Tuesday, January 29, 2008
Pervez Musharraf, Pakistan Dictator
"I yam an anti-Christ... "
John Lydon (aka Johnny Rotten) of The Sex Pistols, "Anarchy in the UK"
Democracy is a funny thing when it comes to American foreign policy: it's really important. It's really important, that is, except when it's not.
Take, for example, the hissy fit the Bush Team and korporate media has had over Hugo Chavez in Venezuela. He has long been described as a would-be-dictator by these forces, and a recent public referendum had been widely labeled as an attempted constitutional coup. Never mind that he's won 3 elections as El Presidente and one referendum to stay in power, which means he's won four more elections legitimately than Bush ever has. Never mind that a failed plutocratic coup that tried to oust Chavez in 2002 with the Bush Administration's backing was the greatest threat to democracy in Venezuela since he took office. Never mind the public referendum voted on this month was constitutional and was decided by direct democracy: it involved changes in labor and property laws and executive power, including the big contention, removal of term limits for the office of President. Never mind the "controversial" attempted removal of term limits would hardly put it out of the norm of democracies in the Western world. And never mind that after voters legitimately concerned at the increase in executive power proposed (it also would have allowed Chavez to redraw political maps and appoint some local leaders, given him power over the central bank and allowed him to suspend civil liberties during states of emergency) voted against it 51 to 49 percent, Chavez announced: "I understand and accept that the proposal I made was quite profound and intense." So much for Mr. Dictator. But then again, most honest observers would admit the controversy isn't about democracy but of a Latin American leader with a vision for the future in conflict with the neoliberal agenda - and the petrodollars to fund it.
Compare this to the coverage of Mikheil Saakashvili in the nation of Georgia. When he took over in January 2004 after the Rose Revolution (which preceded Ukraine's Orange Revolution) he was widely admired in his country, winning over 96 percent of the vote. He was even more widely admired in the Western media establishment, being an admitted pro-Western politician. Like in the Ukraine, however, it appears he may have bet on the wrong side, and he has fallen from favor. Demonstrations against the government on charges of corruption, assassination and authoritarianism were met with riot police armed with batons, tear gas, rubber bullets and water cannons, as Misha declared a state of emergency. (Boy, that will get rid of those charges of authoritarianism!) Of course, there is more to this story that a Cliff Notes version can do justice (Saakashvili claims, with good justification, that the protests are being financed and promoted by the Kremlin) but it is odd that the disturbing attacks on democratic rights occurring in Georgia right now are not receiving the same outrage in the korporate media as the Chavez referendum. Odd, that is, until one considers Georgia's geographic importance in regards to the Caspian Sea oil reserve.
Or look at Burma. While officially the US government has never been in favor of the dictatorship that has ruled since 1962, opposition has been mild at best. Even after political protests involving Buddhist monks and Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi, the regime hardly has risen on the pundit outrage-o-meter back in the USA. Perhaps that is because the dictatorship has long been friendly to American korporations, most notably Chevron.
Hmm, that's odd: all these examples have oil involved with them, and the side the US is on is coincidentally the side that the oil money is on. In fact, it appears that "democracy" has no importance in deciding which side the US government is on. Iraq under Saddam and Iran under Mahmoud Ahmadinejad: bad. Saudi Arabia: good. Russia under Vlad Putin: bad. Georgia and the Ukraine: good. Venezuela under Hugo Chavez: bad. Burma under General Than Shwe: good.
Perhaps the most naked example of political cynicism in the past month, however, is the case of Pakistan, which is led by General Pervez Musharraf, The Konformist Beast of the Month. This is because there is no question that Pakistan is a dictatorship, and there is no question that the US government supports it despite its lack of democracy.
Pakistan fell into dictatorship in October 1999, which is over eight years ago and back when Britney Spears was still jailbait. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif was ousted by the military coup after he tried to remove Musharraf as Army chief. Instead, Sharif and members of his cabinet were arrested, forcing Sharif in exile to Saudi Arabia. Despite this, Pakistan remains a noted ally to Team America and the Bush Administration.
Of course, even before the 2000 election, Bush was on record as being supportive of Musharraf. Soon after the coup in 1999, Bush was asked to name the new leader of Pakistan and three other world leaders: he could only muster up "Lee" for Taiwan (his full name is Lee Teng-hui.) Despite not scoring well on the quiz if the game was Jeopardy, he had some revealing comments about the leader of Pakistan, declaring, "The new Pakistani general, he's just been elected – not elected, this guy took over office. It appears this guy is going to bring stability to the country and I think that's good news for the subcontinent." So there you have it: Bush in 1999 declared a military coup in Pakistan was good news.
As far as Bush and his minions are concerned, Musharraf is still good news, especially after 9/11. After all, the US needs a friendly neighbor bordering Afghanistan if it wants Operation Enduring Freedom to be a success (even if, as a success, Enduring Freedom has been marginal at best.) So in the name of Freedom, the USA has been in bed with a dictatorship. This continues even after last month, when Musharraf suspended the Constitution and declared martial law through the country, shutting down all private television stations and jailing dissidents. Among those jailed were members of the Supreme Court, including chief justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, who were about to rule that a sham "election" handing Musharraf the presidency was invalid, which apparently led to the state of emergency declaration. Later a kangaroo Supreme Court appointed by Musharraf dismissed all challenges to the election.
The punch line is, as an ally, Pakistan is certifiably two-faced. While officially they support the "War On Terror", they have been a not-so-secret hiding place for Al Qaeda and the Taliban ever since. It is also widely believed that Osama bin Laden, if still actually alive, is hiding in Pakistan (though considering the supposed videos of "bin Laden" speeches in recent years appear to be unconvincing forgeries, his status among the living is rather dubious.) Apparently, a subtle agreement exists between Musharraf and the Al Qaeda-Taliban members: if we give you sanctuary, you agree not to unleash terrorism against Pakistan. Which is understandable, after all: sometimes diplomacy requires one to do business with those you'd prefer not to. It's a shame the Bush Team can't owe up to this obvious truth, and declare that foreign policy is decided by Mammon instead of morality. But that would open up a can of worms, as it would give official evidence that nearly four thousand American soldiers and billions of dollars have been wasted in Iraq over lies.
In any case, we salute Pervez Musharraf as Beast of the Month. Congratulations, and keep up the great work, Pervez!!!
Monday, January 21, 2008
Bob & Harvey's 3-Step "Ohio Plan" for fair and reliable voting and vote counts
Jan 16 2008
by Bob Fitrakis & Harvey Wasserman
America is awash in suspect and stolen elections. Since January, 2001, the nation has been saddled with an unelected chief executive. The consequences have been predictably horrific.
Along the way, three US Senate contests in 2002 and numerous other Congressional and local elections have been subjected to partisan disenfranchisement of qualified voters, and vote counts that smack of theft and fraud.
Even now the primary in New Hampshire is rightly being challenged to do an expensive but necessary recount procedure that could and should have been avoided.
As has been shown in the Free Press and elsewhere through the stolen 2000 and 2004 presidential contests, there are scores of ways by which elections can and have been rigged and ripped off in this new century. And there are scores of cures that can be put forth.
But we believe they can boil down to a basic three:
1. AUTOMATIC VOTER REGISTRATION, WITH SIGNATURE VERIFICATION:
Since the beginning of the American republic, more than 200 years ago, voters have signed their registration forms, then signed again when they came to vote. Falsifying a signature is a felony. All studies indicate that the number of people who vote fraudulently is miniscule.
In recent years, Republican operatives have attempted to hype so-called voter fraud into a major issue. The Bush Administration has fired nine US Attorneys for their failure to find large numbers of people committing this crime.
Nonetheless, the GOP and its minions in the media have hyped this non-problem into a national crisis, whose "solution" is to demand photo ID at the polling stations.
It's well-known that the impact of this demand would be to disenfranchise hundreds of thousands of elderly, indigent, homeless and other citizens, most of whom happen to vote Democratic. A lower court has rightly labeled this requirement to be a "poll tax" which is specifically barred by the 24th Amendment to the US Constitution.
But the US Supreme Court now has at least four members who will vote for anything that serves the partisan interests of the Republican Party. There is a widespread feeling the Court will approve this requirement, with adoption in many states run by the GOP.
During Ohio 2004, and in New Mexico and other swing states, the GOP also found ways to prevent many thousands of voters from registering at all. The list of dirty tricks is too long and insidious to report here. More are being unearthed every day.
The one most likely to surface in a big way in 2008 is the practice of disqualifying voters if the spelling of their name or their middle initial (or lack thereof) somehow varies from the one in the computer-generated registration books. Since the voter rolls in some counties and states have already been privatized, and are being run by partisan for-profit vendors, we can expect widespread, systematic disenfranchisement if this system remains in tact.
Our "Ohio Plan" solution is simple: everyone in the United States should be automatically registered to vote upon turning 18 years old. Forms addressed to election bureaus, with free postage, should be made available in high schools and colleges, at motor vehicle bureaus, social security offices, post offices, union halls, in military recruiting offices and barracks and numerous other locales throughout the nation.
All registration forms, and all polling places, can be festooned with signs warning that fraudulent voting is a felony. No photo ID shall be required at any voting place, only a signature that matches the one on file, and a wide range of less intrusive ID. Innumerable federal, state and government entities from school districts to the IRS know when US citizens turn 18. Ohio allows some 17 different documents to serve as suitable identification at the polls.
Voting is a basic American right. It should be the affirmative duty of the state to promote universal registration and end the bizarre practice of purging voters in a computer age. Short of a death certificate, the few questionable voters can easily be moved to an inactive status instead of purged from the computer database.
2. UNIVERSAL HAND-COUNTED PAPER BALLOTS:
It is by now a public article of faith that electronic voting machines are perfectly designed to steal elections. A recent $1.9 million study for the Ohio Secretary of State has confirmed that an electronic voting machine can be flipped with a magnet and a Blackberry. After reports by the Carter-Baker Commission, the Brennan Center, Princeton University, the Government Accountability Office, the Conyers Committee and many more, even the come-lately New York Times has now deemed touch-screen machines to be eminently hackable.
The country owes a huge debt of gratitude to the grassroots uprising of independent researchers and bloggers that has campaigned so bravely and effectively in the face of a mainstream media intent on ignoring the issue.
Now the Times and others seem to want a "middle ground" with Optiscan machines that run paper ballots through a reader, and even worse, feed them into computerized central tabulators.
