Thursday, September 28, 2006

Review of 9/11: Press For Truth

How did the September 11, 2001 attacks come to happen? Or, more accurately, why were they allowed to happen? Our government leaders such as GW Bush, Condoleeza Rice, Dick Cheney, etc, claimed that nobody in the government imagined such an attack could have happened. But, they were lying, because many in the government had warnings, had thought up that kind of scenario, there were many warnings from foreign intelligence services, etc. We were told to believe that even with warnings the plot could not have been stopped. If so, then what of this recent plot discovered in Britain to bomb airliners, which was stopped by arrests before the attack was carried out? It goes on and on.

The movie, 9/11: Press For Truth (web site), is about the holes in the official story and some daring individuals who researched as much of the truth as can be learned from public sources. We of course cannot know what our government leaders actually did and are actually responsible for. But the public record, as reported in the news media, paints an interesting picture, one of official malfeasance and possibly official cooperation with the launching of those attacks.

Part of the movie centers on a group of relatives of people killed on September 11, 2001. They had questions that weren't being answered. In their grief they banded together to begin researching to find the truth to why their relatives had died. In part the 9/11 Commission was launched due to the efforts of those family members to find the truth.

Consider, though, the contrast in the cost of the investigation into Clintons sexual escapades, and the cost of running the 9/11 Commission. The Clinton investigation cost taxpayers over $100 million while the 9/11 Commission cost taxpayers around $16 million. Tell me, of those two investigations which would you rather have be thorough?

To a large extent the 9/11 Commission was just as satisfying as the Warren Commission was in explaining the Kennedy Assassination. In other words, we can expect conspiracy theorists to be debating the September 11, 2001 attacks for the next 40 years, perhaps. But there is a big difference in terms of technology of the early 1960's and today. Today we have web sites on which people can share information, resources, and connect with each other. One such web site is which is home to the Complete 911 Timeline.

The Complete 911 Timeline plays a major role in this movie, and is itself a massively useful piece of work. It is the work of individuals sharing data through the web site. The data is summaries and links to news reports. It is also published as a book: The Terror Timeline: Year by Year, Day by Day, Minute by Minute: A Comprehensive Chronicle of the Road to 9/11--and America's Response

The problem with this story is that while the individual pieces to the story are well reported, those pieces are widely scattered. You might have a tidbit in a front page article one day, another in an article in another newspaper buried in the back another day, another on a TV program a month later, and so on. By being so widely scattered it's almost impossible for an individual to pull it all together. On the web site the data is collected and is organized by date, by event, or by individual. You can follow the threads very easily in multiple directions and see the connections and the real history.

The movie presents a small portion of the data listed on the web site. But the part given in the movie is explosive.

For example .. al Qaeda was an outgrowth of the Mujahadeen forces. The Mujahadeen were supported by the CIA during the 1980's to give the Russian Military their own Vietnam, and to drive them out of Afghanistan. The CIA funneled money and material through Pakastan's secret service, the ISI. After Russia was driven from Afghanistan, the U.S. supposedly walked away from involvement with Pakistan and the Mujahadeen. The movie describes however that the ISI ran training camps and some people from those camps became Taliban fighters in Afghanistan, while others became geurillas in Kashmir, and that overall the distinction between Taliban, al Qaeda and the guerillas in Kashmir are very weak.

In October 2001 evidence was released by the U.S. of payments being funneled through Mohammad Atta from a specific person in Pakistan. This person was originally said to be an al Qaeda "paymaster" but the cooperativeresearch team later learned he was an ISI agent. Incidentally, the head of ISI, Mahmood Ahmed was in Washington DC on the eve of the September 11 attack, on the same day that the final payments were wired from Pakistan to Mohammed Atta.

Another detail of the ISI involvement is in the escape of al Qaeda operatives from Afghanistan.

November 13, 2001: Al-Qaeda Convoy Flees to Tora Bora; US Fails to Attack: A couple times during the invasion of Afghanistan, large convoys of Al Qaeda and others were escaping first from Kabul, later from Jalalabad, etc. Rather than bomb the convoys, they were able to drive on. Later when they were bottled up in the Tora Bora area, some escape routes were left open, and the al Qaeda people escaped along the open routes.

November 14-25, 2001: US Secretly Authorizes Airlift of Pakistani and Taliban Fighters: Another of the escape operations was a large airlift operation flying al Qaeda operatives from Northern Afghanistan into Pakistan. At that time the U.S. had a large force there, had airplanes there, no doubt had AWACS aircraft in the area, and knew very well that an airlift was flying dozens of flights between northern Afghanistan and Pakistan. The U.S. could have stopped the airlift, but it was allowed to proceed. Pakistan’s President “Musharraf won American support for the airlift by warning that the humiliation of losing hundreds—and perhaps thousands—of Pakistani Army men and intelligence operatives would jeopardize his political survival.”

I know there was a lot of details that just flew by there. But the story is that Pakistan is essentially the benefactors of both the Taliban and al Qaeda, perhaps both are merely covert branches of the ISI. And it is Pakistan which the U.S. has proclaimed to be a major part of the War On Terror. Either the U.S. Intelligence is incredibly naive about the connections between Pakistan's ISI and al Qaeda, or else the U.S. is tacitly in approval, and perhaps this explains the weak efforts to capture and kill al Qaeda?

Interestingly these reports are in the news right now:

In Britain there is a report about Pakistan's ISI aiding al Qaida and Taliban forces. Musharraf denies the claim, and Tony Blair has to make nicey-nice with Musharraf to "defuse" the situation. Musharraf rejects claim that agents assist terrorists, Musharraf denies helping al-Qa'ida, Pakistan's ISI is too close to Muslim terrorists: British Report, Document: Pakistan Agency Backs al-Qaida

And in Pakistan a couple weeks ago the ISI made a deal with some local leaders. Karzai questions whether pact will reduce terrorism

9/11: Press for Truth


This is a documentary movie exploring what happened to create the September 11, 2001 attack, what the government leaders knew, the cover-up of the attack, and more. (buy from, my review)

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Iraq War Profiteering

Iraq For Sale is Robert Greenwald's latest movie. It is about the war profiteering done by Halliburton and other contractor companies. The story told by the movie is one of the war process being twisted by these contractor companies, being twisted by those companies for the corporate profit motive, not for the stated purpose of bringing Democracy to Iraq.

We can debate the legitimacy of the war itself, and I am completely on record of saying this war in Iraq should never have been launched, and the U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan himself has called this war illegal. But to think about war profiteering companies twisting the conduct of the war so they get more profit. That is astonishingly bad to consider.

Olbermann and Greenwald expose war profiteers is an interview of Greenwald about the movie.

"The nations marketplace of ideas is being poisoned by a propoganda company so blatant that Tokyo Rose would have quit"

Last week Bill Clinton was interviewed by Chris Matthews in what Clinton took as an attack. Now, the Clintons are famous for the lines about the vast Right Wing Conspiracy, and while we do know there is such a conspiracy, perhaps the Clintons are a little sensitive to that. Who is that Conspiracy? Well, it's the Neocons for one, the people who have become the leaders in the U.S. Administration. It was they who, in the 1990's, dogged the Clintons with overly hyped allegations, some of them false.

In the interview Bill Clinton became very angry and passionate. He compared his efforts against Al Qaeda with the Bush administration saying "At least I tried" saying that the Bush Administration did not try to do anything about the Al Qaeda threat. When Clinton left office it was very well understood what the threat of Al Qaeda was, through the attacks on U.S. Embassies in Africa, the bombing of the U.S.S. Cole and some other events.

In 1998 when Clinton launched cruise missles against Al Qaeda bases in Sudan and Afghanistan, what did the neocons do? They berated Clinton for his focus on Al Qaeda and for missing the obvious threat of Iraq. Hmm, where have we hard that line before?

