Congress Votes to Weaken Organic Standards Despite Widespread Consumer

Changes Were Sought by Large-Scale Food Processors to Cut Costs of Meeting Current Law.


The Organic Trade Association (OTA) and food processors have been pressing Congress to change the Organic Foods Production Act (OFPA) to allow for the use of numerous synthetic substances in products labeled "organic" and to weaken organic dairy standards.

A recent court decision ruled that the OFPA does not allow synthetic (non-natural) ingredients to be used in foods labeled "organic" and that the act must ensure a strong standard under which dairy cows are converted to organic milk production. After rejecting efforts by members of the public interest and environmental community to reach an agreement on these issues, major food processors in the organic food industry, including Smucker's, Dean Foods, and Kraft, pushed Congress to "quietly" change the law to allow the use of such synthetic ingredients and potentially weaken the organic dairy standards.

"Congress voted last night to weaken the national organic standards that consumers count on to preserve the integrity of the organic label," said Ronnie Cummins, National Director of the Organic Consumers Association.. "The process was profoundly undemocratic and the end result is a serious setback for the multi billion dollar alternative food and farming system that the organic community has so painstakingly built up over the past 35 years. The rider will take away the traditional role of the organic community and the National Organic Standards Board in monitoring and controling organic standards. Industry's stealth attack has unnecessarily damaged the standards that helped organic foods become the fastest growing sector in the food industry."

As passed, the amendment sponsored by the Organic Trade Association allows:

· Numerous synthetic food additives and processing aids, including over 500 food contact substances, to be used in organic foods without public review.

· Young dairy cows to continue to be treated with antibiotics and fed genetically engineered feed prior to being converted to organic production.

· Loopholes under which non-organic ingredients could be substituted for organic ingredients without any notification of the public based on "emergency decrees."

The amendment was vigorously opposed by consumer, retail and growers groups, as well as public health and environmental groups, including National Cooperative Grocers Association, National Organic Coalition and Rural Advancement Foundation International ­ USA, Beyond Pesticides, National Campaign for Sustainable Agriculture, Organic Consumers Association, and Consumers Union. Consumers sent more than 300,000 letters to Congress imploring members to stand up against industry's efforts to weaken the organic standards.

In October 2002, just days after the rules governing organic under NOP were implemented, Maine blueberry farmer Arthur Harvey filed suit against USDA claiming that the USDA regulations governing foods labeled "organic" contravened several principles of the OFPA. Having initially lost on all counts, Harvey prevailed in January 2005 when the Court of Appeals ruled in his favor on the three counts finding:

1. Synthetic substances are not permitted in processing of items labeled as "organic," and only allowed in the "made with organic" labeling category.

2. Provisions allowing up to 20-percent non-organic feed in the first nine months of a dairy herd's one-year conversion to organic production are not permitted.

3. All exemptions for the use of non-organic products "not commercially available in organic form" must be reviewed by National Organic Standards Board, and certifiers must review the operator's attempt to source organic.

Organic Consumers Association


OK say it with me now . . . Petro-Euro.

Iran's nuclear projects, alleged WMD's, or its supposed support of "terrorist organisations" as the Bush administration claims does not pose a threat to Washington. What does pose as a threat is Iran's attempt to re-shape the global economical system by converting it from a petro-dollar to a petro-euro system. Such a conversion is looked upon as a flagrant declaration of economical war against the U.S. which would flatten the revenues of the American corporations and could eventually cause an economic collapse.

In June 2004, Iran declared its intention in setting up an international oil exchange (a bourse) denominated in the Euro currency. Many oil-producing as well as oil-consuming countries had expressed their welcome to such petro-euro bourse.

According to Iranian reports this bourse is due to start trading in early 2006. Naturally such an oil exchange would compete against London's International Petroleum Exchange (IPE), as well as against the New York Mercantile Exchange (NYMEX), both owned by American corporations.

Oil consuming countries have no choice but to use the American Dollar in order to purchase their oil, since the dollar has so far been the global standard monetary fund for oil exchange. This in turn requires these countries to keep the dollar in their central banks as their reserve fund, therefore 'helping' in strengthening the American economy.

However, if Iran, followed by other oil-producing countries, begins to accept the Euro as another choice for oil exchange the American economy would suffer greatly, what many would call 'a real crisis'.


How Will Schwarzenegger Respond to Tookie Williams?

By Earl Ofari Hutchinson

By now many know the story of Stanley "Tookie" Williams, courtesy of the smash performance by Academy Award-winning actor Jamie Foxx, who played Williams in the made-for-TV film "Redemption." The story of the co-founder of the Crips street gang is a gory tale of mayhem and destruction -- and also a saintly tale of spiritual renewal, public service and human achievement. The whole of Tookie's story could be headed for a tragic end when his execution date is formally set. That could happen at an Oct. 24 hearing in Los Angeles.

California Attorney General Bill Lockyer has made it clear that he'll push hard for an execution date. On Oct. 11 the U.S. Supreme Court refused to reopen Williams' case. That pretty much slammed the legal door shut on one of America's most famous death row inmates. Williams, convicted of four murders committed during two robberies, has languished on death row for nearly a quarter of century. He says he is innocent and claims he got a bad shake: a mostly white jury convicted him, he got a sub-par legal defense and his case was based largely on testimony from jailhouse informants.


Ethnic Cleansing, GOP-style

By Mike Davis, Mother Jones Online

In a recent email to Louisiana officials, FEMA curtly turned down the state's request for funding to notify displaced residents that they could cast absentee ballots in the city's crucial February mayoral election. FEMA also declined to share data with local authorities about the current addresses of evacuees.

In the eyes of many local activists, FEMA's refusal to support the voting rights of evacuees is consistent with a larger pattern of federal inaction and delay that seems transparently designed to discourage the return of black residents to the city. As one Associated Press dispatch presciently warned, "Hurricane Katrina [may] prove to be the biggest, most brutal urban-renewal project black America has ever seen."

In the weeks since Bush's Jackson Square speech, FEMA has alarmingly failed to advance any plan for the return of evacuees to temporary housing within the city or to connect displaced locals with reconstruction jobs. Moreover for lack of a tax base or emergency federal funding, local governments in afflicted areas have been forced to lay off thousands of employees and are unable to restore many essential public services.

