Friday, September 10, 2004

Family Matters "How the lies have divided mine!"

I don't know how far back to start. So I'll just cut to the chase.

I grew up in a repug-lican home. I drank the Kool-aid for years. I believed it too. Even when reality showed me otherwise. I'm what you would call an independent! I've voted Repug, Dem and Green. I've also not voted in protest. I regret that one. I now think mandatory voting is a good idea. Living in Australia has proved that to me.Your democracy is a responsibility. A few minutes every couple of years should not be considered too much to ask. Remember 'By the People for the people?' One must participate.

I remember back in 1980 or 1984 one of Reagan's runs. My step-father announced that the family was to vote Republican straight down the ticket! This was at a family dinner. "Father said and they all follow" I found this peculiar at the time. I put that down to being a naive teen-ager.

Now I see it as Scary! To cast your vote without thought? I don't think my family was the only one. I believe we are now paying the price.

I don't know how many of my step siblings swallowed this pronouncement by my step-father. Don't get me wrong. I think this man is a good man. It's his judgement and curiosity I have reservations about. I do believe he sees me as some sort of threat. All because of politics. More specific, the fact I'm active and on "The Wrong Side" as far as he's concerned. Not very democratic.

My question to him, if we would ever have a civil conversation would be:
Why are you so afraid of real debate?

I have many questions for him. I doubt I'll ever get to ask. Over the past couple of years. The relationship between myself and my whole family has become so strained it's almost gone! Why? My Loving partner and I started to ask real questions. And we were with the 500,000 people in Sydney at the pre-war demonstrations. We were seeing through the lies in the piss-weak mainstream media. My family was not impressed.

I believe my mom and step-dad are donors to the RNC. I don't like the fact you need money to have an opinion in the modern world. Also not very democratic!

Most conversations end with them hanging up on me. When you ask what I'm up to, I'm not going to lie. I'm working with Democrats Abroad. And my Industry (Audio and Production)is being killed by the likes of clear channel and media consolidation. It's a fact. Yet they blame me for choosing a terrible industry and somehow it's my fault! I didn't realize my mother the lifelong pianist and Piano teacher hated the music industry. And it is an industry. A bloody big one. I'll post at some time about my issues with my own industry in the future.

Before my blood father died he called me a communist. I asked him to define communism. his reply was "everything bad". I'm not a communist first, and his ignorance was amazing. It didn't suprise me. Sorry Dad.

Then the ultimate happened yesterday. I rang my favorite Aunt and Uncle yesterday. My uncle is not in the best of health. I try to ring from time to time. Find out how they are. No politics! They have cancelled each other out at almost every election for decades.

The call started normal. My Aunt answers the phone, Hi, how are you the usual. My uncle gets on the extension and jumps down my thoat. He tells me "I should be home in the U.S. and not here on this Island" I replied "I don't know if I want to be there now"

He proceded to call it a "little war". And 1000 dead were well worth it. I was amazed. At this point my Aunt is pleading with him to stop. I was pleading as well. I only wanted to see how they were doing. She got so upset she hung up.

From there He told me, "I was on the hook with him" and hung up. He also told me to get back with my ex-wife! A woman who for three years accused me of sleeping with every woman I ever worked with. Sorry, no one can take that for to long. It crushed my marriage. Somehow my politics have made this my fault. I don't get it? It's somehow similar to Osama+9/11=Iraq logic. Proved over and over to be false. As were the accusations of infidellity put towards me. I can say without hesitation I was loyal, even when I was sick of the lack of trust.

Shortly after the abrupt end of the conversation. I was listening to Mike Malloy. He played a beautiful arrangement of tapps on air. Gail and I wept. 1000 dead over a lie and someones profits. Like the "Big Dick" vice resident.

Why is it Shrub refuses to honour these men and women. And why do I have to rely on a radio host to do it! Thank You Mike Malloy and your producer for honouring the fallen in such a beautiful way. I doubt we were the only ones to weep. I'm happy to still have feelings. Even when they hurt.

Terrorism will not be exploited as a party political issue in Australia

Latham calls campaign pause
By Mike Seccombe
September 10, 2004

The Opposition Leader, Mark Latham, said the Jakarta bomb attack should serve only to harden Australia's resolve to win the war on terrorism.

