Friday, August 29, 2003

from the blogosphere 

From the Daily Kos:

The SEIU is the largest union in the nation, and has become ground zero for Gep's efforts to capture the endorsement of the AFL-CIO. The AFL-CIO will only endorse a primary candidate if he or she garners the endorsements of 2/3rds of its member unions (with votes proportional to membership size). The SEIU has been leaning Dean, while AFSCME (the nation's second-largest union) has been leaning Kerry. Gephardt needs both of those to earn the AFL-CIO endorsement.

So all eyes will be on the SEIU on September 8-10, when it should announce its endorsement. If it rewards Gep for his solid support of labor issues in the past, then Gep will be in seriously good shape heading into the primaries (with that AFL-CIO endorsement under his belt). But if Dean gets it, he'll have the nation's largest union, the most diverse, and the one with the sharpest political operation (especially in NY and CA).

Gephardt is the frontrunner for the CWA endorsement, but Dean wined and dined them in Chicago, and the work may be paying off. From a labor source:

Don't know who we're going to endorse. I think Gephardt has a lot of loyalty, but Dean signed one of our carrier switch pledges in front of the convention and then demonstrated today at a Verizon Wireless store, so he's looking pretty good to us right now. The CWA is the nation's 5th largest union.

Update: From another highly placed labor source with some insight into labor politics:

I instinctively believe, without any evidence, that Nathan Newman has hit it on the head--a three way quasi-endorsement of Gep, Dean, and Kerry for SEIU. Andy Stern, SEIU prez, is incredibly shrewd. The best way for him to maintain maximum influence at this point and to keep his eye on the his main goal--denying Gep the full Federation endorsement--is probably not to come out 100% for one of the other candidates, but to appear open to any of the big three lib-lefties--he'll have more influence with undecided unions voting on the Gephardt endorsement by showing that kind of flexibility.

But keep this mind: not withstanding some of your more literal minded posters, there is no way in hell that Gep will get the full Federation endorsement if both AFSCME and SEIU are opposed--sure that only about 23%, but, believe me, they will not oppose the endorsement without having lined up the other union votes need to get to 1/3--that's how the AFL-CIO executive council works, there are no surprises once the final vote happens.
Now if only someone with this level of insight would start a blog focused on union politics. I find this stuff fascinating.

all aboard!... nevermind 

From Labor Notes:

In 2001, the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA), the government agency charged with overseeing safety on the nation's railroads, gave its wholesale approval for major U.S. railroads to employ remote control operators (RCOs), belt pack devices that move unmanned engines, in switching operations. Within months, the corporate leadership of the nation's largest railroads had reached agreement with the nation's largest rail union, the United Transportation Union (UTU), for the implementation of remote control technology at rail yards across the country. By spring 2002, pilot projects were set up and the new technology began to be implemented.


For the locomotive engineers who formerly performed this work, the railroads pledge that there will be no actual layoffs. These employees may seek retirement, exercise their seniority and bid on road jobs in pools and extra lists, or even "flow-back" to conductor/trainman positions in the yard or on the road. The net effect of coast-to-coast implementation of remote control will be the elimination of thousands of union jobs.

workers centers 

From Labor Notes:

Because many low-wage workers today are as likely to be struck by lightning as to be approached to join a union, many community-based efforts around work and wages have organized outside the context of labor unions. Of course some unions, such as the Service Employees with their Justice for Janitors and home health aid campaigns, are targeting low-wage workers. But these drives are still the exception. The bulk of immigrants to the United States today, documented and undocumented, work in low-wage jobs. These workers toil overwhelmingly in the private sector, at jobs that are born non-union, in industries that present huge barriers to unionization. Workers centers-a new type of community-based labor organization with the dual role of raising wage standards and giving low-wage workers a voice in the broader society-are attempting to fill this void. Most have arisen in communities of newly arrived low-wage immigrant workers.


A minority of these organizations are unions, or have some affiliation with a local or international union, but most are not affiliated with unions at all. They are modest-sized community-based organizations of low-wage workers that focus on issues of work and wages in their communities. Workers centers pursue their mission through a combination of strategies: service delivery: such as legal representation to recover lost wages, English as a Second Language classes, and job placement, advocacy: speaking on behalf of low-wage workers to local media and government, and organizing: building an association of workers who act together for economic and political change...


From the Washington Post:

CRAWFORD, Texas - Giving civilian federal workers a pay raise of more than 2 percent next year would jeopardize the war on terrorism, President Bush said Wednesday.

AFL contemplates the election 

From In These Times:

By David Moberg | 8.25.03

When union leaders think about strategy for next year's elections, one goal overrides everything else. People are ready to do almost anything in terms of getting George Bush out of the White House, says Gerald McEntee, president of the public employees union AFSCME and chair of the AFL-CIO's political committee. There are disagreements about the best candidate, tactics, organizational turf, and what issues are most important, but the passion to oust Bush is driving unions to work harder than ever before on politics and to smooth over conflicts.

There is a real unity of purpose among affiliates that we haven't ever seen, says AFL-CIO political director Karen Ackerman. Bush is making workers see we have to have an alternative. It's not just the loss of jobs "3.2 million from the private sector, the worst record at a comparable point in any administration since Herbert Hoover” but the attacks on workplace protections and on unions as institutions, and the unabashed catering to the rich and big corporations. Bush has been an unmitigated disaster for working people, says McEntee. AFL-CIO President John Sweeney says, "No previous Republican administration has ever been this malicious on workers issues and more determined to seek advantage for corporate America. And these are the polite comments.

...the AFL-CIO executive council in August authorized creation of Working America, a neighborhood-based membership organization of working people who do not belong to a union but want to work on political and legislative issues.

On a larger scale, the federation and individual unions are putting millions into new organizations, regulated by Section 527 of the tax code. So-called 527 groups can accept soft money for voter registration and grassroots organizing. One of the first was Partnership for America's Families, started by former AFL-CIO political director Steve Rosenthal, which aims to register, educate, and mobilize sympathetic but non-union constituencies, including minorities and working women in targeted areas.

...Two new organizations may help provide that coordination. America Votes was founded in July as a coalition of labor (including the AFL-CIO, AFSCME, and SEIU), environmentalist, civil rights, and community groups; it also includes new groups dedicated to voter education and mobilization, such as Partnership for America's Families and Some of the groups in America Votes have in turn formed America Coming Together (ACT), a new political action committee that will develop statewide plans for 17 key states. ACT can raise both regulated hard money for candidate contributions and unregulated soft money, and it is expected to have a budget of $75 million. Already it has raised $30 million, including $10 million from financier-philanthropist George Soros and $8 million from labor unions.

Rosenthal, ACT's chief executive, calls it the largest field operation this country has ever seen. Drawing on the lessons from labor's political efforts, it aims in large part at expanding the likely base for progressive Democratic candidates. "This is in some ways what the party could have been doing and should have been doing," Rosenthal said. "A lot of these voters feel the party and candidates haven't been talking to them."

...Unions have devoted much effort to influencing the candidates' positions and strategies, with some success. Dean, Kucinich, Gephardt, Sen. John Edwards, and Kerry have all explicitly supported keeping employers neutral and recognizing unions simply by checking cards. As a result of union influence, even the candidates who supported NAFTA, the WTO, and permanent normal trade relations with China (with the exception of Lieberman) now talk about including labor and environmental protection in future trade agreements. SEIU has ads in airports and on television in Iowa and New Hampshire urging candidates to propose universal health care plans. Nearly all the candidates have offered broad but differing plans for greater access to insurance.

It isn't clear yet who has the best shot. At this point, Gephardt's campaign has not caught fire, but supporters argue that he is best suited to defeat Bush in crucial Midwestern industrial states. So far there has also been limited popular enthusiasm for Kerry, even though he leads in fundraising. He seems to have more support from non-industrial union strategists who think he might be best suited to contest Bush on national security issues and are least troubled by his free trade voting record. Dean has clearly generated popular excitement, taking the lead recently among likely caucus-goers (including union members) in Iowa, Gephardt's backyard. But despite being impressed with his message, some union leaders see him as an untested, unfamiliar candidate. With the field so fluid, union endorsements could make a difference, as they did in helping save Gore in 2000, but they also risk getting too far ahead of most union members and the dynamics of a still-young campaign, with union leaders backing a loser even among their own members.

In the end, unions don't want anything to distract from their transcendent goal. "We've got to beat Bush," Stern said. "That's the only issue here."


From the San Francisco Chronicle:

Thousands of Yale University workers went on strike over wages, pensions and job security early Wednesday as upperclassmen began returning to the Ivy League campus. Yale spokesman Tom Conroy said the university planned to keep the campus running with managers and temporary workers. Classes for undergraduates begin Sept. 3. About half of the nearly 4,000 union workers reported to work Wednesday, Conroy said. Union officials disputed those numbers, but said they did not have exact figures.

