ringo the dog was killed in February. Company spokesman Andrew Howell said Ringo sniffed out an IED, and died in the subsequent explosion.


According to Blackwater, its founder Erik Prince has traveled to Iraq eight times.


Presidential Airways Inc., Blackwater’s aviation affiliate, has a fleet of 25 airplanes and helicopters. Most of the planes are Casa 212s, a wide-bodied, rear-loading aircraft capble of landing on short, primitive runways

Posted by Janet Warren at 11:37 PM


States in recession & Cold it colder?...

From American Progress:

Think Fast...

A new survey by the National Conference of State Legislatures finds that the "finances of many states have deteriorated so badly that they appear to be in a recession, regardless of whether that's true for the nation as a whole."

The Washington Post's Dana Milbank notes that during "a book-launch event last night," Iraq war architect Douglas Feith "pointed his finger every which way but inward" in blaming others for the Iraq war's failures. Milbank added, "It must have been very difficult being Doug Feith: correct all the time, and surrounded by idiots."

A new report from Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction Stuart Bowen says "Iraq's military and police forces need years of improvements before they have enough recruits, officers and support systems to secure the country."

"Iraq's largest Sunni bloc has agreed to return to Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki's cabinet after a boycott of nearly a year" citing "a recently passed amnesty law and the government’s crackdown on Shiite militias." The deal "could still fall through," but the return "would represent a major political victory for Mr. Maliki."

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) may push a plan to move the Iraq war supplemental, which includes "three separate legislative vehicles: one to exclusively provide emergency funding for military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan; another aimed at stimulating the economy through a mix of domestic spending measures; and potentially, a third that would advance some sort of language on troop withdrawals."

73 percent: American consumers who are worried about rising food prices. "According to the USA Today/Gallup Poll, 46% of respondents say higher food prices have caused a hardship, including 10% who said they've created a severe hardship."

Due to soaring heating costs, "millions of Americans are behind on electric and gas bills," which means that over the next two months, "a record number of families could face energy shut-offs."

And finally: Rep. Neil Abercrombie (D-HI) just doesn't understand cold weather -- or why anyone would want to live in such climates. Meeting with a group of high school students from frigid Cold Bay, AK, Abercrombie wondered, "Let me get this straight: The name is Cold Bay. You are talking about Alaska. This is something called Cold Bay. When you are in Alaska and something is called Cold Bay, is it colder than other bays or something? Why the hell are you even out there?"


Thursday, April 24, 2008

Lawsuit: May change shape of governmental power...

From The Media Consortium via :

A Constitutional Conundrum

Brian Beutler, reporting for The Media Consortium, writes, "Overshadowed by a heated presidential-election battle and daily news of a sinking economy, a lawsuit that could change the shape of governmental power is making its way through US District Court in Washington, D.C.

The suit challenges the Bush administration's attempt to flout contempt of Congress charges against one current and one former White House aide."

And, Bob Secter and Jeff Coen report for The Chicago Tribune: "In the midst of a corruption trial that has provided plenty of fodder for political cynics, prosecutors alleged that political insiders in Washington and Illinois claimed to be working to choke off a criminal investigation launched by US Atty. Patrick Fitzgerald."

[Use link above to continue reading]


Rove: Fire Fitzgerald...Friedman hit with pies...

From American Progress:

Think Fast...

At the trial of Chicago fundraiser Tony Rezko, a "government witness claims Rezko discussed efforts among top Republicans, including former White House political director Karl Rove and GOP national committeeman Robert Kjellander," to have U.S. attorney Patrick Fitzgerald "fired to derail a corruption probe."

New data suggest that Iraq will "reap an even larger than expected windfall this year -- as much as $70 billion" in oil revenue. With oil prices near $120 a barrel, USA Today writes that the news will likely "strengthen the hand of U.S. lawmakers complaining that Iraqis aren't footing enough of the bill for rebuilding their nation."

"The CIA concluded that criminal, administrative or civil investigations stemming from harsh interrogation tactics were 'virtually inevitable,' leading the agency to seek legal support from the Justice Department," according to court documents filed yesterday. "It appears to be a calculated and calibrated effort to justify the unjustifiable," said Curt Goernig of Amnesty International.

In testimony before the House Judiciary Committee yesterday, FBI Director Robert Mueller "recalled warning the Justice Department and the Pentagon that some U.S. interrogation methods used against terrorists might be inappropriate, if not illegal." Mueller said some of the FBI's concerns dated back to 2002, "when top al Qaeda detainees were waterboarded by CIA interrogators."

