Thursday, June 24, 2004

we must have regime change!!!!!!!

Secrecy in the Bush Administration Obstructs Communities' Right-to-Know

The Bush Administration is reducing Americans' access to public information that protects our health and our environment. The administration has removed public information from agency websites, issued executive orders that empower agencies to withhold public information, and drafted legislation that allows companies to hide basic health and safety information. These changes go well beyond the classification procedures that for years have protected legitimate government secrets. Below is a partial accounting of Bush Administration actions that obstruct communities' environmental right-to-know.

Secrecy In Cyberspace
In recent decades, a broad public movement has sought better public right-to-know about the actions of government and industry that affect pollution and health. In response, affected industries and their politicians have advanced roadblocks to disclosure. The attacks of 9-11 accelerated secrecy, as government agencies removed public information from websites. Agencies have already removed more than six thousand public documents, according to the Center for American Progress. As a result, the public is now less able to hold government and industry accountable, and less able to make informed decisions affecting lives, families and communities. OMB Watch documents the following examples:

The Environmental Protection Agency removed previously public portions of Risk Management Plans from its website, which communities use to identify chemical hazards where they live;

The Department of Transportation took down most of the national pipeline mapping system that enables communities to identify hazardous pipeline routes;

The U.S. Geological Survey instructed all government libraries to destroy copies of a CD-ROM describing public water supplies, used by communities to protect source water;

The Department of Energy removed environmental impact statements that alerted local communities to potential dangers from nearby nuclear energy plants, as well as information on the transportation of hazardous materials.
Other federal entities that have removed public information from web sites include:

Toxic Substances and Disease Registry
Federal Energy Regulatory Commission
Bureau of Transportation Statistics
Federal Aviation Administration
Internal Revenue Service
National Archives and Records Administration
Nuclear Safety Center
National Imagery and Mapping Agency
NASA Glenn Research Center
Nuclear Regulatory Commission
Secrecy Memos
In October 2001, US Attorney General John Ashcroft issued a memo encouraging government agencies, where defensible, to deny Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests. In his own words, "When you carefully consider FOIA requests and decide to withhold records, in whole or in part, you can be assured that the Department of Justice will defend your decisions unless they lack a sound legal basis..."

In March 2002, White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card issued a memo calling for creation of a new "sensitive but unclassified" designation for information and urging agencies to be more careful in what they made available to the public.

Secrecy Executive Orders
President Bush has signed several executive orders granting agencies new authority to classify information. These executive orders grant the Secretary of Health and Human Services, Secretary of Agriculture and Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency "original classification authority." In addition, in March 2003 Bush signed an executive order that amended a 1995 order by former president Bill Clinton, greatly strengthening government officials' powers to classify information.

Secrecy Legislation
Homeland Security Act
In November 2002, Congress passed the Homeland Security Act. This law allows businesses to secretly communicate "critical infrastructure vulnerabilities" to the Department of Homeland Security. These voluntary communications are exempt from the Freedom of Information Act and unavailable to regulators to enforce public safety protections.

The Sensitive But Unclassified (SBU) provision of the Homeland Security Act establishes a new category of semi-secret "sensitive but unclassified" information. Interpreted broadly, this provision allows the President to restrict almost any governmental information with little or no review, including information already made public under other laws. The procedures for restricting information will burden state and local officials, including health professionals, with secrecy agreements that prevent them from informing the public and receiving public pressure to fix problems.

Data Quality Act
In December 2000, the Data Quality Act passed without congressional debate as a last minute addition to an unrelated spending bill. The Act lets stakeholders challenge the quality of data that agencies use to write reports warning of public health hazards, or that underlie protective regulations. Each challenge must be met with an agency response, causing burdens that could delay protective rules or prevent information from reaching the public.

OMB-Watch has documented dozens of unwarranted and exaggerated data quality challenges from industries. For example, the Salt Institute challenged information from the Department of Health and Human Services that suggests lower salt intake can help reduce high blood pressure. Visit to see more data quality challenges.

