Saturday, May 31, 2008

Senate tells BIG MEDIA....NO!!!


Robert W. McChesney and John Nichols Who'll Unplug Big Media? Stay Tuned

Writing for The Nation, Robert W. McChesney and John Nichols say, "On a Thursday in mid-May, the Senate did something that would have been unimaginable a decade ago. Led by Democrat Byron Dorgan, the senators - Democrats and Republicans, liberals and conservatives - gave Rupert Murdoch and his fellow media moguls the sort of slap that masters of the universe don't expect from mere mortals on Capitol Hill."

[Use link above to continue reading]


Friday, May 30, 2008

Musharraf...gettin' outta there...

From Information Clearing House:

Musharraf set to fly out of Pakistan: Report:

Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf is on the verge of quitting with a special aircraft being positioned to fly him out and Senate chair Muhammadmian Soomro being asked to cut short his foreign tour and return home, a newspaper report said on Friday.

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McClellan's publisher....

From Publishers Lunch Deluxe:

Setting McClellan Free

Public Affairs moved up the release date of Scott McClellan's book WHAT HAPPENED: Inside the Bush White House and Washington’s Culture of Deception following the media storm earlier this week and Perseus ceo David Steinberger says the point-of-sale movement on Wednesday and Thursday was as strong as he has seen for any title from the company. The first printing of 65,000 copies is quickly being supplemented with another 100,000 copies delivering in two installments.


Thursday, May 29, 2008

How to trap Carbon Gas...

From Le Monde via

Soils Enriched With Calcium to Trap Carbon Gas

Herve Kempf reports for Le Monde, "Three mounds of soil, covered in wild grasses in an abandoned corner of the quarry. Apparently, nothing could be more ordinary.

Unless you are David Manning, professor of geology at Newcastle University (United Kingdom), for whom they were the source of a very big surprise. These tumuli concretize an experiment that the scientist has been conducting since 2002 in this quarry for road works materials."

[Use link above to continue reading]


Soldiers get home...commit suicide...

From Levine Breaking News:


The number of Army suicides increased again last year, amid the most violent year yet in both the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. Two defense officials said Thursday that 108 troops committed suicide in 2007, six more than the previous year. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because the full report on the deaths wasn't being released until later Thursday. About a quarter of the deaths occurred in Iraq.

Note: A morning report also added that the majority of the suicides that took place in the US were the result of broken relationships....


McCain & Yucca Mountain....

From The Las Vegas Sun via

Jon Ralston
McCain's About-Face on Yucca Mountain

John Ralston, of The Las Vegas Sun: "If a man told you for years that he didn't love you, essentially had no regard for you at all, and then suddenly, when he needed you, told you he adored you, would you fall for it?

As John McCain, alighting in Reno today, tries to woo Nevada voters, he is hoping for the kind of short-term memory loss Christopher Nolan wrote about and filmed in 'Memento.' If Nevadans keep forgetting what he has said and done before, McCain might actually be able to convince voters here that his love for the state has simply been well-hidden. Very well-hidden."

[Use link above to continue reading]


Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Blackwater Worldwide sues San Diego...

From San Diego:

Blackwater Sues City Over Permit Issuance
Last Updated:05-28-08 at 12:09PM

Blackwater Worldwide was reported today to have filed a lawsuit against San Diego over stalled permits for a military-style training center in Otay Mesa.

Mayor Jerry Sanders announced earlier this month that the controversial North Carolina-based firm would have to undergo a public review process if it wanted to forge ahead with plans for 61,600-square-foot training center in a business park three blocks from the U.S.-Mexico border near Brown Field.

A lawsuit filed by the company Friday alleges that its training center plans were being scrutinized more intensely than similar facilities that previously won the city's approval, The San Diego Union-Tribune reported.

City clerks and inspectors had already signed off on permits for Blackwater to turn an existing warehouse into classrooms and an indoor firing range when Sanders and other city officials voiced concerns.

"We have met all the permitting requirements, and withholding the certificate of occupancy is in violation of law," Blackwater attorney Michael Neil wrote in the lawsuit, according to the Union-Tribune.

City Attorney Michael Aguirre disagreed.

[Use link above to continue reading]


Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Conrad on predictions...

From Conrad:

This is a wonderful, long essay analyzing the collapse of the Soviet Union and using that to make predictions on what would happen to the United States if we do not find a way to prevent a future energy crisis (which he believes to be very improbable).

Dmitri Orlov believes that although the average life span collapsed by 20 years, the high suicide and alcoholism rates, plus the prevalent lawlessness, that Russia had a soft landing. The failure of communism to grow food was an incentive to force the Russian people to grow their own food. The central planning prevented American styled suburbs, which is a major reason for the American addiction to oil. Because the state owns the housing, there was not a major economically caused homelessness after the collapse.

He believes that the United States will have a much harder time. The vast majority of American do not grow the food that we eat. It is purchased at a supermarket, shipped from thousands of miles away. The trucks, the fertilizers, the pesticides, the herbicides, the tractors all rely on cheap, abundant fossil fuels. Americans live a long distance from work and shopping, driving very inefficient cars. When the financial aspect hits, there will be a huge number of homeless. Also, America has huge racial, ethnic, and economic tensions that could explode during a crisis. A large number of American have guns to make that crisis worse. Orlov believes our situation is similar to the Balkans.

Even though I have given a grim prediction, the tone of the essay has hope and humor. Americans have a sense of community, the willingness to help strangers, and an American pride to endure hard times.

I recommend taking the time to read this work:


Monday, May 26, 2008 irrational person in the White House...

From Information Clearing House:


By Charley Reese

Nothing alarms me more than the thought of an irrational person in the White House. I'm OK with stupid. I can live with venal. I can tolerate a womanizer, even a drunk, but a crazy person in command of our nuclear forces gives me the heebie-jeebies.

Somebody who can't tell the difference between a nuclear-free Iran with no ICBMs and Russia with thousands of nuclear warheads sitting atop advanced intercontinental missiles has no business being allowed in the White House, even as a tourist.


Friday, May 23, 2008

KBR: Pay your taxes! & Obama's puppies...

From American Progress:

Think Fast...

The Senate passed a bill yesterday "prohibiting federal contractors from avoiding Social Security and Medicare taxes by hiring workers through offshore shell companies." Earlier this week, the House "also voted unanimously to ban the practice, used by former Halliburton subsidiary KBR" and others to avoid payroll taxes for thousands of American workers in Iraq.

In order to justify the Bush administration's warrantless wiretapping program in 2001, then-Justice Department lawyer John Yoo argued that FISA was not the "exclusive means" by which the U.S. conducts electronic surveillance. "The statute must be construed to avoid [such] a reading," wrote Yoo, claiming that Congress had not “made a clear statement,” despite the "exclusive" language in the bill.

"In her most extensive public comments" on the matter, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice “defended tough interrogation techniques for terrorism suspects." "The fact is that after Sept. 11...we were in an environment in which saving America from the next attack was paramount," Rice said. She "said America was safer because of interrogation conducted on al-Qaeda detainees."

Former Alabama governor Don Siegelman "asked the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals on Thursday to toss out his conviction, saying prosecutors confused campaign contributions for bribes." Siegelman also "argued that the trial judge improperly sentenced him to more prison time because Siegelman publicly declared that Republicans were behind his prosecution."

According to projections the Department of Energy issued yesterday, "crude oil prices would probably drop by an average of only 75 cents a barrel" if Congress were to allow drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. The report found that Artic refuge oil production "is not projected to have a large impact on world oil prices."

And finally: "Barack Obama wags the dog." In a forthcoming book entitled "A Rare Breed of Love," which offers advice on how to "raise awareness, make a difference, and stop animal suffering," Obama appears holding a three-legged poodle rescued from a puppy mill. "Lest his presidential campaign ever end up in the doghouse, Sen. Barack Obama has decided to go ahead and appeal to the mutts," writes the Washington Examiner.


Coming Up..Some great reading in these books...

From Publishers Lunch Weekly:


Damian Tarnopolsky's GOYA'S DOG, a satirical novel about the attempts of a dissolute English painter to win over the Arts Establishment and the heart of a fiery heiress, to David Adams at MacAdam/Cage, in a two-book deal, for publication in fall 2009, by Martha Magor at Anne McDermid Associates (US).

Podcaster and Iowa Writers Workshop grad Seth Harwood's JACK WAKES UP, about a washed-up action movie star who finds himself playing for real in a Bay Area drug war, to Julian Pavia at Three Rivers Press, in a pre-empt, by Byrd Leavell at Waxman Literary Agency (world).

The Thieves of Heaven and The Thieves of Faith author Richard Doetsch's THE THIEVES OF DARKNESS, in which a reformed master thief is forced to steal a priceless artifact in order to save his best friend's life, moving to Peter Borland at Atria, in a two-book deal, by Cynthia Manson of the Cynthia Manson Literary Agency (world).Rights to The Thieves of Heaven have been sold in 16 territories.

