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Welcome to the Me Show.
Tuesday, July 27, 2004
 
  • CBS describes the possibility of Ralph Nader showing up at the Democratic convention as "the one curveball it [i.e. the convention] hoped to avoid.". This seems to me like a bit of an exaggeration. To name just one other possible curveball: the much-touted possibility of a terrorist attack. I imagine that would throw them off-script a bit worse than Nader. Anyway, while I'm on the subject of things that could throw the Democrats off course a bit, let's remember to watch for any "high-value" Al-Qaeda captures in Pakistan. Maybe we shouldn't be too optimistic about a capture, though, since capturing bin Laden or Mullah Omar would certainly give a significant boost to Bush, but Pakistan seems to think a Democratic victory is in the offing.
     

  • Monday, July 26, 2004
     
  • Holden is holholding down the fort over at Eschaton while Atrios is at the Democratic Convention. As with any big media draw, the convention is distracting everyone from real news. Don't believe the reports that the media aren't paying attention to the conventions like they used to - they're still paying attention, they're just writing reports now about how nobody's paying attention like they used to. All the bloggers I read have likewise been sucked into the convention. It's very exciting, of course, to read about their experiences or whatever, but we still need to keep an eye on the real news. So, long story short, I'm glad Holden is still at work. Today he brings us this link from Stephen Soldz:
    To conclude, imagine yourself an Iraqi. You've suffered terribly under a ruthless dictator. The Americans invade your country under false pretenses. They promise democracy but don't organize elections. They appoint exiles to rule you, exiles who spend most of their time out of the country and the rest in a few highly protected areas. The occupiers break into your homes in the middle of the night and arrest your men, who then disappear, with no accountability. They shoot Iraqis at roadblocks and from convoys. They declare war on the second most popular man in the country, announcing his death in advance. They open the economy to US corporations and give them sweetheart contracts, ignoring local business. Then they write hundreds of laws and establish commissions limiting any future government. They build permanent military bases on your soil. Then they turn your country over to a former associate of Saddam Hussein, also a former CIA agent, known for his ruthless brutality. Imagine that was your country. What would you do?
     

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  • A useful stat for when you're debating whether or not the US is in the process of re-instating slavery:
    The number of Americans under the control of the criminal justice system grew by 130,700 last year to reach a new high of nearly 6.9 million, according to a Justice Department report released today.
    The total includes people in jail and prison as well as those on probation and parole. This is about 3.2 percent of the adult population in the United States, the report said.
     

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  • The Globe and Mail on Pierre Pettigrew in an article about the dispute with Iran over the Kazemi case:
    Mr. Pettigrew, the new minister who had badly wanted the Foreign Affairs portfolio for years.

    Just a kind of interesting thing to note.
     

  • Sunday, July 25, 2004
     
  • Listening recommendation: The Killers, particularly the song Somebody Told Me.
     

  • Saturday, July 24, 2004
     
  • This is interesting:
    Sensing a Democratic victory in the November election, the Pakistani establishment has begun to “spread the risk” by making gestures to the Democratic Party.
    One indication of this new shift in the hitherto pro-Republican stance of the government and its Washington embassy is the attendance at next week’s Democratic Party convention in Boston of a senior embassy official.
     

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  • Jesse is quite right that this is totally insane:
    The Bush administration has been going to court to block lawsuits by consumers who say they have been injured by prescription drugs and medical devices.

    The administration contends that consumers cannot recover damages for such injuries if the products have been approved by the Food and Drug Administration. ... Allowing consumers to sue manufacturers would "undermine public health" and interfere with federal regulation of drugs and devices, by encouraging "lay judges and juries to second-guess" experts at the F.D.A., the government said [in a recent court brief.] Moreover, it said, if such lawsuits succeed, some good products may be removed from the market, depriving patients of beneficial treatments.

    ...In its briefs, the administration conceded that "the views stated here differ from the views that the government advanced in 1997," in the United States Supreme Court.

    At that time, the government said that F.D.A. approval of a medical device set the minimum standard, and that states could provide "additional protection to consumers." Now the Bush administration argues that the agency's approval of a device "sets a ceiling as well as a floor."

    The administration said its position, holding that individual consumers have no right to sue, actually benefited consumers.

    The threat of lawsuits, it said, "can harm the public health" by encouraging manufacturers to withdraw products from the market or to issue new warnings that overemphasize the risks and lead to "underutilization of beneficial treatments."

    ...In its court filings, the Bush administration argues that private lawsuits threaten to disrupt a comprehensive nationwide system of drug regulation, and that federal standards pre-empt requirements established by state judges and legislators. In effect, the administration says, if a local judge or jury finds that a drug or device is unsafe, it is in direct conflict with the conclusion reached by the F.D.A. after years of rigorous testing and evaluation.

    Jesse nicely captures the ironic insanity of this new Republican philosophy thus:
    Republicans are pushing to prohibit consumers from challenging government regulation of businesses.

    So, regulation is bad when businesses say it's bad, but not when consumers do, is that about right? This is, of course, not really that surprising when you consider the massive financial backing which the makers of medical drugs and devices provide to the Republican party. Moreover, the Republicans are trying to create a public perception of the 'tort reform' issue that puts Democrats and "trial lawyers" like John Edwards on the wrong side of yet another social issue. But the arguments they advance are really obviously bad, not to mention contrary to every previous Republican position on "big government." They are in effect saying that government experts, not average Americans, know what's best.

    If the FDA approves an artifical heart that then kills people who use it, something has to change. To expect that the FDA or the manufacturers will correct the problem on their own is foolish and anti-democratic. Family members need to be able to provide effective feedback to either the manufacturers or the regulators or both; and the best kind of feedback (particularly for a corporation, though often also for a government agency) is a lawsuit.

    One effect of letting the manufacturers off the hook might be to put the FDA on the hook in the eyes of the court. In other words, legal costs which should be borne by private corporations may become the public's burden. If the FDA is the only body that can be held responsible for an injurious product, then the FDA will collapse under the weight of its legal fees.

    Something I am unclear about is the role that the 'federal vs. state jurisdiction' issue plays here. As near as I can tell, the administration is simply trying to convince state courts that the federal government is infallible and untouchable. What I don't know about, however, is whether consumers can take such lawsuits to a federal court, and if so, whether this means that the consumers-versus-manufacturers fights which presently go on in state courts could simply move up to federal courts. Seeing as the goal seems to be to protect the manufacturers from ever facing a lawsuit, it seems unlikely that such is the case.
     

  • Thursday, July 22, 2004
     
  • Mainja sends us a link to Bush and Kerry's latest hit release, This Land. Watch it, it's funny. (3.7 meg flash file).
     

