Wednesday, January 26, 2005

We’re All Going To Die…Soon.

I saw this Independent article reprinted on Common Dreams and thought it deserved a reprint.

Global Warming Approaching Point of No Return, Warns Leading Climate Expert
by Geoffrey Lean

Global warning has already hit the danger point that international attempts to curb it are designed to avoid, according to the world's top climate watchdog.

Dr Rajendra Pachauri, the chairman of the official Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), told an international conference attended by 114 governments in Mauritius this month that he personally believes that the world has “already reached the level of dangerous concentrations of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere” and called for immediate and “very deep” cuts in the pollution if humanity is to “survive”.

His comments rocked the Bush administration - which immediately tried to slap him down - not least because it put him in his post after Exxon, the major oil company most opposed to international action on global warming, complained that his predecessor was too “aggressive” on the issue. A memorandum from Exxon to the White House in early 2001 specifically asked it to get the previous chairman, Dr Robert Watson, the chief scientist of the World Bank, “replaced at the request of the US”. The Bush administration then lobbied other countries in favor of Dr. Pachauri - whom the former vice-president Al Gore called the “let's drag our feet” candidate, and got him elected to replace Dr Watson, a British-born naturalized American, who had repeatedly called for urgent action.

But this month, at a conference of Small Island Developing States on the Indian Ocean island, the new chairman, a former head of India's Tata Energy Research Institute, himself issued what top United Nations officials described as a “very courageous” challenge.

He told delegates: “Climate change is for real. We have just a small window of opportunity and it is closing rather rapidly. There is not a moment to lose.”

Afterwards he told The Independent on Sunday that widespread dying of coral reefs, and rapid melting of ice in the Arctic, had driven him to the conclusion that the danger point the IPCC had been set up to avoid had already been reached.

Reefs throughout the world are perishing as the seas warm up: as water temperatures rise, they lose their colors and turn a ghostly white. Partly as a result, up to a quarter of the world's corals have been destroyed.

And in November, a multi-year study by 300 scientists concluded that the Arctic was warming twice as fast as the rest of the world and that its ice-cap had shrunk by up to 20 per cent in the past three decades.

The ice is also 40 per cent thinner than it was in the 1970s and is expected to disappear altogether by 2070. And while Dr Pachauri was speaking parts of the Arctic were having a January “heat wave” with temperatures eight to nine degrees centigrade higher than normal.
He also cited alarming measurements, first reported in The Independent on Sunday, showing that levels of carbon dioxide (the main cause of global warming) have leapt abruptly over the past two years, suggesting that climate change may be accelerating out of control.

He added that, because of inertia built into the Earth's natural systems, the world was now only experiencing the result of pollution emitted in the 1960s, and much greater effects would occur as the increased pollution of later decades worked its way through. He concluded: “We are risking the ability of the human race to survive.”

Bush’s Latest Critic: The Pentagon…Again.

A secret Pentagon report warns that global warming is more of a threat to the world than terrorism. The report’s findings suggest that:
· Future wars will be fought over the issue of survival rather than religion, ideology or national honor.
· By 2007 violent storms smash coastal barriers rendering large parts of the Netherlands inhabitable. Cities like The Hague are abandoned. In California the delta island levees in the Sacramento river area are breached, disrupting the aqueduct system transporting water from north to south.
· Between 2010 and 2020 Europe is hardest hit by climatic change with an average annual temperature drop of 6F. Climate in Britain becomes colder and drier as weather patterns begin to resemble Siberia.
· Deaths from war and famine run into the millions until the planet's population is reduced by such an extent the Earth can cope.
· Riots and internal conflict tear apart India, South Africa and Indonesia.
· Access to water becomes a major battleground. The Nile, Danube and Amazon are all mentioned as being high risk.
· A 'significant drop' in the planet's ability to sustain its present population will become apparent over the next 20 years.
· Rich areas like the US and Europe would become 'virtual fortresses' to prevent millions of migrants from entering after being forced from land drowned by sea-level rise or no longer able to grow crops. Waves of boatpeople pose significant problems.
· Nuclear arms proliferation is inevitable. Japan, South Korea, and Germany develop nuclear-weapons capabilities, as do Iran, Egypt and North Korea. Israel, China, India and Pakistan also are poised to use the bomb.
· By 2010 the US and Europe will experience a third more days with peak temperatures above 90F. Climate becomes an 'economic nuisance' as storms, droughts and hot spells create havoc for farmers.
· More than 400m people in subtropical regions at grave risk.
· Europe will face huge internal struggles as it copes with massive numbers of migrants washing up on its shores. Immigrants from Scandinavia seek warmer climes to the south. Southern Europe is beleaguered by refugees from hard-hit countries in Africa.
· Mega-droughts affect the world's major breadbaskets, including America's Midwest, where strong winds bring soil loss.
· China's huge population and food demand make it particularly vulnerable. Bangladesh becomes nearly uninhabitable because of a rising sea level, which contaminates the inland water supplies.

