Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Protection of its people's lives, liberty and property against lethal attack and occupation...

ALI ABUNIMAH, ELECTRONIC INTIFADA - For Palestinians under occupation, it is not yet clear what Hamas' win will mean. It is now common to speak of a Palestinian "government" being formed out of the election results, as though Palestine were already a sovereign and independent state. But if the first duty of a government is to protect its people's lives, liberty and property, then the Palestinian Authority has never deserved to be called a government. Since its inception, it has not been able to protect Palestinians from lethal daily attacks by the Israeli army in the heart of their towns and refugee camps, or to prevent a single dunum of land being seized for settlements, nor to save a single sapling of the more than one million trees uprooted by Israel in the past ten years. Rather, the Palestinian Authority was supposed to crush Palestinian resistance to make the occupied territories safe for continued Israeli colonization. Hamas will certainly not allow that to continue, but whether it will be able to transform the Authority into an arm of the struggle against Israel is by no means certain. Hamas, which has observed a unilateral truce with Israel for a year, has signaled that it wants to continue this if Israel "reciprocates." The movement clearly believes it can make such an offer from a position of strength and it is to its tactical advantage to leave uncertainty about when and how it might resume full-scale armed resistance.

Elements of the Palestinian Authority security services controlled by Fatah figures may be unwilling to put themselves under the control of a Hamas-led authority, which could lead to the collapse of what is left of the Authority's structure, or even its break-up into personal militias. Israel, and the United States which refuses to accept the outcome of the election may see an interest in encouraging such an internal conflict. Israel is likely to use Hamas' win as a further pretext to tighten repression and accelerate its unilateral imposition of walls and settlements on the West Bank designed to annex the maximum number of land with the minimum not of Palestinians. Such developments increase the risks of a dramatic escalation of Israeli-Palestinian violence. . .

The instant US demand that Hamas "recognize Israel" is like rewinding the clock twenty-five years to when this same demand was the pretext to ignore and exclude the PLO from peace negotiations. But as Hamas has observed, all the PLO's submission to these demands did not lead to any loosening of Israel's grip or any lessening of US support for Israel. Hamas is unlikely to do as the US demands, and even if it did, it would probably only give rise to new resistance groups responding to the worsening conditions on the ground generated by the occupation.


Sunday, January 29, 2006

Conservative Newspaper Calls For Iraq Pullout

[The funny thing this is that this puts Clinton nemesis Scaife to the
left of Hillary Clinton on the issue--Sam Smith]

GREG MITCHELL, EDITOR & PUBLISHER - As regular readers of this column know, I embarked on a tireless (to some, tiresome) mission more than two years ago, encouraging newspaper editorial writers to endorse a phased U.S. withdrawal from Iraq, or at least kick around the idea. Since virtually no one took me up on it, I've had to repeat it every few months. . . Nearly every major paper continued to ignore or oppose the idea, or even called for sending more troops. The Seattle Times and Minneapolis Star-Tribune were just about the only big-city exceptions.

Last November, after Rep. John Murtha's well-publicized call for a pullout, I tried again. Like most Democrats in Congress, many newspapers found some merit in Murtha's proposal, or at least defended him from those who charged the longtime Marine with being a coward (not exactly a risky choice). But in the end, almost none said: Yeah, let's start to withdraw, and soon. USA Today, for example, called his plea "understandable" but "misguided."

Now, this week, a full and unconditional endorsement of Murtha's notion has come from a completely unexpected source: the notably conservative Tribune-Review, which is based in Greensburg, Pa., but considers itself a full-fledged Pittsburgh newspaper. It's controlled by Richard Mellon Scaife, one of the chief funders of conservative think-thanks and activist causes around the country.

Less than two months ago, the newspaper (daily circulation about 102,000), attacked Murtha's plan. Printed below is the text of the latest editorial, which was published on Tuesday. Perhaps a few other papers would now like to re-visit this subject, with the third anniversary of the start of the war approaching.

||| We didn't agree with Jack Murtha in November when he called for an immediate withdrawal of United States forces from Iraq. The timing was not right. But the times have changed. When the Pennsylvania congressman made his call, critical December parliamentary elections were ahead; cut-and-run talk was inappropriate.

But successful elections have passed. And contrary to what some may say, Iraqis are stepping up to the plate, as evidenced by the number dying in defense of their fledgling republic. Native Iraqi terrorists and those of the al-Qaida brand also are starting to battle each other. There's a growing sense of self-determination, which is a critical trait on the road to democracy.

That said, the world situation has changed dramatically since November. The nuclear saber-rattling of neighboring Iran is heading for a showdown. To meet that threat should diplomacy fail, the United States must begin the six- to nine-month logistical process of drawing down its Iraqi force and repositioning it to respond, if need be, to the Iranian threat.

This is not retreat. This is not cut-and-run. This is a recognition of the reality in Iraq -- one that has evolved into an Iraqi problem that only the Iraqis now can solve -- and that the paramount world security threat now is Iraq.


A Clear and Present Danger to America

Publisher, Capitol Hill Blue
Jan 27, 2006, 05:11

George W. Bush, the out-of-control despot who thinks the Presidency of the United States is a license to lie at will, wage war on a whim and break the law without recrimination, put on his “I am in charge” face Thursday and, for all practical purposes, told anyone who thinks his powers should be subject to review or oversight to go screw themselves.

Bush told reporters that he will assert his “presidential prerogatives” any damn way he pleases and will do so without apology, without question and without concern for the law, the Constitution or the rights of Americans.

His press conference was a frightening study of a madman on a tear, an insane, power-mad tyrant who believes he is above the law and cannot be questioned. Sadly, it appears no one has the balls to questions his lunacy.

“I'm going to continue do everything within my authority to protect the American people,” Bush told reporters. That’s Bushspeak for “I’m in charge here you dumb pukes and there ain’t a damn thing you can do about it.”

“We'll continue our terrorist surveillance program against al Qaeda. Congress must reauthorize the Patriot Act so that our law enforcement and intelligence and homeland security officers have the tools they need to route the terrorists -- terrorists who could be planning and plotting within our borders,” he said. Translation: “I’ll spy on Americans, I’ll use the Constitution to wipe my ass and I’ll declare marital law and run this country like the dictator I want so desperately to be.”

On his illegal actions authorizing the National Security Agency to spy on Americans, Bush said “If the attempt to write law …is likely to expose the nature of the program, I'll resist it.” What he is saying is “I’m above the law, goddamnit, and I’ll fight every attempt to make me obey the law.

On the Iraq war, Bush declared: “there is an act passed by Congress in 2001 which said that I must have the power to conduct this war using the incidents of war. In other words, we believe there's a constitutional power granted to Presidents, as well as, this case, a statutory power. And I'm intending to use that power -- Congress says, go ahead and conduct the war, we're not going to tell you how to do it.”

I worked on Capitol Hill for a number of years and wrote more than my share of legislation. I know a thing or two about how the government is designed to work and the checks and balances that are supposed to be built into the system. I’ve also read what Congress passed and nothing in that act or the Constitution gives Bush the authority he claims or the power he abuses. He’s not just a liar. He’s a god-damned liar.

The arrogance surfaced often as he faced the press. His eyes darted from side to side, blinking rapidly – a textbook example of a maniac on the loose. His temper threatened to erupt more than once because a couple of reporters actually had the gall to actually question his motives.

After too many years watching this man destroy what once was a great nation, I can only conclude that Bush is insane and his insanity is protected by a brain-dead populace and a power-mad political party that can’t possibly accept the sad fact that they helped put a madman in charge of our government and have kept him there.

I believe with all my soul that George W. Bush and the Republicans who rubber-stamp his actions represent a clear and present danger to the peace and security of the United States and all must be removed from office immediately if this nation is to survive.

And those are words I never, ever, thought I’d write about a President or other elected officials of this country. And I wish, with all my heart that I did not have to write them now.

But those who love this country and put patriotism above politics must act. America, if it wishes to remain America, must remove the cancer that threatens to destroy it.

Climate Expert Says NASA Tried to Silence Him

Since some of y'all don't want to register with the NYT, I posted the whole article and attributed it to avoid corporate copyright threats.--Pete

By ANDREW C. REVKIN, New York Times

The top climate scientist at NASA says the Bush administration has tried to stop him from speaking out since he gave a lecture last month calling for prompt reductions in emissions of greenhouse gases linked to global warming.

The scientist, James E. Hansen, longtime director of the agency's Goddard Institute for Space Studies, said in an interview that officials at NASA headquarters had ordered the public affairs staff to review his coming lectures, papers, postings on the Goddard Web site and requests for interviews from journalists.

Dr. Hansen said he would ignore the restrictions. "They feel their job is to be this censor of information going out to the public," he said.

Dean Acosta, deputy assistant administrator for public affairs at the space agency, said there was no effort to silence Dr. Hansen. "That's not the way we operate here at NASA," Mr. Acosta said. "We promote openness and we speak with the facts."

