Friday, April 29, 2005

This happens--a lot

This 24-year-old woman from Puebla paid a woman $1400 to help her cross the Rio Grande to get to the United States. Along with her brother and boyfriend, she made it across on a boat to McAllen, Tx. The group was then promised a ride to a Border Patrol checkpoint at Sarita but were dropped off in Raymondville, 52 miles short of their desired goal. The three tried jumping on a train but the woman slipped. Her legs were sliced off.

She's now recovering in a Texas hospital and is allowed to stay in a mission with her brother and boyfriend until she recovers. They will probably be deported.

The woman said: "Like everybody in Mexico, I have dreams and aspirations. They're not destroyed, just halted."

A lot of illegal border crossings end up like this--a lot of them with an ending much worse. We just don't hear about it in the media that often. But it happens. And it happens a lot.

Migrant who lost her legs keeps faith
Associated Press - April 29, 2005

Beijing Questions U.S. Motives In 'Export of Democracy'

Beijing Questions U.S. Motives In 'Export of Democracy':

"The truth of the matter is that even if a regime is labeled autocratic by the United States, as long as that country is an out-and-out supporter of U.S. policy, Washington will turn a blind eye to it. "

Thursday, April 28, 2005

Quote of the Week (#2)

Affluence creates poverty. --Marshall McLuhan

Why Aren't the "Liberal Media" Covering This?

Image hosted by
Source: Arthur B. Kennickell, "A Rolling Tide: Changes in the Distribution of Wealth in the U.S., 1989-2001," Table 10. (Levy Economics Institute: November, 2003)

Image hosted by
Source: Edward N. Wolff, "Recent Trends in Wealth Ownership, 1983-1998," Levy Institute Working Paper No. 300, Table 3. (Levy Economics Institute: April, 2000)

Let's not forget that this covers only the Reagan, Bush I, and Clinton years. By 2003, the Bush administration had managed to get the number of Americans living below the poverty line to nearly 36,000,000 or about 12.5% of the US population. The number of people living without health insurance jumped by about a million and a half from 2002 to 2003, to about 45,000,000.

But that top 1%?

Oh, baby, LIFE IS GOOOOOD!!!

New Film About 9/11 Released in New York

A new film entitled "The Great New Wonderful" , a drama about the lives of people living in New York in the aftermath of 9/11, was released this week at the Tribeca Film Festival. Tribeca was founded by Robert DeNiro in the aftermath of 11 September 2001 to bring vibrancy and money back to this hard-hit Manhattan neighborhood.

The film, I believe, is the first fictious film made dealing with 9/11. The film is set in 2002 and moves between characters' lives in the wake of the attacks.

But as exciting as this film sounds it isn't the film that is gardering criticism it is what the star of the film, Maggie Gyllenhaal, has been saying. And as we all know in this age of television when a celebrity, even a minor one such as Gyllenhaal, speaks people are apt to take notice.

However, Gyllenhall makes a good point when she said:

"I think America has done reprehensible things and is responsible in some way and so I think the delicacy with which it's dealt allows that to sort of creep in. Not to have the courage to ask these questions of ourselves is to betray the victims of 9/11."

Gyllenhaal goes on to say that 9/11 was,

" occasion to be brave enough to ask some serious questions about America's role in the world. It is always useful as individuals or nations to ask how we may have knowingly or unknowingly contributed to this conflict."
Those statements probably don't seem that controversial to anyone reading this blog but to people living IN THE DARK these comments are earth shattering.

However, according to AOL, Gyllenhaal's website had to be shut down after tons of people flocked to the message boards to criticize her comments as anti-American.

In the same article, AOL ran a poll that asked visitors wheather they aggreed with Gyllenhaal's comments. Of the over 100,000 people that voted 63% did not agree with her and 39% agreed with her comments.

The sad thing is that I doubt Gyllenhaal is well known enough to cause a stir in the mainstream Media.

REAL ID likely to pass today

Looks like Congress is going to approve the REAL ID package today (legislation deterring illegal immigrants from obtaining drivers licenses), along with several other immigration provisions attached to an Iraq spending bill.

Nine states already allow illegal immigrants to obtain driver's licenses. California did for a while but Gov. Schwarzenegger changed it.

According to CNN today, recent polls show California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's approval rating at an all time low of 40 percent.

Gee governor, where were you born again?

Fresno Bee - April 28, 2005
Drivers license bill likely to pass
Opponents vow to fight legislation that targets illegal immigrants.
By Michael Doyle / Bee Washington Bureau

Global Terrorism On the Rise

Global Terrorism Statistics Released:

"The U.S. government released statistics yesterday documenting a dramatic increase in terrorist attacks last year and a death toll of close to 2,000 people around the globe, a disclosure made a week after the State Department said it would publish its congressionally mandated annual survey of international terrorism without the statistical portrait it has always included.
The numbers were provided instead by the government's new clearinghouse for terrorism-related information, the National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC), and included statistics documenting a sharp surge in significant terrorist acts from 175 incidents that killed 625 in 2003 to 651 such attacks that killed 1,907 in 2004. "

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Quote of the Week (#1)

The truth is more important than the facts. --Frank Lloyd Wright

Canada--Tag, you're it!

The Minuteman Project announced today that it's going to look into taking its group to the Canadian border. The group doesn't know when it's going to set up lawnchairs in Idaho, Michigan, North Dakota, and Vermont. The group also wants to start patrols around San Diego, Calif. by June and the rest of the Mexico border by October.

This is getting fun, isn't it?

Arizona Border Patrol Looks to Canada

The Associated Press
Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Quote of the Day

"A bunch of grandmas and grandpas on lawn chairs have been able to shut down the border," said Grey Deacon, a Minuteman spokesman. "People are now asking if we would bring the Minutemen to their town. All I can say is, there's a lot of planning going on."

(Source: "Illegal Immigration Fears Have Spread," L.A. Times, April 25, 2005.)

The Guardian (UK) : Pope 'Obstructed' Sex Abuse Inquiry

The Observer International Pope 'obstructed' sex abuse inquiry

Not an auspicious beginning to the papacy of Benedict XVI.

Where are the American media on this story? Here's South Africa's Mail & Guardian Online report. Here's the Sydney (Australia) Morning Herald's report. Here's the Taipei Times's. Here is Salon's.

Why aren't the mainstream American media covering this? Aren't they "liberal?" Don't they "hate people of faith?" Wouldn't this be the perfect opportunity for the "liberal" media to attack a conservative authority figure?

Maybe they aren't so "liberal" after all. Stay tuned. And keep your ears open.


There were none to be found. They didn't hide them in Syria. The right scratches its collective head and says "We knew they were there. Where did they go?"

Oh, by the way, here's an addendum to the Bush "Mandate" Reality Check:

50% of Americans now believe that Bush lied about Iraq's "weapons of mass destruction."

The Bush "Mandate" : A Reality Check

Bush: Job Ratings

Let's ignore the right-wing spin machine for a few minutes and look at some new polling data regarding the way people see the political situation in the US right now.

By a margin of 50%-47%, Americans disapprove of the way George W. Bush is handling his job as President. By a margin of 56%-42%, Americans disapprove of the way the President is handling the situation in Iraq. By a margin of 54%-35%, Americans disapprove of the way he is handling energy policy, and when asked who is to blame for the recent rise in oil prices (choices: other oil-producing countries, U.S. oil companies, or the Bush Administration), 31% blamed the Bush administration, compared with 26% who blamed other oil producing countries and 23% who blamed US oil companies.

When asked to rate the economic conditions in the US today, 68% rated it as only fair or poor, as opposed to 31% who rated it excellent or good. By a margin of 61%-31%, Americans believe the economic situation is getting worse.

By a margin of 64%-31%, Americans disapprove of the way that Bush is handling Social Security and 51% oppose a plan in which people who chose to could invest some of their Social Security contributions in the stock market. By a margin of 50%-32%, Americans put more trust in Congressional Democrats than in Bush for handling Social Security.

