Wednesday, February 27 - BuzzFlash Media Watch Special Report: The Daily Show with Guest Michael Moore Jon then said that "In general, Dick Cheney is seen as the dark lord of energy" and uttered the word "Halliburton" which prompted Moore to state, "That one stinks even worse."
Moore started on the Dick Cheney stonewalling situation. "It's not the minutes of the meetings about screwing California. It's the meetings about the oil pipeline they had with the Taliban…this was going on last August…"
Then Moore cited the New Yorker article which questioned "why George Bush allowed the private Saudi jet to fly to 5 American cities to pick up 20 bin Laden family members" while no one else could fly for 3 days and how the FBI was upset because they couldn't interrogate any of them. Then, a week later, the New York Times reported on the Carlyle Group and the ties to the bin Laden's and how they put up the money for Bush's first company, Arbusto."
Global Eye -- Global Lie Now let's get this straight. In America, the feds can seize the records of your private book purchases -- if they're investigating a possible terrorist threat. They can haul you in for remarks you made at your local gym -- if they're investigating a possible terrorist threat. They can listen in on your private conversations with your lawyer, they can enter and search your home without telling you, they can hold you indefinitely without a charge -- if they're investigating a possible terrorist threat.
But what they cannot do, under any circumstances, is look at the records of your latest gun purchase -- if they're investigating a possible terrorist threat.
What's God Got to Do With It? Can the attorney general be trusted to protect the rights of those whose spiritual life rests outside of the Judeo-Christian tradition when he has excluded them from the ranks of civilized people? Not to split angels on the head of a pin here--or to restrict Ashcroft's hearty expressions of his Pentecostal faith as manifested in his daily prayer meetings at Justice--but it is alarming when he defines his job in religious terms: "The guarding of freedom that God grants is the noble charge of the Department of Justice."

What hooey! The Justice Department is a creation of men to enforce laws written by ordinary mortals--some of them drunk as well as godless--and, most important, to follow the precepts of the U.S. Constitution, itself the product largely of those founders who were suspicious of efforts to bring any official notion of God into the day-to-day governance of a free people. They had enough of that with the religious pretenses of English kings, and they made no bones about their deep concerns regarding the mixing of church and state.

Monday, February 25 News | Colombian presidential candidate reportedly taken hostage A presidential candidate who is a severe critic of Colombia's leftist guerrillas was abducted by the rebels as she headed into a zone they once controlled, her campaign spokeswoman said Sunday.
Ingrid Betancourt disappeared after setting out for San Vicente del Caguan, a former rebel stronghold that was seized by government troops Saturday in an offensive to retake a large swathe of rebel-controlled territory
Everybody should have seen this coming. Look how much of a 'calming' influence our money and presence have been to the Columbians!! News | FBI reportedly has anthrax suspect WASHINGTON (AP) -- The FBI reportedly has a chief suspect in its anthrax investigation.
The Washington Times reports federal authorities are looking at a former U.S. scientist. They believe the unidentified scientist learned how to make a weapons-grade form of the deadly bacteria at a government laboratory.
The paper cites law enforcement and other sources as saying authorities are targeting the scientist after interviewing more than 300 people tied to the government's anthrax program. | TotalSearch | Global Archive | Article A discreet way of doing business with Iraq site; Nov 3, 2000

Millions of dollars of US oil business with Iraq are being channelled discreetly through European and other companies, in a practice that has highlighted the double standards now dominating relations between Baghdad and Washington after a decade of crippling sanctions.
Though legal, leading US oil service companies such as Halliburton, Baker Hughes, Schlumberger, Flowserve, Fisher-Rosemount and others, have used subsidiaries and joint venture companies for this lucrative business, so as to avoid straining relations with Washington and jeopardising their ties with President Saddam Hussein's government in Baghdad.