Yesterday, health experts testified to the House oversight committee that abstinence-only programs "have not cut teen pregnancies or sexually transmitted diseases or delayed the age at which sex begins." Dr. Margaret Blythe of the American Academy of Pediatrics said that there is even evidence that some of these programs, favored by the Bush administration, are "harmful and have negative consequences."

Senior U.S. officials are expected to tell lawmakers that "a video taken inside a secret Syrian facility last summer convinced the Israeli government and the Bush administration that North Korea was helping to construct a reactor similar to one that produces plutonium for North Korea's nuclear arsenal." The video "played a pivotal role in Israel's decision to bomb the facility late at night last Sept. 6."

"Atmospheric levels of the principal heat-trapping gas, carbon dioxide, are continuing to rise at an accelerating rate," according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. "After a decade of stability, levels of an even more potent heat-trapper, methane," have risen as well. Both gases increased due to "the burning of fossil fuels."

The congressional leadership offices employ "full-time staffers who serve as liaisons to the political blogging world." CQ writes that "the largest such operation" may be in House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's office. Also, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) "has been following the bloggers for a few years now and has actually written a number of his own blog posts."

And finally: On Tuesday, New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman spoke at Brown University about responding to climate change. However, not everyone liked his speech. A few seconds into his address, "environmental activists...stormed the stage" and began "tossing two paper plates loaded with shamrock-colored whipped cream at him. Friedman ducked, and was left with only minor streams of the sugary green goo on his black pants and turtleneck."


Blackwater VS Rep Filner.....

From Rep. Bob Filner:

MEDIA ADVISORY – 10:45 a.m., Friday, April 25, 2008
Filner Protests Blackwater Development in South San Diego County

On Friday, April 25th, 2008, Congressman Bob Filner will host a rally and press conference announcing his opposition to Blackwater Worldwide’s proposed training facility in Otay Mesa, South San Diego County, California.

Joining the Congressman will be: Councilmember Ben Hueso, District 8; Council President Scott Peters, District 1; Carol Jahnkow, Peace Resource Center; Raymond Lutz, Citizens’ Oversight Projects; and Jeanette Hartman, Sierra Club.

“Residents of San Diego County rejected Blackwater’s proposed mercenary training facility in Potrero, and I cannot imagine that San Diegans will feel any differently about Otay Mesa,” said Congressman Filner. “The use of civilian-defense contractors is irresponsible, and should be stopped immediately. Not only are they unaccountable to the Military, the State Department and Congress; they are civilians serving in combat and combat-training. Many have been wounded or have wounded others, and yet, they are not veterans; there is no safety net when they come home. It is criminal to ask civilian men and women to perform the role of the military when they lack the support necessary to return to their civilian lives. The paramilitary-style training conducted at these facilities has no place in our backyards!”

Councilmember Ben Hueso added, “Military training belongs on a military base in a facility that is secure and not within an urbanized area. The political strain on the border debate caused by the presence of Blackwater USA will cause more of a detriment to our economy and our national security than the employment benefits they claim to provide. It is also unclear at what level or federal, state and local laws apply to the activities of Blackwater USA, or whether they will respect the delicate fabric of our border environment. Diplomatic ties with Mexico and resolving important issues of border security, border development and immigration have never been more critical to the welfare of San Diego and Tijuana.”

Senator Denise Moreno Ducheny, California Senate District 40, pointed out, “There were environmental issues when Blackwater tried to locate in Potrero and now they want to site a facility in an industrial area within the footprint of the proposed cross-border terminal. Given the controversial nature of this corporation, residents and stakeholders in Otay Mesa should have been informed of a proposed training facility for mercenaries near their community. Their views on this matter need to be taken into account whether this facility is compatible to Otay Mesa’s residents and businesses.”

Blackwater recently announced that they plan to open an indoor training center in Otay Mesa to train Navy personnel. Blackwater will operate a 61,600-square-foot building, including an enclosed shooting range, in a business park on Siempre Viva Road, just south of Brown Field. The building has been permitted for use as a vocational trade school.