The Next Great Depression Is Right Around The Corner.

What happens when you produce too little and borrow too much? You crash. China and Japan has been buying massive amounts of US bonds in order to let us borrow from them in order to buy their goods. Central Banks are cutting back on their dollar holdings an replacing them with the more stable euro. OPEC has cut it’s dollars holdings from 75% to 61.5% in the last three years. What happens when the dollar is no longer wanted by anyone? It becomes worthless. That means everything we consume will be become more expensive. In order to make the dollar investments more appealing to foreign investment interest rates have to raise, some predict as high as double digits. That will cause US real estate’s bubble to burst, with too many foreclosing. This can happen at any time, so if you were planning on a trip to London or Paris, do it now.

U.S. Falls Behind The Civilized World Again.

A new study has found that the US is ranked 45th in the most environmentally stable countries in the world. Finland, Norway, Uruguay, Sweden, Iceland, Canada, Switzerland, Guyana, Argentina, and Austria all beat out the United States in environmental stability.

The Crisis That Doesn’t Exist: The Republican View.

The Republican chair of the House Ways and Means Committee Bill Thomas questioned on Meet the Press Bush’s view that social security was in crisis. Republican Senator Olympia Snow of Maine said she opposes the high cost of $1-2 trillion to switch to private accounts. Meanwhile the senior lobby group the AARP has come out in full opposition of the privation plan.

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

U.S. Claims Canadians Can Be Tortured To Protect National Security.

The U.S. government is attempting to dismiss a lawsuit brought by Maher Arar, a Canadian citizen, claiming the litigation would jeopardize national security. Two years ago Arar was detained in New York and secretly deported to Syria where he was tortured.

Rumsfeld Runs Away From War Crimes.

Donald Rumsfeld has cancelled a trip for an upcoming conference in Germany to avoid being charged with war crimes. The Center for Constitutional Rights filed a compliant accusing Rumsfeld of war crimes in a German court because German law allows for the trail of war crimes regardless of where those crimes took place.

Allawi Nearly Dies…Again.

In Baghdad an explosion went off next to the political headquarters of Iraqi Prime Minister Iyad Allawi. The explosion injured at least 10 people, less than a week before the January 30th Iraqi elections.

The Brits Wanna Go Home.

The Daily Telegraph of London has reported that the British government is urging the Bush administration to announce a time table for withdrawal from Iraq. The New York Times has reported that after the elections, Iraqi officials are expected to ask for the same.

Gonzalez Stonewalls The Senate.

The Senate Judiciary Committee has postponed affirming Attorney General nominee Roberto Gonzales. Democrats have accused Gonzales of stonewalling their questions on the torture of the Abu Ghraib detainees. Gonzales stated the words “I am not at liberty to disclose” 10 times, “I do not recall” and “I have no recollection” six times, and “I have no present knowledge” seven times.

Bush’s Disapproval Ratings.

A poll conducted by the New York Times shows Bush’s approval rating to be 49%. Bush is entering his second term with the lowest approval ratings in the last 50 years. Both President Clinton and Reagan started off their second terms with approval ratings at 60% or higher. A LA Times poll has found that 75% of Americans feel that Bush’s coronation should be scaled back because of the costs of the Iraq War and the tsunami disaster in southeast Asia.

Sunday, January 23, 2005

Americans Shut Out, Money Bags Let In.

During the coronation of George W. Bush, Republicans received the best seats in the house for their “donations.” Those “generous people” who contributed to Bush’s frat party include: CheveronTexaco, Exxon Mobil Corporation, Lockheed Martin Corporation, Northrop Grumman, Occidental Petroleum Corporation, and The Boeing Company. And Bush didn’t go to war to take Iraq’s oil?

Despite freezing weather 10,000 peace activists protested the coronation along Pennsylvania Ave., and thousands more were held back by the Secret Service. C-Span ran coverage of the protests for over 4 hours. The A.N.S.W.E.R. Coalition has announced another protest to take place on March 19th, 2005, marking the second year since the Iraq War began.

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

CIA Employee Sued For War Crimes.

Former Haitian death squad leader, Emmanuel Constant, who is now living in New York City, has been sued by three Haitian women, accusing him of crimes against humanity and the systematic use of violence to women to terrorize the Haitian people. Constant was the leader of FRAPH, who between 1991 and 1994 killed thousands of Haitian supporters of President Jean Bertrand Aristide. Constant has admitted that he was on the payroll of the CIA at the time.

