Monday, July 25, 2005

Darwin Awards 2005

Yes, it's that magical time of the year again when the
Darwin Awards are bestowed, honoring the least evolved among
us. Here then, are the glorious winners.

Darwin Award Winners:

1. When his 38-caliber revolver failed to fire at his
intended victim during a hold-up in Long Beach, California,
would-be robber James Elliot did something that can only
inspire wonder. He peered down the barrel and tried the
trigger again. This time it worked..... And now, the
honorable mentions:

2. The chef at a hotel in Switzerland lost a finger in a
meat cutting machine and, after a little hopping around,
submitted a claim to his insurance company. The company
expecting negligence, sent out one of its men to have a look
for himself. He tried the machine and lost a finger. The
chef's claim was approved.

3. A man who shoveled snow for an hour to clear a space for
his car during a blizzard in Chicago returned with his
Vehicle to find a woman had taken the space. Understandably,
he shot her.

4. After stopping for drinks at an illegal bar, a Zimbabwean
bus driver found that the 20 mental patients he was supposed
to be transporting from Harare to Bulawayo had escaped. Not
wanting to admit his incompetence, the driver went to a
nearby bus stop and offered everyone waiting there a free
ride. He then delivered the passengers to the mental
hospital, telling the staff that the patients were very
excitable and prone to bizarre fantasies. The deception
wasn't discovered for 3 days.

5. An American teenager was in the hospital recovering from
serious head wounds received from an oncoming train. When
asked how he received the injuries, the lad told police that
he was simply trying to see how close he could get his head
to a moving train before he was hit.

6. A man walked into a Louisiana Circle-K, put a $20 bill on
the counter, and asked for change. When the clerk opened the
cash drawer, the man pulled a gun and asked for all the cash
in the register, which the clerk promptly provided. The man
took the cash from the clerk and fled, leaving the $20 bill
on the counter. The total amount of cash he got from the
drawer...$15. (If someone points a gun at you and gives you
money, is a crime committed?)

7. Seems an Arkansas guy wanted some beer pretty badly. He
decided that he'd just throw a cinder block through a liquor
store window, grab some booze, and run. So he lifted the
cinder block and heaved it over his head at the window. The
cinder block bounced back and hit the would-be thief on the
head, knocking him unconscious. The liquor store window was
made of Plexiglas. The whole event was caught on videotape.

8. As a female shopper exited a New York convenience store,
a man grabbed her purse and ran. The clerk called 911
immediately, and the woman was able to give them a detailed
description of the snatcher. Within minutes, the police
apprehended the snatcher. They put him in the car and drove
back to the store. The thief was then taken out of the car
and told to stand there for a positive ID. To which he
replied, "Yes, officer, that's her. That's the lady I stole
the purse from."

9. The Ann Arbor News crime column reported that a man
walked into a Burger King in Ypsilanti, Michigan, at 5 a.m.,
flashed a gun,demanded cash. The clerk turned him down
because he said he couldn't open the cash register without a
food order. When the man ordered onion rings, the clerk said
they weren't available for breakfast . The man, frustrated,
walked away.

10. When a man attempted to siphon gasoline from a motor
home parked on a Seattle street, he got much more than he
bargained for. Police arrived at the scene to find a very
sick man curled up next to a motor home near spilled sewage.
A police spokesman said that the man admitted to trying to
steal gasoline and plugged his siphon hose into the motor
home's sewage tank by mistake. The owner of the vehicle
declined to press charges, saying that it was the best laugh
he'd ever had.

In the interest of bettering human kind please share these
with your friends and family ... unless of course one of
these 10 individuals by chance is a distant relative or long
lost friend. In that case be glad they are distant and hope
they remain lost.

Friday, July 22, 2005

It's Not Time Now lyrics

I´d like to tell you that it´s fine
But it´s not time now
I can´t seem to get a word and advice anyhow
Though the words are flyin´ fast it just don´t mean a thing
In a little while I could tell you everything

But we´ve taken sights in anger and we can´t back down
Now we´re fightin´just to bring the other down
And if you think to stop it now
Then the next time we´ll know how

I´d like to break it to you gently were we go wrong
If the rock begins a-rollin´we just tag along
If at first we pick the loved things that we both lack
Then before we think to stop we´re into hurtin´back

Then an avanlanche of answers must be found too fast
Hasty may just when we should build the last
Love what we lack like what we share
Correction comes with time to spare.

-(c 1965) John Sebastian/Zal Yanovsky (Lovin' Spoonful)

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Stop the Renewal of the (so-called) USA PATRIOT Act

The two weeks remaining before Congress's August recess may be our last chance to stop some of the more troubling Patriot Act provisions from becoming permanent. Floor debate on H.R. 3199 may begin this Thursday in the House, followed by a full House vote. The Senate Judiciary Committe may mark up its bill S. 1389> this Thursday, July 21, with a Senate floor vote soon afterward.

Don't let Congress ignore the nonpartisan will of nearly four hundred local communities and seven states that have passed resolutions critical of the PATRIOT Act. Contact your Representative and your Senators today (telephone calls are best!) and tell them to vote against PATRIOT Act renewal and for real reform of the Act.

Thank you to everyone who contacted their House member regarding the House Judiciary and House Intelligence Committees mark-ups of H.R. 3199, USA PATRIOT and Terrorism Prevention Reauthorization Act of 2005. The committees accepted some minor amendments, including adding new sunsets to a few sections, but more changes are needed. Furthermore, a Senate Intelligence Committee proposal to grant the FBI the power to issue "administrative subpoenas" would render any amendments to Section 215 moot.

Contact Information for Your Representative and Senators

Find phone numbers for your Representative and Senators. If one of your Senators is on the Senate Judiciary Comittee (see list at end of this message), make a special effort to call him or her.

To also send an email, go HERE, but do not rely on this method of contact alone, because staff may not read your message in time for the vote.

Suggested Talking Points

Since Congress enacted the PATRIOT Act in 2001, it has not ensured that the new powers are needed or provided sufficient oversight over their use or misuse. Two groups have suffered unfairly from the PATRIOT Act's substantially lowered standards for targets of surveillance: (1) people of Arab, Muslim, and South Asian descent; and (2) people who disagree with government policies. We now know that the FBI has invested valuable counterterrorism resources gathering information on the constitutionally protected free speech activities of the latter group.