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  • We could be next. Bill O'Reilly, please don't point your awesome power at Canada, please! Fellow citizens, inform yourself about the danger we face in the pages of The Paris Business Review. And for some background. (Link via Eschaton.)
     

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  • We've been following the trend recently towards weird signs of the post-modern apocalypse, like mutant children and so forth. Here's the latest:
    JERUSALEM - A five-year-old monkey at an Israeli zoo started walking exclusively on her hind legs after recovering from a serious illness.

     

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  • Sad but true, Molson and Coors are merging.
     

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  • The US is doing some uniting not dividing:
    The United States, traditionally an antiwhaling country, threw its support behind a proposal backed by Japan and Iceland of the pro-whaling bloc in the final day of a meeting of the International Whaling Commission here on Thursday. ... The United States proposed a resolution to endorse measures on managing whale hunting if a 1986 ban on commercial whaling were lifted. The resolution says that any failure to reach broad agreement on a management scheme "would jeopardize the ability of the IWC to fulfill its responsibility of ensuring the effective conservation of whale stocks and the responsible management of whaling."

    There's something to be said for keeping the IWC together even if it means weakening the anti-whaling regime, but I don't know if that's what's happening here . The Bushies have never shown any concern for (a) international regimes, or (b) the environment. On the other hand, I'm inclined to think that whales and whalers are pretty low on the US agenda, which means less influence from the bastards on high and more influence for bureaucrats, who are more likely to be respectable human beings. According to the article, the Human Society called the US move "inexplicable".

    WhaleWatch is the website for the coalition of NGOs working on this.
     

  • Wednesday, July 21, 2004
     
  • More fun with the Big Dick comes to us again, of course, via http://www.wonkette.com/">Wonkette. This time, we're looking at Dick's Wild World of Dichotomies.
    Cheney advocates cap on medical malpractice awards: 'When it comes to the legal crisis in American health care, the Kerry-Edwards ticket is on the side of personal-injury trial lawyers, and the Bush-Cheney ticket is on the side of doctors and patients.'

    How did 'doctors and patients' end up as a pair opposed to 'personal-injury trial lawyers'? It's just too stupid to contemplate.
     

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  • It can be difficult to keep track of all the ins and outs of American politics. Fortunately, the Poor Man presents an allegory that clears the whole thing up. Go read Poker with Dick Cheney. (Link via Wonkette.)
     

  • Tuesday, July 20, 2004
     
  • The children of Abu Ghraib, via Eschaton.
     

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  • The Star's Antonia Zerisias wonders if the CRTC, having decided to let Al-Jazeera into Canada on condition that its broadcasters monitor its content, will now do the same for FOX.
     

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  • Happy 35th anniversary of the moon landing.
    Aldrin pose
     

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  • The Globe reports on our new Cabinet. As I mentioned earlier, Bill Graham on defence pleases me, and I think I like Pierre Pettigrew for Foreign Affairs. I also think former B.C. NDP premier Ujjal Dosanjh for Health is probably a good thing. I don't know anything about Stephane Dion, who's to be our new Environment Minister. Last word goes to Stephen Harper:
    "The Prime Minister has put together a combination of weak and inexperienced ministers dominated mainly by his loyalists. Unfortunately the cabinet reflects an old team of Liberals with very few new ideas," Mr. Harper said in a statement.
     

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  • If it was going to happen, it was going to happen in Russia:
    Two flight attendants have attacked a passenger in an unprecedented case of reverse air-rage, according to Russia's leading airline.

    Thanks to Dave for the tip.
     

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  • Number Crunching Fun with John Ashcroft from The Omaha World Herald:

    DES MOINES (AP) - Federal prosecutors claim they built 35 terrorism-related cases in Iowa in the two years after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, but most of the defendants have questionable links to violent extremism.

    Defendants who could be identified by the Des Moines Register were, in most cases, charged with fraud or theft and served just a few months in jail.

    ...The Iowa arrests were part of a national compilation of statistics by the U.S. Department of Justice to lobby Congress.

    Lumping minor crimes under the terrorism label could wrongly heighten public anxiety and provide a questionable rationale for more anti-terror resources, critics say.

    ...Prosecutors stressed that many of the Iowa cases were classic examples of illegal activities that are perpetrated by terrorist groups. And though any evidence of terrorist connections or motives was rarely mentioned in the courtroom, officials implied that some of the suspects might still be under suspicion, even since their release.

    "'Bona fide' terrorism is a matter of semantics," said Assistant U.S. Attorney Richard Murphy, who heads the criminal division of the U.S. Attorney's Office in Cedar Rapids. "I don't think you can draw conclusions based on what a person is convicted of."

    (Link viaEschaton)
     

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  • Coming up later today, fun with cabinetmaking. Let's hope the CBC is right with these predictions:
    Foreign Affairs Minister Bill Graham is expected to take over defence from David Pratt, who lost his riding in the June 28 election. Health Minister Pierre Pettigrew is expected to replace Graham in foreign affairs.

    As far as the contenders go, I could not be happier than with these two assignments. David Anderson, Minister of the Environment, is expected to be dropped from cabinet. We'll have to see who replaces him. I'm skeptical about Martin's willingness to incur costs (political or economic) for the sake of the environment. Who he chooses to replace Anderson could say a lot.
     

  • Monday, July 19, 2004
     
  • Ugly, and ridiculous:
    story.arnold.stamp.postal.jpg

    Yes, that's an Austrian stamp with Arnold Schwarzenegger and the American flag on it. Via Kevin Drum, who declares "Western civilization is now over."
     

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  • Dirty, but fortunately, not dirty enough:
    Japan lost the first battle in a war to turn back years of anti-hunting agreements at the International Whaling Commission on Monday when countries rejected its motion to hold votes in secret.

    Democracies have no place promoting secrecy in world affairs. That goes for conservation bodies just as much as international economic organizations.
     

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  • Just noodling, as Kevin Drum would say. If you care to read this post, prepare for some tangential meandering. I encourage you to follow the links, they all lead to good things.

    Mainja brings our attention to this article in the Sunday Herald:
    PRESIDENT George Bush has promised that if re-elected in November he will make regime change in Iran his new target.
    ...A US government official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said that military action would not be overt in changing Iran, but rather that the US would work to stir revolts in the country and hope to topple the current conservative religious leadership.
    The official said: “If George Bush is re-elected there will be much more intervention in the internal affairs of Iran.”


    As near as I can tell, the source for this story is at the London Times (from July 17th) which unfortunately requires a paid registration to access. No North American coverage of this yet, much like the story of those six detainees the Iraqi PM allegedly executed.