...Locals 34 and 35, representing mostly clerical, service and maintenance workers, already went on strike for five days in March. Strikes have preceded eight of the last 10 contracts.

Also on hand was picket hanger on Jesse Jackson.


NEW HAVEN, Conn., Aug. 28 /PRNewswire/ -- Former Vermont Governor and democratic presidential candidate Howard Dean will join striking Yale workers, returning students and freshmen for "Pizza in the Street" on Friday afternoon at 5:00 p.m. on Wall Street in front of Beinecke Plaza.

Howard Dean will support efforts to negotiate a fair contract. Failing that, Dean has called for binding arbitration as an alternative to striking.

From the Kansas City Star:

Associated Press

NEW HAVEN, Conn. - A national union president and dozens of union members were arrested Friday as striking Yale University workers began blocking major intersections near the school.

John Wilhelm, head of the Hotel Employees and Restaurant Employees International union, joined campus service and clerical workers in the third day of a strike seeking better pay and pensions. At least 80 people, including Wilhelm, were arrested Friday as they blocked the streets. "I hope this will move us toward a very speedy settlement of our contract," said Mary Kilton, an employee in the school's policy department, who sat down at Elm and College streets.

Yale officials and union leaders, representing 4,000 people, have agreed to resume talks with Mayor John DeStefano Jr. about contract issues, the New Haven Register reported in Friday's editions.


From the Honolulu Star Bulletin:

About 1,400 city bus workers went on strike at 12:04 a.m. today after last-ditch negotiations with management broke down. "We're ready to go three months," said Mel Kahele, president of Teamsters' Local 996. He said no new talks were scheduled.

The strike, the first by Honolulu bus workers since 1971, is expected to clog traffic this morning as tens of thousands of bus riders search for alternatives to get to work, school or other destinations.

uaw movin' and shakin' 

From the Automotive News:

Dana Corp. has signed an agreement with the United Auto Workers to allow the union to organize its factories. The company and union confirmed the deal Wednesday. In the United States, Dana owns 200 plants that employ 20,000 workers. Of those plants, the UAW represents 2,350 workers at nine factories.

The union also has launched organizing drives at six other Dana plants. The Toledo, Ohio-based supplier has agreed to remain neutral in those and other membership campaigns. Most important, Dana will forego plant elections to certify the union. If more than half of a factory’s hourly workers sign cards pledging support for the UAW, Dana will accept the union as a bargaining agent.

The announcement comes as Dana is fending off rival ArvinMeritor Inc.’s hostile $4.4 billion takeover offer.

The agreement is another major victory for the UAW, which has negotiated similar agreements with Johnson Controls Inc., Intier Automotive Inc., Magna International and Metaldyne.

From the Hardin County, Kentucky News Enterpise:

Elizabethtown's Dana Corp. plant is the company's newest unionized operation, organized labor supporters announced late Monday. An official announcement is expected today. More than 60 percent of Dana's workers signed cards in favor of unionizing the Hardin County plant, United Auto Workers representatives said. The final "yes" count was 595 of 980 eligible workers.

Members of the union organizing committee cheered the announcement.

And then...

From the Hardin County, Kentucky News Enterpise:

An Elizabethtown Dana Corp. employee has taken legal action to reverse an agreement between the company and the United Auto Workers that led to the plant's unionization. Pam Lippe, who headed the anti-union Dana Independents during the UAW's organization campaign, filed an unfair labor practices charge with the National Labor Relations Board late last week. The charge, if determined to be valid, could ultimately void the local plant's recent move to union representation.

Lippe could not be reached for comment this week. A phone number she supplied to a The News-Enterprise reporter and her attorney has been disconnected or changed. Her attorney said Wednesday that he was having trouble reaching her.

The suit, filed on Lippe's behalf by the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, alleges the union and company "coerced" workers at "captive audience speeches in which employees (were) threatened with job losses" if they did not unionize. The suit stems from a partnership agreement between the UAW and Dana Corp. that was finalized last week and called for the company's neutrality toward unionization in several of its North American manufacturing facilities.

Those guys at the National Right to Work Committee really are a bunch of cocksuckers.

can you hear me now? 

From Newsday:
August 25, 2003

After nearly a month of intense negotiations, Verizon Communications and its unions were getting closer to reaching a settlement in their contract talks yesterday. Talks, still under way last night, are expected to continue today, said Candice Johnson, spokeswoman for the Communication Workers of America. The union, along with the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, has been negotiating for a new contract for 78,000 telephone technicians and operators. "We still have some issues to resolve," Johnson said, adding the federal mediator involved in the negotiations has barred detailed discussion of the talks.

...The two have also battled in court this month - with the union suing the company for monitoring a union conference call with reporters and with Verizon Wireless filing court papers against the union's use of its advertising slogan, "Can you hear me now?"

From the New York Times:

Verizon Communications Inc., the local telephone carrier, and unions representing 78,000 employees in the Northeast halted contract negotiations until Tuesday, a federal mediator, Peter Hurtgen, said yesterday in a statement. Verizon and the unions, the Communications Workers of America and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, have been seeking to avert a strike that could hamper service in 13 states from Virginia to Maine. The contracts expired Aug. 3.

Gallup Poll 

The Gallup Poll shows that support for union remains high. Asked whether they approved of union 65% of Americans said they approve and 29% said they disapprove.

Majorities of Americans also believe unions are mostly helpful to the companies where workers are unionized (58%) and to the U.S. economy in general (54%). However, only 36% believe unions mostly help workers who are not unionized; the majority (54%) says unions mostly hurt these workers.


From the New York Times:

Hoping to increase its political clout, the A.F.L.-C.I.O. announced yesterday that it was creating a novel organization for nonunion workers who agree with the labor movement on many issues and want to campaign alongside labor on those issues. Federation officials said they hoped the organization, to be called Working America, would attract more than one million members to lobby Congress and to join demonstrations on issues like raising the minimum wage and preventing the privatization of Social Security.

"There are millions of working people who would like to be part of the A.F.L.-C.I.O.'s efforts for social justice and want a voice to speak out and work to change the direction of this country," John J. Sweeney, the federation's president, said yesterday at a news conference. "Working America will give them this chance."

Labor unions plan to send hundreds of people door to door in working-class neighborhoods to ask sympathetic nonunion workers to join and to contribute money. The American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations has begun pilot projects for the new group in Seattle and Cleveland. In Seattle, three people working for seven weeks signed up 1,200 nonunion workers to join Working America, with each canvasser enlisting almost 15 members a day. About half of the new members made contributions, labor leaders said, with those who contributed giving an average of $16.

conflict in boston 

Kicking off this week's Labor Day Weekend Labor News Round Up is this report from Marketplace:

Minority firms worry about being shut out of lucrative contracts
Forty years ago today in Washington, 250,000 people attended the national “March for Jobs and Freedom.” History has recalled the demonstration's message of freedom, but it rarely mentions the part about jobs. So, what kind of progress have we made in opportunities for minorities? Well, minority-owned firms are competing against mostly white unions for millions of dollars in contracts for the upcoming Democratic National Convention. Problem is, DNC leaders have promised unionized firms the bulk of lucrative construction and service contracts for the event -- and more than 90% of the city's minority firms are non-unionized. A DNC spokeswoman says that it is committed to hiring minority firms, and that contracts will be signed in early spring.
Reporter: Philip Martin

The simple answer is that these shops need to sign a contract with the union. That means the set asides will benefit the workers and the owners of the minority owned businesses will benefit. The Building Trades Council should use the opportunity to organize these open shops.

It also points out that the Building Trades are paying the price for not embracing black workers sooner. They would have more leverage if their history was more progressive.

i'm robert, i'm robert! i'm robert seigel!!...NO!!! I AM!!!!...I AM!!!...I AM!!!!!!!!...I AM!!!...I AM!!!!!!!!...I AM!!! 

Yesterday's All Things Considered:

Halliburton Wins Lucrative Iraq Deals
A Washington Post report reveals that Halliburton -- formerly headed by Vice President Dick Cheney -- has received Pentagon contracts worth $1.7 billion to aid in the rebuilding of Iraq. The contracts cover everything from building construction to logistical support. Hear Post reporter Michael Dobbs.

Poll: Dean Leads Kerry in New Hampshire

A Zogby poll of likely Democratic primary voters in New Hampshire shows former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean is the leading Democratic presidential candidate in the key state, leading his closest rival, Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry, by 21 points. Hear Rich Killion of the Marlin Fitzwater Center for Communication.

Water in the West, Part Three: Legal Rights
NPR's Elizabeth Arnold reports on the complex system of water rights. Most of these claims date back more than a century. Individuals holding the oldest rights have the best chance of getting the most water.

