Thursday, February 02, 2006 

Bush lies in SOTU on commitment to reduce US dependence on oil

He lied or as some might say "misled us". Go figure.

Administration backs off Bush's vow to reduce Mideast oil imports
By Kevin G. Hall
Knight Ridder Newspapers

WASHINGTON - One day after President Bush vowed to reduce America's dependence on Middle East oil by cutting imports from there 75 percent by 2025, his energy secretary and national economic adviser said Wednesday that the president didn't mean it literally.


But, no - it's worse than you think. See todays NYTimes:
The Energy Department will begin laying off researchers at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in the next week or two because of cuts to its budget.

A veteran researcher said the staff had been told that the cuts would be concentrated among researchers in wind and biomass, which includes ethanol. Those are two of the technologies that Mr. Bush cited on Tuesday night as holding the promise to replace part of the nation's oil imports.

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1350 AM - Radio Free Ohio

Right after the last election, Maciej and I realized something was very wrong with the network news. Why wasn't anyone talking about the exit polls? Why wasn't anyone talking about the problems with the Diebold machines? What about the problems with the recount? We wanted more information, a serious inquiry into the events. (We didn't expect to hear the whole thing was fixed just some decent journalism.) The only place to find any information was online, and that just wasn't cutting it for us.

So, I went out and bought Sirius Satellite Radio just for the Air America programming. It was awesome. Maciej and I huddled around our kitchen table and listened to Randy Rhodes scream about election fraud her entire show. Aha, other people thought something was fishy with this election too, others noticed the network stations were pretty much ignoring the issue! - we weren't alone :-)

We enjoyed listening to the Air America radio personalities for about a year. Then, Sirius and AAR went seperate ways and I was forced to switch to XM. I hated XM. I was too accustomed to my music programming on Sirius, so I went back to Sirius and returned my XM. It was disappointing, I did not enjoy a lot of the new SiriusLeft lineup and many of the shows I liked were on at times I couldn't really listen. And although, I like Michelangelo Signorile and Mojo Nixon, I always forget when and what channel they are on, since they are not on SiriusLeft. So I ended up mostly listened to music and some Ed Schultz here and there.

Then, I discovered Radio Free Ohio. What a great line up they have. I think Stephanie Miller is perfect for morning radio. Her show is very funny, which I find very refreshing. It is always nice to step back a little and laught at it all. Then - I get to listen to Al Franken at noon and he always has an informative show with interesting interviews. So, I am very satisfied with my progressive radio choices, once again. Thanks to 1350 Am, Radio Free Ohio.

I wish Sirius would get their stuff together and get some more progressive programming. Come on already- they have 2 rightwing channels, and then all the FOX crap and the other mainstream rightwing talking heads! It sucks, but at least I get a lot of great music channels and pretty much all the Morrissey I can handle. :-)

So, next time you are in the car weekdays at 9am try listening to Stephanie Miller on 1350 AM. I bet you laugh.

UPDATE: I don't know why but it seems that whenever anybody mentions Progressive Talk some winger has to jump up and say "Air America is going to fail". Really, who cares?

Whether, AAR fails or not - I am sure progressive talk radio is here to stay in some form or another. The mere fact that the wingers devote so much time into saying it's going to fail, makes me think it might be doing a little better than they expected. But, I don't know much about the radio business - I do know that everytime I listen to 1350AM there are more sponsors and the sponsors represent larger and larger companies. So, that seems like a good sign to me. And, 1350Am was dead last before it transitioned to the Progressive Talk format - any improvement is a money maker for ClearChannel. (ClearChannel owns 1350, not AirAmerica).

Anyways, I thought this was an interesting (if a little dated) diary about the beginnings of progressive talk. It mentions ClearChannels business model of changing formats on underperforming stations to Progressive Talk and the successes it has had with it. There is also this Time Magazine piece that reminds us that ClearChannel isn't into Liberal Philanthropy and it is picking up Progressive talk because it is a money maker and radios fasted growing format.

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Wednesday, February 01, 2006 

US Female Soldiers Raped

The troops continue to get the short stick while the Bush Administration is in charge.
37 seek aid after alleging sex assaults by U.S. soldiers
Female troops serving in the Iraq war are reporting an insidious enemy in their own camps: fellow American soldiers who sexually assault them.

