America Gone Nuts
of the pocketbook
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Off to our own personal Utopia - the BIG APPLE
Talk to you Wednesday!'
Julien, Alix, and wonderdog Verdell
"By Bill Piper, AlterNet
Posted on May 18, 2005, Printed on May 27, 2005
Neighbors spying on neighbors? Mothers forced to turn in their sons or daughters? These are images straight out of George Orwell's 1984, or a remote totalitarian state. We don't associate them with the land of the free and the home of the brave, but that doesn't mean they couldn't happen here. A senior congressman, James Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.), is working quietly but efficiently to turn the entire United States population into informants--by force.
Sensenbrenner, the U.S. House Judiciary Committee Chairman, has introduced legislation that would essentially draft every American into the war on drugs. H.R. 1528, cynically named "Safe Access to Drug Treatment and Child Protection Act," would compel people to spy on their family members and neighbors, and even go undercover and wear a wire if needed. If a person resisted, he or she would face mandatory incarceration.
Here's how the "spy" section of the legislation works: If you "witness" certain drug offenses taking place or "learn" about them, you must report the offenses to law enforcement within 24 hours and provide "full assistance in the investigation, apprehension and prosecution" of the people involved. Failure to do so would be a crime punishable by a mandatory minimum two-year prison sentence, and a maximum sentence of 10 years.
Here are some examples of offenses you would have to report to police within 24 hours:
- You find out that your brother, who has children, recently bought a small amount of marijuana to share with his wife;
- You discover that your son gave his college roommate a marijuana joint;
- You learn that your daughter asked her boyfriend to find her some drugs, even though they're both in treatment.
In each of these cases you would have to report the relative to the police within 24 hours. Taking time to talk to your relative about treatment instead of calling the police immediately could land you in jail.
In addition to turning family member against family member, the legislation could also put many Americans in danger by forcing them to go undercover to gain evidence against strangers.
Even if the language that forces every American to become a de facto law enforcement agent is taken out, the bill would still impose draconian sentences on college students, mothers, people in drug treatment and others with substance abuse problems. If enacted, this bill will destroy lives, break up families, and waste millions of taxpayer dollars.
Despite growing opposition to mandatory minimum sentences from civil rights groups to U.S. Supreme Court Justices, the bill eliminates federal judges' ability to give sentences below the minimum recommended by federal sentencing guidelines. This creates a mandatory minimum sentence for all federal offenses, drug-related or not.
H.R. 1528 also establishes new draconian penalties for a variety of non-violent drug offenses, including:
- Five years for anyone who passes a marijuana joint at a party to someone who, at some point in his or her life, has been in drug treatment;
- Ten years for mothers with substance abuse problems who commit certain drug offenses at home (even if their children are not at home at the time);
- Five years for any person with substance abuse problems who begs a friend in drug treatment to find them some drugs.
These sentences would put non-violent drug offenders behind bars for as long as rapists, and they include none of the drug treatment touted in the bill's name.
At a time when everyone from the conservative American Enterprise Institute to the liberal Sentencing Project is slamming the war on drugs as an abject failure, Sensenbrenner is trying to escalate it, and to force all Americans to become its foot soldiers. Instead of enacting new mandatory minimums, federal policymakers should look toward the states. A growing number have reformed their drug sentencing laws, including Arizona, California, Kansas, Louisiana, Maryland, New Mexico, New York and Texas, and they have proved it is possible to both save money and improve public safety.
Simply put, there is no way H.R. 1528 can be fixed. The only policy proposal in recent years that comes close to being as totalitarian as this bill is Operations TIPS, the Ashcroft initiative that would have encouraged -- but not required -- citizens to spy on one another. Congress rightfully rejected that initiative and they should do the same with H.R. 1528. Big Brother has no business here in America.
Bill Piper is director of national affairs for the Drug Policy Alliance."
Okay - maybe the readers of reality-based blogs can help me figure this one out...according to the Ohio News Network:
More and more people each year are without health insurance, and Ohio falls in line as more than twelve percent of the population was without coverage last year.
That number is up nearly 3.5 percent from 2003.
In Cleveland, MetroHealth Medical Center is the only place the uninsured can go for treatment. Twenty percent of the people who came through the door at MetroHealth last year were uninsured.
Dr. Reed Tuckson believes a lack of coverage affects, and costs, everyone. He says, "We know that when there are people who don't get the preventive services, the screening services they need, they have disease burdens that put all of us at risk for communicable disease, so we're all affected."
MetroHealth provided $108 million in charity care in 2003. That number jumped to $123 million last year.
So, Ohio can't insure its citizens against illness and disease (I consider Ohio the microcosm of the situation in many states...).
