Kindred Spirits Fair and Balance
Kindred Spirits Fair and Balance
A Blog for Political Activists in East North Carolina


Tuesday, September 30, 2003  

Census Finds Many More Lack Health Insurance (washingtonpost.com):

The number of Americans who lack health insurance climbed by 5.7 percent in 2002, to 43.6 million, the largest single increase in a decade, according to figures to be released today by the Census Bureau.

Overall, 15.2 percent of Americans were uninsured last year, up from 14.6 percent in 2001.

"Since President Bush took office, the United States has lost 2.7 million jobs and household incomes have fallen for three years in a row."

posted by Libbie | 7:06 AM


Monday, September 29, 2003  

U.S. Uses Terror Law to Pursue Crimes From Drugs to Swindling: U.S. Uses Terror Law to Pursue Crimes From Drugs to Swindling

By ERIC LICHTBLAU
Published: September 28, 2003

WASHINGTON, Sept. 27 — The Bush administration, which calls the USA Patriot Act perhaps its most essential tool in fighting terrorists, has begun using the law with increasing frequency in many criminal investigations that have little or no connection to terrorism.

The government is using its expanded authority under the far-reaching law to investigate suspected drug traffickers, white-collar criminals, blackmailers, child pornographers, money launderers, spies and even corrupt foreign leaders, federal officials said.

Justice Department officials say they are simply using all the tools now available to them to pursue criminals — terrorists or otherwise. But critics of the administration's antiterrorism tactics assert that such use of the law is evidence the administration is using terrorism as a guise to pursue a broader law enforcement agenda.
Justice Department officials point out that they have employed their newfound powers in many instances against suspected terrorists. With the new law breaking down the wall between intelligence and criminal investigations, the Justice Department in February was able to bring terrorism-related charges against a Florida professor, for example, and it has used its expanded surveillance powers to move against several suspected terrorist cells.
But a new Justice Department report, given to members of Congress this month, also cites more than a dozen cases that are not directly related to terrorism in which federal authorities have used their expanded power to investigate individuals, initiate wiretaps and other surveillance, or seize millions in tainted assets.

For instance, the ability to secure nationwide warrants to obtain e-mail and electronic evidence "has proved invaluable in several sensitive nonterrorism investigations," including the tracking of an unidentified fugitive and an investigation into a computer hacker who stole a company's trade secrets, the report said.

Justice Department officials said the cases cited in the report represent only a small sampling of the many hundreds of nonterrorism cases pursued under the law.

The authorities have also used toughened penalties under the law to press charges against a lovesick 20-year-old woman from Orange County, Calif., who planted threatening notes aboard a Hawaii-bound cruise ship she was traveling on with her family in May. The woman, who said she made the threats to try to return home to her boyfriend, was sentenced this week to two years in federal prison because of a provision in the Patriot Act on the threat of terrorism against mass transportation systems.

posted by Libbie | 6:45 AM


Saturday, September 27, 2003  

Breakdown of death toll in three years of Israeli-Palestinian violence: "Three years of violence in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has killed 2,477 people on the Palestinian side and 860 on the Israeli side. In addition, about 60 Palestinians suspected of informing for Israel have been killed by Palestinian militants."

posted by Libbie | 3:22 PM


Friday, September 26, 2003  


Cheney's Ties to Halliburton (washingtonpost.com)
:

"A Congressional Research Service report released yesterday concluded that federal ethics laws treat Vice President Cheney's annual deferred compensation checks and unexercised stock options as continuing financial interests in the Halliburton Co.

Democrats have aggressively challenged Cheney's claim that he has no financial ties to Halliburton, despite those arrangements.

The Houston-based energy conglomerate has been awarded more than $2 billion in contracts for rebuilding Iraq, including one worth $1.22 billion that was awarded on a noncompetitive basis."
...
Cheney, who was Halliburton's chairman and chief executive, has disclosed the payments and the 433,333 options. The report suggests no illegality."

Click the link above to read this article.

posted by Libbie | 8:53 PM


Tuesday, September 23, 2003  

Bush isolated as speech to UN falls flat:
Gary Younge in New York
Wednesday September 24, 2003
The Guardian, UK
George Bush was increasingly isolated on the global stage yesterday as he defied intense criticism from a litany of world leaders at the United Nations over the war on Iraq. "

From LeMonde (translated by computer)
In front of UN, the United States are placed on the WORLD dock

The 58th General meeting of the United Nations opened, Tuesday September 23, by the speeches of Kofi Annan, Jacques Chirac and Brazilian president Lula. George W. Bush was to intervene [be on the program] then to have several bilateral meetings, including one with the French president. MM. Annan and Chirac highly criticized the American policy and the questioning of the multilateral institutions. "No one can act alone", said the French president, while the secretary-general of UNO deplored "a unilateral recourse to the force and without legal basis". The two leaders proposed a reform of UN, in particular Security Council, which they wish to see open to new countries: Germany, Japan, Brazil...