I urge (Representative ______, Senator ________) to heed the nearly 400 communities and seven states (NOTE: Mention resolutions in the legislator's district.) that have passed resolutions calling on Congress to bring the Patriot Act in line with the Constitution by:

restoring personal privacy and due process and respect for the rule of law;
respecting First Amendment rights and the balance of power between branches of government;
limiting the definition of "terrorism" to violent crimes perpetrated on human civilian targets for political gain;
prohibiting all authorized prisoner abuse; and
decreasing government secrecy.
Contact Information for Senate Judiciary Committee

If one of your Senators is listed below, please make a special effort to make a call or send a fax today.

ALABAMA: Jeff Sessions, Phone: (202) 224-4124, Fax: (202) 224-3149
ARIZONA: Jon Kyl, Phone: (202) 224-4521, Fax: (202) 224-2207
CALIFORNIA: Dianne Feinstein, Phone: (202) 224-3841, Fax: (202) 228-3954
DELAWARE: Joseph R. Biden, Jr., Phone: (202) 224-5042, Fax: (202) 224-0139
ILLINOIS: Richard J. Durbin, Phone: (202) 224-2152, Fax: (202) 228-0400
IOWA: Charles E. Grassley, Phone: (202) 224-3744, Fax: (202) 224-6020
KANSAS: Sam Brownback, Phone: (202) 224-6521, Fax: (202) 228-1265
MASSACHUSETTS: Edward M. Kennedy, Phone: (202) 224-4543, Fax: (202) 224-2417
NEW YORK: Charles E. Schumer, Phone: (202) 224-6542, Fax: (202) 228-3027
OHIO: Mike DeWine, Phone: (202) 224-2315, Fax: (202) 224-6519
OKLAHOMA: Tom Coburn, Phone: (202) 224 - 5754, Fax: (202) 224-6008
PENNSYLVANIA: Arlen Specter (Chairman), Phone: (202) 224-4254, Fax: (202) 228-1229
SOUTH CAROLINA: Lindsey Graham, Phone: (202) 224-5972, Fax: (202) 224-3808
TEXAS: John Cornyn, Phone: (202) 224-2934, Fax: (202) 228-2856
UTAH: Orrin G. Hatch, Phone: (202) 224-5251, Fax: (202) 224-6331
VERMONT: Patrick J. Leahy (Ranking Democratic Member), Phone: (202) 224-4242, E-mail:
Herbert Kohl, Phone: (202) 224-5653, Fax: (202) 224-9787
Russell D. Feingold, Phone: (202) 224-5323, Fax: (202) 224-2725

Bill of Rights Defense Committee
Phone: 413-582-0110
Fax: 413-582-0116

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Gray Area

The world of music publishing and licensing is profoundly arcane, complex and frustrating. Before you doze off or decide to turn the page, you should know that music publishing and licensing control how a song gets from a composer’s brain into yours, and how a recording travels from the studio into your iPod. So it’s not unimportant stuff. And the rules are about to change.

An explanation of the raw basics of publishing and licensing would fill at least 10 Metrolands. And once you read the whole thing, you’d be more confused than informed. Songs are treated differently than the recordings of songs. For recordings of songs, there are different rules for digital and nondigital transmissions, and different rules for recordings by themselves versus sticking them in a movie, and more and different rules for making a copy of a recording versus broadcasting the recording on the radio.

Things got this weird because the laws were developed iteratively over time, as perceived needs arose, so what we’ve got today is a dysfunctional patchwork quilt of quick fixes designed to solve yesterday’s problems. The major law that controls how songs can be used was created in 1909 to break up player-piano roll-maker monopolies. Really! More laws were inserted over the years as new technologies came along that scared Big Media. Back in the day when the government cared about such things, antitrust laws were used to control the behemoth royalty collectives ASCAP and BMI, resulting in negotiated settlement agreements that contained more and complex quasi-laws. And since nobody was quite sure how these rules should apply to the Internet, a whole raft of new laws were developed in the mid-’90s that complicated things even further.

Amazingly, this big mess works—sort of. Music does find its way into movies and into your iPod, and folks do generally pay and get paid. But it is insanely complicated, irrational, and often counterproductive.

Congress is starting to look into how to fix the problem, how to streamline and simplify the rules. It will be a long process, and lots of decisions are going to have to be made, and the status quo is going to change drastically, for the better or for the worse. The result will dictate how music is made, performed, and sold in the future. We’re talking about all the marbles.

Mary Beth Peters, head of the U.S. Copyright Office, got the ball rolling a couple of weeks ago, with a statement to a House subcommittee. While she clearly identified the problem and listed a broad range of possible solutions, her main thrust was scary. Her preferred solution was to allow music publishing and licensing to be governed by “market forces.” This, of course, is consistent with the general trend over the past 15 years or so to deregulate everything, to get the government out of the commercial sphere. The market will provide!

Yes it will. The market has already provided us with Enron and WorldCom. Thank you, market. What’s next?

The problem with Peters’ preferred approach is that the market won’t provide, because there is no market! What we are talking about here is how copyrights are governed, and copyrights are nothing more than little government-created monopolies. And as anybody who’s taken Econ 101 will tell you, monopolies are great for the monopolist, and everybody else gets screwed.

Broadly speaking, if the government is going to create monopolies, it also has to take responsibility for controlling them, or we all get hurt. And Peters wants the government to walk away from that responsibility.

It’s like this: Right now, if you want to release your own version of a popular song, you can. That old player-piano law provides that the songwriter has to give you a license to release the song, so long as you agree to pay a statutorily set royalty to the songwriter. Peters wants to abolish this, so that if you want to release your version of a song, you will have to seek the permission of the songwriter, and even if the songwriter agrees to let you do it, the songwriter can charge you whatever he wants to charge you. In other words, the songwriter can exert his monopoly power over you. That’s the “market” providing for you.

There is no current parallel for sampling recordings. If you want to grab a little hunk of, say, a James Brown record to stick into your song, you have to go ask permission of James Brown’s recording company and James Brown’s publisher. And they can just say no to your request, and if they say yes they can charge you whatever they want. And, in my experience, unless you can guarantee them sales of 50,000 copies of your recording, they’re likely to say no.

