Wednesday, August 31, 2005

The National Guard Belongs in New Orleans and Biloxi - Not Baghdad

By Norman Solomon
Another reason to bring them home now

The men and women of the National Guard shouldn’t be killing in Iraq. They should be helping in New Orleans and Biloxi.

The catastrophic hurricane was an act of God. But the U.S. war effort in Iraq is a continuing act of the president. And now, that effort is hampering the capacity of the National Guard to save lives at home.

Before the flooding of New Orleans drastically escalated on Tuesday, the White House tried to disarm questions that could be politically explosive. “To those of you who are concerned about whether or not we’re prepared to help, don’t be, we are,” President Bush said. “We’re in place, we’ve got equipment in place, supplies in place, and once the—once we’re able to assess the damage, we’ll be able to move in and help those good folks in the affected areas.”

Echoing the official assurances, CBS News reported: “Even though more than a third of Mississippi’s and Louisiana’s National Guard troops are either in Iraq or supporting the war effort, the National Guard says there are more than enough at home to do the job.”

But after New Orleans levees collapsed and the scope of the catastrophe became more clear, such reassuring claims lost credibility. The Washington Post reported on Wednesday: “With thousands of their citizen-soldiers away fighting in Iraq, states hit hard by Hurricane Katrina scrambled to muster forces for rescue and security missions yesterday—calling up Army bands and water-purification teams, among other units, and requesting help from distant states and the active-duty military.”

The back-page Post story added: “National Guard officials in the states acknowledged that the scale of the destruction is stretching the limits of available manpower while placing another extraordinary demand on their troops—most of whom have already served tours in Iraq or Afghanistan or in homeland defense missions since 2001.”

Speaking for the Mississippi National Guard, Lt. Andy Thaggard said: “Missing the personnel is the big thing in this particular event. We need our people.” According to the Washington Post, the Mississippi National Guard “has a brigade of more than 4,000 troops in central Iraq” while “Louisiana also has about 3,000 Guard troops in Baghdad.”

National Guard troops don’t belong in Iraq. They should be rescuing and protecting in Louisiana and Mississippi, not patrolling and killing in a country that was invaded on the basis of presidential deception. They should be fighting the effects of flood waters at home—helping people in the communities they know best—not battling Iraqi people who want them to go away.

Let’s use the Internet today to forward and post this demand so widely that the politicians in Washington can no longer ignore it:

Bring the National Guard home. Immediately.

Norman Solomon is the author of the new book “War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death.” For excerpts and other information, go to:

Saturday, August 27, 2005

Post-Constitutional Amerikkka


The American Civil Liberties Union says that the FBI has used a controversial Patriot Act power to demand records from an organization that possesses "a wide array of sensitive information about library patrons, including information about the reading materials borrowed by library patrons and about Internet usage by library patrons." The FBI demand was disclosed in a new lawsuit filed in Connecticut, which remains under a heavy FBI gag order.

The ACLU is seeking an emergency court order to lift the gag so that its client can participate in the public debate about the Patriot Act as Congress prepares to reauthorize or amend it in September.

"Our client wants to tell the American public about the dangers of allowing the FBI to demand library records without court approval," said ACLU Associate Legal Director Ann Beeson, the lead lawyer in the case. "If our client could speak, he could explain why Congress should adopt additional safeguards that would limit Patriot Act powers."

Papers reveal that the client, whose identity must remain a secret under the gag, "strictly guards the confidentiality and privacy of its library and Internet records." The client is a member of the American Library Association.

The lawsuit challenges the National Security Letter provision of the Patriot Act, which authorizes the FBI to demand a range of personal records without court approval, such as the identity of a person who has visited a particular Web site on a library computer, or who has engaged in anonymous speech on the Internet. The Patriot Act dramatically expands the NSL power by permitting the FBI to demand records of people who are not suspected of any wrongdoing.

The government has repeatedly dismissed the concerns of librarians that the act could force them to violate their ethical responsibility to protect the privacy of library users. Former Attorney General John Ashcroft even called these concerns about the Patriot Act "baseless hysteria."


Sometimes Justice Manages To Get A Leg Up

ANDREW BUNCOMBE, INDEPENDENT UK - In a landmark judgment, a court in California has allowed a coalition of environmental groups to sue the US government over global warming - the first time a court has recognized the potentially disastrous impact of climate change.

A judge in San Francisco gave permission for the two groups, along with four US cities, to sue two federal development agencies that provide billions of dollars in loans to fund projects overseas. Some of the projects are power plants that emit greenhouse gases while others include pipeline projects that allow the transfer of oil.

"This is the first time a US court has given a plaintiff the right to go to court solely on the global warming issue," Geoff Hand, a Vermont-based lawyer in the case, told The Independent. "It's a great advance."

The lawsuit was brought by Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth, along with the cities of Boulder, Colorado, and the Californian cities of Oakland, Santa Monica and Arcata. In the filing the cities argued that the impact of global warming - including rising sea levels and warmer ocean temperatures - would have a negative impact on their communities.

The coastal city of Arcata said: "Arcata is presently suffering and will continue to suffer, these consequences. [The government agencies' actions] increase the risk that Arcata's interests are and will continue to be harmed by climate change."

Jerry Brown, the Mayor of Oakland, said: "Tragically, the federal government is violating federal law, which requires an assessment of cumulative impacts. This injures the citizens of Oakland, and every person in this country."

The lawsuit names two government agencies - the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (Opic) and the Export-Import Bank of the United States. It claims that 8 per cent of all the world's greenhouse gases come from projects supported by these two agencies.

Unca George Is Losin' it!

By DOUG THOMPSON, Capitol Hill Blue
Aug 25, 2005, 06:19

While President George W. Bush travels around the country in a last-ditch effort to sell his Iraq war, White House aides scramble frantically behind the scenes to hide the dark mood of an increasingly angry leader who unleashes obscenity-filled outbursts at anyone who dares disagree with him.

“I’m not meeting again with that goddamned bitch,” Bush screamed at aides who suggested he meet again with Cindy Sheehan, the war-protesting mother whose son died in Iraq. “She can go to hell as far as I’m concerned!”

Bush flashes the bird, something aides say he does often and has been doing since his days as governor of Texas.
Bush, administration aides confide, frequently explodes into tirades over those who protest the war, calling them “motherfucking traitors.” He reportedly was so upset over Veterans of Foreign Wars members who wore “bullshit protectors” over their ears during his speech to their annual convention that he told aides to “tell those VFW assholes that I’ll never speak to them again is they can’t keep their members under control.”

White House insiders say Bush is growing increasingly bitter over mounting opposition to his war in Iraq. Polls show a vast majority of Americans now believe the war was a mistake and most doubt the President’s honesty.

“Who gives a flying fuck what the polls say,” he screamed at a recent strategy meeting. “I’m the President and I’ll do whatever I goddamned please. They don’t know shit.”

Bush, whiles setting up for a photo op for signing the recent CAFTA bill, flipped an extended middle finger to reporters. Aides say the President often “flips the bird” to show his displeasure and tells aides who disagree with him to “go to hell” or to “go fuck yourself.” His habit of giving people the finger goes back to his days as Texas governor, aides admit, and videos of him doing so before press conferences were widely circulated among TV stations during those days. A recent video showing him shooting the finger to reporters while walking also recently surfaced.

Bush’s behavior, according to prominent Washington psychiatrist, Dr. Justin Frank, author of “Bush on the Couch: Inside the Mind of the President,” is all too typical of an alcohol-abusing bully who is ruled by fear.

To see that fear emerges, Dr. Frank says, all one has to do is confront the President. “To actually directly confront him in a clear way, to bring him out, so you would really see the bully, and you would also see the fear,” he says.

Dr. Frank, in his book, speculates that Bush, an alcoholic who brags that he gave up booze without help from groups like Alcoholics Anonymous, may be drinking again.

“Two questions that the press seems particularly determined to ignore have hung silently in the air since before Bush took office,” Dr. Frank says. “Is he still drinking? And if not, is he impaired by all the years he did spend drinking? Both questions need to be addressed in any serious assessment of his psychological state.”

Last year, Capitol Hill Blue learned the White House physician prescribed anti-depressant drugs for the President to control what aides called “violent mood swings.” As Dr. Frank also notes: “In writing about Bush's halting appearance in a press conference just before the start of the Iraq War, Washington Post media critic Tom Shales speculated that ‘the president may have been ever so slightly medicated.’”

Dr. Frank explains Bush’s behavior as all-to-typical of an alcoholic who is still in denial:

“The pattern of blame and denial, which recovering alcoholics work so hard to break, seems to be ingrained in the alcoholic personality; it's rarely limited to his or her drinking,” he says. “The habit of placing blame and denying responsibility is so prevalent in George W. Bush's personal history that it is apparently triggered by even the mildest threat.”

© Copyright 2005 by Capitol Hill Blue

Guide To Wingnut Logic(?)

You've got to check out Blogenlusts's "Guide to Wingnut Logic". It's hilariously dead-on!


Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Robertson Called For The Assassination Of Venezuela's President

From Media Matters for America

This is the level of political debate in America right now. The Christian Fascist Theocrats are in power, and Pat Robertson is seen as a pundit. Bear in mind that the 700 Club is considered a "family" show.

The time of fools is at hand--Pete

Pat Robertson, host of Christian Broadcasting Network's The 700 Club and founder of the Christian Coalition of America, called for the assassination of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez.