In another article also in the 24 Sept. 2003 issue:

M. BUSH CALLS FOR THE INTERNATIONAL SUPPORT

Without surprise, M. Bush asked for international support for the projects of its country in Iraq, vis-a-vis with several foreign leaders who castigated his decision to launch a "preventive" war, without green light of the United Nations. Whereas the Security Council discussed a draft Resolution by American enlarging the mandate of UNO in Iraq, M. Bush invited the international community to increase its commitment in this country, where Washington faces a very difficult and increasingly expensive situation. "We have to work together, to go forward", he stated. "Iraq needs our assistance and it deserves it. All the nations of goodwill must take the step and to provide this support ", he added.
The American President also refuted the arguments of Iraqi persons in charge or country, France in particular, favorable to a fast return to a sovereignty of the Iraqis on their country, under the direction of UNO: "This process must proceed according to needs' for the Iraqis and does not have to be accelerated or delayed by the wishes of other parties."M. Bush, which did not make a statement on a precise bill book, thus criticized with covered words the French President, Jacques Chirac, who pled to him for a transfer of the capacities according to a "realistic calendar" and under the aegis of UNO.

The American President also refuted the arguments of responsible Iraqi authorities or other countries, France in particular, favorable to a fast return to a sovereignty of the Iraqis on their country, under the direction of UNO: "This process must proceed according to needs' of the Iraqis and does not have to be accelerated or delayed by the wishes of other parties." M. Bush, who did not declare a precise schedule, thus criticized indirectly the French President, Jacques Chirac, who pled to him for a transfer of the control according to a "realistic calendar" and under the aegis of UN.

[Libbie's note: LeMonde has been extremely discrete about this entire situation.]