In any case, the Bush groupthink machine launched into motion attacking Clinton for daring to say anything against the Bush Administration.

Olbermann's special commentary on Clinton vs Fox has some interesting commentary on the Bush Administrations slander of Bill Clinton, and of Clintons right to speak out as he is now doing.

The Bush Administration is trying to, Olbermann asserts, rewrite history and lay the whole blame for the September 11, 2001 attack on Bill Clinton's feet. Mr. Clinton is very right to refuse this, for it was the Bush Administration who ignored the warning signs, it was the Bush Administration who focussed on the distraction that is Iraq, etc. The rewriting of history is that Clinton was so distracted by the Lewinsky scandal that he could not bring any force to bear against Al Qaeda. Well, history shows that to be false, but what else can we expect from the lie machine that is the Bush administration? The outrageous thing about this is that the people pushing that theory were the ones who in the 1990's created that environment of the overly hyped witch-hunts such as the Lewinsky scandal.

"The nations marketplace of ideas is being poisoned by a propoganda company so blatant that Tokyo Rose would have quit"

Last week Bill Clinton was interviewed by Chris Matthews in what Clinton took as an attack. Now, the Clintons are famous for the lines about the vast Right Wing Conspiracy, and while we do know there is such a conspiracy, perhaps the Clintons are a little sensitive to that. Who is that Conspiracy? Well, it's the Neocons for one, the people who have become the leaders in the U.S. Administration. It was they who, in the 1990's, dogged the Clintons with overly hyped allegations, some of them false.

In the interview Bill Clinton became very angry and passionate. He compared his efforts against Al Qaeda with the Bush administration saying "At least I tried" saying that the Bush Administration did not try to do anything about the Al Qaeda threat. When Clinton left office it was very well understood what the threat of Al Qaeda was, through the attacks on U.S. Embassies in Africa, the bombing of the U.S.S. Cole and some other events.

In 1998 when Clinton launched cruise missles against Al Qaeda bases in Sudan and Afghanistan, what did the neocons do? They berated Clinton for his focus on Al Qaeda and for missing the obvious threat of Iraq. Hmm, where have we hard that line before?

In any case, the Bush groupthink machine launched into motion attacking Clinton for daring to say anything against the Bush Administration.

Olbermann's special commentary on Clinton vs Fox has some interesting commentary on the Bush Administrations slander of Bill Clinton, and of Clintons right to speak out as he is now doing.

The Bush Administration is trying to, Olbermann asserts, rewrite history and lay the whole blame for the September 11, 2001 attack on Bill Clinton's feet. Mr. Clinton is very right to refuse this, for it was the Bush Administration who ignored the warning signs, it was the Bush Administration who focussed on the distraction that is Iraq, etc. The rewriting of history is that Clinton was so distracted by the Lewinsky scandal that he could not bring any force to bear against Al Qaeda. Well, history shows that to be false, but what else can we expect from the lie machine that is the Bush administration? The outrageous thing about this is that the people pushing that theory were the ones who in the 1990's created that environment of the overly hyped witch-hunts such as the Lewinsky scandal.

G.W. Bush: It's unnacceptable to think

Recently in the news has been a lot about the torture being committed by U.S. forces, about the secret prisons, the extraordinary rendition, and more. It's my opinion those acts are very Unamerican, and it shocks and angers me that it is Americans who are performing them.

Colin Powell wrote a letter saying that the world is beginning to doubt the legitimacy of the war in Iraq and other things. I wonder what took Mr. Powell so long to realize this, but that's beside the point. What's on point is GW Bush's reaction, to throw a hissy fit rant of a press conference, and in the heat of his rant to demand that Americans stop thinking.

Keith Olbermann has some interesting thoughts on this (his blog entry)

Friday, September 22, 2006

Secret CIA Prisons in Your Backyard

The CIA is running secret prisons around the world where they are sending prisoners for torture. These prisons are not new, the infrastructure for these prisons have been under construction since the 1970's. Secret CIA Prisons in Your Backyard is an interview of two journalists who have been researching the story. They have published Torture Taxi: On the Trail of the CIA's Rendition Flights to document the results of their research.

The CIA have set up shell corporations who own airplanes. The airplanes are flown under contract from the CIA shuttling people and equipment around the world in secret flights. However since these are civilian owned airplanes, they are required to file flight plans and leave other bits of paper trail. That paper trail is trackable by individuals.

Beginning in 2002 flight watchers began noticing this series of flights that would, for example, start at Andrews Air Force base, stop somewhere and end up in Afghanistan.

Speaking as an average American citizen I am not in support of our government torturing people, and violating normal legal procedures. Secret prisons are completely in violation of the habeas corpus legal precedent, where the government is required to show the body when they are holding someone. Holding people in secret is in violation of that legal precedent, which is a core value of American Justice. How dare our government leaders violate this.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Iraq For Sale, a movie about war profiteering

Mercenary soldiers and other kinds of military "contractors" have been with us for centuries. Mercenaries are rarely well thought of, and are widely regarded as without loyalties. One aspect of this War on Terror is the outsourcing of so much to corporate interests. The most obvious is the "no-bid contracts" awarded to Halliburton, but that's just the tip of the iceberg.

Iraq For Sale is a new documentary by Robert Greenwald about this situation. In it he covers the major companies contracting military services in the current War on Terror, and he dives into some of the stories of atrocities coming from these contractors. The thrust of the movie is a matter of loyalty. Supposedly military personell who have sworn oaths of allegience to the country have loyalty to the U.S. while contractors working for a corporation have loyalty to that corporation. The two loyalties produce very different results, with the corporation not being incentivized to provide services which would end the war, but instead being incentivized to make sure conditions keep happening which keep the war going. If the war were to stop then these military contractor corporations would see their contracts dry up.

The is hauntingly like Eisenhower's Farewell Address to the American People and the discussion of it in the recent movie, "Why we Fight". Like Why we Fight I suggest you simply must see Iraq For Sale. I got to attend a premeire screening last week at which Robert Greenwald was present and took questions afterward.

It is a horrific story that Robert Greenwald is telling. My question coming out was if the conduct of this war is compatible with what America stands for? Is this a country by the people, of the people, and for the people, or is it for the corporations? If we want America to return to being for the people, then we need to free our government from corporate control.

America has strayed from our purpose, and the conduct of this war is example of that misalignment between America's purpose and what we're currently doing.

How it works is ... In the early 1990's Cheney, as Defense Secretary, awarded a contract to Kellog-Brown-Root (KBR) to study whether it was a good idea to award military contracts to contractors. KBR said, that's a great idea. Cheney then went to work as Halliburton's CEO, oversaw the merger with KBR, and KBR was awarded hundreds of contracts during the 1990's. Then Cheney becomes Vice President, does not get rid of his Halliburton stock, and Halliburton and KBR are awarded over $15 Billion in contracts (most on a no-bid basis) during the Afghanistan and Iraq wars. Hmm...

The services? It ranges from food service, to water purification, to building housing, all the way to military services such as interrogating prisoners or protecting political leaders.

What was horrendous in this story is the conduct of military interrogations. If you remember the Abu Ghraib story, it involved horrendous treatment of prisoners by U.S. forces. A few low level soldiers were accused and have gone to trial over the situation. But a minor part of the story, which was covered but not very prominently, was the presence of military contractors as part of the interrogation system.

Some of the interrogation has been outsourced to private contractors. Private contractors are not subject to the military code of justice, they do not have the same military law training, they are not clearly loyal to the country, and it seems in many cases they simply were not American citizens at all. Because they did not have military training, they did not have drilled into them the limits of legal treatment of prisoners and the conduct of war.