We oppose this hackable non-solution. At least two Optiscan scams come quickly to mind. In Toledo, Ohio, inner city wards, Optiscan ballots were improperly calibrated causing a higher rate than normal to be rejected by the reader. Scores of them remain uncounted from the 2004 Ohio presidential election. In fact, most of the 93,000 or so uncounted ballots in Ohio fell under the label “machine rejected.”
In Miami County, Ohio, an Optiscan machine produced phantom votes that couldn't be explained in the final tabulation. See the Free Press article:
Yet Ohio's Secretary of State is poised to order Cuyahoga County (Cleveland)---which overrode citizen objections against spending $20 million on touchscreen voting machines---to now spend an additional $11 million on Optiscan machines to replace them. How long will it take before those Optiscan machines are, in turn, rejected?
The real solution is obvious: use paper ballots, and count them by hand. This is not, of course, fool proof. But it works beautifully in places like Germany and Switzerland, where official vote counts regularly conform to within 0.1% of exit polls.
Hand counted paper ballots could and should work here. In particular, we should reach out to high school and college students in the tradition of democratic public service to facilitate the vote count process.
The "revolutionary concept" of all of us voting on ballots that have the actual name of the candidates on them, with the opportunity to put a visual, tangible "X" next to those we choose, has the merit of obvious simplicity. These ballots can be counted and recounted, with high reliability and no dependence on source codes or incomprehensible computer glitches.
To be sure, ballots can be stolen and manipulated. But there is every indicator the possibility of fraud is still far less than with electronic machines. One can stuff ballots one at a time, so to speak, at the retail level. But computerized voting and tabulation allow for the far more dangerous wholesale shifting of votes and the deadly pre-programming of election results.
It should also be noted that federal law now requires that all election records be retained for 22 months after a federal vote. In Ohio, 56 of 88 county election boards ignored federal law---and a court injunction---and destroyed all or some of their records from the 2004 election, making a meaningful recount essentially impossible. Thus far, no state or federal official has indicated any willingness to do anything about this blatant abuse of federal law.
So meaningful reform will require that federal election laws actually be enforced.
As part of the King-Lincoln civil rights lawsuit (in which we are attorney and plaintiff) extensive research into Ohio 2004 makes it clear that nearly all the electronic records were virtually worthless anyway, and could have been easily manipulated had they been retained.
That would not have been the case had the election been conducted entirely on paper ballots. They are thus the worst alternative we have---except for all the other ones.
3) A THREE-DAY NATIONAL VOTING HOLIDAY, WITH BALLOTS HAND-COUNTED BY STUDENTS:
The current practice of voting on Tuesday was adopted in the 1700s because that was when Americans came to market. We are no longer a farm society, and we need not vote on the first Tuesday following a Monday after final harvest. Today this practice discriminates against working people and is nothing more than an inappropriate, anti-democratic anachronism.
Ohio's Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner has proposed a two-week window for voting. We think three days should suffice. They should be the Friday, Saturday and Sunday nearest to November 11, Veteran's Day. The polls should be staffed by high school and college students, who will then be given that Monday off to count the paper ballots.
The current demand for electronic tabulating has no basis other than the demand by the media for quick results and the demand for great profits (at public expense) by the companies who make these easily hackable machines.
We believe the American public can wait for election results to be accurate and reliable. We also see in this a great civics lesson for our young people. And a reliable way to get a true, democratic outcome from our most critical means of keeping the government accountable and under public control.
Universal voter registration, a ban on electronic voting machines and the requirement for hand-counting of paper ballots can all be done with simple legislation. The three-day voting process is more complex. The requirement that we vote the first Tuesday after November's first Monday is embedded in the Constitution. Changing that would require a Constitutional Amendment. (Voting on Saturday through Tuesday, with vote counting on Wednesday---a five-day process---would not).
Overall, simple as they are, these three simple, practical steps could revolutionize our democratic process and restore control of our government to the people. Which is precisely why we expect the mainstream media, voting machine manufacturers and major parties to heap scorn on them.
We have not addressed the problem of money in politics, proportional voting, or of the corporate media's undemocratic domination of the campaign process.
But this administration has certainly taught us the consequences of having an unelected executive. We must start somewhere.
These three steps will help us at least regain control of the voting process. From there, anything is possible.
Let's vote on it!
Bob Fitrakis & Harvey Wasserman are co-authors of HOW THE GOP STOLE AMERICA'S 2004 ELECTION & IS RIGGING 2008, available at http://www.freepress.org/ , of which Bob is publisher and Harvey is Senior Editor. Their WHAT HAPPENED IN OHIO?, with Steve Rosenfeld, is from the New Press.
Harvey Wasserman is co-author, with Bob Fitrakis and Steve Rosenfeld, of WHAT HAPPENED IN OHIO?, just published by the New Press. He is author of SOLARTOPIA! and HARVEY WASSERMAN'S HISTORY OF THE U.S., available at http://www.harveywasserman.com/ .
January 17, 2008
Jessica Simpson Completes Elaborate Plan To Destroy Cowboys' Season
January 17, 2008 Onion Sports
DALLAS—Speaking to reporters she had invited into her impenetrable subterranean Texas lair on Monday, Jessica Simpson gloated over the victory she recently achieved after nearly two years of using her personal charms, her unique brand of cunning, and every resource at her disposal to meticulously plot the downfall of the Cowboys' 2007 season.
"Ever since I was a little girl growing up in football-obsessed Texas, it's been a dream of mine to completely bring the evil, arrogant Cowboys organization and its boorish and cocky fans to their knees. But the suave and sophisticated players on that team are nigh-unapproachable for a nice country girl like me," Simpson declared from her Throne of Thorns, situated in the surveillance room of her headquarters. "And then I saw Tony. Instantly I knew that he was the weak link, the keystone, the only one for me to exploit."
According to Simpson, her meticulously crafted plan hinged on capturing Romo's interest, artificially inflating his confidence, and allowing the Cowboys to gain success early in the season in order to create an atmosphere of swaggering arrogance among the team. Then, Simpson moved to Phase Beta, playfully distracting them with her ubiquitous, flirtatious presence games by waving, cheering, and attracting media attention. In addition, Simpson spent months analyzing quarterback efficiency, completion rates, and blocking stats, as well as dissecting the tendencies of defenses on second and third downs, and bending over to convince Romo to try out one of her audible calls.
"He's such a kind and honest man," Simpson added. "Such Midwestern earnestness, such gullibility. You couldn't ask for someone dopier to manipulate in order to overthrow this so-called 'America's team.'"
In addition to personally planning each phase of the diabolical plan, Simpson invested vast amounts of money into developing a highly volatile perfume formulated specifically to confuse and dazzle Romo. Created by skilled histological techno-artisans to magnify Simpson's natural pheromones, the quasi-hypnotic scent consisted of citrus blossoms, rose petals, and a complex combination of beetle secretions and the musk glands of Key deer. Simpson estimated the scent reduced Romo's I.Q. by as much as 40 points.
"A few dabs placed on the nape of my neck and Tony's concentration melted when I leaned towards him," the multi-platinum recording artist said. "As a side effect, the soporific effects of the fragrance often forced him to hang on to the ball too long or throw into coverage instead of tossing the ball out of bounds."
Simpson's long-sought opportunity to ruin the Cowboys attempt to return to the Super Bowl arose on Oct. 26, 2006 when, watching the monitors in the control center of her underground compound, she observed unwitting backup quarterback Tony Romo replace the injured Drew Bledsoe. Although Simpson said her ambitious scheme was merely in its embryonic stage at that point, she stated that when she saw Romo's first pass attempt was intercepted, his fate as the pop starlet's hapless pawn was sealed.
Simpson immediately assembled a psychological profile of Romo to discover his desires, fears, and favorite color in order to expose him on the gridiron. Enlisting the services of paparazzi, Simpson offered to tip off the photographers in exchange for them sending reporter colleagues to Romo's hometown of Burlington, WI in order to gather critical information from his friends and neighbors.
"No one could stand in my way," Simpson said. "His biggest fans were tricked into thinking the reporters wanted to write an article about what it was like for Tony to grow up in Burlington. Little did they know that I was obtaining knowledge key to eroding his completion rate."
"The hardest thing was restraining myself since I could have made him melt down a few weeks into the season," Simpson added, claiming that it required a great deal of discipline to stop herself from giving Romo too much pumpkin pie when he spent Thanksgiving with her family. "But I knew if I really wanted to hurt the team and its stupid, slavish fans, I would have to let them get as close as possible and then snatch it away. So I let them make the playoffs."
Although the final phase of Simpson's complex scheme occurred at her remote fortress in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico during the Cowboys' playoff bye week, the full impact of the plan would not be felt until Simpson called Romo at that week's practice every five minutes to apologize for jinxing him. Simpson, who asked the team's secretary to announce her phone calls over the PA system at the Cowboys facilities, credited the move for baffling the team into dropped passes and penalties at critical moments in the division playoff game.
Simpson added that if she has some free time while recording her new country album, she would love the chance to ruin the Pro Bowl for the 12 Cowboys selected.
Spokesman: Bobby Fischer Has Died
By GUDJON HELGASON
REYKJAVIK, Iceland (AP) — Bobby Fischer, the reclusive American chess master who became a Cold War icon when he dethroned the Soviet Union's Boris Spassky as world champion in 1972, has died. He was 64.
Fischer died Thursday in a Reykjavik hospital, his spokesman, Gardar Sverrisson, said. There was no immediate word on the cause of death.
Born in Chicago and raised in Brooklyn, Robert James Fischer was a U.S. chess champion at 14 and a grand master at 15. He beat Spassky in a series of games in Reykjavik to claim America's first world chess championship in more than a century.
The event had tremendous symbolic importance, pitting the intensely individualistic young American against a product of the grim and soulless Soviet Union.
It also was marked by Fischer's odd behavior — possibly calculated psychological warfare against Spassky — that ranged from arriving two days late to complaining about the lighting, TV cameras, the spectators, even the shine on the table.
Spassky said in a brief phone call from France, where he lives, that he was "very sorry" to hear of Fischer's death.
Former Russian chess champion Garry Kasparov said Fischer's conquest of the chess world in the 1960s was "a revolutionary breakthrough" for the game.
But Fischer's reputation as a chess genius soon was eclipsed by his idiosyncrasies. He lost his world title in 1975 after refusing to defend it against Anatoly Karpov. He dropped out of competitive chess and largely out of view, emerging occasionally to make erratic and often anti-Semitic comments, although his mother was Jewish.