Here are a few paragraphs I picked out of the International Herald Tribune (owned by the New York Times) story (reach the story by clicking here):
spoke shortly after the UN secretary general, Kofi Annan, had stingingly denounced exactly such an approach. Pre-emption, if widely accepted, could lead to "a proliferation of the unilateral and lawless use of force," Annan said in his strongest remarks on the matter.
.
Bush's somber address to the General Assembly drew a single, mild round of applause, for just over 20 seconds, at its conclusion. That stood in contrast to last year, when UN members praised him for his decision, ultimately fruitless, to ask the Security Council to grant specific authority for tough action on Iraq.
.
Now, as a U.S.-led victory in Baghdad has given way to a costly and violent occupation marked by the recent attack that killed 22 people at UN headquarters in Baghdad, the United States is seeking greater global contributions of money and peacekeeping troops, possibly through a new UN resolution.
.
"The nation of Iraq needs and desires our aid, and all nations of good will should step forward and provide that support," Bush said.
.
His comments come at a difficult time for the president at home, where the high costs of the war and a jobless economic recovery have depressed his popularity. He avoided any sense of triumph over the resounding military victory in Iraq. But neither did he make excuses for the current chaotic conditions there, or for the failure so far to find weapons of mass destruction there.
.
Bush's unapologetic words about the war and pre-emption, and comments afterward by President Jacques Chirac of France, underscored the serious gap that persists in the heart of the Security Council and seemed to offer small hope for any major contributions in the near term.
.
Chirac, who incurred the wrath of the Bush administration and of many Americans for leading international opposition to the U.S.-led war, has called for a substantial turnover of authority to Iraqis within months; he said Tuesday that three, six or nine months would be acceptable. A transfer of sovereignty was "indispensable to stability and reconstruction," he said.
.
Bush, however, said pointedly that the transformation could not be "hurried, nor delayed," to satisfy the wishes of outsiders. Officials in his administration have suggested that it will take time to train Iraqi police and soldiers, re-establish governing institutions, write and adopt a constitution, and hold fair elections.
.
Self-government by Iraqis was the prime goal of the coalition, Bush said. But he added, "This process must unfold according to the needs of Iraqis."
.
To the discomfort of the administration, members of the Iraqi Governing Council appointed under U.S. auspices have been calling for a quicker return of sovereignty, and some have said they want no more foreign troops, contradicting the U.S. entreaties to other countries. Several of these Iraqi officials, including the Governing Council's current president, Ahmad Chalabi, were here for the annual meeting of world leaders.
.
Bush noted that he has asked Congress to authorize reconstruction spending in Iraq that will exceed that of the Marshall Plan in Europe after World War II. Now, he said, others needed to join in helping to rebuild Iraq.
.
"Every young democracy needs the help of friends," Bush said.
.
He again outlined a vision for a broader role in Iraq for the United Nations, though it remains narrower than what France and many other countries seek.
.
The UN, Bush said, should help Iraqis develop a constitution, train civil servants and conduct elections. In making his plea for international support, the president couched his comments in terms of Iraqis' needs, not of Americans' wishes.
.
He acknowledged the differences that have divided the UN over Iraq, but said it was time now for its members to join in helping establish an Iraqi democracy that he said could serve as a model for remaking the entire region.
.
Yet Bush did not retreat at all from his rationale for the Iraq war. Weapons of mass destruction may not have been found there, though he said that Iraqis were still being interviewed about weapons programs, hinting that more remained to be learned.
.
If unconventional weapons reached the wrong hands, however, they would pose such a devastating threat that the world could not wait to act, Bush said.
.
Such weapons, he said, "could be used by terrorists to bring sudden disaster and suffering on a scale we could scarcely imagine." He called this a "peril that cannot be ignored or wished away."
.
The countries of the world "must stop these great threats before they arrive." He called on more countries to join an initiative against nuclear proliferation that recently mounted training exercises to intercept weapons shipments from proliferating countries.
.
And Bush urged the Security Council to adopt a new anti-proliferation resolution that would "criminalize the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction." He also spoke at unexpected length about the need to halt sex tourism and the trafficking in people, including many young women, for the sex trade. The United States was cracking down, Bush said, on practices that were akin to slavery, and other countries should do the same. The cause is popular among some conservative Christians in the United States.
.
While the president sought to move past the rancor over the war, neither Chirac nor Annan was prepared to do so.
.
Annan, speaking before Bush, denounced the U.S. logic of pre-emption. And Chirac said pointedly that "there is no alternative to the United Nations" and that only multilateralism allowed the solution of world problems, above all threats to peace.
.
Chirac said the United States and France had common objectives in Iraq - peace, reconstruction and democracy - but different approaches to reaching those goals.
.
"We very much want the Americans to succeed," Chirac told reporters after his meeting with Bush, "and we are trying to make a contribution to their thinking." But he said it was "very difficult for the Iraqis" to accept occupation, adding, "we run the risk of seeing further deterioration of the situation."
.
Now it was time, Chirac said, to "shift from one foot to the other" and push for at least the beginnings of a transfer of sovereignty to Iraq. Such a transfer "cannot be abrupt," he said, hinting at movement toward the less definite transfer favored by the United States. Chirac was asked whether he felt he and Bush had achieved some rapprochement in their meeting.
.
"I never felt alienated from Mr. Bush," Chirac said. "I've never felt distant from the president."
.
Bush will hold a series of other sensitive meetings with world leaders, most notably with Chancellor Gerhard Schröder of Germany on Wednesday.
.
International Herald Tribune UNITED NATIONS, New York President George W. Bush challenged the United Nations on Tuesday to put aside its sharp differences over Iraq and to help the Iraqi people fashion a peaceful and democratic country on a timetable that made sense to them.
.
But he stoutly defended the U.S. rationale for the war. He suggested that the world might again need to act preemptively to prevent attacks by terrorists equipped with unconventional weapons. Such attacks could bring "suffering on a scale we could scarcely imagine," he said.
.
He spoke shortly after the UN secretary general, Kofi Annan, had stingingly denounced exactly such an approach. Pre-emption, if widely accepted, could lead to "a proliferation of the unilateral and lawless use of force," Annan said in his strongest remarks on the matter.
Bush's somber address to the General Assembly drew a single, mild round of applause, for just over 20 seconds, at its conclusion.
...
