Wednesday, June 08, 2005
Very sneaky:On April 25, Gregory Despres arrived at the border crossing
at Calais, Me., carrying a homemade sword, a hatchet, a knife, brass
knuckles and a chain saw stained with what appeared to be blood.
American customs agents confiscated the...
[War and Piece]
The fake security state in action
Man with chain saw, sword is let into U.S.
By MICHAEL KUNZELMAN
Associated Press Writer
June 8, 2005
-- On April 25, Gregory Despres arrived at the U.S.-Canadian border
crossing at Calais, Maine, carrying a homemade sword, a hatchet, a
knife, brass knuckles and a chain saw stained with what appeared to be
blood. U.S. customs agents confiscated the weapons and fingerprinted
Despres. Then they let him into the United States.
following day, a gruesome scene was discovered in Despres' hometown of
Minto, New Brunswick: The decapitated body of a 74-year-old country
musician named Frederick Fulton was found on Fulton's kitchen floor.
His head was in a pillowcase under a kitchen table. His common-law wife
was discovered stabbed to death in a bedroom.
22, immediately became a suspect because of a history of violence
between him and his neighbors, and he was arrested April 27 after
police in Massachusetts saw him wandering down a highway in a sweat
shirt with red and brown stains. He is now in jail in Massachusetts on
murder charges, awaiting an extradition hearing next month.
a time when the United States is tightening its borders, how could a
man toting what appeared to be a bloody chain saw be allowed into the
Bill Anthony, a spokesman for U.S. Customs and Border Protection, said the
Despres could not be detained because he is a naturalized U.S. citizen
and was not wanted on any criminal charges on the day in question.
said Despres was questioned for two hours before he was released.
During that time, he said, customs agents employed "every conceivable
method" to check for warrants or see if Despres had broken any laws in
trying to re-enter the country.
asked us to detain him," Anthony said. "Being bizarre is not a reason
to keep somebody out of this country or lock them up. ... We are
governed by laws and regulations, and he did not violate any
so they let a blood-covered guy cross the border AFTER confiscating all
his crap...which he had just used to commit murder.
But my shoes were a threat to national security.
Way to go, RentaCops!
When they caught up with him in Massachusetts, he was wearing a flak jacket stained with blood.
consider all of the journalists and innocent travelers detained at
customs. Remember how Jen was jerked around at the Cleveland Airport?
Yet this guy, who meets all the clinical definitions of crazy
motherfucker, who has his swords, with swastika engraved, and chainsaw,
covered in blood no less, taken from him. and is allowed to return to
the United States.
We live in a fake security state. This just smacks you in the head with that fact.
Did he need a severed head and some entrails to be stopped?
Or a Muslim name?
bet that if he was an American-born Pakistani or Indian academic coming
from a fisheries conference in New Brunswick, he would get a far more
thorough going over than the crazy blood stained motherfucker they let
Why? Because terrorists have brown skin. That's why. You
can, apparently cross the border, with bloody weapons, and no one will
stop you. But have the wrong color skin and it's fun time at customs. [The News Blog]
Ding-Dong, The Plan is Dead.
Looks like Social Security is safe:President Bush has all but conceded
his plan for private accounts for Social Security is dead, admitting
privatization won't save the federal retirement system. "You can solve
the solvency issue without personal accounts," Bush said...
$455 billion? It's only your money..
It's your tax dollars at work. Astonishing numbers:
World military spending rose for a sixth year running in 2004, growing by 5 percent to $1.04 trillion on the back of "massive" U.S. budgetary allocations for its war on terror
, a leading research institute said on Tuesday.
But world military expenditure was still 6 percent below all-time highs recorded in 1987-88 toward the end of the Cold War, Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) said in its annual yearbook.
expenditure of $455 billion, the United States accounted for almost
half the global figure, more than the combined total of the 32 next
most powerful nations, said SIPRI, which is widely recognized for the reliability of its data.
(Bold emphasis and inserted links added.)
Almost half of the entire world's military spending... damn. I knew it was bad, but I had no idea it was that bad.
Well, Cheney did say that "9/11 changed everything...", right? According to the Reuters article:
U.S. spending "has increased rapidly during the period 2002-2004 as a
result of massive budgetary allocations for the 'global war on
terrorism', primarily for military operations in Afghanistan and Iraq,"
U.S. military spending increased to 3.9 percent of gross
domestic product (GDP) last year from 3.0 percent in 1999 but remained
well below its Cold War peak of more than 6 percent, it said.