I would think that a state with the plethora of churches rich enough to build statues like this...
...would certainly have enough money to help with healthcare of the needy.
I would argue that it might be a little more "WWJD-esque" to have put some of the $$$$ it cost for what looks for all the world to me like a f*cking graven image into helping some of those who might just be losing their houses due to bankruptsy after being treated for cancer.
But no, unfortunately, Ohio churches (and most churches) are more focused on big-assed-jeezus statues than helping citizens in need.
"Harry Reid: Americans Less Safe
Sen. Minority Leader Harry Reid introduced the party's reform agenda today at the National Press Club. He made an interesting observation (received by e-mail):
As of this month, more time has passed since 9-11 than the time between Pearl Harbor and the defeat of Japan. During those three years and eight months – sixty years ago – we invaded North Africa and Normandy. We freed people from the Philippines to France. Hitler lay dead and Tojo was in chains. We had defeated fascism around the world and had begun to build the new United Nations.
But today Osama bin Laden is still on the loose, our homeland is still not secure, we’re still not energy independent, and – in many ways – Americans are less safe than we were before 9-11.
To: Bill Frist, US Senate.
From: Mitch Berg, Schmuck Citizen and pissed-off former GOP contributor
Re: Your Infinite Cretinism
Mitch Berg here. You probably don't know who I am; I'm a typical schmuck. I write a blog, and I try to pitch in on GOP activities around Minnesota.
And on behalf of the entire GOP, I'm having a hard time walking right now - because you just boned your party up the a**.
No, not just the party; not just the assembly of suits and climbers and hangers-on that no doubt surrounds you at work every day. No, I'm talking about all of us who busted our asses overcoming a full-court media press (and continue to do so), and gave of our time and money until it hurt - hurt our wallets, our families, our relationships, our equilibrium. We gave them all with enthusiasm because we knew what was at stake; a whole generation of Supreme Court decisions.
So we gave. And you took.
And today, you looked us all in the face, and spat.
Reading Michelle and John and Ed, I'm about as depressed as I can be.
We won you a majority, pinhead. What the hell good is it? You think the Democrats are going to abide by your little gentleman's agreement? You got conned. You entered into an agreement with a Klansman, a drunk machine hack and a party bag man. You are the Neville Chamberlain of my generation.
I don't believe in Karma, but I believe what goes around comes around. And I guess you demonstrate it, Frist. The Democrats elect a pinhead doctor to lead their party - I guess it's only fair we did, too.
Thank God for Tom Delay. The least you could do is make it hard for the Dems to neutralize you, rather than walking off the cliff into the kool-aid vat on your own.
Captain Ed is right. Not one more dime. You have made me ashamed to be a Republican.
Oh, I'll bounce back. We all will - most of us, anyway. We'll have to. Because you showed us today - the grass roots have got to do it for themselves; we'll get no help from hamsters like you.
Sincerely - go back to medicine.
Right wing bloggers howl over Senate deal
-- Eric Boehlert
Speaking at the press conference yesterday that announced the compromise to avert a filibuster showdown, Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., conceded some conservatives would be angry at him for not helping to push the nuclear button. That's putting it mildly. If the right-wing bloggers are any indication, hardcore conservatives think the GOP gave away the store and delivered a key victory to Democrats.
[08:08 EDT, May 24, 2005]
Done deal -- for now
The "Group of 14" moderates defuse the nuclear option, but who really wins and loses in the filibuster compromise? And how close are we to the next showdown?
- - - - - - - - - - - -
By Tim Grieve
May 24, 2005 | Rejecting the plans of their leaders and the demands of the religious right, seven Republican senators joined seven Democrats Monday night in a last-minute agreement to avert the nuclear option and preserve, at least in theory, the Democrats' right to filibuster future judicial nominees. The war over judicial nominees isn't over; it may well explode again this summer, when George W. Bush will almost certainly have a chance to nominate a Supreme Court justice. But round one is done, and it goes to Senate tradition, the storied but seldom seen collegiality among senators -- and to the Democrats.
After visiting Moscow for the first time as Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice
told reporters she was bothered by the low regard many Russians have for the
United States. Most likely, Rice experienced this shock when being interviewed
by the Ekho Moskvy radio station. The host of this Moscow-based radio station
program asked listeners to call in and share their perceptions of the United
States. Out of 6,000 respondents, as reported by the radio station’s polling
center, 46 percent said they considered the United States to be Russia’s
adversary, while 54 percent said the United States was Russia’s ally.