Bush's unapologetic words about the war and pre-emption, and comments afterward by President Jacques Chirac of France, underscored the serious gap that persists in the heart of the Security Council and seemed to offer small hope for any major contributions in the near term.
.
Chirac, who incurred the wrath of the Bush administration and of many Americans for leading international opposition to the U.S.-led war, has called for a substantial turnover of authority to Iraqis within months; he said Tuesday that three, six or nine months would be acceptable. A transfer of sovereignty was "indispensable to stability and reconstruction," he said.
.
Bush, however, said pointedly that the transformation could not be "hurried, nor delayed," to satisfy the wishes of outsiders. Officials in his administration have suggested that it will take time to train Iraqi police and soldiers, re-establish governing institutions, write and adopt a constitution, and hold fair elections.
.
Self-government by Iraqis was the prime goal of the coalition, Bush said. But he added, "This process must unfold according to the needs of Iraqis."
.
To the discomfort of the administration, members of the Iraqi Governing Council appointed under U.S. auspices have been calling for a quicker return of sovereignty, and some have said they want no more foreign troops, contradicting the U.S. entreaties to other countries. Several of these Iraqi officials, including the Governing Council's current president, Ahmad Chalabi, were here for the annual meeting of world leaders.
.
Bush noted that he has asked Congress to authorize reconstruction spending in Iraq that will exceed that of the Marshall Plan in Europe after World War II. Now, he said, others needed to join in helping to rebuild Iraq.
.
"Every young democracy needs the help of friends," Bush said.
.
He again outlined a vision for a broader role in Iraq for the United Nations, though it remains narrower than what France and many other countries seek.
.
The UN, Bush said, should help Iraqis develop a constitution, train civil servants and conduct elections. In making his plea for international support, the president couched his comments in terms of Iraqis' needs, not of Americans' wishes.
.
He acknowledged the differences that have divided the UN over Iraq, but said it was time now for its members to join in helping establish an Iraqi democracy that he said could serve as a model for remaking the entire region.
.
Yet Bush did not retreat at all from his rationale for the Iraq war. Weapons of mass destruction may not have been found there, though he said that Iraqis were still being interviewed about weapons programs, hinting that more remained to be learned.
.
If unconventional weapons reached the wrong hands, however, they would pose such a devastating threat that the world could not wait to act, Bush said.
.
Such weapons, he said, "could be used by terrorists to bring sudden disaster and suffering on a scale we could scarcely imagine." He called this a "peril that cannot be ignored or wished away."
.
The countries of the world "must stop these great threats before they arrive." He called on more countries to join an initiative against nuclear proliferation that recently mounted training exercises to intercept weapons shipments from proliferating countries.
.
And Bush urged the Security Council to adopt a new anti-proliferation resolution that would "criminalize the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction." He also spoke at unexpected length about the need to halt sex tourism and the trafficking in people, including many young women, for the sex trade. The United States was cracking down, Bush said, on practices that were akin to slavery, and other countries should do the same. The cause is popular among some conservative Christians in the United States.
.
While the president sought to move past the rancor over the war, neither Chirac nor Annan was prepared to do so.
.
Annan, speaking before Bush, denounced the U.S. logic of pre-emption. And Chirac said pointedly that "there is no alternative to the United Nations" and that only multilateralism allowed the solution of world problems, above all threats to peace.
.
Chirac said the United States and France had common objectives in Iraq - peace, reconstruction and democracy - but different approaches to reaching those goals.
.
"We very much want the Americans to succeed," Chirac told reporters after his meeting with Bush, "and we are trying to make a contribution to their thinking." But he said it was "very difficult for the Iraqis" to accept occupation, adding, "we run the risk of seeing further deterioration of the situation."
.
Now it was time, Chirac said, to "shift from one foot to the other" and push for at least the beginnings of a transfer of sovereignty to Iraq. Such a transfer "cannot be abrupt," he said, hinting at movement toward the less definite transfer favored by the United States. Chirac was asked whether he felt he and Bush had achieved some rapprochement in their meeting.
.
"I never felt alienated from Mr. Bush," Chirac said. "I've never felt distant from the president."
.
Bush will hold a series of other sensitive meetings with world leaders, most notably with Chancellor Gerhard Schröder of Germany on Wednesday.
.
International Herald Tribune UNITED NATIONS, New York President George W. Bush challenged the United Nations on Tuesday to put aside its sharp differences over Iraq and to help the Iraqi people fashion a peaceful and democratic country on a timetable that made sense to them.
.
But he stoutly defended the U.S. rationale for the war. He suggested that the world might again need to act preemptively to prevent attacks by terrorists equipped with unconventional weapons. Such attacks could bring "suffering on a scale we could scarcely imagine," he said.
.
He spoke shortly after the UN secretary general, Kofi Annan, had stingingly denounced exactly such an approach. Pre-emption, if widely accepted, could lead to "a proliferation of the unilateral and lawless use of force," Annan said in his strongest remarks on the matter.
.
Bush's somber address to the General Assembly drew a single, mild round of applause, for just over 20 seconds, at its conclusion. That stood in contrast to last year, when UN members praised him for his decision, ultimately fruitless, to ask the Security Council to grant specific authority for tough action on Iraq.
.
Now, as a U.S.-led victory in Baghdad has given way to a costly and violent occupation marked by the recent attack that killed 22 people at UN headquarters in Baghdad, the United States is seeking greater global contributions of money and peacekeeping troops, possibly through a new UN resolution.
.
"The nation of Iraq needs and desires our aid, and all nations of good will should step forward and provide that support," Bush said.
.
His comments come at a difficult time for the president at home, where the high costs of the war and a jobless economic recovery have depressed his popularity. He avoided any sense of triumph over the resounding military victory in Iraq. But neither did he make excuses for the current chaotic conditions there, or for the failure so far to find weapons of mass destruction there.
.
Bush's unapologetic words about the war and pre-emption, and comments afterward by President Jacques Chirac of France, underscored the serious gap that persists in the heart of the Security Council and seemed to offer small hope for any major contributions in the near term.
.
Chirac, who incurred the wrath of the Bush administration and of many Americans for leading international opposition to the U.S.-led war, has called for a substantial turnover of authority to Iraqis within months; he said Tuesday that three, six or nine months would be acceptable. A transfer of sovereignty was "indispensable to stability and reconstruction," he said.

