Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Can You Believe This?

Covert operations on our allies.

Remember how DC squeals when someone does that on us?

"The kidnapping of Abu Omar was not only a serious crime against Italian sovereignty and human rights, but it also seriously damaged counterterrorism efforts in Italy and Europe," said Armando Spataro, the lead prosecutor in Milan. "In fact, if Abu Omar had not been kidnapped, he would now be in prison, subject to a regular trial, and we would have probably identified his other accomplices."

CIA Ruse Is Said to Have Damaged Probe in Milan

Breaking!!!: 'Defense Contractor' whose boss bribed Cunningham did not perfom a service that Defense Department wanted.

The organization that bribed Duke Cunningham was not performing a necessary service according to the Defense Department. It seems the main reason for the organization was to funnel defense department money to Repbulcan coffers from the stand point of the Congressmen involved and to make a lot of money from the point of view of owner Brent Wilkes.The Congress Act FEMA Bush
Other Congressional names pop up in whom the company "invested". Patents to company registered to company on proprietary systens seem to be fake.Let Go Abysmal Flauntt Rules Williams
Read reports at:Cannonfire Deeper into the Wilkes/MZM scandals and Wilkes: The invisible empire

I'm linking to the second report first because I think it is clearer on what really happened.DeLay Dorgan Ethics Panels FBI Sources BlackDonor Conn. Insanity Casino Alito CIA
And here is a San Diego Union Tribune article that is beginning to uncover the fact that the only thing that Wilke's company did seems to be to copy records for the Pentagon. And that the Pentagon never requested the service. It was included in budgets after House and Senate votes by Cunningham. Similar service for payment was made by other Southern California House members who had received payments from another similar company (which Wilkes had ties to earlier).Iran Rice Defends Tactics Used Against Suspects China Israeli D.C Maryland Three Howard
Report also shows Wilke's association with Schwarzenegger.Landlords Sugar Duncan Evolution Changing Hotel Mortgage Boston Road

What is the real price of propaganda?

Ms. Propaganda specialist (Cheney's can you imagine a personality so twisted that he or she* is Cheney's propagandist?) Mary Matlin says as long as the stories are accurate it's okay.

This from the the most administration with the worst record on accuracy in since the teapot dome incident.

But now I guess we can see their thinking. Once school somewhere was rebuilt and the story on that can be repeated 1500 times. That gives the perception that 1500 schools were rebuilt.

I'm glad Alter brought up the "Rendon group" case because the article he's talking about not only showed that Judith Miller's sources were bum, but that the slightest check of any contacts she claimed to know in intelligence circles could have shown that they were bum. Apparently her contact was Libby, who, of course worked for Cheney. (See beginning of my current post).

No wonder that Frank Rich reports that
INDEED it's reporters who didn't have top-level access to the likes of Mr. Bush and Mr. Cheney* with 'inside information' aka 'talking points'who have gotten the Iraq story right.

*I would include access to the daily conference calls and emails from the White House and RNC in that bad access. They pass on nonthreatening 'insider tips' and much right wing propaganda. You could tell if you have the eye who they are. Many of them are columnists or bloggers that have been able to jump into the big time because of their "connections" to the Republican koolaid. They get nonthreatening silly stories about Republicans and their families, like the BS the White House made up about a British or was it German jet that saw the president's AF1 on its trip to show a fake but delicious looking turkey in front of troops that were going to get some slop for dinner in November 2003. The incident was planned far enough before hand that manufactured pins with a representation of AF1 and the words "Did I just see AF1?" were on sale at the Prairie Chapel gift shop the afternoon of the day that the incident supposedly took place. "News men and women" getting such insider info and talking points from the White House political office and the RNC

I think the point we need to see here is that the White House is very happy using lies against the world, against Americans. Basically, they are trying to remove those from the administration that do not want a non transparent regime, which Bush people happily lable 'dictatorship' in other countries, the in control in DC.

The Real Price of Propaganda

Monday, December 05, 2005

Rice Talks Tough, but Mack Trucks Drive Through the Words

(They're full of loopholes.)Dist Congress Act FEMA Ext.TxCts Let Go Abysmal GPA Flaunt New Rules Williams Noted
Excerpt of London Times Article:
CONDOLEEZZA RICE, pausing at Andrews Air Force Base before boarding her flight to Europe, told Europe bluntly it should be grateful for the US’s tough methods in the War on Terror, even if that included controversial CIA techniques.DeLay Dorgan Season FBI

It was the first formal US response to the row over “torture flights” — and it gave not an inch to European misgivings. Britain, the European Union, the Council of Europe and other EU countries have asked the US for comment on reports that the CIA is carrying terrorist suspects on ghost flights through Europe, to countries where they may be tortured, as well as running secret camps or “black sites” in Europe.Most 2 Lacking Conn Insanity
The Secretary of State’s carefully phrased, partial denial will do nothing to help her tour of Germany, Romania, Ukraine and Belgium. That was intended to heal the rift with Western Europe over Iraq, and to court the East. But in Germany the row, inflamed by the case of Khaled Masri, a German allegedly abducted by the CIA, will make it hard for Angela Merkel, the new Chancellor, to repair relations as she wants.

Rice’s statement is remark-able both for the uncompromising tone and for its legal agility. It covers all the main points but leaves a loophole in each one.
Profile CIA Ruse Two More Rice China Israeli D.C. Killer Three Howard Jail: Sugar Duncan
1) Rice formally admits rendition--the article notes for the first time since 9/11 and claims that the US has been doing this for decades.At Forum on Evolution, Beliefs Remain Static Changing Face of SE Taking the Hotel Hom New Paths for Mortgage Giants Boston Scientific Offers $25B for Guidant The Road to Riches Is Called K Street
The Times notes that the US rendition started in the US in the mid 90s. Well, according to her bio Condi excels in piano playing, ice skating, doing the president's bidding, refighting the cold war, looking good in stilleto's. Not everyone is good at everything. That little thing called math just isn't Condi's forte.
The practice began in the mid-1990s under President Clinton, according to Michael Scheuer, a former CIA counter-terrorism analyst, who helped to set up rendition and who has written Imperial Hubris, an attack on President Bush’s War on Terror. He says that Egypt (repeatedly criticised by the State Department for its use of torture) was a favourite destination. Other CIA officials have said that Bush hugely increased the practice after September 11.