This is the way the United States is perceived in Russia — Russian society is split on
its attitude toward the United States, and extremely negative viewpoints live
alongside very positive perceptions. Obviously, the United States is a hot topic
for debating among Russian people, and most Russians have something to say about
the United States and Americans.
Bush: Worst President Ever?
Herbert Hoover may have triggered the Great Depression, but he didn't invade another nation on false pretenses, authorize torture of prisoners, or try to stack the courts.
For the record, I don't like George Bush. And I don't like most of the people who work for George Bush. So, diehard Republicans can just brush aside my remarks as so much partisan blather.
But by now I suppose very few diehard Republicans ever read what I write. So do me a favor -- e-mail this to the diehards in your family and circle of friends. Ask them to tell me why I am wrong about this:
George Bush is the worst president of the
, ever. Hands down. United States of America
And here are just a few reasons why I believe that statement is true.
the Disgraced America
President Bush's actions and policies have destroyed
's image as a nation that adheres to a set of core values, such as the rule of law, humane treatment of prisoners, presumed innocence, trial by jury and respect for international laws. America
How do I know this? Because the world is telling us so, whenever we care enough to ask.
Positive views of the
U.S.in have risen 11 points in the past year. But Russia U.S.favorability ratings in Franceand Germanyare somewhat lower than last year and there has been a larger decline in (58 percent now, 70 percent last year). Young people in Great Britain Great Britain, France, and Germanyhave more negative views of than do people in other age groups. An important factor in world opinion about America Americais the perception that the acts internationally without taking account of the interests of other nations. Large majorities in every nation surveyed believe that U.S. pays little or no attention to their country's interests in making its foreign policy decisions. This opinion is most prevalent in America France(84 percent), Turkey(79 percent) and Jordan(77 percent), but even in Great Britain61 percent say the pays little or no attention to British interests. U.S.
Nice going George. Even Richard Nixon couldn't tarnish
's image that much. America
Then there's the war that is largely responsible for that drop in our international image. President Bush really screwed this one up. First, everyone not drinking the neocon Kool-Aid tried to warn George not to pull that trigger. Then Army chief of staff, Gen. Shinseki, warned Bush that a war in
would not be the "cake walk" his neocon Rasputin, Paul Wolfowitz, promised. Instead, he warned, we would need a lot of troops in Iraq for long time. For that piece of advice he was first publicly embarrassed by his boss then shown the door, according to The New York Times: Iraq
At a Pentagon news conference neither Mr. Rumsfeld nor Mr. Wolfowitz mentioned Gen. Shinseki, the Army chief of staff, by name. But both men were clearly irritated at the general's suggestion that a post-war
might require many more forces than the 100,000 American troops and the tens of thousands of allied forces that are also expected to join a reconstruction effort. "The idea that it would take several hundred thousand Iraq forces I think is far off the mark," Mr. Rumsfeld said. U.S.
That was 2003. Here's a story from today's paper.
BAGHDAD, Iraq, May 19 - American military commanders in Baghdadand Washingtongave a sobering new assessment on Wednesday of the war in . ... In interviews and briefings this week, some of the generals pulled back from recent suggestions, some by the same officers, that positive trends in Iraq could allow a major draw-down in the 138,000 American troops late this year or early in 2006. One officer suggested Wednesday that American military involvement could last "many years." Iraq
Gee. Who saw that coming?
So, thanks to George W. Bush and the handful of Neocon nuts you listen to. Now we are stuck in another Vietnam-type war thousands of miles from home. All the
trappings are here for anyone who cares to notice -- indigenous insurgents, driven by a fanatical ideology, supported and supplied by "spoiler" nation-states with their own anti-U.S. agendas, thousands of dead civilians, American soldiers dying by the gross week in and week out, with no end in sight. Vietnam
Nice going, George. Maybe because you skipped out on the Vietnam War you didn't know this could happen. Or maybe you really are as dumb as common road gravel.
One of the Republican party's proudest boasts is that Ronald Reagan defeated the Soviet Evil Empire. The irony is they are now recreating pieces of that police state here at home now.
Hyperbole? You judge -- while you still can. From The New York Times:
, May 18 - The Bush administration and Senate Republican leaders are pushing a plan that would significantly expand the F.B.I.'s power to demand business records in terror investigations without obtaining approval from a judge, officials said on Wednesday. "This is a dramatic expansion of the federal government's power," said Lisa Graves, senior counsel for the American Civil Liberties Union in WASHINGTON . "It's really a power grab by the administration for the F.B.I. to secretly demand medical records, tax records, gun purchase records and all sorts of other material if they deem it relevant to an intelligence investigation." Washington
Now, the Patriot Act -- you know, the law that among other things allows federal agents to demand your local library tell them what books you are reading -- is about to be expanded.
