Saturday, November 29, 2003

Did Bush serve turkey and all the trimmings for breakfast or dinner in Baghdad? 

Did the Bushies snooker the American people again by leading them to believe that George W. was serving up turkey to the troops in Baghdad in a time period one would normally eat Thanksgiving dinner? Or were the troops rousted from their beds, as Wayne Madsen reports in Wag the Turkey, to serve as pawns in the greatest P.R. stunt since Bush landed on the deck of the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln beneath a banner that declared, "Mission Accomplished?"

In a story datedlined Baghdad, Nov. 27, which appeared in the Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times and The Telegraph of Calcutta, India, Post reporter Mike Allen wrote that Bush landed in Iraq's capital at approximately 5:20 a.m. on Thanksgiving Day. Yet, in today's International Herald Tribune, New York Times reporters Jacques Steinberg and Jim Rutenberg wrote, "By 9:35 a.m. Eastern Standard time the following day [Thanksgiving Day], the journalists, including writers from The Associated Press, Bloomberg News and Reuters, as well as a camera crew from Fox News, would touch down with the president in Iraq." That would have made it 5:35 p.m. in Baghdad.

So which was it? Were the troops forced to down a turkey dinner for breakfast in order to provide Bush with another bloody photo-op at taxpayer expense or did Allen get the time wrong in his article? After all what is 12 hours one way or another, eh?

Friday, November 28, 2003

GAO sustains protest against DOJ contract award 

On November 24, 2003, the General Accounting Office (GAO) put out this notice:

TDS, Inc., B-292674, November 12, 2003

TDS, Inc. protests the issuance of a task order to Northrop Grumman Information Technology under request for quotations (RFQ) No. OJP-2003-Q-014, issued by the Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs (OJP), to acquire help desk operation services. TDS maintains that ... the agency misevaluated quotations and failed to engage in meaningful discussions.

We sustain the protest.

Why is Ashcroft's Justice Department so anxious to give a contract for its help desk operation services, in support of its Information Technology (IT) requirements, to Northrop Grumman, one of the nation's largest military contractors? And why is DOJ migrating from a Novell-based environment to a Microsoft Window-based environment, when Windows has shown itself prone to viruses, worms, Trojans, etc?

Sunday, November 23, 2003

AARP cheerleaders embrace GOP's poison pill prescription for seniors 

The Bushies and the Republicans keep showing us time and time again that there is nothing they won't stoop to or lie about. Now, with one of their own, William D. Novelli, ensconced as chairman of AARP, they are on the path to their wet dream of destroying Medicare under the guise of providing prescription drug benefits to senior citizens.

By this time, most people are aware that this bill is nothing but another gift to the pharmaceutical and insurance industries. Yet, AARP, which is spending $7 million of its members' money on TV and newspaper ads, says it ain't perfect, but "we can't wait for perfect." Right, so you cut seniors' throats by prohibiting them from buying prescription drugs at much lower costs from Canada, require them to kick out an average of $35 a month, plus an annual deductible of $275, in exchange for getting up to 75 percent of their costs picked up by Medicare until they reach $2,200 in drug costs, after that they get nothing until they have paid $3,600 out of pocket to trigger the next phase that will pay 95 percent of their costs. Oh yes, this madness doesn't begin until 2006, so in the meantime poor seniors can continue choosing between buying food or prescription drugs, unless they want to buy, in 2004 and 2005, a discount card that will save them a whole 15 percent on their prescription costs, because the bill also makes buying prescription drugs from foreign sources illegal. Such a deal not!

Then there is the part to force seniors -- except it's called giving them a "choice" -- out of the Medicare program and into private HMOs. So the healthiest will get picked off by the private insurers and the sickest will have to rely on what is left of the Medicare program. In both cases, premiums will continue to rise as nothing will be done to rein in costs. As a matter of fact, $12 billion of your tax dollars will be given, as a gift (called subsidies), to private insurers that offer basic health insurance.

And these are just some of the horrors in this bill, which include increases in the Medicare deductible, premiums based on income, and cuts in payments to home health care services.

Of course, a universal health care system for all is too simple for Republicans to contemplate. Never mind that it would save billions. Can't have that when it would deprive their biggest campaign donors -- the pharmaceutical and insurance industries -- of obscene profits. So, rather than these sham bills, why not just shoot everyone over 65 who suffers a costly illness? That later could be expanded to anyone who can't afford to pay for medical care or prescription drugs. It would be a hell of a lot kinder and help the overpopulation problem, too.

Tuesday, November 11, 2003

A warm fuzzy for Veterans' Day 

The Bushies who keep telling us how we must support our troops, while George tries to keep cutting their benefits, are now trying to prevent a group of Gulf War I veterans from collecting from Iraqi assests frozen in the US the money a court awarded them for the torture they were subjected to while being held as prisoners of war.