US Solder Convicted For Abu Ghraib Torture.

Charles Graner, an Army reservist was sentenced to ten years in a military prison for torturing detainees at Abu Ghraib. Graner claims that he was ordered to abuse the detainees. To date, none of Graner’s superior officers have been charged for any crime. Military contractors CACI International and Titan, both of whom have been linked to the Abu Ghraib torture scandal, have been awarded new military contracts of $16 million and $164 million.

Chinese Hostages Taken.

In Baghdad eight Chinese hostages has been taken. Iraqi militants have released a video showing the hostages, and has threatened to kill them in 48 hours unless China clarifies its role in Iraq.

Iraq Prepares For “Elections”.

At the end of the month Iraq will be holding elections, however it is unclear how viable those elections will be. Most candidates have not publicly announced their candidacy and are not campaigning because of security concerns. The locations of polling places are being kept secret to prevent them from being attacked, however it is unclear how the people will know where to vote. The election commission in Iraq is considering banning all vehicles from being on the road on election day, and Iraqi officials have decided to close all of Iraq’s borders three days before the election.

Senator Boxer Rips Condi A New One.

In yesterdays confirmation hearings Senator Barbara Boxer proved Secretary of State nominee Condoleeza Rice to be a bald face liar, by quoting Condi herself. Senator Boxer showed that on July 30th, 2003 on PBS’s News Hour that Condi said, “It was a case that said he was trying to reconstitute. He's trying to acquire nuclear weapons. Nobody ever said that it was going to be the next year.” Yet on October 10th, 2004 on Fox News Sunday Condi said, “The intelligence assessment was that he was reconstituting his nuclear program; that, left unchecked, he would have a nuclear weapon by the end of the year.” To which Condi responded, “Senator, we can have this discussion in any way that you would like. But I really hope that you will refrain from impugning my integrity. Thank you very much.”

Next Stop: Iran.

Seymour Hersh is reporting in the New Yorker magazine that the Pentagon is secretly sending in troops to Iran to scout possible military targets. According to Hersh the Bush administration has authorized the Pentagon to send secret commando forces into eastern Iran from Afghanistan to possibly carry out combat operations or terrorist attacks.

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Bush’s Latest Critic: The Pentagon…Again.

A second report by a key Pentagon advisory group has blamed the Bush administration for the pre-war planning failures in the invasion of Iraq. The Defense Science Board has released a 220 page report, entitled “Transition To And From Hostilities” which criticized top administration officials for underestimating the number of troops needed to stabilize Iraq. The report states that ”(W)e believe that more people are needed in-theater for stabilization and reconstruction operations than for combat operations.” The report based its conclusion on US military interventions over the years, and concluded that in “disordered societies, with ambitious goals involving lasting cultural change, may require 20 troops per 1000 indigenous people.” Our current levels in Iraq is 150,000 troops, only 6 per 1000 Iraqis. The number of troops required for such a stabilization would be roughly 500,000 troops.

Monday, January 17, 2005

Louisiana National Guard Defies Pentagon.

The Louisiana National Guard has allowed a CBS news crew to film the arrival of six soldiers’ coffins at the Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base in Belle Chasse, Louisiana. Lieutenant-Colonel Pete Schneider told CBS “What we thought was, we're going to do what the family asked us to do.” The six soldiers, all of which had served in the Louisiana National Guard died last Thursday after their vehicle hit a roadside bomb in Baghdad.

ACLU Backs Justice Department Whistle Blower.

The American Civil Liberties Union has backed FBI whistle blower Sibel Edmonds. Sibel Edmonds was hired by the FBI after 9-11 to translate intelligence tapes that led up to the terrorist attack. Edmonds charges that the FBI knew that Al Qaeda was planning to attack the U.S. with airplanes. Edmonds was fired from the FBI, after she went public with her charges. The ACLU has urged the DC Court of Appeals to reinstate Edmond’s case, based on that the government is abusing the “state secrets privilege” to silence whistle blowers.

The Wisdom Of Doctor King.

Dr. Martin Luther King's words ring just as true today as they did so many years ago. Dr. King said something, a year to the day before he died, describing the Civil Rights movement, that rings just as true today in the United States, as well as in Iraq.

“Those who make peaceful revolution impossible, make violent revolution inevitable.”

And what might have Dr. King thought of the Bush Administration? Judge for yourself.