"The tragedy is that he left this world too early, and his extravagant life and scandalous statements did not contribute to the popularity of chess," Kasparov told The Associated Press.
Fischer lived in secret outside the United States but emerged in 1992 to confront Spassky again, in a highly publicized match in Yugoslavia. Fischer beat Spassky 10-5 to win $3.35 million.
The U.S. government said Fischer's playing the match violated U.N. sanctions against Yugoslavia, imposed for Serb leader Slobodan Milosevic's role in fomenting war in the Balkans.
Over the years, Fischer gave occasional interviews with a radio station in the Philippines, often digressing into anti-Semitic rants and accusing American officials of hounding him.
He praised the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, saying America should be "wiped out," and described Jews as "thieving, lying bastards." His mother was Jewish.
He also announced he had abandoned chess in 1996 and launched a new version in Argentina, "Fischerandom," a computerized shuffler that randomly distributes chess pieces on the back row of the board at the start of each game.
Fischer claimed it would bring the fun back into the game and rid it of cheats.
In July 2004, Fischer was arrested in Japan and threatened with extradition to the United States to face sanctions-busting charges. He spent nine months in custody before the dispute was resolved when Iceland — a chess-mad nation and site of his greatest triumph — granted him citizenship.
Fischer told reporters that he was finished with a chess world he regarded as corrupt, and sparred with U.S. journalists who asked about his anti-American tirades.
"The United States is evil. There's this axis of evil. What about the allies of evil — the United States, England, Japan, Australia? These are the evildoers," Fischer said.
In his final years, Fischer railed against the chess establishment, alleging that the outcomes of many top-level chess matches were decided in advance.
Instead, he championed his concept of random chess.
"I don't play the old chess," he told reporters upon arrival in Iceland. "But obviously if I did, I would be the best."
Bulldog back on top 10 dog list after 75 years
Wed Jan 16, 2008
By Robert Campbell
NEW YORK (Reuters) - Bolstered by its popularity with celebrities and families, the Bulldog is back on the list of the 10 most popular purebred dogs after a 75-year absence, the American Kennel Club announced on Wednesday.
The Bulldog ranked 10th in the Kennel Club's annual ranking of popular dogs from the 157 different breeds it recognizes.
Topping the list of most popular dogs was the Labrador Retriever -- top dog since 1991 -- followed by the Yorkshire Terrier, the German Shepherd, the Golden Retriever and the Beagle, the Kennel Club said.
The broad-shouldered, stocky Bulldog with its characteristic under-bite and pugnacious gait has long been a mascot of sports teams and military units.
But their docile, even-tempered personality that belies their tough-guy image makes them good pets for families with young children, dog breeders say.
"Their personality is unlike any other dog. They are so expressive. If you look in their eyes you can almost see what they are thinking," said Tammy Hollock, 36, a part-time Bulldog breeder from Delran, New Jersey.
Bulldogs have been growing in popularity with celebrities including U.S. actors Adam Sandler and George Clooney, adding to their public appeal, Hollock said. The breed is the second-most popular dog in Los Angeles, the Kennel Club said.
The growing popularity of the Bulldog has a downside, according to Hollock and officials from the Kennel Club. Bulldogs can suffer from breathing problems and should only be treated by experienced veterinarians.
They are also unable to swim and breeders typically use artificial insemination and Caesarean sections when breeding the dogs to reduce the high risk of injury caused by the large size of the dog's head in proportion to its hips.
The elaborate precautions required when breeding Bulldogs puts the cost of a typical purebred bulldog puppy at $2,800, Hollock said.
Coming in at No. 6 on the Kennel Club list is the Boxer, followed by the Dachshund, the Poodle and the Shih Tzu.
(Editing by Michelle Nichols and Vicki Allen)
U.S. forces Texas city to give up land for border fence
January 16, 2008
WASHINGTON — Landowners and political leaders intensified their opposition to a controversial border fence Wednesday after the Justice Department forced the border city of Eagle Pass, Texas, to relinquish 233 acres of land in a prelude to constructing the barrier.
Eagle Pass Mayor Chad Foster assailed the Bush administration's actions as "sneaky underhanded measures" as he responded to a district court order forcing the city to temporarily turn over the land. The Justice Department sought the property to allow government surveyors to begin assessing sites for construction of the fence.
"We haven't figured out what we did to make the big guy mad," Foster said.
A U.S. district judge in Del Rio, Texas, ruled in favor of the Bush administration as the Department of Homeland Security began pressing ahead with more than 100 lawsuits to begin seizing property from holdout landowners in Texas, Arizona and California in its efforts to construct hundreds of miles of fencing by the end of the year.
DHS spokeswoman Laura Keehner stressed that the lawsuits are designed to give the government temporary access to the land for surveying and site assessment in preparation for construction. At least some of the property, she said, may not wind up as a site for the fence.
"This is just the first step," she said. "There are certain locations where we need to access and survey the land in order to determine where the fence should be built and if so what type."
The DHS is under a congressional mandate to have 670 miles of fencing in place by the end of the year to toughen security on the porous southwestern border. The plan calls for roughly 400 miles of new fencing that will be added to existing barriers.
After months of discussions with municipal officials and protesting landowners, the DHS toughened its stance in December by announcing that it planned to move forward with condemnation proceedings to gain access to the property. The Justice Department suit handled by District Judge Alia Moses Ludlum marked the start of that process.
Foster said Eagle Pass officials were stunned by the development and had no advance notice of the Justice Department intentions. City officials, he said, had been working amicably with the Border Patrol, a branch of the DHS, to help improve enforcement against illegal immigrants.
"We don't know why we got sued," Foster said. He and leaders from other Texas border cities discussed their options in a teleconference but have no plans to file a countersuit, he said. The municipal leaders, he said, hope to meet with Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff later this month.
The leader of CASA, a coalition of border area residents and property owners, said the lawsuit likely would prompt the group to step up its opposition to the fence.
"It's outrageous," said Elizabeth Garcia of Brownsville, Texas. "They're taking away from the people their basic rights."
The umbrella group, which represents 12 organizations and includes at least three holdout landowners, will consult its attorneys to map out possible recourse. Members of the coalition, who have held several demonstrations, also plan "door-to-door" visits in cities along the border to enlist more opponents to the fence.
Rep. Henry Cuellar, a Democrat from the border city of Laredo, Texas, said he understands the anger and frustration along the border but said the DHS is responding to legislation that Congress passed requiring fencing along the border.
"I support the border communities," he said, "but the law's the law."
Mike Friel, a spokesman for U.S. Customs and Border Protection, said government planners are approaching the project with "a sense of urgency" but must first complete environmental and engineering assessments before beginning construction. He declined to speculate on the construction start date.
from the January 19, 2008 edition
CIA blames Al Qaeda, Taliban for Bhutto assassination
Director of CIA says "no reason" to doubt Islamist group's responsibility, echoing findings of Scotland Yard.
By Arthur Bright
According to the CIA, former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto was assassinated by Islamic militants with ties to Al Qaeda and the Taliban, offering new support to similar but criticized assertions made by Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf.
CIA director Michael Hayden told The Washington Post that the agency has concluded that followers of Islamist tribal leader Baitullah Mehsud were responsible for carrying out Mrs. Bhutto's assassination.
"This was done by that network around Baitullah Mehsud. We have no reason to question that," Hayden said. He described the killing as "part of an organized campaign" that has included suicide bombings and other attacks on Pakistani leaders.
Some administration officials outside the agency who deal with Pakistani issues were less conclusive, with one calling the assertion "a very good assumption."
One of the officials said there was no "incontrovertible" evidence to prove or rebut the assessment.
Mr. Hayden added that Mr. Mehsud is receiving support from Al Qaeda, an accusation also asserted by the Pakistani government. The alliance between Mehsud and Al Qaeda, Hayden says, presents a new threat to Pakistan's stability.
"What you see is, I think, a change in the character of what's going on there," he said. "You've got this nexus now that probably was always there in latency but is now active: a nexus between al-Qaeda and various extremist and separatist groups."
Hayden added, "It is clear that their intention is to continue to try to do harm to the Pakistani state as it currently exists."
The Los Angeles Times cites similar comments from a US intelligence official who, speaking anonymously, said, "There is certainly no reason to doubt that [Mehsud] was behind this." Like Hayden, the official did not disclose how the CIA came to such a conclusion. The Times notes that Pakistani officials, including Mr. Musharraf, accused Mehsud largely on the basis of a telephone-call recording in which a man they believe to be Mehsud congratulates a cleric for his followers' success in killing Bhutto. Mehsud has denied involvement in Bhutto's assassination, but he has not yet commented on the recording.
The Times adds that an official in Bhutto's Pakistan People's Party remained skeptical of the CIA's assertions, noting that the agency was unable to examine much of the forensic evidence because both the crime scene and Bhutto's vehicle were "hosed down" shortly after the attack.
"Whoever is now identified as responsible by state sources, we would need to know how they came to any conclusions, as we are uncomfortable with the cover-up that was done on the ground after Ms. Bhutto's assassination," the party official said, speaking on condition of anonymity for fear of retribution by Pakistani officials.
Mehsud, whose followers are also thought to be responsible for an attack Thursday in which insurgents overran a Pakistani fort, is "the premier militant commander" in the Pakistani territory of South Waziristan, writes the BBC in a profile. Mehsud "played a major role" in making South Waziristan into a safe haven for Al Qaeda and the Taliban.
Commander Mehsud makes no bones about this, and says it is in fact the duty of every Muslim to wage jihad against "the infidel forces of America and Britain".
Talking to the BBC in an exclusive interview earlier in 2007, he said the militants were dead set on their goal of freeing Afghanistan through jihad. "Only jihad can bring peace to the world," he said.
The militant leader on several occasions has openly admitted to crossing the [Pakistan-Afghanistan] border to fight foreign troops.
The BBC adds that Mehsud is believed to lead some 20,000 insurgents, the majority of whom belong to the Mehsud tribe, and that Mehsud serves under Taliban commander Jalaluddin Haqqani, who allegedly aided Osama Bin Laden's escape from the Afghan mountain fortress in Tora Bora in 2002.
The US's conclusion that Mehsud was involved in Bhutto's murder echoes that of Scotland Yard, which Musharraf asked to investigate the assassination. The Sunday Times of London wrote last weekend that Scotland Yard found the evidence supported Musharraf's claim that Mehsud was involved.
The gun fired at Bhutto has been checked for fingerprints by the Scotland Yard detectives. A government minister told The Sunday Times that these have been traced through identity cards to a man in Swat, an area where Mehsud's men have been fighting.