Little by little this administration has chipped away at state powers by transferring them to
. And nowhere has this process been more pronounced than in the area of law enforcement and the courts. The FBI, which once had to defer to local and state law enforcers when on their turf, can now barge right in and take charge. All they have to do is an investigation a "national security" or "homeland security" matter. Washington
Federal courts, which have acted as a brake on law enforcement abuses, are being systemically stacked with rightwing judges less likely to side with victims of overzealous cops or invasions of personal privacy.
That's why this is going on right now:
, May 18 - The Senate plunged into an intense partisan struggle on Wednesday over the fate of stalled federal court nominees and the governance of the institution itself as the two parties locked in a debate over the right of the minority to prevent votes on a president's judicial candidates. "If Republicans roll back our rights in this chamber, there will be no check on their power," said Senator Reid. "The radical, right wing will be free to pursue any agenda they want. And not just on judges. Their power will be unchecked on Supreme Court nominees, the president's nominees in general and legislation like Social Security privatization. WASHINGTON
The Bushites are on a neocon roll and the federal judiciary is their final obstacle. If they can stack the appellate courts and appoint two rightwing Supreme Court justices before the end of Bush's final term, it will be "game over" for civil libertarians -- and
as we knew her. America
Peasantization of Workers
Over the past five years we have seen the biggest transfer of wealth in the history of money. The already wealthy have become mind-numbingly rich under George Bush. Where did the money come from? It came right out of the pockets of working Americans and the poor.
I heard that groan from the right. Same old liberal, bleeding-heart bullshit, right?
So, you judge.
What the right has accomplished in just five years is the creation of a low-wage economy -- a management wet dream -- a country filled with high-skilled workers so desperate for jobs they will work for peanuts. Once powerful labor unions have been powerless to stop the flow of once high-paying blue and gray-collar jobs to cheap overseas venues. The jobs that replaced those lost to outsourcing pay an average of ten grand a year less. (As I said above, the money came straight out of workers' pockets.)
The administration likes to boast that it has kept inflation in check. Yes they have, at least somewhat. But the reasons inflation remains low are all bad reasons that will result in very bad news down the road.
First, consumers have less money to spend, as noted above. Since consumer spending power is a prime driver of price inflation, prices on many core consumer products have remained low. And many of those now low-price products keeping inflation low are no longer made here but in cheap-labor countries like
But inflation has many causes, not just consumer spending. Raw materials, shipping costs, currency fluctuations. And deep inside the bowels of the economic gut, rumbling can be heard.
-- Consumer prices jumped again last month, primarily reflecting sharp increases in food and energy costs, the government reported today. But prices for items other than food and energy were flat in April, while oil and gas prices have fallen since then, the Labor Department said, boosting hopes in financial markets that the recent inflation flare-up may be fading. Food prices climbed 0.7 percent last month, largely because of the rising costs of fruits and vegetables. But the so-called core-CPI, which excludes food and energy costs, was unchanged in April and is up 2.6 percent from April of last year. WASHINGTON
Inflation is not as benign as the government figures pretend. This is because of how they calculate inflation on individual items in the CPI and can fiddle with the facts. For example, if HP replaces a printer with a new model that might include a few modest enhancements over it's predecessor which sold for $100, but prices the new model $125, government economists can claim the price really did not go up because the new model is better than the old model.
Trouble is you can't buy the old model any longer, but never mind that. Even though you have to pay more for basically the same printer, the price did not go up -- because "they" say so.
How much of that is going on in calculating the CPI? Plenty. And if you shop you know it. They keep saying inflation is in check, but the checks I have to write for everything from my utilities to the food keep getting larger.
The point -- figures don't lie but liars can figure -- and they are.
Keeping Up Keeping Up
If things are so bad, why hasn't the economy slipped back into recession? Because it's been running on credit. During Bush's first term the economy perked up because Bush pumped $1.6 trillion in tax rebates into it. That was like giving a dying patient an injection of meth and then claiming he was cured because he was up and jerking around in bed.
Once consumers consumed their paltry tax rebates and the wealthy had deposited their hefty rebates into family trust accounts, the economy would have slowed again -- had it not been for low interest rates and easy credit. Consumers turned into home-equity vampires and credit card addicts in order to maintain the middle-class lifestyle their new low-paying jobs could no longer finance.
And, the government as well went on a borrowing binge running up a national credit card debt of just over $7 trillion.
All that damage in just five years! It's almost unimaginable, but true. And the negative long-term implications stagger those who understand that there really is no such thing as a free lunch, that deficits do matter, be they government deficits or consumer's.