He said the restrictions on Dr. Hansen applied to all National Aeronautics and Space Administration personnel. He added that government scientists were free to discuss scientific findings, but that policy statements should be left to policy makers and appointed spokesmen.

Mr. Acosta said other reasons for requiring press officers to review interview requests were to have an orderly flow of information out of a sprawling agency and to avoid surprises. "This is not about any individual or any issue like global warming," he said. "It's about coordination."

Dr. Hansen strongly disagreed with this characterization, saying such procedures had already prevented the public from fully grasping recent findings about climate change that point to risks ahead.

"Communicating with the public seems to be essential," he said, "because public concern is probably the only thing capable of overcoming the special interests that have obfuscated the topic."

Dr. Hansen, 63, a physicist who joined the space agency in 1967, directs efforts to simulate the global climate on computers at the Goddard Institute in Morningside Heights in Manhattan.

Since 1988, he has been issuing public warnings about the long-term threat from heat-trapping emissions, dominated by carbon dioxide, that are an unavoidable byproduct of burning coal, oil and other fossil fuels. He has had run-ins with politicians or their appointees in various administrations, including budget watchers in the first Bush administration and Vice President Al Gore.

In 2001, Dr. Hansen was invited twice to brief Vice President Dick Cheney and other cabinet members on climate change. White House officials were interested in his findings showing that cleaning up soot, which also warms the atmosphere, was an effective and far easier first step than curbing carbon dioxide.

He fell out of favor with the White House in 2004 after giving a speech at the University of Iowa before the presidential election, in which he complained that government climate scientists were being muzzled and said he planned to vote for Senator John Kerry.

But Dr. Hansen said that nothing in 30 years equaled the push made since early December to keep him from publicly discussing what he says are clear-cut dangers from further delay in curbing carbon dioxide.

In several interviews with The New York Times in recent days, Dr. Hansen said it would be irresponsible not to speak out, particularly because NASA's mission statement includes the phrase "to understand and protect our home planet."

He said he was particularly incensed that the directives had come through telephone conversations and not through formal channels, leaving no significant trails of documents.

Dr. Hansen's supervisor, Franco Einaudi, said there had been no official "order or pressure to say shut Jim up." But Dr. Einaudi added, "That doesn't mean I like this kind of pressure being applied."

The fresh efforts to quiet him, Dr. Hansen said, began in a series of calls after a lecture he gave on Dec. 6 at the annual meeting of the American Geophysical Union in San Francisco. In the talk, he said that significant emission cuts could be achieved with existing technologies, particularly in the case of motor vehicles, and that without leadership by the United States, climate change would eventually leave the earth "a different planet."

The administration's policy is to use voluntary measures to slow, but not reverse, the growth of emissions.

After that speech and the release of data by Dr. Hansen on Dec. 15 showing that 2005 was probably the warmest year in at least a century, officials at the headquarters of the space agency repeatedly phoned public affairs officers, who relayed the warning to Dr. Hansen that there would be "dire consequences" if such statements continued, those officers and Dr. Hansen said in interviews.

Among the restrictions, according to Dr. Hansen and an internal draft memorandum he provided to The Times, was that his supervisors could stand in for him in any news media interviews.

Mr. Acosta said the calls and meetings with Goddard press officers were not to introduce restrictions, but to review existing rules. He said Dr. Hansen had continued to speak frequently with the news media.

But Dr. Hansen and some of his colleagues said interviews were canceled as a result.

In one call, George Deutsch, a recently appointed public affairs officer at NASA headquarters, rejected a request from a producer at National Public Radio to interview Dr. Hansen, said Leslie McCarthy, a public affairs officer responsible for the Goddard Institute.

Citing handwritten notes taken during the conversation, Ms. McCarthy said Mr. Deutsch called N.P.R. "the most liberal" media outlet in the country. She said that in that call and others, Mr. Deutsch said his job was "to make the president look good" and that as a White House appointee that might be Mr. Deutsch's priority.

But she added: "I'm a career civil servant and Jim Hansen is a scientist. That's not our job. That's not our mission. The inference was that Hansen was disloyal."

Normally, Ms. McCarthy would not be free to describe such conversations to the news media, but she agreed to an interview after Mr. Acosta, at NASA headquarters, told The Times that she would not face any retribution for doing so.

Mr. Acosta, Mr. Deutsch's supervisor, said that when Mr. Deutsch was asked about the conversations, he flatly denied saying anything of the sort. Mr. Deutsch referred all interview requests to Mr. Acosta.

Ms. McCarthy, when told of the response, said: "Why am I going to go out of my way to make this up and back up Jim Hansen? I don't have a dog in this race. And what does Hansen have to gain?"

Mr. Acosta said that for the moment he had no way of judging who was telling the truth. Several colleagues of both Ms. McCarthy and Dr. Hansen said Ms. McCarthy's statements were consistent with what she told them when the conversations occurred.

"He's not trying to create a war over this," said Larry D. Travis, an astronomer who is Dr. Hansen's deputy at Goddard, "but really feels very strongly that this is an obligation we have as federal scientists, to inform the public."

Dr. Travis said he walked into Ms. McCarthy's office in mid-December at the end of one of the calls from Mr. Deutsch demanding that Dr. Hansen be better controlled.

In an interview on Friday, Ralph J. Cicerone, an atmospheric chemist and the president of the National Academy of Sciences, the nation's leading independent scientific body, praised Dr. Hansen's scientific contributions and said he had always seemed to describe his public statements clearly as his personal views.

"He really is one of the most productive and creative scientists in the world," Dr. Cicerone said. "I've heard Hansen speak many times and I've read many of his papers, starting in the late 70's. Every single time, in writing or when I've heard him speak, he's always clear that he's speaking for himself, not for NASA or the administration, whichever administration it's been."

The fight between Dr. Hansen and administration officials echoes other recent disputes. At climate laboratories of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, for example, many scientists who routinely took calls from reporters five years ago can now do so only if the interview is approved by administration officials in Washington, and then only if a public affairs officer is present or on the phone.

Where scientists' points of view on climate policy align with those of the administration, however, there are few signs of restrictions on extracurricular lectures or writing.

One example is Indur M. Goklany, assistant director of science and technology policy in the policy office of the Interior Department. For years, Dr. Goklany, an electrical engineer by training, has written in papers and books that it may be better not to force cuts in greenhouse gases because the added prosperity from unfettered economic activity would allow countries to exploit benefits of warming and adapt to problems.

In an e-mail exchange on Friday, Dr. Goklany said that in the Clinton administration he was shifted to nonclimate-related work, but added that he had never had to stop his outside writing, as long as he identified the views as his own.

"One reason why I still continue to do the extracurricular stuff," he wrote, "is because one doesn't have to get clearance for what I plan on saying or writing."

...and sometimes enlightenment shines through the fog of ignorance.


U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer today delivered the following address in opposition to the nomination of Judge Samuel Alito to the U.S. Supreme Court:

Today, I am announcing my opposition to the nomination of Samuel Alito to the Supreme Court of the United States.

According to Article II of the Constitution, justices of the Supreme Court
may not be appointed by the president without the advice and consent of the United States Senate. So it is our solemn duty to consider each nomination carefully, keeping in mind the interests of the American people. And this nomination is particularly crucial because the stakes have rarely been so high. First, consider the context in which this nomination comes before us. The seat that Judge Alito has been nominated for is now held by Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, who came to the Court in 1981.

For years, Justice O'Connor has provided the tie-breaking vote and a commonsense voice of reason in some of the most important cases to come before the Court, including a woman's right to choose, civil rights, and freedom of religion.

Second, consider the tumultuous political climate in our nation. President Bush understood that in 2000 when he promised to govern from the center, and be "a uniter, not a divider." Sadly, this nomination shows that he has forgotten that promise because it is notnfrom the center and it is not uniting the nation.

The right thing to do would have been to give us a justice in the mold of Justice O'Connor, and that is what the president should have done.

Let me be clear: I do not deny Judge Alito's judicial qualifications. He has been a government lawyer and judge for more than 20 years and the American Bar Association rated him well qualified. He is an intelligent and capable person. His family should be proud of him and all Americans should be proud that the American dream was there for the Alito family.

But after reviewing the hearing record and the record of his statements, writings and rulings over the past 24 years, I am convinced that Judge Alito is the wrong person for this job.

I am deeply concerned about how Justice Alito will impact the ability of other families to live the American dream -- to be assured of privacy in their homes and their personal lives, to be secure in their neighborhoods, to have fair treatment in the workplace, and to have confidence that the power of the executive branch will be checked.


Economic Apartheid In America

By Russell Mokhiber and Robert Weissman

Top executives now make more in a day than the average worker makes in a year.