Bush's promise to promptly help the region's unemployed--282,000 in Louisiana alone--has turned into slow-moving House legislation that would benefit less than one-quarter of those made jobless by Katrina. The powerful House Republican Study Group has vowed to support only relief measures that buttress the private sector and are offset by reductions in national social programs such as food stamps, student loans, and Medicaid.


The Hypocritical NBA Dress Code

In the movie White Men Can't Jump Woody Harrelson's character gave voice to the unspoken thought of many player haters. The truth is, he said, black players would rather look pretty than win, while white players would rather win than look pretty.

Maybe life does imitate art. The new NBA dress code will make the league look more ''professional'' but it also validates the fictional black thug caricature so frighteningly real in the popular imagination.

So, whether white men can or can't jump doesn't matter. As long as they own the teams, they don't have to jump. In fact, when they say jump, they expect their money-makers to ask, how high?



Sacrifice a way of life for Guillen

Sometimes the “Old Ways” really are best. SOX WIN!!!

Something you believe that very few people do?

There are any number of safe and careful places Ozzie Guillen could have gone with this answer when asked during spring training. But the manager of the Chicago White Sox doesn't do safe and careful. What fun is that? So Guillen didn't say he believed in everlasting love, second chances or the designated hitter. He settled on this:

''I've got a real weird religion,'' Guillen said.


''Santeria,'' he said.

It's a bloody religion, imported from Africa. Guillen believes in animal sacrifice.

Heck, if Chicago fans had known it would work like this, they might have endorsed human sacrifice.

You kill animals, Ozzie?

''Back in my country [Venezuela], yes, I do,'' Guillen said.

He realized how this sounded and blurted, unsolicited, just in case you didn't like it:

``Too bad.''

You kill with your own hands?

''I pay people to do it,'' Guillen said.

What kind of animals?

''Depends on what you need,'' he said.



Remarks by Governor Ben S. Bernanke

Deflation: Making Sure "It" Doesn't Happen Here

Deflation great enough to bring the nominal interest rate close to zero poses special problems for the economy and for policy. First, when the nominal interest rate has been reduced to zero, the real interest rate paid by borrowers equals the expected rate of deflation, however large that may be. To take what might seem like an extreme example (though in fact it occurred in the United States in the early 1930s), suppose that deflation is proceeding at a clip of 10 percent per year. Then someone who borrows for a year at a nominal interest rate of zero actually faces a 10 percent real cost of funds, as the loan must be repaid in dollars whose purchasing power is 10 percent greater than that of the dollars borrowed originally. In a period of sufficiently severe deflation, the real cost of borrowing becomes prohibitive. Capital investment, purchases of new homes, and other types of spending decline accordingly, worsening the economic downturn.


Rice charms and chills as she warns Canada to negotiate softwood impasse

U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice hadn't even left town Tuesday afternoon before the righteous indignation of the Liberal government started anew. Rice wrapped up a 22-hour visit to Canada - the first in her role as America's top diplomat - with cordial words but nary a sign of any give on some of Canada's key bilateral complaints. She assured Canadians that the word of the United States is "as good as gold" but straight-armed demands for the immediate return of $3.5 billion in contested softwood lumber duties.


Nanofabrication to lead to Quantum Computer

The team of scientists headed by professor Jeremy Levy at Pitts University has developed nanofabrication tools. The team has an electron beam lithography and nano engineering workstation - with an electron beam capable of adding and taking away from materials to create incredibly small objects. This according to Prof. Levy could lead to create a quantum computer, and it could break all codes on the Internet. Nano-fabrication is a technology that has the ability to create and destroy on a very small scale. Pitt now has a Raith electron beam lithography and Nan engineering workstation - with an electron beam capable of adding and taking away from materials to create incredibly small objects.



Construction prices might continue to rise in 2005

Ask anyone who had to get construction under contract in 2004 and they’ll tell you it was no easy task.

Prices in Nevada and California jumped tremendously during the year. Will it continue?

Hard to say, but let’s look at what happened to construction prices, why it happened and what is likely to continue into this year.

In the early part of 2004, prices of many construction materials dramatically jumped. And for most of us, it was unexpected.

The March 22 cover story of Engineering News-Record, the most widely read construction magazine, was “Steel price crisis…hikes stun construction.”


Asian financial crisis 1997


The king of real estate's cashing out

NEW YORK (Fortune) - Tom Barrack, arguably the world's greatest real estate investor, is methodically selling off his U.S. real estate holdings as prices drive the market to nosebleed levels.

He likens the current real estate market to a game of polo.

"I feel totally safe playing polo on a field full of pros," says the bronzed 58-year old. "But when amateurs are all over the field, someone can get killed. They have more guts than brains. They charge after every ball and don't know when to hold back."

It's the same with U.S. real estate right now. "There's too much money chasing too few good deals, with too much debt and too few brains." The amateurs are going to get trampled, he explains, taking seasoned horsemen, who should get off the turf, down with them.

Says Barrack: "That's why I'm getting out."



We Now Live in a Fascist State

From Lewis H. Lapham’s article in Harper’s

"But I venture the challenging statement that if American democracy ceases to move forward as a living force, seeking day and night by peaceful means to better the lot of our citizens, then Fascism and Communism, aided, unconsciously perhaps, by old-line Tory Republicanism, will grow in strength in our land." -Franklin D. Roosevelt, November 4, 1938

In 1938 the word "fascism" hadn't yet been transferred into an abridged metaphor for all the world's unspeakable evil and monstrous crime, and on coming across President Roosevelt's prescient remark in one of Umberto Eco's essays, I could read it as prose instead of poetry -- a reference not to the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse or the pit of Hell but to the political theories that regard individual citizens as the property of the government, happy villagers glad to wave the flags and wage the wars, grateful for the good fortune that placed them in the care of a sublime leader. Or, more emphatically, as Benito Mussolini liked to say, "Everything in the state. Nothing outside the state. Nothing against the state."

The several experiments with fascist government, in Russia and Spain as well as in Italy and Germany, didn't depend on a single portfolio of dogma, and so Eco, in search of their common ground, doesn't look for a unifying principle or a standard text. He attempts to describe a way of thinking and a habit of mind, and on sifting through the assortment of fantastic and often contradictory notions -- Nazi paganism, Franco's National Catholicism, Mussolini's corporatism, etc. -- he finds a set of axioms on which all the fascisms agree. Among the most notable:

The truth is revealed once and only once.

Parliamentary democracy is by definition rotten because it doesn't represent the voice of the people, which is that of the sublime leader.

