Saturday, October 16, 2004

Naomi Klein: Why is war-torn Iraq giving $190,000 to Toys R Us?

in the Guardian

Next week, something will happen that will unmask the upside-down morality of the invasion and occupation of Iraq. On October 21, Iraq will pay $200m in war reparations to some of the richest countries and corporations in the world.

If that seems backwards, it's because it is. Iraqis have never been awarded reparations for any of the crimes they suffered under Saddam, or the brutal sanctions regime that claimed the lives of at least half a million people, or the US-led invasion, which the UN secretary general, Kofi Annan, recently called "illegal". Instead, Iraqis are still being forced to pay reparations for crimes committed by their former dictator.

And which companies are in receipt of these ' reparations' based on claims of "lost profits" ? Which companies are effectively asserting that their financial need is greater than that of the citizens of a ravaged war torn country without clean water or electricity, jobs or medical supplies? An unlikely assortment of extortionists:

... Here is a small sample of who has been getting "reparation" awards from Iraq: Halliburton ($18m), Bechtel ($7m), Mobil ($2.3m), Shell ($1.6m), Nestlé ($2.6m), Pepsi ($3.8m), Philip Morris ($1.3m), Sheraton ($11m), Kentucky Fried Chicken ($321,000) and Toys R Us ($189,449). In the vast majority of cases, these corporations did not claim that Saddam's forces damaged their property in Kuwait - only that they "lost profits" or, in the case of American Express, experienced a "decline in business" because of the invasion and occupation of Kuwait. One of the biggest winners has been Texaco, which was awarded $505m in 1999. According to a UNCC spokesperson, only 12% of that reparation award has been paid, which means hundreds of millions more will have to come out of the coffers of post-Saddam Iraq

Full Story

The Freeway Blogger

Has 8 pages of photos of signs that went up all over the U.S. on Freeway Free Speech day

Bush Senior Advisor: We create our own reality

As pointed to by Daily Kos, there are some really chilling passages in Ron Suskind's huge article on Bush, Without a Doubt. Since the publication of his book ''The Price of Loyalty: George W. Bush, the White House and the Education of Paul O'Neill.'', Washington insiders have sought Suskind out to express their anxieties about the Bush administration's culture of faith in which questioning Bush's 'instinct' and 'certainty' is liable to get you sacked:

All of this -- the ''gut'' and ''instincts,'' the certainty and religiosity -connects to a single word, ''faith,'' and faith asserts its hold ever more on debates in this country and abroad. That a deep Christian faith illuminated the personal journey of George W. Bush is common knowledge. But faith has also shaped his presidency in profound, nonreligious ways. The president has demanded unquestioning faith from his followers, his staff, his senior aides and his kindred in the Republican Party. Once he makes a decision -- often swiftly, based on a creed or moral position -- he expects complete faith in its rightness.

The disdainful smirks and grimaces that many viewers were surprised to see in the first presidential debate are familiar expressions to those in the administration or in Congress who have simply asked the president to explain his positions. Since 9/11, those requests have grown scarce; Bush's intolerance of doubters has, if anything, increased, and few dare to question him now. A writ of infallibility -- a premise beneath the powerful Bushian certainty that has, in many ways, moved mountains -- is not just for public consumption: it has guided the inner life of the White House. As Whitman told me on the day in May 2003 that she announced her resignation as administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency: ''In meetings, I'd ask if there were any facts to support our case. And for that, I was accused of disloyalty!'' (Whitman, whose faith in Bush has since been renewed, denies making these remarks and is now a leader of the president's re-election effort in New Jersey.

Closer to the throne things get absolutely Orwellian:

In the summer of 2002, after I had written an article in Esquire that the White House didn't like about Bush's former communications director, Karen Hughes, I had a meeting with a senior adviser to Bush. He expressed the White House's displeasure, and then he told me something that at the time I didn't fully comprehend -- but which I now believe gets to the very heart of the Bush presidency.

The aide said that guys like me were ''in what we call the reality-based community,'' which he defined as people who ''believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality.'' I nodded and murmured something about enlightenment principles and empiricism. He cut me off. ''That's not the way the world really works anymore,'' he continued. ''We're an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you're studying that reality -- judiciously, as you will -- we'll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that's how things will sort out. We're history's actors . . . and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.''

Who besides guys like me are part of the reality-based community? Many of the other elected officials in Washington, it would seem. A group of Democratic and Republican members of Congress were called in to discuss Iraq sometime before the October 2002 vote authorizing Bush to move forward. A Republican senator recently told Time Magazine that the president walked in and said: ''Look, I want your vote. I'm not going to debate it with you.'' When one of the senators began to ask a question, Bush snapped, ''Look, I'm not going to debate it with you.''

Suskind paints a frightening picture of a man who has become completely indifferent to reality:

George W. Bush, clearly, is one of history's great confidence men. That is not meant in the huckster's sense, though many critics claim that on the war in Iraq, the economy and a few other matters he has engaged in some manner of bait-and-switch. No, I mean it in the sense that he's a believer in the power of confidence. At a time when constituents are uneasy and enemies are probing for weaknesses, he clearly feels that unflinching confidence has an almost mystical power. It can all but create reality.

And George has plans for his second term:

The Bush these supporters heard was a triumphal Bush, actively beginning to plan his second term. It is a second term, should it come to pass, that will alter American life in many ways, if predictions that Bush voiced at the luncheon come true.

He said emphatically that he expects the Republicans will gain seats to expand their control of the House and the Senate. According to notes provided to me, and according to several guests at the lunch who agreed to speak about what they heard, he said that ''Osama bin Laden would like to overthrow the Saudis then we're in trouble. Because they have a weapon. They have the oil.'' He said that there will be an opportunity to appoint a Supreme Court justice shortly after his inauguration, and perhaps three more high-court vacancies during his second term.

...After his remarks, Bush opened it up for questions, and someone asked what he's going to do about energy policy with worldwide oil reserves predicted to peak.

Bush said: ''I'm going to push nuclear energy, drilling in Alaska and clean coal. Some nuclear-fusion technologies are interesting.'' He mentions energy from ''processing corn.''

...''I'm going to come out strong after my swearing in,'' Bush said, ''with fundamental tax reform, tort reform, privatizing of Social Security.'' The victories he expects in November, he said, will give us ''two years, at least, until the next midterm. We have to move quickly, because after that I'll be quacking like a duck.''

Rock the Vote told Don't mention the Draft

News via Citizens for Legitimate Government and Talking Points Memo:

RNC Chairman Ed Gillespie has sent a 'cease & desist' letter to Rock the Vote in an attempt to prevent the organisation from discussing the possibility of a draft. In what may be a legal overture the letter threatens to challenge the organisation's tax exempt status and accuses them of 'malicious intent". Rock the Vote's response is here.

Nevada democrat's votes to stay stolen

Blue Lemur reports that a republican judge has disallowed the re-registration of democrat voters whose registrations were systematically destroyed by a republican funded canvassing company.

Police in riot gear fire on crowd with balls loaded with pepper

JACKSONVILLE, Ore. (AP) — Police in riot gear fired paintballs filled with cayenne pepper Thursday night to disperse a crowd of protesters assembled in this historic gold mining town where President Bush was spending the night after a campaign appearance.