By a margin of 48%-36%, Americans believe that Senate Democrats are right to block 10 of Bush's judicial nominations, and 66% oppose changing Senate rules to make it easier for the Republicans to confirm Bush's judicial nominees. 26% of Americans see Federal judges as "too liberal" compared with 18% who see them as "too conservative." 52% see them as "about right."

Mandate? I think not.

United States : Republican Propaganda Spins and Spins

According to Move America Forward, a marketing piece developed by the Republican machine, the one man who had enough common sense to say "I don’t feel comfortable nominating John Bolton"—Sen. Voinovich (R-OH) —has changed his mind.

That's at least how the website promotes it. Its headline piece reads (enthusiastically):

"*UPDATE* - TERRIFIC NEWS!!!! New information into Move America Forward officials confirms that Senator Voinovich is taking a 'new' and 'fair' look at John Bolton - the man President Bush has nominated to serve as U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations. We are confident Senator Voinovich will vote 'YES' to allow Mr. Bolton's nomination to proceed from the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. MAF's principals are not at liberty to disclose who they've heard from and specifically what was said - under promise of confidentiality - but the organization is now confident that John Bolton's nomination will make it to the floor for a vote by the full U.S. Senate."

Poor Voinovich. He must be under tremendous pressure. From what I’ve heard, it is not so good to be on Bolton’s or Karl Rove’s bad side.

Monday, April 25, 2005

Kudos to Maryland

Apparently, some immigration consulants aren't working out too well in Maryland. People are reporting to the Maryland Hispanic Bar Association that their immigration applications are not being filled out correctly. And, as a result, some people are even being deported. So much for lending a helping hand.

And I'm sure the immigrants can't pay for lawyers so they give the immigration consultants money (probably the only money they have) to help them out. And in Spanish the word "notario" means that the person is like a lawyer. So that adds to the confusion.

According to today's Washington Post, the Maryland General Assembly passed legislation this month that would give people who use immigration consultants more protection. A few other states already have these kind of laws that protect immigrants. Under the law, immigrant consultants are limited in the services they can provide, and victims have the right to sue to get their money back and to collect damages. This Maryland legislation, called the Immigration Consulting Services Act, is waiting for Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr.'s signature. It passed the House 121 to 5 and the Senate unanimously.

It's about time someone's looking out for the little people.

For Immigrants, Help Can Be Risky
By Krissah Williams, Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, April 23, 2005; Page E01

Sunday, April 24, 2005

United States: The degradation of America

Political movements afoot in the U.S. culture—the Christian Right vs. a West and East Coast Progressive Voice and a partisan congress—will strengthen division and weaken the voice of the minority. And politicians are leading this front.

One Republican-led division is the nomination of John Bolton for U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations. (Conservative bio, click here. Progressive bio, click here). Bolton’s nomination is strongly supported by the Bush administration. His nomination is currently on hold because he stands accused of lacking inter-personal skills needed to be respectful of other people, much less other cultures. (Click here for more detail.)

The second is its attack on the U.S. constitution. The Republicans look at it as if it is malleable, needing a rewrite. And we’ve seen this in several ways: the U.S. PATRIOT Act, Gay Marriage, and eliminating the filibuster during judicial nominations.

Few may know about the filibuster, an historic right written into the constitution to protect the minority voice. When it comes to judical nominations, the Republicans want the filibuster gone.

Yes. A partisan congress slows the passing of bills and nominations. But why vote out a protection built into the constitution by the founders? Will they not be a minority again—one that may need a filibuster power to protect their constituents?

If Bush wants to improve his seemingly inevitable lame duck status, he should withdraw Bolton’s nomination and end this ridiculous filibuster discussion. There are more important things going on: war.

Saturday, April 23, 2005

Coalition Warns of Global Mass Surveillance

CANOE -- CNEWS - Canada: Coalition warns of global mass surveillance

Because Four Out of Five Ain't Bad

The Army has cleared four out of the five army officers in charge of Iraqi prisons, including Abu Ghriab, of prisoner abuses going on there. Army officers heard no evil, saw no evil and spoke no evil.

But wait a minute the army just released a report two days ago that said a wish list of interrogation methods (torture) was going around in 2003.

The Tribune reported:

"The discussions, which took place in e-mail messages between interrogators and Army officials in Baghdad, were used in part to develop the interrogation rules of engagement approved by Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez, then commander of U.S. troops in Iraq."

So the Army knew about the emails discussing interrogation methods in 2003 but no one actually knew about any sort of abuse going at Iraq's prisons.

How can the army release two such contradictory reports within two days of each other and get away with it?

To paraphrase, something is rotten in the free and independent state of Iraq.

Friday, April 22, 2005

Five years and counting

I bet California Sen. Dianne Feinstein sure is happy. This Tuesday, the Senate rejected a guest farmworker bill that the senator believed would be a "huge magnet" for illegal immigrants. The bill (addressing H2A visas) would have legalized approximately 500,000 of the 1.6 million people working farm jobs, half of them illegally. And the bill only took 5 years to create.

According to the San Francisco Chronicle, about 10 million to 13 million undocumented immigrants how live in the United States, filling a wide range of jobs.

The Senate offerred no fix -- at least not yet -- on the broken U.S. immigration system. Hopefully it won't take 'em another five years.

Deeply split Senate rejects guest farmworker bill
Bipartisan measure 5 years in making was attached to war funding package
Carolyn Lochhead, Chronicle Washington Bureau
Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Another example of the poor getting robbed

Between 1942 and 1949, there was a guest worker program known as the "bracero" program. Approximately 2.5 million Mexicans worked in the United States during this time. Ten percent of workers' paychecks were withheld for savings and pension funds that were promised to be payed to them once they returned to Mexico (an incentive for migrants to return home). Well, they never received their money.

Mexico's Congress just approved a $27 million fund for ex-braceros who worked here between 1942 and 1964.

According to the AP, activists say about 300,000 workers may have been jilted. Wells Fargo Bank, in charge of transferring some of the money to Mexico, said they have few documents related to this case. And Mexican officials say they never received the money.

Once again, another example of the poor man getting screwed.

Mexican government gives final approval for payments to former "bracero" farmworkers
MEXICO CITY (AP) - April 21, 2005



The conservative organization "Judicial Watch" (not part of the "vast left wing conspiracy") has sent out a press release that is disturbing, and hard to understand. It says,

"the FBI invoked Exemption 6 under FOIA law on behalf of bin Laden, which permits the government to withhold all information about U.S. persons in 'personnel and medical files and similar files' when the disclosure of such information 'would constitute a clearly unwarranted invasion of personal privacy.' "

“It is dumbfounding that the United States government has placed a higher priority on the supposed privacy rights of Osama bin Laden than the public’s right to know what happened in the days following the September 11 terrorist attacks,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. “It is difficult for me to imagine a greater insult to the American people, especially those whose loved ones were murdered by bin Laden on that day.”

Why is the FBI protecting bin Laden's "right to privacy?" What, exactly, is the Federal Government trying to hide?

Thursday, April 21, 2005

Spain Sentences "Death Plane" Naval Officer to 640 Years in Prison

I'm glad to see that Spain is a place that supports human rights.

Former Argentine naval officer ,58-year-old Adolfo Scilingo, was convicted of "crimes against humanity" for throwing 30 naked drugged POW's from a planes to their deaths in the Atlantic Ocean during his country's "dirty war".
The AP reports that, "the verdict closes Spain's first trial under a law that says crimes against humanity can be tried in the country even if they are alleged to have been committed elsewhere part of a growing body of international legislation that also has been applied for Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia."

Scilingo first told a journalits about these "death flights" in 1995 but wasn't remanded for trial until 2001. Scilingo had been on a hunger strike since late 2004.

Baltasar Garzon, the Spanish magistrate who brought the indictment, earlier sought to prosecute former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet under the same law.

Mr Garzon is spearheading a campaign to try officials linked to Latin America's military dictatorships for the death and disappearance of Spanish citizens abroad.