He refused to address speculation that the attack might have been motivated by a desire to influence the election.

But he said the Labor Party would cease campaigning, as an expression of respect and condolence for the dead.

"These were people - some of them, it seems, security guards - there trying to defend our interests in Jakarta. It is time to pay our respects. Others were just passers-by. That is the horror, the blatant stupidity of terrorism," he said. It harmed people who had committed "no greater sin in life than getting about their ordinary day".

"As I said a few days ago in response to the tragedy in Russia, it does shake your faith in human nature, but it also doubles your resolve and strength to deal with evil, so that you can build a world that has freedom and the basic decency of respecting each other as human beings."

Asked whether he thought the attackers were trying to influence the election, he said: "Seven or eight people have just died in the worst of circumstances. I'm not going to be making any party political observations ...

"Obviously in the circumstances, we will be suspending normal campaigning activities."

He said the ALP national campaign director, Tim Gartrell, had contacted the Coalition campaign office to tell them Labor would make no policy announcements and pull advertising for the next two days.

Full Story at the Sydney Morning Herald

Crude Attempts to Censor 60 Minutes' Bush Expose

By John Byrne Raw Story Editor

A CBS affiliate in Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania stopped broadcasting around the time ‘60 Minutes’ was supposed to be broadcast, leading thousands to question whether the network dropped the show because its content was critical of President Bush.

A news director confirmed that the program was not carried, saying, “Our transmitter busted.”
“I can tell you that it was not part of a vast right wing conspiracy,” he added.

One viewer, who asked not to be named, wrote to RAW STORY outraged that WYOU would pull the program.

“When the CBS affiliate goes off air at 8:00 PM, and promptly resumes coverage at 9:00 PM, and no other stations had technical problems – it’s a clear case of censorship,” the viewer wrote. “Folks have been calling WYOU non-stop about this since last night, and station officials are extremely defensive and hostile.”

“They refuse to re-broadcast the 60 Minutes episode,” the letter continued, “telling callers to “get a life” and “take it up with CBS” if they’ve got a problem.”

The reader also noted that because CBS and NBC are part of the same duopoly, both stations likely would have been affected, but NBC carried programming as usual….

…Popular blogger Daily Kos also noted Wednesday that KWTV in Oklahoma City tried to show the program at 3:15 a.m. and then caved and showed it earlier after viewers complained. The CBS affiliate in Indianapolis had scheduled the show for 2:15 a.m. to make space for a 50th anniversary special they were running. After complaints, they moved it to 9:00 p.m.
In Lubbock, Texas the local affiliate aired a pre-recorded show for the St. Jude’s Children charity and held 60 Minutes until 1:35 a.m. in the morning.

Air America also reported Thursday morning that they had received calls from various areas in the United States of DirectTV subscribers that had not been able to see the program. Among the cities reported affected were parts of Pennsylvania and Illinois.

Full Story at

Here is the transcript of the 60 minutes programme

Thursday, September 09, 2004

Bush Official Lied to Congress

The Progress Report

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) yesterday charged former Bush administration Medicare official Thomas Scully broke the law and should repay his government salary after ordering his actuary to withhold high estimates of the president's prescription drug plan from Congress last year. The GAO said, "Federal law prohibits a federal agency from paying the salary of an official who prevents another federal employee from communicating with Congress." Since the law probably would not have passed if Congress had known of the higher estimates, the GAO's ruling means the Bush administration achieved passage of landmark domestic legislation by unlawfully withholding information.


Car Bomb at Australian Embassy

Thursday, 9 September, 2004, 05:40 GMT 06:40 UK

Six people are believed to have died in a massive blast outside the Australian embassy in Jakarta, the Australian prime minister has said.
John Howard said it was thought the explosion was a car bomb.

The BBC's Rachel Harvey in Jakarta says the blast left a large crater in the ground and damaged nearby buildings and motor vehicles.

Helicopters, ambulances and police units are at the site, in Kuningen, a district to the south of the city.

Witnesses and reporters say they saw at least three bodies lying lifeless after the blast, which happened at about 1030 local time (0330 GMT).

