Friday, April 4, 2008
News keeps getting worse for the country, and Americans nationwide are being to see the fissures in the way things have been run for the past seven years.
In a New York Times/CBS News poll conducted between March 28 and
The New York Times and CBS News conduct this poll with the same exact questions every month or so. The last time so many people disapproved of the direction of the nation was back in the early 1990s.
Guess who was president then? No really, take a wild guess.
Now, you should always be wary of polls. I mean, what does the average American know? They act on emotion, can be easily swayed by long-winded, impassioned speeches.
Seriously, what is wrong with this country? The liberals would have you think everything is crumbling! Run and hide. And the poll reflects that.
Get this, the most important problem facing the country in this poll is the economy. Give me a break. The economy is fine, even if 66 percent polled think we’re in a recession.
A recession is such a nasty word anyway. Instead, let’s use phrases like, a resting economy, or out-to-lunch economy.
This is so silly, I mean the economy. It’s not like 80,000 people lost their jobs in March or anything, or that the national unemployment rate rose to 5.1 percent – the third month in a row that those numbers are on the rise.
If that doesn’t sell you that this poll is a liberal-created façade, look at this number – 28 percent approve of President George W. Bush’s job.
Come on people! He invaded
Not that the war or national security cost the country that much. I mean numbers are numbers, and $600 billion is just another number.
Seriously though, to see this kind of concern before the economy really hits the fan should cause concern. This is simply the consequence of cutting taxes, waging wars across the world and subsidizing industries that make tons of money in the first place. Perhaps we should re-evaluate those policies instead of the ingenious “stimulus” package that treats symptoms and not the disease.
Thursday, April 3, 2008
Most tales of apocalypse speak of grand nuclear wars, far-reaching global epidemics and the good old 2012 pole flipping, freeze-the-whole-world-over worry. Well, add one more doomsday scenario to that list: black holes.
Black holes sucking up the Earth seems far-fetched to say the least, but people in the scientific community take the possibility so seriously that two physicists took action.
That's what I'm talking about, get down on that gravity-sucking space anomaly! There's sure as hell nothing else of importance going on.
The issue revolves around a particle accelerator, a device used to smash atoms, outside Geneva due for completion this summer.
Physicists plan to use the $8 billion accelerator, called the Large Hadron Collider to “recreate energies and conditions last seen a trillionth of a second after the Big Bang.”
The project alarmed two physicists who claim that the European Center for Nuclear Research (CERN) downplayed the risk of this accelerator creating a tiny black hole that could destroy the Earth, and maybe even the universe.
On March 21, physicists Walter Wagner and Luis Sancho filed a lawsuit in Honolulu to seek a temporary restraining order to stop CERN from proceeding with the project until it creates a safety and environmental assessment report.
No this is not a dream or sci-fi movie. The concern over accelerators creating black holes is nothing new in the physics world.
"The possibility that a black hole eats up the Earth is too serious a threat to leave it as a matter of argument among crackpots," said CERN theorist Michelangelo Mangano.
Legal obstacles aside with an American lawsuit against a European organization, there have been reports of these colliders producing what could be called black holes.
A New York-based particle accelerator produced a fireball whose core had “a striking similarity to a black hole.”
Other reports showed that, theoretically, a particle accelerator could be used to create a tiny black hole.
“An astronomical black hole forms when enough matter is squashed into a small enough space to reach a critical density. According to theory, the same critical density could be reached if two particles slam violently together, creating a tiny black hole.”
What the heck would us humans do with a black hole anyway? I guess we could research it. Harness it as an energy source. Go for a ride down the gravity hole. Back to this lawsuit.
Despite all of the war and tragedy in the world, these two physicists chose to fight the black hole battle. It will be interesting to see where the lawsuit goes, and whether this particle accelerator goes online.
And you can't blast someone for doing what they love, no matter how crazy it is. Let this be an inspiration to all those peoples out there who are wary of taking action. If you're that passionate about a cause, go for it, especially before a black hole eats you up.
Photo illustration by yours truly.
Wednesday, January 23, 2008
It may be hard to believe, but more evidence points to President Bush and his crew lying about why the U.S. should go to war with Iraq. No seriously. The opposite of truth. You know, when you tell people something so they go along with you, even if what you want to do is illegal and not in those people's interests. Yeah that's it.
The blow this time came from a non-profit investigative journalism group called The Center for Public Integrity. The group decided to create a huge database packed with all the statements Bush and his crew told the media, and Americans, that have since been proven false.