2) Swears that the US has respected states sovereignty. Would not send persons of interest to countries without their knowledge.

Nice one Beyyyaattcch! If one of our buddy EU countries (Poland and Romania are metioned many places as possible EU countries harboring CIA prisons) gets caught with one of our little 'non'torture camps in them you just kicked the mule out from under their swinging body. (The EU said it would kick out any country that knowingly harbored torture prisons would be thrown out from that body.)

The Times says the 'holes' include the fact that darling Condi did not deny flying over and country or even stopping there without permission.

3) Condi says 'we' don't 'do' torture (well, except with consenting adults, you know but that's all fun and games).

As the Times describes it:
The US says that it abides by the UN Convention Against Torture. But this may be ambiguous. US government lawyers have argued that the ban on “cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment” did not apply to interrogation of foreigners outside the US.

Rice says that the US does not “render” suspects to countries “for the purpose of interrogation using torture”, or where it believes they will be tortured. “Where appropriate”, it “seeks assurances” that they will not be tortured. But former officials say governments may give this “assurance” casually.

4) Claims that it's a 'Brave New World' where old laws are passe'. Democracies will do what they have to in order to survive and what they have to do is turn into fascist states, thank you.

5)Times excerpt explains it best:
Rice says that “international law allows a state to detain enemy combatants for the duration of hostilities”. That will provide little comfort for detainees: in the War on Terror there is no clear end. The tactic also brings severe problems for the US. Detainees, once abused, cannot be brought to court, either for trial themselves or as witnesses.

But wait, if they were enemy combatants we couldn't do half of what we are doing to these people. Are they or are they not enemy combatants aka POWs?

It looks to me like the same wordsmiths that wrote the smoking gun mushroom cloud lines have been hard at work here.

Tough words from Rice leave loopholes

The Mirror has some interesting comments on this too.

For example:
Her blunt message as she boarded a flight to Germany seemed to be: "Back us - or back off."

As does the Washington Post

Ms. Rice did offer some persuasive arguments, including that "captured terrorists of the 21st century do not fit easily into traditional systems of criminal or military justice"; that's one reason we believe congressional action to regulate those detentions and interrogations is overdue. It's hard not to sympathize with the secretary of state, who has seen 10 months of meticulous and until now successful work to repair transatlantic relations undermined by a policy not of her making. Yet the Bush administration surely cannot expect that the uproar in European countries, including staunch allies such as Britain, will be contained through such hairsplitting spin. The political backlash is still growing, and the damage could be considerable. For example, the plans of the new German chancellor, Angela Merkel, to rebuild close relations with the United States have been seriously threatened by emerging reports of German participation in CIA renditions.

The only way to remedy the damage is to change the underlying policies. Such a change would help rather than hurt the fight against terrorism. By now the administration should recognize that, whether or not its abductions of terrorist suspects from European countries have been legal or justified, they have surely been counterproductive: The blowback against questionable renditions from Italy, Sweden and Germany has damaged the ability of those countries to support future collaboration with the CIA. If CIA prisoners are still being held in Europe, they probably won't be staying much longer; Washington's Eastern European friends stand to suffer severe censure from the European Union.

Of course, the waffling words of the American press is why I turned to English papers first. I doubt many feel sorry for Ms Rice.

D@#$ It FEMA! Don't make us get the Flying Monkeys!

Or Kanye West even better!

I lost my business. I lost my home. We need everything," said Steven Reed, 37, a graphics designer who was commuting seven hours from Tyler, in East Texas, where he was living with his family at the Baptist Church of Gresham.

"I keep having to bring them more paperwork," Mr. Reed said. "They ask for paperwork. But the paper is at the house. And the house was under eight feet of water."

A father of four, Mr. Reed said he lost thousands of dollars' worth of equipment - computers and lenses.

"The whole society is not understanding what a disaster it was," he said. "You're waking up in the morning with no tissues, no toothpaste, no nothing. Right now, if I took any person in America, and say, 'This is not your house any more.' " He paused, adding, "How do you expect me to function?"

Wearying Wait for Federal Aid in New Orleans

So there's another report on the slowness of the FEMA response to the needs of the people of New Orleans.

FEMA's now run by Duct Tape Man (the idiot who came up with the idea of using plastic and duct tape on an interior bathroom in case of chemical attack). Gulf Coast Rebuilding is run by an extremely rich Texan.

Why does that sound like a recipe for nothing done for the average person?

Washington Post Editorial on the subject.

In the past FEMA has risen to the occasion and helped individual communities recover from smaller disasters. But a lot more is needed from the nation's main disaster response agency than what it has produced so far.

Are they treating the victims of Katrina differently than previous disasters? That would be very sad, but not totally unexpected.

Other recent reports on FEMA:

New Orleans on it's own
New Orleans Mayor begs people to come back
Bush, Katrina and the Economy
Mild Diss from Ridge on Chertoff, FEMA response
Violence in the Lower Ninth?

Sunday, December 04, 2005

President has a "Plan for Victory"?

That's what he told us 11 days ago.

Don't worry he had a plan.

And they printed a book that was less of a plan than a hopeful scenario.

But did he really say he had a plan? IIRC he did, and the signs that were all over the stage when he spoke repeated the assertion over and over.
It's called "misinformation". In fact the government just got it together recently to put up a web page offering over a billion dollars for someone, anyone to work them up a plan.

This is open ended, anyone can apply apparently. Though, of course, big time campaign contributors will be considered for the inside track is the unspoken truth.