Lawsuit Challenges Military Rule on Gays
A new lawsuit challenges the military's treatment of homosexuality, known as the "don't' ask, don't tell" policy. The suit was inspired by the U.S. Supreme Court's June ruling that a Texas anti-sodomy law violated the right to privacy. But some legal experts say privacy rights don't exist in the military. Hear NPR's Jackie Northam.

What they did to this man was despicable.

water in the west 

From the Willamette Week:

Our burg is expected to grow by 60,000 people over the next 20 years. This means the city will need to find a way to supply an additional 1.5 billion gallons of water each year out of an already stressed ecosystem. And if consumption doesn't level off soon, the Portland Water Bureau will have two choices: hack down 400 acres of old-growth forest to make a third Bull Run reservoir, or--make sure you're sitting down before you read this--use the Willamette River for drinking water. ("Top notes of dioxin and lead drift over your tongue, with just a subtle hint of Superfund.")

Here at WW, we've been doing our part to encourage wise water usage for the past few years by pointing the finger at others and publishing a register of Portland's biggest residential water squanderers. We call them Hydro Hogs.

The methodology behind the list is simple. First, we dispatch a public-records request to the Portland Water Bureau, asking for an inventory of their most hose-happy customers for the last fiscal year--in this case July 1, 2002, to June 30, 2003. Then, once the list arrives, several of us gather around the printout and make shrewd, insightful observations about the data.

Sample remark: "I wonder how much macaroni you could cook with that amount of water."

This year's crop hasn't disappointed, with the top user going through more than two million gallons--a Hydro Hog first. All told, the elite 15 went through 10.5 million gallons, which would be sufficient to supply 120 typical homes and is nearly enough to fill the south Mount Tabor reservoir. And by the way, that's enough liquid to make 13.1 million pounds of macaroni. But who's counting?

(2001: NO. 7)
Gallons used: 2,074,204 (23.1 times the typical household).
Estimated water and sewage bill: $14,552.94.

If poured onto an NBA basketball court, height to which this amount of water would rise: 59 feet.

Jordan Schnitzer, whose water consumption spiked from a mere 820,000 gallons in 2001, blames his astronomical usage over the past 12 months on a particularly tenacious underground leak. "It's really frustrating," the real-estate developer told WW. "I'll bet you 50 percent of the people in this city have leaks they don't know about." Not normally one to scoff at environmental quandaries--his nonprofit gave $5,000 to the salmon-friendly Ecotrust organization last year--Schnitzer recently plunked down $8,500 to have his plumbing system overhauled.

Southwest Hills
Gallons used: 940,984 (10.4 times the typical household).
Estimated water and sewage bill: $8,194.30.

Amount of time you could leave a shower going at full blast to go through this amount of water: 145 days, 5 hours.

As the guiding hand behind Capitol Consultants, Jeff Grayson defrauded investors of hundreds of millions of dollars. Now chronically ill, he seems to have pulled another disappearing act. WW couldn't contact Grayson, but his attorney, Greg Veralrud, told WW that the Graysons haven't lived in the home for well over a year. But how could a vacant house use more than enough water to fill an Olympic-size swimming pool? "I can assure you that whatever water usage is occurring there, there must be some malfunction," he said.

Gallons used: 751,740 (8.4 times the typical household).
Estimated water and sewage bill: $7,366.86.

Number of packages of Jell-O it would take to turn this amount of water into a giant gelatinous mass: 9,622,272 (it would make a 47-foot jiggling cube).

Anderson did not return WW's calls. When WW paid a visit to Anderson's Northeast Portland home, we were greeted only by yapping dogs and a bumper sticker that read, "Ja Makin' Me Tan!" Anderson's lawn couldn't possibly be more dead, though, leaving the source of his usage a mystery. The Water Bureau says no leaks have been reported.

chalabi watch 

Jay Nordlinger writes in the Nation Review:

One of the vexations and heartaches of the last year or so has been the media's hatred - that's the word for it: hatred - of Ahmad Chalabi, the Iraqi exile leader - former exile leader, I should say - who is working to give his country a future. This is obviously the man most prepared to provide leadership, yet the media pour disdain on him, in imitation of the State Department and the CIA. You see, Chalabi is known as the Defense Department's man - Rummy's man, Wolfowitz's man - and anything DoD related is anathema to many people: at State as much as on the op-ed page of the New York Times (is there a difference?). In truth, Chalabi is no one's man but his own. Those who know him, and have dealt with him, vouch for his independence and determination, no matter what else they may think of him.

Maybe it's the lingering odor of snake oil they find offensive. As one of our main sources for intelligence leading up to the war his credibility is about zip. What's not in doubt was his determination to goad the US into taking over Iraq so he could run it. I swear to god the US will regret having common cause with this man.

this is going the way i expected 

From the Willamette Week's Winners and Losers column:

Richard Rosenthal, director of the city's newish Independent Police Review office, had a rough time last week when a majority of his nine-member citizens' watchdog committee suddenly resigned. The aggrieved parties called Rosenthal shifty, anti-public and excessively pro-cop.

i don't normally like to play the Bush is a moron game 

Cuz he's not. Buutttt....

From the Willamette Week's "Rogue of the Week Column"

We tried so hard to stop ourselves from planting the Rogue cap on our commander in chief's harried head for his $2,000-a-plate fundraiser in Portland last week. Honest. When we heard tell of the estimated $100,000-plus police overtime bill that the city will be stuck with because of his visit, we took a deep breath.
But then we noticed the press release posted on the official White House website ( detailing the remarks he made at the University of Portland, which showed his roguish habit of messing up facts.

Let's start at the top. Literally. According to the release, President George W. Bush gave his speech at the "University of Oregon, Portland Oregon."

From the looks of it, Bush confused a small private Catholic school with the state's largest public institution of higher education, 110 miles to the south.

Next we move to the obligatory thanking of the luminaries. According to the press release, these included "my friend, Congressman Gregg Waldon," apparently referring to Greg Walden, who represents the most Republican district in the state.

He then expressed his appreciation for "Kevin Maddox, who is the Chairman of the Republican Party here in the state of Oregon," jumbling Kevin Mannix, a former anti-choice Democrat who changed parties and ran for governor of Oregon, with Lester Maddox, an anti-integration Democrat who (sort of) changed his views on race and became governor of Georgia.

problems the dean campaign is not having 

On Bush's visit to Portland last week. From the Willamette Week:

For this year's fundraiser, slated for the private University of Portland campus, police came up with an idea: forcing donors out of their cars and into chartered buses, minimizing contact with would-be monkeywrenchers.

When Portland cops floated this idea, however, White House operatives were aghast, says Commander Rosie Sizer, noting that Bush donors "were people of money and influence and wouldn't go for it." The Bushies were finally swayed after a meeting at the Lloyd Center DoubleTree Hotel two days before the event. There, Sizer and Lt. Marty Rowley delivered a not-so-subtle threat: If donors drove their cars and found themselves blocked or harassed, the Bureau would let the media know exactly whom to blame.

trouble with tribbles 

Every time I turn around theres a new frickin, AOL shortcut on my computer.

this is good news 

Confessions of a Dangerous Mind is coming back to theatres which good because I really wanted to see it and I didn't and now I can unless I've already missed it again or no one picks it up or I can't find the time or I forget or I get the times screwed up.

you have got to be kidding me 

This is offensive on so many levels.

this is driving me crazy 

The post for Sunday August 24, 2003 is unaccessible. If you hit the archive for this week 08/24/2003 - 08/30/2003 it only goes back to Monday August 25 2003. If you site search for a word from that post like "Norway" the description comes up but the like is to the // which doesn't get you there. If you hit "cached" from that search you get this: and there it is at the bottom of the page. But THEN if you click on the permanent link "#" it takes you to the home page despite the fact that you have in your browser. It's just so weird.

I noticed this because I wanted to start keeping a link to the most recent Sunday Supplement in the What You've Been Missing bin.

We'll see what the folks at Blogger have to say.

Thursday, August 28, 2003

chock one up for the motherfuckin' constitution 

"i don't know what type of counseling someone could undergo for this kind of behavior." - the judge 

Associated Press

UXBRIDGE, Mass. - A man accused of licking a woman's feet in a Bellingham grocery store was sentenced to 18 months in prison after pleading guilty to assault just before his trial was to begin.

Raymond Dublin, 36, formerly of Providence, R.I., pleaded guilty Tuesday at Uxbridge District Court to charges of assault and battery and lewd and lascivious behavior.

His attorney asked for a sentence of two years of counseling, but Judge Paul Losapio said counseling wasn't sufficient for Dublin, a two-time convicted sex offender who just completed a one-year sentence on similar foot-licking charges at a Woonsocket, R.I., supermarket.

"I don't know what type of counseling someone could undergo for this kind of behavior," he said.