Margaret Erhart's THE BUTTERFLIES OF THE GRAND CANYON, about one woman's awakening and the dark, small town secret she uncovers, set in the backdrop of the 1950's Grand Canyon, to Signe Pike at Plume, for publication in Summer 2009, by Malaga Baldi at Malaga Baldi.
Stanford University Classics professor and director of Stanford Alpine Archaeology Project and author of 10 Discoveries That Rewrote History Patrick Hunt's HANNIBAL, a biography of the man who was ancient Rome's greatest adversary and whose strategy and tactics have been studied for over 2,000 years, to Bob Bender at Simon & Schuster, in a very nice deal, for publication in Summer 2010, by Carol Susan Roth at Carol Susan Roth Literary & Creative (World).Winner of the PEN award for best short nonfiction and grants by the National Endowment for the Arts and Texas Commission on the Arts, longtime Texas Monthly senior writer Jan Reid's TALKING TEXAS: The Life, Politics, and Legacy of Ann Richards, about the unlikely and groundbreaking rise of one of Texas's (and the nation's) greatest politicians, to William Bishel at the University of Texas Press, in a very nice deal.

Author of The White Cascade Gary Krist's AMERICAN COLOSSUS: An Epic of Chicago, a narrative history of twelve extraordinary days in the life of Chicago in the summer of 1919, the events of which -- an aviation disaster, a race riot, a crippling transit strike, and a sensational murder -- helped define the city's identity at a critical moment in its evolution, to Rachel Klayman at Crown, at auction, by Eric Simonoff of Janklow & Nesbit (world).NONE BRAVER author Michael Hirsh's THE LAST LIBERATORS, chronicling the final six weeks of WWII in Europe, as American army units liberated hundreds of Nazi concentration and slave labor camps; the surviving GIs -- most of them now well into their eighties -- are the last American witnesses to the Holocaust; to Philip Rappaport at Bantam Dell, by Matt Bialer at Sanford J. Greenburger Associates (world).

Variety editor-in-chief Peter Bart's memoir, about his days as a studio executive at Paramount during its heyday, where he played a key role in developing and supervising classic films such as The Godfather, Rosemary's Baby, Paper Moon, Harold and Maude, and True Grit, to Weinstein Books, by Dan Strone at Trident Media Group (World).

Loree Rackstraw's untitled memoir on her lifelong friendship with Kurt Vonnegut, including never-before-published correspondence and drawings, to Renee Sedliar at Da Capo, for publication in Spring 2009, by Joy Tutela at David Black Literary Agency (NA).


Thursday, May 22, 2008

Torture, the BushCo way...

From The Progress Report:

Torture Turf Wars

On Tuesday, the Department of Justice (DOJ) Inspector General released a report, three-and-a-half years in the making, that offers "the clearest and most definitive account to date of the key tactics used by the government against suspected terrorists." These methods include "use of strobe lights in conjunction with loud rock music, twisting of thumbs backward, and exposure of detainees to extreme temperatures, threatening dogs, pornography and sexual taunting."

On the same day, a former Guantanamo Bay detainee, German resident Murat Kurnaz, told Congress he was tortured while held by the U.S. military. Kurnaz said he underwent "water treatment," similar to the more notorious practice of waterboarding. "There was a bucket of water. And they stick my head in it and at the same time, punch me into my stomach," he said.

Though the CIA has admitted waterboarding three detainees, it is unclear how many more suffered "water treatment." Yet Washington insiders seem ready to ignore this latest piece of evidence about the Bush torture policy. "Barely half a dozen lawmakers came to listen to the former detainee, and most were unable to remember his name, with one even calling him 'Mr. Karzai.," AFP reported.

Following a pattern of ignoring new accounts of torture, the White House press corps did not ask Press Secretary Dana Perino about the DOJ report or Kurnaz's testimony until the last question of Tuesday's briefing. She replied that she had not seen it yet; no one followed up to ask her about it the next day.


The DOJ report details the "trench warfare" between the FBI and the military over harsh interrogations, which FBI agents objected to, going "so far as to collect allegations of abuse in what they labeled a 'war crimes file.'"

"The report says that the F.B.I. agents took their concerns to higher-ups, but that their concerns often fell on deaf ears: officials at senior levels at the F.B.I., the Justice Department, the Defense Department and the National Security Council were all made aware of the F.B.I. agents’ complaints, but little appears to have been done as a result." "Beyond any doubt, what they are doing (and I don't know the extent of it) would be unlawful were these enemy prisoners of war," wrote Spike Bowman, then head of national security law unit at FBI, in an e-mail to top FBI officials in July 2003.

The DOJ report concludes that "the FBI should be credited for its conduct and professionalism" in interrogations, but it also finds that "the DOD [Department of Defense] made the decisions regarding which interrogation techniques could be used" -- regardless of FBI complaints. Indeed, though the FBI decided not to participate in any abusive interrogations in 2003, "the bureau appears to have done nothing to end the abuse. It certainly never told Congress or the American people."


The report's account of the interrogation of Abu Zubaydah, an al Qaeda suspect, provides a window into the fight between the CIA and the FBI and demonstrates the White House's approval of torture. In 2002, the FBI used "relationship-building techniques with Zubaydah and succeeded in getting Zubaydah to admit his identity." Later, he "identified a photograph of Khalid Sheik Muhammad," the mastermind of the 9/11 attacks, to his FBI interrogator. Soon, however, the CIA stepped in, arguing it "needed to diminish his capacity to resist."

The CIA's specific methods are redacted from the DOJ report, but the FBI agent "raised objections to the techniques to the CIA and told the CIA it was 'borderline torture'" (a former CIA official testified last December that the CIA had waterboarded Zubaydah). When a more senior-level FBI official raised these objections with Michael Chertoff, then Assistant Attorney General for the Criminal Division, and other DOJ officials, he learned that the CIA had obtained "a legal opinion from DOJ that certain techniques could legally be used, including [redacted]." Chertoff "made it clear that the CIA had requested the legal opinion from Attorney General Ashcroft." Thus the account of Zubaydah's interrogation both proves the effectiveness of the safe and legal rapport-building method of interrogation and, more importantly, indicates that the CIA's "borderline torture" techniques were explicitly condoned by a DOJ legal opinion.


Indeed, the Bush administration seems to have ignored FBI complaints completely. "The report said several senior Justice Department Criminal Division officials raised concerns with the National Security Council in 2003 about the military's treatment of detainees but saw no changes as a result." As was recently revealed, this same council -- which included Vice President Cheney, Condoleezza Rice, Donald Rumsfeld, Colin Powell, George Tenet, and John Ashcroft -- specifically choreographed abusive interrogations that included slapping, pushing, sleep deprivation, and waterboarding. The DOJ report "reveals that top government officials in the Defense Department, CIA and even as high as the White House turned a blind eye to torture and abuse and failed to act aggressively to end it," said Anthony Romero, Executive Director of the ACLU. Despite administration efforts to dismiss the report as "nothing new," the Washington Post's Dan Froomkin emphasized the importance of these revelations: "[K]nowing that the nation's top law-enforcement officials put senior White House aides on notice that the interrogation tactics they had approved were potentially illegal adds a key element to the portrait of complicity in what could someday be prosecuted as violations of U.S. torture statutes or even war crimes."


BushCo world damage worse than natural disasters by far...

From Tom Dispatch:

Tomdispatch: Michael Schwartz, The Loss of an Imperial Dream
[Note for Tomdispatch readers: The next post will be on Tuesday morning May 27th.]

The Indian Ocean tsunami of 2004, with its 225,000 or more deaths in 11 countries, shocked the world; so, in recent weeks, has the devastation wrought by a powerful cyclone (and tidal surge) that hit the Irrawaddy Delta of Myanmar. It resulted in at least 78,000 deaths (with another 56,000 reported missing) and a display of recalcitrance on the part of a military junta focused on its own security while its people perish. Similarly, a devastating earthquake in China's Sichuan Province that hit 7.9 on the Richter scale and whose tremors were felt 1,000 miles away has swept into the news. Its casualty count has already reached 51,000 with unknown numbers of Chinese still buried in rubble or cut off in rural areas and so, as yet, untallied, and an estimated five million people homeless.

These are staggering natural disasters, hard even to take in, and yet it's a reasonable question whether, in terms of damage, any of them measure up to the ongoing human-made (or rather Bush administration made) disaster in Iraq. Worse yet, unlike a natural disaster, the Iraqi catastrophe seems to be without end. No one can even guess when it might be said of that country that an era of reconstruction or rebuilding is about to begin. Instead, the damage only grows week by miserable week and yet, as has often been true in the last year, Iraq continues to have trouble even cracking the top ten stories in U.S. news coverage.