Between 10,000 and 30,000 people deemed to have been left-wing opponents of the Argentine regime were killed or vanished between 1976 and 1983.

So why didn't the U.S. step up during the dirty war and stop the right wing juntas from committing these awful "crimes against humanity". Because we were on their side. They were anti-communist.
According to wikipedia, "when Ronald Reagan assumed the presidency of the United States in 1981, he was quick to reverse former President Jimmy Carter's condemnation of the regime's record on human rights and to authorize CIA collaboration with the Argentine intelligence service for training and arming the Nicaraguan Contras. (see Iran-Contra Affair)".
I wonder what would have happened had a leftist juanta been committing these crimes?

Nevertheless, I am glad that Spain has decided to serve justice and start putting these human rights abusers on trial. This Spanish law is really interesting. It says that crimes against humanity, no matter where they are committed, can be tried.

We here in the good old US don't much care for that line of thinking. (see Guantanamo Bay and extrodinary rendition).

Adios Minuteman Project

Well, looks like the Minuteman Project is packing up the lawn chairs and calling it a day.

The 750 or so volunteers announced yesterday that they're going to remain at the Arizona border until the end of the month. But after that, the group is going to focus on businesses that employ illegal immigrants, fight for immigration reform, and organize Minuteman branches nationwide.

Project leader Jim Gilchrist, a retired accountant from Aliso Viejo, Calif., said: "Because of the phenomenal success of this grass-roots project in such a short time, the Minuteman Project has declared an unconditional victory in its efforts," he said in an open letter to supporters Wednesday. "We have simultaneously brought national awareness to our national security crisis, of which porous borders and illegal alien and drug traffic are components. The Minuteman Project will take the next few months to reorganize, expand, and to become larger, better, stronger."

Ray Borane, the mayor of Douglas, Ariz., said: "It doesn't surprise me that they ended it. As soon as the media packed up and left, they left as well. All they accomplished was being a hindrance to the Border Patrol and creating international hard feelings. Their biggest accomplishment was getting the media's attention. It was, as the Mexicans say, all song and no opera."

I couldn't have said it better myself.

The Times - April 21, 2005
Border-Watch Group to Stop Patrols
By David Kelly, Times Staff Writer

Open mouth, insert foot

The last time I checked, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger wasn't even born in the United States. So I don't know where he gets the nerve to say that the United States should "close the borders."

He said this on Tuesday while speaking to -- believe it or not -- the Newspaper Association of America. I bet you after that comment the reporters had a field day. And immediately after he said "close the borders," an aide quickly explained to reporters that the governor meant to say we needed tighter border security. (Nice try.)

Schwarzenegger apologized--blaming it on a "language problem." He said, "And the bottom line is, I misspoke and I'm sorry if that, you know, offended anyone. But it was a language problem, because I meant securing our borders rather than closing our borders...I think we have a terrific relationship with Mexico. I have done myself four movies in Mexico. I love to go on vacation in Mexico. I think we have a great trade relationship with Mexico. We're good friends."

Well Mr. Governor, with stupid comments like that, you won't have many good friends left.

L.A. Times - April 21, 2005
Governor, Nuñez Retreat From Daring Statements
Schwarzenegger had urged the border be closed; Assembly speaker had threatened to tie up budget talks over workers' comp.
By Peter Nicholas, Times Staff Writer

Leave this mom alone

According to NBC 5 reports, there's a 50-year-old mother of four from Melrose Park that faces deportation. An IRS audit revealed that Teresa Figueroa purchased a fake Social Security card so she could work. Her hearing on April 29 will determine if she'll be deported or not. A group of people are trying to enlist the support of U.S. Rep. Rahm Emanuel and, on Wednesday, the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights held a prayer vigil.

I can understand the courts deporting a murderer...but not a mother. What the heck is wrong with the system?

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Iraq: Civilian Death Toll Surpasses 20,000

Americans are worried about the lives of their soldiers, but who is worrying about the death of thousands of Iraqis?

Not the mainstream U.S. media.

This is an important issue, and one the United States would like to keep hidden away in Pandora's Box. But the box is open, now, as more alternative outlets research and report on what could be said to be genocide of the Iraqi people: More than 20,000 civilians have been killed by the United States under the guise of fighting terrorism.

And if the Bush administration thinks this is good will, that we are "saving Iraqis" from the hands of terrorists and that the United States is well-loved across the globe, well then, our president is on crack...or is cocaine his drug of choice?

Either way, kudos to the U.S. media who shelter its viewership from the costs of war. Ignorance is bliss and allows governments to push its mandates while its citizens blindly follow and innocents die around the world.

Follow the Leader

The Minuteman Project said it wants to watch the borders at other states this fall.

Jim Gilchrist, project organizer, announced on Monday that he's leaving his border post early. Seems to me that Gilchrist, literally, can't take the heat. To the volunteers I say pack it up and follow Gilchrist home. It was fun while it lasted.

Border volunteers want to expand to other states
AP - Friday, April 15, 2005

Minuteman Project 'bored to death'

I wonder why the Minuteman Project's head honcho, Jim Gilchrist, is leaving his post early. Sounds a little fishy to me.

Even Border Patrol spokesman Andy Adame was surprised: "Gilchrist said it (the project) was going to run for a month. He takes off halfway through and declares victory? Sounds kind of strange."

And Gilchrist said the group is bored: "We're bored to death. But people are staying here."
We'll see how many of the 700+ Minuteman Project volunteers stick it out until April 30. They should just follow the leader.

Minuteman founder leaving Mexico border area
'We're bored to death'
Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

ACTION ALERT : Help Shut Down the SOA!

Urge your Congressman/woman to spoonsor Rep. Jim McGovern's Latin America Military Training Review Act

Legislation was introduced last month to shut down the SOA (School of the Americas or Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation (WHINSEC).

Either name will do really; evil is evil.

In case you don't know, the SOA is an US Army facility at Fort Benning in Columbus, Georgia. It is a training facility operated in the Spanish language especially for Latin American military personnel.

"The SOA has been attacked for training members of governments guilty of serious human rights abuses and advocating techniques that violate accepted standards. Graduates of the SOA include men such as Hugo Banzer Suárez, Leopoldo Galtieri, Manuel Noriega, Efraín Ríos Montt, Guillermo Rodríguez, Omar Torrijos, Roberto Viola and Juan Velasco Alvarado. For this reason, the school's acronym is occasionally reparsed by its detractors as "School of Assassins"."
The SOA trains members in military techniques such as sniper training, commando and psychological warfare, military intelligence and interrogation/torture tactics. Once they get back to there home countries in South America graduates of the SOA use these tactics to abuse there own people.

Murder, rape, and torture are the order of the day for graduates of the SOA.

It is deplorable that the United States, a country founded on the idea of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, would allow such a lack of reponsibility in the way that it handles members of the SOA.

Why,then, does the SOA continue to exist?
"From its beginning, the mission of the SOA has been to train soldiers to protect the interests of multinational corporations and maintain the economic status quo for the few rich and powerful in the US and their cohorts in Latin America. Labor leaders and union organizers have always been among the primary targets of SOA violence."
But there is hope and people are aware.

Ever year in November groups from all across the country decend on Fort Benning to protest the SOA. Many of these groups are from religious communities and universities. (Including my Alma mater). The people that protest the SOA are people of good faith and concience and not the nutty moral majority right wingers who have highjacked this country. Consequently, to make their point protestors of SOA will cross over on to the government property and are promptly arrested.

However, if this legislation gets pushed through it would be a huge victory for for human rights.

AN UPDATE BY DR. FALLON (4/20/05, 11:25 CDT):
To contact your Congressional representative, click here. And then e-mail this post (using the little envelope icon below) to as many people as you can, urging them to contact their own Congressperson. This is really important, and if enough of our reps understand that their constituents hate the fact that we train war criminals here in the United States of America, we can actually get this place closed down once and for all.

Cops in Orange County will have more power

The cops in Orange County, Calif. will have more power soon.