There’s a disconnect between this current system and the real world. Last year, the DJ Danger Mouse created a brilliant album by mixing the vocals from Jay-Z’s Black Album and the instrumentals from The Beatles (aka the White Album). He called it The Gray Album. He couldn’t release his masterpiece commercially because he couldn’t get permission to use the Beatles’ instrumentals, even though he was willing to pay them for the privilege.

This isn’t the triumph of the market, it’s market failure. And the cost is borne out in the suppression of new creative works, like The Gray Album.

Congress is either going to fix this or make it worse, and it’s playing out right now. Watch this space!

—Paul Rapp
printed in Metroland 7-14-2005

Spartan Over (John Rodat)

Spartan Over

Do the robes of Buddhist monks have pockets?

I recently read this rhetorical question online: It was a piece primarily about technology addiction and the way in which people now compulsively saddlebag themselves with gear before venturing out into the world: Cell phone? Check. PDA? Check. MP3 Player? Uh-huh. Retractable Ethernet cable? Yep. USB flash drive? Yeah, yeah, yeah. Game Boy? Christ, my back . . .

Though the question was directed mostly at information-industry workers in order to get them to more accurately chart their daily tech usage and needs, to streamline and focus, and perhaps restore some personal perspective and balance, it hit me in a more generalized way. On the same day that I read the question, I was also looking forward to beginning (read: dreading) the process of packing up all my earthly possessions (read: piles and piles of inexplicable and seemingly functionless crap) in preparation for yet another move.

“No! No! The robes of Buddhist monks do not have pockets!” I answered hours later. What’s a monk got? A bowl and a spoon, maybe. A Blackberry? A tablet PC? Not bloody likely, right? (I don’t know, they keep the crockery and cutlery in a Manhattan Portage messenger bag, or something.) Eat when you’re hungry, then wash your bowl, and so become the Buddha. Nothing there about checking your e-mail or moblogging your phonecam shots of street-art mandalas to your Web site.

And nothing at all about six boxes of CDs, 14 boxes of books, or seven million file folders full of unread must-read articles clipped from magazines or printed from the Internet; nor anything at all about the notebook pages, index cards, paper placemats and cocktail napkins full of brilliant, absolutely brilliant—though rough—ideas for hit Broadway musicals, killer sketch- comedy bits, devastatingly satirical films, funny yet humane Big Novels, innovative puppet shows (these will reinvent the form, I assure you) or multi-album concept records (Roger Waters lacked ambition).

And nothing about this thing here. This . . . what is this? Sorta looks like an egg whisk. Have I ever whisked an egg? What about this doodad? Is this a spaghetti spoon? No, look, the hole’s too wide, the noodles would slide right through. Is it something for painting? Oh, no, no, it’s for reflexology, somehow. Or, no, it’s a . . . what the hell is it? And why have I packed and moved it three freakin’ times?

I’ve got too many and too-deep pockets.

This is not even taking into account the staggering volume of stuff that accumulates in the course of a three-year-old’s life: the game preserve of stuffed animals, the vocational-center’s worth of educational toys and developmental aids, the heaps and mounds and closets-full of cute gender-loaded clothing given as gifts. (Yeah, thanks, everyone: It’s bad enough that I’ve got to fret about getting my daughter into and through college someday, now she wants to be a princess.)

But, of course, my daughter is far more centered about this stuff than I. Her (genetically attributable) aspirations toward royalty notwithstanding, she’s willing to travel pretty light; and she’s got no qualms about trashing things that no longer maintain her interest. So, I can’t hold her responsible.

No, it’s me. I’m the one who holds and hoards—superstitiously, as if somewhere in the pile I’ve unknowingly stashed the answer, some talisman, the power of which will reveal itself when—but only when—I am ready.

Among all the binder clips, the vacuum-sealing bottle stops, the 15 varieties of favorite pen, the no-thought cookbooks, the colored Post-Its, the PVC trivets, the project binders, the numbered manila folders, the universal remotes, the stacking trays, the California Closet-style “shoe solution,” somewhere in there is the tool that organizes, simplifies, streamlines everything. Somewhere in there is the item around which an orderly and successful lifestyle coheres.

Among the CDs and the articles and the books, among all the ideas—those of others and those that I’ve scribbled myself and stashed—might just be the one that makes it click. It, whatever it is. The eureka moment. The “people will buy paintings of soup cans” moment. The “I’ll make the hero an 11-year-old sorcerer” moment.

Admittedly, it’s a lot to expect of a whisk. (At least I’m pretty sure it’s a whisk.)

But the option is to live with little—to disdain quick and convenient fixes and rely on personal creativity to provide the necessities. It requires a clear-headedness and a self-reliance that I often lack when the trickster/huckster (in any one of his multifarious guises, from the self-help guru to the late-night infomercial pitchman to the efficiency expert to the futurist cybervisionary) promises exactly, exactly, what, I guess, I need, it seems. There’s one born every minute, they say.

So, I stuff my pockets—and my bookshelves and filing cabinets and dresser drawers and kitchen cabinets and media-storage bins, thinking this collage will make sense soon. Like a Magic Eye picture, it’ll take shape when I get the proper distance.

And that’s the trick: Obtaining that distance requires a lot more mobility than those overstuffed pockets will easily allow. So, ballast must be cut and tough decisions made. This time through, I’m trying to be rigorous and thorough, I’m trying to keep just the essentials: The faddish clothing, that goes first; then, the most recent bumper crop of thinly veiled and shallow roman a clefs set in the media or publishing businesses; next, the unsolicited schwag CDs that I’ve compulsively magpie’d over the years and yet left still shrink-wrapped; and just how many travel mugs does a guy need?

And this thing, with this—whaddya call ’em, like, spokes, or whatever, and this aerial kinda thing—I don’t need this thing, do I?

Do I?

—John Rodat

Metroland 7-14-2005

Why Is Turd Blossom In Trouble?

So why is Karl Rove in trouble? Can anybody make sense out of the "news?"

The corporate media is pulling one of their favorite tricks: deliberate obfuscation. The Associated Press, NY Times, NPR, Fox News, etc. are leaving out essential facts about the situation. Instead, we get the usual vague insinuations that "The Democrats" are causing trouble, and little else. It all seems so confusing, doesn't it?

Actually, it's really very simple. Remember 9-11? Karl "Turd Blossom" Rove personally revealed to a prominent corporate media propagandist, Robert Novak, the identity of the CIA operative who was in charge of gathering information about the terrorists who caused 9-11. Because of what Rove did, the information gathering network was destroyed. In addition, the lives of the agents were needlessly endangered, probably for the rest of their lives.