The movie Iraq For Sale claims that in prisoner interrogations, these private contractors are sometimes calling the shots, and the horrendous abuses may have been instigated by these private contractors. In some cases these private contractors are "linguists" whose job is translating questions and answers in the interrogation. One would hope these people are highly trained in the languages, and would have high ethics standards in searching for truth. But the movie claims these contractors are instead cutting corners, hiring unqualified people, who then are unable to help the investigators, and are often making up stories or misinterpreting what the prisoners say. The result is then that the U.S. military goes out in the field to arrest people based on bogus information gotten from these interrogations.

It's not just interrogators and food service, the story goes on and on. Another example covered at length is the truck drivers delivering supplies across Iraq. Instead of these deliveries being done by military personell, it's being done by private contractors. The contractors often are going out with little protection through dangerous zones, and the truck drivers are being killed etc. The case covered in the movie happened on April 4, 2004, the one-year anniversary of the fall of the Iraq government. A convoy was sent out unprotected on a day the military knew was extremely dangerous, through a zone marked Red, which the military knew was extremely "hot" with a firefight and into which civilians were not supposed to be sent. But they sent a convoy of private military contractors through that zone, truck drivers really, and their trucks were shot up, several died, others were wounded.

The system is corrupt. The contractors do not have any incentive to keep costs low. The contracts are primarily on a cost-plus basis, meaning the government gets billed for the cost plus a gauranteed profit. This means the contractors routinely buy the most expensive stuff, or mistreat their equipment, or buy the wrong equipment, etc, so they will be reimbursed under the cost-plus contract.

Another effect is the truck drivers will often make runs of empty trucks driving up and down the highway, the military has to spend their resources protecting these empty trucks, and because the contractors ran their trucks down the highway it fulfilled the contract and they get paid some money.

Here are some videos:

Iraq for Sale: The War Profiteers - Trailer

Halliburton lies about 'Iraq for Sale: The War Profiteers'

'Iraq for Sale' bonus scene: Soldiers outsourced to KBR

What is The PMC(Private Military Company)s ? (warning: the voices are in Japanese)

'Iraq for Sale' bonus scene: Blackwater

( Military contractors shoot civilians

How The Military Industrial Complex Makes Money Off 9/11

Redefining torture, or "The Constitution is just a piece of paper"

One of the threads of abominations done by the Bush administration is the use of torture by the American Government. In pursuit of the War On Terror we've had this extraordinary rendition program where "terror suspects" would be flown to secret prisons around the world and tortured. The torture was often outsourced to other countries.

Currently there's a legislative move for a U.S. law that "clarifies" the Geneva conventions. Supposedly common article three of the convention is unclear, according to the Bush Administration. Here is a video showing G.W. Bush explaining it

Their argument seems to be ... the U.S. believes common article three of the Geneva Convention is unclear, and that the U.S. is going to interpret that law. The questioner in that press conference has an interesting point, doesn't that leave the door open to other countries interpreting that article differently? I see this as an attempt by the Bush administration to undermine the Geneva Convention, by fracturing the interpretation and enforcement. And this strikes me as being so much like the Signing Statements which this same Bush administration has been issuing with almost every law they sign into effect.

A signing statement is a document a President can issue when signing a law describing how the law will be put into practice. It has been rarely used by previous Presidents, but in the Bush administration it is widely and routinely used. In some cases the effect of the signing statements is that basically they feel free to completely ignore the law they're signing. So if they're going to ignore the law, then why are they signing it? Why not veto it instead? In fact, the Bush administration has not issued any vetos in 6 years of holding office.

This practice seems to me to make a statement that the Bush Administration holds its views as paramount over the laws that have been passed by Congress. That it knows better than Congress. Or in the case above, that the Bush Administration knows better than the Geneva convention what the law should be.

This advertisement says it very well ... they have a quote of President Nixon saying "When a President does it, it's not illegal":

Congress, the Geneva Conventions & Torture: Bush vs. McCain: Is more coverage, including John McCain standing to protect the Geneva Conventions.

Powell opposes Bush plan for harsh interrogations: Covers a letter and actions by Colin Powell taking a stand against the torture.

Bush admits CIA has secret prisons: He finally admitted to what the rest of us already knew. But he gives a very slanted view of the torture prisons. He doesn't discuss the extraordinary rendition. He doesn't discuss all the people who were captured, taken through rendition to torture prisons, and later determined to have been an accidental or mistaken capture.

Countdown's report on Bush's Constitutional issues: Keith Olbermann's analysis of this situation, along with a constitutional law expert. The argument is that there is a rush to legislation to change the law, because the Administration knows that they have been violating the law and they want the Congress to retroactively approve those violations of the law. Part of the context is a transfer of 14 detainees from the secret prison system to the one at Guantanamo Bay Cuba (GITMO). Once these prisoners reach GITMO the Red Cross will have access to them, and in the Red Cross interviews it's expected that news of the torture practices like waterboarding will come to light in official records, and the U.S. will be accused of violations of human rights laws and committing torture.

"The Constitution is just a piece of paper" - G.W. Bush: Is Keith Olbermann again talking with Jonathan Turley about the Bush Administration fondness for hiring leaders who want to go to the edge of the law, and beyond. In particular the issue is General Hayden who had been the head of the NSA and is now the Director of the CIA. While heading the NSA he oversaw the illegal warrantless wiretaps system.

Lou Dobbs Slams Bush On 'Signing Statements': A discussion of the signing statements and an assertion that George W. Bush is routinely violating the Constitution. It's largely a "line item veto" but the Supreme Court had previously ruled line item veto's were unconstitutional.

Outlawed: Extraordinary Rendition, Torture and Disappearances in the 'War on Terror': Is an interview of two detainees subjected to the extraordinary rendition system.

Torture Taxi: On the Trail of the CIA's Rendition Flights: Is a discussion of how the extraordinary rendition system was exposed. The airplanes in question are run by private contractors working for the CIA. But even though they're CIA flights the planes have to file flight plans, and flight plans are public knowledge which can be tracked by the public.

Bush/Torture related blog posts

The Road to Clean Elections

In the U.S. candidates for office are routinely bought and paid for. For years and years U.S. Presidential campaigns, and especially news media coverage, have been more about who raised the most money, and not about issues and reaching voters. In the 2000 election cycle on the Republican side the candidates were clearly chosen based on their money raising, with George W. Bush having a home-grown advantage in that regard. This is dirty, and it leads to politicians who owe favors to the lobbyists who've brought them their money. When a politician meets with a lobbyist who is pushing for some legislation etc, that politician knows that in 2 yrs when its time to run again they may have to go to that lobbyist for more campaign money.

Is this democracy of the people, by the people, and for the people? Nope. It's pandering.

If we are going to have a government of the people, by the people, and for the people, the election system must change. There's a number of important changes, and election finance is one of them.

Election finance reform to remove any form of private donation may be the vital change to make. If a candidate takes any private donations, the candidate may feel some obligations to the donors. Possibly only by removing private donations will candidates be free to actually represent the people they are supposed to represent. Otherwise they are, as today, clearly feeling pressured to represent corporate interests because they're the ones with the money.

This video covers a "clean election" system put into place in Arizona and Maine. The same system is on the ballot in California as Proposition 89. is the home of the California ballot initiative. is doing fund raising for proposition 89. is the national movement.

Friday, September 15, 2006

The misappropriation of September 11, 2001

This clip is Jon Stewart on The Daily Show of September 12, 2006 discussing the 5th anniversary of, the missappropriation of September 11, 2001.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Complete 9/11 Timeline


Open-Content project managed by Paul Thompson. This is a series of events, researched and recorded through the Cooperative Research web site, of the precursors to the September 11, 2001 attack, the events of that day, and resulting events. It is extremely detailed and comprehensive.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Eisenhower's Farewell Address to the American People

President Eisenhower is famous for many things, including his last speech as President. In that speech he talked long about the morality of modern times, and warned of unwarranted power gained by the military industrial complex. I think our current situation is a direct result of the growth of that very military industrial complex. A big aspect of the problem if this stupid illegal war in Iraq is the war profiteering, of which Halliburton is a prime example.

