Saturday, October 01, 2005

Farrr out! Kickin out the jams and contemplating the
twelve tone scale in Koslce-Sacra hospital experiment
in music therapy for newborns. AP photo. Posted by Picasa

The Daily Quote

"I do not wish to regard language merely as a mechanically functioning tool, but as a way of life which is a path, a trail which I follow in order to be aware as much as possible of what is around me and what part I am in that life.”
Simon J. Ortiz
You Paid for Bush Propaganda

From "Buying of News by Bush's Aides Is Ruled Illegal" New York Times
[excerpts; emphasis added]

Federal auditors said on Friday that the Bush administration violated the law by buying favorable news coverage of President Bush's education policies, by making payments to the conservative commentator Armstrong Williams and by hiring a public relations company to analyze media perceptions of the Republican Party.

In a blistering report, the investigators, from the Government Accountability Office, said the administration had disseminated "covert propaganda" in the United States in violation of a statutory ban.

Lawyers from the accountability office, an independent nonpartisan arm of Congress, found that the administration systematically analyzed news articles to see if they carried the message, "The Bush administration/the G.O.P. is committed to education." The auditors declared: "We see no use for such information except for partisan political purposes. Engaging in a purely political activity such as this is not a proper use of appropriated funds."

The G.A.O. said the Education Department had no money or authority to "procure favorable commentary in violation of the publicity or propaganda prohibition" in federal law.

The ruling comes with no penalty, but under federal law the department is supposed to report the violations to the White House and Congress.
More Folks Who Hate Our Freedom

From "Stepping Up the Attack on Green Activists"
By Kelly Hearn, AlterNet
excerpts; emphasis added:

In recent months, conservative lawmakers, right-wing advocacy groups and law enforcement officials have ramped up efforts to dismantle eco-terrorist groups and their supports. But critics say vague wording in the USA Patriot Act, new eco-terrorist bills and aggressive law enforcement tactics are ways of quashing civil dissent and tainting law-abiding organizations.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation is at the forefront of this movement. On June 21, FBI Deputy Assistant Director for Counterterrorism John Lewis said eco-terrorists are one of the top domestic terrorist threats in the U.S., having chalked up some 1,200 acts of eco-terrorism since 1990 totaling $110 million in property damage. Eco-terrorist groups have caused no deaths.

As the FBI works to shut down elusive and decentralized eco-terrorist networks, civil rights groups say agents are going so far as illegally spying on activists. In June, a federal disclosure lawsuit by the American Civil Liberties Union forced the FBI to admit having collected 2,400 pages of files on Greenpeace, the most vocal critic of the Bush administration's environmental record, in addition to other groups.

In the courts, prosecutors work to convict activists charged with property crimes under vague and harshly punitive domestic terrorism laws. One activist, Tre Arrow, is facing life in prison for allegedly burning three logging and cement trucks in an Oregon forest. Assistant U.S. Attorney Stephen Peifer, in an interview in June, said Arrow's alleged actions are considered domestic terrorism because "it is a systematic attempt to use the threat of violence to instill fear for political or social purposes."

"Animal liberation movements are being demonized not just as whacko or extremist, but also as terrorist," says Steven Best, an animal rights activist and philosophy professor at the University of Texas at El Paso. "A collective insanity is sweeping the nation [and is] no less absurd, outrageous, frightening and irrational than the Red Scare of the 1950s. The USA Patriot Act expands government's law enforcement powers nationwide as it minimizes meaningful review and oversight by an independent judicial body."

Even though existing laws covering crimes such as arson, theft and trespassing are used to charge eco-terrorists, conservative lawmakers in several states are proposing laws that define eco-terrorism as a distinct offense -- something federal law does not do -- and deepen penalties for environmentally motivated crimes.

"I believe legislative efforts that brand activists as 'terrorists' are largely aimed at intimidating compassionate Americans from speaking out against institutionalized animal cruelty, such as the abuse and exploitation of animal by the multi-billion dollar meat, dairy and egg industries," said Nathan Runkle, executive director of Mercy For Animals, an Ohio-based animal advocacy organization.

The American Legislative Exchange Council, an association of conservative lawmakers, has developed model eco-terror legislation and argues that more laws are needed because the federal law used to convict eco-terrorists is too narrow. Likewise, the FBI has also asked Congress to revise federal statues to address criminal activity related to eco-terrorism, according to March congressional testimony by John Lewis, the agency's deputy assistant director.

The Center for Consumer Freedom, a corporate-sponsored right-wing group, is working to link mainstream environmental groups with underground extremists. David Martosko, a CCF official, told the House Ways and Means Committee in March that the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), the United States Human Society (USHS), and the Rainforest Action Network (RAN) have, to varying degrees, supported known eco-terrorists.

© 2005 Independent Media Institute. All rights reserved.View this story online at:

Scooter Libby, about to scoot? Posted by Picasa
Indictment? Or bathroom break?
Cheney's Number One is Source for Leak

From "Cheney's aide revealed as source of CIA leak · Reporter released after naming Lewis Libby · Officials may face charge of obstructing justice" by Julian Borger Saturday October 1, 2005 The Guardian

[excerpts; emphasis added]

An investigation into a White House intelligence leak was nearing its conclusion yesterday after a New York Times reporter, jailed in July for refusing to testify, identified Vice-President Dick Cheney's leading aide as her main source.

Miller did not name that source in public, but lawyers in the case named Lewis Libby, the vice-president's chief of staff, as the government official she had spoken to in July 2003, about a CIA undercover agent, Valerie Plame.

Ms Plame is the wife of an administration critic, Joseph Wilson, who accused the White House of blowing her cover in retribution for his claims that the US had fabricated allegations of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction. Mr Wilson, a former ambassador, had said he had been sent to Africa by the CIA to look for evidence of Iraqi uranium purchases and had found none, contrary to claims by the president.

The scandal threatens the White House directly. Another journalist, Time magazine's Matt Cooper, has named Karl Rove, the president's chief political adviser, as his source for revealing Ms Plame's identity. Rove and Libby, two of the most powerful behind-the-scenes figures in the administration, have said they revealed that Mr Wilson's wife worked in the CIA and had been instrumental in sending him on the fact-finding mission. But lawyers for both officials insist they did not break the law, as they did not provide her name, and did not know she was undercover.

US media reports quoted lawyers involved in the case yesterday as saying a decision on whether to press charges could come as early as next week, in the wake of Miller's testimony.

Facing a barrage of questions yesterday, she protested: "I testified as soon I could." Miller's reputation had already been battered by stories she had written in the run-up to the Iraq invasion about Saddam Hussein's supposed weapons of mass destruction. Those reports, based largely on unnamed administration and Iraqi exile sources, were later proved to be wrong, and led to intense criticism that she had been too unquestioning of, her contacts.

The case is coming to a climax at a time when the Bush administration is mired in scandal. Last month, one of the White House's leading budget officials, David Safavian, was arrested on perjury charges. A top Republican ally in Congress, Tom DeLay, was charged on Wednesday with violating election laws, and a Pentagon analyst, Lawrence Franklin, was yesterday reported to have agreed to plead guilty in a case involving the transfer of military secrets to pro-Israel lobbyists.