At least 37 female service members have sought sexual-trauma counseling and other assistance from civilian rape crisis organizations after returning from war duty in Iraq, Kuwait and other overseas stations, The Denver Post has learned. The women, ranging from enlisted soldiers to officers, have reported poor medical treatment, lack of counseling and incomplete criminal investigations by military officials. Some say they were threatened with punishment after reporting assaults.

...a Post series found widespread problems in the armed services, including flawed investigations, inadequate victim services and leniency for thousands of soldier sex offenders. Although congressional hearings were called for, none have been scheduled... Among the most disturbing trends, say the victim advocates, is a disregard for the women's safety and medical treatment following an assault. Women are being left in the same units as their accused attackers and are not receiving sexual-trauma counseling.

"If you don't even get the victim to a level of medical accessibility, how do you get to anything else, such as evidence collection through forensic exams?" Hansen said. "There appears to be a shortage of criminal justice personnel to help them, too."
Much more at the DenverPost. Also see Daily Kos and Alternet.

The Alternet article "The Fear that Kills" includes reports of death.
Last week, Col. Janis Karpinski told a panel of judges at the Commission of Inquiry for Crimes against Humanity Committed by the Bush Administration in New York that several women had died of dehydration because they refused to drink liquids late in the day. They were afraid of being assaulted or even raped by male soldiers if they had to use the women's latrine after dark.
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Tuesday, January 31, 2006 

Feds Want A Wiretap Backdoor In All Net Hardware and Software

Argghh. This is not only wrong - it is stupid too.
Think the federal government is too intrusive? You ain't seen nothing yet. An FCC mandate will require that all hardware and software have a wiretap backdoor that allows the government to tap into all your communications.
Via Preston Gralla - Networking Pipeline

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Monday, January 30, 2006 

Brown's Fundraising Looks Good

Strong Fundraising Adds Momentum to Brown's Campaign
On the day that Ohio's AFL-CIO endorsed Sherrod Brown for Senate, Brown's campaign committee reported strong fundraising totals for the final quarter of 2005. Brown's campaign raised $496,882.25, bring their cash-on-hand to $2.37 million.

"We're extremely confident about our numbers," said Ben Wikler, Brown's campaign press secretary. "The fact that 79% of our donors are individuals from Ohio speaks to the overwhelming in-state support for Sherrod."

Earlier this month, Brown was endorsed by the Ohio Communications Workers of America, the Ohio Building Trades Council, and the Ohio Federation of Teachers.

"Sherrod's focus has been on talking with Ohioans about the issues that affect their everyday lives, and his plans to bring about change in Ohio," Wikler said. "Today's fundraising numbers show that Sherrod's message resonates with working men and women throughout the state."

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Reselling Baby Items - my successful experience

Since we found out we were having a baby boy, I have started to clear out the bins of Sophies' clothes and girly newborn items. I decided to resell them at the Children's Orchard in Shaker. I have sold to them before, and the experience left me with mixed feelings. (I did a drop off and I am pretty sure they lost my things, which included a highchair. I waited for months and never heard a thing from them but when I eventually pressed the issue they "found" the items and credited my account. In fact, I think they credited my account more than a fair amount. So, I was happy. ) This time, I decided to make an appointment. I had all of Sophies' clothes from newborn to 18 months in 5 bins. I came in and they sorted through the bins and picked out about 2 bins worth of stuff. They were very picky, only sweaters without pilling, nothing with discoloration or stains (even minor) and no tie dyes. So, everything they picked out looked brand new. I had a choice of $81 cash or $110 in store credit. I took the credit since they have items for kids up to size 7 and it is always nice to be able to round out the kids wardrobes with low priced items from thier store.

After taking the credit, I was encouraged to leave the remaining bins at the store for donation to a charity. I didn't think that was a great idea, I can pick out my own charity and besides - what's to stop them from taking out a few extra items for the store (although I doubt these people would do that). So, I lugged my remaining bins home.

I thought about putting some items on ebay, but I really wasn't looking forward to it. The effort it takes to list, sell, package and send is just too much. Plus - I am just not sure of the price I would get. Some listings get very high amounts while other listings for the exact same thing might not get a bid. If I wasn't going to get a fair amount, I'd prefer to just give the items away - maybe I'd Freecycle them.