Dublin was charged with sneaking up behind a woman at the Bellingham Save-A-Lot supermarket and licking her feet and toes in June 2002.

Prosecutor Paul Bolton said Dublin had three separate encounters with the woman, whom he described as "extremely annoyed."

i'm robert, i'm robert! i'm robert seigel!!...NO!!! I AM!!!!...I AM!!!...I AM!!!!!!!!...I AM!!!...I AM!!!!!!!!...I AM!!! 

On All Things Considered Yesterday:

Water in the West Part 2: Colorado River
NPR's Elizabeth Arnold reports on the hardest-working river in the West: the Colorado. Seven states draw from the river to water crops and quench the thirst of rapidly growing cities. As more users step up to tap the river, the conflicts increase between individual states, competing industries and nature itself.

What Lies Ahead for Iraq?
NPR's Robert Siegel talks with two Iraqi imigris, Adid Dawish, a political scientist at Miami University of Ohio, and Isam al Khafaji, a professor of nation formation at the University of Amsterdam, about the challenges that lie ahead for the people of Iraq.

South Africa Moves to Distribute AIDS Drugs
After years of opposition to AIDS treatment programs, South Africa's government recently announced plans to begin distributing anti-retroviral drugs as early as next month. The country's AIDS activists suspend demonstrations for the time being, but worry that, as it's done before, the government will break its promise. Hear NPR's Brenda Wilson.

Oklahoma Charges WorldCom with Fraud
Oklahoma's attorney general files the first criminal charges against WorldCom and its former chief executive officer, Bernard Ebbers, in connection with the company's $11 billion accounting scandal. Federal officials criticize the move, suggesting it could jeopardize their WorldCom investigation. Hear NPR's Jim Zarroli.

son of a bitch 

Listen to All Things Considered on the new EPA outrage.

From the Washington Post:

The Bush administration yesterday approved a major rollback of clean air enforcement rules for the nation's oldest and dirtiest power plants in a move hailed by industry leaders but bitterly criticized by environmentalists and some lawmakers.

For the first time, thousands of aging coal-fired power plants, oil refineries and factories will be able to upgrade their facilities -- and extend their operational lives -- without having to install costly anti-pollution equipment previously required under the Clean Air Act. Industry leaders have pressed the Clinton and Bush administrations for a major relaxation of the enforcement rules, known as New Source Review. Yesterday they scored one of their biggest regulatory victories in memory, one likely to save utilities and others hundreds of millions -- if not billions -- of dollars.

...critics said the new regulation was a political sop to President Bush's industry allies and that it would undermine one of the few effective tools available to government officials to crack down on industrial polluters. The New Source Review enforcement program generated dozens of state and federal lawsuits against 51 power plants during the Clinton administration and forced some to agree to install costly pollution-control equipment. Environmental and public health groups have argued that the administration could reduce health-harming sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide by millions of tons by 2020 -- and avert tens of thousands of cases of premature death and respiratory illness -- by strictly enforcing the existing law.

"The administration is once again doing the bidding of the coal and energy industries, at the expense of public health and the environment," said Angela Ledford, director of the environmental alliance Clear the Air. New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer said he will challenge the new rule in court. New York is one of 14 northeastern and midwestern states that have challenged a separate rule change that would ease clean air enforcement action in other industrial sectors.

and iran. iran so far away. i couldn't get away. - flock of seagulls 

From Security Focus:

A pact between the U.S. government and the electronic privacy company Anonymizer, Inc. is making the Internet a safer place for controversial websites and subversive opinions -- if you're Iranian.

This month Anonymizer began providing Iranians with free access to a Web proxy service designed to circumvent their government's online censorship efforts. In May, government ministers issued a blacklist of 15,000 forbidden "immoral" websites that ISPs in the country must block -- reportedly a mix of adult sites and political news and information outlets. An estimated two million Iranians have Internet access.

From the Guardian:

In a report due out today that is likely to trigger a showdown about sanctions, the UN's nuclear watchdog has demanded that Iran urgently explain evidence that it may have secretly enriched uranium.
The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) confirms in its report that it has detected highly enriched uranium in samples taken at a nuclear plant at Natanz, one of the sites which the US claims Iran has been using for a covert nuclear weapons programme.

Iran has told the IAEA that the samples came from nuclear equipment that was contaminated when it was bought a decade ago for civilian purposes. But it has not said who sold the equipment, only that it was bought through an intermediary company.

From Bloomberg:

Aug. 28 (Bloomberg) -- Iranian Foreign Minister Kamal Kharazi said his government will begin talks with United Nations' officials over allowing UN inspectors to make spot checks on Iran's nuclear facilities.

"Iran is going to expand its cooperation with the International Atomic Energy Agency,'' the UN's nuclear watchdog, Kharazi told Japan's trade minister Takeo Hiranuma in Tokyo. "We've decided to start negotiations toward signing the additional protocol,'' he said, according to a statement from Japan's Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry.

Really inspiring flash slide presentation from the Student Movement Coordination Committee for Democracy in Iran. It's from December 2002 but what the hell, it's been a slow news week for the Iranian democracy movement.

Wednesday, August 27, 2003


A U.S. soldier searches a man outside Kandahar, Afghanistan. Checkpoints are in place across Afghanistan to find drugs, weapons, and remnants of the Taliban and Al-Qaeda.
A U.S. soldier searches a man at a checkpoint outside Kandahar (Photo: Darren McCollester/AFP-Getty Images).

From the World Press Review:

Sonia Jedidi, Jeune Afrique l'intelligent (independent newsmagazine), Paris, France, June 15-21, 2003

Kabul, June 2003. Once again, the sky over the "pacified" capital of Afghanistan is the scene of a continuous waltz of aircraft, whose throbbing engines are enough to freeze the city's people with fear. "It's the Taliban supported by Al-Qaeda, and they're transporting their troops. They're going to attack Kabul anytime now," remarks the taxi driver. "No, they're not," rejoins my interpreter, in a soothing tone. "Those are American planes protecting the takeoff of Hamid Karzai's aircraft. The president is leaving on an official
visit abroad."

Nearly two years after the Taliban's fall, the city of Kabul, a display window for the victory of the "progressives" over the "obscurantists," has a hard time believing peace is at hand. The peace promised by the Americans hangs more than ever in a precarious balance.

From Newsday

MOSCOW -- Heroin from Afghanistan is sweeping through Russia with drug trafficking operations extending across the nation's eleven time zones, a senior government official said Tuesday. "A heroin attack from the south has become the most acute problem for us," said Alexander Mikhailov, deputy head of Russia's newly-established drug control committee.

From the Afghan News Network:

(Gulf Daily News) - Bombing raids by coalition aircraft killed another 20 Taliban in southern Afghanistan yesterday in a major operation to hunt hundreds of fugitive guerillas, an Afghan Defence Ministry official said. The official said jet fighters from the US-led coalition in Afghanistan flew at least 18 sorties over the Dai Chopan district of restive Zabul province, forcing Taliban there to flee their hideouts.

Afghan officials say up to 50 Taliban died on Monday on the first day of the aerial assault, which supported a ground force of 450 Afghan soldiers joined by small groups of US special forces. The US military has confirmed at least 14 enemy deaths in Monday's action.

From the Afghan News Network:

(NY Times) - KABUL - In the next several weeks, the Bush administration is expected to announce a major increase in aid to Afghanistan that would greatly expand the American role in this country, senior U.S. officials here and in Washington say. The administration appears set to embark on a vast American-led effort at top-to-bottom rebuilding and recasting of Afghanistan, these officials said in recent days. A senior American diplomat said that President George W. Bush, viewing the situation "like a businessman," had decided that investing more reconstruction money here now could lead to an earlier exit for American forces and save money in the long run. The United States currently spends $11 billion a year on its military forces in Afghanistan and $900 million on reconstruction aid.

But officials of aid groups here contend that the presidential election in the United States next year will be the motivating factor. They say the White House is eager to have Afghanistan appear to be a success story to voters.

Under the new initiative, American reconstruction aid is expected to double, to $1.8 billion a year, officials said. A dozen senior American government officials would work as advisers to Afghan government ministers. Up to 70 staff positions would be added to the embassy in Kabul, where virtually the entire senior staff is being replaced. The proposals are likely to be well received in Congress given the widespread criticism there that the aid effort so far has been inadequate, officials said.

From the Afghan News Network:

KANDAHAR, Afghanistan (Reuters) - Operating in growing numbers, the Taliban and their allies have succeeded in destabilising large parts of Afghanistan and creating conditions that could undermine the U.S. military and central government. Aid and reconstruction is suspended across swathes of territory in the centre, south and southeast, giving Afghans the impression the international community has abandoned them now the Taliban has been formally ousted.

"Once people are discouraged, that is the point of success for them, as no one will collaborate (with the authorities)," said Khalid Pashtun, director of foreign affairs in the south of the country.