Friday, September 30, 2005

The Supremes (John Roberts , sworn in as Chief Justice
Thursday, wasn't one of them) Posted by Picasa

The Daily Quote

"We do the best we can."

Gioconda Severini, my grandmother, in her later years, alternating with her other favorite saying, " You live long enough, you see everything." Her birthday--and that of my grandfather, Ignazio Severini--were celebrated at the end of September, if at all. She was born in 1896, and he in 1893.
NY Times Judith Miller to Testify Today

Judith Miller, the New York Times reporter jailed for refusing to reveal information sought by a Washington Grand Jury regarding the public revelation of Valerie Plame as a CIA covert agent , was freed from prison late Thursday, and she will testify before the Grand Jury today.

Miller agreed to testify, saying that her source, Scooter Libby, chief of staff to vice president Cheney, had given his consent. Previous witnesses to the Grand Jury mentioned Libby as a source for stories outing Valerie Plame, possibly in retaliation for Plame’s husband, Joseph Wilson, going public with the result of his investigation that showed the Bush administration’s claim that Saddam Hussein had received material from Niger to use to make atomic bombs was false. In fact, the documents are acknowledged to be forgeries.

Apart from Libby’s role, and that of Karl Rove, there are questions about Judith Miller’s role. Miller wrote many stories supporting the Bush administration case for invading Iraq, though the assertions made in them turned out to be false.

There is still considerable confusion about the circumstances of Miller's decision to testify, since Libby maintained that he gave this consent a year ago, but negotiations with Miller’s lawyers concluded recently, ending with a phone call between Miller and Libby. Officially this was to confirm his release of confidentiality, but Miller's past as a Bushcorps courier suggests the possibility that everyone is getting their stories coordinated to protect those inside the White House as well as their enablers.

No one yet knows what the result of this investigation will yield, nor its complete scope. The Grand Jury is scheduled to dissolve in October.

The New York Times story on Miller’s release and upcoming testimony is here.

This is yet another story involving key Republicans suspected of serious crimes. In the past few days, House Majority Leader Tom DeLay was forced by House rules to resign when an indictment against him for political money laundering was issued in Texas. Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist is under investigation for major stock fraud. Speaker of the House Hassert is facing serious allegations of corruption. Other ongoing corruption investigations are said to involve many members of the Bush administration and Republican leadership.

Howdy: The Final Days Posted by Picasa
This Day in Boomer History

September 30th--

1452- first book published, the Guttenberg Bible.
1946- 22 Nazi leaders convicted at Nuremberg.
1949- Berlin airlift ends after 277,000 flights.
1950- first Congress of International Astronautical Federation
opens in Paris
1960- Howdy Doody's last show: Clarabelle speaks for the first
and last time, saying "Goodbye, kids."
1962- James Meredith registers for classes at University of Mississippi
1967- BBC opens its first pop music station
1967- Kosmos 186 and 188 perform first automatic docking in space
1968- Supremes release "Love Child"
1988- IBM ships 3 millionth PS/2 personal computer.

Captain Future's Log

Resurgent Racism

Apparently touched off by events surrounding the catastrophe in New Orleans, a sudden and alarming firestorm of resurgent racism is raging. Several prominent Republicans have made racist statements in just the past few days, and there is growing evidence that stories of violence in New Orleans were exaggerated, and apparently believed because of racist assumptions.

On Wednesday, the right wing morals czar Bill Bennett said on his radio show, , "I do know that it's true that if you wanted to reduce crime you could - if that were your sole purpose - you could abort every black baby in this country, and your crime rate would go down." While this would be morally reprehensible, he added, it would have that effect.

On Thursday, the Wall Street Journal printed an oped piece by Charles Murray, author of The Bell Curve, which repeated racist stereotypes about African Americans as shiftless and criminal, “looters and thugs,” and referred to black women in New Orleans as “inert women doing nothing to help themselves or their children.”

But an oped that no one would print was by historian Rick Perlstein, which maintained that tales of rampant violence in New Orleans were inflated versions of the same racist tales that followed earlier hurricane disasters in that city. “That struck me as an important topic, the sort of thing we keep historians around for, but clearly the nation's op-ed page editors thought hysteria and reawakened racism were better for circulation,” says the
American Prospect blog. (Blogger Atrios also weighed in on this story.)

Yet on Thursday, the New York Times printed a front page story headlined
“Fear Exceeded Crime’s Reality in New Orleans.” The story said, “In an interview last week with The New York Times, Superintendent Compass said that some of his most shocking statements turned out to be untrue. Asked about reports of rapes and murders, he said: ‘We have no official reports to document any murder. Not one official report of rape or sexual assault.’

While there was some violence and some looting (some by police officers), the Times concluded as Louisiana papers had that rumor and the propensity to believe that blacks would engage in large-scale savagery fueled the rumors into gaudy stories that became accepted as fact by major news media.

The fact that in the early 21st century such racism is still so prominent is more than shocking. It is a threat to all of us. As African Americans know all too well, as long as other races are afraid and ready to believe that they are violent criminals, all African Americans are in danger of preemptive violence. Any violence invariably involves innocent bystanders and threatens the civic order.

That after decades of people of all races working side by side in every profession and job, the racial stereotypes propounded by Murray and his ilk are astonishing, but they also clearly threaten all of us. They drive a wedge between us---a politically useful wedge, because once We are separated from Them, then We are easy marks for contributions to candidates who will protect Us against Them.

The growing divide between rich and poor in America adds even more fear. The working poor are the service workers of the tourism and hotel industry in New Orleans, for example, but their lives outside of their smiling subservience are invisible to the likes of Murray and Bennett. Nor does it matter much to them or their theories that the majority of poor are white.

Last week, columnist Paul Krugman asked why every European country has provided health care for all its citizens, and the U.S. has not. His answer was startling: because the European countries are largely one race, and it is easier for them to identify with others who can’t afford expensive care---except for circumstances, they might be that person. But in America, the health care crisis is perceived to be a problem for primarily the poor, conceptualized by comparatively rich whites as black people, and therefore not people they identify with---not Us. But Them.

There are holes in his argument, but just enough substance to be striking and apt. Who gets to be one of Us is very important in America. And race is undoubtedly a factor.

Though it is not yet mentioned very much, it could well be a factor in Iraq. In Vietnam, the racial component was overt---The enemy were not only Communists, they were slopes, the 60s equivalent of slanty-eyes, or Asian. Now the term for the Evil Doers is “Muslim” but it’s clear from racial incidents that targeted anyone with dark hair and darker than fair skin after 9-11 that there is a racist component, even if coded this time.

Maybe that component is part of what makes it so apparently easy for American soldiers and mercenaries to objectify prisoners in Iraq and Guantanamo, to commit tortures and dehumanize people to produce the kind of pictures from Abu Ghirab that the U.S. government went to great lengths to suppress, but
which a judge ruled Thursday must be made public.