During the G.H.W.Bush Administration, when Dick Cheney was Defense Secretary, he caused plans to be made around outsourcing military functions to contractors. And then fast forward 10 years, and as Vice President he gets to implement the plans he had made before. And in the intervening years he was CEO of the company that's the major recipient of those very outsourced military functions, Halliburton, of which he still owns zillions of shares of stock.

Anyway, back to Eisenhower.

A recent movie was made which used his final address as its theme: "Why we Fight", a movie you must see It's an excellent movie, and as I said before you must see it. I absolutely require that you see it. That movie is now available on DVD: Why We Fight

This is a complete version of Eisenhower's speech:

Monday, September 11, 2006

9/11: A Closer Look

A video going over some of the questions surrounding the September 11, 2001 attacks.

The video tries to relate the WTC 7 collapse to a controlled demolition. And at the same time the video talks repeatedly about how the two towers collapsed at "free fall" speed. But the video fails to make a case that the two towers were collapsed as a controlled demolition.

What does "free fall" speed mean? If you know your high school physics you remember that "free fall" is a rate of acceleration when you drop an object. An object falling freely accelerates, in earth gravity, at 32 feet/second/second. If you do the calculations, an object falling from the height of the trade center towers would take a bit over 8 seconds to fall to the ground. And, if you watch the video of the collapse of both towers, their collapse was over in 8-9 seconds. This means the structure of the building was not resisting the falling of the buildings, but that the structure of the buildings were collapsing at the same speed as the building was falling.

The big question is, how did that happen?

The video shows some examples of controlled demolitions of office buildings. When a building is collapsed under controlled demolition, it falls into a neat pile, because engineering experts who specialize in this work have planted bombs in the building at precise locations where they know that by knocking out some support structures gravity will take over and make the building fall. An interesting factoid is these buildings generally have a cloud of dust billow around the bottom of the building, due to the explosives.

The collapse of WTC 7, as shown in this video, had a cloud of dust billowing around the base of the building. At the same time the upper floors collapsed down in a nice and orderly fashion. Just like a controlled demolition.

However, the collapse of the two towers did not happen that way. Instead it clearly started at the upper floors, at the location of the airplane strikes. The cloud of dust and debris formed at the upper floors, not at the base.

But what happened. I'm having a hard time imagining how the lower floors allowed the towers to fall at free fall speed.

The fire which supposedly weakened the building was only occuring in the upper floors. Proof? Firefighters and others were able to get to the upper floors, so if there was a fire raging that weakened the whole building then how did the firefighters get so high up in the building? This shows the fire was contained to the upper floors.

Then that leaves us pondering, just how did the building structure get weakened to allow the towers to collapse at free fall speeds?

9/11 Truth: Even More Video Proof of Controlled Demolitions: Videos from several sources of the collapses of the buildings. The collapse of the towers was not the same kind of controlled demolition that was done to WTC 7.

9/11 Truth: David Ray Griffin Speaks @ Santa Rosa: A very nice and thoughtful presentation discussing the rapid collapse of the buildings.

Jim Marrs: 9/11 Truth in 10 Minutes: Jim Marrs is a long-time conspiracy researcher. In 10 minutes he goes over the official September 11, 2001 story, completely deconstructing it, and explaining why he thinks the official story is the real conspiracy. Kinda makes me think of the Kennedy assassination and how nobody believes the one-bullet theory.

NORAD Stand-Down on 9/11: Not Just Simple Incompetence: Leaving aside the issue of the quickness of the buildings falling, why weren't the airplanes stopped? The U.S. has an excellent Air Force. Between the FAA and the Air Force there are already known and understood procedures for handling planes who go astray from their flight plan. For example in the late 90's a Lear Jet became unresponsive to controllers and within four minutes the procedures kicked in, the FAA had contacted the Air Force, and within 20 minutes an Air Force jet was next to the Lear Jet and trailing it.

On September 11, 2001 there were several wargames excercises being conducted. Coincidentally. Some involved injecting false radar signals into the air traffic tracking system. The false signals increased the confusion of the day. The mere existance of the exercises meant some of the planes were diverted to thousands of miles away, and that at some moments questions were made whether a report was part of the exercise or real life.

9/11 Truth: Dick Cheney was in command of NORAD on 9/11: On September 11, 2001 a new situation was in place regarding to NORAD. Never had NORAD been under civilian control, but Dick Cheney had, earlier in 2001, ordered that he was to be in control of NORAD. Meaning that on September 11, 2001 it was Dick Cheney telling NORAD what to do about the airplanes including whether to shoot them down.

Michael Ruppert: 9/11, Peak Oil, and the Fascist State: Discussing how it was clear in the earliest days of the Bush Administration, that it was a "War Cabinet" and that their intent was to push the U.S. into a major war. Namely, that this is a war which would never end whose purpose is to gain control over the remaining oil.

9/11 Truth: Mohammad Atta & The Patsies: Goes over a way of understanding conspiratoriatal plots. You have your patsies, your moles, and your government insiders handling them. The patsies are the ones lined up to take the fall, but they're really being minded over by the moles and insiders.

Keith Olbermann's special commetary for the anniversary of 9/11

On the 5th anniversary of September 11, 2001 we had G.W. Bush and several ceremonies commemorating the events. Here we have Keith Olbermann reminding us of the incompetency and impeachability of the Bush administration. The guy who promised he was a Uniter, not a Divider, who went on to be the most divisive person one could imagine in the Presidency. The guy who had overwhelming support in the fall of 2001, and who squandered it with lies and incompetency and going against the grain of world opinion.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Washington Insider says Powell's Speech was a Hoax

February 2003 and Colin Powell appears before the United Nations to lay the case for the subsequent invasion of Iraq. A big multimedia presentation purporting to show secret evidence that Iraq's government was full of bad people, and that counter to United Nations resolutions and embargo's Iraq had managed to collect several forms of weapons of mass destruction. Nuclear, biological, chemical, rockets, unmanned aircraft, etc. The problem is that it was all a lie. A lie which has not received much official attention.

The following video allows Lawrence Wilkerson, Colin Powell's senior aide at the time, to speak out about this. He feels like he was part of a hoax played upon America, the International Community, and the United Nations.

I've covered this story before:

The "case" for War: was written in the summer of 2003. I took each point Powell laid before the United Nations and showed that, near as I could tell, every single one of them was known to be false. Further that the administration knew at the time that these points were false. But they put Powell up on the international stage and had him say those things.

Now, if I, an individual with a busy life, can discover in 2003 that everything Powell said was false -- why the heck hasn't the media figured this out ??? Why hasn't the media made a big stink about this???

Is the Gulf War II Impeachable?: Consider the previous President. He was hounded by the press, and eventually impeached for lying about sex. Consider this President, being given carte blance while he commits high crimes and misdeameanors of hugely greater scope and magnitude than lying about sex.

The Man who Knew: More about the Lies: I wrote in October 2003, "The steps to create a war are ones which ought to be taken carefully, because people will be dieing as a result of your decision. Thousands of people have died since the decision to launch this war. I would wish that the claims he made that day were true, and that I did not have to be writing this. I would rather know that those people had died in a just cause, not a misbegotten lie."