The study found at least 935 false statements made between Sept. 11, 2001 and Sept. 2003. That's about 380,000 words. All this in at least 532 occasions, ranging from speeches, briefings, etc.). Bush alone made 232 false statements about Iraq having weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and 28 false statements about links between al Qaeda and Iraq. Others in the Bush crew added this, one of the country's largest attempts by government to deceive the public into war.
This group should get a round of drinks for digging through hundreds of interviews, speeches, video, and what-have-you to compile this one-stop shop of on-the-record lies by Bush, by Cheney, by Rice, Powell, Wolfowitz, Fleischer and McClellan. Seriously, you ever try to listen to Bush speak?
To cover all the lies in detail would take more space than had here at the moment. But, the two biggest lies worth looking into is the WMD claim and the al Qaeda/Iraq connection. So why would an American president lie to the public. That can't happen! This is a democracy...
Well, even in democracies, people lie. And who benefits? Ask oil companies like Exxon-Mobil that broke the world record for profits earned in 2005 - $39.5 billion! Just four-years earlier, when oil was $20 a gallon (those were the days), oil companies were struggling to make profits. With oil floating around $100/gallon, wonder who benefits.
Not just Big Oil. Every bullet is pressed from the defense industry. Every stealth bomber is crafted from the aircraft industry. Every military base needs a logistics company like Kellogg, Brown and Root. This is not a conspiracy. This is capitalism. And when you follow the money trail, people like Bush, Cheney and Rice are connected with these industries.
So you're the president of the U.S. and you want to invade an oil-rich country under U.N. sanctions for more than 10 years. Many of your advisers are former Big Oil execs. That oil-rich country is negotiating oil contracts with other countries like China and Russia. Attacking that oil-rich country would make billions for your friends, and possibly your crew. That country is not a threat. What do you tell the public...you tell them this.
Sunday, January 6, 2008
Sometimes getting an award is a good thing. Something to celebrate. A trophy to display to your friends. Bragging rights. Well, some awards should be swept under the carpet, never to be found. One such award was given to the U.S. at the end of 2007, and it isn't something to brag about.
The U.S. joined the ranks of such stars as Russia, the United Kingdom and China when it comes to privacy rights. The U.S. received the worst rank for privacy rights - getting an award as an "endemic surveillance society." Its rank dropped from "extensive surveillance society" after Congress further eroded privacy rights, and it was revealed that the FBI is creating the largest biometric database in the world.
The English-based privacy rights group Privacy International has highlighted, since 1997, the status of many countries when it comes to protecting a person's privacy. The group looks into things like a country's constitutional guards to privacy and surveillance on its own people.
In a country that acts as a leader of freedom, the lack of privacy protections doesn't fall in line with the rhetoric. Since President Bush took office in 2001, civil liberties and individual rights have slowly been eroded by laws like the Patriot Act. On August 4, 2007, Congress gave the government a blank check to wiretap all telephone and electronic communication from the U.S. to another country without a warrant.
That's not all. The FBI will be creating the world's largest biometric database at the cost of $1 billion. Biometrics include fingerprints, DNA and physical descriptions. The database would give the FBI the ability to easily identify Americans whether a criminal or not. Moves by the government like this helped to add to the "deteriorating" privacy rights in the U.S.
This obsession with identity by the U.S. government can be connected with the state of its prisons. In 2005, 1 in 136 Americans were behind bars. The U.S. also has the gold metal for the most amount of its own people in prison in the world. This obsession with security raises fears by critics of an impending police state.
So is Big Brother watching you? You bet. Stay tuned for May when the REAL ID Act comes into full effect, a law that will require state IDs to fall into federal standards, including a "common readable technology" that includes RFID chips. These constant attacks on privacy will only leave all Americans naked, exposed and shaking in the wind.
Map from privacyinternational.org.
Sunday, December 30, 2007
How far will a country go to fight terrorism? Will it start terrorizing its own citizens? Well, history has shown that, yes, a country is willing to do that, and more. In one of the top 25 censored stories identified by Project Censored for 2006-07, one story was about a bill passed by Congress, signed by Bush, that puts the most basic rule of a democratic society at severe risk - habeas corpus.
Habeas what? It's one of those Latin terms still floating around since 1215. That's right, for almost 900 years, this revolutionary idea helped shape democracies across the world. The Magna Carta, a set of laws created by King John of England under threat of civil war, took much power away from dictator governments by stating “no free man shall be…imprisoned or disseised [dispossessed]…except by the lawful judgment of his peers or by the law of the land.”
In other words, you have the right to a fair trial. You have the right to not be swept up by a government net and thrown in prison for no reason. You have the right to defend yourself in court. Innocent until proven guilty. That is habeas corpus. That is what is threatened now for every American by the passing of the Military Commissions Act of 2006.