Just this week, Iraqi troops moved into the vast, battered Shiite suburb of Sadr City in east Baghdad after weeks of fierce fighting. The first descriptions of the damage -- U.S. air power was regularly called in over the last months in this heavily populated slum area -- are devastating: "As I moved into the neighborhood," writes Raheem Salman of the Los Angeles Times online, "the destruction from weeks of fighting was horrible. Most of the shops and kiosks have been damaged. Doors are knocked off their hinges. Windows are shattered. The walls are riddled with bullet holes. Some buildings are blown apart by missile fire."

But then Iraq itself is a devastation zone. From the first shock-and-awe attacks on Baghdad as the Bush administration's invasion began in March 2003 -- which killed only civilians -- and the early bombing, missiling, shelling, and even cluster bombing of urban areas as the invading U.S. military barreled north, death, chaos, and destruction have been the Bush administration's tidal surge in Iraq. By now, an estimated 4.7 million Iraqis are either refugees abroad or internally displaced and, depending upon which study or whose numbers you use, hundreds of thousands to a million or more Iraqis have died in the last five years. There is, of course, simply no way to measure the mental stress and anguish that those same years have inflicted on Iraqis.

The New York Times recently profiled a psychiatrist working with hopelessly antiquated equipment amid a tide of desperate, wounded humanity at Ibn Rushid, a psychiatric hospital in Baghdad. It's now a run-down hulk from which seven of its 11 staff psychiatrists have fled -- either for Kurdish areas to the north or abroad -- fearing kidnapping or assassination. In some hospitals and universities in Baghdad, staff has reportedly been reduced by 80%. The economy is in tatters; governmental authority hardly exists; disease is rampant; the medical system in ruins; significant parts of the middle class gone; militias in control; and still, amid this rolling, roiling catastrophe, the Bush administration adamantly persists in its course.

Much scorn has rightly been poured on the junta in Myanmar recently, but, when it comes to recalcitrance and putting self-interest ahead of the well-being of masses of desperate souls, the American President, Vice President, and their top officials have proven themselves a planetary junta of the first order. When it comes to Iraq, to this very day, they remain obdurate and well-defended from the results of the human version of the 7.9 quake they let loose on that country.

Click here to read more of this dispatch.


Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Bad news: Bush's endgame...

From Information Clearing House:

Former Clinton Whitehouse aide: We're in for a "cataclysmic" Bush endgame:

He said that the US faces a "cataclysmic" final few months of the Bush term, and that Bush is determined to leave a lasting mark on the world regardless of who is elected the next president.

[Use link above to continue reading]


New Pentagon strategy on cyber space enemies...

From Secrecy News:


U.S. defense intelligence agencies should aim to "eliminate" the capabilities of opponents to operate effectively against the United States from outer space or cyber space, according to a new Pentagon strategy for defense intelligence.

Defense intelligence shall "eliminate any advantage held by our adversaries to operate from and within the space and cyber domains," says the new strategy document, "Defense Intelligence 2008" (strategic objective IV)."

As stated in the U.S. National Space Policy, the focus of defense intelligence in space will be to ensure full situational awareness for military and civilian decision-makers, support military planning initiatives, and satisfy operational requirements.

As addressed within the Comprehensive National Cybersecurity Initiative, cyberspace has become a vital national interest economically, militarily and culturally, and the current patchwork of passive defense is likely to fail in the face of greater vulnerabilities and more sophisticated threats."

"Defense intelligence must do its part to defeat this critical threat."

See "Defense Intelligence 2008" (flagged by


Tuesday, May 20, 2008

From Bush's apology to Ice Cream Social on Capitol Hill...

From American Progress:

Think Fast...

"President Bush has apologized to Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki for an American soldier shooting at a Quran, the prime minister’s office said."

The Louisiana National Guard unit called home after Hurricane Katrina "was ordered yesterday to prepare to return to Iraq for its second tour." The unit is part of about 40,000 active-duty and National Guard soldiers who Pentagon officials notified yesterday that they will be "deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan in the upcoming months and years."

"Only one in five detainees in U.S. custody in Iraq are members of the main extremist groups fighting U.S. and Iraqi forces, while many of the rest can be reintegrated back into society, according to U.S. military statistics and interviews." The U.S. military indicated it would seek to release more of the average men caught in the fighting.

Blackwater "has run into heavy local resistance to its efforts to set up military and law-enforcement training facilities near San Diego's major Navy bases." Mayor Jerry Sanders "is moving to stop the company over permit problems," stating it didn't get the "scrutiny appropriate for a facility for firearms training."

Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-MA) is "not expected back at work in the Senate this week" as doctors continue to search for the cause of a weekend seizure that put him in the hospital. Kennedy's office says that "he's doing well and anxious to get back to work," but doctors are still evaluating him and his staff expects "the senator to remain in the hospital for a couple of days."

Mired in scandal, Rep. Vito Fossella (R-NY) has announced that he will not be seeking re-election this fall. In his statement, he cited the "need to concentrate on healing the wounds that I have caused to my wife and family."

And finally: In the next month, at least two groups are planning on holding ice cream socials for staffers on Capitol Hill. However, organizing these events is tricky under the new ethics regulations. For example, attendees will "get no more than a single scoop at a time. ... Cones and disposable cups with plastic spoons will be used -- not fancy plates and silverware -- for fear the event might turn into something approaching a meal, which would be forbidden."


Monday, May 19, 2008

Mayor Sanders & Blackwater...

Raymond Lutz Coordinator, Citizens’ Oversight Projects (COPs) / 619-447-3246

Carol JahnkowDirector, Peace Resource Center of San Diegohttp:
// / 760-390-0775

Susan FriedmanActivist San Diegohttp:
// / 619-283-1100

May 19, 2008

Citizens Groups Call for an Expanded Inquiry into Blackwater Permits

Did San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders Delay Stop Order on Cal-Mex Facility to allow Blackwater
to get New Contract?

Sanders Partner in Willow Creek Partners, LLC, a Homeland Security Consulting Firm

SAN DIEGO, CA (May 19, 2008)

Citizens' Oversight Projects (COPs), Peace Resource Center and Activist San Diego called for an expanded inquiry into permits granted by the City of San Diego for the Blackwater training facility, located just blocks from the Cal-Mex border. These community groups are calling for the inquiry to include Mayor Jerry Sanders' inaction when the discrepancy was first detected, opting instead for a three-week inquiry with no stop-work order.

In the meantime, Blackwater completed the construction of the paramilitary training center, scheduled an inspection by GSA inspectors, and landed an extended federal contract. Only after City Attorney Mike Aguirre's office produced a report on the matter did Sanders execute a stop-work order.

COPs discovered ties between Sanders and homeland security consulting firm Willow Creek Partners, LLC, which shines new light on the potential reason for the delay based on a conflict of interest with that firm.

"At this point, we believe it is in the public's best interest if the inquiry is expanded to include the inaction of Mayor Sanders who delayed the stop-work order for three weeks such that Blackwater could complete their facility, have it inspected and approved by the GSA and then land an extended contract for paramilitary training in the facility,” said Raymond Lutz, coordinator for COPs.

“This seems like a re-run of the Sunroad project, where the developer completed the top floor of the office building in violation of FAA height limits before any action was taken on the project, making it all the more difficult to reverse course. "

Community activists point to Rep. Bob Filner (CA-51), who scheduled a news conference April 25th, only three days after the location of the facility was revealed to Lutz by a tipster.

"How can it take three weeks to look over a few permits to see if they were in order?” said Carol Jahnkow, director of San Diego Peace Resource Center. “Is the permitting process so obscure in the Development Services Department that it takes more than a day or two to investigate and confirm that Blackwater was using deceptive pseudonyms, such as Southwest Law Enforcement and Raven Development Group, while also calling the paramilitary training center a vocational school, all orchestrated to evade public scrutiny and start their operation without any public review?"

Jerry Sanders retired as Chief of Police of the San Diego Police Department after a 26 year career with the department. He was Chief from 1993 until his retirement in 1999. Sanders spent time as the Police Academy Director and SWAT Commander.

He has been a partner in Willow Creek Partners, LLC, since 2004. According to the Willow Creek Partners website, they deal with, among other things, "crypto-analytical and multi-level security services," and conduct business with "global reach."

"We applaud the action of the City Attorney's office, apparently the only group willing to stop Blackwater's assault on public oversight of their activities," said Susan Friedman of Activist San Diego. “We are especially concerned that there was no pubic involvement in the approval process of this new training center, especially after we just completed ousting them from the Potrero project, which was essentially voted down by the community by a landslide recall vote.”

The community groups will appear at the Tuesday City Council Meeting at 10am to make public comment and insist that the inquiry be extended.

Raymond Lutz is a resident in an unincorporated area of the county, and is a candidate for the 77th State Assembly District.


Bigger than Watergate...DOJ scandal...