Tuesday, September 5, 2006

Podcasting was supposed to be controlled by the little guy

The Internet and Podcasting was supposed to create a widely level playing ground. Anybody with an ability to record and produce digital audio or video could set up shop as a podcaster. Armed with a small set of digital media production tools, and a web site, one could produce their own equivalent to a radio program, air their own ideas, and stand on their own virtual soapbox and tell the world whatever is on their mind. The iTunes service makes it real easy at the consumer end of the spectrum. Inside iTunes you have access to a vast directory of podcasts, in addition to the audio books or music or TV shows that you can buy through the iTunes Music Store. It's a wonderful world, but what if Apple decides they don't like your content?

Apple's flip-floppy stance on sex Podcasts continues: Discusses Apple's problem with SEX. Maybe thinking differently stops when you get into the bedroom?

When iTunes sprouted the ability to automatically collect podcasts, Steven Jobs apparently said: that pretty much every topic was fair game except "you know, we're not—we're not allowing any pornography." ... except, in practice the iTunes Music Store has been indexing some sex-oriented shows, making the producers label them with an "EXPLICIT" tag. Except, as the article linked above discusses, some producers of EXPLICIT shows have had their shows summarily dropped from the iTunes Music Store.

Of course, once dropped from the music store the listenership to the shows drops precipitously.

I hadn't realized this but the iTunes service probably redistributes the podcast's RSS feed rather than directly subscribing to it. By having iTunes redistribute the RSS feed, they are able to determine the popularity of different feeds. But at the same time that leaves the podcasters, and the listeners, in a lurch should Apple decide to drop some podcast from their directory.

So, at issue is the ability for one entity to determine what we can or cannot watch or listen to.

In this case it is Apple. Through selecting what appears in the iTunes Music Store podcast directory, they determine the content we can easily listen to. Yes, we can eaily browse web sites and directly subscribe to the feed published by the web site. In iTunes when one finds a podcast RSS feed they can get the URL of the feed and using a choice in the Advanced menu make a subscription to that feed. But, in reality, how many people do so? Isn't it a lot easier to click on the music store, browse to the podcast section, and search around in there?

It's not just Apple that has this role. For example when Google decides to drop a web site from its search engine that site generally sees traffic fall dramatically. On my web site statistics over half the traffic comes through search results in Google.

There are certain services that act as gatekeepers. If these services decide to not list some web site, then nobody will know about it. If Apple doesn't list your podcast in the music store, how will people hear of you? Similarly if Google doesn't list you in their directory, then how will people hear of you?

Okay, there are alternative avenues .. there are other search engines besides Google, and there are other podcast directories besides iTunes. However the fact is that the vast majority of traffic goes through Google for general search results, and through iTunes for podcasting.

The Internet was supposed to create a level playing field where everybody has the ability to open up a web site and publish to a global audience. This picture is outside the control of Big Media and Big Corporations, supposedly. As individuals we can decide to spend the $5 per month for a website hosting fee, and set up a web site. No Big Corporation is involved in approving our web site, and it's very liberating for the little guy to have such an ability to speak to the world.

But we have Big Corporations, the like of Apple and Google, deciding who is listed in the commonly used directories and search engines. It is they who are determining what we can or cannot read or listen to.

Today the Prudes are telling them to go after SEX-related web sites. Okay, you probably can't find a lot of people who would defend the SEX-related web sites. But there's that story which sprung from WW II, first they went after the Jews and I am not a Jew so I didn't speak up, etc, until finally they came after me and there was nobody left to speak up for me.

In the U.S. freedom of speach is a core principle.

This picture is one of ... you can shout all you want, but if nobody can hear you then all you'll do is get a hoarse throat and zero effect.

The last thought I want to discuss is the Dirty Old Mens Association International. Quit giggling, it is a real organization with a very interesting set of ideals. The concept is that there is great beauty in the feminine form and one should be free to, if not obligated to, enjoy that beauty wherever and whenever you find it. The site features pictures of naked women, but I challenge you to call it pornography. Artists throughout the ages have depicted naked women in their art, and that's the tradition followed on this site. Celebrating beauty through the feminine form.

A few days ago on their front page was a notice how DOMAI was no longer able to accept payments through PayPal. This is because PayPal's acceptable use agreement prohibits payments for nudity. Okay, fine, here again we have a large corporation deciding what is fit and appropriate for others to view. Interestingly at the same time eBay, PayPal's corporate parent, has a large section of sex-related merchandise listed for sale.

There is a huge difference between the typical images in the sex/porn industry, and the images on the DOMAI web site as well as the high-art images that also pictorialize nude women.

Does nudity automatically mean SEX? No! Nudity can very well be an enjoyment and appreciation for beauty. But the typical images from the sex/porn industry are not geared to appreciate beauty, but instead seem intended to inspire raunch and even a degradation of women.

The laws seem to convey an idea that nudity does mean SEX. But clearly that's not the case. And in any case does discussion of SEX automatically mean that something bad is going to happen?

"being able to have some freedom to be an individual rather than just a puppet."

Kansas Republicans evolve -- into Democrats: This is a story about the hard-core conservatives in Kansas, and a schism in the Kansas Republican Party. For some of the Republicans in Kansas the hard-core line being followed by some is too extreme. So they are ditching out of the Republican party and joining the Democratic party. This switchover is being led by the Governor, Kathleen Sebelius.

One factoid to consider is the geographic localities at play here. Most of the switchers, that is most of the moderates who feel out of place in todays Republican party, are from Johnson County. In case you don't know Kansas geography, Johnson County is just outside Kansas City, just south of Kansas City Kansas, and is the home to Overland Park and Lenexa. The local high-tech boom in the Kansas City area is largely occuring in Johnson County, and Johnson County is also a well-to-do bedroom community for Kansas City itself.

For what it's worth, I grew up in Lenexa and Overland Park but it's been 35 years since I was last there. I'm sure a few things have changed. The article describes Johnson County as "cupcake land", a dizzying maze of highways and shopping malls and upscale suburbs. Yup, that sounds like my memory of Johnson County alrighty.

This is a longish article with many ideas to ponder:

"There's been a long series of Republican infighting over issues that do not affect people's daily lives," Parkinson explains. "I'm 49. I got tired of fighting about whether Charles Darwin was right when I was 14 or 15. I'm not spending the rest of my life on that issue."

This theme is returned to over and over in the article. There are these fundamentalist Christians who call themselves Conservative and have taken over the Republican Party. They are intent on battling the good fight for their right to insist that Charles Darwin was wrong, that Evolution is just a theory, that the Bible says God created everything, that the Bible is right, and perhaps there is some Intelligence at work Designing the Universe, oh and that God is highly offended by Abortion and that even though God is immensely loving he is going to damn us all to hell for being sinners especially if we take part in baby killing rituals like Abortion.

Whew, that was a lot of memes to go through. But it seems these moderates are sick and tired of fighting over those issues and want to deal with real problems. They are fiscally conservative, not socially conservative. Fiscal conservatives are more concerned with balancing the books etc. Oh, and these people value education very highly.

So, for example, when social conservatives won control of the state Board of Education and started injecting Intelligent Design and other fundamentalist Christian ideals into state eductation, that offended these moderates.

An interesting factoid is that 1/5th of the population of Kansas lives in Johnson County.

This seems to follow a split you see if you closely examine the voting results in the 2000 and 2004 elections. Don't look at state level results, but look at the results per county within each state. Overwhelmingly it is the urban and suburban areas that have been voting for the Democratic presidential candidate. Not in every state and not in every urban area, but the vast majority of the times the rural areas in each state is voting for the Republican candidate, and the urban/suburban areas are voting for the Democratic candidate.

Johnson County, being suburban, is just following that pattern.

Interesting ...

Monday, September 4, 2006

First, do no evil?

Google sure wants us to believe they are moral and upstanding. One of their first questions in any decision is supposedly an evilness rating, with their corporate mantra to "do no evil". But they're a corporation, and as a corporation they're only in it for the money. Or so it seems.