Orange County Sherriff Michael S. Carona announced a plan to train 200+ deputies this year to use federal immigration databases to catch criminal immigrants. So instead of federal Immigration and Customers Enforcement officers interviewing suspects who are immigrants--sheriff's deputies will be able to.

Latino advocacy groups think this could promote racial profiling. But wait - Corona said that people wouldn't be caught just because they looked like undocumented immigrants.

Sure. And today I had lunch with Elvis.

L.A. Times - April 19, 2005
by Jennifer Delson, Times Staff Writer
Immigrant Plan Wrong, Activists Say

The Senate's ready to vote

Today's the day. The Senate is ready to vote on the illegal immigration policy.

Republicans don't like the amnesty idea for the illegal workforce. It's called AgJobs, sponsored by Sen. Larry E. Craig (R-Idaho) and co-sponsored by Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.). It would give a two-step process for illegal farmworkers to obtain permanent residency. Then, any permanent resident can apply for citizenship and so can their spouses and children.

"It's put farmworkers on the front burner," said Marc Grossman, spokesperson for the United Farm Workers union.

He also said half of the nation's 500,000 illegal farmworkers are in California.

Bush supports a guest-worker program that would let illegal immigrants legalize their status in the United States temporarily - but wouldn't offer an option for citizenship.

One person who doesn't want to "reward" illegal workers with permanent residency is Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.).

"We don't want to put anybody on a path to legal status," Chambliss said. "We grant them temporary status...They will return to their native land."

L.A. Times - April 19, 2005
By Mary Curtius, Times Staff Writer
Illegal Immigration Policy Is at Crossroads in Senate
  • One plan could legalize half a million workers, another would tighten border controls.
  • The Party of New Ideas

    AlterNet: The Party of New Ideas

    I posted the following comment to a piece (linked above) on Alternet:

    Back to the future/Forward to the past
    Posted by: DrFallon on Apr 19, 2005 3:19 PM
    Rate this comment:
    1 2 3 4 5

    Neil Postman wrote in Building a Bridge to the Eighteenth Century that great innovators can at the same time be perilously short-sighted. We have been gulled into believing--because the American people seem to believe--that the "old ways" of the New Deal, New Frontier, and Great Society are somehow no longer germane in an era of globalisation. But if an idea is good, it is good no matter what era it occurs in. And this is where our short-sightedness has hurt us.We need to remind ourselves--and Americans generally--that government has a role to play in protecting us. It has a role in preserving our rights. It has a role in preserving democracy. And we do all these things through law and regulation, through our common, individual consent to work toward the betterment of all.

    Regulations help people--workers, citizens, consumers, readers and viewers of news. By their very nature, they are anti-elitist, helping people at the expense of the true elites of society, corporations.

    Laws that provide for the social welfare of the people are inherently good, and "conservative" in the truest sense of the word. In times of economic chaos, a solid, sturdy, and wide "social safety net" allows people to continue their lives without serious disruption. They conserve the social status quo which, in the long run, benefits everyone.

    Private enterprise is good. But public ownership and authority over some essential services is necessary. Which essential services this means can be debated at some point in the future, but for now let's say that news and entertainment must be permanently disconnected. Remove the profit motive from journalism--for all media. Mandate public service and news programming from broadcasters, cable services, internet providers, and demand it be non-commercial.

    And--first and foremost--we must not forget that the Democratic Party, at least since the time of FDR, has worked to help people. To help PEOPLE. We must never shy away from that goal, never compromise it or even appear to compromise it, and have the courage of that conviction.

    --Peter K. Fallon, Ph.D.

    A Torturer's Wish List, Fall 2003

    "Army intelligence officials in Iraq developed and circulated "wish lists" of harsh interrogation techniques they hoped to use on detainees in August 2003", Tribune reports.

    On the wish list...

    1. low-voltage electrocution
    2. blows with phone books
    3. use of dogs and snakes hand strikes
    5. closed fisted strikes
    6.using claustrophobic techniques
    7. inducing muscle fatigue

    "The discussions, which took place in e-mail messages between interrogators and Army officials in Baghdad, were used in part to develop the interrogation rules of engagement approved by Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez, then commander of U.S. troops in Iraq.

    "Army investigative documents released Monday, as well as court records and files, suggest that the tactics were used on two detainees: One died during an interrogation in November 2003 while stuffed into a sleeping bag, and another was badly beaten by inexperienced interrogators using a police baton in September 2003."

    Apparently, there was confusion over what torture tactics could be used in Iraq.

    There was "...a belief that most detainees were not covered by Geneva Conventions protections and alleged abuse by interrogators who had tacit approval to 'turn it up a notch.'"

    I'm not sure I understand the confusion here I did a Google search for Geneva Conventions and came up with over 1 million hits.

    According to the third Geneva Convention, article three:

    "To this end the following acts are and shall remain prohibited at any time and in any place whatsoever with respect to the above-mentioned persons: (a) violence to life and person, in particular murder of all kinds, mutilation, cruel treatment and torture; (b) taking of hostages; (c) outrages upon personal dignity, in particular, humiliating and degrading treatment; (d) the passing of sentences and the carrying out of executions without previous judgment pronounced by a regularly constituted court affording all the judicial guarantees which are recognized as indispensable by civilized peoples." (Emphasis mine).

    Yeah why not use torture?

    I'm really not sure there is any confusion here. I was able to find the exact text for the Geneva Conventions in less than a minute, which is certainly less time than it takes to write an email wish list.

    Habemus Papem

    It's Ratzinger.

    Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI, since 1981 has been the prefect for the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (once known as "the Inquisition").

    Growing up in Nazi Germany, he was at age 14 required by law to join the Hitlerjugend, and at age 16, in 1943, was drafted into the Nazi Wehrmacht. He deserted in 1944.

    In a 1999 cover story on Ratzinger, the National Catholic Reporter noted some of the highlights (or, if you prefer, lowlights) of Ratzinger's record as prefect for the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith:
    • Theologians disciplined, such as Fr. Charles Curran, an American moral theologian who advocates a right to public dissent from official church teaching; Fr. Matthew Fox, an American known for his work on creation spirituality; Sr. Ivone Gebara, a Brazilian whose thinking blends liberation theology with environmental concerns; and Fr. Tissa Balasuriya, a Sri Lankan interested in how Christianity can be expressed through Eastern concepts;
    • Movements blocked, such as liberation theology and, more recently, religious pluralism (the drive to affirm other religions on their own terms);
    • Progressive bishops hobbled, including Archbishop Raymond Hunthausen of Seattle, reproached by Rome for his tolerance of ministry to homosexuals and his involvement in progressive political causes, and Bishop Dom Pedro Casaldáliga of Sao Félix, Brazil, criticized for his political engagement beyond the borders of his own diocese;
    • Episcopal conferences brought to heel on issues such as inclusive language and their own teaching authority;
    • The borders of infallibility expanded, to include such disparate points as the ban on women’s ordination and the invalidity of ordinations in the Anglican church.
    As Bendict XVI, Ratzinger will likely continue to interject Catholic doctrine (or some form of Catholic doctrine) into secular politics. He will likely continue to pressure Catholic politicians--and to coerce them through threat of excommunication--to oppose abortion, as he did in the US presidential election of 2004. He will likely continue to influence national foreign policy, as he did in cautioning Europe against admitting Turkey into the European Union--because Turkey is an Islamic nation.

    As Benedict XVI, Ratzinger will likely continue to lead the Catholic Church away from the path of post-Vatican II reform. He will likely continue to stress the unchanging truth of the Gospel. But he will also likely continue to try to shore up hoary traditions which are peripheral to Christian faith. Don't look for any changes in the Church's stand on celibacy, contraception, homosexuality, divorce, or the inferior role of women in the Church. Don't expect decentralization of authority to parishes and faith communities. Don't expect any admission that the Holy Spirit works through the body of Christ, if, by the body of Christ, you mean the entire community of the faithful.

    Welcome to the neo-Counter-Reformation.