From the August 22 broadcast of The 700 Club:

ROBERTSON: There was a popular coup that overthrew him [Chavez]. And what did the United States State Department do about it? Virtually nothing. And as a result, within about 48 hours that coup was broken; Chavez was back in power, but we had a chance to move in. He has destroyed the Venezuelan economy, and he's going to make that a launching pad for communist infiltration and Muslim extremism all over the continent.

You know, I don't know about this doctrine of assassination, but if he thinks we're trying to assassinate him, I think that we really ought to go ahead and do it. It's a whole lot cheaper than starting a war. And I don't think any oil shipments will stop. But this man is a terrific danger and the United ... This is in our sphere of influence, so we can't let this happen. We have the Monroe Doctrine, we have other doctrines that we have announced. And without question, this is a dangerous enemy to our south, controlling a huge pool of oil, that could hurt us very badly. We have the ability to take him out, and I think the time has come that we exercise that ability. We don't need another $200 billion war to get rid of one, you know, strong-arm dictator. It's a whole lot easier to have some of the covert operatives do the job and then get it over with.

Ask ABC Family to discontinue broadcasting The 700 Club!

New Rules Imposed Over Truckers’ Objections

by Brendan Coyne, NewStandard

Aug 22 - The Bush administration on Friday approved national rules to allow trucking companies to demand drivers stay on the road for 11 hours a day. The decision came despite widespread opposition among drivers and in the face of data showing that lengthier hauls lead to more accidents.

Friday's decision trumps a July court ruling and allows truck drivers to work 11 hours a day, up from the previous limit of 10 hours.

Responding to Friday's announcement, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, the nation's largest truck drivers union, said the new rules are virtually the same as the ones proposed a year ago, which the federal court struck down.

"What reasonable person who has traveled our nation's roads and highways thinks that forcing tired truck drivers to stay behind the wheel even longer is good public policy?" Teamsters President James Hoffa said.

The new rules go into effect in October.

In a statement announcing the new rules, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration said the regulations improved upon rules announced in 2003. If enough rest time was taken, drivers could drive up to 11 hours per day in many instances under the old rules, said the agency, and the new rules prohibit drivers from working more than 14 hours in a single shift.

Short-haul truckers – those who work within 150 miles of a given base – will be allowed to work two 16-hour days in a row, something the Teamsters warn will undermine truckers' labor rights and could lead to roadway dangers.

In 2004, a federal court ruled that the 2003 regulatory change allowing truckers to stay on the road for 11 hours straight was "arbitrary and capricious," and endangered drivers' and motorists' health.

© 2005 The NewStandard.


Well, it would seem that all is under control in Jolly Old, eh what? Good thing for the cooler heads in law enforcement, otherwise things could get really fucked up, huh?--Pete

(From the Independent, UK]

The police claim: A man of "Asian appearance", behaving suspiciously, is shot dead by police on a Tube train in Stockwell.

The truth: The dead man, Jean Charles de Menezes, 27, was Brazilian.

The police claim: His shooting was "directly linked" to the investigation into the London bombings.

The truth: Mr de Menezes was an electrician and had nothing to do with the London bombings.

The police claim: Witnesses described him running into the Tube station, vaulting the barriers.

The truth: He walked into the station and picked up a free newspaper before entering with a travel pass. He made his way to the platform. He started to run only when the train arrived.

The police claim: Witnesses said he was wearing an "unseasonable" heavy coat, and Scotland Yard said his clothing had "added to suspicions".

The truth: Photographs of the body show Mr de Menezes wearing a blue denim jacket.

The police claim: "As I understand the situation the man was challenged and refused to obey police instructions" - Sir Ian Blair.

The truth: There was no police challenge.

The police claim: Mr de Menezes ran on to the Tube train, tripped and was shot five times by police as he lay on the floor.

The truth: CCTV footage is said to show Mr de Menezes pausing, looking left and right, and sitting on a seat facing the platform. A police witness says Mr de Menezes stood up when the police arrived. The policeman then pinned his arms to his sides and pushed him back in the seat. Mr de Menezes was then shot 10 times - three of the bullets missed.

Monday, August 22, 2005

Hunter Thompson's Last Shot

By Jan Frel
Posted on August 20, 2005

Hunter Thompson is out of here today. His ashes have been packed in among a brass monkey of fireworks shells -- and the delivery mechanism be a thing of beauty: A 150-foot tall tower in the shape of the gonzo fist holding a peyote button, which was the insignia of his Aspen Freak Party.

For a precious moment after Thompson's death, our entire print media devoted some space to consider what was so great about the man. And while many exposed their transparent jealousies and anti-drug bias, the public at least got to hear that yes, there once was a writer who wrote how he pleased about American life and politics while on cocktails of psychadelics and amphetamines, and it just so happened to be some of the most lucid stuff ever written.

Among the countless obituaries, the one I enjoyed the most was William Greider's:

If you go back and read what he wrote, particularly about politics, it was laden with this sense of yearning for something decent and honest and honorable to happen. And that wasn't fake. He really felt that. And on a personal level, he really did share your pain. It's a cliché now, but he wanted you to get over it, whatever it was. It was almost like "let's get out of this, this is bad."

Greider also captures the moment when Thompson goes down to Little Rock, Arkansas, with the Rolling Stone royalty to meet with Bill Clinton after he won the Democratic nomination in 1992:

Hunter had brought down to Little Rock various gifts for Clinton. He had decided this rendezvous we had with Clinton was going to be the four of us delivering the Rolling Stone vote to the Clinton people. That's a put on; on the other hand, he wants to believe this.

We then go to the interview, and the first gift was these reeds for a tenor saxophone. He had gotten these special French reeds which he regarded as really extraordinary. They were actually pretty routine. He gave them to Clinton and Clinton kind of looked at them, rolled them around in front of his face. Hunter later described the future president as "Sniffing the saxophone reeds like a chimp." Which is just right.

His other present for Clinton, which was quite spectacular, was a photograph he had made, and it was blown up huge, like a 3-foot by 4-foot photograph in a frame, that he had had shipped down from Colorado to Little Rock. And the photograph showed Hunter squatting on his haunches in the night, firing a rifle at a big drum of gasoline. And when he fired the drum the gasoline ignites, and blows this huge flame back in his face. It was quite striking, a dramatic picture, and Hunter entitled it, "Politics is a dirty business."

My only complaint about the funeral service for Thompson is this: Johnny Depp is to be the master of ceremonies, and I think Depp isn't up to the task. Hunter, I guess, liked him, vetted him to play himself in "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas," but that doesn't make it OK. Depp has made a bunch of safe-for-Hollywood counter-culture films, and he wasn't even a very good Hunter Thompson when he played him. HST's judgement wasn't always right, especially in his later life.

The obvious master of ceremonies is the guy who knew him from day one, and helped distribute Thompson to fame through Rolling Stone. His brother-in-arms, Jann Wenner.

© 2005 Independent Media Institute. All rights reserved.
View this story online at:

Sunday, August 21, 2005


I know there is a minority of you reading this who believe that a citizen's right to sue corporations should be curtailed but who probably believe that these same corporations should have the right to sue citizens. Doesn't look so good when stated so simply, does it?--Pete

MOLLY IVINS - SLAPP suits (for "strategic lawsuits against public participation") are a serious menace to free speech. The latest example is a real prize: The Consumers Union, publisher of Consumer Reports, has already spent $10 million defending itself against a lawsuit filed by Isuzu Motors Ltd. because, eight years earlier, Consumer Reports rated the Isuzu Trooper "not acceptable" for safety reasons. And the case has not yet reached trial.

And that is the real menace of SLAPP suits. It's not that corporations win them, but that they cost critics so much money that the critics are silenced -- and so is everyone else who even thinks about raising some question about a corporate product or practice.

Isuzu claims that CU's reports are "not scientific or credible," but the company's internal memos state that the "lawsuit is a PR tool" and "when attacked, CU will probably shut up." According to a study by two University of Denver law professors, "Americans by the thousands are being sued, simply for exercising the right to speak out on public issues, such as health and safety."



DOUG THOMPSON, CAPITOL HILL BLUE - Buy beleaguered, overworked White House aides enough drinks and they tell a sordid tale of an administration under siege, beset by bitter staff infighting and led by a man whose mood swings suggest paranoia bordering on schizophrenia.

They describe a President whose public persona masks an angry, obscenity-spouting man who berates staff, unleashes tirades against those who disagree with him and ends meetings in the Oval Office with "get out of here!" In fact, George W. Bush's mood swings have become so drastic that White House emails often contain "weather reports" to warn of the President's demeanor. "Calm seas" means Bush is calm while "tornado alert" is a warning that he is pissed at the world.

Decreasing job approval ratings and increased criticism within his own party drives the President's paranoia even higher. Bush, in a meeting with senior advisors, called Senator Majority Leader Bill Frist a "god-damned traitor" for opposing him on stem-cell research. "There's real concern in the West Wing that the President is losing it," a high-level aide told me recently.

A year ago, this web site discovered the White House physician prescribed anti-depressants for Bush. The news came after revelations that the President's wide mood swings led some administration staffers to doubt his sanity.


DAVID STOUT, NY TIMES - The Senate majority leader, Bill Frist, aligned himself with President Bush today when he said that the theory of "intelligent design" should be taught along with evolution in public schools. Teaching intelligent design as well as evolution "doesn't force any particular theory on anyone," Senator Frist, Republican of Tennessee, said in Nashville, according to The Associated Press. "I think in a pluralistic society that is the fairest way to go about education and training people for the future."