The report also mentions that Russia is the world's biggest supplier of
conventional weapons, and China is the biggest recipient, as you can
see from these graphs.
That giant sucking sound is the dollars leaving your wallet. Just write your next tax check to the Pentagon.
Old South racism lives in Texas town.
Howard Witt | Linden | June 5
Chicago Tribune - They picked up Billy Ray Johnson outside a
convenience store in this East Texas bayou town, a place where
Confederate flags fly in some front yards and a mural of barefoot
slaves picking cotton greets patrons inside the local post office. On a
cool September night in 2003, they drove the 42-year-old mentally
retarded black man to a cow pasture where a crowd of white youths was
having a party. They got Johnson drunk, they made him dance, they
jeered at him with racial epithets. Then, according to court testimony,
one of Johnson's assailants punched him in the face, knocking him out
cold. They tossed his unconscious body into the back of a pickup and
dumped him by the side of a dirt road, on top of a mound of stinging
fire ants. Hey! Nothin but good 'ole boys havin a bit 'o fun!
And his dog.
Santorum Extremely Vulnerable.
Via Political Wire.
In 2006, the most important Senate race in the nation is Pennsylvania.
This is not only because it is considered a prime pickup opportunity in
an important swing state, but also because Rick Santorum clearly has
Presidential aspirations. In fact, with...
Come, Minorities! Hug Me With Your Differences!.
the Republican Party the party of white conservative Christians? Well,
considering that James Dobson speaks on behalf of the party more than
Ken Mehlman (and that Ken Mehlman is in his particular...veiled
state, shall we say), and that the major cultural issues of the
Republican Party are driven by the primary concerns of white
conservative Christians, I'd say it's not that much a stretch. It's
much the same way I can assume that my car runs on gasoline when I'm
stuck, stranded on the side of the road after it runs out of it. I can
argue that it runs on wishes, honey, and recycled issues of Stuff magazine, but deep in my heart, I know that's not true.
Is the Democratic Party perfect on race? Not even close. But
comparing the Democratic Party to the Republican Party is almsot
laughably pointless. The Republican Party is driven by a "hug 'em all"
ethic, where so long as they pat minorities on the back and smilingly
whisper at them how John Kerry once said he hates churros and that
Howard Dean comes from a state with a lot of white people, it's equal
to actually doing something. The fact that there are Republican
minorities? Hot damn, brown people! That's as good as Martin Luther
King going fishing with Richard Nixon! Why don't you understand?
The GOP race card is large, tattered, and belongs to a completely
different game. Their discussion of racial progress and ethics largely
consists of appearances that amount to political melanin transfers. Do
you see me touching these minorities? Do you understand my deeply held concern for these people as long as they share the same concerns as white Christians? I
got Donnie McLurkin standin' next to me, you little bastards, and if
you don't like it, I'll accuse you of running donkey shows.
It's with this in mind that I try to wade through the river of crap contained within this post (Generation Why Do I Even Try?). [Pandagon]
More Google Stock! More Google Stock!.
In case the rare coin scandal in Ohio wasn't enough, our workers' comp bureau lost $215 million.
Long story short, a conservative investment strategy was yielding
returns a few years ago, so the OBWC shoved in $300 million more to
invest in a riskier strategy to hedge against inflation. Knowing there
was a problem last year, the state pretty tooled around on it for a
while, apparently lying to the governor about it in the process.
Critics complained that although the bureau knew
last fall that the MDL fund of long-term bonds and other securities had
lost $215 million, and that Attorney General Jim Petro named a special
counsel in November to investigate, the details were not made known
until this week.
"Instead of coming clean about this colossal loss, our stateâ€™s
leaders decided to hide the truth from the people of Ohio," House
Democratic Leader Chris Redfern, of Catawba Island, said.
Bureau Interim Administrator Tina Kielmeyer sent a memo to Gov. Bob
Taft yesterday outlining the situation. A Taft spokesman said the
governor was informed of the loss in the fall, but was told that it was
about $10 million to $20 million.
