Flimsy Sanity: November 2005

Flimsy Sanity

In individuals, insanity is rare; but in groups, parties, nations and epochs, it is the rule. - Friedrich Nietzsche

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Should a Teacher Influence Opinions?

The religious right is intent on capturing education. Homeschooling - attacking public schools - rewriting biology books - now they go on and on about how higher education is a liberal bastion. What they did to the media, they are intent on doing to education.

Perhaps you have heard about all the yelling from the right concerning the Vermont teacher who worded a quiz to poke fun at Bush. I remember our senior PDP (Present Day Problems, a civics class) spent the whole year teaching from the book, The Naked Communist . It was years later that I found out the book was published by the John Birch Society and the teacher never mentioned that the book was biased. The librarian at our local grade school is a reborn Christian and buys religious books and discards all books on saving the environment. If students paid the least attention to school, we might have a problem.

Heard on North Dakota NPR

National Guard people can get $1,000 for getting someone to enlist and another $1,000 if said "mark" makes it through basic training. Kind of like bounty hunting.

The Funniest Thing Dave Barry ever Wrote

See How to Win Arguments, As it Were for advice on debating.

Is it Human Nature?

I googled "kiss up, kick down" out of curiosity but all the references were to Bolton as though he were some unique example. I have experienced it at every level I have ever been in - from school to work (both white and blue collar) to most social interaction. At school, children suck up to the popular ones - the cheerleaders and the sports stars and bully the misfit. At work, people bitch about conditions but when the boss comes around, no one says a thing, but instead hang on his (usually) every word. I noticed early on that the person with the lowest wage gets the most duties. I think that is why a rich and/or famous person and a poor person can never get a fair trial. It is why the deaths of tens of thousands of poor people do not interest us. It is why at meetings people never hear what people socially below them say.

My sister and I used to laugh at how my aunt's voice would change when she talked to someone she thought was more prestigious, but if you watch humans, you seldom see a person who treats everyone equally. We are no different than hyenas in a pack. For an interesting view on stress related to social standing, read Massimo Pigliucci's Essay that says The best single predictor of heart problems is indeed stress, but of an entirely different and still widely ignored type: the stress that comes not from doing too much or being under self-imposed pressure, but from being ordered around with little or no control over your destiny.

I wonder how soldiers feel about mercenaries?

+ Who is employed by the private contracting firms in Iraq?

Here is a breakdown of the numbers:

50,000 support/logistics contractors
These are civilians hired by KBR, the Halliburton subsidiary which holds the military's logistical support contract. They work as weathermen, cooks, carpenters, mechanics, etc. Most are from Third World countries and the majority are Filipinos.

20,000 non-Iraqi security contractors
Of these, 5-6,000 are British, American, South African, Russian or European; another 12,000 are from Third World countries, such as Fiji, Colombia, Sri Lanka, and India.

15,000 Iraqi security contractors
Most of these were hired mainly by the British security firm Erinys to guard Iraq's oil infrastructure.

40-70,000 reconstruction contractors
Hired to rebuild Iraq. Some are Iraqis, but they're mostly from the U.S. and dozens of other countries and employed by companies such as General Electric, Bechtel, Parsons, KBR, Fluor and Perini.

+How much do private contractors get paid? Money is a prime motivator for those working in Iraq. Guards for private security firms can typically make between $400 and $600 per day. Guards employed by Blackwater, a high-profile American company that guarded Ambassador Paul Bremer, the former head of the CPA, are paid up to $1000 per day.

One of the major disadvantages of using private contractors in Iraq is that they operate outside of the military chain of command, with two consequences. First, if a situation becomes too dangerous, individuals can halt operations or break their contracts and leave. For example, after an incident on April 9, 2004, in which a 19-truck KBR convoy was ambushed -- six drivers were killed, one was taken hostage, and one is still missing -- FRONTLINE was told that scores of KBR truckers refused to drive until security improved and hundreds of contractors left the country. For weeks, the military was left with dwindling stores of ammunition, fuel and water. Another consequence of contractors being outside the military command structure is the lack of coordination on the battlefield. Read or watch Frontline program on private warriors.

Last Night on CNN

They had committee hearings on video game ratings. They showed little clips of some current games and I must admit they are violent - it seems like the goal is to show the most splashing blood. But I thought it interesting that no mention was made of the game put out by the army called America's Army: Special Forces. An army site had this to say:
The game has become an online phenomenon, consistently ranking among the most popular PC action games played online. Since its public release on July 4, 2002, more than 1.4 million players completed their virtual exploration of the basic training portion of the game and progressed to complete more than 280 million missions logging over 28 million hours of gameplay. America’s Army and America’s Army: Special Forces are rated T for Teen and are available as free CDs at local Army Recruiting stations, ROTC Detachments and Army events, and can also be downloaded from various partners listed on the www.americasarmy.com site.

One user on a blog had this review of the game:
"This game really does a good job of making you feel like a real US Army soldier…A nice touch to the game that I really enjoy is the tracer rounds which you can see flying above you when you’re pinned down. Fortunately for younger kids, the blood effects are nothing but puffs of red that last for half a second… The ragdoll physics are amazing in this game. It’s always satisfying to see someone crumpling onto themselves once you’ve lit them up…”

Can Jesus make you more money?

This site bumvertising is about panhandlers earning money by adding advertising to their signs. Notice how all the homemade parts of the signs have Christian symbols (although one included a yin/yang symbol too). Lots of publicity on the guy with the bumvertising idea but I would be interested in the statistics of what is more profitable - a xtian sign versus a "will work for food" sign.

Mother Jones article says that putting Jesus on the cover raises magazine sales as much as 45 percent. "In the past couple of years, magazines such as Wired and Popular Mechanics have tried to cash in on this miracle of marketing, but the most persistent devotees are Time and Newsweek, which have spent the last decade competing over who can squeeze Jesus on the front most often."

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Bumper Sticker

Reporting on the Iraq war

There remained firm limits on what could be reported out of Iraq. Especially taboo were frank accounts of the actions of US troops in the field —particularly when those actions resulted in the deaths of Iraqi civilians.

On the same day The Times ran its front-page story about the two thousand war dead, for instance, it ran another piece on page A12 about the rising toll of Iraqi civilians. Since the US military does not issue figures on this subject, Sabrina Tavernise relied on Iraq Body Count, a nonprofit Web site that keeps a record of casualty figures from news accounts. The site, she wrote, placed the number of dead civilians since the start of the US invasion at between 26,690 and 30,051. (Even the higher number was probably too low, the article noted, since many deaths do not find their way into news reports.) The Times deserves credit simply for running this story—for acknowledging that, as high a price as American soldiers have paid in the war, the one paid by Iraqi civilians has been much higher. Remarkably, though, in discussing the cause of those deaths, the article mentioned only insurgents. Not once did it raise the possibility that some of those deaths might have come at the hands of the "Coalition."

