"Ok folks, the Ecosystem should be back to normal. Quite a passle of problems.
For those who care, there were not one, not two, but three separate issues that turned out to be causing the difficulties we've seen over the past few weeks."
Grogan - 2004, April 02: "There needs to be a law passed where any person who disrespects the 'Office of the Presidency' by making false accusations and spreading deliberate rumors about the president, should be charged with a felony or at the very least a high misdemeanor. President Bush has been falsely accused (with nothing concrete to back the accusations up), from being negligent in stopping the 9/11 attacks, to making up fraudulent reasons to go to war in Iraq."The only positive is that Opinion Editorials - Freedom Writers - CURRENT maybe these guys don't have readership. If they do, they're a little scary. If they have a lot, they are real scary.
"John Dean is in the news again. Thirty years ago as counsel to Richard Nixon he mesmerized the country with his testimony in the Watergate hearings about 'a cancer growing on the presidency.' Eventually Nixon would resign and John Dean would go down in history for his role in the Watergate scandal. Now Dean has written a new book - his sixth - in which he concludes that the obsessive secrecy and deception in Washington today is 'Worse Than Watergate.' The conversation with Bill Moyers is Dean's first television interview on 'the hidden agenda of a White House shrouded in secrecy and a presidency that seeks to remain unaccountable' and his book WORSE THAN WATERGATE: THE SECRET PRESIDENCY OF GEORGE W. BUSH."They don't provide as good an overview for the segment on Baby Bush wanting to increase are nuclear capability, but it too, was a good piece. It does look like they have excellent summaries of last week's show, so maybe they post more later. I'll try to remember to go back to look.
"Of course, much of this must rely on extrapolation from the data available, as this regulatory system self regulates itself into intentional/unintentional levels of obscurity. The report states that secrecy is the ultimate mode of regulation; leaving citizens unaware that they are being regulated. Regulations of the normal nature inform a citizen about his required behavior and are therefore disseminated to inform the citizen. In contrast, secrecy regulates what knowledge a citizen may have, but does not let him know what he legally may not know."Check it out and let me know what you think.
"American manufacturers boosted activity for the 10th straight month in March and factory jobs growth accelerated, cementing a key pillar in the recovery, a survey showed yesterday. The Institute for Supply Management (ISM) purchasing managers' index, based on a survey of supply executives, rose 1.1 points from February to 62.5 points in March. It was the 10th month in a row above 50 points, indicating expansion in manufacturing activity. 'It looks like the factory sector is really ramping up and is now in the midst of a strong, broad-based recovery,' Wachovia senior economist Mark Vitner said.
The survey showed factory jobs growth picked up, with the employment index rising 0.7 point to 57.0. It was the fifth month of expanding manufacturing employment in the survey following a 37-month contraction. Official figures show manufacturers have shed 2.8 million jobs since January 2001. Private economists on average predict the government figures will show the economy churned out 123,000 jobs in March, after a paltry gain of 21,000 in February. Some economists even tip a gain in manufacturing employment in the month, after a 43-month stretch of net factory layoffs.
Vitner forecast a surge of 225,000 jobs in March, putting in place the last piece of the economic recovery. He tipped US economic growth of nearly five per cent in 2004. A weekly reading of the numbers of recently unemployed was only mildly encouraging. The number of people lodging new claims for unemployment benefits fell 3,000 to a seasonally adjusted 342,000 in the week ended March 27, after a gain of 12,000 the previous week, the Labor Department said."
Stephen S. Cohen and J. Bradford DeLong have been thinking About OutsourcingIt is well worth the read, so go read it, or my comments may not make sense.
and have posted a first rough cut "Our Outsourced Future" Draft 1.3"
"On Thursday, a 38-year-old Korean immigrant named Jamie Olis, with a wife and a six-month-old daughter, was sentenced to 24 years in prison for his role in a complex scheme to hide the difficulties of the company where he worked as a mid-level executive.And, up until this paragraph, I was sort with the argument, but the next paragraph:
It was a brutal punishment for a relatively minor crime. The Associated Press, noting that Olis reaped no personal gain, called the sentence 'jaw-dropping.' Since there is no parole in federal cases, he will have to serve at least 20 years.