Friday, February 22

The W Scenario Finally, there's line 47. You haven't heard about that, but you will.
Here's the story. The Bush administration didn't want to give those famous $300 rebate checks; its original plan would have pumped hardly any money into the economy last year. Under prodding from Democrats the plan was changed to incorporate immediate cash outlays. But those outlays were included only grudgingly, and with a catch: they really weren't rebates. Instead, they were merely advances on future tax cuts.
What that means is that most taxpayers, when they reach line 47 of their 1040's, will discover that they owe $300 more in taxes than they expected. In other words, the one piece of the Bush tax cut that probably did help the economy last year is about to be snatched away. The direct monetary impact will be significant; the psychological impact, as taxpayers realize that they've been misled, may be even greater.
The gospel according to John (Ashcroft) Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of unbelief I fear not God. I fear John Ashcroft.
"Civilized people -- Muslims, Christians and Jews -- all understand that the source of freedom and human dignity is the Creator," said Ashcroft on Tuesday to a group of Christian broadcasters.
Correct me if I'm misinterpreting the Word of Ashcroft, but he's saying that a lot of the people he's supposed to protect are uncivilized. I don't believe in God, but if I did God would be generous enough to grant the presumption of civility to skeptics, atheists, agnostics and the apathetic.

Wednesday, February 20

New Jersey Online: The Times - News PRINCETON BOROUGH -- An advocate for the control of biological weapons who has been gathering information about last autumn's anthrax attacks said yesterday the Federal Bureau of Investigation has a strong hunch about who mailed the deadly letters.
But the FBI might be "dragging its feet" in pressing charges because the suspect is a former government scientist familiar with "secret activities that the government would not like to see disclosed," said Barbara Hatch Rosenberg, director of the Federation of American Scientists' Chemical and Biological Weapons Program.
Guardian Unlimited | Special reports | Anthrax suspect 'is US scientist' The FBI has a suspect for last year's anthrax attacks, but is "dragging its heels" because he is a former government scientist familiar with secret state-sponsored research, a leading American expert on biological warfare said yesterday. News | Too late to stop the hangman? Too late to stop the hangman?
Missouri is determined to execute Joseph Amrine for murder even though every prosecution witness and the jury foreman now say he's innocent and new witnesses point to another man. Why? A federal law says the evidence came in too late.

Monday, February 18

Marriage pledge rings hollow The politicians are asked to pledge that they'll protect the institution of marriage and "oppose all counterfeits" -- meaning gay marriages, civil unions or domestic partnerships. They don't mention such counterfeits as all the unhappy couples staying together for the children.
A lot of the usual suspects like Republican gubernatorial candidates William Simon and Bill Jones have signed the pledge.
Richard Riordan hasn't signed, even though he loved marriage so much he took a pledge with three wives. His first marriage lasted 23 years, produced five children and was annulled by the Catholic Church. Perhaps it was a coincidence, but Riordan was part of a group that gave Los Angeles Cardinal Roger Mahony a $400,000 used helicopter.
A used helicopter? Well, it was a used marriage. (This is not a paid hit piece from Gray Davis.)
War Coverage Takes a Negative Turn ( But the Pentagon still controls access in some areas where journalists want to dig for information. One dramatic clash took place last weekend when Washington Post reporter Doug Struck tried to visit the site of the Jan. 24 raid. He was turned away at gunpoint by U.S. soldiers who threatened to shoot him if he went farther.
Struck said from Afghanistan that "the important thing isn't whether Doug Struck was threatened. It shows the extremes the military is going to to keep this war secret, to keep reporters from finding out what's going on."
War Coverage Takes a Negative Turn ( After five months in which the Bush administration drew consistently upbeat coverage for a successful military campaign, the media climate has turned sharply negative. Suddenly, the issues of civilian casualties, military mistakes and the Pentagon's own credibility have been dragged into the national spotlight.
Archbishop Paul Cordes, the German head of the Vatican's agency for humanitarian aid, now tells us confidently and officially that "scriptural authority" says that illness is "the result of sin" and that people have a natural desire to be "healthy and good-looking." Read that again. Yep, that's what this intellectual dinosaur believes: one an absurdity and one an obvious fact. But immediately after the Monsignor issued this incredible statement, Father Georges Cottier, the Pope's chief theologian, hastened to reassure those who were ill that they were not in fact "paying for their sins." I don't follow this line of thought, at all. But then, I'm not trained in devious reasoning. Apparently Cottier has it down pat.
"Man's desire to be healthy, good-looking and strong is justified because it anticipates our future salvation. One cannot deny that death, of which illness is an anticipation, has always been seen as a consequence of sin," Cordes said. Really? Damn, but I thought that heredity, bacteria and viruses could be brought in here, somewhere. And what's this "One cannot deny" crap? I deny it, loudly and clearly! I don't give a damn if Cordes is secure in the Gospel of St. John, which he quotes to validate his notion. I don't know — no one knows — who wrote this "Gospel" material, though there might have been someone named John in there somewhere. And a guy named Casper, another named Pierre, and probably a couple ..............