    Now, with regards to the Herald story, some kind of increased US engagement with Iran seems more or less inevitable. They have what, about 160,000 troops stationed in two neighbouring countries (Iraq and Afghanistan) and Iran is an important player in the politics of both those countries. The 9/11 Commission is soon going to report that Iran has had stronger ties with Al-Qaeda than Iraq ever had. Thus the Washington Post observes that the US is at a crossroads with respect to its Iran policy.
    Since May, Congress has been moving -- with little notice -- toward a joint resolution calling for punitive action against Iran if it does not fully reveal details of its nuclear arms program. ... In contrast, two of the most prominent foreign policy groups in Washington are calling for the United States to end a quarter-century of hostile relations and begin new diplomatic overtures to Iran, despite disagreements on a vast range of issues. Because the "solidly entrenched" government provides the only "authoritative" interlocutors, Washington should "deal with the current regime rather than wait for it to fall," says a Council on Foreign Relations report released today.

    I recommend you read the WaPo piece in its entirety. It's very good. The thrust is that despite Iran's being in the Axis of Evil, the Bush administration has had nothing resembling a policy towards Iran and, as a result, is basically flip-flopping between the two poles of US foreign policy: the State Department's doves and the Pentagon's hawks (and Cheney). In other words, the pre-Iraq scenario is being replayed and not just because the names sound so similar.

    One argument in favour of the Iraq war, of course, was that putting 140,000 troops in Iraq would be helpful for dealing with Iran - except of course that at the time, the Iraq war wasn't going to need nearly that many because it was going to be easy. (I don't know why putting 140,000 troops in Afghanistan - where Bin Laden was - wouldn't have accomplished the same thing, but I'm not a military strategist.) As it's turned out, unfortunately, those troops are so bogged down trying to prevent a full out civil war in Iraq, they are no threat whatsoever to Iran. Indeed, the whole war turns out to have been one big favour done for Iran by Bush and various Iraqi defectors/Iranian agents. Indeed, given the instability of Iraq, a revolution in Iran could have some extremely unpredictable consequences, including enflaming the civil strife in Iraq and dragging the US into a truly horrible and consuming mess (by which I mean, an even bigger one than they're currently in).

    So what to make of the claim that a senior administration official says a second Bush administration would try to stir up another Iranian revolution? Sure. If there's another Bush administration, Powell, the least dangerous megalomaniac in government, is going to step down. His departure would almost certainly mean that the other psychopaths around Bush would be able to put yet another of their own in his place (Rice and Wolfowitz - the "brains" in this operation - are the two most likely candidates). So, yes, just about anything could be the result and it would almost certainly involve bloodshed. That senior administration official is probably right. When they come to a fork in the road and one road leads to cooperation and the other leads to wrecking everything, these guys go the same way every time.

    More recommended reading: this touching tale called President Bush Meets the Amish.
    Bush reportedly told the group, “I trust God speaks through me. Without that, I couldn’t do my job.’’

    As Ezra points out, if that's God speaking, something's getting lost in the translation. Why in the hell would the peaceful Amish support a warmonger like Bush?
     

  • Sunday, July 18, 2004
     
  • Please tell me I'm wrong to agree with the Conservative critic in this story.
    Ontario is planning to purchase seven privately-operated MRI and CT clinics and bring them into the public sector, a government spokesman confirmed Friday.

    I don't know what the solution is, but nationalizing (provincializing?) private businesses is an ugly affair. Either you're screwing over the business people or you're screwing over the taxpayers. OR maybe I'm missing something. It's not a story I've been following, so I'll give the last word to Conservative critic Frank Klees:
    "It's clearly dogma-driven and does nothing to add one service to anyone in this province."
     

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  • Looking for a good map of Washington DC with all its glyphic symbolism? From a comment at Matthew Yglesias's blog.
     

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  • Though it looks like Japan still cannot find enough support to overturn the ban, support for resuming whaling is way up among the members of the International Whaling Commission. That means compliance is likely to go down, which means more whales illegaly killed. Meanwhile, global warming and fishermens' nets are putting serious pressure on the whales. 300,000 whales died in nets last year. Here's the link. Canada and the US are not a part of the IWC, so there's precious little can be done about this on this continent.
     

  • Saturday, July 17, 2004
     
  • I wanna see some movies. Montreal's Fantasia film fest has been on since July 8th. Why is it so hard to get me out of the house?
     

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  • The folks at Eschaton are watching the development of a recent Australian report - so far uncorroborated - that just a few days prior to the handover of "sovereignty" in Iraq, interim Iraqi PM Iyad Allawi summarily executed six detainees (personally) who were accused of being insurgents. Though uncorroborated, the reporter claims to have two independent eyewitness accounts. So far, the offical US reaction is to dismiss the story as just a rumor.
     

  • Friday, July 16, 2004
     
  • If only I had time to read Wonkette every day. No one does headlines better. From Wednesday:
    Senate Pounds Federal Marriage Amendment with Its Hot Steel Rod of "No"
     

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  • Stephen Hawking now thinks he's lost his bet.
     

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  • First it was Gore and the Internet, now Kerry is claiming that Bush created race divisions in America - when will the Democrats ever stop pushing their revisionist histories?
     
    Oops: Added the missing ingredient.  Now the sentence makes sense.
     

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  • Good quote from Francis Volpe about a letter written by Tim Graham of the Media Research Center:
    Anybody who is not a bought and paid for operative of a conservative political organization (like Tim) knows that the Fox News Channel is a $3 billion in-kind campaign contribution from Rupert Murdoch to the Republican party. Which is where Greenwald and his documentary came in.
     

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  • I read the news today, oh boy...
    Wire services report that 32 Iraqis died in violence on Thursday.

    Juan Cole has the grisly details.
     

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  • Painting by numbers.  In response to the overwhelming number of suggestions (mainja,) I've lightened the background.  It was 778899, its now 9999AA.  Better?  Worse?
     

  • Thursday, July 15, 2004
     
  • Saved by the Bill (hardy-har-har):
    The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation said Thursday it will give an additional $50 million to the United Nations' international AIDS-fighting fund, a day after the United States said it won't give the resource-short charity any more money.
     

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  • Ontario's new Campus Conservatives (blech) have a headline grabbing campaign on the go. While in Canada just before the election, Michael Moore advised us to reject Stephen Harper.
    Kasra Nejatian, a member of the Ontario Campus Conservatives and Queen's University student, says he was angered by Moore's comments.

    He started an internet petition to have Moore charge under the Canada Elections Act.