Full Story

Signs of Lying

How to spot a liar at Needlenose. Do these tell-tale signs seem familiar?

Image courtesy of AMERICAblog

Civil Liberties declared Obscene

From Common Dreams via American Leftist:

This is how bad things have got: These teachers were ejected from a Bush rally, to which they had valid tickets. Bush campaign officials told them their T-shirts were "obscene".

Rob Hill - Bush's Big Joke

There seems to be an outburst of excellent videos around today, here's another one: "Bush's Big Joke" by Rob Hill at Buzzflash (quicktime and Windows media)

Krugman: Block the Vote

Earlier this week former employees of Sproul & Associates (operating under the name Voters Outreach of America), a firm hired by the Republican National Committee to register voters, told a Nevada TV station that their supervisors systematically tore up Democratic registrations.

The accusations are backed by physical evidence and appear credible. Officials have begun a criminal investigation into reports of similar actions by Sproul in Oregon.

Republicans claim, of course, that they did nothing wrong - and that besides, Democrats do it, too. But there haven't been any comparably credible accusations against Democratic voter-registration organizations. And there is a pattern of Republican efforts to disenfranchise Democrats, by any means possible.

Some of these, like the actions reported in Nevada, involve dirty tricks. For example, in 2002 the Republican Party in New Hampshire hired an Idaho company to paralyze Democratic get-out-the-vote efforts by jamming the party's phone banks.

But many efforts involve the abuse of power. For example, Ohio's secretary of state, a Republican, tried to use an archaic rule about paper quality to invalidate thousands of new, heavily Democratic registrations.

That attempt failed. But in Wisconsin, a Republican county executive insists that in this year, when everyone expects a record turnout, Milwaukee will receive fewer ballots than it got in 2000 or 2002 - a recipe for chaos at polling places serving urban, mainly Democratic voters.

And Florida is the site of naked efforts to suppress Democratic votes, and the votes of blacks in particular.

Florida's secretary of state recently ruled that voter registrations would be deemed incomplete if those registering failed to check a box affirming their citizenship, even if they signed an oath saying the same thing elsewhere on the form. Many counties are, sensibly, ignoring this ruling, but it's apparent that some officials have both used this rule and other technicalities to reject applications as incomplete, and delayed notifying would-be voters of problems with their applications until it was too late.

Whose applications get rejected? A Washington Post examination of rejected applications in Duval County found three times as many were from Democrats, compared with Republicans. It also found a strong tilt toward rejection of blacks' registrations.

The case of Florida's felon list - used by state officials, as in 2000, to try to wrongly disenfranchise thousands of blacks - has been widely reported. Less widely reported has been overwhelming evidence that the errors were deliberate.

In an article coming next week in Harper's, Greg Palast, who originally reported the story of the 2000 felon list, reveals that few of those wrongly purged from the voting rolls in 2000 are back on the voter lists. State officials have imposed Kafkaesque hurdles for voters trying to get back on the rolls. Depending on the county, those attempting to get their votes back have been required to seek clemency for crimes committed by others, or to go through quasi-judicial proceedings to prove that they are not felons with similar names.

And officials appear to be doing their best to make voting difficult for those blacks who do manage to register. Florida law requires local election officials to provide polling places where voters can cast early ballots. Duval County is providing only one such location, when other counties with similar voting populations are providing multiple sites. And in Duval and other counties the early voting sites are miles away from precincts with black majorities.

Next week, I'll address the question of whether the votes of Floridians with the wrong color skin will be fully counted if they are cast. Mr. Palast notes that in the 2000 election, almost 180,000 Florida votes were rejected because they were either blank or contained overvotes. Demographers from the U.S. Civil Rights Commission estimate that 54 percent of the spoiled ballots were cast by blacks. And there's strong evidence that this spoilage didn't reflect voters' incompetence: it was caused mainly by defective voting machines and may also reflect deliberate vote-tampering.

The important point to realize is that these abuses aren't aberrations. They're the inevitable result of a Republican Party culture in which dirty tricks that distort the vote are rewarded, not punished. It's a culture that will persist until voters - whose will still does count, if expressed strongly enough - hold that party accountable.

Originally published in The New York Times, 10.15.04

GOP Hypocrite of the Week: The Republican National Politburo

GOP Hypocrite of the Week

Exclusively available on Radio, the BuzzFlash GOP Hypocrite of the Week Gives Credit Where Credit is Due. Listen to the most recent and then work backwards to our first honoree. Then go to Take Back the Media Radio to listen to their full weekly program (including the BuzzFlash segment.) These guys are great.

And now, without further ado, the GOP Hypocrites of the Week:

October 16, 2004
GOP Hypocrite of the Week: The Republican National Politburo
Listen or Read

Murdoch: Patron of the fearful and the stupid

MediaWatch ponder on why Murdoch's Australian papers ran with a story about a terrorist plot to kill Blair that they knew had already been refuted:

We asked, but none of the editors could explain why they ran a yarn out here, already declared stone dead in London the day before. But here's a theory: there's a shabby idea in the media these days that the punters will buy anything served up as a terrorist story.

Global study finds one-third of amphibians face extinction

A global study revealed yesterday that almost a third of amphibians face extinction - and pollution is cited as the biggest cause. The three-year survey, involving 500 scientists from more than 60 countries, has found that a third of the 5,743 known species are threatened with being wiped out and at least 427 are so critically endangered that they could disappear tomorrow.

Full Story

"Take Back the Media" Does it Again!!

Flash From

Back the Media

From one of my favorite web sites. I hope the radio show comes back soon.

They just get right to the point!

Jon Stewart on Crossfire: "Stop, stop, stop, stop hurting America."

Go Jon Stewart! Windows Media Video here , MPEG4 here courtesy of Media Matters. The transcript is here.

US to use federal pension to fight debt

The Bush administration has now created so much debt that they are raiding government employee's pension funds.

Unless I'm mistaken, the FBI and CIA are Federal employees. They have been misused, abused and now they are being robbed. I foresee some big leaks between now and November 2nd. The Bushies might just get an October surprise of their own.

US President George Bush's administration has weathered a pre-election mauling by announcing emergency measures to skirt a $7.38-trillion debt limit.

Treasury Secretary John Snow said he would use pension money to keep the government running.

In a letter to US Senate majority leader Bill Frist on Thursday, Snow said he was immediately suspending payments to a federal employees' retirement scheme, the Government Securities Investment Fund (G-Fund).

...Democrats pounced on the news as evidence of fiscal mismanagement by the administration, less than three weeks before Bush faces Democratic challenger Senator John Kerry in the 2 November presidential election.

"George Bush continues to make history for all the wrong reasons: He's the first president to go without creating a new job since the Great Depression and now he's run up more debt in [a] shorter period of time than all the presidents combined in the 200 years from Washington through Reagan," said Kerry campaign spokesman Phil Singer.

"On top of that, this is the third time he's broken his promise not to raise the debt ceiling.

Full Story

Axing the ABC news feed

We are about to Axe the ABC news feed. After complaining over a week ago about our Australian Broadcasting Corp news feed running ads for the Republican party we still haven't heard anything from them and it hasn't stopped.