From The Annistan Star via :

Siegelman: Justice Scandal Dwarfs Watergate

The Anniston Star's Markeshia Ricks reports: "Almost two months after being released from a federal prison in Oakdale, Louisiana, former Governor Don Siegelman looks noticeably healthier.... He's got color in his cheeks, a little more weight on his body and a fierce determination to not only clear his name but to do his part to expose a scandal in the US Department of Justice that he says is bigger than Watergate."

[Use link above to continue reading]


Sunday, May 18, 2008

Sen Jim Webb: Perfect VP choice for Obama?....

From :

What It Means To Be a Leader By Senator Jim Webb
Published: May 18, 2008
Adapted from “A Time to Fight” © Jim Webb (Broadway Books, 2008).
Read the full chapter.

On June 5, 1968, I had the honor of taking the oath of office as a second lieutenant in the United States Marine Corps. Thus my professional career began with a vow to protect the Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic, at a time when the country was riven by external and internal conflict. Our instructors at the Marine Officers Basic School were handpicked from among the finest young officers in the Corps. Almost all had been in combat, and many bore visible scars. As the months at school went by, they repeatedly and unendingly challenged us with an age-old mantra: What do you do now, lieutenant?

Just before we graduated, a tough but insightful lieutenant colonel who had fought in World War II, Korea and Vietnam gave us a speech, a warning that echoes in my memory almost every day. He recounted a story of a fight in Korea that went incredibly bad—where, for all his experience, he made an error in judgment.

“I had the enemy pinned down on a ridge,” he said. “I set up a base of fire and sent 13 Marines into the tree line in order to envelop the enemy. Thirteen Marines went into the tree line, and all 13 were killed. And, gentlemen, there is not a day that goes by when I don’t think of that.”

The colonel then spoke of the inalienable bottom line of combat leadership: While all Marines are equally in harm’s way, it is the leaders who must make the decisions about what to do, then live with the results.

What he may not have realized is that he also spelled out the responsibility that sits on the shoulders of all leaders.

In the long months I spent as a rifle platoon and company commander in Vietnam’s infamous An Hoa Basin, the colonel’s admonition resonated again and again. We constantly operated in blown-out populated areas, moving from village to village and digging new perimeters every few days.

The An Hoa Basin was a bloody, morally conflicted mess. Enemy contact came in every imaginable form, from small cells of local Viet Cong to regiment-sized North Vietnamese Army units. And every day, we who led the squads, platoons and companies were required to make decisions that would have confounded the seminars on ethics and philosophy at universities where some of our peers now grappled intellectually with the war we had been sent to fight.

[Use link above to continue reading]


Conrad on Fuel Efficient Cars...

From Conrad:

I saw the movie, "Who Killed the Electric Car?" There seems to be a corporate mindset that the American public should buy gas-guzzling internal combustion engine cars. I stumbled upon this web site focusing on fuel efficient vehicles.

It does feature legitimate cars that car companies are suppressing. Car companies make a lot of money charging people for an oil change, a tune up, a smog check, a "regularly scheduled maintenance."

In one scene from the "Electric Car" movie, at an auto show when the Prius was first sold in America, while the Japanese hybrids could get over 40 miles per gallon, the American hybrid was a version of the SUV that can get an unimpressive 26 miles per gallon.

However, the web site features claims I just do not believe. It has crackpots, cranks, and mad scientests. It claims that the gas turbine engine was suppressed because it was a more reliable, more fuel effecient engine. However, on another web site, that engine was less efficient than an internal combustion engine when the engine was idling.

It also features the controversial Nicola Tesla. He invented the alternating current transmission system that you are using to power your computer to read this message. He was also a very unusual, and difficult man. He would not shake anyone's hand without wearing gloves. He would get into angry fights with his employers.

I do believe he was treated unfairly, that Marconi ripped him off when he stole Tesla's prior patent on the radio, but some of his claims are so incredible, so challenging of the widely held scientific consensus, that he may have been mad.

He said that he had an invention that could have been used to create a force field around cities to make them immune from bombing, and would offer to give that invention for free to the Allied Powers, with the only condition being that the Allies do not use the invention to create death rays. He claimed to have found a way to transmit radio waves many tims faster than the speed of light.

Enjoy the web site, but read the claims with a grain of salt:


Friday, May 16, 2008

KBR & AIG & War Profiteering...BIG $$$$$$$.....

From American Progress:


A new report from the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee has found that a "Pentagon program for providing workers' compensation for civilian employees in Iraq and Afghanistan has allowed defense contractors and insurance companies to gouge American taxpayers."

The report says that "insurance companies alone have collected nearly $600 million in excessive profits over the past five years" because defense contractors are allowed to negotiate their own insurance contracts. Iraq war profiteer KBR "paid the insurance giant AIG $284 million for medical and disability coverage," but "because of the way KBR's contract is structured, this premium, along with an $8 million markup for KBR, gets billed to taxpayers."

Chairman Henry Waxman (D-CA) said, "Out of this amount, just $73 million actually goes to injured contractors, and AIG and KBR pocket over $100 million as profit." Asked if taxpayers were getting the most for their money, John Needham of the Government Accountability Office said, "It's not apparent they are."


Bin Laden & "the fundimentalist leaders of the US"....

From Tom Dispatch:

Tom Engelhardt
Kiss American Security Goodbye

Tom Engelhardt, of Tomdispatch: "When the history of this era is finally written, based on the Tai Chi Principle, Osama bin Laden and his scattering of followers may be credited for goading the fundamentalist leaders of the United States into using the power in their grasp so - not to put a fine point on it - stupidly and profligately as to send the planet's 'sole superpower' into decline.

Above all, bin Laden and his crew of fanatics will have ensured one thing: that the real security problems of our age were ignored in Washington until far too late in favor of mad dreams and dark phantoms. In this lies a bleak but epic tale of folly worthy of a great American novelist (wherever she is)."

[Use link above to continue reading]


Thursday, May 15, 2008

So the Vice President answers to....whom?

From Secrecy News:


The Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) at the Department of Justice has been pondering the peculiar status of the Office of Vice President for decades, and has recently released a collection of more than a dozen OLC opinions regarding the Vice President, dating back to theEisenhower Administration.

"The Vice President, of course, occupies a unique position under the Constitution. For some purposes, he is an officer of the Legislative Branch, and his status in the Executive Branch is not altogether clear," wrote William H. Rehnquist, the future Chief Justice, in a 1969 OLC opinion that foreshadowed a similar argument offered last year byVice President Cheney.

"With regard to the Vice President there is even a constitutional question whether the President can direct him to abide by prescribed standards of conduct," asserted Antonin Scalia in a 1974 OLC opinion.

"The Vice Presidential Office is an independent constitutional office, and the Vice President is independently elected. Just as the President cannot remove the Vice President, it would seem he may not dictate his standards of conduct," the future Justice Scalia wrote.

The OLC opinions concerning the Vice President, which were previously provided to the House Judiciary and Oversight Committees, were released by OLC in response to a Freedom of Information Act request from the Federation of American Scientists.



A Spring Selection of Upcoming Books...

From Publishers Lunch Weekly:


Pushcart Prize and Missouri Review Editor's Prize winner Valerie Laken's DREAM HOUSE, a tale of race, class and the power of home, telling the story of a fixer-upper house -- once the site of a domestic homicide -- that unites a recently paroled murderer, a young couple with a crumbling relationship, and a man still grappling with events of a night long ago, to Claire Wachtel at Harper, in a pre-empt, by Dorian Karchmar at William Morris Agency.


Sara Ann Freed Memorial Award winner Karen Olson's two books in a brand new mystery series featuring a tattoo shop owner in Las Vegas, to Kristen Weber at NAL, by Jack Scovil at Scovil Chichak Galen Literary Agency (world).


Johnny Depp's brother, Daniel Depp's LOSER'S TOWN, about a private investigator who's called in when an A-list Hollywood actor starts receiving death threats, to Kate Lyall-Grant of Simon & Schuster UK, at auction, and Sarah Hochman at Simon & Schuster, in a pre-empt, by Donald Maass, on behalf of Meg Davis of MBA Literary Agents.Foreign rights to Penguin Canada, by Sarah Heller, on behalf of Meg Davis of MBA Literary Agents, to Presses de la Cite, at auction, by Lora Fountain, on behalf of Meg Davis of MBA Literary Agents.


Anchee Min's next novel, PEARL OF CHINA, about the life of Pearl Buck told through the eyes of her fictional friend Willow, a Chinese girl, for publication in Spring 2010, and a memoir, THE COOKED SEED, a sequel to Red Azalea, following Min's life as she emigrates from her native China and begins a life in America, following Anton Mueller to Bloomsbury (joining Bloomsbury UK, which has published her for a while), by Sandra Dijkstra at the Sandra Dijkstra Literary Agency


David Dalton's BOB'S BRAIN, an intimate look at Bob Dylan, an oral narrative, featuring the voices of a broad range of Dylan's contemporaries and confidantes, to Will Balliett at Hyperion, for publication in November 2009, by Eileen Cope of Trident Media Group (world).