But - later that evening, I decided to put a listing on Craigslist. It seemed like Children's Orchard was paying me between $1-$3 per outfit and then marking them up to $3.99 - $5.99. I decided to sell all the remaining clothing for $2 an outfit. I wasn't sure if I'd get any response, but - Craigslist is so little effort - I might as well try.

I had tremendous response, 3 emails within the first few hours. I had a lot of Gymboree and other "brand names" that seems to help attract people. I sold 2 more bins worth of clothing for $145! Wow - that is enough to purchase the new "fancy" baby swing I wanted for my baby boy. I was very excited. On top of it, I sorted out a nice big gift bag of some of my favorites for a friend who I just found out was having a girl in a few weeks.

Now, I have about 1+ bins of clothing left (plus some other things). I think I'll freecycle or find a good charity. I'd like to find a charity where the clothes stay local and help local families. Any ideas?

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Sunday, January 29, 2006 

Top 10 Censored News Stories of 2005

Some of these stories, I have mentioned in previous diaries like the Iranian Oil Bourse, the 2005 Election Irregularities and the use of White Phosperous and other crimes against humanity in Fallujah but - some are pretty new to me. I was unaware of the US deal with Jordon in the Oil for Food Scandal and I am interested in more info on the threats to Iraqi Farmers from the multinational food corporations. (Sidenote: I presented at a conference once and I was seated next to this nice gentleman from Cargill, we exchanged cards: His was Vice President of the Western Hemisphere! Mine was not so impressive.)

Numbers 11-25 are also very interesting, I especially look forward to reading #19 Child Wards of State used In Aids Experiments and #25 Homeland Security was Designed to Fail. Follow the links for references and the complete article, buy the book for extensive info on each subject.

Anyways, these stories are always interesting and cover a wide range of topics. I read an issue during the Clinton Admin and they were just as harsh, although much more focused on US foreign policy than internal. Here they are:
1. White House Erodes Open Government

While the White House has expanded its ability to keep tabs on civilians, it's been working to curtail the ability of the public—and even Congress—to find out what the government is doing. One year ago, Rep. Henry A. Waxman, D-Calif., released an 81-page analysis of how the administration has administered the country's major open government laws. The report found that the feds consistently "narrowed the scope and application" of the Freedom of Information Act, the Presidential Records Act and other key public-information legislation, while expanding laws blocking access to certain records—even creating new categories of "protected" information and exempting entire departments from public scrutiny. When those methods haven't been enough, the administration has simply refused to release records—even when requested by a congressional subcommittee or the Government Accountability Office. Given the news media's interest in safeguarding open government laws, one wonders why these findings weren't publicized far and wide.

2. Media Coverage on Iraq: Fallujah and the Civilian Death Toll

The civilized world may well look back on the assaults on Fallujah in 2004 as examples of utter disregard for the most basic wartime rules of engagement. U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour called for an investigation into whether the Americans and their allies had engaged in "the deliberate targeting of civilians, indiscriminate and disproportionate attacks, the killing of injured persons, and the use of human shields," among other possible "grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions" considered war crimes under federal law. More than 83 percent of Fallujah's 300,000 residents fled the city. Men between the ages of 15 and 45 were refused safe passage, and all who remained—about 50,000—were treated as enemy combatants. Numerous sources reported that coalition forces cut off water and electricity, shot at anyone who ventured out into the open, executed families waving white flags while trying to swim across the Euphrates, shot at ambulances, and allowed corpses to rot in the streets and be eaten by dogs. Medical staff reported seeing people with melted faces and limbs, injuries consistent with the use of phosphorous bombs. But you likely know little of this as the media hardly mentioned it.