I call Rove a fat femme, George W. Bush calls him Turd Blossom. Really, no kidding. He does. But probably the best word to describe that smirking sociopath is TRAITOR.

Why did he do it? The outed CIA agent, Valerie Plame, is married to career ambassador Joseph Wilson. Mr. Wilson was sent to the West African country of Niger by the White House to confirm a story that Sadaam Hussein tried to purchase plans for a nuclear bomb. (In Niger. A third world desert country. Really.) This was very important because this was one of the main reasons why the White House justified the War Against Iraq. Remember Colin Powell in front of the U.N.?

Well, Mr. Wilson found out that the atomic bomb plans in Niger were nothing more than an amateur hoax. Being essentially patriotic, he duly reported the truth.

For the neocon/neolibs in the White House, the truth is politically inconvenient. Turd Blossom and his bosses have shown time and time again that the White House wants compliance, not truth, not patriotism. Joe Wilson had to be punished for not lying about the atomic bomb plans. So Rove, and possibly his employers, punished Wilson by punishing his wife. Rove committed treason, endangering not only Valerie Plame, but every American.

Now, get this: THE STORY HAS BEEN AROUND FOR SEVERAL YEARS. The corporate media has been covering up the White House connection, until last week. Why the sudden change?

New evidence connects Turd Blossom directly to this act of treason, and possibly Shrub. (Can you say, "impeachment?") But the story has been kept alive, investigated, and built over the internet, on respectable journalistic sites such as truthout, Tom Paine, Daily Kos, and of course, buzzflash, and many others. And, once again, the corporate media has been reluctantly dragged along by their betters on the internet. The new evidence would have died without a trace if there had not been a large number of outraged Americans who continue to demand justice, who refuse to forget the truth.

So far, the White House has been refusing to comment "during the ongoing investigation." Shrub himself used this phrase yesterday. Horsecrap. The only "ongoing investigation" has been in public, on the internet.

Here is a rare corporate media article from October, 2003. It explains the problem better than 2005 articles, but note how the Washington Post tries to link the outing to campaign contributions, the implication being that the act of treason was nothing more than political sour grapes.

Oh, yes. Look at who was in charge of digging up dirt on Plame and Wilson, our current sniveling Attorney General, Alberto "Torturer" Gonzales!

One more thing. Turd Blossom committed treason, resigning his job is not good enough. He should be executed for his crime. So should anyone else in the White House who was involved (after a fair trial, of course.) Link at the end.

Daniel W. Van Riper (who has promised to get his own damn blog very soon)

Leak of Agent's Name Causes Exposure of CIA Front Firm
By Walter Pincus and Mike Allen
Washington Post Staff Writers
Saturday, October 4, 2003; Page A03

The leak of a CIA operative's name has also exposed the identity of a CIA front company, potentially expanding the damage caused by the original disclosure, Bush administration officials said yesterday.

The company's identity, Brewster-Jennings & Associates, became public because it appeared in Federal Election Commission records on a form filled out in 1999 by Valerie Plame, the case officer at the center of the controversy, when she contributed $1,000 to Al Gore's presidential primary campaign.

After the name of the company was broadcast yesterday, administration officials confirmed that it was a CIA front. They said the obscure and possibly defunct firm was listed as Plame's employer on her W-2 tax forms in 1999 when she was working undercover for the CIA. Plame's name was first published July 14 in a newspaper column by Robert D. Novak that quoted two senior administration officials. They were critical of her husband, former ambassador Joseph C. Wilson IV, for his handling of a CIA mission that undercut President Bush's claim that Iraq had sought uranium from the African nation of Niger for possible use in developing nuclear weapons.

The Justice Department began a formal criminal investigation of the leak Sept. 26.

The inadvertent disclosure of the name of a business affiliated with the CIA underscores the potential damage to the agency and its operatives caused by the leak of Plame's identity. Intelligence officials have said that once Plame's job as an undercover operative was revealed, other agency secrets could be unraveled and her sources might be compromised or endangered.

A former diplomat who spoke on condition of anonymity said yesterday that every foreign intelligence service would run Plame's name through its databases within hours of its publication to determine if she had visited their country and to reconstruct her activities.

"That's why the agency is so sensitive about just publishing her name," the former diplomat said.

FEC rules require donors to list their employment. Plame used her married name, Valerie E. Wilson, and listed her employment as an "analyst" with Brewster-Jennings & Associates. The document establishes that Plame has worked undercover within the past five years. The time frame is one of the standards used in making determinations about whether a disclosure is a criminal violation of the Intelligence Identities Protection Act.

It could not be learned yesterday whether other CIA operatives were associated with Brewster-Jennings.

Also yesterday, the nearly 2,000 employees of the White House were given a Tuesday deadline to scour their files and computers for any records related to Wilson or contacts with journalists about Wilson. The broad order, in an e-mail from White House counsel Alberto R. Gonzales, directed them to retain records "that relate in any way to former U.S. Ambassador Joseph C. Wilson, his trip to Niger in February 2002, or his wife's purported relationship with the Central Intelligence Agency."

White House employees received the e-mailed directive at 12:45 p.m., with an all-capitalized subject line saying, "Important Follow-Up Message From Counsel's Office." By 5 p.m. on Tuesday, employees must turn over copies of relevant electronic records, telephone records, message slips, phone logs, computer records, memos, and diaries and calendar entries.

The directive notes that lawyers in the counsel's office are attorneys for the president in his official capacity and that they cannot provide personal legal advice to employees.

For some officials, the task is a massive one. Some White House officials said they had numerous conversations with Wilson that had nothing to do with his wife, so the directive is seen as a heavy burden at a time when many of the president's aides already feel beleaguered.

Officials at the Pentagon and State Department also have been asked to retain records related to the case. Secretary of State Colin L. Powell said yesterday: "We are doing our searches. . . . I'm not sure what they will be looking for or what they wish to contact us about, but we are anxious to be of all assistance to the inquiry."

In another development, FBI agents yesterday began attempts to interview journalists who may have had conversations with government sources about Plame and Wilson. It was not clear how many journalists had been contacted. The FBI has interviewed Plame, ABC News reported.

Wilson and his wife have hired Washington lawyer Christopher Wolf to represent them in the matter.