posted by Libbie | 10:13 PM


Sunday, September 21, 2003  

BBC NEWS | Americas |

Fear as human shield faces jail
:

By Fergal Parkinson
BBC correspondent in Florida

Sitting in her modest two-bedroom home on the west Florida coast, Faith Fippinger begins to cry as she talks about the prospect of going to jail. This spring, the 62-year-old retired schoolteacher decided to travel to Iraq as a human shield.

To many she is a humanitarian, but in the eyes of the US Government she is a criminal.

By the standards of most Americans Faith Fippinger is well-travelled. Over the past few years she has visited almost every continent and the souvenirs dotted around the house prove it. But it was her decision to travel to Iraq to try to prevent the war which has got her into trouble.

'War is carnage, I understand that,' she says. 'War is death, I understand that. In my opinion though this war was illegal, unjust and unnecessary,' she told me. For three months she travelled around Iraq, guarding oil refineries, teaching in schools and working in hospitals. But when she returned home there was a letter waiting for her from the US Treasury Department.

'It was a requirement to send information as to why I was in Iraq,' she says. 'It also said the penalties for being there could be as high as a million dollars and up to 12 years in jail.'

'Freedom of speech'

By going to Iraq Faith Fippinger had broken the US economic embargo on Iraq, which had been in place for many years. The letter explained that by travelling to the country and spending money there, Miss Fippinger was now liable for prosecution.

Supporters argue that she was simply exercising her right to freedom of travel and speech and accuse the Bush administration of trying to make an example of her. "You know, part of what democracy is all about is that you can have varying opinions and that we can express them," she says. "It's in regimes like Saddam Hussein's where that freedom is not allowed."

But the US Treasury Department is standing firm. In a statement to the BBC it said that to express one's freedom of speech is a right but breaking the law of the United States is not a privilege. It says it fully intends to proceed with her prosecution.

For travelling to Iraq Faith Fippinger will now probably lose her house, her pension and go to jail.

posted by Libbie | 6:16 AM


Saturday, September 20, 2003  

What the $87 Billion Speech Cost Bush

What the $87 Billion Speech Cost Bush (washingtonpost.com): "President Bush has often used major speeches to bolster his standing with the public, but pollsters and political analysts have concluded that his recent prime-time address on Iraq may have had the opposite effect -- crystallizing doubts about his postwar plans and fueling worries about the cost."

posted by Libbie | 5:21 PM


Thursday, September 18, 2003  

Bush rejects Saddam 9/11 link
BBC NEWS | Americas |
: "US President George Bush has said there is no evidence that Saddam Hussein was involved in the 11 September attacks."

This link is to the BBC article, although there are many similar articles today. This one continues, "At a time when the credibility of government intelligence and information is under the spotlight, President Bush probably had little choice but to scotch the confusion, says the BBC's Ian Pannell in Washington.

But if the public believes that they were given the wrong impression by the administration, then there may be a political cost involved with the presidential campaign under way, our correspondent says."

""We have no evidence that Saddam Hussein was involved with the 11 September attacks," Mr Bush told reporters as he met members of Congress on energy legislation.

Many Americans believe that some of the hijackers were Iraqi - when none were - and that the attacks had been orchestrated by Baghdad, despite any concrete evidence to support that.

This confusion has been partly attributed to, at best a lack of clarity by the administration and at worst, deliberate obfuscation, correspondents say.