Local power brokers are also behind lawlessness in southern and central provinces, further tarnishing the image of U.S. forces in the people's already sceptical eyes. The United States recruited warlords to help it topple the Taliban in 2001 and still works with some of them in pursuit of the hardline militia and the al Qaeda network it sheltered.

Now I'm jealous - Blogger Ben Hammersley is going to Afghanistan to blog from there:

August 20
Urban scene: I'm sat in the upstairs window of Cafe Italia, drinking espresso and watching a gathering of jazz musicians and transvestites outside the stage door of Ronnie Scott's. Online via Wi-Fi, (provided, it would seem, by Ian Wilder, local Tory councillor, which just goes to show something or other), and contemplating a map of the North West Frontier Province.

So, anyway. I figure it's about the time this nano-publishing journalism-of-the-future meme started to get off its collective bottom. So I'm off to Afghanistan for your education and pleasure. I fly to Islamabad tomorrow, and from there by train or bus to Peshawar. On Saturday I'll be crossing the Khyber Pass and making my way to Kabul. All being well, technology and men-with-guns willing, I'll be posting from every stop, and weblogging from Afghanistan for ten days or so. Movable Type meets Mujahedeen. It's going to be fun.


August 24
If you can read this, I’m in Kabul and all is well. Although, as I write, it is 5:39 am and I’m sat in the departure lounge of the shoddier terminal at Dubai International. A change of plans - caused by a change in visa regulations unreflected in my airline’s computer system - meant that I had to abandon plans to enter Afghanistan via Peshawar and the Khyber Pass, and instead fly into Kabul from Dubai, my layover en route to Islamabad. None of this was confirmed until five minutes ago, when my stand-by ticket was accepted by the sleepy Ariana Afghan Airlines staff, and my place on flight FG402 was set. I am rather relieved, and have been entertaining a South Korean tv crew by dancing a little jig through passport control...

...Dubai, for its sake, was surreal. Arriving in the middle of the night and laying myself at the mercy of the airport hotel booking desk, I ended up in a place boasting not only a Joe Pesci themed sports bar, but an eighties Britpop disco with associated kebab shop in the foyer. Add this to the signs outside the bars reading, “No local dress after 7pm”, and the special Friday offer of full fried English breakfast, roast beef carvery after 3pm, and five pints of Guinness for $10, all sat in front of a giant screen showing the England-South Africa test match, and you might start to get the idea. Expat-tastic. Mmmm Mmmm.

Latest post:

August 25
Frustration today. It’s always sensible with these things to arrange your exit as soon as you arrive. With Afghanistan totally off the international airline system, Ariana Airlines do not confirm return journeys outside of Kabul, or at least not from Dubai, and so one must go to the booking office here, battle the crowd and have your name put in the all-powerful exercise book that seems to govern outgoing flights.

I want to get onto Saturday’s return to Dubai, but local wisdom has this as either full, non-existant, not open for booking yet come back Wednesday, or a mixture of the three. I’m a bit tense about this - not getting that flight would mean waiting until the following Tuesday, and I’m not sure about my onward connections from Dubai and London being changable. I also now really need to be back home by Tuesday for housemoving funfunfun. There are alternatives, for sure, but they are all either dangerous or too expensive for me at the moment. I have been told it will be no problem, but, well, you know…

His an excellent writer and a damn good photographer. Great site. This goes right into the "blogs" on the margin. Thanks to Boing Boing for the heads up.

my newest movie 

I've made a film about running for governor of California. You can view the trailer here.
Disclaimer: I got major backing from Coca Cola

please allow me to be shrill for a moment 

Video of President Bush barking a series of homilies about the War on Terrorism to a group of American Legion vets whose benefits he cut and whom he would have duped into battle given half a chance, about Iraq where we have killed at between 6100 and 7800 civilians in combat (not to mention those dying from lack of electricity, water and functioning hospitals). A country that had nothing to do with 9/11 (Unless you count possible training camps in the areas that were under our control). Where are we going to put the mass grave for those people, I wonder?

Thanks, I'd hate to have someone like Bill O'Reilly or Ann Coulter label me as shrill, but I just had to get that off my chest.

this is going to take years and hundreds of billions of dollars and tens and hundreds of thousands of troops  

- republican senator chuck hagel of nebraska on iraq

On the NewsHour:
Senators Joe Biden (D) Maryland and Chuck Hagel (R) Nebraska offer a pointed and unified critique of the Administration's efforts in Iraq.

just be glad you didn't get caught with an ounce of pot 

From Reuters:

OKLAHOMA CITY (Reuters) - The Oklahoma attorney general on Wednesday charged MCI and its former chief executive with violating state securities laws by knowingly giving false information to investors. These are the first criminal charges filed against former CEO Bernard Ebbers. Other former executives, including its one time Chief Financial Officer Scott Sullivan, were previously charged. Sullivan also was named in the Oklahoma complaint. Bankrupt telephone company MCI, the legal name of which is WorldCom Inc., filed the largest bankruptcy in history last year amid an accounting scandal that has ballooned to $11 billion. The company said it does not believe the Oklahoma charges will affect its planned emergence from bankruptcy later this year. Attorney General W.A. Drew Edmondson said Oklahoma state pension funds lost $64 million in MCI's implosion, and he speculated that residents lost even more in their individual investments.

Reuters video is down today. Damn.

the case against stem cell research 

From the Guardian:

Three years ago, Mike May's sight was partially restored by a pioneering transplant using stem cells. Now, as neuroscientists release their analysis of the effects of the operation on the brain, we publish his remarkable account of seeing for the first time since he was three...

Incredibly compelling reading.

I forget who I need to thank for this link, sorry.

dean on cuba 

Dean has announced that he has shifted his position on the embargo on Cuba. He has moved from supporting rolling back the embargo and constructive engagement to maintaining for now in light of Castro's recent crackdown. I don't think this is pandering. I think it is exactly the trajectory that all thoughtful, reasonable people are on.

rudy in mexico 

The Voice has an article on fighting crime in Mexico City. Rudy Guiliani's consulting firm has just delivered 146 recommendations for reducing crime for a fee of $4.3m. The general thrust of the suggestions that the Mexico City police force will immediately begin to implement are of the "broken window" variety. The article outlines amy number of reasons why zero tolerance won't go to the heart of the matter. The extreme poverty that would force someone to steal a quart of milk for his crying sister, the endemic corruption of the police force, backed up courts and overcrowded prisons, structural legal hurdles: "The position of law enforcement is so weak that authorities won't be able to crack down on sales of drugs, stolen auto parts, or prostitution without new legal measures or constitutional amendments. But following Giuliani's example, they have already set their sights on the city's thousands of street children, its squeegee men, and the franeleros, who cordon off sections of street and then collect small fees for parking privileges. "

Unfortunately, the article slyly tries to taint Guiliani's proposal with this litany of problems without giving specifics of the plan. I'm sure effective Rudy bashing was possible with the facts at hand, but we never get them.

The article was of interest to me, because I had said that if I was George Bush then Rudy would have been my pick to run the occupation authority in Iraq. As a progressive, I knew I was setting myself up to eat my words when someone threw an article like this in my lap. I still say that if I had to pick a republican to lead in Iraq it would be Rudy. He has the most relevent experience and a proven track record.

i saw this article and didn't read it, thanks sgt stryker 

Sgt. Stryker posts on the trials of former El Salvadoran Generals by their victims under the Torture Victim Protection Act:

The most disturbing part is this section about a war criminal responsible for the torture and murders of countless people, Vides Casanova:

Vides Casanova eagerly hauls out his three-inch-thick scrapbooks, which chronicle his military career. They are filled with photographs of three U.S. presidents: Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush, and carefully preserved invitations to presidential luncheons and rides aboard Air Force Two and Marine One. Other photos show the general standing shoulder to shoulder with U.S. military officers; Colin Powell hovers in the background of a black-and-white snapshot of a U.S. military classroom.
Vides Casanova flips through the scrapbooks in the living room of his Palm Coast, Fla., home, where his life now revolves around his children and grandchildren. Look at this, the general urges when he comes across commendations from members of Congress and officers from the Southern Military Command. One lauds him as a "shield of democracy." In a letter accompanying one of two U.S. Legion of Merit awards, Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger congratulates Vides Casanova for "broad institutional reform of the Salvadoran Armed forces" and "high professional and ethical standards."

That is exerpted from this Washington Post article.

the ungreening of america 

Mother Jones has a special issue on Bush's environmental record.

collateral damage 

From the BBC:

The Australian parliamentary inquiry is examining the intelligence used by Prime Minister John Howard to justify sending more than 2,000 Australian troops to Iraq.