You can have wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, or democracy. But you cannot have both.
-- Louis Brandeis

The United Nations Development Program reported in 1999 that the world's 225 richest people now have a combined wealth of $1 trillion. That's equal to the combined annual income of the world's 2.5 billion poorest people.

The richest 10 percent of the world's population receives 49.6 percent of the total world income.

The bottom 60 percent receives 13.9 percent of the world's income.

The wealth of the world's three most well-to-do individuals now exceeds the combined gross domestic product of the 48 least developed countries.

Half of the world's population of six billion live on less than $2 a day, while 1.3 billion get by on less than $1 a day.

These are some of things you learn from a new book, just out, titled Economic Apartheid in America: A Primer on Economic Inequality & Insecurity by Chuck Collins and Felice Yeskel with United for a Fair Economy (The New Press, 2005).

The book is filled with photos, and charts, and graphs -- that make it a great home schooling tool, for young and old alike.

It puts things in perspective.

It keeps you on your toes.

Read it.

Then listen to a little Bill O'Reilly.

Then read it some more.

Contrast is good.

Stretch limousines are longer, yet more people are homeless.

Thirty zip codes in America have become fabulously wealthy.

Meanwhile, whole urban and rural communities are languishing in unemployment, crumbling infrastructure, growing insecurity and fear.

It makes the perfect gift for the holidays.

And you probably won't find it at Wal-Mart.

Or Costco, for that matter.

Russell Mokhiber is editor of the Washington, D.C.-based Corporate Crime Reporter, http://www.corporatecrimereporter.com. Robert Weissman is editor of the Washington, D.C.-based Multinational Monitor, http://www.multinationalmonitor.org. Mokhiber and Weissman are co-authors of On the Rampage: Corporate Predators and the Destruction of Democracy (Monroe, Maine: Common Courage Press).

(c) Russell Mokhiber and Robert Weissman

This article is posted at:

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Why We Stood

By Jennie Pasquarella and Shonali Shome, WireTap
Posted on January 27, 2006

On Tuesday, we stood and turned our backs on attorney general Alberto Gonzales. The country's highest-ranking lawyer came to our school -- Georgetown University Law Center -- to convince the American public that the government's wiretapping program is legal. As America's future lawyers, we stood to oppose the Bush administration's bulldozing of our constitutional protections in the name of the war on terror. We stood inspired by the words of Benjamin Franklin, "Those who would sacrifice liberty for security deserve neither."

In his prepared speech, the attorney general proposed an unprecedented view of presidential power predicated more on the strength of his assertions than on valid legal arguments. Gonzales, who has called the protections of the Geneva Convention "quaint" and supported a radical legal redefinition of torture, was telling us why the president could break the nation's domestic spying laws. We refused to let our institution be used as a legitimacy background to an illegal program.

The attorney general advanced legal argument as an afterthought. Gonzales played on our fears of terrorism, asserting that the Bush administration has our protection at heart. But while Gonzales provided carefully tailored sound bites, his legal arguments were unconvincing and wrong.

Gonzales ignored the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, the law specifically enacted as a check on government domestic spying abuses. He asserted that the president could -- at his discretion -- bypass a court explicitly established to review the legitimacy of wiretapping for national security purposes. He endowed the act authorizing the use of military force with unparalleled might, using it to justify policies its congressional enactors neither intended nor even considered.

Our protest was not about partisan politics; leading politicians and constitutional scholars of all political stripes have recognized the administration's arguments for domestic spying as flimsy at best. Our silent protest was about choosing the Constitution and our country's ideals over wrongheaded political rhetoric and surrender to a culture of fear. As graduate law students, we know for certain that adherence to the law must not be a passing consideration. Our government cannot dismantle the law for the sake of unfettered discretion in advancing national security policies or cling in vain to weak legal justifications. As the next generation of America's lawyers, our job is to stand up for the rule of law, not the rule of men.

Gonzales claimed he was contributing to a vibrant discussion, but there was no discourse. He left the room immediately following his speech and did not take part in the panel discussion. Like the president, he has consistently refused to take questions, snubbed the myriad voices of dissent and manipulated the horrors of 9/11 for the sacrifice of our liberties.

This event was one among a series of other recent national events with the same agenda -- top administration officials speaking against an official backdrop chosen to legitimize a program that has brought them criticism. We could not allow our law school to be used as the legitimate backdrop for the administration's staged photo-op.

Despite two rows of Justice Department staff and three rows of media in a small room, we made sure that the attorney general did not preach to a docile audience. We have been taught to question, to challenge and to advocate. Most of all, we have been taught to understand the law and to apply it rigorously.

Alberto Gonzales chose to use our school as the platform to justify breaking the laws we are taught to honor. We chose instead to stand for the law.

Jennie Pasquarella and Shonali Shome are students at Georgetown University Law Center in Washington, D.C. To learn more about their campaign, visit their website.

The Educational System Was Designed to Keep Us Uneducated and Docile

From Russ Kick's Memory Hole

It's no secret that the US educational system doesn't do a very good job. Like clockwork, studies show that America's schoolkids lag behind their peers in pretty much every industrialized nation. We hear shocking statistics about the percentage of high-school seniors who can't find the US on an unmarked map of the world or who don't know who Abraham Lincoln was.

Fingers are pointed at various aspects of the schooling system—overcrowded classrooms, lack of funding, teachers who can't pass competency exams in their fields, etc. But these are just secondary problems. Even if they were cleared up, schools would still suck. Why? Because they were designed to.

How can I make such a bold statement? How do I know why America's public school system was designed the way it was (age-segregated, six to eight 50-minute classes in a row announced by Pavlovian bells, emphasis on rote memorization, lorded over by unquestionable authority figures, etc.)? Because the men who designed, funded, and implemented America's formal educational system in the late 1800s and early 1900s wrote about what they were doing.

Almost all of these books, articles, and reports are out of print and hard to obtain. Luckily for us, John Taylor Gatto tracked them down. Gatto was voted the New York City Teacher of the Year three times and the New York State Teacher of the Year in 1991. But he became disillusioned with schools—the way they enforce conformity, the way they kill the natural creativity, inquisitiveness, and love of learning that every little child has at the beginning. So he began to dig into terra incognita, the roots of America's educational system.

In 1888, the Senate Committee on Education was getting jittery about the localized, non-standardized, non-mandatory form of education that was actually teaching children to read at advanced levels, to comprehend history, and, egads, to think for themselves. The committee's report stated, "We believe that education is one of the principal causes of discontent of late years manifesting itself among the laboring classes."

By the turn of the century, America's new educrats were pushing a new form of schooling with a new mission (and it wasn't to teach). The famous philosopher and educator John Dewey wrote in 1897:

Every teacher should realize he is a social servant set apart for the maintenance of the proper social order and the securing of the right social growth.

In his 1905 dissertation for Columbia Teachers College, Elwood Cubberly—the future Dean of Education at Stanford—wrote that schools should be factories "in which raw products, children, are to be shaped and formed into finished products...manufactured like nails, and the specifications for manufacturing will come from government and industry."

The next year, the Rockefeller Education Board—which funded the creation of numerous public schools—issued a statement which read in part:

In our dreams...people yield themselves with perfect docility to our molding hands. The present educational conventions [intellectual and character education] fade from our minds, and unhampered by tradition we work our own good will upon a grateful and responsive folk. We shall not try to make these people or any of their children into philosophers or men of learning or men of science. We have not to raise up from among them authors, educators, poets or men of letters. We shall not search for embryo great artists, painters, musicians, nor lawyers, doctors, preachers, politicians, statesmen, of whom we have ample supply. The task we set before ourselves is very simple...we will organize children...and teach them to do in a perfect way the things their fathers and mothers are doing in an imperfect way.

At the same time, William Torrey Harris, US Commissioner of Education from 1889 to 1906, wrote:

Ninety-nine [students] out of a hundred are automata, careful to walk in prescribed paths, careful to follow the prescribed custom. This is not an accident but the result of substantial education, which, scientifically defined, is the subsumption of the individual.

In that same book, The Philosophy of Education, Harris also revealed:

The great purpose of school can be realized better in dark, airless, ugly places.... It is to master the physical self, to transcend the beauty of nature. School should develop the power to withdraw from the external world.

Several years later, President Woodrow Wilson would echo these sentiments in a speech to businessmen:

We want one class to have a liberal education. We want another class, a very much larger class of necessity, to forego the privilege of a liberal education and fit themselves to perform specific difficult manual tasks.

Writes Gatto: "Another major architect of standardized testing, H.H. Goddard, said in his book Human Efficiency (1920) that government schooling was about 'the perfect organization of the hive.'"

While President of Harvard from 1933 to 1953, James Bryant Conant wrote that the change to a forced, rigid, potential-destroying educational system had been demanded by "certain industrialists and the innovative who were altering the nature of the industrial process."