Senior editor at Fortune magazine David Kirkpatrick's THE FACEBOOK EFFECT, chroniclING the rapid rise of this company as well as the impact it is having on social life, politics, business and even international relations, with the cooperation of the company and ceo Mark Zuckerberg, to Bob Bender at Simon & Schuster, in fall 2009, by Wayne Kabak at the William Morris Agency (NA).

ING Direct founder Arkadi Kuhlmann and GWP Brand Engineering partner Bruce Philp's THE ORANGE CODE: HOW ING DIRECT SUCCEEDED BY BEING A REBEL WITH A CAUSE, about the startup of the most successful online banking venture in history, to Debra Englander at Wiley, by Sam Hiyate at The Rights Factory (world).


Professor of statistics and political science at Columbia and C.U.N.Y Andrew Gelman's THE RED STATE-BLUE STATE PARADOX, written in collaboration with four of his former graduate students, an analysis of the complex and fascinating voting patterns in rich states and poor states, to Vickie Kearn at Princeton University Press, by Al Zuckerman at Writers House

Host of CBS's Late Late Show, Craig Ferguson's AMERICAN ON PURPOSE, about living the American dream as he journeys from a small town in Scotland to the entertainment capital of the world, stumbling long the way through several attempts to make his mark, written "in the hope that it will inspire other alcoholic punk rock drummers from Scotland to find their true place in US late night television," to Michael Morrison at Harper, with David Hirshey editing, for publication in fall 2009, by Richard Abate at Endeavor (world English).

Kevin Pappas's RUNNING WITH THE DEVIL, the author's memoir of growing up the illegitimate son of the "Don Corleone" of the secretive Greek mafia, andthe dangerous path it led him down, including becoming a high-flying '80scocaine kingpin, getting imprisoned on a double life sentence, dueling with Janet Reno for his freedom and finally reuniting with his father and finding a hard-won redemption, to Mark Tavani at Ballantine, by Scott Waxman at Waxman Literary Agency and Mickey Freiberg at ACME Talent and Literary Agency.

Jeremiah Workman's SHADOW OF THE SWORD: A Story of Courage, with John Bruning, detailing the Marine sergeant's and Navy Cross recipient's firefight with insurgents during a routine house sweep in Fallujah in December 2004, and candidly telling the story of his inspiring and successful battle with severe Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), to Ryan Doherty at Presidio, in a pre-empt, for publication in 2009, by Jim Hornfischer at Hornfischer Literary Management (NA).


Wednesday, May 14, 2008

ABC live video of Edwards endorse of Obama PATHETIC!!!

I am well and truly aggravated here in San Diego at 4:25 PM. Tried to watch Edwards' endorsement of Obama in Michigan, live on ABC. Talk about an exercise in futility. The technicians or the station, one, just totally screwed up.

Got the last part of Edwards' endorsement and the first part of Obama's speech thereafter, thanking him, and suddenly ABC begins to screw with the sound...and then I believe it was Charles Gibson's voice overriding Obamas...which was then echoing and drowned out.

Thanks very much you people.



Waterloo Detention Camp pics from commenter...

From Broken Crystal blog:

BrokenCrystal has left a new comment on your post "Waterloo, Iowa: Homeland Sec detention camp?...":

I live in Waterloo, Iowa and I took some pictures. Here is the link:



Tuesday, May 13, 2008

YAAYYYY for Chicago!!!

From Information Clearing House:

Taking a Stand Against War

By Scott Ritter

I have always believed that the true strength of America is best measured by the principled action of its people. Chicago is leading the way by taking a principled stand. It is now up to the rest of America to follow suit.

[Use link above to continue reading]


To "outsource" is to "privatize" & corps. make $$$$$$......

From PBS via :

Prisons for Profit

"Corporations are running many US prisons, but are they putting profits before prisoners?

America passed a grim milestone this year: One in every one hundred Americans is now behind bars.

This week, NOW on PBS investigates the government's trend to outsource prisons and prisoners to the private sector and examines the controversy it's causing."

[Use link above to continue reading]


Rove: Only testify in writing...Rockin' VP's house...

From American Progress:

Think Fast...

A House Judiciary Committee deadline passed yesterday "with former White House adviser Karl Rove standing by his refusal to testify about allegations that he pushed the Justice Department to prosecute former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman." Rove instead sent a letter offering to respond to questions in writing, rather than testify publicly under oath.

With the housing crisis and volatile markets slowing the economy, the Treasury Department reported yesterday that "corporate income-tax revenue over the first seven months of the fiscal year" was 14.7 percent "lower than during the same period a year earlier" while "the federal deficit ballooned to $152 billion, 88 [percent] higher than the same period last fiscal year."

$0.109: amount the average gallon of gasoline increased in one week, up to $3.722, setting a fourth consecutive record.

The House and Senate are expected to defy the White House today and pass legislation that would require the administration to halt oil shipments to the Strategic Petroleum Reserve. "The strong bipartisan support represents a major shift for Republicans, who until now have generally followed the lead of President Bush."

House Republicans have adopted a new message: "The Change You Deserve." But "the change you deserve" is also the advertising slogan of Effexor XR, a drug used to treat depression, generalized anxiety disorder, social anxiety disorder, and panic disorder in adults.

The current economic downturn "is imposing a particularly punishing toll on Hispanics." According to the Labor Department, "the unemployment rate among Hispanics spiked 1.4 percentage points, to 6.9 percent," since April 2007. "By comparison, the overall jobless rate rose half a percentage point, to 5 percent."

A new survey by the National Retail Federation finds that Americans plan to use their stimulus checks "to pay for increasingly expensive gas and groceries, rather than spend it on electronics or clothes. ... The latest survey found 17.2 million people plan to use some of their tax rebate to pay for gasoline, up from 12.1 million in the trade group's February survey."

Iraqi hospital officials said today that "a fragile cease-fire failed to stop fighting in Baghdad's Sadr City where the latest clashes between Shiite extremists and U.S.-backed Iraqi forces killed 11 men and wounded 19." U.S. forces responded to attacks by "militants" just "hours after Iraq's main Shiite political bloc and supporters of firebrand cleric Muqtada al-Sadr signed a cease-fire."
According to Sen. Kit Bond (R-MO), the White House appears willing to compromise on the issue of retroactive immunity for companies that joined administration's surveillance program. Bond "said the White House seems willing to let the FISA court help determine whether phone companies should be shielded from litigation."

And finally: According to a new survey by The Hill, more than 20 U.S. senators would be interested in becoming vice president, if the spot were offered to them. While some senators answered the question seriously, others laughed it off. "Of course," Sen. Bob Bennett (R-UT) said. "Big house, big car, not much to do. Why not?" "I'd bring a lot of fun to the job," Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) added. "We would rock the Naval Observatory."


Want to go play in space?....

From :


Microsoft's Worldwide Telescope allows users to explore space virtually

[Use link above to take a look]


Peak Oil and getting Heavy Oil....

From Conrad via email:

There are some discoveries that may mitigate the Peak Oil crisis. The University of Bath has developed a new way to extract oil. The Institute of Oil and Gas Problems have a new theory of how new oil can be found from exhausted wells.

After 17 years of research, the University of Bath has developed Toe-to-Heel Air Injection (THAI) system. It can be used to extra heavy oil in a more affordable and efficient way. Heavy oil is hard to extract because it can be either a thick, syrup-like liquid or it can be solid. THAI injects air into a vertical well, then ignites it. The heat reduces the thickness so it go through a nearby horizontal well. Thus 70 to 80 percent of the oil can be recovered instead of the 10 to 40 percent with the systems that we are still using now. Here is the Science Daily article:

The Institute of Oil and Gas Problems developed a theory that there is a pool of fluids that moves in cavities and fractures of rock deep underground. One of those fluids is oil. The earth's crust vibrates, then that oil moves, sometimes to oil fields that were previously exhausted. One example is the Romashinskoye oilfield in Tatarstan. Researchers have found that oil field filling with more oil. So, searching in old oil fields may be more profitable than going to someplace new.


Monday, May 12, 2008

And off to Waterloo detention camp they went...

From AP via Raw Story:

Hundreds arrested during immigration raid at northeast Iowa kosher meat processing plant
AP News
May 12, 2008 17:13 EST

Federal immigration agents raided a northeastern Iowa meat processing plant Monday, arresting more than 300 people and housing many of them at a converted fairgrounds.

The raid of the Agriprocessors Inc. plant in Postville was the largest in state history and had been planned for months, said U.S. Attorney Matt M. Dummermuth.

The raid, one of several conducted at meat-processing plants around the country in recent years, was aimed at seeking evidence of identity theft, stolen Social Security numbers and people who are in the country illegally, ICE spokesman Tim Counts said.