As recently as last Sunday, Vice-President Dick Cheney, refused to rule out a link between Iraq and 11 September, saying "'we don't know"."

posted by Libbie | 9:41 AM


Wednesday, September 17, 2003  

Hussein 9/11 Role Doubted (washingtonpost.com): "Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said he had no reason to believe that Iraq's former leader, Saddam Hussein, had a hand in the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the United States. "

posted by Libbie | 8:34 AM


Tuesday, September 16, 2003  

In a Bush Stronghold, Some Are Losing Heart: "Like many in Xenia, Fox backed the war at first. But now she is suspicious because no weapons of mass destruction have been found, and she is disturbed by the stream of body bags coming home — more since Bush declared the major combat over."

posted by Libbie | 11:42 AM


Monday, September 15, 2003  

By clicking on this link, citizens of North Carolina can register to vote:
Working Assets - ActforChange

Residents of any other state can find links to on-line registration here: https://ssl.capwiz.com/wa/nvra/

Please keep track of this useful site and share it with anyone who is unregistered but likely to "vote smart"!

posted by Libbie | 5:38 PM


Sunday, September 14, 2003  

posted by Libbie | 7:27 AM
 

Public Says $87 Billion Too Much (washingtonpost.com)

The article includes this paragraph: "The public's judgment of the way Bush is handling international affairs has never been lower, the Post-ABC News poll found. Slightly more than half -- 53 percent -- approve of the president's policies abroad, a precipitous fall from 67 percent barely two months ago."

***

In her Sunday column for the New York Times, entitled Gunsmoke and Mirrors, Maureen Dowd writes about the new Zogby poll that shows that if the election of 2000 were held today, it would again end in a statistical dead heat:
http://www.nytimes.com/2003/09/14/opinion/14DOWD.html

posted by Libbie | 7:15 AM


Saturday, September 13, 2003  

NY Daily News - front - Iraq toll tops '91: "Iraq toll tops '91
Total now 294 after two U.S. soldiers killed

By RICHARD SISK

WASHINGTON - Two more U.S. troops were killed in Iraq yesterday, bringing the death toll to 294 and surpassing the casualty figures in the Persian Gulf War of 1991."

posted by Libbie | 7:01 AM


Thursday, September 11, 2003  

On Sunday, Sept. 9, the New York Times ran an scathing editorial setting out for all the world to see many of the failings of Bush and his administration. Here's one paragraph: "Other wrong turns, however, were chosen because of a fundamental flaw in the character of this White House. Despite his tough talk, Mr. Bush seems incapable of choosing a genuinely tough path, of risking his political popularity with the same aggression that he risks the country's economic stability and international credibility. For all the trauma the United States has gone through during his administration, Mr. Bush has never asked the American people to respond to new challenges by making genuine sacrifices."

Click here to read the entire article: Presidential Character

posted by Libbie | 8:50 AM


Wednesday, September 10, 2003  

This one never ceases to amaze me:
"Nearing the second anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, seven in 10 Americans continue to believe that Iraq's Saddam Hussein had a role in the attacks, even though the Bush administration and congressional investigators say they have no evidence of this. "

Here's the rest of the article: Hussein Link to 9/11 Lingers in Many Minds (washingtonpost.com)

posted by Libbie | 8:45 AM


Monday, September 08, 2003  

Here's a link to a good article in the Washington Post about the Patriot Act.
Fierce Fight Over Secrecy, Scope of Law (washingtonpost.com)

posted by Libbie | 7:55 AM


Thursday, September 04, 2003  

Would you like some freedom fries with your crow, Mr. President?

Six months after spitting in the face of the world, the Bush administration is crawling on its belly before the U.N. If the world doesn't rush to help it, the White House has only itself to blame.
- - - - - - - - - - - -
By Gary Kamiya

Sept. 4, 2003 | Let me make sure I've got this right. After being insulted, belittled and called irrelevant by the swaggering machos in the Bush administration, the United Nations is now supposed to step forward to supply cannon fodder for America's disastrous Iraq occupation -- while the U.S. continues to run the show?

In other words, the rest of the world is to send its troops to get killed so that a U.S. president it fears and despises can take the credit for an invasion it bitterly opposed.

The rest of the world may be crazy, but it ain't stupid.

The Bush administration's humiliating announcement that it wants the U.N. to bail it out officially confers the title of "debacle" upon the grand Cheney-Rove-Wolfowitz adventure. Not even the world-class chutzpah of this administration can conceal the fact that by turning to the despised world body, it is eating a heaping plate of crow. This spectacle may give Bush-bashers from London to Jakarta a happy jolt of schadenfreude, but it does nothing to help Americans who are stuck with the ugly fallout of the Bush team's ill-conceived, absurdly overoptimistic attempt to redraw the Middle East.

The bitter truth is that everything the administration told us about Iraq has turned out to be false.

[Snip]

Bush said the U.N. must sanction his war on Iraq or "become irrelevant." It did not. Yet today he is crawling on his belly to the supposedly irrelevant U.N., begging it to bail him out of the quagmire he created.
The administration said that America was so omnipotent that it could afford to spit in the face of the rest of the world. Indeed, for the ideologues who run the Bush show, flouting our solo might almost seemed to be a sign of God's special favor. Now, having burned our bridges to all of our allies except Britain, the America über alles crowd is reduced to sputtering in rage as the rest of the world -- surprise! -- declines to rush forward with open checkbooks.