Mr Howard told a news conference in Melbourne "the number of fatalities could be six. We can not at this stage be certain, but the evidence today indicates that it was a car bomb."

Local radio reports scores injured.


Wednesday, September 08, 2004

US Broke Ceasefire Immediately

by Milan Rai;
September 04, 2004


The Najaf ceasefire did not resolve the conflict in Najaf. Before the ink was even dry on the agreement signed by militant Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr and the supreme Shia religious leader Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, the United States and its client forces were breaking the terms of the truce.

In particular, US Marines refused to withdraw from Najaf, as required by the Sistani peace deal. Muqtada al-Sadr may wish to move the conflict over the occupation to the political sphere, but the US and the Allawi do not.

Full Story

Family Values

A member of the Christian organization The northern Colorado Family Life Marriage Conference punched a female veteran in the face during a Harvest Festival parade:


The group are probably pondering the question of 'Which woman would Jesus punch in the face?'

Bring the rich to heel

New Statesman
Monday 6th September 2004

Remember Thatcher and Reagan! That is what the rich should be saying to themselves as they watch the Conrad Black drama unfold, with its breathtaking tales of a man who charged his wife's birthday parties, handbags and jogging attire, to say nothing of his own private jets and Rolls-Royce repairs, to company accounts. There is, after all, nothing unusual in what Lord Black did, except perhaps in its sheer lavishness. Owners of private companies charge all sorts of "expenses" to their business accounts. Many pay their wives or mistresses "wages" for doing nothing, as Lord Black did. But he, while retaining control, sold most of the equity to outside shareholders - "little people", as he saw them, who should have been grateful to be allowed a share of his glittering success. "This is my company," he hissed whenever a fellow director questioned him. A good thing, too, some commentators would argue, since the traditional, private firm (often a family firm) tends to take a more long-term view than the company owned by institutional shareholders who go in and out for a quick profit. Some would also argue that the high rewards of an entrepreneur such as Conrad Black are more defensible than those of a hired company executive.

None of this will wash, because the behaviour of rich people increasingly outrages the public's sense of decency and proportion. The rich - whether we talk about Lord Black or the creative accountants of Enron and WorldCom or the directors of publicly quoted UK-based companies such as BSkyB, Vodafone and Carlton, with their multimillion-pound remuneration packages - look greedy and hubristic. They pocket excessive rewards just because they can. In the same way, unions in the 1970s, at least in the public eye, went beyond the acceptable. Though most used their power with moderation and care (and employers held the upper hand even then), the behaviour of a minority opened the way to right-wing governments, determined to weaken unions and to curb their power. Throughout the western world, unions are now more or less a spent force.

Sooner or later, a Margaret Thatcher or Ronald Reagan of the left will come forward to harness public outrage against the rich as surely as it was once harnessed against organised workers. After all, it is now the bosses who look like a tightly knit conspiracy, heedless of everybody else's interests. Lord Black got away with it because other well-off people, running the auditors KPMG and the law firm Torys, as well as members of his company's audit committee, chose to turn a blind eye. Likewise, the excessive remuneration of company directors is routinely decided by other directors sitting on each other's boards. Nobody can now argue that such behaviour is victimless or economically trivial. Through pension funds and life assurance schemes, millions have their savings invested in companies such as Lord Black's. The damage caused by corporate extravagance and malfeasance is far greater than any temporary inconvenience caused by a transport or rubbish strike. And if the allegations against Lord Black are true, he has hurt ordinary people as grievously as a burglar who breaks into a house at night and makes off with the family valuables. Indeed, given the decline in the burglary rate, the average homeowner today probably loses more to corporate sharks than he or she does to burglars.

At one time, it was argued that if the rich were expropriated, it would make little difference in the greater scheme of things. That is no longer so. If the richest 400 people in the United States were to give up 1 per cent of their wealth, it would be enough to provide clean drinking water for the entire world. It would cost about £1bn to immunise every child on the planet against the main life-threatening diseases; the £110m in annual remuneration that goes to the UK's 20 highest-earning executives (the ones we know about in publicly quoted companies, that is) would make a sizeable dent in that.