    "Michael Moore came to our country, stuck his nose in our election, and broke the law," said Nejatian. "So I just want Elections Canada to charge him for breaking country's law."
    According to section 331 of the Act:
    "No person who does not reside in Canada shall, during an election period, in any way induce electors to vote or refrain from voting...for a particular candidate unless the person is
    (a) a Canadian citizen; or
    (b) a permanent resident..
    ."

    The CBC article quotes a constitutional lawyer as suggesting that if the law is interpreted as restraining Moore's freedom of speech, then it's probably an unconstitutional law. It also notes that the mayor of Sarnia, "an unabashed ally of Mr. Moore", has offered to make Moore an honorary citizen so as to avoid the charges. So, I'll make two points. First, Mayor Bradley's suggestion is obviously irrelevant, since becoming a citizen after the fact in no way changes whether Moore broke the law. Second, Moore didn't break the law. Under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, Moore has a right to express his opinions. The Charter says:
    2. Everyone has the following fundamental freedoms:
    a) freedom of conscience and religion;
    b) freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression, including freedom of the press and other media of communication; ....

    Elsewhere, the Supreme Court has ruled that when the Charter says "everyone" it means everyone in Canada, not just citizens of Canada. Furthermore, the law in question (the Elections Act) says it is an offense for a non-citizen to induce electors to vote or refrain from voting or vote or refrain from voting for a particular candidate. Now, if "induce" includes expression of an opinion, then the law contravenes the Charter of Rights and Freedoms and is hence invalid. Besides, that would be an obviously overexpansive definition of the term. The law is obviously meant to prevent foreigners from buying votes or using intimidation or other unseemly methods (such as lies) to influence how we Canadians vote. In other words, Kasra Nejatian is an attention-mongering geek who doesn't know what he's talking about and is just sore Canadians don't like his party of preference.

    P.S. Another lawyer, a friend of mine, agrees the case is bogus. Need we say it again? Geek.
    P.P.S.  Thanks to Kate for the link.
     

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  • Via Pandagon, we return to the O'Reilly Factor and the danger that the big lying liar poses to the Canadian Economy (i.e. very little.) For some background on this, click here.
     

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  • Hackers apparently redirected web traffic this morning from bushcheney04.com to the Kerry campaign site.
     

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  • Al-Jazeera is coming to Canada, with a caveat:
    The CRTC said it will require that distributors not distribute anything that could be considered "abuse comment."

    It will allow distributors to "alter or delete" Al-Jazeera programming to ensure that no abusive comment is distributed, the CRTC said, while at the same time striving to have minimal impact on freedom of expression.
     

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  • Catching up on my Eschaton reading (there's rather a lot of it these days). My advice to you is, go read that blog. But in case this is all you read today, here's the best/worst Eschaton has to offer from the last 48 hours:
    -Children of Abu Ghraib:
    Seymour Hersh says the US government has videotapes of boys being sodomized at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq.

    "The worst is the soundtrack of the boys shrieking," the reporter told an ACLU convention last week. Hersh says there was "a massive amount of criminal wrongdoing that was covered up at the highest command out there, and higher."

    (original link: the poor man)
    -Miraculous US economic recovery dead in the water:
    U.S. retail sales fell in June by the most since February 2003, underscoring forecasts that consumer spending slowed in the second quarter from the previous three months. ... The overall industrial production drop was the largest since April 2003, when it fell 0.6 percent. ... Manufacturing output fell 0.1 percent, its first drop in 13 months, the Fed said.

    -Trouble with absentee ballots may disenfranchise up to 160,000 soldiers stationed overseas. Tena comments:
    There's quite a list of difficulties in the article, and this is just unconscionable. For all the rhetoric about supporting the troops, and bringing democracy to the middle east, one would think that absentee balloting for our military would be a priority. But time is running out, and I'm not convinced that the difficulties will be addressed in time. And that really makes me mad.

    (original link: USA today)
    Just on this last point, it's worth noting that while conventional wisdom says the troops tend to vote Republican, I'd say there a lot of anecdotal evidence that suggests a large proportion of them will swing Democrat this time around.
     

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  • Sign the petition to request expert election monitors for the November election.
    To: George W. Bush

    We call on you to request expert election monitors to avoid an unprecedented electoral - and Constitutional - crisis over the Presidential election of November 2, 2004. Such a request was made by 13 Members of Congress on July 1, 2004.
     

  • Wednesday, July 14, 2004
     
  • While the US is managing to avoid an uncomfortable discussion in the Senate, the Yukon has joined the club along with Quebec, Ontario, and BC:
    The Yukon has become the fourth jurisdiction in the country to legalize gay marriages.
     

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  • A commenter at the BeatBushBlog has noticed something interesting:
    [O]ne of Ken Lay's attorneys is also the attorney Bush retained as his personal attorney in the Valerie Plame "Treasongate" investigation.

    Let's hope the Democrats can put this information to good use. Link via Talking Points Memo.
     

  • Tuesday, July 13, 2004
     
  • General JC Christian writes to the Elections commissioner about the possibility of delaying elections:
    I've been following your preparations for suspending elections with great interest, particularly now that it seems like Our Leader is incapable of breaking the 50 percent mark in the polls. Voting may be a right in this country, but with rights come responsibilities. If the People cannot be responsible for voting correctly, it is up to fine, Godly men like yourself to protect them from themselves.
     

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  • Kevin Drum points us to a BBC story about turning the tables on some Nigerian scam artists. Very highly recommended reading.
     

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  • Or well, who knows anything at all, really...:
    A Democratic congressman who receives classified briefings on the threat of terrorist attacks said yesterday that top U.S. government officials' repeated statements that international terrorists want to disrupt the American electoral process this year "appear to have no basis."
    ...Also yesterday, the Homeland Security Department said it informally told the Justice Department that it received a query about the possibility of postponing the election if there is a risk of it being disrupted by terrorism. But Homeland Security said it did not ask Justice to review the legal issues involved.
    [An article yesterday afternoon on washingtonpost.com quoted a Homeland Security spokesman saying that the department had, in fact, referred the legal issues to Justice. The spokesman said last night that he had not meant to suggest that a formal review had been requested.]
    ...Officials yesterday described as overblown an article in Newsweek magazine suggesting U.S. officials were floating a possible "proposal" to postpone the election. The article set off a round of denunciations and news stories.
     

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  • Or maybe:
    The Department of Homeland Security has confirmed that the Bush administration has discussed possibly delaying the November presidential election if there is a new terrorist attack.
     