There is no question of excusing violence, or evading reality. There is the revelation of hidden racism---the jumping to conclusions, giving credibility for stories of violence based on race-- that has now become public. That prominent Republicans are promulgating it now is perhaps a sign of their desperation, either losing their control or as a cynical exploitation of their true believers, making sure that although their support is diminishing, that the core supporters stay---that it’s very clear who is Us and who is Them.

We have a lot of work to do just to begin meeting the challenges of the future. But if we don't become truly We, if we can't accept diversity and deal with its ordinary or temporary difficulties, we will self-destruct, and lose the survival value of more perspectives, as well as much intelligence, strength, wisdom, beauty---so much of who We are.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

from Posted by Picasa

The Daily Quote

"The lessons we learn from the wild become the etiquette of freedom."
Gary Snyder
Profiteering at the Pump

"Who profits the most when gas prices rise " by Justin Blum for the Washington Post:
reprinted the Seattle Times
[excerpts; emphasis added]

When the average price of a gallon of regular gasoline peaked at $3.07 recently, it was partly because the nation's refineries were receiving an estimated 99 cents on each gallon sold. That was more than three times the amount they earned a year ago when regular unleaded was selling for $1.87.

Companies that pump oil from the ground swept in an additional 47 cents on each gallon, a 46 percent jump over the same period.

If motorists are the big losers in the spectacular run-up in gas prices, the companies that produce the oil and turn it into gasoline are the clear winners.

The spikes caused by Hurricane Katrina — which heavily damaged oil production and refining in the Gulf region — accentuated gains the refiners and producers already were enjoying over the past year.

Exxon Mobil, the Irving, Texas, behemoth that produces and refines oil, reported in July that its second-quarter profit was up 32 percent, to $7.64 billion. Analysts expect Exxon's profit to soar again this quarter.

The rapid run-up in prices at the pump when Katrina hit — and their slow decline — has infuriated drivers, many of whom complain that oil companies used the storm as a pretext for boosting prices and profits. Politicians, including Washington state Gov. Christine Gregoire, echoed that sentiment and are calling for investigations of the oil industry.

Rising pump prices and company profits have caused lawmakers on Capitol Hill to seek legislative changes. Sen. Byron Dorgan, D-N.D., has introduced a measure that would tax some oil-company profits that are not devoted to exploration and development of new production.
"They obviously are experiencing windfall or excess profits," Dorgan said of the big oil companies. "They are ... profiting in an extraordinary way at the expense of the American consumer."

Some environmental and consumer advocates are urging the government to lower oil-company profits in another way. They want to reduce demand for gasoline, which has been growing in recent years, by requiring vehicles to get better mileage.

Consumer advocates say mergers in the refining business have diminished competition and made it easier for the companies to limit supplies of gasoline and extract higher prices.

For a company such as Exxon, producing a barrel of oil from an existing well costs about $20, according to analysts. When the selling price exceeds that, the increase is almost all profit, they said. After Katrina bore down on the Gulf Coast, the price of oil set a record, approaching $70.
Refiners processing the oil into gasoline faced lucrative market conditions. They may have had to pay producers more for the oil, but they were able to sell gasoline for higher prices as a result of the short supply and the spike on the mercantile exchange.

Station owners complain that credit-card companies are benefiting from higher pump prices. Many of those companies charge a percentage fee to the stations based on the customer's total charge. So as customers' bills rise, so do the credit-card companies' fees. As prices have risen, station owners say, more people are using credit cards.

When prices rise quickly, as they did after Katrina, refineries make a larger share of the profit because they immediately pass along price increases to buyers. But gasoline suppliers and station owners typically move more slowly in passing along price increases, limiting their profit.
Conversely, as more gasoline supplies came on the market after Katrina, prices charged by refiners for their gasoline dropped rapidly. But gas suppliers and station owners did not pass those reduced prices along as quickly, a typical pricing pattern that allows them to make up for reduced profit margins when prices were rising, analysts said.

"On the way up, one guy is making money," said Michael Burdette, an analyst with the Energy Department's Energy Information Administration. "On the way down, the other guy is."

more evidence every day Posted by Picasa

Arctic ice 'disappearing fast'
By Richard Black Environment Correspondent, BBC News website
[excerpt; emphasis added]

The area covered by sea ice in the Arctic has shrunk for a fourth consecutive year, according to new data released by US scientists. They say that this month sees the lowest extent of ice cover for more than a century.

he Arctic climate varies naturally, but the researchers conclude that human-induced global warming is at least partially responsible.They warn the shrinkage could lead to even faster melting in coming years.

"September 2005 will set a new record minimum in the amount of Arctic sea ice cover," said Mark Serreze, of the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC), Boulder, Colorado. "It's the least sea ice we've seen in the satellite record, and continues a pattern of extreme low extents of sea ice which we've now seen for the last four years," he told BBC News.

The current rate of shrinkage they calculate at 8% per decade; at this rate there may be no ice at all during the summer of 2060.

Mark Serreze believes that the findings are evidence of climate change induced by human activities. "It's still a controversial issue, and there's always going to be some uncertainty because the climate system does have a lot of natural variability, especially in the Arctic," he said. "But I think the evidence is growing very, very strong that part of what we're seeing now is the increased greenhouse effect. If you asked me, I'd bet the mortgage that that's just what's happening."

f the current trend can be ascribed in part to human-induced climate change, Mark Serreze sees major reasons for concern. "What we're seeing is a process in which we start to lose ice cover during the summer," he said, "so areas which formerly had ice are now open water, which is dark. "These dark areas absorb a lot of the Sun's energy, much more than the ice; and what happens then is that the oceans start to warm up, and it becomes very difficult for ice to form during the following autumn and winter.

"It looks like this is exactly what we're seeing - a positive feedback effect, a 'tipping-point'."

The idea behind tipping-points is that at some stage the rate of global warming would accelerate, as rising temperatures break down natural restraints or trigger environmental changes which release further amounts of greenhouse gases.

This study is the latest to indicate that such positive feedback mechanisms may be in operation, though definitive proof of their influence on the Earth's climatic future remains elusive.

Story from BBC NEWS:

from SF Chronicle. Click to enlarge. Posted by Picasa
Race to the Bottom

MAKING ENDS MEET The well-off are better off, but the ranks of the poor are growing, and middle- and low-income workers feel pressure of high prices
San Francisco Chronicle [excerpts; emphasis added]
- Jason B. Johnson, Chronicle Staff Writer

The gap between high-income and low-income Americans is widening, the ranks of the poor in California and nationwide are swelling, and middle-class workers have lost ground compared with the 1970s, several national and state studies show.

A disturbing new picture of low- and middle-income family finances is emerging from U.S. Census studies and from analyses of census and other data by the California Budget Project, the Brookings Institution, UC Berkeley researchers and organizations studying specific demographic or geographic groups.