What is an Australian station, supposedly free of government and commercial interests doing running any ads in their news feed, let alone ads such as today's: "ADV: Help President Bush Beat Kerry"? The news feeds we have from commercial news organisations don't put ads in them, why is the ABC doing it?

News feeds are a form of broadcast media as far as I'm concerned and this is a breach of the ABC's code of practice. We signed up for a news feed from a source widely perceived as reliable and politically neutral (or as neutral as is realistically possible). Having this kind of crap appear on our front page was definitely not what we expected from them.

US to use federal pension to fight debt

The Bush administration has now created so much debt that they are raiding government employee's pension funds.

Unless I'm mistaken, the FBI and CIA are Federal employees. They have been misused, abused and now they are being robbed. I foresee some big leaks between now and November 2nd. The Bushies might just get an October surprise of their own.

US President George Bush's administration has weathered a pre-election mauling by announcing emergency measures to skirt a $7.38-trillion debt limit.

Treasury Secretary John Snow said he would use pension money to keep the government running.

In a letter to US Senate majority leader Bill Frist on Thursday, Snow said he was immediately suspending payments to a federal employees' retirement scheme, the Government Securities Investment Fund (G-Fund).

Democrats pounced on the news as evidence of fiscal mismanagement by the administration, less than three weeks before Bush faces Democratic challenger Senator John Kerry in the 2 November presidential election.

"George Bush continues to make history for all the wrong reasons: He's the first president to go without creating a new job since the Great Depression and now he's run up more debt in [a] shorter period of time than all the presidents combined in the 200 years from Washington through Reagan," said Kerry campaign spokesman Phil Singer.

"On top of that, this is the third time he's broken his promise not to raise the debt ceiling.

Full Story

17 US soldiers held in Iraq after disobeying orders

The Military is the neocons weak link part 942. Its starting:

A PLATOON of United States soldiers were under arrest in Iraq last night after refusing to carry out a dangerous mission for which they say they were inadequately equipped.

In the extraordinary incident, which suggests the morale of US forces might be much lower than previously thought, 17 soldiers from the US army reserve disobeyed the order to deliver fuel to Taji, north of Baghdad, on the grounds that their vehicles were considered "deadlined" or extremely unsafe, and unable to travel at above 40mph on the Iraqi roads.

The unit was also not offered the usual convoy escort of armed Humvees and attack helicopters, it was reported.

The event is a gift to US president George Bush’s opponent John Kerry, who has consistently criticised the handling of the war.

It also increases the concerns for British troops in Iraq after reports that the Black Watch regiment could be put under US command and sent into hotspots like Baghdad or Najaf.

A statement from the US army’s press centre in Baghdad yesterday confirmed the soldiers’ rebellion: "The Commander General of the 13 Corps Support Group has appointed a deputy commander to lead an investigation into allegations that members of the 343 Quartermaster Company refused to participate in their assigned convoy mission on 13 October."

Relatives have defended the soldiers’ decision.

Patricia McCook said her husband, a staff sergeant, understood what it meant to disobey orders. But he did not feel comfortable taking his soldiers on another trip.

"He told me that three of the vehicles they were to use were deadlined ... not safe to go in a hotbed like that," Mrs McCook told the Clarion-Ledger newspaper of Mississippi.

The refusal to carry out orders will fuel persistent claims that the US military in Iraq is inadequately equipped and undermanned.

The US army has already announced it will prevent soldiers in units set for deployment to Iraq and Afghanistan from leaving the service at the end of their terms, in a move that critics have described as a return of the draft.

The announcement, an expansion of an army programme called "stop-loss", means that thousands of soldiers who had expected to retire or otherwise leave the military must now stay on for the duration of their deployment to those combat zones.

The US army is also struggling to find fresh units to continue the US-led campaign in Iraq.

Full Story

Friday, October 15, 2004

Poll reveals world anger at Bush

The Global surveys are flying almost as thick and fast as American reports of voter fraud. Here's another one.

The Guardian

Eight out of 10 countries favour Kerry for president

Alan Travis, home affairs editor
Friday October 15, 2004

George Bush has squandered a wealth of sympathy around the world towards America since September 11 with public opinion in 10 leading countries - including some of its closest allies - growing more hostile to the United States while he has been in office.

According to a survey, voters in eight out of the 10 countries, including Britain, want to see the Democrat challenger, John Kerry, defeat President Bush in next month's US presidential election.

The poll, conducted by 10 of the world's leading newspapers, including France's Le Monde, Japan's Asahi Shimbun, Canada's La Presse, the Sydney Morning Herald and the Guardian, also shows that on balance world opinion does not believe that the war in Iraq has made a positive contribution to the fight against terror.

The results show that in Australia, Britain, Canada, France, Japan, Spain and South Korea a majority of voters share a rejection of the Iraq invasion, contempt for the Bush administration, a growing hostility to the US and a not-too-strong endorsement of Mr Kerry. But they all make a clear distinction between this kind of anti-Americanism and expressing a dislike of American people. On average 68% of those polled say they have a favourable opinion of Americans.

The 10-country poll suggests that rarely has an American administration faced such isolation and lack of public support amongst its closest allies.

The only exceptions to this trend are the Israelis - who back Bush 2-1 over Kerry and see the US as their security umbrella - and the Russians who, despite their traditional anti-Americanism, recorded unexpectedly favourable attitudes towards the US in the survey conducted in the immediate aftermath of the Beslan tragedy.

The UK results of the poll conducted by ICM research for the Guardian reveal a growing disillusionment with the US amongst the British public, fuelled by a strong personal antipathy towards Mr Bush.

The ICM survey shows that if the British had a vote in the US presidential elections on November 2 they would vote 50% for Kerry and only 22% for Bush.

Sixty per cent of British voters say they don't like Bush, rising to a startling 77% among those under 25.

The rejection of Mr Bush is strongest in France where 72% say they would back Mr Kerry but it is also very strong in traditionally very pro-American South Korea, where fears of a pre-emptive US strike against North Korea have translated into 68% support for Mr Kerry.

In Britain the growth in anti-Americanism is not so marked as in France, Japan, Canada, South Korea or Spain where more than 60% say their view of the United States has deteriorated since September 11. But a sizeable and emerging minority - 45% - of British voters say their image of the US has got worse in the past three years and only 15% say it has improved.

There is a widespread agreement that America will remain the world's largest economic power.

This is underlined by the 73% of British voters who say that the US now wields an excessive influence on international affairs, a situation that 67% see as continuing for the foreseeable future.

A majority in Britain also believe that US democracy is no longer a model for others.

But perhaps a more startling finding from the Guardian/ICM poll is that a majority of British voters - 51% - say that they believe that American culture is threatening our own culture.

This is a fear shared by the Canadians, Mexicans and South Koreans, but it is more usually associated with the French than the British. Perhaps the endless television reruns of Friends and the Simpsons are beginning to take their toll.

· ICM interviewed a random sample of 1,008 adults aged 18 and over by telephone between September 22-23 2004. Interviews were conducted across the country and the results have been weighted to the profile of all adults.

Interestingly, Britons are beginning to regard the US as a threat to their culture. This is an entirely new phenomenon:

Strikingly, though, political differences may now be casting shadows in other areas. Young Britons, avid consumers of Big Macs, Starbucks and Friends, are now hostile to American culture on a scale traditionally associated with the French. Canada, Mexico and South Korea feel even more threatened. It is common ground that Iraq and the Guantánamo Bay and Abu Ghraib scandals have eroded the sympathy generated by the 2001 terrorist attacks. Encouragingly for whoever does win, 90% believe it is important to maintain good relations with the US. The danger is, perhaps, of expecting too much from a Kerry victory.