I will not belabor this point, except to say that, at the very time Bush berates religious fundamentalists abroad, he has breached the wall between religion and state here at home. He has jimmied open this Pandora's Box and there will be hell to pay for it eventually -- as there has been everywhere on earth where this was done.
All the above, and more, is why I contend that George W. Bush is the worst president EVER. Hands down, no one else even comes close.
Herbert Hoover may have triggered the Great Depression, but he didn't invade another nation on false pretenses, authorize torture of prisoners, or try to stack the courts. Franklin Roosevelt did try to stack the courts but Congress said "no" and he said "OK," and went on the save the world from fascism and secure the lives of America's elderly by creating Social Security -- which Bush now wants to subvert.
Johnson and Nixon did fight an illegal and immoral war but Johnson lifted millions out of poverty and got the Civil Rights Act passed, much to his own party's determent. Nixon tried to subvert the Constitution but was caught and thrown out of office before he could succeed.
But I fear it's too late to stop George W. Bush and his band of right-wing revolutionaries. We have let them get too far along now to stop them. We have let them neutralize too many constitutional checks and balances. And once they deep-six the filibuster it truly will be game over.
Yes, the Democrats have begun to fight, but too little and now too late. The only recourse soon will be public demonstrations of the kind and size not seen here since the 1970s.
The only question is, are there still enough of us out here who give a damn.
Stephen Pizzo is the author of numerous books, including Inside Job: The Looting of America's Savings and Loans," which was nominated for a Pulitzer.
"Stem Sell"I made it very clear to the Congress that the use of federal money, taxpayers' money to promote science which destroys life in order to save life is - I'm against that. And therefore, if the bill does that, I will veto it.''Just in case you are confused, using taxpayers' money to destroy this life in order to save lives is evil:
But using taxpayers' money to destroy this life in order to save lives is good:
It looks to me as if the best way to convince Bush and his followers to support stem cell research is to propose that we only use Arab embryos."
Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations
Title: Oil For Influence: How Saddam Used Oil to Reward Politicians Under the United Nations Oil-for-Food Program
Mark L. Greenblatt [View PDF], Counsel , U.S. Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations
Steven A. Groves [View PDF], Counsel , U.S. Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations
Dan M. Berkovitz [View PDF], Counsel to the Minority , U. S. Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations
George Galloway, Member of Parliament for Bethnal Green and Bow, Great Britain
Mr Galloway did not submit a statement
Thomas A. Schweich [View PDF], Chief of Staff, U.S. Mission to the United Nations, U. S. Department of State
Robert W. Werner [View PDF], Director, Office of Foreign Assets Control, U. S. Department of the Treasury
Peter Reddaway [View PDF], Professor Emeritus of Political Science and International Affairs, George Washington University
Over three-quarters of the 12 million people worldwide who are exploited in
forced labor conditions are in Asia, according to a comprehensive global report
released last week by United Nations social justice and work rights agency the
International Labour Organization (I.L.O.).
Defining forced labor as “work extracted under threat and against a
person’s will,” the report has assessed the Asia and Pacific region as heading
the worldwide list with 9.5 million people. Latin America follows with 1.3
million, Sub-Saharan Africa with 660,000 and Europe and the United States with
Total global profits earned from the exploitation of men, women and
children have been calculated as being $32 billion, the first time such an
estimate of the illicit industry has been made.
Galloway's Senate Testimony Scrubbed from Official Subcommittee
Chairman Coleman's Office Passes Buck for Explanation!
The stunning testimony given by British MP George Galloway before the
U.S. Senate subcommittee on Investigations is apparently so hot that it seems to
have "gone AWOL" from the subcommittee's website according to the British
newsite VNU Network.The BRAD BLOG can confirm that all witness testimony --
except that of Galloway's -- from last Tuesday's extraordinary hearings is
available in PDF format on the subcommittee's webpage on the hearings.
Details, Screenshot, Comments from Coleman's Office:http://www.bradblog.com/archives/00001407.htm
"Whenever there is a vacancy in the office of the Vice President, the President shall nominate a Vice President who shall take office upon confirmation by a majority vote of both Houses of Congress."
"George Galloway: Watch This a Third Time Even If You've Watched it Twice
There are too few great moments in our democracy lately.
We are collectively jaded, too prone to spin, and too willing to forgive our Senators and House Members' sacrifice of principle to curry favor with loyalty-obsessed White House.
George Voinovich startled the nation and the world with his eloquent rebuke of John Bolton. And today, George Galloway just tore the smug triumphalism and conceit of Senator Norm Coleman away in one of the great orations of the year.
Watch it again."