White House Secrecy Guidelines
In April 2003 the White House proposed its most recent 'Bulletin on Peer Review and Information Quality' that adds more layers of review to existing peer review guidelines for scientific studies that support government policies. The guidance allows flagrant industry conflicts of interest on peer review panels that involve "highly influential scientific information." As a result, industries will have more opportunities to hold up public health protections by challenging supporting scientific information. The White House backed away from requiring agencies to seek its approval before warning the public about emergencies such as mad cow disease, drug reactions, or imminent health hazards, but only after strong objections from the scientific community.

Secrecy Hits Home
Stories of secrecy affecting peoples' basic right-to-know about environmental and health concerns are emerging from across the country as Bush administration secrecy policies trickle down into state and government disclosure decisions. For example:

Floyd County, Va. resident Joseph McCormick discovered plans to run a high-volume natural gas pipeline through his community. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission denied him previously public information on the proposed pipeline route that he needed to educate and organize his neighbors. At least 213 people have been killed and 837 injured in more than two thousand natural gas pipeline incidents in the United States in the past 10 years, according to U.S. News and World Report.

A water utility in Fairfax County, Va. denied maps and contamination inventories included in 'Source Water Assessments" (SWAs) to local government officials in neighboring Loudon County, who were seeking the information to develop a water resources protection plan for their county. While states and utilities must consider security issues when dealing with sensitive information, SWAs are critical to drinking water protection. SWAs enable communities to understand sources of pollution, to make the case for better source water protection, and to participate effectively at watershed planning meetings.

A citizen's group in Aberdeen, Md. had to resort to the courts to regain access to maps held by the Army that detail the location of water contamination in neighborhood drinking water wells. The conflict came after Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, issued a memo instructing DOD employees to protect "sensitive but unclassified information" that could be "compiled to reveal sensitive conclusions." These new DOD restrictions are colliding with citizens' right-to-know about environmental contamination.

The Department of Justice has denied citizens access to information on chemical plant safety by failing to set up appointments for citizens that wish review chemical accident data. The data informs communities whether they are in harms way from potential chemical plants accidents. Hiding this information reduces the pressure that the public can bring to bear on facilities to make plant operations safer.

Wednesday, June 16, 2004

Everybody says 'Bush MUST GO!'

26 Ex-U.S. Diplomats Urge Bush's Ouster

Wednesday June 16, 2004 7:16 PM
Associated Press Writer

WASHINGTON (AP) - A group of 26 retired U.S. diplomats and military officers said Wednesday that President Bush should be voted out of office in November for damaging U.S. national security interests and America's standing in the international community.

``Today we see that structure crumbling under an administration blinded by ideology and a callous indifference to the world around it,'' said Phyllis Oakley, former assistant secretary of state for intelligence and research. ``Never before have so many of us felt the need for a major change in the direction of our foreign policy.'' ......

"Our security has been weakened," the former ambassadors and four-star commanders said in a statement read at a packed Washington news conference.

"Never in the two and a quarter centuries of our history has the United States been so isolated among the nations, so broadly feared and distrusted."....

Retired Diplomats, Military Commanders Fault Bush's Leadership
Administration Unable to Handle Global Leadership, Former Ambassadors, Generals Say
By Peter Slevin
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, June 16, 2004; 2:33 PM

former U.S. ambassador to Saudi Arabia Chas Freeman criticized a "post 9/11 atmosphere of hysteria."

"I think we will in time come to be very ashamed of this period in history," Freeman said,"and of the role some people in the administration played in setting the tone and setting the rules.".....

Read the statement and the background
Diplomats and Military Commanders for Change

Friday, June 11, 2004

Truth will out!... Someday?

What will history really say about Ron Reagan? That he dumped the legacy of Lincoln and brought the Dixie-crats over by making crypto-racism a plank in the Republican platform? That he dumped the Trust-busting legacy of Teddy Roosevelt and made crony-capitalism a Republican goal?

Gorby certainly doesn't think Ronnie won the cold-war.