Friday, February 15

Our Muni stops and even starts in Park City Tired of the same old sex in politics -- I mean gender. The smart and charming Holli Thier, former president of the League of Women Voters and candidate for the Assembly, says that at the rate this country keeps electing women to office they'll achieve parity with men in 534 years. I'm betting on Afghanistan getting there first.
San Francisco is going backward. While Dianne Feinstein and Nancy Pelosi advanced from the local trenches to high reaches of power, we're down to one woman on the Board of Supervisors, the admirable Sophie Maxwell. "Remember the Year of the Woman?" says Thier. That's right. All you got was one year.

Wednesday, February 13

The Axis of No Access Should we be countering the Axis of Evil with the Axis of No Access? Should our leaders leave a free press at home when they go to talk to regimes that do not countenance a free press?
Aren't we supposed to be influencing the Saudis and other Middle Eastern countries in the direction of honesty and transparency? Instead, the vice president emulates his Saudi friends — operating with high-handed secrecy, plotting with cronies to develop a petrostate, and restricting the press — just as he did during Desert Storm.
Cheney staffers came up with numerous explanations why it may be difficult to take the press — all of them silly. They're not the president: they don't have two planes. They don't have the resources. They don't have the staff. They're going to a very insecure region.

Tuesday, February 12

The New York Review of Books: The Betrayal of Capitalism In 1932, the congressional hearings conducted by Ferdinand Pecora of New York started a major process of reform of our financial system. As a result a regulatory structure was created which, until recently, has served us well, although such episodes as the savings-and-loan debacle required strong government action. Serious reforms again are needed, particularly to ensure that accounting firms will henceforth act honestly and responsibly. The securities laws require full disclosure; the accounting firms must ensure that their clients' profits, losses, and assets are disclosed accurately and coherently. The current self-regulation of the accounting industry should be closely scrutinized, and, if necessary, abolished and replaced by a new system of controls. At present, five accounting firms have a virtual monopoly on the audits of most of the US companies listed on the stock markets, a highly unusual level of concentration for any industry.
Sleeping With the Terrorists SABELA, Philippines -- Elnie Angulo, a slim, shy, 25-year-old peasant, was walking along a jungle path when he was accosted by three terrorists here on the island of Basilan, the second front in America's war on terrorism.
What happened next can be deduced from the findings of the imam who washed Mr. Angulo's body and the doctor who conducted the autopsy. The body had seven broken ribs, three broken vertebrae, slice marks on both hands and cuts on the neck. In addition, Mr. Angulo's tongue had been cut off and his genitals severed.
This kind of terrorism against civilians is the reason President Bush is sending 660 troops to help destroy the Abu Sayyaf terrorist group here on Basilan. But there's one problem: the men who tortured Mr. Angulo to death were not in Abu Sayyaf. They were Philippine troops, our new partners in the war on terrorism.
John Blair: Criticize Cheney, Go to Jail Criticize Cheney, Go to Jail
Two Days in the Life of an Environmentalist -- Web Exclusives Buy drugs, support terrorism. That was the unsubtle message from federal drug policy officials as they launched a multi-million dollar advertising campaign during Sunday's Super Bowl.
Certainly, they have some evidence on their side. Terrorist groups from southeast Asia to South America are in the drug trafficking business. But in the meantime, another hazardous American addiction goes unchallenged. No crusade has been launched against a national dependency that delivers billions of dollars each year to foreign powers whose support for terror is far from fanciful: Oil.
For more than half a century, the US has been beholden to the dictatorships of the Gulf states, especially Saudi Arabia, which controls more than a quarter of the world's known oil reserves. The Saudi patriarchate financed the Taliban, the madrassas that educated Taliban fighters in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and (when convenient) Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda network.