Doctrine outpoints reason, and science is always suspect.

Critical thought is the province of degenerate intellectuals, who betray the culture and subvert traditional values.

The national identity is provided by the nation's enemies.

Argument is tantamount to treason.

Perpetually at war, the state must govern with the instruments of fear. Citizens do not act; they play the supporting role of "the people" in the grand opera that is the state.



Navy, Marines Block Commercial Email Sites
Hotmail account not working? Or Yahoo!?

It’s not a glitch with the computer connection.

On Tuesday, the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps blocked all access to commercial e-mail services, such as Yahoo!, Hotmail, America Online and Google, from overseas government computers.

And not just at office workstations.

The block includes access to e-mail services from computers at base libraries and liberty centers that are connected to an official government network.

“This concerns us, because so many of our patrons won’t be able to access their e-mail, and many come to the library to do just that,” said Ciro Giordano, supervisory librarian at Naval Support Activity Naples, Italy.

But access to such services leaves the unclassified government network too susceptible to hackers and computer viruses, said Neal Miller, a senior plans and policy manager with Naval Network Warfare Command in Norfolk, Va.

“By going through some of the commercial Web-based e-mail accounts, it opens up vulnerabilities to government-run networks and presents too high [of a] risk to be acceptable,” Miller said.

The policy covers sailors, Marines and DOD employees and contractors using Navy Department computers, and applies to those downrange who operate on Navy computer systems.


Cheney cabal hijacked US foreign policy’


By Edward Alden in Washington

Vice-President Dick Cheney and a handful of others had hijacked the government's foreign policy apparatus, deciding in secret to carry out policies that had left the US weaker and more isolated in the world, the top aide to former Secretary of State Colin Powell claimed on Wednesday.

In a scathing attack on the record of President George W. Bush, Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson, chief of staff to Mr Powell until last January, said: “What I saw was a cabal between the vice-president of the United States, Richard Cheney, and the secretary of defense, Donald Rumsfeld, on critical issues that made decisions that the bureaucracy did not know were being made.

“Now it is paying the consequences of making those decisions in secret, but far more telling to me is America is paying the consequences.”

Mr Wilkerson said such secret decision-making was responsible for mistakes such as the long refusal to engage with North Korea or to back European efforts on Iran.

It also resulted in bitter battles in the administration among those excluded from the decisions.

“If you're not prepared to stop the feuding elements in the bureaucracy as they carry out your decisions, you are courting disaster. And I would say that we have courted disaster in Iraq, in North Korea, in Iran.”

The comments, made at the New America Foundation, a Washington think-tank, were the harshest attack on the administration by a former senior official since criticisms by Richard Clarke, former White House terrorism czar, and Paul O'Neill, former Treasury secretary, early last year.

Mr Wilkerson said his decision to go public had led to a personal falling out with Mr Powell, whom he served for 16 years at the Pentagon and the State Department.

“He's not happy with my speaking out because, and I admire this in him, he is the world's most loyal soldier."

Among his other charges:

■ The detainee abuse at Abu Ghraib and elsewhere was “a concrete example” of the decision-making problem, with the president and other top officials in effect giving the green light to soldiers to abuse detainees. “You don't have this kind of pervasive attitude out there unless you've condoned it.”

■ Condoleezza Rice, the former national security adviser and now secretary of state, was “part of the problem”. Instead of ensuring that Mr Bush received the best possible advice, “she would side with the president to build her intimacy with the president”.

■ The military, particularly the army and marine corps, is overstretched and demoralised. Officers, Mr Wilkerson claimed, “start voting with their feet, as they did in Vietnam. . . and all of a sudden your military begins to unravel”.

Mr Wilkerson said former president George H.W. Bush “one of the finest presidents we have ever had” understood how to make foreign policy work. In contrast, he said, his son was “not versed in international relations and not too much interested in them either”.

“There's a vast difference between the way George H.W. Bush dealt with major challenges, some of the greatest challenges at the end of the 20th century, and effected positive results in my view, and the way we conduct diplomacy today.”


Here we go Again??

Boom times ahead in networking?


When Reeves went looking for a second round of funding earlier this year for his current company, a telecommunications equipment maker called Mangrove Systems, he landed $21 million, bringing the total capital raised to $42 million. And more than six months after it closed its latest round of funding, new investors are still trying to give the company money, he said.

"It's not so easy for everyone," Reeves said. "But for the start-ups with solid teams who have done this before and who have a strong business plan, there's plenty of money available, and no short supply of people trying to invest it."

Habitual Liar Brains Look Different On Scans

A USC study has found the first proof of structural brain abnormalities in people who habitually lie, cheat and manipulate others.

While previous research has shown that there is heightened activity in the prefrontal cortex – the area of the brain that enables most people to feel remorse or learn moral behavior – when normal people lie, this is the first study to provide evidence of structural differences in that area among pathological liars.


The Pentagon has reneged

WASHINGTON – The Pentagon has reneged on its offer to pay a $15,000 bonus to members of the National Guard and Army Reserve who agree to extend their enlistments by six years, according to Sen. Patty Murray (D-Seattle).

The bonuses were offered in January to Active Guard and Reserve and military technician soldiers who were serving overseas. In April, the Office of the Secretary of Defense for Reserve Affairs ordered the bonuses stopped, Murray said.



EFF Reveals Codes in Xerox Printers

Have you hugged a Hacker today?

Just because a document from a color laser printer doesn't carry your name doesn't mean no one can trace it back to you, privacy advocates warn.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation says it has cracked the tracking codes embedded in Xerox Corp.'s DocuColor color laser printers. Such codes are just one way that manufacturers employ technology to help governments fight currency counterfeiting.

"Underground democracy movements ... will always need the anonymity of simple paper documents, but this technology makes it easier for governments to find dissenters," said Lee Tien, EFF senior staff attorney. "Even worse, it shows how the government and private industry make backroom deals to weaken our privacy by compromising everyday equipment like printers."

Researchers found patterns of yellow dots arranged in 15 by 8 grids and printed repeatedly over every color page, said Seth Schoen, a staff technologist at the San Francisco-based civil-liberties group.

The dots are visible only with a magnifying glass or under blue light, which causes the yellow dots to appear black.

By analyzing test pages printed out by supporters worldwide and by staffers at various FedEx Kinko's locations, researchers found that some of the dots correspond to the printers' serial numbers. Other dots refer to the date and time of the printing.