Thursday, August 18, 2005


Boy Howdy! You betcha, buddy! Go ahead, make Hugo's day, Unca George! While we're at it, rememeber that Citgo is the Anti-Bush gas -- it's Venezuelan! Fuel at Citgo as often as possible, 'kay?--Pete

AFP - Venezuela's energy minister, Rafael Ramirez, said that Caracas is "ready and willing" to cut off its oil supply to the United States, if there are any signs of aggression from the superpower toward his country. . . On Sunday, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez threatened to end oil exports to the United States if Washington did not stop its "aggressions."

"We do not want to break relations with the US government; it is not in our plans," Chavez said. "But if the aggressions continue, ... this could put diplomatic relations between Venezuela and the United States at risk."

Washington's attacks could provoke "something more serious: These two daily boats full of Venezuelan oil could head another way instead of going to the United States," warned Chavez, whose country is the fourth-largest provider of oil to the United States, supplying some 1.5 million barrels a day. "The US market is not indispensable to us," he told thousands of young people taking part in a youth festival at a Caracas arena.


New Abuse Photos Could Spark Riots, US General Warns

by William Fisher

I'm guessing that these are pretty damning, waddaya think?--Pete

NEW YORK - Civil libertarians and the Pentagon appear headed for yet another trainwreck in the ongoing dispute over the so-called second batch of photos from Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq.

In response to a lawsuit by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), the Centre for Constitutional Rights (CCR), and a number of medical and veterans groups demanding release of 87 new videos and photographs depicting detainee abuse at the now infamous prison, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Richard Myers, said the release would result in ”riots, violence and attacks by insurgents.”

In court papers filed to contest the lawsuit, Gen. Myers said he consulted with Gen. John P. Abizaid, head of the United States Central Command, and Gen. George W. Casey Jr., the commander of the U.S. forces in Iraq. Both officers also opposed the release, Gen. Myers said.

He believes the release of the photos would ”incite public opinion in the Muslim world and put the lives of American soldiers and officials at risk,” according to documents unsealed in federal court in New York.

”The situation on the ground in Iraq is dynamic and dangerous,” Myers added, with 70 insurgent attacks daily. He also said there was evidence that the Taliban was gaining ground because of popular discontent in Afghanistan.

Gen. Myers cited the violence that erupted in some Muslim countries in May after Newsweek published an item, which it later retracted, saying that a Koran had been thrown in a toilet in the United States detention center in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. He also said the images could fuel terrorist disinformation campaigns.

”It is probable that Al Qaeda and other groups will seize upon these images and videos as grist for their propaganda mill, which will result in, besides violent attacks, increased terrorist recruitment, continued financial support and exacerbation of tensions between Iraqi and Afghani populaces and U.S. and coalition forces,” he said.

The 87 ”new” photos and four videotapes taken at Abu Ghraib were among those turned over to Army investigators last year by Specialist Joseph M. Darby, a reservist who was posted at the prison.

In legal papers unsealed last week, the ACLU and its allied groups urged the court to order the release of photographs and videos, and also asked the court to reject the government's attempt to file some of its legal arguments in secret.

It said that until the first photos of detainee abuse at Abu Ghraib were made public in April 2004, the government had consistently denied that any wrongdoing had taken place, despite news reports to the contrary. Since then, the ACLU has obtained, through a court order, more than 60,000 pages of government documents regarding torture and abuse of detainees.

At a court hearing on Monday, the judge said he generally ruled in favour of public disclosure and ordered the government to reveal some redacted parts of its argument for blocking the release of pictures and videotapes.

U.S. District Judge Alvin K. Hellerstein said his rulings pertained to arguments by Gen. Myers. ”By and large, I ruled in favour of public disclosure,” he said.

The judge said he believes photographs ”are the best evidence the public can have of what occurred” at the prison.

Right Here In River City, Folks!

Apparently one is no longer allowed to express one's dissenting opinion in our bright, shining example of freedom here in the USA. Freedom must be "on the march", because it sure as hell is marching right the fuck outa here!--Pete


U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum, the Republican from Pennsylvania, espouses many controversial views -- that women shouldn't work outside the home, that legalizing gay marriage would lead to legalizing polygamy and bestiality, that government should discourage birth control.

He's even written a book, "It Takes a Family," to spread his viewpoint.

Understandably, people who disagree would like to tell him so. But, as several teenagers and some of their parents found out last week, trying to do that in Delaware could land you in jail. Santorum appeared at the Barnes & Noble bookstore adjacent to Concord Mall on U.S. 202 Wednesday night for what was billed as a book signing and discussion. College students Stacey Galperin and Miriam Rocek of Newark decided to attend to hear what he had to say.

"I knew about him from his promotion of the federal marriage amendment," said Rocek, 19. "I thought I would go and just talk to him during the book signing, tell him I disagreed with a lot of his policies, just engage him in dialogue."

Hannah Shaffer, an 18-year-old from Glen Mills, Pa., who graduated in June from Garnet Valley High School, and several friends had the same idea.

"When I got there about 6 o'clock, a group of young people had congregated," Shaffer said. The handful of Garnet Valley students and the girls from Newark started talking about the event, and someone joked about having Santorum sign a book by a gay author.

That drew the attention of someone on Santorum's advance team.

According to Shaffer, the woman "called them shameful and said she was disgusted by the reasons they were there, that they should be there to support [Santorum]."

"Rick Santorum's security team felt they were going to be a security threat and asked them to leave," said Amanda Winnington, the community relations manager for the Barnes & Noble store.

The security, however, wasn't provided by a private guard, but by off-duty Delaware State Police Sgt. Michael DiJiacomo, who was hired for the occasion through a private security service. No official report of the incident was filed because no arrests were made, but state police spokesman Lt. Joe Aviola said, "As I understand it, they actually were being disorderly within the store. Someone overheard them saying they were going to cause a disruption."

That's not quite the version the teens related. "I heard [DiJiacomo] ask the woman, 'Do you want me to get rid of them,?' " Galperin said. "I went to tell the kids the cop was going to kick them out, and he was very pushy. He came up to us and said, 'If you don't leave you'll be arrested, and if you can't post bail you'll be put in prison.' He said it was private property and we would be arrested for trespassing."

When the girls protested that they hadn't done anything, DiJiacomo told them they were under arrest. After taking them from the store, Galperin said, "He told Miriam to put her hands on the car and kept telling us, 'You're going to embarrass your family, you won't get into college with this on your record.' "

After checking their identification, though, DiJiacomo let the two college students leave.

The younger teens, meanwhile, had gone to Concord Mall to call their parents to pick them up. When Hannah's mother, Heidi Shaffer, arrived, DiJiacomo had told the teens they were banned indefinitely not only from the bookstore but the entire mall next door.

"He told me this wasn't the time or place for these kids to protest," Heidi Shaffer said. "He [also] told me if any of the children was arrested I would have to appear in court, and that I could not take any of the kids into the store unless I wanted to be charged with contributing to the delinquency of a minor. I said I wanted to talk to the Barnes & Noble management, and he said it's not up to the management, that Barnes & Noble had no authority.

"What he told me was, 'They don't want you there,' that it was all under the direction of Santorum. Maybe he was making it up, because I called Santorum's people and they've denied it to me, but I got the impression they didn't want anyone there who didn't agree with him."

Barnes & Noble's Winnington confirmed that only customers who had a receipt for Santorum's book were allowed near him.

Officials of the Intercollegiate Studies Institute in Greenville, which published Santorum's book, did not return calls for comment.

"These are all honor students," Heidi Shaffer said. "It was unconscionable. I don't know when they passed a law in Delaware that said you can't have a cup of coffee and discuss your opposition to a book."

They haven't yet, but give them time.

Al Mascitti's weblog, First Statements, appears at Contact him at 324-2866 or


...Holy shit!. Let's hope someone hangs for this--Pete

Remember Jean Charles de Menezes, the Brazilian electrician wearing a heavy jacket who was mistakenly shot and killed after he jumped a turnstile and ran from police in a London tube station? It turns out that not only is none of that true, but he was even in custody when they shot him. From the Guardian:

It has now emerged that Mr. de Menezes:

* was never properly identified because a police officer was relieving himself at the very moment he was leaving his home;

* was unaware he was being followed;

* was not wearing a heavy padded jacket or belt as reports at the time suggested;

* never ran from the police;

* and did not jump the ticket barrier.

But the revelation that will prove most uncomfortable for Scotland Yard was that the 27-year-old electrician had already been restrained by a surveillance officer before being shot seven times in the head and once in the shoulder.

...."He immediately stood up and advanced towards me and the CO19 [firearms squad] officers ... I grabbed the male in the denim jacket by wrapping both my arms around his torso, pinning his arms to his side. I then pushed him back on to the seat where he had been previously sitting ... I then heard a gun shot very close to my left ear and was dragged away on to the floor of the carriage."

This is going to be "uncomfortable" for Scotland Yard? If this is all true, it ought to be considerably more than that.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Post Drops Plan to Promote Pentagon Event

By David Montgomery
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, August 16, 2005

The Washington Post announced yesterday that it will back out of a controversial co-sponsorship of a Pentagon-organized event next month to remember the victims of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks and support the troops in Iraq.

The newspaper notified the Department of Defense that it would no longer donate public service advertising space to help promote the Freedom Walk, an event planned for Sept. 11. At the conclusion of the procession from the Pentagon to the Mall, there will be a performance by country star Clint Black, who recorded the song "I Raq and Roll."