U.S. Rejects U.N. Plan for Women

From Associated Press/LA Times via Body & Soul and After School Snack.

I am seriously worried for American women. Women's rights are going backwards in the US. Women's rights may not be good in many countries but they are largely moving forward.

October 14, 2004

UNITED NATIONS — The United States has refused to join 85 heads of state and government in signing a statement that endorsed a 10-year-old U.N. plan to ensure every woman's right to education, healthcare and choice about having children.

The Bush administration said it withheld its signature because the statement included a reference to "sexual rights."

Kelly Ryan, deputy assistant secretary of State, wrote to backers of the plan that the United States was committed "to the empowerment of women and the need to promote women's fullest enjoyment of universal human rights."

"The United States is unable, however, to endorse the world leaders' statement," Ryan said, because it "includes the concept of 'sexual rights,' a term that has no agreed definition in the international community."

Ryan did not elaborate. At previous U.N. meetings, U.S. representatives have spoken out against abortion, gay rights and what they see as the promotion of promiscuity by distributing condoms to prevent AIDS.

The statement was signed by leaders of 85 nations, including those in the European Union, China, Japan, Indonesia, Pakistan and more than a dozen African countries, as well as 22 former world leaders.

Thursday, October 14, 2004

Howard's actual significance

This extract of Seymour Hersch's speech is courtesy of A Tiny Revolution. This is how significant you really are Howard, you ego- inflated little jerk:

If Bush gets in, what's going to happen, I think, he's going to escalate. I think Europe's gonna change. The UN's gonna change because Europe's going to unite against us. The Germans and the French will definitely lead. I think the Brits, even with Blair, I think Blair's beginning to soften all the way now, he's probably going to get reelected. I don't know what's gonna happen in Australia, but that guy might lose, the pro-war guy, but in any case, Blair will probably get to be reelected. But I think he's softening. Europe's going to be a new collective against us. Against Bush. There's that much anger against him now. It's really serious.
You chose the wrong side fool.

Inymedia's ISP seizure: Diebold's Revenge?

The Sideshow points out that Indymedia had posted incriminating internal Diebold memos, for which Diebold had unsuccessfully attempted to sue their ISP:

.. Diebold lost its copyright case against the ISP for Indybay, the San Francisco Bay Area Independent Media Center, the US. District Court ordered Diebold to pay damages and fees for illegally threatening ISPs for copyright violation while knowing that the documents posted by Indymedia weren't copyrighted.

While Diebold has been busy trying to scrub their email archives, the memos were still available to the public on the IndyMedia servers.

Coincidence? I doubt it.

Howard's tongue needs to be surgically removed from Bush's butt

I can't decide if I want to throw up or punch something. The only comfort is the knowledge that as far as the rest of the world is concerned Howard is an insignificant, deluded little twat and Australia is a wholly owned subsidiary of the US. Howard appears to think that his re-election by a bunch of self-serving whores is somehow an endorsement of Bush. Very wrong. Howard was re-elected because he bribed people into dissociating his party from its tongue up arse relationship with Bush. The vast majority of Australians hate Bush as much as the rest of the world and at least 50% of Americans do. If Howard thinks any other country gives a stuff about his opinion he really is suffering from delusions of grandeur. Population wise Australia is a small country and Howard is a small man with small mean mind and tiny morals.

The Prime Minister yesterday all but endorsed George Bush's re-election as he told an international audience that his emphatic election win was a vindication of Australia's stance to "stay and finish the job" in Iraq.

With strong global interest in the Australian poll as the first of several referenda on the war in Iraq, John Howard and the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Alexander Downer, hit foreign media outlets to help out partners in the US-led coalition of the willing.

With the US soon to go to the polls and Iraq looming as a far more significant issue, Mr Howard said he could work with whoever became president.

However, while Mr Howard paid lip service to diplomatic impartiality, he waxed lyrical about Mr Bush's leadership and studiously avoided complimenting his Democrat challenger, John Kerry.

"George Bush always sends a very clear cut strong view and, in the end in politics, that is very important," he told CNN. "People will vote for you because they respect the strength and consistency of your view, even though on a given issue they may not agree with you."

Mr Howard's son Richard is working for Mr Bush's re-election campaign and the Prime Minister has a close relationship with his US counterpart, whom he saluted yesterday as consultative, yet decisive.

"I respect him very much as an individual and a very strong leader and I think that the strength of his stand against terrorism has been very important."

Full Story

Voter Fraud again and again and again...

Oregon officials have opened an investigation into alleged improper voter registration practices, Secretary of State Bill Bradbury said Wednesday.

The investigation follows a television report in which a paid-per-registration canvasser said he had been instructed only to accept registrations from Republicans, and that he "might" destroy those from Democrats.

It was not immediately clear what group employed the canvasser.

Bradbury said the investigation would be based not only on the KGW-TV report, but also on other complaints that have not yet been made public.

In Roseburg, Douglas County Clerk Barbara Nielsen said she had received a complaint from voters who said canvassers working for a Chandler, Ariz.-based consulting firm, Sproul & Associates, tried to push them into registering as Republicans, saying otherwise the canvassers wouldn't get paid for their efforts.

Additionally, Nielsen said she had gotten calls from voters who said canvassers from the same group had implied that their cards wouldn't be turned in if they registered as Democrats.

Full Story

Israel retracts UN "missile" allegation

Adding insult to genocide, Israel has been flinging ludicrous allegations around at the UN:

The Israeli army has retracted its accusation that Palestinian resistance fighters in
Gaza used a UN ambulance to transport a rocket for firing at Israel.

The UNRWA (United Nations Relief and Works Agency) said it needed a full public apology to safeguard the security of UN staff operating in the area.

Israel raised a stir at the United Nations last week with its accusation against the Gaza-based UN agency which hinged on a blurry video recorded by an airborne military drone.

An army statement on Wednesday said an inquiry concluded "the nature of the object loaded on the vehicle cannot be determined with certainty. Thus the determination that the object loaded was a Qassam rocket was too unequivocal and made in haste."

UNRWA said the Israeli statement was insufficient.

"We are asking for an apology that is just as well publicised as the original accusation," spokesman Paul McCann said. "Not for the sake of wounded pride but to assist in the safety of our staff."

UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan appealed to Israel to handle future complaints "through normal diplomatic channels ... so that the matter may be properly investigated".

Israel originally asserted that a long, thin object that was photographed being loaded into a vehicle with UN markings was a Qassam rocket, a crude type of weapon frequently fired by Palestinian resistance fighters at illegal settlements and towns in southern Israel.

UNRWA said the object was a stretcher, not a rocket.

The Israeli army on 5 October backed away from the accusation and removed the video from its website, saying doubts had been raised that warranted further investigation.

An Israeli security source said the fact that one person had lifted the object "suggested it was not heavy enough" to be a rocket.