In case you missed the big sign each of the squares in the large Plaque behind the president's head also said "Plan for Victory"

Excerpt from NY Times analysis:
Iraq Fixer, No Exp. Needed, $1B-up

Published: December 3, 2005

Anyone who caught a glimpse of President Bush's speech on Iraq this week - delivered from an elaborately decorated stage confidently plastered with "Plan for Victory" placards - may have thought the administration believes that a detailed victory plan is in place. But there's still work to be done, especially if you're in the business of blue-sky consulting.

As the president's speech was being headlined, a far quieter government announcement from the Agency for International Development, the main pipeline for Iraq reconstruction, was offering a $1-billion-plus opportunity for interested parties to dream up "design and implementation" plans for stabilizing 10 "Strategic Cities" considered "critical to the defeat of the Insurgency in Iraq."

Talk about outsourcing: here comes the government's open invitation, for all "qualified sources" out there, to come up with $1.02 billion worth of fresh imaginings, even as the "Plan for Victory" is ballyhooed as a fully credible agenda in hand for fixing - perchance exiting - Iraq. Veterans of the think-tank consultancy complex in Washington are rating such an ultralucrative offer - an average of $100 million per city across two years - as eye-popping by the usual scale of Usaid grants. It's even more so when such a sweet deal comes, at least initially, with no specific strings attached.

"The assignment calls for the design and implementation of a social and economic stabilization program," the agency says in its brief proffer, adding, "Invitation is open to any type of entity."

If so, we hope Iraqi urbanites get wind of this thought-provoking windfall. Who knows? They may have a helpful idea or two, once the 10 cities are identified. Then again, the Usaid invitation cautions, "The number of Strategic Cities may expand or contract over time." Hmm. Let's all think about that.

And the document itself is at IRAQ: Strategic City Stabilization Initiative (SCSI) (Link designed to be in Halliburton Gold.)

There it is folks. Your Tax Dollars at Work!

New Orleans, on it's own.

Three months after disaster, talk about federal help for the beleagured city is mostly that.Tribes Have All the LuckWrongful Imprisonment: Anatomy of a CIA Mistake
And even the small aid offered evacuees will be withdrawn in the near future.Blanco RecordsFor Alito, a Tricky QuestionCunningham Bribery
But the risks that individual New Orleanians must shoulder in such an on-your-own recovery appear staggeringly large.Automakers BailoutWar worries GOPDean Hammers Bush
"There is no market solution to New Orleans," said Thomas C. Schelling of the University of Maryland, who won this year's Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences for his analysis of the complicated bargaining behavior that underpins everything from simple sales to nuclear confrontations.The Talk Shows
Like Tax Cuts1951 Killings 4 Klansmen
"It essentially is a problem of coordinating expectations," Schelling said of the task that Vignaud and her neighbors must grapple with. "If we all expect each other to come back, we will. If we don't, we won't.Death Penalty to Be Sought In 'Precious Doe' SlayingBodies of N.H. Children IdentifiedMd. Execution Still On Despite Analysis
"But achieving this coordination in the circumstances of New Orleans,'' he said, "seems impossible."Montgomery Fire VictimTextbook DelaysJunk Food
The situation in which residents find themselves is an extreme example of a trend underway for a quarter-century, a shift of economic risk from business and government to working families, and an increasing reliance on free markets to manage society's problems. Red Cross Bush-Blanco Caffeine Anti-Lice Flaunt it
Safety nets such as unemployment compensation, employer-provided healthcare insurance and pensions, and, recently, effective disaster relief have been reeled in or removed. Increasingly, families from the working poor to the affluent are left largely to buy and sell their own way to safety even when their individual efforts seem utterly outgunned, as they do in the case of Katrina.Detroit Gibbs Wins Redskins Iraq McCainChavez Pipeline Race Allawi In Najaf Season of Scandals
"There are classes of problems that free markets simply do not deal with well," Schelling said. "If ever there was an example, the rebuilding of New Orleans is it."Dean Cunningham Climate Dorgan Mortgage Chic Hotels Sursum Corda
Prospects for a quick municipal comeback peaked 17 days after the hurricane and flood, when Bush stood before St. Louis Cathedral in historic Jackson Square and told a national television audience that "there is no way to imagine America without New Orleans, and this great city will rise again."New Paths Fairfax EPA Slanting Nanotechnology Exercise Wrongful Imprisonment With AOL
The hopes thus raised were kept alive in the first two months following Katrina. The president sought first one, then two emergency spending bills totaling $62 billion. The Army Corps of Engineers quickly signed contracts to rebuild the city's protective levees to their pre-storm condition. The Federal Emergency Management Agency announced it would award 60,000 households the maximum allowable relief of $26,200. A steady stream of planning conferences by architects, urbanists and political leaders spread the good word that major metropolises never die.Yellow Pages Unit BlackBerry Angry BellSouthGrandma Nutcracker Glitter
But in recent weeks, a new reality has settled in as the agencies that were stepping up to help guide the city's comeback have stepped back down again.Big Event
Alpha Female Brian Williams Implants
FEMA said it would stop covering the hotel costs of more than 50,000 households at the beginning of December — later extended until Jan. 7 — even while acknowledging that many, especially in New Orleans, would have trouble finding alternative accommodations.

Despite repeated pleas, the corps and the White House refused to promise any strengthening of the levees beyond what was underway. Investigators, meanwhile, concluded that several of the protective walls that failed did not meet corps-approved standards, a discovery that raised doubts about the safety of the entire levee system.

Emergency spending slowed sharply. The national flood insurance program temporarily suspended claims payments for Katrina, and program officials hinted broadly that they would tighten eligibility requirements to get coverage for the next storm.

Even the tiny agency charged with gauging the elevation of America's ground added an unexpected hurdle. It quietly announced that New Orleans and environs had sunk more than anticipated, forcing it to replace all of its measuring sticks. The result is that New Orleanians will have to build higher to escape future floods.


To an extent almost inconceivable a few months ago, the only real actors in the rebuilding drama at the moment are the city's homeowners and business owners.


New Orleans appears almost entirely dependent on a bottom-up process of one individual's decision to rebuild piling atop another's until recovery becomes self-sustaining.