Monday, February 11

Unanswered Questions Deep In The Heart Of Texas All of this comes to mind because of the recent suicide of John Clifford Baxter, the former Enron vice chairman who died of a gunshot to the head a few days before he would have testified before one or more congressional committees. It was also a few days after he confided to friends that he may "need to get a bodyguard," according to the Telegraph, a British newspaper.
Baxter was a whistle-blower. He complained about Enron's business practices long before they became public knowledge. He quit the firm last year and sold $35 million in stock.
Because of the timing of Baxter's death, it seems logical that the authorities should examine it very carefully.
So far they haven't.

Friday, February 8

The Times There are other less creditable reasons for whipping up war hysteria. Mr Bush wants to make sure that he cannot be blamed for a lack of vigilance in the event of some totally unpredictable and random terrorist outrage, which could occur, by the law of probabilities, regardless of whatever precautions might be taken sometime in the next few years. The Pentagon has been looking for an enemy ever since Mr Bush’s election, to justify a vastly expanded defence budget. Moreover, the interests of Israel have a commanding influence on some of the key policymakers in Washington — and Israel’s interests are unfortunately identified at present with the extreme Zionism of Ariel Sharon. For Saudi Arabia, which is increasingly recognised in America as the main wellspring of the fundamentalist poison seeping through all Islamic countries, it is convenient if America’s anger is deflected on to Iraq and Iran.
Money-Grubbing Games To place the stiffing of New York in context, you need to realize that when it comes to tax cuts and military spending, the Bush administration's budget is an exercise in unrestrained self-indulgence. There is a lot of stirring rhetoric, warning the nation that this is a time of war, in which everyone must make sacrifices — but this austerity does not extend to the wealthiest few percent of the population, who will not only get the lion's share of the future tax cuts already written into law, but would get most of the additional $600 billion in tax cuts the administration now proposes. (Actually it's about $1 trillion without the accounting tricks, but who's counting?)

Thursday, February 7 Politics | Bush's executive-privilege two-step The problem with this commitment to principle, however, is how ready the Bush White House is to abandon it for political convenience. Press reports have already noted the contrast between the White House's current stance on the Cheney records and the release last summer of transcripts of private conversations between former President Bill Clinton and then Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak. But to date none has detailed the tortured, even comical lengths to which the Bush White House has gone in violating its own stated principles to try to embarrass Clinton. counts on the war without end Even the occasional intervention of reality has no effect. In Afghanistan, the underground complexes turn out to be cramped, primitive caves rather than sumptuous subterranean cities. No matter. All it proves is that the real Al Qaeda headquarters are somewhere else — perhaps Yemen or Somalia.
In George Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four, the enemy of the state is personified in Emmanuel Goldstein. Goldstein is the Osama bin Laden figure of the novel, an elusive figure who is never seen, never captured but believed by all patriotic citizens of Oceania (Orwell's fictitious state, an amalgamation of North America and Europe) to be an evil genius bent on their destruction.
Since Goldstein is never captured, Oceania's battle against him must never cease. Sometime it wages war on one country said to be aiding the nefarious Goldstein, sometimes on another. The battleground may change but the war never ends. It cannot. The government's very existence depends upon it.
A Judge's Past Mr. Pickering had a significant effect on his home state's racist past as early as 1959 when he was a student at the University of Mississippi Law School. He felt it was important to bolster Mississippi's anti-miscegenation law. A marriage between a black person and a white person was a felony, punishable by up to 10 years in prison. But Mr. Pickering recognized there was a loophole in the law that could allow some interracial couples to fall in love and marry without being arrested and sent off to prison. He wrote an article in The Mississippi Law Journal explaining how the law could be fixed
A Judge's Past Mr. Pickering had a significant effect on his home state's racist past as early as 1959 when he was a student at the University of Mississippi Law School. He felt it was important to bolster Mississippi's anti-miscegenation law. A marriage between a black person and a white person was a felony, punishable by up to 10 years in prison. But Mr. Pickering recognized there was a loophole in the law that could allow some interracial couples to fall in love and marry without being arrested and sent off to prison. He wrote an article in The Mississippi Law Journal explaining how the law could be fixed

Wednesday, February 6

The Bushmen's concern for kids

NOW THAT the Bush administration has taken the tarp off its proposed 2003 budget, I've got one piece of advice for all you children of the future:
Stay in the womb as long as you can.
For starters, it's the only place where you'll command any real attention --
let alone value -- from George W. In addition, compared to the nasty world out here that the Bushmen are determined to construct, even the most negligent mom's inner landscape could look like a lazy day at the beach.
As long as you are surrounded by amniotic fluid -- if you've simply begun to subdivide and consist solely of a dozen cells -- you'll have health insurance. That's a lot more than 40 million Americans (almost 11 million of them actual children) can say.