Authorities arrived at the Agriprocessors plant about 10 a.m. and presented company officials with search warrants. Agents asked to speak with all the employees, and plant officials cooperated and shut down their operations.

Agriprocessors, the world's largest kosher meatpacking plant, did not immediately return messages seeking comment.

Of those arrested, 44 were released for humanitarian reasons, primarily because they must care for children. They were ordered to report to court later.

Others arrested were held in local jails or driven by bus about 75 miles to temporary housing at the National Cattle Congress fairgrounds in Waterloo. Federal authorities previously leased the fairgrounds and have turned it into a secure center.

Sister Mary McCauley, a Roman Catholic nun at St. Bridget's Catholic Church in Postville, said family members of plant workers came to the nearby church in tears after immigration agents arrived in buses, vans and two helicopters.

"The people right now are hearing and seeing the helicopters," McCauley said Monday morning. "They are just panic-stricken and very frightened and some of them are coming to the church as a safe haven."

McCauley said she went to the plant to help provide information and assist workers but was not allowed to get close.

"Some of the people that are going to be detained are up against a fence and now they're tying their hands," she said.

Many of the plant workers are Hispanic, mostly from Mexico and Guatemala, she said.
Counts, the ICE spokesman, said a toll-free telephone number had been set up to assist family members of those arrested who have questions about their detention status and the removal process.

Asked about the raid during a Monday news conference, Gov. Chet Culver said both illegal immigrants and companies that knowingly hire them should be prosecuted.

"Illegal means illegal, not just those who are crossing the border illegally but those who are responsible for helping to make it happen," Culver said. He added that it is also important to consider humanitarian concerns and had raised those issue with immigration authorities.
The governor said he'd been told last week there would be some kind of federal action.
Associated Press writers Michael Crumb, Mike Glover and David Pitt in Des Moines, Iowa, contributed to this report.
Source: AP News


Bush prohibits mad cow testing...

From Conrad via email:

First of all, allow me to tell how much I love beef. I remember those commercials with a montage of so many mouth watering meals, with a fiddle playing, "Retreat of Napoleon Bonaparte," and James Garner saying, "Beef. Its what's for dinner." Those commercials
stopped playing after Garner had a heart attack; however, I love eating shish kabob on a bamboo stick, Mongolian beef on a bed of fried rice noodles topped with green onion, or just taking a bite out of a bacon cheeseburger. Of course, the other 29 days of the month, I nuke a bowl of oatmeal then top it off with soy milk for dinner.

Well, on that one day of the month, I want my beef to be safe. For some reason, the Bush Administration is suing to prevent a company from voluntarily performing Mad Cow disease tests. Here is a link:


Waterloo, Iowa: Homeland Sec detention camp?...

From :

Questions Surround Homeland Security's Presence in Waterloo
Updated: May 9, 2008 06:37 AM PDT

May 9, 2008--People in Waterloo are trying to figure out what sort of operation federal officials are conducting in town. This week, the Department of Homeland Security took-over and sealed-off the grounds of the National Cattle Congress on the west side of Waterloo.

Thursday night, our crew went to investigate, but security guards told them to stay across the street from the property. Our camera caught pictures of elaborate ventilation systems going into the buildings. There were dozens of cars coming in and out with license plates from surrounding states, and even as far away as Georgia and Texas.

A guard at the gate told us they are preparing for training exercises, but a Homeland Security spokesman would not confirm that. Many people in Waterloo believe the site is being transformed into a detention center. People in the Latino community fear it will be used in a mass immigration raid.

"Our phones have been ringing off the hook and it's basically the same question. Is there going to be a raid? What's going on?," says Mario Basurto with El Centro Latinoamericano.

A spokesperson for Governor Culver says the federal government made the governor's office aware of the situation, but they could not offer any comment.


Privatized war: Fraud and more fraud....


Matt Renner Interviews Fraud Investigator Dina Rasor

Matt Renner, of Truthout:

"Dina Rasor and Robert Bauman present firsthand accounts of fraud, deception, negligence and treachery by contractors during the privatized invasion and occupation of Iraq. This is the first war that was designed to rely on contractors - private companies with profit as their top priority - for transportation, food, water, spare parts and even protection."

[Use link above to continue reading]


Superdels, 2/3/08 till now: Obama 113, Clinton 22...

From The Guardian UK via :

Slowly but Surely, the Secretive Super Delegates Opt for Obama

Ewen MacAskill, Daniel Nasaw and Elana Schor, of The Guardian UK, report: "Since Tuesday, Clinton has had the endorsement of three superdelegates while [Obama] has announced 13, including seven yesterday.

His campaign team is dripping them out every few hours to wear her down, gleefully sending out emails to the media announcing the dwindling number of delegates he needs to reach the 2,025 target. The momentum has been with him since the SuperTuesday contests on February 3. Since then, he has picked up 113 of the undeclared superdelegates to her 22."

[Use link above to continue reading]


World leaders: Psycopaths or just evil....

From Conrad via email:

I am not endorsing this political blog, but it has an interesting post. Clinton Callahan asks, "Why, no matter how much intelligent goodwill exists in the world, is there so much war, suffering and injustice?"

Here is Callahan's answer. "The answer is that civilization, as we know it, is largely the creation of psychopaths. All civilizations, our own included, have been built on slavery and mass murder."

I disagree. World leaders are not insane; they are evil. As Leo Tolstoy stated, "In order to get power and retain it, it is necesssary to love power, but the love of power is not connected with goodness, but with the qualities that are the opposite of goodness, such as pride, cunning, and cruelty."

This writer reminds me of our friend Miles. Callahan describes people without any pity, conscience, or remorse as insane. This would imply that counseling, medication, or genetic engineering would "cure" them of their inhumanity. I believe they are making a rational, calculated choice that in a court of law would lead to punishment rather than a stay at a insane asylum.

As much as I disagree, this article is well written, and is worthy of your attention:


Congress: Bits and pieces of info....

From Secrecy News:


Noteworthy new reports from the Congressional Research Service that have not been
made publicly accessible online include the following.

"Defense: FY2009 Authorization and Appropriations," May 5, 2008:

"Second FY2008 Supplemental Appropriations for Military Operations,International
Affairs, and Other Purposes," updated May 8, 2008:

"Director of National Intelligence Statutory Authorities: Status andProposals," updated
April 17, 2008:

"Congress's Contempt Power: Law, History, Practice, and Procedure,"updated April 15,

"Navy LPD-17 Amphibious Ship Procurement: Background, Issues, andOptions for
Congress," May 6, 2008:

"U.S.-French Commercial Ties," updated April 7, 2008:

"Strategic Airlift Modernization: Analysis of C-5 Modernization andC-17 Acquisition Issues," updated April 15, 2008:


Wiretapping gives not much & McCain's favorite TV show...

From American Progress:

Think Fast...

While "the number of Americans being secretly wiretapped" or having their records reviewed by the government continues to increase, "the number of terrorism prosecutions ending up in court" has declined. Experts say that the trends are evidence that "the government has compromised the privacy rights of ordinary citizens without much to show for it."

On Friday, a military judge barred Gen. Thomas Hartmann, the legal adviser at Guantanamo Bay, "from participating in the case against Salim Hamdan, Osama bin Laden'ss former driver." Hamdan's lawyer, Lt. Cmdr. Brian Mizer, said that Hartmann's "dual role of supervising the prosecution and providing legal advice to the commissions administrator, who must make impartial rulings," constituted a "conflict of interest."

The concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere "has reached a record high, according to new data published by the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Scientists say the new figures confirm that CO2 "is accumulating in the atmosphere faster than expected."

In a sign of Iran's growing influence in Iraqi politics, violent clashes between militias loyal to Shiite cleric Muqtada al Sadr and the Iraqi government "came to a halt this weekend after Mr. Sadr agreed to a truce brokered by Iran." Iran's scope of influence has widened" in Iraq, putting "the Iraqi government at a precarious position between two important friends, the U.S. and Iran."

The Los Angeles Times reports that the U.S.'s evidence of Iranian weapons flowing into Iraq showed some cracks recently. "A plan to show some alleged Iranian-supplied explosives to journalists last week in Karbala and then destroy them was canceled after the United States realized none of them was from Iran."

Bloomberg writes that President Bush's promised Mideast agreement is still mission unaccomplished. Bush's habit of "delving into Middle East peacemaking in fits and starts" has produced little progress. Palestinian Prime Minister Salaam Fayyad said that talks "have not proceeded at a pace that’s consistent to obtain the objectives set forth at Annapolis."

A joint Washington Post-60 Minutes investigation, has found disturbing evidence that immigrants are suffering from neglect and some don't survive detention in America. Post reporter Dana Priest said the investigations showed an immigrations and customs bureaucracy "that offers many immigrants no care or slow care or poor care...and they also show that the employees inside are panicked about this."