"Senator, I am not now, nor have I ever been, an oil trader. and neither has anyone on my behalf. I have never seen a barrel of oil, owned one, bought one, sold one - and neither has anyone on my behalf.
"Now I know that standards have slipped in the last few years in Washington, but for a lawyer you are remarkably cavalier with any idea of justice. I am here today but last week you already found me guilty. You traduced my name around the world without ever having asked me a single question, without ever having contacted me, without ever written to me or telephoned me, without any attempt to contact me whatsoever. And you call that justice.
I told the world that Iraq, contrary to your claims did not have weapons of mass destruction.
I told the world, contrary to your claims, that Iraq had no connection to al-Qaeda.
I told the world, contrary to your claims, that Iraq had no connection to the atrocity on 9/11 2001.
I told the world, contrary to your claims, that the Iraqi people would resist a British and American invasion of their country and that the fall of Baghdad would not be the beginning of the end, but merely the end of the beginning.
Senator, in everything I said about Iraq, I turned out to be right and you turned out to be wrong and 100,000 people paid with their lives; 1600 of them American soldiers sent to their deaths on a pack of lies; 15,000 of them wounded, many of them disabled forever on a pack of lies.
"Now I want to deal with the pages that relate to me in this dossier and I want to point out areas where there are - let's be charitable and say errors. Then I want to put this in the context where I believe it ought to be. On the very first page of your document about me you assert that I have had 'many meetings' with Saddam Hussein. This is false.
"I have had two meetings with Saddam Hussein, once in 1994 and once in August of 2002. By no stretch of the English language can that be described as "many meetings" with Saddam Hussein.
"As a matter of fact, I have met Saddam Hussein exactly the same number of times as Donald Rumsfeld met him. The difference is Donald Rumsfeld met him to sell him guns and to give him maps the better to target those guns. I met him to try and bring about an end to sanctions, suffering and war, and on the second of the two occasions, I met him to try and persuade him to let Dr Hans Blix and the United Nations weapons inspectors back into the country - a rather better use of two meetings with Saddam Hussein than your own Secretary of State for Defense made of his.
"I was an opponent of Saddam Hussein when British and Americans governments and businessmen were selling him guns and gas. I used to demonstrate outside the Iraqi embassy when British and American officials were going in and doing commerce.
"You will see from the official parliamentary record, Hansard, from the 15th March 1990 onwards, voluminous evidence that I have a rather better record of opposition to Saddam Hussein than you do and than any other member of the British or American governments do.
"Now you say in this document, you quote a source, you have the gall to quote a source, without ever having asked me whether the allegation from the source is true, that I am 'the owner of a company which has made substantial profits from trading in Iraqi oil'.
"Senator, I do not own any companies, beyond a small company whose entire purpose, whose sole purpose, is to receive the income from my journalistic earnings from my employer, Associated Newspapers, in London. I do not own a company that's been trading in Iraqi oil. And you have no business to carry a quotation, utterly unsubstantiated and false, implying otherwise.
"Now you have nothing on me, Senator, except my name on lists of names from Iraq, many of which have been drawn up after the installation of your puppet government in Baghdad. If you had any of the letters against me that you had against Zhirinovsky, and even Pasqua, they would have been up there in your slideshow for the members of your committee today.
"You have my name on lists provided to you by the Duelfer inquiry, provided to him by the convicted bank robber, and fraudster and conman Ahmed Chalabi who many people to their credit in your country now realize played a decisive role in leading your country into the disaster in Iraq.
"There were 270 names on that list originally. That's somehow been filleted down to the names you chose to deal with in this committee. Some of the names on that committee included the former secretary to his Holiness Pope John Paul II, the former head of the African National Congress Presidential office and many others who had one defining characteristic in common: they all stood against the policy of sanctions and war which you vociferously prosecuted and which has led us to this disaster.
"You quote Mr Dahar Yassein Ramadan. Well, you have something on me, I've never met Mr Dahar Yassein Ramadan. Your sub-committee apparently has. But I do know that he's your prisoner, I believe he's in Abu Ghraib prison. I believe he is facing war crimes charges, punishable by death. In these circumstances, knowing what the world knows about how you treat prisoners in Abu Ghraib prison, in Bagram Airbase, in Guantanamo Bay, including I may say, British citizens being held in those places.
"I'm not sure how much credibility anyone would put on anything you manage to get from a prisoner in those circumstances. But you quote 13 words from Dahar Yassein Ramadan whom I have never met. If he said what he said, then he is wrong.
"And if you had any evidence that I had ever engaged in any actual oil transaction, if you had any evidence that anybody ever gave me any money, it would be before the public and before this committee today because I agreed with your Mr Greenblatt [Mark Greenblatt, legal counsel on the committee].