"There was no cover-up," he insisted. "It was just unfortunate that in all the shock and confusion at the beginning, people shot their mouths off talking about sunroofs rather than simply saying it would be investigated."
The Times adds, however, that Bhutto's widow, Asif Ali Zardari, rejected Scotland Yard's findings and called for an independent, UN-led investigation into her death.
Bhutto herself in the days before her death dismissed Mehsud as just a pawn of the Pakistani military and intelligence agencies, which she told The Observer were the true threat to Pakistani democracy.
"I'm not worried about [Mehsud],' said Bhutto. 'I'm worried about the threat within the government. People like [Mehsud] are just pawns. It is the forces behind them that have presided over the rise of extremism and militancy in my country. They feel threatened now that their infrastructure will be rolled back when democracy is restored."
How to Make a Deep-Fried Cheese-Stuffed Burger From Bacon
Posted Fri, Jan 11, 2008
Remember the 100% Bacon Burger? No—it didn't have bacon on it; it was made from ground bacon.
Well, its creator, Kirk Draut, who came up with it on his site, Peppers and Smoke, just emailed me saying he wanted to push the envelope for 2008, so he went pretty nuts. He made a cheese-stuffed patty from ground bacon and then DEEP-FRIED IT!
Because I know you might want to try this at home, I've crafted a how-to guide below, inspired by the photo gallery on the creator's site. If you follow it, be sure to be careful when working with hot oil. And, I'm not kidding: Keep a fire extinguisher handy. Just in case!
How-To: Deep-Fried Cheese-Stuffed Cheeseburgers Made From Bacon
Meat grinder (or stand-mixer meat-grinder attachment )
Deep-fryer (or a stockpot with boil basket )
Deep-fry or candy thermometer (preferably one that clips on to side of pot)
1 pound bacon
1 to 2 sticks mozzarella string cheese, cut into small pieces
Packaged beer-batter mix
A neutral-flavored oil, for frying (safflower oil, peanut oil, or vegetable shortening work well)
Your favorite hamburger bun
The cheese of your choice
The condiments of your choice
1. Run the bacon through the meat grinder once—and then a second time, to evenly distribute fat and meat.
2. Form two equal-size patties, making an indentation in the center of one to hold the cheese. Place the cheese in the indentation of the bottom patty, cover with the top patty, and crimp the edges tightly to seal. Make sure seal is tight so cheese does not leak out.
3. Place oil in your deep-fryer, and allow it to come to frying temperature. If you don't have a deep-fryer, use a stockpot with a boil basket, along with a deep-fry thermometer that clips to the side. Heat oil over high heat to 365°F. (Note: Depending on the oil, it will begin to burn between 400 and 450°F and will catch fire around 500°F. So be very careful to monitor temperature.) Once the oil reaches 365°F, reduce heat to low and monitor temperature, keeping oil at 365°F.
4. Meanwhile, prepare the beer-batter mix according to package instructions. Dredge patty in mix. Place patty in boil basket and lower gently into hot oil. Cook until patty's internal temperature registers 160°F on a meat thermometer.
5. Remove from oil, drain on paper towels. Serve on bun, topped with the cheese and condiments of your choice. (Note: Be careful not to bite into this too soon after cooking. The molten cheese could deliver quite a scalding.)
For the original Bacon Burger
Sunday, January 20, 2008
NBC Blocks Kucinich From Debate
By Christopher Kutruff
t r u t h o u t Report
Monday 14 January 2008
Two days after inviting Dennis Kucinich to Tuesday's January 15 presidential debates, NBC decided to change its previously announced criteria and exclude the Ohio congressman.
Friday morning, NBC political director Chuck Todd informed the Kucinich campaign that NBC would be "re-doing" the criteria for the debates and only Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and John Edwards would be included.
Representative Kucinich said he had met the previous qualifications by ranking fourth in several national polls including a January 4-6 USA Today/Gallup poll.
In a Wednesday, January 9, email to the Kucinich campaign, NBC Democratic Party debates consultant Jenny Backus wrote, "Congratulations on another hard-fought contest. Now that New Hampshire is over, we are on to Nevada and our Presidential Debate on Tuesday, January 15. This letter serves as an official invitation for your candidate to participate in the Nevada Presidential Debate at Cashman Theatre in downtown Las Vegas. You have met the criteria set by NBC and the Debate."
The Kucinich campaign filed an emergency complaint earlier with the Federal Communications Commission for being excluded from ABC's coverage of the debates. The congressman said he is considering similar legal action against NBC for its policy reversal.
Despite his long-shot status, Kucinich continues to attract an audience on the campaign trail, which he attributes to "the emerging culture of information technology that's Internet-based. And the other one is the more conventional TV technology which is coming to a clash. And I think they reflect some political trends in this country that maybe aren't getting too much attention. But they are going to have an impact," according to recent comments Kucinich made during an interview with newsman Bill Moyers.
In a recent Democracy for America online survey, Kucinich ranked first with about 32 percent of the vote. The survey, which was not a scientific poll, attracted about 150,000 participants.
Kucinich won the December 23 Virginia Democratic Party's online presidential straw poll, eclipsing Hillary Clinton and gaining about a third of the votes. He has also came out on top of a Washington State straw poll. But despite these signs of momentum, major networks have maintained a separate focus - limiting Kucinich's exposure.
These factors, the Kucinich campaign contends, should allow the congressman to participate in prime-time debates.
Christopher Kutruff is a regular contributor to Truthout.
Poll: California Is Still Clinton Country, Rudy Falls to Third Behind McCain in Statistical Tie with Huckabee
Jon Ponder Jan. 14, 2008
Clinton Leads Obama By 31 Points in Bay Area, the State’s Democratic Stronghold — And By 21 Points in Vote-Rich L.A.
The Clintons have always been popular in California and, according to a new poll from the Los Angeles Times, Politico.com and CNN, that is as true now, with three weeks to go before the Feb. 5 primary, as it has ever been:
Clinton led Obama 47 percent-31 percent among voters judged likely to cast ballots in California. As she did in New Hampshire, where she eked out a win over Obama last Tuesday, Clinton held onto a sturdy margin among Democrats, 47 percent-32 percent. But the New York senator also opened a strong lead — 52 percent-29 percent — among independents, who will be allowed to vote in the Democratic primary … Women supported her over Illinois Sen. Obama by 50 percent-30 percent; men by a slightly smaller 46 percent-32 percent.
In the Bay Area, the most concentrated Democratic area in the state, Clinton led by a 31-point margin, which narrowed to 22 points in the state’s second Democratic bulwark, the Los Angeles area.
On the GOP side, Rudolph Giuliani, the most liberal of the Republican candidates, appears to have lost the comfortable lead he enjoyed for most of the past year:
The Republican race is, at this stage, far more uncertain. Among likely voters, Arizona Sen. McCain was ahead at 20 percent, with Mitt Romney at 16 percent, Rudolph W. Giuliani at 14 percent and Mike Huckabee at 13 percent. The results for all four were within the poll’s margin of error.
Republican voters remain a bit squishy: Six in ten said they might change their mind over the next few weeks. Among Democrats, the number was four in ten.
Topics: Poll, Campaign 2008, California
No Standard Bearer
January 16, 2008; Page A12
Mitt Romney finally won the "gold" yesterday, as he so effusively puts it, and the result is a Republican Presidential battle that is more muddled than ever. The most important story out of Michigan is that Republicans are still looking for a standard bearer.
Mr. Romney has the immediate bragging rights with his victory, salvaging his campaign in the process. He was able to win in his native state, and to do so convincingly among Republican voters of all stripes. He helped himself by stressing the economy in a state that has lagged behind U.S. growth for years, even if he did go over the top with his pandering to the auto industry. Mr. Romney can't stop jobs from leaving the state, no matter how often he claims he can. But the economic message suits the former entrepreneur better than his previous reinventions as a social conservative and a Tom Tancredo immigration restrictionist.
The result is a blow to John McCain, who was coming off a victory in New Hampshire and had won in Michigan in 2000. The Arizona Senator lost again among Republican voters, who seem to admire him as a man but have doubts about him on the issues. It didn't help in Michigan that Mr. Romney could attack Mr. McCain for his support for tougher fuel-economy standards and a "cap and trade" regime on global warming. The Senator's "straight talk" on issues is admirable, but it sometimes has the result of convincing voters they don't agree with him enough to vote for him.
Mike Huckabee's distant third means that he hasn't yet been able to capitalize on his surprising Iowa victory. His political religiosity didn't play well outside of evangelical precincts in either New England or the Midwest, and his attacks on President Bush's foreign policy and corporations have pushed away parts of the GOP coalition.
The candidates now head into Saturday's South Carolina primary for what can only be called a free-for-all. Rudy Giuliani is delighted, because the lack of a clear frontrunner means the race might still be jumbled on January 29 in Florida, where he has staked his claim.
Another winner yesterday was Fred Thompson, who is competitive in South Carolina and is running as the conservative who can unite the GOP's fractious wings. The former Tennessee Senator has laid out an impressive policy map, but he's suffered in early contests because his heart and energy didn't seem to be in the race. That has changed in recent weeks, especially with his pungent, quick-witted debate performances. If he can do better than Messrs. Romney and Huckabee among conservatives, he could surprise in the Palmetto State and give himself a genuine chance at the nomination.
The abiding lesson from the last two weeks is that GOP voters are still sifting the field, searching for their next leader. In their wisdom, the voters are looking for someone who can rise to the occasion.
Corporate elite fear candidate Edwards
Fri Jan 11, 2008
By Kevin Drawbaugh - Analysis
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Ask corporate lobbyists which presidential contender is most feared by their clients and the answer is almost always the same -- Democrat John Edwards.
The former North Carolina senator's chosen profession alone raises the hackles of business people. Before entering politics, he made a fortune as a trial lawyer.
In litigious America, trial lawyers bring lawsuits against companies on behalf of aggrieved individuals and sometimes win multimillion-dollar settlements. Edwards won several.
But beyond his profession, Edwards' tone and language on the campaign trail have increased business antipathy toward him. His stump speeches are peppered with attacks on "corporate greed" and warnings of "the destruction of the middle class."
He accuses lobbyists of "corrupting the government" and says Americans lack universal health care because of "drug companies, insurance companies and their lobbyists."
Despite not winning the two state nominating contests completed so far, with 48 to go, Edwards insists he is in the race to stay. An Edwards campaign spokesman said on Thursday that inside-the-Beltway operatives who fight to defend the powerful and the privileged should be afraid.