[It's nice to see that some editors have found their guts. Note that this article is in the "Politics > Special Reports > Ronald Reagan 1911-2004" section. ]
Gorbachev: 'We All Lost Cold War'

By Robert G. Kaiser
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, June 11, 2004; Page A01
...The changes he wrought in the Soviet Union, from ending much of the official censorship to sweeping political and economic reforms, were undertaken not because of any foreign pressure or concern, Gorbachev said, but because Russia was dying under the weight of the Stalinist system. "The country was being stifled by the lack of freedom," he said. "We were increasingly behind the West, which . . . was achieving a new technological era, a new kind of productivity. . . . And I was ashamed for my country -- perhaps the country with the richest resources on Earth, and we couldn't provide toothpaste for our people." ...

Wednesday, June 09, 2004

power of pride-international mystery

i have always wondered what the hell this bumper sticker was was good to hear someone so eloquently ask the question.........

G.I. Joe in Ontario
The Puzzling Power of Pride
I was driving through Canada the other day, a fact that in itself will leave some Republicans shocked, when I was passed by a white sedan with two "Power of Pride" bumper stickers on it. These bumper stickers are quite common because they've been distributed for free by large businesses to customers of all kinds. In the United States, you'd have to never leave your house not to have seen one of them. The design is simple, with the phrase "Power of Pride" sitting above a graphic of a waving American flag.

I'm mentioning this particular sighting of the "Power of Pride" bumper stickers because of the particular context in which they appeared: in Canada, on a car with Ontario license plates on it. Here was a Canadian, driving around Canada displaying the American flag along with references to power and pride.

What could it mean?

It could mean that this Canadian was Proud to be a citizen of the United States. The implication of this would be that there are Canadian secessionists who believe that they live in the United States, or that they ought to. Or, it could be that Canada really is, as all American tourists comment, not really a foreign country at all. Or, it could suggest that the driver of the car was delusional, believing that she was in the United States even though her car was clearly licensed in Canada.

As I watched the strangely decorated Canadian bumper driving past, I was forced to reconsider the meaning of the phrase "Power of Pride". It occurred to me that this phrase might not necessarily be meant as a compliment to the United States. Neither power nor pride is essentially a good thing. Power can be applied toward good ends, and pride can be a justifiable result of remarkable deeds. On the other hand, power can just as easily come in the form of abuse, and pride is often referred to as a form of arrogance. So, it may be that the Canadian driver I saw was engaged in a critique of the arrogant abuse of the international standards by the United States.

Really, "Power of Pride" is an awful phrase to put on a bumper sticker, if you want to make a strong and clear statement. Are we meant to understand that the driver is saying "I believe in the power of pride", or simply observing that "There is power in pride"? Combine this ambiguity with the visual image representing United States nationality, and the confusion grows stronger. Is the intended message supposed to be that "The United States is powerful because it is prideful" or that "The United States exercises power in a prideful way"?

Adding to the conflict of these counter-messages is the odd fact that the owner of this car chose to post two of these identical bumper stickers right next to each other. Imagine for a minute that you are standing on a sidewalk in a small town southwest of Toronto and some Canadian holding an American flag comes up to you and says, "Power of pride. Power of pride." What are you to make of this strange behavior? Does the repetition suggest a plural, or that the first statement is some kind of modifier on the second statement? Is there a message that we are supposed to get from seeing two of these bumper stickers together that we would not get if we only saw one?

It seemed to me that the Canadian United States nationalist felt some kind of insecurity in posting just one "Power of Pride" bumper sticker, as if she assumed that the message would not be believed unless it were repeated, in effect saying, "No. Really. I mean it. Honest."

Of course, this is all assuming that the "Power of Pride" bumper stickers were actually meant to mean anything. The more I think about it, the clearer it seems to me that this Canadian driver must have picked up a couple of free bumper stickers to solve the unfortunate problem that there are a lot of identical looking white sedans in Canadian parking lots. Putting a couple of silly stickers on the tail end of her vehicle must have been her way of overcoming an easily distractible mind.

No other explanation makes sense.