In other words, the captains of industry and government explicitly wanted an educational system that would maintain social order by teaching us just enough to get by but not enough so that we could think for ourselves, question the sociopolitical order, or communicate articulately. We were to become good worker-drones, with a razor-thin slice of the population—mainly the children of the captains of industry and government—to rise to the level where they could continue running things.

This was the openly admitted blueprint for the public schooling system, a blueprint which remains unchanged to this day. Although the true reasons behind it aren't often publicly expressed, they're apparently still known within education circles. Clinical psychologist Bruce E. Levine wrote in 2001:

I once consulted with a teacher of an extremely bright eight-year-old boy labeled with oppositional defiant disorder. I suggested that perhaps the boy didn't have a disease, but was just bored. His teacher, a pleasant woman, agreed with me. However, she added, "They told us at the state conference that our job is to get them ready for the work world…that the children have to get used to not being stimulated all the time or they will lose their jobs in the real world."

John Taylor Gatto's book, The Underground History of American Education: An Intimate Investigation into the Problem of Modern Schooling (New York: Oxford Village Press, 2001), is the source for all of the above historical quotes. It is a profoundly important, unnerving book, which I recommend most highly. You can order it from Gatto's Website, which now contains the entire book online for free.

The final quote above is from page 74 of Bruce E. Levine's excellent book Commonsense Rebellion: Debunking Psychiatry, Confronting Society (New York: Continuum Publishing Group, 2001).

Monday, January 23, 2006

Vote "NO!" On Hillary For Prez

Published on Friday, January 20, 2006 by the Columbus Free Press (Ohio)
I Will Not Support Hillary Clinton for President
by Molly Ivins

I'd like to make it clear to the people who run the Democratic Party that I will not support Hillary Clinton for president.

Enough. Enough triangulation, calculation and equivocation. Enough clever straddling, enough not offending anyone This is not a Dick Morris election. Sen. Clinton is apparently incapable of taking a clear stand on the war in Iraq, and that alone is enough to disqualify her. Her failure to speak out on Terri Schiavo, not to mention that gross pandering on flag-burning, are just contemptible little dodges.

The recent death of Gene McCarthy reminded me of a lesson I spent a long, long time unlearning, so now I have to re-learn it. It's about political courage and heroes, and when a country is desperate for leadership. There are times when regular politics will not do, and this is one of those times. There are times a country is so tired of bull that only the truth can provide relief.

If no one in conventional-wisdom politics has the courage to speak up and say what needs to be said, then you go out and find some obscure junior senator from Minnesota with the guts to do it. In 1968, Gene McCarthy was the little boy who said out loud, "Look, the emperor isn't wearing any clothes." Bobby Kennedy -- rough, tough Bobby Kennedy -- didn't do it. Just this quiet man trained by Benedictines who liked to quote poetry.


Friday, January 20, 2006

Google (Finally) Stands Up And Says, "ENOUGH!"

When I posted this, I had no idea that Google was complicit in the Chinese government's plan to censor the Internet by supplying them with ready-made censored search engines, for the purpose of profit over people. Here is a link to my favorite article concerning said profiteering.--Pete


Google Rebuffs DoJ's Porn Data Order
By Roy Mark, InternetNews
January 20, 2006

Google said Thursday it would "vigorously" resist complying with a federal court order to turn over data the Department of Justice (DoJ) deems necessary for its flagging constitutional defense of the Child Online Protection Act (COPA).

COPA has been in legal limbo since 1998, when Congress passed the legislation making it a criminal act to post free online material considered to be "harmful to minors." Felony penalties range from up to $50,000 per day and up to six months imprisonment.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) and other public advocates immediately went to court to block the law. The case has twice been before the Supreme Court and twice been sent back to a lower court where it awaits trial.

The ACLU contents the law is unconstitutional on free speech grounds and that there are less draconian ways to protect children while they are online; primarily, filters.

For its defense of COPA, the DoJ wants to know just how effective filters are and the real data rests in the databases of Google and other search engines. The DoJ issued subpoenas for the data it is seeking and, according to the DoJ, "Google has refused to comply…in any way."

The government on Wednesday filed a motion to comply with its subpoena in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California.

Google, for its part, issued a statement: "Google is not a party to this lawsuit and their demand for information overreaches. We had lengthy discussions with them to try to resolve this, but were not able to and we intend to resist their motion vigorously."

A DoJ official testifying Thursday before the Senate Commerce Committee on Internet pornography refused to comment on inquires from lawmakers since the case is now in litigation.

According to the motion, the DoJ is seeking "the text of each search string entered into Google's search engine over a one week period (absent any information identifying the person who entered such query)."

The motion also reveals the government originally sought from Google an electronic file containing "all URL's that are available to be located through a query on your company's search engine as of July 1, 2005."

After, again "lengthy negotiations," the DoJ narrowed the subpoena request to one million random sample search queries before finally settling on one week's worth of queries.

"The production of those materials would be of significant assistance to the government's preparation of its defense of the constitutionality of this important statute," the motion states.

The DoJ claims the discovery of the data assists the "efforts to understand the behavior of current Web users, to estimate how often Web users encounter harmful-to-minors material in the course of their searches, and to measure the effectiveness of filtering software in screening that material."

The motion also states that "other" search engines have complied with the DoJ subpoenas. Bloomberg reported late Thursday night that Yahoo, the nation's second largest search engine behind Google, had complied with the government request for anonymous search engine data.

'We did not provide any personal information in response to the Department of Justice's subpoena. In our opinion this is not a privacy issue," Bloomberg quotes a Yahoo official.

Microsoft, the number three-ranked U.S. search engine, did not immediately respond to an inquiry about its compliance with the DoJ subpoena.

According to the DoJ's compliance motion, "The government has issued subpoenas to, and has received compliance from, other entities that operate search engines and each of those entities has produced electronic files that contain the text of search strings, but..do not contain any additional personal identifying information."


Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Poll: Majority of Americans Support Impeachment If Bush Wiretapped Illegally

ZOGBY - By a margin of 52% to 43%, Americans want Congress to impeach President Bush if he wiretapped American citizens without a judge's approval, according to a new poll commissioned by After Downing Street, a grassroots coalition that supports a congressional investigation of President Bush's decision to invade Iraq in 2003. The poll was conducted by Zogby International, the highly-regarded non-partisan polling company. The poll interviewed 1,216 U.S. adults from January 9-12. . .
Responses to the Zogby poll varied by political party affiliation: 76% of Democrats favored impeachment, compared to 50% of Independents and 29% of Republicans. 70% of those 18-29 favored impeachment, 51% of those 31-49, 50% of those 50-64, and 42% of those over 65. 56% of women favored impeachment, compared to 49% of men. Among African Americans, 90% favored impeachment, compared to 67% of Hispanics, and 46% of
whites. Majorities of Catholics, Jews, Muslims, and Others favored impeachment, while 49% of Protestants and 46% of Born Again Christians did so.

Majorities favored impeachment in the East (53%), West (56%), and Central states (58%), but not the South (43%). In large cities, 58% support impeachment; in small cities, 56%; in suburbs, 49%; in rural areas, 46%.


Bush Authorized Domestic Spying Before 9/11

By Jason Leopold
t r u t h o u t | Perspective

Friday 13 January 2006

The National Security Agency advised President Bush in early 2001 that it had been eavesdropping on Americans during the course of its work monitoring suspected terrorists and foreigners believed to have ties to terrorist groups, according to a declassified document.

The NSA's vast data-mining activities began shortly after Bush was sworn in as president and the document contradicts his assertion that the 9/11 attacks prompted him to take the unprecedented step of signing a secret executive order authorizing the NSA to monitor a select number of American citizens thought to have ties to terrorist groups.

In its "Transition 2001" report, the NSA said that the ever-changing world of global communication means that "American communication and targeted adversary communication will coexist."

"Make no mistake, NSA can and will perform its missions consistent with the Fourth Amendment and all applicable laws," the document says.

However, it adds that "senior leadership must understand that the NSA's mission will demand a 'powerful, permanent presence' on global telecommunications networks that host both 'protected' communications of Americans and the communications of adversaries the agency wants to target."

What had long been understood to be protocol in the event that the NSA spied on average Americans was that the agency would black out the identities of those individuals or immediately destroy the information.

But according to people who worked at the NSA as encryption specialists during this time, that's not what happened. On orders from Defense Department officials and President Bush, the agency kept a running list of the names of Americans in its system and made it readily available to a number of senior officials in the Bush administration, these sources said, which in essence meant the NSA was conducting a covert domestic surveillance operation in violation of the law.

James Risen, author of the book State of War and credited with first breaking the story about the NSA's domestic surveillance operations, said President Bush personally authorized a change in the agency's long-standing policies shortly after he was sworn in in 2001.

"The president personally and directly authorized new operations, like the NSA's domestic surveillance program, that almost certainly would never have been approved under normal circumstances and that raised serious legal or political questions," Risen wrote in the book. "Because of the fevered climate created throughout the government by the president and his senior advisers, Bush sent signals of what he wanted done, without explicit presidential orders" and "the most ambitious got the message."