    Day laborers fight back--and win

    I've read millions of stories about employers taking advantage of Latino immigrants. And the immigrants don't want to report the employers because they're afraid of going to jail or getting deported. A real shame. Bad employers really need to get a swift kick. And one did on Monday.

    A group of day laborers in Maryland decided they were tired of not receiving their wages from subcontractor Francisco Sandoval. He shorted twelve workers $39,390 for six weeks of work. (Thirteen other workers who had not been paid didn't want to join the group.) On Monday, Sandoval pleaded guilty in Prince George's County Circuit Court to seven misdemeanor counts of failure to pay wages. An attorney with Casa of Maryland, a nonprofit immigrants' rights group based in Silver Spring, said this is the first time a state prosecutor in Maryland has charged an employer with a felony for not paying day laborers.

    Prince George's State's Attorney Glenn F. Ivey said: "This is really a historic day in Prince George's. If you hire people, you have to pay them. You can't rip them off. We'll prosecute you."

    Immigrants on Bowie Job Win Back Pay
    Group Helps Day Laborers Bring Felony Theft Case Against Subcontractor
    By Ruben Castaneda, Washington Post Staff WriterTuesday, April 19, 2005; Page B01

    What Goes Around, Comes Around

    Yahoo! News - Rove Decries Media Approach to Government

    The media have started applying the horse race style of campaign coverage to daily reporting on government, leading to adversarial reporting that can obscure the truth just to create conflict, President Bush's chief political strategist said Monday.

    Speaking at a forum at Washington College, Karl Rove said the influx of media outlets and the shrinking shelf life of news in a 24-hour news cycle are to blame.

    "We are substituting the shrill and rapid call of the track announcer for calm judgment, fact and substance," Rove told the crowd of roughly 600 students and local residents....

    Rove countered the general notion among conservatives that mainstream media outlets skew liberal. He said the press corps is "less liberal than it is oppositional" and admitted to being a listener of National Public Radio.

    Very ironic, coming from Karl Rove. But he's right. Too bad he didn't speak out about it during the last presidential campaign.

    Wall Street Journal : Red Cross--Friend or Foe?

    OpinionJournal - Extra

    The WSJ is unhappy that the International Committee of the Red Cross has, for the last three years, "clashed" with the US over treatment and legal status of prisoners at Guantanamo. The WSJ is even more unhappy that the ICRC wants the US to adhere to a protocol to the Geneva Convention that gives prisoner of war status to non-uniformed, non-governmental guerilla fighters. And the WSJ is unhappy that the ICRC has "interposed" itself into such areas as arms control, into the banning of landmines and cluster bombs.

    David Rivkin and Lee Casey, writing in and for the Wall Street Journal, served in the Justice Department under Reagan and Bush I. And they have a solution to the "problem" of the ICRC. Cut off US funding in contravention (AGAIN) of the Geneva Conventions.

    Will someone please wake me from this nightmare?

    Monday, April 18, 2005

    Harris Poll : Bush's Job Rating Falls to Lowest Point of His Presidency

    Harris Interactive The Harris Poll - President's Job Ratings Fall to Lowest Point of His Presidency

    History's only truly great Republican president, Abraham Lincoln, once said:
    You can fool some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time, but you can not fool all of the people all of the time.
    In a recent post, I noted that Americans seem to be catching up with the rest of the world, and are seeing that the Bush administration and its policies are fundamentally wrong. Better late, I suppose, than never. But I wish they'd seen the light six months ago.

    Check out the poll. Some other highlights:

    While Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is not nearly as popular as her predecessor, Colin Powell, she is the only cabinet member currently enjoying positive ratings – by 54 to 39 percent.

    Vice President Dick Cheney’s ratings are currently 37 percent positive, 60 percent negative, down sharply from 45 percent positive, 52 percent negative in February.

    Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld’s ratings are 42 percent positive, 56 percent negative, identical to his February ratings.

    Border Patrol Agents 'Followed Procedure'

    Last Wednesday morning, border patrol agents near Desert Center (70 miles east of Palm Springs, Calif.) used spike strips to stop a car carrying 20 illegal immigrants. The crash killed Arturo Rojas Rodriguez, from Mexico, and hurt nine others.

    The next day, Carlos Giralt-Cabrales, Mexican consul for San Bernadino and Riverside counties, said:
    "We are very concerned for the well-being of the Mexican citizens. We hope that every time that a Mexican citizen is about to be detained by a Border Patrol officer, that detention should be carried out without putting at risk the life of the Mexican citizens."
    A spokesperson for the Border Patrol said agents "followed procedure."

    Sure--tell that to the Rodriguez family.

    President Bush Should Ask Carter for advice

    So former President Carter welcomed immigrants. The Bush administration should take notes.

    I read an article in yesterday's Fresno Bee that, twenty-five years ago this month, a boatlift brought 125,000 Cubans to South Florida (from April to September 1980). Carter's policy was called "open arms and open hearts."

    Apparently, the boatlift happened because on April 1, 1980, a bus driver wanted to leave Cuba so badly that he crashed the gates of an embassy in Havana. Days later, ten thousand people went to the embassy to seek asylum. So the United States and other countries tried to organize a humanitarian airlift and, to make a long story short, Fidel Castro opened up the port of Mariel to anyone wanting to leave. So 125,000 people took him up on the offer.

    Regarding borders, not a lot has happened here over the past 25 years. People are still trying to cross and others are trying to prevent them from doing so. So much for "open arms and open hearts."

    I think it's time for Bush to ask Carter for some advice. After all, he did win a Nobel Peace Prize.

    Racism in Utah?

    In Utah, there's a state law (that took effect March 8) that gives undocumented workers "driving privilege cards" instead of driver's licenses. With the card you can drive--but, in red letters, it says it can't be used as legal identification.

    Many Hispanics are mad about this.

    Veteran activist John Florez of Salt Lake City said: "You work hard, you pay the same taxes as anybody else, but the state legislature brands you as second-rate. I'm sorry to say it, but the real point here is racism."

    This can happen nationwide if Congress passes the Real ID Act. The Senate is supposed to debate the issue this week.

    Driver's License Curtailed as Identification
    Critics Call 'Real ID' Issue Forcefully Anti-Immigrant
    By T.R. Reid and Darryl Fears, Washington Post Staff Writers
    Sunday, April 17, 2005; Page A03

    Quote of the Week (#1)

    Give light, and the darkness will disappear of itself. --Erasmus

    Sunday, April 17, 2005

    Bolton Accused of Physically Harassing Whistleblower

    t r u t h o u t - Bolton Accused of Physically Harassing Whistleblower

    Read this astounding letter from a subcontracted leader of a US Agency for International Development project in Kyrgyzstan. These allegations should be fully investigated before Bolton is ever confirmed as US Ambassador to the UN. And if they are true, he should not be confirmed. He should be committed.

    New Axis of Evil Update : U.S. Warns That Chavez Seeks to Export 'Failed Political Model'

    U.S. Warns That Chavez Seeks to Export 'Failed Political Model'

    Now wait...Chavez is democratically elected, is returned to office by the overwhelming pressure of public support after a failed coup (there is evidence it was CIA sponsored), and the US calls this a "failed political model?" Is the US now calling democracy a "failed political model?"

    Or is the US State Department not talking about politics at all, but actually talking about economics? Are they referring to a "failed economic model" (i.e., socialism)? I would argue that socialism is NOT a failed political model, and at any rate many observers say that the new governments in Venezuela, Brazil, Uruguay, and other places look more like New Deal America then they do Stalinist Russia.

    Of course, Latin America is beginning to look more like New Deal America then America does right now.

    Saturday, April 16, 2005

    Quote of the Week (#6)

    What constantly marked the life of Jesus was not nonviolence but in every situation the choice not to use power. This is infinitely different. --Jacques Ellul

    More Allegations of Torture at Guantanamo

    International Relations and Security Network ISN - Security Watch

    Six Algerians--all with Bosnian citizenship--are suing the US under the Freedom of Information Act to release medical records they say would prove they have been tortured while imprisoned at Guantanamo Naval Base in Cuba.