In theory, such a virtuous cycle is at the heart of every market economy, and, once underway, should revive the city. But a look at some of the uncertainties facing individual New Orleanians — rich and poor, black and white — suggests that this is where matters turn truly daunting.

Levees hold the key

According to Schelling, the key to making almost any kind of human activity work is "credible commitments." Buyers must make them to sellers. Governments must make them to citizens. Nations must make them to each other.

The credible commitment that virtually every resident of New Orleans wants more than any other is a pledge from the Army Corps of Engineers to rebuild the levee system bigger and better than before Katrina.

"If they put back good levees to the [Category 3] level authorized before Katrina and we can get a commitment to build them slowly up to Category 5, people will come back," said Walter Isaacson, a News Orleans native, former editor of Time magazine, former chairman of CNN and co-chairman of the Louisiana Recovery Authority, a new state board appointed by Gov. Kathleen Babineaux Blanco to oversee reconstruction. "It won't be a purely rational decision, but they'll come."


state investigators discovered that sheet pilings along floodwalls that failed on 17th Street and London Avenue near Granada Drive extended to barely half the depth that corps' designs called for, and that the walls themselves were of a weaker design than what the corps had recommended. On Wednesday, corps engineers partially confirmed the findings.

The news has opened a new front in New Orleanians' fight for outside help in rebuilding. In effect, they argue that while what happened to much of the city was a natural disaster, what happened to many of the suburbs south of Lake Pontchartrain was the result of a failure of the corps and therefore something for which Washington should compensate them.

"We're talking about the negligence of man, not an act of God," said Republican state Rep. Emile "Peppi" Bruneau, who represents the area.

"Our citizens are showing the spirit to survive, but it is unfair to ask people to pump their already damaged savings back into their homes and businesses without a demonstrated commitment from the federal government to protect us the right way this time," New Orleans Mayor C. Ray Nagin said.


he problem for residents is that years will pass before all of the investigations are complete and the decisions made. In the meantime, the discovery of flaws along the two canals has caused fear to spike about the safety of the entire levee system and produced the opposite of the "credible commitment" New Orleanians need.

"You have to wonder whether the same flaws exist in places that didn't breach," said King Logan, a marketing executive whose home in the tony Country Club Gardens neighborhood took on 6 feet of water, despite being considered on high enough ground to be safe from flooding.

"I'm certainly not going to rebuild," he said, "until somebody convinces me the rest of the system isn't as poorly built."


If city residents aren't getting what they need from the Army Corps of Engineers, they are having even less luck with the government's national flood insurance program.

In theory, the FEMA-run program should make decisions about whether to rebuild easier because it assumes some of the financial risk involved by promising to cover up to $250,000 in flood damages.

And because FEMA requires that the buildings it insures be built above the projected level for a once-in-100-years flood, the program seems to provide protection against the actual physical risk of flooding as well.

But flood insurance has turned into a morass in the wake of Katrina, with many homeowners and business owners finding it nearly impossible to collect for the just-passed storm or to figure out what coverage they'll be eligible to get for the next one. The disarray represents a second strike against hopes for a go-it-alone rebuilding.

Part of the problem is that while Washington provides basic flood insurance, the government depends on private insurance agents to sell it as part of a standard homeowners' policy. Interviews, lawsuits and complaints filed with the Louisiana insurance commissioner's office suggest that many agents are underselling the flood portion of policies while overselling the company-provided homeowners' part.

Some homeowners, like Louis J. Gentry Jr., who together with his wife, Kim, just finished rebuilding their Lakeview home two years ago and insured it through State Farm, have discovered themselves financially "upside down" without enough flood coverage to pay off their mortgage. Others, like Vignaud, who insured through Travelers, said that they were assured the homeowners' portion of their policies would cover their house's contents even in case of flood, only to learn otherwise since Katrina.

When Laurie Vignaud was in town last week, she registered the car she purchased to replace her drowned Lexus, and renewed her Louisiana driver's license — two inexpensive ways to maintain her connection with New Orleans.

But when the work crew gutting 1249 Granada Drive hauled the last load from the house, she told them to board it up after it dried. Then she and her daughters headed for Houston and a newly rented three-bedroom town house in a gated suburb.

"It would just break my heart if I lose that house," she said. But with so much up in the air about the levees, insurance, her neighbors and the city, she said, "there's no way I can do anything now."

Vignaud's employer, Hibernia, was acquired recently by Virginia-based credit card giant Capital One Financial Corp. and is aggressively expanding in Texas. The bank's Houston-based executives have asked her to stay, according to Hibernia Executive Vice President Willie Spears. Next week, she expects to be in Brownsville to hire a new employee, then fly on to Dallas for more hiring.

Meanwhile, Leroy Vignaud is trying to get FEMA to put a trailer next to his house with the circular staircase. He has purchased a small pickup truck and a few tools.

Legally blind and on unfamiliar terrain, he has asked his wife to drive him home to retrieve what he can.

"I can't walk away from my resources," he said.

On Their Own in Battered New Orleans

Usenet Copy

War has become America's leading brand.

35% more deaths with our Big War Machine over the other major brands

Look for the blood red box at your grocer's today!

Excerpt of SFGate article:

Breaking with the Clinton administration's advocacy for a cooperative, rules-based international economy...the Bush administration has fashioned a new model of imperial globalization, aggressive and unilateralist. This agenda, at best, benefits a narrow slice of the American business community and leaves the rest exposed to a world of popular resentment and economic uncertainty.

If Bush is an oil president, he's not a Disney president, nor a Coca-Cola one. If Vice President Dick Cheney is working diligently to help Halliburton rebound, the war he helped lead hasn't worked out nearly so well for Starbucks.

A year ago, Jim Lobe of Inter Press Service reported on a survey of 8,000 international consumers released by Global Market Institute Inc. of Seattle. The survey noted that "one-third of all consumers in Canada, China, France, Germany, Japan, Russia and the United Kingdom said that U.S. foreign policy, particularly the war on terror and the occupation of Iraq, constituted their strongest impression of the United States."