...Andrew Wilkie, who resigned in March in protest at the war in Iraq, told the inquiry that the government had distorted intelligence information to suit its political purposes. "Sometimes the exaggeration was so great, it was clear dishonesty," he told the inquiry. "The government lied every time. It skewed, misrepresented, used selectively and fabricated the Iraq story," he said

The article goes on to explain:

The BBC's Phil Mercer in Sydney says Mr Howard is relatively unfazed by the inquiry. Despite a poll in July which suggested that 36% of Australians believe the government knowingly misled them on Iraq, he has very strong public backing and unanimous support from his conservative coalition.

Nevertheless, this still raises the spector that I've felt since before we went war: We don't know that the heads of state from countries that joined the "Coalition of the Willing" against popular opinion at home aren't going to lose reelection to anti American populists. In Australia it could take the form of parlimentary elections even if Mr. Howard is not vulnerable.

Thanks to Gyrus for the link.

the gander can go fuck off 

This month's World Press Review has a round up of opinion pieces from around the world on the Bush Administration's campaign to get countries to sign an accord exempting US citizens from the International Criminal Court. We're setting great example in the War on Terror.

Tuesday, August 26, 2003

the right to be wrong 

Lester Bangs, circa 1978. A second anthology of his work,
Mainlines, Blood Feasts, and Bad Taste,
edited by John Morthland, is just out from Anchor.

(photo: Mike Mayhan)

In the Village Voice, Richard Hell writes:

It's gotten to where just the name does it: Lester Bangs. It makes me happy. It's like raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens. Of course, even apart from the guy it signified, its perfection of pure form is stunning, but what it evokes as the signifier of the person is even better. I think of his innocence and goodwill first, and his compulsion to talk about whatever was going on and to figure out what mattered (starting from music) and it makes me sorry I can't call him up. It's strange. I didn't even like him very much when he was alive. Just five or six years ago when his biographer was asking for stories about him I told him that when I knew Lester I didn't take him very seriously or pay very much attention to him. That though doubtless my distaste was partly that of the junkie for the lush, I mostly thought he was a buffoon. Lester was this big, swaying, cross-eyed, reeking drooler, smiling and smiling through his crummy stained mustache, trying to corner me with incessant babble somewhere in the dark at CBGB's, 1976 or so. He was sweet like a big clumsy puppy, but he was always drunk and the sincerity level was pretty near intolerable.

Now I miss him.

A new book of Bangs writings, Mainlines, Bloodfeast and Bad Tastes has recently been released. Read the rest of Hell's epistle here.

colombia watch 

From the Nation:

Three years ago this summer, President Clinton signed a $1.3 billion spending bill for "Plan Colombia," aimed at curbing violence in Colombia and drug abuse in the United States.

...This year, House Democrats have increasingly argued that there is no quick fix for the complex challenges facing Colombia but that military aid and aerial fumigation have made things worse. The facts are on their side. Today, the guerrillas and paramilitaries continue to participate in the drug trade and kill, kidnap and torture civilians, particularly in the Putumayo and Arauca regions targeted by US policy. Since last summer, an average of nineteen people have been killed every day for political reasons, compared with an average of fifteen each day during the year before Plan Colombia. The United Nations and State Department both report that Colombian security forces are still working with the paramilitaries and directly committing abuses of their own. Last year, the FARC killed nine local mayors and forced hundreds to resign, while the paramilitaries were responsible for most of the 184 assasinations of trade unionists--by far the highest rate in the world. The number of internal refugees increased sharply, with some estimates showing nearly a million people fleeing their homes during the three years of Plan Colombia.

The Justice Department reported in January that cocaine continued to be "widely available" in the United States. Efforts to combat drugs at the source have only managed to shift coca to new regions and back to old ones, as the law of supply and demand has kept total coca cultivation in the Andean region at around 200,000 hectares (540,000 acres) for fifteen years.

These and other concerns have made Colombia policy one of the most controversial aspects of the foreign aid bill in the House, where most of the Democrats, led by Congressman Jim McGovern, voted against military aid twice this year. Meanwhile, across the Capitol, no senators are publicly leading the charge against this policy the way the courageous Paul Wellstone did. It appears that this year, just as in 2002, there will be no Senate floor debate or vote on Colombia.

Yet pressure to respond to critics is growing. Colombian President Alvaro Uribe's government has answered with recent reports of decreased violence and increased guerrilla desertions and the prediction that within twelve to eighteen months the guerrillas will be so battered they'll come to the negotiating table begging for a truce. The Bush team has begun to articulate an exit strategy: sustained high-level US involvement until September 2005, followed by the Colombianization of operations.

... Bush and Uribe's increasingly hard-line approach is both inhumane and ineffective. Uribe's proposal to lift limits on the powers of the military, the desperation fomented among farmers whose legal and illegal crops are destroyed by herbicides, accusations that NGOs are guerrilla fronts...

...Responding to Congressional concerns, defenders of the policy are employing language with a familiar ring to it. At a Senate hearing on Colombia in June, Southern Command's General James Hill described drugs as a "weapon of mass destruction" and warned that "corruption and instability create safe havens for not only narcoterrorists but also for other international terrorist organizations such as Hizballah, Hamas and Islamiyya al Gammat, which have support cells throughout Latin America."

True, the State Department does report that some of these groups are raising money in the tri-border area of Brazil, Argentina and Paraguay... If the "war on terrorism" has moved to Latin America, the next step should be the suspension of aid to the Colombian armed forces because of their ongoing ties to paramilitaries listed as terrorists by the US government.

Only by steering this runaway policy toward greater support for Colombia's judicial system and other civilian institutions, the rule of law, and social and economic development--along with expanded drug treatment programs at home--can US policy-makers begin to create the conditions for security and democracy in Colombia.

Compare this with coverage from the Guardian and the Economist.

a white Republican guy who doesn't get it 

Recently there have been heartening signs of Bush's growing electoral vulnerability.

Last week he was in Portland for a fundraiser and a chance to stump for his Healthy Forests Initiative. The fundraiser drew 500 donors and reportedly "small groups of Bush supports" amid 3500 demonstators. Not suprising in a town his father dubbed "Little Beruit". What is more interesting is that the "Healthy Forest" initiative is his lead with swing voters in this crucial swing state where he lost by a scant 7000 votes. The plan to allow for more logging to fund thinning of forests to prevent forest fires. That is not going to have a lot ofcredibility with swing voters who tend to be greener (and more fiscally conservative) than this president. He is outflanked here. Senator Ron Wyden has introduced a bill that could pass Congress that pays for thinning without sneaking logging in throught backdoor. If that's the best Bush has for suburban Oregonians then he's got a problem.

The most striking thing I've read is in this mornings NY Times:

WASHINGTON, Aug. 25 — President Bush is running for re-election as a "compassionate conservative" who has sought to bring a new Republican approach to poverty and other social ills...But supporters, some administration officials among them, acknowledge that Mr. Bush's "compassionate conservative" agenda has fallen so far short of its ambitious goals, in a number of cases undercut by pressure from his conservative backers, that they fear he will be politically vulnerable on the issue in 2004.

At the same time, some religious supporters of Mr. Bush say they feel betrayed by promises he made as a candidate and now, they maintain, has broken as president. "After three years, he's failed the test," said one prominent early supporter, the Rev. Jim Wallis, leader of Call to Renewal, a network of churches that fights poverty. Mr. Wallis said Mr. Bush had told him as president-elect that "I don't understand how poor people think," and appealed to him for help by calling himself "a white Republican guy who doesn't get it, but I'd like to." Now, Mr. Wallis said, "his policy has not come even close to matching his words."

...At issue is Mr. Bush's willingness to demand financing from Congress on his signature "compassionate conservative" issues, like education reform and AIDS, with the same energy he has spent to fight for tax cuts and the Iraq war. Critics say the pattern has been consistent: The president, in eloquent speeches that make headlines, calls for millions or even billions of dollars for new initiatives, then fails to follow through and push hard for the programs on Capitol Hill.


It's not clear whether the "White House made the EPA lie about Ground Zero" story is picking up much traction. Some Dems are going to have to run with calls for investigations to keep it newscycling. As I said last week, it should at least make for some sticky moments for Bush in the debates.


WASHINGTON, Aug. 26 — The Congressional Budget Office Tuesday forecast a federal budget deficit of $480 billion in 2004, a record shortfall that many in Congress say could go even higher, posing problems for President Bush as he seeks re-election.

... But both Democratic and Republican budget analysts agree the actual 2004 deficit could well come in far higher than the agency’s “baseline” estimate — likely topping $500 billion once likely new Iraq war spending requests are included.

From the Guardian:

For the first time, more Americans say they would oppose President George Bush's re-election in 2004 than support a second term, according to a poll published yesterday that showed mounting pessimism over the US military presence in Iraq.
As attacks on coalition forces continue to inflict casualties, a Newsweek poll found that the human and economic costs of occupation were eroding the president's support at an accelerating rate.