Olis helped concoct Project Alpha, which inflated Dynegy's cash flow in 2001. According to a Wall Street Journal story in 2002, the scheme relied on corporate heavyweights, including Citigroup, which provided a $300 million loan, and the once-respected and now-defunct accounting firm Arthur Andersen, which gave its official blessing.
The sentence -- the result of a recent stiffening of federal guidelines -- was out of all proportion. By comparison, the median term for murder is 13 years; for drug trafficking, four years; sexual abuse, three years."
The Olis sentence is just the latest manifestation of the hysterical reaction of politicians to the corporate scandals that broke in the fall of 2001. Olis is a tragic victim, but millions of Americans, many of them without jobs, are also suffering as the U.S. economy struggles under the weight of poorly conceived new rules -- with more on the way.And he lost me. In fact, I had to re-read it before I realized the whole article was a set up. Feel sorry for the poor guy who's dad left him and his mother. He grows up poor but makes good. All is well until he gets involved in a minor corporate conspiracy to defraud shareholders. Excuse me? He violated his fiduciary responsibilities, got caught, and now I'm supposed to have sympathy for the guy? You know, I don't think so. Well, and am I to believe this is the only time he has done this. If so, based on what? Let's look at a few more sources before we pass final judgment.
"U.S. Securities and Exchange CommissionWell, that's legalize, but not really all that much help, so let's look a little further.Former Dynegy Inc. tax executive Jamie Olis sentenced - Mar. 25, 2004:
Litigation Release No. 18188 / June 12, 2003
Accounting and Auditing Enforcement Release No. 1800 / June 12, 2003
Securities and Exchange Commission v. Gene S. Foster, Jamie Olis and Helen C. Sharkey, Civil Action No.H-03-2044, United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas, Houston Division (June 12, 2003).
On June 12, 2003, the Commission filed an action in United States District Court in Houston charging three former employees of Dynegy Inc. with fraud in connection with Project Alpha ('Alpha'), a structured financing transaction. Alpha was the subject of a settled cease-and-desist order issued by the Commission in September 2002; in the order, the Commission found that Dynegy violated the antifraud, reporting, books and records and internal controls provisions of the federal securities laws, by reflecting Alpha's impact on its financial statements in the form of $300 million in operating cash flow and $79 million in net income. In re Dynegy Inc., Exchange Act Release No. 34-46537 (September 24, 2002). The Commission found in its order that the Alpha-derived funds were actually loan proceeds, representing, therefore, cash flow from financing activities, not operations, and that the Alpha-derived tax benefit was invalid. In settling the Commission's action, Dynegy also paid a $3 million civil penalty."
"The judge said he was required to give Olis a sentence of between 24 and 30 years, five years shy of the maximum, based on the massive losses Dynegy shareholders suffered as a result of Project Alpha's repercussions.A slightly different picture, but wait, lets look a little further down:
Olis, who was already choked up as he stood before the judge, had no visible reaction to the sentence, which read in a courtroom filled to capacity with his family, supporters and ex-Dynegy colleagues.
New laws enacted last year in response to a wave of corporate chicanery and corporate fraud laws passed in 2001 stiffened the penalty range for white collar crimes, putting them equal with offenses like bank robbery.
Michael Shelby, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Texas said Olis' harsh punishment was deserved because thousands of investors lost their savings over Project Alpha."
"Dynegy's stock lost more than half its value on April 26, 2002, the day after the Houston company disclosed a U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission investigation into Alpha.Wow, now he looks like a thief who wasn't bright enough to confess before the state went to the expense of a trial. Did ya'll catch that part about billions in losses to investors? [Here's a nice sympathetic photo of the criminal and his wife and daughter: http://a1112.g.akamai.net/7/1112/492/03312000/news.lycos.com/news/ot_getImage.asp?op=img&id=571790]
It also had to reclassify the $300 million as debt, pay the SEC a $3 million fine and restate its 2001 earnings downward by 12 percent. The total losses to investors were in the billions.
Two other Dynegy employees, Helen Sharkey and Gene Shannon Foster, Olis' boss, each pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit securities fraud and agreed to cooperate with prosecutors. Lake is due to sentence both on Aug. 19, and each faces a maximum of five years in prison."