    A Pentagon spokesman said that Al Qa'ida trains its members to make false allegations of abuse. But in light of documented cases of abuse and treatment "tantamount to torture," the Bosnian prisoners want to prove to the world that have in fact been tortured.

    Lawyers say that one of the six men was beaten so badly that he suffered facial paralysis. According to the lawsuit, US soldiers forced a garden hose pumping water at full blast into the mouth of Mustafa Aid Idir, a computer technician, until he thought he would die from suffocation. Lawyers claim his finger and thumb were broken, and his head was driven into the ground with a force that caused facial paralysis. He is also said to have suffered a stroke.

    “His eyes didn’t blink, he couldn’t eat, food was leaking from his mouth,” his attorney, Melissa Hoffer, told reporters.

    Since the Patriot Act, I've heard many right-wingers defend the curtailing of American civil rights in the name of "security." "If you've got nothing to hide, it's no big deal, right?"

    Release the records, Donald Rumsfeld. If there's nothing to hide, there's no problem, right?

    Frist to Participate in Anti-Filibuster Telecast

    Frist to Participate in Anti-Filibuster Telecast

    The proud, self-righteous, and oh-so-judgmental "christian" right are on the attack again, this time over the issue of the filibuster for judicial nominees. Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist will be among a group of "christians" teleconferencing over the issue including Charles Colson (of Watergate fame) and James Dobson.

    Fine. More power to them. I usually don't bother to blog the micro-stories of US politics, prefering to attend to the more macro-stories (like Negroponte and Gonzales, and the President's enormous lies about this war) but this one caught my eye because of the colossal arrogance of these right-wing crusaders.

    But this isn't just about the filibuster, according to crusaders. This is about fighting "the liberal, anti-Christian dogma of the left." This is about the absurdly self-righteous correlation between conservative, Republican values and "christianity." It is part and parcel of the attitude that says "A Christian Can Be a Christian or a Liberal, But He Can’t Be Both."

    Please go back to my earlier posts on Pope John Paul II (who the right-wing world is now apotheosizing). If it is true, based on JP's writing, that a Christian can be a Christian or a liberal, but he can't be both, then it must also be true that a Christian can be a Christian or a Republican, but he can't be both.

    Friday, April 15, 2005

    Cubans Insist That Washington Shields An International Terrorist

    Cubans Insist That Washington Shields An International Terrorist:

    Luis Posada Carriles is a Cuban-born exile who once both was an alleged CIA agent and head of the Venezuelan secret police before the rise of Hugo Chavez. He was trained at the School of the Americas in Fort Benning, Georgia.

    Posada was arrested and convicted of bombing a Cuban airliner in 1976, killing 73 people, but escaped in 1985. He has been supported by right-wing Cuban exiles in Florida, and used as a CIA asset in El Salvador (fighting leftist guerillas) and Nicaragua (aiding the CIA funded and trained "contras"). During this time, he was also involved in the alleged smuggling and sale of cocaine to support the contra war.

    He is now living secretly in the United States and seeking asylum.


    Thursday, April 14, 2005

    Torture and Execution in Uzbekistan

    An eye for an eye will only make the whole world blind."


    Akhrorkhodzha Tolipkhodzhayev, a 25-year-old soldier, was executed by firing squad on March 1, said Tamara Chikunova, director of rights group Mothers Against Execution and Torture.

    She said Tolipkhodzhayev, convicted of murdering two children while robbing a flat, had been extradited from next- door Kazakhstan where he had been imprisoned for robbery. But there was evidence his confession was extracted under torture.

    Ukrainians Will Withdraw From Iraq by Year's End

    Countries continue to pull out of the bloody mess better known as Operation Iraqi Freedom.

    Next in line is Ukraine’s President Viktor Yushchenko, who today signed a decree to withdraw all of his country's troops from Iraq by years’ end. He already pulled out 1,600 troops this past March, some say due to the country's public opinion: Most were against the war and allegedly disgusted by the fact 18 Ukrainians lost their lives to peddle U.S. democracy.

    But the timing is questionable: Yushchenko visited the White House to meet with President Bush on April 4, 2005. What did the two discuss to have Yushchenko return to his country, think about the conversation with Bush and then declare his country's involvement in Iraq officially over?

    Apparently Bush promised millions of dollars to fortify the Ukrainian democracy—as an additional supplement to an exisiting appropriations bill. Reported the Washington Post: "In that light, Bush noted yesterday that he has requested $60 million to help cement Ukrainian democracy as part of a larger supplemental appropriations bill. But he did not mention that the House has cut that request to $33.7 million. Nor did he mention his administration's decision to cut 46 percent of funding for democracy and civil society programs in the former Soviet Union over the past four years."

    Maybe Yushchenko saw through Bush’s lies, prompting him to end Ukrainian support for the U.S.-led war in Iraq. (Or maybe after supposedly being poisioned by an opponent he isn't scared of anyone—not even Bush and his cronies.)

    When hearing this news, how did Bush respond?

    "Mr. Bush thanked Ukraine for its contribution in Iraq, and said he understands Mr. Yushchenko's need to fulfill a pledge to have the troops return home, " according to a VOA report.

    But Bush doesn’t. He didn't make that pledge.

    What a Waste!

    Here's another example of wasting taxpayer money. Apparently, a few hundred miles of the Canadian and Mexican borders have a network of cameras and sensors---to the tune of $239 million. And, according to many, it doesn't even work.

    The inspector general of the General Services Administration reports that tens of millions of dollars were wasted on this project. The IG is investigating overcharging by the contractor, International Microwave Corp., and also U.S. officials paying for work that was never performed. In addition, the IG's looking at actions of some current and former officials of the Border Patrol; its former parent agency, the Immigration and Naturalization Service, and GSA. (Note: The the Department of Homeland Security is now the parent of the Border Patrol.)

    And it seems that the Integrated Surveillance Intelligence System (ISIS) cameras aren't so intelligent after all. In Washington state, more than 64 cameras fogged up in cold and rain. And IMC was paid $1 million to install 36 poles to hold several cameras there but it only installed 32.

    Another example: According to a GSA report, eight border patrol zones cost $20 million. But none of its cameras operate fully. So why was IMC paid upfront for a lot of its work?

    Border Patrol agents are complaining because, among other things, they can't control the cameras. One Border Patrol Center in New Mexico has 2 Border Patrol agents and 19 IMC employees. So why then did ISIS equipment repairs take months to finish?

    Another interesting fact: Rebecca Reyes, 33, was IMC's vice president for contracts, and ran the ISIS program. She's the daughter of Rep. Silvestre Reyes (D-Texas), a former Border Patrol official and strong supporter of the sensors and cameras. Sounds a little fishy to me. But GSA reports that there's no sign that Reyes took part in any wrongdoing.

    Last year, a few Border Patrol officials came up with a new plan to install a network of cameras and sensors. That group says it's going to cost a few billion dollars. It's called "America's Shield Initiative." And Congress and the Bush administration love the idea.

    And I'm sure taxpayers are gonna' to love that idea, too.

    Probe Faults System for Monitoring U.S. Borders
    By John Mintz, Washington Post Staff Writer
    Monday, April 11, 2005; Page A01

    Quote of the Week (#5)

    A point of view can be a dangerous luxury when substituted for insight and understanding. --Marshall McLuhan

    Why In the World Has Bush Nominated John Bolton?

    Why In the World Has Bush Nominated John Bolton?

    From Le Figaro, France.

    Wednesday, April 13, 2005

    Ten Priorities for a True "Culture of Life"

    AlterNet: The Culture of Life Top Ten:

    The late Pontiff, His Holiness Pope John Paul II, would support all of these. Would the Project for a New American Century?