Bush to criminalize protesters under Patriot Act as "disruptors"

From Patriot Daily News Clearinghouse
Posted 1-11-2006

Bush to criminalize protesters under Patriot Act as "disruptors"

Bush wants to create the new criminal of "disruptor" who can be jailed for the crime of "disruptive behavior." A "little-noticed provision" in the latest version of the Patriot Act will empower Secret Service to charge protesters with a new crime of "disrupting major events including political conventions and the Olympics." Secret Service would also be empowered to charge persons with "breaching security" and to charge for "entering a restricted area" which is "where the President or other person protected by the Secret Service is or will be temporarily visiting." In short, be sure to stay in those wired, fenced containments or free speech zones.

Who is the "disruptor"? Bush Team history tells us the disruptor is an American citizen with the audacity to attend Bush events wearing a T-shirt that criticizes Bush; or a member of civil rights, environmental, anti-war or counter-recruiting groups who protest Bush policies; or a person who invades Bush's bubble by criticizing his policies. A disruptor is also a person who interferes in someone else's activity, such as interrupting Bush when he is speaking at a press conference or during an interview.

What are the parameters of the crime of "disruptive behavior"? The dictionary defines "disruptive" as "characterized by unrest or disorder or insubordination." The American Medical Association defines disruptive behavior as a "style of interaction" with people that interferes with patient care, and can include behavior such as "foul language; rude, loud or offensive comments; and intimidation of patients and family members."

Read The Article for More...

Sunday, January 15, 2006

...and sometimes enlightenment shines through the fog of ignorance.

GUARDIAN -The 500 companies listed on Norway's stock exchange face being shut down unless they install women on their boards over the next two years in a radical initiative imposed by a government determined to help women break through the "glass ceiling." After a week in which the Equal Opportunities Commission in Britain has warned that it would take 40 years for women to break into the ranks of the FTSE 100 in the same way as men, Norwegian companies face a two-year deadline to ensure that women hold 40% of the seats of each company listed on the Oslo bourse. New companies have to comply now with the rules and the government is considering extending the law to family-owned companies as well.

The requirement came into effect at the start of this year after companies were given two years to embrace the demands voluntarily following the passing of the law in 2003. State-owned companies are already obliged to comply and now have 45% female representation on their boards.

The failure of companies to act - about half of the companies on the stock market are estimated to have no women on their boards - has prompted the Norwegian equality minister, Karita Bekkemellem, to take the draconian step of threatening firms with closure.


Abramoff's Greasy Fingers Into The Very Media Entrusted To Report On His Widespread Influence

KATHARINE Q. SEELYE, NY TIMES - The press has spilled plenty of ink writing about Jack Abramoff, the powerful Washington lobbyist at the center of an extensive corruption scandal. But little noticed is that among Mr. Abramoff's many clients was the press itself, at least part of it. In 2000, he represented the Magazine publishers Association, and it turns out that some of the association's money may have been funneled to Mr. Abramoff's political allies.

In documents last week in which Mr. Abramoff pleaded guilty to mail fraud and conspiracy to bribe public officials, he revealed that he and an unidentified Congressional aide worked to stave off an increase in postal rates - a significant benefit for an industry that depends on the postal service.

The plea document said that Mr. Abramoff and the Congressional aide performed "a series of official acts, including assisting in stopping legislation regarding Internet gambling and opposing postal rate increases."

The corruption scandal could involve dozens of members of Congress, political operatives and lobbyists suspected of arranging bribes in exchange for favorable legislation and other benefits.

The magazine association paid at least $1.4 million from 2000 to 2003 to Preston Gates Ellis & Rouvelas Meeds, the lobbying firm where Mr. Abramoff was the chief lobbyist


Half Of Baby Rats Fed GM Soya Died Within First Three Weeks

GEOFFREY LEAN, INDEPENDENT, UK - Women who eat GM foods while pregnant risk endangering their unborn babies, startling new research suggests. The study - carried out by a leading scientist at the Russian Academy of Sciences - found that more than half of the offspring of rats fed on modified soya died in the first three weeks of life, six times as many as those born to mothers with normal diets. Six times as many were also severely underweight. The research - which is being prepared for publication - is just one of a clutch of recent studies that are reviving fears that GM food damages human health. Italian research has found that modified soya affected the liver and pancreas of mice. Australia had to abandon a decade-long attempt to develop modified peas when an official study found they caused lung damage.

Last May this newspaper revealed a secret report by the biotech giant Monsanto, which showed that rats fed a diet rich in GM corn had smaller kidneys and higher blood cell counts, suggesting possible damage to their immune systems, than those that ate a similar conventional one. . .

The Russian research threatens to have an explosive effect on already hostile public opinion. Carried out by Dr Irina Ermakova at the Institute of Higher Nervous Activity and Neurophysiology of the Russian Academy of Sciences, it is believed to be the first to look at the effects of GM food on the unborn.


Religious Wackos Anoint Alito's Seat, Possibly Ruining A Nice Pair Of Gabardines

JUNE KRONHOLZ, WALL STREET JOURNAL - Insisting that God "certainly needs to be involved" in the Supreme Court confirmation process, three Christian ministers today blessed the doors of the hearing room where Senate Judiciary Committee members will begin considering the nomination of Judge Samuel Alito on Monday. Capitol Hill police barred them from entering the room to continue what they called a consecration service. But in a bit of one-upsmanship, the three announced that they had let themselves in a day earlier, touching holy oil to the seats where Judge Alito, the senators, witnesses, Senate staffers and the press will sit, and praying for each of the 13 committee members by name. "We did adequately apply oil to all the seats," said the Rev. Rob Schenck, who identified himself as an evangelical Christian and as president of the National Clergy Council in Washington.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Bush Crimes Commision Update

Ray McGovern leads a delegation to serve the indictments on the White House

For the first time in U.S. history, a people's tribunal has served both the Counsel to the President Harriet Miers and Attorney General Alberto Gonzales with indictments charging the President and his administration with war crimes and crimes against humanity (read these indictments at www.bushcommission.org/indictments.htm).

Funds are urgently needed to fly in the remaining key witnesses. Checks should be made out to "Not In Our Name" and mailed to Not In Out Name, 305 West Broadway, #199, New York, NY 10013. Contributions can be made on line at www.nion.us/NSOC/sign.htm. If you can donate frequent flyer miles, write to

The last three days of testimony will be January 20-22 in New York (see www.bushcommission.org for details and registration). If you cannot attend in person, write to C-Span at events@c-span.org today, and ask that they broadcast this historic event.

Judges: Adjoa Aiyetoro, Prof. of Law at Univ. of Arkansas; Dennis Brutus, South African exile poet; Abdeen Jabara, former president of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee; Ajamu Sankofa, executive director of Physicians for Social Responsibility-NY; Ann Wright, former foreign service officer who resigned from the State Department to protest the war on Iraq.

Key Witnesses & Prosecutors: Brig. Gen. Janis Karpinski; Craig Murray, former British ambassador to Uzbekistan; Scott Ritter, former UN weapons inspector; Lindsey German, Convener, UK Stop the War Coalition; Michael Ratner, president, Center for Constitutional Rights; Ray McGovern, former CIA analyst; Dahr Jamail, journalist reported extensively from Iraq; Marjorie Cohn, president-elect National Lawyers Guild; Barbara Olshansky, Center for Constitutional Rights; Ted Glick, Climate Crisis Coalition; Daphne Wysham, Institute for Policy Studies, Sustainable Energy & Economy Network; Tom Devine, Government Accountability Project; Chokwe Lumumba, attorney and human rights activist; Jeremy Scahill, The Nation; Steven Miles; Dr. Thomas Fasy; Katrina survivors; representative of AfterDowningStreet.org

Also Video: Stop the War – The Iraq War 2003 -2006: evidence from Pentagon; BBC and Channel 4 film footage of Grave Breaches of The Hague and Geneva Conventions;

1945 Nuremberg Charter and United Nations Charter in support of Tony Benn's Submission to The UN and UK Attorney General of December 2005 (including leaked Pentagon gun-camera footage of the U.S. assault on Fallujah)

These hearing are an instrumentality of world humanity, arising from the historical, moral and political responsibility of people of conscience to sit in judgment of what is being done in their name. It is your financial support is what makes this possible. Please contribute what you think it is worth to have these crimes against documented as part of a comprehensive prosecution.

Volunteers needed in the New York area! Contact the office at commission@nion.us.

Friday, January 13, 2006

Predictions of an Economic Hit Man

By John Perkins, AlterNet
Posted on January 13, 2006

Most people in the United States know that a transit strike crippled New York City. Fewer are aware that seven South American countries, representing over 80 percent of the continent's population, recently elected presidents with anti-American sentiments. The former has an immediate effect. The latter will impact our children for decades to come.