“True compassion is more than just flinging a coin to a beggar. It is not hap-hazard and superficial. It comes to see that an edifice which produces beggars need restructuring. A true revolution of values will soon look uneasily on the glaring contrast of poverty and wealth. With righteous indignation they will look across the seas and see individual capitalists of the West investing huge sums of money in Asia, Africa, and South America only to take the profits out with no concern for the social betterment of those countries and say THIS IS NOT JUST. They will look at our alliance with the land of Gentry with Latin America and say THIS IS NOT JUST. The Western arrogance of feeling that it has everything to teach others and nothing to learn from them IS NOT JUST. A true revolution of values will lay hands on the World Order and say of war this way of settling differences IS NOT JUST. This business of burning human beings with napalm, of filling our nation's homes with orphans and widows, of injecting poisonous drugs of hate into veins of people normally humane, of sending men home from dark and bloody battlefields physically handicapped and psychologically deranged cannot be reconciled with wisdom, justice, and love. A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death.”

-Dr. Martin Luther King, April 4th, 1967.

Sunday, January 16, 2005

What If One Of Your Loved Ones Died In Vain?

This is a piece by Dante Zappala, a part time school teacher, whose brother died in Iraq. Please take the time to read what he wrote a few days ago in the LA Times.

U.S. Implicated In The Oil For Food Scandal.

A joint investigation by the Financial Times and the Italian business daily Il Sole 24 Ore, has found evidence that single largest smuggling operation in the oil-for-food scandal was conducted with the knowledge of the US government.

The operation consisted of 14 tankers engaged by a Jordanian entity to load 7 million barrels of oil for $150 million dollars, a third of which went to Iraqi government officials under the Saddam Hussein regime.

The Financial Times and Il Sole 24 Ore has evidence that US and British officials was informed of the smuggling while it was taking place, and permitted it to happen, so that Jordan could build up its oil reserves in the expectation of the Iraq War.

Paul Volcker, the UN official heading up the independent commission to investigate the oil-for-food scandal has confirmed that the US allowed violations of the oil sanctions by Jordan.

Saturday, January 15, 2005

Wal-Mart’s Public Image.

In an effort to save its public image, Wal-Mart has launched a public relations strategy. Wal-Mart ran ads in over a hundred newspapers across the country saying critics have been spreading misinformation about the company. A House Education and the Workforce Committee report has found that over 100 unfair labor practice charges have been lodged against Wal-Mart in recent years. The US government has issued 60 complaints against Wal-Mart at the National Labor Relations Board.

Bush Administration Official Calls Propaganda An “Outreach Effort.”

Roderick Paige, the Secretary of Education, defended paying right-wing pundit Armstrong Williams $240,000 of taxpayer money to promote Bush’s No Child Left Behind education reform law. Paige called the payment an “outreach effort.” Democratic Senators has asked the Department of Education to turn over relevant records of the case to investigate if they violated a federal ban on spending taxpayer money for propaganda purposes. Jonathan Adelstein, a Federal Communications Commissioner, said that the FCC should investigate whether Williams broke the law as well by his actions.

Human Rights Watch Says Bush Is Eroding Human Rights.

Kenneth Roth, the executive director of Human Rights Watch said in its annual report that the Bush administration is eroding human rights around the world by mistreating prisoners at Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay and by ignoring international law. Human Rights Watch has also called on the Bush administration to set up an independent commission to investigate those human rights violations.

Democrats Call For A Pull Out.

Rep. Lynn Woolsey (D-CA) and fifteen other Democrats in the House of Representatives have called for an immediate pull out of US troops from Iraq. The Democrats said in a letter “By removing our troops from the country, we will remove the main focus of the insurgents’ rage.”

It Is Still Worth It.

Despite that the US has officially stopped looking for Iraq’s WMDs, concluding that they didn’t have any, George Bush in an ABC interview with Barbara Walters said that the war in Iraq was “absolutely” worth it.

Home Sweet Haven.

The National Intelligence Council for the CIA has released a new report that has found that the new training ground for the next generation of professional terrorists is no longer in Afghanistan, but Iraq. Iraq is now the leading training ground for terrorists seeking “jihad.”

Saturday, January 08, 2005

Notice Of Revocation Of The Declaration Of Independence.

To the citizens of the United States of America, In the light of your failure to elect a competent President of the USA and thus to govern yourselves, we hereby give notice of the revocation of your independence, effective today. Her Sovereign Majesty Queen Elizabeth II will resume monarchical duties over all states, commonwealths and other territories. Except Utah, which she does not fancy.