"The increase in inequality in income is a longtime trend, but the pressure on middle- and low-income workers is going up rapidly," said Alice Rivlin, an economist at the Brookings Institution and vice chair of the Federal Reserve from 1996 to 1999. "Especially if they live in an area where there are high housing and gas prices, like California."

On Tuesday, the California Budget Project, a public policy research group in Sacramento, estimated that it takes $51,177 a year for a two-parent California family with two children to afford rental housing, commuting costs, food and other basics. The figure is $71,377 if both parents work and $53,987 for a single parent with two kids.

And on Labor Day, the Budget Project reported that California's highest-paid workers -- those in the top 10 percent -- earned 5.1 times more than workers making wages in the lowest 10 percent, up from 3.8 times more in 1979.

To get by, people work more than one job or amass credit card debt, couples work day and night shifts to avoid having to pay for child care, and adult children move back in with their parents, according to interviews with policy experts and workers.

Health care costs chew up an ever-increasing proportion of salaries. And, Ross said, the less workers earn, the less likely they are to have employer-paid health coverage.

Two reports released in August by the U.S. Census found that 1.1 million more Americans fell into poverty from 2003 to 2004. The estimated national poverty rate rose from 12.5 percent of individuals in 2003 to 12.7 percent in 2004.

An estimated 37 million Americans live below the federal poverty line, which varies by household size; in 2004, the poverty line was $18,850 for a family of four. The census estimated that the median household income was $44,648 in the United States and was $51,185 in California in both 2003 and 2004.

Middle-class workers have been hit hard by the steady disappearance since the 1970s of well-paying blue-collar jobs that high school graduates without a college degree could perform, said Steven Pitts, an economist specializing in labor issues at the UC Berkeley Center for Labor Research and Education.

African Americans in particular now face a "crisis" of low-paying jobs because those blue-collar jobs have been replaced by service-sector jobs, Pitts said.
Pitts found that the proportion of African American workers in low-wage jobs rose from 25.7 percent in 1970 to 27.8 percent in 2000. The lack of well-paying jobs makes it harder to revitalize poor urban communities, Pitts said, based on a study he released on Labor Day examining the state of African American workers in the Bay Area. Fellow UC Berkeley economist Richard Walker said income inequality is a problem in the whole nation.

Income inequities shrank during the late 1990s, but those gains appear to have evaporated, said Nancy Duff Campbell, co-president of the National Women's Law Center in Washington, D.C.

"We were making some progress, and that progress is faltering now," Duff Campbell said. "And when you put that together with the widening gaps between the income groups, then that's pretty alarming."

Executive Director Alissa Friedman at OPTIC, an East Contra Costa nonprofit agency that helps low-income people re-enter the workforce, echoed her. "It's really heartbreaking when a person has been working hard and gets a job paying $13 an hour but still is not able to support themselves," Friedman said.

long lines for hours in intense heat at relief center in
Houston--FEMA fails again. Posted by Picasa
FEMA Failing...Again

By JUAN A. LOZANO, Associated Press
[excerpts; emphasis added]

Saying they were caught off-guard by the number of people in need, FEMA officials closed a relief center early on Wednesday after some of the hundreds of hurricane victims in line began fainting in triple-digit heat.

The midday closing of the Houston disaster relief center came as officials in areas hit hardest by Hurricane Rita criticized FEMA's response to the storm, with one calling for a commission to examine the emergency response.

Across southeastern Texas, the Federal Emergency Management Agency delivered ice, water and packaged meals to residents who rode out last week's hurricane, which blew ashore at Sabine Pass in East Texas early Saturday.

But the agency was not ready for the roughly 1,500 people displaced by Hurricanes Rita and Katrina who sought help at the Houston center when it reopened Wednesday.

The line started forming Tuesday night, and as temperatures reached record highs, some people fainted and had to be carried off by police and other refugees.

Frances Deculus, 65, of Beaumont got in line at 3 a.m. and emerged shortly before the center shut down. She said that all she was able to do was register for FEMA assistance, and that she will have to return to actually get any help.

"We don't know what to do. It's frustrating. We have five small children," said Deculus, who is staying in a Houston hotel with 12 other relatives.

Local officials, including Port Arthur Mayor Oscar Ortiz and Jefferson County Judge Carl Griffith, whose county includes Beaumont, said FEMA's response has been inadequate. Griffith said he has asked Gov. Rick Perry to set up a commission to study the emergency response to Rita. Congress is holding hearings this week on the federal government's response to Katrina.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

R.I.P. author Scott Peck, dead at 69.
Photo taken July 1, 1992 by CORBIS. Posted by Picasa

The Daily Quote

"I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
I took the road less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference."

Robert Frost
Bush, Republican Congress Using Catastrophes To Aid Oil Pals and Destroy Environment

From "Green rules seen on "chopping block" post-Rita"
By Chris Baltimore [excerpts; emphasis added]

House Republicans on Wednesday will launch a rapid-fire assault against environmental protections on the pretext of helping the U.S. oil and gas industry recover from hurricane damage, environmental groups charge.

The House Energy and Commerce Committee and the House Resources Committee are holding separate meetings to finalize legislation on Wednesday, with the aim of combining them into a single energy bill for the full House to debate next week.

The resources panel, led by Richard Pombo of California, wants to lift a ban on Florida offshore drilling, promote oil shale and sell a dozen national parks for energy development.

"This really has very little to do with the hurricanes or relief efforts or even refiners. This is deregulation pure and simple," said John Walke of Natural Resources Defense Council.

Texan Joe Barton's energy committee wants to expand U.S. gasoline production by loosening federal rules that limit pollution when refineries or coal-fired power plants are expanded. U.S. gasoline supplies have tightened since hurricanes Katrina and Rita roared across the U.S. Gulf Coast, closing up to one-fourth of the nation's refining capacity.

House Republicans received a thumbs up from President George W. Bush on Monday when he said environmental rules and paperwork are obstacles holding up U.S. refinery expansions.

"We don't want more emissions but we do want to give existing industrial facilities the ability to retrofit and modernize without going through a laborious permitting process," Barton said.

A draft copy of Barton's bill would codify an EPA proposal that allows plants to expand their facilities without triggering anti-pollution rules, NRDC'S Walke said. That proposal was frozen by a federal judge in a lawsuit brought by New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer.

"If the new Barton rule were adopted it would set us back 40 or 50 years," said Judith Enck, a Spitzer aide.

It would also adopt a utility-friendly strategy that says the anti-pollution rules only apply if expansion projects boost hourly emission rates, not overall plant emissions.

Pombo's separate bill would open the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil drilling as well as letting states opt out of an offshore oil leasing ban. He also wants to sell 15 national parks for energy or commercial development, including the Mary McLeod Bethune House in Washington, D.C.

Global Heating Gases Increased by 20% in 15 years

[excerpts; full story here]

The effect of greenhouse gases on the Earth's atmosphere has increased 20 percent since 1990, a new government index says.

In its new analysis the laboratory, a branch of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, compares the amounts of carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide and chlorofluorocarbons in the air. Those gases have been sampled for many years. The index was set to a reading of 1 as of 1990 and the lab said it is currently 1.20, indicating an increase of 20 percent.