MY COMMENTS: Sometimes, even an “I told you so” is not enough. These people are bloody incompetent, and are responsible for the death of a lot of good people. Wonder what Walter "Freedom Fries" has to say now?. Think we should send him to France to apologize?

To read the complete article, go here: (Note: If you not a Salon member, use the one day pass)



posted by Wayne | 9:06 AM


Tuesday, September 02, 2003  

A study by Democracy North Carolina, a nonpartisan money-in-politics research group, examined 1,436 donors who are identified by name on disclosure reports because they gave a presidential candidate over $200 in 2003. It is believed to be the first comprehensive analysis of the race and gender of all identified campaign contributors from a state to presidential candidates.

Using voter registration and other public records, the group found that 96% of the North Carolina presidential donors are white and 67% are men. That profile contrasts sharply with the make up of voters in the state. According to State Board of Elections statistics for February 2003, less than 80% of registered voters are white and only 45% are men.

"When donors don't look like voters, that's a problem for a democracy - especially when donors can determine who is deemed a viable candidate," said Peter Walz, who helped coordinate the study. "The goal of democracy is 'one person, one vote,' but the campaign financing system seems stuck in the era when elections were restricted to 'white men with property.' "

The study found that:

• Of the 201 North Carolinians giving over $200 to George W. Bush before the July 1 cutoff, 98% are white, none are African Americans, and 2% are Hispanic or Asian.

• North Carolina native John Edwards had the most donors by far - 1,108 giving over $200. Of this number, 95% are white, 3% are African American, and 2% are other people of color.

• Bush received five times as much money from white Democrats as he did from all non-whites, while Edwards got nearly twice as much from white Republicans as from people of color.

• Neither of the African Americans among the leading candidates for president (and the only woman) - Carol Moseley Braun and Al Sharpton - received more than $200 from any N.C. donor.

• The other leading Democratic contenders (Howard Dean, Dick Gephardt, John Kerry, Dennis Kucinich, Joe Lieberman, and Bob Graham) received at total of 127 donations above $200, with 98% coming from whites, 1% from an African American, and 1% from an Hispanic donor.

The racial disparity in who funds presidential elections is one of the issues wrapped up in the fate of the McCain-Feingold Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act now before the U.S. Supreme Court. A group of plaintiffs is arguing that the new law's increase in hard-dollar contributions, from $1,000 to $2,000 per election, harms low-income and non-white voters and their candidates.

"This unprecedented research demonstrates that today's campaign finance system discriminates against people based on their economic status, their race, and their gender," said John Bonifaz, executive director of the National Voting Rights Institute, a Boston-based law firm challenging the higher hard-dollar contribution limits. "A system dominated by wealthy white men is antithetical to the promise of political equality for all. The wealth primary process should be replaced with a system of full public funding of our elections, ensuring that all voices will be heard."

More than any other candidate, George Bush benefited from the higher contribution limits, the study says. Bush got 81% of his North Carolina money from 114 donors who each gave $2000. Edwards received 57% of his $1.2 million in state funds from $2000-donors, while five other Democrats got 34% of their combined total from the top donors.

Of the 468 donors in the state who gave $2000 to a presidential candidate, only 5 are African American. By contrast, 11 top donors, all white, are listed as "students." Altogether, 36 black donors contributed $27,985 to presidential candidates, while 25 "students" gave a total of $32,336.

Campaign finance reformers say the racial disparity even at relatively low contribution levels reveals flaws in the partial public financing system in presidential primaries. That system rewards candidates who can gather scores of donations of up to $250 from at least 20 states - a barrier that candidates with limited access to wealthy donors cannot meet.

"This research clearly shows that any campaign finance system built on large private contributions excludes African Americans from full participation in the political system," says Nick Nyhart, executive director of Public Campaign in Washington, DC. "The current private money set-up needs to be put in the trash heap, just like the poll tax and other Jim Crow laws."

The report notes that white men are a minority in the both major parties in North Carolina. One out of every three Democrats is an African American, and women make up 59% of registered Democrats and 51% of registered Republicans. Men are less likely to vote than women in North Carolina and nationally, but they can define the agenda - and the gender - of leading candidates by dominating the supply of money, the report says.

"In virtually every category of giving, two thirds of the donors are men. And often the women are listed as 'homemaker' or 'unemployed,' indicating that another family member is using them to funnel more money to a candidate," said Walz.