In fact, the bureau reallocated $125 million to riskier investment
activity with MDL after learning in March 2004 the fund had lost $6.9
million, Kielmeyerâ€™s memo said. The investment wasnâ€™t stopped until
November, when it had $9 million left.
Oh, well. It's not like Taft does anything anyway. I'm beginning to
wonder who was in charge of the math, though. Why allocate $125 million
in a risky, loss-prone strategy to make up for a $6.9 million loss?
They're shoving in over $300 million to this - all you need is a
strategy that returns between 2.3 and around 6% (depending on the
higher or lower amounts being invested), and as we all know from Social
Security, the market has a guaranteed rate of return of at least 6%,
It's less about the fact that the money was invested (the rest of
the fund is actually pretty competently run on the investment side),
but rather the absolute panic mode OBWC seemed to go into when they
lost a fairly small amount. And the fact that Taft is a walking neuter
at this point. [Pandagon]
ElBaradei 1, Bolton 0.
From the Washington Post. Reader J writes:...
One of the chief controversies Bolton was involved in was his outright
opposition to a third term for Mohammed El Baradei as IAEA Director
General, on the supposed grounds that...
[War and Piece]
Editing out inconvenient facts.
Two years ago this month, a report from the Environmental Protection
Agency was going to provide the first comprehensive review of what is
known about various environmental problems, where gaps in understanding
exist, and how to fill them. Naturally, there was a large section on
global warming -- right up until the White House stepped [...]
[The Carpetbagger Report]
Going Down on the Downing Street Memo.
Well, that is what media whores do best, isn't it?
I can't say what's worse about the corporate press's treatment off this story -- the way they've tried to ignore it, or the reason that's often given for ignoring it: That it ain't news.
As Dana Milbank (and he's one of the good ones) suggests in today's Washington Post:
In part, the memo never gained traction here because,
unlike in Britain, it wasn't election season, and the war is not as
unpopular here. In part, it's also because the notion that Bush was
intent on military action in Iraq had been widely reported here before,
in accounts from Paul O'Neill and Bob Woodward, among others.
In other words, "everybody" (i.e. the kind of sycophantic shits who read about each other in The Note) already knew
Bush had decided on war with Iraq even as he went through the motions
of seeking a peaceful solution to the WMD "crisis," and were also well
aware that "the intelligence and the facts" had been "fixed around the
policy." Why bother reporting it again, just because the intelligence
chief of our closest ally happened to put it in paper in just so many
The idea that the story never took off because the war is less
unpopular here than in Britain is also eyeball rolling. Does Dana read
his own reporting?
Poll Finds Dimmer View of Iraq War
52% Say U.S. Has Not Become Safer
By Dana Milbank and Claudia Deane
Who knows? They might feel even worse about it if the media made a
bit more of an effort to report the facts. And since when are
journalists (real journalists, I mean, not Fox News clones)
supposed to tailor their reporting to the popularity or unpopularity of
a government policy? I mean, we all know they do it, but is it really
something they want to offer up as a public defense? It's like Michael
Jackson admitting he molested underage boys -- but only because he
thought he could get away with it.
I see from the morning papers -- or their electronic equivalents --
that the press corps finally has been shamed (or cornered) into
reporting the story, thanks to the Reuters correspondent who insisted on interrupting
Blair and Bush while they were doing their Geldolf/Bono impressions at
the White House yesterday. You knew it had to be a foreign-owned news
organization that popped the question. No red-blooded reporter from the
American steno pool would pull a stunt like that.
Tom DeLay: Hmmm, Roytours. Ain't that a Frenchie name?
But of course, the consensus editorial decision was to bury the
question, and the pathetic lies it elicited, at the bottom of the "Bush
Vows to Save Africa For Just Pennies a Day" stories. The Post's main contribution to the coverage was Milbank's A-8 apologia. The LA Times buried it, as did the Chicago Tribune. The USA Today
reporter -- a servile, Bush-licking hack named Rich Benedetto, gave it
exactly one paragraph -- although for McPaper I suppose that qualifies
as saturation coverage.
The New York Times, to be fair, has a reasonably lengthy stand-alone piece
on the memo, even if it is reported by Elizabeth "the bum" Bumiller. I
can't tell what page her story ran on, but I can tell you it's just
about impossible to find on the Times web site. The Boston Globe gets a special merit citation -- it even ran excerpts from the memo itself. But somehow I suspect the readers of the Boston Globe and the New York Times
aren't the people who most need to know about this. Those would be the
vast majority who get their news and views from the idiot box. Since I
don't watch TV anymore -- except under extreme duress -- I don't know
what the network airheads and cable morons have done with the story. I
probably don't want to know.