"Unfortunately, current American foreign policy is viewed by international consumers as a significant negative, when it used to be a positive," said Mitchell Eggers, Global Market's chief operating officer and chief pollster.

Rest of article at: How Bush's policies are being linked to economic woes and CEO angst in America

And, hey, we have all capitulated to the global economy -- whether we like it or not -- because we can't fight the assumption of political dominion of the wealthy of the world while so many keep voting for it by marking the Republican choice on the ballot.

So what do the so-called 'adults' in government in America do?

They destroy the attractiveness of brand "America". This means jobs lost to us.

The deal of world trade that is being forced whether we like it or not is that we should be able to sell products back. There are products that we can sell if all things are equal beyond the very cheap natural resources if we don't have 3 strikes against us before we try.

We have the higher prices, but still some things can't be mocked up in China. There a products that without trade barriers we would excel at.

But, though, that one strike is not enough to put us out, the other two strikes which stem from the aggressive invasion of Iraq, and the way we forced the war on the world without listening to their concerns, even their demands that we prove our case (which we never did. Most of the coalition was bribed with rebuilding contract offers and just plain old US taxpayer money).

Now most of American business is adrift--but wait, the president's 'men' assure us that the economy is sailing along full speed so why are all these businesses having a bad year? Was "Pickles" lying to us?-- and they're saying the war is the reason.

This makes the Bush people look even more tribalistic than ever. Was it all about getting contracts for Bechtel, Halliburton and those corporations that Rummy and Bush have major interests in?

I do wish they would not link the operation in Afghanistan with the invasion of Iraq. The job in Afghanistan needed to be done and in fact was not done well enough as the job of 'getting bin Laden' was turned over to poor Afghan tribesmen. It was also approved by most of the world.

The aggressive war on Iraq looks very much like what Robert H. Jackson was talking about when he was the chief US prosecutor at the Nuremberg trials. Associate Justice of the Supreme Court in his other job, Mr. Jackson argued that one of the worst problems with the Third Reich was the fact that it took no council from the other major world powers on what it wanted to do. Our leaders managed to get the UK and Spain to go with them, but Germany was able to involve Japan and Italy in its campaign, so the analogy does stand.

Hong Kong blacklists WTO protesters

Looks like a city after the Bush regime's own heart.

The Hong Kong government has denied the existence of any blacklist.

But the South China Morning Post reported police had used pictures of protesters at last month's Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) forum in the South Korean city of Pusan to help them build such a list.

Recent reports have suggested some 3000 Korean farmers may travel to Hong Kong to protest during the WTO summit, which will gather ministers from around the world to try to hammer out deals to open up trade in farm and industrial goods and services.

Looks like they'll get a protest anyway. I doubt the SK farmers are on any sort of 'troublemakers list'.

Hong Kong blacklists WTO protesters
BTW, Cheney's sure to note how this goes.

New Orleans Mayor begs people to come back

Nagin, the New Orleans Mayor, begged displaced people in Atlanta who had gathered at Morehouse College to come home.

"I miss y'all," Mayor C. Ray Nagin told more than 2,200 people temporarily living in the Atlanta area. "I want y'all back in the city of New Orleans. Red beans and rice just ain't the same without you. I want you back."

But in a three-hour session marked by tears and outbursts, the response was not encouraging. "Come home?" many yelled back. "To what?"

The response says everything. The New Orleans problem is not something that can be fixed by the people and government of the city or the state themselves.

New Orleans is the most important port in the United States. The way the city and indeed the entire Gulf region has been put on the back burner by the Bush administration should be brought up in front of all Americans over and over again.

I was reading yesterday how New Orleans has been virtually abandoned by the Bush administration. I will go back and get those articles and bring them here.

New Orleans Mayor Beseeches Residents To Return to Their City

Bush, Katrina and the Economy

Transcript of the strangest newscast I ever saw. There was this lady wearing a hat so big you couldn't see her face and she's saying:Decline in Support for War Worries GOPDean Hammers Bush On War, ImmigrationCunningham Friends Baffled By His Blunder Into Bribery
Amazing how our Darling President Bush's superior brain power has solved the problems in the economy in the last few months isn't it?Automakers Are Lining Up Aid, But Just Don't Call It a BailoutFor Alito, a Tricky Question of Statements vs. Thoughts
You see everything that is wrong with the economy now, or is going wrong, is due to the hurricanes.Wrongful Imprisonment: Anatomy of a CIA Mistake
Blast in Pakistan Kills Al Qaeda Commander
Everything that is going right is due to the amazing president Bush's efforts on our behalf.Blanco Releases Katrina RecordsUse of Race in Picking Jury BannedSome Conn. Tribes Have All the Luck
Those 215,000 new jobs aren't due to the massive clean up and the start of rebuilding in the Gulf Coast. It's due to the brains and dedication of the Bush crew. Please ignore assessments such as this one that reports that the massive cleanup and rebuilding might be a big part of the boost in job growth. That's just enemy propaganda. My friend Rummy agrees with me there. New Attacks Threaten Truce in IraqBlast in Pakistan Kills Al Qaeda Commander
On the other hand, the massive jump in unemployment for African Americans (9.1% to 10.6% last month alone) is due to the hurricanes, as is the disappearance of over 400,000 job seekers since September.
Pomp, Tradition of House of Lords Comfort Some, Alienate Others
17 Iraqi Soldiers Killed in Fallujah BlastChina Arrests 16 in Smuggling of Babies
So remember Good is from our dear president, Bad from hurricanes.Leads in 1951 Killings Point to 4 KlansmenFor a Former Panther, Solidarity After the StormExecution Still On Despite AnalysisStem Cell Research Advocates in Md. OptimisticCyber Holiday Cards Get a New Gloss
Good Bushie-He's doing a 'heck of a job. Bad Katrina, Rita, and Wilma.Unwanted Presents Find Homes In the Online Gift-Card MarketplaceGrandma Gets Her Game On

This is... umm.. "Pickles" ..er... "Welch" reporting for the Lincoln group.The Sins of Leaving Something UnsaidWindfall For the Dimwitted
Rebroadcast with permission as long as you mention my 'brownie' eyes.