This is typical. A survey of the Times's coverage of Iraq in the month of October shows that, while regularly reporting civilian deaths caused by the insurgents, it rarely mentioned those inflicted by Americans; when it did, it was usually deep inside the paper, and heavily qualified. Thus, on October 18 the Times ran a brief article at the bottom of page A11 headlined "Scores Are Killed by American Airstrikes in Sunni Insurgent Stronghold West of Baghdad." Citing military sources, the article noted in its lead that the air strikes had been launched "against insurgents" in the embattled city of Ramadi, "killing as many as 70 people." A US Army colonel was cited as saying that a group of insurgents in four cars had been spotted "trying to roll artillery shells into a large crater in eastern Ramadi that had been caused when a roadside bomb exploded the day before, killing five US and two Iraqi soldiers." At that point, according to the Times, "an F-15 fighter plane dropped a guided bomb on the area, killing all 20 men on the ground." The Times went on to report the colonel's claim that "no civilians had been killed in the strikes." In one sentence, the article noted that Reuters, "citing hospital officials in Ramadi," had reported "that civilians had been killed." It did not elaborate. Instead, it went on to mention other incidents in Ramadi in which US helicopters and fighter planes had killed "insurgents."

The AP told a very different story. The "group of insurgents" that the military claimed had been hit by the F-15 was actually "a group of around two dozen Iraqis gathered around the wreckage of the US military vehicle" that had been attacked the previous day, the AP reported.

The military said in a statement that the crowd was setting another roadside bomb in the location of the blast that killed the Americans. F-15 warplanes hit them with a precision-guided bomb, killing 20 people, described by the statement as "terrorists."
But several witnesses and one local leader said the people were civilians who had gathered to gawk at the wreckage of the US vehicle or pick pieces off of it—as often occurs after an American vehicle is hit.
The airstrike hit the crowd, killing 25 people, said Chiad Saad, a tribal leader, and several witnesses who refused to give their names....

Readers of the Times learned none of these details.
This is not an isolated case. Regularly reading the paper's Iraq coverage during the last few months, I have found very little mention of civilians dying at the hands of US forces. No doubt the violence on Iraq's streets keeps reporters from going to these sites to interview witnesses, but Times stories seldom notify readers that its reporters were unable to question witnesses to civilian casualties because of the danger they would face in going to the site of the attack. Yet the paper regularly publishes official military claims about dead insurgents without any independent confirmation. After both General Tommy Franks and Donald Rumsfeld declared in 2003 that "we don't do body counts," the US military has quietly begun doing just that. And the Times generally relays those counts without questioning them.

In any discussion of civilian casualties, it is important to distinguish between the insurgents, who deliberately target civilians, and the US military, which does not—which, in fact, goes out of its way to avoid them. Nonetheless, all indications point to a very high toll at the hands of the US. As seems to have been the case in Ramadi, many of the deaths have resulted from aerial bombardment. Since the start of the invasion, the United States has dropped 50,000 bombs on Iraq. About 30,000 were dropped during the five weeks of the war proper. Though most of the 50,000 bombs have been aimed at military targets, they have undoubtedly caused much "collateral damage," and claimed an untold number of civilian lives.

But according to Marc Garlasco of Human Rights Watch, the toll from ground actions is probably much higher. Garlasco speaks with special authority; before he joined Human Rights Watch, in mid-April 2003, he worked for the Pentagon, helping to select targets for the air war in Iraq. During the ground war, he says, the military's use of cluster bombs was especially lethal. In just a few days of fighting in the city of Hilla, south of Baghdad, Human Rights Watch found that cluster bombs killed or injured more than five hundred civilians.

Since the end of the ground war, Garlasco says, many civilians have been killed in crossfire between US and insurgent forces. Others have been shot by US military convoys; soldiers in Humvees, seeking to avoid being hit by suicide bombers, not infrequently fire on cars that get too close, and many turn out to have civilians inside. According to Garlasco, private security contractors kill many civilians; they tend to be "loosey-goosey" in their approach, he says, "opening fire if people don't get out of the way quickly enough."

Probably the biggest source of civilian casualties, though, is Coalition checkpoints. These can go up anywhere at any time, and though they are supposed to be well marked, they are in practice often hard to detect, especially at night, and US soldiers—understandably wary of suicide bombers —often shoot first and ask questions later. Many innocent Iraqis have died in the process.

Such killings came into public view in March, when the car carrying Italian journalist Giuliana Sgrena, rushing to the Baghdad airport after her release from captivity, was fired on by US troops; she was badly wounded and the Italian intelligence officer accompanying her was killed. Three days after the incident, The New York Times ran a revealing front-page story headlined "US Checkpoints Raise Ire in Iraq." Next to the prisoner abuse scandal at Abu Ghraib, John Burns wrote,

no other aspect of the American military presence in Iraq has caused such widespread dismay and anger among Iraqis, judging by their frequent outbursts on the subject. Daily reports compiled by Western security companies chronicle many incidents in which Iraqis with no apparent connection to the insurgency are killed or wounded by American troops who have opened fire on suspicion that the Iraqis were engaged in a terrorist attack.
US and Iraqi officials said they had no figures on such casualties, Burns reported,
but any Westerner working in Iraq comes across numerous accounts of apparently innocent deaths and injuries among drivers and passengers who drew American fire, often in circumstances that have left the Iraqis puzzled, wondering what, if anything, they did wrong.

Many, he said, "tell of being fired on with little or no warning."

Burns's account showed that it was possible to write such stories despite the pervasive violence, and despite the lack of official figures
Part of an article in New York Times Review of Books The Press: the Enemy Within, written by Michael Massing.

Friday, November 25, 2005

Neighborhood Watch in Montana


"Religion is a realm ruled by hoax, and indeed there have been many. One of the most famous recent ones is the one about Atheists demanding the FCC block all religious programming, which still attracts believers 25 years after it was revealed to be a hoax. Older hoaxes include the House at Loretto, and the Piltdown Man, a hoax by religious activists that attempted to embarrass scientists. Of course the infamous Shroud of Turin, a hoax itself, has triggered several additional hoaxes which attempt to "prove" its authenticity. Even though the Bible itself describes Jesus' burial as having used TWO seperate pieces of cloth (Book of John), the continued fanatacism and irrational rants of the Shroud-O-philes proves that for every credibility gap there is a gullibility fill. History shows than when such people gain civil power, genocide and atrocity result. There has never been a religiously dominated nation in all of time that did not oppress its people in the extreme, claiming it was the will of the gods." - Pilfered from the web long ago and now I cannot find who to attribute it to.