From Geodesic to Monolithic Domes

by David B. South

While attending high school in Idaho back in the 1950's I attended a lecture given by Buckminster Fuller. He was promoting the geodesic dome. I was instantly fascinated with the concept of a building which, because of it's shape, would cover more area with less materials than any other structure. For many years I worked on the geodesic domes but I found they wasted too much material and could not be built big enough for what I wanted. I didn't foresee just building domes; I envisioned building huge domes.

The Geodesic dome was the basis of inspiration for the Monolithic Dome. By utilizing the dome concept, incorporating my knowledge of polyurethane foam and concrete and doing a lot of research on the subject, the details of what is now the Monolithic Dome slowly came to me. This method proved much more efficient and less wasteful and I knew they could be built BIG.

The Monolithic Dome is a permanent structure which is energy efficient, cost effective, disaster resistant and attractive. They have real strength. They can withstand the force of a tornado, hurricane or earthquake. They cannot burn, rot or be eaten by bugs. They are energy efficient -- saving up to fifty percent or more on heating and cooling costs compared to a comparable conventional building.

The term "Monolithic" means "one piece" which is indicative of Monolithic buildings, specifically the Monolithic Dome. The completed structure is literally one piece. The structural materials such as the foam and concrete are applied in such a manner that it acts as a single component. In general, the Monolithic structure is built using an Airform. Monolithic Domes and structures built using the Monolithic method generally take the shape of a figure that can be inflated. For instance, we can inflate a pipe, we can inflate a dome, but we have a terrible time trying to inflate a flat wall.

A Monolithic dome is a thin shell concrete structure. "Thin shell" is defined as a structure that is made using single or compound curves from a variety of materials, including but not limited to metal, wood, concrete, brick, etc. These structures form a curve and from that shape derive most of their strength. The old World War "Quonsets" is a type of thin shell. The hyperbolic roof, elliptical roofs and barrel vault roofs are varied types of thin shells.

Homemade Natural Gas

Our cow-manure-and-water slurry began producing gas a week after we half-filled THE MOTHER EARTH NEWS' digester with waste. This was unusually fast action (we had added no special cultures of bacteria or other starters to the slurry) and, as might be expected, we were quite excited by the activity. In the best "safety first" tradition, we bled off the first two bonnetfuls of gas (since the initial flow of methane could mix with air already inside the digestion chamber to form a potentially explosive combination). Dad then ran an ordinary garden hose from a petcock on the bonnet to an old two-burner gas stove, opened the valves, struck a match ... and began frying eggs over a very hot flame.


Venezuela's Chavez Orders U.S. Missionary Group Working With Indigenous Tribes to Leave Country

The Associated Press

BARRANCO YOPAL, Venezuela - Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez ordered a U.S.-based Christian missionary group working with indigenous tribes to leave the country Wednesday, accusing the organization of "imperialist infiltration" and links to the CIA.

Chavez said missionaries of the New Tribes Mission, based in Sanford, Fla., were no longer welcome during a ceremony in a remote Indian village where he presented property titles to several indigenous groups.

"The New Tribes are leaving Venezuela. This is an irreversible decision that I have made," Chavez said. "We don't want the New Tribes here. Enough colonialism!"

He accused the missionaries of building luxurious camps next to poor Indian villages and circumventing Venezuelan customs authorities as they freely flew in and out on private planes.

The group is involved in "true imperialist infiltration, the CIA, they take away sensitive, strategic information," Chavez said, without elaborating. "And on top of that, exploiting the Indians."


Piracy Spins a Global Web

Before a single frame of "Spider-Man 2" was shot, Sony Pictures Entertainment launched a global effort to protect its summer blockbuster from piracy.

During production, daily film footage was locked overnight in vaults. When Sony conducted preview screenings on its Culver City lot, guests were subjected to airport-style identification checks, metal detector scans and surveillance by security guards with infrared goggles.

"Everyone got wanded at every screening," said Jeff Blake, the studio's vice chairman. "Film reviewers, talent agents, artist managers, even Sony executives — including me."

Each of the 10,000 theatrical prints was embedded with a unique digital tracking code. Sony also took the extraordinary precaution of delivering seven reels of film to each multiplex in two well-guarded shipments before its June 30, 2004, premiere at a minute past midnight.

One of those cinemas was the Loews Kips Bay Theatre in Manhattan. And somewhere in that first early-morning audience sat a bootlegger with a camcorder, the first link in a network of rampant global piracy.

Four hours after its premiere, a copy of "Spider-Man 2" was on the Internet. By morning, counterfeit DVDs showed up for sale in malls and makeshift stalls in the Philippines.

Kilpatrick Loses Ear-'Bling' For Mayoral Run

In what appeared to be a new campaign tactic, Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick removed his trademark diamond earring. "As long as I am mayor of this town, I'll never put it back in," said Kilpatrick. Kilpatrick campaigned for re-election Wednesday night without his earring, Local 4 reported. The mayor said he removed it the day after a September debate with challenger Freman Hendrix. Kilpatrick said he watched video footage of the debate and decided, "It's time for it to go." Kilpatrick, who has embraced his reputation as a hip-hop mayor, has sported the earring for several years, Local 4 reported. "It was insignificant to me, but it was so significant to the people of this city," said Kilpatrick. Full

“It wasn’t that significant to me.”


Then, punk, you shouldn’t have had it in the first place.

I’m not saying a man can’t change. But if you went in with it on . . . you punk ass BITCH! Where was this logic with the big ass truck, the strip clubs, and the misappropriation of funds? You think removing an earring is going to all of the sudden help your credibility? Try not fucking up the city of Detroit. See what that will do for your credibility. To some folk I know, right and left mean something. Blue and red mean something. Five and six mean something. A name tattooed means something more than a passing trend. Stop frontn’. Now you may not agree with what these things mean but at least respect what they represent, misguided though you think they may be. Some things are deeper than an individual, some things have been paid for in blood and some things have been fought and won over generations. I’m tired of people adopting shit because they think it’s fashionable. From baseball caps to crosses; from tattoos to earrings. Vanity is not a good enough reason. Damn brother, as big as you are . . . you need to get your weight up.

Bush Teleconference With Soldiers Staged

Bush's PSYOP Busted

By DEB RIECHMANN, Associated Press Writer

It was billed as a conversation with U.S. troops, but the questions President Bush asked on a teleconference call Thursday were choreographed to match his goals for the war in Iraq and Saturday's vote on a new Iraqi constitution.