Your new prime minister (The Right Honourable Tony Blair, MP for the 97.85% of you who have until now been unaware that there is a world outside your borders) will appoint a minister for America without the need for further elections. Congress and the Senate will be disbanded. A questionnaire will be circulated next year to determine whether any of you noticed. To aid in the transition to a British Crown Dependency, the following rules are introduced with immediate effect:

1. You should look up “revocation” in the Oxford English Dictionary. Then look up “aluminium”. Check the pronunciation guide. You will be amazed at just how wrongly you have been pronouncing it. The letter ‘U’ will be reinstated in words such as ‘favour’ and ‘neighbour’, skipping the letter ‘U’ is nothing more than laziness on your part. Likewise, you will learn to spell ‘doughnut’ without skipping half the letters. You will end your love affair with the letter ‘Z’ (pronounced ‘zed’ not ‘zee‘) and the suffix “ize” will be replaced by the suffix “ise”. You will learn that the suffix ‘burgh’ is pronounced ‘burra’ e.g. Edinburgh. You are welcome to respell Pittsburgh as ‘Pittsberg’ if you can't cope with correct pronunciation. Generally, you should raise your vocabulary to acceptable levels. Look up “vocabulary”. Using the same twenty seven words interspersed with filler noises such as “like” and “you know” is an unacceptable and inefficient form of communication. Look up “interspersed”. There will be no more ‘bleeps’ in the Jerry Springer show. If you're not old enough to cope with bad language then you shouldn't have chat shows. When you learn to develop your vocabulary then you won't have to use bad language as often.

2. There is no such thing as “US English”. We will let Microsoft know on your behalf. The Microsoft spell-checker will be adjusted to take account of the reinstated letter ‘U’ and the elimination of “-ize”.

3. You should learn to distinguish the English and Australian accents. It really isn’t that hard. English accents are not limited to cockney, upper-class twit or Mancunian (Daphne in Frasier). You will also have to learn how to understand regional accents - Scottish dramas such as “Taggart” will no longer be broadcast with subtitles. While we're talking about regions, you must learn that there is no such place as Devonshire in England. The name of the county is “Devon”. If you persist in calling it Devonshire, all American States will become “shires” e.g. Texasshire, Floridashire, Louisianashire.

4. Hollywood will be required occasionally to cast English actors as the good guys. Hollywood will be required to cast English actors to play English characters. British sit-coms such as “Men Behaving Badly” or “Red Dwarf” will not be re-cast and watered down for a wishy-washy American audience who can’t cope with the humour of occasional political incorrectness.

5. You should relearn your original national anthem, “God Save The Queen”, but only after fully carrying out task 1. We would not want you to get confused and give up half way through.

6. You should stop playing American “football”. There is only one kind of football. What you refer to as American “football” is not a very good game. The 2.15% of you who are aware that there is a world outside your borders may have noticed that no one else plays “American” football. You will no longer be allowed to play it, and should instead play proper football. Initially, it would be best if you played with the girls. It is a difficult game. Those of you brave enough will, in time, be allowed to play rugby (which is similar to American “football”, but does not involve stopping for a rest every twenty seconds or wearing full kevlar body armour like nancies). We are hoping to get together at least a US Rugby sevens side by 2005. You should stop playing baseball. It is not reasonable to host an event called the ‘World Series’ for a game which is not played outside of America. Since only 2.15% of you are aware that there is a world beyond your borders, your error is understandable. Instead of baseball, you will be allowed to play a girls’ game called “rounders” which is baseball without fancy team strip, oversized gloves, collector cards or hotdogs.

7. You will no longer be allowed to own or carry guns. You will no longer be allowed to own or carry anything more dangerous in public than a vegetable peeler. Because we don't believe you are sensible enough to handle potentially dangerous items, you will require a permit if you wish to carry a vegetable peeler in public.

8. July 4th is no longer a public holiday. November 2nd will be a new national holiday, but only in England. It will be called “Indecisive Day”.

9. All American cars are hereby banned. They are crap and it is for your own good. When we show you German cars, you will understand what we mean. All road intersections will be replaced with roundabouts. You will start driving on the left with immediate effect. At the same time, you will go metric with immediate effect and without the benefit of conversion tables. Roundabouts and metrication will help you understand the British sense of humour.

10. You will learn to make real chips. Those things you call French fries are not real chips. Fries aren’t even French, they are Belgian though 97.85% of you (including the guy who discovered fries while in Europe) are not aware of a country called Belgium. Those things you insist on calling potato chips are properly called “crisps”. Real chipsare thick cut and fried in animal fat. The traditional accompaniment to chips is beer which should be served warm and flat. Waitresses will be trained to be more aggressive with customers.

11. As a sign of penance 5 grams of sea salt per cup will be added to all tea made within the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, this quantity to be doubled for tea made within the city of Boston itself.