Mild Diss from Ridge on Chertoff, FEMA response.

That's what it reads like to me.

Ridge said his old department should name regional chiefs to work closely with governors, mayors and state homeland security officials in each section of the country to prevent the breakdowns that hampered Brown, Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Babineaux Blanco (D) and New Orleans Mayor C. Ray Nagin before and after the storm.

Yep, I was reading on the DHS site and that was definitely the duty of the department. If there are any breakdowns anywhere in a major emergency it is the fault of DHS. When they created the Department they took on that responsibility.

Ridge unsuccessfully pushed for a regional structure before stepping down in February. White House homeland security adviser Frances Fragos Townsend is scheduled to finish work later this month on a broad internal review ordered by President Bush of the government's flawed response.

Notice they picked a woman and a Clinton appointee to help them out of their mess.

"There just didn't seem to me to be any collaboration up front, any communication," he said. "You don't have to be a meteorologist to see a big red ball going to New Orleans to say, 'Oh, my God, this is going to be big.' Shouldn't you be over-prepared, rather than under-prepared?"

Ridge said that "even if they had employed the National Response Plan before the disaster, rather than after the disaster, you'd have found probably, you know, some gaps in the response."

Um, but maybe they would have bought some boats before hand and stocked them 50-60 miles inland instead of buying 10 rowboats for 10k in Texas afterwards to get into the flooded areas or whining that they couldn't get in when all the journalists were in tramping, or even floating around the flooded city.

Ridge Assesses Storm Response

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Violence in the Lower Ninth?

How dare they?

Just because right wingers were laughing on the day that Katrina hit.

Chortling about the numbers of .. er.. minority folks were going to die.

Just because the federal government has shown it basically wanted the whole area bulldozed and buildings that would make rich folk richer built there.

Just because so many died there due to neglect and some think even possible intentional flooding of the area to save the more affluent areas.

And FEMA's response was gawd awful.

Personally, I think a little rage is understandable.

Get some cops out there to manage those who are going a little too far off the handle and get on with it.

Who's Last Throes?

The big problem, Mr. Kurtz, is that the middle class is being hammered by actions of the government and business. It was the middle class that gave the massive numbers needed to subscribe to newspapers to keep you guys afloat. But you served the real middle class very poorly.

I mean those of us not making over 200k a year. I know people above that are considered middle class and they can buy the expensive things your advertisers want to sell and, be honest, they are more like the full time journalists are all news departments. You have more of a connection with people who do have the option at least once in a while of buying those very expensive shoes, real estate, etc.

But you (I mean journalists, editors, and publishers not you personally) forgot who was supplying most of the subscriptions. You dissed the real middle class. You ho hummed when our jobs were being sent overseas. When we were losing ground financially you pooh poohed. This was just economic Darwinism.

And then came 9/11. What an opportunity to break ground and get to the bottom of what the real problem was. Instead all the news went into propaganda mode--and I understand you guys had direct threats from the White House. Robert Scheer reported that his editor received 8 of them within a year of the disaster. There were big issues about cartoons. Now you have to tune into O'Reilly or Limbaugh to hear a spiel about the evil political cartoonists, but back then, a toon that made the White House mad was big time news.

But full time journalists make big money. The editors and publishers even bigger money and you were all entrusted with the protection of what is true.

And what did we get back? Propaganda, talking points, and a rehash of details about what happened that day -- as if, like the right wing wants, it could be kept going. Keep the people in fear and doubt.

It wasn't until May 2002 that Newsweek's Ishikoff (and probably a partner) broke a story so big that it shattered the "spell" over the news media. What is funny is that it was a rehash of a report he had done in October 2001 as far as I could tell (news is 'disappeared' online at many places including Newsweek and of course the copy I got in October had been recycled for many months). What was different was that the rest of the news media including newspapers covered Ishikoff's break out of the pack mentality.

I know that Washington Post owns Newsweek now, but still Newsweek is a news magazine, not a newspaper. Did Ishikoff get his info from a newspaper? Maybe our fascination with what he was saying blinded us, but I don't think any paper was covering what he reported until he reported it.

Then the whole mainstream news media felt free to expose whatever they could for a couple of months until the Bush administration started the drum beats to war. And for some reason the mainstream news media reported for duty again. What was that about. We had seen through their lying and posturing. What made you news people think that the WW2 posture would be the best one to take in the run up to such a war.

You were the people with the goods, and though you did report on the Bush administration's lies -- both the Post and (so I hear) the New York Times ran reports on the disproof of the Bush administrations assertions and "wink wink" implications that Saddam had WMDs and ties to terrorists. The Post admitted it had stuffed things down deep in the printed copy. I found things from the post online, and at that time mostly from links from forums (actually more formidable than blogs, but they get little attention from the media) so I wasn't cognizant of whether they were stuffed or not. I do know that latest big breaking news on Cheney's misdeeds was indeed the online equivalent of stuffed. It was down in the small print links and even at that the important part wasn't in the bold text. Some irrevelant name was there, and the title it should have had was in normal print. Now I can't find the report from searching for Cheney at all here. A Google News search shows that the New York Times and the Boston Globe still have a report up on that issue so what gives? I know it might have been a news service report that your paper printed, but they usually disappear in 2 weeks, and it hasn't been 2 weeks since the report appeared.

Mainstream journalists still have this image of themselves as heroes that they assumed around the time of the Clinton impeachment, when they broke so much "big time news". Interestingly, an AP report did go out somewhere in the middle that showed much of the impeachment 'breaks' had actually come from news releases and 'leaks' from the RNC.

Yet, the mainstream news people were being hailed as some kind of heroes.

Meanwhile they forgot to report a fact that all Washington knew. That Newt Gingrich, the leader of the impeachment group, had been living for years with a woman who was not his wife and who had been Mr. Gingrich's aide when they met and presumably when they took up the relationship outside his marriage to another woman. We had to wait until the divorce before we learned those details. Guiliani was also in a open relationship to an aide outside his marriage while he was coming down heavily on Clinton, but again America had to wait until a divorce to learn about that.