"Say, why doesn't someone ask Bush if he thinks the earth is 6000 years old?"I suggested the question should be worded, "do you believe in the bible or in evolution?" I don't think Baby Bush is capable of coming up w/ nuanced answer, and he risks losing voters if he takes any side at all. Think of all those fundamentalists believing that Baby Bush's soul (yeah, they probably believe he actually has one) will be doomed to hell if he says anything other then 4-6 thousand years old. And the rest of the planet will know he's a complete moron if he doesn't say he believes in evolution.
ASHINGTON, March 30 - The Bush administration has scuttled a plan to increase by 50 percent the number of criminal financial investigators working to disrupt the finances of Al Qaeda, Hamas and other terrorist organizations to save $12 million, a Congressional hearing was told on Tuesday.What's up with this? I've always thought you were supposed to 'follow the money'. Unless, you don't like where it will take you.
The Internal Revenue Service had asked for 80 more criminal investigators beginning in October to join the 160 it has already assigned to penetrate the shadowy networks that terrorist groups use to finance plots like the Sept. 11 attacks and the recent train bombings in Madrid. But the Bush administration did not include them in the president's proposed budget for the 2005 fiscal year."
Guardian | The privatisation of war: "The privatisation of warIt's worth your time to go over to Whiskey Bar for this one, and make sure you read the comment section. Billmon's reader's provide a lot of information, besides this Guardian article.
*$30bn goes to private military
*Fears over 'hired guns' policy
*British firms get big slice of contracts
*Deals in Baghdad, Kabul and Balkans
Wednesday December 10, 2003
Private corporations have penetrated western warfare so deeply that they are now the second biggest contributor to coalition forces in Iraq after the Pentagon, a Guardian investigation has established.
While the official coalition figures list the British as the second largest contingent with around 9,900 troops, they are narrowly outnumbered by the 10,000 private military contractors now on the ground."
"In which context, it is perhaps unfortunate that the "Air America" people have (presumably unintentionally) named themselves after the CIA's heroin trafficking operation in Southeast Asia (the subject of a movie which, in a better world, would have crushed Mel Gibson's career before it took root). The well-meaning liberal radio types must be taking lessons from these guys."And, well, it reminded me that we had soldiers and the CIA on the ground in a region w/ somewhat similar characteristics as Laos and Cambodia, just w/o the jungle. Which prodded memories of 'once upon a time' articles we all heard and read back in November '01, similar to this: Britain and USA plan to buy Afghan opium crop:
"BRITAIN and America are to devote tens of millions of pounds to an attempt to end Afghanistan's notorious heroin trade.So, I'm curious. If we understood going in that heroin was a problem, and we were planning to buy the crop in its entirety, or in some other way deal with countering opium farming, why do we get this, from January '04 Washington Times: Osama bin Laden: a 'heroin dealer' and 'narco-terrorist':
One option being considered is to buy this year's entire opium harvest at black market prices - on the condition that farmers then plough up their poppy fields and sow a different crop.
The move to tackle the menace of heroin came as disturbing new evidence emerged that warlords of the Northern Alliance are conniving in the renewed planting of poppy fields under the cover of war."
"'It seems clear to me heroin is the No. 1 financial asset of Osama bin Laden,' Rep. Mark Steven Kirk, Illinois Republican, told The Washington Times. 'There is a need to update our view of how terrorism is financed.Oh, the quotes above are courtesy of this interesting site: Opioids : past, present and future.
'And the view of Osama bin Laden relying on Wahhabi donations from abroad is outdated. And the view of him as one of the world's largest heroin dealers is the more accurate, up-to-date view.'
Mr. Kirk wants a pronounced shift in how the Bush administration tries to stop al Qaeda funding. Up to now, Washington has focused on bin Laden's traditional sources: Islamic charities and his family fortune.
But the Bush team has choked off much of that flow, forcing bin Laden to adjust. In Afghanistan, bin Laden has the benefit of the world's largest poppy crop, as he evades capture in Pakistan's notorious border areas.
He is reaping $24 million alone from one narcotics network in Kandahar, Afghanistan, according to Mr. Kirk's investigation."
"Another company reputedly owned by bin Laden is the 'Wadi al-Aqiq' Company, an export-import firm. For many years, bin Laden owned and ran the Taba Investment Company Ltd., which deals in global stock markets. He was also part-owner of the "el-Shamal Islamic Bank" in Khartoum, a joint effort with the NIF, in which bin Laden is said to have invested $50 million."And from the same document (published September '01) comes this tidbit:
U.S. Senator John Kerry, a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said that there are strong indications that bin Laden's al-Qaida network has profited handsomely from the opium trade. Al-Qaida militants have frequently been deployed as smugglers or as guard details for smugglers.