"This is an important time," Allison Barber, deputy assistant defense secretary, said, coaching the soldiers before Bush arrived. "The president is looking forward to having just a conversation with you."

Barber said the president was interested in three topics: the overall security situation in Iraq, security preparations for the weekend vote and efforts to train Iraqi troops.

As she spoke in Washington, a live shot of 10 soldiers from the Army's 42nd Infantry Division and one Iraqi soldier was beamed into the Eisenhower Executive Office Building from Tikrit — the birthplace of former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein.

"I'm going to ask somebody to grab those two water bottles against the wall and move them out of the camera shot for me," Barber said.

A brief rehearsal ensued.

"OK, so let's just walk through this," Barber said. "Captain Kennedy, you answer the first question and you hand the mike to whom?"

"Captain Smith," Kennedy said.

"Captain. Smith? You take the mike and you hand it to whom?" she asked.

"Captain Kennedy," the soldier replied.

And so it went.

"If the question comes up about partnering — how often do we train with the Iraqi military — who does he go to?" Barber asked.

"That's going to go to Captain Pratt," one of the soldiers said.

"And then if we're going to talk a little bit about the folks in Tikrit — the hometown — and how they're handling the political process, who are we going to give that to?" she asked.

Before he took questions, Bush thanked the soldiers for serving and reassured them that the U.S. would not pull out of Iraq until the mission was complete.

"So long as I'm the president, we're never going to back down, we're never going to give in, we'll never accept anything less than total victory," Bush said.

The president told them twice that the American people were behind them.

"You've got tremendous support here at home," Bush said.

Less than 40 percent in an AP-Ipsos poll taken in October said they approved of the way Bush was handling Iraq. Just over half of the public now say the Iraq war was a mistake.

White House press secretary Scott McClellan said Thursday's event was coordinated with the Defense Department but that the troops were expressing their own thoughts. With satellite feeds, coordination often is needed to overcome technological challenges, such as delays, he said.

"I think all they were doing was talking to the troops and letting them know what to expect," he said, adding that the president wanted to talk with troops on the ground who have firsthand knowledge about the situation.

The soldiers all gave Bush an upbeat view of the situation.

The president also got praise from the Iraqi soldier who was part of the chat.

"Thank you very much for everything," he gushed. "I like you."

On preparations for the vote, 1st Lt. Gregg Murphy of Tennessee said: "Sir, we are prepared to do whatever it takes to make this thing a success. ... Back in January, when we were preparing for that election, we had to lead the way. We set up the coordination, we made the plan. We're really happy to see, during the preparation for this one, sir, they're doing everything."

On the training of Iraqi security forces, Master Sgt. Corine Lombardo from Scotia, N.Y., said to Bush: "I can tell you over the past 10 months, we've seen a tremendous increase in the capabilities and the confidences of our Iraqi security force partners. ... Over the next month, we anticipate seeing at least one-third of those Iraqi forces conducting independent operations."

Lombardo told the president that she was in New York City on Nov. 11, 2001, when Bush attended an event recognizing soldiers for their recovery and rescue efforts at Ground Zero. She said the troops began the fight against terrorism in the wake of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and were proud to continue it in Iraq.

"I thought you looked familiar," Bush said, and then joked: "I probably look familiar to you, too."

Paul Rieckhoff, director of the New York-based Operation Truth, an advocacy group for U.S. veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan, denounced the event as a "carefully scripted publicity stunt." Five of the 10 U.S. troops involved were officers, he said.

"If he wants the real opinions of the troops, he can't do it in a nationally televised teleconference," Rieckhoff said. "He needs to be talking to the boots on the ground and that's not a bunch of captains."


Drug agents can't keep up with pot growers

Mexican criminals using sophisticated methods have spread the marijuana industry across California, traditionally the nation's main domestic source because of a mild climate and vast stretches of isolated landscape ideal for clandestine growing, say the authorities.

As recently as 10 years ago, the Emerald Triangle counties of Humboldt, Mendocino and Trinity grew virtually all of the state's pot. Now every California county that's not desert has a problem. Because of tighter security on the southern U.S. border, Mexicans simply made a business decision to move north.

"In the last two or three years almost 100% of the gardens we've eradicated are Mexican drug cartel gardens," says James Parker, the senior narcotics agent who oversees CAMP. "It's alarming if you think about it."

Today's high potency weed is so valuable - $5,000 or more for a pound of buds on the East Coast - that big operators employ armed guards who camp in pot gardens for months, nurturing plants that grow to 15 feet and taller. A state Fish and Game officer was wounded and a suspect shot and killed in a Santa Clara County bust in June, the fourth incident in two years.

Chechen Rebels Claim Credit for Attacks

Scores of Islamic militants launched simultaneous attacks on police and government buildings in this city in Russia's turbulent Caucasus region Thursday, sparking battles that killed at least 49 people.

Chechen rebels claimed responsibility for the attacks, which forced the evacuation of schools and left corpses littering the streets of Nalchik, the capital of the republic of Kabardino-Balkariya.

The Chechen rebels' decade-long struggle against Russia, originally a separatist movement, has melded increasingly with Islamic extremism in the past decade and spread far beyond Chechnya's borders to encompass the whole turbulent Russian Caucasus region.

Miers' Faith

Allowed?? This is why we are being over run. Because those who pose as advocates for an alternative view are more concerned with access and popularity than they are with advancing their political position.

"We were told we weren't even allowed to bring up the topic of religion when John G. Roberts was nominated for the Supreme Court," the Rev. Barry W. Lynn, executive director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, said in a statement. "Anyone who did was quickly labeled a bigot. Now Bush and Rove are touting where Miers goes to church and using that as a selling point. The hypocrisy is staggering."


Lap Dance Dead in LA?

What am I going to do with all these ones? What about the tip drill? You can’t smoke, you can’t drink, and now you can’t even get a lap dance! This country is going to hell in a hand basket!!

Will the six-foot rule send Los Angeles' adult dance clubs six feet under?

The controversial no-touch regulation, which first roiled city politics two years ago, was revived Tuesday when the Los Angeles Police Commission recommended passage of a measure that would effectively end the practice of nude or lightly clad dancers writhing in customers' laps.

The Los Angeles City Council first passed a rule in 2003 to keep exotic dancers six feet from their customers, then repealed it after strip club owners threatened to put the issue on a citywide ballot.