"As it appears that this event could become politicized, The Post has decided to honor the Washington area victims of 9/11 by making a contribution directly to the Pentagon Memorial Fund," said Eric Grant, a Post spokesman. "It is The Post's practice to avoid activities that might lead readers to question the objectivity of The Post's news coverage."

The Pentagon expressed disappointment. "It's unfortunate that The Washington Post has made this decision not to support the Freedom Walk," said Allison Barber, deputy assistant secretary of defense for communications. "But we do welcome their donation to the Pentagon fund."

Other media co-sponsors of the event are WTOP Radio, WJLA television and NewsChannel8. Officials with those outlets were out of the office and could not be reached late yesterday.

Pentagon officials have maintained that the event is intended to be a non-political homage to the victims and a salute to veterans past and present, devoid of commentary on the merits of the war in Iraq. The Post's corporate officials emphasized that distinction after its involvement was the subject of a Post story Friday. But The Post's participation was criticized by members of the antiwar movement and by journalists in the paper's own newsroom who posted messages on an internal electronic discussion board. These critics said the co-sponsorship could hurt the paper's credibility in covering the war and antiwar demonstrations.

"Post news employees are subject to disciplinary action for participating in political activities that may be perceived as revelatory of personal opinions or bias," said a resolution passed earlier yesterday by the leadership of The Post unit of the Washington-Baltimore Newspaper Guild. "The Washington Post itself should be held to the same high standard. . . . The Guild supports The Post's stated intention of honoring the nation's veterans, including those who have served in Iraq. But the Post undermines this goal by lending its support to a political event that links the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks to the war in Iraq -- a link that The Post, in its reporting, has shown to be false."

Grant acknowledged the negative reaction that the paper's initial stance received but said managers also began to reconsider the nature of the event.

"There was some criticism," he said, "but just as important was the fact that there seemed to be an increased possibility that the event could become politicized."

Peace activist Bill Dobbs yesterday welcomed the Post's change of heart.

"The reason why this was the right thing to do is that the press needs to have an arm's-length relationship with the government to hold them accountable," said Dobbs, a spokesman for United for Peace and Justice, a national coalition participating in three days of antiwar activities -- also including a concert and march -- scheduled to begin Sept. 24. "This is a victory for . . . people who cherish The Post's reputation."

Barber, however, said critics are misconstruing the Freedom Walk. "This is . . . not a political event," she said, noting that, in addition, on Sept. 10 the public will have its first opportunity to visit the Pentagon to see where the terrorists crashed the airliner and to tour a memorial chapel.

"We were counting on The Post, who seemed to understand that this is really not anything but a Freedom Walk, to let the D.C. area know about this wonderful opportunity," Barber said. "We'll reach out through other communication channels."

Barber said as of last evening the other media co-sponsors had not notified her of any change in plans.
© 2005 The Washington Post Company

Rumsfeld Makes Surprise Visit To Wife's Vagina

WASHINGTON, DC—Amid rumors of sagging morale on the home front, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld greeted his wife Joyce Monday with an unanticipated visit to her vagina, according to the Pentagon.

"Today, at about 1600 hours EST, Secretary Rumsfeld landed in the vagina and delivered cordial greetings to Mrs. Rumsfeld," said Pentagon spokesman Lt. Col. William Brock. "The focus of the trip was to thank Mrs. Rumsfeld for her long years of outstanding service and continuing sacrifices, and to afford the defense secretary an opportunity to survey the vagina up close and in person."

The 12-minute visit, described by Brock as "brief but satisfactory," was characterized by sources close to the vagina as an "in and out" mission.

Because of security concerns, Rumsfeld's aides were quiet about the visit, taking extra efforts to conceal the defense secretary's plans from the media and his wife. After delivering a speech to his wife, Rumsfeld performed a brief inspection of her vagina, then engaged in a few minutes of relaxed, informal contact before returning to the Pentagon.

"Despite the hurried nature of the visit, I am proud to report that my wife met and exceeded the operational standards set by the U.S. military for readiness in a two-front war," said Rumsfeld in a press conference shortly after the visit. "I am confident that she can still stand up to heavy fire and serve ably, even in a rearguard action."

The visit comes at a time in which controversial rumors have spread throughout Washington about low morale on the part of Mrs. Rumsfeld. Reports from confidantes indicate that her vagina is being undersupplied by the Department of Defense, and extended tours of duty have stirred up feelings of discontent. Although the two have faithfully served one another since 1954, Secretary Rumsfeld's busy schedule and demanding obligations have prevented him from visiting the fertile crescent since last November's highly publicized surprise visit.

A brief question-and-answer period following the visit revealed some difference of opinion between Rumsfeld and the woman whose vagina he is charged with supplying. When she asked the defense secretary if she could expect "more consistent support" from him in the future, Mrs. Rumsfeld received a characteristically salty reply.

"Naturally, I would like to spend more time in the vaginal region," Rumsfeld said. "But we have a difficult mission to complete, both at home and on the front. Everyone in this conflict is making sacrifices. You go to the vagina with the equipment you have."

This explanation did not satisfy Judith Proudfit, executive director of Veterans' Wives Against The War and a sharp critic of the Bush Administration. Proudfit called Rumsfeld's visit a "craven publicity move intended to foster the illusion that Rumsfeld is in touch with his wife's vagina."

"Rumsfeld's blunt, defensive response clearly indicates that he has no intention of making her a top priority," Proudfit said. "The situation in Mrs. Rumsfeld's vagina was in no way improved by such a brief encounter."

Continued Proudfit: "It is a true testament to Mrs. Rumsfeld's patience, stamina, and patriotism that she continues to serve her husband under such duress."

When asked about future plans for his wife's vagina, Rumsfeld grew somber.

"This vagina has seen a lot of action," Rumsfeld said. "And much of its infrastructure has fallen into disrepair. I do believe, however, that my wife's sustained efforts under my direction will ultimately allow us to re-establish order in this troubled area."

The Pentagon would not confirm a rumor that President Bush is scheduled to drop in on the vagina with a holiday turkey around Christmas.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Newspaper Union Calls on Paper to Quit Pentagon Propaganda Event

by Brendan Coyne, NewStandard

Aug 16 - The union representing workers with the Washington Post is asking the paper to withdraw its sponsorship of a Pentagon-crafted rally taking place this September 11.

At a meeting yesterday, leaders of the Washington Post unit of the Washington-Baltimore Newspaper Guild voted unanimously to issue a resolution asking the paper's publisher to immediately withdraw its backing of the "America Supports You Freedom Walk," a government-run event that purports to honor the victims of the September 11 terrorist attacks along with US military troops, Editor & Publisher reported yesterday.

In calling on the Washington Post Company to pull its sponsorship for the event, the Guild resolution noted that the paper's policies prohibit reporters from participating in political events, according to Editor & Publisher.

"Post news employees are subject to disciplinary action for participating in political activities that may be perceived as revelatory of personal opinions or bias," the resolution reportedly reads. "The Washington Post itself should be held to the same high standard."

The new developments come after anti-war groups contacted the paper last week in response to news that the parent company was one of eight official sponsors of the walk, the Post reported Friday. A Washington, DC radio station and the ABC parent for two local television stations are co-sponsors, as are Lockheed Martin, Subway, the Washington Convention and Tourism Corporation, the Pentagon Federal Credit Union and the military publication, Stars & Stripes.

Friday, Post publisher Bo Jones told E&P that the DC paper would withdraw support if it appeared the event became political in nature. The paper has been running public service ads about the upcoming event.

The Newspaper Guild resolution takes issue with claims that the event is not political.

"The Guild supports the Post's stated intention of honoring the nation's veterans, including those who have served in Iraq," the resolution reads. "But the Post undermines this goal by lending its support to a political event that links the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks to the war in Iraq -- a link that the Post, in its reporting, has shown to be false," Editor & Publisher reported.

Monday, August 15, 2005


U.S. Federal District Judge John Bates ordered payment of a $20,000 fine imposed against Voices in the Wilderness. Voices was fined for bringing medicine to Iraq in a classic campaign of open nonviolent civil disobedience to challenge the economic sanctions imposed by the U.S. and the U.N. against Iraq. The U.S. Treasury Department initially imposed the fine in 2002, days after Voices participated in international actions to oppose the U.S. buildup for war against Iraq.

Voices in the Wilderness issued the following statement: "Today, the judiciary branch of the U.S. government completed a perfect trifecta of inhumanity in upholding a $20,000 fine against Voices in the Wilderness for bringing medicine to Iraqi citizens. Judge Bates agrees that it was lawful and proper for the U.S. government to deny needed drugs and medical supplies to Iraq's most vulnerable citizens, despite the evidence that several hundred thousand innocent children were dying because of brutal economic sanctions.

"Voices will not pay a penny of this fine. The economic sanctions regime imposed brutal and lethal punishment on Iraqi people. The U.S. government would not allow Iraq to rebuild its water treatment system after the U.S. military deliberately destroyed it in 1991. The U.S. government denied Iraq the ability to purchase blood bags, medical needles and medicine in adequate supplies-destroying Iraq's health care
system. . .

Hold the Applause for

By Jeff Milchen, AlterNet
Posted on August 13, 2005

In July, executives had more reasons to celebrate than just pre-selling 1.5 million copies of the latest Harry Potter hardcover. Spurred by a favorable second-quarter financial report, the company's stock value jumped 16 percent on July 27, wiping out six months of decline in a single day.