In December 2005, Evo Morales buried seven challengers -- taking 54 percent of the vote -- in what the New York Times referred to as "the most important election since Bolivia's transition from dictatorship to democracy a generation ago." His platform appealed to the poor, including farmers whose main source of income, coca plants, caused them to suffer brutal treatment at the hands of U.S. drug agents. Although U.S. politicians and the media have denounced coca because it is used to produce cocaine, the fact is that it is extremely important in the Andes as a legal remedy for altitude sickness, digestive problems and other illnesses.

Evo Morales is the latest in a long list of democratically elected Latin American presidents whose primary appeal is their opposition to U.S., IMF and World Bank policies that favor foreign corporations with reputations for exploiting natural resources and local labor. Bolivia joins the ranks of previously pro-American countries that have recently turned against Washington and Wall Street, such as Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Ecuador, Uruguay and Venezuela.

Argentina's President Kirchner recently announced what has been hailed as an "anti-IMF rebellion." He paid off nearly $10 billion in IMF debt in order to get out from under a burden that, he said, "caused poverty and pain among the Argentine people."

Venezuela's President Chavez has become a popular spokesman for anti-U.S. sentiments around the world.

Ecuador's President Gutierrez was thrown out of office by a popular grass-roots uprising when he capitulated to economic hitman threats and bribes, and went against his campaign promises to force U.S. oil companies to pay more to the Ecuadorian people for Ecuadorian oil. An Ecuadorian friend told me, "If a democratically elected official does not honor his campaign promises, democracy demands that we replace him."

In the past year, a rising tide of people throughout the world has been rebelling against policies they see as unjust. This has occurred in Africa, Asia, Europe, Latin America and the Middle East, as well as in the United States, where New York transit workers fought to defend their economic well-being. As one transit worker told me, "We're sick of being told that our families must sacrifice while huge corporations and their executives receive tax breaks."

This rebellion is facilitated by the internet, cell phones and satellite dishes. People in places once considered remote are increasingly aware of statistics such as these:

* Transnational corporations have taken control of much of the production and trade in developing countries: For example, 40 percent of the world's coffee is traded by just four companies; the top 30 supermarket chains control almost one-third of worldwide grocery sales.

* A trade surplus of $1 billion for developing countries in the 1970s turned into an $11 billion deficit by 2001.

* The income ratio of the one-fifth of the world's population in the wealthiest countries to the one-fifth in the poorest went from 30 to 1 in 1960 to 74 to 1 in 1995.

* Of the 100 largest economies in the world, 51 are corporations; of those, 47 are U.S.-based.

* The overall share of federal taxes paid by U.S. corporations is now less than 10 percent, down from 21 percent in 2001 and over 50 percent during World War II; one-third of America's largest and most profitable corporations paid zero taxes -- or actually received credits -- in at least one of the last three years (according to Forbes magazine).

* Back in 1980 the average American chief executive earned 40 times as much as the average manufacturing employee. For the top tier of American CEOs, the ratio is now 475:1 and would be vastly greater if assets, in addition to income, were taken into account. By way of comparison, the ratio in Britain is 24:1, in France 15:1, in Sweden 13:1.

* Pre-Civil War slaves received room and board; wages paid by the sweatshops that today serve many U.S. industries will not cover the most basic needs.

Unrest in New York and Latin America, as well as in Africa, Asia, Europe and the Middle East are harbingers of the difficulties that will haunt future generations -- unless we take heed. They serve notice that if we want a peaceful and prosperous future for our children, we must recognize basic human needs; we must insist that all people -- not just those at the top -- have the right to justice and dignity. Bolivian voters, NYC transit workers and democratically elected presidents of other countries are warning us that the bottom line of the corporate balance sheet is not the final statement upon which our society will ultimately be graded.

John Perkins is the author of "Confessions of an Economic Hit Man." His website is johnperkins.org.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Different Americas


George W. Bush, like the old European monarchs, claimed he possessed inherent rights and implied that those who question such prerogatives might have treasonous motives. "As President and Commander-in-Chief, I have the constitutional responsibility and the constitutional authority to protect our country," Bush responded to stories of his authorizing wiretaps on US citizens without getting legal permission. Bush then turned on the leakers.

"It was a shameful act for someone to disclose this very important program in a time of war," said Bush. "The fact that we're discussing this program is helping the enemy." Bush did not consider "shameful" the 2003 disclosure of a covert CIA operative's name to the media (Valerie Plame) by members of his staff. Nor did he recall that he assured the public that "a wiretap requires a court order It's important for our fellow citizens to understand, when you think Patriot Act, constitutional guarantees are in the place" April 20, 2004

W didn't seem to sense any contradiction between what he said and did. He also denied that the US practiced torture as the press revealed that his war on terrorism had spawned torture at Guantanamo, Cuba, Abu Ghraib, Iraq and at secret CIA-run prisons throughout the world. He also did not like the medias reporting on US agents kidnapping suspected terrorists and shipping them elsewhere (rendition) for torture and interrogation. For the Bush family such issues did not merit discussion as holiday conversation.

Indeed, the inner circle felt satisfied that on December 17, Bush had defined the proper position in his national radio address (and on TV). Wire tapping US citizens without warrants was "fully consistent" with his "constitutional responsibilities and authorities" (cnn.com, December, 17, 2005).

A week earlier he had snapped at a reporter who raised the constitutional question. "I don't give a goddamn. I'm the President and the Commander-in-Chief. Do it my way."

One aide apparently said. "There is a valid case that the provisions in this law undermine the Constitution."

"Stop throwing the Constitution in my face," Bush screamed back. "It's just a goddamned piece of paper!" (Doug Thompson, Capitol Hill Blue, Dec 8, 2005).


The Scoop That Got Spiked

Times delay on wiretap story leaves questions unanswered


By any standard, the New York Times' story of December 16 was a blockbuster: Reporters James Risen and Eric Lichtblau revealed that following the September 11 attacks, the Bush administration initiated warrantless wiretaps on hundreds of people within the U.S.--including U.S. citizens--even though a federal law, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978, expressly forbids the government from doing so. This program was legal only if one accepts the administration's contention that the executive branch has essentially unlimited powers during "wartime" (even though Congress has not declared war).

The Times story would be an outstanding example of how the First Amendment works to protect liberty--were it not for the ninth paragraph:

"The White House asked The New York Times not to publish this article, arguing that it could jeopardize continuing investigations and alert would-be terrorists that they might be under scrutiny. After meeting with senior administration officials to hear their concerns, the newspaper delayed publication for a year to conduct additional reporting. Some information that administration officials argued could be useful to terrorists has been omitted."

The reasoning is absurd on its face. As Times executive editor Bill Keller noted in a statement released on December 16 explaining his decision to publish the story, "The fact that the government eavesdrops on those suspected of terrorist connections is well-known." But this was as obvious a year ago as it is today. As for the government's spying being "jeopardized," placing illegal and unconstitutional programs in jeopardy is the whole point of the First Amendment (Extra! Update, 12/05).

But Keller's statement revealed that the Times does not see itself as competent to watch out for illegal government activity. In explaining the delay, Keller stated that the administration had "assured senior editors of the Times that a variety of legal checks had been imposed that satisfied everyone involved that the program raised no legal questions." Keller went on to say that "it is not our place to pass judgment on the legal or civil liberties questions involved in such a program, but it became clear those questions loomed larger within the government than we had previously understood."

In other words, Keller believes it is the Times' "place" to accept officials' own evaluation of the legality of their behavior. (Note that, to the Times, "everyone involved" does not include the people whose constitutional rights were violated, but only the handful of people inside the government who were aware of the program.)


Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Bush Crimes Commision

On January 10, an unprecedented act will occur as the International Commission on Inquiry on Crimes Against Humanity Committed by the Bush Administration will serve indictments on the Attorney General and the White House!

These indictments arise from the historical, moral and political responsibility of people of conscience to sit in judgment of what is being done in their name. Your financial support is is critical to bring together these witnesses who have the goods on the Bush administration and are ready to tell all.

The Commission hearings will be held on January 20-22, 2006, at The Riverside Church and the Columbia University Law School in New York. Here are two more profiles of selected witnesses who will appear:

Janis Karpinski, the former Army Reserve brigadier general who was in charge of Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison, maintains she and other reservists have been unfairly scapegoated for the prisoner abuse scandal that was ordered by higher-ups, and the mistreatment of detainees may still be occurring.

Craig Murray was the United Kingdom's Ambassador to Uzbekistan, until removed from his post after he publicly criticized the human rights situation in Uzbekistan. He has also criticized the UK government for committing torture by proxy, sending "terrorist suspects" to Uzbekistan for their security services to extract intelligence.