"The AGGI will serve as a gauge of success or failure of future efforts to curb carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas increases in the atmosphere both by natural and human-engineered processes," said David Hofmann, CMDL director.

The lab said most of the increase measured since 1990 is due to carbon dioxide, which now accounts for about 62 percent of the radiative forcing by all long-lived greenhouse gases.

The Earth's average temperature increased about 1 degree Fahrenheit during the 20th
century. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change warns that continuing increases could have serious effects on crops, glaciers, the spread of disease, rising sea levels and other changes.
Consumer confidence: Biggest Monthly Drop in 15 Years
All Financial Times News
Consumer Consumer confidence dropped to its lowest level in two years after Hurricane Katrina and the subsequent rise in petrol prices.

The Conference Board, the business research group, said on Tuesday that its consumer confidence index had fallen to 86.6 this month from 105.5 in August, in a survey carried out this month.

It was the biggest monthly drop in 15 years, considerably greater than the Wall Street consensus forecast of about 95. Although responents in the survey judged current conditions in the economy as relatively stable, there was a plunge in expectations for business conditions and employment six months from now.
Poll shows voters have given up on Bush

From T. Goddard's Political Wire. Note:" Democracy Corps" is an organization with Democratic Party leanings.

A new Democracy Corps poll shows the country has "lost confidence in President Bush's leadership, direction and plans for the country, and seems to have closed down on him and his conservative project.

His job approval continues downward, and 45 percent of voters say they are 'finished with him.' This is a moment when Democrats can get heard on their plans and their direction for the country, as voters are focused not just on Katrina, but even more on Iraq, the deficits, gas prices, and the economy."

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Dalai Lama (seen here in India) was in New York
and is elsewhere in America this week. AP photos. Posted by Picasa

The Daily Quote

Act without doing;
work without effort.
Think of the small as large
and the few as many.
Confront the difficult
while it is still easy;
accomplish the great task
by a series of small acts.

The Master never reaches for the great;
thus she achieves greatness.
When she runs into a difficulty,
she stops and gives herself to it.
She doesn't cling to her own comfort;
thus problems are no problems for her.

Tao Te Ching
Steven Mitchell trans., #63

Not just America, America, America Posted by Picasa
The Dalai Lama in New York: Associated Press

By ROSA CIRIANNI The Associated Press [excerpts]

PISCATAWAY, N.J. -- The Dalai Lama told 36,000 people at Rutgers Stadium that the concept of war was outdated and young people have a responsibility to make this century one of peace.

"This whole planet is just us," the 70-year-old exiled monk said Sunday. "Therefore, destruction of another area essentially is destruction of yourself."

Tibet's spiritual leader also urged the audience to develop a wider world perspective, not just focus on "America, America, America."

"His quiet mind is the kind of serenity New Jersey, home of strip malls, could use," Arielle Gomberg said.

The speech was the largest nonathletic event in Rutgers history, topping visits by former President Clinton and former U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno.

The Dalai Lama, who won the 1989 Nobel peace prize, accepted an honorary degree from Rutgers President Richard McCormick. He said it was an honor to receive it without having to work hard and study.

In his lecture, "Peace, War and Reconciliation," the Dalai Lama said society's dream should be a world free of nuclear and biological weapons.

He noted their danger _ and their expense, saying some African states have an abundance of weapons, but not enough food.

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg gave the Dalai Lama the key to the city, calling him "a moral beacon to millions around the world, with a clear and constant voice for human rights."The Dalai Lama fled Tibet in 1959 following an aborted uprising against Chinese rule in the territory and now keeps an office in exile in the Himalayan town of Dharmsala, India.

Dalai Lama: the earth is us. Posted by Picasa
The Dalai Lama in New York: NY Times

From "With Disarming Humor, the Dalai Lama Tackles Weapons and War"
By ANDREA ELLIOTT New York Times [excerpts]

The two bald monks, a combined 181 years in age, seemed oddly out of place as they sat in the bleachers of Rutgers Stadium awaiting the Dalai Lama on Sunday.

"Every year more and more people are coming to temple," said one of the monks, Yonten Gyantso, 84, who lives in a monastery in Howell, N.J. "The reason people come to hear his teachings is they trust him. There's a lot of suffering on the earth, especially this year. The teaching is medication they need to heal themselves."

Under a cool, gray sky, the Tibetan leader and 14th Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso, rose to the stage and addressed the audience with the disarming humor and message of compassion that has won him a loyal following across religions, cultures and languages. As he has in the past, the Dalai Lama began his speech with a strong dose of humility. "I have nothing to offer, no new ideas or new views," he said, laughing softly and offering his apologies in advance for being too "informal."

"We are living things, like trees and grass," he said looking out at the bright-green football field, and adding, "I don't know if this grass is true grass."

Again and again, laughter competed with applause. Still, he quickly arrived at a serious discussion of political and social conflict, calling war "out of date" and urging listeners to dream of a demilitarized world. "Eventually the whole world should be free of nuclear weapons," he said, but to arrive at external disarmament, people must first learn "internal disarmament," he said.

Seventy-five students and teachers from Princeton Day School filed into front-row bleachers well before the event began, led there by a teacher at the school who is a Buddhist.

"His message is so simple, and we've made it way too complicated," said Sybil Holland, 59, another teacher at the school. "We're forgetting how connected we are to each other."

As the Dalai Lama neared the end of his speech, he explored the difference between attachment and compassion - attachment being a selective connection shared by friends, he said, while compassion is an "unbiased" act. The two Tibetan monks, Mr. Gyantso and Japal Dorjee, 97, sat hunched and listening, their eyes closed. Nearby, a former flight attendant, Kathleen Davis, squealed. She had been taking notes on a pink piece of paper and pointed to the words "attachment" and "compassion."

"That's it!" she said. "It's one or the other. I've got the goose bumps."

In an effort to learn why FEMA chief Mike Brown did such a disastrous job responding to Katrina and the suffering in New Orleans, the Big Giant Clueless Head has reportedly appointed a consultant to investigate it: none other than the newly unemployed Mike Brown. Posted by Picasa

Captain Future's Log

With Great Disaster Comes...Great Opportunity?

Disaster is opportunity---though it may sound heartless, it is true. Though it provides an opportunity for progressives to get a potent message across (which will be the subject of another entry), right now it is the Bush administration that is using the hurricane Katrina and Rita disasters to propel several insidious proposals to further its destructive agenda.

One is the short-term objective of enriching their friends. The other two can have ramifications far into the future, and we must be aware of that.

Bush’s ratings and his agenda were deeply wounded by his careless non-response to Katrina and the suffering in New Orleans. But it’s a staple of capitalist philosophy that when you get lemons, you look first for ways to make lemonade. We need to focus on Bushcorps opportunism in order to see what they’re trying to do.

After all, we are talking about the kind of people who see warfare that kills thousands, including innocent noncombatants, as a business opportunity.