The couple has directed him to take a preliminary look at claims they might be able to make against people they believe have impugned their character, a source said.

The name of the CIA front company was broadcast yesterday by Novak, the syndicated journalist who originally identified Plame. Novak, highlighting Wilson's ties to Democrats, said on CNN that Wilson's "wife, the CIA employee, gave $1,000 to Gore and she listed herself as an employee of Brewster-Jennings & Associates."

"There is no such firm, I'm convinced," he continued. "CIA people are not supposed to list themselves with fictitious firms if they're under a deep cover -- they're supposed to be real firms, or so I'm told. Sort of adds to the little mystery."

In fact, it appears the firm did exist, at least on paper. The Dun & Bradstreet database of company names lists a firm that is called both Brewster Jennings & Associates and Jennings Brewster & Associates.

The phone number in the listing is not in service, and the property manager at the address listed said there is no such company at the property, although records from 2000 were not available.

Wilson was originally listed as having given $2,000 to Gore during the primary campaign in 1999, but the donation, over the legal limit of $1,000, was "reattributed" so that Wilson and Plame each gave $1,000 to Gore. Wilson also gave $1,000 to the Bush primary campaign, but there is no donation listed from his wife.

Staff writers Dana Milbank, Susan Schmidt and Dana Priest, political researcher Brian Faler and researcher Lucy Shackelford contributed to this report.¬Found=true

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

"Murder, Warfare, and Genocide"

"Murder, Warfare, and Genocide"
by Rev. Stephen C. Butler
Genesis, Chapter 4
McKownville United Methodist Church
July 10, 2005

If we asked a random group of adults to name the Ten Commandments, the first one they would probably admit to knowing is #6, "You shall not kill,"
right? Adults might think of another one first, (the infamous #7, regarding adultery). With children and youth, "Do not steal" comes first to mind. But "do not kill" is usually the first one that adults will say they know. Why?
Because killing another person is universally forbidden in every culture.
Everybody knows it's wrong to commit murder. Genesis, which means "beginnings," is the first book in the Bible and it tells of the first
everything: the first day, the first night, the first creatures, the first people, the first sin, the first punishment, the first children, the first argument, the first murder, and so on. Today's reading tells of Adam and Eve's two sons: Cain and Abel. Cain was a farmer like his father. Abel was a shepherd. At harvest time, Cain offered God a sacrifice from his produce.
Abel offered a sacrifice from the best of his produce. God liked Abel's gift better, Cain got jealous, killed his brother and tired to get a way with it.
God was not fooled and banished Cain from the family, but allowed him to live and start a new tribe. The Bible says the first murder stared as a jealous squabble between two young men. Sounds a lot like what's been happening around here, lately, doesn't it? Some things never change. That's why the Bible never goes out of style. People are the same today as they were long ago.

Throughout the Bible, human history continues. After murder came warfare and with warfare came genocide. The Old Testament Book of Numbers (ch. 31) tells of Moses commanding the armies of Israel to completely destroy the nation of Moab because they'd started intermingling with them and
worshipping their gods. So, by God's command and on Moses' order, they
attacked Moab and killed all the adult men, all the adult women, all the boys, and spared only the young girls, whom they took with them, probably for slaves and future wives for their sons. This passage is so shocking to the modern mind that when an old and cynical Mark Twain featured it in his "Letters From the Earth" his daughter would not allow it to be published until many years after his death. Twain wrote, "According to the belief of these people, it was God himself who said, 'Thou shalt not kill.' Then it is plain that (God) cannot keep his own commandments. He killed those people, every male." (From: Letters From The Earth, (c)1938, p. 49-50) Does seem strange, doesn't it? But Twain did not understand that the commandment
means: "You shall not commit murder." And while I personally believe that all warfare is murder, still today most people believe that warfare is self-defense. And that debate continues especially today while we have a war going on.
But almost no one defends genocide unless they're doing it. They believe they have a good reason for trying to kill everyone of a certain class, religion, ethnic group, tribe or nation. And usually, their so-called justification has to do with a jealous argument, just like Cain and Abel, and everyone else who has ever gone to war. Someone is believed to have something, to be taking something, or to be threatening something that means a lot to someone else. Every war is not genocide, but genocide always begins with identification of a certain group of people as foreign, different, and a threat. After identification comes separation, then an intense period of blaming, justification and preparation for removing the others completely, then finally the attempt at annihilation which may or may not succeed. It's happened over and over again, and still continues today.

After Moses died, Joshua fought the Battle of Jericho and the armies of Israel killed everyone in that city except one family that helped them.
Later, Israel's prophet Elijah rounded up all the prophets and priests of the god Ba'al and had them all slaughtered in public. For 150 years in this country, it was our national policy to attack, conquer, oppress, remove, and sometimes just murder every Native American on the continent, as well as the animals they fed on, including the North American bison. That was almost another genocide. We're familiar with the Nazi Holocaust in Germany. Lately we've learned more about the concentration camps where our government imprisoned Japanese Americans during World War II. A lot of the same dynamics played out in those days: identification, blaming, justification, separation and removal. Protestants and Catholics in Ireland, Christians and Muslims in Lebanon, Bosnia, and Israel, Tutsis and Hutus in Rwanda, Arabs and Africans in Darfur and opposing armies of different ethnic groups in Europe, Korea, Viet Nam, Afghanistan and Iraq have all gone through the same process. Some wars have resulted in acts of genocide; some have not.
People come and go, but human nature remains the same. Remember Lieutenant William Calley, US commanding officer in the attack on My Lai hamlet in Viet Nam? He decided to clear those people out of there, and he did. No people, no culture, no nation is completely immune to this problem. Whenever two identifiable groups start fighting and the stress level gets high enough, sooner or later, someone says, "Let's get rid of them all." And sometimes they do.