And Finally: Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) has such a "fondness for 'The Office'" that at a recent gala sponsored by Time magazine "he seemed slightly star-struck upon meeting B. J. Novak, a writer and actor on the show." When he was introduced to Novak, McCain "started rattling off the details of 'Dinner Party,' a recent episode that he apparently enjoyed and remembered."


Sunday, May 11, 2008

So...After Bush....

From American Progress:

Inheriting Bush's Mess

So far, the 2008 election has focused on growing challenges at home, including the fallout
from the sub-prime mortgage crisis, escalating gas prices, and health care for millions of uninsured. But another leading policy challenge for the next administration is cleaning up
the mess from
the Bush administration's national security policies and making a clean break from the
past seven years.

Speaking at the Center for American Progress yesterday, Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-NE)
offered a vision for moving forward: "Military power alone will not achieve the great
objectives that are going to be required to meet these new 21st century challenges; it's
going to require a 21st century framework of thinking, of policymaking, of structure."

Hagel suggested that "reintroducing America to the world will be as important as any
one thing this next President has to do, because if we lose the next generation of the
world, the problems will then be so immense that we will never be able to get out from
under them."

Hagel's view is rare among conservatives, most of whom continue to march in lockstep
with President Bush's disastrous national security policies. Acknowledging that Iraq
continues to be mired in violence, Hagel stressed once again that "there is no military
solution in Iraq, [and] the military guys understand that more than anyone, because we
put all the burden on them. All the burden on them."


Saturday, May 10, 2008

How will next President deal with Peak Oil?

From Conrad via email:

On February 2005, the US Department of Energy published the document Peaking of World
Oil Production: Impact, Mitigation, and Risk Management, which many refer to as the Hirsch Report named after the Lead Author, Robert Hirsch.

Here is the first paragraph:

"The peaking of world oil production presents the U.S. and the world with an unprecedented
risk management problem. As peaking is approached, liquid fuel prices and price volatility will increase dramatically, and, without timely mitigation, the economic, social, and political costs
will be unprecedented. Viable mitigation options exist on both the supply and demand sides,
but to have substantial impact, they must be initiated more than a decade in advance of peaking."

In summary, world oil production will not be able to meet world oil demand. When that
occurs, the consequences will be very, very bad. The decline could be very abrupt. The Enhanced Improved Oil Recovery technology will not really help that much. It is highly
unlikely that new oil field discovery will help us. We can conserve and develop alternatives
to oil, but it will take two decades of preparation to prevent any problems. If we prepare one decade ahead, there will be some problems. If the peak occurs before we have been
prepared, we will have severe problems. Even though starting too early may be considered
a waste of resources, the hardship of starting too late make it is a wise to start a crash
program now.

The US government has not started a crash program. The Hirsch Report projects the peak
to occur in 2016. The Association for the Study of Peak Oil projects it in 2010. A few experts have commented that world oil production may have already peaked in 2005.

I have talked to my sister about this issue. She and her husband have already purchased and installed a solar panel. She plans to get a hybrid car, and to start growing food in her backyard.

Here is the pdf version:

Here is a HTML version:

It is over ninety pages. I felt grim and horrified while reading it, but the Hirsch Report
is a clearly written document that should be read by more people.

[Use links above to read the entire document]


These Dems are dogs all right....

From The Politico via :

Hinchey Calls Blue Dog Behavior "Absolutely Shameful"

Daniel W. Reilly, of The Politico: "Rep. Maurice Hinchey (D-N.Y.) issued a stern rebuke to a group of fellow House Democrats on Thursday, saying that the behavior of the fiscally conservative Blue Dog coalition was 'absolutely shameful,' after the group revolted on Wednesday over the cost of veterans' educations benefits in a war funding measure, delaying consideration of the $183 billion supplemental spending bill.

'It is absolutely shameful that members of the Blue Dog coalition would vote to take this country into Iraq on false intelligence and lies, repeatedly vote to fund the disastrous military occupation of that country, but choose to turn their backs on the brave members of our armed forces by refusing to support an expansion of education benefits for them when they come home,' Hinchey said in a statement."

[Use link above to continue reading]


From cost of fuel to Chris Matthews' hair color...

From American Progress:

Think Fast...

As gas and crude oil costs jumped to record highs yesterday, USA Today has released a survey showing that these increasing costs are pushing "Americans to drive less for the first time in nearly three decades, squeezing family budgets and causing major shifts in driving habits." Seventy-one percent say gas prices are a "financial hardship," up from 47 percent in March 2004.

The American Petroleum Institute, Big Oil's main lobbying group, "has embarked on a multiyear, multimedia, multimillion-dollar campaign” to convince voters that "rising energy prices are not the producer's fault and that government efforts to punish the industry, especially with higher taxes, would only make pricing problems worse."

The Senate Democrats unveiled the Consumer-First Energy Act of 2008, a bill to address the root causes of high gas prices. Major oil companies "are getting away with murder" and "gouging" consumers as the price of oil continues to soar, Sen. Carl Levin (D-MI) said.

Two months after "the Pentagon announced in March that Maj. Gen. Jay W. Hood would become the senior American officer based in Pakistan," the military "has quietly canceled the assignment. General Hood, a 33-year Army veteran, "was excoriated in the Pakistani news media for one of his previous jobs: commander of the United States prison at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba."

"Hezbollah fighters seized control of rival pro-government strongholds in Beirut on Friday as gunbattles rocked the Lebanese capital for a third day, propelling the nation dangerously close to all-out civil war." Hezbollah has also forced the shutdown of all media forced the shutdown of all media belonging to the family of parliamentary leader Saad Hariri.

"Credit card delinquency rates in the United States are growing as expenses have risen and options for borrowing have narrowed," according to Moody’s Investors Service. Delinquencies "hit 4.53 percent in February, a four-year high."

Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL), the ranking Republican on the Senate Banking Committee, is coming under scrutiny for his "ties to the mortgage industry and the Alabama real estate market, and the generous campaign donations he receives from financial services companies." Critics say that these interests have "distorted his perspective and led him to delay critical legislative remedies."

And finally: MSNBC's Chris Matthews is 62 years old, and rumors of him coloring his hair "have abounded for years." Politico's Anne Schroeder now has the proof. (More proof here.)


Blackwater, like Clinton, never gives up....

From NY Times via :

"For Blackwater It's Business as Usual"

James Risen reports for The New York Times: "Last fall, Blackwater Worldwide was in deep peril. Guards for the security company were involved in a shooting in September that left at least 17 Iraqis dead at a Baghdad intersection.

Outrage over the killings prompted the Iraqi government to demand Blackwater's ouster from the country, and led to a criminal investigation by the FBI, a series of internal investigations by the State Department and the Pentagon, and high-profile Congressional hearings. But after an intense public and private lobbying campaign, Blackwater appears to be back to business as usual."

[Use link above to continue reading]


Friday, May 09, 2008

Trashing easy for spies...

From :

Obama targeted by ugly -- and untrue -- Internet rumors
By Matt Stearns -
Last Updated 6:06 am PDT Friday, May 9, 2008
Story appeared in MAIN NEWS section, Page A1

WASHINGTON – Some things about Barack Obama rub some voters the wrong way.

"We don't need a Muslim," said Jannay Smith, a retiree from Kokomo, Ind. "Who's to say if he gets in there what he'll do?"

Added Steve Shallenberger, a Kokomo electrician: "He's just calling himself a Christian because he knows that's what we in Indiana want to hear."

Then there's Sherry Richey, also from Kokomo: "He wouldn't put his hand on the Bible; he wanted the Quran. He won't put his hand over his heart during the anthem or say the Pledge of Allegiance. He's too un-American."

All of these slurs on Obama are categorically untrue.

Obama, the front-running Democratic presidential candidate, is a Christian, has never been a Muslim, swore his Senate oath on the Bible, says the pledge and generally puts his hand over his heart when he sings the national anthem.

So why were people aware enough of current events to attend political rallies in the days leading up to the Indiana primary saying such things? They'd been misled by the Internet.

In the ugly new world of online political rumor-mongering, aggressive Googling and e-mailing allow anyone to join the cacophonous misinformation campaign against a politician – in this case, Obama.

Dirty tricks have been a part of politics for as long as there's been politics. But the Internet has taken "the old-fashioned slanderous whispering campaign to a completely new level," said Brooks Jackson, director of the Annenberg Political Fact Check, a nonpartisan organization that monitors the truthfulness of political discussion. "They are more dangerous and more insidious."

E-mails falsely claiming that Obama is a Muslim, that he took the oath of office on a Quran and that he refuses to take the Pledge of Allegiance have stormed inboxes. A newer e-mail has a picture, allegedly of Obama posing with his African family, with the title, "Say Hi to the next potential first family."

In addition, virulently racist e-mails are making the rounds, too.