Indian scientists make breakthrough in fighting TB

By Khozem Merchant in Mumbai
Published: September 6 2004 08:02
Financial Times

Indian scientists said on Monday they had discovered the first new tuberculosis molecule in more than four decades, marking a breakthrough in combating a disease that kills 3m people worldwide each year.

The remedy is a milestone for India’s science elite, which believes the lower cost and high capability of India’s large biomedical community could make the country a leading, cost-effective location for global drugs R&D.

In tests on animals, the new molecule clears tuberculosis infections within two to three months, compared with six to eight months with current treatments, scientists said.

The molecule will be tested on humans and later on TB-infected patients in phased clinical trials that are expected to last five to six years before the treatment is ready for commercial launch. Patents have been filed in India and the US.

“We’ve been innovative and lucky. I regard this molecule among our top five scientific breakthroughs in terms of affecting people’s lives,” said Dr R N Mashelkar, chief scientific adviser to the government.

The molecule cost Rs90m ($1.9m) to develop over three years and will require additional investment of Rs250m.

The cost is less than that of similar efforts by global drug majors such as AstraZeneca, which last year was forced by spiraling drug discovery costs to open a $10m TB research centre in low-cost Bangalore in south India.

The discovery comes at a time when global drug giants have become more eager to find cures for TB because it is increasingly being contracted among people infected with HIV, making it a bigger potential threat in the developed world.

The new TB molecule has also excited India’s research community because it represents a triumph for a public-private drug discovery project launched in 2000. Efforts for treating tuberculosis was one of seven projects selected for accelerated R&D funding under the New Millennium Indian Technology Leadership Initiative. Twelve government research centres and universities and Lupin, a Mumbai-based pharmaceuticals company, jointly developed the molecule.

“It shows that private-public partnership is tenable,” said Dr Mashelkar, director general of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, an umbrella body of 40 state R&D centres.

Eight million new cases of TB are registered each year, including 1m in India, mostly women. The economic cost of the disease is estimated at about Rs120bn annually in lost working days in India.

Researchers said the new molecule was particularly effective against “latent TB”, where the disease lingers without showing symptoms. Signs of the disease emerge when the body’s immune system weakens, but by then the TB may have worsened. The new treament was less toxic and no recurrence of the disease was evident in animal trials, experts said.

Tuesday, September 07, 2004

White House Blocked Probe of Sept. 11 - Saudi Link: Top US Senator

Published on Monday, September 6, 2004 by Agence France-Presse
At Common Dreams

WASHINGTON - The White House blocked a congressional investigation into alleged links between the Saudi government and two September 11, 2001, hijackers, a top US senator wrote in a book.

Florida Senator Bob Graham, the Democrat who co-chaired Congress's probe into the September 11 attacks, wrote that Saudi government agents were part of a support network in the United States for two hijackers who took part in the devastating strikes, the Miami Herald reported Sunday.

But President George W. Bush's administration and the Federal Bureau of Investigation blocked Congress's investigation into the alleged ties, Graham wrote in "Intelligence Matters," a copy of which the Herald obtained.

Full Story

Palestinians weigh the non-violent option

By Lawrence Smallman
Friday 03 September 2004,

If Palestinians had adopted a non-violent struggle against Israeli occupation, their conflict would have been over by now, says Mahatma Gandhi's 70-year-old grandson Arun Gandhi.

The director of the Institute for Non-violence in Tennessee and naturalised American citizen visited thousands of people in the occupied territories last week with a simple message: Throwing a brick at a Merkava tank is just a waste of time and energy.

"I don't think Palestine has the economic and military capacity to confront a huge state like Israel, which has not only a powerful military arsenal but powerful friends," he told the crowd at Abu Dis, next to the illegal separation barrier.

But during a visit to the Holocaust Museum in Jerusalem, Gandhi also criticised the Israeli Government for continuing to promote anti-Palestinian sentiment.

He observed that Tel Aviv was not using the Holocaust to fight prejudice and hate, but rather to promote anger and a fear of victimisation.

Reaction to visit

His visit proved to be a huge boost for a movement that is already making substantial progress,'s correspondent in Palestine, Khalid Amayreh, said.