So, what can we do? Luckily, we have a government "of the people, by the people, for the people" and whenever enough of "we the people" decide that things have to change, sooner or later they do. What difference can we make? Don't ever discount the power of one person to change the course of history. The Bible is filled with these examples, too. Remember young David, who killed the giant Goliath with a stone? Remember the child who brought Jesus his lunch and the Lord used it to feed 5000 people? We think we're just drops in bucket, or drops in a pond. But when enough drops get together, sometimes the dam breaks, just like it did last week at Hadlock Pond. Do you know the story of the 100th Monkey? An anthropologist was studying the monkeys on a tropical island. Most of them ate their food unwashed. But some washed their food in the water. As the population changed, more monkeys started washing their food before eating it. When the total of food-washing monkeys reached 100, within a day or two, all the monkeys on the island started washing their food. Maybe you might be the 100th monkey! Never think that what you do does not make a difference.
You probably know the name, Rosa Parks. She's the woman who refused to give up her seat on the bus in Montgomery Alabama in December 1955. The law stated that there had to be a vacant row between white people and people of color.
The city was crowded that day. Everyone had been Christmas Shopping. The bus filled up, the driver told Rosa to move, she refused, she was arrested, and Rev. Martin Luther King led the Montgomery Bus boycott that started the US Civil Rights Movement. What most people don't know is, Rosa was a Christian, an active church member, class leader, and secretary of her local chapter of the NAACP. She was not just a random cranky woman. She was bright, well-educated, highly-trained, dignified, knew she deserved to be treated better than the law commanded and she's still alive and active today 50 years later at age 92.
There are many evil things going on in the world today. One of them is genocide in Darfur. If you feel that God is calling you to pray, to act, to write, to call, to encourage others to do the same, by all means, please do so today. Prayer is not a passive thing. Prayer is an active force that strengthens us and always leads to other good things:
sometimes actions, sometimes changes, better attitudes, stronger faith, new life, or a better life in new ways. Please pray for peace in Darfur. And please do whatever else God leads you to do next.

"Love God, Follow Jesus and Pass it On!"

A Litany of Prayer for Peace In Darfur: by Catherine Stanford McKownville United Methodist Church: July 10, 2005 O Spirit of the Living God, Ground of All Hope

"We do not know how to pray as we ought, But the Spirit himself intercedes for us with Sighs too deep for words, with Groanings that cannot be uttered" (Romans 8:26)

O Spirit of the Living God, Help us to stop feeling that anything we do is Just a drop in the bucket!
I mean, really help us
Because we don't just feel that whatever we do is Just a drop in the bucket We feel like drops of rain in the Sahara desert that Evaporate even before we hit the sand! (Frances Moore Lappe and Jeffrey

Turn us around, O God!

Turn us around to see Darfur not as an "issue" but as our own suffering humanity, part of the gift of life you have given us that is in mortal danger.

Turn us around to see that Darfur is not an isolated "problem" in some far-off, God-forsaken place.

What is happening in Darfur comes from that dark place in the human heart. O Holy Spirit, this dark part of the human heart needs your light. O God, shine your light and drive out evil.

Turn us around, O God!

As Nehemiah (1:4-6) mourned over the destruction of Jerusalem, we are now weeping and mourning, praying before you, confessing our sins as people who have stood idly by as this evil unfolded.

400,000 people dead in Darfur are crying out for justice. We're not going to stand idly by any more, dear God, with your help.

With your help, dear God, we will raise our cries for an end to the killing in Darfur.

Turn us around, O God!

O God, you have told us to Choose Life (Deuteronomy 30:19): You have said:
"I call Heaven and Earth to witness against you today: I place before you Life and Death, Blessing and Curse. Choose life so that you and your children will live" (The Message).

O God, help us to pray without ceasing for life, without ceasing for an end to the violence in Darfur, without ceasing until restorative justice is healing the wounds.

Yes, O God, from the depths of our mourning, we will start praying on the solution.

O Holy Spirit, help us pray for a solution in Darfur. O Holy Spirit, help us get clear, crystal clear, on what we are praying for.

Turn us around, O God!

We're praying that our President will support international peacekeeping efforts abundantly to end the genocide. For Saint Paul said, Jesus came to give us life - and life abundantly. (Romans)

O Holy Spirit, we beech you, please bring an outpouring of international resources to end the killing in Darfur and give us courage to take action to stop the killing.

O Holy Spirit, intercede for us with groans too deep for words. Help us to fill up that empty bucket to overflowing with the grace of God for Darfur.

Turn us around, O God!

Help us to put on your armor, O God, "that we may stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against rulers of the darkness of the world, against spiritual wickedness in high places" (Ephesians 6:11-12).

O Spirit of the Living God, let our cup overflow with your goodness and mercy (Psalm 23) because, as we stand up to evil in Darfur, "the eyes of
(our) hearts" will be "enlightened" and we will catch a glimpse of the hope to which you are calling us (Ephesians 1:18).

Turn us around, O God!

So be it. Amen

Census Budget

This IS something I think is important:

Talking Points For Potential FY 2006 (or FY 2007) Budget Amendment on the Decennial Census

General Census Information

•The three things that we need to remember are these:
1.Every ten years, every congressional seat is reapportioned based on census data,
2.Every ten years, every congressional district is redistricted based on census data, and
3.Every single year, the Federal government allocates almost 300 billion dollars based on census data.
•300 billion dollars – that is more than the discretionary budget requests for the Departments of Agriculture, Commerce, Education, Energy, HHS, Homeland Security, HUD, Interior, Justice, Transportation and NASA … combined!
•An amendment to remove $ from the decennial census budget is an amendment to have the federal government allocated almost 300 billion dollars, while virtually blind.
•The one thing that we need to understand is that there is no program increase in FY 2006 for the decennial census. This amendment would drastically cut the core decennial census program.
oIf there is no program increase, why then is there a budget increase?
oThe nature of the census program and budget is not like most federal programs. It is cyclical. The program and budget must ramp up to the decennial census -- and then ramp back down again. That is the program.
oAn amendment to remove $ from the decennial census budget is a program cut. That program cut will directly impact the quality of the 2010 decennial census data – the data used to reapportion congressional seats, the data used for redistricting, and the data used to allocate 300 million federal dollars every year.
•Some of my colleagues might wonder how the amendment would cause us to allocated 300 billion dollars while virtually blind. This is a strong but accurate statement.
oHistorically, these dollars were allocated based on census long form data, which was updated once every ten years and released two years later.
oThe data aged quickly. As the years passed after the 1990 Census, for example, we knew less about where the money should go. But there was no new data, so we continued to allocate 300 billion a year to where it should have gone back in 1990.
oThe 300 billion is allocated through 172 federal programs to meet the needs of the American people. Allocating these funds to the wrong place devastates program performance from the start; it wastes billions of dollars, and it prevents us from efficiently and effectively meeting the needs of the American people.
There is, in fact, a hidden tax in misallocating funds because it costs less to be effective.