Opium, used in the manufacture of heroin and morphine, has an added attraction for terrorists because such drugs head to the United States and lead to problems such as addiction and crime, he said. "That's part of their revenge on the world," Kerry said. "Get as many people drugged out and screwed up as you can."
Just Tuesday, 87-year-old Radio Flyer Inc. announced it was closing its Chicago plant and moving the production of its metal red wagons loved by generations of American children to China, resulting in the expected layoffs of nearly half of its 90 employees.
The Macomb Daily
March 31, 2004"
The goal, one Reconstructionists feel is now within reach, is a transformation of America into a religious state whose mission is to spread the Gospel (as they interpret it). Violence isn't shunned. As Gary North, the current grand man of the movement, wrote, "In winning a nation to the Gospel, the sword as well as the pen must be used." Those who don't buy the plan could flee, or face unbending Mosaic "justice."And as usually the case with people attempting to establish a theocracy, the first thing that has to go is your ability to think for yourself:
R.J. Rushdoony, born in 1916 to Armenian immigrants, is the Peter, the rock on which the Christian Reconstruction movement is built. He honed an even more extreme Calvinist theology than Schaeffer's, one based on biblical literalness and inerrancy, and on the assertion of irreconcilable conflict between believers and non-Christians -- including many people who consider themselves Christian but don't measure up to Reconstruction orthodoxy. And, Rushdoony, who died in 2001, thundered a doctrine called "presuppositionalism": All issues are religious in nature, and people don't have the right or ability to define for themselves what's true.And, of course they have the usual insidious plan of evil geniuses' in all the 'B' flicks:
Recruits to Reconstruction's adopted causes soon find the movement has a blunt distaste for pluralism and democracy. North wrote in 1982 -- in an effort to reach Baptists -- "We must use the doctrine of religious liberty ... until we train up a generation of people who know that there is no religious neutrality, no neutral law, no neutral education, and no neutral civil government. Then they will get busy constructing a Bible-based social, political and religious order which finally denies the religious liberty of the enemies of God."Of course a vengeful god is on their side:
Except, as DeMar writes in his book Liberty at Risk, "The State is God's 'minister,' taking vengeance out on those who do evil," a role eagerly embraced by the Bush administration. A major task for the Christian state would be to field armies to conquer in the name of Jesus.Hey, if you read this blog at all, you had to know Baby Bush would come up in something like this. And you know all that law and order stuff people like so much, well Christian Reconstructionists are no namby pambys:
As Jerry Falwell -- not technically a Reconstructionist because of theological nuances, but a preacher who generally follows the movement's tactical plan for creating a Christian government -- proclaimed earlier this year, "God is pro-war." And, Atlanta's Rev. Charles Stanley, a former president of the Southern Baptist Convention and another dominion theology tagalong, was among the first in line wanting to dispatch his missionaries alongside American troops in Iraq.
Stanley wrote last year, "God favors war for divine reasons and sometimes uses it to accomplish His will." That, of course, is balm to the neo-conservatives in the Bush administration.
The arena that generates the most attention -- and shock -- is dominion theology's radical plans to make capital punishment part of America's daily routine.I guess it really should be considered a positive that the movement has such a frugal side, right at the beginning. Many movements never seem to get very far, I think because they just spend too much of their followers money on things that they could get done much cheaper, not so the Reconstructionists.
Ringgold's Don Boys -- who as a one-term Indiana state official in the 1970s authored legislation that restored capital punishment there -- spoke cheerfully of a time when Americans will witness 10,000 executions a year. And Gary North suggests the method -- stoning -- because rocks are "cheap, plentiful and convenient." Reconstructionists also favor other biblical forms of execution -- burning, hanging and the sword.
Gary North in 1989 candidly described his mission: "The long-term goal of Christians in politics should be to gain exclusive control over the franchise. Those who refuse to submit to the eternal sanctions of God ... must be denied citizenship, just as they were in ancient Israel."
Marietta's Pastor Morecraft in 1993 proclaimed that the government he wants to create has this as its primary purpose: "Terrorize evil-doers. ... Bring down the wrath of God to bear on all those who practice evil."