While the Bush regime is trying to keep this move quiet, its lawyers, who so far are winning, thanks to an executive order Bush signed prior to illegally invading Iraq last March confiscating the Iraqi assests and converting them to assets of the US government, are arguing that the funds are needed to help rebuild Iraq.

Last May, Bush signed a declaration that removed Iraq from the list of countries liable to court judgments for rights abuses and links to terrorism..

So much for supporting our troops, past and present, eh?

Credit reporting bureaus are preparing to outsource your credit history to foreigners 

It's not enough that identity theft is soaring at home, now Equifax and Trans Union, with Experian soon to follow, are going to send your credit files to foreign vendors who will deal with credit disputes.

Equifax has contracted with a vendor in Jamaica. Trans Union apparently is in negotiations with a vendor in India.

Despite their claims about safeguarding all your sensitive personal information, it soon will be in the hands of foreigners in countries where US laws, as bad as they are when it comes to identity theft, cannot be enforced.

To hear Trans Union tell it, the move was prompted in part by Congress amending the Fair Credit Reporting Act to require the credit reporting agencies to provide those who request them with free copies of their credit reports, something which Trans Union says will cost the agenices as much as $350 million a year.

Immediate pressure needs to be applied to Congress to halt this worldwide invitation to stealing our identities before it is too late and to deal harshly with domestic identity thieves, as well.


Credit agencies sending our files abroad

White House decrees that it will answer no more questions from Democrats 

According to Dana Millbank in last Friday's Washington Post, King George's director of the White House Office of Administration, Timothy A. Campen, sent an email to the majority and minority staffs of the House and Senate Appropriations Committees that all embarrassing questions from Democrats, regarding what the Bushies are doing with the people's money, will henceforth be submitted to the committee chairmen -- all Republicans, of course -- who then can decide whether to submit them in writing from the committee(s) or file them in the trash.

Millbank said the wording of Campen's email suggested "the policy may extend to other inquiries about the functioning of the Executive Office of the President, but the immediate targets were the spending committees."

Thomas Mann, a Brooking Institution government scholar, told Millbank that while this latest tactic (can you say flipping the bird?) to hide the Bushies' evil doings "violates long-standing norms," there is nothing the Democrats can do about it except "carp."

Impeachment, anyone? How much more of the lies, the 9/11s, the bogus war on terrorism, the illegal invasions that are killing our troops and innocent civilians is Congress going to take? Surely there must be some sane Republicans on the Hill and some Democrats who can find their spines.

Iraqi resistance fighters are to no longer be called 'resistance fighters' by reporters for the LA Times 

George W.'s complaint about "media filters" has gotten through to the editors at the Los Angeles Times, as well as the network newsies who, since Bush expressed his displeasure, have been playing up the "good" things happening in Iraq.

Talk about self-censorship, the latest of which, according to the Nov. 7 Sydney Morning Herald (you thought you would read about this in US newspapers?), is the Times' declaration, in an email to the staff, that calling Iraqi resistance fighters just that romanticizes them and "evokes World War II-era heroism." From now on the Iraqi resistance fighters will be referred to as insurgents or guerillas. Hey, how about calling them "leftist guerillas?" The media used to love to label armed groups that fought against oppressive governments favored and propped up by Washington "leftist guerillas."

Monday, November 10, 2003

Is Rumsfeld suffering from early Alzheimer's? 

How to explain Donald Rumsfeld vehement denial of things he previously said on camera and before congressional committees? Has George W. Bush's Strangelovian war secretary gone over the edge? Does this devious war-monger who is so full of himself think he can get away with anything he pleases? If his brain isn't being attacked by Alzheimer's disease might he have cooked it by ingesting toxic aspartame that he is responsible for getting the Federal Food and Administration to approve for human consumption?

For instance, last Feb 20, a month before Bush's illegal invasion of Iraq, he said on PBS' The News Hour, in response to a question from host Jim Lehrer about whether the Iraqis would welcome the invaders, "There is no question but that they would be welcomed." Yet on Sept. 25, when a reporter brought up his pre-invasion comments to Lehrer, Rumsfeld said, "Never said that. Never did. You may remember it well, but you're thinking of somebody else. You can't find, anywhere, me saying anything like either of those two things you just said I said."

In Sept. 18, 2002, testimony before the House Armed Services Committee, Rumsfeld that Saddam Hussein "has amassed large clandestine stocks of biological weapons." Those weapons included "anthrax and botulism toxin and possibly smallpox. His regime has amassed large clandestine stockpiles of chemical weapons, including VX and sarin and mustard gas," he said.