Tuesday, February 5

Bush's Aggressive Accounting Bush's Aggressive Accounting

Senator Kent Conrad actually got it wrong yesterday when he criticized the Bush administration's new budget for its Enron-like accounting. Last year's budget, the one that included that big tax cut, was the one with a strong touch of Enron about it. This year's budget involves a different, though equally pernicious, kind of aggressive accounting.

Monday, February 4

Sneak Attack Lynn Paltrow, director of a group called National Advocates for Pregnant Women, believes much more than the threat to abortion rights is at stake. She described the Health and Human Services proposal as "cynical," and said it helps divert attention from the administration's failure to support a wide range of initiatives to improve the delivery of health care to women and children.
She added, "This maneuver to create insurance for unborn children both personifies the fetus and accentuates the fact that women themselves are neither full persons under the law, nor valued enough to be funded themselves."
This rules change by Health and Human Services, which does not need Congressional approval, is both devious and dangerous. It exemplifies the administration's right-wing allegiance, and its contempt for the poor.
There are more than 40 million Americans walking around without health insurance. About 11 million are children. If the administration wanted to do something about extending health benefits, it could start with some of them.

Friday, February 1

The Village Voice: Nation: Mondo Washington by James Ridgeway Why would a man who wanted to hire a bodyguard one day kill himself the next? This is the question that rattles conspiracy theorists in the case of Cliff Baxter, the Enron whistleblower whose death by gunshot last week in Sugar Land, Texas, was ruled a suicide. Baxter had been subpoenaed to testify this week on Capitol Hill. Those who doubt the official line think he's another Vince Foster, murdered in cold blood to stop him from spilling the beans on Enron chief Ken Lay and blowing open the whole scam—offshore accounts, political connections, and all.
The Daily Brew The American public remains blissfully unaware the Bush administration's policies concerning Afghanistan and Osama bin Laden just prior to September 11. Few Americans understand the organizational effort to fight Osama bin Laden and his Al Queda network that was put in place under Clinton, and how changes by the incoming Bush administration impacted that effort. At the same time, a series of very serious allegations concerning changes to these policies have been widely reported in Europe. With a few exceptions, the US corporate media has so far provided very little coverage of these reports. Hearings into these events could change that coverage dramatically. - maryland's online community THE RICH ARE different from everybody else. Almost everybody else, upon finding themselves in danger of losing all their money, would get a job. The rich get on television.
That, at least, is what self-styled former rich person Linda Lay did this week in a ludicrously misguided effort to spin herself and her family as hapless victims of the collapse of Enron Corp.
FindLaw's Writ - Dean: GAO v. Cheney Is Big-time Stalling GAO's Historic Lawsuit
The first important thing to understand about the GAO suit is that it is not a political lawsuit. GAO's current Comptroller General, David Walker, is not from the ranks of Bush-Cheney bashers. In fact, he was a member of the Reagan Administration and the first Bush Administration. And when he was appointed in 1998 to his fifteen-year term by President Clinton, it was at the urging of top Republicans. Filing this historic lawsuit will not be pleasant for Walker. News | Let Tyson fight I feel that I should say this again: This is not a defense of Tyson. I'm not a fan of his (though I once was), and it affects me not one bit if he never fights again. He is one of history's great screw-ups. Thanks to a winning ticket in the genetic lottery and, yes, years of his own hard work, he found himself in possession of a tool, his body, that was a license to print money and enjoy the good life. All he had to do was stay in shape, fight two or three times a year for a decade or so and not ruin his life and the lives of those around him with stupidity and poor impulse control. A soft assignment, I don't care how hardscrabble your background is, and he failed spectacularly, repeatedly. He makes Elvis Presley look like a sober, steady overachiever