Quote of the Day

"I spent a lot of money on booze, birds and fast cars - the rest I just squandered." - George Best (via Metafilter) Never heard of him because I don't watch football.

Thursday, November 24, 2005


Isn't it odd how a joke only makes you laugh once, while a song can make one chuckle every time. Here is Weird Al's eBay song. Turn on volume and click on "Play" button.

Are bloggers selfish

Read Shephard's post about whether any blogger's opinion matters. I agree that we may all be selfish and even when we do a charity, we do it because it makes us feel better about ourselves. I think we all crave recognition. But like he says, Even just to make someone feel less alone or to make someone laugh (esp. in today's climate) is as noble as anything I can think of.

What I'm Thankful For this Thanksgiving

I'm thankful I don't live in a place where I can get cholera from drinking the water, where parasitic worm diseases make my leg swell up to the size of an elephant, where I would have to wear a burqa and cannot voice my opinion, where soldiers shoot me, where I do not have enough to eat, where I do not have shelter from the frigid winter (not like earthquake victims in Pakistan), where I would have to work in a factory all day to get enough money for a meal, where disease goes untreated because of poverty, where I would never get the chance to read or write.

I do not think my luck is due to the benevolence of a god, but it is an accident of my birth. If I had never been born, that would be fine too, but since I was, thank you Mom and Dad for screwing in an advanced country.

Missionary Thinking

I feel faith based initiatives won't work because religion is a virus and like all viruses, the main goal is to spread itself. The fact that Robertson's Operation Blessing's first concern was supplying 80,000 Bibles to drowning Gulf Coast citizens comes as no surprise. Currently a war is going on at Wikipedia about Mother Theresa with some claiming she is a saint and others pointing out that Mother Theresa used charitable contributions to establish convents and baptize dying people rather than supply basic medical care. Religious people think "spreading the Word" is more important than any other thing.

Giving US government funds to religious groups has been tried before.
When President Ulysses S. Grant faced the "Indian problem" — that is, the restriction of Native Americans to reservations, where they were both banned from hunting and too inexperienced to farm productively enough — he declared that government could not do the job. Rather, urged by religious leaders, he looked for mainstream religious denominations to "Christianize the Indians" using federal funds. In a scenario with eerie similarities to the present, the federal government declared itself incapable of delivering social services but determined to fund them.....Thus, the Grant Administration instituted the "Peace Policy," assigning particular reservations to particular Christian denominations. (One of the most immediate effects of this, unfortunately, was to generate interdenominational conflicts, especially between the Protestants who received the assignments and the money, and the Catholics, already out West, who did not. There were no enforceable requirements of success for the religious organizations. Partly as a result, under the Peace Policy, denominations used their limited funds to proselytize–rather than to teach the agrarian techniques that were sorely needed–and many of the Native Americans starved.
Read the whole article on why faith based initiatives are a bad idea.

P.S. An earlier, more critical version of the Wikipedia article on Mother Teresa is here.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Ever Played the Game Gossip?

It's an oral history. It was passed down, word-of-mouth, father to son, from Adam to Seth, from Seth to Enos, from Enos to Cainan, for 40 generations, a growing, changing, story, it was handed down, word-of-mouth, father to son. Until Moses finally gets it down on lambskin. But lambskins wear out, and need to be recopied. Copies of copies of copies of copies of copies of copies of copies of an oral history passed down through 40 generations.
From Hebrew it's translated into Arabic, from Arabic to Latin, from Latin to Greek, from Greek to Russian, from Russian to German, from German to an old form of English that you could not read. Through 400 years of evolution of the English language to the book we have today, which is: a translation of a translation of a translation of a translation of a translation of a copy of a copy of a copy of a copy of a copy of a copy of a copy of an oral history passed down through 40 generations.

You can't put a grocery list through that many translations, copies, and re-telling, and not expect to have some big changes in the dinner menu when the kids make it back from Kroger's.

And yet people are killing each other over this written word. Here's a tip: If you're killing someone in the name of God — you're missing the message.
~ Songwriter Nick Annis

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Nader Speaks to the Democratic Party

Last month, the Democratic Party and its political consultants came up with their proposed new slogan: "Together, America Can Do Better." That's reassuring, given the Republican mess of huge deficits, rising job exports, runaway corporate militarism, pounding the poor and re-enriching the rich and generally leaving Americans defenseless against concentrated greed and power.

Why not cast aside this slogan and replace it with a program that signifies that the Democrats "Stand With The People"? ............

Come on, Democratic Party, "Stand With The People." Corporatist Democrats cannot defeat corporatist Republicans.

~ Ralph Nader Read whole challenge here. But the Dems ain't going to listen to Ralph - they hate him more than Bush.

Lightbulb joke

Q:How many car salesmen does it take to change a light bulb?
A: I'm just going to work this out on my calculator, and I think you'll be pleasantly surprised.

Do the Count

The Chicken Hawk politicians who run this country may have read heard about the Vietnam War so they are determined that this war will be different. They think the war was lost by the hippies who protested - so we have a controlled media that does not publicize the peace marches or mention the body counts - in fact, they do the exact opposite. Iraq Dead 30,0000 vs Our Brave Men 2,000. No coffins are to be shown. Attack dogs O'Reilly and Limbaugh compare soldier deaths to US policeman deaths and lie that they are comparitively less and very minor. People in Iraq are so much nobodies that they don't even deserve counting. Unnamed and unnoticed: Iraqi Casulties by Judith Coburn. The lessons Bushco learned by Vietnam was not to talk about "the unimportant people". Bush was probably drunk and missed the lesson about how lying to engage in war such as the Gulf of Tonkin will bite you in the ass.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Some Congressional Statistics

After researching public records, newspaper articles, civil court transcripts, and criminal records, Capitol Hill Blue discovered that:

* 29 members of Congress have been accused of spousal abuse.
* 7 have been arrested for fraud.
* 19 have been accused of writing bad checks.
* 117 have bankrupted at least two businesses.
* 3 have been arrested for assault.
* 71 have credit reports so bad they can't qualify for a
credit card.
* 14 have been arrested on drug-related charges.
* 8 have been arrested for shoplifting.
* 21 are current defendants in lawsuits.
* And in 1998 alone, 84 were stopped for drunk driving, but released after they claimed Congressional immunity.

Setting the Record Straight by Bill Moyers

Consider the story of the president’s buddy, Joe Allbaugh. When he was appointed head of the Federal Emergency Management Administration—FEMA—he described the agency as “an oversized entitlement program” and told states and cities to rely instead on faith-based organizations. Not surprisingly, the first in line at FEMA’s front door in the aftermath of Katrina was the televangelist and tycoon, Pat Robertson. Although he had only recently called for the assassination of a foreign head of state and had prayed in public for God to open some Supreme Court vacancies “one way or the other,” Pat Robertson’s Operation Blessing—sic—got one of the first faith-based grants for relief work on the Gulf Coast. As a Christian magazine has now informed us, Robertson used some of those tax dollars to help rush 80,000 Bibles to the stricken region.