Full Story

No Child Left Behind (Take Two)

No Child Left Behind

Rise in black turnout could hurt Bush

By David Usborne in New York

14 October 2004

Black leaders are predicting a higher turnout among African-Americans in November's presidential election, a factor that could prove crucial in tipping the race in favour of John Kerry.

One group, Hip Hop Summit Action, is boasting it has persuaded an additional 2 million blacks to register to vote.

The Kerry campaign is, meanwhile, turning to a new superstar in the Democratic Party to boost turnout numbers. He is Barack Obama, the Illinois state senator who wowed the party's Boston convention in July with his keynote speech. Mr Obama is so far ahead in his bid to capture a US Senate seat that he is increasingly switching his time and dollars to campaigning for Mr Kerry.

Latest polls give Mr Obama a 45-point lead over his Republican opponent, Alan Keyes, in Illinois. The two men joined in a first face-to-face debate on Monday night but there is little suspense over who will be the victor. History is being made meanwhile - it is the first time both parties have fielded black candidates to battle one another and, barring a miracle upset, Mr Obama will be only the fifth African-American to take a seat in the Senate.

Full Story

Power Cut

A longer than usual gap between posts owing to a power cut last night that lasted from 5pm to midnight. Yesterday was the hottest October day on record in Sydney. I blame Exxon!

Energy Australia blamed the power cut on a possible fire at the substation. Surely they know whether they had a fire at the substation or not. My guess is that everyone turned their air-conditioners etc on at once and it was too much for the system.

Personally I hate air-conditioning. If I wanted to be in a cold environment I would have stayed in England. Sydney operates on a 9-5 basis, even when its 35 degrees centigrade. They rely on air-conditioning to be able to do it. If everyone would just live according to the season - get up early, have a siesta when it gets stinking hot - they could potentially save a lot of electricity. Whoops! My idealism is showing.

It nevertheless seems to me that everyone in hot Western world cities like Sydney is fighting nature. As Daniel Quinn points out in Ishmael, the ultimate goal of the desire to conquer nature is to kill it, which is suicide.

Australia's reservoirs are down to 30 to 40 percent. Some of them will be empty by May if the drought keeps up. This is being treated as a problem when it should be treated as a crisis. Australia is one of the first countries to be affected by global warming, it is one of the most vulnerable, but idiot Howard will not sign the Kyoto treaty! The short-sightedness beggars belief. Whoever has the most things when he dies wins. Screw future generations. Screw the planet if it interferes with rich white men's bank balances.

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

Radio controlled Bush-bot?

From via Atrios. The mystery lump appears to be permanent

Sinclair rewarded with surveillance contract

Raw Story's blog The Blue Lemur reports:

Sinclair Broadcasting Group, under fire for ordering its 62 networks to broadcast a film sharply critical of John Kerry’s opposition to the Vietnam War, is a major investor in a company recently awarded a military contract by the Bush Administration, RAW STORY has learned.

Jadoo Power Systems, Inc., a producer of portable power systems, announced Sept. 28 that it had been awarded a contract to supply its products, which are used for covert surveillance operations, to US Special Operations Command. According to the SOCOM website, SOCOM “plans, directs, and executes special operations in the conduct of the War on Terrorism.”

Jadoo, whose name in Hindi means “magic,” is owned by Sinclair Ventures, Inc. and Contango Capital Management. Sinclair Ventures is “a wholly owned subsidiary of Sinclair Broadcast Group, Inc. as well as other individuals.”

Full Story

Yet More Voter Fraud

From Citizens for Legitimate Government:

(Oct. 12) -- Employees of a private voter registration company allege that hundreds, perhaps thousands of voters who may think they are registered will be rudely surprised on election day. The company claims hundreds of registration forms were thrown in the trash.

Anyone who has recently registered or re-registered to vote outside a mall or grocery store or even government building may be affected.

The I-Team has obtained information about an alleged widespread pattern of potential registration fraud aimed at democrats. Thee focus of the story is a private registration company called Voters Outreach of America, AKA America Votes.

The out-of-state firm has been in Las Vegas for the past few months, registering voters. It employed up to 300 part-time workers and collected hundreds of registrations per day, but former employees of the company say that Voters Outreach of America only wanted Republican registrations.

Two former workers say they personally witnessed company supervisors rip up and trash registration forms signed by Democrats.

"We caught her taking Democrats out of my pile, handed them to her assistant and he ripped them up right in front of us. I grabbed some of them out of the garbage and she tells her assisatnt to get those from me," said Eric Russell, former Voters Outreach employee.

Eric Russell managed to retrieve a pile of shredded paperwork including signed voter registration forms, all from Democrats. We took them to the Clark County Election Department and confirmed that they had not, in fact, been filed with the county as required by law.

So the people on those forms who think they will be able to vote on Election Day are sadly mistaken. We attempted to speak to Voters Outreach but found that its office has been rented out to someone else.

The landlord says Voters Outreach was evicted for non-payment of rent. Another source said the company has now moved on to Oregon where it is once again registering voters. It's unknown how many registrations may have been tossed out, but another ex-employee told Eyewitness News she had the same suspicions when she worked there.

It's going to take a while to sort all of this out, but the immediate concern for voters is to make sure you really are registered.

Call the Clark County Election Department at 455-VOTE orclick here to see if you are registered.

The company has been largely, if not entirely funded, by the Republican National Committee. Similar complaints have been received in Reno where the registrar has asked the FBI to investigate.

Question Mark over Maccas

From the Iconic to the Ironic: The Guardian reports that MacDonalds are planning to drop the golden arches logo in favour of a giant question mark. I kid you not. This gives sooo much ammunition to Macca mockers like me (ie, people who only eat food). A question mark over the fat and plastic contents of their menu, a question mark over their quality, a question mark over their future and obviously a question mark over the sanity of their marketing department.

Sandra Laville
Wednesday October 13, 2004
The Guardian

The golden arches of McDonald's are among the three most recognisable images across the globe. From the third world through to the developed west, only Coca-Cola and the crucifix are better known. Consider then just how far outside the box a group of advertising executives were thinking at the brainstorming session which came up with this one. Ronald McDonald should ditch his golden arches and opt instead for ... a great big question mark.

Leaked to a marketing magazine yesterday, news of the temporary rebranding - which was due to be launched across the country on Friday - left communications staff and advertising executives desperately trying to regain ground.

Locked in meetings at McDonald's UK headquarters at east Finchley, north London, they emerged later to mount a vigorous defence of the new advertising campaign in which the iconic arches are replaced by a golden query, intended to signify a change in the brand from junk food to healthy eating.

No, it had nothing to do with recent figures which saw profits at its 770 British restaurants fall by 71% to £23m last year. Neither did the box office hit Super Size Me, which charts the catastrophic effect on film director Morgan Spurlock of a month-long diet of only McDonald's food, have anything to do with the decision.

Full Story

Seymour Hersch

Recently gave a speech to students at the University of California. Common Dreams discusses it and has a webcast.


My government has a secret unit that since December of 2001 has been disappearing people just like the Brazilians and the Argentineans did. Rumsfeld decided after 9/11 that he could not wait. The president signed a secret document…There's a team of people, they fly in unmarked planes, they fly in Gulfstreams, they have their own choppers, they don't carry American passports, and they just grab people. And maybe in the beginning I can understand there was some rationale. Right after 9/11 we were frightened, we didn't know what to do …

We are witnessing the death of American moral credibility.