Today, I'm willing to bet, will mark the high point of the corporate media's coverage of the Downing Street memo. I know the gadflies
will keep on gadding -- and more power to them -- but this is clearly a
story the media elites are determined to stuff down the memory hole.
Who's going to stop them?
A more fruitful line of agitation might be to pressure the media to
take a fresh look at the Senate Intelligence Committee's aborted investigation of the WMD fiasco -- the one that was supposed to look at the White House's role in "fixing the facts and the intelligence around the policy" but somehow just never got that far, thanks to Chairman Pat "Stonewall" Roberts and his pliable sidekick Jay Rockefeller.
I'm not saying it would do a whole lot of good, but it would at
least switch the focus from asking the Washington press corps to second
guess itself, which it hates to do, to encouraging it to bash the GOP
scumbags on the Hill, which it sometimes like to do, if it think its safe.
And who knows? Considering how quickly public attitudes about the
war are souring, maybe some of the ink-stained slugs will actually grow
spines. [Whiskey Bar]
Two Plans, One Ridiculous Headline.
Tony Blair has a plan to double aid to Africa to $50 billion, one that
he’s been promoting around the world for months. George Bush opposes
Blair’s plan. But suddenly, on the day Blair was set to visit the
United States, Bush “unveiled” his own plan to spend $674 million more
Contemplating Life if GM Fails
I think there's some validity to these concerns voiced by the head of Toyota:
OSAKA, Japan (Reuters)
- The outspoken chairman of Toyota Motor Corp. said on Wednesday he
feared the possibility that U.S. policy could turn against Japanese
auto makers if local giants such as GM and Ford were to collapse.One likely policy change that I could imagine
in the face of a potential collapse of GM or Ford would be a government
bailout along the lines of the Chrysler bailout. But I think that Okuda
was referring to other types of "policy changes" - e.g. tariffs and
quotas on Japanese cars, or even on other Japanese goods. Such trade
protection would be of limited use in the car industry, since so many
Japanese cars are now made in the US... but perhaps they would be
combined with higher local (i.e. US) content rules as well. Of course,
a large fraction of Ford, GM, and Chrysler cars are produced outside of
the US as well...
people say the car industry wouldn't revisit the kind of trade friction
we saw in the past because Japanese auto makers are increasing local
production in the United States, but I don't think it's that simple,"
Hiroshi Okuda told a news conference. "General Motors Corp. and Ford
Motor Co. are symbols of U.S. industry, and if they were to crumble it
could fan nationalistic sentiment. I always have a fear that that in
turn could manifest itself in policy decisions," he said, speaking as
the head of the nation's biggest business lobby, the Japan Business
Most worrying of all, however - and not at all
out of the question if a GM or Ford fails - might be the imposition of
across-the-board import tariffs by the Congress. Such import tariffs
would do nothing to help the US current account deficit, but they would help US firms that compete with imports, while at the same time reducing economic growth both at home and abroad...
Use a condom, be 'prepared to die'.
As part of my ongoing fascination with the remarkable inanity of
publicly-funded abstinence-only programs, I found a new report
explaining that Ohio's program is unusually ridiculous.
abstinence-education programs contain false information and disregard
the needs of sexually active or homosexual youths, according to a new
report from a public health professor.
One abstinence program, for [...]
[The Carpetbagger Report]
Cheers and Jeers: Wednesday. From the GREAT STATE OF MAINE...
Now, if the nominee was Richard Pryor, that would be different...
(Washington, June 7) - Today, a diverse group of organizations
amplified the growing national opposition to the nomination of William
Pryor to a lifetime seat on the U. S. Court of Appeals for the 11th
Circuit. Hosted by The Interfaith Alliance, organizations, some of whom
have seldom if ever opposed a judicial nominee, came together to urge
the Senate to reject Pryor, who they say would be a judicial activist
based on his stated contempt for the Supreme Court and his extremist
views of two centuries of American jurisprudence.
The Rev. Dr.