"Most Palestinians I have met have nothing but praise for Gandhi. The solidarity he demonstrated and his understanding of Palestinian suffering was truly extraordinary from a well-known public figure."

Amayreh believes many ordinary Palestinians are totally convinced of the strength of passive resistance.

He won many converts when he spoke to a crowd of thousands next to the separation barrier, and made the analogy with apartheid and the success of non-violent protest in South Africa.

And since the visit, various non-violent resistance movements have reported a surge of requests for training and information.

Preparation and growth

Speaking to on Thursday, the director of Holy Land Trust in Bethlehem, Sami Awad, said the demand from Palestinians to learn how to practise passive resistance was greater than his six trainers could provide.


Bush: OB-GYNs Kept from 'Practicing Their Love'

This is an absolute Classic!!!! Jon
The MSNBC Video "" (copy and paste into winamp)
"Too many OB-GYNs aren't able to practice their love with women all across this country."
Mon Sep 6,11:44 PM ET

POPLAR BLUFF, Mo. (Reuters) - President Bush (news - web sites) offered an unexpected reason on Monday for cracking down on frivolous medical lawsuits: "Too many OB-GYNs aren't able to practice their love with women all across this country."

The Republican president, long known for verbal and grammatical lapses, included the anecdote about obstetrician gynecologists in his stump speech attacking Democratic presidential rival Sen. John Kerry (news - web sites) and his running mate, Sen. John Edwards (news - web sites), a former trial lawyer.

At a rally of cheering supporters in Poplar Bluff, Missouri, Bush made his usual pitch for limiting "frivolous lawsuits" that he said drive up the cost of health care and run doctors out of business.

But then he added, "We've got an issue in America. Too many good docs are getting out of business. Too many OB-GYNs aren't able to practice their love with women all across this country."

Unfazed, Bush went on to deride his rivals as "pro-trial lawyer," and concluded, "I think you've got to make a choice. My opponent made his choice, and he put him on the ticket. I made my choice. I'm for medical liability reform now."


Sep 6 2004
And wife Laura liked dope, says book
By Emma Pryer

From the Mirror U.K.

GEORGE W Bush snorted cocaine at Camp David, a new book claims.
His wife Laura also allegedly tried cannabis in her youth.
Author Kitty Kelley says in her biography The Family: The Real Story of the Bush Dynasty, that the US President first used coke at university in the mid-1960s.
She quotes his former sister-in-law Sharon Bush who claims: "Bush did coke at Camp David when his father was President, and not just once either."
Other acquaintances allege that as a 26-year-old National Guard, Bush "liked to sneak out back for a joint or into the bathroom for a line of cocaine".
Bush has admitted being an alcoholic but, asked during the 1999 election if he did drugs, he said: "I've told the American people that years ago I made some mistakes.
"I've learned from my mistakes and should I be fortunate enough to become president I will bring dignity and honour to the office."
Later an aide clarified his remarks saying Bush hadn't taken illegal drugs in the past 25 years.
Kelley says that the Bush family covered up scandals because of their wealth and influence. She claims George W started drinking at school and continued at Yale university to overcome shyness.
Former student Torbery George says in the book: "Poor Georgie. He couldn't relate to women unless he was loaded."
Another says: "He went out of his way to act crude. It's amazing someone you held in such low esteem later became president."
His supporters have slammed the allegations as outrageous.
The White House said: "This book appears to be filled with the same trash discredited years ago."
-BILL Clinton has joked he will try to be happy about his heart bypass operation. The ex-president said on his website: "This sure isn't how we planned to spend Labor Day weekend but we're doing our best to enjoy it."