"The lobbyists and special interests who abuse the system in Washington have good reason to fear John Edwards.
"Once he is president, the interests of middle class families will never again take a back seat to corporate greed in Washington," said campaign spokesman Eric Schultz.
Open attacks on the business elite are seldom heard from mainstream White House candidates in America, despite skyrocketing CEO pay, rising income inequality, and a torrent of scandals in corporate boardrooms and on Wall Street.
But this year Edwards is not alone. Republican candidate Mike Huckabee, former governor of Arkansas, sometimes also rails against corporate power and influence, tapping a populist current that lies just below the surface of U.S. politics.
One business lobbyist, who asked not to be named, said Edwards "has gone to this angry populist, anti-business rhetoric that borders on class warfare ... He focuses dislike of special interests, which is out there, on business."
Another lobbyist said an Edwards presidency would be "a disaster" for his well-heeled industrialist clients.
After this week's New Hampshire primaries, where he placed a distant third behind New York Sen. Hillary Clinton and Illinois Sen. Barack Obama, Edwards might not seem so scary. He ran second in the Iowa Democratic caucuses last week, trailing Obama and just ahead of Clinton.
Edwards suffered a blow on Thursday when Massachusetts Democratic Sen. John Kerry snubbed him and endorsed Obama. Edwards was Kerry's vice-presidential running mate in Kerry's failed Democratic bid for the White House in 2004.
BUSINESS'S FAVORITE UNCLEAR
Asked which candidate their clients most support, corporate lobbyists were unsure. Clinton has cautious backing within the corporate jet set, as do Arizona Republican Sen. John McCain and former Republican Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, they said.
These candidates represent stability to executives who have much to lose if November's election brings about the sweeping change some candidates are promising.
Obama and Huckabee register largely as unknown quantities among business owners, both large and small, say lobbyists.
"My sense is that Obama would govern as a reasonably pragmatic Democrat ... I think Hillary is approachable. She knows where a lot of her funding has come from, to be blunt," said Greg Valliere, chief political strategist at Stanford Group Co., a market and policy analysis group.
But Edwards, Valliere said, is seen as "an anti-business populist" and "a trade protectionist who is quite unabashed about raising taxes."
"I think his regulatory policies, as well as his tax policies, would be viewed as a threat to business," he said.
"The next scariest for business would be Huckabee because of his rhetoric and because he's an unknown."
(Reporting by Kevin Drawbaugh; editing by John Wallace)
Obama, Clinton tied in 2008 Democratic race
By John Whitesides, Political Correspondent
Wed Jan 16, 2008
Barack Obama has erased a once substantial deficit to climb into a virtual tie with Hillary Clinton in the Democratic presidential race, according to a Reuters/Zogby poll released on Wednesday.
Among Republicans, John McCain charged to the front of a shifting presidential field, shooting past Mike Huckabee and a fading Rudy Giuliani as the opening contests of the 2008 White House campaign dramatically reshaped the races in both parties.
Heading into potentially crucial contests in Nevada, South Carolina and Florida, the campaign to choose candidates for the November election to succeed President George W. Bush has shown deep volatility.
Wins in Iowa by Obama, an Illinois senator, and Huckabee, a former Arkansas governor, gave both candidates jolts of momentum in the race.
But the momentum was short-lived as New Hampshire comeback wins by Clinton, a New York senator, and McCain, an Arizona senator, five days later set up potentially lengthy Democratic and Republican nominating battles.
"This the definition of a hard-fought race," pollster John Zogby said.
The poll was taken on Thursday and Friday, before Tuesday's Michigan Republican primary, in which former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney beat McCain by 39 percent to 30 percent. Huckabee came in third with 16 percent.
Democrats also held a primary in Michigan but a dispute over the date of the vote led the national party to strip the state of its delegates to this summer's presidential nominating convention, making the contest meaningless.
The survey found only marginal support for a potential independent candidacy by New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who has flirted with the idea of a third-party run for the White House while officially denying any interest.
Clinton, a former first lady who would be the first woman U.S. president, held a 21-point edge over Obama in October. He cut that to 8 points by last month, and the new survey gave her a 39 percent to 38 percent edge.
Her 1-point lead was well within the poll's margin of error of 4.7 percentage points.
Obama, who would be the first black U.S. president, and Clinton were essentially deadlocked among a variety of groups, including men, women, Democrats and independents. Obama led substantially, 65 percent to 15 percent, among black voters.
Obama barely led among voters under age 24, a substantial drop in support from last month, but led Clinton among voters aged 55 to 69, normally one of her strengths.
"This is an unbelievably close race at almost every level," Zogby said.
Former North Carolina Sen. John Edwards, the only other major Democratic contender still in the race, was a distant third at 9 percent in the national poll.
Among Republicans, McCain led Huckabee by 28 percent to 23 percent as the pair took advantage of their wins in the first two nominating contests.
It was a 16-point jump for McCain from last month and a one-point increase for Huckabee, who had already begun his climb by mid-December.
"Clearly this is a post-Iowa, post-New Hampshire bounce," Zogby said.
Huckabee, an ordained Baptist minister whose rise has been fueled by support from religious conservatives, led 34 percent to 22 percent among those who described themselves as "born-agains."
McCain led among independents 45 percent to 13 percent and among moderates by 53 percent to 13 percent, while McCain and Huckabee tied among Republican voters.
In third place was former Tennessee Sen. Fred Thompson at 14 percent, with former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney at 13 percent.
All of them shot past Giuliani, the leader in national polls for much of the year. His support has been steadily dropping, from 29 percent in November to 23 percent last month and just 9 percent this month.
The slide has raised questions about Giuliani's strategy of bypassing the early voting states to concentrate on Florida's January 29 primary and the February 5 "Super Tuesday" round of 22 state contests.
"This is what happens in a sequential process when you don't win," Zogby said. "You have to win somewhere and he hasn't."
The national survey had Republican Rep. Ron Paul at 4 percent and California Rep. Duncan Hunter at less than 1 percent.
Asked about Bloomberg, about 60 percent said it was very unlikely they would support the New York mayor, with another 16 percent saying it was somewhat unlikely. Just 4 percent said it was very likely they would back him, with 15 percent saying it was somewhat likely.
The poll surveyed 459 likely Democratic primary voters and 427 likely Republican primary voters, with a margin of error of plus or minus 4.7 percentage points for Democrats and 4.8 percentage points for Republicans.
(Editing by David Wiessler)
(For more about the U.S. political campaign, visit Reuters "Tales from the Trail: 2008" online at http://blogs.reuters.com/trail08/)
Voter ID scam is the real fraud
January 14, 2008
If the U.S. Supreme Court upholds Indiana's harsh voter ID law, as its justices seem poised to do, hundreds of thousands of black Americans should march in protest. So should hundreds of thousands of Latino Americans. Native Americans, too. Political activists from across the ethnic spectrum should convene the biggest political demonstration since the historic March on Washington in 1963.
Where is the Rev. Al Sharpton when a genuinely critical issue comes along? Where's the Rev. Jesse Jackson?
The GOP-led campaign to pass stringent voter ID laws is a greater injustice than the prosecutions of the Jena Six, more significant than the incarceration of Michael Vick, more damaging than the insulting rants of Don Imus. This is a frankly brazen effort to block the votes of thousands of people of color who might have the temerity to vote for Democrats. And it's un-American.
As happened in several states, including Georgia, the then-GOP-dominated Indiana legislature pushed through a rigid law in 2005 requiring state-sponsored photo IDs at the ballot box. While the Republican spin machine has worked mightily to portray this as an effort to curb voter fraud, it is no such thing. There has never - never - been a single case of "voter impersonation" at the ballot box, with a fake voter using an electric bill or phone bill to pretend to be a valid voter.
Earlier this month, radio journalist Warren Olney pressed Indiana Secretary of State Todd Rokita about the prosecution of voter impersonation cases in Indiana. "Oh, yeah. We suspect it happens all the time," Mr. Rokita said. "Suspect?" Mr. Olney countered.
"Well, are you saying you want to define whether or not there's fraud based on whether or not its prosecuted?" Mr. Rokita answered, adding, "It's a hard type of crime to catch. ... It's hard to catch one in the act."
OK, then. Got that? It's a little like the search for life on other planets. Extraterrestrials are out there, even if none has actually been spotted.
(If Republicans were interested in actual voter fraud, they would have tightened the rules for absentee ballots, since that's where most voter fraud occurs. But because Republican voters tend to favor absentee ballots, many GOP-dominated legislatures have made absentee balloting rules less stringent.)
But there is evidence aplenty of this: There are thousands of law-abiding registered voters across the land who have no government-sponsored ID - no passport, no driver's license - and who will be banned from the ballot box if the highest court upholds this highly partisan law. It is difficult for middle-class citizens to believe, I know. If you live inside the comfortable economic mainstream, where taking airplane trips and renting DVDs is a routine part of life, you can't imagine voters without a state-sponsored photo ID.
But they're out there. Just ask Mary-Jo Criswell, 71. Her ballot was thrown out when she showed up at her Indiana polling place expecting to use the same forms of ID, including a bank card with a photo, that she had used in the past. She has epilepsy, she says, so she has never had a driver's license.
Citizens like Ms. Criswell are Americans, too, and they have every right to vote. It is elitism, pure and simple, to suggest requiring them to obtain a state-sponsored photo ID is a "minor inconvenience." But that's exactly what Justice Anthony M. Kennedy called it during oral arguments, noting that the law is expected to affect only a small percentage of voters.
That's true. The GOP is aiming at a small pool of voters - mostly poor, often elderly, usually black or brown - who lack driver's licenses. As it happens, they tend to support Democrats. With so many elections decided by a margin of a few hundred votes, Republicans figure they can stay in power by blocking just a few Democratic ballots.
But the Republicans could be in for a jolt. The electorate seems much more excited about Democratic candidates this year. The Democratic presidential candidates have topped the Republicans in fundraising, and in early primary states, more Democratic ballots have been cast than Republican ones.
The way things are going, Republicans running for national office could lose by a lot of votes - not a few. So they'll need a new scam to win elections.
Cynthia Tucker is editorial page editor for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Her column appears Mondays in The Sun. Her e-mail is firstname.lastname@example.org.
Jan 18 2008
Dr. Phil Apologizes For Britney Spears Visit
'Was it helpful to the situation? Regrettably, no,' TV personality tells audience in show airing Monday.