12. The cold tasteless stuff you insist on calling beer is not actually beer at all, it is lager. From November 1st only proper British Bitter will be referred to as “beer”, and European brews of known and accepted provenance will be referred to as “Lager”. The substances formerly known as “American Beer” will henceforth be referred to as “Near-Frozen Knat’s Urine”, with the exception of the product of the American Budweiser company whose product will be referred to as “Weak Near-Frozen Knat’s Urine”. This will allow true Budweiser (as manufactured for the last 1000 years in Pilsen, Czech Republic) to be sold without risk of confusion.

13. From November 10th the UK will harmonise petrol (or “Gasoline” as you will be permitted to keep calling it until April 1st 2005) prices with the former USA. The UK will harmonise its prices to those of the former USA and the Former USA will, in return, adopt UK petrol prices (roughly $6/US gallon - get used to it).

14. You will learn to resolve personal issues without using guns, lawyers or therapists. The fact that you need so many lawyers and therapists shows that you're not adult enough to be independent. Guns should only be handled by adults. If you’re not adult enough to sort things out without suing someone or speaking to a therapist then you're not grown up enough to handle a gun.

15. Please tell us who killed JFK. It's been driving us crazy. Tax collectors from Her Majesty’s Government will be with you shortly to ensure the acquisition of all revenues due (backdated to 1776).

16. Last but not the least, and for heaven's’s Nuclear as in “clear” NOT Nucular.

Thank you for your co-operation and have a great day.

John Cleese

Friday, January 07, 2005

If You Can’t Beat Them, Pay Them.

According to a recently revealed Freedom of Information Act request obtained by USA Today, The Bush Administration paid $240,000 to Afro-American conservative pundit Armstrong Williams to promote Bush’s No Child Left Behind education reform act. Representative George Miller (D-CA), the top Democrat on the House Education Committee, said it was “a very questionable use of taxpayers’ money” and that it is “probably illegal.”

What’s Good For The Goose Is Good For The Ghraib.

Vanity Fair is reporting that sexual and physical abuse continued three months after the Abu Gharib scandal broke. Interviews with former Iraqi detainees, including a 15 year old boy, reveals that U.S. soldiers sexually assaulted Iraqi prisoners. Others were hooded, beaten, or given electric shocks. One prisoner is reported to have been hung naked by handcuffs in a freezing room while soldiers threw buckets of ice water on him.

The Mess Hall Suicide Bomber Turns Out To Be A Saudi.

The attack on the US mess hall on December 21st in Mosul was done by a Saudi medical student, according to a Saudi-owned newspaper. Ahmed Said Ahmed al-Ghamdi, 20, carried out the attack that killed 14 American solders.

Thursday, January 06, 2005

Pulling Yourself Up By Your Noose-Straps.

The Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health has found that in Australia and in England, between 1901 and 1998, suicide rates have consistently gone up under conservative regimes and have gone down under liberal ones. Men were 17% more likely to take their own lives, while women were 40% more likely to do the same under a conservative government. The figures suggest that in England 35,000 people would not have died if conservatives had not been in power.

A Senator Has Signed!

Senator Barbara Boxer of California has signed to contest the Electoral College count in Ohio, citing numerous election discrepancies in that state. The House of Representatives must now debate the certification of the presidential election. The unexpected move has put Republicans on the defensive, and finally signifies that the Democratic Party has now grown a spine.

Israelis “Fertilize” Fields Of Strawberries.

Eight Palestinians have been killed, with seven wounded after an Israeli tank fired shells into the northern Gaza Strip in the town of Beit Lahva. The attack is reported to have happened around 7 a.m. as Palestinian children were on their way to school. A nearby field where farmers were harvesting strawberries, were spattered with blood and body parts. Medics at Kamal Odwan Hospital in Gaza said that eight bodies came into the hospital, including four children under the age of 17, and four farmers.

To Serve, Protect, And Beat Bloody Until Dead.

Nineteen-year-old Christopher Hernandez died at the hands of the Collier County, Florida police on the 28th of December. Officials say Hernandez attacked sheriff’s deputies, kicking and ripping their uniforms. Hernandez’s relatives say when they saw him in the emergency room he was beaten badly, his head was swollen, his eyes were red, and his arms and face had scratches from being dragged against the road.

Big Brother Is Listening.

Mohamed ElBaradei, head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, will remain head of the UN nuclear watch group, despite the White House’s desire to remove him. ElBaradei, who opposes the US occupation of Iraq, had his telephones tapped by the U.S. last month.

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

“I Would Say They Aren’t Losing.”

Iraq’s national intelligence chief, General Mohammed Abdullah Shahwani, said, “I think the resistance is bigger than the US military in Iraq. I think the resistance is more than 200,000 people.” A senior U.S. military officer was asked if he thought the insurgents were winning. He said, “I would say they aren't losing.”