Bush and Cheney friends have already reaped billions from Iraq and Homeland Security spending. Now they’re being given no-bid contracts to profit from Katrina.
The New York Times reports:

The first detailed tally of commitments from federal agencies since Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast four weeks ago shows that more than 15 contracts exceed $100 million, including 5 of $500 million or more… More than 80 percent of the $1.5 billion in contracts signed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency alone were awarded without bidding or with limited competition, government records show, provoking concerns among auditors and government officials about the potential for favoritism or abuse.

Already, questions have been raised about the political connections of two major contractors - the Shaw Group and Kellogg, Brown & Root, a subsidiary of Halliburton - that have been represented by the lobbyist Joe M. Allbaugh, President Bush's former campaign manager and a former leader of FEMA.

"When you do something like this, you do increase the vulnerability for fraud, plain waste, abuse and mismanagement," said Richard L. Skinner, the inspector general for the Department of Homeland Security, who said 60 members of his staff were examining Hurricane Katrina contracts. "We are very apprehensive about what we are seeing."

It’s the same financial opportunism that is behind attempts to steer energy policy in ways that will continue to harm the natural environment while refusing to make needed changes to lessen future global heating and develop a sustainable energy future.

While Bush suggested Monday that drivers conserve fuel and federal employees take public transportation, it was all as a temporary measure because of possible short-term gasoline shortages, with no reference to long-term needs for sustainability and alternative fuels and practices.

Bush also proposed relaxing federal regulations on building new oil refineries. While additional refineries may be needed (or need to be relocated), “relaxing regulations” is mostly code for making it cheaper for his oil industry pals, by ignoring environmental impact and pollution concerns, as well as accountability. Bushcorp has already used rising gasoline prices as an argument for drilling in the Arctic wilderness sanctuary, even though it will have no significant effect on supply or prices.

But perhaps the most potentially threatening proposal is one that Bush snuck into his New Orleans speech on September 15, and repeated to little comment over the weekend: he wants to give the Pentagon primary responsibility for responding to disasters, natural and man-made.

The AP reports:

Political leaders led by President Bush are considering how and when the military should take greater control of relief efforts during national disasters. And one answer may be to ensure that the president has the authority to bring in the armed forces during extraordinary circumstances…. White House press secretary Scott McClellan said the push is ``one of the lessons learned'' from Hurricane Katrina.

This is the White House that turned the impulse to protect the nation against terrorism into the twin terrors of Homeland Security, now revealed to be an extravagant boondoggle, and the Patriot Act, which is best known for lacerating the civil liberties of all Americans, and giving agencies of the federal government—particularly the Pentagon—vast powers to act against citizens in secret and without accountability.

Among the result have been systematic human rights abuses and torture at Guantanamo and elsewhere, No-Fly lists that are this decade’s equivalent of the Blacklist, and cart blanche for spying on what individuals write in emails, say on the phone, have in their homes or read in library books.

This is the White House that sent American forces, including reserve and National Guard, into Iraq with a series of impossible and contradictory missions for which they were inadequately trained and improperly led. The havoc unleashed there every day in incalculable.

There is good reason that the role of the military in domestic interventions has been limited by law. The military is a blunt instrument, to say the least. Virtually untrained in “peacekeeping” and “nation building,” even with those missions, troops meet most of what they interpret as resistance with violence. The more insecure the situation, the more potential for abusive violence, as is evidenced by reports from Iraqi civilians.

When military units finally took over the nearly empty streets of New Orleans, several reporters---
including NBC anchor Brian Williams ---reported alarming incidents of overreaction and threats of violence against reporters and others.

Then there are the mercenaries, the trained killers of Black Water and other such firms, operating under military authority, a potential privatized Secret Police for the right wing Bushcorps.

Giving the lead to the Pentagon is a stunning admission of failure of civilian agencies and their abilities. FEMA under Bill Clinton and as constituted by Jimmy Carter operated admirably in past disasters by working cooperatively with state and local civilian authorities.

National Guard units trained for domestic emergencies are an important tool for those officials responsible for responding to disaster. Regular armed forces units can also be useful in greater emergencies. But ceding the lead role to the Pentagon is a recipe for fascism in our time.

This issue is already creating strange political bedfellows. Supporting Bush’s position are Democratic Senator Joe Lieberman (perhaps not so surprising) who claims that this proposal will receive wide congressional support.

``We're going to look back at Katrina as a turning point,'' Sen. Joe Lieberman, D-Conn., said Sunday. ``We need the military, because of its extraordinary capabilities, to be ready to play a much more active role. I don't think it's going to be that difficult from a congressional point of view.''

Opposing the Pentagon takeover are Democrats Mary Landrieu of Louisiana, but also Republican Tom DeLay and the libertarian
Cato Institute, which issued its warning against giving the Pentagon this supremacy right after Bush’s New Orleans speech.

While giving the Pentagon this power may seem sensible to some, the ramifications and potential for abuse are ominous. What kind of emergency will result in heavily armed troops in the streets of our cities, invading homes and suppressing dissent? Even the chilling effect of a military presence is enough to exert control in a way that is completely incompatible with a free society.

This cannot be allowed to become another rushed response to a disaster which we will soon have cause to regret, as we did after 9-11. With great disasters comes great opportunities. We would be wise to thwart these right away.

Monday, September 26, 2005

Brits Plan to Go Home

From "Britain to pull troops from Iraq as Blair says 'don't force me out' · Defence Secretary confident withdrawal will start in May · Plan follows pressure for exit strategy" by Peter Beaumont and Gaby Hinsliff in The Observer . Excerpts, emphasis added. Full story here.

British troops will start a major withdrawal from Iraq next May under detailed plans on military disengagement to be published next month, The Observer can reveal.

The document being drawn up by the British government and the US will be presented to the Iraqi parliament in October and will spark fresh controversy over how long British troops will stay in the country. Tony Blair hopes that, despite continuing and widespread violence in Iraq, the move will show that there is progress following the conflict of 2003.

Britain has already privately informed Japan - which also has troops in Iraq - of its plans to begin withdrawing from southern Iraq in May, a move that officials in Tokyo say would make it impossible for their own 550 soldiers to remain.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

AP photo. Posted by Picasa

The Daily Quote

"We are, or are entitled to be, the heroes of at least our own lives. And that may be the most empowering and subversive insight available in the pre-millennial, postmodern era.
Act on it."

Barbara Ehrenreich

Photo by Rick McKay/Cox Washington Bureau) Posted by Picasa
March on Washington: Washington Post

from "Antiwar Fervor Fills the StreetsDemonstration Is Largest in Capital Since U.S. Military Invaded Iraq" via Raw Story

By Petula Dvorak
Washington Post Staff Writer Sunday, September 25, 2005; A01

Tens of thousands of people packed downtown Washington yesterday and marched past the White House in the largest show of antiwar sentiment in the nation's capital since the conflict in Iraq began.

The demonstration drew grandmothers in wheelchairs and babies in strollers, military veterans in fatigues and protest veterans in tie-dye. It was the first time in a decade that protest groups had a permit to march in front of the executive mansion, and, even though President Bush was not there, the setting seemed to electrify the crowd.