Joe Allbaugh, meanwhile, was already on the scene—but not as head of FEMA. He had returned to “private life,” as the term is laughingly used among Washington lobbyists. Having failed to prepare his agency to cope with disaster, he carefully prepared himself to exploit disaster when it strikes. It had not escaped him that the invasion of Iraq opened splendid opportunities for gain among the well-connected of Washington who ha cheered it on. Setting up a lobbying firm near the White House, he was soon facilitating business for contractors in Iraq and running another company that provides security for private companies operating there. Allbaugh house his entire complex at the Washington lobbying and law firm of Barbour, Griffith and Rogers. The ‘Barbour’ in that lineup is none other that the former chair of the Republican National Committee, Haley Barbour. The ‘Rogers’ is Ed Rogers, Barbour’s partner, who is also—hold your breath—one of Allbaugh’s vice presidents. Haley Barbour, having enriched himself as an influence peddler, went back to Mississippi and ran for governor, which means he is playing a big hand in passing out your tax dollars for reconstruction. Lo and behold, on September 1, the Pentagon announced a major contract for repair of Naval facilities on the Gulf Coast to Halliburton, whose chief lobbyist is… Joe Allbaugh. What a lucky coincidence. Or as Shakespeare might put it: ‘Merit doth much, but fortune more.”

This is what you get from people who don’t believe in government except to aggrandize their own privilege. It wasn’t the lack of resources that prevented the administration from responding effectively to the disaster. The Washington Post’s Bill Arkin, among others, reminds us that the federal government had water, medicine, food and security at hand, in addition to the transportation needed to get it down to the coast in a hurry. The problem was “leadership, decisiveness, foresight.” And this goes to the core of the radical right’s atheist-in-the-Vatican philosophy: Denounce the government you now run, defang its powers and dilute its responsibilities, and direct the spoils of victory to your cronies in the private sector.
~ Bill Moyers Read the whole speech here.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Sauerkraut and Bird Flu

The fermented food has been getting a lot of buzz lately, after scientists in Seoul claimed that 11 of 13 infected chickens started to recover from the avian flu after being fed an extract of kimchi, a Korean dish similar to sauerkraut, according to a BBC report. With fear of a possible bird flu pandemic growing, sales of kimchi and sauerkraut have spiked in many areas of the world, various news reports state. Is Sauerkraut the Next Chicken Soup .

NPR says that sauerkraut is the most googled word today. By the way, although the Germans claim to have invented the food, it was originally a Chinese food.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Polls on 2008 Candidates

Pew Research Survey

Thursday, November 17, 2005

For People Who Like New Words

WARCHALKING~The name refers to chalk symbols that indicate to those in the know that an unsecured wireless networking station is nearby that can be used to tap into a corporate network and get illicit free Internet access. The term and the code were created by Matt Jones in the UK, based on the symbols that tramps and hobos once chalked on walls and doors to pass on information to others about houses to avoid or where a meal was to be had. Within days of appearing on his web site, the idea had been picked up by SlashDot in the USA and his symbols had been seen in London, New York, and Seattle.
"This is just the most recent of a set of terms which is threatening to turn war into a geek prefix meaning something like “attempting to gain unauthorised network access”. The first was the 1980s term war dialling for the way that hackers systematically dialled telephone numbers in search of a modem that might give them network access. More recent examples include war driving (driving around with a portable computer, looking for unsecured wireless networks) and warwalking (the same idea, but on foot). In a sign of its vitality, warchalking has already given rise to the parody terms chalkchalking, pubchalking, and blogchalking and it is being seriously suggested that the symbols should also mark legitimate access points.
Warchalking’s rise to infamy has even been given an air of governmental legitimacy, at least in the US: the state of Utah is planning on using the warchalking symbols on 250 government buildings.

IRRITABLE MALE SYNDROME~This term was coined by Gerald Lincoln, a researcher at the Medical Research Council in Edinburgh, and came to public notice in Britain in early March. Presumably he, or the MRC’s press officer, coined it on the analogy of irritable bowel syndrome. Dr Lincoln claims that men of any age who suffer stress can experience sudden drops in testosterone level, making them bad-tempered, nervous, or easily reduced to tears. One suggestion is that testosterone replacement therapy may restore men to their usual state (whatever that is). The idea has received what one may describe as a mixed reception, with comment from the female of the species being particularly acerbic.
RECREATIONAL GRIEF~The British think tank Civitas published a report this week under the title Conspicuous Compassion. Its author, Patrick West, argues that public outpourings of grief, such as those after the death of Diana, Princess of Wales and following a number of recent child murders, show that society has not become more caring or altruistic, but more selfish. He asserts that what seem to be public signs of caring—such as wearing coloured ribbons, signing Internet petitions, and carrying banners saying “Not In My Name”—are part of a culture of ostentatious caring which is about feeling good, not doing good; of projecting one’s ego and thereby showing others what a deeply caring individual you are, not actually doing anything that makes a difference.
DOG-WHISTLE POLITICS~Australians will be familiar with this term for a type of targeted political campaign message, since it has been known there since at least 1997. It has started to appear in Britain during the current election campaign because of the Australian political guru Lynton Crosby. He ran four campaigns for John Howard before transferring his person and his skills to the UK and another Howard, the leader of the Conservative party, Michael Howard. The phrase refers to a campaign message that will not cause general offence, but which contains a coded message to which sympathetic voters will respond, in the same way that a dog will hear an ultrasonic whistle inaudible to the humans around it.

I just randomly picked a couple for you but there are hours of amusement here at World Wide Words, the site of Michael Quinion who writes about International English from a British viewpoint. For the past decade he has been a field researcher and advisor to the Oxford English Dictionary and was writer of a third of the second edition of the Oxford Dictionary of New Words .

Exaggerated Drug Claims

Paul Ernsberger says that inflated mortality statistics are based on the works of pharmacoeconomics experts. “These experts create cost-benefit analyses which are part of all drug applications to the FDA. These self-serving analyses start by exaggerating as much as possible the cost to society of the ailment to be treated. The risks associated with the new drug are severely underestimated, which results in an extremely favorable risk-benefit analysis, which is almost never realized once the drug is on the market. Experts who can produce highly favorable risk-benefit analyses are very much in demand, however.”