Importance of the American Community Survey
•By 2001, the year before new long form data from Census 2000 was released, we allocated the funds based on 1990 data—based on 11-year-old, arguably irrelevant data. We allocated 300 billion of American tax-payers’ dollars virtually blind.
oThe Congress, the Bush and Clinton Administrations, federal agencies and the Census Bureau have long recognized this problem of old data. The problem has been fixed with the fully implemented American Community Survey, which updates the necessary data annually and enables us to get the money to where it needs to go.
oThis amendment would kill the American Community Survey. It would terminate our ability to get the 300 billion to where it needs to go every year. And, we would once again allocate billions of our constituents’ tax dollars while virtually blind.

Long Term Consequences
•There are other consequences:
o1,000 federal jobs would be lost at the Census Bureau. The cut wastes the 644 million dollars already spent and add a billion dollars to the cost of the census in 2010.
oAlso, killing the American Community Survey means that the long form will be restored to the census where it will compete with and reduce the quality of the decennial short form.
What does that mean? It means that congressional reapportionment and congressional redistricting will be less accurate.


The fact that I'm posting this here doesn't mean I agree with it. In fact, I don't. Hope to comment on it soon.

Tell Us Your "Source," Judy

Not published in The New York Times
Tuesday, July 12, 2005

By Greg Palast

The only thing more evil, small-minded and treacherous than the Bush Administration's jailing Judith Miller for a crime the Bush Administration committed, is Judith Miller covering up her Bush Administration "source."

Judy, Karl Rove ain't no "source." A confidential source -- and I've worked with many -- is an insider ready to put himself on the line to blow the whistle on an official lie or hidden danger. I would protect a source's name with my life and fortune as would any journalist who's not a craven jerk (the Managing Editor of Time Magazine comes to mind).

But the weasel who whispered "Valerie Plame" in Miller's ear was no source. Whether it was Karl Rove or some other Rove-tron inside the Bush regime (and no one outside Bush's band would have had this information), this was an official using his official info to commit a crime for the sole purpose of punishing a REAL whistleblower, Joseph Wilson, Plame's husband, for questioning our President's mythological premise for war in Iraq.

New York Times reporter Miller and her paper would rather she go to prison for four months than identify their "source." Why?

Part of her oddball defense is that The Times never ran the story about Wilson's wife. They get no points for that. The Times SHOULD have run the story with the headline: BUSH OPERATIVE COMMITS FELONY TO PUNISH WHISTLEBLOWER. The lead paragraph should have been, "Today, Mr. K--- R--- [or other slime ball as appropriate] attempted to plant sensitive intelligence information on The New York Times, a felony offense, in an attempt to harm former Ambassador Joseph Wilson who challenged the President's claim regarding Iraq's nuclear program."

A Karl Rove or Rove-like creature peddling a back-door smear doesn't make him a source. Miller's real crime is not concealing a source, but burying the story. A reporter should never, ever give notes to a grand jury, but this information is something The Times owes the PUBLIC, not the prosecutors.

Why didn't The Times run this story? Why not now? Who are they covering for and why?

Maybe the problem for The Times is that this is the same "source" that used Miller to promote, as fact, her ersatz report before the invasion of Iraq that Saddam truly had nukes and bugs and chemicals he could launch at Los Angeles. That "source" too needs publication, Judy.

Every rule has an exception. My mama always told me to "compliment the chef" at dinner. But that doesn't apply when the chef pees in your soup. Likewise, there's an exception to the rule of source protection. When officialdom uses "you-can't-use-my- name" to cover a lie, the official is not a source, but a disinformation propagandist -- and Miller and The Times have been all too willing to play Izvestia to the Bush's Kremlinesque prevarications.

And that is what Miller is protecting: the evil called "access."

The great poison in the corpus of American journalism is the lust for tidbits of supposedly "inside" information which is more often than not inside misinformation parading as hot news.

And thus we have Miller sucking on the steaming sewage pipe of White House lies about Iraq and spitting it out in the pages of The Times as "investigative reporting," for which The Times has apologized. Likewise, we had the embarrassment of Bob Woodward's special access to the Oval Office after the September 11 attacks when Woodward reported the exclusive news that the President was a flawless commander in chief in the war on terror -- for which Woodward has yet to apologize.

While reporting from the Potemkin village of decision-making set up for him at the White House, Woodward missed the real story that, in the words of the Downing Street memo, our leaders were losing track of Osama while they spent their time "fixing the intelligence" on Iraq. Even if Woodward learned of it, would he have reported it at the risk of losing his access to evil?

As Karl Rove chuckles and Judy does time, we are left to ask, What are Miller and The New York Times doing: protecting the name of a source or covering up their conduit to the Bush gang's machinery of deception?

One can only be sympathetic to Miller for choosing jail over bending to the power of the State. But as T.S. Eliot said,

"The last temptation is the greatest treason,
To do the right deed for the wrong reason."

Greg Palast is the author of the New York Times bestseller, The Best Democracy Money Can Buy. Subscribe to his commentaries or view his investigative reports for BBC Television.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Where Was Jesus Born?

A lifelong un-churched man suddenly develops a vague religious urge and decides to join a church--any church. So he sets out to find one.

His first stop is a Roman Catholic church where he asks what he has to do to join. The priest mentions diligent study and the affirmation of the Nicene and Apostles' Creeds, then--just to see how much the man knows--asks him where Jesus was born. "Pittsburgh," he answers. "Get out!" cries the shocked priest. Next stop is a Southern Baptist church where the seeker is told he would have to learn Bible verses, swear belief in the Nicene and Apostles' creeds, swear off booze, and be baptized ("By immersion, not just some sissy sprinklin'"). The Baptist preacher then, to see how much this man knows, asks him where Jesus was born. "Philadelphia?" he asks tentatively (once bitten, twice shy). "Get out, you heathen!" yells the preacher.

Our perplexed protagonist finally walks into a Unitarian church where he is told all he has to do is sign a membership card. "You mean I don't have to renounce anything, swear to anything, or be dunked in anything?" "That's right. We have no special tests for membership, no dogma. We support total individual freedom of belief." "Then I'll join! But tell me--where was Jesus born?" "Why, Bethlehem, of course." The man's face lights up. "I knew it was some place in Pennsylvania!"