WHEN: 10:45 a.m.,
Friday, April 25
WHERE: Proposed Facility Site
7685 Siempre Viva Road
San Diego, CA 92154


3 Excerpts: Bill Moyers & Jeremiah Wright talk....

From In These Times:

Views > April 24, 2008 > Web Only
Bill Moyers Interviews Rev. Jeremiah Wright
By Bill Moyers

Excerpts from Jeremiah Wright’s first interview with a broadcast journalist since the controversy over his remarks and his relationship with Barack Obama are posted below.
The interview will air on Bill Moyers Journal on Friday, April 25 at 9 pm on PBS.
(Check local listings at

Excerpt 1
REVEREND WRIGHT:The persons who have heard the entire sermon understand the communication perfectly.
When something is taken like a sound bite for a political purpose and put constantly
over and over again, looped in the face of the public. That’s not a failure to
communicate. Those who are doing that are communicating exactly what they
want to do, which is to paint me as some sort of fanatic or as the learned journalist
from the New York Times called me, a “wackadoodle.”

It’s to paint me as something: “Something’s wrong with me. There’s nothing
wrong with this country…for its policies. We’re perfect. Our hands are free. Our
hands have no blood on them.” That’s not a failure to communicate. The message
that is being communicated by the sound bites is exactly what those pushing those
sound bites want to communicate.

BILL MOYERS:What do you think they wanted to communicate?

REVEREND WRIGHT:I think they wanted to communicate that I am unpatriotic,
that I am un-American, that I am filled with hate speech, that I have a cult at
Trinity United Church of Christ. And by the way, guess who goes to his church, hint,
hint, hint? That’s what they wanted to communicate.

They know nothing about the church. They know nothing about our prison
ministry. They know nothing about our food ministry. They know nothing about
our senior citizens home. They know nothing about all we try to do as a church and
have tried to do, and still continue to do as a church that believes what Martin
Marty said, that the two worlds have to be together. And that the gospel of Jesus
Christ has to speak to those worlds, not only in terms of the preached message
on a Sunday morning but in terms of the lived-out ministry throughout the week.

BILL MOYERS:What did you think when you began to see those very brief sound
bites circulating as they did?

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Wednesday, April 23, 2008

On the way: New books...

From Publishers Lunch Weekly:


Kenneth Wishnia's THE FIFTH SERVANT, set in 16th century Prague duringthe Inquisition, the story of what happens when a young Christian girlis murdered -- and the city's Jewish population is threatened, toJennifer Brehl at William Morrow, by Leigh Feldman at Darhansoff,Verrill, Feldman.Film: Howie Sanders at United Talent Agency


Matt Hilton's DEAD MEN'S DUST, about an ex-military officer hunting fora serial killer who may have taken his brother, to David Highfill atWilliam Morrow, for publication in June 2009, plus two more Joe Hunterthrillers, by George Lucas at Inkwell Management (US).


Ivan Doig's WORK SONG, set during the 1920s disputes between miners andthe Anaconda Company in Butte, MT; and MISS YOU WHEN I'M GONE, a returnto Doig's beloved Two Medicine country, to Rebecca Saletan at HoughtonMifflin Harcourt, by Liz Darhansoff at Darhansoff, Verrill, Feldman (NA).

This American Life contributor Rosie Schaap's collection DRINKING WITHMEN, an honest and irreverent account of a woman's experiences forgingher identity in an an almost exclusively male world: her favorite bars,where she has enjoyed the company of artists and ironworkers, tugboatcaptains and taxi drivers, poets and businessmen, lawyers and soccerhooligans, to Megan Lynch at Riverhead, by Scott Waxman at WaxmanLiterary Agency (NA).


Scholar and essayist Pamela Haag's MARRIAGE AND ITS DISCONTENTS, aprobing, yet often humorous guide to the author's own generation'sstruggles to revitalize marriage; a portrait of the surprises thatovertook a generation of women ready to throw off the old marital scriptbut not fully prepared for the twists and turns that come with rewritingthe rules, to Gail Winston at Harper, by Susan Rabiner of Susan RabinerLiterary Agency (world).


Paul Strathern's THE ARTIST, THE PHILOSOPHER AND THE WARRIOR: Leonardo,Machiavelli and Borgia, a narrative account of the lives of threeextraordinary men, Leonardo da Vinci, Niccolo Machiavelli and CesareBorgia, providing a new examination of the forces and contradictionsthat shaped the Renaissance, to John Flicker at Bantam Dell, in a verynice deal, for publication in 2009, by Theresa Park at the Park LiteraryGroup, on behalf of Julian Alexander of Lucas Alexander Whitley (US).