Man of Straw withdraws claim that cost lives and jobs

From the BBC

Jack Straw has told MPs the claim Saddam Hussein could use weapons of mass destruction within 45 minutes has been officially withdrawn.

The claim was at the heart of an unprecedented row between the BBC and the government which led to the death of David Kelly and the Hutton inquiry.

It also led to the persecution of the BBC, the resignation of its Director General Greg Dyke, Chairman Gavyn Davies, news director Richard Sambrook and jounalist Andrew Gilligan who broke the story.

"not being able to feel," A psychiatrist on Bush and Satan Dick!

This was on the Unfiltered Blog today.

On the topic of "not being able to feel," this related material hit my inbox yesterday. It came to me unattributed, but I found it a really interesting read - particularly the section on Cheney...


A psychiatrist, with years of clinical experience, who works for the local government, offered the following clinical analysis of the conduct of President Bush and Vice President Cheney in their respective debates.

On Bush: The President clearly suffers from a severe paranoia that causes him to greatly fear situations in which he is exposed to people hostile to his delusional viewpoints. Bush entered the debate exhibiting this paranoia, which caused him to enter a thick "shell mode", rendering him incapable of responding to events or personalities. "Bush was in his own world, his own protective psychological shell. To `get through to the other side' [to make it through the debate--lsw], he essentially blotted out all reality, proceeding from some kind of
programmed response to prompts; when the expected prompts did not
occur, he could not formulate responses and was reduced to mumbling
repetitions of memorized formulations."

The source said that the debate format -- especially the lack of any audience response that might have been positive to his mumblings -- locked him deeper into this shell. In this state, Bush was completely
unaware that his infantile reactions were being witnessed by millions, nor did he have any control over them. "It would not have mattered even if the lights went off while he was speaking, his paranoid fear had left him so unaware of the world outside his shell."

Individuals such as Bush, the source stated, despite their bravura, need to be constantly reassured, and absent that reassurance, tend to fall apart. This type of psychopathological behavior is characteristic of a person "who is easily manipulated by those who offer reassurances, who reinforce their delusions."

The source said that Bush is a clinically pathetic case, who cannot think about any actions or decisions in a stressful situation, but must act from within a paranoid shell, who is the easy prey of strong-willed people, on whom he must depend.

On Cheney: This man is a sociopath -- he is devoid of both conscience and access to his emotions, other than pure rage. As such, it is the most dangerous type of disorder, since such people are not human in any way that a normal person can understand: they might look human, but are incapable of relating to people as human beings. This is clear from his eyes and facial expression: the glare lets us seek through the mask, to the intense rage beneath it. Edwards was freaked out by this --
it is unlikely that he had ever sat down so close to this type of sociopath. Think what must be going through his head as he
looks across the table at this monster.

That is the way such people try control others, with an intense effort to impose their will through using that monster-like characteristic of their personalities. Cheney's behavior is cold-bloodedly rational,
uninfluenced by truth, or even the response of the other person(s).

"I feel sorry for Edwards -- someone sat him across a small table from a killer, who sits there glaring at him. One can provoke such an individual by standing up to him as one stands up to a bully, by countering his assertions and lies, but you have to be prepared for the horrible rage that will explode outward. I guess he wasn't prepared for that, but I think that, regardless, many people will come away terrified of Dick Cheney."
Posted by: Irys at October 12, 2004 10:59 AM (EST)

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

Australia’s samidzat

John Pilger at Green Left Weekly


Never, in my experience, has free journalism been as vulnerable to subversion on a grand, often unrecognisable scale. Giant public relations companies, employed by the state and other vested interests, now account for much of the editorial content of the media, however insidious their methods and indirect their message. This is another kind of “embedding”, known in military circles as “information dominance”, which in turn is part of “full spectrum dominance”. The objective is the merging of information control and the nominally free media.

How do we react to this? My own view is that the immediate future lies with the emerging samidzat, the word for the unofficial media during the late Soviet period. Given the current technology, the potential is huge. On the worldwide web, the best alternative websites are already read by an audience of millions. The courageous reporting of a new breed of “citizen reporters” from besieged Iraq has provided an antidote to the “embedded” coverage of the official media. In the United States, independent newspapers flourish alongside popular independent community-based radio stations, such as Pacifica and Amy Goodman's Democracy Now.

Full Story

Exxon tells its staff who to vote for

Following hot on the heels of yesterday's story about Exxon's obscene profits for the obscene amount of global pollution it is reponsible for, comes news from Greenpeace that the evil giant is telling its corporate serfs who to vote for. I like to think of myself as a nice person butI hope they all burn in hell. With global warming now increasing exponentially it looks like we all will.

Exxon is mailing its 34,000 employees with election materials and helpful voter guides which -- surprise! --give the Republican Party gold star ratings for spurning global warming regulation, supporting drilling for oil in the Arctic wildlife refuge, and letting oil refineries release more pollution by weakening the Clean Air Act.

Exxon is informing not only its employees but also retirees and contractors how they should vote in upcoming presidential and congressional races across the US.

"We obviously are promoting candidates who are pro-business and candidates who recognize the importance of a viable policy on energy," Ken Cohen, the vice president for public affairs and the chairman of ExxonMobil's PAC, said. "Republicans more often tend to line up on those issues than Democrats."

In 2000 Exxon gave 91 percent (US$1.37 million) of it political donations to the Republican Party. Exxon was more than amply repaid when President GW Bush promptly withdrew the US from the only global treaty to control global warming, the Kyoto Protocol.

Full Story

Oh! What a feeling! My vote to send Dubya's ass back to Tejas. Maybe even to where he actualy comes from. Next stop Prison!

Today was a great day! My absentee ballot arrived. Including everything down to dog catcher! I was beginning to think I'd have to get a write in. Then the Postman came with a thick envelope. From Oroville, California. Nice to know I could vote to keep Bidwell Park and Chico Ca. the wonderful place it is.
I sat with a cup of coffee, the how to vote book, the web (to look up the candidates) and took great pleasure in filling out my "Get Fucked Bush" Ballot! I hope all ex-pats enjoy the process as much as I have.

Boycott Sinclair Broadcasting

A new resource

Freeway Free Speech Day

It is the Eve of the Freeway blogger's National Freeway Free Speech Day. Join the 770+ signposters in 190 Cities in 45 states and make a statement.

The inimitable Steve Bell

The medium is the message

This sculpture which is for sale on e-bay is entirely made of bullshit. Only the best quality Angus bullshit of course.

The Artist describes the work as "a portrait sculptured relief of George W. Bush to commiserate his presidency."

The CIA 'old guard' goes to war with Bush

Here's some good news. I have been wondering how long the Bushies would get away with their game of shoot the messenger. I've been really curious about how CIA and FBI agents feel about being used to oppress their fellow citizens and getting abused rather than rewarded for their complicity. It looks like the cracks are beginning to show:

By Phillip Sherwell in Washington
(Filed: 10/10/2004)

A powerful "old guard" faction in the Central Intelligence Agency has launched an unprecedented campaign to undermine the Bush administration with a battery of damaging leaks and briefings about Iraq.

The White House is incensed by the increasingly public sniping from some senior intelligence officers who, it believes, are conducting a partisan operation to swing the election on November 2 in favour of John Kerry, the Democratic candidate, and against George W Bush.