Alice Green runs for mayor

Activist takes aim at city's top job
Alice Green expected to announce her candidacy on Green Party line Monday

By BRIAN NEARING, Staff writer
First published: Saturday, July 9, 2005

ALBANY -- A longtime civil rights activist who ran for lieutenant governor in 1998 will launch a challenge against Mayor Jerry Jennings on the Green Party line this fall.

Alice Green, director of the Center for Law and Justice, is expected to announce her campaign on Monday, according to a news release issued Friday afternoon after the Times Union learned of her plans from another source.

Green declined comment Friday, saying she will issue a statement at the news conference, planned for 11 a.m. at her home at 509 W. Lawrence St. Also in the race for mayor are Archie Goodbee and Benzie Johnson, who have announced they will try to defeat the three-term incumbent in the Democratic primary. Green and Goodbee are black.

When Green ran for lieutenant governor, the Green Party garnered more than the minimum 50,000 votes needed to give the party official ballot status in New York.

Green, 65, heads the Center for Law and Justice, a nonprofit community organization that monitors criminal justice activities and provides legal assistance and criminal justice advocacy to poor people and people of color.

Prior to the creation of the center, she was legislative director for the New York Civil Liberties Union. In 1986, Gov. Mario Cuomo appointed her to the position of deputy commissioner for the New York State Division of Probation and Correctional Alternatives.

From 1975 through 1979, Green served as the executive director of Trinity Institution, a youth and family services center in Albany's South End neighborhood. During her time as director, she founded the South End Scene in 1977, one of the longest-running newspapers for the black community in Albany. The paper folded in the early 1990s.

She holds a bachelor's degree from the University at Albany, where she also earned two master's degrees, in education and social work, and a doctorate from the School of Criminal Justice.

Friday, July 08, 2005

Oil gone

I told my friend Dan that he needs a blog, He wrote the intro:

A little story has gotten buried in the last day or two. You see, in the last few months, certain experts have come forward with the alarming news that the Saudi Arabians have been greatly exaggerating the amount of oil that they have left in the ground, their "proven oil reserves." In reality, these experts say, the biggest oilfields are nearing depletion, and the smaller ones are smaller than is claimed.

"Nonsense," said the authorities, the lying idiots who have seized power in this country. To back up the authorities, the Associated Press and the rest of the corporate media put out a series of "news" articles explaining that Saudi oil production will continue to increase for several more decades. Most of you probably caught these stories. Very reassuring.

Well, um, uh. While everyone has been focusing on the terrible explosions in the London mass transit system, it seems that the Saudis have started to confirm the reports by the real experts. The Saudis are beginning to run out of oil.


U.S. foreign policy, such as it is, has been structured around protecting and reserving oil fields around the globe for Western corporations. American soldiers are dying in Iraq, partly to protect the biggest oilfields of all in Saudi Arabia. But, it turns out that there isn't all that much oil left to die for.

Let's consider the seriousness of no oil:

1) FOOD: In the United States, food production is based on fertilizer. Fertilizer is made from oil. If there is no oil, there will be no food. Or other crops, like cotton. And forget about ethanol, which is made from biomass, which is produced with fertilizer.

2) TEXTILES: As you read this, you are probably wearing synthetic clothing from neck to foot, all made from oil. Without oil, you will need to hide your nakedness with animal skins, and perhaps wool from grass-fed sheep.

3) PLASTICS: Made from oil. Look around you. How many things can you see that are NOT made from plastics or similar materials?

4) SHIPPING: Why does Wal-Mart have such low prices? By producing their merchandise on the other side of the world, where labor is dirt cheap, and shipping the crap to your local auto slum. The only reason they can do that is because of cheap oil to fuel transport. So ask yourself this... how many everyday products are manufactured within a hundred miles of where you live?

5) GASOLINE, ETC: Let's not forget the gas pump. How will the suburbanites find food if there is no gasoline? And how will any of us stay warm without oil?

The drunken party is almost over and the cops are on their way. Everything you take for granted is dependent on cheap oil and is about to disappear. Sorry... but that's the way it is.

From The Economist, which is not exactly "liberal media." Link at the end.

Saudis warn of shortfalls as oil hits $61
By Carola Hoyos and Neil Dennis in London
Published: July 6 2005 22:02 | Last updated: July 6 2005 22:02

Oil prices hit new record highs above $61 a barrel on Thursday, driven by short-term supply fears as the first hurricane of the season threatened crude production and refinery operations in the Gulf of Mexico.

But private warnings also point to a worsening long-term outllook, with Saudi officials saying that the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries will be unable to meet projected western demand in 10 to 15 years.

At today's prices, the world will need the cartel to boost its production from 30m to 50m barrels a day to 50m by 2020 to meet rapidly rising demand, according to the International Energy Agency, the energy watchdog for consuming countries.

But senior Saudi energy officials have privately warned US and European counterparts that Opec would have an “extremely difficult time” meeting that demand. Saudi Arabia calculates there is a 4.5m b/d gap between what the world needs and what the kingdom can provide.

Saudi Arabia has the world's largest oil reserves and will need to bear up to half Opec's production growth in the next 10 to 20 years, with the rest mainly coming from Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates.

Saudi Arabia pumps 9.5m b/d and has assured consumer countries that it could reach 12.5m b/d in 2009 and probably 15m b/d eventually. But a senior western energy official said: “They said it would be extremely difficult to move above that figure”.

But European officials hope that energy saving measures could curb oil demand. They believe Opec could produce the 44m b/d the world would need if consumers adopted efficiency measures under discussion by governments in the US and Europe.

G8 leaders are expected to discuss the high oil prices during their three day summit which began in Gleneagles, Scotland, on Wednesday.

Fears that US refineries are ill-equipped to meet winter demand for heating oil and other distillates have driven crude prices more than 9 per cent higher in the last week.

These concerns were compounded on Wednesday as Chevron, Shell and BP all reported they were evacuating workers from platforms in the Gulf of Mexico as tropical storm Dennis was upgraded to hurricane.

These concerns were compounded on Wednesday as Chevron, Shell and BP all reported they were evacuating workers from platforms in the Gulf of Mexico as tropical storm Dennis was upgraded to hurricane

The August West Texas Intermediate contract on the New York Mercantile Exchange hit a record $61.63 in early electronic trade, while on London’s International Petroleum Exchange, the front-month Brent crude contract climbed to an all-time high of $60.26 a barrel.