Then Amazon's tenth birthday sparked a wave of laudatory press coverage for founder Jeff Bezos and his "revolutionary business model." Which is great for Bezos -- but for me, evaluating Amazon's first decade revived some nagging concerns about the future of books and our decidedly un-free markets.

The "revolutionary" company lost billions of dollars -- an average of $376 million annually during its first eight years -- yet it kept enticing speculators to pump more money into the company's stock. Amazon's speculation-fueled growth contributed to the net loss of more than 2,000 independent book and music sellers during its first decade.

Unlike its independent competitors, Amazon operated in the casino economy of the stock market, not the world of market competition. Amazon accounts for only about seven percent of overall U.S. book sales, but in combination with the proliferation of book chains and mass discounters, its growth hurt independents substantially.

The American Booksellers Association (ABA), the major trade group of independent bookstores, saw its membership sliced nearly in half during Amazon's first decade (independents' market share for new books has now stabilized, at about 10 percent). While Amazon operated a legitimized Ponzi scheme for years, it was and still is subsidized by federal law.

In 1992, the U.S. Supreme Court interpreted the Constitution rather creatively for corporate benefit, ruling that states could not unilaterally decide to collect sales tax on catalog or Internet sales to in-state residents (unless authorized by Congress). To do so, the Court majority claimed, would unfairly disrupt the expectations of mail order and Internet businesses to operate free of sales taxes.

Congress thus far has failed to fix this discrepancy, despite its members' campaign rhetoric about "supporting small business." As a result, storefront businesses typically are burdened by a six to eight percent penalty on every sale (in the 45 states with statewide sales taxes).

Amazon's use of financial and political power to succeed wasn't a new model, but a cyber-version of what many chain stores have done for decades. State and local subsidies to book chains and big box discounters regularly disadvantage community businesses and distort market competition.

For example, Wal-Mart (the fastest-growing book seller) alone has extracted well over $1 billion in such subsidies to build stores and distribution centers or to keep the company from following through on threats to shutter a store. Independent booksellers were also harmed for years by collusion between the largest chains and publishers to violate the Robinson-Patman Act -- written to prevent big business from using market dominance to eliminate competition.

Among other provisions, Robinson forbids retailers to "request" and receive terms of sale they know to be illegal (i.e., discounts not justified by economies of scale). The chains were accused of negotiating illegal discounts and perks unavailable to the independents.

Sunday, August 14, 2005

Let's Hear It For Cindy!

How about three cheers for Cindy Sheehan, huh? Never before has BushCo encountered such a dogged opponent, standing firm blow for blow, shrugging off ignorant tirades from hate radio, weathering empty threats of arrest on "security" grounds, all while asking only for a meeting and a reason for her son's as well as other's deaths in the hell-hole that our military has made in Iraq.


Saturday, August 13, 2005


MARK HERTSGAARD, SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE -Environmentalists center their critique on safety concerns: Nuclear reactors can suffer meltdowns from malfunctions or terrorist attacks; radioactivity is released in all phases of the nuclear production cycle from uranium mining through fission; the problem of waste disposal still hasn't been solved; civilian nuclear programs can spur weapons proliferation. But absent a Chernobyl-scale disaster, such arguments may not prove to be decisive. . .

The case against nuclear power as a global warming remedy begins with the fact that nuclear-generated electricity is very expensive. Despite more than $150 billion in federal subsides over the past 60 years (roughly 30 times more than solar, wind and other renewable energy sources have received), nuclear power costs substantially more than electricity made from wind, coal, oil or natural gas. This is mainly due to the cost of borrowing money for the decade or more it usually takes to get a nuclear plant up and running.

Remarkably, this inconvenient fact does not deter industry officials from boasting that nuclear is the cheapest power available. Their trick is to count only the cost of operating the plants, not of constructing them. By that logic, a Rolls-Royce is cheap to drive because the gasoline but not the sticker price matters. The marketplace, however, sees through such blarney. As Amory Lovins, the soft energy guru who directs the Rocky Mountain Institute, a Colorado think tank that advises corporations and governments on energy use, points out, "Nowhere (in the world) do market-driven utilities buy, or private investors finance, new nuclear plants." Only large government intervention keeps the nuclear option alive.

A second strike against nuclear is that it produces only electricity, but electricity amounts to only one third of America's total energy use (and less of the world's). Nuclear power thus addresses only a small fraction of the global warming problem, and has no effect whatsoever on two of the largest sources of carbon emissions: driving vehicles and heating buildings.

The upshot is that nuclear power is seven times less cost-effective at displacing carbon than the cheapest, fastest alternative -- energy efficiency, according to studies by the Rocky Mountain Institute. For example, a nuclear power plant typically costs at least.


NEW SCIENTIST, The world's largest frozen peat bog is melting. An area stretching for a million square kilometers across the permafrost of western Siberia is turning into a mass of shallow lakes as the ground melts, according to Russian researchers just back from the region. The sudden melting of a bog the size of France and Germany combined could unleash billions of tons of methane, a potent greenhouse gas, into the atmosphere.

The news of the dramatic transformation of one of the world's least visited landscapes comes from Sergei Kirpotin, a botanist at Tomsk State University, Russia, and Judith Marquand at the University of Oxford. Kirpotin describes an "ecological landslide that is probably irreversible and is undoubtedly connected to climatic warming". He says that the entire western Siberian sub-Arctic region has begun to melt, and this "has all happened in the last three or four years. . . Western Siberia has warmed faster than almost anywhere else on the planet, with an increase in average temperatures of some 3 °C in the last 40 years.

Friday, August 12, 2005

The Passing Icon

This post from Alternet tells it like it is and has been for two decades.--Pete

By Tony Seton, AlterNet
Posted on August 10, 2005, Printed on August 12, 2005

There are very few deaths one should cheer, but there are far too many that generate undeserved accolades. Perhaps more carefully expressed: accolades without adequate qualification. When Richard Nixon died, many spoke of his checkered -- Checkers included -- past, but few talked substantively about his heinous record before and during the McCarthy era, his prolongation of the war in Vietnam, and his attempts to undermine civil liberties. Ronald Reagan, who squandered trillions on the military and presided over the purchase of Congress, was all but canonized.

So it is with Peter Jennings, the vaunted ABC News anchorman who died of lung cancer over the weekend at the age of 67. He had traveled the world, delivering news to tens of millions of people thousands of evenings over dozens of years. There will be a recitation of the historic events on which he reported and the myriad awards and other recognition that were bestowed upon him.

Though certainly he wasn't criminal in the sense of the politicians who are excessively fêted upon their demise, there is another side to the Jennings story that will likely go unreported because it involves nuance in a broad-strokes society. And because we're living with the results of his reign, it also involves consequences we don't want to acknowledge.

Peter Jennings, Dan Rather and Tom Brokaw were the catbirds during the decline of network television news. They not only anchored but they also had themselves credited as the managing editors of their broadcasts, so none of them can escape responsibility for what they did and didn't do. Let's make clear, too, that they weren't told what to say by their corporate bosses. And the result of their tenure that jumps out is the 50 percent decline in the television audience watching them every night.

Some might ascribe the drop in ratings to the wider choice presented by cable and satellite, but that is only part of the picture. The larger truth is that after Walter Cronkite left in 1981, the quality of the network news began to slip. The focus shifted from the steak to the sizzle. It was apparent in the ratio of features to hard news, a programming decision designed to attract more viewers for the "entertainment" value of such programming.

Another proof of the slide was the commercials, which shifted toward targeting an older audience, the only people still watching, mostly out of habit. Network news became something of a palliative, losing its relevance in a complicated world that required more time and better writing to explain. The producers, abetted by the anchors, decided the audience wouldn't sit still for any explanations that required thought, so they fed them pathos and pictures.

Here's a metaphor. Ask someone to complete the phrase, "A picture is worth ... " and 999 times out 1,000 the answer will be "a thousand words." However, if you look up the phrase in Bartlett's, you'll find that the original Chinese expression was "ten thousand words." Such is the power of the editor. If it takes too long to explain, leave it for the newspapers. TV news, its producers insist, is just a headline service.

Another failure of the network news operations, anchored by Jennings, Brokaw and Rather – plus MacNeil-Lehrer at PBS and the second-stringers who gravitated to cable -- was that they bent over backwards to avoid charges from Republicans that they were too liberal when they reported on the calamitous doings of the Reagan Administration. They let important stories slip from view after a news cycle because they didn't want to appear biased. In fact, they were biased -- in favor of avoiding being attacked for justly informing the American people on the critical issues of the day.

They never stood up again, and that is why so many in our country were deceived into believing there was justification for invading Iraq. If any of the network news anchors alone had insisted on reporting the truth, the invasion couldn't have happened, but all of them were cowed. They hid behind the excuse that the opposition party didn't object so there weren't any objections to report. Perhaps they had private misgivings, but probably not. You can't supplicate for two decades and still really care.

Indeed, what Jennings, Brokaw and Rather did borders on treason. If you think that's ridiculous hyperbole, consider what has happened to our country over the past quarter-century. An honest history of that time would illuminate the unconscionable interventions in Grenada, Beirut, Panama, Nicaragua and El Salvador; the instigation of the first Gulf War; the giveaways to the agriculture, telecommunications, energy, insurance and pharmaceutical industries; the purchase of our political system by special interests ... the wide spread degradation of our once-great nation.