Big Oil Hearing

Committee co-chairman Ted Stevens of Alaska, so cloyingly deferential to his corporate witnesses one had to wonder if he was auditioning for the job of head waiter at the grille room of the Petroleum Club in Houston. ~ Steven Perlstein, Business Columnist for Washington Post Oil's Bigwigs Enjoy a Rigged Market

When Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) wanted the moguls to be sworn in at the onset of the hearing (an almost routine formality in many hearings), Chairman Senator Ted Stevens (R-AK) repulsed the suggestion. Later he rejected Senator Barbara Boxer’s large chart showing the huge salaries and bonuses of each of the five oil executives by name, from being entered into the hearing record as irrelevant to the subject matter of the hearing. ~ Ralph Nader All Fizzle, No Sizzle at Big Oil Hearing

Instead of calling oil executives on the carpet yesterday, senators gave them the red-carpet treatment. The companies summoned to testify have given about $400,000 in PAC money this year alone -- and much of that has found its way to those who served as the executives' interrogators. So while protesters came to the hearing wearing "Exxpose Exxon" T-shirts, most lawmakers opted to extol Exxon Mobil -- and Chevron, ConocoPhillips, BP and Shell.

"First, let me begin by thanking each of you and the companies for what you all did to save lives, to save property, to restore the communities along the Gulf Coast," said Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.), who has taken $249,155 in oil and gas money over five years, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.....At times, the senators seemed to be bigger boosters of the industry than the executives themselves. Under questioning from Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore., $12,500), all five executives testified that they did not need the tax breaks in the recent energy bill.

"That energy legislation is zero in terms of how it affects Exxon Mobil," said the company's chairman, Lee Raymond.

This did not sit well with Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Tex., $306,820). "But," she asked, don't the tax breaks "make a difference" in investment decisions?"
~ Dana Milbank Columnist for Washington Post Oil And Grilling Don't Mix

If I Were USA's Tax Queen

If I were queen tax commissioner of the country I would add an extra form onto your taxes in which you could designate where you wanted your taxes to go. Want a huge military budget because your family has been career army all their lives? - give 100% to that area. Interested in improving education, give 80% to it and the other 20% to libraries. Feel strongly that abortion is murder - give 100% to welfare to support these children (as rich and middle class can go elsewhere to get their abortions even if it is declared unlawful). Law and order type - designate it all to the police and prisons block; think they have too much power already, assign your tax dollars to legal aid. Think the environment would benefit from mass transit systems or alternate energy sources, give the money to that. Now in some ways, this plan favors the middle class and gives them a great deal of power. More power than the rich or the poor who pay very little in taxes (what with trust funds, offshore accounts, clever accountants who study loopholes and the politicians who create them for the rich and of course the very poor who pay nothing). With computers, this method of democracy is feasible and the politicians might just see where our priorities lie. This is the fantasy of an old woman with too many pets. Taxes wouldn't hurt so much if we got to say where the money goes.


Pilfered from Caught At Work Productions some interesting Anti-Motivation posters.

CIA Interrogation Techniques History

Slate article on CIA and the brief history of mind experiments and soft torture.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Pharma news

Author of book on Plague discusses the options on dealing with a pandemic and why quarantine would intensify the problem.

Gift to Eli Lilly attached to Homeland Security bill and ordered removed.

Seen on the streets of Albuquerque

Pilfered from Bartcop

Mark Twain Quotes

"Some men worship rank, some worship heroes, some worship power, some worship God, and over these ideals they dispute but they all worship money."


"Political parties who accuse the one in power of gobbling the spoils etc. are like the wolf who looked in at the door and saw the shepherds eating mutton, and said:

'Oh, certainly -- it's all right as long as it's you -- but there'd be hell to pay if I was to do that.'"

There are 10 Similar Bills Proposed

Big Pharma needs protection. The proposal would allow drug companies to avoid being held accountable if their products cause injury or even death - even in cases of gross negligence it must be proven that the harm was intentional. The proposal would allow drug companies special protections not only for vaccines and drugs intended to combat pandemic flu, but also a broad range of drugs totally unrelated to a pandemic, including Tylenol, Advil and Vioxx. I've said it before - the bird flu talk is just the smoke to cover the coming thimerosal class action suit. There are at least TEN seperate bills which are seeking this change to law - S3, S975, S1437, S1828, S1873, S1880, HR650, HR3154, HR3970, HR4245.
If these bills pass there will be NO INCENTIVE for safety in medicines.

Bush and Congress send Narco-terrorists $20 Million

Check this out. Money to retrain FARC (According to military analysts, the FARC earns between $250 and $300 million through criminal acts, of which 65 percent comes from the drug trade) AUC (A Colombian group on the State Department’s terrorist list is the United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (AUC), which comprises several right-wing paramilitary groups supported by wealthy landowners, drug cartels, and segments of the Colombian military)and ELN (ransom or “protection” payments account for most of ELN’s income, but it has also recently entered the drug trade).

Just another entry about our WAR FOR DRUGS.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

The Healthful Benefits of Liquor

Article on the wonders of liquor after a heart attack and to prevent heart attacks. Probably less side effects than the over priced pharmaceutical solutions. Now how do we get the nursing homes to issue a round of drinks prior to the porridge?

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Funny Ads - Bad Company

I think the one from Capital One in which the hordes have to get other jobs is pretty funny, especially the guy filling ice cream cones. I also like the one with David Spade wiring the chubby guy who gets liquid thrown in his face and short circuits because the girl thinks he is propositioning her. Too bad Capital One is in trouble. Capital One is currently in court because they increase the interest rate on some cards up to 400% for consumers who trigger a "penalty" rate by defaulting in any number of minor ways.

Afghanistan Redux

"We are already a narco-state," says Mohammad Nader Nadery at the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission, which has studied the growing impunity of former military commanders and drug dealers who now work within the Afghan government. "If the governors in many parts of the country are involved in the drug trade, if a minister is directly or indirectly getting benefits from drug trade, and if a chief of police gets money from drug traffickers, then how else do you define a narco-state?"

"Whatever number of police cars there are in Kabul, I can tell you that more than 50 percent of them are carrying drugs inside from one place to another," says a senior police commander in Kabul, requesting anonymity for his own safety. "The problem is that Afghanistan is training police to stop drug smugglers, and when they go out into the field, their police commander tells them how to protect the drug smugglers."

Ikramuddin says that many of these policemen and commanders are former warlords who have disarmed and reintegrated into government jobs, and are now using their position to facilitate the drug trade and get rich.

Among those corrupt commanders, he says, is Inayatullah, the police chief from Yawan, a district in the former governor's province. "Commander Inayatullah is a smuggler, I know him well," Ikramuddin says. "There is a competition among smugglers, that is why Inayatullah arrested Safiullah and the others. It's not to do his job honestly, but just to weaken a competitor."