Signs, T-shirts, slogans and speeches outlined the cost of the Iraq conflict in human as well as economic terms. They memorialized dead U.S. troops and Iraqis, and contrasted the price of war with the price of recovery for areas battered by hurricanes Katrina and Rita. Riffs on Vietnam-era protests were plentiful, with messages declaring, "Make Levees, Not War," "I never thought I'd miss Nixon" and "Iraq is Arabic for Vietnam."

Many in the crowd had protested in the 1960s; others weren't even born during those tumultuous years.

Protest organizers estimated that 300,000 people participated, triple their original target. D.C. Police Chief Charles H. Ramsey, who walked the march route, said the protesters achieved the goal of 100,000 and probably exceeded it. Asked whether at least 150,000 showed up, the chief said, "That's as good a guess as any."

"It's their protest, not mine. It was peaceful -- that's all I care about," Ramsey said.

AP photo Posted by Picasa
March on Washington: Sunday Herald

From Caitriona Palmer in Washington DC

THE biggest gathering of anti-war protestors in America since the invasion of Iraq came together outside the White House yesterday demanding the end of the war in Iraq and the immediate withdrawal of US troops.

Under the gaze of uniformed sharp shooters huddled on the roof of the White House, speakers rallied the crowd, estimated by police to be at least 100,000-strong, to frenzied cries of “Troops Out Now” and “No More War”. President Bush was not in the building at the time, having left to monitor hurricane relief efforts in Houston.

“We’re here to show our government and media that we mean business and that we’re not going home until every one of our troops is home”, shouted Cindy Sheehan to screams of approval from the crowd.

She was supported yesterday by Scottish mother Rose Gentle, who travelled to Washington last Monday to join Sheehan on her US tour. Gentle’s 19-year-old son Gordon, a Royal Highland Fusilier, was killed by a roadside bomb in Basra last June.

Their anti-war message was driven home later by another Scot, George Galloway. The MP for Bethnal Green, currently on a speaking tour in the US, told the crowd: “My presence on this demonstration and peace activist Tom Hayden’s on the London rally is a recognition of the fact that our two leaders are the biggest rogue leaders in the world and that we are standing shoulder to shoulder, united in opposing them.

“We are the ones who love the soldiers. We love them so much we don’t want them to die for Bush and Blair’s pack of lies.”

As a festival atmosphere prevailed, families with young children picnicked on the grass while weathered anti-war activists held aloft peace signs and rainbow flags. Venders under white tents conducted a brisk trade in anti-war memorabilia. A woman in denim stood holding an apple pie and sign that read: “Mom, Apple Pie And Peace.”

Wearing a T-shirt that read: “My Man Is In Iraq And I Want him Back”, 25-year-old Katey Dyck held aloft a photograph of her husband, Scott Dyck, 31, who is currently serving in the US army in Baghdad.

“He hates it there,” she said. “It’s hard to be shot at every day and not know why you’re there to begin with. Why send my husband to a war based on a lie?”

Medea Benjamin, 53, co-founder of Code Pink, a women’s peace group that helped organize the protest, explained the objective of yesterday’s march.

“We hope that it will be a re-energization of the peace movement,” she said. “We want to get people out in large numbers to put pressure on congress and start legislation to bring the troops home”.

But standing next to a banner that read: “End The War In Iraq, Bring The Troops Home Now”, 33 year-old Anita Davis admitted that objective might seem a little unrealistic. “I don’t think this protest will get them home, but it may encourage them to get out faster,” said Davis.

Dale Locke, an accountant from Atlanta, Georgia, agreed. “My purpose in coming here today is to pressure Congress to come up with a strategy to make peace,” she said. “Staying the course is not working. I just want a solution. I can see us heading towards another Vietnam”.

The anti-war movement, which only a year ago seemed to face an overwhelming struggle, is buoyed by opinion polls that show a steady rise in scepticism about justifications for the war and the reassurances offered by the Bush administration.

In a poll taken a week ago, 59% of Americans now say the war was a mistake, an all-time high. Bush’s approval ratings are also plummeting, with the war clearly a major factor.

A growing number of Americans say that the troops need to be brought home soon, under some kind of timetable. Some Republicans in Congress are privately expressing reservations, worried about financial costs, shifting public sentiment and a gnawing suspicion that the occupation is a magnet for terrorists

Recent events in New Orleans following the devastation of Hurricane Katrina seemed to have added fuel to the protesters’ fire. Many protesters wore T-shirts that read: “Make Levees Not War”. Angry denouncements from the podium by speakers of the federal government’s relief efforts in Louisiana drew boos and hisses from the crowds.

Leenie Halbert, 32, from New Orleans, left the flooded ninth ward district yesterday to come to DC to protest. She had planned on marching in DC prior to Hurricane Katrina but said that the Bush administration’s response to relief efforts had heightened her anger.

“I can’t even begin to measure how much the hurricane has changed things for me”, said Halbert. “I’ve come here today because what they’ve done in Iraq is what they’re doing to my city right now”.

Tibetan monks lead the march. Brother Feldspar photo from Booman Trib. Posted by Picasa
March on Washington: New York Times

excerpts from "Antiwar Rallies Staged in Washington and Other Cities "


Vast numbers of protesters from around the country poured onto the lawns behind the White House on Saturday to demonstrate their opposition to the war in Iraq, pointedly directing their anger at President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney.

A sea of anti-administration signs and banners flashed back at a long succession of speakers, who sharply rebuked the administration for continuing a war that has cost the lives of nearly 2,000 Americans and many more Iraqis. Many of the speakers also charged Mr. Bush with squandering resources that could have been used to aid people affected by the two hurricanes that slammed into the Gulf Coast.

As protesters moved from the rally to a march around the White House, they packed city streets, and in some areas, came face to face with groups of pro-administration demonstrators, who held up signs expressing support for the war.

Organizers of the rally and march had a permit for 100,000 people, but the National Park Service no longer provides official estimates for large gatherings in Washington.

Rallies held on Saturday in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle and other cities drew considerably smaller crowds, but unlike the more varied themes of recent protests against administration policies, antiwar sentiment on Saturday was consistent throughout. In Washington, it was evident from the start, as an organizer screamed over the microphone, "Let Bush and Cheney and the White House hear our message: Bring the troops home now."

Brother Feldspar photo DC march from Booman Trib. Posted by Picasa
March on Washington: Associated Press

[excerpts; emphasis added]

Crowds opposed to the war in Iraq surged past the White House on Saturday, shouting "Peace now" in the largest anti-war protest in the nation's capital since the U.S. invasion.

The rally stretched through the day and into the night, a marathon of music, speechmaking and dissent on the National Mall. Police Chief Charles H. Ramsey, noting that organizers had hoped to draw 100,000 people, said, "I think they probably hit that."

Speakers from the stage attacked President Bush's policies head on, but he was not at the White House to hear it. He spent the day in Colorado and Texas, monitoring hurricane recovery.