Imagine what this means to people all over the world. Prominent witnesses, presenting compelling evidence, before a jury of conscience, expertise, and stature, can galvanize truths that change hearts and minds, and can deliver a powerful j'accuse right in Bush's "brave new homeland." But to do this, we need the funds now to bring these witnesses to New York.

You can make it possible by donating to the Commission and by raising funds from family and friends. Checks should be made out to "Not In Our Name" and mailed to Not In Out Name, 305 West Broadway, #199, New York, NY 10013. Contributions can be made on line at www.nion.us/NSOC/sign.htm

To contribute frequent flyer miles, contact us at commission@nion.us.
You may also register for the conference on-line at www.bushcommission.org.

Monday, January 09, 2006

...But Sometimes Justice Prevails


GREG TOPPO, USA TODAY - Florida's highest court on Thursday handed public school advocates a decisive victory, striking down a Florida program that gives students taxpayer-funded tuition vouchers to private schools. It was the first time a state Supreme Court has said states have a duty to educate students in public schools. The ruling acknowledged as well that vouchers have the potential to drain funding from needy public schools.

The vouchers, known as Opportunity Scholarships, are a cornerstone of Florida Gov. Jeb Bush's education agenda, but in a 5-2 opinion the Florida Supreme Court rebuked Bush's approach, declaring the program unconstitutional and saying it funnels tax dollars into "separate private systems parallel to and in competition with the free public schools."

Two Bush appointees dissented.


Sunday, January 08, 2006

RI Approves Medical Marijuana

NEW STANDARD - Defying the state's governor, the Rhode Island House of Representatives yesterday voted 59–13 to override the veto of a medical marijuana legalization measure approved earlier this year. In so doing, the nation's smallest state joined ten others in bucking the federal government's Supreme Court-backed prohibition against using the plant even for medicinal purposes.


Nixon was Impeached In Part For Doing Far Less Than What Bush Has Done


There can be no serious question that warrantless wiretapping, in violation of the law, is impeachable. After all, Nixon was charged in Article II of his bill of impeachment with illegal wiretapping for what he, too, claimed were national security reasons. These parallel violations underscore the continuing, disturbing parallels between this administration and the Nixon Administration.

Indeed, here, Bush may have outdone Nixon: Nixon's illegal surveillance was limited; Bush's, it is developing, may be extraordinarily broad in scope. First reports indicated that NSA was only monitoring foreign calls, originating either in the USA or abroad, and that no more than 500 calls were being covered at any given time. But later reports have suggested that NSA is "data mining" literally millions of calls - and has been given access by the telecommunications companies to "switching" stations through which foreign communications traffic flows. In sum, this is big-time, Big Brother electronic surveillance. . .

Through the FBI, Nixon had wiretapped five members of his national security staff, two newsmen, and a staffer at the Department of Defense. These people were targeted because Nixon's plans for dealing with Vietnam -- we were at war at the time -- were ending up on the front page of the New York Times. . .

Bush has given one legal explanation for his actions which borders on the laughable: He claims that implicit in Congress' authorization of his use of force against the Taliban in Afghanistan, following the 9/11 attack, was an exemption from FISA. No sane member of Congress believes that the authorization of military force provided such an authorization. No first year law student would mistakenly make such a claim. It is not merely a stretch; it is ludicrous.


Abramoff's Ties To Israeli Extremists (read: "Terrorists")

JUAN COLE - Abramoff's dense network of illicit finances and phony charities might end some political careers in the United States. But the investigation into his activities by the FBI also shed light on the ways in which rightwing American Jews have often been involved in funding what are essentially terrorist activities by armed land thieves in Palestinian territory.

Indeed, it was this terror funding of Israeli far right militiamen that tripped Abramoff up, since the FBI discovered that he had misled Indian tribes into giving money to the Jabotinskyites, and then began wondering if he had defrauded the tribes in other ways. (You betcha!) The Indian leaders were furious when they discovered they had been used to oppress another dispossessed indigenous people, the Palestinians, calling it "Outer Limits bizarre" and saying that they would never have willingly given money to such a cause. . .

But here's a prediction. None of the Jewish extremists, some of them violent, who are invading the West Bank and making the lives of the local Palestinians miserable will ever be branded "terrorists" by the US Government, and Abramoff's foray into providing sniper lessons will be quietly buried. Terror isn't terror and aggression is not aggression when it has lobbyists in Congress who can provide luxury vacations and illegal campaign funding.

Juan Cole is Professor of History at the University of Michigan

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Mine Tragedy Highlights Decay of Regulations, Enforcement

by Brendan Coyne, NewStandard

The federal government and even the AFL-CIO have shifted attention away from workplace safety concerns at the national level in recent years, and labor says fines are just a slap on the wrist.

Jan 5 - While experts and government officials begin investigating the West Virginia mine accident that killed twelve men, organized labor groups and their allies are calling for renewed government action on workplace safety.

The Bush administration has weakened mine safety enforcement during its tenure. Meanwhile, the nation's largest labor federation has itself cut funds for health and safety advocacy and training.

As The NewStandard reported earlier this week, labor groups have criticized the Bush administration for cutting staff at the Mine Safety and Health Administration – the federal agency in charge of inspecting and enforcing mine safety.

Bush appointees have also eliminated regulations designed to protect miners. For instance, David Lauriski, a former mining-company official who was appointed to head the MSHA in 2001, altered a rule requiring mines to have at least two separate exit paths. The regulation is one of seventeen aimed at making mining less dangerous that the MSHA has undone since 2001, according to the government watchdog OMB Watch.

United Mine Workers of America Secretary-Treasurer Dan Kane told CNN yesterday that when considering official's commitment to enforcement, it's important to "look at the level of violations, the number of unwarrantable failures that were issued," but also "the amount of the fines."

According to the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) website, the agency issued 208 separate citations to the Sago mine totaling just under $25,000 in 2005. A spokesperson for the West Virginia Office of Miners' Safety and Health told the Associated Press that it had slapped owners of the mine with 144 citations of its own last year. Both the state and federal citations mark an increase over the previous year.

"In many cases," Kane told CNN, "fines are issued that amount to what you and I may pay for a speeding ticket out on the Beltway. Fines have to be incentives to enforce the law. We can't allow them to become just another cost of doing business to the coal company."

Of last year's Sago fines, most were for amounts less than $100, with a handful for amounts over $200, according to MSHA records. A single November 2005 inspection netted five separate violations of mine-roof regulations, including a $440 fine for failing to properly vent methane and dust particles. In a search of data dating to the beginning of 2004, such ventilation fines reappear frequently and account for many of the larger fines.

Methane and other particles commonly found in coal mines are known to be highly explosive in small concentrations.

Improper equipment maintenance and fire-suppression equipment violations were also prevalent at Sago over the past two years, with the last earning Sago its largest-assessed penalty during the period examined by TNS: $878 in April 2004, a fine that has yet to be paid.

According to the most-recent complete national data, MSHA issued 64,635 citations in 2004 for a total of $17 million at mines throughout the nation. Of those, just 59 were for amounts the Administration terms "high-dollar," meaning $10,000 or more, with the largest fine being $38,500. As of last night, only three of those 59 fines had been paid, for a total of $33,300.

In press statements, Labor Secretary Elaine Chao and acting MSHA head David Dye said MSHA is undertaking an investigation into the explosion. Dye stated that the investigation "will evaluate all aspects of the accident and response, including compliance with all federal health and safety standards, and how emergency information was relayed about the trapped miners' conditions."

No investigation by an independent body – and no inquiry into the MSHA's prior dealings with the Sago mine – has been announced.

Labor advocates have long accused the federal government of generally failing to take workers' health and safety seriously, noting that the number of workers killed or injured in the job in the US remains high.

According to the most recently available numbers from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), work-related incidents in the US took the lives of 5,559 workers and left another 4.4 million injured in 2003. The governmental department charged with overseeing labor-safety issues reported inspecting 23,625 incidents and over 50,000 hazardous conditions in 2004 through its offices and state programs it funds.

While the federal government eased mine safety regulations, the nation's largest conglomerate of unions, the AFL-CIO, controversially shuttered its own organization's health-and-safety office last year, cutting staff and folding it into a larger government-affairs office, as TNS reported in May.

"We don't know if Monday's mine explosion was related to the cited conditions, but it certainly is another in a long line of wake-up calls for increased government and industry attention to workers' safety on the job. Regardless of the cause, our nation's safety and health laws must be strengthened," AFl-CIO president John Sweeney said in a statement issued before the fate of the twelve West Virginia miners was known.

BushCo Says, "Don't Fuck With Me, Mere Citizen"!

Jan 4, 2006

James Moore is an Emmy-winning former television news correspondent and the co-author of the bestselling, Bush's Brain: How Karl Rove Made George W. Bush Presidential. He has been writing and reporting from Texas for the past 25 years on the rise of Rove and Bush and has traveled extensively on every presidential campaign since 1976.

This author was placed on the no fly list.