3. Distorted Election Coverage

The mainstream media largely ignored evidence that electronic voting machines were susceptible to tampering and downplayed political alliances between the machines' manufacturers and the Bush administration. Then came Nov. 2, 2004. President Bush prevailed by 3 million votes—despite exit polls that projected John Kerry winning by a margin of 5 million. "Exit polls are highly accurate," wrote Professor Steve Freeman of the University of Pennsylvania's Center for Organizational Dynamics in an article co-authored with statistician Josh Mitteldorf of Temple University. "They remove most of the sources of potential polling error by identifying actual voters and asking them immediately afterward who they had voted for." The discrepancy of 8 million votes was well beyond the poll's recognized margin of error of less than one percent. The official result deviated by more than five percent, which is considered a statistical impossibility. Freeman and Mitteldorf analyzed the data and found that "only in precincts that used old-fashioned, hand-counted paper ballots did the official count and the exit polls fall within the normal sampling margin of error." The discrepancy between the exit polls and the official count was considerably greater in the critical swing states.

4. Surveillance Society Quietly Moves In

It's a well-known dirty trick in the halls of government: If you want to pass unpopular legislation that you know won't stand up to scrutiny, just wait until the public isn't looking. That's precisely what the White House did Dec. 13, 2003, the day American troops captured Saddam Hussein. President Bush celebrated the occasion by privately signing into law the Intelligence Authorization Act—a controversial expansion of the PATRIOT Act that included items culled from the "Domestic Security Enhancement Act of 2003," a draft proposal that had been shelved due to a public outcry after being leaked. Specifically, the IAA allows the government to obtain an individual's financial records without a court order. The law also makes it illegal for institutions to inform anyone that the government has requested those records, or that information has been shared with the authorities. The law also broadens the definition of "financial institution" to include insurance companies, travel and real estate agencies, stockbrokers, the U.S. Postal Service, jewelry stores, casinos, airlines, car dealerships, and any other business "whose cash transactions have a high degree of usefulness in criminal, tax or regulatory matters." In one fell swoop, this act has decimated our rights to privacy, due process, and freedom of speech.

5. U.S. Uses Tsunami to Military Advantage in Southeast Asia

The American people reacted to the tsunami that hit the Indian Ocean last December with an outpouring of compassion and private donations. Across the nation, neighbors got together to collect food, clothing, medicine and financial contributions. The White House initially offered an embarrassingly low $15 million in aid. More importantly, the government exploited the catastrophe to its own strategic advantage. Establishing a stronger military presence in the area could help the United States keep closer tabs on China. It could also fortify an important military launching ground and help consolidate control over potentially lucrative trade routes. The United States currently operates a base out of Diego Garcia—a former British mandate about halfway between Africa and Indonesia, but the lease runs out in 2016. Consequently, in the name of relief, the U.S. revived the Utapao military base in Thailand it had used during the Vietnam War and reactivated its military cooperation agreements with Thailand and the Visiting Forces Agreement with the Philippines.

6. The Real Oil for Food Scam

The United Nations allegedly allowed Saddam Hussein to rake in $10 billion in illegal cash through the Oil for Food program. New York Times columnist William Safire referred to the alleged U.N. con game as "the richest rip-off in world history." According to the GAO, Hussein smuggled $6 billion worth of oil out of Iraq—most of it through the Persian Gulf. Yet most of the oil that left Iraq by land did so through Jordan and Turkey—with the approval of the United States. The first Bush administration informally exempted Jordan from the ban on purchasing Iraqi oil—an arrangement that provided Hussein with $4.4 billion over 10 years, according to the CIA's own findings. The U.S. later allowed Iraq to leak another $710 million worth of oil through Turkey, all while U.S. planes enforcing no-fly zones flew overhead. Scott Ritter, a U.N. weapons inspector in Iraq during the first six years of economic sanctions against the country, unearthed yet another scam: The United States allegedly allowed an oil company run by Russian foreign minister Yevgeny Primakov's sister to purchase cheap oil from Iraq and resell it to U.S. companies at market value—purportedly earning Hussein "hundreds of millions" more.