Welcome to th New World Order : Bush the Uber-Parent

Welcome to the New World Order: Bush the Uber-Parent

In an earlier post (Kissing the Whip) I pondered the question of why some Americans would vote against their own material interests. I speculated that there must be an overriding emotional imperative, so strong that it eclipsed rational considerations. My conclusion was that Bush supporters do not, in fact want the responsibility that participating in a democracy entails, that they are seeking the comfort of an Uber-parent.It turns out that this is exactly how Bush sees himself: White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card said yesterday that President Bush views America as a ''10-year-old child" in need
of the sort of protection provided by a parent.Reports
This scares the hell out of me. The relationship between a parent and a child is not a democratic relationship, it is a dictatorship. It is not an appropriate model for a democratic society. It is a relationship that says Do as I say, I make the decisions, I decide what freedoms you may access, what friends you may have, I know best. Hitler, Tito, Stalin, Mao - History is littered with examples of dictators casting themselves as ‘Father of the people’: In Iraq children were encouraged to refer to Saddam Hussein as 'Father Saddam' or 'Uncle Saddam'. After the death of Stalin, people wept for the man they called "father" Tito was a considered a benevolent Father

‘In rural China Mao looms larger as a flawed emperor who yet remains a father figure
Dictators have always cast themselves as the father of the people, that is why Hitler's Germany was an authoritarian 'Fatherland' not a nurturing Motherland, why and how he went one step further and sought to interpose himself in the relationship between biological parent and child through the mechanism of the Hitler youth movement, to supplant the role of the actual parent: When an opponent declares, 'I will not come over to your side, 'I calmly say, 'Your child belongs to us already...What are you?
You will pass on. Your descendants, however, now stand in the new camp. In a short time they will know nothing but this new community. (Hitler, Nov 6th, 1933)
Religion is the model from which dictatorships derive their structure, irrespective of whether the individual regimes profess to be religious or atheistic in themselves. That decision rests on whether the regime in question finds it expedient to conflate themselves with a religion, thus co-opting its followers (as Franco did) or whether they seek to cut to the chase and supplant God himself, like Mao and Stalin. The dictator demands that the people have an uncritical faith in him. To do otherwise becomes heresy. Hitler was well aware of this:

I have followed [the Church] in giving our party program the character of unalterable finality, like the Creed. The Church has never allowed the Creed to be interfered with. It is fifteen hundred years since it was formulated, but every suggestion for its amendment, every logical criticism, or attack on it, has been rejected. The Church has realized that anything and everything can be built up on a document of that sort, no matter how contradictory or irreconcilable with it. The faithful will swallow it whole, so long as logical reasoning is never allowed to be brought to bear on it. [Adolf Hitler from Rauschning, _The Voice of Destruction_, pp. 239-40]

Nazi officials like Reichorganisationsleiter (Reich Organization Leader) Dr. Robert Ley gave speeches with quasi-religious overtones, attacking intellectualism as un-German and calling on the people to treat Hitler as an all knowing father:
Read On

Monday, September 06, 2004

Pentagon to 'investigate' Kerry's medals

Navy probes Kerry medals
By Julian Coman
September 6, 2004
The Age

The Pentagon has ordered an investigation into the awarding of Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry's five Vietnam War decorations.

The highly unusual inquiry is to be carried out by the Inspector-General's Office of the US Navy. Senator Kerry served as a Swift boat captain for four months in 1968, serving two tours of duty in Vietnam...
... the navy has agreed to a request by Judicial Watch, a bipartisan lobby group, for a full inquiry.

As TalkLeft report, Judicial Watch is anything but bipartisan. It receives regular donations from Richard Mellon Scaife, whose links with the Bush regime are well known.

Judicial Watch founder and former Chairman and General Counsel Larry Klayman just lost his primary bid for the U.S. Senate in Florida. He is, as his senate site describes,

a Leading Enemy of Bill and Hillary Clinton and their "comrades" like Senators Ted Kennedy, Barbara Boxer, and Charles Schumer of the "great left wing conspiracy".

Whose running Judicial Watch now? Tom Fitton. From his company's website:

Tom Fitton, 30, of Washington, DC, is the Editor and Publisher of Opinion, Inc. In addition to running Opinion, Inc., Fitton is separately President of Judicial Watch, Inc., a conservative legal watchdog group.

Every time I think this regime has got as low as it is possible to go, they find a new depth to sink to. Are they even pretending to be democratic anymore? Its one thing to know, intellectually, that they will do anything to retain power but its another to actually bear witness to the obscene mechanisms of a fascist regime strangling democracy by gradual increments day by day, week by week.