And the fault lies squarely on the shoulders not just of politicians, but also of the media that allowed their lies to spread like a thick coating of manure over an undiscerning public. These purported news anchors were the color commentators as the naked emperor paraded his perversion through the corridors of power.

I worked with Peter Jennings during the 1970s, writing his copy when he anchored the news on "AM America" and producing news coverage when he was an anchor on "World News Tonight." He was a decent-enough fellow, though completely taken with himself. He could work very hard, strive for the finest in reportage but at times he was officious and other times lazy.

It is not unfair to compare him to long-term politicians by noting that during his tenure, the United States went from being the leading creditor nation to the leading debtor nation; that we now supply half the world's arms, we rank 40th in infant mortality, we have more people in prison than any other developed nation, and the gap between our rich and poor is astronomical.

Jennings, Brokaw and Rather had the power to do something, to solve problems, or at least to turn them around, by revealing the facts and exploring possibilities. They didn't. They had the attention of a news-hungry nation and they fed them a gruel-thin diet of meaninglessness masquerading as journalism. There were no major scoops, no Deep Throats, no holding to the fire the feet of the fools and miscreants who had taken over leadership of the nation.

Perhaps as we would love the sinner while hating the sin, it is appropriate to mourn the man. But if we are to be truthful about his record, it is necessary that we also rue the depth of his anchor.

© 2005 Independent Media Institute. All rights reserved.
View this story online at:

New Setback for Evolution Education in Kansas

by Brendan Coyne

Aug 11 - In what many warn is a frightening setback for science education in the United States, the Kansas State Board of Education made a preliminary decision that the theory of evolution should be eliminated from required school curriculum yesterday.

Barry Lynn, executive director of Americans United for the Separation of Church and State, told CNN that the Kansas decision "took us back 100 years in science teaching and education."

The American Institute of Biological Sciences (AIBS) and National Center for Science Education (NCSE) warned that Kansas' school children will be unprepared for college and the adult world if they are not taught evolution.

The new rules will begin in the 2007-2008 school year. Reportedly, public school science classes across the state will no longer be required to teach evolution. Instead, districts, schools and teachers will be left to craft their own standards for teaching the origin and development of life on Earth.

© 2005 The NewStandard

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Drug War Hypocrisy

In the midst of a frenetic Department of Justice scramble to secure America against the sort of terrorists that assaulted us on 9/11, there stood Ashcroft and his colleagues, announcing the arrest of...Tommy Chong. For selling -- what else? -- bongs.

Although Chong's son Paris was the chief architect of the company Chong Glass -- as well as its Nice Dreams series of smoking pipes -- it was Tommy (the stoner icon that helped make Cheech and Chong one of 20th-century counterculture's funnier experiments) that "was the more responsible corporate officer, because he financed and marketed the product," U.S. Attorney Mary Beth Buchanan told LA Weekly. The punishment came down on Chong, ironically enough, on September 11, 2003: Nine-month prison bid, $20,000 fine and more than $100,000 in personal assets seized.

And while some may not blink at that sentence, it's fair to rewind the clock some before moving onward into America's continuing war on weed.

In the mid-'90s, when Dan Burton, Jr., son of the virulently anti-drug U.S. Rep. Dan Burton (R-IN), was busted in Louisiana for transporting almost eight pounds of marijuana, and was found a scant six months afterwards in his Indianapolis residence with 30 cannabis plants and a shotgun nearby, the feds declined to prosecute the case. Instead, Burton was ordered by a Louisiana judge to engage in community service. (This is the same Rep. Burton who tried to pass a bill that would subject some drug traffickers to the death penalty, and who obsessively helped rake President Clinton over Monica Lewinsky's coals.)

When Republican congressman Spencer Bachus' son Warren was apprehended in 1993 for possession of cannabis -- as well as possession of the kind of drug paraphernalia that cost Tommy Chong nine months of his life and a suitcase full of $100 dollar bills -- the younger Bachus wasn't even convicted. In fact, he was set free after paying $56 in court expenses.

Fast forward several years later and nothing, as far as the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) is concerned, seems to have changed on the cannabis front.

Unless you ask the 500 law enforcement and child welfare service agencies across the 45 states that participated in the National Association of Counties (NACO) recent survey on drugs, in which over 58 percent of those polled argued that meth -- not marijuana -- is the nation's top drug epidemic. In fact, less than 20 percent polled named cocaine as a major culprit, and an even smaller contingency laid the blame at the feet of cannabis. All of which seems to conflict with the arguments of the DEA and Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) -- which is managed by the nation's drug czar, John P. Walters -- who contend that cannabis is still the nation's de facto drug problem.

This attitude seems to fly in the face of scientific facts, whether they are provided by cannabis anti-jail groups like the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP) and National Organization to Reform Marijuana Laws (NORML), or hard-science advocates like the nonprofit Institute of Medicine (IOM), a component of the National Academy of Sciences which conducts research and dispenses advice to the nation-at-large on medicine, biology and health.

"Both the DEA and ONDCP[‘s missions are] to make sure that marijuana remains illegal," argues Keith Stroup, NORML's executive director. "ONDCP regularly puts out press releases and runs public service ads claiming marijuana is the number one drug problem we face in America today. Keep in mind, alcohol kills 50,000 people each year; tobacco kills 430,000 people each year. Marijuana has never killed anyone from an overdose in the history of mankind."


Big Brother Nixes Happy Hour

NLRB Green Lights Ban on Off-Duty Fraternizing Among Co-Workers

Workers Rights Watch Eye on the NLRBIt is a regular pastime for co-workers to chat during a coffee break, at a union hall, or over a beer about workplace issues, good grilling recipes, and celebrity gossip. Yet a recent ruling by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) allows employers to ban off-duty fraternizing among co-workers, severely weakening the rights of free association and speech, and violating basic standards of privacy for America's workers.

So how did the NLRB decide to weaken fundamental workplace protections? Security firm Guardsmark instituted a rule directing employees not to "fraternize on duty or off duty, date, or become overly friendly with the client's employees or with co-employees." In September 2003, the Service Employees International Union filed unfair labor practice charges with the NLRB against Guardsmark, claiming that the company's work rules inhibited its employees' Section 7 rights.

Section 7 of the National Labor Relations Act grants workers the right to "self-organization, to form, join, or assist labor organizations…and to engage in other concerted activities for the purpose of collective bargaining or other mutual aid or protection..." While the law allows employers to ban association among co-workers during work hours, Guardsmark's rule was broader in that it applied to the off-duty association of co-workers.

On June 7, 2005, the Board ruled 2 to 1 that Guardsmark's fraternization rule was lawful. The Board majority argued that workers would likely interpret the fraternization rule as merely a ban on dating, and not a prohibition of the association among co-workers protected by Section 7. But the dissenting member of the Board pointed out that since the rule already mentions dating, workers would understand fraternization to mean something else. She noted, "the primary meaning of the term 'fraternize…[is] to associate in a brotherly manner'…and that kind of association is the essence of workplace solidarity."

While there are reasons for employers to ban dating among co-workers (namely to prevent sexual harassment), prohibiting off-duty fraternization is something quite different. Such a ban inevitably chills collective action of any sort—be it on a purely social basis or related to employees discussing whether to form a union or not.

Since employers are not obligated to inform employees of their legally-protected right to associate with their co-workers, how can we expect any employee to assume that a rule banning fraternization doesn't interfere with these rights? And why would someone risk violating a no-fraternization rule, given that most employees work 'at will'—meaning they can be fired for no reason?

America's workers need more opportunities to come together to discuss vexing workplace issues, or just to make personal connections with those we spend most of our waking hours with. But the NLRB gives employers the green light to invade our privacy and chip away at our most basic rights in the workplace.

Growing Workforce, Shrinking Protection

Number of U.S. workers for every employee of the NLRB:
In 1980: 30,1762
In 2003: 69,4073

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Car-Free News In Brief

- Ukranian president Victor Yuschenko has disbanded the country's traffic police department because they are too corrupt.

- In the wake of the attacks on the London Underground, cycling trips are up by 50,000 a week.

- If you walk up to a "drive-thru" window [where people can order burgers and coffee without getting out of their cars] at Dunkin' Donuts you will not get served.

- Polish Environment Minister Tomasz Podgajniak called his country's plans for a new motorway network behind the times because the "automotive industry is not so crucial for the development of the economy as it used to be."

- Chrysler is organising street parties (called "Rock the Block") for Chrysler owners only. For US$95 owners can learn cigar rolling and improve their golf swing.

- Denmark's vehicle registration tax is EUR16,000, the highest in Europe.

- The Indian state of Gujarat, writes the Institute for Transportatation and Development Policy, is promoting bike lanes in the capital, Ahmedabad.

- David Piper, the new head of General Motors Powertrain Europe, was hit and killed by a car, a day before he was scheduled to assume his new duties. He was riding his bicycle.

[submitted by Daniel Lerch and edited from "The Washington Post" report]

A minor traffic incident on a Sunday afternoon in Chizhou, China sparked a riot that evolved over eight chaotic hours into an "expression of rage against the Chinese Communist Party's new fascination with businessmen, profits and economic growth," reports the Washington Post. The following is the Post's account of what happened:

Liu Liang, a computer student, was pedaling his bicycle by the downtown vegetable market. Driving down the same street was Wu Junxing, deputy manager of a hospital. Liu's bicycle and Wu's sedan collided, sending Liu crashing to the ground. Almost immediately, witnesses said, Liu, 22, and Wu, 34, began arguing over who was at fault. In the heat of the dispute, they said, Liu damaged one of Wu's side-view mirrors, prompting Wu's bodyguards to beat the young man, leaving him bleeding from his mouth and ears.