Last month, that sentiment reached the national level. The Constitution Restoration Act of 2004 would acknowledge Christianity's God as the "sovereign source" of our laws. It would reach back in history and reverse all judicial decisions that have built a wall between church and state, and it would prohibit federal judges from making such rulings in the future.Why do most of these guys have to be from Georgia? And Zig Zag Zell, what is up with this guy? Zell, go back home to your mountain cabin, lock yourself inside, and turn on the gas please! You are one scary SOB.
The bill was co-sponsored in the Senate by Zell Miller, the turncoat Georgia Democrat (and United Methodist), and several Republican colleagues, including South Carolina's Lindsey Graham; in the House, the sponsors were all Republican, including Georgia's Jack Kingston.
But the actual drafting was done by Herb Titus, best known recently as former Alabama Chief Justice Moore's attorney. Titus also represents Georgia's Barrow County in its effort to put the Ten Commandments in its courthouse. Titus has more than a little self-serving interest in the legislation. If passed, it would overturn the rulings that forced Titus' most newsworthy client, Moore, from the bench.
"Teen Arrested for Sexually Abusing HerselfI wish I had something pithy to add, but this just boggles my mind... Oh my god (small 'g'), I took pictures of my brother naked when he was 5 or 6 yrs old, and I was about 10 yrs old. I did it because I was your typical sadistic older brother. Do you think I could get life in prison? Should I destroy all the negatives and prints? Are any of my readers lawyers? Or better yet, are any of my readers Supreme Court Justices that I can take duck hunting? I wouldn't be trying to influence your decision in my case, and I don't own an Air Force 2, but I'd be willing to rent an old Cessna. Really, I'd just like to have some fun killing harmless water fowl with huge shot guns; the particulars of my case wouldn't have to come up in conversation and we wouldn't have to even share the same bed...Or, whatever Scalia and Cheney said would work for me, too. I believe in precedence.
From the AP, via USA Today: 'A 15-year-old girl has been arrested for taking nude photographs of her self and posting them on the Internet, police said. ... She has been charged with sexual abuse of children, possession of child pornography and dissemination of child pornography.'
What's next, arresting a 14 year old boy caught masterbating [sic] for Child Molestation?"
"And then there's this, also from Al Gonzales' letter to the Commission ...'I would also like to take this occasion to offer an accommodation on another issue on which we have not yet reached an agreement - commission access to the president and vice president. I am authorized to advise you that the president and vice president have agreed to one joint private session with all 10 commissioners, with one commission staff member present to take notes of the session.'
Is that an 'accommodation'?
Why is this is a joint session? Why can't the president and the vice-president meet with the Commission members separately? Is there some, as yet unexplored, constitutional issue of the president and vice-president needing to appear jointly?"
"Cheney's trip is presumably designed to demonstrate his amazing good health, in spite of his well-known heart problems. It might also suggest that Bush has decided to keep him on the ticket.And, from the end of the article comes this, with an excellent question to top it all off:
That's a questionable domestic political call. First time out, Bush desperately needed the Ear, older and presumably wiser, to dim the glare of his sometimes obnoxious Texas cowboy image. Turns out, the Ear was more cowboy policy-wise than the Texan.
This time around, Bush, who will have a hard fight to garner a plurality of votes and earn a true second-term mandate, gains nothing with Cheney still in the second spot. Bush would be stronger with perhaps Colin Powell, the popular secretary of state. Many African-Americans and even some liberals who may be less than enthralled with Sen. John Kerry would have a hard time passing up the opportunity to vote for America's first black vice-president, but a heartbeat away from the presidency itself. Moreover, the Ear now is carrying some heavy domestic political baggage.
Along with Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, he is the principal architect of the post-9/11 strategy. The jury is still out on whether it's working, but now there seems to be a critical verdict on the quality of the pre-9/11 planning by this administration. The official nonpartisan commission investigating the Sept. 11 attacks has so far received shockingly negative testimony on the terrorism-awareness level of the administration's top people. Coming out of his cave to make this high-profile trip, the Ear will thus need to prove himself in Asia. The problem is he has some foreign-policy baggage that will irk most of the high Asian officials with whom he talks. That's the administration's hard line on North Korea, of which he is a creator."