He repeated those charges the next day before the Senate Armed Services Committee and kept hammering away in the weeks leading up to the invasion.

Now Rumsfeld denies he made those statements. He is also weasling on comments he made in a March 30 ABC News interview when he emphatically said, regarding Saddam's alleged weapons of mass destruction, "We know where they are. They're in the area around Tikrit and Baghdad and east, west, south and north somewhat." During a Sept. 10 appearance before the National Press Club, he said, "I said, 'We know they're in that area.I should have said, 'I believe we're in that area. Our intelligence tells us they're in that area,' and that was our best judgment."

Is this guy playing with a full deck or does he think the people are that stupid? We haven't quite gotten to the Memory Hole stage yet, but be assured that Rummy's Propaganda Ministry is working on it.


Rumsfeld Denies He Ever Made Several Pre-war Statements

How Aspartame Became Legal - The Timeline

For more information on aspartame and Rumsfeld, go to Google and enter: Rumsfeld, aspartame, Searle.

Scandal: Wal-Mart, P&G; involved in secret RFID testing  

Excerpts from November 10, 2003 news release
by CASPIAN - Consumers Against Supermarket Privacy Invasion and Numbering:

American consumers used as guinea pigs for controversial technology

Wal-Mart and Procter & Gamble conducted a secret RFID trial involving Oklahoma consumers earlier this year, the Chicago Sun Times revealed on Sunday. Customers who purchased P&G;'s Lipfinity brand lipstick at the Broken Arrow Wal-Mart store between late March and mid-July unknowingly left the store with live RFID tracking devices embedded in the packaging. Wal-Mart had previously denied any consumer-level RFID testing in the United States.

The Chicago Sun Times also reported that a live video camera trained on the shelf allowed Procter & Gamble employees, sometimes hundreds of miles away, to observe the Lipfinity display and consumers interacting with it.

"This trial is a perfect illustration of how easy it is to set up a secret RFID infrastructure and use it to spy on people," says Katherine Albrecht, Founder and Director of Consumers Against Supermarket Privacy Invasion and Numbering (CASPIAN). "The RFID industry has been paying lip service to privacy concerns, calling for notice, choice and control. But companies like P&G;, Wal-Mart and Gillette have already violated all three tenets when they thought nobody was looking. This is exactly why we oppose item-level RFID tagging and have called for mandatory labeling legislation."

Disclosure of the Broken Arrow trial is only the latest scandal to hit the privacy plagued RFID industry. Early this year, CASPIAN called for a worldwide boycott of Italian clothing manufacturer Benetton when the company announced plans to equip women's undergarments with live RFID tracking tags (see Boycott Benetton). This summer, CASPIAN uncovered an RFID-enabled Gillette "smart shelf" in a Brockton, Massachusetts Wal-Mart and helped disclose Gillette's scheme to secretly photograph consumers picking up Mach3 razor blades in UK Tesco stores (see Boycott Gillette). The group also revealed confidential industry plans to "pacify" consumers and "neutralize opposition" in the hope that consumers will be "apathetic" and "resign themselves to the inevitability" of RFID product tagging (see: CASPIAN).

CASPIAN encourages consumers to contact Wal-Mart, P&G; and the UCC to voice their opinion about the use of RFID spy chips in consumer products. Contact information for these companies is provided on the group's RFID website.

Tuesday, November 04, 2003

The Cowardly Broadcasting System (CBS) 

In cancelling the Reagan miniseries, CBS wants us to believe that pressure from right-winger Brent Bozell's Media Research Center, which was pressuring major advertisers not to buy commercial time, or Republican National Committee Chairman Ed Gillespie had nothing to do with the decision. Nope, not a thing.

CBS's sorry excuse is that the program wasn't balanced enough. In other words, Uncle Ronnie was shown to have some flaws and we all know he was a saint. Think Grenada. Think Lebanon. Think Iran-contra. And those are just for openers. Remember, Ronald Reagan told us trees pollute (not to worry, though, George W. Bush is going to fix that problem under his Healthy Forests Initiative -- it's called chopping them down), ketchup is a vegetable as he cut funding for school lunches and welfare recipients, in their limos, picked up their benefit checks on the way to the liquor store.

So, rather than upset its right-wing infantile, but oh so powerful, constituency, CBS is handing the film over to Showtime that happens to be owned by CBS's parent corporation Viacom. Apparently CBS and Viacom think Showtime is what the grownups watch while the unwashed revel in the network's bogus reality shows.

Today's New York Times quotes the former president's son, Michael, as saying on ABC's Good Morning America that he wanted CBS "to show Ronald Reagan for what he is." Are you sure about that, Michael?

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