Google developing eavesdropping software: The idea is that as computers more frequently have built in microphones (and cameras) that Google can use the audio from the microphone to select context-relavent advertising based on the sounds in the background. Is the person watching television while playing on the Internet? Google can listen to the television program, and through the magic of software determine what you're watching, the relavent keywords for that show, and then pop up relavent advertising on your computer screen.

Um.. so Google is going to listen, through the microphone on your computer, to the sounds wherever you are .. and they're going to try to understand what's going on around you based on those sounds? And it's all for the purpose of showing you advertsing?

So, just how long before someone like George W. Bush gets a brilliant idea that the NSA should be wiretapping personal computers through the built-in microphone?

And, what about those video cameras that are more and more often built into computers?

Just how safe from invasions of privacy are we as the devices are more complex? How do you know whether the microphone or camera built into your computer is 'on'? Maybe the microphone is on and recording and there's no visual indication? And if it's on and recording without visual indication, then where is the recording going?

For Windows users, the rampant spyware issue ought to give pause for thought ... spyware gets surreptitiously installed on your computer, in some cases simply by having your computer on the internet. Spyware can do anything, and it seems "anything" could include activating the microphone (and/or camera) built into the computer, and sending the recordings over the Internet.

Getting back to Google ... they sure make nice about this, saying their software only digests the audio and doesn't send the actual recordings back to the mothership. Instead the mothership just receives tags giving them knowledge of the sort of content, not the actual sounds. That sure makes me feel better, right?

How can we independantly determine that's really what Google's software is doing? And, there's potentially a zillion other bits of traffic that your computer does without your knowledge.

"We're all descended from killers"

We Shall Overcome: An Hour With Legendary Folk Singer & Activist Pete Seeger is an interesting interview of legendary Folk singer Pete Seeger by Amy Goodman of Democracy Now. If you don't know who he is, he has been a politically active folk singer for over 60 years. His life was very much intertwined with the civil rights movement, workers rights and anti-war activity.

As they say at Democracy Now

Today we spend the hour with the legendary folk singer, banjo player, storyteller and activist Pete Seeger. For over 60 years Pete Seeger has been an American icon. In the 1940s, he performed in the Almanac Singers with Woody Guthrie as well as the Weavers. In the 1950s, he opposed Senator Joseph McCarthy's witch hunt and was almost jailed for refusing to answer questions before the House Un-American Activities Committee. He helped popularize the civil rights anthem "We Shall Overcome." In the 1960s, he was a vocal critic of the Vietnam War and inspired a generation of protest singers. He was later at the center of the environmental and anti-nuclear movements. At the age of 87, Pete Seeger continues to perform and be politically active.

The title of this post comes from one of the many interesting thoughts he presents.

"We're all descended from killers" is pretty darned obvious actually. All of our ancestors from single celled planktons all the way to us were successful killers. If our ancestors weren't better killers than their neighbors, then our ancestors would not have survived to create us. There were many who were less successful killers who did not survive to the present time.

That's a long, so very long, stretch of ancestral memory.

That length of ancestral memory has to be a strong influence to who we are today. Millions of years of history of all the animals of the history of life on this planet has been involved with killing in the name of survival.

As he said "if we don't change our way of thinking, there will be no human race here". We the humans of this world, have progressed to being such good killers because our tools of killing have become so powerful. It's unlikely we will survive if we keep up on this habit.

There was a time when our race, humans that is, had to be killers. In order for us to be here, our ancestors had to kill and to be better killers than the others.

But, as another song of his says, "Turn, turn, turn. There is a season. And a time. And a time for every purpose under heaven. A time to be born, a time to die."

There was a time for killing, and now perhaps today the time is meant for other purposes.

He is a very wise man, and if you follow the link above you will be treated to an hour of great wisdom.

Sunday, September 3, 2006

Would we be safer if the U.S. pulled out of Iraq?

The Bush Administration keeps crying about the dissenters who want the U.S. to pull out of Iraq. They say, if we pull out now the job won't be finished, and it will only embolden the Terrorists who will think the U.S. is weak and they'll just launch more attacks inside the U.S.


The Missing Links offers an interesting opposing view.

The fighting in Iraq "has little if anything to do with al-Qaeda or the global jihad" instead "it involves rival Muslim sects killing each other and, all too often, American troops caught in the middle." Rather than being a way for American forces to kill off the Terrorists but instead it is an incubator for terrorists "both because the occupation arouses anti-American sentiment among many Muslims and because the current lawless violence makes for a perfect training ground in terror tactics."

Hence, wouldn't the U.S. be safer if we just let the Iraqi's make their own way in the world? It would give the fighting less reason to exist, and whatnot.

As tempting as that may be I'd be real nervous about pulling out of Iraq now. To be clear, I am totally against this war. As the U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan said, this is an illegal war that the U.S. is waging in Iraq. It is morally indefensible, because there was zero truth to the allegations used to launch the war. It is completely stupid, because it is distracting from the real problem, namely the terrorists who did launch the attacks in September 2001, and who were able to get away when they were rousted from Afghanistan.

So pulling out of Iraq makes some amount of sense. If we have little moral or legal or rational right to have launched the war, then why continue it?

Well, there is the question of the chaos and the lack of a strong Iraqi government. At the moment it is the American forces who are maintaining any semblance of law and order. If the U.S. forces were to withrdraw today, it seems to me the fighting between factions would only escalate into a full scale civil war. The country would fall even further into lawlessness and it's hard to imagine anything remotely good even coming from that.

It's a tough situation believing that America is wrong to have launched this war, but to have to follow it through to the end regardless of its illegality.

Rumsfeld's attack on American Dissent

The Neocons badly need something to bolster the popularity of their failed war on terror. The war is without moral merit and is going extremely badly. They are failing at achieving the first goal, flipping Iraq to become a moderate Democracy, while at the same time the schedule dicttates they enter into an expensive and foolish war against Iran. The idiots are steering the world into believing Iran is an utterly evil and dangerous state which needs to be destroyed, just like four years ago they steered the world into believing Iraq was an utterly evil and dangerous state needing to be destroyed.

But we since learned that Iraq was a feeble state who had nothing to do with the September 11, 2001 attacks. Yet it was the spectre of that attack, and the spectre of mushroom clouds, which fogged the wisdom of the American people and led the U.S. into this folly of a war.

And, in this setting we have Secretary of State Rumsfeld insulting the Americans who disagree with his policies, calling us Nazi Appeasers. In Address at the 88th Annual American Legion National Convention: As Delivered by Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld, Salt Lake City, Utah, Tuesday, August 29, 2006 he talked to the American Legion about Mom and Apple Pie type issues, and in the middle of the speech he invoked memories of World War II saying:

It was a time when a certain amount of cynicism and moral confusion set in among Western democracies. When those who warned about a coming crisis, the rise of fascism and nazism, they were ridiculed or ignored. Indeed, in the decades before World War II, a great many argued that the fascist threat was exaggerated or that it was someone else's problem. Some nations tried to negotiate a separate peace, even as the enemy made its deadly ambitions crystal clear. It was, as Winston Churchill observed, a bit like feeding a crocodile, hoping it would eat you last.

There was a strange innocence about the world. Someone recently recalled one U.S. senator's reaction in September of 1939 upon hearing that Hitler had invaded Poland to start World War II. He exclaimed:

“Lord, if only I had talked to Hitler, all of this might have been avoided!”

I recount that history because once again we face similar challenges in efforts to confront the rising threat of a new type of fascism. Today -- another enemy, a different kind of enemy -- has made clear its intentions with attacks in places like New York and Washington, D.C., Bali, London, Madrid, Moscow and so many other places. But some seem not to have learned history's lessons.

So, um, let's see if I get this straight. We're not allowed to practice dissent? If we practice dissent then we're appeasers of the ilk who allowed Hitler to become strong, who allowed England to become weak in the face of a growing military strength in Germany?