By Gil Kaufman
Dr. Phil is sorry. The TV physician has issued a statement apologizing for his controversial visit with Britney Spears while the singer was in the hospital on January 5, as well as a subsequent press release he issued about the incident.
"Was it helpful to the situation? Regrettably, no. It was not, and I have to acknowledge that, and I do," Phil McGraw told his audience Thursday during an episode of Dr. Phil that will run Monday, according to USA Today. "I definitely think if I had it to do over again, I probably wouldn't make any statement at all. Period."
McGraw said he issued an earlier statement about the visit to Entertainment Tonight because he knew the media would see him arriving at the hospital, and disputed criticism that he inappropriately discussed the troubled singer's condition in the release, in which he referred to her as being in "dire need of both medical and psychological intervention." Phil explained in the new statement that he "said that before I ever met her." Asked if he would make a similar visit at the request of concerned parents in the future, he said, "How do you not?"
A complaint was filed against McGraw earlier this week that accused him of violating the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act. The complaint alleges Dr. Phil practiced clinical psychology without a license and further violated doctor-patient privilege by discussing the pop star's case with the media. Although the California Board of Psychology is compelled to investigate all complaints, this one might not have much ground: According to state regulators, McGraw would have had to practice psychology in the legal sense, which is clearly defined in Section 2903 of the California Business and Professions Code, and he has stressed that he visited Spears as a family friend.
Wham-O toymaker Richard Knerr dies at 82
Thu Jan 17, 2008
Richard Knerr, co-founder of the toy company that popularized the Hula Hoop, Frisbee and other fads that became classics, has died. He was 82.
Knerr, who started Wham-O in 1948 with his childhood friend Arthur "Spud" Melin, died Monday at Methodist Hospital after suffering a stroke earlier in the day at his Arcadia home, his wife Dorothy told the Los Angeles Times.
Knerr and Melin got their start in business peddling slingshots. They named their enterprise Wham-O after the sound a slingshot made when it hit its target.
They branched into other sporting goods, including boomerangs and crossbows, then added toys that often bore such playful names as the Superball, Slip 'N Slide and Silly String.
When a friend told them in 1958 about a large ring used for exercise in Australia, they devised their own version and called it the Hula Hoop.
Around the same time, they bought the rights to a plastic flying disc invented by Walter "Fred" Morrison, who called it the Pluto Platter. Wham-O bought the rights and renamed it the Frisbee.
The rest is amusement history.
"If Spud and I had to say what we contributed, it was fun," Knerr told the Times in 1994. "But I think this country gave us more than we gave it. It gave us the opportunity to do it."
Melin died in 2002 at age 77.
Besides his wife, Knerr is survived by three children from a first marriage that ended in divorce, two stepchildren, and eight grandchildren.
Services will be private.
Better Kiss Your Abe 'Goodbye'
by Greg Palast
Wednesday, January 16, 2008
Bend over, pull out your wallet and kiss your Abe ‘goodbye.’ The Lincolns have got to go - and so do the Hamiltons and Jacksons.
Those bills in your billfold aren’t yours anymore. The landlords of our currency - Citibank, the national treasury of China and the House of Saud - are foreclosing and evicting all Americans from the US economy.
It’s mornings like this, when I wake up hung-over to photos of the King of Saudi Arabia festooning our President with gold necklaces, that I reluctantly remember that I am an economist; and one with some responsibility to explain what the hell Bush is doing kissing Abdullah’s camel.
Let’s begin by stating why Bush is not in Saudi Arabia. Bush ain’t there to promote ‘Democracy’ nor peace in Palestine, nor even war in Iran. And, despite what some pinhead from CNN stated, he sure as hell didn’t go to Riyadh to tell the Saudis to cut the price of oil.
What’s really behind Bush’s hajj to Riyadh is that America is in hock up to our knickers. The sub-prime mortgage market implosion, hitting a dozen banks with over $100 billion in losses, is just the tip of the debt-berg.
Since taking office, Bush has doubled the federal debt to more than $5 trillion. And, according to US Treasury figures, on net, foreign investors have purchased close to 100% of that debt. That’s $3 trillion borrowed from the Saudis, the Chinese, the Japanese and others.
Now, Bush, our Debt Junkie-in-Chief, needs another fix. The US Treasury, Citibank, Merrill-Lynch and other financial desperados need another hand-out from Abdullah’s stash. Abdullah, in turn, gets this financial juice by pumping it out of our pockets at nearly $100 a barrel for his crude.
Bush needs the Saudis to charge us big bucks for oil. The Saudis can’t lend the US Treasury and Citibank hundreds of billions of US dollars unless they first get these US dollars from the US. The high price of oil is, in effect, a tax levied by Bush but collected by the oil industry and the Gulf kingdoms to fund our multi-trillion dollar governmental and private debt-load.
The US Treasury is not alone in its frightening dependency on Arabian loot. America’s private financial institutions are also begging for foreign treasure. Yesterday, King Abdullah’s nephew, Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, already the top individual owner of Citibank, joined the Kuwait government’s Investment Authority and others to mainline a $12.5 billion injection of capital into the New York bank. Also this week, the Abu Dhabi government and the Saudi Olayan Group are taking a $6.6 billion chunk of Merrill-Lynch. It’s no mere coincidence that Bush is in Abdullah’s tent when the money-changers made the deal just outside it.
Bush is there to assure Abdullah that, unlike Dubai’s ports purchase debacle, there will be no political impediment to the Saudi’s buying up Citibank nor the isle of Manhattan.
So what? I mean, for the average American about to lose their job and their bungalow it doesn’t matter a twit whether it’s Sheik bin Alwaleed who owns Citibank or Sheik Sanford Weill, Citi’s past Chairman.
It’s the price paid to buy back our money from abroad that’s killing us. Despite the Koranic prohibition on charging interest, the Gulf princes demand their pound of flesh, exacting a 7% payment from Citibank and 9% from Merrill. That hefty interest bill then pushes adjustable rate mortgages into the stratosphere and pushes manufacturing into China by making borrowing and energy costs impossible to overcome. Forget the cost of health care: General Motors’ interest burden quintupled in just two years.
As the great economist Paddy Chayefsky wrote in the film The Network:
“The Arabs have taken billions of dollars out of this country, and now they must put it back. … It is ebb and flow, tidal gravity…. There are no nations, there are no peoples. There is only one vast and immense, interwoven, multi-national dominion of petro-dollars. … There is no America. There is no ‘democracy.’ The world is a business, one vast and ecumenical holding company, for whom all men will work.”
In 2005, the US consumer paid Arab and OPEC nations a quarter trillion dollars ($252 billion) for oil - and the USA received back 100% of it - and then some ($311 billion) via Gulf nations’ investment in US Treasury bills and purchases of US businesses and property. Bush’s trip to Abdullah’s tent is all about this vast business of keeping this petro-dollar treadmill spinning.
The Bush Administration, rather than tax Americans to cover our deficits or make the banks suffer the consequences of their predatory lending practices, is allowing the Saudis to charge us big time at the pump with the understanding they will lend it all back to us - so the party never has to stop.
It has been reported that the President’s Secret Service men traveling with him seemed embarrassed by the eye-popping loads of diamond and gold gifts which they have to carry back for President Bush. They need not feel they have taken too much from their hosts: Bush has assured Abdullah that the King can suck it back out through our gas tanks.
Greg Palast is the author of The Network: The World as a Company Town, in the New York Times bestseller, Armed Madhouse. Hear Ed Asner read from the book and the film ‘The Network’ at http://www.gregpalast.com/
Dozens in Texas town report seeing UFO
By ANGELA K. BROWN, Associated Press Writer
Mon Jan 14, 2008
In this farming community where nightfall usually brings clear, starry skies, residents are abuzz over reported sightings of what many believe is a UFO.
Several dozen people — including a pilot, county constable and business owners — insist they have seen a large silent object with bright lights flying low and fast. Some reported seeing fighter jets chasing it.
"People wonder what in the world it is because this is the Bible Belt, and everyone is afraid it's the end of times," said Steve Allen, a freight company owner and pilot who said the object he saw last week was a mile long and half a mile wide. "It was positively, absolutely nothing from these parts."
While federal officials insist there's a logical explanation, locals swear that it was larger, quieter, faster and lower to the ground than an airplane. They also said the object's lights changed configuration, unlike those of a plane. People in several towns who reported seeing it over several weeks have offered similar descriptions of the object.
Machinist Ricky Sorrells said friends made fun of him when he told them he saw a flat, metallic object hovering about 300 feet over a pasture behind his Dublin home. But he decided to come forward after reading similar accounts in the Stephenville Empire-Tribune.
"You hear about big bass or big buck in the area, but this is a different deal," Sorrells said. "It feels good to hear that other people saw something, because that means I'm not crazy."
Sorrells said he has seen the object several times. He said he watched it through his rifle's telescopic lens and described it as very large and without seams, nuts or bolts.
Maj. Karl Lewis, a spokesman for the 301st Fighter Wing at the Joint Reserve Base Naval Air Station in Fort Worth, said no F-16s or other aircraft from his base were in the area the night of Jan. 8, when most people reported the sighting.
Lewis said the object may have been an illusion caused by two commercial airplanes. Lights from the aircraft would seem unusually bright and may appear orange from the setting sun.
"I'm 90 percent sure this was an airliner," Lewis said. "With the sun's angle, it can play tricks on you."
Officials at the region's two Air Force bases — Dyess in Abilene and Sheppard in Wichita Falls — also said none of their aircraft were in the area last week. The Air Force no longer investigates UFOs.
One man has offered a reward for a photograph or videotape of the mysterious object.
About 200 UFO sightings are reported each month, mostly in California, Colorado and Texas, according to the Mutual UFO Network, which plans to go to the 17,000-resident town of Stephenville to investigate.
Fourteen percent of Americans polled last year by The Associated Press and Ipsos say they have seen a UFO.
Erath County Constable Lee Roy Gaitan said that he first saw red glowing lights and then white flashing lights moving fast, but that even with binoculars could not see the object to which the lights were attached.
"I didn't see a flying saucer and I don't know what it was, but it wasn't an airplane, and I've never seen anything like it," Gaitan said. "I think it must be some kind of military craft — at least I hope it was."
Source of Mysterious Antimatter Found
Charles Q. Choi
Special to SPACE.com
Fri Jan 11, 2008
Antimatter, which annihilates matter upon contact, seems to be rare in the universe. Still, for decades, scientists had clues that a vast cloud of antimatter lurked in space, but they did not know where it came from.