In the time-honoured fashion of conservative Nixon going to Red China to break bread, Cheney could bring back a North Korean breakthrough and pump life into Bush’s international security record. But for that to happen, Cheney will have to give heed to his counterparts in Tokyo and Beijing and hear the shrill and conflicting voices in deeply politically divided South Korea.I often think that the political coverage of the US, is better left to outsiders; actually it just may be better.
The only problem is, does the Ear listen to anyone at all?
A review of the Superfund National Priority List (NPL) sites reveals
that 63 percent of the non-federal sites have reached construction
complete status but only 24 percent of the 141 Department of Defense
(DOD) facilities have attained construction complete status. This
dramatic disparity in cleanup progress between DOD facilities and
non-federal sites is very disturbing. The Superfund statute requires
that remedial actions at federal facilities subject to interagency
agreements "shall be completed as expeditiously as practicable" (Section 120(e)(3)).
In reviewing the NPL listings over the past three years, including the
one announced on March 8, 2004, it appears that no DOD facilities have
been listed. It also appears that no DOD facility has been proposed for
listing on the NPL in the past three years.
4. Is it correct that no DOD facility has been listed on the NPL during
the Administration of President George W. Bush? Please explain why all such
listings have ceased since January 2001. Further, please identify all
such DOD facilities that have been assessed and evaluated as provided in
CERCLA Section 120(d) since January 1, 2001.
5. Is it correct that no DOD facilities have been, proposed for listing
on the NPL since the beginning of President George W. Bush's
administration? If so, please explain why.
6. In addition to Chanute AFB, five other DOD facilities have been
previously proposed for the NPL but not finally listed. They are Air
Force Plant 85 (Ohio), Arnold Engineering Development Center
(Tennessee), Rickenbacker Air National Guard (Ohio), Sunflower Army
Ammunition Plant (Kansas), and Wurtsmith Air Force Base (Michigan). For
each facility, please explain the reasons why its listing on the NPL has
not been finalized.
"You know, in the end, we don't need to 'maintain an advantage' over other countries. If everyone in the world had our amount of wealth, that would be great for everyone.
The problem with all these developing countries seems to be not that they're competing with us, but that they're just stealing our damn jobs instead of making their own. That is, that because they aren't actually consuming anything, they're just taking our jobs, producing the things we produced, except cheaper, taking our money when we buy those things from them, and just pocketing it.
Because they spend no money themselves they create no demand for jobs that didn't already exist."
"So let's do a little round-up of first anniversary developments. It looks like the Spanish vote and the decision of the new Spanish prime minister to follow his party's long-term position on the Iraqi war and occupation by withdrawing his country's troops at the end of June (barring a major UN takeover) were a bit like yelling 'Fire!' in your classic crowded theater. Fastest to the exit were the Hondurans with 370 troops. ('The decision was announced by Defense Secretary Federico Breve only one day after Honduran President Ricardo Maduro said the troops would stay. Breve said the Honduran decision "coincides with the decision of the prime minister elect of the Spanish government.'') It is rumored that El Salvador and Guatemala may soon follow suit.
Next came the Dutch. The opposition Labor Party called last Tuesday for a July withdrawal of their contingent of troops (while a Dutch civilian died in ambush in Baghdad this week). When Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende met with President Bush later in the week, he refused in person to commit his country's troops beyond July.
Almost immediately, the South Koreans rushed for the doors, announcing that they would not, as had been planned, send several thousand troops to the northern city of Kirkuk, a flashpoint of Kurdish desire. They are, claimed the government, looking for a new, safer place to put their troops. (Is there an offshore island around?) The Polish President Aleksander Kwasniewski, the staunchest of staunch 'coalition' allies, promptly claimed his country had been hoodwinked -- the actual word he used was 'misled' -- on Iraq's weapons of mass destruction. (What his government was really hoodwinked on was its share of the spoils of Iraq's 'reconstruction' and this may be but a warning shot across the bow of the all-American reconstuction effort.)
"Another major Bush-Blair statement -- that they had exhausted all avenues of peaceful resolution of the crisis before declaring war on Baghdad -- has now turned out to be a lie. On November 7, 2003 the New York Times and the Guardian reported that Saddam Hussein had offered a deal in February 2003 meant to satisfy Bush and Blair on all the important aspects of the crisis: weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, the Middle East peace process, access of American oil companies to Iraqi petroleum, and the democratization of Iraq.