    We report. You decide.
    1. Withdraw the Troops
    2. Stop the Death Penalty
    3. Pass Effective Gun Control Laws
    4. Fund Social Services
    5. Create Universal Health Care for Children
    6. Research Alternative Energy
    7. Investigate Prisoner Abuses
    8. Support AIDS Clinics Abroad
    9. Implement a Fair Guestworker Program
    10. Join the International Criminal Court

    "Why I Interrupted John Negroponte"

    Andres Couteris

    I pray that America comes to its senses soon. I honestly do.

    Negroponte Role in Covert War Revealed

    Negroponte role in covert war revealed - World -

    Another sign that freedom is on the march, the Senate Intelligence Committee is questioning John Negroponte prior to the full Senate voting on his nomination as the first "intelligence czar" in US history. This is a man, records now confirm, who oversaw a terrorist war--complete with CIA-trained death squads, kidnapping, and torture--against Nicaragua in the 1980s. His nomination to any high government post is a statement to the world that the UNITED STATES APPROVES OF TERRORISM WHEN IT IS USED AGAINST OUR STRATEGIC OPPONENTS.

    This is a shame, and in light of all the right-wing praise for the late Pontiff, Pope John Paul II, I might also add it is a terrible sin.

    What kind of example is that, Howie?

    Former Republican, now Independent Sen. Jim Jeffords Burns His Bridges

    Valley News Web Story Layout


    “I think it was all done to get oil,” Jeffords said of invading Iraq. “And the loss of life that we had, and the cost of it, was to me just a re-election move, and they're going to try to live off it. Probably start another war, wouldn't be surprised, next year. Probably in Iran.”

    “Do you think that's likely?” VPR host Bob Kinzel asked.

    “I probably shouldn't even talk on it, I just feel so bitter about the thinking that's gone on behind them, and the reasons they go to war and went to war,” Jeffords replied. “But I feel very strongly that they are looking ahead, and that there will be an opportunity to go into Iran and try to get their son elected president. I don't know, but you do it each time they (are) going to have a new president. I’m very, very (Jeffords chuckles). Oh, well, I better be quiet.”

    Yes. This is a dangerous time to say what you're thinking.

    America to GOP : Leave the Filibuster Alone!

    An NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll shows that most Americans (50%-40%) want the GOP controlled Senate to leave the filibuster rule alone for judicial nominations. A sizable majority (63%-30%) want Senate Democrats to "Provide a balance to make sure that President Bush and the Republicans do not go too far in pushing their agenda." And more Americans than not (45%-43%) believe that the GOP Senators are NOT acting responsibly in trying to push their programs in spite of Democratic opposition.

    Mandate, schmandate.

    Quote of the Week (#4)

    Republicans are the most compelling evidence we have that evolution is merely a theory. --Peter K. Fallon

    The World is Flat - Creationism's assault on science

    Even the late Pope John Paul II, whom both the political and religious right-wing are lionizing right now, said that evolution was "more than just a theory" and that the Darwinian view was not inconsistent with Catholic faith.

    But because of people like my right wing friend in NY, Howie, we actually have evolution being replaced in some American schools by creationism or, as it is sometimes called, oxymoronically, "creation science."

    Half the people who are mourning the loss of John Paul II never read a single word he said.

    Tuesday, April 12, 2005

    Quote of the Week (#3)

    It is the weak and confused who worship the pseudosimplicities of brutal directness. --Marshall McLuhan:

    IN THE DARK Welcomes New Team Members : An Update

    In the Dark: IN THE DARK Welcomes New Team Members

    Along with Publisher, Matt, and SkeetsV (who joined IN THE DARK earlier this week), please join me in welcoming Kogepan.

    U.S. and Pakistan Become Bosom Buddies

    Once again the Bush administration implements foreign policies that, frankly, don't make much sense: like becoming bosom buddies with Pakistan.

    For example on March 17, 2005 Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Pakistani Foreign Minister Khursheed Mahmood met to discuss the burgeoning ties between the United States' new partner in fighting terrorism. Their message was clear: "We remain engaged in broadening and deepening our multifaceted relationship on a long-term basis for the mutual benefit of our two countries."

    This is curious for two reasons: the October 2004 and January 2005 U.S. Department of State reports. It seems that, over a few months' time, the U.S. stance on Pakistan changed drastically. The October report is scathing: stating key U.S. concerns with the nation were terrorism, weapons proliferation, as well as India-Pakistan relations, human rights and economic relations.

    By January 2005 gone was wording about weapons of mass destruction and terrorism, replaced by new language focused on "a stable democratic, economically thriving Pakistan is key to U.S. interests."

    So it is all about the dollars--not security. If it wasn't, ties may be hurt by what happened yesterday: the U.S. consulate in Karachi closed its doors in fear because of a security threat, according to a Voice of America report. The embassy also issued a warning to all Americans in the region, advising them to avoid the consulate and the nearby Marriott Hotel.

    If violence in the Pakistan continues as of this post (and can be said will continue) why the hell is the United States selling F16s to the nation?

    Not everything is Black and White...Sometimes it's Gold

    Gold Star Families for Peace is a group worthy of our attention as a nation as we continue to struggle in Iraq.

    GSFP is a group made up of families who have had son or daughters killed in war.

    The Gold Star Families for Peace mission statement reads:

    "We as families of soldiers who have died as a result of war (primarily, but not limited to the invasion/occupation of Iraq) are organizing to be a positive force in our world to bring our country’s sons and daughters home from Iraq, to minimize the “human cost” of this war, and to prevent other families from the pain we are feeling as the result of our losses. We are also hoping to be lifetime support for each other through our losses."
    Gold Stars shining IN THE DARK.

    Real ID Act a 'Mishmash of Policies'

    In an editorial today, The Washington Post calls the Real ID Act a "mishmash of policies." And there are a number of Latino organizations that don't like it either. A group wrote a letter to President Bush recently stating that "comprehensive immigration reform is needed to address the root causes of undocumented immigration, to save lives along the border, and to provide U.S. employers with a legal workforce. In addition, the nation will be safer if we enforce our immigration laws fairly and provide all of our residents with due process of law."

    In the Feb. 7, 2005 letter, the National Council of La Raza, League of United Latin American Citizens, Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, and National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials Educational Fund expressed their "strong opposition" to the Real ID Act.

    "If enacted, the (Rep.) Sensenbrenner legislation will have a profound, negative impact on Latinos and other immigrant communities. It will not make Americans safer and, in fact, may make us all less safe by driving a wedge between American communities and law enforcement."

    Specifically, the organizations want Bush to oppose additional federal immigrant driver's license requirements on states because there's already the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004 that lists standards set by the Department of Transportation (one being that documentation is required as proof of identity of an applicant).
    "...such requirements would not have prevented the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, because the 9/11 hijackers all possessed other valid documents, including passports from their home countries. We strongly believe that, by focusing on driver's license policy as a tool in America's struggle against terror, the proponents of this bill are misleading the American public as to what will advance our security interests. We believe this to be a costly, harmful mistake. Access to driver's licenses is a priority issue for the Latino community, and the ability to prove one's identity and lawfully operate a motor vehicle is crucial for all Americans. Public safety improves when all drivers are properly licensed and insured, and national security improves when individuals have valid identification documents."
    The Real ID Act also calls for building fences along the U.S.-Mexico border. According to the Feb. 7 letter to Bush, the existing fence near San Diego cost about $3 million per mile to contruct.
    "Numerous reports illustrate that this expenditure did not result in a reduction of undocumented migration; it has simply shifted migrants out of the San Diego area to Arizona. Apprehensions in Arizona have skyrocketed over the last decade, as have border deaths. More than 2,000 migrants have died in transit since 1997 according to the government's own statistics. Since the implementation of Operation Gatekeeper and Hold the Line, migrants have been forced to cross the border in more remote and dangerous areas, and have increasingly relied on human smugglers, causing an increase in injury and death as well as criminal activity and violence. Additionally, at a time when we need to build cooperative relationships with our hemispheric partners in order to prevent future terrorist attacks, the symbolism of establishing a fence between ourselves and our neighbors is particularly troublesome."
    The Real ID Act also includes asylum-related provisions. In other words, those fleeing persecution can't seek asylum in the United States. The letter also stated: "These provisions do nothing to make us safer and do great damage to our nation's proud heritage as a place of refuge for those fleeing persecution. Furthermore, the Intelligence Reform Act of 2004 included provisions to further study the asylum process. No more changes should be made until this study is completed and Congress has had time to evaluate current law."