Well, gosh, I think it's dissent which makes this country strong. Especially when you have government leaders as inept as the ilk of Donald Rumsfeld and George W. Bush, who have lied to us at every turn, and who have totally mismanaged this war they foisted on us. Not only did they lead us into an illegal war, lying to us the whole way, their mismanagement of the war has cost untold grief and excess suffering of the Iraqi people. Further that excess suffering has only served the cause of the Islamic Militants, turning the people of Iraq against the U.S. because the people of Iraq see us as occupiers. What is the national duty of anybody who loves their country? To fight and drive out occupiers!

In any case, let me offer you a very potent critique of Rumsfeld (transcript

Rumsfeld's speech is simply part of a larger effort by the Administration to focus attention on the danger of "Islamic Fascism".

Republicans target 'Islamic fascism': Gives an interesting overview of various statements by political leaders about the danger of Islamic Fascism.

It's interesting to read some of these statements and ponder how they apply to the speaker just as strongly as it presumably does to these Islamic Fascists.

"The key is that all of this violence and all of the threats are part of one single ideological struggle, a struggle between the forces of freedom and moderation, and the forces of tyranny and extremism," White House spokeswoman Dana Perino told reporters traveling with Bush aboard Air Force One.

Uh... Let me see, the Bush Administration has been routinely tromping on the Freedom of the American people. How? Warrantless wiretapping, in violation of U.S. law for a start. And there's the increasingly invasive searches at airports, and in all other aspects of our lives.

Moderation? This administration is anything but moderate! They are more at the extreme conservative edge of American political life. They are the very definition of extremism, of the Christian Fundamentalist variety.

I think what we're facing is a war between two sorts of Fundamentalist religions. Namely, Islamic Fundamentalism and Christian Fundamentalism. Both seem to think they have a monopoly on The Truth, and that their religion and practices are clearly superior to everybody elses.

Discussing the emotional impact and strength of using the word Fascist, the article says this:

"It helps dramatize what we're up against. They are not just some ragtag terrorists. They are people with a plan to take over the world and eliminate everybody except them," Black said.

Uh... Let me see, the Neocons (Rumsfeld, Cheney, Wolfowitz, etc) had published a plan in the 1990's through The Project for a New American Century. That plan? Well, their stated aim was that as the Worlds Primary Superpower, the United States had a moral obligation to create peace in the world. The form of that peace? It was to begin with the Middle of the Middle East, and reshape the Middle East to have Moderate Democracies rather than the extremism which has been growing popular there. They would, uh, begin with Iraq, and topple the government of Iraq. Then after being greeted with open arms and showers of flowers by the greatful Iraqi's, and after establishing a moderate Democracy in Iraq, they would move on to either Syria or Iran. The establishment of a moderate democracy in Iraq would prove enticing to the other countries in the Middle East, and between toppling governments and the allure of moderate democracy, the other governments of the Middle East would too join the ranks of moderate democracies.

Seems to me that is a plan to take over the world and to eliminate every ideology except their own.

And just who was it who concocted that plan? It was the Neocons, Rumsfeld, Cheney, etc.

The new GOP buzzword: Fascism

Tyrrell: The Rumsfeld Horripilation

Democrats raise Rumsfeld attacks to put GOP on defensive

UPDATE (Sep 4, 2006): Frank Rich, a columnist with the NY Times, wrote another scathing rebuttal along the same lines. (NY Times Select, Mother Jones reprint)

It's interesting, he notes, how Rumsfeld hit the nail on the head contrasting Neville Chamberlain versus Winston Churchill and how it relates to the current era. Neville Chamberlain pretty much ignored the rise of the German war machine, and prevented Great Britain from arming itself in response. Chamberlain wanted to appease Germany hoping that would prevent later wars. At the same time Churchill was a hawk, calling for Great Britain to prepare itself for war, etc. History showed Churchill to be more prescient.

Rumsfeld, in his speech, wants to place himself and the others in the administration in the role of Churchill. He wants to claim their position as being prescient, warning against this danger from Islamo-Fascism. He wants to call the rest of us appeasers who will allow the Islamo-Fascists to eventually destroy us.

But, as Frank Rich reminds ... there is an interesting juxtaposition to consider. In 1938 Neville Chamberlain was famously photographed warmly shaking Hitlers hand in Munich. In 1983 Donald Rumsfeld was famously photographed warmly shaking Saddam Hussein's hand in Baghdad. In both cases the governments in question knew very well the evildoings of the person in question, it being very well known that Saddam Hussein was a very nasty ruler with a lot of nasty deeds to his credit even at the time Rumsfeld met him. But did Rumsfeld do anything about those nasty deeds? No, Rumsfeld was there on a mission to reestablish diplomatic relations between Iraq and the U.S. so that Iraq would be aided in its disastrous war against Iran.

Who is the appeaser?

How can we trust the guys we have leading our country?

On the separation of Church and State (in the U.S.)

Katherine Harris is running for Senate in Florida, and was interviewed by the Florida Baptist Witness. Who's Katherine Harris? She was President Bush's campaign manager for Florida, while at the same time was the Secretary of State for Florida. The Secretary of State oversees elections, and of course isn't it an interesting conflict of interest that the person overseeing the election is also the campaign manager for one of the major election contestants? And isn't it interesting that not only did this pattern happen in Florida in 2000, it also happened in Ohio in 2004.

But, I digress.

The important part of this interview is:

What role do you think people of faith should play in politics and government?

The Bible says we are to be salt and light. And salt and light means not just in the church and not just as a teacher or as a pastor or a banker or a lawyer, but in government and we have to have elected officials in government and we have to have the faithful in government and over time, that lie we have been told, the separation of church and state, people have internalized, thinking that they needed to avoid politics and that is so wrong because God is the one who chooses our rulers. And if we are the ones not actively involved in electing those godly men and women and if people aren’t involved in helping godly men in getting elected than we’re going to have a nation of secular laws. That’s not what our founding fathers intended and that’s certainly isn’t what God intended. So it’s really important that members of the church know people’s stands. It’s really important that they get involved in campaigns. I said I’m going to run a campaign of integrity. I’m not going to run it like all of the campaigns that I’ve seen before…. And you know, it’s hard to find people that are gonna behave that way in a campaign and be honorable that way in a campaign. But that’s why we need the faithful and we need to take back this country. It’s time that the churches get involved. Pastors, from the pulpit, can invite people to speak, not on politics, but of their faith. But they can discern, they can ask those people running for election, in the pulpit, what is your position on gay marriage? What is your position on abortion? That is totally permissible in 5013C organizations. They simply cannot endorse from the pulpit. And that’s why I’ve gone to churches and I’ve spoken in four churches, five churches a day on Sunday and people line up afterwards because it’s so important that they know. And if we don’t get involved as Christians then how could we possibly take this back?

So, um, it's clear from the article and her background that she is one of these Conservative Republicans who loudly proclaim their Christianity so that everybody knows that's their faith.

The question I have for her is, since when did anybody say that people who practice a Religion were disallowed from participating in politics?

That has never happened. Never was it disallowed for the Religious to also practice Politics. Never. So why does she claim this happened? Oh, wait, her association with G.W. Bush probably makes it easier for her to be a liar.

The principle of the Separation of Church and State is not that Religion is disallowed from Politics. It's that the State cannot establish a State Religion, and that the State cannot favor one religion over another.

Maybe in Florida "everybody" goes to church on sunday, and "everybody" is Christian ... actually, I highly doubt this ... but that pattern isn't true everywhere in the U.S. In California the white folk are a minority, and there are many non-Christian religions that are widely practiced in California. And, I'm not talking about New Age weirdos here (of which I am one) but Hindus, Muslims, Buddhists, Jainists, etc. All those are ancient religions with long histories to them, sometimes longer history than Christianity.