Jim Pavitt, a 31-year CIA veteran who retired as a departmental chief in August, said that he cannot recall a time of such "viciousness and vindictiveness" in a battle between the White House and the agency.

John Roberts, a conservative security analyst, commented bluntly: "When the President cannot trust his own CIA, the nation faces dire consequences."

Relations between the White House and the agency are widely regarded as being at their lowest ebb since the hopelessly botched Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba by CIA-sponsored exiles under President John F Kennedy in 1961.

There is anger within the CIA that it has taken all the blame for the failings of pre-war intelligence on Saddam Hussein's weapons programmes.

Former senior CIA officials argue that so-called "neo-conservative" hawks such as the vice president, Dick Cheney, the secretary of defence, Donald Rumsfeld, and his number three at the defence department, Douglas Feith, have prompted the ill-feeling by demanding "politically acceptable" results from the agency and rejecting conclusions they did not like. Yet Colin Powell, the less hardline secretary of state, has also been scathing in his criticism of pre-war intelligence briefings.

The leaks are also a shot across the bows of Porter Goss, the agency's new director and a former Republican congressman. He takes over with orders from the White House to end the in-fighting and revamp the troubled spy agency as part of a radical overhaul of the American intelligence world.

Bill Harlow, the former CIA spokesman who left with the former director George Tenet in July, acknowledged that there had been leaks from within the agency. "The intelligence community has been made the scapegoat for all the failings over Iraq," he said. "It deserves some of the blame, but not all of it. People are chafing at that, and that's the background to these leaks."

Fighting to defend their patch ahead of the future review, anti-Bush CIA operatives have ensured that Iraq remains high on the election campaign agenda long after Republican strategists such as Karl Rove, the President's closest adviser, had hoped that it would fade from the front pages.

In the latest clash, a senior former CIA agent revealed that Mr Cheney "blew up" when a report into links between the Saddam regime and Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the terrorist behind the kidnappings and beheadings of hostages in Iraq, including the Briton Kenneth Bigley, proved inconclusive.

Other recent leaks have included the contents of classified reports drawn up by CIA analysts before the invasion of Iraq, warning the White House about the dangers of post-war instability. Specifically, the reports said that rogue Ba'athist elements might team up with terrorist groups to wage a guerrilla war.

Critics of the White House include officials who have served in previous Republican administrations such as Vince Cannistraro, a former CIA head of counter-terrorism and member of the National Security Council under Ronald Reagan.

"These have been an extraordinary four years for the CIA and the political pressure to come up with the right results has been enormous, particularly from Vice-President Cheney.

"I'm afraid that the agency is guilty of bending over backwards to please the administration. George Tenet was desperate to give them what they wanted and that was a complete disaster."

With the simmering rows breaking out in public, the Wall Street Journal declared in an editorial that the administration was now fighting two insurgencies: one in Iraq and one at the CIA.

In a difficult week for President Bush leading up to Friday's presidential debate, the CIA-led Iraqi Survey Group confirmed that Saddam had had no weapons of mass destruction, while Mr Rumsfeld distanced himself from the administration's long-held assertion of ties between Saddam and the al-Qaeda terror network.

Earlier, unguarded comments by Paul Bremer, the former American administrator of Iraq who said that America "never had enough troops on the ground", had given the row about post-war strategy on the ground fresh impetus.

With just 23 days before the country votes for its next president, both sides are braced for further bruising encounters.

Putting the Sin in Sinclair

Courtesy of Atrios.
I know its a cheap shot, but since they give it they are up for recieving it too

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pennsylvania)

August 17, 1996, Saturday, SOONER EDITION

David D. Smith, president and chief executive officer of Sinclair Broadcast Group, was arrested this week in his hometown of Baltimore and charged with a misdemeanor sex offense. Sinclair owns WPGH, the Fox affiliate in Pittsburgh, and programs most of WPTT.

The Baltimore Sun reported that Smith, 45, was arrested Tuesday night in an undercover sting at a downtown corner frequented by prostitutes.

On Thursday night, Sinclair issued a statement that Smith's arrest was unrelated to company business and ''The company will continue to operate under the direction of its current management.''

Unrelated to company business? I don't know - both industries employ whores.

No Democratic Media = No Democracy

The former is the Index of the latter. The mainstream media has so patently become the proaganda arm of the republican party that its past time that we had a new word for them. This is not news, it is not journalism. It should be illegal and would have been if the republicans hadn't dismantled the media regulations that were designed to guarantee balance. My advice would be boycott all of it - Sinclair, Fox, and the whole twisted pack of them. They can only get away with this because people will take it. They are still dependent on the audience. Unfortunately I know that won't happen and so do they. Their political ideology is embedded in all of their programming not just the so-called 'news' programs. Too many Americans are psychologically dependent on the myth of America such stations perpetrate. Everyday stations like Fox and Sinclair are building into the myth the idea that Liberal ideology threatens the security blanket the myth constitutes. Do they even care if its true? I might go as far as to suggest that America's addiction to its own myth of itself is the most dangerous drug of all.

From's News Dissector Blog:

It's been a while since we last heard from the Sinclair Broadcasting Company. You will recall that they were the folks who refused to air Ted Koppel's Nightline program naming the names of Americans killed in Vietnam. When we looked into it, we found that 97% of the political donations made by their execs were in the Bush Cheney campaign coffers.

Now they are back in the news with a report that they have ordered, make that ORDERED, their affiliates to broadcast a slanted documentary made by a former Washington Times reporter slamming John Kerry and his service in Vietnam. This story, first reported by Elizabeth Jenson in the LA Times has now been picked up around the country. Here's the Press Telegram version:

"The Sinclair Broadcast Group is ordering its TV stations across the country to air a documentary on the eve of the presidential election that attacks Sen. John Kerry's anti-Vietnam War activism, the Los Angeles Times reported Saturday.

"The one-hour program, "Stolen Honor: Wounds That Never Heal," features former prisoners of war accusing Kerry, a decorated veteran who took up the antiwar cause upon returning from Vietnam, of prolonging the war and worsening their plight. The newspaper said the program is to be followed by a panel discussion to which Kerry will be invited, which could satisfy fairness regulations.

"It is expected to be broadcast between Oct. 21 and Oct. 24, depending on the city, the Times said, citing sources it didn't identify. A call by The Associated Press on Saturday to Sinclair's headquarters in Maryland was not immediately returned.

"Sinclair either owns or programs content for stations in 62 markets around the country, including Baltimore, Pittsburgh, Las Vegas and Sacramento. Fourteen of the stations are located in such swing states as Ohio, Florida, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.

"Kerry campaign officials criticized the plan and said the candidate had not been invited to take part in any discussion."

Actually Sinclair later did invite Kerry to appear on a post film panel. He had the good sense to refuse to play the role of a patsy in this media set up.

From Jay Rosen's Blog

Los Angeles Times, Conservative TV Group to Air Anti-Kerry Film (Oct. 9).

The upcoming "Stolen Honor" will probably bring fresh attention to Sinclair. "I can't think of a precedent of holding up programming to show a political documentary at a point where it would have the maximum effect on the vote," said Jay Rosen, chairman of New York University's journalism department.