"Your Mr Greenblatt was absolutely correct. What counts is not the names on the paper, what counts is where's the money. Senator? Who paid me hundreds of thousands of dollars of money? The answer to that is nobody. And if you had anybody who ever paid me a penny, you would have produced them today.
"Now you refer at length to a company names in these documents as Aredio Petroleum. I say to you under oath here today: I have never heard of this company, I have never met anyone from this company. This company has never paid a penny to me and I'll tell you something else: I can assure you that Aredio Petroleum has never paid a single penny to the Mariam Appeal Campaign. Not a thin dime. I don't know who Aredio Petroleum are, but I daresay if you were to ask them they would confirm that they have never met me or ever paid me a penny.
"Whilst I'm on that subject, who is this senior former regime official that you spoke to yesterday? Don't you think I have a right to know? Don't you think the Committee and the public have a right to know who this senior former regime official you were quoting against me interviewed yesterday actually is?
"Now, one of the most serious of the mistakes you have made in this set of documents is, to be frank, such a schoolboy howler as to make a fool of the efforts that you have made. You assert on page 19, not once but twice, that the documents that you are referring to cover a different period in time from the documents covered by The Daily Telegraph which were a subject of a libel action won by me in the High Court in England late last year.
"You state that The Daily Telegraph article cited documents from 1992 and 1993 whilst you are dealing with documents dating from 2001. Senator, The Daily Telegraph's documents date identically to the documents that you were dealing with in your report here. None of The Daily Telegraph's documents dealt with a period of 1992, 1993. I had never set foot in Iraq until late in 1993 - never in my life. There could possibly be no documents relating to Oil-for-Food matters in 1992, 1993, for the Oil-for-Food scheme did not exist at that time.
"And yet you've allocated a full section of this document to claiming that your documents are from a different era to the Daily Telegraph documents when the opposite is true. Your documents and the Daily Telegraph documents deal with exactly the same period.
"But perhaps you were confusing the Daily Telegraph action with the Christian Science Monitor. The Christian Science Monitor did indeed publish on its front pages a set of allegations against me very similar to the ones that your committee have made. They did indeed rely on documents which started in 1992, 1993. These documents were unmasked by the Christian Science Monitor themselves as forgeries.
"Now, the neo-con websites and newspapers in which you're such a hero, senator, were all absolutely cock-a-hoop at the publication of the Christian Science Monitor documents, they were all absolutely convinced of their authenticity. They were all absolutely convinced that these documents showed me receiving $10 million from the Saddam regime. And they were all lies.
"In the same week as the Daily Telegraph published their documents against me, the Christian Science Monitor published theirs which turned out to be forgeries and the British newspaper, Mail on Sunday, purchased a third set of documents which also upon forensic examination turned out to be forgeries. So there's nothing fanciful about this. Nothing at all fanciful about it.
"The existence of forged documents implicating me in commercial activities with the Iraqi regime is a proven fact. It's a proven fact that these forged documents existed and were being circulated amongst right-wing newspapers in Baghdad and around the world in the immediate aftermath of the fall of the Iraqi regime.
"Now, Senator, I gave my heart and soul to oppose the policy that you promoted. I gave my political life's blood to try to stop the mass killing of Iraqis by the sanctions on Iraq which killed one million Iraqis, most of them children, most of them died before they even knew that they were Iraqis, but they died for no other reason other than that they were Iraqis with the misfortune to born at that time. I gave my heart and soul to stop you committing the disaster that you did commit in invading Iraq. And I told the world that your case for the war was a pack of lies.
"I told the world that Iraq, contrary to your claims did not have weapons of mass destruction. I told the world, contrary to your claims, that Iraq had no connection to al-Qaeda. I told the world, contrary to your claims, that Iraq had no connection to the atrocity on 9/11 2001. I told the world, contrary to your claims, that the Iraqi people would resist a British and American invasion of their country and that the fall of Baghdad would not be the beginning of the end, but merely the end of the beginning.
"Senator, in everything I said about Iraq, I turned out to be right and you turned out to be wrong and 100,000 people paid with their lives; 1600 of them American soldiers sent to their deaths on a pack of lies; 15,000 of them wounded, many of them disabled forever on a pack of lies.
If the world had listened to Kofi Annan, whose dismissal you demanded, if the world had listened to President Chirac who you want to paint as some kind of corrupt traitor, if the world had listened to me and the anti-war movement in Britain, we would not be in the disaster that we are in today. Senator, this is the mother of all smokescreens. You are trying to divert attention from the crimes that you supported, from the theft of billions of dollars of Iraq's wealth.