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  • Or not:
    Newsweek reported Sunday that U.S. counterterrorism officials are reviewing a proposal that provides for postponing the elections in the event of an attack. But Brian Roehrkasse, a spokesman for Ridge, said he was 'unaware of any efforts to make plans for postponing the election.'
    He said the department is working on issues involving how to secure polling places. But how to deal with delaying a constitutionally set Election Day is a 'legal issue not within the department's purview,' he added. The Justice Department has not tackled the issue either, an official there said.
    On CNN, President Bush's national security adviser Condoleezza Rice said, 'I don't know where the idea that there might be some postponement of elections comes from.'
     

  • Monday, July 12, 2004
     
  • Early reports that the Phillipines would withdraw its 50 soldiers from Iraq may be exaggerated.
    Foreign department officials held an emergency meeting in Manila after the Arabic Al Jazeera television station showed deputy foreign minister Rafael Seguis offering to withdraw Philippine forces "as soon as possible" to save hostage Angelo de la Cruz.

    But an army spokesman said on Tuesday that there had been no official order to withdraw and the family of de la Cruz was sceptical after a series of misleading government statements since the crisis began with the 46-year-old's abduction last week.
     

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  • Via Eschaton, news that the Bush adminisitration is still hard at work, trying to destroy everything.
    Enacted in January 2001, the Roadless Rule protects the last third of America's national forests while allowing new road construction in order to fight fires, ensure public safety, and allow brush clearing to protect forest health.

    So Bush is repealing it. Nice.
     

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  • Josh Marshall on the question of delaying elections:
    But my understanding is that we already have a policy in place on postponements: i.e., we don't do them.

    ...Kevin Drum's noodling:
    My initial noodling is equivocal: I suppose it's always a good idea to be prepared, but we didn't feel like we needed the power to reschedule elections in 1864 and we didn't feel like we needed it in the 1950s when we were worried about nuclear holocaust. Why do we need it now?

    And even if we do need it, should it be in the hands of a commission? There's not really any other choice, since Congress isn't in session during elections, but if we do create such a commission I'd want it to be nice and big and incredibly multi-partisan. And I'd want any decision to reschedule an election to be unanimous.
     

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  • My independent can beat up your independent.

    Zell Miller, the freakishly right-wing Democratic Senator from Georgia, will be speaking at the Republican National Convention. Ron Reagan, liberal son of the former president, reportedly will now be speaking at the Democratic convention.
    [An anonymous] Kerry adviser said Reagan's appearance at the convention would communicate to the American people that the Democratic ticket of Kerry and Sen. John Edwards 'won't put ideology in front of sound science and let politics get in the way of what is best for the American people.'
    The adviser also said Reagan's speech would have 'big appeal' to independents.
    But the Bush campaign official predicted that the remarks by Miller -- who supported key parts of Bush's agenda -- would resonate more with independents.
     

  •  
  • Update on the Emergency Measures to keep Bush in Office under consideration:
    Newsweek cited unnamed sources who told it that the Department of Homeland Security asked the Justice Department last week to review what legal steps would be needed to delay the vote if an attack occurred on the day before or on election day.

    The department was asked to review a letter from DeForest Soaries, chairman of the new U.S. Election Assistance Commission, in which he asked Ridge to ask Congress for the power to put off the election in the event of an attack, Newsweek reported in its issue out on Monday.

    The commission was created in 2002 to provide funds to states to replace punch card voting systems and provide other assistance in conducting federal elections.
     

  • Sunday, July 11, 2004
     
  • CORRECTION: Well, there's less irony than it first appeared, though the irony is still there. The earlier article was ambiguous, leading me to think Florida was acting to make sure eligible Hispanic voters could vote, when in fact they were aiming to make sure ineligible Hispanics (i.e. felons) couldn't vote. The scrub lists persecuted Democrats more than Republicans because they omitted Hispanic felons - who would probably vote Republican.
    Florida elections officials said Saturday they will not use a disputed list that was designed to keep felons from voting, acknowledging a flaw that could have allowed convicted Hispanic felons to cast ballots in November.

    The states have far too much power, in my opinion, with regard to voting. In a democracy, the rules which determine who gets to vote should not vary from place to place.
    Florida is one of only a handful of states that does not automatically restore voting rights to convicted felons once they've completed their sentence.
    ...On Election Day, anyone who feels they have been inadvertently removed from the voter rolls will be allowed to use a provisional ballot that will be examined later to determine eligibility.

    I've actually run into a direct problem with this myself. As an American citizen born and raised in Canada, I must register to vote in whichever state my parents last resided in. However, only about a dozen states will recognize my right to vote. If my parents' last state of residence was, say, Iowa (I'm fairly sure Iowa's not in the dozen) - then I'm a disenfranchised citizen! Quite apart from the moral ambiguities of allowing ex-felons to vote or not, giving states so much jurisdiction over the voters rolls is bad for democracy.
     

  • Saturday, July 10, 2004
     
  • Leaving those Left-leaning Blacks off the voter roles was one thing, but we cannot, cannot leave out those dedicated Republican-supporters, the Hispanics!
    Florida elections officials said Saturday that they would not use a list of people believed to be convicted felons to purge voter rolls, acknowledging a flaw that had omitted nearly all Hispanics.

    Phew! Democracy was sure looking threatened there for a minute!
     

  •  
  • Kevin Drum points us to the story of how the story of the mobile weapons labs, told by an Iraqi defector (and brother of one of Ahmed Chalabi's top aids) codenamed 'Curveball', went from fraud to fact:
    The only American who met a now-discredited Iraqi defector codenamed "Curveball" repeatedly warned the CIA before the war that the Baghdad engineer appeared to be an alcoholic and that his dramatic claims that Saddam Hussein had built a secret fleet of mobile germ weapons factories were not reliable.

    In response, the deputy director of the CIA's Iraqi weapons of mass destruction task force — part of the agency's counter-proliferation unit — suggested in a Feb. 4, 2003, e-mail that such doubts were not welcome at the intelligence agency.

    "As I said last night, let's keep in mind the fact that this war's going to happen regardless of what Curveball said or didn't say, and the powers that be probably aren't terribly interested in whether Curveball knows what he's talking about," the CIA official wrote, according to information released Friday by Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) to support the Senate Intelligence Committee's blistering, 511-page critique of America's prewar intelligence.

    "However, in the interest of truth," the e-mail continued, "we owe somebody a sentence or two of warning, if you honestly have reservations."

    No evidence suggests such a warning was given, however. And Curveball — the chief source of repeated U.S. assessments that Iraq had a mobile biological weapons program — turned out to be a fraud.