And speaking of Guiliani, the presention of the man who helped al Qaeda kill at least hundreds of more people in New York on 9/11 as a hero by mainstream news, is one of the most vile acts in yellow journalism.

Second in line is the presentation of John McCain as an alternative to the Bush cabal for 2008 but I digress. (Scroll down to McCain's spot on the list at the link.)

Newspapers are the most vulnerable to effects of the harm that has been done to the middle class. They are expensive. Compare under $50 a year for newsweek to $216 for a daily paper (which I do take). It takes time to read news rather than just listening to the TV or radio version while making dinner, cleaning the house or even at work. That is why the holidays are a good time for the Bush administration to pass their version of their policies and new programs. Last year the 'new program' was the terrorist screenings at airports. This year it is the border 'security' while the Bush administration works to get passed a plan to open potentially every middle class job in America to "our friends" from across the border.

And on what side are the newspapers coming down on? From what I've read in editorials and columns, firmly on the side for flooding our middle class jobs and communities with more immigrants.

Talk about last throes. Welcome to economic Darwinism.

Or stand by your 'friends' in the real middle class and they may be able to stand by you. It's a bit late in the game, but there still might be time.

Last Throes

Friday, December 02, 2005

Adios Nastios. USAID chief resigns

USAID Chief Natsios ResignsMuted Support for GOP Change GrowsMilitary Says It Paid Iraq Papers for NewsGonzales Defends Approval of Texas Redistricting by Justice
From article:
Natsios said the offer from Georgetown, where he and his son attended, was "too tempting for me."
Democratic Lawmakers Splinter on Iraq
Son says "No!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"Feb. 4 Elections In New Orleans Are Postponed Alito Distances Himself From 1985 Memos
Is there anything worse than having your parent work at the university you go to? White House: Death Penalty Deters Crime Bush Optimistic on Economy, Greenspan More Reserved GOP Official Urges Caution on Immigrants

On World AIDS Day, Bush Touts His Relief Program FEMA Pulls Out of Lower Ninth
Some information on Andrew S. Nastios:

Lab Animal Violations Decried
Buffalo Report notes that Nastios joined a core group under Roger Noriega to make a propaganda document on the possibility of regime change in Cuba. Another notable member was former SOS Colin Powell, so the next time our friend Colin, claims he was just an innocent dupe on Feb 5, 2003, you might want to note that his later actions would tend to disprove his assertions.Pirro Won"t Drop Senate Race Vs. Clinton USAID Chief Resigns to Join Faculty at Georgetown
Let see now, former Representative Cunningham is convicted of bribery for possibly promoting businesses for use in the nation's war on terror and counterterrorism based on how much he was paid.10 Marines Killed in Fallujah Blast Report Accuses EPA of Slanting Analysis La. Gov Agrees to Postpone Feb. ElectionsBomb Threats Empty Conn. Courthouses
We don't have any money lines on the cooked evidence on Iraq or the above mentioned report on Cuba, but the result is the same. Cooked evidence, printed propaganda pretending it's insightful, balanced, thinking on Cuba, but involving no one but administration insiders. It's still going to hurt our nation. Really that's the danger of bribery, that our nation's leaders will make bad decisions.30-Year Mortgage Rates Fall to 6.26%Abuse Found in China PrisonsAbuse Found in China Prisons
So cooked intelligence really is the moral equivalent of bribery.10 Marines Killed in Fallujah Blast China Fires Environment Agency Chief Over Handling of Toxic Spill
Some one alert the Congress, please. Rice to Go on Offense Over Secret Prisons Leaving Najaf, One Step at a TimeWinner Is Least of It in Moscow City Election

Chilean Court Refuses to Release Pinochet Spanish, Vietnamese Signs Cited In Unusually Safe Year on Potomac
Buzzle.com has a copy of a UK Guardian report that starts off:
Andrew Natsios, head of the US Agency for International Development, set out last week to counter accusations that $600 million worth of contracts for reconstruction in Iraq that he is to award to US companies, some with strong Republican links, were examples of cronyism.
Grandma Gets Her Game On

'If you need a surgeon, a lawn service, a real estate agent or a college, you seek out the names with the reputation for quality and the ability to get the job done,' he said. Strange, then, that a front-runner is construction giant Bechtel, whose record in managing America's biggest public works project has been, by most accounts, disastrous. Only last week, Bechtel's record in managing the 'Big Dig', a £14.8bn project to burrow a highway under Boston, was criticised at a public hearing in the city.Low Ridership MARC Stations
Bail Set for Newborn Murderer
The project dates back to 1985, when it was costed at $3.5bn. Severe complications mean it will be completed only next year, and last week's hearings were about who was to blame - the state or private contractors, led by Bechtel and New York-based Parsons Brinckerhoff.Plan to Preserve Va. Farm Falls ShortFour Dead Overnight No Excuses
Natsios should know all about this: in fact, he was invited to give evidence but said he was too busy 'directing the relief and construction effort in Iraq'. The reason for the invitation was that between 2000 and 2001 he was chief executive of the Massachusetts Turnpike Authority, the organisation with responsibility for the Big Dig.
Politics of GreenAmtrakClimate in MontrealPlanted Propaganda

Hickey"s ClosedStrategy for Iraq
Taxpayers for Common Sense says in ol. VIII No. 51-- December 19, 2003
Coal kudos should also go out to Donald Rumsfeld and the administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development [(USAID)], Andrew Nastios for their efforts in drastically downplaying the costs of the Iraq War and Reconstruction. Ad nauseam, Rumsfeld ridiculed anyone who tried to come up with estimates on the real costs of the war (many of which were strikingly on target) and Nastios claimed earlier this year that U.S. taxpayers would not have to pay more than $1.7 billion to reconstruct Iraq -- which is akin to predicting that the Chicago Bears will win the Super Bowl. The price tag of the two Iraq spending bills brings the current tab to $166 billion and we are still counting.
No Abortion Showdown Cap the District"s Debt A Slick of Lies
Junkyard Dogs of War The Duke of D.C.