The Governor of Baghdad Has Been Assassinated.

Ali al-Haidri was shot dead in a ambush in Baghdad. His armor-plated care was shot at from different directions as his convoy drove through northern Baghdad.

Indonesia’s Military Prevents Tsunami Aid Relief.

The Indonesian military has been actively preventing aid relief in Aceh, Indonesia. Acehnese human rights activists have been calling on the US to help the Acehnese people, rather than the Indonesian military. Indonesia has been the worse hit from the Tsunami, with more than 94,000 people killed.

Allawi Nearly Dies.

A large explosion ripped through Baghdad, near the headquarters of Prime Minister Iyad Allawi. With two people killed and twenty-three wounded in the explosion, the attack happened only minutes before the Iraqi National Accord was due to announce their candidates for the upcoming Iraqi election.

Sunday, January 02, 2005

“The End of Democracy” A History Lesson, Part One.

The following is from Thom Hartmann's book, “What Would Jefferson Do?” Read to the end for the surprise ending:

The end of democracy started when the government, in the midst of a worldwide economic crisis, received reports of an imminent terrorist attack. A foreign ideologue had launched feeble attacks on a few famous buildings, but the media largely ignored his efforts. The intelligence services knew, however, that the odds were he would eventually succeed. (Historians are still arguing whether or not rogue elements in the intelligence service helped the terrorist; the most recent research implies that they did not.)

But the warnings of investigators were ignored at the highest levels, in part because the government was distracted; the man who claimed to be the nation's leader had not been elected by a majority vote, and many citizens claimed he had no right to the powers he coveted. He was a simpleton, some said, a cartoon character of a man who saw things in black-and-white terms and didn't have the intellect to understand the subtleties of running a nation in a complex and internationalist world. His coarse use of language --- reflecting his political roots in a southernmost state --- and his simplistic and often-inflammatory nationalistic rhetoric offended aristocrats, foreign leaders, and the well-educated elite in the government and media. As a young man, he'd joined a secret society with an occult-sounding name and bizarre initiation rituals that involved skulls and human bones.

Nonetheless, he knew the terrorist was going to strike (although he didn't know where or when), and he had already considered his response. When an aide brought him word that the nation's most prestigious building was ablaze, he verified that it was the terrorist who had struck and then rushed to the scene and called a press conference.

“You are now witnessing the beginning of a great epoch in history,” he proclaimed, standing in front of the burned-out building, surrounded by national media. “This fire,” he said, his voice trembling with emotion, “is the beginning.” He used the occasion- “a sign from God,” he called it-to declare a war not on another nation but on a tactic: terrorism. The terrorism his country was suffering from, he said, had to have originated with a group of people of Middle Eastern origin who rationalized their acts using religion.

Two weeks later, the first detention center for terrorists was built in Oranienberg to hold suspected allies of the infamous terrorist. In a national eruption of patriotism, the leader's flag was everywhere, even printed large in newspapers suitable for window display.

Within four weeks of the terrorist attack, the nation's now-popular leader had pushed through legislation --- in the name of combating terrorism and fighting the philosophy he said spawned it --- that suspended constitutional guarantees of free speech, privacy, and habeas corpus. Police could now intercept mail and wiretap phones; suspected terrorists could be imprisoned without specific charges and without access to their lawyers; police could sneak into people's homes without warrants if the cases involved terrorism.

To get his patriotic “Decree on the Protection of People and State” passed over the objections of concerned legislators and civil libertarians, he agreed to put a four-year sunset provision on it: if the national emergency provoked by the terrorist attack was over by then, the freedoms and rights would be returned to the people, and the police agencies would be re-restrained. Legislators would later say they hadn’t had time to read the bill before voting on it.

His federal police agencies stepped up their program of arresting suspicious persons and holding them without access to lawyers or courts. In the first year only a few hundred were imprisoned, and those who objected were largely ignored by the mainstream press, which was afraid to offend and thus lose access to a leader with such high popularity ratings. Citizens who protested the leader in public --- and there were many --- quickly found themselves confronting the newly empowered police's batons, gas, and jail cells, or fenced off in protest zones safely out of earshot of the leader's public speeches. (In the meantime, he was taking almost daily lessons in public speaking, learning to control his tonality, gestures, and facial expressions. He became a very competent orator.)