    Combined with the other forms of incompetence, the story is pretty damning of the CIA - but the incompetence was not a matter of bumbling or stupidity, it was a matter of willful disinterest in the truth for the sake of pleasing their political masters. Does this mean the upperlevel folks at the CIA are hacks who should lose their jobs? Yes. But who is responsible for giving those people their heads, giving them the impression that the war would happen anyway and that the powers that were didn't care about the truth?
     

  •  
  • When the Russian police are on the case, you know they're gonna get to the bottom of it:
    An American journalist who launched Forbes Magazine's Russian edition three months ago has been shot and killed outside his office in Moscow.

    Police believe two gunmen pulled up as Paul Khlebnikov was leaving the building late Friday. He was shot four times and died on his way to hospital.
    Khlebnikov, 41, gained attention for publishing lists of Russia's wealthiest people. He had also published extensively about organized crime in Russia.... The New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists says more than a dozen reporters have been killed in Russia since Vladimir Putin came to power four years ago. Not one such case has been solved.

    On Saturday, Russian police said they have located the car they believe was used in the drive-by shooting. They also said they suspect the killing was linked to Khlebnikov's profession.

    Ya think? It had something to do with him being a journalist? Really?
     

  •  
  • Are you an extremophile?
    Researchers have found some microorganisms living miles below the Earth's surface, and others that consume everything from hydrogen to rocks. Last year, researchers from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst found single-cell organisms that breathe iron and can survive in temperatures as high as 250 degrees Fahrenheit. Oceanographers at the University of Rhode Island have analyzed microbes below the ocean floor and found some that appear to breathe at one-100,000th the rate of those closer to the surface, a mellow kind of life that may extend for millions of years.

    "I call them Zen microbes," said Steven D'Hondt, a URI researcher who is leading one of 16 NASA astrobiology teams looking for life in unlikely places on Earth.

    ...Three years ago, NASA created a new program called Astrobiology Science and Technology for Exploration of Planets, which is now funding 21 projects to help figure out ways to find signs of life elsewhere in the universe by first studying extremophiles on Earth. A prototype robot inchworm is being developed that can drill far below a planet's surface, while another project looks at using fluorescence to detect whether a specimen has DNA.

    Comic Book Movie of the week: X-treme Man! He was bit by a newly discovered microbe, now he breathes iron and eats rocks!
     

  •  
  • Use the Seafood Selector to choose healthier, more environmentally responible meals.
     

  •  
  • This in innovative:
    Currently, low mileage drivers save little on their auto insurance by staying off the roads. But shouldn't these drivers be rewarded for reducing oil use, air pollution and traffic? Pay-As-You-Drive (PAYD) insurance is an innovative concept that rewards drivers with lower auto insurance rates for driving less. Until recently, no major insurance company has offered PAYD insurance to their customers. But after over 15,000 miles Environmental Defense email activists expressed interest in PAYD insurance by signing the PAYD Pledge, insurance companies are now responding. GMAC Insurance and OnStar are now offering the discount program for GMC vehicles with OnStar in Arizona, Indiana, Illinois, and Pennsylvania, with plans to expand to
    other states soon. Discounts are offered for driving less than 15,000 a year; the lower the vehicle mileage, the more
    significant the discount. Find out more: http://actionnetwork.org/ct/op1msj91PjuN/ and sign the Pay-As-You-Drive Pledge: http://actionnetwork.org/campaign/payd/8ii8is24j6e7i8
     

  • Friday, July 09, 2004
     
  • The news networks may be about to fight a war.
     

  •  
  • Josh Marshall comments on the release of the Senate's report on prewar Iraq intelligence:
    Sen. Rockefeller and the rest of the Democrats on the Committee voted unanimously to approve the report that a) places all the blame for the intelligence failures on the CIA, b) specifically -- and quite improbably -- rules out administration pressure as a cause of the problem, and c) avoids any discussion of how or whether the administration manipulated or distorted intelligence community findings to build their case for war.
    ...Yet in his comments at the press conference Rockefeller seemed to say that each of these conclusions was either false or so incomplete as to be deeply misleading.

    As one of the first reporters to get a question in perceptively asked, why exactly then did they vote for it?

    Good question.

    Unfortunately, Josh doesn't link to a transcript of the press conference. The transcript can be found here - though beware all the typos. The question Josh refers to:
    QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE) The report states -- the unanimous report states no political pressure.

    ROBERTS: Yes, sir.

    QUESTION: And you are now saying it was political pressure. Then why did you vote for the report?

    ROCKEFELLER: That's me.

    (LAUGHTER)

    Because there are 511 pages in the report. And the vast amount of that report, which covered basically only the prewar intelligence, basically on weapons of mass destruction, was superb.

    And we had major disagreements on pressure. And I felt that the definition of preyou that you had to change your point of view?" and the answer was, "No," well that was the description of pressure.

    That's not my description of pressure. That's a description of pressure. But another description of pressure is the total ambience of this cascade of ominous statements, which continued really up to the present, about what was going to happen or the relationship between Al Qaeda and Iraq, Mohammed Atta and the rest of it.

    Rockefeller's answer goes on at some length. Follow the link and scan down if you care to. It seems to me that Rockefeller's taking a weirdly self-contradictory position, if I'm reading him right. First, he seems to be saying that the committee basically opted for a narrow definition of pressure which allowed them to say that Bush et al. didn't 'pressure' the CIA. Second, he also seems to be saying that according to a broader and better definition of the term, there was lots of pressure - but he seems to think that the legislative branch (including the Democrats) are just as much to blame as the executive. But here's the weird part:
    But let me say again, there are those of us in the Congress who made very declarative and aggressive statements based on this same NIE report. Now, were we pressured? I don't know.

    You know, I believed it. You know, I believed it in regards to the mobile labs. I believed it in regards to UAVs....

    The idea here (as far as I can make out) is that Congressmen (just like Bush and Cheney) made aggressive statements about Iraq, helping to create an "ambience" or "cascade" of "ominous statements" on the basis of the NIE. But the question of pressure is primarily whether the NIE, which I'd guess helped bring a lot of people on board the Iraq-is-a-serious-threat boat, was itself a product of political pressure, and there is plenty to suggest that it was. Sure, Congress got on board, they voted to give Bush the authority to go to war, but that was after the intelligence community had been bullied into saying what the President wanted to hear. Congress was bamboozled by the President--or rather, its self-deception was made much, much easier by his deception.
     

  •  
  • Revoke their charter, shut them down

    Tobacco giant Philip Morris has agreed to pay $US1.25 billion to the European Union after the company was accused of involvement in cigarette smuggling.

    The EU had accused the maker of Marlboro cigarettes, Philip Morris, of colluding with smugglers to evade European taxes and excise duties.

    ...Philip Morris has consistently denied it had any involvement with cigarette smuggling.