Until 2000 I took democracy for granted. It simply never occurred to me that democracy in the Western world would ever be under threat, it having been so hard won and with all the lessons of history at our disposal.

I can't stop having democratic expectations, and thus I am in a permanent state of outrage.

More fool me for my naivete. All the same, I am grieving my lost innocence.

What Rights are We Willing To Forego?

Michael Hassig
September 03, 2004

More than 330 communities and towns and four states have passed local resolutions against the USA PATRIOT Act and the intrusions into civil liberties that it represents. These resolutions have come not only from small bastions of liberalism like Madison, Wis., but also from large cities like Jackson, Miss.; New York City; Washington, D.C.; and Los Angeles, Calif. Recently, Carbondale, Colo., joined their ranks, and Carbondale Mayor Michael Hassig gave the following remarks to a gathering of local residents and activists on Aug. 29.

The USA PATRIOT Act stands for "Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism"—a remarkable acronym in its own right. As the ACLU writes:

"The Patriot Act expands terrorism laws to include "domestic terrorism" which could subject political organizations to surveillance, wiretapping, harassment, and criminal action for political activity.

It expands the ability of law enforcement to conduct secret searches, gives them wide powers of phone and internet surveillance, and access to highly personal medical, financial, mental health and student records without judicial oversight.

Allows FBI agents to investigate American citizens for criminal matters without probable cause of crime if they say it is for "intelligence purposes."

Permits non-citizens to be jailed based on mere suspicion and to be denied re-admission to the US for engaging in free speech. Suspects convicted of no crime may be detained indefinitely in six month increments without meaningful judicial review."

The Patriot Act was proposed as a necessary and immediate response to the horrific events of September 11th.My remarks today are in no way intended to minimize that tragedy or to suggest that appropriate actions should not be taken to bring those criminals to justice.

The Patriot Act was signed into law just 45 days after those attacks. It passed the Senate without discussion, debate or hearings. Despite attempts in the House to construct a compromise bill, the House leadership rejected that approach and instead insisted that the bill be considered without discussion or amendment. Our representatives in Washington were faced with a simple yes or no vote—one that by extension was characterized as:Are you a patriot—or not?

Two simple questions remained unasked at that time: Would the provisions contained in this bill have prevented those attacks? Or were these provisions merely a longstanding law enforcement "wish list" that had been previously and repeatedly rejected by Congress?

For today's gathering, I'd like to review the Patriot Act as it relates to the Bill of Rights of the U.S. Constitution. Amendment 1 states that: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."

Section 802 of the the PATRIOT Act creates a new crime, "domestic terrorism," which it defines as "acts dangerous to human life that are a violation of the criminal laws of the United States or of any State" and that "appear to be intended... to influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion."

Would Martin Luther King and the heroes of the civil rights movement—or those of us who gathered to protest the war in Vietnam—would we have been "domestic terrorists" under this definition?

Section 215 of the PATRIOT Act permits the director of the FBI to seek records from bookstores and libraries of books that a person suspected of terrorism has purchased or read, or of his or her activities on a library's computer. It also makes it a crime to for a librarian or bookstore owner to disclose that they have been ordered to produce such documents. When the determination of "suspicion" lies only with law enforcement agencies in Washington—are you comforted?

Amendment 4 states that: "The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

Section 218 of the PATRIOT ACT amends the foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act by eliminating the need for the FBI to show probable cause before conducting secret searches or surveillance to obtain evidence of a crime.

Section 213 of the PATRIOT ACT permits the government to search your home with no one present and to delay notification indefinitely. Court may authorize delayed notification "if the court finds reasonable cause to believe that providing immediate notification...may have an adverse result."

Amendment 5 states (in part) that "No person shall be held to answer for a ... crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury..., not shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property,without due process of law."

Amendment 6 states (in part) that "In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed...and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witness against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the assistance of counsel for his defence."

Section 412 of the PATRIOT ACT gives the Attorney General broad powers to certify immigrants as risks and to detain them indefinitely. Similarly, by Presidential order, any U.S. citizen or non-citizen designated as an "enemy combatant" may be placed in military custody, held in detention indefinitely, interrogated and denied communication withoutsiders or judicial review.