According to these reports (confirmed by all the parties involved), Saddam proposed that up to 2,000 FBI and CIA agents be dispatched to Iraq to look for its WMD anywhere in the country. He pledged that he would go along with any deal to which Israel and the mainstream Palestinian leadership agreed. He promised to give US oil corporations a share in the exploration and extraction of oil in Iraq. And he promised free and fair multiparty elections in Iraq under international supervision in two years.
Imad Hage, acting on behalf of Saddam, met Richard Perle, then chairman of the US Defense Policy Advisory Committee Board, in the lobby of the Marlborough Hotel in central London on March 7, and then they went to an office nearby and there for two hours Hage outlined the Iraqi offer to Perle. But so determined was Bush to invade Iraq that he refused point blank to consider Saddam's offer and resolve the crisis peacefully."
"In the piece that follows, Chalmers Johnson lays out the skeletal structure of America's 'Baseworld' and in the process offers us a powerful snapshot of an overstretched, heavily militarized empire whose leaders are ready to stretch further yet -- even, it seems, to the moon. Johnson, whose pre-9/11 book Blowback: The Costs and Consequences of American Empire was prescient on the kinds of attacks our covert imperial policies opened us up to, has just published a new work, The Sorrows of Empire: Militarism, Secrecy, and the End of the Republic as part of the American Empire Project. His new book tackles a great taboo subject in our country -- militarization and its effects on us as well as the rest of the planet. It's a magnificent, path-breaking work and -- I assure you -- a must-read if you really want to grasp the contours of our world. Don't miss it. Tom"
As distinct from other peoples, most Americans do not recognize -- or do not want to recognize -- that the United States dominates the world through its military power. Due to government secrecy, our citizens are often ignorant of the fact that our garrisons encircle the planet. This vast network of American bases on every continent except Antarctica actually constitutes a new form of empire -- an empire of bases with its own geography not likely to be taught in any high school geography class. Without grasping the dimensions of this globe-girdling Baseworld, one can't begin to understand the size and nature of our imperial aspirations or the degree to which a new kind of militarism is undermining our constitutional order.
"The Demkins family remains puzzled as to the origin of their daughter's gift. Perhaps, Natasha's latest surgery triggered such 'vision improvement.' Natasha's appendix had been removed. However, by the time she was scheduled to be sent home from the hospital, she could hardly move. Ultrasound revealed that doctors forgot to remove sanitary cotton tampons from the girl's intestines. Natasha was once again hospitalized and operated for the second time. In a month after that incident, the teenager was able to surprise her mother with her unique quality. 'I see a crimped tube similar to our vacuum cleaner inside of you. I also see two beans and a tomato that resembles a bull's heart,' stated the girl. Back then, she was not aware of medical terminology and could not provide a proper name for a heart, a liver, a kidney, or intestines. She simply compared what she saw to fruits and vegetables.
Medical workers of children's hospital N1 decided to conduct several experiments in order to gain some insight into the girl's gift. Natasha was shown a woman with a whole bunch of illnesses. The girl managed to list every single one of them. Further ultrasound examination simply proved her final diagnosis.
Natasha is capable of distinguishing even the tiniest pathology on a molecular level in the deepest corners of a human body, which are usually left undetected by regular ultrasound. 'It's like having double vision. I can switch from one to the other in no time if I need to know a person's health problem,' says the teenager. 'I see an entire human organism. It is difficult to explain how I determine specific illnesses. There are certain impulses that I feel from the damaged organs. The secondary vision works only in daytime and is asleep at night.'"
Traveling last week and removing my shoes as I snaked through the rope-lines made me wonder whether the airline security people might not benefit from a consultation with the remarkable Temple Grandin. She works at finding ways at making cattle comfortable as they are led to slaughter. Oliver Sacks profiled Grandin, who is autistic, in his marvelous An Anthropologist on Mars."
"The cost: $3 billion and change. The goal: to find one lousy subatomic particle.
Specifically, the Higgs boson, the most elusive speck of matter in the universe. Often called the God particle, it's supposed to be the key to explaining why matter has mass. Physicists believe that Higgs particles generate a kind of soupy ether through which other particles move, picking up drag that translates into mass on the macroscopic scale. The Higgs is the cornerstone of 21st-century physics; it simply has to be there, otherwise the standard model of the universe collapses.