    The president of Philip Morris International, Andre Calanzopoulos, said in a statement from Lausanne in Switzerland that the agreement announced Friday "is a major step forward in the fight against illegal trade of cigarettes," because it addressed the issue of counterfeiting.

    "We estimate that over one million packs of counterfeit cigarettes are sold in Europe every day.
     

  •  
  • Earlier, I saw a clip of Layton on the CBC talking about how he'd hoped Canadians would give the NDP a central role in government and now they have - although a much more interesting role than he'd expected. One vote shy of the balance of power. That's got to be frustrating. In fact, there are a couple of recounts going on which might shift things around a bit. Anyway, Layton is saying the NDP will have to be creative to hold the Liberals to the leftist agenda they laid out in the campaign. Here's the Globe - complete with typos:
    Pushed for specifics, Mr. Layton pointed to health care, protecting the environment, increased funds for cities and a (sic) preventing a missile defence system with the U.S.

    "Canadians expect that they will deliver now on Kyoto," he said. "That they will not move ahead with star wars (sic), that they will invest in our communities, that they will do something about homelessness and social housing.”

    The NDP (with some help from the Bloc) may be able to keep Martin to a lot of his leftish promises - like money for cities, Kyoto, and a national daycare program (won't that be cool?). The NDP can keep these issues on the agenda, can bully the Liberals with quotes from the campaign, and can do so with the full support of the Bloc. But there's no reason to think Martin won't push ahead on missile defence, which the Conservatives support, nor to think that the NDP can really push the homelessness issue, which is not a big deal for the Liberals and which the Conservatives don't care about at all. I actually think the 'But you promised' rhetoric could be quite a powerful tool, given the likelihood that another election will come relatively soon and the prominence of the 'broken promises' theme in the election just held. But really, unless that recount goes the NDP's way, they're just going to be overshadowed by the big kids.
     

  • Thursday, July 08, 2004
     
  • The children of Abu Ghraib.
     

  •  
  • Via a commenter at Kos, www.bushisnotachimp.org:
    Bush has been described as a "chimp," (Globe and Mail), a "grinning chimp" (In These Times), a "smirking chimp," (SmirkingChimp.com), "the Chimp in Charge," Democratic Underground, a "hairless chimp" (The Columbian) [incorrect on both counts], and a "pretzel-eating chimp" (AP) with a face that reveals "thin-lipped brow-furrowed monkey confusion" (San Francisco Chronicle). The President's actions have similarly been conveyed in simian terms: "Bush proposes to monkey with the Constitution" (Slate).
     

  •  
  • Yet another be afraid, be very afraid message from the US administration. At least this one comes from the proper authority, Tom Ridge. (Unlike the last one which came from Ashcroft.) Ridge doesn't have any specific information for us, but says the announcement that Al-Qaeda might attack sometime was not motivated to draw attention from Kerry's anouncement of Edwards for VP.
    When asked about the timing of his announcement -- in a week Democrats have captured attention with announcement of presidential candidate John Kerry's running mate and as the campaign begins to heat up before the Nov. 2 election -- Ridge denied any political motivation.

    "We are basically laying out before the general public the kind of information that we've received," he said. "And it's not us -- these are not conjectures or mythical statements we are making. These are pieces of information that we could trace comfortably to sources that we deem to be credible."

    Right, except you're not laying out anything, Tom. You're not saying anything at all. You're just trying to scare everyone.
     

  •  
  • Go read Bill Clinton's blog. You can read all about his latest purchases, what he's reading, how he's been getting fat, and what he thinks of his sexy young publicist. All that mixed in with odd little political observations and trivia. Very entertaining and really fairly interesting. Be sure also to scan down for Clinton's discussion of his brother Roger and their recent meeting.

    UPDATE: Is my face red. The talk about Roger seemed a bit of a stretch, but I went further. When Bill started talking about what position he and Hillary had had sex in that morning, I finally lost my credulousness. The blog's a fake. Oh well. Hey, at least Carter's blog is real, right? Though it was shortlived...
     

  • Wednesday, July 07, 2004
     
  • Can Reuters really just give Bush a pass when he says Edwards doesn't have the experience necessary to be VP?
    A day after Edwards was picked by Democratic White House hopeful John Kerry as his running mate, Bush raised the experience issue when asked how Edwards stacked up against his own vice president, Dick Cheney.

    "Dick Cheney can be president," Bush said briskly.

    Cheney is a seasoned Washington insider with an impressive resume as a former defense secretary and member of Congress, while Edwards is a freshman senator from North Carolina.

    It's true, Edwards has less experience in government than Cheney. Edwards has been a senator for five and a half years, since January 1999.

    But the salience of the Edwards-Cheney comparison is belied by the facts of Bush's own history. Bush was elected Governor of Texas in November 1994, then again in November 1998; he was appointed President in November 2000. Bush's six years as governor look pretty comparable to Edwards' six years as Senator. The reason the seasoned Cheney - a heartbeat away from either a heart attack or the presidency, just depending - was even on the Republican ticket in 2000 was to make up for Bush's lack of experience. Is Bush suggesting he didn't have what it took to be president in 2000?

    Now, this election is about 2004, not 2000 - so obviously, it's a new ballgame and Americans might feel justified in saying, "Oh well, we weren't looking for experience in 2000, we are now..." But does Bush really want to bring up the experience issue at all? Kerry's been in government since 1982, and in the Senate since 1984 - not as long as the big Dick, but a decade longer than W himself. If it weren't for the compliant media, raising the issue of experience would be incredibly bad politics.

    Via Holden at Eschaton, here's WaPo columnist EJ Dionne:
    When you hear Republicans disparage Sen. John Edwards's lack of experience, remember the words of Sen. Orrin Hatch, spoken to George W. Bush at a debate on Dec. 6, 1999.

    "You've been a great governor," Hatch declared of his rival for the Republican presidential nomination. "My only problem with you, governor, is that you've only had four and going into your fifth year of governorship. . . . Frankly, I really believe that you need more experience before you become president of the United States. That's why I'm thinking of you as a vice presidential candidate."
     

  • Tuesday, July 06, 2004
     
  • Study shows TV doesn't talk about the developing world.
     

  •  
  • Meet the Morefreedom.org and the National Citizens Coalition. They're against Kyoto, among other things.
     

  •  
  • Apparently, it was all the CIA's fault. Yep, the scapegoating has begun in earnest.
    While the Senate panel has concluded that C.I.A. analysts and other intelligence officials overstated the case that Iraq had illicit weapons, the committee has not found any evidence that the analysts changed their reports as a result of political pressure from the White House, according to officials familiar with the report.
     