Two points: there's nothing you or I can do to help him but make this public, and two- we are all targets here. This should make you scared and pissed at the same time. If it doesn't, check your pulse.

James Moore:

"I made it a point to arrive very early at the airport. My reservation was confirmed before I left home. I went to the electronic kiosk and punched in my confirmation number to print out my boarding pass and luggage tags. Another error message appeared, "Please see agent."

I did. She took my Texas driver's license and punched in the relevant information to her computer system.

"I'm sorry, sir," she said. "There seems to be a problem. You've been placed on the No Fly Watch List."

"Excuse me?"

"I'm afraid there isn't much more that I can tell you," she explained. "It's just the list that's maintained by TSA to check for people who might have terrorist connections."

"You're serious?"

"I'm afraid so, sir. Here's an 800 number in Washington. You need to call them before I can clear you for the flight."

Exasperated, I dialed the number from my cell, determined to clear up what I was sure was a clerical error. The woman who answered offered me no more information than the ticket agent.

"Ma'am, I'd like to know how I got on the No Fly Watch List."

"I'm not really authorized to tell you that, sir," she explained after taking down my social security and Texas driver's license numbers.

"What can you tell me?"

"All I can tell you is that there is something in your background that in some way is similar to someone they are looking for."

"Well, let me get this straight then," I said. "Our government is looking for a guy who may have a mundane Anglo name, who pays tens of thousands of dollars every year in taxes, has never been arrested or even late on a credit card payment, is more uninteresting than a Tupperware party, and cries after the first two notes of the national anthem? We need to find this guy. He sounds dangerous to me."

"I'm sorry, sir, I've already told you everything I can."

"Oh, wait," I said. "One last thing: this guy they are looking for? Did he write books critical of the Bush administration, too?"

I have been on the No Fly Watch List for a year. I will never be told the official reason. No one ever is. You cannot sue to get the information. Nothing I have done has moved me any closer to getting off the list. There were 35,000 Americans in that database last year. According to a European government that screens hundreds of thousands of American travelers every year, the list they have been given to work from has since grown to 80,000.


The Mediacracy


PR WATCH - "The Associated Press has terminated its relationship with a freelance reporter in Haiti after learning she was working for a U.S. government-sponsored organization," the National Endowment for Democracy. In October 2005, reporter Regine Alexandre began working for NED as a "part-time facilitator" between the U.S. organization and Haitian non-governmental organizations. After another journalist questioned the relationship, Alexandre "denied she was an employee." However, NED confirmed her employment, saying "it was unaware when it hired Alexandre that she worked for the AP or any other media organization." Alexandre has also reported for the New York Times and National Public Radio, though it's unclear whether she contributed to either while working for NED.


A Moment To Reflect On Capitalist Oppression

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Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Somewhere, In An Undisclosed Location...

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ACLU - According to the NY Times, Bush signed a presidential order in 2002 allowing the National Security Agency to monitor without a warrant the international (and sometimes domestic) telephone calls and e-mail messages of hundreds or thousands of citizens and legal residents inside the United States. The program eventually came to include some purely internal controls - but no requirement that warrants be obtained from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court as the 4th Amendment to the Constitution and the foreign intelligence surveillance laws require.

In other words, no independent review or judicial oversight.

That kind of surveillance is illegal. Period.

The law governing government eavesdropping on American citizens is well-established and crystal clear. President Bush's claim that he is not bound by that law is simply astounding. It is a Presidential power grab that poses a challenge in the deepest sense to the integrity of the American system of government - the separation of powers between the legislative and executive branches, the concept of checks and balances on executive power, the notion that the president is subject to the law like everyone else, and the general respect for the "rule of law" on which our democratic system depends:

- Electronic surveillance by the government is strictly limited by the Constitution and federal Law

- There are only three laws that authorize any exceptions to the ban on electronic eavesdropping by the government. Congress has explicitly stated that these three laws are the exclusive means by which domestic electronic surveillance can be carried out.

- Congress's post-9/11 use-of-force resolution does not legitimize the Bush-NSA spying. That resolution contains no language changing, overriding or repealing any laws passed by Congress. Congress does not repeal legislation through hints and innuendos, and the authorization to Use Military Force does not authorize the president to violate the law against surveillance without a warrant any more than it authorizes him to carry out an armed robbery or seize control of Citibank in order to pay for operations against terrorists.

- The need for quick action does not justify an end-run around the courts The FISA law takes account of the need for emergency surveillance, and the need for quick action cannot be used as a rationale for going outside the law. FISA allows wiretapping without a court order in an emergency; the court must simply be notified within 72 hours. The government is aware of this emergency power and has used it repeatedly



We have just completed another year during which the vast majority of the media and our politicians have refused even to discuss the remedy to our fear of attack that is the cheapest, most effective, the least deadly, and least likely to ruin our constitution, democracy and national sanity - namely a positive change in our foreign policy. In fact, it is only remedy that is likely to work.

The course currently supported by our politicians and media is not only ineffective, it encourages the very terror it professes to oppose by enlarging and intensifying the constituency of those who despise our country
--Sam Smith

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Opposition Delays Free Trade Implementation

By Brendon Coyne, NewStandard

Stubborn opposition to provisions of the Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA) will keep the pact from going into effect on the first of the year as planned by the Bush administration. The delay has enlivened efforts to undo the deal by groups who fear the pact could have a crippling effect on workers, small farmers and the economies of the nations involved.

As part of the proposed pact, which the US House of Representatives approved by only two votes this summer, the US requires the participating nations to enact reforms that appear to favor corporations over individuals. Opponents of CAFTA warn it could lead to greater economic disparity, reduced worker rights, and fewer public services in participating countries. They also fear it could devastate the already-precarious situation of small farmers throughout the Western hemisphere.

Many of the six smaller states – the Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Honduras and Costa Rica – have failed to come into full compliance with CAFTA's requirements on the treatment of foreign companies, customs laws, telecommunications services, public-health services and other matters. In addition, Costa Rica has yet to approve the deal.

News of CAFTA's troubles has sparked renewed hope among opponents that the deal could be significantly altered or ultimately fall apart. In a statement yesterday, the Committee in Solidarity with the People of El Salvador (CISPES), a US-based grassroots group that opposes free trade, joined with the Quixote Center, a nondenominational humanitarian organization, in heralding the delay in CAFTA's launch.

"From day one the Bush administration has been trying to ram CAFTA down people's throats, with little substantive debate and despite voices of tremendous opposition," CISPES member Burke Stanbury said. "In Costa Rica they have failed, and in other countries it took repression and dirty tactics to ratify CAFTA. But just as Central American social movements continue to resist the imposition of this devastating agreement, we too are not giving up."

Tuesday, the Dominican Republic announced that it would hold off on entering into the trade pact until July.

Other potential CAFTA trade-partner states are facing similar situations, with El Salvador, the nation closest to compliance, recently stating that it will not be ready to join CAFTA until February at the earliest, the CISPES-Quixote Center statement noted.

"The problems associated with implementing CAFTA demonstrate what we've been saying all along: this agreement goes beyond trade in requiring dramatic changes in domestic laws that grant new rights to transnational corporations at the expense of working people," the Quixote Center's Tom Ricker said. "The fact that legislatures throughout Central America and in the Dominican Republic are now struggling to change laws governing intellectual property, services, and investment – in order to receive US certification for joining CAFTA – makes clear the undemocratic nature of this agreement."

Domestic opposition to CAFTA in the United States is varied, with labor and public-interest groups taking the lead in working against the measure and some economic analysts predicting that it could be especially disastrous for small farmers.

In light of the news of CAFTA's delay, a broad coalition of domestic and international groups is mobilizing to undo the trade deal once and for all. In statements and notices posted to its website, the Stop CAFTA Coalition calls for demonstrations against the pact throughout January and provides links and information for interested parties. Planned activities include pickets, petition signings, teach-ins and workshops.

Business and trade groups overwhelmingly support CAFTA. The American Farm Bureau Federation expects CAFTA will bring in about $1.5 billion a year in export sales. In a recent update, the National Association of Manufacturers said the pact will "level the playing field for manufacturers, boost exports and create jobs."

But in interviews with The NewStandard, CAFTA's critics in the US say that large agribusinesses stand to benefit from the deal at the expense of smaller producers. They have also questioned optimistic export predictions, noting that economies of Central America and the Dominican Republic are simply too small to consume such a significant amount of US exports.

In a statement earlier this month, the US Trade Representative spokesperson Christin Baker said the office would make an official announcement of CAFTA's status on January 1 and is ready to put the agreement into effect with nations on a "rolling basis" as they implement required reforms.

"We will move forward as long as at least one country is prepared, and will accommodate new entrants as they become ready," Baker said. "We want to reward countries as they become ready and look forward to continued progress with the others. Countries can continue to enjoy existing preferences while they work with the United States to come on board."