7. Journalists Face Unprecedented Dangers to Life and Livelihood

Last year was the deadliest year for reporters since the International Federation of Journalists began keeping tabs in 1984. A total of 129 media workers lost their lives, and 49 of them—more than a third—were killed in Iraq. As far as anyone has yet proved, no commanding officer ever ordered a subordinate to fire on journalists. But what can be shown is a pattern of tacit complicity, side by side with a heavy-handed campaign to curb journalists' right to roam freely. The Pentagon has refused to implement basic safeguards to protect journalists who aren't embedded with coalition forces, despite repeated requests by Reuters and media-advocacy organizations. To date, U.S. authorities have not disciplined a single officer or soldier involved in the killing of a journalist. Meanwhile, the interim government the United States installed in Iraq raided and closed down Al-Jazeera's Baghdad offices almost as soon as it took power and banned the network from doing any reporting in the country. In November, the interim government ordered news organizations to "stick to the government line on the U.S.-led offensive in Fallujah or face legal action," in an official command sent out on interim prime minister Eyad Allawi's letterhead.

8. Iraqi Farmers Threatened By US Mandates

Historians believe it was in the "fertile crescent" where Iraq now lies, that humans first learned to farm. "It is here...that mankind first domesticated wheat," wrote Jeremy Smith in the Ecologist. "The U.S., however, has decided that Iraqis don't know what wheat works best in their own conditions." Smith was referring to Order 81, penned by Paul Bremer, the U.S. administrator in Iraq, and left as a legacy by the American government when it transferred operations to interim Iraqi authorities. The regulation sets criteria for the patenting of seeds that can only be met by multinational companies like Monsanto or Syngenta, and it grants the patent holder exclusive rights over every aspect of all plant products yielded by those seeds. The new scheme effectively launches a process whereby Iraqi farmers will soon have to purchase their seeds rather than using seeds saved from their own crops or bought at the local market. Native varieties will be replaced by foreign—and genetically engineered—seeds. Order 81 fit nicely into the outlines of a U.S. "Economy Plan," a 101-page blueprint for the economic makeover of Iraq, formulated with ample help from corporate lobbyists. BBC journalist Greg Palast reported that someone inside the State Department leaked the plan to him a month prior to the invasion. Smith put it simply: "The people whose forefathers first mastered the domestication of wheat will now have to pay for the privilege of growing it for someone else. And with that, the world's oldest farming heritage will become just another subsidiary link in the vast American supply chain."

9. Iran’s New Oil Trade System Challenges U.S. Currency

The Bush administration has been paying a lot more attention to Iran recently. Part of that interest is clearly Iran's nuclear program—but there may be more to the story. One bit of news that hasn't received the public attention it merits is Iran's declared intent to open an international oil exchange market, or "bourse." Not only would the new entity compete against the New York Mercantile Exchange and London's International Petroleum Exchange (both owned by American corporations), but it would also ignite international oil trading in euros. A shift away from U.S. dollars to euros in the oil market would cause the demand for petrodollars to drop, perhaps causing the value of the dollar to plummet. Russia, Venezuela and some members of OPEC have expressed interest in moving towards a petroeuro system. And it isn't entirely implausible that China, which is the world's second largest holder of U.S. currency reserves, might eventually follow suit. Barring a U.S. attack, it appears imminent that Iran's euro-dominated oil bourse will open in March 2006. Logically, the most appropriate U.S. strategy is compromise with the EU and OPEC towards a dual-currency system for international oil trades. But you won't hear any discussion of that alternative on the 6 o'clock news.

10. Mountaintop Removal Threatens Ecosystem and Economy

On Aug. 15, environmental activists created a human blockade by locking themselves to drilling equipment, obstructing the National Coal Corp.'s access to a strip mine in the Appalachian Mountains 40 miles north of Knoxville, Tenn. It was just the latest in a protracted campaign that environmentalists say has national implications, but that's been ignored by the media outside the immediate area. Under contention is a technique wherein entire mountaintops are removed to access the coal underneath—a practice that is nothing short of devastating for the local ecosystem, but which could become much more widespread. As it stands, 93 new coal plants are in the works nationwide. Areas incredibly rich in biodiversity are being turned into the biological equivalent of parking lots. Is this the final solution for 200-million-year-old mountains?

Visit the Top 25 Project Censored news stories and/or Order the book "Censored 2006" here for full news stories

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Why the Left is Right - Liberal Quotes

A book must be the ax for the frozen sea within us.
-- Franz Kafka

We have gone from being lied to about the war to being spied on for protesting the war.
-- Rev. Jesse Jackson

We have it in our power to begin the world over again.
-- Thomas Paine

From the book The Best Liberal Quotes Ever - Why the Left is Right.