Vatican Retreat on Homosexuality Business As Usual
and Moral Volcano says:
Progress -- Mideast No Special Break for Tookie Politics of Punishment
USAID does take part in AIDS relief but the amounts spent are nowhere near what the lucky citizens of Israel or Ukraine get. Under Andrew Nastios, the USAID has favoured prevention than cure. It has simply refused to spend money on antiretroviral treatment. Instead, it has programs that promotes "abstinence, faithfulness and the use of condoms." Nastios opined that Africans "don't know what Western time is" and thus cannot take antiretroviral drugs on time. According to Mr. Natsios, the problem is not with delivering antiretrovirals but that "there are no roads, or the roads are so poor." Lack of roads have not stopped American prospectors from rummaging Third World countries for minerals but delivering drugs, yes, that's a problem. He has also offered new medical evidence that antiretroviral drugs are "extremely toxic," so that as many as "forty percent of people... who are HIV positive do not take the drugs... because they get so sick from the drugs that they cannot survive."
Dreaming Big to Keep America RollingFirefox Web Browser Cingular Walkie-Talkie Phone Service to Compete With Nextel"s Danaher Unit to Buy Visual Networks Video Phones Offer Face Time, Even if Consumers Aren"t Ready Shaken & Stirred by "Mori"

Bush Wanted in McLennan Co, Texas--for jury duty.

The authorities of McLennan County, Texas, will have to wait a little bit longer before juror number 286 reports for service.Verizon to Offer Service for Cell Phones Interactive Mobile TV Test Is Planned
County officials posted a jury summons to President George W Bush at 43 Chapel Ranch Road, the address of his Texas ranch, last month.Intel to Build Second Plant in Israel

But the White House said yesterday that Mr Bush was too busy with affairs of state to appear in court on Monday and would have to "reschedule".
Fearful Messagers Cross Their Thumbs Foam Cracks May Delay Shuttle LaunchREVIEW: Latest iMac Offers Remote Control
Cough cough. Do they think he's actually running the country? I don't know about your county, but in mine you have to prove financial hardship from leaving your job before you get let off.Deadly Hospital Germ Is Spreading in U.S. Problem Found With Potential ADHD PatchDown the Hatch, Then What?
Sure he'll miss his 4 hours of bike riding and all that posing in other people's clothes like flight suits, and made in Mexico Immigration officials' jackets, but we all have to make sacrifices. WHO Stops Hiring Smokers
Nations Promote Awareness on AIDS Day Steroids Detected In Dietary Tablets
Bush too busy to report for jury dutyA Dig Into Jerusalem"s Past Fuels Present-Day Debates Japanese May Lose Hayabusa SpacecraftDeep-Water Currents Slowing, Report Says Darwin Under the Microscope: The Origin of the Man and His Theory WHO"s Flu Strike Force Plans for the Worst Case Bush"s Space Plan in Danger Chavez Pushes Petro-Diplomacy

Gen. William Odom ret.:Want stability in the Middle East? Get out of Iraq!

In his last piece for NiemanWatchdog.org, retired Gen. William Odom argued that all the terrible things the Bush administration says would happen if we pulled our troops out of Iraq are happening already. In a new postscript, Odom writes that the converse is true as well: Bush says he wants to bring democracy and stability to the greater Middle East -- but in fact the only way to achieve that goal is to get out of Iraq now.

Major problems reported in electronic voting machines

Quickies 12/1-2/05

Well, said Mr. Kinsley Corruption and politiciansPapers Energize Alito's Critics No Special Break for TookieAnonymous Sources And a Known Quantity

A Pox on Both Parties
U.S. Builds Stockpile of Vaccine for Flu PandemicThe Abortion Argument We Missed
No that's not possible. The Republicans in the US Congress assured us that no one would make Flu vaccine for the newly deadly bird flu unless Americans first gave up their medical rights. See this report.WPwp

There they go again at the Washington Post. Exposing another scandal. Do they think they're journalists or something? (Thank goodness somebody has real gonads these days.)Gaps in Bush's PlanLocal Tie to Baghdad Blast Shocks Belgium
Justice Staff Saw Texas Districting As IllegalBush Presents Plan to Win Iraq WarSemantic Dispute Cancels N. Korea, Treasury Meeting
So the Bush buddies rubber stamped DeLay's illegal redistricting.Bush Delivers Remarks on World AIDS DayPeres Quits Labor, Endorses Sharon
Why is that not a surprise?E.U. Seeks Details On Secret CIA JailsWoman in France Receives World's First Face Transplantwp
the redistricting plan illegally diluted black and Hispanic voting power in two congressional districts. It also said the plan eliminated several other districts in which minorities had a substantial, though not necessarily decisive, influence in elections.
Deadly Hospital Germ Is Spreading in U.S.Democratic Lawmakers Splinter on IraqSchwarzenegger Promotes a Democrat

GOP Official Urges Caution on Immigrants
Do you believe Alito was only a little attached to Vanguard as the Bush administration assured us? Think again.A Chip Off the Old BlocCorzine May Tap Minority for Senate Seat
Supreme Court nominee Samuel A. Alito Jr. has hundreds of thousands of dollars invested in stocks, money market funds and mutual funds, many of them handled by Vanguard, the company at the center of a conflict-of-interest complaint leveled by some of his opponents.

Alito, an appellate court judge for 15 years, has money invested in more than a dozen Vanguard funds, according to his financial disclosure report for 2004, released yesterday by the Senate Judiciary Committee.


When Alito was named to the appellate court in 1990, he told the Senate he would not rule in cases involving Vanguard, to avoid any possible conflict of interest. But in 2002, he ruled in a routine case that benefited Vanguard. When the losing party complained, Alito recused himself, and another panel of judges reheard the case and again ruled in Vanguard's favor.
Firm Noted in Complaint Directs Alito Investments

Read Alito's laundry list of excuses.

Bush has found another Kerik type personality.