At Councilman Jose Cardenas' request, the commission took up the rule again Tuesday. In addition to the six-foot separation, the ordinance would ban patrons from personally tipping dancers and restrict performers to raised stages with railings.


Air Force Sued Over Religion

If you are wondering whether or not we have had a problem with religious ideologist infiltrating the military and if that is going to pose a problem in the future? We have had such a confluence of influences before in this country, where rabid Christo-Fascism infiltrates the apparatus of state (the machinery and monopoly of violence). They were called the Ku Klux Klan, later Dixiecrats and Goldwater Republicans.

A New Mexico man sued the Air Force on Thursday, claiming Air Force Academy senior officers and cadets illegally imposed Christianity on others at the school. The suit was filed in federal court by Mikey Weinstein, an academy graduate and outspoken critic of the school's handling of religion. Over the past decade or more, the suit claims, academy leaders have fostered an environment of religious intolerance at the Colorado school, in violation of the First Amendment.
Weinstein claims that evangelical Christians at the school have coerced attendance at religious services and prayers at official events, among other things.


A Yale study found:

The U.S. Air Force Academy failed to accommodate minority beliefs but there is no overt religious discrimination at the college, an Air Force report on the religious climate at the institution said on Wednesday. The report was prompted by allegations that the prestigious academy in Colorado Springs, Colorado, which produces junior officers for the Air Force, promotes evangelical Christianity and a climate of intolerance toward other religious beliefs. "There was a lack of awareness on the part of some faculty and staff, and perhaps cadets in positions of authority, as to what constitutes appropriate expressions of faith, particularly in this setting: in superior-subordinate relationships in a government institution," Air Force Lt. Gen. Roger Brady, who headed the report, told a Pentagon briefing.

The U.S. Constitution mandates a separation of church and state.

A team from Yale Divinity School said in April it found evangelical Christian proselytizing commonplace at the academy, which has about 4,400 students, and cited "stridently evangelical themes" by staff. The team described a campus chaplain telling cadets they would "burn in the fires of hell" if they were not born-again Christians.


Barry Goldwater's 1964 Acceptance Speech

"Now, those who seek absolute power, even though they seek it to do what they regard as good, are simply demanding the right to enforce their own version of heaven on earth, and let me remind you they are the very ones who always create the most hellish tyranny."



Separate and Unequal – the legacy of integration in education

I was at Negritude and caught this post: Jonathan Kozol talks about contemporary segregation. One little problem, the post is entitled the re-segregation of America’s schools. Which would be fine if they had ever been integrated. We should really take a look at history and realize that LBJ’s great society never happened, African Americans were never really integrated into “America.” (Thanks Cynthia) Don’t mistake tokenism and hand outs for integration.


Breaking America's grip on the net


You would expect an announcement that would forever change the face of the internet to be a grand affair - a big stage, spotlights, media scrums and a charismatic frontman working the crowd.

But unless you knew where he was sitting, all you got was David Hendon's slightly apprehensive voice through a beige plastic earbox. The words were calm, measured and unexciting, but their implications will be felt for generations to come.

Hendon is the Department for Trade and Industry's director of business relations and was in Geneva representing the UK government and European Union at the third and final preparatory meeting for next month's World Summit on the Information Society. He had just announced a political coup over the running of the internet.

Old allies in world politics, representatives from the UK and US sat just feet away from each other, but all looked straight ahead as Hendon explained the EU had decided to end the US government's unilateral control of the internet and put in place a new body that would now run this revolutionary communications medium.

The issue of who should control the net had proved an extremely divisive issue, and for 11 days the world's governments traded blows. For the vast majority of people who use the internet, the only real concern is getting on it. But with the internet now essential to countries' basic infrastructure - Brazil relies on it for 90% of its tax collection - the question of who has control has become critical.

And the unwelcome answer for many is that it is the US government. In the early days, an enlightened Department of Commerce (DoC) pushed and funded expansion of the internet. And when it became global, it created a private company, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (Icann) to run it.

But the DoC retained overall control, and in June stated what many had always feared: that it would retain indefinite control of the internet's foundation - its "root servers", which act as the basic directory for the whole internet.

A number of countries represented in Geneva, including Brazil, China, Cuba, Iran and several African states, insisted the US give up control, but it refused. The meeting "was going nowhere", Hendon says, and so the EU took a bold step and proposed two stark changes: a new forum that would decide public policy, and a "cooperation model" comprising governments that would be in overall charge.

Much to the distress of the US, the idea proved popular. Its representative hit back, stating that it "can't in any way allow any changes" that went against the "historic role" of the US in controlling the top level of the internet.

But the refusal to budge only strengthened opposition, and now the world's governments are expected to agree a deal to award themselves ultimate control. It will be officially raised at a UN summit of world leaders next month and, faced with international consensus, there is little the US government can do but acquiesce.




HOG Butcher for the World,
Tool Maker, Stacker of Wheat,
Player with Railroads and the Nation's Freight Handler;
Stormy, husky, brawling,
City of the Big Shoulders:

They tell me you are wicked and I believe them, for I
have seen your painted women under the gas lamps
luring the farm boys.
And they tell me you are crooked and I answer: Yes, it
is true I have seen the gunman kill and go free to
kill again.
And they tell me you are brutal and my reply is: On the
faces of women and children I have seen the marks
of wanton hunger.
And having answered so I turn once more to those who
sneer at this my city, and I give them back the sneer
and say to them:
Come and show me another city with lifted head singing
so proud to be alive and coarse and strong and cunning.
Flinging magnetic curses amid the toil of piling job on
job, here is a tall bold slugger set vivid against the
little soft cities;

Fierce as a dog with tongue lapping for action, cunning
as a savage pitted against the wilderness,
Building, breaking, rebuilding,
Under the smoke, dust all over his mouth, laughing with
white teeth,
Under the terrible burden of destiny laughing as a young
man laughs,
Laughing even as an ignorant fighter laughs who has
never lost a battle,
Bragging and laughing that under his wrist is the pulse.
and under his ribs the heart of the people,
Laughing the stormy, husky, brawling laughter of
Youth, half-naked, sweating, proud to be Hog
Butcher, Tool Maker, Stacker of Wheat, Player with
Railroads and Freight Handler to the Nation.

White Sox Sweep Red Sox: Fuck Boston!