Richard Bitner's CONFESSIONS OF A SUB PRIME LENDER: How Greed, Fraud &Ignorance Caused the Greatest Business Debacle in US History, recentlyself-published book about the mortgage crisis, to Richard Narramore atWiley, for publication in June 2008, by Farley Chase at the WaxmanLiterary Agency (world English).


U.S. Army Captain Jerry Bradley and reporter Kevin Maurer's THE BATTLEOF SPERWAN GHAR: An Insider's Account of How the SpecialForces Saved NATO and Afghanistan, showing how a few Special Forcessoldiers stopped the Taliban from retaking Kandahar and breaking theback of NATO forces in southern Afghanistan in 2006, to John Flicker atBantam Dell, at auction, by Scott Miller at TridentMedia Group (NA).


Former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld's memoirs, promisingpreviously untold stories and events, with Rumsfeld saying "it will besomething that I will try hard to have be very fair and honest anduseful. I hope it adds to people's information about these times," toAdrian Zackheim at Sentinel, with Jeffrey Krames editing, for noadvance, with his net proceeds going to his not-for-profit foundation,for publication in 2010, by Robert Barnett at Williams & Connolly(world).


John Rosemond's THE DISEASING OF AMERICA'S CHILDREN, a confrontation ofthe medical & child psychologist establishment, exposing the marketplaceas being the driving force behind ADHD (attention-deficit/hyperactivitydisorder), to Joey Paul and Debbie Wickwire at Thomas Nelson, for publication in Fall 2008, by Steve Laube at theSteve Laube Agency (world).

From Border Fences to Millionaire Candidates....

From American Progress:

Think Fast...

The Bush administration is scrapping a $20-million prototype of its "virtual" border fence along the Arizona-Mexico border "because the system is failing to adequately alert Border Patrol agents to illegal crossings. ... The move comes just two months after Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff announced his approval of the fence built by The Boeing Co."

News Corp. chairman Rupert Murdoch "is moving to tighten his already-imposing grip on American news media, striking a tentative deal to buy his third New York-based paper, Newsday," for $580 million. The deal would put him in charge of three of the nation's 10 largest-circulation papers (including the Wall Street Journal and The New York Post).

Steve Yount, president of the Independent Association of Publishers' Employees, said the resignation of Managing Editor Marcus Brauchli at the Wall Street Journal "has drawn concern among members who believed he helped keep some newsroom independence under the new News Corp. ownership." Yount said members see it as a "loss of 'a buffer who would maintain editorial independence.'"

Just months after leaving office, former Mississippi Republican senator Trent Lott is already cashing in as a lobbyist. "The firm he founded with former Sen. John Breaux (D-LA) earned at least $945,000 during its first quarter in business, according to House filings." That number is likely to grow as the firm "continues to ink new contracts" as Lott and Breaux trade on the "valuable access" they earned as senators.

"The conflict in Darfur is deteriorating, with full deployment of a new peacekeeping force delayed until 2009 and no prospect of a political settlement," United Nations officials said yesterday. Estimates say perhaps 300,000 have died and some 4.27 million are "seriously affected by the conflict."

Italy's major electricity producer, Enel, is converting its massive power plant from oil to coal, "generally the dirtiest fuel on earth." European countries are expected to put into operation about 50 coal-fired plants over the next five years. "[T]his plan is like barging into a war without having a plan for how it should be conducted," said NASA climatologist James Hansen.

This week, the CIA "is expected to begin briefing members of the Senate and House intelligence committees" on new information indicating that "North Korea was helping Syria build a plutonium-producing nuclear reactor before Israel bombed the site last September."

"A day after the Bush administration urged India to step up pressure on Iran's president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, on his coming visit to New Delhi, India tartly said it did not need 'any guidance on the future conduct of bilateral relations,'" making clear that "no saber rattling from its friends in Washington would impair its relationship with a vital energy supplier."

And finally: Yesterday, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments regarding the "millionaires' amendment" of the McCain–Feingold campaign finance law. Addressing whether his client had an advantage because he was wealthy enough to fund his own campaigns, the plaintiff's counsel, Andrew Herman, said, "[T]he public was not particularly interested in Mitt Romney, who spent a significant amount of money on his own behalf, and many other spectacular flameouts." After some laughter, Chief Justice John Roberts said, "I'm not sure we need characterizations of the political candidates."


Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Security: Presidential Transition....

From Secrecy News:


"The 2008-2009 election marks the first presidential transition in the post-9/11 era, and is of concern to many national security observers,"a new report from the Congressional Research Service says.

"While changes in administration during U.S. involvement in national security related activities are not unique to the 2008-2009 election, many observers suggest that the current security climate and recent acts of terrorism by individuals wishing to influence national elections and change foreign policies portend a time of increased risk to the current presidential transition period."

"This report discusses historical national-security related presidential transition activities, provides a representative sampling of national security issues the next administration may encounter, and offers considerations and options relevant to each of the five phases of the presidential transition period."

See "2008-2009 Presidential Transition: National Security Considerations and Options," April 21, 2008:

Meanwhile, "A growing community of interest, including Members of Congress, senior officials in the executive branch, and think-tank analysts, is calling for a reexamination of how well the U.S. government, including both the executive branch and Congress, is organized to apply all instruments of national power to national security activities," according to another new CRS report.

"The organizations and procedures used today to formulate strategy, support presidential decision-making, plan and execute missions, and budget for those activities are based on a framework established just after World War II."

"The 'outdated bureaucratic superstructure' of the 20th century is an inadequate basis for protecting the nation from 21st century security challenges, critics contend, and the system itself, or alternatively, some of its key components, requires revision.

"The new CRS report is intended "to help frame the emerging debates by taking note of the leading advocates for change, highlighting identified shortcomings in key elements of the current system, and describing categories of emerging proposals for change."

See "Organizing the U.S. Government for National Security: Overview of the Interagency Reform Debates," April 18, 2008:

The Congressional Research Service, acting at the direction of Congress, does not make its publications directly available to the public.


Cap and Trade? to Oval Office ages presidents...

From American Progress:

Think Fast...

The Environmental Defense Fund released a report on the eve of Earth Day "that suggests implementing a cap-and-trade program to cut greenhouse gas emissions would not slow the U.S. economy or cost jobs, contradicting a report released recently by a group of manufacturers that oppose a climate change bill." Overall, the report says that "the economy would continue to grow at an average clip of 3 percent."

69 percent: Americans who disapprove of the job Bush is doing. "The approval rating matches the low point of his presidency, and the disapproval sets a new high for any president since Franklin Roosevelt.”

At least two dozen detainees at Guantanamo Bay and elsewhere "say they were given drugs against their will or witnessed other inmates being drugged." The allegations have resurfaced since the release this month of a 2003 Justice Department memo by former DOJ official John Yoo "that explicitly condoned the use of drugs on detainees."

In a speech last night at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, Defense Secretary Robert Gates "said he believes Iran is 'hell bent' on acquiring nuclear weapons," but he warned that "another war in the Middle East is the last thing we need and, in fact, I believe it would be disastrous on a number of levels." Despite his warning, Gates said he "favors keeping the military option against Iran on the table."

"For the first time since the Spanish influenza of 1918, life expectancy is falling for a significant number of American women." "This is a story about smoking, blood pressure and obesity," said study co-author Majid Ezzati of the Harvard Initiative for Global Health.

According to Pentagon records, "the Army has accelerated its policy of involuntary extensions of duty" -- known as "stop-loss" -- "to bolster its troop levels, despite Defense Secretary Robert Gates' order last year to limit it." Since May 2007, "the number of soldiers forced to remain in the Army rose 43% to 12,235 in March."

And finally: Being president "really takes its toll." Pop Photo has designed a feature mimicking the "ravages of time" and allowing people to "see how the current candidates would fare after a term in the Oval Office." Full results here.


Monday, April 21, 2008

"The old slime is back".....

From :

Steve Weissman
Baiting Obama

Steve Weissman writes for Truthout, "... using 'bittergate,' Wright and Ayres to drag down Barack Obama has nothing to do with fair-minded debate and discussion. Nor is all this a needed vetting of Obama, as Hillary persists in saying. The current noise is nothing less than the predictable rebirth of an American political tradition. Call it redbaiting, witch-hunting or McCarthyism, the old slime is back and the reasons go far beyond the demands of Gotcha journalism and electoral combat."

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Saturday, April 19, 2008

Homeless: Iraq vets are different from Vietnam vets..

So there are approximately 300,000 veterans of the Iraq disaster who have sustained brain injuries or who are coming home with mental problems. The thing is, some of them either have no home to go back to or just refuse to go home, and they end up on the streets, homeless.