Sixty-nine per cent of those asked were concerned that the US would be bogged down for many years in Iraq with little to show for it in improved security for Americans; 49% said they were very concerned. At the same time Mr Bush's approval rating dropped to 53%, down 18% since April, and his lowest rating since before the September 11 attacks turned him from the victor of a disputed election presiding over a worsening economy into a wartime leader. But the most jarring statistic for the White House looked forward to the 2004 election. Some 49% of Americans questioned in yesterday's poll said they did not want him re-elected, against only 44% prepared to give him a second term. The corresponding figures in April were 52% backing re-election with 38% opposed.

In April, 74% of the country supported his handling of the situation in Iraq. Yesterday that figure was 54%. Americans are split between those who believe the administration's line that the invasion has undermined terrorist groups such as al-Qaida (45%) and those who think the opposite - that it has inspired a new generation of Islamist radicals to take up arms against America and its allies.

Despite the increasing doubts over how US troops can be extricated, a significant majority of Americans, 61%, still believe the invasion of Iraq was justified, and a slightly smaller majority would support the maintenance of a significant occupation force for up to two years.

Thanks to Eric Alterman for the Guardian link. (what's up with that Hugo Young piece you linked to buddy? It was mostly about British politics. It didn't really say anything incisive about Bush's vulnerability except that if Gen. Wesley Clark gets in then all bets are off. True enough, but with Dean's current momentum, Clark is likely to sign on as running mate.)

now I feel like I'm irritating people because I`ve exceeded predictions that I only had a few months 

Diagnosed with inoperable lung cancer, Warren Zevon has soldiered on to record one last album, "The Wind". Letterman recently hosted an entire show dedicated to Zevon. When asked about it he said,"It's like playing your own wake. “What does dying make you to think about?” Letterman asked. Zevon replied, “How good a ham sandwich tastes,”

VH1 has produced a documentary on the making of the great singer/songwriter's final album.

Exerpts from the VH1 interview:

VH1: How have you adjusted to your illness?

WZ: I decided to start recording almost immediately, because it's the only thing I know how to do. It's so engrossing and engaging that it takes your mind off whatever minor business your life is going through.

VH1: Does time become a pressure for you?

WZ: I take a nap and wake up and look around and make sure I'm still here. So far every nap I've woken up from I've still been here. I don't know if pressure is exactly the word, but I'm constantly aware of it.

VH1: What were your feelings going into the David Letterman show?

WZ: I don't think I'm in denial about death, but I was in denial about doing 45 minutes of live network television. [Laughs.] But it meant a lot to me. Everybody who does this should think of themselves as an entertainer. I was reading a biography of Sammy Davis, Jr., and it said that even when he was diagnosed with cancer, he [still] went out there and danced "Mr. Bojangles." I thought, "Okay, I'm gonna do it." It's not the easiest thing in the world to say goodbye, so it was a little difficult. But Dave's the best friend my music ever had. After the show I gave him the electric guitar we call the "Gray Visitation," the one I've always played on the show. He's a real good guy.

VH1: Your reunion with Hunter S. Thompson felt like a very different occasion.

WZ: That's only because you haven't seen Hunter before. Every occasion with Hunter's different. Hunter was a great influence on the way I wrote songs, but Hunter is Hunter. He's a great American writer. When he chooses to be he's also a great Southern gentleman. If you want to pursue the subject, I suggest that we book two first class tickets to Aspen on VH1's budget and see what Hunter has to say about it. Why not? I'll take an oxygen tank.

VH1: Three tickets, then.

WZ: The first exchange we ever had was about 10 years ago, when my daughter and I arrived in Aspen. I said, "Dr. Thompson, I've got the most terrible headache you can ever imagine. I don't know what to do at this altitude." He said, "Acid."

VH1: Have you reconsidered your spirituality?

WZ: No. I've always been a Christian. People may find that bizarre, but I've always been a Graham Greene guy, haven't I? It's alluded to in many albums.

VH1: Do you feel your body changing?

WZ: It's gradually getting worse, naturally. There's certain medication that masks the symptoms. But I have no complaints. I expected it to be worse. I asked a friend of mine who's a cancer survivor if she thought I had a good chance of dying with my boots on, and she said yeah. So that's a hope. I'd have preferred it to be in Hunter's back yard, but we'll see.

Listen to the albumThe Wind.

VIDEO : Numb as a Statue

the quiet war over open source 

From the Washington Post:

...On another front, "open-source" software, which relies on collaboration and sharing of computer code rather than traditional for-profit development and distribution of programs, is capturing the attention of cash-strapped governments and businesses as a less-expensive alternative to commercial products. Open-source software has been embraced by some companies that are building businesses around it. But it is the bane of others, including the industry's most powerful player, Microsoft Corp. The world's largest software maker is lobbying furiously in state, national and international capitals against laws that would promote the consideration or use of open-source software.

So alarmed agents of Microsoft sprang into high gear in June after a surprising quote appeared in Nature magazine from an official of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO). The official said that the Switzerland-based group of about 180 nations, which promotes intellectual-property rights and standards around the globe, was intrigued by the growth of the open-source movement and welcomed the idea of a meeting devoted to open-source's place in the intellectual-property landscape.

The proposal for the meeting had come in a letter from nearly 60 technologists, economists and academics from around the world, and was organized by James Love, who runs the Ralph Nader-affiliated Consumer Project on Technology. Love and others argue that in some areas, such as pharmaceuticals or software that powers critical infrastructure or educational tools, developing nations in particular would benefit from less restrictive or alternative copyright, patent or trademark systems.

In short order, lobbyists from Microsoft-funded trade groups were pushing officials at the State Department and the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to squelch the meeting. One lobbyist, Emery Simon with the Business Software Alliance, said his group objected to the suggestion in the proposal that overly broad or restrictive intellectual-property rights might in some cases stunt technological innovation and economic growth.

...The U.S. government, which wields considerable clout in WIPO, might not have needed prodding from Microsoft to demand that the idea of an open-source meeting be quashed.

Lois Boland, director of international relations for the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, said that open-source software runs counter to the mission of WIPO, which is to promote intellectual-property rights. "To hold a meeting which has as its purpose to disclaim or waive such rights seems to us to be contrary to the goals of WIPO," she said. She added that the WIPO official who embraced the meeting had done so without proper consultation with the member states, and that WIPO's budget already is strained and cannot accommodate another meeting next year. Boland said that if groups such as Love's want an international forum for discussion of open-source, they need to find another organization to host it.

The WIPO official, Francis Gurry, did not return numerous calls for comment, but the organization has said it no longer has plans for an open-source gathering.

Thanks for the link to the Lessig Blog via Boing Boing.

Monday, August 25, 2003

from the where can i buy one of those things dept. 

I don't like Coke and I don't like Pepsi but I like this ad. It's a shame that so much advertising is dedicated to selling things.

I like this one too.

colombia watch 

From the Guardian:

Washington is to resume its support for drug interception flights over Colombia, which were suspended after a US missionary and her baby died in Peru in 2001, the defence secretary, Donald Rumsfeld, said yesterday. He told reporters with him on a one-day visit to Colombia that President Bush would announce the decision last night, to help the fight against drugs in the world's biggest cocaine-producing country. The US and Colombia have been negotiating for months on an agreement on safety procedures that would allow the resumption of the Airbridge Denial programme, suspended after the accidental shooting down of an aircraft in Peru. Under the programme, US intelligence helped Colombian planes to track and sometimes force down aircraft suspected of flying cocaine or heroin. Colombian and Peruvian officials wanted them to resumed last year.

The decision will be welcomed by the Colombian president, Alvaro Uribe, whose military offensive against Marxist rebels and drug smugglers has made him one of Washington's favourite Latin American leaders. Mr Uribe had done an excellent job, said Mr Rumsfeld, who was due to meet the president and his defence minister, Marta Lucia Ramirez. The US has given Columbia more than $2bn in mainly military aid in recent years. The spraying programme it backs reduced the area of coca crops by a record 30% last year.

Mr Uribe, long a target of the rebels, had a narrow escape on Sunday when shots were fired at his helicopter.

From the Economist:

Since 2000 under an aid programme known as "Plan Colombia", the United States has pumped $2.4 billion in military and economic aid, aimed at fighting drugs and the rebel armies that feed upon them. Under Alvaro Uribe, a stern Liberal who took office as Colombia's president a year ago, this aid has started to show results.

...George Bush has asked Congress for $688m more for Columbia in fiscal year 2003-04. This week, he announced the resumption of a policy under which American spy planes will help Colombia spot and shoot down drug planes. (The policy was suspended in 2001 after an American missionary and her baby were killed when their plane was downed in Peru.)