To: The City of Big Shoulders

Na na na na; na na na na; hey hey hey goood byyyye! Ozzy !!

Dearly beloved we are gathered together to celebrate this thing we call life. Electric word life it means forever and that’s a mighty long time. So if the elevator tries to break you down . . .

Ain’t nobody else talkin’ shit like this. Should we apologize? FUCK IT just leave ‘em pissed.

There are a few things in life which bring me joy, you know . . . enthusiasms. A beautiful women, a baby’s smile, a warm summer day and those half hearted East coast dilettantes from Boston getting swept by the Men in Black. Am I grinning? Ear to ear Baby! Yes, they may have a world championship title, but when they faced the Southside (represent!) well . . . I’ll say it this way . . . 3-0. Out manned, out gunned, and out spent – still it's about Heart. SOX WIN!!!!

There are those who love Boston as if it were something more than a pale imitation of New York, the homestead of murderous, puritanical, inept Pilgrims, or the wellspring of genocidal, racist, maniacs (read Puritans). But every Blue moon, every (under)dog will have their day. Do or die.

To the Southsiders out there enjoy the day!

Sox Win! Sox Win!

Catholic Church no longer swears by truth of the Bible


THE hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church has published a teaching document instructing the faithful that some parts of the Bible are not actually true.

The Catholic bishops of England, Wales and Scotland are warning their five million worshippers, as well as any others drawn to the study of scripture, that they should not expect “total accuracy” from the Bible. “We should not expect to find in Scripture full scientific accuracy or complete historical precision,” they say in The Gift of Scripture.



Harriet E. Miers: evangelical Protestant

Dear heavenly whoever . . . please don’t let this woman make it to the court.

NY Times

DALLAS, Oct. 4 - By 1979, Harriet E. Miers, then in her mid-30's, had accomplished what some people take a lifetime to achieve. She was a partner at Locke Purnell Boren Laney & Neely, one of the most prestigious law firms in the South, with an office on the 35th floor of the Republic National Bank Tower in downtown Dallas.

But she still felt something was missing in her life, and it was after a series of long discussions - rambling conversations about family and religion and other matters that typically stretched from early evening into the night - with Nathan L. Hecht, a junior colleague at the law firm, that she made a decision that many of the people around her say changed her life.

"She decided that she wanted faith to be a bigger part of her life," Justice Hecht, who now serves on the Texas Supreme Court, said in an interview. "One evening she called me to her office and said she was ready to make a commitment" to accept Jesus Christ as her savior and be born again, he said. He walked down the hallway from his office to hers, and there amid the legal briefs and court papers, Ms. Miers and Justice Hecht "prayed and talked," he said.

She was baptized not long after that, at the Valley View Christian Church.

It was a pivotal personal transformation for the woman now named for a seat on the United States Supreme Court, not entirely unlike that experienced by President Bush and others in the Texas political and business establishment of that time.



She’s having a baby

Maybe old Tom is on to something. I laughed my ass off when he took to Oprah’s couch jumping up and down like a mad man. Now he and Katie Holmes are expecting. In a world where women are taking to the career path with passionate zeal, more and more men are tired of the game. What the hell is great about living in an office? There is no company loyalty, the work is shit and they drive you like a slave. The days of the typical 9 to 5 are gone. Most people I know work close to 12 hour days (commute included). There was a reason people fought for the 8 hour work day. So 12 hours at the office 6 hours of sleep 6 hours family time? I read about that somewhere, it was called slavery.

I know but you’re making a ton of money.

So while cadres of “modern” or “post-modern” women are climbing their way to glory and fortune more and more men are opting for, dare I say it, families. We don’t know why Tom adopted his first children but clearly he’s into family. So now he is rich as shit with a young woman and about to have a kid. Unlike those of us consigned to the rat race, he can do the family thing all day. Katie’s young, he’s got time . . . OK I’d be jumping my ass off too.

Bad Moon Rising

Dear Athena

16,293,600 minutes. At the end of the present solar cycle is how long I will have been on line. Those in the symposium pose the question: why continue the blog? To which I answer – while it seems like vanity now history will absolve me. Death is certain and life is not. And while I continue to draw breath on this side of creation I must remain true to what I am – a scientist. Observation, collection, reflection and analysis are the tools of the trade. I remain an American, by blood, land, and contract. Until that contract is dissolved I must hold on to the belief that it will be honored, if not by the present executors of this great trust called the United States of America then, by their posterity – our posterity.

The rationality of technical domination in pursuit of the exploitation of capital has led to a growing fascist totalitarianism fueled by apocalyptic visions of rabid Christians in pursuit of rapture. Meanwhile the masses, the demos, the people, the WE have been subjugated into a complacent complicity through the manipulation of vanity, the propagation of ignorance and the exploitation of greed. There is enough energy, there is enough food, there are enough resources – scarcity is a myth. The largest possible sustainable community for political discourse is 100,000; anything beyond that is a tower of Babel - incoherent, ineffective, manipulable and exploitable. We spend our days working jobs we hate to buy shit we don’t need. Our water is fouled, our food denatured, our days are toil and our rest is haunted. The patterns of power have repeated more than once the lines are clear – freedom of speech, thought, association, choice, and action are being curtailed. The United States is a nation of sovereign individuals whose collective ascent is the source of governing authority – even the authority to abdicate. Corporations are a fiction created by men for the benefit of capital where power concentrates to exploit the many for the benefit of the few. The greatest dispensation of god is choice. Some choose failed careers and dreams of money over the wealth of family and the treasure of joy. In the end, when they ask “how did it come to this?” Know, by word and deed we sentenced ourselves. The road toward serfdom is long but the last mile of the way is charted here.

The Origins of the Posse Comitatus

The original Posse Comitatus was a rider to an appropriations bill, Chapter 263, Section 15, approved on June 18, 1878.

Chapter 263, Section 15, Army as Posse Comitatus:

From and after the passage of this act it shall not be lawful to employ any part of the Army of the United States, as a posse comitatus, or otherwise, for the purpose of executing the laws, except in such cases and under such circumstances as such employment of said force may be expressly authorized by the Constitution or by act of Congress; and no money appropriated by this act shall be used to pay any of the expenses incurred in the employment of any troops in violation of this section, and any person willfully violating the provisions of this section shall be deemed guilty of a misdemeanor and on conviction thereof shall be punished by fine not exceeding ten thousand dollars or imprisonment not exceeding two years or by both such fine and imprisonment.