In the crowd: young activists, nuns whose anti-war activism dates to Vietnam, parents mourning their children in uniform lost in Iraq, and uncountable families motivated for the first time to protest.

Connie McCroskey, 58, came from Des Moines, Iowa, with two of her daughters, both in their 20s, for the family's first demonstration. McCroskey, whose father fought in World War II, said she never would have dared protest during the Vietnam War.

"Today, I had some courage," she said.

While united against the war, political beliefs varied. Paul Rutherford, 60, of Vandalia, Mich., said he is a Republican who supported Bush in the last election and still does — except for the war.

"President Bush needs to admit he made a mistake in the war and bring the troops home, and let's move on," Rutherford said. His wife, Judy, 58, called the removal of Saddam Hussein "a noble mission" but said U.S. troops should have left when claims that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction proved unfounded.

"We found that there were none and yet we still stay there and innocent people are dying daily," she said.

"Bush Lied, Thousands Died," said one sign. "End the Occupation," said another. More than 1,900 members of the U.S. armed forces have died since the beginning of the war in March 2003.

Folk singer Joan Baez marched with the protesters and later serenaded them at a concert at the foot of the Washington Monument. An icon of the 1960s Vietnam War protests, she said Iraq is already a mess and the troops need to come home immediately. "There is chaos. There's bloodshed. There's carnage."

The protest in the capital showcased a series of demonstrations in foreign and other U.S. cities. A crowd in London, estimated by police at 10,000, marched in support of withdrawing British troops from Iraq. Highlighting the need to get out, protesters said, were violent clashes between insurgents and British troops in the southern Iraq city of Basra.

In Rome, dozens of protesters held up banners and peace flags outside the U.S. Embassy and covered a sidewalk with messages and flowers in honor of those killed in Iraq.

Cindy Sheehan, the California mother who drew thousands of demonstrators to her 26-day vigil outside Bush's Texas ranch last month, won a roar of approval when she took the stage in Washington. Her 24-year-old son, Casey, was killed in Iraq last year.

"Shame on you," Sheehan admonished, directing that portion of her remarks to members of Congress who backed Bush on the war. "How many more of other people's children are you willing to sacrifice?

She led the crowd in chanting, "Not one more."

Separately, hundreds of opponents of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund danced to the beat of drums in the Dupont Circle part of the city before marching toward the White House to join the anti-war protesters.

Jesse Jackson & Cindy Sheehan in DC.
AP photo. Posted by Picasa
Cindy Sheehan Goes to Washington

Her speech ended:

"But the most important thing is that people die everyday in Iraq for absolutely no reason and for lies. We have to say NOW because the people on the other side are saying NEVER. We can't compromise, we can't say please, and we can't retreat. If we do, our country is doomed. We have to honor the sacrifices of our loved ones by completing the mission of peace and justice. It is time. Bring our troops home, NOW."


Captain Future's Log

In commenting on Saturday's peace marches, inevitably the phrase "preaching to the congregation" is going to come up to demean their effectiveness. I catch the drift of the saying but basically it is nonsense. For who else does a preacher preach to but the congregation?

Certainly these marchers want to convince others of the rightness of their cause, but that effect is either out of their control (insofar as it's based on media coverage) or a secondary result. That effect is gained through the enthusiasm of the crowd and the beauty of the event, more than any words spoken from a podium.

Does anyone believe that people go to a candidate's rally to weigh his or her arguments? They may go skeptically, but they go for the feel, to sense the energy, to get a read on the person and his or her effect on fellow voters. If they are only interested in positions on issues, they can read all about them. But they go for the energy. So do the partisans. They all go for touch.

A peace demo's main effect is for the congregation to get a good look at each other. It is to have the common feeling, to be inspired, encouraged and energized. They can be missionaries when they go home, in their city, their neighborhood, their workplace.

These events tells people they aren't alone, and these events enact the love and beauty that the participants individually feel and desire. Beauty may be in the eyes of the beholder, so not everyone watching from afar is going to like what they see. But some will.

Maybe they will be surprised to see people just like them. Or like people they want to be. Or maybe their doubts or leanings are crystallized by a clever sign, or a potent symbol, or the testimony of a participant. And they will be enboldened to speak out in their communities.

And should it be necessary---as sadly, it probably will be--for people to demonstrate for peace (or healthcare or the environment, voting rights etc.) in five or ten years, some will remember being inspired by the peace marches of September 24, 2005. Just as some of its participants were enthralled by seeing or hearing about the crowds who congregated in Washington in 1971 or 1968 ir 1963.

Random Notes

This past week, thanks largely to a link from Raw Story to the Log entry bidding farewell to the NY Times columnists , Dreaming Up Daily had over 400 visitors in two days, and its best week overall. A diary based on the "Defeating ourselves with fear" post was on the recommended list for a full day at The Booman Tribune community blog.
Bush's Crisis Itinerary at Mercy of Weather---
Even Nice Weather

By DAVID E. SANGER New York Times [excerpts]

SAN ANTONIO, Sept. 23 - President Bush was supposed to land here on Friday afternoon on the first stop of a tour intended to make clear that he was personally overseeing the federal government's preparations for Hurricane Rita's landfall. But the weather did not cooperate.

It was too sunny.

Just minutes before Mr. Bush was scheduled to leave the White House, his aides in Washington scrubbed the stop in San Antonio. Scott McClellan, the White House press secretary, explained that the search-and-rescue team that Mr. Bush had planned to meet and thank here in San Antonio was actually packing up to move closer to where the hurricane would strike.

So instead, Mr. Bush flew straight to Colorado Springs, where he plans to monitor the response to the hurricane from the headquarters of the Northern Command, responsible for the military defense of the United States.

In a White House that likes to choreograph the president's appearances days or weeks ahead, it was a reminder that the newest strategy - to put Mr. Bush close to the center of the action - had its risks.

But clearly someone at the White House reconsidered the President's impact. When Mr. McClellan announced that the president had scrapped his trip, he said that with the search-and-rescue team preparing to move with the storm, "we didn't want to slow that down."

Another White House official involved in preparing Mr. Bush's way noted that with the sun shining so brightly in San Antonio, the images of Mr. Bush from here might not have made it clear to viewers that he was dealing with an approaching storm.


Purging the Poor in New Orleans
by Naomi Klein

[excerpt; emphasis added:]

Listening to [lobbyist] Drennen enthuse about the opportunities opened up by the storm, I was struck by his reference to African-Americans in New Orleans as "the minority community." At 67 percent of the population, they are in fact the clear majority, while whites like Drennen make up just 27 percent. It was no doubt a simple verbal slip, but I couldn't help feeling that it was also a glimpse into the desired demographics of the new-and-improved city being imagined by its white elite, one that won't have much room for Nyler or her neighbors who know how to fix houses. "I honestly don't know and I don't think anyone knows how they are going to fit in," Drennen said of the city's unemployed.

New Orleans is already displaying signs of a demographic shift so dramatic that some evacuees describe it as "ethnic cleansing."