...The bulk of American money has gone on training and equipping with 72 helicopters (14 Blackhawks and 58 Hueys) a new new anti-drugs brigade of the Colombian army. Just keeping this going costs $150m a year; another $80m goes on deploying 21 crop dusting aircraft to dump weedkiller on drug crops. The helicopters are flown by American pilots hired by the State Department. In parallel, Colombia has made its own efforts to strengthen its army and police.

Mr. Uribe is now claiming some successes: ...coca cultivation was cut by 30%...Cultivation of opium poppies is also down...Mr. Uribe points to a fall in kidnappings, murders and guerilla sabotage.

...Many security analysts believe that it will take several years of effort for Colombia's government to impose its authority on rebel held areas.

...Plan Colombia is due to end in 2005, after which American officials expect aid to decline. One thing standing in the way of further aid is an impasse over the International Criminal Court, which Columbia supports and the United States opposes. In July Mr. Bush froze military aid to Columbia, demanding that Mr. Uribe's government sign an "Article 98 agreement" aimed at exempting American citizens in Colombia from the Court's jurisdiction. This Colombia refuses to do.

Colomian officials, who are routinely criticised by American for failing to uphold human rights, are puzzled by the Bush administration's stance. They point out that a bilateral agreement of 1962 gives legal immunity to American military and civilian advisers in Columbia. So far only $5m in military aid has been frozen by the United States. According to a State Department source, Colombia could forfeit up to $140m next year... least $230m will be needed beyond 2005 to keep the drug war kicking over...The Pentagon has spent $20m on training pilots and ground staff for the Hueys. But the first batch of pilots will not complete basic training until December 2004.

All this suggests that even after Plan Colombia ends in 2005, Americans are unlikely to cut and run, especially while Mr. Uribe and Mr. Bush remain in office. "Success tends to breed success. No artificial deadline will govern here," says an aide to a senior Republican in Congrass. Adam Isaacson of the Centre for International Policy, a Washington group which opposes military aid to Colombia, says that with its costly wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, America cannot afford to spend $750m a year with no end in sight. "Yet there's still going to be this inexorable pull."

From Reuters:

BOGOTA, Colombia (Reuters) - At least six people were killed, including a six-year-old boy, and 28 more wounded on Sunday when two bombs ripped through a crowded river boat in central Colombia, the army said. Clashes erupted between anti-government rebels and troops who arrived to rescue the injured. Authorities blamed the attack on rebels of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, a Marxist peasant army which has been fighting the government for four decades.

The first explosion went off as a woman carrying a box disembarked from a boat that had docked with 56 people in the village of Puerto Rico, 125 miles southeast of Bogota. The second explosion detonated inside the boat, which was packed with civilian passengers, an army spokesman said. Officials were investigating whether the woman was a guerrilla or if she had been tricked by rebels into carrying the box. Puerto Rico, in the eastern savannas of Meta province, houses a counter-rebel battalion.

...In separate violence, suspected leftist rebels launched a fresh attack on Colombia's second-largest oil pipeline in northeastern Arauca province, detonating an explosive near a town where U.S. Special Forces are training local troops. The bomb shut down pumping of the 110,000-barrel-per-day Cano Limon, which serves an oilfield operated by U.S. Occidental Petroleum Corp, the army said.

About 70 Green Berets are stationed in two military bases in oil-rich Arauca to train a Colombian brigade to defend the Cano Limon pipeline, a favorite target of the guerrillas, which are branded a "terrorist" organization by Washington.

if you make me the nominee of this party, i'll make you proud to be a democrat again 

From USA Today

With state and national polls showing Dean on the rise, the self-styled "people-powered" outsider is spending like a front-runner. This week, he inaugurated his "Grassroots Express," a charter plane decorated with tufts of grass taped between the seats, on a four-day, coast-to-coast tour complete with minute-by-minute schedules and a traveling press entourage. His campaign, meanwhile, has been on a hiring binge. He has paid staff in 13 states, more states than any other Democratic campaign. And Dean is expanding his TV campaign to more states that have early primaries or caucuses.

All this before Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry and North Carolina Sen. John Edwards have even officially announced their candidacies.

From the Seatle Post Intelligencer:

Seattle, one of America's most liberal cities, gave Howard Dean, the Democratic Party's most outspokenly liberal major candidate for president, the biggest, loudest reception of his surging campaign last night.

As thousands packed the area around Westlake Park the former Vermont governor rewarded them with his red-meat stump speech, vowing to "send this president back to Crawford, Texas," for good, and promising, "If you make me the nominee of this party, I'll make you proud to be a Democrat again."

...Seattle police estimated it at 8,000.

I've never seen a turnout this huge this early" in a presidential campaign, echoed state Democratic Party Chairman Paul Berendt, an acknowledged Dean supporter, after the rally. "It just shows the energy and excitement Dean has created."

Whatever the number, it was far bigger than the second-largest turnout of the Dean campaign, 4,000 Saturday in Falls Church, Va., the first stop in his 80-hour, 10-city "Sleepless Summer Tour." Seattle was the fifth stop.

4000 in Falls Church, VA? Now that's impressive.

From the Oregonian:

Five months before the first votes will be cast in the 2004 presidential race, Howard Dean demonstrated his rising appeal among Democrats Sunday when he attracted as many as 3,000 people to a high-energy Portland rally. In a period when most candidates are concentrating on raising money and speaking to small groups in early primary states, Dean drew the kind of crowd that impressed local political leaders from both parties as he continued on a rock-concert style, four-day tour of 10 cities.

making the united nations function 

From the World Press Review:

Sergio Vieira de Mello, a native of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, was the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights and the top U.N. envoy in Iraq. He and 22 others died on Aug. 19, when a bomb exploded outside the United Nation’s headquarters in Baghdad. He published this commentary in O Estado de São Paulo on June 1, the day before he flew to Iraq. The newspaper published the piece again on Aug. 20.

The military supremacy of the United States and Great Britain should not convince us that international stability can only be secured by force. If we want a world system based on something other than the rule of the mighty, then member states will have to turn to the institution they created to avoid such world in the first place: the United Nations. This institution is confronting a serious crisis. We must find ways to resolve it. If not, we will face grave consequences.

...Debates in the Security Council need to go beyond the narrow view that sees questions of security as limited to the old worries about weapons of mass destruction (WMDs). Members may have been unable—or unwilling—to perceive that their mandate is bigger than checking the spread of WMDs. They were unable or unwilling to realize that other issues are of obvious interest to the council members, such as the long-standing absence of democracy in Iraq, or the frequent terror campaigns launched by the former government against its political enemies, real or imagined.

Seen in this light, the central question becomes how to deal with the international security risks inherent in a country that was run by a regime that notoriously violated the human rights of its citizens and attacked its neighbors for many years? At the end of the day, the principal participants in the Iraq debate gave the impression that they said one thing, but had something entirely different in mind.

Perhaps Security Council members thought that it was more logical to leave human-rights issues to the Commission on Human Rights.

In the last session of the commission, though, many of the 53 states said they thought Iraq was the Security Council’s responsibility, that the council was already working to correct the problem, and that the matter wasn’t within the commission’s jurisdiction.

...What do these failures have in common? Both are examples of emergency situations, followed by horrific bloodshed. Neither crisis fit into the Security Council or the Commission on Human Rights’ concept of what it was meant to do. Neither crisis was seen as posing a threat to world security.

...A sign of the political weakness of our time, such episodes show the incapacity of member states to understand that flagrant and systematic violations of human rights represent a grave threat to the world and that there is a crying need to reach consensus about exactly how to respond to this type of risk.

...We must confess to this weakness before the member states of the United Nations, especially to those who have permanent seats on the Security Council: China, the United States, France, the United Kingdom, and Russia. We must suggest that they take a long, hard look at their own failures in this regard and try to overcome them, and that they do so bearing their responsibilities to the Security Council and to the United Nations more in mind than their own rivalries. To criticize the United Nations for not having managed to reach a consensus about Iraq is missing the real extent of the problem. When the member states ignore the rules of the game, or dismantle the collective political architecture of the Security Council, it is unjust to blame the United Nations or its secretary general, whose good work was not solicited as it should have been.

breaking news 

From the NY Times:

BOMBAY, Aug. 25 — Two powerful bombs concealed in parked taxis in the heart of Bombay, India's commercial capital, killed 45 people today and wounded at least 135.

The blasts occurred minutes apart, the first in a packed shopping district, the second next to the city's favorite gathering place, the Gateway of India, a colonial relic whose huge arch has become an indelible image of this metropolis. Officials have blamed the Students Islamic Movement of India for the attacks, saying the group operated in conjunction with the Pakistan-based Islamic militant group Lashkar-e-Taiba. Both groups are banned in India. The Bombay police commissioner, R. S. Sharma, said tonight that law enforcement authorities suspected that so-called jihadi groups were also responsible for the blasts, although he offered no specific evidence for that assertion.




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