The questions we must ask ourselves are these:

What rights are we willing to forego in the name of enhanced security?

Are we convinced that relinquishing these rights will truly enhance our safety and security?

Do we truly believe and trust that present and future government officials will neverabuse the provisions of this Act for mere political objectives?

I wouldn't be speaking before you today but for the actions of the Carbondale Board of Trustees which, on the 11th of May of this year passed a resolution which stated that:

Section 5: That the Carbondale Town Council supports the immediate repeal of unconstitutional provisions of the USA PATRIOT Act and strongly urges the State of Colorado's congressional delegation to vigourously resist and oppose any and all attempts to extend and make permanent the powers and authorities contained in the USA PATRIOT Act now scheduled to cease to have effect on December 31, 2005.

This resolution passed unanmiously.

Like many of you, I watched the attacks of September 11, with shock, horror, grief—and anger. I was ready to put politics aside—to stop and honor those who had lost their lives—and then to help redirect this country toward a new path—at home and abroad. I was prepared for—no, hoped—that sacrifices would be expected of us as a nation. Perhaps naively, I thought that we would embrace these new challenges.

Could we really expect to carry on our wasteful, profligate consumer culture after witnessing this loss? Could we really continue to pretend that we were exempt from the laws of nature and the discoveries of science?

I think to this day that America would have enthusiastically responded—if asked. What was asked of us instead?

That we support a retaliatory and ultimately half-hearted attempt to root out the terrorists in Afganistan. That we support tax cuts for those who need it least. That we support an unrelated—and unwinnable—war; a war based on lies, deception and propaganda. That we support a national energy policy drawn up in secret—by those who have everything to gain by preserving the status quo. That we support the creation of a huge new federal bureaucracy—under the guise of educational reform. That we accept extraordinary increases in the federal debt—and bequeath it to our children and grandchildren. That we accept and support limitations on our constitutional rights—under the guise of patriotism.

In America, even in the face of tragedy—hope arises. Wallace Stegner called the West—our West—"the native home of hope." As I look around on this glorious August day, I remain hopeful. This gathering gives me hope: That their are those who still believe in the power of ideas—and not the lies and cynicism of sound bytes. That there are those still willing to stand up for their beliefs—rather than succumbing to the anaesthesia that passes for popular culture. And that there are those who still find joy and health in their communities—of friends and neighbors.

Republicans evading accountability for war crimes

Court Jesters
By Mark Goldberg,
Sept 6th 2004

As America's reputation in the world dwindles to pathetic new lows, and with the United States seeking international support in Iraq and in the fight against terrorism, one might think this an inopportune moment to bait some of our closest foreign allies into unnecessary diplomatic rows. And yet, undeterred, Republican Representatives Tom DeLay and George Nethercutt teamed up on the House floor, and on July 15 they successfully pushed an amendment to the Foreign Operations Appropriations bill that would accomplish just that.

The "Nethercutt Amendment" would withhold economic assistance to America's NATO partners, as well as to some major non-NATO allies such as Jordan, South Africa, and Japan, until these countries sign what are known as "bilateral immunity agreements" (BIAs) that exempt U.S. nationals and foreign contractors from the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court (ICC).

Based in The Hague, Netherlands, the ICC is the first permanent court capable of trying individuals accused of the most serious violations of international humanitarian and human-rights law, namely genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes. Fearful of the ICC's potential to encroach on U.S. sovereignty, the Bush administration and conservatives in Congress have tried to undermine the court ever since the treaty that created the court entered into force in the summer of 2002. The Nethercutt Amendment, however, may be their most aggressive attempt to limit the court. The bill would use the threat of withholding aid from the State Department's Economic Support Fund to blackmail a bevy of U.S. allies into granting Americans immunity from prosecution before the ICC. So far, 92 countries have concluded a BIA with the United States, but there are holdouts. Under the Nethercutt Amendment, these countries would have their economic assistance stripped bare.

Full Story

Sunday, September 05, 2004

History Repeating

"The only propaganda line open to the Nazis and Fascists was to represent themselves as Christian patriots..."

George Orwell, Looking Back on the Spanish War (1943)

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