The mysterious source of this antimatter has now been discovered — stars getting ripped apart by neutron stars and black holes.
While antimatter propulsion systems are so far the stuff of science fiction, antimatter is very real.
What it is
All elementary particles, such as protons and electrons, have antimatter counterparts with the same mass but the opposite charge. For instance, the antimatter opposite of an electron, known as a positron, is positively charged.
When a particle meets its antiparticle, they destroy each other, releasing a burst of energy such as gamma rays. In 1978, gamma ray detectors flown on balloons detected a type of gamma ray emerging from space that is known to be emitted when electrons collide with positrons — meaning there was antimatter in space.
"It was quite a surprise back then to discover part of the universe was made of antimatter," researcher Gerry Skinner, an astrophysicist at Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., told SPACE.com.
These gamma rays apparently came from a cloud of antimatter roughly 10,000 light-years across surrounding our galaxy's core. This giant cloud shines brightly with gamma rays, with about the energy of 10,000 suns.
What exactly generated the antimatter was a mystery for the following decades. Suspects have included everything from exploding stars to dark matter.
Now, an international research team looking over four years of data from the European Space Agency's International Gamma Ray Astrophysics Laboratory (INTEGRAL) satellite has pinpointed the apparent culprits. Their new findings suggest these positrons originate mainly from stars getting devoured by black holes and neutron stars.
As a black hole or neutron star destroys a star, tremendous amounts of radiation are released. Just as electrons and positrons emit the tell-tale gamma rays upon annihilation, so too can gamma rays combine to form electrons and positrons, providing the mechanism for the creation of the antimatter cloud, scientists think.
Billions and billions
The researchers calculate that a relatively ordinary star getting torn apart by a black hole or neutron star orbiting around it — a so-called "low mass X-ray binary" — could spew on the order of one hundred thousand billion billion billion billion positrons (a 1 followed by 41 zeroes) per second. These could account for a great deal of the antimatter that scientists have inferred, reducing or potentially eliminating the need for exotic explanations such as ones involving dark matter.
"Simple estimates suggest that about half and possibly all the antimatter is coming from X-ray binaries," said researcher Georg Weidenspointner of the Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics in Germany.
Now that they have witnessed the death of antimatter, the scientists hope to see its birth.
"It would be interesting if black holes produced more matter than neutron stars, or vice versa, although it's too early to say one way or the other right now," Skinner explained. "It can be surprisingly hard to tell the difference between an X-ray binaries that hold black holes and neutron stars."
Weidenspointner, Skinner and their colleagues, detailed their findings in the Jan. 10 issue of the journal Nature.
Israeli conductor 'now Palestinian'
Published: 14 January 2008
Daniel Barenboim, the world renowned Israeli pianist and conductor, has taken Palestinian citizenship and said he believed his rare new status could serve a model for peace between the two peoples.
"It is a great honour to be offered a passport," he said on Saturday night after a Beethoven piano recital in Ramallah, the West Bank city where he has been active for some years in promoting contact between young Arab and Israeli musicians.
"I have also accepted it because I believe that the destinies of ... the Israeli people and the Palestinian people are inextricably linked," Barenboim said. "We are blessed - or cursed - to live with each other. And I prefer the first."
"The fact that an Israeli citizen can be awarded a Palestinian passport, can be a sign that it is actually possible."
Former Palestinian Information Minister Mustafa Barghouthi, who helped organise Saturday's concert, said the passport had been approved by the previous government of which he was a member and which was replaced in June. The passport had actually been issued about six weeks ago, he added.
Argentine-born Barenboim, 65, is a controversial figure in his adoptive homeland, both for his promotion of German music and vocal opposition to Israel's occupation of the West Bank.
Asked about US President George W. Bush's remarks last week on a visit to the region that a peace could be signed this year, Barenboim warned of the danger of raising hopes too high.
"It would be absolutely horrible if now, with good intentions, expectations are raised which will not be able to be fulfilled," Barenboim said. "Then we will sink into an even greater depression."
Though he dismissed any wish to play a political role, the former music director of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra took a dig at Bush's strikingly forceful call in Jerusalem last week for Israel to end, in the president's own words, "the occupation".
"Now even not very intelligent people are saying that the occupation has to be stopped," Barenboim said.
Based in Berlin, he is closely identified with German music and in 2001 conducted an opera by 19th-century composer Richard Wagner in Jerusalem despite anger in some quarters at a performance of a work by a German accused of anti-Semitic views.
For the past decade, Barenboim has promoted Arab-Israeli cultural contacts, notably alongside the late Palestinian-American writer Edward Said.
Tuesday, December 18, 2007
Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush does a little business with a New York bank. Next thing you know, Florida taxpayers are holding the bag for billions.
Corruption, thy name is Bush! This story has the makings of another Carl Hiaasen novel. All it still needs is a sexy blonde and a fisherman who finds his bone-fishing grounds occupied by a politician fellating a banker.
Remarkably, it appeared here on Bloomberg.com.
The nub of it
Here are a few choice excerpts from the Bloomberg News story:
Jeb Bush, who incorporated Jeb Bush & Associates in February 2007, a month after completing his second term [as Governor], had been hired as a consultant to Lehman Brothers in June. Bush is the brother of President George W. Bush.
`Do Something Quickly'
In November, school districts and local agencies that kept their cash in the state pool rushed to withdraw $12 billion, or 46 percent, of the money in the fund. On Nov. 29, the state froze the fund to stop all withdrawals. ``If we don't do something quickly, we're not going to have an investment pool,'' [Carl] Stipanovich [executive director of the state board of administration] told the board that day.
Until November, the Florida pool was the largest public money market fund in the U.S. It held cash for about 1,000 school districts, towns and local agencies in Florida.
Stipanovich resigned on Dec. 4. He declined to comment.
What Stipanovich, 58, hadn't told his boss, Florida Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink, was that Lehman Brothers was the same firm that had sold the state fund $842 million of mortgage- backed debt in July and August. Those securities defaulted within four months, and totaled more failing debt than any other bank sold the state, Florida records show. `
`At the time, I never knew it was Lehman Brothers that actually sold us these investments,'' Sink says.
Florida CFO Sink is riled up about more than Stipanovich. She says JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Lehman Brothers were offloading tainted debt on Florida and other states at a time when those assets were plummeting in value.
So now, if you’re still following all this:
Ex-governor Bush, the President's brother with deep political ties in Florida, sets up a consulting business. Lehman becomes his client. Next thing you know, the taxpayers are stuck with a bunch of nearly worthless paper from Lehman. The public is screwed.
You don’t suppose George Bush’s new U.S. Attorney General appointee, Michael Mukasey, will bring corruption charges, against Jeb, do you?
Nah, I don’t think so either.
New York Senator Charles Schumer (Democrat), who rammed Mukasey’s approval through the senate, please take note. After all, the AG is now your boy.
Labels: Banks, corruption, Florida, Jeb Bush, public funds
Friday, January 18, 2008
The polio vaccine, AIDS, and their US-made viruses
By Jerry Mazza
Online Journal Associate Editor
Jan 11, 2008
When I was a teenager growing up in Brooklyn, my parents warned me every summer to stay away from public pools or taking any chances running under opened fire hydrants to cools us from the brick-and-tar baking heat. Their fear was the epidemic of polio that haunted the US -- 52,000 cases in 1952 alone. My parents worried that polio “germs” could be carried in the highly used and abused public waters.
Yet in April 1955, in my 17th year, lo and behold Dr. Jonas Salk, a funny looking guy from Pittsburgh, announced from the University of Michigan that he had developed a polio vaccine for distribution. Eureka. Thousands of families like mine flooded to the local doctors, clinics, and hospitals. It seemed all those rosaries my friends’ mothers and mine gave up to the Holy Mother paid off. But did they?
As William Carlsen reports in his SFGATE article “Rogue virus in the vaccine:” Salk’s vaccine was produced by actually growing live polio virus on kidney tissue from the Asian rhesus monkey. The virus was then killed with formaldehyde. Thus, when the vaccine was injected in humans, the dead virus generated antibodies that could fend off live polio. What a simple, beautiful idea. Or so it seemed.
What the millions of people who were injected didn’t know, nor would they until 1959, when Bernice Eddy, looking in her microscope at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), found that monkey kidney cells, the very same kind used to make the vaccine, were dying with no known cause. So she experimented.
She prepared extracts from kidneys from eight to 10 rhesus monkeys. She then injected tiny amounts beneath the skin of 23 newborn hamsters. In nine months, “large, malignant, subcutaneous tumors” showed up on 20 of the animals -- and the world shook. Or did it?
Eddy tried to spread the word
Horrified that a monkey virus could be contaminating the famous polio vaccine, on July 6, 1960, Eddy shared her findings with Dr. Joseph Smadel, chief of NIH’s biologics division, who summarily dismissed the tumors as harmless “lumps.” Meanwhile at a Pennsylvania Merck lab, Dr. Maurice Hilleman and Dr. Ben Sweet isolated the virus. They named it Simian Virus 40 or SV40 for being the 40th virus found in rhesus kidney tissue. So much for miracle drugs.
Nevertheless, by then we seemed to be winning the polio war. Sixty percent of the population, some 98 million Americans, had gotten at least one shot of the Salk vaccine and the number of cases was diving downwards.
Concurrently, an oral polio vaccine developed by virologist Albert Sabin was in its final trials in Russia and Eastern Europe. Tens of millions of people had been given it, and it was ready to be licensed in the US. Its big difference was that unlike the Salk vaccine, Sabin’s version contained a live but weakened form of polio virus that “promised” lifelong immunity.
Fortunately, US Public Health Service (PHS) officials had conducted tests and found SV40 in both the Sabin and Salk vaccines. The US PHS estimated that a third of the Salk vaccine was tainted, and that SV40 was causing cancer in lab animals. Picture the corporate and government panic at this news, which was less than mildly shared with the public.
Early in 1961, PHS officials met quietly with the agency’s top vaccine advisers. Strangely, the agency found no evidence the virus had been harmful to humans. Yet in March, officials ordered manufacturers to eliminate SV40 from all future vaccine. New plans to neutralize the tainted polio virus seed stock were adopted and SV40-free African green monkeys were used to make the bulk vaccine instead of rhesus monkeys. More monkey business.
Amazingly, officials didn’t recall the contaminated Salk vaccine, that is, more than a year’s supply. It stayed in the hands of the country’s doctors. And they didn’t notify the public of the contamination and SV40’s effect on new born hamsters. Their strange reasoning was that any negative information could start a panic and put the vaccination campaign in danger. What about the millions of people who took the vaccines? Weren’t they being put in danger?