    A quick "swoosh" of a pen isn't going to solve the country's immigration problems. Senate leaders need to make a huge pot of coffee, sit down, and debate.

    After all, we are paying them a pretty good salary--aren't we?

    Poland to Pull Troops From Iraq at End of Year

    Yahoo! News - Poland to Pull Troops from Iraq at End of Year

    The "coalition of the willing" continues to dwindle down to a precious few, even though the President insists it isn't so.

    France and Germany, of course, were never a part of it. Nor were Belgium, Norway, or Canada. Ireland--the "Celtic Tiger" of the European Union--maintained its traditional neutrality.

    Spain was a member, but left following the March 11, 2004 bombings. New Zealand is gone, as is Hungary and Portugal.

    Once-hawkish Bulgaria begins to reduce its troop level by late June.

    In response to massive protests and negative public opinion, Italy will remove its troops in September. Ukrainian soldiers are leaving. And now, Poland.

    The eastern-European, former Soviet-bloc countries ("new Europe") like Poland were once strong supporters of the US invasion. Many have had to come to terms with popular opinion at home. The Polish government of Prime Minister Marek Belka is in danger of losing upcoming elections, and dare not extend its committment in Iraq.

    Meanwhile, Iraqi Shiites and Sunnis have mounted protests calling for a swift US exit from Iraq.

    Mission Accomplished?

    Time will tell.

    Quote of the Week (#2)

    But the one who hates his brother is in the darkness and walks in the darkness, and does not know where he is going because the darkness has blinded his eyes. --1 John 2:11

    Monday, April 11, 2005

    High Gas Prices?

    Two words ...

    Hubbert's Peak

    Welcome to the end of cheap oil. Our demand has simply out weighed our supply. But you won't hear this anywhere in the mainstream Media. Oh, I'm sure you'll hear something along the lines of "Gas prices are rising. Ain't that a shame? Back to Chip with the latest from the weather center."

    In a very unscientific survey, I did a Google News search for "high gas prices" and then Hubbert's Peak". The results were staggering.

    In .10 seconds I recieved 1,290 hits for "high gas prices".

    In .03 seconds I recieved 32 hits for "Hubbert's Peak".

    Much like the mainstream Media, I will not ask why this is so.

    No One in the "Air" Really Cares

    A recent opinion poll that appeared on the Air America Radio web site asked listeners to fill in the blank to this statement "I want more mainstream media coverage of..." Tom Delay's Corruption ... The Iraq War ... The nuclear option/Supreme Court decisions ... Terri Schiavo and Michael Jackson ... Prisoner abuse scandals.

    You can probably guess which one I voted for.

    Here's the results:

    1. Tom Delay: 3,581 (72%)
    2. The Iraq War: 559, (11.25%)
    3. Nuclear Option: 456, (9.18%)
    4. Prisoner Abuse: 280, (5.64%)
    5. Terri & Michael: 92, (1.85%)

    And it's a landslide for Delay! (Which is a good story but could easily be turned into sour grapes). I'm just glad that whichever god whomwatches over Internet polls kept Terri & Michael from beating out the poor prisoners.

    This proves Scott's point; people just don't want news that makes them think. No one, not even the so-called liberals, really care about prisoner abuse.

    I know this isn't by any means a scientific poll. But it's scary nonetheless, that liberal people, people that are more apt to care about human rights could in reality care less.

    Cynicism rising...


    In the Dark: UN Basher Named UN Ambassador:

    The links above will bring you to the website, where you can find addresses and e-mail addresses of your Senators. The issue at hand is whether we approve of the Bush administration's desire to strong-arm the United Nations into complacency in the face of rampant global expansion of capitalism.

    How far to the extreme right is John Bolton? He is an ideologue of the Project for a New American Century (along with William Kristol, Dick Cheney, Jeb Bush, Donald Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz, Eliot Abrams, Richard Perle, and Dan Quayle) and the American Enterprise Institute (along with Richard Perle, Newt Gingrich, Michael Novak, Lynne Cheney, Michael Ledeen, and Fred Thompson). Jesse Helms said of him in 2001, "John Bolton is the kind of man with whom I would want to stand at Armageddon, if it should be my lot to be on hand for what is forecast to be the final battle between good and evil in this world." He has said that after the situation is stabilized in Iraq, "it will be necessary to deal with threats from Syria, Iran and North Korea." So he fits in very well with the Bush administration.He has worked against the Rome Treaty that established the International Criminal Court. He has worked against treaties that seek to stem the global proliferation of illicit small arms and light weapons ("We do not support measures that would constrain legal trade and legal manufacturing of small arms and light weapons.") Since he became the Bush administration’s Undersecretary of State for Arms Control and International Security in May 2001, he has overseen the US withdrawal from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, undermined the Biological Weapons Convention, and shown public contempt for the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty. At the same time, it was under Bolton's "Arms Control" watch, that Pakistan sold nuclear technologies and resources to Iran, Lybia and North Korea.He has said at various times "if the U.N. Secretary Building in New York lost 10 stories, it wouldn't make a bit of difference," and--in the run-up to the US invasion of Iraq--"There is no such thing as the United Nations. There is only the international community, which can only be led by the only remaining superpower, which is the United States."US Ambassador to the United Nations? I'll say this about the Bush administration: these folks are audacious.

    Let the Border Patrol do its job

    According to the L.A. Times, more than half of the 1.1 million illegal immigrants apprehended by the Border Patrol last year crossed at the Arizona border. The state ranks fifth in the number of illegal immigrants. So a group of volunteers called the Minuteman Project decided to help out and guard the 2,000-mile Arizona border itself. And the group's allowed to carry guns.

    This is trouble waiting to happen.

    On April 4, the first day of patrol, one project volunteer said, "If we see any immigrants, we'll first radio someone, and then call Border Patrol." Another said, "We can ask them if they'll wait but we can't touch them." (Washington Post, April 5, 2005, "In Ariz., 'Minuteman' Start Border Patrols")

    Yeah. And I make $1,000,000 a year.

    This is probably the first and only time I'll say this, but I agree with President Bush on this one. He calls the Minuteman Project "vigilantes." Last month, Bush said: "I'm against vigilantes in the United States of America. I'm for enforcing law in a rational way. That's why you got a Border Patrol, and they ought to be in charge of enforcing the border."

    According to the L.A. Times, the group has made a huge change in the number of immigrants crossing at the Arizona border. Enrique Enriquez, a member of Grupo Beta, Mexico's agency dedicated to protecting the health of immigrants, said more than 400 people a day walk along the trails at that border. But news of the Minutemen's arrival, mixed with the attention in Mexico, has cut the traffic to a few dozen a day. (L.A. Times, April 4, 2005, "A Roadblock, Not a Barrier for Migrants")

    Also, the Bush administration said it deployed more than 500 additional Border Patrol agents to Arizona to deter illegal immigrants from crossing the U.S.-Mexico border. And Mexico sent additional migrant-aid agents to its side of the border with Arizona.

    In the L.A. Times last week, Ruben Valenzuela, a Mexican state policeman at a checkpoint near Agua Prieta (across from Douglas, Ariz.) was quoted with: "Well, (the Minuteman Project) will only stop the immigration for a short time and then it will start again."

    And I see that the Minuteman Project didn't even show respect to an illegal immigrant detained recently. Last week, Tribune news services reported that three Minuteman Project volunteers took a photo an illegal immigrant holding a T-shirt that read: "Bryan Barton caught an illegal alien and all I got was this lousy T-shirt."

    A message to all Minuteman volunteers--if showing disrespect is the only thing you know how to do, then I suggest you go home. And let the Border Patrol do its job.