C. Welton Gaddy, President of The Interfaith Alliance moderated a
telephone panel discussion that included Phyllis Snyder, President,
National Council of Jewish Women; Christopher Barron, Political
Director, Log Cabin Republicans; Jim Ward, President, ADA
Watch/National Coalition for Disability Rights; and David M. Smith,
Vice President of Policy, Human Rights Campaign. The speakers agreed
his confirmation would be detrimental to religious liberty, human
rights, women's rights, rights of the disabled, consumers, workers, and
"Mr. Pryor envisions a different and
frightening America, where public officials would ignore the
Constitution and our history in order to impose one particular
religious tradition's interpretations and beliefs on all other
Americans," Gaddy said, noting that Pryor is the first nominee ever
opposed by The Interfaith Alliance. "In his imagined America, one
version of Christianity would deny equal rights to the believers of all
other traditions within Christianity and to all other religions or
non-religious beliefs. In the interest of religion and democracy, The
Interfaith Alliance does not want America to go down that road."
Read the rest at the Interfaith Alliance web site. And maybe give your Senators a jingle??
Cheers and Jeers starts in There's Moreville... [Swoosh!!] RIGHTNOW! [Gong!!]
From "What's My Line Part 2," Buffy the Vampire Slayer 2.4:
XANDER: (reading about the Bugman assassin) OK, OK ... he can only be
killed when he's in his disassembled state. Dis-assembled. That means
when he's broken down into his...
The Conscience Claws Rip Into Your Grocery Bag, Courtesy of James Dobson
Jeralyn at TalkLeft reports
the recent development at your local Acme/Albertson's/SaveOn (where I
happen to shop): "Albertsons Corporation agreed to accommodate its
pharmacists' right to refuse to fill prescriptions that violate their
religious or moral beliefs. The accommodation came on the heels of a
lawsuit filed by attorneys with the Alliance Defense Fund (ADF) and the
Christian Legal Society... - Riggsveda
Harry Shearer: Taking the privilege...
replying to a comment on the "moral equivalency" post--else, what's a
comments section for? Here's the one that caught my eye:
Hmm. I'm shocked that you c/d/won't see the lack of "moral
equivalency" between Guantanamo Bay and the Soviet's gulags. The
Soviets locked people away in the gulags because their opinions didn't
conform to the doctrines endorsed by the Central Committee. The US has
locked people away because they raised weapons against, or planned to
raise weapons in defense of terror organizations.
Posted by: Travis at June 7, 2005 12:27 PM
Dear Trav: how do you, or the US government, know that the people
locked away at Gitmo raised even a finger in defense of terror
organizations? Because the Army said it? Because, as has been reported,
Afghan warlords sold them to the Americans? The point AI was trying to
make, in its possibly clumsy way, was that Gitmo represents an
abandonmnet of the Western liberal ideal of justice, where evidence has
to be presented, and confronted, before an impartial magistrate, in a
speedy and fair manner, before such conclusions are drawn about a
person. That's what links the Gitmo project to far worse depradations
like the Gulag.
FYI: the people who've been released thus far from Gitmo have been
viewed by the US military as a non-threat. Where do they go to get
their two years back? - Harry Shearer
[The Huffington Post | Full Blog Feed]
David Wessel on Equal Opportunity and the Meritocracy.
He writes, relying on the work of the excellent Joe Ferrie among others:
WSJ.com - As Rich-Poor Gap Widens in the U.S., Class Mobility Stalls:
The notion that the U.S is a special place where any child can grow up
to be president, a meritocracy where smarts and ambition matter more
than parenthood and class, dates to Benjamin Franklin. The 15th child
of a candle-and-soap maker, Franklin started out as a penniless
printer's apprentice and rose to wealth so great that he retired to a
life of politics and diplomacy at age 42. The promise that a child born
in poverty isn't trapped there remains a staple of America's
self-portrait.... But the reality of mobility in America is more
complicated... the gap between rich and poor has widened... the odds
that a child born in poverty will climb to wealth -- or a rich child
will fall into the middle class -- remain stuck.... Americans are no
more or less likely to rise above, or fall below, their parents'
economic class than they were 35 years ago. Although Americans still
think of their land as a place of exceptional opportunity... the
evidence suggests otherwise.... As recently as the late 1980s,...
[Brad DeLong's Semi-Daily Journal]
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7/1/2005; 6:37:29 AM.