After they saw what happened to Liu, Chizhou's self-described "common people" rose up against what they saw as their local government's willingness to side with rich outside investors [Wu was not from the area] against Chizhou's own. By the end of the evening, 10,000 Chizhou residents had filled the streets.

"When anger boils up in your heart so long, it has to burst," said a Chizhou man who was part of the crowd that night.

By 5 pm, the mob turned its attention to Wu's sedan, overturning it, pummeling it with rocks and then setting it afire with cigarette lighters, the witnesses said. Two police cars suffered the same fate an hour later, they added, and the police van was also trashed and set ablaze.

The crowd cheered and shouted at the sight of government vehicles burning.

Before calm returned to the streets, the disturbance had become a political rebellion against the increasingly intimate connection in modern China between big money and the Communist government.

Why the Corporate Rich Oppose Environmentalism

By Michael Parenti

In 1876, Marx's collaborator, Frederich Engels, offered a prophetic caveat: "Let us not . . . flatter ourselves overmuch on account of our human conquest over nature. For each such conquest takes its revenge on us. . . . At every step we are reminded that we by no means rule over nature like a conqueror over a foreign people, like someone standing outside of nature--but that we, with flesh, blood, and brain, belong to nature, and exist in its midst. . . ." With its never-ending emphasis on production and profit, and its indifference to environment, transnational corporate capitalism appears determined to stand outside nature. The driving goal of the giant investment firms is to convert natural materials into commodities and commodities into profits, transforming living nature into vast accumulations of dead capital.

This capital accumulation process treats the planet's life-sustaining resources (arable land, groundwater, wetlands, forests, fisheries, ocean beds, rivers, air quality) as dispensable ingredients of limitless supply, to be consumed or toxified at will. Consequently, the support systems of the entire ecosphere--the Earth's thin skin of fresh air, water, and top soil--are at risk, threatened by global warming, massive erosion, and ozone depletion. An ever-expanding capitalism and a fragile finite ecology are on a calamitous collision course.

It is not true that the ruling politico-economic interests are in a state of denial about this. Far worse than denial, they have shown utter antagonism toward those who think the planet is more important than corporate profits. So they defame environmentalists as "eco-terrorists," "EPA gestapo," "Earth Day alarmists," "tree huggers," and purveyors of "Green hysteria" and "liberal claptrap."

The plutocracy's position was summed up by that dangerous fool, erstwhile Senator Steve Symms (R-Idaho), who once said that if he had to choose between capitalism and ecology, he would choose capitalism. Symms seemed not to grasp that, absent a viable ecology, there will be no capitalism or any other ism.

In July 2005, President Bush finally muttered a grudging acknowledgment: "I recognize that the surface of the Earth is warmer and that an increase in greenhouse gases caused by humans is contributing to the problem." But this belated admission of a "problem" hardly makes up for Bush's many attacks against the environment.

In recent years, Bushite reactionaries within the White House and Congress, fueled by corporate lobbyists, have supported measures to

(1) allow unregulated toxic fill into lakes and harbors,

(2) eliminate most of the wetland acreage that was to be set aside for a reserve,

(3) completely deregulate the production of chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) that deplete the ozone layer,

(4) eviscerate clean water and clean air standards,

(5) open the unspoiled Arctic wildlife refuge in Alaska to oil and gas drilling,

(6) defund efforts to keep raw sewage out of rivers and away from beaches,

(7) privatize and open national parks to commercial development,

(8) give the remaining ancient forests over to unrestrained logging,

(9) repeal the Endangered Species Act,

(10) and allow mountain-top removal in mining that has transformed thousands of miles of streams and vast amounts of natural acreage into toxic wastelands.

Why do rich and powerful interests take this seemingly suicidal anti-environmental route? We can understand why they might want to destroy public housing, public education, Social Security, and Medicaid. They and their children will not thereby be deprived of a thing, having more than sufficient private means to procure whatever services they need for themselves.

But the environment is a different story. Do not wealthy reactionaries and their corporate lobbyists inhabit the same polluted planet as everyone else, eat the same chemicalized food, and breathe the same toxified air?

In fact, they do not live exactly as everyone else. They experience a different class reality, often residing in places where the air is somewhat better than in low and middle income areas. They have access to food that is organically raised and specially prepared. The nation's toxic dumps and freeways usually are not situated in or near their swanky neighborhoods. The pesticide sprays are not poured over their trees and gardens. Clearcutting does not desolate their ranches, estates, and vacation spots.

Even when they or their children succumb to a dread disease like cancer, they do not link the tragedy to environmental factors---though scientists now believe that present-day cancer epidemics stem largely from human-made causes. The plutocrats deny there is a serious problem because they themselves have created that problem and owe so much of their wealth to it.

But how can they deny the threat of an ecological apocalypse brought on by ozone depletion, global warming, disappearing top soil, and dying oceans? Do the corporate plutocrats want to see life on Earth---including their own lives---destroyed?

In the long run they indeed will be sealing their own doom, along with everyone else's. However, like us all, they live not in the long run but in the here and now. What is at stake for them is something more immediate and than global ecology. It is global capital accumulation. The fate of the biosphere seems a far-off abstraction compared to the fate of one's immediate investments.

Furthermore, pollution pays, while ecology costs. Every dollar a company spends on environmental protections is one less dollar in earnings. It is more profitable to treat the environment like a septic tank, to externalize corporate diseconomies by dumping raw industrial effluent into the atmosphere, rivers, and bays, turning waterways into open sewers.

Moving away from fossil fuels and toward solar, wind, and tidal energy could help avert ecological disaster, but six of the world's ten top industrial corporations are involved primarily in the production of oil, gasoline, and motor vehicles. Fossil fuel pollution means billions in profits. Ecologically sustainable forms of production directly threaten those profits. Immense and imminent gain for oneself is a far more compelling consideration than a diffuse loss shared by the general public. The social cost of turning a forest into a wasteland weighs little against the personal profit that comes from harvesting the timber.

This conflict between immediate personal gain on the one hand and seemingly remote public benefit on the other operates even at the individual consumer level. Thus, it is in one's long term interest not to operate an automobile that contributes more to environmental devastation than any other single consumer item (even if it's a hybrid). But again, we don't live in the long run, we live in the here and now, and we have an immediate everyday need for transportation, so most of us have no choice except to own and use automobiles.

Mind you, we did not choose this "car culture." Ecologically efficient and less costly mass transit systems and rail systems were deliberately bought out, privatized and torn up, beginning in the 1930s in campaigns waged across the country by the automotive, oil, and tire industries. These industries put "America on wheels," in order to maximize profits for themselves, and to hell with the environment.

Sober business heads refuse to get caught up in doomsayer "hysteria" about ecology. Besides, there can always be found a few stray experts who will obligingly argue that the jury is still out, that there is no conclusive proof to support the alarmists. Conclusive proof in this case would come only when the eco-apocalypse is upon us. Ecology is profoundly subversive of capitalism. It needs planned, environmentally sustainable production rather than the rapacious unregulated free-market kind. It requires economical consumption rather than an artificially stimulated, ever-expanding, wasteful consumerism. It calls for natural, relatively clean and low cost energy systems rather than high cost, high profit, polluting ones. Ecology's implications for capitalism are too challenging for the capitalist to contemplate.

The plutocrats are more wedded to their wealth than to the Earth upon which they live, more concerned with the fate of their fortunes than with the fate of humanity.

The struggle over environmentalism is part of the class struggle itself, a fact that seems to have escaped many environmentalists. The present ecological crisis has been created by the few at the expense of the many. This time the plutocratic drive to "accumulate, accumulate, accumulate" may take all of us down, once and forever.

Michael Parenti's recent books include Superpatriotism (City Lights) and The Assassination of Julius Caesar (New Press), both available in paperback. For more information, visit his website:

That Hissing Sound

NYT Article Here...

This is the way the bubble ends: not with a pop, but with a hiss.

Housing prices move much more slowly than stock prices. There are no Black Mondays, when prices fall 23 percent in a day. In fact, prices often keep rising for a while even after a housing boom goes bust.

So the news that the U.S. housing bubble is over won't come in the form of plunging prices; it will come in the form of falling sales and rising inventory, as sellers try to get prices that buyers are no longer willing to pay. And the process may already have started.

Of course, some people still deny that there's a housing bubble. Let me explain how we know that they're wrong.

One piece of evidence is the sense of frenzy about real estate, which irresistibly brings to mind the stock frenzy of 1999. Even some of the players are the same. The authors of the 1999 best seller "Dow 36,000" are now among the most vocal proponents of the view that there is no housing bubble.

Then there are the numbers. Many bubble deniers point to average prices for the country as a whole, which look worrisome but not totally crazy. When it comes to housing, however, the United States is really two countries, Flatland and the Zoned Zone.

In Flatland, which occupies the middle of the country, it's easy to build houses. When the demand for houses rises, Flatland metropolitan areas, which don't really have traditional downtowns, just sprawl some more. As a result, housing prices are basically determined by the cost of construction. In Flatland, a housing bubble can't even get started.