Ikramuddin says that many of these policemen and commanders are former warlords who have disarmed and reintegrated into government jobs, and are now using their position to facilitate the drug trade and get rich.

Among those corrupt commanders, he says, is Inayatullah, the police chief from Yawan, a district in the former governor's province. "Commander Inayatullah is a smuggler, I know him well," Ikramuddin says. "There is a competition among smugglers, that is why Inayatullah arrested Safiullah and the others. It's not to do his job honestly, but just to weaken a competitor."

"Except for the minister of the interior himself, Mr. Ali Jalali, all the lower people from the heads of department down are involved in supporting drug smuggling," says Ikramuddin, who now serves as Afghanistan's minister of labor.

Ikramuddin says that many of these policemen and commanders are former warlords who have disarmed and reintegrated into government jobs, and are now using their position to facilitate the drug trade and get rich.

Among those corrupt commanders, he says, is Inayatullah, the police chief from Yawan, a district in the former governor's province. "Commander Inayatullah is a smuggler, I know him well," Ikramuddin says. "There is a competition among smugglers, that is why Inayatullah arrested Safiullah and the others. It's not to do his job honestly, but just to weaken a competitor."

The police chief who replaced Inayatullah is involved in the drug trade, according to several interior ministry officials. Kabul officials have ordered that he be removed from the position but say he is being protected by provincial police authorities. One senior Interior Ministry official says that the new chief paid a $60,000 bribe to get the job.

Excerpts from Afghanistan Riddled with Drug Ties
By Scott Baldauf and Faye Bowers | Staff writers of The Christian Science Monitor

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Who is this guy?

I like reading Metafilter. For quite awhile I have been seeing ads from the guy pictured. The ads are not that cheap.
He has a site promoting his book called God Without Religion which sounds like just another crackpot wacko religion because his ad on Metafilter headlines with "Jesus Writes a Book, What is the Title". He has 10,800 entries on Google. His book is 2,000+ in Amazon which is a pretty high ranking. Most of the entries on Google looked like self promotion. Is this our next cult leader?

Friday, November 11, 2005

Pilfered from Bartcop

By the way, I heard on NPR radio that many people in Brazil were suffering from a pox that looked identical to the strain given for prevention of smallpox. It was not fatal, but people were incapacitated for a month or so. No mention of it in the national media.

Pilfered from somewhere

Are church people more moral?

From Bart Cop

My drunk husband did what???

Might makes right

A question for Statisticians

Remember the story about how women over 35 have as much chance of getting married as they do of getting killed by a terrorist? With terrorism on the increase, does this mean older women are standing a better chance at matrimony?

War Profiteering

This article points out the criminal nature of some of the largest reconstruction corps in Iraq.
The main companies that were awarded billions of dollars worth of contracts in Iraq have paid more than $300 million in fines since 2000, to resolve allegations of fraud, bid rigging, delivery of faulty military equipment, and environmental damage.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Wacky Web Names

Wackiest Web Names Ever By JONATHAN WEINBERG-Sun Reporter

EVER done something then instantly regretted you didn't check things out a little bit more closely! Well, the people behind these websites must have been kicking themselves after buying this set of wacky domain names.At first glance they might seem innocent enough, but have another read.

And if you've spotted an even better one, send it in to yourviews@the-sun.co.uk marked "Wacky website name". We'd love to see it and we'll reprint the best ones!

Who Represents?, a database for agencies to the rich and famous: www.whorepresents.com

Experts Exchange, a knowledge base where programmers can exchange advice and views: www.expertsexchange.com

Looking for a pen? Look no further than Pen Island: www.penisland.net

Need a therapist? www.therapistfinder.com

Investing for Dummies

"We Conservatives Are More Moral Than You: More moral or not, they seem to be remarkably prescient investors. High-flying mutual funds? Hedge funds only available to the big dogs? None of them can beat your local U.S. senator at picking old-fashioned equities. Mutual funds typically do about 3 percent better than the market, long term, and hedge funds rarely more than about 6 percent better, for which they charge absurdly huge management fees. But your local friendly U.S. senator? U.S. Senators beat the stock market annually by a whopping 12 percent on average, the first comprehensive study of share trading by members of the U.S. Senate has found. The academics who conducted the study looked at 6,000 stock transactions made by senators between 1993 and 1998. They noted that the senators did an especially good job of picking up stocks at just the right time - their buys were typically flat before they bought them, but beat the market by 30 percent, on average, in the year after. However, it seems the senators might have been given a helping hand. Alan Ziobrowski, a professor at Georgia State University, and his colleagues concluded that at least some senators must have been trading "based on information that is unavailable to the public". Last I heard, they call that "insider trading." And that's illegal! Could they be doing that? Ya think?" - Scott Bidstrup Letters from Exile

Too Stupid to be President

The site Too Stupid to Be President has lots of little movies on Bush. This one made me laugh, but all are pretty good. How do they do that?

Why Fundamentalists Reject Evolution

Bush Breaks Record

Administration Borrows more from Foreign Nations than Previous 42 Presidents Combined. Found on Metafilter.

Why was Martha Punished?

This article from the Seattle Times uncovers the dirty world of stealing information about drug results to play the stock market. Isn't that why Martha Stewart went to jail? How about a few more?

Google and Copyright

Salon has an essay about Google and the copyright brouhaha. The article is interesting as are the letters about it. I can see both sides of the argument, but I lean a little toward letting Google proceed for the following reasons: it is fundamentally no different than letting libraries exist, authors can seldom make money for very long periods on their books as the used book market is very lively, and perhaps sales of older, unpublicized books will be generated. One letter writer suggested counting the times a book was accessed thereby encouraging publishers to reprint (though I could see how the results could be skewed). Another writer opposed to the idea cited the similarity to the huge lawsuits Kinko had when they copied sections of text for university students.

One of the main arguments seems to center on how rich Google is and how they should share with the authors. Yes they are rich but how much of their money comes from their ads and how much comes from stock market speculation? Google claims they will not make any money from the books. As a citizen of a remote, mostly fundamentalist town, I would love access to a large university library for free.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Bush Can Read

It is said that Bush does not read any newspapers. Although he took the book about Salt along on his vacation we have no reports that he actually read it. Here is evidence that he owns another book.

Thanksgiving Hijinks

Strategically placed tin foil can add to your tacky Thanksgiving fun.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Found somewhere

This is a great way to get more enjoyment out of your compost. There are just not enough cat helmets in the world. I wonder what the word is for an addiction to dressing up animals. My sister and her husband did a photo album full of their dog - everything from riding a little horse in a cowboy costume to wearing a tuxedo and serving as ring bearer. Eventually the word for this harmless perversion will come up on Merriam Webster's Word for the Day. (Subscribe here.)