Mainstream media, like the New York Times, did report on the act, but they only reported on one part of the bill. That part deals mainly with non-U.S. citizens labeled "enemy combatants" by the Bush Administration. These are the people being swept up in the "War on Terror," and thrown into secret prisons around the world, including Guantanamo Bay. There, these people, who aren't being charged with any crimes, are being held without access to lawyers or trial. Now with this law, they have no rights in U.S. courts to a fair trial, or a trial for that matter. The Times wrote in their editorial:
"The law does not apply to American citizens, but it does apply to other legal United States residents. And it chips away at the foundations of the judicial system in ways that all Americans should find threatening."
What mainstream media didn't report on was a part of the bill that does affect U.S. citizens. When defining what crimes can be tried by a military tribunal, it states "any person is punishable as a principal under this chapter who commits an offense punishable by this [bill], or aids, abets, counsels, commands, or procures its commission." Any person. Unless the word "any" has changed in meaning to mean something else, it sounds like the bill is talking about any, and all, people including U.S. citizens.
Some of the crimes triable by the military include murder, hijacking, rape, spying and terrorism. One of the crimes, wrongfully aiding the enemy, clearly implies that it is for no less than U.S. citizens. That crime states that "Any person subject to this chapter who, in breach of an allegiance or duty to the United States, knowingly and intentionally aids an enemy of the United States...shall be punished as a military commission under this chapter may direct."
As pointed out by Robert Parry's article, who else other than a U.S. citizen would be in breach of violating their allegiance to the U.S. Unless Al'Qaeda now has some deep seeded allegiance to the country.
These vague, broad words and statements in the bill are cause for alarm for U.S. citizens. The government has shown itself in the past, especially with the Patriot Act, to misuse broadly stated parts of a bill to target U.S. citizens. Most frightening about this bill is the possibilities that come with it. Any chipping of habeas corpus, even if minor, should trigger some sort of alarm for any U.S. citizen that loves to have a lawyer present if the law comes down on them.
If that's not enough for you to be worried, listen to the statement made by Former Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez on Jan. 18, 2007 before the Senate Committee on the Judiciary, where he public says that "there is no express grant of habeas in the Constitution. There is a prohibition against taking it away." What!!1! Even the senators did a double take with that one. And just in case the senators didn't understand what he said, he added:
"I meant by that comment, the Constitution doesn’t say, 'Every individual in the United States or every citizen is hereby granted or assured the right to habeas.' It doesn’t say that. It simply says the right of habeas corpus shall not be suspended."
Wow! These are the people running our country! With such blatant disregard for the Constitution, one has to wonder what they're doing behind closed doors. The debate, as if there should be one, over habeas corpus and how the Military Commissions Act could be used caused one of the only outspoken senators about the constant assault on our civil liberties, Patrick Leahy of Vermont, to fight back with the Habeas Corpus Restoration Act of 2007. The bill passed the Judiciary Committee on June 8, 2007, but awaits its performance before the Senate floor.
Photo of detainee at Guantanamo Bay prison being taken in shortly after it opened on Jan. 2002. Photo from the www.latimes.com/media/
Picked up this book called Censored 2008: Top 25 Censored Stories of 2006-07. It's put together by a group out of Sonoma State University in California called Project Censored, an "investigative sociology and media analysis project dedicated to journalistic integrity and the freedom of information throughout the United States," according to the book. For the past 31 years, Project Censored released this list of censored stories. The top 25 stories are chosen from a list of 300 by a panel of national judges and researchers.
Project Censored holds the mainstream media in a low regard, blaming a network of powerful economic and political interests for not reporting to the public stories of major importance to their way of life. This excerpt from the book is quoted at length because it sets the tone of the book, and of the dilemma Americans face today:
Censorship in the U.S is seldom direct or overt. Instead, it results from the corporate media's inability to address a range of truly serious events and issues about which every American should be aware...Without news coverage that extends beyond the narrow range of people, power structures, and politics addressed by the corporate media, we remain blind to the machinations of the powerful and we become further marginalized from the basic democratic tasks of political, economic, and social decision-making.
Project Censored sums it up - the mainstream media is not doing its job and U.S. democracy is more threatened today than ever before as a result. This book, and the stories censored by the big media corporations inspired me to do a series of columns on each story and why it's important for the public to know about them. Just look for the tag line "censored" for anything I write on this site about these stories.
These are important stories to know, and for fellow journalists reading this blog, it is our duty to report the truth no matter what it takes. The stakes are high. Read these stories. Remember our duty to the public. And spread the word.