Monday, June 07, 2004

Somebody needed to say it - and Greg has said it well!


Sunday, June 6, 2004
by Greg Palast

You're not going to like this. You shouldn't speak ill of the dead. But in this case, someone's got to.

Ronald Reagan was a conman. Reagan was a coward. Reagan was a killer.

In 1987, I found myself stuck in a crappy little town in Nicaragua named Chaguitillo. The people were kind enough, though hungry, except for one surly young man. His wife had just died of tuberculosis.

People don't die of TB if they get some antibiotics. But Ronald Reagan, big hearted guy that he was, had put a lock-down embargo on medicine to Nicaragua because he didn't like the government that the people there had elected.

Ronnie grinned and cracked jokes while the young woman's lungs filled up and she stopped breathing. Reagan flashed that B-movie grin while they buried the mother of three.

And when Hezbollah terrorists struck and murdered hundreds of American marines in their sleep in Lebanon, the TV warrior ran away like a whipped dog … then turned around and invaded Grenada. That little Club Med war was a murderous PR stunt so Ronnie could hold parades for gunning down Cubans building an airport.

I remember Nancy, a skull and crossbones prancing around in designer dresses, some of the "gifts" that flowed to the Reagans -- from hats to million-dollar homes -- from cronies well compensated with government loot. It used to be called bribery.

And all the while, Grandpa grinned, the grandfather who bleated on about "family values" but didn't bother to see his own grandchildren.

The New York Times today, in its canned obit, wrote that Reagan projected, "faith in small town America" and "old-time values." "Values" my ass. It was union busting and a declaration of war on the poor and anyone who couldn't buy designer dresses. It was the New Meanness, bringing starvation back to America so that every millionaire could get another million.

"Small town" values? From the movie star of the Pacific Palisades, the Malibu mogul? I want to throw up.

And all the while, in the White House basement, as his brain boiled away, his last conscious act was to condone a coup d'etat against our elected Congress. Reagan's Defense Secretary Casper the Ghost Weinberger with the crazed Colonel, Ollie North, plotted to give guns to the Monster of the Mideast, Ayatolla Khomeini.

Reagan's boys called Jimmy Carter a weanie and a wuss although Carter wouldn't give an inch to the Ayatolla. Reagan, with that film-fantasy tough-guy con in front of cameras, went begging like a coward cockroach to Khomeini pleading on bended knee for the release of our hostages.

Ollie North flew into Iran with a birthday cake for the maniac mullah -- no kidding --in the shape of a key. The key to Ronnie's heart.

Then the Reagan roaches mixed their cowardice with crime: taking cash from the hostage-takers to buy guns for the "contras" - the drug-runners of Nicaragua posing as freedom fighters.

I remember as a student in Berkeley the words screeching out of the bullhorn, "The Governor of the State of California, Ronald Reagan, hereby orders this demonstration to disperse" … and then came the teargas and the truncheons. And all the while, that fang-hiding grin from the Gipper.

In Chaguitillo, all night long, the farmers stayed awake to guard their kids from attack from Reagan's Contra terrorists. The farmers weren't even Sandinistas, those 'Commies' that our cracked-brained President told us were 'only a 48-hour drive from Texas.' What the hell would they want with Texas, anyway?

Nevertheless, the farmers, and their families, were Ronnie's targets.

In the deserted darkness of Chaguitillo, a TV blared. Weirdly, it was that third-rate gangster movie, "Brother Rat." Starring Ronald Reagan.

Well, my friends, you can rest easier tonight: the Rat is dead.

Killer, coward, conman. Ronald Reagan, good-bye and good riddance.

Greg Palast is author of the New York Times bestseller, The Best Democracy Money Can Buy.

Thursday, June 03, 2004

thought for the day

"Back in 2000 a Republican friend warned me that if I voted for Al Gore and he won, the stock market would tank, we'd lose millions of jobs, and our military would be totally overstretched. You know what? I did vote for Gore, he did win, and I'll be damned if all those things didn't come true"......James Carville