The first disclosure
The Salk vaccine contamination story crept on cat’s feet on July 26, 1961, onto page 33 of the New York Times. It reported Merck and other manufacturers had halted production until they could get “monkey virus” out of the vaccine. Asked for comments, the US PHS said there was no evidence the virus was dangerous. Except, of course, to the 20 baby hamsters it blew away.
In 1962, a Harvard epidemiologist, Dr. Joseph Fraumeni, joined the National Cancer Institute and was assigned to find out if there was any cancer increase among those injected with the Salk vaccine. With two Colleagues, Fraumeni tested vaccine samples from May and June of 1955, the first months of the national immunization campaign. Then they ranked the samples according to “no,” “low” or “high” amounts of SV40 they contained.
It was the only time US health officials would measure such level in the 55-62 vaccine. Stored samples were later dumped. Fraumeni pinpointed states where contaminated vaccines were distributed during the key months. California received a vaccine with a low level of the virus. The study also looked at cancer death rates for 6-to-8-year olds vaccinated during that narrow time frame and tracked the group for four years.
Findings, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, showed no significant difference in cancer deaths in states with high or low levels of SV40 in the vaccine when compared with cancer deaths in states with no SV40 in the vaccine.
Yet some 14 years later, after “isolated reports” linking the virus to human cancers, Fraumeni deemed another group should be looked at that had received contaminated vaccine. This group was the subject of trials conducted in the early '60s at Cleveland Metropolitan general Hospital. To see the effect of different amounts of SV40 in vaccines, hospital researchers inoculated newborns from mostly lower-income black families. Noticeably, doses ranged up to more than 100 times the dose recommended for adults, not a nice thing to do to those black kids.
The experiments spanned three years, involving 1,073 infants. The majority were given Sabin oral, which later was shown to contain SV40. A 1982 report in the New England Journal of Medicine hedged the study’s limitations: that a majority of the kids had not responded; but SV40-realted cancers could take longer than 17 to 19 years to appear; and SV40 appeared less likely to infect humans through the oral vaccine.
Despite these critical caveats, the whitewash called the findings “reassuring and consistent with the prevailing view that SV40 is not carcinogenic in human beings.” Then they called a halt to the studies, claiming “mountains of complexities and obstacles in tracing this particular group and the negative results to date.” This is not to mention their destructive racism, which would remain part of the government’s position for years.
In Boston, Dr. Robert Garcea and assistant, Dr. John Bergsagel, used a new tool, a polymerase chain reaction, PCR, to look for a pair of common human viruses in kids’ brain tumors. A different DNA footprint popped up in more than half the tumors. It finally hit them that they were seeing SV40.
The PCR was capable of amplifying the smallest fragments of DNA, making detections far more credible than earlier more primitive tests for SV40-like proteins in human tumors. The findings were disturbing, indicating that the children were too young to have received the contaminated vaccine, yet somehow the virus infected them and embedded itself in their tumors.
In that same year, Dr. Michele Carbone found a milky, rind-like tumor in a laboratory at the National Insitutes of Health in Bethesda, Md. Carbone performed a variety of experiments showing that sixty percent of hamsters, after having SV40 injected into their hearts, contracted the fatal cancer, mesothelioma. Something awful was happening.
Carbone finally used PCR to test 48 human mesotheliomas stored at the NIH. He was stunned when 28 of them contained SV40. PCR went on to unleash a wave of SV40 discoveries. By the end of 1996, dozens of scientists reported SV40 in a variety of bone cancers and a wide range of brain cancers, a rise of 30 percent over the previous 20 years.
At the National Cancer Institute in Bethesda, officials were growing increasingly concerned about the SV40 discoveries. And these findings were of particular interest to Fraumeni, who had been promoted to director of the NCI (National Cancer Institute)’s Division on Cancer Epidemiology and Genetics. His early studies concluding that SV40 posed little or no health risk were now under challenge . . .
More about the NCI, National Cancer Institute
The deadly truth is that the National Cancer Institute (NCI-Frederick) and 37 mission partners are located at Fort Detrick, about 20 minutes from Bethesda, Maryland. The Fort is home to the United States Army Medical Research and Materiel Command (ISAMRMC). The primary missions include biomedical research and development. This is where the AIDS virus was developed, but not from monkeys.
In my 2005 Online Journal article, The AIDS virus: Made in the USA?, I reported that “Dr. Robert Strecker indicated that the AIDS virus was in fact developed by the National Cancer Institute, in cooperation with the World Health Organization (WHO), in a laboratory at Ft. Detrick in Maryland. From 1970–74, this laboratory facility was part of the U.S. Army’s germ warfare unit, known as the Army Infectious Disease Unit, or Special Operations Division, also referred to as the Army’s Chemical and Biological Warfare Laboratory. Post 1974, the facility was renamed the National Cancer Institute (NCI). According to researcher William Cooper (former Navy Intelligence officer), noted in Larry Jamison’s article Is The AIDS Virus Man Made?, this work was supervised by the CIA under a project called MK-NAOMI. [To get to this site click link, then “All News,” then “Next page”].
“Dr. Strecker has also traced some of the research and researchers at Ft. Detrick/NCI to a group of Japanese scientists captured at WW II’s end and given amnesty in exchange for information on racial and ethnic bio-weaponry, their research dating back to 1930. What’s more, expatriated Russian scientists were brought in to help as well.
“Dr. Strecker, one of the original and foremost authorities on the AIDS virus, found that the virus creation was conducted under the leadership of Dr. Robert Gallo, who later claimed to discover the virus. Dr. Gallo and his team created the AIDS virus by combining the bovine (cattle) leukemia virus and visna (sheep) virus, and injecting them into human tissue cultures.
“They discovered, as Strecker did, that bovine leukemia virus is lethal to cattle, but not to humans. And the visna virus is deadly to sheep, but not to man. However, when combined, they produce a retro-virus that can change the genetic composition of the cells they enter. In fact, as Larry Jamison points out, early field tests on prison convicts led to sickness then death, which inspired Gallo and friends to bigger and more terrible things, including injecting brothers and sisters with the tainted vaccine to see who died first. This was done to study HLA (human leukocyte antigen processing), to see how related people reacted. Frighteningly, whole families got sick at once! And there was worse to come.
“The AIDS retro-virus works, as Dr. Strecker states, by causing the destruction of the immune system, fundamentally the body's white blood or T-cells essential to the effectiveness of the immune system particularly against opportunistic infections diseases. The B-cells deal with more benign, bacterial infections. AZT, the drug which is a kind of junk food that starves the AIDS virus, often kills the patient as well. It provides dubious consolation. . . ."
As an updating underscore, I quote from Dr. Alan Cantwell’s 11/4/04 article at Rense.com, The Man-Made Origin Of AIDS -- Important Notes . . . in which he unqualifiedly states: “VISNA VIRUS WAS MOVED INTO PORCINE, BOVINE, AND HUMAN CELLS CAUSING PRODUCTIVE INFECTION PRIOR TO ANY ADVENT OF HIV ANYWHERE.
“ . . . The capital-lettered statement above is uncontestable. It is a fact.”
The polio virus was monkey-derived, but AIDS was not . . .
I repeat the above so that the idea of a monkey biting an African’s butt or of Simian Virus 40 being the culprit for HIV-AIDS is not the case. There is a desire to surrender to this idea because it seems convenient. African populations live in jungle areas and are largely black and may be in contact with monkeys. Unfortunately, to a lesser degree AIDS has struck white communities in America as well, either white and/or gay in addition to black and/or Latino, i.e. minorities, ergo expendable to the elites. The question is, was the CIA/NCI behind the polio virus as well? It’s timeline flows into and parallels the AIDS virus.
Again, the AIDS virus was weaponized at Fort Detrick. As Cantwell reports, “I believe, based on now some 16 years of investigation of this whole thing that HIV is a strategic biological weapon designed to kill billions of people in a slow-unfolding relentless holocaust which was released in two different vaccination programs: a) the smallpox vaccination program in Africa commencing in the late 1960s, b) the hepatitis-B vaccination program in the United States in the mid-to-late 1970s.
“Moreover, so it is perfectly clear, this contamination was no accident. It was done on purpose with the goal of ‘thinning the herd’ in a Nazi-like mindset that has covertly governed population control politics since the 1870s. These same politics had pervaded the WHO [World Health Organization] and most of western medical experimental science throughout the 20th century. And, to be very pointed: the same political ideology is still there. Non-whites [and gay whites] are detrimental to the gene pool's evolution so says the political philosophy. To see a bit of this in history, go here:
“This belief system is pervasive in the molecular sciences as it is at the heart of eugenics, cloning, evolution, and heritability.”
Yet, little did my Brooklyn family, friends, myself and America know what darker forces were lurking about us in the 50s and 60s, especially in the post WW-ll surge in our economy, military strength, intelligence community and the confidence that America was the best, safest, the most noble place to grow up in and ultimately defend.
In fact, was the polio vaccine weaponized from the get-go with SV40 the way the World Health Organization laced a smallpox vaccine for millions of Africans with the AIDS virus? Or was the polio virus a Pandora’s box opened by a well-meaning Salk? If so, why did it take so long to unearth and never really correct it? And how many millions of Americans have paid with their lives via the SV40 cancer-link? Here is one doctor’s answer, again from my article . . .
“Also, concerning green monkeys, Dr. William Campbell Douglass, MD, writes in 1987 in W.H.O. Murdered Africa: “This is the origin of the green monkey theory. The polio vaccine was grown on green monkey kidney cells and the geniuses who brought us polio vaccine said: ‘We got away with it once so let's use it again.’ But they didn't get away with it and in spite of the fact that polio was rapidly disappearing without any medical intervention, 64 million Americans were vaccinated with SV-40 contaminated vaccine in the 60s. An increase in cancer of the brain, possibly multiple sclerosis and God only knows what else is the tragic result. The delay between vaccination and the onset of cancer with this virus is as long as 20–30 years. Nineteen sixty-five plus 20 equals 1985. Get the picture?”
Unfortunately, it’s a rather grim picture, but as close as the truth as I can get on this awful subject. I suggest you read the entirety of my first AIDS article, including all links. Knowledge is power as they say. And even back in 2005, I reported Bilderberger involvement in all this, the power beyond the powers that rule, going about its deadly business.
Jerry Mazza is a freelance writer living in New York. Reach him at email@example.com.