  •  
  • Looking up old friends... Now, here's a text for discussion:
    This unjust social system, which impoverishes and oppresses the majority of the world’s population, must be resisted and defeated. It cannot be reformed away. As long as this system exists, there will be poverty, repression and racism. The only people who can fight and overthrow capitalism, the State and all forms of oppression, are the working and poor people. Only these people - the working class and working peasants - can manage the job because only we have no vested interest in the system, because we have power in our ability to organise (particularly in the workplace), and because we produce all the wealth of the world. Only a productive class can build a free, anti-authoritarian society because only such a class is not based on exploitation.

    In place of capitalism we want a free socialistic economic system in which the workers and peasants directly manage the land and factories, and use these resources to produce for the benefit of all. In place of the State, we want to manage our own affairs through grassroots workplace and community councils, united at the local, regional, national and international levels. We call this system “anarchism” or “stateless socialism” or “libertarian socialism”.
     

  •  
  • Take a look at freewayblogger.com
     

  • Monday, July 05, 2004
     
  • Go read this article about Chalabi. Via Eschaton.
     

  •  
  • Although it looks to me like some right-wing jerks have hijacked the project, check out Political Friendster. This is very similar to an older project called they rule.
     

  •  
  • Kate points us to this CBC article on an Iowan theatre owner who's refusing to show Fahrenheit 9/11. The theatre-owner:
    "Our country is in a war against an enemy who would destroy our way of life, our culture and kill our people," Fridley wrote. "These barbarians have shown through [the Sept. 11 attacks] and the recent beheadings that they will stop at nothing. I believe this film emboldens them and divides our country even more."

    I'll wait until I've actually seen the film to comment on that argument. In the meantime, you can email beth@fridleytheatres.com if you'd like to offer your assessment.

    The article also mentions that according to the agreement reached between Disney and the Weinsteins that enabled the film to be distributed, 60% of the profits will go to a charity or charities chosen by Disney. It might be interesting to know what those charities will be. So far, I haven't been able to find the Young Republican Mouseketeers website.
     

  •  
  • Gruesome gang attack right here in Montreal.
     

  •  
  • The girl who feels no pain. I read a fantasy book a long time back with a character who had this problem.
     

  • Sunday, July 04, 2004
     
  • This man's imagination has been proven so astoundingly flawed already, I find these latest statements no comfort whatsoever:
    'I just can't imagine it,' Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said last week when asked under what circumstances it might be necessary to resume the draft.
     

  •  
  • High of 29 degrees today... I'm melting, melting!
     

  • Saturday, July 03, 2004
     
  • Via Josh Marshall, Senator Joe Biden describes a conversation with Condoleeza Rice:
    I said, Condi, "we may lose Afghanistan".
    She said, "What do you mean?"
    And I said, "Look what's going on in Herat with Ismail Khan."
    She said, "What's the matter."
    I looked at her and I said, "Well, you know ..." and I started explaining and she said, "Look, al Qaida's not there. The Taliban's not there. There's security there."
    I said, "You mean turning it over to the warlords?"
    She said, "Yeah, it's always been that way."
     

  •  
  • Help is on its way:
    The tiny South Pacific Kingdom of Tonga has dispatched 45 Royal Marines to help out the Marine force in Al Anbar.
     

  •  
  • Finally some important news. I just received notice that Bell Canada lost a class action suit regarding changes it made to its FirstRate plan back in 2000. I remember distinctly receiving a notice about these changes which said something like
    In order to improve your service, we are reducing your free, unlimited long distance to 800 minutes of free long distance.

    Apparently, I wasn't the only one who couldn't see how that was an improvement. Now it looks like all of those of us lucky enough to be Bell subscribers at the time will be getting some reimbursement. Time to dig out those old phone bills...
     

  •  
  • Kevin Drum on outsourcing:
    How much do you suppose General Motors could save by firing everyone above the level of vice president and replacing them with hardworking, highly talented, and incredibly well educated executives from India willing to work for $100,000 a year?
     

  • Friday, July 02, 2004
     
  • Play Rock Paper Saddam along with all the other cool kids. Via Sid's Fishbowl.
     

  •  
  • Think it'll happen? I actually think international oberservers of elections should be the norm among Western democracies. But most Republicans (and a fair number of Democrats, I'd wager) will say it's foreigners telling Americans how to be.
    Several members of the US House of Representatives have requested the United Nations to send observers to monitor the 2 November US presidential election.

    The request sent via a letter to UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan on Thursday said US officials wanted to avoid a contentious vote like in 2000, when the outcome was decided by Florida.

    Recalling the long-drawn-out process in the southern state, nine lawmakers, including four blacks and one Hispanic, asked that the international body "ensure free and fair elections in America", according to a statement issued by Florida representative Eddie Bernice Johnson, who spearheaded the effort.
     

  •  
  • Drugs:
    SYDNEY, N.S. - Authorities in Cape Breton said Thursday that organized criminals apparently tried to smuggle a big shipment of cocaine on a cargo ship named after the prime minister's wife and operated by his sons.

    ...The 83 kilograms of cocaine were in two duffle bags bolted to the outside of the Canada Steamship Lines vessel, close to the rudder.
     

  • Thursday, July 01, 2004
     
  • The Globe's got a good analysis of the issues facing Martin as he puts together a new cabinet. I expect these lines are right:
    The most troublesome spot to fill may be Defence; the incumbent minister, David Pratt, lost his Ottawa-area seat.
    It's anybody's guess who will replace him, but it will likely be someone already in cabinet who switches hats, not a newcomer.

    A big question for the Defence post is whether Martin will continue his avidly pro-US stance (which Pratt embodied) or whether, seeing as Canadians and the NDP dislike that posture, he will choose someone with a softer image.
     

  •  
  • Good news for Bell, Rogers, Videotron, and the rest of us:
    The Supreme Court of Canada dealt a legal blow to the music industry Wednesday, ruling that it will have to reach straight for the pockets of individual users if it wants to extract royalty payments for music downloaded from the Internet.
    In a 9-0 decision that sounded a sour note for music composers and publishers, the court said Internet service providers are a mere conduit for the transmission of music and are thus off the hook when it comes to copyright infringement.

    I support a tax on blank tapes and CDs to support musicians. True, CDs can be used for lots of things other than pirating music and thus a levy on blanks punishes some people unfairly. However, the internet is a far more diverse medium and it strikes me as radically unfair (rather than just somewhat unfair) to try to tax bandwith or force the ISPs to compensate the artists. Quoth a lawyer:
    "You would be making all Internet users pay for the copyright violations of a few."
     




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