"Have a look at the real Oil-for-Food scandal. Have a look at the 14 months you were in charge of Baghdad, the first 14 months when $8.8 billion of Iraq's wealth went missing on your watch. Have a look at Halliburton and other American corporations that stole not only Iraq's money, but the money of the American taxpayer.
"Have a look at the oil that you didn't even meter, that you were shipping out of the country and selling, the proceeds of which went who knows where? Have a look at the $800 million you gave to American military commanders to hand out around the country without even counting it or weighing it.
"Have a look at the real scandal breaking in the newspapers today, revealed in the earlier testimony in this committee. That the biggest sanctions busters were not me or Russian politicians or French politicians. The real sanctions busters were your own companies with the connivance of your own Government."
Published on Tuesday, May 17, 2005 by the Associated Press
'Star Wars' Raises Questions on US Policy
by David Germain
Without Michael Moore and "Fahrenheit 9/11" at the Cannes Film Festival this time, it was left to George Lucas and "Star Wars" to pique European ire over the state of world relations and the United States' role in it.
Lucas' themes of democracy on the skids and a ruler preaching war to preserve the peace predate "Star Wars: Episode III — Revenge of the Sith" by almost 30 years. Yet viewers Sunday — and Lucas himself — noted similarities between the final chapter of his sci-fi saga and our own troubled times.
Cannes audiences made blunt comparisons between "Revenge of the Sith" — the story of Anakin Skywalker's fall to the dark side and the rise of an emperor through warmongering — to President Bush's war on terrorism and the invasion of Iraq.
Two lines from the movie especially resonated:
"This is how liberty dies. With thunderous applause," bemoans Padme Amidala (Natalie Portman) as the galactic Senate cheers dictator-in-waiting Palpatine (Ian McDiarmid) while he announces a crusade against the Jedi.
"If you're not with me, then you're my enemy," Hayden Christensen's Anakin — soon to become villain Darth Vader — tells former mentor Obi-Wan Kenobi (Ewan McGregor).
The line echoes Bush's international ultimatum after the Sept. 11 attacks, "Either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists."
"That quote is almost a perfect citation of Bush," said Liam Engle, a 23-year-old French-American aspiring filmmaker. "Plus, you've got a politician trying to increase his power to wage a phony war." Though the plot was written years ago, "the anti-Bush diatribe is clearly there," Engle said.
City councilman arrested on domestic violence charge By Dan Horn Cincinnati Enquirer staff writer
Cincinnati City Councilman Sam Malone was arrested early today after police accused him of beating his 14-year-old son with a belt.
Malone pleaded not guilty to the misdemeanor domestic violence charge and was released after spending about eight hours in jail. He described the incident as "parental intervention" brought about by a disciplinary problem at his son's school on Friday.
"Our children cannot be expected to act in a disrespectful way to teachers and other individuals in positions of authority," Malone said today in a prepared statement. "Proper discipline is an important and necessary component of good parenting."
A police report said Malone hit his son with a belt, causing injuries that included swelling to the chest, arms, back and buttocks.
A spokeswoman for children's services in Hamilton County said doctors at a Cincinnati hospital contacted the agency Friday night after they found welts and belt marks on the boy's body.
"Parents are allowed to physically discipline their children," said Laurie Petrie, spokeswoman for the county's Department of Job and Family Services, which includes children's services.
"But this," she said, "would be beyond what we would consider normal discipline."
Malone's son is in the custody of a relative today because a judge granted a temporary protective order that bars Malone from having contact with the boy.
Malone is due in court again on May 31 for a pre-trial hearing, at which time he could ask the judge to lift the protective order.
Copyright 1995-2005. The Cincinnati Enquirer, a Gannett Co. Inc. newspaper.
Councilman Sam Malone happens to be a Conservative Christian African-American Republican and "an accomplished boxer, wrestler, and powerlifter."
See Sam Malone's Bio with Photo:
How to Contact Councilman Sam Malone: 801 Plum Street, Room 346A City Hall, Cincinnati, OH 45202, phone: 513-352-1525 or fax: 513-352-1588, Email through http://www.cincinnati.com/local/contact/malone_form2.html
The following councilmen supported the (succesful) repeal of Cincinnati City Charter Article XII which discriminated against gay and lesbian Cincinnatians.
* Mayor Charlie Luken
* Vice Mayor Alicia Reece
* City Councilmember Laketa Cole
* City Councilmember John Cranley
* City Councilmember David Crowley
* City Councilmember David Pepper
* City Councilmember Christopher Smitherman
* City Councilmember Jim Tarbell
City Councilmember Malone opposed the repeal.