And I still can't.

This part is crucial:

...although broadcast stations are required to provide equal time to major candidates in an election campaign, the Sinclair move may not run afoul of those provisions if Kerry or a representative is offered time to respond. Moreover, several sources said Sinclair had told them it planned to classify the program as news, where the rules don't apply.

The sources Jensen had did not know much about this invitation to a "panel discussion" and the Kerry camp said no such invite came. But it's critical to Sinclair's strategy to make some public wave at fairness. The "news program" is that. You invite Kerry to his dismemberment, and then ask him if he wants to respond.

Of course he's going to say no, and you can say publicly: we gave him a chance, he turned us down. That's the thinking. (And sure enough, a Kerry spokesman, Chad Clanton, told the New York Times, "It's hard to take an offer seriously from a group that is hellbent on doing anything to help elect President Bush even if that means violating basic journalism standards.

Music, Downloads, Labels and the mess of mixing Business and Art!

Here's an exchange and link given to me on the Air America Place Daily Blog.
For all who love music, All of this is an issue . Download at your own risk! More important, Get the labels to think of music and art first! Not Units. The shortsightedness of the labels is a sad state of mediocrity.
Thread began:
Quote By: blue
South Korean Music Retailers Dying

"According to this Reuters feature, 95% of South Korean music retail businesses have failed in the last year. 'While South Korea is not alone in seeing a downturn, the drop has been greatly accentuated and particularly deep because of the country's high-speed Internet access and a youth culture that uses some of the most sophisticated gadgets available.' Is this really a problem or just a natural progression?"
I replied:
Quote By: 12thharmonic
O.K. as someone who works in the music industry. I must add my two cents. My industry has been merged into nothingness (in Australia Sony just ate BMG..Australia has only SONY. Now I know downloads are a problem. The industry bitches and moans all the time about downloading music. The manager of one of the planet's biggest R+B bands (real playing musos, rare in pop and R+B these days) said recently the download scare is not the real problem. The problem is the music industry has released mostly CRAP for a couple of decades now. Units before Art. The record buying public has figured it out. They won't pay for crap. And a new teenager only stays a teen for so long. Then they catch on. When the industry starts to find real bands and musos, instead of manufacturing them and telling the public what they want to hear. The sales will return They are rebelling!!
Copyright law needs to be re written as well. That's a whole other can of worms..
Thanks for letting me spew on a subject of much personal angst..

Then I saw this reply:

Exactly! I barely able to find anything worth buying on record store anymore.

Music download is rebalancing distribution cost problem. As of now the recording company has become so costly that they can only release cookie cutter music. They can't afford releasing cutting edge music.

incidentally you gonna like this article.

A couple last thoughts.
I still feel the concept of affordability of cutting edge music is a farce. Once again it comes down to control. Less companies equate less product, no matter how big the big guy is..
The Long Tail refered to in this Wired article is where the industry should be looking. I have one more concept for the industry to try...Go see a band in a club. Pay your five bucks and take a chance. I bet the bands will even put you on the guest list if you contact them and say you are curious to see what they do. Listen through a bad P.A. and open yourself to the vibe. Real connections with real people..
Then you can worry about production. The musos will do most of the work, like writing and arranging for you. No need to hire someone to do it. I bet it will be better too.
I remember when a Producer was someone who helped the band see the vision of the music, move it forward, and be a wall to bounce ideas off, or to steer the band in the direction they want to go. Now it is something different. Now they just make product! Sorry not art.
How many labels has David Geffen Had? Too many to count. Once they get to big he sells it. Why. David stops going to see bands. The whole reason any of us do this.. The Music, The Music, The Music!
Can we Clone David Geffen? More needed.

As for the public. You too should take the risk, Shut off the P.C. and get some mates. Go see some unknown band in some club. Pay the five bucks, have a drink or two, Buy a demo. You have no idea how much it helps a band to push on when they sold a couple demos at last nights gig. They know someone will listen later and perhaps tell a mate. Play it in the car. You the average music lover can help. The drummer might even eat that night. (Drummer of 20 years. I can make drummer joke. Q. When do you know the drum riser is level? A. When the drool comes out even on both sides....)
(For balance..Q. What do you call a guitarist without a girlfriend? A. Homeless...)
I'll wrap up this rant...
Pass on a couple 99cent downloads and go see a band!
An Angry Audio Engineer
Wishing we had more silly rock bands!!!!!!

First the T, now the hump

Chickenhawks shouldn't count their chickens

More on my favourite theme: How Bush's abuse of the military will be his downfall. That should probably read Moore on - the following are extracts from troops' letters to Michael Moore published in The Guardian. If Bush (that should probably read moron) is delusional enough to think that he can count on the military vote he is in for a big surprise.

Beyond that, the government is calling up more and more troops from the reserves. For what? Man, there is a huge fucking scam going on here! There are civilian contractors crawling all over this country. Blackwater, Kellogg Brown & Root, Halliburton, on and on. These contractors are doing everything you can think of from security to catering lunch!
His silence and refusal to speak under oath to the 9/11 Commission further mocks our country. The Patriot Act violates every principle we fight and die for. And all of this has been during his first term. Can you imagine his policies when he doesn't have to worry about re-election? We can't allow that to happen, and there are so many like me in the military who feel this way. We were lied to and used. And there aren't words to describe the sense of betrayal I feel as a result

Will They Ever Trust Us Again? Letters from the Warzone to Michael Moore by Michael Moore, published by Allen Lane on October 7.

How do they sleep at night?

But I'm forgetting. In a corporation every evil deed is someone else's responsibility. Profits on the other hand are all their own. It would be nice to see some accountability:

The world's biggest oil company, ExxonMobil, has been increasing its greenhouse gas emissions after supporting President George Bush's refusal to sign the Kyoto treaty.

The Texan oil firm, which is facing a consumer boycott in Europe over its stance on climate change, is now producing more than twice the carbon dioxide pollution of a country such as Norway.

...The growing levels of pollution from Exxon come on the back of annual profits of $US17 billion, the largest ever in the corporate world.

Full Story


The NYT's credibility has been blown to hell and has been removed from our RSS feeds. They really don't deserve Paul Krugman. Perhaps he could remind the rest of them how to do their jobs.

Monday, October 11, 2004

Economics and business professors give Bush an F

A group of top US professors have written an open letter to Bush

Keeping it in the family

The Bushies seem to be making moves to distance themselves from all their little helpers who got rewarded with 'license to bilk' no-bid contracts in Iraq. Perhaps they think it will improve their credibility. It won't.

The Seattle Times (via Raw Story) reports that:

One of the U.S. security companies operating in Iraq has been suspended from doing business with the U.S. government after being accused of overbilling millions of dollars through a series of sham companies.

One of the two co-founders is Fox commentator and ex-CIA agent (interesting combination) Michael Battles. Battles unsuccessfully ran for congress in 2002 and was subsequently fined by the Federal Elections Committee for misrepresenting campaign contributions.

According to the Seattle Times article " Several other former Republican officials have come under investigation in connection with other Iraq contracts".

Full Story

Not even pretending to give a shit

The neocons yet again show how much they care:

The remains of hundreds of victims of the September 11 attacks are to be permanently buried in the world's largest rubbish dump, to the consternation of their grieving relatives.

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