Whatever the reason they're homeless, they are not the same kind of homeless vets that fought in Vietnam or South America. Those guys did battle in jungles. They know jungle warfare. The Iraq vets did battle in urban areas...the cities and towns as well as the desert. They know urban warfare.

This means that, in San Diego and other cities and towns, the new homeless vets are not camping down by the river among the trees and bushes in a jungle like environment and similar places as the Vietnam era vets are. The Iraq vets are downtown on the streets where the combat territory is familar to them.

They know how to operate in the city environment. If they don't want to be seen, they won't be. This then means that a lone person is no longer as safe wandering around downtown at night as previously they were.

This information comes from a man who who knows many of these homeless Iraq vets, and who knows they have lost none of their combat skills and knows they can and will use them if they feel the need. He warns that if you're downtown at night and you see a guy talking to an invisible other, you'd best steer clear.

So be very aware or as the military would put it, be situationally aware. Which leaves the question: What now?


GIs caught in crossfire in Iraq....

From McClatchy Newspapers via :

GIs in Sadr City Under Fire From Friends and Foes

Leila Fadel of McClatchy Newspapers reports: "Three weeks after US troops were ordered into the sprawling Shiite Muslim slum of Sadr City to stop rockets from raining down on the US Embassy compound in Baghdad's Green Zone, they're caught in crossfire between Shiite militiamen and the mostly Shiite Iraqi army."

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Hillary sealed her own fate...


Hillary Lost Years Ago, No Matter What Happens in Pennsylvania
Submitted by pmcarpenter on Sat, 04/19/2008 - 6:57am.

by P.M. Carpenter

Plowing through stories on the Clinton camp's latest and forever mutable strategy to still win this thing in the 42nd round, or 18th inning, or fifth quarter or some other metaphor of prolonged desperation has become, it seems, our national pastime. It's as though Harold Stassen were back, and this time everyone has been ordered by journalistic edict to take him seriously.

Some of these stories of Clintonian woe doused in inveterate struggle are more entertaining than others, and in turn some ledes are better yet, and I found this one, from the New York Times, to be especially delightful:

Throughout their contentious debate on Wednesday, Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton tried again and again to put Senator Barack Obama on the defensive in a pointed attempt, her advisers say, to raise doubts about his electability among a small but powerful audience: the uncommitted superdelegates who will most likely determine the nomination.

What, I hear you ask, was so entertaining about that one-sentence passage? Well, it's the kind of thing that requires a moment of silence and actual minute of thought to set in, but when it does, the literary irony is amusing indeed.

Permit me to summarize.

Senator Clinton's principal strategic thrust, we're told, is to "raise doubts about [Obama's] electability." Think about that. Here's a New York Senator who had been in the national news for nearly 20 years with a name ID as powerful as Elvis; a U.S. senator whose husband was President of the United States for two terms which are now downright nostalgic; a senator who began this presidential contest 18 months ago with an aura of inevitability that nearly eliminated any internal party competition from the get-go; and a senator who had all the early money wrapped up and put away, along with virtually all the party bosses and top political strategists.
Now, at the tail end of all those immense advantages and standing on the edge of possibly her final catastrophic abyss, Hillary's chief strategic thrust, we and the uncommitted superdelegates are informed, is to raise doubts about Obama's electability.

It is hubris like that that makes politics such a durable and delightful pastime. In one election cycle alone Hillary has compressed all the neverending optimism of Stassen's lifetime of career comebacks; I'm only sorry that Harold didn't try the "unelectability" gambit against Papa Bush in 1992. Then Bill would have really had a race on his hands.

Just to conclude the Times' coverage before moving along, Hillary's strategy isn't working too well. Reports the paper: "Despite giving it her best shot in what might have been their final debate, interviews on Thursday with a cross-section of these superdelegates ... showed that none had been persuaded much by her attacks on Mr. Obama’s strength as a potential Democratic nominee."

Details that followed were, for Mrs. Clinton, all downhill.

And that, in my opinion, has always been Hillary's real inevitability. She doomed herself not a few months ago by failing to put Obama away in an early offensive, but in 2002 by her own voice -- by her own hand, so to speak -- when she announced "aye" to the Iraq war. It was then, in October of that year, on the 11th of that month, that she sowed the seeds of her own political destruction and sealed her fate.

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