White House Scripts

Presidents Past Inspire Bush's Damage Control
By Peter Baker and Jim VandeHei
Washington Post Staff Writers
Tuesday, October 25, 2005;

In such a time of trouble, the overall challenge for Bush, according to Republican National Committee Chairman Ken Mehlman, is to "keep energy in the executive" and focus on the president's larger second-term goals, such as spreading democracy in the Middle East. The risk, he said, is getting consumed by the bad news of the moment.

"If you look at Reagan who had two [failed Supreme Court] nominees, who lost control of the Senate and had Iran-contra, did he still have a successful final three years? Absolutely," Mehlman said in an interview. So, too, will Bush, he predicted. "One of the great strengths of this team has been from the beginning their ability to keep their eye on the big picture and long-term [goals], while also dealing with short-term challenges."

Though less eager to talk about it, Republican advisers also have studied the Clinton strategy for surviving the Monica S. Lewinsky scandal and the impeachment that followed. Throughout that crisis, Clinton regularly fell back on the message that he was focused on his duties even if everyone else in Washington was absorbed by scandal, an approach aides credited with helping save his presidency.

Consciously or not, Bush seemed to echo that line last week in the Rose Garden when he was asked about all the problems afflicting his White House. Dismissing all the "background noise," Bush said, "the American people expect me to do my job, and I'm going to."

"I think I've heard that one before," Mark Fabiani, a former Clinton White House lawyer, said with a laugh yesterday. "But it comes down to the person. Anybody can deliver the line. The question is: Can you compartmentalize these issues so they don't consume you? And I think Bush's job is more difficult than Clinton's because the questions here go right to the heart of the presidency."

As a chief of staff under Clinton, Leon E. Panetta heard that line before, too. "It's probably in a book someplace in the White House for when you get in trouble," he said. "It's under 'Scandal' and 'Big Trouble.' " But while it's the right thing to say, he said, "if you've ever worked in a White House, you know damn well it's not background noise. It's affecting everything you do as president."

How Historians View Bush

This article is about interviews with academic historians and their opinions of BushII. Said one:
My assessment is that George W. Bush’s record on running up debt to burden our children is the worst since Ronald Reagan; his record on government surveillance of citizens is the worst since Richard Nixon; his record on foreign-military policy has gotten us into the worst foreign mess we’ve been in since Lyndon Johnson sank us into Vietnam; his economic record is the worst since Herbert Hoover; his record of tax favoritism for the rich is the worst since Calvin Coolidge; his record of trampling on civil liberties is the worst since Woodrow Wilson. How far back in our history would we need to go to find a presidency as disastrous for this country as that of George W. Bush has been thus far? My own vote went to the administration of James Buchanan, who warmed the president’s chair while the union disintegrated in 1860-61.
And another said, The George W. Bush presidency is the worst since:

“In terms of economic damage, Reagan.

In terms of imperialism, T Roosevelt.

In terms of dishonesty in government, Nixon.

In terms of affable incompetence, Harding.

In terms of corruption, Grant.

In terms of general lassitude and cluelessness, Coolidge.

In terms of personal dishonesty, Clinton.

In terms of religious arrogance, Wilson.”

I was googling "Bush ten best presidents" trying to find the right wing blog that said Bush was one of the ten best Presidents this country has ever had and stumbled on this interesting piece. Never did find that Bush fan.

The article did talk about how academia is always accused of being liberal but I have noticed that any institution that tries to remain unbiased and tolerant(like PBS) is labeled liberal.

Pogo was right

Bush said the terrorists attacked us because they hate our freedom. Lehrer News Hour yesterday said that under the USA Patriot Act, the FBI sends about 30,000 national security letters a year that require institutions to submit private information and user records without alerting customers. Add to that our corporate media propaganda, corrupt elections, and the firing and demotion of government employees who do not follow party lines and you have fascism not freedom. Beware of the secret police, state sponsored propaganda, and blacklisting. The most dangerous enemy is us.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Remember Choice Point?

With identity theft on the rise, what does the government propose doing? Of course, they naturally want to protect the data farmers. Great blog entry here.

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Too good to be true

I sell books on eBay occasionally and on Amazon when I can. I don't find too many of much value locally as my town has only a small bookstore that sells best sellers almost exclusively. Now best sellers are sometimes very good reading material, but let's face it - their resale value is crap. When I found Paperback Swap, I was pretty thrilled. I had lots of good books on my shelves that I could enter and I thought I could use my points to get books I could sell on Amazon. Not so. Anything of any monetary value gets cancelled when you order it. Now I admire the effort the Paperback Swap people put into their site - it is easy to use, has very attractive graphics and is just great if you are a voracious romance or science fiction reader. Maybe reselling on my part thwarts their expressed purpose of helping readers get books cheap, but I think many people are trying it. Someone wrote in to their discussion board about all their cancellations and their entry was cancelled. You would think someone in their 50's wouldn't be so naive as to be fooled - If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Still - it is a good site if you like best sellers.

Friday, November 04, 2005

Finalists in the Pet Smart Howl-O-Ween Pet Photo Contest

These are the 31 finalists in the 2005 contest. Finalist 7,8 and 25 are pictured.

Testifying for the Egg Cooker and Stircrazy

I am not much of a fan of one-use electrical appliances - don't have the room for them for starters. Usually in October, a new fad appliance appears just in time for the holiday season. We have seen the rise and fall of bread machines, food processors, oil fryers for turkeys(that torched quite a few garages), crock pots, air pots, salad shooters - the list is a long one and I am just remembering the ones lining the shelves at the thrift store. I usually buy any unique appliance that I think I can sell on eBay and always pick up any Stircrazy® Popcorn poppers (I think I have sold 5 or 6 and I have one for myself - popcorn popper is so great as the kernals it pops are light and fluffy and it is rare to find any unpopped ones) and any egg cookers. I tested my last egg cooker to make sure it works and I am in love with it. It steams the eggs to a perfect hard boil and the eggs are perfect - easy to peel, non-rubbery and the cooker shuts off automatically - it also has a little tray for poaching. The last one I had listed on eBay I sold to a woman who got it as a wedding gift 40 years ago and she was looking for a replacement because she too loved it. Eggs are such a cheap food and even the really poverty stricken can alternate with ramen noodles. I think the egg cookers came out when deviled eggs were all the rage (you can't believe how many deviled egg platters there are on eBay). P.S. Isn't it funny how foods are also popular fads? Now everyone is making Amish quickbreads.

IRS to Increase Audits

The money has got to come from somewhere. This article about the tax cuts for the wealthy is proof that Bush's quip about his base - the "Haves and the Have-Mores" is not just a joke.