The impetus for this bill came from two sources. The first was the end of the Civil War Reconstruction. From the beginning of the Republic until the enactment of Posse Comitatus it had been regular practice to station federal troops at polling places to prevent inebriates from voting, and to be certain that those entering the polls were entitled to do so in an era of limited suffrage. After the Civil War, the federal troops were stationed at polls to be sure that universal manhood suffrage was permitted, and that no former Confederate officers voted. All former Confederate officers had been stripped of the right to vote or hold office above the state level. The end of the Reconstruction period meant that enforcement of those strictures was no longer necessary.



Alternative Energy

Bush Cites Military Takeover In Case Of Flu Outbreak

Bush stated, "If we had an outbreak somewhere in the United States, do we not then quarantine that part of the country, and how do you then enforce a quarantine? When -- it's one thing to shut down airplanes; it's another thing to prevent people from coming in to get exposed to the avian flu. And who best to be able to effect a quarantine? One option is the use of a military that's able to plan and move."

During this afternoon's White House press conference President Bush confirmed that he would attempt to impose military curfews and quarantines in case of a flu pandemic occurring in the United States. The comes on the heels of a majority of the nation's governors rejecting the Bush administration's proposal to use active-duty military assets in providing disaster relief. Understanding this in the context of Hurricane Katrina, this means total gun confiscation and enforced evacuation at gunpoint.


Bush considers changes to Posse Comitatus Act

Bush signaled that the law was up for review when he said in a nationally televised address from New Orleans on Sept. 15 that the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina showed "a challenge on this scale requires greater federal authority and a broader role for the armed forces." White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan later said revision or repeal of the Posse Comitatus Act was an issue that "needs to be looked at" by Congress and the administration, adding that officials are in the "early planning of discussing it."

Some of the initial impetus for changing the law stemmed from a public outcry over some hurricane victims in New Orleans exploiting the chaos to loot appliance outlets, jewelry shops and clothing stores before police, National Guard troops or active duty soldiers reached flooded areas. Amid more recent indications that initial reports of lawlessness were exaggerated, concerns over giving federal troops wider authority have moved to center stage.


Eisenhower’s farewell speech 1961

“In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist. We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted. Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together.”

At the end of his tenure as president, Dwight Eisenhower gave the following speech -- warning of the growing influence of the "military-industrial complex." He refers to the increasing military buildup in the United States throughout the 1950s. This growth of the defense industry fueled the nation's growing economy, and by 1960 amounted to more than half of the U.S. federal expenditure. Much of the civilian population was financially dependent on defense industry, and most universities thrived on the increased research opportunities. CNN interactive

Ike Was Right About War Machine

by Andy Rooney

I'm not really clear how much a billion dollars is but the United States — our United States — is spending $5.6 billion a month fighting this war in Iraq that we never should have gotten into.

We still have 139,000 soldiers in Iraq today.

Almost 2,000 Americans have died there. For what?

Now we have the hurricanes to pay for. One way our government pays for a lot of things is by borrowing from countries like China.

Another way the government is planning to pay for the war and the hurricane damage is by cutting spending for things like Medicare prescriptions, highway construction, farm payments, AMTRAK, National Public Radio and loans to graduate students. Do these sound like the things you'd like to cut back on to pay for Iraq?

I'll tell you where we ought to start saving: on our bloated military establishment.

We're paying for weapons we'll never use.

No other Country spends the kind of money we spend on our military. Last year Japan spent $42 billion. Italy spent $28 billion, Russia spent only $19 billion. The United States spent $455 billion.

We have 8,000 tanks for example. One Abrams tank costs 150 times as much as a Ford station wagon.

We have more than 10,000 nuclear weapons — enough to destroy all of mankind.

We're spending $200 million a year on bullets alone. That's a lot of target practice. We have 1,155,000 enlisted men and women and 225,000 officers. One officer to tell every five enlisted soldier what to do. We have 40,000 colonels alone and 870 generals.

We had a great commander in WWII, Dwight Eisenhower. He became President and on leaving the White House in 1961, he said this: “We must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist. …"

Well, Ike was right. That's just what’s happened.


August Wilson

August Wilson

Read! In the name of thy lord, who created –

Created man from a clot.

Read and thy lord is most bountiful –

Who taught man by the pen.

Taught man that which he knew not.

96: 1-5

Playwright August Wilson, whose epic 10-play cycle chronicling the black experience in 20th-century America included such landmark dramas as "Fences" and "Ma Rainey's Black Bottom," died Sunday of liver cancer, a family spokeswoman said. He was 60.


Empire of Trade

SIX hundred years ago, in 1405, the Chinese imperial fleet set out on its first voyage to explore and trade with the world. The logistics of the enterprise remain unparalleled in maritime history - 27,000 men aboard 317 ships. The most impressive vessels were the treasure ships, built of hardwood, 130 metres long and 50 metres wide; by the side of them, Columbus’s 28-metre long Santa Maria, in which he reached the Americas, would have looked like a dinghy, and he had only three ships and 270 men. The ships had hulls with multiple watertight compartments for buoyancy, nine masts, and 12 gigantic sails made of bamboo slats rather than woven cloth; the slats could be angled like venetian blinds, which enabled the ships to sail in winds unusable by western craft. They carried trade and tribute goods and supplies; aboard was a massive complement of bureaucrats, merchants, interpreters, astrologers, priests, cooks, doctors, marines - soldiers trained to operate at or from sea. The fleet had been assembled on the orders of the Yongle Emperor Zhu Di, who had recently usurped the dragon throne. He wanted to legitimise his claim, and re-establish the prestige and influence associated with China in the Tang dynasty, which had been lost during the period when the Mongols invaded and ruled most of China. The political motive for the maritime expedition was to enlist states in an imperial tribute system that increased the domestic prestige of the emperor, since China considered itself the centre of the world with its emperor the ruler of tian xia (all under heaven).


Buying of News by Bush's Aides Is Ruled Illegal

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. The contract with Mr. Williams and the general contours of the public relations campaign had been known for months. The report Friday provided the first definitive ruling on the legality of the activities. 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." >>full

See also:


Section 632 of the Treasury, Postal Service, Executive Office of the President, and General Government Appropriations Act of 2000, Pub. L. No. 106-58 § 632, 113 Stat. 430, 473 (1999) ("General Government Appropriations Act of 2000")