Within the first months after the attack, at the suggestion of a political adviser, he brought a formerly obscure word into common usage. He wanted to stir up “racial pride” among his countrymen, so, instead of referring to the nation by its name, he began to refer to it as “the homeland,” a phrase publicly promoted by Rudolph Hess in a 1934 speech recorded in Leni Riefenstahl's famous propaganda movie Triumph of the Will. As hoped, people’s hearts swelled with pride, and the beginning of an us-versus-them mentality was sown. Our land was “the” homeland, citizens thought: all others were simply foreign lands. We are the “true people,” he suggested, the only ones worthy of our nation's concern; if bombs fall on others, or human rights are violated in other nations and it makes our lives better, it's of little concern to us.

“The End of Democracy” A History Lesson, Part Two.

Playing on this new nationalism, and exploiting a disagreement with the French over his increasing militarism, he argued that any international body that didn't act first and foremost in the best interest of his own nation was neither relevant nor useful. He withdrew his country from the League of Nations in October 1933 and then negotiated a separate naval armaments agreement with Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs Anthony Eden of the United Kingdom to create a worldwide military ruling elite.

His propaganda minister orchestrated a campaign to ensure the people that he was a deeply religious man and that his motivations were rooted in Christianity. He even proclaimed the need for a revival of the Christian faith across his nation, what he called “New Christianity.” Every man in his rapidly growing army wore a belt buckle that declared “God is with us” --- and most of them fervently believed it was true.

Within a year of the attack, the nation's leader determined that the various local police and federal agencies around the nation were lacking the communication and coordinated administration necessary to deal with the threat, particularly those citizens who were of Middle Eastern ancestry and thus considered to be probably terrorist and communist sympathizers, and various trouble-some “intellectuals” and “liberals.” He proposed a national agency to protect the security of the homeland, consolidating the actions of dozens of previously independent police, border, and investigative agencies under a single leader. He appointed one of his most trusted associates to be leader of this new agency, the Central Security Office for the homeland, and gave it a role in the government equal to the other major departments.

His assistant who dealt with the press noted that since the attack, “radio and press are at our disposal.” Those voices questioning the legitimacy of their nation's leader, or raising questions about his checkered past, had by now faded from the public’s recollection as his Central Security Office began advertising a program encouraging people to phone in tips about suspicious neighbors. This program was so successful that the names of some of the people “denounced” were soon being broadcast on radio stations. Those denounced often included opposition politicians and celebrities who dared speak out-a favorite target of his regime and the media he now controlled through intimidation and ownership by corporate allies.

To consolidate his power, he concluded that government alone wasn't enough. He reached out to industry and forged an alliance, bringing former executives of the nation's largest corporations into high government positions. A flood of government money poured into corporate coffers to fight the war against the terrorists lurking within the homeland, and to prepare for wars overseas. He encouraged large corporations friendly to him to acquire media outlets and other industrial concerns across the nation, particularly those previously owned by “suspicious” people of Middle Eastern ancestry. He built powerful alliances with industry; one corporate ally got the lucrative contract worth millions to build the first large-scale detention center for enemies of the state. Soon more would follow. Industry flourished.

But after an interval of peace following the terrorist attack, voices of dissent arose again within and without the government. Students had started an active program opposing him (later known as the White Rose Society), and leaders of nearby nations were speaking out against his bellicose rhetoric. He needed a diversion, something to direct people away from the corporate cronyism being exposed in his own government, questions of his possibly illegitimate rise to power, and the oft-voiced concerns of civil libertarians about the people being held in detention without due process or access to attorneys or family.

With his number two man --- a master at manipulating the media --- the nation's leader began a campaign to convince the nation that a small, limited war was necessary. Another nation was harboring many of the “suspicious” Middle Eastern people, and even though its connection with the terrorist who had set afire the nation’s most important building was tenuous at best, it held resources their nation badly needed if they were to have room to live and maintain their prosperity He called a press conference and delivered an ultimatum to the leader of the other nation, provoking an international uproar. He claimed the right to strike preemptively in self-defense, and nations across Europe --- at first --- denounced him for it, pointing out that it was a doctrine claimed in the past only by nations seeking worldwide empire, like Caesar's Rome or Alexander's Greece.

It took a few months, and intense international debate and lobbying with European nations, but finally a deal was struck. Thus he annexed the nation in a lightning move, riding a wave of popular support as leaders so often do in times of war. The government there was unseated and replaced by a new friendly leadership, and the invading country set up its corporations there and began to take over the resources.

In a speech responding to critics of the invasion, he said, “Certain foreign newspapers have said that we fell on Austria with brutal methods. I can only say: even in death they cannot stop lying. I have in the course of my political struggle won much love from my people, but when I crossed the former frontier there met me such a stream of love as I have never experienced. Not as tyrants have we come, but as liberators.”

-Adolf Hitler, speech in Könignsberg, March 25, 1938.