Bush’s second target, however, may exceed even the mind-boggling $11.6 trillion. The second primary objective is to totally restructure the entire tax code before leaving office. The campaign for the second target kicked off with the release on September 30, 2005 of the final report of Bush’s appointed special Advisory Panel on Tax Reform. Expectations are that the Panel will recommend, and Bush and Congress eventually propose, not only further breaks for the wealthy and corporations but also a scaling back of many of the token tax cuts given to workers and consumers between 2001-04 that were considered politically necessary at the time to ensure passage of tax cuts for the wealthy. In addition, the Panel’s report is expected to launch a fresh, new assault on the few benefits in the federal tax code that working class households have been able to take advantage of for many years—such as home mortgage interest, state and local tax deductions, and deferral of taxes on health insurance premiums.....It is estimated that a full and permanent repeal of the Estate Tax will amount to approximately $1 trillion in lost tax revenue and interest over the next decade, followed by trillions more over subsequent decades.

Hurricane Katrina has recently dealt a wild card into the Estate Tax cut game, however. With what looks like $500 billion needed to rebuild the Gulf Coast, it will be difficult (though not impossible) for pro-corporate/pro-wealth interests to pass another $1 trillion tax cut for the wealthiest 1 percent of taxpayers at the same time.

As a contingency, Bush and the pro-wealth interests in Congress have developed a fall back position nearly as generous in the event permanent repeal is not immediately possible. Led by Republican Senator Jon Kyle of Arizona, an alternate proposal on the table in the Senate at present is to raise the Estate Tax’s exemption immediately to $7 million (or higher) and immediately reduce the 45 percent tax rate to a 15 percent rate equal to the tax on capital gains. That would produce a tax cut for the wealthiest 0.3 percent households of more than $700 billion over the coming decade alone, with more to follow. And even that $700 billion is probably an underestimation, since other provisions in the legislation and before the courts at present will render state-level Estate Tax laws that now exist null and void as well.

However the final results are calculated and whatever the details of the final outcome, it is virtually assured that another multi-trillion dollar tax cut for the wealthiest taxpayers is about to pass within the next 12 months.

American myths

What should be taught in schools - truth (to the best of our knowledge) or tales? I was reading the simple book "I Love Paul Revere, Whether He Rode Or Not" and a few of the falsehoods perpetuated in school are that Betsy Ross made the first flag (or any flag at all), that Francis Scott Key could have seen the flag "by dawn's early light" as he was eight miles away (and hated the war of 1812), that Pilgrims wore austere black clothing (they dressed according to the fashions of the times), that Washington's stint at Valley Forge was uncomfortable (they had lots of food), that the Pilgrims were fleeing religious persecution (they had been living in Holland where they enjoyed complete religious freedom), that Horatio Alger was a role model (he was a pedophile), that Tokyo Rose ever existed. Why NOT teach that Eve was made from a rib? It's all bullshit so why not pile on a little more? They are just cannon fodder and baby machines anyway - who needs thinkers in DAS JESUSLAND?

History of the DuPont Company

The more things change, the more they stay the same. Interesting history of the DuPont Company.


Bush learned a new word and uses it often. As popularity polls plummet, Chimpboy needs to trick voters that he was indeed concerned about us regular Americans so he dragged out the Avian Flu fear. (After all his true compassion was demonstrated by golfing right after Katrina and in the way he an his cronies minimize soldier deaths). Whenever Bush is in trouble, he tries to instill a little fear. By the way, Sparrow Chat had an interesting entry about Rumsfeld's connection to the vaccine production company.

With the threat of major lawsuits for the thimerosal/autism connection, Bush also took the opportunity to threaten us about shortages because the pharmaceutical companies are hampered by lawsuits so the "pandemic" might not be stopped (not mentioning Big Pharma's obscene profits).

I've read a little about the dangers of plagues and it is a frightening story. The real danger is that strains mutate so easily that prevention is very difficult. We saw last year how the flu vaccine was ineffective because the strain that spread was not the one the vaccine addressed. If Bush was really concerned, he would direct money to Asian countries that are trying to stop the spread - not fatten his cronies bank accounts.


I do not have any affection for the Soviet Union KGB, the Sicherheitsdienst (the Nazi intelligence service) or the CIA. In fact, I hate the CIA whether they are torturing prisoners in foreign jails, assassinating elected leaders, organizing inept missions to kill Fidel Castro, (bacteria in his favorite type of cigar, an exploding seashell, and a poisoned wet suit - There were 26 known attempts on the life of Fidel Castro) or dealing drugs to support Contra terrorists.

Rumors persist that the CIA aided the assassins of Che Guevara, orchestrated the overthrow of Chile's Salvador Allende in 1973 and were responsible for the death of the Congo's Patrice Lumumba. CIA also encouraged plots that resulted in assassination of Dominican Republic President Trujillo, South Vietnamese president Ngo Dinh Diem in 63 and Chilean Rene Schneider in 73. The most extensive assassination operation was Operation Phoenix conducted during latter part of Vietnamese war - according to Defense Dept official 26,369 South Vietnamese civilians killed under Phoenix while another 33,358 were detained without trial.

When not assassinating, these jerks are training others to do so - in the US Army School of Americas (SOA), based in Fort Benning, Georgia. Graduates are responsible for some of the worst human rights abuses in Latin America including torture, extortion and execution. Among the SOA's nearly 60,000 graduates are notorious dictators Manuel Noriega and Omar Torrijos of Panama, Leopoldo Galtieri and Roberto Viola of Argentina, Juan Velasco Alvarado of Peru, Guillermo Rodriguez of Ecuador, and Hugo Banzer Suarez of Bolivia. Lower-level SOA graduates have participated in human rights abuses that include the assassination of Archbishop Oscar Romero and the El Mozote Massacre of 900 civilians.

The Taliban and bin Laden were the creation of the CIA who in 1979 recruited the most vicious and radical fundamentalist fanatics from Saudi Arabia and other Arab and Muslim countries and utilized the enormous budget allocated by the US Administration to train, arm and finance them.

The spy aspect of the agency is ineffective and did not predict the 911 disaster or the fall of Russian communism. I don't care that Valerie Plame was outed - I think the whole outfit should be exposed for the criminals they are and the whole agency should be scrapped as it has shown itself to be useless and perhaps dangerous to the US - many of our problems are indeed "blowback" from CIA plots. Secret agencies are essential to totalitarian regimes, not honest democracies. I'm tickled that Tricky Dicky Cheney may yet be in trouble, but all of Bush's administration has claim to so many horrors that should have gotten them in deep doodoo long before this incident. Oh well, the media is a strange observer that concentrates on certain squirrels while the tiger slinks behind their backs.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

A Laugh for the Day

I really like the Snopes site that researches crap on the internet. This made me laugh. To be fair, they should have had a buff male for the gay guys.

Deer Hunting with a Twist

Check this out.