The study by Democracy North Carolina is part of a series on the "the Color of Money" in politics. A report released earlier this month found similar disparities between the make up of donors and voters in local and state-level elections. That report was produced by a team of college students in the organization's Democracy Summer program. It shows that whites supplied 99% of the early money raised from donors giving over $2,000 in the 2000 race for governor (Mike Easley versus Richard Vinroot); 73% of these donors were men. It also found that whites supplied 94% of the money examined in mayoral contests in Charlotte and Greenville, N.C.

"The more campaign contributions determine who can succeed in elections, the less the outcomes reflect a true democracy," said Walz. "If money is simply an expression of free speech, then it's clear whose voices are not being heard in our elections."

posted by Juanita | 8:34 PM
 

Dates To Watch
**************

1st September 2003 7:00 pm (Every Monday) Global Peace and Justice Discussion Group meets the Unitarian Fellowship Hall in New Bern.

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22nd September 2003 7:00 pm. (Every Fourth Monday…Dinner at 6:15) Craven Democratic Party meets at The Chelsea Restaurant) in New Bern.

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Is John Edwards in Trouble? Todd say YES!

Todd from Monkey Media Report, a North Carolina blog, has posted 9 reasons why John Edwards will soon give up his quest to for the White House.

9 reasons John Edwards will drop out of the presidential race before Christmas (and I only promised you five). This post is dedicated to those who, upon hearing Edwards' bold statement last month - "I can compete with George Bush anywhere" - immediately thought, "Gosh, John, then why not try competing right here in your own
backyard?"


posted by Wayne | 10:00 AM


Monday, September 01, 2003  

"Anybody wanting to know the real, intimate history of the labor movement in the U.S. should read Talking Union"- Pete Seeger
Talking Union was written by Judith Stepan-Norris and Maurice Zeitlin. Why not treat yourself to this critical piece of American history-

According to Cornell Professor Kate Bronfenbrenner, the number of times U.S. employers have told Unions that the companies would move production out of this country if they did not agree to concessions has more than doubled since the passage of NAFTA in 1995. Over 625,000 U.S. apparel and textile jobs alone, work completed largely by women, have been lost to countries where worker protections are virtually non-existent.

Let's take a moment today to honor the American working people whose livelihoods and welfare are in great jeopardy as a result of the free trade agreement. And let's all keep looking for that Union Label!

posted by Juanita | 5:04 PM
 

The New Bern Peace & Justice Coalition, will meet to identify critical issues of peace and justice (locally, nationally and internationally) with the purpose of planning activities to enlighten our local communities about these issues. Those who attend these meetings will have a desire to share their perceptions of the issues which they believe are most important to address and will wish to take part in the planning of events which highlight those issues. This group’s goals will involve varied action such as bus sponsorship to major rallies, film and speaker presentations, varied vigils, etc.) in an effort to educate and actively advocate within our community.
When: September 11 @ 5:30-7:00PM
Where: Unitarian Universalist Fellowship, 1116 South Glenburnie Road, New Bern (Please email Juanita for more specific directions)

posted by Juanita | 3:07 PM
 

Enjoy Labor Day but Remember the Working Man & Woman


Dates To Watch
******************

1st September 2003 7:00 pm (Every Monday) Global Peace and Justice Discussion Group meets the Unitarian Fellowship Hall in New Bern.
Contact:
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22nd September 2003 7:00 pm. (Every Fourth Monday…Dinner at 6:15) Craven Democratic Party meets at The Chelsea Restaurant) in New Bern.

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Columnist Molly Ivins argues here that Bush’s Administration is no friend of Labor:

In February, one of the most extraordinary sessions ever recorded between labor and a sitting labor secretary took place. Secretary Elaine Chao, whose chief qualification for the job seems to be that she is the wife of right-wing Sen. Mitch McConnell, met with the AFL-CIO's executive council.

"Participants said Chao shocked the group by opposing any increase in the minimum wage, showing no sympathy for retired steelworkers who lost pension benefits, and reciting a list of legal actions her department has taken against unions and their leaders," reported The Washington Post.

"We had a pretty unbelievable session," said John J. Sweeney, president of the AFL-CIO. "She was angry at points, insulting at points. I said that in all my years in labor, I've never seen a secretary so anti-labor."

"There was a lot of shock and amazement in the room," said Leo Gerard, president of the Steelworkers union. "We were made to feel we were the enemy."

Fortunately, Chao's condescending, insulting and hostile performance quite united labor, including the building trades and the Teamsters, against the Bush administration. Nothing like a little old-fashioned solidarity.


Don’t forget to buy/read Molly’s latest book titled Bushwhacked: Life in George W. Bush's America.

posted by Wayne | 12:38 PM

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