Given that, why should there be favor of one religion over another? Why should the State give a rats ass about which religion someone practices or which religion is better than the other? Obviously it's a matter of personal preference which religion is better, or which religion suits one person better than it does another. And just as obviously the State should butt out of such distinctions.

But, to read Katherine Harris and her ilk, they want to establish Christianity as the dominant religion and have the State embody Christianity as the dominant religion.

Um, this is the United States. A country founded on a group who was escaping religious persecution. Why would our founding fathers have wanted the United States to engage in religious persecution? That's what it would be if the State were to begin giving preference for one religion over another, it would be a form of religious persecution.

The United States I grew up with does not practice religious persecution, but instead gives space for all religions to be worshipped on an equal footing.

Fearism moves to keep U.S. citizens in sheep-like trance

In How Hitler Became a Dictator we learn how Adolf Hitler was able to rise to absolute power over Germany, even though his party had a minority of votes. In 1932 Hitlers party stood for a couple elections, and won only 30% of the vote, meaning they were rejected by 70% of the voters. To gain power they staged a series of murders and other violent actions which might be called Terrorism today. This built a climate of fear leading the people to vote for Hitlers party, which then quickly moved to grab control over the government. Once in control over the government, they staged a fire at the Reichstag (Germany's equivalent to the U.S. Capital building) which was blamed on Communists and used to engender even more fear in the population.

That history is instructive today. Hitler's rise to absolute power was based on lies and deceit and manipulating the German public through fearism. It's understood that a political movement can control a population through fearism, and it was the German propoganda masters who honed this to a fine art. One stages an event that causes the people to be afraid. Then, as the political leader, one steps onto the public stage and offers the people a solution to the event which is meant to calm their fear. But, in the fearful state, the people become more pliable, more willing to do anything you tell them must be done.

For example would we be willing to essentially disrobe before boarding airplanes? After the Sep 11, 2001 attack, and after the "shoe bomber", we are willing to do so. But before those two events would we have stood still for such invasive searches?

Following are a series of recent speeches and other events which illustrate the principle in action. It seems obvious to me that a state of continual fear is being maintained so that the government can manipulate us. Rather, so that the neocons can manipulate us into supporting their continued control over government.

For example, take the 2006 State of the Union speech. This clip was constructed from every fear-word spoke by President Bush during that speech. Now, what is the intended message of a speech so filled with with fear-words? Is such a speech meant to calm our fears or to build them?

And it's not just the government figures. Here's Jon Stewart (the Comedy Show) commenting on a recent bit of fearmongering about airplane travel. In mid-August 2006 there was a revealed plot that would have had "terrorists" bringing bomb-making materials onto airplanes, mixing chemicals during the flight, and then supposedly detonating them during the flight. But what it's meant is air travelers are now prevented from carrying a whole range of potentially dangerous things on airplane flights.

In the 2004 Republican National Convention they repeatedly invoked September 11, 2001, Saddam Hussein, and the threat of global terrorism. Over and over.

During the 2004 election cycle an announcement was made of vague threats where al Qaeda would possibly disrupt the election. There was even consideration of whether the election should be delayed until the threat of disruption was over. Here is Jon Stewart's analysis.

GOP Senator Burns: 'Faceless' terrorists 'drive taxi cabs in the daytime and kill at night': At a fundraiser dinner featuring First Lady Laura Bush, Senator Burns claimed that "faceless terrorists" drive taxicabs during the day, and plot to blow up our society at night.

Was it a terror sting or entrapment?: A terrorist cell was captured and is being charged for plotting terror attacks. However, the people making the plot had no connection to al Qaeda or any other terror organization. Instead they were contacted by FBI agents, who posed as al Qaeda plotters, and it was these FBI agents who supplied all the money and material with which these plotters were planning to launch their attack. Yup, some terrorist plotters were fooled by FBI agents into thinking they were working for al Qaeda, when they were actually working for the FBI. And, for this "crime" they are under threat of prison sentences for plotting attacks the FBI told them to plot.

Bush setting up next terror speech: Discusses a series of new speeches to be given by Bush that are meant to prop up support for the War On Terror.

Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff strongly backed a program Wednesday that would ease airport security for passengers who pass voluntary background checks to show they aren't terrorists.: Ah, so we're presumed guilty until we prove our innocence? Is this the state of terror the U.S. citizens are in, that such a proposal can be made with a straight face and not get laughed off immediately?

Oh, and this plan is said to be proposed directly as a follow-on to the liquids-as-bombs plot that was "prevented" in mid-August 2006. In that plot supposed terrorists in the UK were planning to hide bomb-making materials in innocent looking bottles of sports drinks or hair gels or the like. Once on the airplane they were expecting to mix the chemicals and make their bomb. A big scene was made about this plot, dozens of people arrested, and the public made to dump vast quantities of personal care products or drinks under the guise of their potential for danger.

And, now, in the state of fear created by that event, the Department of Homeland Security is proposing that all of us who travel in airplanes be registered and have to endure background checks. Okay, that is, those of us who travel and wish to avoid enduring ridiculous searches and treatment under great suspicion, that if we want to travel in ease then we would be required to give up some freedoms and privacy. For what? Under a propped up false sense of insecurity?

Hmm, this makes me think of the book 1984 where double-speak would have meant the Department of Homeland Security is really about creating Insecurity among the population.

Lie by Lie: Chronicle of a War Foretold: August 1990 to March 2003


This is a detailed history of the lies by the Bush Administration and other Neocons beginning in August 1990. These lies circle around the plan to launch the war in Iraq, and other moves by the Neocons to reshape the world.

How Hitler Became a Dictator


Whenever U.S. officials wish to demonize someone, they inevitably compare him to Adolf Hitler. The message immediately resonates with people because everyone knows that Hitler was a brutal dictator.

But how many people know how Hitler actually became a dictator? My bet is, very few. I’d also bet that more than a few people would be surprised at how he pulled it off, especially given that after World War I Germany had become a democratic republic.

The story of how Hitler became a dictator is set forth in The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, by William Shirer, on which this article is based.

Friday, September 1, 2006

U.S. Geological Survey’s Acute Toxicity Database


The following database summarizes the results from aquatic acute toxicity tests conducted by the USGS CERC located in Columbia, Missouri. The acute toxicity test provides a relative starting point for hazard assessment of contaminants and is required for federal chemical registration programs such as the Federal Insecticide Fungicide Rodenticide Act (PL 80-104) as amended by the Federal Environmental Pesticide Control Act of 1972 (7 U.S.C. 136-136y) and the Toxic Substances Control Act of 1976 (PL 94-469).

The database was initially developed in 1986 by Foster L. Mayer (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service) and Mark R. Ellersieck (University of Missouri, Columbia, MO) for 4,901 acute toxicity tests toxicity tests conducted by CERC since 1965 with 410 chemicals and 66 species of aquatic animals.

A report by Mayer and Ellersieck (1986) provides an interpretation of the original 4,901 toxicity tests which utilizes various statistical approaches to make taxonomic comparisons, and to assess the degree to which various factors (static versus flow-through, age of test solutions, pH, temperature, water hardness, and diet) affect toxicity (Manual of Acute Toxicity: Interpretation and Data Base for 410 Chemicals and 66 Species of Freshwater Animals, F.L. Mayer and M.R. Ellersieck, United States Department of the Interior, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Resource Publication 160, 1986).

Toxic Release Inventory


The Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) is a publicly available EPA database that contains information on toxic chemical releases and other waste management activities reported annually by certain covered industry groups as well as federal facilities. This inventory was established under the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act of 1986 (EPCRA) and expanded by the Pollution Prevention Act of 1990.