But in the Zoned Zone, which lies along the coasts, a combination of high population density and land-use restrictions - hence "zoned" - makes it hard to build new houses. So when people become willing to spend more on houses, say because of a fall in mortgage rates, some houses get built, but the prices of existing houses also go up. And if people think that prices will continue to rise, they become willing to spend even more, driving prices still higher, and so on. In other words, the Zoned Zone is prone to housing bubbles.

And Zoned Zone housing prices, which have risen much faster than the national average, clearly point to a bubble.

In the nation as a whole, housing prices rose about 50 percent between the first quarter of 2000 and the first quarter of 2005. But that average blends results from Flatland metropolitan areas like Houston and Atlanta, where prices rose 26 and 29 percent respectively, with results from Zoned Zone areas like New York, Miami and San Diego, where prices rose 77, 96 and 118 percent.

Nobody would pay San Diego prices without believing that prices will continue to rise. Rents rose much more slowly than prices: the Bureau of Labor Statistics index of "owners' equivalent rent" rose only 27 percent from late 1999 to late 2004. Business Week reports that by 2004 the cost of renting a house in San Diego was only 40 percent of the cost of owning a similar house - even taking into account low interest rates on mortgages. So it makes sense to buy in San Diego only if you believe that prices will keep rising rapidly, generating big capital gains. That's pretty much the definition of a bubble.

Bubbles end when people stop believing that big capital gains are a sure thing. That's what happened in San Diego at the end of its last housing bubble: after a rapid rise, house prices peaked in 1990. Soon there was a glut of houses on the market, and prices began falling. By 1996, they had declined about 25 percent after adjusting for inflation.

And that's what's happening in San Diego right now, after a rise in house prices that dwarfs the boom of the 1980's. The number of single-family houses and condos on the market has doubled over the past year. "Homes that a year or two ago sold virtually overnight - in many cases triggering bidding wars - are on the market for weeks," reports The Los Angeles Times. The same thing is happening in other formerly hot markets.

Meanwhile, the U.S. economy has become deeply dependent on the housing bubble. The economic recovery since 2001 has been disappointing in many ways, but it wouldn't have happened at all without soaring spending on residential construction, plus a surge in consumer spending largely based on mortgage refinancing. Did I mention that the personal savings rate has fallen to zero?

Now we're starting to hear a hissing sound, as the air begins to leak out of the bubble. And everyone - not just those who own Zoned Zone real estate - should be worried.


Academic Mercenaries

By Dan Hoyle, AlterNet
Posted on August 8, 2005

It would appear that capitalism is taught in its purest form in Nigerian universities.--Pete

"Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo has said he will not be slowed in his crusade against corruption, despite what critics may say ... " The BBC broadcast waves in and out on my shortwave radio. I boil water on my gas cooker (electricity's out again) for my morning cup of tea, and can't help but chuckle. For me, it's just another day in my life as a Fulbright scholar at the University of Port Harcourt in Nigeria.

Obasanjo's crusade feels as remote as it might were I hearing it on NPR in my hometown of San Francisco. Coming from the monotony of middle class urban-intellectual America, where the biggest drama in the day is the after-work race to the organic vegetable market to avoid the six o'clock line, Nigeria is a jungle. Everyday is different, but I can be sure that today I will witness, and perhaps participate in, some form of corruption.

It won't be embezzlement of billions of dollars in oil receipts, or the manufacturing of multi-million dollar contracts that never get completed -- it is for those reasons that Nigeria is a perennial contender for the number one ranking on Transparency International's list of Most Corrupt Countries. It will be corruption as most Nigerians experience it, from pacification money to low-level extortion, from inappropriate hustling to small-scale fraud. Of course, it might even include a little gun-slinging crude criminal activity.

Two months ago, as I bumbled into town I saw my first evidence of "jungle justice" as it is called. A pile of charred corpses, a leg sticking up like a submarine telescope, a face frozen in anguish, craning up to the sky. They were five thieves, convicted and burned on the spot for allegedly stealing 4.2 million naira [$30,600]. Even in the relatively protected University environment, corruption, with the invention of the Internet scams -- now one of Nigeria's staple commodities -- will certainly live another busy day.

As I walk out my gate in the morning, I greet the guards, and because it's been a few days since I last dashed them, I pull out a couple of twenty naira notes (about 30 cents), and push them into their palms. "Something small to chop," I say. They press the notes to their forehead, bow ceremoniously and shout, "God bless you, sir! Oga Dan!" They are twice my age, but as the only white student among 25,000, it's impossible to dodge "Oga" or "Big Man" status. Always better to leave the guards smiling at their dash than wondering where in my room I keep my camera.

I hop on one of the intercampus buses -- rusted, wobbly Nissans whose cushy seats have been exchanged for smaller benches so they can carry 18 passengers. As I squeeze out at my stop, the conductor refuses the bill I offer to pay with. "It's been taken care of," says a voice from behind belonging to a student who introduces himself as Bright, an appropriately smiling third-year economics student. "I am secretary of transportation. I will arrange free transport for you, no problem."

I refuse, knowing in Nigeria's "nothing for nothing" culture of mutual back-scratching it's best to decline anything for free unless the person is substantially more rich and powerful than you. Making friends is always a potentially dangerous commitment. Several of my friends on campus (I have dared) admit to me that they don't have any friends, just associates. "I say hello to everybody, but I don't really want to get too close to you, "says Jacob, a first-year theater arts student. "Friends betray you."


Sunday, August 07, 2005



Read the Wasington Times account, then read the report from Doug Ireland. All of this is courtesy of Undernews--Pete

JERRY SEPER, WASHINGTON TIMES - Two former employees of a pro-Israel lobbying group were indicted yesterday by a federal grand jury in Virginia on charges of illegally receiving and disclosing classified U.S. defense information they obtained from a veteran Pentagon analyst -- who was arrested in May on charges of leaking secret documents. Steven J. Rosen, of Silver Spring, a 63-year-old former director of foreign policy issues for the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, and Keith Weissman, of Bethesda, a 53-year-old former senior Iran analyst at the organization, were accused of receiving national defense information and giving it to unauthorized persons, including an agent of a foreign government. The analyst, Lawrence A. Franklin, 58, of Kearneysville, W. Va., was arrested by the FBI on charges of illegally disclosing classified information -- nearly two years after he first was
identified as suspected of having passed national security documents involving Iran to AIPAC. Mr. Franklin, who has pleaded not guilty in the case, has been a Defense Department employee since 1979 and held a "top secret" security clearance. . .

The indictment said Mr. Rosen and Mr. Weissman, in an effort to "influence persons within and outside the United States," cultivated relationships with Mr. Franklin and others "to gather sensitive U.S. government information, including classified information relating to the national defense." . . . The surveillance is thought to have targeted Naor Gilon, a political adviser at the Israeli Embassy in the District.


DOUG IRELAND, DIRELAND - Here's what the stories in today's Washington Post and New York Times on the new indictments of the two AIPAC spies aren't telling you: their espionage was principally about helping to prepare an attack by Israel on Iran. And one of the Israeli embassy officials who knows all about AIPAC's role in helping plan the attack on Iran has been whisked out of the country and out of the reach of U.S. prosecutors, the Israeli daily Ha'aretz reports this morning.

The neo-cons in the Pentagon had long been arguing for an attack on Iran to take out its nuclear facilities that had the potential to be converted for development of nuclear weapons. Wolfie's man Doug Feith had been particularly assiduous in pressing the case for a "forward strategy" against Iran. Feith's views are madly extremist. . .

When, for purely electoral reasons with the Iraq occupation going so disastrously, the White House decided against a direct attack by the U.S. on Iran, the neo-cons went to Plan B -- an attack on Iran by proxy, from Israel. The principal classified documents leaked to Israel through AIPAC -- the leaks that that began the investigation of the AIPAC spy ring, which has been going on now for over a year -- concerned Iran. They were leaked by Feith's deputy, Larry Franklin, also now under a five-count indictment for spying.

The plan for an Israeli attack on Iran has been long envisioned -- both in Washington and by Sharon's government -- but this attack is now in a highy advanced state of planning and could come as quickly as Sharon snaps his fingers to order it. Back on March 13, the London Times -- in a report that was largely ignored in the U.S. -- reported that: "The inner cabinet of Ariel Sharon, the Israeli prime minister, gave 'initial authorization' for an attack at a private meeting last month on his ranch in the Negev desert,"

The London Times went on to describe how "Israeli forces have used a mock-up of Iran’s Natanz uranium enrichment plant in the desert to practise destroying it. Their tactics include raids by Israel’s elite Shaldag (Kingfisher) commando unit and airstrikes by F-15 jets from 69 Squadron, using bunker-busting bombs to penetrate underground facilities. The plans have been discussed with American officials who are said to have indicated provisionally that they would not stand in Israel’s way if all international efforts to halt Iranian nuclear projects failed...." And, the Times added, "US officials warned last week that a military strike on Iranian nuclear facilities by Israeli or American forces had not been ruled out should the issue become deadlocked at the United Nations."

Just a few weeks before that revelation of the concretization of Israeli plans for the Iran attack, Bush let the cat out of the bag in an off-the-cuff remark captured by London's Daily Telegraph, in a February 18 article headlined, "AMERICA WOULD BACK ISRAEL ATTACK ON IRAN." The Telegraph reported that Bush said: "Clearly, if I was the leader of Israel and I'd listened to some of the statements by the Iranian ayatollahs that regarded the security of my country, I'd be concerned about Iran having a nuclear weapon as well. And in that Israel is our ally, and in that we've made a very strong commitment to support Israel, we will support Israel if her security is threatened."