For all the high-level physics, smashing protons together is actually the easy part. The hard part is crunching data. To find the Higgs, which might flash across Atlas' layered detectors for a microsecond, researchers will have to process a staggering amount of information. Atlas and its three sister detectors will spew a thousand times more raw data in a year than in all the world's phone calls. Every eight-hour run of the LHC will produce around 10 terabytes. At full power, the LHC could produce 10 petabytes of useful data each year. That's 1016 bytes - 2 million DVDs' worth of binary numbers encoding energy levels, momentum, charge - all in search of the one in 10 trillion anomalies that could mark the passage of a Higgs.
Discovering the Higgs might seem an esoteric goal. But the search will have a powerful real-world spinoff: to process all that data, scientists are building a worldwide meta-network of PCs, organized into large clusters and linked by ultra high-speed connections into a global, virtual computing service. It's called the LHC Computing Grid, and it could mark the evolution of the Internet from a pervasive communications network into a powerful, global computation network.
The LHC grid is already lighting up -"
In its deliberations on embryonic stem cell research, the council has framed the issue as one offering no middle ground. There is no safe position in this debate, the council's report suggests: You either believe that very early-stage human embryos -- embryos that are just several days old -- deserve special "moral consideration" and should not be used for research, or you do not. You either believe that destroying these embryos is justified in order to realize the medical miracles that researchers say are possible with stem cells, or you do not. Bush has made clear that he believes embryos must not be destroyed. What's interesting is that his own council indicates that by the logic of Bush's position, the president will have a hard time ever changing or expanding his policy -- even in the face of amazing new advances -- without abandoning what he says is his considered moral position.
[and about two pages later, this] In a sense, then, Bush is boxed in by his own moral decision, and so are we all. He is committed to his line of thinking, whatever the cost. As the bioethics council points out in its report, Tommy Thompson, Bush's secretary of health and human services, has actually said that "neither unexpected scientific breakthroughs nor unanticipated research problems would cause Bush to reconsider" his policy, because it is based on "a high moral line that this president is not going to cross."
"Like Gingrich, Bush favors investments in scientific research for the military, health care, and other areas that garner strong public and industry support. Indeed, the White House quickly points to such funding increases whenever its attitude toward science is questioned. But for an administration that has boosted spending in a great number of areas, more money for science is less telling than how the Bush administration acts when specific items on its agenda collide with scientific evidence or research needs. In almost all of those cases, the scientists get tuned out.
Ignoring expert opinion on matters of science may never cause the administration the kind of political grief it is now suffering over its WMD Iraq policy. But neither is it some benign bit of anti-elitist bias. American government has a history of investing in the capabilities and trusting the judgments of its scientific community--a legacy that has brought us sustained economic progress and unquestioned scientific leadership within the global intellectual community. For the short-term political profits that come with looking like an elite-dismissing friend of the everyman, the Bush administration has put that proud, dynamic history at real risk."
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"It was detected by telescopes on Earth and has recently been confirmed by instruments onboard the European Space Agency's orbiting Mars Express craft.
Methane lives for a short time in the Martian atmosphere so it must be being constantly replenished.
There are two possible sources: either active volcanoes, none of which have been found yet on Mars, or microbes."
"Most astronomers agree that Mars could be turned into a little Earth, though it would take decades to achieve this goal and would require massive expenditure. But many scientists are horrified by the concept.
'The idea of terraforming Mars is extreme, but it is not cranky - that is the truly horrible thing about it,' said Paul Murdin, of the Institute of Astronomy, Cambridge. 'If it was just a silly science-fiction notion, you could laugh it off. But the idea is terribly real. That is why it is dreadful. We are mucking up this world at an incredible pace at the same time that we are talking about screwing up another planet.'
Over the past months, astronomers have become increasingly confident they will find Martian lifeforms after decades of disappointment. Europe's Mars Express and America's two robot rovers, Spirit and Opportunity - which are all investigating the planet at present - have detected strong evidence that water, mixed with soil, exists in large amounts on Mars. "
"Buckyballs, a spherical form of carbon discovered in 1985 and an important material in the new field of nanotechnology, can cause extensive brain damage in fish, according to research presented yesterday at a national meeting of the American Chemical Society in Anaheim, Calif."