"These things have a heft to them that gives them a seeming credibility that a verbal rumor wouldn't have," Jackson said. "You can replicate them infinitely. We've all got crazy relatives or friends that are sure they're right and the world's wrong. They just blast them out."

The anonymous nature of the Internet also makes the origins of the allegations impossible to trace, Jackson said.

Still, it hasn't hurt too much: Obama is almost certainly the Democratic presidential nominee.

"He's proven to be pretty resilient," said Burdett Loomis, a political scientist at the University of Kansas.

Addressing the Internet rumors at a January debate, Obama said: "Fortunately, the American people are, I think, smarter than folks give them credit for."

Obama isn't the only victim. Last week, in a dirty trick that couldn't have occurred in the pre-YouTube age, a video ricocheted through cyberspace that appeared to show Clinton adviser Mickey Kantor using slurs and obscenities to describe Indiana people in a documentary about the 1992 election – potential political dynamite in a tightly contested election.

A link to the video arrived in a reporter's e-mail inbox, along with the admonition "You must report this. It will change the election."

Within an hour, the Clinton campaign issued a statement from the filmmaker saying it was bogus: The video had been doctored, by attack artists unknown.

In fact, they tend to be the work of committed political amateurs.

One practitioner in Virginia led a reporter through his efforts. Because the man is a retired clandestine CIA officer, identifying him could endanger officers or operations that remain classified, so McClatchy will not reveal his name.

In late 2006, convinced that an Obama presidency would be disastrous, he decided to start an anti-Obama operation. He combed the public record on Obama. He used a couple of allies and informants – half-jokingly dubbing his group "The Crusaders" – to learn about Obama's background.

He assembled a dossier on Obama, including allegations that Obama attended a madrassa, or Islamic religious school, in his youth in Indonesia.

Then the retired spook tried to get Israeli intelligence officials interested in his Obama dossier. They weren't, to his chagrin. He also shopped it to some foreign reporters. Again, no luck.

He wound up posting some of it on a blog.

A few months after the man began his work, the allegation that Obama was educated in a madrassa appeared in an anonymous article in Insight Magazine, an online publication of the Unification Church, in January 2007. The article was cited by several conservative commentators, including on Fox News, before it was debunked


Thursday, May 08, 2008

Investigating Intelligence Contracting...

From Secrecy News:


A bill introduced in the House of Representatives would require U.S. intelligence agencies to report to Congress on the total number and cost of contractors that they employ and to provide detailed information on the services that contractors perform. Some controversial intelligence contractor activities would be prohibited outright, including arrest, interrogation and detention.

"Contracting in the intelligence community has more than doubled in scope in the last decade, and it's clear that effective management and oversight is lacking," said Rep. David Price (D-NC), who co-sponsored the new legislation (H.R. 5973) with Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-CA).

"We've got to get a handle on it," Rep. Price said. "That means demanding more complete information, establishing more effective management practices and, in some cases, drawing a red line to prevent the privatization of especially sensitive activities."

The two Members of Congress hope to include the provisions of their bill in the 2009 intelligence authorization act, which is being marked up in the House Intelligence Committee today. See the text of the"Transparency and Accountability in Intelligence Contracting Act of2008" here:

The fact cited by Rep. Price that intelligence contracting "has more than doubled in scope in the last decade" was first reported by journalist Tim Shorrock writing in Salon and elsewhere. Mr. Shorrock has recently authored a book on intelligence contracting which describes as much about the sensitive subject as intrepid reporting can uncover.

See "Spies for Hire: The Secret World of Intelligence Outsourcing" by Tim Shorrock, Simon & Schuster, 2008:


Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Showdown in Senate on GI Bill....

From Army Times via :

Senate Prepares for GI Bill Showdown

Rick Maze, of Army Times: "A showdown Wednesday in the Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee over improvements in GI Bill education benefits could hinge on whether the Veterans Affairs Department softens its opposition to changes that would have benefits differ by state and have schools - not veterans - receive monthly payments directly.

The committee, chaired by Sen. Daniel Akaka, D-Hawaii, has 28 veterans' benefits bills on its agenda, but Senate aides said the measures certain to get most of the attention are two competing GI Bill proposals, S 22 and S 2938.

S 22 is the bipartisan 21st Century GI Bill of Rights, which has 57 Senate cosponsors and is endorsed by all major military and veterans' associations but is opposed by the Pentagon and VA."

[Use link above to continue reading]


Echos from the Vietnam

From Benjamin Dangl via email:
May 5, 2008

Vermont Peace Activists Occupy General Dynamics
May Day Raid on Weapons Plant

On May 1st, International Workers' Day, ten peace activists in Burlington, Vermont entered General Dynamics and locked themselves together in the main lobby of the building in protest against the company's weapons manufacturing and war profiteering. University of Vermont student Benjamin Dube, one of the dozens of other activists present at the event, leaned out a window of the lobby, and pointed to the GD building, explaining, "This is the gas tank of the war machine, and we are the sugar."

The demonstrators entered the lobby at around 3pm, and proceeded to lock their arms together with PVC piping, duct tape and other materials. According to a press release put out by the group, the activists were demanding that "General Dynamics stop giving campaign contributions to the politicians responsible for regulating it, stop making Gatling guns, missiles and other weapons of mass destruction and give back the $3.6 million dollars in Vermont tax breaks General Dynamics received in 2007."

While activists at GD chanted slogans such as, "Hey GD, what do you say, how many kids did you kill today" and "GD out of the Middle East, No Justice, No Peace," banners against GD and the Iraq War were set up on three major streets and highways in the area. This anti-war action in Burlington took place at the same time thousands of dockworkers at 29 major ports across on the west coast refused to go to work in protest against the Iraq War. In March, Vermonters in Brattleboro and Marlboro passed a measure in town meetings to arrest George W. Bush and Dick Cheney for crimes against the constitution if they ever arrived in either town.

Rachel Ruggles was one of the activists locked down in the GD lobby. Wearing a green bandana and glasses, this 19 year old from Vergennes, VT, and student at the University of Vermont, said "we are participating in this non-violent direct action to get attention and make a statement against the Iraq War, to say we don't support GD's war profiteering... GD is not contributing to the peace economy. The money from their tax breaks should go back to the Vermont community."

General Dynamics is a national company whose branch in Burlington produces, among other things, Hydra-70 rockets and missile launchers. Mike Ives, a journalist with VT based Seven Days, wrote in March of this year that, according to General Dynamics company spokesperson Tim Haddock, GD employees in Burlington "manufacture the "Goalkeeper Close-In Weapon System." The "Goalkeeper" is a 14,000-pound gun that's mounted to ships and can fire up to 4200 shots per minute of "missile-piercing" ammunition."

According to Time Magazine, St. Louis-based General Dynamics is the top defense contractor in the US. The Bush administration's "War on Terror" has been good for GD business. In 2007, GD's revenues were $7.8 billion, with $382 million in profits, an increase of 33% since 1983. GD also has a particularly close relationship with the Pentagon; 94% of its contracts come from the US government.

During 2007-2008, Vermont Democratic House Representative Peter Welch received $3,500 in donations from General Dynamics. An online petition in protest of this campaign contribution to Welch is available to sign here.

While holding a bag of bread and fruit for those inside the lobby, bearded, 20 year old activist, Dube said "it's becoming clear that after five years people are against the war. And throughout New England there are weapons manufacturers making it possible for the US to subjugate the Iraqis." He participated in the protest at GD in part because in spite of all the economic needs in the US, hundreds of billions of dollars are being spent in on the wars abroad. "Our government is not dealing with the problems in our economy and global warming, and at the same time we're giving tax breaks to weapons manufacturers like GD." Regarding the importance of the group's tactics, Dube said, "We are trying to renew the focus of anti-war activism more on the complicity of our communities in war."

Peace activist Jonathan Leavitt was quoted in the press release as saying. "While our state struggles with [Governor] Jim Douglas' budget cuts and layoffs, gas prices, affordable housing and lack of health coverage, war profiteers like General Dynamics steal tax breaks from working families. We're here today as Vermonters to say no more handouts for war profiteers."

Dozens of activists remained in and around the GD lobby for over six hours, chanting slogans, waving signs and sharing food. The protesters in the lobby said they would not leave the building until their demands were met. However, officials from GD refused to speak with the activists. Burlington Lt. Emmet Helrich said "Nobody from General Dynamics is going to talk to you, that's a fact." The activists in the lobby were arrested at 8:45 when the police went in to cut them loose.

Meanwhile, GD continues to reap enormous profits on the Bush administration's wars. On May 2, the national company was awarded a $51 million dollar Abrams Tank contract.

See this video of the May 1st action at General Dynamics in Burlington, VT. Filmed and edited by Sam Mayfield:

For more information, see

Benjamin Dangl is the editor of, a Vermont-based publication on international events.